Spicks and specks

As I write this, I am severely sleep deprived. This is as a result of having to look after Princess Min-Minnz for the past week. She is an elderly cat (18 – old enough to vote, drink and own semi-automatic firearms) who spends most of the time sleeping, except at various times of the night. Because she’s old, she can’t run off and look after herself, so she requires assistance. So much assistance. I wonder, is this sleep-deprived zombie state the same sort of thing that my friends with babies keep moaning about? But then, I guess you can’t shut a baby out on the deck once the sun comes up.

Because of this situation, I am too tired and uninspired to manage any sort of coherent or entertaining year-in-review post. I tried writing something and it read like a police statement. In July the witness saw the film Sheen of Gold at the Auckland film festival. She described it as “really good”.

Pft. Who needs words? Instead here are some Instagram photos I’ve taken over the year:

And here is my favourite moment from 2013, stopping by the Bee Gees Walk in Redcliffe, the small Queensland town where the Gibb brothers grew up. The town figured it ought to commemorate its most famous ex-residents and so transformed a gap between two buildings into the Bee Gees Walk. There’s a statue of the trio as boys, but this “Spicks and Specks” era mural of the bros was my favourite part of the experience. And Barry Gibb is a spunk.


Instagram ate my 2012

Four years ago I declared “Twitter ate my 2008”, an acknowledgement of the new social media tool’s ability to suck my ability to blog. Well, it turns out Twitter isn’t the only thing that can do that. So can writing about music videos on my other site, and so can taking photos of stuff, adding exotic filters and uploading to Instagram.

days-bay-pancakesLet’s start with a breakfast, just to get the whole “Instagram = photos of breakfasts” cliche out of the way. When I decided I was going to leave Wellington, I went on a tour of some of my favourite places in the city. This was taken at the peculiarly named Chocolate Dayz Cafe in Days Bay. It was an outrageously sunny day and my pancakes looked almost pornographic in the late summer sun.

I really like that in Wellington, it’s possible to jump on a bus or a train and less than an hour later you can end up in a little seaside town with a reasonably good cafe (or a grim coastal suburb with a McDonalds – your choice).

home-brew-homegrownI went to the Homegrown music festival, my second year of scoring a freebie ticket at the last minute. This is Home Brew performing, and I just happened to capture this blissed-out audience member.

I tweeted the photo which caught the attention of Russell Brown who was at the Splore festival in Auckland. Writes Russell:

It was 3.30pm and Tom Scott of Home Brew was due to be Tom Scott of @Peace at 6.30pm on the mainstage at Splore. He’d been onsite overnight, then missed his ride to the airport in the morning. Was he going to make it back?

Yes, he was, pulling off a two-in-one-day extravaganza on par with Phil Collins’ transatlantic Live Aid appearances.

raglan-wharfThis is Raglan, where I live now. Does this look nice? People tell me Raglan is nice and relaxing – which it is – but here’s the thing: no one wants to be relaxed and chilled out all the time. I haven’t lived in a small town before and I rather like city life. Cities have interesting stuff in them like footpaths and public transport and bookshops. I miss those things.

But Raglan has quite a cool museum, and there’s a cafe that does pretty good Cambodian food. And the sushi joint actually makes fresh sushi, rather than having pre-made packs. And there’s a cool little second-hand bookshop where I found the most amazing old New Zealand book that I will write about soon.

queen-street-brisbaneBut if I can’t live in a city, I can at least visit cities. This is me and my bro having dinner at a restaurant in the middle of Queen Street Mall in Brisbane. He is using his phone instead of talking to me. It was the middle of winter, which is a very pleasant time of year in Queensland.

We went for a hoon down the coast. All these little Gold Coast towns are like what Brits dream of when they watch Home and Away on a cold, miserable English summer’s day – fit, tanned teens strolling around town. But the reality is probably more like Muriel’s Wedding. Also, Surfers Paradise on a Sunday is kind of bleak.

vanuatu-billboardI also went to Vanuatu. Here’s the thing – Vanuatu is a #thirdworldcountry. It’s even on the United Nations list of least developed countries. But it has really good cell coverage (from multiple providers) that is very popular with the locals, even ones who live in remote villages.

