Thursday, November 11, 2010

All Black #1109?

Last night I had a dream. It wasn't about living in a nation where my four future children were judged by the content of their character, but it was relevant to the state of this nation's sporting missus, rugby.

The contents at their most vivid are now hazy, but let me enlighten those who want a touch of bemusement this Friday.
Graham Henry had named me on the bench in this weekend's test against Scotland...being played at Wembley Stadium.

I cannot tell you how pumped I was. My dad was proud, I'd made history by being the first female to be named in the mighty team, people, people were talking. I somehow became shy and started seeking advice from Ian Jones. He told me to call him Kamo. That part was weird.

How did I get named? Turns out I'm big enough to play at international level in the second five spot, despite retaining my 59kg, 5'4" stats in dream world. Nonu had popped his achilles, and when confronted by the media (on a school rugby field no less), Henry was quoted as saying "Nonu is out, Williams is having a baby, and I certainly can't take the field- chortle chortle- Morris has been playing outstandingly lately, and we feel that she is the best person to take the bench despite being a female." I would have thought this type of approach to winning might fly in the current state of cricket, but to have my conscience whip it out for code? Crikey.

But oh how the media loved it everyone! The NZ Herald was knocking on my door, had it splashed across the homepage, One News all of a sudden had recruited Summerfield and he was backing me 100% despite substantial doubt across the rugby world.
I was the new Stephen Donald you might say.

Cut to the changing rooms. Everyone was present apart from McCaw. We were all sitting around. All of a sudden I was (and I can't lie here, I have to be honest) checking out the All Blacks. Now, admittedly I am someone who has picked her Fantasy Rugby team based on looks. But that was when I was stupid and wanted to be controversial when I worked in a warehouse with 8 males, and was interested in rugby for superficial reasons. Nowadays Kieran Read and Tony Woodcock have as much respect from this little ginger neck of the woods as former France fullback Xavier Garbajosa. Does anyone remember him? He played in the 1999 World Cup. Oh, that's right, that year is banished from ever New Zealander's life. Never happened. You can't even get a tax return from that financial year.

You may as well be calling your peer a cotton headed ninny muggins when you bring up '99. Or 'nam, as an aside.

Anyway, the dream. All of a sudden management walks in to the changing rooms. I get excited, we're about to be given our jerseys! We're taking the field soon! I start thinking that I don't even care if I take the field or not (my size and real world a) lack of rugby experience and b) anatomical differences are catching up with me fast). I plan on donating my jersey to a helicopter rescue place (non-descript in the dream). Richie McCaw starts giving the tactical plan for the game. I sit comfortably in my boyfriend's blue jersey knowing that any minute it's getting ditched for a shiny new black clima-cool number.

Then ol' cappie names the team again. As if we didn't know. I almost tune out since we've ben told who makes up the haka pod. This ritual is obviously just another chance to pat yourself on the back for being ruddy amazing, almost deifying yourself for donning the jersey. I then realise everyone's looking at me.

I've been dropped from the bench. Nonu's back. I slip out quietly to have a cry in the stalls. Henry can't look at me in the eye. I'm no deity today.

Graham then finds me and starts justifying my dropping. I can't quite recall the details, but I do remember him saying something about me being able to join the Black Ferns.

Ah, no thanks G. Tempting, but I will pass. I'd get absoutely dominated in that arena. I might be an amazing rugby player that transcends gender, but I'm not after a death sentence.
Until next time!


Monday, October 25, 2010

Conducting Yourself on Facebook: What NOT To Do

Observations have been made about Facebook etiquette lately. Or lack of.

It can be quite cringeworthy really at times. You don't need to be a high quantity user of Facebook to notice these trends, merely a homepage/quick photo checker then out again weekly, or like me, sometimes daily, sometimes 10 times daily, sometimes once a week...ok, erratic.

Some days I vow to shut that bad boy down, others I think it's brilliant.

Here are a few reasons why Facebook is not brilliant at times, people showing their true colours, lack of diplomacy, evident rudeness/busybody nature, or fly by night approach to acquaintances via this social medium.

        On a personal level, admittedly there is the tendency to think I am super funny when browsing friends albums and make ridiculous comments that sound hilarious in my head with the tone, intended pauses etc that are clearly never going to be clear under a photo unless that person knows you so well that they know how you would articulate your comment should it be out loud.

