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image (Updated following Round Round 7)

As I write this, it’s not so much anger as pain.

I was angry after the first couple of rounds of the AFL season, seeing my Tigers who were so competitive and gave us so much excitement and hope for the future just last season performing like a bottom-4 team.

I’m certain Dockers fans are feeling the same as we are. What the hell has happened? How could Richmond & Fremantle possibly go from genuine contenders (looking at the bulk of the 2015 season rather than one Finals match) to contenders for the wooden spoon in one off-season?

I think the answer lies not within the walls of Punt Road or Parry Street, but within the walls of at least eight other clubs (specifically: West Coast, Adelaide, Sydney, the Bulldogs, the Kangaroos, Geelong, Melbourne & the Giants). I name West Coast first in the list because they were the first club to implement what has become the new standard for team defence in the AFL. Gerrard Healy dubbed it the “Wagles Web” and in 2015 the technique earned them a Grand Final berth. By 2016 most other clubs had adapted their own version of Adam Simpson’s revolutionary team defence, but also developed offensive structures to compliment it for them and counter-act it against similarly structured opposition.

As a result of not advancing their technique enough, the Eagles are suffering from a bout of mediocrity, but let’s face it – they’re still better than the Tigers. The question is: why?

As I said above – the answer lies with these other clubs and their new defensive and offensive structures. The sides mentioned above have been drilled in the off-season in a new team-based defensive structure which is designed to put unprecedented pressure on opposition players whilst providing predictable team-based offensive support to themselves and their teammates. And it’s working. Just look at what the Giants did to last year’s Premiers.

You may well ask: hang on, you mentioned Melbourne in the same breath as the Kangaroos? And you’re right – there’s a big gap between the two, but that gap is more about player age, personnel and maturity. Mark my words: Melbourne’s structures could take on the best if they had a mature, high-quality list. They can thank Roos for embedding them & it looks like Goodwin is more than on-board.

Your next point may well be: but you still lost to Port. And I think that loss was a great deal to do with player development (or lack thereof) and the mindset of the team, which, after the first 4 rounds appears to be: lost.

So if all of these other teams have managed to take their defensive and offensive structures to the next level, why haven’t the Tigers? More to the point – why haven’t the Dockers? I think the answer lies in one simple thing: the coaches have made mistakes. Both Ross Lyon and Damien Hardwick have backed their 2015 game plan and relied on their players developing and stepping up to the next level to take them to the next step, but in 2016, it’s really not that simple anymore. The science of defence and offense in the AFL has never been more important. It’s why clubs like the Swans and the Crows have managed to debut unheralded rookies who come in and make a genuine impact. The Dockers and the Tigers are still stuck in an AFL style which lays out a game plan reliant on star power and up until this year, this was perfectly OK and still is to an extent if you look at the Hawks (speaking of star power).

This is where I point out that the Tigers were the most competitive we’ve seen them all year against the reigning Premiers. I think Clarkson has a bit of the same problem as Lyon & Hardwick, but he has a team with extraordinary talent & an unstoppable mindset. If only we could bottle that mindset…

Both Lyon & Hardwick have also failed to develop their young players. The Dockers because Ross Lyon is allergic to anyone under the age of 25 and Hardwick because whomever is in charge of player development at Punt Road should be updating their LinkedIn. Let me also say I’m not at all fond of the midfield coach’s work, but I digress and I think the massive gap between this year and last is less to do with development of individuals and more to do with the development of a mindset and a consistent structure.

Let’s take the Tigers example, I have seen in every single match the same thing: Tigers ball-winners come away from a stoppage with the pill & either dish a handball or scrub a kick forward. If the handball is given, the player receiving the ball is mobbed & quickly dispossessed by opposition players who then flick a series of what appear to be pre-planned handballs to get clear of the erratic Tiger defence, then the Tigers’ opposition is in the clear. If the Tiger kick is scrubbed forward, it’s either straight to a contested situation or straight to the opposition – no time for decision making good or bad.

At almost no time have our panicked kicks under pressure hit the right target. And the reason is right there: pressure.

At every contest we seem to be outnumbered, at every stoppage the Tigers’ opposition seems to be more settled, better able to make a good decision.

