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

Thursday, April 28, 2005

[Sport] Football with Feet and Baseball with Balls

The Following is a conversation between Dom and Jim (James) Coe about soccer that became a conversation between me and Dom about Baseball. It is interesting stuff.

[Ed:this was an email conversation and has been edited because some people don’t spell too good well.]

James: Seems like it is up to the FA which team gets into Champions League if Liverpool win the trophy this year. England only gets four places, so it's either fourth place or the holders. No idea how they decide.

Not that Liverpool is going to win anyway.

Dom: What the hell? When did this happen? I thought the FA cup winners get a place in the CL as well. How come only four?

Damn it we don’t need this pressure!! I don’t want to have to go to the crappy UEFA crap.

James: No, as regards the FA and League Cups, the winners (or the other finalist if the winner qualifies through the league - hence Millwall this year) go into the UEFA Cup. The top four league clubs go into CL.

It seems that this decision on allocation of places is up to the national FA rather than UEFA. For example, the cup winners in Italy get no European spot unless they qualify via the league. So should Liverpool win the CL (and Everton hold fourth), the FA will have to decide between the holders of the CL and the 4th placed team in the Premiership.

Wouldn't want that job too much.

Here you go though, just found this [Ed: Jim doesn’t mention where so I can’t link to it]

[Ed: Basically it’s a long article that backs up what Jim said that Liverpool would have to place in the Premiership to get into the Champions League next year]

Hadyn: Who does Jim Support? Is it Chelsea?

Dom: No way. He’s a disciple of the arsenal. Man he'd slap you for even suggesting such a thing. Maja Lundun rivals, those two.

Hadyn: That's right, I remember now. It's Jules [Ed: Dom’s younger brother] who's a Chelsea fan ay?

Dom: Yup.

Sorry, I’m quite interested in your working for the baseball games. Are you sure its only 2300?

[Ed: Dom is referring to a question asked at the last pub quiz “How many games are played in the MLB regular season]

Hadyn: 5 divisions with 5 teams + one division with 4
=> (5x5)+4
Each team plays 162 games (except Tampa who only played 161 last year????)
=> ((5x5)+4)x162
But each team plays each other so divide by two
=> (((5x5)+4)x162)/2

Dom: It must have been because [Tampa] are so crap that not even the players turned up one day.

The teams don’t all play each other. There is a period during the middle of the season set aside for inter-league matches where they play a few teams, but some teams have never played each other.

Plus there are 30 teams. The NL central has 6 teams. So it’s about 2430 games. I didn’t do the halving thing in my initial guesstimate

Hadyn: Wait a minute. There is a division that has four AND a division that has 6?

And all the rest have 5?

Should I just pop over and explain it to them?

Dom: I guess it’s to do with boundaries. There are lots of states and teams in the central and east and very few in the west. It’s a logistical thing mate. You play the teams you're closest too the most often (I think it might even be as high as 50% of total matches are against your own division). If Seattle had to go to all the way to Chicago and St Louis and Milwaukee or one of those teams had to go to Anaheim and Texas and ‘Frisco.

Although having said that, Houston is in the NL central…Go figure

Hadyn: I imagine that it is more likely to be because certain teams have been in certain leagues since the start. Just like the Cowboys who are in the NFC East, even though they are not in the east.

Let’s have a look...[Ed: goes to ESPN.com]

Just move Houston into the ALW. They already have Texas in there!

OK that was too easy, lets say no two Texan teams in the same league (coz Texas aint big enough for the two of them)

...Sh_t they really are clustered aren't they?...

I would have to move St Louis to the ALW. In the NFL they are in the NFC West with the 49ers and Seattle et al.

Dom: Also. They are in different divisions and probably have been for years. Lots of different rules and habits. The DH in the American league is probably the biggest difference. But there are lots of little things. You know how they talk about this "West Coast Offence" thing in NFL [Ed: Long deep throws ala Steve Young to Jerry Rice] it’s kinda the same in MLB.

Both leagues have their little nuances like the way their pitchers pitch, the temperature they keep the balls [Ed: snigger], the style of offence and how the order their batters. The change would be pretty significant and too much probably for fans and purists.

Lots of long time rivalries that hard core fans hang out for.

Hadyn: What’s a DH? Oh, does it stand for Double Header?

Dom: DH stands for Designated Hitter. Seattle's recently retired Edgar Rodriguez was the best of these. Jason Giambi from the Yankees is usually one cos he’s a crap defender. That’s usually the reason.

The DH is a good place to blood new players, stick old players that aren’t as sharp in the field anymore but are still good bats, bring back newly fit players after injury lay-offs (Ken Griffey Junior seems to be a perennial DH for this reason ever since he moved back to Cincy).
The AL has it so there is more offence more hitting. The NL don’t and it shows. Their pitching is tighter and scores are generally lower.

Also, the NL pitchers also hit. Most are crap but some are pretty handy (D-Train, Mike Hampton and this Houston pitcher forgotten his name). They pitch to strike sides out.

The AL know they are going to get smashed and just have to hope that their offence is stronger than that which they are pitching too. Well at least it appears that way to me.

Hadyn: So what happens in the final?

Dom: Well it depends on the location.

The hosting of the World Series depends on the result of the previous all-star game. Whichever league wins that gets to lead off the hosting 2-3-2 I think. It’s a bit controversial and they always whinge but i can't see them changing it.

So anyway if it’s at Yankee stadium, then the NL pitchers get a night off. If it’s at Shea Stadium then the AL pitcher better have got some practise in midweek.

I dunno. I’m an American League boy so I like the DH and by the number of American League winners of the World Series over the last decade I suggest that offence rules

[General] "Slap Your Knee" Funny

I laughed and laughed and laughed. Oh, how I laughed.

What was I laughing at? This.

Thank you Gen. JC Christian. Thank you Kung Fu Monkey. Thank you all.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

[General] Items Of Interest #5

Want to see a shaky, occasionally out-of-focus camcorder recording of the first The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe trailer? I thought so.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

[Sport] The Super Duper 12 (and a draft)

I promised rugby and by God I’m going to deliver!

Except that we had friends down for the weekend and so I didn’t see a single game.

I saw the news that Justin Marshall has now played 100 Super 12 games. Anton Oliver (107) and George Gregan (126) are the only players who have played more. By the way, neither the Herald nor Stuff knew how many games Gregan or Oliver had played.

Andrew Mehrtens is now the highest point scorer in the history of Super 12 with 972 (Mehrtens also holds Super 12 records for: the most points in a season – 206 in 1998; most penalties in a season – 43 in 1999; most conversions in a match – 13 vs. the Waratahs in 2002; and most dropped goals in a match – 3 vs. the Highlanders in 1998). He passed Matt Burke’s old mark (959) with a penalty in the Crusaders win over the Cats. Again, neither the Herald nor Stuff knew what the mark Mehrtens passed was.

With seven bonus points the Waratahs still lead the competition. Who is really leading? Well if we remove those stupid bonus points the ranking are like this:

  1. Highlanders (6-1-1) = (w-l-d)
  2. Waratahs (6-2-0)
  3. Crusaders (6-2-0)
  4. Blues (6-2-0)

The tie break is decided (as it should be) by “points-differential” (i.e. Points For minus Points Against).

Blues midfield back Rua Tipoki (B.O.P.) has been suspended from all rugby for three weeks after striking Stormers' Jean de Villiers in their Rebel Sport Super 12 match in Cape Town on Sunday. The incident was off the ball and opened a cut on de Villiers face. We here at the Hammer do not look kindly on violence in sports (including fan violence); but, as has been said in the past: They’re not playing tiddlywinks. The television replay showed Tipoki being first tackled without the ball and then held on to by de Villiers well off the ball. Tipkoi turned and popped him one in the chops. Perhaps three weeks is the correct amount of time for such an offence. Send me “angry talkback radio” style comments about this if you want.

