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).

27 April 2013

Movie: Oblivion

In Arthur C Clarke's Space Odyssey series, a mysterious space object ends up being the guiding force behind humanity. Oblivion is in some respects the ultimate tribute to sci-fi movies, with a number of interesting references, and a mish-mash of plots borrowed from some of the best out there.

Ultimately, it actually works; although there are some elements that doesn't make as much sense - like the seemingly inconsistent manner of earth's destruction, and the really stupid final scene. But overall, it is an interesting and entertaining concept that is worth watching.

26 April 2013

Blue Bird Food and Goods Market

M's friend wanted to meet at a neighborhood market round the corner from the apartment in Muizenberg tonight, so we went round. It's amazingly busy, with a number of food stalls that overwhelms the senses. There is a lot more food than goods, and has a very cool vibe.

Moyo's Courtyard at the Clock Tower

I haven't been to the Clock Tower side of the V&A for a long time, so I am not sure when the Paulaner Brauhaus gave way to Moyo. On the courtyard, there is quite a cool collection of "street food" booths, an installation of hydroponics and solar panels; which is quite impressive to see. Some of the booths have interesting names, and if it wasn't for waiting staff and Moyo being emblazoned everywhere, it would even look authentic!


When they were last in South Africa 7 years ago, James Hetfield promised that they would be back. 5 years after their last studio album, they were - better late than never I suppose. I had bought tickets in Cape Town simply because the Golden Circle tickets in Jo'burg were sold out; and the Cape Town concert was later split into two, performing at the Belville Velodrome instead of the Cape Town Stadium. Given the half full Bellville Velodrome on Thursday night, the motivation for the move was quite clear ... although the sparse crowd was still quite surprising.

The concert started with local band Van Koke Kartel. Although 50% of the band is also part of Fokofpolisiekar, I didn't find the music as catchy and energetic. That is not to say that the performance wasn't energetic; but there was something missing.

After a fairly length break (of about an hour!) Metallica finally arrived, and the venue at least didn't feel half-full. Metallica have progressed to the stage of aging rockers, a fact acknowledged by James Hetfield after playing one of their early classics. The concert however wasn't devoid of modern gizmos, with a very impressive video wall and pyrotechnic sequences. 

It was a "greatest hits" type of show, with a performance spanning about 2 hours. All the big hits were performed, with a lot of energy from both the band and the crowd. It was a great concert performance, and definitely enjoyed attending!

25 April 2013

The Shinning Girls

At the book launch last week, Arthur C Clarke winner, Lauren Beukes, commented on how easy it is to describe the plot of her new book - "Time Traveling Serial Killer". Unlike unlimited powers of time travel, the villain, Harper, is fairly restricted to when he can travel, and the medium of time-travel is quite interesting.

Set in Chicago, across a period of approx 70 years, Harper kills women - specifically shining women, whose murders seem to power the time travel itself. You meet the victims, usually twice - Harper first stalking them in their youth and then on their day of their death. And like all good serial killers ought to do, Harper, leaves some trademark signs - that are indistinguishable across time.

The story of the hero, Kirby, the lone survivor, and her pursuit of Harper, is woven alongside Harper's exploits. Like Zoo City's Zinzi, she is a strong female lead character/detective who has her own demons to fight and she pursues the killer as much for vengeance as for justice.

In the M&G review, the reviewer comments that The Shining Girls, leaves no comment on society, and doesn't "change your consciousness or your life". No, it doesn't; but that doesn't detract from a very well written story with a great plot. That alone should be the reason to read a book; not every great book needs to be a dissection on the human condition.

21 April 2013

Blacks Only Comedy Show - Sandton 2013

As it seems traditional, David Kau started the show with a census of the audience  (of a sold out show, of over 4000); including a request for all Chechens with backpacks to leave the room. Apart from recent events, South African politics was a major theme from all the comedians on the bill, with Zuma, Zille and Gwede Mantashe being popular targets. And as ever, David Kau was brilliant as a host and MC - and his own routines were sometimes far better than the featured comedians!

The show started with KG, from Cape Town - who played on the link between his name and his large size. Apart from the seemingly mandatory fat jokes, his best jokes revolved around the issue of struggle credentials - how is it, he asked, that there seems to be only so few people with struggle credentials; as every one with a tender seems to have struggle credentials, but not the other way round. It was a sobering reflection on corruption, a topic that was mostly left out from the other comedian's repertoire. The equally large, Jason Goliath (another person, who played on the link between his (real) name and his size), was up next. He has an amazing, preacher/motivational speaker style delivery. He largely stayed off politics, but rather told stories with humourous twists - like how, he, a big fat guy, won a tennis tournament in school - as well as some amazing interpretations of a scene from Taken 2 (with corresponding accents).

The two feature performers were on either side of the break - starting with Marc Lottering. Unlike Jason Goliath's large booming voice, Mark's was softer, but still delivered in a preacher style. There was quite a few jokes around social media (on Twitter and Facebook) and a cut out to an audience member who was taking a photo on her cell phone, while Marc was talking about how every action was now being photographed and uploaded to Facebook and Twitter was particularly ironic.

The standout performance of the evening was ventriloquist Conrad Koch and his puppet Chester Missing - a blistering political analysis and commentary across the spectrum. It was the act that brought out the biggest laughs, and pushed some big boundaries. I have seen a few skits on Late Night News (on e-TV), but a live show is so much more impressive. There have been a few well known ventriloquists (Jeff Dunham comes to mind), and I think a full show of just Chester Missing's political analysis would be just as impressive.

Dylan Oliphant, a recent winner of best newcomer, delivered one liners in the style of Jimmy Carr - pushing undiscovered boundaries, and sometimes the jokes took a while to decipher for many in the audience. He doesn't yet command the stage to the same degree - but this is a performer who can easily become the next big thing. Issac Gambu finished of the evening, in a performance mainly in Zulu and Xhosa (and thus I didn't understand most of it).

At over 3 hours (including the interval), it is a show that does bring great value for money; and features excellent performances. Sandton Convention Centre is a central venue - although the bar service is slow and leaving the venue itself is quite congested.

Another Interesting Phishing Email

Earlier this week, there was an interesting mass phishing/spam email sent to a group mailing list, presumably from the "webmaster" of the webmail service. What I particularly like about it, is how legitimate it sounds, and the use of the ruse of applying better security (in this case, implementation of Sender Address Verification, anti-virus and encryption).The original address seems to be a California server on Comcast (although the IP address is apparently in Nigeria?); but the reply back is to an ISP in Chile.

Dear Subscriber,

Please, we are currently performing a database maintenance and upgrade on our webmail log for a better performance of our services to all subscribers. We are very much and indeed concerned about stopping the proliferation of spam. We have implemented a Sender's Address Verification (SAV) to ensure that you do not receive unwanted email(s) and to give you the assurance that your messages to message center have no chance of being filtered into junk email folder.

Also a DGTFX virus has been detected in your email account folder. Your email account has to be upgraded to our new and Secured DGTFX anti-virus 2013 version to prevent damages to our webmail log and files. To help us confirm and protect your account and our webmail log, please, fill the columns below and send back to us to validate your webmail account or your email account will have to be deactivated from our webmail log to avoid the spread of this virus.

Email Address:
Account Username:
Account Password:

You will be sent a password reset message in the next seven (7) working days after undergoing this process. We guarantee and assure you of more quality services at the end of this maintenance exercise and we apologize for the inconvenience this process might caused. Note also that your password will be encrypted with 1024-bit RSA keys for your password safety.

We sincerely apologize once again for this inconvenience and appreciate your help in this emergency situation.

Webmail Technical Team