Something Elsewhere

Subscribe to my newsletter for weekly updates.

Trade . . .Me? A story of failed entrepreneurialism

5 Jul 2010  |  3 min read  |  1

The new poster boy for entrepreneurs is 26-year old Canadian Kyle MacDonald: he’s the guy who traded a red paperclip for a fish-shaped pen, then traded that for a doorknob, that for a barbeque and so on. He’s still trading up and some weeks ago looked set to get a house out of his on-line trading skills. My negotiating abilities are such that the other day I was prepared... > Read more

PAULY FUEMANA REMEMBERED (2010): Once in the land of plenty

31 Jan 2010  |  5 min read

I wish I wasn’t writing this. I wish it wasn’t humid and raining. I wish I could bring myself to put his album on right now. But – and I really don’t know why – I am overwhelmed by grief to learn that Pauly Fuemana has died. Many, many others knew him – or will now claim to know him – better than I. In truth I did not know him at all... > Read more

The Nightmare from Down Under: Paying the price for gluttony

5 May 2009  |  1 min read

The small city of Melaka two hours south of Kuala Lumpur is considered the cuisine capital of Malaysia, and my happy task there for a few days was to sample then write about the various foods -- notably the highly-spiced Baba-Nyonya style for which Melaka (aka Malacca and other variants) is renown. But with so many styles still to be sampled I decided to stay on longer and, to save money,... > Read more

Looking at Ourselves: the film New Zealand, in cinemas now

23 Dec 2008  |  3 min read  |  2

I honestly thought that the new Keanu film The Day The Earth Stood Still was the worst movie I had seen in decades, then last night we saw Australia. Far be it from me to be a spoiler -- and please go see it, if you must -- but we thought it the most trite, sentimental, predictable, cornball, overblown epic ever. And I've seen some clunkers from the Fifties -- which stand up better... > Read more

Life in a leaky building: a survivor's tale

26 Oct 2008  |  3 min read  |  1

Just before Christmas 2005, we fell victim to the pandemic sweeping across Auckland. You know how it is: you always think it’ll affect someone else and you’ll be okay. So we were ill-prepared. We had just carried on as if nothing would ever happen to us. And anyway, we are people who like to think of ourselves as survivors. We have lived through the Y2K scare, SARS... > Read more

Come, feel the noize: A true story from the suburbs

23 Oct 2008  |  2 min read  |  3

A question: is female orgasm the satisfied whimper at the end, or the 40 minutes of moaning and groaning which my neighbour does loudly at 2am? Or at 6am. Living in a block of townhouses brings with it a certain unwanted knowledge of your neighbour's intimacies, although I am a little unsure as to whether they are unhappy about us knowing. She once said, "you've probably heard... > Read more

Stayin' Alive: The fitness phase (2005)

26 May 2008  |  2 min read

When you are over 50, becoming fanatical about exercise won't undo years of happy hedonism. For a year I have occasionally waddled to the nearby Health and Fitness Centre (their description, not mine) and – alongside lithe young bodies, walking-wounded Blues players and sometimes monstermen like the Tuaman – I have worked out. More correctly, I have ridden a bicycle to nowhere... > Read more

Auckland City, Where The Past is Present

10 Aug 2007  |  4 min read

I just caught a glance at him out of the corner of my eye when I heard him shout “Why don’t you keep quiet”. Or words to that effect, with unprintable expletives included. He was dressed in a lawyer’s suit, had close-cropped hair, had those mad staring eyes like Chris Dixon, and was wound tight as a drum. His fist were tight balls and for the life of me I thought... > Read more

The Day The Sky Fell In

10 Aug 2007  |  2 min read

The day that the Sky digital network crashed and deprived 550,000 subscribers -- us included -- of programmes two curiously ironic things occurred for me: that very morning I tried to buy a transistor radio, and in the afternoon I looked out my wind-up gramophone. It was coincidence, but it was also as if I had known that hi-tech would fail me sooner or later so I was into forward thinking... > Read more

