Thursday, July 21, 2005


We’ve been having a busy time. Dow (the Jungle Princess) has quite an extended family. I enjoy having them around. I like large family gatherings. Especially when I don’t have to do any work.

We have taken in one of her teenage nephews so he can continue his education which we are sponsoring.

The last family gathering included 8 kids most of who wound up in the spa. The purpose of the meeting was to introduce us to a 7-year-old orphan girl. Wow. It took me about ten seconds to decide to enlarge our family. No bigee. I think almost anyone would have done the same. What a difference for me. After three sons and a nephew---a little girl. I might need some advice here. Can you fart around them?

Now, because of the enlargement of the household, Dow has finally agreed to hire a maid. A Burmese maid gets $75 (US) a month plus room and board. Don’t blame me, they are glad to get the position. Dow is busy directing the repairs of the maid quarters in preparation. She is
very good at directing builders. I tell her she could be a contractor.

Here is something from today’s Bangkok Post:

Only 1% of Thai women consider themselves to be beautiful, and six out of 10 would consider some form of plastic surgery if it were free, according to a study commissioned by Dove.

How about that, fellow girl watchers? In my opinion, Thai women are the most beautiful in the world. Many have that Angelina Jolie full, pouty lip look. When combined with the sultry, Asian eyes, we call them bedroom eyes, it’s a great blend. On top of that, or rather, below that, is usually an excellent figure. And a high percentage of older women retain their figures.

Every time I go out I wish I had the nerve to take pictures of perfect strangers. I see beautiful women, front and rear, everywhere. Exquisite beauty, interesting character, and knockout bodies, who could ask for anything more?

And they’re not satisfied? Well maybe that’s a good thing. Wouldn’t want them to get conceited.

Dow (the Jungle Princess) feels inferior because she has brownish skin. I tell her that’s why I chose her. You can read the story here. I tell her she’s not near as dark as California girls try to get with their tans. It doesn’t help. She must have run into some prejudice here and it stuck.

Gerry Thomas died at age 83. He was a truly great American.

What did Gerry Thomas do? He only invented the TV dinner, that’s all. Move over Thomas A. Edison.

My contribution to the evolution of the TV dinner is always ignored. If you look on the cover of every dinner now, you will see something like this: “Remove dinner from outer box.” That wasn’t on there in the beginning. I started a fire in my oven!

I am not a reporter because I don’t enjoy being a reporter. This blog is only about what interests me and I’m not interested in being a reporter. I was asked about the Buddhist protesting the listing of a beer maker on the Thai stock exchange. I was going to give it a pass until I noticed an interesting contrast in viewpoints.

Here is an excerpt from the AP by way of Yahoo news:

Thousands of people demonstrated Wednesday outside the Stock Exchange of Thailand to protest plans by the country's largest beer company to list its shares on the market, saying the need to make a profit would encourage drinking.

The demonstrators were largely members of Buddhist organizations, inspired by the religion's principle of abstinence from alcohol. Many carried Thai flags and banners with slogans such as "If you love Thailand, oppose the listing of alcoholic beverages on the SET." Police estimated the number of protesters at 3,000, but reporters said it was closer to 10,000.
Full story here.

Then there is the Catholic attitude toward beer:

Germany outstripped Italy in the race to produce papal merchandise. By April 21, Pope Benedict’s home town, Marktl am Inn, had come up with papal beer, Vatican bread, candles featuring photographs taken the night of his election and a cake called “slice of Ratzinger.” Bakeries offered free papal pastries shaped like miters
Full story here.

They also sold vodka but did not call it Papal Vodka.

Monday, July 18, 2005


I was in Viet Nam for 7 years off and on, from June, 1962 until August, 1970. William Westmoreland was there, commanding all the military, from 1964 through 1968, all under Lyndon Johnson. He died today at age 91.

I wasn’t in the military. I was an engineer with a construction company and later a design company.

I have two vivid memories of Westmoreland’s tour there. Early in 1965 we got contracts to build large morgues in the country. That was my first inkling that the big military build-up was coming. The memory of that still bothers me.

