Finding hope in the land issue fear

Land Expropriation is a thing we have to deal with in this New South Africa. It’s easy to slip into fear and be alarmist, but it’s a thing we have to deal with. It will slip into a race issue and will be about past sins, dignity, restoration, punishment and our generation is going to engage as avatars of our ancestors and forefathers.
 
BUT There is another conversation, based in sanity that should become the focus. Since all the declarations and moves have happened, there is a specific message our president is pushing that we must hear and ensure does not get lost in the chaos to come.
 
Expropriation without compensation will be implemented, but it must be done in a way that increases agricultural production and improves food security.
 
This is a global concern and needs to be the focus of the sane. This is a cause and a fight which should be a defining aim of our nation. We must ensure the future of our country, our people and our planet.
 
Let’s not let this get lost within the righteous indignation and the hate we as South Africa’s are so good at accessing.
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Solidarity

Yesterday was a day of empowerment! As a white male South African, I represent so much ugliness to people who have been affected by white oppression. I acknowledge that. I will fight for what I believe in. I will raise my nothing voice and contribute. Why? Because I have a label of privilege, let me use it. Because I am white, let me use it. Because I am a minority, I have to use it. Not for me. I do it for those who hate me most. For the ideals in which I believe. I understand the distrust. But still I rise for something greater than myself.

Yesterday was a day of empowerment! As a white male South African, I represent so much ugliness to people who have been affected by white oppression. I acknowledge that. I own that. I will fight for what I believe in. I will raise my nothing voice and contribute. Why? Because I have to. To do the right thing. Because I have a label of privilege, let me use it. Because I am white, let me use it. Because I am a minority, I have to use it. Not for me. I do it for those who hate me most. For the ideals in which I believe will benefit those who need it most. I understand the distrust. But still I rise for something greater than myself.


We protest for those who cannot speak, whose voice is not heard, be it a result of fear, hate, ignorance, apathy, circumstance, belief or comfort, we march for you, for our shared interest and destiny.

We protest today, to stand up and declare, “Not this time!” We are aware of the power that resides in idleness, and we are prepared to own the guilt of our inaction, no matter our station, we commit to ensuring inaction is not a curse upon this land again.

We protest because of our race in a racial society, a society which even if inherited, we choose to maintain. We acknowledge the futility of maintaining this history, which exists not only from within but also without our borders, bringing us to this precipice, demanding that we take a stand.

We protest out of shame and guilt, not to assuage it, but to acknowledge and own that we and those who came before, have brought upon South Africa this saddest of days. We are complicit in the state of the country and commit to the necessary change. And we will commit ourselves to accepting the lesson, as tough as it needs be.

We protest for the dreams of dreamers, too numerous in nationality and race to be named; for the idealism of thinkers and martyrs; and the hopes and prayers of a shared destiny which unifies them. We do this for all the heroes who have arisen in times like these. We have inherited, even if only the smallest part or influence, the narrative which we seek to change, and we can each only do our small part in this, loudly and proudly.

We protest for an identity, for a day when being South African will be a label of pride that transcends the boundaries which define our existence in this space and time today, as they too extend and exist across the global stage. That we may be the beacon of light which leads the world, that this too our children can inherit.

We protest as those before did, and we commit to our fellow South African, that there is a dream, we may not be able to see it or define it, we may not agree on it, but we know that on days like these, when injustice rears its head to falter the realisation of our potentiality, what the dream is not, and we owe it to our legacy and future to refrain from passivity.

We protest for the truest victims, the hopeless and lost, which we have raised. The petty and hardened criminals, the homeless and destitute. The window washer, the hooligan, the begger and car watcher. The drug dealer and addict. She reduced to appraising her flesh. The rural. The urban. The worker. The miner whose toil in the soil leads him closer than any other to an understanding of his final resting place.

We protest like we have never protested before, to support each other, every man, woman and child, in the hope that we may not just be acknowledged when unified,as we have been in moments of liberation, and in the kick-off of celebration, but that this unification we have experienced before becomes entrenched in our DNA.

We protest in the hopes that this will be the moment which may further free our nation from her bonds. That from this day we will ensure the atrocities of the past are never forgotten, and that we will commit to working tirelessly to confronting and owning our legacy and making the necessary change, and to ensuring that the unity we have felt on our brightest days, is treasured and honoured and sustained.

We protest to stand our ground, and are committed to being a participating member of this land, as inconvenient and uncomfortable as it may seem.

We protest in an act of hope and trust, committing to the above so as to ensure that we acknowledge and will not forget or undermine or devalue, the lives and experiences of those who suffered before.

We protest for each other. Not blind to race, but aware of it. That the colour of our skin has influence, whether it is the birthright of a powerful majority rising to claim, or the waning privilege of a powerful minority – that as a nation we can achieve the seeming impossible, as we have done before when we were most afraid.

We protest in the hope that our areas of influence may benefit each other justly to a shared aim. That our hopes for this phoenix of a nation may arise again, and always triumph over the polarising evil which would seek to divide us yet again.

We protest at the risk of being futile, but faithfully knowing that each step is in the right direction. Belief in doing the right thing is central to our purpose. May every South African be blessed with the belief that their path is the right one. We honour every point of view, even those most in opposition of our own. We are all free to participate in this democracy. Be constructive. Let the most destructive forces fall!

We protest in solidarity.

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Blue Jasmine (2013)

A former New York socialite, arrives in San Francisco to impose upon her sister. But don’t be fooled… She may look like a million bucks (and know it), but she ain’t bringing anything of value…

Blue_Jasmine_posterA funny thing happened. Initially I was not a huge fan of this movie, this is exactly how I started my first review of this website when I was blogging on another site.

I think it may have something to do with the fact that I have never been a fan of Cate Blanchett. However in this role she really does excel. She would go on to win an Academy Award for her performance here and it is an interesting one for me, because she was up against Sandra Bullock (cue High-School-and-Ever-After Crush admission) and Meryl Streep in August Osage County (a performance which actually left me slack-jawed the first time I watched it, and yes I know it’s Meryl Streep, but…). That said, she did win it (like she pretty much cleaned up the entire awards season), and she earned it… This is more of a performance piece than a movie, I found myself watching just to see the titular character brought to life – Jasmine/Jeannette really is a piece of work.

It should be noted that I am a Woody Allen fan, this is not my favourite movie of his, and it’s movies like this which make people scared of Woody Allen (well this and the child molestation claims), but the brilliance of Woody is his ability to extract powerful performances out of his actors.

The supporting cast is great (except for the always cringe-worthy Alec Baldwin as Jasmine’s philandering, cringe-worthy, crook of a husband – so perfectly suited). A special shout out to Oscar nominated Sally Hawkins in the role of Jasmine’s sister Ginger, but ultimately everything about this movie merely serves as a backdrop to the Character of Jasmine – you know when you meet people who are so self-involved, so self-delusional, so selfish, so rude, so snobbish, so pretentious, so… worthy of a slap – Cate Blanchett in this movie makes me want to slap her, and for that I can only really say – job well done.

I would not recommend this movie to just anyone, it ain’t no slice of fun, this is reserved for serious movie watchers, because you will not get the satisfaction unless you are appreciative of performance pieces. Cate Blanchett is a woman unravelling. On the brink. Again. Her perfect life swept out from under her feet, her anxiety levels pushed over the edge, self-destructive and teetering between the carefully constructed self she has been and most desires to be, and the reality of her reality and actual existence…

Ultimately, and ironically, I was surprised at just how disappointed I was when it ended… It’s the car crash syndrome, you just have to stop and look, I didn’t want to be torn away. I really could have watched some more, Cate Blanchett is just that good.

Blue Jasmine sarring Soz3

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Tech-No-Go-No…

I’ve seen Terminator, The Matrix, iRobot
I know what the future holds

Okay, Okay, I’ll look at this Pokemon-a-go-go thing…

But first I have to check my emails, I have three accounts… I think…

… Twitter… Facebook… Instagram…

Where’s the coffee? Pfft! Nope. Nespresso please….

Can you bring me my cup warmer, the one with the USB I can plug into my laptop…

Oh, what’s happening on the blog?

Really gotta get into this Pinterest thing… Oh look! A board on boards…

Put some Netflix on in the background…

…No not that one, that’s for the DVD player…

…Nope, that’s the media player…

…DSTV… Disconnected that…

It’s through the Playstation 3. I know, ain’t got the 4 yet…

Oh wait, I have to show you this Youtube clip…

Lol! And this one… Okay, One more!!!

Sci-Fi, CGI, Animation, Motion Capture, 3D, iMax

I’ve seen Terminator, The Matrix, iRobot

I know what the future holds

Have you heard that new song by that new artist… Whatsizname?

Ipod? Itunes? No… I don’t have the CD… Lolz – remember cassettes?

Tomorrowland!!! Electro…

Oh!!! Thanks for reminding me. Mustn’t forget to charge my Kindle,

What did I do with the Power Bank Now? Oh no! Cables?

Windows 10… Went Android… Nope Ipad…

Oh look what’s trending…

No! Wait! Sometimes it just feels like chaos.

Digital Noise

Let’s stop, because in among all this craziness there is actual power!

There is so much connectedness and technology all around us.

We can actually change the world with the power we have access to.

Home of Hope People! There’s a Kickstarter campaign on Thundafund.

Technology that can save lives. Check it out here 🙂

We need to make real change happen…

OMG! is that the time already Siri?

Okay, Okay, I’ll look at this Pokemon-a-go-go thing…

Tomorrow…

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Hitchcock (2013)…

To the likes of Ed Wood, The Aviator and Chaplin, comes Hitchcock…

That shower scene!

Psycho, shot completely in black and white. She stands there. Naked. Scarlett Majojo as Janet Leigh. The music rises. The shower curtain is drawn back by a silhouetted figure. Brandishing a knife. “Janet” screams. The knife comes at her.

“No, No. No!” the director yells.

He grabs the knife from the extra and viscously commences stabbing at (but not really of course) poor Janet with vigor – now she’s really screaming, Alfred Hitchock is coming at her with a knife. I do enjoy movies about movies – the making of, the inspiration behind the scenes, the process and personalities… I even admit to enjoying “making of” documentaries and audio commentaries.

So, to the likes of Ed Wood, The Aviator and Chaplin, comes Hitchcock.

Psycho is arguably Hitchcock’s finest work and this movie introduces us to a version of Alfred Hitchcock, or “Hitch”, as he commences the journey to make the film that would usher in a new age of cinema (and now a pretty impressive age in television with The Bates Motel).

Hitchcock Rating PosterThis biopic of sorts is a tongue in cheek characterization of the real life character we have come to know as the well caricatured portly, stern and gruff Alfred Hitchcock, a representation portrayed by the equally brilliant Sir Anthony Hopkins (Huh – A.H portraying/portrayed by A.H). But there’s a lot more to enjoy here than the brilliance of Hopkins, in this movie there is a stellar cast to match the lead actor:

  • Helen Mirren as Alma Reville, Hitch’s beloved and equally matched wife who grapples with his penchant for his blonde leading ladies.
  • Scarlett Majojo (Johansson) as Janet Leigh. Scarlett Majojo, yet again surprising me at just how good she actually is, not just as eye-candy, I am surprised that I am consistently surprised.
  • Jessica Biels as Vera Miles, contractually obliged to perform for Hitch, and living up to her have-to-casting by him, the thorn in his side.
  • Toni Colette as Peggy Robertson, Hitch’s secretary, a small role, but a role completely owned by Toni.
  • James D’Arcy as Anthony Perkins, and there his is on screen (if not enough), Anthony Perkins.
  • Kurtwood Smith (or is it Red Forman) as Geoffrey Shurlock.

