Bangkok Forever? ... Part VII

Back at the Oriental Hotel

Between Part VI and Part VIII

June 1-7, 2000

Thursday, June 1, 2000

NEWNES must have been rather impressed with Christopher Marlowe; not only does he note the day he was killed (the day before yesterday) but, the day of his burial as well: today.

Others coming in or going out:

NEWNES has nothing else to say about this one:

The HC, less thematic than NEWNES, serves up:

I think that you have to have lived long before Sony and Miramax were Hollywood names to truly appreciate the power of the Hollywood studios in the pre-War years. While 20th Century Fox was destined for a name change at some certain point, RKO could have carried on for centuries with the hardware supporting its logo. In June 1939, The Onion was the first broadsheet to treat RKO's grandiose earth-encirclement plan as a brazen attempt to impose Hollywood hegemony on the entire the world.

ENORMOUS RADIO TOWER PLACED ATOP EARTH
RKO Radio Pictures Could Disrupt Earth's Orbit With Colossal New Logo

TOWER BASE 2. NOME, Alaska - In a promotional scheme criticized by many as overly ambitious and wasteful, RKO Radio Pictures has erected a massive radio-transmitting antenna over a million times larger than any other structure ever built by man.

Rising from the Arctic Circle, the colossal tower is affixed to the Earth by four support pylons mounted in Greenland, northernmost Alaska, the Soviet Union and an artificial island in the Northern Pacific specially constructed for the project. The full height of the structure is estimated at some 170,000 miles, dwarfing New York's Empire State Building, previously the tallest man-made structure at 1,449 feet.

Other Statistics Of The Tower

The weight of the structure is estimated at roughly one-eighth the weight of the Earth itself.

Steel produced by ten nations and comprising over 90 percent of the world's steel resources was used to build the tower. Over 70 percent of the world's existing steel structures had to be destroyed, melted down, and incorporated into its mighty, 200-mile-wide support beams.

Publicity For The Studio

While it is undoubtedly generating publicity for the studio, many astronomers are concerned about the tower's effect on Earth's orbit around the sun. According to David Childs of the University of Delaware, "actually constructing a working radio tower, with such a powerful signal strength that its transmissions are visible as huge lightning bolts soaring through outer space, could compromise the integrity of Earth's position in the solar system."

Since the tower's activation, no one on Earth has been able to tune in to any non-RKO broadcast, regardless of how the tuning dial is adjusted.

There is no word yet on whether the RKO tower will interfere with the flight pattern of Universal Pictures' moon-sized single-engine airplane, which presently circles our Earth in a continuous orbit above the Equator.

As the world marvels at the scope of the tower project, almost as amazing is the installation of tremendous letters spelling out "An RKO Radio Picture," orbiting the Earth so as to appear motionless relative to the tower and the planet Earth.

RKO constructed the tower to promote its latest motion-picture release, "Ranch House Romeo."

The following text (which you can only read if you know the magic words) has been blacked out by the Webmaster:

Click if you know ...

Blackout "liftage" begins here.


Friday, June 2, 2000

Sometimes the Holy Mother Church can't choose between her children; which of two should have the coveted calendaric recognition: Nicholas The Pilgrim or Elmo?

Nicholas the Pilgrim
DIED 1094

A Greek shepherd boy who would sing nothing but the 'Kyrie Eleison' to his sheep. People thought he was mad and shut him up. Discharged from the asylum, he took to the road, carrying a heavy cross, still singing his song, with children trooping after him to swell the chorus.

Erasmus, or Elmo
FOURTH CENTURY

This man's insensibility exasperated the authorities; so a wonderful invention was tried on him: a wheel with a crank on which they unwound and coiled his intestines as sailors do cables. This difficult subject was assigned to two great painters, Poussin and Dirk Bouts; but in September, 1914, the latter's picture in Louvain was destroyed by one of the wonderful inventions of our day.

He is the patron of sailors and relieves diseases of the stomach and children's ailments.

