Monday, June 20, 2016

Auctions, "Legal Advice" and Mr Butthurt

I’ve been thinking about my recent brush with Mainfrieght. 

For those of you not up to speed I was auctioning an “artwork” that featured their logo bust into pieces. You’ll find the text for the auction at the bottom of this post. 

The auction ran for just over 24hours. It was on over hundred watch lists with over six and a half thousand views. When Mainfreight decided to shut it down. Now this is where things get interesting.

Did they come after me for pointing out how terrible their service is? Or refute the fact they had smashed all my stuff in the past?


Instead they contacted TradeMe (who were pretty brave letting me auction the thing in the first place at least they have a sense of humour) and made them shut the auction down over an IP issue (that’s Intellectual Property which is basically their logo). That was their only recourse. Interesting. So I’m guessing they had a hurried meeting and set their lawyers on the task. And they reacted in a day. Fast turnaround. From what I know about lawyers I’m guessing that wasn’t cheap. 

When someone reacts so quickly to shut you down you know what that says to me?


The next thing that happened - within 10 minutes of the email I got from TradeMe saying the auction had be shut down - was a phone call, on my cellphone - from the manager I named on this blog. You’ll notice that posting has been removed from here more on that later. 

He informed me in veiled terms he was seeking legal advice because I had named him here on the blog. I’m still worried about naming and shaming him again so for the purposes of this story we’ll call him “Mr Butthurt” When I asked Mr Butthurt “are you guys setting your lawyers on me?” He quickly refuted this by again stating “I’m seeking legal advice.” Because I had named him. Cold chill time. He also went to great lengths to explain to me this was him personally not Mainfreight who would be “seeking legal advice.”

I pointed out to Mr Butthurt that it was my personal blog and I had posted emails he had sent me. Nothing was untrue it was his own words. He went on to point out that the blog was linked to a TradeMe auction with 6,500 views and over 100 watchers… wow he was really paying attention to the auction wasn’t he? He also reminded me that I was the person who’s pervious action had over a million views. He had really done his homework. 

So here’s what I think happened. Mainfreight, knowing someone was exposing their less-than-impressive business practices, had found a sneaky way to shut down the auction - “Everything he’s saying is true but wait a minute he’s using our IP!” I hope that guy got a raise. 

However then there was the sticky subject of my personal blog post. Notoriously difficult to shut down. So they phone up Mr Butthurt and say you tell him to shut it down or - not in these words - you’re going to sue him. Don’t worry we’ll pay your legal bills. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they didn’t threaten to throw him under the train if he didn’t react. 

They did all this in a day. What does that say to you?

I scared them. 

One of the biggest companies in New Zealand was frightened of a hairy bloke sitting in front of his laptop in his underwear. 

They didn’t think to embrace this auction and join in on the fun. Call me and say we’ll buy the thing if you donate the money to a charity. They didn’t look to find a positive spin. They didn’t come out in the media and say we’re going to make things right with this guy and replace all his stuff that we trashed. No they didn’t. Instead they shut me down.


Because if they did if for me they’d have to do it for the hundreds of thousands of other people they’re done this to. I’ve been contacted by a lot of people who have some terrible things to say about Mainfrieght and the same thing keeps coming up again and again. 

They’re bullies. Big, bad bullies. 

Sadly they were successful and I’ve removed my post that named Mr Butthurt however there’s nothing stopping me putting it up again and changing his name to conceal his identity is there. So keep an eye oh for my correspondence with “Mr Butthurt” in the future. 

In the meantime here’s the text from my auction which was cut down just as it was getting up and running…

"A few years ago I shipped my precious possessions from Auckland to Wellington. Imagine my surprise when they arrived and I discovered it looked like they had been attacked by a troop of angry baboons high on rage medication. Not a single object had escaped their primal fury. 

Naturally, I was upset with the company - how was this the “premium” service I paid for? They were utterly indifferent to my pleas. This was because I hadn’t realised what I’d signed up for. They hadn’t taken the happiest moments of my life and trashed them, no, they had taken them and turned them into ART. What a silly sausage I was for not seeing this. I’ve never really understood modern art so it was initially lost on me. 

My priceless heirlooms and irreplaceable objects hadn’t been ruined they had been “deconstructed” like a dessert at a fancy restaurant. I had no right to complain. They had done me a huge favour and their trained rage-monkeys had actually increased the value of my possessions!

