Bangkok in the Heart of Winter, Part VIII

Between Part VII and Part IX

March 10-16, 2002

Sunday, March 10, 2002

Recently the Bangkok Post has started to highlight one section of the Constitution of Thailand on its front page ... upper left corner: a 'masthead' ... do we call it that? (If you know a more correct term, email me at alf@corkscrew-balloon.com.)

Article 39 of the Thai Constitution:

Freedom of thought and expression is guaranteed and official censorship of newspapers, radio or television is prohibited except in times of war or unless laws are enacted to preserve national security, individual privacy, maintaining public order or good public morals.

The Sunday Thai Rhat has never involved itself in politics, economics or religion; nor has the Bangkok Daily News ... at least to my knowledge. For these papers of great national circulation the lives of super stars, sexy models and the horrific deaths of anyone is all the news that is fit to print.

This morning's Rhat has one model and two deaths. The man lying on the road probably speaks for himself: run over by a car or gunned down by his enemies. The red-shirted man slouched in the passenger seat ... with white vomit coming from his mouth ... is harder to figure out. The inset picture shows a boy eating a stick of what appears to be candy or some exotic fruit ... the connection is not apparent.

Last Sunday I asked one of Watcharee's uncles about the ... ah ... heavy presence of gore on the front pages of the great dailies. He said (translated, of course): "Wouldn't be news if someone didn't die."1

Wescott:

Forty Armenian Martyrs
DIED 320

While Christianity triumphed in the West under Constantine, the Eastern emperor, Lucinus, required his entire army to sacrifice to the old deities. Forty soldiers in Armenia refused. They were all exposed naked on a frozen lake, with a hot bath on shore to tempt them. One of them fled to it and died, of shock or of shame. One of the officers in charge of this sportive persecution saw angels descending with their hands full of crowns, and immediately stripped and claimed the fortieth crown for himself. At dawn the youngest soldier was still alive, and the authorities pardoned him, because of his admirable vitality; but his mother arrived and persuaded him to die; so he leaped in among the bodies of his friends as they were being cremated.

NEWNES:

Malloy:

Yesterday I facetiously wrote that it appeared that Saint Pacianus probably died at about 3 o'clock. I said that there could be no other logical interpretation of his entry in Englebert's Lives of the Saints.2

A keen-eyed reader, JB of netnet.net, writes:

Subj: " ... died about 3."
Date: 3/10/2002 3:00:44 AM SE Asia Standard Time
From: jfbrehm@netnet.net
To: Alf@corkscrew-balloon.com

Sir; That "3" seems to be a misprint (a truncated date), as all the chronicles I can find online indicate St. Pacianus died in the late 4th century and, as further evidence no time of day is ever cited. Below is a clip from his entry at http://www.catholic-forum.com Hope this helps. As ever, JB

PACIAN of Barcelona - Also known as Pacianus

-Memorial: 9 March -Profile: Married and a father; his son Dexter was high chamberlain to Emperor Theodosius. Bishop of Barcelona. Wrote on ecclesiastical discipline. Saint Jerome wrote about him, praising his eloquence, learning, chastity, and holiness of life. Pacian wrote, "My name is Christian, my surname is Catholic."
-Died: c.390 at Barcelona, Spain


For our PCC enthusiasts here is an 'out-take' of Gift, Amma and Ohmy "pre-shirting".3


1 There is a Thai language newspaper that does cover the 'other' news. Printed by hand, using wood-block type, it sometimes can be seen around the universities.

2 "Bishop of Barcelona, died about 3."

3 "Pre-shirting" is a very rough translation. The full translation, to 'English' ears would sound labored: "Looking at the shirts, as a group and as individuals ... that the shirts are looked at as a group and individually AND that Gift, Amma and Ohmy are looking at the shirts in their individual capacity and looking at the shirts as a group of individuals ... in anticipation of putting on the shirts individually and as a group."


Monday, March 11, 2002

The House of Corkscrew Balloon Dot Com -- in its never flagging effort to bring you ... our valued readers ... useful advice -- is proud to introduce a new service: auspicious times to do those things ... strange, pedestrian and/or boring ... that you might just get around to doing at any old time without any thought as to where the moon is. Well, that old standby, the Farmers' Almanac, suggests that the moon is your friend in these times of need ... nudging you to do certain things (on specific dates) only when the moon is ... simultaneously, at 7:00a.m. Eastern Standard Time (USA) and 7:00p.m. Southeast Asia Time ... at some 'magic' place in the zodiac.

