Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Waiting for the end of the World

Simulating the apocalypse
(click image to enlarge
Every time a meteor comes close to the earth, we all think about the end of the world - but our internal soundtrack doesn't turn off. We're also thinking about pizza or passing a slow tractor or making a turn, and for a magical instant, our lives seem to be in conversation with the stars. - Elif Batuman

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

O-Negative (we discover that somebody is bonkers)

Peun tries to drown his sorrows
Episode 9 of the Thai TV show O-Negative (Episode 8) continues in the aftermath of Foon's birthday party. Art has driven Prim home. When he checks his phone after dropping her off he sees that there were 3 missed calls from Peun.

They meet at Go's bar where Peun tells him about Foon's request that he wait until she breaks up with Ong-art. Art says it sounds fine, and then gives his usual advice that Peun just needs to be himself and wait. He then reminds Peun that he told him to take it easy and just stay friends with Foon at first. Peun just keeps drinking and feeling sorry for himself.

Meanwhile Foon is in her room looking a pictures of Peun from her party. She looks like she is deep in thought, pondering what the solution to her problem might be.

Chompoo gets scolded at breakfast
The next morning breakfast at the Chompoo residence is a bit tense. It starts with her dad angry at her for staying out late. Things don't improve when her sister Som O comes to the table. Unlike his reaction to Chompoo, her dad is solicitous to her sister. Som O says she's been studying for her college entrance exam. she says she wants to go into Hotel Management so she can be a concierge and meet a rich guys. Chompoo rolls her eyes at that notion.

However, her father latches onto the idea of the entrance exam and says he wants Chompoo to take it again so she can study something besides her current major -- fashion design. She points out that she's already put a year into her studies, he replies that he would rather her waste a year than her life.

Chompoo tries to counter with an example to show him Fashion Design is a viable major. Unfortunately, for some reason she picks designing bikinis for Victoria's Secret as an example. Really Chompoo? You think a fancy lingerie retailer is going to sway your dad's opinion?

He scoffs at that example, pointing out that the woman who makes her mom's underwear didn't need a college degree. Her mom is aghast at the thought that Chompoo is studying to just design bikinis. The scene ends with Chompoo's dad yelling at her that he isn't going to give up until she drops out of Fashion Design. Chompoo is upset and her bratty sister is happily smirking over it all.

As an aside, speaking of fashion, I do like the dad's shirts. I wonder where he shops?

We have brief interlude where Art and Peun are sitting on a roof. Foon messages Peun asking him if he wants to go to a movie with her. He doesn't text back. We then cut to a shot of Foon sitting on her couch looking perplexed. She tries to call Peun but he doesn't pick up.

Prim gets caught gawking at a picture of Art
The next scene shows Prim sketching on her porch. She stops, picks up her phone and zooms in on her and Art in a picture. As she is sitting there gawking at Art her mom comes up behind her and wonders if he is Prim's boyfriend. She says no, and then zooms the picture out to show the entire group. Her mom then suggests she invite the group over. We also learn that Prim's dad is an artist.

We cut to the next morning. The kids are sorting out how they're getting to school. Foon is dropping hints that she'll pick up Peun, but he ignores them and says he'll go with Art.

And now a word from our sponsor
We are shown a dramatic close-up shot of Dentyne gum on Chompoo's night stand. Above is a screencap of that bit of product placement. The kids have been getting sticks of gum out of those green packages repeatedly.

Asian product placement can be jarringly obvious, with dialog sometimes written around it that sounds like ad copy. There's a Chinese drama that again and again extolls the virtue of McDonalds for breakfast, and the Korean TV show Because This Is My First Life does an entertaining job lampooning product placements when the female lead starts as an assistant script writer who's only job is to write them. Her ridiculous scenarios to do so nicely capture the absurdity of it all.

Anyway, back to the story. Chompoo has gone to visit Go. Prim and Foon head out to a restaurant. They try to get the boys to join them, but Peun is avoiding Foon. Prim then invites all of them to her house on Saturday to work on their projects. Peun tells Art he'll go if he does, so Art accepts and the five of them are set to meet at Prim's house.

Pardon me while I slobber over Prim's house
When Peun arrives at the gate Art calls and says he can't make it. Peun starts whining so Art hangs up and texts him a mocking message that he can go home if he's a coward. Before he can leave Foon comes out and so he decides to go in.

Chompoo has not brought any of her work and is just goofing off, but the other two girls have spread their stuff out. Foon invites Peun to sit next to her, but he uses the excuse of needing more room to lay his stuff out, so he sits as far away from her as possible. He tries his best to ignore Foon.

We cut to Art who is painting a banner at the Poh Teck Tung Foundation. He's wearing the t-shirt Prim gave him, but takes it off when he splashes a little paint on it. Tum looks that banner and mentions that Art's hand writing looks like the mysterious Ms Sirilak's. Art replies jokingly (at least I think it is a joke) that it's because they are related by blood. Who knows what that's all about.

Tum then manages to spill some paint on his hand. He starts to pick up Art's t-shirt to clean up, but Art is bothered by that and quickly stops him.

