Field Theory by Hadyn Green

23

Drinking & Insomnia & the Winter Olympics

I consider these Winter Olympics to be a success. Not in the way that the athletes, the IOC or, for some reason, the organisers might think. Instead I deem the success to be that I actually got to see some of the goddamn events this time around.

It was 2am, and I had been lying wide awake for what seemed like an hour already. I decided to get up and play some video games (because visual stimulation from brightly coloured blinking electronics is bound to make me sleepy). As it turns out, deep in the middle of the night was when Prime TV showed the winter Olympics, live and free to air.

On screen was Skeleton, one of my favourite events. Sliders - which is not just a type of small hamburger - reach speeds of roughly 130kph, while blasting downhill on what is basically a high-tech version of a purloined real estate sign. I don't feel safe driving in a car at 130kph, let alone with my face inches from the road, as sliders do on their way down the course.

As a bonus, New Zealander Ben Sanford was in action (he ended up in 20th, between Austria's Raphael Maier and America's Kyle Tress). But who cares about placing, his moko-inspired helmet and uniform was easily one of the coolest there, and there were a few to choose from.

Next night at 4am, the insomnia is back. I decide to see what's on at Sochi. Oh, only the USA vs Russia in ice hockey.

Ice hockey, I'm told, looks much faster in real life. I'm not sure how. On my large HDTV I was only just able to track the puck and the changes of direction in play were astonihsingly fast, not to mention the shots and (usually) saves. I still have no idea what is going on at most times, but damn it's a fun sport to watch. 

I could only watch two periods of play before I finally fell asleep. The Russians would go on to lose in any case (far more entertaining was the bronze medal match between the US and Finland: Suomi voitti).

I thought my Olympic viewing was over as I regained the ability to sleep through the night. But I managed to catch the four man bobsled while having drinks at the pub, another favourite of mine. (The event not the pub).

As I watched, a crew from (I believe) Canada crashed. When you are travelling well about 100kph the last thing you want to do is to suddenly flip on your side and slide along on your head with the wight of a four man bobsled on your neck.

This last weekend, after a productive morning tearing down a fence, my partner and I watched the figure skating gala. It's awesome; so, so awesome. The comedy mixed with grace and agility is amazing then you realsie they're doing it on skates, usually backwards.

Which brings me to the sound recording. You may already have listened to it, if so I apologise. My friend Dom and I were waiting to watch the Chiefs play the Crusaders (and as it turns out, beat them, which was nice). We were watching snowboarding highlights and had been drinking, when we began discussing whether snowboarding, slope style and other "judged" sports should be in the Olympics. That's when I thought: "Hey, if I record this then I don't have to write it down!" You join us as we discuss whether the Winter Olympics is "any good".

Enjoy (unless it's terrible, then I'm sorry).

6

Scary Stories

As a writer I love a good challenge, especially if it’s short and easily conquered (because as a non-Man Booker-winning writer I am also lazy). So a few months ago I was intrigued by this widely shared Reddit thread: What is the best horror story you can come up with in two sentences.

This was the top story:

I begin tucking him into bed and he tells me, “Daddy check for monsters under my bed.” I look underneath for his amusement and see him, another him, under the bed, staring back at me quivering and whispering, “Daddy there’s somebody on my bed.”

You may be of a different opinion to me (i.e. wrong), but I don’t find this scary at all. I much prefer this one:

My sister says that mommy killed her. Mommy says that I don't have a sister.

This one needed better construction but is pretty great:

The doctors told the amputee he might experience a phantom limb from time to time. Nobody prepared him for the moments though, when he felt cold fingers brush across his phantom hand.

And this one:

Don't be scared of the monsters, just look for them. Look to your left, to your right, under your bed, behind your dresser, in your closet but never look up, she hates being seen.

But because it’s Reddit, sometimes the responses are better than the stories:

“It's been watching me for hours now... Sometimes I catch glimpses of its reflexion on the computer screen, but I dare not turn around...”

“You could at least stop masturbating.”

Reading down through the stories a few elements become noticeable. Women, children, darkness, sleep. Most of the stories seem to revolve around hearing or feeling something strange near you just before falling asleep or rousing you from sleep. Creepy children and creepy women are often the cause of the noises or the ones who are dead (see the “sister” and “monster” story above).

