Archive for March, 2011

MultiChoice give very little choice – but not scared to charge

Multichoice v Very little choice

Multichoice v Very little choice

Some aver-God directs our lives (it is written?), but permits us choices …  correct and incorrect.  That’s far more than offered by Multichoice.

As a DSTV package subscriber it’s a case of having to eat my veggies if I want my dessert … no compromise.

I happen to like watching sport (not ESPN), the crime channel, National Geographic, poker and BBC entertainment.

Yes, of course I can have those; oh goody!

But there is a catch.

To enter my couch potato utopia I also have at my fingertips myriad “musts” such as a Muslim channel, the entire Portuguese network,  umpteen children’s animated cartoon channels, a cacophony of hip-hop, rock and worse, and about 12 self-appointed guru chefs.

To these add Phileas Fogg type travellers beckoning me to exotic unreachable spots, wearying after a few hours and in any case so expensive they are accessible to only a privileged few.

Do I really anticipate the joys of watching six varieties of boring bourses or the news in Urdu or Hindi, Turkish or Greek? Are basketball, gridiron football, horse racing or motor- cross, snow boarding, skiing or inflatable boat racing, pots of gold at the bottom of my DSTV remote?

I think not.

I find “mulltichoice” to be nothing of the sort. Would you frequent a pizza parlour if your hard-earned dough was destined for “the specialty of the house”; take it or leave it? Yes, I can have salami and pineapple, but I must take olives, garlic, feta and anchovies. When I query this imposition I am told “but, you have a choice…”

Am I really alone in wondering how Multichoice have got it so wrong and gotten away with it? Do the two million subscribers about who they regularly boast truly accept their lot without a bleat, or sheepishly grin and baa it?

How many more might join their empire if there truly was choice? Who knows? I’ll leave it to Frank Sinatra, who cooed: “All or nothing at all…”

And to add insult to injury, they break contractual agreements with impunity and have become expensive; they could tailor viewers’ needs and save time, money and exasperation.

A letter arrived telling me the cost of the bouquet (containing so much material I do not seek) to which I must subscribe to enjoy what I really want to watch is to be raised almost 20% without so much of a choice (oops sorry, there it is again…).

Choice is such a precious commodity; a God-given right, no less?

In the case of Multichoice I feel a bit of an oxy-moron!

Twitterati party at La Mouette

I attended a Twitterati party at La Mouette in Sea Point on Sunday. A party organised via twitter by Mari Vermaak, one half of the husband/wife team that owns the restaurant.

This is a great venue; a big old house with a lovely courtyard that has a cooling fountain as its centre piece. Those that remember the ‘old’ Sea Point will know this as the home to Europa restaurant for many years. It has changed hands a few times since Europa closed but seems to have found the right tenants again and reviews have been excellent – not having been there before, it was a good opportunity to try it out.

Wild Flour

Sweet treats from Wild Flour

For R100 we got some sparkling on arrival, a wine-tasting, courtesy of Villiera, a chance to taste chef, Henry Vigar’s excellent food, some sweet stuff from Wild Flour and a gift from Willow Creek to take home. Good value and a nice day out, although I sometimes wonder if people who spend too much time on Twitter forget that interpersonal skills are still important and its o.k. to interact face to face even if you haven’t met on twitter.

Me and my PIA (partner in action), enjoyed our champers on arrival, found a table in the corner, there was on average 50 tweeps there at any one time, and enjoyed the venue and people watching. We decided to open the wine tasting, much to the delight of owner, Mari, and, on returning to our seats were happy to discover that food was doing the rounds. Happy – except the waitresses either couldn’t see us, or didn’t want to, and we kept getting a miss. Being pretty hungry we watched this for a while, fully expecting them to eventually bring us some of the yummy (well at that stage they looked yummy) snacks. After the fourth different sample was served to all and sundry except us, I decided to inform a waitress or two that we were also there and wouldn’t mind something to eat.

There were three waitresses. Waitress A – the pretty, young thing who “used to be a professional dancer” and now uses her poise to serve food with some style, although she informed us she was serving another section.