Then there was his farewell speech in 1968 broadcast on AFRS (Armed Forces Radio Service). In the speech he badly mispronounced the name of the President of the Republic of Viet Nam, Nguyen Cao Ky. This was something I had been straightened out on my second day in country. Nguyen, the most common family name, possessed by fully 10% of the population, was pronounced WIN. What could be simpler than that? Westmoreland tried to pronounce every syllable and consonant.

It had been advertised that the General and the President had been working closely together. Perhaps I make too much of it, but it troubled me that Westmoreland couldn’t pronounce Ky’s name. It troubles me still.


There is a large segment of America which has come down solidly against evil. They spend every day figuring out how to defeat this evil, an evil that they sincerely believe
is the worst thing alive in the world today.

What is this terrible evil?

That evil is George Bush.

Not al Qaeda, George Bush.

Given the choice between defeating al Qaeda or George Bush, they would not hesitate a moment before choosing George Bush. They would deny it, but it’s true. Their hate knows no bounds. It has reached the level of mass insanity.

To give these people their due, were it not for President Bush, they would be all for the war on terrorism. But with George Bush in charge, a defeat against terrorists would be a victory for George Bush. Thus they see a defeat against terrorists as a defeat for them. In effect, they have become spiritually allied with the terrorists.

The recent claim by Dick Cheney that the resistance in Iraq was “in its last throes,” brought the opposition out in strength. The phrase that haunts their nightmares is coming closer and closer to reality. That phrase, “What if Bush is right,” spells doom to all their hopes and aspirations. As a result, they have launched a massive propaganda campaign which tries to imply that there can be no victory in Iraq. This is in the vain hope that if they say it often enough, it will turn out to be true. It may have occurred to them that by downgrading the American achievements, they are giving aid and comfort to the terrorists. But, in their minds, the end justifies any means. The end here being the defeat of Bush resulting, eventually, in a victory for them which would result, of course, in a much better America with them in charge.

So you see, it might all seem duplicitous, some might even say traitorous, now, but it is to eventually do ‘good’. ‘Doing good’ is always their ultimate aim, no matter what it takes to achieve it.

The situation these ‘Opponents of Victory’ find themselves in reminds me of the Alec Guiness character, Colonel Nicholson, in the movie Bridge on the River Kwai. He becomes so dedicated to building the bridge for the Japanese that he has been warned by a junior officer:

The fact is, what we're doing could be construed as, forgive me sir, collaboration with the enemy. Perhaps even as treasonable activity...Must we work so well. Must we build them a better bridge than they could have built for themselves?

But Nicholson has gone insane. He sees the edifice he is building as the triumph of and monument to his life. That he is greatly aiding the enemy he dismisses from his mind as secondary to what he is achieving.

It is only after causing the deaths of the raiders who have come to blow the bridge that he comes to his senses with his last breath:

“What have I done?” he gasps.

These ‘Opponents of Victory’ have built their own edifice. It is the ‘legend’ of the dumb Bush, the lying Bush, the divisive Bush, and so on. You can fill in your own adjectives. If it’s negative, chances are they have used it. In building this edifice they have spent far more money and manpower than any simple bridge could have used up. And that they have cost the lives of American fighting men by giving encouragement to the enemy they will deny. They are just as insane as Guiness/Nicholson was in the movie.

The tragedy is greater for me because these are my people who are doing this. I have always been a liberal at heart. Those people moved far, far away from me. I am reminded of an old Mort Sahl line, I paraphrase. “Anyone who maintains a consistent foreign policy will sooner or later become a traitor to his country.”

Today it becomes, “Any liberal who remains constant in his beliefs will, sooner or later, become diametrically opposed to his party.”

I am reminded of the American Communist Party which was staunchly anti-Nazi from 1933 to 1939. When the Hitler-Stalin friendship was signed in August, 1939, the attitude towards the Nazis changed completely. Then when Hitler invaded Russia in June, 1941, there was another 180 degree turn in the policy

Today we see similar en masse flip-flopping in the liberal leadership depending entirely on who is President of the United States. So where does that leave people like me? People who put their country ahead of partisan politics? Do they expect me to join them in hoping that America is defeated somewhere in the world so they can hold that against George Bush? They are insane.

