Saturday, January 2, 1999

And a Happy New Year

Greetings!

Now that the raging parties and Prince's "1999" have faded into the background much like 1998, and you are all recovering from heavy inebriation in this wonderful four-day weekend, I'm dropping you all a New Years message and passing on the Kanester warmth for a prosperous year to come and a bright millenium on the horizon. It's a long one, this Kanestergram, but enjoy!

NEW YEARS IN BANGKOK

It reminds me of that 80's song - "One Night inBangkok" and the line goes something like "Bangkok -Oriental City but the city don't know what the city is getting." Only in my world it goes something like"Bangkok - Oriental City but Kane don't know what Kane is getting." I partied with the strangest yet neatest assortment of people. What started out as a small gathering turned out to be a wild New Year celebration. I told my two Filipino friends who live in the JRS staff house that I would make steak for New Years and we would cook up a good dinner and just hang out. 20 extra large steaks, 9 dishes of food, 7 bottles of liqour, countless beer, many fireworks and over twenty five people later, I couldn't hardly stand up and certainly had a very difficult time walking home. Boy, can the Burmese really drink. Many of Pinoy's Burmese friends (and consequently my friends) came over to have some American food after the word got around I was cooking steak. Some American Mary Knolls were there as well, which was kind of neat. They all came over and started drinking around 6 - with 6 hours to go. Needless to say, we were all dancing the night away by roughly 11. And then it turned in to a wierd assortment of games and running around. It was such a grand experience. A genuine good time and it created a certain sense of friendship that I haven't experienced before. Through a life of hardship and a wonderful disposition, Burmese, Filipino, American, and Australian alike all gathered to just party and have fun. Can't really convey the excitement or the emotion if you have no reference point to understand my feelings. But it was a new year celebration like none other.

The night before New Years, I went with some Thai, Burmese and Filipino friends to a Thai disco - a popular one here in Bangkok called "Nasa". I was one of only four westerners in the place packed with about four hundred people, and whenever I took to the dance floor, it was a big deal. My friends and I were really the only people getting down to the tunes (even though almost all the songs were Thai) and as the night wore on we were generating more of an audience than we really deserved. But our dancing thrilled the crowds and it became something of an attraction, and the more we drank the better we were dancing and the more people we would see clamoring to get a view. It was my fifteen minutes of fame here I think. Even the singers would cheer us on (including the extremely attractive female vocalist!)

ON THE JOB

Just biding my time this week really. Only three days of work and little activity gave me some time to catch up on reading. I had to get a visa extension here, so I can legally remain in the country until January 17th. I leave for Cambodia on my four city tour of the country on January 15th, and will get a 3 month non-immigrant visa upon my return. I am looking forward to going to Cambodia. Some of you may be aware of the news that Cambodia is making. Right now, several high profile Khmer Rouge leaders are defecting or surrendering, and I am going to take a look at how the current "peace" in the country will affect our work with the Cambodian refugees along the Thai - Cambodian border. Those of you who get it can see my observations in the next edition of Diakonia.

THE FAMILY

Well, the family is safe and setteled in Pittsburgh PA. My sister is going to start school this coming week, and my Dad is settling in to his job. And, it was good to hear that they enjoyed spending the holidays back in Pittsburgh with they extended family, which they haven't done since 1987.

THE FRIENDS

I had the delightful chance to talk on AOL Instant Messenger with Matthew Wrobel, and it was good to get the update from him on life in general. Haven't really heard from any of my other friends, but then I don't suppose I will until school is in full swing again.

STAR WARS: THE PHANTOM MENACE

I have some interesting news in this category. I have teamed up with the authors of the webpage www.countingdown.com/starwars to prepare for the celebration of the release of Episode 1 in California on May 21st. Initially, I recieved an e-mail from a Newsweek reporter on why I wanted to travel from Thailand to California for the release of Star Wars. I am going to elaborate more on that with the reporter in the following weeks, but I also volunteered to be the media relations specialist for the guys at Countdown who will be sponsoring the biggest event during the release. On April 21st, a bunch of dedicated fans like myself are going to orginize the countdown to Star Wars in line at Mann or the Village theaters where the Original Star Wars had it's famous release. The guys at countdown will be waiting in line for a month before the release, the whole time making it a media event, with webcams delivering live on-line feeds, fund raising projects for the Starlight Foundation charity, and fan events and special programs designed to make the whole "waiting in line experience" a major event. Several news organizations are already gearing up to give dedicated coverage, and actors and people involved with the film will be making appearances. It should be an awesome experience. I have yet to fully committ to the whole idea, and won't until I know exactly how I will do this, but there are several big name sponsors (like Coca Cola and Ebay) who are helping out. If I have a place to crash and enough pocket change to survive on, I'll use my frequent flyer miles and give this whole venture a go. I guess to understand my will to do this, it is like fulfilling a dream. Only those dedicated Star Wars fans out there like myself could understand. And I would wish that you would all be there with me. I'll keep you all posted, but it appears as if I maybe "your man at Mann's" in April-May, and I'll definitely be your SW:TMP connection.

Kane

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