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Archive for February, 2006

Sucker punch

I have to post something, because I do not want to see the SA Blog Awards logo from the previous post. Every time I visit the page, it seems to jump out at me from the monitor and shouts, “Boo!”. Unnerving…
Someone told me a yawner today. A yawner is what I call a joke that has a good storyline, that reasonably holds your interest, but when you hear the punch-line, it is like a sucker punch. All you really want to do is roll-over and play dead, much like Fido does, only in a more dramatic fashion. Now that would be really funny.
Is it ok not to laugh when someone tells you a really crappy joke? Or is it less ok, to dig in deep and muster up all the courage you have left, fake a boisterous laugh and say something like, “Oh, man that was good” ?
My colleague, Deon, (I call him Spyker) is really not a very good joke-teller. I hadn’t really given it much thought, until this morning, when obviously in awe of the fact that it is Friday, he tried to brighten up my morning by telling me a joke he heard on the radio. He was ok at telling the story, but it when it came to delivering the punch-line, he was a disaster. I kept wondering why he did not leave the joke for when we have a drink after work… at least the alcohol would numb the pain.
He kept trying to explain the punch-line to me by saying, “Well, the point of the story is… “ I did not have the heart to tell him that one should never try to explain the punch-line. A good punch-line needs a good build-up, and when you get that right, you’ve got a winner.
So In honour of people who tell crappy jokes, here are my three favourite punch-lines:

  • Everybody knows she’s 30, so why are there only 25 of us here?
  • Hurry — it’s depreciating rapidly.
  • Moooooooo!

Alright, I’m done here. Yeah, I crack me up too. Really I do. Now, what was the joke again?

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Awards Season!

Voting opened yesterday in the 2nd Annual SA Blog Awards.
All of my favourites have been nominated; Somenoone, Ekapa, Terri’s Web Stuff, Tenmiles, Aquila online, Reluctant Nomad, Kyknoord, IITQ, Gabbahead, Gosu, Big Ric, Jo’blog, Splattermail, and many, many more. I urge you all (bloggers and visitors, alike) to take part and cast your votes in this prestigious event. It is all in the spirit of generating healthy competition amongst South African bloggers.
You can vote every day, for all of your favourites, until voting closes at midnight on 3 March 2006. Democracy at its finest!
Oh, and the Chitster has been nominated too. Apparently, there are a few people out there, who believe that I am funny and that my writing is worth shit.
So mosey on over there, and vote! Pronto!
Ok, I am about to have a kanipshin fit, so let me leave you in peace.
As you were, soldiers!

