THE ABSENT

THE ABSENT
THE ABSENT - out now!

CRIPPLED HEARTS

CRIPPLED HEARTS
Out Now - For sale on Amazon and other onlne book sellers

SOLIDARITY WITH THE FLESH EATING MOSAIC AND OTHER POEMS by Raj Dronamraju

SOLIDARITY WITH THE FLESH EATING MOSAIC AND OTHER POEMS by Raj Dronamraju
Out Now

THE RETURN OF THE MAGNIFICENT NINNY AND OTHER POEMS by Raj Dronamraju

THE RETURN OF THE MAGNIFICENT NINNY AND OTHER POEMS by Raj Dronamraju
My first book of poetry available through Amazon and other online booksellers www.rajbooks.com

Saturday, April 11, 2015

A FEW THOUGHTS ABOUT NETFLIX'S DAREDEVIL


Finished binge watching Season One of Daredevil and it was pretty good.  Maybe not as good as the generous praise that is being heaped on it all over the Internet but very well made, like a long film (which is the Netflix and AMC trademark) rather than an episodic TV show.

What I liked about it

 Vincent D’Onofrio’s performance as Wilson Fisk the Kingpin (although that name is never used) is the best performance I’ve ever seen by an actor as a comic book villain.  His performance is deep and complicated and full of dimensions.  This is a real human being with all the feelings and foibles and complexities.

 The overall look of the show is great – dark, gritty, full of dirt under the fingernails.

Tthe fight scenes are some of the best I’ve ever seen in a TV show.  There are so many but I would single out the fight in the hallway in episode two as particularly amazing.

 All of the supporting characters from the comic book – Foggy Nelson, Karen Page, Ben Urich, Vanessa, Stick - have their essence captured by good performances, faithful renderings.

What I didn’t like

 Like I said D’Onofrio’s performance as Fisk is excellent but physically his dimensions are bit off.  The Kingpin is not just a tall bald guy.  He’s a massive giant.  D’Onofrio should have added a hundred pounds or worn a fat suit.  The wrestler King Kong Bundy is how I see the Kingpin.

 Daredevils’s power in the show is shown to be enhanced senses – smell, hearing, touch, taste etc. but he also uses echolocation like a bat which the show didn’t make clear.   In addition, showing what Daredevil sees as a “world on fire” makes absolutely no sense.  Dardevil’s  line of vision looks like this http://static.comicvine.com/uploads/original/3/36257/2867875-daredevil_022_zone_008.jpg

 Other potential super villains such as Leland Owsley (The Owl) and Melvin Potter (the Gladiator) appear in their human identity but the Kingpin is the only major villain for the whole season.  I think they should have added in one or two more villains. Hopefully, they will do this in the second season.

I loved the red outfit but it doesn’t appear until halfway through the last episode.  I would have liked to have seen it more. 

Overall, some of the episodes felt a bit padded.  Could have done with less priest conversations (one or two would have been enough) as well as the whiny what happened to us? dialogue between Matt, Foggy, and Karen in the later episodes. 

Not sure what the point is of this being in the same movie universe as The Avengers.  They hardly mentioned  other heroes (I counted three mentions) and when they are it’s in euphemisms  like “The Incident” or as jokes.  If there were superheroes around, you’d think people would talk about them more.

Still, it’s an impressively put together story.  I think The Flash is a better adaptation (even though it’s not as good as a comic book or character) because it understands the possibilities of episodic TV  and has a multitude of interesting villains but Daredevil is still worth watching.

My suggestion for Season Two – Of course the Elektra/Bullseye storyline with the Punisher “Child’s Play” thrown in the mix too.  Would also love to see Typhoid Mary at some point.   


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

BETTER CALL SAUL SEASON ONE - MY THOUGHTS


Now that the ten episode first season of Better Call Saul is finished, here are my thoughts....

1.) It is similar to Breaking Bad in that we are seeing the evolution of a person into their true nature....Jimmy McGill is as much Saul Goodman as Walter White was Heisenberg.  The true meaning of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul is one cannot deny their nature and to do so only leads to unhappiness and an unfulfilled self.  Mike’s speech to the hesitant seller of illicit drugs in ep. 9 about the nature of a criminal applies to Jimmy/Saul as well.

