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Archive for April, 2010

The United States is one of the few Western democratic countries that permit independent militias.

Their rapid growth coincides with a sharp rise in partisan rhetoric as the November U.S. congressional elections draw nearer. Depending on your perspective, they are either patriots or paranoid. Experts in law enforcement and academia are divided as to how big an actual threat they may pose. But they all agree on one thing: the groups are very well armed.

“Most (militia groups) are merely in the rhetorical and defensive stage,” said Brian Levin, professor of criminal justice at California State University and an expert on militias and domestic terrorism. “But we don’t know which groups are going to be benign and which are going to be small incubators for radicalism.”

This reminds me of an uncle of mine who imagined himself a human guinea pig. He had no scientific background or backing from the government to conduct the kind of tests he carried out on himself. When the swine flue scare was at its height he tested on himself if the whole panic was the creation of some multinational company or not. So he injected some benign and some flue virus on himself.

When his family cried that he would be knocked out by flu he laughed it off saying,’ My rational mind says the benign virus will neutralise the harmful. My body will be left unaffected’.

Everything went according to his calculations. Only that he sneezed once and it was so hard that his whole inside( all squashed up by the struggle between the good and bad germs)came out. There was nothing worth salvaging in it.

There is a thin line between democracy and democrazy. It all depends how you safeguard liberty.

benny

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If Aliens come here there shall be future shock for great many.

Marvel Comics will simply have to be airbrushed away. Out with kryptonite and batman’s cape. Both shall be replaced by something more life-like, I mean Alien-size to fit three microns width of alien forms.

Those who swore by Star Wars and genuflected before some sci-fi mumbo-jumbo will simply dig a hole and be nomads of the Middle Kingdom.

Scientology will prove to be the Emperor’s New Clothes.  Some Alien street Arab will point to the ridiculous travesty of Religion and laugh their heads off. Is it Mission Impossible Mr. Cruise?

Those paranormalists will levitate while their brains that they left behind will go around asking if their brains can be set right.

Harry Potter will learn that he simply cannot escape the Hall of Incoherence in which he is trapped between bad prose and infantile fantasies.

These are some of the future shocks we are going to live with. Aliens will show themselves. Whether we take them for what they are depends on this question: Have we learned to separate the real from fantasy? If we have not  set our upper case in order we will see Aliens and look to the sky while ther are down at our feet.

Think of all the conspiracy theories we have; do they speak well as to our judgment or our intellect? We have learned to progress while undermining progressively the learning. We have covered up our tracks in such a fashion we all have become too clever for our own good. We merely lived not with human beings with real problems. We escaped instead  in virtual reality. Perhaps the invasion of Aliens ,-not in a negetive sense but in moral terms, may drive us to give learning its right value. Not the instant gratification but acquisition of maturity by willing to pay the price for becoming real human beings.

Tailspin:What value is to bend spoons? Aliens may teach Uri geller (if his gift is genuine) a few tricks  to make some  real contribution to science. For instance relation between mind and matter and not limit it to some spoons and forks.

LONDON (AP) – British astrophysicist Stephen Hawking says aliens are out there, but it could be too dangerous for humans to interact with extraterrestrial life.

The 68-year-old scientist says a visit by extraterrestrials to Earth would be like Christopher Columbus arriving in the Americas, “which didn’t turn out very well for the Native Americans.”

He speculates most extraterrestrial life will be similar to microbes, or small animals – but adds advanced lifeforms may be “nomads, looking to conquer and colonize.”(Ack:The Chicago Tribune-AP Press)

benny

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Beauty and the Beast©

by benny thomas

This modern fairy tale is dedicated to the incomparable Jean Cocteau and his film of the same name.

benny

A merchant who exported exotic flowers to the Far East in the Eighties became very rich but a volcano in one part of the globe suddenly erupted. Two hundred years the volcano had kept itself from going berserk but nature of mountains fire and wind is such it is futile to fight against it. So it was. The ash from a volcano in Iceland spewed and the merchant in Aleppo found his business ruined. El Ahmedia found his two daughters suffered most. They were counting on marrying some sultan in Borneo and such other exotic places and live happily ever after. Ayesha the third daughter was willing to stay home and look after her father.

