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, June 25, 2011


The death of Peter Falk today puts me in mind for a third edition.

Falk was the perfect example of this type of actor.  His very persona was filled with character not character as defined as moral character but of a life lived and the showing of this on the face of an actor.

I will again sound like a grumpy older person and say can you imagine today’s crop of actors diets carefully planned, six packs in effect and also digitally enhanced, every eyebrow plucked, everything else waxed, having much staying power?

They are in no way “real” actors whereas someone could argue Falk was the ultimate reality actor.

Of course, Columbo-a brilliant show....I always wondered if perhaps Columbo was a supernatural creature we never saw his wife or his personal life other than his poorly behaved basset hound.  Such great pull the rug out endings.  All of Columbo’s enemies were wealthy whereas Columbo wore wrinkled old clothing and drove a broken down car.  A tremendous contrast-A brilliantly written series.

Falk was also great in the films of John Cassavetes because he embodied Cassavetes real life approach to filmmaking.  His appearance and his earthiness were part of the reason I think Cassavetes came closer than any other American filmmaker in actually making something that was real life as opposed actors trying to pretend to be part of real life.  A WOMAN UNDER THE INFLUENCE perhaps his best cinematic performance.

One Falk performance I would like to give shout out to which is not so heralded is the 1995 film ROOMMATES.  Falk plays a grandfather who raises his orphaned grandson and stays with the boy when he grows up into a man.  His last great performance.

Peter Falk RIP.   


I wrote this awhile back....

Well, never say never and I have now opened a Twitter account Why?  Not sure perhaps it might help with promoting my poetry and books.

Not sure what I’m going to do with it.  So far I’ve used in place of Facebook Status Update and linked it to Facebook so it shows up there.

Neat huh?  Life is full of small pleasures.

And no Anthony Weiner jokes!....His biggest mistake was not getting out in front of the scandal.  I still think the textbook way of handling such a thing is the way David Letterman did it – get the full truth out yourself and move on.

My Twitter ID is rgdinmalaysia.

Friday, June 17, 2011


I just finished reading THE COMPLETE ENDERBY by Anthony Burgess which gathers all four of the novels featuring his character the poet Enderby into one volume.


These books are a lot of fun – irreverent, scatological, bawdy, raucous.  I laughed out loud a few times and the first two books in particular dump misadventure after misadventure on poor Enderby who writes his poetry on the toilet and at the beginning of the first book scrapes by on money left to him by his stepmother although his financial state changes throughout the books as he goes from London to Morocco to New York City to Indiana.

The first book, INSIDE MR ENDERBY, is the best.  ENDERBY OUTSIDE like any sequel starts off at an automatically lower position but it’s also good and plays out the earlier book’s narrative in a way that makes sense to the reader.  The third book, THE CLOCKWORK TREATMENT, is more like a long short story or a novella and ends with Enderby dying of a heart attack.  However, he comes back for the fourth and least interesting book ENDERBY’S DARK LADY (although I like the ongoing story within a story that both begins and ends it). 

What I like most about the first book is the discussions of how poet operates-how the muse can strike him anywhere, how he builds on one small idea, a handful of phrases to produce a poem.  The poetry Burgess has written to show Enderby as a poet is actually quite good and not only does he produce poetry in the guise of a character with a voice that is unique and identifiable with that character.  He also shows how the character’s poetry has grown over time.

It is also worth noting that he shows how writing, not just putting words on paper, but pursuing your own vision as a writer (even if it doesn’t pay in the monetary sense) is key to making an imprint, establishing your voice, and evolving as a writer/poet.  The fact that Enderby when we first meet him is not that interested in any sort of sexual relationship (despite several women throwing themselves at him) indicates how much poetry has consumed him and how much little he has left.

One great thing about Anthony Burgess was despite being a polymath who spoke numerous languages, wrote symphonies, did translation work, etc., he had a vulgar, earthy side to him which is never far from view in these books.   All the better for something that on the surface seems very removed from most people’s interests these days which is unfortunately what poetry has become.  Through Enderby, Burgess opens up poetry for everyone  

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


The second Republican debate of the pre-primary season (and considering that more A list candidates showed up for this one, one might consider it the first) was eventful for being uneventful….All the candidates for the most part effectively hid their crazier views from the audience….Here’s a rundown of each candidate based purely on strategy

Mitt Romney – A lucky robot who didn’t have to defend any of his flip flops as no one called him on them.  Totally programmed.

