THE ABSENT - out now!


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


Out Now


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

Sunday, January 24, 2016


One type of article I see repeated online all the time is the ten best places in the world to live or something along those lines. These types of articles make very good clickbait. Hell, I click on them myself and they almost always feature the same countries – Northern European nations (Sweden, Norway, Denmark) and Switzerland with the prime factors being universal healthcare and education and gun control (although in the case of Switzerland it’s more like ammunition control). I can’t argue with any of these things, I support all of them but as a 50 year old childless man there are far more important details in selecting a country to live in.

Again, these are the things that are important to me. This is what I look for. Others likely feel different.

1.) I hate cold weather and snow. To me, the ideal place to live should have summer twelve months out of the year. I quite like powerful but brief tropical rain storms but I hate drizzle with pissing showers like an old man with a weak bladder.

2.) I like ethnic and cultural diversity. I like a multi-racial society. I like hearing a lot of different languages spoken and seeing a lot of cultures on display. A homogenous population isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it’s far less interesting and eventually you’ll have bigotry and chauvinism of some sort.

3.) Democracy is all well and good but more important is economic democracy. How do I measure this? Not by whether I can cast a meaningless vote (people can vote in Afghanistan and Iraq and it is symbolic only) but is it possible for me to start a business, better myself or is the system rigged or corrupt. Is there an entrepreneurial spirit present? Does the government allow small business to flourish? Does corruption and overregulation get in the way of this?

4.) Singapore is an okay place. I have been there number of times but I would never want to live there. A place where they give you a ticket for not flushing a public toilet or allowing standing water on your balcony is a society with too much involvement in the lives of its citizens. I want government present and functioning but not monitoring what I do or breathing down my neck. If a police car drives through your neighborhood every ten minutes, don’t pat yourself on the back for living in a country like that, instead ask the question why it is necessary for a police car to drive through your neighborhood every ten minutes.

5.) Sooner or later the way in which a country conducts itself in the world will directly affect life in that country. A violent imperialistic nation will eventually behave the same way at home. For example, I believe there is a direct connection between US actions abroad and the rise of a militarized out of control police force. “The chickens coming home to roost” as Malcolm X said. Oswald Spengler in DECLINE OF THE WEST also pointed to the link between an overextended foreign empire and the loss of liberty domestically as a sign of the decline of a civilization.

6.) Do the people of a country have the right balance between materialism and simpler ways of living? Do they work like dogs to acquire meaningless junk and how does society at large view the materialist mindset? America is so huge and overwhelming, how much influence does American type materialism have on your country of choice?

7.) Also American culture is also big and overwhelming and omnipresent. Do the citizens of a country still treasure their own traditions and ignore American dysfunctional pop culture? Are family ties still important? How do people behave in public do they have loud hissy fits if they don’t get their way or more controlled? Are the citizens of the country hedonistic, behaving like perpetual adolescents or do they sometime subvert their own needs for others? What is the divorce rate? Drug/alcohol/teen pregnancy etc.? While bad driving and not being able to stand in line properly drives me nuts I know this is because I am an American. More importantly how do people treat each other especially the ones they love? Spengler in DECLINE also noted the rise of a junk valueless culture as another sign of the death spiral of a civilization.

8.) I am an old happily married guy but if I was single that would be a consideration too. It’s a generalization to say this I realize but I prefer Asian women to Western women – On one hand, more conservative and less dysfunctional but on the other hand even though it is contradictory also more free of mind and spirit, less jaded, not necessarily more intelligent but more knowledgeable of the world and definitely more curious about it. I also like a society that has plenty of career and educational opportunities for women.

9.) Is the system of justice fair? Is it possible to get a fair trial? Are those accused treated the same despite differences in financial status and race/religion? Is punishment draconian or equal to the crime committed?

10.) I like the ocean, swimming in the ocean, the smell of the ocean, being near the ocean even though these days I don’t go to the beach all that often. I do like having the ability to go to the ocean if I want. I would not want to live somewhere that is landlocked. I don’t have to live in nature but I like being near nature say half an hour to an hour away from forest or jungle.

Saturday, January 23, 2016


Just finished watching HEROES REBORN and I thought overall it was a worthy continuation of the Heroes storyline. 

