Bangkok for the Change of Seasons,
Part V

Between Part IV and Part VI

October 16-21 2000

Monday, October 16, 2000

It was a bad day for high profile people:

Particularly bad for the church! And, again, NEWNES gives us yet another 'coincidence' ... one more curious connection. But, before we even get to that ... before we wonder what Latimer and Ridley had in common ... we have to figure out just what exactly happened to Ridley. Can we safely assume that both bishops died execution style? Not necessarily. NEWNES is a stickler when it comes to these things. Latimer, for sure, died by edict; but things are murkier with the other bishop. 'Burnt at the stake' does not necessarily mean that Bishop Ridley was burnt to death ... he may have been burnt just a little bit ... singed, scorched, lightly charred ... as a warning. Also, ... though the suggestion is very strong ... 'burnt at the stake' does not absolutely require that someone else lit the match; it is possible that Ridley gathered up his own kindling, worked a pointed pole into the soil, hoisted himself to the top of the wood pile, loosely tied himself to the stake and dropped the match. Unlikely, but possible! Finally, Ridley may not have had a proper execution; a mob could have roped him to the pole ... a couple of terribly pissed off parishioners could have sent him on his way ... after all, 16th century bishops didn't always come across as avuncular figures; dishing out loaves to the hungry and blessings to the wronged.

Back to the coincidence. Any ideas? Did Latimer and Ridley know one another? Were they the 'fall-guys' in a bigger conspiracy? Did their church duties bring about their end? As usual, more help is needed.

Elsewhere on this day in NEWNES' history:

Dear reader, yesterday I gave you the wrong saint. Dominic Loricatus should have shared October 14th with Fortunatus of Todi. The 15th was Teresa of Avila's day. Today, we should have Gall as our greeter ... but, since Gall was an "apostle of Switzerland" ... and, thus, very boring ... let's skip him. We'll pretend that today is Teresa's day. Tomorrow, the 17th, we'll be back on course again with Hedwig.

Teresa of Avila
1515 - 1582

There is nothing obscure about this woman of genius, since she wrote her own life. As a child she and one of her nine brothers tried to run away to Morocco to be martyred; they all played hermit in the garden; eternity fascinated them, and they kept repeating, 'For ever, for ever!' A year or two later, she grew vain and flirtatious, reading novels and worrying about her clothes. But her father had her educated in a convent, where one of the nuns exercised a perhaps sobering influence. She began to fear damnation, but hated suicide and did not want to take the veil; the conflict in herself made her sick. At the age of eighteen she ran away from home and forced herself to take Carmelite vows; there was certainly not what may be called a vocation; and she was rewarded by the greatness of her career rather than by spiritual peace. Nervous, honest, pretty, with 'the vitality of an eagle', it was twenty years before she achieved any indifference to things of this world.

Meanwhile, she founded seventeen reformed Carmelite convents and, with her friend, John of the Cross, fifteen monasteries. She governed as she wrote, economically and shrewdly, with uninhibited wisdom, a certain malice, and a sort of flamboyant nobility. 'O my daughters', she said to her nuns, 'I know quite well that we cannot live without sins: but do try to keep from committing the same ones over and over, lest they get to be fixed habits.' Many churchmen of her day disliked her and tried to hinder her: 'a restless woman rambling about the country, headstrong and talkative,' they said.

After three hundred and fifty years, she seems even a greater writer than practical reformer: 'The Interior Castle' and 'The Way of Perfection' are specifically Catholic classics, but the autobiography and her verse, pathetic with passion Jesus Christ, may be loved and believed without any orthodox belief.

She was ill all her life. An angel appeared to her and thrust into her heart a golden arrow with a burning head, hurting her but making her happy.

Dear reader, perhaps I should have given you Gall, after all. Though Teresa started off strong and ended with a flash, her middle years were boring, save to her.


Good Grief! They've done it again! This time with a 'head-shot', so to speak. The Daily News, working with ace cameraman Somchai, has managed to produce another cleverly The Pointing Finger of Newsdesigned front-page blend of prayer, sex and human mutilation. Like yesterday, an official finger gently directs the reader's eye to the circulation-driving spot: the gaping blood soaked hole in the victim's head. But, advanced darkroom technology allowed the photo editor to tastefully position the murdered girl's blown-away face just inches above a photograph showing a monk shaving the head of a man answering the call from God.