Aside from Dame Helen Mirren’s character which is central to Hitch’s character development in this movie, the ying to his yang as it were; all others are slight characters who while playing in Hitch’s movie (and the movie within the movie) are all but aspects to the passion project and journey Hitch is on.

I love Psycho, so a movie about Psycho and Hitchcock is just entertaining for me, and the fact that the movie does not take itself too seriously, while absolutely honouring the subject, well that’s just good fun. It’s not the perfect movie, it definitely left me with a feeling of wanting more…

Hitchcock starring Soz

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Don Jon (2013)

For Don Jon it’s all about:
“My body; My pad; My ride; My family; My church; My boys; My girls; My porn”.
Read the Review here…

For my second movie review in which I am revisiting my movie reviews from a previous blog I was involved in, I am taking a trip to the comedic genius that is Don Jon.

I LOVE THIS MOVIE!

Oh my hat, am I surprised at how much I enjoyed Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Don Jon.

But then again, from the moment I saw the trailer, I thought ‘I wanna check that movie out’… And then I did. And then I really enjoyed it. And then I was sad that it was all over. So then I showed it to my fiancee. And then I enjoyed it all over again. And she enjoyed it (which is a win because she falls asleep in movies, Grrr, she made it through though). But then I was sad all over again that it was all over…

Continue reading “Don Jon (2013)”

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Defending Madiba

I cannot believe that we live in a time where on the day of Elie Wiesel’s death, the day that Night fell upon the light it produced, that today of all days, I am penning a post entitled ‘Defending Madiba’.

TRIGGER WARNING: POLITICAL COMMENTARY; RHETORIC WHICH CAN BE LABELLED WHITESPLAINING WHICH IS SYMPTOMATIC OF THE WHITE FRAGILITY WHICH WILL BE EVIDENCED BY THE AFORE-MENTIONED ‘SPLAINING THAT IS WHITE…

OH! IT’S A LONG ONE!!! 

I actually cannot believe that I am sitting here thinking about how I am going to construct this post…

I cannot believe that we live in a time where on the day of Elie Wiesel’s death, the day that Night fell upon the light it produced, that today of all days, I am penning a post entitled ‘Defending Madiba’. It has been brewing for a while, this need to say something, to offer a perspective, an admittedly white one which wants to now defend a legacy which is slowly being dismantled and dragged through the proverbial mud.

It commenced with a tweet stream shared on Facebook:


1I do not agree with an approach to a topic in which the achievements of a mere human being; an individual who has stepped into the role of leader during a tumultuous time; a man who took on the role to lead, inspire and direct the course of a damaged country as an ideological proponent and ambassador, can be so flippantly undermined and disregarded, while at the same time an admission to the fact that a civil war was avoided by his choices are so matter of factly stated.

Think about it… The man’s Rainbow Nation unification ideal prevented a civil war. Only a civil war. Only murders, deaths, kills. Bloodshed. Stats really.

A man. Madiba. Any of us could have done that right? A man. What makes a man? Who knows for certain what the burden and thoughts about his actions and decisions meant to his self assessment of his work? Is a man only human?

Was the atrocity of the apartheid legacy lost during that time, whitewashed? I don’t have all the answers. I Believe that yes it was. I imagine that the state controlled news sought to hide and downplay the atrocity of it, kinda like the SABC does today? No longer in Mandela’s control, there have been two full presidencies since his one term “reign” which could have un-whitewashed his terrible contribution to the South Africa we live in today… Did Mandela make concessions? Yes, I am sure he did. I am sure that like any other leader, he was just a man, approaching the problems before him in what he believed was the best way to do so – hmmm… How interesting. Just a man. Not God. A mere mortal. Who inspired a people. Who inspired the globe in a way that his own constituents were not even aware of. Who prevented a war…


2Hindsight. That wonderful space where armchair critics get to operate.

I admit it, there hasn’t been enough done to address the issues that exist as part of the inherent legacy of apartheid. But maybe our Doctors should be focussing on healing, plumbers focussed on drains, pilots keeping aeroplanes in the sky. Maybe parents and teachers were selfishly more concerned about ensuring that their own children got the best chance at a future in uncertain times, that therefore they never actually read the “How to be a Rainbow Nation” handbook…

Oh wait, there is no handbook is there, was there? There was too much practical work done around creating an ideology which a single man believed to be the best approach to ensuring a future for this country. A black man in post-apartheid South Africa. A former political prisoner with full capability to create a nation soaked in the blood of vengence. A black former political prisoner in post-apartheid South Africa who wasted his time and breath and life in trying to steer us away from a civil war… Stupid man…

I must say I have heard it said many a time, in amongst calls for genocide, that “white people were given a get out of jail free card.” Ummm, no they/we weren’t, because get out of jail free implies freedom from the jail which imprisoned us, where was the memo issued to our parents that directed them on where to report to for parole evaluation and community service? The onus was on white people to know that they should do this… How and when? Who said so? I honestly believe that when you hear the majority of white people exclaim in perceived ignorance and surprise that there is and was an onus on them, it’s because they really are ignorant and surprised. Point? Maybe the white person who says “but I have black friends”, is someone who happens to have black friends, and who genuinely believes that they are doing enough in appreciating their friends despite of and because of the colour of their skin, while unblocking drains, performing open-heart surgery and flying terrorists to far off lands.

And as for the idea that Germany is the handbook… Rainbow they are not! They have had seventy one years to rebuild their economy, the rebuild included breaking down a divisive wall which cut the country in half. They also had their get out of jail free card when 17 billion marks of debt was written off (in 1953, 17 billion, that’s alot today), and a 30 year extension on the remaining 15 billion marks was given, allowing them the greater latitude to take better control of their financial destiny and opportunity of investment into building a Germany they could be proud of… A Germany that doesn’t believe in writing off debt. And yes, there is something to be said about the fact that in that there was a space to focus on the human decency in school which teaches them that Nazism, concentration camps and genocide are bad – I also remember learning that in school in History, I’m sure that in our super connected modern world many people know this is wrong…

It’s intrinsic common human decency (except on South African social media), and I can tell you this with unqualified certainty, that the majority of white people in South Africa today do not think that apartheid was an awesome idea, or actively call for genocide and the mass murder of black babies.


3Could we/they, white South Africans, learn and do more? Yes for sure, please step away from your scalpel, put your wrench down, and let go of the steering wheel, don’t you focus on the futures of your kids, they need to be secondary to the lessons that need to be taught but for which no agreed process or handbook exists. We can’t even agree on the validity of reverse-racism, whitesplaining vs blacksplaining, freedom of speech, censorship, the role of satire, how parliament should work, the role of the public protector, the SABC, state funds or the president himself…

What do we know for certain? That if you have the opportunity in your lifetime to steer your nation away from a civil war, think twice, for that may not be the decision which needs to be made, maybe we should relook at the advantages of a civil war, we can get vengence, put people in concentration camps and maybe throw a little genocide into the mix… We are just people after all. We are merely men (and women). It’s only natural for man to engage in war right? One man cannot be lauded with the attribution of merely avoiding that in the pursuit of a greater ideal, could he?

For surely if he did something so atrocious as to lead a country down the wrong path for 5 years, 17 years and two presidents from the same party controlled government ago, he must be solely to blame? It cannot be the same party who has done nothing to correct the false course that crazy man set us on, could it? No, that would be tantamount to white people not accepting their role in getting us to this point, because white people have all the power you know, they are solely responsible for our current state! Average white people, who don’t understand sociology, psychology, philosophy, political discourse and that atonement is more than just an olden day British movie starring Keira Knightley which sometimes plays when there should be other exciting, informative and educational movies like White Chicks to watch; the average white people should have psychically known that it was and is their role to take a stand during and after apartheid, and that being that they are ignorant (which is the root of all prejudice) they should magically discover what there ignorance induced limitations are, and address them. Silly, white, just people…

Perhaps, just perhaps, the same will be said of all South Africans today in the future. A lack of accountability for our actions. A lack of focus. A lack of the kind of idealism and unity that has built great nations. Like a nation united by a leader of substance and idealism. An approach that would seek to unify us, people of all colours, together, like the colours of the rainbow. Together. Standing up and collectively taking ownership of the cause, instead of expecting those who know no better to know better. That as the minority, we must solely effect the kind of change that would be easier for a majority to achieve. Where’s my “I am David” t-shirt, when i wake up tomorrow it’s my duty to take on Goliath… I’m just a man after all, I can do this right? Can’t I? One man can inspire and steer the masses towards unity against the insurmoutable right? Wouldn’t it be great if there was such a legacy to aspire to?


4Because, 20 years ago I thought I had a great leader, and I thought this because he did manage to steer us away from a civil war, but I am sitting here now going that this terribly flawed human being had misled me and an entire nation. So now I must do something about this because as a white man it all sits on my shoulders. I must atone. And as an individual I do, I really and truly do apologise that I am a benefactor of a systemic anomaly which resides within the system (it’s Matrix-y, but really it’s not flippant because); this anomaly has the minority in a position of power over the majority, because being white of skin affords me the financial and social advantages which the majority have been, and are, unable to attain unless I and all like me “atone” – and what does that look like…

Well I should know, I’m white. I cannot ask a person of colour for guidance, I have in fact been told categorically by “learned” peoples of colour (learned because obviously they’ve been through all of this before and they have a handbook I don’t have access to apparently); that it is not the role of black people to hear us, answer our questions, work with us, they’ve given us more than enough. This is a white issue, we must figure it out for ourselves… Hmmm…

Now here is the irony. Our country is in turmoil, and the majority is in power, any action of meaning the minority takes would imply that because we are on our own in this space, we would need to make a movement, a movement meaningful enough to effect change implies a force of power, and we would need to get it right to a standard which would be set on-the-fly by a majority that does not want to engage with us on what said movement should  look like. This force to effect change, uninformed by the input of the majority which is essential to it’s success, could, if it were to not be deemed satisfactory by the majority, result in a civil war (I mean remember what happened the last time the minority white leadership “made a mistake”). Seriously, must this minority shoulder the responsibility and weight and risk (in the face of race-based/historic-based consistent prejudice), to attempt to achieve the insurmountable, so that if it fails they take the full responsibility thereof?

I absolutely do not seek to diminish the atrocities of Apartheid. I hate apartheid. I hate being a beneficiary of apartheid. I apologize for apartheid on behalf of all of mine who can’t. I live everyday knowing that this country I live in is the way it is because of apartheid, and I try in my way to actively address it…


However…

5This country is also in the state that it is in because of a systemic Bush-esque, manipulative and subliminal fear campaign which threatens the security of every man, woman and child which lives on its soil, whose ancestors are buried in its earth. If racism and systemic racism is all about power, and we want to change the society we live in, we should seek to unify, like a nation of all colours, like a rainbow.

If we go the other route, and take a minority and force them to be supplicant to the majority, we thereby endorse the establishment of a system of power based on the idea that because of a persons skin colour they are inherently an inferior class citizen of a nation divided upon racial lines. That because I am white, I must hang my head in shame, and me and my progeny must forever exist to atone for the fact that I was born in a country which was setup amorally by people who kinda looked like me (sans big nose and olive complexion) in a land that was built upon an ideology that was set to divide, and that therefore could not embrace an ideology that sought to unite…


6I know this:

All my life I’ve heard stories about children and people of colour hating on their own skin, chasing an ideal of what is beautiful and what is desirable at the cost of their own personal identity. It is atrocious that we live in a society where people hate on themselves for being who they were born to be – I never want to be one of those people, I never want to view my identity as an affliction, or to view my skin colour as an undesirable aspect of myself – I am a white man.