Foon makes her move
Prim and Chompoo go to get some noodles for lunch leaving Foon and Peun alone. Peun is trying his best to ignore Foon, so she finally gets up and walks over to him and asks him why he's acting that way. He gives his usual answer about being confused by her, and then says he should leave.

She stands on his papers so he can't leave. She then starts unbuttoning her blouse. She kneels down in front of him asks if he is going to keep avoiding her now as she moves in to kiss Peun.

At that point Prim's mother arrives. She discreetly coughs to let the two know somebody else is there. They both practically jump out of their skins in surprise and embarrassment. Foon has to turn her back to button her blouse. An akward conversation follows as Prim's mother acts as if she saw nothing. We do find out that she was an art student in her youth.

We see a brief scene of Art at the Foundation cleaning up after painting the banner and later one of Prim's mom drinking wine and smoking cigarettes on the deck. She eventually joins the kids who are eating lunch and invites them to dinner. When she tells Prim she'll also invite her dad Prim declines, giving the excuse that the kids had plans to meet with a Senior that night.

When she leaves the kids are a bit puzzled by that, wondering which Senior she was talking about. She says Go at his bar. They still seem puzzled by her reaction.

Peun rubs it in
When the get to the bar it is empty. Peun, demonstrating his usual mastery of social skills, points out that there are no customers. Sadly Go resists the urge to smack Peun upside his head, instead they launch into a conversation about different ways of marketing the bar.

They call Art to come meet them, but he is in the back of the Foundation's truck on the way to a traffic accident. He arrives at the accident, takes several pictures and then is assigned to task of directing traffic around the accident scene. As he is doing that we see several shots of a driver, who is fighting falling asleep, nearing the accident scene.

The car and Prim both bear down on Art
Some how the rest of O Group manages to arrive at the scene of the accident. Prim gets out of the car and notices the sleeping driver bearing down on Art. She screams in abject terror and then sprints to Art and jumps into his arms to push him back from the car's path. She then starts sobbing uncontrollably and gets so hysterical that she can't even stand. As she collapses to her knees Art, and the rest of the group, are frozen in shock over her reaction.

We jump back into Prim's flashback. It is at the point where her mother gets out of the car and storms off. Her dad tells Prim not to worry, that her mom will get over being angry soon. They're driving down a road when there is a hit and run accident in front of them. A motorcyclist is laying on the road injured. Prim's dad gets out of the care to tend to him. As he is bent over the inquired biker another car careens down the road and slams into him. He is killed as Prim looks on in horror.

When we return to the present they are all in Foon's car. Prim is still crying and upset as she tells them the story. She adds that her father's death haunts her mother, and that whenever she's been drinking her mom acts as if her husband is still alive. That's why she had to hurry them out that afternoon, so her mother could drink alone.

The kids are try to comfort her. Art is sitting behind her, unsure what to do as the others console her. Finally he reaches forward and tenderly squeezes her shoulder. It is the one comforting touch she responds to as she reaches up and gently grasps his hand.

Thoughts on the show so far

First, I should make it clear that when I call it a soap opera that's not entirely accurate. Asian dramas are more like Latin American novellas, in that they have a beginning, and end and a set number of episodes. So, this show is presumably headed somewhere.

Also, this show is not unfolding under the template a Korean or Chinese drama would use so some of my early comments and expectations were way off base.  For example, I had thought the show was going to set up the usual Love Quadrilateral, where the primary  pair both have secondary love interests complicating things. Instead, although I assume their will still be much soap opera hijinks, I think they are contrasting two couples: Peun/Foon and Prim/Art.

Thailand is a Buddhist country and so the show must be steeped in Buddhist sensibilities. I think the two couples are examples of how to, or how not to, handle desire. Peun and Foon have left their desires run out of control and so misery is sure to follow. Meanwhile Art and Prim are being much more circumspect in how they are handling their attraction to each other.

Friendship and charity are two other themes that are heavily touched upon. Art repeatedly stresses to Peun that he should place his friendship with the group above chasing after Foon. He clearly considers Peun's aggressive pursuit of Foon to be wrong because it will endanger the group's friendship.

Finally, I'll end with the caveat that all my ramblings are based on a very imperfect reading of a Thai TV show that is probably aimed at young adults. What I am doing is likely as silly as a Thai trying to make sense out of things while watching episodes of Saved by the Bell. Eh, on the other hand, since when did I leave not knowing what I'm talking about get in the way of being a know-it-all blowhard?

[Episode 10]

Monday, April 27, 2020

Victorian burlesque dancers

Click any image to enlarge
Victorian burlesque were comedies of the day that relied on caricaturing more serious works. Shakespeare was a common target. Of course there was a bit of titillations involved as well. These are pictures of some of the burlesque actresses of the day. Tastes change, and that is most obvious in some of the painfully corseted waists on display.

These pictures, and those after the jump are from the Vintage News post Victorian burlesque dancers and their flamboyant costumes. There are more pictures and information at the link.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

A Sunday breakfast from the Great Depression

In the above video Clara remembers the Sunday breakfast of sugar cookies and coffee her mother used to make during the Great Depression. Below are a few more of her videos. Hopefully these recipes will remain as nostalgia and not turn into a how-to for our post quarantine lives.

