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.

Sunday, January 25, 2015


I am a pipe-smoker. According to one young lady recently, that makes me "like, omg, antique!" And very likely a pervert or pederast, but she wasn't quite sure which. Or was the word she wanted 'philatelist'?
I must learn to avoid people who are less than twenty.
Their little minds are still developing.
It's a tortuous process.

The first pipe of the day is like a timorous virgin, the last pipe of the night resembles a rowdy old bargirl. Reason being that early in the morning, my mouth is still fresh, whereas at the end of the day 'things' have happened. Many things.

Some involving unwise food or drink choices.

Raw bittermelon and sliced chilies are merely salad.
An 'amuse bouche', so to speak.
NOT dinner.

The first pipe yesterday was Arango's Balkan Supreme, which is altogether sparkly and dewy-eyed with a surfeit of Latakia.
Soon succeeded by Altadis 965, also a Latakia blend.
Two more Latakia queens followed..

Lunch consisted of a burrito de carnitas, sin frijoles, con queso y salsa mas over-the-top picante. There was a lovely hint of thyme in this confection, ethereal over the chili whomp to the cranium.
Smoky, herbal, and intoxicating.
Very nice.

For the rest of the day I smoked Virginias.

Dinner was ill-considered. Perhaps I needed some extra flavour at that point. If food can also be likened to a woman, this one was the hairy five-hundred pound trailer trash troglodyte, despite its very discreet size.
Bitter melon has a strong flavour.
Chilies do as well.

Good morning.

In about three and a half hours, I shall load up a bowlfull of Arango's Balkan Supreme again.

I never make the same mistake twice. I always do it five or six times, just to be sure it's wrong.

I am a man of habit.
A pipe smoker.

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Saturday, January 24, 2015


For those people who wish to know the most useful term for pervert in Cantonese, here it is: 鹹濕佬 HAAMSAPLO. The term is explained more fully in this blogpost: a typical male.

No, that is NOT a term which applies to me. Primarily because I never demonstrate my keen ability to sound totally depraved in Cantonese, lisp-hissing blandishments and come-hithers at tender girlies.

There is no benefit to not being a gentleman.
Even the entertainment value is minor.
Plus, I am Caucasian.


Many white folks are indistinguishable to Chinese people, due to a remarkable sameness of features. Eyes, noses, facial structure, complexion, and what-ever-the-else-have-you.
Plainly put, we all look alike.

That explains why the shopkeepers you've dealt with regularly can't remember who the heck you are when you run into them on the street. Or why even people you see on a daily basis might initially not be able to place you, or remember your name.

[White names all sound alike too. Whatever that "word" was, it wasn't Chinese.]

However, the moment you speak intelligible Cantonese in Chinatown, you and your face and your name slam sharply into focus.
Quite likely they will remember it all next time.
Especially if you acted like an idiot.
Which I try not to.

It's not that I'm insensitive to the attractiveness of some Cantonese women, but rather that my natural restraint coupled with a strong urge not to piss into the wind prevents me from being forward.

Bear in mind that the key concept is "intelligible" Cantonese. Uttering 'gung hay fat choi' at the appropriate time of year does not really qualify; you mispronounced it. If they recognized what you said, it was because the contextual framework  made clear what you meant to say.
Same with 'jeh jeh', 'm-koi', 'ney ho', and similar things.

To illustrate why this is so, let me describe something that happened several years ago, when I was still living in the Netherlands.
In the centre of the shopping district of Eindhoven, some Mormon missionaries had set up a stand with coloured pictures and a table of pamphlets, and were addressing passers-by with the question "hebt u wel eens gehoord van het boek van Mormon?"
What they meant was "have you ever heard of the book of Mormon?"
Grammatically perfect, and quite how a Dutchman would phrase it.
Their pronunciation, however, sabotaged the exercise.

They sounded exactly like they were saying something totally unintelligible in English. Even worse, American English. Possibly a regional dialect. Probably a severe speech defect.
And they sounded degenerate.
Sickeningly so.

The natives just nodded in passing, and otherwise ignored them, without stopping to find out what these space-aliens could possibly want.

Remember context? I mentioned it earlier.
The table with literature showed that those two deviants were trolling.
Gung hay fat choi at the right time might mean gung hay fat choi.
Jeh jeh, m-koi, ney ho; exact same dealio.

