Monday, October 4, 2010

Easy A Review.

I’d planned to retire from this blogging biz due to the fact that no one was reading my shit, however, since I figured out my boy Grant (formerly known as Dee) would be getting a link to this one I may as well write it up for his benefit.

As none of you there know, last Sunday arvo was NRL Grand Final afternoon. Generally this is a weekend I look forward to – as a die-hard Sharks supporter it usually involves me picking a bandwagon and riding it as hard as possible.

Not this year, however. You see, the 2010 edition of the Grand Final featured two of the teams I hate the most – the St Merge Drag Queens and the Easts (not Sydney, whatever Nick Politis’ ego may like to think) Cocks/Rorters/Rooters. The reasons to hate the Drag Queens are pretty obvious – my Sharks’ most hated rivals due to the geographical thing, plus since I live in the St George area these days it would be hell for the next few months if they won.

Then again, I also go to uni and work in the eastern suburbs, so a Cocks win wouldn’t be much of a benefit in that regard either. Plus, they’re the fucking Rooters. To back them is to lose a small piece of your soul.

Dad, living in St George and being a lifelong admirer of Wayne Bennett despite being a Manly man at heart, was well and truly on the Red V bandwagon. But me, I couldn’t pick one and live with myself for it. So in the end I said fuck it, drove down to Cronulla away from the Drag Queen bogans/Lebs and decided to go spend the money I would otherwise have bet on the game on pancakes at Nulla Nulla, followed by a movie at Westfield Miranda.

Once I got to Hoyts, though, I realised I was fucked as I knew very little about any of the movies on offer. The second Wall Street movie was the only one I had any knowledge about, and having never seen the first I decided to wait until I had.

Then I noticed a poster for Easy A and remembered seeing a trailer for it in another movie some time back. The trailer seemed interesting enough at the time (even though it had that obnoxious Ke$ha song) and I’ve thought Emma Stone was hot since her turn in Superbad, where she managed to look good throughout. Including the final scene despite having that nasty shiner where Jonah Hill drunkenly headbutted her. (Something I can say I’ve never done when drunk).

In the end, the main selling point was that the screening time meant I could watch it and get home in time for dinner – while that meant the end of the game, it also meant I wouldn’t miss any of Hamish and Andy’s new show from India. So I got a medium popcorn, large Sprite and peanut M&Ms (my movie snack lineup when I can’t afford ice cream) and headed for the theatre not expecting much more other than something that could hopefully not bore me to sleep.

Turns out that not only was I not bored to sleep, but I found myself enjoying the whole movie. Easy A is that rarest of cinematic animals – an intelligent movie about high school.

The plot itself cribs from the novel The Scarlet Letter, which is referenced throughout. Emma Stone plays Olive Pendergast, an ordinary high school girl who lies to her best mate about losing her virginity over the weekend and is overheard in the shitter by a Jesus-freak girl played by Amanda Bynes, who I can’t believe is still young enough to play high schoolers considering I’m old enough to remember The Amanda Show and All That (and enjoyed both very much as a kid).

Either way, rumours spread as they do and Olive is the center of attention. She uses her newfound notoriety to help out a gay mate by faking it at a party (probably the funniest scene in the whole movie, coming from someone who has done the exact same thing).

As things do, this little encounter splits the school in half – the half that know the truth (mostly male outcasts) start giving her gifts so they can spread their own rumours about doing various dirty things to them, the rest just start seeing her as a slut. Olive herself starts to revel in her new role as school tramp, right down to wearing a bright red letter A on her scantily-clad left boob (I believe this is an allusion to The Scarlet Letter). Then the problems start when she gets mixed up in a student-teacher affair, her best mate abandons her and she has to try and get her good name back. With the help of a studly young bloke who sees her for what she is and doesn’t want to take advantage of her, of course. And the final scene is ripped straight out of Sixteen Candles with musical cues from The Breakfast Club. (I think – I’ve only seen Sixteen Candles once, five years ago, and I was high at the time).

The story itself is told in flashback by Olive in the form of a webcast. Modern technology plays a notable role in the movie as the purveyor of rumours – every time a new one starts it gets followed by a montage of students checking their mobiles – but the school itself is somewhat anachronistic. While Amanda Bynes’ little Jesus freak clique are obviously the main antagonists of the movie and the plot drives itself as such, having only graduated high school two years ago I find it hard to believe that a school in the Western, English-speaking world exists where a girl automatically gets labelled a slut for swiping her V-card in a one night stand. But hell, it’s a movie. Gotta suspend belief a little.

I guess I notice this partly because it seems a little out of step with the rest of the movie. The biggest strength of Easy A, which sets it apart from most teen comedies, is that it treats the audience with a degree of intelligence. Obviously this involves mocking stupidity somewhat – a gag about both the Bible and Twilight being together on the best-sellers rack of a library an example of this – but the dialogue plays to the characters type. Olive was clearly written as being smart and quick-witted, and the dialogue shows us as much. Too often teen movies play their characters as dumb even if they’re supposed to come off as smart (Twilight, I’m staring in your direction) – Easy A treats it’s characters as they’re supposed to be and is a better movie for it.

Obviously, the actors’ performances play a major role. Emma Stone was a perfect casting choice for Olive – she’s just normal-looking enough to play an ordinary high school girl while still looking movie star-hot all the time. And her performance was also terrific. A lesser actress may have over-done Olive the slut, not played her hard enough or tried too hard for laughs – Stone plays her perfectly, never veering over the edge. In a fair world, this would be her Tom Cruise in Risky Business breakout role.

And it’s not just Stone. Aly Michalka is hilarious as Emma’s brash, slightly skanky best friend Rhiannon, and I’m not just saying that because she’s hot and an ex-Disney girl who curses more than the rest of the cast put together. While Penn Badgeley is a bit Gary Stu-ish as Lobster Todd, the guy who Olive has loved since a game of 7 Minutes in Heaven in seventh grade, he doesn’t detract too much from the script. And Stanley Tucci steals the show in all his scenes as Olive’s kooky but understanding dad.

Easy A is not generally the kind of movie I watch – on the Chick/Guys Movie Scale it definitely tends towards the Chick side of the ledger. There are no explosions, nudity, sex/bodily humour/racist jokes (apparently it was cut down to a PG-13 movie and it’s possible some of the cut stuff could make the DVD) and this is the guy who once created a quasi-scientific movie formula based on those criteria. Using said formula, Easy A would only score because of the hotness of the triple threat of Emma Stone/Amanda Bynes/Aly Michalka, and they wear all their clothes throughout, although Olive does push the boundaries in her slut phase (in the words of her mum, “You’re dressing like a stripper. But a high end one. An expensive one, for businessmen and governors.”).

Maybe I really am getting mature as I get older, because in spite of all of this I really enjoyed Easy A. It’s a smart, witty flick with some great performances, good but not over the top humour (a lot of which comes from Olive’s parents) and above all, a feel of realism. Too often Hollywood creates teen movies which are wholly unrealistic – Easy A never falls into this trap.

