Archive for February, 2011

My first live Oscars, and who I think should and will win them in 2011

February 28, 2011

UPDATE: I won some, I lost some. Checkit. The answers below. If you’re in SA and waiting til you get home to watch, then don’t read this yet. Or don’t read the bits in green. Except this bit.

This will be the first time in my life I’ve watched the Oscars live, and the first time I’ve watched an awards ceremony in a cinema, and the first time I’ve dressed up since I came to California.

I was skyping with a friend in South Africa at 2am this morning and she asked “Oh, what are you going to wear?” And I said “The only thing I haven’t worn since I came to So-Cal”, land of flip flops and hoodies: a dress.

Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, The King’s Speech, 127 Hours, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit, Winter’s Bone
Should win: Black Swan
Contenders Inception, The Fighter, Black Swan, The Social Network
Will Win: The Social Network
WINNER: The King’s Speech Was very obvious from the montage they used in the lead-up, unfortunately.

Falls into my "has to win something" category.

Javier Bardem, Jeff Bridges, Jesse Eisenberg, Colin Firth, James Franco
Should win: Jesse Eisenberg
Will win: Colin Firth
WINNER? Well, I got one right

Annette Bening, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Lawrence, Natalie Portman, Michelle Williams
Should win Natalie Portman
Will win Natalie Portman
WINNER: Natalie Portman

Black Swan, The Fighter, The King’s Speech, The Social Network, True Grit
Should win: David O. Russel for The Fighter
Will win: Darren Aranofsky for Black Swan
WINNER: The King’s Speech (Tom Hooper) – I was way off. They were wrong, though.

Amy Adams, Helene Bonham Carter, Melissa Leo, Hailee Steinfeld, Jacki Weaver
Should win: Amy Adams
Will win: Amy Adams
WINNER: Melissa Leo took it. I was wrong, but it was worth it for her cringe-inducingly tearful, speech, and the hilarity of watching America overreact to what they call the F “Bomb” – thus disrespecting to bombing victims and porn stars alike and getting to be mother grundies while maintaining a hip veneer. So weird…

Christian Bale, John Hawkes, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, Geoffrey Rush
Should win
Christian Bale
Contenders Christian Bale, John Hawkes, Geoffrey Rush
Will win: Christian Bale
WINNER: Christian Bale : The Supporting Actor/Actress category is cursed. Leo swore, and Bale FORGOT HIS OWN WIFE’S NAME FOR FUCK’S SAKE.

Toy Story 3, How to Train Your Dragon, Illusionist
Duh. Toy Story 3

Dogtooth (Greece)
Biutiful (Spain)
In a Better World (Denmark),
Incendies (Canada),
Outside the Law (Hors-la-loi) (Algeria)
I’ve only seen Dogtooth and Biutiful, and of the two, Dogtooth is way better. I’d like to see the Algerian film win… but only from loyalty to my home continent.
WINNER: A Better World

Mike Leigh – Another Year
Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson – The Fighter
Christopher Nolan – Inception
Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg – The Kids Are All Right
David Seidler – The King’s Speech
Tricky… cause I haven’t seen Inception or Another Year.
Will win: The King’s Speech
WINNER: I called it.

Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy – 127 Hours
Aaron Sorkin – The Social Network
John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton & Lee Unkrich – Toy Story 3
Joel Coen & Ethan Coen – True Grit
Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini – Winter’s Bone
Should win: Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy for 127 Hours
Will win: Coen Brothers for True Grit
There’s nothing in this list that I didn’t think was brilliant – I’ve read most of them / seen them.
WINNER: The Social Network

Okay, I’m done. Cinematography-wise, I suspect True Grit will win. I don’t care who wins as long as it isn’t Biutiful or Dogtooth, not cause it wasn’t great in that respect, but because I don’t want to encourage Wankerism in film and because (in Dogtooth’s case) I like seeing people’s heads. WINNER: Inception… which is kinda weird. So many effects, it’s hard to tell if it’s a good call.

