Sunday, December 27, 2009

Even More Thai New Year's Resolutions

Part 2 of 2 at my look at what my Thai freshmen have promised to do better in 2010.

Here is part 1.

And here we go with Part 2 [All sic]. I have put in bold some of the more special ones:

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Guide

1. I will study hard
2. I will find a new friends
3. I will go to beauty salon.

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Kik

1. I will development in the study.
2. I will eat foods useful is helping to create good shape.
3. i will find helping to healty.

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Chudapa

1. I will be save my money.
2. I will find a boyfriend.
3. I will study hard.

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Noppawit

1. I will make money for travel in Thailand for example I to do part time in Pizza Company
2. I will find a attractive girlfriend because it look like.
3. I will learn and intend English language.

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May

-I will be study hard and read a book
-I will be eating food to on time and the right food for my health.
-I will in attendance every supjects and concentrade in the classroom.

-----------

Nok

- I will intend to my teachers.
-I will pay attention for my father and mother.
-I will be save my money.

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Nat

-I will attendance every subject and do homework and read a book every day.
-I will be a good daughter for my mom and dad, I will help their house works.
-I will be good friends for my friend and help my friend when they troubled.

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May

-I will learn speak English
-I will save money because I will go to travel around the world.
-I will find a handsome boyfriend.
-I will a beautiful girl.

---------

Pat

-Next year I will interresting study and intend study in class more than. Because I want proud for my parents.
-Next I will be nicer to my parents. I will help housework. Because my bedroom has disorganized.
-Next year I won't lazy do homework and I will read books everyday. If I have freetime I will be go to the library.

------------

Waraporn

-I will intend study.
-I will be saving money.
-I will read a book and do homework every day.

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Noppamas

-I will learn drawing and painting
-I will subscibe volunteer camp, photo club and art of composition club of Chiangmai University
-I will intend study Calculas and Chemistry subject.

--------

San

-I will stay at home dink alcahol.
-I will go to tour in Phayao
-I will help work my parents.

--------

Pice

-I will find happy birthday to farther
-I will go to home
-I will go to friend home

---------

O

-I will go to shopping.
-I will do homework and read book every day
-I will exercise three day/week

---------

Ann

1. I will go to Doi Intanon with my friends.
2. I will growth the tree with my parent
3. I will healthy by go to exercise

-----------

Sun

I will play guitar everyday
I will study and read book everynight
I will buy sketboard, because I saw teacher have it. :)

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Sornsawan

-I will to make myself better
-I will travel the sea
-I will intent study
-I will change my bed hobby
-I will be get up at 6.15 o'clock.

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Gift

Next year...
1. I will be happy every time.
2. I will be an effective study plan.
3. I will be not take a power nap in class.
4. I will be get up in the morning at 06.00 AM
5. I will be go to bedroom in the evening at 10.00 P.M.

---------------

Beer

Next year

I will go to night club

I will read a book everyday

I will go to see a new movie on the teater

--------------

Big

1. In the 2010, I will keep and eye on study and I will start to begin life.
2. Next year I will find a beautiful girl.
3. Next year I will not drift off in class.

--------------

Joy
Next year, 2010, I will intend to study and share time for review lessons because this year I no share time for learning cause I got a bad grade. Next if I get a good grade, I will give present to me after I have final exam. And finally I will travel to Pattaya with my parents.

--------------

F

Next year I will read a book every day.
I will move to new home.
And I will buy a new computer.

------------

Boom 2


-I promise I will pay attention to my teachers, I won't drift off in class too
-In 2010, I will get A for English and Math.
-I will read a lot of books for Final exams.

-------------

Arm

3 New Year's Resolutions

1. Next year I will do not power nap in classroom.
2. Next year I will keep and eye on study.
3. Next year I will find a beautiful girlfried.

[Ed. Note  - Re: Number 3: I hope not.]

----------------


Chun

1. I will learn how to drive a car and motocycle.
2. I won't make my parent disappoint on me.
3. I will be more good in next years.

------------
Noo

3 New Year's Resolutions
-Next year I will read the books every day.
-Next year I will study Calculus class.
-Next year I will cleaning the bed room.

-----------

Yok

3 New Year's Resolutions
1) Next year I will tour in Japan with my family.
2) Next year I will play sports every day for good health.
3) Next year I will not eat junk food.

-------------

Nooknick

3 New Year's Resolutions

1) Next year I will intended learning.
2) Next year I will go to temple every week.
3) Next year I will not drink alcohol.

--------------

Ichaya

I will read more and study hard then this year for the good grade
I will decrese using a lot of money with shopping
I will exercise everyday, also learn how to swim

-------------

Phattadon

1) I will not skip every class for next year.
2) I will get more exerise for reduce my lipid (fat)
3) I will give happiness to my girlfriend.


That is a sweet way to end, but I had three students write very long lists of resolutions, too, that are equally sweet. Here they are; let's start with Jeep:


Jeep

Next year...
I will study hard
I won't skip the class
I will exercise everyday
I will do homework everyday
I will read a book everyday
I will wake up early
I will wake up early
I will be nicer to my parents
I will learn how to play guitar bass
I won't be lazy
I will take care myself
I will eat breakfast everyday
I will save my money
I won't smoke ciggarate
I will travel around Chiang Mai
I will a good boy.

I could take up some of those, too. Now, let's hear from Jeep's girlfriend, Pu:


I will study hard
I will interesting to study and read a book
I will do homework everyday
I will wake up early
I will be nicer to my parents
I will love a boyfriend more than.
I won't be lazy
I will take care my friends
I will exercise everyday
I will firm shape
I will take care myself
I will save my money
I will calm down more than.
I will active person.
I will shopping at least.
I will try to learn make up.
I will travel around Chiang mai
I will be a beautiful and cute girl.
I will a good girl.

And finally, her best friend, Bo:


Next year...

I will interesting study more than
I won't be lazy
I will try to learn cooking
I will spend money at least
I will think good things, do good things, speak good things
I will active person.
I will be calm down more than
I will be nicer to my parents
I will try to read many books
I will shopping at least.
I will take care my body more than.
I will take care my parents, my friends, and my boyfriends more than.

All the New Year's Resolutions You Can Handle

In Friday's class, I asked all of my freshmen to write 3 New Year's Resolutions. Also, I explained (perhaps ineffectively) what a New Year's Resolution was--something that you did not do this year that you promise to do next year. I gave a few examples--I will lose 20 Kilos, I will learn how to swim, etc.--and set them off.

I decided to write them all down here. They are quite touching. First I will do my afternoon section, which has stronger English speakers. Next post I will do my morning session, where the English is not as strong, but the sentiment is just as nice.

Enjoy. Here's the Afternoon session, with stronger English:


Net

1) I will entrance Faculty of Veterinarian Medicine that make my parent to feel proud.
2) I will be a good person.
3) I will buy something which I want.

-----

Sornjan

Next year...
1)I will sleep early mid-night
2) I will save my money.
3) I will do all household for my parent.

