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Archive for July, 2007

Not looking to buy

Humping Dog(tongue in cheek?) Despite numerous requests, I have thus far resisted the urge to join face-book. It was even harder not to when two very good friends I care deeply about extended an invitation to join. (Sorry guys! I really am)
I have never quite understood the hype around the whole face-book phenomenon. Frankly, I had made a decision earlier not to get sucked into what I felt at the time was nothing more than shameless self-promotion. (yeah I know… I blog!)
Let’s notch it up to my misplaced rebellious/non-conformist streak, so I may just be fooling myself into thinking I am standing up to yet another web-based craze that is sweeping the globe. Sad, isn’t it? I could have been an anti-apartheid activist!
Don’t take this personally. I understand you have self-perceptions to maintain, blogs to promote, resumes to boost, and friends (old and new) to find; it’s just that I’d really feel more comfortable if I do not have to get involved.
If I am your friend, I already support you in ways that you probably don’t deserve. You are constantly plugging yourself to me for some sort of weird self-gratification. I wouldn’t let my closest friends hump my leg to get off (tempting as that may be), so why should you be any different.
That said, it should be noted that there is a large part of me that is just indifferent to your cause. In fact, your desire to win or lose/hook up/chat with all your old high school friends, etc could literally be the last thing I care about.
So, I’m not going to sign up, regardless of how many invitations you send my way. I’ve got much more to worry about. The crisis in Darfur. Global warming. My tendency to self-destruct at least once a year. Winter. Whether or not I should settle down. What if pigs could fly? Etc.
For you see, treasured friends, face–book will change nothing in my life. You won’t be able change anything for the better unless I allow you to. Cynical? You betcha!
You won’t be able to shorten my route to work. You won’t make it a requirement for Fridays to be “wet t-shirt day” at work. Petrol prices will not come down, nor my will the chances of being “assaulted” by a group of FHM models increase. You won’t feed me. You won’t love me. You won’t bring back summer.
So, in the name of all I hold dear, give it a rest.
I’d much rather you pick up the phone, call me on my birthday and send me a real gift (not the virtual kind), hang out and put your head on my shoulder. In return, I’ll let you hump my leg. I’ll even shave it, if it’ll make you happy.
On second thought… you should know me better than that.

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[Beware: non-specific rambling]
Man on the floor I spoke to a friend of mine who lives in Australia earlier this morning. He insisted on doing what he always does when he speaks to me, throwing in veiled barbs about when I am coming to visit, and why I don’t consider working overseas for a couple of years before I am too old to take advantage of the opportunities that are available to me. Bleh…
The truth is I am quite happy where I am and even though the thought of gaining international exposure/work experience does sound appealing, I am just not ready to take on new challenges for now.
“When will you be ready”, he asked.
“I don’t know… but when I am, you will be the first to know”, I said oozing with sarcasm.
For some reason the call upset me (I cursed him and his offspring and all future generations of his family). I had to lie down on my office floor for a while. Thank God the floor is carpeted. I know it is a strange thing to do, even for me, but lying down was more appealing than pacing the floor. I quickly realised two things: I have two many dust bunnies under my desk, and the whiteness of the ceiling reminds me of a mental hospital.
While I was lying there, a colleague walked in.
“What are you doing down there”, he asked.
At first I didn’t respond. True thinkers (not me, per say) never speak. But he persisted, so I said it helps me to gain perspective. I sounded like a pretentious prick.
I thought of telling him that I got electrocuted by my computer, but I feared that he would take me seriously and call one of the first aid officers. That would not be funny. One of them is an overweight sweaty woman and the thought of her touching me would consign me to years of therapy. Mostly I feared I might like it… heheh. [Joke]
“I see”, he said. “Erm… do you mind getting up so that I can talk to you about the latest corporate marketing proposal?”
I actually just wanted him to get the hell out of my face, but instead I said. “Sure. Just gimme me a hand and pull me up”
I extended my hand to him. For some reason he missed grabbing hold of it and poked me in the crotch.
“Sorry”, he said. [Awkward moment]
I know that it was an accident, but it was just the cherry on top of what was already a weird morning for me, so I said, “Why don’t you come back later and we can talk about the strategy at length. I just need to recover from the extreme awfulness of getting felt up by one of my male colleagues”
I realised it was a rude and uncalled for, so I apologised and suggested that he takes a seat.
“It was an accident, you know”, he said as he sat down.
“I know. Don’t mind me, ok. I have a gargoyle on my shoulder and it’s been spitting in my ear for a while.”
“What does that mean?”
“Fucked if I know. I am just making up strange metaphors to shock myself back to reality” [I know… pretentious prick, again]
He shrugs his shoulders and we get down to discussing business.
I’ve just realised I can be unbelievable annoying and strange. If I were other people, I would quite frankly just stay put of my way for the rest of the day. I think I’ll get back on the floor again and bang my head some more. Perhaps play with a game of football with the dust bunnies?

