I had the opportunity to go to a masquerade (masked) ball last Saturday night. It was a pretty exciting proposition that Mr Useful put to me. This corporate event was held at the historic Sydney Town Hall and would have various live theatre characters as well as a set three course dinner, speeches and entertainment by Sydney’s own “Enormous Horns”. We would then make our way to the Crown Plaza where he had arranged an upgraded suite for our very own live theatre later.

When the invitation was announced that it was to be formal costume I went into perfectionist panic mode. Ideally I would have liked us to dress up in 17th style costumes with professional costumes makeup and wigs but that would have took some major arrangements on my part. Unfortunatly, I was finding myself attending to a few different commitments and didn’t have the time to make it *my idea* happen. I sorted out some basic masques and we wore formal costume and as it turns out that was all that was required.

Arriving at the red carpet at the Sydney Town Hall was a glamorous affair. The photographers were decked out in retro blues brothers type gear with big flash cameras.

The inside of the Town Hall itself had been majically transformed from the church like pews that it’s usually set up with into a visual feast. It had a French circus type vibe with street performers in costumes and on stilts.

The props and the lighting were very imaginative and extremely well done.

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We found our table and chatted with some of the guests as our drinks were served. There was a short presentation from the company thanking the marketing manager who was taking a position at another firm, he certainly did a awesome job putting the event together. Then the entree arrived, king prawns closely followed by the main, steak or chicken. More speeches and some fundraising for the the childrens burns unit. The irony of having to wear a mask through the experience of having a deforming burn highlighted.
There were a couple of glow bars set up at the venue serving a choice of Mojito or Cosmopolitan with donations being contributed to the burns unit. We bought a couple of cocktails at our table to help out.

All to soon it was the end of the evening and the Enormous Horns were playing their amazing and massive organs. They really are a very professional and slick outfit and do Sydney corporate events proud.

I think I enjoyed the Village People set the most. It takes a bit of front to come out topless in an Indian outfit Ha! =D Plus, I’m really looking forward to seeing the original Village People myself in a couple of weeks.

With the conclusion of the ball we made our way back to our five star accomodation and created a little fantasy of our own.

*This blogs’ music choice inspired by my friend werewolf@werewolf’s Lair.

When it comes to fine dining, I reckon everybody in their life should at least once experience a degustation menu at a ritzy restaurant. Put simply, a degustation menu is is a feast of many different courses that tempt, tease and test your palate. The food is perfectly matched with different varieties of wine that compliment the particular dish.

A degustation indulgence was our recent mission as Mr Equine Investor and I headed out to one of Sydney’s finest establishments, the Astral Restaurant at Sydney’s Star City Casino. And gee, what a treat lay ahead of me
Mr EI had arranged that we meet at his hotel (Sofitel) and after some interesting conversation we headed to the Astral restaurant, I must say he dressed very sharp.

We settled easily into our window seats overlooking the magnificent Sydney views. It seemed very fitting that we toast our new friendship and our evening with a fine glass of Krug champagne. After that no time was wasted with the first of many courses hitting our table quickly. The first was amuse–bouche or a lovely appetiser, then oysters accompanied by the first light white wine. As I said, the courses were coming out thick and fast, there was smoked salmon, scallops, pumpkin risotto and that was just entrée all with the accompanying complementing wine.

The conversation was easy, we shared interesting experiences from both our lives and I was feeling very relaxed. So much so, I suggested we take our shoes off and play some footsies, perhaps this was the wine talking but we both enjoyed some under table action.

By now I was holding Mr EI’s hand too, I suppose I was feeling very touchy feely with another Cancerian for company.
Well time for more courses, out came the aylesbury duck breast.
Next the angus beef with hollandaise, king mushrooms, miso seeded mustard & fois gras. By now the complementing wine was red, robust and full flavoured. I was pretty much in heaven (with the company, conversation and great food contributing to all the essential elements of a great evening).

The dessert was just exceptional, it was a mandarin sorbet, compressed segments, lemon balm & hibiscus jelly. The dessert was just the most toppermost of the poppermost of desserts. It was an awesome visual and oral sinsation. It arrived in a puff of smoke and had this crackling, popping sound when it hit your tongue. How erotic! It tasted incredible too. WoW, VERY SexXxy.

