Lottery musical/music lottery in Christchurch

September 27, 2009

   To inspire and nurture a love of music and involvement in music to all aspects of the community.”      Christchurch School of Music Vision 

In the world of musical entertainment most of us are passive spectators these days.

The parlour piano and Sunday night singalongs are faded history. The acoustic guitar and the banjo, like the ukelele, are largely consigned to the dustbin of history, though musical digerati can sing and play along with the Beatles via the latest audibly enhanced and synthesized example of Karaoke’s evolution.

 Good fun but not quite the same-and certainly not nearly as satisfying- as making your own music via Kiwioke and an acoustic guitar or ten. 

I went recently been to the New Zealand Premiere of Leonard and the Lottery Ticket, a wonderful new musical  by former Christchurch music teacher Mark Walton, back temporarily from  across the Tasman.  I also took up a public invitation to join the choir for a one–off performance and, after a one hour’s rehearsal immediately before the performance, I had the exhilarating experience of singing along with a choir of 500 in the Christchurch Town Hall. 

Leonard, a worried man in the tradition of the Kingston Trio, has just been made redundant–a victim of the global economic downturn- when he wins the lottery. Despite what his new found wealth can buy, as illustrated by the crasser Lotto and Big Wednesday ads, Leonard feels empty, sadder and alone with his new riches until he reconnects with the transforming power of music and the fellow feeling of a band, which he is instrumental in equipping.

At 2pm on the day of the premiere there was a public rehearsal for anyone who wanted to sing. There was only time to run through each song two or three times.  At 3pm, as the lights went down, the narrator Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker, walked to the microphone, and the fabulous Christchurch Youth Orchestra conducted by the reassuring Brian Buggy, started to play whilst the choir took a deep breath and prepared to raise the roof.

When the show finished at 3.45 everyone had had a wonderful afternoon of musical fun and discovery. No matter that the size of the crowd outnumbered the audience, which included our young grandchildren.

It was great fun and very satisfying to be conducted by a real conductor who managed to weld and meld genuine choristers, who had had a copy of the music before hand  and a CD, and the rest of us who started from cold and from scratch. Yet with little live rehearsal, to my untutored ear it turned out very well.

Viewing the DVD made by CTV may change my opinion but the audience was certainly enthusiastic and a 45 minute punchy production was a great way to introduce kids to orchestral music and a good storyline with a  point. All this was free, though there was a gold coin collection in aid of Canteen, the teenage cancer support network, to which donations can still be given.*

 Mark Walton  taught music at Cashmere High School in 1974-5 and Bob Parker, now working seven days a week as mayor, (and currently also a lead player in a different inner city musical mystery tour), was a pupil there the decade earlier, before embarking on a broadcasting career.  Both overlapped with my stint on the CHS staff and it was great to join them and the others in this feel good musical experience.

Meanwhile, in Mark Walton’s adopted Lucky Country, which has awarded him the Order of  Australia for his services to music, a fellow Australian who won a $A2 (NZ$2.48) million Lotto prize, avoided claiming his winnings for seven months until last month while he prepared himself mentally if not musically.*

The 48-year-old small businessman discovered his win on January 13, the morning after the draw, but he had been storing the ticket in a tin since then, which, for some when money’s tight, would really take the biscuit .

“There was something about claiming that much money that I wasn’t ready for, I had to get my head around it. I just wanted to prepare myself mentally before I put my hands on it.”  he said.

The winner, who did not want to be identified, said just having the ticket was comforting. At least, unlike Leonard, he gave himself time to adjust.

I wonder if, like him, he’ll take up music seven days a week and join the band? “Music, music, music, music makes you feel just great.”  

Meanwhile, across the Cultural Precinct from the Town Hall to the Christchurch Arts Centre, the proposed site of the less harmonious Music Conservatorium proposed by the University of Canterbury (different from the Christchurch Music School),  the wheel is still in spin.

That is, unless the City Council and the University are just going through the consulting motions.  They are Talking Millions.


Download the words and recorded versions of Leonard and the Lottery Ticket and sing along.








