Bangkok in the Heart of Winter, Part III

Between Part II and Part IV

February 6-11, 2002

Wednesday, February 6, 2002


This afternoon I again walked ... west to east ... across the Taksin Bridge; however, this time I followed the south footpath with its down-river views.

Like I did yesterday, with the photos that do not speak loudly for themselves, I have added a few words. Incidentally, one of the panorama shots clearly shows how a moving object can easily interfere with Canon's 'stitch' technology.



On the way to her execution, this girl was mockingly asked by a young man named Theophilus for flowers and fruit from the garden of heaven. He must have pleased her; for at the last minute she sent an angel back to him with three apples and three roses in a basket, and with word that she would be waiting for him under the trees, amid the bushes, whence they came. As soon as he tasted the unearthly fruit, he had a change of heart, which cost him his life also.

Englebert adds little to Dorothy's life except to say that she was a virgin and that she shunned the advances of the Emperor Maximinu, Caius. He makes no mention of the fruit or flowers.3

1 Meyer, though a distinguished teaching gynecologist and the co-founder of The Women's Hospital in Providence, was not a successful practitioner. Being an albino-dwarf severely limited his exposure to female patients, especially those not dependent upon charity for the care of their 'lady problems' ... this prejudice was especially prevalent in the early 1900s when a woman's stereotypical view of her 'intimate' physician ran to the 'romance'. Had Meyer chosen a specialty other than gynecology, he, like many other well-published medical specialists, would have been able to live comfortably on an income from an exclusively private practice. When he died in the early '60s his estate qualified for short or 'summary' distribution.

2 I guess this means that something big is about to happen in the UK in the next few days; it's been a half-century since he died and she flew back from Africa.

3 In fact he says "... information is almost entirely lacking ..." about the girl.

Thursday, February 7, 2002

You heard it first on NEWNES!

Yes, less than 24 hours ago we reported: "1952: King George VI died."

However in a not too prescient footnote we went out on a limb to speculate that "something big" was about to happen in the UK. Apparently, that's not going to be the case; the Silver Jubilee (back in 1977) will not be eclipsed by this year's Golden one. According to this morning's International Herald Tribune the country has become rather ho-hum about her anniversary.1

Turning the page in NEWNES:

Both this morning's Bangkok Daily News and the today's Bangkok Raht 'front-page' graphic photographs of two girls who suffered, respectively, a botched boob job3 and a terrible tummy tuck. Though the newspapers don't say, we think that the same doctor was responsible for each 'something-went-horribly-wrong'. Of course, had these poor girls lived in Los Angeles they would have found immediate shelter in the protective custody of lawyers.4 After the lawyers subtracted their 50 to 75% contingent fees and other costs not covered by the legalese laden documents that the girls signed on the spot ... well they might just have enough to support a decent LA drug habit. But this is Thailand ... not much money will change hands, but the girls will, at the end of the day, probably lead happier lives.

Can it be? Our very own Amma on the cover of the January issue of Bangkok's TIMEOUT magazine? A charter member of the Patpong Corkscrew Club given an all-Thailand recognition? Sure looks like her.

1 Few of her subjects know that before her father passed away at his country home in Sandringham she was just plain Lilibet Windsor. BUT, once George VI (the 'Modest Monarch') died she became, at a stroke, either (or, both): "Queen of Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the British Dominions Beyond the Seas" or "Queen Elizabeth II by the Grace of God, Queen of this Realm and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith." We need some help from Andy Page on this one. Or, perhaps, a member of my UK balloon crew will lend a word.

2 In the final scene from Casablanca, Humphrey Bogart (as 'Rick'), says something about Benghazi. If I recall correctly, Bogart standing within earshot of Claude Reins wonders aloud about whether or not some free-French garrison over at Benghazi needs help. The movie audience is left with the feeling that the two men will continue their exciting adventures in a sequel to Casablanca. But, of course, that never happens. Perhaps, it is best that it ended that way: that great films like Casablanca and Gone With the Wind stand-alone forever. Just look at what happened to Airport.

3 It was an editorial call as to whether to add the blue bar. One went without it; the Raht left it to the reader's imagination. But from the 'signature' style of the horizontal bar (allowing just a hint of under-breast to show) the Raht must have outsourced the work to Morton.

4 A couple of years ago I reported (fictitiously) on the crash of a Disney owned balloon in France. My gruesome account had a couple dozen school children burned to crisps by the exploding propane. An accompanying aerial photograph of a rural trash heap suggested that this was all that was left of the balloon and the children. Yes, you guessed it, a California personal injury law firm wrote me an e-mail asking for details:

Subj: 23 children killed in Avallon France
Date: 12/12/2001 9:25:33 AM SE Asia Standard Time

Dear Alf:

Could you give me more information about the Avallon France hot air balloon accident that killed 23 school children.

I will greatly appreciate your prompt reply.


