Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Definition Of Marriage

"Marriage is a union between a man and a woman with the aim of procreation." That's the way I learned it at law school, twenty years ago.

People bitching and moaning about gay marriage leave out the last part, the procreation part, which is a problem they don't even know that they have. The financial benefits accruing to marriage exist to assist families with children. So the procreation part is important.

Why should we let homosexuals get married? I mean, beyond the simple fact that it makes sense and seems fair? If they want families, which many of them do, that's another great reason to let them get married.

And if you are a social reactionary who is against homosexual marriage, according to the above definition, shouldn't you also be against people over the age of procreation getting married? Why should two sixty-somethings get married and get the societal perks? Or is companionship, or love, enough for them but not for homosexuals?

If some people would forget about what manipulative so-called social conservatives and self-serving values politicians are shouting in their ears, and think for themselves, this wouldn't even be an issue.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Lucio Battisti - Ma è un Canto Brasileiro

Driving through the fog on San Vicente in Santa Monica, with the headlights behind the Brazilian Pepper Trees, partaking of the sacrament, listening to this on a cassette on the Alpine, I was pretty sure that I had arrived, but little did I know, I was only half-way to nowhere.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Party Girls, Teacher's Retirement Party, Pitsanalok, Thailand

This was a nice party for a friend of mine, a grade school art teacher out in the woods in Pitsanalok. The band was these two girls and the keyboard player seen here, plus another guy singer.

The food was good too, and it was a drinking crowd, there was a bottle of Hong Thong Thai whiskey on every table, with more to back that up. (I can't drink the stuff, it's made from rice, very sweet. Luckily, I B'd my own B.)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I Love The Smell Of Spam In The Morning

Evidently, the videos connected with YouTube generate spam comments. Interesting.

Long Boat Race In Pitsanalok, Thailand

Unless you have experienced it, you have no idea how LOUD Thailand is. The announcers in this video will give you some idea. In the malls; markets; the ubiquitous festivals; schools; parties; loud, loud, loud. It's no surprise at all that hearing loss is epidemic in Thailand. It's like living in the first row of a Who concert.

The teams in these races represent provinces in the big Central Valley of Thailand: Singburi; Sakon Nakorn; Sukothai; Pichit; Pitsanalok (the host). Different regions have their own meets. I saw coverage of the Isan meet in Sisaket on the TV news.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Another Honda Dash In Bangkok

Mine was red, but this one is just like it. I've probably seen them before without knowing it, they look a lot like the later, four-stroke model Honda Nova (technically, the Dash is a "Nova Dash.")

It's a 100 cc, water-cooled two-stroke, with a six speed close-ratio gearbox.

Notice the nice, after-market rear-set pegs with the extended shifter pedal. The narrow gauge tires are a hipster add-on in Thailand, they lower the whole thing. Believe me when I tell you, this little bike, which you could pick up and throw into the back of your car with little trouble, is fast, fast, fast. Up to about sixty MPH, that is, but till then you're keeping up with almost anything.

The Old Man Store

It's in a neighborhood mall on the southern fringe of Bangkok. I have no idea why they named it "Old Man." It's more of a cowboy clothes place, great selection of bandannas, which are important accessories (i.e., sweat mops)in this tropical paradise.

The owner is a nice woman who speaks English very well. After a while I found out that her husband runs the guitar store two spaces down, where I had just passed a good time talking to him (his English was almost as good as hers).

Monday, September 13, 2010

Please Consider The Monk

The second post down is dear to my heart. It's bloody poignant is what it is, and I'd certainly appreciate it if you would be so kind as to read it.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Top Fifteen Albums You Can List In A Hurry

Someone on Facebook asked for lists of fifteen albums that came right off the top of our heads, no excess thinking or planning. Not like a “desert island” list, but albums that were important, or indispensable, or some such thing. So here goes:

“Exile on Main Street,” The Rolling Stones;

“Girls Talk,” Dave Edmonds;

“London Calling,” The Clash;

“So What?” Miles Davis;

“The Sound of Music By . . .” Pizzicato 5 (technically a CD);

“16 All Time Greatest Hits,” Bo Diddley;

“There’s a Riot Going On,” Sly and the Family Stone;

“Blond on Blond,” Bob Dylan;

“Pet Sounds,” The Beach Boys;

“Flow Motion,” Can;

“Here Come the Warm Jets,” Eno;

“White Light/White Heat,” The Velvet Underground;

“After the Gold Rush,” Neil Young;

“Eli and the Thirteenth Confession,” Laura Nyro; and

“For Your Pleasure,” Roxy Music.

