Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Learning Channel

I really should be studying. I really, REALLY should! I'm writing my first exam on Thursday morning and I have a nasty feeling that it's going to be a killer. It's on psychoanalytic theory - in other words, good ol' Freud and his successor, Melanie Klein. If you're struggling to remember what their respective claims to fame are, Freud is the psychoanalyst with the cigar who sees sex and phallic symbols in everything (except perhaps his own cigar) and Klein is the lady psychoanalyst who sees breasts ("good" and "bad" breasts, at that) in everything and who presented the utterly ridiculous theory of "womb envy" to counter Freud's ideas about penis envy.*
*please note that this is a gross simplification, and one which will have be shot by the Wits psychology department.
Honours has been really interesting so far - assuming that interesting is a euphemism for stressful, occasionally soul-destroying and frustrating, as well as fun, psychosis-inducing and generally chaotic. I'm really enjoying it. In fact, I wish that I had more time to enjoy it, because it's rushing past so quickly. The first semester is practically over, and I taught my last RDA tut on Friday. RDA has been an interesting experience (in the less euphemistic usage of "interesting"). I really didn't want to tutor it initially, because I wasn't confident in my ability to teach stats. Give me an ANOVA equation to work out and I'm happy, but don't ask me to explain how to do it! The psych department ignored my pleas and so I ended up tutoring 2 classes of about 25 second and third year students on Wednesday and Friday afternoons. And I've learned a lot:
1) it is possible to tutor your way through something you don't completely understand yourself, while appearing to be a receptacle of knowledge for the subject. It really helps if your students don't know enough themselves to be able to argue with you on the more technical aspects.
2) always label your overheads. I once confused the entire class by putting up overhead #3 before overhead #2. I had taken pain-killers as well, so I was a little slow on the uptake.
3) never take pain-killers before tutoring
4) don't bother asking your students to write down their email addresses and contact details. They will be illegible and 78% of your emails will bounce.
5) never underestimate how silly students can be. From the ones who thought they got a formula sheet in the test (they're allowed to bring in their own crib sheet, with anything - including worked examples - on it) to those who only write their initials on their test paper and detach all 13 pages from one another for no apparent reason.
6) always be suspicious of the student who comes to both your tuts for no apparent reason, who sits right in front of you not doing his work and who asks to borrow your third year textbook. Be very suspicious.
7) never end up tutoring someone who you were in high school with, and who is now friends with you on Facebook. The night before your tut, you will end up having the following conversation on Facebook Chat:
Peter: do we have stats tom? i mean a tut. i mean a tut
Candice: Yes.
Peter: really. last day of term and we have a tut. have you no heart?
Candice: The RDA department have no heart.
Peter: no candice if you had one you be 'sick' and cancel it
Candice: Not a chance. I love my class too much
Peter: no you dont.
Candice: Shh... Don't tell anyone
Peter: but i know
Candice: I'm okay with that. :)
Peter: so we seriously have a tut
Candice: We SERIOUSLY have a tut and you SERIOUSLY need to be there!
Peter: why capitals. are you computer shouting?
Candice: Yes, I am computer shouting!
Peter is offline.

8) and finally, never underestimate the extent to which everything that can go wrong, will go wrong. On Wednesday, Granville and I walked to the OLS building to tutor. Granville's projector didn't work, so he went to borrow the psych department's portable one, but the office was closed. So, we went back to OLS and borrowed the projector (desk and all) from the venue next door. Then, Granville realised that he'd forgotten his overhead slides at home, along with the examples for the tut, so there was really no point in having borrowed the overhead. He had to photocopy my examples and wrote them up on the board (again). Nikki then also discovered that her projector was broken, but some technical genius in her class fixed it before she went to borrow Granville's overhead. My own tut class then succeeded in confusing themselves and me about how to rank non-parametric data. Argh!!!

I will miss tutoring, but fortunately next quarter, we tutor in pairs! I can't wait!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Toy Story

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about the Eduardo Villa exhibition that I was hoping to go to. I happened to mention it to my friend Paul, who also "happens" to be the guy who has an original Eduardo Villa sculpture in his house, and so, after much planning, we set off to see the exhibition today.

