Hard News by Russell Brown

117

Wild is the Weekend

We experienced no real storm damage around our way on Saturday, although there was always something intense and ominous in the roiling air outside. The forecasts had predicted a deepening of the weather from the north, through till midnight, but it became clear that the storm had peaked around dusk.

It seemed a perfect day not to leave the property, so I didn't. I had recovering to do anyway, after a few birthday drinks (and eats: I am emphatic about feeding people) gave way, as usual, to a cast of happy idiots bullshitting to each out until the deck until the patio heater died; and then to an adventure out to The Turnaround, because I still love to dance when it's late sometimes. It was a long and thoroughly good night spent with friends.

So I sat around after a good sleep the next day reading part two of the Herald's exclusive investigation Why Is John Key So Freaking Amazing?, which actually proved to be so turgid I had to give up and take to looking out the window.

As luck would have it, my old friend Richard Simpson was in town with the Christchurch-based Airways Corporation team that picked up a couple of Computerworld Excellence Awards on the Friday night, so he came around on Saturday and we set eyes on each other for the first time in 27 years. He's still a really nice guy, and we'll stay in touch.

Later on, after lamb and lentil stew, we watched an Alastair Cooke documentary I'd downloaded -- I hadn't appreciated what a rake he'd been as a younger man -- then Weeds, before settling in for … well, the worst All Black performance I'd witnessed in a long, long time. It was inept.

The fact that the New Zealand team could play so poorly and yet be leading with 25 minutes to play -- and later be denied the lead again when the officials inexplicably failed to award a penalty try -- doesn't speak all that well of the Australian team either. The Australians certainly exploited the All Black weaknesses well, and had a vastly better loose forward trio.

Mind you, our coaches brought on a loose forward who should never play for the All Blacks again. As Paul Waite put it over at Haka:

Sione Lauaki. Ah, bless his cotton socks. His endless muppetry during the time he bumbled about on the pitch was an embarrassment to the Black Jersey, and his turn-overs cost his team any chance it might have had of regaining momentum. At times it was so bad I wanted to avert my eyes, but the horror show kept drawing them back. I was at once fascinated and appalled to watch him pick up the ball from the back of a dominant scrum, and then rumble his massive behemoth form up the side of it only to encounter halfback Burgess coming at him and ... be driven backwards. Not only does Lauaki not know how to hold the ball securely, and not only does he fail to read the game, or make tackles, or know what his team-mates are doing - he doesn't even know how to be heavy!

Then of course there was the 'try' Elsom scored. Good on Rocky, he had a fine game. But a speedy slicer and dicer of defences he is not. Of course when faced by a player looking as large, dynamic and vital as a terracotta warrior, he does appear to be bloody quick and nimble. The replays which showed Lauaki's half-hearted jog, vaguely in the direction of Elsom, or at least where he had been half an hour before, brought tears to my eyes.

Paul and I and others from our little rugby mailing list will be attending the return match together this weekend at Eden Park. It had better be a bloody improvement.

On Sunday, the Star Times carried yet another manipulative ad in favour of "Parents assaulted: with bogus smacking convictions"

Three of the five cases listed this time certainly don't speak of "good" parenting: a father alleged to have hit his five year-old daughter in the head (he acknowledged "pushing" her to "get her in a hurry for school"); a father, while driving, alleged by a member of the public to have punched his 12 year-old daughter several times as she sat in the passenger seat (he said he only "shoved her on the upper arm"); a grandfather who tipped a child out of a beanbag to "get him moving".

Another case -- that of a stepfather interviewed (but never charged) after a complaint from his stepdaughter's natural father -- misstates the law, which specifically provides for children to be restrained for their own and others' safety; and the last is an access dispute, not involving the police, of the kind which was happening long before the repeal of Section 59.

Most notably, none of these involve "smacking". Even in the unreliable, minimising language Family First employs in its ads, it's all adults knocking kids around in one way or another. You might argue that these people need some help as parents, but it's you cannot seriously claim it to be "good" parenting -- or that it's no one else's business when kids get knocked around.

After hearing Rob O'Neill talk about it on Finlay Macdonald's Radio Live show, I read up on the DNS exploit now in the wild, checked my connection and was relieved to see Vodafone had applied the patch. You might also wish to check your status here.

Later, we all went to see The Dark Knight, which explored the classic question of whether Batman is a hero or just another urban pathology. The starring role, of course, was that of the villain. I had thought the posthumous-Oscar-for-Heath-Ledger movement was just sentiment. Now, I think it might well be deserved.

PS: During Friday night's shenanigans I popped into the lounge (where the sensible people were sitting by the fire) and was quickly able to determine that The Jacquie Jaquie Brown Diaries works -- it really works! I watched the whole thing again the next day, just to be sure, and yes, it pulled off a kind of comedy that could have failed horribly. I'm a fan already.

PPS: We have an interesting panel lined up to discuss the relevance of NBR's Rich List on Media7 tomorrow: NBR editor Nevil Gibson, Laila Harre, and Bridget Saunders. We have a group of students coming down for the afternoon recording (about 2pm, I think), but I can probably squeeze in a couple of PA punters, so drop me a line if you'd like to come.

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