Where in the World is Alf? (Part I)

Following Bangkok New Year

January 3-22, 2003

Week Starting January 3rd, 2003

Where will these seats/beds take us?

PS Is 'she' going too be there also?

Wednesday, January 8, 2003

The SWISS plane that you 'rode-in' yesterday was a 12 hour flight from Bangkok to Zurich.

Dear reader, what you see here is where we were 12 years ago: Cambodia ... at the "Pol Pot Torture Museum" ... and at Ankor Wat. These are just a dozen pictures that I pulled out of an album.

For the next few weeks I'll be giving a little slide show of some past travels....but, with some surprises built in when they pop up.

Yikes, is that "Gift" in the bathroom?

Thursday, January 9, 2003

Where is this girl? Has anyone seen her?

She was one of my students 27 years ago when I was a young Assistant Professor at Florida International University in Miami.

Friday, January 10, 2003

It is amazing that "That Girl" has not yet been recognized. You know, the one I featured yesterday. Go back ... dear dearest reader ... and take another look. Please. She is from South Florida.

Anyway, today I am back in 1991 ... still in Cambodia ... mostly in the Ankor area. By the way Al Rockoff should be somewhere near the bar at Mango's Bar by now. Do you remember him? He was the famous Vietnam/Cambodian war photographer ... so famous that Hollywood made a movie about him (well, part of the movie was about him ... "Killing Fields"?).

Tomorrow we'll ... well, let's just wait and see ...

PS: 7/11s in Cambodia?

Saturday, January 11, 2003 (a pre-journal ... similar in concept to CNN's "Breaking News"). The regularly scheduled journal for January 11 will appear at the scheduled time.*

Many of my dearest readers are corkscrew addicts.1 In the likely event that things should go horribly wrong this winter ... either because Baghdad pulls a 'smoking gun' or because the man in Pyongyang gets really pissed2 ... well, THOCBDC has acquired some safe property far from where the nuclear bombs are most likely to mushroom or where the small pox bugs might roam. It is at http://www.corkscrew.hm/:

Heard and McDonald Islands

This is the world's most remote corkscrew site: on The Heard and McDonald Islands near Antarctica. As I said, this is just a fallback site should things in Iraq and North Korea go horribly wrong. "Horribly wrong" would also include Virginia (a southern USA state) being rendered uninhabitable for the balance of the millennium.

All addicts are welcome to join THOCBDC on The Heard and McDonald Islands ... to 'ride out the storm'.

'Dear readers' who are not corkscrew collectors need not apply.3

1 "Collecting is an addiction!" - Anon.

2 This morning's BBC and CNN suggest that Kim Jong Il already has three A-bombs next to his Hasbro Erector SetTM

3 Unless they have Patpong credentials.

* Send your e-mail comments to alf@corkscrew-balloon.com. All e-mails are subject to editing and remain the property of THOCBDC.

Saturday, January 11, 2003 (Regularly Scheduled Journal)

The clock is ticking ... the Association of Atomic Scientists have reset their doomsday timepiece to 1/100th of a second before the stroke of midnight. So let's look at the Ultimate Stalinist Hermit Kingdom in happier days. Click quickly ... time is running out.

This was Pyongyang, North Korea about eight years ago. It was my second trip to North Korea ... but the first trip in which some of my children accompanied us.

David and Friendly Guard

Incidentally, all the photographs (except the ones of the airplane tickets and the invitations) were taken by my daughter, Annie Erickson. She has her own web site very close by ... with lots of her own B&W North Korea photos on board.

If there is a tomorrow I'll bring you some more of Pyongyang. Or, maybe I should dash over to Yemen (another trip, long ago) for a peek at its pre-Scud (N. Korean version) days.

Tick-tock-tick ...

Sunday, January 12, 2003

Today's photographs of North Korea (like with yesterday's pictures) were taken by my daughter, Annie Erickson, in 1995.

This second trip to North Korea (the first one was in 1991) was to attend the WWF Championships. Yes ... the World Wrestling Federation Championships ... the same thing that you see on late night sports TV ... when and where weirdly costumed hulks toss slutty babes of other hulks at each other before splintering each other with break-away chairs. You DO know what I mean! Maybe this sort of thing washes well in Dayton or Jersey City but, IMHO, it did not export nicely (perhaps that is just what the North Korean leaders wanted).

The North Korean audience remained quite silent at the entire spectacle ... even our family (with ringside seats) failed to clap on cue. It was strange! This is why I am convinced that the madness of the winter 2002-2003 comes not from Iraq but from Pyongyang.

