Wednesday, 30 April 2003

Remember that first Retro Rant I pulled from the archives saying that schoolkids should be allowed to have any zany hairstyle they liked?

Well, as of now I respectfully withdraw my comments.

I must have seen at least ten private school tossers walking around with full-scale afros today. I'm willing to concede that under the circumstances that it might have been the same guy everytime; but it still looked shithouse.

The little darlings must be back at school this week, which can only mean bad news for the rest of us.

Adam = Refuses to show any empathy to schoolchildren.

Tuesday, 29 April 2003

Found myself in the midst of another protest today. This time it was construction workers and other general union idiots on William Street marching against Martin Kingham's court appearance. He allegedly failed to provide documents to the Royal Commission or something. No idea whether he's guilty or not, I'd rather concentrate on the fact that these people probably had something better to do - like, you know, working maybe?

The most entertaining part of the entire thing (apart from the fact that it kept us from having to do any work for three hours) was the guy in a truck singing Bob Marley's "Get Up, Stand Up" to rally the troops. Sadly he wasn't quite sure of anything but the chorus so we got that over, and over again much to our great joy. I was going to yell out for him to do "Jamming" instead, but these peace loving people might have come over and kicked my ass.

Then we started singing "Here we go, Here we go, Here we go". I would have preferred the standard soccer version of "Dig a hole, dig a hole, dig a hole" or "Let him die, let him die, let him die" but it was their protest, so who am I to complain?

Monday, 28 April 2003

I can't profess to have any interest in the new series of Big Brother, but if you do then you'll probably want to follow the show in blog-form via

No, I can't pump myself up for it this time. Though I said that about the last one until I looked at the pictures of the contestants the day before it started and realised that that one of them used to go out with a guy I know. Of course she then decided to spend her entire stay on the show telling the world about how she'd shagged half of Australia when she'd given my friend absolutely nothing for a month. That was slightly amusing.

And we got the exclusive on her past appearances in soft-core porn, although it was a bit disturbing that he pulled out (settle down) copies of the offending publications straight away to support the allegations.

I did take a look at the people who are in it this time in the feint hope that there might be a repeat, but despite a massive stack of Victorians (ratings a bit down around here last time eh Channel 10?) inside there's no such luck.

Back to watching Simpsons repeats on Fox 8 at 7 for me.
Canberra Trip Report -

We left Melbourne at the ungodly hour of 5.30, and by the time mystery fog had lifted and it was light we were already out of range of all the good radio stations, condeming us to local FM hell for the best part of the next six hours.

Towns passed included Harden (!), Howlong (!) and my personal favourite BARNAWARTHA which only sounds good if it's said in a comedy voice. We posed for pictures in front of the BARNAWARTHA (see, it's fun!) sign and then continued on.

By the time we got to Yass, the town with a jolly little Super Mario Brothers-esque castle as it's logo we were so fungry we'd settle for any old rubbery food they were selling. And we did. The Colonel would roll over in his grave if he saw what these people were doing to the KFC name. Surly staff, wrong orders, bizarrely prepared food - it was pretty much like any other fast food joint actually. Except we had to stand in line with a bunch of hillbillies for 15 minutes.

Onwards then to the national capital, and after an obligatory visit to, and photo opportunity at, a couple of pron stores we headed for the greatest shopping centre in the free world the Tuggeranong Hyperdome. Much like the Telstra Dome it's not really a dome, but this place is good so we'll work with them ok? Inside we discovered our old favourites like CPS and a few new surprises - chief amongst them the existence of Kingsley's Express, a fast food joint so shamelessly ripped off from McDonalds that the only thing it lacked with a suspicious clown called "Roland McDonald" harassing children outside.

We spent a foolish amount of money there then moved onto our motel, the cheapest and nastiest place in the whole city, the improbably named FORMULE 1 (Obviously the people who run Formula 1 had sent a few cease-and-desist letters).

Meanwhile we listened to Hawthorn choke a 51-point lead and destroy my easy money prediction in their game against Richmond. I hereby resign from the tipping caper as of now.

Then we ventured down (up? Who cares) to Canberra Stadium, the sort of place where they go to ridiculous lengths to assign everyone a seat and then they all go and sit wherever they damn well feel. This is how I ended up sitting with the world (in)famous Bulldogs Army. They spent the whole game hanging shit on three local idiots who decided to sit in the middle of them all ("We always sit here") and then complained when they were abused. I spent the second-half of the reserves game in the TAB watching Wests get porked by Newcastle.

Then Canterbury got rorted in the main-event match by the refs, just like our trip last year. Amul has a fat list of times Bill Harrigan has cheated the Dogs out of a win. His list expanded by one more on Saturday night. Sadly there was no riot to rival the post-match entertainment of last year.

Putting aside the sports related debacle we went to some seedy bar full of people younger and more attractive than I am. This caused me to become entirely depressed about everything and I went back to the seedy motel. To add extra entertainment I then suffered the world's greatest bout of insomnia and ended up walking to some service station 30 minutes away at 3:30am and talking to some guy in the carpark.

I did revisit the site of my great plummet down the casino steps earlier in the night, and I was almost tempted to do a photo recreation of the famous event but the bouncers looked like the evil bastards who physically removed me from the place that fateful night years ago so I thought I'd better not push it. Being roughed up by fat men probably hurts a lot more when you're sober.

We left at 9:30am Sunday morning, the only special moment of the trip came when Amul accidentally emptied his mobile phone into the bin of the Albury KFC (a far nicer place than the Yass shithole) and had to fish it out in front of a suitably amused employee of the Colonel. The horror of shonky FM stations manned from a shack in the bush was avoided by finding a station relaying the call of the Geelong/St. Kilda game.

Back at 6:30 and played a rather violent game of Indoor Soccer at 8. Oh, and Canberra's ABC Radio station is 666am - that always amuses me greatly.

Thanks to the wonders of digital photography passing me by the planned photo essay of the trip will have to wait until I waste the rest of the film in my camera. Could be next year at the rate I take photos.

Friday, 25 April 2003

No blog on Saturday (possibly Sunday) because I'm going on the second annual unscheduled road-trip to Canberra.

