Friday, March 31, 2006


I guess our kids are home for six weeks. I say ‘guess’ because no one here speaks English so it is pretty much of a guess about what the hell is happening. This is the end of the school year, that much is definite.

Our niece, Phai, just passed her entrance exam for middle school. (Yes, that’s right, an entrance exam for middle school.) That’s good news because it means she will be living with us at least another year. She is cool and aloof but it is fun to watch her grow into young lady-hood. I think her family, which lives up-country, wants her to stay with us for the educational advantages.

We took little Kin to an arcade in a department store. So what machines does she play? She goes straight for the puzzle machines. We have most of the same games on a computer at home and in better versions, but that’s what she wants to play. Go figure.

She finally got off them and challenged me to air hockey. (My oldest son, who is now nearing 40, and I once got kicked off of the air hockey machine in Disneyland for playing too intensely and endangering bystanders.) I managed to curb my competiveness when playing Kin. I played ‘nice.’ When I saw she couldn’t handle bank shots, I quit hitting them. I don’t want her to grow up to hate me.

She brought home her report card yesterday. Out of 8 subjects only one was in the 70s. The rest were 80s and 90s. She wants to work on computers for a living. She knows more about them than me right now.

I still go on my walks to the school because that exercise was great for me. The round trip is about a mile and a half. Dow is making the walk with me now. She needs it more than me. We pick up breakfast at an excellent little restaurant near the school and bring it home. I get a fried chicken leg quarter with roasted garlic bits.


AND SISTER Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Shawn Levy, the director, when commenting on Steve Martin’s performance in The Pink Panther said this will be “the culmination of his great career.”

Could he have meant that? I’m not very good at words so I looked it up:
n 1: a final climactic stage; "their achievements stand as a culmination of centuries of development" [syn: apogee] 2: (astronomy) a heavenly body's highest celestial point above an observer's horizon 3: the decisive moment in a novel or play; "the deathbed scene is the climax of the play" [syn: climax] 4: a concluding action [syn: completion, closing, windup, mop up]

Source: WordNet ® 2.0, © 2003 Princeton University

That made me feel good. I found someone worse at words than me.

But the big new is: The Pink Panther finally opened here in Bangkok. All 5 of us went to see it Sunday. There were demonstrations downtown so we went to a theater complex north, towards the airport. All 5 fit into a mini taxi. The trip cost $2 including tip.

We were there for the one o’clock showing. The audience numbered about 80 in a theatre that seated 500. That was the most people at a movie I had attended here. A Thai told me long ago that the people here don’t spend much for recreation. It seems he was right.

After a salute to King and country, the movie began (with Thai sub-titles).

First the bad parts. The pathos interlude was just awful. Pathos might work for some comedies (but rarely), it does not work in a Clouseau movie.

Clouseau was too smart by half or more. It kind of worked here but it tarnishes his image for future movies. Note to movie maker: Think dumb.

The result of this is that these moviemakers broke the Clouseau mold and Clouseau, as we knew him, is finished, done, over. There will never be another true Clouseau movie.

Now for the good parts. It was an excellent movie on its own. I and my whole family enjoyed it. Steve Martin’s accent was excellent. Even my non-English-speaking family, along with the rest of the audience, laughed at his attempts to speak English. (I was concerned about that after his atrocious effort at a New York accent in My Blue Heaven. Even Steven Seagal did a better New York accent in one of his pictures.)

The gags were many and very good. I am not a laugh out loud person but I did so here. I don’t want to spoil the movie for anyone by listing the funniest parts. For me, that is a worse spoiler than divulging the ending.

The clue or lead that solved the case was exquisite. It came from a throw-away gag earlier and caught me completely by surprise. To surprise me in a movie plot is nearly impossible, but here they did the impossible. That one alone was worth the price of admission. I still laugh thinking about it.

According to *Rotten Tomatoes* , 4 out of 5 reviewers hated this movie. That delights me. It says more about reviewers than it does about the movie. As I have said before, reviewers are a humorless lot. Most of them should say, “I am a humorless effete, I must recuse myself from reviewing this film.”

Here is an example from this film: Clouseau goes into a booth he has been assured is soundproof to get off a series of farts. Unfortunately the mike is on and his efforts are broadcast into a studio for all to hear. The Thai audience (and I) thought this was hilarious. The effete reviewer would have to pretend to be offended by this “fart humor.”

But it was funny! This bit will be laughed at all over the world, except in pre-release showings for reviewers where the critics would stare at each other in disbelief and bring perfumed hankies from their sleeves to their noses.

