Tuesday, May 29, 2012

PIZZICATO FIVE It's a Beautiful Day PV

Defunct for ten years already, where does the time go? 

The fellow playing the bass is really an actual bass player and also the fellow who put together the music for P5, the great Yasuharu Konishi.  What's he up to now?  Oh, no sir, you have mistaken me for someone who pays attention. 

The singer is the other half of the official group, Maki Nomiya.  I admire her too. 

One True Thing (Part 86)

I may not know much, but I can tell you one true thing:

No one on the outside can ever really know what goes on between a couple.

They might be a married or an unmarried couple, a conventional or unconventional couple, it doesn’t matter. It only matters that they are a couple, bound together by some bond of intimacy. In any couple so bound, only those two even have a chance of understanding what happens between them. No one besides them can hope to get it at all, to understand the chemistry that brought them together, the psychological dynamic that binds them, or the reasons or the meanings for the things that they do.

You may wonder why man “A” wishes to be with woman “B,” but never for a minute expect your wonderings to amount to much. You cannot understand it. Why would woman “X” remain married to man “Y?” Don’t waste too much time thinking about it, you don’t have enough information upon which to form an opinion. That information rests with the couple, with them alone.

So if you find yourself a’wind of something that is happening to a couple that you know, do not form any conclusions about the behavior, or, if you do form opinions, don’t share them with anyone. Your conclusions will be wrong, because they will be based on woefully inadequate information.

Merry Christmas!

I leave my Christmas stuff up all year, because it's just so, well, Christmassy. 

In Memoriam: Compromise

I teach my students that the most important component of democratic, representative governance is the ability of all sides to compromise. I make this pronouncement with great confidence.

Of course there will be different sides, there will be differing points of view within the governing bodies of these democracies. The ability to compromise, to find common ground, is essential to any government where the differing groups share power. The differing points of view among the representatives reflect the differing views of their constituents, and shouldn’t all of them be equally represented? Even in most modern one-party states compromise is employed in decision making, I’m thinking of the remaining nominally communist states of the world, China, Lao, Vietnam, maybe Cuba. The power elites in these states tolerate diversity of opinion in their ranks and practice consensus decision making. This is not true, perhaps, in North Korea, but their results are not encouraging anyone to emulate them. I can think of a couple of other examples, but the cultures in those areas are so sensitive to criticism that I will refrain rather than offend anyone.

Somehow in Washington compromise has become a dirty word. This is strange. When were two parties more radically different than the Democrats and the Republicans in mid-Twentieth Century America? And yet, they routinely compromised on matters of great importance to the country. Within the two parties there was a range of opinions too, there were Republicans and Democrats who were conservative, moderate or liberal according to their own consciences, reflecting also the diversity in their respective districts. Those days are long gone.

Whatever you have heard from the media, this inability to compromise is not being practiced equally by the two parties in Washington. No, make no mistake, this total inability to get along, this “my way or the highway,” is all coming from the Republican side, and it has been for at least thirty years.

There’s no “both sides do it” argument to be made. There is still a range of opinion in the Democratic Party, there are “Reagan Democrats,” and “Blue Dog Democrats,” a few “Liberal Democrats,” and even a couple of weirdly independent Democrats. The Republicans, on the other hand, have purged all of the ideologically impure members of their party.

Democrats in congress can still be induced to compromise, although the net effect of this is to pull the discourse increasingly to the right. This is because to our modern Republicans, compromise means other politicians doing what the Republicans demand. And it happens sometimes, there are bills that must be passed, spending measures etc.

The most extreme manifestation of this Republican intransigence is seen in the matter of Federal judgeships. They just won’t ratify anybody that President Obama has tried to appoint. This is part of their declared intention to oppose every single thing that Mr. Obama tries to do, to insure that his presidency is seen as a failure. “Declared intention;” they have not made any bones about it, they have plainly stated for three years now that they don’t care who gets hurt, they’re going to oppose everything. Even a few ideas that were theirs in the first place. They paint the Democrats in general, and Mr. Obama in particular, and even the entire Federal government when it suits them, as evil, not just misguided but EVIL, and there is no compromising with EVIL.

It’s too glib to say that this is due to Mr. Obama’s race, although his otherness is definitely something that they use against him. His strange name, his Blackness, these are low hanging fruit for those who would do him political harm. But it must be remembered that the Republicans did these same things to President Clinton, albeit to a lesser extent. Even those were more civil times, even while they were persecuting him on a daily basis for eight years on one trumped up charge after another that never amounted to a hill of beans. Two good presidents by any objective measure, with nothing in their policies or performance to justify the rabid opposition.