I consider all of these albums, vinyl except for the P5 CD, to have been musically important, very ambitious, and artistically successful upon their release. (No offense meant to Beatles fans, but your discomfort is noted in advance! There should probably be more jazz too. But this is only me, no cosmic truth implied.)

The Old Monk At Wat Yo Tin On The Cha Prayao River In Bangkok

I went today with a couple of friends to visit an old monk in difficult straights. He’s eighty-one-years-old, but he looks a hundred. He broke a hip about a year ago, but did not obtain proper care, or a replacement, because he was considered too old. Considered thusly by whom, I do not know (could be the order, an insurance company, the government authority, a hospital, who knows?). One way or the other, the poor geezer is in constant pain.

Somehow, my friends became aware of this guy, and they have kind of adopted him. He can’t make the alms rounds, can’t get around at all, and has no money, and neither his fellows, his temple, nor his order seem inclined to offer much help, so the poor dude was actually hungry and miserable. He’s skin and bones, and he’s in despair, as it turns out.

I’d never seen a monk’s cell before, and it’s pretty interesting. Half of the small space is taken up by an alter, with a lot of bronze figures of the Buddha, some of old monks, a few candlesticks covered in melted wax, some devotional basins of various sizes, and a plate of offerings that looks like it is replenished on a regular basis (a tray with small plates of rice, pieces of fruit and what looks like kimchee, plus a small glass of water). There’s a mat against one wall that has an unspeakable cover on it and a few small, unspeakable pillows. Against the wall with the door is a unit with shelves and drawers, which has some ancient books on it, and a antique, non-functioning TV. Next to the mat is a low shelf with prayer accoutrement and a small radio that has always been on when we got there (this was my second trip). Talk radio. There’s a fan aimed at the mat, that’s always been on too.

My friends stop by a couple of times a week with some food and personal items. Some relatively non-perishable items, plus a hot, take-out lunch, a package of candles and some incense sticks in case he wants to fire up his alter. The routine goes like this: we enter the ground floor of a building, where there is a narrow hall along the front wall and three doors on the opposite wall; we kick off our shoes and someone knocks on the monk’s door and then pokes her head in; we are invited in, and he pulls himself to a seated posture and makes himself decent (he’s been lying stripped to the waist, so he puts on more of a typical robe set up); we kneel facing the mat; he blesses the new candles, and one of my friend lights a few while the monk is dressing; there’s some conversation (he never addresses me, but I can hear that he asks questions about me and seems to tolerate my presence well); the monk leads us in some prayers; the monk accepts our gifts, which are placed on the corner of a blessed cloth and pushed forward by all of us simultaneously while he holds the cloth; the monk takes up his prayer screen and holds it in front of his face while he pronounces some blessings over us. Finally, there is some more serious conversation between the monk and the more adventurous of my friends. She’s a straight talker, suffering herself (breast cancer), and they have five minutes of a heart to heart. Then we go.

In the heart to heart today the monk told my friend that he was probably going to kill himself, so she shouldn’t be too surprised and don’t worry about it. Very matter-of-fact. This raised no eyebrows, upon the revelation or thereafter.

That’s life, I suppose.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Top Ten Things That People Should Give A Shit About, But Don’t

10. Old Age: This is where we’re all going, and it might be nice to have a little help when we get there. It’s the ultimate pay-forward experience, generate some good karma. Young people, get on the bandwagon now before it’s too late, or someday there’ll be a guy holding your elbow and taking you out to a snow-drift for a nice nap.

9. Losers: Not just your asshole brother-in-law, I’m talking about a huge group here. Tweekers, gamblers, skylarkers, crackheads, goldbricks, crazies, oxy-morons, the low-functioning. There are entire countries that qualify. We can’t tell them all to sink or swim. Remember, a couple of points of I.Q., move a couple of chromosomes around, that dipshit talking to himself at the bus stop could have been you.

