Who has got the cure for the sit-at-home blues? Ask Dr Grabthar. Now with bigger, easier to read font!

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Today's Post...

What's on today then?

Nothing actually. Yeah, I know a whole week with only one real post. It is a bloody long one though!

I promise that next week (after Monday) there will be:

  • a post about my trip to the wedding (maybe with photos)
  • a couple of photos from my Easter trip
  • a post about cheating in sports with references to rugby and league
  • another attempt at basketball reporting.

Until then why don't you try my new link on the side bar?

Aren't you lucky? All that stuff to look forward to, plus a new website with pretty cartoons to read.

But this means you have to come back next week, I'll see you then.


Wednesday, March 30, 2005

My Holiday (a long story)

I have cut a short story long (so to speak). So you may want to grab a coffee first. Also as a caution this post does contain swearing.

The Metservice told us to turn back. Toni Marsh warned us not to go. Even Amy’s gammy knee was playing up. However we are not ones to listen to caution and so we set off into the driving rain and thunderstorms towards the west coast of the North Island.

The rain was brutal and the traffic respectfully slowed down for its nasty sting. Visibility was down to ten, maybe five, metres. Fuckers in 4WDs drove past, but not much faster, the rain was quite heavy and even they were scared.

The last time I had driven in weather like that was on New Years day 2000, the weather on that day had been apocalyptic. We were travelling to the beach to relax in the sun for a few days after having witnessed the changing of the millennium (and one of my friends do the best Kenny Rogers impersonation Sky City Casino has ever seen). The rain was driving in the opposite direction to us and travelling roughly 200km per hour. Rounding one corner we suddenly came across a stinging wall of hail I braked hard and the tailgating bastard behind me was forced on to the side of the road. Many cars were parked on the side of the motorway, fearing the End of Days no doubt.

Back to present, we charged on with the radio blasting some of that beautiful New Zealand music on Kiwi (and occasionally The WBC who suck). It was still relatively early in the morning so drivers were not taking too many chances, no crazy passing manoeuvres, no jostling for position. By the time we made Pukerua Bay the weather had slackened some and the driving got better. In a shrewd move the police (or a similar power) had closed all of the passing lanes from Wellington to Levin; this meant one long queue of traffic. It took an hour and a half to reach Waikanae.

Just outside of Sanson we were gearing up to stop for lunch. The weather got angry and the traffic slowed again. We must have been in the intelligent group of drivers; you had to drive by the taillights of the car in front but no one was tailgating. Just before reaching Sanson there were the remnants of an earlier nose-to-tail involving four or so cars. We decided to stop for food.

My friend Dave emailed me before we left and said that “if Jesus had had his way it would be called Good Sunday, but not really the best Friday I’ve ever had”. Recent legislation means that if you work on a holiday (any holiday) you are entitled to time-and-a-half pay and a day in lieu. Many food retailers are now opening on holidays, like they normally would, but charging the customer a surcharge to cover this new policy. There is one word for this surcharge: Balls (there are other words, please email me with any suggestions you have). You are opening on the holiday; this means you expect to make a profit; if you aren’t going to make a profit stay closed and have a nice day off. Motivated by greed the owners are passing on this charge to the customer and blaming the government. Only food places do this too. We went to movies on Easter Sunday, they didn’t have a surcharge. No retail store would do well during the holidays if they added 20% to their prices. So café owners what makes you think you can? If we saw a “there is a surcharge” sign we walked on by, or straight out of the food outlet.

Just before we reached Paraparaumu (yes, this narrative is a little haphazard) I swore loudly. My girlfriend is getting used to these loud outbursts over small matters. “What?” “I forgot the fucking camera!” “Oh well, we’ll just get a disposable one and have them put the photos on CD” “Oh, ok, that’ll do I suppose”. Amy is a calming influence.

Just before we reached Bulls (yes, this paragraph does look like the last one) I swore loudly. My girlfriend is getting used to these loud outbursts over small matters. “What?” “I forgot the fucking cell phone charger!” “Oh well, I’ve got mine we should be fine” “Oh, yeah you’re right; I can live without my phone for one weekend”.

Just as we reached Patea (home of the Patea Māori Club) I swore loudly and drove off the road. My girlfriend is used to these loud outbursts over small matters. “What?” “I forgot the goddamn #$%#$&% fucking tickets!” “…shit”. She is a calming influence.

The reason we were heading to Taranaki (or “the Naki”) was to see REM in concert at New Plymouth’s Bowl of Brooklands. We had left in no hurry, at a respectable time of the morning and forgotten the one thing we actually needed. We had the tickets stuck on the fridge door so we wouldn’t forget them; our friend Dom was house-sitting and when he came round we showed him stuff he could eat OUT OF THE FRIDGE!

Thank God for the Irish. A friend of mine from work was also on her way to the concert but was leaving the next day, and we had already planned to meet her for a drink before the concert anyway (oh she’s Irish by the way, that’s why I said that bit just before). All we would have to do is call her. Except that we were in the arse-end part of the country. No cell phone coverage, goddamn troglodytes. We sent a text message in the split second gap where there was enough radiation to carry a signal. She responded in the next available window through the ether. We eventually got it sorted. I then had to ring Dom to get him to drop the stuff round to Aoife (that’s the name of our saviour).

“Dom we need you take the tickets round to Aoife” “ok where are they?” “On the fridge” “you showed me stuff in the fridge before you left” “yes I know Dom, thank you” [at this point I am reminded that my cell phone battery is running low] “oh, Dom could you also take the cell phone charger (laughter from Dom and Amy) it’s in the wall by the phone” “sure no worries” “oh and while you’re doing that, could you grab the camera, its by the computer” (raucous laughter from Dom and Amy) “Anything else? Some undies maybe?” Even I laughed.

Dom turned out to be a competent courier. We met Aoife just before the concert and got all of our stuff. But this is getting a little too far ahead of myself.

Let’s go back about six months to when we purchased the tickets. I wanted exclusive gold tickets for the front section. I saw REM when they last came in 1995 for their Monster Tour. That concert was awesome. Grant Lee Buffalo opened for Crowed House, who opened for REM. But I didn’t get a T-shirt and we sat (yes, sat) at the back of Western Springs stadium because the two muntards I was with said: “if you go up the front you’ll just get pushed around and you won’t be able to hear anything. Don’t worry we brought binoculars”. Muntards. I was only 15 and it was my first real rock concert but I was sure something was wrong with the situation.

Any how, I thought that I would book our accommodation sooner or later and that would be sorted. A little over a month out I remembered that I hadn’t booked so I rang up a few places. No vacancies, in fact everywhere in Taranaki were booked. This was because there were four major events in the area that weekend: REM; two stockcar meets; and a motorcycle convention. And it was Easter. The New Plymouth info centre was taking frantic calls from people, like me, desperate for some place to stay. Finally two weeks before we were to go Amy found us accommodation at a Christian camp ~20mins south of New Plymouth. About a week out, I rang the camp and discovered that they had packed in more people. We would be sharing our bunk room with six others rather than two. We decided to opt out and try our luck elsewhere and we got very lucky. We were able to get into a lovely farm-stay called: Hurst House Heights. The woman who ran the Christian camp was very nice and congratulated us on finding a place, which made apologising much easier.