I met Paul at his house at 11:30am - a major achievement, considering that he's generally nocturnal - and we made our way through town, with my map and lots of swearing at taxis from Paul, and quite a bit of fighting between us. We did the traditional "drive past the gallery twice" thing before finding the parking area (for some reason, I can never find the entrance to the Standard Bank Gallery. I drive around and around and around, and then, just as I'm about to give up, I find the entrance), and eventually headed up to the gallery, high-fiving each other for having succeeded in finding the gallery, especially since town is filled with one-way streets, police blockades and various other impediments (mostly in the form of taxis).
Villa's work was being exhibited downstairs, and it really was interesting. Most of his works are very colourful and organic in shape, although some of them are a little more angular (and look a bit like shark fins, at least to me). They look a little like children's' toys (hence the blog title), because of their colour and shape. Most of the pieces were about 30cm in height (unusual for Villa, who normally creates enormous pieces that can only be exhibited outdoors) and were made from cast steel. And yes, like all BA students (especially those studying Freud), a couple of them did look rather phallic. I quite liked the pieces which were grouped together though, mostly comprising four different shapes on a base (Kirstan has decided that these represented an "orgy", although I'm not sure I agree). Paul and I had fun looking at pieces with names like "Totem: Blue" and "Totem: Red", and a couple that looked like pepper grinders. The funniest part of the outing was undoubtedly me noticing that Paul's grandfather was mentioned 3 times in the time-line of Villa's life which the gallery had composed, and Paul nonchalantly mentioning the dinner parties that he'd attended at Villa's home (which, incidentally, has turned out to be in the same suburb as where I live)!
We then proceeded to the upstairs gallery, where Andrew Verster's work was being exhibited. Some of it was a little weird - like his opera sets and costume designs for musicals. His work was also very diverse, ranging from installations to paintings. The most amazing pieces were henna-inspired decorated limbs, on single-coloured backgrounds. Each one had the most incredible detail and the colours were amazing! He really likes using colour - sometimes to the point where my eyeballs started to ache (neon yellow is not your friend)!
Paul and I then miraculously found our way back to the highway, and I then drove back to Wits to teach my last stats tutorial for the semester, feeling rather cultured. The exhibition runs until the 23rd of May, and if you get the chance, you really should try to see it!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Back to the Future

One of the reasons why I love music so much is because of the emotions it is capable of evoking in me and the memories that I associate with certain songs. I’m sure everyone does this – you’ll hear a song on the radio and immediately be transported back to a summer holiday or a road trip or even memories of a particular person. That’s what Bryan Adam’s “Summer of ’69” is all about!

Sometimes these musical associations are good – and sometimes, they cause problems. I have entire albums of music that have become associated with ex boyfriends and that I couldn’t listen to for a really long time because I just got too depressed about things when I played them. Fortunately, I’ve got over most of these associations, and it’s actually become refreshing to listen to the music and realise how far I’ve come and how much my life has changed – mostly for the better. This really struck me a few weeks ago, just before Coke Fest. I was driving to a friend’s house and listening to the radio, and because Oasis were one of the bands due to be performing at the concert (I say “due” because the bands that Coke Fest advertises and those that actually show up have proven to be quite dissimilar), 5FM seemed to have decided that perhaps they should actually play some of the band’s music a little more often than they normally do. I turned the volume up, because I generally like Oasis, and was pleasantly surprised to hear “Don’t Look Back in Anger”. I love this song, but I have some weird memories associated with it. I remember buying an album of unplugged songs for my cousin in 2002, and spent the December holiday listening to the CD, which featured a live version of the song. I couple of months later, the guy I was dating at the time broke up with me. It was one of those horrible moments, where I was relatively certain that my life was over, that I would never be happy again and that I would die alone (I was 15, which is probably why it was so dramatic). Anyway, as I was walking him to the front door, somewhere at the back of my mind, the line “don’t look back in anger” from the song floated into my consciousness. Ever since, I have always associated that song with that day – and with the idea of just accepting things, letting them go and getting on with my life. I did really struggle to get over the guy and it took a good couple of years. Hearing that song on the radio just made me realise how far I had come. What’s even better though is that I can now turn the volume up, smile and sing along!