Angelo M. Eiras
Rouda, Feder, Tietjen & Zanobini
44 Montgomery Street, Suite 4000
San Francisco, CA 94104
Tel: (415) 398-5398
Fax: (415) 398-8169


Though I personally thought that my account of the Disney balloon disaster sounded very far-fetched ... well, I must have just totally forgotten how terribly exhaustive American law schools can be when teaching their students where to look for fees.

Not wanting to wound the ego of my interlocutor ... and hoping to turn the firm's attention in another direction I wrote back that "... all was well ... thanks anyway ... no need to bother yourself" ... etc.).

Dear Angelo,

You'll be pleased to know that everything ended on a happy note. All of those 'left behind': the moms, the dads, the little brothers, the big sisters ... even the odd gramps and the one or two real-close 'shirt-tail' kin ... well, they all decided that everything would be forgiven if a few free balloon rides came their way.




The story did not end here! In late July, THOCBDC received further correspondence from the would-be balloon litigators.

Friday, February 8, 2002

No NEWNES, no Wescott, no Englebert, no Bangkok Daily New, no International Herald Tribune, no Bangkok Post ...

Today I played with the 'stitch' technology on my Canon ELPH. Actually I put it to a test aboard a moving and turning and rolling boat: one of the Oriental's shuttle boats that runs back and forth across the Chao Phya River ... to and from The Oriental and the Sala Rim Naam side.

All four panoramas ... that ranged from 4 to 7 'panels' turned out remarkably well. In one of them you can see where a passing boat got chopped in half by the ELPH's shutter. But despite the boat's movement (in 3 directions) it is hard to see where the seams lie (save in the case of the semi-boat).

I have added a brief description to each of the four photographs.

Saturday, February 9, 2002

At this time we at have to interrupt our regularly scheduled program of NEWNES, Wescott, and the others to bring an emergency service to all of our readers in Bangladesh.

According to this morning's Bangkok Post, the government in Dhaka has confiscated all copies of the US-based weekly NEWSWEEK. According to Bangladesh officials: "The government has banned publication, sale, distribution and preservation" of all copies of the February 11th Asian edition because it includes images of the Prophet Mohammed. The government in Dhaka felt that the publication of the images "may hurt the religious feelings of Muslims."

However, for our readers in Bangladesh who won't get hurt feelings by looking at the images ... well, you tough old birds will have to click right:


But, wait just one second. Once you get there you will be challenged once more. Before you can open the door, so to speak, you will have to type in a "user" name and a "password". If you do not already have a personalized user name and password you will have to enter "user" for "user" and "password" for "password". Should you confuse the two ... and enter "password" in the "user" box and/or "user" on the "password" line ... you will be denied admission. Also, if you spell either "user" or "password" in any way other than the way that we have spelled them you will, as well, be denied the right to see the images.1

For our readers in the rest of the world, you can bypass all this rigmarole and just hit this:


1 We at feel fairly confident that this highly secure "user and password" protection scheme will keep these images of the Prophet Mohammed from falling onto the eyes of the easily offended. Of course no protection plan can prevent somebody who, through blind luck or through endless trial and error, manages to guess or work out that the correct "user" key is "user" and the proper "password" is "password". But 4 to the 26th power (or, is it 26 to the 4th power?) AND 8 to the 26th power (26th to the 8th?) are 'pretty damn good security'.

PS. Readers are advised to check tomorrow's journal for an important announcement.

Sunday, February 10, 2002



Being the end-of-the-week family day, the Bangkok Daily News has a something for both Dad and the kids. Pop's eye, of course, is caught by Sunday's half-page super model; junior, of course, looks with a ... "holy fuck, that must hurt like shit" ... at the poor kid with a shaft of something sharp sticking out from his blood smeared chest.

The Bangkok Post, eschewing sex and gore (as is its want on Sunday), impartially reports on the battle between the owners of copyrighted material and the people who want to make a profit3 from selling copyrighted material. As well, it considers the internal tug of war going on inside the buyer: the moral dilemma of paying full price for something or paying one-tenth of the full price for the same thing.

Now to the important news that I promised you yesterday:

Elephant Model

The House of Corkscrew-Balloon Dot Com is proud to announce the winning names for the design, plan [and for being a part of the composition] of its 4th hot air balloon. This newest machine will be the most technologically sophisticated member in our stable of fine corkscrew-themed passenger carrying balloons. Lovingly handcrafted by this award winning design team it will leave the Cameron factory untouched by the commercial fingers that normally sew together such things as flying Burger Kings or aerial Durex condoms.

Worm Model

First, to SIAN JONES4 of Cameron Balloons (Bristol, England) for coming up with the winning sketch ... the overall oeuvre ... for CB4.

Second, to her good friend and a fellow worker at Cameron Balloons, JAN L********, for coming up with the winning body for CB4.

Worm Model

Today I want to show you some photographs that show the way this thing was done for just one pose (just one side) of this balloon.

