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

Monday, May 29, 2006

[48 Hours] Computers Provide Tension

UPDATES GALORE:29/05/06 19.25pm
All photos by K. Sahai - www.karimsahai.com
48hour logo from 48hours.co.nz

"Coupled": Screened Tusday 30 May, 5.45pm, Regent Cinema, Wellington

Me, looking suave. This is not a current photo.
photo by K. Sahai - www.karimsahai.com
10.03am the Monday after the 48hour film challenge. Three coffees in.

I. Am. Knackered.

In the last 72 hours I had, roughly, 18 hours sleep. And I still got more than the Director. This all seems familiar, somehow.

Before anything else, here is the (alphabetical) credit list of a cast and crew that worked their butts off to create 7mins of cinematic brilliance:

Tom Beard - Actor

J Bills - Editor

Paul Campion - Director/Camera Operator

Amy Galvin - Script Supervisor / Continuity

Hadyn Green - Writer

Paul McInnes - Lighting / Set

Vince Morder - Actor (Supporting)

Siobhan Murray - Actor (Supporting)

George Oliver - Sound (links updated)

Dean Packwood - PA/Runner/Computer Guru/Editting

Mike Roseingrave - Writer

Karim Sahai - On set photographer

Jennifer Scheer - Producer

Jessica Smith - Actress (updated)

Roxanne Sutherland-Valentine - Production, Actor (Supporting)

Che Tibby - Music Superviser/PA/Runner

Every single one of these people are brilliant. We all kept spirits high, at no point did anyone crack.

From left: George, Jess (in shower), Tom
photo by K. Sahai - www.karimsahai.com
Four coffees in.

Just a quick note: I've got a nice playlist going through my iPod, but I'm gonna have to change it because Fiona Apple's going to lull me to sleep and then I'll get fired....hmmm....ahh, Linkin Park, that'll do it!

Five coffees, one orange juice, one steak & cheese pie.

So what were you doing at 4.30am Saturday morning? I was walking home (in the rain) after having just finished writing a script. It's amazing the dialogue that you can come up with at that time of the morning. Last year it was:
"Is that dog wearing a bra?"

This year it was
"What kind of man are you?"
"Well I do own a lot of kitchen utensils"

From these script excerpts you can probably guess that last year we wrote a musical and that this year our assigned genre was "Based on a True Story".

Paul "fearless leader" Campion answered the phone at 7.11pm on Friday night. Our producer, Jenn "fearless leader" Scheer (people are allowed the same nickname), had just left the Embassy theatre and was calling through with the information on what had to be in our film. We had already recieved the elements through a live start on Campbell:Live (thanks Jackie Brown)
Character: Robin/Robyn Slade - an eternal optimist
Line of dialogue: That's what I'm talking about
Object: a mirror
All three of which were better than last year's.

Last year we sat around for what seemed like a lifetime before actually starting. This year Mike and I both had laptops (I borrowed mine from Paul) and after an hour we blasted into it. Jenn was wonderfully keeping people away from us when we needed to get our heads down and letting people through when we needed inspiration. Paul would read our drafts and rip them to pieces (which sounds horrible but is exactly what you need) and we would make the necessary changes.

We had a first draft by about 2am (Saturday) and then it was sweating the details. Piffling little things like, the ending. The best part though was having the script blocked out by 10pm (Friday), the outline done by about 11pm and then it was just dialogue, baby!

Saturday was going pretty well. We were losing the light but it didn't end up being too big a deal in the end. The script also required our actors to be handcuffed together and for them to walk down Cuba St. This was fine until the keys went missing. This is ironic (or perhaps apt) because our genre was "Based on a True Story". Life imitating art imitating life.

From left: Jess, Tom, unknown passersby [note the halo matches the cuffs]
photo by K. Sahai - www.karimsahai.com
Six coffees etc etc.

Sunday offered the greatest drama. Everyone was around at J's house. His dog Charlie was entertaining us, as only a small dog with ADD can. It was 5pm and Rox showed up to take our first cut down to the Embassy as a back-up incase something went wrong later.

We were cruising.

Jenn went in to tell the editors to output the tape. She came back and said "there's a problem". The movie wasn't rendering. From what I understand of it (which isn't much), rendering is turning the seperate pieces of footage and sound, that you have editted together, into one smooth movie which can be put onto a tape.

UPDATE: Paul has been in touch with a better explanation:
Rendering to tape - basically getting the film from the computer onto the tape that we hand in. The whole weekends work rests on this seemingly very simple process. Get it from the computer, onto the tape. That's it. And itwasn't working. At all.
The intensity in the room suddenly got cranked to 11.

