Vol. VI No. 37 - Tuesday
November 6, - November 12, 2007



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by Saichon Paewsoongnern


Columns
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

The Doctor's Consultation

Agony Column

Camera Class by Snapshot

Money Matters

Life in Chiang Mai

Let's Go To The Movies

Life in the laugh lane

The Doctor's Consultation:  by Dr. Iain Corness

Insomnia - Is it a problem you can sleep on?

Did you have a bad night? How many sheep did you count last night? If it were more than one thousand you may have a problem. If you do have a problem, then you also have plenty of friends, as the latest reports would suggest that 30 percent of the population over 40 years old suffers from insomnia, with males slightly more than females. Maybe the answer is in ringing each other up.
Medically we tend to split insomnia into two groups - Primary or Secondary. Primary insomnia we say is when you have a problem getting off to sleep, or for at least one month a problem in maintaining sleep. On top of that, the insomnia has to cause clinically significant problems in daily social and occupational functioning.
Secondary insomnia, as the name suggests, comes after other problems such as anxiety or depression, drug use (both prescribed and illicit) or related to other disease states. This group includes all us males over 40 who have to get up for a pee in the middle of the night. Your prostate is waiting to get you! Sometimes these people do not complain of insomnia, but rather of daytime sleepiness and fatigue.
There are those who will tell you that insomnia is a self-limiting problem. So what if you have a bad night tonight, you will be so tired tomorrow that you will sleep well and the day after you will be hunky-dory again. However, this is not really the true picture. For the occasional night, perhaps yes, but when talking about real insomnia, with a duration of greater than one month, a very different picture begins to emerge. Insomniacs with symptoms of greater than one year, for example, have 40 times the chance of being depressed. That’s enough to make you depressed and lose sleep over it, on its own! Insomniacs also have more road accidents, go to the doctor more often, take more alcohol and are definitely sleepier in the daytime, with a decreased mental performance.
So what should you do about this problem? Well, if it is a Secondary insomnia, the obvious thing is to do something about the problem causing the insomnia. A general check-up is a good place to start, with specific treatment for primary factors like liver disease, depression and anxiety. And a prostate check is probably not a bad idea either. The PSA test is good for determining the size of the prostate gland.
For Primary insomnia there are many behavioral therapies that can be tried. Relaxation therapy, using progressive muscle relaxation techniques, practiced for two to four weeks can often break the insomnia cycle. Restrict your “bed” time to six hours a night only. Do this by prolonging the amount of time you stay up, not by getting up earlier. It may also be necessary to review some irrational fears about insomnia, such as the idea that you “must have eight hours of sleep every night” which is not correct. This is called ‘cognitive therapy’.
But of course, there are those who still have problems. Now is the time for pharmacological intervention, but done under medical supervision. Even in Thailand, with much available over the counter (OTC), hypnotics are not OTC and should only be taken as the last resort.
Finally, here are a few good sleeping hints. No coffee or alcohol just before going to bed. Forget the glass of port before retiral. Put aside some time to go over nagging problems before you go to bed. Don’t take your troubles to the bedroom. That includes matrimonial disputes. Don’t sit in bed to watch TV or read books, do that elsewhere - keep the bedroom for sleeping. Your daily exercise should be done in the morning, not at night. And don’t make it a habit to sleep in - set an alarm and get up at the same time every morning.

 

