Monday, November 22

OMG Dante!

An extract from my ranting-diary for Travel Writing... Rewriting Dante's Inferno from an OMG!blogger point of view ~ Yeah, it seemed like a good idea at the time ;)

Actually, how I got to see hell is a funny story. You see, *clears throat* …
Midway upon the journey of our life
I found myself in a dark wilderness,
For I had wandered from the straight and true.

I had taken one too many bribes while in local government (how else was I going to keep myself in Prada?) and found myself wracked with guilt after a few bottles of wine, stumbling through a forest looking for a decent place to throw up. And then I thought I saw a long-dead scholar idol of mine, and I was like “OMG Virgil!”
And Virgil was like “OMG Dante!”
And then we totally hugged.
And Virgil was like, “Dante you’re such a loser. You should stop being a loser and be awesome instead.”
And I was like, “But Virgil, I don’t know how to be awesome. Will you show me?”
And Virgil was like, “No dude I can’t, I’m totally dead! And I was a giant Roman heathen anyway. But since you’re already trippin’ (never mix shrooms and wine, dude) I can take you on a journey through hell so you can see what happens to losers who don’t become awesome before they die.”
And I was like “WOOO! ROAD TRIP!”
And Virgil shook his head and was like, “You are so wasted this may as well be a Contiki tour.”
And I was like “WOOOO –”
And then I threw up.

Thursday, October 28

I made some friends! Out of pixels.

This blog is still alive. I feel like I haven't posted in ages.

Varsity-work wise, I'm incredibly, gloriously behind. I've got at least 2 assignments to hand in for each course and 2 exams next week. Fuck. This would be a great time for the braingels (brain-angels) to kick in. Any day now.

I'm done tutoring for the year and a part of me will miss it. A little part. The other 95% of me will just be happy to sleep in on Monday mornings.

I've tweaked a few things about this blog, the biggest change will be a reduction in ads. There will be half as many and only text, no sexy flashing images. Sorry for those who relied on this blog for those irresistible offers to create a Zwinky avatar of themselves. Now you'll just have to scavenge the rest of the internet for that rare and valuable opportunity.

Speaking of avatars -- no, not the movie. Yes, I enjoyed it and the special fx were amazing. No, I don't think it was so amazing otherwise that it's cool to quote N'avi in everyday life. Anyway, back to actual avatars,  I was thinking about my NaNo plans and hit the old brick wall: that all my characters look the same. Namely, the female lead being a thinner version of me and the male lead being a manlier version of Jared Leto (don't ask, because I don't know why.)

So I found a cute little doll-maker site which I used to brainstorm. I may have gotten a tad carried away since I ended up with about ten different characters -- a preview:

Looking back at these, I have to admit in all-caps that I AM A TOTAL DORK. Yes, they're at high school, and yes, they each have a different adorable pet. And yes, these were really fun to make :D

Sunday, October 10

Pigfarts you are not running -- it's Mars!

The title is the Translation Party result of the quote "You can't just go to Pigfarts -- it's ON MARS!" (from AVPM! Which I totally did not watch last night instead of sleeping / writing past due essays / planning my escape from academia to sunny Mexico.)

I discovered Translation Party about half an hour ago and have been obsessed with it ever since. You give it any sentence and it translates from English to Japanese and back, until it finds 'equilibrium' (the English sentence goes into Japanese and comes out exactly the same. I don't know how else to explain it. I've been writing past due essays all day!)

So the sentence "I discovered Translation Party about half an hour ago and have been obsessed with it ever since" went through a couple of incarnations and morphed into "Before it is to find a hook for 30 minutes, I need to translate official." 

My favourite translation was the line "Life is too important to be taken seriously," which only took 3 morphs to get to "It is important that life too seriously." It's like seeing the intimate crevices of an Engrish mind at work.

And remember kids, whenever you're having an existential crisis, solve it the same way Happy Rotter does...

Get it?

Saturday, October 9

Loving Dasia

You know when you get so bored that you google your own name?
*crickets chirping*
Well anyway, turns out there's a book out there called Loving Dasia. At first I was like "Yay! Not only do I have a real name, but other people in the world think it's cool enough to name a book after! Weeeee!"
And then I saw Dasia's dark, handsome, secret-agent lover's name is...
Grimarious. For realsies.

That's Grimmy for short, then?  Lovely.

(For the record, I just linked the Amazon page here to prove this book exists. On no account do I think you should buy it. Need any more proof that you should stay away? Grimmy's last name is Gautraux. Apparently Ana Gia Wright's hobby is to mash fun-sounding syllables together and pretend the result isn't ridiculous. Kind of like fanfic writers who introduce Harry Potter's long lost - totally hot - sister Qi'bnoby into canon.)

Sigh. I wish I had a real name.

Monday, October 4

"Snowflake" is my middle name, bitch!

When I get all sad and angsty about life [coughEXAMScough], I like to distract myself by planning what tattoo to get next. What symbol, design, size, placement, and colouring? (I usually go for plain black silhouettes. Binaries FTW!) These plans shift so often that finances can't really keep up with my changes of heart. Which I guess is a good thing. If I had the money, I'd probably be covered in impulsive ink.

