Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Otago University Toga Parade 2007

Otago Orientation season has kicked off in Dunedin, with the traditional First Day Toga Parade.

New students rip the sheets off their beds and raid their hostel gardens to create authentic-looking Roman head wreaths.

The annual Toga Parade begins outside the Dunedin Dental School, and then heads along George Street (Dunedin's main street) to finish up in the Octagon. The route is the same as the one most of these students will make in a few years time in a black gown, when they celebrate their graduation from Otago University...

Dunedin's Police lead off Otago's First Year Toga Parade '07

A group of first year girls play up for the TV cameras

The race is on to get to the Octagon

Dancing in the streets of Dunedin

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Toga Party in the Octagon...

A small group of students add a bit of colour to the Toga Party

Dunedin Mayor Peter Chin tries to welcome the new students, one Hall at a time

"You guys are even noiser than the City Councillors!"

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Monday, 19 February 2007

Slam Dunk "Superman" for Otago Nuggets

The Otago Nuggets basketball team have confirmed two new imports for the 2007 season... one a friend of the coach's fresh from the Aussie NBL, while the other is expected to raise the roof at Dunedin's Lion Arena.

24-year old American guard/forward Jameel Pugh arrived in Dunedin this week, with a reputation as one of the best slam dunkers in the business.

(Check out this old HoopsTV video of the self-proclaimed Superman's dunking abilities, including what's labelled a 50-inch vertical... The sound's a bit out-of-sync for some reason, but the videos all good!)

"Human highlight reel" Jameel Pugh was drafted by the Dakota Wizards in the NBA's National Basketball Development League in 2006, but it's in US slam dunk contests that he's made his name. Pugh was named by Slam Magazine as the World's Best Dunker in 2000, and the 33rd best dunker of all time.

Otago Nuggets coach Rick Castle says he didn't choose Pugh purely for his dunking skills, and insists he has no intention of putting together a sideshow. However Coach Castle admits Pugh will "definitely be exciting to watch" and should give long-suffering Nuggets fans something to really cheer about this season.

Jameel Pugh (left); Justin Bailey (right)

Meanwhile, Castle's bringing one of his West Sydney Razorbacks over the ditch to fill the other import spot. 1.88m Point guard Justin Bailey played for the Australian NBL team this season (where Castle was assistant coach), and will be a key leader for Otago on the court.

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Wednesday, 14 February 2007

NZ now has a 6-way Government?

PM Hillin Cluck's minority coalition Government just got a little shakier, a little more complicated, and took another step to the left.

Her decision to get Taito Phillip Field (an electorate MP) expelled from the Labour Party will mean Field will remain in Parliament (for the time being) as an Independent MP, and Cluck & Co will need to rely on the Greens or the Maori Party to push through legislation and stay in power.

Labour and the JAPS (Jim Anderton's Progressives) formed a minority coalition government after the 2005 election, and have been able to govern thanks to the support of the Winston First and Peter Dunne United (a total of 60 seats/121 when Field is expelled).

In interviews yesterday, Field was keen to point out his enormous majority in Mangere (I bet he says that to all the girls). Today he says his comments regarding standing against Labour at the next election were based on "a hypothetical situation posed by a reporter and were taken out of context".
However, with a majority at the last election (the largest in the country), Field could have a good shot at retaining his seat... either as an independent, or maybe as a candidate for the Maori Party (who have been very supportive of him in recent months).

* NZ Herald: MP Field could join another party
* Stuff: Field to go: how Labour will survive

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Tuesday, 13 February 2007

Keep up with your Daily Soaps

Here in New Zealand, we get some of the most popular US Soap Operas, like Days of Our Lives and The Young and the Restless.

However they tend to be many years behind the United States, while others like General Hospital and Passions have disappeared from screens here in the recent years.

But for those keen to keep up with what's happening in your favourite US soaps, is one of the best places to keep tabs on the storylines, and all the comings and goings. There's also updates on the US version of the Colombian telenovela Ugly Betty.

The site has daily news updates on all the big Soap Operas, and is described as the "biggest soaps community on the web", no doubt helped by the popular message board section.

Unfortunately, one soap we don't get here in New Zealand is Guiding Light, which features a friend from my summer camp days, Caitlin Van Zandt, who plays the recurring character of Ashlee. has a very good section on Guiding Light, and a page on Ashlee Wolfe played by Caitlin Van Zandt (although unfortunately they haven't yet got a picture of her up... I'll have to let her know ;-)

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New Zealand Cheese Rolling Champs

The 2nd Annual New Zealand Cheese Rolling Championships were held in Southland last week in brilliantly fine conditions (unlike last year's mudfest!)

Based on the popular UK Cheese Rolling Champs, this kiwi version was started by the Henderson family in 2006. The family open up their family farm in Waikaka, Wendon Valley for the event.

Described as a bit of an "extreme sport", runners must chase after a round block of cheese, which is let loose from the top of a very steep hill (resulting in a lot of faceplants on the way down ;-) First person to 'capture the cheese' at the bottom wins!

In the UK, competitors chase after seven kg wheels of Double Gloucester... but here in the deep south, it's a smaller four kg block of Whitestone Windsor Blue, which organisers reckon has been selected specifically for local conditions.

The Grand Cheesemaster explains the rules of Cheese Rolling
to some of the event's younger competitors...

