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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

Monday, June 29, 2009


Late last Saturday afternoon, I was working in my garden next to the fence that separates my house from my neighbor’s attempting to detach a couple of palm tree fronds from overhanging wires when one palm tree frond snapped back….In the process of ducking, I fell and sprained my ankle (and also cut my finger on the fence and skinned my knee).

It was very swollen and I went to see a doctor and also took Monday off from work….I guess the Indian prophecy I once received about my feet giving me trouble is always in effect.


I should first say that I found the BORAT movie very funny although two hours with Borat were more than enough and I thought it definitely ran out of steam at the end….The Pamela Anderson part of the plot was not funny as what happened on the journey to meet her

Much funnier were the original Borat segments of the THE ALI G SHOW….Ten minute vignettes much more suited the character.

With Sasha Baron Cohen bringing a second character from THE ALI G SHOW, Bruno, to the big screen, I wanted to reflect on what I see as the true meaning of the Borat character and what Sasha Baron Cohen is really trying to criticize.

The school of humor Cohen comes from is the same as that employed in the 70’s sitcom ALL IN THE FAMILY or in some of the late 60’s and 70’s music of Randy Newman or that utilized by Stephen Colbert….That is to say he takes on a role of someone who mouths or otherwise communicates politically incorrect opinions to both force people to explore their own prejudices and also to sort of trick people into giving voice to their own prejudices.

This is an accepted and effective style of satire….However, what Cohen is really trying to express is the issue.

First off, who is Borat the somewhat clueless sort of innocent foreigner with his negative feelings about Jews and the place of women in society?….Is he really from Kazakhstan?....I’ve met a few people from Kazakhstan….They are very Asiatic, I would say Mongol in appearance with very little facial hair….They look absolutely nothing like Borat.

Second, Jewish people have very little history (if any)in Kazakhstan….There is no history of anti-Semitism or persecution because they’ve just never been a presence there.

I believe that Cohen picked Kazakhstan as Borat’s home because it was a country relatively few people in the West had heard of or knew anything about so he could say anything he wanted and get away with it.

I believe he did this because he couldn’t away with attacking his real target by name.

It’s important to mention who Sasha Baron Cohen is….He is from one of England’s most affluent, old money Jewish families….Members of his family were involved in the creation of the state of Israel….Cohen himself is a Zionist.

This being the case, Borat with his droopy mustache, curly hair, generic Mediterranean accent, aversion to women, anti-Semitism IMO is meant to be an Arab….Everything Borat does from the language he uses to his deliberately awful wardrobe to the attitudes he conveys are in keeping with a cartoon caricature of an Arab.

While Cohen can get away with this, one subject he won’t touch is religion….Even if Borat is from Kazakhstan, it makes perfect sense for him to be a Muslim as that is the main religion there….However, Borat studiously avoids any talk of religion although he did imply he was a pagan in one episode and when confronted at a rodeo in the film with the question “are you a Muslim?” said “No”….None of this makes any sense when you consider who this character is supposed to be and it further seems like Cohen is trying to fudge the issue.

I don’t mind humor that is pointed or that chides the negative behaviors of a specific group although I am still waiting for the film or show about the true history of Israel and the mass murder and land theft it still continues to this day….I would also respect Cohen more is if he was honest about his real target.

As I said I do find Borat funny but watching a film made by a Zionist that pokes fun at Arabs and indulges in stereotyping no matter how cleverly it is hidden behind something else is a bit like watching a film from the early part of the last century wherein all the African-American roles are played by white people in black face.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


I’ve always considered Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina one of the “good” Republicans….That is someone more in keeping with Barry Goldwater’s legacy of true limited government….It isn’t necessarily what I believe in but it is principled and non-hypocritical….I also had hoped that a Mark Sanford presidential campaign could pry his party away from the grip of the neo-conservatives as Sanford’s reputed view of the world is supposed to be a lot more Ron Paul than Dick Cheney.

However, all of that is for naught due to Sanford’s bizarre mistress escapade in Argentina ….It’s funny the view we have of public figures….This is not something I would have ever have associated with him in a million years.