I am delighted that this film has taken in more than 80 million dollars in the US. It may mean a new series of Pink Panther movies.

Let me sum up by saying, “More, more, more.”


This is mostly for my American readers to whom these “letters” are not accessible. The beauty of all this is that these comedy columns all already written by the editors of The Nation here in Bangkok. Thanks to them.

Here are some headers in the “Letters to the Editors” section of today’s issue of *The Nation*:

Thaksin’s track record of deceit means that we cannot trust anything he says.
Signed Outraged Taxpayer

A productive citizen pulled into the political melee.
(The body of this letter described a “cheap trick” by Thaksin.)
Signed Abee

How can intelligent people swallow such blatant tripe?
Signed Brahmburgers

Rural people hate corruption but have no other choice
Signed Mymechew

It is time for the public to ostracise (sic) the wrongdoers.
Signed A Well Wisher

Time for criminal action against political crimes.
Signed Noppadon

I wonder how many of these “letters” were written by the editors themselves. Was there anything to balance these? The only other letter today was a complaint about selling Thai assets to foreigners which is another complaint against Thaksin.

If there had been another letter it would have been to praise themselves for being “unbiased.”


Sunday, March 26, 2006



This is why I could never be a good reviewer. It is so hard for me to understand my own misgivings about a work in a short time. When I reviewed King Kong (in the archives Dec. 2005) immediately after seeing it, I mentioned many things that didn’t ring true to the original story, several things that made me uncomfortable. What I didn’t do is summarize.

This should have been at the end of that review:

At the end of the movie Peter Jackson had reversed the roles of the girl and the great ape. The damsel came lusting after the ape. The damsel in distress had become the damsel in heat. That did not work.

Peter Jackson should know that you don’t mess with mythology. What has worked for thousands of years cannot be trifled with. The randy beast and the innocent maiden are the things of dreams.

Based on this effort, I doubt if Peter Jackson will ever be known as a woman’s director.

Based on this effort you can see why I can never be a good reviewer. I had to muse on this for months before I could understand my feelings and put them into words.



(Pre-correction: In looking for a picture I discover that this “guy” I’m writing about here has the name of Judith Chalmers. Well that changes everything…NOT.)

Many used to laugh at Sam Goldwyn. His malapropos exceed even those of Yogi Berra. There was a story that he took months to read a children’s book.

And yet Sam Goldwyn was a genuine Hollywood genius. He was the sole owner of a small studio. He seldom had more than one picture in production at a time. Many years he only brought out one film. He never had a film that fizzled at the box office, which was a good thing because it was his own money that had made it. A couple of fizzles and he would have been through.

He was good at finding talent. He found a Jewish comedian playing in the Catskills who looked promising. He brought Danny Kaye to Hollywood for screen tests which he showed to audiences for their reaction. The reaction was mixed, not a good sign.

Goldwyn didn’t give up. He tried some different things. Finally, he had Kaye’s hair died blonde. Bingo! The audience loved him. Danny Kaye starred in a series of big hits for Sam Goldwyn. Sam Goldwyn knew show business.

Here in Bangkok in 2006 we are being shown trailers on TV for a TV show that is on every week. The name of this series is Lost. The featured person in these trailers is one of the most unattractive people I have ever seen. It is a terminally gross fat man. (Hey, as Joan Rivers might say, don’t blame me, I didn’t hold him down and stuff cheeseburgers in his mouth.)

My first thought was: ‘People are missing? X-ray this guy’s belly.’

What the hell could they be thinking of, featuring this guy on a trailer? What the hell could they be thinking of even putting this guy in the cast? Is it some sort of political correct message they are sending? As Sam Goldwyn has said, “You want to send a message, use Western Union.”

Maybe they are trying to capture the terminally gross people audience. Good move. There may be a lot of them according to recent Gallup surveys. But the thought occurs to me, do we really want to see people like us? Is that show business? Doesn’t the mirror do that?

I never have and never will watch this show. Seeing this guy on the trailers depresses me. I anticipate him falling down and dying any minute. Why should I watch something that will depress me?

If I want to be depressed I can look at myself in a full length mirror with my clothes on. I can’t do it with my clothes off.

Saturday, March 25, 2006



Here is the March 26, headline in The Bangkok Post:

And in The Sunday Nation:


Tell me these newspapers don’t get their marching orders. I guess they can’t help it. If they want to keep their jobs, that’s what they gotta do. Too bad.

