Wednesday, August 5, 2020

STRICTLY FOR PUSSY LOVERS (repost)

Cats are oh so dramatic...
Not roast chicken again!
Keeps the whiskers dry.
Erks!
Waterboarding a Taliban cat.
No Keep Off The Grass signs either...
Come on, let's do the penguin shuffle!
Bolero!
Alledgedly asleep...
Cat Stevens before he became a dog.
Pass me the monkey wrench, will you?
Federico Felini & Caterine Deneuve
Karate Kat
Late again... never date a Persian!
Jaws with paws.
Can you fetch the sunblock, honey?
Let this be a warning to you. No more street protests!
Merce Cunningham's cat.
Kung Fu Kat.
Suck my tail.
Oops... dropped the tampon!
Chinaman bite cat... not news.

Good to have some me-ow time.



This post is dedicated to 
the sweet furry memory of 
Solara's magickal cat,
Mari-Mari.


This bunk is taken. 
Hrrmmmmph.
[First posted 6 June 2012, reposted 5 August 2015]

Monday, August 3, 2020

Exploiting Religious Insecurities (reprise)

A Malay Student Front representative (left) gatecrashes the Bar Council's forum yesterday on Islamic conversion, yelling: “I represent Umno. Stop this forum! Don’t insult Islam! You... Chinese, Indians, go to hell!” (Photos courtesy of Malaysiakini) 

Never a dull moment. That sums up Malaysian politics since the 12th General Election on 8 March 2008. Even as the nation celebrates the 61st birthday of prime minister elect Anwar Ibrahim in eager anticipation of a smooth transition of power come September, we are rudely reminded of the wide disparities that divide Muslims from non-Muslims, Malays from non-Malays. Disparities easily exploited by those frightened by the sweeping transformations underway and who can always be counted upon to resort to the race-and-religion card to protect their own vested interests. 

At this crucial juncture in our political evolution, we have to keep a cool head and stay calm. Five months after the political earthquake that forever altered the course of Malaysian politics, there are still many who fail to comprehend the big picture. Scared and confused by the rapid changes they see around them, they can be easily goaded into creating havoc on the streets - thereby giving the fascist BN government an excuse to declare an emergency and reclaim their power through military rule. Don't forget who's still in charge of the Defence and Home Ministries.

We must not allow reactionary forces to whip up ancient fears and resentments in order to thwart our collective dream of a mature, multiracial, multicultural nation at peace with itself and prospering as a harmonious rainbow family. Remember, 300 misguided religionists do not speak for 27 million. No matter where you go, you will find a handful who cling fanatically to narrow, sectarian beliefs. In a healthy, mature society, opposing views can be expressed without recourse to violence. The Bar Council, after all, hosted the forum mainly to bring certain "sensitive" issues into the open by encouraging intelligent public debate. The timing, as it turns out, wasn't quite right.

Nevertheless, it's particularly depressing to note that Zulkifli Noordin, PKR's Kulim-Bandar Baharu MP, was among the leaders of yesterday's rowdy protest over the Bar Council forum. What message is Zulkifli sending to all those who have put their faith in a Pakatan Rakyat government? That when it comes to questions of Malay rights and religious freedom, nothing will change? This, of course, puts Anwar Ibrahim in an awkward spot. If he advises people like Zulkifli within PKR to downplay religious differences, Umno will be quick to use that as evidence that Anwar will sell out the Malays. After so many decades of Barisan Nasional's racist policies and divisive politics, it will take some time for the people to voluntarily break down the walls of interethnic mistrust and build solid bridges of understanding and love between the various communities. With Pakatan Rakyat in charge of the Ministry of Information, the powerful reach of the mass media can be utilized to foster genuine friendship and the spirit of cooperative symbiosis amongst all ethnic groups - rather than keep racial and religious issues simmering undebated and unresolved. 

Allow me to use an analogy to illustrate the situation we are faced with in Malaysia. Let's say we're flying 20,000 feet above sea level in an airplane and a few of us are veteran skydivers eagerly anticipating the moment we hurl ourselves from the aircraft and experience the sheer ecstasy of freefall before we pull the cord of our parachutes and float gracefully down to the ground.

Now, can you imagine the fear and hesitation you might feel if you've never done this before? Do we despise the novices in our midst and jeer at their cowardice? That would be extremely unkind and uncouth. We mustn't push them either - because we would then be responsible if, in their panic, they forget to pull the cord and plunge to their deaths. Those of us who have long outgrown our emotional attachment to a particular belief system can be compared to veteran skydivers who have taken that leap of faith into the unknown many times before. The novices have yet to experience the sense of freedom one feels when liberated from childhood indoctrination and social rituals. Naturally, the unknown scares them. They cling to the safety of the aircraft rather then hurl themselves wholeheartedly and gleefully into the freedom of speculative metaphysics, rational secularism, agnosticism, atheism, or pantheistic mysticism.

