‘Bad Ben – The Way In (2019)’, by Nigel Bach – review

I don’t know why I am drawn to this bold middle-aged curmudgeon named Tom Riley, who fashions himself to be a self-professed paranormal investigator. While I liked the Mandela Effect one about which I even wrote because of its refreshingly ingenious takes on a genre of horror film, it never occurred to me that I would be contracted with the uncanny charm of this ireful, cloddish Jersey man’s fiasco of battles with a legion of nine demons commandeering in the same beautiful house to no end. That’s the gist of this hilariously polished offbeat film about Tom Riley, the alter ego of director Nigel Bach, and that’s why he returns with his own legion of demons in this ‘Bad Ben – the Way in.’

In this installment, Riley goes back to the haunted house of which he was a former owner to rid the demons thereof at the request of a new owner before the family moves in. He accepts the offer for none other than an existential need of money, hence the repertoire of his wrestling with the demons begins: the toy girls still wreak havoc of already edgy borderline neurotic Riley with seven other demons, introducing Clown and Voodoo dolls that look irritatingly menacing without diabolic charisma. Well, that’s the point of this new film by Bach, who seems to render the ambiance of irony fused with comedy and tragedy, which is another stance on life itself according to his view of reality. At least, that is what Bach visualizes his way of weltanschauung with go-aheaditiveness and hubris even though the motives are for lucrative rewards. But then who will pillory the man in need when we all need it to get by?

Mad, bad and bold Riley is here again to do his job, and he does it with his trademark dour humor and grumpy face that render his continuing saga of ghost-busting all the more realistic and business-like, which is all the more refreshing and oddly attractive and highly addictive. If you do not like the person of Riley for his ill-temper at his worst, you can appreciate his resilience, optimism, and courage against the forces of evil at his best. This is Bach’s finest hour.

grand fanfare for the heart

Sometimes, life surprises us with its unexpected in-between amuse-bouches when all seems drab and dreary. So here was something bright and cheery for my routine existential life; my letter to the editor of  BBC History Revealed was published in this month’s issue. AWESOME!

I was reading it on my Kindle Fire on the train and was delighted to read my own writing in print. It was written following my reading on celebrities who had fought in wars featuring on the June issue of the magazine. The original letter is as below, but the last paragraph was omitted in print.:

Dear Editor:

Although it isn’t about a celeb served in WWII, I would like to stretch the time and the theater of war to further and farther because the following celeb is worth noting.

James Garner was an excellent actor as well as an exemplary citizen. His major roles in “Maverick” and “The Rockford Flies” commanded his screen presence carved in the American television firmament with his rugged good looks and no-nonsense parlance that embodied proverbial American machismo. But what the public eyes saw in the actor was a reflection of his virtues: Garner was a decorated Korean war veteran, a recipient of Two Purple Hearts for his selfless service, valor, integrity, and honor demonstrated as a US Army private assigned to a combat team which sustained heavy casualties. In fact, Garner sustained several wounds on his face and hands resulting from shrapnel and a mortar round. Nevertheless, he was a fearless warrior in its true sense and threw himself against the showers of bullets to save his wounded battle buddies and to accomplish his missions with all his might. After the war, Garner pursued his career in acting and began to star in a number of war movies, such as “The Great Escape”. James Garner was a man of respect and honor.

Thank you for your reading! By the way, I am a subscriber to your magazine living in California. I enjoy reading every issue thereof during my lunch hour and commute to and from work on the train.

I am planning to get hard copies of the magazine as a keepsake and for distributing them to my family and friends. I am also glad to know that a magazine like BBC History Revealed featured my humble, imperfect writing. It is my opinion that a British magazine knows how to educate the public with universally interesting topics in plain English and witticism with a general reader in mind in comparison with its hyper intellectual transatlantic counterparts.

I am writing this on my Blog, so that I can remember in writing that it happened and that my writing was communicative to the editor despite my textual foibles. Nevertheless, I have the temerity to write in English to speak of Reason and Taste for its being a lingua franca, a modern-day equivalent of Akkadian. With timeless adages of George Orwell, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Kurt Vonnegut as patient and encouraging ethereal guardians, I write for sheer egotism of making my soul grow and expressing myself to the world, come what may. For this reason, I want to pat myself on the shoulders 🙂

hrev

‘In Pursuit of Civility: Manners and Civilization in Early Modern England’ by Keith Thomas – review

In Pursuit of Civility: Manners and Civilization in Early Modern EnglandIn Pursuit of Civility: Manners and Civilization in Early Modern England by Keith Thomas

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


We live in an age of casual manners that would alarm the folks who still remember when letters and rotary telephones were the prime means of communication, not to speak of those in days of yore. But the leniency of manners is not a thing of our age, but it has been constant of every age as a note faintly scribbled on a tablet discovered in an ancient Roman archaeological site reveals, “Today’s kids are rude imps.” Which also brings us to the ensuing questions of what defines civility. Does civility equate submissiveness with anachronistic fogyism and therefore must be overruled with unrelenting individualism? Keith Thomas’s In pursuit of civility delves into the history of civility in England in an attempt to reach the subjectivity of civility as a universal social cohesion to live harmoniously as citizens of the world.