"Slip inside the eye of your mind
Don't you know you might find a better place to play
You said that you'd never been
But all the things that you've seen will slowly fade away

So I start a revolution from my bed
'Cause you said the brains I had went to my head
Step outside the summertime's in bloom
Stand up beside the fireplace
Take that look from off your face
You ain't ever gonna burn my heart out
So Sally can wait, she knows it's too late as we're walking on by
Her soul slides away, but don't look back in anger I heard you say

Take me to the place where you go
Where nobody knows, if it's night or day.
Please don't put your life in the hands
Of a rock 'n roll band who'll throw it all away

I'm gonna start the revolution from my bed
'Cause you said the brains I had went to my head
Step outside 'cos summertime's in bloom
Stand up beside the fireplace
Take that look from off your face
'Cos you ain't ever gonna burn my heart out
So Sally can wait, she knows it's too late as she's walking on by.
My soul slides away, but don't look back in anger I heard you say
So Sally can wait, she knows it's too late as we're walking on by
Her soul slides away, but don't look back in anger I heard you say
And So Sally can wait, she knows it's too late and she's walking on by
My soul slides away, but don't look back in anger, don't look back in anger I heard you say
At least not today."

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Don't you love it when you're wondering about something, and then, out of the blue, the answer to your question appears, without you even having to ask?

Last week Friday, I was at my friend Paul's house for an evening of board games. His house is absolutely amazing, not only because it's right on the top of a hill and has an amazing view, but also because it's filled with the most unusual art. Paul's grandfather was friends with a whole lot of South African artists, and he collected a lot of their work before they were famous. So, their house is now filled with works by the likes of Cecil Skotnes, and, as I recently discovered, Eduardo Villa. When I went to visit Paul on Friday, I parked in front of a rather strangely shaped green sculpture. I'm still not sure if "sculpture" is the appropriate word. It was about 2 metres tall, bright green and looked rather a lot like a free-standing squiggly T, for lack of a better description. I glanced at it again when I was leaving, and wondered about what it was, and made a mental note to ask Paul about it next time I came to visit.

I was looking through the newspaper yesterday, when I saw an advert for an art exhibition that is being held at the Standard Bank Gallery. There were more squiggly green structures in the picture, and some red ones too! The advert was for an Eduardo Villa exhibition at the gallery, and so the mystery of the green squiggle sculpture was explained! According to the gallery website, Villa is one of the oldest working artists in South Africa (he's 93!) and "his work spans nearly seven decades and comprises thousands of pieces dealing with sexuality, aggression, political unease and confrontation" (which kind of makes me wonder what the squiggles are about). However, "even the most abstract pieces make some reference to human relationships, circumstances, attitudes and postures".

One of Villa's pieces

The exhibition itself is apparently one of the few indoor exhibitions that he has done, because most of his works are too big to be shown indoors. His works ranges "from relatively conservative busts and reliefs to bare, modernist shapes and figurines, to the exuberant and colourful works which typify the latter part of his oeuvre. While some of the sculptures are twisted interpretations of the human form, others are sometimes startlingly phallocentric. It is a testament to an active, creative and open mind that Villa, even after 90, still conceives and produces works which reflect sexual energy and youthful vitality".

Clearly one of the more "phallocentric" pieces!

The ‘Edoardo Villa: Moving Voices’ exhibition is on until the 23rd of May, and I'm definitely keen to go and see it - not least to find out what the squiggles are about! If you're interested in coming along, let me know, or go to
PS - apologies for the lack of pictures of the squiggles. My Google Image searches proved fruitless.


Okay, the title of this post is a lie. It should actually be "300 divided by 3"! Inspired by everyone who has done one of these in the last few months though, here is a small (?) indulgence in egotism, in the form of a list of 100 things that you might not have known about me. :)

1. I did ballet for 16 years and really miss it.

2. I feel as if the Goo Goo Dolls’ album “Dizzy Up the Girl” was written for me.

3. My favourite colours are red, grey and green (although definitely not in combination)

4. Buying a digital camera was probably the best purchase I ever made

5. I failed my driver’s licence 3 times.

6. Engineers are my favourite "category" of people. I just always have so much fun with them! I’m friends with so many engineers that I’ve have been declared an “honorary” engineer.