When I think of Nelson Mandela, I do tend to lean toward the symbolic arena, with a history like ours we deserve a legacy of esteem and pride, something and someone which speaks to the ideals we hope to live by. But I also think of a human being, an imperfect member of this human race. I hear people say “These whites and their Madiba”, what about it? What is so offensive. Do you know what about the man I hold in esteem? If I must not presume to know what goes on in the head of a person of colour, is it not a fair expectation to accept the same level of human regard and consideration. Defensive much? Sorry…

I can’t understand the need to not hold our heroes up high, to allow populist rhetoric to undermine a legacy worthy of its place in history. If he was but a pebble thrown into a lake, the power and force of that ripple has tsunami’d around the world. And it is a quintessentially South African Tsunami.

8For me, Nelson Mandela offered himself as a beacon of light, he became a major icon of a time, the face and voice of a cause that needed a face and a voice. A face and a voice that effected and inspired activation of international involvement in the fight against apartheid… A lot of that was “white” support, in a “white” world. Knowing that he had become to symbolize something greater than himself, he made decisions, often unpopular in hindsight, which fed a legacy that would be sad to be so grossly unappreciated by his own people. A legacy that demonstrated selflessness, forgiveness, humility, triumph, empathy, understanding, hope, inspiration – this is the icon, the man was a black person in South Africa, one of many who took a stand against evil, standing for what you believe in, being prepared to die for it, that alone speaks to a man who is worthy of admiration, and worthy of forgiveness himself if you are that angry.

7There is so much work which needs to be done in this beautiful land. White people holding other white people accountable is one way to do it, but I fear a different kind of divide, especially in a country where, no matter what, people will vote for the ANC, not because they are the best party, but only because of the liberation legacy. A legacy which has been destroyed over the past decade. But one that now shifts the blame to the man that ushered it into a new era. He was a human being with a huge task.  Just a man…


In closing I take it to the core. It’s motherhood week on the blog tag. Let me tell you about just a woman. I love my mother very much, I don’t agree with every decision this divorced mother of two, working four jobs made for my life. In my twenties I was damn resentful of some of those decisions, some memories of tough love still smart, but I can’t ever understand the full extent of her reasons and thoughts during that decision making process – and believe me I’ve tried, and discussed, and theorised. She was just a woman who had to make some decisions in my best interest.

It’s her 63rd birthday this week, some of those decisions she made most probably have contributed negatively to my life path, some of them toughened me up. I love my mommy. I could be angry at her until the end of her days for her mistakes. Instead, I acknowledge she is human. I trust that her intent was genuinely in my best interest. I know sacrifices were made in the hopes for my life. She has taught me in ways and with lessons that are applied, and improved on in light of her imperfections, in my raising of my kids. She set an imperfectly perfect template which I could only but hope to aspire to and improve upon. She is an amazing testament to overcoming and rising above personal circumstance and tragedy. She is a light…

I know it’s been a long one, and if you made it to this point thank you and I hope that it wasn’t a complete waste of your time. This was a free flow, but I couldn’t in good conscience not respond to the twitter thread of someone who like many of us just wants to do the right thing in this time, in this country.

“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.”

“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.

– Elie Wiesel

Now, do we really really want to take a genuine South African beacon of light; our Madiba; Nelson Mandela; Father of a Rainbow Nation, and cast him back into the Night?


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Controversy: My Emptying Cup of Give a F–k!

Trigger Warning: Political and racial commentary

Johannesburg, South Africa, 2016…

Well, one stupid post by a stupid Real Estate Agent threatened to overthrow all that is positive about the South African Dream… The South African Dream, and ideal, the legacy of Nelson Mandela, Nelson mandela himself, have all been effectively trampled on for the last couple of years…

Her name was Penny Sparrow, and she made a comparison of the throngs of black beach goers on New Year’s day, and the chaos left in the wake of said masses, to monkeys… Social media picked up on it, and the start of 2016 went spiralling down the proverbial drain, along with almost any consideration of a shared humanity and national purpose between the races in South Africa. Racism it seems is everything that is wrong with South Africa, and the fact that “whites” thought it was okay to air such rhetoric upon an unsuspecting populace was proof of this (and alot of “whites”didn’t, but they are irrelevant apparently). In the wake of this radio personalities and leading national economists were knocked down on by one, as threats of white genocide became acceptable and defensible… Controversial enough?

Lost in all of this madness were the occurrences of the year before, the allowances that have been excused have now rendered action that is currently underway permissible, and our beautiful capital city Tshwane burns tonight… We have a corrupt leadership, a Parliament that has spiralled out of control under a leadership that can only correct itself by accepting the responsibility! And yes, as Tshwane teaches us, where there is smoke there is fire! If our President is not corrupt then pass the tobasco, I have a hat to eat. Just last year we allowed our students to cause chaos and destruction, it was publicized, it was commended, and to those who witnessed the power of the students who are more privileged than they, it demonstrated that if you are angry, then be chaotic. In it’s wake we had a xenophobic catastrophe that cost people lives… People are angry, the actions of the masses which liberated a country and put people in power, is now working against them, and there will be casualties…

Controversial posts? How about not enough time to fully explore the meaning and intention of our fellow humans? I mean, this is high-level and will be interpreted, misinterpreted and perceptions will be impressed upon it. And…

Shocker! I am white! I am controversial, because not only am I white, but I am white and have an opinion… Are you angry? Provoked? Then surely I must be worthy of a death threat?

Do you know Marina Abramović? Check her out, one of the most shockingly provoking artists of the past century, and watch her documentary please – it’s amazing!!! Anyway, the reason I bring her up is because of a certain performance:

To test the limits of the relationship between performer and audience, Abramović developed one of her most challenging (and best-known) performances. She assigned a passive role to herself, with the public being the force which would act on her. Abramović placed on a table 72 objects that people were allowed to use (a sign informed them) in any way that they chose. Some of these were objects that could give pleasure, while others could be wielded to inflict pain, or to harm her. Among them were a rose, a feather, honey, a whip, olive oil, scissors, a scalpel, a gun and a single bullet. For six hours the artist allowed the audience members to manipulate her body and actions. This tested how vulnerable and aggressive the human subject could be when hidden from social consequences.[2] By the end of the performance, her body was stripped, attacked, and devalued into an image that Abramović described as the “Madonna, mother, and whore”.[2] Additionally, markings of aggression were apparent on the artist’s body; there were cuts on her neck made by audience members, and her clothes were cut off of her body.

Initially, members of the audience reacted with caution and modesty, but as time passed (and the artist remained passive) people began to act more aggressively. As Abramović described it later: “What I learned was that … if you leave it up to the audience, they can kill you. … I felt really violated: they cut up my clothes, stuck rose thorns in my stomach, one person aimed the gun at my head, and another took it away. It created an aggressive atmosphere. After exactly 6 hours, as planned, I stood up and started walking toward the audience. Everyone ran away, to escape an actual confrontation.”

Relevance? As a member of this society in which I have given but a brief glimpse of my perceptions, I have experienced two instances of “controversial” expressions of opinion biting me in the arse…

First: There was a Real Estate agent who left her dog in a company branded car. People were angry and photos were taken after she swore at members of the public who confronted her. I shared the image on her employers FB page and asked if this was okay? I, among others, tried to contact her to say it’s not okay. I then gave her the benefit of the doubt, contacting her, telling her that i was sure she was a nice lady and loved her animals, having just left them there for a moment to buy them some nibbles from the Woolies. But, by the end I had her friends phoning my house and threatening to harass me if I didn’t talk to them. My Mrs was accused of being the person who took and posted the original photo – and in all of this she never once accepted that what she had done was in any way wrong, and that it was her actions that resulted in the situation at hand… Funny that… A Real Estate Agent… Like Penny Sparrow…

Then: In the wake of all the racial tension and hatred flying so venomously around me, I requested to join a prominent Facebook Page (let’s call it A Converstion Whatsit) which advertises itself as the place to be to engage the issue of racial relations honestly. I was eventually kicked off the group as I was confronted by levels of hate I could not understand, and questioned these rather aggressively after being targeted by a specific member of the group. Ultimately all I can say about this is that white people are entitled to a voice, and offence can be issued from both directions.

The idea that reverse racism doesn’t exist is false, you may not like that, but if racism is all about power, and you exist in a domain where power is race-aligned (in a Facebook group, for example), where the colour of your skin renders you not entitled to an opinion; that if you have an opinion it is invalid because of the colour of your skin (if you are white); that if you have an opinion it will be white washed and labelled as whitesplaining; that to be a part of said group you must accept, without comment for the reasons already raised, any offensive propoganda and leftist ideology that is hurled your way; that any relationship you have with people of colour exists as a master/servant dynamic because you do not accept the “fact”, notions or attacks by people on the group; that malicious targeting and provocation on social media is acceptable by people of colour, and that a response by a white person to provocation is proof of “white fragility”, but that if you as a white person challenge or provoke then you are labelled; etcetera, etcetera and so forth…That because of the above, if you don’t align, because the colour of your skin (and only that) has fed your point of view, that because you are white in skin and opinion, well then you are exited by those in a position of power on the group… but it’s not racist (even though racism is about power, but apparently not within a social medium)…

It was rough, because the intention to engage was pure, and when I was ex-communicated and blocked, I struggled with it for a very long time as I dealt with the months of conditioning and the guilt that was flung around in the space like a bag of doo-doo attached to a ceiling fan. And then months passed, and I witnessed a person who I knew to be a member of this group launch into their self-righteous attack upon another uneducated, less-than-human, white person, on a community WhatsApp group. It was then that I realised something, an epiphany if you will,  that in having unpopular opinion, especially in public, is like being Marina Abramović, you welcome the response of the aligned hordes. The problem with aligned hordes is that not a single one can look in the mirror and intellectually quantify unanimously what aligns them, they are just wrapped up in a zeitgeist of unqualified sentiment, and armed with pieces of other people’s appetizing (to them) thinking…

The point! I don’t try to be controversial or offend, but we are how many people on this planet? There is always someone who is going to be offended, and I am always happy to apologise for offending if there is an ability to have a civilized conversation and explore the offence caused. But when it comes to self-censorship, I made a decision last week that I am ashamed by… I was tasked with a creative challenge regarding creating an image around proving Sea Monkeys in the real world, and I started and then stopped for fear of backlash… The opportunity available in the task? (Sea Mankeys, See Monkeys… I had an idea of Zuma’s head open, and where his brain should be would be a bunch of sea Monkeys driving it, Sea Monkeys… Monkeys of the Sea… Our President… Sea Monkeys, which aren’t even monkeys but are shrimp called Sea monkeys… But there’s the possibility of people reacting to the idea of the combination of Monkey, Sea and Skin colour… Our South African President is the leader of the ANC, and he’s black… Sea Monkeys… DON’T DO IT!!! What will other people think!!!), and I went in another direction, even though my response was actually not playing on the monkey aspect, it was intended to play on the idea that our presidents brain is being driven my microscopic shrimp, who happen to be called sea monkeys…

I am not the SABC (or any other government organ), I will not tell a lie. Inevitably it is I who has to look at myself in the mirror and know that I am a good person, sometimes off-sides, but never intentionally hurtful… And well I am prepared to learn and explore other opinions and thought, I care about what I care about, life is an equal opportunity, we can give life, we can take it away, and so we are equally powerful in our ability to effect and affect each other’s lives (directly or indirectly). Man, my actions up to now have had very little to do with the impending Junk Status, but I will bear the effects of it caused by other peoples actions! No matter what your defining circumstances may be, you have the ability to effect my life. So when it comes to self-censorship (even though these days, for purposes of inner-peace these kinds of post will be few and far between), I must declare that My Cup of Giving a F–k, really and truly is running empty

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The End of a Week of Books

Heya all 🙂

It has been a really busy week for me personally, and I missed a day of blogging yesterday, but not for nought – it’s hard work being a family man, so I thought I would take the time today to answer yesterdays question on The Blog Tag, as well as the end of week Q&A 🙂 I also didn’t do the tag post from Tuesday as my Monday Book Review was also about my favourite book of all time, Beloved by Toni Morrison, so that was a two for one-er – apparently while missing a day or two I also over-delivered (it’s all about balance 🙂 )!