        A day later I re-read in another person's shoes and cringe at myself.

        Telling myself that I am a dick is my usual response.

        To the (now classic, despite it being what? Five years old and the premise for a Hollywood movie. Crikey) faux pas of Facebook (NB: this list is by no means exhaustive):

        The 'one up' comment:

            When commenting on a photo of a 'friend' of yours on safari in Africa holding a baby rhino, don't one up them by briefly regaling the world with your own experience of observing a rhino calf being born and getting to swaddle it etc etc. Let your 'friend' have their day in the sun for goodness sake. You can upload photos of said swaddling experience to your own profile and get the attention then.

            Similarly, when viewing photos of Marj and Jeremy in India, judge the level of your excitement noted carefully- it is one thing to share in a mutual 'find' of another country, but don't use the photo as a platform to tell us that you too have been to all these places. We either already know because we know you, or we don't care because we don't know you.

          Pregnancy is exciting for everyone going through it, or knowing someone close to them enjoying motherhood. If the world has just welcomed baby Fiona Mary Jones, 8lb 8 at 9am this morning, please don't hastily say Congratulations! and follow it with 4 lines on how your boy Robert is now walking. Again, you have your own 354 friends to share that moment with, let the new mum have her moment.

          Weddings are about the couple in the album getting married. Yes you had a fantastic day, but the only bride that should be told how beautiful she looked is the one who features in the album on which you are commenting. Not yourself.

          Examples of the mundane conversation starter status:

          • Laura Morris is hungry.
          • Laura Morris is tired.
          • Laura Morris is bored.
          • Laura Morris is off for a run.

          All solveable problems believe it or not. Perhaps less energy on Facebook, more time carrying out said tasks and solving said hunger/fatigue/boredom issues.

          Unless of course the following are the actual meanings of your status above (in same order):

          • Laura Morris is on a diet and fishing for 'don't give in you look so great' responses, or even a 'Jane Smith Likes This' because Jane Smith swears by crash dieting and condones hunger.
          • Laura Morris was seen on the Social Pages of the Sunday Star Times or '' this morning so everyone will know she was out painting the town red last night.
          • Laura Morris hasn't had an invitation for any kind of outing and would like one please.
          • Laura Morris is fit/attempting to get fit/wanting to convey the image of being fit to cyberspace.
          Examples of 'fishing' with responses that may seem caring, but be warned! It's just nosiness. Remember, if responders have merely noted on your status as opposed to picking up the phone when your status suggests depression or a cry for help, it's not a good indication that they're going to ring, bring around a casserole, block of chocolate, wine, beer or adult video to cheer you up:

          • Laura Morris is sad :( ('oh no, what's up?'/'what's wrong'/'it will get better, you can always ring me if you need to'/'I was sad the other day')
          • Laura Morris is happier. ('what was up hun?'/'great news! what was wrong?')
          • Laura Morris is giving up on it all. ('oh no! that's no good'/I know how you feel!/oh, that's rubbish news, hope you feel better).
          Of course what I will admit is that the flipside of status/photo behaviour on Facebook can also aid the (now cliched) Tall Poppy problem. I LOVE seeing status updates that are moments of celebration and having pride in an achievement (within reason...word it well people, word it well), and honestly, if people feel more comfortable saying they've completed the Boston Marathon and either choosing or not choosing to publish a time than pick up the phone or wait until the family ramble goes out with the Christmas cards, then go for it!

          I'll monitor this closely. I'll report back. I would also love to hear your favourite Facebook whinges. When this kind of gig becomes ubiquitous in such a short period of time, it's the perfect opportunity to get some human nature observations cranking.

          Until next time!


      Sunday, October 17, 2010

      Last Chance Saloon: Stephen Donald

      My flatmates, and consequently, my brother are the latest beings to jump on me and my pro-Stephen Donald thoughts. Yes Aaron Small, I continue to be outnumbered.

      So when, at 6.40pm last night, the majority of the nation heard that he was once more an All Black, I was fairly Chesire-ish in my expression.

