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

Saturday, August 29, 2009


Every now and then, I like to see a movie that is comprised of nothing but lengthy scenes of ass kicking and taking names….That is someone, usually an avenging figure of some sort, going to town on evildoers and their assorted henchmen.

The Thai film FURY which I saw last night, although it has a bit of a slow start, more than satisfied my current appetite for this type of movie….It was a huge hit in Asia a couple of years back and I can see why….It’s a fantastic action film.

The story set-up is superfluous you only need to know a gangster’s girlfriend leaves him for another man which causes violence and more violence….This in turn leads her new beau (who is Japanese) to go back to Japan….The gangster moll discovers she is pregnant with his child which leads to one of the most unexpected, unlikely, and peculiar action heroes I have seen ever in a movie.

The daughter she gives birth to is autistic and rarely speaks, counts and sorts M&M’s by color, screams and shouts at the sight of flies, and is used in street performance by her adopted brother…. This consists of people throwing things at her head from apples to knives and her amazing ability to catch these objects.

Because you see Ah Sen, as she is called, is an autistic person who is very talented in one area like people who can play the piano really well or do complicated equations but can’t do the most basic human tasks such as feeding themselves or tying their shoes….The area she is talented in due to a kickboxing school next door which she used to watch for hours and her own practicing as well playing video games and watching martial arts movies is asskicking.

When her mother develops cancer and needs money for treatment, Ah Sen and her brother attempt to collect debts still owed her from when she was in the underworld….This leads to scenes of larger and larger groups of men being beaten to a pulp by 12 year old Ah Sen….This in turn brings in the sinister attentions of the original gangster who liked her mother and also Ah Sen’s father who comes back to help protect her.

Particularly impressive is the end sequence which seems to last for a long time wherein Ah Sen first clears a room of opponents than fights another retarded person whom she beats by mimicking then fights a series of opponents while scaling the side of a building and jumping back and forth between that and nearby elevated train tracks.

All in all, a very enjoyable action film that I imagine will be popular for years to come and that is not very nasty or bloody although the English subtitles on the version I saw were rubbish….They seemed to be just random words someone had thought of….I knew what was going on so finally ended up turning them off.


The other day as part of our week long teacher training we had a session with the new school counselor….It was a very interesting presentation and by far the best we had this week.

One interesting point that came up in a video we saw was that mental illness issues such as eating disorders, self-harming behaviors etc. are believe to be underreported in the UK.

This led me to ask the opposite question….Might the inverse be also true especially in America where I am from?

There is a tendency these days to diagnose everything….I believe the powerpoint presentation we saw called it “Overpatholigization”,

If a student can’t sit still in class well he must have ADD….If he is having trouble reading he must be dyslexic….If student is either too fat or too skinny, they must have a eating disorder rather than not eating properly or eating too much due to laziness and other self discipline factors.

The truth is I think real cases, that is people who have serious mental problems, are fairly rare….I think what is happening students who have issues with family, school, bullying etc. are introduced to discussions of these behaviors by well-meaning school authorities and by popular culture and see it as a way to get attention and so they start acting out these behaviors.

I don’t think a lot of these students would do these behaviors if they didn’t hear about them first.

Once again, I think Hollywood is partly to blame….It’s hip in tinseltown to have mental problems and talk about them ad nauseam….The recent case of Mischa Barton ( who I must admit I had never heard of prior this story) is a good example….

Now I had all four wisdom teeth pulled at once….It wasn’t a big deal and I was back at work the next day….Of course, I wasn’t a pampered Hollywood star.

Let me also say I do believe in mental illness (unlike the kooky Scientologists)….Conditions like Schizophrenia are physical conditions where the brain has an actual problem that can only be corrected through medication….I think these types of conditions are every rare among teenagers

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Just saw the film BRUNO….It’s hilarious and may be even better than BORAT….The level of humor is certainly more consistent throughout the film even the end (whereas I thought BORAT petered out at the end).

Anyway, there is a scene in the film where Bruno, in his never ending quest to be famous, adopts a black baby from Africa thus mocking Madonna, Angelina Jolie, and other celebrities who adopt babies in this way….In one scene, he goes on a talk show where they think he is a real person who has adopted a baby in this way….One of the audience accuses him of using his baby is an “accessory”.

There is an even more shocking scene right before that where he pretends to be doing photo shoot involving babies and interviews the parents of the babies who are auditioning to find out if they are okay with certain things….Here are some of the questions he asks “IS YOUR BABY OKAY WITH STINGING INSECTS SUCH AS WASPS, BEES OR HORNETS? IS YOUR BABY OKAY WITH HEAVY MACHINERY?” These parents hungry and salivating for any brush with fame readily agree to any number of horrible things (which I think was Sasha Baron Cohen’s point)….One even agrees to liposuction for her baby if it is too fat.