But, given a little more time and encouragement, they will one day become veteran skydivers too. In other words, when dealing with folks who are emotionally attached to a particular belief system - and who closely identify with belonging to a specific ethnic group - it's pointless to force the issue or waste your breath trying to talk them out of it. Just love and honor them wholeheartedly regardless of their belief systems. Remember, it's really a question of software preferences. Some people are constantly upgrading to the latest versions of everything - while others haven't even taken their first tentative steps into the digital age. Some folks are neophiles (swift to embrace the new) and others are neophobes (terrified of new ideas). In any community, some individuals serve as the accelerators of evolution; while others function as the brakes. Good driving requires that we step on the accelerator more often than the brakes - which means the more adventurous and open-minded members of the family are the natural-born leaders, while the more conservative ones keep us from speeding too fast and colliding with obstacles. They're the ones who remind us of our origins and heritage and keep us rooted to terra firma, to Mother Earth. I have absolute faith that given sufficient time, all belief systems begin to mellow or break down into simpler elements - and yesterday's fanatics will be tomorrow's sages.

[Read Moris Farhi's excellent essay, God Save Us From Religion! First posted 10 August 2008]

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

This mutant mural artist BLU my mind! (repost)



Italian artist BLU is famous for painting politically and socially charged street murals, but his recent project involving street animation may be his most visually stunning. Called MUTO, the video is a series of digital stills assembled from sequential paintings on the streets and walls of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

a collaborative animation by Blu and David Ellisyear 2009
produced by studio cromiemusic by Roberto Langemade at Fame festival 2009

[Brought to my enthusiastic attention by Lawrence Hultberg. First posted 10 July 2010]

Friday, July 24, 2020

Hologram warps, cosmic initiations, resurrection and immortality (revisited)


Sha'Tara (a Canadian shaman) wrote on 15 January 2003:

Have you noticed, privately, how truly "STRANGE" these days seem to be for us? Nothing really seems to make sense, and as far as "normal" activities, say what? Stuff in this reality seems to be fading like a dream from which we are awakening. Once in a while, I get hooked into something, work or some creative activity with the hands for example, only to feel little or nothing after it's done.

Not sure if what you're describing is the same "sense of utter futility" that plagues me occasionally (even in recent years, after a series of initiations and peak experiences which served to anchor me more firmly in my heart chakra). If it is, then it's probably an occupational hazard of human incarnations.

This phenomenon applies to just about EVERYTHING humans commonly experience - whether love and romance, or delight over something our minds have produced like a poem or a drawing or piece of music. I attribute the emotional flux to "low" and "high" energy states, e.g., everything invariably appears more attractive, more promising when I'm well rested and energetically stable; but even a magnificent rainbow doesn't move us when we're exhausted or mildly depressed (which could be the same thing, really). Went through extended periods when I felt like hibernating. I usually allow myself as much sleep as I need to regenerate my vitality and joie de vivre.

Like I'm waiting for something to happen... and not sure if I'm supposed to make it happen, or supposed to wait, or just forget about it all and go through the motions of life in 3-D physical form.

Well, if you're not sure what exactly it is that's about to happen, how can you "make it happen"? I'm pretty sure heaven is about to happen on earth - most times! - but evidence to the contrary (as reported through other perspectives, people I meet who don't share my metaphysical standpoint or belief system, the mass media, etc) sometimes makes me pause and reassess my own private expectations.

And since we're repeatedly advised to let go of expectations lest we suffer perpetual disappointment, I take such moments as a cue to return to Emotional Zero - a neutral zone of High Indifference favored by rinpoches or folks who have, cosmically speaking, "binder dundat." Not always easy or possible, but all feedback - positive, negative, or neutral - is invariably useful to the scientific-gnostic quest.

Strangely freeing with a touch of apprehension, sadness and wonder. I think, if we could remember, that is likely how we felt when approaching the time of our physical birth... So... does this mean we have one more very real, if short, painful process to undergo... one more "test"?


Tests, tests, tests! We've all had enough of tests! Trials and bloody tribulations, my foot! I'm not even in goddamn SCHOOL!!! Nope, I refuse to view obstacles in my path or temporary setbacks as "tests." I accept these moments of danger or crisis as part of the overall adventure of the earthly 3D adventure. As a kayaker, you must know the exhilaration of successfully negotiating a particularly hazardous stretch of river or finding your way out of a proper tangle. Good to keep our navigational and acrobatic skills free of rust.