On my way back home coming up Tom Uglys, I checked the radio and realised the Drag Queens had won and since St Merge Leagues Club is on Princes Highway near my house, I would be hitting the parade. So I had to take a long route home and missed the start of Hamish and Andy Learn India. (The fact that I didn’t miss the whole things is a testament to my inate knowledge of the southern Sydney burbs). But I didn’t mind. I had just eaten some of the best pancakes ever created at Nulla Nulla and gotten back from a fun movie experience. I’ll definitely be seeing Easy A again before its theatre run ends. Probably today, given that it’s Super Tuesday.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Tragedy Of Cricket's Latest Match-Fixing Scandal.

By now the entire cricketing world has heard about the latest match-fixing scandal involving the Pakistani team.

Frankly, as soon as I heard about it my first thought was "yeah, the Sydney Test has to have been fixed." I was at the SCG for the entire game. I witnessed Asif and Sami rip through the Aussies in the first innings on a pitch with a bit more life than usual (but hardly the minefield it was made out to be). After that innings I almost felt like going to put a $20 on a Pakistan win, even though my Indian father would probably have beat the shit out of me for even considering it.

In hindsight, I saved myself $20. But there's more to it than that. Anyone who saw Pakistan in the field during the Aussies' second innings had to get a funny vibe - even by their average standards in fielding they were awful, especially Kamran Akmal who put on a keeping display that wasn't even worthy of my old Whangarei Boys High U15s. Mohammad Yousuf of course also gave us a masterclass in bad field placing as he refused to attack Peter Siddle, allowing him to put on a 100 run partnership with Mike Hussey and post a lead when it looked for a while like Pakistan might win by an innings. And the less said about their batting collapse the better. Let's just say I don't quite know how you can lose chasing a total of 176 in a freaking test match with a couple of days to go.

While there hasn't been confirmation that the Sydney match was fixed yet, anyone can join the dots here.

Some are saying that the players should all be banned from first class cricket for life. I can't argue with that. While it would be sad to see a young talent like Mohammad Aamer (who took money to bowl no-balls in the England series) out of world cricket for good, the ICC needs to take a stand here and show that this sort of bullshit will not be tolerated.

There's another strong school of thought that the ICC should ban Pakistan from world cricket now. If not for life, at least for a lengthy stretch.

Part of me agrees with this view, but then I consider the issue deeper.

Out of all the major test playing nations, Pakistan are undoubtedly the most screwed up. Not just in their notoriously volatile and corrupt cricket administration, but also their political situation itself. Anyone who follows the news knows what I mean. The country is basically teetering on the edge right now - when you mix in nuclear weapons and the Taliban and al-Qaeda making major inroads into the north of the country, you can see the problems even more.

What does cricket have to do with geopolitics? It's pretty simple. The radical Islamist groups all hate cricket. They see it as a Western indulgence that distracts youth from the task of serving Allah or some such bullshit. But Pakistanis one and all all love the game. Supporting the Taliban over the corrupt national government is one thing, but when you're talking Taliban over cricket, cricket wins every time.

The entire Indian sub-continent are crazy about cricket - Pakistan are no exception. You take cricket away from them, they're naturally gonna get pissed.

Moreover, cricket is good for Pakistan as well. A young man who dreams of playing cricket for his country is a young man who isn't in a madrasha learning to blow himself up or joining al-Qaeda. Boys and girls alike all play the game together. Girls aren't playing with the boys if they're being forced to wear a burqa.

If you take cricket away from Pakistan, you're driving hordes of young, pissed of Pakistani youth to Islamic radicalism. Someone explain to me how that's a good thing.

Which is why I'd like to propose a solution.

- All the players who have been involved, punt them for life. End of story, no excuses. And the ICC makes these bans, not the Pakistani board only to have them reversed three weeks later.
- The ICC takes emergency measures to take over the management of Pakistani cricket from the PCB. Once they do so, they undergo a rigorous procedure to clean up the way the game is run in the country along with heavily investing in young guys and promoting the game all over the country.
- A special task force is set up to manage the Pakistani situation - get guys like Waqar Younis, Sarfraz Nawaz and other clean former Pakistani greats involved in this along with ICC people.

Of course, since the ICC are an incompetent and sclerotic organisation who are only interested in making money, this won't happen. The bitter Indian forces who run the game these days will be happy to stick the boot into Pakistan while they can.

However, there is more at stake here than a bunch of blokes hitting balls.

Pakistani cricket is not only good for Pakistan, one could argue it's equally good for the world. A young man with a bat and ball in his hands, playing cricket with his mates has no room to hold an AK-47 or a bomb in a backpack or time to hear about the evil infidels.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Why I Hate Laker Fans.

While I had pledged with myself to make this a footy and Sharks-related post after a string of blog entries about music, politics, 90s movies and Jersey Shore, something else came up.

A friend of mine (OK Erin, you know it’s you. Yes, you may take credit for it now) asked me why I keep hating on the Lakers.

Well, there’s one obvious reason for that. I’m a Sacramento Kings fan, the Lakers and their butt buddies the NBA administration/refs subjected us to the nationally televised rape that was Game 6 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals.

If it were that simple, I could end this post there and my last three readers could all leave in peace. But it’s not.

I’ve suffered with my teams. I suffered through the early-2000s with the Kings, the Raiders and the Sharks never quite making it over the top to get that title before both entered periods of crappiness. The Kings are showing signs of (finally) climbing out of it led by Reke and Boogie. The Raiders finally made some smart draft picks this year. The Sharks? Well, let’s just hope Wade Graham can save us.

I’ve suffered through the whims of a senile old fool with the rest of Raider Nation the past seven years since Super Bowl XXXV. I watched the Sharks give a $600 000 dollar contract to a guy who played 10 minutes of first grade footy. I sat up late, without my mum’s knowledge, watching every Kings game I could on ESPN of the Ron Artest Era. I was there for it all.

And you know what? I wouldn’t take any of it back.

The pain and suffering helped make me who I am. Life isn’t easy. Shit, I could argue that life sucks on my worst days. Being a sports fan, to me, has been like life. All about ups and downs. More downs than ups, but when the ups finally come they’re just that little bit more special.

Take the 2008 NRL season. It had been three years since we made the playoffs and about six since the years we were fighting for a title. That wait, that stretch of pain, just made getting that far so much sweeter.

Part of me didn’t and still doesn’t care that we lost in the preliminary final. To me, getting within one game of the greatest sporting event in the world (yes, I rate the NRL Grand Final as such, with the Super Bowl, Game 3 of a State of Origin Series and Game 7 of an NBA Finals behind in order) was good enough. I had friends and family ask me if I realized just how close the boys had gotten to finally getting our first title. I told them all I didn’t care.

When the Kings make it back to the playoffs this year and give the Lakers the shits, I’ll be the same.

As the old Air New Zealand ad (maybe not so old – I remember it when I was living in Whangarei) said, being there is everything.

