You’ve been with me from the beginning of Long Time Gone. But when I reached out to you in my hour of need, you turned your back and ignored my repeated pleas for assistance. I suppose it’s the age old story of one outgrowing the other in a relationship. I may be just another small fry to you, but damn I was loyal.
So, it is with some sadness and regret I say goodbye to you forever. There’s a new blog host in my life now, Host Gator, who’s catchy little motto is “we eat up the competition.” Blogs About, consider yourself devoured.
Not sure how long the transition will take, but have no fear, should LTG disappear for a couple of days, I will be back bigger and better than ever before. Kinda like a bad dream.
…is that the question?
It was the best of posts, it was the worst of posts. Bloggers of the world unite!
No, I have no idea where I’m going with this blog post. Apparently the latest grammatical faux pas is to call something you write on your blog a blog. As opposed to a post on your blog. Me, I’ve never been a slave to grammatical correctness but this whole kerfuffle strikes me as much
But seriously, I don’t see why this whole “blog versus post” issue matters enough for someone to actually to actually blog about it. Or to warrant writing a post on your own blog in response. I have a blog and sometimes I even write some worthless crap and post it here. My mother used to say “oh, I loved that blog you wrote today.” I’d dearly love to hear those words again.
Anyway, when I see something that strikes my fancy I’m liable to blog about it with a post like this. Can’t we all just get along?
*Thanks to Kevin Kim for noticing my brain fart. Sometimes I’m too smart by half. I knew what I was trying to say, why I wrote it the way I did is a mystery. Kevin generously would have let me play it off as an intentional gaffe, but when your wrong your wrong. And yes, you’re right, that last one was intentional. I guess it might be wise for me to keep y’all guessing whether I’m really that ignorant or just bad at being funny…
We’re talking about the 2009 film here, not the mastodon. The movie came highly recommended by a university professor friend of mine who described it as being similar to Crash, only with a more international perspective. And I think that’s a pretty fair description. The film was produced in Sweden and features a wealthy American couple in New York city, their Filipina nanny, the nanny’s family in the Philippines, and the husband’s adventures during a business trip to Thailand.
I’m not a movie reviewer so I’ll mostly limit my comments to my personal perspectives and takeaways from the film. The context for the recommendation from my friend revolved around some lengthy discussions we’ve held regarding inequalities in our society and the extent globalization has played in creating a greater chasm between the haves and have nots in America and the world. Now, my friend sees this as a bigger problem than I do, which is natural given his generally leftist/progressive point of view. Mammoth touches on these themes without being preachy about it. The film is actually quite understated, it just presents the story of the contrasts being the lives of rich Americans, working class Filipinos, and a Thai prostitute. You are free to draw your own conclusions as to whether people are being exploited or just being provided opportunity they would not otherwise have.
Having lived and traveled in Asia the film resonated with me. I’d seen some of this stuff up close and personal and struggled with the issue of, well not exactly guilt, but at least the unfairness of life. Being born in America is like winning the lottery compared to 99% of the world’s population. So, in the context of the issues raised in Mammoth I’ll share some of my personal observations.
Let’s start with Gloria, the Filipina nanny working for Leo (a gaming webmaster) and Ellen (an ER surgeon). The movie doesn’t say, but I assume she was in the USA legally and working for appropriate wages and benefits as required by law. Leo and Ellen seem to treat her well and with respect and gratitude. Gloria has two children back in the Philippines being cared for by her mother and to whom she sends financial support. Obviously, she misses her children and they miss her. She tells her mother she wants to return home, but her mother insists she needs to continue working in the states in order to provide food, shelter, and educational opportunities for her children. That’s the reality for nearly every Filipino I have met. In fact, the Philippines largest source of income is from their exported workers. You’ll find Filipinos working as domestics and factory workers all over the world, including a large population in Korea.
Gloria reminded me of my Filipina housekeeper Lorna, who worked for me for several years in Korea. Lorna was also supporting children back home, although she had the disadvantage of being in the country illegally. Her biggest fear was being caught by immigration agents. For example, she wouldn’t take the subway since the authorities watch for and arrest many illegals there. Of course, another downside was she could never leave the country to visit her family. It had been years since she had been home. Her situation was heartbreaking for me and I compensated by overpaying her to clean my house. I paid her more for a once a week cleaning ($70) than she’d make in a month as a live-in maid in the Philippines. She had several other clients so really she was doing quite well for herself, comparatively speaking. She did a great job with the house and I certainly never felt like I was exploiting her. Shortly before I retired she decided to return to the Philippines (against my advice) to be with her family. She had a dream of operating a beauty salon with her sister. I knew that she’d never be able to return to Korea because Korea actually strictly enforces it’s immigration laws. She called me a couple of months later begging me to help her come back to Korea, but there was nothing I could do for her.