Question: What about that titillating "resurrection" or rejuvenation of the physical body? Any thoughts on that, O Ancient One?

Hey, I'm not THAT old!!! Yes, I have had vague glimpses into the Resurrection and Rejuvenation scenarios - and they invariably involved Elohim technology. Seems to me there are technically advanced beings that have mastered highly esoteric arts like preserving an individual's memory banks in some species of organic computer (say, a crystal chamber) while a new physical vehicle is cloned or repaired. Indeed, I chanced upon some excerpts from Al Bielek's report that revealed some interesting stuff going on under wraps at secret laboratories with access to Grey technology: seems the Greys have long acquired the technical knowhow to perform a low-grade version of resurrection, including the construction of quasi-human personalities for the metaprogramming of androids. These days it gets harder and harder to tell who's really steering which ship of state!

I have had occasion to inform my 86-year-old dad that his physical vehicle may have to undergo the traditional death process because his belief system does not allow for in-body rejuvenation or outright ascension via sub-cellular transmutation. But, I also reassured him that he'd like his new Resurrection Body - which would retain its 35-year-old appeal indefinitely.

Speaking of rejuvenation, my friend Katharina Bless recently told me about the Himalayan Crystal Salt she's distributing. Apparently, this crystalline salt is millions or even billions of years old, and is mined manually in the Himalayas. A wee bit added to our daily diet will allegedly work wonders on our transmutation into 5th dimensional entities, as the salt promotes the functioning of our 12-strand DNA. But that's about all I know about it. Have ordered a pound of the stuff to try.

Now I can't say why I feel physical rejuvenation, resurrection, and light-body ascension to be true or even achievable - I mean, our potential for regaining a species of immortality. However, I'm not overly concerned about outcomes, as I don't have a big issue with physical or ego death. It's just that I feel death may become unnecessary as the Soul regains a clear sense of cosmic continuity and releases itself from the mundane effects of karma - birth, death & rebirth on the wheel of repeated incarnations - and accepts total responsibility for its own experiential states.

Does this resonate with you, Sha', or anyone else?

Antares
aka "The Ancient of Days"


[First posted 20 June 2012, reposted 18 April 2014 & 22 April 2019]

BIRTHPLACE RECLAIMED! (reprise)




Freestyle dance music commissioned by Chandrabhanu (Bharatam Dance Company, Melbourne) in late 1992; world premiere in January 1993 @ PJ Civic Center. 

Composed, performed & produced by Antares & Friends 

Minah Angong (vocals); Sunetra Fernando (vocals, rebab & percussion); Rafique Rashid (sequencing, percussion, vocal effects, engineering & mixing); Tim Bremser (12-string guitar, drum programming, percussion, vocal effects & mixing); Antares (shepherd's flute, Balinese flutes, synthesizer, didgeridoo, percussion & vocal effects) 

Digitally remastered in September 2012 by Thomas Smorek

As the title suggests, this choreographic work attempts to chronicle the loss of innocence every individual and every community experiences when the spurious concept of "progress" encroaches and transforms the land into an eco-systemic and psycho-emotional hell. From Dreamtime to Machinetime; thence a period of spiritual confusion and intense questing, followed at last by not so much a return to an imaginary pristine past - but a reconciliation with present reality, wherein ancient and modern realities begin to ecstatically fuse, thereby generating a fresh creation.

Sometime towards the end of 1992 I was contacted by celebrated dancer-choreographer Ramli Ibrahim (founder & artistic director of Sutra Foundation) who asked if I was keen to take on a commission to produce 30 minutes of music for Chandrabhanu, a Melbourne-based master of the Bharatanatyam.

Of course I said yes and soon a meeting with Chandrabhanu was set up. He had in mind a freestyle contemporary choreographic work titled Birthplace Reclaimed which he wished to premiere at a dance festival hosted by Sutra at the PJ Civic Center in early 1993.

I immediately got to work on the music, visualizing a circle and 4 cardinal points - an ancient symbol for Mother Earth. 

As Chandrabhanu had only a limited budget, I was unable to rent a professional studio for the task. So I recruited Rafique Rashid as a musical conspirator and sound engineer. He was living in Kuala Kubu Bharu at the time in a shophouse and had a workable 4-track home studio. He called it Batorvilla Studio (inspired by Ulan Bator, the Mongolian capital after which he had named his comic-book alter ego).

