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Phuket Books: Madness in Miami

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Books: Madness in Miami | The Thaiger

PHUKET: After a career of nearly 20 years as a demented humor columnist for the Miami Herald, Dave Barry has turned to writing comic novels. Insane City (CP Putnam’s Sons, New York, 2013, 341pp) is his third. He dedicates it to “the people of this truly insane city of Miami, for making this book easy. Without you, this book wouldn’t exist; any errors in it are strictly your fault.”

Seth Weinstein is a schlub with a dead-end job who has lucked into a marriage engagement with the beautiful and idealistic Tina Clark. Her fabulously wealthy parents “viewed Seth as unworthy to house-sit their pets, let alone marry their daughter”. Why does she love him?

“You make me laugh.”

“So does Danny DeVito.”

“Yes, but he’s taken.”

Tina and her mother have been preparing for a year for her perfect wedding in Miami. Flying down from Washington two days before are the Groom Posse – Seth and his three loser friends. No sooner are they out of the Miami Airport they are chugging margarita pitchers at an outdoor bar presided over by DJ Boonga Wooga and his coffin-sized speakers. They are joined by Cyndi Gonzalez “who had finished fourth in the ‘Miss Hot Amateur Bod competition’ and who was wearing a dress made from roughly one square inch of some extremely stretchy material” and her friend Duane, a large bald man draped with “an eleven-foot Burmese albino python named Blossom”.

Welcome to Miami.

Seth gets drunk and curls up asleep under the bar only to awake to find his friends gone. He takes a cab, with the assistance of Cyndi and Duane, to his reserved suite at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel on Key Biscayne. Only then does he realize that he’s left his suitcase back at the bar. Inside the suitcase is Tina’s priceless diamond wedding ring. Duane is dispatched to retrieve the suitcase.

Seth and Cyndi find the suite already occupied by a giant African-America stripper named LeDawne who wants her $200 fee. Seth calls his ‘Groom Posse’ who are stranded penniless outside a Russian clip joint. Seth wanders off to find an ATM machine, collapses on the beach and wakes up in time to rescue from drowning Laurette, a Haitian refugee, along with her toddler son and infant daughter. He takes the trio up to his suite where he meets Wilson, LeDawne’s even bigger boyfriend, who, for a fee, lends Seth his Cadillac Escalade so that he can pick up his posse and his parents at the airport. The doddering Sid and Rose Weinstein are waiting with their suitcases “in a violently pink hue, like large radioactive wads of bubble gum, purchased from Sears during the Carter Administration”. Inside is a healthy supply of medical marijuana brownies sent by their daughter in California.

Duane, meanwhile, has picked up Seth’s suitcase but has been called away on a medical emergency involving another python and has left the suitcase under a tarpaulin at a private zoo in the Everglades known as Primate Encounter. Cyndi and Seth leave the hotel again to fetch the suitcase but there’s another complication: a 250-pound orangutan named Trevor. He has pulled the tarpaulin and suitcase into his cage. Ripping apart the suitcase, he finds the wedding ring and decides he likes the smell of it.

Meanwhile, back at the Ritz Carlton, the guests at the wedding rehearsal dinner run amok on the medical brownies. Laurette and her two children are kidnapped by two goons employed by Tina’s father, Brewer and Castronovo, known as “the Tinker Bells, in recognition of the magical power they had to enable people to fly, at least for brief periods”. Tina, while officially an idealist about illegal immigrants, doesn’t want them around to spoil her wedding.

Seth and Cyndi don’t know this as they set out for Primate Encounters and their horrific meeting with Trevor. This sets the stage for a wild car and boat chase through Miami and environs involving an apparent armed robbery of a 7-Eleven and an ape assault upon three security guards and the nose of Brewer.

Like a cherry atop this tall whipped cream of a novel, there is a surprise ending.

Dave Barry’s novel, ‘Insane City’ is available for the kindle from Amazon priced at US$11.99 by clicking here, or by order through all good bookshops in Phuket.

— James Eckardt

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Entertainment

BTS launch their new album on April 12, appear on Saturday Night Live the next day. Why this matters.

