Bangkok Forever? ... Part XII

Back at the Oriental Hotel

Between Part XI and Part XIII

July 1-6, 2000

Saturday, July 1, 2000

Gal
SIXTH CENTURY

This nobleman of Auvergne ran away from home rather than marry a senator's daughter whom his father had chosen. Otherwise he was of an imperturbable meekness. When Bishop of Clermont, a man hit him on the head, and he never stirred or made a sound, which so impressed the aggressor that he forgot that he was angry.

Gal brought up his nephew, St. Gregory, the historian.

Though NEWNES does not try to link these two events other than by noting that they occurred exactly 58 years apart, it's tempting to think that Darwin was warning the 20th century that the halcyon 1800s might not replicate themselves in the 1900s:

Of course, foreknowledge of this, even for Darwin, was unlikely:

However, Darwin, at that time, would have been aware of:

And,

Though I have been in Bangkok since February, I have not used the Skytrain even once, until yesterday. Seven months ago the Bangkok Mass Transit System opened the 23-station system, and it is still drawing only 25% of the passengers it needs to just break even. With stations located about one kilometer apart the line runs through the most well traveled areas of the city ... yet it's carrying but 150,000 passengers per day, far short of the 600,000 in the original projections.

Yesterday, after lunch at the Dusit Thani, we took the Skytrain to the end of the line station, near the Chao Phraya River. Though fast, comfortable and clean, it is largely empty.


Sunday, July 2, 2000 (69 Days Into This Journal)

Wescott, for this day, runs the title right into the text. Read thusly, or read as broken by the font change, it still is hard to figure out what the man is getting at:

Mary's Visitation

NEWNES, though maddeningly brief at times, is never ambiguous:

The day before yesterday old man Zweibel and his ink-fingered minions over at The Onion were all atwitter. Not since Noah's arc pulled up anchor had there been such excitement about a voyage. Yes, a sky-vessel that would allow earthly theologians (and a few better people) to meet God at his own Heavenly abode looked like it might really fly. But that was yesterday's news, so to speak. And, that is a long time in the newspaper business. Besides, reunions with those who had gone on before always suggest an awkward downside.1 Doors once closed are better left closed. Right? The dead are always thought better of, when dead. Fine! Move on. This morning, journalistic gusto at The Onion is aimed at digging up the last dirt about the netherworld: balanced journalism.


1"To feel good about someone who is dead, just think about some uncomfortable secret that he carried to the grave." - T. Herman Zweibel


SKELETON OF SATAN DISCOVERED!
Bones Found in Wyoming Indian Lands
Theologians, Scientists Can Now Discern Exact Location Of Lucifer's Fall From Heaven
Could Prove Savage Indians In League With Demons

From the Western Territories correspondent, July 1. - The discipline of theology underwent perhaps the greatest moment in the field's long and distinguished history this Monday, when experts from Universities across the land gathered to examine the first-ever irrefutable proof of the fall of Lucifer from the Heavens - the intact and complete skeleton of Satan himself, Prince of Darkness and Lord of Lies, found by a farming-hand in an untilled field in Wyoming.

Satan's Skeleton

The skeleton, the mortal remains of what is clearly seen to depict Satan's terrible visage, was dug up by a team of experts from the Chicago School of Divinity after the farming-hand who discovered it summoned help from more learned minds with the aid of the tele-graphy device located in Casper Town.

It is estimated that the bones have lain undisturbed within the field since Lucifer originally fell from Heaven, after being cast out by the Lord Almighty and His Heavenly Hosts of Arch-angels for the deadly sin of pride, probably more then fourteen thousand years past.

"There is no doubt that the skeleton is that of Satan," said Reverend-Doctor Hanover Waine, one of the clergy-man present at the site of the find. "The grim face of all evil, though stripped of flesh by Holy Providence, is unmistakable."

Handy Harness

The find, confirmed by learned men of science as proof of the Evil Angel's fall as recounted within the pages of the Revelation of John, puts an end to any doubt over the veracity of the claims made by the Apostles within the Bible. It in fact verifies the location of Lucifer's fall as some 240 miles north of Casper Town, Wyoming.

