Thursday, June 23, 2005

Fournos, Dunkeld

Thursday, June 23, 2005

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

I've ordered my chicken crispy. It's the half chicken with a side salad. The side salad is much more generous than before. And the chicken is crispy. Hmmmm.

And I'm still shaking a little bit.

Why'm I shaking? Cos I'm now officially an honest to goodness Citizen of Gauteng (the province or state in which I live).

I was on the phone to Jade, Eran's babe, making arrangements to pick up some headshots of myself that Eran took. I need them to send to my agent, and to voicebank. I had just concluded a successful job interview, and was driving towards Dunkeld. Up Corlett Drive. Turned right into Oxford. Waiting at the red traffic light to turn right into Bompas Road. I phone Jade at the red light.

"If you can come round on the weekend, Eran will be home, and he'll know where to find the disc," Jade says.

"That's cool," I say. And I notice someone knocking on my window. He's got a gun. "Oh shit," I say to Jade, "hang on!" And by mistake, and in my confusion, I terminate the call.

The traffic cop motions me to pull over in a driveway in Bompas. I do so. He comes to my window. "Do you KNOW what you did wrong?" he asks. I notice instantly that there's no name tag in sight. My usual practice in a situation like this would be to be as charming as possible, and talk my way out of it.

"Yes officer," I say. "I want to apologise. I was talking on my cellphone."

"How much you think this fine is?" he asks. He shows me an unblemished book of fines. His pen is ready. "It is five hundred rand," he says.

I step out of the car. "Oh man, officer," I say. "Yeow. Is it possible for you to find it in your heart to forgive me?"

He looks at me. Sideways. "Get back in the car." I do. He goes round to the passenger side. Indicates I should roll down the window. I do. "You know how much the fine is?" he asks again. "Five hundred."

"Is it possible to make it a smaller fine?" I ask.

"How much?" he asks.

"Uhm..." I'm wondering what banknotes I've got in my wallet. If I say fifty rand, and I've only got a hundred buck note, I'm sure as heck not getting change from this chump. Think Roy, think. Okay... I broke a hundred last night. I say, "Would a fifty rand fine be acceptable to you?"

He smiles, pretends to think about it a bit, looks at my li'l red convertible, smiles more broadly. Says, "Fifty rand is acceptable."

"How do I do this, officer?" I've got the note out. He's holding my driver's licence in his right hand. "I've never done this before."

"Fold it small!" he says. "Keep your hand down. I take it when I give you this." He waves the driver's licence.

I fold the fifty in half, and half again. I scoop up a discarded pamphlet from my floor, and hold the note under that. I hand it to him. He gives me the licence, and takes the money. I can't even see his hand move into his pocket. He's slick at this. A very smooth operator.

"Do you promise never to do this again?"

"Officer," I say, "I would be lying if I made that promise. But I can promise I'll TRY not to get caught again."

He smiles. Waves me off.

"Sala gahle," I say in Zulu. (Stay well.)

When I get to Fournos, I realise that this traffic officer, with his gun, and his irrevocable authority, and his absent name tag, is exactly the same as a mugger or a hijacker. He has exactly the same power apparatus behind him... the threat of violence, the power of surprise, the threat of hazy fantasy consequences, the gun. I got mugged, in essence. And every South African who pays a bribe has been mugged in the same way.

When I chat to M about it, she's kinda happy about the fact that I got away with paying just fifty bucks instead of five hundred. I say to her, "Okay... but think about this... what happens if I were a girl in a car on my own, and this WASN'T a crowded intersection but rather the side of the road somewhere. What if the officer solicited a blow job instead of fifty bucks. That's rape. Isn't it?"

Ah fuck it. I'll just eat my chicken and my salad. And I'll think about being a nine-to-sixer for the next while working as a copywriter at an online gaming empire. And I think I'll order a slice of chocolate mousse cake with a decaff cappuccino when I finish my lunch. It's off to gym after anyway.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Roy officially on VoiceBank -- listen to my voice clips online, then hire me as a voice artist!

Ah! It's official! I now have some voice clips on The Voice Bank (, South Africa's source of quality voice artists. Listen to my voice! Then call my agent and book me!

Blue skies

Monday, June 20, 2005

News Cafe, Sandton

Monday, June 20, 2005

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

Damon's just done a voice-over session at Primedia across the road. I gave him a lift, due to Wendy using his car today, due to Wendy's car being stuck in Nelspruit for the next week or so while the mechanics have a field day finding things they can charge her for in fixing her blown head gasket.

