Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Beatles doing poi!

Is it? Could it be? Yes! It is! It's a picture of the Beatles doing poi during their visit to New Zealand, many years ago.

Ok, it's a picture of ONE of the Beatles doing poi. Is that John Lennon? Anybody up on what the beatles looked like when they were young?

We found the picture inside a big museum. Who'd a thought?

North Island and Poi with the Moari

We were able to meet with Bill Nathan the evening we arrived in Wellington (after a very stormy ferry ride.) Bill showed us several videos of traditional poi dancing and told us more about maori poi and the songs and dances that go with it. Apparently the most popular "traditional" songs are actually based on popular western tunes from last century. He says the more traditional compositions often didn't "stick." The Maori seem pretty hip to change.

Upon Bill's invitation, we got up at 5:30am the next morning to go see a "welcoming ceremony," organized to open a special park, begin the International Arts Festival, and to welcome those who have come from afar. The ceremony was quite fun, with much chanting, singing in Moari, and pressing of noses (a maori kiss). Afterwards we got to have a poi jam with Doras, Bill's wife. We were particularly impressed by the "short poi," which is quite rhythmical. The short poi are bounced off the forearms and hands, with complex rhythms. We're now trying to find other Maori to jam with, and performances to see.

More soon...

Arrived in New Zealand...

Yes, that's right, I've been in New Zealand for several days. Internet access has been infrequent and expensive, so this is my first blog.

I met Dan at the airport, and we rendezvoused with Jocelyn at the New Excelsior Hostel in downtown Christchurch. After a couple days of exploring/errands (during which time we saw our first sheep), we rented a car and took off to see some sights. The first exotic New Zealand location: The Moeraki Boulders, halfway down the east coast. All the tour books have incredible pictures of these majestic boulders. They looked like they were the size of houses! We imagined walking through a surreal landscape from a Doctor Zeus book. "The Pool Table of God," we imagined. Off we went.

The drive was a lot of fun, though longer than we expected. We passed time by counting sheep. If you didn't know, New Zealand has the highest sheep-to-people ratio in the world. New Zealand has 4,000,000 people and 40,000,000 sheep. We did our best to count all the sheep we saw. Dan didn't think we were seeing enough sheep to account for 40,000,000. I argued the math that we were.

When we got to the Moeraki Boulders we discovered that it's all part of an evil, government-funded plot to get tourists to tour the east coast. At first we thought we were on the wrong beach, as we could see no huge boulders. A five minute walk took us to a dozen round rocks, waste hight, strewn on the beach. They weren't even really that round. Days, and many jokes later, we decided that we were glad the boulders had been so ridiculously small. "Somewhat impressive" would have been even less interesting. At least this had humor value.

After the boulders we crossed the mountains to check out the west coast, where it mostly rained, often quite heavily. The scenery was still beautiful, and the conversation was superb. Dan and Jocelyn are perfect companions for this trip. We are concocting plans about setting up a poi/art/media shop. Where? Maybe Thailand? Maybe Prague? It's too early to know.

After the West Coast we ventured to Nelson, on the North tip of the South island, where we visited Amanda, who Dan and I met at UberOz. Amanda was great and we had a great time hiking and playing with fire.

Oh, and I've started using flickr.com. To see the entire photo set from the South Island, visit the Flickr New Zealand (with a little poi dancing) set.

Next: The North Island and Maori Poi.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Matt Terry: Spherculist Extrordinaire!

Not sure if you guys have ever visited Spherculism.com, but you should, as soon as it's back up. Spherculism is the brainchild of Matt Terry, one of the most mind-boggling poi arists I have yet to meet. He is the only person who can wibble poi casually. He is one of a very small handful of poi artists truly pushing the frontier of hyperloops. He was at UberOz, and I offer you two short videos of Matt doing hyperloops and wibbles, shot on my little digital camera.

That's Matt in the picture, videotaping Rebecca. Somehow that's the best picture of him that I ended up with...

Travelling with beautiful, poi spinning people

I have to admit: When I look back at all of this in 30 years (here's to hoping), it will most likely be the people not the poi that I remember most fondly. Travelling with Dan, Dom, Yanika, Matt, and Rebecca has been most wonderful.

Oh, and australia is pretty beautiful as well. A note of warning, though: If you're going to go trecking through the jungle when it's raining, don't wear sandals. The raid brings out very hard working little leaches. The good news is that they don't like deet...

UberOz done. Nick tired...

Yes, UberOz is done. For a week now, actually. I'm a little slow on blogging as my computer moments are going into finishing the DVD and getting the new website rolling.

To be sure, UberOz was much fun! A huge, open-air school gymnasiam full of poi and staff spinners. Next time I'll take a video camera for sure, I promise.

Also included: A photo of the HUGE spider that lived just outside Gabe's house, where I stayed during the weekend. Gabe, by the way, is absolutely wonderful :)

Thursday, February 02, 2006

In OzLand, safe and surrounded by silly poi spinners

Ok, so after finishing the retreat, packing up my life, cleaning the house, doing DVD stuff... I spent ten hours on a plane to Tokyo, four hours at the Tokyo airport, another 8 hours to Oz, and was very happy to see Rob when I got off the plane :)

This is a happy place so far. My god it feels good to feel happy. It's hot here and there are all these lovable people frolicking about. Rob, Dan, Dom, Gabe... and many more! The rest arrive this afternoon. I'll hopefully get lots of cool video clips and photos :)