Thursday, November 09, 2017

The CoffeeBar Kid interviews author Sebastian Hampson

Sebastian Hampson has studied and written on the history of modern art and urban design. He has lived in Europe and the United States and is currently based in Auckland, New Zealand. His first novel, The Train to Paris, was published by Text publishing and received critical acclaim.
His new novel is a profound insight about the complexity of human relationships, morality and the transformative power of art, set in New York’s glittering world of galleries and high-end fashion.

Click HERE to listen to the interview.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Sad day for Wellington with the end of the much loved Trolley buses :(

After 68 years Wellington's much loved Trolley buses tool their final ride yesterday and the power to the network was shut down today in readiness for dismantling the 50 km network of cables. A job that will take a year and cost approximately $34 Million. We were the only city in Oceania to have a Trolley bus network.

This is a shameful and short sighted decision by the Greater Wellington Regional Council in a city that prides itself in being an environmental leader in clean, Green New Zealand. As of today we now have at least 40 more diesel buses on the road and a hope that we might get some hybrid buses next year (are they designed yet?) when we had 60 perfectly good 100% electric ones already running, many only 8 years old. Other countries are powering forward with positive climate change action and with this step we're going backwards. Our household has made a big difference by switching to a 100% electric car (apparently driving it for 6 months saves the planet more than my family recycling for the rest of their lives) but it feels like Greater Wellington have just cancelled out that effort. Even more so when I hear that we in NZ have the 2nd highest percentage of renewable electricity of any major country at 90% (behind Norway).

RIP our clean, quiet, iconic buses...please upgrade the trolleys to battery power ASAP.
Go Wellington Trolley Bus

Groove Book Report - Imagine - Illustrated by Jean Lennon (with a foreword by Yoko Ono Lennon) - Allen & Unwin - $27.99

This book is produced in association with Amnesty International

Imagine all the people living life in peace.
You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.
I hope some day you'll join us, and the world will be as one.

Join one little pigeon as she sets out on a journey to spread a message of tolerance around the world. Featuring the lyrics of John Lennon’s iconic song and illustrations by the award-winning artist Jean Jullien, this poignant and timely picture book dares to imagine a world at peace. Imagine will be published in partnership with human rights organization Amnesty International.

"This book is about peace," goes the afterword, " which helps us enjoy a happy and safe life.  For peace to flourish, we need to treat everyone kindly, equally and fairly."

In the age of Trump, North Korea, Australian cruelties to refugees, BREXIT and ISIS this book offers the simplest of please.  It is, of course, John Lennon's immortal lyrics, written as part of his own peace movement.  The illustrations are simple, too.  Because they want to convey simple messages.  Using the analogy of friendship between birds, Jean Lennon's pictures break away from racial stereo types and potential cultural barriers.  As far as I know birds are not considered to be offensive in any language or culture.  For each stanza, there is a new picture.  Hugs, smiles and the image of a dove, or collection of doves holding an olive branch is universal.

Jean Jullien

Illustrator Jean Jullien was born Cholet and lived in Nantes before moving to London in his twenties to study at the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design and the Royal College of Art.  His work has appeared in publications including Télérama, Le Nouvel Observateur, The New York Times and The Guardian, and his clients have included the Pompidou Centre, Yale University and Nike.

More importantly, he also was involved with  Peace for Paris.  In the wake of the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, Jullien created a variation of a classic peace symbol invoking the Eiffel Tower.  The image swiftly went viral via social media and news coverage of worldwide sympathies and affirmations of solidarity against terrorism.

He has illustrated several books for children, including Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise by Sean Taylor, and is the creator of This Is Not a Book, named a Best Picture Book of 2016 by Publishers Weekly. Visit him online at

John Lennon and Yoko Ono co-produced the original song and album of the same name with Phil Spector. Recording began at Lennon's home studio at Tittenhurst Park, England, in May 1971, with final overdubs taking place at the Record Plant, in New York City, during July.