So without further ado, My list of my Top 5 Favourite Book (Series) of all time

– Wait a minute soztheo.me, it’s your Top 5 Favourite Books of all time?

– Did you not hear me, voice on my screen, I’m over delivering here, so without further ado, soztheo.me’s favourite:

Top 5 Book Series of All Time


1. The Discworld Novels – Terry Pratchett

Over the last two years I have been on a monumental literary journey into a world I have only ever visited briefly before. I read my first Terry Pratchett novel when I was a teenager. Over the years I sporadically revisited his writing. I was always entertained but I never got into the world of Terry Pratchett until I made the decision two years ago to dive into the world whole-heartedly, committing myself to reading the entire series.

Since then I have read nineteen of the forty-one published Discworld novels, tackling them in order, reading them in between (or in conjuction with) my other readings, loving each one as this ever expanding world continues to expand in partnership with the guided realms of my imagination. It is nothing short of completely inspirational to step into the immense world of another man’s hysterically funny and entertaining inspiration.

The Witches, The Wizards, The City Watch, Death… The realisation of all these characters and their melding into the illogical-except-for-in-the-Discworld themed novels, has me absolutely in awe everytime I reach the end, and commence another journey set on a flat disc balanced on the backs of four elephants which in turn stand on the back of a giant turtle, Great A’Tuin…

May he Rest in Peace, and while he rests may his brilliance forever live.

(28 April 1948 – 12 March 2015)

“Writing is the most fun you can have by yourself.” – Terry Pratchett

2. The Vampire Chronicles; Lives of the Mayfair Witches Series – Anne Rice

It all started with a movie… The first time I ever went to a movie by myself was when I was a young impressionable 14 year old lad, the movie was Interview with the Vampire and in the viewing I was exposed to a type of story telling I had never experienced before. I loved horror movies from a very young age. As a child I grew up with entertainers for parents. I grew up watching Michael Jackson’s Making of Thriller Beta video. I grew up in a world of stage make-up. I knew that what happened on screen was the work of experts. I watched the classics, Dracula et al. However, I had never seen vampires and villains, anti-heroes, like Louis, Lestat and Claudia. I had never seen horror so grandiosely humanized and humour; so gothic; so macabre.

As soon as the movie ended I went to the bookstore and bought the book. I devoured it, a vampire upon its prey, and the love affair began. Astoundingly intricate and breathtakingly ambitious are the best ways I can think right now to describe the shared universe of the Vampires and the clan of the Mayfair Witches – two worlds from separate series that would later collide as the Vampire chronicles reached an end, from which they would again arise but a year ago. The style of storytelling that flies from the past into the present, from the metaphysical to the real. In one book we are engaging with the devil himself. In another we are re-experiencing mortality. We examine through the studying of ancient records, the lives of an entire family-lineage of witches. My favourite villain of all time, Akasha The Queen of the Damned, explodes out of these pages. Best of all, we bare witness to the creating of an entirely new mythology and rich history of vampirism, and in that we discovery the insanely rich tapestry which has born such pale spawn who will forever pale like Twilight, True Blood and Fifty Shades of Grey…

Fifty Shades of Grey? It’s strangely ironic, that this sad example of literacy, born as fan-fiction from the pale waffle of Twilight, is yet again pale against the erotic literature of Miss Rice… Look that up! The mind that birthed these is one of the most intriguing creations. When we read books or engage with any art form for that fact, it is actually the mind of the artist we engage with. It is really a footnote here, but:

1. The key Vampire Lestat is a literary representation and manifestation of Anne Rice’s husband Stan Rice;

2. Anne Rice wrote Interview With A Vampire while dealing with her daughter’s death from Leukemia – that’s blood cancer. #ArtIsPain

anne-rice4
“You do have a story inside you; it lies articulate and waiting to be written — behind your silence and your suffering.” – Anne Rice

3. The Sandman Series – Neil Gaiman

There are those who would raise an eye at the inclusion of a graphic novel series in any list pertaining to literature… Well poo to you :)! Graphic Novels have a well deserved place in literature, with the best of the best winning major literature awards, including a Pulitzer ( and that would be in 1992; Maus aka Maus: A Survivor’s Tale — My Father Bleeds History by Art Spiegelman). But my personal, most fantastical, most magical, most mythological, most inspiring-al and ambitious of these works which beautifully marry art of picture and art of word has got to The Sandman Series.

Neil Gaiman is the best friend of fantasy and genre breaking storytelling, a man whose love of fantasy has him in the good company of Terry Pratchett (with whom he collaborated on Good Omens). In his masterpiece collection of The Sandman Series, he introduces us to The Endless, anthropomorphic personifications of nature’s most confounding forces, more powerful than even the Gods and as eternal as the universe. They are the siblings, Destiny, Death, Destruction, Desire, Despair, Delirium and our chief protagonist in the tales, Dream aka Morpheus; who upon being released from a 70 year entrapment into a changed world, is reunited with his most dysfunctional of families. A family whose relationships with each other are as complex as the very idea of turning the seven forces they encompass into a dysfunctional family within the pages of a graphic novel collection spanning twelve multi-dimensional, multi-reality, truly-inspired story arcs. From the depths of Hell to the pages of Shakespeare, Neil Gaiman has comprised a collection of such grandiosity that the mind can only but be amazed 🙂

There’s It :)! 

“You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we’re doing it.” – Neil Gaiman

4. The Left Behind Series – Jerry B Jenkins and Tim LaHaye

This one is a guilty pleasure and I fully accept that many will argue it’s place on any list, but it’s my guilty pleasure, a series of books I quite literally enjoyed reading.

"And then I met Jerry and he's such a creative fiction writer, and I don't know if there's ever been a team put together the way we are - where one person does the theological way out and suggestions, and the other person goes into the cave and does the fiction writing." - Tim LaHaye
“And then I met Jerry and he’s such a creative fiction writer, and I don’t know if there’s ever been a team put together the way we are – where one person does the theological way out and suggestions, and the other person goes into the cave and does the fiction writing.” – Tim LaHaye

I am a human who was raised as a christian, spirituality is a deeply personal journey for every human on this planet. It has fed wars and hate, but each individual, at least at some point in their lives, has engaged with their understanding of the world and the amazement of existence. As a christian child I have been raised on Bible stories. The bible is an amazing collection of faith, reason, answers, historical reference and mystery, and the question of my own spirituality is deeply tied into the christian faith in which I was raised. The final book in the Bible is one of great fear and reckoning, Revelations is about the end times, about the wrath of God upon a world that has forsaken him, in which he withdraws himself and his arc-nemesis is allowed to do with the world as he will.

In light of this I am quite disgusted by how much I enjoyed this series (like I said, guilty pleasure). There is not an original thought in these books, and I would not necessarily recommend them to anyone else (although admittedly I have, to a select few). They are a fictional interpretation of the cryptically mystical final chapter of one of the oldest and most powerful of books. They tells the story of those Left Behind, in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic world, as per the bible. It centers on a band of survivors who realise that the mysterious new world is a result of God’s will, and in that they seek to redeem and survive as the Anti-Christ rises to power. The books can get heavy on the christian rhetoric, they are written with a strong agenda, but for me they are engrossingly easy reading, and most probably as well written as Fifty Shades of Grey. In the past in my ruminations I have likened them to a soap opera, once hooked I had to see what would happen to the characters next, I did really enjoy these books, but they are rubbish and yet, like I have reread most books I enjoy, even now as I type, as I take stock of the absurdity that I am publishing a post of books I enjoyed and that these are on the list, I shrug my shoulders in acknowledgement of the fact that I will read them again…

And No! These books do not factor into my continuing journey of spirituality…


5. Harry Potter – JK Rowlings

This one is about respect, for appreciation of the journey, this one is for the ideal of the American Dream (as lived and achieved by a non-american),this one is for Enid Blyton, this one is for Roald Dahl :)!

I have had the same relationship with every Harry Potter movie, except for the last two: I hated every single one of the movies on the first watch and then every time I watched the movie again, I enjoyed it. It’s bizarre! I only picked up the books after the sixth movie was released, so before the last two which I enjoyed, funny that. For me, it’s all about the imagination unleashed within the world of Hogwarts, it’s a beautiful thing, it’s about the legend and legacy created, and as someone who believes in reading the books after watching the movies (because then you are never disappointed), I am a huge fan of the work. 

If I am 100% honest, I am enjoying JK Rowling’s new Cormoran Strike series much more (check them out), but it is with the Harry Potter books that JK Rowling earns my respect, and why it owns this spot, on this list, today. What exists within the Harry Potter universe is nothing short of inspiring, the product of a storyteller, and what she has done in curating a massive audience to the literary world is nothing to be sniffed at. Fact: JK Rowling is the reason that an entire generation of reader’s exists.

"Poverty entails fear and stress and sometimes depression. It meets a thousand petty humiliations and hardships. Climbing out of poverty by your own efforts that is something on which to pride yourself but poverty itself is romanticized by fools." - J. K. Rowling
“Poverty entails fear and stress and sometimes depression. It meets a thousand petty humiliations and hardships. Climbing out of poverty by your own efforts that is something on which to pride yourself but poverty itself is romanticized by fools.” – J. K. Rowling

And there you have a list of my 5 Top Book Series, now while these books really do exist in the fantastical, if you look at my choice of reading for stand alone novels, there is a vast difference in subject matter, but that, I believe, is for another day, for now, lets get to the Q&A for the week.


Questions

1. Do you have a specific place to read? Generally I read before I go to sleep, it is not very often that I will read while not in bed (before I go to sleep), when that does happen I must be alone, or on holiday, I enjoy reading when on holiday.

2. What book/s can you re-read without getting tired? As I generally read before I sleep, I do welcome getting tired, the disadvantage (especially at the end of a book) is that I can land up reading and not being able to put the book down – so sometimes reading can take me beyond tired.

3. Who is your favorite author? Toni Morrison

4. What is your favorite non-fiction book? Malika Oufkir and Michèle Fitoussi (2001), La Prisonnière (Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail) – one of the most astoundingly heart breaking and rewarding reads.

5. What is your most memorable childhood book? Roald Dahl’s The Witches

6. What quote from any book will you never forget? Why is it significant? I cannot tell you the significance, but the first two verses from The Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll has been in my head since I first encountered it as a child.

