Friday, September 30, 2011

Jay Ferguson ~ Thunder Island

This song is my guilty pleasure, it has been since it was released in 1978. Believe me, even ABBA was easier to explain away than this crap, I took some flak for liking it. I bought the single, I knew that it was crap but it was good crap and I loved it. Somehow, the song speaks to me, I can feel the thrill of it, the thrill of the singer and the no-doubt summer girlfriend. I mean, I never had the thrill myself, but I knew guys who did, just like in the song, as teenagers. This song still gives me chills.

Sure it's crap, but it's heartfelt crap, and it's well produced crap, and there's nothing crappy about the sidemen that they hired, including Joe Walsh probably. Everybody needs a little sentimental crap in their collection. It humanizes a person, doesn't it?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

7am Arivu Official Trailer [HQ] -7aam arivu Official Trailer HQ (First O...

This vid must have been shot on a cell phone at the movies, complete with crowd noise. I've seen whole movies shot like this on Thai long distance buses. I couldn't find the clear version on the 'Tube.

This is a big-budget release in the Tamil language, something of a rarity evidently. It looks great, it's got a time-jumping story line, fantasy, science fiction, and kung-fu. And singing and dancing, no doubt, it's an Indian movie after all.

You can see a clear copy of the trailer over at Twitch. ( That's a cool site in general, must visiting for anybody who likes movies that are "nuts."

Ja Turbo คันหู -จ๊ะ ver.ล่าสุด[HD]@Neverland 3ส.ค.54 ภาพชัด

The original posting of this video has over three million hits; this thing as become a big deal in Thailand. Turbo herself is very forthright about the whole thing. She's just trying to make a living, after all.

She was on some local talk show recently, that was a big deal too. The host, named "Woody" of all things, was described in the article that I read as a self-appointed guardian of high-society's morals in particular and Thai culture in general. He was very rough with our pretty friend, asked really pointed questions along the line of, like, how could you do such a horrible thing? It's become quite a cause celeb. Most people just want Khun Woody to get over it. Some people got busy pointing out the moral failings of high-society, that will keep them really, really busy!

The poor girl was very polite and answered the rude questions very honestly. It's a tough business, she said, I'm not very pretty (!!!!) and I don't sing that well, I need a gimmick.

I do understand how the poor girl can be so modest about her looks. Thailand is so crowded with beautiful women that it's easy for any of them to feel a bit ordinary.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Food Fair At The Big "C"

These come from a food-fair outside of a little mall that I like. The place is anchored by a Big "C" market, a Thai run super-store kind of place, a scaled down Walmart or a full sized Tesco-Lotus. The airplane thing is a carbonated water dispenser for soft drinks, you can see the bottles of flavor agent at the lower right. These airplane dispensers are getting rare now, almost a nostalgia item. Back in the Sixties they were a big attraction for children, with colored lights and sound effects.

The other picture is a noodle soup lady with an especially picturesque set up.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Pretty Tour Guide Ancient City Bangkok

This is a really nice attraction, near the mouth of the Cha Prayao River south of Bangkok. Big place, with some scale reproductions of historical sites and some actual buildings moved from various locations around the country. A very nice full-size reproduction of an old school floating market too.

Most of the tourists are Thai, by far. Lots of school groups and families on an outing. I recommend it, if you find yourself in the area.

Relative Absence Of Politics

Don't get me wrong, politics is fun stuff. This current political season in America is a laugh-a-minute, non-stop singing and dancing (after the usage of Alexander Solzhenitsyn, talking about the gulag). My relative silence on the subject is not due to a lack of interest. There are a couple of reasons:

First, this series of tubes called the Internet is full of political blogs, many of which are very good and many others of which are highly entertaining. Some are even both; and

Second, the whole thing is so depressing, I mean the shear volume of it, and the horror.