But it does go along with my belief that even a ”good” Republican is stuck in the thrall of religious hypocrisy….The Republican Party has set itself up in America as the watchdog of personal morality therefore creating a situation that when prominent Republicans are caught in affairs, infidelity, and other personal scandals there is the extra weight of hypocrisy added to their troubles.

Of course, how moral is a party that backed a president for the last years who went to a war on the basis of a lie and killed thousands of Iraqis as well as US servicemen unnecessarily?

The bottom line is the Republican Party is morally bankrupt and composed of sexual deviants masquerading as family men, hypocrites who use religion to justify war, prejudice, others who talk of God but spend most of their time on legislation to make the rich richer and the poor poorer.

In other words the Republican Party is scum.

Now that Sanford’s out, I am looking forward with great glee to Newt Gingrich attempting to sell himself to the values voters in the Republican base….This will be the same Gingrich who asked his first wife for a divorce when she was in the hospital just having had cancer surgery….The same Gingrich who while he was conducting impeachment proceedings on Bill Clinton for lying about his relationship with intern Monica Lewinsky under oath, was cheating on his second wife with an intern, a woman more than thirty years younger than him….The same Gingrich who later converted to Catholicism so he could annul his second marriage and marry the intern.

Aside from his toeing the line of on the usual family values BS, Gingrich is wrong on many other issues and often speaks without knowing what he is talking about.

A recent example of this was his comments on the Uyghurs released from Guantanamo Bay and how they should just be sent back to China.

I used to work in a language school in Kuala Lumpur and had a number of Uyghur students as Malaysia has an arrangement with China that allows them to come here and study….Coming from China’s most

Westward province Xinjiang, they are Muslims and not ethnically Chinese being closely related to the peoples of the Central Asian Republics such as Uzbecks and Kazakhs. However, unlike the peoples of the Central Asian Republics, the Uyghurs had the misfortune of being inside China instead of the Soviet Union and so do not have their own country even though a clear argument could be made that Xinjiang contains the historical nation of the Uyghurs.

How they are treated by the Chinese is shameful….Besides doing what they do in Tibet which is move more and more ethnic Chinese into the region so as to take resources away and dilute the Ugyhur population, they are also forced to take Chinese names and give up their actual names under severe penalty….Even worse are the usual human rights violations committed by the Chinese including torture and murder ….Mosques are often targeted for destruction fanning religious inspired violence and a burgeoning insurgency.

Now I don’t pretend to know the level of Al Qaeda involvement in Xinjiang but I do know Chinese persecution of the Ugyhurs long precedes the appearance of Osama Bin Laden….I also feel if the Ugyhurs were Buddhist instead of Muslim the world would be a lot more up in arms on their situation like they are rightly about Tibet.

The Uyghurs just released from Guantanamo Bay were kept there based on Chinese intelligence…. Now I’m sorry but I just don’t trust Chinese intelligence….I find the totalitarian hybrid fascist/communist state China as odious as Islamic fundamentalist terrorist organizations.

Newt Gingrich of course has one foot in the neo-conservative camp and one foot in the Nixon/Kissinger CFR “Let’s get rich in China” camp….It’s the worst of both worlds foreign policy-wise.

For those interested in helping the plight of the Uyghurs….

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


The poetry of Kenneth Patchen contains perhaps the best balance I have ever read between day to day concerns, the little details of childhood, relationships, setting and the political concerns of an exterior world such as injustice and poverty….Take for example “The Orange Bears” wherein descriptions of childhood toy bears are buried under what it means to grow up as a poor child in West Virginia coal country in among strike breaking and the soot and grime and pollution of mining town life.

Even better is “Crossing on Staten Island Ferry” wherein a moment of peace between two lovers on a ferry (which is perhaps the most romantic of settings with the lights of the city as a backdrop) is entwined with a fervent plea for no more unnecessary deaths (a veiled reference to war).

Patchen also has a gift for finding the truth in every scene….His work is every word correct….Not too raw in a way that makes one wince and neither is it “poetic” in a flowery too wordy way.

All in all, amazingly satisfying poet to read especially because of the way his sentences follow one another.

Here are a number of Patchen’s poems….

and here’s Henry Miller’s well-known essay on Patchen that introduced me to him….

