Alf's First Stab at 2002, Part I

Between Paul's Bangkok New Year and Alf's First Stab, Part II

January 5-9, 2002

Saturday, January 5, 2002 [Wassail Eve (Britain)]

As I write this, Paul is probably at Narita ... changing planes ... on his way back home to Seattle. When you next hear from him (from Chateau d'Oex) he'll be operating with 'tag-team' co-writer Pauline Fjelstad. Until then we'll just have to shuffle along (here in Bangkok) in our more conventional rut ... starting with an 'exciting' update of what's going on next door at the French Embassy.

Finished, but unoccupied! That's how it looks. The workmen are gone ... the French hole is well boarded ... everything is freshly painted and plastered; but, no people are about. Watcharee and I are hoping to be invited to the inaugural garden party; being the photographers of record of all that has been going on next door, we are expecting some sort of recognition. But, they are French, so ...

The Bangkok Daily News continues to bring a little strange 'joy' to its daily contract readers ... by highlighting the suffering of others.1

Meanwhile, guests here at my own home move on with their breakfast, before moving on to the pool and/or the bar. Things have started to taper slightly as the season ages.


Leete's Island Books (New Haven) was the publisher of Wescott's "A Calendar of Saints for Unbelievers."2 Kate Emlen designed the cover. So, I assume, that Kate gets full credit for choosing the 'saint' that graced the rear cover of this Leete's Island book: January 5th's Simeon Stylites. Why he was chosen? I don't know. Any thoughts out there as to why Kate chose him for the backside?

Simeon Stylites
DIED 459

At thirty-two, having tried a variety of shocking ascetic exercises, the Syrian Simeon thought of the mode of life which made him famous, as a means of keeping his soul perpetually alert. The first pillar on which he lived was only nine feet high; at intervals he had it heightened; the last on which he died, was sixty feet high and three feet in diameter. It is uncertain whether he had learned to sleep lying down, or he got along without sleep. He seemed to pray without stopping from sundown until nine o'clock the next morning. He did not eat at all during Lent. The nomads of the Near East came in throngs; he preached twice a day and judged their differences, in the Arabian manner; and whole tribes, shouting his praises, seemed to be converted. He died at seventy. The writers of his time compared him to a blazing candle on an enormous stone candlestick.

1 Murdered son, grieving mother. [Notice how the crowds of concerned gawkers are kept at a respectful distance.]

2 Now hopelessly out of print. But, according to the publisher, a recent sale of an old copy (albeit autographed) benefited the prior owner by $300.00. I had previously moaned that I would have to have my own copy rebound.

Subj: Re: Site Visitor Contact
Date: 1/3/2002 9:17:07 PM SE Asia Standard Time

"Always good to relife a book. There are copies of the original on the rare book market, selling about $300. Signed and limited it was. PN"

Sunday, January 6, 2002 [Epiphany - Twelfth Night - Old Christmas Day - Christmas Day (Spain) - Feast of the Three Kings]

Though NEWNES notes four deaths for today, not one was remarkable for the way he or she did it. William Brownrigg (chemist), Rodolphe Kreutzer (violinist), Fanny Burney (novelist) and Theodore Roosevelt (statesman) all just "died" ... plain vanilla style. But, sprinkled throughout 2002, we'll see NEWNES amplifying some of the exits. Here is a reprint of list I posted a year or so ago:

"People" in NEWNES'S world are always walking around this place in the past tense. First, they were "born" ... later on they "died."

