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

Thursday, July 28, 2011


A HISTORY OF THE WORLD IN 10 ½ CHAPTERS By Julian Banes is a series of short stories with some similar themes and motifs linking them.  These are the ocean and travel by water, Noah’s Ark (the direct subject of the first story and the object of interest in a couple of the other stories), woodworm, fate vs. the belief in a supreme being.

The best story is the first one about travelling in Noah’s Ark as told by one of the animals whose identity at the end is a nice twist.  Noah and his family’s pettiness and huge appetite explain why some creatures such as the Unicorn did not survive the journey.

Faith is a key part of the journey undertaken here whether it is the actor on location in the Amazon writing back to a girlfriend who he is revealed to have issues with or the wealthy woman and her assistant/companion who travel to Turkey seeking Noah’s Ark or the astronaut who hears God talking to him.

Famous historical events such as the sinking of the Titanic, Jonah swallowed by the whale, and refugees from the Holocaust on board an ocean liner turned away from many nations  also are stories or part of stories as is a fictionalized hijacking crafted after the Achille Lauro hijacking.

Barnes has a tremendous wit and is one of those writers who exude effortlessness.  In this complex book nothing ever seems complex and that is due to the chatty flow of Barnes’ prose.  Even when the story he is telling is not so interesting the writing style keeps it going.


Speculative fiction that is fiction describing a different present or future based on an event happening differently in the timeline than it did in our present reality must be based on something  that is believable and within the realm of the possible.

Much speculative fiction focuses on World War II and what would have happened had Hitler won.  History is not that fragile there are many reasons why Hitler could not have won WWII not one singular event.  For one he was a terrible military leader.

A trend seen lately most recently in the just released novel FLASHBACK by Dan Simmons is the theory that a passive world in the present will result in a future where the planet is dominated by an Islamic caliphate.

Islam is the new communism but purveyors of sinister Muslim memes are even more ignorant than Cold War anti-communists. 

The Muslim domination scenario is ridiculous for one reason predominantly.  This theory assumes a level of cooperation, a level of uniformity in Islam, in countries that practice Islam and in the different denominations of Islam itself, that doesn’t exist.

There are different denominations of Muslims just as there are Christians.  Sunnis hate Shiites and vice versa in some places like Iraq they kill each other.  The divisions within Islam are increasing not decreasing.  Islam is ripe for a reformation which I feel is coming.

Therefore, the idea of a global conspiracy, which in these books always results in an extreme form of Sharia Law governance similar to the Taliban in Afghanistan, is nonsense.

This hysteria is part and parcel of the growing anti-Islam bigotry in the west.  We saw in Norway this last week what happens when this is allowed to fester even in a country with a reputation for openness and progressive values.

Now if one wanted to write a realistic Dysotopian novel about the future I would suggest this scenario – America is now ruled by big corporations that now run everything including debtor’s prisons where they use legal tricks to enslave people in sweat shops – Now that I could imagine!

Saturday, July 23, 2011


The challenge a writer faces when writing a book that addresses a social ill is to be able to create a world in which to frame the problem and how it affects people that is real enough we can relate to it and not merely a cardboard backdrop for cardboard characters to speak in fully created monologues full of information  from a pamphlet or reference book.

Sawako Ariyoshi does a tremendous job of meeting this challenge in her book THE TWILIGHT YEARS which is about the problem citizens of Japan have with their aging parents in a changing society where both adult children work and population growth, the number of new children being born, is decreasing (This book was written in 1972).

Akiko, the main character, opens the novel by discovering her mother in law is dead.  Her husband’s parents live in a cottage behind their house.  This arrangement has worked out as her father in law, Shigezo, is a rude and difficult man.  However, the death of her mother in law exposes the fact that Shigezo is increasingly suffering from senile dementia.

I really felt for Akiko who works full time as a legal secretary and whose husband Nobutoshi wants nothing to do with the care of his father which is quite graphic- For example, his incontinence is discussed in great detail and Akiko must change his diapers daily.