Over at the Bangkok Post, the editor had only a wire service photo of a burning Israeli flag to work with.

Still further east ... much further ... over in Lantana, home of the Weekly World News ... a sadder story:

A bare yellow-red bulb hung from the darkroom ceiling. Morton liked it that way. The light was flattering to his face ... years of alcohol abuse had left their ravages and it was only the camouflaging glow from red-shifted light that hid the tiny burst blood vessels around his nose. Pushing his green eyeshade up with his one dry finger, he poked at the emerging image with his other hand.

(Morton): "Nasty wounds ... those."

(Sub-Editor, hoping to salvage something): "It was his wife. He took a screwdriver to her. Burned her hands and feet off first ... then used the screwdriver ... right through the stomach ... next, he worked on her mouth. Zapped her first with 240 from the electric ... you can just make out the cord."

(Morton, reaching for an air brush and the dot-screen): "How much do you want to hide?"

(Sub-Editor): "I guess all of it. We'll stick with print."


Tuesday, October 17,2000

As promised:

Hedwig
DIED 1243

The fiercely virtuous daughter of the Duke of Dalmatia, married at the age of twelve to Henry, Duke of Silesia. She would have preferred, one is told, to keep her virginity; but she must have regarded the wishes of her husband with some sympathy, for she bore him six children. At last, before their bishop, they vowed to engage in no more physical intimacy. Only once in forty years, at a time when she was suffering from undernourishment, did Hedwig eat either meat of fish, and then the papal legate had to ask her to follow her doctor's instructions. Every day she invited thirteen poor men to a meal - one for each of the disciples and one for Christ - and waited on them herself; she often washed, indeed kissed, the sores of lepers; and she slept only a few hours a night, on the ground. Thanks to her severe influence Duke Henry became a very good ruler. She survived him for fifteen years, doing penance, in a nunnery kept by one of her daughters.

 

IN OUR PAGES: 100, 75 AND 50 YEARS AGO
[from the International Herald Tribune]
1900: Parisian Vice

PARIS - It is to be feared that Mr. Simon, of Dawson City, has changed his opinion of Paris. He came to see the Exhibition, was so pleased with the capital that he determined to spend several months in it. His paradise was not complete, however, without an Eve, so he brought into it not one, but two young women, whose acquaintance he had made at the Moulin Rouge. For a day or two everything was delightful, but when Mr. Simon awoke yesterday morning [Oct. 16] he found that the ladies had disappeared. So had 10,000fr., and some family jewels. The two young women were later found walking with a man of the class which is only too numerous on the outer boulevards.

1925: Market Bedlam

NEW YORK - The New York Stock Exchange presented a veritable bedlam today [Oct. 16] under the heaviest day's trading in twenty-four years, with prices in dozens of stocks surging upward under an avalanche of buying orders from all parts of the country, brokers literally swamped with commissions, the ticker half an hour behind trading and never able to catch up and a new high record of 2,820,000 shares traded in.

1950: German Rout

BERLIN - Voters in East Germany recorded a vote of 99.58 per cent for the Communist picked list of candidates, according to the count announced of the general election. Wilhelm Peck, President of East Germany, has thereby broken the 14-year-old record set by the late Fuehrer Adolf Hitler on March 30, 1936, when a vote of 98.81 per cent was recorded for the Nazi party list in the Reichstag elections.


One of Ah's best friends is named Oh. She is not related in any way to my other Thai friend, who is also named Oh. For all I know, the two Ohs might not even know one another, even though, at one time, they worked under the same roof: OhThe Oriental Hotel. 'My' Oh now works at Disney World in Florida ... Ah's Oh now works at Lord Jims; an Oriental Hotel in-house restaurant on this side of the river. Anyway, yesterday, my Ah invited her Oh to have lunch at one of our favorite Thai restaurants, The Gallery Café. Oh was celebrating the start of her new job. Up until last week she worked at the Sala Rim Naam, the Thai restaurant operated by The Oriental ... just across the river from the hotel proper ... and the place where I first met Ah.

After lunch the three of us walked two blocks to White Shirts.1 White Shirts is a reflexology (foot massage) clinic on the ground floor of the Bossotel Hotel.


