Thursday, December 29, 2005

Moving, moving…

This morning, I admitted to myself what I have been denying for weeks, I hate my job. It stinks to high heaven and God knows, its stunk up my whole existence. My personality withered and I pretended I didn’t know why. It all came from my albatross.

From way back, I have been one for taking challenges, just for the sake of it. If someone said something was unattainable, well, I just went and did it, not to prove to the unlucky sucker who said it cant be done, but to satisfy my ego. Knowing that I could do something easily that everyone else was fighting to attain gave me a sort of rush.

So when I got bored, I went and got a job at this place. My work consists of sitting around all day pretending to be smart. Imagine doing that for a living!

Anyway, I realised that I’m not really cut out for this kinda thing. I could make up a zillion excuses why I should go away but I don’t care anymore. I think I wont try to explain myself on this one. This feeling of suffocation cant be good for my lungs.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Good riddance, 2005

The season’s long, eh? But for the rest of us, there’s no resting. While the rest of the world reclines at their desks, glancing at their wrist watches to see how much time there’s left before they can go back on the town and make merry in the fast disappearing hours of the old year, I am relaxing at my desk, looking into my crystal ball…what’s the new year going to be like? What is in store?

At least I didn’t die. Thank God for small mercies. Small!? That’s not small, dude! Surviving 2005 has not been easy. The landmines are still littered everywhere and it could be the end even now. But having come this far, I must say I’m impressed. With y’all. Knowing the crazy things writers get themselves into, y’all should be toasting.

The traps were many. People changed jobs, people got dumped, people got promoted, Paul died, people fell in love…What a year. But there is nothing strange, if you look closely. It is that time of the year again. Come to think of it, that phrase is a template for every December. Timothy started his year ender article with “The silly season is upon us again…” this year but he wrote the exact first paragraph last year. So you see, there’s really nothing new. One thing we have to be happy about though is that this year, we didn’t have a Tsunami.

The effects of that monstrous flood are going to be felt for decades. Heck, some peeps will never recover. How do you forget such a tragedy and go on eating meat when you saw all that carnage?

Back home, this has been a political year. Of course, politics is everywhere but in Uganda, it seems it is a staple. We have to find a way to numb the pain that comes with the politics, y’know. Because there’s going to be pain, trust me. It might not necessarily be because people are going to take up arms but the whole shebang is going to cause grief. Some of us are lucky; we are not supposed to vote.

But the campaigns have brought up some interesting things. Like the boyish guy on Museveni’s posters. Apparently, we are supposed to believe that its Kagu. Then Ssebaana’s silky voice! What was he waiting for all these years? What did he do to it anyway? The guy is not the Lord of Croaks anymore. He can probably sing a duet with Mariah now.

Then of course we are supposed to be taking our seats and waiting for the hundreds of songs that are going to be commissioned for the different campaigns. This is what multi party politics is about, right? That’s what we are told used to happen back in the day. That’s when all those Twagala Obote songs and Nyamurunga were dropped. So now we should be listening to pimped up versions of these beats. Those old guys had fun, strumming guitars and then hacking each other…

It’s a brave new world we are going into. Everywhere you look, there’s a serious expression on someone’s face. Brace yourselves, peeps. Kansas is going bye, bye.

Brokeback Mountain

Brokeback Mountain

Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger are heroes in the US this time of year. Probably, when the Oscars come around next year, they will be big news again. Their claim to all this buzz? They went and did a movie about illicit love; gay love.

I don’t know about you but however I have tried to rationalize and look at this picture, I still cant come to terms with it. Not the movie, the whole gay sex scene, I mean. So we are supposed to be open minded and accept these peeps coz they are just like that…

But I don’t know how I can actually pay to watch that movie. I admit, there are flicks I have watched because the American press shouted themselves hoarse, saying that they are just to die for (The English Patient, Glengarry Glenross). Many times I have come out of the cinema with a lump in my throat, which the date usually mistakes for deep thinking about the picture.

Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain, a movie that has received A reviews on most of the critics boards is sure not going to be one of those flicks for me. And I will be very surprised if some one actually tells it on the mountain that they have it at home. If you have forgotten, this is the country where we don’t allow people different from us to enjoy their rights.

Jeremy Irons

Speaking about movies, what’s with Jeremy Irons doing those funny flicks? Okay, I know the dude has been in about 65 or 70 flicks and they all don’t taste like Damage or Lolita but heck, that guy must be twisted. That or he is the only one who wont retch when they are told to sleep with a minor on screen. He makes the whole sick episode in Lolita sicker. He is the personification of dementia, more than Bacon’s character in The Woodsman.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Beatle time

I sat down and listened to the twenty-seven songs on the Beatles’ album, One. I must say, I don’t know what possessed me. Because honestly, I was looking for that high that’s talked about everywhere about these guys from Liverpool and I failed to even feel a twinkling.

For me, it was twenty-seven songs that are best suited for some sort of sad party. The first one, Love Me Do, was a put down but I was hoping that the others would be better. Bad move. They are so old style. The fast ones are just about drums and wailing voices. The best song on the album for me is Hey Jude but it stretches to seven minutes. All the other songs are about 2 minutes or 3.

The one song that has been played in the 90s and recently is perhaps, Let It Be. It’s laid back and all that but at least it can hold its own with the songs that are considered hot today. Someone will say it sounds like a gospel track but hey, maybe it is.

Somehow, I can only relate to the fab four as the group that had the John who had a Japanese girlfriend. The group that gave the world Sir Paul McCartney and all those songs he’s done in the years since they were not big anymore. Where did Ringo Starr and the other guy go, by the way? Gotta check out the net.

1. Love Me Do (Hit #1 on: May 30, 1964)

2. From Me To You (Hit #1 on: May 2, 1963)

3. She Loves You (Hit #1 on March 21, 1964)

4. I Want To Hold Your Hand (Hit #1 on: February 1, 1964)

5. Can't Buy Me Love (Hit #1 on: April 4, 1964)

6. A Hard Day's Night (Hit #1 on August 1, 1964)

7. I Feel Fine (Hit #1 on: December 26, 1964)

8. Eight Days A Week (Hit #1 on: March 13, 1965)

9. Ticket To Ride (Hit #1 on: May 22, 1965)

10. Help! (Hit #1 on: September 4, 1965)

11. Yesterday (Hit #1 on: October 9, 1965)

12. Day Tripper (Hit #1 on: December 16, 1965)

13. We Can Work It Out (Hit #1 on: January 8, 1966)

14. Paperback Writer (Hit #1 on: June 25, 1966)

15. Yellow Submarine (Hit #1 on: August 18, 1966)

16. Eleanor Rigby (Hit #1 on: August 18, 1966)

17. Penny Lane (Hit #1 on: March 18, 1967)

18. All You Need Is Love (Hit #1 on: August 19, 1967)

19. Hello, Goodbye (Hit #1 on: December 30, 1967)

20. Lady Madonna (Hit #1 on: March 27, 1968)

21. Hey Jude (Hit #1 on: September 28, 1968)

22. Get Back (Hit #1 on: May 24, 1969)

23. Ballad Of John And Yoko (Hit #1 on: June 11, 1969)

24. Something (Hit #1 on: November 29, 1969)

25. Come Together (Hit #1 on: November 29, 1969)

26. Let It Be (Hit #1 on: April 11, 1970)

27. The Long And Winding Road (Hit #1 on: June 13, 1970)

The Google domination

Kampala is under attack but the denizens don’t realise. And they might never realise until the invaders are sucking blood straight from their necks. The advent of the net brought many things to mankind and humanity adopted new gods. The guys who brought Google and all the other techno gizmos became instant hits. Even now, there are those who think the coolest thing in the world is to look like Bill Gates, and not because he gives out billions to fight malaria.