My friend Amul wants to watch his NRL side Canterbury play Canberra. I like taking zany road trips. Two birds killed with one stone!

More importantly I want to show him the spot I rang him up from when I'd been thrown out of the Canberra Casino for drunkenly falling down the stairs at 2am a couple of years back.

Last time we went we visited Parliament House at 5am, the carpark was open so we went in to have a look. I started taking pictures and this security guard/federal police bogan drove in, the conversation went something like this

Bogan: "What are you doing down here?"
Adam: "Taking pictures"
Bogan: "Oh, ok then"

And then he drove off. National security is obviously in competant hands. Then when I got the pictures back the ones of the basement had miraculously disappeared... Conspiracy? I think so.

I'll be back on Monday (if not late Sunday) with a full report of proceedings, including the return to the best named shopping centre in the whole world the Tuggeranong Hyperdome. So, until I get back in front of a computer enjoy one of the fine blogs listed to the left of the screen.

PS - How SHIT were Melbourne tonight?
90% of Americans think that Australia sits next-door to Germany and produced Arnold Schwarzenegger. The other 10% think we ride around on Kangaroos and say "BONZA!" a lot.

On that note I present the first in a TSP weekly feature (and we all know how well past promises of weekly features have gone) entitled "I've Never Been There" dedicated to educating us all about some countries that nobody's ever heard of.

With that, I present our first contender. Let's all consider ourselves a little bit more knowledgeable about the world, starting now!

1. Federated States of Micronesia

In 1979 the Federated States of Micronesia, a UN Trust Territory under US administration, adopted a constitution. In 1986 independence was attained under a Compact of Free Association with the United States. Present concerns include large-scale unemployment, overfishing, and overdependence on US aid.

Location: Oceania, island group in the North Pacific Ocean, about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to Indonesia

Population: 133,144 (July 2000 est.)
Ethnic groups: nine ethnic Micronesian and Polynesian groups
Religions: Roman Catholic 50%, Protestant 47%, other and none 3%
Languages: English (official), Trukese, Pohnpeian, Yapese, Kosrean
Capital: Palikir

Radio broadcast stations: AM 5, FM 1, shortwave 0 (1998)
Television broadcast stations: 2 (1997)
Railways: 0 km
Highways: total: 240 km

International Disputes - None

1899 - Part of German New Guinea
1914 - Occupied by Japan
1920 - Held under mandate of the League of Nations
1947 - Part of the UN Trust Territory of the Pacific (With Marshall Islands, Northern Mariana Islands and Palau)
1979 - Granted autonomy
1986 - UN Security Council dissolves trust, independance granted.
Retro Rant
October 2001

It's a little more structured and sensible than previous efforts. Consider this to be the standard of ranting a year before the birth of TSP.

Save the Burgers

Why McDonalds isn't evil

A familiar catchcry of the unwashed types who do a lot of the protesting in this city is that McDonalds is some kind of evil corporation. Apparently not only are they poisoning us with their food but their also enslaving kiddies who work for them too. About the only thing Ronald hasn't been blamed for is starting the Spanish Inquisition.

In reality what's wrong with them? If you don't like the food then don't eat it, if you're so against the "americanization" of Australia then feel free to eat your lentil burgers, lentil soup and lentil lentils nobodies trying to stop you. Nobody is going to throw paint bombs at the Vegetarian restaurant - we normal people are far too sensible for that.

As for their employees they're not paid royally, but what do you expect? The businesses are, after all, franchises, which means it's ordinary people who are trying to make a buck out of these restaurants - they can't exactly afford to give every one of their workers a free dental plan plus six weeks annual holiday. Would you rather pimply 16 year olds coming in an nicking your VCR to earn their money? Silly me, these hippies don't have VCR's - the only time they've ever used one is when they gathered around the TV in the "Womyn's Lobby" of their Uni to watch the unedited highlights of the S11 protests (Scoreboard - Cops 5, Protestors 1)

Maybe when these fools grow up and find themselves saddled with screaming kids demanding something to eat they'll realise the benefit of fast food, or will they be seen trying to drag the little blighters upstairs to 'Crossways' for a Big Lentil Soup instead? That would be a popular decision amongst the youngsters i'm sure.

Of course the funniest thing is that most of these unwashed idiots are just the kind of people you see hanging around McDonalds at all hours of the day. They'd tell you that it's really a "subversive fact finding mission" but the truth is that they really couldn't stand one more dish with f'ing lentils in it.

It's pointless to protest against a Fast Food restaurant, but it won't stop. Next they'll be picketing Starbucks because they're "destroying the small operator" by selling coffee that people actually want to drink without listening to wanky live music from a hippy who still thinks it's 1967. Pissweak piped Britney Spears music might be bad, but it's got to be than listening to Captain Love and his All-Star Flower Power Hour in some crappy Brunswick Street hole.

Erm, where were we.. Oh yes, McDonalds and their crimes against humanity. Well the 'coke' they sell is pretty crappy, and they always put too much ice in it... Well move over Slobodan Milosevic, we have something far more important for the International Court of Justice to discuss. Hippies of course don't like any kind of coke - the cola is made by a nasty multinational and the drug is consumed by people who actually get out and make themselves a living. These people, on the other hand, spend their entire lives trying to get blasted by snorting the contents of a can of WD40.

You'll hear horror stories from their ex-employees about how unhygenic the places are, and how the health inspector is often bribed with a huge wad of cash. Lies! I've been eating the stuff for years and it never affected me (*burp*). Besides who's saying the cook at your 'local', which if you are a real activist has had the live musician kicked out for pokies which actually make some kind of a profit, washes his hands coming out of the bathroom?

It's wrong - people are harassing this innocent store when satanic food merchants like Hungry Jacks/Burger King are still going around. What makes Ronald so much worse than Colonel Sanders? Wasn't the Colonel supposed to be a Klansman or something? That's what it says on a wall in an alley near Burke Road anyway...

