The things I’m loving right now … and the things I’m not

14 04 2011

I’ll be the first to admit that I have pretty selective tastes. I’m a self described geek who loves sports. I’m a gamer who loves to read. And I’m obsessed with television. So I present to you the things I’m loving right now … and the the things I’m not.

The things I’m loving right now:

Northlanders – For as long as I can remember I’ve loved vikings. I love the mythology, I love the imagery, I even love their names. When I was a kid I used to draw norse longboats in the margins of my school notebooks. I even (sadly) went and saw the monstrosity that is Erik the Viking (shudder). And of course I love comics and Brian Wood comics in particular. So Brian Wood’s Northlanders is the perfect product for me. Northlanders consists of short stories set within the breadth of viking history. Sure there are multi part stories but for the most part they are unconnected to one another. This style of writing suits Brian Wood. While I feel that DMZ has lost its way a bit over the course of its 60 odd issues (though I still love it), Northlanders gives us succinct tales that have a real bite.  The latest arc is about a horde of vikings beseiging Paris and comes across as a short form graphic version of Joe Abercrombie. That’s a good thing. My favourite story would be the 8 issues of the Plague Widow arc. Good (if bleak) stuff.

Mad Men – Kirsty and I have always loved Mad Men. There’s just so much to love – the writing is brilliant, the characters are deliciously flawed, the setting is a stylish nirvana for design geeks and it’s set in an ad agency. In a word it’s awesome. Season 4 has featured Don falling apart in an alcoholic fugue, stumbling from one alcohol fueled disaster to the next. He might be a creative genius but that doesn’t mean he’s smart. He has become awfully uncomfortable to watch but that’s okay as the surrounding characters have become the true stars. Peggy and Pete Campbell have become my favourites. Peggy’s recent scene where she was stuck with an art director for days who could not come up with ideas reminded me (sadly) of my own experiences. But the true scene stealer is Don’s new aged secretary Mrs Blankenship – she’s LOL every time she’s on screen, just punishment for Don for sleeping with his last secretary.

A Song of Ice and Fire – I’ve been rereading George RR Martin’s epic masterpiece, partly in preparation for the HBO series, a Game of Thrones (see below), partly because there is finally an official publication date for a Dance with Dragons (yay) and partly just because it is so fucking awesome. I honestly think that this is my favourite series of novels. In the Game of Thrones you can definitely tell that Martin was a television writer. There is an economy in his writing that comes from scriptwriting 101 – he gets in to scenes as late as possible, and leaves at just the right moment. In the early books at least there is a brevity and breathless energy in his writing and while by A Feast For Crows the story does feel somewhat bloated, there is always a sense that Martin knows exactly where this story is going. I’m part way through A Clash of Kings and I’m loving every page, every character and every story.

The things I’m not loving right now:

No Adventures of Merlin, No Game of Thrones and No Walking Dead – Living in NZ sometimes feels like living in a television ghetto. We hear of these great shows and sometimes we even get to see a season (in the case of Adventures of Merlin), or we read endless previews and begin to salivate, longing for the moment that we’ll get a chance to enjoy them as well. Then, in a decision that surprises no one, the powers-that-be decide “nah, no one will watch that” and we don’t get it. Or worse, they simply forget to put the next season on. The three shows that have me worked up at the moment: The Adventures of Merlin, Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. We know that tvnz have The Walking Dead but when are they going to screen it? It has been months and months since it screened overseas, but here? Nada. They’ll have screened the 2nd season in the US before we get this. At least we have had the first season of Adventures of Merlin but that was a couple of years ago, there have been two more seasons since. I suspect Prime have forgotten they have this. Idiots. And then that brings me to Game of Thrones. Which no network has bought to screen in NZ 😦 Sigh. I guess that’s what the internet is for.

