Thursday, 12 July 2012

Hardspear Reviews Audible Book Brasyl by Ian McDonald


Complex Cyber Punk Quantum Romp through a Multiverse Past, Present & Future Brazil. 

Have you ever eaten an exotic dish and bitten into a cardamom pod?  If you have, you’ll know that it literally explodes with mysteriously complex flavours and sexy, heady perfumes.  Reading, or listening, to Brasyl by Ian McDonald induces a much similar sense.

There are three main threads in the book, each with a distinct time- and geographical setting.  The three threads each also follow a different protagonist.  In the present (2006) we have Marcelina Hoffman, a rather shallow, Brazilian martial arts arse kicking producer of trashy reality programmes for a controversial TV Station in Rio de Janeiro.  The second protagonist, Edson Jesus Oliveira de Freitas lives in a near-futuristic (2032) Big Brother-esque Sao Paulo.  Edson goes by a few different aliases and his pursuits, monetary and otherwise, are not always strictly legal.  Despite this, Edson is a very likeable character.  Edson and some of the other characters in his part of the universe are near Anime-like in appearance and conduct – slender boyish boys and girlish girls or girlish boys and boyish girls, you know what I mean.  In 1732 the Black half-Irish Jesuit Priest Father Luis Quinn, a learned man of strong character wades through the Amazonian rivers and rain forests, his mission turning out quite differently from that which he first anticipated…

Cyberpunk, biopunk, alternate history, quantum computers, travel between multiple universes, Doppelgängers, wearable computers, mind expanding drugs are all mixed with the wonderful and strange sights, colours, sounds & smells of a bygone, contemporary and an imaginary yet to come Brazil as the three threads starts intersecting.  Myth, fact, religion, sexuality - this is modern speculative fiction at its best!

This is the first Audible Book I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea, listened to where the voice actor is British.  For us non-British English speakers from South Africa, North America, Australia & New Zealand there is a certain charm to British English.  Nigel Pilkington’s narration lends integrity to both the text and characters.  I looked up his profile on the web and found that he was born in Lancashire.  One can hear the Northern England influence in his accent, but it is not too strong and I had no difficulty following the narration.  He does however use different accents for different characters and for the different strands in the book.  (It is very quaint the way he – as Edson - drops t’s, elongates vowels and puts k’s after words ending in –ng.)  Mr. Pilkington reads Brasyl with flair and fluency, his voice matching the said sights, colours, sounds & smells of the prose word for word.

The only reason why I gave ‘Overall Experience’ 4 instead of 5, is:  I gather in the printed form of this book there is additional content which include a glossary with Brazilian Portuguese slang and other unfamiliar words & terms.  It also includes a playlist, suggested reading etc.  Audible should find a way to make this available to anyone who purchases this recording.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Hardspear reviews Redshirts by John Scalzi (Audible Version)

Dr. McCoy Disproven
As to the genre…  I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea don’t “get” the whole science fiction slash satire or fantasy slash satire thing.  Or usually I don’t.  I don’t “get” Douglas Adams.  I don’t “get” Terry Pratchet.  Howevurrr…  Redshirts by John Scalzi is different.  It is meta.  Maybe meta is different from satire.  As I started to listen to the Audible version of Redshirts, I thought, “Oh no.  Here we go again”.  Before long though, I became totally enmeshed in a geek get-off sort of way.  It is impossible not to if you have any affinity for Star Trek.

As to the plot…  In this galaxy there’s a mathematical probability of three million Earth-type planets. And in the universe, three million million galaxies like this. And in all that, and perhaps more...only one of each of us”.  -Dr. McCoy, Star Trek, “Balance of Terror”.  

Well… not according to John Scalzi!  According to John Scalzi, in some weird alternative time-line there CAN be more than one of us.  Just ask Ensign Andy Dahl and his other low ranking, red-shirted compatriots. 

The Three Codas…  Towards the end, the cadence of the book changes from a fast paced and funny warp 9 to a slower, thoughtful, thrusters only velocity.  As I liked things nicely wrapped up, I would not have minded six or even more codas.

