What I Did This Year — Part Three

This is the view of Wellington from the International Institute of Modern Letters’ work room:

Contrary to The Lovely Wife‘s opinion of Wellington weather, this was how the city looked most days I met with my fellow scriptwriters.

What can I say about my year in that work room?

We all worked hard to be in there.

We continued to work hard. We shared work stories, war stories, and horror stories. We all wanted to write. We wanted to be inspired by who and what we admired and aspired to be like.

We wrote whatever the hell we wanted — prevailing and imminent zeitgeists be damned! — and Ken gave us the space and support with which to do so.

We all went through the pain of creating — actual wattage varied with each writer — but the work room was a haven where we could confess and share and not feel alone for a two to three hours.

This year was a treasure. I got what I wanted out of the course: a project I knew would be challenging — it almost got the better of me several times, I tell you — and, one month on, I’m just glad to see the back of it. I also got to know and admire and respect nine other writers, most of them half my age, all of them talented and motivated story-tellers, each with a recognisable voice — each I’m glad to know is out there writing.

So. That was my year.

The Tyke scans her free-fire zone.

Time now for a little lie down as the festive season approaches.

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What I Did This Year — Part Two

There’s a lot of ground to cover in this part, so let’s leave the pictures to do the talking.

In March, The Boy was in a frightful car accident and was hospitalised for a month.

Fill* and The Boy — Auckland Hospital, March 2019.

After three months at home and regular physiotherapy, he returned to full-time work in July. He’s a little over people telling him how lucky he was. But oi was he lucky.

My father died in May.

The Reverend Moe Silipa Mamea (retired), 1926–2019.

He was 92 and he’d had an excellent innings (he loved his cricket). His natural athleticism may have skipped me entirely and gone straight to his grandson, but I’m grateful to have his patience, perseverance, and tact.

My father had some unfinished business and I volunteered to sort it out. In June, The Lovely Wife accompanied me to Samoa.

Mount Vaea from Togafu’afu’a — June 2019

The wife loved the heat and humidity — apparently we’ll be visiting each year henceforth — and the pace of life there is glacial. Nice if you live there, a little frustrating when you’ve only a few days to get stuff done. It was a welcome interlude, considering.

Half-way through the year, my dreams began to have a recurring theme involving some massive weight slowly crushing me.

‘Twas only The Kitten missing me.

Still Life With Chickens is in its second year of touring. This year it did a couple of stops in the North Island, did a circuit of the South Island — and in August, it had its Australian premiere.

The Lovely Wife on a ferry — Sydney Harbour, August 2019.

The Lovely Wife and I attended the premiere where we had a grand yarn with Martin Edmond and Mayu Kanamori, and we explored the Emerald City by tram, bus and ferry. Still Life is off to Shanghai later this month for its Chinese premiere.

Somehow, amidst all of the above, I persisted with my masters course.

* This teddy bear joined the Mamea Aiga in Christmas 2002 when The Boy, then aged six, announced his arrival: I got a teddy bear and his name’s Phil! The Lovely Wife and I exchanged looks and asked where the name Phil came from. It says so right here, The Boy said, turning over the sewn tag: “Polyester Fill”.

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What I Did This Year — Part One

Late last year, I had the brilliant idea of doing a Master of Arts in Creative Writing.

The University of Auckland offers an equivalent MA and is only a couple of hours drive south of Fortress Mamea, but there was a certain je n’ais se quoi that an MA from the International Institute of Modern Letters at the Victoria University of Wellington held for me. Part of it was the cachet IIML has. A larger part of it, to be honest, was that the IIML is in my hometown.

The Lovely Wife, gods bless her cowboy boots, arranged her whole year’s work schedule so I could commute between the winterless north and the windy city. I planned a sub-48-hour travel itinerary for each of the 24 workshops that were spread between March and October:

  • Tuesday
    • 3:30am–6:30am — drive from Fortress Mamea to Auckland Airport
    • 7:30am–8:30am — fly from Auckland to Wellington
    • 8:30am–9:45am — buses from Wellington Airport to Victoria University
    • 10:00am–1:00pm — Tuesday workshop at IIML
  • Wednesday
    • 10:00am–12:00noon — Wednesday workshop at IIML
    • times varied according to cheapest flights booked but —
      • bus to Wellington Airport
      • fly to Auckland
      • drive to Whangārei
    • — with arrival times as early as 7pm and as late as midnight.

I looked at that itinerary and thought, How hard could it be? It’ll be fun — I’ve got several years worth of podcasts to catch up on. It’ll be a blast!