From the FARMERS' ALMANAC 2002

It's widely believed by many Almanac followers that when the Moon occupies a particular place in the Zodiac each day at 7:00 a.m. EST, it can play an important role in achieving the best possible results for certain activities. Here are a few popular best days as published in the 2002 Farmers' Almanac.

Below is the activity followed by the day of month.

March 2002

Bake 16, 17, 23, 24
Can fruits and vegetables 3-5, 31
Cut hair 1, 2, 6, 7, 11-15, 29, 30
Castrate farm animals 6-15
Dry fruits and vegetables 6-7
Harvest 5-1
Hunt 13-20
Fish 23 mo, 24 mo, 31 mo
Make jams or jellies 3-5, 11, 12
Mow to retard growth 1-11, 27-28
Mow to increase growth 13-27
Wean 6-15
Quit a habit or quit smoking 6, 7, 11, 12, 28

For the Best Days for digging post holes, prunning trees and more consult the 2002 Farmers' Almanac.

NEWNES:

Malloy:


Korkenzieher VINIM

On Wednesday, March 13, 2002, the Patpong Corkscrew Club (Thailand) will conduct a special meeting to discuss the design and operation of the Korkenzieher VINIM, Metallguß verchromt, Spindel beschichtet, H 16 cm, 06 5825 7920. The meeting will be held at our usual table in the lobby bar of the Dusit Thani Hotel in Bangkok. It will be called to order at 7:30p.m. (Southeast Asia Time). Those PCC members who have already expressed their intention to be present are Ning, Gift, Ohmy, Amma and myself. The first order of business will be to read 'apologies' from those PCC members who are not able to be with us.


Tuesday, March 12, 2002 (Feast of Saint Gregory the Great)

NEWNES:

Yesterday I cabled invitations to all the members of the Patpong Corkscrew Club (Thailand) informing them of tomorrow night's special meeting.1

This morning, by return wire, I received three apologies.

The first was from Don Bull (apparently no relation to the composer, John Bull, whose death we mourn today). Don's 'regret' is detailed and qualified; hedged and excuse laden; and in it he shamelessly squeezes a plug for his own Southern Methodist League Corkscrew Club (SMLCC). Furthermore, in words, he makes a thinly veiled attempt to get into the pants of Ning, Gift, Amma and Ohmy:

March 11, 2002, 11PM EST

Alf, the Patpongettes and other attendees of the March 13, 2002 PCC meeting

My sincere apologies for missing this meeting. Sadly, the notice was short and I was unable to change the planned special meeting of the SMLCC (http://www.bullworks.net/virtual/smlcc/members.htm). I was just getting ready to send out a notice when the email announcement arrived. This very important SMLCC meeting was to be held on March 13 (quite coincidentally) to personally interview any individuals on the waiting list (Alf note: Somewhere on your site is that "waiting list" page!). I had hoped that the applicants Ning, Gift, Ohmy, and Amma would come but, sadly, they are already planning to attend the conflicting PCC meeting. Now that I know that, I have decided not to invite any SMLCC members at this time however I will personally conduct interviews in Room 69 of the Wirtz Inn and Spa on the night of the 13th.

A special message to Ning, Gift, Ohmy, and Amma: Please don't be disturbed by this sad turn of events. You are still on the active waiting list and I am looking forward to interviewing each of you personally when we can arrange a suitable time. Enjoy the PCC meeting and think of me as I will be thinking of you.

All the best,

Don Bull
PCC Member No. 2


The second one is from Laurie F. Jones. Hers is so short that it smacks of insincerity. It gives no reason ... it is even vague as to what she is saying she is sorry for ... so we are left with the feeling that she just does not want to do something. But, since she is a lawyer we must assume the very worst:

It is with deep regret that must convey my apologies to the Club.

LFJ


The final apology is one filled with genuine remorse. Kindness and concern drip from every word. The pen in this hand belongs to a fine Southern lady:

Dear Fellow Members of the Patpong Corkscrew Club,

Please accept my apology for not being at tonight's meeting. Believe me, I'd rather be there with you, than here in Arkansas. Bangkok is more exciting, and I know it's bound to be more fun!

You women are so beautiful, I would look like an ugly old lady, but I would still enjoy being there with you, and our friend, Alf.

Have a nice meeting, and I'll be with you in spirit.
Philly


This evening Watcharee had her head cut off in a horrible barbershop accident while a monk looked on.


