Monday, September 27, 2004

Pizza Pronto, Sandton

Monday, September 27, 2004

Service: * *
Food: * * *
Ambience: * * * *
Babe Count: * * * *

Shame. Poor Sophia. No. Really. I really, truly mean it. I feel sorry for her. And it's so easy to feel magnanimous about someone you're beating. Pity becomes a way of life.

We're at Rob's restaurant in Sandton, having moved away from the backgammon club's winter headquarters. We're stuck here for the whole summer. Which would be fine if the food weren't so demonically expensive. Lemme clarify... it's not too expensive if you're going out for a special occasion. But c'mon... we're here every Monday night. So late R40 for a pizza gets steep after a little while.

Mind you, Rob's cooking is legendary. His oxtail stew is amongst the best I've encountered.

But back to Sophia. And the tears falling into her pure leather backgammon board. Her tears. Cos I'm currently ripping the gusset from her panties, and she's totally helpless to prevent it. Thwang! I flick my invincible dice wrist, and the Shaved Tormentor takes his latest victim... Sophia goes down 21-12.

There's just one complication. She's my new boss for the next four or so months. She owns the production company I'll be working for. We're putting together 13 half-hour episodes devoted to open source software. I'm writing and directing six of them, and we've been in a meeting all afternoon before backgammon to try and resolve some money issues.

Which we do.

So, from now on, you can call me Herr Direktor. Hmmm. Nah. I prefer Shaved Tormentor.

Something I need to come clean about right now. For the past two or so months, I've been sinking ever deeper into a clinical depression. It's something not very many people know about me, and even my closest friends don't actually GET the fact that I'm a sometime sufferer from the great black beast.

Even at my worst, when I'm up and about, I'm quite cheerful, and am even capable of great happiness. It's just that it's all tainted, and requires enormous amounts of energy for me to keep appearances up. The reason I've decided to write about it here is that I've just contributed my comments about depression to a writer in the States doing research into depression. She's asked various people to report their experiences, and what works for them. Here's my contribution to her research:

Hiya Jode...

I've had about three really hardcore depressions in my time. I'm currently skating around the edge of a fourth one. I'm 36 years old, a heftily dynamic dude, a bit of an over-achiever, and generally exceedingly energetic. I describe myself as an "Artist-at-Large". I sketch, make movies, write, perform, am a radio presenter. All sorts of arty things.

One of the phrases that I hear from my friends that sets my teeth on edge is this: "But Roy, you don't SEEM depressed. You're doing SO MUCH! Maybe you're just a bit down?" Aaaaaaaargh!!!!

The reason it's so galling is that there's really no way to explain it to anyone who hasn't been depressed.

Just a bit of a note here... I'm HIGHLY psychologically literate. I'm a trained crisis counsellor, and I enjoy therapy once a week, and have done for the last ten years, give or take a few months here and there. I KNOW the difference between sad, down, and depressed. And right now, I'm depressed.

Here's what I experience in my depressed state...

o Seriously low energy.

o I sleep 10 to 12 hours at a stretch, and wake up feeling very tired, often spending an hour more in bed. (My usual, non-depressed sleep need is 5 to 6 hours.)

o I procrastinate more than I usually do.

o I find it very difficult to feel excited about most things. There is a sort of narcotised feeling to my emotions. (I CAN feel excited, but it takes work, and it feels to me as though I'm faking it.)

o I experience the depression physically as a kind of a squashing down of my brain. It literally feels as though there's something in the top of my skull pressing my brain down towards my nose. Very unpleasant, and constantly with me.

o I experience a touch of paranoia. I'm VERY quick to judge that someone's comments are directed against me, and I somehow twist their words to make a case against me. I feel that they're judging me as worthless and unloveable.

o In company, I'm able to be affable, witty, bubbly. I portray myself very well as someone who is light and carefree. This is because I have strong will power, and I'm able to fake it. As a performer, I've learned the skills to appear how I need to appear. On the inside though, I feel sort-of deadish.

o I find it VERY difficult to answer my phone, and tend to leave it to ring to voice-mail. I sometimes don't reply to the message for some days. Very frustrating for those trying to reach me. (One of the quirks I have, which becomes deeply bothersome in times of depression, is that I have some kind of pathological aversion to messages that have no details. If someone leaves me a message that says, "Hi Roy, Mandy here. Call me back," I have almost no ability to actually call them back. I know I know I know. Silly. But that's how it is. And it gets worse when I'm depressed.

o I spend a lot of time reading.

o I buy books. (But actually, I buy lots of books whether I'm depressed or not. But the reason it appears in the list is that when I'm in a bout of depression, it's usually allied to my not taking on freelance work, and hence, being slightly broke. Which is a really bad thing to be when armed with a credit card in a bookstore.)