I am no fan of President Bush. I equate that religious ‘born again’ crap with financial bankruptcy. It’s no coincidence that many of the people who use one also use the other. There’s a 7-year time limit before you can file your next financial bankruptcy. Is there a time limit on filing moral bankruptcy? Can you be ‘born again’ in another 7 years? Ten years? Once worked out okay for me.

I suspect someone who truly believes he talks to God. It’s a small step for him to also believe that God talks to him.

I suspect a party that has people with addictive personalities as their leading spokespersons. I’m not just talking about gambling and drug addiction. Anyone who reaches 100 pounds overweight is obviously a food addict. When someone has two addictions they have an addictive personality by definition. Not a day goes by that I do not consume a fair amount of alcohol. Some might call that an addiction. But it is an addiction that I control. My ex-wife has testified (in counseling) that she never saw me drunk in 15 years of marriage. When someone reaches 100 pounds overweight, he has an addiction he cannot control.

I suspect a party that thinks handing over money to religious leaders to pass on to the needy is a good idea. That’s like handing over the chickens to the foxes. I know they’re not all crooked but how many religious leaders are just out and out con men? How many are extremely rich? Where did they get those riches? They took them from church donations that’s where. That’s not stealing?

Sure, you can name some honest, devout preachers. Billy Graham you say? I’d like to see the inside of his closet. I wonder how many thousand-dollar suits are in there. Billy Graham has as much chance of getting into his own heaven as a camel has of passing through the eye of a needle.

So, again, where does that leave people like me? The right becomes more and more repressive every day. That is their natural instinct. The left is traitorous.

Where does that leave people like me?

Friday, July 15, 2005


(Thanks to Jeffrey Wells at Hollywood Elsewhere for nudging me into the Bangkok movie scene. Check his blog for excellent movie talk and, of course, nutty politics.)

I am not a movie goer. Why? I have a low threshold of boredom. My favorite way of watching a movie is with a book on my lap to read during dull stretches of the movie. I have trouble reading in a darkened theatre. Ergo, I seldom go to movies, preferring to watch at home with the aforementioned book on my lap. The last film I saw in a theatre was Vanilla Sky because my date insisted. Nough said?

I was recently asked about movies here in Bangkok. All I knew was that films open here about the same time as in the States. I said that they were all dubbed in Thai, not knowing any better. But my interest was tweaked so I decided to try the Bangkok movie scene.

I told The Jungle Princess in the morning we would go to see War of the Worlds that afternoon. I found the movie ad in her Thai language paper. It was playing in about 20 theatres in English and 8 theatres dubbed in Thai. My computer told me there was a 2PM show at most cinemas. As in most of our travels throughout Bangkok, I left the rest to her.

We left the house at 1:25 and then the confusion began. When I move about alone I carefully study maps and have no problem getting to where I’m going. When Dow (The Jungle Princess) is along, I pay no attention to where she leads and just string along. But this time something was wrong. We went on the subway to downtown then switched to the Skytrain. We went four stations east, which was away from the town center. Then we took a taxi. There was confusion and we switched to another taxi. This one left us a block from the theatre and we finally arrived, an hour after we started.

It was pretty strange. We live in the northeast part of town but by no means in the boondocks. I wondered why the safari. There had to be something closer.

Then she solved the mystery.

Guess what.

She had never been to a movie before.

In her life!

Picture it. This was a 37 year old lady who was now going to her first movie.

Never in America.

That was the reason for the confusion. She didn’t know where the theatres were.

It was a ten unit multiplex. WOTW was only playing in one and it wasn’t starting for another 15 minutes.

The tickets cost 150 baht ($3.50) each. We sat in a section in the back in which the arm rests can be raised up so people can sit closer. The theatre sat about 300 but the audience was only about 30. The theatre was state of the art but, as in most American cinemas, the sound was too loud. The air conditioning made it too cold, coming in from the heat outside. Dow went to get her munchies and came back with a beer for me. She read my mind again. Not too hard when beer is concerned. Before the main feature, everyone stood during the playing of the Thai national anthem. That is a practice throughout the country.