I have never done the B&B thing before (although we are doing it again next weekend for a friends wedding up north, look out for that blog), it’s quite nice. This particular farm-stay was like staying with your Aunt and Uncle. The best part is that these people are locals and offered the finest local knowledge of the area: where to go; where to park for the concert; etc. They even offered us Swandries and gumboots when a thunderstorm threatened the concert.

We were meaner than we should have been. In the car we were brought to comment on their rustic lifestyle. "Cousin Earle" etc. I felt ashamed of our snobbery.

New Plymouth is a nice town. It’s all arty and done up. Who are they trying to fool? It’s still the middle of the Naki. They have the “controversial” Wind Wand and a great museum, Puki Ariki, but their small version of Wellington/Auckland was just lacking something. Still it’s nicer than Palmerston North. New Plymouth seemed to bulge at the sides though on Saturday when it filled with out-of-towners in for the various events. The pretty infrastructure and charm cracked a little as people circled for hours looking for a car park. We went into town after dropping our junk at the farm. The waterfront is quite nice in New Plymouth. We walked to the Wind Wand and breathed the “bracing” sea air. We then ordered Indian food from a restaurant that was the artiest looking one on the street. We ate perhaps 1-2% of what we were served because we were so incredibly full.

The next morning we drove back in (full of farm-fresh, organic, free-range eggs and bacon). The sea was at high tide and crashing violently into the rocks of the foreshore. I ran straight to the edge to watch the spray. Amy came walking up later. We stood and watched the immense power of the sea crash into the massive boulders that protect the city from the Tasman. I’m a Pacific coast boy. We never got raging surf unless there was a huge storm. Amy’s from the “Sunset Coast” near Waiuku. She saw waves like this all the time. Still, impressive.

The seas stayed an ugly grey colour the whole day, although the surf dropped somewhat as the tide went out. There would be photos but I didn’t yet have my camera. In the afternoon some surfers ventured out into the fray. There is no beach so they have to bail out before getting too close. The sun was out and bright by that point so we relaxed on the grass and listened to the surf.

Earlier we had caught up with Siobhan and Jason, other friends of ours who had come to the Naki on the Wednesday. We received a text from Siobhan saying she was in a “dark café, writing letters”. We looked up. We were outside a slightly dark café. Siobhan was hunkered over a load of stationary writing (actual paper) letters. We joined her in waiting 10-15mins for a coffee; again New Plymouth had not prepared for a doubling of the population. Despite the long wait for coffees only one person (and sometimes no persons) were manning the coffee machine.

Siobhan and Jason were planning an assault on Mt Taranaki. We doubted the existence of Mt Taranaki as it was never able to shake the veil of rain clouds that covered it the whole time we were there. Jason said to watch the news for lost climbers just in case. He said the headline would read something like: Two Idiots from Wellington Lost on Mt Taranaki. He said, in order to aid searchers, they could leave a trail of Kathmandu merchandise, as they had just hit the annual Easter sale. Kathmandu binoculars, Kathmandu cup, Kathmandu tops and pants, Kathmandu wind-breaker…We haven’t heard from Siobhan and Jason but I’m sure they’re fine.

In the late afternoon we wandered around Pukekura Park. This is wonderful park and contains the Bowl where the concert was to be held. We had decided to have a little nosey around. There is also a free zoo with two monkey houses; one which you can walk into. These are non-faeces throwing monkeys so walking around in their cage is ok.

In the other monkey cage, which you could not walk into, there were capuchin monkeys. In this cage things were a little darker, a little more morbid. The head capuchin had something in his (or maybe her) hand that he was chewing every now and again. It turned out to be a small bird. Monkeys are known to do this in the wild and in captivity. A friend of mine once saw a pack of gibbons demolish a poor sparrow in front of a bunch of schoolgirls. Animals lose some of their cute charm when you are reminded of what they have to do to survive. Another one of the capuchins was trying to lure a duck close to the fence with a piece of apple. Ducks are smarter than they look.

The concert:
Tooled up with thermal gear and as many layers as we could comfortably wear we headed out. Other guests had arrived at the farm-stay and they were off to the concert as well. They were British students on an O.E. to our Southern Isles.

We met Aoife and her partner Steve at a bar called Crowded House in town and thankfully received our forgotten tickets. We drove to the venue as the rain started to really pour down. I decided in the car park to leave my camera in the car. I hate myself so much for that decision. I thought that it might be confiscated or get destroyed in the rain. I really hate myself. So instead of hundreds of really cool photos from the concert, you get text instead.

To those of you who have never been to the Bowl of Brooklands, there is a 10metre wide semicircular lake in front of the stage. We were right on the lake front just to the right of the stage. I was worried that some drunken idiot would give me shove and I would tumble into the liquid that was maybe 5% water and 95% duck shit. There was no telling how deep the water was because it was a dirty brown colour. Three songs into the REM set two guys jump in followed by two girls; all very drunk. Over the next two hours around 20 people got into the lake. After the first lot got in Michael Stipe said “At least make it interesting for me and take your clothes off”. The group duly stripped down to their underwear. A guy behind us, who had earlier been talking about the size of the eels that lived in the mucky water, stripped down to his boxer shorts and dived headfirst into the grime. When he returned five, or so, songs later he stank. I imagine that they all would have caught some disease or other the next day especially the bald-headed moron who started it all. He was snogging (or shiftin’ as the Irish say) one of the girls in the lake, he lifted her out of the water a little and started kissing her duck-shit covered stomach. Ick.

I actually found the swimmers a little distracting and I felt the band did a little as well. I found myself watching them and disapproving of their antics. A woman behind us had said beforehand that there were big signs up saying that the concert would be stopped when the first person went into the lake. It didn’t and there seemed to be a feeling that it would a little un-rock and roll to stop a concert because a hand-full of people were having too much fun.

Now back to the beginning of the concert. The first thing I did was head to the merchandise tent that I had scoped on our walk around the park earlier in the day. I got myself a t-shirt with tour dates on the back: Stockholm, New York, Paris, London, Madrid, Tokyo, New Plymouth. REM were heading to Australia next (according to the t-shirt) for about six gigs including two in Sydney. London only got one but Sydney gets two! Japan only got three concerts in total! Actually New Zealand got more concerts than many European nations.

Right, so we got our position on the lake. I donned my shirt over my hoody, making it four layers I was wearing (five when I put on my plastic poncho). The opening acts were introduced by Michael Stipe (the nice man even greeted the ducks).

The Checks. These guys are from all over the world apparently including someone from Auckland, New Zealand. They were really good. Bluesy rock that made you wanna stamp your feet. The lead singer was doing his best Mick Jagger, the guitarist had a boofy hairdo that waved as he pushed the licks out of his piece and the drummer wore an immaculate shirt and tie. The Checks were an opening band and they knew it. They went hard and fast and whipped the crowd into a frenzy. Go and buy their album. The next band sucked.

