A Short Visit to America, Part II

Between America, Part I and Bangkok ... on the Way to Bhutan

November 1-11, 2000

Wednesday, November 1, 2000 (All Saints' Day)

I recall him from last year. I remember, at the time, being puzzled by his occupation. As he died a half-dozen years before the American Revolution, he might have been the master of a trade (or, art) that is no longer in demand. Or, perhaps, it now just operates under a different name ... though I don't know why, as the 'title' seems like something one would like to brag about. Anyway:

This one is for Christy and Bernie:

And this one is for all the Screwy Tuskers (Team - 2000). At the end of this month (about November 27th), a bunch of us will gather in Calcutta ... in preparation for this year's Elephant Polo ("e-polo") Championships ... which will again be held not far from Nepal's border with India. Our diversionary route from Calcutta to Kathmandu will take us through the Kingdom of Bhutan. But, more about this later. Oh, one more thing! One of our favorite journal writers, Tilman Smith, will combine her skill with that of photographer, Annie Erickson, to bring you the opening pages of that journal. However, once we are on the playing field, the various players will share the journal duties ... some of them you will remember. You all remember Stephani Weaver, don't you? She has been responsible for a number of previous journals (mostly balloon ones, I think). Though Stephani played #4 position last year at Tiger Tops, this year's participation will end at the Yak and Yeti ... an insensitive employer wants her back on the job. Enough for now ... here is the relevant NEWNES:

Also,

Dear reader, yesterday, in a footnote, I asked for help. In question was my memory of what happened when the last pope died ... actually, what happened when his successor was elected. I was in doubt as to whether it was white smoke or black smoke that went up the chimney when the cardinals couldn't agree as to who would be the next pope. Also, I wasn't sure if it was wet or dry straw that was mixed in with the burning ballots ... you know ... when the cardinals were trying to get the color right, to give the right signal to all the praying masses in St. Peters.

This morning I heard from Andy Page:

"Being a protestant how would I know but I think you got the colour of the smoke reversed!"

And, in a gratuitous comment about NEWNES' 1517 Luther anniversary, he adds:

Martin Luther said at W_berg

"Ih still ich ...Ich Kann nicht anders"

"Here I stand I cannot do otherwise"

Further, about NEWNES' next entry for yesterday:

Until nearly 3 years ago I lived in Davy Road for 41 years ... All the roads round about were named after inventors Edison, Remington, Cavendish etc.

Post-Scriptorily, he asks:

Are you going to vote?

Since my daughter, Patti, is rooting for someone else, I offered to skip the polls this year if she would, too ... but, she has already voted (apparently Oregon permits pre-voting), so I have to actually go to a voting booth next Tuesday in order to cancel her vote.1


1 As Florida has a lot more electoral votes than does Oregon, it would have been to her advantage to take me up on this time saving offer. Maybe she voted her principles and gave her nod to Nader. That would please me.


Thursday, November 2, 2000 (All Souls' Day)

What a wonderful day! NEWNES must be so pleased ... .I know that I am! This is a truly 'rich' lode of a day. Perhaps we owe it all to All Souls':

And, things that happened:

Could it happen in America? In this election week? Geoff Tibballs documents an incident when an incumbent political party used its power to force its people to the polls when they would rather be watching their favorite television program:

"Worried that Steptoe and Son might keep Labour voters away from the polling-booths at the 1964 general election, HAROLD WILSON persuaded the BBC to postpone transmission until 9pm on election night. Wilson estimated that the move might be worth a dozen seats to him. Labour won the election by just four seats."

Churches, too, were intimidated by the power of the 'tube'. The Church, wisely, bent to popular demand:

"The times of Sunday evening Church services in Britain were changed to avoid clashing with the 1967 adaptation of John Galsworthy's The Forsyte Saga."1

1 Tibballs notes, "Militant students in Prague postponed a rally to watch the program." Early-closing day in an unnamed Dutch city was also altered due to a lack of shoppers.


Of course, both of these things occurred in England ... during those horrible years when the Tories were out of power.

For Watcharee and me, life in this pre-election America suggests that all is well ... there is no hint of what might happen after next Tuesday. Watcharee posed for my new Nikon CoolPix ... we had dinner in a Japanese restaurant ... we ate ice cream on Las Olas Boulevard ... Watcharee petted a dog.


Friday, November 3, 2000

NEWNES gives us two dates that the on-line anniversary services surely must fail to spot:

She said they "shrieked and stamped their tiny feet in rage" ... that they were in total horror that she took their sons to a party at Hooters. How "awful" that their boys were "forced" to attend a "coming of age show" for one of "their little friends" ... in a place that "leeringly strip-mined young women" of their youth and beauty.

That was the up-shot of the birthday party ... from the moms' point of view. Annie said the "boys" loved it.