The narrative and the narration…  Wil Wheaton reads with élan and gusto and excitement.  The last coda he reads with emotion and compassion.  Many of the Audible reviews comment on the distraction of the overuse of character perspective indication.  It’s complicated… How do I explain.  In the narration there are conversations between characters where the sentences are short and all of them end in “he said, she said” or “Dahl said, Duval said.  This is especially rampant at the start of the book, but grows less.  I have not seen the complaint in reviews of people who read the book as opposed to listened to it.  Maybe the book is written to read like the script of a TV episode, I don’t know.  I just thought it added to the book’s overall quirkiness.

As to quality, yes it is worth to use your monthly free credit.  As to length, it was a bit short.  I usually try to get more minutes for my money.  (Remember, my monthly Audible subscription costs 130 South African Rands)

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Hardspear Reviews the Audible version of Reamde by Neal Stephenson

Listen to Me, Read Me, Reamde.

On the topic of fiction novels where a large part of a book is set within a computer game, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline and Reamde by Neal Stephenson come to mind readily.  As opposed to the (near) futuristic dystopia in which Ready Player One is set, the backdrop to Reamde is a very realistic present. The lion’s share of Ready Player One takes place within the virtual reality of a computer quest-like game.  In Reamde, the percentage of the story that takes place within the World-of-Warcraft-like game called T’Rain is significantly smaller.  From here the differences between the two books just grows wider.  In the end, it is greatly unfair to even try to compare the two books.

It is difficult for me, J. Hardspear de la Azotea to pen down just how much I enjoyed the Audible audiobook version of Reamde.  It may just be the most entertaining and gratifying Techno-Thriller I have ever read/listened to.  As this is the first book by Mr. Stephenson I have had the pleasure to consume, I can only really comment on this book as it is, having no reference in terms of his other books.

Despite being classified as a Techno-Thriller, the narration is unbelievably funny at times.  There is one scene involving the Fantasy writers of the background to T’Rain referred to the ‘Apostropocalypse’ which had me crying with laughter.

The book is also about girl-power.  Zula Forthrast is one of the most quick-witted protagonists one can hope to encounter in a book.  The supporting characters of Olivia Halifax-Lin and Xian Yuxia positively delights.

The male characters, more specifically the “good guys” (sometimes the lines between good guys & bad guys gets a bit blurry, especially in the case of Solokov) are easy to relate to, with all their heroism and all of their fallibilities.

The book is long, VERY detailed and yet very fast-paced.  I listened to it on the plane, in the car, in bed before I go to sleep, first thing when I woke up, whilst I washed dishes etc, etc.

The matter of fact tone of the narration by Malcolm Hillgartner suits the story fantastically.  His accents runs from good (British) to bad (Scottish) but it is much better than I can do and still gets 100% for effort.

Monday, 16 April 2012

The Hunger Games Movie

As the other me said in a facebook update, I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea have had neither the benefit nor the drawback of having read the book ‘The Hunger Games’ therefor I went into the cinema not knowing what to expect.  I asked my Heavy Number Two (brother-in-law 2) to accompany me and off we went.

I was totally blown away!!!  I have not enjoyed a movie this much in a very long time.  I quickly picked up on the Greek Mythology theme of the story of Theseus, the Labyrinth and Ariadne’s Thread.  From the desperation of the people in the districts to the decadence of the citizens and rulers of the Capitol hegemony and eventually to the events in the Arena, the movie is one big visual stimulating experience.  I wanna see it again.

Effie Trinket & Katniss

I also cannot wait to get hold of the books.  I cannot understand why I have not yet read it, but will remedy this omission promptly.  (Maybe in my mind I was expecting something similar to the Twilight Saga, which I cannot stand.  I have said before – the whole teenage-angst-and-vampire theme does not work for me.)

Friday, 13 April 2012

Hardspear's Master Cleanse: Day 7 - Friday

I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea, am proud to declare that I have lasted 6 days on the Master Cleanse (Lemonade Diet).  I did aim for 10 days, but alas, for someone who thinks food, have a passion for cooking, who reads recipe- and cookbooks for leisure, who lives for and dreams of the next culinary success, to NOT eat for 6 days is a major fait accompli.  I also did stop smoking in the process.

