Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra – pure ‘orgasmic’ delight?!

Every so often, I would hear Freddy talk about enjoying ‘JPO’. This would occur at least once a week. Naturally, this piqued my curiosity. What, in the name of obtuse acronyms, is JPO?

A Jalapeno Pizza without Onions perhaps? No. Then how about Jared Padelecki Online (I know Freddy and a bunch of my chick friends have a thing for that guy, it is one of the only reasons why they watch The Supernatural *rolls eyes and sighs*)? Obviously, that was also not the correct answer. Eventually, like any man will eventually do after being lost for several hours and once the GPS has ceased to function, I caved and asked him to please tell me what JPO stands for. Quite simply, JPO stands for the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra (JPO).

In a quest to broaden my cultural psyche and taste for the fine arts, Freddy invited me to last nights performance of the JPO. However, he wanted me to experience the full JPO evening that he shares weekly with Anton. Thus, the first stop was the Sievers Manor.

Anton’s house, often like my own, was brimming with family. As it turns out, his brother, Chem, is getting married next weekend so the family was having a rehearsal dinner. Consequently, Anton had to dash in and out of his apartment several times, humorously f-bombing all the way, to attend to his familial duties. Once he was able to settle down, we were treated to a lovely home cooked beef and vegetable pie, which Anton had cooked. It was very tasty, despite, what Anton himself had also noted, the extremely rich and flowery pastry, which vehemently refused to travel down my oesophagus. This resulted in overzealous gulps of cranberry flavoured water on my part. I think Anton must have thought I was really very thirsty since, like the great host that he is, he kept asking if I needed anything else to drink. After dinner, we all chatted about the usual nonsensical stuff that friends usually talk about, before heading off to the JPO.

This was my first time at the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra. Before last night, I had never heard classical music performed live. I suppose I never really saw the appeal. In essence the music was intensely captivating, especially when the full orchestra presented itself. Something that I really found fascinating, was the way in which the orchestra appeared to assume a living, organic being. Through each verse, the symphonic organism would undulate and ripple with clear intent and distinction. Apart from the singularity of the orchestra, it was great to watch and analyse the individuals who make up the whole. The conductor, Yasuo Shinozaki, was really quite the character. Granted there were times when I though the guy was having an epileptic fit or some kind of brain aneurysm. However, there definitely appeared to be a kind of method to his madness especially with regards to the hypnotic use of his baton. The other highlight of the evening was being able to listen to Alexej Gorlatch play the piano. Granted he was exquisite, but man was he bothersome to watch –not unlike injecting heroine straight into your eyeball. You know, fine. I understand that people can be passionate about what they do, but when it looks like you are having a perpetual orgasm, with graphic facial visuals accompanied with clearly audible gasps of erotic ‘pleasure’, then you really should re-evaluate your stage presence. Honestly, if I had known sooner that playing a classical instrument could be so ‘sexually satisfying’, I would have learnt how to play one a long time ago! Come to think of it… I reckon I will start to play the piano!

After JPO had ended, I purchased a CD of the evidently ‘orgasmic’ score. However, before we could leave, Anton and I had to wait for Freddy to get his weekly fix of ‘crutches’. Let me fill you in on ‘crutches’. ‘Crutches’ is a man whom Freddy has taken a liking too. Call it a school boy crush, if you like. Every time Freddy and Anton go to JPO, Freddy furtively glances in the direction of ‘crutches’, hoping to ga
rner his attention. Oh ja, he is nicknamed ‘crutches’ because he… well uses ‘crutches’ – Anton pointed out that it is because his one leg is shorter than the other, or something to that effect. So after JPO, I found out that it is now a customary tradition for Ant and Fred to wait at the entrance for ‘crutches’ to hobble past. This is so Freddy can get his ‘fix’. Seriously… I was just like “Why have you not spoken to the guy yet? Just go over and introduce yourself. I will talk to him for you if you’d like?”. Being a straight guy, I really have no qualm with talking to gay guy, since there is obviously nothing in it for me. To which Freddy replied “Okay, would you just go over to a really hot girl that you liked and hand her over your number?”. Touché, touché… even though I really should learn to do that. After all, other than my dignity, what else have I got to lose? Anyway, as it turned out, ‘crutches’ never made his fabled appearance, to Freddy’s great disappointment. Thus, after two cigarettes and only a single glass of wine later, Anton was like “F#ck this, let us get the f#ck out of here already… I need more wine”!