But that’s me. Why do I hate?

I’ll use the Lakers as my example and why I hate their fans. To me, there’s only two good reasons to be a Lakers fan:

a) 1) Your parents (or, if in a family with divided loyalties, your dad) are massive Laker fans, dressed you in a Kobe/Shaq jersey when you were a baby and made sure your first word was “Magic”. Even then, you can still ignore this – my dad used to dress me in Manly clothes when I was a kid, I rebelled and became a Sharks fan.

b) 2) You grew up in Southern California. Even so, I still distrust you – if the other NBA team in your area wasn’t owned by a cheap, racist, dirty old fucker this wouldn’t be an excuse.

Otherwise, I don’t care who you are. If you are a Lakers fan and one of the above reasons doesn’t apply to you, then you sir/madam, are a sellout.


Because odds are, since you were spawned the Lakers have been good.

The Lakers are one of a few teams in the NBA who can safely say they’ve never truly had a bad run. Even the Celtics had their period in the mid/late 90s.

It’s easy to say this has been simply because of their management, and indeed when you have a free-spending owner with a good reputation like Jerry Buss and basketball people like Jerry West running the front office, you’re not doing badly.

But the Lakers also have a massive competitive advantage – they play in LA. Los Angeles is probably the most attractive free agent destination in the NBA, yes, even behind South Beach…sorry, Miami. LA has everything – a massive TV market, great weather, loads of honeys, easy access to the entertainment industry, what have you. Shit, the only reason the Clippers were even granted a meeting with LeBron in the off-season was cause they play in LA. Had the Lakers been in the running, I can guarantee you that the Man Who Would Be King’s ego would have sent him running to sign on the dotted line with the Fake Show.

Yes, I know that out of the Lakers starting lineup only two of them (Ron Ron and Fisher) signed as free agents, but it’s not just about the big names. The Lakers can continually undercut teams by offering FAs the lure of LA in exchange for a lesser salary (Exhibit A: Matt Barnes) and therefore keep the team permanently competitive with the right guys to build a title-winning team.

Many people like to believe that once Kobe and Pau go the Lakers dynasty will hit a wall like the Celtics did earlier this decade. I highly doubt it. You don’t think guys who will be superstars by then wouldn’t be flocking to LA like flies to shit?

(I had a bad nightmare last night where in a few years, the Lakers force one of those one-sided Miami – Toronto for Bosh S&Ts where they get Tyreke and Cousins in exchange for Sasha Vujacic, three future No.1s and a trade exemption we can’t use).

So you see why I dislike the Lakers – it’s not just because they’re good, but because they have that competitive advantage over the rest of the league that as long as they have semi-competent people running the show, they’ll be good. And yes, Mitch Kupchak only counts as semi-competent – while he stole Gasol from the then-most incompetent GM in the league in those pre-David Kahn days, don’t forget he traded Shaq for what basically amounted to Lamar Odom, traded Caron Butler for Kwame Brown and drafted Andrew Bynum over Danny Granger in what I still think is a stupid decision with his only lottery pick in memory.

But why do I hate Lakers fans? To me, it’s like taking the easy way out. For all the reasons I’ve mentioned, odds are your team’s never going to be terrible. Maybe not a consistent title challenger, but never terrible. You’ll be seeing playoff series for ages to come with Coach Derek Fisher and Jack Nicholson on the sidelines for the next hundred years or so (cause come on, that guy’s immortal) before the aliens from Perseus 9 come and invade us and ban the game of basketball.

You’ll never know the lows like the rest of us do. And for that reason, you’ll never know the highs like we do either.

Maybe it’s not hatred. Maybe it’s just pity. Maybe I just feel sorry for Lakers fans, living such a hollow sporting existence. You don’t feel passion for your team – you feel expectation. You expect success. You expect to win every time. The feeling you get when you lose isn’t supporters anger, it’s merely a prick to your egos and sense of entitlement (something every Lakers fan I know personally has in bucketloads).

Or maybe this is all bullshit and I can’t get over being anally raped as a 10 year old, sitting up late on ESPN to watch the Kings-Lakers Western Conference Finals when my parents had all gone to sleep. Even I knew we were being fucked over.

Whatever. I’ll close on one thing. When the Kings are playing the Lakers in this year’s playoffs (1 v 8 in the West, write it in) compare the crowd of Staples Center to the crowd at Arco Arena.

The Staples crowd will be bigger, possibly even louder and definitely much better looking. But the Arco crowd will be the only one truly packed to burst with passion.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Blogging The First Episode Of Jersey Shore.

Even though I consider myself a relatively intelligent person, I love trash reality TV as much as the next guy.

And no TV is as trash as Jersey Shore.

While I haven't gotten around to watching the second season until now (stupid Foxtel not coming into my apartment) I decided to treat my zero readers to a full blog on the first episode.

Here goes.

1:43 - 1:50 = Bitching about the snow in the tri-state area.

1:58 = Pauly D claims you can't get a tan in the cold. Bro. You have a freaking tanning bed in your house and I'm sure it's not there as decor. Use it.

2:19 = Pauly D reveals he and the Situation (my no.2 man crush, for the record, behind Paul Gallen) are gonna make a road trip down to Miami. What would you call their ride? The SUV of STDs?

2:34 = Awww, Snooki found herself a boyfriend! How cute! He's her "gorilla juicehead" type of choice. She's gotta be the only girl on the planet who basically admits she has a terrible taste in men.

2:43 = Mr. Snooki is one sleazy-looking motherfucker. Looks like they're a perfect couple then.

2:48 = "I really don't want to cheat, I don't want to, but if you're gonna hand me a bottle of frickin' SoCal, something just comes over me." It's called being drunk, girl.

3:05 = Snooki bitching about Obama's 10% tax on tanning. Apparently McCain wouldn't have "because he's pale, and probably wants a tan." I love this girl. Seriously. I want to adopt Snooki and take her everywhere with me.

3:36 = Apparently Juicehead Boy isn't juiced enough to help Snooki load her bags into the car. Seems like a keeper already.

4:18 = Sitch and Pauly doing some male bonding.

4:40 = Snooki picking up JWoww for a road trip also. Apparently she's her "bitch in the house." I don't know, but I'm pretty sure it's the other way around, since JWoww could clearly kick Snooki's arse. Unless Snooks is skilled in mental manipulation? Watch this space.

4:48 = Snooki promises to be a "tornado" in Miami.

5:07 = Sammi is the hottest of all her friends. Clearly she doesn't share her tanning bed with them.

5:12 = OMG! Sammi and Ronnie broke up! This is gonna be interesting. Note to Sammi - girl, I suggest you hire bodyguards. We've seen how Ron gets when he's pissed off and that dude's built like a tank.

5:29 = When was it a good thing to "get creepy" with girls? Clearly I need to get creepy more if I want to get laid. Thanks, Ronnie.

