Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Soz, Bro....A Public Apology to Josh McCrone

Raiders! Their win on the weekend over the hapless Eels! I loved it, of course, but since then I've been too deeply immersed in Trick My Truck and Teen Mom 2 to string together anything much in terms of a comprehensive Victory Post. That will come next week after we play the Roosters, although realistically I could get it out of the way now because the writing is already all over the wall for that game. Sorry, Roosters, but I mean, honestly. You suck right now.

Let's leave it to Steven Kearney and his typically neat and succinct post-game summation when he simply said his Eels were "out-enthused". To this I nodded my assent and said, also neatly and succinctly, "damn straight, Kearney". By the way, he is a good looking Polynesian man, yeh? Yeh, I thought so.

Now. Turning to more important matters and the purpose of this post - what I really want to do is extend an olive branch, a live dove held in a white glove and a formal apology to Josh McCrone for the insults and abuse I heaped on him last year. Sorry, bro. Really. I apologise. Last year was rough on all of us.

What's more; and not meaning to deflect here, but I think the entire Raiders organisation also owes the kid an apology, and probably a nice apartment over Belconnen way too. Or a speedboat, in which case they should seek Greg Inglis' expert council. Call it compensation for what I imagine was a harrowing  and self-esteem shaking pre-season. In case you've forgotten, Terry Campese went down with an epic injury, Canberra was left with a gaping hole in their halves and Matt Orford was duly hustled in from the English wilderness and signed at considerable cost and to considerable fanfare before proving to be the dud buy of the 2011 season. What all this pre-season panic meant for McCrone was that a general lack of faith was shown in his ability to be at all effective in the halves.

I guess the fact that he actually was largely ineffectual in the halves had something to do with Furner's lack of faith, but I can't help but think that this was a fundamental coaching error. And yes, I am aware that coming from me this is an entirely hypocritical line of thought, given that I spent last season hating on him with the fervor of a flinty-eyed religious zealot. and followed the fight to sign Orford with breathless anticipation.

I mean, it's not like I egged his house or left burning bags of dogshit on his doorstep - try as I might I could never get a hold of his address - but I heaped hate on the boy like there was no tomorrow.Thing was, he was playing poxy football and I took a personal and somewhat irrational dislike to him. This sort of thing does happen. You could call it passion, I suppose, but there comes a point where it's easier and more accurate to just call it prejudice.

This descent from passion into prejudice was demonstrated when the Joel Monaghan With Dog scandal broke late last year. I heard the hijinks took place at a player by the name of Josh's house and immediately broke into an Iago-esque soliloquy damning Josh McCrone to the seventh circle of hell for  - obviously - masterminding such a stunt, and fuming, furthermore, that wasn't he just the type to have an eager to please golden retriever / yellow lab (the picture was inconclusive, remember) as a pet?

miss you Monaghs, not the same without you boo..

Never mind the fact that it was actually Josh Miller's house, no, never mind that at all. I mean, you can see how those Salem witch trials got ever so slightly out of hand can't you? All it takes is someone (me, say) to not like the cut of someone else's jib (McCrone's, in this instance, although he's not Robinson Crusoe here, trust) and all sorts of expansive and imaginative ideas take root in the skull and come to fruition with alarming force.

Anyway, not to put too finer point on it but his game really was as ordinary as unbuttered toast last year, and even though he got better as the year wore on the damage was fone and the die was cast.

When my brother came from Sydney to see Alan Tongue's 200th game with me McCrone made some characteristically foolish mistake and either he or his girlfriend, both of whom it has to be said are in possession of robust 'outside' voices, hollered in response "HE CAN'T SEE - HIS EYES ARE TOO CLOSE TOGETHER". I think they followed this up with some comments  of a more general nature, i.e. comparing him to a cyclops.

Still on them, somewhat inexplicably they had wound up sitting in the Chook Pen - both wearing sets of huge gold viking horns - at a Roosters Raiders match a few weeks prior and had reported gleefully that some repellant bogan-ette behind them (my brother thinks Roosters fans are the ugliest and most altogether abhorrent fans in the entire league, by the way - "They're not even FUNNY-FUCKED like Bulldog fans, they're just FUCKED") had spent most of the game screeching "SUCK-SHIT MOTHERFUHHHHHHCKERSSSSS!" at the Raiders, basically on their every play. Impressed, he brought this heckle with him down the Hume and employed it liberally in showing his appreciation of the Cowboys' cock-ups. Of which there were many. Bruce was a veritable slaughterhouse that night. A slaughterhouse with Willie Mason as overseer. Awesome.

