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Winner - Best Personal Blog - 2003 Netguide Web Awards

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It's been a week spent in this pear | Sep 30, 2004 11:25

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Ever since Shihad dropped the name Pacifier, I've had the song Home Again stuck in my mind. Not so bad, after all, it's a great song. Trouble is, every time I get to the line "It's been a day of tiny triumphs", I can't shake this mental image:

Or perhaps this one.

I was talking to my hairdresser the other day, which as I write I realise sounds very Auckland or something. Speaking of which, what's with the person who wrote to Metro complaining "all this magazine talks about is Auckland, don't you realise there's life south of the Bombay Hills?" Would the same person write to Performance Car saying "have you people not heard of public transport?"

Anyway, the hairdresser is a good friend, although with her also being a successful DJ, and me being quite busy, we only end up catching up while she's cutting my hair.

"So my mum didn't even know what a blog is, even though I've been telling her about it for the past two years." I said, referring to the text I got from said parental unit last weekend.

"Oh really" she laughed. Snip. Snip. "So what is a blog?"

And suddenly it struck me that most people probably don't know. Which makes me come over all weird. It's not like talking to someone who hasn't heard of 95bFM before. It's like telling someone I do a radio show on bFM, and they say "what's a radio?". It's odd.

I guess I just thought that somewhere between Salam Pax and John Tamihere starting one, the public at large figured out what a blog was. There have been enough pieces in the mainstream media introducing the concept, and half of the blogosphere must have participated in one of those discussions/articles by now. I just wonder how long it'll be before the word blog doesn't have to be defined every time it's mentioned in print ("short for Web Log - an on-line diary") I suppose it's not that important. You're here now, and that's good enough for me.

I'm off to Queenstown from tomorrow until Tuesday (long overdue R&R), so weather permitting there'll be lots of nice snaps of snow next week. I have to compete somehow with Smacked Face, whose week spent yachting around the Greek islands has left me positively verdant.

A couple of things for you to mull over while I'm away. This is the saddest animal story I've read in a long time. Other than old men on ANZAC Day, it takes a lot to put a lump in my throat, but damn it Andy ya big pink weirdo… you've done it.

And from the sublime to the banal… does anyone else find this vaguely erotic? Yeah nah, me neither.

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And the winner is... | Sep 27, 2004 22:33

There's all sorts of exciting stuff happening in Crackerville these days. As those of you who read the Weekend papers may have seen, I've been asked to write a column for the new Herald on Sunday.

The little item introduced me as "blogger Damian Christie". Which I guess means I owe you all something. Figuratively speaking of course, you ain't getting squat from this Cracker. My mother texted me: "What's a Blogger?" And you just assume they care what you've been doing...

So the new column, it's going to be pretty similar to Cracker, which is to say, I've got about as wide a mandate as it's possible to have. Regular readers will know I don't have much regard for the Sunday Star Times, so even excepting my inclusion, I'm happy we'll soon have some choice.

It also struck me today, when I received an email from the Young Conservative Formerly Known as MediaCow (who's now sharing a stable with a few other bloggers at the very promising - in as much as it's good, and promises to continue - Dog Biting Men), that I haven't told you about my Listener Games column. So now I have. Every fortnight my review alternates with Chris Knox's DVD review, on page 69. Also available on line of course, the latest review - The Sims 2 - is available here. Go wild.

The past month has been pretty busy, with the awards, the ASPA awards and last week, the New Zealand Music Awards. I'd never been to the latter before, and in some strange Cinderella tale, this year I was a judge. I'd like to think that's because some New Zealand Music illuminati have been closely watching and measuring my progress, and nodding sagely to each other, this year deemed it was time I received a tap on the shoulder. I've since discovered it had more to do with the merger of two databases. Where has the romance gone, people?

The Tuis were a lot more lavish than I was expecting. The celebs were ferried between the Hilton and the venue in limousines, where they emerged to a screaming crowd. For me this was particular highlight - the first time I've seen a limo in this country that hasn't had a sixth former yelling drunkenly out the window "we're going to the baaaaaaaaall".

The awards themselves were good, or at least they looked like they were after they'd been edited down for TV. Me, I walked out after the first three (Best Classical, Jazz and Christian) looking for more of that firewater. Not so easy with the bar closed for the duration of the awards, but with a Minister of Youth Affairs Who Shall Remain Nameless causing a diversion, we were soon drinking happily.