And, if you leer suggestively while saying anything at all, you are probably 'haam sap'. You might in fact be the very essence of haamsapjing, or haamkwaiseilo, or a seihaamsapkwai.
Irrespective of whatever you tried to say.

You might even be Hungarian.

"My hovercraft is full of eels."
"My hovercraft is full of eels!"
"Matches, matches? "
"Yah, yah. Eh, do you vaant... do you vaant to come back to my place bouncy bouncy?"
"I don't think you're using that right."
"You great poof!"
"That'll be six and six, please."
"If I said you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me? 
I am no longer infected."
"It costs six and six ... six and six... Here we go ... 'Yandelvayazna greldenuwi stravenka!'"

"What's going on here then?"
"You have beautiful thighs."
"He hit me!"
"Drop your panties, Sir William, I cannot vait till lunchtime!"
"My nipples explode with delight!"

"Great boobies, honeybun! My lower intestine is full of spam, egg, spam, spam, bacon, spam, tomato, spam....."

[English-Hungarian phrasebook, M.P., Horton Publishers, First ed., London, 1970.]

Either Hungarian, or a Viking.
But probably Hungarian.
A spam eater.

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Friday, January 23, 2015


The other day an old friend shared a Christian message on my Facebook page. Before going any further, I should mention that she has a great sense of humour, and, while regrettably credulous concerning matters of religious belief, is generally speaking a clear-eyed person with an extremely likable personality.

As you may have gathered, despite my extreme and winsome youth I am a sour old cynic, and tend to sneer at religion.

Particularly Christian substitutes for same.

Naturally I growled.

The only religions of which I approve are Jewish modern orthodoxy, Sikhism, Sufism, and Shinto. And a cynical sarcastic ultra-skeptical interpretation of Dutch-style Calvinism.

All others are, more or less, heresy-sodden mental but-plugs.

Especially the deviant Christian cults.


As someone whose ancestors came here in 1630, I will gladly engage in bloodshed and heresy trials to sabotage Lutherans, Episcopalians, Papists, Baptists, Methodists, and all those other disgusting cults from advancing. Especially Mormons (ugh!) and any and every shade of the Greek and Russian Orthodox churches.

If we do NOT maintain the separation of Church and State adequately, you can count on me to start gathering firewood, so that adherents of Seventh Dayism, Scientology, Jehova Witnessing, and Hare Krishna, as well as many other deviant practices, can be burned at the stake.

My religious tolerance is predicated upon everyone else NOT seeking to impose their depraved deviance on me or on society. No, I do not like your church; your pastor is a hamster, and smells of elderberries.

Please do NOT practise your religion in public; it scares horses and little old ladies, and there should be NO place for such horrid examples that might lead little children and impressionable foreigners astray.

Absolutely no Remonstrants, no Ledeboerians, no Presbyterians.

Are we clear on that?

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Thursday, January 22, 2015


During the latter half of the nineteenth century, the empire lay in ruins as internal and external relations crumbled, the stability of the past gave way to discord and shifting alliances. At that time, the imperial government in the Northern Metropolis (北京 beijing) decided to open up the lands east of the Willow Palisades (柳條邊 liutiao bian) to settlement by the Han (漢族 hanzu).

Within years, the native population was vastly outnumbered by the immigrants, and prosperity abounded. But the main advantage was that the Russians now faced a formidable obstacle to further expansion. Rapacious Czarist officials and illiterate Cossack hordes had been stymied by the oldest barrier to imperialist expansion known to man: stubborn Chinese peasants.

Okay, I know I gave a somewhat deviant and simplistic spin to events in those last few words, but given that I'm having the very devil of a time understanding Mandarin, re-interpreting is rather essential.
In some ways I'm inventing a new continuity.

The Settling of Manchuria, Prequel, First Episode.

A forty part soap opera produced by the Dalian Television Studio (大連電視臺 dalian dianshitai) a couple of years ago, in what was formerly called Port Arthur (旅順 lushun; 亞瑟 yase) in Liaoning Province (遼寧省), North-Eastern China (中國東北 zhongguo dongbei).
It's about revenge, banditry, gold.
And, of course, the Japanese.
Plus revolutionaries.

闖關東前傳 -- 第1集


The second oldest barrier to imperialist expansion is Mandarin-speaking actors chewing up the scenery.