Heart to Heart  with Hillary

Dear Hillary,
I think you dismissed Bookworm a bit quickly, Petal, and he wasn’t even asking for advice in matters of love and its imitations. Surely there’s a market for Hillary Anthologies. At least, enough of a market for you to buy a bottle of bubbly with your royalties. (One bottle?) Re-reading some of the letters from all the troubled souls probably would make you cry yourself to sleep again. So don’t. That’s what your editor’s for. Just sign the galley without reading it, then sign the checks as (if?) they come in. That’s what I always do.
Calico
Dear Calico,
You sound like a very nice man, but “sign the galley (proof)”? What era are you in? Galley proofs? I haven’t seen one of those since little Johnny Rasmussen used to write me love letters on the back of them way back in the days of the linotype machines. Now weren’t they a thing or two. I’m sure we could share more than one bottle of bubbly (you’re paying) with reminiscences over those days, Petal.
I also don’t understand “sign the checks”? The checks should be coming to me, already signed so I can actually start a bank account, rather than keeping the small silver coins under my pillow. By the way, have you seen the new two baht coins, lovely feel to them. But I’m hoping to collect 10 of them so I can get one of those 20 baht notes. I’m sorry Calico, but if I did an anthology, I would expect the money to be coming in, not going out!

Dear Hillary,
Hark at the pot calling the kettle black! In friday (sic) 12th’s paper, you slate poor old Andy the budding brain surgeon for not being able to spell, then on the same page you answer Harry the Holidaymaker and spell buses incorrectly - twice. Buses has only two s’s, not three (busses)...
Harleycharley
Dear Harleycharley,
Just be a little careful, Harleycharley old chum, and check your facts before rushing into print with your six-shooters blazing. Any half way decent dictionary will indicate that the plural of bus is “buses” or “busses”. The same half way decent dictionary will also indicate that the days of the week have capital letters to start the word, so the day you were striving for was actually “Friday”. However, if you ride a Harley, I will forgive you. Or should that be a “harley”?

Dear Hillary,
I suffer from a ‘windy bottom’ if you’ll excuse the directness of my query to you. In the private confines of my own salon at home, this does not produce a problem, but at the office with the usual loo under the stairs, and the staff all queuing up after elevenses, it becomes very embarrassing. The office girls are already looking askance at me, and some have even begun spraying air-fresh after my visit. Have you any suggestions that can help?
Windy
Dear Windy,
The answer to your melodious but malodorous problem is not easy, my Petunia. It sounds (if you’ll excuse the pun) like you may have to take evasive rather than evacuative action here. Where is the closest large hotel relative to your office? When in desperation, Hillary has always found that by striding purposely through the foyer of the nearest hotel and heading towards the far right corner you will usually find a toilet. Whilst not in the privacy of your own ‘salon’ as you so nicely put it, at least no-one knows who is playing the bugle in the next stall. As far as a long term ‘cure’ is concerned, this is well out of my territory, but I would recommend you find a copy of the book Le Petomane (long out of print, so try Amazon dot com) as the author had the same problem as you, but used it to his advantage to make a large amount of money. He is quoted as having farted his way to a fortune, so there is a noisy future ahead for you, my Petal. You will need to have some satin shorts made with allowance made for exhaust gas escape, but the book has the description you need.

Dear Hillary,
The other night in the bar we had a discussion whether Thai females are romantic. I say that they are, but my drinking buddies all say not. They said that all they are interested in are large amounts of gold, and the larger the better. Surely there are still some gals out there who appreciate roses and chocolates (apart from you, Hillary)? I need you to back me up here, Hillary.
Robert de Roses
Dear Robert de Roses,
Such a lovely name, especially if said in the French way, “Roberr de Rose”. Of course there are romantic ladies left in Thailand, other than myself. It sounds to me as if your drinking buddies are looking for ladies from the wrong watering holes. The professional ladies who come to the surface with the buffalos in tow are certainly only looking for gold. That is their business, their profession (and an old one at that). However, by looking in the universities, offices and even department stores, you will find ladies who appreciate being appreciated. You are correct, Robert. Your friends are taking too narrow a sample to base their findings.