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It has been a year since ChittyChittyBangBang (not the car!) first appeared on the blog scene and commenced with riding The Slipstream. 208 posts later, and he is still nowhere close to being any good at it.
He started out rather tentatively (and lamely?) when he announced to the world on 22 February 2005, that he had just bought his first Apple iPod. Ground-breaking news that had his tally of zero visitors gasping for breath… or perhaps NOT. More likely that it was a collective YAWN. Yep, our man was not off to a smooth start and it seemed he may have encountered some turbulence early on. He followed this up with more loose snippets and finally on 25 February 2005, posted something worth reading, mourning the death of a childhood friend. He also raved about stupidity, which as it later transpired, is something he is seemingly quite familiar with.
March was rather uneventful, but he managed to discover Flickr and added Haloscan comments to his blog site. Is our boy ambitious or what? Yeah, he actually anticipated that someone may one day want to leave a comment on his blog. And so they did. The very first comments he received was from a young Filipino girl and… the inimitable Michelle, in a post that showed us just how proud he is to be a South African.
It also become abundantly clear that he does not like people talking to him in supermarket queues, preferring to sip vodka Martinis instead.
In April, feeling much like the autumn weather in his native country, we saw his humanitarian side emerging as he shared with us the compassion he has for his fellow man and his apparent has gift for embarrassing himself in public. Yeah, some people will do anything to get a little attention. And to prove to us that he seemingly keeps up with current events, he blogged about the Da Vinci code and his respect for an insignificant man by the name of Tony Robins.
May saw Chitty going into overdrive with a post on the one and only, Oprah. We also discovered that he is a compulsive liar, and deeply religious. He has an irrational childhood fear of dead people, likes to flirt and has a calm, yet steadfast demeanour in the workplace. We got to meet his nephew, Keenan, in the first of many posts. At this stage, I only have two words for you… child welfare.
In June, he blogged the love has for cold weather, the office bimbo and he pondered the link that may exist between masturbation and bad eyesight. Uh yeah… riveting stuff. Our man also got tagged for the very first time, and he told us a few about himself that would have been better left unsaid.
July was a bit of a mixed bag with further posts about the nephew (again), another irrational childhood fear of escalators and lifts, and the joys of parenthood. We also got to know that Chitty actually has a girlfriend, yeah women actually like the guy, and that he does have a backbone.
In August, we learnt that he can keep a secret, even when under immense pressure from UK and Ireland. We learnt that he may have been a merman in a former life and that he is under the impression that he can walk through glass. We also discovered that he is into theme parties and that he is thrilled to be a man. Chitty also has a hidden talent; he could quit his day-job and become a gossip columnist.
September, the month of his birth, saw him battling with insomnia; contemplate his life and career, and breaking traffic rules. The guy is like ping-pong ball at a Chinese recreation centre… all over the place. He tried to give us a glimpse of his more manly side by flirting with a waitress, shooting paintball and chatting up airline stewardesses. Our man chitty is also an absolute whiz in the boardroom and has an overactive imagination.
In October, he taught us all about the apparent art of burning bridges and how not to fix a household appliance. In a surprise post, we learnt that our man also has a heart of glass and he also blogged about his dependence on woman. Yep, he truly is a man’s man. Although I think he may have stepped through the looking glass when he disclosed 20 random things about himself.
November saw him contemplating the plight of the homeless and in a yet unprecedented act of patriotism, he bled for his country. He was tagged once again and it also became clear that he has not quite mastered the art of speaking on the telephone.
During December, we learnt that he hates shopping for gifts and that he may have unwittingly flirted with homosexuality. Yikes!
January saw him terrorising a woman at his local supermarket and we got to meet another member of his family, his dad.
For some unbeknownst reason our man actually feels that he should actually respond when his girlfriend talks to him and that he can be a surrogate father to his nephew. A compulsion, which I suspect, may yet lead to the downfall our clumsy hero!

Yep, it has been quite a year for our friend, ChittyChittyBangBang. He mellowed out duing the course of the year and the anger and profanities that used to litter his earlier posts, have all but disappeared. Now, if only, we can get him to cut the crap and really start blogging.

HAPPY BLOG ANNIVERSARY!!

[My haloscan account archives all comments after a period of ninety days. Don’t be alarmed when you re-visite some of the posts and find that your comments have disappeared. They have not been deleted]

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How does one say good-bye in cyberspace?
In the past few weeks I have noticed that a number of my favourite South African (and international) blogs have simply disappeared. In truth, I only noticed this when I started trawling the web for nominations for The 2nd South African Blog Awards. The blogs did not exactly disappear, but the bloggers have either stopped writing or post intermittently and infrequently.
Now I am sure the bloggers in question have perfectly good reasons for not blogging anymore. With The Slipsteam nearing its one year anniversary, I have thought about whether I want to continue with this blog for another year. It is not that I have nothing more to say or that I have run out of embarrassing anecdotes to share. I do. Yet, for all the good bloggging has done for me and the many online friends I have made, one cannot be expected to blog indefinitely, can we?
However, this begs the question, when blogging comes to an end, how exactly does one go about doing it? Will a simple farewell post do, and is there an obligation to say goodbye? Should one let the blog and it archives remain to gather electronic dust like a long forgotten book on a shelf or simpley delete it all? Will the web eventualy become a graveyard of abandoned and forgotten blogs?
Every blog has a regular circle of visitors and “commentators(?)”, and as time goes by, friendships are forged and we come to expect the presence of certain people on our blogs. If not for anyone else, do we owe them a reason, a good-bye, perhaps a farewell e-mail? There really are no protocols to be followed, or a right and a wrong way of doing it. In fact, there is no obligation to do anything at all.
In the absence of actual physical contact, online friendships are easily severed, and we can distance ourselves from those we have not seen. There really is no obligation to continue with the “friendship” beyond the blogosphere. It has become as easy as pulling the plug or hitting the ever-popular delete key.
Perhaps I am just overly sentimental, and perhaps I am making more of this than is necessary.
Blogs are abandoned and deleted all the time… it is the nature of things in cybespace.
I think I’ll be around for while yet. While the party is still in full swing, I don’t fancy standing outside and looking in through the window.

