Wednesday, 19 September 2018

The Potential of Sri Lankan English Comics


Comic books are a popular form of entertainment throughout the world offering stories in a variety of
styles and genres. As a Sri Lankan who enjoys comic books, I would like to see Sri Lankan English
comics. Sri Lanka has had comics for some time, but there are only a few comics in English. Sri
Lankan English comics are slowly starting to emerge. In this article I am listing types of English
comics I’d like to see Sri Lanka produce.

Social Commentary
There could be social commentary on issues facing Sri Lanka. Examples of this include both the
good & bad of social media, the problems of crime, the cost of living problems, bribery & corruption,
issues of discrimination, the rule of law or the lack of it, the lack of road discipline among others.  

History
Stories of Sri Lankan history could be featured in graphic novel form. History could range from prehistoric stories such as tales of Sri Lankan Kings to 20th century events such as the story of Sri
Lanka’s independence. There also could be fictional stories set in the past.

Politics
When it comes to political stories, one story I’d like to see is a political hero. It would be a story of a
minister who is one of the good politicians with integrity. This politician is not pleased with the
existing political culture Sri Lanka has and takes steps to improve it discreetly in order to protect his
or her job. This character would prevent corrupt persons comprising politicians, public servants,
business people or ordinary people from carrying out their plans. Another thing this hero would do is
expose corrupt politicians and public servants resulting in them getting out of office.

Humour
Sri Lankan comics offer potential for humorous stories showcasing Sri Lankan humour. A famous
brand of Sri Lankan jokes are Udurawana jokes. These jokes are about a Sri Lankan who doesn’t
know English very well. Udurawana jokes could be presented in comic strip form.   

Graphic Novel Adaptations
When it comes to graphic novels, there could be graphic novel adaptations of successful Sri Lankan
novels, including those which originated in Sinhalese, Tamil and English.

Superheroes
As superheroes are popular, I think Sri Lankan English comics have an opportunity to feature Sri
Lankan superheroes. I think villains superheroes could take on include the underworld and corrupt
politicians, businessmen & public servants.

As a sci-fi fan, I would love to see Sri Lankan sci-fi superheroes. Sci-Fi superheroes could be those
without superpowers who become superheroes with a tech-supersuit that does amazing things. Another type of sci-fi superheroes are those who obtained superpowers via contact with technology or alien life forms. This goes into my next type of comic, that being sci-fi.

Sci-Fi
Sci-Fi is the type of of comic I’d most like to see. Sci-Fi is perfect for comic form as it allows the
comic artists to draw creative and enjoyable imagery. Sci-Fi is at its best when it discusses the human condition. Sri Lankan sci-fi comics could discuss the human condition and of course Sri Lanka & its society.

There could be stories set in the future offering two possibilities which are:
  • A dark future showing us where we as a country do not want to go to.
  • An optimistic future showing us where we as a country wish to be. 

Another option is an alternate version of the present which could go in all sorts of different ways.
  • An alternate universe Sri Lanka which is worse than our current setup. This would show us where we as a country do not want to go to.
  • An alternate universe Sri Lanka which is better than our current setup. This would show us where we as a country wish to be. 
  • An alternate universe Sri Lanka which is neither better nor worse but simply different.

Some Sri Lankan sci-fi stories which could be featured are aliens landing in Sri Lanka (It could be in
an open way or where only a small number of people get into contact with the aliens), a Sri Lankan
inventor inventing a new piece of technology and its implications for Sri Lanka (and possibly the
world), time travel stories which go to the past and/or future, a Sri Lankan or group of Sri Lankans
travelling into space set in the present or the future.

International Themes
There a number of international themes which could be featured. Some stories could deal with Sri
Lanka’s relationship with the outside world. An example of this is a story about a Sri Lankan
Ambassador to the United Nations. There also could be adventure stories with heroes based in Sri
Lanka who travel the world and also have adventures where their friends from overseas come to
visit them.

Many Sri Lankans have good knowledge of the world, so we can use our international knowledge to
write stories set in other countries. This would be examples of comics made in Sri Lanka appealing
to a global readership.

Export Product
When it comes to comics printed and/or published in Sri Lanka, they could be an export product that
generates revenue for the country. They would be read by Sri Lankans around the world as well as
people native to other countries.

