Archive for July, 2012

Did Adam Choke?

Posted: July 30, 2012 in Sport


Ok before signing off on the shortest blog in history lets examine the “choking” phenomenon in more detail. It is a derogatory term used to describe those occasions when a sportsperson fails to perform to their usual standard due to the sense of occasion they find themselves in. It is very commonly applied to golfers – more so than any other sport. Why is this so? The most common evidence of choking is the missed 3 foot putt to “win it all”. Golf is one of the more complex games in the world and so when tension increases it is of no surprise that a few shots may be sprayed as in fact happened with Adam Scott. After all he dropped 4 shots in 4 holes. But most of us have had a go at golf and some of us even play quite regularly if rather poorly. We cant hit 300 m drives but most of us feel we can sink 9/10 3 foot putts. On British Open Greens that may drop to about 6/10 but still when a Pro misses it deep down deep inside we know we could have made it. Hence we state with a degree of confidence that he “choked”

For cricketers we have the quaint term of “nervous nineties”. Sam Stosur “struggles in big tennis events despite her obvious talent. Hell she was knocked out of the Olympics by some player from Uranus ranked 2074 in the world – first round!the Aussie 4X100 Mens swimming relay were odds on to win today – they were beaten by Russia who have to break the ice on top of the pool before they can even train. Missile Magnusson suddenly decided to add 1 s to every 100 m he swam. Its called pressure folks and some people handle it better than others.

Perhaps the most noted designated “choker” in golf is our very own Sharkie. This is because he had so much talent and so little in the Majors cupboard to show for it that he must have choked. In reality he really only choked in the 1996 Masters – no argument. Most of the other occasions were because of his “take no prisoners” approach to golf which both thrilled and dismayed his legion of fans. We had Ballesteros, Norman, Plastic Phil and now Bubba Watson. These guys lose more tournaments then they win maybe but man they could draw a crowd. I would rather watch Sharkie shoot 83 than Jim Furyk shoot 63. They can afford to be devil may care because they all hop in their private jets after missing out and head home to their mansion. The famous saying always was what comes after a 74 for Norman ? The second round! He always charged home – sometimes made it sometimes didnt. Deep down though the lack of “majors” in the cupboard hurts. Norman was unlucky at times but on most occasions it was poor course management – look at his last round when he had the chance to win the British Open a couple of years ago – when still with wifey Numero 2. He was taking driver on holes where clearly an iron was required

So yes Adam choked but he is not a choker – he showed that last year at The Masters down the stretch. When he gets in this position again, which he undoubtedly will, will be the test. Has he learnt from the experience or been forever scarred? It will be fun to watch either way – humans are like that.

Kuwait 08

Posted: July 9, 2012 in Travel

As we flew Emirates to UK on our trips we always passed through Dubai and on first trip spent a couple of days there before spending a few days in Kuwait. We will spend more time in Dubai on our way back from Europe this year including high tea at Burj al Arab – have sent my left kidney airmail as deposit. Kuwait would not normally rank high on the must see destinations for me but this time was special as my brother – the over achiever in the family – was spending a couple of years in Kuwait overseeing the construction of a new megahospital as the medical director. Organising such a project in Kuwait could fill about 4 blogs but that is his story not mine. After the easy experience that flying with Emirates usually is and a couple of luxurious days at the Hyatt at Dubai it was time to get down and dirty and what better way to start then with Jazeera Air! You get what you pay for of course but it was an experience to be sure from the continual delays through to the Pringles available as in flight dining and the rather unique though totally indecipherable in flight entertainment. Luckily my brother and his wife met us at Kuwait airport to shield us from too many more cultural shocks. Like many foreign countries if you have an experienced native to show you around then it is a totally different experience and so for the next few days we saw a fascinating and charming side of Kuwait from the stunning Mosques through to the unique shopping treats. We also experienced the joy of traffic coming to a sudden halt in the middle of the road when the call to prayer occurred and often this occurred during a sandstorm! We also had the chance to celebrate my 50th birthday with the famous smorgasboard at Crowne Plaza – it was fascinating to see the veil subtly lifted to allow more food to be shovelled in – and there was a lot of food on the plate trust me. The driving is unique in many aspects as we have many rich people with very fast cars and a vague interpretation of speed limits. Australians are welcome in Kuwait too as apparently we helped them out in the big fracas – not me personally but some brave compatriots.It was a fascinating few days and an enriching experience in so many ways. I would not return again as my brother has now returned to Australia – well Victoria at least – but will spend a few days at Jumeirah beach this year to see how the other half lives. From the top of Burj al Arab perhaps. I still have a kidney to spare afterall.

A Holey Three Course Meal

Posted: July 9, 2012 in Travel

Being a golf tragic I would like to see Augusta before I die but equally there is so much else to see in USA it may be hard to get around too. No such problem in the UK :). If you cant get to Augusta then at at least it is nice to go to where it all started and commemorate an event that Sharkie could actually win! We were fortunate to visit 3 different golf courses during our UK visits and each one had a different connection for me

St Andrews

The home of golf. Its largely a bumpy bit of land with some swales and hollows and a few sandpits but it does have a certain magic about it. St Andrews itself is a rather interesting little burgh set on the east coast of Scotland and also famous for its University and Cathedral and in movie land a certain little beach – West Sands – where some God like Chariots had a prance around. Now you just about have to promise your first born to actually play St Andrews but it is a surprisingly accessible course for visitors to invade including the infamous Road Hole. There are plenty of souvenir shops on the adjacent streets so was lucky enough to pick up one tee – suitably inscribed – for only 20 pound. It is a beautiful setting with the town in the background and the coast on one side – one could understand how weather could affect your game here!