Anyway, so McCrone's eyes are close togather. All football players have their crosses to bear. Just as Josh Dugan has to contend with being ridiculously, inexplicably good looking and Cameron Smith has to (or should) shave his shoulders twice daily, (see exhibits A and B below) so too must Josh McCrone deal with looking like some kind of cyclops. Who cares?


I can afford to be cavalier now given his remarkable and revelatory surge in form this season - who knew he had it in him; other than Joey, of course, who spent most of last year simultaneously training him and talking him up? Now? Word to opposing teams: Give the boy a mere touch of the ball or an inch of space at your peril! How many linebreaks did he make against the Eels, about a dozen? Amazing. And how well does he partner with Sam the-best-thing-out-of-Cooma Williams? Also, it seems hardly possible, but he looks to be even swifter and nippier than last year, and, best of all, he conducted a post-game interview while wearing a mouthguard. Respect.

Yes, I am impressed and humbled, well spotted.

Remorsefully  and respectfully apologetic, too; so here's to you, Mr. McCrone - may the wind always be at your back, and may bitches such as myself never breathe a cruel word in your direction again.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Johnathan Thurston's Dark Appetites

It may have been the round for the ladies but for me this weekend was very much about the mans. More of that later, though, because this was also the weekend where rugby league went bi-coastal. That's coast to coast, bitches: East meets West!

In case you missed the Friday night game in Perth - and if you did, take a look at yourself and sort that shit out - this is how it looked, for eighty awesome minutes.

It was without a doubt one of the more astonishing and captivating games I've seen. Bizarre, too, because for reasons which will never be clear, at least to me, the Bunnies seemed to play pretty much their best footy of the season in the worst conditions of the season. In a pond, essentially. What's that about? Greg Inglis is obviously a natural mudder, because he had a bit of a blinder up against Justin Hodges and also looked to be enjoying himself - I know, I didn't think it was possible either - but what of the other Bunnies, what's doing there? Frankly, they are too mystifying and enigmatic a team for me to ever get a hold on, so they don't bear thinking about. Next.

Perth was pandemonium, anyway. The ball was squirting all over the place, Rhys Wesser scored an outlandish try on the back of the ball coming to a dead stop in the swamp at the Broncos' end, Dave Taylor looked like nothing so much as a great white shark who had found himself washed up into shallow waters and everyone's shorts came loose at one time or another. Also, Darren Lockyer made several extravagant wet weather-type errors, which I applauded. I don't know what it says about my character but I enjoy seeing the Greats get a bit sloppy every now and again. Especially if they're Maroons, that really blows my hair back.

There was a loose, festive atmosphere over there; among the players, obviously, because the game just looked like mad fun for all, but among the spectators as well. Bear in mind that all fifteen thousand of them were unencumbered by umbrellas, which - so much for the last frontier - are outlawed in their stadium. Still, I think what that rule really in essence allows for is extra hands to hold extra cans. From the footage I saw, the West Australians have a good grasp on the way this seemingly stupid rule ultimately balances out in their favour. This is the state that gave us Ben Cousins, after all.

If the game had been on the East Coast in that kind of monsoonal weather I imagine there would have been a kind of grim, gothic, slaugherhouse vibe to proceedings, but apparently the good people of Perth are untroubled by inclement weather, and why wouldn't they be? I'd be light of heart and largely carefree too if I lived over there in the land of milk and honey and huge holes in the ground, I'm sure of it. I'd have a ute, it'd be awesome.

I was so fixated on the game that at the end I actually thought my eyes or - more likely - my mind was malfunctioning when I saw John Lang launch into a belly slide through a huge puddle post-game. I blinked in that way you do when you're snapping out of a micro-sleep and find your car to be running off the road and need to get on top of the situation in a hurry. And here I was all this time thinking John Lang was a lousy,dour old coot. Think again! He is obviously just as wild and reckless a ratbag as those hooligans he coaches. This realisation raised for me the very real possibility that he also has 'my brother's keeper'  stenciled on his person somewhere under that Driza-Bone.

Sam Burgess, out for the season with a yeast infection or something and obviously bone-idle, added to the vaudeville vibe by having a crack at some sideline commentary. This pleased me. I appreciate Channel Nine continuing their affiliation with completely incoherent but endlessly endearing sideline commentators ('sup Freddie!) Not counting Joey here, obviously. He strings insightful observations together into sentences like it's nobody's business.