2.) One of the biggest complaints I’ve read about BCS is that it is all over the place in terms of tone.  I think this understandable - This is where the two shows are not alke.  You are not going to get nonstop murder and mayhem like BB because that is not Saul’s story.  He’s a criminal but so far as we’ve seen not a murderer.  On Breaking Bad, he was often comedy relief and BCS definitely has more of sense of humor about it than BB.

3.) Bob Odenkirk’s acting as Saul throughout Season One but especially in the confrontation scene with his brother in ep.9 and the monologue during bingo in ep. 10 (Chicago sunroof) which rivals Walter White’s Tenerife monologue in BB.  I hope he wins an Emmy.  He clearly deserves it.

4.) A lot of chatter about who people want to see appear from BB.  I am okay with a rationing of appearances by BB characters except as they figure into this story like Mike for example (and I have gained a new appreciation for this charcter).  An appearance by Walter White would make no sense as he and Saul did not know each other prior to BB.  An appearance by Jessie would only make sense if it happened in the present day which is possible.  That would be interesting!

5.) As Saul’s brother Chuck and Tuco’s lieutenant Nacho do not appear in BB, I look forward to seeing their fates in BCS.

I have always thought that much of Saul Goodman’s shtick on BB was bullshitting – the spiel of a salesman, not necessarily reality.  That is partly true.  The evolution of Saul the emperor of dishonesty, money laundering, bringing criminals together is still in its early phases but what we have seen so far make for a worthy follow-up to BB.       


Monday, March 23, 2015

REFLECTIONS ON THE GONG SHOW


The recent death of Eugene Patton more famously known as Gene Gene the Dancing Machine one of the most surreal and beloved denizens that existed on the Gong Show reminded me of how truly insane this show was even by today’s standards.

Watching the host, game show pioneer Chuck Barris, creator of the Dating Game and the Newlywed Game, mock the very genre he was part of through his put-on persona, enthusiastic and sarcastic at the same time, always ridiculous, was monumentally satisfying.

You see The Gong Show’s contestants may been mostly talentless but they were never boring and occasionally you’d see someone with talent – albeit an unpolished living room sort of talent, unglamorous and real.  The sense of humor which Barris and the three celebrity panellists/judges wielded never seemed excessively cruel (although I did love it when Barris would say “I liked you but then again I liked” and then would mention something bad like paper cuts or mold or jockitch).  Rather, it was part of the show’s unrelenting tone of crazed hilarity.

In addition to contestants such as two girls who sucked popsicles suggestively and a group called The Worms who wriggled on the ground as if having a seizure, The Gong Show also had regulars such as Gene and the Unknown Comic whose shtick wasn’t just wearing a paper bag but also insulting Barris (“Chuck, do you have any nude pictures of your wife? “No” “Would you like to see some?”). 

One interesting thing is that David Letterman was a panellist early on in his career. Reflecting on the how The Gong Show viewed itself, it’s deliberate skewering of showbiz it was part of and its lack of restraint and totally nutty surreal humor  must have influenced David Letterman at some level....Would we have Late Night with David Letterman and The Late Show with David Letterman without The Gong Show?


Friday, March 20, 2015

MY STRUGGLE:BOOK TWO MAN IN LOVE BY KARL OVE KNAUSGAARD


I gave the benefit of the doubt to the first volume of Karl Ove Knausgaard multi volume autobiographical work MY STRUGGLE due to the style which was Proust-like enough in its efficiency of recall that it kept my interest.  My review is here http://rgdinmalaysia.blogspot.com/2014/11/my-struggle-book-one-by-karl-ove.html

Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about the second volume MAN IN LOVE.

The love in the title isn’t what I expected.  Knausgaard does go through how he met his second wife, the mother of his children, which is a rather tawdry and unappealing romance as his wife was in a relationship with a friend of his first and also spent time in a mental institution.  Kanusgaard’s first marriage is hardly mentioned at all.  However, he spends as much time talking about his kids and about writing as he does his relationship with his wife (other than his two wives no other women are mentioned).  The love in the title is everything in life, not just the opposite sex.