Mike and I hid behind the couch where we would be out of everybody's way. With every second the mood got darker and darker. Jenn was banned from the editting suite at one point. Then Mike and Che were sent to Paul's house to get the manual for our hired camera. When they returned Che went into the suite to hand over the manual. As he opened the door he was shouted at "GET OUT!" He dropped the book and ran.

Then, like magic, the mood lightened and Paul emerged and handed a tape to Rox who zoomed off with Che in her giant 4WD. The time was 6pm. The guys in the edit suite now had half an hour to finish the last smoothing out, add voice-dubbing and letterbox the sucker. The only thing they didn't get to do was the voice dubbing. It didn't matter.

The second tape left at 6.45 with George and Paul in George's (very fast, vroom vroom) Mitsubishi GTO. Following were Mike, Jess and Karim who wanted to get there before the others in order to document the hand over.

From left: Jenn, Paul (looking frantic as seconds tick by)
photo by K. Sahai - www.karimsahai.com

UPDATE: I got a few things wrong in this story and Jenn snapped me.
  1. Jenn handed the tape off to Rox and sent her off
  2. Paul, Jenn, and Karim hit the road..George and Jess followed in pursuit .. as the backup car if we broke down. Jenn jumped out at the embassy (see photo above) with Karim and took the tape/paperwork in .. got in line .. then Paul and Jenn handed in our team's film together ..
We who were left behind sat and waited. We made popcorn and chilled champagne for our team's triumphant return.

At 7.09pm Sunday evening Amy recieved a text message. "Tape in. Seven minutes to spare". SEVEN MINUTES!!! do you know how much editting J could've done in seven minutes!!!

Its all over!
From left: Che, Rox, (an obscured person who could be Paul), George, Mike (on floor)
photo by K. Sahai - www.karimsahai.com

When the couriers returned we popped the bubbly and sat in J's screening room and watched our finished product. It looks good. We are very very happy with it. And in the end we were all still friends and were all still laughing (credit to Jenn). This to me is the sign of a well-made successful 48hour film.

Coffee consuption halted for health reasons (so much caffiene I can see through time!) 3.15pm, Monday.

Finally, ours may be one of the more blogged films in this year's comp. As noted above, Che Tibby of Public Address was our Music supervisor, Gopher, Gaffer, Clapper, PA, Caterer. His original role was going to be Pantyhose Monster so I think he was just happy about that. Tom from WellUrban was our leading man and me and Mike were obviously there as well.

Here are some other 48hour blogs (from this thread on the forums):
Happy Face Films
Fractured Radius & here

Over the next couple of days I'll probably add to this a little with other posts as my brain slowly regains its focus. Though I feel like I'm coming down with a cold now. Inhaling all of that smoke machine "smoke" didn't help though. Oh, yeah I forgot, we had a smoke machine too!

Friday, May 26, 2006

[Sport] NZ to NFL

Over on Jets Blog they are talking about AFL (Aussie Rules) player Jason Akermanis of the Brisbane Lions. Akermanis was invited to participate in a New York Jets training camp which he turned down. But this has reignited my thoughts on turning rugby players into American footballers.

I thought I could give my very un-professional opinion on some of players in this year’s Super 14 Final and where they could fit into the NFL.


Name: Ma'a Nonu
Position: Midfield back, wing
Date of Birth: 21.05.82
Height: 1.82m
Weight: 102kg

Nonu is known as a line-breaker (9th most in the Super 14 regular-season with 40). He has average hands and I would say he could be a RB/WR. He doesn’t have the blinding speed required to be a top flight receiver but as a third WR option he would easily be a threat. He has the size and frame to be a good “speed” RB and has explosiveness at the line. Poor tackling ability limits his options at linebacker and would need better awareness to be a safety.
Position: RB/WR
Team: Indianapolis Colts [The Edge left, could help fill the gaps]

Name: Chris Masoe
Position: Loose forward
Date of Birth: 15.05.79
Height: 1.83m
Weight: 106kg

Masoe (and playing partner Jerry Collins) would be great as a weak-side linebacker or safety. His size limits him somewhat but his speed and awareness are impressive. He is a solid tackler. He has good hands and could anticipate the pass well. If he were to play at Safety his size would intimidate WRs and match up well against the run. He could be the next Troy Polamalu.
Position: SS
Team:Kansas City Chiefs [Need a solid defensive player]

Name: Jason Eaton
Position: Lock
Date of Birth: 21.08.82
Height: 2.02m
Weight: 107kg

I believe the Jason Eaton would make a great TE. His current size is comparable to other top-end TEs (Randy McMichael, 1.90m, 115kg; Tony Gonzalez, 1.95m, 113kg) he just needs a little more weight. His skills in the lineout show that he can catch well and under pressure (59 lineout takes this season). And his scrimmaging skills show that he could block when needed to as well.
Position: TE
Team: Arizona Cardinals [Two good QBs, good RB, just need a tall TE to complete the picture]


