Songkran Approaches, Part I

After March in Bangkok

April 1-7, 2004

Thursday, April 1, 2004 (April Fool's Day) [Dedicated to Sandra, formerly of 'Sandra & Ken']

It happened yesterday, so this is no April Fool's Joke!

The monks (two of them ... operating independently and without knowledge of each other's efforts) had decided that the most auspicious time for us to take delivery of our new car was at 9:29AM (Bangkok time) on March 31st.

Of course, 'ethereal' trappings and offerings had to accompany this otherwise commercial transaction. The pictures themselves tell the full story. All, save for the panorama shot, were filmed on the premises (*) of the Mercedes dealer ... the 'in-house' shrine is a convenience not offered by many car dealers.


(*) The 'spirit house' is located on the pedestrian-way directly in front of the showroom. Though Buddhism does not embrace 'spirits', most Thai people are wedded to both. Perhaps, like with corporate donors to political causes, it is wisest to give with both hands.


Friday, April 2, 2004

Yesterday morning Watcharee drove (*) the new machine to Ayutthaya for the family blessing. Nine hundred and ninety-nine (**) baht ... (9 hundred-baht bills, 4 twenties, a ten baht coin, a five baht one and a one baht coin) ... were placed on the dashboard by Watcharee's mother. Her grandmother sat in the passenger seat and offered prayers for the safety of all the occupants (current and future). The various aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews looked on (with what emotions I do not know).

An al fresco lunch (near the car) followed.

Watcharee's grandmother chewed her beetle nuts (***).

After naps everyone went home.


(*) I drove it back to Bangkok (already we are having fights as to who gets to drive).

(**) 999 is a lucky number in Thailand. 666 is not.

(***) "From the Middle East through Asia to Solomon Island this fruit growing on palmtrees is even more popular than alcohol and cigarettes. The nut is wrapped in the leaf of the betel pepper and sprinkled with burnt lime, catechu gum from the Malayan acacia tree and nutmeg, cardamom or other species. This is placed in the mouth and sucked on for several hours. Arecoline, a central nervous system stimulant, is released from the nut by the action of saliva and lime. It increases respiration and decreases the work load of the heart. Betel leaf has mild stimulating properties. Frequent use of beetle nuts stains mouth, gums, and teeth deep red. Long-term overuse of beetle nut is said to weaken sexual potency."


PS: As to the 'abs' girl; no one guessed correctly. Here she is in full form.


PPS: This is the 'abs' girl in full uniform ... posing with Ning exactly a month ago; well, on March 1st.


Saturday, April 3, 2004 (pre journal)

The library at THOCBDC has picked up a new book: TALES OF THE WEIRD, by Ralph Stead. From time to time it will snip pieces from it for your reading pleasure. And a separate room at the House will be set aside for readers who want to pass more time with Mr. Stead.

Today's story is about Charles and his very short life:

CHARLES CHARLESWORTH
WHO DIED OF OLD AGE AT THE AGE OF SEVEN

The aging process affects us all at different rates. Some people of fifty-three, like the esteemed author, look a mere thirty-five, with sparkling brown eyes, a handsome gait and the virility of a steam train. Others, like the author's friend Colin, look like little middle-aged men at twenty-one with middle-aged outlooks of set ways and planned futures. In women the former condition is common but women rarely suffer from the latter, being fired with the insatiable drive of ambition for either an independent and distinguished career in a still male-dominated world, or a home and seven children by the time they are thirty followed by an independent and distinguished career as a Cheltenham councillor or a public relations agent for Jonathan Cape, in later life.

No such luck for Charles Charlesworth, who was born on the 14th of March, 1829, in Stafford. At the age of four Charles had a beard and was sexually active.

In the final three years of his life his skin wrinkled, he developed varicose veins, shortness of breath, grey hair, senile dementia and incontinence. Some time in his seventh year he fainted and never gained consciousness.

The coroner returned a verdict of natural causes due to old age.


Saturday, April 3, 2004 (post-pre-journal)

THOCBDC is on many mailing lists; but the Church Bulletin of The Landover Baptist Church is always a first read when the mailman knocks. In today's rag the good sisters of the church tell its women that the Lord loves that rag too.

This is the first time that the Landover Baptist Church's women's auxiliary has been into the wet spot ... and its men folk only dare poke about such places when it's dry.


PS: Reader S.B writes:

Subj: Mr. Stead
Date: 4/3/2004 11:35:43 PM SE Asia Standard Time
From: stephenxxx@xxxxquality.com
To: Alf@corkscrew-balloon.com

Hi Alf,

Mr. Stead is *Ralph Steadman* the
British caracaturist, methinks, it's
just that his drawings are better than
his handwriting ;-)))

Stephen

PS. I loved the Easter Bunny pieces, thanks.


