At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016


An old colleague of my father years ago mentioned fond memories of the Technical University in Bandung (Technische Hogeschool Bandoeng) where he got a degree before the war. And Bandung before the war was considered a very nice place, the Paris of the East.
An altogether civilized city.

After the war the names changed, as did the population. The Dutch who had resided there all moved elsewhere, if they had even returned from the prisoner of war camps (Tjimahi, Tjihapit, et autres), the Nationalists took over, and the very name of the place is now forever associated with a conference of despots associated with non-aligned movement.

Bandung is also associated with tea plantations, a cooler climate than the pestilential hell-hole Batavia (140 kilometres south-east, on the coast), and a great hotel, the Savoy Homann, famous for its rijsttafel.

A few authors have mentioned Bandung in their writings - Tjalie Robinson (Jan Boon), Johan Wigmore Fabricius, F. Springer (Carel Jan Schneider), Elizabeth ('Beb') Vuyk, et all -- but memories of the food pale, often, in comparison to the camps.

There is an age gap. Those whose fondest memories of Bandung as it was, were too old to survive much into the modern age; those who wrote best experienced the war and the bersiap period. That, necessarily, darkened their memories.

Bandung today has a population of over two and a half million, up from less than twenty thousand before the war. During the Indonesian struggle for independence the southern district of city burned in the fierce battles for control, and much of it was destroyed. Bandung is a different place.

Many of the trees have long since been chopped down.
Modern cities wage war on old growth.
Little hasn't changed much.

The Hotel Homann still exists. The food is as good as it ever was.

They say you can never go back. My father's associate did go back, and enjoyed doing so. But other than the food and the hotel, it was not the same. He left as a native. He returned as a foreigner.

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When I first came back to the States after spending my entire youth in Holland (we had moved there when I was still a baby), American food baffled and repulsed me. The fries were limp and greasy, the beer was damn-near piss, the cheese that locals ate was nasty-tasting industrial extrudite, bread was quite utterly unmentionable, and other than McIlhenny's Tabasco there was no hot sauce. No herring, stale weak coffee, and luncheon meats beyond the limit of human endurance.
Oh, and what Americans used for mustard was a crime against humanity.
Please imagine the horror of landing in that environment.
A gustatory and social waste land.

Since those first ghastly weeks I have learned how to cope.

There is no hope for herring here, and most domestic luncheon meat is inedible. Good coffee is available where ever you find a Peet's or transplanted San Franciscans nowadays.

Some people actually make good fries. Sam's on Broadway in North Beach usually does an excellent job.

There are craft beers now, and even back then Anchor Steam was a shaft of gold when all around was dark. But you don't need beer to survive, and as Americans drink past the point of idiocy, it is best to avoid beer halls.

Good cheese could be found, but you had to search. The Cheese Board in Berkeley was a resource, since then many more California cheeses have been produced by real human beings, and for the last several years I have lived a few blocks away from Cheese Plus at Polk and Pacific.

San Francisco has sourdough, baguette, and rustic loaves.

And David Tran made a hot sauce that has conquered the world.


Actually, that's just the civilized world, mostly Northern California.

His company (Huy Fong Foods, Inc.) also offers a chili garlic sauce, and a sambal oelek. They used to produce a sambal badjak too, but aficionados usually make their own by slow-frying sambal oelek or chili garlic sauce with a paste of mashed shallots, a few kemiri nuts, some fish paste, and a pinch of sugar, till oily and darkened considerably, but not nearly so dark as a typical jarred Dutch sambal goreng (mashed chili fried with shallots and fish paste till stiff and almost black).

Basically, almost any variation on a sambal can be made by using one of Huy Fong's lovely products as a building block.

Along with thick sweet soy sauce (ketjap manis) and mayonnaise, you have the fundament of Dutch cooking in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century.

You can fudge nearly everything else, or get by using local products and native vernuft, but without access to chilies, mayo, and soy sauce, you cannot live a civilized life.

American mustard is still barbaric.

Do not go too deep into the Interior; there are headhunters and trailer-park cannibals there. It's all Texas.

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Monday, October 24, 2016


Two of my Facebook friends, whom I actually also know in real life, vie for the title of most scrumptious food picture poster. Which is very irritating.
They both eat very well, and I like their food.
But I do not eat like that.

They both eat with someone else. One is married to a lovely companion, the other goes out late in the evening with buxom drag queens.

I eat by myself. On my days off I go to places in Chinatown and either listen-in on other people's lives -- as a Cantonese-speaking kwailo I can do that -- or I just observe people. Ninety nine point oompty percent of the time it's alone. My apartment-mate does not eat at the same time as I do, we cook separate meals, and tend to occupy the common areas at different hours. We share comestibles (cheese, cookies, icecream, bacon, eggs, etcetera), but by any measure that is not the same as eating together.

It makes me envious that someone so shy as my apartment mate should actually eat as socially as she does, whereas the social person (which is me, I am a veritable butterfly dammit) eats by himself virtually all the time.

She has events with relatives, co-workers, and her boyfriend. Plus old schoolmates, and friends from former jobs.
The full gamut, in fact.

If it weren't for the cheap lunch counters, tea restaurants, dim sum places, bakeries, coffeeshops, and roast meat restaurants, in Chinatown, I would probably go crazy.

I think tomorrow I shall head out in the middle of the afternoon and have either roast duck, or baked Portuguese chicken rice. Either siu-mei at the place with all the windows, or a chachanteng classic while watching the passers-by on the street.

Then I'll go find an awning or abandoned doorway where I might shelter from the rain while smoking a pipe afterwards.

You humans look delicious when wet.