So what happened?  It was late afternoon on Day 6 and I sat in an important meeting in which our team was discussing an important deadline for Monday.  I was feeling very low on energy and my concentration was totally shot.  All I heard was blah, blah, blah – Hardspear needs to blah, blah, blah and Hardspear has agreed to blah, blah, blah before close of business.  It was someone’s going away function earlier the day and there was some snacks left in our open plan office.  I got up in the middle of the meeting, walked out of the boardroom, went to the office ate a LITTLE of the snacks, drank a cup of coffee and re-joined the meeting.  I surreptitiously ascertained what the blah, blah, blah was and started executing on the blah, blah, blah.  I simply cannot afford not to have all my wits in one place from now till Monday.

In the evening I had a bowl of the lovely vegetable soup which I made earlier in the week.  Delicious.  I could feel the goodness seeping into every molecule of my body.  I also had a cup of yoghurt and a gut-flora tablet to re-establish and start re-populate all the good bacteria necessary for a healthy digestive system.
I walk away from this:
·         Feeling lighter
·         Feeling happier
·         Having lost 5 kilos
·         Tummy shrunk noticeably
·         Clothes fit looser
·         Stopped Smoking
·         Determined to continue henceforth eating healthier and smaller portions
·         Determined to start exercising.
So what to do with the left over Maple Syrup?  Well, I am already devising a recipe for Caramel Pecan Cupcakes with Maple Syrup, Mascarpone & Pistachio Icing.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Hardspear's Master Cleanse: Day 6 - Thursday

I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea nearly went mad last night.  I craved food so bad, I nearly lost it.  In the end I had to make a choice…  Either I quit, or I try some workaround to preserve my sanity.  I decided on the workaround.  I put a teaspoon of Bovril into a cup of hot water and drank the resulting lovely salty and savoury broth.  Immediately the Giant Pizzas stopped floating in front of my eyes.  I am not happy that I ‘cheated’ but I still feel good that I haven’t quit…  After today, only four more days… Then two days to ‘come off’ of the diet and then I am getting myself a gourmet pizza from Piza e Vino or Doppio Zero!

My concentration is all over the place – I have not taken Ritalin in 6 days.  Of course this does not bother me, but I can see I get to my colleagues a bit…  Luckily they think I am wonky because of the diet.

Oh… before I forget… Day 6 – Weighing in at 105.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Hardspear's Master Cleanse: Day 5 - Wednesday

Weighing in at 106 kg.  I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea am shitting what I haven’t eaten.  (Or perhaps I did eat it, only a year ago!).  It is amazing what comes out even after having nothing to eat for 4 days…

I am starting to get bored with this lemonade thing, to the extent that I actually look forward to my cup of laxative tea in the evenings, just because it is hot and tastes different…  But, mind over matter.  I will finish this thing.  I think the benefits and rewards will be worth the while.

Hardspear's Master Cleanse: Day 4 - Tuesday

Weighing in at 107 kg. My kidneys ached during the night.  My ankle which sometimes gives me problems is also sore.  Apart from that I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea am feeling quite good.  Had to catch a 6 o’ clock flight, ran around all day and had a slight craving for a cigarette for the first time in 4 days.  Landed at Lanseria again at 18:10 and back home just before 19:00.  The food cravings are not so bad during the day anymore (the first two days were terrible), but I tend to get hungry in the evenings.

I had a very good day yesterday (day 3).  I decided to make my vegetable soup for when I have to start eating again.  (Since you cannot start on solids straight away after having eaten nothing for 10 days, you have to start with orange juice on day 1 and 2 after the diet and on the evening of day 2 one can start to have vegetable soup).  I feel that I would need some serious nutrition by then, so I made a strong beef stock from scratch.  This took 4 hours.  I then sautéed onion, carrot and celery in my largest pot until it caramelized.  To that I added my lovely beef stock and a truck load of vegetables.  I simmered that for two hours and dished out half of the vegetables and blitzed it with a blending stick and poured it back.  The result – thick vegetable soup with whole chunks of veg still in.  I then put it in containers and stuck it in the freezer for when I am coming off of the diet…

Monday, 9 April 2012

Hardspear's Master Cleanse: Day 3 Monday (Public Holiday)

Weighing in at 108.  Phew!  Picked up 1, lost 2 – therefore down one in total.

I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea woke up on the dreaded DAY THREE (everyone says day 3 is the worst) feeling actually quite good.

Did salt water flush (with lemon).  Poop looked like deep yellow oil.  Disgusting.

I was very sleepy and tired on day one and two.  Really feel much better today.  Hope I feel good tomorrow.  I will be flying to some bumblefuck nowhere place for work in a small charter plane in the morning and back in the afternoon.