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

7. What books did you hate reading in school? I am ashamed to admit it, but the most difficult book for me to enjoy, and maybe it’s because it was presented to me as school work, and it has always been one of my favourite books to get halfway through, having tried many times even before it was prescribed reading, I really do love the universe and mythology of J.R.R. Tolkien, was The Hobbit.
8. Do you read before bed? Yep.
9. How many books is on your book shelf? I can’t count, but kindle has changed my life
10. What genre of books do you prefer? Epic Storytelling
11. Can you read while there is noise around, like music or T.V? No
12. Have you wrote any books? The stories are there, the worlds exist, they’ve been constructed and are authored in my brain, but not yet.
13. You walk into a book store, what do you walk out with? Children’s Books – it is now important to grow a love of books in my sons.
14. Worst book you ever read? It has got to be Gone Girl. I hated everything about it, which is the genius of the book really, because I hated all the characters but that is what kept me reading until the end, and I was engrossed, and it shocked me, but i hated it as much as I hated the characters… And it is so terrible I will recommend it to everybody, because that is the brilliance of it.
15. Do you have any collections of books? I collect Graphic Novels and book series like those in my list.
16. Do you have a library card? Yes, but I do not use it.
17. What is the last book you read? The last book i completed was Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett.
18. How many books do you read per year? It is inconsistent, last year was a great year, i can’t even recall how many books I read, but it was over forty, I was devouring them.
19. If you could write a book what would you title it? Haha! Wouldn’t you like to know!
20. Why is reading important to you? Reading is an excercise of appreciation, it’s about escapism and inspiration, like all art, like movies, it’s about being entertained and evoked emotionally.


Quick Fire

Book mark or Anything that can hold your place
Trade paper back ?(big book) or Paper back (small book)
Novel or Biography
Read the book or Watch the movie first
Romance (Surprise, Surprise – but not schlockmance) or Science-Fiction


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Natural… Really?

I just don’t know anymore… You throw the word Natural at me and I feel like it should be the easiest concept to understand, I should be able to easily write about it, right? Maybe not so much…

Is it natural to live in a state of fear? I don’t think so. When we live in an age where you can be slaughtered just for trying to live your life as your authentic self? You can be killed for your religion. You can be killed for your sexual preference. You can be killed for being a certain race. Where is the natural in that I ask?

I live in the city. Smog. Pollution. Construction Sites. Skyscrapers. Shopping Centres. Housing Complexes. People living on top of people. We drive down the street and when we arrive at a traffic light (or as we refer to them in South Africa, a robot) our cars are pounced on by beggers, window washers, people trying to sell all kinds of odds and ends to make ends meet. There’s no empathy, there’s no room for empathy, for the lady at the robot who sits there begging with her 2 year old at her feet. We are desensitized, for fear that at any stop in out travels we will fall victim to hijackers. Where is the natural in that I ask?

The clothes I wear are synthetic. My entire world is synthetic. I live with a dependency upon chemicals and materials that have been developed to sustain needs which have been made by a corporate agenda. Valentine’s Day comes and I am forced to engage with souless capitalism in order to assign a man-made value to the depths of a concept which has been defined by the human experience, the problem is that in the chaos of the act of purchase, any aspect that remains connected to the song of love within my soul is diminished. Where is the natural in that I ask?

A boy falls into a gorilla hold at the zoo and the gorilla is killed. A child gets dragged into the water at Disneyland by an alligator. And Tilikum is still swimming in a giant fish bowl in Florida… I mustn’t eat meat anymore, the way our animals for food are bred is an abomination, but I cannot eat the processed goods and carcinogens on my shelf either. I don’t live on a farm, and any land I buy is destined to be claimed as historically stolen. I must look in the mirror and all these accusations must mean guilt of some kind yes? Where is the natural in that I ask?

BUT…

I have a family, I know what love is, I live so that they will live, and grow, and one day they will no doubt be faced with the difficulty of trying to figure out the definition of natural in a world, which in my mind will only be more unfathomable than the one in which I currently live, and over which I will ponder until I die… Death… Where is the natural in that I ask?

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Beloved – A Book Review

Is it possible to say that an entire novel is a metaphor? Well I just inferred that it was, so I guess that question is settled…

When I was was in my twenties I commenced a BA in English Literature, Toni Morrison’s book Sula was one of the elective readings we had to choose from (which I selected), and it was here that my appreciation for the writing’s of Toni Morrison began, but it was with her amazing novel Beloved that that appreciation became love…

toni-morrison-belovedRight from the books opening dedication to the “Sixty Million and more”, Toni Morrison commences a work of art which is worthy of it’s 1988 Pulitzer Prize winning place in history. It is a dedication which, like much of the novel, is constructed to resonate against the backdrop of historical reference which exists in the global consciousness. More specifically the implied juxtaposition of the dedication contrasts to the horrific figures of Jewish life lost during The Holocaust.

Toni Morrison is an Africa-American author; she is a descendant of slavery, and her works are written from this perspective, but to me Toni Morrison is a human author. I make this statement because it is Beloved, her greatest work, which magnificently transcends the focused nature of it’s subject matter, to speak to a greater commonality, which is our shared humanity. I use sweeping statements of grandiosity whenever I speak and write of Toni Morrison, and more specifically of Beloved (a book I am currently reading for the umpteenth time), because engaging with a Toni Morrison work is like taking the blue pill of literature.

It is a known fact that Toni Morrison’s prose in her novels are painstakingly thought out, they are a unique construction of symbolism and poetry in the guise of prose, that’s not really a guise because that is exactly how the prose is presented, steeped in symbolism and poetry… What do I mean – every time I read Beloved it is almost as if I am reading another novel, the design pattern out of which the story is cut is the same, but the fabric used in the weaving is that of a mirror, it reflects the readers interpretation back, for every eye that interprets the challenge of the story of Beloved will bring to it there own interpretations of empathy, redemption, beauty, love and humanity.

The book is centered around the character of Sethe, a former slave (one of Sixty Million), living her post-slavery freedom with her daughter Denver. They are both quite literally being haunted by the ghost of Sethe’s past life, and life as it is before the start of the book is about to change with the arrival of Paul D. A man from Sethe’s enslaved past, also free, Paul D has traveled far on well-worn feet to, and had arrived to the familiarity and shared-history of company from a time gratefully gone.

What does Paul D’s arrival mean for a former slave mother and daughter surviving with only each other? How do you move forward from horror? How do you build a life of freedom if all you have ever know is the cage and plight of slavery? What stories and secrets have been lived since Paul D and Sethe parted ways? And who is the strange woman who arrives on their doorstep shortly after Paul D, strangely familiar, oddly innocent and unquestionably beguiling? Who is Beloved and what does it mean to be beloved?

There are many questions that come up during the reading of Beloved, it is a challenging read, satisfyingly so, and answers you would not expect abound, more often than not having been already provided prior to the asking. Toni Morrison masterfully weaves the fantastical into a story which is so completely grounded in the realm of the real as to be unbelievable; the roots of the story, so horrific that metaphor becomes the only way to achieve the telling, and in doing so it becomes beautiful.

I promise you this, if nothing at all, you will step away from the book knowing you have read something like no other. The book will take you on a journey you can only imagine full of heartbreak and triumph, mystery and revelation, secrets and promises, pain and joy, life and death, desolation and hope, pain and beauty – If I was to give a traditional rating here, it would be a well deserved six out of five stars.

In conclusion, it was after I had personally discovered Toni Morrison that Oprah Winfrey took her works to a whole new audience when she included a selection of her works as Book Club selections, already a fan I watched an interview with Toni Morrison in which Oprah told the story of how she contacted Toni upon reading her books and told her how she struggled with the layered prose of her novels, finding herself having to reread passages, to which Toni Morrison replied, “That, My Dear, is called reading…”


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Movie Week Q&A + #TDC1615 &1614-ish + a week round up

Yoh, it’s been quite a week a I tell you! Juggling will be the word that exists in summation of this first full week of June 2016, I almost feel like I never got to give my full this week to the tasks I had set myself, but am also very happy with my movie focused outputs. There was a throwback reminisce to my favourite movie of all time, Aliens (click here to read it), a poem in honour of those who mess up our wish list for anticipation in movies (click here and have a squizz)  and a Top 10 List entry, the first of a series, which I hope will become a thing on this site (herezit now)… And then some!

Also, this week it was announced that a Roald Dahl Gobblefunk Dictionary is to be published, a great forerunner to the impending Spielberg release of The BFG – that’s just Scrumdiddlyumptios! Thanks to my DS106 team for the task they gave this week #TDC1614 which was in honour of this news, in which we had to come up with a gobblefunky slogan – DS106: It’s packed with splendiferousness!

So without further ado, here’s my close of the week The Blog Tag Q&A answers!


Questions

  • What is the worst Apocalyptic scenario you have seen in movie/tv show? Without a doubt, the scariest Apocalyptic scenario I am aware of is to terrible and unbelievable to have even been conceived as a possible scenario based in reality… Until now where reality is becoming stranger than fiction… The election of President Trump…
  • What’s your favourite genre? I am ahuge Sci-Fi fan, this includes comic book movies, but I will have to say that actually what I love are saga’s, long-going storylines even drama’s (I think that everyone actually loves saga’s, hence the popularity of series).
  • In what movie/tv series would you like to replace the main character? Wow! I am not a fan of Nicholas Cage, so pretty much anything he acts in could do with a recasting… Also, and this is because he does not have the dedication to his fans to give back! I wish Will Smith had never starred in Independence Day, a movie that made his movie career, because he is to big now to do the fans the honour of having him return for the sequel – pretty much makes me feel that it is okay if neither he nor any of his bunch ever come to an Academy Awards ceremony again!
  • Do you believe in happy endings? This is a hugely philosophical question, you can’t trick me 🙂 The only real ending is death, even in romance movies, once the credits roll, the two having fallen lovingly into each other’s arms, they still have to move in together and like real people learn the intricate rules that will govern the sacred space that is the bathroom…
  • Which movie represents the best love story? I’m gonna go with the classic here and say Zeferelli’s Romeo and Juliet, only because it is a story which has captured the imagination of viewers for centuries…
  • Best representation of a book? A movie should be inferior to the book. I love watching movies and only then reading the books because then you get to never be disappointed 🙂 think on that, I will say that it sits somewhere between The Lord of The Rings Movies, Interview with the Vampire and The Shawshank Redemption.
  • What do you consider a “binge-worthy” TV series? My favourite series of all time are Alias and Survivor, I can binge watch, and have re-binged on both repeatedly (I know… Survivor… The Reality Show… So sad right…)
  • Do you get emotionally attached to characters? Absolutely yes! My biggest disappointment was the Irina Derevko storyline in Alias, I loved the character so much that the arc her story ran just slayed me…
  • Do you get emotional while watching TV Series or Movies? I do allow myself to get emotional in movies. Titanic made me cry… 🙁
  • Do you watch Anime? No, I know I should, I love animation, but I do not.
  • If you had to choose a main character from a tv series/movie to come save you, who would you choose?Lieutenant Ellen Ripley from Aliens…
  • Who was your childhood Hollywood crush? Michelle Pfeiffer – it’s the Catwoman costume!
  • Which popular shows do you think is overrated? Arrow, The Bold and The Beautiful!
  • Which movie/tv series centralized around one of your favourite cars?? Herbie, Supernatural, Back to the Future… Haha… Well, I am dieing to watch Back to the Future again…
  • Which movie do you think deserves a sequel the most? Interview with the Vampire – Those books are amazing! The Queen of the Damned that was released just does not count!
  • Which movie would you like to see a prequel? The same answer! That’s the beauty of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles and vampires in general – long lives equal centuries of back story!
  • Which TV series would you love to revive ? Ummm… ALIAS!
  • What’s your favourite mythical creature / monster from movie / series ? The Xenomorph from the Aliens movies – or are we the real Aliens in those movies? Whatever, H.R. Giger’s art come to life really is a masterpiece.
  • Whose your favourite director? Right now I am on a whole Quentin Tarantino revival in appreciation – that said, I really am a huge fan of James Cameron. Ridley Scott, most of the time. And Steven Spielberg just seems to get it consistently right, right?
  • Do you prefer older movies, or movies with a lot of CGI? I can’t decide – I love the newness and expansion of CGI, but I savour old movies (my Mrs’ hates old movies and the fact that I enjoy them – she loves newness).
  • Whose your favourite actor? It’s a funny thing, cos as much as I am not a fan he never disappoints… Tom Cruise… I know, right? But what does a bad Tom Cruise movie really look like?