The tattoo flavour of the week in my mind is a single snowflake, either on my left wrist or left ankle. This morning I taught Elizabeth I's "I grieve and dare not show my discontent," which (while Renaissance poetry usually leaves me cold) is a totally fucking awesome poem. I was struck by the lines "Some gentler passion slide into my mind, / for I am soft and made of melting snow." I can't express how this makes me feel without reverting to the words 'totally fucking awesome,' but I guess that's just the ever-eloquent English Lit postgrad in me.

This got me thinking about snow; I have a book I bought in my first year at varsity called "The Encyclopaedia of Snow," which I got for exactly R1 at a library purging sale. I'm ashamed to say I've never read the whole thing; I was put off by the apparently factual but super confusing layout of the thing (I didn't know what PoMo was back then. The days of innocence!) But apparently it's a fancy novel which takes the form of an apparently random collection of extracts about snow... which turn out to weave into a (probably cheesy or pretentiously deep) love story.

The point is that - superficial as it is - this book has the loveliest cover and frontispiece (say wha'? Fun fact: a frontispiece is an illustration that isn't within the book itself, but precedes the title of the book.) The cover has very minimalist, fading snowflakes, while the frontispiece is a collection of photographs created by Wilson "Snowflake" Bentley, a 19th century farmer who was frackin obsessed with snowflakes. How hardcore of a nickname is "Snowflake"? Mad props to Bentley for living up to the hype. He's actually the guy who, through years of photographing them, discovered that no two snowflakes are alike.

What fascinates me is the devotion and passion Bentley showed to his collection: in his lifetime, he collected over 5000 images of snow crystals, and it was no picnic to get a decent photo. Not only does one run the risk of melting the little thing with one's breath, but also be careful not to crack the little bugger while you get it onto a slide. And in a few moments the beauty of it was gone forever.

I'm on the official website of the collection now and I can't stop staring at these photos. Only a few of them are up, but they're mesmerizing. The above is number 13. There's something quite (for lack of a better word) inspiring about Snowflake Bentley. I can't think of anyone these days who would be so devoted simply to the idea of preserving and sharing the beauty of something so miniscule and precious. I'm quite keen to get the book of selected photographs published by Bentley in the 1930's, which is still available in paperback today.

I like number 13 for my imaginary tattoo, but now I've got 500 or so other images to study before I make a decision. And by then, my enthusiasm may very well have melted away.

Sunday, September 26

Fragment (consider revising)

I was born in Russia | and raised in South Africa | I sound American | and feel like an alien | been dreaming of Japan for a decade | but I don't drive, dammit | What do you do with a B.A. in English? | It seemed like a good idea at the time | Burning daylight waiting for my life to start | Deadlines are more like guidelines | I have braingels (brain angels) | People say I'm smart, but I know better | I like purple and Hello Kitty and sleeping late | I do everything Oprah tells me to do | I get defensive and critical and grumpy sometimes | My Circadian rhythms fail me | I heart gingers | Who the hell am I without varsity? | a little paranoid | a little reckless | I like comedy and satire and Cormac McCarthy | It's not my fault that life's more fun when I'm tipsy | If I know you, I've probably had a few perfect conversations with you in my head | life's better with pets | I only like attention in theory | I should really stop tearing my hair out | At home, I usually walk on my tiptoes | I believe in miracles.

Thursday, September 9

I'll never tire of making these...

Today's Random Album is the moody electronica duo Air City. Their second album, What is beyond it, seeks to explore the new facets of life opened to the band after the success of their debut work last year, titled Can't Breath without the Beat. Much of their new works deal with the complexities of experiencing air transport and living in upmarket hotels.

While fans may miss Air City's earthy, common lyrics like: "My mom thinks I'm a loser, yeah / I spend all day on the computer, yeah / I wanna get a job but / That might put me in an artistic rut," their new album has an atmosphere of refreshing maturity. Gone are the days of trite youth, such as the club anthem of 2009, "I wanna love you all niiiiight, just right, alright! / until then don't fright / I'll scrub my acne with all my might" and enter the more sophisticated lines of their newest single, "In a postmodern context, baby, you're so sexy, I wanna transgress your binary, while you deconstruct my hierarchy... all niiiiight!"

Random Album Covers make me happy. To make one, follow these steps:

1 - Go to a random wikipedia article:
The first random wikipedia article you get is the name of your band.

2 - Go to "Random quotations"
or click
The last four or five words of the very last quote of the page is the title of your first album.

3 - Go to Flickr's “explore the last seven days":
Third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.

4 - Use Photoshop, MS Paint, or similar to put it all together.

For the record, my band name was Air City (TV series) a Korean show that only ran for a year, about a woman who manages an airport (which is pretty much the same as managing a McDonald's) and her personal drama which culminates in everyone in her vicinity falling in love with her, including some FBI agent who also, erm, works at the airport. I'd watch that. The beautiful photo is linked here, I love me some windmills. The quote I used is by Francis Thompson, which goes "In attempts to improve your character, know what is in your power and what is beyond it," a sentiment which I think Air City the band would appreciate, baby, all niiiiight.