This current ideological warfare has led to the death of compromise, and that is a danger to all that we hold dear, or what little there is left of it anyway.

Monday, May 28, 2012

eddie & ernie - outcast

The great Eddie and Ernie, referenced in the below post.  An example of the great productions that Ike Turner was turning out at Sue Records in New York in the early 60's.  With Ike's band, and Ike playing the guitar.

Great "video" post too, all still pictures of mid-60's English Mods for some reason.  Maybe Eddie and Ernie were popular with the Mods, who knows?  

Sure I like Tina, but I love Ike.  Maybe the new troll will call me gay again, see if I care!  Sue me!  Get it?

Oh! Canada!

And what is happening with our neighbors to the north?  They are by reputation the "more civilized" America, but lately they've been anything but. 

I usually think of Canada this way:

Holland: Germand :: Canada: America

Like Holland is Germany Light, like Germany with a smile, Canada has always been the polite America, with real social services, real social security, and, you know, no aircraft carriers and all.   So what's come over them? 

First: Quebec has decided to unilaterally declare many tens of thousands of unmarried couples to be suddenly, legally married.  Lots of people, it seems, co-habitate and check "couple" on their taxes, and the government has decided to just declare them married by fiat.  Doesn't seem right, now does it?

Second: They've got these new weird copyright laws floating around.  A member of parliament recently talked about taking your CD's and putting them on your computer so you could listen on MP3 players, etc.  Sounds innocent enough, I mean you paid for the music, right?  No, no, no, not for the new copyright police.  This guy sounded like a lawyer for an American music conglomerate.  He said that ripping your CD's for other uses was "like buying a pair of shoes, and then going back and stealing the socks to go with them."  Where do they get these cute ideas? 

Third:  Evidently someone has decided that the National Archive of Canada is not really worth preserving after all.  So their budget is down to nothing, the process of digitizing everything is being neglected, and the archive is being decentralized so that research will be much more difficult. 

Fourth:  Tuition riots, again in Quebec. 

Fifth:  Law 78 (honest, you can't make this stuff up).  An "anti-protest" law, who knew that they had a big protest problem in Canada?  The law has led to, wait for it!  PROTESTS. 

That's all I can think of right now.  But Canada, what happened?  We thought we knew yee. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Ike & Tina Turner "Fool In Love" & "Work Out Fine" medley

It's two (snap), two (snap), my two favorite Ike and Tina Turner cuts, all in one on the TNT show in 1965 (an English TV show).

These are both on "The Sue Story," a great compilation of New York soul from Sue Records.  Lots of Sue's hits showcase Ike as producer and bandleader, like the great Eddie and Ernie hits ("I'm Going For Myself Now," "Time Waits For No One").  Ike playing the guitar too. 

Ike was the king!  You can look it up.  "Rocket 88," FIRST ROCK AND ROLL RECORD, among other claims to fame.   Tina was a great find, no doubt, but Ike was already justifiably famous, and he produced everything. 

Lady Ga Ga's Visit

Lady Ga Ga is playing a concert or two in BKK this weekend.  The venue for the shows is Ramanangala Stadium, which is in my neighborhood. 

So if you see any long shots on TV, the surrounding neighborhood includes my university (right next door).  My pad is up the road a piece, almost a mile, but I can see the lights and hear the crowd when there's a show or a big game.  Traffic will not be a problem for me, as I rarely venture out of an evening anymore.

The stadium name is interesting.  Thai is funny with the "ng" sound, it can come in the front of a word or at the end.  So it might be "ramanang-ala," or it might be "ramana-ngala."  If I've ever heard anyone say the word, I've forgotten. 

T-Shirts Update

I see a lot of strange T-shirts, strange messages on T-shirts.   So many that I hardly pay attention anymore.  But the other day I saw two really good ones within the space of a minute. 

"My other shirt has
Che Guevara
on it"

The image of Che is very, very popular in Thailand.  Back in the 1970's there was some communist agitation in Thailand, and even a certain amount of shooting up the countryside.  So there are some university educated lefties from that era who can still wax romantic about Che.  It's not them displaying the products though, it's kids.  So a Che Guevara joke is appropriate. 