Name: Daniel Carter
Position: Inside Back
Date of Birth: 05.03.82
Height: 1.79m
Weight: 91kg

Dan looks like he could be a WR but I would have him first and foremost as a K/P. Though he has speed and would perhaps be better suited as a special teams player on KR and a second or third tier WR.
Position: K/P/KR/Special Teams
Team: Chicago Bears [Just lost their kicker to New England]

Name: Corey Flynn
Position: Hooker
Date of Birth: 15.01.81
Height: 1.84m
Weight: 108kg

Speed and size are assets for Flynn. He has the classic inverted triangle build and would suit a linebacker role with ease. His scrummaging means you could put him in the O-Line him for gadget plays as well.
Position: ILB
Team: Oakland Raiders [Need a good linebacker badly]

Name: Richard McCaw
Position: Loose Forward
Date of Birth: 31.12.80
Height: 1.87m
Weight: 106kg

See notes on Chris Masoe. Could be the next John Lynch. As a plus he already wears headgear.
Position: SS
Team: Buffalo Bills [Suffering after the loss of Lawyer Malloy to the Falcons]

Public Service Announcement

There will be no, repeat NO, creativity here today. None.

I am once again taking on the 48hr film challenge. And as co-writer for our team I must ensure that my creative juices don’t leak out of me like …SEE! That’s the type of metaphor that I need to keep to myself this weekend.

So instead I offer a couple of “dry” posts:

1. A discussion of Rugby and American Football

2. A pimpin’ blog

Yep, basically it’s filler.

By the way here are some posts that discuss last year’s 48 hour film challenge:

  1. Last year’s warning
  2. A re-cap of last year’s event
  3. Mike’s version
  4. Premiere Night
  5. Mike’s critique of last year’s finalists

Friday, May 19, 2006

Do you LOVE NZ music?

Given that it is NZ Music Month and then taking this brilliant post by the Kung Fu Monkey, I give you a “mash-up”.

NZ song titles that could also be porn films! [I limited myself to one song per group/artist]

10. Love You Like I Should

9. We Gon’ Ride

8. Deb’s Night Out

7. Bursting Through

6. She Will Have Her Way

5. Can’t Get Enough

4. Soviet Airhostess

3. Can I Play with Your Giant Friend

2. Turn It Around

1. When You Come / It’s Only Natural

Please feel free to add more

Thursday, May 18, 2006

[Health] Who ate all the pies?

From Tom:

I thought of a good solid rugby stats challenge for you. There was a big news splash the other day about the [Ministry of Health’s] findings that more than half of NZers are overweight or obese. These stats are based on the famously dodgy BMI [Body-Mass Index] calculation (weight in kg / (height in m)^2), whereby a score of 25 or more is overweight and 30 obese (26 and 32 for Māori/Pasifika).

A quick glance at the Hurricanes’ player page shows how the BMI is complete bollocks: Piri Weepu is a couple of kilos off being obese.

He’s right Piri Weepu (1.78m, 94kg) gets a score of 29.7, so he’s overweight. Speedster and try-scoring machine Lome Fa’atau (1.83m, 92kg) gets a 29 but is still overweight.

Wendell Sailor (see below) gets a 29 as well. Maybe he was worried and went on a “coke diet”. Sniff sniff.

Let’s try the forwards: Andrew Hore (1.83m, 110kg) is obese at 32.8 points. The heaviest Hurricane is prop Tim Fairbrother (183m, 119kg), he gets a score of 35.5! He must be SO unfit!

But the Hurricanes are a long way from the largest team. Prop Andries Human of the Bulls is 1.91m and 123kg so he gets a score of 33.7. Fatty.

[Sport] Line him up opposite Urlacher

A former AFL player turned NFL talent scout has said that disgraced Super 14 rugby player Wendell Sailor could be a good American Football player.

Darren Bennett has invited the winger to try-out.

"My only query is his age. His age might scare a few clubs off and he's also a little undersized to play linebacker (a defensive position). But he has the build and speed to be a running back."

Bennett played for the San Diego Chargers and Minnesota Vikings (probably as a punter).

I wonder if Sailor could make it in the NFL? Let’s compare him to some other players strictly on a size basis.