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Ice creamMy regular post for today vanished! POOF! I hit the publish post button and the entire post went to the netherworld. The recover post function could not get it back, and now I have nothing.
You’ve got to love technology… always full of surprises.
I’m too lazy to shift back into a serious mood, so I’ll fill the void with another one of my chitty-isms.
When I was studying at University, I worked at an ice-cream deli/parlour in the southern suburbs of Cape Town
It was not exactly a glamorous job, but it was close to home and the extra money helped to fill the gaps. The clientele consisted mostly of suburban Moms & Dads and their snotty offspring, foul-mouthed teenagers, students and the lovesick adolescent couples.
Depending on the staff rotation, I would either work the “restaurant” floor or the take away (out?) section. Since I was a “varsity” student, I also got to man the till (register). The responsibility was almost too much for me to handle… hehe.
On this particular afternoon, I was manning the take-away section, dishing up soft-serves and ice-cream cones with various toppings to ungrateful teenage girls and their equally snotty high school boyfriends. Saturdays were particularly busy days. My feet ached, I was tired and the mere sight of an ice-cream cone was enough to send me into a coma. There is no joy in a customer service job and don’t let anyone make you believe there is. Fake smiles, fake thank you’s and fake perkiness. The perfect job!
At around 5pm that afternoon, a girl with wavy dark hair and green eyes walked in. Pretty. A hippy-chick. I had seen her around, maybe once or twice. I reckon she was perhaps a year or two years older than I was. She had an air of self-assuredness about her that made her seem very exotic. She walked over to me and proceeded to look at the menu card that lay on the counter in front of me.
I made eye-contact and asked with all the perkiness I could muster said to her, “Can I help you, miss?”
She looked up at me and said, “Yes, can I have a large vanilla with caramel topping, please?”
Oh boy, I thought, yet another one of those customers who wants what is not on the menu. People like this made me want to swallow a Cadbury’s Flake, and choke on it.
I explained to her that we do not serve ice-cream by size. She could have one, two or three scoops, etc. If that was not ok, she could take a cup of ice-cream or even a tub depending on how large she wanted it to be. She interrupted me while I was talking, and asked me how tall I was. Huh?
“5ft11 give or take…”, I said, with a puzzled with a look on my face.
She looked me straight in the eye, smiled and said “Funny thing, that is exactly the scoop-size I had in mind”
“We don’t serve… vanilla in 5…”, I said. (That’s when the penny dropped)
My mouth went dry and I blushed.
“I’m sorry, but I think we are all out of vanilla”, I finally managed to say.
“Pity”, she said, “I hear it goes well with strawberry”
And with a coy smile she turned around and left.
Those were the days. I have to go back to Cape Town! (Quick aside: You think perhaps she listened to one too many sixties songs?)

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I lost out to the girlfriend again last night… well, perhaps not entirely, but to some degree I think I did. Here’s how it went down…