"Damon attaching the babewatcher to the chair in front of him. It's just a bicycle mirror, a dowel rod, and a heavy bullclip.What the hell's that?" asks Damon, as I pull a little home-assembled gizmo from my bag. "Dude!!!" he says. "It's not -- it's not --"

"It is," I say.

A while ago, Damon and I invented a babewatching gizmo that would allow both parties at the table to gawk at the same babe, without one of them craning his head round and looking like a lame rubber-necker. It remained an idea, until I got to London.

I say, "I bought the mirror at a 'one pound store' in London."

Damon putting a fine adjustment on the angle of the babewatching device. There's a waitress bending over the till over his left shoulder. I'm sitting directly opposite him, so I have a full, unimpeded view. Now so does he.The device is a bicycle mirror, attached to a dowel rod, with a sturdy bullclip attaching it to the table or chair.

Damon attaches it to the chair, and bends the arm around so that he can see the waitresses behind him. I've got a great seat, so I can watch them bending over the till in their tight black trousers all the time.

"It works! It works!!!" says Damon.

For the rest of the afternoon, Damon's eyes are glued to the mirror. Strangely, not one waitress comes up to us and asks what this thing is.

"I should have bought two mirrors at the pound store," I say.

"Two EACH," says Damon.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

My Flat, Cresta

Sunday, June 19, 2005

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

Got a phone call from Damon yesterday morning. "Roy, I need your help, urgently! Have I woken you up?"

I was still half asleep. "Uh, no, it's cool. The phone was ringing anyway."

"Roy, Wendy's car's broken down in Nelspruit, and I'm supposed to be the MC of a poetry slam at St John's. I'm not gonna make it. Can you stand in for me?"

"Absolutely!" I was now wide awake. "Uh... what time's the gig?"

"Two o'clock. Can you make it?"

"Sure," I said. "What happened to Wendy's car?"

Damon and Wendy were down in Timbavati, visiting the White Lion project. One of Wendy's friends runs the thing. So they were delivering a benefit concert for the lions.

"Oh man. We blew a head gasket."

Luckily I was wide awake, so I could respond properly. "Jesus dude! I hope you were in the back seat when this happened. Did you have something to wipe off the fluids?"

"Very funny Roy."

Damon was sounding a little tense. Which happens when you're stuck four hours out of Joburg, and you're not likely to have your own head gasket blown for a while cos your girlfriend's also tense and you're about to spend R5 000 to fix something that shouldn't need fixing.

So I went to the slam, and had huge amounts of fun. I was compering, which is a good thing, cos I haven't performed poetry in a long time now.

While Kgafela and his band were performing, I whipped out my li'l Pocket PC and started sketching away furiously. Luckily it was a long set, so I had about a half an hour to do it in. And finished just as he finished his encore.
After the slam, Kgafela oa Magogodi performed. He had a bassist and a drummer backing him, and his show was simply outstanding. Awesome is the word. Rock 'n roll, bebbe. He's gonna be South Africa's next big star.

In the meantime, I'm waiting for M to get back from Dakar. She was there on business, and she's arriving tonight. We'll be having supper together. Hehehehehe.

I've made myself a sandwich on pumpernickel, with double gloucester cheese and Woolworth's salami. Hmmmmmmmm.

We've had some serious discussions recently. She's glad that J is no longer on the polyamory scene with me, and would prefer it if I don't get a replacement girlfriend. I'm in serious panic mode around this. Makes me feel all tunnel-vision monogamous again, and all my anxiety responses are up. Eeeek. I dunno if I WANT just one girlfriend!!!

Not that there's anything wrong with M! She's hot as heck! And I like her. I like her a lot. Enough to be her boyfriend. But I'm just not certain I'm cut out for monogamy. Ah well. I'll have to play this one by ear.

I've also decided that I'm on the employment market. I've lived a very enjoyable freelance existence for a decade or more, but I'm starting to want some more financial stability in my life.

So here's my plan... I'm going to sell my services on long term contract to anyone who can make use of a serious maverick with a broad skills palette. My resume follows below. If you know anyone who can make use of me, let them know, or let me know.

I'm quite flexible about the work. As long as I'm exercising my creativity, I'm happy.

ROY BLUMENTHAL -- Writer, Artist, Filmmaker, Radio Presenter, Amateur Coffee-Shop Critic, Ka Huna Masseur, Trouble-Shooter, Maverick

Self portrait -- me looking like a maverick.