First the negatives – The various time travel plot elements got too convoluted and hard to follow.  At one point, when Hiro and Mama Petrelli went back to the past, I just kind of gave up.  Having Erica Kravid’s hatred of evo’s be a result of her sexual abuse by one as a teenager was a bit jarring and out of tune with usual heroes episodes which are violent but in a cartoonish way.  It does make perfect sense though.     

The positives – I really liked some of the new characters especially Katana Girl and Wreckless Ren which mirrored the story of Pinocchio.  The last scene between the real Katana Girl and Ren was perfect.   I liked the outright filching of plot ideas from the comic book story arcs Days of Future Passed and Kingdom Come as well as The Watchmen.  While Noah Bennett was integral to the Heroes series, I always viewed him as a villain and I was happy to see his death even if it seemed rushed and not dramatic enough.  Matt Parkman, pathetic weak cuckold, was always my least favorite character on Heroes and his decent into villainy as well as his ignominious fate made perfect sense.

Too bad there won’t be another season based around Claire’s babydaddy.  I hoped it would be Sylar although I found it interesting the person who left the note drank a strawberry milkshake in the ice cream parlor where Tommy works.  Samuel, the villain from season four, also liked strawberry milkshakes but he’s a bit old….Maybe Claire’s babbydaddy is his son?    

I am not sure if Fox is doing this in other countries but in Southeast Asia, in conjunction with the new Heroes series, they have been repeating all four seasons of the original HEROES show. I’ve seen every episode before but a while ago so I am rewatching to see if my opinion has changed (Something I also plan to do with BREAKING BAD when I get some time).

Well I still think the first season is one of the greatest single seasons of any TV show – complex, character driven but plenty of superhero action, tragedy, and twists, the closest a TV show has ever come to copying the multi-part narrative story arc flow of comic books. 

However, I have softened a bit on the other seasons – They are better than I remember. In particular, the first part of Season Three the VILLAINS storyline is superb with the always brilliant Robert Forster as a great megalomaniac type. Even the fourth season, my least favorite, seems okay now, perhaps too padded out and I still think the carnival of superhumans is not a strong enough threat to carry a whole season but I liked the Sylar/Peter/Nathan resolution (I think people who criticized that missed the point that Sylar is not really Sylar anymore rather a Nathan/Sylar combo).

In the end, what makes HEROES great is/was the characters – They are really well drawn, with great backstories and many facets to their personality. It’s not that big a genre but the best superhero TV show of all time IMO.


It has taken me awhile to put down what I wanted to say about David Bowie.  The main reason  being what I write sounds slightly negative even though I was fan of many of his records.

For starters, I think David Bowie was a great popularizer, a great synthesizer of existing musical trends that were underground.  Glam started with T Rex and both Marc Bolan and Roxy Music were more interesting musically and more to my preference, meant more to me personally but it was Bowie that made it big internationally.  The German music scene was vibrant and thrilling in the mid 70’s and Bowie took what he wanted from it to make classic music.

That is not to say Bowie did not make music that was interesting or innovative or powerful in its own way.  He wasn’t Nirvana pushed into milking an alternative scene whoring it out with dull commercialized tunes.  Bowie was at his best musically when he was in transition from one musical identity to another, shifting scenes.  My favorite album (and song) is an example of this - STATION TO STATION.  The title track is powerful, complex.  I’m a sucker for a song that changes melodies halfway throughout.  The intro is amazing – one of the best of all time.  Other favorite Bowie albums – HUNKY DORY, EARTHLING, SCARY MONSTERS, HEROES.  I think everything he did up to the early 1980’s is great or near great.  I am NOT a fan at all of the LET’S DANCE era which always seemed like a pathetic sell-out – Bowie now copying those who copied him.  However I think some of his 90’s – early 2000’s records were also quite good.

There are a lot of things Bowie was famous for but one thing that is hardly mentioned is songwriting. I was listening to random Bowie songs last night and couldn’t recall who wrote what so checked the credits. Most if not all of his best songs during arguably his best period 1970 to 1980 were written by him. Most of the records he released during this period are 70% to 80% sole Bowie compositions not to mention songs he wrote for other artists such as All the Young Dudes (always a favorite of mine). When you consider the quality of the songs he was producing, that’s quite amazing!