I have many Filipino friends in Korea with similar stories. The sacrifices they are making to provide a better future for their children are both sad and inspiring. I have never met a people who have so little in life and yet seem to be genuinely happy and optimistic. I’m not sure what their secret is, perhaps it’s acceptance of their situation and a strength they draw from their family and their close knit community. If a Filipino has only two dollars and a cousin has none, they’ll gladly give a dollar knowing that when the situation is reversed the family will provide for them. It’s a beautiful thing and I have a tremendous respect for such an unselfish culture.
A darker side to the OFW (overseas Filipino worker) program (an actual government agency) is the women who are imported to Korea (and Japan and others) as “entertainers”. Some of these young women may actually believe they’ll be singing in nightclubs (and Filipinas love to sing!) but invariably they wind up as “juicy girls”. I think most of them realize what they are getting into but given their limited options they make the choice to come and make the best of it. I did a longish post on this phenomenon a while back, you can read it here if you are so inclined.
Let’s get back to the movie. Husband Leo travels to Thailand to conclude a multimillion dollar business. En route (via private jet!) his partner gives him a $3000. pen inlaid with ivory from a mammoth’s tusk (hence came the name of the film) to sign the contracts in Bangkok. Well, the deal hits a snag so Leo has a few days to kill and he flies out of the city and stays on the beach. He is from all indications a devoted husband and father and initially resists the temptations of the Thai beauties that surround him. And then he meets a prostitute named Cookie.
I’ll confess that this was my favorite part of the movie. It reminded me so much of my first trip to the Philippines. No, I didn’t pay a girl to not sleep with me, but I totally understood where he was coming from. It’s all so overwhelming at first. Here you are in a tropical paradise, surrounded by beautiful women who practically beg you to be with them, and overlaying all of this is a crushing depression over the abject poverty you are witnessing up close and personal. Early on Leo calls his wife and says he feels the need to “do something” to help–sponsor an orphanage or anything else he could do to help make life a little better for these people. So, while he didn’t want to cheat on his wife, he felt the need to help Cookie out–so he gave her the night off.
I really laughed when Cookie told her friends about the weird American who paid her for nothing and they began discussing the relative merits of men they had slept with from around the world. I had heard similar stories from the Filipina prostitutes I spoke with. They called Korean men “triple 3s”–three inches, three minutes, 3000 pesos. Still cracks me up. I also appreciated the language barrier. Filipinos generally speak better English than Thais, but conversation is still fraught with landmines of misunderstanding.
Anyway, Cookie comes to Leo’s bungalow the next day and offers to be his tour guide. That’s also a pretty standard offer I’ve received in my travels. And what commenced was the full “GFE”, which stands for girlfriend experience–a day of sightseeing, elephant riding, swimming on the beach, and finally passionate love making. That’s really the attraction to Asian sex tourism–none of the “wham, bam, thank you ma’am” stuff, the girls pretend (and some of the aren’t pretending) to actually enjoy your company and will stay with you as long as you let them. One guy told me “I don’t pay the girls for sex, I pay them to leave in the morning.”
OK, I’ve gone and said those dirty words–sex tourism. The classic example of western exploitation of third world females. But it is really not that simple. I should state for the record two things–I was single when I visited the PI and I was not going for the sex that is available there. I was seriously considering retiring there where my government pension would have allowed me to live like a king–a fine beachside villa, maids, cooks, drivers–the works. But yeah, I hung out in the bars and of course I met a few of the local gals. We’ll leave it at that. I eventually decided it was not the life I wanted for a couple of reasons. Primarily, I fell in love with the Korean woman to whom I’m now married. Secondarily, I couldn’t handle the idea of being “rich” when everyone around me was so desperately poor. And finally I didn’t much care for the expats and “mongers” (as in whore mongers, the term the sex tourists affectionately call themselves). The expats were primarily Yanks, Aussies, and Brits. The mongers came from all over, and a hell of a lot of them were Koreans. Ah, those guys had a name for people like me too–”Captain Savaho”, get it, save a whore. They found it ridiculous that someone would want to help these girls out by doing nice things for them. It didn’t stop me though.