Saturday, June 20, 2009


I have no money, no resources, no hopes. I am the happiest man alive.- Henry Miller

I recently purchased at a jumble sale a copy of THE HAPPIEST MAN ALIVE by Mary V. Dearborn, a biography of Henry Miller my favorite American writer of all time….This has reminded how important in my own life the writings of Henry Miller have been.

Miller is the writer that perhaps influenced me most in a way apart from the technical aspects of writing and all the parts of a book, that is he didn’t just influence me with writing but influenced me personally, influenced how I lived my life.

When I first encountered Miller in my late teens, what I took from his writing was the compromise one must enter into if one wishes to be a writer and chooses to take a non-traditional route to get there as opposed to Ivy League New York City connections but I also chose the path of least resistance.

When I ran into Miller again, in my early 30’s, life was killing me slowly pulling me down inexorably, the boredom of my corporate flunky job, the contempt I was feeling for my co-workers, the long term relationship with a woman I should have gotten out of years before and which was stifling me, the material possessions that we are deluded into thinking as happiness and the desire to write which had taken a backseat to my mundane day to day existence.

Not to mention my feelings about America….Materialistic, artificial repressed immature America which could put a damper on even the greatest inspiration.

In the end I chucked it all….Now today happily married, living overseas, teaching for a living (which I enjoy), rejecting the material life for the life of the mind, I’m not quite there yet as I haven’t published any of my books but I’m getting there.

And I owe it all to Henry Miller.

TROPIC OF CANCER with that great opening paragraph, perhaps the greatest of any I’ve ever read, of which I put a few lines at the beginning of this post is really to me a book about freedom….Cutting all ties and maintaining nothing to what end? Why, the life of a writer!

TROPIC OF CAPRICORN takes back into biography to show us the roots of Henry Miller….It is biography as inspiration, biography as model for artistic life, it is biography interchangeable from fiction.

Now, Henry Miller also had a tremendous sense of humor….There are two scenes that will always stick out in my mind from TROPIC OF CAPRICORN….the one where the narrator and a friend dress a third friend as a baby and wheel him around town insulting people and the even greater scene where the narrator is confronted by a panhandler who after he offers him more money than what he was asking for reacts with anger and refuses to take it.

I can’t discuss Miller without discussing sex….I would have to say there is something in his writing that explains the basic need for an adult to maintain a sexual relationship with or without the trappings of marriage or a committed relationship that contains more clarity than any other writing I’ve ever read on this subject.

I’ve always maintained he also uses sex as a hook to keep the reader interested so he won’t lose him when he goes off on philosophical flights of fancy and gigantic digressions on literature, travel, and any other number of subjects.

Happiness to me is travelling light, very little in the way of material possessions and rejection of materialism for its own sake….THE HAPPIEST MAN ALIVE makes it clear that this was always first and foremost how Henry Miller lived his life and even when he became well-known in his 50’s he still was short of money.

Success to me is happiness not the things that are associated with happiness….Henry Miller understood this more than anyone….The basic things that makes us feel good-artistic stimulation, sex, doing a job or a task we enjoy….These are what are important.


Today, Ipoh International School’s debate team participated in a forum event at the Ipoh YMCA.

The structure of the event was like this-There were seven teams and the topic was crime….Each team was to present a forum on a different type of crime….These were selected by draw beforehand….IIS’s topic was kidnapping.

Most schools (including us) opted for a mock talk show or other public event wherein a moderator interviewed two people on the subject….One being an expert on the topic and the other being someone with some real life experience on the topic.

Ours was a mock talk show called EYE ON CRIME with a moderator and two guests- a college professor who is an expert on kidnapping and a reformed kidnapping mastermind.

The bottom line is IIS were the best team according to the rules of the event….IIS had the best framework for our presentation as well as the best command of the English language….Our speakers were also very funny and were able to speak from memory and from improvisation never looking at a script.

The team that did win had good information and a polished moderator but the other two speakers were very dull and had to sometimes refer to a written script.

In addition, one of the rules of this event was that points were not just derived from your presentation but also questions you posed to the other team (Every group had to field one question from every other team at the end of their presentation)….Our questions were all excellent-hard hitting and entertaining….What really bothered me was the team that did win didn’t even pose any questions the first two rounds….There should have been some penalty for this!