The Thaiger & The Nation

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BTS launch their new album on April 12, appear on Saturday Night Live the next day. Why this matters. | The Thaiger

The music business is about to have another one of those seismic shifts in the next month as the power of the music business continues to dribble away from western record company influences to a more democratic, social media-driven, business model.

In the past two years, mainly, a small South Korean production house has re-tooled the massive world music business (and it is, first and foremost a ‘business’) with one product.

Bangtan Sonyeondan, better know around the world simply as BTS.

The seven members of the K-Pop phenomenon (and the word phenomenon is aptly applied in this case) actually debuted in 2013 after forming originally in 2011, but they’re hardly an overnight success with real struggles threatening their success along the way. The BTS that writes, produces and performs in 2019 is a slick, highly professional performance and business unit that has, mostly by design, completely rejigged the fatally-wounded ‘old’ music business model. From a try-hard hip hop band to world-class music artists is a fascinating journey in the annals of the modern music business.

Also consider they’ve done this singing, mostly, in Korean.

Whilst the record companies continue to roll out the ‘oldies’ with another Greatest Hits compilation, or interpret their 70s and 80s heroes on the big screen (another guarantee to boost flagging music sales and downloads), there is some light at the end of the music tunnel which gives us hope of some great tunes ahead.

From first impressions the septet of BTS are just another fresh-faced boyband with catchy hooks, hair tosses and screaming fans – we’ve seen it all before, right? Except that they’re South Korean in a white-washed music world.

But behind the facade is some raw talent, a highly skilled back-room and the use of social media as a jack-hammer, not just a tool. After charting two of their albums at #1 in the Billboard Hot 200 last year, a first for a Korean band, appearances on the American Music Awards, the Grammies, Ellen, all the popular Tonight Shows, the front cover of TIME and a series of sell-out concerts around the US, the seven young men are about to take the next big step, and it will be big.

Days after BTS announcing their forthcoming Map of the Soul: Persona album coming April 12, they also announced they are appearing on SNL, Saturday Night Live, (NOT Donald Trump’s favorite TV show) the day after.

Saturday Night Live announced that BTS will make their musical debut with Emma Stone, a self-declared K-pop fan, on the April 13 episode.

SNL is a highly coveted stage for any performer and has the ability to bring an artist to new heights of their career. A pre-fame Adele performing in a 2008 episode went on to the highest-rated episode in 14 years and sent her 19 album to new highs on the charts.

BTS, although still in their early to mid-20s, are already seasoned live and television performers. There would be more BTS live YouTube clips on the net than any other performer, period. They know the performance craft and how to play an audience. The sales of their music speaks for itself, their YouTube click numbers are astonishing. Type ‘BTS’ into Google and you get 490,000,000 results!

BTS launch their new album on April 12, appear on Saturday Night Live the next day. Why this matters. | News by The Thaiger

And that’s part of the magic formula that separates them from just about every previous band. Whilst using social media is nothing new, BTS has amassed an enormous world-wide audience of music downloaders, ticket and merchandise buyers and sheer screaming hordes beyond anything previously attainable. And there’s a lot more to come as the fan base spreads out of Asia into the rest of the world.

Of course it’s easy to say the band came along at the right time, given the rise and rise in social media’s impact on our lives. But they’ve been first band to really harness the power in ways most other bands never even thought about.

Their fanbase is called ‘Army’, an appropriate name given the onslaught on music fandom around the globe. That the enormous fanbase started in Asia and is spreading westward is something we’ve not seen before.

BTS also deliver a different message aimed squarely at their peers and not with the same gloss and sheen of most other K-Pop. It’s sometimes raw, always relevant, reflecting their own battles and scars as young people growing up in a complex world. They cry, they share their fears, they argue on their videos, they’re humble – it’s very different.

The BTS-on-SNL program will be, easily, the biggest audience the show will EVER have, not by a little, by a LOT. That’s quite an easy prediction given BTS’s chart history, their YouTube viewer numbers, their growing appeal and the sell-out concerts, around the world.