      Forgive me for lack of technical knowledge once again when it comes to rugby, but the opinion from the Whisky Bar is what I hope can be perceived as a 'supportive considered positive stance with just a hint of healthy cynicism'...

      Donald's place on the 30 man squad to the Northern Hemisphere is his last chance. Given that Cruden and Slade have definitely made their names known within the NZRFU and the AB coaching circles, there are no prizes for half-arsed performances.

      Donald fell into a slump, a bigger slump than the rest of the team when he was last in black. And the expectation of an All Black is to constantly have the highest level of self-esteem, the utmost confidence, almost flawless performances. And you know what? Fair call. We want to win. Most of the time we do. At the risk of melodramatising losses, four million people suffer when 15 men adorned with a Silver Fern lose. But what is wrong with acknowledging a loss of confidence in one's self? Is it because Pine Tree would never do that? Is it because it's weird when guys start admitting they're not invincible? I think it's brilliant that Donald did what he did, and I also feel strongly that it's a bit rubbish he was out there on his own doing so, although, a crumb of kudos to Henry for stating in today's NZ Herald this:

      "I felt for him because he went through a bad patch last year when we did as a team," Henry said. "But he has played the best he has ever played recently."
      In an interview last year with NZ Rugby, Donald openly spoke about acknowledging his rut. Graham Henry relegated Donald to 1st Class, but has stayed in touch, and they have both been working on what points needed developing in his game. Whether that is a gritty determination on Donald's part, Henry and Smith believing there is more for us to see, or, dare I say it, a consolation prize for Donald so that he does have one more chance remains to be clarified. Donald's determination has obviously paid off in the selectors' eyes, but the cynic in me, lying just under the support of Donald, thinks that Henry sees this tour as a preliminary gig, and knows that if Donald isn't up to par, then Slade and Cruden remain available and willing for the World Cup.

      Also concerning is Daniel Carter's surgery rendering him at the mercy of his specialist. The selectors have claimed the size of the squad to be tight in terms of travel, and yet have gambled on Carter being cleared to play. This leaves Donald as the first five eighth for the team. I don't want to go all soft and say it would be nice to ease Donald into the position, because I think it is a valid point to have the expectation that a player steps up immediately. What is irksome about the potential outcome is that if Donald succumbs to pressure and has a rubbish game, then New Zealand once more starts stoning the poor man. Ideally, Carter would start with Donald coming on at 55, 60 minutes, or Donald starting with a guaranteed 1st half stint and Carter running on after a wedge of orange and some Powerade.

      If it was purely on betting whether Donald would ever be an All Black again after the last innings he had, I certainly would be the cat that got the cream today. To an extent, I am, but due to believing this outcome would be, I also believe Donald can do it.
      Call it stubbornly backing the underdog if you will. It's not that I doubt him, I just know that he has crumbled before, by his own admission. Further to that though, everyone needs a scape goat, especially the All Black camp (and I don't necessarily mean the camp comes forward with a goat to justify a bad run, they're forced by media and by over zealous kiwis to produce one).

      In this game where tactical planning, communication and the stance of every player's psyche aren't always evident, the poor kicking of a No.10, particularly that of Donald, is something that every person watching a game can identify and blame.

      In short, whoop whoop for Stephen Donald, and best of luck from one of the 2 in 10 people in New Zealand who are absolutely stoked for you.

      PS. Fruean and Weepu, commiserations for very different reasons. 4 years ago, Weepu deserved to be dropped. Today, he does not deserve to be having an ankle bone put back into his leg and hanging out in plaster. I also expect someone is writing the same type of article as I have above in Andy Ellis' defence/praise of return...I'm just saying here that it certainly won't be me.

      Monday, October 11, 2010

      Shame, shame, shame.

      For the last...oh year now, I've been meaning to post another, well, post up here at my Whisky Bar. Relocating, life in general, living the good life and returning to print media has enabled me to procrastinate.

      Timely then, that it is the media (and as it happens Ali Booth's and Eugene Dupain's kind words) that has finally had me go from tipping point to beating procrastination, jumping on the bandwagon and writing about, yes, Paul Henry.

      I think the important thing when incidents like this occur is to try and separate emotion from argument: Paul Henry wasn't being emotional when he made those comments, he was rambling. It's easy to have an opinion, but take your opinion from the equation and it can be an interesting thought process.