I wonder if Ariyoshi had a problem with an elderly relative’s care because her level of knowledge of the psychology of a old person falling into senility is deep and painstakingly detailed.  Shigezo’s behaviour (his running away, his yelling at night, his inability to remember his family except for Akiko) is presented almost non-fiction style.

The last 50 pages in which Shigezo reverts to almost infant status losing the power of speech, playing with a baby’s rattle, and being entranced by a pet parakeet are deeply moving and also restore Akiko’s feeling of sympathy which had been burned out by the lack of help she had gotten from everybody (Japanese social services included).

A seamless, technically perfect novel with a point.     

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


There are two types of film actors-those who lose themselves in the role becoming the part and those who adopt a persona that catches on with the public which they take from role to role.

Clint Eastwood is definitely the latter and he announced awhile back that he would not be doing any more acting and that GRAN TORINO is his last film as an actor (he will still at the age of 80 continue to produce and direct films ).

Clint Eastwood is hard figure to discuss  in a critical sense.  He’s just made so many films both good and bad.  I salute his discipline!

I’ve decided to make a list of my five favorite Eastwood performances (Most of these films he also directed).  Counting backwards….

5.)  THE GAUNTLET – Eastwood plays an alcoholic policeman from Arizona, hardly Dirty Harry more of a loser who is given the task of escorting a prostitute to testify in court.  The information she possess would indict forces at the highest echelons of the Phoenix police force.  The film is quite good because it possesses a sense of reality.  The characters are not especially clever (except for the prostitute who is sly in the street sense).  Plenty of good action and Eastwood does a good job playing a much less than superhuman character.

4.) ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ – Eastwood in prison.  Well made almost documentary like film and the scenes between Eastwood and Patrick McGoohan are a primer in acting.

3.) UNFORGIVEN – I love this film but still can’t help feeling it’s slightly overrated.  It’s well written got an interesting plot and allows Eastwood to do his avenging angel thing although he does play around with his persona wrestling pigs in mud etc.  Both Gene Hackman and Richard Harris almost steal the show here.  Some of the critics went overboard in their praise but it is an interesting meditation on violence and the cycle of violence.

2.) WHITE HUNTER BLACK HEART – This is the closest I’ve ever seen to Eastwood actually playing a role.  Here he plays a fictionalized version of the director John Huston as he attempts to direct THE AFRICAN QUEEN (Names changed due to the threat of lawsuit I imagine).  Eastwood actually adopts Huston’s trademark raspy delivery and takes on his character-a very good film!

1.) HONKEYTONK MAN – My favorite Eastwood performance.  A doomed country singer dying of tuberculosis, a man who missed his moment in life as viewed through his nephew (played by his own son Kyle).  Eastwood creates an original character and sings his own songs as well.  His greatest performance.


Sunday, July 17, 2011


THE RIVER KI by Sawako Ariyoshi is a great novel despite the clunky metaphor made throughout of the comparison with the path of the river K with Hana Kimoto and the wealthy prominent Matani family she marries into.

It’s a great novel because of the effortless way in which it was written.  Most novels prime the reader as if their minds needed those cues-they use foreshadowing and other literary techniques to let the audience know when the big dramatic moments such as the denouement and the climax are coming.  This book moves along of its own pace creating a sense of real life where events unfold in a normal fashion without the manipulative moments of other works of fiction, without all the excess verbiage and narrative pointing and shouting.

THE RIVER KI is divided into three parts.  The first part introduces Hana and her strong relationship with her grandmother on the eve of Hana leaving her home to go off and marry into the Matani family.  The second part is mostly about Hana’s relationship with her rebellious modern thinking daughter Fumio.  The third part deals with Hana’s granddaughter Hanako (Fumio’s daughter) and the coming of World War II and the ending of the family’s prosperity.