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Measuring tapeIt was pretty much a given that my nephew Keenan would do something during our holiday trip that would embarrass me and put me on the spot.
He‘d been milking the whole “Dad” thing for days. Even though I found it endearing in a funny sort of way, I just knew that he was going to use it at some point to drive me to distraction.
At around the third day of the trip, we were at a local supermarket buying provisions for an overnight stay at one of the many self- catering lodges in the area.
I had planned the trip at short notice and had difficulty finding accommodation that catered for both bed and breakfast. It was no big deal. Cooking up a breakfast before we headed out for the day and was the least of my worries. Self-catering accommodation was relatively cheap in comparison and it pretty much allowed us the freedom to do our own thing. (The cooking classes finally paid off)
So we are in the supermarket (superette), and he is standing in the queue (holding our place in the line) while [S] and I are rummaging around for dairy and meat products. (Bacon, eggs, sausages, milk, tomatoes, mushrooms, fruit juice, corn flakes, etc.)
He is almost at the front of the queue, when he turns around and calls out to me.

He (loudly): Hey, dad?!
Me (I cringe immediately, but decide to play along): Yes, son.
He (clears throat): I am a little short on money. If I throw in a box of condoms, would you mind paying for it?

[Curse the seven gods of the Roman pantheon!]
Everyone I the shop goes silent and looks in my direction. This is rural South Africa. We are not in the city. People out here are conservative and live by different values. I nearly pee’d myself.
I curse under my breath and make mental note to poison his food that night. I also know that the is basically testing me (judging by the large innocent grin on his face) and merely trying to rev me up. I needed to stay calm and answer very carefully.

Me: I don’t know, son. Do you really think that’s necessary?
He (devilish grin): Well, you’ve always told me to be prepared and I just want to make sure I am.
Me: Uh… ok… but I doubt you’ll find anything that will suit your purpose in here.
He: Why not?
Me (matter of fact): Well, last time I checked, they don’t make condoms for the EXTRA SMALL.

A few people, including the cashier behind the till, started giggling. Keenan’s face was the colour of an overcooked lobster. He was beat. If he tried to argue the point by saying that he is not small, he would only come across as being defensive.
I felt sorry for him, but when you open the door you should expect that a truck to come driving trough it.
[S] dumped whatever groceries she had on her into my arms and left the shop. “You two are going to be the death of me yet”, she said as she walked outside. I knew she was dying to laugh out loud.
I may have won this round, but I knew he was not going to rest until he gets his revenge.

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Behind the maskHave you noticed how people always hang out in groups? You see them at the malls, in restaurants, at movies and even at work. They herd together like cattle and they all look like deer caught in the headlights.
It makes me wonder how many of the people you hang out with are really your friends, and how many of them are just people you spend time with because you have nothing better to do. How genuine is the laughter and how good is the good time really?
I must admit I am guilty of the same. I currently have more “friends” than I can handle. The strangest thing is… there are a some of my newfound “friends” that I can hardly stand. (Don’t remind me, I know it is makes me a hypocrite).
If I were to run into some of them on the street, I would hardly know what to say to them other than talking about the other friends we have in common.
I find that the only friends I am really comfortable with are the ones I grew up with. The one’s who were there through my formative years, who saw me at my worst/stupidest, and also at my most brilliant, and who can laugh with me at the things I did back as a teenager, a university freshman or even later on in life. The rest are just acquaintances. People I have met along the way and who fill a gap, whether it be real or imaginary.
I also find that I tend to like or dislike people almost immediately after I meet them. Many times I am wrong in my initial assessment, but most times I am not. But because they are a friend of someone I am really close with, I will bite the bullet and pretend that I like them too.
My buddy Brad and I have been mates for as long as we can walk. Sure we have gone our “not-so-separate” ways over the years, but I could always rely on him to be there for me when I need him. We have learned to look beyond the obvious frivolities of friendship and focus on what lies deep beneath the surface.
Lately though I find that we have grown apart and spend less time together than we used to. Where as before I would literally just “rock up” at his place or he at mine, we find ourselves making appointments to see one another. What the fuck is up with that?
Have we just outgrown one another, and if that is so, how do we sustain the new level of friendship we have? Surely we cannot rely on our past history to carry us through, and if we do, are we just flogging a dead horse?
Priorities change, people change…. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall, etc. Life goes on and shit happens when you least expect it. A part of me wants to cling onto the past, but I know that it is going to become increasingly difficult to do so.
I don’t have the energy to make new best mates (Is the whole concept of best mates juvenile?), or to start up that whole process of exposing myself to others. Words can only do so much. It is the memories we share and the experiences we had, many of whom are totally random and completely off the chart in terms of rationale and absurdity, that bind us to the people we love.
When you have had so many things happen in your life that they either hold you down or kick you to the curb, it is hard to put your trust in new people, and even more difficult to trust in yourself. It’s not rocket science. It’s a need for self preservation, and that is the truth.
It is a scary thought, and as outgoing and extroverted as I am, I’m just not up to dealing just yet.
I bet by know you are rolling your eyes… heheh.

