Sunday, February 26, 2023

We've Got a Ghost, and Perhaps a Double-Standard As Well.

I was watching a new netflix movie yesterday called We've Got a Ghost, a toss off run-of-the-mill comedy about a black family that unknowingly moves into a haunted house, and I noticed one thing that struck me as interesting. When the family becomes aware that the house is indeed haunted, the mother exclaims "We're not staying in a haunted house like a bunch of stupid white people!"

Now I understand the humor, I get it, and I had to chuckle, because we are all aware of course of the many spooky movies wherein a young white couple or family refuses to leave the house, often citing financial investment as the cause of their stubbornness, or perhaps disbelief on the part of the adult figures.

But I couldn't help but wonder how such a joke would go over if aimed at black people. For example, "We're not going to run away from ghosts like a bunch of stupid black people!" Not very well, I suspect; for although this is also a familiar stereotype (black people being especially fearful of ghosts), it is certainly not a joke that would be considered appropriate these days.

And so I understood for the first time how certain people might be offended by a seeming inequality in what can be said, what we can laugh at. In short, it is okay for white people in the movies to be called stupid, but not for black people. You see? 

Not that I have a problem with being called stupid, because after all I am stupid. But as far as I'm concerned, so is everyone else, and we ought not to be so sensitive about it. And if we are going to be invited to laugh at movie stereotypes of the comedic sort, I suppose we ought to be able to laugh at all of them without feeling that we have been brutishly insensitive. 

Just an observation, that's all. 

Monday, February 20, 2023

The Little Electric Bike Ballyhoo

 Here in the little town of Sanur, we have a Facebook group called Sanur Community, or something like that. What is actually meant by 'Sanur community', in this case, is the foreigners living in Sanur. Their community, not the Sanur community per se. Anyway, for the past week the community has been abuzz with frantic overreaction to the presence of little electric motorbikes on the beach paths. These little scooters showed up post-COVID, as I recall, and have proven to be a very popular attraction, especially among the young folk, but for older folk as well, both locals and foreigners.

For my own part, I enjoy watching people have fun on these things. They zip along the pathways, man, woman, and child, stop to take selfies, meet up with friends, and so on. Ah, but for the majority of the Sanur community exceptionals, they are a clear and present danger to life and limb. My goodness! They speed around without even looking, they don't even try to use the path marked for bikes, they nearly ran me over! 

Well, nearly is not good enough, I say. 

But this is not the only thing they complain about. Oh, no. They complain that Sanur is growing too much, becoming too crowded. They complain about the new mall under construction at the center of town. They complain about the hospital being constructed nearby on the Bypass. They complain about the new port facility and the traffic there and the traffic everywhere. They complain that Sanur is not the peaceful little place it was ten and twenty years ago. They came looking for peace and quiet, not for progress. What good is progress (except to the benefit of the local Indonesians, of course)?

They're ruining charming little Sanur! 

Ah vain and entitled foreign smudge. 

Well, a lone Indonesian gentleman took exception to these complaints of the community, suggesting that if people wanted a smaller, more peaceful, more primitive place they could move to one of the little villages on the island, replete with grass huts and local ambiance and nothing whatsoever to do. The people there would be glad to have the entertainment, as well as the money. 

As for Sanur, as the little town grows, the local economy improves, and as the local economy improves, the standard of living for those who were born here improves. 

Ruining little Sanur, are they? Ruining it for whom? 

