The difference

May 28, 2012

Scenario 1:
Daughter: I want something to eat.
Mom: I beg your pardon?
Daughter: Can I have something to eat?

Mom: Pardon?
Daughter: Please may I have something to eat?

Scenario 2:
Mom: Please will you tidy your room up?
5 minutes pass.
Mom: I asked you to tidy your room up.
5 more minutes pass.
Mom: Tidy. Your. Room. The. Fuck. Up. NOW.

Kids work their way up to politeness. Parents work their way down from it. 


Observation for the day

May 28, 2012

"Not uncomplicated" tends to make for not uncomplicated sentences.


Observation for the day

February 28, 2012

Verb is a noun.

You don't always win

February 2, 2012

I love shopping at Game. In fact, I don't even need to shop. I love just going to Game. Just being there. When I'm there it feels like a grown man's Disneyland. And you rarely have to stand in queues. I walk through the aisles marveling at all the stuff they have and how cheap it often is. Objects seem to obtain golden glows as they catch my eye. Like the briefcase in Pulp Fiction. "Come to me..." they whisper seductively. Even the 16 page supplement that comes in the local newspaper every Thursday is a highlight of my week. I look forward to getting home so I can see what Game is offering me at what price. 
   But now Walmart has bought it. If it were simply about the shopping experience, I would be even happier. I've been to a Walmart or three, and it is like Game multiplied by four or five. More stuff, more cheap, glowing more golden. But, alas, it is not simply about the shopping experience. It is also about ethics and decency and humanity, and knowing the line between those things and the bottom line on the income statement.
   I'm not talking about the issues our trade unions are worried about. I'm talking about Walmart's well-earned reputation for evil. Google it: "Walmart evil". Taking life insurance policies on your own employees and benefitting from their deaths? Call me crazy, but that kind of thing seems to me to indicate a slight deviation from the norms of playing nice.
   So, alas, I won't be spending a lot of time at Game anymore. We must do what we must do for the good of us all. It is a loss. But I guess I will live. Which is just as well. Even if I don't work for Walmart.

Shaven, not stirred.

February 1, 2012

Remember when they brought out 2 blade razors? That was a stroke of genius. Every man in the world must have tried it, and most stuck with it. Then they brought out 3 blade razors, and some men tried it, but most of us just thought, "come now, that is a bit ridiculous". Recently I was given - wait for it - a 5 blade razor. 5 blades? Really? REALLY? That is like putting 5 sugars into your coffee. Honestly, after the 3rd sugar it doesn't get any sweeter. The only shave that is closer with 5 blades is one with death. Seriously, the thing is as big as my ear. It is not a razor, it is a weapon. You should need a license to use it.

   But what I have always wanted to try is a shave, by another human, with one of those old-fashioned blades - the kind you can get at some barber shops. So today I had one. I'm a bit of a metrosexual: I've had a few manicures and pedicures (awesome, truly) and I had a facial once (didn't get the fuss). So this was in the same genre, just more butch. Because, of course, the risk is greater. You are putting your faith, trust and life in someone else's hands, literally. One little slip of that blade and it's blood squirting all over the place like a Tarantino Special. You have to sit very still. Which I did. And - I'm not just saying this to be macho - I actually wasn't as scared as I thought I might be.
   I also, sadly, wasn't as impressed as I thought I might be. I can appreciate that there is some skill in it, and it did have a kind of old-fashioned romance. But I don't think the shave was any closer than my 5 blade razor gives me, or even closer than my 2 blade razor gives me. I didn't particularly like the feel of the hot towels on my face or the smell of the shaving cream on my skin. I wish I did, but I didn't. I came, I saw, I left. And tomorrow the stubble will be back.

This is a little late...

February 1, 2012

...but then who's to say that Danica Camacho wasn't also late? Or early? The chances she was right on time are, well, I don't know what they were mathematically, but it's unlikely she was.
   Danica was born in the Phillipines on October 31st last year, and apparently she was the 7 billionth person on earth. Which, you have to admit, is kind of arbitrary. There are a few hundred babies born every minute on our planet. There are also quite a few people who die every minute. And there are people who live in the Amazon and the Gobi and Outer Mongolia and Outer Outer Greenland who have never been, and will never be, counted by any census. To say Danica was the one is absurd, obviously.