This billboard was advertising mobael intanet. It’s written in Bislama, the English-based creole that’s widely spoken in Vanuatu and is one of my favourite languages. “Traem wetem 50vt nomo” means “Try with only 50 vatu”. 50 vatu is about 60 New Zealand cents – cheap!

The mobile broadband I used was good and cheap. It puts a bit of perspective on those misguided #firstworldproblems tweets.

te-papa-wellingtonI went back to Wellington in November for the National Digital Forum, a conference about the intersection of museums, libraries, galleries, archives and the digital world. Held at Te Papa, it offered access to the secret world of the national museum’s conference facilities, including majestic harbour views. It was good. I’d previously attended a couple of Webstocks, both of which left me all revved up but feeling a little empty after a few weeks. The NDF was a lot calmer, smarter and didn’t have speakers running around yelling empty slogans like “Do awesome things!”

Wellington had not changed at all, but it had also changed a lot. The pizza cafe in the old toilet block was open. The city was full of Hobbit advertising. There was a cafe dedicated to artisan cordials. The Moore Wilson trompe l’oeil mural of ’80s groceries had been painted over. But the curious thing – I didn’t feel like a visitor. I felt more like I’d just not gone out much over the previous six months, and now finally I’d been bothered to go into town.

robyn-reflectionAs predicted last year, the world did not end on 21 December and I happily celebrated my 38th birthday. I was going to say that 38 is a weird age – not young enough to be a young ‘un; not old enough to be adult. But then I realised that’s actually every year from the age of 12. Also, I again turned off my age on Facebook and almost no one wished me happy birthday. The ones who did: u r golden.

So, 2012. Quite a good year, full of nice things. I have a smartphone that takes photos, and that’s about enough for me.

And in conclusion:


2011: An adventure

Oh, 2011. What a craZy year you have been. Ok, let’s do this chronologically, because that’s the only kind of logic that works with 2011.

The end of 2010 seemed like a good point to leave TVNZ, so I decided not to renew my contract for 2011. I had enough saved to live on for several months, so I figured I would have at least a more relaxed year, if not a whole year off, and maybe travel a bit and have some adventures.

What it says
Street art in Poplar Lane, now demolished

In early January I went to Christchurch, my first visit since the September 2010 earthquake. It was a bit bashed around, but I could see things were getting back on track. It gave me hope for the future. Oh, the irony, etc.

I went to Webstock, my first time as a proper attendee. It was uplifting and inspiring, especially Merlin Mann’s very moving talk on fear. Handy hint: if you have an iPhone and you don’t have a job or contents insurance, don’t accidentally drop your phone on the hard tiles at the Wellington Town Hall.

My post-Webstock buzz lasted three days, abruptly shoved out of the way by the awful Christchurch earthquake. I put my oodles of spare time to use, getting involved with the Christchurch Recovery Map web project.

Rooftop bar
From a rooftop bar in Harajuku

That could be a segue into my visit to Japan, but the earthquake in Tokyo and aftermath took up maybe half a day of my time there. The rest was sightseeing and exploring and, ok, the occasional interview with New Zealand radio.

After Japan I paid a brief visit to Napier, where I explored the city as inspired by the Shell Guide to New Zealand. I discovered the Napier War Memorial Conference Centre, the disappearance of the boating lake, and the joyful universe of Trainworld.

Still with plenty of spare time, I created a new web project for myself – 5000 Ways to Love You. I’m reviewing every NZ On Air-funded music video I can get my hands on. So far I’m up to 1995. Revisiting the ’90s reminded me of music video trend for male shirtlessness in the early ’90s, with mixed results. Cheers to Morgan for hosting it!

