Monday, January 9, 2012

America. Home of the free, the brave, and the unintelligible.

Working from home has its benefits, I get to smoke at my desk, plague social media sites with a vengeance, I don't have to worry about awkward bathroom situations, and I get to watch T.V during my lunch, coffee, tea, and whiskey breaks. But therein lies the problem. Daytime T.V has never been top notch, but with the vast array of channels on offer, it now seduces viewers with programmes they would never have turned to before.
T.L.C is a new channel on DSTV, educating the overweight youth on how not to behave when sent to fat camp, showing mothers how to prepare their blonde babies for pageantry, terrifying women into believing that they're pregnant but don't know about it, and helping those of little shame to understand the extensive use of coupons. A gem of a channel, some might say.
Yet the more of it that I watch (and believe me, I watch enough) the more I realise that North America is a continent with incontinence of the spoken word. Grossly phrased, but bare with me on this one.
“He come over yesterday, and he spit on me!” The pink chintz armchair of a human cries to the host. Yes, this sounds simply awful, but lets stick to what's important here, “he spit on me??” whatever happened to tenses? “He come over yesterday?” No he bloody didn't, he came over. Came. Past tense.
When the forefathers wrote that damnable constitution was there any mention about strongly opposing the correct use of tenses? If not, then why, pray tell, why is this nation incapable of speaking properly?
I find it insufferable to listen to anyone talking about routes and staying calm on this channel. I'm trying to be sympathetic, but when someone says, “She followed me down Route 24. I tried to stay calm.” I'm going, 'route,' pronounced root, not 'rowt,' you moron. And nobody pronounces the 'L' in calm, nobody in the world except your incomprehensible nation.
And while I'm on the warpath with Americanisations, let's discuss the Z they substitute for S.
It's just plain lazy. It's like you're saying that you were too tired to properly spell a word so you just wrote it phonetically. Leaving out U's left right and centre too. If you speak English, you speak and write it the way the English do. I'll have no more of this dallying about with silly grammar use and cross-continental confusion.
Yes, I want to know how you managed to have a baby in your own bed one night without even knowing you were pregnant, and yes, I'm fascinated to see if Lola-Bell wins this years “Sexy Texan Toddler” competition. But please, tell me about it in a language I can understand.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

In which I become a Twit

Today I began my journey on Twitter. The frenzied whisperings of friends on the benefits of this, the one and only world worth inhabiting, has finally pushed me to setting my fear of the unknown aside and giving this damned Twitter thing a try.
I set up a profile, cute picture and all, clicked “follow” on an number of names, pressed my enter key and waited. Words in a language similar to Elfish appeared on my screen; mystical texts beyond my recognition spurting forth on a never-ending feed. Helen Zille said @something to something underscroll someone.
I am a copywriting graduate, am fluent in English, I passed matric, read books of consequence, hold eloquent conversation with other humans, and yet can't for the life of me understand how the degenerates of society are more capable of understanding Twitter than I. Britney Spears has over 12 million followers for Christ's sake!
I'm strongly reminded of the days I spent behind the steering wheel of my first car, my dad purple in the face yelling “If the bloody taxi drivers can control their clutch, why the fuck can't you?”
The horror, the embarrassment of knowing that everyone else can do something you can't. It burns a hole in my heart just to the right of the damaged artery left from the strife I suffered with my violin when I was six. (An instrument, I might add, that my mum swiftly removed from my possession shortly after buying me something called “The Squawky Parrot Violin Book.” Go figure.)
Yet now as an adult I see children the size of their own instrument, merrily belching out Mozart as though it were a undigested sandwich.
This, I'd hoped, this one piece of technology, will not fail me. I will navigate my way through Twitter like a pro, bearing insight and judgement down upon the lesser beings of the web. My words will crack like whips, followers would flock to me, begging for an audience and pleading for further wisdom. Writing jobs would fall into my lap, and job offers would be flicked off my shoulder like the piece of dust hip hop dancers always seem to find mid-hop.
Alas, it was not to be. Not today at least, and not, it would seem, for a very long time.
My biggest issue with this whole lark is that I staved off Twitter for so long, trying uselessly to convince people that it was a soul-destroying social media-bullshit excuse to prohibit actual human-to-human contact. “It dampens the brain!” I cried. “Let's go back to texting! And phone calls and emails, the way it used to be. The way it ought to be!” I should have known better.
So after years and months of internal battling, I finally did it, and look where I am now; 8 followers and not a growing brain cell to celebrate with.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Intoxicating Observation

I'm an impartial observer. I watch, analyse, judge. You could be completing your daily dues, but I'm filling my day by monitoring yours. I just spent the weekend in Darling, participating in a massed tightly organised wannabe Woodstock, and using the self-neglect of others as a personal field of knowledge and entertainment. Motherless metal-heads, intoxicated indie-kids, hippies floating so high above the ground, they've lost all feeling in their toes and misplaced their motor skills. All fell victim to my particular vindictive brand of savage self-indulgent unvoiced mockery.

