Recently in Shameless Plugging Category

I don't indulge in cross-posting too often, so I'm hoping that you'll forgive me for shamelessly copying a post I wrote for my other (equally neglected) blog. Not because I think it's particularly well-written (please, I wish! I'm still me, no matter where I blog!), but because my subject is a dear friend who has just released a CD and I'm trying to do whatever I can to drum up some support for him. He absolutely deserves it!


It was a summer night in Washington, D.C. during the late ‘90’s when I met him for the first time.


Some of the other South African Au Pairs and I were in the Zoo Bar – a joint so named because of its proximity to the National Zoo, and not merely because the patrons had a tendency to behave like animals after knocking back a few. The tiny space was air-conditioned and we sidled in deeper, past the rest of the Friday night revellers, seeking liquid confidence and respite from the sticky and oppressive humidity outside.

Despite the blast of refreshingly chilled air enveloping us inside, the crowd was positively cookin’. A swinging jazz band was performing some cool, foot-tapping covers. A lifelong lover of jazz, I craned my neck from where we had managed to inch our way closer to the bar counter to try and get a better view of the musicians.

My eyes were immediately drawn to the sax player. He was playing a solo and getting increasingly lost in the music – venturing to that other-worldly plane where people travel to when they are engrossed in doing what they were absolutely BORN to do. With his head thrown back, eyes closed, fingers darting lightly across the keys; his passion for his instrument was evident, surging through his entire body. “Wow, he’s goooooood,” I thought to myself, thoroughly impressed.

A few lively tunes later, he leaned towards the mic and said: “Thank you! We’re just going to take a short break. We’ll be right back.” I perked up immediately. That accent… it was unmistakable. But I asked the bartender anyway, just to be sure. He confirmed with a cheerful shout: “Hey Syd! We have some more South Africans in the house over here! And they’re all prettier than you!”

When Sydney Banda warmly shook our hands that night – fellow countrymen from diverse backgrounds thrown together by happenstance on the other side of the world – I had no idea that this extremely kind and remarkably talented guy was to become one of my dearest friends and that our friendship would span across years and continents.

A few days ago, I opened a parcel postmarked Washington, D.C. and squealed with delight. It was from Sydney and it contained his long awaited CD, Groovin’. I couldn’t open it fast enough to play it, but had to pause when I saw that he had kept a promise he had made me a long time ago: in a sweet and touching gesture, he had inscribed and autographed the inside cover of the sleeve for me.

The road to this glorious moment, of having an actual 12-track CD filled almost entirely with his own music (only two of the twelve tracks on the disc were not composed by him), has been a long and often difficult one for Sydney.

His musical journey began in the dusty streets of his childhood hometown, a township in KwaZulu-Natal called Enkukwini. In that township, located near a small town called Stanger, six-year old Sydney found music when he began making and playing rough, homemade guitars hewn out of petrol cans with strings fashioned from fishing line. “At that time,” Syd writes in an e-mail to me, “every township kid had or played a homemade guitar.”

When he was nine years old, he switched from playing homemade guitars to a red plastic pennywhistle, an instrument he showed a natural talent for by mastering it within three months.

“At age eleven, my aunt bought me my first Bp Horner pennywhistle. I taught myself how to play it and at the age of thirteen I had my own pennywhistle band called MawMaw.”

MawMaw played kwela and jive – lively, traditional music with a jazzy twist. They performed on street corners until the police came and chased them away. Eventually the police stopped shooing them. Not because they had given up, but because by then, the music and the skill of the young musicians had won them over. “Finally they ended up enjoying it too!”

Around 1959/1960, young Sydney got his first big break when he was invited to play with the Can-Can Jazz Band at the Stanger Town Hall.  “That was my first time performing with amplified musical equipment.  I got my first publicity, with my picture appearing on the front page of the local newspaper.”

The band master for that performance was a local police officer called Mr. Sibiya. He invited Sydney to his house in Tshlenkosi township and there, Syd first encountered the instrument which was to become his meal ticket: the saxophone. Over the next two months, Syd walked 11 kilometres to Mr. Sibiya’s house and, once again, taught himself to play another instrument.