1 On Wednesday, March 13, 2002, the Patpong Corkscrew Club (Thailand) will conduct a special meeting to discuss the design and operation of the Korkenzieher VINIM, Metallguß verchromt, Spindel beschichtet, H 16 cm, 06 5825 7920. The meeting will be held at our usual table in the lobby bar of the Dusit Thani Hotel in Bangkok. It will be called to order at 7:30p.m. (Southeast Asia Time). Those PCC members who have already expressed their intention to be present are Ning, Gift, Ohmy, Amma and myself. The first order of business will be to read 'apologies' from those PCC members who are not able to be with us.

Korkenzieher VINIM


Wednesday, March 13, 2002

This cable from Nick "Down-under" Hunt arrived just as the gavel opened the show. His apology made the 'Minutes' by seconds.

Dear Alf, Patpongettes and ALL Patpong Corkscrew Club Members,

I regretfully have to inform you that I will be unable to attend this Special Club meeting. It is with heavy heart that I had to make this decision.

As Club member (no.2) Don has mentioned in his e-mail, that the SMLCC is also having a meeting and I was going to apply for membership at this club, I am torn between the two. Being situated in Australia, (Down-under), and located in-between the two countries I would only be able to choose one! This is just not on. I would like to keep everyone happy, so my decision is to stay in the middle.

I am very much looking forward to attend a meeting of the Patpong Corkscrew Club and hope this can be achieved in the next couple of months. I will be in touch with (NO.1) to see if this is possible.

I hope you all have a wonderful time and there are alot of 'screwy' stories exchanged. I look forward to reading all about it.

Kind regards
All the best

Nick Hunt
PCC Member (No. ?)

Photos of our meeting are but three. My camera battery died before Gift and Amma arrived: so, only Ning and Ohmy are here, 'proof-positive'.

After the apologies and regrets were nodded into the Minutes the conversation steered away quickly from corkscrews and into the topic of Elephant Polo. As the PCC's 'core' membership will form the bulk of The Screwless Tuskers team they were terribly keen to know more. Rather than directing them to the Rules of Elephant Polo, I just showed them a photograph of one of us sitting on an elephant (driven by a mahout) and hitting at a ball with a long stick.

The meeting then adjourned to the Dusit Thani's Thai restaurant; and after that there was no further discussion of corkscrews or elephant polo. Ohmy told us about her wonderful week in Singapore. All three talked about their marvelous diets. After several hours everyone went home. We agreed to meet next week, and every week thereafter right up until the start of Michaelmas Term.1

NEWNES:

Wescott:

Ansovinus
DIED 816

On his way to Rome to be made a bishop, Ansovinus, or Ansewin, stopped at an inn for a drink. The man who kept it was a boor; the wine had been watered; and one was expected to drink from the bottle. So Ansovinus asked to have it poured into his hood; the water ran out, leaving pure wine; it was a lesson to the landlord.

Malloy:


1 September 29th.


PS Don't miss next week. We are casing a new candidate for The Screwless Tuskers. She may come to the next meeting.


Thursday, March 14, 2002

Dear reader, last November this journal took some liberties in allowing you into the editor's office over at the Bangkok Daily News. It had been a particularly action packed preceding 24 hours and the editor obviously wanted the day's production run to carry some upper management consensus (albeit, token) as to the 'stacking order' of the stories.

Briefly, let's go back almost half a year to that moment when the man who sat in the big chair earned his big bahts:


[Office of the Editor ... Bangkok Daily News ... deadline time ... three hands waving for the editor's eye]

"Baby Soup!"

"Jumper!"

"Blows Brains Out Over Girl Friend's Lesbian Lover!"

[Editor swivels his chair to face his river view, cutting off any more discussion]

"Let's lead with the baby soup. Upper right! A full quarter panel! Make sure the baby's little hand coming out of the broth is sharp and clear; try to show the kid's open eye, the little twisted mouth. And, crop the damn thing as if the baby is being served up as some sort of weird main dish. Next: two of the jumper; a vertical showing the actual plunge ... keep the tower, shows how high the fucker fell; right next to it stick a square shot showing the guys sloshing through the water with the broken body. Last: The suicide over the girl friend's lessie lover ... well, it's not a great picture; let's use it on the fold ... and tell Somachi next time to move in closer, show more skin."


This afternoon, through the mail slot of The House of Corkscrew Balloon Dot Com has 'fallen' a complete set of photographs showing how this particular batch of baby soup was made. While the Bangkok Daily News was content to show just the finished dish, the chef responsible for its creation has decided to reveal and share with all the world his cooking tips in the preparation of this most unusual (and probably illegal) repast.