Quickfire

Anime vs. Reality TV

Cooking show vs. Car repair show

Horror vs. Comedy

Superman vs. Ironman C’Mon… Batman and Captain America

Charlie Chaplin vs Jim Carrey


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Female Characters in Film… – “The Good” List

I was going to write a post listing my favourite movies vs my least favourite, that changed halfway through my brain perusals as I soon realised just how much I was a fan of the female protagonist.

There is something beautiful about strength exuding from a woman. In an era where women in the film industry are still fighting for respect and the equal pay that comes with that, where I am a man whose favourite movie happens to be Aliens, I thought it fitting to shift the focus there… So there… Let the rankings commence…


The Official soztheo.me Top 10 Rated Female Protagonists in Film

The woman listed below were the main characters in their respective films, and in that they delivered performances that will forever set the stage for the next generation – I have of course chosen movies and performances that I appreciate, so we hereby accept that this is just a matter of opinion – of my chauvinistic, mysoginistic, male opinion, based only on those performances which sit front and center in my mind right now, at this moment (I haven’t gone back to before Soz-Mas), while I type – so really, they’re just suggestions, and worthy of your challenges, comments and suggestions, but please do take a peak… I may just surprise you!


1. Lieutenant Ellen Louise Ripley – Alien (the Full Quadrilogy)

“I’m no Ripley. I had doubts that I could play her as strongly as she had to be played, but I must say that it was fun exploring that side of myself. Women don’t get to do that very often.” – Siguorney Weaver

I have already expressed my appreciation for these movies on this blog (click here) this week, and for me the  success thereof relies completely on the strength of Siguorney Weaver’s shoulders – one of many strong independent characters she has played in her career, Lieutenant Ripley as brought to life is her cinematic work of art bequeathed to the History of Cinema.


 2. Clarice Starling – The Silence of the Lambs

“I’m not sure I know how to play weak. I really don’t know how.”  – Jodie Foster

Another one of my favourite movies of all time belongs in the cannon of another one of the Hollywood Greats, Jodie Foster. The amazing thing about this performance is that Clarice Starling is as damaged a character as the villains in the piece (a special kind of damaged if you consider the full scope of the character’s trajectory in literature… Unofficially it is the arc that the character took in the books that stopped Jodie Foster from participating in the sequel).

It is an amazing performance because the strength of the character rests in a still performance. A focused FBI agent, still in training, forced to face the exact antithesis of her structured and controlled being. Strong. Sharp. Smart. But flawed, and struggling with the fact that while she may be out of her depth, she has to swim because the sharks are circling… It’s a role and a performance which has been mimicked repeatedly since…


3. Evelyn Couch, Imogene “Idgie” Threadgoode, Ruth Jamison, Ninny Threadgoode – Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe 

“See, now is a time for courage. I guess you already know that there are angels masquerading as people walking around this planet and your mom was the bravest one of those.” – Idgie Threadgoode (Mary Stuart Masterson)

And in a single moment, Whoosh! All the manly men disappear… During my teen years I suffered from insomnia, and so I stayed up with my trusty pal the television and watched whatever was on (a relationship with the TV which was born in my youth). This movie amazed me, so much so that I went out, bought and read the book, which merely by it’s construction and approach to storytelling was a revelation for me… 

This is the first ensemble presence in this list series (and it won’t be the last)… I recommend this movie to anyone who is prepared to take the risk. Sounds ridiculous, but this kind of movie really is a challenge for many, men and women, cos you gonna deal with racism, sexism, ageism, homosexuality, abuse, murder, menopause… Even during the adaptation of the novel certain aspects were muted, only hinted at (yet obvious) in the telling. I’ll tell you this, every female character in this movie has earned their place, great performances of strong women… I await the day when someone I know tells me that I am wrong, because I have recommended this movie to many people over the years… Soppy maybe… But definitely not wrong…

It’s hysterically funny and heartbreaking… Quite simply… “The Secret’s in the Sauce”


The Bride

4. “The Bride” – Kill Bill Volumes 1 & 2

“I get shot in the head, raped, kicked, beaten and sliced by samurai swords… The movie should have been called Kill Uma.” – Uma Thurman

And because I’m a guy we boomerang right back to beautiful girls with guns and knives and things – I may be sentimental, but I still love a good action movie, and enjoy balance, nothing is more un-chick-flicky than a Quentin Tarantino Masterpiece (and isn’t every Quentn Tarantino movie a masterpiece?)…

You know this movie is about the breakdown of Fox Force Five right? Check that Sh!t out…

The Bride, a character created by Q&U, originally (unoficially, but c’mon) conceived in a scene in Pulp Fiction in which Uma Thurman’s character Mia Wallace speaks about a failed TV pilot she did… A premise developed and brought to life year’s later in this masterpiece…

Revenge is the subject central to many a great story, and this ode to Japanese Martial Art films, comprised almost entirely of the most entertaining set of strong, fast, high-flying female characters, is the stuff of every fanboy’s fantasy – and yes I know that this is about the girls, and to that I say that compared to the admittedly entertaining schlock of the Charlie’s Angels endeavors, this movie is the true zigga-zig-a of girl power…


5. Celie & Nettie – The Colour Purple

“The way I played Celie was to stand back from her. There’s a theory that an actor should identify with the character. Well, I loved her, but I didn’t identify with her. Celie is so far away from me, it was easy to allow her pain to be there, because her life has so little to do with mine.” – Whoopi Goldberg

The Colour Purple

I have never read Alice Walker’s masterpiece, but it does exist alongside my favourite kind of literature (FYI, Favourite Author is Toni Morrison). So what is it about this movie? Hear me out…

I am a brother. I have three sisters. I remember once watching an interview in which Maya Angelou spoke about how she was challenged for some reason for participating in the Million Man March, to which she replied, and this is not verbatim (probably the biggest hash-job I have ever done paraphrasing, but it was a long time ago), ‘I am the daughter of a man, the sister of a man, the mother of a man, the spouse of a man, this is why I march…’ I’ve totally messed it up, but the essence of it has always stuck with me.

Nettie and Celie. Two sisters. A bond that is physically severed at the beginning of the movie, but which remains the one constant longing throughout, strong in memory and heart, separated by hatred and oceans, the l
ove of two sisters, the sacred love of family, the strength and tale of one woman’s journey to her best self, to emancipation from a form of slavery born out of the legacy of slavery. This single girls journey to womanhood is set alongside fellow members of her sisterhood, in which her acquisition of strength within her own self runs parallel to other women who come into her life.

The movie boasts Oscar Nominated performances for not only Whoopi Goldberg in the titular role, but also for Margaret Avery and Oprah Winfrey. Not only was the film nominated for 11 Oscars (of which it won a big fat none), but three of those nominations belonged to African American Women, nominated for acting Oscars, from a single movie, a whole 16 years before Halle Berry would win her Best Actress Oscar for Monster – these figures speak to the power of the movie, the power of the story, and of the power of the players in their respective roles. Steven Spielberg’s interpretation of Alice Walker’s novel; oft referred to as an inferior work; woefully denied its justice at the Oscar’s; is a movie that in our household has been, and is, and will always be, a sacred and constant piece of enlightenment, contemplation and appreciation.


6. Police Chief Marge Gunderson – Fargo

“At least three times a week I’m approached by someone who says something about Fargo. Or, I’ll pass someone on the street in New York and someone will throw a line at me. People love to drop in ‘you betcha’ often as they can.” – Francis McDormand

It was in 1996 that a small town, with a small crime, introduced us to a largely pregnant, small town police chief named Marge Gunderson. It was the role of a lifetime for Francis McDormand, written and directed by the power pair comprised of her husband and brother-in-law (they of the genius Coen brothers), it earned her a well deserved Academy Award for Best Actress, but beyond that the character and film have gone on to surpass the more loftier and over the top creations by team Coen to be the masterpiece for which they will most probably always be remembered – a large part of that result rests solely on the shoulders of the genius that is this character who sits at Number 6 on my list.

It is the subtlest and smallest of performances, yet it is a presence in cinematic history that cannot be ignored because of its genius subtlety. From the quaint execution of the Mid-Western dialect, to the ever looming fact that the character’s pregnancy seems to be so huge yet is actually acknowledged briefly in the narrative of the movie (I mean, stamps got more conversation time than the pregnancy – And yet… M-Net; South Africa’s Pay-For-TV Service which provided a monthly program guide which include film blurb’s of the month’s movies in English and Afrikaans, had this entry under Fargo in the Afrikaans blurb, I remember because the tears rolled and pants were nearly pee’d, I quote, “Die polisie-hoof is swanger.”, ie direct translation: The Police Chief is pregnant)…

Francis McDormand’s Marge, out to solve a kidnapping, is faced with a criminal element and level of dishonesty which just does not compute as rational in the mind of the character… She’s just a cop, doing her job, baby on the way, living her life, appreciating the little things, and it is from that space that the humour exists… A true duck out of water, from a pond we could all learn to swim in…


7. Erin Brockovich – Erin Brockovich

“I have great admiration for what she stands for. A lot of women in our culture are facing being a single mother, trying to make ends meet. They are the heroes of out time, aren’t they?” – Julia RobertsErin Brockovich

And from the fictional beauty residing in the perceivably simplest of women to the a real, larger than life woman, who stood fast and beat the odds. From an expecting working mother-to-be to an actual unemployed mother of three. From understated to over the top. From small town crime, to fighting for, defending and ultimately uphelding the rights of an entire poisoned town against the corruption of a big business chemical company, we land at Erin Brockovich. To Justice.

It was always going to be but a matter of time before Julia Roberts won that Oscar, but that matter of time did take its sweet time, with amazing career cementing performances just not hitting the mark – the amazing thing about this performance is its effortlessness, it’s Julia Roberts at her most seemingly natural, like the role was simply meant for her. And it’s entertaining, it’s fall down funny delivery, it’s gut-wrenching tragedy, it’s real life David and Goliath-ness – except David actually wears stilletto’s and way to revealing clothes (for her office colleagues, I rather liked her outfits, especially her blouses – there I had my man moment), Erin Brockovich is not just a movie hero, she’s the real deal, and Julia Roberts does the real deal real justice


8. Sarah Connor – T2: Judgement DayTERMINATOR 2 : JUDGEMENT DAY DE JAMES CAMERON LINDA HAMILTON

“It’s not about the fame – it’s about the very nature of Sarah Connor who is a savior. I know people don’t necessarily buy it was the truth, but I go out in the world for all of these years and people stop me and say, “Hey I Love you!” It’s kind of an insidious thing because they think of me as the person who saved the future. It’s subtle how it works on people, but I just go out and people treat me like I’m a hero. It’s a wonderful feeling and it’s really great to be Linda Hamilton. I really think it’s because on some level that character I played is working on them in their subconscious.” – Linda Hamilton

In the first Terminator Sarah Connor was a deer in the headlights, on the run from the machine, round two came around and Sarah Connor was ready to hand it to them – she was tougher, stronger, crazier, pissed off, and she weren’t no victim!!! I mean check out those guns, as a Madonna fan, I like to think of her as a trendsetter, but Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor version T2.0 was a mean MoFo!

