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"Think of these three things: whence you came, where you are going, and to whom you must account"--Benjamin Franklin

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Turning Thirty

It sounds so serious it's not funny. I understand when you turn thirty, people start considering you more seriously as someone who can "lead" with ideas than when you're a few whiskers shy of the year.



My accomplishments are nothing home to write about. Were it not for the World Wide Web, I'd probably be -- and am -- another statistic who's just turned thirty, and is even more confused about life.

But apart from all that, I'd have nothing to show for my life.

Or...would I?;-) I've been writing a journal since 1989, when my brother, Sam, was alive and I was only 12.

I haven't stopped since.

All my endeavours since have involved, in some way or another, writing.

I am not a journalist, though I do plan to be one in the next year or so, coupled by the fact that my job description includes journalistic skills.

But I reiterate: I have that chip on the shoulder which makes me feel uncomfortable stating I am one. I want a sheet of paper, or whatever, associating me with journalism. A diploma would be good; a degree, even better.

That's when I will be able to breathe freely.

Before then, it's continuing to blog about my life (reflecting the eccentric world); blogging about Ghana, my country, which I wouldn't trade with any other; blogging about the political scientist in me, by way of my regional integration blog, RegionsWatch; blogging about Accra, by way of pictures, and then some. And finally, reviewing blogs for the Reuters-supported Global Voices Online.

Either way, it all involves writing.

I came across a site, whilst looking for a picture about "being thirty", and it was by an author in the UK, who has written a book about turning thirty.

It's not so much that he's written that book, than about the fact that he's written one at all!!

I've got to get cracking, for a writer, within me, lies.

I just don't know it--and if my thirties will do anything, it will have to extract that talent out like...tonsilitis?

who said turning thirty meant an end to silliness?

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Turning Thirty!

The countdown is on!!! Two more Days!

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Last Night was a Far Departure from Other Nights

Last night, she drove me to distraction, taking me into an unknown world of an unwitting love triangle set right in the heart of a gritty and seedy underworld; a place where deception was de rigeur; where murder was expected; where lies and the viscerally criminal work in tandem.

When she began the journey with me, I was reminded of my first lesson many years ago in creative writing class: Begin with the end in mind. When she ended, it was clear that one had to mind one's beginnings.

Either way, so tantalised was I by this strange, albeit occasionally platitudinous world, that after the journey, I didn't know where to start. So I went for a walk with my dog, my mind replete with snapshots of the journey I had embarked on.

I kept thinking about her, and how wonderful she is; how she exuded creativity so real I almost felt I was part of her.

Too bad she was only...a television set.

Even then, her journey was a far departure from the others..

There are films, and there are films.

"The Departed" is a cult film. A classic.

When Matt Damon--hunting a rat with bad will--was plotting, prosecuting his diabolical agenda, I swear I saw vestiges of "The Talented Mr.Ripley" at work.

Condemnations--excessive almost--by his character Sullivan about gays and queers did not only have an uncanny parallel with Mr.Ripley (who is queer), but about the Sullivan character who was this side of a bit the other side.

More like the other side... of good! Sullivan certainly looked like a bad guy--exuding arrogance and criminal intelligence in an explosive mix--trained from his youth by crime boss Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson) to not just be a bad 'un, but be one who would be able to strategically fill him in on information from no less than the elite police unit that Sullivan had, ironically, worked hard to get into.

And what of Costigan? Another bad 'un--or so we thought. He wanted his identity back; he got something else in return.

Mark Wahlberg's wit would have been legendary if only it had been him--and not his character Dignam: a no-nonsense hardened cop with a penchant for the 'f-word'. Loyal. Trustworthy. Like his avuncular boss, Queenan (Martin Sheen), whose end was far from pretty.

The cinematographic characterisation of Costello in the beginning was cute: he was shown with a half-darkened face; a gruff voice; erudite-sounding tongue. Truly a paradox.

He liked to say: "no-one gives it to you; you gotta take it!". And he took alright! But you kept wondering--was he the Devil incarnate, or a glorified criminal? Truth is when you have a gun in your hand, "what's the difference?" The difference, like the devil, is in the film's details.