At the time we had Tim Bremser - an Enochian magickian, visual artist & musician from Winnipeg, Canada - living at Magick River. Tim owned a 12-string guitar & a TEAC 4-track mixer-recorder which could be tandemed with Rafique's Akai 4-track. Sunetra Fernando, taking a break from her ethnomusicological research in gamelan, showed up one day & was promptly recruited.

Perlis-born Chandrabhanu arrived in Melbourne in 1971 to study social anthropology.

Minah Angong at the Sarawak Rainforest World Music 
Festival in August 1998
To explain what I had in mind, I drew a chart dividing the music into four movements: the first movement (Dreamtime) would depict an idyllic, edenic way of life, interrupted by the advent of industrialization (Machinetime, second movement). 

The third movement (Spacetime) would represent a period of confusion born of the conflict between inner and outer realities. Finally, a reconciliation of past and future, a fusion of tradition and innovation, paving the way for us to reclaim our birthplace.

Rafique and I had already experimented with dropping Minah Angong's cold voice on top of an instrumental work-in-progress. The result exceeded all expectations and augured the beginning of a rewarding musical collaboration called Akar Umbi.

A ceremonial singer from the indigenous Temuan tribe, Minah Angong had been taught the song "Burung Meniyun" by her late husband, the headman of Gerachi Village. It felt so right that we should incorporate the indigenous soul into Birthplace Reclaimed.

We had to record at night because Batorvilla Studio wasn't soundproofed. The traffic noise was too intrusive during the daylight hours. Sunetra was learning to play the rebab, a two-stringed violin introduced to Southeast Asia by the Arabs. It sounded great passed through a guitar effects box. Getting the mix right was crazy work, with both Rafique and Tim handling the crossfades and controlling levels with both hands on two different 4-track decks.

When Chandrabhanu heard the fruits of our nocturnal labors, he instantly liked it. Then he asked if Minah Angong would be able to sing "Burung Meniyun" live on stage. She had never performed on any stage, as far as I knew, but we decided to give it a go. Rafique would produce two versions of the music - one with Minah's voice mixed in; the other without, so it could be used as a minus-one for her live vocal. We took Minah to the technical rehearsal and put her to the test. She passed with flying colors (after a false start owing to nervousness) and wowed the packed hall on opening night.

Minah Angong with Antares & Chandrabanu (costumed as a shaman).


[First posted 18 December 2014, reposted 8 July 2018 & 11 April 2019]


Thursday, July 23, 2020

Horace Tan’s Horrible Skin Condition (& how Mrs Tan cured it) ~ a bizarre short story by Antares

This story began its life in 1967 as a high school creative writing assignment. It was originally titled Herbert von Schenke’s Rare & Disconcerting Problem – And How Dutiful Delilah Solved It. I dusted it off in 1987 and fleshed it out for a short-story writing competition. It was awarded a consolation prize. I subsequently sold it to Men’s Review, a trendy monthly magazine, in 1995, along with a couple of new illustrations. And now, here it is again in its latest incarnation as a blogpost (first uploaded 26 May 2007), which only goes to show that there's a future in recycling one’s past...


HUMMING WITH above-average self-confidence, Mr Horace H.L. Tan would flounce down the street each day, despite his rare and disconcerting Skin Condition.

And an uncommonly horrible problem his was at that: poor Mr Tan was burdened at birth with the distressing misfortune of Loose Skin.

When Horace was but a day old everyone had tried to dismiss the issue with humor, saying how charmingly like a plump little prune he looked. The doctors had conducted a series of expensive tests and, after serious conference, had diagnosed the child’s condition as “a most unusual case of acutely uncoordinated cuticular cellulation.”

“Probably a passing phase,” the doctors had declared in reassuring unison, fondly tickling the gurgling bundle of joyful wrinkles that glistened in its cot.

“Don’t worry, dear, he’ll grow into it,” Horace’s father had said, with sensible optimism.

“’Tis God’s Will,” Horace’s mother had responded, carefully powdering her infant and arranging his skin in neat folds, with stoic affection.

As to be expected, young Horace encountered traumatic difficulties in trying to gain the acceptance of society. At school the other children mercilessly mocked his pleated skin: “Jellyfish, smellyfish,” they chanted, “just go away, that’s all we wish!”

Before long Horace had acquired an aura of grand isolation arising from his dermatological uniqueness. Some called it freakishness, but never to his face, for his features had by now become very much enshrouded in the spotty skin of adolescence. Nobody could think of anything meaningful to say to him, and he remained enveloped within himself. For Horace Tan it was one of life’s poignant ironies that he should suffer a total deprivation of the sense of kinship, while enjoying a superabundance of skin.

