From an undisclosed location

Scott and me has run away to finish our novels at an undisclosed location. Posting from behind the walls of our hidden bunker may be intermittent and on the shortish side. Book must be finished on the soonish.

In the meantime, it is conclusive, “monster” and “white-ant” are verbs only in Australia. For confused non-Australians a white ant is a termite. Thus to white-ant someone is to undermine them: to bore away at their foundations, you know, like termites do. Is most useful verb.

Thanks for the Cadel Evans commiserations. Second two years running. Surely next year.

Yes, I is stoked that the Liberty are in the second place in the Eastern conference. Here’s hoping we come out after the Olympics break ready to take over first place from smelly Connecticut.

Here’s hoping youse lot are happy wherever in the world you are. I sure am.

Tell it like it is (updated)

From this sensible article on cheating in sports by JERÉ LONGMAN for the New York Times:

Fausto Coppi of Italy, who won the Tour de France in 1949 and 1952, was once asked if he ever fueled himself with amphetamines.

“Only when necessary,” he said.

How often was that?

“Most of the time,” Coppi replied.

The Tour de France ranges from 3,000 to 4,000 kilometres long (1,800 to 2,500 miles) which must be covered really fast in three weeks over hill and dale with just two rest days. Evidence is pretty strong that chemical assistance has been used since the tour began.

Longman points out that the two sports that have had the most drug scandals are the ones that have pursued the issue most vigorously: cycling and track & field. The end result: people think those are the sports that are jam packed with drug cheats. Yet it’s very likely that there’s not a pro sport in the world that doesn’t have athletes who use performance enhancing drugs.

My biggest concern is that athletes are taking drugs that can cause them long term damage (even death) because the hypocrisy around the issue means that drug use is unregulated. And some of the drugs being taken have never been properly tested. That’s scary.

In an ideal world there would be drug-free athletes. What we have now is a world in which not everyone using is getting caught, those who stay clean are at a disadvantage, and there’s doubt and suspicion of everyone. I’m not sure it’s tenable. But I’m not sure what is.

Which is to say I’m bummed I didn’t get to follow the Tour this year. I’m thrilled at how well Cadel Evans did. And I’ll be making sure I get to follow it next year. And hoping that something really radical and smart happens across all sports to regulate drug use in a way that make for more transparency and way less potential harm to athletes. And while they’re at it, if they could end all match fixing, that’d be grouse.

Update: Jenny Davidson has pointed to this fascinating article by Stuart Stevens on performance-enhancing drugs. Stevens tries a whole bunch of them, notes the results, and comes down firmly against them. Well, against almost all of them.

The Tour

Marrije asked over on insideadog if I’ll be following the Tour de France this year. Sadly, I will not.

This year has gotten out of control. I cannot afford to spend hours every day watching the Tour and following it online. I am incapable of following the Tour non-obsessively. So for the first time in years I’m not following it at all. (No spousal pressure was brought to bear in the making of this decision. Well, okay, just a little bit. I am not husband-beaten! I am not!)


The New York Liberty (10-8) will have to sustain my sport-following needs this northern summer.

And now I go back to the myriad tasks that confront me. At this point it’s so bad I’m resorting to triage. “Which of these tasks will most blow up in my face if I don’t do it?”

But, you know, Vive Le Tour!

Why do you like sport?

This is not a question I get asked very much. Not directly, anyway, but every single time I post about sport someone writes and asks me when I’m going to post about interesting topics again. That’s right, the biggest complaint I get from you, dear readers, is that I talk about sport too much.1

Now I ain’t never gonna stop writing about sport, no matter how many of you are bored into a coma by it. I writes about what I wants to write about. You can suggest topics if you want but if I can’t be arsed to write on that topic then it ain’t gonna happen.

I digress. The complaints do get me thinking about why it is that I like sport so much. Seriously, for me to learn the rules of a sport is for me to become addicted. I’ve had to start studiously avoiding contact with new (to me) sport just to have enough hours in the day to, you know, get books written. I try very hard to only pay attention to cricket, the Tour, and women’s basketball. And the Olympics. I cannot get any work done when the Lymps are on.

I’m not that fussed about playing it. Tennis is great fun, I love swimming and riding my bike but I have zero interest in doing any of them competitively. (Gah!) But I can watch pretty much any competitive sport and I can do it for days and days and days. For me it brings together the aesthetic pleasures of watching athletes at the top of their form, with the soap-opera like joys of a long-running story (what can I say I’m a narrative junky in all its forms), together with the gossip and politics. A good sporting scandal is prolly my most favourite thing in the world.

Clyde Walcott, one of the West Indies' greats.I love how knowing about the history and politics of cricket (West Indies not getting a black captain until the 1950s and then only after a long-running campaign orchestrated by C. L. R. James; the long campaign to get an Untouchable to play for India), and about women’s basketball (Title IX, and when it was allowed into the Olympics, and how little coverage it gets in the mainstream press) adds so much to watching any individual game.Picture purloined from

I love the majesty and pomp. I love supporting (and hating) individual players and countries.