Michelle Bachmann – “Crazy eyes” filled with hyperbole (WE ARE GOING TO MAKE PRESIDENT OBAMA A ONE TERM PRESIDENT) was considered successful because she didn’t say anything completely nuts.

Tim Pawlenty – If there is a debate loser, it’s him.  Didn’t make any effort to define himself.

Herman Cain – Hilarious!  His answer to every question is “I’m going to get a bunch of experts together in a room and have them advise me what to do”.  In over his head and an anti-Muslim bigot. Nice speaking voice though – very Darth Vader

Rick Santorum – More comfortable talking about social issues and also tried to score some anti-Obama points in the foreign policy area but weak in finance related questions.  Will one day be arrested wearing women’s panties.

Newt Gingrich – Grumpy, surly, and full of gloom and doom except when he talked about space travel.  Which is fitting considering his campaign seems to have largely gone into a black hole the last few weeks

Ron Paul – Didn’t get as much airtime in this debate.  Seemed a bit rushed.  As usual I agreed with his positions on foreign policy and the federal reserve board but the rest not so much.

Romney is a front runner but a very weak one (albeit with deep pockets and money can keep him going longer in the primary season).  However, by not going after his life-long flipflopping Pawlenty (on healthcare) and Santorum (on abortion) effectively crowned his frontrunner status.  In particular, Pawlenty, when confronted with quotes he had made on a Sunday talk show comparing the Massachusetts health care plan to Obamacare, really tied himself in knots not to criticize Romney.  He looked weak and wimpy.

Personally, I don’t think any of these people can beat President Obama.  No matter how hard they try to hide the scary mob the Republican party has become the last couple of years, this will still be a factor in the election.

What next?  Well I still think Sarah Palin will not run for the same reason Huckabee didn't-life's too comfortable.  I believe she’s been effectively scooped by Bachmann anyway.  Jon Huntsman?  Well as governor of Utah he believed in civil unions, cap and trade, and TAARP so he will be considered too liberal Rick Perry?  Not sure I understand the appeal of this bellicose blowhard.  What niche does he appeal to that isn't already claimed by another candidate?

I hope for more fireworks in the next debate.  Considering Romney has recently said he believes in some manmade climate change and Bachmann and Santorum among the others believe climate change is a hoax, I would like to see a pointed question from the moderator with no wiggle room which will force them to combat one another – CAGE MATCH!!!!

Unless someone steps up and cuts the collegial atmosphere and attacks him directly, Romney could have an easy time getting to the nomination.   We'’ll wait and see who takes up the challenge.

Monday, June 13, 2011


Saw X MEN FIRST CLASS and while it is the usual Hollywood summer fare filled with big special effects and almost non-stop action and is entertaining I guess, it changes one plot detail that for me damages the comic book continuity of the X Men history as well as totally destroying Magneto’s motivation for being a supervillain in the first place which is his misguided mission to protect mutants.

Sebastian Shaw, leader of the Hellfire Club, the lead villain in FIRST CLASS, and a prominent X Men foe in the comics as well is himself a mutant.  Magneto’s parents in the comic book were killed by the Nazis.  The movie decides to link the two and make Shaw, in league with the Nazis in the film, the murderer of Magneto’s mother(which never happened in the comic book).  This makes absolutely no sense as Magneto’s whole identity was forged on the fact that human beings killed his family and he won’t let that happen to mutants ever again.  With a mutant now the killer of his family, it ruins the character’s motivation, his special distrust and hate for humankind.

Comic books are hardly the model of consistency what with retconning ,or changing a characters’ origin or a set of event that have happened after the fact, exploding as a plot device in the last ten years but comic books usually at least get motivation right.

The other thing that always comes to mind when an X men film comes along is the hope that soon Hollywood will discover Apocalypse, the X-Men’s most interesting and most powerful enemy.