[The next paragraph is written as a conversation]

Sport Pundit: Norm Maxwell is off to Japan!
The Hammer: Um, so?
Pundit: Well, he was a great player for both the Crusaders and the All Blacks.
Hammer: No he wasn’t, as a lock he wouldn’t even have a shot if it wasn’t for the fact that both the Waikato boys (Robinson and Gibbes) are injured, and what does it say about Maxwell that you’d pick Ali Williams ahead of him.
Pundit: Yeah, but he...um…
Hammer: What? Caused a lot of penalties? The weirdest part of this whole deal is that it means Reuben Thorne might make it back into the All Blacks.

Did any one catch the Draft on the weekend? (Yeah I know this is American Football but I didn’t have anything else to say about rugby). Maybe you saw the replay? Nah probably not (because there was no coverage at all, except maybe on Sportscenter). Still here is what you can see on Sky:

Date: Tue 26 Apr 2005 14:00PM
Duration: 60 Minutes
Channel: ESPN
Genre: Sports
Censorship: G
Synopsis: 2004 National Scrabble
Championship from New Orleans Downtown Marriott in New Orleans, LA, USA.

There were still a few surprises. The second best QB in the draft, Aaron Rogers, didn’t go until pick #25 (Green Bay). The Vikings and Cowboys made out like bandits and San Diego followed them.

CBs flew out the door left right and centre. But Antrel Rolle (the best CB in the draft) wasn’t the first selected (he finally went to Arizona). Tennessee selected Adam “Pacman” Jones ahead of Rolle because Jones was better in a man-to-man coverage. They may also have picked Jones because they know he isn’t as good and so does he and they could negotiate a smaller deal (because the Titans are in salary cap hell).

Pat Kirwan on Jones: Adam Jones, a bit of a surprise as the first corner, but he brings the best man-to-man coverage skills and almost a 15-yard punt return average. When your team wants to blitz and play pressure defense, this is an excellent choice.

The Jets had no first round pick, but with their first pick in the second round they took a kicker, Mike Nugent. I actually was not surprised, look out Doug Brien, that shanked kick against the Steelers may have been your last.

Before the run on CBs, RBs were in fashion with three going in the top five. Ronnie Brown went to Miami, Cedric Benson went to Chicago and Carnell “Cadillac” Williams went to Tampa. Of these three I see great things from Brown and Benson but from Benson earlier, he may even get rookie of the year.

Pat Kirwan on Benson: Cedric Benson is a sure thing in the NFL. He's done it as the 'bell cow' back. In Chicago, he will force teams to bring the safety down into the box and open up the passing lanes for Rex Grossman. Benson is no Ricky Williams, but he has cutback vision like Curtis Martin. He may never have a 40-yard run, but there will be plenty of 15-yard carries. Benson will finish his rookie season with over 1,000 yards.
Vic Carucci on Benson: The Bears had long targeted Benson for this pick. Like the Dolphins, they want to establish a power-oriented foundation. And there isn't a more powerful back in this draft than Benson. He might not have Ronnie Brown's speed or hands, but he can be a consistent workhorse, pounding between
the tackles. And that will help make Lovie Smith's defense better while also helping to take pressure off of young quarterback Rex Grossman.

Friday, April 22, 2005

[NFL Football] It's kinda cold, there must be a Draft in here


The draft is this weekend! I’m going to go home and turn on ESPN, put on my Curtis Martin jersey (selected 74th in 1995 by the New England Patriots), insert my normal size hand into a larger foam version and shout obscenities at the idiotic picks made by the draft selectors.

Actually that is a lie. I’m just gonna read about it later on the internet. But the draft is a big deal. We should have a similar thing for rugby here. It gets everyone interested in the players and the teams and at the “lower levels” of the sport. There is such a huge sense of investment in a player when a draft pick is used on him that, if he doesn’t perform later on, his draft selection number hangs on him like the “Boulder of Shame”. Read this list of #1 picks and see how many names you remember.
Note: in 1999 QB Tim Couch (currently unemployed) was selected 1st, QB Donovan McNabb was selected 2nd.

This year San Francisco has the first pick. They haven’t had the first pick since 1964. As such many are unsure as to what they will do. Most are saying it will be Alex Smith (QB Utah) or Aaron Rogers (QB Cal). Aaron Rogers wants to be 49er so bad; he used to wear a Joe Montana jersey under his pads every game at college. Will he get sad if he has to play for the Cardinals (the team that will most likely pick-up whichever QB isn’t picked) like a certain Manning last year?

Speaking of the Cardinals, they have just unveiled new uniforms to match their new, more aggressive, logo.

The 49ers may yet surprise everyone and go with WR Braylon Edwards or CB Antrel Rolle (can anyone tell me if he’s related to Samari).

Last year the offensive rookie of the year was QB Ben Roethlisberger (picked 11th by Pittsburgh) and the defensive rookie was LB Jonathon Vilma (picked 12th by the Jets). So being the first pick (or even in the top ten) doesn’t mean you’ll be the greatest player from that year. In fact have a look at last year's top ten:

  1. Eli Manning QB
  2. Robert Gallery T
  3. Larry Fitzgerald WR
  4. Philip Rivers QB
  5. Sean Taylor FS
  6. Kellen Winslow TE
  7. Roy Williams WR
  8. DeAngelo Hall CB
  9. Reggie Williams WR
  10. Dunta Robinson CB

How many would you say were standouts in 2004? One, maybe two?

The Jets, meanwhile, have traded away their first round pick to the Raiders. In return they received TE Doug Jolley.

“New York also gets a second-round (47th overall) and two sixth-round picks (182, 185) from Oakland, while the Raiders get a seventh-round selection” [NFL.com]

Using the Cowboys draft chart (scroll down to see it) where each draft pick is worth a certain amount of points: the Jets traded 714.2 for 466 and a player. But here’s the thing; the player (Jolley) is considered, by the Jets, to be better than those available in the draft, hence he is worth the same amount of points as the first round pick they traded away (because they were going to use the pick on a TE anyway).

And the Redskins have traded big time with the Broncos to get another first round pick (they now have picks 9 and 25). They apparently need a CB and a WR and want to get both in the first round. What did the ‘Skins trade for this pick? They traded a third-round selection (No. 76 overall) in this year's draft and the Redskins’ picks in the first and fourth rounds in 2006.

So going back to the chart: the ‘Skins traded (roughly) 1,439 for 720. [I the average of all picks in the first and fourth rounds]. The 'Skins better hope this works out.

But we’ll have to wait until the draft starts on the 23rd (24th here in NZ). Make sure some of you kiwis catch it on the telly. Hahahahaha that’s a joke, there will be no televised coverage of the draft in NZ. Watch it on the net instead.

Heoi ano

Thursday, April 21, 2005

[General] Armageddon-it (Really Gettin It!)

Better late than never, (well maybe you had best read the post before deciding that).

As promised last week here is a run down of Wellington’s Armageddon expo. Now please remember that we only went on the Saturday and only for a few hours. As such I was unable to photograph as many freaks as I wanted to. If you are one of the freaks who I did manage to capture then please feel very lucky.

Here is the official review (just scroll down a bit). The first line is: “Well we survived Armageddon Wellington 2005, I feel like I endured a Klingon pain ritual to get there…” Why do they always have to mention Klingons?

[With regular dial-up web-surfers in mind, I will link to the photos rather than having them in the actual post, so please do follow the links]

José and I paid our $14 entry fee, for this we received a ticket; we turned 180° and handed our ticket straight to a waiting volunteer. We then passed people giving out bags of freebees (and advertising) as we reached out the ladies laughed and said these are for kids only. We didn’t laugh. José made the joke (gesturing towards me): “He has the mind of a child”. I still didn’t laugh.

Back when Armageddon was first starting in Auckland the entry fee would net everyone a bag of goodies including: a random six month old comic, a lollipop, vouchers and five kilograms of advertising. Now only the kids get it, it made feel very old (sniff), I’m not even worth being marketed to anymore.

We passed the display of “fan art” being shown. There was a whole lot of “Furry” art. These are anthropomorphic animals, usually portrayed in skimpy outfits as either barbarians or gun-totting warriors. It is quite weird.