------

Patchara

1) I will lose 5 kilos
2) I will read a lot of book
3) I will sleep early

[Ed. note--"Read a book" is Thai-English for "study"]

-----

Pai

1) I will lose my weight 2 kilograms.
2) I will be more industrious
3) I will sleep earlier

-----

Bua

-I will intend to study for best grade.
-I will lose my leg
-I will buy everything for me.

[Ed. Note: Number 2 was so strange that I had to ask Bua what she meant. She wants to lose weight in her thighs. She does not have a prosthetic leg that she is actively trying to lose.]

-----

Unchana

-I will study hard more than present
-I will complete Academy Fantasia
-I will study about cooking from mother

[Ed. Note: I need to ask her about Academy Fantasia. I'm not sure what it is--this is what a Google Search turned up.

-----

Sasithorn

1. I will read books and do homework.
2. I will save money.
3. I will be the good person.

-----

Run

-I will be in English class on time
-I will wake up early to look over the textbook
-I will lose my weight

-----

Noei

- I will improve my english skill
-I will be calm and cool
-I will study hard

-----

Poon

Next year, I hope I'll prepare for study in every subject because in this year I didn't do it, it make me can't do the exam as well. I'll earn money and I'll lose 10 kilos!! I think about lose my weight for a long time and now I will do it certainly.

-----

Sinaporn

1. I will has a new boyfriend
2. I will save my money.
3. I will control my weight.

------

Phak

This year I did not prepare well for the mid-term exams, so I think next year I will concentrate in class and do all homeworks in every subjects. Moreover, this year I rarely do exercises. Next year I will try to do more exercises. Next year I will do everything fun and also doe verything my best (especially in study).

-----

Phatteeya

1. I will pay attention in class.
2. I will not miss the class.
3. I will prepare for every exams.

-------

Namfon

-I will study hard for best grade.
-I will groom myself more good looking.
-I will be nice girl for my parent and my friend.

-------

Gam

I will work a lot more harder
I will try to attend all classes, and be punctual
I will try to sleep before midnight!!!

----------

Giggs

Next year...... I will go to Pai
I will find a new dorm
I will buy a new car

----------

Beam

I will try to achieve a higher GPA up to 3.50
I will travel to Pai with my friends. [Ed. Note: I know someone you can go with!]
I will go to class on time.

-------

Wang (Chinese exchange student)

1. It is very important for me!!! I will lose 25 kg!!!
2. I holp I can pay attention in every class and don't miss anyone (I holp)
3. Go go Japan.

-------

Pat

-I will join the jazz club and learn sax
-I will be a good second year student
-I will eat just a little bit chocolate.

-------

Boom

-I will be better student for my teacher.
-I will be better son for my mom and dad
-I will get my new car from my kind parents.

------

Aim

Next year I will lose 5 kilos, I will more industrious, I will more happy and I will no more regret for something in the past.





Saturday, December 26, 2009

Change of Name Notification

Like gender, sexuality, and the cleanliness of tables, one's name is very fluid in Thai culture. My fellow Princeton in Asia fellow Elena, who sometimes goes by ARAI NAAAA in Thailand, has a great story about nomenclatural fluidity. Here it is, as I remember it:

One day, Elena's desk mate got up and left the office without saying where she was going. She came back twenty minutes later, no sign on her face as to what she had done. Elena was curious, and so she asked her desk mate, "Hey, where did you go?" And her desk mate looks at her, totally neutral expression on her face, and tells her that she went to the bank, because she decided she wanted to change her name from Cholanda to Chollapat.

Just like that, as though depositing a check or withdrawing funds: she had changed her name from Cholanda to Chollapat.

Do Thai people not care what you call them? I know that I always bristle a bit when someone gets my name wrong, someone I believe should know it. Through high school, teachers were constantly calling me "Josh" instead of "Jason," as a "Josh Gilbert" with many of the same teachers had graduated a few years before me. But it kept happening in college, too: people who could not possibly have known Josh Gilbert kept on calling me Josh.

I think I know why: because I look like a Josh. In fact, I can see the thought process running through these confused, desperately-searching ones of the misplaced name:

"God, what is this Jew's name? I know it starts with a J. It must be something Hebrew...look at that schnoz! I bet he owns at least five tallises! It's gotta be Joshua. It must be Joshua. Yeshua. Maybe Jacob? Jake? No, Joshua. Joshua. Joshua."

"Hey, Josh!"
"It's Jason."
"That's not Jewish."
"What?"
"I said I really liked Veckatimest!"

And so on.

I was thinking about names because (oh, there's a point!) of something that boggled my mind last night. Boggled it. Scrabbled it. Monopolied it. All of these board game verbs work in this context.

Arai naaa and I like this bar called Berlin, mostly because of these two great waitresses, students at CMU, who are very kind and speak questionable English. They are hilarious. Anyway, their names are Bamboo and Nai.

Last night Nai was working, and we were trying to make plans to see a movie. I already had two phone numbers in my phone for her ("Nai" and "Nai 2"), and I had told her that last time I had called her Bamboo had answered. So she looked at my phone, and the numbers I had, and said that neither of those were her numbers, even though she had entered both of them. This is actually something that happens all the time. Thai people change phone numbers about once a month, as far as I can tell. Why? Because they are crazy. I don't understand it.

So anyway, she takes my phone and enters a new number.

"You can call me at Nai 2" she says. Why she put her number under "Nai 2" and not "Nai"--see above. Because they are crazy. Recurring theme.

Fast forward to later in the night: Nai finds out that I can write Thai and is very excited. I have a pen and paper, and I ask her to spell her name, because spelling in Thai is super, super difficult, as most consonants and vowels have two or three different symbols in the alphabet, making it impossible to just phonetically spell something.

Anyway, she writes her name. I look down at the page. She has written (in Thai letters) N - long I - N.

Nine.

I ask her, Wait...your name is "Nine"?

"Yes, Nine. Like Gao (Thai for "nine"). Nine. My lucky number."

This is mind-blowing to me. For three months I have been calling her Nai. I have sent her text messages saying "Hello Nai." She has entered her phone number into my cell phone as "Nai." And not once did she think to correct me. Actually, you have been calling me by the wrong name multiple times a day for the past three months.  Put an N at the end of my name, you fat Farang idiot. It's Jason, not Josh, Turdhouse. Go chew a dick.

None of that. Not once. My name is Nine. Like the number. Like the English word, Nine. Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, in theaters now. Nine. Nine. Nine. Nine.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Chris Monday

Yesterday was Christmas (did you know?), and all of my students were very excited to be able to talk to me after class and say "Merry Christmas!" The holiday very conveniently gives them English words to speak to their non-Thai-speaking teacher, and about half of my students shouted MERRY CHRISTMAS at me as either
A) They raced out of the classroom to avoid a prolonged conversation
B) They raced past me in the hallway to avoid a prolonged conversation

There was one kid, however, a freshman, who made the mistake of coming to my desk to wish me a Merry Christmas. His name is Draft. (And yes, this is the class that always has the student named "Beer" in it. No, they are not friends. Yes, I am going to force them to be partners on a project later in the semester).