After that, it's pretty much a blur, although I vaguely remember becoming obnoxious and insulting someone, someone else, Aja Rock, and a couple of other people - not necessarily in that order. The next morning I woke up, happy it was the weekend, and relieved I didn't have to go to work. An hour later I woke up - a little more sober - realised it was Thursday morning, and I was already late.

I don't know what I'm more annoyed about, the fact that I completely forgot about International Talk Like A Pirate Day, or the fact that Belle de Jour has shut up shop. I only read half a dozen blogs with any regularity, and hers was one. All lasciviousness aside (and seriously, don't click on the link unless you're pretty open minded), she had a great turn of phrase. That's a rare thing. Her archives are still there, so if you feel up to it, wade in.

On that, check out the new sites I've added over there --> They're all worth a read.

Finally, help machines on their quest to take over the world, or at least be better at 20 questions with this game. Or if you simply want to waste time, this one.

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Re: Cycled | Sep 20, 2004 09:48

Six months or so ago I wrote an article for the very excellent Staple Magazine. I normally give politicians a wide berth (once bitten) but I had really wanted to have a long chat with Labour MP and Minister of This, That and the Other, John Tamihere. Staple very kindly provided me with a few pages in which to do just that.

While I prepare another post for a few days' time, (I'm still quivering with excitement from the news that Pacifier are once again Shihad) I thought those of you who missed the print version might appreciate having a read. The magazine version looks much prettier of course, and comes with some stunning photos...but for now:


Despite a law degree and five years as a politician, John Tamihere maintains a reputation for plain speaking. He made headlines and caused a stir early last year when he accused senior Labour colleague Steve Maharey of "bullshitting" about welfare. Parliamentarians were set off giggling and repeating the word in the House for days, while the fledgling Minister was reprimanded by the Prime Minister and hung out to dry in Parliament.

This fits the perception many have of Tamihere. He opens his mouth without thinking, he's too impulsive - a political risk. But it's not a view that bears closer scrutiny. Here is a man voted New Zealander of the Year by North & South Magazine in 1996, and Metro's Man of the Year in its 1997 annual readers' poll. A qualified solicitor, at 29 he was the Auckland Regional Manager of the Maori Affairs Department - the youngest to ever hold such a position. In six years he turned West Auckland's struggling Waipareira Trust into a success story, while battling for the rights of disaffected urban Maori. Is it possible John Tamihere achieved all these things without knowing when to speak, and when to keep his own counsel? It seems unlikely.

Tamihere acknowledges this. "Most things I do are very, very carefully thought through. And so to get the change in delivery mechanism on welfare I had to make the Knowledge Wave speech, position myself within the cabinet and just start grinding at it, and saying, well if you wanna fuck up your communities, go for it, but I need to sort mine out."

While he doesn't shoot his mouth off lightly, speaking out has become a bona fide Tamihere trait. In 1996 he was attacking the leaders of the "brown table", men such as Tipene O'Regan and Bob Mahuta for refusing to let non-iwi urban Maori share in Waitangi settlements. Seven years later, he's publicly calling for elders like Sir Graham Latimer and Ngati Porou leader Api Mahuika to step aside in favour of younger, more talented leaders. While many consider questioning the authority of elders as questioning everything Maori, and off limits, for Tamihere the two are quite separate.

"My whole life existed for - my whole law degree was built around - a court case I took over our own block back home in the Waihi area. After we'd secured it there was a hui and dad wasn't with me, he was crook, so I went to this hui myself. One of my aunties wanted us to mortgage the block, but she never had the ability to pay the debt. So I objected, and she says in Maori to me, 'enoho tama' and so I sit down, and she gets the vote through. I was really pissed off, and I come home and dad says 'how did it go?' And I told him Auntie got it through, and he said, 'why didn't you object?' And I said, 'well I tried to but she told me I'm just a boy, sit down and respect your elders.' Dad says 'what did you do?' and I told him, 'I sat down.' 'Well what the fuck are they teaching you at that university!' he said, 'When her and I went to the native school as seven year olds, she was a maniac then - what's changed?'

"And I thought to myself, that's spot on, why is it just because someone hits 65 or 70 everything changes? All cultures work on merit. Why elders were traditionally deferred to was because we had so few, there was a continuity issue. It doesn't mean just because you're an elder you now can tell me all things about my life and how it works. It doesn't follow that you should be my leader, my chairperson, my director, my trustee, my whatever."