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As a sign of how unfair this election is, people who vote for Clinton can go to the polls as early as November 8th., whereas those honest folks voting for Donald Trump have to be patient until November 28.
Yes, I know, it's such a completely unequal situation.
But if you don't vote, they'll steal the election.

I urge all loyal Trump supporters to flock to the polls on November 28, and prove by sheer numbers who really deserves to be president.



Or should that be 'T Day'? In any case, make it count. If you have to, take the day off. The twenty-eighth of November is too important.

On the 28th. of November we take back what is ours!


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Sunday, October 23, 2016


It is a sad thing that at this very moment I am keenly aware of the box of cookies. It sits between me and the television set. My apartment mate bought them, and because she is fast asleep in her own room, I cannot ask if I may have any. I'm sure she'd say yes, but I should ask, so that she is fully cognizant of the horror her assent would unleash. I would finish the entire box of them, and be bouncing off the walls, high as a kite on refined sugar, honey, and almond chunks. Then I would sink into a stupor, once the sugar wears off, and likely fall asleep fully clothed on my bed, reeking of almonds and pipe tobacco (I smoked five bowls of rubbed-out flake while in Marin today, mixed with a little fragrant dark toast).

It would be a frightening Sunday evening.

So I'll do the gentlemanly thing.

And not wake her.

They sit there, tempting me with their crumbly sugary goodness.

It is far too late to go to Chinatown for dinner. All my favourite places close by eight or nine, there is nothing good to eat at this hour.

Bitter melon or eggplant with sliced fish? Roast duck over rice, or siu-yiuk braised tofu? Perhaps baked Portuguese chicken rice or a club sandwich with fries at the Washington? Salt fish eggplant, a flaky lotus bun, and milk-tea? Even congee and some stirfried gailan with oyster sauce?

No can do. Meanwhile, those almond cookies wink at me.
They are tempting, so crunchy and sinful.
Being good is hard.

['King-to Chaan-kwun']
839 Clay Street, San Francisco, CA 94108.
Telephone: 415-397-6269

港新寶燒腊小食 KAM PO (H.K.) - KAM PO KITCHEN
['Gong San Pou Siu-lap Siu-sik']
801 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133.
Telephone: 415-982-3516.

['Waa-seng-duen Chaa Chaan-teng']
733 Washington Street, San Francisco, CA 94108.
Telephone: 415-397-3232

['Ho-lei-wut Chaa Chaan-teng']
652 Pacific Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94133.
Telephone: 415-397-9919

['Ngan Dou Wantan Min']
648 Pacific Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94133
Telephone: 415-834-9388

I'm just listing these places for completeness' sake. Much like a starving man would write out recipes, or a recovering alcoholic might fondly recite the names of his favourite single malt Scotch whiskies which are available at the cigar bar on Pine Street. It's a form of self-torture.
I'll probably be dreaming about them tonight.
I do not want to cook anything.
I'll just suffer.

There's quiche in the freezer, but I'm not that hungry.

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Someone expressed an interest in my blog today. Which is remarkable.
It strikes me, however, that there is an awful lot of stuff here which may require explanation, or which really needs to be understood from the beginning lest misunderstandings arise.

Firstly, I am not a pervert or a lizard-alien. This is very important, don't let anyone tell you otherwise. I do not lie on a hot rock on my days off enjoying the warm sunlight.

Secondly, some posts here have proved quite popular, and are still being discovered by people wandering around the internet. Here are the links to those posts: Dim sum names, how to prepare sea cucumber, what the term ham sap lo means, the definition of French cut, versus, for instance, high cut or granny panties (I did some research, don't ask why), the short story that my aunt in Canada loved (it features animals), fun with feminine hygiene (it's totally clean), and a story that explains why I never get invited to Saint Patrick's Day parties.

Plus, as a lagniappe, a very unsuitable tale about mixing cocaine and Habañero chilies. It's cautionary.

An anecdote which several friends really liked: Mister Snow Poof.

And a story which enchanted my ex: celebration for turkeys.
She wanted me to illustrate it, but I don't draw very well.
Maybe sometime.

Thirdly, I have a thing about ceramics: pottery and porcelain terms.

There's also pipes and tobacco.

That covers the really interesting stuff. Most of the time I just gibber a bit about Hong Kong milk tea, food, egregious things, and what I'm smoking in my pipe that moment.

Occasionally I mention badgers,


and Hello Kitty.

There are other subjects, of course. The mind is a cesspool, fecund and richly fermenting, with semi-solid lumps that float to the top.

It all started over a decade ago.
I'm working the kinks out.

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The song below is better than the American National Anthem, and likely to confuse everybody voting for Trump. "Who are those Mexicans", they will probably wonder aloud, "and why are you singing about them?"

Whereupon they will without a doubt conclude that it's all a horrible Muslim plot and Obama is going to come and take your guns.



The people named in this song should be denied entry, lest they come to blow up a Walmart parking lot near you.

Cacat bovis, cacat bovinus, dixit Eclesientes ...

Still seventeen days of this silliness, before we know whether there will be riots. Or whether there will be riots.

Don't leave the house on the eighth.
Something is planned.

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Saturday, October 22, 2016


Today: everybody in Marin County is deliriously happy with what they are right now, smokes pot, and is entitled. Everyone else is unworthy.
I am not worthy either, which is why I live in San Francisco.
But enough about Marin, which isn't real.
Where I live is real.

Change the subject.

Friday: lunch with an old friend, then later in the afternoon tea at the New Hollywood while listening in on a Taiwanese couple discussing English classes with a person from Thailand. The subject matter was not nearly as fascinating as the cadences and pronunciation. I would make a lousy spy, as details are less interesting than verbal framework.