Anyway, Draft came up to my desk after class, catching me by surprise, since no one ever talks to me (in Thailand).

"Teacher," Draft said, "sdfkjlsdfj Monday."

"What?" I said. "What the fuck did you just say to me?"

"Many Chris Monday."

"What? Monday? You speak more clearly when you're talking to me, boy."

"Merry Chris Monday."

At first I was confused and angry, because I thought Draft was using "Chris" like that adjective in "Ruth's Chris Steakhouse" that I never understood; but then I realized he was wishing me a Merry Christmas Day. Which was nice, because I still don't know what he wants me to do with him on Monday.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Friendly Holiday Reminder: Your Dumb Cousin Might Be The Zodiac Killer

Even though I know that everyone who reads this blog (my mother, my father, me) is Jewish, I thought I would pass this along.

I was watching Zodiac earlier today, and one of the key clues linking the Zodiac letter-writer to probable(?) serial-killer Arthur Leigh Allen is that both of them spell Christmas with two S's: "Christmass"

Now, the Zodiac Killer was never caught, and Allen is no longer a suspect, so that means the Zodiac killer could really be anyone, regardless of age, sex, or plausibility. I was given this reminder when a student wrote me a note wishing me a "Merry Christmass"--could Gift, a 19 year old Thai girl, be the Zodiac Killer? Yes, she could be, and so could anyone.

I would advise anyone who sees a friend, relative, colleague, or tall-but-stocky 80 year old man living in the California area using the spelling "Christmass" to immediately issue a citizen's arrest, which may or may not be a real thing. I for one have citizen's arrested (verb?) Gift, and she is in custody with someone who I can only assume is a police officer, given that he was wearing a uniform of some kind and also had a gun. Also note that Dunkin Donuts workers here carry guns*

*not true.

The Zodiac Killer is still out there, people, and he is still killing (the environment with his carbon footprint). Don't let up. Don't let the Zodiac ruin another young Vallejo couple's Christmass.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Call Your Friends

You know what cliche I am suddenly incredibly tired of? "It's no secret that.."

As in, "It's no secret that President Obama wanted to be a bipartisan president," or "It's no secret that the Yankees would like to win the World Series next year."

Really? That's not a secret? So I can tell people? Are you sure it's not a secret?

Ego trippin

Today at dinner, at my new favorite restaurant The House of Roast Chicken (name made up by me), the owner asked me how long I had lived in Thailand. I told her six months. She said she thought I had lived here two years. Because my Thai is so good. Also, because I have a two-year old Thai child. That's a common mistake, though; little Boonmee's age is unrelated to how long that I have actually lived here.

Gangsta Tippin

Indiewire, which is a website on the Internet, surveyed approximately 8000 critics for their best movies of the decade. I'm passing along this link because my favorite movie of the decade came in first place, which is a little like watching your two-year-old son beat up his first nerd.

I should note, though, that I recently re-watched Syndromes and a Century, and, to paraphrase a James Lipton sketch from Saturday Night Live, it was so scrumtrilescent I could barely move. Really, for anyone who hasn't seen it, and won't think less of me for being a total snob if you hate it, find it boring, plotless, plodding, confusing, slow, and totally incoherent, I highly recommend Sang Sattawat. Though, honestly, I don't care what you think of me, either.

Blee Blop Blippin

Last night Chip, a PiAer in Japan, came through Chiang Mai with a friend of his, a high buddy who was on vacation from a job as a banker at Deutsche Bank (sp.) in New York City. German Bank. Whatever.

I asked him (banker) if he had to work a lot. He said No, not really. No weekends, and only thirteen hours a day. In my head I noted that he had worked for more hours by 9 A.M. on Tuesday morning then I would work in an entire week here.

Why am I moving back again? I've got the life here: hardly any work; a well-paying job; a child; an enthusiastic soapy masseuse at a reasonable rate.

But then I realized: there are no Wendy's in Thailand.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Joke About Ja-shake-a

Said Hamlet to Ophelia,
I'll draw a sketch of thee.
What kind of pencil shall I use,
2B or not 2B?

- Spike Milligan

So, I had an image of my death today. I was sitting on the toilet in my apartment, like I always do when I'm in my apartment, and I found myself in a position that can only be a "ready for death" position.

Imagine David's Death of Marat, with the Frenchman in the bathtub, with a bare arm draped over the bathtub and his head leaning against his shoulder.

Now imagine me, on the toilet, with my shirt off for no reason, leaning forward with exhaustion, with my arm draped over the porcelain toilet paper roll holder, and my head resting on my bicep.

The Death of Jay-Sahn, killed by holy basil and chili peppers.

In other news, I absolutely cannot stop listening to The Drums' Summertime EP. I really have almost no hopes at all for any other releases by this band, because the lyric-writing isn't that good, and I can imagine that they've used up all of their good musical hooks on this one...but my God, I'm totally obsessed with this short player. Highly recommended.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Blues Is The News

Well, today was as action-packed as a Wal-Mart $1.99 DVD bin:

First, my friend Van picked me up to go see something that was only really described to me as "they have Hondas at the stadium; they're going to drift." So we went to see the Hondas at the stadium, to see them drift.

We went to the 700 Years Stadium, which is an 8 year old sporting complex built for the ASEAN games (Southeastern Asian sporting competition pitting the best of Philippines, Indonesia, Laos, the one next to Laos, Thailand, Egypt, uh...France...some others, too--against each other in all-Southeast Asian sporting action. Well, today at the 700 Years Stadium they had Honda racing, brought to you by Honda (Slogan: "Enjoy Honda"). We got there as the day was finishing up, just in time for the final race, which pitted 10 previous winners against each other in a final 15 laps around the stadium (for PINKS (not really)). The main attraction seemed to be that one of the drivers was a white man named Ray McDonald. He came in third. I got a stomachache from all of the rumbling so close to me. Also, I'm a 75 year old from Long Island with high blood pressure. But that wasn't news to anyone, so I went home.

Other major happening of the day was my discovery of a new favorite restaurant! This one is different from my other favorite restaurants, in that each dish costs more than 20 Baht per (dishes range from 30-45 Baht), there aren't ants and mosquitoes everywhere (I only saw one of each), and I didn't have to race home afterwards with diarrhea (I drove home very slowly before going diarrhea). It is a roast chicken place, and today I had the roast chicken with sticky rice.

(Anecdote: the method of ordering is to put a tick mark next to the menu item that you want. Like, they have a menu card with all of the items listed, and then you put a tick next to whatever you want. So I put a tick next to the roast chicken, white rice, ice, and water. The waiter picks up my menu card, walks about three steps, reads it, and then stops and says something to another waiter and points at me. "Great," I'm thinking, "How have I fucked up this time?" He comes back, points at the white rice, and says (in Thai) "We're out of white rice," making it the first time that anywhere in Asia has ever been out of white rice.