And speaking of Morgs, I joined him, Ben and Dylan on the Discourse Weekly Show, New Zealand’s Best Podcast. It’s quite fun hanging out and talking about technology, television and corned beef with the dudes.

Over winter I had a four-month contract with the NZ Film Festival. I fulfilled a lifelong goal of writing a film note for the festival programme, but I watched too many films and something broke inside me. Seriously, since leaving the festival, I’ve seen two films: “Snark Night 3D”, which is not even good trash; and “Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part One”, which was utterly extravagant and glorious. I still like television, though.

Tea time at Hardware Société cafe

In September the sun came. I went to Melbourne, having vowed to return in 2011 after previously visiting in 1991 and 2001. First I revisited all my old neighbourhoods, but discovered they weren’t so much fun any more. So I set about exploring the bustling laneways of central Melbourne. It’s a good city for eating.

Over on Tumblr, I reviewed all 35 of Britney Spears’ music videos. I discovered that Britney’s videos often feature paparazzi, with frequent scenes of cameras getting all up in her face. She doesn’t usually get the guy, being left alone and lonely. But her last video ended with something of a happy ending at last. Yay, Britney.

Back in Wellington, I volunteered with NZ On Screen’s New Zealand On Screen display, an interactive history of New Zealand film and television, in a shipping container down by the waterfront. It was a fun experience. Lots of parents came in and showed their kids the Goodnight Kiwi clip, only to discover they had to also explain that in the olden days, television used to stop at night.

And somehow – and I’m still not entirely sure how this happened – I became fully embroiled in the fandom of John and Edward Grimes, aka Irish pop twins Jedward. I’ve never been part of a fandom before, so it’s quite exciting to finally, legitimately be involved in one. But maybe the best bit is discovering a really cool community of other older Jedward fans, many of whom are, curiously enough, former goths. I like Jedward. They make me smile.

I was interviewed in the Dominion Post for an article on New Zealand bloggers. The printed version featured a giant, quarter page photo of me and described me as a “content guru”, whatever that means. Most people only mentioned the photo, which is slightly annoying because I didn’t even take the photo. I just put some eyeliner on.

But photos I did take featured in Public Address’ new photoblog Capture. I’m a contributor along with talented photographers Jackson Perry and Jonathan Ganley. We weren’t sure how it would be received, but the PA community has taken to it with great enthusiasm.

No events
A youth centre in Christchurch has no events to offer

In December I returned to Christchurch and explored its crack problem. I toured the Red Zone, but also found cool little corners blossoming with new life.

On the job side of things, I’m still unemployed. A fistful of rejection emails reveals that perhaps I’m even less of a “content guru” than I had thought, as I don’t seem to be able to get work in the wonderful world of web content production at the moment. But, guys, I have bills to pay. I have a head full of ideas and not enough outlets for them. What’s a girl to do?

I expected an adventure in 2011 and I got one.

Shibuya, Tokyo. Photo by Jon Ellis.

Out of 2010

2010 or two-thousand-and-ten or twenty-ten was a year. Here are some things I did in that year.

In January I paid a visit to sunny Gisborne, exploring both the town and larger region. Gisborne feels like a cross between small New Zealand town and a tropical South Seas port town. It manages to be both glam and dinky, along with a fistful of magnificent scenery.

Leis and hi-viz vests

Learning from last year’s awful Sevens weekend experience, I had planning in advance, escaping to Christchurch for the weekend. This led some to believe that I had a SECRET BOYFRIEND in Christchurch (because why would anyone willingly go there otherwise?)

In March I saw the Cribs play, along with their new guitarist who used to be in that band that is quite good. Despite the audience being filled with iPhone-toting dads who were intent on capturing a blurry, grainy photo of their rock hero, the Jarman brothers and Mr Marr put on a good serious show.

Again this year I was involved with the 48HOURS film competition. It’s always thrilling to see the fresh teams disappear off into the Newtown night, only to reappear two days later in a state of weary, sleep-deprivation, but clutching their disks of cinematic gold, or part thereof.

