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The Doctor's Consultation

Agony Column

Camera Class by Snapshot

Life in the Laugh Lane

The Doctor's Consultation: Digging your grave with your teeth

by Dr. Iain Corness

It is often said by those who should know better, “You are what you eat.” This is of course, total nonsense. Do vegetarians turn into carrots? Obviously not. However, the shape you present to the outside world does depend upon what you eat.
Diets run the whole gamut of extremes from the Israeli Army diet where you eat nothing but bananas and sand, to others put forward by multi-level marketers where you drink three sachets of expensive powdered goop every day that promises to get the weight off you in one week. Or perhaps slightly longer, but just buy more sachets.
My favorite fat lady weighed 22 stone (150 kg give or take a little) and lived in Gibraltar. We had to use two scales to weigh her, standing there with one foot on each. When I suggested she could perhaps be eating a little too much, she replied “Me no como nada por dos annos.” (I have eaten nothing for two years.) If she were telling the truth, I shudder to think about what she weighed before!
I hear much from fat people about their “bad metabolism” and how lucky thin people are to have a “good metabolism”. Other than in a few spectacularly rare endocrine diseases, “bad metabolism” is not to blame for the shapes of 99.999 percent of fat people. Sorry to explode the myth. However, metabolism is involved in the fat cycle.
What you have to learn is simply “Input exactly equals Output, plus or minus what goes into store”. That goes for you, my fat lady in Gibraltar, the skinny kid on the street corner and even your dog.
It means that the energy source (food and drink) equals the energy output (physical and mental effort), plus or minus what is stored (or removed) from your body as fat. This equation is independent of whatever you call the energy, be that kilojoules or calories or sugarlumps.
In simple terms, if the Input and Output are the same - then your weight stays the same, as zero goes into or comes out of the storage fat. If the Input is greater than the Output, you have an excess and that goes into store and you put on weight. If the Input is less than the Output, then you are in a deficit, the body makes up the energy levels it needs by burning up fat from the store, so you lose weight. Honestly, it is that simple.
If you really want to lose weight, I present the well tried, proven and effective diet that I have modestly called the Dr. Corness 75 percent diet. (Others do this for their diets, why shouldn’t I do it for mine?) This diet is guaranteed, it will get the weight off, and keep it off and you do not have to count one calorie or kilojoule or sugarlump. If by following this diet you have not lost weight after four weeks, write to me and I will write back and tell you that you are a liar. That is my guarantee!
This simple diet works by decreasing your input by 25 percent. In other words you can have 75 percent of what you would normally eat and drink every day. If you have four cream buns a day, you can have three! If you eat a kilo of beef every night, you can have three quarters of a kilo. That’s right, you don’t need to deny yourself anything!
Of course, if you want to really ensure there is a deficit, you can always increase the Output at the same time. A daily walk that you didn’t do before, or even a walk around your office block at lunchtime all helps.
The only downside to this diet is that you will not see instant results, and you will feel hungry for a few days. The reason for this is that the storage fat has to chemically change into ‘energy’ fat before it can make up the deficit, and this takes a few days. Your body will not automatically do this either, until you are in the deficit situation. After a week you don’t notice it, and after a fortnight you will see the weight loss happening.

Agony Column

Dear Hillary,
Nothing’s changed: Woman of Bangkok is still the best book written about Thailand.
Jason Schoonover

Dear Jason,
My Petal! I’m blown away! Hillary gets a letter from a real author. A really famous author who has written Thai Gold and Opium Dream, both super-action novels! For those who missed the Hillary action over the past few weeks, there has been discussion that centered around the fact that newbies to Thailand should be forced to read some sort of manual before being allowed loose on the bars. One writer, Art, suggested the book “Woman of Bangkok” which had been recommended to him some years ago by Jason Schoonover, whilst I suggested Private Dancer by Stephen Leather. Jason Schoonover gets the last word, however (see above). Now the difficulty is finding a copy, as apparently it has been out of print for many years. Perhaps all the beer bars clubbed together and bought the entire stock and burned them? Or maybe even TAT? If anyone has a copy I will get our book reviewer Lang Reid to give it his critique. By the way, he enjoyed the Schoonover books which were reviewed three or four years ago.
Dear Hillary,
You have probably heard this hundreds of times and may be able to help me in this problem I have. On my last trip to Pattaya I fell in love with a most beautiful girl from a bar and against all the advice given by “old hands” I gave her money to set her up in a house, which had to be in her name as it could not be done in mine. I felt we had the makings of a perfect match and she was so attentive to me I could not believe my luck. I had to do everything quickly as I was only here for three weeks. At the first opportunity to return for a quick trip I went to surprise her and found out that she was living there with some German guy and had been for some time! Should I ask her to return the money? I feel totally cheated and I think it will be some time before I fall in love again, especially with a Thai girl.
Cheated Charlie