Honestly, I didn't even know restaurants ran out of white rice. They buy these bags by the truckload. And when they run out, they can actually go anywhere to get more. I mean, the other day, I ordered Ramen Noodle stir-fry, which is a very common dish. The woman says fine, gets out from behind the counter, and then leaves the restaurant, leaving me standing there. I watch her cross the street and enter a 7-11, where she buys a packet of Ramen noodles to fry up. This actually happened.

Point of the story is I had roast chicken and sticky rice).

Is that the point of the story, though? Was there a point to the story? Has there ever been a point to any story I've ever told?

No, I don't. I did find Syndromes and a Century on YouTube though, which is illegal to watch on TWO levels:

1) Copyrighted material on YouTube
2) Material censored by the Thai National Government

It's okay, though, I hear Thai prison's not so bad. Am I right, Brokedown Palace?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Chiang Rai Trek: A Night for Kig(s)

Just kidding! We didn't sleep on the dirt. We laid down little mats in the main room, which was a beautiful all-wood hall of sorts--it would have looked fine as a clubhouse next to a neighborhood swimming pool, I think. When our pallets were laid down, and we all sufficiently felt like we were living in a photograph of "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men" (actually, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that this thought crossed only my mind as we were laying out our pallets), we sat down to play a Thai drinking game called "Kig," which is Tinglish for Kings. Thai Kings is way different than American Kings (White people be walkin' like this!). Here is what each card in Thai kings represents, to my memory:

(Each glass has five drinks in it. You must finish your glass in five drinks or else you have shamed yourself and your family).

Ace: Give out one drink to anyone.
Two: Parcel out two drinks however you'd like (one drink to two people, or two drinks to one person)
Three: Parcel out three drinks however you'd like.
Four: Parcel out four drinks however you'd like.
Five: Parcel out four drinks however you'd like.
Six: Categories (Name a category, go around in a circle. I was at a major advantage, as we were playing in English. Sorry, Thai people who have a passing acquaintance with the English names for fruits).
Seven: The counting game where you can't say the number 'seven.' (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, UP!, 8, 9...). (I was again at an advantage as we played in English. Two games ended simply because someone said a number out of sequence (e.g. 10, 11, 13...WRONG!)
Eight: Come up with the rule.
Nine: Person to your left drinks.
Ten: Person to your right drinks
Jack: Don't talk to that person.
Queen: Whenever a person does a certain movement, everyone else has to do that movement, too. Last person to mimic the movement drinks. This was always a favorite when someone else was already chugging.
King: Here is the "point" of the game: For the first three games, you make up things that the person who draws the fourth king has to do. So, for example, the first King was drawn, and the rule was "Run around the house." The second rule was "Drink a glass of Sangsom on the rocks." The third rule was "Drink another glass of Sangsom on the rocks." The fourth rule was "Rig it so that the stupid white guy draws the fourth kings."

So, yes, I began the night, which saw this game played three times, in addition to constant drinking of mixed Sangsom drinks, to having to run around the house and then chug two half-glasses of Sangsom on the rocks. Also, I drew the final King in the third game, too, and drank another half-glass of Sangsom on the rocks.

Good thing we didn't have to wake up at 7 in the morning the next day or else I would have been really hungover!

Chiang Rai Trek: The Chiang Rai Overlook Hotel

We stopped about an hour before the Chiang Rai city proper, where Fook (rhymes with "juke"), one of the bowling friends, apparently had a family house. He turned the car suddenly into a bunch of tall grass, and eventually we were on a dirt road, completely surrounded by high grass, and absolutely no lights besides the headlights. Fook thought it would be funny to try to drive around without the headlights i.e. in total darkness, but no one really got the joke except for Fook, so he turned the headlights back on. For fifteen minutes we drove uphill, in the pitch black except for our headlights, up a hill, on a bumpy dirt road, no one really knowing where we were going. Fook was very tentative with all of his turns and he was driving very slowly and he kept on whispering to the guy in the passenger seat ('Wood') in a tone that suggested that he probably knew where he was going.

Eventually, we made it to the top of the hill and to the house, which was incredible. There were two side houses that were bedrooms, and one main hall with a porch and a gazebo. There was a kitchen, too, and a farm with bunnies and strange birds with long tails. There were no lights up there on the hill, and the stars were as bright as I have ever seen them. Wood told me that the girls would be sleeping in the bedrooms and that the boys would be sleeping right here on the ground. I became nervous until I saw some tents.

"You mean in the tents?" I asked.

"No," he replied, and then walked away.

Chiang Rai Trek: The Car Ride

It was me and 7 Thai people. Cartoon, another former student named Fah, and five of Cartoon's friends, all of whom she knew from bowling. Three Thai men, four Thai women. My coming along meant that someone had to sit in the middle of one of the cars, so I felt bad from the beginning. Then I felt really bad when Cartoon made the driver put in his CD of English songs for the two and a half hour drive up to where we would stay for the night. Then I felt really, really, really bad when I heard what the songs were, especially after the CD had played for the fifth time on the drive. Among the songs I heard five times, in a three-person back seat of a 93 Camry:

Eh Eh - Lady Gaga
21 Guns - Green Day
Hot and Cold - Katy Perry
1, 2, 3, 4 - Plain White Ts
Crazy - Pitbull
I Got A Feeling - Black Eyed Peas

Plus about four more.

I now know all of the words to all of these songs. Also, I hate them even more than I did when I didn't know what they are. And there's nothing else I can say. Eh eh.

Chiang Rai, One Paragraph At A Time

In an effort to clog your Google Reader and pad my post count, I'm gonna offer a look-back on my two-day Chiang Rai trip in a rapid-fire (rapidshare/mediafire merger) series of posts. Start:

Cartoon picked me up on her motorbike at around 6.  She looked at my bag, a hiking pack that was almost full. I looked at her bag, a tote that appeared mostly empty. I had thought this was going to be a 4-5 day trip. "Your bag is very big," Cartoon said. "Yeah, I got it in Bangkok," I said, not understanding that I had packed an absurd amount of clothes for an overnighter. It was okay, though, because sometimes I like to change clothes four times a day. Also, I can't go more than fifteen minutes without my iPod, laptop, laptop charger, phone charger, iPod charger, or two sticks of deodorant. Spoiler alert for anyone who has not smelled my armpits after I do even three seconds of strenuous activity: that last one is true. Spoiler alert for anyone who thinks that I don't count getting into a car as strenuous activity: I do.

One Thing I'll Say About Thai People

Here's one thing I'll say about Thai people: everything they do is a Goddamn riot.

Not that watching them is funny (though it is); but that whenever they do anything, they seem to be tearing apart with laughter, or at least a smile. I just passed the gardener downstairs. He was crouched over some flowers, laughing to himself. What's so damn funny? He's a sixty year old man, I'd guess, a gardener, that tends to these flowers everyday...and here he is, fingering the petals of some flowers, laughing to himself.

