Book some time to absorb this
Two books arrived this week which would be hard-pressed to be equalled online, as in the worldwide web. One is The All Blackography, The Indispensable Guide to every All Black by former journalist Ron Palenski.
The other is Enhancing Matauranga Maori and Global Indigenous Knowledge by Taiarahia Black, until recently a professor at Massey University.
With Palenski's book there is a warning: "Much of the information in this book cannot be found on the internet."
Good on him; an old print man at heart. He has knocked together 576 pages with two All Black biographies per page.
It is one of those bibles which you keep within arm's length for when taking one of the obligatory micro-pauses from the confounded computer screen.
Like the latest Rugby Almanack, it has come out of Upstart Press Ltd in Auckland. The former Moa upstarts, Kevin Chapman and Warren Adler, a former Manawatu Evening Standard sports reporter, have reinvented themselves as Mower, with a lawnmower logo, and good on them for keeping New Zealand-born sports books coming.
To give Palmerston North's NZ Rugby Museum credit, they do have All Black bios on their website.
Palenski's book certainly settles debates as to where All Blacks went to school. There are, by my count 1130 All Blacks, up until February this year.
The Indigenous Maori book is different. Tai Black, father of rugby players Whitiaua and Otere, tells me stacks of them have been sold to American universities.
He was watching rugby at Taupo recently when accosted by Chiefs coach Dave Rennie who asked him to come to his car because he had something for him. Black was flummoxed when Rennie and Wayne Smith produced a copy of Black's book and asked him to sign it.
Their interest was in the chapter entitled Maori Culture Counts, A Case Study of the Waikato Chiefs, written by Massey University's Jeremy Hapeta, the former Manawatu prop.
It centres on the Chiefs' successes in 2012 and 2013 coinciding with the change in coaches, how they were athlete-centred and returned to the cultural roots of the region, where "creating a champion team is a spiritual act".
The Chiefs are also the only Super Rugby team to have their own haka, composed by the players.
The book is for academics and uses terms like "backward-chaining" which Smith uses when coaching.
For those not tired of Lance Armstrong doping revelations, The Race to Truth arrived from Bantam Press on Tuesday.
It is the memoir of Emma O'Reilly, the Irish woman who was a masseur on Armstrong's US Postal team - and you don't get much closer to the rotter than that. O'Reilly ended up spilling the beans to courageous journalist David Walsh and he based much of his book, Seven Deadly Sins, on it.
Both of them were put through hell by Armstrong before he was outed. Her book includes a photo at her reconciliation meeting with Armstrong in Florida last year, and she looks awkward.
It must have been a magnanimous act of forgiveness that she asked Armstrong to write the foreword to her book, which he did.
It's also ironical that the people Armstrong castigated are now making money at his expense.
■ When the national league basketball press releases arrive, it is difficult to decipher who is who.
They are utterly besotted by sponsors' names, although at least our Jets do have Manawatu in their title. Take this week's. -
"The Breakers Manawatu Jets have ended their season on a high with a 112-76 rout over the James Blond Supercity Rangers. The Pacific Jewellers Saints get their 12th win, edging out the Advice First Pistons.
The Saints will return home, where they host the final four, playing the Fico Finance Giants. The IMS Payroll Hawks will play the Zerofees Sharks in the first semifinal."
Translation: Manawatu beat Waitakere, Wellington beat Waikato. Wellington will play Nelson and Hawke's Bay will play Southland.