Razia and Nafeeza the elder daughters wanted to let out their frustration and they found Ayesha as their victim. So every day they sniped and made her look silly. She was Beauty and they sported fashions that made her natural beauty as though she were a freak. The elders daughters set the fashion and the press insisted any woman who didn’t follow it was only fit to be a scullery maid. Beauty or Ayesha didn’t mind since she loved to make her father happy. She daily looked after his father’s comforts. She was Beauty in looks and in deeds.

Suddenly word reached Hajii El Ahmedia that he could get compensation from FEIECF(Far East Importer and Exporter Compensatory Funds) for losses he had incurred. Before he left he asked his children what they wanted from Penang. Razia wanted a bird of paradise and Nafeeza an urang utang. Beauty wanted just a rose. El Ahmedia took the first plane to Malaysia and reached the office in Penang. He met the right people and they assured they would settle the matter. But the matter dragged on through the day over some lacunae in the law of the land.

It was late in the evening. The merchant on his return to his hotel took a short cut. He lost his way and while walking through winding pathways hedged by lush greenery of some tropical paradise he was straying farther from the right path. By late night he came in front a decrepit villa that was evidently a mad folly of rubber and tin baron. It was shuttered for some hundred years.

To his utter amazement as soon as he climbed the short steps the villa came to life. The shutters opened by itself. The macaques and marmots that ran through the rotting timbers became men. They put on their sarongs and headbands as though they had orders from high to entertain the guest for the night. They brought salvers of fruits and food steaming hot and they served him on banana leaves. El Ahmedia thanked Allah for his beneficence and ate. He slept on a cot carved out of rosewood inlaid with mother of pearl and ivory.

Next morning he saw he was sleeping in a rundown shack and he knew he slept the night in an enchanted villa.

Thanking the most merciful Allah for preserving him from all danger he set out. He saw a perfect rose from a rosebush that was almost choked by weeds. He took it as a sign from high and he plucked the rose. Ah the flower started bleeding and he heard a low moan. The moan became a shriek and he heard distinctly a sob,’Why why kill me when there were millions of rose bushes nearby?’

The merchant stood up and saw it was indeed so. There was whole field of roses.

He had drawn blood in plucking the rose. He had indeed done violence to a being. So much was clear. He had indeed repaid hospitality and kindness of his unknown host with a foul act. He furiously thought of way of making amends. But how with a dying rose in his hands?  Blood was making a trickle along his hands and along the red dust. ‘If I die the curse will be on you and your descendents.’ The voice announced.

He asked what he wanted him to do. ‘Your life!’

He hesitated,’Do you have people at home?’

‘I have three daughters at home.’

The Voice asked if any one of them will in his stead come to his rescue. The merchant said perhaps his youngest daughter may take his place.

‘What is her name?’

‘Beauty’

The blood of the merchant went cold to hear to disembodied laughter. It was maniacal and pure fear that hit him.

‘I am the Beast.’ said the Voice. He added, ‘Go in peace and bring Beauty to me.’

The merchant promised to try. Before he left the voice said that he shall be dying inch by inch and if he delayed beyond two weeks he was sure to die and the curse set in place for his evil deed. The merchant quaked in his shoes.

El Ahmedia went home and told his daughters of his fearful encounter in the enchanted estate in Penang.

Beauty was willing to save her father and also the Beast. Within ten days the Beauty was at the enchanted villa and he saw the Beast.

The Beast was a Sultan.

Beauty somehow felt right at home and in control of the situation. She felt pity and as she came closer  she felt as though he were a creature as she.

‘You have legs like mine’ said Beauty surprised.