Saturday, August 7


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Wednesday, August 4

The Curse of Old Man Willy

This was my first assignment for Travel Writing, a fun yet disturbing true story about hiking in Drakensberg...

I've never been on a proper hike – although I've heard it's just walking, it seems a lot harder. But hey, I'm in Drakensberg, there's this Blue Grotto thing -- I could hike. I don't have any hiking clothes, so I wear the hikiest stuff I brought on the trip. My off-black Guess shirt and Betty Boop hairclip probably don't have counterparts selling at Cape Union Mart, but I'm feeling pretty hardcore. We set off on the trail and are quickly immersed in a seemingly endless lush forest. As the mud squishes beneath my virginal trainers, I start to think I'm a natural at this hiking thing – that is, before I lose my balance on huge boulders crossing a tiny stream, and my left leg plunges knee-deep into icey mountain water. Our journey is lengthened by overwhelming obstacles – well, actually just by our B.A. tendency to photograph every funny-looking tree and magical-looking spiderweb we come across. Two hours later, we reach what seems to be the end of the trail: a dusty cliffside. We look at each other quizzically and realise that none of us knows what a 'Blue Grotto' actually is. Edging further, the cliffside opens up to a gorgeous waterfall which creates a placid pool. As my friends dip into the freezing water of the pool, an old man emerges from the forest and jumps in – buck naked. Gathering our stuff and averting our eyes, we hike back to civilization in under twenty minutes. We do not take any pictures of funny trees along the way.

While we were discussing the story in class, Emily and I mentioned that we'd dubbed the random naked guy Old Man Willy. Nobody knows if Old Man Willy lives in the forest, if he was just out of sight behind us the whole time, or if he's an apparition that haunts the pool waiting in the hollow darkness of eternity for the opportunity to make girls uncomfortable. Anyway, I don't think hiking is for me.

Tuesday, August 3

You are a banana moon subverting the sun.

If you're feeling a bit down, but aren't moved by standard compliments like "your jeans are nice" or "you smell nice" or "you look so nice when you're sleeping that I can't help compulsively breaking into your house and watching you for hours every night," then you're ready for The Surrealist Compliment Generator!

Seriously, this is one of the internet's most arbitrary and wonderful inventions...

"Your face does bend even the most anorexic mirror into a sensuous playground of muscular spasms!"

"Your hair is reminiscent of a self-digesting yak in heat."

"Dustmites the world over love you for your feet."

"The goats you buy shed a perfume that makes Marxism so terribly clear to me!"

So much awesomeness! I want to walk up to random people and say these things in my most sincere Petrarchan tone. These lines would also make legendary chapter titles for my Nanowrimo attempt this year. Yes.

Sunday, August 1

T-shirt ideas

I had completely forgotten I'd made these until I was desperately scouring my documents for something decent to put into my writing portfolio.

As for my portfolio, I didn't find anything but about 20 pages of an awesome Sylar x Mohinder fanfiction (that's Heroes, y'all) but I don't think fanfics really count as 'creative writing' so much as 'perverted plagiarism' ... but maybe if I change Sylar's name to Rolex and Mohinder's name to Raj, and add a little prologue: "So Rolex is an evil superdude who steals other superpeople's powers by cutting their heads open; and Raj is an adorable scientist guy who's technically from India but sounds more like he's from California and trying to sound like he's from London. Cool, now on with the fanfi -- Uh, completely original work of prose!"

Yes, this sounds like a plan.

Friday, July 16

It was a dark and stormy writing class...

I had my first Creative Writing seminar yesterday, and the upside is that it wasn't as soul-shatteringly terrifying as I was afraid it would be. The downside is that apparently, I'm not the only person in the class who can string a coherent sentence together (damn it!) so I'll have to work a bit harder if I'm looking for standing ovations.

We did a couple of in-class exercises including one where we had to write really horribly (to get over the fear of writing badly, which is a huge block for amateur writers.) This is what I came up with:

It was a dark and stormy night when Clarissa, a stunningly beautiful young lady, fell off her loyal steed while riding to the next village to get more leeches for her ailing mother. As Clarissa toppled off her shining black steed, her ruby red hair cascaded from her headscarf and gleamed in the lightning-light. Her emerald green ballgown shimmered with mud as she splashed to the ground. Her usually loyal steed was spooked by the storm and disappeared into the tempest, leaving Clarissa in a dark, despairing ditch of despair. Her ankle twisted, Clarissa's gorgeous honey-coloured eyes widened in pain and dismay. It was then that, in the dark distance, she saw a tall, striking figure coming towards her ominously. As he approached, Clarissa's soft strawberry-pink lips parted in awe. It was an Adonis-like, totally hot guy with broad shoulders, a strong angular face, and a black cowboy hat...

Every time I read this it gets worse. I'm quite happy with it! The funny thing is that it really does reflect the problems I have when I write: I tend to repeat myself and use too many flowery, opulent, magnificently diverse adjectives.