The book particularly pays a lot of attention to how the old customs clash with the new customs especially in regards to the rights of women.  That Hana and Fumio continually butt heads and why is well explained and is centerstage in their scenes together.  Hanako represents the modern age and the death of both the way people of a certain higher class live but also all social rituals.  She also seems to be just right in her thinking compared with the extremes of her mother and grandmother.

If there is one complaint I have about this book which is pretty much excellent, it would be that the third part feels rushed compared with the other two.  All of a sudden there’s WWII and then all of a sudden nobody has any money anymore.  It’s a much shorter chapter than the other two.

Still a great book cannot be denied.  Beautifully written filled with meticulous descriptions and well rounded characters (Hana’s bitter brother in law Kosaku who secretly loves her is especially memorable).  This is the second book I’ve read by Ariyoshi.  The first was THE DOCTOR’S WIFE and it was also excellent although THE RIVER KI is technically better in terms of construction and language (It might be partly the translation).

Friday, July 15, 2011


(I was recently asked why I don’t blog more about my personal life.  Well for one my personal life isn’t necessarily that interesting and for another I prefer not to use a blog as a diary as I consider that a bit narcissistic and not really something for general interest.  However here is a short entry on a childhood memory)

When I was 12 and 13 and in the seventh grade, I spent a year abroad in Karachi, Pakistan as my mother’s husband worked for the United Nations.

It was an interesting year and Pakistan was at an interesting point in its history.  A coup had deposed the Prime Minister Bhutto (father of Benazir Bhutto) shortly before we came there and he was executed during our year there.

One particular thing that I’ve been thinking about lately is the American commissary.  This was small supermarket next to the US Embassy that sold US Goods that couldn’t be found locally such as candy like Kit Kat or canned items like soups and Chef Boy-Ar Dee.  Their most popular item was alcohol which was very hard to find in Pakistan at that time.

Embassy employees and members of the armed forces were automatically given membership.  UN employees had to pay small fee.  Others, expats employed by businesses etc. were not allowed to shop there.

Pakistan had great food.  I don’t recall ever having a bad meal in Pakistan but there were of course things you missed.  There were some families whose kids I went to school with at the Karachi American School who only ate what was purchased from the commissary.  Food at that point become something comforting in a hostile environment or at least an environment that was perceived as hostile by people used to something else and unable to open their minds.

Now at the age of 45, I’ve lived abroad almost ten years in the country of Malaysia.  I am married to a Malaysian woman and basically live like a Malaysian.  I would never think about looking for a commissary here (if one even exists) because you can get almost everything here and the local food is fantastic, perhaps the best I’ve ever had.

The only things I do sometimes miss are certain candy bars such as Three Musketeers (which I was very lucky a few years ago to have student at the international school I was teaching at bring me a box after a trip abroad), chili in a can although TMC supermarket in the Bangsar area of Kuala Lumpur was carrying Hormel for awhile,   Hostess fruit pies I also miss from time to time.

The other image that comes to mind from that time in Pakistan was of movie nights.  In the parking lot of the commissary in the evening they would show the latest American movies on a wall.  They would set up a couple of speakers as sound system on the back of a truck.  We would sit in the darkness and swat mosquitoes and eat and drink whatever we brought with us.   
Here’s some info on the history of US commissaries in foreign countries.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


