Friday, October 30, 2009

Comfy Little Worlds

I have a routine.

Everyday I wake up, I go lectures – most of the time – and in between all the chaos I go to my meals. Here’s the problem, each day I do exactly the same thing with exactly the same people standing across from me… but I don’t know them, I don’t know their lives, I don’t know what they think about before they go to sleep every night, I don’t know that they have children who’ll never even dream of seeing the inside of a lecture room. I just don’t know.

The truth is, it’s a classic case of self absorption, we all do. We never take the time to stop, to step out of our little worlds and to recognise them. So why? Why do I do it? I’m not entirely sure…

Okay well that’s a lie.

I do it because it easier to ignore my neighbours than it is to realise that my comfy little world really isn’t the centre of the universe, who’d have thought! It’s no surprise that, like a lot of students, if I don’t have to know them? I won’t.

That’s why I chose to be different and to try something that to a lot of people really isn’t that amazing. I chose to open my eyes – metaphorically speaking.

I was given the opportunity to challenge myself and to do something I hadn’t done before. Although skydiving or a Santa Monica cruise was appealing, I decided to acknowledge certain people who are really overlooked by our community, often just – accessories to Default, Hindu Halal or Vegetarian.

I got to know the kitchen staff… outside the bondage of bags of McCain’s and my subsequent hours.

You see Georgina used to scare me. Every time she rather passionately slapped smash onto dubiously hygienic plates, yes, I was scared– but then I got to know her. The smile I received when I took the time to ask about her day was indescribable. The following weeks I realised that just a few commonplaces really did mean the world to someone, brightening their day just that little bit more.

Everyone wants to be seen, to be recognised and to feel like there is a reason that they’re standing in front of you doing a job that they probably can’t stand or isn’t worth the menial pay they’re getting. Whether it’s for themselves or their families or to pay medical bills, it is up to you to make it worth it because essentially without them, eight o’clock munchies would really be a whole lot worse.

So try it. Make it worth it for someone, a kitchen lady or someone in the streets; let them know that they’re not alone in their little world and that they’re appreciated. It’s up to you; I know for myself I’ve opened my eyes.

Informing the uninformed!

Journopad offers not only a compelling insight in the enigmatic lifestyle of Journalism students, but carry with it an authority that compels readership. Its appropriate title and engaging blog posts overcome the typical superfluous opinion of the amateur blogger, tackling contemporary issues with a rather glamorous spin. Granted Journopad is merely a student blog, but it is surprisingly informed, exposing its audience to a diverse collage of issues. I found within this unique and rather unconventional blog a rich display of enthralling feminist posts to political debates concerning policies acutely relevant to our public.

Browsing through this blog, there is an evident and embedded sense of individuality as the writer’s characters are lucidly articulated within each contribution. Jetsetter in particular portrays himself as somewhat flamboyant with his overtly sensational posts which, although somewhat ostentatious, tie his opinions together brilliantly. Despite the sense of nonchalance, Journopad is able to remain pleasantly informal without sounding too colloquial and with its fabulous take on the media, adds an exclusive and unparalleled angle to journalism - a welcomed change.

The presentation of this blog is not only impeccably charming and in context with its authors, but remains reputably journalistic without appearing overtly cliché. The photography, although not enthralling or overwhelmingly artistic, lighten the already jovial mood of the blog as it captures the essence of student life. Journopad makes not only for an interesting read but challenges readers with a taste for the unknown, to look beyond the boarders of the average thinker. Essentially it informs the uninformed on what it is to be a part of the turbulent world of media.

Im not crazy i just do journalism

Worn a dress? , yes. Walked backwards for a long time? , yes. Taken a vow of silence?, yes. What can I do that I have never done before. That question I have been pondering for a good week, until two days ago when my answer came quite accidentally. I was walking to a lecture and I was not even 5metres outside my res when someone told me my shirt was inside out, feeling like a fool I turned it around. Worn my clothes inside out? , not yet. So I set off to lunch, jeans, t-shirt, hoody inside out .If I could id also have my shoes inside out.

