Tuesday, December 21, 2004

The Ant, Melville

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

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

Catherine is sitting with us briefly. She's a giantess. Damon says, "Show us your muscles!" So she stands up and strikes a Charles Atlas pose, arms flexed. Fuck'n hell. This chick is seriously defined.

"Feel them," she commands. Damon and I obey, feeling her rock hard biceps.

"I've gotta arm wrestle you," I say. "And I so totally don't mind losing to you!"

We sit down, square up, and Catherine says, quickly, in that, 'I'm gunna win this by hook or by crook' kinda way, "Three-two-one-GO!"

And she pounds on the pressure. This chick is an Amazon! But with two breasts. I know, cos I've locked my arm, and I'm taking inspiration from her cleavage. We're using our right arms, which is a BIT unfair of her, seeing as I'm left-handed. But my arm refuses to give, even though she's leaning into it, with her body over her hand, putting some weight into it too.

On the inside, I'm quaking. And I'm taking serious strain. If she's got the stamina, I reckon I'm a goner in the next twenty seconds. So I hold on. And she starts huffing and puffing, and she tries one last frantic burst of power. But she fades after about two seconds, and I just butter her arm down to the table.

She whimpers.

"Okay, left arm," I say, expecting to crush her instantly. Instead, it's exactly the same battle. If anything, Catherine's left arm is stronger than her right. But she relents, and I pound the back of her hand to the wood.

"First time I've lost," she says. She leaves. Probably to beat up on her gym instructor.

"Holy fuck, she's strong!" I say to Damon.

Damon says, "Wow, Roy, this BDSM stuff... you've learned a thing or two, huh? You didn't even flinch."

"I'm flinching now," I say. "Can't even move my hands!"

"You didn't show a thing. Just glared at her like a dom."

We start chatting about polyamory and BDSM. He asks me about Kathy (not Catherine), a friend of his. I first met her at one of his parties.

He says, "When Jose told me you two were hooking up, I couldn't believe it."

An actor acquaintance of his stumbles over to our table, drunk. He sits down. And starts talking crap about how South Africa's poor people are NOWHERE near as poor as the poor people in the rest of Africa.

He demonstrates with a particularly odious epxpression on his face how Joburg's poor people hold their hands out demanding money. "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!!"

"Oh come on," says Damon. "You can't say ALL of South Africa's poor are like that. And anyway, poor is poor. YOU try living with absolutely no money."

"Ya," says the guy, clicking his fingers aggressively. "But these fuckin' okes go home with Nando's burgers in their stomachs. In Mozambique they've got NOTHING!"

"You're talking about the car guards," Damon says. "What about the rest of the poor people?"

I zone out and turn my chair away from this dork. I figure that if I ignore him for long enough, he'll just bugger off. But he's too drunk. And he loves his voice. He's an ACTOR, you know?

Eventually Damon also ignores him. Fifteen minutes later, he stands up to go to the loo.

"Fuck," I say. "What a bore."

"Carry on about Kathy," he says. "Is she... uh... relaxed about the BDSM stuff?"

I kinda give him a non-answer to his non-question. "Yeah, she's relaxed about it." I figure if she wants to tell him about BDSM relaxation, she will. Or he can read this site. Hehehehe.

The actor comes back. "Ah, fuck," I murmur, and turn my chair and stare into the middle distance.

"Where was I?" he says, and starts on his diatribe. Damon and I slip out, and he's still declaiming to an empty table. But there are other people in the restaurant, and they're sure to want to hear his opinion.

Kathy's got flu. Karen's got a tummy bug. Helen's overseas. Susan's not into polyamory. Joanna's just a glimmer of hope on the horizon. And if I'd known I could beat the Amazon, I should have bet her a blow job.


I think I'll go home now and think about the poor in Africa.

Cafe, Melville

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

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

"What's this place actually called?" I say to the owner. The reason I'm asking is that the logo consists of a line drawing of a fork, a plate, and a knife, followed by the word 'Cafe'. It looks like it could be 'Oy Cafe'. Or 'Ioy Cafe'. Or 'Ior Cafe'.

The owner says, "Just 'Cafe'. We like to keep it simple, like our fare." Cafe is in 4th Ave, Melville, across the road from The Hard Times Cafe. Well worth going to. Decent menu. Fair prices. Intimate, cosy, decent ambient "Cafe Del Mar" style music playing at background level.

Joanna and I have just finished eating the butternut soup, which is delicious. Joanna is vegetarian, so she asked up front whether the soup was made using a vegetable or meat stock. Most places actually use a terrible chicken stock for their butternut, and it often has a clunky flavour at the top of the palate. The owner said, "Everything on our menu that LOOKS vegetarian IS vegetarian. So the butternut soup has absolutely no meat in it."

"Compliments to the chef," says Joanna.

She's a girl I'm meeting for the first time from the internet dating site I'm on. She's read my site, and isn't all that fascinated with the BDSM stuff. But she's still prepared to meet me anyway. Probably cos she's an Aquarian, like me. Very curious people, Aquarians. I get an sms from Damon. "In Melville. Where are you?"

I send him a message back, saying, "On a date with a babe I met on the internet. Can I see you in about half an hour?"

"No prob," he smss back. "Chilling at The Ant."

On the dating site, her profile describes her a carrying "a few extra pounds". When she sent me her photo, I couldn't spot any of those pounds, and she told me in email that she's got a very ordinary body. Well, I think I can definitely make a case against her at the Advertising Standards Authority for false advertising. She's shapely, curvy, and delicious to look at.

We chat long and hard about polyamory. She's had friends who tried it, and it fucked out profoundly. But in probing the setup, it seems as though these friends weren't really doing polyamory at all. Sounds more like a communal sex situation that didn't have many parameters set up.

An sms from Damon, "Take your time, dude."

One back from me, "Just five or ten minutes more, ok?" He and I haven't seen each other for ages, and I'm supposed to be at The Ant with him already. My quick coffee with Joanna has turned into several delightful hours.

I'm not trying to persuade Joanna about anything. We'd agreed upfront that this meeting would really be just a coffee meeting. A bit of an exploration. Her profile on the dating site is one of the best-written ones I've seen, and she sounds like a really exciting person to know. So because I'm not persuading her, we're having a good cards-on-the-table look at what polyamory might be for me.

Now I'm totally virgin to the polyamory deal to start with, so I'm really searching for the parameters. So I really don't have any position on it, save that it's something I feel I need.

Then we talk about BDSM. "Why do the BDSM crowd feel the need to hang out at events?" she asks. "Surely this stuff doesn't need labelling, doesn't need to be put in some sort of a box?"

"Well," I say, "maybe not. In my own case, I realise that I've been practicing BDSM sex pretty much from the beginning, but didn't know that. So I didn't label it. And I've had a pretty decent sex life. But," I say, "not knowing that I was into BDSM may actually have limited my sex life quite a lot."

Another sms flurry between me and Damon. Sheesh. He's a patient friend.

I tell Joanna about my honouring the word 'No'. And I explore the possibility that a girl may NEED to say 'no', but may equally need that 'no' NOT to be honoured. In vanilla sex, if a girl says 'no', I stop whatever I'm doing. That's it. Now, if the 'no' isn't ACTUALLY a 'no', and is simply the girl exercising her need to SAY 'no', then, the sex is NOT where it needs to be.

In BDSM, the agreement between the two parties is very explicit, and totally negotiated. The one thing that's fairly standard in all BDSM encounters is that the word 'no' means nothing, and that a code word replaces it. So, in a BDSM scene, if I hear the word 'no', I pump up the juice a bit. However, if I hear the word 'yellow' (which in my negotiation with my partner means 'Back off! I'm at the edge!'), I back off bigtime, and I find out what it is that's pushing my partner to the edge. If I hear the word 'red', that's a dead stop. That's a nogo area, and I cease and desist immediately.

Now, of course, the code word ISN'T the be all and end all. It's NOT a total protection for the submissive. Common sense is actually the biggie. For instance, if I hear my partner saying, "No! Roy, seriously, I mean this, we're at my edge! Stop!" I'll treat that as a yellow or a red, and find out what's happening. Anything else is just brutish.

Joanna hears my thoughts, and some of it seems to make sense to her. "But why the meetings, the getting together?" she asks.

I say, "Well, there are practical aspects to BDSM that newcomers need to know. For instance, using silk scarves to tie someone up with is a no-no."

"Why?" she asks. My guess is that she's responding to the romantic notion that silk scarves are soft and decadent and feel delicious on the skin.

"Quite simply, the knots pull VERY tight on a silk scarf, and the scarves themselves pull very tight on the skin. They also tend to cut off circulation." I tell her that you learn practical tips like that. "Imagine a NON-BDSM scenario," I say, "where you and I in a vanilla setting, decide to tie one of us up. We don't know anything about BDSM, which means we don't know some of the 'rules'. I tie you up with silk scarves, and neither of us knows that I'm supposed to check your circulation every five or so minutes. You don't know that it's NOT okay for your fingers to go numb. We're just enjoying this edgy stuff." I say that could be damaging, and it's really from ignorance. BDSM gives us both a safe paradigm to operate from."

Again, I'm not trying to persuade her about the rightness or wrongness of BDSM. I'm simply stating how it is for me at the moment. Which, I think, allows her to warm to me somewhat.

So at the end of the evening, after I've sent Damon about ten smss saying, "Hey dude... still on my date... seeya in about ten minutes," Joanna and I finally get downstairs.

"A goodnight kiss," I say, and spread my arms.

A momentary pause from her, and we clinch. Soft lips, not a chaste kiss.

"If I didn't have a throat cold," I say, "I'd have gone a bit further."

"How chivalrous of you," she says, blushing.

"Yeah," I say, and kiss her again. She kisses me back.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Doppio Zero, Greenside

Sunday, December 19, 2004

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

I've dragged myself out of bed, and I'm having breakfast with Kathy. Ordinarily, it wouldn't be all that difficult to get out of bed to be with Kathy. But I've been in bed for three days now with some kind of vicious throat infection. And today I have to go to work to catch up on stuff I missed due to being sick. Hence the difficulty in de-bedding myself.