Wow what a service! No wonder they’re one of our countries biggest companies. However I have since had a lot difficulty selling the broken detritus they “gifted” to me and I’ve spend years trying to recoup my losses. 

But then I had a brilliant idea! I would use their service to create a new work of art! I created this abstract signage, carefully packaged it (got to give them a challenge right?) and sent it to myself through their company. Originally I thought it might take a few attempts for them to work their magic so I was fully intending to send it back and forth a few times. Amazingly the butter-fingered, jackbooted cave trolls worked their artistic magic on the first attempt.  As you can see. So I dutifully framed the “artwork” and put it up here for your amusement... sorry consideration. 

I have also decided to put a “buy now” price in case some large corporation wanted to shut this auction down early and hang this stunning piece of art in their head office as a constant reminder of their high standards of service. 

If you have any questions I’m here and ready to happily answer them. 

For the story behind this art work please visit my blog."   

I wonder how long it will be before I get another friendly-but-threatening phone call. Or a horses head in my bed.  

Sunday, June 19, 2016

So where did my auction go?

Sadly the fun is over. The shipping company in question contacted TradeMe and said my artwork was an IP infringement. This is how Al Capone must've felt when he got done for tax avoidance.

TradeMe have been great about this as they always are. Love those guys.

However as far as the shipping company are concerned they didn't see the humour in the situation. In fact I'm sure any minute now there's going to be a knock on the door from "the boys." I also had a phone call from the individual I named on this blog who said he was taking legal advice. So I've taken down that post and apologised to the man who was responsible for so much misery in my life because, I'm guessing, this caused him a lot of embarrassment at work. Which in truth doesn't make me feel too crash hot about myself. I inadvertently cyber-bullied the dude.

I when I was a kid at school there were these two boys that would pick on me. One of them was almost six foot and they made my life a misery and as a result I've never liked bullies. However when someone is bigger than you sometimes it's best just to avoid eye contact.

I hope you don't think less of me for backing down.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Dear Marcus

I know things move at a glacial pace here at The Wood of Kings. But in my defence I've been waiting to have some good things to post. And I think you'll enjoy this. There's a bit of reading but it's fun.

Quick backstory. I had to park in a parking building and I couldn't find a damn ticket machine anywhere. Believe me I looked. There was a boot but it contained nothing more than some broken chairs and some beer bottles. So I wrote a note and left it inside my windscreen explaining and I included my phone number. Ring me and I'll come and pay.

When I returned to my car I discovered a ticket for $65 waiting for me. I had been there no longer than 45 mins. Strangely enough the only real way to correspond with NZCMS was by mail. How quaint.

So I embarked on a series of letters with Marcus Baker at NZCMS. I decided to start relatively normal. Stating my case and pleading for leniency. I does start pretty dull but stick with us as things progressed I got more and more insane. As you'll see...

So far so grovelling. His reply was beautifully robotic.

However he had made his first mistake. He had engaged with me. Like a commuter who had accidentally made eye contact with a raving hobo on the street. 

Then something great happened Sally also decided to join the correspondence. She's a little firecracker this one. But she didn't figure on my growing friendship with Marcus. 

So I started replying to Sally as well...

Also it was festive season so I decided to send Marcus a card...

Marcus responded in true impersonal form.

The poor chap seems a bit confused I decided to help him out and, in the process, try to further cement our growing personal bond. 

I think this must've struck a nerve with Marcus because he suddenly seemed very keen to shut down our conversation. 

Not so fast mate. So I sent him a letter by registered mail. He was going to have to open this one. 

And I decided to add a personal drawing. 

NZ Post, bless them, tried multiple times to deliver this bundle of joy but sadly it was eventually returned to me. Marcus is a lot more cunning than I thought. A worthy adversary. 

The company doesn't exist. Well played Mr Baker, well played. So I simply popped it in another envelope and sent it away. 

I'm sad to report I haven't heard anything from Marcus since. No doubt pocketed the cash and taken that little hellcat Sally for a passion-filled night on the town. I'll miss him. I guess I just have have to remind myself that some birds aren't meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up does rejoice. But still, the place you live in is just that much more drab and empty that they're gone.

I guess I just miss my friend.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Enjoy the View

There are some days I just can't help myself.

For example recently this woman posted this "inspirational" drivel on FaceBook.  The images and names have been changed to protect the moronic.

We see this stuff more and more these days it's usually the banal masquerading as deep and insightful. So I decided to prick the balloon the inane. Anyway this guy - let's call him Mr Angry - took offence...