I poked my head into the main auditorium and saw that Ray Park (Darth Maul and Toad in X-Men) was doing a sword fighting demo with audience members. Ray Park should not be confused with Ray Parker Jr who performed the Ghostbusters theme song. The light was poor and so the pictures are slightly blurry. Sorry.

In these photos Ray is battling a girl who is wielding a neon-lit, life size Count Dooku lightsaber. Ray himself only had a little tiddler of a saber, but it’s not the size that matters…

We moved on before he had finished. We went to a stand being run by (what they claimed were) NZ’s only all female comic publishers. They published a book called Tour Girls (by the way do NOT type that into a search engine to find a copy just contact me instead, I’ll tell where you can find it). They were running a special so I bought a couple of issues (actually there have only been two issues). The girls were likable and very enthusiastic (one remembered us later on and said hello which was nice) but I found the comic kind of haphazard and un-funny. The art was ok, but confusing at times as well. Also it seemed that they were trying for the fan-boy audience as the two main characters are of the long-legged, large-chested variety (you may remember there was a drive recently to get more women into the graphic arts so that there would be more “real” looking women). Sorry girls.

Moving our way past Japanese stuff, pewter dragon statues and kids high on P, DBZ and YGO (that’s Pokemon, Dragonball Z and YuGiOh) we found pourselves at the NZ comic area. Yay! There are some brilliant NZ comics around, there are also craptastic ones. The last Armageddon went to I was browsing the NZ comics and had just put down the worst illustrated badly written piece of crap and was walking to one of the other tables when the author of said crap yelled at me: “Hey why don’t you buy some NZ comics!” I turned, and there were a few people watching because of the loudmouth, I informed him that I had, in my bag, a copy of Pirate Technics, a copy of Chopper Chick and a copy of Killer Robots Will Smash the World (The website for these brilliant titles is here).

Oh that reminds me, I also (finally) got my hands on a copy of Pirate Technics II. For those of you out of the loop, the story revolves around rock and roll pirate robots that have to team up with the robot forces of dance music to battle evil pop-music zombies (who are also robots). It is a much better read than I have described.

José got to talk to his comic hero Dylan Horrocks again. I snapped this photo while they discussed stuff.

Photo 4

And then I saw these guys.

Photo 5

The girls will like you now you’ve got a little wooden sword. It’ll add heaps of Charisma points.

Dylan Horrocks is a nice enough fellow and we chatted for a while. Strangely the topic turned to pornography after I purchased a set of Dylan’s Tijuana Bibles (which are only slightly dirty). Dylan said that he was interested in the idea of porn, the idea that pencil drawings could stir primal emotions in people and really get inside them. He told us about a new project he is working on that follow this idea. José was supposed to ask him about it later at a talk he was giving at a gallery in the Aro valley–Dylan asked him to because he thought “it’s an interesting topic and I want to discuss it more”–but he couldn’t because there wasn’t a chance to ask in the end.

Further down from the NZ Comics (which I didn’t buy) were the guys from Bro’Town (the only link I could find). I got José to take a photo of us.

Photo 6

I’m the un-cool white dude (coloured red) in the middle; Jose is the reason the photo is blurry. I thanked them heaps and as we walked away some guy asked me: “Did you just get a photo with them?” “yeah” “oh”. I didn’t realise what I had done. On the way back past there was a large group gathering around the Naked Samoans getting photos taken. Sorry guys that was me who started that.

The rest of the expo was a little disappointing. I still didn’t find Gen13 #8 (the only one I don’t have) if you have it and want to sell it to me please contact me. And these were the only people I saw in any kind of costume.

Picture 7
Picture 8

I think that the guy in the Darth Vader was asking his girlfriend if he could buy it (it altered your voice too).

Well that’s it. It was quite disappointing in the end. It probably needs to be bigger or something.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

[General] Gentle Ben

We all have a new Pope. Benedict XVI or Benny.

All of us. Even the Jews. Even the Hindus. Look out you Non-Catholic heathens! He's coming to get ya!

Emperor Popetine
"Grrrrrr, I'm the Pope"
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Ratzinger accepting the nomination...wait...this isn't him!

We have a spare room if anyone wants to hide from a regime or inquisition.

“Big” Ben was of course chosen by God. We’ll, maybe not the first time. God wasn’t quite sure…

[NFL Football] My Hero

Ah, now I remember why I liked Wednesday mornings at work…I mean Wednesday evenings at home during my own time (just in case the boss has stumbled onto this blog). Tuesday Morning Quarterback (and hero of mine), Gregg Easterbrook has returned with his yearly NFL Mock Mock Draft.

I have nothing to add to NFL commentary at the moment. The pre-draft free agency is dribbling to a close (which means the Patriots are just starting to sign players) and the draft coverage is getting repetitive. I take some diabolical glee in the fact that Ty Law (whose real name is Tajuan (presumably pronounced “Taiwan”) and has two children, Tya and Ty Jr.) is still un-signed; that’ll teach him for being greedy.

Starting this weekend I will attempt something unheard of here at the Hammer. I will blog about rugby.

(Pause for effect).

Coming off a dizzying high of picking all the Super 12 games correctly last weekend I decided I was going to have a closer look at this mug’s game.

Monday, April 18, 2005

[General] You're In The Army Now

Does anybody else find this strange?

Murphy Poses for US Troops

Hollywood beauty Brittany Murphy agreed to pose for a sexy photo shoot for American men's magazine Maxim after the editor promised to send 40,000 copies bearing a personal message from the 8 Mile actress to US troops stationed in war-torn Iraq. Murphy sent her cousin who is serving in the Marines a special photo shoot, and she's delighted to be doing her bit to raise the spirits of soldiers serving thousands of miles away from their loved ones. She says, "Taking that picture was the least that I could possibly do."

It’s this bit that freaks me out: “Murphy sent her cousin who is serving in the Marines a special photo shoot”. Cousins eh? Still I suppose they do things differently in the states.

[General] Ain't Gonna Play Sin City

Here is one of many great Photoshop attempts for a Sin City poster competition.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

The picture comes from Something Awful.com, go visit them.

[General] So Many Weirdos

In addition to these people (in case you missed them before), Spiderman had this “live-action role playing” link on his blog. Check out the lightning bolt guy, he must be a wizard (but probably wants people to call him a "Mage"). Saving throw for being a dick…failed.

Photos and brief run down of Armageddon later on. I couldn’t find many freaks to photograph so don’t get your hopes up.

Friday, April 15, 2005

[General] My Many Adventures

Well, I started the week meeting with world leaders and ministers (the names of which I cannot reveal as then everyone would know who I was and where I worked) and local VIPs who work “behind the scenes”. Very cool.

I ended the week (or rather started the end of the week) by sharing an elevator with an international star of the silver screen (whose name I will also not reveal). The following is a dramatisation of the event:

The lift arrives at the same time I do and I follow a seemingly “normal” (un-famous) person into elevator. Noting that Ground Floor had indeed been pressed I lean back against the hand-rail and straight in to the face of a famous celebrity. Making sure my brain isn’t playing tricks, I start to scrutinise the face, at that moment he looks at me. There is an awkward glance around the elevator from both of us. Then I think: “Fuck it! I’m gonna say hello”. So I do.

“Kia ora, I’m Hadyn, it’s nice to meet you”, “Nice to meet you too”, he responds. Then, with nothing to follow it up, we both stare awkwardly around the lift for the NEXT NINE FLOORS!

Afterwards, Dom told me I should’ve said “Hey, I loved you in…” and then just insert a random movie that he wasn’t in. E.g. “I loved that dance you did in Footloose, man you rocked!”

Well José’s down for the weekend and we are going to the Armageddon expo. I’ll take my camera and snap a few geeks in their natural environment.

No. I won’t be dressing up. (By the way you seriously have to click this link it is the funniest thing you will ever see, unless you are one of these people).

Thursday, April 14, 2005

[Sport]: Rage, Rage Against the scoring of the Goal

It’s been a little while since I did a “real” sports post so I’m going to try. The problem is that with Dom covering baseball and Dave doing basketball there has been no real sport going on for me to cover.