Camera Class:  by Harry Flashman

The ultimate photo-kitsch

An open letter from Harry Flashman.
Dear photographers,
There are many ways that photographers try to get their human subjects to look good. A smile is considered the sign of enjoyment, and you will often see the erstwhile photographer attempting to coax a smile from an unwilling subject. “Say cheese,” is the favorite, as in saying the cheese word, the teeth are shown. Something close to a cheesy smile, I suppose. Others photographers who are more risqué will be heard saying “Say sex!” This usually gets a laugh, rather than a smile, but at least gets some emotion from a wooden subject.
However, for the photographer who cannot take defeat in the smiling stakes, Sony has just the cameras for you. Theses little beauties, the DSC-T70 and DSC-T200 Cyber-shot series, feature some electro-trickery called ‘face detection technology’. This is otherwise known in the trade as ‘smile shutter’ technology.
What this does is ensures that the subject is smiling before the shot can be taken. The ‘smarts’ in the camera look for teeth, find them and allows the shutter to fire. No teeth – no photo!
Sony’s smile technology joins Japan’s Omron Corp, which developed “smile check” software that analyses happiness by facial features like mouth and eye wrinkles or lip separation. The so-called “Say Cheese” technology has three setting levels for smiles; it varies from a slight grin to a belly laugh.
In the US, where DSC-T70 and DSC-T200 Cyber-shot series are soon to be available, they will retail from $350 upwards. It has been claimed that Sony may have lost its lead to others in audio mp3 players, but in digital cameras they still reign supreme with innovative cameras and advanced features. The 8 Megapixel cameras DSC-T70 and DSC-T200 Cyber-shot models are the results of such innovation, we are led to believe. Or Sony wants us to believe.
Another innovative feature in the camera is it can focus on an individual from a handful of people in the view finder. By touching the object with the special pen, the camera will be able to focus and take the picture of that designated person only.
Sony Product Development’s Akira Tokuse said if there are parents and a baby in a group picture, by touching on the image of the baby, the camera will focus and will only take the picture once it smiles. Tokuse-San did not elaborate as to what the camera might do if the baby cries!
For me, this is all a very worrying trend. We are certainly getting far away from ‘true’ photography. If you want to take a dramatic black and white of someone sitting on a cliff looking out over the ocean in contemplation, don’t bring your DSC-T70. It won’t take it, because the subject isn’t smiling. Sony says it stops you wasting a shot. Baloney! How can you ‘waste’ a shot in the digital age? So you’ve just used up part of the memory stick, but you can delete and overwrite before the next shot. That is one of the inherent advantages of digital photography.
Of course the next step after “smile technology” is “beauty technology”. If the subject isn’t looking beautiful, the camera won’t take the shot. That should certainly cut down on wasted shots.
But the next, and even more frightening step, is that the electronic smarts will produce a smile for you. Don’t worry if the subject is scowling, this will be manipulated into a toothy grin.
And the step after that is that the camera will modify the entire image. Yes, it will automatically give all females a Pamela Anderson chest, wavy long blonde hair, luxurious eyelashes and high cheekbones, remove several kilos of excess weight and a little bit of an electronic face lift at the same time, using the additional ‘anti-wrinkle’ mode.
Fellow photographers, this has gone too far. Can we try and get back to real life, despite the digital capture of the images? I really hope so.
Sincerely,
Harry


Money Matters:  Paul Gambles MBMG International Ltd.