There was a cheese platter still to come but Mr EI had other ideas in mind so we headed to the taxi rank to h
ail one of Sydney’s best. It was pretty entertaining watching the different members of the public. The Casino crowd revelers were impatiently lingering at the taxi rank, chatting amongst themselves about their night that had just passed.
Both Mr EI and I were very full and feeling cheery.

As the sun warmed the day, we couldn’t imagine having breakfast after the feast of the previous night. We decided to skip on that and whip up a smorgasbord of our own. Needless to say we worked off most of the delicacies that the Astral had to offer.
A most memorable experience. I can only wonder where my friendly clients will take me next – who knows maybe an overseas adventure? Ha!

If you’ve never been to a VIP party before, let me just say it’s got to be one of the top experiences ever!

And so it was that I found myself invited to the WWE Smackdown pre-party function last weekend at the Acer Arena.

After the VIP party, the event followed – naturally with premium seat allocations- thank you very much

Not knowing too much about the wonderful world of wrestling beside the “Half Nelson Hold” (which I sometimes try to incorporate into my evening activities) – I was keen and eager to learn. Thankfully Mr Useful was on hand to explain who was who (as many of the guests knew the wrestlers by name) and if they were good or bad guys.

This red carpet affair was decorated by some of the colourful characters from the smack-down contingent of the WWE. It was pretty exciting because we were going to see them in live action later on. There was an opportunity for autographs and photos that was really well received by the 150 strong crowd – especially the kids.

I thoroughly enjoyed all the eye candy (man, those wrestlers are fit) and the free drinks, nibbles and show bags which added to the atmosphere of the evening.

When the party finished, we headed to our VIP premium seats that placed us in the perfect position to view the ring. I checked out the other seats around us and noticed a few celebrities – hell, I’m shallow – even that within itself was pretty cool!

Now what took place next was super exciting – how can I describe it to give it the energy it warrants?

The music, lights, pyrotechnics and drama is simply an event within itself.

Acer Arena 31/7The “larger than life” characters (pardon the pun) are engaging as is the support from the crowd, who loved what they saw. I can safely say before this experience, I wasn’t a big fan but I can now appreciate what the fans see in this gladiatorial event. The fitness and unbelievable moves of the athletes fire up your imagination and while you might think this is a different kind of entertainment, you have to see it to believe it.

As with anything, all good things must come to an end.

So with the glitz, glamour and excitement over I accompanied my client back to his five star stadium and hopped into the ring for several rounds of championship wrestling of our own.

I met my love by the gas works wall
Dreamed a dream by the old canal
I kissed a girl by the factory wall
Dirty old town dirty old town
Ewan MacColl 1949

If you love live theatre you will find yourself spoilt for choice in old Sydney Town. This was the happy problem facing my client “The Detective” and I when we were deciding what to see recently.The idea was to meet at his hotel, have a quick bite to eat and enjoy a play ‘Long Day’s Journey Into Night” before returning back to his hotel for some extended intimate relaxation.

After much discussion over a period of time we settled on dinner at Lowenbrau.Lowenbrau is a german style dining venue set in the historic Sydney Rocks precinct. It’s lots of fun offering a tasty staple menu, different german style beers and even a brass band. Given the cool weather we happily tucked into some delicious german sausages, mashed potatoes and sauerkraut washed down by a beer for the detective and a couple of Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blancs for me. It’s the kind of place where the waitresses have cute blonde plaits and wear traditional costume and the Detective reckons you need other certain attributes to work there -gee I wonder if I’d qualify?

The Detective had arranged a hire car and we made our way down to Walsh Bay to the Sydney Theatre Company Headquarters. We just made in in time too!

The production was of Eugene O’Neills masterworkLong day’s Journey Into The Night. This was a epic 3.5 hour event. There are four central characters in the play which is set in 1900s Canada. It’s raw, heavy going drama exposing the flaws, failings, problems and dysfunctions within a family structure. There’s the father ‘James Tyrone” played by William Hurt, he’s a Irish Catholic immigrant made good but he cannot forget his childhood poverty and is criticised for being stingy by his two sons. James with his strong working class ethics, equally faces massive dissappointment with his own sons. There’s the mother “Mary” played by Robyn Nevin, she’s addicted to her medication morphine and so her mental deteriation becomes increasingly more obvious throughout the span of the play. There’s the youngest son who is racked with consumption and is needing to go into a sanitorium and the oldest son who is the most alcoholic out of all the male characters in the family. For me with my full Irish background, the play was fascinating, edgy entertainment, beautifully acted and produced.

