In Community

Yesterday, while I missed the Wellington Bloggers gathering, I did manage to spend a couple hours with the other moose. It was really good to spend some time catching up. There have been some pretty major developments in both our lives since we last had a catch up worthy of the name – him more than me, which is saying something.
One thing we talked about was community, and I realised that I’m finding the community scene in Wellington to be different for me now than it was back in ’02, when I hopped a plane to the UK. Then I felt plugged in to a solid and powerful network of people and there was some cool stuff emerging out of the collective. Now… not so much. Still all the awesome people there were then, but the way the connections work has changed.
There are communities here now – but I’m choosing to float on the edges of them, even the ones comprised of many people I am glad to call friends. The communities that I was massively invested in before have either disintegrated or ceased to call to me in any powerful way. My social relationships are defined primarily as one-to-one things instead of by membership in many-to-many nets.
Partly this is the shift in my cohort to babies and suburbs. But only partly; there’s something else going on. Not sure what. Perhaps there was a direction, or a counter-direction, that we once had and that is now lacking?
And underlying all of this, of course, is the fact that I am ridiculously busy right now. Pushing hard to get RtB tightened up, at the same time as pushing work to get $$ under control, at the same time as pushing study to get MSc on point… My former data point has been the number of emails I have building up unreplied-to. That stack has got ridiculous now. New data point: I am actually relieved that my finger is busted taking me out of sport for two months, because it means I get a few more hours in the day.
Strange times. I would benefit from more time to reflect than I’m currently getting. But at least I have my priorities straight enough to blog, right? It’s pretty much the only contact I have with most of you after all..

Lessons of the Best Man

So I was Best Man on Friday for Frank. It was awesome. And now I get to share some wisdom about the Best Man speech. I bet you’re all excited.
(1) Writing jokes is hard as hell. I spent the entire 4-hour journey up trying to get one joke to work right. Going over and over and over the damn thing in my head. (Finally I told Cal all the alternatives I’d come up with and she pointed out the best one, which was also the one I liked most. It went down well.) Moral: give yourself plenty of time, so you can let your brain mull. Or be naturally funny. Whichever works for you.
(2) You can go on the internet and get your Best Man speech. There are lots of buy-a-speech sites. There are lots of free speeches to watch on YouTube or read on advice sites. This plethora of speeches does not translate into a plethora of gags you can steal, because they all use the same four lines, and they all suck. It’s still useful to look at these for structure, inspiration, and confidence that something genuine and personal always beats some crappy speech off the internet.
(3) Your Best Man speech is probably better with fewer jokes than you initially want.
(4) For best results on the night, aim to be precisely half as drunk as the average audience member.
All of the above wisdom is guaranteed 100% true and correct in all circumstances because I’m perfect.
It was a great wedding, and I loved being a Best Man. (But it stressed me out some.)

How New Years Was Spent

(Still a bunch of emails to catch up on. This all takes far too long. But anyway.)
New Years in Wellington is, by tradition, rubbish. The city always goes quiet over the new years period as all the young and party-hearty up sticks for other locales, such as the big dance parties across the channel in Nelson, or something up north.
This year, D3vo and I hatched a cunning plan to ditch dub-town for a place of our own. Through the kind generosity of Ruth (of Not Usually About Penguins), we secured a very nice holiday house on the Kapiti Coast. It’s a place that I’ve been visiting for over a decade, again thanks to Ruth’s (and Damon’s!) continuing generosity, and it’s become quite important to me. The chance to share it with a bunch of good friends was tremendously appealing.
So, in haphazard fashion we put the word out, deliberately not over-planning it in order to ensure good karmic resonance or something. All came together well. We had twenty or so people in the house and in tents, and the reverie was splendid. Fun with the neighbours, midnight fireworks, downhill dune racing and of course lots of dancing were the order of the night, before everyone crashed out on all available surfaces. It was great.
Hence this post – a good New Years deserves commemoration, because they can be hard to come by. It isn’t complicated – get some good mates together and commit to one spot, and let the party roll. And yet it’s so easy to get distracted or to try too hard to make too much of the night and end up dissatisfied. Hard for us to really know what we want.
New Years doesn’t mean anything by itself. It’s a good marker, a good reminder. As numbers tick over it reminds us of time passing, and of change. It is a ready-to-wear symbolic engine, and it can give us power if we choose. I have more to write on that. Short version is just two words, describing something else I did on Hokio Beach at this little New Years party: got engaged.
Other accounts of the fun, with photos, can be found in the writings of Hottieperm, Off-Black, HebeHobo and MalcsTravelogue.

2008 And All That

There will not be regular bloggage for a while yet. Malc and I are hitting the road on Friday for a week, culminating in the excitement of NZ’s biggest music festival, the Big Day Out. I’m rather excited by this, because I haven’t been for years. In fact, the last time I was at the Big Day Out was so long ago, the headline act was Rage Against The Machine!
Oh, I see.
So there’s been a lot of news-spreading the past week. I’m not nearly caught up on messages about it. Still rather nice to think about. There will be some discussion of this in due course.
Also some reflections on 2007. It was an interesting year, that one. While 2008 promises to be interesting for an entirely different set of reasons – elections in the US and NZ, for a start.
But for now, let me just say: the film Sixteen Candles by John Hughes is way, way weirder than you remember it being. As previously discussed, the Breakfast Club is actually still very watchable, but 16Candles is incredibly bad in a very odd way.
The best example: the movie is about MollyRingwaldGirl, who turns 16 but no-one remembers! And she loves a boy who doesn’t notice her! Halfway through the movie, she steels her nerve and approaches the boy – but she wimps out and runs away without saying anything to him. Oh no! What will she do now? Here’s what she does: she goes home to bed and spends the rest of the movie asleep. Yes, seriously. Then she wakes up, goes to a wedding and the boy turns up inexplicably infatuated with her, roll credits!
Let’s do a second take on that: the main character is at home asleep for the second half of the film.
The reason people remember 16Candles fondly is because of the one scene where MollyRingwaldGirl and AnthonyMichaelHallGeek have a moment of genuine communication in the front seat of a car. And yeah, that’s a good scene. The renaissance in teen comedies in the late 90s owed a lot to that scene – e.g. American Pie (not the sequels). You can even, maybe, draw a line from that scene to the greatest teen comedy of the Zeds, Superbad. But it’s a tenuous line.
Anyway, I’m rambling, and I’m allowed because I’m engaged and going to the Big Day Out. Everybody explode!