Brighteyes. They are American and have maybe 12 members, there were a whole bunch of them on stage at least. Half way through Amy turned to me and said “so many people on stage, you’d think one of them would have talent”. Their first song was ok but they ended up sounding like a boring old pub band with nothing really interesting in their set. Between each song they just fucked around and drank water, they didn’t talk to the audience or nothing. Their last song was just an all out distortion piece that did not make them look rock and roll like they may have thought. When REM thanked both supporting bands the Checks got a huge cheer and Brighteyes got a polite round of applause. Of the two supporting acts, Brighteyes were the ones who had t-shirts for sale at the merchandise tent.

REM. They burst out the gate with…um…something off Monster; I think it was King of Comedy, no it was I Took Your Name (best line “I wanna be Iggy Pop”). I find it hard to recall all the songs bands play at concerts. I remember all the songs from Neil Finn’s ragtag band concert in Auckland (featuring Eddie Vedder, Johnny Marr, Ed O’Brien and the other guy from Radiohead) but only because we got the song sheets. Orange Crush was huge. The stage was lit with hanging tubes that glowed in various colours and during this song they were burnt orange. Michael Stipe, who had painted a thick green stripe across his eyes picked up a megaphone and belted into the microphone “I’ve got my spine I’ve got my orange crush!” I must admit I was annoyed at the amount of material they played from their new album but that’s what tours are for I suppose.

During Losing My Religion a couple of people came sort of bustling through the crowd parallel to the stage. They looked like they were going along to the middle somewhere and so when they got to me I kindly stepped aside to let them pass. Big mistake. They stopped and stood right in front of me. It’s not like I was in the middle of the crowd and so losing one place wouldn’t make much difference. We were at the front; beyond us was only water and duck shit. When they pushed in front I said “oi!” or words to that effect. The drunken old Hag turned to me reeking of cigarettes and beer and said “Are you my husband, oh here he is” dragging some grinning idiot close to her, “oh, look honey, we’re right by the lake.” Trembling with rage I turned to Amy, who still had her lakeside vantage point, she turned to the Hag and said “Hey, move” or something, any way they shuffled over and I got to stand on the edge again. Two songs later the band played Everybody Hurts. Lighters were produced from pockets and waved over heads. The Hag had her arm around the drunk guy she looked at me and said “this is a beautiful song” and wrapped one disgusting limb around my waist. I looked her right in the eye and said “yes it is but you are ruining it” and then attempted to remove her arm. Drunk old Hags are surprisingly strong, maybe she just wanted to cop a feel, still I managed to wrest myself free from her clutches. They left before the end of the song.

Two songs after Everybody Hurts another drunk guy, who had also gone for a swim earlier, yelled out “play Everybody Hurts!” We all laughed. Somebody explained they had already sung that and so he countered with “play Nightswimming!”

They did play Nightswimming in the end. It is a beautiful song that didn’t suit the half-naked, drunk, ugly crowd in a pond full of duck shit. Michael Stipe looked like he was reluctant to sing it, but the night really did deserve it, the full moon had broken free from the earlier clouds and was shining down brightly on a blissful audience. When it had rained about a third of the way through, the band sang CCR’s Have You Ever Seen the Rain? Well Mike Mills played it and the rest of the band kept up. Dom says a similar thing happened at the Springsteen concert last year.

No one dances like Michael Stipe. It’s a weird sort of style where it looks like he’s trying to wrap himself up, he twists are curves his body in various directions. It’s visually stunning.
The other bummer for me was that the band didn’t end with their signature It’s the End of the World As We Know It (and I Feel Fine). I only knew a few of the words in ’95 and now I was looking belt out “Leonard Bernstein!”

Well done New Plymouth, you put on a great concert. And we have heard all about the WOMAD festival and the Mark Knoffler concert from the locals. Sadly though it was time to leave. We had driven home and crashed after the concert. The next morning, Easter Sunday, we had compared notes with the Britons. I was surprised at what they had not been able to see from their viewpoint amongst the hoi polloi at the back. From where we were–right up at the front but not in the water–we were able to see all the movement of the bouncers and roadies as they tried to stop the swimmers from splashing.

The pool group started chanting for Michael Stipe to jump in with them. To which he said “No fucking way”. Dom said that the review of the concert in the Dominion Post claimed that the swimmers were naked. That reporter is a junkie with a weird fantasy. They may have been drunk and swimming in duck shit but they were not naked.

On the drive back to Wellington we were to meet up with our friends Dave and Sharmin. Long-time readers will remember that I had promised an interview, of sorts, with Dave about basketball. Dave and Sharmin live in Wanganui. Wanganui is no New Plymouth but it wasn’t anything to sniff at either. They were on their way to New Plymouth for a couple of days so the plan was to meet them halfway. But we left early and they slept in so we met them in Wanganui.

We had lunch at a place called…actually it doesn’t matter because Sharmin will be working at another bar/restaurant soon anyway and you’ll want to go there and leave a huge tip.

I had forgotten not only the camera, cellphone charger and tickets when we left. I had also forgotten a spare pair of shoes. My Converse knock-offs were soaked and I had been driving barefoot. Actually they’re not really knock-offs, they are exactly the same except the Malaysian factory they are made in pays its workers a proper wage and all the workers are union members. They’re called No Sweat if you want some and are available through Trade Aid stores.

Now that the advertising is over, I was barefoot in Wanganui. Even bars in the river city don’t let you in without shoes. So I donned my waterlogged sneakers and squelched my way into the place. We sat and chatted while waitresses walked past us. Finally we caught someone’s attention to order (hey how about you behind the bar “cleaning glasses”!). I had warn Amy that if I suddenly slumped over the wheel while we drove that it may be a heart attack brought on by all the fat and oil in the food I ate.

When I finally brought up basketball Dave was guarded, very guarded. He refused to be drawn on the subject claiming that he needed time to go on the net and see which players had been traded to which teams etc. He said that all he knew was that Shaq had gone to Miami and so watch out for them. So that s Dave’s pick for this year, Miami. Ha-ha-ha-ha, you thought you were being no committal didn’t you Dave! Please lay no bets on this information even though it may be right.

We are going to catch up more with Dave and Sharmin later in April when they will come down for a holiday. My friend (and fellow blogger) Jose (you pronounce the J, it’s Portuguese not Spanish) will be down as well. So we will have a whole house full of people.

The drive back from Wanganui was nothing to mention. The further you get into a trip the more idiots there are on the road. Wellington’s highway improvements are currently just that, improvements. I spent the next day in my pyjamas playing Xbox and napping. I had to go to work the next day. And that’s where I wrote this. Shit this is long I had better stop.

I’ll get back to the usual tomorrow.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Z is for Zurich

Watch out for the wacky-backy kids, it’ll turn you mental. Or so the researchers have found. Sorry I shouldn’t be so glib, it actually makes sense; if you are at risk of developing a mental illness in later life and you put any kind of drug into your system (that plays with your brain) then you are more than likely going to increase your chances of developing that illness. And naturally it makes sense that the risk is higher if you take those drugs during the time of your life when your body is developing (i.e. all the way up to the end of the teenage years).

