Goodye, Pork Pie

I’ve played cricket with loads of guys that would pitch up just as the van was pulling out out the drive, reeking of smoke and beer, filling you in on last night’s adventures through mouthfuls of pie – and that’s Shane Warne. Just yer average bloke, but one good enough to play test cricket and be one of Wisden’s top five players of last century.

An Australian, and a Victorian to the core, he was forced to choose between Aussie Rules or Cricket careers early on, we were lucky he even chose the summer game at all – I suspect it was becuase there’s less fitness work (and let’s face it, cricket is not bad for playing on a hangover – depending on the toss, you’ve got a good chance of sitting in a darkened pavillion anyway). Warne drinks, smokes, eats shitty food, likes to bet, and has big problems keeping little Warney out of trouble. The game never changed him, but he changed it alright.

As Graham Thorpe observed last year in comparing the Australian with his statistical shadow Muttiah Muralitharan: “Warne was always varying the degree he spun the ball, while Murali generally just tried to spin the ball as much as he could.” – Gideon Haigh in the Guardian

It’s a shame that Warne won’t get to hold the world record for years and years as he deserves to – I could watch him bowl for five days. Of course his legend is such that his mere presence freaks batsmen out these days, just ask Cullinan or Craig MacMillian. The master sledger, Warne was always on form, always mesmerising, always dangerous. If the Aussies’ opposition were bowling first, you sensed they were pretty much poked, as Warne would get to bowl last on a cut up pitch – but at least you’d get to watch him do it.

I first heard of leg spin bowling as a young fella by reading about it in one of boring old Geoff Boycott’s books, but had never seen anyone actually do it in the flesh. Go down to the beach or park later, and see how many kids are bowling leg spin now – Cricket’s never going to be the same.

Links on Friday

Office Supplies Trebuchet – might as well do SOMETHING today before heading to the pub
Grammar Quiz – 100% for me, beat that!
Chainsaw wake up – Parenting at its best
The Wilhlem Scream – film geekery, move along
Project Manager Leaves Suicide PowerPoint Presentation – Har, scary thing is I can imagine it happening – can’t not have a zombie link

That’s SO 2006! – Watching / Listening

It’s time to round up 2006. I’m going to talk about the stuff I read, watched, listened to, and the sporting moments I enjoyed the most this year. This kind of post is pretty much why people write blogs off as navel gazing. Yeah, I know, but it’s FUN, hey?

I watched 62 movies this year – 19 at the movies (Yes, I keep a list and the nerdometer has just exploded). Here’s my top ten, again, this is for films I saw in 2006.

10. Metallica – Some Kind Of Monster Too many funny bits – the psychiatrist’s interesting knitwear choices, Dave Mustaine’s venting, Lars saying anything… it made me want to be in a band
9. Enron: Smartest Guys In The Room Those ASSHOLES!
8. Primer Time travel with a couple of very smart geeks, well worth tracking down
7. Little Fish First of three Aussie films in my list – fantastic performances from everyone in a pitch black story. And where did that 21 Jump St guy come from?
6. Candy Another bleak Aussie druggy movie
5. Match Point Urban brit horror that makes you squirm and scream ‘don’t do it!’
4. Brokeback Mountain Heath Ledger again – he can really act
3. Thank You For Smoking So many quotable lines
2. Kenny If you’re a fan of the Aussies’ colorful way with words (“That’s as silly as a bum full of smarties”, “Have you ever seen a dog have a crap? It’s like he’s trying to root a cricket ball”, “What, do you think everyone that works on Virgin Airlines is a Virgin too?”, you have to see Kenny
1. Sione’s Wedding More fantastic dialogue from the extremely talented Oscar Knightly in a tale about the importance of yer mates. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, etc, and he made Auckland (and even Grey Lynn) look so pretty.

Bonus list: Listening in 2006
I bought a pathetic amount of new music this year, being a) too cheap and b) more interested in buying older LPs and the like, but mostly, it was being a) too cheap. For the record, my fav 2006 album I enjoyed the most was Samuel Flynn Scott’s The Hunt Brings Us Together. Here’s what I’ve been listening to, though:

Top Ten most played on iTunes
1. In My Life – The Beatles
2. Do You Realise? (Acoustic KCRW) – Beck
3. Strawberry Fields Forever – The Beatles
4. Drink To Moving On – Grand National
5. Ziggy Stardust – David Bowie
6. Golden Dawn – Golden Horse
7. Real Love – John Lennon
8. Sing It Again – Beck
9. Talk Amongst Yourselves – Grand National
10. Dark As A Dungeon – Sparklehorse

That’s SO 2006! – Reading

It’s time to round up 2006. I’m going to talk about the stuff I read, watched, listened to, and the sporting moments I enjoyed the most this year. This kind of post is pretty much why people write blogs off as navel gazing. Yeah, I know, but it’s FUN, hey?