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CollisionIt does not happen every day that you feel the need to (or even want to) use the punchline from a lame, politically incorrect joke in a real life situation.
Yet something happened this afternoon when I got into my car to see a client, that compelled me to do just that. It was not so much that I was compelled, but at the time I just could not think of something better/wittier to say.
I was pulling my car out of a parking bay at the office when I reversed into a car passing by behind me. Admittedly I was in a bit of a hurry, but I had checked for traffic/obstacles before I put the car into gear. A white Opel Corsa Lite seemed to appear out of nowhere. It really did!
My car lightly scraped the rear bumper of the other car. Apart from a bit of paint transfer it was not serious. Nothing that a bit of rubbing compound/car polish could not take care of.
No amount of apologising and goodwill on my part could persuade the driver not to involve our respective insurance companies. He insisted on taking down my details and on going though the proper channels.
I guess one can’t be too careful these days, but shouldn’t common sense prevail at the end of the day? I can only imagine what the excess payment is going to be like. Probably more than what it will cost to remove the offending paint smudge.
While I wrote my details on the back of a business card, he stomped around breathing heavily. The guy was pissed off alright. One would swear I had just totaled his car. Obviously he does not take life’s little challenges very well.
The odd thing about him was that he was severely vertically challenged. He was probably no more than 4ft tall. I could easily argue that he was so small that he could barely see over the dashboard of his car.

He: I’m not happy
Me (annoyed): No shit, dude. So which one of the remaining six are you exactly?

I don’t think he realised the full implications of the comment I made. If he had, he surely would have agreed that Grumpy would have been a more apt description.

[Disclaimer: The post is not intended to be in bad taste. Sometimes life is stranger than fiction]

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Baobab Tree(Be warned: Extremely Long Post)
In case you were wondering where I disappeared to last week, I took the nephew on a road trip to the Northern & Eastern parts of our lovely country.
I figured I could let him sit at home , while I am at work, and let him get up to his usual antics (such as finding that stash of old porn mags I keep in a box from my university days). Or I could take time off from work and actually spend the week in the Mpumalanga/Limpopo provinces.
I managed to convince [S] to go with us as a well. Without the presence of a woman to keep the two of us in check, we would end up in all sorts of trouble. More than we could handle!
The weather is much warmer up north than down in Johannesburg, and I needed to defrost as a matter of urgency. Winter is so NOT my favourite season of the year. I hate the cold weather!!
We truly have a beautiful country and I cannot understand why people would want to leave all this behind and immigrate to countries like Australia. Hah hah!
What follows is a brief outline of a few of the places we visited. I put a lot of mileage on my car, but it was all worth it. There is so much to see and do and the wildlife is really something to behold.
We spent two nights at a place called the Otter’s den River Lodge in the Limpopo region. It is situated on an island in the Blyde River and surrounded by orange/citrus plantations. They offer a large variety of activities such as river rafting, hot air ballooning (woo-hoo!) and walking safaris. In order to get to the river lodge you have to cross a river teaming with hippos by walking across a rickety hanging rope bridge. Hippos are such majestic creatures when they are in the water. I absolutely loved it.
I walked so much over the two days I think I need a new pair of hiking boots. The lodge was also central enough for us to explore the surrounding areas such as the Blyde River Canyon, Kruger, and the nearby reptile park. I even had the opportunity to do some horse-riding. I am a bit rusty when it comes to riding, but I got the hang of it soon enough. My thighs (and a few other bodyparts) did not agree… but no pain, no gain right?.
A further few days were spent at the Forever Resort Tshipisi in the Limpopo bushveld. What I enjoyed most about the resort is the warm water springs and heated mineral swimming pools. It is like swimming in an open air sauna. I have never in my entire life seen so many baobab, bushwillow and mopani trees. The bird and wildlife (buck, antelopes, giraffes, lions, cheetahs, elephants, etc) are simply spectacular!!!!!! I can only imagine how much more beautiful it must be in spring/summer when all the flowers are in full bloom.
Half a day was spent at the Kapama Cheetah Breeding project & rehab in Hoedspruit near theCheetah in a tree Kruger National Park. It was quite and experience for me and quite emotional to see just what modern development is doing to these wonderful wild animals. I wish I could adopt one of the little cubs.
We also visited the towns of Graskop, God’s Window, Hazeyview, Pilgrim’s Rest, Sabi and finally Kruger itself. The area itself has many (and I mean many) waterfalls, lush green vegetation and spectacular views of the tree plantations from whence most of the wood used in paper production comes from. I won’t go into much detail, but you can get a good idea of what it is like up there by following the many links imbedded in this post or by googling the places I have mentioned.
We also stayed at the Forever Resort Blydepoort in Mpumalanga which has spectacular views of the Blyde River and the Three Rondavels. It is also within driving distance of Bourke’s Luck Pot Holes and The Eco Caves.
Did you know that the Blyde River Canyon is the third largest canyon in the world? In fact, next to the Grand Canyon (USA), we have two of the largest canyons in the world right here in Southern Africa, the second being the Fish River Canyon in Namibia.
I could actually tell that my nephew enjoyed himself, judging by the lack of embarrassing/awkward situations I had to endure. It is actually funny how people would mistake him for my son, which is quite odd despite the fact that we have the same “colouring” (hair, eyes, etc). I thought it would be obvious that I am too young to have a son his age. But then again, one never knows these days, kids have children while they are still in their teens and so perhaps they thought I could be one of those.
As expected, he exploited the whole situation by calling me “Dad” whenever other people were in the vicinity, which was actually quite funny. (more about that later in future posts)