Warriors Injuries – okay, injuries are a big part of the game but this is ridiculous. Our best player Manu Vatuvei out for half the season, our best attacking centre Jerome Ropati out for the season and now Glen Fisiiahi, the most exciting Warrior since Vatuvei, out for 6 weeks? That’s just shocking. You need ALL your players to compete week in week out, take out your attacking talent and how are we supposed to survive? Injuries, please stop, now.


double ouch

30 03 2009

Ouch! That result hurt, more so for losing Brent Tate for the season than for the 26 – 10 scoreline. It was apparent early on that the Warriors weren’t in it. They were flat and seemingly without inspiration. It seems that last weeks thriller against Manly in 30 degrees heat wiped them out. Next weeks game is on Sunday so they should be refreshed. The main question is who will play in the centres with Jerome Ropati? The most logical player is Simon Mannering but it wouldn’t surprise me to see Lance Hohaia there when he comes back from injury. Sure he’s undersized but they need to fit him into the team somewhere.

As for the Blues, for the second week in a row they were dreadful. No direction and no true playmaker. they concede too many tries – for a team with two premium All Blacks in Ali Williams and Kevin Mealamu that’s shocking. They were looking promising for a while there but I doubt they’re going to make the playoffs.

2009 = Year of the Warriors

23 03 2009

I have been telling people for months that this year is the Warriors year. Of course I have been secretly hoping that for the last decade and a half but other than a couple of notable exceptions (especially 2002 when they made the Grand Final), I never really absolutely believed they had a legitimate chance to win the title. This year I absolutely believe.

We have pace, power, skill and flair with a perfect blend of youth, (Russell Packer, Joel Moon, Manu Vatuvei etc) and experience (most notably the incomparable Steve Price and Stacey Jones). The Warriors also have arguably the best backline in the NRL: the back three of Wade MacKinnon, Vatuvei and Denan Kemp are a match for anyone, both our centres are world class while in Joel Moon we have one of the best offseason buys – especially when he is paired beside Jones and the ever steady Nathan Fien.  The forward pack is direct and strong with some solid defensive stars in Jacob Lillyman, Michael Luck and Simon Mannering. The one thing the forwards lack is a true ball player like Sonny Bill Williams or Ali Lautiti but they compensate in other ways.

The first two games of the season proved the Warriors are going to be a true force this year. They steam rolled the Parramatta Eels last week, only letting the Eels back into it when the first game of the year style mistakes crept in, while yesterday they outlasted the Manly Sea Eagles (the defending champions no less!) in Brookvale. The Manly victory was especially sweet as they beat us 4 times last year.

Despite the fact that it was riddled with mistakes (it seems that the two referee system is meaning a superfast game that all teams are struggling to adjust to – as evidenced by the numerous mistakes on both sides) the game was a true classic. It was only decided when the greatest Warrior of them all, Stacey Jones, took over the game in the final 10 minutes. Until that point he had been drifting, not making any mistakes but when he flicked the switch and set up Brent Tate with a chip and regather it was like the Stacey of old had returned. It was hard to believe he hadn’t played for the Warriors in over three years, even harder to believe that he hadn’t even played in 18 months! And then he provided the perfect bomb for the match winning try.

With Stacey Jones back and able to drift in and out of games until needed (as illustrated yesterday) the Warriors are truly dangerous. In the NBA players like Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce and Dwayne Wade are regarded as clutch because they take over games when they’re on the line. Jones is the Warriors clutch player and they’re going to be hard to stop as a result.

The one problem I see is the effect he will have on two other integral Warriors. It was noticeable to me that when Jones came on Nathan Fien became skittish. It’s understandable really, Jones has returned to take his spot and while Fien is a more than able hooker he had made the halfback jersey his own. It almost seemed that Fien tried too hard to replicate what Jones was doing when it is not his game. I hope he settles down. The other player is the super sub Lance Hohaia. Hohaia is the perfect game changer off the bench but with Jones back is there room for him, Fien and Hohaia? Or does Ian Henderson, the regular hooker, drop out? Hohaia is injured for another couple of weeks but it will be interesting to see what happens.

Bring on the Broncos next week!

domestic bliss?

29 09 2008

Kirsty and I had a big weekend around the home. We spent Sunday scrubbing down the walls of our bedroom with Exit Mould. We’re going to paint the room later this year but since we’ve both been ill a fair bit lately we decided to clean it up now. Now if you’ve ever used Exit Mould you’ll know it’s some pretty noxious stuff. It seems to destroy your ability to taste and smell for a few days afterwards. I use it every so often on our shower box so I’m used to it … or so I thought.