This team defensive structure we’re facing (but not using) is also setting an impossible task for our forward line and back line. Most of our forward 50 entries are made to a contest in which we’re already outnumbered. It’s a wonder we’re scoring at all. Every time the opposition get out on the run, what has become the trademark Hardwick defensive move of having players further down the field leave their opponent to pressure the ball carrier is being ripped apart by clubs who have a field structure which positively CRAVES this style of defence. Our back-six have been put under impossible pressure with opposition players able to lead for the ball uncontested because the Tiger who should have been marking them has sprinted upfield to put pressure on the ball carrier (who either kicks it over their head or flicks another pre-planned handball to a teammate who does).

Media commentators as well as the players themselves have placed blame on the Tigers players for not running hard enough, but honestly – if a team without effective structures wants to cover a team with them, they need to run twice as far. They lose anyway.

I don’t know if our existing coaching staff can make the changes which clearly need to be made to upgrade our on-field structures and game plan to adapt for the modern game, but if they can – they need to start now. I know a football team is like a cruise ship – turning it around takes time, but we need to start making the turn right now because we’re headed for the Wooden Spoon Straits.

— IEK

mads_coffeeI had a dream last night.

I had a dream and for the first time in YEARS (I would estimate), I can remember it!

It was only relatively short, but somehow I was having a rather delightful lunch with Madonna at an on-street, outdoor cafe.

I don’t remember the details of the conversation, but I do remember waking up thinking that she was delightful company and what a nice chat over lunch.

I’ve never met Madonna in person and I tend not to watch anything celebrity-related, so I really have no idea what she would be like if we had really eaten a nice lunch together. I will continue to believe that it would be lovely.

In the dream, I was eating a pear, rocket and walnut salad (with balsamic dressing). It seemed rather tasty for dream food.

Anyway…So there’s me dream-name-dropping. Look out, Dream Elizabeth Montgomery*!

— IEK

 

*I know she passed away in 1995. I just LOVED her in Bewitched (I mean who didn’t?).

I’m going to this tomorrow and I am VERY bloody excited.

gunnas2

Thanks, Co-Consul. You win at Xmas presents.

— IEK

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So I was lucky enough to have my amazing colleagues in China take me out to see The Force Awakens today. Today was opening day for the latest Star Wars installment in China, but as many of you already know, this was my 3rd time.

Well, apparently China is receiving The Force Awakens only in 3D or Imax – no standard format.

I am SO GLAD that I was able to enjoy the film in Australia (twice) in standard format because despite me already loving this film – 3D is total shit.

I put on my 3D glasses (which clipped over my specs) & enjoyed the first interior shot of Stormtroopers – it looked cool with 3D – but then I got used to it, the image periodically split, fucking up the experience for me & nothing else in the film looked particularly interesting in 3D. Also I got a bit of a headache. Just small, but seriously – people are paying good money for a headache.

So here’s the rub: Movie studios began to pump money into 3D again in the mid-00s because A) they finally worked out how to make it with correct colour & B) 3D makes it harder for pirates to screencap the film.

BUT THEY NEED TO STOP IT.

Seriously – making movies in 3D to combat piracy is like Coca Cola making their flagship drink taste like someone shat in it to prevent people making cola.

Eventually we’ll stop drinking.

Until we can watch a 3D experience with our regular eyes, I do not want to ever attend another 3D screening of anything. And I know there are a bunch of people with me – especially those who get serious headaches from 3D like Co-Consul does.

Just like the 80s, 3D is not going to happen – stop trying to pretend it will.

— IEK

heroes_smallAs I rapidly approach the day when I will be seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens for the 3rd time at the cinema (yep. 3rd time), with still some distance from the first two times, I am inspired to write some kind of review/observation/rabid hate-fest/sickening love-fest of the film.

First off, let me say – I really enjoyed it. I thought it was better than I had anticipated having watched every single trailer at least four times. I think in some way the hype for the film and the build-up of excitement not only for me, but for our 3 kids as the release date approached made the experience that much more enjoyable.

Being a little worried about whether the film would be too violent for our kids, Co-Consul and I decided to go along to a night session on the 17th before the kids and I went to a morning session on the 18th. It was a good decision, as there were a few bits that should concern parents. Although there is no blood or gore, people are killed pretty frequently in the film and in at least two of these killing/murder scenes, it’s very obvious that the victims are innocent and unarmed. This may not make any difference to some (in that they abhor all violence), but to me this made all the difference and I ensured our 3 kids were primed with the understanding that 1) this is a movie & not real and 2) that nobody ever dies forever in movies or comics. It’s just one of those unwritten laws.