   It's true that the electronic media gives a more realistic version. A quick google search reveals that India have also claimed number 7 billion. As has China. It also reveals that some people think number 7 billion (I would write it out in numbers, but I don't know how many noughts there are) may only be born in April this year. Or may have been born before 31 October 2011. And some even claim that identifying a 7 billionth person was just symbolic. (What? Outrageous!) But I remember watching the news on October 31st, and it was presented as fact. Danica was the one. Which makes the latent conspiracy theorist in me want to come out of the closet. I don't have a good conspiracy theory on it yet, but there must be one. Rupert Murdoch and his allies running the world through propaganda. Or the illuminati. Or something.
   Personally, I feel a bit for Danica. World famous at age 1 minute. Imagine the pressure. The world population is growing, but the only way for Danica to go is down.


Newt you Beaut!

January 25, 2012

Pardon the cheesy title. I can't resist a good rhyme. Anyway, I'm sure I'm not the first person (or even the tenth) to use the line. But it's true - I do like Newt.
   It's not him, or his policies. I've never seen him speaking and I don't have much of a clue about what his policies are. No, I like him for other reasons.
   Reason 1: he has a great name. I mean, that name could belong to so many things. Newt Gingrich could be the name of a dog, like Just Nuisance, or a cartoon character, like Pepe le Pew. Or it could be a rat. Or a rock band. Or any number of vegetables. Or a medical condition. If Newt Gingrich were a person, though (which, obviously, he is, but if he were a different Newt Gingrich), he'd probably be a nerd. Newt. That is the name of someone who got teased at school. Someone diminutive and pimply.
   Reason number 2: He just won the South Carolina Republican primary, by quite a long way, which means Mitt Romney may not have the smooth run everyone was expecting a week ago, which will keep things interesting for a while. Okay, it may only be for a week. But I hope it's a while. Because, frankly, I am following this race with unfathomable interest. I say unfathomable because, from here at the bottom of Africa at least, the contest is quite funny in the way it lacks substance. They think they are gunslingers but they are really like children. They say what they think their parents, I mean voters, want to hear. And they call each other names. 
   Which reminds me, isn't Mitt Romney another great name? Not as great as Newt Gingrich, but better than Ron Paul or Rick Perry. I don't get the two first names thing. I'd get confused and call them Paul Ron, or Perry Rick. And then you know how Americans do that thing with the first initial and the last name? So Perry Rick would be P-Rick. I don't think that is befitting of a prez. So if it were about names, which it almost is, Mitt or Newt would have to be the ones.
   I say Newt wins by 12.


The Man In The Bad Suit

December 7, 2011

I was at the licensing department the other day. The one on the Foreshore, that people hate going to, because the queues are always very long and they always move very slowly. For that reason, I got there early. And it was a good thing, because the queue wasn't too long. There was another reason it was a good thing I got there early, but I'm coming to that.
   So there I was with my yellow form, which I had to hand in because I had sold my car and needed to de-register it. (For more back-story, see the post titled "I Know What Smokers Know".) And as I stood in the queue and waited, I beheld what was around me, I thought, "this is a great leveller". In New York, even the mayor takes the train. He sits there with the bums and beggars. This sort of thing - where people from completely different backgrounds, with completely different lifestyles, find themselves occupying the same space for a period of time - still rarely happens in South Africa. It's true that the very rich are unlikely to be at this specific place, because they buy new cars from dealers who do the licensing and de-licensing for them. But in all other ways, the people in the room were very different from each other and were unlikely to find themselves together ordinarily.
   There was something pleasing about this thought, and it made the wait not so unbearable, and it seemed not to take that long for me to get to a window to hand in my yellow form. I smiled at the lady on the other side of the glass and she smiled back. We exchanged helloes. And then our attention was abruptly drawn to a sound coming from behind me. I turned to see a short white man in a large and badly fitting suit at another window talking at a volume that was audible to everyone else in the room. More accurately, at a volume that was hard to ignore. And indeed, everyone else in the room had stopped what they were doing to look at him.
   "Are you telling me I need to go to another office? You must be joking," the man in the bad suit said, loudly. "I haven't got the time for that!" Most people stood still. One or two smiled.
   "Who is going to pay for my time?" the man in the bad suit asked, not at all rhetorically. 
   The lady behind his glass didn't answer him. More people were smiling. One or two were chuckling a little. The man in the bad suit continued to throw his toys. Then he left the window and, grumbling, passed me on his way out, his badly fitting trousers scraping the floor.
   He was the second reason it was good I got there early. If I'd got there later, I'd have missed him. The man who thought he was better than everyone else. While everyone else thought they were better than him.