Vital stats:




Wendell Sailor

6’3” (191cm)

233lbs (106kg)

Tiki Barber [RB]

5’10” (177cm)

200lbs (90.7kg)

Cadillac Williams [RB]

5’11 (180cm)

217lbs (98.4kg)

Ricky Williams [RB]

5’10” (177cm)

228lbs (103.4kg)

Deuce McAllister [RB]

6’1” (185cm)

232lbs (105.2kg)

Terrell Owens [WR]

6’3” (191cm)

226lbs (102.5kg)

Randy McMichael [TE]

6’3” (191cm)

255lbs (115.7kg)

Dhani Jones [OLB]

6’1” (185cm)

240lbs (108.9kg)

Joey Porter [OLB]

6’3” (191cm)

250lbs (113.4kg)

First I looked at running backs. Sailor has the height and weight to be a “smash-mouth” runner; so third-downs and goal-line moves. Sailor is even bigger than Ricky Williams who is considered more of a power runner than a finesse runner. I doubt Sailor’s ability to play every down and his vision. His lack of catching ability would mean he wasn’t a receiving threat. In open play, though, he would be hard to catch.

Ricky Williams is an interesting comparison considering his current ban due to recreational drug use.

Looking at Wide Reciever we can see that Sailor is close to Terrell Owens in size. They are probably quite close in speed as well, however, (despite being an arsehole, like Sailor) TO can catch. TO is a clutch receiver, if you get him the ball he will catch it. Sailor’s lack of catching ability (called “bad hands” in the NFL) would rule him out as a WR at this time.

Sailor has the height but not the weight to be a Tight End. He would also have to learn complex blocking maneuvers and I just don’t think he would be able to. And again, he would need to be a clutch receiver.

Sailor is actually too big to be a defensive back. Also he can’t tackle and turns like a truck so I didn’t bother with comparison (though if his tackling improved he could be a Strong Safety.

Is he too small to be a Line Backer? Yes. Dhani “The Thinker” Jones is a small mobile linebacker and he is almost 10lbs heavier. Joey Porter is an elite LB and he has 20lbs on Sailor. As a quick aside here is a story about Joey Porter talking about his team’s imminent visit to the White House:

PITTSBURGH (May 17, 2006) -- Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Joey Porter is backing off tongue-in-cheek comments that he plans to tell President Bush next month that he dislikes how the country is being run.

During the Steelers' minicamp last weekend, Porter was smiling and laughing when he told reporters he had "something to say to Bush" during the Super Bowl champions' June 2 visit to the White House.

"I'm going to have a swagger when I walk in there, too," Porter said. "I'm looking forward to it but, like I said, I have something to tell him, too. I don't like the way things are running right now. I feel like he's got to give me some of my money back, so I got something to tell to Bush."

The Pro Bowl linebacker issued a statement May 17 saying he regrets making comments that some apparently construed as serious.

"I regret that my quotes about our team's upcoming visit to the White House were taken out of context," Porter said in a statement issued by the team. "I am very excited to have an opportunity to visit the White House and meet the president of the United States."

Porter also said his comments were not meant to suggest he disapproves of Bush or the job he is doing.

"We will be guests of the president and I would never do anything to disrespect him," Porter said in the statement. "I consider our upcoming trip an honor and a dream come true. Our entire team is looking forward to visiting the White House and enjoying what promises to be the opportunity of a lifetime."

Porter has long been one of the NFL's most outspoken players on a variety of subjects.

I KNEW I was right!

Anyone else think he was "asked nicely" to change his statement?

Back to Wendell Sailor; he might make a good back-up running back depending on the team he plays for. For example behind the Texans’ woeful Offensive-Line he would suck, behind the Steel Curtain he might do quite well. I just hope he doesn’t go to the Jets.

ps. Brian Urlacher (in the title) is a very good, very large linebacker who would flatten Sailor.

Sealions 2: The Reply

A while ago I wrote about Hon. Jim Anderton's decision to increase the Sea Lion kill quota so that we could all eat more squid. I wrote him an email asking a few questions. On the weekend he replied (I've been sick so that's why you get it now). Before I put the letter up have a quick glance at this.

Japan has a whaling surplus
. They have caught more whales than the market desires. While this may stengthen claims that whales can be fished (how ironic) sustainably, it shows more that the Japanese have an over-inflated estimate of the market size. Given how you hunt whales you can acurately control the size of the catch and do not have to overfish.

I have a feeling Che Tibby might like this development.

Anyhow here's the Minister's reply:

Dear Hadyn Green

Thank you for your message of 26 April seeking some detailed technical answers to the way in which the kill quota for sea lions was calculated. I have asked the officials concerned to have a look at your questions, and the answers are:

1. What actual numbers you used to justify the increase in the number of sea lions that could be killed?

The sea lion mortality limit resulting from harvest control rules applied to the Breen-Kim model is set according to theoretical maximums and minimums to ensure sustainability of the population over 100 year runs simulated in the model. For the 2005-06 fishing year, the range available to me runs from 0 to 550 sea lions. Within this range, my decision was to increase the current limit from 97 to 150 sea lions. Note that this level of bycatch is still at the lower end of this range.