1 "White Shirts" is not its real name ... it's just that everyone calls it that, presumably to distinguish it from a competitor just a few doors away, "Green Shirts." The reflexologists at Green Shirts all wear green shirts. In the case of Green Shirts, Ltd., we don't know whether the corporate name followed the shirts ... or, if the shirts were purchased to better harmonize with the corporate name. The case at White Shirts is comparatively straightforward; the reflexologists wear white shirts.


Wednesday, October 18, 2000

A doctor at sea (hence, unlikely to offend) and a portrait painter; also, a writer ... it is hard to see how he became a saint. Perhaps it was because of his writings. More likely, his portraits of Jesus and his mother were so flattering that to slight Luke by withholding a halo would be tantamount to slurring Christ and his mom.

Luke the Evangelist
FIRST CENTURY

The author of the third Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles was a doctor, perhaps a ship's doctor. He was not a Jew. It has always been believed that he was an artist and painted portraits of Our Lord and His Mother. He is the particular saint of painters. His emblem is the winged ox.

NEWNES tells us that two popes died today and another was born ... all prior to the 15th century. Royalty shared the day with one queen, one prince, one tsar and one emperor ... some arriving, some leaving. More important:

During my student days at Kings and the LSE I spent many hours commuting between the Aldwych underground station and the Strand tube stop. Though only yards separated them, miles of track lay between them. Thus, the importance of:

ChickensYesterday, cameras at both the Post and the News found little to look at. So colorless was Tuesday's Bangkok crime-beat that Somchai and his fellow lensmen were humiliatingly reduced to lining up and posing a group of "Thai chicken raisers" over at the American embassy. While US embassies in the rest of the world braced for unwanted attention from terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden, our Bangkok property had to deal with the rage of Chaweewan Kampa, president of the Poultry Promotion Association of Thailand. Dark murmurs in the otherwise peaceful crowd hinted that US Cornish game hens were being 'sneaked' into Thailand by Tyson Foods. That, and the marketing clout of Patti Jean brand frozen hens, put the livelihood of Thai chicken breeders and corn farmers at risk.


Thursday, October 19, 2000

Lombroso's death brought to an end a promising branch of criminology. The science (detractors say 'art'), of measuring bumps, lumps and bulges on human heads in order to determine a penchant toward bad behavior came to a full stop when he was murdered by one of his specimens ... no one dared to pick up the fallen torch. Instead, his students jumped on competing bandwagons and rode off in all different directions; leaving society with just the noose to write the final sentence in Lombroso's life-long work.

Sir Humphry's work, on the other hand, lives on. Every middle-school chemistry student is very familiar with what happens when you flush a hunk of sodium down the toilet.

Other events (primarily of interest to students of the battlefield):

More bits for this day:

For a more serious look at October 19th:

Peter of Alcantara
DIED 1562

The life of this important Franciscan of the Counter-Reformation shows the immediate influence of the Society of Jesus upon the other orders. He was the link between St. Ignatius Loyola and St. Teresa - the former's admirer and imitator, the latter's advisor. Many of her reforms of the Carmelites appear to have been suggested by him. A splendid star hung over Avila when they met and indeed it was a great occasion in mystic diplomacy, in European history as well as that of heaven - one of the events, no doubt, which turned the Renaissance to tragedy. We are told that the ardent friar himself sometimes hung in the air with a star's brilliance; and on one of his journeys, when he had to spend the night in a roofless building, the falling snow hardened in a roof over his head.


Friday, October 20, 2000

Dear reader, our Mr. NEWNES clearly messed up on this one. Curious, because when he was making up this list, Sarah Ann's invention was almost a century on the shelf (assuming that this is [was] something that you drank for its restorative qualities). The alternative, of course, is that NEWNES is putting us on a bit ... slipping in a fictional event ... hoping that it won't be picked up, save by friends of the spoof. Another, and more disturbing, alternative is that NEWNES had some 'interest' in the "Tonic" ... that Aunt Sarah had left him the residual patent rights ... that the product was not moving very well ... that he hoped that by ranking it up there with the birth of Sir Christopher Wren (architect, 1632), flagging sales would do an abrupt about-face and that he (NEWNES) could continue writing his publisher from the south of Spain.

