Sports Dad Destroys The Delta Variant

If you haven’t met Extremely Extreme Sports Dad, he can be described as a lanky 30-something energizer battery, permanently dressed in Climatech gear, perpetually on his Bluetooth headset, and always with around 4-5 children in tow.

When we last saw him, he’d morphed into a guy hell-bent on returning to New Zealand amidst a pandemic to bring his special LinkedIn-style of business to this fair land. And boy has he made an impact.

There is literally nothing new you can tell him about being locked down, oh no, he’s done one in 15 different countries, which raises questions about the spread of the virus, but never mind, there’s nothing you can tell him about mutations, variants, PPE or actually anything.

It’s his 16th lockdown and he’s so slick at it that he’s had to make a YouTube channel for his brave following of 667, each day logging his routine, which is like a bad mix of Moby’s daily routine combined with one of those people on instagram.

And he’s off, he’s up at 5:00am, there’s no rest for the wicked (that’s what it says on his t-shirt, except it’s paired with a picture of Alice Cooper even though he doesn’t listen to Alice Cooper), he’s in the kitchen getting his oats out of the fridge, waking the kids up for no good reason and at the same time making Mrs. Sports Dad her flat white in bed, in reality only so he can brag about that to his Teams participants.

Lucky them! They get to listen to him eating his breakfast while peering over his shoulder at a frankly perplexing virtual background image of himself sitting atop the Burj Khalifa, just like Tom Cruise did, except he did it in a business suit to prove that you can disrupt even in a fitted tan slack.

After a 90 minute meeting that could actually have been a three-sentence email, Sports Dad bolts for a “quick run” in between that meeting and free weights at the very end of his driveway so that the souls wandering past on their bubble walks can see the measure of him. He says hello to each and every one of them through lots of loud grunting and teeth gritting, just so they know how massively tough this workout is.

Later in the day, he’s lathering up a huge piece of meat with oil that he brought back from a country we’ve never heard of, while ZOOMing his young protégé, Tarquin, who is showing an interest in crypto currency; with Sports Dad there is literally nothing you can tell him about Bitcoin, it’s in his LinkedIn bio as exactly that “THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN TELL ME ABOUT BITCOIN BUT YOU CAN TRY ;)”

After reading TIME magazine in Latin, he stretches back in his occasional chair and wonders about this new lockdown, and while Jacinda as he calls her is doing a good job, he wonders if the business roundtables could pitch some ideas to her to help move the country in a better alert level, like 1.25, which he’s devised as one where Delta is halted through businessmen throwing around some ideas, perhaps even teaching others about variants, PPE, vectors, and the like.

He taps out a hasty post on his LinkedIn and like bullets in a tin bucket, his followers are clapping and hearting the post or commenting with “hear hear (sic), Sports Dad, sensible, measured talk is what we need.”

Feeling validated for being a really rather extraordinary human, he’s back in the kitchen “doing the cooking for mum tonight for brownie points” and thinking through his plan to eliminate Delta.

Another day is done and Sports Dad eases himself into the spa with one of those stemless glasses of red wine and his waterproof sports Kindle to read about that other great disrupter, Hannibal Barca.

It’s an uncertain world out there (as he keeps saying over and over in emails) but he nods in satisfaction that at least now New Zealand has a plan to exit lockdown.

Extremely Extreme Sports Dad Grazes His Elbows

There’s a new sports dad on the scene at my children’s school—and this one is as badass as his name suggests.

I think he might be called Lachie, and he is Very Definitely Into The America’s Cup.

He’s also done four weeks of quarantine instead of the standard two, and owing to his deeply flawed personality, left a five-star rating for the Jet Stark on Trip Advisor:

Great team, they loved my burpee drills I ran at 4:30 each morning (at a safe distance of course). Great time had by all, I thoroughly recommend this MiQ facility 🙂

The review links through to his LinkedIn where Lachie’s work history reads like word salad, but in an impressive way:

I was responsible for disruptive technologies in my tenure as space flagpole boardroom forest-clap meditative augmented finalisation.