6:02 = Vinny with his big Italian family. Gotta say, I don't get this guy at all. He seems like a decent, relatively normal, smart kinda guy (I remember reading somewhere he was accepted into Harvard Law School) so what's he doing hanging out with this bunch of nimrods? I guess being on TV really does get you laid more.

6:17 = Did Vinny's uncle (who looks just like Bam Margera's fat uncle Don Vito) just tell him to "not get too much nookie from Snooki?" I think he did.

6:55 = How much are MTV paying these guys? Clearly not enough for Pauly to get a GPS for his car. Maybe you should cut back on the tanning bills bro.

7:36 = Apparently Angelina (who I will refer to as Da Notorious Angie from here on out) is making a return? And she and Pauly D hooked up when they were in a LA club together? I need to follow Jersey Shore gossip more. If she does show up, it's gonna be interesting to see if she's reformed or still a cock-blocking psycho bitch.

8:13 = Yep, she's back. Da Notorious Angie is preparing to show everyone "the real Angelina" because "everyone deserves a second shot." Don't you just love those cliches? Then she goes on to claim everyone hated her cause "the girls were jealous." Yeah, and I'm jealous of my dog cause he sleeps all day. Wait, I am jealous of him for that. Bastard. And he has someone clean up his shit for him.

8:45 = Apparently Sitch and Pauly D invited her to Miami. By "invited" she means "If you guys please please please let me come I'll suck all your dicks and make you sandwiches every morning."

9:16 = All the ground clearance and sexy rims in the world apparently can't stop a Caddy Escalade from getting stuck in a South Carolina cornfield when the Dynamic Duo wanted to go light some fireworks. On that point, shouldn't they have an IQ limit for buying fireworks since, well, if you let retards play with them someone could actually get hurt? Sometimes life makes no sense.

10:08 = The Triple A truck is stuck, and Sitch makes a valid point - who do Triple A call when Triple A gets stuck? To which I answer, you could have saved yourselves that problem by just calling Ghostbusters the first time.

11:11 = Snooks' life was changed in a Georgia bar. How? She ate fried pickles. Good for her.

11:45 = Redneck bro needs to learn how to hit on a girl. Even I could do better than him. This is painful.

14:20 = Shots of Miami bikini girls. Fuck the show, just show an hour of those each week. I'd watch that.

14:52 = There's a hot tub in the new apartment! By the time the boys are done that hot tub is gonna have more STDs than Paris Hilton's pussy.

15:26 = A cameltoe shot of Da Notorious Angie as she exits the cab. Classy. Wonder how the Dynamic Duo are gonna react to seeing her. Gotta admit, girl looks pretty good from the neck down. Too bad about her face.

16:18 = Sitch admits they didn't want Da Notorious Angie there. Come on, bro. You're the Situation! Surely some cock-blocking bitch doesn't bother you? You stand there and every chick wants to fuck you. Surely she can't scare all of them away?

17:19 = And now DNG (cause Da Notorious Angie is too much to type and DNG rhymes better) wants to room with the boys. That would be an interesting room.

17:45 = Ah, now I get it. Pauly likes his chances on a slow night. Three way!

19:12 = Sammi walks in the door. Da Notorious Angie starts drama. I predict a cat fight halfway into the second episode.

19:50 = Love the "In Miami, Nobody's Ugly After 2am" sign on the wall. So true, and not just for Miami.

20:05 = My boy Vinny shows up. Cue obligatory "bro"s.

20:38 = "Just cause we're both from Staten Island doesn't mean we're going to get along. She lacks...brains, so we don't get along." Big Vin on DNG. I like this nicknaming thing where there are no nicknames already.

21:00 = Sammi, girl, we get it. You still love Ron. There's no need to remind us more than twice. In fact, once is enough.

23:59 = JWoww is pissed about DNG being there as well. You know what? Shorten those catfight odds. I'm picking by the end of this one.

24:55 = Damn, JWoww got hotter between seasons. Removing the streaks did wonders for her. Now I can vaguely understand where het nickname came from - emphasis still heavily on "vaguely."

25:45 = The bitchiness is radiating through the screen. I hope the whole season isn't about this JWoww/Snooki/Sammi - DNG battle. I want to see some club action, Vinny pulling tail and Sitch being Sitch. And hot Miami chicks. Of course.

25:48 = DNG talking shit about the girls to Sitch. Sitch waiting for DNG to suck his dick. Sitch also eager for catfight. Like I am. We should totally be mates.

27:10 = First piece of property destruction for the season = JWoww overloads a wardrobe shelf and it breaks.

28:45 = Where does DNG get the idea she's the "Kim Kardashian of Staten Island" from? She's got an arse like the Hume Highway.

29:25 = Sammi promises to "legit, beat the shit of Angelina and Ron" if they hooked up. Cause, y'know, DNG was sitting next to Ron-Ron in the hot tub. Although I would bet on her to win that fight, even against Steroidal Ron. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned and what not.

29:40 = Preparing for the first night out. There's enough drama flowing around here that anything could happen. Personally I'm picking a fight between DNG and Snooki, and Sammi backhanding Ron at least three times. Also, Pauly D will get a new STD and Vinny will get pinkeye again.

31:29 = DNG acting like a spoilt brat cause the girls are
trying to help Sammi with Ronnie. I sense catfight.

32:07 = JWoww getting mad. Last time JWoww got mad she socked Sitch in the face. I like where this is going.

32:17 = JWoww trying to reach across and hit DNG, Snooki making the most pathetic attempt known to mankind to stop her.

32:29 = Everybody screaming. This seems like an appropriate time to reference Brick Tamland. "LOUD NOISES!".

32:32 = Boys cab is totally silent.


33:10 = They're all out of the cab. Come space constraints...catfight? Plz?

34:19 = First Ronnie/Sammi fight. Yawn.

36:25 = If the whole season is about Ronnie and Sammi I'm gonna blow a gasket. WE NEED MORE SITUATION!

37:12 = Single, pissed off Ronnie is an AWESOME party companion.

37:22 = Even Pauly D agrees with me. Course, I don't know how good of a thing that is that I'm in agreement with Pauly D on anything.

37:56 = Ooh. DNG's using blackmail now, is she? This could get interesting. I want to see if Sammi can actually give Ronnie a beatdown.

39:05 = More Sammi angst interspersed with clips of Wild Ronnie.

39:18 = End credits roll as Ronnie makes out with two girls at once.

So what'd I think? Not a bad first episode. A bit too much relationship-y angst for me, but the underlying subplot with Da Notorious Angie and the rest of the girls kept me going, along with the obvious catfight potential. The rest of the season needs more Situation and Miami bikini girls. Otherwise, pretty good.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Race-Baiting And Vote-Buying.

Tomorrow, of course, is Saturday 21st August. It's a big day - not only are the mighty Sharkies playing the Melbourne Raindrops down in Mexico, but it's also my dad's birthday the next day so I have to get his gift. Not sure what it's gonna be yet.

And, of course, the fucking election.

