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Showing posts from March, 2006

V For Vendetta

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V for Very Rare- the first really good, thought provoking blockbuster of the year. Don’t be put off by the trailer which makes this film look like yet another post-apocalyptic man-against-the-regime turkey like Equilibrium and Aeon Flux.



The film offers a stylised take on a very relevant, contemporary issue; namely what happens you sacrifice your freedoms for a sense of safety, and turn your back on injustice. It’s about what happens when ‘Different’ becomes a euphemism for ‘Terrorist’.

It’s a film that is relevant to South Africans in terms of our past, and a film that is relevant to the world today in terms of the direction we seem to be heading- discouraging questioning of authority, bio-terrorism paranoia stoked by the media, hatred of Muslims and the rights-stripping of gays. In fact, a particularly moving story within the story - which in fact motivates masked hero V (Hugo Weaving) and Evie (Natalie Portman) beyond their fear – is focused on a lesbian destroyed for staying true …

Pay Day

Well, it’s Wednesday morning and I haven’t updated my blog yet this week.

The big news is that I am now a fulltime employee of the advertising agency where I’ve been since 20 Feb. They came to me today with my contract and offered me twice what I was earning at EvilCorp. And here I was thinking I was going to have to draw on some sophisticated negotiation skills and enter a complicated compromise to achieve my wants.

So ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to announce that after all my green-faced whining, it is possible, in Durban nog al, for creatives to earn a salary of degreed IT Networking / Programmer proportions. It was very hard hearing the figure and not then promptly burst out laughing. I think I may have lifted my eyebrows and gasped ‘Oh’, if I said anything at all.

So, anyway, it looks like it’ll be a bit easier to pay off my car and save for my overseas holiday. Although, tax deductions really hurt! There goes a healthy chunk of salary to fund the Dubai shopping expeditions of o…

The Coca-Cola Colab Concert

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Given the drama of the Coca-Cola Colab Massive Mix concert in Pretoria (hours-long queues for toilets, drink and food shortages, malfunctioning screens and power), I’m happy to report that the Durban concert was problem free.



Just to be safe, Paul and I went into the Absa stadium at 11:30am with a litre of water smuggled in our backpack, and some sweets. Security didn’t even open the backpack. We could have brought in racks of ribs if we wanted.

Anyway, there were cooldrink vendors wandering the field and stands. Beer was readily available. A Cool Down misting tent was set up at the back of the field. Golden Circle was regularly sprayed with hosepipes, or the bands on stage splashed them with their water bottles.

Food may have been a bit of a problem towards the end of the evening, though with a little wandering we didn’t have any problems. The Sausage Factory stall right by us ran out of rolls, so all you could get were the sausages on their own. Later on though, I saw people eating hot…

Girlz 'N' Games #17

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Part 1 of 2:

The Long Weekend: Friday through Monday

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I think Tuesday’s massive Coca Cola Colab Concert in Durban deserves its own blog entry, so I’ll do just that. But I have just had a 4 day weekend (we had Monday off because the office was being fumigated), so there is more than enough to cover.

Friday evening:

The evening didn’t start off the best when I arrived home to find a mailed reminder that I needed to get a new drivers licence… a reminder that arrived a month and a half late. What a clever little money making scam. A driver’s licence is not something that you regularly check. At least with a car licence you know it’s an annual thing.

So I went off to Lara’s St Patrick’s Day party fuming, and worried, about fines for being late with my renewal. I cheered up as the evening progressed. Bronwyn and John wee there and it was good catching up with them before they head off to the Netherlands at the end of March for 4 or so years.

With all the chatting, what was planned as an early night for Paul and myself ended up being much longer.…

What a way to start Thursday

Not even 3 minutes after leaving my front gate, I was in a car accident. As I was feeding on to the man road near my house, pulling into the little feeding-on strip when I was pranged from behind by a young guy doing the same thing but too busy watching traffic to notice that I had stopped and was waiting to feed on.