This is now the second time IIS has been denied an obvious victory in a debating type event….I put this down to one or more causes 1.) Existing ties between the winning school and one or more of the judges in other words corruption 2.) A failure to understand the level of English used by IIS debaters which is significantly more like a native speaker’s level of fluency by illiterate Manglish oriented judges 3.) A pre-existing prejudice against some of our debaters who are not Malaysians.

I honestly think we were cheated today….I think the three participants from IIS were significantly better than all the other teams put together….I think it might be time for IIS to compete in events like these not in the usual Ipoh channels but perhaps with other international schools maybe in Kuala Lumpur etc. where our language, creativity, and sense of humor will be understood and there will be less of a chance of corruption….I’ve already discussed this with the principal and we will work on finding out about the feasibility of this next term

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Last weekend, I was buying a couch at a local furniture store and while I was waiting for the paperwork to be written up, I was watching television….This is rare for me as I do not own a television.

I found myself watching a reality program wherein a group of budding fashion designers created dresses, competed to use their models in fashion shows etc….One unlucky contestant is voted off at the end of each program.

What I noticed during the interviews with the contestants was the excessive nomenclature used such as “blue color palettes”….All kinds of stupendous adjectives utilized as jargon.

That is what any type of creation is now….It does not exist outside the goal of making money therefore it must follow the buzzword-itis that I have written about on this blog before.

In general, as all the arts have become more commercial, more about making a buck less about uninhibited free expression, I have lost interest in them….I now feel a job as a teacher or working in a factory can be just as important to the scheme of things as a musician or a writer or an actor.

As a person in their forties, I now value the use of something, it’s immediate value in satisfying a basic human need or in providing comfort for the user over artistic sell-out tripe (although a great novel can still put me in a good mood for weeks).

I’m not sure if that’s maturity or the final triumph of cynicism.


Sarah Palin’s family is a reality show….Unwed teenage daughters, feuding kin, corruption, alleged sexual affairs….Sarah Palin herself is like waitress at the graveyard shift at a backwater Denny’s truckstop….I believe she probably has a tattoo of a dragon on her ass and nipple rings.

I’m not going to go over again what a complete and utter idiot I think she is….I’ve already done that here and also here .

In addition, there is a story going round the Internet that the governor has used the term “Sambo” to describe President Obama.

God help us if she ever became president….She represents the complete triumph of image over actual achievement and accomplishment.

Culturally speaking, David Letterman was one of my heroes growing up….I found his sense of humor offbeat and innovative and in so many ways, he was and is much more of an anti-Hollywood counter-culture figure than Sarah Palin….There was nothing more satisfying in the 1980’s than seeing Letterman cut down pompous Hollywood types and bite the hand that fed him repeatedly.

Then he got older and it seemed he grew tired and perhaps a bit burned out until 09/11….
Then Letterman seemed to find himself again….Seeing him chastise Dick Cheney (He doesn’t really care about the USA and Letterman called him on it) and also watching him thrash Bill O’Reilly who reminds me of an angry guy with Down’ Syndrome who clears the tables at Wendy’s (“May I take your tray, sir? What do you mean you are not finished with your baked potato?”) has been very satisfying.

The recent comments Letterman made which were part of a very funny top 10 list that Sarah Palin has tried to misconstrue into dirty comments about her underage daughter were in fact aimed at her older daughter and were very very right on.

Sarah Palin is a huge hypocrite when it comes to the subject of teaching abstinence in public schools….Her own family (and she was apparently pregnant herself when she married) is living proof that it does not work.

I think this whole controversy was manufactured by the Palins’ handlers to keep her in the limelight but let me just sum it up this way….

David Letterman = edgy ground breaking comic genius

Sarah Palin = lowlife piece of sh*t (Is it okay to use the term white trash?)


