Bangkok Forever? ... Part IX

Back at the Oriental Hotel

Between Part VIII and Part X

June 14-20, 2000

Wednesday, June 14, 2000 (Bastille Day)

Happy B-Day, Becky!

NEWNES details it:

One year later, to the day:

Other NEWNES nods:

From this morning's Bangkok Post (business section):

FOOD GIANT CLAIMS WORLD FIRST WITH FEED MADE FOR ELEPHANTS
To Be Exported If Demand Is Established

Claiming to be the world's first producer of elephant feed, the Charoen Pokphand group is ready to export the product if there is a demand.

Adirek Sripratak, executive vice-president of Charoen Pokphand Foods Plc, said production of elephant feed was an additional line and not part of the core business.

The company produces many kids of feed - for shrimps, chickens, pigs, ducks, fish and horses - from its 10 plants in Thailand, with a total sales volume of 3.4 million tons.

Research and development for elephant feed started six months ago following a request from an elephant-camp operator.

Yesterday, the first 30 tons of feed, valued at 200,000 baht ($5,000), was donated to the Asian Elephant Foundation of Thailand, which takes care of three elephants.

The feed, in pellet form, consists of rice bran, wheat bran, cassava, soybean meal, hay, corn, rice straw, sugarcane, molasses, limestone and vitamins.

Mr. Adirek said the feed was supplementary and elephants still need to consume food from natural sources.

However, urban growth has caused difficulties for elephants looking for food from natural sources and feed supplements are a choice.

Although the size of the business is not big, there is a potential as there are about 5,000 elephants in Thailand, half of which are officially recorded by the Interior Ministry. Most of them are raised at camps and zoological parks nationwide.

The product, with the Erawan brandname, is produced for two types of elephant, those three years old or more that are confined in zoos, and active elephants used for shows and trekking. A 30-kilogramme bag of E2 and E3 feed is sold at 155 baht and 220 baht (@ $4 and $5). On average, an inactive elephant consumes five to 15 kilogrammes a day, and an active one 20-40 kg.


GOOD GRIEF! OH MY GOD! HOW CAN THIS BE?

King Faisal assassinated! Stabbed? Shot? Blown apart with a grenade? Run through with a lance? Wine laced with strychnine? Crushed glass in his soup? However! It happened way before his time, a full month before. You see I had NEWNES opened to the wrong page. I don't know why. Maybe the breeze ... or just the way the book fell open. Anyway he is now dead and there is no way we can change that. Perhaps now the Shah won't come to power. No. That was over in Iran ... and at a different time. Shit, who knows what will happen. It's a murky part of the world in the best of times.

What else have I done?

Terry-Thomas's mother going into labor a month early. Thirty days added to a life here shouldn't much change things over at Relart Studios, or wherever he worked.

The Pankhurst woman? Who knows.

Louis XVI swearing to maintain the Constitution of France. He is going to look dotty if the Constitution is still in the drafting stage. But it probably won't make much difference, as the monarchy was in a steep taper at this time anyway.

The storming of the Bastille is something else. Everything hinges on July 14th: anthems, school-holiday starts, commemorative coffee mugs, firework scheduling ... there is no correcting this one.

At best, I can go back to June 14th and tidy things up:

Actually, according the NEWNES there is not much that needs tending to. Aside from the 14th being Flag Day (USA only), most of the births and deaths could have been given a pass. Some events would have been missed; others, not.

Orlando di Lasso, composer, would not have died in 1594.

Sir Henry Vane, statesman, would not have been beheaded in 1662.

Two writers, Harriet Beecher Stowe and G. K. Chesterton would not have, respectively, come (1811) and gone (1936).

King Richard II would not have persuaded the Essex rebels to return home in 1381.

The Germans would not have entered Paris in 1940.


Earlier today I saw Oh over at the gym. I was just winding up my workout when she walked in. As you have never seen photographs of her when not in her uniform, here is how she looks when she is not advising guests about Spa services and products.