A Fund to Follow - part 1

Forgive us for sounding like a broken record, but: economic uncertainty; potential disaster; markets fall off a cliff; how to make money now but not lose it when it all goes wrong; long/short equity; which mangers stand out?
Whilst we are ardent followers of MitonOptimal, we do recognise class when we see it. One relatively new fund to consider is the Turnstone European Fund, which is managed by Amanda McCracken who has been managing funds for MBMG since the last century.
The investment objective of this fund is to achieve positive absolute returns, uncorrelated with equity markets, while protecting against downside volatility. One of the strategies that Amanda uses is the Long/Short approach. What are Long/Short Funds? These are funds that combine long equity holdings and the short sale of stocks along with other instruments to vary their net exposures depending on their views on the market. The funds tend to increase their exposures in bull market periods and decrease them when they feel that the markets will be in decline. By varying exposures in this fashion, long/short managers have a valuable tool to control their participation in directional market movements.
The long side of the portfolios is constructed from stocks that are expected to outperform the market. These stocks will most likely have strong fundamentals with a good market position, an attractive rate of earning growth and offer a high return on equity.
An example of a long trade would be Google, the market leader in internet search engines. Google was floated with a price of $85 per share after a controversial auction mechanism that set the flotation price. From a fundamental point of view, the company had a promising valuation with high margins, strong, 3-digit rates of sales growth and an above-30% return on equity. At the end of the first day of trading, Google shares were in the region of $100 per share; indicating that the market was pricing in their expectations.
A long/short manager, who could not participate in the IPO, having a bullish view on Google could have invested $500,000 in the stock on the following day at a price of $100.33 and could have closed his position just over two months later at the price of $187.56. This would have been a perfect trade for the manager’s long side of his portfolio, realising a profit around $434,000. This would constitute a return of nearly 100% in three months.
On the other hand, the short side of a manager’s portfolio particularly focuses on the stocks that he maintains a bullish view on. These short ideas originate from flawed business models, poor balance sheets, and/or expected/emerging litigation cases acting as negative catalysts.
The negative exposure obtained through taking short positions serves two different purposes. First of all, the shorted individual stocks identified through deteriorating fundamentals create an opportunity to provide additional returns when the markets maintain their bullish sentiment. Secondly, when there is a general downturn, these short positions in their entirety will act as a hedge to offset the losses incurred by the long side of the portfolio.
The short positions are obtained through “borrowing” the stock. The manager borrows the stock from its broker at an agreed price and then places a sell order to liquidate it. Putting it more simply, the manager sells a stock that it does not own. In closing his short position, if the manager could buy the stock from the market at a lower price than the price the broker agreed to lend in the first place, he will make a profit.
A short trade could be demonstrated using Microsoft Corporation back in March 2004. Although Microsoft is a giant software company that dominates its industry, the bearish sentiment was sparked by a negative catalyst. The markets started pricing in the news emerging from the European Competition Commissioner who completed a draft of his decision in the EU’s antitrust probe against Microsoft Corporation. The expectations were that a negative decision would lead to having the world’s largest software maker fined as much as €500 million, a figure around 2% of the company’s annual sales.
A long/short manager, picking up this negative catalyst, taking a short position by short selling the Microsoft Corporation for an average price of $28.50 a share from the 23rd to the 26th of January, could have closed his short position by buying shares from the markets on the 23rd of March at a low of $24.15 a share to deliver them back to their broker. This would have led to an 18% profit over 2 months, during a period when the overall direction of the markets was negative, with the S&P500 index registering a loss of 5.4% for the same period.
If used wisely, the ability to sell short provides managers with a great tool to control the market risk that they are exposed to. Successful long/short managers have been able to deliver double digit absolute returns over the tough times of 2001 and 2002 by controlling their market exposure. Coupled with such hedging abilities, the inherent ability to use leverage gives long/short managers the upper edge compared to the traditional long only managers.
Managers may also use leverage in order to have higher exposure to both long and short positions in order to enhance returns. For instance, the manager above could have taken short exposure to Microsoft to the extent of 100% of the amount of his portfolio and long exposure to Google to the extent of 200% of his portfolio. This would have created a 100% net long position (the same as a traditional fund in terms of delta risk) BUT the return would have been over 210% instead of just under 100% for the same level of risk.
In reality many long short funds would actually try to achieve the same level of returns as the traditional fund (in this case just under 100%) but look to reduce risk (in this case the risk taken by the long short fund that achieves the same return as the traditional fund, would have only been around 47% of the risk taken by the traditional fund). Long short, even in this basic example allows you to take the same risk and more than double your returns OR achieve the same return but at less than half the amount of risk.
To be continued…
 

The above data and research was compiled from sources believed to be reliable. However, neither MBMG International Ltd nor its officers can accept any liability for any errors or omissions in the above article nor bear any responsibility for any losses achieved as a result of any actions taken or not taken as a consequence of reading the above article. For more information please contact Paul Gambles on [email protected]