Sydney’s skill on the sax has served him well. It supported him through years in Malawi and later also in the United States – still his home today. In the States, career highlights have included playing at President Bill Clinton’s Inaugural balls (both in 1993 and 1997), performing for Prince Charles and Camilla when they paid a royal visit to Washington, D.C. and performing for other big name celebs such as Naomi Judd (yes, indeed, mother of actress Ashley and singer Winona) and Dame Helen Mirren.

With Groovin’, Sydney has decided to strike a sentimental path, revisit his youth and return to his original musical roots. Although he can be heard playing the sax, this album is entirely devoted to the pennywhistle. He still has the original Horner Bp pennywhistle given to him by his aunt, which can be heard on a number of tracks on the album. In addition to that pennywhistle, he also plays a Horner C and G on the CD.

The album is marketed as World Music, but it has an unmistakable Afro Pop flavour. The only two covers on the track are Red River Valley and a gorgeous arrangement of the Irish classic Danny Boy. Sydney chose Red River Valley because it was one of the first songs he played professionally. Danny Boy was added at the request of a friend, who (correctly) thought that it would sound great on pennywhistle. The rest of the tracks were all composed by Sydney.

To sample all the tracks and buy a copy of Sydney’s album, visit the CD Baby website

It's aliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiive!

The "it" in question being me.

Yes, the snake didn't get me after all! I'm actually back in my own little hovel, which, although far tinier than my sister and brother-in-law's gorgeous, sprawling farmhouse, is at least, mercifully, devoid of reptiles and rodents.

*Knocks on wooden forehead.*

Work has been very busy, but I'm not complaining at all (well, a little bit... but that's just because I'm TIRED), because I'm just too grateful to still HAVE work as a writer. (ME!?!? Working as a WRITER!! Sorry. After all this time I still have moments of utter disbelief that there are people willing to pay the likes of me to do this. I'm extremely grateful, every single day.)

And speaking of writing... I have, quite accidentally, stumbled upon a new mini-hobby of sorts.

Remember my initial aversion to join Twitter? I didn't actually ever see the point of it, to be honest. To me, it seemed too much like glorified texting - which I hate, because I'm way too verbose to keep myself within such stingy word constraints. Anyway, as you may or may not recall, she finally convinced me to do it.

After a few hesitant and yet mind-numbingly boring and uninspired tweets, my twitter page became yet another web spot for me to neglect and ignore. But then I read about this Canadian author called Arjun Basu.

Allow me to nick the rest of this story from my other (equally neglected) blog:

Sometimes true creative genius sprouts forth and flourishes in the most unlikely places.

When Canadian writer and editor Arjun Basu signed up for his own Twitter account at the micro-blogging Web site, his initial tweets were, he admits, just as banal and boring as that of the next guy.

Sure, Twitter was already graced by a few poetic souls dreaming up haikus (or 'twaikus', as it was quickly dubbed) within the 140 character posting constraints imposed by the site, but most users were merely tweeting about the inane minutiae about their lives. There were a lot of uninspired "Standing in line" and "Starving" postings in the site's early days.

One day, as Arjun was staring at his blank Twitter box, wondering what to type, an image of a child trying to reach a cookie on a table entered his mind, and he decided to post it to Twitter as a short (VERY short) story.

After that, he wrote another. And another. And soon, the published author and former magazine editor had a following of more than 7 000 eagerly devouring his every Twister - for that's what he calls his 140-character short story creations.

A literary agent soon came calling. There has even been talk that some of his byte-sized pieces of micro-fiction could eventually be used as sources for really short films!

These days, as Twitter continues to expand as a global source of news and entertainment, Arjun has also become a bit of a celebrity. He and his creations receive media attention almost daily. It was through one such online news story, in fact, that I came to learn about him and his Twisters. I immediately found his Twitter page, signed up to follow him and was soon enraptured by his brilliant stories.

Here, just to give you a tiny taste, are some of my favourites by him:
"When he stroked her shoulder softly she felt it all the way in her toes. And she knew she would end up marrying him. Because she had no legs"

And this:
"He fell in love with the girl at the post office. But because her job was so tragic he never asked her out. His stamp collection is enormous"

This past weekend, I read another newspaper story featuring Arjun and his Twisters. Suddenly inspired, I wrote the following tweet on my own Twitter page: "
Inspired by the brilliant @arjunbasu, I've decided to try my own clumsy hand at writing #twisters and #twitterature. Stay tuned for 1st try."

