Autumn in Bangkok II

Following Autumn in Bangkok I

September 8-13, 2003

Monday, September 8, 2003 [NB]



Fifteenth Century

The Count of Urbino's daughter, married to Alexander, Lord of Pistoia. It was a happy marriage for a year or two; but Alexander fell in love with a lady most unsuitably named Pacifica, and put his wife out of the house. She took refuge in a convent of the Poor Clares. When the passion for Pacifica had worn itself out and Alexander wanted her back, it was too late: she had become an abbess and taken irrevocable vows.


"All reactionaries are paper tigers. In appearance, the reactionaries are terrifying, but in reality they are not so powerful. From a long-term point of view, it is not the reactionaries but the people who are really powerful."

- "Talk With the American Correspondent, Anna Louise Strong" (August 1946), Selected Works, Vol. IV, p.100.

Yesterday afternoon Watcharee, Golf, Pom and I took the Sky Train over to the MBK Mall (near the Siam Center). We had an appointment to meet P'Kig's younger sister, Sa, and one of her other sisters. Sa wanted us to bring a large Buddha back to Florida to give to P'Kig (**). As you can see from the photo, this particular Buddha is a pretty meaty piece of metal. And, since Thai law prohibits the unofficial export of images of Buddah, Sa was reluctantly forced to take it back on the bus or find another home for it. Anyway, Sa is a pretty cool girl: she has a diamond set into her upper left canine tooth. You can catch a flash of it in the picture ... but you have to look closely to see it (***).

Later we stopped at Starbucks to buy Annie a BANGKOK Starbucks 20oz coffee mug.

"Alf, doesn't Bangkok have anything more cultural than a Starbucks ... or has your family affiliation blinded you?"

Much later in the evening Army, Tick-Tock (sp.) and Beige came over to River Garden to try on their new Screwless Tusker lounging garb. Though I don't want to swamp you with pictures on this already heavy Kodak day, here are two that presage what's to come.

[NB] Readers in places just to the east of the International Date Line can easily be confused about today's date. Since our house journal usually 'goes to bed' sometime before 11:00am Bangkok time, readers just a few time zones to the east of THOCBDC many times find their editions on their desks while it is still early in the 'day-before'. As I write this it is dinner time in Montreal, Boston and Lima, Peru; in Bremerton, WA, Tuktoyaktuk (between Mackenzie Bay and Cape Bathurst) and in the Galapagos it's approaching cocktail hour ... going further west you find people who are still lingering over lunch. And all of this is going on the day BEFORE my today.

* He tipped over into his dish of Oysters Rockefeller after suffering a major heart attack at his favorite Monte Carlo restaurant. Or, maybe that was King Farouk of Egypt who did that.

** P'Kig is the Thai girl who Watcharee met in Florida ... remember? Sure you do ... we took her out to dinner: up to Max's Place on the beach. Anyway, Sa and her other sister live in Bangkok though, originally, they hail from 'up-country'.

*** My camera did not capture her tattoo. On reflection, maybe the tooth with the diamond is the one that bites next-door to the canine.

Tuesday, September 9, 2003



Died 303

The first of these Christian officials of Diocletian's court in Nicomedia, seeing the second tortured, challenged him and the torturers to a trial of endurance. Flesh was whipped off the rival's bones; salt and vinegar were sprinkled in their wounds; they were grilled over a slow fire: nothing much was left of them, but their obstinacy lasted. The torturers finally gave up hope of the Christians' changing their almost maddening minds, and hanged them. (**)

Yesterday Watcharee, Golf and I went to Si Quey's Place (AKA The Bangkok Museum of Forensic Science). Though Watcharee and I had been there twice before (once on our very first 'date'), this was Golf's first visit; she was visibly shaken by the experience of being so close to Si Quey.

THOCBDC grudgingly admits that a lot of its log-mileage comes from visitors to its ... ah ... 'historical' pages. While upper management would like to think that the majority of the computers that have in their 'favorites' list prefer to wander around our offerings of articles and photographs about corkscrews, hot air balloons and elephant polo ... well, the raw numbers scream otherwise. Frankly, the biggest chunk of our clients go directly to the spilled blood pages. (***)

Buy Ritter stock?