I do occasionally comment on American politics, but it's not fun for me. Sometimes something just makes me angry, like Herman Cain or the bamboozling of the American working class. Sometimes I just feel like I have a point-of-view about something that may be useful to others.

Generally, though, I am content to let you follow the daily gossip elsewhere. I'm hoping that some of these fools will pass from the scene quickly, and I don't want to think about them any more than I have to.

My feeling, and my fear, is that this whole thing is going to hell on the express elevator. My advice, dear readers, is that you all take steps now to avoid this result, so that when all of the shit hits all of the fans, and some people are asking, on their way to Guantanamo On The Mississippi, how did this happen! you can look back and point to things that you did to try to stem the viscous tide that is now engulfing America, that you can do more than pull your blanket more tightly around you and say, I told you so!

Remember the German precedent. After their little social experiment went so horribly wrong, the Germans who merely acquiesced to the NAZI excesses were considered equally responsible. It's always worth remembering, they voted for the instrument of their doom too.

A Message From Toyota

I saw the following on the side of a Toyota Granvia van in Bangkok. Good sized print, prominently displayed. All caps in the original:


Pretty typical family-style van, actually, but I'm sure that it's fun, in its way.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Chris Spedding - Hey Miss Betty

Okay, so everybody's into Television already. Here's something that might be a little more of a discovery for most people.

Television - Friction

I'm pretty sure that tomorrow I'll have more to put up than music. But in the meantime, here's a little Television from the late '70's, good as gold but no commercial potential. A good choice for anyone looking to broaden their horizons without leaving the U.S.A.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Worth Repeating

This is a re-post of something that I put up about two years ago. That Uncle Bill could really call them out!

William S. Burroughs Explains It All

Burroughs’ books may not be everybody’s cup of tea, I understand that. But he was a brilliant, no bull-shit analyst of modern life, that’s for sure. This example is from a 1961 interview that appeared in the Journal for the Protection of All Beings, a periodical edited by Lawrence Ferlinghetti (fellow Beat or Beat-Wannabe, depends on your point of view):

BURROUGHS ON POLITICAL CONFLICTS: “Political conflicts are merely surface manifestations. If conflicts arise you may be sure that certain powers intend to keep this conflict under operation since they hope to profit from the situation. To concern yourself with surface political conflicts is to make the mistake of the bull in the ring, you are charging the cloth. That is what politics is for, to teach you the cloth. Just as the bullfighter teaches the bull, teaches him to follow, obey the cloth.”

“The Cloth . . .” Family Values, the War on Terror, Socialism, Law and Order . . . keep your eyes on the cloth!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Oscar Levant Show Part 1

So, Khun Fred, who is this Oscar Levant of whom you speak?

Shamefully little of him on YouTube, but this vid is fun, actually I didn't even know that he'd had a show of his own. I remember him from numerous appearances as a guest on talk shows and variety shows, and later on I came to appreciate his work in films. His off-center approach to everything and his obvious distaste for ordinary reality somehow appealed to the young me.

Problem Solved And Considered, In That Order

Problem solving can be elusive. You can clear a space, maybe get a pencil and paper handy, confront a problem head on, and get nowhere. You can roll something over in your head for years and just spin your wheels. Sometimes, however, the solution comes even before the problem is recognized; the answer comes before the question. Sometimes the evidence appears and the puzzle just falls into place, effortlessly.

Life is too big a problem for me to solve, but I spend a certain amount of time working on it anyway. Honestly, I would forgive anyone who questioned whether life was even worth living. I frequently consider the quote from Oscar Levant: so much time, so little to do. And it's true, isn't it? How many novels can one read? How much music can one listen to? What, read another newspaper? Maybe get into opera? What's really new, really worth engaging with? Like Ann Frank said, it all comes to nothing in the end anyway.

So it was a surprise, a pleasant one, I will admit, when I recently discovered, quite by accident, that I want to live.