Life is all about calculating those risks. Like an ongoing version of Fear Factor (without the Playboy models and duck foetuses, unless your very lucky/unlucky).

The part of the (above) Herald article that I like is these two adjacent paragraphs.

"We're not saying that cannabis is the major cause of schizophrenia," said Robin Murray of the Institute of Psychiatry in London, who led the study. "But it's a risk factor."

"I don't think we can deny it any longer," said epidemiologist Mary Cannon of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, based in Dublin, who helped carry out the research in New Zealand. "Cannabis is part of the cause of schizophrenia."

And then there was that smoking pot gives you lung cancer thing a year or so ago. Duh, smoking anything should give you lung cancer. Just put it in your brownies or cake instead.

Let’s leave the drugs for the moment in case my Mum is reading.

Going mathematical, for just a short while, a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin in Madison USA, believes he has cracked Srinivasa Ramanujan’s number pattern problem from the 19th Century.

Ramanujan noticed that whole numbers can be broken into sums of smaller numbers, called partitions. The number 4, for example, contains five partitions: 4, 3+1, 2+2, 1+1+2, and 1+1+1+1.

He further realised that curious patterns–called congruences–occurred for some numbers in that the number of partitions was divisible by 5, 7, and 11. For example, the number of partitions for any number ending in 4 or 9 is divisible by 5.

Ramanujan was self-taught by the way.

The other day we were talking about the Olympics and the fairest way to decide the host city. We decided that it would be best to do it alphabetically. And as it so happens the first two venues for this century were/are Athens (2004) and Beijing (2008). So, where will the games go in 2012? The current contenders are: New York, Paris, London, Madrid and Moscow.

Following the pattern I think it should go to:
Calgary or Calcutta or Christchurch or Cincinnati or Cape Town or…
Then off to:
Denver or Dundee or Detroit or Dunedin or Durbin or Dublin or…

And so on until we get to X, which will be very difficult. If you have any suggestions on where the Olympics should go from 2012 to 2108 (when we get to Z), be sure to send them in.

ps. Turns out my Mum was reading
pps. I am going to see REM in New Plymouth this weekend I'll tell you all how it goes on Tuesday. Don't too many chocolate eggs this Spring Equinox!

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Stop in for a look-see

I love the random blog thing at the top of Blogspot blogs (don't click it yet!). For example today I came across this blog. It is all about one man’s fight with the Sony Corporation. The same company that manufactures DVD burners will remove particular DVDs of theirs from internet auctions depending on the distribution rights. This same company advertised a player to which they suggest you “download” MP3s (this was before the iTunes store and their contemporaries).

Actual conversation with a Sony Store salesman:

Me: (feigning interest in a palmtop computer) So what features does this model
have? [Over say, a train, which I could also afford (this last bit is a
Simpson’s quote, sorry)]

Salesman: Well at the moment it comes with a free pair of headphones so you can listen to music.

Me: Really? (say I looking curious) does this come with software to rip your CDs?

[This is still illegal in New Zealand as far as I am aware]

Salesman: Well, you could get a program I suppose, but you could just download MP3s off the internet.

Me: (with a straight face, wishing that I had a hidden camera) But isn’t that illegal?

Salesman: Well they're not going to come after you if you only have a few. [The little Palmtop would have had about a 2Gb hard drive]

I ended the conversation at this point, had I been a bit more of an investigative journalist I would have asked if I was allowed to download the music of Sony artists.

The other bad thing about the random blog tool up the top (don’t click it yet have a read around here first!) is that you often come across advertising blogs. These are blogs whose every post is an ad. Grrrr. That small growl is the closest I’m going to get to a rant today. Please, if you are a new visitor, have a look around, and then tell us what you think maybe remember us and come back (not that I’m desperate or needy).

This looks like a good place to end. Mahalo.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Items of Interest #4

I am “bogarting” Jose’s bit for my own usage. Sorry Bloke.

Damian Christie has some interesting new ideas to use in general speech (although Sweet Bix is as old as the product which it lampoons). Read on down his page for his post “Mamahamalipimata”. This is kinda like the game me and my partner are playing: come up with a phrase that must be used in everyday conversation. My last one was: “Say what?”

Also read on down this page you are currently on because this is my third post of the day. Yip, that’s right, nothing to do at work.

Quick Football Joke

Stop me if you've heard this one:

A Detroit Lions player noticed a white powdery substance on the field during a practice. Fearing anthrax the Lions managment called in the FBI. The Feds quickly determined that it was the goaline.

Insert rimshot

NBA Basketball: Nothing yet

It’s been a few weeks since my last NBA post and still I know nothing. My inside advisor (who we will call Dave M) has been strangely silent, as though this season is still a mystery. I will be visiting with Dave, his lovely wife Sharmin and their cute-as-a-button son Kahu this weekend. I will be taking a notepad and bailing him up (Dave not Kahu) to get an answer.

From what I can glean, from a thin trawl of the ether, is that ex-sex offender Kobe Bryant and ex-rapper Shaquille O’Neal don’t like each other much. I would take Shaq’s side of that fight; the man is a human monolith. Also Kobe Bryant reminds me too much of R Kelly.

The other thing I discovered is that the Spurs and the Suns have been duking it out down south thinking that they are the best; then the Pistons go and kick San Antonio’s ass. Detroit as a home for franchises needs to look at renaissance of the Pistons and emulate their success. The Lions, the Tigers and the Redwings and not universally feared in their respective fields of endeavour, in fact the Tigers were almost at the bottom of ESPN’s (in)famous list of franchises (this has been updated since I first saw it).

The great hype factory, LeBron James, just scored 50points in the Cavalier’s loss to the Raptors. He apparently becomes a free agent at the end of this season, which as we have seen in the NFL, is interesting. Except without the NFL’s strict contract and salary cap rules, he’ll probably end up at the Lakers or some other team with deep pockets.

So does anyone watch the NBA regular season? Like the NHL, as pointed out by Liz, the NBA regular season is useless. There are 30 teams in the NBA of those 16 go to the play-offs. More than half of the teams go the play-offs. So if everything were equal your team would have a 53% chance of making the play-offs at the start of the season (in the NFL with the same scenario each team would have a 37% chance). So maybe I’ll get a bit more interested when the play-offs start (of course there is still a minimum of 60 games to go).

I’ll be back with more NBA after Easter. Man, Jesus must have loved bunnies.

Monday, March 21, 2005

But he's no Judy Bailey

Oh,Oh,Oh pick me. I’ll do Eric’s job, work three times the hours, for half the pay, and I’m ever so smart.

Poor old Eric Young. Not only is he having his pay packet dragged through the local media (and you can bet pretty soon it’ll be in parliament too) but he is a crap presenter/reporter who doesn’t deserve $180,000 for eight hours a day, let alone three. What’s he to do? I think he should offer his job to a younger person with a bit of flair, who isn’t a “bonehead muntard”, maybe someone who writes a blog; maybe someone who writes this blog (and isn’t named Jose or Gibbs). Anyone want Eric’s hourly rate? I suggest having a bucket handy as you might feel sick: $90 per hour.