Dear reader, just the other day I reported on the mysterious disappearance in Thailand of a Norwegian. For starters, one of its precious few citizens; and a very rare vanishing, indeed, if you are only checking migratory trails from the Arctic circle to Thailand. Admittedly, this Norwegian woman went missing quite a while back, and it took the Norwegian embassy more than a decade to get around to asking locals if they knew anything about her. But, can there be any connection between the missing (and presumed dead) Ms Guri Hansen and an article that appeared in today's Bangkok Post? Linkage cannot be easily dismissed on this one. Last night the lights burned long over on the 18th floor of the UBC II Building at 591 Sukhumwit 33 Road. Like the Norwegian embassy, Sri Lanka's diplomatic staff keeps offices on Sukhumwit Road. But, unlike at the Norwegian embassy, the lights last night went out precisely at 6pm, closing time. The Apostolic Nunciature at 217 Sathon Tai Road is still not answering the phone.

MINI SUBMERSIBLE SURFACES IN SOUTHERN SHIPYARD
Discovery Sinks Rebel Separatists Intrigue

"Thai authorities have stumbled on a half-built submersible thought to have been ordered for use by the Tamil Tigers at a shipyard in Phuket province."

"Well-informed government sources said yesterday the vessel, which is about 10m long, could accommodate 2-3 people."

"Found at a shipyard on Koh Si-lae, the submersible was of the same type the vessel Sri Lankan government forces seized in Mullaitive City, southeast of Jaffna, sources said."

"The shipyard was partly owned by a Tamil separatist sympathizer. It was possible the guerrillas had ordered the vessel for surprise raids or laying mines."

"The half-built vessel was not impounded. Its being built here was not a violation of Thai law, the sources said. However, the shipyard was now under close watch to prevent the submersible from being removed."

"Parts for the boat were believed to be imported from Norway by Christy Reginald Lawrence, a Jaffna-born Tamil who holds a Norwegian passport."

"Mr. Lawrence was arrested on April 10 in Phuket, one day after marine police seized a 17m speedboat equipped with four powerful engines, each of 200 horse power, anchored at Rassada pier in Muang district."

"Also found on the vessel were food provisions, 5,000 litres of fuel, military uniforms, propaganda material for the Liberation Tamil Tigers of Eelam, sonar and sophisticated communications gear."

"The police raid was part of a crackdown on smuggled oil, and the discovery of the speedboat and Tamil Tigers-related materials was accidental, the sources said."

"Shortly after Mr. Lawrence's arrest on charges of illegal importation of equipment subject to customs clearance, a British woman, Deidre McConnel, claiming to be a representative of Amnesty International, flew in from London to visit him."

"The woman was, in fact, a member of the Tamil Centre for Human Rights in London, the sources said."

"Mr. Lawrence had managed the operation in Phuket for some time, trans-shipping and forwarding military supplies to the Tamil Tigers, they said."

"He also has a stake in the shipyard on Koh Si-lae, the sources said."


Saturday, June 3, 2000

Generally speaking, European wars involved battle sites that are unfamiliar names to most Americans. NEWNES, in his compendium of such places, keeps them forever young, in a way:

HC rather than battling NEWNES on his own chosen turf, moves the skirmish to the margin of the map:

Clotilde
DIED 545

This Burgundian princess converted her husband, who was the first Christian King of the Franks. Having seen lilies in a vision, it was she who had the banner of France adorned with the fleurs de lis instead of three toads.

Twenty-four years ago neighboring Cambodia announced a sea shift in its economy. The Onion was there:

CAMBODIA TO SWITCH TO SKULL-BASED ECONOMY

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - Cambodian dictator Pol Pot announced Saturday that his nation will soon replace the riel, its longtime unit of currency, with the human skull.

"Paper money and metal coins are a waste of our country's precious, limited natural resources," Pot said. "But skulls are plentiful, as the countryside is littered with them."

Pot said the switch to a skull-based economy makes sense for political reasons, as well. "The taint of bourgeois reactionary counterrevolution infects the riel," he said. "But the blinding whiteness of our country's native headbones are the perfect symbol for the radiant new dawn the Khmer Rouge has brought to Cambodia."