One month after the September release of the LP, Lennon released "Imagine" as a single in the United States; the song peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 and the LP reached number one on the UK chart in November, later becoming the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed album of Lennon's solo career. Although not originally released as a single in the United Kingdom, it was released in 1975 to promote a compilation LP and it reached number six in the chart that year.

The song has since sold more than 1.6 million copies in the UK; it reached number one following Lennon's murder in December 1980. In 1985, the Central Park Conservancy memorialised a portion of the park in honour of Lennon, called Strawberry Fields, with a mosaic that reads "Imagine".

 Shortly before his death, Lennon acknowledged Ono's role in inspiring the concept behind "Imagine"; as of June 2017, plans were underway to ensure that she receives a co-writing credit for the song.  in this book, Ono gives us a short introduction.  "Imagine.  Together we can make peace happen.  Then the world truly will live as one."

BMI named "Imagine" one of the 100 most-performed songs of the 20th century. The song ranked number 30 on the Recording Industry Association of America's list of the 365 Songs of the Century bearing the most historical significance.

It earned a Grammy Hall of Fame Award and an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.  A UK survey conducted by the Guinness World Records British Hit Singles Book named it the second best single of all time, while Rolling Stone ranked it number three in their list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Since 2005, event organisers have played it just before the New Year's Times Square Ball drops in New York City.

Dozens of artists have performed or recorded versions of "Imagine", including Madonna, Stevie Wonder, Joan Baez, Elton John and Diana Ross. Emeli Sandé recorded a cover for the BBC to use during the end credits montage at the close of the 2012 Summer Olympics coverage in August 2012. "Imagine" subsequently re-entered the UK Top 40, reaching number 18.

Groove Book Report - Swan Lake - by Anne Spudvilas - $32.99

A magnificent visual retelling of the classic ballet story from a much-loved, award-winning illustrator.

'Anne Spudvilas is one of Australia's most talented visual artists. Her illustrations are full of emotion and beauty. Anne's Swan Lake is simply enchanting and sublime!' Li Cunxin, author of Mao's Last Dancer and Artistic Director, Queensland Ballet

The iconic ballet Swan Lake, the tragic love story of a princess transformed into a swan by an evil sorcerer, has been revered for more than a century. In this atmospheric adaptation, Anne Spudvilas reimagines the classic tale of passion, betrayal and heartbreak in the dramatic riverscape of the Murray-Darling.

My girls, all three, love Ballet - at least the idea of it.  The older two have both been to professional productions and both were mesmerised as the by the figures twirled and glided across the stage.  The music, the costumes and the wonderful sense of occasion.  Say what you will about Ballet but you can't deny the spectacle of a show done well.

Author and illustrator, Anne Spudvilas grew up, just like my daughters, entranced by Ballet.  As a young girl she read Stories of the Ballets by Gladys Davidson, especially the story of Swan Lake as retold in the ballet by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.  So it is no surprise that Spudvias' illustrations as so magical, dark, haunting and beautiful.  For anyone reading you can't help getting something of a physical reaction and a little bit of a shiver running up your spine.

Friday, October 27, 2017

NZ Bookshop Day 2017 Saturday 28 October.

NZ Bookshop Day 2017  'Bookshops are gateways to a thousand other worlds, ten thousand imaginations and a million possibilities,’ wrote Marcus Hobson in his winning Love Letter to your Bookshop entry last year.   Discover these worlds at your community bookshop this NZ Bookshop Day, no matter where you are in New Zealand on Saturday 28 October.

What's happening in Wellington

Unity Books, Wellington
Explore and win NZ books
Visit Unity Books Wellington on NZ Bookshop Day and take part in the 'Explore and win competition'.  You get to select your chosen NZ book title and author, your name and email address to go in the draw. This competition is open only on NZ Bookshop Day, and the draw will take place on  Tuesday, the 31st of October.
Also, Tom Scott will be in-store at 11am to celebrate NZ Bookshop Day. Get your copy of his fantastic new book Drawn Out, A Seriously Funny Memoir for Tom to sign and go into the draw to win a Tom Scott original drawing.

Vic Books, Kelburn
Storytime extravaganza
Vic books Kelburn are doing a storytime extravaganza with a specially constructed  theatre inside the store. There will be children's performances and a more performative version of Baz MacDonald's story time.