Yesterday's Bangkok Post reported that the Thai government will offer lethal injection as a 'parting-option' for criminals on death row. The accompanying photograph showed what appears to be Ritter's Model 111 dispatch table (****). Readers are asked to compare this picture with the ones THOCBDC published back when Tim McVeigh was launched into his own three-stage orbit. (*****)

Reader M.A. from Yemen asks if we have any more pictures of the Screwless Tusker team. In particular, he seeks a tighter shot of the team shirts and "something with a little more action". Can do!

* In prior years when THOCBDC pointed out this 'coincidence' nary a reader volunteered any help: did James die on Flodden Field? UK reader A. Page should know the answer to this one.

** In one of the 'Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbooks' ("TRAVEL", I think) ... or, maybe it was in one of those niche-market foreign phrase books ... I can't remember which (hey, THOCBDC has a lot of stuff on its bookshelves) ... Anyway, the authors of the book usefully provided its readers, should they be kidnapped, with six ways (six Romance languages) to say to their captors "No matter how much you torture me I will not tell you what you want to know."

*** Over the next few days 'fresh' meat will be added to our existing Si Quey site. Little of it is really new; most will be just 'better' shots of the existing works. But, don't go there right now ... give us some time [as if there is even a correlation between footnote readers and Si Quey fans]. Oh, OK, here's one that hasn't been seen before ... but no more until Paul has finished his dinner.

**** Just because it says "Ritter" on the label does not mean that it necessarily came from a Ritter factory. Puntip Plaza and Patpong Night Market shoppers know full well that 2,000 baht Rolexes were not made in Switzerland; is this Ritter but another Bangkok Rolex?

***** According to The Bangkok Post the first injection produces unconsciousness; the second causes muscle paralysis; the third brings the heart to a stop. From the first 'prick' until the last beat only five minutes are expected to lapse. Apparently the same mix of cocktails that was used in the USA will be used here in Thailand. Though bullets may remain as an option.

PS: Though this man is not from the Si Quey collection, he might as well be part of it ... provided the Museum of Forensic Science had some photojournalists on its staff. This fellow was caught dragging around a bag of people bones ... with what appears to be some attached 'jerky'.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003



Died 1306

This Augustinian monk was a vegetarian. During an illness which resulted from fasting to excess, a stew of pigeons was set before him, by order of his superior. The very sight of it disgusted him, and a miracle immediately took place: the skewers broke, the gravy sucked up into the cooked veins, feathers grew, and the birds flew out the window.

Years after his death, when parts of blessed bodies were at a premium, a German friar cut off Nicholas' arms for his own monastery, and tried to escape with them. It was not possible; though he walked fast all night, he was still in sight of the monastery at daybreak; and the old arms were bleeding, though they had been buried so long. Upon occasion, one is told, they still do.

Of all the objects in Bangkok's Museum of Forensic Science none ... save for Si Quey himself ... attracts more young viewers (mostly males, naturally) than that of the anonymous 'head-shot'. Not a full head, mind you; only half a head. But viewers are not shortchanged, for Mr. Dead 'n Plastic has been band-saw-sliced ever so smartly (jaw to crown) ... which, of course, gives the curious an easy-trace of the bullet that so pauselessly 'rifled' from the man's forehead to the rear exit.

In just three days we shall roll into Hua Hin. Surely from then on the Screwless Tuskers will be surrounded by the world's flash bulbs, scores of local 'wannabes' and hundreds of autograph hounds. Understandably, any opportunity for quiet and reflective pictures of these shy lassies will be lost once these professionals start their avaricious work. So, before the terribly intoxicating spotlight of ....

"That's a bit much, Alf ... even for you."

I was just trying to ease into some mug shots.


* A Scot who explored Niger in 1796. Though worthy in retrospect, his quest did not generate much interest at the time; his death never made the broadsheet obituaries and it's only a guess as to when he died. Newnes's compiler, Collison, can only come up with " ...about 1805."