So did this weekend have it all or what? The concept of 'wet-weather football' was spectacularly redefined, the Panthers wore pink and made the Cowboys their bitches, Billy Slater crashed painfully into fence railings while playing the Warriors, the Roosters continued their entertaining slide down to the cellar, and of course the Mighty Raiders got a win, taking their tally to four wins for the year. Go you good Raiders. Hold your applause, though, as this deserves a stand-alone post. Also, I have a personal apology to Josh McCrone pending. Gird your loins for that one, godknows I am.

What else? Well, Paul Gallan continued to win at life, and Scott Prince continued to suck at life, basically. This was all neatly illustrated when the Sharks met and dismenmbered the Titans on Saturday. They set upon them like a pack of hyenas tearing into a carcass, which is to say with remorseless enthusiasm and a good deal of savagery. It was great stuff, if somewhat obscene at times.

Poor Prince. He has a look about him lately that someone might wear when a ship is going down. I think the only thing that could make him look any more dazed and dejected right now would be if David Gallop were to suddenly order an audit on the Titans. Can you imagine? In effect, what would happen here is that Gallop and his cronies would huff and puff and blow down that allegedly illegal house that the Titans allegedly built for Prince.

I occasionally visualise this actually happening - I know, sometimes I think of all the constructive things I could be doing too, but not for long, not when I have such a rich vein of NRL related absurdities to tap - and, if I substitute the haystack house for some palatial pile on an artificial canal or whatever it is those rort-happy Titans knocked up for him, this is exactly the vision I get:

My advice to Scott Prince is this: wait until you wake up one day and see a wrecking ball coming through your pool room, Princey, because then and only then will that ship-going-down look be warranted.

In the meantime, and speaking of sinking ships, I have the Roosters to turn my attentions to.
The Roosters, being a team in free-fall and all, continued to make things difficult for themselves yesterday. Trifling matters like staying onside seem not to trouble lately, and they are also locked into an untidy habit whereby should they manage to score they inevitably cock-up the next set. On tackle one, usually. You could set your watch to it.

None of this worries me though, not with Todd Carney back and fresh to death. Ineffectual in terms of play, maybe, but details, details. After all, if the Roosters care not for details why should I? Anyway, it pleases me to see him back on the burning deck and representing for the Women in League round, because we all know he and Leanne are the tightest mother-son unit in the league - possibly the world - and that he would be totally wearing the pink six just for her. And damn if the boy doesn't wear it well. Know what else he'd wear well? Me. Just sayin'.

Okay. Given that I've started in on the sexual objesctification of football players, it's only natural that I now turn my gimlet eye to the Penrith Panthers. The what-now?! I know, that is not a sentence I ever expected to write either.

I am of the opinion that the Panthers are one of the uglier teams in the league. Unless you're rudely superficial, as I am, this is neither here nor there; if anything I suppose you could argue it actually enhances their mountain-man image. If I had my way I'd have them expand on this image exponentially - I'd consign them to shacks in the hills during the week, lash dead deer to the bonnets of their cars and have them brew moonshine on the side. Gus Gould, pay attention.

Anyway, they may not be pretty but they wear pink with dead set panache. No wonder they ran rings around the Cowboys, dressed like that how could they possibly lose? Johnathan Thurston was totally the Jan to Luke Lewis' Marcia Brady out there at Penrith yesterday, and I am as astonished by this as anybody else with eyes, believe you me.

Thurston is outrageously good looking. Let's be real, he is. I like his eyes, they're shiny and they have a bit of a feral look to them. This gives the impression that he is a man of many appetites, some healthier than others.

Last year when he was thrown out of that Brisbane casino for allegedly "harrassing partons with his crutch"? My instantaneous and absolutely instinctive first thought upon hearing that quote was "he could harrass me with that crotch anytime". I know, I know, stop that sniggering up the back. Anyway, my point is that he is unmistakably, insanely hot.

However. LUKE LEWIS. Now, Luke Lewis is nothing if not a towering meathead with an unusually heavy eyebrow ridge. Essentially, he strikes me as the type who would spend the majority of his downtime lolling on patio furniture with one testicle hanging out of his shorts. There is nothing inherently wrong with this; actually there is plenty to like about such a scenario. It's just that prior to Origin Two I never really noticed the guy. The reasons for this oversight are obvious: men like Johnathan Thurston and Matt Cooper who prowl the field like they're big cats patrolling the perimetres of their own personal pieces of savannah. Bitches need to step off from time to time.