The Children's Bookshop, Kilbirnie 
Get to The Children's Bookshop at 11am for storytime for preschoolers up to age 7, featuring Sacha Cotter and Josh Morgan (Keys; The Marble Maker) and Ruth Paul (Dinosaur Dad, Stomp, My Meerkat Mum), as well as Sarah Grundy (The Curious Ar-chew).
From 5pm to 7pm they are hosting the book launch for How Not to Stop a Kidnap Plot by Suzanne Main, published by Scholastic NZ.
On Sunday 29 October at 10am, they will host the book launch for The Longest Breakfast, by Jenny Bornholdt and Sarah Davis.

Take Note, Tawa
Take Note Tawa is celebrating all month with 'Your Book Pick & Purchase Competition'. You can go into a draw to win by filling in an entry card telling us why you picked and purchased the book (one entry per book purchased). This will be drawn on Saturday 28th October at close of business. The competition runs along aside the 'Love Your Bookshop competition' at our store.
NZ Bookshop Day is also the Tawa community day, called Spring into Tawa 2017. Come in-store that day and chat to our staff, who will be celebrating all dressed up in book/character themes. We have a prize draw for correct entries, which must include at least one correct book or character.

Ekor Bookshop & Cafe
Ekor's staff will be treating their wonderful customers to a little day of Scandinavian wonders! Beautiful Scandinavian books (some Scandinavian books in their original languages) and food - including our ever popular Moomin range and traditional hot Danish pancakes made specially on the day by our resident Danish Ekorian, special cold Flat Whites on sale one day only from People's Coffee, with the best Swedish barista in town, Lars Bringzen serving up wonderful coffees all day, and gifts from all over Scandinavia!

Come and experience a little Scandinavian magic for NZ Bookshop Day at Ekor Bookshop & Cafe!

Millwood Gallery, Thorndon
An Afternoon with Stephen Daisley
Millwood Gallery is hosting Stephen Daisley at 3:30 pm, a special opportunity to hear the current Creative New Zealand Randell Cottage Writing Fellow read. In 2016 Stephen won the inaugural Ockham Book Award for Fiction with his novel Coming Rain and, in Australia, Stephen won the Prime Minister's Literary Award for Fiction for his first novel Traitor.

Other bookshops celebrating in Wellington include Marsden Books, Karori and Arty Bees Books Ltd, with event details to be confirmed.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Fats Domino has died at 89 years old.

Fats Domino, one of the most influential rock and roll performers of the 1950s and 60s, has died aged 89.  The American rock and roll artist was best known for his songs Ain't That A Shame and Blueberry Hill. The New Orleans singer sold more than 65 million records, outselling every 1950s rock and roll act except Elvis Presley.

His million-selling debut single, The Fat Man, is credited by some as the first ever rock and roll record. An official from New Orleans coroner's office confirmed the death, which was earlier announced by Domino's daughter to a local television station.

Fats Domino - whose real name was Antoine Domino Jr - was one of the first rhythm and blues artists to gain popularity with a white audience and his music was most prolific in the 1950s.
Domino had a string of number ones and more than 30 top 40 hits.

His music is also credited as a key influence on artists during the 1960s and 70s.

Elvis Presley referred to Fats Domino as "the real king of rock n roll" and Paul McCartney reportedly wrote the Beatles song Lady Madonna in emulation of his style.
In 1986 he was among the first inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but by his later life Domino would no longer leave his Louisiana hometown - not even to accept the award.
New Orleans-born musician and actor Harry Connick Jr is among those who have paid tribute to Domino on Twitter, saying he had "helped pave the way for New Orleans piano players".
Antoine "Fats" Domino Jr was born in New Orleans on 26 Feb 1928, the son of a violinist. His parents were of Creole origin, and French Creole was spoken in the family.
He was musically inclined from an early age and learned piano from his brother in law, the jazz banjo player, Harrison Verrett.

