TODAY’S NEWS FROM AMERICA:
Comments on the flooding from my friend, the well-known ex-pat mystery writer Christopher Moore:
“News reports of cracks in flood walls, high tide on Monday, an unstoppable wall of water moving from the North and West into Bangkok, possible evacuation of FROC to Chon Buri. This is a long weekend in Thailand. Many have gone to Hua Hin or Pattaya. There is a nervous edge as people brace for a water world with food and water shortages, power blackouts, shutting down of transport and banking. It may be outside the power of government to prevent the flooding of Bangkok. No one can predict the amount of damage or the length of time before things resume to normal or what will emerge on the other side of this drama.”
and now head of IMF, has recently announced that the IMF would no longer be willing to pick up a third of the total bill for rescuing Greece unless European banks were prepared to write off 50 per cent of Greek debt.
At last someone in power is willing to start the only sensible strategy for ending the debt crisis, default. The banks need to assume some responsibility and suffer significant losses instead of imposing them solely on the general public alone.
POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN CALIFORNIA:
After lunch, my friend Pino who owns the restaurant in Belden Alley (along with four others) that Mike and I sat at, joined us and treated us to an ungodly number of rounds of grappa while we discussed Pino’s ongoing conflict with the “Shorenstein Company,” that owns the adjacent parcel and intends to build a hotel complex using Belden Alley as the entrance to the garage.
Mike and I walked back toward his office where we parted and I headed to the tram to return home. Being befogged as I was from the grappa, I found myself in the midst of the “Occupy” protest in front of the Federal Reserve building in downtown San Francisco where I made several unrequested speeches on their behalf before hopping on the trolley.
The next day I had lunch with another colleague, Bob Uram, at “the Slanted Door“ a Vietnamese fusion restaurant in the restored Ferry Building at the foot of Market Street in San Francisco. Bob is one of the better attorney’s that I know. His ability to deal in the nether world between the law and the ambiguity of administrative agencies is almost mystical. We sat outside at a table overlooking the Bay and the arriving and departing ferry boats and talked about things past.
On Friday morning I left SF to travel again to Sacramento, this time to go camping with Hayden, Joey the male maid and his adopted children James and John. Upon arriving in Sacramento, Norbert and Stevie met me at the train station with a sleeping bag they were loaning me for my adventure into the woods. They kindly drove me from Sacramento to El Dorado hills where I met my companions in the escapade, Joey (the new male maid), James (6 years old) and John (11) his adopted children and Hayden.
We roared off in Joey’s large extended cab late-model pick up heading toward the Sierras, stopping briefly in Placerville to hook up a large camper trailer to the truck. After about an hour or two we had climbed to about 5000 feet, deep into the land of the giant ponderosa and sugar pines, incense cedar and sequoia. We discovered that all the public campgrounds were closed for budgetary reasons, so we settled into an old private campground named Ice House Camp. Like most old private campgrounds in the Sierra it was best described as a slum in the forest. Its guano caked picnic tables more resembled kindling than something to eat at. The BBQ’s and fire pits were rusting back into the ground. On the other hand the trees that were no higher than shrubs when the campground was created on a part of the forest that had at that time been recently clear-cut, had now grown to cathedral-like splendor.
After downing a spaghetti dinner prepared by Joey on the stove in the trailer, we ineffectually attempted to start a fire in the fire pit that only succeeded when I donated my supply of newspapers and tissue paper to the attempt. We then sat around the flames toasting marshmallows. Surprising for me was the discovery that the new style marshmallows were not those one rounded square inch or so of congealed sugar, but have now ballooned into bricks of more that two inches on a side. Instead of biting through the bitter burned outer layer os sugar to get at the sweet warm mass at the center, these new super-sized marshmallows required consuming the burned outer layers and returning the unmelted and unheated layers to the fire to be toasted again.
The boys made s’mores. For those unfamiliar with s’mores, as I understand it northern California takes credit for their invention. They consist of pressing between two Grahame Crackers the freshly melted Marshmallow and a piece chocolate.
While staring at Hayden across the fire I was saddened by the realization that our relationship was soon to change. As his personality and approach to life are becoming set, my feeble attempts to aid him are becoming irrelevant and so things change and I must get on with my life. I washed all this, the bitter thoughts and the taste of burned marshmallow, down with an entire bottle of Amador Zinfandel.
Following devouring those gourmet desserts, at a request of the boys for a ghost story, I told one about the Sierra Creeper who snuck into the world from the darkness when Coyote opened up a slit in the darkness to allow the first people into the world. Then we went to bed in the trailer.
The next morning while Joey prepared a breakfast of scrambled eggs and chorizo, the children went fishing and my nose froze because the temperature had sunk down to the high thirties.