CanTeen  The NZ organisation supporting young people living with cancer.

Kingston Trio – Worried Man – In Color!

    Lyall Lukey 27 September 2009

Key and Letterman-great late showing

September 26, 2009

“…[New Zealand] my favourite country in the world to which I have not  been”.        David Letterman 

On Thursday night’s Late Show with David Letterman  the alphabetical host needed  large prompt cards, the autocue and a very audible assistant.  He still had more miscues than a chalkless (and occasionally clueless) billiards cue. He semed to have something else on his mind.*

 His guest, New Zealand Prime Minister  John Key, a numberman in a former life, just needed the autocue for enumerating  The Reasons You Should Visit New Zealand , counting down from 10. The numerical snooker shots (all black), were carefully set up near each pocket and Key potted them in an affably tradesman-like  fashion, without once missing his cue.

OK, the  lines fed to him by Letterman’s gag writers were not great, but this wasn’t a platform for genuinely genius Kiwi humour of the Conchords kind. Key came across well and delivered in what is a high pressure goldfish bowl.

The Late Show set is trapped in a seventies time warp. Had it been even a nineties Clive James Live show there would have been photos and video clips of the Wonderland Letterman referred to. The focus on the PM and not NZ visuals could have gone either way. Initially a little nervous, his genuine smile and his refusal to take himself too seriously complemented the world weary and wooden  Letterman.

Whether or not viewers remember the PM’s name, the words “New Zealand” and the fluffy fuzzies will spark new neuronal activity in 4 million plus US viewers and flow through to new tourist, convention and business action for New Zealand downstream. This is timely new energy for Key’s Tourism portfolio.

The  “20 hours travel time”  was, of course,  flogged to death.  The USA is as far away from New Zealand as we are from them, but attraction and motivation can overcome the time challenge.  

I recently hosted two NASA visitors who had been persuaded by NASA colleague and futurist Dr Jack Bacon* to detour through Christchurch en route from Houston to Tokyo to attend a high level systems strategies meeting.  Jack had been on our speakers’ circuit a year ago (and a fortnight ago completed another speaking tour here with Kathy) and convinced his colleagues to visit).  All three would endorse No 1 on Key’s top 10 list: “Unlike most of the world, we still like Americans.”

The mix of old and new media messages and this sort of word of mouth endorsement lifts the game up into new levels of business tourism. The 4 minute YouTube clip* gives the promo legs and creates potential links to The Great Kiwi Invite and other  on-line tourist promotion assets.*

Getting on  The Late Show may be an undignified Prime Ministerial pursuit in the eyes of the sniffy, but the 4 minute slot was a great free commercial. It suited Key’s persona and style.  The premeditated sponteneity worked and Key delivered, even if some of the references to Cinnabon and Lohan may have drawn the same bemused and bewildered response among Kiwi viewers, not the Prime Minister’s  prime audience, as tongue in cheek No 5  among Americans: “Get the whanau together, stay in a bach, crack open the chilly bin and slap on your jandals.”   (Cynical exponents of the cheap crack would no doubt say that that’s the only word many would recognise.)

Number 4 was: Visit in the next 30 days, I’ll pick you up at the airport.”  Swapping Cabinet for a cab?  Taxis would be a refreshing change from taxes, but the lead time for most new travellers will be a little longer, so don’t turn the meter on just yet.

Footnote: There’s also a coincidental  bonus (though that word is out of favour in NY while President  Obama is in town).  As well as achieving his main aim purpose of getting on the Late Show early, the PM finds that he can also fit in a flying visit to the UN and do a stand up turn.  He faces a smaller and more challenging audience, especially if Helen Clark slips in, and he’ll get a little less stage time than the 90 minutes the Libyan leader  highjacked the other day, but it’s still worthwhile doing while he’s in town.

Two big bites of the Big Apple and lots of other good video ops like meeting President Obama and being belle of the bell at the New York Stock Exchange!  If he can make it there, He’d make it anywhere, It’s up to you, New York, New York.