Life in Chiang Mai: by Mark Whitman

Recently, I mentioned a trip to Sri Lanka and southern India, but I planned it to make sure I was back in Chiang Mai in time for the EU Film Festival, which will make its annual pilgrimage via Bangkok to this city, starting on Thursday the 8th of November. No doubt by fellow film fanatic, the other Mark, will offer you well researched guidance to the films (see page 20). Even so, a couple of comments from me might help encourage you to take a chance on films that might be unfamiliar to you (as most are to me).
If previous years are anything to go by the standard will be high and more than worth a few baht and a couple of hours a day at the Vista Cinema at Central Kad Suan Kaew.
The films come with good credentials, including Oscars and Festival prizes and are offered with English sub-titles so that you need not be conversant with the dozen languages represented, from Finnish to Greek and German to Portuguese. Some may have Thai sub-titles as last year. Sadly two major works will not be coming up from the capital but we can only hope that they will get commercial exposure as one is by the astonishing Hungarian director Bela Tarr and the other from Romania was awarded the Palme d’Or at Cannes last year.
The opening movie is a drama from Portugal, The Murmuring Coast, made in 2005. It is set in the heady days of the late 1960s during the war of Independence before the overthrow of the Salazar dictatorship.
By chance the closing night offers a savage portrait of another dictator, the Ugandan butcher Idi Amin. Called The Last King of Scotland, it is undoubtedly a highlight of the Festival and contains a mesmerizing performance by Forest Whitaker, who won an Oscar as best actor for the role of a lifetime. The story is seen through the eyes of a Scottish doctor who got sucked into the unenviable job as the madman’s personal physician and witnessed many of the horrors of the period before escaping. This British movie is occasionally very graphic and disturbing to watch but never less than gripping.
Between those films you may enjoy comedy drama from Spain, a fascinating documentary from Germany and the highly regarded and moving Antonia’s Line from the Netherlands. Also three movies concerned with childhood. The Queen of Sheba’s Pearls (Sweden), Little Secrets (Luxembourg) and Mother of Mine (Finland). I have a personal notion that the French film Demented will prove of special interest.
So check out further details in the film column and sample as many of the varied films as your diary will allow. I hope to see or re-see them all.
Three weeks ago I commented on the terrible trade in Burmese rubies and the 750 million dollars they have yielded for that regime and its generals. Gems dug out by slave labor that are meagerly fed and given drugs, including heroin, to keep them going. In a few days time there is to be a three day auction of these blood tinged, blood red stones to help prop up their failing economy.
Let’s hope that potential buyers stay away and that the price falls. After all there must be many other precious and semi-precious stones on the market that come from reputable sources.
I was thinking of these things and of the pain endured by their imprisoned victims at the dentist the other day. As those skilled dental surgeons went about their work, made less painful for me by soothing gels and numbing injections I thought during that unpleasant hour just what it would have been like if their intention had been to inflict pain. For me the worst of it was paying the bill. Perhaps we do not appreciate how lucky we are.
And finally a word of praise for the Immigration office, located just past the Chiang Mai International Airport. A while ago I bemoaned the rather officious attitude of some of the staff there. Returning in late October I was perhaps lucky in finding three really helpful officers.
Of course things took a little too long for an impatient farang but they all seemed efficient and helpful. Was it because two of them were female and only one was in uniform? What is it about a man in uniform that seems to puff them up so that they fill it out with self-importance? But even the guy this time was courteous, if a little stern as though he was doing everybody a favor rather than providing a service. A service with a smile in most cases, and why not? It’s one of the things that the Kingdom is most famous for. Still I do not know one visitor or resident who does not feel that the immigration rules are too unyielding and heavy handed. Sure rules have to be made and enforced but it seems that Thailand is often less than welcoming to the tourists, long term visitors and businessmen who are part of its lifeblood. A knowledgeable solicitor told me only recently that the excuse given was ‘national security’. No, she did not understand it either.