The critic and the fan share a tendency to project either what they relate to through their own experiences or what they want (hopes) onto their intended targets – the artists they respect, the artist they assess and/or criticize.
The retired widowed doctor narrator of FLAUBERT’S PARROT by Julian Barnes is an obsessive fan of the late French writer Gustave Flaubert author of MADAME BOVARY.  In the first ¾’s of this book, his story is less important than Flaubert’s which primarily consists of his analyzing the writer through a number of odd criteria such as Flaubert’s sexual experiences, his hatred for trains and the burgeoning French railway system and his love for animals represented by the titular parrot, a stuffed bird that sat on his desk while he created his masterpieces.  The parrot is part red herring part rosebud and the clever ending leaves it to the reader to make his own judgement which of the two better suits it as a description.
This was one of those books that start off in a loose, disparate way pleasant, nothing more but then the bolts slide into place and the whole contraption comes together like one of the traps in the SAW films.
I particularly was impressed by the chapter written in the fictional voice of Flaubert’s mistress, her tone and attitude was more than a little reminiscent of Molly Bloom in ULYSSES as was the chapter late in the book where the the narrator opens up and relates the story of his slightly unhinged wife another Molly Bloom acolyte.
At one point early on, Barnes presents us with three different timelines one after the other.  The first one is the dashing version of Flaubert’s life, the life of a man of letters, a celebrity, a literary adventurer. The second one is the much less romantic, more prosaic ( and slightly depressing) “real life” version of Flaubert’s life.  The third one is Flaubert’s life as told by his own quotes. 
Those interested in the life of a writer they read for whatever reason also gets three versions or more of the truth.  I feel this book was deliberately written in the voice of someone who actually doesn’t get it and who harps on trivialities and views Flaubert through the prism of his own personal issues.  How this is brought out is just brilliant.
This book is deceptively brilliant-a cleverly laid out little trap-much to think about after reading it (such as what is the next Julian Barnes book I will read J ).     

Friday, July 8, 2011


My novel THE ABSENT has had an ill starred history.  I first attempted to self-publish it about eight years ago but gave up after a few copies due to expense and a failure to arouse interest in an audience.  In 2009, I had it published on-line through a publisher but again no success and I never saw a dime from that.  I'm still hoping to publish one day through an established publisher.  So here are the first few pages.  I may share more in the future.  NOTE – This book is a work of fiction.  Some of it is based on real situations and people I’ve known but a lot of it is just made up.    