A few minutes later, I posted my first ever Twitter short story: "
She looked too wired, so when she nervously asked for coffee, he gave her decaf. After the explosion, he saw her face on TV: suicide bomber."

A few hours later, much to my absolute astonishment and delight, I received a private message on Twitter from Arjun Basu himself!
He was very gracious and kind and told me to "keep going"!!!

Needless to say, I was absolutely floored. I never in a MILLION years thought that he would ever even notice my tweets, let alone acknowledge it!

And so, with Arjun's permission and blessing, I have been keeping at it. I've just posted my fourth attempt and I have to tell you, it's amazingly difficult to try and create a coherent story in just 140 characters. (Remember also that every punctuation mark and space also count as different characters! Also, I've decided to at times resort to American spelling, since it's a bit more economic than ours!) Writing such short shorts is brilliant exercise for firing up and jolting the old creative writing brain, though, but also terribly intimidating.

I can only hope to one day be even HALF as good as the extraordinarily talented Mr. Arjun Basu!
RS*: "We need to talk."

RSTB**: "Oh?"

RS: "Yes..."

RSTB: "So wait... when you say "we", do you think that I have anything to talk to YOU about?"

RS: "Please don't get so technical? You always do this! Over-analysing everything. It's quite annoying."

RSTB: *Sulks* "Fine, what do YOU have to talk to ME about? Can't you just write it down and press send like you always do when you wish to communicate?"

RS: "Funny you should put it that way, because that actually kind of ties in with what I have to tell you."

RSTB: "Oh?"

RS: "Yes. You see... I'm... well... I have not been exclusive with you."

RSTB: "What do you mean?"

RS: "There's been another..."

RSTB: "WHAT?"

RS: "Wait, calm down... it's not what you think."

RSTB: "FIRST of all, do NOT tell me what I think. You can't POSSIBLY know what I think. Besides, you've never CARED about MY thoughts. You've only ever used me to channel your own precious thoughts. Well, honey, I've news for you. Your thoughts? They ain't so precious, baby! Also? What will you tell me next? That 'it's not me, it's you...'?"

RS: "No."

RSTB: "WELLTHATISJU... What? So it IS me then, is it?"

RS: "No, of COURSE not. Would you please just listen to me? I strayed out of necessity, see?"

RSTB: "Oh, right, the 'I have absolutely no impulse control' excuse?"

RS: "I didn't want to have to tell you this, but you leave me no choice. I'm doing it for US. That one gives me a bit of money, see, and so..."

RSTB: "Why, you little materialistic cow..."

RS: "Did you just call me LITTLE? Thank you!! Okay, seriously... not a lot of money, understand, but enough for me to be able to keep you. See? I told you, I'm doing it for us, because I'd really like to keep us together. And this way I can actually afford your upkeep, because, well... you're not cheap."

RSTB: "And here I've been under the impression that romance was dead!"

*RS: Redsaid
**RSTB: Redsaid the Blog
*Edited to say: I am so ashamed. The first time around, I linked to the WRONG BLOG! (I guess that kind of makes us even now? Naah, I'll still delight in tarnishing her reputation as a novice blogger by associating her with the likes of me!)

**Edited yet again to say: And now the title of this blog post isn't even applicable anymore, because she has changed her blogging name to Silverspoon! (She had to, there was already a Foodjunkie on on the FoodBlogs.24.)

The foodjunkie first popped up in my comments box circa 2005.

I could tell from the e-mail address that it was someone from my 'real life'. It was such a pleasant surprise to discover that she was actually reading this. (Well, yes, her, or ANYONE really.)

I was still in the United States at that time, and had not seen her in a number of years.

Now I'm back in South Africa and we see each other often.

Still, I'm thrilled that she has finally decided to start a blog!

I would tell you that we are related, her and I, but no one would believe me. She's far prettier, for one. Also, people can't believe that a girl who can cook as amazingly well as she does, can POSSIBLY share DNA with the likes of one who manages to burn water. (Me, in case you need a reminder.)