They are giving up on a system that democratically elects a Prime Minister. But they are only doing that because they cannot win a fair election and they know it. So their answer is to end democracy.

Would they want the same thing if they could win an election? Not a chance.

As I have written before, I am a foreigner here and I don’t have a dog in this fight. But I hate to see the destabilizing effects of all these protests. PM Thaksin was legally elected in a landslide. They are trying to depose him and perhaps overthrow the government by other than legal means.


Friday, March 24, 2006


On March 21st a much revered Braham statue was destroyed by a mentally deranged man. The man was beaten to death by a crowd.

On the 22nd Sondhi Limthongkul, the head of the opposition trying to depose PM Thaksin, charged that the destruction of the statue was a plot by Thaksin who sought to maintain power through black magic. He offered no evidence of this. He may have just been running it up the flagpole to see if anyone saluted.

Of course he would have been laughed at in almost every country in the world. He would be especially ridiculed by journalists whom, as we all know, have the highest ethical standards of all the professions. Right?

Not so fast foreigner. This is Thailand. The two English language newspapers nearly broke their arms saluting. Both The Bangkok Post and The Nation immediately ran editorials supporting the black magic wackiness. Ethical standards mean nothing to them.

A few days ago there was a letter to the editor in The Nation which praised their unbiased reporting and editorials. There is little doubt in my mind that this “letter” was written by themselves. Nothing is beneath them.

Then this is the beginning of a Nation editorial on March 23rd:

He means “yes” when he says no. When he says: “Trust me, I am telling you the truth,” that’s when you should reach for a lie detector.

And like the late Richard Nixon declaring: “I am not a crook” during the height of the Watergate scandal, he was in fact switching on the red light, warning of the opposite.

Thaksin Shinawatra has put forth so much falsehood to the public and produced such and incredible amount of deception that he has begun to believe his own lies.

I would link you to all this stuff but the link disappears quickly. Here is *The Bangkok Post* for today.


Thursday, March 23, 2006


Here is another “The Sky is Falling” story from Reuters. (Thanks to Drudge who found it.) Another clown pseudo scientist doing a pseudo scientific evaluation. This Jonathan Overpeck gets his 15 seconds of attention.

Here’s how the article opens:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Miami would be a memory, Bangkok a soggy shadow of its former self and the Maldive Islands would vanish if melting polar ice keeps fueling a faster-than-expected rise in sea levels, scientists reported on Thursday.
In an issue of the journal Science focusing on global warming, climate scientist Jonathan Overpeck of the University of Arizona reported that if global trends continue, Earth could ultimately see sea levels 20 feet higher than they are now.

(Read the complete article *here*.)

Of course this is complete nonsense. If global warming is happening (which is in dispute), it will take more than 100 years to melt all the world’s ice caps. The result of that deluge of liquid will raise the ocean levels about 2 inches (5 cm.). Pretty scary, huh? Of course this Overpeck chap has nothing to fear in issuing this BS. In 50 years he and his prediction will be completely forgotten. No one will know what an idiot he had been. In the meantime look at this: he got his name in the paper!

Announcements like this (and there are many of them) do the environmental movements a great disservice. The entire movement gets stamped as being flaky.

And how about these news services that jump all over these stories with their collective mouth watering? Why don’t they make at least a little effort to balance the story with an opposing point of view? I’ll tell you why. An impending disaster is news. It is not news when someone says that tomorrow will be pretty much like today.

That is why blogs and the internet are becoming more and more important to people who want to know what is really going on in the world.


Saturday, March 18, 2006


Many movies have a message. In that category is The Stepfather. The message here is if your family doesn’t live up to your expectations, kill them off and find a new family. This is a deep probe of the American psyche and it strikes a chord. Not a chord that is ever acted on but one that is there and is felt.

I can identify with this having raised one family and come to Thailand to be a stepfather in another. (No I didn’t kill anyone in my first family.)

My new family recently pissed me off so I went to downtown Bangkok and stayed in a hotel for a few days. From their point of view, that must have been close to killing them. (At least judging by their behavior.)

I had several reasons for getting out of there.

I had recently gotten over a bad cold that confined me and the surroundings had gotten stale. I not only couldn’t write anything, I had an aversion to even thinking about writing. But I can always write in strange bars and cat-houses. They stimulate me mentally. The ladies think I’m a little odd for some reason.

Another reason was I had to learn more about Bangkok night-life. I had lived in Bangkok nearly two years and had never been downtown after 8 PM. I am a homebody.