For a crash course in BTS, check out this video (below). There are also thousands, yes thousands, of other videos apart from their award-winning music videos as well. Such is the power of Army, the power of social media, the power of good music well performed, and the hope that cream always, eventually, rises to the top.

The Saturday Night Live episode airs in the US on April 13.

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Thai Life

A new visa paperwork problem for some expats?

The Thaiger

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A new visa paperwork problem for some expats? | The Thaiger

We get occasional emails from expats relating their various problems with Immigration as they apply for new visas or renewals. The common thread is that applying for, and renewing visas, is becoming unnecessarily complicated.

This one seems complex. Names have been withheld for privacy.

“I am a British citizen and my baby’s visas were renewed without an issue, but the Thai immigration has caused problems for my wife and wants me to prove that I am married to my Chinese wife so that I can renew her dependent visa for a third year.

The man’s wife and baby are on Dependent visas tied to his ‘Retirement’ visa.

Our marriage certificate is in Chinese so in order to get Immigration to acknowledge our marriage, she now has to go back to China to have our marriage certificate notarised and translated, first in her local home area, then sent to China’s foreign affairs office in Beijing for their stamp, THEN to the Thai embassy in Shanghai for their stamp, THEN to Bangkok for the Chinese embassy’s stamp.

This takes many weeks/months and it’s simply a joke and is ‘mission impossible’ to do.

My wife flew out to China today and I am at home here in Phuket with our 1 year old baby who was born here at the Siriroj Hospital.

The new guy in charge at the local Immigration office has apparently decided that the certified translation from an authorised translator here in Phuket, which was ok in previous years is now NOT recognised or accepted.

We have brought all our money here and own two properties.  We have money in the bank, private medical insurance, spend all our money here, our baby was born here, but they have split up the family.?

“I just wondered if anyone else is aware of these changes?”

“It’s crazy to penalise the good, law abiding people and break up a family.  I thought once I was on a retirement visa and met all the requirements that all would be ok?! But no.”

“We have been to the Chinese consulate here in Phuket, they cannot help. My wife’s visa runs out in 2 days so she has had to leave….. !?!?

And get this… from last year onwards all Thai embassies in China (Shanghai Beijing Guangzhou, etc) are all saying they need at least one month to process any non-immigrant visas (dependent, business or education visas). Why is it all becoming so complicated?

Not to mention that the months and huge expense wasted every year to do this is staggeringly stupid.  We have been hear for years, retired for the last two years and now this paperwork road-block!?!”

PS. I worked and lived in China for over 6 years, and later retired here in Thailand, I have been married for 7 years and my wife and I have been together over 11 years now.

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Thai Life

Top 10 ways to cope with the humidity in Thailand

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Top 10 ways to cope with the humidity in Thailand | The Thaiger

It’s humid most of the year in Thailand. In the southern areas, during the ‘wet season’, it’s hot and humid all the time. You will sweat, a lot. Or in the case of ladies, you will perspire. Plenty of showers and common sense are your best simple advice. You WILL get used to it after a month or so and probably never worry about it again. In the meantime, here’s the Top 10 ways to do something about it…

1. Drink plenty of water

Drink lots of (bottled) water. Don’t drink out of the taps, even in the fanciest of hotels. Drinking lots of water will keep you hydrated and help you avoid headache, nausea and dizziness. If you come from a cooler climate you will find yourself needing to drink at least twice as much as you did before. (The Thaiger suspects that the water supply in many built up areas is probably potable these days – the ‘don’t drink the tap water’ story has been around for three decades. But be safe and drink the bottled water, it’s very cheap in Thailand.)

Top 10 ways to cope with the humidity in Thailand | News by The Thaiger

2. You need more salt than usual

…but most Thai food has plenty of salt already. When sweating you lose a lot of salt in the form of sweat. Just eating a few Thai meals each day will provide you with all the salt you need. But the evils of adding extra salt aren’t quite as evil when living in Thailand.