My slight double chin seems barely noticeable today, but I do feel hungry…

Hardspear's Master Cleanse: Day 2 - Sunday



Weighing in at 110.2 kg.  WTF?  I PICKED UP 1.2 kgs!  I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea will try to drink more water as well.

The salt water flush is working, despite me putting in lemon juice.  I just cannot drink a litre of salt water without flavouring it with at least a bit of lemon.

I don’t know how to say this in English…  Ek is meer LUS vir kos as wat ek regtig honger is.  I am not really hungry, but I am salivating if I think of Pizza.

We went to buy groceries today. It was pure torture.  I was very sleepy and tired yesterday and today, but I do not feel too bad.  Tried to take a nap this afternoon – didn’t work.  Had to pee to every 5 seconds.

Late afternoon I told Lamb that I am going to get us a DVD.  I feel tense and need to relax.  Also I am thinking of pizza all the time.  I could not believe my ears when Lamb asked me to stop at Mimmo’s and bring her a pizza…

The rest of the evening was unadulterated agony.  The smell of the pizza driving back in my car was torment.  I tried not to watch as she ate the pizza.  I was very close to giving in.

I am actually starting to look forward to my laxative tea in the evenings.  I think it is mainly because it is ingesting something hot.

Muscles ache a bit.  Kidneys feel sore.

Never watched the DVD in the end…

Saturday, 7 April 2012

The best Oxtail you’ll ever have… Quite Simply…

La Queue de Bœuf des Vignerons (Oxtail as cooked by the winegrowers) a la Elizabeth David.  

Elizabeth David

I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea turned 39 yesterday, and I decided that I want to cook this for my birthday dinner.  Yes, I know I said it in a the previous post as well, but this post won’t deal with the matter of my detox diet, which starts the day after my birthday, but with the recipe for Oxtail Stewed in White Grapes.  I found the recipe in the book, South Wind Through the Kitchen – The best of Elizabeth David.

My Copy of South Wind Through The Kitchen

The recipe first appeared in Elizabeth David’s legendary cookbook, French Provincial Cooking.  When I first read the recipe, I knew that this is something special.

I deviated very little from Mrs. David’s original recipe, and here is how I made it:  Steep 2 oxtails (cut in the usual 5cm lengths) in cold water so that the blood soaks out.  Drain well.  Cut a 200g piece of pancetta in cubes, peel 4 large carrots and cut in large chunks (4 cm).  Chop 3 celery stalks and 3 onions.  I could not find pancetta on Good Friday and used Parma Ham instead.  You want something like unsmoked bacon, salt pork or pancetta.  If you use ordinary bacon, the smokiness will overpower.

The Ingredients

Put the pancetta and a little olive oil in a large heavy saucepan/pot with a tight fitting lid over very low heat.  Add the vegetables and cook slowly for 10 minutes or till the fat of the pancetta starts to run.  Arrange the oxtails on top.  Add 4 2cm thick slices of beef shin.  Season with salt & pepper.  Add a bouquet garni made with sage, tarragon, bay leaves, thyme and parsley.  Add a little allspice.  Cover and cook slowly for 20 mins.

Take 1.5 kg sweet white seedless grapes off the stalks and crush the grapes slightly in a bowl.  Add on top of meat. Cover saucepan with a sheet of aluminium foil and press the lid on top.  Cook over a very low heat for 4 hours.  The shin most probably will have “cooked away” but the meat and marrow add a deep meaty richness to the gravy.  Transfer the oxtails to a dish and keep warm in the oven.  Put the rest of the ingredients through the finest mesh of the mouli-légumes. 
Mouli-légumes

Put the resulting sauce in a glass bowl in a basin of cold water.  This will aid the process of the fat rising to the surface quickly.  Skim off as much of the fat as you can manage. Put the oxtails back in the saucepan/pot and pour the sauce over.  Heat thoroughly.  Make a gremolata with the rind and juice of a lemon, two crushed cloves of garlic and chopped fresh parsley.  Stir the gremolata into the stew and serve with white Basmati rice.

Oxtail Stewed in White Grapes

The tender richness of the oxtail, the deep savoury sweetness of the meat & grapes gravy are balanced with the gremolata and makes for a dish so satisfying, you will have to search far and wide for it’s equal.