Shadow in the Glass: A short story

13 Jul 2007  |  13 min read

Campbellhad a directness that Dennis had once mistaken for the dourness of the Scots. “You’ll be wanting home, then?” “Yes, just for a fortnight . . . perhaps three weeks . . . I can pass on the Peebles brochure to Meg and the old Strathaven history could go on hold until I get back . . . Iain has still got something else to add anyway so there’s not much... > Read more

A Small Fire: a short story

8 Jul 2007  |  13 min read

The coincidences that brought Frank and I together again were like something out of a bad 19th century novel, and perhaps that’s why I have thought about it so often since. Maybe it was what went down between us all those months ago too. Either way, I’ve been thinking a lot about just how our lives can go. Lani had gone away up north that morning to stay with Janet, and the... > Read more

Good Morning, America

6 Nov 2006  |  1 min read

Good Morning, America (2005) wake early that is the time to see the other America . . . the young men picking through garbage collecting cans bagging bottles for refund money and the old women talking to invisible companions piss-stained pants swollen feet in torn slippers the old men shuffling to empty... > Read more

BREAUX BRIDGE, LOUISIANA. A TOWN AT WAR (2004): Iraq comes to Cajun country

24 May 2004  |  6 min read

Breaux Bridge in Louisiana rarely makes the news. It's not that kind of place. The small town in earshot of the multi-lane highway between Lafayette and Baton Rouge is on the bayou, that eerily picturesque region where cypress trees and Tupelo gums grow out of the endless expanse of brown, still water.This is Cajun country. Most people here are direct descendants of the original French-speaking... > Read more

TERRORISM ON THE HOME-FRONT (2003): Coming ready or not?

1 Jan 2003  |  9 min read

In a travel story about New Zealand in the Sydney Morning Herald last month journalist Bruce Elder, trying to avoid Australian cliches about this country, stepped rather neatly into a patronising pile of them.Apparently we are no longer a country trapped in the 1950s, are "the only nation where sock, sacks, sucks, sex and six are all pronounced 'sux' ", and not only is our food... > Read more

THE POLYNESIAN PANTHERS REFLECT (2001): Three decades on from the dawn raids

22 Jun 2001  |  9 min read

For anyone who lived through the period, the iconography and images still resonate: the clenched fists in leather gloves, the lines of civilian-soldiers in empowering uniforms of black polo-neck sweaters, impenetrable shades and black berets. The language was of black pride and the images defiant and confrontational. The times they weren't a-changing, they'd changed - and in the early... > Read more

JIMI HENDRIX (2000): A slight return to the Experience

5 Jan 2000  |  2 min read

To fully appreciate the impact Jimi Hendrix had, you need to forget the decades of myth-making and t-shirts since his death. Try to imagine the music world in 1966. When Jimi crashlanded in London in September that year the Beatles were still a pop band, the Stones had released Paint It Black and Bob Dylan was confusing people with the sprawling double album Blonde on Blonde.... > Read more

STARS WHO WANNABE OTHER STARS (1999): Vanity projects for the self-regarding

1 Nov 1999  |  3 min read

News that broadcaster Paul Holmes is recording an album has been greeted with derision in some quarters, but the collector's group of Vanity Incorporated Products can't wait until this album —- apparently including such classics as Witchita Lineman — hits stores in time for the lucrative Christmas market.Not because it's especially welcomed for its own sake but some are seeing it as... > Read more

OLD FORGOTTEN SOLDIERS? (1999): But not in South Korea

27 Apr 1999  |  14 min read

The undistinguished town of Kap'yong, 90 minutes' drive north-east of the South Korean capital Seoul, isn't on many maps. Even the young man at the desk in Seoul's Tower Hotel can't say where it is, although he served in the Army in the district eight years ago.As an ordinary country town nestled in a wide valley between towering hills, it is a quiet place, the only regular noise coming from... > Read more

DAVID MARKS OF THE NEW ZEALAND SKEPTICS (1998): Spoon bending made easy

5 Feb 1998  |  8 min read

David Marks paces furiously around the small room, giving a good impersonation of a caged animal. It's disconcerting.His arms flail as he says that if we doubted his ability he'd accuse us of being negative thinkers who would rob him of his psychic powers.And then he stops to quietly perform a piece of magic. It's an old trick, but a good one. With a little gentle rubbing, the silver spoon he... > Read more