I approached waitress B about maybe serving us some food, she gave me the blank, vacant stare, often commonplace with reluctant waitresses and continued to ignore us. I also approached waitress C about perhaps serving us some food. Waitress C falls into the, ‘I’m too old for this kind of shit so please don’t ask me anything’ category. I did and for the remainder of our time there she shot us more dirty looks than those Christian bible thumpers at the Gay Pride rally on Saturday.

The owner did come round to our table to apologize, make sure all was alright and that we got enough food. We did, but I thought the “high fives” she insisted me and PIA gave her was a bit much.

That aside, the food was great, we ate plenty, and we will return to sample more of the Chef’s tasty offerings. The wines were good too and irony of ironies, this confirmed beer and whiskey drinker, won a lucky draw prize and took home three bottles of the good stuff – thanks Villiera. That, together with the Willow Creek olive oil and vinegar they gave away, made for a good and fun day out – sulky waitresses aside. High Five!

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Drivel on the box; A South African phenomenon?

South Africans, as are Australians, are sports mad. The biggest difference here at home, it seems, is demographic lines are etched more finely than Down Under.

In Australia, rugby, cricket, tennis, Aussie Rules, hockey, swimming, athletics, bowls, cycling and anything international are fervently followed by a seemingly endless eclectic procession of fans … and from a national population of only 21 million.

Sometimes it seems as if all of Australia from Darwin to Perth is either glued to a TV set, or attending something live.

In South Africa, the population of 49 million is choosier. Blacks prefer soccer, everyone rugby, whites watch golf, surfing, off-road and off-beach racing, some bowls, cycling, tennis and swimming, coloureds love rugby, soccer, horse racing, motor racing and bike racing; the lines do overlap, but are far more clearly defined than Down Under.

That is why commentating on sport, especially on television, becomes so vital. A need to offer expert, clear background and intelligent commentary, not on what everyone can see, but the implications, nuances, historical probabilities and statistics.

Alas, while in Australia, except for a couple of exasperating commentators, Channel 9 Sport is slick, smart and its staff totally professional, viewing at home and especially on SuperSport, is largely a nightmare.

Perhaps too many are rushed before the cameras? Week after week they provide banal, boring, and repetitive monologues. Their biggest problem is they cannot differentiate between radio commentary and TV descriptions. The transgressors fail to realise that viewers, thanks to superb camera teams, are able to actually see what is happening; they do not want the obvious pushed down their throats.  Does no one train the staff; not in their sports, but in TV commentary technique?

Some expert commentators, love the sound of their own voices (cricket non-stop gabblers Mike Haysman, Ian Healy) others (alas, even Pom Mbangwa and Hugh Bladen) ask and answer questions themselves, leaving their interviewees without anything to say; clichés abound as feeble attempts are made to inject excitement.

Do perpetrators ever listen to what they have said? Does anyone tell them, or is the majority of those watching satisfied either with mediocrity or simply do not know better?

Good commentators provide insight and allow viewers to espouse their own judgment.

Greats such as Aussie, Ritchie Benaud (watching, waiting, whack), Britain’s golf whiz, Peter Allis (“he’ll find David Attenborough in there,” after an errant shot went into the woods); former England cricketer Robin Jackman (stand and deliver, smack);

The following are a few of the excruciating drivel to which viewers are subjected:

  • “…It’s been raining, so it’s wet underfoot…”
  • “… Another single past the bowler…”
  • “… By putting them in, they hope to get some quick wickets…”
  • “…He’s hit that like a tracer bullet…”
  • “…He’ll cut or hook anything short and wide…”
  • “…It’s a dead, dry pitch, with some live grass rolled in…”
  • “…More for Mr Extras…”
  • “…After the downpour the bunker sand will be wet…”
  • “…That’s not what he was expecting before he arrived here…”
  • “…He’s volleyed that home on the full…”
  • “…They converse in Afrikaans so no one can understand them…”
  • “…Do you think you can beat Roger?”
  • “… He’s really hit that, it’s gone high in the air…”
  • “…That’s gone all the way to the boundary for four runs…”
  • “…Both teams are desperate to win this one…”
  • “…Yes, he’s called heads, it is a head, not a tail, so he has won…”

And many more … perhaps you might like to tell us your pet hates?