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

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


As you may have read below, I now write for Sportingo. So from now on all my sport related content will sit there and I’ll place a link to it from here (with a little teaser excerpt).

Any other shit I want to write about will be here (unless it’s about Wellington then it’ll be here)

Please resume your normal blog-grazing.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Fabulous Prizes

Some of my readers may have noticed that the blog has been a bit sparse of late. This is mainly due to me taking on a bunch of extra-extra-curricular activities. One of these is Sportingo, a user-content sports page.

Well the other day I discovered that one of my articles had won a prize! Third place, but who cares a prize is a prize.

I’m sure it’s just a short step from here to getting paid to write this stuff.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Something for the Christmas stocking

Matt Te Pou is one of the most successful coaches of rugby ever and I have often said so. Matt gave up coaching after his New Zealand Maori defeated the touring British and Irish Lions in Hamilton. This year Matt McIlraith put together an (auto)biography with Te Pou called Against The Odds and I was lucky enough to be given a copy.
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I have to admit I was expecting the usual sports book: we played this game, then we played that game etc etc then I retired. Instead the book is more like a dissection of Maori culture in sport and discovery of roots. The more I read the more I was reminded of the movie Ali (a film that was ironically criticised for focussing too much on the sport).

Te Pou had the players embrace their Maori culture introducing kaumatua (elders) to lead the team spiritually and even had the players sing waiata and practice kapa haka (once this took the place of doing a training run). This style of coaching galvanised the players but also took them on a journey.

Many of the players interviewed for the book had little or no knowledge of their whakapapa (genealogy). Many said that once they started digging their families were extremely supportive and often extremely proud of their heritage. Often these players are the ones that were derided by outsiders for not looking “Maori enough”; Glenn Jackson, Tony Brown, Paul Tito.

But it is still a sports book and it is jam packed with sporting anecdotes and such. But what I love are the stats! Wooooweeee there’s some good stats in this book. And considering the NZRU’s still keeping to it’s “nobody wants to see stats” line, this is a godsend.

Finally I have a personal connection to this book. In 2005 I was contracted by Te Puni Kokiri (The Ministry of Maori Affairs) to do a series of factsheets looking at various aspects. Often these were topical issues for example I wrote one about Maori in Contemporary Music (pdf) for New Zealand Music Week. Just before the Lions tour started I got a call saying that I was to create a factsheet about Maori in Rugby and have it ready before the NZ Maori played the Lions. This gave me two weeks to do a 5 week job. Late nights and phone calls to the NZRU finally produced a document (pdf) that I’m still very proud of. And now I’m even prouder as my work was cited in Against the Odds (page 27 for those of you who want to have a look).

Also as a thank you for my work on the sheet the Minister of Maori Affairs, Hon Parekura Horomia, (who wrote the foreword to the book) had me join his group that held a dinner for the New Zealand Maori team a few days out from their game against the Lions. I spent the night talking with Matt and his staff long after the players had left. I wrote about it here.

Against the Odds is available through all good booksellers.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Season of the Bloke

We have just finished Movember in a flurry of parties and manishness but what about next year?
Lemmy: unofficial deity of The Season of the Bloke
An email conversation amongst my friends has come up with this: The Season of the Bloke* . The season is, somewhat ironically, Spring.

We already have Movember which follows Rocktober. But what could cover the month of September, known for it's bouncing lambs and daffodils? How about Bicep-tember?!?!!!

At the beginning of Biceptember you start to work out the "guns" and hopefully come the 30th you'll look like Popeye (Update: on actually looking at Popeye he doesn't have any biceps at all!). You then have a month of relaxing with a beer and listening to your choice of rock music in Rocktober, all the while contemplating your facial hair for Movember.
Popeye: No Biceps
That is not to say that it is scrictly for men. Women are more than welcome to join in Biceptember and Rocktober, we'll draw the line at Movember though if you don't mind.

*(Copyright: Che Tibby 2006)

Season of the Bloke

Thursday, November 23, 2006

To Be Blunt

This story on Stuff this morning made me laugh.

An attempt to set a world record by smoking the world's largest joint (or marijuana cigarette for you squares out there) was stopped after the organisers discovered that it would be illegal. Those crazy dope fiends.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Test shirt
Jeez, Martha just linked to me so I had better put up some pics.

I'll be at Craftwerk on Thursday evening (Southern Cross Tavern, top of Cuba St, Wellington) selling my screenprinted t-shirts.

Martha will be there too, as will many other people. Should be a blast!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Prizes for Nothing!

Nominations for the First Annual Wellingtonista Awards for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence* have been announced. You have ten days to vote for the best of our lovely harbour capital.

Who do you think should win “I spent all my rent money on dinner here, but at least when the bailiffs beat me to death I will die blissfully” category?

What about the “If this building was a person, I would be making sweet luuurve to it right now” category?

What about “The single best thing I've had in my mouth all year”?

And did I mention the prizes for entering? Well? Get to it!

* yes you have heard that name before.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

More on the Gridiron

Randy Moss was traded to Oakland after grumbling through his last season in Minnesota. I imagine Oakland wasn’t his first pick given their lousy QB Kerry Collins. In order to utilise Randy’s huge potential the Raiders passed on franchise QB Matt Leinart in the 2006 draft and instead signed New Orleans’ useless cast-off Aaron Brooks, who sucked. They then replaced Brooks with Andrew Walter, who also sucks.
Randy makes a catch
So now Randy is grumbling again, but this time it’s quieter, more depressed. Randy wants to run; he wants to catch the ball and streak to the endzone. He doesn’t to keep seeing the ball fly well over his head or hit the ground five metres in front of him or to see he is QB lying on the ground still holding the ball. So what can he do?

He could follow Jerry Porter’s lead and hold-out on his contract. But that would do no good for his player value and could have him traded someplace worse (though I’m not sure where that would be at the moment).

I think that Randy needs to buy himself out of his contract like LaVar Arrington did. Arrington had some years left on his contract with the Washington Redskins, but instead of playing them he simply paid out the team and left. Most NFL players don’t do this as it costs them money and is risky but if you are a top level player like Arrington or Moss it is relatively safer.

Moss just needs to pay the Raiders out for whatever is left on his contract (unless he stupidly signed a 7-year extension) and then declare himself a free agent. Some teams that would take him in a heartbeat (and that Randy would/should consider going to):

  • New England
  • Tennessee
  • Jacksonville
  • Minnesota (seriously)
  • San Francisco (again, seriously)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

So Exciting!

MeThe short film I co-wrote is picking up momentum. Admittedly it’s not Sundance material but Night of the Hell Hamsters is making waves in “the industry” or at least the horror and short film circuits.

And now it has a page on the IMDB. But slightly cooler is the fact that I (and Mike) now have a page on the IMDB!!! This can only mean huge studio deals are gonna start pouring into my inbox any minute. I’m going to go wait for them.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Those of you who have read my comments on here and Tom’s blog will know that I am a big fan of Tiki culture.

Hence I now want this truck. Not too practical for Wellington, but who cares!?! It’s a freakin’ Tiki Truck!


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Stade de Farce

So our options for a venue for the 2011 Rugby World Cup final seem to be

  • Eden Park
  • Bledisloe Wharf
  • [undisclosed] other waterfront location.

If it’s either of the last two we’ll get something called Stadium Aotearoa. Wooooo

What a terrible name by the way. Stadiums shouldn’t be named anything like that because then it’s harder to sell naming rights later (remember the Basin Reserve’s problems) and naming rights help pay for the thing. I believe that for New Zealand’s premiere rugby venue you could expect $5M over three years for naming rights, at least.

Bledisloe Wharf

Auckland Mayor Dick Hubbard got a little too excited over the Bledisloe Wharf idea, claiming that ground work could start on “the next Tuesday” if the Government O.K.ed it. Ports of Auckland pulled him back saying that no such thing could happen while they were still around. See Bledisloe Wharf is a large section of the Ports of Auckland, the same ports through which a THIRD of NZ exports and imports move through, the same Ports of Auckland that contribute huge amounts of money into our economy, the same Ports of Auckland that are the reason that the Auckland motorway system is so important.