Another Scottish Course that I use to regularly see on the great Pro Celebrity golf show with Peter Alliss many a moon ago. There were some great celebrities like Connery and some great pros like Trevino. It has also had significant championships as well and will host the 2014 Ryder Cup on the Nicklaus designed centenary course – there are 2 other courses- Kings and Queens – so it is a large complex which is also famous for its Gleneagles Hotel. For a long time I assumed this was the one Cleese used as inspiration for Fawlty Towers as odd as that obviously sounds when you actually see the hotel! Of course there is also a Gleneagles Hotel in Torquay.

Royal Dornoch

Our third Scottish treat was actually a bonus. We had decided to have a splurge at the Royal Dornoch Castle hotel after a couple of weeks driving around England and Scotland. No expense was spared as we booked the luxury package with the Old Courtroom suite! Madonna even married Guy Ritchie in the area in 2000 but could not afford this room for the honeymoon so you get my drift. The golf course itself is a typical links course very exposed to the elements. Looks simple enough standing on the first tee but I am assured it is not – and I believe them. It is a lovely town to walk around and our lasting memory of our afternoon stroll around the course were the jets flying overhead at regular intervals. Obviously there were some training exercise on at the time.

So a golfing tragic got to see 3 great Scottish courses each with their similarities and each with their subtle differences. One day I should bring my golf clubs over and play them. Now that would be tragic

Three Wise Men?

Posted: July 2, 2012 in TV

The start of The Newsroom last week coincided with me finally getting around to watching the final season of Six Feet Under and while struggling through the latest episode of True Blood last night an interesting similarity struck me about Sorkin and Ball – and throw in Whedon for good measure. They are all associated with a TV Masterpiece they have never been able to recreate or even get close to again in reality but each new production brings new hope. It is not that later efforts are all that bad – most are indeed good – but the bar was raised so high initially they can never reach it again which frustrates their many followers but most remain loyal . Whedon has had the most success post Buffy I imagine and now The Avengers has put him back near the top so lets concentrate on the other 2. Whedon also seems to be the one most critics want to do well with Sorkin the least popular and Ball falls somewhere in between. Sorkin certainly had critical success with Social Network so lets stick with TV for now.

West Wing remains my favourite drama series of all time. A significant part of this of course was the clever writing. The political background of the White House is always intriguing and compelling and has never been portrayed better. Studio 60 maintained the clever writing as indeed does The Newsroom but there is something missing? Not really – instead there has been something added that dilutes. Whiny relationships. Watching The Newsroom last night and Mackenzie rant and rave while Maggie pouted and pranced made me wonder aloud – where are CJ and Donna? How did we get from them to the M&Ms – all sweetness, no substance? The answer is of course Studio 60. I read where Sorkin said he had learnt from Studio 60 – I don’t think so. We had the “relationship” dramas there with Chandler and Harriet and Josh and Jordan – unnecessary distractions. Josh and Donna danced around attraction for 7 seasons on WW – this is standard TV practice folks. CJ got herself a man when needed but you always knew she didn’t need one to shine. West Wing had strong women – where did they go? I actually enjoyed Studio 60 and will no doubt enjoy The Newsroom – but there will always be that nagging thought – why introduce these neurotic women Sorko? Donna could play ditzy – which can be charming – but she also had her wins with Josh. Why move away from a winning formula?

Six Feet Under is rightly regarded as a high quality drama series and has a well crafted story arc over 5 seasons. I don’t see the same happening with True Blood which appears as if it will be milked for all its worth – yes I realise there is a book series behind this show. Ball bought his unique brand of quirk to SFU which worked well. I found some of the Nate storyline boring at times but once again what we had here was a strong and interesting female character in Claire who was the star of the show for me – whatever happened to Ambrose? Episode 4 last night of TB Season 5 was a dog’s breakfast. Sookie is more annoying than strong let alone particularly interesting – Pam is the standout female character for me but that is surely not be design. Quirk overload perhaps? With TB we do have the Twilight effect methinks – fans of the books have the rose-coloured glasses on when it comes to the screen adaptations. Even if you don’t see it before your own eyes your background knowledge of the characters and the interactions enhances the experience.
True Blood differs from the books significantly at times I understand – never having read these I rely on anecdotal evidence – and maybe this is Ball placing his stamp on it but for me it aint working. Game of Thrones also appears to wander from the books but has such an interesting cast of characters and strong storyline behind it that it seems less of an issue for the fans. TB seems to be off with the fairies at times in more ways than one.

Whedon also seems to have the most loyal fan base and has indeed created some great shows since Buffy even if they did not achieve critical or ratings success. This problem is not unique to Whedon or indeed quality drama. Not in a world – or even the Whedonverse – where reality crap substitutes for quality TV for the great unwashed masses. One suspects that the second coming of Whedon may see another Buffy on the horizon – the rare combination of a critical and rating success. Then again one could argue he has already achieved that.

So then we have 3 very talented and creative people regularly displaying their wares to varying acclaim and a smattering of bursts of joyous rapture from fans. The Fawlty Towers scenario is always one I drift back to when thinking of successful series. Do you walk away at the top of your game leaving them wanting more or do you try and recreate the magic time and time again? I imagine for creative people it is difficult to walk away and at the end of the day they are producing these shows that they have nurtured from that one idea much like us non creative people may breathe in and out – what else are you going to do to survive the daily humdrum? Success or not doesn’t particularly bother them nor kill the light inside. Good to know. Better to see.