But he comforted himself by recalling his father’s last words: “A great man, Horace my boy, must have the courage to be different. The ugliest insults to one’s dignity are, at their worst, only skin-deep.” At one time Horace Tan’s father had been the owner of a famous reptile farm (featured on all the tourist maps).

After her husband’s death, Horace Tan’s mother had sold the business and established a trust fund for her only son. She somehow knew her own days were numbered.

Solace also came to Horace in the sweet, unselfish person of Philomena P’ng, a quiet girl from the local orphanage who had been engaged as his handmaid and cosmetician. Not having really had a proper upbringing she had been spared the normal quota of prejudices that children inevitably absorb from their parents.


Now, Horace’s extraordinary hide had attained new dimensions in horniness ever since puberty – for his prodigious dermal development was accompanied by no significant loss of tactile sensitivity. Perhaps in defiance of his own physical shortcomings, he had perversely cultivated a keen interest in feminine pulchritude (which would later prove valuable in his professional life).

For the present, Horace had to make do with Philomena P’ng’s services. No doubt she struck Horace as a morsel too bland for his exotic taste, but she did seem to care for him above and beyond the call of her domestic and cosmetic duties. In fact, after the death of his parents, Horace’s only companion was Philomena – and hers the only other human skin he had touched.

At nineteen-and-a-half Horace Tan stopped growing. But not his skin. It was now at least three sizes too large for him. (To get a more graphic idea of how Horace looked at this stage, slip an old condom over your index finger and wiggle it.) However, to a sympathetic eye, Horace did not appear at all repulsive – thanks to Philomena’s conscientious and tender ministrations which kept his overall complexion clear and healthy. A ridiculous proportion of their monthly expenses, however, went towards imported skin care products.

Since his strange affliction precluded active participation in sports and other social games, Horace had naturally turned to books. (He rarely watched television, complaining that he found the “superficiality and false glamor of TV-land “ in poor taste.) During this period he chanced upon Frank Herbert’s Dune stories which profoundly altered his self-image: Horace was drawn irresistibly into a quasi-mystical identification with the Hero - whose horrendous transmogrification into a hideous heap of omniscient protoplasm earns him the status of Emperor God. The silent contempt Horace felt towards the human hordes that pride themselves on Normalcy became even more pronounced.


FOR A FEW best forgotten years, Horace Tan supplemented his dwindling trust fund income by submitting his Skin Condition to public exhibition. He was billed as “The Incredible Human Fungus.” It was disgusting and demeaning, true, but on weekends the takings were appreciable. Philomena set up a tea stall outside. Soon, a multi-cultural element (consisting of two giggly Thai women wrestling in French salad dressing) was incorporated into Horace’s Human Fungus routine. While Philomena diverted curious policemen with her excellent tea and delicious margarine rolls, Horace livened up his act with a series of other ingeniously flamboyant titillations. “Fun on Fungus” evolved into a fantastic money-spinner, and Horace H.L. Tan was well on his way to true-blue entrepreneurship. “They want skin… I sell them SKIN!” became his private credo.


And with that Horace Tan married Philomena P’ng, bought her a gleaming new chain of fast-food outlets, and installed himself as the Invisible Godfather of a proliferous network of adult video agencies. It was the perfect climate for purveyors of preserved prurience: hot, humid and hypocritical.

Working behind the scenes with transcendental vulgarity, Horace swiftly established a vast and venal empire of ‘musical’ coffeehouses, ‘massage’ salons and ‘sex-clusive’ health clubs. Meanwhile, video vice was doing very well, thank you, with the staunch support of the nation’s puritan aunts and uncles: the more they raved, the more they rented (this was before the advent of the internet made rented videos obsolete). When the Official Outcry Over Obscenity and Hedonism (OOOOH) reached a premature climax of impassioned publicity resulting in Nocturnal Omissions by the Blind Forces of Moral Erectitude (ref. Raids & Seizures Act, Amendment V, 1969), Horace gently pulled out of pornography and plunged into other, more personally gratifying pursuits.

He took up a correspondence course in Amateur Dermatology and soon was acknowledged as the World’s Foremost Authority on the tragic case history of John Merrick (the original Elephant Man). Inspired by one of Alan Sherman’s doggerel ditties (“You gotta have skin/All you ever really need is skin…”), Horace next tried underwriting and producing a musical extravaganza (predictably called Skin). The critics dismissed the whole show as “a flabby and shabby flop” but its lyrical content, though accused of “unrestrained idiosyncrasy and self-vindication,” was occasionally brilliant:

Skin is a most precious commodity
Especially when it stretches to Infinity;
Although a few fools think me an oddity,
My ego-encompassing epidermal packaging
Gives me a great sense of Divinity!