I recall back in the 90’s many of my female co-workers talked about their children as if they were accessories….Like New SUV’s or houses or even lesser purchases such as shoes or purses.

This can be attributed to America’s capitalist nature more than anything else….It’s dog eat dog….It’s not a far cry from that to babies as a source of income.

It’s also about status symbols….A womb is as much an indication of success as a swimming pool especially among working upwardly mobiles who marry later in life and often have problems conceiving.

This is what having a life that revolves around making money amounts to and what it has reduced humanity to.


In the middle of training week prior to the start of the school year next week and not feeling good due to dizzy spells….This is a problem I’ve blogged about before and one that finally caused my doctor to refer me for a CAT scan over the term break wherein they x-rayed my brain….Luckily, nothing was visible….A poem I wrote here entitled THE PEOPLE WHO KNOW DEATH dealt with the experience….Lying in that metal chamber with an IV needle implanted in the back of your hand shooting an illuminating fluid through your veins so the X-Ray can capture their locations and track the route is NOT a pleasant experience

I do have an inner ear imbalance which is brought on either by me being out of position physically (for example bending over suddenly) or any strong emotions such as anger….The other day I was moving furniture which led to the current spell….I have been prescribed blood circulation medicine and I am hoping that will get rid of this ailment once and for all.

Speaking of our training, yesterday we had a session on conflict (how to spot the warning signs, resolution etc.)….It was okay although I noticed something about the speaker/trainer that I’ve noticed before in other trainings he has done which is he loves the sound of his own voice and his responses to other people doesn’t show much in the way of empathetic or listening skills….I always get the feeling he’s a bit in love with himself.

Anyway, the activity in this session was coming up with an example of a conflict that occurred in school and how it was resolved….We were not supposed to use real names and refer to any employees involved anonymously….This was group work and one group (not ours) selected an employee who is no longer with school and a conflict that occurred because of her behavior (It was easy to guess her identity).

I could relate to their story as this brought to mind my own conflict with this employee and how on her last day we were all supposed to be smiles and good luck and best wishes….What do you do in the case when you really don’t feel that way about a fellow employee or a fellow student?

I don’t think you should force yourself to be phony but neither should you be rude….If someone’s a completely useless idiot then you shouldn’t have to talk to them but neither do you have to remind them of that to their face.

By the way, here’s my own story with this ex-employee (taken from a memo I gave the school which was completely ignored) ….Honestly, I’m counting the minutes until I leave IIS!!!!

I would like to relate two incidents that happened involving -------- both involving my club. I found her behavior in these situations unprofessional, rude, dishonest, idiotic, and highly irritating.

1.) The first occurred about two months ago the week prior to the WASC visit. I was in my club at the usual time on Wednesday afternoons when my home room Year 10B appeared and asked if they could wait in my room as the teacher who normally teaches them was not available as he was busy preparing a WASC powerpoint with the principal. I had no problem with this and agreed. A short while later, -------- showed up and wanted to know why all these people were in my room. She forced 10B to line up outside but then let them go back in as there was nowhere to take them. She ranted and raved for a few minutes and then left she said “to investigate further”. She looked absolutely foolish. After the club period was over, I informed both the teacher who was to have been teaching 10B and the principal what occurred as I did feel ------ inferred this was somehow my fault. At no time, did I blame anyone for what happened. The next day, the teacher who was to be with 10B told me that -------- had told her I was the angry one and she tried to say she was not concerned. This is an absolute lie! I think ------- must have realized how foolish she looked and attempted to cover herself. Luckily, all of 10B witnessed this incident and their recollection of events backs mine.

2.) Last Wednesday, I was to only be with my club for half the two hour period as I needed to rehearse with the team that competed with the YMCA forum on Saturday. This was agreed to by both principals. One principal also asked me to look after the rest of Year 10 as well. Actually, I ended up not seeing my club at all that day as the other principal wanted to take the opportunity to rehearse with the KBSM team (two of whom happen to be in my club). This was all fine by me. However, at the beginning of my club, I was again approached by -------- who demanded to know why I wasn’t in my club. She was extremely rude and ended our conversation, once I explained what was going on, by saying she would check with the principals to see “If my story was true”. Basically, she called me a liar!!!! I found out later that both principals had cleared this with her ahead of time so what’s the problem here?????

I found -------- both unprofessional and rude in these circumstances. She has lost all credibility with me. I’m very happy to no longer work with her.

I’m disabling comments on this post as I do not wish to get into the identity of the employee….

Friday, August 21, 2009


As the cat is now out of the bag (judging from some messages I have received lately), I wanted to announce publicly that I am leaving Ipoh International School with my last day to be October 30th, 2009.

First let me say that teaching aside from writing is the most fulfilling thing I have ever done and I definitely plan to keep that as my career for now at least until THE ABSENT is a #1 bestseller on the New York Times Book list.