You don't even have to see to observe, such is the beauty of this past-time. One can watch with one's ears; eavesdropping it's called in polite society. I was lucky enough to hear one smashed cider-coated nugget of homosexuality yell across a barren camping ground at what can only be assumed to be a fellow partaker in the joys of gayness, “you're not even gay, you're asexual. Bitch.” apparently androgyny is the new douchebag. Hoorah for glorious new ways to insult and hurt! Had I not listened in on such a conversation, this revelation of modern mockery would have sailed passed my world like those itchy thingies off a plane tree do when they fly through the air. If they hit you though, they make your life an irritational hell. This guy's insults made a brief period in my night an irritational hell. I hmm'd and erm'd for at least three minutes, contemplating the degree of cruelty that must, inevitably have been dealt his way to provoke such an outrageous attack.

Another moment of observational bliss came when a friend, tweaked on what can only be a bubbling brew of MDMA and Swaziland's finest, airplane launched herself into our tent, only to come smoothly in to land on top of myself and my bed buddy. She lay still, arms outstretched in a giggle-provoking Superman stance over us, eventually mustering up enough linguistic ability to say “I love you guys. You know that? I love you. Can I kiss you both on the head?” After which a touching ceremony of tenderness and affection unfolded, resulting in two very sloppy forehead kisses and leaving our canvas cave with a residual feeling of warmth and contentment. Who needs to take the stuff yourself, when you can so easily reap the benefits of such concoctions from the users around you?

Another point in this immaculately entertaining weekend came when a girl, adorned in neon flashes, dreadlocks and an almost fanatical devotion to trance music, elevated a giant plastic daisy above her head, only to twirl and brandish the messiah of all fake flowers like an expression of her own enjoyment. Her other-worldly smile, vacant and vapid eyes, and indigenous aboriginal dancing inspired thoughts of happiness, love and acid. I don't need a cap of the aciduous drug to feel its effects, I simply need to watch, and fully understand what it is to be off my tits. She gave me my high without meaning to, without selling or me buying, but in the perfection of observing.

Kids came from far and wee (goat-footed and balloon-wielding) to participate in this festival of daisy-inspired music and movement. I watched them shovel fist-full after fist-full of authentic butter chicken down their munchie-mad gullets. I laughed openly at those spinning, arms out and heads back, on fields, oblivious not only to those around them, but themselves in any state of existence entirely. I watched those that knew all the words to the songs bursting like bubblegum from the main stage speakers. Band after band over-exerting themselves beautifully, sweat pouring from each front-man in turn, the stage springing forth rivers of salty talent. I listened to every passing conversation from the safety of my tent, laughing at the stupidity of some, the humour of others, the drunken state of many. I watched it all, drinking it in, absorbing every second, convinced that one day, when my memoirs are being penned, I may not have many stories of myself, but others, them I can write about. Their stories and lives become my fix, my obsession.

I don't ever have a desire to understand the context within which a ludicrous statement is made. I want only the statement, the action or reaction, the one-liners that make an observers life worth further observation. And so it is that on this note I leave you, pondering the agendas of others. Possibly sending you out on a maiden voyage of not self-discovery, rather a discovery of the people around you. People who's lives can bring you joy, tantalise your humour switch, inspire thought, and rile up your bile duct. There are others out there you know. Others like you, who think and feel and live. Go see.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Wheatless Existence

My bones shake, rhythmically knocking my kneecaps together. Thud thud clap thud clap clap thud. It begins to hurt. I can feel my heart beating in my ass. The wooden chair I sit on becomes a torture device, tightening to the pulse of my ass-heart-beat. My hair sprawls spider-like and sweat-drenched across my pursed lips, my creased forehead, my adamant, set face. Slowly, meticulously, I lift my head, release my lips from their sphinctered pose and say, “No.” The cheeseburger glares back. Animosity and strife rippling through the very sauce it's drenched in. It threatens to consume me, as opposed to the more socially acceptable adverse.

To fluff out what must be an agonising confusion for you, dear reader, I'm allergic to wheat. Have you ever tried a rye-burger? Don't. It's god-awful. My life exists with anguish, awkwardness and a constant, painful yearning. Every muffin becomes a crude Larson-esque Attila-the-bun character. Every hammy, pineappley, cheesey, phantasmagorical pizza slice slaps me across the face, jeering. Taunting me. Each noodle winds itself around my very heartstrings, squeezing, imploring me to perform my basic human right and eat the godly substance that is flour.