Dear Cheated Charlie,
You must really stop and take this opportunity to decide just who cheated who, here. You were here for three weeks and bought some girl you did not really know, a house? Is this reasonable behaviour? Is this rational behaviour? You threw your money away, my Petal. She did not rob you - you robbed yourself. Next time, think twice, or in your case, think two hundred times. Perhaps you might even listen to the old hands too. Sorry, Charlie, but you had it coming.
Dear Hillary,
I refuse to believe that there are guys so hopeless that they end up as sex slaves to these Thai bar girls. I live here with my Thai girlfriend who I met in a bar, so I know the way things really are. None of my mates have ended up this way. Sure they come over, enjoy themselves and go home with wonderful memories, but they’re not sending money back over here to the girls they met and stayed with on their holidays. No motorcycles or houses up country. That’s why I think these letters are made up.
Doubting Thomas

Dear Doubting Thomas,
Made up? Do you think I made up Jason Schoonover too, Petal? Come on, I’d get my bottom sued off if I did something like that. The sketch that you believe does not happen is unfortunately one that is true and happens every day. Your mates, as you call them, must be very well seasoned travelers not to get caught up with our local ladies, who can put life in a damp dishcloth. Or maybe they are just “Keeneow” (stingy). There is a complete economy out there that depends on people such as your mates, or my letter writers, even down to the chaps who write the begging letters for these girls. There are books available in the bars with sample letters for them to copy out. Better believe, Thomas, better believe.
Dear Hillary,
Why is the Thai govermint (sic) sensorring (sic) the movies on TV? They cut sexy bits out of the movies so much it is imposible (sic) to follow what is going on. They put stupid squares over cigarettes, but it is easy to see what it is, with smoke and all. They put the same thing over guns. Who are they fooling? Everybody knows so why bother? You know why, Hillary?
Not Fooled

Dear Not Fooled,
Hillary is not the one to ask, Petal. I agree that it is easy to see what is happening in the movie. Perhaps somebody’s relatives needed a job, so they were put in charge of popping pixels over pictures. Though I do believe in some censorship, it is a matter of degree. I am more upset by the language that is used in movies screened at peak times than I am in pretending the hero is not smoking or about to blow his brains out. However, when I read your letter and see all the spelling mistakes, perhaps you should spend more time with the books than you do in front of the TV set. Some books even have naughty bits! You never know your luck.

Camera Class:  Rita Hayworth and Fahreda Mahzar Spyropolos

by Harry Flashman

Was Rita Hayworth the first pin-up? The answer is a most emphatic no! The honor for this goes to Fahreda Mahzar Spyropolos. The redoubtable Miss Fahreda was the star of the Chicago Fair of 1893, where she showed her navel to a disbelieving public, amid outcries from assorted horrified clerics.
Miss Fahreda is also better remembered by her stage name of Little Egypt. In fact, her anatomical bits managed to change the fair from downright flop to financial success. That, and the calls for her to be shut down for her lewd antics, brought millions of people to the fair.
The media also knew that ‘sex sells’ even way back then. This was not something that Rupert Murdoch and his page 3 girls started, no matter how much the Murdoch publicity machine would have you think. The New York Police Gazette (now there’s a catchy title – sorry about the pun!) began publishing illustrated supplements of actresses and dancers in the 1890’s and even offered “cabinet-sized finished photographs” described as the snappiest of all girl pictures.
And then there was “Photo Bits” – an English magazine started in 1898, which became Photo Fun in 1908 to run double page pin-ups, copies of which could be purchased for nine pence (including postage) and were advertised as being suitable for billiard or smoking rooms.
However, it was the “feelthy postcards” that really brought the pin-up to pride of place on the locker room wall. It was the French who did all the running. Seeing the success of postcard pictures of the Eiffel Tower, enterprising photographers began in earnest that most noble of artistic pursuits - persuading young ladies to pose in their pink one-buttons.
In the years before WWI, the ideal females to parade in front of the photographer’s lens were big hunks of women with large bellies and legs that looked as if they would hold up billiard tables. Strong and well rounded, to say the least. However, although the modesty was starting to disappear, the neck to knee flesh coloured “tights” were still de rigeur for anything other than the true ‘nude study’ which was called ‘art’. A bit of chiffon and a rose was all that was needed to elevate the naughty nude to an artistic study, incidentally, both being props still in use today!
Burlesque shows were also getting racier, with some naked bosoms appearing at the Ziegfeld Follies and then some even more revealing strippers were making their way on to the stages. In their wake, pin-ups of the performers were sold at the intermission, but again they were very unrevealing. If you thought that these burlesque shows were just a minor part of life in those days, think again. As many as 15,000 applicants each year would come and parade before Florenz Ziegfeld hoping to become a part of the Ziegfeld Follies.
Times were a changing, as the song goes, and the world fairs produced their own little bits of public nudity, or apparent nudity. Similar to Little Egypt, forty years previously, the famous Sally Rand and her Fan Dance, excited the visitors to the 1933 Chicago Exposition, and she was very much photographed, but even those with a magnifying glass were foiled by her multitude of ostrich feathers. And as before, the shows brought the wrath of the clerics from their pulpits of purity.
By the mid ‘30’s the movie industry was in full swing with thousands of hopeful starlets, each ready to display a little more for the camera lens, in order to catch the eye of a producer. But even these pin-up shots were still undergoing censorship. Theda Bara, one of the stars of the day being photographed covered in pearls – but having no belly button! Navels were taboo. No wonder Little Egypt had been such a success! The burlesque girls even wore little umbilicus protectors, as well as nipple pasties and G strings.
The next earth shattering leap forward for the pin-up was in the form of yet another war (when will they ever learn, as Peter, Paul and Mary were to sing). WWII did bring the pin-ups for the soldier far from home, and the Americans did this well. This in turn produced Hugh Hefner and the centerfold, and the age of the ‘serious’ glamour photographers was upon us.