Maybe we should not be raising our brows at the way the internet has dominated everything we do now but the Google phenomenon is more than a little bit frightening. There was a time when we actually used the brains we spent time training in school. When someone asked what time it was, we would actually look at the wristwatch on our hand and tell the time. When someone wanted to know how many teeth there are in the mouth of an adult human, all we had to do was flip the pages in our head and go to that time in P4 science where Miss Kasule taught about that.

But that is all in the past. We are now a nation of zombies. The phrase, “Google it,” is becoming really scary. It is a lot like the background music in a horror show where the heroine is walking backwards and the slasher is waiting quietly with a big knife.

Where are we going to end with this trend? Maybe we’ll never know. The company was not here ten years ago but they have grown at a rate that must have the nerd of all nerds, Mr. Gates really scared. What makes it even more eerie is the secrecy that the Google management keeps. It is like the Coca Cola secret formula; only a few chosen people know the real formula and when they start talking, you and I will feel like the outsiders we really are (Okay, that’s just an urban legend but it still sounds cool). Same with the Google guys. They have their own language and lots of secrets about things that probably should not be secret anyway.

And that is what makes it so scary. These mysterious guys are slowly reeling in the whole world but we don’t care. Or we don’t realise. What if they turn out to be sinister psychos and all this is part of some sinister grand plan? While we click away, they are getting all the information they need and when the time is ripe, they will initiate The Final Solution. And where the Fuhrer failed, they probably will not because we have been so easy to take in. For all we know, the time is ripe already. We are referring more and more to this search engine for the answers to even the simplest questions.

Seriously, what do you make of a generation of people who when asked who the Vice President of Uganda is, will tell you to “Google it?”

What is Ragga Dee singing?

Ragga Dee won the Pearl of Africa Music Award for best Ragga artiste of the year. To give an indication of how monotonous the event is becoming, the man himself, while accepting the award, said the organisers should scrape the raga artiste of the year category, or better still rename it, the Ragga Dee Award. Now that is a thought, don’t you think?

So what makes this artiste so good that Uganda’s numerous raga stars just cannot touch him? Is it his great flow of rhythmic words? Maybe it is his stage power, no? There are very many artistes in Kampala who say they do raga but whenever someone thinks of who might take the award, the thought process takes all of one and a half seconds. No prize for guessing who might win in the next edition of the awards.

Back in school, when boys would escape from schools as far flung as Busoga College Mwiri to go to Club Silk, Ragga Dee was a hot MC in the club. He was a legend known for his raga hits and potty mouth. The boys would return to school tired and dirty but contented because they had seen their star in person.

Fast-forward ten years and Raga Dee is still on the scene. He is still carrying the same name and he is maybe bigger than he was initially, physically and as far as his star is concerned. There are those who frown when he is presented as the hottest raga artiste this side of traditional reggae because they feel he sold out. He is not spitting raga rhymes any more.

Ragga grew out of reggae. There is an unmistakable reggae beat in all real ragga tracks. That is where the point of contention lies; what kind of ragga is Ragga Dee putting out? Should we call it a special Ugandan brand? Because surely, if we were asked to bring out our best raga star, we would be lucky if this music were not pushed to another category.

Why do all Ragga Dee’s songs have a rumba beat in the background and one gets the feeling they are going to hear some Kinsasha boy belting out a bolingo when a song starts. And by the way, Ragga Dee also speaks Lingala too so the judges would probably be hard pressed to decide what music they are listening to. Leads one to ponder; shouldn’t we perhaps call him Soukous Dee, as a great, wise man called The Puzzle once said?

Maybe he is stuck in time. There was a time when Zairean artistes were all the rage in Kampala and that must have been the time the bug bit him. He started crafting his music on the Arlus Mabeles and Kanda Bongomans from Congo-side. And it worked because suddenly, Kampala was not yearning for these over dressed, heavily jeweled, singers with dark glasses and a thousand queen dancers. We had our own Soukous star and what’s more, we understood what he was singing.