It cleaned up the walls alright BUT we miscalculated the lingering effect of the Exit Mould. The room stinks like a gas chamber. Both K and I have headaches today, even after airing the room all afternoon. We might have to shift our bed elsewhere in the house.

Oh yeah, you might also have noticed I’ve started posting some NBA season previews. I’m going to try and do a preview for every team in the NBA, starting with the Atlantic Division then the Northwest Division then the Central Division and so on. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for years so here’s my shot at it.

It gives me something to focus on after the evisceration that happened on Saturday night. Other than their goal kicking the Manly Sea Eagles played the perfect game of rugby league to destroy us 32 – 6. The New Zealand Warriors just weren’t allowed to play ball and suffered the consequences. Despite the final disappointing result the season was a success. To make it to the penultimate weekend is an achievement and if the new buys for next season (Denan Kemp and Joel Moon) continue to develop we have a good shot at making the Grand Final next year.

Warriors versus Sea Eagles preview

25 09 2008

The big question heading into Saturday night’s Preliminary Final between the Manly Sea Eagles and the NZ Warriors is whether the fairy tale will continue? Can the Warriors continue their stunning run through the NRL playoffs and reach their second Grand Final?

In many ways they have a better team than that 2002 model. Of course that 2002 team had the single greatest Warrior ever, Stacey Jones and numerous other attacking weapons like Ali Lautiti and Clinton Toopi but their defence was ropey and teams knew that if they could stay with the Warriors until the 60th minute there was a chance they could win. The 2008 Warriors on the other hand have proved their toughness and defensive expertise over the past 12 weeks, winning 10 including the historic upset over the defending champion Melbourne Storm.

As the season has gone on the Warriors have become a team you want to put away early. You don’t want them within striking distance as their defence, led by Michael Luck and Simon Mannering, is brutal and in Manu Vatuvei, Brent Tate, Jerome Ropati and Wade MacKinnon they possess some lethal finishers. Add to this their little guys led by Nathan Fien and brilliantly accentuated by Lance Hohaia, and the Warriors are a fearsome opponent.

The Manly Sea Eagles are a classy opponent and possess Matt Orford, the best player in the NRL this past season. They will be tough to beat. But this Warriors team has the feeling of a team of destiny. The game will be close and I’m half hoping/half expecting a thrilling come from behind victory.

Warriors by 2

awesome stuff

21 09 2008

Well that was awesome. The Warriors hammered the Roosters in the second half to win 30 – 13. I didn’t expect the game to end up being so one-sided especially after a first half which the Roosters dominated to end up leading 13 – 6. But the Warriors came out and scored 24 unanswered points and it’s them who will play the Manly Sea Eagles in next week’s preliminary final. Awesome stuff.

We’ve got a good shot at winning next week, we’ve won 10 out of 12 games plus we have Wade MacKinnon back from suspension. Manly beat us twice this year but we’re a better team now and I reckon its fifty fifty. Can’t wait!

Warriors versus Roosters preview

18 09 2008

Friday night’s NRL finals game between the NZ Warriors and the Sydney Roosters is going to be a cracker. The Warriors have won 9 of their last 11 including last week’s victory over the minor premiers and are a far cry from the rabble that started the season.

This isn’t the first time the Warriors have played the Roosters in the Finals. They met in 2002 in the Grand Final. Unfortunately the result didn’t suit us. The Roosters didn’t so much as win that game as obliterate us in it. Stacey Jones played superbly (he was at the height of his powers and arguably one of the top 3 players in the competition) and scored a sublime try just after half time to put us ahead but that seemed to wake up the Roosters and they ran over the top of us.

History is not going to repeat this week. The Warriors are playing winning football based around go forward from their impressive pack and the occasional burst of razzle dazzle from the likes of Manu Vatuvei and Jerome Ropati. The Warriors defence has improved markedly as well and it’s hard to believe they’re the same side that was leaking 40 or so points every week.

The one area where the Roosters shade us is in the halves but then it’s the same situation most weeks and the Warriors have just kept on winning.

Another big advantage is the Warriors playing at home. The game is a sell out and the crowd are probably worth a try or two in themselves.

Last week’s victory was the greatest in club history. This week’s victory won’t match that for drama and storylines but it will happen.

The Warriors by 8