If people want to help me in this particular space, I'd really appreciate them NOT giving me advice on how to snap out of it. I really don't want their opinions on how fine I appear, and how it's probably not depression. That just makes me switch off, and I simply find ways to cut the conversation and get them out of my space.

Having the wherewithal to actually confide in someone that I'm depressed is huge all in itself. To then be advised is just plain ugly.

I would like people to simply hear me, and use reflecting techniques to demonstrate to me that they've heard me. (I had a girlfriend who was depressed, and this tool worked for her too. And it's also worked with bipolar friends of mine when they've been in a down cycle.) Reflecting is very easy, but for some reason, people feel very self-conscious about doing it, and they assume that they're not being helpful.

Here's what I mean by reflecting.

o Look interested in hearing what I'm saying.

o Make non-vocal signals to show that you're hearing me. For instance, the odd nodding of a head, eye contact, positive body language, a few "aha", "yeah?", "oh", "hmmmm" go a long way.

o Every now and again, for you to say, "Can I just summarise what I'm hearing, Roy? You're saying, 'you feel trapped, unloveable, as though you have no energy'. Is this right?" Then SHUT UP and allow me to continue.

o If I'm crying, please don't try and make me laugh or smile. I'm not crying as some kind of attempt to test your comic skills. I'm crying because I'm in severe pain. Rather ask if it's okay to hold me, and do so, paying particular attention to whether or not I'm displaying signs of claustrophobia.

o DO NOT GIVE ME ANY ADVICE. You do not know what this space is. And even if you're depressed or depressive yourself, there is NO way you're going to prove to me in this moment that you know what I'm going through. Your advice instantly identifies you as someone who wants me to snap out of this. Just don't do it.

o If you have to say something, say something like this: "Roy, I'm hearing that you're depressed. I can't know what that's like for you, but it sounds hard. I'm not going to try and make it go away. I just want you to know that I'm here, judgement-free. I'm your friend, and I love you no matter how you're feeling."


I hope this gives you something useful, Jode.

May the book be a huge success, and may it help a lot of depressed people and those around depressed people. It's one of the most helpless-making diseases around. EVERYone feels helpless. Sigh.

Blue skies

Right now, I'm doing everything in my power to curb the thing. Gym is my biggest weapon. Physical activity helps a great deal. Also, doing small-but-positive things also helps. This Jacana novel competition is a godsend, cos it's helping me focus, and I'm getting a tremendous sense of achievement from it.

Beating Sophia is also quite good. Even though it might make her feel like she lost both at backgammon and in my price negotiation. Ah well. The price of victory.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

My Flat, Cresta

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Service: * * * 1/2
Food: * * * *
Ambience: * * * * *
Babe Count: N/A

Ayeeeeeee! I'm torn! Should I be updating my website? Or should I be completing the second draft of my novel? Website? Novel? Website? Novel.

Right. I'm a writer! So... PROCRASTINATION RULES!!!!!!!! Yeah!!!!

Okay then. So... should I be updating my website? Or tidying my bedroom? Website? Tidying?

Yeah. This could go on allllll night. And frequently does.

Lemme tell you a bit about my novel. I last worked on it in at the end of March 2001. Three years ago. At that point, I'd reached 10 000 words of the second draft rewrite. And then hit a wall and ran out of steam. I was awarded a fairly huge grant by the National Arts Council in 2000 or 1999 -- I don't recall -- to finish the damned thing. And I've been feeling guilty ever since that I haven't.

Just a picture of a babe I came across on the web. Thought she'd make a good portrait subject. Drawing is a very effective procrastination tool if you're a novelist.So now, with the Jacana/European Union novel competition looming, I figure, hey, why don't I blow the dust off the old draft, and wield the old typewriter-calloused fingers, and whip out a new draft.

So, yesterday morning I started playing writer writer. I put my cd player on random repeat mode, and got myself into a frenzy. And nope... I didn't procrastinate. Not much. Maybe five or six masturbation sessions at the MOST! All right. Maybe seven. And a bit of catching up on email. And three backgammon matches against my Jellyfish software.

The good news is that I'm now 31 499 words into the new draft. That puts me just under halfway through!!! I reckon I've got about 12 to 24 hours more work on the thing, and it'll be in shape to send to the competition. I'm working fiendishly fast, and, sitting here, I'm truly mystified as to why it's taken me this long to do something SO basic.

The book's called TATTOOS ARE FOREVER, and it's about a twelve year old orphan who's in love with his foster sister and at war with his foster mother.

Can't say more right now. That's because my supper's waiting. Spar roasted chicken, cold, served with freshly microwaved sweetcorn, steaming on the cob. Served with a smile.

Right. Time to carry on working on the novel. Let's see. I need some Vaseline and tissues.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Merlin's Pub, Melville

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Service: N/A
Food: N/A
Ambience: * * 1/2
Babe Count: * * * * *

One thing about the BDSM scene is that it's populated with serious babes. Ayeeeeee. And some of them are specialists in causing groin strain. You know... with a whip or something.