Civility is a tacitly agreed social duty, a state of refinement equivalent to one’s moral character that subsumes civilization in its widest sense, opposite barbarism, a primordial state of beastliness dispossessed of all things antonymous with humanity. Originally derived from the Greek word, “barbarous,” meaning a person whose speech was incomprehensible, a dichotomy between the civilized and the barbarian has retained its rhetorical utility throughout the centuries: Civility is of good manner and good citizenship, whereas barbarianism denotes vulgarity, ignorance, and violence. Thomas discourses that civility as the crucial index of a country’s social harmony and political stability has set a template for a leviathan module of defining civilization, the end product of cultural, moral, and material condition of the civilizing process. That is, where civility reigns, there is civilization and therefore humanity. For civility sprang from a necessity of communal life rather than from an abstract ideology to subjugate the unseemly at the low rungs of the social ladder. Surely, the aristocrats refined a distinctive code of manners as the merit of the elites to distinguish themselves from the melee, but in a wider picture of a society, civility was a must to make all lives easier to live as they, especially the middle class and the working class, strove to progress by being interdependent of each other for economic gains. Thomas points out that intensive labor raised people above rude and sordid barbarism and begets arts by which human life is civilized because productive, labor-driven industry is the bedrock of civility from which economic, artistic, and intellectual benefits ensue.

Thomas unpicks that nowadays politeness is synonymous with effeminacy, acquiescence, servility, foppishness, kowtowing, even, as opposed to the fierce slogan of “equality to all.” Politeness is politically and socially and liberally misconstrued as a weakness of character or diffidence of self-esteem or an exotic cultural custom. People misidentify politeness, a set of good behaviors as servility because they are foolishly led to a belief that politeness is an anachronistically incoherent legacy of the racist conservative history of the past that they must thwart with full force and effect. However, Thomas benevolently keeps us in a positive light in this vacuum of civility by saying that what we have these days is “a new and more equal form of civility,” which indicates that we as a collective human enterprise is not retrogressing but progressing toward the better future if we understand that civility is as important in an egalitarian society as in a hierarchical one by learning to disagree without being disagreeable. All in all, this is a highly informative read accessible to the general reader who regards politeness as sweetness of the mind and who extends it to all humankind as a citizen of the world.

two by two – Chapter 8

chameleon cafe_small

He wanted to talk to her but didn’t know how to begin. He did not want to look overtly anxious, and yet he was obviously anxious. Part of it was his urge to find out if she was the right one that matched his gossamer imago, and more of it was his untamed machismo that even his arete, the harmonious combination of moral integrity and physical discipline, could not surmount. In the age of Amazonian resurgence of matriarchy on the crest of #MeToo campaign, the subject matter of indomitable feat of virility could be highly volatile, incriminating even. But Hector was being none other than a man himself and going against the nature would turn him into a closet monster or a spectacular hypocrite.  Besides, Hector was an artist who was unafraid of following his heart according to the True North of Nature. He belonged to the race of the untethered, the bold and the beautiful, and he knew it. All of it, all that he had was working toward his wish to speak to her, the mysterious woman sitting three seats away from him.

 When it reached the zenith of the urge, Hector couldn’t hold it any longer, and it finally erupted from his lips: “Excuse me, miss. I forgot to bring a pen with me. Do you have a spare one by any chance?” It was the best excuse he could think of because the woman was writing in her notebook. She seemed startled at first by a strange man’s request for a pen, but soon her fear of a stranger relented at his polite manner handsomely juxtaposed with his sonorous voice and beautiful eyes that radiated both warmth of the soul and allure of the flesh. Iris was always sagacious of people’s characters, which was her gift and curse of the Fates, and she saw genuineness in this strange but beautiful man’s eyes in an aura of charisma, a mythological power ascribed to the Olympians and select hybrids of mortals and immortals. In a phantasmagorical display of the Greek heroes and gods, Iris was filled with mysterious confidence that gave her a status which fuses the capricious power of a fairy with the sensuous charge of femininity. She finally fished in a pen from her pencil case and gave it to him. “Thank you, Miss. These days people do not seem to carry around a pencil case.” Hector thought that he talked too much and instantly regretted it. But it was a reflex of his heart that knew better. It was working slowly, the kindling of the amber that was beginning to grow. No, my dear reader, it wasn’t that usual playboy’s antics, that sleek glib of a smooth operator because Hector wasn’t the sort. Nothing namby-pamby about Hector’s sensitive nature, nor the supra-abundance of the embryonic courtship that might not even develop with fanfare. But nothing could be further from the truth – the truth that both Hector and Iris were votaries of aesthetic pleasure, the cult of Psyche and Eros, the seekers of Eleusinian Mysteries in their own rights.

Iris wanted Hector to go on, to take her on, to lead her on. Despite her instant bestowal of confidence, she was still wrapped up in her own clock of anonymity and invisibility like a fairy who was visible to the mortal eyes when she wanted to. A fairy whose sentiments were different from the mortals and who could be both impish and angelic according to her whims and caprice. For a fairy by nature was amoral and could fashion in whatever forms she would prefer. Thenceforth, Iris was lamenting that a fairy at the time of her birth did not bring her a gift of beauty that could captivate a man of her heart. Surely, she was told beautiful, sultry even, but her resemblance to Cassandra was the sine qua non of her solitude, although she would like to insist that it was her voluntary choice. The grace and the harmony of her features would make a beholder think that they were aesthetically proportioned, yet she wasn’t exactly a Helen of Troy for whom Paris, the prince of Troy, left his nymph companion in distress and for whom thousands of ships launched to win her love. Alas, poor Iris! I knew her, my dear reader. I commiserated with her spiritually. I should have cast glamour spells on her so that she could be instantly gorgeous at that time. But would it be a kind of beauty she really wanted?… I wondered. I questioned: then, would Iris- a lesser beauty, a confused fairy, and a distressed Cassandra- make this mysterious man interested in her soul until they became two by two and about went they? In this fey meditation, her spirit was pivoting ecstatically from the mind’s castle and swiveling in wonderment. Iris was secretly invoking the power of all the fairies in the limine spheres, the slice of seacoast between low and high tides, a deepening foliage between field and forest, and the slope-land between plains and mountains.