Moreover, there is a Treaty Claim on the land by Ngati Whatua o Orakei that has to be taken into consideration. This might not be a deal breaker but it’s pretty bad that that Ngati Whatua weren’t consulted earlier.

And finally we’ve been lied to slightly. We’ve all seen the pics of the “the Bedpan” (left).

That stadium is the Allianz Arena in Munich. The Arena is a large football (soccer) stadium that featured prominently in the recent Football World Cup and is the home field for Munich’s two local teams.

Using the magic of Google Maps I laid the Allianz Arena onto the Bledisloe Wharf but no matter how I tried, I wouldn’t actually fit. It kept spilling out the side.

Then I see on Campbell Live that the idea also calls for the extension of the wharf meaning we get this:

It looks like the Bledisloe idea is dead and it's a good thing.

Eden Park

If another stadium is built in Auckland, Eden Park is dead. Just like Athletic Park in Wellington. Eden Park has giant amounts of rugby history behind it. There’s even a French clothing brand called Eden Park based on a rugby game (played with pink bow ties I believe).

The redesign looks good but doesn’t address the biggest issues about the park. The number one problem being that it is located right in the middle of a very rich suburb. The other problem is that it isn’t a stadium; it’s a collection of stands.

Also if we are doing up Eden Park we can’t hold events there. Or if we do the upgrade in parts we’ll never be able to reach capacity and so will be making less money from the park on the years leading into 2011.

I would leave Eden Park even though at the moment it is the “best” option on the table.

Other waterfront location

Where? Where are you going to put a stadium on Auckland’s Waterfront? Have a look.

Now where are you going to put a 60,000+ seat stadium? 60,000 seats mean 60,000 people. And lets be honest most of them will drive. I did a post about stadiums a while back. In that I briefly discussed the parking issue. At the time New York was bidding for the Olympics and had proposed a wonderful waterfront stadium. One that was much cooler than most stadiums I’ve seen recently (self-sustained power and water purification). But it got killed because it was going to disrupt the city too much. And that stadium had a train station IN IT!

Traffic along Auckland’s waterfront gets backed up if it’s a sunny day. Dominion Road after (and before) a Rugby game is horrible! And let’s not forget Auckland has a large part of its population on the other side of the harbour. Can they catch the train to the waterfront? Let’s go back to Munich’s Allianz Arena. Seen in it's natural state (below).

Notice that it’s on two major highways and what looks like a rail system as well. There is nothing like that on the Auckland waterfront. Nothing at all. In fact by putting the thing on the waterfront you are blocking three directions for people leave the stadium. (Westpac Stadium in Wellington is similar but not the same). A ferry service could work but probably wouldn’t be too practical.

So can we please, please, stop talking about the Auckland waterfront as an option? It just plain isn’t. It should be in Auckland though. And whatever happens, the new stadium needs to be called Eden Park (which the Eden Park trust can pay for).

So what about all of the other games? I assume that wherever the new stadium goes that’s where the All Blacks will be based for the tournament. But what about the other big teams that will have large numbers of followers? England, Australia, South Africa? Where are they going to play?

Our current list of stadiums is (North to South):

  • Somewhere in Auckland
  • North Harbour “Stadium” (One stand doesn’t make it a stadium)
  • Rugby Park (Hamilton)
  • Westpac Trust Stadium (Wellington)
  • Jade Stadium (Christchurch)
  • Carisbrook (Dunedin, also undergoing possible redevelopment)

Smaller venues include

  • Tauranga
  • Rotorua
  • New Plymouth
  • Napier
  • Invercargill

Shouldn’t we be trying to milk this cash cow? Why aren’t we upgrading ALL of our stadiums to pack in those Poms, Ockers, and Yarpies and fleece them for every penny? And why aren’t the smaller venues saying things like “we can host Japan versus Tonga”?

By the way, I would love to watch Japan versus Tonga.

Stadium Arcadium

I'm going to do a biggish post on the Rugby World Cup stadium debate very soon (probably today). I'm waiting on all of the proposals to be put forward.

so stay tuned...

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Rocktober is over, bring on Movember!

Tena Koutou,

Today is the first of Movember and as such it is the first day of life for my new moustache. I'll be growin the 'tache for the entire month (the month formerly known as November). But why am I telling you about it? Prostate cancer and money.

What a mo!Basically there is a formal sponsoring system through the (completely above board) Movember website. By sponsoring my 'tache you not only make a statement about men's fashion but also about health. and to make it sweeter all donations over $5 are tax deductible!!!

How do you do it?

  • Go here, enter my Rego number which is 22427 (if it hasn't already)and your credit card details. (Again the site is completely above board)

The money raised by Movember will be used to create awareness and fund support networks for those that suffer from prostate cancer.

You can also track my mo's progress (and the progress of my 'tache teammates) on my blog dropkicks.blogspot.com (eventually, I'll put photos up very soon).


ps. This post is basically me asking for your hard-earned money, and I do feel stink for doing it, but it is for a good cause.

pps. below are some bad stats about men's health.

Male health is a major issue, did you know:

  • Men are far less healthy than women. The average life expectancy of males is 6 years less than females.
  • Every year in New Zealand about 600 men die of prostate cancer – about the same as the number of women who die from breast cancer.

More info is available at www.movember.com.au

Movember is run in partnership with the Prostate Cancer Foundation of New Zealand.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

By Grabthar's Hammer...They Will be Avenged

You may be thinking to yourself: “aren’t we, like, EIGHT weeks into the American Football season? Why hasn’t Hadyn done even one post about it? I mean, that’s why he started this blog in the first place.”

Well you’d be right. I haven’t been posting about the NFL for a reason. The reason is that the New York Jets, my team since 1995, has been doing quite well (for the first second time since 1995). I thought if I wrote about it I might jinx it.

But then this Sunday the Jets lost to the Cleveland Browns (who are a bad team) in the dying seconds due to a bad officiating call. A REALLY bad call.

The Jets trailed 20-3 in the third. They came back to be down by 20-13. Last play for the Jets is a long pass on forth down to Chris Baker (who is having a great year) down the right side of the field. He catches the ball with one hand in the air and is sailing into the endzone. The defender Brodney Pool (where do they get those names?) hits Baker in his side, while he’s in the air, knocking him sideways and out of bounds. The pass is ruled incomplete.

As the ruling was a "judgement call" it is non-reviewable. Replays clearly show Baker had control of the ball (as you can see here) and was travelling into the endzone. All of Baker’s momentum before the hit was towards the endzone and parallel to the touchline. After the hit he flew out of bounds.

This is a touchdown according to the rules: If a receiver would have landed inbounds with both feet but is carried or pushed out of bounds while maintaining possession of the ball, pass is complete at the out-of-bounds spot. In this case the out-of-bounds spot is the endzone and so, a touchdown.

I know bad calls happen in sport and I know I’m just being bitter, but dammit, I’m bitter! I also know that the Jets never should have let themselves get into that position.

Had the Jets won they would now be 5-3, instead they are 4-4. The Jets have got a bye-week now and it’s never good to go into your bye-week having just lost. Especially to Cleveland.

Friday, October 27, 2006


From Stuff this morning: Plenty of New Faces in Hurricanes
Why didn't they just call it: Wellington Region to Kick BOP in the Nuts.

See I understand that players changing unions/franchises is all part of professional sport. But when the unions/franchises have unequal ability to retain players then there will always be disadvantage. If we're not careful New Zealand Rugby will become like the English Premiership where most teams are happy to come fifth or to not be relegated.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Hello St Louis!

Movember is coming! But for the moment it’s still Rocktober!

Rocktober has long been associated with long-haired effeminate glam stadium rock bands such as Poison or hard rock tough guy acts like Metallica. Rocktober never seems to be about good music, it always seems to defer to a “radio rock” playlist. I refer here to bands like Powderfinger or The Feelers.