En Sabah Nur the world’s oldest, most powerful mutant was tailor-made for the big screen.  With his powers and his stature, his megalomania to beat all megalomania and his sidekick Mr . Sinister (himself a great villain) as well as his servants the Four Horsemen, he wouldn’t need much if any alteration for film.  

Look forward one day to an X Men vs. Apocalypse film ….A few years ago I wrote about my top 10 comic book villains I should have included Apocalypse (as I noted at the time).


Sunday, June 12, 2011


Sly Stone shares with Chuck Berry a similar background- both are black men who grew up in predominantly white neighborhoods -Stone in Vallejo, Ca. and Berry in St Louis, Mo.  This was important because it exposed them to the music white audiences listened to in a segregated time (musical and otherwise).... These were country western in Berry’s case and pop in Stone’s.

The end result in both cases was revolutionary – a synthesis of styles that created something new.

In the case of Stone, the gorgeous popscapes he created on the first five Sly and the Family Stone albums turned into the bitter devastating deceptively loose sounding funk of THERE’S A RIOT GOIN’ ON (and this funkiness is closer to what Radiohead’s doing now than what was considered funk at the time) this was followed by two strong albums showcasing all he’d learned – FRESH and SMALL TALK.  This was colorblind music in much the same way Chuck Berry’s music was and is.  Both RIOT and the GREATEST HITS album that covers the period before RIOT belong on any list of the best records of all time.  

There is no depressing story in the history of rock/popular music than the burn out and disappearance of Sly Stone.  Perhaps it’s all about drugs as has been widely written and told or perhaps it was the breakdown of a sensitive soul who’d written such anthems of universal brotherhood like “Everybody’s a Star” and “Everyday People” coming to terms with end of sixties idealism and a dream for equality not realized.

In any event, the conventional wisdom is that the albums made after SMALL TALK before he finally stopped recording in 1982 are not worth bothering with, the works of a musician whose muse had long since left him to be replaced with something glassy eyed and dull going through the motions.

I’d never listened to these later records but this week found myself streaming HIGH ON YOU the album immediately following SMALL TALK and the only record made under his name alone without The Family Stone appendage although all the albums made afterwards are really just him with guest appearances from Family members(superbassist Larry Graham is especially missed).

HIGH ON YOU is not a great record but neither is it a bad one.  The lead off single/track “Crossword Puzzle” is actually one of his greatest songs - clever lyrics about a child born out of wedlock and a percolating string bass cymbal groove.  “My World” is a ballad in the manner of an old standard with a meticulously beautiful string arrangement and a heartfelt Stone vocal.  The second single “Le Lo Li” reminds me of their earlier stuff-the same free flowing pop innocence and fun. “So Good To Me” finds Stone fully engaged taking a few shots at the media for their increasing bashing of him over an edgy arrangement.  The backing vocals are excellent on all the tracks here. 

Of course, not all of it is good....”Organize” is a bad “Stand” re-write and “Green-Eyed Monster Girl” is a pointless instrumental that makes me think Sly was just too lazy to write lyrics.

Sly Stone at his greatest with the Family Stone( “Hot Fun in the Summertime” for example) was a maestro of divergent styles that  produced something unique and more importantly addictive to listen to.  Even on a record like HIGH ON YOU his great gifts are still there just below the surface.  Sly Stone – you’re a genus and I salute you!


Wednesday, June 8, 2011


There are few things more silly and irritating in the presidential election cycle than those candidates who are puffed up by the media as “the real thing” then choose not to run after all the hype then announce well they could have won anyway if they had chose to run.

Case in point – Mitch Daniels the Governor of Indiana.

Despite several years as George Bush’s budget director helping lay the groundwork for the worst recession America has had since the Great Depression, Daniel was touting himself as the solution to the country’s financial woe based largely on his cutting of social services to poorer citizens and laws aimed at restricting teacher unions (an unfortunate trend around the country).

Truth is Daniels record as budget director while a stumbling block was not as big a worry as his private life (I believe this was the real reason he didn’t run)

Daniels had based his consideration process on whether his wife Cheri was willing to go along with being part of a presidential campaign.  His wife had married him in 1978 then divorced him in 1993 and married another man(moving to California leaving their four daughters with Daniels) then divorced the other man and remarried Daniels in 1997.