Fortunately the damage isn’t too bad. It’s just a dent next to the number plate. The driver smashed his indicator. And fortunately he lives just down the road from me, and has insurance, so everything should be covered from his side.

Still, my adrenalin was pounding. It’s my first ever accident with another car. I’ve pranged a few stationary objects but never caused any damage (Thank God for plastic bumpers).

It’s just frustrating that we now have to go through all the procedure. And at a time when I’m considering changing my car insurance company. I’ll be heading after work to the police station today to report the accident.

My other early morning annoyance was arriving at…

Syriana

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As a last minute decision, Paul and I went to see Syriana last night, starring George Clooney (Oscar winning in his role as a middle-aged, overweight CIA operative who starts picking through US government lies) and Matt Damon. Essentially the film is to oil issues in the Middle East what Traffic was to drugs. The film is even written and directed by Stephen Gaghan, Traffic’s Academy Award winning screenwriter. So there’s a lot of cutting between events in different countries, a lot of multiple storylines, desaturated lighting, and hand-held camera work.

I’m not sure the film is as good as Traffic, but that might just be because the issue of oil does involve a lot more powerful political wrangling which makes sections of the film more slow moving and corruption-in-boardrooms focused.

Syriana certainly makes you think, which not a lot of films on circuit at the moment do. It’s kind of what Fahrenheit 9/11 began to touch on in its second half, but here the examination of destructive greed …

Camping in the Berg

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Paul and I spent this last weekend in the Berg. We both needed a break and we thought we better do it now before A) the Easter high season kicks in and B) while it is still Summerish and green in the mountains.

So, taking a half-day on Friday, we headed up to the Mahai campsite at Royal Natal, in the Northern Drakensberg. For the record, Royal Natal is closest to the awe-inspiring Amphitheatre range of mountains, as you will see in some of the included pics.





Now I don’t come from a camping tradition. My family is more likely to enjoy a self-catering break down the coast where we just sit on the beach for a week. But camping at Mahai, I can handle. For one thing, going with Paul means super-organisation. Even though we don’t use the electrical camping sites, Kadac gas canisters mean we can cook without a braai, and have bright light in the evenings. More importantly, Mahai campsite has 2 major sells for me: Well-kept ablutions and access to permanently boiling water. A hot shower and a w…

Casanova

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Paul and I are off to the Berg for a weekend at the Royal Natal / Mahai campsite. As a result, I’m having a half day (this company is very accommodating of things like that) so I’ll be out of here today by 12:30 at the latest.

Anyway, I saw Casanova (starring Heath Ledger and Sienna Miller) on Tuesday evening, only succeeding in dragging Paul with when I promised to pay for his ticket, as well as his popcorn and Coke.



It turns out the film was a bit of a dud. Visually, it’s very beautiful, and it certainly goes a long way towards making people want to visit Venice. But the entire film plays out like a very mediocre, very silly Shakespearean comedy- There’s cross-dressing, masked disguises, mistaken and stolen identities, arranged marriages, underdeveloped characters exchanging clich├ęd banter about society’s gender roles, sword-fighting, a lot of general physical clumsiness, and the inevitable happy ending.

From the outset you can see which couples will end up together. And Jeremy Irons, …

Oscar Watching

I was watching the Academy Awards on Monday evening. Given the time difference between SA and the United States, it’s a choice between getting up at 2:30 to watch the show live, or waiting until MNET rebroadcasts it at 7pm on Monday.

You may ask why watch when you’ve known the winners for hours already, but knowing a few names is not the same as actually watching the event. Pity there is no one in real life outside of my family for me to share my enthusiasm with- so it was just a case of running to my sister in the other room and remarking ‘That gay cowboy montage was very clever’, ‘The best song winner is utter shit’, ‘Lilly Tomlin and Meryl Streep together onstage’ ‘Charlize is a South African American?’ ‘Screw CGI. Look at how stop motion dominated the Best Animated Film category this year’ and ‘Did you see Ben Stiller presenting in his green unitard? Hilarious’.