Down a few posts is a video of my Nok Airlines Saab 340B-Plus. Those bald tires were no joke, an accident waiting to happen, and I'll admit that it was a little worrying to me. Generally, I don't worry about flying commercial air, but I do have a prejudice against small planes. I figure that the more people are at risk, the greater care the responsible people, corporate entities, will take. If 300 people die, that's a big deal, worldwide news, people get yelled at. If 30 people die, it's easier to sweep under the rug.

So on this flight I found myself worrying about our chances. A blowout on take-off would be the worst, rolling the plane onto a wing full of gasoline at 140 mph or so. No one walks away from take-off accidents.

I found that I wasn't worried about dying, a brief thought about that passed quickly with little discomfort. I am of the firm opinion that dying is simply the end of everything. What's so threatening about that? It was other things that worried me. The stuff in my apartment, who'd get it? It would almost certainly just disappear. I don't have anyone in this country who really qualifies to get it anyway. There's a few dollars in the bank here, who'd get that? Not who I would chose, certainly. There's a lot of writing of all kinds on my lap-top, my legacy! Gone without a trace probably, wiped clean at a second-hand shop. My extravagant deposit on my rented condo, three months rent, over $1,000, a bonus for my land lord most likely.

These things troubled me, and then came the epiphany. These ruminations could only mean one thing. I didn't want to die! Or, in the alternative, I wanted to live, unless they're both the same thing. The evidence, unsought but rather dumped in my lap, showed that I was engaged with life. I was at least mildly pleased by the discovery.

People who want to die, or who just don't care, they don't worry about anything. They don't worry about what happens to their stuff. They don't worry if anyone's feelings will be hurt. They don't worry about pain in the interim. They don't leave notes, or, if they do, the note just says, “I'm sorry.” I wasn't like them at all.

I found all of this very interesting, and I hope that you find it mildly diverting yourself.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Gene Pitney - Pretty Flamingo

Maybe I'm getting sentimental in my old age. I'm including this one because it has just come to my attention that Gene Pitney has crossed the river (evidently I was not notified). Maybe I should check the Google, I'd hate to declare somebody dead prematurely. Good song.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Little Junior's Blue Flames-Feelin' Good Sun Records

Another "Little . . ."

To my knowledge, John Lee Hooker never sued Little Junior and the Blue Flames for stealing this song. People without money don't get sued, not generally anyway. No, it's much, much better to sue people with money, like Z.Z.Top.

J.L.Hooker sued Z.Z.Top for stealing the boogie and he won too. I'll never forgive him for it myself, he's beyond caring now but I'm still worked up about it. I'll bet a real musicologist could trace that song way back through lots of iterations before John Lee got hold of it, and nobody sued him about it either. No money in it.

And what the hell, all music is theft anyway, 98% of it. For every Coltrane there are thousands of also-rans, stealing from each other. Even the great Duke Ellington said, "they steal some, I steal some. It's cool."

But how about that Little Junior! More famous for "Mystery Train," but I like this cut too.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Little Willie John - Talk To Me, Talk To Me

Another guy of small stature with a giant, beautiful voice. (To go along with the Little Jimmy Scott song down a few posts.)

Downfall: What Goes Around, Comes Around

I'm re-reading "Downfall" by Richard B. Frank, a great rundown of the last couple of months of the war with Japan that focuses on the decision to drop the big one. It's a great book, I couldn't recommend it highly enough. And tonight I finally watched "Downfall," the great German movie about the last week or so of the war against Germany. Yes, the same "Downfall" that provided raw material all of those great Internet parodies. I'd recommend the movie too.

And I'm busy watching the real-time downfall of my own miserable country. People slipping out of the middle class but still voting for the Republicans who knocked them out; people cheering for capitol punishment and death from non-insurance; people complaining about taxes that are already too low because someone told them that it was a problem; our civil rights being degraded day by day; people whose grandparents immigrated to America complaining that immigrants are ruining America; a financial establishment that is obviously beyond control and firmly in the driver's seat; prisons full to bursting with inmates guilty of non-violent life-style crimes; labor unions in danger of total extinction; a national security state that has become the de-facto government of America, transcending electoral politics. I never thought I'd live to see the day.