Editing… I find hard to judge. I don’t know what materials they had available. Someone who knows more about it needs to call that one. WINNER was Social Network, which makes sense. I mostly forgot I was watching a movie. Which is a sign of good, not bad editing to me.

Thousands of miles and I’m all the way home again

February 27, 2011

Santa Monica is like one layer of the social layer cake (or should that be fruitcake) that was my previous home: Sea Point in Cape Town. In Sea Point, Millionaires live side by side or on top of Middle class yuppies, Congelese refugees sharing a room among five, waiters, models, “models” (the sexy kind), restaurantuers above the shop their family’s clung to for years, old folks who remember when the area had more bagel places and fewer cracklords, well-shod cracklords, trendies, families, single-moms in one-beds, street kids and homeless people… icafes, corner cafes, malls, shelters, churches, bars, whore-houses, schools, late night barber shops, early morning yoga clubs… tumbling over one another for your attention.

Two hundred feet from my (former) poorly-serviced Sea Point apartment with perfect 180 degree sea views... this beach.

Santa Monica just seems to house the super-rich and not-so-much house the super-poor, who trundled their trolleys to their doorways, wrapped themselves in plastic and blanket cocoons and passed out by the time the sun set and I emerged from Dinner #1 of sushi for a walk on the promenade before Dinner #2 at a jazz club.

This picture's for you, Joey and Ben, in honour of all those nights I crashed in your dinasaur room.

Oh, and this one too. Just remember, God only put it there to trick you.

Virgin Mary stars in the Christian Money-Shot

Speed Rabbit (a “jazz” trio whose shared credits include playing with Bright Eyes and er… the UK’s Duffy) sounded bit more like ‘Lude Rabbit most of the time. They mostly seemed to be bored or faking it as they noodled and doodled and jammed their way through their dinner set to a happy and talkative crowd. The food at Angels Piano Bar (a “boasy” place, apparently) was decent though (fresh herbs on a freshly-cooked flat-bread go a long way in this culture of instant cheap food), and my date and I had a cool time time imagining their life – a sort of jazz version of Flight of the Concords. I can be mean that way.

Cancer, how quaint? One day we'll be preserving the shitty tags that are now all over this sign. Humanity never stops being weird as hell.

Santa Monica is a careless mix of perfectly clean, perfectly manicured things and the kind of decay only rampant capitalism breeds. The streets are paved with gold, but if you’ve ever tried to pick up a gold paving stone and run away with it when the cops are approaching, you’ll know how useful THAT is.

In 1928 this wasn't quaint, it was just a shop. Still I doubt this graffiti really deserves to be there. It's not exactly Banksy. It's not even those puffy letters that, while monotonous, are at least hard to do.

The cops, by the way, drive WHITE cars there. In Orange (and I think in LA) they drive black ones. It’s important to know these things. Specially if you’re planning to light up a cigarette which is illegal in most of the city. Go cops!

Lost among the headshots on a film school notice board – someone’s famous secret

February 25, 2011

As all great acting teachers will tell you, doing nothing is serious business. I struggle with these 10-minute breaks they give us at film school. Ten minutes isn’t enough time to actually do anything or go anywhere. But it’s just enough time to wonder whether you should be being productive. I guess people need to pee, and get coffee from the machine, but I don’t see why we all have to do it at the same time.

Any case, I was doing nothing earlier today, in the Actor/Director class interval… Interval! It’s exactly like in interval at the theatre, in which you always just enough time to queue in the insufferable crush of overly-perfumed ladies and pontificating trendies to order a coffee and not enough time to drink it. Except now it’s undergrad directors, who’re always, always short a quarter at the vending machine. Why? Why not a dollar? Or a dime? Always a quarter.

What do you do when you have nothing to do at a party? You stare at the bookshelves. Well there aren’t any in the Dodge College Film School corridors. So instead, I read the notice boards. And tonight, something caught my eye.

I'm like this, except with boyfriends.