I'm looking forward to carrying on with the course. I hope the "workshopping" part won't be too heartbreaking. At least, this way, I have to write and I can't flake out on it. So there won't be any "I'd love to write a book, but unfortunately I don't have a pen" business. Yeah, that's from Little Britain. The catchphrases are slowly working their way into my subconscious. It's a right kerfuffle.

Sunday, July 4

I am easily amused.

Two songs that have been on a constant loop in my brain:

Gay Boyfriend! I want one:

Sorry the video's low res, but hey, one hit wonder + home made vid = not a lot of people on youtube caring.

And Lily Allen's Alfie, a classic:

This is just the song with a still - the official music vid has the "clean" lyrics, and this song without the words 'weed' and 'twat' loses all its meaning. Yes, I am easily amused.

Saturday, June 19

I have the weirdest sense that I'm being followed...

Did you know that you can stalk me with one click of your mouse? Unsettling, isn't it?

Well, turns out you can click the "Follow" button on your right - beneath the long ad for cartoonifying yourself / buying sexy Asian singles / cartoonifying your wedding photos to aforementioned sexy Asian.

So, you click "Follow" and suddenly, as if by magic, you (and your sexy Asian) get all of this blog's updates conveniently in one little reader. Apparently, I have three followers already! But I'm going to need a bit more so that I can apply for my Cult Leader's License.

(Oh, and while you're in the clicking mood, take a click at some of the ads. You don't have to buy anything, but by clicking them you support me and my bloggery efforts. Go on, those sexy Asians aren't going to cartoonify themselves!)


I've just made a Polyvore account! It's a pretty awesome site, where you can make collages (or 'sets') of assorted fashion, decor or just artsy stuff that makes you happy. I'm just starting out, so my sets aren't too sexy yet, but I'm happy with this one:

Tuesday, June 8

Playing FTSE

(Okay, so I'm technically 'playing JSE', but that's not a naughty pun now is it?)

Yesterday, I bought 13 shiny shares of Compagnie Financiere Richemont, which is a blue-chip company that owns luxury brands like Cartier and Chloe. They also own Net-A-Porter, which is filled with so many beautiful, overpriced things that it makes me want to cry. It's pretty great to think that, even though I'm very far away from affording the D&G bling on Net-A-Porter, I now own a molecule or two of every lovely thing on that site.

When I was looking for companies to invest in (using FNB's Share Builder) I noticed that almost all of the blue-chip companies on offer were based on everything that's wrong with the world. Would I like to put my money in tobacco, or liquor, or heartless oil giants? I'm surprised pornography conglomerates and puppy-stomping franchises weren't listed.

Random fact: did you know that the term blue-chip comes from poker, where the blue chips are the most valuable ones? I had to google this before I committed to actually buying some of them.

So anyway, the least sinful of the batch of companies was Richemont, so I went for it. I figured it couldn't be a worse investment than my recently ordered collection of Little Britain, which I'm super excited to get! And I spent about the same amount on both investing in my future; and Matt Lucas dressed as a wayward teen girl, Vicky Pollard, going "Yer but no but yer but no but SHARRUP!"

And while we're not on the subject at all, The *Poof!* Diet is going quite well. Most of The Pants are fitting again! Victory! Now I'm tempted to switch over to the half-the-calorie diet by Little Britain's FatFighters coach Marjorie Dawes, it goes like this: "You take your favourite food, and you only eat half of it. That way, it's only half the calories.... So you can have twice as much!" Solid logic.

Ah, Little Britain is amazing. You can watch most of it on Youtube. And you SHOULD! Because it's amazing. And my collection will arrive just in time to replace all the regular programming lost to some sort of kickball contest thing that everyone's excited about.

And another one from Vicky Pollard:

 Social Worker: Vicky, where is the baby? 
Vicky: Swapped it for a Westlife CD. 
Social Worker: How could you do such a thing? 
Vicky: I know, they're rubbish.

Sunday, May 30

Scribery Shenanigans!

First semester's dead and gone, and has taken my biggest source of income with it. I really enjoyed tutoring Civil Engineers, who (despite their tendency to malapropise - because 'compulsively' and 'compulsory' practically mean the same thing, right?) were generally a lovely bunch. While I'm always on call for the family business, and I do enjoy its rewards - a roof over my head and all that - the net income I get from it doesn't do much besides fund my chewing gum habit.

So I've applied for a job as a Ye Olde Scribe. I prefer this title, not only because it's got a nice antique-y vibe, and implies that I'm the only literate person in the kingdom; but also because it doesn't make me choose between 'transcriber' and 'transcriptionist', neither of which sounds right. Anyway, I had to go through an online English test where I was cast into such intense shadows of doubt about my knowledge of grammar and whether 'weather' is spelled 'wether' wither...? that I began to feel rather Modernist (that is, anxious and ambivalent and ambiguously annoying) about the whole (hole? whorl?) thing.

But to my surprise and delight, I passed the test, and they sent me a four-minute sample clip of stuff to transcribe. I listened to several different voices speak in varying UK accents about Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake's relationship. When I was about to start writing, I realised that none of the people talking had names. Bugger! There must have been about fifteen different voices, some coming back throughout the clip, others just appearing once.