With that, we gathered our lightsabers, 6yo packed up her star puffs (thanks, Grandma) and we headed off to see THE NEW STAR WARS (me for the second time).

Having seen it already once, I was able to sit back from the spectacle (which is, let me assure you, VERY spectacular) and see the film with a more critical eye. My first viewing was coloured with a remeniscence that I think most of us who grew up with Star Wars, Empire and Jedi will have felt. The Force Awakens feels (as Han said in the trailer every time we watched it) like you’ve come home. There have been many criticisms of the film that it is a carbon copy of A New Hope and, while I absolutely see the point (because it’s true), I just don’t give a shit. A New Hope was brilliant and so is The Force Awakens – formula fiction is what it is.

My main gripe with the film…

**SPOILER ALERT NOW – stop here if you haven’t seen it. Also if you haven’t seen it – WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU!?!
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cover_art_teaser_2As promised earlier in the week (although perhaps somewhat later than hoped), I have uploaded a sample chapter of my upcoming action science fiction novel Bifrost and you can see it…

RIGHT HERE!!!

As I have also mentioned, this is my 3rd-draft version of this chapter and there may be changes between now and publication day, but I’m pretty happy with the chapter as it stands and any changes will hopefully be minor.

So, please read and enjoy this (very early) chapter of Bifrost and keep your eye out for more news on its release date!!

And yes – of course, there’s another tiny teaser for the Bifrost cover just above in this post!

— IEK

cover_art_teaserJust this morning I received the sample from the completed cover art for Bifrost!!!! I am VERY excited about it. I’ve given you a tiny sneak peak here!

<=

Very shortly, I will have the final, full-resolution copy in my hot little computer and will commence work turning it into an actual cover (complete with a title and perhaps even my name somewhere!).

I am also in the process of engaging the services of an editor for Bifrost (again – super excited).

Now…all of my excitement aside, I have decided that because Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens in December and (as previously mention) it appears that the writers and I have been drinking coffee from the same beans, I am going to publish a sample chapter or two (let’s see hot it goes) here on iekenner.com. Please understand that though these will be as polished as I can make them in the short time I have – these will not be the finished product and there may be changes here and there as we move from now until release day (an as-yet undetermined date in early 2016).

Keep your eye on this site for when the sample chapter goes up and please give me any feedback you have once you’ve read it!!

— IEK

g_greerYou may well ask: How can someone who identifies as a trans person support an organisation which allows a person with clear and stated transphobic opinions to give a lecture?

To me it’s obvious – she is not being asked to speak about transgender issues.

Germaine Greer is an icon of the womens’ liberation movement; a product of a very ugly time in our society’s past when women were treated as little more than property, an accessory to be admired, yet not heard. Greer grew up, as all women did in those days, seeing the hatred and violence directed at the suffragettes who came before her, suffering and seeing the hatred and violence directed at her – all for nothing more than being female and daring to imagine she could have a say. Greer chose to use all of that frustration she felt as a woman living under this oppression and to direct it into making a stand.

Many of the things she has said and written have been bold, confronting, angry and made her the target of hatred from almost every male who heard about it. This seemed to make her only more staunch in her views. I don’t agree with a lot of the things she says and yet I respect Germaine Greer for what she has done and the voices she has allowed to be heard.

Like many heroes of a time and of a moment, however, Germaine Greer is not perfect. Obviously for all of you people who are flawless of character, this must seem strange. Greer harbours many opinions which, though they allowed her to focus and drive through the ocean of negativity she had to navigate during the infancy of feminism as we know it, they have no place in the world today. Greer’s belief in herself and her bravery in the face of untold opposition is what has made her a hero of feminism and she will not change her stripes today just because a comparatively small number of people demand that she do so.

I don’t believe Germaine Greer will ever change her opinion of trans women (though it would be interesting to know her views on trans men). From what I derive from her stance, she believes that to be a woman, one must face the challenge of being a woman from birth – make your way through sexism, the absurd expectations of society that you must “look your best” all the bloody time, menstruation – all of the challenges faced only by those who grow up female.

Though I may not agree with it, I actually understand this argument. I don’t believe that being born with a vagina necessarily makes you a woman (there are many exceptions to this rule), but I understand that very, very few trans women could possibly understand what it truly is to be born as and grow up as a female.