And the other day, I saw an old couple, a husband and a wife, noodle stand owners. They were carrying out a table of ingredients together, to the same spot they always carry the same table of the same ingredients. And they were almost doubled over they were laughing so hard. Then they put the table down, and the man gestured toward the table, and everyone started laughing again--the man, the woman, the noodle stand workers next to them, a passerby. Everyone was laughing. At what? Why can't I get such joy out of something so mundane--out of teaching, even? These people were giggling like a couple of teenagers on pot brownies at a taping of The Muppet Show; and it was something they do every damn day, and I guarantee you they aren't on drugs that make you laugh, or even smile.

If you walk around most cities in Thailand, though (except Bangkok, and I would guess Pattaya and Phuket are excluded, too), you just constantly see people laughing. Is there an invisible TV screen in the sky showing How I Met Your Mother or something? What water are they drinking that I am not? What is so damn funny about your spoon and fork? Why doesn't riding a bicycle bring me that much joy?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Like Pinball

There is a very specific feeling that I associate with a very specific situation in pinball. 

In newer pinball machines, there are certain holes that you can shoot at where, if you hit that hole, the ball will not immediately pop out and roll back to the flippers, but will be held in that hole for a long time racking up points for you. The ball stays there, and you just sort of wait at the flippers while you get lots and lots of points. And though it seems like a good thing at the time--you just standing there, content, while your points multiply--you know that, as soon as you've gotten all the points, the ball is going to come flying back toward the flippers, as fast as a pinball can go, and you know that you have a very low chance of surviving the ball coming back so fast. 

So try to think of this feeling, if you can: standing at a pinball machine, content that you are scoring lots of points, but also expecting, with dread and some fear, that all of these free points are going to cost you, as the ball will soon be cannon-shot toward your flippers, and that you will most likely lose because of this.

I just ate a plate of really, really spicy Mama Pad noodles. They were delicious. They still taste delicious. And yet in the back of my mind...though now I can see the points on the board multiplying...in the back of my mind I know what is coming next...

Friday, December 11, 2009

Absent, Teacher

On Tuesday, one of 21 students in my English class for freshymen asked me if we would have class on Friday, too; apparently, some teachers cancel class on Friday, since Thursday is "Constitution Day" and they just make it a 5 day-weekend (never any class on Wednesday). Well, I was already cancelling class on the 29th of December, so we couldn't afford to miss another day of class this Friday, so I said that yes, we would have class on Friday.

It was as though I had just told him I was born a woman. "REALLY?!?!" he cried. He pulled his friend by the arm so that she could ask me, too.

"We have class on Friday, Teacher?"

"Yes, we have class."

"REALLY?!?!" Yes, Opor, by birth I am a woman, and not the man that appears before you.

Well, today is Friday, the day that we really, really had class. Class starts at 1:05. At 1:10, one student had showed up, and she is the foreign exchange student, so, I mean, come on. By 1:15, we had 5 students. I waited five more minutes, and no one else had showed up. The foreign exchange student kept on bouncing in her chair and shouting that we should go, because I made the mistake earlier of telling her that if not enough people showed up, we would go home. So she's bouncing in her desk, shouting "GO HOME GO HOME," which would have been cute if she were a Thai person, but unfortunately she's Chinese, never pays attention in class, and whines all the time, so I almost lost it on her. I dismissed the rest of the students, who were sitting patiently and talking subduedly--sup, dude-ly--and told them, while wringing my hands, that their friends would pay for this. Oh, yes, they will pay for this...

Anyway, I just took a "power nap," which is a term I taught to the 11:00 freshymen class a.k.a. the class that actually showed up. Actually, I taught them three words: "nap," "power" and "power nap," as, per usual, the book assumed a way, way higher level of English competency than my students actually had. Don't even get me started on the reduction of time clauses. That was a nightmare.

On the plus side, I've only had diarrhea twice today, and the Yeasayer album leaked (I am obligated to talk about how great the new Yeasayer album is by virtue of having a blog. Also, I got a notice from Blogspot saying that I'm supposed to go crazy over how great the new Lady Gaga music video for Bad Romance is? Yeah! It's amazing! Quick, go watch it! While she's still relevant!)

I'm also happy to say that my co-hort Gregg (Thai spelling: Grieki) just sent me some (about 70) contributions to the famed Bowel Hour, and that, with his contributions, we are going to have the best poop-based iTunes playlist, possibly, in the world. The Bowel Hour, if you were not one of the 12 (million) people at the launch party, is a Power Hour composed entirely of songs whose titles also sound like they could describe poop, either in the verb or noun form. I will be posting the original list and Gregg's contributions shortly.

But a public kudos to Grieki for his marvelous list. A teaser: "Wet Nightmare" by The Cramps, which gets bonus points for having a great band name, too, and for succintly describing the activities of my own bowels for these past two horrible, nightmarish days of prenatal pain.

Stay bowelin'

Jason

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I'm Pregnant.

At least, I can only assume so. These past few days I have been experiencing what I imagine pregnancy to be like--constant stomach pain, cravings for Skittles, intermittent switching between a total inability to poop and rough spurts of diarrhea. The truth is, I don't really know much about pregnancy, because I spent most of my 8th-grade sex-ed class surreptitiously playing with myself; but I've seen a bunch of movies about pregnancy (Junior, Junior 2: the 3rd), and I'm pretty damn sure that this exactly what those movies depicted pregnancy to being.

(On an unrelated note, my spell-checker is flagging "movies" as a non-word. "Movies" is a word, right? I still speak English, right? Right?)

In these pregnant times I have been catching up on the movies (non-word?) of the decade that I couldn't remember well or had never seen. Mostly refreshers to see if they warrant mention on some sort of list whose bounds will be determined by quality and not a pre-set round number (Why make a Top 10 list of there were 17 Great Items in a year? Or even 3 (I'm looking at you, Albums in 2008)?). Anyway, so far I've either totally watched or totally discounted:

The Pianist
In Bruges
V for Vendetta
Team America: World Police
Sin City

And I'm confident in saying that none of them were the best movie (not a word in the singular form, either) of the decade. Sorry, Wachowski brother fans (if a man apologizes to nobody in a forest...)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Questions I Have for My Landlord

Whenever I tell any Thai person how much I pay monthly for my rent, they can't believe how expensive my apartment building is. I am sure they envision a gigantic room with a flat-screen television, a jacuzzi in the bathroom, and all electronical devices controlled via robotic arms that emerge from the walls when I press the bloop-bloop buttons on the wall.