I'm studying politics in addition to my journalism degree, so naturally I'm following the wankfest that has been this election campaign pretty closely. Waste of time that it is.

Before I go on, I should probably explain my political beliefs. I belong to what's often called the "wet" wing of the Liberal Party - that is, conservative on the economy (in my case, very strongly so - for an idea of where I'm coming from, I count Ayn Rand and Frederich Hayek as some of my intellectual heroes) but lean to the left on most social issues. I personally strongly support gay marriage, abortion rights and I even compromise my economic principles on matters relating to the environment and climate change.

In another country I'd probably be called a libertarian (Except the US, where that term apparently applies to Bible-thumping, Obama-hating bastards like Glenn Beck) but since Australia doesn't really have a Libertarian party, I just identify with the Libs.

That said, the man in the budgie smugglers is about as far from my views as you can get in the same party. Not only is he one of the Bible-thumpers (something that, as an atheist, always scares me in politicians) but this election he's basically compromised all his conservative economic principles by throwing money around like the proverbial sailor in a brothel.

I'm not exactly a fan of the ranga either. Anyone who deposes their boss, a sitting prime minister (don't feed me the bullshit that she had no role in the process - anyone with a brain knows she did) after making promises that they wouldn't can't even be trusted as much as you'd trust a common-or-garden pollie - that is, none. I look forward to seeing her coming good on her promise and moving the full-forward for the Western Bulldogs once she loses the PM job. I might actually watch the AFL if that happens.

To be honest, this entire election campaign has been a fucking joke. I know that election campaigns are generally about 10% info and 90% bullshit - but this one has been more like 2% bad info, 98% BS. It's been a campaign of race-baiting (BOATPEOPLE! EVIL! TERRORISTS!) and vote buying (Paid Parental Leave! No Great Big Fucking New Whatever Tax, instead a Minute Small New Tax!).

I never thought I'd say this, but I'm following Mark Latham's advice tomorrow and dropping in an empty ballot. You should too.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Dazed And Confused.

I try to write at least a couple of blogs a week, however, that often tends to be better said than done.

There are of course a number of reasons for this, primary amongst them being that I’m a lazy bastard.

However, today I have something a bit different for my three readers.

Anyone who knows me well knows how much I love the movie Dazed And Confused. For those who don’t know me, now you know.

Along with Clerks, it’s probably my all-time favourite movie.

However, it ends with so many questions. Did Pink end up playing football that year? Did O’Bannion ever get over Mitch/Carl/their mates dumping paint or birdshit on him? (What was in that bucket, anyway? I went for paint but best mate is convinced it was bird shit).

And, most of all, who’s relationships lasted the longest?

If I’m going to put on my Film Critic Wanker Hat for a second, Dazed And Confused is a movie about relationships. Be they platonic, fraternal, sexual, whatever – without the depth given by Richard Linklater to his character’s relationships you got a movie with little to no plot or meaning.

But for this blog, I’m just thinking about hook-ups. Of which there were plenty in the movie. We saw freshman Mitch hook up with sophomore Julie, Tony letting some passion out with his final kiss with Sabrina at the end and who can forget Wooderson and Cynthia?

Since I have no life, every time I watch the movie (by now, that’s a triple digit number), stoned or not, I start asking myself which relationships lasted and for how long. Well, in this blog I’ve decided to resolve that question for myself.

Mitch and Julie.

I decided to start with this pairing because I felt it would be the easiest. I didn’t like Julie’s character much in the film – mostly because I didn’t find her that good to look at and while she got major speaking time, Dawson’s smokin’ hot girlfriend got about five lines throughout the whole film. And for God’s sake, why would you waste Joey Lauren Adams’ divine voice on a bit part?.

That said, however, even if Linklater had cast a hotter actress in Julie’s role I still doubt Mitch and Julie would have made it through the summer. Primarily because they’re the youngest couple in the film, but also because Julie clearly seems to be a popular girl – even though she’s a sophomore she’s matey with all the senior girls – and Mitch is ultimately just a freshman who still has to prove himself in the big new world of high school. While he probably will – the parallels between him and Pink are obvious (as clearly set out when he gives Mitch a ride home) that will take time which won’t be enough for a popular sophomore girl like Julie who probably draws the interest of plenty of upperclassmen.

Prediction: Break up by August and both start the year single, leading to Mitch hooking up with the girl with the overbite Hirschfelder was trying to get with at their dance.

Wooderson and Cynthia.

It’s easy to imagine that this one would be over once Wooderson gets a taste of Cynthia’s raspberry pubes – which, indeed, was my original thought.

However, life and love is rarely that simple. I have a sneaking suspicion that Wooderson, for all his legendary horn-dogging, may finally have met his match in Cynthia’s red hair and intellectual curiosity - the old saying about opposites attracting coming into play here.

The question that then has to be asked is whether Cynthia can sustain a relationship with Wooderson while still maintaining her friendship with Tony and Mike. Since she's clearly a smart, perceptive sort of girl, I imagine she can juggle both.

Prediction: For whatever weird, fucked-up reason, I can totally imagine these two in a serious relationship that lasts. At least until Cynthia starts tying Wooderson down a bit (no hanging out in front of the Emporium!) and starts nagging him about going back to school.

I'll come back to this topic at some point and cover Tony and Sabrina as well as Pink and Simone, but the lazy bastard gene has kicked in. Later, bleeps.

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Love Letter To Kevin Smith.

Dear Kevin.

When I heard that you were coming to Sydney to do a Q&A with us, I knew I would have to get my hands on a ticket. No matter what.

Being a broke uni student makes such determination a bit problematic at times, but I knew I would be there. And, after deciding to make some sacrifices (i.e. not eating lunch for a week) I finally managed to scrape $44 together to get a ticket to your Monday night show.

Considering it was three days after my birthday, I was excited like a kangaroo on speed. What better 19th present could a guy receive than having a question answered by Kevin Smith?

Once I got to the Opera House I realised that I had a really shitty seat and was worried I wouldn't even get my chance to ask you anything. Especially since my mum had told me that the only way I would get a ride home is leaving at 10, and since public transport to my hood is so fucking shitty I had no choice. You can imagine how excited I was when I noticed we had a mic close to us. Halle-fucking-lujah! I would get to ask Kevin Smith a question!

Then the next problem came. What to ask?

You see Kevin, I don't know how to put this without sounding creepy...but you are my hero. I fucking worship you. As a filmmaker, as a writer and as an ugly cunt fucking a chick way hotter than anything he should be fucking. (Don't tell Jen I said that - I'm pretty sure after her turn as Missy in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back she could kick my arse).

I literally have a million and one questions I want to ask you. Instead, I figured I'd have to limit myself to two or face the wrath of the crowd.

I was still trying to figure out what questions to ask when I heard you say it.

"Number 4."

Shit, that was me. I was next in line. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

I had narrowed it down to a few options.