After breakfast, we drove to a relatively secluded spot where Hayden changed into his cameo outfit and Joey and the boys unlimbered their BB-guns and Pellet gun and took target practice at some tin cans and then marched off into the forest ostensibly to hunt some inoffensive tiny creäture or birds. Fortunately the innocent creatures seemed much more clever than the pseudo-hunters.
I remained behind leaning against a rock taking in the sun with my eyes closed. It all felt so manly that I soon trudged off into the woods to shit and wipe myself with pine needles (having burned all the tissue last night)
Below is a photographs of the crew at target practice. Given my feelings about guns, warfare and killing, I find it difficult even looking at the picture. It frightens me. I see no heroism in it, only the death of loved ones, yours or someone else’s.
JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:
Chapter: Fat Al’s Fantasy:
Fat Al wondered how best to acquire the background information about Red Star and the rest that Vince asked for. His musings were interrupted with visions of Isabella Yeung. Although happily married for 28 years, he was neither above nor beyond fantasizing. And, Isabella was something around which many fantasies could be built. She had challenged him, following the debacle that accompanied the last time he tried to tail her, to call her if he wanted to know her whereabouts, instead of engaging in a version of spy vs spy satire. So, taking her invitation as an excuse, he decided to call her before calling his other contacts.
She answered the first ring and in her deep throaty voice asked “What can I do for you Mr. Pischotti?”
A brief frission of excitement accompanied his surprise at her recognition of his number.
“Yes, how are you Ms Yeung,” he said lamely? “I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions. I thought your request that I contact you included some information as well as your whereabouts.”
“Well, it didn’t,” she said. “But, what is it you want to know. If I know the answer I might tell it to you.”
“Thank you. I am trying to find out all I can about a company named ‘Red Star.'”
“Are you asking this on behalf of Vincent Biondi,” she enquired.
“Yes I am.”
Forty-five minutes later Fat Al closed the connection, leaned back in his chair and let out a sound somewhere between a sigh and groan.
He then began dialing up his friends and informers in the public safety and security agencies to try to verify the troubling information he had just received.
a. I didn’t know that:
Q: Why is someone who is feeling great ‘on cloud nine’?
A: Types of clouds are numbered according to the altitudes they attain, with nine being the highest cloud. If someone is said to be on cloud nine, that person is floating well above worldly cares.
b. From God’s Mouth to your ears:
God is still vacationing in Pattaya.
c. News from Diskworld:
1. The Wit, Wisdom and Sometimes Discomfort of Sir Samuel Vimes.
“A Blackboard Monitor: One who can erase the writings, somebody who can rub out what is there.”
2. Snippets from ‘Unggue Theology,’ by Pastor Oats.
“…in reality, most goblins observe the Unggue Had – what one might term the common and lax form of Unggue – which encompasses earwax, finger and toenail clippings, and snot. Water, generally speaking, is reckoned as not unggue, but something which goes through the body without ever being part of it: they reason that there is no apparent difference in the water before or after, as it were (which sadly shines a light on the freshness of the water they encounter in their underground lairs). Similarly feces are considered to be food that has merely undergone a change of state. Surprisingly, teeth are of no interest to the goblins, who look upon them as a type of fungus, and they appear to attach no importance to hair, of which, it has to be said they seldom have very much.”
3. Aphorisms from the Oblong Office:
“In short, a certain amount of harmless banditry amongst the lower classes is to be smiled upon if not actively encouraged, for the health of the city, but what should we do when the highborn and wealthy take to crime? Indeed if a poor man will spend a year in prison for stealing out of hunger, how high would the gallows need to be to hang the rich man who breaks the law out of greed?”
d. Testosterone Chronicles:
“Sicarius… celebrated the feast of the Nativity… with Austrighiselus and the other neighbors…. The priest… sent a boy to invite some of the men to come to his house for a drink. When the boy got there, one of the men he invited drew his sword and did not refrain from striking him. He fell down and was dead…. Sicarius… took his arms and went to the church to wait for Austrighiselus. The latter heard about this and armed himself…. [B]oth parties suffered harm…. Sicarius got away unnoticed… made for his homestead… leaving behind… his silver, his clothes, and four of his servants who had been wounded. After he had fled, Austrighiselus broke into the building, killed the servants, and took away with him the gold, the silver, and the other things. When they appeared later before the people’s court, the sentence was that Austrighiselus was to pay the legal penalty for manslaughter…. Sicarius, forgetting about these arrangements… broke the peace… invaded the home, killed father, brother, and son, and having done away with the servants took all their belongings and their cattle. When we heard this, we grew greatly perturbed…”
Gregory, Bishop of Tours.
“Perturbed?” Freaked out is more likely I would think.
e. Department of abasement, apology and correction:
In my previous e-mail I mentioned that the author Furst was a classmate of Ruth’s. Actually he went to a nearby school but they had gone to camp together. My apologies to all concerned.