The new plan is drawing praise from economists, including Jan Van Duyn, chairman of the International Monetary Fund.

"By establishing a fixed, stable and plentiful transaction marker - in this case, the millions of bare, vulture-picked crania of massacred innocents strewn across the blood-soaked valley lowlands of Cambodia like ossified rivers from the darkest regions of Hell - Pol Pot sends a strong message to overseas investors that Cambodia is open for business," he said.

The skull-based economy will go into effect as soon as the country has any goods or services to offer.

Today's Bangkok Post reveals that Cambodians now have more important things to worry about. Forget the arcane world of monetary units and exchange theory; a place to sleep is what sets tires afire these days.

SQUATTERS LAY SIEGE TO EMBASSY
Mission Blamed For Demolished Houses

Post Reporters - Cambodian protestors threw acid and damaged windows at the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh after two houses adjacent to the mission were demolished yesterday, the Foreign Ministry said.

Don Pramudwiai, the ministry spokesman, said the houses were torn down because they obstructed a path used by residents and straddled embassy property.

He rejected claims by lawyers representing 180 Cambodian families that the Thai government had no right to the embassy property. The Thai government legally purchased the property from Cambodia, he said.

Legal Aid for Cambodia said military police forcibly closed a road and demolished the two homes "against the emotional opposition of residents."

It cited Article 44 of the Cambodian constitution, which states that only Khmer legal entities and citizens of Khmer nationality "shall have the right to own land."

Mr. Don said about 20 people demonstrated from 7am until noon but that they were eventually put down by some 200 Cambodian policemen.

The protesters threw acid to defend themselves and used rubber bands to shoot stones at the embassy building, damaging two glass panes.

The legal aid group said one man was taken away by the human rights organization Licadho "with a lot of blood on his head and face." Other people were bruised, it said.

Mr. Don said Cambodian authorities understood the Thai position even if the residents did not.

Ministry sources said Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai would raise the matter with his Cambodian counterpart, Hun Sen, if it was not settled when he visits on June 14-16.

Residents who were denied access to the road filed a complaint with the Phnom Penh municipal court. A hearing was due Monday, the group said.

The disputed road lies between the embassy buildings and property on which the Japanese government is building a new embassy.


Sunday, June 4, 2000

On balance, a bad day for music:

Battles held their own:

1859: The Battle of Magenta. 1942: The Battle of Midway Island began. 1944: The Allies enter Rome.

At times I wonder if Wescott is just putting us on. If my friend, Buddy Heiss, is reading this, I'd like to hear from him on this. Perhaps out there in the real world there IS something so awful as "the tertiary stages of Caracciolo's disease."

Francis Caracciolo
1563 - 1608

In his youth Francis Caracciolo had a skin-disease so repugnant that life in society was out of the question for him. Deciding to dedicate to God the life obviously blighted by His will, he went into retirement. Whereupon he suddenly recovered, and did things of great consequence, such as founding the Lesser Regular Clerks.

Fruit Carving

Not only is ice carving something that the Oriental does well; fruits and vegetables, too, are subjects of the hotel's sharp knives. Every night at Baan Rim Naam, the restaurant just across the river, a lone girl takes on watermelons and other fruits and gives back elaborately carved versions of the same. Taking up about 30 minutes per fruit to complete, the finished pieces serve no other purpose than decoration. No one eats them.

Three articles in today's Bangkok Post pretty much dominate the day's international news coverage:

CIGAR FOR CLINTON

Berlin - Bill Clinton was apparently not amused when German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder offered him a box of Cuban cigars during an otherwise jovial late-night dinner. Witnesses in a restaurant in east Berlin said the US president stopped laughing when Mr. Schroeder offered him cigars from Cuba. Washington, unlike Germany, still maintains an embargo on trade - including cigars - with communist Cuba. The witnesses said Mr. Clinton, perhaps remembering both protocol and the reports of cigars put to curious uses in the Monica Lewinsky affair, "looked irritated" and then "smiled politely." - Reuters


CRINKLY WRAPPERS CAN'T BE MUFFLED - REPORT

Washington - Those annoying people who unwrap candies in the theatre simply cannot help making noise, researchers said on Friday.