The world crawls up its own ass and then it dies.  The resulting stench we call real life.  This happens on a daily basis.
            The people who inhabit this stench world are going through varying degrees of death.  Some are already dead; only their bodies don’t know it yet.  They drag their mottled, bloated, unhappy corpses looking for another soul to bring down.  Eventually, mercy is shown through the ending of their lives but not without suffering and disintegration and loneliness and a loss of control over their bowels. 
            What lives we do have are reduced to sections.  The private section which is never enough and the public section, which is basically determined by employment or work.  Our lives as defined by work.  Our lives consumed from cradle to grave by work and making money.  I have never accepted this.  I live in a state of internal rebellion and outward deception.  The material world counts me as one of its inhabitants but this is a statement of the dullest scientific fact.  That part of me which is mind and emotion (some may call it a soul) has never existed in the same plane of reality as people, things, the planet Earth.  Instead, I dwell in a hell of exaggerated sensitivity and heightened awareness forever separated from the ability to do anything with these “gifts”.  “Gifts” also meaning something not wanted or appreciated such as an ugly tie or ill-fitting shirt.  The drudgery of living and the knowledge that it could to be better and the missing component to link one to the other and forge a better life.
            Work is the subject I wish to keep coming back to.  Bumps and detours in the free flowing narrative but always follow the discussion of employment.  A stagnant, stunted, dying river working it’s discolored and malodorous way through a decaying wasteland devoid of life.  In this desert, the stream of water sometimes reduced to a trickle as the surrounding environment becomes the center of attention.  I never had any illusions about the process in which one earns enough money to feed and clothe and establish a shelter for themselves.  I have no college education but everyone assumes I do which doesn’t help.  We live in the age of background checks.  Pretense and a good front is not enough anymore.  Anyway, here I am, a time traveler out of time, an alien without a home planet to fly back to.  If it weren’t for needing a job to survive, I would not have any contact with humanity.  I live in my own world but it is not self-sustaining.  Also I am married and with knowing nods a little less than half the world’s population shares in this burden and assumes the position of donkey and reconciles itself to the fate a conformist civilization in the sway of a rigid God has forced on generations past and those to come.  
            Marriage and a job are about as close as I ever get to be part of life and the human inhuman experience for I exist outside time and space in the parameters noted above.  I am unencumbered by sympathy, empathy or love and can see this world for what it really is; a drop in the bucket standing on the shore of an awesome black ocean whipped by the winds into a towering watery behemoth.  The people who inhabit this world do not provide me with any special joy by virtue of their existing.  In fact, I think the planet would be better without them.  I would go so far as to say that if humanity had never existed, this would be a better place.  I’m not a racist nor do I subscribe to any one particular philosophy built on establishing a cult of superiority over other philosophies.  I just don’t like people and I think everything they touch becomes ruined.  I dream of day without the human race soiling this place and the silence will be a powerful miracle.
            Back to the subject at hand.  I was born the first time I went to look for a job.  Not that I was particularly happy before nor safe in a nuclear family womb state but I had my illusions and didn’t have to spend that much time with other people.  Through the teenage years, it comes and goes and one day you wake up and your pushing twenty three with no family, not much education or accomplishment, and the instinct for survival made all the more real and harrowing.  Standing on a pair of misbegotten stilts hashed together from many years of enforced failure, cruelty, laziness, and an attitude unlike that ever seen in this century, I went out.  There was nothing for me but a future vacant of any promise or joy.  This is the story of reconciliation of that lack of promise to small glories that are not triumphs in the manner of conquering but more along the lines of scurrying vermin rushing for crumbs without a crashing death among the huge feet of larger life forms.       
            All life is disappointment and frustration.  Once that is known and accepted, it still isn’t easy but at least there is that to fall back on.  There may be many causes for such a jaundiced appraisal.  Getting back to the birth analogy and how it relates to starting to work for a living.  Sputtering, shaking, wet, disoriented, one is ejected into the fully moving world.  Move quickly or be crushed.  Move in step and maybe be crushed anyway.  A reward is an artificial, materialistic goodie which can be held up as the product of sacrificing your life working.  Family is nothing more than another accouterment, the lone natural instinct of procreation and continuing the species that has survived the taming, stupefaction, and deconstruction of the human race. A job is the face of the torturer you hone in on during long sessions of pain to get you through this life.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


Actually, technically my title is incorrect.  I think Christopher Hitchens jumped the shark a long time ago (if he was ever on the good side of the shark to begin with) but this recent column on the Gaza Flotilla in Slate magazine is an even bigger repudiation of what he seemed to use to believe in (as well as his true colors coming out)than his support for the Iraq War.

Christiopher Hitchens is a media creation in much the same way Paris Hilton is and as time has gone on with the seeming intellectual depth of Hilton.  He is a man of spurious accomplishment, a literary critic who doesn’t write fiction or poetry, a wartime correspondent who spends a lot his columns namedropping and bragging about prior experiences, an author?  What exactly has he written?  One of his highlights was a short saliva stained diatribe against Bill Clinton that reads like it was written with one hand the other hand being used for stimulation purposes so pathological is his hatred for Bill Clinton.

He has also written about atheism and I am an atheist but reject the dogmatic theocratic-type terms in which Hitchens frames his discussion of atheism.  I would never debate whether or not God exists with a religious person because it’s not a logical or rational debate.  I would not debate with an eight year old child whether or not Santa Claus exists either. When you debate atheism in this fashion, the advantage is automatically with the deist because you are acknowledging their argument might be true.  In these debates, atheism seems reduced by the way it’s presented into some oddball eccentricity and belittled. These debates are just entertainment and since I believe Hitchens is more celebrity (or celebutard as the right wingers say) than an actual person of intellectual distinction he gets off on this.  Richard Dawkins is also wrong to engage in these debates but he’s a vastly superior writer to Hitchens.