But, every so often, NEWNES allows them do something with a certain style. Almost always this 'something' is an elaboration on the way they leave us ... a twist in their personal path toward death ... a signature exit, so to speak ('birth', by contrast, is so limited in its menu that it next-to-never needs anything more clarifying than just plain being 'born'). And, as the roads out of here lead in so many different directions, NEWNES'S choice of exit language can be just as colorful and illuminating as the ways in which his people are dispatched to their next stop. Yes ... dear reader ... those of you who have been here with me for even a few short months have had the chance to see how the big and the great of this world ended there time on it. Most have died just plain vanilla style, but not a few have marched out of here in a rainbow of colors:

Bringing NEWNES back to today:


For today, the 6th, he has but this:

or the Visit of the Three Wise Men

[Wescott apparently felt that there was no need for amplification.]1


I damn near jumped out of my chair. I was sitting in the Patpong Internet Café ... the new one ... almost right across from The Super Queen. You know, the place where Porn used to work ... or, where I thought she used to work. Anyway, she still works there; but, this I just found out.

"Elickson, what are you doing in Bangkok?"

It was an awkward moment. I made up some terrible lie. Mercifully, the conversation didn't drift into a rocky area ... that's not saying that it picked up from where it left off 20 months ago. But, almost. Some quick finger work with Excite 1.0 allowed me to pull up, right away, four or five pictures of Porn. Since she knew the owner of the café some mollification came into play. Prints were made. I bought a round of drinks. Promises were made ... etc.

Anyway, this chance encounter got me to reminiscing: Porn, my corkscrew 'ladyboys', and my grandson's first taste of Patpong. Well, here it is ... I wrote it a few hours ago as a stand alone piece; but I think it fits well right here:

Dear reader, only hours before Paul 'picked up' the journal ... the day before Christmas ... I had just about wound up my own coverage of the first AGM of the Patpong Corkscrew Club. Well, it seems that three of our Club members3 work at a Patpong club where my grandson, Christopher, had his first encounter with Bangkok nightlife. If you click back a couple of years you can see young Christopher's gleeful face. What am I getting at? Well, many months later, my friend, Porn ... while flipping through my pages ... chanced upon his happy moment. This led to sort of an apology (on my part) ... as you can see for yourself:

PS to Christopher, with regrets:

Dear Grandson, I hope that what I am about to tell you does not take too much icing off the cake. But, according to my friend Porn, the "girl" who was entertaining you a few months ago is a "lady-boy".

(Some Hours Later I continued my 'apology'):

That little PS that I just left for Christopher has opened a little box, so to speak. Standing by itself it cries out for an explanation. For the past couple of days my friend Porn has been a useful tour guide, with benefits. I want to say a little more about her.

Two days ago I moaned pitifully about losing three of my fellow pedestrians to speeding Honda steel when we all tried to cross one of Bangkok's shooting lanes during rush hour. Yesterday, on the way to the temple, Porn led me into similar maelstrom of motorized terror. One finger, slightly raised above shoulder level, did exactly what our own Christ supposedly did to a sassy sea a long time ago. Porn, emphasized that eye contact with the driver was terribly important for this to work.

Yesterday while I was giving her a ThinkPad slide show of my newfound friends from Kings she observed that "lady boys" worked the poles with more feeling than did the girls.


(Alf, cautiously opening a door): "What do you mean?"

(Porn): "The ladies take bills."

(Alf, really puzzled): "Bills?"

(Porn, opening mouth and with an exaggerated hand motion dropping an imaginary pill into it): "Yes, and they look like they have no feeling."

(Alf, framing the obvious as a question): "So these girls aren't really girls?"

(Porn): "No, they lady boys."

(Alf, uncertain if he wants to know more): "How can you tell?"

(Porn): "They very sexy and it hard to tell if you don't know."

(Porn, laughing and volunteering): "You been coming to Bangkok many years. You probably fuck lady boy and not know it."

(Porn, laughing more and shoving my shoulder with the flat of her hand): "Haw, haw ... many fuck lady boy and never know it."

At about this point Porn (with the help of countless questions from me) quite graphically fleshed out what skilled Japanese and Bangkok physicians could do with surgical steel, stitches and silicone.

When I showed Porn the photograph of young Christopher in the arms of ... well ... someone:

(Porn): "Yes, lady boy!"