I find it interesting that the fears haven’t changed much since the days of Poe and Lovecraft. Simple stories of things that are visible just out of the corner of your eye and that you only hear because it’s quiet at night, and they mostly come at night… mostly.

How do you break these memes? How do you make something scary in broad daylight? Stephen King, one of the best short story writers ever, is a master of altering the setting and making you scared of anything. Derry’s killer clown is often seen in sunlight. Cujo is a wonderfully gruesome story on a hot day in a car. The Moving Finger is a story about a very weird monster, but is really just about a guy who can’t go to the bathroom around other people.

Recently it seems as if we have turned away from traditional monsters to scare us as well. No one sits down with the Devil anymore. Vampires, werewolves and even Frankenstein are action heroes, not midnight terrors.

We also don’t fear animals or nature. There are no wolves at our door. No spiders crawling over our faces while we sleep, laying eggs in our ears, screaming as thousands of baby spiders pour through our sinuses and eating our eyes from the inside out. I couldn’t get that idea out of my head the other night when I noticed a big white-tailed spider on my bedroom ceiling the other night.

Mediums for horror are increasing though. A few months back friends of mine who are also game writers discussed making horror games. There are some great games out there to scare the hell out of you (Slender Game comes to mind). But we were talking cooperative games, ones that would intentionally split your party, cut off your friend’s voice from communications and then introduce an AI character pretending to be your friend. A videogame version of The Thing.

YouTube and Vimeo have a wonderful trove of short horror films (bringing that genre back from the dead… so to speak).

One Last Dive from jasoneisener on Vimeo.

And if you’ll indulge me, the horror film I co-wrote (and won awards for):

So enjoy this haunted time of the year, think of all of the things that terrify you. Listen to some spooky tunes and watch a movie that will have you wide awake in the middle of the night.

Because it’s All Hallows Eve when the dead walk the earth and darkness falls across the land. When creatures crawl in search of blood to terrorize y'all's neighbourhood. And whosoever shall be found, without the soul for getting down, must stand and face the hounds of hell and rot inside a corpse's shell … and though you fight to stay alive your body starts to shiver, for no mere mortal can resist, the evil of the thriller.

2

Winners!

Hey so what happens when you follow your international travel with a chest infection? Not a lot of writing it turns out. This uniform competition has officially gone on too long, and like a 40min boat race, it’s time to call an end.

The best rugby uniform in the world right now is (drum roll)… The All Blacks!

And it was a huge victory with the national team taking 70% of the vote against a uniform that I thought was the worst of the NZ super franchises. So adidas’ #1 jersey is #1 overall. Look at how pretty it is in black and white and red!

The other winner is the person who picks up the three bags of Eden Coffee coffee beans for putting their name down for the vote. And that winner (by random number generator) is: Dave Patrick! Dave voted for (I’m sure he wouldn’t be embarrassed by my printing his private votes in public) France over New Zealand and I salute him for it.

Dave drop me a line via the email link below and I’ll sort out getting that coffee to you.

Thanks to everyone who entered. It’s been a fun little exercise and an eye opening/watering one in some cases, hope yall had as much fun as I did.

4

The Final

This is why we can’t have nice things. I mean, I go away for a week (to Brunei, story about that coming up) and leave the voting on the uniform bracket open for a lot longer than I expected to and then I come back to this…

In the match-up between the Chiefs and the Crusaders, the glorious red and black simple uniforms of Canterbury lost to the orange, black and gold of the Chiefs 56%-44%. As much as I love my Chiefs, their uniform does look like it’s sponsored by McDonald’s.

Meantime over in the international jersey competition, New Zealand’s black jersey with three white letters on the chest (that aren’t “NZL”) took on the beautiful royal blue throw back French uniforms. New Zealand won that one 58%-42%.

Sigh. I knew that my two favourites (France, Stormers) wouldn’t make it; I just wasn’t sure how betrayal would taste.