There is a superficiality in much of Hitchens writing.  His columns are full of anecdotes and a bloated self importance and a pseudo-intellectuality (the kind who thinks if he use the word “frisson” it makes him very continental).  There is also hypocrisy - he harped on the fact Clinton lied under oath about having a consensual sexual relationship but ignored or defended the Bush administration when it did the same about something far worse; torture.  He criticizes Mother Theresa for accepting rides on Charles Keating’s private plane but totally brushes over the fact his hero Thomas Jefferson had sex and children with an underage slave girl.  He thrashes Muslim countries for the way in which they treat women but writes old boy type sexists columns about how women have no sense of humor.  Worst of all, he correctly describes Henry Kissinger as a “war criminal” and describes the crimes of realpolitik thinking in practice in US foreign policy but strongly supported an invasion of Iraq based on a lie which is itself just more realpolitik.

Most importantly, the foreign policy ideas Hitchens endorsees and writes about are in no way  a humanitarian, progressive world view no matter how hard he tries to spin it.

Much of the way the lines are drawn and the sides are defined when it comes to any political debate are not actually reflective of the foreign policy sphere.  It’s not really left or right. 

Instead, there are people who believe in the total superiority of a Western way of life and that this way of life should be forcefully transposed onto the lives and cultures of the people’s of other countries.  At the root of this philosophy are two competing notions.  One is the desire to help and empower women, children, poor people etc. and to minimize negative influences (corruption, fanaticism in religion etc.).  The other is the chauvinism that states “we are superior to you.  Your culture is inferior and consequently your life is not as valuable”.  This leads to explotation of resources, of labor etc..  The problem is one might start off believing in the first one and end up with the second one and that’s where the killing starts.

Hitchens is a big time paternalist.  If he had lived in a prior time, it is very likely he would have been a colonialist.  Considering his physical appearance, if he survives his recent bout with cancer, I imagine he will look more and more like Winston Churchill which is fitting. I myself believe that countries at some point have to sort out their own internal problems particularly when they relate to culture and religion entwined in government.  I also believe that democracy is not a clean process rather it is evolutionary and often trial and error and countries have to be free to pick their own leaders even if they may not be what the West finds desirable.   They have to be free to make their own mistakes on the way to better government. Also economic democracy has to come first before governmental democracy.  No point in having elections if a small percentage of the population controls all the wealth.

The neo conservative and the neo liberal are allies in their belief that the USA should determine the path for other nations and that centuries old traditions and practices can be uprooted.  Of course, nobody likes a society where a woman is not allowed to drive a car (to use a recent example from the news) but if you think change can be imposed by outside nations and not come from within, well that’s the attitude that has killed thousands of American soldiers and bankrupted the country.

There is a difference between passing dictators, who leave no trace once their gone other than the decrepit state of the countries the ruled, and what goes on in a place like Iran.  One is a boil or a growth easily excised the other is a tumor that has grown around a healthy organ and it will largely be the body itself that will have to fight it.

Reading Hitchens bashing the Gaza flotilla movement with a sneer and I imagine dressed in an ascot and sipping some alcoholic beverage is for me the final straw with this idiotic sot, this man of no integrity who tries to set himself as Orwell’s heir.  Comparing Orwell and Hitchens is like comparing the acting prowess of Marlon Brando and Ryan Reynolds.

The truth is the argument that groups that support the Gaza flotilla have to also denounce Syria’s government is a convoluted one.  Many of the flotilla participants are citizens of countries whose governments bankroll the fascist apartheid state of Israel.  I doubt their governments give the same level of financial support to Syria (in the case of the USA where I am from this is a fact).

Most telling is this line of argument is straight out of the right wing evangelical neo conservative playbook.  The fact Hitchens is parroting them makes perfect sense.  He has always tried to market himself as a contradictory person (one who always speaks DA TRUTH) although many of his positions make no sense and seem much more tied to his own individual prejudices than anything else.

But sometimes when you are contradictory, it doesn’t mean you are a superior person, it just means you are an asshole!