‘Yes, Beauty,’ replied the Beast,’my legs carry me.’

She went a little closer. She touched his hands and said,’You have two arms.’

Yes, my arms are to carry you.’

‘You have two lips’

Yes, these two lips are to kiss you.’

She felt his broad shoulders and everything that a man was expected to have was there.’You are a paragon of manhood’ she said very much relieved.

The Beast suddenly slouched over his seat and wept. He said,’Beauty you don’t understand. I have no heart. I am beastly’

Beauty said,’I don’t understand what you mean. But I have a heart for the two of us.’

‘How do you know?’

I grew up,Love, among those had no hearts either. They were not called Beasts’. She was sure that as far as she could see he was in no way worse than her sisters and other people with whom she had to live.

She drew him to her side and kissed his hand in reverence.

‘What is your name?’

‘Beast.’

‘No that is not!’ she was emphatic.

He replied’ Sultan Razak al Bashir.’

Something snapped then and there.

Lo the whole enchanted villa became a mansion on stilts. The rot and rack of two hundred years of neglect had been erased. In its place stood a mansion meant to be made a home. Ayesha said,’Razak you and I are going to live here and give a try to raise our children in this very spot.’

Razak the Beast had a glint in his eye,’You make it sound as though it is possible.’

‘You don’t?’

‘Beauty,you make me also believe it is possible.’ They settled down to make a home straightaway.

benny

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Four Musicians of Bremen©

Shmuck always thought he was the most likely to succeed in his class. When he graduated with distinction he went to work for a gnome in Zurich. He slaved like a donkey to make the House of Black Friars the biggest bank. But one day he was shown the door. When he went out the portier feeling sad asked if he had thought of singing for his supper. Shmuck was an expert at it he said.’Show me the color of money I will make my guitar weep.’ he added with a laugh. Finally he said,’I shall go to Bremen that lies at the end of the rainbow.’

That was how Mr.Shmuck hit the road. With a song in his heart and without a care except his severance pay and it weighed heavily in his pocket. Before long he met a fellow who sang only one tune and his imitation of Elvis Presley was fantastic. When he sang the number ‘Hound Dog’ even late king turned in his grave to say in sepulchral tone,’I am stoned,man!’.

Mr. Shmuck heard Mr.’bulldog’ Drummond and said, ‘We shall conquer Bremen!” Mr. Drummond didn’t know what was special about Bremen but the way Shmuck, the donkey described it,’ It was Graceland prim and proper’.

A little further the two came across a drag queen. ‘I am Meeow,’ and asked them to follow the rules if they expected to conquer Bremen.’I am It to you but Alley Cat to others.’

The two were surprised that there were such rules for one who played coy and played like a jerk in next. ‘Meeow likes to purr!’ said It cheerily.

‘Can you sing?’

‘O I sing flat like no other!’ replied It coyly.

Any instrument?’

‘Just me and my Jewish harp!’

‘You will do’ said the other two.

In the town they came next was a popinjay and he strutted while they were supping in a motel. They saw his outlandish dress and exaggerated manners and asked him to join them.’ I came to this town hoping to buy a suit most sober for an undertaker.’ He said and his sad story continued, ‘I wanted this gray suit that I saw hanging in a shop window. Since buying it I got a funeral parlor as if I had pressed some magic button.’  He added how it got into his head to strut about like a rooster since every wish began coming true.He ended ssaying,’ I lost it all since townsfolk thought a high kicking undertaker who had a joke for every wake was giving death a bad name.’

‘Call Me Dude, the rooster.’ Dude wasn’t in the least bothered by his losses. As he said he intended to make his loss add to his personality. ‘But can you sing? they anxiously asked him.

‘Some times I am adenoidal, but mostly I prefer off-key’ replied he. He said he took to rap music and as if to prove he gave an impromptu song and dance,’Adenoidal, it’ s me/All I need is a nod/I can make paranoia/ seem elemental.’