Alas, I doubt that any of those three "English speakers" behind me would understand either Monty Python, or Pen Pineapple Apple Pen.
Too serious, too sincere, too uber goober.

Not American-born Canto enough.

Actually, I'm not even sure that most American-born Cantonese have the necessary mental dexterity; it takes a rare breed. The Cantos, mostly, would have to have experienced both Lowell and KQED, and abstained from anything Hello Kitty related, unless exercising a sense of irony and absurdity.

Most of the American Cantonese are too serious, especially if their exposure to non-Canto English-speakers has been somewhat limited. And if they're American-born their familiarity with Cantonese movies, especially the films of Wong Jing (王晶), Michael Hui (許冠文), and Stephen Chow (周星馳), is usually far too scant to appreciate non-sequentiality and composed irrelevance. It's not part of the toolbox.

Eric Tsang (曾志偉), Carol ('Dodo') Cheng (鄭裕玲)?
Karl Maka (麥嘉)? Chris Tucker (傑士德加)?

Nah. I think you have to be very HK to appreciate them.
If not actually HK, then hip, goofy, or Aspergery.
Solemn little droodges just can't cut it.

"a stinking transvestite what should have his face sawn off"

They're good at school however, and make decent engineers, bankers, and office workers. Their more 'badly English speaking' kinfolk often think of them as rather dull, even when they're proud of any achievements.

The ability to appreciate the Holy Grail, famous director Luchino Visconti and mopeds, or English goal keepers moved to poetry by the Yangtse river, river full of fish, is not given to everyone.
It requires English fluency.
Or German.

One out of a thousand, maybe. Logical minds and Montyesquity.
A great package. It's visionary.

[The person with whom I ate lunch yesterday was one out of ten or a hundred thousand, possibly a million. Not Canto, or Anglo. But that is neither here nor there.]

Naturally most other Americans are not as flexible, as witness the current American election, which is nothing if not droll, berserk, and screamingly insane. But they take it so seriously!

Are you scared of clowns? You should be, several of them are running your way. And they don't look like nice people.

My parrot is deceased and I have several jars of honey.
I should have been a lumberjack.


This blogger is more likely, MUCH more likely, to enjoy snackies and a hot beverage where the people running the joint speak Cantonese all the time as a first language, and are often hamstrung by English, than at any restaurant which employs the English-semi-fluent American born, who only understand their parents' co-dialecticals well, treat everyone else who speaks Cantonese with bafflement and disdain, and never appreciate that someone so obviously not related to them in any way can actually read all the words on the wall and in the menu, because it would take a literacy that they just don't have to do so.

Like other Americans, their ears are stiff and rigid.
I shall not mention what's between.


I'm still somewhat peeved that the waitress several months ago did not know that 苦瓜 ('fu gwa') was identified on her menu as 涼瓜 ('leung gwa'). What I wanted was precisely what it said on the menu: bitter melon and fish over rice (涼瓜斑球飯 'leung gwa pan kau fan').
What I got was two (兩個 'leung go') orders of something random.

There's only ONE of me, I am not huge.
And I'm pointing at the words.
Look at my finger.



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Friday, October 21, 2016


The only reason I don't unfriend some people on Facebook is because they are old and crazy and shouldn't be blamed for saying stupid things. For instance that Clinton and Trump are equally bad, and that they are going to vote for Jill Stein.

Well at least the old fool isn't voting for Trump. That's probably the only reason why I tolerate him. But seriously, voting for Jill Stein is something only a mental defective would do.

It's a waste of time, a waste of a vote, and a pointless and blitheringly middle-class Caucasian thing to do.

What's the point of having a voice if every rational person who hears it thinks that you're finally beyond reason?

Voting for Jill Stein is the political equivalent of becoming a Scientologist or joining Heaven's Gate.

You do know that her running mate was only chosen because a radical black intellectual makes stupid white 'progressives' feel warm and happy, don't you? He gives them that delicious moist feeling of being revolutionary and impactfull. He's spent his entire life catering to their white guilt. Highlights of his career include being an apologist and admirer of nearly every despotism on the planet, from the old Soviet Union to modern-day North Korea, Syria, and Cuba, while supporting a host of crackpot conspiracy theories.

"The Sanders’ campaign, like the Obama phenomenon before it, does not offer a program or strategic direction for addressing the current crisis and contradictions of Western capitalist societies."

---Ajamu Baraka; vice presidential candidate of the Green Party, in CounterPunch, September 16, 2015.

"My dialectic method is not only different from the Hegelian, but is its direct opposite. To Hegel, the life-process of the human brain, i.e. the process of thinking, which, under the name of 'the Idea', he even transforms into an independent subject, is the demiurgos of the real world, and the real world is only the external, phenomenal form of 'the Idea'. With me, on the contrary, the ideal is nothing else than the material world reflected by the human mind, and translated into forms of thought."

--Karl Marx; someone responsible for a huge amount of hot air.

To nimrods such as Ajamu Baraka, everything should be seen in relation to class struggle, and the overthrow of "a demented and dying U.S. empire" and its "colonial allies".

Voting for the Green Party, with Stein and Baraka at the helm, would be an outrageously immoral and cynical act, besides monumentally destructive, stupid, and self-hating.

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Thursday, October 20, 2016


To quote a person who has far more experience over there than any of the rest of us, "that's the second dumbest thing I've heard in Marin". I did not ask him what the dumbest thing was, because I could already see the conversation leading to existenzangst, and self-doubt. "What am I doing here", I might well ask, "and is there any hope for humanity?"

You never want to be in a position where you ask yourself those questions in Marin. For many people it leads to mysticism, yoga, and food hang-ups.

Saints preserve us from mystical white folks.
And their yoga. Or their food hang-ups.