In all seriousness though, I think it says a lot about the various jersey makers and designers that our top four were all adidas strips and that Nike, Reebok and Kooga have a long way to go in terms of rugby uniform design. Canterbury is ok, but what is with all the piping?

In the international jerseys big broad strokes of colour (France, NZ, South Africa, England) always seem to fair better than bitsy “clever” designs (US, Scotland, Australia) and it’s similar at the franchise level where the solid colours of NZ teams won out over the odd colour combos from South Africa. Also no one likes Australia, sorry Australia.

So what are our two finalists like?

Chiefs: All black front chest panel, yellow sleeve panels with red trim, collar and under-arm panels. Names of the feeder provinces listed around the collar, and embossed Maori design around the midriff.

The red and yellow seem brighter than the Waikato ITM cup jersey, though that might just be because of the orientation. There is a giant BNZ ad on the front but it’s plain white and it’s hard to knock a franchise for having advertising.

The away strip simply replaces the black with white swaps the black for white and swaps the red and yellow around (adding red to the inside of the "cleavage" too). The adidas and Chiefs logo are changed a little too however the BNZ logo suddenly becomes blue which makes no goddamn sense whatsoever. The away strip also looks a lot more like the players are working the grill at Maccas.

New Zealand: All black… because y’know. Ok, maybe not all black, there is that white collar. On the inside of the collar are the words “World Champions” along with 1987 and 2011. There are no seams, the jersey is a tube. The All Blacks are a series of tubes (this is a joke I am recycling).

I’m sure we’re all aware of my thoughts on the “AIG” that sits on the front. As sponsors logos go, it’s fairly inoffensive, the idea of having a logo on the front is far more so. I know we used to have worse sponsors logos but for some reason you lose some of your mythos once you add a corporation to your shirt. The only hope we have is that the alternate white strip keeps the AIG in white too.

10

Boos 'n' All

I’m not sure if Quade Cooper was expecting boos, when he took the field last week. I mean, it was a home game.

Originally the boos were a form of protest after Cooper’s “brilliant” idea to niggle (and there is no better word for it than that) Richie McCaw in 2011. We booed not so much at Cooper antagonising a helpless McCaw (Brad Thorne was there to help clean up, after all), but for what seemed to be poor sportsmanship. The annoying bugger, who was a fairly good player, now seemed to be specifically going out of his way to be annoying. But since then the “fairly good player” part of Quade Cooper seems to have dropped off.

It must weigh on a young guy like Cooper (25). At the height of your career you had the same profile as a bad guy in professional wrestling. At least he’s better than Jesse Mogg. Though I think Rich Irvine said it best in his latest Sport Review cartoon:

(Click for the punchline.)

So yeah, it’s probably time to stop the booing. I remember the press conference where a gleeful Graham Henry, when asked about the booing, said that New Zealanders will stop when they want to and that Cooper probably deserved it. Yes he did, but that time has passed, and so has the best part of his career. Perhaps we need to shout something different:

In a corollary, Alex Rodriguez is on the end of some deserved booing from opposition fans. (For those who don’t know, A-Rod has been suspended for a record length of time for using PEDs, but is still playing because he’s appealing the length of the ban). At a recent game against the Red Sox he was hit by a pitch in his first at-bat.

The reason I bring up this moment is because he wasn’t hit by the first pitch, but only because the pitcher was terrible. He was hit by the fourth pitch. All four pitches were inside and close and all were intentional.

It’s worth noting that the pitcher was warned but not thrown out, while Yankees manager Joe Girardi was thrown out for arguing. Have a listen to Girardi on why he defended his player so angrily more than you might expect from a coach who's under attack from that player’s lawyers.

Girardi’s comments at the end speaks volumes about sports fan culture at its ugliest:

“What is wrong with people? You cheer when someone gets hit? Y'know I'm gonna say it again, what if that was your son? Y'know, what if your son got hit? Breaks an arm, gets hit in the head has a concussion? Man, I'd be embarrassed... Wonder what's wrong with our world today.”

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As a quick note, I'm out of the country fighting for your freedoms at the latest round of the TPP negotiations this week, so you all get an extension on your uniform voting.  

(As of Friday, NZ and the Chiefs have very slim leads over their rivals)