      The number of Facebook groups that have cropped up with Save Paul this and Bring Back Paul that and Boycott Breakfast etc etc must be heartening to Paul, if he in fact cares at this point in time. While it's a shame emotion drives people to comment rather than thinking, or at least attempting to think, objectively, I think it speaks volumes that the Paul Henry case is just the latest in what seems to be an ongoing saga of closest narcissists successfully bringing down someone who dares to push the envelope, who is unashamedly human with sometimes completely outrageous and against the grain views, someone who, overall, love him or hate him, did his job very well.

      Ok, so my use of the word narcissists may or may not place me in the same non-objective group, and Paul Henry displays those tendencies as well, but unless you are the picture or piety, even if you are, you're human. You indulge every now and then. But alas, here is what I think, me, just one person, in a nation of circa 4 million:

      1. The media (used here on in as a general term purposefully) have turned their back on one of their own in order to sell, gain ratings, and be part of a witch hunt. It's like we've travelled back to a place where religion dominates and if one doesn't agree or dares to be different they're burnt at the stake!

      2. The media have capitalised on the fact that a little bit of knowledge is dangerous for the majority of people who take news items purely at face value. They also are very aware that people who are advocates for any kind of group/belief/stance will have the loudest voices, though not necessarily represent the vast majority of opinion.

      3. The media are just as small minded. Three pages, the first three pages no less of the New Zealand Herald one day last week were full of Henry related news. It's a vicious cycle! I'm all for knowing about national news, but current affairs globally do also have a relatively high level of importance. Dare I say it, a little more important than a radical news anchor. Further to the three pages of news on the affair, it is worth noting the following:

      i.Paul Henry has worked in some devastating areas with World Vision.

      ii.He has worked as a foreign correspondent in conflict areas of the world. He has seen some appalling human behaviour. Such behaviour that would put misplaced comments at the back of anyone's mind.

      iii.Henry travelled to the Republic of Congo to search for a New Zealand hostage. Anyone who researches merely by typing in Google "jungles of Congo" will read about terrorists and militia that frequented those joints.

      4. Paul Henry said things that were wrong to say on public television watched by thousands of all walks of life. Fact. They were comments of a racist nature and were inappropriate. Fact. But Paul Henry is also the kind of person who, despite making/because he made outrageous calls, did his job above par. Made people smile. Made people wet their pants with laughter. Forced politicians to answer directly. Showed that he had no time for people that behave cold heartedly. But most importantly, the reason why Paul Henry made outrageous comments about others is because he knew full well he could laugh at himself. He knows what people think of him from one end of the spectrum to the other. I ask you this- if you are well educated, have enriching life experience, and can laugh at yourself as well as accept that others are going to laugh at you or disagree with your points of view, then aren't you the best kind of person to spark debate, make others think, make people stand up for what they believe in as opposed to pig-headedly bringing others down purely because they don't conform to what some people believe to be acceptable?

      5. Paul Henry is a middle class white guy. Middle class white people make ridiculous comments that are thoughtless. Is this an exclusive generalisation? Of course not! Regardless of who you are, your ethnicity, your beliefs, there is no excuse for it. But when have middle class white people ever been the subject of racial ridicule? When Carthage was a world power?! When travelling to places like Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia, India, middle white class people may be stared at, pointed at, laughed at. Not to be ridiculed, but out of intrigue. The study of other humans that don't fit what you deem to be 'normal' is intriguing business.

      6. There are people around the world who thrive on protesting, arguing, bringing people down, smugly enjoying the falling of one's reputation. It's hard to stomach the thought, but it is true.

      I might be wrong about it all, but it is one opinion here, one set of thoughts. If Paul Henry turns out to be an openly proud racist bigot, I'll admit I was wrong and eat my hat.

      See you later!

      PS. From Paul Henry's diary in Tibet, and fitting I might add for the current news:

      In order to expedite the scribing of my daily mytherings I have created, and intend to patent a very clever and never before thought of scale. On my scale of 1 to 10, 1 is always shit and 10 is always marvellous, thus 5 becomes the average state of mind for a very dull but painfully satisfied human being. (Please God never let me be a 5).

      Diary quote from:

      Think this is a dram worth recommending?