Local lad Tom McKay (in the white t-shirt) on his way to winning
the title of Grand Cheese Rolling Champion '07...

One winning runner struggles to keep hold of the 4kg block of cheese...

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Saturday, 10 February 2007

Feb 14th more than Valentine's Day

It's just a few days now till Valentine's Day... but that's not the only big thing happening on February 14 ;-)

That's also the day the 2007 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue comes out (in the United States... other countries may have to wait a little longer for their copies!)

This is the 43rd Annual Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, and there's the usual hype (and of course controversy) about it this year.

The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue was first published in 1964. The magazine's biggest selling swimsuit issue was the 25th Anniversary Edition in 1989, featuring Kathy Ireland on the cover. New Zealand's own Rachel Hunter featured on last year's cover, alongside other all-star past cover models like Elle Macpherson.
One difference in these modern times is that US fans can download their favourite models onto their cellphones. SI Mobile offers cell phone wallpapers, taken straight from the Swimsuit edition photo shoots. ($1.99 each, available for all the major carriers)

All the big name supermodels are there (over 50 to choose from), including Victoria's Secret model Heidi Klum, Ana Beatriz Barros, and tennis star Maria Sharapova... plus Aussie model and 3-time cover girl Elle Macpherson. (The SI Mobile site also offers downloadable video clips from the photos shoots, and animated screensavers.)

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Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Boo Sux, Don't vote for Romania!

Boo... The Rednex ft. rappers Ro-Mania have been disqualified from the Romanian Eurovision qualifying final, after a committee decided their song Well-o-wee broke the contest's rules.

The committee said the Rednex song, along with Dracula, My Love (Simplu & Andra) and Sinada (New Effect feat. Moni-K) were disqualified because it was discovered some sections of the songs were played publicly before October 1 2006. (In the Rednex case, it's understood it was part of Ro-Mania's rap section that was at issue, not the rest of the song).

Well-o-wee and Dracula, My Love were both favourites to win the final on February 10, and represent Romania at Eurovision 2007 in Helsinki.

As a consolation, here's the Rednex performing Mama, Take Me Home at last year's Melodifestivalen (Swedish Eurovision selection). They finished 6th in the final...

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Tornado over Lake Taupo

A bunch of students holidaying in the central North Island of New Zealand captured these great images the other night while out jetboating... a tornado spiralling above Lake Taupo.

From their view on the boat, the tornado appeared to be well over ten metres across, and up to a kilometre high in the sky...

(Cheers to Andrew Lynch & James Abernethy for the photos)

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Saturday, 3 February 2007

The Great Rednex Comeback continues...

Swedish group the Rednex rocked the world in 1994, with their smash hit debut single, Cotton Eye Joe... a catchy novelty track, mixing Country Music with Eurodance.

Nearly everyone has heard the song (and probably danced to it), but they were written off by many outside Europe as a one hit wonder group, after followup singles from their debut album Sex and Violins failed to repeat the massive chart success in markets like the USA and UK.

However after a few years break, the group returned to the European charts in 2000, with the hit single Spirit Of The Hawk, and followup album Farmout.

The Rednex had another surprise comeback last year, when their song Mama Take Me Home made it to the finals of the Swedish Melodifestivalen (Sweden's qualifying competition for the Eurovision song contest.) The song finished sixth and was another hit single for the group, as was followup single Fe Fi (The Old Man Died).

This year the Rednex are having another stab at the Eurovision Song Contest... but the Swedes are hoping to compete in 2007 as the Romanian entry.

They've so far qualified for the Romanian national final in the pre-selection for Eurovision, performing Well-o-Wee together with rappers Ro-Mania...

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Great Russian Free Running

The popularity of Free Running or Le Parkour (l'art du déplacement/ the art of movement) has skyrocketed since being featured in a number of commercials, TV shows, music videos and movies... the most notable being the opening sequence of the recent James Bond film, Casino Royale.

The aim of the extreme sport is to cross obstacles in the fastest and most direct way possible.

Parkour has its origins in France, but it is Eastern Europeans who have become some of the most proficient at the sport, traceurs (participants) scaling apartment buildings, walls, and railings with enormous agility.

Here's one of the best examples I've found...

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The world of e-Greetings

With Valentines Day coming up, you might not to wait by your mailbox this year... many people may have more luck waiting by their computer.

E-Greetings have become more common as people use email and text messaging in place of snail mail. Last Christmas, many people chose not to mail out traditional cards, opting instead to send festive greetings via email (some businesses donating the money they saved to local charities). is a great website for funny, animated, and "talking" eCards, with a good range of unique cards perfect for a range of occasions, like "CSI Cake Division" for Birthdays, and an unsettling "Cupid" one for Valentine's Day.

The site lets you personalise your ecard with a message and your own images. They have a selection of cards for free, but offer a much larger range with a yearly subscription of just (US)$13.99 (which is a lot less than buying all those paper greetings cards).

A subscription also lets you schedule eCards to arrive it on a set date in the future. Right now they're offering Free 30-day trial memberships, which lets you send unlimited eCards.

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Thursday, 1 February 2007

Well, I guess it was time then...

Wow!... Has it really been that long?? No wonder Bill Ralston wasn't willing to commit to another 3 years heading State TV News! ;-)

(undoctored screen-cap from website)

[ Right now I'm listening to:
^ Andreas Lundstedt - Move ]

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