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

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.