Baby Soup
  1. Carefully remove 'offal' and other sour organs and then gently flush all orifices clean.
  2. Pack with raisins or other seasonal fruit, as well as with dried bamboo slivers if available. Marinate ham hocks in a separate dish.
  3. Simmer gently along with chicken skin and lamb liver.
  4. Bring to a furious boil for 20 minutes ... poke product frequently to make sure that it stays under the water.
  5. Allow it to air dry in a cool dry place. Dust lightly with sea salt.
  6. Wash with a generous supply of a good quality gin (like Gordon's). 'Enemize' with a hock or a chardonnay.
  7. Allow to 'age' under a strong heat lamp to ensure a crispy skin.
  8. Serve in rich base made from one 16 ounce can of Hungry Man Hearty Soup and a dozen diced chunks of pure white lard. Add vegetables to taste and for color.


NEWNES:

Englebert:

Blessed Peter of Monticello or of Treja
DIED END OF THE 13TH CENTURY

Franciscan of the Ancona Marches, friend and companion of Blessed Conrad of Offida and, like him, as the Fioretti tells, favoured with visions and ecstasies.


Friday, March 15, 2002

Yesterday I mentioned that photographic 'amplifications' of an earlier Bangkok Daily News article/picture had been the shocking part of my incoming cable traffic during the early morning. To cleverly disguise the actual source, I claimed that these were recipe cards that up-to-now were the closely guarded secret of a great kitchen. That a brilliant chef, dying of the tertiary stages of galloping consumption, had wanted the world to now know the proper way to prepare "fetus du jour." That the secret should not die with him.

I lied!

The photos came from the Comtesse DeSpair, the sole occupant of The Asylum Eclectica. From this Victorian perch she pens morbidity.1

Today, in her "Morbid Fact Du Jour," she confessed to being the intermediary ... the conduit for the baby soup pictures. She wrote:

I'm sure you've heard that rumor that they eat aborted fetuses in China or Taiwan, right? Most sources state that this is an urban legend, but Karin was kind enough to send me some photographic evidence of the practice which looks pretty damned real to me. (Can anyone provide more information on the photos, which were allegedly taken in Taiwan? I'm just having a really hard time believing their legit, especially since other photos of a man eating a fetus have been debunked.) In any event, our dear friend Alf has turned the photos into a handy how-to recipe. Obviously, the easily offended should refrain from learning how to make Fetus Soup (reference the Thursday, March 14th journal entry):

http://www.corkscrew-balloon.com/02/03/1bkk/part8.html#14

An independently conducted 'Googleization' of the Internet seems to support the view that someone thinks something strange is going on in the kitchens of Shenzen, China.2 I have been to Shenzen numerous times since 1982 (first, when it was just a sleepy little experiment in 'free trade'; later when it became a giant 'economic zone') and never once did I knowingly eat a human baby or any part of a human baby.3

NEWNES:

Wescott:

Longinus
FIRST CENTURY

The first non-Jewish Christian, the centurion who pierced Our Lord's side with a spear.5 When he rubbed his eyes with his blood-stained hands, a defect in his eye-sight was immediately remedied.

After thirty years of preaching he was arrested and brought before a blind governor. In his impatience for martyrdom, he promised the governor's eyesight should be restored if he would be so good as to condemn him. He was beheaded; the miracle took place; and the governor became a Christian.


1 Morbid Fact Du Jour is the work of one Comtesse DeSpair who sits in sullen silence at The Asylum Eclectica (http://asylumeclectica.com).

2 http://www.churchofeuthanasia.org/snuffit3/eatfetus.html

3 Of course, one never knows what's really 'under the sauce' in some of the Chinese street kitchens; and they do say that fetus does taste like chicken.

4 Does anyone know anything about Ruthenia? On the same date the Germans invaded Bohemia and Moravia; so, I'm guessing that there is a connection.

5 See "Five Wounds of Jesus."


Saturday, March 16, 2002 (A Quiet Day Before Saint Patrick's Day)

NEWNES:

This evening Watcharee and I ... Alex and his girl friend, Nuch ... and our good friend Karim went over to the Peninsula for dinner. These pictures were last minute shots: taken after dinner on the stern of the Pen's 'ferry', while all of us were on our way back to the east side of the river.


1 I think that we have dealt with Mr. Banting earlier ... as to how his 'undertaking' and his 'slimming' studies were in some way perhaps synergistic. But, "slimming" seems to be an odd word for NEWNES, especially at the time that he was putting together his Dictionary of Dates and Anniversaries. But, according to the book he was in fact talking about dieting. Andy Page may know something about this Banting fellow. Andy???


Next: Part IX

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