Fights clog today's 'events':

The path to sainthood usually meanders all over the playing field. And, sometimes the miraculous powers so frequently associated with wearing the halo, vest in God's trainee long before He nods his final "OK." The true test is if the holder of the powers exercises them in an apparently random way. Unverifiable, unsubstantiated, no second opinion, witness-less, take-the-man's-word-for-it ... that's all OK.

Zenobius
DIED 417

A Florentine, Bishop of Florence, who traced his descent from Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra. He brought a number of people to life: a muleteer who was bringing him a gift of relics from his friend, St. Ambrose, and who fell off a cliff; a French boy traveling to Italy with his mother; a little child trampled by oxen.


Dear reader, this morning's Bangkok Post graphically illustrates how mighty is the 'eye of the press' here in Thailand. For the past week, all of you have witnessed ('disturbingly close-up', you might add) the probing powers of crime-beat Bangkok lensmen. No crotch, no orifice, no bloody human hole can escape the zoom of a Somchai powered Nikon. But, up until today, the Somchais in this business snapped away at corpses, or pieces of corpses ... helpless hunks of meat, so to speak. Now we see what happens when the subject is not dead, and presumably has some say in the matter. Very little!

The caption reads:

DRUG SUSPECT

"Zimbabwean Ndlovu Nomathemba, 32, accused of smuggling 1kg of heroin from Lahore, Pakistan, is forced to pose for cameramen following his arrest yesterday."

In a more ticklish vein, this morning's competing English language Bangkok broadsheet, The Nation, amuses Coke bottlers and cola fans with a cute story from Kuala Lumpur:

THINGS GO BETTER WITH CONDOM!

KUALA LUMPUR - Prostitutes in Malaysia's Sarawak state on Borneo Island are pouring Coca Cola on themselves before having sex, believing the fizzy drink kills the HIV virus, it was reported yesterday.

A local nongovernmental group, the Sarawak Aids Network, said it was shocked to learn of some of the misconceptions among the public about the deadly disease.

Andrew Kiyu, a volunteer with the group, said sex workers in Sarawak and their customers were shaking cans of Coca Cola and pouring the drink on to their private parts before engaging in sex, thinking it acted as a disinfectant.

"They believe that the bubbles can kill the virus, probably after seeing doctors using soapy detergents to cleanse a patient's wounds," he was quoted as saying by the Sun daily.

"It's amazing what myths some Sarawakians believe," he said. - Duetsche Presse Agentur.


Watcharee

Can you guess why Watcharee is in such a happy mood? She just picked up her American visa ...


Does The Daily Worker still publish? Is Gus Hall still alive?

The answer to the second question is "No." He died on Friday. Perhaps he outlived The Daily Worker. I don't know. Anyway, the International Herald Tribune had a few last words to say about Mr. Hall.

GUS HALL, HEAD OF COMMUNISTS IN U.S., DIES

By Sam Tanenhaus
New York Times Service

NEW YORK - Gus Hall, 90, the Communist who headed the American branch of the party from the Cold War through political oblivion in the post-Soviet era, died Friday at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan.

The son of a Minnesota miner who immigrated from Finland, Mr. Hall, whose true name was Arva Kusta Halberg, became radicalized early, beginning a career as a union and party organizer during the Depression.

Gus HallJ. Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI, once described him as "a powerful, deceitful, dangerous foe of Americanism."

He served eight years in prison, ran for president four times and never apologized for or wavered from the increasingly sidelined ideology he championed.

By the end of his life he had become a lonely Communist stalwart in a post-communist world. Those who sought him out for interviews at his party headquarters on West 23rd Street in Manhattan found a genial, white-haired man presiding over a "museum of history," as he put it.

Photographs of his family shared space with a portrait of Lenin (a gift from Leonid Brezhnez of Russia); a wood sculpture from Fidel Castro of Cuba, and a tapestry of Karl Marx, courtesy of Erich Honecker of East Germany.

Mr. Hall was elected general secretary of the Communist Party, U.S.A., in 1959, when the U.S. government considered the organization a tool of the Kremlin and all its members potentially dangerous subversives.