"Communism Killed
100 million people
and all I got was
this lousy T-shirt"

This one is a tougher read.  I mean, somebody wrote the copy, but what on earth was their agenda? 

Friday, May 25, 2012

New Thai Monument Featuring, No Surprise, An Elephant

Every now and then it occurs to me that I can take my camera and do screen shots.  It's probably lucky that I don't realize this every day.  

This evening the Thai channels were taken over by some big event featuring the King, the Queen, and the Princess that everybody loves.  Since all three of them showed up I figured it must be something very, very important.  It turned out to be the dedication of a new monument in the form of a giant bronze elephant mounted by rampaging warriors.  Somehow, the monument is to the memory of the grandmother of King Naresuwan, who personally did a lot of fighting from the backs of elephants, mostly against the Burmese.  

The royal family are in the pavilion in the middle picture, watching the festivities.  There was pageantry galore featuring boats and a giant stage across the river backed with a huge screen like at a Lady Ga Ga concert.  All of the players were in period costume, like those guys on the elephants staging a mock fight.  The elephants did a great job, but honestly they looked like best friends who happened to have some acting talent.  

And the elephants were all white!  Like six of them!  Ever heard of a "white elephant sale?"  The origin is in Thailand.  Over here, any elephant born white becomes the property of the king, and white elephants by law are not permitted to work.  (Except at pageantry, maybe.)  So if the king wanted to put a burden on somebody, he'd gift them a white elephant, and they'd have to support the thing for the rest of its life while not getting any labor out of it.   

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Old Soldier

My favorite little "rahka tuk" ("cheap prices") mall is having an old city market kind of display.  This guy was one of the attractions, he's decked out like a typical Thai soldier from a couple of hundred of years ago. 

He was doing a good job, making a stationary presentation of it, frozen as it were.  But not religious about it, he'd just up and smile and talk to anyone who came over.  He was collecting for some outfit, maybe, I'm not sure, he did have a box in front of him with some money in it (which I added twenty Baht to). 

The tattoos are real, and he does, let's face it, have military bearing. 

Badass Ride Redux

I'm sure that I've reported this fine ride before, about a year ago, but it bears a second showing.  It's outlaw stuff, we don't need no mirrors, we don't need no front brake, we don't need no mufflers.  And look at that extension!  Must be quite the little handful to ride. 

But it's pretty badass, that's for sure.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

RAFFAELLA CARRA' 1978 -- " night and day " -- by f1alexMilano

You Tube, the lazy blogger's friend. 

I love the comment, "Barbarella, the Musical."  At just this time I will braggingly admit that I loved Italian pop music of a certain stripe, Lucio Battisti for instance.  This TV performance was a lot deeper than I was swimming though, and maybe it's a good thing I never saw it.  In my delicate condition there's no telling what the effect might have been. 

A Resemblance To Someone Famous

This nice young couple are both law professors at my university.  Don't you think this fellow bears a striking resemblance to Ito Ogami from the "Sword of Vengeance" movies?

The truth though, I think Ogami's probably a better singer.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Stay with me - Lorraine Ellison

My advice is to go down two posts and listen to these in reverse order: first the Michael Grimm; then the Terry Reid; then the Lorraine Ellison. 

Lorraine is the original, and it's a great story.  Don't quote me, but the story goes something like this:  the band was in the studio for another session, and there was time to kill while everyone was still getting paid.  The producer had Lorraine handy, with a song and charts, and with limited time they cut this in one take.   That's pretty close to the truth anyway, close enough for this non-rigorous blog for sure. 

Stay with me baby - Terry Reid

This version is hard to top. 

Listening to this record at home as a teenager got me the nicest thing that my father ever said to me.   Actually, it was the first Terry Reid album, "Bang, Bang, You're Terry Reid," but you get the picture.  "You know," he said, "the records that you play are a lot better than the crap I hear on the radio."  

Michael Grimm "Stay With Me Baby", Full Intro & Interview, America's G...

You know I love the covers, comparing singers and bands at the same task.   This guy is doing a great job at an almost impossible task:  following Lorraine Ellison singing this song. 

And where?  "America's Got Talent," of all the God damn things.  It's a little after ten p.m. as I write, on a Monday, and I was just transchanneling, I came across a session of the show from last year that featured this song.  I'd never heard of this guy or watched the show before.  It's all on the 'Tube, so I can share.   Honestly, I probably would never have watched even a minute of this show if Howard Stern hadn't been hired this year. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Thomas Edison - 1894 Boxing cats

So this whole cat fetish has been around a lot longer than the Internet, even. 