1 This visit by the three wise men ... Epiphany ... apparently took place a full 12 days after Mary had the Baby. In my own tarnished memory of the events surrounding this strange birth I had the three men riding up on camels within minutes of the Baby being born. I thought that the guiding super nova had reached peak luminosity on the 25th and that the three kings just galloped over there right away for the immediate 'post par tem'. Most manger scenes suggest this was the case; lots of little doe-eyed animals standing around all gentle like looking at a fresh cherubic face peering out from a bed of clean straw. Bags of myrrh, frankincense and gold stacked here and there. Admittedly, the Monty Python version of Epiphany [120k MPEG] admits a brief delay caused by a mistaken identity as to whether it was Christ or Brian who was entitled to all the new-born fuss.

2 Like many Thais, Porn's tongue is not happy with Rs; they come out Ls. Some of you will remember that my old girl friend, Oh, kept referring to my daughter, Annie, as my "rittle lat".

1 Just yesterday, as good fortune would have it, the Patpong Corkscrew Club (PCC) had yet another meeting. Admittedly, not as colorful as our AGM ... but one that was worthy of standing on its own legs. We met ... like with our very first meeting ... in the lobby bar of the Dusit Thani Hotel. As 'corkscrews', club toasts and member benedictions were not on our little agenda we waived the requirement of giving notice of the get-together to the other 'farang' members of our group. Our purpose of the day was just a round of drinks ... and the 'girls' wanted to show off some new clothes for the camera.

Monday, January 7, 2002 [Christmas Day (Orthodox churches)]

On the whole ... and here we are talking about several years ... Wescott's contributions to these pages has been welcome. More than a few of our readers have had the chance to read ... say, Armogastes1 [March 29th] one, two, even three times. But, of late some grumblings have started to surface; mutterings about how gloomy were the years of these 'saints'. That, perhaps, Wescott was reading too much or too little into the lives of these good people ... even making them out to be weirdoes in some cases. In other words ... they (the malcontents) are asking for a little less Op/Ed and a few more hard facts.

Fair enough!

Well, to balance things a bit ... and to be more like "Hardtalk" ... is going to take some picks directly from the source: quotes from the Big Book itself.2 Some of these won't make easy reading ... some of you might squirm, thinking that He is being too judgmental; or that He's just being ornery because, well maybe, He caught His foreskin or something in His zipper. Granted, today's words are 'harshish' ... but, by God, they came from His mouth:

(Lev 26:21 KJV) "And if ye walk contrary unto me, and will not hearken unto me; I will bring seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins."

Here is a previously unpublished picture of one of our PCC members climbing out of bed. Can you guess which one? Stumped? Go back to the AGM for a clue. Still stumped? You can write to me at

Mystery 'Girl'



DIED 664

So great was the authority of this Bishop of London that his king, Sigebert of the East Saxons, having merely visited an excommunicated gentleman, knelt in the dust of the road to beg his pardon. He died of a plague, and thirty of his monks came to where his body lay, resolved to live or die beside it; and like Hindoo widows, in the invisible infectious flames, all did die, except one small boy.

Wescott gives us another, for the same day3:

Lucian of Antioch

In prison, about to be put to death, Lucian, a man of letters, thought of a glorious variation of Christian ritual: his disciples lifted up his body, and he administered the sacrament upon it - priest, altar and sacrificial victim at once.

1 The African nobleman who was hung up by one leg yet still managed to fall into a peaceful sleep much to the annoyance of his Arian tormentors.

2 God's own words ... or something close to it ... (Hotel Bedside Table Top Drawer Version).

3 Lying in the wake of Wescott's first choice ... he is an 'understudy', so to speak ... but, of course, there is usually very little of this on most days. And, aside from the obvious super-days, like Christmas and the really big feasts, there is hardly anything to suggest why GOTHARD got February 25th or why CLAUDIA shared August 7th with CAJETAN. So is the why of CEDD and LUCIAN together! Whim? Only that? Or is there more? Wescott does not say. We are left to wonder.

