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Lonely Planet has recently declared Wellington one of the best top 10 cities in the world and “The Coolest little Capital in ther World.”

This has out done such iconic cities as New York, Paris and London. Naturally, a number of New Zealanders who like polling on Stuff’s polls have claimed that this is a silly assertion.

It has become a part of the NZ psyche of pragmatism that anything seen as a positive can’t possibly be that good and we shouldn’t get our hopes up. It’s an odd mentality given that this country actually has a lot to crow about, we just seem to have it ingrained into our national identity that we shouldn’t.

The reality is that because we live here, we tend to take what makes Wellington and this country for granted.

To me one of the key things is that NZers are often awed by the cacophony and civilisation of larger cities because we just don’t see it here. New York, to the NZer, is an exotic and monolithic monster of a city that is always moving and always bustling. There are sights we never see at home, and so much mad variety that it can astonish at any given moment.

So naturally its difference would make NZers rate it as an amazing city – and it is.

But Wellington has a different wonderment to it. When I first came to Wellington what impressed me is the blend of nature and urban. This is what inspired the Winding City for me. Wellington entwines itself into and around its environment. Where Paris, London and New York are examples of civilisation triumphing over their landscapes; Wellington’s Town Belt and coastlines still retain some of their primal geography. Houses peek out from behind green veils, roads precariously wind up the hillsides, hugging the natural shape of the hills. Tunnels drive through hillsides still covered in native foliage, and you can one minute be in the urban centre, then in a suburb with colonial style houses the suddenly be in the middle of a small natural valley with only one or two houses visible before turning a corner and suddenly plunging back into urban sprawl.

The restaurants are multiple and varied, full of interesting and often friendly people. Yet there is space to breath. Walking down Lambton Quay and having room to move and see the tall buildings which are almost a time capsule I themselves. One is an old building from the early 1900s, a 60s building next door and further along a new 00s style structure. Framing these is the looming greenery of the Town belt.

Maybe it’s NZ’s slow pace. While busier than its island neighbours, we still move at a laconic pace compared to the greater cities of the world. While there are those NZers who don’t find this pace appealing – and this slow pace does lead to people picking at smaller issues – it is partially this pace that makes us so appealing to people from the great cities NZers adore.

The wonder of our beaches and natural landscape that is always a short journey from our urban centres. Dramatic mountains, great oceans and primal forests.

I genuinely feel New Zealand is the greatest place to live as a landscape. I also feel that we, as a nation, need to forge a new identity that is better in line with the country we live in. An identity built on the harmony between our natural landscape and our cities. Our technological development and our agricultural development. We should embrace our many cultures and the shared pride in a country that should encourage calm and contemplation but also inspiration and adventure.

Our nation has been suffering recently from drinking problems, violent crimes, domestic abuse and suicides. Our pragmatic identity seems to be to just accept these things as inevitable. Yet we live in a landscape of beauty and serene yet awesome sites. We should be inspired by our landscape, be proud of our cities and return to the unity that this country once believed it was founded on. We have struggled with this, and will continue to do so – but we should not be wasting time trying to keep up with the Joneses.

We already have one of the best living conditions and have some of the best cities to live in worldwide. Screw the Joneses. Let’s forge our own destiny, our own identity that the Joneses will be racing to keep up with us.

We should embrace educational, social, technological and ecological development. A recent study showed that even with our problems, NZ has a better level of education per person than many western nations. We were once known as an inclusive secular nation that was one of the first to give women equal voting rights. We once were at the forefront of invention. And because of our close relationship to our natural landscape we are uniquely placed to combine those others strengths to produce new technologies that will help less ecologically responsible nations reduce and possibly reverse the damage to their countries.

But first, we need to stop thinking we can be like Australia or the US. We need to stop thinking we need to give foreign interests carte blanche to plunder our resources. We need to be different and think outside the box.

We will need foreign investment, but it needs to be wisely managed and pursued correctly. We need to embrace the skills of those who have them regardless of that person’s ethnicity, gender or preference.

I’m not proposing we become communists, but that we try new ideas.

I love New Zealand. I love Wellington. I also think that this country has a lot more to offer the world than we have allowed ourselves too. We need to stop being pragmatists and become optimists.

Come on New Zealand! We earned the accolades, let’s enjoy them and be inspired by them!

Conan

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I watched the latest episode of True Blood Season 2 last night. Man that show just goes from strength to strength. Brilliant writing, nuanced acting and great directing. I can’t wait for thw bluray release of this season in the new year.