If you're interested in the recipes and stories she has a book Clara's Kitchen: Wisdom, Memories, and Recipes from the Great Depression.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

O-Negative (Chompoo gets an offer she can't refuse)

The return of the candy lady
Domestic bliss
Episode 8 of the Thai TV show O-Negative (Episode 7) starts where the previous episode ended. The girls have gone out to buy food while the two boys are still at Go's bar painting the mural. Meanwhile, Go is off buying fried breadsticks for Chompoo.

The girls are at a food stand. Chompoo is whining because it is out of her favorite fried bread sticks. The girls are trying to decide what to do when it occurs to me the food stand looks familiar. It looks like the food stand from Prim's last flashback and sure enough the old lady selling candy soon appears.

This triggers a continuation of Prim's flashback. The family is in the car after getting their food. Prim is in the backseat watching her two parents fight in the front seat. Her mother is furious that her dad bought so much candy from the old lady. He defends his action, saying the lady was very poor and the money will be a great help to her.

The fight escalates as Prim's mom accuses her dad of being a soft touch who is wasting their family's money. There is a bitter back and forth about some friend of his he is helping through a rough stretch. Her parents really start tearing into each other with low blows. Prim has been growing increasingly distressed through all of this. Eventually, at a stop light, Prim's mom gets out of the car and storms off.

We cut to Peun and Art working on the mural. Art asks why Peun didn't go with Foon and Peun responds with his usual complaints about Foon's confusing behavior. Art mocks him for being a bit of a crybaby. Amen to that. Granted, Foon would be a completely nutty girlfriend with her secrecy, but she is pretty obviously throwing herself at Peun and he needs to take his whimpering down a notch.

Unspoken Prim to Peun -- cool your jets
At that point Prim comes in with the food. Peun starts laying it on a little think with his compliments to her. She seems a bit taken aback and plays the friend zone card as a reminder just in case. Art makes note of the exchange.

Meanwhile the rest of the kids meet on the street in front of the bar. Chompoo gets an angry call from her dad who insists she come home right away. Go offers to take her there and tells the rest of them to call it a night.

Foon heads up with the drinks Go had bought and the four of them debate what to do. Foon convinces them to leave, but Art says he is going to stay and work some more. Prim tells Foon and Peun to go ahead and go home and says she'll stay with Art and help him finish up. Foon teases the two about finally being able to have quality time with each other.

Will Peun take the hint?
As Foon and Peun walk to her car I'm sure you can guess what happens. Yup, he starts whining to her that he thinks she's trying to avoid him. What? Are we watching the same show? She tells him that he's overthinking things and that he shouldn't be so sensitive. She then kisses him on his cheek to reassurre him. He's pleased, but from what we've gathered so far from watching the dunce in action I'm sure he'll be back to fretting about her intentions in a scene or two.

Meanwhile Prim and Art are having a pleasant time with each other. He starts singing, she asks him what song and he says it is by Ploychompoo and is the one that has the handsome guy in the video. Amazingly, and as a demonstration that I need a life, I actually found the music video. It is called ปลิว (Away). The joke is that Tor Thanapob Leeluttanakajorn, the actor who plays Peun, is the handsome guy in the video. The song is about a girl who has a secret crush and that is played upon as Art wistfully sneaks peeks at Prim.

Soon they are interrupted by Peun who shows up after seeing Foon home. Is that boob Peun capable of interpreting any social signals? The two obviously just wanted to be together for a bit. To say Art looks unhappy is an understatement.

I want one of them beautiful Thai zoomer murals painted on my wall
Through the miracle of time-lapse photography the days pass and the mural gets completed. The kids pose in front of it and then it is time for the grand opening of the Upstairs Bar & Bistro. The place is crowded, even Professor Buddy and the attractive painting teacher are there.

O Group reflects on how they used to hate Go in the hazing days, but now they like him. There are then a bunch of crowd scenes and shots of the kids dancing.

Chompoo is put on the spot
We next see Go standing on top of the bar with an announcement. Not only is this the bar's first night of business, but it is also a couple's first day as a couple. He is going to reveal the couple. He gets off the bar and directs everybody's attention to O Group. Art, Foon, Prim and Peun all nervously look at each other wondering who the couple is. However, Go points to Chompoo and says it is her.

She, along with everybody else in the bar, is mystified until Go confesses he likes Chompoo and then drops to his knees and asks her to be his girlfriend. Chompoo doesn't quite know whether to take Go seriously or not, but soon the crowd is chanting "say yes" and she does excitedly accept. The crowd then chants "kiss, kiss, kiss" but Go shyly chickens out and just asks her to dance. It doesn't matter to Chompoo because she is ecstatic and so she happily does some wild Chompoo dancing.

Prim confronts a mystery she cannot solve
Art is sitting outside getting some air and Prim comes out to join him. Art is fiddling around with  his camera and she asks him if she can see the pictures on it. She starts at the pictures of Go asking Chompoo to be his girlfriend, but as she continues to scroll she notices he has about a bazillion pictures of her on his phone. She asks him why. Hmmm... when he's not taking photos of her he is drawing pictures of her... whatever could that mean?