So I found a place near the action. It was near Sukhumvit and the subway. The hotel was adequate, perhaps halfway between 2nd rate and 3rd rate. Sometime I must compare travel in Thailand with travel in Mexico. The point will be that there is no comparison because Thailand is so superior. I’ve got to investigate the real low class hotels here.

Highlights of my brief escape:

I was near a Subway sandwich place. Sometimes I get a craving for an Italian sandwich with everything on it, dripping in olive oil. (Many years ago on one of my infrequent visits to Teheran I discovered a shop in which I could buy Italian hard salami, French rolls and mustard. This was a great luxury to me. I think the proprietor was mocking the hunger in my eyes. Little things can mean a lot.)

There was a British pub type place near my Bangkok hotel. I could get and excellent steak and kidney pie for breakfast. I had a beer with it. I always have beer with breakfast while on vacation. It pissed me off that the beer cost as much as the steak and kidney pie.

I got so bored I bought a couple of paperbacks, one by John Grisham and one by Robert Ludlum. I finished the Grisham in a day. His writing flows. I may never finish the Ludlum. How the hell did he become a bestselling author? His dialogue is awful. What a struggle to plow through that. I wonder if he’s doing outlines and assigning assistants to fill in the writing.

I sampled the nightlife. I had never seen so many beautiful, virtually naked women in my life. It overwhelmed my senses.

In this one place the stage ran down the center of the establishment. There were ten ladies on the stage dancing around ten poles. They were supposed to be dancing. Rock music was playing but the ladies were just shuffling their feet to the music. That’s not dancing.

I decided, as a public service, to show them how to dance. I asked if any of them wanted to really dance. I had no takers. Finally one little girl who was on a break volunteered. While we danced all other activity stopped. Into the dance my partner raised her shirt to expose her tiny breasts. I raised my shirt to expose my large pot belly.

When we finished we got a round of applause. “Now,” I told them, “go thou and do likewise.” Did they? No. They just continued with their desultory shuffle.

Mama-san was pleased at the demonstration. She gave me a radiant smile. I thought she might hire me as a dance instructor. But no. A smile was all I got. Artists are always underappreciated and underpaid.

I was so bored I wanted to go home after two days. But two days wouldn’t be enough to teach my miscreant family the lesson they deserved.

I stretched it out to three. But then I caved in a bought presents for everyone. They were all grateful for my return as if they thought it might not happen. Their behavior was much improved so I guess their near-death experience was effective.

And my juices started flowing so I could start writing again.

The Stepfather rules.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

A THAI LADY Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


This stuff upsets me. Thailand is starting to look like a third class, third world country. It deserves better than that. I think this whole crisis is nothing but a pissing contest between two very rich men both of whom have extensive control of media outlets.

It’s too bad when individuals put their egos above their country.

The two English language papers, in the pay of the forces trying to overthrow the government, are questioning whether democracy is the best thing for Thailand. They do this because they know they cannot win a fair election.

These papers also point out that the opposition to Prime Minister Thaksin is centered in Bangkok. If the election were limited to Bangkok, Thaksin would be easily defeated. For this reason they discount his support in the outlying provinces as if those votes did not count as much as those of the city dwellers.

The fact is that Thaksin won the last election big.

He will also win the next election.

The opposition has as much as said that they will not accept the result of the election.

The opposition will boycott the election because they know they will lose. That is
their effort to make the election look illegitimate.

The only real hope for the opposition is to overthrow the government.

I don’t think that will happen.

The King is now interceding in the person of the President of the Privy Council. He is calling on the two parties to talk, something the opposition had refused to do. The King is greatly respected. When he speaks, everyone listens. The parties will now talk.

According to the papers, business here is suffering. The local currency however, remains quite strong.

It’s all very sad.

Thailand is looking like a third class, third world country.



I had no idea how therapeutic writing would be. My first efforts, many years ago, were pure therapy. That product will never appear anywhere. It was crappy writing but great therapy. Wow, did I get even with mean girlfriends.

My first class in creative writing (and many others after) was in a community college. I enjoyed taking those classes. Since I wasn’t after credit or a grade I could take them over and over. It stimulated me to know the audience I was writing for. (Okay, for which I was writing. That sounds better to me too.)

My first instructor was brilliant. She knew nothing about me but she took one look at my first writing effort and said, “You are not doing an engineering progress report now.”

Wow. Did she nail it. I still find some of that form creeping into my style. The best (or worst) example of that is in my story, The Soc Trang Tigers, which I wrote long ago and changed little before posting here. (That is in Best Of or look at May 8, 2005.)