To save more travel costs he could even stay with the whanau at the temporary Libyan tent village which has been erected near by, complete with nubile security and,  unlike some hotels, running water. 

However,  if he uses this pipe opener at his UN gig  “Have  you heard the one about how we scotched the rumours about why Kiwi bagpipers were invited to play at Colonel Gaddafi’s  4oth anniversary?”  he  might get a chilly reception. 

 At least no one could accuse him of Brown nosing.


John Key on David Letterman Top 10 List 2009 Sept

The Great Kiwi Invite  

Lyall Lukey 26/9/09

The ABs in Camera and in the Cake Tin. Will it be a photo finish?

September 20, 2009

“Smithy just wanted to try something and just get a bit of a gauge of trying to see  things I’m seeing as play unfolds.”  All Black Dan Carter   

“In a patterning system, like the human brain system, there is no stronger magic that can be used than the magic of repetition.” Michael Hewitt-Gleeson,  School of Thinking 

This is a blog of two halves. I’m starting it before the All Blacks Wooden Spoon test against Australia in Wellington tonight and finishing it after the game ends. Will the fans be baying for the blood of the All Blacks coaching troika or will the rejigged team do enough to prevent the Rugby Union’s stakeholders adopting trenchant Transylvanian tactics?

 Earlier in the week one of the coaches was in the media spotlight for trying out some new technology. According to a Press story by Richard Knowler, Dan Carter was sporting a  camera on his head gear at training in order to feed images back to a laptop for coach Wayne Smith to get a first five eight’s view as to how he reads the game of rugby. 

Apparently it is now commonpace for players to wear GPS chips on their backs to record how far they’ve travelled during training but this is a  new technological twist.

 [TV shots of the dressing rooms-the All Black huddle tight. Hope the forwards can stay this tight on the paddock, especially at scrum time. Cut to the Wallabies coming out onto the ground wearing track suits, something that ABs don’t seem to do, even in cold weather.]                                                                                                                            

 Of course there are much more sophisticated tools for investigating the central nervous system. What rugby cyborgs really need is to be hooked up to mobile neuroscanning equipment to display, in real time, their neurons firing as the brain literally lights  up to  make cranial topographic mapping possible.

 The key is not just the physical peripheral vision of key playmakers but an understanding of the central role the almond-shaped amygdala plays in determining how players respond unconsciously to emotional situations, which is what all sport is really about. Brain explosions are not something that  conventional video cameras can capture and map, though fans have seen a few of these unaided recently.

 The technology would also give interesting feedback from females as they encounter Dan’s AB abs in underwear ads. (-see Blink*)

 To paraphrase School of Thinking Founder Michael Hewitt-Gleeson: the atoms of the brain are  nerve cells or neurons. Each neuron is our fundamental intellectual unit. It is an information-processing system and the basic product of these units is messaging much more amazing than SMS-more expansive and less expensive.

Neurons are perfectly designed messaging systems. They have two ends: a receiving end and a transmitting end (or an input end and an output end). At the receiving end each of your neurons has a convenient tree-like system of dendrites – input wires – which can receive information from other neurons. is a vast network of about 100 billion neurons and each one of your neurons has up to 50,000 connecting wires (dendrites) with synapses. That’s a lot of brainpower.(-see Blink*)

[Now the Battle of Anthems—one sided as usual: All but one of the Australians sing manfully and actually look young and free as they sing in almost joyful strains. The St Patrick’s College Boys Choir sings  a stunning unadorned rendition of the NZ anthem. Several ABs have actually learnt the Maori first verse. Dan Carter does the best, actually opening his mouth and lifting his head up, but most of the others look like ventriloquists. They do come to life during the haka,  Ka mate!  ringing out so clearly you could just about hear it at Te Rauparaha’s old Kapiti Island base.]

Axons are like ‘telegraph wires’ that transmit electrical signals along their own length. At the end of its wire the axon’s electrical signal is transformed into a chemical output – a neurotransmitter.