Then again, perhaps it's high time that I avenge the fact that I was already notorious by association when I entered high school, thanks to this very sister of mine!

P.S. I'm so glad nothing newsworthy seems to be going on anywhere in the world. I can't think of any other conceivable reason for one of my blog entries ending up on MSN South Africa again!
Before I explain today's rather titillating title...

Nothing else ever came of last week's horrorscope. Remember? The one that had promised me that my dreams would come true on Thursday?

Well, it didn't.

So I thought, maybe they meant THIS Thursday. But apparently not, because it's already 9pm here, and, well, naught. I'm still in South Africa. I'm still unpublished. I'm still broke.

But!

Let's not allow a dark cloud of despair to mar our usual sunny dispositions, shall we?

Because we can always make someone else's dreams come true!

And here's where my Cowboys come in. They have been pre-nominated for the 2008 Weblog Awards! I don't think I need to tell anyone what an Extremely BIG Deal that is!

Now, as I understand it, people need to second and third and fourth and whatever-high-amount-we-can-get-up-to their nomination. That way, they have a better chance of ending up being among the final nominees.

Their blog has been nominated in the Best Design category, and with good reason. It is a really gorgeous design, extremely retro film noir, depicting them all as smouldering 1940s gumshoes.

In fact, I wouldn't mind at all to have one or two of them tailing ME around!

Then again, such a pointless exercise is bound to kill them, because they will all simply be bored to death!  

So please help them out by going to this link and just clicking on the green plus sign below any of the Wetwired entries?

 


"Virgo dear, make a list of all your dreams. On Thursday, some of it will begin to come true."

That is more or less a translation of my horoscope as it appeared in last Saturday's Afrikaans daily.

I remember that one, because the astrologist doesn't always address me that fondly. In fact, I've long since suspected that she (he?) has it in for Virgos...

("You, Virgo, aren't a perfectionist. You are merely an endlessly lazy, good-for-nothing procrastinator who then conveniently blames never accomplishing anything on a fear of being imperfect." That was an almost-but-not-even-really-nearly verbatim quote of a previous horoscope. See what I mean though?)

But Saturday's horoscope also stuck in my memory, because it's not often that the horoscope gets that specific and mention actual days. Usually it is far more vague, committing only to "your fortune should change around the middle of a month. Not a particular month. Just any old month in any old (or new) year."

Which I've never taken seriously, because, well, I've never HAD a fortune!! (Plus, even if I did have one? It never says whether it will change for better or for worse, the cowards!)

Now, before all of you, my esteemed and highly intellectual imaginary readers, scoff at me for believing in such claptrap, let me assure you that, of course I don't believe in these things! I merely read it because it happens to appear near the crossword puzzles - which I always attempt in my endless pursuit towards intellectual stimulation. (So what if it's a few pages removed from the actual crossword puzzles? I did say NEAR. And that is SUCH a relative concept, isn't it?)

Anyway, so I've been rather looking forward to tomorrow. In an extremely skeptical manner, of course, but still. I figured that even if all of it ended up being hogwash, my time of fervent hoping mild curiosity would not all have been for naught since Thursday is, after all, just a day away from the weekend. Which would immediately give me something else to look forward to.

(Even if I do still spend all of my weekends alone. By myself. Solitary.)

When I woke up today, there was no indication that this would be a supremely remarkable day.

I staggered to the kitchen, as always, blindly following the intoxicating scent of coffee.

Then, once I had been sufficiently caffeinated (which really, is never), I begun researching and writing, as always. (No need for all of you to know that I procrastinate and get distracted with blog-reading for hours and hours first!)

I posted a story to this community blog site I also write for.

And carried on with my day.

Later, I went to this site. I sometimes trawl it for additional distraction research.

And thought I didn't have nearly enough coffee in me and that I was surely hallucinating when I saw this: 

Words. Written by me. (Complete with an annoying grammar mistake which I had picked up and fixed in my actual post... but apparently that was not before some delusional creature benevolent soul had deemed it worthy of appearing on freaking MSN SOUTH AFRICA!!)