Hidden amid the headshots from actors hoping to break in or built their reel, the out-of-date posters for extra expensive courses like the trip to Cannes, the ads for rooms to let and cars to buy… a famous secret, on a postcard. If you turn it over, you get this.

Actors... they're everywhere here in California, but unfortunately not all of them are real. The event happened in December and I could kick myself for missing it.

Turns out it was also an out of date advert. But there was something about seeing it when I’d just come from an acting class, and while surrounded by pictures of actors. The weirdest thing I’ve learned about acting is not how hard it is (it’s really hard) or how much I now respect actors (I really do). The weirdest thing I’ve learned is that though it’s all about portraying other people, most great actors find out how to do this by knowing themselves better. A painful process. And it takes a lot more than a haircut to make it look natural. It takes rediscovering your own experiences and yes, your own secrets, and using them to make feelings for others.

Go to for more – it’s one of my favourite blogs, full of great ideas for short films, and a place where everybody gets their five minutes of infamy without ever getting found out.

The professor I’m learning the little I know about acting from is the awesome Tony Spiridakis.

Jesus loves Amusement parks

February 21, 2011

I’ve discovered Adrenaline – the miracle drug that has remarkably few side effects, unless a slightly stiff neck or the odd bruise counts. In the last few weeks I’ve been to Disney, Skiing, and to Six Flags, where the rollercoasters stretch for a mile.

Those things stuck to the pole are gum. I thought they were beautiful.

These places are so artificial they make Venice look like a real city. But often they’re exactly what I need.

A joke? Took me a whle to realise it was. On Disney's Monstor's Inc. ride.

This ride - the Pinnocchio ride - cures paralysis. Get up and walk! We nicknamed it the "Jesus Ride"

Damn! If only I'd known it was as easy as this, I'd never have wasted all that time thinking.


The scum of the earth: A shortlist from my junkmail

February 17, 2011

I used to send out spam. I mean, not bad spam, good spam. It was for alternative websites I ran. I figured if I couldn’t afford to market and I needed to compete with the big guys, then all means necessary, right? Well not all, just one. Steal email addresses, create a mailing list of people who had published their email addresses on similar sites, and voila. A lot of people thought this was wrong. And email spam is, wait for it, ILLEGAL. You are required, by SA law at least, to provide a one-click opt-out option. But for some reason, it’s completely fine to send people paper spam.

I get spam in my mailbox. Spam under my door. Spammers knocking on my door with coupons and religious tracts on Saturday mornings. And it’s all from easily traceable companies.

They’re taking up space, they’re destroying the planet, and they’re inconveniencing me MUCH more than email spammers, who get filtered straight to deleted items. If not, one click and it’s gone. To get rid of the mound of junkmail I get in a week, I have to take a trip to the rubbish bin. Not only that, but I have to sort through it to make sure I’m not missing bills or slips when I throw it out.

So here’s a shoutout to the asshole companies who are wasting my time and their money, clogging the world up with chemicals, raping the landscape for kaolin deposits, and mulching up forests to feed their paper addiction (while pretending to be green instore by asking you to recycle their shopping bags).

On the left, the mail I consented to receive this week. On the right, a violation of my rights and a hypocritical assault on the environment by the companies listed below.

Norms, Screw you. You never close. And I never eat there. Closet World, screw you. Pollo Loco, you must be mad to think I want your factory farmed, fatty orange chicken. Famous Dave’s – never heard of you til now, and not pleased to meet you. Allstar Kia you suck. Wholesome Choice go to hell, go die in a hole. Pennysaver USA you are satan’s whores. Direct TV go directly to jail. Moneyshow – scammer timeshare types as far as I can tell. Daniel’s Home Center. And so on with the following assholes, Expo Furniture, Big 5 Sporting Goods, CVS (non union, for those who care), Vons, Rite Aid (with me, it’s fucking personal now too), fAbshow inc., Ralphs, your name is vomit, flame Broiler, Sprouts, Albertsons, Food 4 Less, El Super, EZ Lube you know where to shove it right? Alaska Seafood, Smart and Final, La Caretta, Professional Auto Service, Salvation Army, Jack in the Box, OC Mattress, Fresh & Easy, Little Ceasars, Black Angus, Stater Bros, Time Warner Cable… most people have spammed me more than once this week, so I have three fliers from Norms, for instance.