I actually had women (young and old) coming up to me and commenting how wonderful it is that I am spending time with “my son”. If it weren’t for [S], I may even have gotten lucky. (Hah hahah…. I am just kidding! Really!)
I am not complaining. He is the kind of boy a father would be proud of. [S] thought it was funny too, but I reckon she was only too happy that he did not call her “Mom”. You know how women are when it comes to their age and how people see them.
I took a lot of snaps, but I am too lazy to post them. My camera takes quite large pictures (1,5 – 2.8 M in size) and I will have to edit and convert each one of them individually to make them suitable for web publishing.
It just seems like too much hard work, especially after an entire week of doing nothing and being one with nature.
One more week in Limpopo and and I would gladly have swapped my khakis for a loin cloth and pair of leather flip flops.
Nature boy… that’s me!!

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Rise of the Silver Surfer Did anyone notice I was gone? I guess not.
I have quite a bit of catching up to do, so I thought I’ll start out by doing good on the comment I made to Tripeak (3 weeks ago) about posting a Fantastic 4 review. So here goes.
I saw the movie on the weekend it premiered, so I am a bit late in posting. In my defense, I had the post saved to my drafts and meant to publish it before my week long absence, but never got around to doing it.
Nevertheless, I’ll be brief and do my best to remain objective and not come across as a comic book geek… which incidentally I am not. Well, I am not 15 anymore… although I know at least 4 people out there who would disagree.
There’s not much I want to say about Tim Story’s adaptation of the legendary Marvel Comic. If you are a die-hard Fantastic 4 fan you probably came out of the theatre underwhelmed and wondering at what might, and could, and should have been. Some may even call it a disaster, second only to X-men 3.
Though certainly not my favourite comic book, The Fantastic 4 always had a special place in my heart. And perhaps that is my downfall… I expected it to be more, and deep down I wanted it to be more. I am clearly self-indulged and have hedonistic tendencies.
If the first time you’ve heard of The Fantastic 4 was back in 2005, then you will regard The Rise of the Silver Surfer as highly entertaining. Some might even think of it as good. Enough to give the kid in you chills, thrills and marvels, it is better than Fantastic Four 1. There was plenty of action and the story moved at a good pace, despite the somewhat mediocre acting. Take your kids if you have any. They’ll love it.
From a purely male perspective, whose testosterone levels spike every time a beautiful women gets within a 50 meters of where I am, I would have liked to have seen a little more of Jessica Alba (The Invisible Women) than what was delivered. (Is there a contradiction hidden in that statement?)
The Silver Surfer was, I thought, supposed to be a main character in the film and yet his role was scaled down to increase time for the Richards (Mr Stretchy) & Storm drama. So much for something more focused on the Silver Surfers’ intent to destroy the Earth.
It really irked me that so much time was dedicated to Johnny Storm (aka The Human Torch). I have nothing against Chris Evans (He is hot, no pun intended, ladies), but why the focus on his character?
There are some funny moments in the first half of the movie and the jokes are non-stop between the characters, albeit somewhat sitcom-like. (I especially enjoyed the Arnold-like one liners delivered by Michael Chiklis)
However… The absolute tragedy/ mockery of Galactus must be a sore point for the Marvel fans out there. Galactus is one of the b-i-g-g-e-s-t villains in the Marvel universe. The movie does not do him justice. Depicting him as a white cloud is in my opinion one of the biggest flaws in the movie. What was Stan Lee smoking at the time? A heroin-laced reefer? And to have him taken out/defeated like that is an absolute insult!
I doubt I will want to see it again before it comes out on DVD, but don’t take my word for it. I am a sucker for special effects.

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