My usual scene is to go to arthouse cinema when I want to see great drama but this experience really stepped it up for me.

All and all it was a very memorable evening on every level.

Anyone who’s into a bit of sport knows the state of origin battle between NSW and Qld is fierce. Fierce rivalry can also be quite inspirational and if not, at last decent competition makes for fantastic entertainment.

With this being the final game of the series, the Blues (NSW) were down 2-0. Some thought with the series already lost to the Queenslanders that this final game would be quite tame. Certainly my client and friend, The Analyser was thrilled with Queenslands progress throughout the series.

I needed to find out for myself and who better than another of my favourite clients Mr Sports-Fan-Extraordinaire (who follows NSW) to take along with me. Being the perfect business transaction he takes care of the wining, dining and sporting curriculum while I repay the favour later on in the evening with a bit of my own major sporting event (but that’s another story).

So, I needed to satisfy my own curiosity, Could a team with nothing to play for, dig deep enough, find enough inspiration within themselves to put on a performance and show their dedicated followers that all was not lost?

After a magnificent Thai feast at Hai Thai of fishcakes, satay skewers, chilli prawns- pad prik king goong and the chicken green curry gang kea wan gai; our taste buds were satisfied. Oh – did I forget to mention the New Zealand Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc that washed everything down a treat.

I’m not shy to tell you that this is the kind of treatment that gets you everywhere:p Good food, good wine, good company a great game and a tour of a five star hotel room to conclude a wonderful evening wins me over every time:) …friends.

Anyway enough frivolity and back to the on field action. So we joined the thousands of eager fans strolling into the magnificent ANZ Stadium and the atmosphere is building. As usual some creative costuming is being worn and it’s like some blokey Rugby League version of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

Our seats were fairly high up but right on the half way line so the view was perfect.

Even thought the chill of the evening was cooling my face so that I was a (not) becoming shade of crimson, I feel the excitement and the tension in the air before kickoff.

Just before the national anthem we give a minutes silence and the respect due to the soldiers who were tragically killed in Afghanistan. All goes well until some eejit screams out QUEENSLANDER but he’s shut down, ”SHUT UP YA F(ING) WANKER” and we get on with with singing the Aussie Anthem.

NSW put up a gallant fight that night and there were many exchanges between the two talented teams and also quite a few disagreements. sometimes the crowd disagree with the powers that be “THE REFEREE’S A WANKER” (the language is quite colourful at these events). I tend to think the biff was the added excitement and the crowd seemed to light up when this fracas occurred quite a few times over the evening.

So, with 15 or so minutes to go I think the NSW team thought they might just take the third game and show the fans that they hadn’t forgotten how to play.

Alas for NSW, Queesland is a team that NEVER gives up. In the last minutes Queensland scored twice to rap up the game and indeed the series 3-0 .

Good luck and well played to the Queensland side but NSW did put up a great fight. Mr SFE was not too disappointed but he had had enough of the evenings events and was making noises about some indoor entertainment of his own, it sounded great to me.

And the evening concluded with a few nightcaps and a lovely five star experience that would put a smile on any sportsman’s face (even if they lost 3 – 0 )

Looking forward to the next round.

Long time no blog and wishing you a happy and safe easter.

Decided to do a bit of a Karen Thompson roadshow “how good is that?” So, I am going for a little jaunt to America and New Zealand.

San Francisco 9 – 11 April 2010
Las Vegas 12 – 15 April 2010
Santa Monica 16 – 17 April 2010
Auckland 28 May – 2 June 2010

I will be offering a very special two hour minimum $700 Aud for these tours only.
Just to avoid any confusion, the rates and service do slightly deviate from my website details.

Got some fantastic upscale accomodation booked right in the CBD heart and am very excited about the trip(s).
So if you are in America or New Zealand and are thinking of seeing me drop me an email karenofsydney@gmail.com
or visit my website at www.karenthompson.com.au/contact.htm.

Bringing you a groovy kind of love! *arranges fingers in a peace sign*

Promotional video 2009