Meanwhile, his return to New Zealand has been pretty massive, particularly for St Stephens Ave dwellers who can now view a Very Tall Man striding the mean streets at dawn, with a team of huskies strapped to his waist.

”The dogs love the feel of being dragged at 3:30 a.m” says Lachie.

At the school pick-up, Lachie is bold, as fortune favours those who are that, and it says so on his Icebreaker top. But what happened to his elbows? He remains mysterious as several less-successful men gather round, arms folded, and legs apart, stretching their fawn slacks beyond the recommended business tolerance.

Oh these? Well you might not have this here yet but over in (country no one has heard of) we started this elbow-running club at Space Rotation Enquiry Pty Ltd, while I was there as the incumbent knob polisher…

And oh wow Lachie is off on one of his famous tangents he’s known for and we can only assume that his elbows are “shot” but oh boy will he be bringing elbow running to New Zealand, watch this space.

Extremely Extreme Sports Dad just tightened the ratchet another notch, hold onto your LinkedIn Premium accounts, because his is paid for in non-fungible fungiblisation.

Rites of Passage: Skateaway to Paradice

Coz this is Thriller

I was an awkward teen, a late starter in every way possible.

I seemed to hit puberty later than everyone else. I lost my virginity at 18, way after everyone else.

All through school until I left, I was a virgin who, sadly, grew up in the awkward ’80s, wearing shit fashions, awkwardly, flat-chestedly trying to find my niche.

I never really did.

I was happy though. Partly, it was because I didn’t know anything. I was an ignorant, awkward, non-sporting, only-just-in-the-upper-band plain girl. There wasn’t the height for netball, there wasn’t the speed for sprinting, there wasn’t the parental income for impressive Reeboks. My main talents were distracting classmates with notes with jokes on them and knowing all the lyrics to Seven and the Ragged Tiger.

I had the immense privilege of being ignorant.

Back then, as I now helpfully explain to my kids, we didn’t have the Internet. We had places to ‘hang out’; either friends’ bedrooms, or public spaces like Paradice and Skateaway, which were the two local roller- and ice-skating franchised emporiums.

I’d spend every weekend at Skateaway. They had sessions from 2–4pm, and the buildup was immense. Mum or dad were forced to drive us there, dropping us dutifully over the road from the venue, before speeding off into the afternoon of preparing the chicken thigh casserole and warming up Channel One for Stars on Sunday.

My friend and I would line up. The cool kids brought their own skates and had square cigarette packet bulges in their back pockets. We’d stand in the “To Hire” queue, a much less bespoke experience, but a chance to dial the adrenaline up to 11, while mentally ticking the roll: that’s Jason; he’s in Form Four at Pakuranga College. There’s Toby; he’s currently suspended because he walked over to the Paparoa Road dairy during social studies and stole a K-Bar. There’s Tanya, she has a roll-bag and does gymnastics.

Here’s me. I’m 14. I have a wallet with Good Times emblazoned on it. I’ve never kissed anyone, and I’m wearing baggy jeans and a fisherman’s rib jumper. No part of my body can be seen except my face, which is made-up with a rudimentary blue eye-shadow and a clear lip-gloss.

We are issued our skates and we’re off, inside this strange world for two hours. I daren’t look at my Swatch the whole time because I don’t want to miss a thing and I never want to go home.

Inside, the confident kids are already on the rink, skating backwards to Goody Two-Shoes by Adam and the Ants. It’s unbelievably intimidating, but in my mind it’s a life-goal. I twirl my souvenir shop gold necklace on my fingers and wait until there’s a song I love enough to get out there and shakily go anti-clockwise until the DJ booms breathily into the mic:

Chaaaaaannnnnggggeeeeeeee

The DJ has girlfriends plural. They are all blondes. He is the youth pastor at Elim Church but still seems to be swinging his penis around like a windmill. Suddenly, without warning, he puts on Thriller.