I'm perfectly fine with my present set of food hang-ups. Hot piles of gluten (delicious pasta!), meat (ooh, scrumptious!), dairy products from cows with emotional states and karma that mean nothing to me (cheese! I must have some cheese!), the sacred duality of foie gras and veal (cotellette de veau grilée, couronnée de foie gras poêlé et réduction de vin rouge), plus gmos, vegetables that most white people won't touch, divers types of chili pepper, and a haphazard mingling of natural and artificial flavours.

What set off this series of events was a parking lot tirade.

"I blame the Catholic Church for this, yes the Catholic Church! I want them held responsible, there ought to be laws! Wherever the Catholic Church has been there's a disrespect for normal human values, boundaries, order, and other people's property! See that? That there? That's what I'm talking about! It's Catholicism! The Catholics!"

We strained to see what he was talking about.

Surely it wasn't the Peet's coffee cup?

Neatly placed on one of the lines?

It was.

Because it so disturbed him, we cleaned it up.

I am awfully tempted to go to Marin on a day off, early in the morning, to put three or four cups there waiting for him. Because he would never suspect me. I am not Catholic.

For the record, I don't do yoga, scorn mysticism, have never dabbled in white folks Buddhism (or any other kind), despise self-appointed food phobes, can't stand pot, do not play a guitar, and have never chanted mantras or 'om'. I am not spiritual, I only visit Marin for the tobacco.

I drink coffee in San Francisco.

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No, I did not watch the debate. But I did read about it afterwards. Like all rational people I have already made up my mind to vote for the human, in hopes that the orange-faced lizard will be defeated, humiliated, and reduced to beggary and collecting empty cans.

Him and his ugly pudgy fingers. You should always distrust a man with a bloated face, a simple mind, and nasty little icky worm-like digits.

Especially if he is an unstable reptile.

I already listened to turd-faced self-impressed entitled white guys singing karaoke this week, I have paid my dues on the altar of vulgarity, I do NOT need to add horror to infamy by turning the Trump on.

The similarities between Trump and the Vashta Nerada are startling, despite their vast differences. No, I will not guide your understanding there, suffice to say they are the stuff of nightmares and madness.

When does that damned zombie series return?

I keep thinking about putrefaction.

Dead blond head rats.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016


Just as a matter of interest, it appears that there are two to possibly a dozen times or so more women cigar smokers than women pipe smokers. Which more or less matches the male spread, but is quite disappointing. One would have thought that it would be the other way around, as a pipe is delightfully feminine, and an aesthetically pleasing object of pleasure.

But no.

Women prefer cigars.

There are two women who post pictures regularly on one of the FB pipe forums. They always look content, and intelligent. That is not the case with all the men whose faces show up there, some of whom look like haggard and disappointed heavy metal freaks or nerdy basement dwellers (not their fault, they just are), and there is one chap whose selfies always look the same; front on, at arms length, slightly upward angle to the camera, while in the cab of a big rig, corncob pipe, and a rather interesting description of what he's doing right now (picking up a load, or dropping off a load), plus mention of the aromatic he's smoking and the passage of time through a part of the country that I will probably never visit.

I always enjoy reading the brief postings from our correspondent in Hong Kong. He lives well, enjoys good tobacco, and has a cheerful smile. Most of his shots feature backgrounds that are not a man cave or a basement.

I do not have a cellphone, and consequently never post selfies.

But if I did, they would show me somewhere in Chinatown. Badger on Hang Ah Alley, with Toishanese gents playing volleyball in the court behind me, or a mahjong parlour entryway. Badger on Trenton Alley with the Ping Yuen West housing project mural in the background. Badger on Becket; that colourful area behind me is the Mah Tsu temple, I am framed by fierce guardians. Badger on Fa Yuen Kok, with the 'no smoking' sign to my right which I am ignoring (it is in Chinese, and as a kwailo I have plausible deniability). Badger lighting up after leaving the Washington Bakery & Restaurant, where I just enjoyed a Hong Kong milk tea and a snack.
Or Wing Hing Bakery ("double A"), or New Hollywood.
Same circumstances.

[The Washington does a rendition of baked Portuguese chicken rice which I like, and their HK club sandwich is nice. Their tiramisu pastry (意大利蛋糕) is delightful. Wing Hing ("AA") has delicious flaky egg tarts and charsiu turnovers, plus good scallion poofs. Their coconut tart is too sticky by half (though scrummy) and you will need another beverage. New Hollywood has a lotus flaky bun, egg tarts, curry puffs, and hot dishes too, but they close at six thirty. The bus driver hangs out there and rants eloquently and very entertainingly (in Cantonese). All three places have excellent Hong Kong milk tea. If you wanted century egg in a pastry crust, you are on your own, as I haven't decided which place in Chinatown does that best.
Try Yummy Bakery down on Jackson.]

Unless it is raining cats and dogs, the final pipe lit up in Chinatown will probably end with Badger on the edges of Sue Bierman Park down by the Embarcadero, with screeching and swooping parrots. Which are hard to capture in a selfie, so what's the point.

Seldom, rarely, do I hang around Waverly. But when the rains come I shall probably have to do so, or on Clay, Washington, and Jackson near Grant. The reason being that there are awnings there. Badgers like awnings in rainy weather.

On a related note, someone I know spends a good part of the year bellyaching about the weather. "It's too hot!" "It's too cold!" It's raining!"

Always dress appropriately. Especially if you lack a sleek layer of insulating body fat, have old bones, or are going through menopause.

Or, if you have a car, smoke in it.