Thursday, September 11, 2003



Ninth Century

A lucky Calabrian monk, said never to have known 'bodily disease or mental perturbation.' He was one of those who worked on the manuscript copy of the Gospels known as Codex 13.

Died 1276

A woman who learned in a vision what to wear: a pigskin with the bristles inside and an iron chain as a belt.

Yesterday the Screwless Tuskers received, via Express Mail, their VIP passes. Along with the seven picture-passes for the players and their owners the box contained 50 complimentary VIP passes. If any readers plan to be in Hua Hin anytime between September 13 and the 21st these passes are in 'awaits' just for you. (***)

In intensely private correspondence among and between the participants and the organizers of the King's Cup Elephant Polo Tournament much has been said about handicapping: the added weight that a strong team should shoulder before taking a victory lap. For example, the all-powerful Chivas Regal team must score 3 additional goals before it is at 'scratch' with a totally unburdened field rival. And Mercedes Benz Germany (****) needs 2 before it can move into plus territory. The Screwless Tuskers (seeded 12th out of 12) has a zero handicap. Sadly, the employment of negative handicaps (successfully pioneered at WEPA) was not something that TEPA wanted to bite at. However, the Screwless Tuskers are very pleased that its players will fall on the comfortable side of the 'two hand rule'. (*****)

Readers from all over continue to demand more photographs of the Screwless Tuskers. T. Parsons from Beloit, Wisconsin wants "... a full frontal shot." But, half way around the globe, Anna V., from Petropavlovski-Kamchatski on the Kamchatka peninsula writes "... how long is their hair, in the back?"

In a strangely 'edited' photograph The Bangkok Daily News carried this above-the-fold beach scene without comment. Below the fold Morton's traditional darkroom techniques hide the bloody bits.

* Yes, NEWNES uses two Ls in his spelling of libeller.

** Reader H.R.P. of Tooting-Beckwith noted (in unpublished correspondence from last year): "Is it just a mathematical fluke that the WTC disaster took place exactly 79 years later? That the number 79, when reduced by the number of virgins to be awarded martyrs upon their arrival in heaven, is 7? Seven being the Arabic number for the number of days in the week?"

*** Fashionably decorated with the Screwless Tuskers logo ... well, it won't be long before some of them find their way onto e-Bay.

**** That name alone should give it a handicap of at least 6.

***** The 'two-hand rule' allows ladies to grip their sticks with both hands; gentleman can only use one.

PS ... or, maybe a footnote to a footnote: A. Page of the UK expectedly replied to THOCBDC's cry for help in re the possible connection between James' death on 9 September 1513 and the mess at Flodden Field on the same day. [Whether any quotation marks are needed ... and if so, how many degrees 'removed' they should be (if any) ... was left in limbo.]

Subj: Flodden field 9th September 1513!
Date: 9/10/2003 7:44:44 AM SE Asia Standard Time

Alf as requested!

As the sun set on Flodden field, James went down fighting, killing five men with his pike before it shattered in his hands. He then drew his sword and slew five more before he was finally hacked to death. When his body was found in the aftermath, it was found to have been pierced by at least five blows from bills and one arrow. In death James was joined by 10,000 of his fellow countrymen including a large proportion of the Scottish nobility (Two Bishops, Nine Earls, and Fourteen Lords of Parliament.). The English lost somewhere between One and Four thousand men.

The one modern day legacy of the battle is that most haunting and evocative pipe lament "flowers of the field" which whenever I hear it moves me to tears for not only does it lament those cut down at Flodden but particularly in the last century at such places as Ypres, The Somme, Cambrai, Paschendale where Europe rushed to war through the compacts of alliances and the dictates of friends.

As Shokolov pens in his masterpiece, Silent flows the Don, "sagt Die mir Die blumen Sind?"