Ever been on a train and you see that sad looking hobo man walking up and down the train mumbling and singing to himself. The look you give him can be described as a “wow you’re crazy” look. Well I am now all too familiar with that look. Most people just looked at me like I was that crazy guy on the train. Others actually asked me why on earth I was wearing all my clothes inside out at lunch. A very simple “it’s for a journ assignment” got more than a sufficient response from people. Some commented on how if that’s what we do for journ how can it be a university degree and others were generally just entertained. The worst part about the whole experience wasn’t the people who came up to me and spoke to me (to criticize or not) but the people who didn’t. The ones who would sit across the dining hall and stare and whisper to themselves. They were giving me that “wow you’re look”.
I learned two things from this experiment, firstly I shall never wear my clothes inside out again (but am fully prepared to do other stupid things) and secondly I will never give the crazy man on the train that look again. I know how he feels, so next time u see someone you think is crazy, think twice they may be journalism student, or a psychopath.

A Rave Review

I was quite upset as I arrived back to Grahamstown 5 weeks into the final term of the year, predominantly as I missed the major launches of the student blogs. In order to gage with the blog format I have been following mine and one other blog quite closely – Not only is this blog written by my friends, but by good stylistic writers. Rant-a-view includes articles that depict the student lifestyle perfectly, and there is even a virtual goldfish pond to keep your cursor happy. As the name of the blog suggests, there are various articles about the nuisances of varsity; such as traitorous walks up down the hill to lectures which make that five day break between weekends unbearable. I particularly enjoy the personal articles such as one of the writers’ describing how she deals with racial slurs from her friends in and out of lectures. On another hand, there are articles which celebrate this unique university experience that we live in – the parties in Grahamstown. There are reviews on parties from over the weekend as well as thoughts on future parties that will draw us away from exams. Although the writers all dwell on their own experiences, the casual yet well-written style ties all the articles into an interesting student blog. I enjoy this blog as it has a casual, quirky and playful tone that is authentically written by opinionated journalists.

But the best part is; the goldfish never die.

I dont think you know what i wrote last semester

Four people in one tutorial group get randomly put together and are told to make a blog. For any student the idea of a group project is one that brings sadness to the heart. The fighting , the lack of communication, the mismanagement that occurs. All these things generally make group projects the bane of university (after exams of course) , but every now and then it works. The group clicks and the project is good. is that group. The relaxed, informal , yet informative style is carried through by all the writers, they all seem to have the same idea with what they are doing. They are also very different people and so the posts cover a vast range of interests from anti-racism protests to the ANC’s overspending. However despite how good the writing may be the blog lacks that “excitement” readers look for; the white on black writing is difficult to read after a while and with a few of the posts being very long one tends to stop reading some way toward the end. The Name on the other hand, well “iknowwahtyouwrotelastsemester” is interesting, a nice play on the movie series “ I know what you did last summer” but that’s all its got, a decent pun. Don’t get me wrong I really enjoyed reading the blog, but content is all it has. Give it more life and I would want to visit it every day.