7. I love blogging.

8. I wonder if I should have done a BSc or a medical degree instead of a BA. Occasionally, I also wonder if I should’ve become an engineer.

9. I fall in love with movie and TV characters on a regular basis – Seth Cohen (Adam Brody) from “The O.C.” and Jude from “Across the Universe” are 2 of the more recent examples.

10. I love baking – especially for other people.

11. The song “No Bravery” by James Blunt changed my life.

12. One of my goals in life is to be an extra/dancer in a Bollywood movie.

13. I’m a morning person (likely 1 of the 3 on the planet)

14. I don’t particularly like wearing black. If I do wear it, it’s usually a skirt or pants, and I’ll wear a really bright coloured top with it as some form of compensation.

15. Matric was one of the toughest – and best – years of my life.

16. The only alcoholic beverage that I really like is blue curaco (and only if it’s served with lemonade).

17. I have watched “Singing in the Rain” and “Juno” so many times that I know all the dialogue.

18. I love swimming – even if it’s doing lengths in the Wits pool!

19. I don’t have a middle name. My Hebrew name is Carmella though.

20. My pet hate is people who have Facebook statuses that read along the lines of “Jessica is so wonderfully in love with her sweetie-honey-angel-baby and so happy that they’ve been together for 2 months”. Urgh.

21. I hardly ever wear make-up – not even foundation.

22. I’m still close friends with someone I’ve known since I was 3! We still talk on the phone at least once a month and still get along fantastically! I'm really glad that we're still friends!

23. I love Chinese food.

24. I love thunderstorms.

25. I have helped deliver puppies – simultaneously amazing and terrifying!

26. The thing I struggle with the most is acceptance.

27. I don’t drink coffee, as it makes me jittery.

28. I’ve been vegetarian for 7 years.

29. I’m a fussy vegetarian – I don’t like brinjals, bell peppers or marrows.

30. I didn’t want to go to Wits. I wanted to study at UCT or Rhodes. But, looking back, I’m really glad that I did end up at Wits.

31. I’m an only child.

32. If I wasn’t an only child, I would really like to have an older brother.

33. I don’t want children, as I don’t believe that I’m maternal in any way. I never know what to do with them!

34. Instead of having children, I’d prefer to own 2 cats (preferably a Russian Blue, a Maine Coon or a Burmese).

35. I don’t mind insects or reptiles, but I’m petrified of snakes (Freud would have a field day with me).

36. I fall in love too easily. Sometimes I wish that I didn't.

37. I read Shakespeare for fun. My favourite Shakespeare plays are “Othello” and “Hamlet”. I like the tragic stuff

38. I only learned to apply eyeliner when I was 21.

39. I’m an obsessive reader of food labels – mostly to avoid gelatine and other animal derivatives.

40. One of the things that I’m most proud of is having been head girl of my high school.

41. I love emo music – probably against my better judgement.

42. I have asked a complete stranger out on a date. The complete stranger said yes.

43. I don’t like driving into parking spaces which have cars on either side.

44. I had the same cellphone for the last 5 years, and only bought a new one 2 weeks ago.

45. I’m ¼ Polish.

46. I love receiving flowers (what girl doesn’t?!?).

47. I think in Facebook statuses.

48. I’m at least a little bit OCD – at least about academics and keeping my room neat.

49. It takes at least an hour to straighten my hair, because it’s so thick. My hairdresser once gave up trying to blow-dry it, and handed the hair-dryer to someone else.

50. I usually have favourite scenes in movies – moments that just stand out for me, either because of the cinematography, or just because of the general feel of the scene. Good examples are the flash-card scene in “Love Actually” and the fish-tank scene in “Romeo + Juliet”.

51. I love high heels (especially stilettos), but I don’t generally wear them because they hurt my feet.

52. I only ever listen to Dashboard Confessional when I’m really happy!

53. I react horribly to most medication. Myprodol knocks me out for at least 3 days.

54. I always eat breakfast! I go into a mental shutdown if I don’t.

55. I always sing along to the radio when I’m driving.

56. I’m the worst person to watch horror movies with – I end up screaming and hiding behind whoever is sitting next to me (usually long before anything scary actually happens).