Hardspear's Master Cleanse: Day 1 - Saturday

Day 1 – Saturday

Early AM.  I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea not sleep too well.  Woke up early.  Tummy roiling with rich food, too much drink and the effects of the laxative tea.

Weighing in at 109 kg.

I switched on my computer to get the directions for the salt water flush I am supposed to do and to make my first bottle of “LEMONADE”.  Two teaspoons of sea salt (I am using Himalayan rock salt) on a quart of water.  I look up “quart”.  FUCK…  It is nearly a litre!  Made the schtuff.  Gagged on the second swallow.  Added juice of half a lemon.  I am sure I am not supposed to, but the lemon juice did the trick and I managed to force it down.

No coffee…  No cigarettes, no sleep, no light, no sound.  Nothing to eat… well I do have a book to read…

The “LEMONADE” does taste good.

Late PM.  Friends invited us to breakfast at the Spur (so the girls can play while the grownups eat).  I was strong.  Did not eat.  The hardest part was not having coffee.

I do get hungry, but I seem to miss eating more.

Hardspear's Master Cleanse: T-3 to 1 and counting...

Wednesday T-3 and counting…
Feeling better emotionally.
Thursday T-2 and counting..
Scared. Master Cleanse is weighing on my mind. Will I be able to do it. Tuesday I will be flying somewhere. I get nauseous on a plane? I will not be able to take anything. Maybe I can take ginger tea?
Friday T-1 and counting…
It is my birthday! I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea am turning 39 today. We’ve invited friends over for dinner and I made La Queue de Bœuf des Vignerons (Oxtail as cooked by the winegrowers). It is basically oxtail stewed with white grapes. Had a number of Jim Beam Black’s with soda before dinner and quite a few glasses of red wine with dinner. The guests were super impressed with the meal, which imho was simply the best oxtail I have ever had. Thanks to Mrs. Elizabeth David who always provides a trusty recipe. This one is from her classic book – French Provincial cooking.
Tomorrow is lift-off, so I had my cup of laxative tea before I went to bed.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Hardspear's Master Cleanse T-7 to 4 and counting

I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea have decided to go on the Master Cleanse detox diet (also known as the lemonade diet).  I am allowing 1 week to prepare mentally and get everything I need. 
For a minimum of 10 days I will only take 6 glasses a day of “lemonade” made with real organic Canadian maple syrup, freshly squeezed lemon juice and a little cayenne pepper mixed with purified water.  No food, no supplements, no nothing.  It also involves drinking water with salt each morning to assist in flushing out schtuff and taking laxative tea in the evenings. 
Preparation for the Master Cleanse:  T minus n and counting… 

Saturday T-7 and counting… 

My wife (Lamb) wanted to go to Jo’burg to buy a nesting mirror from Hadeda Marketing in Jan Smuts Drive in Rosebank.  I dropped her there and went to look for Fresh Earth Health shop in Emmarentia.  2 Different Google searches pointed me there.  One… They sell Bragg’s Cider Vinegar (containing the Vinegar Mother)  I am going to try to fish out the Vinegar Mother and add it to red wine to make my own red wine vinegar. 
Two… They sell large bottles of B-grade Canadian Maple Syrup, which I need for the Master Cleanse I am starting in a week’s time.  Since I have an internal GPS, I found the store on my first try without looking up the address.
I bought the vinegar, maple syrup, Himalayan rock salt and a Grow-your-own Pink Oyster Mushroom kit as a belated birthday gift for my friend Army Man who has green fingers and a lovely vegetable garden.  Fuck the maple syrup is expensive.  Picked Lamb and my little girl Image up again and had lunch at JB’s Corner at Melrose Arch. 

Sunday T-6 and counting…

Made french toast and Bacon for breakfast.  Stole a little bit of the Maple Syrup.  Oh my goodness… the syrupy maple sweetness with the salty smokiness of the bacon and the soft squiginess of the french toast was pure heaven (How’s that Nigella?) 

Monday T-5 and counting…

Woke up depressed and got more depressed as the morning progressed.  I cannot see my dick unless I lean forward to peer over the great expanse of my large gut.  I feel bloated and fat and my shirt stretches over my tummy.  I feel tired and ssstuhRESSED out.  We have a work function and Madame Zingara’s tonight (Monte Casino).  Phoned Lamb and asked her to go and buy me a snazzy shirt (XXL) *ashamed* for tonight.  Smoked too much.  Feel guilty cos Lamb thinks I quit. 

