29 February 2012

Owl: A Must See

The last time I was in a theatre, I was working the fly gallery for a hometown production of Neverland. So, on Saturday, when we decided to head down to the Intimate Theatre to see a one-woman show called Owl, I had no idea what to expect.

It's a story told from the perspective of a 10-year old, Owl (Briony Horwitz), who moves to Overberg with her dad after her mother passes away. Owl perfectly incapsulates the alien feeling of being uprooted from your comfort zone and having to endure vast change, while also introducing themes such as self-discovery, making friends and falling in love. Jon Keevy's writing and Briony Horwitz's acting - although the play is clearly not intended as a comedy - manages to lend a sense of light-hearted innocence to the performance, often ushering a choked laugh or two from the captivated audience. 

Using only Fiona du Plooy's choreography and battered old couch on wheels as a prop, Briony manages to arrest attention and successfully bring to life a simple story about a troubled youth trying to do the right thing. I highly recommend it to everyone. 

Owl is showing at the Intimate Theatre in Cape Town until Friday 2nd March, after which it will be showing in Grahamstown. Booking details can be found here.

23 February 2012

5 iPad Music Apps That Will Make Your Life Cooler

If you're a musician looking to improve your life somewhat, or just up your productivity levels, why not take a gander at this naxt level iPad appery. 'What devilry is this!' you ask? Well, only the greatest iPad music applications to ever grace your multi-touch display. Go on, be amazed.

SoundCloud [Free App]There’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t have the SoundCloud app. It’s free, it’s good, and if you like music (who doesn’t like music?!) it’s a great way to discover new artists, both local and international. Also, it has a handy recording feature that backs up the audio even if you aren’t connected to the Internet. This means that you could – for example – record a sound clip during band practice, store it on the app until you’re in a Wi-Fi zone, and upload it to your account once you have an Internet connection. Read more about the SoundCloud app in my previous post about it.

  • Record sounds on-the-go and share to SoundCloud, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Foursquare 
  • Connect with Facebook and easily find and follow your Facebook friends on SoundCloud 
  • Listen to, like and comment on any of your sounds in the Stream, see comments and likes in Activity 
  • Browse and search user profiles, and see your followers and followings 
  • Record a sound now and upload later 
  • Background playback

SoundHound [Free App]This app will change your life. Ever heard a song and thought ‘what song is that?’ and then spent the next few hours trying to Google search lyrics that you think you might’ve heard? Well this app’s purpose is to sniff down songs you love and provide all available information on them. It even works if you hum a tune into it, and you don’t even need perfect pitch control. Not only does it find your sought after song, it also supplies you with YouTube videos, lyrics, cover versions and more – plus, it links to the iTunes store so you can actually legally purchase the songs you find. Oh, and did I mention it’s free?

  • The world's fastest music recognition: name tunes playing from a speaker in as little as four seconds. Now with unlimited usage!
  • The world's only viable singing and humming recognition
  • LiveLyrics: see Lyrics in time with the music for music recognition and your iPod songs: you can even double tap a line of lyrics to play it!
  • An incredible built-in player with lyrics and artist info for your iPod songs
  • An included iPad app with beautiful, full-size lyrics and YouTube pages

ReBirth [$14.99] – ReBirth is one of the best-made apps I’ve seen yet. Just like it’s PC/Mac cousins, Reason, Rebirth, Record etc, ReBirth for iPad offers a simple platform to create the music you want to hear. Now, at first, it may seem a little jarring, but there are really only four parts of the main interface to understand. The two Roland TB-303 synthesizers, a Roland TR-808 drum machine, and a Roland TR-909 Rhythm Composer. Once you’ve mastered these four devices you’re on your way to music making freedom. This app costs a hefty $14.99, but is well worth every cent.

  • 2 x TB-303 Bassline Synthesizer with pattern sequencer
  • TR-808 Drum machine
  • TR-909 Drum machine
  • Tempo-synced digital delay
  • Compressor with threshold and ratio
  • Distortion unit with amount and shape
  • PCF effect
  • Mixer
  • Mod support
  • Social Sharing features

Bebot [Free App] – Not only is Bebot a powerful synth, featuring the most adorable robot in the world of apps, it’s also been used live onstage by well-known names such as Dream Theater, The Flaming Lips and How To Destroy Angels. Not half bad. I personally love the Looper preset that enables you to create a loop of Bebot synth sounds and add to it in every cycle, in real time. However, all preset patches are fully customisable, and you can also create and save your own. This app costs a meager $1.99; whether you wait until it becomes free or buy it right this instant, I know you’ll love it.