From what I’ve read of this, here’s what I come up with – His wife was apparently already seeing the other man while still married to Daniels so she was having an affair and left him for another man.

In other words, Daniels was a cuckold.  There’s something very male, very “saving face” about being disgusted by this and Daniels, reaction which was to take her back when her little adventure didn’t work out, makes him look gutless from the “macho” point of view.

The fact he also allows this woman to make the decision on whether or not he would run for president indicates that Daniels is a henpecked weakling, a man whose wife has firm control of his testicles.  Not to sound sexist but this is not the strength of character we would want in a president.  She didn’t want to have the issue dragged out in the media-It has nothing to do with Daniels but he gave in to her request.

I think this would have come up in the campaign as would have Daniels drug arrest while in college.

Why is the drug arrest an issue?

Daniels and a college roommate were arrested with several shoeboxes of marijuana and LSD and pills, much more than what would be needed for personal consumption.

In other words, Daniels was selling drugs as a part-time student job (something his roommate admitted to but Daniels got away with a fine and a denial of his own involvement).  Well, I guess he could point to this as an early example of his business acumen.

Truth was the Mitch Daniels proto candidacy was a creation of the media.  Coupled with his talk of a “truce” on social issues, he would have been viewed with suspicion by the ever radicalized and nutty tea party base of the Republican Party and as the rest of the story of his life came out, viewed  with suspicion by everyone else.    

Monday, June 6, 2011


I have received the advance copies of my second book of poetry SOLIDARITY WITH THE FLESH EATING MOSAIC AND OTHER POEMS from my publisher.

Looking good!  The book will be sale around the 15th of June on Amazon and other online booksellers.

Both it and my first book THE RETURN OF THE MAGNIFICENT NINNY AND OTHER POEMS can be viewed for free here just click on the cover of the indvidual book.


This last weekend, my wife, her nieces and nephews, and I went to Genting Highlands.  Genting is a Vegas type mini-city perched on a hill.  It is famous in Malaysia for being one of the few places that has legalized gambling and there is also a large amusement park there as well as indoor shopping.

This was my second trip there.  The first time was only a day trip.  This trip was not a pleasant experience which was partly due to the timing of my stay (the first weekend of Malaysian school holiday).

But was mostly due to the hotel I stayed in, First World Hotel, and its poor planning for crowds such as these and poor customer service.  In particular,

1.)    The parking garage is underneath the hotel therefore one must take an elevator up to the lobby to check in.  The day we were there two of the elevators were not working.  The crowds were huge and considering all the other floors of the parking garage this led to a ridiculous situation.  In the end, we could never get an elevator as they were all full by the time they reached our floor and we ended up climbing the stairs -five flights!- with all our bags.
2.)    There are few directions on what to do at the check-in(which is not like other hotels and involves taking a number and getting your room through a computerized kiosk) and even fewer signs.
3.)    The bathroom in our stuffy little room was filthy.  Called twice to housekeeping and also asked a maid I saw on our floor but they never came to clean it.
4.)    The amusement park was overcrowded.  After hours of waiting, only got on two rides.
5.)    The breakfast buffet was again the focus of an overcrowding problem.  It was like a riot with people shoving one another and not enough stations for the food.  In addition, they did not refill some of the things (cold milk for example) and ran out of food.  That’s just not acceptable in a big hotel like First World charging the rates they’re charging.  Also the food tasted like cardboard.
6.)    The arcade ,where one can play a host of both video and non-related video games, gives tickets to be redeemed for prizes for those who score well.  Several people in my group received the tickets but like everything else in First World the process to retrieve the tickets is ridiculously complicated and involves standing in long lines for what????a really cheap gift-two pencils (!)

Not to sound like a racist but Genting is very Chinese as are most of the people we saw there(I think it's safe to say Chinese are more into gambling).  Malays and Indians and foreigners go there too but not in as large a number.   Chinese establishments are very poorly acquainted with the notion of customer service and Malaysian Chinese in general also behave very badly in crowd situations having no clue on how to act in crowd situations and no concept of an orderly line or queue and just being very rude in general.  Would be nice to have a Chinese free day at Genting.