The Haircut That Drove Willard To A Bully Rage

Willard Romney recently got called out for abusing one of the guys in his high school.  Chasing him down, and actually cutting his hair with a pair of scissors, because the guy had some kind of do going that the Mittster thought was unacceptable.  Of course he had help, no sense taking any chances that the faggot can actually defend himself.   No, bullies like an audience too, to prove how tough they are. 

This story disgusted me.  There's no excuse for the behavior in the first place, and Mitt's luke-warm non apology was offensive.  But the story, on its own, reminded me of something interesting.

It has occurred to me, over the years, that I had/have no idea which of the boys in my high school were gay.  Me and Mitt were in high school at the same time.  There were a thousand of us at the school, all boys, almost three hundred in my graduating class.  I knew my class pretty well, and there are none of them that I can say, yup, gay.  Certainly no one admitted to being gay, but more tellingly no one acted in the least bit gay.  Statistically there must have been gay boys among us, even a conservative two or three percent would have been nine or so just in my class.   I assume that they were there, but I can tell you that they were completely invisible.*

You could say that my Gaydar is defective, and you might be right.  I'm not famous for being able to spot homosexuals.  It's not something that really occurs to me, mostly because over the years I have known lots of homosexuals who were very masculine and lots of straight guys who were very nelly.  And who cares anyway?

Is this a reason not to vote for Willard?  Probably not.  And besides, there are hundreds of great reasons not to vote for him, so many reasons that this one shouldn't come into the picture at all. 

*Well, maybe one kid.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Velvet Underground Jonathan Richman

This is a double positive!  A double dip in the wonderfulness pool!  Two total originals: Jonathan Richman and the Velvet Underground.

The really interesting question here is how the influence of the VU led to the accomplishments of Jonathan Richman.  You can see it in the Modern Lovers, Jonathan's band from the '70's, but nothing obvious shows in his later solo career.  The reverence is clear in this cut.  I revere the two of them.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Yep, Everywhere I Look

On that recent seminar weekend we got down to the beach/park area and lo and behold, this thing is right next door.  I've read a brochure about it and seen a big model, but I didn't know just where it was.  It's some kind of "Temple Of Brotherhood" or something, a non-denominational temple to all that is good and holy in the human race.  So there's a mix of every kind of religious symbolism you could think of, up to and including unicorns.  All very positive, I'm led to believe. 

I don't know, it looks kind of ominous to me, more like a Temple of Doom or a haunted house.  But it is interesting.  Not interesting enough for me to want to walk over there, but interesting.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Why Are You In Thailand?

Lot’s of people ask me that question, and I ask a lot of other guys too. (It’s overwhelmingly guys who chose the ex-pat life in Thailand.) The answers, I think, are rarely forthright or truthful.

Rather than examine the various self-serving answers posed by myself and others I’ll offer an incomplete selection of possible reasons that a person might wish to leave the country of his birth and set up shop somewhere else:

1. It’s Just A Good Idea.

There are many counties in the world that are worth moving to. Coming to Thailand, for instance, just happens to work on the good idea level. Good paying jobs are easily available (caveat: without a college degree it’s much, much harder; caveat number two: that’s “good paying” in the local economy; caveat number three: you might have to teach English). The cost of living is low to reasonable. The weather and the food are the best in the world. The hospitals are good, and perfectly good doctors are easy to find. The hygiene level is good all over. People are nice.

Many countries would be good choices. Some have a lot going for them. Some pay more than others; some have more modern development than others. Lots of places to choose from though. Might even raise your standard of living!

2. You Can Reinvent Yourself.

This might just be a nice way to say that you can run away from yourself, but it’s true. Living in another country, people’s perspective on you changes completely. Your perspective on yourself changes as well. I moved from New York City to Los Angeles at the age of twenty-seven and I was amazed at the changes along these lines. In New York I was just a zero from Queens; in L.A. I was a hipster from New York!

No one in your target country knows anything about you. You become the person that you present to the new society. You can whitewash your past with impunity. All of this can be very, very comfortable.

3. You Can Leave Behind All Of The Annoyances Of Your Own Miserable Country.

Besides Fox News I mean, I’m talking about things on the personal level. I meet lots of guys over here who suffer from some level of social anxiety, even painful shyness. These conditions will almost certainly ease up once one is removed from one’s native culture. An odd result of living overseas is that social interaction becomes less difficult for most people. If one has always felt alienated in America, it is strangely less problematic in a country where one actually is an alien.