Sadly some of these people will never give up, when the sensible ones are coining it in near their 40th birthday they'll turn on the TV one day and see the people they protested with in their teens hurling rotten eggs at the Venezuelan consulate and laugh. Then they'll go back to running the country.

Thursday, 24 April 2003

Let's talk about Oasis. Nobody else does anymore, so I should give them a plug. Now, they were a decent band for their time - the first couple of albums were quite good, then total lunacy prevailed and they started making pretentious wankfests that nobody has listened to since Britpop was declared legally dead.

However, everyone knows I love a good rant and this classic after Coldplay did some anti-war speech at a benefit concert puts Liam Gallagher back into my 'respect' folder. Cop a load of this genius, mentioned in today's Herald-Sun "Hit" music section.

"When Colplay did this gig they banged on about the war. That's wrong. Chris Martin shouldn't be using this cause to bang on about his own views on the war. If him and his gawky bird want to go banging on about the war they can do it at their own gigs.

That lot are just a bunch of knobhead students - Chris Martin looks like a Geography teacher. What's all that with writing messages about Free Trade on his hand when he's playing? If he wants to write things down I'll give him a pen and a pad of paper. Bunch of students."

Entertaining, but only when they're not singing.

Wednesday, 23 April 2003

With the commercial TV networks throwing wave after wave of horrifically unfunny sketch comedy shows at us, and the travesty that is Channel 7's second rate knockoff of the Kumar's at Number 42 (Hosted by Effie - There's a gag that was funny for five minutes in 1992) this recently rediscovered Retro Rant from early 2001 is a topical as ever.

Television is full of thieves, not just the shonky Demtel salesman and billionare preachers who fill the overnight lineups on commercial TV, but also the executives whose creative talents stretch only as far as pinching all the good ideas from each other.

We, the viewers, are the willing accomplices to the process. Backyard Blitz was a bit of fun (allegedly), so when Ground Force appeared at a different time slot on a different network teh audience ate them both up and asked for more; the few thousand viewers who count towards the ratings anyway. Survivor was a worldwide success, suddenly every man and his dog were being shipped off to a deserted island. Shipwrecked, Treasure Island etc, etc.

Popstars, nicked from the Kiwi's, rated it's ass off. Arise "Search for a Supermodel". Weeks of anorexics bitching that the judges wouldn't cop sexual favours. Fortunately it's ratings, and blessed demise of major sponsor, ensured that the model won't be back. It only it had happened to Popstars we would have been spared the horrors of Scandal'us.

There is, though, one 'reality' program that ensures life for cocaine snorting TV executives with ponytails will never be the same again. Big Brother is the ultimate in television intrusion.

Locking twelve people up in a house with nowhere to hide is the greatest programming genius of them all. Sure, we're one of the last major TV producing nations to jump on the bandwagon but the wait was more than worth it. The show has raised the reality bar in Europe, and now it's our turn to feel the power.

Then, if my hastily compiled notes were anything to go by I talked about how much I was looking forward to gratuitous female nudity seven nights a week, and my calling for the network to put somebody on their payroll into the house merely to cause trouble.

Who could have forecast that three-quarters of the people picked would be so bland as to make Simon Crean look interesting? Who might have guessed that they'd throw away such exciting innovations as fake housemates and having them all nominate in front of each other. Do these people not understand that fights = ratings? It might have rated well, but imagine how many more people would have watched it if the prospect of a good dust-up was on the cards every night? Me for one.

Search for a Supermodel did return, then it went away again. Hopefully permanently.

Moreover, who would ever have guessed that in Scott Cain Popstars III would (rather unsuccesfully) attempt to make a superstar out of somebody with even less musical talent than Bardot or Scandal'us. And they were all checkout chicks. Amazing.

So, let this retro rant be proof that I once considered reality television to be an exciting new avenue of television production. What a hideous mistake.

Tuesday, 22 April 2003

Speaking of conflicting emotions regarding football, as I was earlier, I can't decide whether I'd rather see West Ham get relegated so I win money or Leeds relegated just because I don't like them. Such decisions. I'm leaning more towards seeing West Ham go down now because it was a bold decision to pick them for the drop pre-season and they've been there most of the year. I think I'd rather see Leeds blunder through one more shocking season before they take the Blackburn/Manchester City/Leicester 'big' club trip to the first division.

They never should have sacked O'Leary, that was one of the most ill-advised managerial changes ever (though Koppell's firing of Terry Burton must rank close. But what else do you expect from a goat worrier?)
On my way home tonight I saw a guy walking through the city in a pre-Franchise Wimbledon FC shirt. Such conflicting emotions, was he an AFC fan remembering the pre-Koppell glory days? One of the few scabs unconscionably still hanging onto the excitement of mid-table First Division football? Or one of those people who buy a shirt because it looks good (and it still does) and has no idea about the team. These people often claim to support bigger clubs even when they're wearing

By my estimation it was a 1995/96 season shirt, and I'm assuming it was a legit fan because it had "THORN 16" on the back - and you're hardly likely to find too many Andy Thorn fans amongst the casual supporter. It was too depressing a sight to pass comment on. In happier days I used to greet fellow fans with a hearty "Go the Dons!" whenever I saw them, but now the situation is so clouded it's not worth trying now. If he's a Franchise fan I don't want to encourage him, if he's an AFC fan I don't want him to think I'm one of the Franchise scum. Who says there's no emotion left in sports?

For the record all my original Wimbledon shirts are in storage now, probably never to be seen again and my new AFC version has been ordered and I should be debuting it to the waiting Melbourne audience ("Is that the Manchester United away shirt?" *SMACK*) within a month.

(Meanwhile this morning; AFC Wimbledon 5, Raynes Park Vale 0. The relentless march towards the football league continues)
I don't think I've posted here about the disturbing amount of joy I get from seeing K's inserted randomly into words where they're not supposed to go.

Kwik Kopy? GENIUS! Krazy Glue? Superb! KKK? Not so good (unless we're talking about your local Krazy Kloning Kultists, the Raelians. In that case - WHERE'S THE BABY ALREADY YOU FREAKS?)

But this morning while I was out in the 'burbs I saw a royal who breaks out the spinning roundhouse kick and puts his rivals in the food industry into the intensive care ward.