Sensing an opportunity for some fun I then deleted my original post so now it looked like his was the first comment...

Sadly I wasn't quick enough to get the further responses after this but they were mostly people asking what the hell was Mr Angry's problem. He got a lot angrier after this.

I love social media. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Where there's Smoke...

So I've been doing some TV ads again recently. I've been out of the game for a while so I was worried that I might be a bit rusty. However the finished ads are just smashing directed by the very clever Taika Waititi the NZ Director behind such great NZ films as Eagle verses Shark, Boy and the recent hilarious Vellington Vampire "documentary" What We Do In The Shadows.

So anyway here are the ads I hope you like them. They're dark, funny and I hope they strike a cord with the audience...

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Typist Wanted

For many years now I've been making a living as a screenwriter. However it's not a profession that gets much respect from the rest of the industry. Here's a recent example. I got an email from a young lady, a camera operator, who wanted to know if I would write a script for her.

It started off innocently enough with an email...

You'll need to click on these emails to expand them but I promise you it will be worth the effort.

I politely declined. My problem has always been that I'm too nice.  So hot on the heels of this email came another...

Frankly, I don't think I've ever had such an insulting email in my life.

So I send her a message explaining everything that was wrong with this email.

I thought this did a good job of educating this young lady on the error of her ways. It seems I was wrong...

This was followed quick smart by another email...

Am I taking crazy pills here? This person still seems to be trying to get me to "format" her script for her.

Can you spot what is missing from these emails? I did...

Yeah I'm a bit of a jerk here but enough was enough. Would it have killed her to say sorry?

It appears not...

Here in the New Zealand film industry this happens all-too often. Writers are never seen as making any kind of worthwhile contribution to the process, we're just a box to tick or a problem to overcome. Which is why our storytelling suffers.

I hope my pain has given you a few chuckles. I was laughing as I read these emails. Laughing though the tears. The bitter, bitter tears. 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

What Makes a Hero?

“I only mention it because sometimes there's a man... I won't say a hero, 'cause, what's a hero? But sometimes, there's a man. And I'm talkin' about the Dude here. Sometimes, there's a man, well, he's the man for his time and place. He fits right 
in there.”

10 most heroic moments from movies

“No use, Joker! I knew you'd employ your sneezing powder, so I took an Anti-Allergy Pill! Instead of a sneeze, I've caught you cold!” - Adam West as the campy 60’s Batman. 

Movies are where heroes live and here are some of their most heroic deeds. This is by no means a definitive list, it’s buffet. Take what you want and leave the rest. You may find your favourite heroic event missing and for that we’re sorry. Then again some of these you will most definitely disagree with and that’s fine but we do hope they make you think because if we’ve learnt anything from the movies it’s that you don’t have to wear a cape to be a hero. Being a hero doesn’t mean leaping from an exploding building while holding a beautiful woman in your arms. Sometimes saving the day can be as easy as stepping up on stage in front of a crowded room or a stopping a mummy from sucking your best friend’s soul out through his arse. So open your mind and enjoy some pure, heroic moments.

Raiders of the Lost Ark 

There are so many heroic moments in this movie it’s almost impossible to pick just one. Andy running from the giant boulder at the beginning is pure ironic movie heroism. Climbing under the nazi truck? The swim to the submarine? This is not an easy choice but there is one moment in this film where we all found ourselves jumping from our seats to cheer on Indiana Jones. The bit where instead of fighting the giant swordsman Indy simply pulls his gun and shoots him.
Legend goes that during filming Harrison Ford had been suffering from dysentery and exhaustion due to the extreme heat of Tunisia during filming. As originally planned, a scene was elaborately choreographed, with Jones facing the expert swordsman and trying to defeat him with just his whip. Some footage of the planned fight was shot (and was seen in at least one of the movie's trailers) but the filming was proving to be very tedious, both for Ford and the crew, and at some point the star had had enough. It has been widely reported that he said something to Spielberg along the lines of, "I have a gun why don't I just shoot the son of a bitch?" Spielberg liked the idea, scrapped the rest of the fight scene, and filmed the brief sequence that appears in the movie. It sums up Indy’s character perfectly - he’s a hero who doesn’t play by the rules. 