Equally, though, very, very few people born female could understand what it truly is to be born in a gender you do not identify with and face the hate, violence and negativity which so sadly often accompanies the lives of trans people.

In this respect trans people and women are not so very different.

In looking over all of this, you may well say “But hey – you just said her opinions have no place in the world of today!” and you’d be partially right: her stance on the very existence of trans people has no place in the world of today, in fact she has not repeated her hateful opinions for decades and she said as much very recently. She is an intelligent person and I believe she realises her opinions don’t gel with today’s more open and understanding society which is why she hasn’t aired them for a very long time.

And her lecture at Cardiff University IS NOT ABOUT TRANSGENDER ISSUES – the lecture is entitled “Women & Power: The Lessons of the 20th Century“. It is a historical look over the womens’ liberation and feminist movement in the 20th century and how women have managed to fight their way to the right to vote, to legislated (if not real) equal-pay, to legislated equal rights and to the highest, most powerful jobs in the world. It is also a lecture on the work still to be done. I personally think it would be fascinating.

But now (misguided, in my opinion) activists are backing Germaine Greer against an opinion wall. If I know anything about Germaine Greer it is that she is at her most vocal – her most forthright when she is backed against a wall. And so she has made it clear that she has not changed her opinion of trans women. Important note: her opinion.

But if her task at the university is not to discuss transgender – why must we silence her on all subjects? In reality the trans movement only started gaining traction in the last 5 years, so it has little place in a brief university lecture about women in the 20th century!

I would absolutely support a ban on Germaine Greer if she were being asked to speak on the subject of transgender* because I feel her opinions are deeply negative, spiteful and ill-informed, but this lecture is absolutely not that. It is a lecture the subject of feminism and womens’ rights and on the history of the issue. On that subject, I think you could find few more important voices than Germaine Greer.

— IEK

*  Unless it were a debate because I love arguments and I also love winning them

Ranger Smith in Jumpsharkoid’s spacecraft. From Yogi Bear – definitely not Star Wars*.

!!SPOILER ALERT!! If you are one of the very odd people I know trying to avoid all social media, clips screenshots or information about the upcoming Star Wars film The Force Awakens, read no further (and understand that I think you are odd for trying to live in a time-bubble as if streaming video & a 24-hour news cycle never happened). Oh and that image you didn’t click on because you broke into a cold sweat isn’t from the new Star Wars film*, no…um…it’s from a lost episode of Yogi Bear where Ranger Smith climbs into a cave only to find an alien spacecraft and that annoying green martian who completely ruined the Flintstones. “Jumpsharkoid” I think his name was.

So…My WIP I’ve been working on for the last two and a bit years (Bifrost) just happens to introduce the MC with what appears to be a nearly identical scene to the new Star Wars film (a female scavenger in a desert landscape working through a huge, wrecked spacecraft).

This really is annoying me because it’s a completely freaking cool scene I don’t want to change and now (because I can’t get Bifrost released before The Force Awakens) it’s going to look for all the world like I ripped it off. Which I most certainly DID NOT!! I wrote that scene over 2 years ago.

I cannot believe this has actually happened. I only JUST watched the latest Force Awakens trailer (Trailer 3) and it was like watching another person’s take on my scene. Which was strangely cool, but also extremely worrying.

Anyway…I suppose the Pollyanna takeaway is that my ideas are just as completely awesome as Lawrence Kasdan & J.J Abrams’ ideas (hopefully even better!), but it’s feeling a little like I’m going to have to modify my intro for the Witch**.

— IEK

 

* This is a complete lie

** OOPS! Spoiler alert! ;o)

Like every other Tiger fan, I have been recovering since Sunday. Like many Tiger fans, in the week leading up to the Elimination Final, I downloaded the “All for the Finals” wallpaper and put it on every device I own.

Like every one of those fans, for the last week I’ve felt the sting every time I read the word “Finals”.

Now I like my Richmond Football Club wallpapers and I figured rather than take down the 2015 wallpaper for the off-season, I thought I’d make some modifications so that the Finals desktop wallpaper (which I thought was great) so that it was off-season friendly. I’ve hosted it on the site below for you to download.

These are not official wallpapers, but they are slightly modified official wallpapers (as in I did not create these, I just modified them). RichmondFC – please let me know if you need me to take them down or whatnot, but also feel free to host them on your site for everyone to download for the off-season.

 

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