Sunday, April 4, 2004 (pre-journal)

Reader demand has forced THOCBDC to toss out another installment from Steadman's TALES OF THE WEIRD. But note, all of the paragraphs save for the first two and the eighth are phrased, put together and punctuated in 17th century English ... as are the last 24 words in the first sentence of the leading paragraph.

FLORAM MARCHAND
THE GREAT WATER-SPOUTER

In the summer of 1650, a Frenchman named Floram Marchand was brought over from Tours to London, who professed to be able to 'turn water into wine, and at his vomit render not only the tincture, but the strength and smell of several wines, and several waters.' Here - the trick and its cause being utterly unknown - he seems for a time to have gulled and astonished the public to no small extent, and to his great profit.

Before, however, the whole mystery was cleared up by two friends of Marchand, who had probably not received the share of the profits to which they thought themselves entitled. Their somewhat circumstantial account runs as follows.

'To prepare his body for so hard a task, before he makes his appearance on the stage, he takes a pill about the quantity of a hazelnut, confected with the gall of a heifer, and wheat flour baked. After which he drinks privately in his chamber four or five pints of luke-warm water, to take all the foulness and slime from his stomach, and to avoid that loathsome spectacle which otherwise would make thick the water, and offend the eye of the observer.'

'In the first place he presents you with a pale of luke-warm water, and sixteen glasses in a basket, but you are to understand that every morning he boils two ounces of Brazil thin-sliced in three pints of running water, so long till the whole strength and colour of the Brazil is exhausted; of this he drinks half a pint in his private chamber before he comes on the stage.'

'Before he presents himself to the spectators, he washes all his glasses in the best white-wine vinegar he can procure. Coming on the stage, he always washes his first glass, and rinses it two or three times, to take away the strength of the vinegar, that it may in no wise discolour the complexion of what is represented to be wine.'

'At his first entrance, he drinks four and twenty glasses of luke-warm water, the first vomit he makes the water seems to be a deep claret: you are to observe that his gall-pill in the morning, and so many glasses of luke-warm water afterwards, will force him into a sudden capacity to vomit, which vomit upon so much warm water, is for the most part so violent on him, that he cannot forbear if he would.'

'Having then made his essay on claret, he will then bring forth claret and beer at once into several glasses; now you are to observe that the glass which appears to be claret is rinsed as before, but the beer glass not rinsed at all, but is still moist with the white-wine vinegar, and the first strength of the Brazil water being lost, it makes the water which he vomits up to be more of a pale colour, and much like our English beer.'

He will then, in succession, bring up pale Burgundian wine, sack and finally white wine.

'It is also to be considered that he never comes on the stage (as he does sometimes three or four times a day) but he first drinks the Brazil water, without which he can do nothing at all, for all that comes from him has a tincture of the red, and it only varies and alters according to the abundance of water which he takes, and the strength of the white-wine vinegar, in which all the glasses are washed.'


PS: I thanked reader S.B. for enlightening me yesterday as to who authored TALES OF THE WEIRD. His reply suggests that THOCBDC might, in fact, be dealing with Steadman himself.

Subj: Mr. Stead
Date: 4/4/2004 11:18:22 AM SE Asia Standard Time
From: stephenxxx@xxxxquality.com
To: Alf@corkscrew-balloon.com


Sunday, April 4, 2004

LEGANES, Spain (CNN) -- The Tunisian identified by the Spanish government as the ringleader of the March 11 bombings in Madrid was among four suspects killed Saturday in an explosion, the Spanish interior minister says.

The suspects, chanting in Arabic, set off the blast while police were pursuing them Saturday night at a four-story apartment building, Angel Acebes said.

The bodies of the suspected Tunisian ringleader, Sarhane Ben Abdelmajid Fakhet, 35; Abdennabi Kounjaa, a Moroccan in his late 20s; and another Moroccan identified as Asri Rifat Anouar were found in the wreckage of Saturday night's blast, Acebes said. The fourth suspect has not been identified, and two other suspects apparently got away before police sealed the area, he said.


Sarhane Ben Abdelmajid Fakhet was quick off the mark to shriek "God is Great! There is only one God and Mohammed is his prophet". Abdennabi Kounjaa and Asri Rifat Anouar were instantly pissed: "May your mother's cunt be ravaged by the snout of a pig", Kounjaa shouted. "And may your sister suck the balls of a rabbi", Anouar hissed. "We were supposed to do this God thing together ... no way are you going to have first pick of the virgins. I'll pull the fucking pin before you do."

He did.

'KERR ... WHAMP' ...... followed by the splattering sound of hunks of flesh and wrenched organs ricocheting off walls and crashing through glass.