The top ten tennis players of all time in order (my opinion);

1.) Roger Federer
2.) Pete Sampras
3.) Rod Laver
4.) Roy Emerson
5.) Bjorn Borg
6.) Fred Perry
7.) Don Budge
8.) Andre Agassi
9.) Bill Tilden
10.) Ivan Lendl

Some thoughts….
Roger Federer and Pete Sampras’ records speak for themselves….not much to say there

The fact Rod Laver won his two grand slams by winning three grand slam tournaments on grass and one on clay detracts slightly from the historical record….I still think his record is formidable(won each grand slam tournament at least twice) and I would almost put him in a tie with Sampras.

Roy Emerson won both singles and doubles grand slam titles in all four grand slams….When you add his grand slam titles in singles and doubles together it’s impressive and unmatched….He won more grand slam singles titles (12) than anybody except Federer and Sampras.

Bjorn Borg IMO is the greatest clay courter of all time….Also his record in five set matches and his five Wimbledons in a row are underrated.

Fred Perry won all four grand slams in his career for a total of eight titles….He also had a tremendous Davis Cup record and a really effective unorthodox forehand which was not unlike a ping pong shot.

Don Budge was the first person to win the grand slam….That deserves a mention.

I never cared much for Andre Agassi when he first appeared on the scene….I thought he was all showbiz and seemed to have no testicular fortitude in close matches and would lose them….My friends and I jokingly called him Fagassi….That was until he won all four grand slams plus the Olympics in a lengthy career where he seemed it like he won everything at least once….He has my respect.

Bill Tilden won ten grand slams and had an amazing Davis Cup record….There are those knowledgeable in tennis history that say he had the greatest serve of all time….Supposedly, he could crank it up to 160 MPH with a wood racquet.

Ivan Lendl’s open era record of most grand slam finals reached was recently tied by Federer (and I’m sure it will be broken very soon)….Still in a lengthy career where he won eight grand slams (only not winning Wimbledon), he was an extremely dominant number one player who is now watching Fed break all of his records in that area.

Monday, June 15, 2009


I’m not just saying this because I am proud of my Year 10 class performance (although I am very much and feel they were perhaps the best of the night) but there was something about this year’s production that I liked more than last year.

While last year’s production was more scripted, more tightly run and was the result of more time spent in practice and preparation, this year’s production on a very tight deadline due to the WASC project felt more spontaneous and free….It definitely felt that the students (and I mean senior school students here) were performing acts of their own choice rather than something picked for them by teachers.

I also felt that the ending sequence of performances, basically everything after the interval, were all high energy and gradually raised the audience’s excitement to a fever pitch where as last year there was no such sequencing and the show died away until the finale.

In any event, a fantastic night….Very enjoyable!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


I was curious after all I’ve read about Taslima Nasrin whether or not she is actually a good writer or whether or not she is just rubbish….The unfortunate victim of her own hype and the fact that reading one of her books has become a political act associated with freedom of speech and fighting censorship and religious based persecution by fundamentalist zealots.

So I read the first volume of her autobiography MEYEBELA MY BENGALI GIRLHOOD by Taslima Nasrin….I judge this book two ways…. One of course being how it is written stylistically….The other being does it accomplish the goal set out for it….In other words, Taslima Nasrin uses her own childhood as a means of exploring how Islam causes women to be treated as second class citizens (using her own country Bangladesh as the model).

Taking the latter goal first, I’m not sure Nasrin is entirely successful….Me reading this book is preaching to the converted….I don’t have any problem with telling the truth about religion….It isn’t just Islam….Any religion taken to the extreme or allowed to mingle with government without the protections of a secular democratic state would be just the same as what is described about Islam in this book….There is nothing that holds the world back more in the areas of social justice, science, really any area that humans wish to move forward and advance themselves in than religion.

And there are a number of powerful scenes in this book….From the way Islam enshrines a man’s dominance over women to how it covers up sexual harassment (Nasrin herself is molested twice by two different uncles) by not allowing women to complain….One of my favorite parts of the book is the scene where Neal Armstrong lands on the moon and her mother tells her this is nonsense and devil talk….The anti-science attitude of Islam is well described here.

However, while I feel the Islam part is handled well, it’s not the only motivation for events happening the way they do….Other striking scenes in the book are the ones where Taslima’s mother abuses the series of domestic servants she has throughout the book….This takes the form of slaps and kicks and never paying them the wages they have earned….Taslima’s parents are well-off by Bangladeshi standards (her father is a doctor) and their position in society allows them to get away with this.

