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.

Monday, July 16, 2018


When you hear four cigar-smoking gentlemen discussing how they don't see colour or ethnicity, they judge people entirely on their own merits, for the benefit of a black visitor also smoking a cigar, there are two possible courses of action. One is to step into the lounge and calmly explain to them precisely why, even though three quarters of them are undoubtedly sincere, they sound like they're full of horse feathers.

The other response is to stick one's head in and loudly proclaim that the only logical basis for judging any human is how well marbled they are.

You can probably guess which approach I chose.

I've changed tea recently, and instead of Pu Er at work, I am now drinking a nice green from Hangzhou. It's more or less a Dragon Well, but at a far more reasonable price.
Consequently, I spent the entire day high as a kite on caffeine.

At present, having finished dinner, I am having a cup of coffee, after which the open road beckons. A pipeful of Dunhill Dark Flake in a suitable briar, and a friendly public house just two short blocks away.
Maybe an extra pipe in my coat pocket.
Don't have to work tomorrow.
Need sane people.


NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.


A brief survey of the neighborhood last night indicated that staying out for a prolonged period, even at the friendly neighborhood public house I favour, was contra-indicated. Despite their anniversary fiesta
Just too much "stuff" in the air.

Item one: a carload of women dressed like filles de joie (i.e.: trashy hoes) parking, then staggering down the block screeching. I am not entirely sure whether their clothing choices were well-thought out or meant ironically.

Item two: a flock of drunken bicyclists. One of them with a boom box.

Item three: biggest completely fake breasts ever, that being a cross dresser making a statement with those completely unbelievable augmentitits under his sweater. He seemed unstable.

Item four: very loud dance party with trashy people at a local bar, blocking the sidewalk between Clay and Washington on Polk.

Item Five: tattooed heathens. A rather large number of them. You know the type: scrawny build and a narrow drug-addict face, bright eyes, pallid skin.

Item six: a young lady wearing an oversize French flag. And nothing else.

Yes, Eric, the augmentititted person was the one that staggers your eyes every Sunday evening. But he may have had more to drink last night than normal, what with the French winning the cricket championships this year. Which could also explain the rest of the items on the list. Like everyone,
I associate filles de joie with celebrations of national manhood.
As well as wiry methfreaks and heroin junkies.

I smoked my pipe mostly on my own front steps.

In that time I heard police sirens.

Many times.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.

Sunday, July 15, 2018


Somewhere in this neighborhood lives a father with an unusual nickname for his infant. Before they came into view, I thought he meant his dog.

"Come along, Poopster, you can do it."

Kid's walking already, but probably not aware of the connotations of his nickname. Assuming that his dad will stop using it when he's finally housebroken, he need never know.

Unless there is video.


Anyhow, I think that is quite charming -- Poopster, hee hee -- and I am very glad cell-phones didn't exist when I was a child.

Cute looking kid. Happy, smiling, and determinedly locomoting up the hill in a rather steady waddle. Delightful.

The Poopster.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.


It's quite obvious by now that the two biggest threats to the free world are bone spurs and giant orange buttplugs. Even Theresa May has finally realized that.
Golf, while horrible, is a distant third.

This blogger proposes napalming golf courses, because doing so might eradicate the first two problems. I have a list of resorts with which to start.

Fake bronze dink spigot

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.

Saturday, July 14, 2018


Like many people, when I think of Canadian cuisine, I think of Tim Hortons, strange inedible pizza, Indian food, and seal chops in a port-wine reduction, perhaps with a side of pommes frites.

Plus poutine.

From Wikipedia: "Poutine is a dish originating from the Canadian province of Quebec consisting of French fries and cheese curds topped with a brown gravy. The dish emerged in the late 1950s in the Centre-du-Québec area and has long been associated with the cuisine of Quebec. For many years, it was negatively perceived and mocked and even used as a means of stigmatization against Quebec society. Later, poutine became celebrated as a symbol of Québécois cultural pride ... "

Poutine is pretty darn good.

It came as a shock to me that my apartment mate had NEVER even seen the Swedish Chef from the Muppet Show making poutine. It's one of those clips which have become classics. Essential viewing for someone like her who is passionately into food, as well as a muppet-fan from way back.



Lutherans have fried chicken and lutefisk as a sacrament, the rest of us will happily settle for poutine. Church suppers, bingo nights, building the congregation, winning possible converts. Poutine.

Soggy fries covered with Cheez Whiz is NOT a substitute.
Neither is tortilla chips, Cheez Whiz, salsa.
Except perhaps in Texas.

Please note that a proper brown gravy has meat juices from cooking, stock, roux, ground pepper, and a pinch of thyme, plus nutmeg or mace. And, if you have it handy, a splash of red wine, port, or sherry. The aim is smooth hot savory depth. Not a pallid brownish pourable starchy glop.

Adding a little garlic is also excellent.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.

Friday, July 13, 2018


For the past few days I've been getting too many cat videos on Facebook, probably because of tinkering by programmers. While the geeks may be brilliant, they do not understand human interaction. Hitting "like" underneath cat videos does not mean I want OR need to see a hundred more of them.

It may surprise some Java-types that cats are not the be all and end all.
But I assume that C and C++ already suggest felines to them.
They can't help themselves. They like cats.
Gracious, doesn't everybody?

There are also rabbit videos and otter videos, but fewer people film their rabbits or otters, and the programmers aren't really into those creatures, because they cannot comprehend the paradigm.
Parrots, only sometimes.
And pet rats.

Real humans require more than animal videos. They also need meaningful content, like food pictures.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.