There are benches on Commercial Street where you can sit if those old bones and creaky joints refuse to carry you any further. They've been repainted, they are clean and bright yellow. It is festive.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016


Best line heard today: "I wouldn't have told her that it was from ill-gotten gains, I would've just given it to her!" This was behind me on the bus.

It is both charming and disturbing.

An office worker showing the best impulses and the worst. A giftie for his girl, and white collar crime. In one opportunistic modern package.

"I wouldn't have told her that it was from ill-gotten gains, I would've just given it to her!"

Nothing says 'Christmas' like a junior banker doing something illegal.
Or perhaps he works in stocks or real-estate.

It's starting early this year.

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Over the years I have finally realized that I have a soft spot for Barbie Dolls. No, it isn't the femininity or exaggerated non-sexual sexuality of the toys, but the fact that there is a tackiness that does not stop, their heads come off, and they evoke both the impermanence of most consumer goods as well the sheer common-place vulgarity of existence.
That probably over-intellectualizes it, but a naked headless Barbie carelessly left out by the rubbish tip really speaks to me.

Yes, it reminds me off my childhood. At which time I did not associate such things with what girls actually looked like or could possibly look like, but with the end of day, autumn, and warmth. "It's getting cold and dark, we should go inside, and have a warm beverage around the kitchen table."
And just like that, little pink headless naked Barbie gets forgotten.
She's soulless, and has absolutely no personality.
There is no empathy possible.
An "object".

That isn't a person, boys and girls, nor even a representation of one the genders, but an inanimate object of weird shape. A temporary totem, like a decorated stick, or a tin can with two eyes and a smile painted on.

I find it incredible hard to accept, much less sympathize, with the fact that some little girls identify with Barbie, or see that doll as in any way an embodiment of them or their eventual worth in the world.

That's what trolls and stuffed animals are for.

And other reductionistic simulacra.

Plus Hello Kitty.

I defy anyone to find a single thing that is masculine or feminine there.

There is no simpering, there are no frills. And conversely no spikes, leather, or a G. I. Joe machine gun. No pigskin, no football helmet, no biker tats.

Hello Kitty just "is". No role play.

With a matter-of-fact defiance she informs us that she ate all the cookies, there are none left, no not sorry (probably because there will be more eventually), and she is enjoying a fine post-snack smoke. Whatever the tobacco is, is somewhat immaterial -- women and men have the same tastebuds, so it is probably NOT a ghastly vanilla custard raspberry truffle cavendish; those are for pimple-faced fat boys who live in their mommy's basement and play violent video games all night -- but it may very well be something startling like a full Latakia blend (Dunhill 'Nightcap', Greg Pease 'Odyssey', Esoterica 'And So To Bed'). Or perhaps Peter Heinrich's 'Dark Strong Flake'. Even HH MacBaren 'Old Dark Fired'.

I cannot imagine Barbie smoking anything decent in a pipe. Primarily because she's got no head or clothes on, but also because she seems to have surrounded herself with all the trappings of suburbia, including a plastic boy toy who looks like her and disapproves of individuality.

Together, they watch football on teevee while machine-gunning the neighbors' pet cat.

Positively the worst thing that you can say about either of them is that they don't always go to church on Sunday, have perfect hair, drink Starbucks Hazelnut Caramel Frappe, and have matching cellphones.

Which, honestly, I find pretty repulsive.

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Monday, October 17, 2016


Alas, there are no more bon bons! I ate them all. I wish I had not been so greedy, because even ONE SINGLE bon bon would have been very nice after my burrito de carnitas, sin frijoles, con extra queso y los sheer bucket-loads de salsa picante.
I think the salsa was made from chiles de arbol secos, toasted a little to facilitate grinding.

Sometimes a man lives for his mouth.

As I am lighting up the fifth and final pipe of the day (it is after ten in the evening here in San Francisco), A.F. in Hong Kong is looking forward to another smoke later in the afternoon. Earlier he stood on the north side of Queens Road Central, between Ice House and Bank streets, sheltering from the rain, while smoking a Dunhill mixture that cannot be purchased anywhere here in the Bay Area. It has Latakia in it, and probably smelled very evocative and absolutely delightful in the warm humid afternoon air.
What I am smoking is Cornell & Diehl's Yorktown, which is a straight Virginia ribbon-cut mixture. Simple but excellent. In a black sandblast bent bulldog bought at Grant's on Market Street years ago.

Instead of a bon bon, I am having another cup of coffee. So there may be another pipe after midnight. My apartment mate does not notice Virginias after she has fallen asleep. She claims to hate smoking, but does not have a particularly sensitive nose. Which, believe me, is a blessing indeed.

Late at night, when she is in her room, and I am still up in front of my computer, I take risks. Like smoking a bowlful of something mostly flue-cured in the same living quarters as a fervent nonsmoker.

In Hong Kong one does not need to take risks.

I had a burrito with extra cheese.

A.F. has a typhoon.

The bon bons, which are now all gone, were from Littlejohns, which has locations in San Francisco and Los Angeles. It is a company I had never heard of before. They were luscious. When it comes to sweet things I have no self control. I kept telling myself "no more" while grabbing another. It is surprising how fast a box of sweeties disappears.
And disappointing too.

I also finished the icecream.

It was caramel.

There is still some cake left (one whole generous portion), but I resist.
My apartment mate should have it for breakfast.

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Great line underneath an internet post elsewhere: "that is caused by your internalized misogyny". This anent someone reading the comments and feeling homicidal in consequence. Which led me on a wild journey.

Pursuant which, this cartoon:

[Location where found:; A Taste Of The Awful.]

She's right.

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Sunday, October 16, 2016


A post I wrote a while back disturbed some readers. "What", I asked, "would I be like if I had been born a woman?" It seems a worthwhile question. My mother was a woman, and in many ways I am a mama's boy. She was short, stubborn, brilliant, and quite incapable of backing down.
A very strong minded and bold woman.