With Luke Lewis out there all pretty in pink I paid far less attention to JT, except for when he deliberately headed the ball forward and looked for a moment like he was about to lay into the ref when scolded with "it's not soccer Johnathan", that sure caught my interest. And, really, so did all the times when he showed that crazy instinct that allows him to know exactly where the ball is, exactly where it's going to go and exactly where he needs to be -which is basically his game for the entire eighty, now that I think about it.

Still, all the Panthers looked great, even the dog-ugly annonymous ones, of which there are - correction: were, prior to yesterday - several. Even that elusive, once-sighted and unidentified Panther who had the longest, stringiest ratstail I have ever seen attached to a football player hanging out the back of his jersey, even he looked distinguished. So, you know, something there for everyone over the weekend.

And the moral of this small story? There is no moral, fool, this is football.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Med Free!

Things have shifted gears for me. Incredibly, I lost the clanks a day or two back. All that remains on that front is some insomnia and, when sleep does come, lavish night-sweats which cause me to wake up in abrupt, unpleasant circumstances - tangled in wet flannalette and wild of hair, eye and mind - earlier and earlier each morning. Six...five-thirty...five - do you have any idea how unwelcomingly cold and dark and foggy the world appears in those first few minutes having woken up in a toxic lather at five a.m. in June? No, I don't suppose you do, because I imagine you have your sanity and wits about you. However, you're reading this blog, so who really knows? Even my cats, who are almost eternally up in my face with reminders to deliver them their next meal and to make it snappy don't much care for the new hours I'm keeping. I'm actually enjoying the irriation they experience at these early hours when I sweep them off the bed with one savage shake of my fetid bedding and send them flying around the room; it's retributive, and who among us doesn't love dishing out a little gentle retribution? Incredibly, given the hour and all, they mostly manage to land elegantly and on their feet, after they slide down off the walls and ceiling.

Anyways, I think after a week of being dangerously adrift my head has returned to its moorings. I felt to be in control of my faculties enough to drive my car this morning and had considerable success keeping it out of ditches, shrubbery and the path of oncoming traffic. This gave me a sense of great satisfaction and over-all well being and I came home and immediately lapsed into a disembodied kind of auto-piloting state that saw me undertake a series of strange, fiddly domestic tasks in an altogether speedy and euphoric frame of mind. Several hours later I've wound down a little and am still now walking into different rooms in my house wondering who reconfigured the furniture, how the heating vents have become so free of dust and debris and why the fuck my bookshelves have been emptied, pine-o-cleaned and rearranged in a complicated system combining, as far as I can make out, the alphabetic and the thematic.

I feel lethal and feisty and lucid of soul, spirit and demeanor all at the same time and if that makes minimal sense I believe another way of putting it is I think I feel a bit better..

Friday, 24 June 2011

The First Rule of Fight Club Is

Word to the Storm: I am allll up inside your shit. WE ALL ARE.

There's nothing like being camped comfortably at the top of the table to make a team feel hunted and persecuted and hated by all, is there? Not if you buy into the Storm's cough *bullshit* cough attitude there isn't. It must be terrible for them, all that winning. Only, here's the thing. Call me particular, but employing an objectionable tackling style is no way to command the respect of adversaries. Neither is assuming any kind of a seige mentality. The very idea of a team as successful as the Storm taking up an 'us against the world' stance makes me feel....less than serene.

The way I see it, this mentality can only be seen to be credible when it's coming from an underdog team. Any footy fan worth their salt knows that to be a true underdog is in its own peculiar way a precious position to be in. A team that struggles to attract media attention and/or top talent is, basically by default, a team that struggles to attract respect. It's been shown time and time again that being underrated by other teams - being afforded valuable underdog status, in other words - can work very much in an 'under the radar' team's favour. Right now, coming into Round 16, do you think teams are going to prepare to take on the Raiders with the same intensity as if they were to be facing a benchmark team like the Dragons or  - god help us - Manly? Please.

Craig Bellamy is as cunning and wily as a fox and he's obviously an incredible coach, but the whole 'everybody's only talking about Sika Manu's crusher tackle because we're at the top of the ladder' defense? Belly, please. We're all talking about the crusher tackle because it's a dirty, dodgy move, and because we all know the Storm lead the way in employing controversial - read: dirty, dodgy - tackling tactics.