Meanwhile Peun is inside with Foon and Chompoo. Foon is going on about how wonderful Go was to Chompoo and how jealous she is that Chompoo got a man to go down on his knees to ask her to go out. Foon says she would love it if a man would do something like that for her. Peun is taking this all in.

Beavis and Butthead used to do a funny thing where when they got an idea, because they were so stupid, instead of a bright lightbulb turning on over their head a lightbulb that barely flickered appeared instead. I picture Peun with one of those barely flickering lightbulbs over his head.

We cut back to Art and Prim. Art asks Prim if she has a boyfriend. She says no and asks Art if he has a girlfriend. He says no, that he doesn't think girls would be interested in him. He adds that he's too timid to talk to girls and that he doesn't know how to approach them. She points out that she's a girl and wonders if maybe he doesn't see her as one. Realizing the corner he's painted himself into he flounders around, unable to explain what he meant.

She then edges a bit closer to him and asks him if there is a girl he likes. He says yes, but says he is too shy to tell  her, and besides -- he doesn't know if the feeling is mutual.

We join Art and Peun the next morning. Peun is asking Art whether he should ask Foon to be his girlfriend or not. Art's response is to quit bugging him about it and just ask her. After some bromance comedy about Peun creeping out Art by pretending he's Foon and practicing asking on him, Peun decides to surprise Foon on her birthday.

I sense a disturbance in the Force
On Foon's birthday Peun brings up her Facebook page and is typing Happy Birthday wishes to her when he notices a video, with some heart emojis, from a fellow called Ong-art. Peun watches the video. Ong-art sings happy birthday, teases Foon about looking too  thin and blows a kiss her way at the end. On her timeline he's also listed the two of them in a relationship. Needless to say, Peun is stricken.

Foon has also watched the video. she almost deletes it, but doesn't.

Later Chompoo, Prim, Art and Peun are at a picnic table discussing Ong-art's video. Chompoo has dug through Foon's old Facebook posts and has seen a lot of pictures of the two so she deduces that he is her boyfriend. Peun is looking miserable. When Foon arrives Chompoo starts grilling her about him. Foon says he is her ex-boyfriend. She points out she didn't like or comment on his post, and in fact that she almost deleted it. Peun looks relieved.

Later, after a class, Foon invites them all to Go's bar where she'll treat on her birthday. One by one they beg off, claiming they are busy. By the time Foon gets to the bar Peun is the only one still with her. She's upset they all ditched her on her birthday, so Go tells her to go up and drink all the beer she wants. It dark when she gets up there, but then the lights all turn on, out comes a cake and it turns out that they've thrown her a surprise party.

What could possibly go wrong?
When the party is over Peun walks Foon back to her car. When they get there he points her towards the trunk of her car and tells her he has a surprise. He uses the key to open the trunk. When it does balloons pop out and there is a sign saying "be my girlfriend" in it.

So... I'm wondering... how did he manage to decorate the inside of the trunk of her car?

At any rate, Peun asks Foon if she'll be his girlfriend and she hems and haws a bit and then says that she likes him a lot but that she can't go out with him. He wonders why and she says that Ong-art is still her boyfriend. She's wanted to break up with Ong-art, but hasn't had a reason to until Peun came along. She asks him to wait for a little longer. What?

Now I'm even more puzzled than I was by her decorated car truck. Can't she just do the ol' "you're a great guy, but I've met somebody else, can we still be friends" schtick that has broken so many a heart? Do you need to do some sort of a more formal breakup in Thailand?

[Episode 9]

Friday, April 24, 2020

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

The Space Age kitchen

Even more amazing than the refrigerator that rolls around on a cushion of air is the teen dance party at the end.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

O-Negative (backstory-o-rama)

Sakuntala - the beauty Peun flatters Foon with
Episode 7 of the Thai TV show O-Negative (Episode 6) starts with the kids at an art museum getting an art appreciation lecture. They are all bored to death. When the lecture ends the teacher tells them to pick one of the artworks and write an essay  about why it is beautiful.

As the students spread out Peun naturally ends up next to Foon. Considering his interlude, during the last episode, of fantasizing over Prim because of the t-shirt gift he needs to do an enormous amount of groveling to get back into Foon's good graces. He tells her that he threw the t-shirt away, which she thinks was stupid and then he tells her he cares for her but she's noncommittal.

Finally, in desperation he starts spouting poetry. Oh Peun, you silly boy. After going on about fair skin, jasmine and the eyes of a lion she realizes he's comparing her to the legendary beauty Sakuntala. I must say, for this being nothing but a oddball soap opera I sure am having to Google a lot of stuff. Anyway, she seems to fall for his flattery although she still maintains some distance.

Elsewhere Art has hooked up with Prim. She notices he is done with his assignment and wonders why he hasn't handed it in yet. He tells her he is keeping her company and besides, he is keeping himself busy. With that he gives her a sketch he did of her. She is quite pleased by it and his attention.