This downfall shit is hard, when it comes. And remember, the Germans voted those guys in too, and we saw how that worked out.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Dragon Fountain In Sakon Nakorn

This was outside of my hotel in Sakon Nakorn. It was a nice place, fifteen bucks a night with free breakfast and dinner, a refrigerator in the room, and a nice TV with seventy cable channels, about ten of which were in English. When I see this kind of dragon fetish, it usually means that the Chinese-Thai community is involved. My guess is that the hotel is owned by a Chinese-Thai family. There was so much trouble in China, and for so long, that lots of families bailed and moved themselves to Thailand. One family that I know is Chinese on both sides at the grandparents level, although no one speaks Chinese anymore. The stories of those two families were very different. The mom's family came from Macao with little more than the shirts on their backs. The father's family came from Shanghai in a good sized boat that they'd rented for themselves, bringing all of the ancestral furniture, clothing and probably a kitchen sink too.

Thailand is known as "the land of smiles," but you could as easily call it the crossroads of South East Asia.

A Public Conveyance In Sakon Nakorn

Anywhere you go in Thailand, you are met with a slightly different availability of local transportation. You can always get around, but the vehicles will vary from place to place. Sakon Nakorn is way out east, almost to the Mekong River and Lao. It's a small place, even the provincial capitol. There were no meter taxis, only a few big cities in Thailand have actual metered taxis, but there were bicycle taxis, motorcycle taxis, small motorcycle-based tuk-tuks, and this thing.

I couldn't say if it was licensed in any way, or even if the guy used it to ferry people around for a fee, although I'm sure that he wouldn't say no if the chance came along. Maybe it's just for deliveries, you can stuff a lot of whatever into something like this.

In any case, it's an example of Thai enterprise. Thailand literally means "the land of the free," and the high level of economic freedom in Thailand can be surprising even to an American.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Nok Airlines Thailand

This flight was expensive. (Baht 5,800 round trip from BKK, almost two hundred dollars.) Only one airline goes to Sakon Nakorn, and it's not a heavily traveled route.

The plane was nice enough, a Saab 340 B-Plus. I was a little worried about the tires. I wouldn't drive on the freeway with tires that bald, I was hoping that they had another landing or two in them before they exploded. When I checked in at Don Muang, the old airport in Bangkok, the lady asked me if I'd like an aisle or a window seat. I said aisle, and she gave me seat 7A, which turned out to be both an aisle seat and a window seat (the plane had a one/two configuration, with the "A's" standing alone on the left side of the aisle).

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Little Jimmy Scott - All The Way

A little truth from Jimmy Scott to go along with the post a couple down.

I'll Be Back

I'll be off the seat for a couple of days. On my way out to the boondocks to teach a class. There's plenty of stuff here to read, but if you run out you should check February, 2011. Boy, was I on fire! Race, religion, plenty of pictures, hotel reviews, cool vehicles. The works! Go nuts!

9/11 And The Tet Offensive

In February, 1968, the Vietnamese communists launched the Tet Offensive, attacking everywhere in South Vietnam simultaneously with every single Viet Cong soldier at once. Tactically, it was the greatest military failure of all time. Virtually all of them were killed, and they accomplished nothing. Strategically, it was the beginning of the communists winning that war. (Sure that's the Classics Illustrated version, it's late.)

This whole 9/11 thing is starting to look somewhat similar to me. The attack itself was an act of great initiative, like the Tet Offensive, and what is the situation after ten years? We have spent ourselves into the ground, chasing around the world like a cat on fire, with almost nothing to show for it except a reputation for torture, the enmity of a billion Muslims, an exhausted military, and a dangerously depleted economy. Who won that one?

