Journal #3  Te Papa and the Casting Director
    Today I walked downtown to Te Papa, the national museum of New Zealand.

     The natural history section was amazing.  There were lots of flightless birds: the famous kiwi, the frighteningly large Moa.  Now extinct, the Moa looked like a beefy ostrich.  Its legs alone could be taller than a human being.

     There was also a large collection of sea mammal skeletons.  A full whale skeleton was suspended above the walkway, just to up the fear factor.

     Peter Jackson's special effects company is called Weta.  Until today I had assumed that Weta was an acronym, that it wasn't an actual word.  In the insect section I found what seemed to be an ugly cousin of the grasshoper, the Weta.  It looked like it belonged in a 1950's horror film, grotesque and wonderful.
    I also visited the glow-worm caves.  At first I thought the lights in the ceiling were just mock-ups, like XMAS lights on a timer.  I stood there reading about how the worms slowly release a line of spit.  Then using their glowing heads, or butts, I'm not sure which, they attract flying bugs that get stuck in the spit.  Then they reel in lunch.  I continued to read about how you must be quiet, if the worms are disturbed they turn down their lights.

     Just then a group of kids came running down the path and the lights above my head immeadiately dimmed.  I looked up and waited.  As the lights began to glow brighter I could see the reflections off their tiny lines of spit.  Real glow-worms, cool.
    Next I ventured to the third floor to see the Maori exhibits.  There were displays of traditional tools, musical instruments,  weapons, and flax weavings.  There were some smaller pieces that were carved of bone or pounamu (New Zealand Jade), and larger ones of wood, all with repeating curves and spirals and squat human figures with protruding tongues.  Many carvings were inlayed with paua shell, a native abalone.  I spent most of the afternoon in that part of the museum.

     As I left Te Papa my phone rang.

     "Is this Lichen June?" a woman's voice asked tentatively, trying out my name.

     "Yes, this is Lichen."

     "Hello Lichen, this is Liz, the casting Director on
Lord of the Rings."