Suspense of disbelief

I am sorry, but that Robertson’s Spice ad where the mama tucks her chicken under her arm, scales the highest mountains and sails the roughest seas to get the best spice for it, is just incredible. Like, not credible. Like no sane person can believe it. I watch her shuffle to the quaint little shop next to her house with the chicken, uncovered, I watch her in the row boat and later, climbing majestic mountains in, perhaps, China or somewhere, and all I can think of is… salmonella. I am ready to bet my bottom dollar that the agents of Satan came up with an idea that their client hated, and bullied them into buying said terrible idea for hundreds of thousands during a very slick casting session… or something. Either way, Robertson’s should fire its communications manager or whoever approved the “ends of the earth” pitch. No food product should be that intimately associated visually, for an entire 30 seconds, with possibly gazillions of air-borne- and other pathogens.

No, really. The optimal temperature for pathogens to double in number every 20 minutes is between 5°C and 65°C. I would guess that the chicken in the ad maintained an average temperature of about 26°C for roughly four weeks. (Obviously I don’t think for a second that she rowed ALL the way to China or somewhere.) But let’s move along.

The other thing that is harder to believe than yet another Hollywood ensemble romcom (I have a strong feeling that Valentine’s Day is going to be at least as nauseating as Love, Actually) is how JZ is handling the 20th child debacle. Or 19th child debacle, according to the M&G.

It’s ongoing, it’s still being debated fiercely by radio hosts, callers-in and media scholars alike, and the papers just don’t seem to tire of it. So JZ apologised on the weekend, but nobody seems to buy it. He has apologised, the feeling seems to be, too many times in the past. For frack’s sakes (OK, I confess, I had a little BSG lapse on the weekend) the nation isn’t simply a big happy Catholic church. You don’t get sent home with some Our Fathers and instructions not to sin again every time you leave the confessional.

I really think our prez should get his very own ad agency and an image coach. And if he suspends Julius’s security detail, it won’t even cost the tax payer a cent.


On writing # 8: Writing that makes you want to kill yourself. Or drink a lot.

“To coin a cliché” is also a cliché.

Just a thought. I am writing the copy for the Corporate Identity Guidelines of a large minerals-and-mining company, and if I have to conjure up yet another way of saying, “speaks to the values of the brand” I am going out for a bottle of whisky. Fortunately the end is in sight. Most of the weekend has been spent in the service of Satan. I guess he pays. At forty one, I have no qualms in selling my soul for money, as selling it for various versions of love or meaning, so far, has proved a very bad long-term investment, every time.

The results of this transaction are also much cheerier than the alternative. (Unless of course one is making drama for the SABC, when one frequently finds oneself screaming at imaginary people, first thing in the morning, in the bath. But back to me, in the present.)

Considering that I am relentless in my current pursuit of happiness (I am taking happiness vitamins. They say Vitamin D3 is a cure for SAD) I have taken a little break to write something that I have not already written in other words. This was it.

And now I have to get back there. I feel much better now.

Happiness and Dimitri the Stud

You see? Once you make up your mind to be happier, the happiness just reaches out and touches you from for all sides; life becomes a joyful grope-fest, so to speak, and all images, sounds, smells and textures inspire noting but delight and good meaning. (I nearly added ‘temperatures’ there but that would be ridiculous, considering how fucking cold it is.) In spite of being dismissive of this sentiment in the past – on record – I think I am finally reaching that stage where I am ready to try famous acupuncturist Dr Jimmy Lu’s advice to me (‘be happier’). Dr Lu also advised me to drink my own urine, but I think that is too radical an intervention for being a little curmudgeonly.

I must point out at this stage that it is not as easy to make up one’s mind as it sounds. George Dubya Bush would have an easier time of it, for example, than Noam Chomsky, and Judge Bernard Ngoepe will find it more difficult than, for example, JZ or Julius Malema. It must be clear where I am going with this. Considering that my mind is not only finely tuned and incredibly complex, but also very busy, making it up was almost as difficult as shutting down Guantanamo Bay. But seeing that it is MY mind, and well-known to me, I managed without too much hoo-ha or going through Congress.

And voila! The world is a dear and inspiring place, full of interesting-looking people that do not mind even one bit when you stare at them, rapt, for entire minutes. The diversity! The wit! The pictorial symbolism that is impossible to art direct, regardless of how much money the client shovels in the direction of the ad agency, and the Loerie Awards on the shelf where the director’s books should be.

Yesterday I saw a coffee-coloured giant in a red, silver-star-spangled velour tracksuit. His movements were confident, if slightly ungainly, as he ushered a tiny coffee-coloured girl-toddler through the traffic in the parking lot of the Killarney mall. They were beautiful. This morning I passed a faded blue Mercedes, driven by a tall octogenarian with a boldly stylised Jimmy hat angled on white mane. His wife’s perm barely cleared the window frame. They seemed to be in a hurry. I wondered for a moment if they were not asking too much of their ride’s aged German engineering, but I guess that sooner or later one must start feeling that time is seriously running out, so I reserved judgement. The day is crisp, the trees are brown, and I got quite a big job today that will take up most of the weekend. In celebration I replaced my hand mixer, and resolved to bake an apricot cake for Jan’s lunch on Sunday. And finally, just when I thought that life could get absolutely no better, Mandolin sent me an MP3 clip, accompanied by this story:

A girl was out with friends having drinks in King Street in Toronto. A guy called Dimitri started hitting on her and refused to be rebuffed, going on about how cute she was. She finally gave him her business card in an effort to get rid of him.The MP3 file below is of not one, but TWO voicemails this guy left. They are astonishing, especially the second voicemail. One understands why she didn’t call him back, and why, instead, she called in to the Z103.5 morning show and had them play the messages on the air.