Kathy's cool. A delicious, buxom blonde, into light D/s (just like me!), a sub (not like me!), and into polyamory.

I'm really peeved with being out of action these past few days, cos I didn't have to work on Thursday, and Kathy invited me to spend a day and night with her at a hideaway in Hartebeespoort. Ugh! Missed that!

Lying sick in bed, I've basically been doing three things... playing solitaire on my palmtop, reading John Le Carre's new novel, and sketching on my palmtop. This sketch is based on some studies I did of one of the girls I've had the happy opportunity to tie up. This is an example of light breast bondage. It's aesthetically very pleasing to me, and the girl receiving it gets a subspace rush out of being bound like this. The ropes are quite tight, restricting her breathing, and there is string tied around her nipples, making them powerfully engorged and sensitive. A VERY erotic exercise.Thursday morning I dozed. Until Chantal phoned to say, "Hey Roy, I'm going to see a 2 o'clock movie. Wanna join me?" She's a buddy of mine who I do trance dances with.

"Sheesh, Chantal," I say, "I've got flu, but I've got cabin fever. I'll come see a movie with you."

Now Thursday morning was quite a productive time for me. I managed to work out some stuff around polyamory, and why it's attractive to me, and why I've avoided it till now. MMM, my buddy with four girlfriends, is also into poly. But his poly is a different type to my poly. He's into polygyny, and I'm into polyamory.

Polyamory is about having multiple love partners. Polygyny is about having multiple sex partners. Might SEEM similar superficially, but they're very very different things.

My realisation about my polyamory needs has to do with how I've been in relationships before. I've been a serial monogamist all my life. I've never cheated on a girlfriend. Not once. Not even to kiss another. Sure, I flirt, but nothing else. What happens to me is that I get serious tunnel vision. To the extent that I sense I may actually be slightly obsessive. I think that's what ultimately ended my relationship with Jacqui... the fact that I was committed to being in a relationship with her without some kind of ordinary growth period. How can it be that I was fully committed, that I KNEW that this was the woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, without actually KNOWING her all that well first? The quick answer is that something in me NEEDED to be committed to her. Needed to be in a long-lasting relationship.

On Thursday morning, lying half asleep with a kiln in my throat, I found myself wondering about serial monogamy and why I didn't want to join MMM and his four girlfriends with my three babes (Karen, Kathy, and Helen) for a group session over New Year. He's very excited about this. I'm completely NOT excited by it. I'm not into group sex. I'm not into swinging. I'm not into casual sex. (Yes, it's true I DO casual sex, but that's simply cos I can, and there's satisfaction of a kind in it. It's simply not fulfilling.)

And then it comes to me. All my life I've yearned for family. I've been an outsider, a loner, someone who is majorly alienated from society. When people play happy loving couples with kids and pets, I'm genuinely puzzled. I simply don't understand what they're feeling. But I yearn for it.

So serial monogamy for me has been an attempt to clutch onto one person to provide that feeling of family, without the misery and hectic stuff that I experienced as a kid.

When I was five years old, my dad came home from work. I rushed up to the front door, which was made of stained glass, and the sun shone through it. He opened the door, leaned down to kiss me, and his beard prickled against my cheek. I remember the feeling: "I'm not one of them. I don't belong here. This is not my family." From that moment on, I was completely alone. My mom was a serious alcoholic. My dad was a weekend alcoholic. He used to lose his temper and smash things, including my mom. I don't remember any of the events. I've blocked it out. What I do remember is that until I was about 15, I slept with a knife under my mattress.

So why polyamory? Simply put, it provides a sense of family, a sense of interconnectedness, a network of loving people. I'm still coming to terms with this insight, so it'll have to remain simplistic and naive for now.

So by the time I got the call from Chantal, the cabin fever of being in bed all day was too much. And I wanted to burble my insight to someone. She's a shaman, specialising in dance and movement through her TREAD workshops, so I thought it would be great to get out and chat.

We saw GARDEN STATE. Gets a full ten out of ten on the Roy-O-Metre. An amazing movie about family and belonging and pain. It's one of the tightest scripts I've seen, and the acting is sublime. Very understated, this is a comic gem.

So Chantal and I chatted. And that was great. Getting my thinking straight. And she chatted to me about some of the stuff in her life, and I was able to listen with my own shaman's ear, and offer my insight to her. A win-win afternoon.

That night, I took a Stilpane to sleep. It was left over from an old prescription. I don't normally USE medication. And Stilpane is hectic shit. So one tablet just knocked me out. Friday morning was throat despair. So I smsed Doc Pete from backgammon, and asked him what I should take. "Andolex and Panado," he smsed back. Eventually, I managed to get myself out of bed and headed for the pharmacy. Bought the Andolex and Panado and crawled back into bed. Phoned work first to tell them I wouldn't be in. Which was when I was asked if I could come in on Sunday. "If I'm feeling better," I said.

The Andolex only kinda half-worked, and the Panado only kinda half-worked, but Friday night passed. Saturday passed too, with me feeling feverish, and drawing quite a lot on my palmtop. And reading John Le Carre's latest, ABSOLUTE FRIENDS. Awesome book. I love this man. He's one of the best living writers. Him and John Irving, Salman Rushdie, Hanif Kureishi, and Milan Kundera.

This morning arrives, and the fever and bone ache have gone. I'm sore and tired and grumpy, but fine. Still having difficulty swallowing, but hey.

The grumpiness disappears as soon as Kathy sits down. Laura, our gorgeous young waitress currently a learner in Grade Nine at the Deutsche Shule brings us menus, and we order. I've got to be at work at 11, and it's 9:30 now, so there's not much time.

So it's banter, and catching up with Kathy, and not much more. But that's totally cool. Cos I'm very comfortable in her company.

Let's see where this polyamory stuff takes me. Right now, it's time to head to the edit suite to cut episode seven of Go_Open.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Cool Runnings, Melville

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

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

My throat's sore. I'm with Helen at the moot end-of-the-year party. It's been described in an email as a "play party", with dress code "black, red, or fetish". I'm wearing black, and I'm wearing a huge, floppy red hat.

"Come on! What's with the hat? Take it off!" says one of MMM's girlfriends, a sub. I fix my Dom stare on her, and she begins to quake visibly in her stilettos. Clearly, she's terrified by my extreme fierceness. That's because I'm Bilbo the Dom.

(If you're wondering, the answer is no. She wasn't ACTUALLY terrified. And I don't look anything LIKE Bilbo. I look more like a fleshed out Golum, actually. And YES, the big red hat is entirely ironic. I really don't get much of a kick out of the lifestyle side of D/s. I'm just into doing it, and not really into looking stupid wearing fungus-ridden leather pants. So my hat is a kinda signal to the BDSM "community" that I can still be a very effective Dom and yet STILL have a sense of humour. One thing I've noticed is that most Doms take themselves very seriously indeed. It's kinda like their egos might not survive a bit of fun-poking. Not ALL Doms. Just SOME Doms. And have you noticed? I'm falling into the horrible habit of spelling "Dom" with a capital "D" and "sub" with a submissive "s". Makes me feel more powerful, see?)

Thanks to some or other bizarre zoning issue, downstairs at the dungeon has no music. Nothing. It's completely dead in terms of ambience. A big fat zero. One of MMM's girlfriends goes to ask the management if we can't get some audio action going. Like me, MMM is not into the BDSM lifestyle. He's been practising D/s for the last fifteen years or so, but doesn't feel much of a need to flaunt it. He has four female partners, all of them subs. A harem, basically. What the heck does he need to prove? Nothing. Which is why he's also not wearing anything leather with tin spikes. he looks like a normal dude. Which he is.

His sub comes back from speaking to the manager. "We're not even allowed to bring a boombox down here," she says. "We're condemned to an evening of silence."

There are gadgets all over the place. A huge wooden whipping cross with a naked babe chained to it, being flogged enthusiastically by Burning Lash. Some medical fetish people drawing blood from each other in hypodermic syringes (not shared), then spurting the blood onto a gruesome picture. Kinda like stream of consciousness painting, but using the bloodstream. Stomach turning shit, man. But hey. Each to his or her own, right? Tolerance, baby, tolerance.

This spot just totally lacks soul. Feels like a bunch of middle-aged people in leather, talking about football. Not that they're talking about football, you understand. More like foot fetish.

My overwhelming sense of the evening is of strangers trying to outdo each other in wearing silly weird clothes, and not really talking to each other. Very cliquey, very "I'm a dom, and you're only HALF a dom!"

I dunno. I'm not a LIFESTYLE D/s dude. I like DOING D/s, not LIVING D/s. If living it means looking like a no-hoper with ego issues, that's not me.

I do get to kiss Helen though, even though I told her up front that I have a throat infection, and that she shouldn't kiss me. She's going away on a month-long holidy overseas, so we're not going to have much time to "get to know each other". In fact, tonight's our only chance before she heads for far shores. So we kiss anyway. She's been taking loads of vitamin C.

We don't get to do anything more than kiss, cos I'm really feeling sick by the time the evening ends.

So kissing Helen is the highlight of the evening. That and tying up one of the babes in a Japanese karada.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Gordart Gallery, Melville

Sunday, December 12, 2004

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

Hmmmmmm. Luscious chicks hang out at art exhibition openings. In this one, a twenty-year old babe who has just started a sorbet business is dishing out free scoops. Karen and I try the sweet melon and basil sorbet, and it earns the place a five star rating. The babe also earns that rating, due to exceptional good looks and talent.

But before I wax eloquent about babes, here's a commercial message. If I had ten grand to blow on art right now, I can faithfully say that I wouldn't have it anymore, cos there's so much stuff here that I WANT to own, I would have bought the entire exhibition.

The aim of the show is to provide an end-of-year treat to artists and patrons. Gordon Froud, the owner of the gallery, is a killer sculptor, and he believes in making art affordable to ordinary people. So, the "10 X 10cm Christmas Box Show" has a whole bunch of artists all contributing small, low-priced artworks to the exhibition.

I'm one of those artists, due to a happy meeting with Gordon at Aryan Kaganof's exhibition closing show on Thursday night. Gordon's taken seven of my erotic drawings, and they're on the wall in a nice x-shape. Every now and again, when I go and peak into that particular room, I observe people standing at my work for ages. They're probably trying to figure out how I've made the drawings.