I thought about sharing with you my best mate's Lesbian Girlfriend story. Basically, it involves him getting all depressed when his "girlfriend" (long story) outed herself to him but kept using him cause he's a fucking schmuck, and we took him for a night out which ended up with him drinking himself into a coma. Kinda like what would have happened if Banky and Hooper had taken Holden for a night out after Alyssa broke up with him at the end of Chasing Amy, only he never actually got to fuck his lesbian.

But I figured it would take too long. So I decided to keep it to questions.

Once I stood up at the mike, though, I fucking shat myself.

I'm a wannabe rapper. I usually have no problems with a crowd. But when I was speaking to Mr Kevin Fucking Smith himself...fuck. I forgot all my questions.

I tried to buy myself some time by letting you (and the entire crowd, which, despite your theory, did have a few people of the female persuasion) know that Fleshlight had a new customer, and you can bet your fat arse once I'm done with this I'm running down to the nearest porn shop and buying myself one. And yes, I am gonna name it Kevin, gay and creepy as that sounds.

Anyways, after that little bit of info I eventually got around to asking you a couple of questions about Twilight and the "sex nuts and retard strong" deleted scene from Clerks II. Just for the record - I had seen your Comic-Con speech on Twilight, I just wanted to hear it from the horses' mouth cause I had brought my 13 year old nephew along with me and wanted him to hear why Twilight isn't all evil, as much as the books and movies suck. Course, he pointed out to me that that theory only works if you glitter in the sunlight or can rip your shirt off to reveal steroidal pecs, so maybe it's kinda moot.

I would have loved to ask you more questions. Particularly as an aspiring filmmaker myself, I would have been able to ask you questions for hours about how you made Clerks in particular and where you went from there. Then I would have wanted to talk about Jason Mewes, considering that guys in school used to nickname me and best mate Jay and Silent Bob, with me as Jay. (Considering that I went to the all-girls school down the road on my last day of high school and did the Buffalo Bill dance during lunchtime just cause I thought it was funny, maybe you can see where I'm coming from). Just to hear you share Mewes stories and see how they stack up to his young protege.

But time's a bitch. So I had to hand the mike over. Soon after I was done, me and the kid had to leave and I couldn't hear everything.

But I didn't care.

I woke up at 6am this morning so I could get in to uni and free wireless early so I could write this to thank you. Even though I know you're about as likely to read this as I am to have a three way with those two Brazilian synchronised swimmers.

Thank you, Kevin. Thank you for getting on that plane, fearing fat-ist attendants and all, and coming all the way across the Pacific to talk to us. To talk to me.

Thank you for giving enough of a shit about your fans in a corner of the world who don't even give you that much money.

Thank you for simply giving a shit about your fans and communicating with us.

In short, thank you...for being you.

I don't know if you understand just how much you answering my questions last night meant to me, even if you thought I was just another stupid little shit asking you the same question you've heard before. Let me put it this way - I've had three great nights in my life. The night I lost my virginity, the night I hung out with the Foo Fighters, and August 9, 2010, when Kevin Motherfucking Smith took time out of fucking his wife and making awesome movies to come and speak to a bunch of stoned Sydneysiders with an average mental age of 12, one of whom was me.

I left that theatre knowing that if by chance I ever get anywhere making shitty short films or music videos, I will always be as open with my fans (even if my fanbase doesn't extend beyond seven stoned dudes and their dog) as you are with us.

Thank you, Kevin Smith.

Much love,
Ash Krishna.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Case For An NRL Draft.

As an NBA and college basketball fan, one of my favourite parts of the year is the lead-up to the NBA Draft. And as a Sacramento Kings fan, I've been particularly invested in it the past few years.

Almost every professional sporting league which has any pretence of maintaining parity (i.e. not most European soccer leagues) has a draft of some kind. The NBA, NFL, AFL, major league baseball all have them. And while they all have varying success in attaining said parity, said success can be measured in degrees as opposed to gulfs.

Despite the NRL's attempts to maintain at least a facade of parity between teams through measures such as the salary cap, David Gallop has refused to consider implementing a player draft in the league.

His main argument is that the current system allows clubs to develop "local heroes" and loves to cherry-pick examples like Michael Jennings. While such stories of the local kid made good are always good for the old heart strings, unfortunately these days they tend to be the exception as opposed to the rule.

These days, the clubs with the most money to spend on recruitment tend to sign up the best juniors at a young age and have them enter their farm systems, which in turn get a boost from having all the best kids. The days of having sides mostly made up of local juniors are fast dying if not already dead.

However, even taking Gallop's view into account, there is still a way to get around this.

In the early days of the NBA, teams had what was known as territorial picks. That is, they could choose to void their draft pick to claim rights to a player who was from their team's area. Wilt Chamberlain was a famous beneficiary of this right, as the Philadelphia Warriors claimed him as he had grown up in Philly.

Therefore, in my model of an NRL draft each team could announce before the draft whether they choose to claim a territorial player. If they chose to do so, they would void their first round pick for both that year and the year after.

How would a draft work in our current system?

The way I envisage it, the current competition structures shall still stand.

Teams will still be free to recruit juniors from any area, however, the highest level they could have them play at would be the NSW/QLD Cup and NYC.

After a player loses his NYC eligibility, he enters the NRL draft unless he chooses not to. Players can enter before then, however, doing so automatically renounces their NYC eligibility no matter what their age. Let's say an 18 year old wants to enter the NRL and he gets drafted - the team can only send him to NSW Cup or park footy if they don't want him playing in the NRL right away.

Let's say that the draft was to have 6 rounds and each player would be paid on a sliding scale - e.g. the No.1 pick gets $100 000, the No.2 pick gets $98 000, the No.3 gets $96 000 and so on and so forth (I just made those numbers up - they mean nothing) until the league minimum salary is reached and every player drafted after then receives that salary. Contracts can last, let's say two years. Players who go undrafted can only be signed for this amount and length as well.

What do you think? Could this be an effective model?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Indie Sucks.

Alright, let's get one thing clear from the get-go.

Just cause I'm slagging off indie music doesn't make me a mainstream apologist. Cause I fucking hate most of the shit that passes off as mainstream music as well.

Case in point: A couple of days ago I was in the Kingsford Oporto eating a burger and doing some work. I like to hang out there cause it's always less crowded than most areas in uni. In fact, it's usually so empty that the guys in there don't give a shit how long you hang around as long as you order something first. Kinda reminds me of the Moobys in Clerks II except without Randal abusing customers the whole time.

But I digress. While I was working on my movie script (note this down, I'm gonna be talking about it a fair bit more yet) they had Channel V playing. The first song was Eminem's new single - I'm an Eminem fan so I thought it would be a decent show and chucked my headphones in my bag. A decision which I reversed after realising it was a top 10 hits show and the next nine were all pretty much shit.

So I'm no fan of modern pop music either. But there's a difference.

To be a blogger who slags off pop music is like the proverbial shooting fish in a barrel. Every other music geek with a laptop has done it already. It's no fun.

I'd rather go after my other pet target. That is, modern indie music.

