Monday, July 31, 2006

THAI LADY - 2 Posted by Picasa


The last time I talked to Billy Shannon he told me Gus Moran died of a drug overdose. And then Dick Martin, who had been his roommate, blew his brains out.

These were all teenage friends of mine who lived around San Bruno Ave. in San Francisco. The latter two were still hanging around our teenage haunts.

It has left me wondering what life is all about. Many guys I knew had their life pattern fixed in junior high school. What they were then was what they were for all their lives. Is that what’s supposed to happen? You get comfortable in a box at an early age and never leave it? Evidently many do.

Gus Moran was a charismatic little guy who desperately wanted to be macho man. He was full of life and smart-ass wisecracks and was fun to be around. He would make instant judgments on what was funny or weird or bad with such emphasis that his opinion was hard to argue with. In fact it was usually right.

He decided, during the Korean conflict, to join the Marines. This was a mistake. What would a little smart-ass wisecracker be doing in the Marines? He got kicked out during basic training. The Marines recovered but he never did. Someone told me he started drinking heavily after that.

I don’t know.

Is that what life is all about?

Some go one way and some go another?

And some never leave the old neighborhood.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

HILLARY CLINTON Posted by Picasa


This is one of the funniest things you’ll ever read about dating. The poor lady goes out on a date and winds up with a legal problem.

Check *this* out.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

THAI LADY Posted by Picasa

Monday, July 10, 2006


What a fiasco that was. The greatest sports event on the planet? There’s no doubt of its popularity. There were at least eight TV stations here in Bangkok broadcasting it simultaneously. The problem here was the game started at 1 AM Bangkok time. I woke up at half time and watched the second half.

I know very little about soccer and seldom watch it but here is my take. I was surprised at how fast some portions of the game were played. I could sense the intensity. Attacks were developed quickly and repulsed just as fast.

As an aside, they need to have more than one referee in soccer. That poor guy had to run farther than the players. The need for the referee to be such an athlete means that older, more experienced men, men who might have better judgment, are excluded from doing it. I suggest they have two referees like the NBA or even three. Probably three would be ideal. They have linesmen on each sideline, but that’s not the same.

Speaking of sidelines, I was amused how casually they are treated. Evidently the actual line is just a suggestion. “Play should not be extended much beyond here,” is what the sign should read. I saw the ball and players cross the line during the game but the play went right on.

Back to the game. It was already 1-1 when I started watching at the beginning of the second half. All the scoring was over. But to my inexperienced eyes, the French dominated the game. The Italians led in ball possession about 55% to 45% but that was because they brought the ball up so slowly. They seemed reluctant to attack. The French, on the other hand, attacked as soon as they had possession. Nevertheless, the game ended in a 1-1 tie after two hours of play. What a surprise.

So the final for the world soccer (football) championship was left to penalty kicks. The ball is placed 12 yards in front of the goal. Each side has five tries to get it past the goaltender. It looked to me that each kick had a better than 90% chance of scoring. The goalie takes a guess and dives to one side or the other, but there are some areas of the goal that he gives up entirely because he always dives low.

Of course this is a silly way to decide the winner of a game, let alone the championship of the world. I wrote about this a year an a half ago *here* (scroll down) in my article Solving Soccer. Here is an excerpt:

The real problem with soccer is that attacks on goal rarely result in a goal. One of the reasons for this is the defenders, when the attack becomes intense, can kick the ball over their own back line with no penalty except giving up a corner kick. So a superior team can spend all their time in front of the opponent’s goal and come away with nothing more than a tie.

There's a simple solution. It will eliminate scoreless ties and virtually all ties. Raise the points for a goal to ten and give one point every time an opponent is last to touch a ball that goes over its own back line. The corner kick will still be rewarded.

With those rules a typical 1-1 tie game would wind up something like 17-15. Defensive and offensive strategies would become far more complex and the game would become far more interesting.

It’s a coincidence that my example describes the World Cup final exactly. Using those scoring rules, France would have won 17 to 15. And France deserved to win.

