Hi, I'm Morgs and this is From The Morg. Need any more info? Oh alright, you twisted my arm (amazing what you can do over the internet these days!). I had a weekly column in the Wanganui Chronicle for it's youth-oriented 'Whatever' page every Friday. The following contains all the columns I wrote for it, as they were originally written. Enjoy!

2004 Archive
January - June '05
Individual Game Reviews
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005

Good move?

It’s the end of term 2 for 2005. Right now, I’m sitting in the Ucol library and realise I have just about lost the will to study. In 2002, I worked as a Ucol Student Ambassador which meant promoting the institute to other secondary school students. I immensely enjoyed it, particularly meeting all the friendly tutors and staff. So really it was a no-brainer I’d end up studying here. At the start of last year, I was all set and ready to go with the course I’d signed up for (that being the Diploma in Information and Communications Technology). It started out great in all ways. Then come September, it started falling apart.

During an unscheduled tutorial, it was announced to myself and one other student that our course would be discontinued starting 2005. When asked if we had any questions, mine was “you just don’t get it, do ya?” and with that I walked out. An hour or so later the rest of my course mates showed up for the scheduled class, and we told them the bad news. The reason given to us was insufficient numbers – it’s not like they couldn’t see the numbers at the start of the year (you know, while we could still get our $3-6,000 refunded). So there’s the whole class ready to learn while we still could, and the tutor doesn’t even show up.

So instead we decide to cool down a bit, throwing a rugby ball around. After that – off to fight the good fight! Our first step was the Council building, we weren’t sure who we needed to see but ended up being told the Mayor (Chas Poynter) would get back to us. Next on the list was Whanganui MP Jill Pettis. After being berated about our names and the ‘arrogance of youth’, we were finally able to tell our story and she said she’d get back to us. That afternoon I got a call from Chas, and we all hastily made our way to meet with him. He was very receptive, and asked that I email him with a complete record of the facts.

Six days later, Ms Pettis called to say that we were on our own; there was nothing she could do. She was half-right. The Mayor had in the meantime managed to get our course reinstated. This was great news, although the way that management handled things it doesn’t seem like their plan changed much.

We work with antiquated equipment which doesn’t perform the tasks necessary for practical assessments. We’re essentially down to two tutors. Some of the things we need to learn, they don’t know. Half way through this year, and I still can’t get the Student Allowance due to administration errors. We’re not perfect students, but we really don’t have any incentive to try any more.

By all means, make a Good Move to Ucol. For the most part it’s still a great place. I just got the short end of the stick.

Grand ideas

Apparently it’s not a grand idea to… whatever exactly it is that I did last week. In any case, I’ve been asked to retract certain parts of last week’s column, on the grounds that they were unfair to Ucol. I’d like to reiterate here that “From the Morg” is for all purposes an opinion piece, and my opinions aren’t all fluffy bunnies. Moods affect how one writes, and how one reads. I was absolutely exhausted last week, and vented a key frustration. What I said was how I felt, not any kind of personal or professional attack. I also seem to recall recommending Ucol as a place of study in my conclusion. Much like when I compared SOS to Superheroes, it appears to me that sometimes people ignore the positive in order to justify their focus on the negative. For what it’s worth, the remaining tutors are doing what they can with the limited resources available.

Just quickly, seeing War of the Worlds has helped me out a bit - I now have some more fuel for Everyone Stupid Dies. A prime example of characters who lack logic almost entirely, and in some cases betray for no reason the motive they’ve been building the whole time. I know ESD won’t be amazing, but I’m not Spielberg, I don’t have any A-list stars, a script adapted from H. G. Wells, or billions of dollars… you could say I expected more.

On to more pertinent matters now. Whanganui Youth Collect’D have a new facilitator in Carla Donson and a new home at the Ladies’ Rest building next to the Opera House. There’s a common misconception that the building is an extension of the public toilets, like a giant powder room or something – thankfully that’s not the case. The meeting with the Community Development Committee a few weeks ago went well, and we’re confirmed to present to a special meeting of the full Council on the 18th. Our presentation will cover an overview of our progress and function as a group thus far, and be focused on how we aim to establish a Whanganui Youth Council for next year, including structure, guidelines, application processes, what a ‘working party’ needs to do in the meantime, and the definite distinction between WYC’D and the proposed Youth Council.

We’re working extremely hard on getting this presentation as good as it possibly can be, with many of us putting in considerable extra time outside our regular meeting times. We’ve also had a very helpful and productive meeting with Rosemary Hovey and Cr Sue Westwood which has set us along the exact track we need to be on. It feels pretty good to be this close to such a huge step, and the potential for great things it presents. So come on down to the Council building on the 18th, we kick off at 4pm. Come and witness Whanganui history in the making. I can say with some confidence that this is indeed a grand idea.

