About Me

I ramble about a number of things - but travel experiences, movies and music feature prominently. See my label cloud for a better idea. All comnments and opinions on this blog are my own, and do not in any way reflect the opinions/position of my employer (past/current/future).

10 February 2012

Rude SAA ground staff

I fly a lot, and very often on SAA. Overall, I would say that the staff is polite and service is excellent. My recent redemption of voyager miles was an excellent case in point. Tonight, I am flying again, and have come across rude ground staff twice in 30 minutes! The first was at baggage drop off, where I was brusquely told that I was at the wrong counter and to go somewhere else, despite the counter being labeled "Fast Bag Drop". But it was not so much the message but the delivery of the message.

But the latter scene was inexcusable. While waiting for the plane to commence boarding, there were two ground staff sitting opposite. A gentleman, who was also on the same flight enquirer whether he was in the right place and why the plane wasn't boarding. The response was not, we aren't ready yet or directing him to the right person, but stating that he should look at the board and it will tell him when boarding would commence. The man was clearly bewildered so he approached the ground staff at a rival airline at the next counter who were far more helpful.

SAA was recently awarded the best airline in Africa for service, and has been for a number of years. At this rate maybe it won't stay like that for much longer.

Boring Piano - JPO's 1st 2012 Season 1st Concert

The first JPO concert in the new year started off quite merrily - with two dances (Polonaise and Waltz) from Tchaikovsky's opera Eugene Onegin.

The second work, featuring English pianist Michael Roll as the soloist, was Schumann's Piano Concerto. I am not sure whether it was the performance, or the the piece itself; but it was very boring. Perhaps it is a technical masterpiece, but it was not really enjoyable in my perspective.

In contrast to the concerto, Franck's Symphony in D Minor was very enjoyable. Although composed long before the advent of talking movies; parts of the score, to me, seemed straight out of a soundtrack - especially that of a thriller/adventure. Perhaps its modernity (despite being more than 100 years old) is what made it enjoyable ...

09 February 2012

Movie: Punk in Africa

One of the cool things about The Bioscope, is that it screens movies, that would otherwise not get a screening at South African movie theatres. Punk In Africa, is a documentary on punk music - from the late 1970's to 2011 (when it was filmed) - predominately in South Africa, a bit of Mozambique and Zimbabwe and a couple of mentions of the rest of Africa. The definition of punk is fluid; and covers - as far as the bands that are covered - rock, reggae, ska and a bit more. The common thread, be it bands from the way past such as National Wake; to the modern Fuzzigish and Hog Hoggidy Hog; is their focus on societal protest.

With a lot of archived footage; and interviews with the band members; there is a lot of interesting tidbits like, not only were there multi-racial punk bands in the 1980's - they were very popular in the townships. With a lot of focus on pre-1994 bands, there was off course quite a lot on racial segregation and the secret police and their impact on band line-ups and performances. But the real gems in the documentary are the archived video footage of the band performances. They have also now released a compilation of the music from the documentary, which should make interesting listening.

I haven't been to see a live rock band for a long time (outside concerts for big international artists). A number of venues that I knew off in Johannesburg has closed - and I think all of the clubs featured in the movie are now gone. The lack of clubs also implies that there has been a steady decline in the popularity of the music. Is it a matter of demographics, or a lack of money (for the band members) or simply a change in musical taste - I am not sure.

06 February 2012

Getting out of Brussels (or Antwerp)...

I am thinking of going to see Rammstein in Antwerp next month (getting a scalper's ticket off course, since its all sold out). While getting to Antwerp required some creative thinking, to be fairly cheap; getting out is proving to be a lot more difficult (I need to be in Helsinki within 2 days of the Rammstein concert). I have tried a number of combinations; but the ticket prices are just astronimical (talking well into 400+ EUR price range) or at ridiculuous times.

At this rate, it just doesn't seem to be worth it ...

Movie: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

For some reason, I have never got round to reading the series by Stieg Larsson; and also didn't get round to seeing the Swedish versions of the movies when it was released in South Africa last year. On the basis of this movie, the series is definitely on my list of books to read.

The direct Swedish translation of the title "Men Who Hate Women", is so much more descriptive of the plot, than the published title. It is a crime story where two unlikely characters try to solve a decades old mystery of a missing, presumed dead, girl from a very wealthy family. And in this roller coaster, we are introduced to even more deaths, which seem to follow a connected pattern.

Brilliantly acted, stunning cinematography and a great plot all contributes towards a great movie. Despite its length, it actually doesn't feel that long - it is the best type of storytelling; one that sucks you in completely.