Five photographs roughly tell the mechanics of how this came about: the photographer's 'raw' pose of the body, the artist's manipulation of the body via Photoshop, the artist's merger of the manipulated body, the transfer of the body to the design concept and, finally, the overall impression of what the whole thing will look like when it has been put together and is about to lift off from the ground.5


But, of most interest here is the wealth of 'background' information in the original photograph of the nude model ... tossed clothing, eclectically matched furniture, hasty window drapes, an overturned laundry basket, one coffee cup, a lone fishing pole, some throw pillows and various other bits on the eating table ... all the things that you would normally find around any young woman's apartment on January 10, 2002.

The other photographs speak well for themselves.

As you can see from this side of the balloon, The Patpong Corkscrew Club is the chief addressee of the stage one artwork. Later in the week, you'll see that the Screwy Tuskers Elephant Polo Team is a co-beneficiary in the overall balloon envelope.

Girl Model

But, this is enough for one night (it's midnight here in Bangkok ... noon in New York). Tomorrow we will reveal more ... including how the clever use of a household Hoover allowed Jan a good swing at the ball.

1 Photos of both Victoria and Albert (actually, their statues) can be found in these pages ... from when Watcharee and I went to London just before Christmas.

2 Barbara Cartland, best known for her 'pink' Suite 1012 (see October 24 and October 26, 1999) here at The Oriental Hotel, was equally prolific during her long literary life. Her forte ran to soppy romances in which the heroine never gave up her virginity until she had the ring. Journal writers Alf Erickson, Linda Santarelli and Elizabeth Matherat each spent time in her suite. Now that Barbara is dead I think the hotel has toned down the pink.

3 Ten percent profit for selling the real thing; eighty percent profit for selling the 'real' thing.

4 Though Sian was not the artist responsible for the design of CB1, CB2 or CB3, it was her spray gun that gave life to the naked ladies on CB3. For the design and construction history of these earlier balloons (particularly CB3) a click or two over to our history section will be educational and fun.

5 A sixth photograph shows the 'raw' elephant. Click here to see it, and please do compare it with the artist's clever manipulation of its anatomy ... thus allowing for the requisite corkscrew motif.

Monday, February 11, 2002


That out of the way we can start in again with the balloon. Yesterday ... after our obligatory murmurs of praise for the art involved ... we showed you, dear reader, the track that Jan L******* had to take to reach her lofty (but reclining) position atop the elephant, atop the balloon.

Today we want to take you back to Sian's apartment; actually we want to take you back there twice ... first on January 5, 2000; the second time five days later on the 10th.5

Mallet Model

On January 5, 2002 we see a nude Jan sitting on what appears to be several dark green velvet cushions that were hastily placed atop a wooden chair. Her right arm is extended downward in a 'ready-to-strike' position. In her hand she is holding what appears to the lower part of a Hoover.6,7


In this photograph ... unlike the ones taken five days later ... the laundry basket is in an upright position and there is no coffee cup on the table. However, the table and one of its accompanying chairs are mysteriously draped, covered, festooned (?) with yards of bright yellow fabric. The room also flaunts cast aside clothing not seen in the later pictures.


Moving to today's January 10, 2002 photograph: the one showing our naked Jan with her arm in an upright position, we again see her seated on a chair cushioned crazily with green velvet things; but, this time ... perhaps to give her greater elevation ... there appears to be a plaid blanket beneath it all. The presence of a yellow beach ball or medicine ball is very puzzling. As noted in footnote 5, the lone coffee cup and the telltale tacked window treatment sets this scene apart from what was seen on January 5th.

The rest of the photographs (save for two) merely show how the apartment scene was transformed into the 'opus' on the balloon ... for both the Hoover shot and the raised arm shot.

The two excepted photographs give proof to my promise that Corkscrew-Balloon #4 is a joint project of the Screwy Tuskers and The Patpong Corkscrew Club (Thailand). This, of course, means that pressure is building to present CB#4 at either a PCC meeting or a Screwy Tusker match. Or, at both!

Again it is after midnight in Bangkok. We'll continue tomorrow.

1 NEWNES' longest entry.

2 Perhaps something to do with international law?

3 Did NEWNES mean that the Vatican City was created as an independent sovereign state or did he really mean that the Vatican City created an independent sovereign state? The Vatican, of course, has been the papal residence since 1377. But up until the middle of the next to the last century the boot of "Italy" was but a bunch of fiefdoms.

4 Though this happened less than a half century ago, very few now know what it was all about.

5 If you compare the window treatment and the coffee cup placement of yesterday's visit with today's January 10th visit you'll have to conclude that this weighty evidence suggests that both 'shots' took place within minutes of each other (the 'stamped' date on the film further confirms this).

6 Actually it appears to be part of a pipe through which, in normal times, nasty stuff is sucked up from the rug or floor and ingested into the body of the Hoover. A flattish head is attached to the lower end of this pipe; its purpose being to allow the partial vacuum that is inside the pipe to 'disperse' itself over a thin line ... allowing a wider swatch of nasty stuff to be sucked up into the body of the Hoover with fewer strokes or sweeps.

7 This part of the Hoover cleverly mimics a polo mallet ('stick').

Next: Part IV

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