Life in the Laugh Lane: Seeing things another way: part two

by Scott Jones

It’s easy to hang out with blind folks because they don’t care how you look. You don’t have to worry if it’s a bad hair day or be self-conscious about the jumbo, glowing pimple on the end of your nose that’s ready to explode or if you accidentally put your T-shirt on inside out and strangers offer to give you a lift back to your nursing home.

Speed bumps: traffic signs for the blind.

Blind friend Tom had the perfect job: engineer at a radio station with a thousand knobs to turn and tweak the music for his sensitive ears and our average ones throughout the city. Born with a degenerate eye disease, he saw a bit of the world before he lost his vision. He called speed bumps in the road “traffic signs for the blind.” He wanted a seeing-eye giraffe so people would always know he’s coming and a seeing-eye zebra for formal black tie events. “When I’m mellow and lazy at home, I just use my seeing-eye garden slug. Sometimes I don’t want to attract attention and I’d like a seeing-eye wasp to clear the path in front of me. A seeing-eye elephant would be perfect for getting through crowds at a football game, but I couldn’t see with him sitting at my feet. Oh, I forgot. I’m blind. Once I had a seeing-eye snake, but it kept slithering out of the leash.” He’d never let me get away with any of my accidental language slips. I’d ask, “Are you seeing anyone?” He’d say, “No, I’ve never seen anyone. Are you mentally handicapped?” I’d say, “Look at it this way…” He’d say, “Sorry, I can’t even look at it my way.” I’d say, “Okay, see you later.” He’d say, “You lucky bastard.”
He came to my family’s country cabin, and I, being an obsessed water ski addict, demanded to be taken for a run. My friend Rob couldn’t swim and had never driven a speedboat, but hey, he could walk and drive a Vespa. The law requires someone in the back of the boat to keep an eye on the skier. Okay, fine. Blind Tom can be the placeholder! After a quick driving lesson, we’re speeding down the river; however, as is the norm in water-skiing, I fall and tread water as the boat disappears around the bend. Rob shouts, “How’s he doing?” Blind Tom shouts back, “He’s fine. I think I hear him.” A half hour later, Rob has figured out reverse and how to remove weeds strangling the prop, Tom has collapsed into hysterics and I’ve become a purple, wrinkled prune in the cold river. Great idea. I choose a non-swimming, not-driving pilot with a sightless spotter.
That night we decided to play croquet under the spotlight in the yard. Tom wanted to play and explained that he had severe tunnel-vision, and though legally blind, he could actually see a tiny speck of light in one eye, like looking down a long railway tunnel. It didn’t do him much good in everyday life, but somehow in the dark, he could focus on the white croquet hoop at the end of his tunnel. With a mallet doubling as his white cane, he won the game and never let us forget it. “So you guys can’t even beat a blind guy in croquet? I’ve got a mute friend you should debate.” We offered to get him a rental car so he could drive home himself.
On the way back we stopped at a huge filling station, store, and restaurant complex. It was a vivid lesson for me to guide Tom across the busy parking lot, through double doors, down aisles, around corners, locate the men’s room, negotiate more doors, then sidle up to dirty urinals and washbasins. It’s hard enough to do that with 20-20 vision, let alone with 0-0. I didn’t want to touch anything in that toilet.
Of course Tom had a story for the occasion. “When I flew to Dallas, I said to the person next to me, “Boy, these seats are big.” He said, “Everything’s big in Texas.” At the hotel I ordered a mug of beer and told the bartender, “Wow, this is a big glass!” He said, “Everything’s big in Texas.” I went to find the bathroom, walked through the wrong door and fell into the swimming pool. I screamed, “Don’t flush! Don’t flush!”