We’re allowed to skate and watch the video on the big screen at the same time. It’s surreal watching Michael Jackson dancing so ably, juxtaposed with one hundred white teenagers, skating as if they are walking on comedy ball-bearings.

Soon, my friend meets a boy, and the couples skate takes off. They hold hands and skate at a different pace to each other to Turn Me Loose by Loverboy. Half an hour later, they are pashing violently on the reddy-orange carpet in front of everyone.

I’m alone, so I awkwardly buy an Icey from the kiosk but then it’s 4pm and time to wrap this gig up. I find my friend, who is virtually now married, and we sadly hand over our skates to the guy at the skate hire (who is wearing skates).

My friend’s mum is waiting for us in the carpark. She asks us if we met boys, and I inwardly eyeroll. If I’m honest, they didn’t play New Moon On Monday or Lovecats and I’m unfulfilled.

If I’m honest I hate the wistfulness of feeling alone, but I’m happy. I endeavor to try harder next week; perhaps I’ll wear mascara and tighter jeans.

Perhaps they’ll play In A Big Country.

If I had my own skates, I’d practise in the garage.

Now, I just wish 50-year-old me was there for 14-year-old me.

____

This blog post is dedicated to Paula.







Extremely Online

Dad had made a pretty awesome tandoori oven in the backyard

Tarquin stretched and yawned.

It was a new, fresh day. There was nothing on his to-do list other than to roll over and sleep until 12:35, then hop out of bed and head to the kitchen where his mother was making another loaf of sourdough for her instagram following (of 14).

Everyone was online in one way or another in this household. Especially Tarquin.

He’d thought he might take a few hours off and do a workout he’d read about online, but honestly, what was the point of that? Instead, he headed back to his darkened room, switched on the lights and warmed up his gaming centre.

Mum’s sourdough swelled up very enthusiastically

In the kitchen, Mum’s sourdough swelled enthusiastically in the oven, while Dad continued with the garden archway project he’d started on precisely Thursday 26th March, at dawn. It turned out there was simply nothing you couldn’t make with a couple of shitty old pieces of lattice and a coat of bright blue paint left over from the swimming pool job completed in 1986.

Tarquin’s sister, Ella, was busy practising a few ballet moves in the garage at the barre dad had whittled out of a spare tanalised fence post.

Elsewhere, Tubby the cat licked its arse in the sunshine, and in reality, all was well in Tarquin’s world.

The long afternoon stretched into night, and the smell of the chicken cooking in the tandoori oven Dad had constructed in the backyard on Friday 27th March, was mouthwatering. As Mum fired up the rice cooker, she made a note on her shopping list to get more rice, as there were only four 5kg sacks left in the house.

Ella had completed her Sanskrit course at last, and Mum was necking a gin and tonic whilst trying to film herself doing so for instagram.

Tarquin yawned and wondered when the shops would be open again. While he understood the theory behind a lockdown during a pandemic, and enjoyed the daily updates from Dr Ashley Bloomfield, his webcam had shat itself and Mighty Ape wasn’t supplying him with his needs. He could see his friends pointing and laughing at him online at his misfortune and could only retort by distort-level shouting at them through his headset, and angrily sculling another can of V.

It was late now and the family, stuffed with Ella’s dessert—a concoction of air and meths made from season four of Masterchef Australia—sat back to watch Mamma Mia, at Mum’s request.

Tarquin excused himself from what looked on the face of it a really unattractive scenario and headed back to Fortnite. He knew it was always his father’s dream that his son would be online 14 hours a day, shooting at his classmates in a banana costume.

Another day over, the family settled in for a long night online, with a few hours’ sleep chucked in for balance.

All was well in Tarquin’s world.

Countdown to Chaos

I was in Countdown today, and noticed the entire toilet paper section had been wiped clean, just like a computer hard drive. All that remained was the shelving and a few redundant price tags.

