THE ABSENT - out now!


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


Out Now


My first book of poetry available through Amazon and other online booksellers

Sunday, November 29, 2015


I don't know if it is because I am out of touch from living in Malaysia or because Stephen Duffy/The Lilac Time fly so low under the radar (as they have done much of their career) but I have just noticed that The Lilac Time released a new album this past April - NO SAD SONGS.

I am happy to say it is the best thing Duffy has done since 1999's LOOKING FOR A DAY IN THE NIGHT. All the classic Duffy/Lilac musical touches are here - Deceptively simple melodic arrangements, delicately plucked banjo, pedal steel guitar, pretty strings, and what has turned into the signature trait of their recordings, Duffy's beautiful weary/wise voice which uses the deeper range to great effect - Like a less high pitched less whispery Paddy McAloon.

The best songs after a couple listens - The Dream That Woke Me, Prussian Blue, The First Song of Spring, No Sad Songs.

After being in an early version of Duran Duran (but not recording with them) and several synth pop records in the 80's under the name Tin Tin, Duffy made four records as part of The Lilac Time (which for all intents and purposes was him plus his brother now even more so) THE LILAC TIME, PARADISE CIRCUS, & LOVE FOR ALL, and ASTRONAUTS. They are all brilliant (CIRCUS being my favorite) showcasing Duffy's singing and largely acoustic, sometimes Byrds-y shimmering guitar as well as banjos, pedal steel guitars, strings, and other accompaniments. As a songwriter, Duffy documents love in perspective, the after effects of love with a empathic eye and an open heart.

After the first four records, Duffy broke the Lilac Time up for a period and made three albums under his own name - MUSIC IN COLORS (with Nigel Kennedy), DUFFY, and I LOVE MY FRIENDS. COLORS showcases an army of strings, DUFFY is produced by Mitch Easter and features a variation on a Big Star type of Southern Power Pop sound. FRIENDS is the best of the three as it is the most varied in sound and consistent in songwriting and features among the guests Andy Partridge and members of Blur and Elastica.

After that, he reformed The Lilac Time. Of the reformed Lilac records, as I noted above, LOOKING FOR A DAY IN THE NIGHT is the only great one until now. Duffy also made a collaboration record in 2000's with Nick Rhodes under the name The Devils which is moody and nice.

Duffy's music is a real hidden treasure, beautiful, literate, exquisitely produced.


Aquaman is one of my favorite DC Comic characters so I am sad to say I really don't like the look of the Aquaman in the upcoming Batman/Superman film- Tattoos, a long beard (never liked the 90's bearded Aquaman) he looks more like a South Pacific Islander than the King of Atlantis. However, even worse is I have just read the main villain for the Aquaman standalone movie that follows is going to be Ocean Master - Aquaman's half-brother Orm. Now Orm is a decent villain, kind of Loki-ish to Aman's Thor....But Aquaman's worst enemy, his Joker, his Green Goblin, his Red Skull, his Bullseye is Black Manta. He's done the worst damage including murdering Aquaman's young son in the late 70's. I hope they will reconsider and make Black Manta the villain of the Aquaman film.

I am looking forward to seeing how they render the Red Tornado on this week's upcoming episode of Supergirl. Always felt that DC Comics introduced the silver age-to-present day Red Tornado to compete with Marvel's The Vision (both are synthetic life forms) but unlike the Vision who was a really complex figure that Marvel used to explore what is the essence of life, what is being alive, Red Tornado was a secondary character with mildly interesting powers....I have not seen the New 52 version so hopefully they have finally developed the character. I do like the Red Tornado as a comic book hero. The trailer and still photos for the TV version look good.


Have read The Calculator is coming later this season on ARROW. He's a good DC Comics villain with a lot of potential. The original storyline where they introduced him in Detective Comics fighting a series of heroes in order to calculate their weaknesses before Batman himself was superb. Even better if he wears the cheesy outfit! .

Thursday, November 26, 2015


THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE is not a show that one can binge watch despite all the episodes being available at the same time. It is far too balanced in pacing, far too detailed,far too plot driven. It rewards a slow taking in not ripping through it like a long movie.

As I was watching, I was trying to recall the book by Phillip K Dick which I read many years ago. The key point in divergence between our reality and CASTLE'S reality wherein the Germans and the Japanese won World War II and subsequently split the USA with the Germans controlling the East and the Japanese the West with a neutral zone in between wasn't so much a German development of the nuclear bomb but the assassination of FDR in 1933 (which failed in our reality) and replacement by an isolationist that failed to get out of the depression and got into the war much too late.

