New Unbalanced

I’m a t-shirt, trainers and jeans kinda guy. In fact, throughout winter, you’ll find me in little else, save for socks. Undergarments are a given, obviously – it’s just too dangerous for a bloke of my dimensions not to.
In the summer, I’m more of a t-shirt, flops and shorts kinda guy, but this isn’t a post about summer.

The jeans are invariably Levis, because they’re the only ones long enough. The t-shirts are invariably one of Puma, Nike or Adidas and the trainers have been New Balance since I can remember.
I can like to be a creature of habit.

My latest pair of takkies – as they are called out here – are New Balance 606 Trail Running shoes.

New Balance 606 – I have 2 of them

Of course, I haven’t run any trails in them – they might get dirty. Oh, and because I might get dead.
Why?
Because while it quite clearly states “All Terrain” on them upon a silhouetted image of a mountain, they make me look like Bambi on ice as soon as the relative humidity rises above 8%. They’re bloody lethal.

Looking at the sole, one could quite easily believe that they would grip anything, anytime. And indeed, they will – as long as it’s not wet. I can only imagine that they were road-tested in the Sahara.
Sadly, we are still in the throes of an extremely damp Cape Town winter, which has made walking about town dangerous for me, yet somewhat amusing for passers-by whose only concern is avoiding the several hundred invisible ball-bearings that I am struggling with. 

I will think long and hard before buying another pair of New Balance “All Terrain” trainers.
Assuming, that is, I live long enough to wear these ones out.

Missing “home”…

If there is one thing I miss about living in the UK more than any other, it is the music. While SA has it’s fair share of decent bands and artists (and I’ve mentioned them more than once or twice on here), the music scene just doesn’t compare to the UK. I love to find new bands by chance and then follow them up and listen to see if what I heard was a one off or a representative sample of their work. I can’t do that here.

Feeling particularly musically needy today, I did a bit of an update on a few of my favourite bands. This evening, having got my free download of The Escapist by The Streets, I flicked onto the Radio One homepage and took the opportunity to listen live to Zane Lowe‘s show for a short while. Not because I’m a huge fan of Zane Lowe, but because that was who was on when I was listening so it would have been difficult to listen live to anyone else. He was playing a song called CCTV by The Last Republic. A song which sums up exactly what I mean when I say that I’m missing out. Awesome stuff.

You won’t find TLR on iTunes. However, having looked them up on MySpace – and in one of those ironic moments that show that if there is a higher power, then he’s busy sticking his middle finger up at me – if you’re in Cardiff this evening, you will find them at Cardiff Barfly, supporting Saffa band, The Parlotones.

The only other bit of UK/SA news today was England winning the fourth test at The Oval. Have you noticed that I only mention the cricket when England win? This has had the effect of passively convincing all my american readers that England are the best cricket team in the world.

Which they are, obviously.

One World, One Dream

Yesterday, I watched the Olympic Games opening ceremony along with 2,999,999,999 others. Not all in my lounge, obviously; that would have been a squash and a squeeze.
Anyway, it was fairly impressive stuff. Lots of flashy lights, a myriad of people running about in unison, a few people in weird costumes, some people attached to wires which made it look a bit like they were flying if you ignored the wires and so on. Oh, and some fireworks.


Attention!

So obviously very different from every other opening ceremony for a big sporting event. Right.

What was different about Beijing 2008’s opening night was the fact that it cost (according to the SABC’s coverage, anyway) about $75m (US) to stage. Which made me wonder how exactly it adhered to the One World, One Dream motto of this particular Olympiad. Kevin Mitchell sums it up nicely:

This opening of the 29th Olympic Games was an orchestrated marriage of superstition and military precision on a scale only a one-party state could deliver with such confidence. It was a show not so much riveting because of its artistic merit (which was considerable) but the self-conscious reaching for grandeur that has become the Olympic movement’s parodic symbol of excess.

And the official Beijing 2008 site states:

“One World One Dream” fully reflects the essence and the universal values of the Olympic spirit – Unity, Friendship, Progress, Harmony, Participation and Dream. It expresses the common wishes of people all over the world, inspired by the Olympic ideals, to strive for a bright future of Mankind.