It's no coincidence that Manu also dropped his knees into Gareth Ellis' calves in what appeared to be a blatant effort to slow down the play-the-ball. You really think if the lowly Titans or Bulldogs busted out the same martial-arts style moves they wouldn't attract exactly the same kind of scrutiny, not to mention the wrath of Robbie Farah, that you guys have?

Just on that: was Farah fuming or what? I love seeing Robbie all wound up. It suits his defense-force like demeanor down to the ground. The man is a tightly coiled spring, of which I approve entirely. Well, you don't want a captain who looks like they spend all their down time in a hammock, do you?

Anyway, as you will recall with ease if you've been committing these posts to memory (and if not, why not?), I love to see a captain screaming at a ref with unbridled, enthusiastic hostility. It's hot. It even endeared me to Corey Parker once. Briefly.

no-one does this better than Gal

So when Farah yelled at Ashley Klein something along the lines of "THEY DO IT ALL THE TIME AND GET AWAY WITH IT!" and then said later he's seen Manu do the same thing "one thousand times" I found myself nodding sagely and saying "I don't doubt it, Robbie, I don't doubt it." He's very credible, is Robbie. And, of course, the Storm have employed a martial arts master as their wrestling coach for the last ten years - unleashing the chicken wing, the rolling pin, the grapple tackle and the crusher onto the unwitting NRL. Yup, they all originated in Melbourne. Show me something good to come out of this city - other than Eddie Perfect and The Age - and I'll show you something better that Sydney produced without any of the self-conscious fanfare. Sorry, Melbourne, but that's the way it is. Next.

The chicken wing holds a special place in my heart. I remember well the first time I heard the term, and the fact that I learned what a chicken wing was and paid a visit to the Big Prawn all in the same afternoon was a treat beyond dimension. I have to reign it in here and steer myself away from discussion of the BP lest I irreversibly inflame my righteous ire and lose all focus, but expect a stand-alone post on the subject of the BP's shameful state of neglect forthwith.

So. To the chicken wing, years ago. It was my brother - one minute sitting serenely next to me in a Ballina pub watching the Raiders being destroyed (most probably), the next minute leaping out of his chair and bellowing "RAGDOLL 'IM!" - I imagine in anticipation of an impending, violent tackle - who first brought the whole concept of bizarre, WWF-style tackles to my attention. I didn't pay rugby league then the attention I do now, more's the pity, but you don't have to have any feeling for the game at all to find the idea of rag-dolling innately brilliant and emotionally stirring. It really broke me up. I fell apart even more when, bolstered by my sudden, saucer-eyed  interest in matters of brutality he explained to me, in vivid language and with lavish gestures, what it meant to 'chicken wing' somebody.

Then the publican came over and asked him to lower his voice so he lowered his voice and then the publican asked him if he could kindly put his pants back on too, and had to supply him with a broom so as he could unhook them from the ceiling fan.

I'm just kidding, of course. We left the pants.

Anyway, chicken wings have occupied my thoughts off and on ever since.

Was this before or after the Cameron Smith grapple tackle controversy of 2007?

I have no way of knowing: other than looking it up in old notebooks, of course, for which I lack both the stamina and the inclination. Even if I did'nt, I'm distracted right now by trying to restrain myself from referring to said grapple tackle scandal as 'grapple-gate', because anytime I read or hear about another paltry incident that's had 'gate' tacked onto the catch-word I quietly start to emit smoke. I mean, honestly. Watergate to Brynne-gate, are you fucking kidding me? How did we as a society get from Richard Nixon and the American presidency to a two-bit whore from Oklahoma and Dancing With the Stars? Is it any wonder the mere act of living strains my patience almost beyond belief? I don't think so, no.

This seemingly irresistable compulsion to attach 'gate' to any mildly surprising or vaguely controversial incident deemed worthy of a two minute story on Sunrise or, if it's really thought to resonate, a special three minute report on The Morning Show (Larry Emdur I love you, but, really, you push it) and the fact I find it such a rank affront is symptomatic of a much wider trend, which is of course the dumbing down of all news. This is what really yanks my chain. Sometimes I sit through almost entire news bulletins before realising, usually around the time when I'm readying myself for the sport report, that I've actually been watching Entertainment Tonight or E News all along.