What’s that? Sounds like a whiney whimpering voice saying (in-between sobs) “But what about the cricket and the Super 12”. Dry your eyes mate. They aren’t real sports. Well cricket’s definitely not. And the Super 12 is a farce. There that should keep you reading.

Well done Lou Vincent. Lil’ Lou got 224 runs against Sri Lanka yesterday at the Basin Reserve. That is the seventh-most for a NZ batsman ever, 5th most at the Basin and quite a bit more than what everyone else got. See, he’s not just a big chin. So with big scores like that we might actually draw the test. Sorry, that was a joke. I am actually surprised they were playing at all. It was bloody freezing yesterday in the Capital and the Southerlies were no fun.

Lou was apparently happier with getting one hundred than with getting the second one. He hadn’t had a century in a while and really wanted one. That is why he got the second hundred in half the time. So that has to be the Black Caps strategy from now on. Just don’t give a shit and you play better. They should just wander out listening to a walkman, shirt un-tucked and wearing an armband that says “Glenn McGrath stole my car”; stand in a baseball stance and then smack the red leather off the mofo. Better yet, go to the crease and then put a solid black visor over your helmet (“But with the blast-shield down, how am I supposed to bat”) and let the Force do the rest.

(By the way check out Shane Warne at the bottom of this page, had a little too much sun)

I was planning on blogging about how boring Test Cricket is, but that seems sort of rude now.

The Super 12 is shaping up to be what it always is: predictable. With the possible exception of the Hurricanes; but ‘Canes fans don’t get your hopes up. I still don’t like bonus points. It should be Win or Lose. There should be no consolation for the losers. Actually I’m not that harsh, but it irks me that you can win more games but still be behind a team that lost a few close ones, like the Waratahs. The current table looks like this:

Rank Team P W D L BP Points
1 Waratahs 7 5 - 2 7 27
2 Hurricanes 7 6 - 1 1 25
3 Highlanders 7 5 1 1 1 23
4 Crusaders 6 4 - 2 4 20

It should look like this:

Rank Team P W D L BP Points
1 Hurricanes 7 6 - 1 1 24
2 Highlanders 7 5 1 1 1 22
3 Waratahs 7 5 - 2 7 20
4 Crusaders 6 4 - 2 4 16

The use of bonus points should only be for tie-breaks.

The Super 12 is just dull. And don’t think that’ll it’ll get better as the Super 14. It’ll just be duller for longer. Perth and…hey, who is the other team. Any way, they will either occupy the bottom of the table for their entire existence (which I give 3 years max) or they will come flying out of the blocks almost make the playoffs and then occupy the bottom of the table for the rest of their entire existence (which I give 3 years max). Ah, the other team is (according to this) is going to be the Central Cheetahs. The Mighty Elephants (mentioned in the article) sound cooler though, and do the South Africans really want a team called Cheetahs before they even get on the field?

[[Update: Dom informed me that the new contracts run for 5 years, I believe that these guys probably wont make it that far though]]

Also I just found this article which claims that there will be Monday night matches in the Super 14 and the season will be shorter. Well that’s good to hear. Of course the article sites the NFL’s very popular Monday Night Football, but fails to mention the horrible period of adjustment that it took the NFL to work through. Also it doesn’t mention the fact that the NFL players start their MNF games close to midnight in order to fit into TV scheduling. Are our rugby players going to submit to TV times? There are no convenient breaks in rugby for ads either, so it will still be on Sky.

SANZAR had it in their hands to make the competition interesting by inviting the Japanese and the Islanders to play (which may in turn help their respective nations for the next World Cup). But instead went with dull, boring, PREDICTABLE rugby. They should have listened to me.

Away now to the asexual parent of rugby football: Football (actually played with the feet). The beautiful game. Here is another article about the Milanese soccer “fans”. According to the BBC article:

“In Holland, the fans tend to riot when they win whereas British or Italian fans
tend to object with anger when results turn against them.”

Note: in Holland it's "riot", in England and Italy it's "object with anger".

This is another reason why I like NZ. If our team wins we have a “good on ya well done, but don’t get a big head” attitude. If our team loses we have a “don’t worry we’ll get ‘em next time and we are just a small country” attitude, except for our poor cricketers recently and the All Blacks at the 1999 World Cup. (I remember a TV One poll done in December of 1999 getting people to rank the worst tragedies of the 20th Century, losing the ’99 World Cup beat WW1).

The moment we lose this we become Australia. And nobody wants that, except maybe Winston Peters.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

[General] Suitcase Follow-up

Never say that we here at The Hammer are not true journalists. Not only will you get an angry stare from us but we will, eventually, prove you wrong, somehow.

I have followed up on the piece in yesterday’s blog about the poor bloke who was tackled by police for having suitcases near government buildings in Washington.

The man was belligerent, and did not respond to police orders; because he did not speak English. He was a Chinese tourist who had gone to Washington in the hope of seeing George Bush. For his troubles one of suitcases was destroyed by water-cannon as it contained “wires”. The wires turned out to be a CD player. After all of this they still charged the poor man! It’s all here. Including the picture of the SWAT guys sneaking up on him (and standing on the flowers!).

Still random arrests and the destruction of private property is the price we have to pay for America’s Freedom.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

[General] Holy Blog, Blogman!

Kia ora koutou

I did a little Blog-trolling yesterday (via the above randomizer) and came across the following superhero blog. There seems to be a small community of these people, as can be seen by this guy’s (or girl’s) links on the right-hand side. [For those who are afraid to click the links these are people blogging as comic superheroes]

Do you think they dress up to blog? I shouldn’t be so harsh. I am such a geek that I could not help but think that they were damn funny (and I got most of the references).

I especially liked the Hulk’s blog.

Maybe we need these web-do-gooders. Considering how things are handled by regular police. This story outlines why you should not take your luggage to Washington DC. A man was surrounded and then tackled by armed police–who had already evacuated the area of civilians–because he was standing with two suitcases near a government building. Did you notice there is no mention what is in the suitcases? Underwear maybe?

That’ll do for the moment.
Heoi anō

Monday, April 11, 2005

[General] The Ukraine is Weak!

While some might spend their Saturday nights dancing in nightclubs (are they still called that?), going to the theatre or partying until the small hours; we had people round to eat fish and chips and play a board game.

Risk™: the game of world domination.

First let me say this: I was not the first person bundled out. Thank God. I was not in the most commanding position but was able to create an alliance that kept me around for one more turn. Oh and the day before, my idea that we should all dress up as our favourite dictator or military commander was voted down.

This how it all played out…

Right from the get-go Dom (who is Polish but decided to use a French accent when defending Northern Africa) was able to control Europe, a continent he did not relinquish for the rest of the game (pretty much). Jenny (an American controlling “the red army” who used her actual accent) took Africa and despite my best Machiavellian efforts only once did anyone take it from her. Mike (who is not German but played with a German accent and sometimes one that sounded slightly Russian) was subtly fortifying the North East Asian regions of Siberia and Yakutsk. We all thought Mike would be the first to tumble as his dice rolling luck failed him and Jenny established control of the Australian continent.

Amy (who never put on an accent during the game) and I (who said a bunch of dumb stuff but never in a passable accent) were locked in combat for the Americas. I controlled the North for two whole rounds before I decided that someone had to knock Dom from Europe, and I took Iceland. You know that saying about “sleeping giants”…

We kept telling Dom, who had built up quite the fortifications along the Mediterranean, to take Jenny “out of Africa” but it never happened. Jenny, building on her success in South Asia and Australia then swept South America and Amy from the board. With Amy’s cards she fortified and lay in wait.

One turn later she swept North America and me, with my cards she was instantly able to bolster her forces and wipe Dom from Europe. We were shocked. Mike put up a brief stand but, once again, his skill with the dice let him down. The world lay beneath the iron fist of Jenny.

So everyone headed home, I stayed up for a bit to watch the royal wedding which was actually bloody boring. The best bit was a brief piece of commentary from Stephen Fry. He is one of only a few people who can use the English language to its fullest extent without sounding like a dick.

Instead I found myself drawn to TV3 which was playing Baseketball. I know this movie blew at the box office and I know it was just a low brow gag fest. But it was so funny!