Let's Go To The Movies: Mark Gernpy

Now playing in Chiang Mai
Surf’s Up: US Animation – A laid back, visually stunning animated movie presented in a witty mockumentary format, complete with virtual crew and “handheld” cameras. Splendid CGI effects. I think it’s an absolute charmer – see it!
Captivity: US/Russia Crime/Thriller – A fashion model is kidnapped and held prisoner by a serial killer, who methodically and imaginatively terrorizes her. This female degradation torture-porn fantasy is a thoroughly nasty piece of work, in my opinion. I saw all of it – now you don’t have to. Gorehounds, however, will delight in the sight of much blood and acid-scarred flesh, and aficionados will savor the scene in which the tortured lady is forced to drink a cocktail of pureed eyeballs and entrails. Rated R in the US for strong violence, torture, pervasive terror, grisly images, language, and some sexual material. The original posters and billboards in the Los Angeles area were so grisly and caused so much outrage that they had to be removed. They’re on display at Major Cineplex, and they should be ashamed of themselves. Generally negative reviews. Enough to give torture porn a bad name.
Fighting Beat (Aok 3 Sork 2): Thai Action – The story is about a young boxer who makes his living fighting in rigged bouts for tourists on Koh Phi Phi. Eventually, the ancient disciplines of “Fighting Beat” Thai boxing (quick, reactive, fierce, and deadly) come face to face with the modern day adapted form of Thai kickboxing. Director: Piti Jaturaphat.
Opapatika: Thai Action/Fantasy – A murky, muddled supernatural action film revolving around the Opapatika, born fully formed as spirits, demons, or angels – and some few as humans.
Balls of Fury: US Low Comedy – The film just doesn’t have enough laughs. It’s too bad, because the potential was certainly there. The film boasts some fantastic performers, but here they are only amusing. I also was not enamored of the putative star of the movie, Dan Fogler. I thought him peculiarly lacking in talent or charisma; perhaps it’s just me. But I like Christopher Walken, and enjoy his inimitable delivery of dialogue. I just wish everything were better! Generally negative reviews.
Stardust: UK/US Adventure/Fantasy – Robert De Niro is a flying pirate who dances and tries to outdo Johnny Depp – a performance not to be missed! It’s a delightful fairy tale for everyone, funny and romantic, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It has enough visual razzle-dazzle, humor, and well-drawn performances to create a lively, fantastical experience. Michelle Pfeiffer in particular gives a wild, wicked portrayal as the witchiest of the three witches. Not at all just for kids. Highly recommended for people who enjoyed Pirates of the Caribbean and the like. Generally favorable reviews.
The Kingdom: US Drama/Thriller – Jamie Foxx. Terrorism against the US inside Saudi Arabia, and the FBI tries to export its finesse in fighting terror to a foreign land. Good, quite exciting, muddy politics. Rated R in the US for intense sequences of graphic brutal violence, and for language. Mixed or average reviews.
Black Family (Krobkrua Tua): Thai Ultra-low Comedy – Thai family robs bank to save farm. Quite popular.
Body #19 (Body Sop 19): Thai Thriller/Horror – Man gets some clues in his nightmares that lead him to morgue drawer #19, and to gradually unraveling the mystery of the dead body inside. A first-time effort by director Paween Purijitpanya that is mostly standard Thai horror with some interesting twists, slow, sometimes beautifully shot, usually with excellent camera work, and which has some nice evocations of mood. A director, I think, to watch.
Unlimited Love (Rak Mai Jam): Thai Romance/Drama – Boy loves girl. Girl dies. Girl comes back as boy. Boy is conflicted.
The Reef (Shark Bait): US Animation – “Absolute carp.” Thai dubbed version only, and only at Airport Plaza. See Surf’s Up instead.
Scheduled for Thursday, November 8
Lions for Lambs: US Drama/War – A thoughtful, deeply committed film by Robert Redford dealing with the heaviest issues of our time, with no punches pulled. With Redford, Tom Cruise, and Meryl Streep. A plea for Americans to get engaged. Rated R in the US for some war violence and language.
Spiritual World: Thai Horror – A girl is able to see ghosts and contact the dead, and tries to escape from a mysterious ghost that keeps following her.