Couples rounded the aisle entrance, hopeful to get their hands on their Purex triple-ply. One couple stopped in their tracks and stood, mouths agape. It was a good two minutes (or weeks) before they could form normal sentences.

“but the toilet paper, Deryck.”

As Deryck moved closer to the shelves, I fancied that he was willing it to be some kind of misunderstanding, that maybe one of the shelf-stackers was going to emerge from the vinyl flaps of the storeroom sometime soon with the pallet of toilet paper and this ready-made nightmare would be over, but it wasn’t to be.

They wandered off in a haze, perhaps to the baby supplies aisle to stock up on wipes, or had they gone to Personal Items to get tissues?

I imagined Deryck sitting there, later on that night in the semi-darkness of the Smallest Room, clutching the box of tissues in one hand and grabbing at them wildly with the other, and each time underestimating how many handfuls each wipe-action actually needed. There was never any of this with the three-ply.

It got him thinking, something he usually tried to avoid. Life was pretty good before that Coronavirus hit New Zealand. You could go out unrestricted.

If you wanted, for example, one-ply, you could get one-ply. Your choice. Maybe an uninformed one, but up to you.

Dark thoughts began to fester as he wondered about the Big Questions. What was going on? Who was behind this? Those Chinese? The Labour government? Or a nefarious combination of the two?

As he clutched his last handful of peppermint infused tissues (Maureen had panicked and bought 18 boxes, not realising) his equilibrium felt completely out of whack for the first time since carless days, and for the first time in his life, he understood what it felt like to truly look into the abyss.

Having left a pretty intense message on his Facebook,

It’s all a conspiracy, they created the virus over in China so they could get the monopoly on the toilet paper. Shane Jones and the Greens are in on it…

Deryck put the jug on and started to worry obsessively about a teabag shortage, a TV Guide shortage, and the unthinkable: a Vogel’s bread shortage.

Out in the garage, he stroked the roof of his Jaguar S-type (actually a Ford Mondeo rebadged, but don’t talk openly to him about the latter, because it sets off his diverticulitis), and wondered how the world had gone so crazy in such a short period of time.

There was nothing to do but hunker down and wait. Maureen would sort it. Tomorrow was a new day.

He looked into the rear view mirror of the Jag at his own reflection, and hoped for a better future.

MASTERCHEF MADE ME WANT TO SLEEP WITH DUMPLINGS, AGAIN.

(or how Katherine grudgingly gave me space on her blog)

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Still illegal in most countries, Glynn would like to engage in ‘relations’ with dumplings

Dear friends, brothers and sisters, and perhaps, if I can get away with it; comrades.

I report back to you following my somewhat successful journey behind the silver curtain, I have seen the insides — and I can tell you without pretense, conceit, and though we may need to revisit this one, pomposity — that I have absolutely no insight to give you.

No damning indictment, no juicy morsel, no sliver of previously hidden knowledge that I would ever, Dear Reader, suspect you of not already having. The acquisition of such all done on your gorgeous lonesome, no need for me.

Reality TV, they call it that because that’s what it is. Please don’t suppose I’m trying to pull the wool over your eyes, or for that matter, fleece you.

As you rightly suspect, I suspect, there is team of goblins sat hunched over a graphic equalizer; turning the bass up here, frotting and frothing and fingering the tempo there. This thing after all better be watchable. The tooth fairy no — but with these guys, I hope you consider my poor testimony enough. I’m just speaking to the, if not total, then the finely shaped narrative being its own truth. I’ll vouch for it, and if you don’t trust me then you can be relatively confident that anyone else lounging around on the same marginally exploited settee I’m speaking to you from, would, I think, be comfortable enough eating at least one or two of the grapes on offer. Still, if that ain’t enough, look at the eventual winners and tell me about doubt again. No? Right that’s what I thought.