Don’t spend any money to see it (ok maybe $2) but do try to see it. With that in mind I will now ruin a small piece of it for you. The two main characters (played by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone who also helped write the film) are best friends who have a falling out but make up near the end to beat the bad guy. When they have their big reunification scene, as with many “buddy pics”, they go to hug but instead have a big pash (or tongue kiss). Man I laughed and laughed.

I dunno maybe I was tired, but it was funny at the time.

By the way, here is what the IMDB said about the wedding:

Royal Wedding "A Flop" for TV Viewers
Saturday's nuptials of Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess Of Cornwall only drew 7.6 million television viewers in their native Britain - compared to the 30 million Brits who watched his first marriage to Diana, Princess Of Wales. More people tuned into watch the BBC's coverage of the Grand National horse-racing, which followed the heir-to-the-throne and his former mistress' wedding in Windsor, England. An average of 6.2 million viewers watched the civil ceremony in Windsor's Guildhall, while the star-studded blessing at St George's Chapel acquired another 1.4 million royalists, bringing the total up to 7.6 million. The Grand National attracted 9.5 million viewers. The Prince's first marriage to Lady Diana Spencer in July 1981 attracted 750 million viewers worldwide.

Ps. For those who didn't recognise it this post's title is a Seinfeld quote.

[General/Sport] Don't Forget Your Tinfoil Hat

[Ed: Sorry this post was supposed to go up on Friday but the $%&@ browser kept crashing when I hit "Publish". Please read below to see Jose's graphic account of Auckland's torrid underground party scene and Dom's first ever (EVER) post to "the Hammer" (which our pet name for this place)]

Stealing my thoughts! Those evil bastards at Microsoft have implanted Sony’s new brain technology into my Microsoft brand ergonomic keyboard and are reading my brain patterns.

And now I have proof! This article completely copies (or kind of looks like) what I have been spieling about for the past, god knows how many, columns. Let’s say…5.

I would like to point of that one of their “infamous” moments is less “in” than “famous”. I refer to the case of Tonya, Nancy and the Baton of Justice, or as I like to call it, the greatest marketing plan ever devised.

Ice skating is, despite the flimsy costumes and death defying acrobatics, boring. It has a worldwide TV audience of …um…there is no clever internet database for this but, the US Figure Skating website (why do all American sports have the same basic logo?) has this to say:

Figure skating broadcasts from the 1994 Olympic Winter Games are the
highest-rated Olympic television programming of all time. The ladies short
program from Lillehammer had the sixth-highest rating in television history
(48.5), placing behind the final episode of “M*A*S*H” and the finale of the
“Roots” mini-series

What happened in 1994 to generate so much interest in a sport? Take a guess. Harding's ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly (yes, his real name) hired a bunch of guys to hit Nancy Kerrigan in the knee with a telescopic police baton. This one action made two unknown (to the world at large) figure skaters into household names. Kerrigan went on to win silver at the 1994 games, Harding came eighth. Harding later also became an internet porn star and celebrity boxer. Kerrigan ended up pushing drugs on the back streets of Calgary (to escape any libel, I made that last bit up, she does ice tours around the states now).

Nancy’s website has some creepy questions on it:

  • How can one get backstage passes to your shows?
  • What is the name of the church you were married in?
  • How do you stay in such great shape besides skating?
  • Hi Nancy, your make up always looks great. I am a huge cosmetics fan and I was wondering what brand and colors you like to wear?
  • Are you safe from September 11th, 2001?

Nancy, I wouldn’t answer any of those questions if I were you. Nobody asked about her knee, nobody even hinted at it. "Nancy, I hope your knee is ok now." How hard is that?

This article also got my attention. Australian cricket umpire Darrell Hair is refusing to remove his trousers in order to make it easier for the New Zealanders to see the balls of Sri Lankan bowler Lasith Malinga. Cricket is such a noble sport.

On a different topic completely: because somebody (Dom) asked, below is this year’s NFL Football first round draft picks in order.

1. San Francisco
2. Miami
3. Cleveland
4. Chicago
5. Tampa Bay
6. Tennessee
7. Minnesota (from Oakland)
8. Arizona
9. Washington
10. Detroit
11. Dallas
12. San Diego (from NY Giants)
13. Houston
14. Carolina
15. Kansas City
16. New Orleans
17. Cincinnati
18. Minnesota
19. St. Louis
20. Dallas (from Buffalo)
21. Jacksonville
22. Baltimore
23. Seattle
24. Green Bay
25. Denver
26. N.Y. Jets
27. Atlanta
28. San Diego
29. Indianapolis
30. Pittsburgh
31. Philadelphia
32. New England

Sunday, April 10, 2005

[General] Nephew @ The Big House

Last weekend the Big House hosted a party boasting a lineup of Nephew, The Checks and Deja Voodoo. Rough estimates suggest 1000 people turned up for what was a great night. Alas, the homemade gin I was supping on that night suddenly and violently went sour on me, inexplicably turning into vinegar, and I felt the urge to waddle back home crying. Nonetheless, got some good pics of Nephew (Johnny Barker, Jason Cook and Greg "Goldilocks" Dempster).

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Saturday, April 09, 2005

[MLB Baseball] MLBallabalooza

ED: I thought I would never see the day, but Dom got off his arse and actually wrote a post. This is amazing. Dom has given a run down of this years contenders for the World Series and a few little bits and pieces to help newbies understand some of the lingo. So read on...

Hello Kids. I'm Gibbs and this will be the Major League Baseball section of the best BLOG on the net.

MLB is set up very much like NFL with two conferences called Leagues, American and National, and three divisions within each conference, East, Central and West [Ed: Actually the NFL has two conferences with FOUR divisions with exactly four teams in each]. So now you’ll know what im talking about when I say ALW or NLC. My early season predictions are as follows. From West to East, American League First.

The ALW is a strange little div. Unlike the other divisions it only has 4 teams, Texas, Oakland, Seattle and Anahiem [Ed: Anaheim are now the Los Angeles Angels]. They are all strong, and Seattle picked up the most offense over the off-season, but Texas have the best all-round team and great pitching led by veteran country & western singer Kenny Rogers. They also have former Yankee talisman Alfonso Soriano, who is one of the best lead-off (hits first in the batting line-up – mucho important job done by the best hitters in the game) men in the business.

Minnesota will clean up the ALC. Why? They always do.

And the very hotly contested ALE. The Yankees, last seasons unbelievable champions Boston, The Tampa Bay Devil Rays, former champions the Toronto Blue Jays and my dark horse pick of the year, The Baltimore Orioles. This will be a toughy and the most hotly contested division in all sports. The Yankees are incredible (I’ll do a special ode to them in a future entry), the Red Sox are Mutton dressed as Lamb , and the Orioles are the most underrated team in the majors. My pick – Yankees.

NLW its gonna be a dogfight between Barry “I don’t took no drugs” Bonds’ San Francisco Giants and the slap happy LA Dodgers with the second best (some might say best) closer in baseball, and everybody's favourite Quebecian, Eric Gagne. A closer is a pitcher who comes in usually in the last or second to last innings to “save” the game. However, the result is only a “save” if the leading team is ahead by less than 4 runs. So if the Dodgers were to thump everyone by 5 runs every game they win, Gagne wouldn’t play at all.

NLC. This is gonna be a nice little fight between perennial heavy weights the Chicago Cubs and last seasons beaten finalists, the St Louis Cardinals. My pick is the Cubs. Since they got rid of Sammy “one-dimensional” Sosa and his massive contract, they’ve picked up some good players to help what is probably the finest rotation (set of five pitchers who pitch for a team) in MLB. Led by Mark Prior and Kerry Wood, look for them to get an early lead and hold on to it. The Cards, led by all star all-rounder Albert Pujols (pronounced POO-HOLES, damned unlucky that) will again be strong but lost a few players to free agency and will find the Cubs too hot to handle. The Astros will also push and may have a late season flurry but I just don’t know. They might surprise me and the Killer Bees (Bagwell, Biggio, Berkman) will have sensational seasons, but they whole organisation just appears old.