No matter how slowly a piece of wrinkled plastic is unwrapped, it will still emit sounds at a distinct frequency, they told a meeting in Atlanta of the Acoustical Society of America.

Eric Kramer and colleagues at Simon's Rock College of Bard in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, said the reason was the creases in that thin little piece of cellophane. "You can check this for yourself," they said in a paper presented to the meeting. - Reuters


'INVISIBLE CONDOM' IS ON THE WAY

Quebec City, Reuters

Canada will fund clinical trials of an "invisible condom," a liquid applied to the genitals, to prevent HIV infection and other sexually transmitted diseases, Health Minister Allan Rock said yesterday. The Infectious Disease Research Centre at Laval University in Quebec City will receive 9.1 million baht to test the treatment, which has been developed over seven years by Laval.

The new "invisible condom," a non-toxic polymer-based liquid, is applied to a woman's genitals before sexual encounters and transforms into a gel at body temperature.

Laval said test showed the gel forms a waterproof film that dramatically reduces transmission of HIV responsible for Aids, and could also block the virus responsible for genital herpes.

It can also be used as a contraceptive.


Monday, June 5, 2000

Good Grief! What is happening in the music business? At this rate sheet music will go the way of steam. And, NEWNES is pretty unemotional about it:

Coincidentally:

Two terribly important people, not in the music trade, did pass through life's door, in one way or the other, on this date:

Overshadowing mere human lives:

Is it gender related? We have the brothers Montgolfier and we have the brothers Karamazov; we have the Andrews sisters and we have the Lennon sisters. Or, is it music related?

Boniface
DIED 755

Boniface, or Winfried, an English monk, went on a devout mission to the Frisians. It was a failure. Their King Radbod was about to give in to the new religion, but having heard, at the baptismal font, that his unbaptized ancestors were all in hell, refused to go where they were not, however pleasant it might be.

For twenty-two years after that, Boniface was Archbishop of Mainz. He governed all the Germans between the Rhine and Elbe; he cut down the oak tree of the God of Thunder; he built Fulda. But he had set his heart on the salvation of those Frisians, and in his seventies went again; and a barbarian army captured him. By way of a chopping-block, he was allowed to lay his head on the Bible. Some book-collector still has his blood-stained copy of St. Ambrose's 'Advantage of Death'.

Largely hidden by its more powerful neighbors, The Terrace Rim Naam isn't a destination. It only offers dinner and it is subject to the vagaries of the weather. But, its menu is pure Thai and it offers a nice view of The Oriental at sunset. And, my friend Ah works there.


Tuesday, June 6, 2000

Let's go straight to the events! Though a wide assortment of kings, composers, Lords, explorers, theologians and novelists entered or left Earth on June 6th, a far greater number of lesser lives made a much splashier exit on the beaches of Normandy fifty-six years ago.

NEWNES sandwiches this event between two that perhaps only he would list:

Though the ancient events at Normandy are not recalled in today's Bangkok Post, a little known but long lingering tid-bit from World War II has surfaced out of the latest Byzantine troubles in Fiji and the Solomons. For most Americans Fiji is just a remote beach with fetching nymphets. The Solomons, if thought about at all, are linked loosely to insomniatic viewing of the History Channel and late-night A&E documentaries. Guadalcanal produced some of the greatest bayoneting and flame-throwing footage ever filmed, easily eclipsing the boring, spliced-together and repetitive waves of landing craft bobbing about at Omaha Beach.