AND THEN... JUST WHEN I THOUGHT (okaysorryI'llstopscreamingnow) that my day couldn't POSSIBLY get any better, I received an e-mail with this subject:

YOU ARE A WINNER!

Which I of course immediately dismissed as spam.

Until I saw the reputable name of the sender. On whose blog I had entered a giveaway contest just yesterday, with absolutely no hope of actually winning!

Thank you so much, all of you lovelies at the oh-so-chic Elle Decoration SA blog! Your superb writing, stunning photography and impeccable sense of style are what mere mortals like me can only HOPE to aspire to! (Not to abuse the generosity you are already showing me? But would you accept unsolicited writing from a rather deranged blogger who just so happens to be a freelance writer? One who has always dreamed of writing for any member of the Elle family?) And thank you Putuymayo World Music! I've been a genuine fan of the label for a long time. In fact, during my years in reversed-exile, your African compilations were a constant companion, a soothing balm for my heart-ache and homesickness. And merci beaucoup to Mme Françoise Hardy for having a son, whom I correctly identified in order to win! I think Thomas Dutronc has just become my favourite name. Ever. In fact, since I loathe and despise my own so much (and the poor dears at Elle were subjected to it, as I had to identify myself when I entered the contest), I think I might change my name to Thomas. Non?

Okay, maybe not.  

And thank you, my horrorscope, for once getting it almost right! 

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

I've appointed a campaign manager (well, 'appoint' would imply that she 1) is getting paid 2) had a choice in the matter - but let's not get bogged down by too many minor or major technicalities) to help take me through these final, bleak hours of my futile campaign.

So here, almost verbatim-ly (ED: Is that even a WORD? RED: If you MUST know, the -ly add-on is my attempt at doing an Irish lilt) in her words, is my final plea...

“If I win the Can You Twist competition I, Red, will ensure a brighter future for the world’s children. (RED: And dogs. ED: ... RED: Shut up!) Everyone who wants to work will have a job, and everyone that wants to lounge around and do nothing will get to do that as well, while getting paid.

I, Red, pledge to lower taxes, cholesterol, and the common denominator. They said it couldn’t get lower… I say THEY HAVEN’T TRIED HARD ENOUGH.

So vote for me, Red*, in the Can You Twist competition today, because if you don’t someone else might win and fuck** up your life completely.

Paid for by the People Who Loaned Money to Red and Now Need It Back, But Won’t Get It Unless She Wins Foundation."

*My real, and most unfortunate name, is the one that almost looks like 'bagel', but isn't pronounced even remotely the same as bagel. You need to know that for voting purposes. But just to be clear, my name is NOT Alice, Jeanne, Bridget, Laurian or Nikki...

**Apparently that word is Irish for muck. Because she is Irish. With 110% pure Guinness coursing through her veins to prove it.

We have officially entered the homestretch.

There are only three way less than two days 24 hours left in which you, my most beloved imaginary readers (and your very real friends, relatives and colleagues) can cast your votes for me in the 2008 South African Blog Awards (for which the likes of me, in what could only have been a gross oversight or serious glitch in the time/space continuum, has miraculously been nominated for in three (yes THREE!) different categories), and well... desperate times, I think you'd agree, call for the most desperate of measures.

Which leaves me with little choice but to pull out the big guns. Now, this could either mean whipping out my spectacular DDD boobs... (which would mean having that, so... that's a no then), or resorting to tears a la Hillary Clinton did back in January before the New Hampshire Primaries... and trust me, on me? That would be FAR scarier.

OR? I could simply follow the example of most African politicians and resort to good, old-fashioned bribery and exploitation.

I've chosen the latter.

The bribed: That would be you, your friends, your relatives, your colleagues, and your pets. No seriously... no need for opposable thumbs to vote. At this point we don't discriminate or pay heed to minor technicalities like that. As long as Fluffy, Rover, Tinkerbell and Meatball have e-mail addresses of their own. Only one vote per e-mail address, but luckily, nowadays, people (and animals?) have many secondary e-mail addresses. See how great that is for this particular exercise? (And here you thought you would never again find a use for that other old hotmail address that has been overtaken by spam...)

The exploited: That would be my very, very sweet and attractive roommate.

Confused?

