Friday, December 31, 2010

Best Bands of 2010

My music collection continued to grow by leaps and bounds through 2010... OK not really but here are some of my favourite albums thus far:


The South African band with a big sound reminiscent of Hendrix. Their performances are equally electrical live and their brassy Jozi style has garnered them many followers.

2.) 340ml

The Mozambican quartet that has now become a staple on the Southern African circuit. Their jazzy elcleticism makes for easy listening with some danceable numbers thrown in for good measure - like the early UB40. And no I am not obsessed with Mozambique!

3.) The Black Keys

And from the US we have the blues duo The Black Keys. This is a nice albums for sunday afternoon chilling,

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Favourite Things: Old Maputo

Time Tunnel, Maputo, Mozambique

Late Christmas Present.

Here's some Old Hollywood glamour (read hotness) to brighten up your day - Paul Newman, the original Don Draper!

You can catch his smoldering stare as on 'Cat On a Hot Tin Roof' that airs often on TCM.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Christmas for me has always been a standard affair. A trip to Cucu's and Neil Diamond wafting through my parent's house -it's been the same tape since I was a little tyke-

Despite coming from a relatively secular family, this season is a reflection and perhaps a thanksgiving for all the blessings of the year 2010 especially when everything could have easily gone horribly wrong. 

To all my (very few) readers, merry Christmas and a happy new year.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Favourite Things: Tom Ford

Tom Ford is many things; fashion designer, style icon, sex icon (some might say) and now a successful movie director who brought us this years most critically acclaimed film (based on a novel).

A Single Man: For those with high brow inclinations and also for those who want to gape at Tom Ford's neurotic obsession with perfection, in a phrase - visually mind-numbing.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Favourite Things: Dada Masilo

Outside Kenya or rather in the more developed world dance is seen as an art form as complex and intricate as opera, classical music and even drama. South Africa is no exception. During this years National Arts Festival I was glad (giddy is more apt) to see that Dada Masilo, South Africa's most daring and controversial choreographer was bringing her latest work to the festival - Peter Iiyich Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake. I had previously seen her sultry interpretation of Carmen the previous year and was exited to see what she would bring this year and boy did she bring it!

Of note was the fact that all the dancer, even the males wore tutus. One of the principal female roles was played by a man (in a tutu), a humorous crash coure in ballet (that shall haunt me forever) and the unabashed Africa aesthetic that is now iconic to her work. One scene was even titled Lobola which is widely translated in Southern Africa as bride price. Masilo's work is undoubtedly cheeky even coquettish but as Swan Lake came to its catastrophic climax (in a scene titled Swanicide) the whole dance took on a grave and ethereal feel that transcended space and feeling. No doubt many people came out with strong opinions of the piece like all good art should.

Despite the strong homosexual undertones (I liked it even more because of it) I liked Masilo's addictive perfectionism and the fluidity of the movements. The R30 I payed for a students ticket almost seemed criminal - I would gladly have payed more...

Favourite Things: Photography

Two of my favourite Blogers today are avid photographers. The frist a renown South African photographer (and dare I say artist) Andrew Brauteseche who authors the blog Guy With Camera and the second is Mutua Matheka of Mutua Matheka. I fell in love with Andrews quaint and nostalgic prints early this ear but Mutua's more experimental works frequently feature among my ever-changing desktop backgrounds. In fact many of my friends are converts and Mutua faithfully releases new backgrounds every Monday. Below are a few of my favourite shots taken throughout my travels this year. Unlike the professionals I use a pedestrian Sony Cybershot.

The Masonic, Grahamstown, South Africa

Of High Street, Grahamstown, South Africa

Eye over the Free State, Free State, South Africa

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Favourite Things: Mad Men

The Fourth Season of Mad Men aired this year and once again we the audience were plunged headlong into the stifling world of 1960s advertising. This year among other things, we saw Don cry which flet like seeing my own father cry, absolutely gut-wrenching and touching at the same time. Don also started his own agency to mixed results and the 1960s swept us buy in cloud of smoke. Of intrest was the role of the show's women in the Cock Fest that was advertising back then. Peggy and Joan put up with a lot of bs this season.