Bands like these are The Eagles of our time*: liked now, an embarrassment later.

So, this Rocktober I have been focussing on simpler, back-to-basics rock and roll. I began my journey by praying at the temple of Japanese Rock gods. At the head of the Pantheon are two great bands: Guitar Wolf and The 5, 6, 7, 8s. I’m quite a fan (albeit a late one) of the 5 6 7 8s, who had the incredible rock and roll ability to record songs like I was a Teenaged Cave Woman, Teenage Mojo Workout and Bomb the Twist.

I have then soaked in some nice alternative rock. My favourite is Sleater Kinney. I have just thrown all of their albums onto my iTunes and have a wonderful four or so hour long playlist of “grrl” rock (I’ve never liked that term). Then I resurrected some REM.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking Everybody Hurts, Losing My Religion or possibly even Stand, well you’d be wrong Mr Smarty-pants. I’ve been listening to New Adventures in Hi-Fi, REM’s forgotten album. It was a transition from the harder rock of Monster (What’s the Frequency Kenneth?) and UP (Lotus) and contains some nice songs that verge on country with twangy chords.

I then cleansed my palette with some Weird Al (have you heard White and Nerdy? Woot!!1!).

And then…well to be honest that’s as far as I got. There will be more Rock to come though (as much as I can fit into 5 days). Maybe some kiwi stuff…Elemeno P? Maybe not…

*In regard to The Eagles, I stand with Jeff Lebowski

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Rua Stories

Two stories caught my eye in this morning’s sports news.

Crusaders report $1.15 million surplus
Crusaders pick up Tipoki

I think it’s funny how the [Canterbury] Crusaders have called the $1.15 million a “surplus” and not a “profit”, which is what it really is.

The figure, which was up $260,000 on last year’s surplus of $890,000, reflected the strong support the Crusaders received from commercial partners and fans during the team's run to the inaugural Super 14 title.

"It's a very pleasing result and reflects the strong backing the team has had from throughout the franchise region," Crusaders chief executive Hamish Riach said.

I imagine he said that through clenched teeth. Because then he had to say this:

…all of the surplus would be distributed back to the Crusaders catchment area – the rugby unions of Buller, West Coast, Tasman, Mid-Canterbury, South Canterbury and Canterbury.

Any guesses as to who is going to get the largest share of the money? Why not spread it out evenly? This is profit remember, all of the Jade Stadium upkeep costs etc have already been paid for. So give each union $190,000 and let them use it to develop their players and coaches (who are just as much important).

So let us assume that, for some reason, the large and very rich Canterbury union will get the largest amount of profit share. What are they going to do with this new wealth?

Bad boy Rua Tipoki has been recruited to stiffen up the Crusaders' midfield.

Despite the slightly homo-erotic wording above*, I believe this is a good move for both the Crusaders and Tipkoi. Next year all of the All Blacks will be rested from the first few weeks of the Super 14 meaning some teams will be gasping for depth at certain positions. One of these is Canterbury.

*Dom chimed in with this: “they want Tipoki to put a firm grip on what was a bit of a soft spot for the crusaders this year.”

Aaron Mauger will be rested, as we’ll assume he is still an All Black at this stage, and Cameron McIntyre has buggered off overseas (because he is an idiot, or his manager is, more on this in a minute).

Tipoki is now figuring out what to do with his family who have just settled into Auckland after he moved up from the Bay of Plenty (worst move of his life, in my one-eyed opinion). You see in these days of “professional” rugby if you play Super 14 for the Crusaders you CANNOT (for some reason) play your provincial rugby for North Harbour. Seriously, how does that work?

Apparently playing for the Crusaders means he HAS to play for Canterbury’s ANZC team. I assume this rule is so that Super 14 teams can only have players from their catchment (other than draft players) signed. So Canterbury would have to “loan” Tipoki to Harbour for the season.

On a side note, I hate the loaning system. You bought the player you keep him. If that means you bench a bunch of decent talent because you overspent, too bloody bad. Trade them or sell them but don’t just loan them out to see if their good enough to play for you next year. Note: as far as I am aware there is no such thing as trading players in New Zealand rugby.

Now this is an incredibly smart move from Tipoki (though he may not be aware of it, not being known for his smarts). As I said before, Super 14 teams with All Blacks (and no depth) will be frantically searching for even moderately talented players. Tipoki is one of these: a talented midfielder who got as close as the NZ Maori but couldn’t compete with the VERY talented midfielders we’ve currently got in the All Blacks. However, with the All Blacks out of the picture, Tipoki set himself up with a sweet contract in easily the best team to ever compete in the Super 12/14 (I’ll leave that debate for another time).

And this is why Cameron McIntyre is a Grade A moron.

McIntyre, with all the foresight of Mr Magoo, has signed to play with French club Castres in a year when the Crusaders would pay through the nose for him to showcase his talents. Even a one year contract should’ve been incentive enough. France will always be there with its rich clubs. Even if he had a Super 14 of Tasesa Lavea-proportions he could still get money from France or even Japan.

But most importantly he would be playing in New Zealand, the LAND of rugby (if you ignore Wales, and you should). People come FROM Europe to play in New Zealand. Cameron either you’re an idiot or you need to fire your manager.

So who does Auckland have that would be better Rua Tipoki? Well: Sam Tuitupou, Luke McAlister, Isaia Toeava, Ben Atiga and Anthony Tuitavake. And I imagine one or even a couple of those guys will go into the draft

In other transfer news: Bay of Plenty's James Afoa and and Bernie Upton have transferred to North Harbour and Wellington respectively. Sigh. And so it goes on. Maybe if we worked on the NFL model and all the teams were given equal amounts of money to pay players (and kept the Super 14 as a separate anomaly) we might be able to have a fair, balanced comp…aahhh, never mind.

Of course some people are happy:

Rugby's new format a win for everyone

Who is Matthew Cooper? Former All Black Matthew Cooper is the CEO of Sport Waikato. You’ll never guess who is in the finals.

He writes (and I have cut some paragraphs where he waffles):

We've almost made it to the end of the inaugural Air New Zealand Cup, but not
without our fair share of comment and criticism, questioning the effectiveness of the new format, the perceived lack of crowd numbers at games, and the lower level of skill now in the first division.

It's an easy option to criticise, and commentators do have a right to go down this track and provide opinion. But surely criticisms should also be balanced with some form of factual information?

It's been fascinating hearing commentators and fans alike focusing more on the negative elements of what's wrong with the Air New Zealand Cup, rather than on any positive aspects that have come from the change.

Rugby does have issues with the marketing of the game.

Well I agree with that last bit. He continues...

The Tri-Nations rugby league clash [Saturday] night at Mt Smart Stadium between the Kiwis and the Kangaroos is a classic example of how things have changed. They've changed because consumers need a break from the smorgasbord of live action 52 weeks of the year.

Manawatu, one of the promoted unions in the Air New Zealand Cup who've been out of the top flight since 1988, were written off from the beginning and used unfairly as a "scapegoat" for this so called ineffective competition.

It is a team that have attracted an average of more than 9000 people a game, well above their pre-season forecast. A team where young, inexperienced players have mixed it with "big boys" and who potentially will become experienced players sooner rather than later. A team that have played well and where a couple of individuals may make a Super14 team in 2007. And most excitingly, a region where for the first time in 18 years, aspiring young Manawatu fans have had the chance to see their All Black heroes play against their team on their home ground.

I would imagine commentators and fans in Manawatu would have a much more optimistic outlook on the new competition. The glass is definitely half-full there.

His imagination would be part of the "factual information" he spoke about before.

The provincial competition has changed and change takes time. Yes, there have been some significant beatings, but those teams new to the first division have lifted their standards and will definitely make a considerable contribution to the country's future player depth. They need to recruit well over summer and learn from this year.