According to Stuff.co.nz

TVNZ news and current affairs boss Bill Ralston said: "I've got no interest in
talking to you about this," before hanging up

Bill Ralston seems to be quite good at what he does (except maybe Close Up @ 7) but his own media commentary leaves something to be desired. He seems to want to chuck his toys a little too much. I’m glad the PM told him (and his counterparts at other stations) off.

By the way, why do all the names suck? Close Up @ 7, Holmes: on Prime, Campbell: Live. The last one, although the one I am most likely to watch, reminds me of Peter Frampton. Do you feel like we do, John Campbell!!??

Are you enjoying all of that lovely local-grown talent? All the good music; the cinematic praise and merriment; all of the good art and theatre (sorry couldn’t find a quick link)? Because under a National government you could kiss a large part of that goodbye (ps. please check out the web site for some nice photos of the leader, including one where he is having a great phone conversation). Dr Don has said that a National lead government would scrap the artist’s unemployment benefit.

“Ambition is one thing; fantasy is another. This programme will go under a
National Government.”

The Pathways to Arts and Cultural Employment programme is a means for artists to have a steady (if small) income while honing their artistic talents. Apparently there are only 1,200 recipients of this benefit. Of those 1,200, National is complaining that there is one florist, one stuffed toy maker, five (5) “hopeful” radio or television announcers (perhaps they are hoping for Eric’s job too) and an unspecified number of “fashion models”. That means National is complaining about roughly (depending on the number of models) 0.5% of the recipients.

Anyone who gets on the “artists dole” has my respect. I tried (as a writer) but pulled out when I discovered what you had to provide. A history of work that you can prove will lead to employment (or at least some kind of money). But what irks me most about Doc D’s release is when you read between the lines: if you’re poor don’t try to have dreams. I have heard the odd mention of “the dole” in a lot of New Zealand’s brilliant recent Hip-hop music. Add in National’s (failed) work-for-the-dole system and you have to wonder whether those hippity-hoppers (yes, I’m squarer than Richie Cunningham) would be able to make their lovely music under a National Government.

One final thing (and this is an angry outburst): to the guy who was scoring (not presenting) at the pub quiz the other night. You are a dick. You are not cool, your job as someone who copies names and checks answers does not give you the right to look down your nose at people who are asking you about stuff that you have done incorrectly. Dick.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Items of Interest! #3

I've never been an enthusiastic reader of web comics, but one I do visit weekly is Beekeeper Cartoon Amusements by the talented Jason Little. Chronicling the adventures of Bee, a photo-finishing technician in Manhattan whose curiosity leads in and out of trouble. Shutterbug Follies is the first storyline involving Bee and some disturbing photos that fall into her lap one day on the job. This is only the first thirteen episodes, but the story is avaliable in print.

Little has just started a new storyline called Motel Art Improvement Service. Sign up here to recieve weekly e-mails when Little posts a new episode.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Items of Interest! #2

Sooooo ... Bush has put forward Paul Wolfowitz as President of the World Bank, a move widely seen as one of contempt for the wider international community. Meh. Here George, let me pull down my pants so you don't hurt your dainty hands while you probe me from behind.

Anyhoo ... nice article here on the GNN site. It's one sided as all hell, but that ain't a bad thing.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Items of Interest! #1

Some nerds in the US have cracked the secret 7X formula for cola, calling their kitchen sink version OpenCola. You can find their recipe here.

Survival of the Fittest

Anyone catch South Park on C4 last night? (South Park is part of my sad “Wednesday TV night”: 7-8 Simpsons; 8.30-9.30 Lost; 9.30-10 South Park). It may have been a repeat, I missed nearly all of the last few seasons, but it was nice and semi-topical.
One of the disabled kids, Jimmy, was taking steroids to win at the Special Olympics. Giving out the awards were Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi, all MLB players who have taken steroids. I love South Park.

But South Park is just a tool to segue to what I want to talk about: Cheating in sport.
The want of sports-people to take steroids or take other performance enhancing measures must be quite high in professional-level sport. After all this is their career. How many of you “desk jockeys” have taken coffee (or a similar sugar/caffeine beverage) to keep going at your peak. Sports-people are not just trying to finish, they need to win otherwise they might not eat next week. Ok, maybe it’s not THAT bad.

Still History tends to forget second (and third) place, but it always remembers first. Ironically it also remembers cheats. How many of you thought of Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson? What about the Greek sprinters, Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou, from the last Olympics? A few of you may have even thought instantly of baseball player Barry Bonds or track and field athlete Marion Jones. How many of you thought about recent Olympic gymnast Paul Hamm?

Paul Hamm is the type of cheat I hate the most. He won gold in the men’s all-around gymnastics event in what the Washington Post described as a “stunning comeback” over South Korean Kim Dae Eun. Thing is though, there was an officiating error. South Korean gymnast Yang Tae-young, who deserved the gold medal, was accidentally docked 0.1points and instead awarded (shameful) bronze. The South Koreans didn’t protest in time (perhaps because they were at the Olympics and assumed that officials would be up to standard) and so the International Gymnastics Federation’s (FIG) hands were tied even thought they ruled that the gold should go to Yang. The IOC president Jacques Rogge refused to give Yang a medal and so the president of FIG wrote to Hamm saying basically “Hey, why don’t you do the big thing and swap medals with this guy?” Hamm and the US Olympic Committee said “piss off” (I’m paraphrasing). Yang in the end got a gold medal but as far as I know he is not recorded as winning the event. The BBC story (linked to above) about this says:

“The tug-of-war over the medal has overshadowed Hamm's performance, one of the
greatest comebacks in gymnastics' history.”

No it hasn’t. It highlighted it. He had a great comeback and came second. But what it really showed is a poor sportsman. He was fairly beaten, but once he had his hands on that “precious” like hell he was going to throw it into Mount Doom. Um, or something like that. Basically be a good sport in anything that you do, that’s my message. Now Paul Hamm will only be remembered for not relinquishing a gold that wasn’t really his.

Last week, oh by the way this is a parallel topic, I was cruising through the channels and caught TV One’s Sports Hour. According to host Andrew Saville:

"We don't want to fill the show with patsy answers and sporting fluff; but
actually opinion that will fire up sports fans."

"I'm looking forward to talking to sports people who aren't afraid to express an
honest opinion and who are not afraid of upsetting the odd person"
They sure aren’t. So, instead of getting people who can offer intelligent commentary on sports issues, they have Simon Doull and (on the night I caught it) Matthew Ridge.


The topic on the night in question was “why can’t we beat Australia in the cricket?” My answers were:
  • because they are bloody good;
  • it’s their national sport;
  • their population pool is enormous compared to ours;
  • they put sh*tloads of money into developing grass roots players and competition etc.

i.e. the same reasons we were so damn good at rugby before everyone learned how we did it. The answer from the expert panel on Sports Hour:

  • the Australians have a winning attitude that we don’t teach our kids at school, we just teach our kids that simply competing is enough


Apparently we lose to international teams simply because we don’t instil aggressive competitiveness into our children at an early stage. So, that would be why our NZ Women’s golf team just beat Australia in the Tasman Cup? (Also note in that article that Kiwis Mathew Holten and Brad Iles have won the Australian Foursomes Championship in Victoria). Or why we have top cyclists, canoeists, rowers, multi-sportsmen and even Indy-car drivers? Insert Tui slogan.