"Now that Biblical history has been irrevocably proven as scientific fact, the task of science is obvious - to help lead the struggle for missionary work over-seas, to redeem heathen souls through the cleansing power of the Blood of the Savior of man, our Lord Jesus Christ," leading Paleontologist E. Cadwalader Doyle stated.

Scientists suspect that the precise location of Satan's fall is evidence that the Pawnee Indian may be in league with the Lord of Darkness.

"The scourge of the Indian savage has been rendered forty times as heinous," Doyle said. "We must obliterate the savage from this Earth, as well as others of Satan's flock: harlots, opium-smokers, atheists, and lechers."

The skeleton will be on display at the Divinity School, surrounded at all times by a special team of priests and holy men, and guarded with Holy Water, Prayer, and other sacramental protections.

Oh

These photographs of Miss Oh were taken this morning at a little after 11:30 Bangkok time. Without any editing, they were transmitted by landline from The Oriental Hotel to LoxInfo (a wholly owned subsidiary of Loxley Information Services Company, Limited). LoxInfo, a Bangkok based Internet Service Provider, acting as agent (for the purposes of this transmission), diced the photographs into tiny pieces and sent them in ever so tiny bits to Paul Fjelstad, the webmaster at Corkscrew-Balloon.com. Webmaster Fjelstad, after editing the photographs, caused the photographs to appear on this web site.


Monday, July 3, 2000

Hey Christy (ie?) ... have you ever heard of him before? Bernie?

Phocas
DATE UNKNOWN

A legendary Syrian gardener. One evening two strangers accepted his hospitality, and, during dinner, inquired where Phocas, the Christian gardener, lived: their mission was to put him to death. Phocas promised to give them directions the next morning. During the night he dug a grave among his flower-beds, and at dawn led them to it, telling who he was. Indebted to him or food and the night's lodging, charmed by his gentleness, they would have preferred not to kill him; but he insisted on its being done.

He is the patron of gardens and gardeners, and helps in case of snake-bite.

IN OUR PAGES: 100 YEARS AGO
[from the International Herald Tribune]
1900: Airship Succeeds

FRIEDRICHSHAFEN (Lake of Constance) - The third attempt to effect the ascent with Count Zeppelin's airship, made today [July 2], was a success. With Count Zeppelin and his companions on board, it left the balloon-house a few minutes after eight o'clock this evening and sailed off in a westerly direction. I watched it for twenty minutes and then saw it come down to the lake some miles away.

Ah

Ah has a new job. Le Normandie is The Oriental's most opulent restaurant. Located on the top floor of the old wing, it's the only restaurant in the hotel that has no Thai items on its menu. Ah will work here as a receptionist for the entire month of July. Apparently, this is a rotating post; a monthly assignment for employees who are assigned to receptionist jobs at the other restaurants in the hotel.

Though the place is only one floor above my bedroom, last night was the first time that I've eaten at Le Normandie. No doubt, Becky would love it. That's about as high a praise that any restaurant could get.

The 4th of July is less than seven hours away…at least from where I sit. Though the 4th of July in Bangkok is pretty much like the 3rd or the 5th for most residents, many of the girls at Patpong embrace "Independence Day in the United Sates of America" as if was a local holiday. As with Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Furry Day and other Days it, too, is a unique clump of 24 hours ... one that allows the girls to raise a glass to something great. In holidays past the girls of Patpong have attempted to run with the theme. Some of you will recall the cute little Santa outfits that they were atwitter over last Christmas. And the Easter decorations, though confusing, were a good stab at originality, weren't they? I think we have some photos of them lying around here someplace. Paul?

It has been a long time since I've heard a rousing chorus from The Battle Hymn of the Republic coming out of the Super Queen. On the last 4th of July Linda and I were in Stockholm looking at Swedish church architecture. The year before that (1998) I was in Paris with Becky, counting down the days to their own little holiday. It's good that I'm 'home' for this 4th.