Go invites the O Group to his new bar
We cut to outside the museum, where as they leave Foon turns down Peun's offer of a dinner and a movie, claiming she's busy that night. Right after that the other kids come out. Chompoo tells them that Go messaged her and said he had a new bar and that he invited them to visit. Prim wants to know if they're all going.

All of them, including Foon who is suddenly not busy, want to go. The look on Peun's face is pretty funny. He looks surprised that she lied about being busy. Apparently he hasn't watched the first six episodes where she has told lies at the drop of a hat.

No offense Go, but your bar is a dump
When the kids get to Go's bar they discover it is an empty room on the 2nd floor. Chompoo teases Go about it, asking him if he is planning on having his customers sit on the floor drinking shots. Go explains his plans for the bar and says he needs some helpers. He wants the O Group to paint a mural on the wall and in return they'll get a life time 10% discount and their own special table.

The kids agree and the rest of the episode is, for the most part, going to be them telling stories about their past as they draw the mural. First we flashback to Peun and Art at a cram school. They are preparing for their college entrance exams.

Peun wonders why the nice lady gave him a chocolate bar
They're in a drawing class that is being taught by Aum. She's attractive and obviously interested in Peun for more than just his drawing progress. She hovers him and blatantly flirts with him. She ends up giving him a chocolate bar. Art points out to Peun that she is obviously interested in him and they could easily go out. Peun scoffs at that, saying he doesn't really like her.

However, at the end of a later class Art sees Peun and Aum leaving arm and arm. Their relationship doesn't last long, because we next see Art in the class alone. Aum is pestering him about where Peun has been. In fact, she pesters him so much that he ends up dropping the class as well.

So, Peun is a highschool kid and she is his adult teacher and her behavior doesn't raise an eyebrow? Well, apparently not. We return to the mural painting where the kids discuss Peun's story. Chompoo thinks he just slept with Aum and then dumped her. Peun claims that's not true, that he didn't like her. Then again, Foon is listening so Peun is spewing a fair amount of BS to try to impress her.

Meanwhile Chompoo has looked up their cram school and she realizes she went to the same one, but she was in a different class. They're eating as they talk about that coincidence when Go starts joking about Chompoo eating all the food. He then hems and haws a bit before asking Chompoo if she likes him. In Asian dramas telling somebody of the opposite sex that you like them is saying that you want to have a relationship. Chompoo sits there not knowing whether Go is joking or not, the kids are amused and an embarrassed Go heads out to buy Chompoo more food.

Chompoo tries to kill her sister
Chompoo's flashback starts at the cram school where she throws her drawing away when she leaves. He parents don't approve, so she has to keep the cram school secret. At dinner it becomes apparent that her father favors her sister Som O. He gives Som O the good pieces of food while he offers nothing to Chompoo.

After dinner the two sisters are in their room. Chompoo is trying to study while Som O is dancing around practicing a cheerleading routine. She ends up bopping Chompoo in the head with  her pom-pom. Chompoo jumps up angrily, and soon the two of them are fighting. Som O, being a little tattle-tale, yells to her dad that Chompoo is fighting with her.

In the next scene the Chompoo's dad is yelling at her while Som O stands behind him smirking. Chompoo ends up getting tossed out of the house so her sister can cheerlead practice in peace. Poor Chompoo is shown sitting on the curb outside her house under a street light trying not to cry as she reads.

We cut back to bar where the kids commiserate with Chompoo. Art then says he thinks he knows why Chompoo's dad is so harsh. He points out that Chompoo comes from a Chinese family and that the Chinese place great value in the first born. He jokingly says being stuck with the likes of Chompoo as their firstborn would frustrate anybody.

Foon then asks Art if he stayed in the class after Peun quit. He says no and seems a bit irked that, thanks to Peun, he had to quit after paying for the classes.

Tum gives Art some food
 We flashback to him drawing at the Foundation. Tum comes up and gives him some bananas from a left over temple offering. Art hungrily eats them. Later he calls his mom from a pay phone. He just wants to talk to her. After the call he checks his money and decides to take a train to visit her.

She is happy to see him, but concerned that he has enough money. She feels bad because she can't support him better. They have a talk where she questions him about his situation. He draws portraits -- I guess for tourists -- for living expenses. He only can draw three a day at most because his hand cramps if he draws more, and he has to end by midnight so he can catch a bus. His mother is upset, but she says nothing.

The next day she's prepared a parcel of food for him for his train ride back to Bangkok. He's depressed as he returns. Back at the bar the girls are impressed he made it into college without the benefit of a cram school. Foon and Prim compare notes and discover they both attended the Phra Sumen Fort cram school, but they didn't know each other at the time.

Trouble in paradise
We get Prim's flashback first. He father drops her off and we see her drawing with Foon sitting a little way off. A fellow comes up with a bag of cookies and asks Prim to give them to Foon and ask for her phone number. Prim says OK, then opens the bag and starts eating the cookies. The fellow protests and she just points out he should have approached Foon in the first place.