A neurotransmitter is a package of chemical information which has an effect on the neuron that receives it in much the same way that a fax or an email is a package of information which has an effect on you when you receive it. The way this chemical package effects the neuron receiving it is by causing a change in its electro-chemical activity.

 To Send or Not To Send, That’s the decision says Hewitt-Gleeson. Indecisiveness lingers at the binary divide.

 [The All Blacks start  decisively, with menacing purpose, the ball in hand, not kicked away…but Dan uncharacteristically misses an early penalty quick from a handy possie.  The Aussies have hardly touched the ball in the first 5 minutes… then kick their first penalty opportunity after 8 minutes-and repeat the dose 3 minutes later, a little against the run of play.]

But despite all its intellectual firepower, the malleable, self-organising brain is still slow to change its perceptions of the world.  When new ideas are presented they are always appeared with pre- existing ideas, which are already embedded in the brain.

 This is why most marketing campaigns take much longer than is commonly thought, to change consumers brand perceptions. It follows that marketing campaigns-and maybe rugby strategies and tactics- should not be changed so often. It takes time to develop a new team mindset. Too much chopping and changing causes neurological confusion.

 [Cory Jane scores a brilliant try-catching his own kick and breaking free of outclutched hand, setting the game on fire but it’s  not enough to evince a reaction from the immobile visaged Steve Hansen, who, if he ever loses his day job, could coach aspiring poker players].

Cambridge-based researchers have provide new evidence that the human brain lives “on the edge of chaos”, at a critical transition point between randomness and order.(-see Blink*)

 [The scrums tonight veer more to chaos although the lineouts are more ordered, a distinct improvement on the non-linear shambles of recent games.]

 It is a natural behaviour of the brain to form patterns. Our perception is more than the receipt and processing of sensory images. Wrong thinking can start with mis-perception.  Changing the way we see our world can radically change our behaviour. 

 A  pattern is something that is repeated more often than randomness or chaos. The architecture of a pattern is repetition. That’s why in a patterning-system like the human brain system, repetition is the most powerful learning strategy you can use.

 That’s also why there is a great deal of repetition in any effective training-on the sports field or in the world of work. The critics of “rote learning” fail to understand that repetition helps to build patterns in our brains so it becomes easier for us to use the licence-free necktop software we each come equipped with.

 As Hewitt-Gleeson says: “In a patterning system, like the human brain system, there is no stronger magic that can be used than the magic of repetition….. You can choose your own repetitions…Ever since you were born advertisers and religions have used repetition to program your brain. So, you may as well use it yourself to embrace the patterns that YOU decide are most useful for your own brain. Take charge!” .(-see Blink*)

 [The All Blacks have definitely taken charge. The fulltime score is 33- 6, with 16 unanswererd points in the second half through some great back tries.   Perhaps they used the new technology to plot the GPS coordinates to find their way to the tryline. I’ll need to watch the highlights package to see the bits I missed by looking at the wrong screen.]

In the end, as you might expect,  the game was more of a triumph of teamwork than technology, with the All Blacks taking the cake at the Cake Tin and ending the  Tri Nations season on a high, with several new players earning their rations of hard tack.  Steve Hansen looks positively rapturous and relieved.

After two losses at home this season the late win doesn’t quite qualify as peaking between World Cups.  King Henry and courtiers needn’t worry about getting the chop. The block has been quietly wheeled way and the axe put into storage. Not that there were any unattached likely coaching pretenders in the wings-unless they go for a neurologist and a real psychologist.

Te Rauparaha composed Ka Mate as a celebration of life over death after his lucky escape from pursuing Ngati Maniapoto and Waikato enemies. He had hidden from them in a food-storage pit, and climbed back into the light to see a hairy friend.  

 The All Blacks, some of them also hairy men, will feel a deserved warm glow as they savour what ended up as a decisive victory when it could have been the pits.


 Neurons And Neuro-Transmitters (4:51)   Literally mind-boggling stuff from the Discovery Channel.   Michael Hewitt-Gleeson  School of Thinking  Software for the Brain.

 The human brain is on the edge of chaos  The Cambridge study.