Having napped nearly till the closing time of bars in San Francisco, there was no opportunity to go hang out in front of the neighborhood pub I favour with my pipe and some fine Virginia tobacco. So I made do with a Sumatra Panalito from Hajenius and low-grade Scotch whisky in the kitchen, before heading to the teevee room and switching on my computer.

On the CNBC website I read: "The significance of a meeting with the British monarch at Windsor Castle is that Trump follows in the footsteps of Ronald Reagan in 1982, Geroge W. Bush in 2008 and Barack Obama in 2016."

Geroge? Geroge? Oh well, Misspellings are common nowadays, ever since Doland Prumt made them acceptable again. And CNBC will have probably corrected their article by the time you read this.

The true significance of tea with the queen is that she has a long history of putting up with cretins in the interests of diplomacy. Mobutu (1973), Bob Mugabe (1994), and Basher Al Assad (2002), among others.
Some real right bastards.

But the key thing is the tea. For the benefit of those readers who are slope-browed illiterates in the red states, I should explain that tea has acquired mythic stature since an anarchist mob dumped it into the harbour.


English style: Rinse the pot with boiling water, then add a copious amount of Ceylon, Darjeeling, Assam, Kenya, or a blend of black teas to the pot. Pour in boiling or nearly boiling water, of which you should keep an equal measure hot and handy in a separate vessel. Steep for five minutes.
Pour, and dilute as required. Add milk OR sugar.
Both, if you rebel against convention.
Perhaps eat a slice of cake.
Cucumber sandwich.

Indian Style: Boil mediocre tea leaves with cardamom and one or two other spices. In parts of Gujarat, that might be peppercorns. Ginger is universally loved, a stick of cinnamon is common, northerners add fennel. Add milk and sugar, decant to a cup and saucer, OR a stainless steel beaker.

Hong Kong Style: Fill a handled cloth sleeve with a blend of rose black, Ceylon, and perhaps Keemun or Yunnan Gold Tips. Simmer for twenty minutes. Pull the sleeve out and lower it back in to the liquid several times during this process to release the very fine particles into the brew that contribute so much to mouth-feel. Keep on low heat throughout the day (four hours, then you'll probably have to make another pot). Add a measure of sweetened condensed milk when pouring into a cup.
Have with an egg-tart, charsiu turnover.
Or porkchop on spaghetti.

American Style. Dump a bag into lukewarm water.
Eat a gluten-free blueberry kale muffin.

I-Hsing pot/ Kung Fu tea: Take a red or purple stoneware pot smaller than your hand, fill three quarters full with semi-fermented tea leaves. Pour water which is just barely not boiling into the pot, drain after roughly a minute. This washes and expands the leaves, and warms the pot. Then add more water of same temperature definition to the pot, steep for a minute, pour into small bowls, and sip. Four to eight steepings are possible, each one longer than the previous. All of you will be wired afterwards.

Because the pot is unglazed it will acquire both colour and a contributive flavour over years of use.

Southern Style. Steep one teabag in several gallons of water. Remove the bag and pour in pounds of sugar. Serve over ice.

Starbucks/Chain Coffee Bar style. Chant mantras, add unicorn powder.

Personally, I prefer Hong Kong milk-tea, although both the English and Indian brews make me quite happy. And regarding I-Hsing teapots, my modest collection (around thirty exemplars) reflects good taste, generally speaking. Some of them are antiques, a few are modern, mostly with a bamboo motif in the decoration or shaping. One or two are vulgar and pretentious.

On a daily basis I dump Pu Er Chrysanthemum teabags from Foo Joy into a mug of boiling water five or six times a day. It keeps me wired and hydrated while dealing with people.
I need that.

Second Dutch cigar, at 4:21 AM: Sumatra Tuitknakje from Oud Kampen.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.

Thursday, July 12, 2018


Several months ago one of my favourite eateries was sold. The English name is still the same, but instead of dimsum and a few pastries, plus boba tea for teenagers, they now do food cooked to order. No more service counter and steamers but much more seating and tables. It's an altogether newer and cleaner restaurant, with a modernized cooking area.
Naturally I was displeased.

This upset the natural order of things, and threw the universe out of whack. No, I did not decide to boycott them till the end of time, angry that the best pork siumai and cheungfan in C'town had disappeared. The old lady that ran the place, whose arthritic fingers had made these treats, had retired, and the new people offered a different menu.

So a few weeks after they opened I tried them.
I've been back several times since.

Just ONE complaint: their customer base consists almost entirely of home town folks (meaning Toishanese), boring-ass white people, and Filipinos. Which means that they do not have a bottle of San Francisco's preferred condiment anywhere on the premises.
There is no Sriracha there.

Yesterday afternoon when I wandered in there were more tourists inside than Cantonese folks. Which at this time of year is not entirely surprising, and the new owners speak somewhat better English than auntie, auntie, and auntie did, so they're much more capable of satisfying white folks and sending them off happy. They speak to me in Cantonese, but I also leave happy.
Good food. Attention to detail. Enjoyable ambiance.
It cost altogether less than ten dollars.
That included the tip.

Yeah, they really should acquire several bottles of Sriracha, because standard old-fashioned chili pepper fry oil (辣椒油 'laat jiu yau', or simply 辣油 'laat yau') just doesn't cut it. But who's complaining? The white folks are happy, because they got good food at a good price. And the Toishanese customers are happy, because they got good food. At a good price.
The odd Filipino is happy too.