Anyway, there is a Hooters "Calendar Girl" bus parked just down the street from my house. It's 'on tour', so everyone in the neighborhood is looking forward to seeing lots of orange shorts all over the place. I'll do my best to catch some of the photo shoot, and bring it to you right here at Corkscrew-Balloon.com. In the mean time, here is a picture of the bus. Is it your basic GM 'CoachLiner', with a stretch custom body by Beverly Hills Coachworks? Help appreciated!

It is very difficult to find 'antique', old, unusual, interesting ... or, even new & boring ... corkscrews in Bangkok. As Thailand was never a colony of any European power, bottles with corks in them never caught on in Thailand. While the French were drinking themselves silly in French Indo-China ... while the Brits had their little pockets of 'civilization' in Shanghai ... little Siam contented itself with drinking the stuff straight out of the jar. Even today, wine waiters at some Bangkok restaurants have been known to take a hammer to the neck of a bottle of Smith Haut-Lafite.

So, when faced with putting together my "Best-Six" for the year 2000, I have had to be creative ... creative to the point of flirting with 'non-compliance.'1 As you know, dear reader, Watcharee and I are in Florida ... but, for only enough time to do some restocking of essentials that we want to ship back to Bangkok; not nearly enough time to 'find' a half dozen 'new' corkscrews for my "Best-Six" photo. So, I asked Watcharee to 'find' six FOR me. Her knowledge of corkscrews is ZERO.

"Watcharee, do me a favor. Go around my house ... look everywhere ... and find six corkscrews that you like ... any six ... six of them that you like ... I don't care what they look like, or how valuable they are ... just pick out six that you like. OK?"

"Are you sure?"

"Yes, I am. Will you do that for me? It'll save my ass ... big time. Please."

"OK!"


1 ICCA 'guidelines' are thankfully vague as to when a "Best-Six" is not a "Best-Six." "Permitted alternates" seem to allow almost everything under the sun.


Saturday, November 4, 2000

When NEWNES is in a roll ... well ... .this one is truly 'top drawer':

Perhaps my Patti's Sam has heard of him:

Is NEWNES wiggling on this one ... he doesn't use quotes (he NEVER does) ... anyway, what does he mean?

UK estate agents ('realtors', in the US) have come up with two helpful shortlists for prospective house sellers. One is for the seller who is keen on moving his property; the other for someone who really does not want to sell:

EAGER SELLERS:

  1. Brew coffee or bake bread just before you show the house.
  2. Lay out fresh flowers at the same time.
  3. While you are at it, light a fire in the hearth.
  4. Make sure the table lamps are turned on.
  5. Offer everyone a glass of wine (white).

'SELLERS' NOT EAGER TO SELL:

  1. Cook curry the night before ... also, cabbage.
  2. Allow the hair-filled plugholes in the bathroom to remain hair filled.
  3. Lift the toilet seat.
  4. Encourage cobwebs.
  5. A death in the house helps.

Yesterday I asked Watcharee to 'find' my "Best-Six" for 2000. Remember, Watcharee knows practically nothing about corkscrews. Before meeting me she may not have even seen one; she's Thai, and Thai people are not used to pulling corks out of anything. Her sole exposure to this thing was Berlin 2000 and frankly, I don't think her mind was in that at all. So, in essence, I was asking her 'virgin' fingers to wander about my collection and 'find' six pieces that she liked.

How is she doing? Pretty good, so far!

A hint: her first selection was something that Elide Albert also showed in his "Best-Six" for this year. But, you'll have to wait until it's all over before I'll tell you for sure.

I promise you, dear reader, that I did not give Watcharee any help. The six corkscrews that she found ... she found entirely on her own.

Far more important to our lives is next Tuesday. Anticipating the cusp of horror, we have booked passage to the Far East. Should disaster strike our country (mine, actually) we will not stand and make the best of it ... no, we shall flee and leave it to others to sort out the damage. This morning we saw a strange bumper strip: what does it mean?

Greep

Sunday, November 5, 2000 (Guy Fawkes' Day)

Born AFTER Columbus 'discovered' America, yet what is known of his work?

Born more than 400 years after Sachs, yet what is remembered of HIS ivories?

This one's for Andy Page and all the gang down at Inland Revenue:

I left Wescott back in Bangkok. Not that I miss him, but just now I was browsing in Tibballs and I came across his list of "Rarely-Invoked Patron Saints." Like Hindu Gods, there are many ... and (again like Hindu deities) some fill very tiny niches in the world of prayerdom.

Just a few:

  1. FIACRE venereal disease and taxi drivers.
  2. ANTHONY CLARET savings banks.
  3. VERONICA laundry workers.
  4. VITUS comedians and mental illness.
  5. CLARE embroiderers.
  6. ADRIAN NICOMEDIA arms dealers.
  7. MATHEW accountants.