In addition, I considered current squid catch rates, and associated economic values associated with foregone fishing opportunities projected if the Auckland Islands squid fishery (SQU 6T) were closed to trawling upon reaching the previous 97-animal FRML.

2. What is your model for the New Zealand Sea Lion population and what are the trends predicted for the next three years?

The Ministry of Fisheries has invested significant resources into a scientific model of the sea lion population developed by NIWA scientists Paul Breen and Susan Kim (the Breen-Kim model). The Breen-Kim model was developed to ensure management of the sea lion population remains above 90% of its carrying capacity, or remains about 90% of the level it would obtain in the absence of fishery bycatch, 90% of the time. The model does not predict future trends in sea lion population, nor does it prescribe a specific bycatch limit. Rather, bycatch control rules are assessed with the Breen-Kim population model based on current annual pup production numbers to determine the range of acceptable fishing-related mortality limits for a given year that satisfy the sea lion management objectives noted.

A more detailed discussion of the B-K model and its application in assessing alternative sea lion bycatch management options is provided in consultation documents and advice papers concerning the 2005-06 SQU 6T sea lion operational plan. These documents are available on the Ministry of Fisheries website at http://www.fish.govt.nz/sustainability/impacts.html.

3. Are you confident in the model, and if so, why?

The Ministry of Fisheries advises me that the Breen-Kim Model provides the best available information to assess the incidental capture of sea lions within the SQU 6T fishery under a range of bycatch level scenarios. This model was developed under the scrutiny of the Ministry’s Aquatic Environment Working Group in 2003 and was independently reviewed in 2003.

The Breen-Kim model incorporates the available biological information on the New Zealand sea lion population and dynamics. The Breen-Kim Model uses the best available data, and models a range of parameters to represent the current state of knowledge of sea lion biology and demography as accurately as possible.

4. Where do the numbers for your model come from and how often are they updated?

Breen and Kim developed a model in 2003 to assess the New Zealand sea lion population using a fully-age-structured Bayesian approach. The model takes into account the full range of biological and fisheries data available, including observed maturity schedules, variable pupping rates, vulnerability at age information from by-caught animals, survival rates, and late season pup mortality data. The alternative decision rules use pup production estimates as an index of population size, as direct estimation of numbers of adult sea lions is hampered by their periodic foraging trips at sea.

The Breen-Kim model was formulated from these biological and fisheries data up through 2003. Subsequent modifications of the model were made in 2004. Pup production in a given year is incorporated in calculations of allowable sea lion mortality levels under the alternative decision rules. I am mindful that it may be appropriate to update the sea lion population model, to include information that has become available since 2003.

5. Has the sea lion population increased at a rate sufficient enough to warrant a kill quota increase of 55%?

The Breen-Kim sea lion population model is used to test alternative bycatch decision rules. For the 2005-06 fishing year, the fishing-related mortality limit range available to me runs from 0 to 550 sea lions. Within this range, my decision was to increase the current limit from 97 to 150 sea lions. Note that this level of bycatch is still at the lower end of this range.

6. Why are alternative methods of squid fishing not being promoted?

Fishing vessels are currently permitted to use the method of jigging in all New Zealand squid fishery management areas, including the Auckland Islands SQU 6T. However, operators have not undertaken to fish for squid using jig methods in the SQU 6T fishery since the early 1980s when there were some trials conducted. The number of jig vessels active in New Zealand waters has also declined substantially, from over 100 boats in the 1980s, to about 15 squid jigging vessels at present. Less than 10% of the allowable squid jig catch has been achieved in recent years.

With specific regard to SQU 6T, available information indicates that ocean conditions around the Auckland Islands can be both difficult and hazardous for squid jigging vessels. For this reason I am unwilling to require extended no-trawl zones around the Auckland Islands in order to encourage jigging alternatives until such methods have been further tested and proven feasible in this fishery.

The Ministry of Fisheries is encouraging the squid industry to trial the method of jigging in the Auckland Islands fishery in light of technology used in some overseas squid fisheries. In addition, trawl fishers employ various management practices, including the use of sea lion exclusion devices (SLEDs) to avoid the unintentional deaths of these marine mammals in the SQU 6T fishery.

7. Will the sea lion kill quota be raised every time there is an increase in squid numbers?

Prior to making my decision to increase the FRML to 150, indications were the current harvest limit for squid would be substantially under-caught unless the FRML was increased in relation to sea lions. I was advised that increasing the FRML on a one-off basis to 150 sea lions was likely to be sustainable. On balance, then, and on the basis of the best professional advice available to me, I considered the increased risk to sustainability of the sea lion population to be acceptable as a result of this increase in the FRML.