There were some housewives in some of my early classes. One sticks out in my mind. We were given the assignment to evaluate our lives. I saw this lady’s face light up. At the next class she brought in a sizable report. She had, she explained, written six chapters. Instead of numbering them, she had given each chapter a letter. The letters were M, O, T, H, E, and R. When she saw the incredulous look on my face she explained to me, “That spells mother.”

“Oh.” I nodded as if that made it clear to me. She had written a paean to her triumph as a mother.

That didn’t end it for her. At a later class she announced she had forgotten some of her virtues and had written five more pages.

There was a lady who needed no therapy. She was completely comfortable with who she was. Or was she? After all it was a creative writing class. Perhaps she was the most creative one there.

I would write such negative stuff about myself that no one would sit near me. I once wrote a story in the first person about being a paid killer. One lady would never be assured that I was not a killer.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Our niece, Phai, in a 7-11. Posted by Picasa


Am I starting to be sickly? Maybe. I’ve had a queasy stomach for two days.

Now I get a little sick and it throws off my zest for writing. When I don’t write I feel guilty. Why? It’s not like it’s a dumb job. It’s not like anyone reads this crap.

But when the zest is there, it’s fun to write. Some of this stuff is pretty good even if no one reads it. That short story (A Stranger Comes) posted a few days ago might be one of the best ever written by anyone. That’s my opinion but I might be a little prejudiced. (Naw.)

I’ve got a lot of stuff partially written or worked out in my mind. Here are some:

Updates on the Bangkok papers in this crisis.

Writing as Therapy

My version of The Stepfather.

Alcoholics Anonymous screws up marriages.

The Stunt Man movie review.

When I was doing my Stepfather act I bought some tranquilizers downtown. Many drugs that require prescriptions in the States are sold over the counter here. These were tiny pink pills. I recognized what the druggist told me they were but the name has slipped my mind. As small as they were, they still came with a crease in the middle so they could be easily split. The price was the equivalent of 25 cents US for each. I bought twenty of them.

The next time I got a queasy stomach I took one of the pills to help me sleep. Now I never take pills. In my life I may have taken 100 aspirins. That little pink pill knocked me out. I slept until past 5:30 in the morning. That’s the latest I have slept in years. (I’m usually up at 3 AM. Don’t ask.)

Our live-in niece, Phai, was so bothered by insomnia she was in tears. I gave her half of one of those little pink mothers. Wham! She was knocked out right away and all smiles the next morning.

I took another last night because of my stomach problem. I was wise enough to take it in the early evening so I woke up at my regular time.

That is a powerful drug to be used with care. I still have 17 left.

For those of you reading this at check out and vice versa. Interesting pictures will soon be posted on that latter site. Interesting pictures are already on the former site.

Friday, March 10, 2006


I was afraid this was going to happen. I mentioned it a few posts back. CNN did an extensive report of the political problems in Thailand this morning. What do you know? They gave a heavily biased, anti-government report.

I can understand their being anti-American internationally. That makes them an easier sell to the anti-American governments around the world. As the head of the news organization has testified, they sometimes have to slant or censor their news to gain or maintain access in countries hostile to the US. That is just good business.

I can understand their being anti-administration in the United States. They were established by Ted Turner from the beginning to be a propaganda voice of the Democratic Party. That is their reason for existence.

But why would they be anti-government here in Thailand? They have no dog in this fight.

I’ll tell you why.

It is lazy reporting. It is bad reporting.

It is lazy because they use as their main source the English language newspapers here in Bangkok. These papers are out for the overthrow of the government. They are in the pay of the people who oppose the current government.

CNN obviously believes what is written. “It must be true, it’s in the paper.”

That network has been so buried in shit itself that it has no outside shit detectors.

It is bad reporting because it makes no effort at balance. Why would a news organization reporting news story not try to report both sides? Because it is CNN? Have they become so accustomed so slanting news over the years that they have lost the ability to do straight reporting?

I have lived here for 2 years and I cannot testify to the right or wrong in the current turmoil. I can testify, and have shown that the English language newspapers are nothing but propaganda rags for the people who are trying to overthrow the government. That evidence is clear.

But CNN could never see it.

Thursday, March 09, 2006


CNN, the unbiased international news service, has just assigned Richard Quest to a new investigative project. This was a surprise to me. I was sure he had been fired after his abject failure more than a year ago.

