It occurred to me recently that celebrities just don’t get enough exposure in the press. I feel sorry for them. And because I feel sorry for them I’m devoting this editorial to them, the poor things. It might be nothing we don’t already know, but it’s still damn odd that we still seem far more interested in Nicole Ritchie’s eating (or, as the case may be, non-eating) habits than, say, the Zimbabwe issue. That, of course, is not going to change in a hurry, but if we must get worked up about celebrities, let them at the very least be our own.

What’s wrong with ours anyway? I’ll tell you what. They just don’t understand that the way to guarantee a double page spread in Heat Magazine is to get loaded and run through Sandton City with syringes dangling from between your toes, pursued by a scratched and hysterical spouse. It’s dead easy. If that’s a bridge too far, just convert to Scientology. Or get a Chihuahua. Or simply email your holiday snaps to Heat yourself like a certain local presenter who will remain nameless. Let’s just say he may or may not have been involved in Idols, and may or may not have a surname that means ‘fungus often found on rocks’.

We shouldn’t really try to help them though, should we? I mean, this ineptitude of our local schlebs could be a good thing; after all, being a winner in the celebrity realm often means the opposite in the real world, and vice versa. We might celebrate the fact that our circle of shame rarely finds anything more outrageous than a sweaty armpit or a weird fourth toe.

It’s a perverse compliment to our culture, suggesting as it does a nation interested in other, more important things. Not so fast. We might be above gobbling up Danny K’s every move, but there are reasons for that: One, Danny K’s moves aren’t very interesting. And two, we’ve got our own brand of tabloid rubbish, it’s just different rubbish. Every day, millions of South African readers are scouring features about alien tokolosh kidnappers who steal babies or stories headlined: ‘Knocked Out By Sex: Lovers blame each other after man faints on the job’ or, waũt for it, ‘The Girls Who Pee Spoons: Amazing story and pictures, page 2’. Eish.

This month in Extra Virgin we interview Hollywood’s hottest new comedy director, Judd Apatow, ahead of the double release of his films ‘Knocked Up’ and ‘Superbad’. We recommend a visit to a place famous for its olives and mohair and tell you (no, warn you) about James Blunt’s new album. What would you do without us? I shudder at the thought.

The Editor

Judd Apatow shot to fame with his directorial debut, ‘The 40-year-old Virgin’. Now he’s being hailed as Hollywood’s comedy saviour following the success of ‘Knocked Up’ and ‘Superbad’, both set for release in South Africa this month. We asked Apatow, and ‘Superbad’ producer Greg Mottola, about newfound fame.

By Arthur Christopher

It isn’t quite warm enough for the beach, you haven’t quite recovered from the crowds you had to fight past to get a wave last summer but after a long winter of Facebook poking and a bit of work, you need a break. Here are three out of the way towns that offer the sort of rural rejuvenation that will last you until Christmas.

James Blunt – ‘All The Lost Souls’

It’s too easy to have a go at James Blunt, so we’ll start with a compliment. The songs on his sophomore album, All The Lost Souls, are almost unnervingly catchy. Single ‘1973’ – a decent stab at a Coldplay-esque piano ballad – ‘Shine On’, and ‘Same Mistake’ will ensure that achieves the...

Turin Brakes – ‘Dark on Fire’

It was only a matter of time before Turin Brakes upped the tempo. After three mellow, mainly acoustic albums – the first of which, The Optimist Up, was a hit in South Africa – singer songwriters Olly Knights and Gale Paridjanian have produced an album that might be ...

Midlake – ‘The Trials of Van Occupanther’

The current tendency for indie rock bands to produce instantly likeable albums that will keep them in converse and cigarettes has compromised their longevity. A hit or two in the first few tracks, a slick album cover and a good first video can ensure success. So it is a joy these days to...

The Jane Austen Book Club
Lisa Haagensen

Director Robin Swicord was asking to be misinterpreted when he chose to title his debut film The Jane Austen Book Club, but those assuming the film follows the lives of the British gentry around the English...

Matthew Freemantle

Hollywood has long coveted a replacement for Tom Hanks – a curly haired, attractive-but-unglamorous nice guy who can play both romantic lead and blockbuster hero. They might have found him in ...

Knocked Up
Matthew Freemantle

The poster for the film said it all: An enormous mugshot of leading man Seth Rogen’s chubby, unshaven, goofy face, grimacing queasily above the words, ‘What if this guy got you pregnant?’. Judd Apatow, who brought ...

By Arthur Christopher

Over 20 years ago The Economist conceived an ingenious mothod of comparing purchasing power in a range of countries, based on the price of a McDonald's hamburger. Since then, the so-called 'Big Mac Index' has been a valuable reference point from which to examine whether currencies are overvalued or undervalued in the foreign exchange market...

Leonie Joubert

The winter of 2007 felt brutal: severe flooding drove many from their homes across the Cape Flats and even parts of Cape Town’s southern suburbs were sump-deep in runoff; repeated snowfalls over many parts of the country, including the first in Gauteng since September, 1981, and Pretoria since June, 1968; some Free State maize farmers reported the worst frosts seen in three decades, if not more. Global warming? Yeah, right!

Well, there’s an explanation, because it turns out there’s a big difference between once-off weather events – or a winter full of them – and climate...

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