The three immediately took him. They didn’t know what he meant but it sounded very musical to them.

Thus the four went to a town and they said they should sleep early since they would be wowing the folks of Bremen next morning.

All the more reason we should paint the town red.’ insisted Dude the rooster.

So they let Dude to arrange a card party. Ten thalers a point they played for high stakes. The four musicians were losing like a roller coaster that had missed rail some hours earlier. The donkey whispered in between to ask Meeow if It knew what was going on. The drag queen threw Its hand and said,’ Even the folks from Bremen have come pouring to take us on.’ It was true. The news went around about Four musicians who were hell bent to lose. ‘Ah this is is the lowest form of self-advertisement,’ worthy wight observed,’ they are bent on making the city of Bremen to sit and take note.’

The game was in full swing. He directly put a duffel bag full of money to play against the four.

The fellows of Bremen took turns to play against these four and in the end the four owed the city of Bremen 6 million thalers not counting the sundry losses the four had incurred in playing against the other guests in the hotel.

The Mayor at one point stood up and demanded the four musicians to make good of their losses.’We won good and proper.’

Mr. Dude the rooster let out a cry ‘cock a doodle doo.’

When asked what he meant he said, ‘Nothing‘ that will stand up in a court of law.’

The other three pointed to each other and said, ‘We shall sing for your suppers,considering you shall be kicked out of the City Hall for gambling away the reputation and assets’.

The folks of Bremen looked at each other and they knew they gambled for nothing. They were disappointed and angry.’ They surrounded the Mayor and their councillors saying,’You all are a bunch of crooks!’

In the end the four musicians of Bremen began singing for suppers of those who were thrown out of their office.

They survived in spite of this. Many thought it was very decent for them to care for the unfortunates. Centuries later they have become the stuff legends are made of, but somewhat altered in the real facts. There is a famous statue commemorating the four in the city of Bremen.

benny

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The Man Who Made Women As Good As New ©

by Benny Thomas

camp: Svandalen, Norway

19 April 2010

The man had no special gifts except his hands. And he had made the city his home.

The city was called Sin City. The particular adjective gave no air of anything even remotely hinting of moral or ethical lapse. In fact the city touted quality of life as its promise. Quality of civic life nevertheless made the name stick. The city fathers had given their solemn promise and through thick and thin of economic meltdown the city did not let go its virtue: quality of life for all. Yet the civic fathers failed them not for wanting to try but for something none could put his finger on.

Men made the city work for them but women found something go out of their lives.

They could not exactly say what. They made their homes and kept their budgets tight and in all that computing and meeting their civic obligations they ceased to feel quality of life, assured by statutory laws and it did not make them feel precisely as a woman should feel. Nothing between their legs or their biology suffered but a general malaise of being alive. At the same time of being made less than before. They shielded their own brood from the brunt of life they carried on daily basis. In making the nest they merely stressed their own strengths and these didn’t account for the empty nests the chicks would leave behind. Somewhat similar to this, women felt city had carried them high only to deny them something they could not find words for. Quality of life in their pursuit of happiness was not equal to what their femininity expected them as due. That gap merely became ever perceptible as time went by.

Somewhere in a woman’s life what she is born to and what she ends up with is a fault line and it creates symptoms. Some tried alcohol and another coke; some tried acupuncture and another yoga. There were many stimulants and sessions and every thing worked up to a point.

One woman tried massage and discovered him. How the man worked on her pressure points made her feel as good as new. He worked well and what he charged was worth every cent. She passed on his name to another. This made the out-of-towner to stay on. He was a masseur more of a complete woman than a body. He solicited custom on that point and women accepted it as the truth.

Each woman,young,fading,floundering or dithering felt as new.