Thursday, June 15, 2000 (Feast of St. Vitus)

Vitus, and his Nurse Crescentia, and his Tutor Modestus
FOURTH CENTURY

Vitus, also called Guy, was a boy-martyr. When his pagan father heard that he had picked up Christian notions from the man and woman hired to look after him, he had him whipped and shut up. The angels came and danced to keep him amused. The father saw them, which blinded him; Vitus restored his eyesight; but, as the bigoted man was no gentler than before, the nurse and the tutor ran away with their charge. Eventually they were all caught and cooked to death in oil. A wolf took fancy to the boy's body; the pagans did not dare go near it; the Christians were not afraid, and gave it a holy burial.

He is the patron of dancers and actors. There is no explanation of the fact that his name was given to the unpleasant nervous disease, unless it be that people supposed that angels danced in some such strange way.

Due to unfortunate calenderic irregularities I totally missed yesterday's HC honored anniversary:

HC, in a blurb headed, "A legal loophole that helped give new life to old films," reveals something really interesting about movies:

"Early movies couldn't be copyrighted. There was no law covering motion pictures until 1912. So filmmakers made paper prints of every frame of their films, and sent them to the Library of Congress to be legally protected as still photographs. It turns out that was a lucky thing, because early nitrate film stock became combustible, and eventually most early film prints were lost due to fire or neglect. But decades later, archivists realized that lost films could be resurrected by re-filming the millions of paper print frames. And thousands of classic films flickered back to life - all due to a copyright loophole."

IN OUR PAGES: 75 AND 50 YEARS AGO
[from the International Herald tribune]
1925: A Jazz Victim

NEW YORK - The New York State Asylum opened its gray portals to admit a patient suffering from insanity resulting from jazz music. Miss Edna Somach, eighteen, was adjudged mentally unbalanced and ordered committed to an institution. Testimony showed she became violently insane and entirely irresponsible whenever she heard the disquieting strains of jazz-band syncopation. Relatives hope the quiescent environment of the asylum will restore the girl's musical balance.

1950: Conk, Gulp, Pow

ROME - The newspaper "Unita" explained the difference between conk, pow, bonk, stonk and gulp. In a three-column article written by Gianna Rodari, the newspaper said this was the language "which children on six continents now know well through American comic strips." Mr. Rodari said he heard his son "mumbling these strange sounds." Although the dialogue in American comics printed here is translated into Italian, the whamboos, sockos and whizzes are left "in English."

Staff Party

Rather regularly I have been distancing myself from the Barbecue Terrace in favor of the Terrace Rim Naam. Though the convenience of the buffet that is laid out on this side of the Chao Phraya is a draw, the authentic Thai dishes that kitchen on the other side of the river produces is a bigger pull. My waitress at Rim Naam is Noi (for a peek at her, go to the staff party picture: she is in the middle, with the big slightly stoned smile). Her knowledge of Thai cuisine is vast and she has even managed to get the chef to lay on a few special dishes for me, including this one: poached sea bass served in a hot green curry sauce laced with baby eggplants and peppers. The crab filled Thai dumplings make a great starter. Thai desserts are pretty unique, too.


Friday, June 16, 2000

Cyr, and his mother Julitta
DIED 304

Cyr, or Quiricus, was a three-year old child who was present during the torturing of his mother. The governor took the baby on his knee to keep him quiet; but he cried and kicked and said that he was a Christian too. The busy man lost his patience, or perhaps could not hold him any more, and dropped him on the marble steps. He died of the fall.

The first might be yet another NEWNES' recognition of a name turned brand:

This one is a day of mourning for one little family in Portland, Oregon:

Not a good day for children. Wescott is not the sole chronicler of exemplary lives ... or, perhaps, lives made exemplary by others. And the IHT only has to dig a half-century into its morgue of the bizarre to come up with this child who made it into heaven without having to suffer adulthood:

IN OUR PAGES: 50 YEARS AGO
[from the International Herald Tribune]
1950: Holy Purity

NETTUNO, Italy - Angelo Goretti, a semi-literate New Jersey cloth-dyer, returned with noticeable emotion to his former peasant home, a spot which is becoming on of the important new shrines of Catholicism. The house was the scene where Mr. Goretti's twelve-year-old younger sister, Maria, permitted herself to be stabbed to death forty-eight years ago rather than succumb to a rape. The girl will be raised to the altars of the Roman Catholic Church on June 25. Pope Pius XII has described the girl's case as a model of both adolescent purity and the virtues which home training can inculcate under the most modest circumstances.