Maybe he’s right I mean the NZRU announced that Canterbury loose forward George Naoupu is going to Hawke’s Bay. That’s right, George Naoupo! Wow, Hawke’s Bay must be over the moon. No offence George.

With the exposure of these teams to better rugby players, the standard and health of NZ rugby will continue to be the envy of the rugby world.

So back to our own men in the famous red, yellow and black jersey. … If they win…in next week's grand final, this Waikato side will emulate the class of 1992 where they too won an inaugural national competition. Who said this competition was boring?

People from every province except Wellington and Waikato.

The best thing for me is that this is the first time in rugby history both finalists in the “first division” begin with a W! AND to make it even bigger the finalists in the “second division” are Wanganui and Wairarapa Bush!

Finally, the new Eden Park stadium looks nice. It’s still in the stupidest place for a major sporting venue though.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Intellectual Discussions

The question was asked:

How much money would you have to drop into a urinal before you'd reach in to
retrieve it?
and the answers came.

Some were short
$5, but only in note form. Though if I dropped $10 in 2 dollar coins it would be a decision based on the circumstances (i.e. can I wash my hands.)

Hmmm, depends on the condition of the urinal. A nice clean one, maybe $20, although I'd take it straight to the basin and wash with water and soap straight away. A dirty one would take a lot, maybe $200.
Others were considered

It’s a strange triangulation between humiliation, hygiene, and

  • Hygiene. Is the urinal new and ‘clean’ looking? Or is it one of those ancient metal troughs? If I’ve got to rescue my $$ out of a pile of those blue cube thingies that people push around with their streams, no frickin way. Is there ‘pooled’ urine that isn’t mine? No way. Unless I can flick the $$ out with a match, land it on a piece of paper, rinse it, and then somehow get it to the bar without having to touch it. The bar keep can worry about it from there.
  • Humiliation. If I’m pissed enough to drop my cash, but not pissed enough not to care, then getting to the latter is the more important variable.
  • Thriftiness. Taking into account all the former, if I don’t fish that moola out, someone else will.
All agreed though that the amount rose exponentially with the amount of actual urine in said receptical. And you thought you wouldn’t learn anything here!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Dear NZRU,

Do you have rules or not? Can we have international players in our Super 14 teams or not? Are you just changing the rules as you see fit? Because this current haphazard approach is no way run a national organisation. Idiots.

(What do you reckon readers, too harsh for a job application letter?)

Shuffling The Deck

Who knew that the shuffle function on your iPod (or in iTunes) was so controversial? All over the internet there are conspiracy theories and accusations about the shuffling algorithm used by the Apple iSoftware.

For those of you without a strong background in maths or computer science: there is no way to generate a truly “random” number. But you can write algorithms which are close enough. But if you were unscrupulous you could put a bit of code into your algorithm that favoured some numbers over others. Or some songs.

This is what people are claiming Apple is doing with its shuffle algorithm. I don’t really buy it.

The reasoning goes that you hear a lot of some songs but not a lot of other songs. I believe this has to do with short-term thinking. I realised that I was hearing the same songs a lot but figured it would change when I added more and more songs to my iPod. What happened was the same songs kept coming up. Then over time different songs started popping up. Then these new songs were repeated.

For example a month ago I was getting a lot of The Roots and Gomez when I shuffled, now I’m getting a lot of Sleater Kinney and Minuit (and Michael Jackson). Another example is that this week I have to skip a lot of songs by Savage because they are popping up for the first time ever (and I’m skipping them because they’re not very good and I’m too lazy to delete them).

This leads me to believe (because I can’t find the actual algorithm itself) that the algorithm has the date plugged in there somewhere and it has a range of songs that have a higher chance of selection on particular dates.

Brilliant diagramImagine a bell curve with a normal distribution (see pic). The height of the graph represents likelihood of being played. In the areas are songs. So at the moment some Sleater Kinney, Minuit and Michael Jackson songs are in the middle (more likely to be played), on the outside of that are Fiona Apple, Kings of Leon and Princess Superstar songs (less likely to be played) and finally on the outskirts are The Black Seeds, Alicia Keys, and Wolfmother songs (unlikely to be played).

As the date changes the tracks move into different categories according to some undefined variables; hence why I’m suddenly getting Roots Manuva instead of Ben Harper.

Just for kicks though, here is the first ten songs I get shuffled up.

  1. For Whatever Remix – Supergroove
  2. Firecracker – Ryan Adams
  3. Kiss Me on My Neck – Erykah Badu
  4. Fruit Bubble Love – the
  5. Circus Envy – REM
  6. All Mine (live) – Portishead
  7. Trani – Kings of Leon
  8. Everybody Needs Somebody – The Blues Brothers
  9. Whip the Blankets – Neko Case
  10. God is a Number – Sleater Kinney

Wow, notice nothing there from the list of what I thought was common other than the final track from Sleater Kinney. Random.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

"What's that written on your thong?"

I’ve got some self-pimping to do today.

The sweeping epic of a short film known as Night of the Hell Hamsters has premiered and is now on tour at various festivals. As you know.
Night of the Hell Hamsters
However, now the official site has been officially redone and is looking pretty hot, if I do say so myself. Go check it out.

Of course you just don’t want to see the film, you want to fully experience the whole Night of the Hell Hamsters…um…experience. Well now you can! Be the first person on your street to wear official Night of the Hell Hamsters clothing! (And if you aren’t the first better get buy some quick so you’ll fit in with everyone else).

You are going to look hot, drinking coffee from your official NotHH coffee mug, in your official NotHH hat, t-shirt and thong. Just remember that the NZ dollar is doing quite well against the US so this is a steal!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Lateral Fever

Thanks to YouTube here is the final play of the Jets - Colts game from the weekend. Oooweeee shes a hum-dinger!

The (continuing) War Against Stupidity

Thank goodness for experts!

Expert 1
Expert 2
Otherwise politicians might be able to say whatever they wanted.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Been a pimp so long I knew Ghandi when he had an afro

Wooo, it's been a while since I brought the pimp game*.

First I'll pimp myself: The Dropkicks are back podcasting. We've got new people, a slightly new format and a brand new editor/producer. It is seriously wicked. The podcast will be up at the end of the week.

I also need to pimp the fact that the movie I penned with Mike has been released to an unsuspecting public. Night of the Hell Hamsters will be showing at a Horror Film Festival near you, soon (offical website to be upgraded soon, if not by now). The NZ premiere was held behind closed doors to a select few at Peter Jackson's Park Road Post. Seriously flash.

Jessica, who starred in our brilliant 48hour film and was one of the chosen few last night, has entered a competition on Jump Cut. She made a film and now needs people to see it and vote. (Just so you know, voting requires a free non-spam registration). Needless to say that she is super-talented and when she's famous you can say "I helped her get where she is today".

Here's the film. Here's the pitch: Carmen's menial afternoon is interrupted by some freeloader trying to impress his girlfriend. Carmen isn't having any of it and takes the argument to her brother Sal in her mother tongue.

*Note: this is a sad attempt at being "street". Do the kids still say "street"?

Play 'em at the same time!

If you weren’t sure that I was correct in asserting that New Zealand rugby is in the hands of idiots, then this surely will make you believe.

The Wellington Hurricanes have a Super 14 home game against the Auckland Blues on February 16. This also happens to be at the same time as the New Zealand day/night one-day cricket international against Australia. Well that’s no problem; fans can just choose which sport they like more, right? Cricket or Rugby, you decide

Well, both games are scheduled to be played at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium.


How about Wellington play Auckland the next night? This is what Wellington wants to do, except this leaves Sky TV without Friday night rugby. All the other Super 14 games are held in South Africa or Australia that weekend, so no changing another team’s schedule either.

Of course all the Hurricanes have to do is play in Palmerston North or New Plymouth. I am actually against travelling home teams (teams with more than one home stadium). Teams need a solid base for home game advantage to really be effective. But in this case, someone screwed up and it seems only fair that the Hurricanes drive a few hours up the road and play in Palmy or the Naki.