We cut to Prim's parents waiting for her. They don't seem entirely happy and Prim's mom eventually accuses her dad of turning her into an alcoholic back in their college days. Yeeps! This conversation has taken a turn for the worse mighty fast. Her dad then mentions somebody called Weera and Prim's mom wonders if he's talked to him yet. He says no because Weera said his kid being sick. Prim's mom is disgusted.

Prim joins them and they drive to get food. Prim and her dad are jovial enough, but her mom is silent and obviously unhappy. While they're waiting for the food an old beggar lady approaches them to buy some candy. The dad does, while Prim's mom gets their order and walks off in a huff. She is even angrier.

All that remains is Foon's flashback. She's finishing up her session at the Phra Sumen Fort cram school when a young fellow walks up. He flirts with her and she flirts back. I do believe we have our first Ong-art sighting.

[Episode 8]

The mysterious Ong-art makes an appearance

Monday, April 20, 2020

Desi Old Black engine at work

Villagers fire up a Desi Old Black engine and connect a belt driven contraption (I have no idea what it is doing) to it. The young boy in the beginning seems to be delighted that he is being filmed helping.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

The Release from Deception

Click image to enlarge
Il Disinganno (The Release from Deception) is an 18th century sculpture by Francesco Queirolo. It features an elaborately carved net that the main figure is freeing himself from, allegorical of a man freeing himself from sin. It took Queirolo 7 years to carve the net from marble. The intricacy of the net's ropes and knots is truly a remarkable achievement.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

O-Negative (I see dead people)

Just don't try to kiss me again bro
Time for Episode 6 of the Thai TV show O-Negative (Episode 5). The series is actually based on a movie and so, as you can imagine, there seems to be a fair amount of padding to spread the two hour run time of a movie into a full season. This episode is probably an example of that.

We start with Art and Peun on the roof of the freshman workshop. Peun finally gets around to telling Art about his secret relationship with Foon. Art, aside from being relieved that Peun isn't going to try any more of his kissing experiments, doesn't know what to say. Finally, Art just suggests that, if it bothers Peun so much, that he slow down his relationship to Foon.

Of course the problem with that advice is that Foon is actually the one aggressively pursuing the relationship. Later she calls Peun. He tries to ignore her call, but his resistance lasts about 15 seconds.  The be fair to Peun, that's about 10 seconds longer than the average guy would last if Foon were throwing herself at them.

Anyway, he agrees to meet her at a location that Art is also going to be at, but he doesn't tell her that fact. He does tell Art she's coming, who seems a bit disgusted by his friend's lack of a backbone.

A romantic rendevous
They meet at the coffin donation window of the Poh Teck Tung Foundation. Coffin donation is an act of charity that provides poor people with proper burials. It seems like it would be a morbid place to go on a date, but Foon is quite pleased by it when she gets there. They decide to donate. First they make a wish over the money and then upon receiving a receipt they are told they can make a prayer in front of the venerable monk.

Before they pray Foon wants to wash her hands and on the way to the rest room she runs into Art who is wearing a uniform. Peun also walks up. Naturally she continues her nutty and increasingly ridiculous secrecy act by claiming that she just ran across Peun there by chance. As usual Peun looks like a whipped puppy and Art just looks embarrassed by it all.

When Foon excuses herself to leave Peun says he'll walk her to her car.  She knows he is upset, so when they get away from Art she comes up with another excuse for her behavior. This time she claims she's worried that Art would 'tease' them. Peun tells her Art is his friend and that he already told Art about them and for her not to worry, that Art won't say anything.

Art knows how to impress the ladies
The next day we join the girl's on the roof of the freshman workshop building where they are having hotpot again. Foon has told them about Art's job and they are waiting for the two boys to join them so they can ask him about it.

To clarify things before continuing, most of Thailand's first responders to traffic accidents and crime scenes are volunteers. Art is a volunteer with the Poh Teck Tung Foundation's team that supports emergency services. If you're interested, there is more about these volunteer teams at: In Pictures: Thailand's emergency volunteers.

Chompoo asks Art if he collects dead bodies. He says no, that he takes pictures of them. He teases Chompoo that he takes pictures of people who died poorly and acts like he is going to then take her picture. Without missing a beat Chompoo off-handedly points out that he's already taking pictures of Prim. Art and Prim's flustered reaction to Chompoo so casually mentioning what they thought was their discrete interest in each other is nicely done.

Prim asks about the pictures he takes and Art tells a story about photographing some guy who had been chopped up by gangsters. Chompoo loses her appetite as he tells the gruesome story of the guy's innards spread all over the apartment.

Prim says she would like to ride along on a call. Naturally this leads all of the kids being peer-pressured into agreeing to also ride along, although Chompoo is squeamish at the idea.

Art photographs Bo and Tum
The next scene is at a temple where Art is photographing two new characters: Bo and Tum. In a conversation with them they hint at some of Art's backstory. They ask him if he's called Ms Sirilak lately. He says every day, but if he calls on the weekend she won't answer because she's off meditating in the forest. Who knows what that's about, so just file it away as a plot point.

Art tells them some of his friends are coming, including some coeds. When Chompoo arrives early the two start slobbering all over her, telling her she is cute as they deliver one cheesy pickup line after another. They scare her off, but eventually the other kids come and she rejoins them.