Saturday, February 18, 2023

The Best Medicine

 Seems that it's gonna be difficult to keep up with the haters on Facebook, as I must now add to the list of brainless insults that had had been previously levelled at me, that I am now found to be a pedophile and a deviant as well. Why? Well, again, because I have an Asian girlfriend who appears to be young. In fact, she is 50 (although she doesn't at all mind being thought to be much younger). Of course, none of the political posts being commented on have anything to do with mail order wives or trafficked children or trafficked ladyboys or pedophilia or deviancy, but of course that's not the point. The point is that I have angered these particular readers by expressing a political viewpoint that opposes their own (in-so-far as they can be said to have one) and so they respond--not with a counterpoint or a cogent argument but with an obscenely ignorant insult, honing in on race and sexual identity, the two most favored targets of the extreme right wing. My childlike 50-year-old non-trafficked, unmailed, unmarried (to me or anyone else) Asian girlfriend thinks these insults are hilarious, and is flattered as well by the ladyboy reference (saying that she thinks ladyboys are prettier than real girls), so I suppose I had best laugh along with her, that being, as the old saying goes, the best medicine 

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Just Sayin', And Just Saddened

In the last few months, random Americans on Facebook--random that is except for the rudeness they have in common--have called my girlfriend (who is Asian and whose photo appears on my profile) a mail order bride, a trafficked child, and a trafficked ladyboy. Sadly, this sort of ignorance, racism, and crudity has become all too common in my home country. Wonder why I don't live there anymore?

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Balloon Wars

 Chinese balloons, cylindrical objects, and objects the size of a small car cruising in the upper atmosphere are all the rage in America over the past couple weeks. And oh, add aliens to the mix. That's right, aliens, for social media has been suddenly inseminated (alien abductions, anyone?) with extravagant theories about an invasion of UFOs from the interstellar regions. Who knew that aliens would come in balloons, right? Or in Mini Coopers? I always imagined immense Death Star type ships, about the size of Los Angeles. Be that as it may, however, this is where it all begins, the random Facebook geniuses tell us. The beginning of the end. It's a bit awkward, a bit of an anticlimax, but nonetheless long overdue, proving once for all that the world does not end with a bang, but a whimper.

Saturday, February 11, 2023

Oscar Nominees

 Yesterday, I watched two of the movies nominated for this years Best Picture at the Academy Awards, Elvis and Everything, Everywhere, All At Once

Of course, Elvis has been done in various versions over the past decades, and this one is as good as any other, I suppose, putting the stress on trends and interests and attitudes that happen to be in vogue at the moment, as has been the case with all Elvis movie efforts. I feel like they exaggerated a bit where it comes to Elvis' enduring popularity near the end of his career. To be sure, he was EVERYTHING when I was very young--my brother and I used to wait for his songs to play on the radio, and we had several of his 45 rpm records--but by the the time the late 60s came around, Elvis was pretty much a has been, except perhaps in Las Vegas. The 60s music and the whole 60s era counterculture had pretty much eclipsed poor Elvis, and he had even become a bit pitiful in his tight, glittering costumes. This movie pretty much glosses over the descent into alcohol, drugs, and paranoia. That's not the Elvis we want to see now. So, is it worthy of the Best Picture award? I think not. An engaging flick, but nothing very much out of the ordinary. 

On the other hand, I found Everything, Everywhere, All At Once an absolutely delightful science fiction/comedy flick that manages to skate seamlessly, and often hilariously, through a dizzying maze of genres. It is next to impossible to describe this film, so I won't even try--other than to say that what you think it might be in the beginning is what it turns out to be in the end, only better because of the middle. It had me laughing out loud, and also crying. I really still don't now how they pulled this amazingness off, which is what makes it more than deserving of the Best Picture of the Year Award. 

Oh, I may as well add that I also watched as much of Avatar Whatever as I could tolerate, then turned it off. Should not be on any list of best movies, of the year or even the week. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

An Accidental Trip

I took a bit of an accidental trip this in Sanur. I had noticed some time ago that there is a particular road that leads from the Bypass--that being the highway that skirts the town of Sanur itself--to the main street through the little town of Sanur. This particular road mentioned leads directly to the area of a few of my favorite cafes, and so I set out this morning to find that little road from the Bypass side. 

I did not find that particular road, but I did find one that led me on a merry journey through twisting and turning backstreets that I did not even know existed. All along these streets I found villas and apartments and little houses and warungs and shops--a little village of its own clinging to the outer edge of main Sanur.