I print my stuff out at a photographic print shop, and each print is signed as an original artwork. I draw them straight onto my palmtop computer, and I just love the way I use colour in these things. My erotic prints are fairly gory and explicit, and they're probably my most overtly uncomfortable artworks.

As you might know from this blog, one of my artistic methods is to place the viewer in the place of voyeur. I LIKE making my viewers or readers uncomfortable. I LIKE having people half-aroused and half-repelled all at once.

Karen and I are no longer an item, but we're still playmates. She's busy getting over a dude she met, but with whom things didn't work out. She's cool with the fact that I have a new playmate. Kathy and I met a while back at a party, and we hit it off then. Bumped into her recently, and she's been reading my site, and like what she's reading, and wants to play. She's keen on polyamory, and is in another polyamorous relationship right now.

So finally, after about nine years of my wondering about it, I'm starting to sink my teeth into what it really means in a pragmatic space. I really have NO idea how the details work out. I mean... do we all socialise together? What happens when I'm feeling like seeing Kathy, but she's with her other boyfriend? What happens when Karen's down, and wants to pop round, but Kathy's tied up in bed with me?

We'll see.

Right now, forget about polyamory and think about expanding your art collection. Head for Gordart Gallery, 78 Third Ave, Melville, Joburg. Call the gallery on +27 11 726 8519. The show is up until 24 December 2004. Buy MY stuff!

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Contractors, Westdene

Saturday, December 11, 2004

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

It's my voice agency's end-of-year party, and the place is filled with famous people all looking au natural. Even without make-up, actresses look like beauty queens.

I've got Bianca's Robin Williams tape in my car, along with a printout of the portrait I did of her back in the old days, when we dated briefly. I suspect she'll be here today, seeing as Carlynn was her agent before I joined.

I'm kinda expecting freezeout if Bianca shows, seeing as she was a little miffed at the fact that our relationship ended. I dunno. What can I say? Things end. She wasn't happy. Oh well.

She arrives. Sees me, smiles a bit. I say, "Hey Bianca, I've got some stuff for you in my car."

She rushes past me, "Yeah," she says, "fine. I'll speak to you later." Which she doesn't.

Which probably means I'm not going to get my standup comedy book back from her. And her portrait is going to sit in my car till it fades away.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

The Muti Gallery, Milpark

Thursday, December 09, 2004

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

Aryan Kaganof's exhibition is coming down tonight, and he's having a ritual and a party to celebrate the exhibition. Apart from being a brilliant artist and a brilliant filmmaker, Aryan is also a genius in performance art.

The lights dim. The gallery is crammed with about 200 people, all crammed into the tiny space clutching glasses of wine and bottles of Spin.

Aryan, wearing a defaced old South African Defence Force Jacket, and a face stenciled with silver spray paint, emerges from the shadows and approaches one of his paintings. He grasps it by the sides, and declaims the entire Hebrew alphabet in a New York rabbi accent. Guto Bussab, the gallery owner, severs the cables tethering the huge canvas to the wall.

Aryan moves to the next painting. "Aleph bet gimmel daled hey nun..." he chants, his voice piercing the dark. Snip. Snip. And the painting is down. He does this a few times, and moves to the last painting. It's the one that can be deciphered as "Murder Derrida". The way the painting works is the that word "MURDER" is painted on the canvas, while the letters "RIDA" are painted on the wall outside the frame. After Guto snips the tethers, the painting falls away to reveal the word "MURDER" painted on the wall.

Suddenly, a video projector starts, and one image gets added -- the words "THE" and "MYSTERY", forming the phrase, "The Murder Mystery". Aryan leaps at the wall with a black marker pen, and starts tracing the outlines of the new words. Loud, dischordant, thrilling music plays.

It's not clear whether Aryan will complete the outlining process before the image disappears. And this is part of his magic as a performance artist. By the time he gets to the second letter "Y" of "MYSTERY", nobody in the gallery is breathing. They're riveted. Will he make it? Will he suffer humiliation if he doesn't? What's gonna happen?

Of course, NOTHING's gonna happen. It's just that he's worked the crowd.

He finishes, JUST as the music stops, and the first of his new films starts showing over "The Murder Mystery" on the wall.

The text beneath the picture is a wanky gimmick. But with Aryan's theatrics, AND the quality of the short films, AND the nailbiting soundtracks, AND the knowledge that Aryan is ACTUALLY an authentic genius, the wankiness is overlooked, and the audience is able to add meaning to the films because of the underlying text.

I don't claim him to be a genius lightly. I've had long chats with this fellow. And I've watched the subtlety of his method at work. This guy plays chess, and he's ten moves ahead of anyone else. (And if you MUST appeal to authority in order to be convinced, do a search on ARYAN KAGANOF and IAN KERKHOF, and you'll find that he's got some important things to say.)

The performance ends, and people start to mingle.One of the seven erotic artworks of mine the Gordon Froud will be showing on The Christmas Box show at the Gordart Gallery, 78 Third Ave, Melville until 24 December 2004.

Gordon Froud is present. He and Diane Victor have been babes for years and years. I'm privileged to have a Diane Victor etching on my wall. And I also have the honour of having a Gordon Froud sculpture on my wall. "Hey Gordon," I say.

"Roy!" he says. "Are you coming to my gallery ever?"

I'm guilty of not having gone to his place in Melville. He's in Third Avenue, in what used to be the Thompson Gallery. For some reason, I just haven't made it there. Eeeek. "I apologise," I say.

"Well, come on Sunday," he says. "Pity you haven't visited before, cos your work might have been up at Sunday's opening." He hauls out a pamphlet for the "10 X 10 cm" exhibition, The Christmas Box show. A bunch of artists all make little artworks that are affordable, and sell them off the wall as a group exhibition.

"I've got some erotica printed out that I can give you," I say. I take out my palmtop, and show him one of the images.

"Yes!" he says. "Bring them tomorrow! We've got very little erotica on the show. Excellent!"

Saturday, November 27, 2004

De Sade Party, Club Nile, Northcliff

Saturday, November 27, 2004

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

I'm finally wearing my skirt out. It's one I bought at Truworth's a lifetime or two ago with Jacqui. Had to dye it black, cos it was kinda beige, and was a bit see-through. Being black is kinda convenient now, cos it fits with the fetish theme of the party I'm at tonight.

I'm leaning forward at the moment, hands far apart, grasping a chair. My chin is up, and my head is back. My eyes are closed.

Pern is dangling the ends of her handmade leather flogger over my back, tickling my spine. Without warning, THWACK!, she brings the whip down on my back. Then gets into a slow rhythm of flogging me gently.

It stings a bit. Not really sore. It's more the mystery of it that's appealing.

This is my first proper play party. Never been to anything like this. And later tonight there's going to be a major demonstration of advanced BDSM play. Kinda hardcore stuff.

Right now, bent over this chair like this, I'm submitting to being flogged because I'm keen to know what a sub feels. How do they get subspace out of this? I'm also doing it cos I want to learn how to flog people. When Pern strokes my neck and my cheeks and my lips with the whip, it feels damn scary. And I can only imagine that if she were seriously lashing me, I would really be trembling in serious fear.

But this is my first ever flogging, so she's taking it very easy. And I'm thrilled to be receiving a lashing from a babe as nice as her. Pity she's not available as a playmate! She is actually a submissive who is in a relationship with a Dom. As far as I understand it, she only gets to be played on by him. Sigh.

Now it's Karen's turn. I take the lash, and start giving her some gentle swipes. She's instantly in subspace the moment the first stroke lands.

But there's a reason for that. She's been close to subspace since she came to my place to get dressed for the party. See, I've trussed her up in a Japanese bondage knot called a karada. It's basically a full-torso harness, a bit like a corset, kinda like a fishnet around the entire body. It's tight, and it looks spectacular. She's wearing a skirt and top over it, but nothing else.

For me, knotsmanship is really good fun, and a huge turnon. I was a Boy Scout for three months when I was a kid, and knotting is what I really enjoyed. Still remember everything I learned there. So when I saw a karada in a picture on the web, I just HAD to replicate it.

I thought it would take about an hour to tie it, and I wasn't certain how much rope I'd need. So I bought a few ten metre drops of pure cotton sash cord. Really neat stuff.

Turns out that trussing her only took a few minutes. And was a real turn on for both of us. So we got a little waylaid, and I had to untie her so we could both shower again before the party, and then retie her. Yummy.

The door opens to the demonstration area. All of the perverts file in, along with a few of the Goths, and one drunk oke who looks like he's definitely not at the right party.

"Hey!" shouts the drunk oke. "You gunna have sex or something here? Fuckin hurry up then!"

Nobody shuts him up, and nobody chucks him out. Strike one against the management of this club.

The music is hyper creepy. It's that vicious, bass-voiced numb stuff, the kinda stuff that makes your hair turn in at the roots. And the lights go dimmer. And suddenly three big guys pounce on this skinny, runty guy with a blonde quiff, and they force him to the ground. They drag him kicking and flailing to the table in the middle of the floor, and they strap him down, belly up.

At the same time, the most intensely beautiful pony girl, wearing a full head harness, gets led to a weird bondage platform near the wall. A very large guy wearing seriously ironic bondage gear arrives with a muthafucka of a bullwhip, and lashes her to the apparatus.

He sets a candle up between her legs, and sets himself the silly task of extinguishing the flame by cracking the bullwhip just inches above her leather-clad pussy. Each crack of the whip terrifies the girl, and she shudders grotesquely. But she keeps her feet together, and the candle stays where it was set. That's cos her feet are completely immobile, and she wouldn't be able to move them even if that whip cracked in her crack.

While the leatherman with the shoulder spikes is getting more and more frustrated at not hitting the candle, the dude tied to the table is still writhing. Until a dominatrix appears carrying candles, accompanied by her two acolytes. One is a beefy guy, naked except for a tiny pair of shorts and a pair of 8-inch stiletto shoes. The other is a petite girl with a slight paunch, and a weird flesh coloured stick-on bra and black panties.