I'm sitting in the upstairs part of Merlin's Pub in Main Rd Melville with an assorted bunch of people. They all share one thing... they're interested or involved in Bondage and Discipline, or S&M, or BDSM, or Domination & submission, or D/s. These terms are, as you'll be aware by now, interchangeable. But maybe you've joined my journey into the dark side a little late.

Every fourth Wednesday of the month, this nondescript pub becomes the venue for what's called a "Pub Moot", a session at which Joburg's kinky people get together and learn about a particular topic. Now unfortunately, I can't give any details about the people, cos participation is understood to be confidential. But I can tell you about what goes on. Just know that I'm not mentioning names or talking about identifiable details. The world is not HUGELY understanding about this stuff.

Tonight's topic is "The use of Hypnosis in BDSM". One of the kinksters is a master at the art of hypnosis, and he's doing a practical demonstration on his slave. (Yes. You read right. Slave. The relationship this particular couple have opted to adopt is the Master/slave relationship. And yes. He owns her. She obeys his every command. Hypnotised or not. And yes, it's ENTIRELY consensual. This is something that WORKS for both of them.)

He tells us about how hypnosis works, about it NOT being dangerous, cos hypnotised people aren't in anyone's power... they're simply in an altered state where their subconscious is dissociated from the consciousness. They're not going to do anything that they wouldn't do if they were fairly drunk.

And he gives us some examples of how to use post-hypnotic suggestion in playing D/s games or scenes. For instance, instead of using actual chains to tie your babe up and immobilise her, you can hypnotise her to believe that on command, she will believe that she's been chained up. She can't move her feet, and she can't move her hands. She'll stay upright. And you can proceed to lay into her with your common or garden flogger, or just tickle her. As you see fit.

Or, for instance, if orgasm on command is more your thing, you can program that for her.

Unfortunately, Karen isn't with me here tonight. She's at her regular dancing lesson, getting instruction in the fine art of the Argentinian tango. And I'm getting ideas about her in a shopping mall and me saying a post hypnotic suggestion and seeing her drop the cans of tuna as she comes. Hmmmmmmmm. Yummy.

Then the demonstration gets amusing. Our resident Svengali gets his slave onto her feet and uses a post hypnotic anchor to get her rapidly into a deep trance. He then tells her that when he claps his hands, she will bark like a dog. He does a few other things, then wakes her up. She's alert and refreshed. He tells us a few things, then claps his hands. "Woof!" she says. And is bewildered. Then she realises what he's done. But he claps again. "Woof," she says, and can't stop herself.

"Think of all the fun you can have in restaurants!" he says, clapping.

"Woof!" she says. "No! Stop doing this to me!!!" she says.


"Woof." Black looks.

At the end of the demo, most of the people go downstairs to make use of the pub's bar facility. I'm left upstairs with a female submissive and a dominant dude. They've noticed some of the little knots I've been making on some sample rope that was handed out earlier. Back when I was a Boy Scout for three months, I learned quite a lot about knotting, and it's stayed with me ever since.

One of my favourite knots is The Turk's Head. It's an extremely ornate knot that looks like a woven ball. A bit like a ball gag, actually. (A ball gag is a ball attached to some straps that you force into the mouth of your submissive and tie around her head so she's forced to mumble and drool helplessly while you do unspeakable things to her. Hmmmm.) So I've been idly making Turk's Heads.

I show the dude and the babe how it's done, and they both make some with me.

And then I mention that I've come up with a very safe wrist tie, one that a sub can't wriggle out of, and which doesn't cut off circulation to the wrists. "Do you have a piece of rope?" I ask.

The dom gets this huge gleam in his eyes, and runs downstairs. He comes back up with 30 metres of red cotton rope. "Only eighty bucks!" he says.

"I'll be the dressmaker's dummy!" says that sub woman. "I LOVE being tied up!" she says.

We measure out some rope, and I do the tie, which is fairly intricate, and extremely elegant. "Here," I say to the dom. "Pull on this end." We both pull as hard as we can, and the sub is blissfully uninjured.

"Wow," she says. "Impressive. A thinking dom."

"How did you work this out?" asks the dom.

"It just arrived in my brain fully formed," I say. And that's how my mind works. I've got this incredible structural sense.

Now all I've gotta do is get Karen to agree to being hypnotised. Making her come on command will be deeply satisfying for me. Not to mention how much I'll save on rope.