Although this Australian attitude to winning, is exactly the reason why Australia, almost as an entire nation, ripped apart poor Sally Robbins. Who is Sally Robbins? You may remember her better by the name given to her in the Aussie media: “Lay Down Sally”. She only helped get them to the finals of the women’s eight rowing finals and after giving her all collapsed in the boat. Cathy Freeman said she was “almost un-Australian”. See what I mean.

It’s just a game for goodness sake! If you don’t teach kids that at school where else will they learn it? They weren’t even playing for money and all the rowers got a nice reception when they got home (well everyone except Sally who was slapped and chased by her team mates, see above link).

I’ve gone a little off-topic and it’s going to take a lot to get back so I might just leave it there.

ps.[I remembered yesterday that Mark Wahlberg has already paid homage to the Transformers movie in his 1997 movie Boogie Nights. In that film he tries to release a song called The Touch, this song features in the 1986 Transformers movie soundtrack (check the link if you don't believe me).]

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Maybe it won't be that bad...

I know that it is tempting to want to erase the mistakes of the past, to go back and change things “for the better”. In fact, I can almost understand someone wanting to go back and alter the entire 1980’s. As it turns out, that is exactly what they are doing.

Stuff, and previously Stuffo (no relation), are reporting about the Spielberg-produced live-action Transformers Movie. Remembering the glorious box-office smash that was Thunderbirds, I can’t wait to see what nasty surprises the have in store for Optimus and the boys. The classic animated 1986 Transformers movie (Matrix yo eien ni) saw a few horrible changes itself:

  • first the incredibly evil and very cool Megatron was changed into a whiney less powerful Galvatron (who was voiced by Leonard Nimoy);
  • Optimus Prime and many of the coolest Autobots die;
  • in return we receive Rodimus Prime (voiced by the talented Judd Nelson of Breakfast Club and St Elmo’s Fire fame) who is basically a campervan with flames down the side.

The last point makes me wonder: How long will it be until the Breakfast club is remade with the stars of today like Ashley Simpson or Jessica Simpson? If they do make the new movie (and it is almost inevitable now) they should at least bring back all of the original actors in their 1986 roles like Casey Kasem as Cliffjumper and Scatman Crothers as Jazz (o.k. The Scatman died in November of 1986, but this should be a reason not to make the film at all).

This reminds me of a little coup a few years ago by (Marky) Mark Wahlberg. In almost the space of a year he reprised the roles of Charlton Heston, Michael Caine and Cary Grant. I wonder whose performances, though, will stand the test of time. Mark Wahlberg will almost definitely be cast as Rodimus Prime, I just know it.

Staying with entertainment; Hilary Swank is too cheap to pay $200 bucks for bringing fruit into the country. What is her defence? “I am too big a celebrity to see the gigantic signs saying to dispose of all fruit and vegetables”. “I thought the rule only applied to the little people”. “I…I...I never learned how to read!!!(Sob, sob, sob)” She is flying lawyers out from California to contest the fine; does this smack of “way to ridiculous to think about”? I know our exchange rate is good but NZD$200 is still only USD$148. That’s not even 0.1% of her pay check for Million Dollar Baby. I hope she loses, not out of malice but just because it would be funny. She might even appeal the decision.

Lastly, remember that Lord of the Rings movie thing a year or so ago? Still need a little hobbit fix every now and again? How about popping along to see the Canadian produced musical? Here are some song lyric suggestions:

  • (to the tune of Memories from Cats)
    All alone on the moooouuuuntain
    He just killed a big Baaaaalrög
    Now how will he get down?

  • (to the tune of Modern Major General from the Pirates of Penzance)
    I am the very model of a future king of Gondor
    My name is Aragorn, of the hobbits I grow fonder
    My girlfriend is an elf and her father doesn’t like me
    As I will die an old man while she lives on eternally

  • (to the tune of Do You Hear the People Sing from Les Miserables)
    Do you hear the Nazghul sing?
    Singing the song of long-dead kings
    It is a kind of high-pitched screaming
    While they ride those dragon things

And so on. Please feel free to send me what you think will be in LOTR: The Musical.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Career Moves

I thought Philly wasn’t doing much in the off-season. Turns out I was wrong. Everything was happening out of view of the public. Back-room manoeuvres, acquiring new recruits, sealing deals and making sure that beer and t-shirts get sold (actually I’m fairly sure the beer sells itself)…
Would you like to work for a major NFL franchise? How about an Arena League team? Check this out. Better hurry though most positions close today (NZ time).

In other news I had a great time at my friends “Playboy” party (at times it was a very thin line between “Playboy” party and Playboy party if you catch my meaning). Below you can see a photo of me (as Hunter S. Thompson) and my friend Mike (as Fidel Castro). Why was Fidel Castro at a “Playboy” party? We don’t know, but he didn’t enjoy the capitalist affluence even though he was wearing his slippers (not shown in photo). Thanks Morag, I had a great time. No Mum, I didn't actually smoke.

Public Address has got a good Hard News blog about “the Brain Drain”. It reminds me of those stats that you see about how New Zealanders in Australia have lowe unemployment than New Zealanders who stay here. Duh! Why do you think they are going to Oz? Because there are jobs waiting for them there (I wonder what the unemployment rate for ex-pat British in NZ is.) If you are a labourer/tradesman it’s probably better to stay here and become a millionaire, that way when you do go to Oz you can lie on the beaches and enjoy the sun and surf and snakes and spiders and jellyfish and…etc. Have there been any historical studies done on tertiary qualified New Zealanders going overseas? We were thinking about going to Europe to work, but only to get enough money to come back and buy a house in sunny Tauranga (well maybe not only).

If you do want to work overseas, again, please refer to this link. When you get free football tickets, just remember who showed you the link.

Lastly there has been a lot of talk in the news about whether or not bloggers are journalists or not. Let me just say that I’m not and as evidence I would like to show you my blog archive...no argument.

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Friday, March 11, 2005

Misty Watercolour Memories

You remember the A-Team? Of course you do, everyone does!!!
Remember how they added that woman in later episodes? Remember how you thought that it was slightly naff? Well hang on to your big gold chains ladies and gents, coming in 2006…The A-Team Movie!
Coming hot on the heels of Dukes of Hazzard: The Movie, starring–God I don’t know if I can actually say this–Jessica Simpson and that muntard* from Dude Where’s My Car, is this new disaster.
How did I find out? Click here. Here’s a scary quote:

With little information available yet, most of the internet blather has centered
around casting. It takes zero imagination to declare that Clooney would make a
textbook Hannibal Smith. Same goes for Ving Rhames or The Rock as B.A.

I would imagine that Dirk Benedict is pissed off enough that the Battlestar Galactica remake changed his character, Starbuck, into a woman. Still this part is funny.