South Africa is a bit behind this year in terms of showing the ‘serious’ Oscar nominated films. Crash has come and gone. A…

The Weekend

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On Friday evening, Paul and I joined Warren and Kate for movies at the Pavilion. There is very little male-friendly material showing at cinemas at the moment. Paul has flat-out refused to see Pride and Prejudice, Brokeback Mountain or Casanova. I’m going to have to see the first 2 with my mother, and Ash says she is organising an outing for the third flick.

Anyway, given our limited movie choice, we ended up seeing The Matador, starring Pierce Brosnan, Greg Kinnear and indie-darling Hope Davis. The film is one of those quirky independently made comedy-dramas, which I normally have an allergic reaction towards. Fortunately The Matador didn’t turn out to be a total turkey, but the tale of a burned out assassin who forces himself on a quiet businessman does lag at times. The film isn’t particularly memorable. This said, Pierce Brosnan is excellent. It’s interesting to see him acting for a change as opposed to pulling the suave Bond routine.



On Saturday morning Paul and I were at the Pavili…

Diane's 21st- Pics finally!

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Finally I got hold of the pictures off Paul's camera...(I haven't seen my sister's set yet).

A few weekends ago Paul and I went to the 21st party of Diane, Mark's sister. It was a dress-up evening, where you had to come as something 'D'. See if you can work out who is what.

Me and Paul:


G, Shirley and birthday girl, Diane:


Mark:

Calvin and Hobbes

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Growing up, I was always a devoted Garfield fan. Calvin & Hobbes largely went over my head and I didn't enjoy the philosophising. But recently Paul (a big C&H fan) bought 3 of the most recent collections, and I've been enjoying the strip. Although, I can't really say the same for Bill Watterson's insightful but frequently heavy handed commentary on pop culture- views usually voiced by Calvin's father.

I think I'm probably more of the Susie Derkins type, but there are a few strips where I find myself totally identifying with Calvin. Here's one.

Superman sketch

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Well, the face is admittedly one of my generic male's, and I wasn't quite able to get the effect I was after with the motion blur (is it possible to apply it like a gradient where it gets increasingly blurred towards one end?).

But I quite like the muscle work, particularly on the legs. And it was fun to work in Superman's great primary colours.

Double Edged Swords

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It’s the first of March today, municipal elections are on the go and most of South Africa is enjoying the sunny, beach-perfect public holiday. I’m at work.

As I was told only yesterday while I was at lunch, the company has decided to work today so that they can be closed on Monday 20 March, the day before Human Rights Day. That of course gives us a 4 day weekend.

Of course it’s a double edged sword. I know I’m going to enjoy the 20 March off, but hearing about it yesterday was disheartening, especially when you’ve already geared yourself up mentally to survive the week with the belief that you have a much-needed break. Plus, my mood wasn’t helped when I went out to my car yesterday afternoon and discovered that 2 big tree branches had landed on the bonnet, scratching / scuffing it. Fortunately it wasn’t dented. Useless Morningside trees- if they aren’t housing pigeons with irritable bowel syndrome, they’re falling apart at the slightest breeze.

At least I got to sleep in an extra half …

March (& Feb) GEAR gaming columns

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Hey, it's the first of March today so I thought I'd put up the coluumn that is appearing in the March issue of GEAR (this doesn't of course mean that you now don't have to buy the magazine to experience my mind-numbing brilliant commentary). Still, here is what I think is one of my best columns, followed by the one that appeared in the February GEAR.

Also, as a side note, GEAR is going to be a solo mag as of April, appearing at retailers in an A4 format, with a DVD of goodies, and priced at R32. Please buy it (if only to support moi). Intelligence Publishing is not adverse to pulling the plug on magazines that don't do well- like my beloved Total Movie *sniff*.



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Child’s Play

Probably the most dangerous thinking about gaming is that it is an activity solely for children. Disappointingly, this seems to be the view that dominates South African society, as well as large, influential portions of the international community.

Recently, a respected South African newspaper h…