Sure, it's easy for you to tell me that I'm over-reacting, you apathetic wheat-muncher. This isn't a woes-me rant. It's a “try and see where I'm coming from, living with this most evil of all allergies” rant. Totally different. Imagine a life without butter-drenched naan bread, jam-filled doughnuts covered in puffs of sugar, waffles, sweet, glorious waffles, suspended in golden, sparkling pools of maple syrup, capped with billowing, voluminous peaks of soft, white whipped cream. Now tell me you don't feel a slight twinge of empathy.

Yes, there are substitutes. Yes, they taste practically the same. Yes, they cost give-or take nine times the price of regular wheat flour products. Yes, I'm a student and am in no way going to throw away precious drinking money on rice flour. (I probably would spend my drinking money on rice flour, if I was afforded the opportunity to have such a thing as drinking money.) The point is, despite the fact that there are a million wheat-free alternatives to choose from, I want the original. I want the waffles that give me headaches and stomach cramps, it's a discomfort that I've always associated with waffles. No pain, no gain. No waffle, no pain. (This is the point where I begin to concern myself with the state of my mental health.)

O.K, so I'm stubborn and ridiculous. I get it now. Once written down, I see that I've got to either perform acts of thievery to sponsor my rice-flour habit, or accept that I'm going to feel ill every time I succumb to the dreaded desire for wheat. Bite the bullet, not the cheeseburger. Suck up the situation and not the noodle. Find something worth ranting about.

Monday, September 6, 2010

I felt it. It was here.

I passed May this year in foetal position. My shivers of fear shook the very desk I hid beneath, my left eye twitched out S.O.S in Morse code, my stomach shrank to the size of the metaphorical fist clenched around it. Grievously aware of my toes remaining permanently curled, I devised methods of pulling off ringletted toenails as a trend. 1 month till the dreaded World Cup. The pillars of security hoisting my national pride were threatening collapse, crumbling at the edges like a Marie Biscuit.

I lived all 31 days of May with the fear. What happens when our country is flooded with every race you knew about, maybe even a few you didn't, and every single one of those unsuspecting travellers gets their wallets surgically removed from the safety belt-like contraption constricting their torsos? What happens when the first German tourist gets a gun to the head whilst cruising in his rental Beemer? He may not understand the hollered words, but the gun I'm sure he'll get. He'll spring from the vehicle like a cuckoo bird, watching his car insurance speed away up the foreign freeway.

I thought of the wrong kind of striker. Not the one trying desperately to bend Jabulani, the one with a placard, a war-cry and a vicious forearm. I mused on unfinished roadworks, dysfunctional airports, loud-mouthed arrogant, ignorant adolescent politicians. I was pre-emptively embarrassed for South Africa. I woke up cringing every morning.

The opening ceremony did nothing to untangle my tweaked nerves. The off-key singing, awkward presenters, general-all-round awful music sent spirals of sickness oozing down into my finger tips. I held tight to my shuddering knees, curling closer into my human doughnut of safety. Regretting my decision to be in this country during the Cup, I resignedly watched Finding Nemo instead of Bafana's first game. However, I remember going onto Facebook at one point on the evening the game was on. Shockwaves radiated through my brain. We drew. We actually nearly won a game.

Suddenly a new dawn opened for me. This could be so much more than a mortifying experience for our country. We might pull this whole thing off. After choosing Spain as my team, I began to watch. Obsessively. Soccer dominated my mind and controlled my movements. Hells if Spain didn't pull through for me. The buggers won the whole damn competition. Pride flaked off me like dandruff.

Despite my initial pessimism, (a deadly understatement) I supported, I screamed, I blew a goddamn vuvuzela. I strutted my stuff on the fanwalk, ate Prego rolls the nights Portugal played, wore orange for the first time in my life when Netherlands crumpled Cameroon. I became a global patriot.

Don't get me wrong, I'm never going to be the happy-clappy type, sitting around a camp-fire, melodiously belting out my very best Kumbayah. But I supported. I did my bit. Just waiting now for the bit the world's going to do for me. I'll be here if you're looking for me, World. Waiting. (awkward cough.)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Humane Kindness

I dislike people. I dislike their smell, their words, their arrogance, their inherent meanness. They swarm and conquer like ants. They pounce unsuspectingly on a downtrodden earth, forcing it into submission with disease and an imposition of humanness.

The word “humane” distresses me. How supercilious of the human race to create a word meaning “goodness” and “kindness” and yet turn it into a reflection of the very beings who created it. On my stagnant journeys through life I've met more humane hamsters than I have people.