Life in the laugh lane: by Scott Jones

The jokes on us musicians

BOYCOTT THE INTERNET! Because of de-grading, politically incorrect material I received from someone who found it somewhere on the Web, I’m asking the known world to boycott the Internet im-mediately. This information, although it may be true, especially concerning a clarinetist (which I was in the past), is damaging to musicians everywhere. I assume this raft of insults came from a bank manager or dis-gruntled father, since musicians are generally loved throughout the world, until they walk into a bank or try to date your daughter.
My father was a splendid musician and encour-aged me heartily, though I probably should have lis-tened to my mother. “Mom, I want to grow up and be a musician!” She replied, “Love, you can’t do both.” Me: “But I’ll study music in college!” Mom: “Another term for music major is night manager at a 7/11.” They couldn’t keep me away from the piano, even when they moved it into the basement. My fa-ther didn’t want me playing with myself all day, so he suggested I learn the clarinet in 7th grade and join the band. At that time I was overweight, had braces on my teeth filled with red gel so they wouldn’t lacerate my lips, used greasy Brylcream, which glued my hair down to my scalp, rendering it absolutely immovable even in a wind tunnel, and wore glasses that made me look like an insect. The clarinet sealed my doom as the quintessential nerd. The insensitive Internet says: “Why do people have an instant aversion to clarinetists?” (It saves time in the long run.) “What do clarinet players use for birth control?” (Their per-sonalities.) “Why are a clarinetist and a blind javelin thrower alike?” (They both instill fear and panic, causing everyone to move out of range.) “How do you get a clarinet player out of a tree?” (Cut the rope.)
After a few years, I learned that, during the entire history of the world, not one gorgeous high school girl has ever swooned and snuggled up to a geek as he squawked romantic hits on his clarinet. I switched to the guitar, and though an aspiring folksinger may attract a few women, he does not impress the parents. Nasty Internet says: “What’s the difference between a folksinger and a pizza?” (A pizza can feed a family of four.) “What do you do when you run over a folk guitarist?” (Back up.) “What do you call a folk guitarist who broke up with his girlfriend? (Homeless.) It’s pretty much the same info regarding trombone players: “How do you decrease wind drag on a trombonist’s car?” (Take the Domino’s pizza sign off his roof.) What’s the difference between a dead chicken and a dead trombonist in the road?” (It’s possible the chicken was on its way to a paying gig.) “How many trombonists does it take to pave a driveway?” (Seventeen, if you lay them side-by-side.)
The keyboard finally became my focus because I couldn’t set a beer on my guitar while performing, and thanks to progress in music technology, I can now play all the sounds of an orchestra or a rock band on my keyboard, without actually having to be a trombonist or carry a clarinet. “Why do clarinetists put their instrument cases on the dashboard? (So they can park in handicapped zones.)
Though the Internet makes little mention of keyboardists, it is particularly brutal concerning drummers and bass players. “What do you call a beautiful woman on a drummer’s arm?” (A tattoo.) “What did the drummer get on his IQ test?” (Saliva.) “How can you tell if the stage is level? (The drummer’s drool comes out of both sides of his mouth.) “What do you do if you see a bloody bassist running through your backyard?” (Laugh and shoot again.) “What’s the perfect weight of a bass player? (One kilo, including the urn.) “What do you do if a bass player is drowning? (Throw him his amp.)
Since 99% of all people in Thailand play the guitar, sing ancient John Denver songs and probably have the same problems I did, I imagine that this advice (from me, not the Internet) applies for musicians here as well. “If you see a bank manager and a disgruntled father lying in the road, who do you run over first?” (The bank manager: business before pleasure.)



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