My girlfriend was excited to learn of this because she is convincved that I must eventually (sooner than later, I suspect) find a place closer into the central town area than where I now live. I am not far away, mind you, but it is rather inconveniently necessary to traverse two very busy roads on the way to little Sanur. No way around it, really. 

For a moment on those twisting streets, it seemed that I might be twisting about forever in an endless maze, for I had made so many turns and backtracked so many times after coming upon dead ends, that I had no idea which way was which. Finally, a small car pulled out of someone's driveway and I raced forth to closely tail the car, certain that the driver would know where he was going. 

As it happened, we entered the main street through Sanur from from where I guessed I might be. 

So yeah, it was interesting. But I'm still wondering where that particular street is that goes to the cafes. 

As I headed home later, after a coffee and a walk on the beach, I stopped into an Alfamart to buy cigarettes. I bought two packs, sat at a little table outside to check something on my phone, then left without the cigarettes. I realized this upon reaching home, perhaps ten minutes later, and stood hesitating in my driveway. Should I go back? It was hot, I was tired, I was sweaty, and what was the chance anyway that the cigarettes would still be on the table. Zero to none, right? Well, that's the way an American thinks, and in America he would probably be right. But this is not America, I reminded myself, and so back I went. 

Yes, the cigarettes were there. A young man at that table where I had been sitting, looked at me, looked at the cigarettes, and promptly jumped up and brought them to me. 

For a just a little effort, I had saved myself 54.000 Rupiah. 

All is well in the world. 

And the sun was shining, too. We have been four straight days here without sunshine--which is certainly nothing back home in Oregon, but it's tragic here. Just plain tragic. 

Lest I paint too sunny a picture, I will note that by this evening, when I went again briefly to Sanur, the air had turned so hot and humid that it was nearly unbearable. Can you imagine being hotter in the evening than you were at midday? Well, I guess it depends on where you live. I myself could never have imaged such a thing, raised as I was on the rain, sleet, and snow of Oregon. Well okay, there were sunny days too, hot days--but still nothing like this accursed furnace I found myself cooking in this evening. 

But this, unfortunately, is normal here at this time of year. Just have to sweat it out and wait for better days.

Monday, February 6, 2023

Eye Has Not Seen

It is overwhelming to step outside oneself and take the long view of all that has passed before, all of those 'individuals', so completely alive to themselves in their own time, dust now and less than dust--even those who "made a mark", now but dimly remembered or remembered not at all. It is overwhelming, and more--it is unbearable. One has to return to his own precious skin. He is glad to return, for this is something that he can manage. And yet an even more overwhelming, nearly inconceivable miracle lies in the spirit of indistinguishable man: Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for us.

Sunday, February 5, 2023


My California cousin, David, sent this excellent piece of prose via e-mail this morning, and I have asked his permission to publish it here ...

A little burst of energy’s the thing even though I’m slow and feeling like I might be sick or something.  Sleep is like that - am I going to wake up at all, and when I do, assuming I do, what condition will I find myself in?  Will I be tired and feeling like I just can’t wait for my afternoon nap, will I be depressed and  wondering what can make life seem meaningful again, a sense of doom might be permeating my thoughts?  Or will I pop up like a fresh pancake looking for a slathering of butter and tasting great. It’s  definitely a crapshoot.  Lately I have been a mean and nasty person a good part of the day, especially the end.  This world is so screwed up I’m embarrassed to be a human being. What’s wrong with us anyway - we don’t seem to be much more than vicious animals fresh out of caves.  Everybody gotta have a weapon and killing seems to be the name of the game.  Hate and jealousy and entitlement and fear - what the fuck guys?  It’s very easy to believe that animals have emotions like love and family and caring when we realize that at least they are playing it straight up for survival from the same mammalian pool of existence.  In fact I have more respect for elephants than humans as a species.  If they could only shoot guns and defend themselves they would be a better apex than we have been.  So yeah if we are visited by aliens anytime soon, it will probably be to exterminate us, this plague of the planet before we completely do it to everything else. Like getting rid of the termites before they eat up the house. With that lovely thought.  I’m off to see the wizard, the wonderful shaman behind the curtain with his machines and levers and buttons to push to make the world seem bright and cheery.  Fallen fallen is Babylon but the coffee is good…