When We Were Kings

"I dun sumthin’ special for this fight! I dun wraselled an alligator. I hospitalised a brick! I’m so bad I make medicine sick!" 
Regular readers will know this is one of our favorite movies and with good reason. It’s the story of Muhammad Ali going to Zaire to square off against George Forman in the famous "Rumble in the Jungle.” The moment of pure heroism in this movie is summed up by a still shot. A photograph that features Norman Mailer and George Plimpton - respected writers in Zaire to cover the fight. Both men didn’t believe Ali could beat the monster that was George Foreman. The photo was taken at the exact moment Ali did just that. Floored Foreman. Both Mailer and Plimpton are rising from their seats with expressions of disbelief and excitement dancing on their faces. It doesn’t come better than that and heroes don’t come bigger than Muhammad Ali. 

Shaun of the Dead

“Take car. Go to mum's. Kill Phil - "Sorry." - grab Liz, go to the Winchester, have a nice cold pint, and wait for all of this to blow over. How's that for a slice of fried gold?”

Sometimes heroes rise from the most unlikely of places. In the case of this movie Shaun - a hopeless drone in electronic retail shop - gets his call to greatness when Zombies start taking over the world. It’s the classic story boy meets girl, girl becomes disillusioned with boy, girl leaves boy, the dead rise and start eating the living. It’s a Zom-Rom-Com. Shaun’s heroic fate is one I think all of us can identify with, while everyone else is running scared he assembles his friends and leads them to the safest place he knows - the pub. You can’t really get more heroic than that. After all, if the end of the world is happening what better place to wait it out than your local boozer?  

The Last Boy Scout

In the early 90's, there was a definite, consistent presence in action movies: slow motion cinematography, wild gun-play, and funny one-liners. Granted, there are still some of those today, but it just wasn't the same as was back in the heady days of expolison-filled flicks like The Last Boy Scout. Now there are so many special effects in the current action films that it drowns out what used to be the true heart of the "popcorn flick". Bruce Willis character Joe - a jaded, deadbeat P.I. - saves the life of the man who ruined his career, and avenges the death of the guy that fucked his wife. But his true moment of heroic glory comes when he casually tells a villain that if he touches him again he’ll kill him. Needless to say the guy touches him again and Joe does kill him - just a casually as he issued the threat. Classic. The jig at the end after he offs the bad guy into the blades of a passing helicopter is pretty sweet too.

Sin City

Delivered in a blistering ballet of bullets and blood, dames and danger at every turn.  Sin City is a pitch-perfect adaptation of Frank Miller's graphic novels based in the fictional town of Basin City. A kinetic masterpiece of pop culture. Chief amongst the town's residents is Marv, who trawls the darkest areas of the city looking for the person who killed his one true love, Goldie. Marv - as played by Mikey Rourke - is a monstrous unstoppable man mountain who bats cops and crooks aside as if they were flies. Marv is covered in scars, mentally unhinged, violent and never far from a drink... or trouble. Hardly what you might call hero material. But when he faces off against the silent, smiling psychopath Kevin then I defy anyone not to feel like cheering. Even when Marv feeds Kevin to his own dog - while he’s still alive - you can help but feel your heart lift almost as much as your stomach churns. The big man himself sums it all up when he says - “I've been framed for murder and the cops are in on it. But the real enemy, the son of a bitch who killed the angel lying next to me, he's out there somewhere, out of sight, the big missing piece that'll give me how and the why and a face and a name and a soul to send screaming into hell.” You can’t spell anti-hero without “hero” I say.   

Field of Dreams

Sometimes heroes do crazy things. That’s what makes them heroes. Come on, no sane person would run into a burning building to save a child would they? Logic often doesn’t play a part in heroic acts. There’s no place for it to be honest. Heroes defy logic and sanity. Never has that been more obvious than in the heroic act that Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costtner in his best role ever) undertakes in Field of Dreams. 
He ploughs under his cornfield to build a baseball diamond - putting his farm, his family and his sanity at risk. Why? Because a voice tells him too. This starts him on a journey that ends with not a dry eye in the house. But this isn’t just a heroic moment because of it’s sheer insanity it’s also heroic because Ray listens to the voice in his head and acts on it. So often we ignore the voice inside us because - frankly - its suggestions are pretty crazy but I think if more of us acted on our inner voices we’d live in a more interesting world. Expect if your voice is telling to buy a semi-automatic weapon and pick off people like ants from a high tower. Don’t listen to that voice. That’s a bad voice. 