Eddie Izzard, reigning god of comedy and commentary, eloquently portrays the perfect scenario of the evil that doesn't exist in animals. His “Evil giraffe” skit brings tears of laughter to my eyes, and, simultaneously, enrages my over-worked bile duct. A dog takes a biscuit and is called a “bad dog.” The dog looks inquisitively up at his owner and says in a voice that would make James Mason proud, “Who are you to judge me? You human beings who've had genocide, war against people of different creeds, colours, religions. And I stole a biscuit? Is that a crime?” The owner proceeds to give his dog another biscuit. Between snorts of laughter, I find myself seething with anger after watching this scene. Why do people think that in desecrating the world we live in, we somehow have laid some kind of claim to it. Who are we to call a dog bad for stealing a biscuit? It's us who need to be slapped a few times around the face with a rolled up newspaper and sent, tail between our legs, to an afternoon in a kennel.

I'll admit that I've tried this method with people. Neither my sister or the now ex-friend appreciated the treatment very much though. Whilst we reprimand our animals for their badness, they frequently show more humanity than we ever could. There's a clip on Youtube that could wrench the guts out of even the most hardened criminals. It depicts a dog being hit by a car on the highway. None of the drivers stop for him. He lies there, crumpled and broken while the assholes in their sedans drive passed, content in their hybrid, air-conditioned, gass-spewing pouches of vehicular safety. Another dog, who witnessed the dramatic hit from the pavement, puts his own life on the line to cross the bustling highway to retrieve the injured dog. He places both of his front paws around the patient and drags him to the safety of the pavement. The “humanity” encased in metal speed passed, oblivious to the miracle enrolling on the tar outside. Tell me, who was more humane? The rescue dog, who saved the life of the other on his own munition, or the drivers who ignored the whole scenario?

I've considered convincing others to no longer refer to anyone being humane. Rather, try “hamsterane,” “canine,” even “frogane.” Anything but humane. We need to stop bigging ourselves up, inflating our already Zeppelin-like heads, hero-worshipping, pretending that the sun shines out of our every orifice. We do not rule the world, we're just labouring under the misapprehension that we do. Viva la era of caninity. Dogs, I will follow you into the vicious throngs of battle.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Ubernormal Activity

I sat in front of a big black box for almost three hours yesterday. My mind was blank, numb, mush. My legs seized up from the weight of my body crushing down on to them. I didn't move. I sat, mesmerized by the flashing imagery before me. My mouth hung open, not slightly, but wide enough for dribble to trace its way around the crevices of my mouth and down into a safe nestle on my chin.
My hair stuck up like a cruel Don King impersonation, my hands lay abandoned somewhere near my lap. My eyes widened, drawing parallels to walnuts, dinner plates, bush babies. I breathe erratically, in, out, in, in, out, gasp, in, out. I shudder, I twitch, I smile mischievously. I relish every minute of it.

I am an undercover horror movie junkie.

Every fright stings my nervous system with piercing jolts. Adrenaline pumps through my veins like a power surge, increasing my heart beat, shaking me to my core. Every time some unsuspecting victim gets his head sliced off by an axe-wielding maniac, I let loose an initial nervous giggle, followed a witch's cackle. I savour each blood-curdling scream, appreciating every organ explosion with gusto. Ah, nothing beats the sweet smell of fear in the morning.

My penchant for the gory is shared by millions. We like to instil a safe rush of adrenaline, we enjoy the thrill without the possibility of hurting ourselves. Watching horror movies is the equivalent to a kiss from your great aunt Martha, It's going to terrify the life out of you, but at least you know that at the end of it, you'll be unharmed, if a smidgen shaken. It's the injection of excitement that we all crave in our mundane lives. We grow fearful everyday of he pains and terror around us, yet we still put ourselves through the Exorcist every few months or so. Is it to ensure our livelihood? Are we scared that, without our exasperatedly pumping hearts, we are empty, devoid of life? Do we watch them to prove that, in fact, we can take the fear? That we are stronger than we let ourselves believe?

Whatever your reason may be for scaring the bejesus out of yourself, horrors can teach us a few important life lessons:
Never clench your teeth during a particularly nasty scene; something WILL happen that will result in you swallowing parts of your own cheek.
Don't think that it's a good idea to stroll through your house in lingerie without a weapon if someone has called to tell you that they are watching you; you will die a dismembering death.
Refrain from all forms of paranormal contact activities; someone you know WILL get possessed and kill off the rest of the family, one by one.
Don't take showers in motels. Not under any circumstance

These are all relevant and important facts of life, facts that we would be unaware of, had we not witnessed them in movies. This strikes the conclusion that a bit of fear can bring a lot of assistance to the watcher. So go ahead, make your day, watch your horror, live longer than the sissies who don't.