Skin, luxurious skin:
Oo, it’s the nicest stuff to be in!
Come rain or shine it won’t fade with time;
Yes! skin is a substance sublime.

Skin, my glorious skin:
Where do you end, where do I begin?
Who cares! just send up an endless supply
Of skin…


But most of all Horace cherished his regular afternoon jaunts. When the sun warmed him like a chappati and the breeze billowed his cheeks like a Sultan’s birthday banners, he would pause and tuck the freehanging ends of his knobby kneeskin into his superstretched socks (so as not to trip and embarrass himself). And he would think fondly of faithful Philomena: so passionate, so patient, so practical, so resilient and resourceful. And his entire skin would quiver with a peculiar pleasure.

Having thus worked up a voluminous appetite Horace would hurry over (the best he could) to his wife’s nearest outlet, where he would drowse behind the giant microwave ovens and wait for the last patron to leave, before doing hungry justice to the day’s remnants of frankfurters, French fries and fruit pies.

And yet, Horace Tan’s marital, epidermal and gastronomical contentment was clouded by the horrid certainty that the rate of his Gross Dermal Product was obviously and undeniably proportional to his age. In other words, Mr Tan’s horrible Skin Condition was STILL getting worse (notwithstanding his remarkable psychological triumph over the cruel bathos of Fate).

"Each day the dutiful Mrs Tan would scrape off the waxy waste with a scoop and sell it by the tub to an orchid fertilizer factory."



BEFORE HE REACHED 44 the unfortunate Mr Horace Tan had become quite incapable of carrying out the simplest tasks of daily living. His devoted wife soon had to administer liquid food to him through a veterinary hypodermic (it was impossible to locate his mouth); walk him in a heavy-duty motorized wheelbarrow (his feet were hard to find); read, or rather, shout the morning and afternoon papers to him (his eyes had for years been buried beneath pachydermoid lids and he hardly had ears to speak of or into); scratch him whenever he had an itch (and he had more than a few); and hose him down thrice a day (to reduce his profuse transpiration).

Almost all his natural bodily functions had undergone a bizarre mutation. He no longer had to “go to the toilet.” Instead he exuded, at regular intervals, a resinous effluent which, although slightly unpleasant in odor, was wonderfully conducive to plant growth. Each day the dutiful Mrs Tan would scrape off the waxy waste with a scoop and sell it by the tub to an orchid fertilizer factory. Then she would turn on the electric shower system in the ceiling and spray her husband with Dettol, followed by Odorono. At night she had to tape his facial folds to the wall to prevent his suffocating in his sleep as he lay helpless on his foam-rubber floor like a retired Portuguese man-of-war. It was a truly unhappy existence, even for such a positive-thinking pair.

Despite his Herculean struggles with dermal density, heroic Horace never forgot each night to whisper hoarsely, albeit inaudibly, to his wife: “Hey, Sugar-Melon… stick around. I… I’ll show you a good time yet!” (Alas, a rarely fulfilled promise.)

Philomena Tan, with phenomenal determination and without prejudice, divided her time equally between running her fast-food chain and attending to her poor husband’s saprophytic existence. But as each day dragged saggingly by with no miracle in sight, and even the subcutaneous sound of Horace’s voice receded beyond the effective range of the electronic bugs implanted within his remote recesses, Philomena began to admit that things looked grave.


The last time she heard him speak was through a medium. He sounded deeply regretful to have imposed such a massive burden on her, and begged her over and over again to put him out of his monstrous misery. She had replied (through the medium): “But, Horace! After all we’ve been through, how can I get rid of you?” (“I’m sure you’ll think of something,” Horace had quipped via the medium. At least he still had his sense of humor.)

What with the bourgeoisie rabidly bourgeoning and its insatiable demand for junk food, Mrs Tan was kept too busy to indulge in self-pity. Not till the weekend did she find time to ponder a possible cure for her husband’s horrible Skin Condition. Every known medical approach had been attempted to no avail: Allopathic, Ayurvedic, Homeopathic, Dianetic, even Acupuncture, Ch’i Qong, Hypnotism, Mind Control, Reiki, Aloe Vera, Aromatherapy, Aurasoma, Past Life Regression, Royal Jelly, Lourdes Water, Mystic Ash, Prayer and Tiger Balm.