If he is not seen in the American version of CNN (the unbiased international news service) let me describe him to you. The Monte Python group has an extensive routine about English twits. Richard Quest is a perfect example of an English twit. If you looked up twit in the dictionary, you would find his picture. People call him, That Twit Richard Quest as if it were all his proper name.

Anyway, a year and a half ago, CNN (the unbiased international news service) sent this Richard Quest to America to report on the upcoming presidential election. He went to many states to find how people were going to vote and why.

His findings surprised me. According to his interviews, the people he put on the screen, 3 out of 4 were going to vote for Kerry. Not only that, the time allotted to Kerry voters to tell why they were for him, was 5 times that given to those voting for Bush.

I thought that was reasonable at the time. If it was going to be a Kerry landslide, as Richard Quest was reporting, I wanted to know why. His reports sometimes sounded like a Kerry commercial but that was OK. He was in the process of scooping all the other networks and was explaining why it was happening.

CNN (the unbiased international news service), according to their investigative reporter, had the scoop of the decade.

Then the election came.

I felt kind of sorry for the guy. Sure he was a twit, but he had been totally disgraced and he had disgraced CNN (the unbiased international news service).

I assumed he had been fired. How could an investigative reporter be so wrong and still keep his job? He had failed completely.

And now CNN (the unbiased international news service) is giving him a new investigative reporter assignment.

What happened? I’d sure like to know the back story there. Quest had not only got the presidential election entirely wrong, he made it look like CNN (the unbiased international news service) was actually endorsing Kerry.

Well, looking back, that’s the way it appears with all that 5 to 1 camera time.

This is one I’ll never figure out because I know that CNN in an unbiased international news service.


A few months ago I instituted the doling out of allowances to the kids in our household. To our little eight-year-old, Kin, I gave 100 baht ($2.50). To 12-year-old Phai I gave 300 baht ($7.50). To our boy, 14-year-old Bir, I gave 600 baht ($15).

You should have seen the looks of delight on their faces. I hoped they would be pleased but that exceeded my hopes. It has been the same every Saturday. Their happiness in receiving the money hasn’t diminished a bit. And there hasn’t been the slightest question about the difference in the amounts.

There was an immediate payoff. The first time they got their allowances, the two older kids went off to see a movie. It was only the second movie Phai had seen in her life.

So now I look forward to each coming Saturday. The $20 I give them gives me as much enjoyment as any money I have ever spent.

I mentioned what I was doing to a Thai friend. He stared at me in surprise. I guess the concept is not very common here. Well it ought to be.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


I was shocked when the Academy Award Show mentioned that both Tony Franciosa and Sandra Dee died during the year. They co-starred in one of my favorite movies, A Man Could Get Killed.

How the hell could they be dead? They seemed like kids to me. I guess you live long enough most people start to seem like kids. But these were special to me. They gave me pleasure with their performances in an excellent movie.

Franciosa especially. I became a fan of his for life. He played a native street hustler/smuggler in Lisbon. His accent sounded believable to me. But then Sandra Dee came along.

Wait a minute.

Let’s start at the beginning.

James Garner and Melina Mercouri starred in this comedy/action-adventure. (According to an English website Robert Coote starred. Tell them to take their cooties and go home.)

Garner plays an American businessman who is mistaken by everybody for a super-secret British agent on the trail of smuggled diamonds. When Coote, supposedly his liaison at the British Embassy meets him at the Lisbon airport, the car intended for him is blown up. No matter how much Garner protests, all of which are accepted as cover for his actual mission, he is then transported into a world of scheming, dangerous, underworld characters.

First among these is the fabulous Melina Mercouri playing the amorous, amoral, ungrieving widow of a recently killed gangster. It is great fun for us to see how much fun she has in this role. She flirts with Garner at the funeral of her husband.

Tony Franciosa, totally charming in his guise as a Portuguese hustler, attaches himself to Garner. Sandra Dee, the archetypical Southern California beach girl appears and exposes Franciosa. They had been connected in America. But Franciosa’s exposition is that he is an American hustler, not Portuguese. Not much change there.

The four of them are then off on a life or death quest to find the smuggled diamonds. It is a fun trip. Garner, straight and proper, is continuously agitated by Mercouri’s delightful lack of morals.

In one memorable scene, the bad guys tell the two of them to strip so they can be searched. While Garner tries to defend her honor, Mercouri eagerly begins to comply. She begins by removing her false eyelashes.

This is a fun romp with charismatic stars and great chemistry between them. Much of the fine background music throughout became the ballad, “Strangers in the Night.”

See it if you get a chance.