If you're a kinkster, and want to come to the Pub Moots once a month in Joburg, go to this web address and ask to join the mailing list informing you of the topics and dates for the meetings:

Monday, September 13, 2004

Wiesenhof, Killarney

Monday, September 13, 2004

Service: * * *
Food: N/A
Ambience: * * *
Babe Count: * *

Nope. This babe wasn't sitting at Wiesenhof showing me her Belgian Waffle. I drew this yesterday on my palmtop. Enjoying this software tremendously.On form again! I'm playing Alistair tonight in the last match of this cycle. If I win, I'll stand a chance at third place in the B-division. If I lose, humiliation is my middle name.

I've already had supper. Last night Karen made a spicy cottage pie, and left the leftovers at my place. Just before I left for backgammon, I heated some up in my microwave oven, and grated mature cheddar over the top. Hmmmmmmm.

Keenan, our waiter for the night, asks what I'd like.

"A Tab with three slices of lemon, please," I say, and I shake the dice. Alistair orders coffee. The way I'm playing, he ought to order a toilet roll too. Cos there's gonna be skid marks in his underpants tonight if he's not careful.

Early in our first game, I offer him the cube. He takes. A few throws later, he offers it back. An obvious take. So we're sitting on a cube of 4. I throw well. Give him the cube back to 8. A marginal take. Now our palms are sweating. He gets a lucky roll. Insanely offers me the cube on 16! In a match going to 21 points, this is crazy. If I drop, I lose 8 points immediately. If I take the cube, whoever wins gets 16 points minimum. I take.

A few throws later, I find myself in an unassailable position. I do the absolutely unthinkable. I turn the cube to 32. Alistair ponders. If he takes, this is the only game we'll need to play tonight. Because whoever wins, gets the required number of points to take the entire match. If he drops, he loses 16 points, and puts me in an almost invincible lead.

Alistair is not insane. He drops the cube, and I'm ready to kick his butt.

"Keenan," I say, and our waiter hurries over. "May I have a Belgian waffle?"

He bursts out laughing. "A WHAT? Be careful... I'll tell your wife what you asked for!"

"Why?" I ask, bemused. "What's a 'Belgian Waffle'?"

"No!" says Keenan. "I can't tell you!!!" He heads for the kitchen, giggling.

"What's a 'Belgian Waffle'?" I ask Alistair.

"Probably some slang or other for female genitalia," he says.

The waffle arrives. Delicious. With ice-cream and syrup. Ayeeee. Gimmmmmme.

We play on. And Alistair draws on vast reserves of luck, patience, and skill, and the score evens out to 18-17 to me. I've got to stop thinking about Belgian Waffles, and play.

A couple of deft flicks of the wrist, some daring offerings of the cube, and I beat Alistair 21-18. Hooray! I'm alive!

And tonight's our last night at our winter venue. Next week we're in Sandton again.

Damn. I'm gonna miss the Belgian Waffles here.

Saturday, September 11, 2004


Saturday, September 11, 2004 and are now alive and kicking again. Thanks hugely to Steve Peters and Jean-Marie in Australia for jumping through hoops to get my French service provider to get me back online.

It was a nasty Catch-22 -- they stopped accepting foreign card payments, but locked my domain name. This prevented me from transferring the domain to a US-based server. Eventually, Steve asked Jean-Marie to make the payment using his French account. So now I'm in the process of working out how best to repay Jean-Marie.

Complicated, huh?

But here's a hint... host your domain name in a country that speaks your language. Most of this hassle comes from the fact that the OVH dudes speak no English.

Another hint... shop around. My South African service provider wanted to charge me R800 (around US$80) for transferring and holding the name for one year. in the States was asking US$7.50 for the same service. in France is asking 8 euros. Makes no sense.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Wiesenhof, Killarney

Monday, September 06, 2004

Service: * * *
Food: * * *
Ambience: * * *
Babe Count: * *

Back in Joburg after a delicious drive down to Knysna in the slinky li'l red sports car. Karen and I took off cross-country, and spent a night in Nieu Bethesda, home of South Africa's legendary Owl House. Wow. What a creeeeeeepy place! And totally amazing. There's a kind of psychosis present there that I found both unsettling and thrilling.

And the place we stayed at was amazing. Doornberg Guest Farm. If you're driving from Joburg to Knysna, I strongly recommend going to Doornberg. Strongly. What an excellent place. We were in "the cottage". It's a three-bedroomed palace. Seriously. And Karen and I got up to some particularly enjoyable D/s kinky stuff in front of the roaring fire.

All of this info about our holiday is all just a way of me avoiding the main topic of tonight... Harold.

Yup. Harold. He's just ripped my lungs out through my underpants. Beat me 21-12 at backgammon. Leaving me to mop up the remnants of my Ramble Scramble with a crust of dry toast. (This dish is very fundamental fare. Mince on toast and scrambled egg on toast. Lovely.)

Which probably means I'm not in the money anymore for this cycle. And Majid is keeping very mum about how well he's done. He's finished all of his games, but answers in non-sequiturs when I ask him. Which is probably his way of not having to tell the world that he's number one in the B-division.