He was given his nickname by bandleader Bill Diamond for whom he was playing piano in honky-tonks as a teenager. He said the youngster's technique reminded him of two other great piano players, Fats Waller and Fats Pichon. Domino left school at the age of 14 to work in a bedspring factory by day, and play in bars by night. He was soon accompanying such New Orleans luminaries as Professor Longhair and Amos Milburn. In the mid-1940s, he joined trumpeter Dave Bartholomew's band, and the two co-wrote Domino's first hit The Fat Man. Suddenly, the New Orleans sound became popular nationwide.

The Groove Book Report: 'A Short History of New Zealand Wars' by Gordon McLauchlan Penguin, $29.95

Following the ongoing success of A Short History of New Zealand, Great Tales of New Zealand History and Great Tales of Rural New Zealand - all reprinted and still going strong - Gordon McLauchlan has turned his masterful storytelling skills to one of the most important periods in this country's history. Published to coincide with New Zealand's first national day commemorating the wars on 28 October, this insightful and accessible book will be of interest to New Zealanders wanting to find out more about the New Zealand wars and the Maori struggle over land and political power (rangatiratanga) and their consequences for our country without having to wade through heavy tomes

Gordon McLauchlan was born in Dunedin and is well known to many New Zealanders as a tv presenter, radio announcer, journalist and author.

His latest book, A Short History of New Zealand Wars, has also been published in time for October 28, the first annual day of commemoration of the New Zealand land wars. His book is an authentic but informal and personal history.

He acknowledges up front that many New Zealanders of his 'era' were almost totally unaware of the significant moments of our own history.  He also notes that while that was the case most school kids back then could tell you the origins of WWI and the order of kings of queens in the English monarchy.  Yet they had no clues about the battle of Gate Pa or the significance of the first use of trench in the battles around Ruapekapeka.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Kea wins Bird of the Year

The kea has been crowned New Zealand's Bird of the Year after two weeks of heated campaigning.

It is the first time the endangered, large, green mountain parrots which are known for their curiosity and intelligence, have won the competition.

The kererū came in second with 4572 votes, followed by the kākāpō with 2554 votes.

Team Kea co-campaigner Laura Young said: "We literally went out to every single person we knew and asked them to vote kea. We lobbied hard to get votes up on the first day, which I think made a big difference."

No captionThe kea has been crowned New Zealand's Bird of the Year. Photo: supply
She said the competition did not come without surprises for Team Kea, who were on the "campaign trail" while monitoring the birds in Kahurangi National Park, with no reception.

"One day we climbed to the top of Mt Patriarch to get reception and check in on the campaign. We saw that the Green Party had made an official announcement in support of the kererū, so we used what little phone battery we had left to hit back at them with a retaliation video."

"We're proud to say we ran a peaceful campaign compared to many other birds. There were no attack politics from Team Kea, we just did our own thing and went at it hard."

Team Kea hopes the Bird of the Year title will raise awareness for kea and all of New Zealand's birds, many of which are threatened with extinction.

There are only 3000 - 7000 kea remaining.

"Everyone needs to see how vulnerable kea are in the wild. We often hear of them hanging out in car parks, being cheeky and stealing things, but don't realise they are in decline. You can't not love them."

The competition raised over $10,000 in donations to help protect and restore New Zealand's wildlife and wild places and attracted over 50,000 votes from people who were asked to vote for their favourite species.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Nice Work NZ First! Congratulations to the Labour and Green Party's!

Most of us agree that we wake up this morning to a better future for New Zealand with Winston Peters and the NZ First party deciding to form a coalition government with Labour and the Greens.

Jacinda Adern is now our Prime Minister elect, our first Labour Prime minister in 9 years.
With a mix of policies from the 3 party's most Kiwi's will be better off financially, more people will be able to buy their own house, the environment will be better cared for and we'll be doing a bit more of our fair share towards slowing climate change...and lots more.

A reminder to anyone worried about the change: Last time they were in power, Labour made a surplus every one of the 9 years in Goverment apart from the year they took power whereas National has had a deficit for each of the 9 years they were in power except 2017.

A final thought: In NZ in the end, lying still doesn't pay.