And say goodbye to Sandra Dee and Tony Franciosa.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


A family friend loaned us a tape of Brokeback Mountain the other day. This is Thailand so sometimes “pre-production” stuff gets out. Last week the same friend loaned us Narnia. It was in English but the sub-titles were either Chinese or Japanese. Definitely not Thai.

I watched Narnia. I didn’t watch Brokeback Mountain. No I’m not a homophobe. It’s just that I had no interest in the subject matter.

There are lots of movies like that. I am a big baseball fan but I had no interest in seeing Field of Dreams. The concept of that movie was just too wacky for me.

On some movies the titles turn me off. Dying Young and Seven Heads in a Duffel Bag and Passion of the Christ come to mind. Cocoon I thought would be wacky and depressing. Love Story is another I would never see if it were up to me alone. No, I am not a heterophobe (is that a word?).

Now there is a brew-ha-ha from a certain Hollywood element because Brokeback didn’t win best picture. They claim (gasp) homophobia. Get over it all you guys and gals and you-know-whats. Some people are just not interested in that subject matter no matter how good the picture might be.

Nothing personal.

Monday, March 06, 2006


Things bug me for a long time. Things that other people might consider trivial. I can’t help it. They stick in my mind.

I suppose it is an insight into my psyche that these are almost always negative things.

I can’t help it. But this blog is great therapy. I can get rid of all this negativity right here.

What’s that? I’m passing it all onto you? Now you get all my negative thoughts? Tough shit! Get a blog of your own. Pass it on to the next schmuck. Don’t come crying to me.

Anyway, I was watching this late-night show several years ago. The host shall remain nameless (Craig Kilborn). He said perhaps the dumbest thing I have ever heard. He said, “Asian women have no asses.”

I must have stared at the TV open-mouthed. That remark is so outrageous where do you begin to respond?

Forget that it is racist. If it were true, that wouldn’t matter to me. But it isn’t even close to being true. It was worst than racist, it was ignorant. Since he opened this can of worms, I shall testify.

There is no science involved in this. All is in the eye of the beholder. But I, as an observer of women’s attributes for many years, in many parts of the world, shall make a personal judgment.

Considering only nubile women there can be no question that blacks are best blessed in back. I previously wrote that my woman “would have an average ass for a black woman, but on a Thai, it is extraordinary,” (or words to that effect).

On the opposite end of the scale, the farther north you get, the flatter the ass. Nordic women, possibly relatives of the unnamed host (Craig Kilborn), have the flattest asses. This may have some relation to climate.

Thai women? In proportion they seemed to be especially endowed with derriere development. Thin women have more than their fair share. Older women retain their shape. That is unlike many races in which endowment in youth becomes a weighty problem in later life.

That is just my opinion which I would have kept to myself were it not for that loud-mouthed TV host who shall remain nameless (Craig Kilborn).


The newspapers here give me endless material.

Have I mentioned that the only two English language papers are nothing but propaganda organs for the forces trying to unseat the government?

I probably have.

There was a rally here in Bangkok last Friday in support of Prime Minister Thaksin. At the rally PM Thaksin made several promises in an effort to mollify and compromise with his critics.

So what was the banner front page headline in the Saturday Bangkok Post?

There’s fairness in reporting for you..

The anti-government rally earlier was estimated to have drawn 40,000 people. The organizers of the pro-Thaksin rally claimed their crowd to be 200,000 people.

Conservative estimates put the crowd at 120,000.

Here is how The Nation, the other English language paper explains why the Thaksin crowd was so large:

50,000 were urban poor and people brought in from greater Bangkok.

50,000 were from 6 provinces outside Bangkok.

10,000 were Bangkok motorcycle taxi-drivers.

Only several hundred were “Thaksin fans.”
Therefore, in their reasoning, out of a crowd of 120,000, only several hundred were legitimate Thaksin supporters.

I’m not making this up. I would link to it but the links have already disappeared..

Oh yeah, that last was not on the editorial page. That was reported as news.

I’m afraid wire services might pick up this BS and start reporting it as real news. They’ve done a little bit of that already.

Thursday, March 02, 2006



“Bangkok update” is a misnomer. This is really only a newspaper update because all I know is what I read in the papers. And sometimes what I don’t read in the papers.

Today in The Bangkok Post there is a quote, in large black letters, above the fold on page one, linking Prime Minister Thaksin to Hitler. I was wondering how long it would take for that to happen. A few days ago they published a letter linking him to Richard Nixon. They were working their way up (or down).