Team America: World Police

There is a moment in Team America that rivals some of the greatest most heroic moments in any movie with, or without, puppets. Broadway star and World Police officer Gary Johnston must face Alec Baldwin president of the Film Actors Guild in an “act off” in front of the assembled leaders of the free world. The speech unites everyone, saves the world and defeats the bad guy. Here printed, in it’s entirety, is that speech.  
We're dicks! We're reckless, arrogant, stupid dicks. And the Film Actors Guild are pussies. And Kim Jong Il is an asshole. Pussies don't like dicks, because pussies get fucked by dicks. But dicks also fuck assholes: assholes that just want to shit on everything. Pussies may think they can deal with assholes their way. But the only thing that can fuck an asshole is a dick, with some balls. The problem with dicks is: they fuck too much or fuck when it isn't appropriate - and it takes a pussy to show them that. But sometimes, pussies can be so full of shit that they become assholes themselves... because pussies are an inch and half away from ass holes. I don't know much about this crazy, crazy world, but I do know this: If you don't let us fuck this asshole, we're going to have our dicks and pussies all covered in shit!” 

Bubba Ho-tep

Based on the Bram Stoker Award nominee short story by cult author Joe R. Lansdale, Bubba Ho-tep tells the "true" story of what really did become of Elvis Presley. We find Elvis (Bruce Campbell) as an elderly resident in an East Texas rest home, who switched identities with an Elvis impersonator years before his "death", then missed his chance to switch back. Elvis teams up with Jack (Ossie Davis), a fellow nursing home resident who thinks that he is actually President John F. Kennedy, and the two valiant old codgers sally forth to battle an evil Egyptian entity who has chosen their long-term care facility as a place to feed his hunger by sucking the residents souls out through their arses. 
I’m not pointing to any one heroic moment in this film the movie in itself is pretty damn heroic. An aging Elvis fighting a mummy in a retirement home? It’s astounding that anyone actually gave them money to make this crazy piece of film-making in the first place. But they did and it’s a mad little gem of a movie. The heroic element in this movie is actually one of the most heroic things I can think of - enduring friendship. Elvis and JFK face old age and a soul-sucking demon together. I can only hope that later in life my friends and I can share that kind of friendship. Minus the mummy of course.  

Napoleon Dynamite

The misleading tagline for this film reads - “He’s out to prove he’s got nothing to prove.” Fricking idiots. The marketing boffins that came up with that garbage should be tied to a piece of nylon and dragged behind a school bus. 
Preston, Idaho's most curious resident, Napoleon Dynamite, lives with his grandma and his 32-year-old brother (who cruises chat rooms for ladies) and works to help his best friend, Pedro, snatch the Student Body President title from mean teen Summer. 
Like Bubba Ho-tep this is another movie about friendship amongst many other things, including - but not limited to - cage fighting, ligers, time machines, tater tots, lazy lamas and becoming president. It’s this last thing that brings us to our heroic moment and it’s a doozy - which is why I’ve saved it for last. 
With everything hanging in the balance, Pedro mounts the stage and delivers his student body presidential candidate speech. It doesn’t exactly set the world on fire so ubernerd Napoleon Dynamite leaps onto stage and rocks out to the phat beats of Jamiroquai. He puts everything on the line for his friend - well he risks making even more of a frickin’ idiot of himself. But that heroic act of friendship is something wonderful to behold. Something Awesome. 


Two men in search of wine. In search of women. In search of themselves. Hardly a movie you expect to find a hero. After all, can you really only enjoy films where the characters are people you'd happily have over to your home for dinner? Well the two guys in this film would make your skin crawl if they sat down next to you. 
Feature Films are not popularity contests. And sometimes heroes can be people we don’t actually like very much. When the character of Miles (Played brilliantly by tubby every-man Paul Giamatti) steals cash from his mother's bedroom dresser near the beginning of the film do we find him morally reprehensible? Absolutely. But your heart breaks for him when he does it. You can see how much he hates himself. 
 Thankfully Miles redeems himself at the end when he climbs the steps to Maya’s door and knocks on it. This is a moment of heroism equal to every hostage ever rescued by Arnie, ever. For anyone that’s ever been there, those steps are like Everest. The simple act of raising your arm to knock on that door is like lifting an elephant. How does Maya react when she answers his knock? We’ll never know and we don’t need to because the real moment of power, moment of glory lies in Miles plucking up the courage to rap his knuckles on the door of the woman who just might be the love of his life.