They're sitting at a table when an emergency call comes in about an accident between a car and a motorcycle. They climb into the back of the rescue team pickup and race to the scene with the sirens blaring.

In actuality volunteers get some training before going out
When they get to the accident scene Chompoo and Foon are too scared to leave the pickup. Peun seems to use the two girls as an excuse to hang back as well, but Prim goes to help if she can. They give her a towel and tell her to compress a leg wound to stem the bleeding. She's fine until the ambulance takes the patient away, then she nearly faints when the adrenalin wears off.

We cut to a scene of the girls shopping in an outdoor market. Prim gets side tracked looking at some T-shirts while Foon and Chompoo continue on.

Later Prim is alone at the freshman workshop. Peun comes and Prim gives him a bag. Inside is a gift, a t-shirt like the ones she was looking at. Peun is thrilled. That night while wearing it he messages Prim telling her how much he likes it. He then starts liking a slew of her Instagram pictures. I'm not sure Peun is putting as much thought into this as he ought to.

The next day Foon and Chompoo are sitting in the school cafeteria when Peun shows up proudly wearing the t-shirt. He tells them that Prim gave it to him. Chompoo starts teasing him that he and Prim must now be an item. While Peun looks pleased, Foon looks absolutely stricken.

The hissing sound you hear is the air leaking out of Peun's ego
Art and Prim walk up at this point. Chompoo is still going on about Peun and Prim being an item when Art tells her Prim bought him one of the t-shirts as well. It is now Peun's turn to look stricken. Prim adds to his embarrassment when she tells them that she bought t-shirts for Bo and Tum as well. She had gotten blood on all their shirts and that's why she got the t-shirts.

Foon has cheered up considerably and she jokingly tells Prim she thought that she liked Peun. Prim laughs and says no, there is nothing between the two of them. Peun, his ego now stomped flatter than a pancake, is totally mortified.

We cut to a Art and Peun talking in a stairwell. Peun is admitting he feels like a complete fool. He'll get no argument from us on that point. Peun the declares that he's settled on the fact that Foon is the girl that he likes. Art is his usual noncommittal self and suggest to Peun that maybe just staying friends for now will lead to less emotional disaster down the road. That would be pretty good advice if we weren't in a soap opera. Sorry Art, but we need stupidity and emotional disaster for this story to progress.

The episode ends with Peun at home taking off the t-shirt and tossing it into the garbage. Jeez Peun, was that bit of drama-queenery really needed?

[Episode 7]

Friday, April 17, 2020

Thursday, April 16, 2020


Image from Mannequin Madness
(click to enlarge)

The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The tide rises, the tide falls,
The twilight darkens, the curlew calls;
Along the sea-sands damp and brown
The traveller hastens toward the town,
     And the tide rises, the tide falls.

Darkness settles on roofs and walls,
But the sea, the sea in the darkness calls;
The little waves, with their soft, white hands,
Efface the footprints in the sands,
     And the tide rises, the tide falls.

The morning breaks; the steeds in their stalls
Stamp and neigh, as the hostler calls;
The day returns, but nevermore
Returns the traveller to the shore,
     And the tide rises, the tide falls.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

A home made claw machine

Lord, but this is one complicated assembly made out of cardboard, syringes and plastic tubes. Of course, if you want to build one and make it even more realistic you'll need to make the claw's grip weaker so the stuffed toys keep falling out of its grip before you can get them.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

O-Negative (Foon further scrambles Peun's brain)

One of Chompoo's stranger flirting techniques
We've gotten to Episode 5 of the Thai TV show O-Negative (Episode 4). The previous episode ended with a Senior trying to get Foon drunk to take advantage of her. Before we see if he succeeds, we jump to the rest of the kids who are partying with Go and another Senior.

Chompoo is also quite drunk and she and Go are teasing each other. He jokingly calls her a pain in the neck, so she climbs on top of the picnic table to stand on top of his neck to show him just what a pain she can be. However, she gets sidetracked into doing a silly food preparation dance (don't ask) which the Seniors record on their cell phones.

In the next scene Art, Peun and Prim are taking drunken Chompoo back to their cabin. She's so drunk she can barely walk. She is happily babbling about how she loves them all right before she throws up on Art. They get her back to the cabin and are trying to clean Art's shirt when it occurs to them that Foon isn't there.

Concerned, the two boys set out to find Foon. When they find her Guide (that's the Senior lothario's name) is literally pouring booze straight from the bottle into Foon's mouth. Art is angry, and is ready to head over and deliver some rough justice, but Peun stops him and says he'll get Foon. Foon is glad to see Peun and grabs onto him. Guide claims he was trying to tell Foon to go back and go to sleep, but Peun isn't buying his line. Guide even starts to follow Peun and Foon until he sees Art glaring at him and decides discretion is the better part of valor.

If three is a crowd what are four?
Back at the cabin, when Peun puts Foon to bed she pulls him down with her and asks him to stay for a while. She's very drunk and she rambles a bit. She then kisses Peun before rolling onto her side and passing out. To say Peun is left frustrated is an understatement. Plus, entertaining for us but even more of an obstacle for Peun, when the camera pulls back for a wide shot we see that Chompoo and Prim are sleeping on different mattresses in the same room.