I also wanted to say I really enjoyed the relationships with students I had at IIS and the classroom experience….I will cherish some of those for the rest of my life….I never thought I would say this but I like working with teenagers-it’s tremendous fun and intellectually stimulating.

However, for a host of reasons (salary, infrastructure, my continued growth as a teacher), I feel it is definitely time to move on….The key in having a job is knowing when the right time to leave is….I’m not going to bash my present employer (that’s not professional) unless they totally cheat me on any of the outstanding issues with them in which case LOOK OUT!!! But I just feel in order to be better teacher I need a better school.

So anyway, we’ve still got two months and I plan on getting as much done as I can….I want everybody to do as well as they can on the various exams coming up.

This shouldn’t be sad….Life is filled with people who come into your life for awhile and then are not there anymore….If you are spiritual, you could say this happens for a specific reason and these specific people bring something positive that wasn’t there before.

In any event, good luck to any students reading this and let’s make the next two months a flapdoodling good time!

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Madness was for me The Beatles of the Ska movement of the early 80’s associated with Two Tone records….By that I mean they were the band that moved away the most from the original sound by evolving and growing that original sound until it was something quite new and remarkable.

Keyboardist Mike Barson was seemingly the heart of the band as well as its founding member and to my mind its best songwriter….When he left in 1984 after KEEP MOVING (my favorite Madness release), the band never recovered.

Various touring reunions aside, the original seven members including Barson did reunite in 1999 for the WONDERFUL album which was basically four great songs and a lot of filler.

That’s why I am happy to say that Madness’s first album of new material since then THE LIBERTY OF NORTON FOLGATE is fantastic….Filled with nods to the bands reggae/ska roots as well as the gigantic pop grandeur they were know for later, at times it’s as good as anything they did in the 1980’s.

Lyrically, there is not as much Ray Davies-type social criticism and identification with the lives of average working peoples as there was in the heyday but that universal sense of humor is still there and this is a band that knows how to write love song….I’m not talking about sentimental nonsense-I’m talking about the genuine feeling….Listen to THAT CLOSE for an example of what I am talking about.

Awhile back I wrote about the usual lack of success of band reunions even bands that I liked ….THE LIBERTY OF NORTON FOLGATE might be one of the most successful reunion albums of all time

Monday, August 10, 2009


I always viewed the concept of “Town Halls”, which are themselves part of the showbiz culture that unfortunately has become part of the political process in America, with some skepticism….The fact that well-organized groups are hijacking them to protest against President Obama’s health care plans and pressure their local congressional representatives doesn’t surprise me in the least.

“Socilaized medicine” like the word “communist” in decades gone past is one of those slurs that immediately shuts down logical debate….An invalid connection thrown out in the discourse so wildly makes it impossible for any further dialogue to occur.

The fear of government bureaucracy and long waiting lines and other images drilled into our heads by the health care lobby, the Republican Party, and others is a far cry from the mild reforms currently being offered….The real fear Americans should have is of the effect a debilitating illness would have on a family especially if it was the breadwinner who was afflicted….In America, there is no safety net and even under the most generous employer health care plan, a long-term health care necessity will destroy a family’s finances.

So what’s the solution?....Well, I take a different approach….The real problem I’ve always felt are insurance companies (who have traditionally been one of the biggest donors to political campaigns)….A comprehensive insurance reform plan needs to be brought before congress….Maybe what is needed is not “government run health care” but “government run health insurance”.

I would suggest looking at a plan in which insurance coverage is government based but health care stays the same….Reform is applied at the area where checks are cut not in the doctor’s office which is the deeply held fear many Americans have.

I am by no means an expert on this subject but I do believe “Life, Liberty, and The Pursuit of Happiness” means that one is entitled to affordable health care if one gets sick.


This story about the tasering of an elderly man as well as the YouTube video of the tasering of a protestor at a John Kerry speech a number of other incidents seem to indicate that American law enforcement is starting to show an over reliance on the usage of tasers.

Police in America have to be the best armed in the world….This is because America’s criminals are also the best armed in the world due to America’s gun culture and the bizarre nonsensical connection to personal freedom that has been elaborately constructed by those who are part of this culture….However, a taser would really not help you against someone armed with a gun especially if they were standing more than a few feet away from you.

So a taser by definition is used for close contact….Well police already have a lot of other non-fatal weapons at their disposal including pepper spray and billyclubs….Giving them the use of another weapon that requires less effort and more immediate impact has perhaps created a sense of laziness in law enforcement….It is very easy to use the taser for even a mild disturbance despite that being a massive over reaction to the type of threat posed.

The taser as a tool for police to use for crowd control and other interactions seems to be getting out of hand.

What are the effects of being tasered?

In other words, a jolt from a taser can be deadly….It doesn’t really add anything to the armory of current law enforcement except convenience.

It might be time to look into whether or not police really need to carry tasers at all.