Far far away and high high above, Mohammed Atta whacked the side of his rabbit eared B&W Zenith, as if this would clear away the smoke. He really didn't care how many more of them blew themselves apart ... the place was already so crowded that a thousand more wouldn't make his life any more miserable.

The sobs of disillusionment were gone. He'd eaten the last of the 72 albino raisins long ago ... how ironic that they had been bitter. More than two and a half years had passed since Mohammed Atta had torqued his pirated flight into one of the towers of the World Trade Center ... and what did he have to show for it.

There were no virgins. There was no heaven. There was no God. The place was run by a bipolar kid who liked to tear the wings off flies, pour lighter fluid on frogs and give kittens cherry-bomb suppositories. And that's when he wasn't torturing humans.

Mohammed Atta's old TV never saw the two who ran away.


Monday, April 5, 2004 (pre-journal)

Steadman doesn't say ... but Guillaume must have been French.

GUILLAUME DE NITTIS
WHO TRIED TO EAT HIMSELF

So depressed was Guillaume de Nittis with nature, God and the deformities bestowed upon him, that he set about eating himself into shape. He got no further than eating his stump of a forearm before he was arrested and charged with disturbing the peace, indecent exposure and grievous bodily harm. He was placed in protective custody in the prison hospital, but became morose, uncooperative and refused to eat the prison food. He was placed in solitary confinement, and while there proceeded to eat off his left foot.

He was restrained and put into a straight jacket for his own good but de Nittis managed to chew through the straps and release himself sufficiently to eat what he considered to be unsightly appendages of his form. The prison doctor succeeded in obtaining an explanation from the wretched creature who told him that God was such a poor sculptor that he was trying to help rectify the shameful state of affairs.

Told that he would surely die if he persisted with this gruesome habit, Guillaume replied that he would continue until only his teeth were left which were the only perfect thing in his body. Guillaume de Nittis died of shock a week later on July 4th, 1876, aged thirty-two years, exactly one hundred years after the American War of Independence, when he bit off his testicles to celebrate the event -- which strikes the author as exceptionally weird.


Monday, April 5, 2004 (full metal jacket journal)

Today was Ning's last day as a guest at the Oriental Fitness Club before she has to fly back to Miami to join the good ship IMAGINATION. She does not want to leave Bangkok. And we don't want her to leave. Her next return to Bangkok will be after her seven month contract expires in November.


Tuesday, April 6, 2004 (pre-journal)

Yikes! Another 'frog'. Bush needs to read this stuff.

CHARLES DOMERY
THE REMARKABLE GLUTTON

Charles Domery, a native of Benche, on the frontiers of Poland, at the age of twenty-one, was brought to the prison of Liverpool in February, 1799, having been a soldier in the French services on board the Hoche, captured by the squadron under the command of Sir J. B. Warren, off Ireland.

He was one of nine brothers, who, with their father, were remarkable for the voraciousness of their appetites. They were all placed early in the army; and the peculiar craving for food with this young man began at thirteen years of age.

He was allowed two rations in the army, and by his earnings, or the indulgence of his comrades, procured an additional supply.

When in the camp, if bread or meat were scarce, he made up the deficiency by eating four or five pounds of grass daily; and in one year devoured 174 cats (not their skins) dead or alive; and says, he had several severe conflicts in the act of destroying them, by feeling the effect of their torments on his face and hands: sometimes he killed them before eating, but when very hungry, did not wait to perform this humane office.

Dogs and rats equally suffered from his merciless jaws; and if much pinched by famine, the entrails of animals indiscriminately became his prey. The above facts are attested by Picard, a respectable man, who was his comrade in the same regiment on board the Hoche, and who had often seen him feed on those animals.

When the ship on board of which he was had surrendered after an obstinate action, finding himself, as usual, hungry, and nothing else in his way but a man's leg, which was shot off, lying before him, he attacked it greedily, and was feeding heartily when a sailor snatched it from him, and threw it overboard.

While he was in prison, though plentifully supplied by eating the rations of ten men daily, he complained he had not the same quantity, nor indulged in eating so much as he used to do, when in France.

The eagerness with which he attacked his beef when his stomach was not gorged resembled the voracity of a hungry wolf, tearing it off and swallowing it with canine greediness. When his throat was dry from continued exercise, he lubricated it by stripping off the grease of the candles between his teeth, which he generally finished at three mouthfuls, and wrapping the wick like a ball, string and all, sent it after at a swallow. On recapitulating the whole consumption of one day, it stands thus:

Raw cow's udder.............................4 pounds
Raw beef...................................10
Candles.....................................2
Total......................................16 pounds, besides five bottle of porter.

From such a subject as this the heart naturally revolts, and we are happy in closing so disagreeable a biography. May future records never be stained with another so detestable a creature as Charles Domery -- so appalling to every natural and civilized feeling, so degrading to the human character. There are numerous instances of voracity in existence, but none so revolting to humanity as this.