All of this brings me back to the good old grapple tackle (actually it doesn't, but I had to get back there somehow). Unless you have the brain of a mollusc you'll have noticed I have a terribly low tolerance for the Storm. I don't even like the Storm when I'm drunk. Especially not when I'm drunk, actually.

In light of this, I'm clearly not the person to be paying heed to if it's an objective or lucid discussion of grapple and crusher tackles you're after. You'll be far more likely (guaranteed, in fact) to get an objectionable and slanderous diatribe, frankly, except at this point I can't even be bothered delivering that.

I will say that Cameron Smith was guilty as all get-out back in 2007. Maybe all the clubs were grappling back then, sure, but it cracks me up to this day that Smith, maniacally competitive over-acheiver that he is, was the one who took the grappling to a whole other level and who, accordingly, copped an extravagent punishment - also on a whole other level - for his efforts.

Is that what they call poetic justice? Is it irony? I don't even know anymore, but it's funny as hell whichever way I look at it.  Speaking of which....

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Matt Elliot - Vale.

Does the lingering image of Matt Elliot pretending to hang himself on his own tie in a press conference now assume a new and arresting significance and evoke a sad poignancy for you?

It does for me. And since I am nothing if not dictatorial - why else would you have a blog -  it damn well should for you too. I have a sour taste in my mouth, which is in itself significant because, in the words of Sammi from Jersey Shore, "I'm the sweetest bitch you'll ever meet".

I find this aspect of the game - the cut-throat culling of coaches, seemingly at the speed of light -  to be far more unseemly than any of the off-field incidents and after-dark indiscretions that are routinely branded as being the number one blight on the modern game. Make no mistake, I'm no fan of the Anthony Watts, Junior Vaivai or Robert Lui-style 'indiscretion', but the rest of it? Urinating up a shopfront window, are you kidding me? Who among us hasn't, in some fashion or another?

Looking back through my notebooks to see if I had anything written about Matt Elliot that might prove some (nonexistent) prophetic powers on my part I found only one undated entry, if you can call four words an entry: 

                             Matt Elliot = bone dry.  

And isn't he just?

I would also add that he is - was - the most coherent coaching voice in the NRL.

The fact that he acheived this feat while being lucid and zen and and droll and deadpan and very good looking all at the same time speaks volumes and goes a long way toward explaining why I hitherto had only four words written about him. Because, really, how can words pin down or flesh out the elusive essence of such an enigmatic original?

Matt Elliot. Sometimes puzzling, frequently halarious, always entertaining and eternally, intrinsically classy.

P.S. See you at the Raiders in 2014. Please?

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Steady as She Goes

I want to write a coherent and lucid post, really I do, but I think it may be beyond me today. Nevermind. If what follows is at all jarring, it's because I've got the clanks. If you don't know what that is, interpret it to mean that I resent you, your existence and your rude good health right now.

According to the American Food and Drug Administration's list of withdrawal symptoms for this particular bitch drug, it also means that dizziness, nausea, vertigo, vomiting, headaches, tingling in the extremities, irritability, nightmares, anxiety, insomnia and excessive sweating are par for my course. There's a further, more cautionary warning that basically confirms what I have long suspected, ie. that I really am, for good or ill, a 1 percent-er, because  "In extreme cases, abruptly discontinued use results in confusion, a severe, constant irritable mood, and seizures." Well, two outta three 'aint bad, although I want to amend the list to include shaking legs and hands, pins and needles of the scalp, muscular pain, sensitivity to noise, light and sudden movement, and extreme eyeball pain. Seriously.  It hurts to do anything other than look straight ahead right now. Not good. Wimbledon's on.

A little context. Take the worst and most debilitating hangover you've ever had, combine it with the most toxic and potent chemical comedown you've ever had (if you've ever spent time at Rainbow Serpent, just count the 4 or 5 day long aftermath as your benchmark of suffering here), multiply it by ten or twelve, throw in some randomly occuring tremors, night terrors and a desire to rip the hair and scalp clean off your head and you get the general idea.

The thing is, I already find a huge proportion of life to be almost unbearably irritating as it is. There are annoyances at every turn, and if it's not one fucking thing it's another. Space does not permit a comprehensive survey of the singular grievances that get under my skin, but here's one just off the top of my head: salespeople in service stations who over the last few years have apparently been programmed to try and sell you things - king sized Cherry Ripes and the like - that you don't want and haven't asked for. I know it must hardly seems possible that I may wish to purchase petrol and petrol only, given the fact that I'm patronising a PETROL STATION and all, but, astonishingly, it is so. Anyway, I can't think about such things at the moment without getting a headache and homicidal urges so let's move along. 