(Compliments of David Boughton)

Saturday, February 4, 2023

The Telltale Balloon

 The latest MAGA maniacism involves the earth-shaking discovery of a giant Chinese balloon floating over Montana and eastward. OMG!, they shriek, this would never have happened if Trump were president! Why hasn't Biden done anything? 

Great Balls of Fire! Or at least air. And who knows what else? Maybe there is a man with a Jewish space laser aboard. Or Hunter's laptop. Or Elvis. 

I myself have two theories. So far. The first is that Bozo the Chinese Balloon Seller accidentally let go of a whole bunch of balloons, helplessly watching them float into the sky. In this case, we need not be overly alarmed (although of course it is sad for the little Chinese children). The second is that the balloon belongs to the Wizard of Oz. 

What I find most outrageous of all is that the Chinese would spend billions on high tech satellite technology and construction and then opt for launching a balloon instead. What a waste.

Ah, but there lies the clever ruse!  

They're spying! They're photographing our nuclear sites! They'll see the big board! 

But wait, another sinister balloon has been spotted over South America. God knows what they're observing down there at heretofore unheard-of microscopic range. Peruvian nuclear missile sites? Nude beaches in Brazil? The flora and fauna of the Amazonian rainforest? And to what end?

It boggles the mind. 

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Hot Air Soup

 A hot, airless evening. I walk up the street as through an invisible soup of hot air. Hot air soup. At the Hideaway, I order a cappuccino, take a seat, but soon retreat to the outdoor area where a breeze might at least be hoped for. Hope itself makes a difference. The clouds, hanging low to the ground, heavy with irresolute rain, turn black to night in concert with the sky. A young man on one of the patio stools strums his guitar and sings and his wife--I think his wife--sings along intermittently. Their little boy says "Hi!" Hi, I answer. "Hi!" Hi. "Hi!" His mother shushes him. "Terus 'hi' she scolds, and laughs. And the boy is quiet, because he has exhausted his vocabulary in English. Thrice. The man strums on the guitar and he and his wife sing and the cashier hidden away inside the Hideaway sings as well. I sit back, put my book on the table, having read not a sentence anyway. It's too hot. It's just too hot. And the singing and the mellow strings of the guitar make me think, which was something I came here to avoid. I think that something is wrong. I think that something is not being said. I think that innuendo has been the air for the last few days, like hot air soup, but I don't I don't understand innuendo, I don't understand hints. I do understand portents. That's all.  

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Gloomy, Sour, Depressed, or Your Choice of Adjectives

 I'm feeling gloomy, sour, depressed these days. Don't know what it is. The weather, maybe? Every day a dreary, pale gray sky and heat like an oven. Starts raining just about the time one decides to get out of the house. 

Or maybe it's the meds I'm taking. I dunno. I started taking a high dose of pregabalin at night and none during the day, although I don't see why this would have anything to do with depression. 

Or maybe it's the money leaking from my bank account. As I mentioned here, I decided to do the five-year foreign resident permit this time around instead of the usual one year. Learned yesterday that I must pay an additional one million for a KTP, whatever that is. In any case, my agent says I must, so I must. 

What else? Male menopause? 

Funny, when I first described my weird super-heated feelings to a doctor at Kasih Ibu Hospital, I was told that this was "male menopause". Relating that information later to a neurologist there elicited a subdued guffaw. No, he said. There is no male menopause. This is a neuropathic problem. 

Anyway, I hope I snap out of this soon. I don't seem interested in reading or watching television or walking on the beach or pretty much anything.