Phone: +27 82 659 3165

o Currently working as a freelance writer/director/producer in television and corporate videos.

o I'm a trained crisis counsellor (back in the old day of the 702 Crisis Centre, I was a volunteer).

o I'm an ex-advertising writer/art director (freelanced most of my working life as a self-contained writer/art director team; was a permanent copywriter at Hunt Lascaris FMC for a while).

o Studied half of an electrical engineering degree at Wits, where I was a journalist and satirist on Wits Student newspaper, edited the RAG mag one year, and was a DJ on Voice of Wits Radio.

o Worked as a sound engineer/controller on the Stan Katz, Chris Gibbons, and Barry Ronge shows on 702 back in the day. Thanks to Voice of Wits for that.

o Was a photo journalist on Paratus magazine, writing satire unbeknownst to the people in charge. (Was a religious objector, of all things. Refused to carry a rifle.)

o Studied eight tenths of a literary theory degree at Unisa.

o Sold advertising space on a weekly newpaper called THE HERALD TIMES for Publico.

o Started doing performance poetry at the Market Theatre Flea Market, and in Pretoria and Verwoerdburgstad (now Centurion). That's where Barefoot Press was born.

o Worked at Exclusive Books Hyde Park as their computer geek, in charge of the database when I left the army. Lasted three months, but organised their literary theory shelf.

o Created a project called "Performance in the Park" at Joubert Park. It was a collaboration between COSAW (the Congress of South African Writers) and the Johannesburg Art Gallery. Every Saturday at noon, I got a bunch of street performers to come in and do stuff for an hour. It was hugely successful.

o Got employed by a telephone dating service for about 7 months. Catered for allllll sorts of people. Men looking for women. Women looking for men. Singles looking for couples. Couples looking for couples. Gay men. Gay women. Affairs. The gamut. By the time I stopped working for them, I could tell EXACTLY what line people were calling by simply listening to their intake of breath before they spoke. I was right a hundred percent of the time.

o Left dating to become a direct response copywriter.

o Stayed with advertising for about eight years before leaving it for the film industry.

o Co-edited a book that went to number one on both Exclusive Books and Facts & Fiction bestseller lists. A WRITER IN STONE was in honour of Lionel Abrahams, the doyen of South African literature.

o Numerous published poetry, and television appearances as a performance poet.

o Started Barefoot Press, a poetry publishing house. Started printing poetry on cloth.

o Started running creativity seminars for RAU and WITS. Still run these.

o Taught copywriting at AAA School of Advertising, and later at VEGA.

o Edited GADGET, the online magazine that Arthur Goldstuck started. Got the readership up from around 800 people a week to approximately 10 000.

o Wrote all of the content for Yaron Assabi's "Digital Mall" while I was there. Also saved Incredible Connection from losing R150 000 in a credit card fraud perpetrated from Malaysia. Spotted what looked like a pattern in ordering, and turned out to be right. Hehehehehehe. Crime Buster Blumenthal. That's me.

o Became a "Production Assistant". This is a glorified term for "Runner", the lowest rung on the filmmaking ladder. Had several very surprised members of the ad fraternity saying, "Roy! Blumenthal!!! What are you doing giving me coffee???? And picking up my cigarette stompies?????"

o Progressed into production. Wrote and made a few short films, notably ARIA (a ten minute film about some ancient ex-Nazi opera singers who have their past confront them) and NOODLES (a one-minute quickie).

o Popped onto the radio as the disher out of "Priceless Advice" on SAfm's Computer Gig. Did that for around 7 or 8 years.

o Ended up at SABC3 on contract for three years as a promo producer. It was my job to get people to watch appalling shows like BUDDY FARO. And better shows like SURVIVOR and THE AMAZING RACE. And I can tell you that it's almost impossible to get a voice artist to say the phrase "Relic Hunter" with a straight face. Say it out loud ten times. Heheheheheh. I learned how to edit at Three. Very cool. I made about 900 promos in that time, 450 of which I cut myself. And that translates to my having directed 900 voiceover sessions.

o Started blogging, turning in irreverent and pointless coffee-shop reviews, and have been doing so for three or four years. Cult following. Have used the phrase, "Do you KNOW who I am???" more than once in an effort to terrify the staff into ensuring that the coffee they give me is indeed decaf.

o Joined Memar as a producer on their Ethiopian education project. Turned the chemistry team around. It was haemorrhaging, and it was my pleasure to fire six people and fix the entire screw-up. Endured a death threat in the process. What a tough skin I have.

