Category Archives: wise comment.

Less is more if light on your feet

American ballerina Gillian Murphy
is part of an allegory for independent authors
I LIKE this story because I see it as an analogy of how to make a success of independent writing.
Throughout the world arts organisations are struggling as we seem to be near the bottom of the sponsorship – government and private – cycle.
So how does a ballet company survive let alone thrive in a New Zealand city such as Wellington with a population of 364,000 people. A tiny population by city standards but it gets worse.
Here are the priorities of the Wellington Regional Plan 2010-2012

The priorities for 2010 – 2012 are
  • more people get into work and stay in work
  • more children are safe
  • more young people stay on track
  • reduced reoffending by young people
  • improved quality of life for older people
  • communities are better able to support themselves.
Notice any mention of fostering the arts? No!
Well what does the government see as the backbone of the Wellington economy?
Our economy
The key industries and employers in the region are:
  • public administration and safety
  • professional, scientific and technical services
  • healthcare and social assistance
  • education and training
  • retail trade.
Any mention of the arts or even entertainment? No!
A born-again Oliver Cromwell would seem to fit in here.
But perhaps it is the government not the arts community of Wellington which is out of touch with reality.
In November American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Gillian Murphy will perform in  a new staging of Giselle,  co-produced by Wellington based Royal New Zealand Ballet artistic director Ethan Stiefel and internationally acclaimed principal dancer of The Royal Ballet, John Kobborg.
The production will be in the home of the Royal New Zealand Ballet, St James Theatre Wellington.  The London Evening Standard newspaper described the RNZB as “a text book case of how a small company can defy the debilitations that size usually brings.”
For the Standard, bigger is not more secure. Bigger is more precarious.
Notice also tha,t for the NZRB, smaller does not prohibit international co-operation.
How does the company do it?
For a start, the St James Theatre  was designed for vaudeville. Maybe the Cromwell ruin song was performed there. As a music hall, the St Jimmy is lower and broader than usual ballet houses and it enhances intimacy between performers and audience.
St James Theatre is surrounded by bars and restaurants, many of which offer special pre-theatre dining menus and deals. As an example,  Logan Brown at 192 Cuba St offers a three-course bistro menu for $45 and a $55 ballet package which includes an additional glass of champagne and taxi to theatre. 
The City Life Wellington  Hotel  at 300 Lambton Quay  offers  weekend packages from $179 for a studio room, subject to availability.
The point of this story is not that Asians, Aussies and Kiwis should rush to the season of Giselle though they can book at
Rather it is that indie authors can ci-operate with one another and relatewd industries to makes less more.
Instead of more of the same offer less of the different

What the Dickens: birthday wishes

I FOUND them dull, most of the thousands of words written to mark the 200th birthday of English author Charles Dickens.
It was almost as if he had been re-categorised in history’s library as a somewhat  tedious celebrity rather than an author who used humour, pathos, social observation  and clever word-play to agitate for social reform, especially the reduction of  poverty.

The Christian Science Monitor ran with an Occupy tag-line on the link to its story: Charles Dickens birthday: a 19th century voice for the 99 percent’  Curiously, CSM did not feature the Occupy analogy prominently in the story layout.

No doubt more than one Open Letter was addressed to Dickens, but this from biographer, Claire Tomalin, asks what he would think of our times.She thinks he would be ‘daunted’ by the increasing prison population in an age of decreasing crime

(Personally I think he would give the Occupy Movement a better run than most of his fellow journalists.) LETTER

The Washington Post ran with a defence of Dickensian verbosity. Whatever! WORDSMITH

The National Post had the obligatory ‘Ten things you might not know about Charles Dickens’, proving numbers are more sacrosanct in popular culture today than 200 years ago. TEN

The Los Angeles Times tried to embarrass us by asking how many Dickens novels we have read. (From my experience, the answer for the average newspaper reader would be more than the average newspaper journalist.) BOOKS


Confirming my theory of new media, the most interesting analysis came as a comment to an article in the Times of India.

Here is the comment in its entirety,

Enjoy the Dickensian humanity.


Sid Harth (navanavonmilita) wrote:
I was a born poor, tenth baby. Poverty is not such a big deal in India. More people are poor in India that any other country of the world.

However, I as a poor boy and Charles Dickens, as a celebrity writer, got along just fine. Frankly, Charles tells, according to his writing and subsequent adaptations of his stories, less than what it does to the human spirit.

It must be a fashion in England. Not in India. Poverty existed then, as well as today, side by side with filthy riches.

For instance, the richest man in India, Mukesh Ambani, built a mansion atop a hill. Spent one billion dollars, furniture, decorating and other do-dads, not included, for four members of his family.

I called it, “the most ugly house on the hill.” It is not the modern architecture, I was talking about. It is OK by me. It was his most arrogant placement of that house, practically darkening the houses near his. Moreover, what view he has looking outside of his giant house is no beautiful at all. Slums here. Slums there and slums everywhere.

What Charles Dickens did was to show the miserable conditions of the poor. It shocked the society. If I write a book on poverty, nobody would buy my book.

Sorry Charles.

…and I am Sid