I found the overall story interesting because it isn't just alternative history but about alternate realities as well as the season finale showed - Reminds me very much of the show FRINGE in that regard.

Some other moments - 1.) In episode seven the look of contempt the butler gives the groveling antiquities dealer in the wealthy Japanese customer's home 2.) The VE Day celebrations with Nazified swastika American flags 3.) The scene in the first episode where it is revealed why the air is heavy with soot.

The actors are almost superfluous. They are all good in their roles but the overall look of the show is the real star - Meticulous and detailed in its use of Nazi and Imperial Japan Iconography transplanted to a conquered America.

My only complaint is the dark look of the cinematography - makes for eye strain. Even when this is shot outdoors, still feels like it's at night. A little lighting wouldn't hurt anybody!

And also props to Hiro Kinagawa who plays a Yakuza boss in a couple episodes. He has also recently had repeating roles in HEROES REBORN and IZOMBIE. Guess Hollywood is short of older male Japanese actors. 



In the wake of Turkey downing a Russian plane, RT News is running a number of damaging stories including that the Russian pilot was on the Syria side of the border at the time he was shot down and that the shooting down of a Russian plane might have been planned in advance. IN addition, Russia is releasing information that backs up what everyone already knew - Turkey is a recipient of oil from ISIS.

In addition, the late Serena Shim, an Iranian American Press TV reporter, filed news stories that revealed that Turkey was shipping in foreign Jihadist fighters into Syria in trucks labeled as NGO like the World Food Organization. Shim died in a very suspicious car accident in Turkey after reporting tis. Both the other driver and his vehicle have disappeared and there were no witnesses.

The truth is Turkey is the local boss, the junior partner after the USA and Israel in the creation and maintaining of ISIS.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan both as Prime Minister from 2003 to 2014 and as president from 2014 is symbolic of the weird twisted relationships countries have in that part of the world, the almost contradictory policies they practice, enemy of my enemy is my friend type of thinking.

Erdogan has publicly seemed to adopt a harder line on Israel's treatment of the Palestinians (although nothing has changed beneath the surface as far as the joint Israeli-Turkish military relationship goes) including allowing Gaza flotillas to leave from Turkish ports. He has also pushed more Islamist type laws seemingly going against Turkey's more secular history. At the same time, he has continued the repression of the Kurds who seek their own state, a large chunk of which is in present day Turkey.  Turkey was also part of George W Bush's "Coalition of the Willing" that invaded Iraq.

And of course he is funding and arming and helping ISIS in every way partly for greed (oil) but also partly along with the above examples as power play to be a leader in the Islamic world. This is a pivot from Turkey in NATO and as part of Europe to Turkey as part of the Middle East.

No one is buying it! Turkey is on the wrong side of most important issues and their surface fealty to Islam and issues like Palestinians are not particularly convincing, window dressing for the media. Let's hope Russia acts soon and bloodies their nose a bit. Thrash ISIS now then Israel and one day Turkey too!


Monday, November 23, 2015


Season One of JESSICA JONES is superb. Even better than its sister show DAREDEVIL. I liked DARDEVIL too but in retrospect it felt padded at times - Could have wrapped it up in 7 or 8 episodes, didn't need 13 eps. whereas so far in JONES every moment counts, something interesting going on all the time. My thoughts on DAREDEVIL are here

Krystin Ritter is a very good Jones - Always enjoyed her work in the past like the mayor's flighty daughter in VERONICA MARS and SPOILER one of the villains in the reunion movie and as Jessie's doomed junkie girlfriend in BREAKING BAD. Mike Colter is a decent Luke Cage although I prefer the 70's afro Cage. David Tennant steals the show as Kilgrave, more of a spoiled stunted childman than a supervillain. He is more than a caricature - Quite a deep take on what was a second rate comic book villain until the JONES miniseries in the 2000's (which this show is partly based on).

Small complaints - Jones power which was ever evolving in the comics is not consistent one moment she can beat up a bar full of guys and lift a car, the next moment three guys with cattle prods can defeat her but in the comics they explained that as a result of the still ongoing affects of the accident that gave her powers. Also the Netflix series is more about humanizing heroes and villains but it would be nice see Kilgrave as he looks in the comics - completely purple (his origin is different here than the comics which deals also with why his skin turned purple) . His supervillain name is actually The Purple Man.