Obituary

“Everyone has their memory. I’ve been thinking about this for a while now, and I’ve come to realise that I don’t have a single one. The reason for that, is because I attribute most of my life to this woman. Thank you for everything.”

For the better part of a decade I’ve lived with my Nana, Jean Bell. On Sunday the 10th of July at around 9pm, she passed away peacefully. She’d been sick for a long time now, so you could say I’d seen it coming – and I think it’s better this way than if it had been sudden and blindsiding. As it is, most of the sadness comes from the pain and suffering she went through this year, and a sense of relief that she’s at peace now.

As is par-for-the-course, the whole family came here to stay for the past week and a half. For the most part they’ve been a tremendous help in their own many ways. When I sat down this time last week reading the paper in case any inspiration came to me about column topics, most of them suggested I should write about how “my family has taken over my house, I can’t stand any of ‘em, why can’t they just leave?”. It’s just not the case. I mostly just stick to my room anyway, the front of the house is really only for food and the occasional bit of SKY TV. Then everyone left within a couple of hours of the funeral, leaving me and my brother as the only occupants. I shouldn’t have to tell you how weird that feels.

The quote at the beginning of this piece is what I said at the funeral, and while there are so many memories from significant moments to great jokes to simple everyday things, I’d like to share one with you now. Lately my day-to-day life has consisted of rolling out of bed, having a shower, saying hello/goodbye to Nana and my Uncle, and rushing off to Ucol (usually late). I’d ask Nana how she was, and she’d always say “better now I’ve seen you”. And that helped make things worthwhile.

Before I go, I’d like to thank absolutely everyone for their support during these hard times. My personal list includes both sides of my family, my friends who attended the funeral and helped me and my brother Grayden bury Nana – Antz, Sam, Jarrod and Hayden. My friends who have all passed on their condolences and have said “If there’s anything I can do…” – Jessie, Rob & Damelza, Steven & Steph, Gary, James, Jazz and the whole WYC’D crew. I’ve probably forgotten someone(s), so to everyone – Thank you.

Jean Bell
1933-2005
Rest in Peace

Apologies amongst Controversy

I’d like to apologise for something I said a few weeks ago. “So come on down to the Council building on the 18th, we kick off at 4pm. Come and witness Whanganui history in the making. I can say with some confidence that this is indeed a grand idea.”

Not long after I wrote that, my confidence was shot in the foot. I’d like to apologise to anyone who turned up expecting what I advertised. I certainly don’t set out each week to mislead readers. I’m not about to trust the classic phrase “I was misheard / misreported” again. When it came to confirming the special meeting of full council concerning the formation of a Youth Council, the mayor had apparently forgotten all about it, despite it being his suggestion to begin with. Instead, the 18th became a special ‘preview’ presentation for him to decide whether we have merit enough to present to full council. We’ve spent weeks working on a solid presentation which we were told would have to be an hour minimum. Shortly after I finish writing this we’ll be required to give a condensed version to the same audience as always at the Community Development Committee, 15 minutes maximum.

It feels odd to me that such a marked downgrade constitutes progress, but here I am talking about delays and demotions like they’re new things in bureaucracy. For now it’s just a situation we have to make the most of, and I intend to.

So the abortion debate is raging again, and it’s always the same story. Protesters say “abortion is murder”, everyone else says “abortion is upheld by freedom of choice”. The idea has been brought up recently that abortion is no more than a means to practise discrimination. An effort to lessen the number of poor, black or mentally deficient people in the world. I say that’s BS. For the most part, abortions are practised when there is no better alternative in the eyes of those involved. Is it the wish of anti-abortionists to see more teenagers trying to raise kids who will likely make the same ‘mistakes’ as their parents? Are they lining up at adoption centres waiting for the next unwanted baby to come their way? Do these protesters and supporters alike sponsor the poor, black and mentally deficient children through WorldVision and other such programs? If they’re not directly offering positive alternatives, they have no place trying to remove others’ rights.

I also have to wonder – are all these ‘anti-murder’ campaigners vegetarian or vegan? Surely, they must remember Meat is Murder just as much as Abortion is.

Updates, Inspirations, and the Nation

There was a mixed feeling coming out of last week’s Community Development Committee meeting. There was some confusion over potential revisions to our presentation, and councillors were not given the discussion document prior to the meeting. We ended up talking to a table which had considerably less understanding of the concepts we were outlining than we anticipated. In any case it seems as though things can proceed with some level of definition. The turnout was rather impressive actually, with some significant new faces around the table and a full public audience. Overall I’m feeling positive about it.