The Business Center at The Oriental Hotel is a rather grand Palace. Business CenterCopy machines and paper clips are nowhere to be seen; those unsavory nuts and bolts are tucked out of sight. For the past five weeks ALIMAK'S generals have largely ignored the Business Center. Like with any well thought out invasion, the soldiers have concentrated on chasing after the more ambulatory assets, leaving the Palace and its occupants to last.

And, with whole wings of the Oriental shuddering under the rams of ALIMAK'S siege engines, most of the other guests have either gone into deep hibernation or are giving this place a miss. Of course, that has been fine with me. I pretty much have the machines to myself. The girls, too. They practically beg me for work. Today two of them installed fresh software on my computer while I browsed the Internet on one of their machines.

Tonight, Noi and her manager at the Terrace Rim Naam served up another "off-the-menu" Thai dinner. Skewered prawns, broiled sea bass with two spicy sauces and a vegetable soup.


Saturday, June 17, 2000

I have been learning a lot about the WWF during the past two months. There is every reason to believe that "The Crippler" will retain his belt in the big title fight next week. The Rock"The Rock," though talking a tough game for the cameras, probably will wind up just trashing his dressing room ... and nothing more. "Slam-Bang" and his tag-team brother, "More-Bang," will have a tough time fighting off "The Crunchers." In the lady's events, "Fat Bitch," though despised by the crowd, seems more consistent with her dirty tricks than either "Suzie Yellow Rose" or "Farm Hand Perkins."

UBC, my Bangkok cable television supplier, has an eclectic mix in its offerings; but, with 50-plus channels, what else can you expect the poor monopoly to do. As in the case of most viewers, my own short list is pretty short: CNN, CNBC, MTV, BBC, FTV ... the consonant networks. Anyway, when I'm in control of the dial, it's one of those vowel-free ones that I watch. Down at the gym things are more democratic; which means that I am usually outvoted. As there is but one master television monitor that drums out the pace for the slaves, the clicker that controls the mother ship runs the whole fleet. ESPAN (where vowels and consonants are roughly balanced at 2 to 3) is usually high on the compass rose. And, it's here on ESPAN that I have learned so much about break-away chairs, mock-metal garbage cans and other WWF props.

Asians are fascinated by WWF events. Kim Jong Il, one of the two main players in this week's events on the Korean peninsula, has long been a keen follower of WWF spectacles. In 1994 or 1995, shortly after the death of the "Dear Leader" (Kim Il Sung), his son, the "Great Leader" (Kim Jong Il), organized "The Pyongyang International Sports and Cultural Festival For Peace." It was a bizarre event even when measured against bizarre events. The highlight of the festival was a series of WWF wrestling matches; matches that brought together under one tent all of the weird acts in "professional" wrestling. My daughter, Annie, and I spent a very strange two weeks in North Korea. Some of the photographs that she took during that fortnight can be seen right here. I think that she even captured some WWF flavors.

Another night with a near full moon over the Chao Phraya, accompanied by a sea bass in tamarind sauce followed by lobster chunks in green curry.

NEWNES finds one statesman, two composers, three kings, four writers-poets and a single astronomer. All but one had either an uneventful birth or an uneventful death. Which one went the wrong way?

Though there were more of them, I think NEWNES was closest to:

The HC kindles memories in the Old Soldiers Home:

Nicander and Marcian
SECOND CENTURY

Two soldiers who were tortured to death for the faith. The wife of the one encouraged him to go through with it; the wife of the other, who had a child, implored him to live for their sake. The pious wife had her wish; the loving mother was ignored.