I read a pathetic 19 books this year, here’s my top 5. They’re not all new books, but I read them in 2006, so they go on my list – geddit?

5. Kitchen Confidential / A Cook’s Tour – Anthony Bourdain.
Probably the coolest guy in the world – writes how he talks, and is really funny. I love reading about garlic and knives, and picked up a few tips about cooking for nothing. I loved the chapter about his trip back to France with his brother, and was extremly jealous of his Mexican feast.

4. Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs – Chuck Klosterman.
Klosterman reminds me of the two guys in Human Traffic talking about how Yoda was a stoner (hence the reason he had the power and spoke back to front)… not that that’s a bad thing. Chuck is the US indie kids’ darling right now and in these essays, he comes across like a neurotic first year arts student with a wardrobe of alphabetically arranged band t-shirts. That’s not necessarily a bad thing (ahem), but I’d like him to lighten up a bit. He can really write, and I particularly enjoyed the essay about his trip to see a Guns n Roses tribute band play.

3. Southern Style – Craig Marriner.
I always thought there was a really good book to be written about the Antipodean UK experience – I’m not sure this is it, but it’s bloody close. The ‘Tri-nations’ characters are all utterly believable, with a few cockney wide boys and random gangsters thrown in for good measure. From his detailed knowledge of the London party scene, and the rock and roll bio, you’d say Marriner’s done some serious time in pubs, bars and dive-y flats around the world, and made his dirty London really come alive. I really enjoyed Southern Style, and just felt it was a little long in places – it’s a very DENSE read. I’m definitely tracking down Stone Dogs, his first novel over the hols, though.

2. Departure Lounge / Electric – Chad Taylor.
Chad Taylor fuckin ROCKS, his Auckland is dark and humid, where shady characters lurk in the Westhaven Marina, or the Stanley Street gully. Mt Hobson, K Road nightclubs and art galleries, and even the Chelsea sugar works feature in these books, almost always at night, and I was thrilled every time these places were mentioned. These are the best Auckland books I’ve read, evoking the beauty this town offers, but making it dangerous and cool, too.

1. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay – Michael Chabon.
This is a fantastic book (thanks Mum!). It is the story of Joe Kavalier’s escape from WWII Prague to New York, where he and his cousin Sam Clay create a comic book super hero. The Escapist becomes a huge smash, and we follow their rise to stardom, as they meet Orson Welles, Salvador Dali, and Stan Lee, amongst others, as they find fame and (some) fortune, until America enters the war and it all starts to unravel. This is a bit of an epic (over 600 pages), and a fantastic, ripping yarn. Very highly recommended.

Recommended: A year in Provence – Peter Mayle, Underworld – Don Delillo, The Life Of Pi – Yaan Martel, The Liar’s Club – Mary Karr
Meh: Lunar Park – Brett Easton Ellis, John – Cynthia Lennon

Bonus list: Top three meals

3. Pork Belly @ Craggy Range, Napier. Crackling.

2. Roast Beef Yorkshire Pud @ Earl Spencer Pub, Southfields. Rare.

1. Fish and Chips @ Terrace restaurant whose name I’ve forgotten, Bol, Croatia. Salt and Garlic.

It’s funny ‘cos it’s true…

Great cartoon from Tom Scott. Maybe I’m a big turncoat, but I’m finding it hard to get too excited about NZ v Sri Lanka. Our boys produced a Bewilderingly Spineless Collapse (TM) in the first innings, and effectively stuffed their chances, but here’s why I’m not too bothered:

a) The (usually) shite weather we get in December these days means it’s too early for Test Cricket. It’s like playing rugby in March. Hang on… Ideally, Cricket is meant to be enjoyed under holiday conditions, sitting IN THE SUN on a grass bank, without worrying about work the next day – hey, if you want to drink 16 beers and get pushed around the boundary in a shopping cart, go right ahead, you’ve earned it. It’s no co-incidence my cricket-watching prime was when I was either a student, unemployed, or aged 8-15.

b) It’s the last weekend before the Xmas break – New Zealanders are either getting pissed with their extended family, then getting very sleepy, or heading to a farkin shopping mall to max out the last credit card

c) the Ashes is making our offering look very poor indeed in comparrison. My advice: don’t sweat NZ v Sri Lanka, and get ready for the humid evenings watching the Benson + Hedges VB Commonwealth Bank Series from Australia on the box instead.

Links on Friday

Breaking News:Today’s Spurs v Bucharest Uefa Cup goals are on this page (Needs Quicktime and a minute or two to load). Class goal from Berbatov, who can’t stop scoring at the moment. I love him.
Top 10 Matt Le Tissier goals. Should have come to Spurs and been the next Hoddle. Typically, he was hardly picked for England when they could have built a team around him.
UK Graffiti prankster Banksy hits New York’s museums.
My Aussie Cricket cartoon – don’t forget to re-size if it looks small and funny, like David Boon.
Star Trek Inspirational Posters. Beat procrastination with Kirky + the chaps.