  • Four different synthesis modes
  • Juicy analog-sounding filters 
  • Effects and overdrive distortion, 
  • Wide range of sounds 
  • High degree of control via the multi-touch screen

GarageBand [$4.99] You should know about GarageBand already. If you don’t, go look it up. It’s only the default entry-level audio studio for Mac. Record your sounds on the go with a wide range of iNtruments, or use your real guitar to record through famous amps and get the sound you’ve been dreaming of since watching that Led Zepp DVD with your dad. Sample your own voice, create loops; the opportunities are most bountiful. And for only $4.99, it’s not going to blow a hole in your wallet.

  • Perform on dozens of musical instruments on the innovative Multi-Touch keyboard
  • Tap out beats from the seat of acoustic and electronic drum kits
  • Recreate legendary guitar rigs with 9 amps and 10 stompbox effects 
  • Record your voice using the built-in microphone, and apply fun sound effects 
  • Use the Sampler to create an instrument from sounds you record, then play them on a keyboard 
  • Tap chords to instantly create keyboard grooves with the Smart Keyboard
  • Strum chords on acoustic and electric Smart Guitars, or trigger fingerpicking patterns for popular chords 
  • Groove with an onscreen electric or upright Smart Bass by tapping on chords
  • Drag drum instruments onto a grid to create your own beats with the Smart Drums

S4-DRUM [Free App]This app is super simple but very fun to use. I find drum apps are usually pretty shitty when it comes to touch accuracy and sensitivity, but S4-DRUM gets it very right. Choose between 5 kits and jam to your favorite tracks or with a friend via Bluetooth. S4 can also use this app in conjunction with ReBirth by syncing them via WIST (Wireless Sync-Start Technology) enabling you to jam around in a live environment. This app is free, so I expect you to already have downloaded it.

  • 5 drum kits Play with music stored on your iPad
  • Adjust individual drum volume with the mixer

So get downloading! If you have these apps already, leave your opinions in the comment section below.

22 February 2012

Illustrated Guide For Game Of Thrones

I'm on my second run through of Game of Thrones at the moment. I'm trying to get it all in before the second season airs on 1st April. I'm not sure about you, but sometimes, remembering who's who and who's killing who and who's having incestuous sex with who can get pretty confusing. This diagram might help and -- BONUS -- it's spoiler free. Enjoy.

Click to view original size.

21 February 2012

How To Pun Like A Pro

If you follow me on Twitter, you will have noticed that I'm quite a sucker for good puns. I always try to be as original as possible (as in, making a joke using the contents of my brain as apposed to the contents of the first Google result for the key phrase 'funny tweets') but every now and then I happen across something that simply must be shared. This is one of those times. These guys are professional punsmen. Go ahead and click on this picture to view it full-size.

15 February 2012

6 Things To Do On A MetroRail Train Ride

I’ve wanted to write this blog post for a while now. For those of you who are familiar with the comfort and convenience (and smell) of taking a MetroRail train, this will strike a particular chord within your poor, poor soul. Without further ado:

1. Beggar Chicken: Although not strictly an activity for when you’re on the train, this game can be a lot of fun while on your way to the station. And when I say ‘a lot of fun’, I mean extremely infuriating.

Observe the following diagram:

Game Rules:
Try make it inside the station and to your platform without being approached by a beggar. If you manage to make it inside without a single encounter, bonus points to you. If you give in and hand out your money, you lose. Hard.

Here are a few tips to help you master the game – NAY, art – of beggar dodging. 
  • Don’t make eye contact.
  • Don’t carry anything that may lead the beggar army to think you possess money on your body i.e. Keep your phone hidden, don’t carry a bag, avoid shoes.
  • If possible, rip all of your clothes before attempting to cross the courtyard.
  • Be invisible. 

2. Buy Socks: Cape Town station is, without a doubt, the leading socks retailer in the country - with over a thousand hawkers offering the finest wears for your inner shoe needs. At just under R2.00 a pair, buying socks at the station will leave you with just enough money in your wallet to afford the industrial cleaner you’ll require to ensure you don’t pick up any bacterial/viral/fungal infections.

