Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wednesday, May 4, 2011 (Auckland, N.Z.)

OVER THE TOP, TO ANOTHER WAR MEMORIAL: First thing I visited in Auckland was the Auckland Museum, which also is known as the Auckland War Memorial Museum. The heading over the massive entrance (above) looking out over a distant harbor says it all. World War One holds a special place here, but the war-related displays are not limited to that war. There's no lack of other wars that New Zealanders fought in--despite the incredible distances they had to cover on behalf of the British Empire. Under the Roman numerals for the dates 1914-1918 appear these words--all in capital letters, without visible punctuation:
The whole earth is the sepulchre of famous men / they are commemorated not only by columns and inscriptions in their own country / but in foreign lands also by memorials graven not on stone / but on the hearts of men.

One could spend hours there. I spent about two, lingering mostly over the World War One stuff.
I was happy to come across a German hand grenade (right). I had just been reading one blind soldier's account of how he lost his eyesight during the war. He described the event four months after his injury in a narrative that was printed in the New York Times. One of the last things he recalled ever seeing was a German soldier--holding “something that looks strangely like a small soup can with a stick attached to it.” That's about what those grenades indeed looked like.
A delightful surprise elsewhere was "Hillary's Axe" (shown at right, inelegantly photographed). No, this is not an artifact discovered after the Clintons left the White House. (She uses two "L's" in her name, too.) Rather, this was the pick Sir Edmund Hillary used on his way to the peak of Everest. Very cool. To me, anyway. The axe was made by Claudius Simond from Chamonix, France, and has a European ash wood handle and forged steel head and spike. He used it to cut a stairway to his own heaven, at the top of the world.
The most crowded exhibit I saw, by far, was the one on VOLCANOES.
It featured a small house, with the sign at right prominently displayed on an exterior wall.
The red letters of the sign say:
"Come inside and see what could happen if a new volcano erupted in Auckland's harbour tomorrow."
The house features a living room at 7A Puia St, in the Auckland suburb of St Heliers, with a couple of couches and other furniture, a large television set and a large picture window that presents a spectacular "view" of Auckland's harbor area. During a session of about 12 minutes, museum goers watch a news report that deals with an imminent volcanic explosion, which is building a little offshore. At one point the house shakes. Then the newscast is cut off and the volcano does, in fact, erupt before your eyes--as seen through the picture window. Auckland, which is on a dozen or so inactive volcanoes is doomed. This builds volcano awareness, which might already be high anyway in the wake of the recent earthquake in Christchurch on the South Island. I'm not too worried because we're off to Wellington tomorrow.

A THING OF BEAUTY: After eating two tacos near the Auckland Ferry Terminal, I wandered beyond Princess Wharf. That's where I came across the wonderfully restored gaff cutter named Waitangi. The craft, which is nearly 12 meters long at the waterline, was launched in 1894, designed by Robert Logan. It was restored in the 1990s. To see it under sail, go here. The boat is named after a treaty that was pivotal in New Zealand's history.

PIZZA SHOP ADDS DISTINCTIVE TOPPING TO COVERAGE OF THE DEATH OF OBL: While on the plane here from Singapore, we read the New Zealand Herald of Tuesday May 3. It included lots of news stories and opinion pieces dealing with the killing of Osama Bin Laden. It also had a seven-column advertisement stretching across the first page of the World section of the paper that also dealt with this momentous event. The words (see photo) say simply: "Come in, Osama, we've been expecting you." The word "Hell" is prominent, as is the black ink. The ad includes a web address:
That takes you here. Evidently, Hell Pizza has lots of locations around New Zealand. It claims the pizza and other foods are "hellthy".
From idea to the ad-buy, it all happened very quickly.

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