Garlic sauce eggplant, for which the Chinese name 魚香茄子 ('yü heung ke ji') really means 'fish fragrance eggplant', though there is no seafood in it, in its native terrain (Sichuan) would be somewhat spicy, and contains as major flavouring ingredients garlic, ginger, chilies, doubanjiang (豆瓣酱 'dau baan jeung'), vinegar, sugar, and lots of scallion. The chilies, abundantly present, would be dried peppers fried for their enticing toasty taste, and the sauce made by adding everything else would by spicy-hot, tangy, and slightly sweet. But always with that underlying pepperiness.

Hometown Cantonese just don't do that.

Their version veers towards savoury, has no hint of heat, and incorporates mushrooms and small pork pieces, but no doubanjiang at all that I can tell.
I knew what to expect -- Cantonese standardly "reinterpret" Sichuanese or American cuisine to match their ideas of what food should be -- and it was precisely what I needed.


I shan't mention its name or divulge the location unless I meet you in real life, because I do not want strangers to flock in and ruin their reputation by sneering on Yelp about perceived (id est: imagined) flaws. While I was enjoying my meal several Toishanese picked up food to go.
They know the place, and they're quite happy.

A young white woman also came in for take-out food.
She knows the place and is happy.

I am happy.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.


Wednesday, July 11, 2018


Last night, after watching scenes of madness and frenzy at our favourite haunt in Chinatown, the bookseller and myself headed over the hill, and chatted a bit before parting. It is a tradition of many years. We had seen things that did not make sense, and even though the Chinese customers had been wild, even somewhat frenzied, it had been the kwailo that displeased us with their behaviour.

Screaming. Vulgarity, foul language, and crude outbursts.
Displaying cleavage, and serenading.

Some songs should not ever be sung at a karaoke bar by groups of drunken Caucasians. Fortunately, their renditions were so gawdawful that they could not be recognized, which prevented one from hating those ballads even more than one already did.

Anything by John Denver, Elton John, and The Beatles.

Also Abba, Madonna, and Lady Gaga.

Weird Chinese Country Western, with a musical accompaniment that sounds like Taiwanese Hokkien styling from the seventies, though the lyrics are in Mandarin, is not as bad as you might think, and Jenny has a good voice. When I walked past earlier, she had been singing a patriotic aire originally performed by a mainland singer in a military uniform.
It was fairly average saccharine.
A Tankie hymn.

When I got home I lit up a pipe, and went out onto the front steps, finally going back in shortly after four A.M.

What pipe tobacco is perfect for the mind after witnessing staggering fury?

I am so glad you asked!

Dunhill Deluxe Navy Rolls. Composed of fine Virginias with a measure of Perique, in a tight coin slice. As with many smokes enjoyed in the silence long after midnight, I used a silver banded GBD squat bulldog. Years ago in Berkeley I would fill it on summer evenings with Bengal Slices, pour myself a glass of sherry, and sit in darkness near the open window.
I hardly smoked it at all when I lived in North Beach.
And then only at the Caffe Trieste.

And, pursuant pipes and their associated times and places, let me disquisition (waffle on) a bit.


Item ONE: The pipe for watching rats in Spofford Alley.
Which is a small Comoy-made billiard that I loaded up last night before meeting the bookseller. It may be older than I am, but I acquired it roughly when I stopped listening to Cantonese Opera coming from the basement on Waverly in the evening. Spofford Alley until recently had a thriving colony of likable rodents, courtesy of the local garbage service, which did not deign to collect there. The rats have, sadly, been eradicated -- perhaps the prospect of bubonic plague prompted the city to act -- and the alley has now been repaved, with lovely grey stones in a pattern the tourists are sure to admire.
Virginia mixtures, Dunhill Flake.

Item TWO: The pork chop pipe.
A battered bulldog made for Amphora in Holland. Which recalls Beckett Street, cold weather, the spiders' hidden bakery, and very nice porkchops. Oh, plus hot Hong Kong style milk tea.

Beckett Street for several weeks this spring was plagued by a serial poo man, who, and I'm purely speculating here, would sometime between dark and dawn do his business two feet away from the curb, and spaced an exact distance from his previous deposit.
He (I assume it's a male) is not doing so anymore. I hope the locals finally beat the crap out of him.

Item THREE: The dark Canadian for after milk tea.
An old battered sandblast, Comoy off-brand. Dunhill Dark Flake and other deep Virginias, smoked during horrid weather in winter while sheltering under overhangs on Walter Lum Place and on Pacific Street. If it wasn't raining, on Wentworth ("Salted Fish Alley"), and up in Hang Ah.
There is no tennis or volley ball in Willie 'Woo Woo' Wong during the cold weather, and the bums have mostly left.

Item FOUR: Hardcastle sandblast black poker.
Not one of my favourite shapes by a wide margin, and I didn't smoke this pipe for several years after purchase. I finally lit it up in 2011 on a cold wet day, and kicked myself for not breaking it in earlier. The reason I bought it was because a pipe from the same company and era was so wonderful.

This briar brings back Dunbar and Dorchester, by Esoterica -- two excellent Virginia mixtures which are similar in some ways to Dunhill Elizabethan and most of the pale blends in Greg Pease's Fog City Collection -- as well as, very fondly and intensely recalled, grilled pork rice stick noodle soup (燒猪肉河粉 'siu chü yiuk ho fan') with iced Vietnamese coffee (凍越南咖啡 'tung yuet naam ka fei'). Plus bittermelon pork (豉汁涼瓜炒肉片 'si jap leung gwaa chaau yiuk pin') and fish flavour eggplant (魚香茄子'yü heung ke ji').
Which are all delicious.