Just add vodka

Summer camp was a place to meet new friends and make innocent paper plates over the summer holidays. I had spent the build up to my summer holidays in 1998 preparing my mud-friendly wardrobe and stylish Power Rangers lunch box for my first camping experience away from home. This seemingly jovial camp trip was cut short as I performed a summersault down the inflatable wet water slide. Needless to say I spent the next two weeks at home with a white block of sponge around my neck.
So last Saturday when our friend was throwing his 21st “Big Kids Party” we all rushed into our coordinating outfits with matching pigtails and pacifiers. On entry we saw a giant jumping castle and 100 litres of punch; I was more interested in how we would divide 100 litres into 150 guests rather than the menacing bright yellow jumping castle staring me in the eye. For the duration of the afternoon I played drinking games on the benches, blew bubbles, played pass-the-explicit-parcel; anything to keep my attention away from the generating castle in the centre of the lawn. As the music dimmed, we were informed that the party was drawing to a close and all the blurry-eyed big kids ran to the stairs of the castle. With my punch in hand, I found myself being dragged by my friends and started to mount the moving stairs. My apprehension and childhood-flashbacks were lost amongst the bright balloons and swarms of people waiting to take their last jump behind me. So I jumped. No summersault, no pencil jump or head dive; just a basic slip into the muddy water at the end. As I made my abrupt fall into the end of the slide, I felt like I had finally conquered the same thing that had cut my summer camp two weeks short. I clambered off the sides as I was reunited with my empty glass. Once again, my happiness was short-lived as I heard the roar of an inebriated jock slam into the walls of the slide and send me tumbling onto the tree stump with surrounding concrete blocks.
So it’s true, alcohol can loosen your inhibitions and make you scream that little bit louder on a slide. Whether I decide to be drunk or not, it’s safe to say I’m dressing as Bubble Boy on any future water slide.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Don't wanna be an American idiot

I don’t know what it was about teenage American series that kept me addicted throughout high school. I used to spend my late afternoons in front of my television glancing at my homework while a glorified, uninteresting bimbo ranted about her life in the Hollywood Hills, and somehow found it entertaining. Fortunately, during second term sitting in res that changed as a friend and I watched an episode of Skins, and since then they have not been deleted off our laptops.
Skins follows the lives of a group of modern, blunt and believable teenagers throughout their last years of high school in Bristol, England. I first read about this fictional series in Dazed and Confused magazine, and again on the internet when I saw that one of my favourite bands’ music was featured throughout the series. Each episode is dedicated to a specific character, and not only are the story lines compelling and relevant to modern, down-to-earth teenagers; but the clever cinematography and alternative soundtrack make each hour long episode unique and provoking. There are no visits to Starbucks or mindless sagas about prom king; but rather authentic scenes from college life such as homosexuality, personality disorders, religion, underage sex, dysfunctional families and death.

What makes this show so convincing is that it is written by teenagers, and was originally created by a father and son duo in Bristol – a working to middle class area – so each character’s stories are well-thought-out and shed a genuine perspective on young personas. I would recommend any student to find time to watch it and (without sounding like television has a large influence on my life), it has reminded me that there is a lot more to being a functional young adult than fake tan and BMWs.

Rocking the Daisies 2009

This year’s annual Rocking the Daisies music festival was held in the Cloof Wine Estate in the small rural town of Darling outside of Cape Town from October 9 – 11. The event presented over 30 bands, 30 DJs, comedy acts amongst fantastic organic food to the bopping, tree-hugging crowds. It is no surprise that this year’s event was the most successful yet, with well over 10 000 people descending to, what some say, South African’s answer to Glastonbury. Across three stages spanned some of the best local bands such as: aKing, Goldfish, Desmond & The Tutus, Freshly Ground, Just Jinger, Prime Circle, 340ml, Bed on Bricks, Chamber Concept and many more up and coming musicians showcasing great musical talent to local music fans. When the speakers left ears ringing, crowds could listen to Afrikaans, unplugged or improvised comedy or chill on hay stacks listening to some Bomvu tribal drummers. Not only were there seven beer tents, bars and general teenage debauchery in the daisy dens…yes, there were sectioned daisy dens… but crowds of all ages were well-catered for. There were pony rides, a kid arena and adjacent lake with lifeguards to keep the little ones happy over the three days. The Kreef Hotel, with hot showers and buffet breakfasts, was suitably situated more than a plastic cup’s throw away from the main stages for those who weren’t prepared to sleep in a plastic box.
In only its fourth year, it is obvious that Rocking the Daisies will continue to showcase some of South Africa’s finest alternative bands to the growing local music enthusiasts. If you didn’t get to frolic in this year’s daisies, be sure to grab some friends, a car and some gum boots to next year’s spring event. But remember; No weapons, No picking of flowers, No litter and No attitude.