So what was I supposed to do? Give them names of my own? John, Mary, Sheldor the Conqueror, Squirtle? Or differentiate them as best I can: Posh-sounding British Man, Scottish (Probably) Man, Not-So-Posh-Sounding-But-Still-British Man, Lisping Woman, Funny-Sounding Man, Annoying Woman Who Speaks Too Fast To Transcribe Properly Damnit, Man At End Of Clip?

In the end, I just added a note saying "Yeah, I don't know who's talking, but this is definitely what they said" and sent it off. Hopefully, it'll be enough to land me some part-time work that doesn't involve pulling a 2010-themed rickshaw through Hillbrow or touching people's feet (fete? feat? pheet?!)

A girl can dream, can't she?

Thursday, May 20

The *poof!* diet.

This may seem strange, but pants are very important to me. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I wear skirts and dresses most of the time, but pants hold a special place in my heart. In pants, you can go horse riding and rock climbing and generally feel manly. Thus, you can see how it would bum me out (excuse the pun) to realise that none of my pants fit me anymore. I cannot express the depth of my sorrow without resorting to a sad-face icon:


So, seeing as I'm too lazy (and averse to throwing up) to develop a slenderizing eating disorder, my only other option is to be sensible. So I've started being sensible, watching what I eat and exercising. The eating part always trips me up because, when I used to keep a food diary, it would generally creep people out.  Because obviously, if I have a food diary, then I must  have a diary of all my social interactions (à la TBBT's Sheldon Cooper) and in it I must write down all their flaws and how I will dispose of them once the Revolution comes. Any-hoo, I totally don't have one of those social interaction diaries [innocent whistle] and when the Revolution comes, I'm probably going to wing it when it comes to disposing of unnecessary acquaintances.

So the food diary isn't very practical, but I found a great site called FitDay where you can enter all your food for the day, and how much you've exercised, and it does all the finicky math for you! It's quite magical. It even does pie graphs. Mmm... pie...

Erm, anyway, as for working out, my favourite thing to do is the Turbo Jam DVD's. It's basically a dance-cardio thing, and isn't mind-numbingly boring. It also helps that you have an option of having the music drown out the lead trainer's incessant motivational banter. The trick is not to look at the girl in the third row on the right, because she's got this huge Joker-smile on her face for 45 straight minutes, and it's rather unnerving.

I'm not on any official diet, I'm just staying below a certain amount of daily calories. So the upside is that on the plan, I can have a doughnut. The downside is that I can't have 49 more doughnuts. But that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make for the pants.

I'm not sure how long it'll take me to get back into the pants, but I figure if I keep this up long enough, in a week or two, tops, I'll be working out and there will be an epic *poof* sound and lots of glittery smoke, and I'll emerge looking like this:
(Minus the OMG-totally-kawaii!!!!!1!! star tattoo)
(And hopefully not upside-down.)

So that's my very sensible plan. Wish me luck!

I'm not dead! But if I was.... the orangutan did it.

I know this blog has gotten a bit dusty, but with exams and trying to maintain my 13-hour-a-day sleep schedule, bloggable events have been at a minimum. Shockingly, exams haven't eaten my soul this year like they usually do. Maybe it's because I'm postgrad now, and therefore have superpowers. It could also be that this year, I've actually read the books I'm writing on. You never know.

Right now (as I type) I'm studying, by osmosis, my Edgar Allan Poe stories. Besides the outside-class discussions (in which we came to the conclusion that Poe was the first emo mo-fo, yo) I have many helpful lecture notes, such as these important points:

- The detective stories offer absurd solutions
- Thus resolution is offered, but not comforting to the reader
- Life is random and depressing
- At any moment an orangutan could run into your house, strangle you and stuff you up the chimney.

PICTURED: Not as innocent as they look, a young orangutan plots yet another act of random violence.

I really don't get why Poe wasn't taken seriously as a writer back in his day. Who could have a fun, exciting, gothic murder-mystery without a couple of orangutans thrown in? Orangutans make every story better. I could probably have sat through The Notebook if there were orangutans. Or even Mariah Carey's Glitter. Just imagine: our darling, buxom heroine finally finds the mother who gave her up for adoption, and just as she walks gracefully across the street to confront the jazzy drunkard, an evil orangutan snatches her up, strangles her and stuffs her up a chimney!

Come on, I'd watch that.

Sunday, April 11

3 things about SA that I'm well and truly OVER

Yes, we have sunshine and smiles and rainbow-coloured ponies over here in South Africa, but we also have things that make me want to rant like a... well, like a blogger who's putting off a lot of marking!

1 - World Cup propaganda. Endless soppy TV ads and cheesy billboards encouraging us to refrain from stoning foreign tourists; and reminding us that because some people kick a ball around, we're all homies and this country is incredibly amazing. I can't wait for the World Cup to be over, so we can all go back to being grumpy pessimists.