Tuesday, April 6, 2004 (Hard Core Journal)

Kiang Seam Jeng! This is probably the man's name ... since he has his picture both on the box and the bottle there is no logical reason for him to hold back on his identity. Under this presumed name is "(Narong N.R. Brand)" ... which obviously stamps this as the lead item from the House of Jeng. And, suggests that the firm also offers elixirs of all kinds to the public; though, no doubt, this particular mixture is his top of the line juice. Nicely packaged in a colorful and sturdy box, the bottle and accompanying 'shot' glass stand proudly in any medicine cabinet.

But what does it do for the stomach?

Priced at about $70.00 a bottle it is an absolute bargain ... if you believe the blurb. A week's treatment (a half-shot, morning and night) sends cancer into total remission. Smaller doses ward off heart attacks. Rubbed on the skin it prevents aging. Sprinkled on the bed it holds evil spirits at bay. Its only side effect: the prolongation and intensification of orgasms.

Its marketing-savvy 45% alcohol content on top of a 5% solution of codeine phosphate certainly give each of its above 'therapeutic' virtues a very smart jump-start.


PS: Watcharee's Chinese aunt gave her this bottle of "Narong N.R. Brand" ... to attack the pains that usually accompany a woman's 'monthly curse'.


Wednesday, April 7, 2004 (pre journal)

JOSEPH CLARK
THE POSTURE MASTER

This man was a very extraordinary posture master who resided in Pall Mall. Though well made, and rather gross than thin, he exhibited, in a most natural manner, almost every species of deformity and dislocation. He frequently diverted himself with the tailors, by sending for one of them to take measures of him, and would so contrive it as to have a most immoderate rising in one of his shoulders: when the clothes were brought home, and tried upon him, the deformity was removed to the other shoulder; upon which the tailor asked pardon for the mistake, and altered the garment as expeditiously as possible, but, upon a third trial, he found him perfectly free of the blemish about the shoulders, though an unfortunate lump appeared upon his back. In short, this wandering tumour puzzled all the workmen about town, who found it impossible to accommodate so changeable a customer. He dislocated the vertebrae of his back, and other parts of his body, in such a manner that Molins, the famous surgeon, before whom he appeared as a patient, was shocked at the sight, and would not even attempt his cure. He often passed for a cripple among persons with whom he had been in company but a few minutes before. Upon these occasions he would not only change the position of his limbs, but entirely alter the figure of his countenance. The powers of his face were more extraordinary than the flexibility of his body. He would assume the uncouth grimaces that he saw at a Quaker's meeting, the theatre, or any other public place. He died about the beginning of King William's reign, as it appears from Evelyn's Numismata that he was not living in 1697.


Ellie's Journal: Day 1

This morning when I woke up I was so excited about going to Thailand. The past couple of days my Mom has been packing like a maniac, while I was packing as slow as a sloth. At about 11 am we left to the airport. This morning, before we left, I put some chocolate in my pocket ... this was a bad idea. On the plane, after flying for about an hour and a half, I felt in my pocket. There was something stuck in it. I stuck my hand in and took out some melted chocolate! Our flight is about 9 hours ... I guess it will be a sticky one. I'm going to nod off now. P.S. More later.

We're finally at the hotel after 17 hours on the airplane. Alf and Watcharee snuck into the security area of the airport and met us as we got off the plane. We are staying at the fabulous Oriental Hotel. When we arrived, they gave us special bracelets made out of flowers. When we got to our rooms we found special chocolates. They were really good. I had a hazelnut one. We got special orange juice, it was also so good. Flora and I got into our striped pajamas and pretended to be tigers and hide in the small drawers. Flora then turned on Scooby-doo. In the bathroom they gave you: shower caps, soap, nail kit, shampoo, conditioner, sewing kit, bubble bath, cotton balls, talc, detergent, toothbrush, moisturizer and a razor kit. That's a lot. Well it is 3:00 in the morning, better go to bed (even though I am not tired).


Wednesday, April 7, 2004 (Main Bit)

Late at night (actually at 12:17AM on the 8th) Patty and her two daughters, Ellie (age 9) and Flora (age 3) arrived from Tokyo feeling very red-eyed (*).

Within an hour they were checked into the Honeymoon Suite at The Oriental.


(*) Photo Shop 7.1.5 allows for the 'addition' of red-eyes to what would otherwise be normal pupils.


Password Protected


Wednesday, April 7, 2004 (After Bits)

For this trip to Bangkok Patty brought along a little Sony digital camera ... a cute thing that uses a Memory StickTM. It's about the size of half a pack of Marlboro King Filters, but the photos that it takes are almost indistinguishable in quality from my Nikon 5700.

These were taken either just before she left Seattle or while she was on the plane.

Next: Part II

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