I guess it’s the chicken and egg question but the question of socio-economic justice and disparity are just as important societal factors….In other words, not at all mistreatment can be attributed to religion….Some have even deeper roots such as class structure..

One of the more interesting characters in the book is Taslima’s Uncle Siddique who questions Islam, the way the poor are treated and a number of other issues that are not normally questioned….He is described as later becoming a Communist and editing a Communist magazine.

Technically speaking, Taslima Nasrin is a good writer filled with passion who occasionally misses a few of the finer points….For example, sometimes she introduces a character but doesn’t flesh them out enough so when we see their eventual fate we don’t care as much….Also she will introduce a large number of characters at the beginning of a scene who are important but not tell us how they relate to her until later in the chapter or even in the next chapter….Still, her mind holds many vivid memories that she ably records.

I particularly find her father, a walking contradiction, memorable….On one hand, a dictatorial tyrant who is also a philanderer cheating on Taslima’s mother throughout but on the other hand a doctor and a man who values education over all other things and encourages I would say more forces Taslima to do well in her studies….As Taslima’s two older brothers didn’t live up to expectations, she is expected to carry the mantle of physician forward (in real life, Taslima Nasrin was a doctor before she was a writer).

In the pages of MEYEBELA MY BENGALI GIRLHOOD , one can also see the birth of an independent thinker, a feminist for sure but I would say even more simply put someone who believes in basic human rights….I’m looking forward to reading further volumes of her autobiography.

For those who wish to support Taslima Nasrin…

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


I haven’t blogged at all about my favorite sport tennis either here or at my old blog However Roger Federer’s great victory has inspired me to start writing about tennis.

First off, Roger Federer’s finally winning the French Open should end all argument about his place in history….I recall all the hype in the early 90’s about Pete Sampras and the ad Nike ran for awhile featuring a very serious Sampras sitting at a changeover and his voice talking about his real opponent being history not other players….Well now Federer has tied his record of 14 grand slam singles titles and won the French Open (which Sampras never did) to boot.

Roger Federer is the greatest player in tennis history-end of story.

It is interesting to see how Federer and Sampras match up against each other….I think Sampras was the more powerful player with the bigger serve….His backhand was also slightly better.

However, Federer is a step or two quicker than Sampras with better anticipation, a better volley, and more varied stroke production….I also think his forehand is more consistent.

In addition, Sampras never really mastered topspin enough to be able to use it consistently….Federer can move between topspin and flatter shots effortlessly.

In Marvel Comics, there is an all-powerful superhero known as The Sentry whose power source is the fact he moves in time one second faster than everyone else….I think that’s the source of Federer’s power as well….There’s never been a player who has greater ball anticipation than Roger Federer….He seems to have a sixth sense as to where the next shot is going to go….I think that is the foundation of Roger Federer’s success.

Secondly, talk of Rafael Nadal being the greatest clay courter of all time are a step premature….He’s had an amazing last four and a half years(with four French Open victories) but consider this….Bjorn Borg played the French Open eight times and won it six out of those eight losing two times to the same man Adraiano Panatta (good trivia question)….Three out of the six times he won it he also won Wimbledon the same year by the way….Borg, Like Nadal, had a number of long, unbroken winning streaks on clay.

In my mind, Borg is still the greatest clay court player of all time but that’s not to say that Nadal could one day pass his achievements….I just think he has earn that title first.

Third, there is always some idiot commentator at every grand slam tournament who bemoans the poor state of American tennis and often the career of Andy Roddick….Just this morning, I read the nonsensical mutterings of someone who knows more about patriotism then tennis whining at length about Roddick’s failure to win more than one grand slam title.

Right there is a big misconception….When Roddick first appeared it was as if he was bathed in a golden light that robbed everyone of the power of analysis….According to the hype, he was the next big thing with his booming serve and power game….This only increased after he won his lone grand slam title at the US Open….However, Federer soon appeared thrashing Roddick every chance he got and it wasn’t long before Roddick started losing to lesser ranked opponents as well.