Nearly an hour of remarkably likable people wearing remarkably baggy clothes. An old mother weeping her outrage at the misbehaviour of her worthless daughter. Two gentlemen of peasant origin eating stolen buns, one of which, and I quote, "tastes like fart".


"Nǐ wén ba, zhèlǐ hái yǒu pì wèi ne."

As with all Chinese television serials, it's the human element (and the furniture) which fascinates.

One of the characters (female) is called 纓兒 (jing-er), which can be translated as "little tassel". She appears to be the requisite 'good girl', and in consequence is rather drippy.

The "bad" (spirited) girl is disguised as a geek (書生 shusheng), and travels with a lute (琵琶 pipa). She fled the family home just before her father was arrested. Naturally, there are a few scenes of the constabulary oppressing the masses.

Dang it looks freezing in Manchuria!
I'm quite enjoying the show.
Probably for all the wrong reasons, as I live in San Francisco (三藩市 san fan shi; 舊金山 jiu jin shan), and the weather never gets THAT cold here (except during summer), and to the best of my knowledge none of the local Cantonese wears fur hats, rides horses, and has strings of dried chili peppers hanging on the wall.

As a note of verisimilitude, given the geographic origins of the transmigrant populus, I should mention that the personal pronoun used in speech in the series is 俺 (an), which outside of Northeastern China is rather anomalous.

Anyway, watch it for yourself.
There are forty episodes.
At the very least, your Mandarin will be improved, possibly also your understanding of the people and their culture.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015


One of my acquaintances was laying it on thick, talking about organic baby vegetables harvested fresh from the soil, to be lightly steamed, and eaten with gluten-free noodles.
Oh so delicious! And pure! How could I not love it!
A meatless and sacramental meal.

Well, given that gluten-free makes me giggle, especially when combined with the word 'noodles', he's right. He's also out of his Vegan mind, lord help him, and utterly goofy, but yes, I love it.
Purely as a funny concept.

Stupid white Vegans from suburbistan don't know how to eat.
And shouldn't be allowed anywhere near a kitchen.
Steaming, btw, is NOT for vegetables.

It's for meat.

Such as the lovely dry-preserved duck thighs, dense and delicious, that you can buy in Chinatown. They're made by adding curing salts, soy sauce and rice wine, then wind-drying them for a few days. In so many ways they define satisfying winter food.

The commonest way to utilize them is by steaming them on top of rice.

Jing laap ngaap pei faan

One fatty preserved thigh.
One Chinese sausage, skinned and cut diagonally.
Two or three re-humidified black mushrooms.
Two cups rice.
Shredded ginger.
Shredded scallion.

Rinse the thigh in cold water, then dunk it briefly in boiling water.
In addition to shocking the meat with moisture, this also washes off dust and shrotzim, and sterilizes.
Then take your cleaver and whack across into thinnish chopstickable chunks.
Put these on a bed of parboiled rice that you have placed in a clay pot, strew some shredded ginger and scallion on top, place the lid on the pot, and cook till done. Let it sit for a few minutes.

Many people don't chop it till after the steaming, but I think the heat permeates it better, and the grease renders easier into the rice, if you do it my way. In either case, the result is a beautiful well-flavoured and fragrant rice, and chewy tender rich meaty duck.

The two premier places to purchase such lovely duck legs, as well as several other kinds of preserved meat products, are Mow Lee and Wycen Foods. Both produce beautiful high-quality laapmei.
I would suggest going in and selecting some stuff at random, then taking it home to experiment. Dried meats have a deeper flavour than fresh, are used in smaller quantities, and are considered perfect warming food.
For heavens sake, do NOT point and ask goofy questions!
English is not their greatest skill set.
Don't be a tourist.

Mow Lee Company
774 Commercial Street
San Francisco, CA 94108.

Wycen Foods
832 Stockton Street
San Francisco, CA 94107.

I also bought some bitter melon while in C'town today, and a huge bag of crispy crunchy fresh Jalapeños (尖椒 'jim jiu' ). Bold veggies are excellent with preserved meats. And chilies are, of course, a vegetable.

Instead of lapcheung I will add two or three soaked dried oysters (蠔豉 'hou si') to the top of the rice before steaming, gout be damned.
Besides rice, a vegetable dish is essential. I love bitter melon, as well as chilies. Both are good for the blood.
And rather than all long-grain rice, I plan to "borrow" some of my apartment mate's Arborio, which she purchased for an experiment with risotto over the holiday season, and hasn't used since.