For one thing, all interactions take place at a reduced level because of the language difference. Life becomes much more simple. If one suffers from depression, there are fewer triggers. It’s great.

4. Satisfy Your Need For Adventure.

Even a place like Thailand seems like an adventure, although the truth is that you are as safe as being in bed. Everywhere I go, everything I see, is new and exciting.

If you want real adventure, you can go to Kazakhstan or Africa, but none of that for me thank you. I prefer comfort to real adventure, and I’m comfortable where I am.

5. Time For A Change.

Maybe it’s just enough already! America is a nice place, but after a few decades maybe you’ve gotten tired of it. What is there left that you want to see? Yellowstone? I’ve seen plenty, and thanks for the memories. If I want to see Yellowstone, I’ll buy a video.

6. (!!!)

I don’t want to put too fine a point on this one, but let’s just say that there are some guys, including some guys in America, who couldn’t get laid in a whorehouse with a pocket full of hundred dollar bills. The world is full of countries where a guy like that can do okay. I’m not mentioning any countries specifically, you can look it up. Lot’s of socially inept, unattractive guys travel to increase their prospects. ‘Nuff said.

So why am I in Thailand? It’s a combination of several of the above. I’ll let you figure out which ones.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

JAMES BROWN It's A Man's World (original 1964 version)

Mr. Joshua sang this song on Idol the other night, he did okay.  James is a tough act to follow, I think it takes a certain courage just to try. 

It got me thinking, as most things do.  1964 was the release year for the original, "It's a Man's Man's Man's Man's World," four man's. 

One of my favorite movies came out in 1963, "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World."  It's a frantic comedy, featuring a Who's Who of Hollywood comedians from every period.  So how much of a coincidence is the similarities of the titles?  No coincidence at all, I think, strictly cause and effect.  Odd movie to influence the title of such a serious song though. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

These Surprising Internets

"16 inch Square End Grain Chunk Cutting Board; $130"

This was an ad on Slate.com, an ad for Amazon.com.  I was a little surprised that Amazon sold cutting boards, doesn't it tend to show that they're selling literally everything these days?  I was a little surprised that a cutting board would sell for $130, doesn't that seem like a lot to you?  I guess it is a good sized one, and square end grain chunk at that. 

But if you wanted a cutting board, would you really buy one from Amazon?  And for $130?  If you did, now that really would be surprising. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Re: Below Post, "The Charlie Lau Swing"

This swing was the hot set up for a long time.  You basically take a short step into the ball and throw the bat into the strike zone to the spot where you expect the ball to be.  There's no real follow through, you let go with your back (top) hand almost immediately.  Like I said, it USED TO BE the hot set up. 

This year I'm seeing most guys hold onto the bat all the way through the swing, more in the style of Joe Dimaggio or Ted Williams.  They're hitting the cover off the ball too, this big swing delivers more power.   The Charlie Lau swing was a "hitting for average" swing. 

Changing fashions in baseball, always fascinating for the initiate.  I find that really understanding baseball is a little bit like belonging to a secret society.  People who have never played the game don't understand it at all, they have no idea what they are looking at.  I know how they feel; I feel like that when I watch cricket. 

The Charley Lau Swing, Part II.mov

Monday, May 7, 2012

Al Qaeda May Be Moribund, But Al Jezeera Is Winning

Those poor hapless so-and-so’s at Al Qaeda can’t seem to do anything right, but the Emirates news station Al Jezeera is thriving.

On a weekend seminar in Pattaya, my two English language news choices were Al Jezeera and Fox News, and let me tell you, comparing the two it was no contest. Al Jezeera easily won any comparison with the Johnny-One-Note, All-Anti-Obama-All-The-Time Fox News.

Only Al Jezeera included any real news content at all, for one thing. Real information about important events around the world, far reaching enough to include workers’ unrest in Bolivia; a police sponsored truce for gang violence in El Salvador; and an update on the Mexican drug war that even included coverage of the current presidential election in Mexico. Who knew that there was such a thing going on! They even interviewed Mariano Rivera, defending himself regarding his much criticized recent injury shagging fly balls.