October 2, 2011

This is not a post about dogs. It's not about what it was going to be about, either, which was another acronym. An acronym about acronyms. Specifically, Acronyms I Hate Or Love: AIHOLs. 

Okay, I know, it's a cheap shot. It's like putting a girl on the cover of a guys' magazine. Serious editors hate doing it, but the the truth is, it sells magazines. I know, because I know a guy who used to edit a guys' magazine, and he told me that the one month they put a guy on their cover, their sales dropped.

Anyway, in trying to find a pic for this post, the post itself changed form being about acronyms to arseholes. Because when you do a google image search for "asshole" or "arsehole", you don't get arseholes. Not anatomical ones. You get lots of the cheeks, but none of the holes. You also get pics of people who other people think are arseholes. Same with "ass". (No pics of donkeys by the way. Or "btw", as they say in Acronymia. And, btw, "btw" is an acronym I neither hate nor love.) 

I tried "bum" and i got tons of pics of some Asian guy called "Kim Bum". He didn't seem to mind, though. He was smiling in every pic. 

I eventually found these dogs on page 8 of my search for "browneye", in between hundreds of pics of exactly what you would expect to find. Brown eyes.

I'll leave you with a bonus treasure I found in my searches, courtesy of


I know what smokers know

September 27, 2011

I have never been a smoker. In all my 39.75 years, I have probably smoked a total of between 1 and 2 cigarettes, all in single puffs. I do not enjoy the experience. But that is neither here nor there. What is is that I have long been aware of and curious about a certain code or culture that exists between smokers, and only between smokers. If you're not a smoker, you don't know what smokers know. It's not deliberate exclusion. It's just the way it is.

What I mean is that there are all kinds of signs and ettiquettes between smokers. For example, they can probably tell by the way someone holds a cigarette if he/she is new at smoking, an occasional smoker or an old hand. There are certain ways that men should hold their sticks if they want to appear manly and certain ways women should hold theirs if they want to appear womanly. Then there are the different kinds of smokers, for example, the moochers, who never have their own smokes and "borrow" from others, promising to return the favour but never actually returning the favour. Etcetera etcetera. 

If I ever decided to become a smoker, it would not be for the tobacco, but to know and understand these things more. I suppose there is a little bit of that inherent human need for belonging behind this. And one can find it in many ways. I'm sure body builders have their own kind of knowing. Gamers, too. I once used a word that I thought would grant me acceptance in the gaming world (the word was "nail", as in "I nailed it") but it only showed up my ignorance (the correct word, apparently, is "own", as in "I owned it" - consider yourself warned).

But I think I may be about to legitimately enter and belong to a similar clan. I may buy an Alfa. I went to see one on a whim, and I was in love before I turned the key. In my subsequent weeks of looking at and driving them, I have come to know that if you are not an Alfa lover, you tell jokes like "the best two days of an Alfa owner's life are the day you get the car and the day you sell it", but if you are an Alfa lover, there is an unspoken understanding about the joys of driving them. In my conversations with reluctant Alfa sellers (and they are all reluctant), I have come to know that once you are an Alfa lover, you are always an Alfa lover (even if you have only ever owned one, although that is rare). And I have come to know that there is a knowing but welcoming acknowledgement of newbies like myself, as epitomised by one man's observation: "So this will be your first Alfa." It sounded a bit like I was about to have my first hit of heroin. And I liked it.

They say that people find rational reasons to justify emotional things. So here's my rationale: 
a pack of smokes costs, what, R35? Times that by 365 and it comes to almost R13 000 a year. Times that by however many years you like. All I'm doing is spending money I saved by not smoking. 

See you on the road.

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