Stop giving babies the same name as me, please. Plus, up-to-date budget news and everything else you may have missed across this week...
Kia ora and welcome to The Spinoff Weekend. Something I have noticed with increasing regularity is the sheer number of people I share a name with. Politicians, teachers, actors, musicians, friends, interview subjects, my son’s soccer coach and at least 30 people who have written for The Spinoff are called Chris. My plea to stop this madness is below, along with everything you need to know about Thursday’s budget announcement, and what the Chemist Warehouse is doing to your brain. Plus, we’re behind the scenes at Dancing with the Stars, and on the hunt for some missing salad dressing. It’s a packed newsletter, so you’d better pour yourself a fresh cup of Coffee Supreme and get into it.
-Chris Schulz, senior writer
It is, says Bernard Hickey, a budget aimed squarely at the “squeezed middle”. “It’s a bit of a sprinkling of a few things here and there,” says Bernard about Grant Robertson’s government spending announcement. “It’s not a flood of cash. And that was the problem here: some cash to people who say they need it, but also didn’t want to give too much cash, otherwise it would be accused of splashing the cash and pushing up inflation pressures again.” Read Bernard’s deep-dive into what it means here. Meanwhile, budget day is like Christmas to Toby Manhire, The Spinoff’s resident politics boffin who found himself in his happy place, recording quickfire podcast hot takes then filing this wonderful wrap of all the political post-budget pontification. Read it just for Toby’s description of Grant Robertson’s tie: “Imagine if a migraine got a migraine: this was it.”
Listen to Toby and Bernard hash out everything that was unveiled in Thursday’s budget in a quickfire Gone By Lunchtime podcast special episode.
At school, my two best friends were called Chris. My son’s soccer coach is called Chris. The leader of the National Party is called Chris. My favourite comedian is called Chris. Last week, I interviewed two people with the name Chris. I have a dozen people in my contact list called Chris, and more than 30 people called Chris have written for The Spinoff. On Wednesday, I am having coffee with a friend called Chris. Clearly, there are too many Chris’s in this world, and the name needs to be banned. I should know. My name is also Chris, and you can ready my argument here.
From our friends at Coffee Supreme: It feels like we’re all spending more time at home at the moment. Naturally, this means keeping your mug topped up and rocking your slippers during those online meetings (yeah, we see you). Having your favourite oat milk, peanut butter or chocolate within reach can be a real day-maker. Not only do Supreme have your coffee needs taken care of, they’ve also made keeping your pantry shelves stocked super easy with their free shipping and next day delivery. Grab your favourite pantry bits here.
Why do shoppers spend so long in there examining every single item on the shelves? Why do you wind up buying so much stuff you don’t need? And why is Dan Carter promoting it so much? Alex Casey sets out to answer all these questions in a story that examines the effect the Chemist Warehouse is having on us all. “If you took a picture of an aisle in the store and counted what you could see, there is so much information there that you’d be completely bombarded with all sorts of information, messages and prices,” says an expert. “It’s very, very easy to influence consumers in this sort of environment.” Alex talks to shoppers, experts and owners of other chemists in her deep-dive into the phenomenon, which you can read here.
Winter is a great time to travel around New Zealand, with quieter roads and more affordable off-season adventures awaiting. If you’re thinking about your next holiday, why not make it a road trip with GoSee? Whether you’re heading South to ski at Mt Hutt or going north to chase the sun, getting there can be as good as being there with a GoSee rental. See parts of the country you might not have otherwise – get off the beaten track or take a journey across the strait. With thousands of vehicles to choose from, you can find the perfect one for your getaway at GoSee.
When Paul Newman’s dressings began disappearing from supermarket shelves across Aotearoa, Charlotte Muru-Lanning had to find out what was going on. Unfortunately, for those addicted to flavours like Greek vinaigrette and honey mustard, the news isn’t good. “Shipping issues mean we’re not able to purchase Newman’s Own dressings to sell in our stores at the moment,” a Countdown spokesperson says, and there’s no timeline for their return. Charlotte has some good news though: she found half a bottle of expired vinaigrette in the back of her mum’s fridge, and a rep has been in touch and is sending her a gift basket. They’re hers though, and she’s not sharing (I already asked). You can read her story here.
Charlotte also writes The Boil Up, a weekly food newsletter. It’s excellent, and this week’s edition is full of great takeaway recommendations. Read it and sign up here.
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Secret cameras, hidden boxes, small fans and lots of tan. According to Alex Casey and Sam Brooks, who both visited the Dancing with the Stars studio this week, there’s plenty audiences don’t get to see behind the scenes of the reality TV show. “Nothing could prepare me for just how tanned and sparkly the stars, hosts, dancers and judges were in the flesh,” says Alex. “When Camilla walked out, my eyes retracted into my head like a snail. Her dress was covered in diamantes, her skin was luminous and her headband twinkled like the night sky.” For Sam, the best bit was watching dancers fill in time before they hit the floor. “They might hug, look each other in the eye, or if you’re Brodie Kane, wave at friends and family.” Find out more here.
On TVNZ’s new dating show The Ex Best Thing, ex-partners choose each other new lovers. What could possibly go wrong? Tara Ward finds out.
Everything else we loved this week…
Margaret Atwood says she stopped writing The Handmaid’s Tale several times because it seemed too “far-fetched”. Now, in an essay for The Atlantic, she admits it all feels far too real.
Disney’s first slate of Australasian programming is great for Australia, but woefully lacking in content from Aotearoa. Duncan Greive explains.
Jezebel pays tribute to the victims of the Buffalo shooting, including a substitute teacher, a breast cancer survivor, a deacon and a man picking up a birthday cake for his son.
In bleak but necessary news, experts say the the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic will still be felt five years from now. Naomii Seah takes a look.
A weird, wonky email from the head of Playstation about American’s abortion issue instead spent many sentences discussing pet cats and dogs. Kotaku explains.
This long-read from Rolling Stone (paywalled) alleges drummer Taylor Hawkins was not happy about the Foo Fighters’ punishing tour schedule and had raised concerns before his death.
What is a gravel maggot? And why is this one called Smeagol? Alex Casey investigates.
Finally, a new season of Scratched, The Spinoff’s documentary series about lost Aotearoa sporting legends like triathlete Erin Baker and woodchopper Sheree Taylor, is out and I thoroughly recommend you spend some time with them…
That’s all from The Spinoff Weekend. Don’t forget to follow our live updates to see what’s happening in the Australian election this weekend. See you same time next Saturday!