Why do you love the particular sports you love? Sing it, please!

No offence intended but I’m uninterested in why any of you don’t like sport. I’ve been hearing it long and loud from my fellow arty-farty types my entire life. I get that you’re an oppressed minority. I feel for you. But enough already! Let us sport obsessives bond for a bit. And, yes, I will delete anti-sport diatribes.

So fellow sport lovers—time to share that love!

NB The first image is of Sir Clyde Walcott who died earlier this year. He was one of the greats of West Indian cricket. Bless him.

The second is of the Australian women’s basketball team winning the world cup. Bless ’em.

  1. It’s particularly weird as I’ve hardly blogged sport at all this year. Very little mention of cricket, the World Cup, or the Tour de France; pretty much nothing about the Liberty’s unhappy WNBA season, and hardly any mention of all the various Australian triumphs this year. I’ve been busy, okay? []

Tell me stuff (updated)

You are correct that I have not been blogging much or responding to comments like I usually do or even responding to email a whole lot.

The reason is that I’m on a deadline (yes, the same one, yes, it was moved again, yes I really have to meet this one) and am working my arse off. (Oh, how I miss my arse!)

In the meantime I think you lot should entertain me. Here are some questions:

  1. Does anyone have any recs for best brunch place in NYC?
  2. Who’s going to be the first Australian to win the Tour de France (no, it doesn’t have to be this year)?
  3. What’s the best book you’ve read lately?
  4. I just read Out by Natuso Kirino. Loved it. Can anyone recommend a recent crime novel that’s sort of like? I don’t like mysteries—that is I prefer crime books where you know who done it and it’s the whys that are the thing. So I want something all psychologicy. (My fave crime writers are Patricia Highsmith and Jim Thompson.)
  5. Where do I go to buy buttons in NYC? (Yes, that’s right I still haven’t gotten them.) (Oh, and by “buttons” I mean those things that can fasten clothes.)
  6. Is anyone else following the New York Liberty this year? Testing times, eh?
  7. Apparently I need some kind of formal wear, you know, like a dress. Anyone got any recs for cool interesting designery shops in NYC?
  8. What’s your favourite Elvis song and why?
  9. Without googling explain the difference between the Australian and New Zealand flags. Which is lamer?
  10. What new-to-DVD movie should I get to reward myself when I finally meet the deadline?

Thanks! Hope you’re all having a fab weekend (what’s left of it), that all your deadlines are being met and you don’t look at Monday morning with too much dread. As soon as my deadline is finished I promise to be a good blogger again.

Update: bonus question:

Riemannia‘s question here reminds me that I’ve been wondering what you call those metal door thingies that you see all the time here in the footpaths of NYC. You know, that when you open them reveal stairs that lead down into the basement of shops and restaurants and bars. Do they have a name? They aren’t grates so what are they?

Noooooooo!!!!! (updated)

Okay, I got nothing against France. They publish my books after all, and it’s where some of my ancestors are from, but I love the Brazilian football team, have done for ages, and I really, really, really wanted to see them in the final.

I’m bummed.

Yeah, yeah, France played better. Yeah, yeah, I have the consolation of England being knocked out. But it’s depressing knowing it’s going to be an all-European final with not one team from the rest of the world.


Oh, well, maybe we’ll be able to take the Tour de France. Are there any Brazilians in the Tour? Ghanaians? Japanese? With all those drug expulsions surely my Aussie boys Cadel Evans and Michael Rogers are a shot?

Right then, that’s out of my system, back to Magic’s Child . . .

Update: Here’s a haiku I swiped from Scott’s blog:

yes, brazil lost it
yellow shirts not so sunny
rain falls on the field


La La La (updated)

Stupid English weather with it’s stupid rain. The fourth day of the first Ashes test has yet to begin. And Australia with only 5 wickets to bag. Most annoying. Better not rain tomorrow. Better not end in a draw. Bloody English weather!

Getty Images

Especially as Scott after much diligent googling found a bar in NYC that shows the cricket! Thus earning my eternal gratitude and undying devotion (not that he didn’t have it already, mind). That’s right, yesterday we watched the last hour of play at Eight Mile Creek in Soho surrounded by Aussies. Most excellent. They’ll be showing all of the Ashes—every day of every test—from the 5AM start till the end of the day’s play around 1PM. Bonza! Strewth! Bewdy, mate!

Last day of the tour! Who will wear the green? Please, please, please let it be Stuart O’Grady! And please let there not be any horrible prangs. Will Rasmussen be happy with being king of the mountain after yesterday’s disaster? I hope so. Poor baby. Twas horrible to watch.

And there’ll be much jokeying around in the last few places of the top 10. There’s only seconds between the fifth, sixth, seventh and eight places. Vinokourov just grabbed himself extra seconds to draw (almost) even with Levi Leipheimer in fifth place. My boy, Cadel Evans, is in eighth spot. Be lovely if he could move up. But you know what? A top ten finish in your first Tour is pretty bloody awesome.