Personally, cricket bores the hell out of me but they do not have an alternate venue, the Hurricanes do. Also it is an international cricket match against a bubble-gum rugby match (albeit a possibly interesting one).

How hard is it to sort out a 14 team competition? Why do New Zealanders NEED a Friday night game? The Aussies don’t seem to mind watching the cricket, though probably because they are more likely to win.

Again I have to say, why do New Zealand (and SANZAR) rugby bosses believe that quantity equals quality? A few (11) years ago there would not had been a clash between rugby and cricket, because they had different seasons. Now rugby starts in February and goes until November (which means I got my per-day calculation wrong in my previous post).

The business plan for changing the Super 12 into the Super 14 seemed to consist of one line: More of the same. The plan for the Air New Zealand Cup seemed to be interesting: salary cap; expansion teams; separate pools. Then it all fell into farce when the regular season was announced: More of the same; wait until Round 2 for good rugby. The only good thing so far has been a change in Ranfurly Shield ownership and the fact the Northland has been able to win some games.

Perhaps they needed to look at increasing the QUALITY of the competition (both Super 14 and Air NZ Cup) rather than just giving us more games. More games of course mean more money, but surely that wasn’t a factor in the decision? In fact it can’t have been because with the current format fewer and fewer people are attending games.

The current administration (and this includes large amounts of pressure from Sky TV) want to overrule Graham Henry’s plan to keep a selection of All Blacks out of the 2007 Super 14. Just to increase gate sales and TV audiences.

We are currently in a greater crisis regarding rugby than losing the 1996, 1999, and 2003 world cups.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

In My Prime

Isn’t fun discovering things? Learning new stuff about your world? Like this morning I discovered that I am in the top ten Google hits for dozen primes in the Gaussian integers. Wow.

Bet you guys didn't realise that this blog was such a vital part of the scientific community.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

This is a Sports Blog

[For those of you waiting for photos, I apologise. If the photo upload tool for Blogger crashes for one more time I’m gonna…well, probably just swear under my breath. But photos are coming!]

I tried to keep abreast of local sport while I was away in foreign lands and I have to say: What the hell have you done with rugby?!?!

Dom answered: Ignoring it. It’s boring. [I am] totally over the silly ANZ Cup pools and repechage rubbish. There have been two good games out of about 40. Auckland v Waikato (the draw), and Wellington vs Canterbury (the last ten minutes, 6 of which were minutes in extra time, Boomzing!). And its not just that the All Blacks haven’t been playing, its just that we have been fed a steady diet of weekly rugby since mid Feb[rurary]. I need time to recharge the rugby batteries. And we still have the ANZ Cup play-offs and final then the Southern hemisphere Teams tour to the Frozen tundra of the Northern Hemi[sphere].

You know, here is something I never thought I’d say on this blog: New Zealand is terrible at rugby.

Wow, that was tough. But it is naturally not the players nor national squad about which I speak. I’m talking about the organisation of the sport and how it is run here in New Zealand.

Fans turned away in droves from the NPC finals last season. The semi between Canterbury and Otago was barely watched. The final between Auckland and Otago was watched by only slightly more. What was the reason?

By this stage of the season there had been 69 Super 12 games and 47 NPC games (not including preseason matches). On top of this was an international season of six tri-nations matches and a test against Fiji. Then there was a certain Lions tour, 11 matches in the space of a month.

So you can forgive a public that might be a little tired of rugby come the final of the NPC. Oh, and after all of this the All Blacks still had their Grand Slam tour (4 games and a night of boozing in London).

But 2005 was an anomaly. Surely the next year it’ll settle down. Nope.

By the time the final whistle of the Air New Zealand Cup blows, there will have been: 91 Super 14 matches; 70 Air New Zealand Cup matches; 9 Tri-Nations matches; and 3 Internationals. And then there is another 4 internationals.

So in 2005 we had 138 matches. In 2006 we have 177. That’s an increase of 28%! And there was a Lions Tour and a Grand Slam last year for goodness sake! Over six months 177 games is almost one game every day (0.96 games per day). How many people think that the NZRU is going to see a 28% increase in profits? And there definitely isn’t a 28% increase in interest.

Games like Canterbury v Hawkes Bay and Auckland v Manuwatu. On the FIRST WEEKEND of a new competition? Who organised that crap? 45-0, 41-10. That is NOT interesting rugby. Why not start the expansion teams against each other or against lower

So what will people watch? Apparently people will watch rugby on a Thursday night. (Actually, no they won’t).

Thursday night rugby is a freaking terrible idea. Now, not only do we have 177 rugby games a year we also have it 4 days a week! Teams are now running ragged trying to prepare for a Thursday game. Of course unions would have agreed to this at the start of the season with the NZRU, and so wouldn’t mind. Well actually, no. The unions were against it, as were the players. Former All Black captain and all-round good guy Tana Umaga said publicly that he didn’t like it. Punters don’t like the format either. Having to be enticed to attend games with free Sky rugby channel packages.

So where did this idea come from? Where else, but the place that brought you the utterly ridiculous Super 14: SKY Television. Or rather News International. We have let a media organisation tell us when and how we are going to play our games. Remember that they also account for those 91 Super 14 matches. Those awful awful awful Super 14 matches. You might remember a little team called the Force?

I have to end this rant now, but first let me point out that the NFL tells media agencies what they can do with the games and when the games are going to be played, not the other way around. The NZRU needs to take the game back!

More soon. Mahalo.

Friday, September 22, 2006


The last post is supposed to be choka with photos but blogger wont load the buggers.
I'm working on it.


She’s flying over Wellington harbour,
Oriental Bay is standing there in the sunlight,
And they're playing a tape for the landing,
Speed bonny boat, like a bird on the wing,
Onward the sailors cry,
No, She didn’t want to stay there,
She's on her flight,
She'll be standing on the same ground as we are,
Tomorrow night

Tomorrow night (Harry Sinclair/Don McGlashan)

Well those lyrics aren't quite correct. For starters I’m not a girl, we approached from the south (i.e. not over Oriental Bay), and the song was Green Onions (though not the Booker T and the MGs version). Apart from that I like this song (Tomorrow Night by the Front Lawn) for homecomings.

It reminds me about New Zealand in a strange way. Like the last time we came back from Europe we marvelled at just how good pineapple Frujus are (very, very good). This time the revelation came at Christchurch airport (where the flight from Tokyo lands). I went to the café near my gate and walked up to the register and had they following conversation:

Girl: Hi there. What would you like?
Me: Could I have a long black and a steak and cheese pie please?
Girl: Sure.
She understood me, it was amazing. The phrase “long black and a steak and cheese pie” means almost nothing overseas, but here in Godzone, by crickey, it holds real weight*. But this is not the event that told me I was home. No, it was the second part of the conversation:
Serving Guy: You want sauce with your pie bro?
Me: Cheers ears
Serving Guy: Good on ya

Damn near brought a tear to my eye that conversation. To me it said “Welcome home Hadyn”. The whole thing would’ve been perfect if the pie and coffee hadn’t been shit.

But enough with the green, green grass of home; let’s talk about foreign lands and peoples.

Like an Oscar speech I need to start with the “thank you”s. Aoife, Steve, Jessamy, Dave and Katie, all of whom were hospitable and helpful beyond compare. Be it for mooching accommodation, taking us to cool bars or just speaking French when we couldn’t, thanks.

* it means “this weirdo drinks coffee with his pies”.

Bar Stories:
On the advice of Mike, we went to the John Snow in Soho. The only pub in the world named after a mathematician, apparently (I think he might actually be some kind of biological-statistician). Either way it’s a good story. Dr Snow mapped the outbreak of cholera in London and realised that it clustered around one particular well pump. He got the pump shut down and the cholera stopped (in the simplified version). It proved that cholera was a waterborne pathogen and opened up a whole new branch of biological science. Wicked. The pub sits on the site of the original pump (so don’t order a water) and a replica pump was placed down the road a bit. Note: the street was originally Broad St, but the name had “wick” added to it to distinguish from the many other Broad Streets in London.

