Monday, April 18, 2011

The sound of chit chat

I spent significant periods of time on Saturday with two very different groups, for very different reasons and I can tell you they made very different sounds.

From mid-afternoon until around 6pm, I was working at the CBS Arena for The Wiggles concert. As always, it was a great show by the energetic Aussie performers - they were brilliant entertainers when our kids were little and they can still rock the junior crowd (& their parents) with energy that puts the rest of us to shame. And it was a great show for another reason too - after February's shake, the Wiggles donated all remaining tickets for the 3 Chch shows to local residents. Over 6000 were given away, with people waiting hours in the queue for their tickets.

It was a fun afternoon, a chance for families to escape into a magical wonderland that was far removed from the stresses of life in an active earthquake zone. Thousands of kids danced, sang and cheered for 80 minutes, and many of them didn't want to leave after it was done... there were a few pouts and tears on the way out! For about 20-30 minutes after the show ended, the concourse was filled with the excited babble of hyped-up kids desperate to get their hands on some merchandise to take home. Outside was rain and wind and normal life while inside was colour and fun and fantasy.

Then at 5.49pm, when only a handful of audience members were still in the concourse area, we were hit with an aftershock of 5.3 - large enough to make us all stagger sideways a bit and freak out the out-of-towners who aren't used to a jolting planet. Those of us still there working were just thankful that it hadn't hit half an hour earlier when thousands of people were on-site, as that really would have ruined an otherwise enjoyable occasion.

I got a text from my mum soon after which said, "u lot ok? our power is out". It was only at that stage I realised how big it must have been - the rule of thumb is that shakes have to be more than a 5 on the Richter scale to upset the power sub-stations. So I drove home with a small amount of dread, wondering whether or not our power supply had been affected (we're only a few blocks from where my mum lives), all the while noticing that streets and houses quite close to ours were in the dark. But no - we were lucky again - the power was on, although the cable tv and internet was out for a little while (eek!). Both children checked in by text - one from Riccarton and the other from Scout camp near Ashburton - and Mama Bear's maternal instincts were satisfied.

After a quick dinner it was off out again, this time to hear (& join in with) the chit-chat of adults... at the PechaKucha event being held at CPIT. As with any event involving presentations, some were better than others. Although the format (20 slides, 20 seconds each) puts some restraints around the timing, this proved difficult for some and almost impossible for others. Some of the best presentations were on topics such as temporary architecture, temporary uses for empty spaces, and the cost of being boring.

Best practised presenter of the evening was Kaila Colbin, curator of the upcoming TEDxEQChCh event - one that I hope to attend (fingers crossed). She spoke clearly and engagingly about the presenting style of an inspirational talk such as those delivered at TED and TEDx (independent) events around the world. Most of all, Kaila wanted us all to keep thinking of the future because "we will drown if we only focus on our present situation".

Best off-the-cuff speaker of the evening was definitely Rowan Strang, who ended up representing the Harbour Union project. The presenter was supposed to be Ben from The Sitting Room but he was unwell and unable to attend, and the slides would have been pulled from the lineup if no-one had been able to speak to them. As this is one of my favourite current ventures, I was thrilled that Rowan stepped up and took on the challenge. He's one of our recent Film/TV graduates from the NZBS and it turns out that February 22nd was the first day of his new job at The Sitting Room... now he's making a documentary about the process of recording a disaster relief album with borrowed recording gear in a musican's lounge. Best quote of the night also goes to Rowan, who said that "musicians have lady-boy fingers" so the idea of them going out and doing real work, like shovelling silt, was just silly... which is why a tribute album is such a great idea! If you're in the area and keen to check it out, the album release party for the Harbour Union should be on the weekend of 29th/30th April for the Wunderbar re-opening shindig.

Kudos also to Andrew Just & Justin Leadbetter who carried on without missing a beat when an aftershock interrupted their presentation. It's just par for the course these days... the ground jolts, you carry on. <sigh>

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