Then she remembered having seen, among some ancient books collecting dust in the basement, a frayed edition of Dr J.S. Petit’s quaint classic, 101 Ways To Cure Skin (published in 1903). The book had probably belonged to Horace’s paternal grandfather. In a thrice Philomena was rummaging through the musty accumulations of three generations of Tans until, at last, she retrieved the slim volume. Hands trembling, she began her desperate research, struggling over Dr Petit’s worm-eaten archaisms.

The following week, having secured “a good supply of tannin and gambier,” she mixed the recommended ingredients into a concentrated solution and added this regularly to her spongoid spouse’s nutrient injections. There was no way of knowing if the treatment would work. Now that hope and faith seemed useless, only luck remained.

One evening some weeks later she arrived with her husband’s food syringe to find his discolored and deflated blimp-like bulk even more devoid of human semblance than usual. Missing were the familiar rumbling undulations of inexpressible yearning that preceded every meal. “Horace!” she cried distractedly. “Horace, wake up! Your dinner’s getting cold!”

There was no response. Not a single heave, nor the subtlest quiver. “HORACE??” She began poking all over the unmoving mammoth mound of flaccid cuticle, looking for traces of her erstwhile matrimonial partner, but found absolutely nothing: nothing vaguely suggesting an arm or a leg or a protuberance of any description. Horace H.L. Tan had apparently dissolved into the labyrinthine folds of his own skin.

Perhaps for the first time in her life Philomena P’ng broke down and wept. But not for very long. Within a year, the phenomenal Philomena had gathered her resources and opened a classy boutique in Star Hill Plaza selling a chic selection of designer Belts, Boots, Handbags, Shoes, Wallets, Vests, Cigarette Cases, Pipe Pouches, Money Belts, and so on. The turnover was simply sensational. A massive promotional campaign was launched in Hong Kong, Taipeh, London, Paris, New York and Los Angeles, and exports began in earnest. Soon, the House of Horace could boast the rare distinction of being the “World Leader in Quality Leather.” Well, at least till the supply fizzled out… and, horror of horrors, it eventually did, poor Horace.

© Antares 1967, 1987, 1995, 2001, 2007, 2009, 2013, 2019 [Last reposted 6 November 2013 & 20 August 2019]




Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Zeitgeist ~ The Movie (Remastered & Updated Edition)



This hardworking documentary by percussionist Peter Joseph speaks for itself. A lot of thought and feeling went into its making. Part Three is especially important. You may also view it at the original site.

Originally released in 2007, this version contains a few updates from 2010.

[First posted 8 July 2007, reposted in 2010]

3 Short Poems (repost)

MEMO TO MO

God sat in His Office
a little worn out.
The Day wasn’t done
and the Night Before
cluttered His desk.

Maureen, He said, picking up
the phone: cancel
Everything!
I want to be Alone
with You.



SIR OILY

Sir Oily and his goily
Went swimming in the sea
And were eaten by a big fat slick
The same that got Moby Dick




A POEM ABOUT THE SEA


I sat on a dead tree
watching the mighty rollers
break upon the shore

And I said to myself,
“I shall write a poem about the sea!”

Whereupon wave after wave
of appropriate phrases
flooded into my brain
and drowned me.


[From MOTH BALLS, Magick River, 1994. First posted 19 February 2007]


Friday, July 17, 2020

Worse than Mossad, worse than the Japs... (reprise)



By Joseph Sipalan | Malaysiakini
July 12, 2010 2:59pm

A solitary bulb hangs from the ceiling, barely lighting the blackened walls of the cell that trap him like a rat.

In the tiny, windowless room, he battles madness from within and relentless chill from without.

He has lost all sense of time, of how long he has been left to freeze in this hole, how long he has gone without sleep.

A loud rap or a kick against the door ensures he is kept on the brink of consciousness and reason.

Ironically, he holds on to his fragile sanity by virtue of the physical pain visited upon him by the man whom, to the victim, has come to embody fear itself.

Fear runs down his spine with every blood-curdling scream he hears from beyond his confines, every sickening thud that echoes through the walls. It's only a matter of time before 'he' comes back for more

A year has passed, but N Tharmendran, 42, can vividly recount every detail of the internal military investigation that he claims he was subjected to, as if it was just yesterday.

Tharmendran, a former RMAF sergeant who has been charged over the theft of two jet-fighter engines, claimed he was detained and tortured by military intelligence for three weeks in connection with the case.

Tharmendran alleged that the favourite method of his interrogators - allegedly led by a major and his assistant, also a major - was to make him wear a crash helmet and repeatedly hit him as hard as possible.