Ladies and gentlemen, an awed hush please for KING KAULIFLOWER. Located at 42 Grantham St, Brunswick West (Yes, I looked it up). Consider them the official Fruit and Veg supplier of TSP from now on, and shop there for that very reason.

Monday, 21 April 2003

I've always felt that Australian Rules Football is one of those sports that will never translate well into a video game, there are too many subtelties that means it just can't be simulated like Soccer or Baseball.

Not that there haven't been a few attempts at it. The earliest I've seen is a Commodore 64 game from the late 80's titled simply "Australian Football". I could never get that to work on an emulator, but it looked pretty rancid.

In the early 90's came the NES game, Australian Rules Football, it was flogged ad-nauseum during the pre-season comp that year and by the time Round One rolled around every kid in my class had a copy. It wasn't too bad, all things considered, the only notable problem being a lack of a proper season mode unless you had more than one human player and that you couldn't save your games. It also had some terribly generic teams like "Perth" and "Canberra", which just went to show that despite throwing a truckload of money at notorious thug Dermott Brereton to be in their ads they couldn't be arsed shelling out for a proper AFL licence to use the team names. The most notable features were the practice mode, which involved a little kid punting the ball around an empty surburban park - a cute touch - and the boundary umpire who'd appear and say "Out of Bounds, on the full" in the most monotone voice ever whenever the ball was kicked over the line. I guarantee you that if you go up to some 19-22 year-olds and ask them to say "out of bounds on the full" they'd do it in the voice from the game. That cartoon boundary umpire is still a cult-figure to me.

Then the trail went dead for a few years, until early 1995 when the game "Finals Fever" appeared. That's the reason for this post, so we'll come back to it after our cheap and nasty history of AFL computer games has finished.

Next came the AFL 98 games on PC and Playstation. They weren't bad, save a few bugs with the PC version, but even on the hardest difficulty level you'd be thrashing the computer by massive margins within a few hours of picking the game up. Leading Fremantle to the AFL Premiership? Easy as. Even the awful 1997 Melbourne side could be turned into champions after a few hours learning the game. The sequels to these games raised the bar a little bit, but the pissweak learning curve still meant the games replay value was limited.

Kevin Sheedy's AFL Manager in 2002 made the first attempt at introducing a coaching sim to the genre, and it was absolutely shithouse. I've not heard anyone even mention the game in the last year, and I'm tending to assume that means nobody is still playing it.

Currently the flag is flown by the AFL 2003 game, which is pretty awful and has commentary which sounds suspiciously like what you used to get on Megadrive games in the mid 90's and the relatively unknown Footy Fanatic, which is the first decent stab at an AFL management game. It's only ever been let down by some horrifically buggy early versions, the latest edition is supposed to fix most of these but it also had the effect of stopping the game from working on some computers (for instance, mine) so we'll wait a bit longer before passing judgement on that particular game's legacy.

So, back to Finals Fever.

It was easy, very easy. But it was addictive, which is what made it great. In fact, back in the days before computer piracy was widespread and everybody still seemed to own the same games I can't remember too many of my classmates not having it. In fact it seemed that one of them spent his entire weekends seeing how many points he could have Carlton beat Collingwood by, he claimed once to have racked up a 1000 point victory in a full-length game - a claim greeted with both suspicion and pity.

The simulation of the rules was also highly dubious, the only free-kick you could get was for out-on-the-full (without the comedy voices of the NES game), and the whole point to tackling was to press both buttons at once at push the opposition player fair-and-square in the back.

And it had a horrific bug which meant you could insert Brownlow Medallist James Hird into the frankly useless 1996 Melbourne squad.

I played it for the first time in years tonight. Setting up a rematch of Saturday's debacle at Kardinia Park. Geelong stormed into a four goal lead at quarter-time as I struggled to remember how to play the game. Then, led by Gary Lyon and Jeff Farmer who kicked nine goals between them, the Demons (with James Hird, obviously, on the half-back-flank) stormed back to within eight points at the last change and punished the inaccurate Cats with a Todd Viney behind in the dying seconds setting-up a thrilling one point win (10.8.80 to 10.19.79).

It's only after you win a game that you get Finals Fever's best feature, the club theme songs played on a xylophone. It's hard to explain the significance of these performances now, but let me tell you that for a time during the mid 90's every kid in Melbourne went to the footy and wished they'd play the instrumental version of the club song after the game.

Finals Fever only had one major fault. Once you'd played through a full 22 rounds and finished in the top six (as it was then) there were no finals. Yes, that's right in a game called "Finals Fever" they'd neglected to actually put a finals series in it. When the game came out I lived around the corner from the company who created it, I always meant to drop in and ask them what the HELL they were thinking making a mistake like that but I never did. Which is a shame, because I'd like to have heard their explanation.

I also had a bit of a problem with the fact that the game box claimed it was the "ultimate AFL coaching experience", when this turned out to only go as far as shuffling your lineup before a game I was somewhat disappointed. At least you could indulge Neil Balme's ultimate fantasy of finally playing Ivan Bartul. The real-life version refused to cross to Victoria after he was drafted, but in this game you could do whatever you liked with him.

So, if you're nostalgic for the days of Fitzroy and the Brisbane Bears, want to hear some rocking xylophone music and aren't fussed about actually playing off for a Premiership at the end of it all then Footy Fanatic might just be the game for you. It shouldn't be too easy to find somebody who's got a copy sitting around in a box somewhere. You can't have mine though, I think I'm going to keep playing it now.

Sunday, 20 April 2003

Belgium in cynical attempt to shake off it's 'boring' tag;

"The Belgian parliament has voted to legalise the personal use of cannabis, within certain guidelines, for anyone over the age of 18. The move, which has been the subject of fierce debate in Belgium for the last two years, will allow users to smoke small quantities of the drug in private, provided they do not disturb public order. Its sale will, however, remain illegal and Belgium will not tolerate Dutch-style coffee shops selling cannabis over the counter. Hard drugs will continue to be outlawed."

Fair enough too really.
Happy religious holiday!