Ask 10 music fans what indie means and you'll probably get 10 different definitions. Some will say that it's just a name for a scene. Others will say it's a catch-all term for all independently released music. Yet another group will say that it's a particular genre in itself.

Personally, I fall strongly into the latter category. At one time, yeah, maybe it was a term simply used to define independent music. But nowadays every band and their dog (or whatever animals the cool hipster kids are keeping these days, cause, like, dogs are so mainstream, you know? Unless you have one ironically, and feed it ironically and stuff like that) that has a major label wants to claim some indie credibility. So that definition is moot.

As for the first, generally a scene is something that's local. When the earliest "grunge" (another made-up term I hate, but more on that later) bands were doing their thing in Seattle basements, they were a scene. Once they started hanging platinum records on their walls, it was a scene no more. Indie is hardly a small local scene - a collection of scenes, maybe, but that's assuming they share more than bad haircuts and limited dress sense.

So I'm attacking the music. Why?

It would be simple to just say "because it's shit" but it goes deeper than that. The biggest problem I have with indie music? There's nothing there.

Oh sure, some of the bands are pleasant enough. I certainly don't want to gouge my eardrums out after listening to Animal Collective or Of Montreal (Are they still considered cool? I know they had a Rolling Stone feature a few years back and RS are not cool from what I hear) like I do after listening to Ke$ha or 3OH!3.

But indie music should be more than just pleasant background noise. That's what pop music is for. Something that supposedly exists outside the mainstream should have something more to it.

I'll use a kinda warped metaphor here - I'm a vegetarian. If I want a burger with just a couple of buns, lettuce, tomato and mayo I go to McDonalds and ask for a Big Mac without the meat. If I want something more substantial, with a patty and stuff like that, I go to a less commercialised hole-in-the-wall burger joint. Or I just go to my beloved Oporto, which while pretty mainstream in Australia doesn't have anywhere near the reach of Maccas. (For the record - if anyone from Oporto is reading this, yes I would love to be paid to pimp you guys in my blog. I'm available at no__wave@hotmail if you want to talk a fee. I'm quite cheap).

You get the point I'm making? If you want to exist outside the mainstream, you have to offer something more than just pleasantry. There's gotta be some substance to the music, whether lyrical, musical or simply through something like stage presence or attitude to get people (or at least me) to give a shit. And no, irony is NOT substance, it's a pathetic excuse to try and claim cool. You don't leave a show or finish listening to a CD thinking, "man, that irony is gonna stick with me forever!"

Let's look at all the great underground scenes. Metal. Punk. Goth. Hardcore. Industrial. Grunge. Shit, even rave and old school hip hop. They all had substance, something that went beyond just the music and stuck with anyone who listened to it or saw them live or went to a rave.

Modern indie? Meh. It's as disposable as any pop music of any era. I'm 19 (it was my birthday yesterday, so happy fucking birthday to me) and I'm still listening to punk from the 70s, hardcore and hip hop from the 80s, grunge from the early 90s and industrial from the mid-90s. I highly doubt kids in the early 2020s are gonna be listening to Grizzly Bear and Beirut for musical (or drug-fuelled) inspiration.

With that said, I shall leave you motherfuckers with what may just be the best song of all time.

Peace out, and keep rockin'.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Something Is Rotten In The State Of Refereeing.

There is a line between incompetency and bias.

Tonight, Jason Robinson and Bernard Suttor crossed that line.

I was at Leichhardt Oval for the game between the Sharks and the Tigers. I saw every minute.

The difference between biased and merely incompetent refereeing is that when the ref doesn't know what the hell he's doing, generally both teams on the field feel it.

Tonight? Only one team did.

I'm not just speaking as a Sharks fan here. Even the Tigers fans around me knew how much we were getting fucked in the arse.

The tigers try coming after a Benji Marshall push in the play-the-ball. The Ferguson no try which should have been benefit of the doubt. The ridiculous scrum penalty. The Tigers getting the ball after the Sharks drove Tuqiri into the in-goal. The extra two metres the Tigers got on nearly every play.

And the game-clincher - the "double movement" shit sandwich penalty against Ben Pomeroy.

At the very least, that was a play on Sharks. If the ref had called him held and the Tigers guy had hit him after the calling, it should have been a Cronulla penalty.

When that decision dropped, you could hear even Tigers fans expressing surprise. Sharkies fans were just cursing.

You notice the trend here?

All those decisions were against the Sharks.

Every single one.

And there were more that I don't even remember.

I don't think we had a single 50/50 call all night. Even when something was blatantly in our favour (the first Collis try) the refs made sure to look at every single fucking possible angle to try and find a goddamn way to make sure we didn't get it.

I can understand a few bad calls going against us. That's footy. But when nearly every single fucking possible call goes against you, including one that could have won you the game...then something is really, really wrong.

This goes beyond refereeing incompetence.

This is a conspiracy.

I feel stupid just saying it, but it is.

David Gallop and the NRL have been waiting for years to stick the knife in the Sharks.

Why? It's quite simple - we're an easy target.

The Sharks have a small fan and player base, we don't have much financial muscle, we don't have the historical value of a club like Souths or the sustained success of a Manly.

The NRL spilled blood to keep those teams around. They're not gonna lift a finger for us.

They want us gone.

Luckily for them, they also have a perfect replacement.

With John Singleton's considerable financial backing. the North Sydney/Central Coast Bears are a near-lock to be included next time the NRL decides to expand.

However, we're currently running a 16-team competition where teams are already facing financial strife. Adding another team (or two) won't help in that regard.

Therefore, the best option is to have a club fold and have the Bears ride into their spot like the proverbial knight in shining armour. And we're in the best position to fold.

Think I'm crazy? Remember 2008.

Remember the team we had then? It was a pretty good team.

What happened to it?

Losing Noddy was our fault, straight up. Management didn't do right by him, and we got Baz instead. Which isn't so bad. Losing De Gois also was a major blow, and I'm convinced that the NRL had a hand in ensuring he left the Sharks for Newcastle.

However, nothing quite stinks as bad as the Greg Bird saga.

2008 was Birdy's real coming out party. He and Gal (the Bruise Brothers) were the heart and soul of our team and one of the main reasons we got to within one game of the Grand Final despite our sputtering attack. They gave us a massive dose of our defensive steel.

Then came the glassing bullshit and the rest is history. Turns out that very little really happened and his girlfriend was high as a plane at the time. (I hate the expression "high as a kite". Kites don't get as high as planes.)

Thing is, I can totally believe that Gallop and the NRL managed to blow the situation up. I don't know how, but it's 12am on a Sunday morning and I'm stoned as fuck in an attempt to numb the pain from the bullshit that was the ref's performance.

I'm sure they can leak something to the media - maybe Birdy's girlfriend talked to a friend who talked to someone else before the NRL eventually leaked it?

Or maybe he really did harm her, only that now he's on a different (and more glamourous) team it's to the NRL's benefit to ensure that one of their stars stays on the field rather than in the courts?