The sensitive theme of sexual assault is dealt with in a very candid non-exploitative manner. This is a show about power in relationships, from Kilgrave as mind controlling rapist to the lesbian lawyer trying to ditch her first wife for a younger second wife to the overprotective overmedicated Sgt Simpson (who is the villain Nuke in the comic )and Trish Walker. (who becomes Hellcat in the comic) At times, this is the most adult of all comics based shows as it has found the elusive path to introducing mature themes into what is a young person's genre and making it feel like part of the story. Brilliantly executed!

Thursday, November 19, 2015


In the wake of the Paris bombings, France felt the need to do something and so bombed Syria. This was like the USA bombing the Sudan after Al Qaeda struck American embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998 and like that action (one that was cathartic and meant to show the relative toughness of a nation), it was a meaningless gesture.

In reality, the US bombed a a pharmaceutical factory killing a night watchman and causing many other death by depriving Sudanese of life saving drugs. They have never provided any hard evidence that this site was connected to terrorism.

The French bombing of Syria was a similar empty gesture. France, by all accounts, bombed a museum, a stadium, and medical clinics, and the areas that were actual Jihadi training camps they did manage to hit had already been ravaged by weeks of Russian bombing.

Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin used the G-20 Summit to challenge America and the West to really take out ISIS and call them out for creating and financing ISIS in the first place . This was a clever move as the public face of America might be all about waging war on ISIS, the intelligence and defense communities, who are responsible for the creation of ISIS (as I have noted in past posts), are still more interested in regime change of Syria's Assad and creating disorder to strengthen American hegemony.

There is only one nation leading the fight against the Western creation ISIS and that is Russia. America can lie and hesitate and puff the chest and rain down ad hominem insults on Putin but we know who the heroes are and who is the evil empire (the ones who started all this).


In the wake of Paris, there have been a lot of debate about immigration of Syrians to America.

I believe that whether or not a country takes in refugees from a man-made crisis (like a civil war) should be based primarily on one thing - How much did that country have to do with the crisis in question?

Since America but not only America -Britain, France, Germany etc. basically created ISIS (recruited them, funded them, trained them) then they have the moral responsibility to take in the resulting refugees. In the words of Colin Powell "You break it you bought it".

Where I live , Malaysia (which had nothing to do with this and is going through an economic downturn) is going to be taking in 3,000 refugees over the next couple years which I applaud them for.

Too bad morally bankrupt and historically ignorant America is not on the same level of common decency as many of the countries around the world.

Saturday, November 14, 2015


The French Prime Minister Hollande has given a press conference where he blamed ISIS for the Paris attacks. I think he needs to point the finger at himself ( and by that I mean all the West especially. the USA and also Israel)- They created ISIS!....The Frankenstein Monster has escaped from the laboratory and is now rampaging through the countryside

If in fact it was ISIS that is responsible for the Paris attacks, blame the United States (and allies). They funded them, they trained them, they helped give them a base to operate from. The most underreported story of the last year is the lawsuit by Judicial Watch that forced the release of Department of Defense memos and other documents that show 1.)The US knew there was no real Syrian resistance and it was all Al Qaeda and other Jihadists (what would morph into ISIS) 2.) That supporting such a group would eventually create a mini-nation, a haven for them which is what has happened in parts of Syria and Iraq. The smoking gun ....

The Iraq War started all this (and George W Bush and Dick Cheney are indeed war criminals) but ISIS happened under Obama and I consider this (the creation of ISIS) an impeachable offense. Yes, it's time to talk about impeaching Obama.

While the US brags about killing Jihadi John whom I've always suspected was a creation of imaginative propaganda - Hey at least it's a break from killing women and children with drones, Russia continues the job of destroying ISIS completely! So the West should get out of the way of Russia ending ISIS.

I'd like to end with a modest proposal - All Western leaders that were involved in the creation of ISIS should resign immediately. Obama, Cameron, Hollande, Netanyahu, and anyone else who is guilty of this should take responsibility and tender your resignation immediately!

Thursday, November 12, 2015


Marco Rubio's comment during the Republican Debate yesterday that "America needs more welders and less philosophers" got me thinking.