Mark Nicholas’ Australian Love Affair

This guy is not my favorite commentator. Plummy Englishman Nicholas has been handed a golden opportunity to meet the Channel 9 Commentary Team on their own turf and give them some shit, but has morphed tragically into Australia’s #1 fan.

I decided to graph his comments in typical half hour period of commentary that were:

A. Embarrassingly eager crawling up Australian backsides, and
B. Everything Else

He made 16 comments during the test period, here’s the results:

Time on air – 30 mins
Score – Australia went from 3/99 to 4/125, losing Clarke
Overs – 7
Suckarse comment / minute ratio – 0.26

It’s not pretty is it? He must be hiding something big.

And Australian.

Nice finish

Paola Di Canio scores a very nice goal in training – imagine living in a country where practice goals are shown on the telly.

The best bit about going to Premiership games was getting there early and watching the pros warm up – some of the tricks they casually pulled out when the pressure was off were just magic. It was just like a kickabout at the park, and unlike in the game itself, you could tell they were ACTUALLY HAVING FUN. Bless.

My best memory is sitting in the Park Lane stand at White Hart Lane with my mate waiting for Spurs v Chelsea to get underway. Chelsea were warming up in front of us Tottenham fans, and as kick off approached they sauntered one by one back to the dressing room. Gianfranco Zola stayed behind to practice free kicks, and lined one up from outside the box – and hit the crossbar. He lined up another – and hit the crossbar again, in pretty much the same spot, and we all cheered. That thick Sardinian eyebrow frowned, and he took one more – it flew neatly into the very top corner, just like he knew it would. We cheered again, while wishing he played for Spurs. Zola just gave us a smile and the thumbs up, and trotted back to the shed.

Flying Nun contest

Russell Brown is having a Flying Nun Moments contest on Public Address System. Har – did you ever spend ages remembering and writing about your fun-filled FN memories and then forget to proof read it before you posted it on a really happening forum read by a whole lot of people you admire? Me too. I even left out the one about meeting Hamish, the Sale of the Century / Mastermind winner at a Garageland show in London. Damn.
Here’s mine:

1. Getting Alister Parker to sign my Swervedriver T-shirt after Bailter Space played Gurus. He thought it was funny, I thought he’d had definitely had one or two whiskeys.
2. 3Ds at Ward Lane Tavern – a great band at a great venue.
3. King Loser supporting the Verlaines in the Lounge Bar at Mount Maunganui Tavern. Bizzare venue, but we did get to play air hockey between sets.
4. Driving up to the 10th anniversary concert @ the Powerstation. I got a really cool (actually shit) hooded long sleeve t-shirt that I then wore every day for the next year.
5. Dave Yetton offering the crowd beers at a JPSE show at the Riv. Me mate yelled “WHAT A WANKER” when we missed out, and Dave totally got the wrong end of the stick. (sorry Dave, I loved ‘Blow Out Your Candles’, though)
6. Bailter Space at the Riv. We showed up at about 9.30 to see them already on stage. Luckily they were only sound checking, and they didn’t come on til at least 12. Rock n Roll eh.
7. Going to see JPSE at the Hilly, and getting booted out for being underage before they’d even played a note. Real sickener.
8. Going to see Straightjacket Fits at the Hilly the week of the “eye-gouge” Waikato v Otago NPC final, and Shayne Carter hassling John Mitchell for being bald, which caused Flying Nun cool kid / Mighty Mooloo Man identity crisis for weeks afterward.
9. Seeing Snapper at Oranga, and thinking they were the loudest band I’ve ever seen.
10. My friend and I racing home from school on our bikes to listen to his brother’s DoubleHappys Needles and Plastic EP – then leaving it on the record player in the sun. Cue irreparable warpage, and World War feckin Three when he found it. I always felt really guilty about wrecking a pretty rare bit of vinyl, and almost bought him the re-issued CD… I’m sure he’s over it now.

Mmmmm Coffee

Dethroner is one of my favorite blogs at the moment. Blogger Joel has a theme every week, with manly topics like beer, danger, and fighting jostling for space with the men’s fashion advice. This week it’s coffee, and he’s got an expert in to guest blog – it should be an interesting and informative week.

I DO love coffee, like many Kiwis. At home, I have a stove top to really get those jitters happening, and when I’m out, I like Allpress, which is served at loads of Auckland cafes (Velo is great, too). Me and my girl even got a cup of Allpress to go with our hot chips at the Bethell’s Beach pie cart thing after a day’s lazing in the sun. Probably my fav cup of coffee ever.