Twenty years he worked with his hands and he could not yet say what made them exceptional. His hands were well padded but not fleshy; it was neither hands well shaped or that of a brute. His hands were such ordinary as hands that stuck out of cuffs neither calling attention to them nor to the cut. He was ordinary and the spanking whiteness of his shirt or his pants added little to to his evanescent personality. When he worked with his clients he was almost not there. His work-out made each woman count the professional hour as homage paid to her and he spoke not a word that was out of place. He was loathe to draw attention to himself. His hands worked silently. Even where what some positions of his workout could have compromised him he was cool detachment all through.

He lived and made the quality of the city pay him dividends. His office gave him panoramic view of the city and he desired nothing except what his hands could earn.

He put every client at ease and never he rose to a higher or lower pitch to give himself away. Part of the hour he let her sat on his lap or he bent over her while his discreet stance gave nothing that she could have benefited. Her private thoughts were all hers and if these put out tendrils of hope or nostalgia, and she seemed to float back in womb of time it was all hers. He merely let his hands touch pressure points and if his clients took off from there he chose to remain an outsider. His service was faultless as his distance from his clients was thoroughly cultivated by sheer will power.

He performed with clinical efficiency that his secretary kept strict watch over. Daisy from her cubicle saw the naked bodies of clients contort or go limp and if she grimaced or nod in approval it was over the client and not over the man. His hands were miracle workers and nothing more. She noted in satisfaction no woman remembered afterward the face except her. She took down appointments and arranged his daily schedule knew his worth.Her position was secure and won over as with the man by her professionalism. She greyed and somewhat frayed around her supple body in service. She didn’t mind, Her quality of life she wrested from the city by her iron will.

Each day she checked with her boss before the day. He worked by appointment. His office on the 10th  floor was as unobtrusive as those who came in or went out.

Under the watchful eye of his secretary he learned to work as though he were a free agent. He never felt imposed upon by certain rules of office practice each expected from the other.  His ten minute recess at the end of one hour session was strictly enforced and he appreciated she saw to that he had sufficiently recovered from the previous before he began the next. He was a miracle that paid for her bed and board and a place in the community. She was not going to lose all that by neglect. Her selfishness he saw as altruism. If he were not placed by society women in their social engagements or made calls it was not her problem. He had to have work. That was all he insisted upon. There was no let up from day one.

His anonymity gave his hands their mystery and women found it an exhilarating. Consider he had moved into the City with one valise and the clothes that he had on his back and in a matter of some 20 years every woman who made the city her home swore by them. His hands made them feel as good as new.

That day the women waited for their turn. She saw him take on the first patient. She saw the blond and saw her hair roots were dark. He jawbones relaxed she was not what she considered as a threat. She had a body that was far below the expectations her dress called out to all. She saw him in his kimono and he divested of his clothes and go through his routine. Five minutes later she heard the body of the blond turning over. He was still a machine that performed and only then she relaxed. She went through the papers and made notes. First two hours made her keep her mind alert that the day’s routine went on without a hitch. She was somewhat over alert and she noted with a frown. On that day sky was grey and the weather made its chill in her bones speak up. She was cautious as never before. It was on that day as though her mind sensed lurking dangers and every sound made her jump and noise broke the thread of her routine. She heard one speak with some elation,’Ah that feels good, I can cry!’ Her forehead furrowed, hardly letting go her own defenses. Perhaps age was catching up before she headed into the dangerous Forties.

Each day she had to keep watch and yet seem not inquisitorial. Each client took something of him and he was indestructible,- not a moment letting his guard down.

She remembered it was she who insisted he take a recess after an hour long session.Only that day made she was none special. She was on the wrong side of thirty!

She carefully scanned his face and gestures. She casually let her eyes rest around his boxer. He was relaxed and concentrated on his work. His movements didn’t hit any hitch but he was as cool and controlled as before. Again her mind took a defensive stance with the last patient and she could mentally describe every spot he covered or every sigh that escaped women feeling the waves of unease escape their psyche.

Daisy didn’t ask what made her feel uneasy that particular day. Fifteen years she had spent manning her station while the man prodigiously worked with his hands.Was it her hormones her age or what?