2 - Malema rage. Yes, he's an idiot. Yes, he's offensive. But every time you react to him, HE WINS. His personal and political agenda is to get as much attention as possible. I'd like to see the energy everyone puts into creating drama around this man be redirected into something constructive. Like throwing shoes at him. Or stuffing his pillows with something he's allergic to. Or just pushing him over so that he falls down.

3 - The new little TV's on buses. I guess this springs from the first point - wow, SA's so great! Sure, a bus may only come by once every four hours or so, and you're lucky if it's roadworthy, but look, it's got a tiny TV in the front! The thing is, the only thing they play is this creepy computer-animated kid's show about a rabbit who lives in some sort of communist fruit-based economy. I guess that's the only way to punish people for taking buses without infringing on their human rights.

Aah, it feels good to fulfill my hater-quota for the day.

Monday, April 5

White Noise: 310 pages of my life I'm never getting back

White Noise by Don DeLillo is doublepluspostmodern, and not in a good way.

The whole book is about this dude, Jack (why are 75% of all protagonists named Jack?) who's an annoying college professor, insufferable poser, babydaddy, and a guy who generally has too much time on his hands to ponder... wait for it... DEATH.

(DEATH is like so scary, that's why we have to write it in BIG LETTERS.)

Now, DEATH is hardly an overwritten subject, especially in postmodernism's heyday, right? But DeLillo brings it to a whole new level of Oh My God, My Eyes Are Bleeding badness. Basically, good ol' Jack can't stop thinking about DEATH because it's the only thing that freaks him out in his comfy consumer culture.

Poor Jack, DEATH upsets him. Don't you feel sorry for him and can totally relate to his character? No? You'd rather just chuck a portable DVD player at his head? Wow, me too! We should hang out.

DeLillo's description of the overly media-saturated world was probably a big whoop in the eighties, but writing "Leaded, Unleaded, Superleaded" in the middle of a love scene between Jack and his legwarmer-clad wife strikes me as less deep and meaningful and more 'I need three more words for this chapter or my publisher will yell at me again.'

I'm pretty sure that this book got on the Honours reading list, and into academic acclaim in general, through a very clever the-king-has-no-clothes approach: the individual fakes awe and a deep understanding of the book because that's what the collective is expressing. Nobody wants to be the idiot who says he didn't get it.

And after three hundred or so pages of Jack whingeing about DEATH, I was sincerely hoping he'd fall into a giant meat grinder and... wait for it... DIE! But the freakin' dude just keeps on trucking. Yes, it's postmodern. It's also a shitty ending.

The only good thing about this book is that (despite that fact that I found it really, really lame) I get it, so I'm going to write an essay on it this week and not have any more American Lit work until the exams.

Next week we're starting on Black Boy, by Richard Wright. I'll probably write more about it once I've finished it, but let me say now that it's fantastic. One of the best books I've ever read; I can't wait for classes to start so I can gush about it to a begrudging audience of eight.

The only thing is that it's pretty depressing, and brings me to tears almost as much as the first season of Glee. I don't know why I start crying when perfectly good-sounding people break into show tunes. Maybe because it makes me ponder the ceaseless void of DEATH.

Monday, March 15

In a world ruled by evil flying elves....

So the first quarter's over, which means I actually have to start submitting work. Dun dun DUN. (That was an impending-doom sound, for the record!)

Moby Dick's going to be out of my hair soon, I'm submitting tomorrow morning. Seeing as I only figured out a couple of hours ago what my argument actually is, I'm very relieved to find that it actually has some sort of internal logic. At least I don't have to start from scratch.

Writing an essay for me is kind of like making an abstract painting. You just keep throwing paint on the canvas, and only after you're done, long after you've forgotten what the hell you were doing with all that red and silver and why you rented that horse-drawn carriage in the first place... you look at it again and realise whether it's Jackson Pollock or just, like, total crap.

I'm also debating whether to take part in Script Frenzy next month. It's a challenge to write a hundred-page play /screenplay / graphic novel / basically, scripted stuff! in the month of April. I'm tempted, but I'm afraid it might get in the way of my lying-around time.

By the way, Script Frenzy's homepage has a hilarious little gizmo called The Plot Machine, which randomly generates the seeds of a plot. It's even funnier when you read it in a deep, manly movie-trailer narrator's voice: "In a world ruled by evil flying elves... the worse debate team ever... must smuggle druids across the border."

...Hey, I might just use that exact plot!


Friday, March 12

A spot of chicktea!

I really couldn't live with myself if I didn't post this picture:

From CuteOverload (Photo by Jerry Schexnayder)

I believe that sharing such fluffy cuteness is one of the noblest uses of the internet! True story. On the list of The Glories Of The Internet, "fluffy cuteness" is right below and right above My Immortal.

Speaking of chicks in teacups - well, not really, but anyway - the other day, I had an experience that made me realise the greatness of being a tutor. Not in the bestowing of knowledge, silly. See, since it's the end of the quarter, my tutlings had a test on how much (or rather, how little) they've read for their course. So on Wednesday I proceeded to sit in a room full of anxious people writing a tricky test... and I wasn't one of them.