Back at Anton’s place, we were treated to some delectable leftover ‘Sievers secret chocolate mousse’ – which, while we were out, Anton’s mom had left in his apartment for us to devour (Thanks Mrs. S.). Shortly after some more nonsensical conversations, we were joined by Delia, Anton’s absolutely gorgeous, and tipsy, ‘model’ sister. If I had to say that Delia looks like a refined version of the very sexy Scarlett Johansson, it would not be an over exaggeration. I found out that Delia is a model, obviously, and that she has many friends who would be more than eager to, as Anton so graciously put it, sit on my face, among other things,… again and again and again. As it turns out, Delia is actually a really cool person. She struck me as down to earth, intelligent and funny. The exact polar opposite of the model stereotype. Consequently, she invited myself, Freddy and Anton to the South African Fashion Week and its subsequent parties. I now think I know what it must feel like to win the lotto. I could not believe my luck… I was invited out by a model… to a model ‘buffet’! Thank you Lord, thank you! I swear… I felt like I needed a change of underwear after that! However, upon asking for the dates to this illustrious event, I was informed that the SA Fashion Week parties would take place between the 2nd and 4th April. My ‘high’ was short lived. I felt like I had been punched in the gut by a stripper, one who allows people to watch, drool even, but forbids them to touch. Can you believe that I will be out of the country during those dates? Murphy’s Law at its best! Surprisingly, in a move to mend my dashed hopes of letting some gorgeous model munch my cherry, Delia did say that there would be plenty more events like this, events I am more than welcome to attend! YES!

Overall, the evening was a great amount of fun. I really had a fantastic ‘fabulous’ time and would honestly like to have another JPO evening again, in the near future.

It may be Friday, but tonight I am going out with a few friends to, of all places, the Planetarium. I must have just been a kid, probably less than 13 years old, when I last went to the Planetarium. As a result I am actually rather excited for tonight. More so that I get to be out with good company. Oh, who am I kidding, I am looking forward to stargazing just as much!

Until the next time Milieu Pals!

The Red Carpet screens: Watchmen

As most of you should know, my latest group, The Red Carpet, had its first screening last week Friday (06 March 2009). The movie in question: Watchmen.

For The Red Carpet’s first screening, I decided to go big. How big? IMAX big! If you have not already watched a ‘Hollywood’ blockbuster in an IMAX theatre, then please do yourself a favour, and do so. The sound and picture clarity, not to mention size of the screen, are spectacular in IMAX theatres. The experience is usually breathtaking. Presuming of course you are sitting toward the back of the cinema and not in the second row from the gigantic screen. Which, as Murphy’s Law would have it, is exactly where we were seated.

Courtesy of the ongoing Johannesburg road works and the incapable drivers that are South Africans, we arrived 30 minutes too late for the six o’clock (pm) screening. This was after over three and a half hours, and 150 kilometres, of traffic induced congestion. Note to self: never make plans before seven o’clock (pm) on a Friday if the venue is more than 10 kilometres away. Needless to say, our handsomely reserved tickets had been forfeited. As a result we had no other choice than to accept what was available for the nine o’clock (pm) screening of the movie. Best available tickets for a group of seven? Second row from the front.

Have you ever been seated in the very first few rows of a normal cinema? Unless you are inherently blind, it is, in my honest opinion, a less than pleasurable experience. Now imagine that scenario, but for a screen that is over eight stories high. Seriously… we all came away from the experience with, and I kid you not, sore necks, blood shot eyes and pounding headaches. I would equate watching an IMAX film like this to having a mild brain aneurysm or stroke. Despite the less than adequate seating arrangements, the movie itself was very good.

One of the best aspects of the movie would have had to have been the visuals and special effects. I have commented, time and time again since watching this film, that if someone had to take stills of particular scenes in the movie, that you could use those stills as panels within a graphic novel. Thus, in a pure literal sense, the movie perfectly captures the graphic novel from which it is based. Although I have never read the infamous Watchmen graphic novel, I can clearly and vividly imagine what the novel must be like. Furthermore, never have I been more impressed with a pure digitally created and computer generated character, than I have been with Dr. Manhattan. The only tell tale sign that Dr. Manhattan is in fact a digital illusion is apparent when the character speaks. Although his eyes, skin and genitals have all been recreated flawlessly, it is Dr. Manhattan’s mouth, and its flawed motion, which betray this characters true origin.

One of the strongest aspect of this movie would have to pertain to its story. Unlike conventional ‘super hero’ related movies, the characters within Watchmen are multilayered and somewhat believable. Furthermore, the heroes of the story are flawed, and as a result, all is not what it appears to be. My cousin Freddy summed it up perfectly with the following excerpt from his blog: “Watchmen at its core is a look into superhero ethics and morality. It is refreshing to see superheroes from this perspective as this theme is hardly played on in most comic books. You get a taste of it sometimes but never to the extent of realising how a superhero could view right from wrong and how best to serve mankind. Another point that was refreshing was the concept that the superheroes in watchmen aren’t all ’super powered’, they are mostly humans with the agenda to do good. This has been a staple of the ‘dc-universe’ and I suppose the most appealing part of the human ’superhero’ is that it is accessible to anyone. I must say that the ‘origins’ of the characters played an important part in seeing the humanity of the superhero in question”. I do not wish to elaborate further, for fear of spoiling the plot. Simply put, the movie has a rich politically driven and drama oriented feel that is complimented by a love triangle (with obligatory sex scene) and copious amounts of action related blood and gore.

The Red Carpet rates Watchmen: 08/10