8. Fascism: Where have I heard this one before? Patriotism; racism; nationalism; cultural-elitism; religiosity . . . put it all together, what’s that spell! Trouble.

7. Art: This new digital world has done irrevocable violence to art of many kinds, especially music, photography, and the movies. Only Neil Young and I seem to understand that this is a problem. Can we get the magic back? Someone should give a shit.

6. History: It exists, it can be studied. It’s horrors need not be repeated, not verbatim anyway. There are always new horrors to enjoy! The old stuff keeps coming back around, and doesn’t it seem like it would be so much easier to learn from the mistakes of others? You know, without all of the fires, explosions, suffering, hunger, disease, wandering, destruction, and death, death, death?

5. The Middle Class: In the perfect world of my youth (sarcasm alert!), working people drove Chevy’s, managers drove Buicks, and the rich drove Cadillac’s. They were almost the same car under the skin. The rich had bigger houses, and took better vacations, but most people’s lives were very similar. Medical care was a benefit of working, and care was about the same across the board. Now, working people and managers have Toyotas and Hondas, and the rich have a lavish choice of hugely expensive luxury cars, plus multiple airplanes and helicopters. Better houses? Now the rich have multiple houses, pied a terres, ski-lodges, and a ranch in Wyoming. Could you even spend a hundred million dollars? No, and no one should ever have to figure out how to. That’s what taxes are for.

4. The Other: There’s you, and there’s the rest of us. And we’re not going anywhere, so learn to deal with us, asshole.

3. Hunger: There’s one-point-something billion people out there that are hungry everyday. Someone’s counting, I see it on TV. So someone cares enough to make the ads, but really, very few people seem to give a shit. Remember, though, the world is full of men, women and children who are hungry everyday, and you out there, you little Mister KFC out there in Pleasantville somewhere, morbidly obese, most of your food comes out of their mouths.

2. Women: “Women are the motor of life.” Joseph Goebbels said that, which proves that even the worst people can get some good ideas. Women are our mothers, our solace, our water. What do they get to show for it? Selectively aborted; sent to orphanages; killed for a dowry; stolen as a treasure; used as a commodity in the sex trade; taken for granted in the average marriage. Women deserve more of our consideration, to say the very least.

1. Diversity: America has a large, well educated, very capable workforce; lots of good farmland and strong food-security; and a lavish treasure of natural recourses. All of that is good stuff, but America’s greatest treasure is the diversity of its population. If someone comes here from anywhere in the world, they can become 100% American within a few years. There’s no place else in the world where that can happen. There’s no template at all. Black/Asian; Christian/Muslim; Indian/European; all 100% American, and fast too. This is the greatest advantage that America has in this very competitive, modern world of ours. And yet, people have the nerve to treat it like a problem! I’ve got news for you, 1950 wasn’t as great as you remember it, and one way or the other, it ain’t coming back.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Stalin Kicks Hitler's Ass In Fantasy Football.

One of the few things that I like about the Twenty-First Century is YouTube. It's a comedy content explosion, thanks to ordinary Joe's out there with ideas and a computer. As I always say: look for the good!

News From The Spamoverse

I haven't heard from my Japanese porno-spammers for a while. After about eighteen months of almost daily spam-comment posting, in Japanese, maybe they finally gave up.

I've picked up another regular spam item, Russians this time, they seem to think that my, you know, could use an assist. This outfit comments on an almost two year old post about the fifteen greatest Roman generals. How do they find these particular windows to glom onto? What research could they be doing? Do they think that anyone who would be interested in Roman generals must need that particular assist?

Just wondering.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Little Jimmy Scott--When Did You Leave Heaven

Just because I love you. Go to heaven! Go! Go!

Fantastic Plastic Machine - Steppin' Out

Fantastic-Plastic-Machine: is a Japanese DJ/Producer. And living proof that American culture can positively influence (without disrupting) a millennial traditional culture in the process. (Afghans, take note.)

As usual, the proof of the pudding is in the cover versions. This guys originals are great enough, but boy, doesn't he shine when he takes a crack at somebody else's song!