I am not short, being about ten inches taller than her.
Unfortunately I am not as brilliant as her either.
It's a condition I should wish to aspire to.

Had I been born a woman, both of my parents would've made certain that I nevertheless had backbone. It is quite likely that I would have gotten into many more fights in grammar school, because what with being a smaller person there would have been even more incentive not to let the other kids run roughshod over me, and even more excuse to kick them in the balls something fierce.

It is also likely, incredibly likely, that I would have had no clue whatsoever about the feminine arts. Cooking? My mother had half a dozen recipes plus grilled cheese sandwich. Laundry? Make sure the dirty stuff is ready for Monday morning pickup. Sewing, darning, mending? If it's got a button missing, throw it out.

Finger nail polish? That's for keeping buckles, uniform buttons, and insignia shiny. Everyone knows that!

High heels? We shall not speak of those. A pair got taken off and flung across the foyer once after a required company event.
She never wore pumps again.

As I said, a strong minded woman. She's lucky I wasn't a daughter, as without a doubt I would have rebelled against her several years sooner.
Skirts and lipstick, oh boy! Pantyhose, pearls, and tampons!

And for crapsakes, stop buying me clothes from the Sears Roebuck Catalogue! I can buy my own, and no, my breasts and hips are NOT one size larger every year! Jesus, mom!

I probably would have ended up dating handsome young men from the Atheneum or the Gymnasium, but I'm sure that's something she would have understood.

As for smoking a pipe, that would have been a foregone conclusion.
I always was a stubborn cuss, and would have been far more so as a girl. Likely to have asked the tobacconist when I bought my first briar "don't you have anything that doesn't stink like cheap candy?!?"

Might well have scared the poor man no end.
I would not have tried aromatics.
No matter how femmy.

Proper women read books, smoke good tobacco if at all, and have a preference for strong coffee or tea. And, just like proper men, fervently dislike sports, jocks, oafs, and the suburban life-style.

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Yesterday was intoxicating. Not because of booze (a very small shot of Jameson's, with some tap water), nor because of the double helping of cake and ice-cream for dinner -- it had been my birthday on Thursday, which my apartment mate celebrated with me on Friday with prezzies, cake, ice cream, and a box of bonbons, what with Thursday being a work day from which I returned home late -- nor, remarkably because a drunken or crazy person in a doorway yelled words of empowerment at me ("hey faggot, don't you dare come near me!"), but because of tobacco.

Please note that the empowering phrase cited above strongly suggests TWO things: 1) he's immensely threatened by my blazing masculinity, and 2) this blogger has the magic power to scare random people. He could've also been offended by my pink Hello Kitty backpack, in which I carry smoking equipment and a selection of tobaccos on work days.
Hello Kitty emasculates fragile flowers.

On Thursday, Joe from Laudisi brought by some tobaccos for the pipe club. One of the tins being Gregory Pease's Regents Flake. After having one bowl, I decided to take a little home for further sampling.

I stuffed fully one third of the tin into a plastic bag.

Friday I only smoked one pipe, fairly late in the day, when the tobacco hangover from nine pipes enjoyed on Thursday had finally worn off.
None of the Greg Pease stuff.

Saturday morning it started raining.

It was a slow day.


I had five bowls of Regents Flake.

Manufactured by Cornell & Diehl

Blurb: "A generous measure of fine Izmir leaf is layered on a sturdy foundation of mature red and sweet bright Virginia tobaccos, then pressed and allowed to mature and ferment in cakes before being sliced and tinned. This is one for the lover of Oriental mixtures, with their exotic and enticing incense-like aroma and brilliant flavour. Rub up a flake or two, fill a cherished pipe, and prepare for an exceptional smoking experience."

Very good stuff. Somewhat perfumy, due to the interaction of the Turkish tobacco with the Virginias. It's a solid tobacco, and quite one of the most enjoyable Virginia and Turkish melanges I have ever tasted. Often I find such blends to be pallid; this one satisfies in ways that are hard to describe. Yes, I swilled tea all day, in between sticking my head into the lounge to make snarky comments at cigar-smokers and stir up sh*t, but it wasn't from over-stimulation, but rather a sense of patronizing bonhomie.

[Thought: "You poor repulsive sods, all you have is penis objects, but I have a pipe, and this is some purely wonderful stuff, which you guys will never taste!"]

It's hard to resist such splendid tobacco. It is figgy, and smells degenerately refined. No idea what anyone's significant other would think of it. My own ex-significant other would probably disapprove -- she once came bustling out of her room at three in the morning to tell me to smoke the dead rat up at the abandoned church with all the other unwashed crazy people -- but it is quite possible that I could indulge in this product safely around sensitive souls. More Virginia than Turkish. Grassy, pale, silken, intensely happy-making, and possessed of balance and alluring subtlety.
At least I hope I could.

They will damned well have to put up with it.
This should age exceptionally well.
I am resolved to have more.

By the way, I expect Joe to give my regards to Mary and Kaz.
I wonder if they've tried this stuff yet.

The pipe club meeting lasted from pasta at lunch to whiskey around midnight. Much was discussed, in small groups that wandered around admiring Savinellis. There was wine and cheese, but my access was blocked by mobs of people, and I would have had to be more perfectly social to wade through them. The only wine I had that evening was what seeped into a cut from a broken bottle outside on the veranda.

Other than appreciating Savinelli pipes, I'm not sure the pipe club meeting actually had an agenda. If there was one, it escaped me. The president left fairly early, and several people flung money around in a frenzy.

It was a success.