A SPECIAL TREAT FOR "OH" FANS

If you know the password (and there are a lot of you out there), or if you can guess the password (and there are more of you than I think), here are some additional shots of Miss Oh ... including a moving one. You have seen her on the reception line, you have seen her relaxing with her feet propped up reaching for a drink, you have seen her cutting her way through Bangkok traffic, and you have seen her working out in the gym. Now you can see her at work.


Sunday, June 18, 2000

Young girls in small towns in medieval Italy must have driven their mothers crazy:

Osanna Andreasi
FIFTEENTH CENTURY
This Dominican mystic, as a child, heard a voice saying, 'Life and death consists of loving God.' Later she had a vision of the world literally held together, as it were cemented together, by Love. Whatever she was doing, she could always hear a sort of sweet unreal conversation within herself. She and her friends, Lucia of Narni and Colombo of Rieti, were followers of St. Catherine of Siena.

Perhaps it is the advancing years; maybe I just didn't study enough history; or I didn't read the right books; could be that I was born in the wrong country; there is even the possibility that NEWNES is making most of this stuff up. Whatever! They're just SO many people that I have never heard of; SO many things that have happened that I know nothing about! Yesterday, I was so embarrassed. I had never heard of that astronomer: The Earl of Rossé. The writers, E.J. Potgieter and Ferdinand Freilgrath…who are they? Composer Gounod? Never! Today is not any better. Do you want to give it a try?

A) 1749
B) 1835
C) 1868
D) 1871

1) Ambrose Phillip
2) William Cobbett
3) Nicholas Horthy
4) George Grote

a) Died
b) Died
c) Born
d) Died

1) Poet
2) Politician
3) Statesman
4) Historian

Here are some 'outtakes' from the June 6th staff party ... the one that was held at the Baan Rim Naam restaurant.


(Oh, looking up from the booking pad): Have you heard from your rittle lat?

(Alf, in a faux mocking mood): My rittle lat? My rittle lat?

(Oh, purposely not picking up): Yes. When is she coming?

(Alf, shifting into a pedantic gear): You mean my llllittle rrrrat! Not rittle lat!

(Oh, smiling sweetly): I don't laugh at you when you try to speak Thai.

(Alf, missing the point): I never speak to you in Thai.

(Oh, passing on to substance): Did you talk to her?

(Alf): Yes, just before coming over. She's not coming. I think she has a new love in her life.

(Oh): Rearry?

(Alf): She seems happy ... though she did say that her love life is taking a turn down my road ... whatever that means.


Today is a thin news day in Bangkok. As the Herald Tribune, Financial Times and Wall Street Journal aren't published on Sunday, I have just the Bangkok Post for my morning read. Sadly, it is bereft of the colorful local staples upon which I have come to rely: there is no news about elephants; nothing about Christy Reginald Lawrence ("a Sri Lanka-born man holding a Norwegian passport") ... nor any words about his awkward submersible. But, a new thread is starting:

CROP RAIDS BY BURMESE TROOPS SOAR

Doi Lang, Chiang Mai - Farmers living near this disputed border hilltop complain that the military is failing to protect them from Burmese soldiers who are raiding their plantations with impunity. Crop raidsTheir patience is wearing thin. The thefts have been going on for four years and are becoming more frequent.

Thailand and Burma have both deployed troops at Doi Lang. But both countries have agreed not to use force to settle the dispute over the sovereignty of the 32-sq km hilltop which was once the stronghold of drug warlord Khun Sa.

"The Burmese soldiers regularly come and steal lychees and tea leaf from our plantation. Sometimes there are five, six or seven of them, all carrying weapons. We have been suffering from this for four years and it has gone beyond the point of toleration," said the villager, who refused to be named.