Unity
English speaking comics would have an opportunity for unity. These would be Sri Lankan stories in
English showing Sri Lankan characters dealing with both common Sri Lankan and universal themes
enabling it to appeal to Sri Lankans of different ethnicities.

Final Thoughts
We can look to both American and European comics as influences. It’s worth noting that comics
could also have combinations of some of the different types I mentioned above. An example is the
Belgian comic The Adventures of Tintin. Tintin is an adventure comic that is also a comedy which
goes around the world. It has also delved into other genres throughout its course which include
mysteries, spy stories and sci-fi. I would like to see a Sri Lankan version of The Adventures of Tintin.
We should also create some comics that are unlike any comics created elsewhere in the world.

I hope you enjoyed my thoughts on the potential of Sri Lankan English comics where I gave different
types of Sri Lankan English comics that can be created. I would enjoy hearing others give their
thoughts on Sri Lankan comics they’d like to see.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Elton John & Bob Seger Live in Concert


Elton John & Bob Seger are my two favourite singers and I see similarities in their music. I
would love to see them performing together, so I decided to write an article imagining them
performing together in concert featuring songs by both singers. I envision a mix of supporting
musicians that work with each singer as the backing band. It would comprise Bob’s backing band the
Silver Bullet Band: Chris Campbell (bass, backing vocals), Alto Reed (saxophone, percussion,
guitar) & Craig Frost (organ, keyboards) and Elton’s original band members Davey Johnstone
(guitar, backing vocals) & Nigel Olsson (drums, backing vocals) who are part of his current
band. The current line-up of Bob Seger’s Silver Bullet Band is only these three members, as his
other backing musicians don’t appear to be official members. Elton would of course play piano and
Bob would play guitar, piano & tambourine. When Bob plays piano, he would play a second
piano in addition to Elton’s piano. I did in fact envision Elton & Bob perform with this backing
band in my previous blog post “Toto Tribute Album” imagining them performing a duet of “Rosanna”.

I gave an equal amount of songs that belong to each singer. I’m aware that there are some major
hits belonging to both of them not included here. The way I determined this list is by focusing on
songs of theirs I like looking mostly from their hit songs and thinking of ones which sound good in
collaboration. I’m including some of their hit songs that they haven’t played in concert for a while,
and there are also a few of their album tracks. I’ll now list how I see their songs played together.

Crocodile Rock (1973)
This is one of Elton’s biggest hits. It’s influenced by 50s rock & roll music, which was a big
influence on both singers. The song has a prominent farfisa organ sound on the original. In this
version, replace that organ sound with the one that Bob uses to be played by Craig and have Alto
play saxophone (an instrument not featured on the original recording).

Old Time Rock & Roll (1978)
This is Bob Seger’s signature song. It’s included after “Crocodile Rock” as the two songs are a bit
similar. Have Bob play electric guitar on this, with Davey playing lead. Have an added organ part by
Craig on this.

Candle in the Wind (1973)
Bob would play acoustic guitar and Davey would play electric guitar. This version would have the
added organ played by Craig. Alto would play percussion. Have Elton sing the first verse &
chorus, Bob sing the second verse and chorus and they’d share lines of the third verse with the third
chorus sung together.  

Mainstreet (1976)
This song is placed after “Candle in the Wind” due to the similarity it has to that song. The studio
version has this brilliant electric guitar riff played throughout that’s replaced with Alto’s saxophone in
live versions. Bring back the electric guitar riff for this version to be played by Davey and have Bob
on acoustic guitar. Have Alto on percussion.

Rocket Man (1972)
Have Bob play acoustic guitar and Davey play slide guitar. Craig would play the synth parts from the
original on keyboards. Alto would play percussion.

Hollywood Nights (1978)
Have Bob on electric guitar. The piano parts on the studio version starts in the middle of the first
verse, with it starting from the beginning in Bob’s live versions. Have the piano start from the
beginning on this version. Elton would keep most the special piano moments in the song while
putting his unique spin on them and adding a few of his own piano parts. The piano would be more
prominent on this version. The section at the end of the song has the backing vocalists singing
“Hollywood Nights, Hollywood Hills, Above All The Lights” with Bob responding to them. Have Elton
sing the backing vocalists part at the end in full lead vocal (without any contributions from the
backing vocalists onstage) with Bob’s part at the end being the same.