I was almost giddy! Um, not in a sadistic way, but in a dodged-a-bullet kind of way. Like: HA! I don't have to worry and stress about this test! It's not my problem, woohoo! I'm above it all, I'm safe, I'm FREE!

Yeah... that probably means I'm not grown up enough to be a tutor. Oh well! At least I've got a really adorable pic of squishy cutey fluffy wuffy shnuggly chickies in-a-teacup! Aaaw!

Tuesday, March 9

And now I want to crash a cocktail party

An Incomplete Education, by Judy Jones and William Wilson, is definitely the best book buy (excuse the alliteration) I’ve ever made! An exclamation point is necessary! (And another one… but not a third. That would just be gushing.)

It is such an awesome collection of information. Every subject you could possibly want to know more on – Art History, Music, Philosophy, Psychology, Science… pretty much everything. And it’s written in a simple and lighthearted way. I haven’t put it down much since I got it.

And now, for some choice extracts...

In Political Science:

“What you need to know if you’re dating a Congolese: How to party down with someone who’s suffering from disease, malnutrition, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Try a little tenderness. If your date is a woman, she may have been gang-raped by rebel soldiers on her way to meet you, especially if you’ve arranged a rendezvous outside one of the squalid refugee camps where some of the two million or so internally displaced Congolese huddle in tents, waiting for supplies that never arrive. If your date’s a man, congratulations on having found a live one!”

In Science:

From the intro to Chaos Theory: “Chaotic behavior follows simple rules and recognizable patterns. What’s more, when you translate that behavior into mathematical models, then plot the models on your computer, you get the kind of visuals people used to have to drop acid to see.”

In the Lexicon:

The distinction between ‘anxious’ and ‘eager’: “Famous last stand of the language purists: You’re not anxious to spend a languorous evening with your oldest married friends, you’re eager to spend it. Unless, that is, you’ve been sleeping with one of them for the past three months. Then you are anxious.”

Word pronunciation: “Eight words where you have to choose between being unimpeachably correct (and risk sounding pretentious) or disarmingly casual (and risk sounding uneducated.)”

Seriously, best R300 I’ve ever spent. Naturally, like I’ve found the Literature section a bit shallow and over-simplified, I’m sure it’s not the holy grail on every subject. But it’s still really cool. Informative, funny and covering a huge range of great subjects, I’d totally recommend it to everyone, from happy nerds who really love learning, to people that are just tired of giving the ol’ vacant nod-and-smile at cocktail parties whenever Chaos Theory comes up.

Friday, February 26

"Rainbow" is not a dirty word.

COMING SOON: "A Queer Reading Of Everything! Part 1." My awesome sister Stas suggested I do this series of posts, since I habitually read absolutely everything as gayfully as possible. It's just a hobby. Some people do arts and crafts, I get my kick out of reading carefully chosen lines of (mostly, innocuously hetero) books, placing them out of context, and putting "if you know what I mean" [waggles eyebrows] at the end of them. It's great fun and takes up most weekends! Part One will be entitled "Moby Dick: It's Just Too Easy."

And now, for a rant about capitalist fuckheads:

Surely, as those who have the (collective) intelligence to own and operate a huge website dedicated to people listening to stuff, whoever's beneath the chicken suit that is would be just clever enough to think, "Hey, for people to listen to stuff, it needs to be in a format their listening-to-stuff gadgets can recognise!"

Apparently not.

Because money makes people seriously, irreparably stupid. In this case, Audible have decided to make a very special audio format of their very own called .aa, in which ALL of their audio books are sold. No, they can't make it in standard mp3, because then it would be too 'shareable', there would be too many rainbows in the world, and the universe would implode.

What pisses me off is that I only stumble across this idiotic problem when I've given them my credit card details, downloaded their software (really, because my RAM wants more random programs slowing it down) and put their trial file on my mp3 player. It's not recognised.

I then look back and realise this bloody file is .aa, so I go "cool, I'll just use Format Factory."
"I'll just download a program that converts it to mp3. Can't be that hard."
Apparently, converting it straight-out is illegal, because of the whole sharing rainbows universe imploding thing.

So, I eventually find a teeny tiny paragraph in their help file that says meekly, "Oh by the way, our files aren't in mp3 format... but that's okay because iPods and R4000 smartphones can read our format!"

Next I go to the forums. Countless stories of people who PAID for audiobooks (they're not cheap either, any good stuff is roughly the same price as hardcopy) and can't get a refund because, deep in the bowels of their help files, Audible says this format isn't supported on all mp3 players.

Thank greatness I'm just using the 2 week free trial and I discovered this problem with my "complimentary" (yes, thank you for raising my blood pressure and wasting my night) book credit, which I'm using for Moby Dick. Alas, I do actually need to finish it before I can offer a complete queer reading.

Now, I'll admit that Charlie (my mp3 player) isn't the snazziest monkey in the tree. He's a JNC ipod-knockoff and despite the box he came in stating "MP4 PLAYER" he doesn't exactly... play mp4's. But he plays mp3's just fine! And you'll find him in pretty much every CNA and computer store in South Africa, so he's not exactly a rare model.