This is Rich...! from a company called THE MISSING LINK. He was one of the dudes we interviewed for Go_Open, the tv show I co-directed.

o Started taking my art seriously. First exhibited at Gallery 111 in Bez Valley. Then the Spaza Gallery in Troyeville. Then Gordon Froud's Gordart Gallery in Melville. My pictures were also part of the erotica exhibition at Merely Mortal in Craighall.

o Directed half of the episodes of GO-OPEN, a tv series about the Open Source Movement. Mostly magazine-style inserts. One or two studio shoots. All across the country.

o Produced a video soliciting funds from Oprah Winfrey and other sponsors for the SOUL BUDDYZ CLUBS, a social phenomenon that arose around the tv series.

o Did pre-production on a travel and tourism DVD aimed at South Africans in South Africa.

o All sorts of writing odd jobs all the way through.

o Am a level-two Hawaiian Ka Huna massage practitioner.

o My motto: "I live my art in prosperity and abundance."

Now. About the service in this place. "Roy!" I'm saying this aloud as I type. "Bring me some orange tea!"

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

My Drawings Now on Flickr

Thought you might be interested in viewing my drawings online. I've set up a Flickr account, and I'm steadily uploading my body of work to it. All of my recent ones are up, including those I drew while in London.

The URL is:

Blue skies

My Flat, Cresta

Wednesday, June 8, 2005

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

Back from London now for a week and a half, almost. What a hectic and amazing mind-expansion. Flexed my credit card thoroughly. Gave two ka huna massages while I was there, improvising on the kitchen table at Paul and Pieter's place. Bought an iRIVER mp3 player on Tottenham Court Road for my ka huna practice. Saved about a grand in the process.

My massage bed has arrived, and my dining room has been transformed into my therapy room. Have already given two massages since I've been back. Yay!!! I'll be charging R350 for a 90 minute massage. So if you're interested, lemme know.

The reason I haven't blogged from London is simple and fundamental... my wonderful palmtop computer -- an iPAQ 2210 -- runs the Pocket PC platform. Which means that I am forced to surf the web using a stripped-down version of Internet Explorer. This version DOES NOT ALLOW ME TO ACCESS Blogspot's composer window! The browser crashes!

Now some might say, "Blame Blogspot for not optimising the site for people blogging from Pocket PC palmtops."

I disagree.

I say, "Microsoft! Stop lying to people about the software on palmtops running your crap operating system! Stop lying about this version of Internet Explorer! Stop claiming that the versions of Word and Excel bear ANY resemblance to their MS Office counterparts. GIVE ME A BETTER BROWSER!!!!!!! You fuckers!!!!!!!!!"

That's what I say. (And incidentally, I said something similar to Robert Scoble, Microsoft's chief blogger, but without the swearing. He emailed me back to say he'd get his techies onto it.)

Which is all to say, "Hey... I apologise for not blogging."

The post on the 18th of May was typed on my palmtop, and had to wait to be uploaded from my desktop machine. I've just been really busy since I got back, and have also been in serious hermit mode.

Damon and I shot a movie on Saturday. He wrote, directed, and shot the thing, and I was his only crew member, so I did everything else. It was a realllllll rush.

It was an initiative set up by The Actor's Centre at the Civic Theatre. They came up with this way of getting their members to get some experience in front of the camera. They got four writer/directors to pitch 5-minute scripts set in a waiting room. They ran casting sessions a week before the shoot, with rehearsals during that week. On shooting day, each director had exactly two hours to shoot, and one and-a-half hours to edit. The four films were screened on the night of the shoot!

Damon had amazingly detailed storyboards, and I spent most of the shooting time writing down timecode and evaluating the take for usability. We made it! And the audience loved his movie! (Might have had something to do with the actress. WHAT a babe!!!!)

On the domestic front, it looks like J and I are no longer in itemhood. She had a realisation that polyamory is not for her. So things have cooled drastically with her.

But that's allright. Cos I'm finding myself growing reallllly fond of M. She's serious babeage, and it looks like we're kinda taking things to the next stage. Eeek. Girlfriend/boyfriend stuff. And she'd prefer it if I don't get a replacement for J. And that's okay with me, even though I'll have to spend lots of time in therapy dealing with it. I don't wanna get all tunnel-visioned about her.

That's the news for now.

Be back soon.