Please have a look around the links I have finally added to the right-hand side.

* A Muntard is like a munter but worse. So stupid (s)he doesn’t know (s)he’s offensive. Please feel free to add it to your lexicon.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

NFL Football: Some of the Biggest Names in Football

Can anyone tell me the first name of T.J. Houshmanzadeh?

OK now back into the free agency (note: the agents are not free, the agents are expensive, all right?)

Just in case Tennessee fans thought, “Hey, maybe that Ravens outfit ain’t so bad”, Balitmore go and sign both WR Derrick Mason (as reported earlier) and CB Samari Rolle.

Kelly Holcomb is in Buffalo. Kelly has made quite the career as a back-up and I hope he does well. Cleveland, Holcomb’s former team, has not made the wholesale purchase of ex-New England players I had expected. Ty Law may end there once he realises that he isn’t worth the money he’s after.

Jeff Garcia is still in Free Agent limbo. I am actually surprised by this considering the large amount of teams who do with a half-decent QB, even in a job-share role. Maybe he’s too proud to be a back-up, perhaps back-up QBs can’t score Playboy Playmate girlfriends?

Kansas City landed a big fish in the form of LB Kendrell Bell. Let’s see if this works for them. God help them though if Priest Holmes gets injured again. Can you base an entire team on one player?

Miami has picked up DEs Kevin Cater from Tennessee and Vonnie Holliday from Kansas City. The pundits are saying that they will be the starting line-up. This confused for a long time, a long time. “Where is Jason Taylor?” I thought. Isn’t he one of the star players in Miami? Why wouldn’t he start? Turns out that Kevin Carter is sometimes a DE and sometimes a DT. However, the Dolphins play a 3-4 defence (apparently) and none of those guys look big enough to play nose tackle. I’ll get back on this one, although if anyone knows the answer, feel free to post it (see “comments” below).

New England are cautiously just resigning their old players. How dull. They’ll probably win another Superbowl. Interestingly Troy Brown is listed as WR/CB, this will only increase his price. Although no one has signed him yet.

Oakland cut one of the coolest names in football, yes cooler than TJ Houshmandazeh. John Parrella. Say it like you’re a grumpy Brooklyn police chief who smokes cigars. It comes so close to the greast football name ever, which was created for “Football’s Greatest Injuries” in The Simpsons: Big Wayne Shashefski. Which I have probably spelt wrong.

San Diego has noticed what the Patriots are doing and as such has only resigned players (except for SS Bawoh Jue from Green Bay). “Bawoh Jue” is a good name, it rolls off the tongue so nicely.

Tennessee are just letting players go. They’ve got no money to sign new players anyway.

Arizona have signed a bunch of people and not released anyone. Of course Emmitt Smith retired. But that seems like it might be it. Kurt Warner has signed on for a short tour of Duty with the “Zona”, which will be good for both sides. By the way, for the record Arizona will win the Superbowl either this year or next. Why? The Simpsons made fun of Dever and then a couple of years later (with a new logo) they won back-to-back Superbowls. The Simpsons made fun of Dallas and they won a whole bunch in the ninties. Recently they made fun of Arizona, and this year Arizona has a new logo. I’m telling you, watch out.

Atlanta has picked up two new kickers, punter Toby Gowin from the Jets and Todd Peterson from the 49ers. What kind of tactics are they dreaming up…”Cool next season I want us to kick more, maybe even on first down!”

Carolina, if it has enough money, should get Plaxico Burress to replace Mushin Muhammad (Steve Smith is a punk) and then march to the Superbowl. The Panthers are a real team with “heart”.

Detroit has picked up Colts TE Marcus Pollard. Does this mean they are going to look a bit closer at Jeff Garcia? He’s quite good throwing to TEs. I should point out that I am not a Jeff Garcia fan, far from it. But he isn’t bad enough to pass over especially if you are looking for a good back-up.

Look at dirty old Minnesota. Now they have Napoleon Harris, Pat Williams and Fred Smoot (Smoot is a cool name as well). No more Blockbuster Offence, Lacklustre Defence. Just a quick question for those who want to answer: who do you like more, Daunte Culpepper or Donovan McNabb?

New Orleans got themselves a decent OL in Jermane Mayberry. Now the question is will he have a decent QB to protect?

OT Kareem McKenzie has been traded but won’t have to change address because he has gone from New York to New York. Wonder how he’ll feel guarding Mr Self-Important: “Evil” Eli Manning?

Philly has signed players from Philly. How dull.

San Francisco, the city my friend Doug said “Rocks Arse!” [to those wondering: yes it was a positive comment]. They have the first draft pick. Who are they going to take? Which position is crying out for help in the city by the bay? The answer is: any of them.

Nobody else has done anything that interesting.

Remember to enter the competition for coolest team name. Entries to grabtharsblog@gmail.com

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Competition Reminder

Just a reminder to scroll past Jose's rather...morbid...cartoon (I will have to have a word with that boy) and have a look at the competition below. Failling that click here
Also have a read of Liz's comment and try to decipher what Celine wrote (it's looking more and more like dodgy advertising, for shame Celine).

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Half Life 2 Masterpiece Theatre

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Two Brilliant Replies

Well actually just one brilliant and one confusing.

As always if someone has a good comment on my blog I will give them their own post. The following comes from Canadian Liz in response to my State of the (Rugby) Union Address:

Unfortunately I know very little about rugby so I cannot comment there.
Interesting situation though.

Totally agree, the NFL is successful for all of those reasons, and other sports franchises need to learn from them. I mourn the end of the NFL season, but after the break I really look forward to its return, as opposed to...

Hockey, which has reached a point where there are so many teams, playing so many
games, and the season goes on for so long that I find myself bored by it.
The Stanley Cup Finals are held in June. In Canada in June, I hope to be outside cooking a steak, not inside watching a game on ice. We've been through this media yo-yo of "last minute talks" for months leading up to the cancellation of the season, where they were still professing an opportunity to hold less than half of the regularly
scheduled games and then the playoffs... ummm, doesn't that imply that most of the regular season doesn't matter? How about a season that actually matters by the end of it?

Will it lose as many viewers as baseball did during their strike? Too soon to tell. I don't get the sense that the hockey fans I know will stop watching next season. But quit your whining, players. You make more money in a couple of games than I, and a good portion of your fans, make in a year.

Sorry if I hijacked your issue with rantings of hockey :)

btw, hockey is technically not our national sport (lacrosse is), but is so popular here that most people think it is.

No worries Liz, hijack away. I think we are arguing the same thing but from different sports. We almost had a similar experience just before the Rugby World Cup with some players complaining that they would only get a quarter million for the month. In the end they didn't win. [insert pause for thought].

The second comment came from Celine:
Tati BBB totalmente nua depois do grande Kururu ou Macropus fuliginosos e onde
encontrar Austrália, Tasmânia e Nova Guiné.

...I don't know what to say. I think it's Portuguese. According to Babelfish "totalmente nua depois do grande Kururu" means "totally naked before the great Kururu".
And "Macropus fuliginosos e onde encontrar Austrália, Tasmânia e Nova Guiné" means "the Western Grey Kangaroo can be found in Australia, Tasmania and New Guinea".