It’s often said that if you can touch just one person with a positive light, that’s all that matters. As I was sitting in the audience at the CDC meeting before we were up, an older woman tapped me on the shoulder and asked “Are you Morg?”. I replied yes, and she handed me a note before leaving the meeting. It read that she was touched by the column I did about my Nana, and that she’d been there when WYC’D first presented to CDC. She said that we were sure to do well, and to keep up the good work. Thank you, we sure will.

Right now, WYC’D is in the process of becoming a separate and distinct entity from the ‘working party’ to establish the Youth Council. WYC’D will be focussing on building its community profile, researching widely what is important to all youth in Whanganui, and organising some events. If you’d like to have a say or help out in any way, feel free to email wycd@ihug.co.nz or stop by the Ladies’ Rest next to the Opera House between 5-7pm on Mondays.

We’ve also got a nice list of guests lined up for the next few weeks, including but not limited to Whanganui MP Jill Pettis, youngest Member of Parliament Darren Hughes, and Chronicle Editor John Maslin. It’s going to be a very interesting time, I’m really looking forward to it.

Tonight, I’ll be heading to the Eulogy Conference Room to witness a man who many describe as a cult leader in action. Bishop Brian Tamaki is here in Whanganui to ‘expose a government gone evil, a radical homosexual agenda, the media: a modern day witchcraft, and the retreat of religion in New Zealand’. I’m really excited about this. Even just from reading his FAQ, he clearly has one mission – to force his thinking upon everyone else. I believe that I’m able to resist his influence, I was laughing out loud at a lot of what he’s had to say. Power words and fear phrases only take one so far in life. When someone stands up and declares New Zealand is ‘a nation under siege’, that’s entertainment. When there’s nothing else you can do, laugh. It also doesn’t hurt to laugh if you can do other things as well. I’ll have to remember to stop by a novelty shop and pick up a Witch’s hat, I am part of the Media, afterall.

“It’s time for Christians to come out of the closet!”

Exclaimed Bishop Brian Tamaki, joined by DestinyNZ Party Leader Richard Lewis as they stopped by Whanganui on their “Nation Under Siege” tour. Since one of their key topics was “The Media: Modern Day Witchcraft”, I just had to go along. My buddy Sam and brother Grayden and I went along wearing witch hats so we could be easily identified as media, and perhaps be burned at the stake.

Twenty minutes in, I was lucky to stay awake because it only took Tamaki that long to mention Nazis. He had an alright reason to though – he’s been widely accused of being a Nazi by unimaginative journalists. Still it risks putting me comatose, so it was a good thing I had a drink of Coke handy. Ten minutes later Tamaki was still comparing himself and other protest groups against iconic evils, and at this point looked over at my party and joked about us being the Ku Kux Klan. Nevermind the obvious flaw that witch hats are black, which the KKK wouldn’t be seen dead in.

From there, the entire presentation was based around what Destiny calls “family values”. This approach basically just takes all the things that people see as evil – abortions, bastards, homosexuals, prostitution… things that aren’t crimes but this group thinks should be. They call civil unions ‘an assault on the institution of marriage’, claim that homosexuality breaks down families. That the legalisation of prostitution is the direct cause of child prostitutes in Auckland. They made a lot of links that aren’t exactly accurate, and the crowd was eating it up. Throughout the whole speech, there was a chorus of “that’s right”, “Amen”, and the like. A whole room of people preaching a message of love based on hate and discrimination.

There were plenty of holes in the message, too. Simple things like listing ‘booze’ and ‘alcohol’ as two different things and saying ‘penetrate’ way too many times for a preacher. More obvious flaws such as declaring that Jesus is the God of the Universe. Last time I checked Jesus was supposed to be God’s son, and how long has the Bible included mention of the Universe? All I ever heard / read was Heavens and Earth. Richard Lewis also started out saying that Family is the most important thing there is, and minutes later contradicting himself saying that God is. And of course, there’s my opening quote.

What was most interesting, is that very often they would say “Destiny’s vision is for the future generation!” and yet the only people there between 10 and 30 were my lot and a group of crossdressers who left halfway through (not sure if they were booted or left freely). Lewis said he was going to detail their key policies, but only listed categories (“we have policies on crime, taxes, health…”) which are identical for every party. If you want an excuse to hate and discriminate, vote DestinyNZ. Next up, The Inquisition..