You notice how the Manly rapist (Stewart)'s case has been dragged out for nearly two years now? Hmmm, could that be because he's the star player for a star team? Ya thunk?

As the week goes on, I'm gonna try and fill out this theory more coherently so it makes more sense.

The independent commission can't come soon enough. I can only hope that they can somehow uncover just what Gallop and co have against the Sharks, figure out a way to get the Bears in the comp that isn't at our expense and clean out the sorry sack of shit the greatest league for the greatest game in the world have for management.

In the meantime, I'm gonna dream of the firey death of Robinson and the painful death of Suttor.

Peace out, and up up Cronulla.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Bands You Should Have On Your iPod 1 - The Refreshments.

My taste in music can best be described as diverse.

Some people like to claim this, but my iPod says it all.

I got songs and albums from everyone from Pantera to Paramore, Less Than Jake to Lady Gaga, Metallica to Mudhoney and the Wipers to Wu-Tang Clan.

In fact, I can honestly say there's only a few genres I will never listen to, primarily that new crunk shit (like Soulja Boy, and the even more wanky screamo-crunk spinoffs like 3oh3 or whatever the fuck they're called) and modern indie wanker shit. (I have a near-pathological hatred for both Radiohead and Muse. But you'll learn about that as time passes by).

With that said, though, I have an undying fondness above all for two particular eras; 80s hardcore (particularly LA Hardcore) and 90s alternative rock.

And I don't just mean the Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins' of the world (although they're pretty fucking good as well) but all the bands of the time who slipped through the cracks of popular consciousness.

One of those bands was the Refreshments.

While you probably don't realise it, there's a good chance you've heard a Refreshments song before as they contributed the theme music for King of The Hill.

However, outside that they never had much mainstream success outside their home state of Arizona.

Which is a crying shame cause they were really fucking good.

Unlike a lot of the post-grunge alternative rock bands, the Refreshments never wallowed in mindless teenage angst - while their song subject matter was often a tad repetitive (girls, partying, trips to Mexico, often all together) - the feel-good vibe was a nice change from the my-mummy-didn't-love-me-and-I-just-broke-up-with-my-girlfriend trap so many bands of the time fell into.

Their run as a band was short - just six years (1992-1998) before frontman Roger Clyne went on to form the equally good Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers, who play a similar style to the Refreshments but with more of a country/Americana roots rock feel.

During their time, however, they recorded Fizzy Fuzzy Big And Buzzy, which has to be one of the great forgotten albums of the mid-90s.

Don't believe me? Check out for proof. If you can't fit the entire album on your iPod, that and minor radio hit Banditos ( are musts.

Keep rockin'.

LeBron James, The Man-Child.

Even though this is my first basketball-related post on this blog, in my other lives I had written many articles and blog posts on LeBron James over the past year, with special focus on his free agency.

Like many others, I never expected him to take such an easy way out and run to Miami and join what is and will still be Dwyane Wade’s team. I had expected that he would either stay in Cleveland or head for Chicago (the best place for him as a ballplayer, excluding the Clippers where he was never going) or the Knicks (the New York market and the business opportunities that presents, Madison Square Garden) or maybe even New Jersey and Mikhail Prokhorov’s billions and yacht stacked with supermodels.

When he announced he was taking his talents to South Beach (one of the more unintentionally hilarious lines of all time) I churned out the obligatory reaction posts before finally deciding to take a break from LeBron James. Until next year, I vowed to not write a single article about, relating or even referring to the Man Who Would Be King.

Until I read this article.

After my initial reaction (a combination of shock and awe at the excess of the party, and confusion that Big Baby didn't start drooling at the naked chicks) I read the article a second time and finally grasped the point.

He’s an absolutely brilliant baller, but at heart LeBron James is still a kid.

I can’t believe it took me so long to figure this out.

With all the opportunities he had on the table at free agency, LeBron took the one that all kids would have – go spend the next four-to-six years playing ball with two of his best mates in the NBA and partying all night on South Beach after. Oh, and get paid pretty well to do so. The titles they’re surely gonna win? Another nice fringe benefit.

Having watched my ten year old sister grow up, one thing I know more than anything about kids is that they have no real sense of the future. LeBron’s “Decision” showed that he doesn’t genuinely care about his legacy either. As I mentioned earlier, the Heat are and will still be Dwyane Wade’s team. I imagine he will still be the primary scoring option for the Heat with LeBron playing a Magic Johnson-type role that probably is better suited to his talents than having to consistently carry the scoring load every night.

As for the money? Same thing. LeBron, Wade and Bosh are all making less than the max contract, and while Miami is a big market the business opportunities don’t compare to what LeBron would have had at his disposal in New York or Chicago, or Mikhail Prokhorov’s global reach. So much for becoming the NBA's first billionaire athlete.

So now that we've established that LeBron is a 25 year old man-child, then comes the next question.


I'm not 25 (six years off) and I'm hardly a very mature 19. But I'm fairly sure I'm a few steps ahead of LeBron on the maturity ladder. So why hasn't he really grown up yet?

It's simple. Call it Michael Jackson Syndrome.

Everyone who knows anything about Jacko's story knows about his obsession with reclaiming the childhood he never had.

With LeBron, it's a case of having never really had an adolescence.

You gotta remember, this guy has been basically hyped as the Next Jordan since his early high school days. Guys like Shaq were coming to his games when he was in his junior year.

While all that is nice, you've gotta imagine it was hard for a kid to handle all the pressure. Not only that, but it would have to have created a certain isolation between himself and his peers. Anyone who has seen the documentary of his high school basketball years can not only see this but also see that it does upset him - that this is a guy who wants nothing more than to be able to hang out and play ball with his mates and go party after like the rest of them, but isn't able to because he's basically too good for them.

Well, now LeBron gets to live out his adolescence. South Beach is his Neverland Ranch and Dwyane Wade/Chris Bosh are his Bubbles.

However, we all eventually grow up.

Which is why I'm calling it now.

It's July 2013. The Heat are coming off their second consecutive title. LeBron, Wade and Bosh have all spent the past month partying non-stop.

LeBron wakes up in his Coral Gables mansion one day and it hits him.

He's basically pissed away his legacy as a player, his chance to become the first billionaire athlete, the chance to do something few others before him could have done just to live out the adolescence he feels was taken from him.

The media are questioning how good he could have been. He's growing apart from his teammates who are feeling the pinch of adulthood themselves and wondering how far they could have gone on their own. His kids are effectively growing up without a father. He may not be the most hated player in the NBA, but the hate is being replaced by apathy. Hell, even ESPN are beginning to care less and less about him and more about the team concept.

And all just to have some fun in South Beach.

Even though I didn't really have a dog in the hunt of "The Decision" (I'm a Kings fan), I hated LeBron when he made his self-aggrandizing announcement and stabbed the city of Cleveland in the back.

Now? I just pity him. Once he realises what he's done, he's gonna feel like shit.

And there'll be no going back.