The movie began. This is my review:

War of the Worlds has one of the silliest plots ever, and I mean ever, put into a mainline Hollywood movie. Tom Cruise, surprise, plays Tom Cruise. He has two children by his ex-wife who has remarried and appears to be about 7-8 months pregnant. In the beginning it is established that he is suspect of being an irresponsible parent. His kids, a teenage boy and 7-year-old girl, have been reluctantly brought to him for his turn of custody. He is late to pick them up, his house is messy, the sleeping arrangements are questionable, etc. etc. Get it? He is suspected of being inadequate as a parent. This point must be established or else the rest of the plot will make even less sense than it does.

After his ex and her husband leave for Boston all hell breaks loose. After a lightening storm, from out of the ground emerge these huge, alien, killing machines which are threatening to destroy all life on earth.

Tom Cruise witnesses much of the killing and destruction. He has a dilemma. Thousands of people are being killed. The town is being destroyed. He has his two kids on his hands. What to do?

His 7-year-old daughter solves the problem when she whines, “I want my mommy.”

There it is. Tom Cruise has found out what to do. He will prove to his family that he if a responsible parent by bringing the kids to their mother.

That’s right boys and girls. I’ve written about quests before and how every action-adventure story must revolve around them. The larger, more important the quest, the more interest is generated in the story. The quest here, while civilization as we know it is coming to an end, is for Tom Cruise to prove to his family that he is a responsible parent! He will take the kids to their 7-8 months pregnant mother in Boston. How this will benefit the kids is not clear but that is the quest.

Fortunately for the movie, there are two stories. The silly one above written by Hollywood, and the brilliant one written by H. G. Wells over 70 years ago. The second story is followed closely by Steven Spielberg and is more than a salvation for the movie. It makes the movie a must see. Do not wait for it to come on TV or for the DVD. It will not be nearly as good on the small screen. Go to your nearest high tech theatre and see this movie on a big screen. You will thank me.

To my unpracticed eye, the special effects are awesome. There is one brief, less than 10 second, scene with a train passing through that is amazing. How good is this movie? I, non-theatre going me, will go to see it again. That means I give it 5 stars on the H. G. Wells portion. For the Hollywood silliness, I give it one star.

But in truth, there is only one scene in the cellar of a house during which I longed for the book on my lap and light to read it by. That makes it a pretty good movie overall.

More Hollywood silliness: This movie is rated PG-13. If it had a shot of a bare tit, it would be rated R. There were body parts flying everywhere but, because they were clothed, the movie got a PG-13 rating. That is more than silliness, it is insanity.

Friday, July 08, 2005


I hate movie-making clichés. They are boring and to bore me is to offend me.

I once attended a pretty expensive night course at UC Irvine on the subject of screenwriting. It was taught by a novelist/screenwriter for whom I had a lot of respect. I had read 5 of his novels and was impressed. They were the things from which movies naturally flowed.

That’s why what happened in the class was such a shock. Taking off on a one-line concept of a student having to do with aviation, there came such a string of tired, hackneyed clichés it left me groggy. Just to be sarcastic, I suggested a night flight in a storm to get the only medicine that could save the heroine. The sarcasm was missed and the suggestion adopted whole heartedly.

I never attended another of those classes. I wondered who had written those books on which that instructor had put his name. The writer couldn’t have been the guy teaching that class.

But I digress.

The worst, most common cliché now, is what we once called the Mexican standoff. That’s when two or more people are pointing loaded weapons at each other waiting for someone to blink. That scene seems to be in every gun-toting movie or teleplay these days. That comes from pure laziness and lack of imagination. And it is so artificial. The Mexican standoff never occurs in real life. The second person to try to bring a gun to bear must be shot. It is unrealistic to plot it otherwise.

