Thursday, July 31, 2008

My Top Ten Highlights from the Lion City

1. The view from the City Space bar on the 70th story of the Swissotel. From the comfortable chairs beside the window you can see Singapore's city centre laid out before you. (My Rough Guide book told me you can actually see as far out as Indonesia and Malaysia, but I'll have to take its word for it.) More from good timing than good planning I arrived just in time for sunset, and sipped my martini until the city lights came on. In my opinion, if you see only one thing in Singapore this should be it.

2. Cycling around Pulau Ubin, a barely inhabited island between Malaysia and Singapore. The island is a bit of a labyrinth, and you could easily cycle around there all day if, you know, you're actually fit and all. A 12-passenger bumboat takes you to and from the island whenever the ferryman feels like it.

3. The cable car on the way to Sentosa (south of the city), which creaks along over the harbour, past the construction site of the proposed multi-million dollar entertainment complex, and then back up to Mount Faber on the return trip. The ride was even better once I worked out I should shift my weight to the center of the car.

4. Lying down at Palawan Beach, metres away from the southernmost point of continental Asia. You can get to that point either by water or narrow, rickety suspended rope bridge. The beach itself is nothing special, but hey, it's warmer than Melbourne at the moment.

5. The white tigers at the Singapore Zoo. One of the three tigers was prowling up and down the stone embankment, as if he working out how he could have one of us visitors for lunch. As I had walked up to the exhibit there had been a line on the ground showing how far tigers are able to jump, and it was a bit disconcerting to realise that 'gee, you know, that tiger's actually not that much further away... if he really wanted to...,'

6. Journey's 'Don't Stop Believin' as covered by Singaporean band Jive Talkin'. The singer had a good voice, and the passion and irony with which he belted out the tune made this version even better than the original. (By this logic, a karaoke version could be freaking unbelievable.) And having a middle-aged transvestite/transsexual/very manly woman on back-up vocals didn't hurt.

7. The Singapore Sling I had on the flight over, even though it was served in a plastic cup. Man, the guy at the drinks trolley must have got it just right. It was even better than the one I had at the Raffles Hotel (although that was pretty good as well).

8. Of the Chinatown Heritage Museum, the Rough Guide said that if you only see one museum in Singapore this should be it and I took it at its word (I saw it, and it was the only museum I saw). The CHM is hidden away amongst the shopfronts on Pagoda Street but worth seeking out. Visitors are guided along a windy route which culminates in a recreation of the cramped living quarters that the residents of Chinatown used to live in. You could describe them as shoeboxes, that is, if your feet were bound.

9. Is it wrong to be excited about the efficiency of the railway system?

10. The Dark Knight. Will Heath Ledger win a posthumous Oscar? Probably not, but he is still a standout in this rather disturbing re-imagining of the Batman mythos. The Joker is more terrorist than murderous prankster, while Batman becomes even more of an anti-hero. All in all, not a bad effort.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Just So You Remember...

Diary of an AFL SuperCoach Obsessive - Week 17


Had easily my best round of the season, racking up 2,481 points. O’Keefe (an excellent pick-up indeed) scored 199, Pavlich scored 182 (or 364 given that he was my captain), Dean Cox scored 171, Stanton (my gawd!) scored 162, Dal Santo (my gawd again!) scored 158, Milburn (another excellent pick-up) scored 141, and Nick Riewoldt scored 139. At the other end of the scoreboard Heath Shaw was only marginally more useful than a wooden plank, scoring 40, Nick Stevens scored 46, Graham Johncock scored 49, and Trent Cotchin, filling in for the injured Gary Ablett, scored 51. Thought I might be in the running for the weekly prize, but could only manage position 42 in the end, which I’ll put down to Heath Shaw’s propensity to go missing in every second match. Did zoom up to No.71 in the overall standings though - the top 50 teams get their names on the front page of the teams list (but as Kelvin reminded me, no money); I might get there by season’s end.

Speaking of Kelvin, did manage to obliterate his squad to the tune of 463 points this week. To make things even better, my captain Pavlich outscored his captain, Dean Cox. No, even better was his comment that if I hadn’t picked up O’Keefe and Milburn this week he would have beaten me. I liked this comment for three reasons:

• I did pick up O’Keefe and Milburn, so it doesn’t really matter what would have happened if I hadn’t.
• But let’s say I didn’t pick up O’Keefe and Milburn. Well, then I would have picked up two different players and they would have scored points for me instead.
• Here’s the kicker: say O’Keefe and Milburn scored absolutely nothing this week instead of the combined 340 points they did score. Well, then I still would have won, and by over 100 points!

(Of course, I could have just let the comment go, but such is not the obsessive’s way. And I won’t mention the fact that Kelvin’s beaten me every time at chess…)


Gary Ablett: to trade or not to trade? Once I would not have considered dumping the Football Jesus, but this is the second week in a row that he is scheduled to miss with his ankle injury. Let’s break this down further:


• He’s worth so much that you can trade him for a star midfielder and still free up some cash.
• He is shaping up as an uncertain prospect from week-to-week, so it may just be better to make a clean break.
• Even if he does return, the injury may hamper him, reducing his stats and his trade value.
• He may kill off any small chance I have of being the nationwide SuperCoach winner.