Tuesday, July 4, 2000

Loads of people, according to NEWNES, tried to jump on this bandwagon. Proof of the popularity of the 4th is the paucity of stuff found on the 3rd or the 5th. Though difficult to edge their birth to fit into the window of the 4th, squeezing a death into the 4th was easy once the clock struck midnight.

Dear reader, I swear to God, I did not know that these two died on the same day! And, on the 4th of July! Why don't our schools make more out of this?

Continuing:

That, too, is pretty amazing. Three big-name presidents all kicking off on our nation's birthday ... two within hours of each other. I would have thought that there would have been some big-conspiracy-theory movie/book about this. But, no!

Madame Curie, scientist, and François René (Vicomte de Chateaubriand), writer, died too. She in 1934; he in 1848. The astronomer, Giovanni Virginio Schiaparelli, died in 1910.

Obviously, Agatha, Tsarina of Russia, who died in 1681, was just plain lucky.

Even 'Events' were shouldering aside the 3rd and the 5th to make it on to the coattails of this great American Independence Day:

I'd have to check with Andy Page, my London Transport expert, about this but I'm certain that this bus-run was linked to our 4th:

A year earlier, 1828, Don Miguel assumed the title of King of Portugal. I am convinced that this, too, was timed to fall on our great American Holiday ... but for dark and sinister reasons; reasons not at all in keeping with the spirit of how this precious day was celebrated on the 'free' side of the Atlantic.

The presentation of the Statute of Liberty to the United States (1883); the beginning of the construction of the Panama Canal (1904); the establishment of the Republic of the Philippines (1946)…are all given…as is the start of work on the Erie Canal (1817).

CORRECTION:

It seems that my paper diary and my memory are synchronized: both have failed me with respect to what I was doing last 4th ... and the 4th before that. In 1999 Linda and I were looking at Lutheran churches in Helsinki and not in Stockholm. In '98 I was in Siena for the 4th ... France was still days away.

IN OUR PAGES: 50 YEARS AGO
[from the International Herald Tribune]
1950: French Holiday

PARIS - American tourists in Paris are enjoying their vacation despite the war in Korea and only "a handful" have returned to the United Sates because of the Communist invasion. Since the invasion of South Korea ten days ago an average of thirty Americans have been received daily at the American Embassy by R. Clyde Larkin, Embassy Consul. "We are doing our best to reassure United States citizens that war fears should not send them packing up and that present conditions do not require their leaving Paris," Mr. Larkin said.


On the road somewhere between Chong Mek and Muang Phontong ... and not far from the poorly mapped piece of jungle pie where Thailand, Laos and Cambodia vaguely meet:

(Aging former officer in pre-1975 royalist Lao army): What time is it?

(Aging former draftee in pre-1975 royalist Lao army): A little before midnight, sir.

(AFO): That means it's 11am in Concord? Daylight? Right?

(ADL): Yes, sir.

(AOL): So, they had no trouble seeing the "whites of their eyes," did they?

(ADL): No, sir.

(AOL): Where does the "Give me liberty or give me death" part come in?

(ADL): I think that was later ... or, maybe before ... sir.

The magic of zoom photography allows you, dear reader, the same close up view of the front page of this morning's The Nation that I have.

Selective quotes from the paper suggest that the shots heard near Chong Mek will not be heard around the world:

"A border military source said the armed group, believed to number about 70, launched the raid on the border post at about 3am. They took over the immigration and customs offices and a duty free shop and took five officials hostage."

"Lao National Radio in its evening broadcast yesterday described the armed group as robbers."

"But Thai military and security sources said the raid was carried out by an anti-Vientiane resistance group called the National Justice and Democratic Party which seeks to overthrow the Laotian government."

"The police also seized a two-page letter typed in Lao with the letterhead of the United Lao Nation Resistance for Democracy in Laos. The letter was sent from the office of the resistance movement in Fresno, California."


Wednesday, July 5, 2000

Perhaps Pol Pot wasn't so bad after all!

And, the Norwegians have their hand in this, too. On the good side, for a change.