Ross Alley, Waverly, Commercial Street, and Hotaling Place.
Near the Hakka Social Club, and Lam Kaa Kong-so.
Quiet Sundays, which I don't have now.
My schedule is different.

Item Five: Benton natural Canadian.
All manner of blends. Purchased from Grant's when I was still down in the financial district, often smoked at the spot on Sansome Street where cigar and pipe smokers congregate. Now mostly associated with Stockton Street and little egg tarts, or bittermelon and fish collops over rice at either one of two hospitable eateries.

I put the Hardcastle poker (#4) in my bag several times over the past few weeks, intending to smoke it at work. Never got around to filling it, though.
I think I'll smoke it today after tea time.
Stone Street, and Trenton.


NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018


Over on Facebook a friend (whom I also know in the real world) plaintively stated that after several years of glopping sour cream on everything, he no longer likes the stuff. Several other people expressed concern, and offered theories. Remarkably, I am fascinated by the ongoing discussion.

Yeah, no, my own theory got shot out of the water.
The circumstances did not co-operate.
It was too sudden.

In case you were wondering, space aliens had absolutely nothing to do with it, and he doesn't have any weird ideologically based dietary affectations. Creeping veganism or gluten heresy are not part of his programme.
He just doesn't like sour cream anymore.

A few brave souls suggested that age was responsible, which prompted squawks of outrage from the smetana-phobe, and while that may indeed be the case, I certainly shan't say so. The last time I mentioned creeping antiquity to him, he called me a bitch and mentioned that he was still very, very young, had no arthritis AT ALL, and voted Democrat.
And that in comparison, I was a fossil.

I think I still like sour cream. I had it in my burrito a few days ago. Carnitas, Spanish rice, cheese, salsa picante, sour cream, no beans, lovingly rolled in a tortilla de harina by the deft hands of a woman (or man, don't know) of a racial and ethnic derivation that made her (or him) hated by a large part of this country (where I will not go, and a pox upon them).

Indeed, one can get a burrito made by white persons. Even here in the Bay Area. But that chain has given food poisoning to so many people, so often, that one wonders how they are still in business. There just aren't enough racist Texans to account for it. Maybe it's the vegans and gluten-phobes?
There are NO substitutes for carnitas and sour cream.
Lard-free flour tortillas are kind of nasty.
Tofu is just not acceptable.

Well, tofu is quite acceptable if you are having it stuffed with shrimp paste, fatty pork, plus ginger and scallion, deep-fried, like civilized people. But not like a Berkeleyite. No amount of salsa picante can ameliorate that.

Fortunately sour cream plays scant role in Chinese and Vietnamese cuisine, and other than California sushi has no part in anything Japanese either.
So he can still dine socially.

Lucky bastard.

I hardly ever dine socially. Today I'll be going over to Chinatown for baked Portuguese chicken rice by myself. The portion is too generous, and I'll take some home in a small container afterwards. At that time of day the dining hall will not be crowded, so I'll dawdle a while before wandering the alleys smoking a pipe, and other than the occasional "howdy", will have no interaction with other people.

[唐人阜 ('tong yan fao'), 焗葡國雞飯 ( 'guk pou gwok gai faan'), 奶茶 ('naai cha').]

I'm still waiting for a bright young thing to strike up a conversation.
Perhaps complimenting my pipe, or asking for the time.
We can discuss existenzangst or dairy!

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.

Monday, July 09, 2018


Because someone flipped a double bird, Stephen Miller threw away eighty dollars worth of sushi the other day. He took offense at the bartender exercising freedom of speech. He should get used to it.

Per Marketwatch:

"Miller, 32, was picking up a takeout order from a restaurant near his City Center apartment in Washington, DC, when the barman followed him out into the street and shouted, “Stephen!” before making the rude gesture and cursing him out."


Allegedly he feared that someone had spit or taken a dump in his food.

And what IS this world coming to?

Boohoo, bitch.

Reasonable people would really not mind if they had to watch his intestines being extracted from his body with a rusty safety pin. Same goes for Sarah 'Red Chicken' Sanders, Kirstjen 'Taco Plate Special' Nielsen, and several other henchdogs of the Orange Pustule.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.


Two people I see regularly when I am at work are, in different ways, bat-shit crazy. Irritatingly so. One is an Irishman who passionately supports Trump, possibly because he was dropped on his head as a child, and may have fried his brain in other ways as a young lad in Dublin -- where brain-frying is both frightfully common and frighteningly easy -- and he's also just not very bright. The other one lost his marbles when he lost his wife, and may or may not be medicated, which isn't helping.

Let us not discuss the rabid Trumpite; that's probably just a long fit of brain fever, and there's still a little hope for him yet.

It's a long shot.

Tin Foil Hat Steve (TFHS), however, is quite committable.

He's presently convinced that the United States has left the United Nations, the Clintons are in cahoots with Putin, that Senator Dianne Feinstein wants Roe vs Wade repealed, and that I am too much of a Rothschild to be much use in the long battle for Justice, Righteousness, and Beauty.

Well, I wouldn't be much use anyway in his struggle.

It amused me that someone who claimed his mother was Jewish last week now thinks I am too Jewish and, therefore, in his estimation, not reliable in the Truthy-Wuthy Crusade. Firstly, because I am not Jewish at all, merely somewhat Jewy, and secondly because he's so berserk that he wouldn't recognize truth if it bit him in his butt cheeks.

Still, I don't dislike him, and I'm probably the only person there that he can talk to. I am a forbearing sort. Many of the people I see at work would benefit from therapy, several really need electro-shock.
I sometimes wish I had a cattle prod.
Brrrzaaap, bitches!

I am by no means a saint.
But sometimes I am.