There are others ... but they attract a much larger group of worshipers ... e.g., GENGULF for unhappy marriages.

It was my second 'home-cooked' meal in way over a year. The first was at David's house ... just the other night, when he prepared a Brazilian barbeque ... no, wait, I'm wrong ... it was the 'third', as the first was at Watcharee's aunt's house in 'up-country' Thailand, a couple of months ago. Anyway, last night Stephani and Robin cooked for us ... at their home in Cooper City. Remember them? Last seen on our Scandinavian balloon adventure, a little over a month ago? The meal was "delicious." And, it was by candlelight.

In less than three weeks we'll next see Stephani in Calcutta. Robin? Not until Istanbul.


Monday, November 6, 2000

This day in the 1600s was bad for European royalty:

NEWNES notes another death for November 6th ... some 300 years after the others died; a man about whom little is known; as usual, help appreciated:

Andy Page ... way off in Birmingham, England ... predicts a raw-vote squeaker for Bush, but an Electoral College nod toward Gore. Can this foreigner be right?

Watcharee has shown little interest in our politics.


Tuesday, November 7, 2000

NEWNES' morning must have busy! Yesterday he droned on and on about dying Royalty ... so monotonous, so boring. Hitting several markets today, there is something for everyone:

For the collector of unheard music:

Raw-religion, of course:

Our very own Screwy Tuskers should do something with this man ... even if we just have T-Shirts made ... photos needed, anyone! Perhaps Raj or Sunny can help:

Paul, can you link Curie with what The Onion said about her awhile back? Something about her "glow" being work related:

Another Indian:

Moving away from "People":

For Anna:

Last night Cindy made us mashed potatoes for dinner. While waiting for the potatoes to become thoroughly mashed, Watcharee studied Cindy's collection of refrigerator magnets. One of the magnets 'held' a photo of Cindy's dog, Leo. Later in the evening Watcharee petted Leo.

Today is Election Day in America. The eastern sun is lending a hint of 'rose' to a tiny cloud. Anticipating the disturbing events that will surely follow, Watcharee and I have changed our Far East bookings. Rather than travel across America and risk something terrible in Seattle, we are going to fly to London where we can catch one of the Trans-Asian sleepers to Bangkok.


Wednesday, November 8, 2000

Good Lord! Can it be that my Florida ... once owned by Spain ... will be the place to which the new ruler of all mankind will owe everything? That Broward County1 ... a former swamp ... will forever carry a tiny victory flag on some gas station map that shall forever hang on the den wall of some proud mom in Texas (or Tennessee)? That Fort Lauderdale ... the home of the Elbo Room ... will ultimately be responsible for all the goodness and all the bad things that shall rain down upon our planet for the next eight years? That Riviera Isles ... a 1920's land speculator's folly ... was the voting enclave that 'imposed' a final solution to the Middle East crisis and gave the Supreme Court five new justices? That "LOT25 & S1/2 26 BLK 6" was ... at the end of the day ... responsible for it all?


1 Named after a colonel in one of our Indian wars


NEWNES offers up three different deaths:

And, two normal deaths:


Thursday, November 9, 2000

As the recount continues, the gap narrows! Will it happen? Will the fate of all mankind rest upon what one man did? What one lone man did at "LOT25 & S1/2 26 BLK6"?1 My prediction is that once the difference between Bush and Gore reaches single digits we'll see a bump in the number of suicides. A trickle at first ... as we count down through "9 ... 8 ... 7"; smartly picking up as it dips below "5". With "3", Mom, Pop and Granny voting blocks will start to go. At "2", the 911 calls to condos go off the wall. At "1" popping sounds can be heard in every neighborhood.


1Of course, the most wonderfully bizarre part of this whole thing is that if IT should come down to that ... 'one vote' ... then every single eligible voter in Florida can say that his vote or (non-vote) sent the whole world down his own eight year path. And, if it's two votes ... well, that couple who drove to the polls (or, the two who spent the day drunk) can say the same thing. Once you start working with bigger numbers, it's not so clear ... the busload of geezers from Century City probably didn't vote with one voice; so, the driver who missed the turn can't rightly claim credit for the world's future grief, can he?


Until recently Thailand was most familiar with alternative ways of filling the top spot. Last year, after a massive embrace of democracy, Bangkokian voters were faced with so many choices that candidates were forced to eliminate their actual mother-given 'names' in the campaign.2 They used 'numbers' instead. Given this background, it's not surprising that Watcharee went back to doing her nails when I tried to explain that this thing in Florida "... really is most unusual and that normally ...  ."


2 Admittedly, no one in Thailand has just four letters in their name. Rather than 'GORE' or 'BUSH' on the side of a bus, Bangkok voters would have had to work with 'SUPHAPHAN PLENGMANEEPUN' or 'CHOLANDA INGRISAWANG.' Far easier is '37' or '92.'