To counter-balance the strong bitch, bitch, bitch elememt of this post, I should point out that, make no mistake, some things fill me with gratitude and wonder. Roadside produce stalls, those wind-sock men that sometimes blow around in front of car yards, horses rolling on their backs and kicking their legs in the air, lambs and polar bears, old ladies selling slice on trestle tables in the street, dogs on utes, blimps, daily newspapers, the Ganges, Bukowski, football - obviously......

See? It''s not all 'stop the world I want to get off'.

Also, I love more than anything when people split their pants. Nothing is funnier than that.

I suspect that if I ever make it to Leichardt Oval and get to stand on that hill under those Moreton Bay fig trees screaming and spraying beer around that the experience will make it straight onto my list of things of mystery and wonder as well. Nevermind the fact that I imagine I'll be there in my lime green, in all likelihood watching the Raiders being carved up like a Christmas ham by the Tigers, which is how their meetings tend to play out, let's be honest. No, nevermind that, because it will be incredible, and besides, you have to respect a good hoodoo.

I think it was the prospect of the Storm playing at Leichardt on Sunday afternoon that saw me momentarily lose focus - by which I mean I started watching 'Harry Loves Lisa' on the Lifestyle channel and missed the start of the game. For the uninitiated, Lisa is Lisa Rinna, she of the grotesquely over-inflated lips, and Harry is her hot silver fox husband Harry Hamlin, who played the evil Aaron Eccles in Veronica Mars. To great aplomb, I might add.

The episode's arc saw Harry, who as far as I can tell is what is commonly referred to in showbiz circles as 'washed up', reading for a part in an audition, thinking he nailed it and then receiving alarming feedback letting him know he not only missed out on the part but also "gave a bizarre reading and freaked everybody in the room out". His acting coach suggested he may be a touch too intense, which saw Harry decide to lighten up with a little stand-up comedy, and one of his proposed jokes went like this:

       "You ever tried to fuck on a waterbed - it's like fucking on a wave - YOU CAN'T DO IT!"

BoomTISH, right? As for Lisa, she is, aside from the monstrous lips, exactly the same as Kris Kardashian and until I see them in the same room together I will consider them to be the same person.

Anyway, I only watched a few minutes before I came to my senses and remembered that Austar will replay the episode every four or five hours over the course of the coming week and possibly for all of eternity too, should I wish to revisit it.

So. Switching over to the Tigers/Storm game the first thing that struck me was that every Storm player and their dog were carring head or face injuries and were not only wearing but fucking rocking an assortment of headbands and facial bandages. Except Billy Slater, who had no headband and was merely wearing his usual expression which - for the ignorant or the blind - can only be described as a shit-eating smirk. And Cameron Smith, he too was unadorned, lounging on the interchange bench and looking hairy as hell.

Meanwhile, Cooper Cronk was rushing around nailing multiple 40/20s and competing on every play and herding players around like a frenzied kelpie and just being his usual over-achieving self. Cronk is fierce. There is no denying this fact. Also, he is unintentionally halarious, and kind of awesome too. I'd elaborate but I really can't bring myself to say nice things about Storm players so we'll leave it well alone and I'll just post some pictures of his pretty self instead.

The interesting thing of it is that Cronk's intensity doesn't grate on me in the way that, say, Cameron Smith's does. Sometimes Smith's eyes burn like I imagine an angry God's eyes would and I physically flinch, that's how intense he can get.

On the other hand, Michael Ennis is one of the fiercest competitors in the game; he allegedly researches players' lives, gleans personal information and uses it against them during games via volleys of expletive-laden sprays and I have nothing but love for the guy. He also wears head-tape with rakish panache, so to me he's pretty much god's gift.

Did y'all see in Origin II when Sam Thaiday dropped the ball, I think early in the second half, and Ennis charged over, got right up in his grill and bellowed what I can only imagine was a string of choice, A-grade sledges into Thaiday's startled face? Sadly I'll never have the details of what was said, but I have a fertile imagination and, also, I have a thing or two I wouldn't mind screaming into Thaiday's face given half a chance, so I think I can fill the blanks.

So, yes, steady as she goes. Steady as Peter Garrett's dancing, or, say, Brett Stewart after an NRL season launch...