Ray Barretto - El Watusi 7" 45 DJ K-Tel

1963? Newyorican music on Top 40 radio? Believe it! Every now and again something strange showed up and crossed all cultural lines. "The Isrealittes," by Desmond Dekker and the Aces; "Sukiaki," (sic) by that Japanese fellow.

Ray Barretto had quite the little career in New York, he was one of the giants of "La Musica." His album "Acid" in the early '70's was a real milestone. Check him out!

Truth and “Freedom”

The truth can be a tough thing to pin down. Even the definition of truth is self-referential: “the quality or state of being true.” Or maybe “as opposed to false.” The dictionary also acknowledges that truth may be hard to establish: “a fact or belief that is accepted as true.” That’s some nebulous shit right there.

The truth is also different things to different people. In Asia, the truth is what the speaker thinks you want to hear. “Are you understanding me?” I ask my students, “am I speaking too fast?” I don’t say “too quickly,” that would confuse them. “Oh, yes Ajan!” they say, “you speak very clearly! We understand you!” Would that it were true, but they think that it will make me happy to hear it, bless their hearts. Doctors in Japan are famous for playing with the truth. “Do I have cancer, doctor?” “No,” the doctor says reassuringly. “Go home and rest, enjoy yourself, and drink some of this antacid three times a day, you’ll be fine.” Dead within six months, more likely.

The truth was exactly the opposite for the Spanish Inquisition. For them the truth was what the questioner wanted to hear. It’s all very situational.

In court, the truth is what a lawyer can prove to a jury. During the case, your truth is the version of the facts that is good for your client. Once the jury decides what happened, it is cut in stone as the final truth of the matter. The first thing a lawyer learns is that there is no such thing as objective truth in the law. For lawyers, it is frequently unethical to tell the truth. If the truth is bad for one’s client, the lawyer is required by the Code of Professional Responsibility to hide that truth with all of his power. Lawyers are often sued for telling the truth, which in the law suit will be referred to as “disclosures” or “admissions.”

The truth, the real, objective truth about anything, is such a slippery thing, it’s like trying to pick up an eel out of a bucket of water. The vagaries of human memory and perception get in the way. Think of your own life, your own past. If you are around my age, you already spend too much time doing this. What happened? How did you feel about it? When something happens to us, we view it through various filters. We try to protect ourselves from unfortunate truths, either by registering them in memory with modification or by not registering them in memory at all.

Don’t look for the truth on this blog. Oh, much of what I write is technically true, but I avoid the real, core truth of my life with the same fervor that I avoid plague infested blankets, or ingesting large quantities of salt water . My truth these days is only distressing to me, and writing this blog is actually part of my program of distracting myself with matters of a more cheerful nature, like Michelle Bachmann’s fear of the Renaissance, which, amazingly, is true.

Many novelists address this whole “truth” thing head on, at their peril probably. I’m just finishing up “Freedom” by Jonathan Franzen. I knew from the reviews that it was a great book. Not because the reviews were all great, quite the opposite. It was the admixture of many reviews like that in the New York Times (“A masterpiece of American fiction.”) and many reviews that found it to be just the sheerest crap. That kind of disagreement is usually a good sign.

“Freedom” has a very full cast of characters, friends, married couples, their children. All of them are flawed but essentially sympathetic. This alone is remarkable. Books with similar subject matter so often fall into melodrama, with characters that are obviously good or bad. But “Freedom,” essentially, is about the truth, which is never that cut-and-dry. The truth as it happens; the truth as people remember it; truth as it varies from observer to observer; the truth that others can see but we cannot; the truth of what makes people do what they do; the truth about friendship, relationships, parenting and marriage. It’s so much truth that I can hardly stand it sometimes. It should come with a warning: “Danger! May Cause Self-Reflection.”

I guess that I recommend it, if you feel like you’re strong enough to take the message.