Don't worry, she is too. But no! I assure you: I DO have her permission for this. Well, if we use the term permission loosely...

As if living within close proximity to me and my coffee-at-3a.m. habit isn't... um... challenging enough on anyone's senses and sensibilities, the saintly girl also puts up with my incessant chattering, my off-key-yet-enthusiastic singing in the shower and my ability to almost hourly, shed the equivalent of the amount of hair that can be found in Amy W(h)inehouse's beehive weave.

And now? I am totally, completely, utterly and shamelessly exploiting her beauty (which she has more than enough of to go around, so really, it's only fair that she should pay for it in this way then) and her youth by launching the following desperate campaign (which makes even the dirtiest antics among American presidential candidates seem childish and amateurish):

Vote for Redsaid in the 2008 South African Blog Awards, and You Could Win a Date With Roommate Kate!

We're still ironing out the logistics... which is challenging, to say the least, since I don't know how to either iron or be logical. At all.

Ah, how do I even begin to describe your prize? She is fair, Roommate Kate is. She is delicate, yet tall, tanned, twenty-one, with long, flowing dark-blond hair, streaked with natural, sun-kissed highlights. Her smile is wide and quick, her disposition sweet and her limbs long and lean. She is a student, so there won't be long, awkward silences during your Date With Roommate Kate, because as if all aforementioned traits aren't more than enough, she just HAD to have a BRAIN AS WELL.

So yes, as you can see then... she is absolutely, unfairly fair...

Speaking of which: In the name of fairness (so that no one can accuse us of cheating unfairly!), the contest is open to everyone. Everyone except your average psychopath, serial killer or stalker type, that is. We don't want any harm to come to beautiful Roommate Kate. But yes, this Win a Date With Roommate Kate contest is open to all, even to you international folks, because well, Roommate Kate has a passport and is perfectly willing to travel. With me, and my very large, very strong and very Italian brother-in-law (he has connections to the Motherland, if you know what I'm sayin'...) as chaperones. (Which we will be even if the date ends up being local.)

In order to enter, you need to obviously vote for me by clicking on the beautiful SA Blog Awards 08 widget in the upper left side of this blog. The neat thing is, when you vote that way, you are taken straight to the SA Blog Awards voting site, speedily and via police escort, and all you need to do once you arrive there is scroll down to the very bottom of the page and enter your e-mail address and the little code to show them that you are indeed not a spammer. Really, because when you vote thusly, the marks would have already been magically ticked off next to my name in all the appropriate (or in this case, highly inappropriate) categories.

After that, a confirmation of your vote will be sent to the e-mail address you have entered. Then you just need click on that link (or copy and paste it into your browser)... When you've done all that, kindly e-mail me your voting confirmation after receiving it to be entered into the draw.

Brownie points will be given to those who use their own blogs/sites to further pimp my desperate campaign.

WhadoyouMEAN it is way too labour intensive?!? Just look at how long the voting process in the United States lasts?!

Since some people have already met with all of the above-mentioned criteria, even without the promise of a date with the delectable Roommate Kate dangled in front of their noses like carrots in front of a donkey, we already have a few unwitting front-runners.

These guys for not only pimping me on their site, but for DIGGing me too! Muchas brownie points, cowboys!

Her for turning me into a marquee! A MARQUEE! How cool is that?!? (In order to spot it, view the top of her F is For Fit entry.) That marquee is certainly the closest I've ever come to having my name in lights...

And lastly... him for luring the rest of Australia into voting for me AND FOR ACKNOWLEDGING MY VERY OFFICIAL TITLE!

Updated to say: I think you should please go and vote here instead of in my comments. Don't even scroll down on the other site. Just look at the stars and mouse over them to rate my story. When you give me a rating, it automatically registers the click as a vote! Not as labour intensive as it sounds. Honestly.

The following is an entry into yet another blogging contest! This particular contest was initiated by Accelerate Cape Town. It is called The Perfect City Challenge and contestants have been asked to come up with their own idea of Utopia. It is hosted by this amazing site and there are some cool prizes up for grabs, including free blog hosting. The winner will be determined by reader votes. So if you read it and like it, kindly vote for me!

My Perfect City.