As the last patient made ready to leave she sent him sms to ask for an extra session.

‘Under exceptional circumstances, she pleaded.

He texted back:OK

When she went from her desk the man awaited his patient from the door. He was not a whit puzzled or complaining to see her. Before she removed her dress she asked,’ Do you feel embarrassed?’

He raised his eyebrows.

‘All those women who come to you see you as a machine.’

Silence.

I come to you differently.’ she stammered and feeling red. It was painful to express what was so long churning up inside.

She removed her clothes coming closer and closer. Her eyes teased him now. ‘They want to be put at ease.’

He stared at her puzzled.’I want to be excited. Feel my heart!’ She took his hands and put them against her heart.’You surely must feel something.’

‘No I feel nothing.’

Her face went pale. She had removed her panties and she let it drop.

‘I am lying down. Make me feel like a client’.

He just sat on his stool shadow of dejection expanding from his forehead to his chin.

‘Oh I had a hard day, and my hands are like wet rags.’

Daisy whimpered. ‘Twenty years I slaved for you. Do I mean nothing to you?’

He turned his head away. He heard her hands bunch up the hem of her dress. She let it fall on the floor in helplessness. He could not bear her accusatory eyes. ‘ I ask to be treated like any other woman’ Her voice trailed off in a moan. He sat there. ‘You have hurt me!’

Her voice faltered and she did not cry but shook in convulsions of despair and loneliness.

‘You are my wife, and not my custom.’

‘I put 200 dollars before I came,it is there in the day-book. Consider it as my fee.’

He rose mechanically and walked towards the curtain wall of glass that looked towards the sea. He stood there lost in thought as though he wanted to watch the rising mist from the sea. He could not bear meeting her eyes that were misted in tears.

He said,’Let us go home. After dinner we shall make love as we used to.’ He walked over to her and silently held his hand out. He felt her hand and he closed over it. He sighed. It was a relief. He felt the day was much more difficult than he ever thought it was.

They took the elevator down two figures numbed already by the awful silence of the tower that was easing itself for the night.

benny

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In my kindergarten days I was taught to share what I have got with others. In the corporate world I find just the opposite. One need only look at the way AIG top brass have, in 2008, given bonus themselves.

benny

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What is that drives one to write a theater piece?

I remember the time I was eleven I wanted to write a play. No simple play but something like Shakespeare would have. It never struck me as impossible. I had not read the Bard but heard him spoken about by the grown ups.  Of course it was as good as written.

So I sat down to write and of course four lines and I could not go beyond. It was my first brush with reality that I could appreciate.

I still recall my play more or less.

King: ‘Who goes there?’

servant: I your majesty!

King angrily: call my son,prince!

Of course these many words would not have seen the light of day in my transcription book but for home theatricals my eldest sister organized from time to time.  She being 5 years older to me directed the play.  She also decided parts but we spoke lines off the cuff. She always took the plum role. Once she was the queen and I the prince, her son. My elder brother took the role of an evil genie. He brought for the occasion his prop, a blanket. My sister thought it would  do. When he wore it he became invisible. None of us took it otherwise.

The play was going on smoothly. Till the prince had to make love.  Had I known well then I would have called my self Hamlet. Of course I didn’t. My younger sister, nine was the poor girl to whom I had to speak my feelings. So I said how I loved her and would bring nice goodies and so on.

It was her turn and she said,’But you must not leave me holding the baby’.

That shut me up. I didn’t have a reply to that. Was it the awful feeling of truth (that child gets to hear of family scandals?)0r lack of an equally strong line to match? I do not know. It stopped however my playacting for good.

Of course I wrote a few plays later as an exercise and I know I would not bother reading them. It was merely derivative and weak lacking life experience.

My attempt to write like Shakespeare was a kind of awakening to my world and my attempt to write was my urge to speak with my own voice of that world. My life experience was the means to flesh them out.

benny

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