The dominatrix mounts the table, and spends a minute or two watching the man squirm beneath her. He looks like Flea from The Red Hot Chili Peppers. She looks like something out of a sex shop catalogue for bondage babes. She leans forward, and with great ceremony and ritual, nails him with a humungous backhand across the side of the head. He instantly falls silent, and she reverses the swing, and nails him on the other side of the face.

By this time, the big guy with the bullwhip is realllllly sweating. And the candle is still alight. He eventually darts up to it, blows it out, laughs, and bows to the audience. He has an assistant, and she looks like she bought her gear at a magician's conference. She could be a Kempton Park version of Siegfried and Roy. Redhead. Huge breasts. Flames painted onto her red boots.

Now that the candle's out, the leatherman and the big redhead untie the pony girl, shift her into a new position, and retie her. He then starts working on her with a smaller whip.

On the table, the dominatrix has just pulled on a latex glove. The guy beneath her is trembling. She gestures for the bloke in the highheels to step forward, and she ties a ball gag into his mouth. She whispers in his ear, and he kneels on the cold, hard floor, hands behind his back. Oh man. That's gotta hurt.

She gestures the girl closer, kisses her firmly, open mouthed, whispers in her ear. The girl steps back, then forward again, this time leaning over the blonde male submissive. She kisses him long, hard, grindingly, and he arches his back to kiss her as passionately.

The dominatrix makes a gesture, and the girl steps back. A razor blade appears. And then the carnage starts. She slowly runs the blade over the man's chest, drawing a gash following the shape of his collar bone. Then the other side. Then she gestures, and the girl brings up a goblet filled with red wine. Which she smears into the wounds, rubbing them so that the blood smears all over his chest.

The drunk straight guy who should have been chucked out starts shouting, "When are you gunna fuck?? Come on! Fuck already!"

And eventually someone asks him to leave, which he does, piloted as he is by an enormous fat guy with ginger hair. The drunk is shouting at the top of his voice all the way, "You're all fucking pussies, man! Boring! When are you gunna fuck!!!???"

But he's got a point. This IS boring. Esoteric and hardcore as it is, essentially, BDSM is NOT a public thing. It's a headspace thing happening in the minds of the participants. Sure, there's a grim fascination in seeing a dude having his chest carved up. But would I wanna do that? Nah. Would anyone wanna watch it? I dunno. As for the whipping folks with the pony girl, she's clearly too petrified to actually have any hardcore flogging going on.

Show's over. We mill out of the room. Someone tells me that the pony girl is actually a professional model, and that she has never had a BDSM encounter in her life before this. Turns out she was supposed to be totally mummified in rope, but that she was freaking out so badly that all they did was light stroking with the whip.

Karen and I decide to leave. But not before I show off my karada. A couple of my new BDSM buddies are here, as well as a dude known to readers of this site as MMM. We go into the performance room, and I tell Karen to take her clothes off. "No," she whispers. I fix my dom stare on her, and she immediately takes off her top. Then her skirt. Totally naked now apart from ten metres of rope webbing, in front of about nine strangers and anyone who cares to enter the room.

MMM looks at the knotting. "Mind if I touch?" he asks. I nod. He starts figuring out the knots. "Wow, man. Awesome," he says.

"I've got another rope here," I say. "I'll show you how to do it."

His girlfriend takes off her clothes, leaving her bra and panties on. And I start the knot, explaining each step, while MMM makes mental notes.

Karen's still standing there, in her karada. When I'm finished with MMM's girlfriend, I ask Karen if she'd like to be untied. "Yes please," she says.

So I unlace her, while everyone watches.

She puts her clothes back on, and we leave.

"Hey!" says a young Gothic chick at the door. "Where'd you get the skirt???"

It's a cargo skirt, with about six pockets dotted all over, ideal for a dude who carries gadgets around with him.

"Truworth's," I say, "about two seasons ago."

"Cool!" she says. "I also do all my shopping at Truworth's. But Truworth's Man." She gets up, and she's wearing a pair of gents trousers. And she's got four little bars threaded through her skin, just above her breasts.

"Jesus!" I say. "Doesn't that hurt?"

"It did," she says. "But it's fine now."

"Can I touch them?" I ask.

She lifts her breasts a little, and I touch the bars, feeling the ridge of skin above the submerged part. Very eerie. "Cool," I say, not entirely knowing whether or not I mean it.

"Your skirt rocks, dude," she says, and I get a minor boner as Karen and I walk to my car.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Cool Runnings, Melville

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

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

A table on the stage, filled with glinting stainless steel implements and latex gloves and disposable hypodermic syringe boxes. It's the last meeting of the BDSM group this year, and the topic is medical fetish.

There's a particularly normal looking dude on the stage telling us all about how to conduct a successful medical play scene. (If you're new to the world of D/s or S&M or BDSM as its variously known, a "play scene" is what you do when you're engaging in BDSM sex. Although, that's not entirely right, cos it doesn't necessarily involve sex.)

He's showing us a catheter. "I have to say this," he says, "before any of you rush out and buy a catheter. You HAVE to be trained to do this properly! Don't do it if you're not trained!!! Okay?" He goes on to explain how the catheter has a little balloon in the tip. "See you stick this down the urethra, into the bladder. Then you inflate the balloon like this." He pumps a little rubber bulb, and the balloon becomes visible. "And now, the catheter can't come out, and your partner has ABSOLUTELY no bladder control. Now if you just clamp it with forceps like this, and put a little padlock over the clamp, you're the one who decides when your partner goes to the toilet."

Sheesh. That would just piss me off.

Then he talks about enemas, and shows us a more menacing apparatus. Also with a balloon on the end. "You can easily fill someone's colon with about two litres of water. For beginners, that's a safe limit. More, and your sub is getting VERY uncomfortable. But if you're experienced in this, you can get up to about four litres. Use cool water if you want your sub to have severe cramps."

"Question," I say. I'm on the side of the room, away from the smokers. My shaven head is glinting in the light of the bare bulb just behind me.

He nods at me, squinting into the stagelight trained on him. All eyes are on me.

"Okay, so you've got four litres of water in your sub's colon, and it's being held in by that little balloon on the end, yeah? What happens to all that water when you want to take the enema OUT?"

There's a moment of silence in the room as people contemplate the question. And then a few people start pissing themselves laughing. And the dude on the stage seems to assume that my particular kink has to do with taking showers in anal matter. He gives me a weak smile, as if to say, hey, whatever turns you on, pal, and says, "The fluid comes OUT with the enema. And if you're in the way, it's coming out all over you."

The laughter spreads to the whole room, and the dude has to raise a speculum to get silence back. And then he shows us how to use a speculum. And there's a type of speculum for the anus as well. Which he opens up menacingly. And then he jabs a needle through a woman's arm, and then another needle, and another. And the informative part of the moot is over.

Now it's schmoozetime.

There is serious babeage in the room. She's got bright red dyed hair. She's Russian. And she's quite possibly the most erotic object I've ever had the pleasure of gagging.

And the reason I have the pleasure of doing that is that Pern, the lady who sells fetish gear, has brought a whole lot of rope for me to make Turks Head ball gags out of, for her to sell. (Buy her high-quality, handmade fetish gear at http://www.pern.co.za. Yummy. Amazing stuff.)

I've just finished making a ball gag, and I want to know from a sub how big it should be, and whether or not the texture is acceptable. Karen cannot have a cloth or rope gag in her mouth. It just freaks out her nervous system. She needs rubber. But both Pern and the Russian are hot for this.

The Russian babe is wearing a restraint harness made by Pern. It's leather. It holds her arms behind her back in a most uncomfortable and compromising position. And it makes her helpless.

"Is it all right with your Dom for me to put this gag in your mouth?" I say to her.

"Please wait till I'm out of the harness," she says.

"Would you like me to help remove the harness?"

"Yes please."

It's an unbelievable piece of gear. Smooth as anything. Buckles in the right places. Adaptable. This is the type of thing that makes me glad I've learned about the side of me that loves bondage. And it's just a treat looking at her pert breasts and tiny waist. I ask Pern how much it costs. "R800," she says.

I hold the gag up, and move it in front of her mouth. "It's against the rules," she says, and takes it from me. She pops it in her mouth.

"Shall I hold it for you?" I say.

She nods. And I tighten the ropes behind her head. And she flinches and closes her eyes, and goes deep into subspace. I hold her like that for a few seconds.

"Ready for me to let go?" I ask.

She nods.

"Wow!" she says, when I release the gag. It's full of spit, and she's panting. "Wow!"

"Why is it against the rules?" I ask.

"Well, it's my rules," she says, her accent thick. "I'm actually terrified of being gagged. Terrified." And she fixes me with a heart-melting, boner-reinforcing coquettish smile.

The Muti Gallery, Milpark

Thursday, November 18, 2004

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

I love having famous friends. Aryan Kaganof is one of them. Guto Bussab is another. And they're both together in one room, tonight, with at least thirty seriously delectable babes. I'd say at least three-quarters of the babes present tonight are prime babeage. And the rest are a very good seven out of ten.

"Jeannette!" I say. Another famous person. She's famous as an expressive dancer. She's wearing a sort of mesh-netting blouse, with a skimpy bra.

"Oooooo!" I say. "Nice breasts!" And I proceed to weigh one in my hand.

"This one's bigger than that one," she says, and cups my hand around her right breast.

"Hmm," I say. "They both feel good to me." I take my hands off her, and adjust my hat. I'm wearing an extremely big floppy-brimmed cloth hat. It's bright red. Made of synthetic material.

Guto is famous cos he's the director and co-producer of a world famous short film. It's called ARIA. I wrote it. And co-produced it. And I'm sure people are going to be asking to see it soon. Seriously soon.

Another thing Guto is famous for is his brand new art gallery. It's called The Muti Gallery, and it's at 44 Stanley Rd, the same address as The Colour Bar. And it's got some unbelievable art up.

And the artist whose work adorns the walls is Aryan Kaganof. Now he's South Africa's least well-known world-famous dude. He made the world's first digital movie, which was an international hit. And he's made about seven feature films, and many documentaries, and he's an award winning filmmaker, and published novelist and poet, and serious maverick. This dude is even more serious about his maverickness than I am about mine.