Just remember that, thanks to our beloved State Government, any business who opens today can be fined up to $10,000! Isn't it great to live in a state where people voted in a Premier who believes in such free enterprise?

Roll on 2006 election!

Saturday, 19 April 2003

I've decided that the answer to the poor number of hits I've been getting recently isn't to get my own domain name, or god forbid write something with wide-ranging appeal to the punters but rather to shamelessly drop several of the most searched for terms on the net into my page.

You see, I complained when I was getting 170 hits a day and 150 of them were idiots searching for "Bubb Rubb whistle tips" and "Joe Millionare Pron", and let's not forget the great David Beckham rumors debacle, but it looks like I secretly loved it.

So, thanks to Google Zeitgeist, here we go - with little or no regard for how cheap and nasty this post will seem in retrospect.

"al jazeera"
"elizabeth smart" (who?)
"linkin park"
"formula 1"
"ash wednesday"
"adrien brody"

and lets just throw a few other classics in, just to capture the pervert market;

"donkey pron"
"saddam hussein naked"
"SARS erotica"
"delta goodrem nude pictures"
"tatu russian teenage lesbian action"

Tacky I know, but it's time to really push that relentless march towards 10,000 hits forwards.

Welcome to all my new friends at Google!
Well, the spirit of Easter was well and truly alive at Kardinia Park today as Melbourne were CRUCIFIED by the umpires for the first three-quarters. That combined with the inability of any of the 22 players out there to take a contested mark should have spelt doom but we were somehow only down by 8 points at 3/4 time.

Then, with no umpiring rorts required, the gameplan turned from small time self-mutilation to a complete and utter footballing suicide as Geelong piled on six goals to a point in the final term to win by 46. Particuarly awful was first gamer Nathan Carroll who was personally responsible for about four of Kent Kingsley's five goals. A more inauspicious debut hasn't been had since the young Wayne Lamb singlehandly cost us victory against the hapless Swans in Round 7, 1992. We ended up flogging him to Fitzroy, only time will tell if the same fate befalls young Carroll. Oh wait, it can't.

I'm usually a strident defender of Neil Daniher, but I tend to wonder what in gods name they were thinking not playing Chris Lamb today - he might not be the best defender in the world but it's surely better than the rubbish performances of the blokes they did pick down back.

A terrible game of football. I am quite worried about our season again. Next week it's Sydney at the SCG, we've got a decent record there but another shithouse performance down back runs the risk of that CRIMINAL Barry "F'ing" Hall running riot.

PS - Remember when I said there wouldn't be any blogging today? Well, thanks to the fact that I left at the fifteen minute mark of the last quarter time has been made. Thankyou for your enquiry.

UPDATE - According to the AFL website - "Demon debutant Nathan Carroll also took some good marks, looked composed, and lined up on Kingsley who was dragged at one stage." TSP sez - back to Sandringham young man.

UPDATE 2 - Maybe I am being a tad harsh, from Fox Sports "Kingsley ended the match as the dominant forward, although it was only in the last quarter that he was able to break free from Demons first-gamer Nathan Carroll.". Still, they're ignoring the three or four times Kingsley messed it up when he was left alone.

Friday, 18 April 2003

It's been something over a Kennett-revival here in Melbourne over the last few days. This might not seem important to you out-of-towners but in a state where he polarised opinion so violently during his years as Premier it's been highly significant.

Half of the people in this state (myself included) are nostalgic for the days when he ruled us like a king, and the other half miss having somebody to blame for every minor thing that goes wrong in their lives. There were some second-rate comedians on TV years back singing a song to that effect; train running late in the morning? Bloody Jeff. Checkout chick at Safeway giving you lip? Bloody Jeff. Caught your wife in bed with the milkman? I think you can guess who's fault it was. And so it was in the Melbourne press over the last week,

* Traders discover loopholes to force employees to work for peanuts on Easter Sunday = Jeff's fault

* Bracks breaks a promise he made merely months ago that no tolls would be imposed on the Scoresby Freeway = Jeff again

* Commonwealth Games failing miserably, Harry Madden has no idea = Bloody Jeff

* Public Transport leaves a billion dollar hole in the Victorian budget = They might actually have a point there, but let's not have fact get in the way of a good story.

I've got some other things I'd like to condemn him for too. Global warming, the low quality of foreign pron on SBS and the fact that Melbourne haven't won a Premiership in nearly 40 years. He'll do as a convenient scapegoat for all that and more.

Then he made some ill-advised gag about doing a political comeback and every second-rate press gallery hack sprinted to their keyboards to write an in-depth analysis of what it meant for Victoria, the Liberals and Robert Doyle. Bloody Jeff my ass, who else would they write about when nothing else interesting was going on.

Face it, even if you hated his guts as Premier (which it seems quite a few people did) you secretly miss not having him around to bitch about don't you? I thought so.

Tuesday, 15 April 2003

Looks like Soccer Australia finally realised that the finals system they introduced to the NSL this year has been a debacle. Shame it took them five weeks into the ridiculously elongated playoff series to realise it. The solution to general national apathy towards the league was never going to be asking the clubs to play more games. If you want people to actually show up to a finals series you've got to make it more attractive than what they weren't bothering to show up to for the 26 weeks of the regular season.

Just a word of explanation for those who aren't clued up to the NSL (and let's face it, that's 99% of the population). Before this season started they ditched the traditional finals series format that is used in the AFL/NRL/NBL and replaced it with an idea they stole from the Swiss league. It's not exactly one of the powerhouse leagues of world football is it? They weren't even content with just pirating a mediocre concept from a mediocre league they actually tinkered with it so it would lead to a Grand Final between the two top sides.

When you have sides like the Northern Spirit who can barely scrape together a four-figure crowd (even with creative accounting that Charles Koppell would be proud of) scraping into the post-season with absolutely no hope of making the Grand Final it becomes farcical. Why would any of their remaining six fans bother paying for finals tickets (club members have to pay full price for the honor of watching this travesty) when they know even a couple of wins won't make their season amount to anything but a mid-table failure. In a real finals system they would stand every chance of lifting their game, causing a massive upset against one of the top sides and making it to the final.