I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues (1983)
Have Bob play the harmonica solo that was played by Stevie Wonder on the original version. Alto
would play percussion.

I Can’t Save You Angelene (1995)
I included this song after Elton’s “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues” as it’s similar to that
one. I think this song sounds a lot like Elton John. I pointed it out in my previous blog post “Ten Great
Bob Seger Songs By Ten Different Piano Players” including its similarity to the previous song. Part of
it is the fact that Bob played piano on the original recording. Thus have Bob and Elton play piano
together on this version. Have added organ by Craig. Alto would play percussion.

Philadelphia Freedom (1975)
Alto would play the added sax. There would be no strings on this version. Craig would play added
organ.

Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me (1974)
This is placed before “We’ve Got Tonight” due to the two songs’ similarities. Elton and Bob would
again both play piano. They would use the George Michael duet version vocal arrangement, where
Bob would sing George’s lines and Elton would sing his lines from that version. Alto would play
saxophone as there were horns on the original. Craig would play organ on this version.

We’ve Got Tonight (1978)
Elton and Bob would both play piano on this. Bob would sing the first verse and chorus, the bridge
& the fourth chorus and Elton would sing the second verse & chorus. Elton and Bob would sing
the third and last chorus together. Alto would play percussion. This version would rock more than the
original as after the line “still here we are” the string parts would be played as a rock guitar part by
Davey.

Sunspot Baby (1976)
There would be the additional organ by Craig. Alto would play percussion. Following the last guitar
solo have an extended jam where Elton would incorporate a piano solo.

Island Girl (1975)
Bob would play acoustic guitar. The original has the electric guitar parts only in certain sections of
the song. In this version, have the electric guitar throughout the whole song. Alto would play the
added saxophone. Craig would play its mellotron and synthesizer parts on the keyboard including
the mellotron solo. Davey would play some rocking guitar riffs in the mellotron solo.

Still The Same (1978)
Elton and Bob would both play piano, as Bob played piano on the original version. Alto would play
acoustic guitar alongside Davey.

Love’s The Last To Know (1982)
This is included as Elton’s guitarist Davey played acoustic guitar on the original track. Craig and
Chris were also on the original recording. Alto would play
percussion.

Honky Cat (1972)
Alto would play sax as there were horns on the original. The original’s stringed instrument was a
banjo played by Davey. Davey would still play that, but there would be the addition of electric guitar
on this version played by Bob. Have Craig play electric piano sounds on the keyboard as Elton also
played electric piano on the original.

Healing Hands (1989)
This is my favourite Elton John which he unfortunately no longer plays in concert. Craig would play
organ instead of the keyboard sounds on the original. Alto would play percussion.

Even Now (1982)
I thought it would be good to follow my favourite Elton John song with my favourite Bob Seger song,
which Bob too no longer plays in concert. In the original recording, Bob sings both backing and lead
vocals in the chorus. It’s not possible to sing both in a live context, so have Elton sing the backing
vocal lines in full lead vocal (without any of the backing vocalists on stage contributing). Bob would
sing his lead vocal part in the chorus like how he did on the studio version. Bob would also play
tambourine. Elton would also sing the second verse. This song has a brilliant piano part in it by Roy
Bittan. It’s different to Elton’s style, and Elton should both stay close the original part and add his
own spin on it.

England & America (2016)
This song is from the Deluxe Edition of Elton’s most recent studio album “Wonderful Crazy Night”. It
follows “Even Now” as it has musical similarities to it. Also, “Even Now” is from the 80s and “England
& America” has a real 80s rock sound. This song also sounds different to Elton’s usual style,
where it actually sounds more like a Bob Seger song than an Elton John song. Bob would play
electric guitar as this is a harder rocking song. Alto would play percussion.

Against The Wind (1980)
The backing harmony vocals in the studio version are sung by Bob Seger & late Eagle Glenn
Frey. Have Elton sing the backing vocal parts at the end solely by himself, and of course sing part of
the lead vocals with Bob. Bob would play acoustic guitar and Davey would play electric guitar. Alto
would play percussion.

Club at the End of the Street (1989)
Have Elton play acoustic piano (unlike the electric piano of the original recording) like how he did on
his 2000 concert/DVD One Night Only. Alto would play saxophone as there was one on the original.

I Don’t Wanna Go On With You Like That (1988)
Craig would replace the synth parts on the original with new keyboard parts on the organ. Alto would
play percussion.