Enter Sandman

Right now I’m trying my best to prove myself wrong. You see, when I haven’t had enough sleep but need to wake up in order to do stuff, my body conspires with my mind to trick me into staying asleep. The tactic used is a clever one – I dream as if I’ve woken up and am going about my day. Because in these instances I know exactly what I need to do, it’s easy for my mind to recreate a scenario that’s totally believable. A couple of weeks ago, I even had one of those dreams you see on TV shows where you keep waking up from one dream and into another. The final dream in that sequence actually predicted exactly what happened when I finally did wake up. Everything from the state of the lounge to the mail I’d receive was dead-on accurate, freaky stuff.

This morning I dreamt it was 4.30pm and I’d missed my deadline, not having anything to write about. I forced myself awake and discovered it was only 9.15am. I don’t know whether you’ve noticed it yet or not, but so far I’ve been stalling for a topic. I’m determined to not be a prophet, you might say.

The Yellow Pages competition “Instant Fame” where you string together up to six categories to form a story has recently finished. I created a few entries but can’t remember them for the life of me now. Awesome news though – I know two of the winners! You might have seen fellow WYC’D attendee Milly Mitchell-Anyon in Wednesday’s Chronicle, and the other winner I know is none other than Robin Thomsen of ICEntertainment and LibertariaNZ fame. His winning story went Body Piercing > Body Piercing > Body Piercing > Employment Agencies > Scrap Metal Dealers. That was my favourite one of his, though it would have been cool if his story dealing with Cryogenic Freezing got through.

Speaking of Mitchell-Anyons though, Ross stopped by the WYC’D meeting this week. You might recall he and I have traded some friendly debate over in the Your Opinion page. Well, apparently he has a habit of buying old buildings and trying to make things happen in them. His latest idea is to use the recently acquired Brass Band rooms in Wicksteed street as a venue for young Whanganui musicians – both for practise and gigs. Personally I love the idea. It’s no secret that we need more opportunities to develop, utilise and display the talents of those who have them. At the Students Association concert in February, I was impressed by the local bands I heard – particularly The Vatican and Someone Else’s Mother. I can’t wait to see what brilliance this project can bring forth. Another idea brought forward was having one or more ‘creative spaces’ around town, where people can just drop in and write, paint, whatever. Apparently they’re very successful elsewhere, and I’d be keen to see it here too.

Next week, it’s Darren Hughes and our own Jill Pettis. Should be fun.

Happy Anniversary to From the Morg !

Can you believe it? This column marks the first full year of From the Morg. This is officially my favourite job I’ve ever had, as well as the one I’ve had the longest. I’ve written columns from Downtown Auckland, and the steps of Parliament. I’ve had great feedback from fans of all ages. I’ve gotten actively involved with youth affairs in Whanganui, and met a lot of interesting people I likely wouldn’t have otherwise. Which brings me to my first topic…

Ross Mitchel-Anyon took a few of us on a tour of the Brass Band hall on Friday, and I must say it shows a heck of a lot of potential. Good space, good location, and after the tour we were all buzzing with ideas on surprisingly feasible ways to improve and utilise the building for all sorts of events. I really think it can work out great.

Labour MPs Jill Pettis and Darren Hughes stopped by the WYC’D meeting this week along with Te Tai Hauauru candidate Errol Mason. I’d already met with Jill before, and must say this time she was much more pleasant. She didn’t mention ‘the arrogance of youth’ or mock anyone’s names, and she actually had plenty of interesting things to say. Darren seems like he’s really on to it. He’s the youngest current MP which gave him startling relevance in the situation. Errol mostly sat back and listened until the last few minutes, I wouldn’t have minded hearing more from him actually. All in all while I hadn’t initially grasped exactly why the Labour party were stopping by WYC’D it turned out to be an enlightening visit.

It was the first contestant in FtM’s very own “Who Asked For It?”, and Helen Clark cut the ribbon on it right after the WYC’D meeting… Please welcome again Pak ‘n’ Save! Yes, the Yellow behemoth has been completed and has opened its doors to the public. On Tuesday night I ventured out with Jessie, Gary and James to get Pizza and drinks. We figured we might as well see what the fuss is about and rushed our way through Pak ‘n’ Save while our Pizzas were being cooked. I’m not sure if there are multiple entrances, the first one we found was from underground, much like Trafalgar Square. I’m not sold on the layout of the place, but when a 2.25l Coke goes for $1.39 you won’t hear too many complaints from me.

That night went really well. It was entirely impromptu and ended up not finishing until well into the morning. One of the highlights for me was discussion/planning for Everyone Stupid Dies – it looks like we could have Stage 2 of our hype available soon, which hopefully will involve a proper teaser trailer.