The last division, NLW, will be a nice little two horse race between the Atlanta Braves and the Florida Marlins. My pick – Florida, lots a hitting, pitching could be better but they just have the hitting in Mike Lowell, Juan Pierre, Carlos Beltran, Miguel Cabrera and the pitcher who was hitting 1.000 (batting average, 7-7) last year, Dontrelle Willis aka – The D-Train.
Wild Cards? Baltimore and Boston will fight it out with Seattle and Anaheim in the AL. While San Francisco, St Louis, Houston, Atlanta and the Diamondbacks from Arizona will tussle in the National.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

[General] You Have Already Won

An interesting booklet accompanied my AA (that’s AAA for Americans) magazine this month (yes I’m an AA member wanna make something of it?). Magnamail have sent me their latest catalogue with quite a promise on the cover.

I have definitely won $5000. Or maybe a filigree garnet pendant or a Citizen watch. I didn’t even know I had entered anything. But the good people at Magnamail have said that I have definitely won something. All I have to do is purchase stuff from their brochure.

So let’s leaf through the pamphlet then shall we? I only have 14 days before I lose whatever it is I have won so I’ll just give it a skim and pick out the best bits. It all looks so good though. Oh, and if I spend more than $55 they’ll give me a free pair of ceramic duck salt and pepper shakers, in their words “something to quack about”.

Never Scrub Your Toilet Again! Let the Mineral Magnet ($9.90) do it for you. This will keep your toilet mineral free for up to 5 years or 50,000 flushes. So what they meant was Never Scrub Your Toilet for 5 years!

Holy Bible Key Ring (was $9.90, now $8.90). This 4 x 3.3 x 1cm Old Testament hangs on to your keys and bottle openers and whatever else you want. Remember how you can never remember what God said while you’re driving; well now you can look it up! Maybe pull over first.

Screen Door Repairer (five for $12.20). “Even the smallest hole in your fly screen will let any number of bugs and pests into your house”. Um…isn't a screen door made up of small holes? I don’t think I’ll buy this.

The Feminine Design Incontinence Panty! Actually let’s forget I mentioned this one.

My absolute favourite item in the whole brochure is a set of 12 Mind Teasers ($14.90). They are those clear plastic cubes with ball bearings and a plastic thing in them, the idea being to get the balls into the hole or through the “maze” etc.

…“these Teasers not only help with hand co-ordination they’re educational too.” How are they educational? Maybe it will teach my child (or me) that ball bearings are difficult to control. But it definitely does help with hand co-ordination, not hand-eye co-ordination; the hand will be co-ordinated with itself.

But this is my favourite bit and the part that first caught my attention. In large red letters the brochure proclaims that the Mind Teasers are “Hours of Endless Fun!” But if the fun is endless then…

Accompanying the Magnamail brochure was a small pamphlet from the Zealand Publishing House in Tauranga. Splashed across the top was the advertising pitch of the millennium:

At last a Bible you can easily read and understand
Shit, they need to ship that one to Ireland and the Middle East fast!

This new version is only half the length of the traditional Bible but still contains the “spiritual upliftment” of the original. Other features include:

  • All words of God are in bold type to as to be distinguishable
  • The book is printed on “white Bible paper
  • The books of Matthew Mark and Luke have been combined to save time and effort.

One reader is quoted as remarking “I’m getting so much out of this book”. This reader had most likely just read the section that details wise King Solomon’s words of wisdom about how to “prosper financially”.

This new version of the Bible also contains beautiful love stories including the Song of Solomon (described as a “Cinderella type love story”). The love stories include details of Jesus “interacting with both woman and men”. Perhaps the Da Vinci Code didn’t delve deep enough into Jesus’ life.

I am going to stop here but if you would like a copy of this pamphlet email and I’ll do my best to get a copy to you.

Actually if someone in the Wellington area has a scanner I can put it up here.


[General] Holiday Snaps

Here are the photos that were supposed to be posted yesterday.

This is Aoife, Steve, Amy and Me before the REM concert (the white dots are raindrops because it was bucketing down at that point)

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Someone likes Mirimar (Wellington, from our lounge window)

These last three are from Tina's wedding

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(sorry its blurry, I had to snap this one quickly)

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

[General] Item of Interest #5

Did you know that Suzie Aitken has won an Emmy?

And check out how serious and journalistic she looks in her online gallery here at Suzie Atiken.com

(Non-Kiwis may not find this funny)

[General] Keeping Things Tidy

Mike pointed out the problem with yesterday’s grammar problem. I had grappled with this one in the past and the answer I gave is the answer that I have received constantly from Microsoft Word. Paste it into a Word document and see.

And now just some quick housekeeping that José has asked for. All of the post titles will now include a quick descriptor of what they are about in square brackets. The topics in alphabetical order are:

  • [Cartoon] --pictures that make you smile
  • [Comment] --may also include rants
  • [General] --this is day-to-day normal blog stuff about life or cool links we’ve found
  • [NBA Basketball] --duh
  • [NFL Football] --and duh again
  • [Sport] --this is general sport stuff

Hope this will clear stuff up. I’d just read all of it if I were you. Hahaha

[Sport]: Deny Everything

If there’s one thing I cannot stand, above everything else, it’s cheating.

Currently in the states there is a congressional hearing on steroid use in major league sports. Many of the players subpoenaed are refusing to say anything because it will incriminate them. So they are guilty, otherwise they would say so. Barry Bonds is the biggest cock of the lot. Not only did he not show up, he is now taking the season off to rest from “stress”.

You big dirty lying cheat!

There are a glut of good articles on the internet about how cheating in baseball has ruined statistics like who has hit the most home runs. There was a brilliant one on ESPN.com; except that I can’t find where I wrote down the author’s name, so no link for you I’m afraid.
[Aha!!! found it, sorry its late though, please click here to read]

Basically it ran like this: Who hit the most home runs ever? Well that would be this guy, except he was on steroids. So technically it would be this guy, except he corked his bat. So I suppose it was this guy, except they made the field smaller while he was playing. So maybe it was…`

My own opinion on the topic is this: if you cheat (and are caught or later admit to it) then all of your statistics are removed from the books. You no longer exist in sports’ history, even if you didn’t break a record. Does anyone remember Ben Johnson’s 100m time from the 1988 Seoul Olympics? 9.79 seconds. It is set in a general historical record not a sporting one. You don’t rewrite history or delete things you don’t want to remember. But you also do not tell future generations that this was a fair representation of who was the fastest or strongest or whatever.

An asterisk only has so much power. The little star after a piece of information does not make it valid. Most people don’t even read footnotes.

Outside of statistics, cheating is just wrong. But encouraging cheating is worse.

Crusader’s flanker Richie McCaw (who is probably the best player at his position in the world) hit the headlines a couple of weeks back for constantly killing the ball at the breakdown. The replay which showed Blues lock Ali Williams vigorously rucking to remove McCaw also showed McCaw lying on top of the ball. The general consensus amongst sports commentators (myself included) was: “ruck the hell out of him”.

[For those of you who don’t know what rucking is: Rucking is the action of scraping a player backwards off the ball (actually you are supposed to ruck the ball itself) in order to free the ball from under them. Rucking is always backwards never in a downward or stomping motion. Usually it is used to “warn” the offending player not to lie on the ball again by scraping your sprigs across their back (never the head). Most players come out with a few scratches or a ripped jersey but sometimes it is much worse]
What happened though was that three players ended up being punished (at various levels) for over-vigorous rucking. I can understand why Williams got pinged on the field. At first glance (which is all that refs get) it looked like he stomped on McCaw’s head. But a run over the tape showed that McCaw was infringing on the play and deserved a sprig in the back for his troubles. Moreover this wasn’t the first time he had done that during the game. McCaw was flirting with the law but never admitted as much. Neither did his coach. In fact the coach, Robbie Deans, claimed that McCaw wasn’t cheating at all, despite clear evidence to the contrary.

Letting a culture of cheating and bad sportsmanship into team can only lead to bad things. Look at the dirty old Wellington Lions/Hurricanes or the dirty old Oakland Raiders. When those teams cleaned up their acts, they were (or are in the case of the Hurricanes) awesome.