 Dan Carter in his undies   AB’s abs.

  Lyall Lukey 19 September 2009

Easy Rider Phil Goff-Born to be Mild

September 13, 2009

“You have a new leader and he has a different style. No disrespect to Helen, I think that Helen was a great prime minister. I do things somewhat differently.”  Phil Goff

10 years ago National was in disarray and Labour was on the cusp of political victory. This weekend was Labour’s first post-defeat annual party conference. How to capture the media’s-and therefore the public’s- attention when you are still swinging low in the polls?

Hardly a chariot, but the political vehicle of choice was soon plain to see. TV One’s news item* on the conference on Friday featured an anonymous black leather suited rider clambering onto a Triumph motorcycle outside the conference venue and riding into the distance.

 At the end of the news clip the motorcycle returned and the driver’s helmet was removed to show… Darth Vader?… a secret patchwearing gang refugee escaping the Laws of Whanganui?…. no…. Labour Leader Phil Goff, wearing a goofy grin because he was firmly in the saddle.

(Not on a Harley like Winston in 2008, but this was a big step up -or down- from the Heartland Bus. At least Goff displayed more agility than Don Brash managed in 2005 when he climbed into a stock car when he, too was the new leader of main opposition party and keen to shed his Reserve Bank reserve. For his good sportsmanlike pains Brash was put in the media stocks for all to mock.)

The other non-motorcyclists in Friday’s TV item were party members off to the conference most, seemingly, wearing black, open necked shirts– not so much displaying their Destiny as showing their solidarity with the keyless and tieless.

The themes of Labour’s 2009 conference were recant, regroup and reconnect with the people. New Labour president Andrew Little did not want to belittle Labour’s achievements during its  nine years in power but did want to pose the question: “…we might ask ourselves if sometimes in the last nine years, we got the priorities wrong”. This was hardly the breast beating mea culpas of the Russian show trials of the 1930s but it did display a hint of humility in the wake of a near decade of hubris.

 “We are going through a phase of listening to people at the moment, identifying what are the things that really annoyed people, or that people are really unhappy with,” according  to Rimutaka MP Chris Hipkins.

Even if the young MP looks like he’s come down in the last shower, the light bulb-eco-friendly or not- has flicked on at least momentarily.  It is one of the ironies of politics that “listening to the people” is at its most acute when a party has taken a bath or an early shower and is years away from any realistic prospect of inhabiting the corridors of power. 

Easy Rider Goff has had an easy ride into the leader’s seat. Helen Clark’s handy United Nations assignment in New York and and Michael Cullen’s equally well timed resignation led to a pretty smooth political triumph with little noise and less blood on the floor then that  caused  by some of John Key’s Cabinet appointments.

However, the Labour leader is still politically between Rock and a hard place. His exit and re-entry were more about the election cycle than the motorcycle.

The big question is who’s still afraid of Steppenwolf?  Even suited up for a triumphal entry to his first Labour Party conference as leader, Phil Goff was born to be mild*.  Thunderbirds are go now, but how many more years before he’s on his bike- Goff and he’s off?


Born To Be Wild SPOOF

Lyall Lukey 13 September 2009


Gaddafi 40th overshadows WWII 70th

September 3, 2009

O wad some power the giftie gie us To see oursel’s as ithers see us! It wad frae monie a blunder free us. And foolish notion; What airs in dress and gait wad lea’e us, And ev’n devotion! 
To a Louse    Robert Burns

70 years ago today Britain, France, Australia and New Zealand declared war on Germany after its invasion on Poland.

This significant anniversary of the outbreak of World War II has been rather overshadowed by another anniverary in  Libya – one of the key theatres of war in that conflict.  

Many Kiwis were among the Allied forces to see active service at Tobruk, fighting the Germans Afrika Korps over parts of the desert. The  El Alamein offensive, led by Montgomery, was a turning point in the war.

They would have been rather bemused that three score and ten years later, 60 Kiwi Highland pipers and drummers from the lowlands of Canterbury and further afield in Godzone are in Libya as guests of Muammar Gadaffi as he celebrates his 40th anniversary as absolute ruler.