I love Terminator 2: Judgement Day, I need to watch that movie again, like soon, there’s no mistaking the fact that James Cameron is at the helm of this movie and Aliens, the female characters of James Cameron’s Sci-Fi Fantasies are It! That piece of acknowledgement to the man behind the scene done, the Sarah Connor on this list really is all about Linda Hamilton, the originator…

Hopefully… one day… She’ll be back…


9. The Rockford Peaches – A League of Their OwnA League of Their Own

“There’s no crying in baseball!” – Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks)

It’s the story of a team, it’s a sports movie, about girls (ahem… women) playing baseball while the men are off fighting The War – a fictional dramatization of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL). Yes, we enter into the Penny Marshall directed movie with sisters Dorothy “Dottie” Hinson and Kit Keller, but this really is a movie about the team. It’s about Marla Hooch, “All the Way” Mae Mordabito, Doris Murphy, Betty “Spaghetti” Horn, Evelyn Gardner and their Coach Jimmy Dugan – it is a movie which in 2012, was cited as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and was accordingly it was elected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

When you consider the rigorous filming the actresses went through to deliver the final product, that before even auditioning they had to pass a fitness and ball skill assessment, that for the purposes of stock footage for montages they had to play dozens of actual baseball games, that the Director’s Cut of the movie runs at over four hours (with many storylines cut that documented various characters arcs), and that by the end of the movie Penny Marshall felt sorry for the crew as, “Unfortunately everyone’s cycle synched up. The mood swings…”

This movie is a celebration of women surpassing expectations imposed upon them by society and by themselves, it is hysterically funny, while also dramatic – a really good piece of cinema…


Jen Final10. Frances “Baby” Houseman – Dirty Dancing

“I carried a watermelon…” – Baby

Yeah, Yeah… I hear you… But this one is for the girls, and the boys that were forced to watch it so many times that they actually, maybe, but we won’t admit that will we, kinda enjoyed it?

So, for context sake, me and my siblings (three sisters remember, and a much younger, fortunately for him not yet born) are children of professional dancers and dancing teachers, this movie was the first age-restricted movie I ever saw, it was required viewing in our house… Funny story, my dad lived in Rustenburg at the time (when the dorp was still but a few blocks wide) and we went to watch it at the two cinema complex called the Rustra – the ladies came with their hair did up eighties high, with sequins and shoulder pads, and when Patrick Swayze came on screen… My ears have still not yet fully recovered, nearly thirty years later.

Need more?

How about this… There are soooo many “chick flicks” out there, hate them much guys? Our ladies love them, and many of them have watched, re-watched and re-watched them again (and some times forced us to watch some really, really bad ones), these are their favourites, these strong women in our lives, these dreamers – it would be wrong of me to right a blog post like this and not include a real solid chick flick heroine (and in fact there are a couple I would have, and did, consider for this spot). I know this…

If I am ever fortunate enough to add a daughter to our family, I hope that she too has a romantic spirit, that she also wants to dream, and be a little girl of dreams… Drive us guys crazy with having to watch Dirty Dancing (although by that stage we’ll be in a bigger house and they can watch in the other lounge) – Lord knows, my daughter will also be raised on Aliens and Terminator as well, but girls will be girls – she is the elected representative for the honour of representing one of the biggest genres in the movie magic world, and for being the best within that huge genre of film… Could be worse, could be a Katherine Heigl movie (I think that’s how you spell it).

See the pictures I’ve added to this post? Nose be damned Jennifer Grey was hot (sorry Ladies)! That scene, in those shorts, up and down those stairs… And she was a good girl ultimately, selfless, kind, caring – and yeah, she owns this place proudly with all the dreams and eyes of little girls, little women, ladies, old girls and old women who have entrusted their hours of enjoyment upon this brand of Cinderella fantasy and escapism…

It’s that damn Patrick Swayze I tell you, he even made housewives bad…


So that’s my first list of the three… Coming Soon: The Bad; and The Ugly…

I actually come to the end of this list and I don’t know who it actually is for… This is just my opinion based on my life experience shaped appreciation. The fact is that there are certain fundamental truths that transcend beyond that which should define and separate us. These instead speaking to the commonality that exists in being members and equal participants in the human condition. I feel sorry for those that can’t or are unable to access that…

To end off, here are just a few movies that landed on and then fell off, and then were shuffled around, and ultimately lost out on appearing on this list but which own a spot in this mention:

Amelie; For The Boys; The Blind Side; Gravity; Clueless; Sense & Sensibility; Beloved; The Help; Scream; The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; Pretty Woman; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Girl, Interrupted – and finally, the one that I struggled the most with, the movie that was on and off and on again but which I just could not justify due to the lead protagonist not being the actual lead protagonist of the film – Mad Max: Fury Road…

Let me know what you think 🙂


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DS106 Daily Creates #tdc1609, #tdc1610 & #tdc1611: The woe of animals…

CkI4hBSWUAAWMPjOn Saturday I tried to make something out of nothing, quite literally, within 5 minutes (more on that here…)

The ironic thing is that I really (for 5 minutes) struggled, and I layered #TDC1609 with subtext, which I actually bought into for my 5 minutes – there is light I tell you (Look what happens if i optimize the shadows and highlights in the image, there is lots of light at play, this simple work is as abstract as they come!!!)!

And there I go again trying to convince myself…

The point is that I was disappointed with the effort, and yet I wasn’t because the layers of meaning are applied…

Yesterday I didn’t post an update for #TDC1610 (so this will be it, and it will be short) although I did meet my self-imposed Daily Create quota :P…

There was not much thought to this one, but it took a lot of time, and so by the time I finally got it up I just didn’t have the energy to write about it!

TDC1610

 

 

Truth be told, there isn’t much to say about the piece itself, it’s a not so tongue in cheek commentary on the most base of subject matter… Except that what I have realised is that the majority of the enjoyment I am deriving from these excercises is in the doing :)! Sometimes they take a lot of time, sometimes they take alot of thought, sometimes they take little of either and sometimes they take much-er!

Today, as a bit of a reprieve in terms of effort from my Saturday entry, I took a hold of the horns of today’s daily create #TDC1611, and went balls to the walls. I studied film when I was 19, at a not so esteemed college, in South Africa, where my skill that I entered the industry with (for all of a couple of months, because I was more inspired with partying, and because the skill I had was not actually related to anything I was actually passionate about when it came to the industry), was editing (in those days, my very expensive Television and Film production textbook, which cost R700, had a chapter on digital editing which was 11 pages long – the world has changed)… and I digress… the point is that I know on some level those projects I worked on back then were at play, even if just a little, here today, because the video editing bit was the easiest bit for me.

FYI – This is not going to be a “How To”, I am unable to adhere to that kind of writing, this is more of a thinking around my approach, as I come to understand it myself – But let me just say now, before I lose you all completely, that I appreciate beyond words the positivity you have given this video on Twitter – It really is encouraging – I really am enjoying these Daily Creates!

I visited the website with the sound effects and from the beginning I had this idea that I would find 5 animals from as far away from each other as I could (the daily create prompt helped there)… Then it was a matter of extracting the sounds, and that wasn’t so easy, but all of us have managed to do that, so we know it is possible and I will just say that I managed to get them all individually. At this point, while I was getting them in mp3, I had decided that I was today going to make a video, Windows Movie Maker would be the tool of choice, having played with it just a little recently, and so it became very much about what the message of it all was going to be…

As I thought on this, and sourced pictures from Wikipedia of the animals I had selected, I decided that silent movie speech cards were going to be the tool of choice, and that there was going to be a poem, but a poem about what? What do 5 animals have to say, that would unite them, and why unity became a theme I do not know, except I think I kinda do…

Today I read an article in which one of South Africa’s greatest satirists Zapiro, has been listed as No2 on a list of the top 10 cartoonists worldwide – it’s a beautiful thing, he has challenged South Africa in his commentary art which has unforgivingly documented our history for the last approximately 30 years – but it’s also a sad event, because the man has fallen, in many eyes, as he compromised his artistic integrity last week when he apologised for a cartoon in which he portrayed a “Black” Minister as a performing Monkey under the control of our shameless President Jacob Zuma (a man who has abused his powers beyond the imaginable, and whose cabinet is a joke – Wiki?). Zapiro has been necessarily scathing of our President for the last 10 years, and sadly the South African climate has deteriorated under his watch, as he has not fostered the necessary progressive environment for this Rainbow Nation to continue upward. It was the depiction of a black man as a monkey which resulted in a racist backlash on social media, as the commentary of the analogy was lost within the remaining anger of a certain Miss Penny Sparrow who in January caused a national crisis when she spewed forth her racist assertions as she compared black beach goers to monkeys – the stigma essentially overwriting the commentary of the piece. Our ruling party loves the racist card, and they milk it for all it’s worth, so that freedom of speech and artistic license are being eroded, even our public broadcaster has made an announcement last week that they will be (without actually using the word) censoring what they show on the news, so as not to incite further anger, and just this week South Africa managed to avoid being downgraded to Junk Status by global ratings agencies… So yeah I kinda think I know how this piece came about…

And there it is, the reason that the animals are speaking so, in various animal languages, for they too have caught wind of what is happening in South Africa, even the most beautiful moments of our day are challenged by the realities of a society which we hope will recover for the second time from what we perceive to be a decline. This was a nation which has had the world’s attention for years, and we rose upon the dreams of a great President Nelson Mandela, only to find ourselves in an arena we are actually not prepared for. It really is a fearful time in South Africa, but hope remains alive, and ultimately I have to believe that every dog has it’s day…

Humour is a powerful device, find the funny to tell the truth, because truth is universally identifiable, especially when expressed through art…

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A day is a Playlist…

Music makes the people come together

Music makes the bourgeoisie and the Rebel

Sometimes, as much as we would love to, the time is just not available to meet all our commitments – sadly this is one of those days (but it’s not a total loss) – so in the best interests of time, I am going to pledge a memory entry to each one of the songs listed below. I don’t even really have time to make playlists anymore, I hardly put my earphones in these days, and I avoid current music on the radio out of frustration. But this is the last playlist I made…

My rule for playlists is simple… One song for each artist, variety is the spice of life – and generally if I hear it (while on shuffle), and it connects at that moment, irrespective if there is a progressional consistency, if the connect happens it goes on the list in that order, and played again (or it gets skipped and doesn’t make the cut)…

I usually do this while I work…

I listen to this playlist now and I wonder what mood I was in on this day, take a hear, maybe you can tell me… Alls I know is that on this day, there was a story into which these songs nestled themselves and contributed to the progression:

  1. Duran Duran – Come Undone
  2. N.E.R.D – Hypnotize You
  3. Tracy Chapman – Give Me One Reason
  4. Empire of the Sun – We are the People
  5. Prince – When Doves Cry
  6. Madonna – Nothing Really Matters
  7. Katy B – Crying for No Reason
  8. The Ting Ting’s – Shut Up & Let Me Go
  9. Janet Jackson – BURNITUP!
  10. The Doors – The End
  11. Gnarls Barkley – Crazy
  12. The Weeknd – Can’t Feel My Face
  13. Muse – Time Is Running Out
  14. Shakespeare’s Sister – Stay
  15. Siouxsie & The Banshees – Face to Face
  16. Juliette Lewis – Hardly Wait
  17. Eminem – Superman
  18. Tailor – Step Back
  19. The Fugees – Ready or Not
  20. Lorde – Yellow Flicker Beat
  21. Fetish – Constant
  22. Daft Punk – Lose Yourself to Dance
  23. Linkin Park – The Catalyst
  24. The Cranberries – Empty
  25. Sade – Cherish the Day
  26. Depeche Mode – Never Let Me Down Again
  27. Michael Jackson – In The Closet
  28. PJ Harvey – Down by the River
  29. Justin Timberlake – My Love

And there you have it – reviewing it now, not a single song on the list comes as a surprise, many of these are favourites which would make any list on any given day, all of which have got a story and association I can elaborate on in the future…

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Madonna MUSIC Madness

I have this weird relationship with Madonna.