I won’t bore you with the reasons why someone who considered themselves to be a well-honed cynic, in possession of an almost total lack of desire to have their rugged and brooding good looks broadcast to the nation, would bother with all that guff in the first place. Let’s just say if you pick a bohemian lifestyle, then you better fucking well follow through with it.

Better that than churlishly blaming the questionable judgement of your advisors; after all, they still had some. If you misplace your own, somewhere between the seventh and eighth drink, then don’t go running to others if you truly object to them helping you stand, or their attempts to finally make you a man. Am I making myself clear? If not, then Jugs are $10 after 7pm, every night.

So, with that lengthy confession in mind, perhaps you will find it no surprise that when someone asks, ‘So, was it worth it, what did you learn’; that I feel I have an increasingly banal obligation to say something uplifting, some vague assertion that yes, I definitely had, while being forced to stand knee deep in cold running rivers, felt really lucky to be given the chance to try and sift enough fairy dust to transmutate into something of real value before inevitably being biffed back into standard issue civilian life.

Nice story.

In reality though, I’m usually just stood there thinking,

Man, I really fucking love dumplings now.

Ah yes, well. Here we are then. This is not to say I didn’t love them before, but now, if it were legal, I feel certain that having met the right one I would enter into what is an unfortunately illegal relationship with it.

Or them. Because who can stop at one? Or better yet, who can fathom a scenario in which one dumpling is enough? Who can even imagine a situation in which this would be considered right or proper, and if you concede that may well be unfeasibly difficult, then who wouldn’t consider bringing charges, if it were possible, against the proprietor of an establishment that didn’t immediately provision you with more? How horrid the darkness that we can imagine for ourselves alone.

Yes, I met a lot of people that could make dumplings and make them good. I sucked (even if they don’t know) much of the livery and ritual surrounding the manifestation of the dumpling from them, for which I am undeniably grateful.

It soon became apparent to me however that the dumpling was influencing them, rather than them influencing it. The dumpling has after all, been around a long time and seen a lot of shit. Consider its basic form, yet its myriad innards — how adaptable the dumpling! How perfect it can suit your mood. If you’re anything like me (and you basically are) then you’ll appreciate first the delicate necessity of the chopstick pickup; then the slurp and suckle, and finally the explosion of flavour. Not to mention that when it comes to dumplings in broth, you actually get to eat the baby and drink the bathwater.

Oh yes, the dumpling has seen our type before, will see it again, and has I’m afraid seen a lot more interesting people than us.

Now I’m not saying that Karl Marx might not have been quite as grumpy as he was if he had ready access to all the delicious dumplings he wanted. Yet how much better would it be if people misquoted him like so;

“Dumplings relieve the sigh of the oppressed creature, dumplings are the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. Dumplings are the opium of the people”.

Well, it’s not quite perfect, but let’s not give up!

What about:

‘The delicious broth went and plucked the imaginary flowers on the chain not in order that man shall continue to bear that chain without fantasy or consolation, but so that he shall throw off the chain and eat of the living dumpling’.

Better all over, top to bottom I think you’ll agree, and at least you didn’t fall asleep halfway through.

Onwards then, to the spiritual!

When it comes to transcendental meditation, practitioners are supposed to keep their personal mantra to themselves. The unspoken undefined nature of it, its hidden name, gives it power. With this mantra often goes a matching visualization — the most clichéd being of course, the flickering candle. I submit the following as a suitable, not to mention much tastier alternative to both:

“There is a single dumpling floating in broth
The smell of black vinegar pungent on the steam
The dumpling is alone on the surface.
More dumplings will be added, the singular dumpling knows enough to know it is not enough
When this happens; the first dumpling will be forced below the surface
Eventually the broth will overflow the brim
It is then the first dumpling knows
I am a meal.”

When you open your mouth and put something in it, no matter what the situation, the dumpling is going to be low on the list of things you’d object to, and why would you?