But, for something marvelous, the editors at the Post had to look west. The facts belie this benign headline:

KILLER EXECUTED

Kabul - A man convicted by a Taleban court of killing five members of a family was publicly executed in the western Afghan city of Heart, the state-run Radio Shariat reported yesterday. Thousands of people thronged the city's sports stadium to watch the victim's heir execute Ghulam Ghaus on Friday. Ghaus was convicted by a provincial court in Heart, bordering Iran, for killing a five-member family and the sentence was endorsed by the hardline Islamic militia's supreme leader Mulla Mohamad Omar, the radio said. - AFP

While the rest of the world is becoming wimpy about capital punishment, our former puppet is polishing this event into something marketable. Though this all too brief wire service account makes no mention of spectator fees, it's not unreasonable to assume that the Taleban hoped to at least cover their costs with a modest charge at the gate. If thousands of sand eating camel fuckers are willing to suffer the Afghan sun and hard benches or standing room only to see the heir of the victim (shoot, strangle, stab, electrocute, poison or blow-apart) the villain, think of the money that addicts to WWF events would pay to see the same thing from the comfort of an air-conditioned sky box. The money-making possibilities for this sort of thing are near endless…

It's a rainy night in Bangkok.


Monday, June 19, 2000

HC has a prosaic analysis of what went wrong at the Battle of Waterloo, which incidentally took place 'yesterday':

NEWNES, unforgiving of losers, finds new faces and new deeds…God only knows where, but he does:

Gervase and Protase
FIRST CENTURY

Twin brothers who were giants. St. Ambrose, when he needed some new relics for a church in Milan, had an idea that there were some under it; and his workmen unearthed the vast mysterious bodies, lying together.

Juliana Falconieri
1270 - 1340

The friend of St. Philip Benizi. Her particular mission was to combat the extravagance of the ladies of Florence; and she greatly contributed to the importance of the 'Mantellate,' the women's branch of the Servites, her friend's order, housing a part of it in one of her family palaces.

She fasted so excessively that at last she was unable to eat, and died of starvation. Unable to even swallow the last sacrament, she apparently took it through her breast, where a cruciform wound was found.

This evening a very strange thing [190k MPEG] was seen floating under power from ALIMAK'S side of the water.


Tuesday, June 20, 2000

A truly amazing three-year period in French history; NEWNES was there:

In England not much happened until the next century:

In America:

Advertising Age ignored the story. Business Week looked elsewhere. The New York Times was more concerned with celebrity anniversaries. NEWNES was recently dead. Time-Warner was busy with AOL. But, someone over at The Onion remembered the redskin who sold his soul to the public service announcement people. It debuted on June 20, 1974:

LONE INDIAN CRIES SINGLE TEAR

ROCHESTER, N.Y. - An unidentified lone Indian, dressed in full ceremonial regalia, including buckskin vest and feathered headdress, sat on horseback near an upstate New York park and shed a single tear Sunday.

Lone Indian's Tear

Experts in the public-service-announcement industry report that the tear, which trickled down the deep cracks in the majestic Indian's weathered, distinguished face with extreme dignity, was prompted by the sight of a discarded soda can on the ground.

"Indians used to hold the beauty of nature in the highest esteem, prizing it as a sacred gift from the Great Spirit or something," said television producer Ten Haim, creator of numerous award-winning 30-second public-awareness spots. "So I believe he was very upset by the sight of the litter."

While the discarded can is believed to be the primary cause of the Indian's single tear, sources close to the Indian said the tear may also have been shed because, centuries ago, the white man, who was greeted by the Indian's ancestors in friendship, stole their land, raped their women, burned their villages, slaughtered their families, denigrated their race, violated their peace treaties, mocked and defiled their traditions, gave them small pox-infected blankets, sent them on forced marches at gunpoint across thousands of snow-covered miles, and confined them to impoverished reservations.

The anonymous Indian, who bowed his head and rode slowly and silently down a hilltop, as if beaten down by the onslaught of modern man's litter, could not be reached for comment.

Tonight I returned to the Terrace Rim Naam for more. This is what was there:

  1. An ice carving getting wet in the rain. It was a sea-horse.
  2. Fruit carvings out of the rain.
  3. Old food-related photographs from Thailand. I found them in the menu.
  4. Spicy appetizers and curried lobster. They were in the menu, too.
  5. An unusual view of The Peninsula Hotel. Taken from my table.

Next: Bangkok Forever, Part X

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