Suddenly, having an mp3 player and the money to buy an audiobook just isn't enough. You have to have a top-of-the-line gadget to play the damn thing. And that, right there, is capitalist imperialism at work. It's. Just. Not. Right.

Luckily, on the same forums I did find a (non-shady) way to get my mp3's. By burning the .aa files to an (emulated) CD and ripping them back to mp3 format from there. I still have to personally try this but it seems doable.

Yeah, doable. And really irritating, long-winded, troublesome and deeply unnecessary in a rational world, where (in my pseudo-anarchist opinion) it's perfectly okay to have a little friendly file-sharing. And one too many rainbows.

Monday, February 8

Spending money is good for your liver

Spending money makes me happy. So does tequila.

Being the health enthusiast I am [insert incredulous snort here] I decided to spare my liver, and just spent R300 on An Incomplete Education, which is a very, very big book with many little factoids on just about every interesting non-fiction subject ever. Besides, It's okay that I spent money, because I'm making money. I made R6 (hell yeah, you read right, SIX Rand!) from people clicking on my blog's ads yesterday. So don't be shy about clicking on them, because not only does the act induce orgasmic pleasure on its own (!) it also funds my addiction to awesome books!

So, the book looks way awesome. I plan to keep it in my handbag at cocktail parties and consult it for clever things to say. Actually, at 700 pages, I might need to keep it in my wheelbarrow. But that's okay, because I have a decorative wheelbarrow especially for cocktail parties.

Expect a review when my New Favourite Book arrives in about three weeks. Actually, you're better off expecting a review once I finish reading it. Ten years and three weeks, then.

That's the trouble with online retail therapy. The rush of clicking through your (mom's) credit card payment for something incomprehensibly awesome is quickly replaced by the stark sensation of empty-handedness.

... And that's when we head to TEQUILA!

Sunday, February 7

Orangutans have SMS language too...

So I’m back at Wits, doing my Honours in English. Being Postgrad has opened up a whole new world! Well, technically that world consists of two new rooms. One being the Quiet Room – for reading heavy books with a serious look on your face, and perhaps smoking a pipe and mulling over unsolved murders. I wouldn’t know, I’ve only been in there once, to ask for the key for the Noisy Room.

The Noisy Room is where all the magical awesomeness of postgraduateness is at. There’s a kettle and a view of the dirty Joburg streets and rockstars rising from the dead and a whiteboard and ponies. And a really big table!

Being in this room was the first time that I actually liked being in the English department. I just kept thinking “This is weird… I’m not fetching an essay, so I’m not terrified… I’m not in pain, since I’m not in a lecture… I feel… Happy!”

The best part about the Noisy Room is it’s got other Noisy English Postgrads in it! And they’re all pretty awesome. Seeing as most of my varsity friends are Psychology kids (with a few Linguistics and Sociology majors thrown in for good measure) I’ve never really gotten anyone to stand still long enough to listen to me ramble about how deliciously emo Poe was or what a lame whiney man-spinster Matthew Arnold was (and how his poetry, despite rhyming, sucks eggs.)

Don’t know who Matthew Arnold is? Good. The rhyming just doesn’t make up for the sucking of eggs.

Luckily I don’t have to study him since I’m taking American Literature and Medieval Literature. For American, I’ve already gotten my first essay topic, which in classically vague polysyllabic English style is phrased thus:

“Thus, the ambivalence of existential existence is countered solely by the intangibility of the incorrigible, ludicrously indistinguishable qualms of the soul.” Discuss this arbitrary, abstract quote with close reference to at least something that someone has written at some point in time.Oh, and guess my favourite colour while you're at it.

Medieval Lit, on the other hand, is wonderful – until we slip into languages I don’t understand. Sure, I can breeze by some Latin phrases and guess what they mean. But Old and Middle English brings a whole new level of “HUH?!”

Lines like this frighten me:

Where ys 3oure witte where ys 3oure prouidence

Okay, is it just me, or does this language need to be renamed Old Orangutan SMS Language? What I’ve gleaned of the meaning is: “Where stuff stuff 3stuff where is stuff… 3.” But I’ve got a weird feeling there’s more to it than that.

So what I’ve learned this week: English Honours isn’t for pansies. Or anyone who feels like they need to understand what they’re reading. But it’s all good, as I’m really used to being clueless. May as well embrace it and avoid Getting A Job for another year!

(Oh, and speaking of being unemployed, have you noticed the ads on this page? They’re sexy, huh? Go ahead, click on one, I get a chappie every time you do!)

Wednesday, January 27

Have you ever had shoes without shoe-strings?

So I've decided to make a Blog Proper. It'll be a post-postmodern avante-garde masterpiece of self-indulgent new media sophistry. And it'll have ponies and stuff.

I'll use capital letters and refrain from saying things like "lulz". Unless I really, really have to. I'll be ranting about varsity, writing, and being a bad good student. And a bad bad tutor. And whatever I'm currently obsessed with (Zachary Quinto. *swoons*)

Watch out for the ponies!