My apartment mate, who is also my ex significant other, in addition to gifties gave me a birthday card. In it she wrote: "Dear Toad, Happy birthday to a gentleman and really nice person." (signed: 'Poot')
Yes, I'm rather pleased. It's nice to be thought well of, by someone of whom one likewise thinks very well.
A toad. A gentlemanly person. And a not particularly objectionable sort, all things considered.


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Saturday, October 15, 2016


A few people have wondered why I no longer discuss politics with them, though on occasion that subject is mentioned in conversation. And they may be somewhat aware of my snide intemperance on this blog.
I still avidly talk about such matters, albeit selectively.
They do too. But I refrain from responding.

It's a question of sanity.

At times I will drop a jab in the cigar lounge to taunt the old kackers. That happens rarely now, and I will try to limit it even more the closer we get to Trumpnik Riot Day (which will probably occur on Wednesday, November 9th.). The cigar bar is, as you would expect, also no longer quite so fond a part of my regular ronda.

"One must not argue with idiots, for they will drag you down to their level ... "
--- Mark Twain, allegedly.

"He may look like an idiot and talk like an idiot but don't let that fool you; he really is an idiot."
--- Grouch Marx, also allegedly.

I do not talk politics with my ex-girlfriend (helpmeet and companion for many years, still a good friend), but even when we were together I never did so. She is not as obsessed as I am, but I'm glad that we think so much alike. She too fervently wishes for the resounding defeat of the indecent bloat-faced pustule currently representing the dark side.

She has a far greater investment in seeing him go down in flames, as she is female, and of an ethnic minority background. I am white, male, and of an acceptable Protestant derivation, so theoretically it means less to me.

She considers Trump and his fanclub to be a disease.
A veritable plague, vipers on two legs.
I do not disagree at all.

Like many people, I celebrate the ongoing self-immolation of the GOP, which since the fifties transformed itself from a relatively benign social phenomenon into an Alien-like Predator hostile to humans.

Today's Republicans are stark-raving batshit. An evil cabal. There is no other way to describe them. They have become the party of narrowmindedness, religious rigidities, and fear.

They are not fit company.

I fervently hope that current events will cause them to decline, and fade even more from any possible relevance. The current poisonous effect of Trump's candidacy, Teapartyism, and the insane religious rantings of Pat Robertson (et genus idem serpentium), proves that these are not people who can be reasoned with, relied upon, or even trusted.

These folks are all Americans, and very American.
But they are completely un-American.

It's awfully white of them.

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Friday, October 14, 2016


The other day I had breakfast just before evening. Which should not surprise you; the typical bachelor doesn't get out of his comfy den till late, when it is a day off. Like, around tea-time. The Wing Hing Bakery around five-ish. An egg-custard tart, and a barbecue pork turnover. Flaky deliciousness, washed down with a hot (and yummy) milk-tea.

Now the thing is that I had been having hot beverages and a smoke since early morning. Had a long luxurious bath, went out to buy footpowder and a dozen rolls of bumwad (yay! we can poo again!), and had another smoke, more hot beverage.

Finished the book I was reading, and decided that the company of other sentient beings of the bipedal variety might be a jolly good thing.

I am not a freak. I feel that I should mention that.
Reading is a perfectly natural thing to do.
It alleviates hunger marvelously.
Didn't even notice.

At Wing Hing a little bespectacled girl was intently observing the old white woman who was arguing with herself. Normally little girls look at all the good things to eat -- it's a view both precious and intriguing to even the most intelligent tyke -- but it isn't every day that one can examine an entirely out-of-it antique ghost devil, so one must enjoy the sight while one can. Two other little girls came in, and soon also became fascinated.

The old lady didn't notice them at all.
She was deep in conversation.
With herself.

Adult Chinese folks know to not ever look directly at crazy whitey, because crazy whitey looks back. And reacts badly to eye-contact. Just pretend you don't notice the peculiar gibbering, dear, and select a pastry.
This is San Francisco. Many of "them" are unhinged.
It's a very white thing, apparently.
Free range eccentricity.

One of the little girls also looked at me. I never know what to do when that happens. Should I flap my coat and endeavor to lift off? Do I pretend that my hand is a dog, and about to pee against my teacup?
My pinky extends out, like a tiny hind leg ...

I try not to look back. One should avoid eye-contact with tiny persons.
One never knows what they will do next. Or how they will react.

A child once accused me of staring at her bag of jujubes.
I hadn't, and I felt quite unjustly maligned.
I usually avoid candy.

The little girls all left eventually, and the old white woman drifted off too. When the German tourists got up, I was the only customer in the place. The waitress remarked that my Cantonese was excellent, and asked if I could also write. Yes I can, because if I couldn't write, how could I read all the words on the pastry display?

I am not a freak.

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Thursday, October 13, 2016


The worst are the Lord Of The Rings types. They always want a long churchwarden pipe to complete their 'image', and then they'll stuff an aromaticized tobacco that no one with a shred of taste or decency would smoke into it. Many of them also have eccentric hair.

Look, Buster, a pipe is NOT a style accessory.
Even while playing dungeons and dragons.
Or any other role playing game.

But for them it doesn't have to be a nice churchwarden, well-made, of good quality briar. It's just a prop, and consequently many of them will simply buy a crappy twelve dollar Eastern European pearwood pipe.
And the tobacco MUST smell Elvish, or Middle-Earthian.

[There's a product called 'Hobbit Weed' that capitalizes on that; two parts Black Cavendish Aromatic (vanilla), one part Lane's Very Cherry, and one part Sutliff 1M (more vanilla). If that does not please them, they will probably try 'Coffee-Toffee'. What matters is the visual of them being Tolkienesque.]