POOR MOVED TO MINED LAND: ARMED TROOPS FORCE SQUATTERS OFF PROPERTY TO BE USED FOR CASINOS

No, that's not from the pages of The Onion. It's from this morning's Bangkok Post. One-sided snippets of note:

"Cambodian military authorities are forcing hundreds of poor Cambodian families to move into heavily minded areas to clear land for casinos."

"Military police moved in and razed the squatter village 10 days ago. On Monday, soldiers armed with AK-47s patrolled the squalid remains, allowing people to gather building materials from their former homes before driving them out to the relocation site."

"A humanitarian organization, Norwegian People's Aid, had been in negotiations with the government to help gradually and voluntarily move the squatters off the disputed land, but the recent razing came without warning."

"Cambodia remains one of the world's most heavily mined areas, with an estimated six million landmines left over from its long civil war."

Is it just coincidental that so many people's death and birth anniversaries are quite close to each other on the calendar? Today is the 196th anniversary of the birth of George Sand. And, just a few days ago, on July first she ... ... What? 1804 again? Born? Can't be!

Now this is a first! I have discovered a false entry in NEWNES! For both July 1 and July 5 NEWNES shows George Sand, writer, as being born in 1804. Could it be that her mother was bracketing our Independence Day?

Yesterday I foolishly said that the 3rd and the 5th were shallow birth and death days for July. NEWNES belies me with:

IN OUR PAGES: 50 YEARS AGO
[from the International Herald Tribune]
1950: Cold Warriors

WASHINGTON - Congress will be asked this week for authority to wage global propaganda war against Communism to win the "battle for men's minds." The program will be laid before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by Secretary of State Dean Acheson, former Secretary of State George C. Marshall, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Bernard Baruch and other national leaders.

Oh, at work [208k MPEG].

Ah, on the way to work.

It's rather refreshing in a way. Safety nets ... safety belts ... safety slings ... safety rope ... safety rails. None of that stuff here! Workers are free to swing ... from pole to pole, from limb to limb ... unencumbered by burdensome things that only come in handy if they slip or miss a grip.


Thursday, July 6, 2000

" ... the play of fire and boiling oil and butchers' tools ... "

Wescott has a way with words when it's other people's bodies that are being tortured…perhaps not the words that the participants would have chosen…but, nice words anyway.

Romulus
FIRST CENTURY

A noble disciple of St. Peter who went as a missionary to the Etruscan cities and became the first Bishop of Fiesole. The Emperor Domitian put him to the torture; and he was more faithful amid the play of fire and boiling oil and butchers' tools than his master had been when tried by a servant-girl's mere mockery.

At the beginning of the week I religiously posted Wescott's saint for the day: Phocas (date unknown). Remember?

Rather than flip back:

A legendary Syrian gardener. One evening two strangers accepted his hospitality, and, during dinner, inquired where Phocas, the Christian gardener, lived: their mission was to put him to death. Phocas promised to give them directions the next morning. During the night he dug a grave among his flower-beds, and at dawn led them to it, telling who he was. Indebted to him or food and the night's lodging, charmed by his gentleness, they would have preferred not to kill him; but he insisted on its being done.

He is the patron of gardens and gardeners, and helps in case of snake-bite.

At the same time, and as a prefatory aside, I brought Phocas' exemplary life to the attention of my daughter, Christy, and her husband, Bernie ... as both are in the same business as was Phocas.

Yesterday I received an e-mail from my son-in-law, Bernie. He directed me to a very official looking web site: one that gushed all things Christian: de rigueur dogma, ex-cathedra dicta, colorful liturgical calendars, pages of patron saints1 and piles of things Catholic. I think it even harbors a "lobby shop" for church supplies. Anyway, buried in one of its webcoils is the papal version of the facts that allow Mr. Phocas to claim a set-day each year. The details of Phocas' last hours differ from those of Wescott only in emphasis, but an important emphasis it is. While Wescott's version has Phocas positively insisting that the soldiers kill him, the church version suggests that Phocas just shrugged his shoulders, so to speak, and held out his neck.


1The patron saint of Internet Users is St. Issadore, according to CatholicOnline.