Of course not everyone can or is able or is interested in going to college. There is nothing shameful about a job that requires vocational training but where Rubio is wrong is in implying that philosophy is useless.

I took a number of philosophy courses as an undergraduate including Contemporary Moral Issues, Introduction to Ethics, Introduction to Logic, and Introduction to Existentialism and reducing this to a utilitarian mindset (what are their uses?) I would say they specifically benefited me by making me a better writer. This was done in two ways

1.) By forcing me to back-up every argument I made in writing with examples and by addressing what was a false comparison so as to make sure the examples cited were germane.

2.) By teaching me analytical skills - What something means rather than what someone says or what they may be trying to say (helps with writing fiction and even poetry as well as grading student papers as a teacher).

Also basic composition skills such as paragraph structure, constructing a topic sentence etc. were often re-enforced sometimes even better explained by philosophy instructors. I would say some philosophy courses were as useful as any pure writing course I took.


Watched the most recent Republican debate and it seemed like Rand Paul finally got his message out there. An excellent night for him. 

Some good points he got across....

1.) It's hypocritical to complain about government spending but exempt military spending from your argument. It's not conservative to spend a lot of money PERIOD. Nice to see him slap down that twerp Marco Rubio on this - Rubio can't even balance his checkbook or make his mortgage payments much less find his ass with both hands.

2.) A no fly zone over Syria with the Russians already there is not just some philosophical discussion. It will result in conflict, boots on the ground to back up a no-fly zone, and maybe war. Also Paul reminded everyone that Hillary Clinton's position on this is exactly the same as the neo-cons - Rubio/Bush/Fiorina etc. and the United States were the ones who originally created ISIS.

3.) The Federal Reserve through artificially creating booms and busts and inflating/deflating currency is a major cause of income inequality. Personally, I think the Federal Reserve is unconstitutional and illogical - Currency should be backed up collateral instruments not by thin air. I know Ron Paul also believes in this -End the Fed!....Rand is almost there but not quite -still nice to hear though.

4.) Once again reminding everyone he opposed the Iraq War from the beginning....Paul needs to let out his inner non-interventionist libertarian more often.

The problem with Rand Paul's presidential campaign, at least up until now, is that his strategy of moderating and triangulating his Libertarian views with conservative Republican positions satisfy no one. He lost the non-interventionist coalition his father created and failed to connect with conservatives that would be more likely to vote for someone like Ted Cruz.

Down in the polls but holding steady (unlike say Jeb Bush who is dropping like a stone), can he capitalize on this debate performance? The thing is this year with so many candidates in the race and so much volatility plus the presence of Donald Trump and Ben Carson, there really is a niche for someone with Paul's positions especially on foreign policy.

Paul needs to let his libertarian freak flag fly....Here are some suggestion - He has already talked of decriminalizing marijuana, he should take it one step further - give full voiced support to drug legalization....He has unfortunately shown fealty to Israel (like every other US senator) but I think he should publicly question how much aid they should be given by the USA. He has already done this but backed off when criticized. He should continue speaking out on privacy/surveillance issues such as those related to the NSA and Edward Snowden and also the war crimes of drone strikes.

It's not too late for Rand although he has his work cut out for him.

Friday, November 6, 2015


Had the opportunity to read the first eight issues of Marvel's new Squirrel Girl series, a great character that definitely deserves her own comic book. I have to say this is the best new comic book character series I have read since The Sentry's two 2000 era miniseries. An excellent combination of humor and heroics. Reminds me a bit of Howard the Duck but HTD always leaned more on the humor side. Squirrel Girl is equally in both camps. What I liked - Her social media narrative which begins some of the stories and includes contributions from other heroes (The Hulk is hilarious), her bizarre , epic battle with Galactus, the odd but cool supporting characters as well as the many superhero/super villain cameos (Kraven the Hunter in particular).


The running joke of Squirrel Girl is her defeat of the most powerful Marvel characters such as Thanos, Dr. Doom, and the Avengers. We don't see how this happens but rather the aftermath when they are laying on the ground defeated. This new series gives her the framework of attending college and a friend in the form of her hipster-ish black roommate. There is also a potential love interest in Chipmunk Hunk, a fellow hero and student at the same college.

I wouldn't mind seeing a Squirrel Girl animated TV show. I feel that this would be the best venue for her rather than a movie or live action TV show as it would allow her to be herself rather than an awkward live construct that would not satisfy the faithful.