There is one scene in which the Mexican standoff worked to perfection. In The Longest Day, a line of paratroopers was walking alongside a low wall. Suddenly, on the other side of the wall comes about an equal number of Germans marching in the opposite direction. All have their rifles slung over their shoulders. The look of horror on all the faces as they realize the situation tells the story. Not a single rifle is unslung and pointed as the two groups march away from each other. The scene goes by in a flash. It was a great piece of movie making.

In my years in San Francisco I became an art house snob. There were 4 or 5 art houses in the city and I saw everything they put on the screen. Mostly it was French and British but Ingmar Bergman had his dark, humorless, probing way with us. It was all an escape from clichés which were epidemic in Hollywood. We thought anything foreign was better than American, not realizing that only the best foreign films were imported and the best American films were probably superior.

There was once a memorable double feature in an art house for us snobs. The first feature was Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai. The second was the American remake, The Magnificent Seven. It was truly a master booking and truly snob heaven. The house was packed. We all sat in reverential silence through Kurosawa’s masterpiece. Then we slid forward in our seats to better pounce on the Hollywood interloper.

Every cliché was immediately apparent and drew laughter from my brethren and sistren. In fairness, many of the derisive laughs were well earned. There is one scene in which Charles Bronson puts his head down and fires two pistols cross-handed, blindly, bringing down two bandits. That, deservedly, got a huge laugh.

Also, in fairness, The Magnificent Seven was a pretty good movie, though no one in that audience of snob kebobs would admit it.

I measure my rite of passage into adulthood from the first time that I walked out in the middle of a boring movie. I don’t remember the name. Why should I?

On the other hand I should make up a list of movies that totally mesmerized me at first viewing. In the top ten on the list would be Red River, King Rat and A Shot in the Dark.

It has always bothered me that King Rat is so underrated. On one list of the top thousand films in history, it gets no mention. I think it’s because George Segal’s character, Corporal King wasn’t a totally likeable person. He is not the standard Hollywood hero. But he is a hero of mine. Were I in that prison camp, I guarantee you, I would have been Corporal King’s best friend. One thing I learned in life was how to survive, and everyone around Corporal King survived.

The movie misses a very important point that was in James Clavell’s novel on which it is based. In case the war turned bad for the Japanese and they started taking revenge on the prisoners, King had planned an escape route. Not just for himself, for everyone close to him. Put that in the film and you’ve got a major American hero.

The movie is totally cliché free. One never knows where it is going or how it is going to end. Winning the war, you see, will not guarantee the safety of the prisoners.

How it ends is perfectly logical in retrospect, but difficult to predict.

It is a near perfect motion picture.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005


This from yahoo:

Estonians snatch world wife-carrying title again

Sat Jul 2, 1:43 PM ET

Estonia reigned supreme once again in the wife-carrying world championship on Saturday, as Margo Uusorg sprinted home to win the Baltic country's eighth straight title in the offbeat competition.

Forty couples from 10 countries gathered in the remote Finnish village of Sonkajarvi to complete a 253.5-meter-long obstacle course. A man must carry a woman, not necessarily his spouse, through a pool and across hurdles.

The few rules require a minimum weight of 49 kg (108 lb) for the "wife" and state that all contestants must have fun.

Uusorg, 25, completed the course in 59 seconds with friend Egle Soll, 23, clinging to his back in the trademark "Estonian Carry" -- hanging upside down with her legs clenched around his neck.

Uusorg's prizes were his partner's weight in beer and a high-tech mobile phone.

It was his fourth victory, and the third in a row for his family. Brother Madis won in 2004.

Uusorg and Soll received first prize from the hands of visiting U.S. basketball legend Dennis Rodman, who declined to compete, saying he lacked both a wife and proper training.

Some 9,000 people came to view the event, set deep in forests and lakes a couple of hours' drive from the Arctic Circle. It began in 1992 as a purely Finnish contest based on local legend, according to which wife-stealing was once commonplace in the region.

Read the full story HERE.

Margo actually came in second but the first place team was disqualified when it was discovered they weren’t having fun.

Because it was his 4th win, it was decided that next year Margo must compete wearing a dress. Margo did not object to this.