The Fire Inside (1991)
This song is chosen to follow “I Don’t Wanna Go On With You Like That” as both songs are a bit
similar, from the same period and feature good rock piano parts. Also, both songs are rock songs
whose guitar part is acoustic and not electric. This song has fabulous piano work on the original that
was played by Roy Bittan. It would give Elton a great opportunity to showcase his piano playing skills
and be a challenge to play something that’s outside of his normal style & a rock piano piece
even more complicated than his normal work. Elton would both stay close to Roy’s original piano
part and add his own spin on it. Alto would play percussion.

Fire Lake (1980)
This is going from one Bob Seger “Fire” song to another, but it’s much slower than the previous one
as it’s a ballad. Have Bob on acoustic guitar and Davey on electric guitar. Alto would play percussion.

The Encores
Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting (1973)
In the intro Craig would play the added organ alongside the guitars before Elton’s piano comes in.
Bob would play electric guitar. Alto would play added sax.

Rock & Roll Never Forgets (1976)
This song is included after “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting” as it sounds similar to it. It’s
chosen to conclude the show as Bob has been ending his concerts with it.

I hope you enjoyed my selection of songs Elton John and Bob Seger could perform together in a
hypothetical concert. It’s fitting as the concert opens with an Elton John song and closes with a Bob
Seger song. I’d be interested if you have any songs of theirs that you’d like to see them perform
together. Feel free to comment with those ideas. I think these two singers fit well together and am
sure this band would be performing great songs together.

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Sri Lankan Private Sector Development Proposal


In this article, I am proposing an idea for the Sri Lankan private sector to develop Sri Lanka. It would
be an initiative that many private companies would partake in, independent of the government. This
initiative would have the participation of many private companies with an aim to take Sri Lanka
forward, based on what the private sector is capable of doing in its current setup. This project would
be profit making, but with a motivation to improve the country. I’m aware that the way the private
sector operates is by competition, but the private sector is known to sometimes collaborate on
certain issues. I hope my idea will get people thinking about the feasibility of this initiative. I’ll now
mention my ideas on how this project could go about.

Those responsible for this project would study and take note of the strengths the private sector has
over the public sector. They would avoid ideas that may be controversial and/or seemingly tied to a
political ideology. This is as there will be Sri Lankans of different political views working together on
the project. Finding common ground is important, where the project planners would come up with a
list of common objectives that Sri Lankans across the political divide want for the country. They
would then narrow the list down based on factors like cost and practicality.

This project would have a plan consisting of a timetable that’ll list by what date things can get done.
The project would go on irrespective of any changes that happen in government. This would give
international investors a consistent message of changes and changes in the pipeline that can garner
their investments. This would also give Sri Lankans an ability to see how good this team is going
ahead with their plan and use it to hold them to account.

I’ll now list some improvements this project could deal with:
  • More investments are needed in Sri Lanka’s manufacturing sector to boost exports. Work on increasing domestic investments in the manufacturing sector as well as in other sectors.
  • Work on obtaining more FDIs (Foreign Direct Investments) in the manufacturing sector and other sectors. 
  • Work to combat bribery and corruption in the private sector.
  • Work to improve the ethical conduct of the private sector.
  • Work to improve job opportunities, thus reducing the number of unemployed people in Sri Lanka.   
  • Take steps to increase the average wage in Sri Lanka. 
  • Have entrepreneurship as an important factor of this project where entrepreneurship is encouraged and looked out for.
  • Find ways to remove the hassles of getting things done in Sri Lanka.
  • Come up with a list of efficient service ideas businesses can use to improve their service delivery for both consumers and the businesses. Following that, work on implementing the practical ideas.
  • Work on developing solutions to Sri Lanka’s problems that businesses can fix with new services.
  • Work on getting major international businesses to set up shop in Sri Lanka where the project team communicates to these international companies how a Sri Lankan presence can benefit them.
  • Work on increasing and diversifying Sri Lanka’s exports.
  • Work to make Sri Lanka a hub based on its strategic location. 

This was a idea I came up with for the Sri Lankan private sector to develop Sri Lanka. There are
more things that could be done not listed here. I’d be interested in hearing people’s thoughts on my
proposal and people’s ideas of what a project like this could do. I think that if the private sector
works together in a plan like this, they are capable of taking the country further.