Anyway, today's South Pacific ethnic strife finds its innocent roots in yesterday's helping hands. When the Americans stormed these then little-known beaches in 1942 they brought along thousands of people from the neighboring island of Malaita to help with porterage. The Malaitians stayed on after the war to form the nucleus of an emerging urban community. The original Guadalcanal residents groused that the newcomers usurped their land, their jobs and their women. Predictably, the battles lines were drawn between competing letter groups of the alphabet; the IFM (Isatabu Freedom Movement), formerly the GRA (Guadalcanal Revolutionary Army), was formed to get rid of the porters who no longer were just being helpful with the luggage. In retaliation, the newcomers formed the MEF (Malaita Eagle Force) to defend their ancient, but ever expanding, guild. As a result, thousands have been killed, have gone missing or have become refugees. Even more worrisome, this internecine bickering has devastated the tourist industry; rupturing conch shell sales and driving motorbike rental operators to ruin.

Eating up the last remaining inches on the front page of the Post:

YANAWARUT'S BREAST OPERATION PROMPTS INFECTION WARNING

"People going to China for breast enlargement run the risk of HIV infection, the Food and Drug Administration warned yesterday."

"Dr. Siriwat Thiptharadol, deputy secretary-general, said there was a high risk of HIV or hepatitis-B infection from cosmetic surgery in which extracts of fresh placenta are used."

"The warning came after Yanwarut Suthavat, a former teen idol, marveled in a local daily newspaper about the results of a breast operation at a clinic in Guangzhou."

"In the interview, the singer said she took a package tour organized by Universal Chaba Group, which included sight-seeing and the breast operation."

"Though the use of placenta extracts is a modern treatment, its effectiveness is not guaranteed, the doctor said."

"Though the results can be observed immediately, there is no scientific guarantee, he said. Such operations cost 150,000 - 300,000 baht (@$3,750 - $7,500) and are said to be effective for 20 - 79 years."

Found buried in the domestic pages of the Post:

CENSOR OPTS FOR DOTS OVER MARKER PEN

Several days ago the Thai Defense Ministry released a "Black May" report that was more notable for its exclusions than for its content. For readers who shy from re-readings: this report was supposed to be the government's last word on the disputed events of May 1992. May of '92 saw counter-Coup d'état middle class people doing battle with anti-counter-Coup d'état government troops. Supporters of the counter-Coup d'état say thousands were killed and an equal number disappeared. The current government says, "Some demonstrators might have been accidentally killed in this incident." Unfortunately, the censor's black marker pen eliminated 60% of the report; the remaining 40% raised more questions than it answered. Later this week a revised version will be released. But, the only revisions will lie in the cosmetics of the report. The censor will use white-out and dots instead of a black marker pen.

"A defense source said the change to white-out and dots was intended to make the readers feel better. 'Black ink makes people feel there is a cover-up. To make readers feel good, the censored parts would be whited out and replaced with dots,' he added."


Norbert
1180 - 1134

A frivolous courtier in his youth, Norbert of Lorraine was so nearly struck by lightning that he changed his way of life. He went about preaching and distributing his wealth, all over Belgium and Northern France; and at last was made Archbishop of Magdeburg.

On one occasion, while celebrating mass, he saw a venomous spider in the wine of the sacrament. To have spilled the blood of Our Lord would have been desperate sacrilege; so he gulped it down, and it did him no harm.

IN OUR PAGES: 100 AND 75 YEARS AGO
[from the International Herald Tribune]
1900: Good Conquest

NEW YORK - The "Tribune," discussing the conquest of the Philippines, says: "It is possible for a nation to be a conquering nation without being a despoiler or oppressor. There is, indeed, such a thing known as the conquest, or overcoming of evil with good. Why not, once in a lifetime, take that into consideration?"

1925: Scientist Dies

PARIS - France and the world have lost one of the most brilliant lights of scientific achievement. Camille Flammarion's name is a synonym of the noble zeal which has characterized all the foremost discoveries in the paths of the intellect, from Galileo and Copernicus, Francis Bacon and Newton, to our time. The New York Herald is proud to recall that during a long series of years he was one of the most valued and eagerly read contributors.

NEWNES does not recognize Flammarion's death, only his birth (1842).

Tonight there was a staff party at the Oriental Hotel, complete with a "lady boy" cabaret show.

Next: Bangkok Forever, Part VIII

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