Monday, 23 October 2017

Finally, the truth behind NZ Political Sporting Witchcraft Revealed

The rule book keeping politics out of sport has been firmly ripped up today, as New Zealand reels at revelations of the extent to which their leaders have been meddling with the results of their favourite teams through the medium of curses, evil spells, and general witchcraftery.

The scandal, which threatens to destroy the very seat of parliament, the Beehive, in a large prophylactic bonfire, started to unravel following the shock loss of national rugby team 'the All Blacks' to their Australian counterparts in a closely contested game on Saturday night. Curiously
named New Zealand Herald reporter, NZ Herald-Staff, noted that the loss came barely days after
noted woman Jacinda Ardern had been selected as Prime Minister. Logically, rather than sub-par
performance, excessive hunger for a win in front of a home crowd by Australia, luck of the bounce of
a ball, refereeing performance, or scapegoat waitresses being to blame for the defeat, the reversal of
result was instead due to Ms Ardern placing a supernatural hex upon the team. Further investigation
by Herald-Staff noted that this sort of unsporting behaviour had precedents, with Ms Ardern's
predecessor as Labour Party Leader, Prime Minister, and sub-duck-weighing woman Helen Clark
having held office for nine long years during which the All Blacks had lost some matches.
Furthermore, Dame Jenny Shipley, who like Ardern became Prime Minister despite not even winning an election, once was working when the New Zealand representative team failed to make the final of the World Cup.

When questioned on this anomaly, Ms Ardern was surprisingly forthcoming. 'Look, absolutely, I placed a curse on the All Blacks,' she confessed at her Mt Albert electorate office this afternoon. 'Labour campaigned on a promise of a fairer New Zealand, and really, what could be fairer than letting Australia win a game once in a while? All through the campaign, we were displaying big signs saying Let's Do This. If anyone had stopped to ask, 'what exactly is This?' I'd have been only too glad to clarify. Let's Do a Curse On The All Blacks.'

Actually, Mark, it's pronounced Winggardium LevioSAR
 Further investigation has turned up multiple instances of politicians use witchcraft to influence the outcome of games of sports teams they may see in a negative light. After Ms Clark was made patron of New Zealand Rugby League, her successor, John Key, put a jinx on the Warriors' NRL team. 'At the end of the day, I just feel like being a bit of an arsehole, actually,' he is rumoured to have told his deputy, Bill English. English was in turn himself the victim of an evil spell cast by Don Brash in 2002, which saw him lose a charity boxing bout and an election by embarrassing margins, and set in to place a chain of events that saw Brash become leader of the National Party, and threatened to send the country back to the 1840s.

Don't worry guys, he got up again. Cos they're never gonna keep him down.
Perhaps the most potentially infamous practice of dark magic, however, was Judith Collins's 2013 use of a dark incantation when, with Emirates Team New Zealand holding a seemingly unbeatable 8-1 lead in the America's Cup, she mistook Dean Barker's giant catamaran for a modified Subaru WRX. Sources say Collins had become drunk with perceived power after being placed in Slytherin House on a Pottermore quiz, and that to this day she still boasts about the time she made Dave Dobbyn cry.

One man who wants to reduce the influence politicians are having on sports results is Wellington philanthropist, economist, politician, footballing mastermind, ailurophobe, beach lover, witch-smeller pursuivant, and all-round good guy Gareth Morgan. Morgan, perhaps more than most, knows the lengths to which members of government will go to manipulate a fixture to their own ends.

'For ten years, the Wellington Phoenix have attracted the wrath of the Peter Dunne,' Morgan stated. 'People have long suspected him to look the part of a slightly creepy children's magician, the bow tie, the hair... But he's actually a dark, dark wizard. People think TOP was The Opportunities Party; Actually it was Take Out Peter, but the general public were too fucking stupid to see that, to see the evil in the man.'

The real reason they didn't get in is Gareth kept standing in front of the instruction to vote 
Morgan states that when the current ownership consortium took over the club, they hoped Dunne may have called his curse off, ending the run of poor results. 'We thought it was Terry Serepisos's unpaid tax bills that we're getting on his goat. But it was the crest. The Phoenix on the crest had a powerful bouffant, and Peter saw it as a challenge to his own. He needed the poor results to see the club go under, so his magnificent hairdo could remain unchallenged. But then he got voted out, so with a best squad ever, we think the Phoenix this year are going to have their strongest season yet.'

Some sort of freaky mirror image
Morgan famously launched his party in 2016 with a promise to light a fuse under parliament, fire being the only known way to destroy a known evil wizard or witch. So with Dunne gone, does that mean he will rest? 'No. The evidence shows that New Zealand needs a strong anti-black-magic party in parliament to keep the bastards in check and protect the integrity of our sports teams, but the public are just too moronic to see that now. Maybe the All Blacks losing will wake the Sheeple up, finally.'

And the cat culling policy? As with all TOP policy, it's based on sound evidence.'Kill their familiars,' says Morgan. 'The magic can't survive without the familiars.'

