Long-distance Sox

Luckily, even though we’re halfway around the world, we were still able to watch the baseball playoffs on ESPN Asia. The games aired live at 7:30 a.m. It’s strange drinking coffee instead of beer while watching Curt Schilling peer in for the sign, but as long as they’re winning, it doesn’t matter.

Picture swiped from Howie and Haviva’s blog

We’ve acquired some genuine Bostonian friends (who also make a mean apple pancake) to watch with, and every game also prompted a blitz of e-mails, calls, chats and text-messages to fellow fans in distant places.

This picture arrived via cell phone from some lucky friends in the crowd at Fenway during Game 6 of the Cleveland series.

Apparently, according to the US media, the Red Sox are now the Yankees and therefore everybody should hate them. But I don’t buy it. What’s to hate about Jacoby Ellsbury, who came up through the farm system, got thrown into the playoffs at the last second, and played like a man on fire? What’s so bad about diminutive Dustin Pedroia, who said he was so thrilled to hit a home run he couldn’t remember running around the bases? What’s not to like about Schilling? Well, OK, forget about Schilling. But the Yankees are still obnoxious – if you need proof, check out Hank Steinbrenner saying they’re the only team worth playing for – and the Sox are still the Sox, and life is good.

The Citizen Kane of gecko movies

We looked forward to Cicak Man for months. I mean, a Malaysian movie about a superhero who is half-man and half-cickak (CHEE-chahk – the little geckoes that scamper around on every wall in Indonesia) – What’s not to love?

We were not disappointed. It was cheezy and over-the-top and totally funny. I loved the twin villains named Ginger 1 and Ginger 2 with the long ginger-colored hair and ginger-colored outfits.

Best line:

Ginger 2, ushering a young woman into his house: Are you thirsty?
Woman: No.
G2 (insistently): Are you thirsty?
Woman (nervous): Um, yes.
G2: Then swallow your own spit!

Mystifyingly, Cicak Man seemed to get mostly bad reviews in Malaysia. But don’t worry, if we find it here on DVD with English subtitles, I’m going to send all of you copies.

Parental annoyance devices

Perhaps you’ve been wondering: what kind of temporary tattoos can Jakarta teenagers buy in packs of gum?

Rather tame ones, I think. They’re pretty, and a bit Goth, but they don’t seem like they would induce rage in most parents, which is what most teenagers are looking for. These are probably aimed at the youngsters, though. I bet you can get more provocative stuff on the street.


Papayas here are enormous and very cheap — between sixty cents and a little over a dollar, say, for one like this. All the fruit vendors who push wagons down our street know I like papayas, so whenever they see me they try to tempt me with one.

I like papaya whirred up in the blender with a little water, which makes it velvety-smooth. Some people drink blenderized papaya every day as a digestive aid.

Papaya is a folk contraceptive and abortifacient. It produces an enzyme that plays a major role in meat tenderizer and anti-itch creams, and was injected into Harrison Ford’s back when he was having disc problems during an Indiana Jones movie. It was allegedly supposed to “eat away at the infected area.” Eww.

Anti-radiation phone pigs: a story of faith

We were at a mall in Singapore in September, doggedly researching a comparative study of curry puffs, when we saw a kiosk selling these little devices that attach to your cellphone and protect you from radiation. Or maybe they protect your phone from radiation — I wasn’t entirely clear on that.

Anyway, they promised to sparkle with red and blue flashing lights whenever the phone rang, and that was clearly something I needed. I bought one in the square pig style to disprove Michele’s notion that all square pig stuff is useless crap.

Imagine my shock when the pigs turned out not to work! They just sat on my phone and did nothing. I kind of liked them anyway so I kept them on. A month later we were walking down the street in Bangkok when I realized, to my horror, that they’d disappeared. Miraculously, they turned up that night in our hotel room, on the dresser next to the TV.

“They’re just going to fall off again,” said Chad, but I stuck them back on my phone anyway because if you can’t make a commitment to your anti-radiation device, what can you commit to?

And now my faith has been rewarded: they’ve started working! Every time I get a text message or phone call, they flash their little bright lights moments before it arrives, so I can quickly shut the phone off and pretend the battery’s dead. Somehow, by getting lost, they found themselves. Who hasn’t experienced that in his or her own life?

I believe my square pigs have a message for me. And as soon as I recover from all this radiation, I’m going to figure out what it is.

Everything from tofu to grilled frogs

The market in Mae Sot instantly became my new favorite. It’s a sprawling and constantly changing landscape of food, clothes and people. This woman is wearing thanaka, a tree-bark paste traditionally used by the Burmese as both decoration and protection from the sun. She sold me some stuffed fried tofu which, unfortunately, was really greasy.

Just down the street there were curls for your head, and tiaras to go on top of the curls — perhaps to prevent them from blowing away.

There were mystery meats, and there were some meats that I wished were a little more mysterious, if you know what I mean.