I'm looking forward to dinner.

And leftover rice tomorrow.

With a fried egg on top.

And raw chilies.


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Years before the World War, a Japanese songwriter created a lovely ballad, which, after the passage of decades, evokes a timeless golden age, a mood of places and people no longer part of the world. It's a lovely song. You don't have to know Japanese to enjoy it.

Shanghai no Hanauri Musume 上海の花売娘

Judge for yourself.



That street performance is very sweet.
Tokyo is fortunate indeed.
Fine musicians.



紅いランタン 仄かにゆれる
宵の上海 花売り娘
誰のかたみか 可愛いい耳輪
じっと見つめりゃ 優しい瞳
ああ上海の 花売り娘

霧の夕べも 小雨の宵も
港上海 花売り娘
白い花篭 ピンクのリボン
襦子も懐かし 黄色の小靴
ああ上海の 花売り娘

星も胡弓も 琥珀の酒も
夢の上海 花売り娘
パイプくわえた マドロス達の
ふかす煙りの 消えゆく影に
ああ上海の 花売り娘

The Shanghai Flower Girl


A red lantern trembles in the evening breeze, Shanghai flower girl,
Earings swaying above girlish shoulders,
She beckons with an innocent smile(*),
Oh flower girl of Shanghai.

The evening mists gave way to light rain over the Shanghai harbour,
A white basket tied with pink ribbons,
Small yellow slippers getting wet;
Oh flower girl of Shanghai.

Stars curve overhead like a violin bow's arc, in amber wine,
The dreams fade, Shanghai flower seller,
Shadows swirl and disappear in smoke,
Oh flower girl of Shanghai.

[(*) Literally, friendly eyes or a friendly smile. That is to say a facial expression without guile, perhaps girlish, perhaps innocent. She has no ulterior motive.]

---      ---      ---    

The song is given the full treatment, Enka-style, in the video below.



I remember a Hokkien version of this song years ago, but unfortunately neither the singer NOR the Chinese title come to mind.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015


Hutspot with mutton and Indian spices on the stove; tonight we eat strong flavours, preparatory to heading into North Beach for our weekly flirtation with insanity. There will be surreal conversation with strangers, and subsequent to that, or at the same time, exposure to the screeching of stupid suburban twenty-somethings doing karaoke.

Dice cups, crazy drunkenness observed, and late late whiskey.

Pipe tobacco smoked today: Capstan Gold Navy Cut, MacBaren Virginia No. 1, Samuel Gawith's Perfection, and Arango Balkan Supreme.
Condition of tastebuds: they had a work-out. Oh boy.

The cigars didn't help.

Got lassi?

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Found this delightful video quite by accident. I nominate it for an Oscar for 'Slice-Of-Life' documentary, artistic verisimilitude, and several new vocabulary items -- expressions  till now quite new to me -- which reflect an attitude and cultural woof so far from San Franciscan pretentiousness and existential angst that my eyes are opened.

Yeah man. You wanna be on time, go to Jamaica and walk to work.

Put your damned dumplings down, and get on the bus!



12:10, 12:13. Meh.

Go a little slower, driver, no need to hurry. It's bad for you, okay?

Maybe I should visit New York.
Sometime soon.

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Fifty five year old man comes home and eats cheese and almond windmill cookies. Which, when you consider all the options, is the only realistic thing to do. Earlier I had been the somewhat unwilling witness of a twenty eight year old celebrating her coming of age for the seventh time.
I do not like rap music.

No, I did not impose myself on the table of bright young things. Be real. Fifty five year old men, no matter how piratical their beard and moustache, dashing even, are NOT a hot commodity.
And these were bright young things!
Pink and innocent.

I'll accept that many of them, being white and from cotton-wool America, probably have sex-lives that put me to shame. I have no problem with that. There are good things to be said for still being rather un-exposed and inexperienced. At the very least, I can proudly assert that I did not jump at every over-moistened opportunity.
No matter how sleaze-o-riffic.

Thirty years ago things might have been different. They weren't, but the possibility was there.

Three decades ago I might have been more frustrated, but nowadays I am at peace. Fifty five year old men are not a hot commodity. I realize that.

