Monday, May 31, 2010

Weta Caves and Cross Dressing Kiwis

It was astounding, unfortunately time was fleeting.

Getting up and out today may have taken a wee longer than usual. There may have been some watching of internet, namely ukulele videos. And there may have been some playing. I am starting to really quite like this monstrous little thing.

Our first stop was to head out to the Weta cave. This is the storefront for the Weta Workshop – the good people who created a number of the props and miniatures for Lord of the Rings. What is a weta? The most terrifying thing you've ever seen. Kiwis think they're cute, or are – at least – not bothered by them. Think of them as giant grasshoppers. Giant huge grasshoppers that can weight up to five quarters in weight (about 28 grams.) And if they're full of eggs, they can weight up to $2.75! That's a big insect.

They crawl around houses, just like cockroaches, but are not hated because they're slow creatures and may scare you, but don't scuttle.

On the plus side they bite, and can jump huge distances. Wait. There's no added benefit.

But here in The Weta Cave (capital T, W, and C – be afraid if someone offers to take you to “a weta cave.” Very different thing, that.) there were props and statues, and pieces of awesome from not only Lord of the Rings (I did take my picture with Gollum.) There were also props from District 9, The Frighteners, and Halo. How glad was I that they didn't have much Halo merch? There was a statue that I kinda sorta wanted though. It's for the best that I do not buy these things.

After walking the store, and seeing all the pretty things they had there, we checked out the movie explaining the shop. They showed how they began, and detailed the story of the Weta Workshop. In one rapid fire clip it looked like they had created a statue of Riff-Raff. But no, I thought, it couldn't be.

Leaving The Cave behind us, we went to a grocery store and picked up some food. A most delicious meal was prepared while I watched Once Were Warriors. This was New Zealand's shame, but also a well regarded film about the native population. Certain sections of it, anyway.

Dinner? Lamb, and salad. Fantastic lamb, and wonderful salad. It's great staying with a friend when you travel. It's amazing staying with a friend who can cook when you travel! And then dishes were put aside, and out the door we rushed.

It was time for Rocky Horror. Fantastic!

As we rushed downtown, and parked in a less than legal (read: 20% tow away chance) and then booked it down to the theatre, the social landscape began to change. There were a lot more people in their underwear. And I'm not just talking about Blanket Man (Wellington's celebrity homeless man – look him up.) There also happened to be a great amount of men dressed in black lingerie.

Stepping into the theatre, I claimed that there were no virgn's here (Angie having talked about how she'd seen the show before.) But, as we stood in the lobby, chatting with a friend of hers, it came to light that she'd never been to a big screen screening of the show. With this shocking revelation, I peeled one of her friend's extra virgin stickers from her and affixed it to Angie.

It's shameful, kids today. The first time I saw a live Rocky screening it changed my life. Everyone who comes into your life adds something here or there, and there was this one person who opened my eyes to live theatre, and wacky events like this. And (as I'm not a drama teacher - sometimes) this really was a great boon.

The pre-show took place on the stage, with staff dressed in their costumes doing terrible things to each other, and discussing rules (don't throw things at the screen!) then then reminded people that there were to be no naked flames. Naked anything else? Well that was o.k. This was Rocky Horror, after all.

With the lights going dark, and the movie beginning we were met first with a trailer (most people didn't catch on. Many virgin's in the crowd today. One of the girls with us had never ever seen the movie before – nor heard anything about it. An experience this would be. Just standing in the lobby seeing everyone in drag must have led to all number of questions.)

I wanted to scream out, “don't feed it after midnight,” as the trailer played. But I kept quiet. Screaming would come later. I said it quietly to much confusion. Apparently most people don't remember the Gremlin's trailer as well as I do. After they said, “don't get it wet,” you'd have thought everyone would be on board though?

How I wish I lived in a city where they played Gremlin's on the big screen. Actually – maybe the Bloor Street cinema, in Toronto, does. I'll have to look into that.

Science Fiction Double Feature begins to play - “and tell us, where to stand...” ON YOUR FEET! I shout out. No one else is talking. Silence. This is only slightly frightening. The entire song passes, and while people sang along to it, they did you yell at it. Therefor I withheld my, “what the [expletive]'s a Triffid?!” comment. My favourite of all shout-outs, if only due to my knowledge of Triffids.

Then when Brad and Janet started talking to each other and no one was yelling, “sult,” or, “asshole,” I really started to wonder just what the live experience would be like here.

And then the rice started flying. Ohh – rice! No longer allowed in Toronto screenings. And then people got behind the yelling.

When the rain poured down, despite my unpreparedness, I pulled out a Tokyo Map from my pack and used it as my newspaper. And I had my headlamp for the guiding light. I was good to go here at Rocky in New Zealand.

And when Rocky started running around after being born, a guy dressed as gold Rocky jumped up on the divide between top and bottom seating sections, running around, pretending to wobble. Rather than being yanked down for safety reasons, they shone the spotlight on him. And that's when I realized just how much I dislike the uber-lawsuit conscious world of Canada. Give me our maple syrup, but keep the safety regulations.

The show progressed to more call-outs, and a brief intermission (where it seemed everyone went and got themselves at least one beer.) The drinks in the theatre led to the girl behind us becoming one of my favourites. She would constantly attempt to say the words to the film, but always three seconds later than they were said on screen. And often wrong.

Then she would talk about how sad it was, and how it changed her life. Finally – which really endeared me – was when, if anyone else had the nerve to speak during the film, she would shush them angrily, and then start up talking again.

Some might have been annoyed by this? But lets be honest – when you come to see it live, you know the film completely even if no sound played (which due to the shouting at the screen, it almost seems like.)

When the final song was sung, and the mansion was transported back to Transsexual, Transylvania, the lights came up. What I beheld was carnage and chaos. Ribbons from hand held fire crackers, and slices of toast, rice, spilled beer – the ground was covered, and I remembered why Toronto banned a number of these items. And yet, there was a beauty is the destruction. A beauty I was glad I didn't have to clean up.

Just before leaving I made my way to the mens bathroom. I thought this would be a good idea, seeing as how, you know, I had to go to the washroom. But as I found it occupied by both men and women snorting coke it seemed prudent that I should just wait until I found a less – occupied – locale.

Back at home, long talks were had to Pink Floyd, where blue mood light cast few shadows. There should have been sage burning, with curly trails of smoke floating through the air. And I should have been sixteen. Ideas were put forward that I'd not considered. Much like learning of the Moa, I was shocked there were ideas and concepts I'd never thought of before.

And then night was how it should be. Peaceful, enchanting, and comfortable. For a while, anyway...

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