If you are receiving junk mail – paper junk mail like most of America, thanks to the UPS, who encourage it and charge to deliver it – here’s how to take steps to stop it.

“…CALL A CRACKHEAD”, and other policing-related bumper stickers

February 16, 2011

Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit? Nonsense. Bumper stickers are the lowest form of wit. And the slowest, if you’re stuck in traffic. There’s nothing more irritating than having to read the same lame joke over, and over, and over, and over…

I was researching pro-police bumper stickers and got into one of those research spirals that ended in an afternoon nap that ran slightly overtime… and a poorly written 14 pages. Still, to make the best of it, I will blog the bumper stickers I found. Thought these could be mildly amusing if they were arranged a certain way.

I wanna get one of these for my Mustang. Except I don't wanna.

And then you get the people who don’t like the police.

I can do this. I am very good at this.

See what I did there? Right. Well now I’m off to turn myself in.

I'm making a note of this one. You should too.

The bumper sticker for the off-duty policeman. A lot of people (mostly crackheads) would do exactly as suggested, although some apparently prefer cocaine, heroine, or booze, these being more socially acceptable, even upmarket, alternatives.

Moving on to something stupider…

Hey... it's that fictional cop from Crash! Who hopefully will have some sympathy for the next guy/girl...

(Via here’s another.)

This person has an excellent toilet literature collection. TOILIT? Groan. Yeah, that's what s/she said.

Right, that’s enough crass stupidity for tonight. Let’s all stop screwing around and get back to work.

South Africa: The leader of Advertising’s Free World

February 11, 2011

I was watching the Superbowl at someone’s house and eating pizza and drinking beer. The Superbowl is a game in which they play American Football. American Football is a game I don’t understand very well yet. In it, men in spandex play a form of Rugby. And then they stop, and the adverts come on again.

Many brands launch their advertising campaigns at the Superbowl. It’s a big deal. Unfortunately, the adverts aren’t really good. American advertising is not very good. It’s kinda old fashioned. And all the expensive explosions in it can’t hide the lack of real entertainment value.

There are various reasons for this.
1. America allows competitive advertising: While the South African advertising industry had to come up with something as brilliant as “beats the benz” to get away with it – and still was forced to stop airing the advert – Americans advertisers can simply play the point the finger game. Which is almost as boring to watch as it is to play.
2. Americans are scared of offending each other: Not sure why. Maybe cause they’ve all seen what happens to entire countries that offend Americans. But in any case, tip toes are the way to go. So poop jokes. Cute old people. Puppies. Yawn.
3. English rules America: There is simply no equivalent of “Met Eish”. Multiculturalism is not encouraged. It is, in theory, but without encouraging multiple languages, multiple cultures will get lost. Some things can only be said in certain languages, and keeping those languages enriches culture and keeps people on their toes.

4. Litigation kills creativity: If every advert for adult daipers needs to have a long disclaimer about nappy rash, when are we ever going to get to the funny stuff? I ask you.
5. The USA has a thriving film , comedy, and adult film industry: Desperation drives many of South Africa’s creatives into advertising, rather than film, theatre or porn, where they belong.  Here, people have options.

So to save you time, here are the highlights of America’s best superbowl adverts of the year 2011.

And Xtina’s performance with funny comments. Got to say, it was better than the version I heard at the Ducks’ game I attended.

Oh, and just published my latest column. It’s all about how to piss Americans off without firing a single shot. If you get that reference, congratulations on reading the news occasionally.

Declare your Zoll at the SA Revenue Services

February 8, 2011

A random photo taken at the SARS – South African Tax office for Americans who may be lurking on this page.