But there is a saying, “Never walk away from a winning streak.” Ragga Dee found his niche and he started churning out one society conscious song after another. The more he released, the more we cheered. Today, with all the launches from the avalanche of music stars, many of whom are journeymen trying to get rich quick, Raga Dee is probably the only musician who can launch again and again without grating on the people’s nerves.

Because Kampala just loves his antics. The comedy in his songs and the experienced voice are assets that cannot be duplicated. Of late, he seems to have gone into over drive because just before we get used to the tune of one of his releases, he hits us with another one.

Somewhere along the road to stardom, Ragga Dee must have noticed that his music is not really ragga anymore. The few lines that could be classified as such in his songs are actually usually pure rap or a lame excuse for ragga. Somewhere along that road, he must have tried to change his identity but realised that it was not going to be easy.

Besides, this is the city where the fans think they own you because they came to your show. If they want to call this soukous singing rapper a ragga artiste, he will not be changed. Or hurt. As long as the fans keep the green notes dropping into his coffers. What’s in a name?

Monday, December 05, 2005

More heroes

cant stop myself...

Heirachy of Heroes

Everyone wants to look up to someone. Everyone needs heroes and when you fail to find them in your environment, click on to better choices.

The Kid with a destructive Wand

Harry Potter is back in town and this time, he is not pretending to be a kid. The fourth film in the series is showing at Cineplex and from the response, it is as big as the previous movies. Fans of the franchise will be happy to note that this film is a get-way to another.

Named Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the movie is darker than all the others put together. The mood is reminiscent of the second Lord of the Rings flick. There are changes in the setting and in the characters. The actors themselves have changed visibly since we last saw them. There are broken voices all over the film; Rupert Grint (Ron) is at that stage when a boy should not sing. And this time, we have guys with real beards at Hogwarts.

This year, Hogwarts, Harry Potter’s wizardry school, is getting ready for the Triwizard competition, an Olympic style competition that brings together wizard schools from all over the world. In addition, there is the Yule ball coming up and the students have to find dates. Harry and his friend Rupert are getting desperate because it seems they can’t summon up the necessary courage to ask the girls. Harry, the great wizard does not have a clue when it comes to matters of the heart.

But the Dark Lord, that menace from way back in the earlier films is rising. Harry Potter is having nightmares and it seems he is being warned of this new advent of his old nemesis. Back when he was a child, the Dark Lord wanted to kill him but his mother saved him by sacrificing herself. That act of love overpowered the Dark Lord. Until now. There are signs that there are people trying to raise him. So as they go about the competition, there is another battle going on for the life of Harry Potter, which if lost could spell doom for the world.

The first thing one notices after watching this film is that it is too long. When people start yawning in a Harry Potter movie, there is something wrong. For a movie that was meant to be for kids in the first place, two and a half hours is too long. Plus the fact that it was shot in very dark colours. It was meant to create mystery but maybe it was overdone. One can’t even see their hand inside the auditorium for most of the movie.

The acting is okay for the main actors. These people have grown up on this film and they have picked up skills along the way that are going to put bread on their tables when Harry Potter is long done with. Daniel Radcliff has made the surprised look his very own. Rupert Grint is a natural when it comes to expressing his emotions. Emma Watson’s Hermione is underutilised in this plot, unlike in Prisoner of Azkaban.

Unfortunately, the good acting does not redeem the slow plot. The relationship between Hermione and Ron is underdeveloped and we are left wondering what the point was anyway. Then we have to choose between the Triwizard, the romance between Harry and whichever girl he thinks he is going to ask out and the Dark Lord’s designs on Potter. He represents a more sinister form of death. “I’m going to kill you, Harry Potter,” he says and we know he is not playing this time. But that theme is also trifled with and we have to wait for another film to see him carry out that threat.

The costumes are good. They transport one to another time when all you had to do to get out of boredom was to open up your Enid Blyton book. Always have a feeling you are about to see the famous five. And one will enjoy the swelling orchestra that works throughout the film.