As I wrote before, I am a foreigner here and do not know what all is going on. The press (what I can read) seems so biased and dishonest, it gives me the distinct impression that they are the bad guys. I have the impression that they want to destabilize the government by any sleazy means they can think of.

I have been told that there is a case against the Prime Minister. But the big one, the charge being trumpeted in the press, is tax avoidance. Tax avoidance is perfectly legal everywhere in the world. Next case. If they have a legitimate gripe, why do they have to be so dishonest?

How about the other English language paper, The Nation? It’s pretty much twiddle dee and twiddle dum. They have a silly editorial today excoriating PM Thaksin for going ahead with elections when the major opposition refuses to participate. Excuse me. Shouldn’t they be getting on the case of the clowns who have taken their marbles and gone home? They write that the new government will be “lacking the legitimacy to rule.” Why? Because the other guys didn’t want to play and get their asses whipped?

In their letters to the editor there is nothing favorable to the current regime. Here is the header on one:

Forget about corruption, the man is just plain crazy!

Does this give the impression of an honest editorial page?

I know more about the English language newspapers than I do about the administration of Thaksin. His administration couldn’t be more corrupt that the papers. Could it?

All I want for Thailand is peace and stability.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


It would all be funny if it weren’t so serious.

The anti-government propaganda machine known as The Bangkok Post, which poses as a newspaper, has come out against a pro-government rally. This after praising, encouraging, advertising and publicizing each and every anti-government demonstration.

Here is a quote from their lead editorial:

Mr (Prime Minister) Thaksin’s decision to rally not only further hammers down confidence, it is divisive, confrontational and could lead to disastrous results.

(I would link to this but the links disappear very quickly.)

So I guess they are implying that the demonstrations they helped organize against the government were the opposite of those things.

The editors are not stupid, they are just childlike. They think their readers are stupid.

Have you ever seen such disrespect toward readers?

The local currency strengthened even more today. The exchange rate, for me, is as bad as I have ever seen it.


I have been blessed, or given, or born with, or have developed or acquired, or earned (choose one or several) assets in life. I must say, chief among these, was a facility for trigonometry. That was what paid the bills.

I think luck has a lot to do with it. These assets are thrown out willy-nilly, like confetti, at birth and, if you get one, lucky you. More than one piece of confetti landed on me. Lucky me.

I don’t think heredity explains it all. No one in my family ever showed ability in math. I come from a long line of janitors-laborers. That puts me into the freakish category.

But when you come from the bottom of the working class and you’re given gifts far beyond what normal expectations should be, there must be drawbacks. There must be some kind of evening up.

I can hear The Giver of Gifts, “Okay, you can excel in this and this and this but, to make up for it, you’re going to be dismal in this and this and this.”

And that’s what happened.

In some very necessary elements of life, the confetti missed me entirely. I won’t enumerate, but that partially explains my being expelled from school exactly on the day they could legally do it.

One of my areas of dismal gifts is vocabulary. No matter how hard I worked on it I could never bring it up to adequacy. I’m like Fredo, the older brother in the Corlione family. I’m smart. I’m not dumb like everyone says. I just don’t have the words to show how smart I am.

I’m like a capped volcano. All these great ideas and emotions and stories are trapped inside me trying to get out.

(Wouldn’t that be more like constipation?)

I would be great writer if I were good with words.

(And I would be a great bird if I could fly.)

Don’t mock me! You don’t feel my pain!

(I feel your pain. It’s in my ass.)

I came up with the perfect solution. Who has the largest vocabulary in America?

(Dennis Rodman?)

William F. Buckley, that’s who. His vocabulary is so big that half of it is useless because it contains words no one else is familiar with.

(People who compile dictionaries follow him around in case he says a word they can add to their next edition.)

But he’s kind of cold-blooded.


Some see him that way.


That’s enough.

I should write with him. We’d make a great team. I have all the feelings and he has all the words.

(How would that work? Even if he could read your mind, there’d be nothing there.)

I’d act it out. He’d have hundreds of descriptions for everything I did. Half of them, no one could understand.

(And half of the rest, you couldn’t understand.)

No, no. I would know what I’m looking for. I’m like that Supreme Court Judge who said, “I know it when I see it.”

(He was talking about pornography.)

So what? I’m talking about words. I know words when I see them. I’m smart. I’m not dumb like everyone says. I’ll know the right words when I see them.

We’d make a great team.

Buckley and Guest.

All I need are the right words.

Then I’d be a great writer.

Won’t I?

(Sure you will.)