57. Some of the best times of my life have been (in no particular order): matric; going to the Vaal with the Warners; Forum 1 and Forum 2; my holiday to Durban with varsity friends; watching "Purple Rain" with Luke and Duncan (and many other movie nights); my 21st birthday party; Kirstan's "Pin-Up Girl" photoshoot in 2008; and many other random moments... :)

58. I love dancing – although I’m not a huge fan of clubs, mostly because they don’t play the kind of music I like. Anyone know of any good trance clubs? ;)

59. My most prized possession is my Irish Promise Ring, which was given to me by a very awesome friend! :)

60. The people who I am still friends with from high school are not the people I expected to still be friends with, but they are the most fantastic people and I’m really glad that we’re friends!

61. I love the ocean, simply because its so vast and constantly changing. Kind of like life, really...

62. I love musicals, concerts and live music shows. Some of the really good ones that I've seen live include Tap Dogs, Lord of the Dance, James Blunt, Bryan Adams and We Will Rock You.

63. When people ask me if I’ve seen a particular movie, I usually say “No, but I’ve read the book”.

64. I have cried in pretty much every episode of “Everwood” that I’ve ever watched.

65. I need at least 7 hours of sleep per night.

66. The first thing that I notice about boys that I like is their eyes and their shoes.

67. I suspect that I was Chinese in a previous life (mostly because of my Chinese culture and food obsession)

68. I was completely maths-phobic until I ended up tutoring stats to second years’ at varsity.

69. I would like to sky-dive.

70. I like getting dressed up to the nines to go out.

71. I usually fall for guys who turn out to be emotionally unavailable or gay. I'm starting to get used to it!

72. It takes a lot for me to get angry. I usually just get sad when I’m upset about something.

73. I’m a neat-freak, of note!

74. I associate the people and events in my life with songs (feel free to ask what “your” song is!)

75. I love road trips – especially those which have no destination in particular.

76. I don’t like copying CD’s.

77. I don’t have pierced ears – and I’m not sure that I’m planning on changing this anytime soon!

78. I really enjoy painting and drawing and making “stuff” and wish that I had more time for it.

79. I’m determined to become a clinical psychologist.

80. I’m fascinated by Buddhism and Taoism.

81. Most of my closest friends are older than me. I just find it easier to relate to them (although apparently this has something to do with being an only child).

82. I only listen to the news on the radio to find out what the weather is going to be like.

83. I love public speaking.

84. The worst day of my life was the day my cat had to be put down. She was the most awesome cat!

85. I have never learned to ride a bicycle.

86. I collect dessert recipes and probably have at least 200 of them!

87. I have never been overseas. The countries I would most like to visit though are Italy, Japan, Poland and Ireland.

88. There are certain movies that I refuse to watch with other people – namely “City of Angels” and “Romeo + Juliet”.

89. I am slightly obsessed with recycling and environmental issues and wish that more people would recycle.

90. If I could live in any historical period, it would be either the 1960’s (the time of The Beatles and civil rights protests) or the 18th Century (inspire by too many Jane Austen novels!)

91. I worry far too much!

92. Doing philosophy at university was the most intellectually challenging thing that I’ve ever done!

93. I get goosebumps when I hear bagpipes.

94. I love going to art galleries and the theatre, and wish that more people did.

95. If my life was a movie or TV show, the song for the opening credits would be Matchbox Twenty’s “How Far We’ve Come”.

96. I never buy jewellery, and yet somehow have tons of it. It seems to be a popular birthday present choice! ;)

97. Bad grammar and spelling annoy me.

98. If there is one thing that can always make me smile, it’s the OK Go music video for “Here it Goes Again” (the treadmill dance). Just hearing that song makes me want to dance (possibly on a treadmill)!

99. I love hiking (although falling down hills tends to kill my enthusiasm for it).

100. My favourite scent is vanilla. Just wearing my vanilla perfume makes me happy!