McCaw’s talent lies in his ability to get the ball at the breakdown and push those laws to the limit, but he could at least admit that is what he is doing instead of the Barry Bonds way of doing things: Deny, Deny, Deny.

I got a little off track, but that’ll happen if you pop out for lunch half way through.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

[General/Comment] Being the Pope Means Wearing the Big Hat

This is my third post of the day please read the two below as well.

First a test: tell me where the apostrophe goes in these two sentences:

1 We have a cat. Its grey.
2 We have a cat, its grey.

Answers at the bottom

This is brought on by a test conducted on Campbell: Live last night. Many New Zealanders do have terrible punctuation skills and equally bad grammar. Please do not start scrutinising this blog because there will be mistakes somewhere (usually sentence fragments, “but “sentence fragment” is a sentence fragment”). Interestingly the spell checker employed by Blogger.com says that blog is a spelling mistake.

I went on a grammar and punctuation curse for work. Man, I knew nothing! Grammar had just been phased out when I went through the schooling system. What this meant was that my Chinese workmate, who learned English as a second language, kicked my arse. “Hadyn that is a conjunctive pro-adverb and so does not need an articulated subjugating noun”.

So the Pope died, did you hear? You probably did, it’s only everywhere! This is a big celebrity death. It is kind of annoying when there is a gigantic out-pouring of grief by millions for someone who could have done a lot more, and when some one who did all they could dies the remembrance is normally quite small (i.e. Mother Theresa). There was a discussion on the B yesterday morning (another reason I love Auckland) about Pope JPII’s passing. “Was he a good man?” was the basic question of the day. Many people said “yes” but that he could have done more. A lot more said “no” he should have done more.

AIDS and Africa came up a lot in the piece. I thought about this and tried to put my self in his shoes. If I was the Pope, and this is quite hard for someone who has limited (or no) belief in a higher being, then I would truly believe that not only is there a God but that He (I actually like to think of my Gods as non-gender-specific but I’m trying to think like the Pope here) has a direct influence on the world. So if you do not follow the Catholic teachings of monogamy and sex after marriage etc and then you catch AIDS or another STD then that must be God’s punishment on you. Please remember that this is not what I think but rather what the Pope might have thought.

The area I think that Pope should have done more in is that of war and conflict between religions especially. Had JPII put out a Papal decree that all Catholics must oppose the war in Iraq then would American have done all the awful things that they did? I guess we’ll never know. Although, I saw GW Bush give a speech about the Pope yesterday. Maybe I got the wrong end of the stick but it seemed to go like this: “The Pope was a great man, he told last time that I met him that America was a great country and that we were great and free and that America was awesome, fuck yeah!” Obviously this is not a quote. But how could Bush turn a eulogy for the Pope into an ad for America?

So while millions file into the world’s smallest country to see a dead body (does anyone else find it creepy that he’s just lying there?) the Vatican delegates are getting set to pick a new Pope. Quick question: is the JPII still the Pope even though he is dead? What if Jesus came back today and demanded to talk to the Pope, what would they say? “Shit, you just missed him; in fact you probably passed him on the way down here”.

All of the non-Catholics are picking the African I think the smart money is on the Italian. By the way, if you are Catholic you can apply to be the Pope yourself, no joke; I think you can get a registration form here (actually I couldn’t find it, but maybe it’s in that “secret archives” bit on the left).

On the other side of the coin, reports from America today that (surprise, surprise) US teenagers like oral sex. Duh. The scary part is that they don’t consider it to be sex. A gay friend of mine once said that when gay people say “sex” they usually mean “oral sex”. I found these differences in lexicon to be incredibly important. The US teens said oral sex felt less risky and less emotional. If teenagers prefer sexual contact that requires less emotional attachment then I think we need to muse on this a little and decide what we have been telling our kids about sex for the last few years, especially through the media. You can’t stop teenagers having sex, so perhaps we should be teaching them more about how to deal with the emotional issues that surround sex.

Enough of the real stuff, you have a lot to chew through. Here are the answers:

1 We have a cat. It’s grey.
2 We have a cat, its grey.

The first sentence requires an apostrophe after the t in “its” because this is a shortening of “it is”.
The second sentence does not need an apostrophe.

Commas are powerful things

[General] Pope Lowers Mood of the Weekend

We had a very nice weekend, much better than a certain head of the Catholic Church would have had. I hadn’t expected him to die on Sunday because there was a big article in the Sunday Star Times implying that he wouldn’t be far off death. Normally these kinds of articles are followed by the amazing longevity of their subjects.

All that remains to be seen is will the pontiff’s death be bigger than that of Princess Diana. Only time will tell (that’s actual time not the magazine of the same name).

I will ruminate on the Pope later in this piece because I am sure that you would rather hear about our trip to Auckland.

We took Friday and Monday off so we could have a nice long weekend. So on the Thursday night I ripped something painful in my shoulder at the gym. This meant a huge amount of Neurofen+ and a lot of whining to Amy about exactly how much pain I was in.

Saturday was beautiful. Suffer Wellingtonians, suffer! On Sunday we bumped into friends who used to live in Wellington. They said that the summer in Auckland was fantastic. Sigh.

I forgot how much I love the Big City. It has a wonderful griminess to it. We parked on K-road as the wedding service was being held in the Baptist Tabernacle at the top of Queen St. It was really hot. Auckland has noxious fumes everywhere and they trap the heat and hold it close to your body. You slowly build up a layer of grime over your body that at the end of the day you can scrape off with your fingernails. I miss it so much. Walking down Queen St for lunch after the wedding I smelt all kinds of foreign delicacies wafting from dark barbeque places with names derived from incorrect and strange English translations. This was the city I missed, the Auckland of summer. From the huge billboards written in (and for) Korean to the topless crack-smoking rollerblader in Myer’s Park, Auckland sure put on a wonderful show trying to lure us back.

They have to do something about lower Queen St though. Bring back the trams and make it a pedestrian mall with traffic crossings. Orleans in France has done it very well.

We saw former Auckland mayor John Banks on K-road. I kind of hoped he would be pushing a shopping cart and begging for change, at which point the irony would be complete. Instead he was filling his fat face with a kebab. The only satisfaction I got from the sighting is the fact that he was wearing boat-shoes with no socks, dick.

The wedding was nice. Amy and her friends are generally non-religious so a few things were lost on us. For example the minister spoke of marriage as a three stranded cord. We understood two strands but were left wondering who this third person in the marriage was. Is this some kind of funny Baptist tradition? Nope we were just stupid enough to forget God, (s)he’s the third strand. I found myself wincing at the strong, clear cut definition of marriage and family given by the minister, but you know, this isn’t my religion so I was cool with it, just like I assume they were cool with me not joining in on their prayer.

We stayed at a very cool B&B out in Matakana, north of Auckland, near where the reception was held. I would recommend it to anyone, except I cannot recall what it was called. When the Amex bill comes I’ll tell you. They dropped us off and picked us up so we could all drink, brilliant.

The reception was at Ascension winery. I remember this name because it was on the many, many bottles of wine that graced our table during the evening. You know how at every wedding there is the “drunken” table. That was us. We were the last to sit after every toast (because everyone had to clink glasses) we kept the wine flowing and ended up being the loudest too.

The next day we were all at different levels of seedy. The others went to play golf and Amy and I headed back into town to meet Mum (hi Mum) and Jose before heading back to Waiuku (to stay at Amy’s Mum’s place).

It was Jose who told us that the Pope had died. I’ve decided to do a separate post on the Pope though. We met José in Kingsland. Kingsland is the new Ponsonby. Ponsonby is the new Parnell. Parnell is the new New Market(?).

That’ll do.
If you didn't read it before, Dave Miller's first basketball entry is below.
Later today: another post on general stuff including the Pope and Grammar.
Tomorrow: photos from the wedding.

[NBA Basketball]: Playoff Saliva

Kia ora tātou, Hadyn here.

Below is Dave Miller's first blog (at least for the prestigious Grabthar's Hammer). I asked him for Basketball commentary and here it is.