Many thought that the appearance of Dennis Rodman detracted from the seriousness of the event. Next year they plan to invite Rush Limbaugh.

One disgruntled spectator was heard to say, “Screw it! We should go back to wife-stealing.”

Saturday, July 02, 2005


Silliness from journalists? That is becoming so common that I was going to give this stuff a pass. I feel like I’m complaining about the actions of 8-year-olds. 8-year-olds whom I’m not responsible for and who answer to no one. In short, it’s a waste of time and beneath me.

But then this came from Reuters by way of NRO:

World's oldest person celebrates 115th birthday

- A Dutch woman who swears by a daily helping of herring for a healthy life celebrated her 115th birthday on Wednesday as the oldest living person on record.

Hendrikje van Andel-Schipper, a former needlework teacher, was born in 1890, the year Sioux Indians were massacred by the U.S. military at the Battle of Wounded Knee.
Full story Here.

I swear, those are the first two paragraphs. You can look it up on the link. Is that not priceless silliness? I wonder if they researched to see if any blacks were lynched that year so they could throw that in there also. Surely there was more negative crap they could have thrown in on the poor lady’s 115th birthday.

By Reuters standards, there isn’t a news story in the world that can’t be linked to Wounded Knee:

Moscow-Jul 4, Putin said today, which happens to be 115 years after Sioux Indians were massacred by the U. S. military at the Battle of Wounded Knee, blah, blah, blah.
See how easy that is. No one would notice that.

Here in Bangkok we have our share of petulant 8-year-olds who pass themselves off as journalists. Their silliness is compounded by their attempts to duck responsibility for it. They compose their own Letters to the Editor, claiming readers are sending them in. How silly is that?

This is about The Nation, an English language paper, one of two here in Bangkok. Their charade is so transparent and amateurish only the most gullible would be fooled. They use this ruse to slander the United States while denying responsibility for it. Did I mention they have little courage?

After their first slander I sent this letter. I deliberately treated them like reasonable adults, in the hopes they were, despite the obviously forged letter which I mocked a little.

Needless to say, they didn’t print any part of my letter or any other rebuttal of the attack. Instead, probably taking offence at my treating them as adults, they forged this piece of silliness:

Nobel Peace prize not all it’s cracked up to be

While we congratulate Aung San Suu Kyi on reaching her 60th birthday, one wonders if she really wants to be so closely identified with that dubious badge of honour known as the “Nobel Peace Prize.”

Her name rarely appears in any article that does not mention this award, though she has brought “peace” to no one. Does she really want to boast about a prize that puts her in the same category as the war-criminal architect of the destruction of Cambodia – “Bomb-’em-into-the-stone-ages” Kissinger – who won the Nobel in 1971? (Even Le Duc Tho refused to accept the coveted prize that year.) Or Yasser “now-that-I’m-gone-peace-can-begin-in-Palestine” Arafat, who won the prize in 1994?

Perhaps the US government should ask itself if its actions are more of a problem for peace and prosperity in Burma than those of the repressive regime there.

Maybe Condoleezza “pre-emptive-strike” Rice could learn a lesson from Kissinger about what happens when you try to destabilise the government in a small country – Cyprus, Angola, Timor and of course Cambodia, the greatest American war-crime of the last century.


Nong Khai
See it in context Here.

Now who couldn’t tell that was a forged, planted letter? The petulant 8-year-olds at The Nation, furious at being treated like adults, have answered me.

“Reason? We don’ need no stinkin’ reason! Take you logic and shove it!”

Their non-sequeter is at least equal to the silliness of Reuters.

As I’ve written elsewhere, the Thai people are the most friendly, polite, and patient that I’ve ever encountered. I haven’t met any who disliked Americans. The childish churliness, the hate-filled venom spewed by the misfits at The Nation is so far from the mainstream Thai that I have to wonder if they have been infiltrated by big money from the outside. It has happened in the US. It has happened elsewhere.

That is someone else’s problem. I have seen the futility of arguing with children. I should say I have seen that I am arguing with children.

That is beneath me.