Well, yes, I pay 4000 Baht a month for rent, and you pay 2000 Baht a month for rent, Thai people. And yet, I still have some concerns about the state of my posh, high-society condo. In fact, here are some pressing questions I've got for my landlord and for the ownership of the Chomdoi Condotel:

1. Why does my shower never get above lukewarm?
2. Why do I have to hold down the handle on my toilet for fifteen seconds before it will flush? And why does this only work about 75% of the time?
3. Why did the showerhead and faucet-head not come with little caps to put over them so that they didn't just shoot out water in random directions? What happened to these caps?
4. Where are all these ants coming from?
5. The apartment building has two elevators. For a month, one of the elevators was broken. While that one was still broken, the other one broke, too. After about a week, the first elevator was fixed. Now, it's been a month since the second elevator shut down, and it's still closed. How hard is it to fix an elevator? Is the sign that says "24-HOUR ELEVATOR REPAIR SERVICES" that has been hanging in front of the broken elevator for the past several weeks a cruel joke, and, if so, at what point will you stop laughing at it?
6. Which Indiana Jones movie had just come out when the television in my room was built? Was it "Temple of Doom"? I'm betting on "Temple of Doom."
7. How many ants would you say is an acceptable number of ants to have killed in the past two minutes? If you said anything less than "seven ants," then you are wrong.
8. Why does getting onto my balcony involve straddling a sharp metal bar and easing my groin over to the other side until I am onto the balcony? Is there a way to get onto my balcony that doesn't involve shredding my scrotal sac? A complimentary step-ladder of some sort, perhaps?
9. Seriously, that piece of fabric that came with the sheets and the pillow cases--is that a blanket or a bath towel?
10. Can I get a discount for any of these things? Say, 1 Baht an ant?
11. Okay, 0.33 Baht per ant, to be collected in a container of my choosing.
12.. A container of your choosing. 0.25 Baht.
13. An ant just crawled out of my keyboard, in between the "y" and the "t." That will be 0.18 Baht, please.

Sincerely,
Jason Gilbert
Apt. 511

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Why No One Reads Literature

I glanced at The New Yorker's notable books for 2009 and I remembered why no one reads literature. Check out these Best Fiction Books and their accompanying one-line descriptions, which could not be more boring if I were writing them with the aim of being boring.

The Immortalsby Amit Chaudhuri (Knopf; $25.95). Tradition and modernity in Bombay.

Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasiby Geoff Dyer (Pantheon; $24). A diptych of cosmopolitan emptiness and spiritual seeking.

The Anthologistby Nicholson Baker (Simon & Schuster; $25). A crafty bagatelle on poetic themes.

Wantingby Richard Flanagan (Atlantic Monthly; $24). From Tasmania to the Arctic with Sir John Franklin.
Tinkersby Paul Harding (Bellevue Literary Press; $14.95). The death of a patriarch in nineteenth-century Maine.
The Vagrantsby Yiyun Li (Random House; $25). A novel of political upheaval in China.
Wolf Hallby Hilary Mantel (Henry Holt; $27). Tudor intrigue.
Her Fearful Symmetryby Audrey Niffenegger (Scribner; $ 26.99). A gothic yarn around a London cemetery.
Upgraded to Seriousby Heather McHugh (Copper Canyon; $22). Poems of compassion and verbal intricacy.
Love and Summerby William Trevor (Viking; $25.95). Irish provincial life in the nineteen-fifties.




To Barnes and Noble! Quickly, quickly--Before they sell out of the bagatelle on poetic themes!

Monday, December 7, 2009

F for Epiphany

On Saturday, I had a rather unpleasant epiphany. I had driven on my motorbike for about fifteen minutes looking for somewhere to eat, and I settled for what I will generously say was a dive-y rice shop. Being ungenerous, it looked like the Hollywood set for a dirty Asian restaurant that a bunch of college students would be forced to eat at when they get lost somewhere, following the obnoxious kid's bad instructions: the kind of place where the prissy lead actress goes to the restroom and it is a smelly, diarrhea-stained hole in the ground.*

*N.B.: this place didn't have a bathroom.

It looked like it could have been a chicken coop when the day closed. A chicken coop, or a place where dogs fuck. Wooden tables, dirty; patio furniture, mud-caked; water cooler, rusty. And here I was, happily awaiting my chicken fried rice, with a fried egg on top.

And then, the epiphany:

WHY AM I EATING HERE? What game of salmonella Russian Roulette am I hoping to win here? What am I doing here: saving 15 cents? "Experiencing the culture"? Sticking it to the American Health Inspection system?

Well, then the food came. Undercooked fried egg on top. Unidentifiable black specks dotting the rice. Ice water with a hint of nuclear trace elements.

I finished the meal, but then raced home. Well, not raced home, exactly: that would imply that I was racing against someone, and technically speaking, my diarrhea and I were going to arrive home at the same time, so it wasn't much of a race.

And as I sat on the head with my head in my hands I believed that I would search out cleaner restaurants from now on, that every once in a while I would go to a place that was actually indoors (not just under a roof made of old billboard posters), that I would spend that extra dollar on food sometimes, that I would buy a Coke if my water tasted like Lake Michigan.

Since that day, I've eaten at relative dives a couple times, including at a spicy laab (lightly-cooked meat) restaurant that was actually just a stand with a burner and pots on the side of a road. The food was delicious, of course, but the germ-o-phobia crept up on me halfway threw my pork shoulder with rice, namely: YOU JUST BOUGHT PORK SHOULDER FROM A MAN WHO OPERATES UNDERNEATH A LAMPPOST! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO YOUR INSIDES? DON'T EAT THAT!!

So, I'm upgrading a little bit. Gonna try these new-fangled "restaurant" type places and see how they sit with me. So far: same amount of stomach pain. The food is pretty good though--not that dive food isn't good, but this--it's a different kind of good. Like, clean-good. It's hard to explain.

UPDATE

As the end of the 2000s approaches, I wanted to at least try to make a list of the best or most note-worthy (different!) films of the decade, though unfortunately I've been pretty bad about watching notable movies of the Noughties, by which I mean I haven't watched anything foreign and I still haven't seen Batman Begins or half of the X-Men movies.

But I looked at a few lists that have been published together, and I made a list of the most common entries, dividing them up in a  rudimentary way, and setting off to watch a bunch of them in the next couple months or so to better "appraise the landscape," or whatever empty gesture you would like to call a decade-long survey.

In most cases--the cases in which I've seen the movie already--I won't be watching the whole thing. Nathaniel Dorsky said that he could identify whether a movie was any good or not within the first three cuts. I don't aim for that level of pretension--how can you know if a movie is any good before you even know the story?--but I think I can get a grip on whether a movie is worth anything in the first 30 minutes (and yes, I do use the quality of cuts, so judge away). For example, last night I began to watch "V for Vendetta"  and I was done with it in 20 minutes, but I watched on for an hour or so. For the record, there is no way that any movie with dialogue as intermittently awful (did they write V's dialogue through a random text generator?) nor with such a terrible Natalie Portman performance can be on a Best of Decade list.

Good photography though!

Anyway, here is what I came up with in a very short amount of time. I'll be adding occasionally. Cult films (I Heart Huckabees, Inland Empire, The New World, etc.) aren't on here. This is mostly about consensus, or Zeitgeist.