It was his penchant for fighting that eventually led to Tamihere entering Parliament. After fighting O'Regan, Mahuta and their successors for urban Maori's share of the Treaty of Waitangi fisheries settlements. With over a million dollars already spent on lawyers fees, John decided to "just piss off down [to Wellington] and do it myself." The fisheries legislation is now in the House, and with $20 million set aside for urban Maori, Tamihere regards it as a 'win on principle'.

He was also inspired, or perhaps compelled after seeing the damage New Zealand First's 'tight five' - Tau Henare, Tukoroirangi Morgan, John Delamere et al - had done to goodwill for Maori. There's also no love lost between he and Winston Peters, with the elder statesman dragging up Tamihere's past (three DIC convictions, one discharge without conviction for fraud) in the House on a number of occasions.

"I've contemplated why that is. I think it's because I've got a bigger dick, a better degree and I'm better looking, but putting that to one side…" Tamihere bursts out laughing, and unlike many politicians, it's both natural and contagious. "He's had his day, he had more than his day, he actually had two opportunities in cabinet, one as Deputy Prime Minister, and he screwed it."

Winning the Hauraki seat in the 1999 General Election, and the newly formed Tamaki Makaurau seat in 2002, Tamihere has clear, measurable goals. He has a list of 10 things he wanted to achieve, four of are now completed. A backbench MP, he realised that in order to complete the list, he'd need to be privy to the inner circle, and less than three years after entering Parliament, he was appointed as a Minister inside cabinet. Tamihere says he knows all about "starting at the back of the class". It's obvious he also understands the quickest way to the front desk is by unruly behaviour in the back. And he doesn't want to be the Member for Tamaki Makaurau for any longer than necessary.

"I'm not a career politician - I've come to this thing in the most unfortunate circumstances!" he laughs. "Some of them have been in the job 12-15 years, and they just think nothing else."

Not surprisingly, given his charisma, public profile and achievements to date, Tamihere is often touted as a future leader of New Zealand. Whether he's playing it down for the time being - conscious not to put the cat among the pigeons too early - or is truly not concerned with such matters, it's unclear. However he is uncharacteristically ambiguous when the subject is raised.

"I've never thought about it. And because I don't think and lust for it and hanker for it, it's not an issue for me. But as long as I'm feeling comfortable in what we're doing, I'll be alright. I don't need to be in cabinet, I don't need to be in politics, but I don't need to be a broken, bitter twisted bastard sitting outside bleating, you know? So I haven't thought about the position. Others may well say [I'm suitable], but the day I declare it you'll know all about it."

For now, it's all about getting the job done. Frequent swearing aside, he speaks like a businessman, and often drifts into the lexicon of management. He speaks of results-oriented policies, and Key Performance Indicators upon which to measure his achievements in Parliament. Some of his ideas have a distinctly National or ACT Party ring to them, a fact that doesn't bother him overly - "I'm not an ideologue."

"I've been in the business of trying to make things work. I just think it's dumb for example, investing more money in prisons, when I know if we could attack - and I mean attack - vigorously and boldly, those families that are waiting to implode and everyone knows it. But everyone's waiting until the criminal justice system kicks in. And I think it's just dumb us just building two more prisons in Maori areas, Ngawha up north and Te Kauwhata there, and it's going to house just on 750 Maori babies, because that's what they are."

The "babies" Tamihere speaks of - often - are the next generation of children, to whom Tamihere dedicates most of his efforts. John has five of his own, two to his first marriage, two to his current wife, and from in between the two marriages. Wira, at two the youngest of the whanau, sits on his lap as we talk, surreptitiously trying (and failing) to take sips from his bottle of beer. With race relations once again taking the media limelight, how does he feel New Zealand is progressing - are things going to be different for his own babies' generation?

John is optimistic. "I think it's changing. Ten years ago we'd all be tainted by the actions of one Maori, but Kiwis have hit a new level of maturity. There's a big bunch of kiwis 55 and up who still think that way, but they're moving on. Whereas the younger generations are a bit more discerning and informed about Kiwiana. When I was at school up in the 70s the only second language to learn was French, and history was all about the Reformation and Tudor England. With the curricula today every kiwi baby can do kapahaka. When I go to visit schools I have a powhiri, and 85 percent of the kids performing are pakeha kids, and all the parents have turned up, and they're all watching it, incredibly proud. I think that's a marvellous thing to have happened."

Republished with kind permission of Staple

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Like Mike | Sep 08, 2004 22:33

I wouldn't normally worry myself with the comings and goings in the world of NZ Idol, but this recent furore (if that's not too bold a word to use) has got me thinking.