Two days off. Tuesday and Wednesday.
Let the mental health now begin.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.


Adding to the list of things that we as a country officially hate -- Puerto Rico, the environment, brown people, restrictions on industrial chemicals, and not for profit prisons -- there's breast feeding. Which is reprehensible.
Boobies, especially foreign boobies, are bad.

We've told other countries so.

Quote: "The US delegation threatened retribution on trade and military aid to Ecuador to get the nation to drop the resolution, according to the Times, and said at least a dozen countries also avoided the resolution out of fear of the US. Members of the delegation also suggested cutting US funding for the World Health Organization." End quote.

Source: NYT: US threatened nations over breastfeeding resolution

It's absolutely appalling what those foreigners do with breasts.
Nobody in the bible ever had mammary glands.
The Virgin Mary didn't have 'em.

There's no telling what such things lead to.


NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.

Sunday, July 08, 2018


As happens quite regularly, a group of very likable middle aged men, who are much more likable and young at heart than the cigar smokers present elsewhere in the building, gathered together for snacks and puffing.
Today was the appointed time for the meeting of the pipe club.
After a bit of nibbling, wine was poured and pipes were lit.
Soon fragrant smoke filled the air.

In all honesty, we need more women in our group. There are none at present.

For a brief while I joined them, to remind them of the time a curvy female in her twenties, just barely out of high school, stuck her tongue into Nick's ear. Despite being old enough to be her grandpapa, he's an irresistible chick magnet. And that time, he was glowing.

I have never glowed like that.

My ex once put her tongue in my ear. I found it a peculiar sensation.

Mind you, I am not opposed to lobe-licking in principle, and intellectually it has a certain appeal. But it needs to be planned ahead, and an appointment might be a good thing. And in any case, I prefer to see the other person's face, rather than having an invisible presence tongue me from the side, irrespective of curvy-ness and youth.
Oh! Wetness.

Opinions among our members may differ considerably on this issue.

We disagree gracefully.

With that in mind, I offer a few thoughts on some recent tobaccos. Feel free to disagree in the comments underneath this post. I shan't call you any names, nor curse you and your progeny, if you do.


A few of these are dubious, though undoubtedly well-made and composed of quality ingredients. I very much like the Cabbie's Mixture, and Bothy Flake also has its charms. Sam's Flake needs to right time.

Black Cavendish and bright Virginia, with a honey top-dressing. Ribbon cut. The bright is slightly dominant; the aroma is sweet and beguiling. The real honey flavouring is lightly applied, more noticeable to some than others.
Suitable for voracious readers.

BOTHY FLAKE [Originally made for the Kearvaig Pipe Club]
Pressed Virginias with a little Latakia and Scotch Whisky. No, it does NOT smell like a Scotsman's boxer shorts, there's nothing except hair under the kilt. Malty, fruity, tangy, with a hint of smokiness. Don't smoke fast, and you will be rewarded. Hot box it, and you're a fool.
Women may not like the aroma.

Note: a 'bothy' is some kind of primitive Caledonian lodgement out on the bog. Use it, but leave it as stocked when you depart as you found it.
Always carry a roll or two of bumwad in these parts.

Virginia and Perique, handrolled, then sliced in little roundels (curly cut).
Appealing and zesty, sweet, plummy. Can be smoked all day. Tastes profoundly like tobacco.
Medium body. Enjoyable. Reminiscent of the old Three Nuns, before the Danes bollicksed it up.
Unlike the Viking horror, there is no Burley in this.
Figgy, figgy, figgy, figgy.

CHOCOLATE FLAKE ['The Kendall Mayor's Collection']
Burleys, Latakia, and Virginia. Dark brown in colour and taste. A medium style English blend to some, a mild aromatic to others. Sweet thick creamy smoke. The hint of chocolate augments the Burley, and compliments the Latakia. Medium-mild. Balanced. Still, why?

Burley and Virginia shpritzed with cream, floral essences (roses?), almond, citrus, and stone fruits. The topping is surprisingly light, and though it does remind some people of their maiden aunt -- or her linen chest -- it can be very enjoyable in a summery way. Burns cool and clean, once dried.
Grassy, sweet. Medium bodied. Mild tobacco, strong scent.

Fire-cured Kentucky with Virginia. A strong broken flake.
Leathery, earthy, woody, and slightly tart. The room note is powerful.
Cool-smoking, full-bodied. Almost one-dimensional.
Like 1792, but without the old lady perfume.

SAM’S FLAKE ['The Kendall Mayor's Collection']
Virginias and Turkish tobacco, steam-pressed then sliced, with a light tonquin dressing. Sweet and yeasty, with an earthiness. Floral, but the tonquin is scarcely noticeable.
The flue-cured leaf (from Africa) is dominant.
Mild. Hay-like.

Others on offer for a while: 1792 Flake, Brown No. 4, Commonwealth, Full Virginia Flake, Grousemoor, Navy Flake, Perfection, Saint James Flake, Squadron Leader.
They are out of Best Brown and Golden Glow. Possibly because I now have most of it.

In addition to flakes and smoky Oriental blends, some eccentric assayed a Burley mixture, and a few members brandished Havana cigars, courtesy of one of the Michaels. And I know for a fact that Penzance was enjoyed.

As usual, I talked smack about Molto Dolce, which is a dark oily aromatic that positively reeks of indiscretion, never dries out, and does weird and unpleasant things to your mouth and possibly your regenerative organs.
People who smoke it habitually should not breed.

I think we can call the meeting a success.
Despite the absence of ladies.


NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.