I’ll leave the final word on the character of Christopher Hitchens to Alexander Cockburn writing in Counterpunch Magazine.
What a truly disgusting sack of shit Hitchens is. A guy who called Sid Blumenthal one of his best friends and then tried to have him thrown into prison for perjury; a guy who waited till his friend Edward Said was on his death bed before attacking him in the Atlantic Monthly; a guy who knows perfectly well the role Israel plays in US policy but who does not scruple to flail Cindy Sheehan as a LaRouchie and anti-Semite because, maybe, she dared mention the word Israel. She lost a son? Hitchens (who should perhaps be careful on the topic of sending children off to die) says that's of scant account, and no reason why we should take her seriously. Then he brays about the horrors let loose in Iraq if the troops come home, with no mention of how the invasion he worked for has already unleashed them.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


The lynch mobs that spring up to salivate and knot the noose whenever there is trial of a salacious or shocking nature not only include but are led by the media.  Rather than follow a story to its natural closure they instead whip the public into a frenzy and attempt to manipulate the story into whatever direction produces the most garish headlines and consequently advertising revenue.

Case in point is Dominique Strauss Kahn a man who has been publicly labeled as a serial rapist and sexual harasser.  All of which may be true.  If you asked me a month ago about the case against Strauss Kahn, I would have said he was a Grade A scumbag and most assuredly guilty.

The scumbag part is most likely still true but it is not necessarily mutually contradictory that he indulges in inappropriate behavior with women but is not guilty of the charge that he raped a maid in the hotel in which he was staying.

While the media lynch mob had already tarred and feathered Strauss Kahn, justice took his course and his accuser was also investigated.  The end result was the discovery that she was a.) Some sort of drug money launderer holding large sums of cash in multiple bank accounts for a boyfriend in prison who is a convicted drug dealer b.) Had lied about being raped on her immigration asylum application c.) Had also lied about other issues – how many children she had, her phones etc.

While none of those directly contradict her claim of being raped, what’s more troubling is that a.) She was also caught on tape seeming to relish that fact Strauss Kahn had a lot of money and implying blackmailing him b.) She has also been accused of being a prostitute while working as a maid at the hotel.

I no longer believe that Strauss Kahn is guilty of rape.  I believe it was more likely a paid for sexual encounter followed by a blackmail attempt gone wrong.  Again, this doesn’t excuse any other predatory male behavior Strauss Kahn may or may not have engaged in before.

The news media almost always gets it wrong in the days immediately following a newsworthy event not just in this case but from the Lindbergh Baby kidnapping to the trial of the Rosenbergs to the Kennedy Assassination to even more recent pop culture phenomenon such as the death of Phoebe Prince. The original story turns out not to be true at all.  Rather it’s the story that sells papers.

Now after a relentless call for blood spanning the whole trial, a jury has remembered its original function and decided that due to reasonable doubt (and the prosecution not proving its case) Casey Anthony is not guilty of the more serious charges leveled against her.  This is the right decision IMO based on what evidence was presented.

We are already hearing the howling of media vultures(I know vultures don’t howl but wolves seems too complimentary a term for them maybe hyenas would be better?)….


Monday, July 4, 2011


It has been awhile, seems like many years, since we have seen a player who can come up with the winning strategy against Rafael Nadal.  I say “the” and not “a” because the strategy is pretty clear….Don’t get into long rallies, go for winners, keep the points short, big first serves.  Very few players have been able to do this (virtually none the last few years).  Two early losses at the US Open, one to James Blake and one to Tomas Berdych, were the textbook examples of how to beat Nadal but as he raised his game on every level nobody could execute.

Until yesterday….

Novak Djokvic painted the lines, blasted winners, took control of most of the rallies, and introduced a unique and potentially troubling (for Nadal) twist-He went after the Nadal forehand worrying it the way a dog worries a bone.