Despite my emotional hubris I made a mental list of what I will not be able to put in my mouth whilst on the Master Cleanse:
1.   Food
2.   Coke
3.   Fruit Juice
4.   Ritalin
5.   Blood pressure meds
6.   Cholesterol meds
7.   Cigarettes
8.   Scotch
9.   Bourbon

10. Red Wine


I am more determined than ever to complete the Master Cleanse

 The lights were out on the William Nicol offramp from the N1 and I was nearly late, but Madame Zingara’s was a blast!  Bought a wig which is supposed to look like a David Bowie mullet.  He must have a very narrow head, since it looked more like a Tina Turner hairdo on me.  We had a ripsnorter time! The food was real good (not fantastic, but real good still).  We had ao a bottle of Rupert & Rothschild, which I found a little insipid.  I asked Cathy Specific if I can have a picture taken with her.  “I thought you’d never ask,” she replied in her deep baritone voice.  So there I was having a photo taken with Cathy Specific’s firm foam rubber breasts pressed against me. 

Tuesday T-4 and counting…

Slight headache from too much red wine.  The Master Cleanse will only be the start of a healthier lifestyle.  Quit Smoking.  Start exercising, eat less & better.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Audible & Sony are enemies

So, I J. Hardspear de la Azotea, who have been told various things about ADD, have been given a Sony Walkman MP3 player by my wife Lamb, so that I can listen to my Audible audiobooks.  Much as I love my Kindle, it is a bit large to use a MP3.  Imagine running on the treadmill in the gym with a Kindle strapped to your waist!
Breathless with anticipation, I opened the Audible download manager on my PC.  With a shaking finger I clicked on ‘add new device’.  WTF????  No Sony devices are listed.
Now Audible SAY that you can download in MP3 format, but in fact it is actually their propriety .aa extension format. 
I jumped onto the web and found that I was not the only fool who were cheated by Audible and Sony.
I just want to tell Audible and Sony…  I SHALL find a way to listen to my Audible books on my Sony Walkman.  I have already downloaded 3 different DRM (Digital Rights Management) software removal tools.
I have a good mind and put Cory Doctorow onto the both of you!!!
(You do not need to read the rest of this, below just a little drivel to create some esss eeeeeee ooooohhh for this post.)
I unequivocally can't let Audible & Sony's misinformation and misguided arguments about nativism go by without comment. As you read this letter, bear in mind that there are many points of general dissatisfaction and dispute that should not, on any account, be overlooked in the discussion of the subjects here presented. One of these is that if we fail to pursue virtue and knowledge then all of our sacrifices will be as forgotten as the sand blowing across Ozymandias's dead empire. The "decay of that colossal wreck," as the poet Shelley puts it, teach us that Audible & Sony maintains that you and I are morally inferior to shabby nebbishes. While that happens to be pure fantasy from the world of make-believe, one important fact to consider is that you don't need to be a rocket scientist to detect the subtext of this letter. But just in case it's too subliminal for some, let me thrust it into your face right here: If it can't cite the basis for its claim that the best way to serve one's country is to turn over our country to tetchy, untoward euphuists then it should just shut up about it.
Audible & Sony has gotten a bit too palsy-walsy with inane gits. Surprised? You shouldn't be, because it's easy for armchair philosophers to theorize about Audible & Sony and about hypothetical solutions to our Audible & Sony problem. It's an entirely more difficult matter, however, when one considers that it insists that the peak of fashion is to waste everyone else's time. Sorry, Audible & Sony, but, with apologies to Gershwin, "it ain't necessarily so." Let me give you some important advice: Don't let Audible & Sony define you. Instead, show it that you're in control by searching for solutions that are more creative and constructive than the typically infelicific ones championed by mentally deficient gutter-dwellers. I contend that even the most unassertive milquetoast should be able to do something like that. At a minimum, you should remember that if we're to effectively carry out our responsibilities and make a future for ourselves, we will first have to challenge Audible & Sony to defend its commentaries or else to change them.
The essential point, however, is the following: I strive to be consistent in my arguments. I can't say that I'm 100% true to this, but Audible & Sony's frequent vacillating leads me to believe that if we are powerless to hammer out solutions on the anvil of discourse, it is because we have allowed Audible & Sony to leave behind a wake of heinous reaction. Audible & Sony has somehow managed to get the media to pay rapt attention to its daffy fairy tales. I don't know what sort of Jedi mind control it's been using to pull that off, but I do know that we must eschew bad-tempered warlordism if we are ever to rub its nose in its own hypocrisy. Yes, this is a bold, audacious, even unprecedented undertaking. Yes, it lacks any realistic guarantee of success. However, it is an undertaking that we must sincerely pursue because every so often, Audible & Sony tries giving me reason to dig my own grave and pay for the shovel. Whenever it gets caught doing so it raises a terrific hullabaloo calculated to wage an odd sort of warfare upon a largely unprepared and unrecognizing public.
