The ship in the Heineken ad

The final?
Tonight is the final of the Champignon’s League, and I’m going to stick my neck out and say that the trophy will be heading back to Madrid. Astute? Yep. That’s me.

The ad?
This UCL final will will also mark the end of the Heineken ad which has been plaguing entertaining us since last September.
You know the one. Where the rag-tag motley crew of sailors that raid the contents of their cargo to rig up a technologically-unlikely solution to enable them to watch the footy from the middle of the sea.

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And here’s the story behind the making of the ad.

We all had to cram in tiny cabins all day long, fighting gasoline smells and seasickness.

Oh dear. But could you watch the football?

The ship?
It’s called the Jules Edgar in the ad, but it actually turns out to be the Hilmi K – a Turkish general cargo vessel:

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According to MarineTraffic, the crew of the Hilmi K will be watching the final in port in Istanbul, so no need to jemmy open the containers and find an implausibly large magnifying porthole and a selection of smart dinner attire.

Oh, and the music?
That would be (then 18 year old) Rita Pavone‘s 1963 hit Viva La Pappa Col Pomodoro. The video is arguably better than anything Heineken gave us.

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Goodness. Such footwork.
Reminds me of CR7.

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Crapft beer

I know I’m going to be in trouble for this one. And I fully recognise that I will be ridiculed for being horrendously uncool (again), but someone has got to say it, and it looks like no-one else will dare to can be bothered.

Craft beer is overrated. MASSIVELY overrated.

What started out as a fight back against the big breweries and produced some really lovely beers, became a huge movement – fuelled by hipsters and society’s sad need to be seen being achingly trendy – is now past its sell by date. We were out at the Devil’s Peak Brewery last night, and while I’m certainly not suggesting that they are any more at fault than anyone else (and while we had a wonderful evening) the beer was crapft.

The food was really good. Feisty chilli poppers and excellent burgers.

But when people – beer drinking men – are choosing to leave their beer because it tastes so awful, rather than finish it before ordering something else, well, you’ve got a problem.

The issue here for me (and let me be clear: others agreed last night), is that the craft beer market is now saturated. It has been for a while. And in order to find a niche in a very busy space, crapft beer people have all gone a bit bonkers. They are brewing with weird hops from Bolivia, Moldova and the Antarctic. They are adding wild and wonderful ingredients to their brews in order to make them different: oranges, cloves, honey, wood from wine barrels, port, jack russells, mangoes – the list goes on. And yes, it makes your beer taste different, it makes it taste wholly individual.
But it also makes it taste like kak. The object can like to be defeated.

Let me be very clear here, crapft brewers. There is absolutely no need for any further forays into experimentation.
Our longing for something simple like a Black Label or (perish the thought) a Castle Lite draught, expressed while we were in the HQ – the flagship establishment – of one of the biggest names in crapft brewing in the country clearly indicates that this has all gone too far now and actually got a bit silly.

And you can argue that this falls into Uber Cash and Halal Hot Cross Bun territory. It only affects me if I allow it to. I can simply continue with my mainstream beer drinking and allow others to endure enjoy the latest crapft beer. And yes, you’re right. I’m just disappointed that something that started so well and with good intentions has clearly gone right off the rails.

Am I concerned that crapft beer will push SAB and the like out of the SA market? No. Because – much like the Noakes diet, owning a sodding beagle, and gluten intolerance – crapft beer is merely a fad for the rich to enjoy.
It’s just that if the current trends continue, they’re going to have to put on a bigger and bigger act to pretend that they actually are enjoying it.

ADDENDUM: The Tall Accountant (for he was also present last evening) has requested that I add that the prices for the crapft beer last night were overly reasonable, being of the order of R22 for a half measure of crapft beer and somewhere around R32 for a full 500ml measure of crapft beer. This I am happy to do.

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Uber cash experiment begins

Uber are using SA as a Guinea pig. Quite why they don’t use Guinea as a Guinea pig is slightly beyond me, but still, SA it is. The experiment in question is whether cash payments for your Uber ride is a good/viable alternative to the “traditional” credit card.

South Africa becomes the first country in Uber’s global network to experiment with cash payments across five cities simultaneously and was selected because of its low credit and cheque card penetration.

Indeed. Apparently, cash makes up 65% of all transactions in SA, and while Uber says:

Uber riders in South Africa already have access to a reliable, convenient transportation; paying by cash just means more South Africans can enjoy this.

What they obviously also mean is that more people can use Uber and therefore increase their profit margins. But there’s nothing wrong with that – it’s how business works. In fact, it’s quite nice that for once the customer gets something out of it as well.

So, with the rest of the world moving away from cash as a payment form, I was interested to learn that Uber thought that this was a big enough deal to try this experiment. While the 65% figure above suggests that it makes sense, how many of the individuals who are making those cash transactions actually have a smartphone (which is still required for an Uber account/booking)? Smartphone penetration is “over 45%” in SA, and I would have thought that debit/credit card ownership (there are over 50 million cards currently in circulation in SA) would have covered most of that 45% already. Also, I’d reckon that the majority of people who don’t have a card wouldn’t live in urban areas anyway.
Urban areas are where Uber operates. Urban areas and Port Elizabeth.
In short, I’m surprised that Uber feel that a lack of a cash payment option was the rate limiting factor here.

Not everyone will have the cash option just yet. It’s being rolled out, and once you get it (I have, although I’ll probably never ever use it) you’ll see this screen upon opening your Uber app.

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And yes, of course, you can still choose a cashless option, so, much like your hot cross buns being Halal, this shouldn’t really negatively affect you at all. *ahem*

As for safety, with Uber drivers carrying cash now, will they become more of a target for thieves, skollies and skelm? Hopefully not, say Uber:

While it is unlikely that driver-partners will be carrying a large amount of cash, they will be able to deposit cash, at any time, into various FNB ATM’s across South Africa. We have also encouraged them to do regular deposits and keep as little cash on them as possible (by using their cash to pay for fuel and supplies).

Which is sensible. And it should be remembered that “regular” taxis carry money around all the time and we’re not hearing reports of them being mugged 24/7.

Well, no more than anyone else, anyway.

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Snowy Russian Graveyard

But not for people; for old Soviet stuff.

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Herewith the photography of Danila Tkachenko, which is engaging firstly because of its subject matter and the context thereof:

Tkachenko sees the Soviet Union’s aspirations and failures, and a rejection of the pursuit of political and technological utopias. “My project is a metaphor for post-technology apocalypse,” he says.

I would say that a lot of my photography is simply a reaction to pseudo-Marxist predispositions noting the currency of revolutionary recognition, together with the symbiotic link between national liberation and social emancipation. Or, at other times, because I think a flower looks pretty.

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Secondly, I found this line interesting:

After identifying a location, Tkachenko would wait for fog or snow before shooting with a Mamiya 7. He favoured a small aperture and long exposure to create a dreamy, otherworldly feel.

You can do lots of things with exposure time and aperture size if you’re a good enough photographer (no, not me). But even that skill wouldn’t work were it not for the prevailing weather conditions. The combined results are stunning – depicting an monochromatic oxymoron of futuristic relics, lost somewhere in the clouds.

You can see the other 31 photos in the project here.

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Dutch balloons

This shot of some hot air balloons over the Netherlands impressed me.

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It’s a brilliant example of how less can be more. It’s hugely effective as an image despite the fact that there’s actually hardly anything in it. Fantastic use of negative space.

I’m not brave enough to do stuff like this. Except by accident.

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