Some other Wimbledon thoughts….

1.)    The #1 ranking is also Djokovic’s.  This ascension is a long time coming.  It was after the 2007 US Open final, Djoko’s first grand slam final that he lost to Federer, that people were saying it was no longer a two man race now a three man race at the top which was confirmed by Djoko’s Australian Open win a few months later.  After that though, whether it was due to loss of fitness, problems with his racket, changing his service motion or any number of reasons, Djoko couldn’t capitalize.  He still maintained a high ranking but couldn’t break the Federer-Nadal hold on grand slams. That’s all in the past now-Greatness confirmed!   

2.)    I’ve completely lost interest in women’s tennis.  There was a time in the late 80’s and early 90’s where women’s tennis was equal to or more interesting than men’s tennis.  The Navaratilova-Graf then Graf-Seles rivalry was fantastic and produced great tennis.  However, watching the uncouth no class Williams Sisters bash their opponents or some non entity win a tournament and then is never heard from again is no fun.  Maria Sharapova’s error ridden loss in the Wimbledon women’s  was not high level tennis.

3.)    There are always people lining up to catalog the decline of Roger Federer.  He is 29 years old almost 30 an old man in tennis years.  Only Andre Agassi in recent years (and Jimmy Connors before that) had steady success past 30.  Newsflash! he’s growing old.  When you look at what Federer, the greatest player ever in men’s tennis, has accomplished and how unparalleled these accomplishments are, you realize these people are idiots.

4.)    I used to not like Nadal partly because I questioned his use of illegal musclebuilding drugs and partly because I think he practices a sort of passive aggressive gamesmanship (Taking a long time between serves, injury timeouts at key points etc.)  However, all that changed once he won all four grand slams which seemed to herald a more mature Nadal.  This Wimbledon though he seemed to revert back to his old ways.  In particular, the issue about his foot. Sorry I just don’t believe it especially after watching him run around during the final.  All this talk of a foot injury was just a mind f*ck.

5.)    Very simply put, Andy Murray does not have the mindset of a champion.  Until he gets that, he will never win a grand slam.   

6.)    Despite his loss in the fourth round to Nadal, I still think that, assuming his body stays healthy, Juan Martin Del Potro has the potential to be a great champion and win a few more grand slams.

Now onto the hard court season and let’s see if Djoko can extend his 50-1 record (not to mention winning the US Open).       

Saturday, July 2, 2011


You never know what unexpected wonders you’ll find in Malaysian CD stores.  In the last couple of years, for example, I’ve been re-introduced to the underrated discography of The Hollies through reissues which my local music store started carrying for some unknown but deeply appreciated reason.

Earlier this week, I came across a marked down copy of STAR TIME, James Brown’s box set.  I owned a couple of Brown’s records in my late teens as they used to be readily available for a dollar or less at used record stores.  I recalled them as being awesome but he often repeats some of the same songs.  I had three different records that contained “Please, Please, Please” for example.

The music on STAR TIME is riveting.  I’ve always considered Brown’s position in musical history to be similar to Elvis Presley only the music is 100 times better and he was also better for a much longer period of time.  He was still making good music in the late 70’s.  Robert Christgau once said “James Brown is a walking genre of music”.

Brown’s grunts, “Heyssss”, passionate exclamations, randomly shouted non sequiters are purely from the gut.  Listening to James Brown’s music is a very visceral experience.

But oftentimes, Brown, despite his passion, his towering vocal stance, is not the star here.  It’s the musicians and the arrangements.  The drums are like robots with soul, perfect timekeeping but with feeling and tremendous rhythm and the guitars wow! Hypnotic is an understatement.  They say James Brown invented funk and rap but that music has become lazier and lazier.  James Brown’s music is tight as a spring and its tonality has more in common (and just as much influence) with REMAIN IN LIGHT and ENTERTAINMENT! as it does with THRILLER or AINT NOTHIN BUT A G THANG.