The accents. The Irish pedigree; the seamless time; the increasingly sadistic and desperate nature of Costello. His slow-and-sure distrust of Sullivan. Costello's strength (Sullivan) in weakness (his impotence?). Nicholson's reminisces of "The Shining".

But I digress.

If I never used superlatives for this film, it's because I do not have to.

Suffice-to-say, Damon excels; Nicholson outdoes himself'; Sheen and Baldwin are there; Wahlberg, too.

But the real prize goes to the real (state) trooper, who was told he would never be a state trooper: Di Caprio as Costigan.

The writers pulled an excellent piece here.

Any writing class teacher will tell you to "begin with then end in mind". They certainly began with the end in mind.

But if there's anything about this classic movie, it's a cautionary tale of minding one's "beginnings"...because you never know where it might take you.

Go get this film now!

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Keeping up with the Blogs'es...Strangeness

Once you become somewhat of an established blogger, one of the biggest challenges you encounter is that of "keeping up with the blogs'es", of sorts;-) This, like the proverbial "keeping up with the Jones'", involves checking your favourite blogs out, noticinig there are snazzy add-ons--like haloscan,; etc -- you can use to embellish your site. Oftentimes, I am personally too lazy to use add-ons till the very last tail-end of its use, when it's gone out of style!:-)

I'm strange that way.

Perhaps not necessarily strange, but as interesting as a British diplomat, who has just made news in Thailand and worldwide. His crime? Simply posting his picture alongside his picture on Thailand's The Nation, where his blog is situated.

Articles in London's, The Guardian, and elsewhere have fuelled what the Guardian calls

a blizzard of comments

, simply because he posted his picture, which Thais were able to recognise...for having seen the face in no less than the red-light district of the capital.

Thankfully, the somewhat-embattled head of the British embassy's political section in Bangkok who "thought nothing of jotting a few inoffensive musings for a newspaper website as he approaches the end of his posting", won't be too snowed under by comments, seeing as he's almost at the end of his posting anyway. He has admitted to having frequented those places and, as far as we know, unmarried.

It will definitely blow over, I'm sure.

What, for me, it calls into question, though is that ever-perennial need to reconcile the virtual and private with reality and private. The ramifications that blogging has initiated are serious and very protracted. If you're a public official--as Jan Pronk a few months ago before he was temporarily expelled from his UN post in Sudan for his comments--it appears it behooves you to be a bit more careful than the small fry like us who are simple citizens with a great passion in blogging.

Either way, you can't be too careful, or too cautious, so a balance is key!

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Reinvigorated by the Blogging Paradox

Offlate, I have been in a bit of what a former boss called "the Hamlet question":to blog or not to blog.

Joey Madison, sex blogger, who came back to the blogosphere after some four months of absence writes:

"My job has consumed my life; I need to learn how to make it stop"

My case is not exactly like that, because I make time to stop it. What I do not do, however, is always make the time to write something in this blog. I noticed that the very sexy Laura Tooth, who was basking in criticisms and glorious cerebral sex discussions, does not attract as many comments as she was doing in 2005. This says less about the quality of her blog,and more, in my view, about the vicissitudes of life that compel bloggers, in their "capacity as real people" with challenges to balance their life with that of the virtual.

In my view, sex bloggers get it quite easy in the sense that in writing abouit their sexcapades, which elicits interest that is predicated on both voyeurism and salaciousness of visitors to their blogs, they become more motivated to write and reveal about an area which non-sex bloggers dare not go.

Consequently, non-sex bloggers, in their attempt to avoid the salacious, have to be constantly and regularly alert to issues that will need some cogitation, or thinking, for a blog entry.

Maybe I'm giving myself excuses, and truth be told, I think I am;-)

Bottom line, in the final analysis, is that reconciling the virtual with real life is a challenge for any blogger, and lately, with the explosion of blogs out there, if you want to produce quality blogging, it takes a bit more "quality control" that will help you transcend, or overcome, the Hamlet question around blogging;-)

I'm glad to see Joey Madison back!

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