I met a girl on my first trip named Sheryl and I grew quite fond of her in an almost (emphasis almost) paternal kind of way. She gave me the full GFE–a night of dancing, karaoke, and a nice dinner. As we were eating she began crying. I asked her what was wrong and she responded “I hate my father!” And then she told me her sad story. Her dad had abandoned the family, and as the oldest child (she was 25) it fell to her to support her mother and siblings. She hated working in the bar and going home with strange men (on the nights she was “lucky” enough to be selected). But it was the only way she could make enough money (she made twenty dollars for our “date”). With only a high school education she was not even qualified to work as a sales clerk at the mall (those jobs require two years of college). Her life seemed so hopeless and her dream was to meet a nice foreigner who would marry her. It was pretty clear that she considered me (fat and twice her age) as a viable option in that regard.
Well. Marriage to a Filipina prostitute was not my dream. Although I never called her that (she was technically a waitress and sometimes a dancer). But I did go into full “Captain Savaho” mode. First I told her she had nothing to be ashamed of. She was doing a hard job and she was doing it for her family. I explained that what she was doing was no different than a man who sells his body as a laborer and that she should not feel bad about that. The next day I took her shopping for clothes and bought her a digital camera she coveted. Then she showed me where she lived.
It was called a “stay-in”. Basically, a small apartment paid for by the bar where the girls stayed when the weren’t working. It was one long room filled with bunk beds stacked side-by-side from one end of the room to the other. Each girls personal space was the width of her bed. There was a small kitchen and a bathroom. I recall there being about 30 girls in the room. It was hot (it’s always hot in the Philippines) and no AC, just a solitary fan. It was a nightmare to me, but Sheryl told me this was heaven compared to the conditions most of the girls had come from (dirt floors, no plumbing). Wow.
What do you do in that situation? Wing it of course. I invited the girls who were there to come back to my hotel for a pool party. You’d think I was Santa Claus arriving on Christmas morning from the screams of delight. About ten of the girls jumped up and put on their swimsuits (they weren’t shy about changing in front of me, bless their hearts) and off we trudged to my hotel. It was a rather strange experience walking down the street surrounded by a bevy of brown lovelies. Filipinas love the water and they splashed and played the afternoon away while I sat there smiling at their exuberance. I bought them all lunch which they devoured and then they put away a gallon of ice cream for dessert. The whole event cost me less than a hundred dollars and it was about the happiest time I ever had in the Philippines.
A few days later it was time for me to return to Korea. Sheryl cried and cried. I asked her if she could change her life, what would she do? She told me she would like to go back to school and earn her license as a certified caregiver. The tuition was the equivalent of $200 a month for about a year. So I agreed to be her sponsor. I’d pay the money but the rest was up to her. And one year later she graduated and moved back home to Manila to work at her new trade. I was so proud of her for never giving up on herself. Lots (most?) of the girls find it hard to escape the “easy” money of prostitution I expect. Last I heard from Sheryl she was getting married and moving to Australia. She thanked me again for the help I had given her and explained that she wanted to be a good wife so it wouldn’t be proper for her to communicate with me in the future. Oddly enough, Jee Yeun felt the same way about me talking with Sheryl and that story (mercifully my readers may be saying) has come to an end.
There’s a point I was trying to make in there somewhere. Briefly, it is this. I struggled with the whole “exploitation” issue. I guess the best I could come up with is that no one I ever met over there was being “forced” or was the victim of human trafficers. Most of them hated what they were doing, but were glad there was something they could do to support their families. Now, there are a lot of NGOs trying to shut down the prostitution bars. I understand they have good intentions but what are these young women going to do to provide the basic necessities of life if this option is taken away? The bars make sure that every girl they hire is at least 18 years old and they all get a weekly health check for STDs. Without the bars many would be on the street selling it anyway without any of the protections they receive from the bars. I guess in the end I see the do-gooders as being more exploitive than the mongers if they take away a woman’s right to use her body in this manner without providing a viable alternative.
One more point on this before I move on. The only real positive thing I can say about the monger community in general is there is an almost universal disgust with the few folks who seek out children. At least in the Philippines, anyone caught with an underage girl is in serious, serious trouble. They rot for months in the unique hell that is a third world prison just waiting for trial. And Filipino justice is applied harshly on misbehaving foreigners. The hotels have warning placards advising not to pick up girls on the street because there is no way to verify their age (let alone their health). And I’ve heard of corrupt police setting guys up with a too young girl and then shaking them down for every nickel they have. Anyway, I never saw anything like what Mammoth depicted (the man taking the young boy off the street). Not saying it doesn’t ever happen but no one would dare be that blatant about it.