Also, before you jump on my nuts about this, "auteurs" is a joke. I was going to write "Others," but then I realized that "auteurs" works too, for many of the entries. So calm down, I know that the director of In Bruges isn't a damn auteur.

Additions are welcome:

Notable Movies, 2000-2009



Foreign
Cache
In the Mood for Love
Syndromes and a Century
City of God
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
Yi Yi
Talk to her
4 months 3 weeks 2 days
The Lives of Others
Downfall
Les Fils
L’Enfant
Y Tu Mama Tambien
Pan’s Labyrinth
Oldboy
Amelie
Amores Perros
Moolaade
The Best of Youth
Gomorrah

Oscar Bait
The Pianist
Crash
George Washington
Being John Malkovich
Far from Heaven
Gladiator
Mystic River
Brokeback Mountain
Gangs of New York
Munich
The Hours
The Constant Gardener
Black Hawk Down
Letters from Iwo Jima
Almost Famous
Traffic
A Beautiful Mind
Lord of the Rings
Hotel Rwanda

Documentary
Man on Wire
Capturing the Friedmans
Fahrenheit 911 / Bowling for Columbine
The Fog of War

Animated
Shrek
Ratatouille
Finding Nemo
Up
Wall-E
The Incredibles
Spirited Away

Populism
The 40 Year Old Virgin
Superbad
V for Vendetta
The Dark Knight
The Bourne Trilogy
Spiderman
X-Men 1 and 2
Minority Report
Team America
Borat
Sin City
300
Grindhouse: Planet Terror

Auteurs/Stylists
The Squid and the Whale
Grizzly Man
In Bruges
Royal Tenenbaums
Memento
Mulholland Drive
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood
Children of Men
Lost in Translation
Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Sideways
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Adaptation
O Brother Where Art Thou
Gosford Park
Kill Bill
Requiem for a Dream
Zodiac
Snatch
A History of Violence
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
This Is England
Dogville
Best in Show 

Movies I Will Not Be Watching Again
Gran Torino
Slumdog Millionaire
Juno
The Prestige
Moulin Rouge
Lord of the Rings
The Wrestler
Donnie Darko
Finding Neverland
The Departed
The Last King of Scotland
Billy Elliott
Hero
Little Miss Sunshine

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Did My Student Spank Me, and Other Auspicious Thoughts on an Auspicious Day

Yesterday at the dining hall I saw a student from the past semester named Mic. Nothing strange about that--I see Mic all the time, and in fact we started joking that he was following me because for a three day stretch I saw him every day.

So Mic and I are pretty friendly I guess. He is going to work somewhere in Virginia next summer (King's Mill Resort? Anyone? He says it as though it's the White House, and is always surprised when I haven't heard of it) so he wants to practice his English, which is frankly pretty good already.

Anyway, I walked by his table at lunch, where he was sitting with two freshmen I didn't know. Probably hazing their frosh asses, if he's anything like I was in college (Am I right?). So I see him and ask how he is doing, and he says Not good.

"Why?"

"I turn in presentation one day late."

"Why was your presentation late?"

"Because...only two people." (Usually groups have 3 people in them)

"Oh, I see!"

"Yes, one day late."

"Maybe...stop drinking so much!"

The whole table (Mic and his frosh slaves) started laughing. Satisfied at having made a Thai person laugh for the first time in my life, I started to walk away. But Mic got in the last word.

"No!" he said, and then he slapped me in the buttocks region.

Had my student just spanked me? Now, it could have been the he slapped me on the right thigh, with overflow tappage going onto the right butt cheek. Or it could have been that he was just trying to spank me, his teacher, his revered ajarn, fountain of knowledge, he of what I always imagined to be sacred butt cheeks.

Is this a Thai formality or show of respect that I missed out on? Should I be spanking more people here in Thailand? Who haven't I spanked that I should have spanked already? Is there some sort of etiquette book for Thai spankings? Like, maybe if someone is somewhat higher than you on the social scale, you spank them really hard (you can spank your friends or equals as hard as you damn well please) but for someone much higher than me--say, the King--I would only spank lightly, and perhaps across one butt cheek only (the right, as the left is viewed as dirty, as we all know).

This is extremely, extremely relevant, as today is the King's birthday and I want to give him 82 birthday spankings. But when I see him at dinner (we usually eat at the same poorly-lit flea-ridden mud-soaked hovel of a restaurant in the middle of nowhere, favored by royalty and high-society types), how should I spank him? Why isn't this in my Lonely Planet?

UPDATE 5:52


A cursory Google search revealed this Salon article. WARNING: horrible "Thai" pun in the title.

http://www.salon.com/sex/world/2001/03/16/survey/index.html

This confirms everything I thought about spanking and I hope to see the King tonight so I can give him a spanking.

UPDATE 5:54


"Spanking King Bhumibol" is a really good title for a semi-edgy teen comedy that I am going to make in 1999.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Another Day, Another Doldrum

Yes, I've fallen back into "the groove" here, in which "the groove" is not something about music or being cool or anything, but rather the initial meaning of groove, which has something to do with being a boring person.

I can't go to dinner quite yet because I'm waiting for the excellent debut album by Richard Cheese to finish downloading, so I thought I'd give a little update of what my day was like, and thus, what my days are always like.

Wednesdays are days off for CMU, so I slept in--or would have, had I not been awoken by noxious fumes at 10 A.M. For the best--oh, what's a good estimate?--40 days, my apartment building, the Chomdoi Condotel, has been renovating, rebuilding, repainting, repaving, etc. etc. What this has meant the past few days is that my room smells like a porta-potty in the Home Depot mulch department. I really can't describe it except to say that I don't like the smell, that the smell is strong like a weightlifting French cheese, and that, like anyone who has seen the John Travolta film A Civil Action knows, I am also certainly going to end up with cancer because of this.

(Brief interlude: here's what I have for movies that John Travolta has starred in this decade, 2000-2009:

Battlefield Earth
Lucky Numbers
Swordfish
Domestic Disturbance
Basic
The Punisher
A Love Song for Bobby Long
Ladder 49
Be Cool
Lonely Hearts
Wild Hogs
Hairspray
Bolt
The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3
Old Dogs

Non-Richard Brody-certified review of John Travolta's acting choices this decade: OUCH)

Anyway, so most of today was spent buying a pleasant aroma for my room. Cartoon took me to the Smell Shop (unfortunately not a real business) and I picked out some honeysuckle Smell, got a Smell-tainer and some candles, and lit some candles in my room. Now, for the glorious fifteen minutes that the aroma burns, my room no longer smells like a foot that stepped in a sewer puddle. It smells like honeysuckle.

And then I walk outside and the cancer starts forming again.

Oh, another note: today I got a part replaced on my engine, got my brakes fixed, and got a new rubber step for my motorcycle. Total cost: 280 Baht. 7 dollars. Approximately the cost of an air freshener at NAPA Auto Parts in America. (Are you noticing a theme in today's post? The theme is Smell.)