Tomorrow ... Beijing or Yemen? Bhutan or Antarctica? Or, nudes from the Patpong Corkscrew Club?

Monday, January 13, 2003

As it looked like the Big wars will be put on hold for a bit, it seemed like a good time to rearrange the furniture at our little house.

Before we started shifting beds and chairs; computers and printers ... well, they were neighbors. Yes in adjacent rooms. So we just moved everything from here to there and everything from there to here. Yes, the wires were the most difficult bits.

Only my friend, Don Bull, will look at these pictures.

PS: "Yikes, where is she?"

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Reader Jeon-sik Cho of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea writes:

From: Jeon-sik Cho
Sent: Tuesday, January 14, 2003 5:36 PM
To: alf@corkscrew-balloon.com
Subject: WWF in North Korea

Dear Sir,

I happened across your web site while researching information regarding the WWF (now known as the WWE). On your recent journal entry you commented about your visit to The Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and the WWF demonstration held at that time. In your entry you wrote the following: "The North Korean audience remained quite silent at the entire spectacle ... even our family (with ringside seats) failed to clap on cue. It was strange!" This would seem to suggest that the people in attendance to the show did not "get it", or failed somehow to enjoy the display.

I am writing to you sir to correct that perhaps mistaken belief, and prevent the spread of misinformation. People in Korean generally do not "clap", shout or whistle as western people do to show their appreciation for a display. The silence is offered in profound respect to the performers, to show them that the people are watching their display with nothing less than their complete attention.

There is in fact a large movement in North Korea that very much reveres the WWF and their craft. People in my neighbourhood gather to watch the shows on a contraband satellite receiver at a nearby neighbours house on a weekly basis. This is serious in that if we were caught it is likely that anyone attending would be punished severely. Western ideas are not welcome here in North Korea, and the WWF apitomizes the excesses of western culture. Scantily clad women who are obviously promiscuous because their loyalty to the brave fighters changes from week to week. Muscular men spouting bravado at each other, and doing serious violence upon each other's person. The show you saw was an attempt by the government to root out the underground members of a secret society (another reason no-one would show any appreciation for the performers) by bringing them to the surface with what they wanted most.

Thousands of people in North Korea live a second, secret life that is carefully hidden away from those who would punish us for doing so. My public Korean name is Jeon-sik Cho, but in my second life the name that is true to my heart is "Bad-Ass Brutha". I have directed my wife, children and immediate family to address me as such when in the privacy of our home. Of course, the others who watch the WWF with me also use this form of address. My wife's alternate name is "Layla Loveless", and I have named my three sons "Rock", "Hurricane", and "Relentless".

My oldest boy has already learned how to perform the "Power Slam" and is working earnestly on the "Ring Dive". When we have free time we push all of the furniture to the outside of our modest apartment and pretend the center of the room is center stage for a WWF Smackdown. My wife dons a special sequin dress she keeps hidden in the closet, and calls the rounds while my sons and I don our own costumes. The neighbour below us does not mind because he is one of us (he is called "Rock Crusher"). Sometimes he comes up to our apartment, and we use a square area made of garden trellis to simulate a "cage match". My wife applies bandaids to the winner.

I hope this letter clears up any mistaken impressions you may have of the people of North Korea.

Jeon-sik Cho a.k.a. "Bad-Ass Brutha" (and family).

P.S. Tomorrow THOCBDC will attempt to provide photographic evidence that may have something to do with the above letter.

P.P.S. Meanwhile THOCBDC's three charter members of the Patpong Corkscrew Club send all of you a big hello using the facilities of their new 1.2 million baud line. This improved 'pipe' should allow you to zoom in a little closer.

P.P.P.S. from a reader: "Alf, a little tighter with the cropping, please."

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Today is dedicated to my very good friend Stephani Weaver.

Thursday, January 16, 2003

The 'chatter' in the "Backroom" of late has been about modem speeds back in the early days of Compuserve, Prodigy, Telenet, Tymnet and Steam. I remember using my Radio Shack Model 100 at 300 baud....and watching the letters slide across the 8 line screen as if they had been written to me by my typing instructor. Pictures and color were right out.

Anyway, these thoughts took me back to a time and place where most of us were just shifting into 4 digit modem speeds.

Just shy of 10 years ago ... in March of 1993 .... some 'festers from LAWSIG gatherered in Denver for the trip to Breckenridge. But, already I have said too much ... I'll let Paul pick up the tale.