SHE: Do you believe that a man and a woman can ever be “just friends?”
[Almost immediately the “proceed-with-extreme-caution” alarm in my head went off and I eyed her with suspicion. This was a loaded question and the barrel was pointed at my head]
ME: Uh… you have to give me more details. In what context are you asking the question and are you referring to a person or a situation in particular?
SHE (laughing): No specific context or reference to anyone in particular. I am just asking in general. This is something that has been bugging me for a while and I just want your perspective on it.
ME (putting on my game face): Well, in that case… I suppose that theoretically and under a specific set of circumstances, a platonic relationship can exist. But generally speaking, and in my opinion, I do not believe it can happen.
SHE: Why do you say that?
ME: Well, platonic love by definition excludes any form of physical attraction or sexual interest, however remote it may be. And speaking as a man, if there is a slightest chance of physical interest or sexual interest, we are basically incapable of just being friends with someone of the opposite sex. We can be friends, but not “just friends”.
SHE: I don’t follow what you mean.
ME: I believe that men fundamentally develop friendships with the opposite sex when there is an element of attraction present, and in most cases, the attraction is physical.
SHE: So you are saying, that for a man friendship goes hand in hand with a degree of attraction. Even if he admires her for intellect or ability, it could manifest itself sexually or physically on some level and that with the attraction being there, a purely platonic friendship is not possible? Interesting point…
ME: It is not quite as simple as that. If a platonic relationship is all that we could ever hope to have with a person, like a relative and where a disability or circumstances prohibit us from pursuing anything further than a platonic relationship, then I suppose it is possible.
SHE: But when there are none of these present, a man would chance on taking the friendship to another level, whether it is a friend, the boss’s wife or the girl working in the next office?
ME: Now you are just making it sound cheap & dirty. Say for instance one does not act on the physical attraction, but we fantasise or have, let’s say improper thoughts about another person, then surely the relationship is for all practical reasons no longer platonic?
SHE: In other words, only if the thought of touching someone fills you with repulsion, or makes your skin crawl, yet you share a special bond with that person, then this is the only time this affinity can be deemed platonic. And we all know in real life these cannot feelings cannot exist side by side.
ME: In essence, yes. I wouldn’t go as far as saying repulsion, but you basically have to feel almost nothing. Even in a so-called platonic relationship there is a degree of hidden sexual attraction. Remember we are speaking in general terms and even if you are best friends with someone, can you deny that they are of the opposite sex and that there are some physical aspects in them that you find appealing?
SHE: Yeah I get it. Pure platonic love can only exist in the complete absence of an attraction… provided it is platonic on both sides?
ME: Being “just friends” may be a contradiction in terms. There may be an attraction or even sexual tension with a person whom we regard as just a friend. In many cases, the tension and playful flirting is the fuel the drives the friendship.

At this point, her sister came to visit and we ended the conversation. I was more than a little relieved at the interruption. She has cleverly (cunningly?) managed to steer the conversation away from providing me with a woman’s perspective on the subject.
I think I lost the “debate” when I stated men are incapable of having a platonic relationship. All of the rest was just the gf baiting me while I backtracked and attempted to regain some self-respect on behalf of the male species. She had given me enough rope to hang myself with, and I was doing a splendid job of it, while she planned to move in for the kill at the appropriate moment. (Am I a little paranoid?)
All I have to do is to find a way of preventing the subject from ever coming up. And if it ever comes up, I’m letting her do the talking.
Nevertheless, I have to admit that it was quite an intense topic of discussion. I wonder what other people think… can a man and a woman have a pure platonic relationship completely devoid of any physical attraction and when do we cross that imaginary boundary?

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The week that was

So what have I been doing the past week?
Well.
I wish I could say I spent the week in a posh hotel while soaking up the sun on a tropical beach. Unfortunately, I am not that blessed.
Every so often, I am exposed to the ugly side of my job. Either through my colleagues, my own stupidity or through demanding clients who consider the making of unreasonable and selfish demands an exclusive privilege. Yep, the dark side of humanity occasionally reveals itself in an unflattering light.
Behaviours that are best suited for the sandpit at the playground are exhibited among responsible adults in positions of power.
I spent the whole of last week reworking a number of proposals that were rejected by a client a few days before the deadline. I can excuse myself by stating that the late rejection was completely inappropriate since the client was kept fully abreast of what was happening, and had agreed to the creative approach and strategy in advance. It does however seem that someone saw this project as an opportunity to make a name for themselves. In the process of doing so, vital communication was not shared and decisions were made with complete disregard for the chain of command.
Needless to say, there was a lot of screaming and yelling, back and forth accusations, passing the buck and threats. Don’t the threats just beat all?
All of which culminated in me spending many hours at the office and not getting much sleep for three nights in a row. Two of the three nights in question were actually spent sleeping at the office. I know every nook and cranny of the office in much the same way as a death-row inmate would know his prison cell.
Have you ever tried to sleep or fallen asleep in an office chair? Manufacturers may boast about how ergonomical and comfortable they are, but they certainly aren’t meant to be slept in. It may take many visits to the chiropractor to realign my spine and the outline of a paperclip may permanently be etched into my right cheek.
I will know the outcome of all my hard work later today when the client comes back with a final decision. Whatever the outcome may be, I know I did the best I could under the circumstances. I do not have the stomach to play political games nor do I have the energy to resort to prima donna-like antics.
Whilst the ugly side of work is expected to rear its head at times, I have made my choices long ago. I chose not to give it voice or credence in my life.
Now can somebody tell me how I can regain all those hours of personal time? I am leaning towards time travel, my time machine is at the garage having a new gyroscope fitted.

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