In an article for the South Melbourne matchday magazine in November last year I declared a willingness to wait and see how the system worked before condeming it to the same scrapheap as first-past-the-post championships and North/South conferencing but as the season wore on it became painfully obvious that the finals were going to be a joke. They're being broadcast on Optus' Homeart channel, and that's a step up in prestige for the NSL for gods sake. By all rights Pete Smith should be doing the commentary.

Of course a fair percentage of soccer 'fans' would rather see 3600 strong crowds than 15000 as long as it means that 90% of the audience are of the same ethnic background as them, and while these people continue to treat the NSL as their personal foreign social clubs there's no way for the domestic game to go forward in Australia. And they'll be the first people to complain when their precious clubs go to the wall.
Speaking as I was earlier about the guy who does the crowd warmups at the MCG reminded me of the last person to hold down that role, the infamous Voice of the G.

(Actually I think they had Drew Morphett doing in for a bit last season, but he obviously wasn't wacky and zany enough for them. They should have played the footage of him absolutely pissed while he was presenting the Sandover Medal one year, that really would have gotten the kids interested.)

Now, as I've said here before I only started going back to the footy at the end of Melbourne's horrific 1997 season so I'm not quite sure how long this idiot had been at it but he lasted right up at least until the end of 2000, if not a bit longer (I may have blotted some of the horror from my mind).

Anyway, the first thing I thought when he appeared on the screen at that first game back from self-imposed exile (a shock 19 point win over Carlton) was "Hey, that's the wanker from the Colin Carpenter Show." And it was. I must have been the only person in Australia to remember his small and absolutely shithouse performance as Colin's roommate in that short lived show. If that wasn't bad enough it turned out his role was to do "zany" things on matchday like interview the crowd. Sadly the closest I ever got to his hillarious antics was shouting "WANKER!" at him outside the ground one day.

He was so irritating on a weekly basis that I actually recall the one funny segment he ever did. I can't pinpoint exactly when it was, or who was playing (although I have the sneaking suspicion it was before one of the Australia/Ireland International Rules tests) but I remember he came on playing some old guy and referring to himself as "Spokesperson of the Arena". Maybe it the phrase that struck me as comical (it still does oddly enough) or the fact that four years of "Spokesperson" would have been far more entertaining than the wankfest he produced every week but it entertained me greatly. I even lifted my generous offer of a thousand dollars for the first person to hit him live on camera for a week. Sadly next time we saw him it was back to normal and the fatwa was redeclared.

Things really got disturbing during 1998 when the shadowy people who run the MCG decided that they needed a theme song to compete with that Greg Champion song that was all over Channel 7's coverage at the time. Thus Voice of the G's sole contribution to Australian rock "Nothing Beats the Footy at the MCG" was born. And by christ did they plug it a lot - you got the full thing twice before the game, once at quarter time, twice during the half-time break, once at three-quarter time and as many times as they could after the siren before everyone was removed from the stadium. We stayed behind after a game against Fremantle (Melbourne by 23 points) to have a punt on the hallowed turf and we conservately estimate that they played it 15 times before they threw us all out.

I've never met anyone ever who bought a copy. I seriously don't think anybody ever did, and that's probably why he ended up getting the sack. After three years they probably realised his "Don't worry, keep pressing copies, it'll break into the charts any day now" prediction wasn't going to come true.

Presumably he's back on the dole, or the theatre restaurant circuit, now but he'd be proud knowing that the other day I was sitting around doing something and suddenly thought "You know, Nothing Beats the Footy at the MCG wasn't such a bad song after all." What's that they say about artists never being fully appreciated until they're dead?

Monday, 14 April 2003

I love the way MSN Messenger tries to blame your internet connection when it can't sign you in and everything else net related is working fine. It's just so Microsoft to say it's your fault when one of their products isn't working. God knows there's enough NineMSN advertising plastered into the freaking program that they should at least manage to avoid disconnecting you every twenty seconds. It's still better than ICQ though.

And while I was searching their website for explanation about the latest service outage I saw an ad for "MSN Personals". I pity the fool who puts their love life in the hands of Microsoft, you'd probably end up going a date with a filing cabinet.
I'd like to think that the shithouse amount of hits I've been getting over the past week have more to do with the fact that Blogger is down for at least six hours every day than any other reason. It might also have something to do with the fact that despite republishing my archives five times they're still not working. It's tempting to follow the crowd and jump ship to Moveable Type, but what would I bitch about then?

Anyway, for those of you tuning in during the rare moments of full-scale TSP operations, let's continue on.

As mentioned earlier I subjected myself to the horrors of the Docklands Monstrosity Stadium yesterday afternoon to see Melbourne's win over Footscray. As far as the game goes I was pleased with the way we played, a bit disappointed that the game wasn't put away more convincingly in the last quarter when we had a massive height advantage up forward and absolutely bewildered by some of the worst umpiring in the history of the game.

You tend to cop the odd suspicious decision when your team has won by six goals but some of the rubbish being dealt out today was almost criminal in it's scale. Clint Bizzell took a mark, ran about five metres playing on, got nailed by a perfect tackle by one of the Bulldogs defenders and somehow earnt a free-kick. I almost felt guilty seeing him slot the resulting kick through for a goal. Then there was the fact that if David Neitz had been paid half the free-kicks that Luke Darcy gave away in ruck contests inside the forward 50 he would have kicked 15, not seven. That the mysterious decisions were dealt evenly between the two sides may have been the umpires only saving grace.

I've covered my hatred for Coronial Stadium before (good luck getting that link to work without the aid of voodoo) so there's no need to go into it again except to say that anybody who expects me to praise the idea of having sat inside while Melbourne experienced the mother of all rainstorms today is in for a surprise. I'd still rather sit in the pissing rain at the MCG (even without the Ponsford Stand) for four quarters than one perfectly dry one at the Corporate Hell Hole. I was heartened to hear on the radio today that plenty of Medallion Club members will be voting with their feet and not renewing at the end of this season. I'm sick to death of the AFL and their assorted goons trying to ram down our throat what a great place it is. It's crap. Waverley was a dive in the middle of nowhere but at least it had character.