In this volatile political moment, we must cautiously guard against the dangers of dour antidisestablishmentarianism. That's just a fancy way of saying that I don't know which are worse, right-wing tyrants or left-wing tyrants. But I do know that if you hear Audible & Sony spouting off about how it answers to no one, you should tell it that its ethics will have consequences, intended and otherwise. Better yet, tell it to stop getting its opinions from inattentive smut peddlers and start doing some research of its own.
If history follows its course, it should be evident that there's an important difference between me and Audible & Sony. Namely, I am willing to die for my cause. Audible & Sony, in contrast, is willing to kill for its—or, if not to kill, at least to toy with our opinions. To overthrow western civilization through the destruction of its four pillars—family, nation, religion, and democracy—is Audible & Sony's objective, and furacious Bulverism is its method. I frequently talk about how Audible & Sony fears nothing more than the exposure of its motives and activities. I would drop the subject except that it claims to have turned over a new leaf shortly after getting caught trying to defile the present and destroy the future. This claim is an outright lie that is still being circulated by Audible & Sony's pals. The truth is that Audible & Sony has been known to say that mediocrity is a worthwhile goal. That notion is so nefarious, I hardly know where to begin refuting it.
Audible & Sony is never without a sex-crazed thing to say, but that's a story for another time. For now, I want to focus on the way that its protests are rife with contradictions and difficulties; they're completely quasi-egocentric, meet no objective criteria, and are unsuited for a supposedly educated population. And as if that weren't enough, I defy the abysmal ragamuffins who practice human sacrifice on a grand scale in some sort of deceitful death cult, and I defy the powers of darkness that they represent.
You know what we'd have if everybody wanted to sound the standard "they're out to get us" call and rally Audible & Sony's minions to make bribery legal and part of business as usual? Total chaos. Presentism, imperialism, and factionalism follow Audible & Sony's footsteps. Wherever it goes, such things are sure to sprout up. The implication is that Audible & Sony's views raise a number of brow-furrowing questions. I'm referring to questions such as, "What happened to Audible & Sony's common sense?" It's questions like that that get people thinking about how if Audible & Sony gets its way, I might very well abandon all hope.
If one believes statements like, "Audible & Sony would never dream of inciting racial hatred," one is, in effect, supporting impetuous jerks. Rather than respond to my letters with reasoned arguments, Audible & Sony prefers to inject even more fear and divisiveness into political campaigns. Although this method of attack is unparalleled in any other sphere of literary controversy it does prove that Audible & Sony wants its cowardice and irresponsibility to be regarded as prudence, so to speak. There's a lot of talk nowadays about Audible & Sony's inconsiderate squibs but not much action.
Audible & Sony is known for fabricating evidence. Need I say more? I don't think so, but this I will say: Audible & Sony's behavior might be different if it were told that it is unable to separate fact from fiction. Of course, as far as Audible & Sony is concerned, this fact will fall into the category of, "My mind is made up; don't confuse me with the facts." That's why I'm telling you that it has repeatedly been spotted getting on my nerves. When questioned about that, it either denies any knowledge of it or offers unbelievable and ludicrous explanations that only a mudslinging Zendik could believe.
Isn't it interesting which questions Audible & Sony dodges and what tangents it goes off on? Those dodges and tangents make me think that if Audible & Sony continues to carry our once-proud nation deeper into savagery and depravity, I will be obliged to do something about it. And you know me: I never neglect my obligations. Audible & Sony is the secret player behind the present, stuck-up political scene. It must be brought out from behind the curtain before it's too late, before its spin doctors damage the self-esteem and physical health of millions of young men and women. I once pointed out to Audible & Sony that I sometimes have to bite my tongue pretty hard to avoid saying what I really feel about it. All I could garner from its ensuing mussitation was some nonsense about how honor counts for nothing. It's this sort of mindless response that leads me to believe that you might say, "These issues are actually political issues." Fine, I agree. But the last time I heard Audible & Sony ramble on in its characteristically bibulous blather it said something about wanting to eroticize relations of dominance and subordination. I feel sorry for the human race when I hear stuff like that. To close, let me accentuate that if we tear down Audible & Sony's fortress of anti-intellectualism we shall not only survive Audible & Sony's attacks; we shall prevail.
Respectfully Submitted by J. Hardspear de la Azotea.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