And who won the “Fair and Balanced” award? Al Jezeera again. For instance, they covered a television commercial now showing in Argentina that used an Olympic athlete who will compete in London this summer to make the very anti-colonial point that the Malvinas/Falklands Islands belong to Argentina. Of course they spoke to some Argentines, but they also had no less than British Foreign Secretary Haig speaking for the English side of it. He avoided the issue, only saying that he thought that it was wrong to use the Olympics in that way. The Al Jezeera people never spoke over anybody either, and they never belittled anyone that they disagreed with.

I doubt if I even need to illustrate the treatment that anyone appearing for “the other side” receives on Fox. Rula Jebrael took the alternate position in one discussion, I didn’t catch what the issue was because there was too much yelling going on and I couldn’t hear a word that anyone said. She was introduced as “an author and journalist,” and she’s a beautiful woman, really beautiful, in a Rosario Dawson kind of way. Finally she threw up her hands and called them out on the “fair and balanced” thing, remarking that they wouldn’t even let her say anything at all before the yelling started, two Foxers at a time by the way. That scare-crow looking Fox guy told her, “if we weren’t fair and balanced, we wouldn’t even have you on this channel.”

Of course I spent more time watching Fox News, and there was an unexpected silver lining this time. I find them generally infuriating, but on this occasion the feeling only served to remind me that my anger level has been very, very low for a good while now. I accepted this gift with humility, smiled at my good fortune, and went on with my happy life.

What's That Up The Road, ASEAN?

The costume theme for our party this year was the countries of ASEAN.  Yes, that is your correspondent standing at the table behind four of the participants. 

This ASEAN connection is good for me.  A more or less full economic union is coming in 2014, and it makes English more important.  More important for our students, and more important for the faculty to have a native English speaker around too. 

The Russians Are Coming!

I want to like Russians, really I do. But they make it hard.

We got the National Geographic, Life and Newsweek at the house when I was a boy. I saw a lot of pictures of Russians, ordinary citizens, walking on the street and going about their lives. I remember thinking that they looked like a suspicious bunch, warily looking at the camera, never smiling. Must be those Soviets, I supposed, I was sure that Russians smiled at home and were friendly enough when they were sure that no one was watching or listening.

No one was happier than me when the Soviets evaporated. Although I did kind of like having them around for purposes of Mutually Assured Destruction, I was delighted to see that it seemed to make Russians happy to be rid of them. There was an interval of smiling. Now I wonder.

In Pattaya this weekend our hotel was occupied mostly by Russians. Lots of young families, married couples, bigger families with teenagers and maybe a grandma in tow as well, a great variety of Russians. In Thailand for the sun and fun. Well, the sun anyway.

It had me wondering frequently: would it kill you to smile? They all seemed so sullen. I like to smile at people. Not, I mean, like an idiot, smiling all the time, but on an elevator maybe, or passing on the street. Nothing back from these Russians though, not, I think, even once. More likely a sneer, or the avoidance of eye contact all together.

Not to be cruel about it, but there should be Bikini Police to protect us from some of these Bikini wearers. The Speedo can be dangerous to public equilibrium as well. You should be tested for a license if you want to buy one of those bathing suits. Lots of Russians in tiny, tiny bathing suits at our pool and our little private beach, and lots of them were shockingly, distressingly fat. Maybe it’s the weather in Russia, I thought in a generous mood. Maybe when it is so extremely cold being fat is an evolutionary advantage. Whatever the reason, many of the Russians in Pattaya were giant. Russians are a tall people in addition to being generally fat. There were lots of fat guys, 30 to 50 years old, walking around wearing nothing but a Speedo, a bad tattoo, and a sullen expression.

And must they be so rude to the help? Thai people are so kind-hearted, it hurts my feelings to see them treated so shabbily. But what could I expect? I got an eye and a earful of the way some of these Russians treated their own children. In the room next to me was a youngish family with a son about seven and a daughter about ten. I was treated to a good deal of yelling, smacking and crying, once in the middle of the night.

I hate to generalize, although I’m not loathe to do it sometimes. I’m sure that there are lots of very nice, smiling Russians out there somewhere. Maybe in Phuket, where everything is a little more expensive and you find a more monied class of tourist. But no, from what I hear it’s the same thing there. Don’t think that Thai people don’t notice.

And I’m very glad that they do notice. They realize that not all White foreigners are the same. Germans are different from the French, and the English are vastly different from Americans. The later comparison especially, and also any comparison of foreigners, favors we Americans by the way. We are relatively popular here. I’ve heard this from taxi drivers and others with experience. We smile, we say thank you, and we tip. Lots of people ask me where I’m from, and they’re delighted to find out that I’m American.