Ok, so in the end Leo (remember him?) does an early morning escape from Cookie leaving his expensive pen and two watches as compensation for her troubles. She sells them for thirty bucks (one percent of the value) and sends the money home to her kids. And such is life. I did pick up on the fact that what is valuable aesthetically to a rich person has no meaning other than it’s intrinsic worth to someone who is poor. Leo would have been doing Cookie a bigger favor by leaving the equivalent of his stuff in cash. Or sending her to school, right? Gloria quits and moves back home to be with her molested son, and Leo and Ellen discuss hiring a new nanny. Life goes on and the circle remains unbroken.
So–there have always been rich and poor people in this world and there always will be. The rich hire the poor to take care of the nasty details in life (including sexual gratification) but in a perverse way, this provides opportunity that would not otherwise exist. Even in so called utopian socialistic countries (from Sweden to Cuba to North Korea) these dynamics exist. Is that bad or good? I’d just say water is wet because it is water. Life is unfair because it is life. And that’s just the way it goes.
Sorry for the, ahem, mammoth length of this post. I’d never actually written in any detail about these experiences. Watching the movie brought back quite a few memories for me.
Beats me, but the nice folks at Samoa Airlines could tell you no doubt. Or at least the price of a kilo of flesh.
I’m a big guy, but charging by weight instead of by the seat makes some sense. It’s how the airlines have always charged for freight. And lord knows, passengers are treated pretty much like cattle these days anyway.
Heh, I was just wondering if I’d be able to afford to fly my fat
It’s all part of the design. As is made abundantly clear in this somewhat irreverent video clip…
Isn’t that special. I’m not that much into delving into my cultural heritage. Like most Americans, I expect I’m more of a mongrel dog than anything. Indeed, family rumor has it that we’ve even got some Native American blood coursing through our veins. I did ask my father once if the McCrarey clan was Irish or Scottish. He said “well son, I drink like an Irishman and I’m cheap like a Scot, so I guess we’ve got some of both.”
Who knows? And more importantly, who cares? The whole purpose of this post is to share a short video clip that I found funny. Enjoy!
Remembering one of the highlights of my Bali excursion. The dance told the story of the Hindus, or at least one of the stories. It was chock full of good and evil, damsels in distress, and heroism. Me, I like watching the exotic dancers.
So, I bought the GIMP photo editing software. On the blog I often must resize photos to fit the window as it were. Now I’m trying to learn how to use the software. Let’s see if this photo fits, shall we?
ok, I think this one is going to be ok as well. But geez, this Gimp is going to take a lot of getting used to. I reckon must features I’ll never need (read: figure out).
Or recklessly writing. Of course, the less I write, the fewer errors I make. Having said that, I’d best stop before some inadvertent accident occurs. Like when Ann Althouse exposed her its.
In other news, I’m full of good intentions about losing some weight. So ladies, consider yourselves warned.
Imagine a place where people considered “offensive” by the powers that be are forcibly “relocated”. Not just the offenders but their families as well. And the length of time you spent in these camps was determined through successful completion of “work or study”.
Now these proposed “scum villages” would be reserved for unruly neighbors, gay bashers, and those who otherwise offend the tender sensibilities of the “normal” populace. But it strikes me as a slippery slope, particularly when it has been suggested in one of the most liberal and free thinking cities on earth.
I spent a couple of weeks in The Netherlands a few years back. From what I remember, I had a great time. Especially in the coffee shops.
What the hell, as long as I’m strolling down memory lane I may as well share a story from the trip. Like many tourists of a certain age and mindset, one of the first things we did was go in search of the famous legal weed. It was bizarre to sit down and order from a menu of various blends of marijuana. It had been years since I’d smoked pot and this stuff was potent! So, it came time to walk back to our hotel and we were both pretty wasted. The only obstacle between us and our lodging was the crossing of a thoroughfare.
And what a thoroughfare it was! One lane for bicycles, one lane for cars, two trolley tracks, a car lane and a bike lane on the other side. So I said “let’s wait for that pedestrian light to go green”. And wait we did. After about five minutes the wife said “you know, I don’t think that’s a pedestrian light”. And she was right! In the meantime, a rather large group of people had followed our lead and were just standing there with us waiting to cross. We thought that was funny as hell.
Well, we eventually made it across the road but after the trauma of that event we vowed to confine our smoking to the safety of our hotel room. So, during the day we go out and see the sights (it’s a lovely city!), and at night we’d get high and watch TV. Now, almost all the shows were in Dutch with English subtitles. But one night after catching a good buzz we happened upon a BBC sitcom called Coupling (you can see the whole series for free on YouTube. It’s hilarious, even when you’re not stoned!). So, this show was in English with Dutch subtitles. After watching about 30 minutes, the wife turns to me and says in all seriousness “you know, I think I’m beginning to understand Dutch!” I laughed my ass off over that.