Bowie also meant a lot as the central figure in a very large cult of fans.  On ZIGGY STARDUST in particular on songs like Rock and Roll Suicide (“You are not alone”) Bowie forged a relationship with his audience, kind of like “I am one of you”. I’ve seen a lot of people say that they felt like misfits until Bowie first appeared (separated by gender/sexuality, lack of interest in a material society or even just having an open mind) and they finally found someone they could connect to.  I am not trying to turn this into bashing America or the West in general but that kind of aloneness, opulence everywhere, too much freedom but no skills or resources to grab it is even more frustrating I imagine than being in a much more conservative country. I think Morrissey’s fans have similar but even more intense feelings (I should know – I am one ).

I’ve recently read a lot of people calling Bowie post-mortem The Beatles of the 70’s.  In the 70’s he made one great record after anther although the music sometimes didn’t necessarily change as much as his appearance.  He was constantly growing, trying to expand his musical boundaries.

So RIP David Bowie....Sad to say I don’t think we’ll see someone of his musical curiosity and desire to do different things again.  The economy as it relates to music has totally changed.  Depressing but at least we have his records.

Sunday, January 3, 2016


Upon the conclusion of the first season of Ash vs Evil Dead, I would just say that it was friggin' excellent and has quickly become my current favorite television show.  As much humor as horror but with plenty of gory violence too. The Ash Williams here is more like the Bruce Campbell character from MY NAME IS BRUCE (Complete with ramshackle trailer).  Part middle aged loser and moron, part killing machine and terminator of demons.

This show is more than just a collection of moments although there are many brilliant ones in the first season - The battle with the elderly possessed neighbor in the premiere, the battle with the possessed parents, the battle in the restaurant, with Evil Ash, and the finale which potentially sets up a bigger confrontation and a bigger setting for confrontation in the second season.

I don't think I have seen a show or movie that had so many different funny wisecracks delivered during a kill.  Mostly they save them up for a few key scenes but in Ash vs Evil Dead, they are sprinkled freely.  My favorite might be "Now that's what I call cleavage".

The key here is Bruce Campbell who is Ash in a way no other actor could ever be.  His persona is so mixed in with the character - hard to know where our perception of Ash ends and Campbell begins.  Basically, it's always good to see Bruce Campbell in anything.

The gore was nasty and uncompromising but usually part of an equally humorous action scene so one has a hard time taking it seriously.  Yes, people die horribly but there is Ash with his chainsaw arm and shotgun cracking wise and righting the situation.

Truth is I could care less about the secondary characters although they didn't get in the way (The beautiful Jill Marie Jones as Amanda Fischer was an engaging foil for Ash until her untimely end). I just hope next season is as much grisly fun!


My first blog post of 2016 is about two records from 2015 I heard recently that I enjoyed

The Fiction Aisle's debut HEART MAP RUBRIC is a beautiful record, orchestral, moody, genuinely pretty arrangements and melodies, fans of the Lilac Time/Prefab Sprout/Trashcan Sinatras will like this. The low register vocals may remind one of Elbow as well. The Fiction Aisle's leader is Thomas White whose previous band Electric Soft Parade made one of my favorite records of the 2000's HOLES IN THE WALL. My favorite tunes after a couple listens - Sleep Tight, Love Come Save Me, Major Seventh, The Colour of Morning, Outskirts.

Saxon may be viewed as Spinal Tap ridiculous but they are one of my favorite metal bands with a big proto thrash sound, great vocalist in Biff Byford, and epic songs. Their first five records are relentless culminating in 1983's POWER & THE GLORY - One of my favorite metal records of all time, a metal band at their musical apex. Their only weakness was a predilection for the occasional power ballad (which sandbagged their career from the mid 80's to the mid 90's when they came back with the excellent UNLEASH THE BEAST)....Their 21st studio album BATTERING RAM eschews the ballads for one power riff fest after another starting with the one two punch of the title track and the Devil's Footprint which open the record. These are old dudes but they get that power metal should be listenable fast and melodic.