As a judge I went to all the heats, and sat through several rool out-of-it-as films, like the Dirty Bird film and that one about the pole-dancing Olympic committee. And then there was Simon Peter’s film The Legend of Simon Pederson (NSFW. There’s a hilltop penis in it.)

My absolute fave film was the runner-up, The Wake Up. It’s a lovely romantic comedy, but also manages to be really stylish and with a great soundtrack and cool urban vibe. Yeah.

I accidentally appeared in the Dominion Post as a local woman who doesn’t want public transport costs to increase. This experience made me realise that lots of people still read the paper in its printed form, and that also people get really excited when they see someone they know in the paper. Best thing about it though, I ended up with a really moody urban portrait from it.


I needed a winter project and I found one – I watched every Madonna video and wrote about them on my Tumblr blog. Despite Madonna’s reputation as a constant reinventor of personal style, I discovered that she actually sticks with a number of styles that she knows works on her, just updating them for whatever’s in fashion. It’s always corsets, power suits and 1940s floral dresses.

In August, bleak midwinter, I jumped on the Cook Strait ferry and sailed over to the South Island. I discovered that the Interislander is like a floating bus depot, and that people who take the ferry are rather unlike people who fly.

From Picton, I took the TranzCoastal train down to Christchurch and – it turned out – I was lucky to be able to explore the city a month before the September earthquake that smashed my SECRET BOYFRIEND up a bit.

How we like to remember

I contributed to Heyday’s Down To The Wire project, a brilliant website that looks at New Zealand’s web history. I pop up in 1996 and 1997 talking about the olden days of personal websites, back when the webs ran on a coal-powered steam engine.

In October, I paid a visit to my bro in Brisbane and explored a bit of Queensland, including a visit to Dreamworld, which after seeing Inception was a bit of a disappointment. (I’m about halfway writing about my adventures here, so hold on, ok.)

Queensland Art Gallery

November was real busy, as I had two presentations to foist upon Wellington creative groups. First I gave a five-minute talk at the mash-up-themed Webstock Mini. I talked about using the 1968 Shell Guide to New Zealand to take on my holidays.

Then later in the month, I gave a talk at the ninth Wellington Pecha Kucha Night expanding on the Shell Guide as a sort of anti-travel philosophy; that sometimes you’ve just got to put the travel guide down.

You know what’s weird? Despite living in this digital world where everyone seems to have a camera on them, I’ve yet to find a single photo of the event. Instead I’ll link to Tom Beard’s slides from his PKN presentation back in April. It was a good one.

I joined Morgan and Ben as a regular contributor on their podcast, the Discourse Weekly Show, offering cultural commentary from the luxurious Studio 3 (there are mohair throws).


The year ended with me deciding to not renew my work contract for 2011. After putting in a few good years in the world of morning telly (and meeting some massive celebrities), it just seemed like a good time to call it a day. And it gives me the added thrill of having the anything-could-happen potential for 2011.

I turned 36, and discovered that if you remove your birthday from Facebook and don’t tweet it, hardly anyone will actually know it’s your birthday. Maybe if I can make the few rememberers forget it too, I’ll stop having birthdays altogether and have discovered the secret of eternal youth. Wait – that would be so awful.

And as a nice bookend for the year, I saw the Trons and The Shrugs play at the Yot Club in Raglan. The Trons captivated the audience, causing one dude to exclaim to a friend, “I can’t believe that it’s actually robots playing to us, bro. With personalities.” The Shrugs remain one of my favourite bands, so it’s always ace to see them live, along with the usual suspects in the audience.

So let’s end 2010 with a Trons video, for the aptly titled song Time’s Up. And it was filmed at the old dairy factory just down the road from the house I grew up in.

Good August and other months

I started the year by recreating the Cover Girl lipgloss ad task from “America’s Next Top Model”, thanks to Jo of Pretty Pretty Pretty. It is important for a modern girl to know how to work the camera.