And his art completely cooks. This oke's hot.

But who cares about art when Jeannette's breasts are in your hand?

"I can do the Argentinian tango," I say, "but badly. I learned a long time ago. And my newly ex-girlfriend Karen is a tango queen, so I learned again, a bit."

"Let's tango," she says.

I bend the brim of the red hat out of my line of sight, slip my glass of Fanta into my cargo pants pocket, and we assume the position. And then we surge through the room, bashing people out of the way as we dance, knocking the fuckers over like dwarfs at a dwarf tossing contest.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Theatre on the Square, Sandton

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

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

It's the launch of the television series I'm directing. Go_Open, on SABC2 every Saturday from 5:30pm. It's only a half hour, and it'll open your eyes and soul to the open source movement.

Ok. So maybe I'm overselling it a bit. But I'm in a hype frame of mind. Cos this is a baby of mine, and it's being revealed to journalists and geeks for the first time.

A waiter bearing a tray of delectables comes round. I take one. "Are there things with chocolate?" I ask.

"They'll be coming later, after the show," he says. I'll have to be patient.

Mark Shuttleworth's hairstyle isn't in the immediate vicinity. Where the heck is he? Ah... must be on a space station somewhere. (He ought to be making an appearance, seeing as he's one of the major sponsors of the show, and he's the most vocal proponent of open source in South Africa.)

The foyer is crowded with people. Only half of them are geeks. The rest are press people. They're probably here because they think they're gonna get a piece of Mr Shuttleworth. He's like Nelson Mandela... everyone wants to touch his hand.

The public address system asks us to take our seats. We've hired the Theatre on the Square cos it's a lovely venue for doing a screening.

All of the beautiful people sidle in. I sit next to Elaine. She's doing research for us, but that's not what she's famous for. She's THE Elaine from the legendary restaurant, "Risky Business" in Melville (long departed, I'm afraid). Rumour has it that she MAY be CONSIDERING opening another restaurant at some point soon. But that's just hearsay. And you heard it first on Coffee-Shop Schmuck, okay?

Next to Elaine is a friend of hers. A delectable 24-year old innocent called Silke. Hmmmmm. I wonder how corruptible she is???

Now that Karen and I are only seeing each other on a contingency basis, I'm back on the dating scene. So my eyes are spread wide at all of the extremely talented looking women in the room.

But all that stops when John Vlismas, South Africa's funniest man, trots onto the stage. He's our anchor-person on the show, and he's into open source, and he's intent on making this audience hip to the fact that open source is the business. "Take me to your server!" he says. Then, "Wan, lan, thank you ma'am!" (Okay... so to find it funny, you've actually gotta BE here.)

He gets us rolling around on the floor for a while, and then the lights dim, and Shuttleworth makes his appearance. We've recorded him, cos he can't actually be here, what with his various commitments to being in space craft here and outta this world. So he wishes us all a good journey. Then our virgin show unfolds on the screen. I'm entranced. It's captivating. Amazing television. This is the best tv I've ever seen. Well... the bits I directed, I mean.

And then it's over, and we're all out in the foyer, schmoozing.

"Excuse me," I say to the waiter. "Uhm... can we have those chocolate things now?"

"Uh, after the savouries," he says, and whips the tray away from my ungrateful fingers.

Several tries later, the room is starting to enter. "Please," I say, "I'm begging you!"

The open source movement is about sharing information. It's about freedom. It's about getting ideas out into the world without killing intellectual property.

He looks around. "Okay," he says, and disappears, only to reappear seconds later with a tray filled with chocolate coated nuts. "Handmade," he says.

Suddenly a whole bunch of people wearing suits come down the stairs carrying computers. They stick out like thumbs that have been slammed repeatedly under a laptop lid. One of those old laptops. With the heavy plastic. Serious damage. They start setting things up. And they're wearing name tags.

"George," I say to one of them, the one with the double-breasted pinstripe, the one whose swagger suggests seniority.

He looks up at me, startled. "George," I say, "wouldn't you guys like to have some sweets?"

He breaks eye contact immediately. We're from the open source movement. He's probably been given instructions by his superiors. "Uh, no, no thanks. Thanks very much, no," he says.

I call the waiter. "Please offer these new people some sweets," I say.

The sweets are all refused. I can see the cogs whirring in their heads. They're looking at the sweets saying, "These CAN'T be free! There's gotta be a catch! We probably get the first one free, and then we've gotta pay a licence fee every year for upgrades and support!"

The guys and girls in the suits are here for a function straight after ours. They are the guys from the main opponent the open source movement has. They are employed by Microsoft.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Mugg & Bean, Cresta

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

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

I don't know what Ané looks like, and she hasn't given me her cellphone number. So I decide the best strategy is to enter the Mugg & Bean at exactly the time we agreed on.

I walk in, looking as artistic as possible, and a tall, pretty woman stands up, smiling hugely.

"Roy!?" she half asks. She's seen my photo, so she has a rough idea of what I look like.

"Ané!" I say, and we shake hands.

Ané shrieks when she sees this pic. "I look ten years older!" But then she also definitely wants a copy. Which she can have, seeing as I'm distributing all my work under a Creative Commons licence.She flips open a little notebook. "You don't mind if I write as we speak?"

I say, "Go for it."

She's a journalist on the Northcliff & Melville Times, and she's interviewing me about my placing as a finalist in the Digirati competition.

I haul out my palmtop computer.

"What are you doing??" she asks, squirming under the focused intensity of my gaze.

"I'm practicing what I preach," I say, drawing her as she interviews me.

When I'm finished, she looks at the piece, and says, "But I look ten years older!"

"Most people say that," I say. I really must try and make people look younger. But it's difficult. Line work almost forces the issue. But hey. I'm not really going only for likeness. I'm hoping that my pics capture other qualities too.

When the interview is over, I ask her where she studied.

She says, "I did my journalism degree at RAU."

"Oh," I say, "did Antoinette lecture you?"

"Antoinette!" she says. "Yes! She's the most beautiful woman I've ever seen!"

"She's an ex-girlfriend of mine."

"Wow!" she says.


Do watch SABC2 this Saturday 20 Nov from 5:30pm to 6pm for the first episode of GO_OPEN, the show I'm co-directing. It's about the Open Source movement, and it's really funky. A magazine show. 13 episodes. -- Blue skies, love, Roy

Monday, November 15, 2004

Pizza Pronto, Sandton

Monday, November 15, 2004

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

Damn!!! I can't play Alistair tonight. He's not able to make it, due to having burned his arm with hot glue somehow. He's supposed to be my opponent at the backgammon club's regular Monday night match.

The reason I'm disappointed is that Alistair is the guy who got me into backgammon, and I'm saving my board for him. I've decided that I want him to do the honours of playing my first match on this board.

Instead, I fall into a chouette game. Chouette is an amazing thing. A whole bunch of players all compete against each other in a very complicated way. It's always for money, and it's very nerve-wracking. I've only played chouette twice, and that was harrowing.

Tonight it's also harrowing, but I know that I played really well yesterday, even though I got beaten. I found out that Leon Markowitz is Cape Town's number two club player. So I'm very chuffed with myself for going the distance with him.

And because I'm in such a good space, I smack the chouette mob for a winning of R220. And I sell my old board to Majid for R200. So I walk away happy.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

La Toscana, Montecasino, Fourways

Sunday, November 14, 2004

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

I've just unzipped at the urinal just outside the venue where we'll be playing backgammon in a few minutes. It's 10 in the morning, and fifty of South Africa's hottest backgammon maniacs have each shelled out fifteen hundred bucks to be here. Except me, of course. I won my way into this tournament. And I've told all my friends. Heather is one of them. And she may be coming to watch me play.

There's a closed toilet door, and one of the players has evidently just launched a submarine or something, judging by the size of the sigh he emits.

I'm finishing peeing when the sigh sounds again, not accompanied by a splash. I flush my urinal, and I'm about to walk out when the sigh comes again. And again. And the rhythm is a little too close for this guy to be pressing out coils.

I listen carefully. Yup. Sure enough, there's some dude behind that closed door with a spit-slicked palm, having a pre-match wank. Jeeez.

I leave the loo, and hang around in the foyer outside for a while, hoping to catch a glimpse of the wanker. Should I play him, it would give me a psychological edge over him. I could slip in a sly reference to his onanism at a crucial point in the match. I could say something like, "So... do you come here often?"

Hmmm. Yummy babe. Long black hair tied up in a tight pony tail. Intense eyes. But with a cough. Spells trouble.As it happens, I forget all about the pig tickler, because a babe has just entered the room. I smile at her. She smiles at me. Grrrrrrrowwwwllll. Is she a player? Is she a moll? I'll have to be patient.

Heather phones. She can't make it. "But good luck!" she says.

Peter's here. Sophia's here. Majid is back from Iran. Virgilio is here. Matt's here. We're in an unholy conglomerate, a cartel. We've decided that this is how we'll operate. Whoever wins any cash takes 75% of the prize, and puts the remainder in a kitty to be shared by all of the players. There are several prizes we can earn, and our backgammon club is definitely in the top third in the country in terms of skill. So we should easily get into the money rounds. Being in a cartel just means we're all really motivated to win, and to support each other in our various matches.

Gerald, a rather loud insurance broker, is the organiser. He has no need for a microphone. "Ladies and gentlemen," he bellows, and the silence falls immediately. "We are about to do the draw." And he starts pulling names from a hat, and matching people with their first opponents. I get a name I've never heard before. I look at my fellow cartel members, and they shrug. They haven't heard of this guy either.

"Two matches to thirteen points each," yells Gerald.

And we're off to meet our opponents. Leon Markowitz turns out to be an elderly chap with a teddy-bear beard and a somewhat gloomy countenance. We shake hands and start playing. And I'm playing like a winner. I could easily walk out with my share of the R60 000 first prize, judging by the way I'm playing.

I've sensed from the way Leon's playing that he's highly experienced, and probably better than me. And I can see how rattled he's getting when I just keep beating him. My strategy is to turn the cube JUST before the right time. I want him to take the cube at awkward points, and I want that to undermine his sense of the game. And it's working. I'm 12--3 ahead to 13 points. It's just a matter of me winning this last game.