I do, against better judgement, find myself agreeing with St. Kilda President the improbably named Rod Butterss when he says that we need a 25,000 seat ground somewhere in Melbourne for those clubs without a massive bandwagon supporter base to play profitably at. The future of Footscray, North, Melbourne and god-forbid even St. Kilda is at stake as long as they are continually forced (and in some cases even choose for some reason) to play at Docklands.

I'll be taking the trip down to Geelong next Saturday to hopefully see us bury the Kardinia Park curse once and for all. Must get to as many games as possible while I'm not rostered to work on weekends, listening to the Essendon debacle last week whilst trying to make it look like I was working was far too difficult.

PS: I humbly withdraw my claims that Richmond will finish last and Freo will make the 8 this year.

Friday, 11 April 2003

A tribute site to the seriously deluded Iraqi Information minister? It had to happen.

Sample content?

"The authority of the civil defense ... issued a warning to the civilian population not to pick up any of those pencils because they are booby traps," he said, adding that the British and American forces were "immoral mercenaries" and "war criminals" for such behavior.
"I am not talking about the American people and the British people," he said. "I am talking about those mercenaries. ... They have started throwing those pencils, but they are not pencils, they are booby traps to kill the children."

It's like the Baath Party's greatest hits.

"We made them drink poison last night and Saddam Hussein's soldiers and his great forces gave the Americans a lesson which will not be forgotten by history. Truly."

Hero! Me MUST have his own TV talk show once the war is over.
I was reading something in a magazine about graffiti today and I remembered my two favourite pieces of vandalism in all of Melbourne.

1) Where we used to play soccer in high school somebody wrote the cryptic message "Toy your mum is wak shit fat bitch" on a wall. None of us white-boy, easties ever really understood what it meant but it was requisite pre-match viewing anyway.
2) The words "Tubby Taylor" painted in six-foot-high spraypaint on a wall in Brunswick. That's still there thankfully.

There's also a very attractive portrait of Homer Simpson on the wall of Burnley station.
Water restrictions be damned! It (to use the correct meteorological term) absolutely pissed down in Melbourne today. Non-stop from the middle of the night to early afternoon in fact. Sadly this always leads to thousands of people saying "Ahh well at least it's good for the Farmers". Congratulations sir, here's your degree in stating the bloody obvious - cliches and truisms division.

Of course then you get the farmers who get floods when this kind of bucketing rain comes around. I'm sure they'd like to jab each and every person who decided the downpour was good for them in the arse with a pitchfork.

Or something.

Thursday, 10 April 2003

I don't know what I've done to achieve such status in the world but the spam I get everyday has somehow elevated into a higher socio-economic bracket. Amongst the viruses, Nigerian scams, porn-ads and christian music CD ads I get everyday I'm suddenly getting tons of email telling me about the worldwide price of works of art. I'm not sure exactly who they're expecting to go "Oh, I never thought of paying $200,000 for a Picasso before but now I just might" but it's nice to be included.
I repeat my pre-war comment - Would you rather live in a country run by Islamic psychopaths or Christian psychopaths?

Creationists, pro-lifers and conservatives now pose a serious threat to research and science teaching in the US

Some of the stuff in this article is seriously sick. See for instance

Or maybe you were an Aids activist, elated by the president's unexpected (and genuinely revolutionary) announcement in the State of the Union address of $15bn (£9.7bn) in funding for fighting the epidemic worldwide - and then surprised to find that only around 10% was destined for the Global Aids Fund, while the rest would be funnelled through US agencies, where it is more likely to be accessible to American abstinence-only groups campaigning against condoms.

Then there's,

John Marburger, Bush's new science advisor, was informed that the role would no longer be a cabinet position. The White House had decided that "they don't need that level of scientific input," Allan Bromley, the first President Bush's science advisor, said glumly at the time.

These people really are evil. You can take your great war victory and cram it with walnuts, because Bush MUST go at the next election. Let's all gather together and pray (as the Republican Party would obviously want us to) that the Democrats nominate somebody decent.

Tuesday, 8 April 2003

Although it might seem that my interest in English football now starts and ends at the Seagrave Haulage Combined Counties League nothing could be further from the truth.

Even before I started supporting Wimbledon (RIP) I was more interested in following the divisions below than the Premiership (or 1st Division as it was known then). At one point, before I succumbed to the bandwagon mentality of following a top division team, I considered myself a Cambridge United fan. Why? Absolutely no idea. I still look out for their results now.

In the dark days between the the murder of Wimbledon Football Club and the formation of AFC Wimbledon I submitted to the most scientific method of choosing a new team known to man. The random draw from a hat. The principle has always been the same (although I think we've only ever done it twice) - you put the names of all the teams across the divisions that you'd accept supporting then you draw out four (just to draw out the tension a bit) and then the fifth is the team you're betrothed to for the rest of time. My selection, done in the bar of the Box Hill Indoor Sports Center during the half-time break of one of the World Cup games last year threw together luminaries across all four divisions (and a couple of conference teams too). It could have been anyone from Everton to Stoke City or Rushden and Diamonds. In the end it turned out to be Crystal Palace, who were coincidentally the closest thing Wimbledon ever had to a blood rival. I checked out a few of their websites in the next few days, fulling intending to live the prophecy of the hat but my heart just wasn't in it. Of course my support for Palace was conditional on the Milton Keynes move being rejected or a new Wimbledon club formed, so when AFC Wimbledon came to being it saved me from a lifetime as a Palace fan.

The hat currently has a 50% strike rate. I might have been unable to get into the team I selected, even if AFC had never been born, but my friend Amul has parlayed his seemingly random selection of Southampton into an support so hardcore that I feel almost duty-bound to name him as the Saints biggest fan in this country.*

I'm interested in the fates of teams that 99% of the people who profess to be 'soccer' fans in this country have never heard of. Usually I read the Division 3 and Conference results before even considering a glance at the fates of your Arsenal or Liverpool. Here's a new spectator sport for you. Go out into the streets and bail the first person wearing a Manchester United (spit) shirt up with a map of Europe and ask them to positively identify where Manchester is. You'll laugh as they point to London! You'll cry as they quizzically look towards Scotland! You'll hang yourself when they finally choose Belgium!