My decision to increase the FRML on a one-off basis is not intended as a precedent; rather it reflects ongoing considerations in balancing my obligations under the Fisheries Act to provide for utilisation while ensuring sustainability. Both squid abundance and allowable sea lion bycatch are subject to change and uncertainty over time.

8. What criteria have to be met to justify an increase in the sea lion kill quota?

The Fisheries Act 1996 specifies obligations for setting a limit on sea lion mortalities, but not explicit criteria for increasing or decreasing the limit. Section 15 of the Fisheries Act sets out the Minister of Fisheries’ role in managing the effects of fishing on marine mammals or other wildlife depending on whether a Population Management Plan (PMP) exists. A PMP is developed under the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978, and is approved by the Minister of Conservation (after concurrence from the Minister of Fisheries). There is no PMP for the New Zealand sea lion at present.

Without a PMP, the Fisheries Act provides alternative mechanisms to manage the effects of fishing-related mortality on the New Zealand sea lion. In particular, s 15(2) states that in the absence of a PMP, the Minister of Fisheries, after consultation with the Minister of Conservation, may take such measures as are considered necessary to avoid, remedy or mitigate the effect of fishing-related mortality on any protected species and this may include setting a limit on fishing related mortality.

The criteria and rationale for the FRML in a given season is contained in the SQU6T sea lion operational plan. This plan specifies management objectives and procedures to meet these obligations based on the best information available.

I trust this covers the points you have raised, but if it does not then please write to me further and I will do my best to answer your queries.

Yours sincerely

Jim Anderton
Minister of Fisheries
M P for Wigram and Leader of the Progressive Party

It’s the rain that makes them crazy…

Being all cooped up indoors makes people nuts. I know our cats get all loopy. So perhaps it’s all of the recent bad weather here in Wellington that has made some people flip their lids.


First let’s talk advertising. I spoke a little while ago about Jerk-vertising (ads that seem to say “buy our product, become a jerk”). The new Lift PlusSharpen Up” ads are the latest in the Jerk-vertising trend.

They always were cutting it pretty close, but the latest “prank’ where the gang trick a female flatmate into walking naked into the living room…?


This is verging on sexual assault. I suggest you try it on your female flatmate and see how funny she thinks it is. Actually better make it a thought experiment.

And then, an ad for the new Toyota RAV has been pulled by the Advertising Standards Complaints Board.

The board found the advertisement breached three principles in its code of ethics:

  • that advertisements should be prepared with a due sense of social responsibility,
  • should not contain anything likely to cause serious or widespread offence, and
  • should not contain dangerous practices which encourage a disregard for safety.

The 17 complaints received about the ad included that the ad “would be disturbing to some children to see a ‘mother’ and ‘father’ trying to hurt each other”

I had no real beef with the ad, but I can understand why an ad that shows a man trying to kill his wife was pulled. Self-appointed Political Correctness Eradicator Wayne Mapp couldn’t:

"It's a killjoy attitude that's so typical of the politically correct. Don't they realise it's a spoof?"

Who is “they” Wayne? The children? And does it matter when it clearly breaks the code of ethics? And what else can we show as long as it is a “spoof”.

In other news:

Hurricanes attack coach Aussie McLean should know more than most after long stints with the Crusaders and Canterbury.

But, surprisingly, McLean believes home advantage is more legend than fact. At least he did BEFORE the game against the Waratahs in Sydney:

"You play on green grass with white paint and goalposts at either end and you don't play anywhere other than on the rugby field," he said. “…but whether it makes any difference to the result I couldn't really say. It's more myth than anything else."

Statistics, unfortunately, don’t bear him out. Home ground advantage is well documented and studied. While it varies in effect from sport to sport (and indeed from team to team) playing at home has a positive effect on your score. The Champions League believes in it with a home goal being worth one competition point and an away goal being worth two.

This is not to say that your team will win all of its home games. Just that your average score at home will be better than your average away score.

This week Hurricanes’ Head Coach Colin Cooper said that he wondered about “home town pressure”. But surely the Hurricanes think that “you don't play anywhere other than on the rugby field” (see above).

Friday, May 05, 2006

In iPod We Trust

My Friday shuffle list (bored of these yet?)

