Florida ...

A Month or So Between the Snows of Switzerland
and the Steam of Bangkok

Part V (After Part IV)

March 2001

Thursday, March 1, 2001

My friend, Don Bull, knows more about corkscrews than anyone on this earth. He's written half a dozen books on the subject ... he anchors the definitive web site on the subject ... his personal collection of these screwy things has no peer anywhere ... and, in spite of that, he is a pretty nice guy.

"Yes? ... ..."

"I'm getting there!"

Last night I watched two movies that featured corkscrews in leading roles. I think that somewhere in Don's on-line archives he has a little 'section' devoted to corkscrews in films. DamagePerhaps, he calls it 'corkscrews in literature and art' ... I am not sure. Anyway, today's journal is devoted to the place that the modern "Screwpull" has in contemporary films.

The first film is DAMAGE, starring Jeremy Irons and Juliette Binoche. In my little 'cut', we see Irons start to open a bottle of claret with a 'bar-type' Screwpull. Very Bad ThingsBut, as Irons operates the little engine, the movie viewer's attention is rudely interrupted as Binoche passes between the camera and the all important cork extraction. This, of course, is a strong negative in an otherwise worthwhile film!

The second movie, VERY BAD THINGS (with Cameron Diaz and others), casts the corkscrew in a very bad light: a murder weapon. Like in DAMAGE, a Screwpull is used. However, in this Polygram Video Release, the film's director insisted that the kitchen-model of Don Allen's clever improvement on the ancient 'bottlescrue'1 be used. Stripped of its bottle brace, the Screwpull's Teflon coated worm could easily have been screwed (using a clockwise motion) deep into the heart muscle. But, in the film at hand, we see this little tool employed quite unrealistically; our villain apparently plunges the worm right through skin, flesh and bone with nary a twist. For this point alone, the movie gets but one star from me.

1 A really old word. Sometimes even seen without the 'e' at the end.

Friday, March 2, 2001

March 2001

Dearest reader, this morning the presses rolled a little later than usual. So much to do and so little time left in which to do it ... in less than 48 hours Watcharee and I will start our long return to Bangkok. Miami to Zurich on Swiss Air (about 9 hours over neutral water) ... then Zurich to Bangkok on a Swiss/Thai code share flight (but on this one, nearly a dozen hours will be spent over mostly hostile land).

"Why so busy, Alf? I mean, most of us have real things to do ... you, well ... ah ..."

It was the cable traffic that kept me tied to the wire. And, all of it linked to my search for little Miss Chopsticks.

Yes, the 'clacking' started in my wee hours with this1 from Shanghai:

I'll pay attention on this girl when I return to Taipei.


The next bit of foreign cable traffic came from England. Sian Jones is the Cameron Balloon Company artist who was responsible for turning the sketches of CB2 and CB3 into real balloons. And, it will be her airbrush that will add the perky parts to the girl who is finally chosen to grace the sides of CB4. The Jones wire, too, was in response to seeing my worldwide WANTED poster:

She's great. If only we can find her. The perfect match. Apart from myself,2 of course.

And, as the sun started to rise over my very own Eastern Time Zone, Don Bull3 filed this:

We are leaving Charlotte today. Sorry, we looked everywhere but no luck. We did, however, find a giant Golden Bull (more later!).

On the way here, we thought we might have been on to her in Winston-Salem when we inquired of one tobacco-chewing farmer in blue jean regalia. He spit, nodded his head and responded "Y'all sink ve naw wat dey ve gonna ev tday ba goll see da Miss us ovader." He continued animatedly for another ten minutes but, sadly, there wasn't an interpreter to be found in the field.

We'll take a different route home today so we can continue the search for the elusive Miss. Perhaps, she's making furniture in Lexington, North Carolina or is a NASCAR groupie in Concord. We'll keep trying.


Moving away from my own little self-centered world ... yesterday, a great earthquake seized our American Northwest. And, one of Elephant Polo's very own was practically sitting on top of this vicious epicenter when its awesome magnitude 7.0 roar send her plates, her self and her little goldfish all 'a dancing. But, let's let HouseNet4 take the story5 from here:

Laurie Jones, a Web page designer and a 1973 graduate of Ashland High School, has lived 22 years in Bremerton, Wash., a small town about 10 miles west of Seattle.

"Holy cats, it lasted a really long time," an excited Jones said in a telephone interview with The Tidings about 45 minutes after the quake.

"It was rumbling and rolling. The house felt like it was made out of cardboard and was going to fall down," she said.

Jones was startled by the tumbler, which severely shook her two-story house. She spent the morning calming her two dogs.

"The dogs were really scared," she said.

Cabinets throughout the house flew open and items fell off shelves, covering the floor with clutter. Jones' aquarium lost about a quarter of its water, which splashed onto the kitchen floor. No fish were lost.

"It's definitely the longest and most violent I remember since I've been up here," she said.

1 Dan is a very good friend whom I have known for almost 20 years. We met at The Shanghai Overseas Seaman's Club in the early '80s. Formerly, the Soviet Consulate in Shanghai, the building was converted to a club for foreign seamen not long after China and 'Siberia' had a little border dispute. Anyway, Dan now lives in Taipei with his ROC wife. I hope that Paul can find a link to our last visit together.

2 Yes, God did give Sian the perfect body.

3 Don's earlier ... and I might add, 'enthusiastic' ... words can be reread by you (over and over, if you like) by forcing your browser to click backwards (over and over again).

4 HouseNet is an online magazine that caters to those who are terribly keen on "Entertaining ... Home Improvement ... Sewing Ideas ... Lawn and Garden ... Remodeling".

5 Jones said "fuck", not "cats".

Dear reader, one pair of these socks was purchased in the Patpong area of Bangkok. What does this mean?

Saturday, March 3, 2001

Tomorrow we’ll fly back to Bangkok. Though we’ve only been away since January 17th; it seems so much longer than that.

Aside from a couple of weeks spent ballooning in Switzerland, what did we do for the past six weeks?

I bought some corkscrews to take back with me.

Watcharee got a major haircut.

That’s it?


Dearest reader ... great news!

My friend, Don Bull, may have photographed our Miss Chopsticks ... yes, right here in America!

According to Bull she is traveling under the name of Miss Fu.

What do you think? Is it her? If not, will she do anyway?

Miss Chopsticks?

Sunday, March 4, 2001

Mothers Bread

"10 Recipes for Dainty Sandwiches"1

Ma in her apron ... ever on the lookout for tasty treats for her little family ... and her little friends ...

A million lunch-pails to be filled ... ...

Two point three million2 school lunch-boxes to be filled ...

And, God only knows how many extra mouths ...

A 'Snappy Tidbit' for Sis ... 'Sardine Fingers' for the men ... Junior particularly liked the 'Marmalade Spread' ... the girls at the church social were always wild about those exotic 'Tropical Dainties' ... a 'Relish Roll' for the 'shut-in' next door ... and, of course, 'Neapolitans' for company ...

1 Copyright 1927, Quality Bakers of America, "Makers of Erickson's 'Mothers Bread' ... 'Bread at its Best' ... 'Worth Asking For' ..."

1 During those wonderful pre-war years the average Wisconsin-Minnesota family had 2.3 children. There were no divorces; no unhappy families; no children who balked at eating what Mom put in their lunch boxes; and Pa was always happy to share his little something with the guys on the job.

Until Bangkok ........

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