So, a couple of weeks back two of the actors involved with Setting it Straight suggested that I write a gay play for the local gay acting scene. This was a very flattering suggestion, and I’ve now been spending part of my time trying to come up with a worthy enough concept.

The thing about script writing, as far as I have found when I write, is that you need to have I your head an idea of what the finished product is going to look like and how you will get there.

Writing for stage is also different to film because, to me, it is more a medium of metaphor and implied ideas. The very restrictions of stage set up require more creative solutions to how you tell your story, but also that no words are wasted.

I also feel that the play needs to be fun to plan and produce – so I want to set some challenges to the actors and stage crew, but at the same time make it an enjoyable challenge, not a “what a dickwad the writer was” challenge.

Most of all, I need to be saying something that is interesting to hear.

But not pretentious.

Which is kind of where I am stuck. I have three concepts at the moment. One is an homage to one of my favourtie stage genres – the farce, one is a standard comedic drama and the other is a more surreal serious drama with some humour in it.

None are particularly fleshed out at the moment, but they are gaining momentum. This would certainly be a great feather in my cap if I can make it work.

Wow! So much to do! I’m really excited! 🙂

Conan

So here is another beautiful, crisp, winter morning in Wellington.

I’ve been kind of overworking myself with writing, producing, working and roleplaying. It is great when I get a moment to just relax and meditate a bit on what is going on in my life.

Firstly, I have become addicted to True Blood. It is so sexy and funny and creepy. Unfortunately, Nick is not a fan of the Louisana accents and just can’t get into the show. Which means I usually have to wait until I can watch the series alone as I bought it on Blu Ray – which looks awesome and is loaded with features.

It does amuse me how the character, Jason seems to need to be naked at least once an episode. Not that I’m complaining – he is super hot – but it is kind of funny to observe.

The tone of the series is really spot on, slow burning but hypnotic.

I did note that it treads much of the same ground as Twilight – but if it had been written by someone other than a woman with an obsession with abusive boyfriends.

In other news, The Winding City continues to develop, and the digital artist I’ve gotten involved with the project is producing some exciting conceptual art. I can’t wait to see what else he comes up with! 🙂

Well almost at work – see you all later! 🙂

Conan

I’ve done it! Casting is completed and what talented folk I have in this show. 🙂

I ended up casting myself for the moment as Finn – unfortunately the only actor of the appropriate age just didn’t suit the character.

Still a bit nervous about taking the role, but it should be fun and a good challenge. Now script development begins in earnest.

One of the more difficult aspects of script writing is figuring out what needs to be said or shown. Time is at a premium and sometimes the more natural scenes can run too long.

Currently I am working on a scene set prior to a party that sets up Finn’s motivation to go to the party. However the scene is becoming a bit indulgent with Max, Finn and Ryan’s conversation.

I’m realising that the scene kind of hinges on a simple joke and then just drags on afterwards. There is also a humorous prologue that isn’t feeling funny enough.

So the question I am asking myself is how much of the funny dialogue could just be moved to the party? Much of the exposition could probably be moved to the party sequence.

I want each episode to run 10 mins maximum, so I can’t have too many locations per episode.

Hopefully I can develop this more tonight after Dark Heresy. Anyway, I’m at work now, catch you all later.

Conan

Now that I’ve started entertaining the idea of acting on my next series, I’ve found myself inspired for a variety of interesting storylines.

What strikes me is that I am moving away from Finn as central character and now I’m thinking of exploring Finn and Ryan’s friendship.

Part of this is inspired by an article Angeline sent me that pointed out that the gay best friend has become the new accessory for many female television characters.

So I’m realizing that having a show that looks at two friends – one gay and one straight & male – gives me a lot more scope to play around with.

With this in mind, much of the more complex structure is gone. The series is going to focus on four central characters – Finn, Ryan, Sascha and Debbie.

This could prove to be a lot more interesting for viewers as the show won’t be about just a gay guy, but more on how his issues are no different from his friends.

Even if I end up not casting myself as Finn, I am preferring the direction the show is going. I’ll be casting folk this weekend and sending the cast the first episode.

Of course I’ve already cast Ryan and Sascha, just have to decide the other characters.

Exciting!

Conan

Today I am taking annual leave as I have a specialist’s appointment tomorrow in relation to the strange pain I got a month or two ago.

Last night Nick and I watched The Grudge 2 – Japanese version – and spent a good part of the evening scaring ourselves silly. The director of The Grudge really knows how to wind his audience up.

I do feel that the best horror builds on your fears by faking you out. The Grudge franchise is all about the fake out. It is a sign on the director’s skill that even knowing what’s coming doesn’t protect you from being freaked out by creepy reflections and cruel misdirection.