All right! Richard Cheese is almost done downloading, and my candle is almost out of flame...

Hey, that reminds me of that song from "Rent" about the candle. Does anyone know what I'm talking about? It has typically horrible "Rent" lyrics? I think it goes like this:

MAN
WILL YOU LIGHT MY CANDLE?

WOMAN
YES I'LL LIGHT YOUR CANDLE

MAN
WILL YOU LIGHT MY CANDLE

WOMAN
YES I'LL LIGHT YOUR CANDLE

MAN
MY CANDLE....

WOMAN
YOUR CANDLE....

MAN
MY CANDLE....

WOMAN
YOUR CANDLE...

MAN
MY CANDLE...

WOMAN
YOUR CANDLE....

(REPEAT X1,000 OR UNTIL THE AUDIENCE LEAVES)

Does anyone remember that song? I have very vivid memories of it, and obviously I memorized all of the lyrics.

The point is, well it seems to me, that my candle is like, like a candle in the wind. And now it's out. So to play us out (omg have u seen this hilarious web video?) here's Rickie Cheese performing one of his standards, "Creep."

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Thailand Family Visit Memory Transcription: Whatever Will Be, Was

Monday, December 30

Airport Day. I sat in the airport and read "The Bonfire of the Vanities" for a long time. The flight from Phuket to Bangkok was fine--I was sitting next to what must have been a German man who listened to "Take on Me" at least four times in a thirty minute interval. That song is now officially taken on, methinks--maybe try a different song? I have some suggestions. All of them involve bands that aren't called A-Ha, though.

Three hour lay-over in Bangkok Airport--and not the good Bangkok Airport, either, but Don Muang Airport, which is sort of like getting to go to a baseball game in New York and going to Shea Stadium (sorry, Dad. Also I don't even know if this metaphor is still valid as they both have new parks, both of which suck. But let's just pretend that Shea is still standing and that it still a hefty bag full of garbage compared to Old Yankee Stadium)

So I wandered around there for a while. Pooped a WHOLE bunch. Had my first Burger King since coming to Thailand. It tasted like Burger King, which is to say, I ate a double cheeseburger in fifteen seconds, licked the bottom of the bag for fries, and then passed it by the end of the hour. 

I was so disgusted with the Tom Wolfe book and how unbelievable it was that I shut it in furor around 6:50. Problem, because I still had 80 minutes until boarding. There were about 400 more pages to read in Bonfire of the Vanities, but I wasn't going to read them, on principle, Skinner. Bull-S.

I called some people to pass the time. I called Cartoon. The conversation--

Her: Hello!
Me: Hey, how are you?
Her: I'm good, and you?
Me: I'm good. What are you doing?
Her: Oh, my grandfather, he died today, so I'm at his ceremony.
Me: ::stunned, stunned silence::

See, here's the thing about the question "How are you?" that I think some Thai people might not understand: you don't have to answer "I'm good, and you," if you aren't "good," per se. Like, say, if your grandfather died THAT DAY and you are currently at the funeral ceremony.

So I didn't talk to Cartoon for that long. I planned my entry into the sketch comedy field, and laughed about how rich I was going to be. And laughed and laughed and laughed...

Nothing else important happened that night. I got home without incident. I heard Que Sera Sera and Raindrops Keep Falling on Head for the last time, forever. If you don't know, these are the two songs that Nok Air plays on a loop at the end of every flight, for the last twenty to thirty minutes of every flight. This is unbearable enough one time--now imagine taking six Nok Air flights in ten days. Whatever will be, was. Raindrops kept falling on my face. I asked my mother, but that doesn't mean would I be pretty, would I be crying, because that's not for me. Raindrops keep falling on Sarah Willby, Sarah Willby.

/That/ falls off behind the meadow!

Interesting day. Just when I thought I was completely healed from that crazy sickness that I haven't written about yet, I woke up and my right armpit was KILLING ME.

I'm serious. I don't know what is wrong with me. But I got rid of the respiratory bug, and the full-body aches, and the headaches, and the heat, and the diarrhoea; and then this morning I wake up and I absolutely cannot touch my right armpit without any pain. Putting on deodorant has never been such a chore (Salinger).

Also I had a headache again.

But man, this armpit thing, am I right? First of all, who ever heard of an armpit injury? Honestly, it feels like I held my right arm above my head and someone just threw a baseball as hard as they could (well, not just anybody--let's says somebody who can throw a baseball really fast) it's like someone who is really good at throwing baseballs threw a baseball as hard as they could and it hit me right in the armpit. And now I'm walking around like a damn armpit cripple, and I can't even finger my armpit like I like to. I can't even tickle myself. The real question: what does this inability to finger my armpit or tickle myself mean to my daily routine? What am I going to do with this new hour-and-a-half in my day?

Anyway, today I went back to "work," where the kids were elated to see me. Did I say elated? Because I meant indifferent. Sorry, I got a 3 on my GREs. No, I don't know if that's plausible, but I assume that is a bad score on the GREs. The only test that a 3 would be good for me on is an eye-sight test. Or a BAC test. Spring break Panama City mothershuckaaaaazzz

Well, I was browsing the CMU book fair again today, and I noticed my student Jaao was browsing the same table as me (or rather, she made the mistake of looking at English books for two seconds at a table that I happened to be at). So I screamed "Jaao!" (and this time someone responded!) and offered to buy her any book on the table.

"Nevermind," she said.

I thought that meant she wasn't interested, but hell, what do I know about English? It meant that she was interested. We picked out a book together--Babysitter's Club. She promised to tell me how it was. I promise to tell this story a lot so that I can yell the word JAAO a lot. JAAAOOOOO

JAAAAAAAAAAOOOOOOOOOOOOO
JAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
JAAO!
JAAO!
JAAO!

Oh speaking of students, today I ran into two students, So and Pair, outside the chaff-eteria (I call the cafeteria because "the chaff-eteria" because the food is chaff--is my microphone working? How about in the back?). Well I see them all the time, these two freshymen, and they always laugh and then run away so as to not have to talk to me. They learned their lesson the first time, when they eagerly came up to me for a conversation before realizing they couldn't actually speak any English. Spirits crushed, lesson learned.

Well, about five minutes after I said hello, it turned out that I got into the soup line (not as depressing as it sounds) right behind So, who turned around and saw me, and responded as all normal humans would.

"Ahhh!" she screamed, and then turned around really fast.
"Whoooa!" I said back, startled.

And then we stood in silence. I'm sure she was hoping I wouldn't say anything to her, but the police don't call me "persistently intrusive" for nothing!

(Am I right, Donna. Why don't  you return my phone calls, Donna. I know you are reading this, Donna.)

I asked her what she was ordering. She answered in Thai. She asked me what I was ordering. Then she stuck around to listen to me speak Thai. Afterwards she asked me if I was studying Thai with a teacher. I said I was. Then she ran away with her bowl of soup, scuttling off like a mouse.

Just like the States.