The problem is Andy Roddick, while possessing a miraculous serve, has a number of other serious problems in his game….It is well-known on the ATP Tour that you get Roddick’s serve back and start rallying with him and you have a better than 50% chance of winning the point….At some point, he will simply mistime the ball and make an unforced error….He’s a so so volleyer, his backhand’s not that good, and his concentration seems to come and go in important matches.

Andy Roddick’s not Sampras or Federer or even John McEnroe.

I would compare his career in the game to Michael Chang.

Consider this….Chang won his only grand slam title at the French Open early in his career….However, later he was the runner-up at the Australian Open, the US Open, and also at the French one time each.

Roddick won his only title so far at the US Open early in his career and was runner up at the US Open another time and at Wimbledon twice.

The reasons for this were different (Chang’s size and power was the problem for him) but Roddick is seriously overrated….The history books are full one time grand slam winners….Roddick’s nothing special….Maybe some people haven’t grasped that yet.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


The fanatical devotion to the late Ronald Reagan displayed by Republicans of all stripes as well as other Americans who view their lives through a prism of sentimentality rather than what really happens brings to mind North Koreans with their parades and rallies….A whole nation brainwashed by clever marketing and a television presidency carefully scripted and managed.

We are reminded again about this cult-like zeal this week as Nancy Reagan complains about being snubbed by President Obama….I’m not sure who she thinks she is that the current president has to kiss her pinky ring….If I was Obama I would tell her to kiss my ass!

The truth is Ronald Reagan was the nation’s first MTV president who communicated almost solely in soundbites and warm, fuzzy images and movie lingo tough guy talk….”The great communicator” dumbed down the communications process to the point where people didn’t bother scrutinizing his real record.

The Reagan years were a disaster for America domestically….Reagan’s deficit spending coupled with tax cuts on upper incomes in the mistaken view that if rich people are taxed less they will contribute more to the economy (A canard disproven time and time again by many economists including John Kenneth Galbraith) rather than hoard the money or invest it outside the country or spend it on things that don’t help the economy almost bankrupted America in the early 90’s and it took a Democratic president, Bill Clinton, to restore fiscal sanity much like what is happening now in 2009.

Ronald Reagan branded the poor as weak and lazy and basically declared open warfare on them….Domestic programs were slashed in order to give millionaires the chance to greedily cling to more of their wealth….Homelessness rose in the 1980’s and the quality of education in poorer neighborhoods dropped….One of Reagan’s legacies is the number of mentally ill people on the streets as he decimated the budget for state run mental institutions.

Ronald Reagan ignored AIDS when it first appeared not only condemning to death many Gay Americans but also hemophiliacs and others who rely on blood transfusions….His comments at the time were the usual Republican religious malarkey.

And it’s funny because Ronald Reagan, like many fellow Republicans, was a total hypocrite….The details of his life did not match the moral pose he struck….He was a distant father who couldn’t relate to any of his children and he was twice married….While fellow actors such as Jimmy Stewart and Clark Gable went and fought in World War II, Reagan stayed home and basically dodged the draft….The model for Vietnam era Repubs such as Dick Cheney, George Bush, and Dan Quayle….I can totally understand skipping Vietnam (although it’s strange if you support a war you won’t go fight in yourself) but World War II ???!!!! That’s borders on treason! And let’s not forget his second wife, back when she was aspiring actress/starlet Nancy Davis, was particularly well known as someone who made the round of casting couches and was renowned among perverse Hollywood royalty for a certain sex act she performed really well.

The Reagan myth, when broken down, rests largely on foreign policy….”Reagan is the man who won the Cold War” is what is said but the truth is more complicated….What Reagan did was force the Soviet Union into an arms race it couldn’t afford and then waited until it bankrupted itself….This would have happened anyway as the Soviet Union’s system was financially decrepit….It just would have taken longer….In the process, as I’ve already noticed, Reagan almost bankrupted America.

Reagan funded right wing insurgents in Nicaragua that seeked to topple a people’s revolution….He also funded right wing movements/governments in Guatemala and El Salvador where human rights violations and even genocide were commonplace without a peep from the US Government….Countries such as Indonesia, Chile, and South Africa (Apartheid era) were America’s buddies.