Tuesday, January 8, 2002

Though you can always slam Wescott shut whenever you've had enough of his hairshirted self-flagellators and weeping virgins ... BUT, just when you think you have the bedroom shades pulled and the phone off the hook ... yep ... the Old One catches you.1 Well, the Big Man warned you yesterday ... threatening a seven-fold plague ... but, NO ... you peeked at our little 'Gift' ... [climbing out of her bed and doing her sexiest to slip quietly into her bikini undies] ... hoping to finish your look before God got his own zip sorted out. But, he was watching! He always is.


Sorry; I mean 'They'. Today we have three of them snarling at you: two from the Bible (Old and New) and one from the Koran.

"So, what do they say?"

(Jer 23:24 KJV) "Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? Saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? Saith the LORD."

Prophet (saw) said, "Allah's curse is upon women who appear like men and upon men who appear like women" (Sahih al-Jami # 4976)

(Heb 4:13 KJV) "Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do."

The Prophet (saw) said, "Allah will not look at a person (with pleasure) who commits sodomy with a man or a woman" (Sahih al-Jami # 7678)

(Psa 90:8 KJV) "Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance."

One of the aims of Islamic sharee'ah is to preserve honour and lineage, so zinaa (unlawful sexual intercourse) is forbidden. Allaah says: "In Barzakh, the punishment for men and women who were guilty of zinaa is that they will be in an oven whose top is narrow and whose bottom is wide, with a fire beneath it, and they will be naked therein. When the heat of the fire increases, they will scream and rise up until they nearly come out of the top, then when the fire decreases, they will fall back down. This will repeated over and over until the onset of the Hour." [al-Israa' 17:32]

(1 Pet 3:12 KJV) "For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil."

But, being neither Christian, Jew nor Muslim, our little PCC team can just give these Geezers a sexy smile and a little flick of the hips:

He's Not OUR God!


[from the International Herald Tribune]
1927: Fundamentalists

MACON - Out of the mind of Edwin Y. Clarke, former head of the Ku Klux Klan, comes a new secret organization designed to uphold Fundamentalism as against the theory of evolution, with promises of huge profits to the original backers of the scheme, the Macon "Telegraph" reveals today [Jan. 8]. Dedicated to a campaign for old-time religion, the secret organization will be known as the "Supreme Kingdom," and the Rev. John Roach Straton, archpriest of Fundamentalism, has been induced to accept the direction of all religious activities. In obtaining the services of Dr. Straton, Clarke has gained one of the most prominent figures in religious circles in the United States. Lately, he spent part of the year in Florida, where he devoted all of his sermons to Fundamentalism and flouted the theory of evolution in fiery language.

1952: Nutcracker Hoax

BALTIMORE - An attractive woman walked into a Baltimore bank, brandished an ominous-looking object in her coat pocket and shouted, "All right, everybody stand back!" The burglar alarm sounded, and police arrived to disarm the woman of the "weapon" - a nutcracker. Mrs. Margo Pfetcing, 28, was charged with disorderly conduct.

Locally in the news (Thai Rath): something bloody, and something with an overturned car.

1 But I'm destined for the worst ... for it was I who took the pictures:

Prophet (saw) said, "... the people who will receive the greatest punishment on the day of judgment are those who compete with Allah in creation [those who make pictures or statues]" (sahih al-Jami # 1691)

Wednesday, January 9, 2002


(Acts 15:29 KJV) "That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well."

Scrounging around in my pile of old newspapers I came across this interesting piece about the "reimplantation of amputated organs". I picked the paper up in India a couple of years ago; but the advice is still smart and, of course, terribly useful to one who gets sloppy with a band saw. At first blush ... looking at the title ... the reader is led to believe that the core of the article is about restuffing a cavity with a liver or kidney that, for some reason apparently unique to the Indian sub-continent, went missing on its own accord. Not so! The author is largely worried about refitting arms, legs and fingers. It seems that the harvesting season in India brings about a flood of loose limbs and digits that want immediate attention.1

The reference in Acts 15:29 KJV (above) to "meats", "blood" and "things strangled" is purely coincidental. As to why "fornication" is tacked into the same abstemious finger waving sentence is not explained. Perhaps its prohibition carries the same weight in God's eyes as does damning the eating of things that have been strangled.