If the Russians are actually as unhappy as they appear, I’m just glad that I’m not one of them.

Games Were Played

This was a "Team Building" seminar in Pattaya this weekend, for my Faculty of Law at Ramkhamhaeng University.  It always occurs to me that tort liability must not be a problem in Thailand.  The middle picture, for instance, is one of the goals in a "Chair Ball" game.  The lady with the basket carries the goal for her own team, so she must try her best to catch any of their shots on goal.  The goalie falls off the chair often in Chair Ball, and even in my limited experience of viewing there have been injuries (nothing serious, thankfully). 

And the ten people tied together in the top picture, ankle to ankle, making, what is that? an Eleven Legged Race?  Twelve? (Between two teams.)  Here too, I'm worried about possible injuries.   Just me being an old worry-wart.  No one got hurt at all, the entire weekend, and we all had a lot of fun.

You can see the smiling faces of the winning Chair Ball team in the bottom photo.  Yes, we were having a good time.  I felt lucky to be there.   

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Nick Lowe On The Jimmy Fallon Show

Boy, it sneaks up on you even if you try to be careful.  Nick Lowe is approximately my age, and in a way it's good to see him still at it with a good band and some new songs in his usual vein.  I love the old stuff, the solo albums, the Rock Pile albums with Dave Edmonds, "Cruel to Be Kind," all of that.  Until this appearance, all of my visual information on him was from what is now the remote past, obviously. 

But here he is on the Fallon show, and the dude looks 100, we look 100 I should say.  We look okay for 100, but still, we look 100 if we look a day.  I would love to have his hair though. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Thai Museums Feature Things That Are Old

These pictures were taken at a museum of World War Two memorabilia in Kanchanaburi, Thailand, near one of the bridges that the Japanese built (using slave labor, including Allied prisoners).  At many museums in Thailand people get a little carried away with the idea of displaying old things. 

Sometimes it seems that any old thing will do.  Certainly the battered, dusty old cheap suitcase in the top photo has no historical value.  And then there is the wall of shoes. 

Even many of the warfare related items in this museum have no relation to the subject at hand, the war related Japanese involvement in Thailand.  Everything was old though, that was the only common theme. 

Paint One Yourself!

Munch's "The Scream" just sold for $119,000,000.  Art can be instructive, and the great lesson of "The Scream" is that if you like the painting you should just go ahead and paint yourself a copy. 

The painting has a very simple composition, inverted triangle with a strong diagonal.  It uses no adventurous colorism, simple complements of blue and orange.  There is no difficult technique employed in its creation.  No great draftsmanship is required.  It would be no challenge at all for a non-artist to duplicate it (with just a modicum of visual ability).  Many copies would be hard to differentiate from the original.

So go ahead!  Have some fun!  Get out your paint box!  Enjoy the painting in your own home every day.  And save some money too!  

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Let's Try The Laptop

This whole new version thing is a challenge for a tech-resister like me. 

Things are moving around, and this no-paragraph thing is getting me down.  So I'm trying the laptop, a PC based tool, the browser is Internet Explorer. 

Let's go and take a look.  (Time elapsed.)   Well, the paragraphs seem to be showing up here just fine. 

On my IMac, running Firefox, they were not fine.  No paragraphs, no way.  I'm telling you, I like the IMac, the look and feel of it, but Apple stuff is funny.  A PC says "use me," with an inviting smile, "come on in, look around, see how things work, customize me for your purposes."  It doesn't get too far into your business regarding the stuff you save and view on it.  An Apple tells you, "I'm perfect already, use me as you find me, there's nothing beyond the interface that you need to see or find."  Regarding your saved materials, an Apple is constantly watching you to make sure that you don't use your stuff in some improper way. 

Me being paranoid again, no doubt.  But really, if you have an IPod (which I do), and the computer that the playlist was synched to blows up (which mine did), you're stuck.  There's no loading the playlist onto your new computer.  This is Apple's paranoia for proper use, if you ask me.  I'm afraid to say "yes" when my IMac asks me if I'd like to download a new version of ITunes.  I'm afraid that half the songs will disappear with a message, "some songs with no current security certificate have been deleted for your protection." 

Just like the old neighbor who yells at the kids, "get off my lawn!"  Yeah, guilty, probably.  And don't even get me started about my Kindle.