We then cut to a scene that is very odd to an American viewer. Peun is sitting on the beach, both worked up over the kiss and baffled by Foon's secrecy. Art joins him and, sensing Peun's conflicted mood, asks what's wrong. Peun just looks at him and then he slowly leans in as if he is going to kiss Art. He stops and Art asks him what the hell he was doing. Peun says he was seeing if he could kiss Art. Art is all "WTF?" while Art muses whether you can kiss somebody you have no feelings for.

Wait until Chompoo's Mom and Dad see these videos
The next morning we join Prim, Chompoo, Go and another Senior at breakfast. Chompoo is hungover and doesn't remember much  of the night before. So, it was her second time drinking and already she's blacking out, wonderful. Go and the other Senior are teasing Chompoo with the video they took of her last night, threatening to post it to the internet.

Foon eventually shows up. When she goes to the buffet to get her breakfast Guide arrives as well. He tries a bit of flirting with her, but that ends quickly when Peun and Art arrive and flank her. Again, one look at Art is enough to convince Guide to beat a hasty retreat. Foon is relieved to be rid of Guide and thanks the two.

On the bus as the head back the two boys are sitting together and Foon and Prim are also together. Chompoo is still wildly out of control and dancing in the aisle. Art is laughing over the number of embarrassing pictures he's taken of Chompoo to tease her with. Foon suggests he get closer to her to take more. When Art gets up to do that, Foon moves over to the seat next to Peun. After a bit of chit-chat she tells him she remembers last night. He asks her if she is sure that she remembers everything. She answers by kissing her finger tips and then touching them to Peun's lips.

Houston, we have a problem
Later Foon and her parents are in a restaurant having diner. Her Mom wants Foon to make some time next month because Mrs. Mam, who is the mother of the mysterious Ong-Art, called to say he's on summer break and Foon's Mom wants to get together with them. Foon tries to beg off, saying she may have to submit projects during the summer, but her Mom is adamant and points out that Ong-Art misses Foon and wants to see her. She also adds that Foon should give him a Skype call.

In Asian dramas families are a lot more involved in their children's romantic life, so Foon's Mom pushing Ong-Art is probably going to be a problem for her. I think we now see why she's being secretive with Peun -- she wants to keep that relationship hidden from her mom.

After a brief interlude in a pottery class Foon and Peun sneak off to go shopping together. Peun asks her why they are doing this secretly and Foon, as usual, doesn't give him a straight answer. They end up at a street vendor where they buy some food and have a good time being playful with each other.

Meanwhile the other kids are at the freshman workshop. This is a building loaned to them  in an earlier episode by the Female Drill Sargents. In a nice play off of Peun and Foon's secret date, Prim catches Art trying to secretly take a picture of her. She's amused by it and teases him while he's embarrassed and tries to tell her he was just randomly pointing his camera around.  

Chompoo is onto Foon and Peun
The kids at the freshman workshop decide to eat some lunch. Over a hotpot Chompoo tells Art and Prim she thinks that Foon and Peun are secretly seeing each other. Demonstrating that the word 'perceptive' should never be applied to either of them, Art and Prim are doubtful. Chompoo texts a picture of their lunch to Foon and Peun and invites them to lunch to establish that they are together.

Peun arrives first, when questioned by Chompoo he admits he was shopping with Foon. However, when she arrives she makes light of that fact, and further lies that the whole time they were together Peun was texting other girls. Peun is shocked and hurt by her continued denials over their relationship. Later he confronts her over them, and the episode ends with her giving no clear answer as to why or how long the deception needs to continue.


Thai University Hazing - I got curious over the hazing shown and searched Google for information about it. It is a month long freshman initiation to university life called rub-nong. It is based on the SOTUS system (Seniority, Order, Tradition, Unity, and Spirit) and it is intended to help incoming freshman make friends and adjust socially to school life.

Due to abuses it is surrounded by a certain amount of controversy. The show seems to take a very benign view of it. Aside from pushups, a lousy breakfast, embarrassing dances and a lot of screaming  there is little to the hazing as it is shown in O-Negative. In reality there is much more humiliation involved. There is an ongoing debate in Thailand over the practice. The Nation Thailand opinion piece Time to end hazing culture in universities is a good discussion of the SOTUS hazing issue.

[Episode 6]

Monday, April 13, 2020

Physical Culture

Click any image to enlarge
Physical Culture was a magazine about physical fitness and health that was first published in 1899 and continued until the 1950s. Its covers, which featured attractive and athletic models, were considered indecent by many. In 1909 an obscenity conviction it received was overturned by the Supreme Court.

Of course  by today's standards there is nothing scandalous to be seen. What is interesting are the articles teased on the covers. Some of the topics are antiquated, but many are the same type still pushed by health and beauty magazines.

These pictures, and those after the jump are from Magazine Art. There are more at that link. Also, Ball State University has a number of their issues archived. Their archive includes not only the covers, but the inside pages as well if you're interested in reading some old-timey health advice.