Do you remember Chan Darat? Sometime last month the Bangkok Post carried her story under the snappy title: "Fridge Murder", or something like that. Anyway, Gary Larson's "The Far Side Gallery" desk calendar for 2001 has a cartoon that 'memorializes' it, almost to the day. I wonder if he 'retired' to The Oriental, too? Could he be that man who always has dinner with the Filipino singer?

Far Side
"Come with us, ma'am - and if I were you, I'd get a good lawyer.
No one's gonna buy that my-husband-was-only-hibernating story."


Eerily, NEWNES reports:


Friday, November 10, 2000

Innoculated

Meningococcal disease?

"I'll take my chances!"

Typhoid?

"Not even a second thought!"

Hepatitis A?

"It's practically a 'given' ... I mean, wherever you go ... isn't it?"

Malaria?

"Sort of romantic, in a way ... also, you can sweat off a few kilos while just watching TV. Right?"

I really can't blame her. The visa application droned endlessly: " ... do you believe in the American way of life ... will you promise to not take America's name in vain ... will you put no false countries ahead of her ... will you honor, obey and cherish her until ... .?"

At 3:30 this morning CNN's web chart for the FLORIDA RECOUNT froze at: "Advantage Bush 229." Text hinted that this was not the final number. Absentee ballots from as far away as Bangkok were still in the post ... little Seminole County had yet to do a second count ... befuddled blue-rinsed geezers from Palm Beach County were whimpering that something evil made them vote for Buchanan ... everywhere grumblers and malcontents were sniffing for lawyers.

"But, who won?"

It's not that simple.

"I'm packed! How about you?"

I'm ready.


NEWNES:

And,


Oh My Lord, How Thou Has Cursed This World of Ours!

Just when we thought we were going someplace safe: Today's New York Times ... but, printed right on the fold itself ... and, tucked onto an inner page ... buried under "News Summary" ... from the AP. Printed without comment.

Thai Unrest

Saturday, November 11, 2000 (Martinmas)

Rosemary never visits here; but this is for her anyway:

Bracketing Boulle were:

And,

Better known (though he who died is a harder read) are:

Connected events in London:

So pleased with my rediscovery of The Weekly World News, I have asked Lantana to ship future issues to my Bangkok address. Bundled for sporadic sea passage, they should arrive in clumps. But, like what the early "awaitees" of mail ships did, I'll 'parcel' these journalistic oeuvres carefully so as to not flood my mind.

Today's WWN 'election special' has nothing about the election. The inner pages are devoted to tragedy and worry:

Tragedy:

FAULTY WIRING TURNS KIDDIE ROCKING HORSE INTO ELECTRIC CHAIR

MONTBELIARD, France A 3-year-old girl was electrocuted as she played on a coin-operated rocking horse at a flea market, police say.

Tragic toddler Claudette Pillett became riveted to the metal horse, with her tiny hands clutching its mane, as more than 7,000 volts of electricity coursed through her body.

"Her father tried to yank her off the horse, but when he touched her, he was shocked as well and was thrown several yards away," a police spokesman said.

Investigators have not determined the cause of the accident, but they suspect faulty wiring.

The child's parents, Rene and Michelle, say the girl begged to ride the small pink riding horse and her dad helped her on.

"She rode for about 30 seconds, smiling and giggling, then sparks started to fly from the thing and she screamed," said grief-stricken Michelle. "You could see smoke pouring out of her ears."

At least 20 people witnessed the tragedy, including parents who tried their best to cover their children's eyes to shield them from the horror. A flea market employee finally shut off a breaker, cutting power to the deadly horse. Paramedics were called, but the girl could not be revived.

Yes, dear reader, these kiddy-ride tragedies are all too common these days. Perhaps Paul can link you back to the 'horror' that Linda Santarelli and I witnessed during our millennium journey to London. When another ride went 'horribly wrong' ... when twin boys were turned into 'Jell-O' after the 'snap' of a restraining cable ... when a proud and bubbling-happy father saw his two sons blended as one in a fiercely out of control"Tea-Cup-For-Toddlers".

Moving on to a real 'worry':

TALL AND BIG FOLKS ARE USING UP ALL OUR WATER, FOOD AND AIR

This WWN "editorial" warns readers:

"A remarkable array of studies show that our precious reserves of air, food and water are already being taxed to the limit by greedy, bigger-than-normal men and women."

"The fact is, anybody who weighs more or stands taller than today's average is already robbing you and your loved ones of all the fresh air, food and water you deserve."

Need we say more? I think not.

Dear reader, this 'American' journal is about to close. Later today Watcharee and I will start our return to Bangkok. Flying away from the sun, time will collapse on itself ... completing eating up Sunday with nothing to show for it. We'll return 'live' sometime early Tuesday (BKK time).

Next: Bangkok ... on the Way To Bhutan

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