Until next time, get outside and enjoy this great weather! It’s unusual for me to mention it, but this is seriously noteworthy. Go on, off you go…

Obstacles to/of Fame

I’ll start where I left off – Stage 2 of Everyone Stupid Dies hype. You wouldn’t believe the obstacles presented this week, there was a real sense of “WHY?!” at times. First up was my computer deciding to switch drive letters on me leading to the deletion of all my files. Luckily I keep things like ICEntertainment work stored on a pen drive. Just keep in mind, no one is completely immune to these things. Okay so this was a serious morale drop but didn’t really hinder progress. I managed to get everyone agreeing to meet up on Sunday evening to get some filming done. It looked like it would work out, so of course something else had to go wrong.

Next up was my glasses being bent completely out of shape on Saturday, so I was operating at considerably less than 100% until Monday morning when the Optometrists were open again. They were nice enough to fix my glasses for free though, so it balances out. So there we were at Cooks Gardens, all the people and equipment we needed for the scene, ready to go. And what do you know? The battery on my camera runs out before we get anywhere. It turns out the power point I had the charger in wasn’t working. So we split up and decided to reconvene on Wednesday – and that didn’t work out so well either, all sorts of distractions and family emergencies abound among the group. So long story short, I think I’ll focus on writing the rest of ESD before I worry about getting any of it on film.

In other news, I’m famous on LawsWatch (which arguably isn’t the best place to hold fame). For those not familiar, it’s an internet ‘blog’ site that scrutinises any and all news about the local council, with a mix of humour and an undertone of bitterness. In the area dedicated to Cr Sue Pepperell, it says that they believe she’s the only councillor devoting herself to a worthwhile initiative, but they’re worried that its success is tied to “Diva [Michael Laws] clone Morgs Hunter-Bell”. What can I say? I had to bite. Anyone who knows me at all can tell very easily that I’m nothing like the Mayor, apart from sharing a writing style I had for years before even knowing who he was. I suggested to the blog that if they want actual information I’d be glad to provide it for them.

I was encouraged to do so, and so I gave the basic history of how WYC’D formed, why the need for a Youth Council, etc. The site owners posted it again as a news item which was fairly well received before going way off topic. The funniest thing was a criticism of my column by a visitor – that there’s an air of “Oh, it was just my opinion so who cares if I was completely wrong". I felt exactly that way reading that I’m supposedly a clone of Michael Laws.

Eight Rules

Ladies and Gentlemen: Welcome to “From the Morg”. This week we take a time out from politics if for no other reason than everywhere else you go, that’s what you’ll find. So here are eight rules that hopefully might make as much sense to you as they do to me.

The first rule of Fight Club is, you don’t talk about Fight Club. The way I see it, talking about it is fine – amongst people who’ve also seen it. The only thing you can really say about it to someone who hasn’t seen it is “you need to see it” (with the optional add-on “… when you’re old enough”). Fantastic film, and the only people I’ve known to disagree had serious problems understanding that it isn’t about glorifying violence at all.

Second rule: When the trailer for a movie tells you everything about the plot including any twists (Flight of the Phoenix, The Island), don’t waste your money watching the full film. You’ve just seen everything you need to for free either on TV or before another movie, why bother paying for an extended version?

Third rule: As weird as this sounds coming from a guy who loves videogames and all sorts of electronic entertainment, get outside when the weather is good. Just take some time out to bask or go for a walk. Winter’s over, and it barely even felt like it passed. Aren’t we lucky?

Fourth rule: MP3 players are a fantastic alternative to radio. Listen to the music you like, when you want. Personally I tune in to Juice or C4 occasionally to see if there’s anything good I’m missing, and there’s usually not much (new Nickelback album soon, can’t wait!).

Fifth rule: Take photos. Write about things that happen. Chronicle the significant and the irrelevant times of your life equally. You never know what you’ll want to recall correctly in the future.

Sixth rule: Always make sure you have copies of anything you create. One day you will lose something you can’t faithfully recreate, and you’ll kick yourself if you don’t have a backup. The things that you acquire can usually be replaced.

Seventh rule: Give everyone you meet the benefit of the doubt at first. Go in to new situations with an open mind and a clean slate. If you treat someone with respect and get crap flung at you, it’s entirely their problem, not yours. From there it’s up to you what course of action fits best.

And the eighth and final rule: When there’s nothing else you can do, laugh. I can’t stress this enough. Remember a lot of things and people in life are petty, what’s the use in becoming part of that? Keep smirking and you’ll confuse a lot of people who don’t think they have a reason to.