• I’m playing a weak team in my league this week, so in terms of winning my league I shouldn’t need to trade him just yet.
• If I trade him, then I actually have to think about who my captain is each week.
• He’s Gary freakin’ Ablett, and trading him could easily come back to bite me.

Verdict: I’ve got a good chance of winning my league, and only an outside chance of winning the entire comp. Keep him for this week, but if he doesn’t come back next week then drop him like a hot potato.


The good news is that O’Keefe is playing this week, despite his ankle injury, but the bad news is that Graham Johncock has been dropped. But good news!: my opponent has Johncock on his team as well. Considering that I scored over 2400 points last week and my opponent for this week only scored around 1400, even my cautious self can handle being one down. So no changes.

(Looking over Wednesday’s entry just reminded me that I was still in with some sort of chance of winning the overall comp. So I guess, by going one down, the choice has been made – win the league, screw the nationwide glory.)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Diary Of An AFL SuperCoach Obsessive - Week 16


Was in Sydney this weekend, so not only did I not have much of an idea of which players had gone well but I didn’t even know who had won half the matches. Got back last night, but couldn’t check the results because of the distressing AC Adaptor Incident. Therefore, a little apprehensive when I logged in to see the results this morning, but I need not have worried. Everything has come up ‘Phantom Lunches’ this week. Let’s review:

• Scored 2,209 points, which was enough for a 400-point plus win.
• Moved from fifth to third on the league ladder, and from 359 to 206 (out of 223,335) in the nationwide standings.
• Scored 140 more points than anyone else in my league this week. This bodes well. This bodes very well indeed.
• Richmond won by 70 points last night. Doesn’t make much difference to my SuperCoach team, but it puts me in a better mood.
• Brent Stanton scored 133 points.
• Gary Ablett, Brett Burton and Jonathan Brown all got injured. Why is that good news? Well, even though I have all of those guys in my team, so do a lot of other people. But the difference between me and them is that I haven’t burnt up most of my trades yet. Have fun playing two or three short, fellas! Burton is the only long-term injury, and probably the only one I will need to trade out, but even that has a silver lining because, you see, it validates my decision not to trade Tippett or Rioli for O’Keefe last week. Now I can trade Burton for O’Keefe, and Tippett will become more of a focal point for Adelaide with Burton on the sidelines. See, even the setbacks are going my way.

Yes, things are going pretty well. I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop any moment now…


Completed the Burton for O’Keefe trade, but had to use up a second trade this week with Brett Jones also out for the season. After some consideration, went for Darren Milburn, who tends to play every week (yep, there goes his knee) and is a consistent performer. The two trades ate up some cash as well, but with five trades left and $70,000 in the bank I’m still in a good position.

Further upside of the Milburn trade was that it annoyed my opponent, Kelvin, who sits in the desk beside me. In SuperCoach, everyone has Franklin, Ablett, J. Brown, Judd, etc., it’s the rest of the players that determine whether you win or lose. By picking Milburn, he now has to rely on his lower-rung players beating my lower-rung players, which I don’t consider a likely prospect. Annoyed him even further by picking Matthew Pavlich as captain, after which he went off mumbling about he was going to change who his captain was now. I think I really need to win this match.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Finger Points Outwards - No.11

Chas from the Chaser has written an article on how to stop 'tanking' in the AFL. It's not only a funny read, but actually the most sensible suggestion I've ever read on the topic.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Diary Of An AFL SuperCoach Obsessive - Week 15


Feel strangely divorced from all things football this week, due to both the split round and me spending last weekend and this Wednesday in the somewhat less football-mad city of Canberra. Will this put me out of the loop or provide me with a measure of perspective? Have lost past two games even though my team has been scoring well, with my opponents waiting until I play them to rack up phone number scores. Last week’s result was a little more worrisome as there were quite a few teams in my league that outscored me. The thought that I have eight trades left comforts me, however – I have room to improve, while the rest of them probably do not.

Mild panic set in last night when the wires in my AC Adaptor busted, leaving me unable to connect to the internet. Have internet connection at work, so could fix my team today, but my temporary inability to make changes to my team left me a little anxious. I always make changes on the Thursday night, since that’s when the teams are released – there’s no advantage to making changes earlier. Except this – if one week your AC Adaptor busts on the Thursday night, and then you are struck down with a mystery virus which leaves you unable to get your work the next day, or you break your leg, or your computer at work breaks down, or you’re too busy, then you don’t have to worry about fifteen weeks of blood, sweat and tears going down the drain. But I’ve made my changes now, and all is OK.

I did end up trading for cash this week, kicking out forgotten man Tom Hawkins for young Kangaroos player Lachlan Hansen, which put $200,000 in the bank. Having lost the past two games I did consider whether to upgrade a mid-range player for a star, more specifically, Cyril Rioli for Ryan O’Keefe. But my opponent this week looks pretty weak, and I should be able to win without burning another trade. (On the other hand, he has had phenomenal luck so far, whereas my luck has gone to the crapper.) O’Keefe’s value should also drop next week, and I can trade Kurt Tippett for him instead. Or do something else… it’s good to have your options open…

(Does that feel right? Yes, but my instincts haven’t done me much good lately.)

P.S. Replaced Ryan Griffen with Brent Harvey last week, and Griffen proceeded to outscore his replacement. But Griffen is out this week due to family reasons. Is it wrong to get satisfaction from this? Maybe I should send him a card to allay my guilt.