Human rights were decoupled from foreign policy in the Reagan years and it seems common sense often was as well…. In addition to the examples in the previous paragraph, Israel committed mass murder in Lebanon, America funded the Muhajeddin in Afghanistan including a young rich guy from Saudi Arabia named Osama Bin Laden, Iraq was goaded into a war with Iran (Saddam Hussein was our pal in those days) that resulted in a million people dead….At one point, the US, through what was known as Iran-Contra, was cynically funding both sides of the conflict hoping to up the body count.

Ronald Reagan himself I believe was nothing more than an actor, a ventriloquist’s dummy for powerful corporations and intelligence organizations….I believe he was mentally incompetent, basically senile for much if not all of his presidency….Alzheimers just doesn’t appear one day out of the blue but is indicated by a mental decline over a long period….Whenever Reagan spoke off the cuff or was not being watched by his handlers, pandemonium reigned….Anyone remember ”I’ve outlawed Russia. Bombing starts in ten minutes” or “Ketchup is a vegetable”?

My favorite Ronald Reagan story was about his Housing and Urban Development Secretary Samuel Pierce (The only African-American in his cabinet and the only cabinet secretary to last eight years)….Whenever Reagan met Pierce, he would refer to him as “Mr. Mayor” confusing him with then Mayor of Washington DC Marion Barry who is also black but looks nothing like Pierce.

The Reagan years for me were all about you are who you say you are rather than what you really are….This type of self-invention is at the heart of America’s complete absence of reality in how they view the world….Ronald Reagan was the first television president in that he was not really a real person but rather an almost totally created character….The way many in America view the years of his presidency is like remembering a TV show or movie one has seen in the past….Both are fiction with no basis in real life.


Navel gazing”is a slang term that means someone who is focused inwards in such a way as to be totally unnoticing or uncaring of the world around them….It is also a good way to describe much of the contents of THE DARK ROOM by Junnosuke Yoshiyuke.

First off, I don’t know much about Yoshiyuke….I discovered this book through one of those referral deals on a Japanese Literature sight you know the kind that says “If you enjoyed that book, you will also enjoy this one”….THE DARK ROOM is written in first person and the very real nature of the story and the anecdotes contained and the fact the narrator is also a writer leads me to believe it is at least semi-autobiographical.

THE DARK ROOM is about a guy who has an eye for the small details in life….There are a number of descriptive asides in this book both reminisces and brief descriptions of everyday situations….The narrator is a 44 year old man who’s wife died a few years before….However, his love for her had faded by this time due to the suspicion he had that she had cheated on him with another more famous writer when they were newly married (This is never confirmed or disproven).

Much of THE DARK ROOM is about the narrator’s casual relationship with three women; Maki who is actually a lesbian, Takao who leaves him to accept a marriage proposal, and Natsue a rich man’s mistress who has many other relationships on the side as well.

In the end, only one of the women is left to him and it is the one with her endless stories of past lovers who can feed his writer’s insularity and interest in the lives of others for creative purposes.

There are times when one is reading this book that you wonder why someone took the effort to write it in the first place….Its characters are largely unlikable or don’t leave much of a lasting impression….Its story which involves sex is not especially descriptively titillating or interesting…..There isn’t a lot of insight into the human condition here either….The narrator is a hollow man that allows life to happen to him and wallows in unfulfilling decadence.

However, what I did like about this book was the very Un-Japanese nature of the choices the narrator makes and the way he views life and the setbacks and tragedies, both big and little, that befall him on the way….Some of the ways he describes incidents remind me of one of my favorite Japanese writers Osamu Dazai (whom I promise I will write about one day) but unlike Dazai (who committed suicide), Yoshiyuke chooses life….He’s too hip and arch and detached to make a dramatic gesture like suicide….In that way, THE DARK ROOM, written in the early 1970’s, is very modern.

I also like his attention to detail although I think he goes overboard with the depraved side of his relationship with Natsue during the last 30 pages of the book….Truth is I could imagine sitting in a bar while the narrator tells me some of these stories….From a technical viewpoint, this is a unique novel, disjointed and narcissistic at times, yes, but enjoying the offbeat narrative style makes it worth the read.