I thought it might be dodgy advertising but then what does that have to do with the Western Grey Kangaroo? And who or what is the Grand Kururu. Please if can help, I would love this mystery to end. Celine that includes you!


The idea of this competition/challenge is to come up with an example of the best/worst team names of all time. These could be actual names like “The Los Angeles Angels at Anaheim” which when translated into English is: “The The Angels Angels at Anaheim”.
Or it could be one you made up like this: The St Louis Louies. They would already have a cool theme song too!

I don’t earn enough money to offer a real prize but you will have your name posted in grand lettering right here on this webpage!!! I will also write a glowing reference about your intelligence. And anyone can enter!!! Yeah, I know big incentive. But it’s a bit of fun. I will put the results up next week.

Please send all entries to: grabtharsblog@gmail.com

NBA Basketball: Lowering Expectations

Ok. I’ll fess up.
I know nothing (NOTHING) about the NBA. I used to though.

[NOTE: the following shows my age]
Back in third and fourth form, circa 1992-93, I knew heaps. Charles Barkley played for the Phoenix Suns. The Charlotte Hornets (now of New Orleans) seemed to have “street cred” despite wearing aqua green. And Carl Malone joined up with a skinny white guy who could land 3-pointers called John Stockton in Utah. Oh, and the Lakers sucked, the Knicks were good, and no one could beat Chicago.

My team, even though I never got completely into the sport, were the Seattle Super-Sonics. To my mind they still have the coolest uniforms. Dom, our MLB columnist (he says he’ll do one), agrees with me.

It seemed that basketball took a backseat to other sports in the late nineties. I noticed that the Asian students especially loved the sport and when the finals were on Shadows, Auckland Uni’s student bar, was full of them. Drinking the free coke and following each pass intently.

A few years ago we had Sky Digital and I caught a couple of games. All I thought was: “The Nets are in the play-offs?” I remember thinking the same thing a few years earlier when the Kings were there and again later when Detroit were there (no team from Detroit ever wins anything!). This kind of thing doesn’t happen in the NBA. Teams just buy all the players who are good and then they win for the next five years (cough,Lakers,cough). I like to think that it’s to my credit that I have never liked the LA Lakers. I liked Magic Johnson; I still like Shaq (even more now he is in Miami) but never the team. This also extends to the LA Sparks of the WNBA.

Man, I remember when the big rivalry was Magic versus Larry Bird. Bird recently helped set up the Charlotte Bobcats. The Bobcats are team that have shown this season that, despite being the newest team, you can still have the crappiest nickname.

My good friend Dave Miller (the guy who sent me the Kenny Rogers book for you long-term readers) is a fan of the basket-ball and he correctly predicted, while playing an NBA arcade game, that Detroit would win the championship that year. I should probably ask him to make another prediction and then I’ll put it on here for the world to see.

Who am I picking? Well it’ll be wronger than the spelling of the word wronger, but…
I like Detroit and Cleveland (is LaBron James allowed to live up to his own hype?) but I assume that two teams from the same division can’t make both make it to the finals. I kinda want Seattle to win because I still like them and they have the coolest name in basketball, following closely by the Trailblazers and the Raptors (it’s a team named after a dinosaur!). But the statistics are leaning towards Phoenix.

[I have just come up with an idea for a competition, please read the next blog for more details.]

Monday, March 07, 2005

Swap Meet

The Raiders get Randy Moss; the Vikings get Napoleon Harris. The Jets get Laveranues Coles; the Redskins get Santana Moss. The Ravens got Derrick Mason. The Browns got Trent Dilfer.

The Jets-Redskins trade is the most interesting because there seems to be no reason for it to happen. Maybe there were players wanting to be traded. Coles sure seemed to want out of the Redskins (and who can blame him) but Moss seemed (outwardly) happy at the Jets. Well, considering that Coles left the Jets for large sums of money at the ‘skins he better come back with his head bowed in reverence. I like Moss and wish him well at the ‘skins (the trade is official once both players pass a physical); he will be missed as real good player, and damn fast. On a side note the Jets gave up running back LaMont Jordan (there is a lovely photo on this link) to free agency and he went to the Raiders where he should start and we can all see how good he is. As a replacement the Jets got Derrick Blaylock from the Chiefs, nice one Jets.

This is old news, but Randy Moss has gone to the Raiders. I think that the Oakland ideals of sportsmanship, team building and fair play will shine through and help Randy become as great as Jerry Rice before him. Please insert the Tui slogan. The Vikings on the other hand seem to be doing well on their defensive spend-up after acquiring Pat Williams for their defensive line. But, can anyone tell me who Daunte Culpepper is going to throw to? Who was the second WR in the Vikings line-up? And at running back? (Actually there are three: 1,2,3) These are mysteries to be solved later in the year (although the way this off-season is going it will probably be tomorrow).

Did the Browns really want Trent Dilfer? Really? They only lost a fourth round pick for him, but Trent Dilfer? Maybe Romeo Crennel has got something cooking for the draft.
The Ravens got Derrick Mason and now all they need is someone to throw to him. Maybe they should’ve got Trent Dilfer. And in other WR news, Mushin Muhammad has a new home in Chicago and now all they need is someone to throw to him. Maybe they should’ve got Trent Dilfer. (wait didn’t I already write that?). Actually I would like to see Kurt Warner at the Bears.

Now the only really big question remaining is: Where will Plaxico go? and Does anyone want Ty Law or Samari Rolle?

Right that’ll do me for today
I swear there will be something on Basketball by the end of the week.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Right of Reply

From a disgruntled Auckland fan (the person who wrote this knows what I mean, assuming it is who I think it is):

Your post reminds me of people who study economics for too long. They forget the notion of "telos" or the good. What good is there in maximizing GDP if you produce more homeless and destitute? What purpose is rugby supposed to serve. In the NZ context, it is our national glue/identity, which helps us define who we are. We may not be as well funded or arrogant as Australia or South AFrica, but when we put our minds to it, we can compete and beat them. A lot of us put in, creating local competitions that keep our kids healthy, and provide places for old people to tell their stories. These local competitions lead on to provincial comps, where anyone can win the shield (ask Taranaki), and you may (if you're lucky) win the first division. That at least was the theory until the advent of Professionalism. Now we have a product we can sit and watch every Friday Saturday and Sunday. We have faced up to commercial reality. Now we have H's peice about adopting more (dare we call them) reforms to resolve the problems with rugby. Is there another pill to take (rather than swallowing the one that makes you ill)? Or maybe I've missed the point. I'm from Mangere. In the park behind where we used to live, every weekend a bunch of people came out to play footy. I didn't even know what they were doing, as they didn't have lineouts, and their jerseys had Vs on the necks. I didn't know what I was watching because poor people play league. And rich people get on TV. So maybe it is just that union has turned into (or will soon be) a boring elitist sport which noone wants to watch. Maybe we've only just realised that how rugby used to be was kinda like race relations. A collective day dream.