The city of my dreams has the seductive romance and chic of springtime Paris; the dizzying dazzle of Rio de Janeiro during Carnivale; the year-round pulsating vibrancy of New York City; the distinguished and stately air (that can’t even be drowned out by the constant drizzle) of foggy old Londontown; the distinct and oddly delightful neon kitsch of the Sunset Strip in Vegas.

It hums to the rhythm of the beat poets of San Fransisco; to the jazz splashing out of the Bourbon Street bars in the French Quarter of New Orleans; to the intimacy of a late-night band moaning out a sensual tango in a tiny club in Buenos Aires; to a haunting Puccini aria soaring up from a stage Vienna; to the Islamic muezzin melodiously beckoning the faithful to prayer in Mecca; to the contagious laughter of happy people, young and old, anywhere in the world.

My perfect city has the tapped potential of an Oscar winner in Hollywood; the intellect of a Harvard graduate; the creativity of Leonardo da Vinci. My Utopia is beautiful, yet its beauty isn’t without flaws, for flaws, after all, are what lends character to people and places. It is as safe and comforting as a mother’s embrace, as welcoming as an old friend, as comfortable to be in as a favourite pair of jeans.

Every morning, it flings open its windows and doors to a new, sun-drenched, wind-swept, or rain-slicked day. Commuters and tourists hop on and off the efficient, punctual and fast public transit system – rides are free within city limits. Telecommuters who wish to get out of the house for a change of scenery set up shop at the charming sidewalk cafés, benefiting from the city’s free wireless and uncapped (uncapped!) fast (100 gbps) broadband Internet connection.

The architecture is diverse and interesting and steeped in history – or, if the buildings are modern and new – the stories behind their design. No more mind-numbingly boring carbon copied houses and buildings like those found in suburbia.

However, without the people living, working and loving in its buildings and moving through its streets and parks, the city would be a mere ghost. Therefore there are no abandoned buildings. No deserted alleys. The people are everywhere, all the time. Cyclists zoom past on the city’s winding bicycle paths. Others simply walk, and not just for the sole purpose of getting exercise. No, they walk (or jog, or rollerblade), simply because it is futile to resist the urge to be swept up in the energetic vibe of this city.

Children play safely in the parks – fragrant, lush havens throughout the city. At every park, street artists vie to show off their skills, leaving onlookers gawking in amazement. Grinning dogs strain at their leashes while walking their owners through the parks, on the sidewalks and on the beaches.

Entrepreneurs and artisans sell their wares at bustling, colourful markets. Housewives shop for fresh produce and use the time to linger, chatting with neighbours and vendors.

There is a library in almost every neighbourhood. They are free to join and open seven days a week. But for those of us who simply can't resist owning yet another tome, there are plenty of interesting little bookshops to feed the addiction. (And hopefully, an insatiable hunger for knowledge and books will be the only thing associated with the word addiction!) In my city, books are cheap, untaxed and in abundance.

Schooling is free in the city, and the standards are high, because in my dream city, teachers (and policemen, paramedics and nurses) are paid more than rock stars.

In my ideal city, residents promptly receive all their mail. It is delivered to their doorsteps, six days a week.

Every night, as the sun drowns somewhere beyond the far reaches of the ocean, my dream city dons a glittering gown of winking lights. Electricity is plentiful and cheap and generated by solar power and unobtrusively placed wind turbines. Buildings are sufficiently and inexpensively heated and cooled when necessary.

The streets are swept clean before everyone goes home. (Not that anyone in my dream city litters!) And in my dream city, everyone has a home to go to. There are no more homeless people. No more shabby street urchins. No more prostitutes. No more souls decaying in their own despair. There are no more chokingly, smoky, dangerous slums or depressing shanty towns. Proper homes – albeit modest and small – have been erected to house the poor and the formerly homeless.

The sweet, heavy scent of freshly-made coffee and newly-baked bread waft through the streets of my dream city. It mingles with the spicy, mouth-watering aromas of the cosmopolitan cuisine being cooked up in homes and restaurants. No one in this city ever goes hungry. No citizen is without hope.

Some might scoff at this description of the Utopia of my imagination. They might tell me that developing such a place would be impossible, impractical, illogical.