It's a big brain, a very big brain. It's the best. He has the best brain, and it's big, so big. It hurts sometimes, how big it is. It could be used for basketball, or hockey. All of the sports! It's beefy. Like an aged steak.

Our president, whom we elected, spoke recently to the ecstatic crowd in Montana. Speech, believe me, a great speech, possibly the greatest.

Among many things, the passage below stands out.
It is filled with the nectar of truth.
Truthy juices.

"I have broken more Elton John records. He seems to have a lot of records. And I, by the way, I don’t have a musical instrument; I don’t have a guitar or an organ. No organ. Elton has an organ. And lots of other people helping. No we’ve broken a lot of records. We’ve broken virtually every record. Because you know, look I only need this space. They need much more room. For basketball, for hockey and all of the sports. They need a lot of room. We don’t need it. We have people in that space. So we break all of these records. Really we do it without, like, the musical instruments. This is the only musical, the mouth. And hopefully the brain attached to the mouth. Right? The brain: more important than the mouth is the brain.
The brain is much more important.

------Donald Trump

One way to keep people out of that space, if, for instance, you need much more room, because you live with a non-smoker who might object to your lighting up a cigar in the kitchen, is to fry up a mess of bacon and chilies. Because you don't have an organ, otherwise you'd play John Elton songs.
It's a good thing she doesn't have a guitar.

"The brain: more important than the mouth is the brain."

Well, that's a fact right there.

The aroma of the bacon disguises the cigar odour, while the capsaicin in the air from the chilies keeps her out of the kitchen entirely. And it's healthy! With enough chilies, it's virtually a vegetarian dish, a tasty snack or warm salad. Especially if you add some mustard greens for both colour and a textural contrast.

I could have added bittermelon instead, for a flavour overload.
But I only had mustard greens in the crisper.

I broke all my Elton John records years ago.
They "fell" out of a window.
Both of them.


NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.

Saturday, July 07, 2018


The Dutch language, as you know, is essentially the northern version of Netherlandish, while Flemish, spoken in Belgium, is the southern variant. It's more complicated than that, but less. So naturally I am ecstatic that the Belgians whupped Brasil in the World Cup yesterday, and happily cheer the elimination of those damned samba-drumming deviants, the destruction of Latin American hopes and dreams this time around, and the ignominious defeat, destruction even, of their offensive offense.

Columbia, which has done nothing, NOTHING!, noteworthy ever, especially since the beginning of the cocaine trade, also leaves Moscow whimpering like a bunch of girlie men. Thank you, frogs.

I actually don't have a horse in this race. The Dutch and Americans weren't in it, and with Mexico also out, I cannot be bothered.

Evenso. Go Belgium.


Like the southern neighbor of the Netherlands, here in the United States we look on Mexico as a source of food, fun, and general all-round decency.
Hard workers, great tacos, and culturally superior to Texas.
Heck, everything is culturally superior to Texas.

What that makes Canada in this mental exercise I don't know, possibly the equivalent of either Croatia or England, but while chunks of rancid seal blubber undoubtedly resemble much of Balkan and British cooking, Poutine is actually quite edible, especially if you add Sriracha hot sauce, so the comparison doesn't really hold. Pico de gallo too.
They're decent countries, all three.

I am bothered by both the proximity and existence of Texas.
Smelly Christian mule humpers in trailer parks.
Married to their sisters.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.

Friday, July 06, 2018


Today I am resolved to have porkchops. On Wednesday I discovered to my dismay that both porkchopperies I like were observing the holiday.
And ended up eating something else instead.

Which was good, but it wasn't porkchop.

I almost never cook porkchop at home. I much prefer it in a bustling food establishment, arriving at my table hot and fragrant, with rice.
After the soup and Hong Kong Milk Tea.

I could post a recipe, but it would be too precisely inaccurate. Because much of cooking is not exact measurement, but proper timing and quick judgment.
And what if your cooking facilities are vastly different?

The person preparing chops in an out-kitchen, with ventilation by means of a missing wall, and scrub brush as the source of heat, will need a different plan than the suburbanite in a cool air-conditioned modern culinary laboratory.

You need a frying pan. Salt, pepper. Sauce materials of some sort.
Plus flour, starch, grease, liquid.

It should be a natural process.
Inspiration and zen.

Lamb chops are very similar, but one almost never finds lamb chops in a Chinatown restaurant. Which is a pity.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.


The plan was to have a short nap, after which I'd have the last smoke of the day at a friendly local establishment where the customers aren't flaming asshats (unlike the nearby karaoke joint), perhaps with a whiskey.
This required the nap to be two hours. Rather than five.
I guess I was exhausted.

A normal person does not get up at three thirty in the morning. And, seeing as there's nothing open except an all-night donut shop, I ain't going out, and will forgo a pipe. Instead I shall cruise upon the internet.

Which, in the Trump era, is not good.

I should mention, apropos of Trump and his repulsive fan club, that because of the way I speak English, on the Fourth of July someone told me to go back where I came from.

I was born in Los Angeles.

Five hours ago a carload of fine young men yelled at a friend, as they were driving by, "build the wall, build the wall".

He's from Detroit.

My apartment mate is Cantonese American, born here. Her daddy was Chinese from Texas. Do I need to mention what her mood has been like recently?

Several of my associates have been loudly reminded of their homosexuality in contexts where that was far less than relevant.
It's almost never relevant.

A few of my friends are Christians. Despite an almost overwhelming urge to do so, I have refrained from telling them to go back to Texas or Louisiana, or that they should be sexually brutalized by alligators before dying in Fema camps with their damned co-religionists. Because, even though this is Donald Trump's America, they are rather decent people.
And one just doesn't do stuff like that.