The Painters of Battles

Photograph by Halden Krog

To be a journalist is to be empowered. You hold in your hands the tools to a blank canvas – but it is what you choose to paint that defines you. Choice. Each day is a choice, to capture the truth or to manipulate reality to satisfy our own moral conscience.

Too often the individual becomes the product, commercialised, dehumanised and we forget to engage with the real life tragedy. Our humanity is fading as journalism becomes more callous and competitive, wartime photography staining the pages of our media with decapitated bodies.

We too are obliged to the industry to deliver a product, a conscience simply a crippling luxury. Halden Krog, photographer of the infamous Burning Man, questions at what point does one take a picture or choose to lay down their camera - no longer a photojournalist but a human being with a moral obligation to save a life.

We are at war with our own morality, and we are faced with a choice whether to answer the call of our conscience and risk falsifying the truth. A critic of The Painter of Battles by former wartime journalist, Arturo Perez-Reverte, remarked, “Is there a moral obligation on the part of the photographer to not capture certain moments, lest they create a tainted vision that alters reality?”

Capturing the truth is intrinsic to our nature but there is a price that comes with this responsibility. As human beings are torched alive we step back, observe and mechanically disengage ourselves from the humanising character of interference.

The passion is dead.

Why waste the time

Throughout the year it has always been an issue, attending lectures. Attending lectures has probably been an issue since the days of Plato’s Academy. But why wouldn’t one want to attend lectures; they are paid for, they are[somewhat]informative, and they are boring. Yes they are normally very boring. A Prime example, Philosophy ITP term one was packed every lecture (philosophy of religion was the topic), the lecturer was fun exciting, he made it interesting and we learned a lot, the fact that is was first term might have helped a bit too. Either way the lecture room was filled. Let’s look at Politics one, that was generally just boring, the whole way through, given there was the odd good week or two but that was the because the content happened to appeal to the class. In general though everything could be self-studied and all slides were put on R.U connected , so why go? This kind of thinking pretty much applies to all subjects in university. There are a few exceptions, if one does Maths or Chemistry you would have to be insanely intelligent to bunk lectures and still pass. With BA subjects however, you pretty much just need a pulse and a little work ethic to do the work, readings, tutorials and essays required on time. A lot of people aren’t ashamed that they don’t attend lectures, they feel it a waste of time, many other people think the ‘bunkers’ are just being ignorant. Either way you look at it comes down to who you are, can you self study or do you have to have the help of the lectures to get you through the course. I don’t attend many lectures.

Tomorrow Converse will still be popular

In 1917 Marquis M. Converse must have been awfully chuffed when basketball star, Charles H. Taylor, or ‘Chuck’, walked into his shoe store – Converse Rubber Shoe Company – and complained about sore feet. Chuck was given a job as an ambassador for the company, enthusiastically promoting Converse shoes around the United States. He did this until he died in 1969. There’s nothing to get sales up like a star sporting the shoe and Converse’s ‘Red Chuck Taylor’ shoe has become iconic for the brand – the traditional red canvas takkie.

Somewhere in between 1917 and 2009 the shoe become widely popular amongst the alternative crowd. Your Nirvana-grunge-rock-out uniform is incomplete without All Stars. While such artistic individuals pride themselves on their ‘alternative’ appearance, deviating from ‘jock’ brands, it appears that some Converse-lovers are guilty of simply conforming to another sub-culture. In some instances (generally a huddle of grade ten ‘emos’ standing outside Doors Night Club, wondering whose fake ID will do the job) I equate the flock of Converse pairs with the ‘jock’ mandatory Lacoste.

Granted, the shoe is comfortable. Granted, the shoe’s look is a classic. Not granted, the shoe’s a substitute for limited music knowledge and ticket to Indie-rock moshing.

Despite the popularity of the ‘Chuck Taylor’ model, Converse has re-vamped, coming out with a few striking styles, such as ‘The Weapon’ and later, ‘The Loaded Weapon’. It’s sad that these show little resemblance to the time-less original, but fortunately Converse still manufactures ‘Chuck Taylor’ and is likely to do so for a while.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Promises get you prizes?!