Unfortunately, unlike his first volume, Knausgaard has nothing of consequence to say about anything he loves.  His kids are annoying but ultimately worthwhile.  Writing is a series of anecdotes.  His wife is difficult but he loves her. 

I was particularly not impressed with his ruminations on writing.  About the best he has to offer is the writer is chained to his social class.  Knut Hamsun was a farmer so his view of the worlds skewed by that.  What nonsense!

His musings on philosophy are shallow worddrool on time and the like.  Also a problem in the first volume but here he indulges himself even more.

The bottom line is if you are going to write a series of books like that, you need to have an interesting story to tell and not babble too much about unconnected philosophical thoughts.  Knausgaard fails on both counts.        


  

Thursday, March 12, 2015

A FEW THOUGHTS ABOUT INDIA'S DAUGHTER


While I think the documentary INDIA’S DAUGHTER was well-intentioned, it has some serious flaws. I agree with the article linked below. You can’t separate the problem of rape in India from class and economic oppression. It’s not a stand alone problem. Also I agree with feminists in India who have criticized the film as being patriarchal (the title) and also felt a little condescending in a “white man’s burden” type of way. Overall, I found it an oversimplification....However, those problems pale in comparison to a really big one. While the director denies this, numerous witnesses have spoken up that the rapist who talks on camera was paid money for the interview. That is completely unacceptable and I believe it violates the law as well! If that was the case, criminal charges should be filed.



Also I’ve seen a lot of outrage online about the comments of the rapists’ defense attorney in the documentary. His comments are indeed ugly and reprehensible but that is the job of the defense attorney – to get his client off or at least avoid the death penalty....If you are offended by this, I would like to tell you a story....In the US state of Arkansas in 1975, a man was charged with raping a 12 year old girl. The defense attorney who represented the man was able to get a reduced sentence by impugning the integrity, sexual history, and behavior of the 12 year old girl as well as having evidence excluded on a technicality (including the girls bloody underwear). In audio tapes of an interview conducted after the trial, the attorney laughed about getting her client off and the fact he passed a polygraph. She said “it made her lose her faith in polygraphs”. Ugly? Disgusting? And who was the defense attorney in question? Why Hillary Clinton of course! I think if one feels so strongly about defense attorneys, then we can all agree Hillary Clinton is not fit to be president but that’s a topic for another post.


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

MUSIC ROUND-UP - MARCH 2015


Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – CHASING YESTERDAY

I thought that Noel Gallagher’s first solo album was the most consistent record he’d ever made. I like Oasis, specific songs especially, but they never made a consistent record. His new record is maybe not quite as good songwriting wise as his debut but more musically adventurous (if that is a description you can use for Noel Gallagher’s music ) Great songs – The Girl With X Ray Eyes and The Dying of the Light.

  
Dutch Uncles – O SHUDDER

For the Dutch Uncles fourth record, they seem to have gotten back somewhat to the sound of their first album (One of the best records of the last ten years).  The nervous angularity is older, wiser in application and still has more recently added keyboards in the mix but is much more energetic and down to Earth than their second and third records.  Highlights – Babymaking, Decided to See, In N Out, Be Right Back.


Carl Barat and the Jackals – LET IT REIGN


The irony of the reunion of the Libertines is this record is perhaps the closest to the Libertines music of any of Barat or Pete Doherty’s different band projects and solo recordings.  Barat is really making an attempt to sound like Joe Strummer and a Clash influence is all over this record.  Best tunes – Victory Gin, Summer in the Trenches, Beginning to See.

   

Monday, March 2, 2015

HOUSE OF CARDS SEASON THREE - ONE LAST THOUGHT


One last thought about Season Three of HOUSE OF CARDS – In the time leading up to Claire’s leaving Frank, we see her using Frank’s old rowing machine and several times sitting in the Oval Office.  This could be symbolism for how she is in her husband’s shadow or could it mean she wants the Oval Office for herself?

Could we see Claire competing with Frank for the presidency in Season Four?  That would be something!