And I'm really doing just that. I've got three of his men back, two on the bar. This should be a cinch.

The babe I saw earlier walks up to our table. Looks at the score. "You're not allowed to beat Leon," she says, and she hits me with a dazzling pout. "He's my honorary husband," she says. Which is unlikely. She's around 30, and he's around 75. She goes back to her match. Seriously delicious butt. Nice walk.

"We're in the same club in Cape Town," Leon tells me.

He half-heartedly shakes his dice. Throws. Double five! The only perfecto throw! The only one! He's off the bar, and out, hitting me. I throw, and I can't come on. He throws ANOTHER double!!! I throw, and again, I can't enter. Blammo, he throws yet another double, and, what was a dead-cert for me turns into a defeat. He romps home to win a point.

I correctly drop two cubes in a row, and it's 12--6. Then I accept a cube, and he beats me. Now we're on 12--8. And suddenly, in no time at all, from way behind, Leon beats me 13--12.

I'm already out of the main tournament in my first game. Which is all right, I suppose, cos it means I get to play in the plate tournament. There, the first prize is only R12 000, but it's better than nothing.

I wander over to the babe. Amanda. She's playing pretty well. But she also loses to a miraculous set of dice from her opponent. "Well, at least you and I'll get to play in the plate," I say. She smiles.

Lunch is called, and we head for the buffet. It's all included in the entry, along with unlimited free tea and coffee. I buy Amanda a fruit juice. Which is anything but free. It's R15! Jeeeeeez!!! What a ripoff. But I flinch inwardly. Wouldn't wanna ruin my spadework by complaining about the price now, would I?

Not that I'm actually interested in shagging her, though. For one, she's a smoker. For another, she's got a nasty cough. "That's a nasty cough," I say.

"I just can't shake it," she says. "Flu. Been sick for three weeks."

Okay. Well. Thanks for that, Amanda. I'll take it as a sign from the universe that I should just go home on my own later.

A guy comes around selling raffle tickets for a handstitched leather board. It's worth R3800. There are only 25 tickets being sold, and I buy two, for a hundred bucks each. Maybe I'll win SOMEthing today?

The day progresses, and I play my first match for the plate. It's to seven points, and I get comprehensively spanked by some old Greek guy. He does root canal work on me by smashing out my molars 7--0. Yeeks. So I'm out of the money. Turns out, ALL six of the sinister cabal members have been eliminated. We are NOT in the money. Not any of us. The Cape Town dudes are applying our heads to their armpits and using us as deodorant sticks.

The raffle gets drawn. Who wins? Me! So I'm up on the platform accepting my new board. This is a dream! I can't believe it! What an awesome board!

I stick around to watch Amanda get to the final of the plate. She's playing for a first prize of R12000, and a second prize of R5500.

Her opponent is one of the hottest players in the country. And she refuses a settlement. He gets viciously angry with her, and spends the rest of the match swearing at her under his breath with every throw of the dice. Now if you know backgammon, you know that this behaviour is simply not on. He's way outta line. He throws his dice, and says, "I can't fuckin' believe this bitch. I OFFERED her a settlement. There's NO way she'll beat me. FUCK!" And he moves his pieces.

He ends up beating her 13--2. Only at the end does he smile at her and congratulate her. But it's fleeting. He immediately stands up and says, in a sotto voce mutter, "I had to sit through all this shit to win. Why didn't she just take the settlement?" And he stalks off to collect his winnings.

"Well," says Amanda, her ferocious eyelashes clashing against each other, "I was here to play backgammon, not to accept settlements."

"Well played," I say, and I shake her hand.

I take one last look around the room trying to spot the wanker. But they're all wankers, if you ask me.

I go home. Alone. But with my brand new, handstitched, 21 inch leather board.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Piatto, Cresta

Friday, November 12, 2004

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

Riaan is a hot hot hot editor. Unbelievably hard worker, but also a serously intelligent cutter. I love working with editors like him. My ideal is to co-create stuff with artistically enable collaborators. And he's that. I've worked with editors in the past who are just technicians who push the buttons the way you tell them to. Most frustrating. Thank goodness for Riaan.Finished work at seven tonight. It's been my editing week, and we're a week away from launching the show. Go_Open is alive and kicking, and the effort is definitely paying off! Riaan is my editor, and he's pulling unbelievable hours. He gets to work at 7 every morning, and leaves around midnight.

Brad, our senior researcher, is with me. He's keen on a heart-to-heart chat about babeage. See, he's got a bit of an issue that's cropped up. He's studying computer geekistry at Rhodes University, and he's an uber geek deluxe. Highest order. But he's met this babe in Joburg, and she's just as much of an uber geek as he is. She speaks Linux. She programs. They understand each other.

And they... uh... uhm... well, let's just say they have compatible motherboards.

Well, we chat, and I impart my infinite wisdom to him. My take on the matter is that he doesn't have to marry her quite yet, and he's still got a while to go on the project, so he'll be in Joburg for quite a while, and he should learn as much as he can about life and the universe, and then make decisions later.

But the reality is that Brad actually doesn't really need my advice. The dude's an advanced soul, and he knows where he's headed in life. So we cut the "older wise dude giving advice to young puppy" routine, and just enjoy supper. Which is passable.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Pizza Pronto, Sandton

Monday, November 08, 2004

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

It's a special backgammon tournament tonight. We've got 14 people each paying a hundred bucks to slaughter each other in order to win entry into a major tournament this Sunday at Montecasino. It costs R1500 to enter the big one, and many of us wouldn't have been entering cos the price is too steep. This way, whoever wins has only laid out a hundred bucks, and stands a chance of picking up the first prize of R65 000.

Peter calls for attention. "We need a neutral party to do the draw," he says.

A delectable blonde, a backgammon groupie I've never seen before, attached to a new player I've never seen before, assumes the position. In the first round, I'm playing against Tony Lelliot, and Matt Ryder. I don't fancy my chances against Matt, and Tony beat me last time I played him. But hey.

I'm in a highly concentrated mood. I've had five hours of sleep the night before. And I'm keen to get as far as I can. I WANT to play at Montecasino.

First up is me against Tony. Flick flack flug. I destroy him, 7 points to 2. He goes to the toilet. Matt sits down. Vavavooooooom. I kill him, 7 points to 2.

So now I have to wait for the others to catch up so I can find out who I'm playing in the semi finals. Eventually, after having long chats with Matt about literature and the craft of being a writer, Clifford Camberg emerges as my opponent. I narrowly lost to him a few months ago, and because of that, he made it into the A-division, and I stayed in the B-division. So I have an axe to grind.

I offer Clifford an early cube from a marginal position. It's a bit of a cocky play, and I'm really just pissing out my territory, making him wonder what my game plan is. He spots an opportunity a few rolls later, and turns the cube to four, and offers it to me. I ponder, and take. A minute or so later, I see an obvious drop, and I decide to cash, by offering him the cube on eight. If he drops, I win four points in a seven point match, taking me to 4--0.

We've got some assembled spectators, and they're collectively not breathing. It's extremely bad form for a spectator to even hint at what players should do next. So everyone's practicing poker faces so that Clifford won't know what they think he should do.

I can't believe the dude! He takes the cube!

He's in a clear losing position, and now, we're both playing for match. Whoever wins, takes eight points and goes to the finals.

Badabing babash.

I beat Clifford 7--0.

Now it's a matter of me waiting for Sophia and Renee to finish their match. It started off quite easy for Sophia, when she leapt ahead to 5--1. But then Renee gritted her teeth, and soon, it was 6--6. In the final game, Sophia, in a clear winning position, lost to a few bad throws of her own, and a few extremely good throws from Renee.

So I'm playing Renee, and I'm quite happy about that. She's easier for me to beat than Sophia. And anyway, I'm working with Sophia right now. She's my producer in this tv gig I'm directing. So it would be bad form to beat her, wouldn't it?

So Renee and I start.

"Are you still trying to set your cousin up with a boyfriend?" I ask.

For the final, we're playing to eleven points. I lose the first game, cos she offers me the cube and I drop.

"She's still single," says Renee. "But Roy, I don't know if you're her type. Her last boyfriend was an investment banker."

"That's okay," I say. "I've got a current account."

I win the second. Lose the third. I'm 1--2 down. Then I win a few in a row, and suddenly I'm 8--2 up.

"But you're not allowed to beat me," she says. "If you want her number, you know what to do."

We're in what turns out to be the last game. She gives the cube to me for some obscure reason. So I'm sitting with the cube on 2. If I win a normal game, it puts me at 10--2, which is a Crawford game. This means that noone's allowed to turn the cube in the next game. If I win a gammon, that's a double game, and I take the match, 11--2. If I lose, it puts me at either 8--2 or 8--4, depending on whether I lose a normal or double game. But I'm not losing. I'm winning.

So, crazily, I make a series of blunders. It's almost 12:30, post midnight, and those five hours of sleep I got last night have faded to nothing. I'm tired. And I've got a hard day of editing tomorrow. Which is the only way I can explain the blunders.

But it's okay. I kinda recover from the blunders, and I'm still ahead in the race by about two throws of the dice. So I'm okay. If I just keep my cool, and don't do anything stupid, I'll win my two points, and will have only one game left to win, to get entry into the Montecasino money game.

Instead, I lose my cool, and in a moment of aggressive hard-on cock-rock backgammon, I do the insane thing of turning the cube to four, and offering it to Renee.

Now this has serious implications. If she does the correct thing, and immediately turns the cube back to eight, suddenly, I'm fighting for my life. If I accept the cube on eight, and she wins, it goes to 10--8 in her favour. Suddenly she'd be ahead of me! And I'd be fighting to catch up.

But luckily, it's 12:30 post midnight, and she's just as tired as I am. So she forgets to return the cube!!! An unbelievable error! Even worse than my own error!!!

So we play on. And we're in a tight race. And I blunder taking off with a double-three throw, which puts me marginally behind in the race. But still, somehow, I survive.

I win the game, and win the match.