(Technopeasant note: It is the first time that I have posted MP3 on this site, and I am a bit puzzled about how it opens when you click on the link (below the picture). I arrive on a seperate page on which I have to click the link again before the piece starts playing. This stuff drives me crazy, so I would not encourage you to go there if it was not worth it.)

 (And althougth the picture is not of Dimitri, I think this is what he sees in the mirror.)

Dimitri the Stud

 Dimitri the Stud

… and that is all for Friday.

Way retro chocolate fridge cake

I just realised that in the “love your smile” Dentyne ad, there are almost only white people. It has a cast of about 20, and I think there may be one coloured girl in the “group photo” scene on a beach.  And the cop may have been black, but it is impossible to be sure unless you have PVR. Any clarification would be appreciated. The overall impression is white, though. Was it shot in this country?

It’s very retro for us, that. We had happy lifestyle commercials depicting a homogenous, colour-free society long before 1994, or even 1990. Lies lies lies, my art teacher confirmed to our rosy-cheeked, if not necessarily -spectacled, class somewhere in the middle 80’s, staying our brushes and alarming our futures.

The commercials in which mothers-and-daughters do merry bake-offs (have you noticed how they STILL recycle those – clearly AI (the ad industry) only has sporadic inspiration from its master) was not something that really resonated with me. In my mother’s eyes, the microwave was a gift sent directly to her kitchen from God, and we rarely had a meal that was cooked in more than ten minutes.  Not that this was necessarily bad. She made, for example, a chocolate oil cake in this very microwave that was truly heavenly – or truly evil, if you like. My mother understood the dangers of the “devil’s food” lurking in a tin of cocoa. She passed on both this knowledge and the understanding that it is imperative to ignore it.  Even so, she no longer makes this legendary cake, which really is a pity.

I guess, in the light of this, it makes sense that the only actual recipe that I managed to take with me when I moved into digs without a microwave was for something she called sjokolade yskaskoek.  The recipe was in a little blue book. I am not sure why I think that a chocolate fridge cake is retro. Maybe because while it is ridiculously easy to make, it is decadent in the extreme. Also, it does not require a single ingredient that you could not find at the shop at the garage, (Thrupps… what?) most notably, two packets of marie biscuits. I think that is it. In this country, anything with marie biscuits is retro. At a time in my student life when I called myself a vegetarian, I survived on slap chips and salad rolls from Bambi’s, toasted sandwiches from Kaif, beer, and chocolate fridge cake.

(Okay, I exaggerate. I did get dinner at the Cathcart Arms when I was on shift, and I did walk to my parents’ for lunch from time to time.)

So here is the recipe:

  1. A cup of butter (it looks like about 250g)
  2. A cup of sugar (250ml)
  3. 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
  4. 2 tablespoons of cocoa
  5. 2 eggs
  6. 2 packets of marie biscuits

 Melt the sugar in the butter over low heat. If you make sure the sugar is melted, it will be better, but it’s not imperative. Add the two tablespoons of cocao, stir in until dissolved. Take off the heat. Add the vanilla. Lightly beat the eggs, add to the hot cocoa mixture. The eggs might cook – this is good, I think.

Crunch up the two packets of biscuits roughly. Stir in. You are going to think that two packets are too many but they are not. You will make a very thick, sticky mess. Keep on mixing until the biscuits are covered in the cocoa.

Butter a dish with a low – 5cm-ish – rim. If you choose a round/oval one, you can eat all the off-cuts when you eventually portion the cake into squares, and that, like, doesn’t count.  Press the mixture firmly in. Refrigerate for a couple of hours, until firm.  (It gets very very firm. You may want to portion it before it is completely set.) Cut in squares and eat. Even though it is hard, try to share and not to eat everything in one day because one does get quite sick.

Agents from below

I think advertising agencies do the work of satan. From time to time,  however, it appears that he endows them with some genius, and they produce 30-second narratives that are real gems.  The GM-series (“Waar’s ouma”) and the latest KFC ad (“dude, you’re eating the baby”), I think are examples.  Not that any of these will have survived when the scientists from outer space dig up our bones millennia after the next big rock has fallen, but still.

Barrel of fun

 First of all, I have to say that the Captain Morgan ad with the guys resting their feet on imaginary barrels of rum irritates the bejesus out of me. (I think that’s how you spell bejesus.)

Then, about the movie Hanging Up with Meg Ryan and Diane Keaton and the very funny stupid one from Friends… it’s a pretty good comedy. Sometimes, being from the Hollywood factory, it cannot help itself from slipping into moronity, but there are hilarious moments. Walter Matthau as the malicious, spiteful father is great.

Not being a sentimental person, the end irritated me almost as much as the Captain Morgan ad. The nasty father dying peacefully in his sleep and the sisters loving each other and getting over the sibling rivalry is neither realistic nor attractive. And the long skirt look on Meg was a serious fashion faux pas, although the witty hair I think almost made up for that. Diane Keaton had fantastic legs.

There is a great moment in the film when the cover of Georgia’s (Diane) magazine is revealed and in the picture she is sucking on what looks like a Cohiba Splendido and the caption is “Is 40 the new 30?”. I don’t know about 40-being-the-new-30. On the one hand I think it is true. I certainly feel thirty. (Ahem.) And with the wrinkle iron I don’t look… my age, but I don’t want to BE thirty (or thirty-five), I swear. The thought of living one single year longer than destiny has written for me in the stars is completely exhausting.

I love the cigar in the picture. I have not had one in years, but I loved them. Smoking ages you, you know.