In other news, just as I was planning to shelve Setting it Straight, another actor contacted me regarding the show. I’m still fleshing out the changes – but it looks to me that everything will still be go.

I’ve been having a bit of an inner struggle recently regarding dating. Some of you may be aware that my last date was nearly a year ago. I seem to suffer from perpetual fussiness and a but of low self-esteem lately.

Not super depressed, just not feeling that I’d be that attractive to the kind of guys I’m attracted to. Le sigh.

Last night kind of brought these feelings up again, because as much as I do love Nick’s company, sometimes you need more than a mate to shoot the shit with. Would have been nice to have someone to snuggle up with while watching a great horror movie. 🙂

I think part of SiS is my way of showing what it’s like to be gay and single in your early to mid thirties. Lots of guys my age either want younger bfs or want to just settle for whatever they can get.

Love seems to be not based on the person, but the exterior or physical need.

Maybe I am over thinking it all. Wouldn’t be the first time. 🙂

I have to admit, walking in from home everyday is helping. I feel fitter, and I am losing weight, which is good. Not quite ready to return to the gym, but making baby steps to get there. 🙂

Anyway, I’m in town now- catch you all later.

Conan

Another day and a chance to relax. Last night I picked up The Sims 3 after having seen it being played. I have always had a thing for the Sims line – as have a lot of gamers.

I suspect it has something to do with being able to control the flow oftge Sims’ lives. Maybe it allows us to live our lives we’d like them to be.

For me it’s more to do with being able to tell interesting stories with a mini cast.

However I didn’t play for too long. I’m still hooked on inFamous. This is quite an impressive game.

It is faithful to the comicbook genre that is its inspiration, with a great backstory that continually unfolds as you play.

Moral choices are well handled too. Being a comicbook setting, the choices are black and white, but the interesting element is that when they arise the game freezes while the protagonist outlines the actions he can take and the likely consequences of his decision.

And being a comicbook, these pop up all the time. It gives the feeling that every choice and action carries weight within the game.

Now most if this is smoke and mirrors -it mostly has a mechanical effect on what powers become available, but it is handled well. There are also a good number of different missions that keep things from getting too repetitive.

The other cool element is that all the collectibles have a payoff. Either they give you more raw power or provide a voice recording that develops the backstory. And there are a good number of these.

On top of all this there are random events that just keep the world from
feeling mechanical. Television reports based on your actions as well as wider events, people who will run up to you and ask you to chase down thieves, walking into firefights between cops and gangs.. The game has a great feel to it.

Well that’s all for now. I am walking into town to look at some specials, maybe grab lunch. See y’all later.

Conan

I found my earphones! Ended up that they fell down behind my bed. *blush*

So I am now walking into work listening to the Skins soundtrack -among other albums.

It’s interesting walking in to work blogging on my iPhone while listening to music. We had a discussion at work yesterday about the new Star Trek movie, and the challenge to the design team that modern technology held for the original series devices.

After all, why have Tricorders the way they were in the original series- bulky tape recorder boxes compared to modern devices which have incredible usability and capability in comparison.

It presents an interesting thought about the future of technology. A few years ago Henley told me he felt humanity had reached a technology peak. Well that has been sufficiently disproven.

Speaking of technology, I started playing inFamous. Omg! That is one awesome game. The game is incredibly open, but what really makes it work is that something as simple as crossing the city is full of stunts and things to do.

The presentation is superb. Two thumbs up on that game. 🙂

Nick, Sarah and I also watched the first few episodes of Angel last night. Nick made a good point that the series has really held up well ten years later.

It’s still funny, creepy and relevant. Go Joss!

Although reading about the canon sixth series comics has made me realise how the series lost its way and fell to Whedon melodrama.

I love Joss’ work, but sometimes he gets too dark and can lose “the magic” so to speak. He usually comes out the other end fine, but I don’t always agree that the journey he takes needed to be taken.

Killing well liked characters is a great twist until it becomes expected. Then you need to find a new trick before going back to it.

Nathan Fillion says on the Dr Horrible commentary “it’s Joss! Somebody is going to die. Deal with it.” as if that’s a good thing.

When it gets to the point of being a trope if the writer it loses its effect and just becomes mean spirited.

To be blunt, I still feel that in Angel, when it happens to a certain character it felt like a death for the sake of a death. In other words, it was crap.

I get it, you want to get the audience feeling kicked in the teeth – but Joss, dude, pick your moments more sparingly. It gets to the point where I no longer want to invest in a character because someone is guaranteed to die.

Anyhoop, nearly at work. I’ll catch you all later! 🙂

Conan

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