So, on Sunday, I'm playing at Montecasino, looking to beat 60 other people to sixty-five grand!

Renee says, "Now I don't know if I can give you my cousin's phone number."

Sunday, November 07, 2004

NEWSFLASH -- "Search Terms" page added

One of the free web stats tracking houses I use offers me the option of seeing how people found their way to my pages. It shows me the URLs of the referring page.

These are often search engines, and the URLs contain the actual search strings used to find the particular page. I basically trawl those strings out and pop them into the search terms page I've just created. I'll be updating it periodically.

All of these terms somehow led to my site. ALL of them. And boy, are there some esoteric search strings in this bunch.

It's entertaining to me. I hope you get a few laughs out of it.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Europa, Rosebank Mall

Friday, November 05, 2004

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

It's eleven o'clock at night. I've just finished work. And I'm starved. Sleep-starved and food-starved. Sleep I'll have to get after my Tra Venezia, a tuna mayo tramezzini.

Man. Do I neeeeed to eat?

Work's been really rewarding. My crew and I have been doing really creative stuff to show how the Open Source Movement makes a difference in peoples' lives. I'm digging it. But heck, the hours are hardcore.

My food arrives, and I scoff it down. Yummy yummy in my tummy.

I ponder on an achievement for the week. Last night I wasn't able to be at the awards ceremony of a digital art competition I entered. Turns out I didn't win it. But I was one of the eighteen finalists. Yay!!!!! Fame at last! You can see a pared-down online version of the winners and finalists at www.newchannel.co.za.

I'm too tired to leave my seat, so I whip out my palmtop and start playing with a piece of doodle-animation software called Flip-It. It allows me to draw a frame-by-frame animation. Crude, but fun.

The sequence I'm creating starts with a green pepper sitting in the middle of a desolate landscape. As I move around the pepper, it slowly grows a lump at the top, which opens up to be an eye. The eye winks, and then the pepper returns to its own form.

And I've made a breakthrough -- I'm now able to drink coffee without sugar, which will be good news to Alistair, a coffee-aficionado friend of mine. And this decaff cappuccino is particularly enjoyable.

I'm just putting the finishing touches on my animation sequence when Jarred pops into view. He's Jacqui's best friend, and we used to watch DVDs at his place every Sunday night when we were together. Sigh. Makes me miss Jacqui.

"What are you up to?" he asks. He's with a serious babe friend whose name I miss.

I show them my animation, and they both marvel at it.

"How's work treating you guys?" I ask.

He and Jacqui are both partners in the same IT company. "We're very very busy," he says. "Poor Jacqui. Every time we get a new project, she gets busier."

So it's late late late at night, and I'm tired. And I'm missing Jacqui. And I'm missing Karen. And I missed seeing my digital art placing as a finalist last night. And I think I'd better go home and sleep. Cos I'm working on Sunday too.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Europa, Rosebank Mall

Sunday, October 31, 2004

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

Damon's back from his unbelievably long shoot in Richards Bay. He was a featured extra in a British mini-series. Got paid obscene amounts of money, and didn't really have to learn too many lines. All he had to do was make sure his side-burns remained intact over the entire period.

"Great that you're back!" I say.

Europa in Rosebank is a reliable place to thwart the hunger-shakes I've got. I haven't eaten anything except a few pieces of handmade English toffee since breakfast. That's because I've been battling time all day to get my artworks moved into the Craft Market I'm now part of. I've been framing my prints since Friday night.

But the really hard work was coming up with a coding system so that I can track sales of individual prints. Not an easy task, seeing as the till system they use at the Market only allows me three alpha numeric symbols to work with.

I've opted for an all-alpha system, which gives me around 20 000 unique codes. And I had to generate the damn codes manually. Excel doesn't have a function that will automatically increment AAA to AAB to AAC all the way up to ZZZ. (Yes, in excess of 20 000 of these.)

And then making a stock list so that they can enter my codes into their computer.

I tell Damon about my satisfaction about getting my art out into the world.

"And work?" he asks.

My directing gig. "It's turning into a very very hardcore gig very very quickly. We're a bit under-resourced. I've had to campaign really hard to get us a logger to come on shoots with us."

A logger is an essential piece of equipment. It's a person with a brain who writes down the tape number, and the timecode on the tape for every significant bit of action. Ideally, the logger also writes the first few words of each concept associated with those bits of action. So, a logger's output might look like this: "00:21:13:00 -- Marc: How would you say open source has benefited your company?" Followed by "00:21: 36:00 -- Heather: Well, it's all free, isn't it?"

The reason the logger is essential is that editing becomes a fairly straightforward affair. Right now, I have to search through tens of hours of tape to find shots that are by now only a distant memory. This adds dozens of hours to a one-week editing schedule.

We're now WAY behind in editing. (It was my week in the edit suite. Tomorrow I start shooting again for a week. 8:15 call time. Too early for my nervous system, really. But hey.)

Damon just nods sagely. He's totally familiar with everything I'm talking about, being a seasoned veteran himself.

In production, unless there are literally bucket-loads of money, everything is ALWAYS under-resourced. In our case, our wonderful production person, Ronelle, has managed to get us two students to work for free. Yay!!!! One will be coming on the shoot with me, and the other will be logging the backlog of tapes in the office.

My Tra Firenze appears just as Damon has to go. He's helping Wendy set up her sound system tonight. She's performing for her sister's birthday party. The tramezzini is delicious. Mince with peppers. Delicious. Hits the spot.

"Before I go," says Damon, "how's the relationship scene?"

"Well, as you know, Karen and I have broken up. But we're still seeing each other for sex."

"Oh man, Roy," says Damon. "That's so wrong! How do you get away with it??? How on earth did you manage to wangle that???"

"There are advantages to being a good dom," I say.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Cool Runnings, Melville

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

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

We're in the dungeon at Cool Runnings. Yes. It's ACTUALLY called the dungeon. Which is appropriate, cos this is the monthly meeting of a bondage and discipline group. It used to take place at Merlin's Pub a block and a half up the road, but that place is being sold, so Burning Lash, our alpha dom, has negotiated a new space.

Tonight's topic is tattooing. Shani is the guest speaker, and she's set up a computer showing some of her proudest tats.

I'm here with Karen. Yes, it's true that we're no longer a couple. But we've agreed that we'll be seeing each other "extramurally". And it's working very nicely. Now that we're not doing coupledom, there's no pressure to fall in love or anything mushy. Which makes things very pleasant. Especially when she's on my bed and I bring out the chains. Chains are our friend. We love chains.

The talk starts, and Shani is clearly heavily passionate about tattooing. "People ALWAYS ask me, 'Does it hurt?' And I always tell them, 'HELLLLLL YESSSSSS!' But then I also tell them that it's a good pain."

Several of the submissives in the audience start giggling, and their doms give them affectionate pats on the head. I give Karen an affectionate hard tug on the hair. "Hmmmmm!" she says.

When question and answer time comes up, one of the doms asks, "What's the MOST painful place to tattoo someone?"

Shani points to the top of her head. "That's bad," she says. "But a lot of people say the base of the spine is really hectic."

"Ah, cool," says the dom. "Base of the spine it is then!"

I say, "Is there any way to make the tattoo hurt even more?"

Shani just rolls her eyes at me.

Just then, there's a weird drunken chuckle from the back of the room. It's in shadows, so it takes a while to notice that we've got visitors. A trio of very smoked-up rasta guys. They've slipped in through the back door, and they're now getting heavily entertained by these odd people. My bum is lifting off my chair to help get rid of them when Burning Lash steps up to the plate.

"This is a private function, I'm afraid," he says. And it's clear he's afraid of nothing. "So you guys must leave."

One of them says, feebly, "Oh, sorry, man, hey, like, we didn't, like, know, hey? Cool brother? One love." And they leave.

Shani tells us about ultra-violet tattoo ink. "Invisible under normal light," she says, "but amazing under ultra-violet light. A bitch to work with though, cos you've got to do the tattoo in the dark."

Burning Lash exclaims, "Bar codes!!!" Several of the doms echo him. From his enthusiasm, and from his rushing up to Shani at the end to get her business cards, it's very clear that his slave may very well have his ownership barcode drilled into her skull sometime very soon.

While we're milling around, someone whips out a handmade flogger. It's basically a stick with a dozen or so light leather thongs attached to it. A bit like a cat o' nine tails, but without the embedded bits of lead. Buring Lash orders his slave to bend over, and he gives it a test. It swishes like a martial arts move, and connects like twenty thunderclaps.

I've never used one before, so I'm curious. I watch his technique, and when he's finished, I ask if I can try it. He hands it to me, and Karen bends over without needing to be ordered. I give her a couple of hard strokes, and find it a little bit puny. "How was that?" I ask her.

"Very light. But you got me warmed up a bit there at the end."

She's spending the night at my place tonight. Looks like we're both a bit warmed up.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Pizza Pronto, Sandton

Monday, October 25, 2004

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

Tonight I'm doing battle against the mighty Tony Lelliot.

"What are you doing for coffee now that your Ethiopian supply has dried up?" I ask. Tony's a coffee aficionado, and a buddy of his was based in Ethiopia for a while.

"Oh, I just buy stuff at ridiculously high prices," he says.

We set up the backgammon board, and I start pounding him with heavy artillery. I take a convincing lead early on, and it looks like tonight's gonna be a cinch for me. I spot an opportunity to shed some blood. Tony's blood. I offer him the cube. He takes. A few quick blows later and he's got five blots on the bar! That's FIVE! Count 'em!!! Viva! I smash him down, and beat him not with a gammon (which is a double game), but by a backgammon -- a triple game. That's six points.

This is Adeline, my buddy Charl's girlfriend. They've actually agreed to get married to each other after several years of blissful cohabitation."Hey, Peter!" I shout. "Do you want my ten bucks now?" Anyone who beats someone by a backgammon in our club has to pay ten rand into a kitty. At the end of the year, all of the winners in the kitty draw to win the full amount. Winning a triple game is non-trivial. It takes balls of steel and a certain amount of foolish play to pull it off.

