What’s in a name?

So the US property market is in big doo-doo. I’m no economist, but after watching a few news reports, I’m getting the general message that the American economy has tanked, home owners can’t make their payments, mortgages are being forfeited and the companies that gaily gave credit to every shmo who came along are now going belly up.

That much is old news. But now two companies who collectively own or guarantee about half of all the home loans in America (totaling $5.4 TRILLION) are effectively bankrupt. That’s a very big problem for the American economy and the government has had to step in and use tax payers’ money to keep the two companies afloat. The cost is estimated in the hundreds of billions. And you think we’ve got problems with Eskom? Continue reading “What’s in a name?”

Geek like me

I’ve been going through a bad patch, authorially speaking. I just haven’t been able to write. I’ve completely blown the deadlines for my next two travel books (on Lesotho and Swaziland – plug, plug) and I am still struggling to get my arse into my computer chair on a regular basis. I think I’m a bit burnt out from a couple of months of frantic activity, which was way too much like hard work for my liking. The upshot of all this, basically, is that I’ve been watching a lot of TV lately.

Now I don’t proclaim myself to be a fan of reality TV, but the rigours of my procrastination schedule are such that I am often forced to watch the most pitiful drivel. And I’ve got a new favourite. Continue reading “Geek like me”

Farewell Movie Trailer Guy

Sad news. The man whose voice launched a 1000 movie trailers has died. You know the guy. He was a man…who spoke…two words…at a time. Yes, him. His name was Don LaFontaine and he provided the voice-overs for more than 5000 movie trailers.

5000! Bloody hell. That’s a lot of movies. This guy practically defined the Hollywood movie trailer format for much of his 33 year career. He did them all: “In a world where…”, “He was a man who…” and my personal favourite, “In a time of…”. You thought all those trailers sounded the same. Well, now you know, it actually was all one guy. Continue reading “Farewell Movie Trailer Guy”

Send in the Clowns

I love clowns. They are part of ancient tradition in entertainment that makes us look at ourselves and laugh, thus throwing our true nature into stark but non-threatening relief. In many repressive societies, clowns are the only ones who can question authority with impunity or provoke independent thought without fear of censure; such is the power of humour. Even Shakespeare regularly used the character of the clown, fool or jester in his tragedies to draw out various themes and to provide some much needed comic interludes.

But quite apart from their historical and metaphysical function, a clown’s purpose is to make us laugh. And that’s why I love Julius Malema and Jon Qwelane. Those guys are hysterical! Continue reading “Send in the Clowns”

Doh! A Deer

I’ve never been that into video games. I had an Atari growing up – which gives away my age – but I’ve always preferred reading or watching movies to playing games on a console. So, Playstations and Xboxes hold little interest for me (although I must confess to a certain fascination for the movement-sensitive technology that lets you Wii in the middle of your living room).

In any case, computer gaming has never been a passion. Accordingly, I don’t have a strong opinion about the relative evils that some have said are caused by the use and abuse of these often violent games. But all that changed when I came across a particularly reprehensible game in a video arcade that made my blood run cold. Continue reading “Doh! A Deer”

African Queens

Interesting story: the Valoyi clan, who live near Tzaneen, has just got its first female chief. Now, while that’s all rather nice, it’s hardly ground breaking. This kind of thing has been going on in southern Africa for hundreds of years; the most famous female chiefs being the Modjadji dynasty who (until recently) ruled over the Lobedu of Limpopo. So, while it’s unusual to have a female chief, it’s not that interesting. What really caught my eye, however, was the manner in which she got appointed. Continue reading “African Queens”

Mamma Mia! Here it goes again…

It was a scene to thrill the heart of Dancing Queens all over the world. After decades of no-speaksies, the four members of spangled Swedish supergroup, ABBA, have appeared in public together for the first time in more than 20 years.

Oh joy! Oh bliss! Oh Fernando! It’s more than any of us could have wished for; the four ABBA-maniacs, full of their old ABBAloney, smiling at the cameras and waving regally at the adoring throngs. Thank you for the music, you glorious quartet of Scandinavian songbirds! What a bunch of Supa-pa Troupa-pa’s. Continue reading “Mamma Mia! Here it goes again…”

Busy Busy Busy

All right, I admit it. I’ve been a bad blogger. I’m not worthy of the newly-minted name ‘citizen journalist’, so beloved by the likes of Ariella Huffington. In fact, if I had an editor, he/she would be kicking my arse. But, you see, the thing is, I’ve been really, really busy.

No, honestly. I have. Flat out. It’s actually quite weird that right now, when things are going to pieces all over the planet, I’m the busiest I’ve been in my nearly 15 years of freelancing. And it’s not like I was picky in the past. I’ve been trying to sell out for years, but no-one’s been buying. Until now… Continue reading “Busy Busy Busy”

On your marks, get set…

Ag man, it’s all bloody doom and gloom, wherever you look. Rates are up and the rand is down. Fuel, food, foreigners; it’s all a big F-up. And you know what? I’m done. I know I should be concerned, and people are suffering, and the planet’s about to destroy itself. But I can’t take it anymore. I’ve become numb. I’ve switched off.

It’s a purely defensive mechanism, I assure you. I’m normally an involved, concerned and committed citizen of SA and the global community, but there’s only so much bad news you can take before you go mad. And it’s even worse in South Africa. I mean, every time there’s a little crisis, we all put on our running shoes and prepare to leave the country. Continue reading “On your marks, get set…”

The high Prius of living

Oddly enough, I bought a new car last month. By the look of things, I was the only one in the country crazy enough to do so, but my trusty 13-year old Audi was on its last legs and the time had come.

So, what to buy, and where? The second-hand market is in freefall and the numerous car repossession auctions are good places for people with a bit of liquidity to get great deals at the expense of those who have fallen on hard times. Sounds perfect! Why then, oh why, did I go and buy a new car from a dealer? Well, you see, I wanted a Prius. Continue reading “The high Prius of living”

Mbeki’s turning Japanese, I really think so

Once upon a time, I was prepared to give Thabo Mbeki the benefit of the doubt. He was a clearly intelligent man with noble aims to revive Africa and extract the dark continent from the dismissive rhetoric of western, post-colonial discourse. Admittedly, he did this by evoking the quinesstentially European concept of ‘renaissance’ and his speeches were somewhat academic, but the big lug had his heart in the right place. Continue reading “Mbeki’s turning Japanese, I really think so”

Going to hell in a Lohan-basket

Well, whichever way you look at it, it’s been a helluva year so far. Honestly, I haven’t had a chance to catch my breath. In fact, I’ve become a bit of a news junkie. Every afternoon, when I wake up, I dash to my computer and hit the news websites to see what happened in the previous 8 hours, and I’m never disappointed. There’s always something new, something big, to worry about. I kinda knew that news was just entertainment for grown-ups, but lately it’s become a series of cliff-hangers that would shame a soapie. Continue reading “Going to hell in a Lohan-basket”