Besides, they are friends. Asshole behaviour should always be selective.

Most of the rest of you Christians, however, should move out of state. Or at least out of the city. If you subsequently end up violated by alligators and starving to death in camps in Texas or Louisiana, that's fine.
Oh, and stop marrying your cousins.
It's effing repulsive.

Post scriptum: Christians are combustible.
Plus soft and wet.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.


Wednesday, July 04, 2018


Instead of porkchops or Portuguese chicken, it was pickled vegetables and pork shreds over rice. My favourite chop houses were closed for the holiday, and Chinatown was filled with heffalumpish types from elsewhere in America, beefy and cornfed. With an urge to photograph.
Or ask ridiculous questions about everything.
Please stop asking questions.
Just don't.

It is all edible. Even for you.

And it does not take a herd.

As a middle-aged grumpy Dutchman who speaks Cantonese, I do not wish herds flocking slowly hither and yon when I go down to Chinatown. Local people, Cantonese-speaking, are preferred. Folks who are at home, rather than slumming in a "colourful" ghetto filled with remarkable sights to point at and of which to make a cellphone-selfie record. There are no freaks here.
Exclamations and googly eyes are not required.

*        *        *        *        *

I should have let on that I speak Cantonese earlier. Instead of startling the five charming old folks nearby. They had come in after I finished my meal and was still working on my milk tea, and because the only space was at the long centre table, they had sat down next to me to enjoy hot beverages and egg tarts. No, they weren't talking about white people, but discussing the bus service. The wait was so long! Holiday schedules! And while the distance was only half a dozen blocks, some of it was uphill.
Ah, old bones. It is indeed a bit of a trek.
I too had taken the bus instead.
Stiff legs, you know.

In answer to the questions of the delightful auntie to my left, I responded that I had lived in the city for several years, before that in Berkeley, and before then in Holland. No, not ever likely to move back; almost none of the people I knew are still in the same place, and I've put down roots here.

There was no need to mention that I'm originally American.
When I was an infant, we went overseas.
And the world changed.

I left before the conversation got too complicated.
Sometimes I am not social enough.
I regret that.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.


If you live in San Francisco, it is best to have an apartment mate to share expenses. And, for many rational people, it is a good idea to choose a small Cantonese woman, because they occupy far less space, and it is easier to move around cramped quarters. But it is not entirely ideal, as they can be surprisingly adept at both snark and insult.

The discussion this morning, when she finally emerged from her bedroom for her breakfast and a hot beverage, dealt with "Pregnant Barbie". Go ahead, use 'image search'. My eyeballs are seared. I'm now wondering what horrid things like that teach young girls about reproduction.
It's staggering.

This, naturally, leads to the toy-concept "interchangeable plastic foetuses". So that interracialism is given a nod. Little black, brown, and yellow babies, with their pointy plastic arses pointing into the sternum of the blonde spazzbrain doll. Which would upset folks in Mississippi and Texas.
"Your people, boy" in her words.

Good thing I'm already on my third cup of coffee.
I think I'm awake enough for this.

Afterwards while we were in the kitchen cleaning our utensils, we discussed bathroom needs. Who goes first, and how fast can you be. Now, being a middle-aged white man living with a non-smoker, naturally I prefer to take my own sweet time in there, before emerging fresh as a daisy nearly an hour later. So I explained "think of me as an old lady trying to give birth to a rhinoceros, or sumpin'." A vibrant mental image to match the various "Pregnant Barbie" dolls on the internet. Graphic visual metaphor.
The bathroom in the morning means quiet time, and a cigar.
A man must contemplate deep things in there.
It cannot be rushed.

First she informed me that for several years I've already been an old lady.
Or at least, she's thought of me like that.

I chased her out by mentioning that I was going to light up, which is why the kitchen window was wide open.

Moments later, she stuck her head back in to flippantly remark that I've been an old lady for fifty years.

Ten minutes afterwards she was using a stuffed animal to guilt-trip me about smoking. Apparently, if the small creatures end up smelling like tobacco fumes, they'll end up at the curb, with no one wanting to adopt them.
It will be heartbreaking. And all my fault.
Bucky Beaver weeps.

Yeah, okay, I feel very sorry for lighting up in the kitchen near the wide open window now. But I'm certainly going to do it again, just more circumspectly, like when she isn't in. And, despite her unkind old lady remarks, I need to stress that I am still young and spry.

It's a holiday, and she's off today. So I'll probably end up in Chinatown by myself for much of the afternoon, because everybody there has friends and relatives who still smoke -- heck, many of them actually are those friends and relatives who still smoke -- and no one objects to a fellow wandering around with a pipe in his mouth.

Holidays mean either porkchops, rice, and soup, or baked Portuguese chicken rice. Both with hot Hong Kong milk tea.
Haven't decided which yet.

I am NOT an old lady.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018


A one-day break from cigar smokers yowling at the television in the lounge. As a pipe-smoker, I don't yowl. Of all four types of smoker (cigar, cigarette, pipe, and non), pipe-smokers are the least likely to yowl when the situation does not call for it.

Tomorrow I'm heading into Chinatown for lunch, after which I shall wander around with a pipe triggering tourists by smoking.

Four days straight of dealing with the yowling crowd has left me far less social than usual.

It was only a matter of time before someone brought up space aliens, ancient landing sites, and DNA engineering by the Sumerians. Which, he assures me, has recently all been conclusively proven, even though most establishment scientists, historians, and archaeologists refuse to accept these findings because they are cynically committed to orthodoxy.