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Thule Uban Glide running buggy review

A little while back, I interviewed professional ultra- and stroller- runner Michael Wardian, for what I had hoped at the time would be an inspirational and motivating piece for the Spinoff. My intentions were pure, but alas the sitting back and awaiting sports journalism awards to fall into my lap meant I wasn't doing much in the way of actual running. Again, something needed to change.

It was my lovely wife who suggested that perhaps what I needed for motivation was to enter a race. Not just any race, but my all time favourite race, the Tarawera Ultramarathon. If I entered in June, that would give me eight or nine months to get myself up to pace before race day. Of course, my recent history of entering ultramarathon a was hardy stellar. Three years previously I had signed up for the same race, only to find out barely weeks later that we were expecting our second child. Surely history couldn't repeat though, could it?

Don't let me down, Neil Finn

History repeated. Barely weeks after paying a few hundred dollars for the provision of a day of pain, we found out we were expecting our third child.

But... There was still an opening here! Rachel seemed convinced that this was an excuse to upgrade our perambulation equipment, and it turned out there was a specialist paediatric transportation shop just down the road from my parents' house! Soon, an expensive Thule Urban Glide double running buggy had arrived on our doorstep in a massive box, bearing the promise 'fits through most doors.'

Perfect for transporting your relationship's third AND fourth wheels

Unsurprisingly, pushing a stroller with twice the child-carrying capacity came with some downsides compared to the standard single buggy I was used to pushing. For one thing, it was twice the weight when fully laden. Secondly, I couldn't get into supermarkets with it, as although Thule had taken into mind the width of 'most doors,' they hadn't given any thought to those one way clacky supermarket security gates.

I needed to test the pram with a decent run, however. I checked with my old mate Mike as to whether there is a current double-stroller marathon world record, in the hope that if it was vacant, I could claim it by default. Unfortunately he thought there probably was. So I'd have to do some training, build up to the distance, so I allowed myself to be talked into a local charity 10km fun run along the local Manawatu river tracks.

The use of the term fun run should have raised alarm bells to start off with. I enjoy running. At least the idea of running. I'm not sure I could every describe it as truly 'fun' though. It's a grind, especially when you find yourself pushing a combined 40kg of child and pram.

So this morning I packed the kids into the Urban Glide, chucked in a couple of soft toys and snacks in the oh-so-sizeable zipable compartment at the base of the buggy, and headed out towards the startline. We started at the back of the pack in expectation of lack of fitness causing slow going, but soon, true to its name, the wheels started to smoothly glide across the frictionless asphalt, and we were impatiently overtaking other competitors. However, It wasn't long until my arms began to let me know exactly how displeased they were at having to propel the equivalent of a fully laden shopping trolley in front of them.

Ooooh, political

Not just a sedate, well-behaved shipping trolley though. This one had an attitude. Two attitudes even. 'Start running faster,' it scolded. 'I don't want to come last, overtake those people in front of us!'  'Can I have some chocolate now?' 'Why are you walking up this hill?' 'Why did grandma send their goldfish to the old goldfish hospital, and when is it coming back?' 'I'm hungry, I want some chocolate.' 'DON'T PUSH ME IN THE WATER!!!' 'PLEEEEAAAASE can we have some chocolate?'

Still, having a couple of not completely unsightly small children being pushed in front of me was proving a good way of getting additional support from bystanders. We reached the turnaround point, and headed back along the river. 3km to go, and a martial shouted at us, 'you're 4th, 5th and 6th.' It barely needed pointing out that the 6th place was held by the guy doing all the work. We passed a couple of firefighters, waking the 10km distance in full uniform, and with oxygen tanks on their back. Their extra load at least seemed better distributed than mine was.

A further 500m on, we were suddenly surrounded by walkers out for the shorter 5km option, and the superior manoeuvrability provided by the single front wheel, far in excess of what you'd expect from a double pram, came into its own. The comments kept on coming from other competitors: 'Oh, seeing you push that makes me feel guilty!' Feel free to trade places with me, then.

Finally, the finish line was in sight. A few posed photos, then I deftly tried to flip around, so I could cross the finish line before the kids. I'd done all the hard work, and I was going to be damned if the free-wheeling kids finished before I did. Unfortunately, all I managed to was to narrowly avoid flipping the buggy right in front of their mother. Insult was added to injury as my son was handed a consolation spot prize as soon as we'd uprighted ourselves. Nothing for Dad.

This was probably the first long run I've done where I've ended with my arms notably more weary and sore than my legs, but all in all, the three of us did have an enjoyable time, and the Thule Urban Glide provided probably the easiest and most comfortable means for me to complete such a run with two preschoolers in tow. And we beat the dad with the Phil and Ted double buggy, so read into that what you will.

And now, I guess, we're looking onwards, to the Ashhurst to Esplanade half marathon next month. That double buggy marathon record awaits.