I want to thank Jose for his Half Life Theatre and also to thank him for trying to re-enter society. I think we can all see that it is not going entirely to plan but he should be fine with a bit more re-hab.

Later on today I will “wow” you with a recap of our exploits in the Big Smoke but for now sit back, put that work to one side (as I have done), and enjoy Dave Miller’s “In the Paint”…

In the Paint is such a great name for a basketball column that it must surely exist already. In fact, I probably subconsciously stole that name from somewhere, and if I should trail off halfway through this report, you’ll know that they (intellectual property lawyers) have found me. So if anyone asks, say, “No, of course it isn’t called that, it has a much more cleverer and original name.” Then look around furtively and scuttle away.

So... does anyone watch the NBA regular season? Hell, yes! Mainly because the NBA is the greatest showcase for the greatest game in the world. But perhaps I’m a little biased. At any rate, the regular season is drawing to a close, and everyone’s mind is now on the playoffs. While there is still a considerable amount of jostling for playoff positions, there are several teams who will definitely make it through, and will definitely be worth watching through the arduous sporting bliss that is the NBA playoffs. So to crank the excitement and salivation up a notch, here’s my rundown on the top four teams from each conference, and how far I think they’ll go. Think of this as like the trailer to Episode III, but nowhere near as cool…


1 Phoenix Suns
The Suns have a high-powered, typical West Conference style offense that it is easy to get excited by. Point guard Steve Nash is the starting point for this high scoring team, and one of the best at his position in the league. The team is small and explosive: natural power forward Amare Stoudamire plays out of his position at centre, and likewise Shawn Marion has made the move from small forward to power forward. Marion is a fantastic all-rounder, though, and has used his new role to become a premier rebounder. But when the flashiness stops, do the Suns have the complete package? I’m going to go out on a limb with this one, and say that they will not be the conference champs. Even if they were, Detroit and Miami would each have the ability to slow the Suns’ offense in the Finals.

2 San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs are a winning team, which is a factor that cannot be underestimated. It’s harder to win if you haven’t been there before (I’m looking at you, Phoenix). Tim Duncan’s recent minor ankle injury has been a blessing in disguise, as the team has found that it can succeed even without him. With both Tony Parker (France) and Manu Ginobili (Argentina) contributing big points, the Spurs recently brought down key conference rivals Seattle. They could prove difficult to stop when superstar Duncan returns for the playoffs. A big question around San Antonio is: can the bench step up and take this team all the way to the championship? Sean Marks (New Zealand) is, if nothing else, well rested having spent most of the season sitting on the bench. Marks’ Olympic performance showed he is a true champion, and with a bit of court time he could influence things in the playoffs. Also, San Antonio have perennial rabbits’ foot Robert Horry. The Rockets had him, they won two titles. The Lakers had him, they won multiple titles. I’m going to pick San Antonio for NBA champions based solely on his being there. I’m also thinking about examining bird entrails and doing a bit of tarot, and will let you know how that goes (it’s faster and cheaper than actually watching the regular season).

3 Seattle Sonics
While the endless debate rages over whether to say Sonics or Supersonics, there is little debate over where the strength of this team is [ED: we all know it’s SUPERsonics Dave]. Seattle can be summed up in two words. The first word is Ray. The second word is Allen. Acquiring the services of Allen has been great to help keep this team in a winning position, and the franchise had to endure only a very minor low after the departures of Kemp, Payton, and its most glorious hours. But stop Ray Allen and you stop the Sonics, as some of the better teams have proven. Teams that are this reliant on one player generally don’t fare very well. The Bulls wouldn’t have won a single championship with only Jordan and no Pippen. Look for Seattle to make a fairly early exit, and come back with a vengeance next season.

4 Dallas Mavericks
From our “Only in Texas” archive comes the story of an NBA team whose two best players are… how do I put this… white! Keith van Horn has cemented his place among top players in the league with his new team. Meanwhile, teammate Dirk Nowitzki has had a standout season, and is currently ranked 3rd in the NBA in total points and points per game. Nowitzki is also 2nd in something called “efficiency rating”, and yes he’s German. So while the other inefficient basketball units are wasting time missing shots and not getting defensive rebounds, this marvellous 7 foot, 245 lb specimen has been turning up on time every day to kick their asses. Coach Avery Johnson had a good few years as point guard for the Spurs, and always managed to find a way to lead his team to victory, by being smart instead of tall or athletic. The Mavs have other big names like Michael Finley, Jerry Stackhouse and Shawn Bradley on their roster, and the bench has also shown it can get the job done. This team may have the best chance against the eastern conference champion, and is a strong contender to be hoisting the trophy in June.


1 Miami Heat
If you want to know about the Miami Heat, just go and check their website out. No, really, I mean it. They have pictures of their HHHOTT Miami cheerleaders! Okay, okay, if you really need another reason to support the Heat, they are not hard to find. There is absolutely no sign of Shaq letting up his stranglehold on the NBA. Place Shaq on any team and it will be a good team. Place Shaq on a team with a couple of other good players and it will be a strong contender. Place Shaq on a team with Dwayne Wade, Lamar Odom, Caron Butler, Eddie Jones, Brian Grant and Steve Smith? For some reason there is no law against this, and Miami look set to dominate the post-season the same way they have dominated the league all year. If you are looking for a serious investment opportunity, break open your piggy bank, sell any household appliance that you don’t feel is absolutely necessary (your days are numbered, vacuum cleaner!) and bet all your money on the Miami Heat being the eastern conference champs. These guys are the safest bet to walk out with the silverware, for what that’s worth. Hmm? Other reasons? Oh, sure… the ability to win close games, Shaq-Wade best combination in the league, and the resurgence of Eddie Jones, one of my favourite players, and best described as Kobe-skills but without the big head.

2 Detroit Pistons
There are two things about Detroit’s style of play that make them a global favorite and an inspiration for a lot of people. First of all they play a tough, unrelenting style of basketball: hard defense, fundamentals, rebounds and no nonsense. Secondly, they are possibly the only franchise that plays like a team, and that is why they won the title last year over the Lakers. Even their superstar, Rip Hamilton, always seems to be competing more for his team than himself. This is a very good team with a strong chance of getting back-to-back titles. Ultimately, however, they are inferior to Miami, particularly in the scoring department. Rip has the uncanny ability to get open somewhere, anywhere, and put the ball in the peach basket. But if he is not firing on all cylinders *ahem* then the team can have real problems outscoring their opponents. A lot depends on whether Rasheed Wallace can put his game face on night after night.

3 Boston Celtics
Boston has two outstanding young, talented players in Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker. Like the Sonics, this is a franchise attempting to revive old glory days, and climb back up to the top of the heap. Boston is still a bit short of the top, however. The eastern conference is a two horse race.

4 Washington Wizards
In case you missed it the first time, the eastern conference is a two… horse… race! Washington ain’t gonna change that in a hurry. Good team, but has not put together all the pieces necessary for a championship run, and is very young and inexperienced. Besides, what is a team with a 40-30 record doing as high as 4th place in the conference anyway?

So there you have it: some insights on the top 8 teams as at 31 March 2005. Some picks for the conference finals, the winners and the overall champion. Some advice on investment, which website to check out, and a bad gag about the Pistons firing on all cylinders. Not bad for a work night. Be sure to check back and tell me how wrong my predictions were once the playoffs begin. And be sure to watch out for future updates on the NBA and NFL. Hello... hello… is there anybody in there?

Friday, April 01, 2005

Half Life 2 Masterpiece Theatre

Everyone here at Grabthar's Hammer, including Gladys and Fred in Accounts, are proud to present the next installment of Half Life 2 Masterpiece Theatre. This tale was runner-up in the 12th Annual Brunschurch Talent Quest 1997. The judges (which included that great luminary of the vinegar industry, Major Forknutter III) nonetheless awarded the strip's creator with the treasured "Pissant Cup for Effort."

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Update, Update, Update!

I've finally got my arse into gear and polished off a new Fountain Funnies, the first one for '05! And I've just this moment posted a new Rant Pants (a weeklyish blog thingy) at varsity.co.nz. Yowser!