In a world of increasing complexity, of camera and television, technology and chatter, the dumpling has survived unscathed. Throughout most of humanity’s tumultuous history it has been there, proud of its potential for taste, yet humble in its simplicity. Ready to sacrifice itself in whatever number you choose, merely in order to silence everything and bring about what must surely be the most quintessentially right state of man; the belly just perfectly full.

So, would going on Masterchef  be ‘worth it’?

I guess that depends.

Would you, bend your precious knee to the dumpling? You can only get away with one of the answers.

Glynn Rudolph is one of the great culinary thinkers and makers of our time.  He lives in Wellington.  He also likes long walks on the beach and candle-less dinners.  He does not drive a Skoda Octavia.







The Final Curtain: Goodbye to Glames and The Great Food Race

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Josh: That’s TWO less people, everyone. I repeat TWO less.
Simon: Don’t forget the 5% magic, Josh.

Suddenly on reality food television, things have come to a grinding halt, for two very different reasons.

Last Monday, Glynn and James were finally able to dispose of their MasterChef Crocs and mercifully avoid Skoda ownership whilst completing a Survivor Island cooking challenge.

I was sad to see them go.  In a previous post I had mentioned that their stay on the show would be short-lived, not because of their cooking prowess, but because of their tendency for thought-revealing facials.

In one recent episode, George Calombaris, the judge from the Australian version, set the contestants a ‘veal three ways’ challenge and as he swept the room, wheedling the couples during their sweaty timed food-exam, he referred to Glynn and James as “typical Kiwi blokes”; the implication being that because they were New Zealand males, they surely must have known exactly how to cook meat, because that’s what blokes do in these Antipodean nations.

The look from Glynn should have been bottled, preserved and sold on Trade Me under the category “Faces”.

It’s obvious the duo are not typical Kiwi blokes.  I’m sure they enjoy a beer, a barbie and a Barbie, but not to the extent I imagine of having an All Blacks flag flying from their black SUV and Matchbox 20 trickling out of the sound system.

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Yes, but we didn’t ever inhale.

These guys are more QOTSA, radically experimental drinking, and long sleeps on the beach but with brains.  I’m sure that they don’t mind the smell of Brut 33 and deep fried chicken either.

What they brought to the show was innovation, truly passionate cooking and ripper personalities, three features clearly essential in the world of cuisine.  Whatever these two do, I hope they physically do something with food like open a live music cafe – as opposed to just Facebooking (or blogging) about it.  Ha ha.  Blog about it.  Who’d do that?

Over on TV3, The Great Food Race is also coming to a close for this viewer.  The show seems to want to appear expensive and international sounding, but instead comes over as incredibly cheap and at times incredibly scripted.

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Oh right. Creamed corn parcels with white bread instead of pastry. They look appetising.

The contestants are a strange bag of fruits, and there is not the cohesion with each other like there is on MasterChef.  Clearly there,  friendships and respect bind the whole show together.  On The Great Food Race, competitors seem (or are edited so) to want eliminations; MasterChef is more communal, shall we say.

TGFR is like watching Purple House versus Yellow House in your Top Town school event, with an egg and spoon race thrown in.  At the end of that race after you’ve cooked the egg five ways, a pair of spunky Italian ‘House Captains’ turn up and everyone giggles, including me.  Tee hee, they’re here.  Pick me!

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How’s the canned ox tongue?

Of course the judges in both programmes also complete the show and certainly for this one, if it wasn’t for  Zoe Marshall and the Bresolins, it would be like eating at The Spotty Beagle Cafe on crumb-strewn Formica.

The remainder contestants in each show of course clearly contain the person or couple who the sponsor would like to see peddling their wares.  I have often wondered what the agenda is at the outset.

It’s pleasing to see though, that even if there is a desired winner in the mind of the creators, that contestants remain true to themselves, irrespective. They are a tenacious lot to be sure.  Why can’t they just come and cook for me?

Good luck to all of the remaining contestants of The Great Food Race and MasterChef: Couples, both on tonight at the clashily awkward times of 7.00pm on TV3 and 7.30pm on Tv1.