While I’m all for the Olympics and their ideals – though I recognise that they are very rarely seen outside the couple of weeks of competition every four years – I would imagine that a large chunk of the world’s population would probably have different universal values. Like Food, Shelter, Housing and Safety, for example. Ironically, I would also guess that most of this group were the ones who weren’t able to watch yesterday.
This “Other World” doesn’t fit for the Beijing Olympics though; it’s ugly and awkward to deal with while they’re splashing out millions on fancy fireworks and Sarah Brightman. And so, like so much else, it is being swept under the carpet and conveniently ignored for the next two weeks.

Sick of poor decisions

“Where are you?” queried the emails.
“What’s going on?”
“What must we do?”

Such is the awesome and addictive power of 6000 miles…that when I was struck down – pretty heavily struck down, too – by a particularly nasty illness this last week, desperation set in for some readers.

But it’s ok. I’m back. And I’ve got lots that I want to write about. Although I haven’t been able to get near a computer to actually document my thoughts, I’ve been having plenty of them. Some of the more interesting ones were sadly only accessible while my temperature was in the low 40’s.
Thus, I can only remember odd bits of them. Bits that involve parrots.
I told you they were odd.

While I was away on my journey to Virusville,  South Africa beat England in a unusually interesting Test match in Birmingham. Through glazed eyes (via the disappointingly weak interweb surfing capabilities of my aging cellphone), I read and agreed with Brian Micklethwait’s take on Michael Vaughan’s resignation as England captain following that game.

How thin are the threads that these things hang by!  In England’s second innings the day before yesterday, Vaughan was looking good, until he got himself out with a silly shot.  And yesterday, South Africa’s captain Smith would have been given out, caught off the glove off Panesar, if “Hotspot” the latest analytical gizmo – it shows where balls strike by photoing heat rather than light), had been helping the umpires instead of only helping the commentators to make idiots of the umpires.  Smith was then on about 70.  He went on to make 150 not out and win the game for his team.  England might well have won if that decision gone their way, and if England had won, Vaughan would not now be stepping down.  He might have made some runs in the final test against South Africa, and gone on to lead England in the Ashes next summer. As it is…

Yet another dodgy decision with massive implications. And yes, I know that referees and umpires are only human and these things happen, but with professional sport being what it is these days, isn’t it time that the technology which is available is applied so that careers aren’t ended and millions of pounds aren’t lost simply because of the actions of of an inept official?

So now we have a South African with a South African name captaining the England cricket team and a South African with an English name captaining the South African cricket team. And, if the papers are to be believed, they hate each other. Ooh – the drama.


A couple of tossers with a coin

I like this photo from the BBC News website. Pietersen looks like he’s missing a pint pot and is looking in completely the wrong direction. Smith looks like he’s missing a brain and is looking directly at the money.
Which sums them both up nicely, I think.

EDIT: more (slightly surprising) opinion and a nice pic of Newlands here.

Welcome back!

What with one thing and another, I haven’t been able to turn out for my football team – at least not in a playing capacity – for over three months. So, it was with some trepidation and a level of fitness one might expect of an average American teenager that I made my return in for the black and white wizzzzaaaaaaards in the shadow of the World Cup stadium in Green Point last night.

It was a beautiful evening; as I headed towards the hallowed turf I snapped a quick shot of the sun sinking into the South Atlantic – all was well with the world.

Sunset
Hellish scenes on the way to footy

Then I shook hands with the captain of the opposing team (made up of staff from a local Investment Management company) shared a joke with him and the ref and got on with the game.

It quickly became apparent that the current volatility in the world’s stock markets was causing the opposition no end of irritation. Since grievous bodily harm is generally frowned upon in the offices of such organisations, it was perhaps no surprise that they decided to take out their combined frustrations on the 7-a-side team of punchbags which had been set out in front of them. Within 90 seconds of the kick off, the same team captain who had been laughing and joking a moment earlier had mutated into the evil bastard son of Vinnie Jones and Beelzebub himself. As I fended him off at a corner, I found his studs high on my inner thigh, where they left an interesting and somewhat painful runic marking*.

Owch.
Studs up

I looked to the referee for some sign of action. To be honest, I’d expect to see more sympathy in the eyes of a suicide bomber. Fortunately, being from Yorkshire, I’m not one to fling myself Porra-style to the floor each time someone comes near me, which was just as well as I soon realised that the “Ass.” in “Investec Ass. Management” probably stood for “Assault”.

Meh – I survived. But I was hoping for a more gentle re-introduction to the beautiful game.
Next week, we face a team of lawyers. I can hardly wait.

* 24 hours on, these markings are outlined with a spectacular array of purple and deep blue. Beautiful. Magnificent. Bloody sore.