“They used a golf stick and something long like a cricket bat. The reason is that when you hit me with a helmet (on), there's no mark. You can't find any mark, but the pain is internal pain,” he told Malaysiakini.

“That's what Major (name withheld) told me. (He said) 'I can hit you how hard I want, but there won't be any mark. Even (if) you go to the doctor he will say you only have (a) headache'.'”

And because of the physical abuse, Tharmendran said he suffered severe pain in his neck and shoulders and was barely move his left arm for a few days after the interrogation ended.

He also claimed that he was repeatedly stripped to his underwear, made to stand on a block of ice for up to an hour at a time, and threatened with death.

“I was told by this major, he has friends in the UTK (special forces) and KDN (Home Ministry) and it won't take him much time to get some men to shoot and kill me.

“Another thing he said was that nobody would believe me (if I report the torture), because he is the IO (investigating officer) and he has the authority. He said that, even if I go to the hospital and say I was being tortured by these people, he said nobody would believe me.”

Tharmendan said he was not allowed to contact anyone to inform them of his whereabouts during the three weeks of his detention.

His father N Nagarajah filed a police report last month to report Tharmendran's alleged torture while under military detention.

'Lost pride, dignity'

Tharmendran said he lost 20kg after being tortured and during the six months he was detained in the Sg Buloh Prison for not being able to post the initial bail of RM150,000 in connection with the charge.

He believes he is not the only one being tortured by the intelligence officers, claiming at least 30 others were also experiencing the same ordeal for reasons unknown to him. He does not know what has happened to them.

Tharmendran said he is grateful for his release on reduced bail of RM50,000, but that adjusting to life after six months of detention is hard.

“I've lost my dignity, my pride... I'm very, very embarrassed to face the public because it's been (publicised) that I am the one who was involved in the theft of the engine(s), but actually I am not the one,” he said.

He expressed his gratitude to prison officers and warders who had taken care of him and helped him with his problems.

Now that he is back in society, Tharmendran said he needs to pick himself up and deal with the debt facing his family, who had to borrow money to post bail.

“They (his family) were very happy to see me, but now I have to look for a job. I'm jobless now, and it doesn't matter what (kind of work)... I can do anything,” he said soberly.

“As long as I can get a job... I need to pay back whatever money my family borrowed. My mom's jewellery has all been pawned and it's not fair to my relatives.”

Tharmendran said he feels most for his daughter, who deserves an explanation for his absence.

“I have to go and see my daughter, but I don't know how I am going to face (her). She's 12 years old. I'm divorced so she's living with my ex-wife in Ipoh,” he said.

“I saw her last November during the school holidays. I used to get her for the holidays and she'll be with my mom for three weeks... I need to do a lot of explaining to her.”

Tharmendran has been charged with company director Rajandran Prasad Kusy over the theft of two F-5E engines at the air movement section of the Subang air force base in December 2007.

If found guilty on charge under Section 380 of the Penal Code, he faces up to 10 years in jail and whipping.

He faces another charge of abetment under Section 109 of the Penal Code for allegedly collaborating with senior airman Mohamad Shukri Mohamad Yusop to steal the engines from the Sungai Besi air force base.

Mohamad Shukri was not charged with the theft and is likely to be one of the main prosecution witnesses.


Take a good look at this man's face. Does he look like an engine thief? Does he strike you as a compulsive liar? I'm a face reader and in my opinion this gentleman is telling the truth. If I'm correct about this, what does it say about the country we live in? Do we have the moral standing to point fingers at other human rights abusers - whether they be the CIA, Mossad, Mugabe's thugs or the Burmese Military Junta?


How did two jetfighter engines get stolen and shipped off to Uruguay? Isn't the defence minister ultimately responsible for the conduct of our armed forces personnel? If he didn't know what was going on, he deserves to be sacked for utter incompetence. If he knew, and ordered the brutal interrogations, then he belongs behind bars for his inhuman cruelty. Now who was defence minister when this disgraceful incident occurred? According to Malaysiakini the crime was discovered in May 2008 but no report was lodged until August 2008. Why?

During this period, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was still the prime minister and finance minister. Najib Tun Abdul Razak was deputy prime minister and defence minister. On October 19, 2006, when Altantuya Shaariibuu was abducted, most probably tortured, shot twice in the head, and then blown to pieces with C4 military grade explosives, Najib was head of the defence ministry. Military intelligence would have been answerable to him as well as the prime minister and nobody else.

Isn't it interesting that almost every serious and unsolved crime committed in this country in the last few years somehow leads to the same address?


[First posted 13 July 2010]