Hard News by Russell Brown

Festive Seasoning

So another festive weekend passes, it's Monday and the Christmas deadlines are piling up. The annual Dubwise Arrangements Christmas party was held on Saturday and, as ever, appeared to be a raging success. I can't maintain a forward diary or a decent contacts book and my desk is usually a mess, but by golly I can organise food and entertainment.

New Zealand won a cricket test while the party was in progress (on the third day of a match interrupted by rain and a feeble attempt at political protest), which was a pleasant surprise. The Herald is touting Shane Bond's stunning inswinger to dismiss Rahul Dravid as an early contender for ball of the century, which might be going a bit far, but it was certainly bloody useful. It takes a special bit of cricket to make a batsman as good as Dravid look like a plonker.

Some of us headed off to see DJ Qbert after the party. Well after, as it happened. I'm old enough to remember when the pubs shut at 10pm on weekdays (or, in Wellington, every day). You could get along and see a gig and be home in time for the late news and a cup of cocoa. You'd be turfed out of the Windsor Castle at 11pm on a Friday and start looking for parties. Not any more: Qbert, the headliner on the Scratch Tour, took the St James stage at 2.20am Sunday morning.

Just as well he was worth the wait. All the hype is justified: he's a freak, as technically precise as any classical musician and well clear of his turntablist peers anywhere in the world. The curious thing is, relatively few people danced; it was so much more compelling to just gaze up at the giant screen behind him, where cameras by his hands, above his head and even attached to his head turned the manipulation of faders and turntables into a spectacle of its own.

The crowd wasn't all revved up on Red Bull, of course, although there didn't seem to be that twitchy, P-smoking vibe that makes certain city nightclubs so creepy. Speaking of which, a reader drew my attention to this story on the rise of crystal methamphetamine in the alternative Wellington student mag, Lucid. It's informative and, given that it was published 18 months ago, quite prophetic.

Having dodged most of the seasonal ligs on offer, I'm excited that Fiona and I have landed tickets to the "Auckland premiere" of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers at the Civic on Wednesday night. Presumably we were invited because somebody rich and famous from the America's Cup crowd couldn't make it, but hey, it's a bit of fun. I'm guessing we'll be seeing the whole thing over again at the weekend, when the boys have finished school for the year and are fully expecting to see the movie at the earliest opportunity.

Nice to see Stephen Regelous, the creator of the Massive crowd-simulation software for the film, get a write-up in Wired.