The Hereditary Nature of ADD and the Sins of the Fathers



The teacher at the new kindergarten where Image is going to informed us (in a very sensitive manner) that she picks up that Image has certain integration issues and "fall-outs" and recommended we see an occupational therapist.

Oh shit... I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea, who is scared of ADD know where this is leading to...

Monday, 6 February 2012

On Flying Backwards and Motion Sickness

I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea, who barely tolerates having ADD, suffers from SEVERE motion sickness.  Since last year October I have had to travel to Lephalale (formerly Ellisras) in the Limpopo Province every week.  I made the trip three times by car and then, since the work offered, decided to fly.  Because of the massive new Medupi coal power plant which Eskom is building there and because of the very large coal mining activities close to town, masses of contractors have descended on Lephalale and as a result the small town is bursting out of its seams.  


Although Lephalale is not a fixed destination for the large airline operators, some of the bigger charter companies have instated regular flights.  So, despite the fact that I hate small planes, it still beats driving and I bear the anxiety and nausea for the 45 minutes which the trip takes.  Usually we fly with a 20 seater Beechcraft 1900, which is not too small, but the difference is huge.  You think turbulence in a Boeing or an Airbus is bad…, try flying in a small plane being buffeted about by a Highveld thunderstorm as you approach Johannesburg!

Beechcraft 1900

Last week the regular Beechcraft 1900 was in for maintenance and they used two smaller planes.  One was the highly acclaimed Beechcraft KingAir (13 seater) and an Aero Commander Jetprop (5 seater).  Of course I was booked on the 5 seater.  Of course the 1 sideway seat and 2 forward facing seats were taken.  I immediately took a valoid and 2 tranquiliser tablets.  I really very rarely take tranquilisers, but since travelling a lot, I make sure that I always have some basic pharmacological preparations with me.  Headache tablets, nausea tablets, something for an upset tummy, plasters and antiseptic cream.  My sister-in-law gave me a few tranquilisers when Honey Bee passed away.

Aero Commander Jetprop

Despite the fact that there were no storms, turbulence or air pockets (it was really a very smooth flight), travelling backwards does not agree with someone suffering from motion sickness.  What your inner ear feels, your eyes see and your body experience, is totally out of whack with relation to each other.  The company was good though.  Next to me sat a quiet Turk with a massive watch on the wrong arm.  Opposite him was his older very talkative and friendly Turkish colleague and opposite me a friendly Canadian.  The quiet Turkish guy kept on taking pictures of everything and his chatty friend engaged all of us in conversation.  I always find it so pleasant/interesting/amusing to meet people from other countries.  The chatty Turk is one of those people one immediately takes to.  With laughter lines round his eyes and lips constantly on the verge of a big smile it is evident that he does not take life too seriously and that he enjoys the company of other people.  I did not always follow his heavily accented English above the roar of the plane’s twin props, but I was captivated by the passion with which he spoke.  The Canadian was, well Canadian…  very nice, unassuming and interesting.

I might have enjoyed the conversation more if my stomach did not continue to flip unpleasantly and had my brain not kept on slowly rocking from side to side inside my head.  We landed safely (me sickeningly in reverse) and I continued to feel queasy till the next day.  If I did not take the Valoid I would have puked… I know that for a fact.

Next time I’ll remember the Stoney Ginger Beer.  Ginger really helps – ask me, I’ve tried everything and apart from Valoid and Ginger this is what also works:
  • Dramamine
  • Sturgeron
  • Coca-Cola