But the fiasco continued. Near the end of the match, a French player head-butted an opponent without physical provocation. This was the most violent act I can recall seeing in sports. That it came in the world championship game magnified the awful deed. I am thinking the player will be banned for life, stripped of all previous awards, and live the rest of his life in disgrace.

Wrong! The player, Zinedine Zidane, won the Adidas Golden Ball voted for by journalists as the best player in the tournament.

Evidently the soccer reporters have become so inured to carnage they can ignore criminal violence. No wonder they have so much trouble with fans.

WILD LADY Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 07, 2006


Just a reminder: My novel, General Trinh is Delivering Papers, is posted on the Best Of over on the left. For those of you in the Google blog, you must go to I cannot control the archives in the Google blog.

I’m working on my next novel which is a mystery.

Am I the first to say this?

With enemies like Howard Dean you don’t need friends.

I love that. I hope I’m the first to say it but I may have heard it somewhere else, not necessarily linked to Howard Dean.

Here in Bangkok I’m out of touch with a lot of things. I seem to be way out of touch with Hollywood. For instance: Ben Stiller may an A-list actor, but I wouldn’t change places with him. He seems creepy to me.

And Drew Barrymore is a Hollywood beauty? She couldn’t get a job in a bar here in Bangkok.


They put a new sign on a metal post near my house. I pass it every morning walking my kids to school. It sticks out four inches from the post at the height of my hat brim. It took me five days for me to adjust to the sign so my hat brim didn’t hit it.

We put some new fish into our aquarium. When we first approached the glass the fish swam far away from us. Then they learned that the approach of humans might mean that they get fed so they swam toward us. It took the fish three days to learn that.

The fish learned two days faster than the man.


Monday, July 03, 2006


There is a famous story about a prominent Hollywood studio head who saw one of his writers with his feet up on his desk, gazing out a window.

“Why aren’t you working?” he snapped

“I am working,” the writer replied.

An extreme example of this was the way Rex Stout said he worked. He thought about a future novel at odd times during the day. While he was shaving or being driven or in a waiting room, he’d get the novel set in his head. When he had it done, the rest was just typing.

When I first started writing, the ‘work ethic’ was so ingrained in me I felt if I wasn’t writing, I wasn’t working. The result was I didn’t think enough beforehand.

It took me years to realize how much impact my environment had on my creativity. In some places the walls closed in making me nearly brain dead. In such cases a change of scenery is necessary. Nowadays, the easiest place for me to write is in a Bangkok bar/massage parlor with plenty of ladies roving around.

Writing classes always stimulated me to produce something. Way back, when grades meant something to me, I took College English. During the course I railed against writing ‘in class’ themes as being unfair. The instructor’s position was that writing under pressure was part of real life.

Of course an ‘in class’ theme was part of our final. The subject: Describe the philosophy of Thoreau and what he was doing in Walden.

Easy, huh?

Well actually it was. The whole thing came to me in a flash. This is what I wrote:

Thoreau saw life as a deep rut in a road with no ending and no beginning

In going to Walden he was climbing out of the rut, onto the road. From there, although he still could not see the beginning or the ending, he could see the rut for what it was.

But that doesn’t prove anything. Writing a theme in class is still unfair.

For a long time I had plotting problems. When I tried to plan ahead my mind sort of dulled out. Sometimes, if I had trouble sleeping, I’d start plotting a novel in my head. My brain would go into a coma and sleep came immediately.

Then I audited a creative writing course at UC Irvine. It was taught by a prominent local novelist. I heard many student stories. In every story I saw ways to improve the plot. Some of the improvements I offered were radical and one was literally breathtaking, changing a scary story into a horrifyingly scary story. So I learned I could develop plots in the right circumstances.

The ending is far more important than the beginning. Never start unless you have a strong ending in mind, or unless you plan to do four or five drafts.

My next major effort is a mystery novel. I’ll post it all right here.

THE TWO-HEADED GIRL Posted by Picasa