Ah well, you should have been there.
…and I feel, er, disgusted.
As is my wont, I did some traveling around the internets this morning. What I saw wasn’t pretty. Let me show you what I mean:
From Germany: A buxom woman has been accused of trying to kill her lawyer boyfriend… with her double-D breasts. Franziska Hansen, 33 from Germany is accused of ‘attempted manslaughter with a weapon’ after her boyfriend claimed she tried to smother him with her breasts and pretend it was a sex game of motorboat.
Rockland, Maine: A 62-year-old Cushing man will spend five days in jail after pleading guilty Wednesday to assaulting his estranged wife. The incident occurred in July in Warren when his wife of 39 years, who was estranged from him, stayed at his place. He offered her $20 for sex, and when she refused he took out his penis and struck her with it, according to the prosecution’s version of events to which he pleaded guilty.
Florida: A woman who allegedly masturbated in a Florida Starbucks was arrested Thursday after police found a glass pipe with cocaine residue in her purse, authorities said. “We were called there by someone who said she was masturbating. She was high on crack with her hands going everywhere,” police spokesperson Josh Cramer said. “No one can say for sure what she was doing, but her hands were in her pants when she was wigging out,” he said.
Manila: The body of Roberto Apuyan was discovered with 11 stab wounds inside a room at Pitang Suites on Evangelista Street in Pasig City on November 19. Through a check of the motel records, the police managed to track down and arrest the primary suspect —a 15-year-old girl who was the victim’s lover. According to the motel staff, both were regular guests of the establishment. A further check of the records and verification showed that the minor did not kill the victim by herself. Her 21-year-old boyfriend, Elton Juan, had helped her carry out the deed. [Elton Juan–are you kidding me?]
Alabama: A man raped his niece while the girl’s father watched, according to police. Police said Dustin Alton Kent raped his niece, then 13, in 2008. The girl’s father, who committed suicide in June, allegedly told her she was going to the pet store and instead drove to Kent. The father is said to have seen his daughter being raped. Several members of the Wood family, including her own brother, have been charged with incest and rape. “From the evidence I have seen,” Patterson said, “this is a kind of collection of pedophiles.”
China: A 14-year-old girl, stole her mother’s husband, married him and had a baby together, according to court proceedings. The Chinese teenager apparently had a lovechild with her stepfather. She is threatening to cut off ties with her mother unless she divorces him. After the baby was born, the stepfather sent a text message to his wife, congratulating her for being a grandmother.
Ireland: A man was arrested and charged after a woman died having sex with his dog at his home, according to court proceedings.
Missouri: A St. Louis, Missouri woman pleaded guilty Monday to carrying out sexual acts with her dog and was sentenced to 120 days in jail. Dana Kintz, 28, called police on March 12 to her home claiming that her boyfriend Shawn Ingram, 37, has beaten and slapped her. Police said they found child pornography on cell phone images and also saw Kintz with Ingram engaged in sexual acts with the couple’s dog.
[It looks more like dog on dog to me, but in either case, the SPCA should be called]
Florida: 32-year-old Karnesha Dixon, from Florida, was caught in a compromising position by the police, while inside of a minivan. The Police of Martin County were tipped off to a couple getting frisky and when they approached the van they found Dixon’s head in the lap of 78-year-old Jackie Fischer. When asked what she was doing, she said that she was simply looking for cigarettes. [It’s a shame more women don’t smoke. And here’s hoping I’m feeling that randy at 78!]
There you have it. These may or may not be signs of coming apocalypse. As for me, I think I’ll take a shower.
Speaking of sick and dirty, this photograph appeals to me for reasons I can’t quite explain.
It seems quite a few of our senior military officers can’t seem to avoid the temptation of sexy subordinates. Does this indicate a breakdown in the moral fabric of our nation? Or maybe it is just a case of human nature refusing to be denied.
I really don’t want to believe in the “infidelity risk curve”, but damn, I find it hard to argue with the logic presented here.
(A Toyota commercial from Japan, a Korean music video, and some classic 70s rock and roll)
…”Wisdom, compassion, and courage are the three universally recognized moral qualities of men.”
I only wish I had the wisdom to be more compassionate, but I am afraid to try.
Places I Go
John McCrarey: That's the plan. It