Mr. Hall sometimes startled people with his beliefs. Once, applauding life in repressive and austere North Korea, he said: "If you want a nice vacation, take it in North Korea."1


1 Though Mr. Tanenhaus makes light of Mr. Hall's choice of vacation sites, this journal writer (me) found North Korea to be a nice place for a vacation. I went there twice in the mid-90s. Please glance at some of the holiday "snaps" that my daughter, Annie, took while we were on our vacation. Our second holiday visit to this "hermit" country was cozily timed to coincide with the World Wrestling Foundation's championships. Incidentally, Muhammad Ali was the MC of this Pyongyang hosted sporting event.


Switching Bangkok papers, less sophisticated 'blacking' techniques seem to be employed on the inner, monochrome pages of the Daily News. Missing are the strokes from the black marking pen so successfully used in hiding the nasty bits in the 'fridge murder ... absent also are the tell-tale dots brought into play to cover up partially the missing part in the 'missing' vagina case. Instead, the reader finds what appears to be a hastily splashed splash. Little is known of what is hidden beneath the splash. Thus, the whole point of the 'splash' is lost.


Saturday, October 21, 2000

Perhaps Paul can dig us a link to last October 21. I think we were in Hong Kong ... or, on our way ... yes ... I remember ... we were in transit, dazedly crossing the international dateline! We were still in shock from our encounter with that enormous zillion-volt pylon in Seattle; that eye catching galvanized-steel monument to raw electric power. It was here, on Puget Sound Energy property, where Screwmaid wannabe Ara Tripp made her debut dash for the coveted look-alike role of Denise.

Anyway, the link should be to Wescott's ... though, a reread of Ara's adventures is always a treat:

Ursula and the Eleven Thousand Virgins
FIFTH CENTURY

NEWNES brings us to the opening of one of the chapters in Monty Python's "Search for the Holy Grail":

Again, he allows us to make the connection, if there is one:

The Onion, allowing that it is a presidential election year:

FDR's Remains to Run for Fifth Term

Beloved late president Franklin D. Roosevelt, speaking through living representatives, announced his intention to seek a fifth term as president in 1948, running on a platform of "A Better Leader Dead than Any Man Alive."

"It is safe to say there is no better leader for this nation than Roosevelt," said FDR '48 campaign manager Thaddeus Unger. "And Roosevelt always wanted the best for America. FDRI think, therefore, it may be assumed that he would have wanted very much for this campaign to take place."

As early as next week, the decomposed, rigid husk of Roosevelt is expected to begin making campaign stops in cities and towns across America.

Partially animated in marionette fashion with support rods and puppet strings, the beloved remains will deliver campaign speeches on a whistle-stop tour of American towns, assisted by an actor speaking from behind a screen.

Unger dismisses concerns that Roosevelt's deteriorating condition may render him unable to govern effectively.

"The remains in question are still recognizably those of Roosevelt. Yes, we are now required to glue his spectacles and cigarette holder to his face, and his deteriorating eyeballs will need to be replaced with glass copies, but these are simple, academic matters. As long as the weather remains relatively warm and dry, and the Secret Service continues to treat the corpse with smelling salts and formaldehyde, good ol' FDR will see us through."

President Truman, meanwhile, has been instructed to step down from the presidency in order to serve as running mate to the deceased body. Said Unger, "We feel the demands of running the country will be too great a distraction for Truman to be able to effectively fill the job to which he is best suited - right-hand man to the great FDR. Roosevelt's incomparable experience and wisdom combined with Truman's viable physical body will be the team to beat in '48."


I swear to God, even the most callous1 of Lantana editors would shove this one back into the developer. What?The presses at the World Weekly News would have to make do with:

"Baby Dies in Spin Cycle ... Immigrant AuPair Misunderstands 'Watch Baby' Order.""

Or, some similarly tasteful article about human foibles.

At first I thought it was some Rock Band's big fiddle, all packed and ready to go as checked luggage. And, is that a 'groupie' paying homage to the strings of some Super-Star?

"Not so," said Watcharee. According to the text, the not so cleverly disguised object is a dead monk. He hung himself because a fellow monk chided him for making a bad loan.

On Monday Watcharee and I are leaving for America, for just a short visit. This is sort of a last minute decision.


1 Word's Thesaurus helpfully suggests: heartless, unfeeling, coldhearted, insensitive, cold, cruel, pitiless, thick-skinned and hard.


Next: Part Six

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