I was lucky enough to go to Webstock, but due to the Current Economic Climate I had go there as a door-holding, clock-watching volunteer, but I possibly had more fun than I would have if I’d gone as a regular attendee. I got to see my long-time interweb heroes Derek Powazek and Heather Champ’s talk on online communities, which was inspiring.

Hanging out

Oh God – Sevens weekend, possibly the most miserable weekend of the year. Lots of my friends left town, leaving me to face a city full of drunken munters. This has left me determined to avoid the broken glass and vomit in 2010 by leaving town for the weekend.

But on the good side of sports, I made a vow to see live sports games. I went to a test cricket match, a Phoenix game, and the mighty All Whites World Cup qualifier. I’m still not ready to sell my soul to any particular sport, but at least I think I get football.


I went to Auckland for a few days for business and pleasure. I unexpectedly saw legendary Auckland punk band The Spelling Mistakes play “Feels So Good”, which was something I had never expected to see. I also realised that the Auckland of now is no longer the Auckland I left. At the time, I felt quite melancholic about it, but a later visit revealed Auckland to be all right, still.

Much fun was had on a panel at the Young Labour Conference, talking about blogs, online communities and politics along with Keith Ng and David Farrar. This is where I got to share my wisdom with the younger generation.

De La Orgee

I saw De La Soul perform at the Opera House. The last time I saw them live was in 1991, was I was a huge De La fan. They were touring to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their debut album, “Three Feet High and Rising”. And that made me wonder what it would be like for me to revisit stuff I’d created when I was 19. No wonder De La were chopping up their old stuff, mixing it up to make something new.

I watched Too Many Films this year. Too Many Films going being entertainment and into a state of being. I initially watched Too Many Films from around 1993 to 2004, but somehow managed to get sober in the mid 2000s. I thought I was over it, but a combination of the 48Hours film competition, the Film Festival and seeing many new releases as Slevin’s plus-one dragged me right back into it. Therefore, I have no life; I watch films instead.

Speaking of 48Hours, one is still haunted by the splendid Wellington regional winner, “Otack Otack Otack Fall“.

I also went to many theatrical shows this year, and (re)learned the ancient art of writing reviews. It turns out there’s more to say than “It was nice. I liked it.” I especially enjoyed “Biography of my Skin” a collaboration between actress Miranda Harcourt and her husband Stuart McKenzie, all about marriage and being complicated. It gave me hope.

Heh, remember earlier in the year when everyone was freaking right out about swine flu and how everyone was going to die, etc? Those were fun times.

I ended up with a swine cold, the downside of which was not being able to go to Napier for a holiday (but there would have been awful weather had I gone), and the upside of which was getting prescribed coff-b-gone, a cough syrup containing morphine. Aw yeah, I said morphine. Though in the middle of that wobbly, blissed-out week, I saw “Bruno” and laughed even though I knew it wasn’t funny, so I was glad to eventually get well.

Storm a-brewin'

After being thrown around by June and July, I decided that August would be good. In fact, I gave August its own hashtag (#goodaugust) and indeed it was a good month. You should try this. It works.

I went to WordCamp, which was not about words nor a camp. Instead it was a two-day un-conference about WordPress (the thing my blog runs on). It was most interesting, but I ended up leaving early on the second day because the sun was shining and I needed to be outside and not be in a suburban bowling club.

The power supply for my laptop broke, and I had to wait over a week for the new one to come. I turned to “books”, with their “pages” and “ink”, reading Dan Brown’s thrilling piece of shit “The Lost Symbol” and my DCM Book Fair acquisition, “True Colours” – Dave Armstrong’s funny and insightful account of the lead up to the 1996 election campaign.


I finally got to have some holiday and travel, with an excursion to the South Island. I was based in Christchurch and then Dunedin, but also explored some surrounding parts of Canterbury, Otago and Southland. I also fulfilled my lifelong dream of going to Gore.