As we gear up for the 5th Season, it has been announced that Season 6 will be the final season of the show. Much like other critically acclaimed shows (Lost and The Sopranos come to mind) seems a good place to stop. Meanwhile The Simpson ploughs on through its 23rd Season telling us it is possible to ruin a pretty solid formular for success.

Favourite Things: Skins

Skins is one of those shows like the Sopranos that you know are bad for you but you can't help yourself. The British drama now famous for its unabashed portrayal of Youth in Excess is now gearing up for it's 5th season. The show is also famous for changing up its cast every two seasons keeping the story lines fresh and perhaps a tad realistic,something their saccarine American counterparts (ahem One Tree Hill) can learn from. The show is also renown for the its large ensemble of young amateur writers which reinforces its relevance and Pop culture credentials.

Since I first watched skins I've seen the kids, for they are real kids, battle drugs, depression, homosexuality. drugs, sex, death and abortion with real human passion and feeling. Problems are not quickly solved with a text to Gossip Girl nor are petty rumours and that new dress integral to the show's plot. All in all, a good effort though the constant profanity and delinquency raise the PG rating of skins way above the PG-13 of most teenage dramedies. Plus the show has a cool indie Brit soundtrack.

Generation 1: The pioneer cast from Season 1 & 2.

Generation 2: The Cast from Season 3 & 4

On a sad note, an American remake of the show is in the offing. Needless to say it will be bland and tastelessly adapted for American television.

Favourite Things: Lost, The Final Season.

It's been 6 years, dozens of episodes and scores of arguments on philosophy and the Dharma Initiative but this year we said goodbye to one of the most enigmatica and iconic shows on television. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Kwani? LitFest 2010

In case you didn't know the Kwani? Literary Festival is on this week. The festivities kicked of yesterday at the secluded Kifaru Gardens, Lavington. I dragged a friend of mine there and what a lovely afternoon it was. Speakers included Micere Mugo, Marjorie Oludhe as well as performances by a suprisingly dashing Mukoma wa Ngugi and Binyavanga Wainaina. The event was not complete without Atemi's husky sweetness wafting deletable carols across a cool Nairobi evening. The full programme, which ends on Saturday can be accessed here. Also on show yesterday was a slightly embarrassing and barely heated exchange between an inebriated Tony Mochama and Wambui Mwangi which got a bit to personal and for me, quite funny. All in all a day well spent in intellectual immersion. 

In an aside, I spotted the great and benevolent Ngugi wa Thiong'o in the audience and nearly passed out!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Favourite Things: Buena Vista Social Club

Undoubtedly one of the greatest albums ever made, and one of those Cuban gems that are so nostalgic and sentimental you can't help not liking it. The handful of songs in achingly poetic spanish and the afro-spanish guitar riffs that speak of a melodeous fusion of culture and history. I say buy it now, it's brilliant!

Favourite Things: The Road

The Road was the first McCarthy novel I read a couple of years ago when it first came out. I was amazed and astounded by the books themes and McCarthy's voice, the simple narrative that had a god-like, almost biblical conviction. More recently I decided to write an academic paper trying to uncover the underlying themes that made this book of loss, post-apocalyptic societal decay and the strengths of the human will. In ten full readings and numerous other references, I examined closely and critically the images of darkness and light, the Christian myths and allusions, the parallels between the books protagonists and the story of Christ were almost uncanny but not in a way that seemed contrived or convoluted. By the end I should have hated the book, deconstructing the words and squeezing out the meaning, like watching the Special Features of a movie and finding out that the special effects were not that special and the actors merely human. Instead I loved the book even more and had a quite respect for McCarthy as this is a work of a genius, timeless and ever so relevant Once there were brook trout in the streams in the mountains. You could see them standing in the amber current where the white edges of their fins wimpled softly in the flow. They smelled of moss in your hand. Polished and muscular and torsional. On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes. Of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again. In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery.
for an increasingly misanthropic world. A Classic worthy of any Canon.