They have been flown, all expenses paid to perform in a midnight military tattoo, complete with heavy woollen tartans and matching burqa for females.  The Colonel obviously decided to scotch any attempts to recruit some real Scots skirlers from, say, Lockerbie, which already suffered a recent reduction of population by one when Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi,  the  Libyan intelligence agent convicted of blowing up the passenger jet Pan Am Flight 103  in 1988, was jetted home to Libya to rapturous welcomes last week, just in time for the big knees up.

A British brass band from south Wales also took part in ceremonies in Tripoli, as did military bands from France, Italy and Australia, while an acrobatic team from Italy’s air force trailed patriotically colour coded contrails, a change from the ordnance on their 19303  flyovers.

It is Ramadan in the Moslem country so alcohol is banned. The overall celebrations, overseen by ubiquitous portraits of the gadfly Gadaffi in a whole range of costumes and attitudes, including one projected by lasers onto a large oil tanker in the Port of Tripoli,  is on the scale of the Beijing Olympics.  No doubt Libyan law enforcers, the military  and the intelligence services will be represented in ratios reminiscent of those Olympics, to protect the public relations patina.

Four decades in office  is a longer tenure than any other current world leader. It seems that banning political parties, except your own, rather helps political longevity, avoids the need to rig elections like Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan and gives you more time to go shopping.

Gaddafi commisioned 250 Special limited edition watches,  each bearing his own  likeness, from Swiss luxury watchmakers Chopard. The move was politically interesting, because Gaddafi was very ticked off at the Swiss because his son Hannibal was recently arrested in Geneva.  Gaddafi actually ordered a complete import embargo on all Swiss goods due to the arrest. Interestingly enough he made an exception for his own timely order, which, with Libya’s black bonanza, would definitely not have been bought on tick.

In another dodgy deal the Scots released the Lockerbie bomber as part of a deal to do with BP and oil and other trade matters, after Hannibal crossed the Alps as part of an official Libyan delegation at trade talks.  In the meantime Gordon Brown has been as acrobatic off-stage as the Italian jets were on it.

 Libya is redolent of history: about 700 BC the Phoenicians settled Tripolitania; the Greeks arrived in 600 BC; the Vandals in 400 BC for a series of away matches, then the Arabs from 600 to 1500 AD. For the 1500 as to the 1900 is Libya, was part of the Ottoman Empire centred in Turkey, before Italy gained control in 1912. The UN declared Libya independent in 1951.

Until the discovery of oil in Libya in 1959, the country was poor, because natural resources were scarce. Today income from oil makes up about 80 per cent of the government’s revenue. It allows the country to import more guns than butter, though these days, in a quest for respectability, fewer arms are recycled to terrorist groups than hitherto.

Liberal Libya is not. He who pays the piper calls the tune, and the Colonel has been calling it for a long time.

 At least Gaddafi has remained a Colonel, almost as well known as Colonel Sanders,  albeit in a splendid bemedalled military fancy dress , trimmed with shoulder brushes and braid, accesorised with trademark luxury dark glasses and other bling, and protected by  a bevy of female bodyguards.  He is not quite in the league of Idi Amin, who selflessly bestowed on himself  a rainbow array of honours and awards and wore so many medals he didn’t need body armour.

I wonder what real VC winner Cantabrian Charles “Pug” Upham thought of Amin,  Gaddafi and other African strongmen who needed their own army to stay in power. The “for King and Country” rhetoric of 1939 would have worn a bit thin in the  North African desert during World War II. 

As New Zealand’s  wartime Long Range Desert Group  covertly covered the wide open tracks of Libyan  desert, who would then have thought that just beneath the surface was black gold sufficient to oil the wheels of  21st century diplomacy for quite a long time?


Gaddafi 40 years in power 

Gaddafi Endorses Obama   Bet the President was pleased about that. 

Afrika Korps in Action – Capture of Tobruk 

Battle of El Alamein Documentry

 Lyall Lukey 3 September 2009