3. Platform Hopping: Whether you like it or not, if you take the train to or from Cape Town, sooner or later you’re going to take part in a game of Platform Hopping. This game – misleadingly named – is kind of like a hybrid of the 100-meter sprint and shopping during the Christmas season.

Game Rules:
At any stage during your train station experience, the intercom at the station is liable to change your regular train to depart from another platform. When this happens, you must run as fast as you can – without being trampled – to the corresponding platform in time to NOT get cut in half by the automated doors.

They say prevention is the best cure. Or do they? I can’t remember. Anyway, try to anticipate the platform hop before it becomes apparent to your fellow racers. Look for signs like your regular train’s lights being off. Take note of whether or not the driver is in his station. These are usually sure signs that your regular train is fucked, and that MetroRail are planning a last minute Platform Hop Match.
  • Wear running shoes.
  • Run directly behind the slightly larger women in order to increase aerodynamics – but remember to veer off before reaching your target. You might end up having to sit next to/under them once on the train.
4. Sleep: Sleeping is – by far – the most popular on-train activity. This may be due to a number of reasons. Maybe it’s the steady rhythm of the tracks underneath your feet that puts your brain into a natural groove and incites vivid dreams of street crime and Nik Naks.

Note: picture may appear better than reality.
You may think ‘I’ve been doing the sleep thing my entire life – I don’t need tips on how to doze’ but you are WRONG. You need these tips. 
  • Train yourself to awaken at every stop, even if it’s only a half open eye to see where you are. Trust me, waking up to find yourself in Wellington Station at 21:00 is not fun.
  • Sleep with an iron grip on your belongings. Bitches be stealing.
  • Wear sunglasses so other passengers can’t tell if you’re awake or not. This is useful to deter potential criminals. 

5. Troll: When on the train, you’ll experience a number of occasions that are pure trolling gold. A good example is the overly religious preacher that frequents the train in the early mornings. This guy loves Jesus, but he loves shouting about it even more. And I don’t know about you, but 7am is not exactly ideal for being on the receiving end of a screaming preacher. Get your troll on.

6. Play Train Drums: This is an activity I engage in quite often. Because the train creates a steady rhythm as it moves between stations, it lends itself out as the perfect jamming buddy. Try incorporating syncopated grooves with the train’s constant ‘chug ku-chung’ variation. For the advanced Train Drummers, try a different rhythm at every successive station. This will greatly improve your endurance and creativity – as well as piss off your entire carriage.

At the end of the day, what matters is that you reach your destination on time and in one piece. Coincidentally, when this does happen, it’s usually the end of the day already. But having fun is contagious; spread this post with your train friends and let's all make light of the extremely half-assed public transportation service we endure on a daily basis.

Got any train games of your own? Leave them in the comments section below and I’ll include them in the next edition.

This Is Us In 60 Years

This is a hilarious video to promote Social Media Week (13-17 Feb). It's basically us in 60 years, and includes gems such as 'My friend Lisa shared everything she was eating. Like, who cares? It's a f**king donut.' and 'In those days we could get away with anything. I built an app that did absolutely nothing.' Radness, watch it!

13 February 2012

La La La Love Rush!

Saturday at the MFM Love Rush went down a treat. Apart from some concern as to whether the weather would turn greyscale and moist, the event was enjoyed by all who attended.

A big thank you to the sponsors and all involved who helped plan the Love Rush; Clickatell, MFM, Cow Africa, Zorgvliet Estate and all the local Stellenbosch businesses who loaned out their venues to make way for the 14+ love-crazed couples who took part in the race. Below are some snaps I took of the picnic event at the finish line with LA.VI and Mister & Misread.

10 February 2012

The Most Awesome Thing You'll See Today

OK Go, who are known for their innovative music videos, have done it yet again. Partnering up with Chevi, the band set up over 1000 instruments over two miles of desert outside Los Angeles. The lead singer took a few stunt driving courses... and... well you really just need to watch the video for yourself. Enjoy.

Ey? EY? Happy Friday.

07 February 2012

Up The Creek Memories

All the people that made Up The Creek so awesome. Also a big shout out to the Cows from Cow Africa, The Bacardi Bat, Converse, BOS Ice Tea and all those involved with organising such a rad festival. Thanks to Fury Pretorius for the snaps.

Amped for next year.

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