Bye 4 now

PPS: And this from reader J.B. at

In a message dated 9/10/2003 11:18:28 PM SE Asia Standard Time, writes:


A bit of searching reveals that James IV did indeed die in the Battle of Flodden Field. You may want to read more, here: ..... and, on a more recent note we have the mysterious Mungo Park. Turns out he had quite a scuffle with the local zombies during his trek. More information on Mungo Park versus the zombies can be found here:, though I tend to wonder at this as source material, it does make for small amusement.

As ever,

Friday, September 12, 2003



Eleventh Century

Guy or Guido's poverty-stricken parents were content to be miserable and to fear God. He himself, if at an early age he had not found employment in the church, certainly would have endeavoured to get on in the world; it is not certain if he would have succeeded. The spirit of gain was apparent, and bad luck constant, throughout his blessed career. In order to make money for charity he entered into a partnership with a merchant in Brussels; and set sail for England with a boat-load of cheap goods; he was promptly shipwrecked. In later life, he persuaded a company of pious Belgians to take him as their guide to the Holy Land: they all caught some disease and died; and it took him seven years to get back.

According to one of my bathroom magazines the newest move in digital cameras is toward giving the photographer greater optical zooming power. This once was the case ... and then it seemed to fall out of favor for a few years ... and now it is apparently again back in vogue.

What I mean is this: about five years ago I bought a Sony Mavica that was fitted with a 14 power optical zoom (but, no 2nd stage digital zoom); it also used a floppy disk for storage...then, for a few years all the Japanese builders worried more about 'pocketability' and the number of pixels on a picture, so my next camera (a tiny Canon) had only a 3 power optical zoom but miles and miles of Compactflash Card warehouse space ... now my newest Nikon 5700 has an 8 power optical lens along with a 4 power digital enhancement plus a one gigabyte Flash Card.


This morning I 'tested' my old Sony against my newer Nikon. For starters, the Sony's floppy disk filled up after only 11 pictures (taken at maximum resolution); but the Nikon's tiny Compact Flash card said it still had more than 4,500 empty places, even with three days of shooting under its belt. Take a look.

"Boring! Anything new from Si Quey ... or your team?"



PPS: Great Leaders think alike: ... from The Bangkok Post, four days ago:

D-day for stray dogs as Apec summit looms

City hall will today start clearing the inner city of stray dogs in preparation for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit next month.

The measure targets stray dogs in Phra Nakhon, Pomprap Satruphai and Samphanthawong where up to 2,000 dogs are believed to wander.

Apec delegates are expected to visit tourist attractions and other spots in the area.

Kosin Theswong, the Phra Nakhon district chief, said searches for stray dogs would begin today in his district, where there were a total of about 900 strays.

Saturday, September 13, 2003

Watcharee again made a visit to the little shop on one of the soys near our know, the one that shelters some creations of a local Thai corkscrew artist. Yes, it's the same place where she found those pieces for me. Anyway, here is a larger sampling of his work:



Fourth Century

A boy martyr whose valuable body was presented to the town of Siena by Pope Stephen IX.

Last night Pom and Golf and Watcharee started to pack for the trip to Hua Hin. Actually, we are also packing for London (*), New York (*), Florida and Virginia (**) as Watcharee and I are leaving Thailand the day after elephant polo finishes.

The girls are ready to go: "See y'all in Hua Hin."

* We are going to see some 'plays' while in London and New York. The last time we were in London (other than for a change-of-planes) we saw one of the last performances of "Cats". This time we'll also go for the 'musical' route ... maybe "Chicago" and "Mama Mia". Both are playing in London AND in NYC. Does anyone out there have any suggestions? But, nothing heavy with language.

** Don Bull is hosting the 2004 ICCA ... in Virginia. Sometime, either during that meeting or immediately after it, the PCC will have its own AGM. In order to make up a quorum, Gift, Ohmy and Amma have agreed to temporarily give up their Bangkok night jobs at Kings. As the ICCA host hotel is fully booked, the three cofounders of the PCC will pass their down time in a camper in the hotel parking lot.

"On the Road" Photo Album:

Van ride to Hua Hin - Checking in at Anantara Resort

PS: We have the same suite as we've had for the last two years.

Next: Hua Hin Elephant Polo

Search WWW Search