However, if those naysayers would only take a closer look at our very own Cape Town, they would see that the possibilities to make that city even greater are endless. It already has so many of the qualities that I have described. In many respects, I believe it is South Africa's version of Paris, San Fransisco, Rio, Buenos Aires, London...

Yet Cape Town is no cheap imitation. It is utterly, divinely, unique. With the buildings and people nestled safely below her ample, mountainous bosom - often modestly covered with a cloudy shawl - she lives up to her nurturing title as South Africa's Mother City.

... If you'd please vote for me!

Amazingly enough, the entertainment and gossip blog I've been writing for since last year has been nominated for a 2007 South African Blog Award!!! (Yes, I know... there's absolutely no accounting for taste. Luckily for me!)

The competition is as stiff as this woman's husband (and you thought I was macabre?!? At least my first love was only comatose, not dead! Do you think she refers to him as her 'deadbeat' husband? And does this make her a newly wed-ow? Well, at least he won't snore, right? He might hog the remote when rigor mortis sets in though, so I'd advise her to pry it from his hands as soon as possible!), so we really need your votes. I believe today and tomorrow are the final days of voting - of COURSE I had to procrastinate asking you guys for help - so please hop on over to this site, scroll down to the Best Entertainment Blog Category and go give Jetstreaker a vote? Only one vote per e-mail and pc, so vote from as many different pcs... I'm KIDDING!

Anyway, if you DON'T vote for me, I'll be fired.

Okay, not really, but while you are voting, you might as well vote for my boss too. Accomplished creature that he is, he has been nominated in several different categories!

Thank you in advance, and if we win, I promise to reward you by not writing on here for a while.



















about
is a South African girl living in South Africa. That doesn't sound very original, we know, but you might find it remotely interesting when you learn that she has only recently returned to South Africa for the first time after a nine year, one month and two week (non-stop!) stint in the United States where she accidentally became an outlawed alien (also known, especially in immigration circles, as an 'illegal immigrant.' We prefer the term 'outlawed alien' ourselves). During her reversed exile from her homeland, she kept herself occupied by winning this website (but only after shamelessly bribing the judges) and thus being unleashed on the web where she slowly, leisurely became the World's Laziest Blogger; by being a nanny and by attending sci-fi conventions in search of other aliens. In the US, she also made her sailing debut, her international acting debut, tried and failed to learn the piano, and never learned to cook. She is hopelessly addicted to coffee, dogs (especially Labrador Retrievers), how-to books (with a particular fondness for her copy of the Time/Life A - Z Medical Encyclopedia), and she tends to grossly overuse parentheses (we're not kidding) during her attempts at writing, which you may - if you really have masochistic tendencies - subject yourself to by reading the words to the right of this column. If you REALLY and truly STILL want to know more, you can read her C.V. here.
Or you can stalk her send her some love via e-mail at: redsaid[AT]gmail[DOT]com

The Wish List (Because yes, she really does need more how-to books. Honestly!)

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  • Redsaid Author Profile Page: Terra: YES! Wait... you didn't think that I would be this possessed to post for NO REASON, did ya???... [go]
  • Terra.Shield : OH! ... [go]
  • Marco Author Profile Page: Be a bit like serving drinks at AA?... [go]
  • Marco Author Profile Page: I personally think it is a mindset that has been cultivated over the years, and one, if not stemmed,... [go]
  • Redsaid Author Profile Page: Ms. Crazy Cat Lady Pants!!! Squeeeee! Sooo good to see you! (I thought NO ONE was bothering to read ... [go]
  • Ms. Pants : Kitties don't get enough credit sometimes. (All times, if you ask me, but I'm a Crazy Cat Lady.)... [go]
  • Redsaid Author Profile Page: Hey Tamara! I know, right?? That is a tough act to follow indeed. I adored that dentist. He used to ... [go]
  • Tamara Tipton : Well, I am not sure how any dentist could live up to that standard! LOL! I hope your appointment was... [go]
  • Redsaid Author Profile Page: I'm really really glad that I'm not the only one, Po! Sometimes I drive myself mad with all the what... [go]
  • Po : Those questions run through my heads for various times in my life too, that is for sure!... [go]
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