Noble Peace Prize Based on Promises?

Reactions across America on Friday ranged from outrage to shock to enthusiasm. While some are glad that Obama was recognized for his initiatives, others feel that Obama's efforts towards peace have not yielded results. This year there was a record number of 205 nominations for one of the world’s most coveted prizes. There is an idea, one that is undeniable, that Obama does not deserve the prize. He hasn’t done anything yet.

His two major achievements are being named as America’s first black president and being the first American president to chair the UN general assembly. When you compare that to another Noble prize winner it’s obvious that he has done also nothing. Nelson Mandela spent 26 years in jail for the liberation of South Africa and was released to start democracy and be the first freely elected president in the most racist country in the world. Obama promised to try and work on nuclear non-proliferation.

The Committee that selects the winner said “Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future” But that’s the problem a lot of people have with the selection of Obama, he has provided hope, with no results. It’s like giving some their high school certificate at the start of first year because they show the potential to go through and finish school with top marks.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Obama for the win!

The Norwegian Nobel Committee’s decision to award Barack Obama with the Nobel Peace Prize was met with mixed feelings. The Taliban, reports the BBC, weren’t too impressed:

“We have seen no change in his strategy for peace. He has done nothing for peace in Afghanistan. He has not taken a single step for peace in Afghanistan or to make this country stable.”

BBC’s recognition of the Taliban’s opinion allows readers to realise that this militant group’s views are aligned with the likes of Mrs Maguire – the Nobel Peace Prize winner of 1976. Maguire, a peace campaigner, commented that, “President Obama has yet to prove that he will move seriously on the Middle East, that he will end the war in Afghanistan and many other issues.”

Obama, too, was surprised when woken up on Friday morning and was informed about his win. In true diplomatic fashion, he said he doesn’t deserve the award “in company of so many of the transformative figures who’ve been honoured by this prize”. It’s appropriate that Obama’s surprise is reported – it’s hardly his fault he won, he doesn’t deserve to be demonised about it.

And so the question stands; why did he get the Nobel Peace Prize? The Noble Committee’s ‘Announcement’ waxed lyrical about Obama’s policies, saying, “Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position” and “thanks to Obama's initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting”. The committee is obliged to defend their decision, but unfortunately, we’re not informed as to why other candidates, such as Morgan Tsvangirai, didn’t make the grade. It reeks of political suck up.

Alfred Nobel, the initiator of the Nobel Peace Prize Awards, was ironically the inventor of dynamite. So perhaps a bittersweet reception is in the nature of the prize.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Martian Mayhem in Moscow - The Galactic Gaffe

By Natalia Carvalho

Photograph taken from the

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

a relatively peaceful civilisation, recently plagued by the dark side, searches for a new beginning - on Earth.

Or so it seems.

As Muscovites look to the skies, the arrival of an unusual and suspect object has UFO enthusiasts scrabbling for their homemade extraterrestrial communicators. Could this really be a strange cosmic convergence of two opposing civilisations? As onlookers remain fixated on the intruding force, perhaps those creepy yet bizarrely cute green Martians, in their petite crash helmets, are at this very moment strategizing over world domination.

Who knows, behind H.G Wells’ speculation of alien invasion, there might really be a rather intriguing tripod Mothership burrowed deep beneath your house. Paranoid? Maybe. But let’s not get too excited. As much as we might be tempted to write those condescending welcome speeches, the reality is we won’t be shaking any green hands, assuming they have those, anytime soon.

Meteorologists conclude the simple explanation for the saucer-like halo hovering above Moscow city is purely an optical illusion created by intrusive artic air. So instead of gamma ray weaponry or suspicions over Russian weather modification technology, the soviet district should be expecting light to heavy showers and maybe a few false extraterrestrial alarms.

Whether environmentalists clamber down from their trees to protest industrial emission or the smog effect, I am quite content to say that world peace is secure for now. Alas, our green Martian friends must continue their journey to the motherland, their strategizing over world domination circumvented by a somewhat anti-climax of cloud formation.