I am well aware that the lady in question is nowadays pretty much a gay icon – I mention this because everytime I mention the “Madonna-thing” I get that raised eyebrow (you know the one I’m talking about, you’re probably doing it right now)…. The thing is, it wasn’t her gay-iconess that got my, ummm, attention, when as a young 14 year old I managed to get my innocent little hands upon and opening the metal covers of the now infamous SEX book… #NuffSaid? I like the title Queen of Pop… I like Pop Music… Not the crap that is on the radio now, but the Pop of Madonna, Prince, Janet, Michael & Whitney.

Now the thing about this music, is that for me it is very artist-centric, it is as much about them, the stories they have to tell, and the culture of their unique brand of celebrity which they have cultivated, and as with most thing, sometimes my favourite artists piss me off. Right now for instance I am in a particularly frustrated/hate-but-still-a-fan relationship with Madonna, I am just not happy with the artistic evolution (encased in plastic mould, on the face of things) which she is currently on – there is a disconnect which has happened… She still fascinates me, I still spectate, but that really is not what this post is about…

This post is about the song MUSIC and why it is one of my favourite songs, by one of my favourite artists.

It was the year 2000, I had landed myself stuck in Rustenburg of all places. This was right in the middle of my hardcore electro, house, rave bunny phase and on a visit to family, I (for reasons we shan’t elaborate further on here), was trapped in the dorp of Rustenburg (before they blew up the mountain… Do you know they blew up a mountain? So a highway to Sun City could pass through?) Anyway, I digress…

Here I am, trapped (you got it? Traaaaped) in Rustenburg, my collection of CD’s played to death, sitting in the car chilling outside the family business, listening to the radio (which I don’t do for fear of ear bleed), eating an ice-cream. It was Radio 5 or 5FM, whatever, when the announcement comes on that the exclusive world premier of Madonna’s latest song was about to be played, and I’ll never forget how excited the DJ’s were to play it (having already listened to it), they were hyped… The anticipation. The adverts. The wait. The Rustenburg heat. Time ticked slowly (cos you know, Time Goes By So Slowly).

And then maxresdefaultthe moment had arrived… Right from the “Hey Mr DJ, put a record on…” I was intrigued. And then… The first electro glitchy beat, like nothing that had ever been heard before, particularly from a mainstream musician, a filthy grinding guitar riff atop a sonically disjointed rhythm, with stuttery, juttery, manipulated, commanding, vocoder lyrics, calling people to dance, to let go, to let the music take them away…

It was mesmerisingly different. Dance the song said. Feel the beat. Let the rhythm take you. Get up on your feet. And so that’s excatly what I did!

I was young. A raver trapped in Rustenburg. My party peops in Joburg. Alone. Listening to a fresh sick beat like nothing I had heard before. The realisation hit. The strong awareness that this is on radio. It’s gonna end. There’s no repeat. I’m 19 years old. Joburg daze are still away’s away. I am most probably never gonna see any of these dorp people again. And so… Caution to the (lack of) wind, on a sweltering hot spring day, a skinny (stylish) kid, with silver (I kid you not) hair, cranked up the volume, jumped out of the car, and jammed to his hearts content… In a parking lot… Of a strip mall… In downtown Rustenburg… To…

MUSIC

 

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You… Art…

Art is artificial; a representational rendering of the real. Yes it is powerful, can sometimes move us more than the actual real, but this is because of the stylistic application which has been employed to create the rendering, which is not actually accessible within the realms of reality.

Think about your digital identity, what is it comprised of? It can never and will never be you, and yet, sometimes, with the share of a picture or a post which you have identified as being profound, or humorous, or are critical of, you have in that action made a statement, more often than not you have done so to illicit a response, the anticipation and interpretation of which defines, contributes and shapes the work of art which is your digital identity; Validation of your output is after all the basic human need of any transactional act – How many likes did you get? How many shares or retweets – and what does that validate exactly, not you certainly, but rather that extension of yourself which you have created and curated on the digital landscape.

I like to think of these actions as brush strokes or performances, all of them aspects of a greater work – the digital self is your project and you are it’s architect, it’s a representation of you, what are you going to do with you today?

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#Personal-CyberInfrastructure-Whatsit

We live in an age where our digital selves are an extension of who we are.

It’s a profound statement, but even the most seemingly mundane of mind (and that’s not to be offensive to the mundane of mind, or to infer that I am not the mundane of mind of which I speak, as I myself am a newbie here, dealing with these concepts), have embraced the very idea that the world within the digital realm offers the opportunity to exist in two simultaneous realities concurrently – So why the disconnect?

As a student commencing on a journey to redefine my digital self through an intricate game of “ketchup” (on all things digital), I am currently learning tricks, and bits, and bobs, which are expanding my repertoire as I venture to a goal which is being defined as I travel the course (The DS106 Course – DS106, look it up). The thing of it, is that I have come to realize and accept (through content which highlighted/pointed it out/told me… LOL) that what I am currently conducting is a Digital Facelift – I am having an absolute blast, playing on various platforms, redefining my digital presence from a single social media platform dedicated, other self; to a multi-platform, multi-skilled, multi-faceted and integrated, cohesive, interlinked and unified, constantly in flux, other self.

It’s a great excercise, but it is flawed in that these skills should not be something we need to pick up along the way, down the line, out of necessity, we need to change our outlook on the importance of digital preparatory practice for life. These skills should be as ingrained, as developed and intrinsic as the basic need to recite and use the alphabet (a meta tool, btw), because today’s alphabet is different, having been born out of the forward projection of technological advancement (the same way that letters put shapes to sounds), so that the new alphabet (and remember, on our online chats, we do talk in pictures these days), it looks something like this:

A-B-C-D-E-[Selfie]-F-G-H-I-J-[SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNT]-K-L-M-N-O-P-[CODING][html][JSON]-Q-R-S-T-#-U-V-W-X-Y-Z

…Well, something like that.

I have a cousin, a young single developer, no kids, who one day when I was interacting with my child, who is PortuGreek (ie 1/2 Portuguese + 1/2Greek), and is being engaged with three languages (as we are primarily English speaking), commented that he would teach his toddler coding from a young age – silly? but profound? It made me think, as it speaks to the digital arc projected and expected in the future… Let’s teach our kids to be the Neo of their Matrix!

#ThePoint is that, we should be empowering the next generation, we should be enabling them through their educational trajectory, by realigning the education process so that the narrating, curating and sharing of knowledge is dependent on and intricately involved with the cultivation of a digital identity – always changing, always growing, always reflecting back and informing and redefining the self, making each student the architect of his or her own digital life. The physical learning environment needs to run in conjunction and in partnership with a digital learning environment so that the next generation is not only up to speed with the latest methodologies and tools, but that their involvement is the necessity which defines and results in the tools they need – so that our kids are not, like me, trying to get to grasps with SEO, now, short of forty…

We don’t want them to be investing time years later, making novice mistakes, taking toddler steps out of digital necessity… That maybe the current senselessness and shallowness of the current digital reality (which is symptomatically a great contributor to the stall to getting the digital more incorporated in the reality), like the celebrity selfie (which has become somewhat of a prostitution of our digital identity) may just be eradicated, minimized, a dreaded fossil of the past, as the new generation finds the openness they seek, which is an intrinsic human need for validation, as an outcome of cultivation (not discovery) of openness to the world, each other and ourselves through the nurturing and growth of the digital self; the widest external opposite to our internal selves.

It’s called a Personal Cyberinfrastructure this proposed but simple (the jargoned and nuanced incoherency of the above is ironically a direct result of its absence) solution, and it’s the Gold, it enables the students of the future to tower above us as the masters of their own webiverse.


NB Side note: Because in case it’s not obvious that this is part of a course… Now that Soz has jumped ahead to an excercise in Unit 2, he will round back and do those excercises he missed in Unit one)


Find Out More

http://er.educause.edu/articles/2009/9/a-personal-cyberinfrastructure

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They say it’s gonna rain…

https://twitter.com/Madonna/status/728006714742689792

So, right from the start let’s just acknowledge that the absurdity of fame is paramount and applicable to the topic of this post.

I am a fan of Madonna’s, I am also a straight white male – is that an oxymoron? Whatever your opinion about her, let’s acknowledge the undeniable, the woman is a tour-de-force, having achieved what only very few musicians have (and for the sake of addressing the haters, whatever you may deem the word Musician to be is irrelevant in the context of this topic). What do I mean?

Well when you talk about 80’s icons, who were a product of the time, shaped the course of the era, and moved beyond that so that they continued to influence and define the decades that followed in many ways you have 4 artists (of whom I am a fan of all) – Michael Jackson, Madonna, Prince and Whitney Houston (Janet Jackson? The 90’s were really her domain), and sadly, 3 of these icons are gone, so Madonna is the only one left. They created and rode the zeitgeist that would become modern celebrity, their lives, artistry, constructed persona’s and showmanship fascinated a world that had never had that level of superstar and accessibility before, they cast a spell upon a generation.

There is a ridiculous amount of BS going on about the fact that Madonna is going to be paying tribute to her contemporary at the Billboard Awards tomorrow night, and so be it, there will always be rhetoric about the senselessness that is the screwings and the doings of those people… The fact of the matter is that Prince and Madonna had a relationship, whatever that may be, it existed and even if they did not like each other, they shared a space in the course of entertainment history that only they would and ever could understand and appreciate – true peers within the chaos that was their rise and careers, whose paths were intertwined professionally and personally over decades.

The man is dead, it’s sad, why shouldn’t someone who knew him pay him tribute, and yes she wasn’t the only one who knew him, but she is the only one whose career has soared to those levels of success, her trajectory and longevity running parallel to his. This moment will have the last of that quartet of amazing showmans honouring her last counterpart, she will do her best out of respect for him, it will be painful and it will be moving, and on the fringe of that will be voices who will undermine it and in the process, disrespect the memory a great man simply because their point of view was not validated in a moment that is not actually about them.

At this point all i wanna know is what song/s whe will be singing! Purple rain for sure is gonna be there, especially when you consider:

Can’t Wait! Sing girl sing!

“Love Song”

Duet by Madonna & Prince

Je suis prete. Est-ce que vous etes pret, aussi?

Are you wasting my time, are you just being kind
Oh no baby my love isn’t blind
Are you wasting my time, are you just being kind
Don’t go givin’ me one of your lines

Say what you mean, mean what you say
Don’t go and throw our love away
God strike me dead if I did you wrong
This is not a love song

Are you just being kind
Am I losing my mind

Time goes by so slowly for those who wait
And those who run seem to have all the fun
But are you wasting my time — she’s so fine
Are you just being kind

Nowhere to run nowhere to hide
That’s how I feel, don’t fog my mind

Mean what you say or baby I am gone
This is not a love song

Are you just being kind
Am I losing my mind

Love song, love song
Don’t try to tell me what your enemies taught you
I’m gone but I just want you to know
That this is not a love song that I want to sing

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