I'm gloating deluxe when suddenly Tony sits back in his chair, concentrates, then rubs his fingers up and down his moustache. "Right," he says, and starts flinging dice across the board. Suddenly my 14--4 lead starts narrowing. Suddenly we're at 16--15 to me. I stay just ahead, but Tony's playing fearsome backgammon.

My phone rings. It's an international call. "Tony, do you mind if I take this?"

"No problem," he says, and rubs his moustache again.

"Hi," I say to the phone, "this is Roy."

"Hi, Roy," says an American voice on the other end of the line. It's one of the people we're interviewing for Go_Open, the tv show I'm co-directing. He chuckles, "Are you deposing me?"

I'm a bit baffled, but I assume he's being playful, so I laugh with him and ask him what he means.

"Well," he says, "the video link-up centre you're asking me to go to? Well, it's a deposition centre, and I can't go to a deposition centre. It's just not possible for me."

I have no idea what he's talking about. A deposition centre??? This is so weird. "Uh..." I say, "I'm not sure why that's a bad thing."

"Well, how do I know you guys aren't working for S.C.O.?"

The way I hear him, over a muffled international cellphone connection, I hear some weird US government agency acronym. What he's ACTUALLY referring to is a company that's systematically suing huge corporations who use Linux, claiming that Linux has a piece of code in its kernel that they own, and that they want royalties from. So because I mis-hear him, I make a complete fool of myself by saying, "Working for S.C.O.? I don't even know what that IS?"

"You don't know what S.C.O. is???" he says. "You're doing a show on open source! I think you'd better do your research."

Oh man. This conversation is tanking fast.

He says, "Well, whatever, how do I know you're not working for them?"

I've twigged by this point what he's talking about, but there's no graceful way out.

I tell him that we've done a video link-up with Richard Stallman.

"Did Richard Stallman go down to a deposition centre for his link?" he asks. "I don't think so."

I explain how this video conferencing thing works. "There's a South African video conferencing company we outsource to," I say, "and they find a venue closest to the person we're interviewing. We have no idea what type of facility it is. I has no idea that we were sending you to a deposition centre." (And frankly, even if I'd known, I wouldn't have guessed in a million years that it would be quite such a hectic place to go to.)

"Yeah, yeah," he says. "Anything can be explained away."

This guy genuinely thinks that some two-bit television production company in South Africa is trying to trap him into saying something on camera that could ruin his career. I dunno. If I WERE working for some major conspiracy, I'm sure I would know my mark a bit better, and I'm absolutely certain I wouldn't have attempted to get him to do his video conference link-up in a place that would scare him. If I were a conspiracy dude, I'd probably try and lull him somehow. Sheesh. I dunno.

"Well," I say, "how do we get around this?"

"Well," he says, "why don't we just use the video link-up system at my office?"

WHAT??? This is just not believable. Who has a video link-up facility in their own goddamn office??? If we'd known this from the beginning, there'd have been no problems at all.

I end the conversation by letting him know that he won't be forced to do the link-up at the deposition centre, that our researcher will send him the list of questions we intend asking, and that our production manager will sort out how to do the link-up at his office.

I go back to the backgammon board.

My supper has finally arrived. I ordered the tuna salad. This is simply one of the worst salads I've encountered. It's basically dollops of mayo with about a third of a tin of tuna splayed over it, on a bed of lettuce, with some cherry tomatoes and onion. Ugh!

Tony plays like an S.C.O. agent... aggressively, mercilessly, and with vast amounts of money backing him. He beats me 21--20.

I guess I'd better wake up and smell his Ethiopian coffee.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Lonely Oaks Lodge, Polokwane (was Pietersberg)

Monday, October 18, 2004

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

Brand, our camera-person. He shaves his head, and normally wears a fez, specifically to keep his head warm in winter. But probably also to cause a bit of mischief.Brand has decided not to eat. "Not hungry," he says. "I'll see you guys in the morning." It's about eight o'clock, and even though I've just taken a shower, I'm hot and sticky. Polokwane is a very hot city. Brand leaves, and Refiloe and I are left alone at the table.

I'm acutely aware of the number of moustaches in this place. And they're all twitching at this white guy with this black babe. "You should have seen the looks we got when Brand and I arrived in here," says Refiloe.

Brand is our camera person. He's somewhere in his fifties, and he shaves his head, and he kinda looks like he could be Refiloe's guardian uncle.

We've just been shooting stories at the HP i-Community Centre in the nearby township. It's an unbelievably awesome project to bring sustainable development into the area. When the program I'm working on goes to air on 20 November, you'll be able to see the fruits of our labour. The show happens on Saturday afternoons, from 5:30pm till 6pm, on SABC2, and it's called GO_OPEN. It's about open source technology and the open source movement.

Rhameez phones. "Hey, Roy," he says, "I'm just gonna chill. See you in the morning."

Which leaves me and Refiloe to have a long discussion over supper about racism and white men and black women and affirmative action and anti-semitism. I make the thesis that even though I'm not black, and even though I haven't grown up with apartheid, I tasted a little of it growing up Jewish in Germiston in the seventies.

I recall having a fight almost every single day of my life during primary school, with people calling me "Jewboy" and stuff like that. (Of course, my memory is exaggerating things a tad. Couldn't have been DAILY fights. But that's how I'm recalling it.)

I clearly recall my ex-best-friend at the time, Gayton, and his buddy, Sascha, trying to force me to go into a Lutheran church one day on our way back from school. I punched them both and ran all the way home in terror. And never spoke to Gayton every again.

"Yeah," says Refiloe, "but you don't know the EXTENT of it!"

"That's true," I say, "I don't. But I know a tiny bit."

"Have you ever had a black girlfriend?" she demands.

"No," I say.

"Proof!" she says.

This is Karen. Alas, we've just broken up, due to us not reallllllllly connecting. Sigh. She's just as tired of dating as I am, so we're both a tad bemused by all this."Of what?" I say. "All it proves is that I've not had the opportunity to fall in love with a black woman."

We decide to can this conversation. It's just getting heated, and there are no real answers anyway.

The food arrives, and that shuts us up. I've been very specific about ordering a half portion of the oxtail stew. A three-legged potjie arrives. That's mine. "No!" I say, "I asked for the half portion!"

Sharon, our waitress, says, "I know. This IS the half portion."

"Are you sure there hasn't been a mistake?"

"You should SEE our full portion," she says.

I'd rather not.

What I AM glad about is this. First thing this morning when I woke up, while Rhameez was showering, I phoned Ronelle, our production manager. "Hello Ronelle," I said.

She said, "What's WRONG????"

"Oh," I said, "nothing much. Apart from this terrrrrrrrible place we stayed in. I've spoken to Brand and Rhameez, and there's no way we're staying here tonight. We've gotta have separate rooms. And not here."

"Okay," she says. "I'll work on it."

The reason we were sharing in the first place is that this is quite a low budget shoot we're doing. We kinda figured that we should save money on the luxuries. But I can tell you this... next time you're planning a shoot, make SURE that your people have separate rooms. You CANNOT work with people all day and then still share accommodation. It's just too much. No down time.

As we were driving into town this morning, Rhameez spotted a sign. "Hey! I've stayed there before," he says. "It's not great, but at least it's got separate rooms."

I phone Ronelle. "There's a place Rhameez has stayed at," I say. "It's called 'Lonely Oaks'. He says it's okay. And it should be a similar price."

She phones back and says, "You're booked in there tonight. No sharing."

Refiloe and I say goodnight. "Let's just watch our backs on the way out of here," I say. Those moustaches are bristling. This is white-might territory. "Can I walk you to your room?"

"I'll sms you when I'm safe and sound," she says.

The sms arrives two minutes later, and I don't have to worry about being a Jewboy here in the heart of the great racial divide.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Monate Rest Camp, Polokwane (was Pietersberg)

Sunday, October 17, 2004

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

I'm in Limpopo province. Brand is our camera person. He's camping in the lounge, due to privacy issues. He needs his space. Rhameez is our sound dude, and second unit camera bloke when needed. He and I are sharing a room. I'm the director on this particular shoot.

This means we've got one non-practising half-Jew (me), one non-practising Muslim (Rhameez), and one non-practising Christian all under one roof. An unholy trinity, if you ask me.

Refiloe, our presenter, has her own chalet.

"Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!" she screams. Brand is out the door first, seeing as he's in the lounge.

"What's happening?" he asks.

This is the welcome sign on the front gate of the Monate Rest Camp. To the right, in the background, can be seen a small prefabricated hut. It's one of the showhouses next to the church. This guy probably tries to sell these things to his congregants!"Yuck! Yuckkk! Yucckkkkkk!!!" says Refiloe. "There are creatures in my room!" Refiloe is a creature who single-handedly pushes the babe count up from zero to off the scale.

'Hey," I say, "no need to panic. It's just a picture." See, there are pictures of wildlife on the walls. And there's a mat on the floor with a leopard woven into it.

"NO!" she says, "It's a frog or something!!!!!"

Brand gingerly goes into her chalet. "Yup. One frog," he says. And he shoos it out.

"Let's pray for it," I say.

See, it's easy to pray for things here at the Monate Rest Camp. Because there's a church on the premises. Yep.

And it's not just any old church. It's a prefabricated church. Built by the owner of the rest camp. Who has also built every single one of the chalets. And they're all prefabricated too. See, the owner happens to have a company that builds and sells prefabricated dwellings.

But wait, there's more... the owner also happens to be the pastor at the church.

We sort out Refiloe's creature issues, and we get into our prefabricated dwelling. This one is the medium-sized dwelling in the catalogue. Which means that with the single bed crammed into the lounge, there's JUST enough space to charge the camera batteries there. And in the bedroom Rhameez and I are sharing, there's a quarter metre between the two single beds. And it's hot. And there is no netting over the windows. And the mosquitoes have been praying for this day. In the church. On the premises.

It's going to take me a good four hours to fall asleep here. That's because the linen is that horrendous half-nylon stuff. And my skin doesn't react well to it. Ugh. What's more, I'm thinking about supper at the Spur in town, and the excellent service given us by the lovely Rinda. And I'm thinking about Karen and me breaking up on Tuesday night. And I'm thinking about Jacqui. And I'm really just wishing I was back in my bed at home. Alone.