Here is how www.CatholicOnline.org sees Phocas' passing:

St. Phocas was a gardener from Sinope, Paphlagonia, on the Black Sea; performed his duties with care and purpose; gave food and lodging to any to any stranger in need; lived as an anchorite pursuing prayer and contemplation; suffered martyrdom for being a Christian; beheaded by soldiers who were given orders to look for Phocas in order to try him for his faith; inadvertently, the soldiers stayed at Phocas when they asked him for a place to sleep; when they told Phocas their mission and asked his whereabouts, he prepared himself for death by digging his own grave; in the morning, he admitted to the soldiers that he himself was Phocas and calmly faced his death.

Gardener by trade, Phocas led a life feast day of simplicity, oneness with nature, and a purity recalling God's creation of the first human gardeners, Adam and Eve. His is September 22.

Up to today I have assumed, naively I admit, that each day of the year has a saint attached to it. Sure, sometimes a day is shared by a couple of saints: perhaps because they go together, as in the case of the brothers from Cremona who were in concert dipped in boiling candle wax ... or the twin virgins who spent their luckless life on a rock. But just how they got their assigned places on the calendar seemed to be the work of functionaries…the filling in of raw vacancies, a replacement with one more worthy when the first choice looked a bit hasty, etc, etc.

As to whether there are competing lists of saints, we just don't know. My friend, Paul Fjelstad, wonders if Lutherans just took on the Catholic list or did the followers of Martin Luther insist on doing their own compilation.

And which saints get the presumably more desirable summer days? Or, are the days nearest Christmas and Easter the prime properties? Who, if any, gets February 29? These questions, and more, are just that.

Look at yesterday:

Wescott feels that the 5th goes to two brothers:

Cyril and Methodius
NINTH CENTURY

Two brothers, the apostles of the Slavs. Methodius was a painter sent from Constantinople by the emperor to decorate the palace of the king of the Moravians or Bulgarians. He produced a Last Judgment so terrifying that the king became, not merely a Christian, but a monk; and all his realm was converted.

Cyril, a scholar, perfected the Slavonic alphabet which St. Jerome had begun, and translated the Gospels for that part of the world, where it is still in use. Perhaps this beginning of Balkan nationalism alarmed the Germans; certainly the two brothers were unpopular in ecclesiastical circles; and after the philologist's death the German bishops kept the painter in prison for three years.

CatholicOnline.org gives it to:

Saint Anthony Mary Zaccaria
1538
FEASTDAY: JULY 5

Co-founder of the Barnabites. Born in 1502 in Cremona, Italy, Anthony became a medical doctor. In 1528 he was ordained a priest and co-founded the Barnabites, the religious congregation so called because it was headquartered in St. Barnabas Monastery in Milan. The Barnabites occupied the monastery in 1538, having been approved in 1533. Anthony popularized the forty-hour prayer ceremony, promoted the use of altar sacraments, and introduced the ringing of church bells on Friday. He is depicted in liturgical art in habit.

NEWNES, I suspect is Church of England. His heading for today (we've moved ahead from yesterday) is at odds with Wescott. The Feast of St. Thomas More heads his list of births, deaths and things to be remembered.

NEWNES' People:

NEWNES' Events:

This one is for Andy Page, my authority on all things relating to public transport (in London):

IN OUR PAGES: 50 YEARS AGO
[from the International Herald Tribune]
1950: Boring Classics

NEW YORK - The Columbia University Press has completed a poll on the ten most boring classics in the world. The winner is John Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress." The other nine in order are:

  1. Melville's "Moby Dick"
  2. Milton's "Paradise Lost"
  3. Spencer's "Faerie Queene"
  4. Boswell's "Life of Samual Johnson"
  5. Richardson's "Pamela"
  6. Eliot's "Silas Mariner"
  7. Scott's "Ivanhoe"
  8. Cervante's "Don Quixote"
  9. Goethe's "Faust"

My all time favorite for that list is Joyce's "Ulysses." But, I liked "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" and "The Wasteland." And, I'm sure that both of these were on someone's 'most boring' list.

Bangkok's latest contribution to the Internet craze: an ice cream shop.

Next: Bangkok Forever, Part XIII

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