If there was such a place as The Shire, with hairy legged short people and visiting magicians, it would have a general store.

That also carried tobacco.

No, not any aromatics. No 'Peaches 'n Cream', 'Vanilla-toffee Cavendish', 'Mango Melba Blend', or 'Chocolate Whiskey Torte'.


Capstan (a good reliable flake), Rattrays (a dozen very decent blends, from full Oriental to old-fashioned Virginias), a few Wessex tins, a few Dunhills, some McClellands and Greg Pease mixtures, Samuel Gawith products, and about a dozen others. Latakia blends, matured flue-cured tobacco with Perique, sliced coins. If you cannot find something worth smoking in that selection of thirty or so very nice tobaccos, maybe you are just not trying.
Too damned picky and fruity-looped perhaps?
A queer fish, with lousy tastes?

Mixture 79? Cherry?


Your tea is probably fruit-flavoured too. And there is a Halloween syrup in your Starbucks frappy.

You know, years ago people looked askance at tattoos and piercings.
You'll probably regret those when you finally grow up. Care to guess what old-age, saggy wrinkles, and liver spots, do to a highly individualistic multi-coloured Japonesque dragon?

Gandalf The Grey would assuredly rip your sophomoric icky-poo pretentiousness all to shreds.

He drank his coffee black and bitter, hated rooibos pumpkin spice tea or cinnamon-apple nectar, and smoked Samuel Gawith Black XX twist or Brown Rope No. 4. Because that was all he could get when travelling among the savage Orcs and Maoris. And that cheap-ass common clay churchwarden was only because he couldn't pack his lovely Upshalls, Sasienis, Charatans, or Castellos. Certainly not the prized silver banded GBD Rhodesian, nor the Patent Number Dunhills, or the Comoy London Prides and Blue Ribands.

When all this is over, he is going to retire to someplace where there are no buggery hobbits, chuck the churchwarden on the compost heap, pull out a Republic-Era Peterson, and smoke Gawith's Best Brown Flake, Golden Glow, or Full Virginia. Maybe even Orlik's Golden Sliced.

He's also going to get a haircut and trim the bushy beard. Because he's sick and tired of looking like an artist or a hippie.

And dress like you're normal, for crap's sake!

Pipe club meeting coming up.
Should be interesting.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2016


Much of my present tastes derive from growing up in the hinterlands of Brabant in a house with a huge number of books. One is not far from the modern world there, but the world is, conveniently, at arms length. Literally. I knew what was going elsewhere, and had a fair impression of trends and cultural developments. The T'ang Dynasty, sculptures by Henry Moore, Francis Bacon's paintings, operas by Brecht and Weill .....

When my family moved to Holland, my parents packed all of their books along, and once settled, started ordering from shops in civilization that shipped abroad.

There was only one local bookstore -- Priem's -- which had mostly stuff in Dutch, and a very small selection in French, German, and English.
I spent innumerable hours within, happily reading hidden behind the stacks. I'm sure they knew what I was doing, but as long as you leave the literature unstained and undamaged, and are quiet and well-behaved, bookstores rather approve of you exercising your literacy.
Yes, I also spent money there.

Adolescents did not used to have much in the way of funds. And some of that had to go for pipe tobacco, and the occasional tin of tea. The tobacco seller next door to Priem's was not quite satisfactory, and I soon gravitated toward a small but more pleasant place further down the Eindhovensche Weg, where the owner opportunistically sold me all the English tobacco he carried. Mostly Balkan Sobranie mixture, a brief interruption for some Dunhill blends, and, once in a blue moon, something Danish and rather steamed.
I looked forward to my weekly visit; there is something just so appealing and comforting about a fresh full tin. One really does feel on top of the world when cracking it open, stuffing a load into a pipe, and lighting up. Full pot of hot tea on the table, crisp newspapers, one light on, and total quiet in the building, while the weather blatters and blasts on the street outside.

For years I convinced myself that I was social. Now I have realized that while I like people around me, I do not want to talk to most of them.

All I really want, most of the time, is to be inside with a pipe, a beverage and a snack if possible, and for the loud and unpleasant people to be outside in the rain.

Maybe a spot of sherry or Scotch, later.

San Francisco provides fractions of all of that. Last night the air was rich with moisture. Not really fog, so much as apathetic precipitation, which rendered one damp upon returning in the wee hours.
Earlier in the evening I had dined on roast duck over rice at the Kam Po, followed by a pipe while wandering along Stockton, then down Washington to Walter Lum Place. By that time most of the real stores had closed, leaving just the souvenir emporia open for the lumbering tourists.

The bookstore just below Grant used to be open till nine in the evening. Now they shut down at six. One can no longer browse as late, nor buy several newspapers to read at a nearby bakery or chachanteng.
If shopping for literacy, shop early.

Chinatown is changing, but it is still sweet. One can get a hot cup of milk tea, and one or two places are open in the evening for the old men who need to buy a fresh pack of smokes after dark. Double Happiness Brand, or Longevity in the black packs. Two liquor stores; if you need some clear liquor or faatiu shaohsing wine, we can do that.
The latter tastes remarkably like sherry.

Under the light near the playground, old people are still playing cards.

I did not go visit the parrots in Sue Bierman Park.

One cannot see them at night.

Whenever I think of Valkenswaard, it's almost always of fallen leaves.
At present the weather has become more autumnal in San Francisco. Darkness comes earlier, evenings are cool, verging on cold. The rainy season is almost upon us, sooner than expected. I hope it downpours for the next few months, and washes away all the e-commerce yuppies. They need to go back to that "elsewhere" in the country where they came from.
These are folks who dress funny and eat too much.
Their presence is not salubrious.

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