  1. A Woman’s Worth (live) – Alicia Keys – Unplugged
    Miss Keys is a regular on my shuffles. I prefer the original recording of this song. The unplugged album as a whole is pretty “up and down”
  2. PyramidWolfmother – Wolfmother
    Oh, rock!
  3. Hooker With a PenisTool – Ænima
    Am I allowed to say “penis” on a blog? Of course in rugby a hooker with a penis is usually the case.
  4. Smells Like Teen SpiritNirvana – Nevermind
    There are some albums that I feel I should own as a product of 90’s music. Nevermind, Blood Sugar Sex Magic and Ten are the big ones on my list. It’s less of a thing I should have to prove I was “there” but more of a “these albums were the culture at the defining point of my life” (i.e. teenagerism)
  5. CarmellaBeth Orton – Daybreaker
    There’s nothing nicer than a bit of Beth Orton on a hot day, drinking mint juleps under a tree in a field. I am, however, at work on a grey rainy day and Beth is still nice to hear.
  6. JumbleMinuit – the 88
    I only got this album a little while ago but I am loving every minuit of it (har har)
  7. Garden GroveSublime – Sublime
    Sublime = Roadtrip. There was no chance, NO CHANCE, of that so I skipped this song.
  8. Boom BoomJohn Lee Hooker – Best of…
    Made coffee while I listened to this. Co-workers looked at me strangely while I sing under my breath “gonna shoot you right down”
  9. Bad DreamTricky feat. ? – Pre-Millenium Tension
    I don’t know who the chick is singing this but I love this song. It conjures up so many short films.
  10. Me and Bobby McGeeJanis Joplin – Best of…
    and finish with a classic.

The songs actually got better after this (not that these were bad) including Neko Case’s song The Tigers Have Spoken which is one of the saddest songs I have ever heard.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

[General] September 1985

Let's go back in time shall we? To September 1985.

We are the World showed everyone that America loved Africa (except ironically South Africa whichs bans the song). Split Enz split up. The Breakfast Club and Teen Wolf made their way into popular culture. And the General Lee toured New Zealand.

[click pic for larger image]

But wait. Who is that dashing young man? The redhead in the red stripey jersey, the rolled up jeans and the f**kin' awesome sneakers? One thumb of one hand stuck in his pocket doing his best James Dean.

Oh, wait that's me. I don't know who the other kids are though. Possibly they were part of my gang.

[thanks to Mum for the photo]

Monday, May 01, 2006

Armageddon: The Aftermath.

[Intrepid reporter Hadyn Green set off with a note book, recorder, camera and a media pass from bFM to document the cultural phenomenon that was Armageddon.]

Cosplay girls

[New updated version with more text and photos]
8am: It’s still one hour before the doors open to New Zealand’s largest popular culture expo, Armageddon. The rain was falling softly but steadily onto the large line that had formed in front of the Queen’s Warf Event Centre. The guys at the front were typical of the event’s stereotype demographic: black coats, white skin, slumped shoulders.

José (producer and occasional DJ for bFM’s Wednesday Wire) and I flashed our media passes and microphone and pushed to the front. We decided to interview a few of these hardy souls and in doing so learnt our first lesson of the day: geeks fear outsiders. Monosyllabic answers and sideways glances were what we received for the most part. So we headed inside.

Inside we saw Bill. Bill runs Armageddon and is a ball of energy but because of this he is very difficult to talk to. We first met him on Friday night to get our precious passes. He was wearing a Batman t-shirt. On Saturday it was a Bizarro t-shirt. He was in his element.

I was acting as José’s pimp (or producer). I was setting him up with celebrity interviews and pointing out “interesting” looking people. But first things first, I needed a photo with Jewel Staite (star of Firefly and Serenity).

Jewel Staite is hot; really hot. As I waited in the queue I struck up a conversation with other fans. There were two girls (somewhere between 13 and 16yrs old) who were listing their favourite episodes of Firefly…by name. A pre-Armageddon party was held the previous night at Syn; the bar owned by Hell Pizza. Media weren’t allowed. Boooooo. The girls had been and said that it was amazing.

We got our celebrity interviews later in the afternoon. Jewel was first up. She was actually, dare I say, pretty boring (emphasis on the pretty). She spoke about the huge fan up-swelling that had turned Firefly from a cancelled TV show to a feature motion picture. She had nothing bad to say about her fans but her husband lurked in the background prepared at any moment to leap out and stop any fan that got an inch too close.

In all of the interviews and articles I have read about Firefly and Serenity there is always a large amount of talk about how fans saved the series after the Fox Network tried to kill it. It's has been four years since Firefly was cancelled and a year since the release of Serenity (by Universal, not Fox) but that tension is still there. Jewel told us of Firefly's obstacles (it was screened out of order, the pilot was screened four weeks in, it was scheduled at 8pm on a Friday) then she told us about being shown a sheet detailing the profits Fox was making from it. Millions, mainly through DVD sales.