I wrote about our best bar experience in Paris at Bob Cool. What I didn’t mention is that we went out drinking every night in Paris. We actually had a local bar called Petit Soleil. It can be seen behind the metro station in the photo to the right. On our first night we cautiously entered, apologised to the staff for our lack of French (Pardon, je ne pal pas francais) and ordered the easiest thing: Deux Bieres. In France beer comes in two sizes: large and small. We went for large, twice, and then a small one each. A large beer is 750ml, a small is 250ml. And French beer is like Belgian beer, very very nice and very very potent.

As we staggered home we passed a building with the following sign: Centre Opthomologique. I have to say that when you are drunk, the word Opthomologique is the longest word in the world and almost impossible to say. It may also cause you to laugh uncontrollably.

In Japan we didn’t do much in the way of bar-hopping as alcohol is stupidly expensive (NZD$10 for a regular beer) but we did Karaoke. The place was called Big Echo and was in the fashionable Shibuya district. Big Echo is actually a chain store and we found dozens during the next few days. They are multi-storey buildings with dozens of rooms some with windows that look onto the street (the karaoke scene in Lost in Translation was filmed in a place like this). You get your own little room with a couple of wireless mikes and a BIG book of tunes. The trick with karaoke is to be very drunk and so we ordered some $10 dollar beers and got to it. There are photos of what occurred but these are under heavy embargo until, well, forever. In a place like Big Echo it’s hard not to think that the staff have got cameras in the room and are down at the front desk laughing hard at your best Elvis impersonation. Perhaps it’ll show up on YouTube one day.

One last bar story (I didn’t realise I had so many). We were taken by Jess and Dave to The Foundry on Old Street, it’s an arty bar filled with recycled furniture and, well, art. So we get there and are told that the bar has just, this second, closed. “Bloody hell”, I thought, “how uncivilised”. Anyhow, Dave said that we had to see the basement. Down there we discovered a huge spinning floor (lots of fun) and art. Lots and lots of art. Good stuff too. In the other room there was a photography exhibition about mining and a table. Around the table were a small group of people. One of them was a drunken Irishman arguing with a drunken Brit about the Israel Palestine conflict. Very arty.

Tales from the Crypt:
A kiwi we met in Paris said that travelling in Europe was a good place to learn your ABCs. Another Bloody Church/Cathedral/Crypt/Castle. This is the cynical way of saying that Europe (including England) has a boatload of history. Most of it involves blood, and lots of it.

We did a brilliant Jack the Ripper walk through the back streets of Old East London. Moving in and out of the Square Mile we traced the steps of the Ripper with a world expert on the subject who was consulted for the movie From Hell. The old city is so close, claustrophobic and still quite dark in the evening and the walk had a strange ambience about it, very creepy. At £6 each it was possibly the cheapest tourist thing we did and one of the best.

London’s streets seemed to have soaked up a lot of blood and this morbid feeling hangs around emerging in strange events. The Marble Arch was near our first hotel, they found a body under it the first day we were there. The papers are full of people, families, who are murdered by relatives. Advertising hoardings remind the citizens that “knives take lives”, you see Londoners like their stabbings.

It was the mysterious old blood soaked London that interested me. Pagan temples, Masonic rites, secrets, conspiracies, pirates. I went to the Masonic Temple which is near the British Museum. I don’t know what I was expecting but I definitely was NOT expecting a gift shop. Nor guided tours twice daily. Nor photos of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy after party, held in the grand hall. Nor for that matter an exhibit about how the Norwich Karate Club became the Norwich Karate Club and Masonic Lodge. ::Sigh:: Where’s the mystery?

I had dubbed London at one point “The City of the Dead”. We had just been to Westminster Abbey, which is very impressive. But it is also chock full of dead people. Then later we went to St Paul’s Cathedral, again full of dead people. The city of London is also full of the bronze faces of dead people; statues fill every green space and stand at nearly every corner. Plaques on buildings tell you where (famous) people died. The masonry of buildings is often the grotesque faces of demons or worse. Even the boat ride to Greenwich was full of stories of tortured pirates, dismembered corpses and men trapped inside sinking ships.

On the Ripper walk the city seemed to close around you as the guide described how the victims were “cut open from the vagina to the breastbone, her insides taken out and placed over her left shoulder” etc etc. Small talk about the Johnny Depp film stopped after the first description, and there were five victims.

Of the many monuments to the dead in London there were a few that weirded me out. These were the monuments to the British soldiers who died in New Zealand. This is during what we kiwis call The Māori Land Wars. So these were monuments to people who came and killed some of our ancesters. The American who we met in Bob Cool (above) was half Apache and completely understood everytime he saw monuments to those great frontiersmen and leaders like Custer. I don't think it's quite the same but weird nonetheless.

The City of Light (no the other City of Light):
Tokyo blazed at night with neon and LCDs and sometimes just the pure energy of the people. The city buzzed 24 hours a day, and I mean literally, there was no such thing as an empty street. Even after 10pm in Akihabara long after all the shops had shut and the tourists had left, there were still people out on a Monday night drinking or playing video games or pachinko or sitting in internet cafes or playing music on the street or watching music on the street. Tokyo never stops.

Beside one of the stations on Tokyo’s Yamanote line (it might be Ebisu Station, but I can’t remember right now) is an original station that was uncovered in renovations of the new one and restored as a museum. The old station dates back to the late 1800s - early 1900s. The guide book noted that what the Britons use everyday to get to work the Japanese consider an archaeological treasure.

We went to Akihabara for electronics, like veryone else, and so we played the crazy computer games. We quite liked the one where you play traditional Japanese drums to the beat on the screen. We kinda good near the end but not as good as some (like the dude who played both drums at the same time). The also had whole parlours full of those claw-pick-up games. I say with some pride that I was able to win Amy a cute little bear, as all men are required to do for their ladies. It would have been more impressive and masculine if the attendant didn’t have to help me by placing the bear just so and explaining where to place the claw.

Good Eatin’:
Londoners seem to survive on sandwiches. Which is actually quite nice and very British. I’ve never ordered sandwiches in a pub before, and I still haven’t, but I have been there when someone else has. When we thought about it, sandwiches appear frequently in Victorian literature. I know the Sherlock Holmes was always ordering cold meat sandwiches that he could stuff into his pockets.

We also tried a London “Gastro-Pub”. These are pubs with gourmet chefs who try different things with traditional pub meals. We decided on the Anchor and Hope. Amy had puffball (a type of mushroom) and I had lamb shanks. I find it so hard to go past lamb shanks and this came with a spicy tomato salsa and whole olives. But I feel regret that I didn’t go for the roast pigeon.

Tokyo was crammed full of tiny little eateries. They would seat about 10 or so people and came in two types: Skewers (yum) and noodle bars (also yum). Sushi bars were usually of the “sushi train” variety and always had a queue outside at lunch and dinner time, even if other places were open next door. As such we didn’t eat sushi. We did have a goodtime at one skewer place. We acquired a drinking buddy who kept filling our drinks. You see in Japan one cannot pour oneself a drink, it must be poured for you. Good times, even if we don’t all speak the same language.

Paris was easily the best place to eat though and for one good reason: Frites. Or to be more specific, frites applied to hot meat baguettes in order to create: GYROS. Gyros are food from heaven (though they usually come via Greece). It seemed a little bit of a copout that my favourite thing to eat in France was Greek food, but they were SO GOOD! To make a Gyro for yourself follow these steps:

1. Take a real baguette (crunchy outside and soft inside, not the crap ones from New World) and add tomato, lettuce, mayo, hot chicken/lamb/falafel and chilli sauce (if you like chilli sauce)
2. Lightly fry French fries (pommes frites) in olive oil
3. Add frites to baguette
4. Laugh at the sucker not eating a Gyro

They can also be made in pitas, a variant of which my friend got hooked on while travelling around Morocco.