For those of you who've missed it, and I can't blame you if you have, here's the skinny:

Michael Murphy, who came second in the inaugural series of NZ Idol, despite being loved by all the little girls out there, has just put out his first single, called 'So Damn Beautiful'. And, he's been running around saying how happy he is the song is an "original".

Trouble is, the Murphster's been writing cheques with his mouth that his manager - Paul Ellis - can't cash. Okay, that's not really him in the photo, but it was too funny not to use... Anyway, unbeknownst to Michael (and we have to assume this is thus, otherwise he's stupider than he looks…), the song, which was written four years ago, was covered by a band called Vallejo. Vallejo's performance was nominated for a Grammy in 2002.

I don't want to cast aspersions on Ellis' abilities as a manager - oh okay, I do - but surely when you're buying a song for your star performer, you'd ask how many owners it's had? I mean, it was written four years ago, and if it's as good a song as Ellis claims, someone might've taken it out for a spin. And if upon inquiring, you found out its previous owner was a Texan rock band, who enjoyed doing donuts in it, while drinking forties of bourbon and screaming profanities out the window, you might reconsider. Or at least tell your star, before he starts trotting out the "one careful lady owner" line…

As it was, Paul didn't ask, which to continue the now tortuous used car analogy, is like buying a lowered, second-hand Legacy without getting an AA check. It's dumb. And it took an idolblog contributor ten minutes with an obscure search engine by the name of Google to discover what Ellis didn't, despite presumably numerous dealings with the guy who wrote the damn thing.

Paul Ellis has further shown his public relations skills by his handling of the whole affair. Here's a short quiz I put together called "Would you make a good manager?"

Question One:

You've just discovered your star's song is a cover, and a reasonably successful one at that. Your response?

a) Admit you didn't realise the song had been covered, but tell everyone it's still a great song all the same - the fact it's a cover isn't going to hurt sales.

b) Admit the song had been covered, and you knew, but tell everyone Michael didn't - that way at least he comes out looking good, and as manager that's what's most important, right?

c) Sound off like a complete nutter, make baseless defamatory statements in a national newspaper , accusing the person who discovered the fact of perpetrating fraud on a daily basis, by illegally downloading MP3s.

Answers: a) 0, b) 1, c) 2

0-1 You've got all the qualities to be a great manager.

2+ Dude. I mean, seriously?

According to the Herald, when asked if the song's writer was going to get royalties, Ellis apparently said he didn't have time to give a lesson in music industry basics. My time isn't quite so precious, so here's a few legal basics for free, Paul.

Illegally downloading an mp3 is not fraud. It's not even theft, strictly speaking. Breach of copyright perhaps.

Furthermore, not every mp3 is bad, Mr Ellis. If you plan on staying anywhere near the cutting edge of the music industry, you should read up on the subject. And sure enough, in this case, the mp3 of Vallejo's 'So Damn Beautiful' was freely offered by its rightful owners.

Ironically, it was Ellis himself who committed the only legal no-no in the whole affair - defamation.

The Robyn in question is a fellow blogger, and a lovely lass at that. She's also a bit of an NZ Idol fan, and so when the Murphmeister released his new single, she was naturally interested in finding out more about the songwriter behind it. As I mentioned above, it took her less than ten minutes to find out what Murphy's manager couldn't. Thinking fellow Murphettes would be interested, she posted to, and the rest, as they say, is history.

The reason I'm interested in all this, in case you're wondering, has to do with the idea of originality. Even if the song hadn't been performed by Vallejo, would Murphy have been right to claim it as "an original"? Isn't it a long bow to suggest 'original' can mean "some American guy wrote it four years ago, and we bought the rights to use it"? This idea has made for great discussion around the watercooler of late, and I'm interested in your views - Dubber, that means YOU. But FYI, here's where I'm at, at the moment.

A song is "original" if:

1. You wrote it, either by yourself or with someone.

2. Someone in your band wrote it.

3. Someone wrote it specifically with you in mind, like Jagger/Richards wrote "As Tears Go By" for Marianne Faithful. Although in that situation, when the Stones later recorded the same song, which was the cover, and which the original? Perhaps the one that came first, meaning the Stones covered their own song. Hmm.

After all that, here's the song if you want to hear it. Not Mike's version of course, because that's fraud, or kidnapping, or something.

I might just be getting old, but really I can't see what the fuss is all about. But in fairness to the demographic, I'll leave the last words to idolblog's crazi4michael, comparing Vallejo's with Mike's 'original version':

u can TOTALLY hear wat 1 is betta!!! MICHAEL ALL DA WAY!!

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