Well anyway Genting sucks-Hopefully will never go back there and First World is one of the worst fleabag hotels I ever stayed in run by idiots with no idea of the concept of customer service and how to plan appropriately for huge crowds(additional manpower etc.). I guess my trip could be summed up by the note I left on the windshield of the moron who parked near our space partially blocking our car when we wanted to leave - NICE PARKING JOB, ASSHOLE!!!!!!!!         

Thursday, June 2, 2011


SMOTHER by The Wild Beasts….The Beasts new album slows it down a bit and also pares down the more extravagant vocalizations of their first two records….The end result is their best record so far filled with haunting emotional workouts such as “Bed of Nails” and “Plaything” that their newer musical maturity (and I did like their first two albums) help accent.

CADENZA by Dutch Uncles….The main difference between this and their first album is the presence of pianos….They can still rock out alternately balancing tension and release but with additional musical depth….Loved their first album and this is just as good.

SUCK IT AND SEE by Arctic Monkeys….Okay well it’s simple - better than their last album HUMBUG but not as fierce, immediate or clever as their first two records….songs “All My Own Stunts” and “That’s Where You’re Wrong” find a good trade-off between their celebrated earlier sound and HUMBUG’S attempt to try something different.

WHAT DID YOU EXPECT FROM THE VACCINES? by The Vaccines….Short bursts of energetic indie pop that break absolutely no new ground but are tremendously fun and infectious….A couple slower songs bog it down briefly but that is a small complaint….The music world needs more records like this.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011


The killing of 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys in Srebenica by the paramilitary organizations under General Ratko Mladic has grown into the example most widely cited when discussing the atrocities committed by Bosnian Serb  (as well as Serbian Serb!) forces during the Bosnian war.  It is the single worst attrocity and a good way to illustrate what the Serbs were all about during that conflict.    

The capture of Mladic last week (one of the few if not the only remaining big fish war criminal(s) still at large from that conflict) is of course a very good thing.  It sends the message to those thinking of a future genocide (Are the Israelis paying attention?) that there is a mechanism in place to assure that you will be caught and tried.  It may take awhile and it’s sad that it took so many years to find Mladic (and also Radovan Karadzic in 2008) but they are going to face justice.

What’s perhaps most disgusting is the strain of thought among bigots in America that because the Serbs were fighting against Muslims, it was a valid struggle and what they did was okay.  This is also coupled with genocide denial (Muslims lied about the atrocities) and also everybody does it.  Of course, satellite pictures provided evidence of mass graves at the time as did fieldwork afterwards and none of the other parties in this conflict (not the Bosnian Muslims, not the Croats etc.) practiced Scorched Earth genocide the way the Serbs did (not to mention their rape camps).  Again, this another example of how certain parts of America are dangerously close to falling into fascism, racism, religious bigotry, rejection of anything modern and scientific, going backwards driven by the ugly Nazi-like tea party.  Mladic seems like a tea party guy himself.

During the 2004 election campaign, John Kerry made statements indicating the war on terrorism would be better off handled as a law enforcement matter rather than through military campaigns against countries.  He was belittled for this by a sheep-like US press trained to salivate at the word of the new-conservatives

But you know what? He was right.

The killing of Bin Laden a few weeks ago ,while a military operation, was conducted like a DEA raid on a druglord’ s compound and let’s be clear Bin Laden might not have been a criminal in the conventional financial sense (stealing etc.) but he was a bandit and despite all the religious revolutionary justifications for his acts of terrorism he was first and foremost a criminal and a murderer.

Using special teams in cases like this is exactly the way to go when dealing with hydra-like stateless terrorism and if Bush had done this rather than pursue his Neo-Con agenda, Bin Laden could have been eliminated a long time ago

His death in the long run, while good symbolism and a boost to President Obama’s re-election chances, won’t mean much.

 Mladic, however, who wore the uniform of an army backed openly by another country (Serbia), was actually committing crimes under the auspices of his military office as well ordering others to do so.  The worse criminals are the ones who get away with it because of official title and office.  This has been especially true in cases of genocide therefore it means a lot more to the rule of law when they are caught and made to pay.