Naturally this wasn’t the only thing I ate in gourmet Paris. On our last night I had rack of lamb with beans and sautéed potatoes and Amy had baby chicken with cheese sauce and salad. Both were excellent as was the wine.

Is it irony that the only country where you don’t tip had the best service? Both London and Paris has a quiet and subtle type of tipping. Japan, as far as we were aware didn’t. Hence in Tokyo the service was magnificent to the point of being ludicrous and in London and Paris the service was less than exemplary.

I would like to excuse Paris though. In Paris we had a surly waiter who swore under his breath, was rude and took ages to take our (and other people’s) order. I tipped him because goddamit that’s what I want in Paris! Surly waiting staff. In London (and you get this in New Zealand as well) you have people in coffee shops looking at you like you are scum. How dare you ask for help, now give me a tip! To be fair it wasn’t all like that and we actually got some good service (especially in the pubs).

Actually in one pub (perhaps this was another Bar Story) I was yarning to the barmen while I waited to order. One of them was pouring two pints when he turned around, grabbed the lime cordial and poured a dollop in each. “What’s with that?” I inquired. “Takes the bitterness off”, he replied, “Normally the ladies have it, though this time it’s two blokes”. He nodded towards two gents standing at the far end of the bar. I couldn't help but laugh, I didn't want to say that British beer is quite bitter.

Best Dressed:
I’m only going to consider people with taste because every nation and culture has those for whom taste does not exist (for example the Chavs of England). Actually London is a very fashionable town. Even outside Soho and other prettier areas, London has some very well dressed people. I was also most impressed by the suit shops of Old and New Bond St.

Europeans always dress very nicely, hence I felt like a bit of a touristy nob by walking around in a tshirt. One night however I fitted in perfectly. Amy must’ve as well because a Frenchman bowled up to her and began to ask for directions.

Tokyo men have a preoccupation with three piece thin suits and pointy shoes. I love the suits, very rock and roll, but the shoes! Bleck! We went shoe shopping and there was a fella in there trying on some new shoes to go with his (very nice) thin grey suit. The shoes were also grey and had points that must have extended a good 10cm from where his foot ended. He looked like the world’s best dressed pixie. Naturally he bought them after getting the thumbs up from his girlfriend.

Despite all of the warnings about “the giant effect” (being to big for Japanese sizes), we were able to find plenty of things we could fit, and sometimes on sale because they were “strange sizes”. I almost blew our entire trip budet in the second-hand stores of Harajuku. I found a store that made Eyeball Kicks look like Supré. It wasn't easy to walk out with only one item, so we turned around and bought more things.

I think I can wind it up now. We went to three of the Big Four cities (the only one we missed was New York) and had a brilliant time. I left my baby in London to work and start earning Stirling. But she’ll be back around Christmas. Until then I’ll get back to sports (what have you guys been doing to rugby while I’ve been away!?!).

Friday, September 15, 2006

Gay Paris

That title is always funnier if you say it in a kiwi accent. To explain the last post about the bar, we went to Paris for five days last week.

I love Paris. Paris is awesome. We last went in 2000 just before Christmas. It was cold and crisp, the dog crap on the sidewalk was almost frozen solid (almost) and there were lovely Christmassy things around. This time it was the end of summer/beginning of autumn and the days were warm and long. The grass was soft and lovely to lie on. We did only two really touristy things: The Louvre and Versailles.

If you can you need to go to Marie Antoinette’s estate at Versailles. She had made a little fake village at the bottom of her grounds around a little lake stocked with fish. It is like your own private Disneyland. We, like other couples, sat on the warm grass near the lake and just enjoyed the view (NOTE: Blogger just "ate" my photo of it, I'll see what I can do later).

The Louvre is the Louvre. We lined up early but there was no real hurry. Some guy behind me on the escalator seemed really impatient. As we got off he ran (RAN) around me to get to the ticket queue. He got his tickets exactly 30 seconds before I did. I suppose he HAD to see the Mona Lisa and Venus De Milo and do the Da Vinci Code tour before lunch.

The hot weather meant that there were large numbers of people lounging on the banks of the Seine. We joined them for an hour or so. It was really nice and something I can’t imagine doing on the Thames.

We wandered for hours down the narrow streets past hundreds of bars and eateries enjoying the feeling of being in Paris in the summertime. On the island of St Louis we stopped and got Gelato. Actually we waited in line for ten minutes for Gelato, which was well worth it.

Later we had a great experience with a surly French waiter. Very stereotypical, cursing under his breath. Also similar to Tokyo there were massive stores dedicated to comics frequented by everyone from geeks to housewives to businessmen (I got some Asterix figurines, placing me in the “geek” category).

I found a great bookstore (also in some little alleyway) where the books were piled to the roof and three stacks deep. I asked the owner about a design book and he handed me some by a similar artist. I realized that I couldn’t pick up the books he had just pit beside me because I couldn’t turn around in the narrow passageway of book stacks. Brilliant!

Only a few more days now. So my next post will most likely be from Wellington.

Bar Bob Cool

We just found this great bar which I think is called Bob Cool, but I could be wrong. It’s down an alleyway in the normally tourist clogged St Germain. Which alleyway? I don’t know. We weren’t in the best of senses when we left. I did manage to snap this shot of the bar though (right).

We went in for one reason: Happy Hour. We left three or four happy hours later. The main reason for this was the bar flies: an American who worked at the bar, a sozzled Brit and a happy French barman. The American served us and then sat down next to us and spoke about his life. He had been a doctor in Mexico after moving from his native Texas, now he lived in Paris as an artist and part-time barman. I have a feeling that the British guy owned the bar but he was almost incoherent at times.

We spoke at length about the universe, ufos, history, art, faking your own death, fishing, cultural differences, sport, you know the usual stuff. After a few beers we stumbled off to have a brilliant Greek dinner (yes, I know Greek food in Paris) and then stumbled back to have a bottle of Champagne. The guys were so friendly that they even bought us drinks! I had a caiparinha that damn near blew my head off. All in all a great night out.

So if you find yourself in Paris go to Rue de Schmumblemumblemumble (it’s somewhere near the fountain of St Michel) and find Bob Cool (if that’s what it’s actually called).

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The List

Before we came to London Tom gave us a list of things to do. Today is our last day in London before we head to Paris so I’d thought I’d give you the run down (Tom’s parts are in bold).

The American Bar at the Savoy: exemplary Martinis served by waiters in white tuxes (tuxen?)

We go all dressed up and went last night. It is a very glamorous art deco style bar. Tom is the Martini expert, and I can’t say that I like them all that much so instead I had my drink of choice: Caiparihnas. Man they were good. Previously the best one I had had was at Havana, but this was beautiful. So smooth and tangy. We sat opposite a group of very fancy ladies who drank sparkling mineral water behind a large pile of Chanel bags. When we left we took photos of each other outside, thus revealing our class status. The waiters’ white tuxes were pretty cool.

Spitalfields: markets, curry, Jack the Ripper, diamond geezers, vintage clothes and Brit-Art groupies.

We didn’t do this exactly as Tom intended. Instead we did a brilliant Jack the Ripper walking tour taken by one of the world’s leading experts in the subject. Walking around the Old City and East End at night is pretty creepy in itself; it becomes magnified when you are listening to the story of a serial killer. Along the walk are various temples and Masonic buildings, oooooooooo conspiracy. This was kind of cool because the next day I went and toured the Great Masonic Temple. The mystery of an ancient society is stripped away somewhat when you see they have a giftshop. It ends up looking a little like a group of guys who get together to drink and wear frilly aprons.

Sir John Soane's museum: a weird collection of art and artifacts within a mind-boggling spatial experience

This is one of the highlights of my entire trip so far. The place is crammed full of pieces of art and adornment from around the world (possibly stolen). Every piece of wall space and most of the floor and ceiling are covered in these pieces. False tombs are created outside using parts of Turkish temples, Greek statues and Roman walls. And it’s free! I rated this slightly higher than the magnificent British Museum.