I should use youtube to research this, he says.

I am a very diplomatic man.

Polite, too.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.

Monday, July 02, 2018


The bus driver finally kicked the two dudes off the bus on Van Ness Avenue, one stop before I disembarked. At that point too many other passengers had complained about them smoking, drinking, and sharing reefer in the back. Which, to all of us from Mill Valley onward, had been obvious -- most of us didn't say anything, because we all just wanted to get the hell out of Marin and back to civilization -- but it may have been "therapeutic".
One of them was missing a leg, poor guy.
The other one, a mind.

Marin County batshit is nothing like San Francisco batshit.

After ten hours of those people, I too wanted to get home. Despite many of them being subclinically neurotic, and despite Tin Foil Hat Steve ranting worse than ever before, it had been a good day, though long. Tin Foil Hat Steve is now convinced that in addition to our own government tracking us electronically, the Germans are mounting a cyber assault upon the United States. As proof, he showed me an image on his cell phone.
Which said that something was made in Poland.
Poland! Poland!

"Poland is the German name! I know! My mother was Jewish!"

Well gee whillickers, TFHS, that changes the paradigm!

I promised him I'd research it on the internet when I got home. It was a slow morning, and his rant went on for nearly an hour. Maybe his medication ran out, or the dose needs to be upped, or he isn't medicated but needs to be.
He does need to stay off of coffee, though.

There were others. At one point I offered someone amateur psychological counseling -- which I almost never do, because I also guarantee that it will increase their trauma and despair -- and he nearly took me up on it.
One of these days I'll probably damage someone.
Totally without intending to.

After dinner (meatballs and bittermelon with black bean sauce cooling on the stove now, to be served soupily over noodles with a squirt of Sriracha and a squeeze of lime shortly), I shall head out with a pipeful of Gawith's Cabbie's Mixture for a last smoke of the day and a whisky.
It's medicative, as well as very therapeutic.
And ever so well deserved.

The smoking drinking pothead from the bus passed me on the way home.
He was not entirely oblivious at that point, as he was happily shouting out "Boobies! Boobies!", pursuant a woman he saw half a block away.
I was a bit pre-occupied; I did not notice her boobies.
But I'll assume that they were remarkable.
As many boobies are.

Tomorrow, more of the same.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.


In case you missed it, because several news agencies did not think it front page news and kept stressing Trump tweeting and pooing instead, silly dingoes, in Japan the Hello Kitty bullet train has started running.
The route is between Osaka and Fukuoka.
That's four hundred miles.

I think that's way more important than Trump tweeting and pooing.
He does that several times a day.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.

Sunday, July 01, 2018


When I came home the second time today, my apartment mate was in her room snorking happily, with a comic book about sharks in her lap. And yes, I've only just noticed that she has a new stuffed reading chair in there. Like her mattresses, she has gone through several over the years, because previous ones were not comfortable enough. Luxurious beast!

[Snorking: something twixt a gleeful giggle and a chortle, expressed largely with the nose.]

Earlier I returned from work, where I had cleaned pipes, including a lovely Stanwell (someone I didn't know), and a GBD owned by a friend -- stem only, they oxidize so -- and smoked two bowls of Sam Gawith's Cabbie's Mixture. It had been a lovely day. Neil dropped by after the motorcar club breakfast with his newest acquisition (a Dunhill Billiard), Paul asked me to clean the stem on a bent pipe of unknown provenance (English, it looks like it might be an offbrand from one of the Cadogan companies).

[Cabbie's mixture is a lovely Virginia and Perique compound, small coins, very plummy.]

The lounge, mercifully, was intent on watching Hravtska kick the snot out of the Vikings. So the soccer match kept them from their usual bitchy cat fight.
I pay almost no attention to the World Cup, but it is a marvelous pacifier for cigar-huffing middle-aged delinquents.

I had something to attend to downtown, so the last smoke of the day was down in Chinatown as darkness fell. There are no bakeries open that late, few people about, and even the chachantengs that stay open for dinner are winding down. Plus, this being summer in SF, it gets startlingly cold of an evening, and sometimes there's a very mighty wind.

Broken flake in a black blast bulldog.

Shan't make it down that way again till Wednesday. The boss is out of town, and I'm opening and closing Monday and Tuesday.

On Tuesday, Parrish will probably (I hope) bring in some more fudge. He's an excellent confectioner. That by itself makes the extra day this week worthwhile. My apartment mate is NOT the only luxurious beast.

Apropos of something incomprehensible, she seems to have informed me that Canadians are foot-fetishists, or should be, because Canada is huge.
I think that, in a nutshell, was more or less her drift.
Should have paid better attention.
Canada = Really big.

There's a monkey in my box of chocolates.
How did this happen?

A spot of whiskey, then off to bed.


NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.


Way back in 2016, the spokeswoman for the NRA said "I’m happy frankly to see them curb-stomped. I mean let's be real about it." So at present she's probably creaming in her panties because five journalists were killed.
It may be the closest to ovulation she'll ever come.

I'm not sure what 'curb-stomping' is, probably what conservative carrion eaters do as part of their mating frenzy, but it doesn't sound good.

"Your time is running out; the clock starts now."

Her curriculum vitae makes her seem a perfectly lovely match for a lawyer of my acquaintance who kept sending gun-nut paranoia e-mails to a political action group of which I regretfully remained a member till late 2012.
If he's still alive I hope the two of them get together.

Last I heard he was so far up the diseased back passage of the Republican Party he could hear Vladimir Putin pee. And feel it.

He's probably deliquescent too.

Rat bastard.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.