Here is one of my favourite lines in the book:

Once there were brook trout in the streams in the mountains. You could see them standing in the amber current where the white edges of their fins wimpled softly in the flow. They smelled of moss in your hand. Polished and muscular and torsional. On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes. Of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again. In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery.
Copyright: McCarthy, C. 2006. The Road. London: Picador.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Favourite Things: The STINGO

I featured some of STINGO's work earlier this year over here. The magazine has grown since then, churning new, exiting and original photo spreads for a hungry public. They have also showcased some of Kenya's emerging design talent such as Sheila Amolo, Kardi Kepha and Cyrus Kabiru not to mention their beautiful models. A uniquely Kenyan concept by a young and talented bunch.

You can check them out here:

Favourite Things: Sauti Sol

Other than the unfortunate album cover, the group brought back the Kenyan Ballad, and on top of that made it cool again to serenade women with cool vibes and fancy guitar work. Their universal appeal is further heightened by the number of Tusker Project Fame wannabes that did their songs (and failed) and the fact that it is the only CD that my whole family can listen to on road trips and all. My mum even did a little whoop when they performed on TPF last Sunday.

Favourite Things: BONK

Discover BONK for their serious trendy slim fit tees as well as their solidly coloured fitted polos. The brand, wholly Kenyan and all, has built a small cult like following and they don't skimp on the quality plus everything is made in Kenya so it's good for the economy.

Browse through their exiting catalogue at or visit their sole outlet in Mpaka Road, Westlands (below Red Tape).

Friday, December 3, 2010

Favourite Things: Singin' in the Rain

For the first time in year my family and I sat down to watch a movie. Conflicting schedules as well as international boundaries meant that we were never together throughout the year. Anyway there was nothing to watch on TV and anything after 9 o'clock does not pander to my father's conservative sensibilities. I finally found 'Singin' in the Rain' playing on TCM - a musical with a good ol PG rating-. The plot of the movie was straight forward, the acting and dialogue whimsical and a tad over thee top. It's true what they said they don't make them like they used to. At the end, there was a happy ending, the guy got the gal and everything was as it should have been. Here's to Gene Kelly with his ludicrous choreography and kitschy singing, he really made my day and reinstated family Movie Night.

Favourite Things: The Molskine

While browsing in a bookshop I stumbled on a rack labeled Moleskine. The neatly ordered books sat in their racks unassuming but there was something about their bland exterior and unassuming looks that screamed sophistication. My first Molskine I bought was the Pocket Ruled Notebook in hard cover. On the from it read "The legendary notebook of Chatwin , Picasso and Hemingway" and almost immediately my writers curiosity was aroused fueled by my vanity. My second Moleskine was a large red diary for 2011. It seats unopened on my desk but I can't help but admire the clean design, the vivid colour or the over the top price tag. But I like the books maybe because I'm vain or perhaps because writing everything down the old-fashioned way has a genuine charm to it, as if my writings will be eternal like Hemingway.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Favourite Things: The Perfect Pair of Jeans

I don't buy clothes often but when I do I try to buy clothes with timeless style or something I'm going to wear for at least a year. My father, a well-dressed man, always emphasises the importance of quality and style. For instance he still wears the same pair of wingtips he bought 15 years ago. Sure it costs a bundle (and could probably employ a couple of Grade A government employees very happy) but a good pair of jeans like a good shoe should last for many years, weathering all sorts of seasonal or even cyclical fashion fads.

After months of searching I finally found the pair by Gap for their 1969 Premium Jeans collection. The jeans were moderately priced, for some, for me they blew right through my clothing budget for the year but they were worth it. I like the simplicity of the construction, the jeans are not unnecessarily faded, distressed or torn making them a truly versatile component of ones wardrobe. So there you have it. This seasons must have item - the perfect pair of jeans. Pair these with a good blazer or slim leather jacket and formal boots. A pair Converse would also be fine.

Favourite Things: That Kid From the Vampire Flicks

I stubled upon this picture on the website of American GQ and lingered for afew seconds or hours. 18, year old Taylor Lautner is certainly a fine specimen of a human being. Shame he can't act, but that does not stop my sister from obsessing over his films or me drooling like newborn.

Credit: © 2010
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