NEW DELHI - Come the harvesting season in March-April and city hospitals get a large number of amputation cases. Most of them come either from the peripheral areas of Delhi or from the neighboring states.

But it is probable that half the cases do not reach the operating table. Either because the amputated part is not preserved well and it is already too late, or the cut is not clean enough for reimplantation.

Mostly, amputation cases that come to the five hospitals in Delhi - LNJP, Safdarjung, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Ganga Ram and Apollo - that offer reimplantation surgeries involve either industrial or agricultural workers, or accident victims.

Plastic surgeon V K Tiwari of Safdarjung hospital said, "We deal with two or three reimplantation cases every month. But we have to reject almost an equal number of cases, either because they have come too late or it is not a clean injury."

It is mainly in the case of road accident victims that the cut is not clean. The limb is pulled out and the damage is extensive. "Reimplantation in accident cases is rarely successful," said R B Ahuja, head of burns and plastic surgery, at the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan hospital.

A severed part cannot be reimplanted after the "ischaemia time" has expired - it is the duration for which an amputated part can survive without blood supply. Ischaemia time differs from case to case.

Dr Ahuja said, "Amputations have primarily been the problem of the poor. So, nobody has given serious thought to providing reimplantation service in India."

A "reimplantation service" would mean having specialised teams posted round-the-clock in hospitals so that a patient does not lose time.

In the absence of such a service, a number of problems arise. Dr Ahuja explained, "Mostly, amputation cases come in the night. A surgeon will be called from home, basic investigations will be conducted, capable assistance will have to be arranged and instruments readied. Then, an operating theatre has to be available for seven to eight hours."

Plastic surgeon R K Khazanchi at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences said, "Because amputations happen mostly among the poor, government hospitals have to take the initiative."

But, he added, hospitals cannot often do justice to amputation cases because of lack of teams dedicated to it. "Life obviously gets preference over limbs. So, if an anesthetist is busy in an operation in which it is a question of the patient's life, he or she cannot be spared for a reimplantation case."

Sometimes even the lone microscope does not work, like in Safdarjung. "Our microscope has been out of order for the past two month," Dr Tiwari said.

But the amputated part cannot wait. Though ischaemia time at normal room temperature is six hours, it will be less in a warmer climate and more in a colder climate. "If an amputated part is kept in ice or ice cold water, it may stay alive for even 10 hours," Dr Ahuja said. It is also longer for a clean cut. Ischaemia time ends after blood supply is restored to the amputated part.

Dr Tiwari said awareness about preservation of amputated parts is growing among people. "Earlier, sometimes patients would preserve amputated parts in palmolein oil. It was then a lost case. Nowadays people are more aware," he added.

Mostly, he said, toka (fodder-cutting machine) used to be the reason behind injuries on the fields. But now the machine has been redesigned, thereby reducing the number of toka amputations. "In Delhi, paper-cutting machines lead to a lot of amputations," Dr Tiwari said.

There is yet another reason why reimplantation, as a service, has not developed in Delhi. Reimplanting limbs by joining minute blood vessels together, takes several hours. But that does not relieve a surgeon from the next day's schedule.

"Today, those doing reimplantations are doing so at their own initiative. After an operation lasting seven-eight hours in the night, one still has to operate on routine cases the next day," said Dr Ahuja. "For instance," Dr Khazanchi added, "Reimplanting a finger takes four hours. Imagine one doctor reimplanting all ten fingers? It is impossible. There have to be separate teams, doing it simultaneously."


1 A visit to Si Quey's Place will convince you that some of the exhibits there could have benefited by having at arms-reach a polythene bag and a few kilos of ice. Others not.

Next: Part II

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