Tate Modern: a bit of a cliche, but the Turbine Hall is breathtaking in itself and there's a whole room dedicated to Rothko

We haven’t been in yet, but the outside is fairly cool. Oh and we got to see Peregrine Falcons perched on the chimney thanks to the RSPB.

Moroccan food: just about anywhere in Bayswater does great stuff (mmmm, tagine kofte), and even a prissy non-smoker like me was tempted to try a puff on the shisha

We went to do this as one of our first things in London, but all of the Moroccan places were shut! We had a great Indian meal instead. So no smoking for us.

Borough market: (insert drooling sounds here)

Missed it.

Raymond Revue Bar, Soho: boobies with class (apparently)

Nope, not here either.

The Jubilee Line Extension: every station was designed by a different architect, and most are stunning

Doh, three strikes. However the Gloucester Rd station has a great art exhibition on the station walls at the moment.

Lock & Co Hatters, St James': will you have the pith helmet, the silk topper or the superfine Montecristi Panama?

Um, four strikes? I did go to a cool hatter in Tokyo. I spent ages trying on hats (also the place was air conditioned)

Neal's Yard, Covent Garden: full of hippies, but a surprising and charming little space

Ah Crap! Five strikes.

Old Bond St: no, you can't afford anything, but it's fun to dream

This is where Tom’s list turned evil. We walked down New Bond St to Old Bond St. We could afford maybe one or two things on the New one but, as Tom points out, nothing on the Old one. But I wanted everything. Amy had to pull me away from the beautiful suit shops. Sigh.

Just go walking: start anywhere between Hyde Park and the Tower, and go wandering for a couple of hours, and you're bound to stumble upon all sorts of surprising historical and architectural gems (as well as several dozen Big Issue sellers)

This is a great suggestion. Doing this we passed hundreds of beautiful old buildings (most places here are older than the nation of New Zealand), and statues and parks and interesting people and smells (that last bit wasn’t sarcasm, I was talking about restaurants etc). The sandwich bars and the relatively warm temperatures have made for some lovely lunches down these streets. London’s alleyways are also not to be avoided. They often house pubs and eateries (or even more green space) that you never would have imagined.

So sorry Tom, I’ll try and do better next time.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Tube Stories

As filler I thought I would relay to you some stories of my journeys on “the tube” here in London.

We had checked out of our wretched hotel in Bayswater (the Blakemore, don’t believe their lie-filled website) in the morning. We left our bags to pick up later with a surly concierge. How surly? The man swore at cellotape.

We travelled to Camden via the excellent British Museum (or as my friend Jim described it, the place where Britain keeps all the stuff they stole). Having been told horror stories of stealthy pickpockets we did a quick circumnavigation of the markets and headed back south to meet Andy at Embankment. We had a couple of beers with him and headed off west to grab our bags and then back south to Tooting Bec to meet our friends Aoife and Steve with whom we were staying. We were supposed to meet them at 7. It was 7 when we arrived at Paddington. Paddington is very far from Tooting Bec.

The tube here doesn’t have cellphone coverage. This may sound obvious, as the trains are travelling three or four stories below the ground. However, in Tokyo every train had coverage, no matter how deep it was. This meant that while we were inside the stations or the train we were outside the world of communication. No one knew where we were or how long we would be. This turned into a problem when we became trapped at Charing Cross.

Train after train came and went through that cursed station, all full to the gunwales with people, which would’ve been fine if it wasn’t for the large suitcases we were carrying. Each train would pull in and the door would open, the mass of humanity within glared out, eyes red from the grime and booze of a Friday evening. The trains are rank with smell of sweating flesh and everyone’s armpits are raised to face height. I had to keep making dashes to the surface to text our friends to tell them where we were (the situation worsened when my other friends reached the pub where we were supposed to be). In total we were in the underground for two hours.

A night out drinking (and shouting a few rounds in way of apology to patient friends) soothed our jangled nerves somewhat. Though the next morning brought its own surprises, I had suffered from what I learnt is common for Londoners: The Black Snot. Beneath my nails was black, in my nose was black and more than likely my lungs are blacker than if I had smoked all night. This city will literally get under your skin.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

London town

I was quite mean to London in my Wellingtonista post. London is a lovely old city. Man, is it old. Something happened everywhere at sometime. Every small piece of green is accompanied by a statue of someone be they actually famous (Churchill, right) or someone you’ve never heard of before (Baron Gilbert of Sussex, not pictured) they all have a statue, basically if you lived in London a long time ago, you get a statue.

Today we went to the Sherlock Holmes Museum. This meant comedy photos galore. It also revealed something about the British psyche. They strongly associate Holmes with Jack the Ripper. Beside Sherlock Holmes fridge magnets and deerstalker hats sat books about Jack the Ripper and the museum itself has notices up implying that the police asked the detective to help solve the case. I think that perhaps they wish he had somehow. That while Jack was stalking Whitechapel murdering prostitutes, hot on his heels was Holmes, magnifying glass in hand.

It’s also raining today. The temperature is far from tropical but I suppose London isn’t the best destination to get a tan. The rain seems to suit London, it’s a far more winter town than a hot summer one (especially considering the reports we’ve been given of the recent heat wave). The tubes don’t have air conditioning and are sweltering even in these mild conditions. Speaking of the tube, I saw the best movie-based t-shirt while riding the Bakerloo line yesterday. It said: {snakes} Î R2. It reminded me of Jo.

More later, but here is a picture of Bodicea

Friday, September 01, 2006


For those of you who have been waiting patiently for a post I just put one up on Wellingtonista.

More to come here soon

Monday, August 28, 2006

Tokyo Rocks!

Today is our last day in the big city. Tomorrow we leave for London, and with sorrow. We have come to enjoy Tokyo for all of her charming eccentricities and smells; she has been good to us.

The sounds of Tokyo are also interesting. While in the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building #1’s viewing deck (from which you can most of Tokyo and even Fuji-san on a clear day) we heard “On Top of the World” by the Carpenters. Later in a department store in Shinjuku we heard the theme from Rocky. But the best music comes from the street, literally. Harajuku on a Sunday is shit hot as all of the bands who have recorded CDs and want to peddle their wares play to crowds of passersby. The bands are only metres away from each other and so they have to out-loud the band next to them or just out-flash them.

I had to decide on which EP I was going to buy: Baby Joe’s or Hop Coaster’s. Hop Coaster sounded like the Chili Peppers and played up to the camera, but I liked Baby Joe. They reminded me of (kiwi band) The Checks. Unfortunately their awesome live sound didn’t carry across to the cd but it was worth the $10 or so I paid for it. When I went to purchase the cd (which the band signed) they all looked so shocked I burst out laughing. They looked like, “you actually want to buy one?!”

We had some time to kill and decided to go to a maid café today. I thought it was going to be a horrible sleazy place filled with chain-smoking geeks glistening with sweat leering at the poor girls, and so I had dismissed the idea out of hand. But then I noticed that our official guide to Tokyo (issued by the local council) had an ad for one on it. The place was called @Home and was three levels of restaurant, café and lobby. To be honest it was lovely. The food was some of the best we have had in Tokyo and the service was, naturally, excellent. It was more of a modern take on the traditional tea house. The “maids” tottered around on wooden sandals and in kimono and would serve people tea and make chit-chat. There was one corner that had tatami and you could get and honest to goodness tea ceremony. The only weirdness was that you could get your photo taken with your favourite maid and that they kept calling you “master”. There were also quite a few female patrons, both the tittering school girl kind and the hipster ironic kind. There was a show in the middle that seemed to be some kind of comedy sketch but upstairs in the lobby you could purchase merchandise, including a cd they had made. Still ranks as weird, but it was a cool Japanese experience.

We have loved Tokyo and I highly recommend it to anyone thinking of coming.