Top 10 ways to cope with the humidity in Thailand | News by The Thaiger

3. Wear loose fitting clothing made from natural fibres

Most of the time you’re only going to be wearing a single layer. Go for light colours and natural fabrics like cotton and linen. You will almost never wear a jacket or need a tie. Ladies, think ‘hot summer days’. Here’s your excuse to wear one of those outrageous tropical print shirts. But don’t feel too inclined to get your gear off – the Thai’s don’t appreciate TOO much skin – respect the local customs regarding skimpy clothing. Speaking of your clothes, beware closing the wardrobe door in the wet season. Without air circulation, after even less than a week, you’ll open to wardrobe doors to a sea of black mould. Just leave them open.

Top 10 ways to cope with the humidity in Thailand | News by The Thaiger

4. Exercise first thing in the morning or last thing at night

Don’t exercise in the middle of the day unless you’re insane. The heat of the day is best spent shopping, inside an air-conditioned office or as a siesta time. Go for a swim, take a nap. If you do need to be outside refer Item 3! All the running events (getting increasingly popular around Thailand) are held around 4 or 5 am. Get the idea? Take a bottle of water with you and drink more than you might usually drink during your exercise.

Top 10 ways to cope with the humidity in Thailand | News by The Thaiger

5. Wear a hat

Hats can be fashionable but in Thailand they’re also very functional. A hat will stop sweat dripping down your face and prevents the sun hitting you directly on your head, face or eyes. Sunglasses are also very important to protect your eyes from damaging UV. They also tell your brain that it’s not quite as bright as it actually is. Shade, generally, is worth pursuing as standing out in the sun, at any time, can really drain your energy and dehydrate you faster. Although the sun light isn’t particularly intense, it is hot, hot, hot when added to the humidity level.

Top 10 ways to cope with the humidity in Thailand | News by The Thaiger

6. Take your time – sabai, sabai

There’s no need to rush – adjust to a slower pace. Do what the locals do. Thai’s rarely rush around and tend to manage their pace to the levels of the heat and humidity. Rushing around will just heat up your body temperature and expose your body to heat-stress. Sabai, sabai (relax!)

Top 10 ways to cope with the humidity in Thailand | News by The Thaiger

7. Avoid air-conditioning, if you can

OK, it’s hot, we get it, but AC will likely cause your body even more stress if you spend all day in an air-conditioned room. Seek out cool places, sure, but try a fan, sitting in a cool breeze or under a tree. AC will really dry your air passages and your skin. For sleeping turn on the AC for an hour before you go to bed then use the ceiling fan (or a floor fan) for the rest of the night. Very few locals, even expats, will use AC for sleeping.

Top 10 ways to cope with the humidity in Thailand | News by The Thaiger

8. When in Rome, do as the Romans do

When it Thailand, watch the locals. They’re not running around the streets in the middle of the day and enjoy many showers during the day as well. Turn down the hot water when you head to the shower. Many Thais don’t even have hot water connected to their shower. Why bother? Especially if you live in the southern areas where the running water is quite warm, like the tropicals seas. A cold-water shower a few times a day will help keep you cool and refreshed. After showering it’s a good precaution to use some talcum powder in the ‘nether regions’ as sweat build-up and bacteria will thrive in a humid climate, sometime leading to rashes and itching. Nasty!

Top 10 ways to cope with the humidity in Thailand | News by The Thaiger

9. Mop up the sweat

You will sweat. Your body needs to sweat to help maintain your body temperature. A damp towel carried around in a plastic bag will be a perfect way to wipe your face, neck or hands from time to time. Some of us perspire more than others but there’s no problem in mopping up the perspiration from time to time – you’re not the only one sweating you know.

Top 10 ways to cope with the humidity in Thailand | News by The Thaiger

10. Eat healthy, light food

Lighter, less stodgy food is going to make your body work less to digest and keep you feeling a lot cooler and refreshed. Local fresh fruit and salads should be included in a humid-climate diet. Some of the Thai spicy dishes can be quite light as well but maybe keep off the heavier curries until the evening. Coconut water is available everywhere, cheap and very refreshing. You also have the prefect excuse for an ice-cream too! 

Top 10 ways to cope with the humidity in Thailand | News by The Thaiger

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