As José interviewed, I photographed and talked with the helpers. One quietly mentioned that the whole thing was really badly organised. He referred specifically to the photo sessions. One scheduled for 10am was bumped back to 2pm and the signing sessions seemed long and drawn out. He also said that he was hung-over. It seemed to be a recurring theme for both days.

I wandered over to the New Zealand artists. Sadly they had fewer visitors than the site selling Frisbees and stuff to make your teeth light up. I chanced upon an artist from Whanganui, Jem Yoshioka. She was selling beautiful prints and other original artwork. I bought two pieces: both had an art nouveaux feel, one was a print of a black girl in Victorian clothes, the other was an ink sketch on wallpaper. [I will post her name and website when I find the card she gave me]

We managed to catch up with Shane Rangi at the Weta stand. I was supposed to work with him on a 48hr film competition team but he had to pull out to be in a multi-million dollar historical epic. Some people have no priorities.

While we chatted a girl came up and asked for his autograph and said “I recognise you from Narnia”. I asked “does that ever actually happen, people recognising you?” “No.”

Shane told us about some fans who he was warned about including a “face licker”. This woman would pose for a photo and just as it was being taken she would lick the celebrity’s face.

Then in a complete coincidence John Billingsley told us how he was licked by two women at a convention in San Francisco. John was a brilliant interviewee. He and his wife Bonnie had only just arrived in Wellington, but had been touring New Zealand for little while. They did say, however, that Wellington smelled much better than Rotorua.

John Schneider was the biggest star at the expo. He was charismatic and charming. All of the women were fawning over him and so were a few of the men. He actually seemed to enjoy the whole experience of being here in NZ and being mobbed by fans. He even acquiesced to a slide into the General Lee, which he accomplished with flair and poise. He mentioned that he was off the Chiefs/Hurricanes game that night and was looking forward to it so I returned the next day and interviewed him for the Dropkicks (available Thursday).

John has his own General Lee. But he didn't buy it from the series like some wussy millionaire. No, he built his from scratch and he races it in the states.

He also voiced his disappointment at the recent Dukes of Hazzard film. Then he said that he was currently trying to make his own version with him as director. Though given the amount of swooning going on around him I would suggest that John could star and the thing would make millions.

Finally we spoke to Claudia Christian. She was…well, she was…she…um. Let’s put it this way. When José sat down the first thing she said to him was: “Are you looking up my skirt?”

She was loud with a brash American sense of humour. Her jokes were often of a sexual nature and she laughed a lot. I wondered if she was in a “sci-fi convention mode”. When we asked her real questions, the jokes disappeared and she showed a serious side. Her experiences with fans were a little more extreme than the others we had spoken to.

One fan thought that they were married and broke through security at a convention yelling that she had left her wedding ring behind. Another thought, after seeing The Hidden, that she was an alien from Jupiter that had come to Earth to spread the AIDS virus.

Fan does of course come from the word fanatic. Maybe Jewel’s husband wasn’t so dumb.

Claudia had a lot of merchandise available for purchase and signing. These included her CD and prints of her nude photos from Playboy (no links for that one). I was there when one intrepid young man chose one of, what were being called, her "naughty photos". There was no embaressed exchange. She signed the photo, had a chat with him and a laugh before he left quickly hiding the photo in his coat.

Bad guys go to buy snacks

[Caution: the following contains architecture]

Lastly we did an interview with Phil Jimenez. As well as being a brilliant artist, Phil is a citizen of New York. We had a long discussion about architecture while we waited for the circus that was revolving around his coffee. All he wanted was white coffee poured over ice, he never got it. He spoke about how happy he was to see “green buildings” not so much because they helped the environment but because of the thought human beings could (and would) actually build these things.

I told him about Waitangi Park and the new Stats building and how there were not just environmentally sound but also took into account “people space”. He liked the sound of that. We talked about the failed stadium project in downtown New York. He outlined the fight that finally stopped the project. One person with the power of veto realised that no one else had considered the residents, only the multi-billionaires who would make more money from the project. So he vetoed it. Tom would’ve loved it!

He said that he had a chance for a brief glance around town and compared Wellington favourably to San Francisco (including the weather). He said that he loved museums and thought that the space inside Te Papa was amazing and he didn’t mind the exterior either.

King Kapisi

By the second day José had a giant hangover and my legs were giving out. José got quick interviews with King Kapisi and Oscar Kightley and then we called it a day. We had seen Armageddon and it had nearly overwhelmed us. But we came through mainly unscathed, a few dollars lighter and stronger for the experience.

Oh and for those who read about it on Wellingtonista, I got my matching set: Photos with the General Lee at age 5 (or so) and age 27. [To be posted here in the near future].

Here is a link to the Flickr set I’m slowly adding to if you would like more photos.
Non-Flickr photos were supplied by Mike.