Photo by Selene Brophy.

Okay, so Zol, as in Dagga, as in Cannabis, as in Marijuana, is with one “L”. But it’s still funny. As a friend Simon Williamson (you have to read his blog – it’s amazing) commented on Selene’s facebook page: “Is that where you have to declare it?”

Jean Pierre Something. Viva la Sexy. Downhill Red. Fragrances of Failure.

February 8, 2011

Have you lost all hope and self-respect? Well then one of these smells is perfect for you.

I love my local “$99c and up Bargain Mart”. They’re always selling something nobody should really buy. And this Valentine’s Day Season, they have what every woman who just can’t get it right is looking for: fragrances so bad that they can be held to blame for the fact that she won’t have a date on the 14th Feb.

I love the fact that you can sample it before you buy, just like in a real parfumerie.

Jean Pierre …Something, a fragrance with realistic scent of Unwashed Frenchman – guaranteed to attracted Doberman Pinchers and really drunk guys at 1.30am. By which time, if you’ve drunk enough of it, you won’t really care.

Then there’s Viva la Sexy – bringing out the communist in your vagina just in time for a threesome. Don’t forget to film it and post it on facebook.

And finally, Downhill Red! The fragrance for the woman who smells like 40 cigarettes a day, anyway, so like, it can’t really get any worse, can it? Or can it? With Downhill Red, yes it can!

I’d say they’re ready for their close-up.

I just want to know where the factory is that makes this stuff.

There’s only one thing worse than a used car dealer…

February 5, 2011

… and that’s an amateur used car dealer. I know, cause I amateur one. Not really. I’m just trying to offload a pretty decent Hyundai Elantra, and so far the process has cost me $400 in repairs and licensing. They can’t really sell a car here unless it is running smoothly. Which is great when you’re buying (specially because used cars here cost half what they do in SA) but it’s a bitch when you’re selling.

And then of course, by advertising on you wind up with opportunists popping out of the woodwork. And they get really angry if you don’t fall for their tricks. Web rage is like road rage, and just as self-righteous, and just as unlikely to have nothing at all to do with right or wrong.

Cars and guns seem to bring out the asshole in everybody. (Photo of a shop window in San Francisco. Look out, hippies.)

There are the usual scammers, claiming that they’re selling a car that used to belong to their husband who died in Afganistan, and that they can’t bear to look at the car – relying on your greed and your opportunism to score some cash.

Then there are the people who email you and offer you ridiculously low price on your used car, relying on your desperation to get a good deal. I replied to one woman called Deniz Michael who offered me $1500 less than my asking price to say: Did you not read the part where I said “No lowballers or dealerships”? Please don’t email me again.

I received the following hilarious reply from Deniz at, and I’m seriously considering telling her to meet me somewhere awful and just not showing up. The only thing stopping me is the fear that she’ll kill someone in her state of rage on the way home. Or accost a stranger she imagines is me and force them to sell them their car for half price.

Look your ad was overpriced. i was trying to help you.  if you haven’t noticed we are in a god damn depression with people losing jobs and housing being put on the street.  Cars aren’t selling on CL.  Your car is still there right.  Has not sold right.
Look I don’t want your fucking car.  There are thousands that posts everyday.
I have a budget of 3000 grand and I sure as hell am not going to pay for a car with over 100grand miles.
Look a little bit of good attitude goes a long way.  Craigslist is for deals not for Market deal priced shit priced at Kelly blue book
In closing I sent you this because I don’t think you understand what it is to price something TO SELLLLLLL
Good day and good luck.  You will need it overpricing on the internet with thousands upon thousands competing with you.
This email was free of charge.  And if you want more advise about the economy go to my youtube channel
and get more advice free of charge.

Thanks, Deniz! I think that “solitary fracture” you refer to in your email address and youtube link must be a rather large one in your head bone. Maybe you should get it looked at before you try communicating with other humanoids in the near future.