What little interest I do have in the Premier League usually rotates around wishing for 'big' clubs to somehow conspire to get themselves relegated. You have no idea how much I wanted to see Leeds go down this year. They did their best by hiring the totally useless shonky businessman Terry Venables but sadly decided to give him the arse when they got a little too close to the drop zone for comfort. Think about how many Leeds replica shirts ($12 from the Victoria Market) would have gone into long-term storage if they'd been relegated? Imagine tens of thousands of people suddenly wondering who they should support instead? I'm sure there would be some people who'd stay loyal no matter how far the team sank, but they'd be an overwhelming minority.

Take Manchester City for example. I wouldn't go so far as saying they were "all the rage" in the early 90's but they did have a fair share of support. Where, then, did all the shirts and support go as they plummeted out of the Premiership on the last day of the 1995/96 season? Of course, the comically story about that day is that City took their foot off the pedal with ten minutes left in their game against Liverpool thinking results were favourable to send either Coventry or Southampton down instead. It was only when Niall Quinn, who had been subbed off, ran back out of the sheds waving a walkman and bringing the news that they were in the bottom three did they realise that they needed a goal to stay up. Shambolic.

But I digress. City's support base in this country slowly ebbed away as they struggled to a mid-table finish in the First Division the next year. When a roundly unsuccesful 98/99 season saw them relegated to the Second Division (3rd Division in the old language) you would have been lucky to get Les Murray to mention them, let alone a fickle Melbournian. That year they pulled off one of the great miracles of all-time to pull back a 2 goal deficit in injury time and beat Gillingham on penalties. The next year they were promoted back to the top flight - suddenly they were a club of choice for the masses again. They were relegated again in their first year back, City-mania had to take a break for another year. Happily enough they did the job and won their way back into the Premiership for this season - 2000/2001 edition replica shirts back on.

I've got nothing against Manchester City. In fact as blood rivals of United I've almost got an affinity for them. It's just a good example of what happens when a supposedly 'big' club is relegated. Where were the City shirts when they were losing mid-week Division Two games to Macclesfield a few years back? I didn't see any, and I suspect that's exactly what have happened with Leeds. Shame we're not going to see it happen now.

I often wonder what these fair-weather fans think when teams they've never heard of like West Bromwich Albion, Barnsley, Bradford (and come next season Portsmouth and/or Reading) suddenly appear on the Premier League fixtures at the start of the season. They must know that there's at least one division below the 'big' boys, but the Premier League highlights show never mentions it and it never gets a mention in the paper so what do they care?

* If you need to find a side to follow TSP is proud to announce that we can now provide remote random draws for you. Write in here if you're a poor lost soul who needs help to find the right team for you.

Sunday, 6 April 2003

Bizarre spam of the day.

It started like this,

You are receiving this email because you opted-in to receive special offers from Lucky Prize through one of our online affiliates.

Bullshit. But moving on I allegedly signed up for something called "lucky prize" - so what kind of "lucky" products were they trying to flog to me? Penis extensions? No. Photos of Jennifer Lopez with a horse? No. What I did get was,

Warning! Are you prepared for a natural disaster?

Earthquakes, Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Floods, Wildfires, Ice Storms and now, Terrorism.

These days, it doesn’t matter where you live. Everyone is at risk for one or more of these types of disasters. Global Warming and Political instability in other parts of the world have created an environment where no one is truly safe. And yet most of us go about our lives with the attitude that "it won’t happen to me." The truth is that we have never been more at risk.

If that's the 'lucky' prize then I'll be running a mile when I get an email offering me the 'unlucky' one.
Well, against all odds I actually rounded somebody else up and used my free tickets to the Melbourne Santana concert tonight. It pretty much all went over my head, but the punters seemed to love it and they actually payed their $98.50 (!) so I guess that's all that counts.

My knowledge of Latino music extends merely to some song by Gloria Estefan and that Barcelona Olympic theme so I might have been missing the point but by the halfway mark I'd have enough guitar solos to last a lifetime. Then they decided to debut the 20 minute drum solo. Yes, that's 20 minutes. A third of an hour in my life that'll I'll never get back. Sure, I appreciate the impressive amount of endurance it took to perform but that didn't detract from the fact that it was horrifically boring. Even the "we'll cheer anything" yobbos next to me calmed down for a second about 12 minutes in.

The most amusing part of my night was discovering just how much Carlos himself looked like our old friend Saddam Hussein. I waited the whole night for the US 5th Marine Division to pour out of the audience and launch a decapitation attack on the rhythm section (and probably kill several innocent bystanders and half their own squadron at the same time) but alas it was not to be.

He also started spouting random catchphrases at various points during the evening. Some madness about love and being a positive virus to spread the message about peace to the rest of the world. Admirable sentiments, and the crowd ate it up, but it made him sound completely and utterly barking to tell the truth.

Oh, and I passively smoked enough Ganja to ensure that i'll never pass a drug test again in my life. Thanks ageing hippies!

Tuesday, 1 April 2003

Either Fox News are branching into comedy or this is a highly clever attempt at April Fools Day hilarity.

Fox News had its own response to the demonstrators. The news ticker rimming Fox's headquarters on Sixth Avenue wasn't carrying war updates as the protest began. Instead, it poked fun at the demonstrators, chiding them.

"War protester auditions here today ... thanks for coming!" read one message. "Who won your right to show up here today?" another questioned. "Protesters or soldiers?"

Said a third: "How do you keep a war protester in suspense? Ignore them."

Still another read: "Attention protesters: the Michael Moore Fan Club meets Thursday at a phone booth at Sixth Avenue and 50th Street" - a reference to the film maker who denounced the war while accepting an Oscar on Sunday night for his documentary "Bowling for Columbine."

Mind you, the less said about Fox's headquarters being "rimmed" by a news ticker the better. Those crazy Americans.