The novelty of that commute wore off after the first week. Six and a half hours of travel each way will do that. But I did it, and I’m here to blog about it.

On the very first day, programme director Ken Duncum had a bunch of portfolios to show us greenhorns what we’d be producing by year’s end. One of them was for my favourite New Zild television show:

I took it as a sign that — commuting aside — I’d signed up for a year of awesomeness.

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Hello 2019

A quick jaunt to the Big Smoke and an opportune snap.

Yeah, hey ’19 and goodbye ’18.

Posting has been patchy alright but I thought the least I could do is warble a little while it’s a bit quiet.

I gave up the day job late last year. Maybe it’s my selective memory but that was a big relief and about time, too. I now have no excuse to not write.

Having a writing gig earlier in the year certainly ensured that I had a buffer between the end of the day job and… if not the next gig (because one should never presume), then some kind of writing opportunity.

Having said that, I do have another writing job lined up later this month. But after that…

That’s where my anxiety lies: I can plan all I like but there’s a will-it-put-chocolate-in-my-mouth aspect to it that is frankly terrifying.

Let’s find out.

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2018 in Pixels


By Source, Fair use, Link

Enjoyed on the big screen:

  • Ice King: John Curry
  • Juliet, Naked
  • Jusqu’a la garde (Custody)
  • Lady Bird
  • Lady Macbeth
  • Mystery Road
  • Puzzle
  • Small Town Crime
  • Wind River
  • You Were Never Really Here

Honourable mentions: The Shape of Water; Isle of DogsA Little Chaos.


By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, Link

And on the small screen:

  • Alias Grace
  • Cobra Kai S01
  • The Casketeers S01
  • Barry S01
  • Five Came Back
  • Godless
  • The Handmaid’s Tale S02
  • Peaky Blinders S01–04
  • Sharp Objects
  • The Thick of It S01

Honourable mentions: Condor; Haunting of Hill House; Ozark S01–02; Six Feet Under S01–05.

And here’s a new “How the heck do they stay so damned good?” category for returning titles that threaten to clog up my annual top ten: The Americans S06; Better Call Saul S04; The Expanse S03. I do miss the suburban adventures of Elizabeth and Philip Jennings Nadezhda and Mischa but all good things come to an end.

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Welp

With the festive season screaming towards us, I flashed on this moment in that 1986 classic, Critters:

I leave the interpretation of relevance to you, dear reader.

Have fun, and be safe.

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Phone a Friend

I was deep in a script and I needed some kind of transition scene.

Call me delusional but I finished my writing day feeling like a boss, and I’m going to hold on to that.

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Rubicon

I have a number of reputations to uphold, among them a prodigious appetite for saturated fats. Cheesecake and doughnuts have been a staple for a large part of my life, and I can only presume that obesity and diabetes have been kept at bay only by the love of a good woman and semi-regular exercise.

A recent research trip presented my hungry eye with ‘cream choc donut[s]’, a big-city steal at $2.50 per. Seeing my longing look at it, The Lovely Wife suggested I stop being dramatic and just buy it. The thing was, I knew that just two mouthfuls of one of those triple-threats would be enough — but since a partly-eaten doughnut is anathema to any self-respecting Samoan, I would have to eat the rest of it.

I looked at her and sadly told her that those days were over lied that I was not in the mood for doughnuts. She still saw my final melancholic look at those doughnuts, but being the lovely wife that she is, she said nothing.

The last few years, the consumption of such delicacies has resulted in less of the comforting ‘good sick‘, and more of the just plain sick feeling. I suppose it was the tail end of a longer transition period* where, once-upon-a-takeaways, I could eat whatever I wanted, and nowadays I mostly/sometimes/less-often-than-I-really-should watch what I eat.

I’ve passed a gastronomical milestone in this life. It’s just a sign of age. A constant of life is change, and change is inevitable.

Time, perhaps, for a new food-oriented reputation.

* The first sign would’ve been when The Boy, then eight years old, began to out-eat me at most meals.

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Biz

The Brown Dog (formerly known as The Puppy) defies her owners’ attempts to stop her smelling up the furniture.

As the posts around here have gotten less frequent and more intermittent, the writing process proper has certainly ramped up. It’s partly the impending end-of-year and its attendant deadlines (we’re in the third quarter of 2018 already, omfg) and partly because I have projects where I’m not the main (and sometimes sole) driver.

Oh how I wish I could brag and boast but I’m a superstitious type. Suffice it to say that things are a bit busy and that I have not totally forsaken you.

I suppose this is just confirmation that posts here will continue to be infrequent and occasional. But I am thinking of you.

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