Friday, January 17, 2003

To the regular readers here at THOCBDC: please tolerate our little memory trips ... soon, I assure you, we will run out of things to remember. But, the decade has gone by so fast ... baud rates have escalated so rapidly ... that if someone doesn't take up the quill a whole generation will never know that computing used to be a team sport; that at one time people sat around one big table and 'talked' to each other without ever 'saying' a word. And when they had nothing more to 'say', they drank.

It was early February in 1994. Paul, Gabby, myself and a fellow (a local LAWSIG person) whose name escapes me agreed to meet at Kelly's Logan House on Delaware Avenue in Wilmington. We chose the Logan House because it was a bar that my dad used to visit when I was a kid growing up in Wilmington. Of course, back then it was called something else (I forget ... anyone???).

Only a few pictures remain of this meeting. Gabby and Paul are clearly recognizable. The other two? One is the 'fellow' ... the girl; I have no idea. And I was behind the camera.

If this historical vignette has no interest for you ... then click HERE.

For the sexual-religious film buff ... click HERE [515k .AVI file].

Saturday, January 18, 2003

"Send boxes of corkscrews." - Don Bull

This afternoon I opened a small brown package that had been delivered to the place where I am staying ... hey, it was just left on the doorstep. There was no return address. It was addressed to me and, apparently, the proper postage had been paid.

Of course this famous Don Bull quote did not go through my head until after I had fluoroscoped1 the box.

This is what was inside.

1 Fluoroscope machines were ubiquitous in shoe stores in the 40's and '50's. The contraption was about half the size of a contemporary Coke vending machine; it had three sets of eyepieces; and one 3 inch by 9 inch slot at the base. The child (only children underwent fluoroscopic analysis when being fitted for shoes) put his freshly 'shoed' feet into the machine; and in a living miracle of wartime technology Mom, the shoe salesman and the kid ... yes, all three of them ... looked right through the leather, skin, bone, blood and sole. The salesman had a pointer that showed Mom how well those Buster Browns fit. The kid wiggled his toes and saw his bones move. Years later many of these kids lost their feet to Big "C." The manufacturer of the machines had little money. Lawyers were not interested. Nowadays fluoroscope machines can be seen at flea markets ... since 9/11 they have gained a new lease on life.

Sunday, January 19, 2003


The "Good Old Days."

The way it was.

Sigh ... while going through the old Slug'fest and Sloth'fest albums from the early 90's1 my eye drifted further down my bookshelf to the '80s.

1982 was a very good year ... I was single and had no one to worry about. I had recently retired from my university professorship and I had a lot of free time.

Anyway, these few snaps are of Patpong back when it was uncluttered by knockoff wares, tagalong wives and other unnecessaries.

1 As YOU (former LAWSIGers) read this Paul is now assembling about 35 - 40 pictures of our Seattle 'fest ... the one where everyone got drunk and wore balloon hats in some Mexican/Italian restaurant ... the one where we visited John's private bar ... the one where we drank Norwegian beer at picnic tables in some Washington State Norwegian town alfresco bar. This, of course, will make sense only to YOU ... not to any of the rest of 'you' ['you' can go directly to the Patpong bits].

Monday, January 20, 2003

Where did you get those contacts, girl?

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

I 'found' some corkscrews today.

A couple of the rarest ones came to me in a box that was obviously meant to be delivered to Don Bull ... under his "Send me boxes of corkscrews" dictum. A couple of the corkscrews Don and Joe Paradi will remember from our 'faux auction' in Connecticut a half dozen years ago ... they were part of Bob Nugent's collection. The last two I pulled out of a drawer ... God only knows where I got them.

PS My Ironman quartz watch gained just 1 second for every 132,632 ticks during the last nineteen months. Throughout this time the two clocks were sitting next to each other in a darkened room ... unable to see each other's face. A long time ago I wrote something else about this boring experiment ... though it might have had something to do with another watch. Paul will know.

1 Though the atomic clock monitor adjusted for the switch from Daylight Savings Time, the Ironman did not.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

One night in Bangkok I was watching Larry King Live. Larry was interviewing Bill Maher about his new book, When you ride ALONE you ride with bin Laden.

"Yes, I should read that!" ... and then I didn't give it another thought until tonight when I saw it on the shelf at Barnes & Noble.

For you, dear reader, I have stolen a little more than a 'baker's dozen' from his book.

"Stole what, Alf?"

Well, they are sort of like up to date WWII posters ... in Maher's PI style. Take a look.

Next: Part II

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