I also took many notes and wrote an epic 10-part account of my travels. “You should write a book,” the people said. “But I haven’t even got out of bed yet,” Robyn replied.

The year nicely ended(-ish) with the Fourth Annual Wellingtonista Awards, celebrating the best of Wellington. I presented a few awards, joined in the festivities, and ended up performing “Buffalo Stance” in the hipster karaoke that followed.

And I turned 35, which took ages to happen. I was somehow expecting a dull day, but it actually turned out to be splendid with sunshine and delicious food and spending time with lovely friends.

So, quite a good year. And while Twitter ate my 2008, I had more a harmonious relationship with it this year:

I just completed an awesome 100 piece jigsaw puzzle of some Barbies riding horses on a California beach.
4:30 PM Dec 18th from Tweetie

Seven, Eight

At the stroke of midnight I was walking with Morgan and Andy in the grassy bit behind Maclaurin Chapel at the university, talking about the benefits of protein bars (?!). In the distance people started cheering and fireworks started spewing out of the top of the Sky Tower, so I figured that 2007 had smudged into 2008.

Ol’ 2007 turned out to be quite a good year. As far as this goes, the thing I’m most pleased with was finally ditching LiveJournal and moving back to using WordPress on my own website. It’s a bit more work running things here, but I enjoy it.

So, yeah, that was fun. Let’s do it again this year.


So that 2006, eh. It was a rather good year, yes?

I took a lot of photos.

I travelled a lot around the North Island, getting as far as Waitangi in the north, Napier in the east, New Plymouth in the west, and Wellington in the south. And Whangamomona. (I suppose this means next year I’ll have to go to Gore.)

I don’t want to pick favourites, but I had such a lovely time in Napier that I want to go back soon, and New Plymouth surprised me with its sophistication (even though the local cinema was sticky).

I survived the power cut that plunged Auckland into Third World poverty for a few hours. Boohoo, no latte, I’m an Aucklander, etc.

I had Lasik, which was a somewhat unpleasant experience, but being liberated from the need to wear bits of glass, metal and plastic on my face is just the best thing ever and has enhanced my everyday life in so many different ways.

I celebrated the 10th anniversary of my www cybertron web page thing. Actually, not celebrated. Maybe I’ll leave that for the 25th anniversary or the book launch.

I made another short film along with the talented and completely rad Fractured Radius team.

I cut a demo with my folk/industrial/grindcore band Protest Pyg, but it needs work.

I was part of an interesting discussion panel with Danah Boyd and others on the subject of MySpace and online communities. And later I shared what I learned with some people at work.

Ryan published some of my stuff in Craccum, and apparently someone complained that it was condoning date rape, which made me feel like it was 1998. I also told a story or two.

And some other stuff which I refuse to immortalise online.

Hey, that was fun. Let’s do it again in 2007.


2005 and all

It’s completely obscene to be up at 9am on New Year’s Day. I should be in bed, somewhere near a beach, asleep. I have to work today, and just like last year, I picked New Years Day over Christmas Day.

So yesterday I did the panel on National Radio. It was lots of fun. The show was well-structured and well-researched and Peter, James and I had lots of talk about. It’ll eventually show up on National’s website, so I’ll post it here when that shows up and you can hear me and Jon Bridges talk about how old skool I am. Word.

As far as a year in review thing goes, I’m reckoning this was the most popular thing I wrote last year. Poor Shel’.

This was my favourite day, hooray.

Last night I decided to throw a bit of effort in the way of New Years Eve and picked the closest celebratory place, Mt Eden. I got up to the roundabout where the summit road loop starts when I realised that I probably didn’t have enough time to make it to the summit before midnight, so I waited with a bunch of people halfway up.

The fireworks looked pretty good. I took some photos using the fireworks setting on my camera, but this is about the best of the bunch. I think I need a tripod.

“Ow, those were stink fireworks,” said a lady standing near me. I don’t know what she was expecting, but whatever she didn’t get, I did.