And Lance, of course, will take the yellow in his last tour. He’s had an incredible career and proved himself to be without doubt the best on the tour. I fell in love with the Tour during the Miguel Indurain era, he of the mighty lungs, at the time everyone said we would never see his like again. And then along came Lance.

And how about next year? Who’s gonna win once Lance is gone? Who will be the next Tour god? I’m kind of hoping it will be more in the nature of an intense two or three or more way rivalry between several amazing riders with a different one winning every year. I cannot wait!

Update: yup, Lance got the yellow, Cadel Evans kept his 8th spot, Thor Husvold got the green, with Stuart O’Grady second.

Cricket resumed and Australia won by 239 runs. Not saying anything more. Gloating is in very poor taste.

How to Do Your Head in (updated)

Watch the Tour on the tellie while following the cricket through the BBC’s online radio and exchanging emails about it with your sister. Apparently I don’t multitask well. My head hurts. Thankfully the Tour is finished for the morning and I can concentrate on the cricket.

Am really enjoying the cricket right now. McGrath is bowling like a demon. He’s already gotten fivefer. Ha ha! I knew that Australia getting out for 190 was all about the wicket, not about the bowling. Of course now that Australia is in it’s all about the bowling not the wicket. No, I am not one-eyed.

Oh my, I’d forgotten about the BBC commentator—Blofeld’s appallingly plummy accent. It is to gag. Ack. Ack. Ack.

Update: 17 wickets taken in one day! Australia all out for 190; England 7/92 and only one real batsman left. McGrath gets his 500th test scalp with unbelievably brilliant bowling. As Merv Hughes said “Fair dinkum that was a good day’s play.” I reckon!

Australians: One and Two

Today’s Stage ended in an all out sprint with two Aussies coming out on top. I’m happy, even if I was hoping they’d come in the other way around—Stuart O’Grady, and then Robbie McEwen. And it’s always sad to see a breakaway mowed down within sight of the finish line. It’s gonna be a tight race for the green jersey. Fingers crossed that it winds up on O’Grady’s shoulders and stays there till the end. But with McEwen’s current form, well, sigh.

Bibs and Bobs

Working hard thus am not so bloggery as usual. Other than the novel I’m writing here’s what’s up in Justineland:

Daphne Lee has posted the unedited (and illustrated) version of her interview with me where I persist in getting the name of Samantha from Bewitched‘s grandmother wrong (got all that?). Daphne reports that Magic or Madness sold out in Kuala Lumpur the week the interview appeared in The Star. How stupendous is that?

Last night the New York Liberty beat the Houston Comets in overtime in Houston. Scott and me, we was screaming at the television like you wouldn’t believe. So happy! And as usual when the Liberty win everybody played their part. They are so teamy and ball-sharey and good. And now they’re better than 500 for the season. Being a Liberty fan is all about the ups and the downs. Thankfully they’re a bit more uppy at the moment. Next live game is Friday. Can’t wait! Season tickets make me happy.

The last two days of the Tour have been heart-stoppingly good. I don’t ever want it to end.

Many of my Oz sf friends are in Melbourne having a really good time. I am not even slightly jealous. Honest.

Write now. Many words.

I Hate Rest Days

The Tour is taking a rest day today. What’s that about? Rest day! What about me and other viewers like me? What are we supposed to do while the riders are slacking, luxuriating in bubble baths and drinking champagne and generally not riding their bikes and cat and mousing one another? It’s an outrage! There should be no rest days on the tour. None! Lazy slackers!

If you put the missing rest days back in then the Tour would be closer to 4 weeks long than 3. Imagine it! A whole month of the Tour de France. July truly would be the Tour month, every day of it. How fabulous would that be?

But would it be enough? How about all of the (Northern) summer? And have all the epic races of June July August merge into one big Tour de Europe? Or even better: why not have it last all year long? A Tour de World with races on board cruise ships as the cyclists are transported from one continent to the next. And with no rest days ever. In fact “rest day” would become a euphamism for dropping out of the race (permanently). Winners would be announced on a daily, weekly, seasonally and yearly basis with all the existing races (yellow, green, polka dot etc) in place but extra categories like a running silver jersey for the racer who’d been in the race for the longest and . . .

I can’t stand rest days! Why do I have to wait almost twenty-four hours for the next stage?! Especially now that Armstrong isn’t in yellow! Aaaaarrrggghhh!!!!!!!!!!

Robbie McEwen v Stuart O’Grady

Several people have asked what I make of Robbie McKewen using his head and shoulders to try and muscle Stuart O’Grady out of his way yesterday. Stuart O’Grady = Good; Robbie McEwen = not so much. I’m pleased there are consequences for that kind of behaviour.

That is all I have to say on the matter.

Tour de France (updated)

At least there’s one epic non-US sports event I can watch live in the USA: the glorious Tour de France. The first stage began today and the yankee, David Zabriskie, is warming the yellow jersey for Lance Armstrong. I’m not saying Armstrong’s gonna win overall, but we all know he’s going to be seeing a lot of yellow time. There goes my writing schedule!

This is where I’ll be getting my online coverage. Thanks again to Christopher and Gwenda for introducing me to the glories of the daily peloton.