Yes, I know that there are cruise-ships full of seventy plus year old matrons who would creakily jump at my prospect. The poor old dears overlook my essential perversions. I may be in my fifties, but I have the depravity of a twenty year old.

Tonight we celebrated the birthday of someone half my age.
She sang a Doctor Dre rap tune.
And consumed gin.

She was all pink and innocent.

I feel a bit old right now.

And in no way pink.

Or innocent.

Almond windmill cookies, Cheddar cheese, and smear of stoneground mustard. That's impossibly old and depraved.

Yes, I am a fossil.

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Monday, January 19, 2015


There is, of course, a mental ailment that afflicts people living beyond the cities. The silence late at night, and the shifting shadows at the edge of vision in the darkness, combine to create monsters in their minds. Add over-active imaginations, and insufficient medication, and you end up with anomalous beings roaming the backwoods of America.
Things with horns and tendrils.
And teeth. Sharp teeth.

They aren't American representations of the Black Beast of Ar (of Monty Python fame), or the inbred Cornish Pygmies still rumoured to exist in parts of rural England.

These are the Jersey Devil, the Sheepsquatch, the Enfield Horror, Mothman, Sarah Palin, the Chupa-Cabras (note: singular despite the pluralist termination; 'goatS-sucker'), and the Petaluma Rabitode.

That last mentioned might actually exist. It's described by witnesses as a longish rat-like beast, like a bowling pin heading sideways, the size of a recumbent human, which slithers (or scuttles; accounts vary) into the barns of the poultry capitol to feast upon the chickens within. It either calms the birds by hypnotizing them or by emmitting a scent that dulls their senses.
Apparently business is good; the creature has been spotted as far south as Novato, as far west as Estero Road between Tomales and Bodega.


Last week, two locals were bicycling in the hills near the coast when they spotted something. Their accounts are different enough that one may assume that they did not invent and coordinate, but actually saw something.

One of them, Sunkarma (29 years old), described it as covered in sleek fur, except for the plated head and beak-like snout.
The feet looked claw-like.

[NOTE: That probably ties in to Miwok legends about an oyster-eating animal which used its hard bony beak to crack shells. Obviously, battery chickens are softer and easier to hunt.]

The other witness (Persephone-Shawnee), on a different trail, reported a "big blob, kinda greasy gray, with a long pointed head like a possum; it was, like, huge, you know?" She also mentioned that it smelled like rotten eggs, and glared angrily at her before fleeing into the forest. Its paws resembled human hands, but were black, misshapen, and shiny.

"It was, um, kinda radiating sadness, and like, negativity!
Like, it thought I was invasive and gonna harm it?

A key detail, which strikes me as extremely Northern Californian, was that she was returning from a native American smoke medicine ceremony, which was "very spiritual", and "re-calibrates your aura".
I don't know whether ganja or sage was offered.
Probably both. Along with etcetera.

All of which may have influenced Persephone-Shawnee's perceptions.

Sunkarma, who saw different feet, was collecting forest greens, because "veganism is in tune with mother nature". The lack of protein in her diet may have weakened her little hippie brain.
Marin is filled with refugees from flowerpower.
Unlike Petaluma, which has.....

Now, if you ask me, both ladies were probably stoned out of their minds and batshit crazy. From a variety of causes. The entire Bay Area is filled with male and female hysterics of their type. Heck, we're so holy and "spurtule" that we think tofu and karma didn't exist until we invented them back in the eighties.

I'm looking forward to eventually seeing the beast on Polk Street in my neighborhood. Drunken twenty-somethings are even easier to hunt than chickens.

And probably juicier, too.

By the way, Petaluma is the only municipality in the United States which has laws against congress with chickens. There is a good reason for this.

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Sunday, January 18, 2015


Sometimes you wonder whether journalists are capable of understanding history, or even considering the long view of events. After all, their business is 'news', which as soon as it's published starts becoming 'not news'. At which point it becomes decreasingly interesting to them.
Of course many of their audience are equally afflicted with attention deficit disorder, Fox news being a leader in that field, with MSNBC and CNN struggling to catch up, but some of us do have a somewhat wider range of attention than most journalists are capable of grasping.

Often necessary background goes missing.

Consider this doozy of a quote from a BBC article: "Relations between Vietnam and China are strained over territorial disputes in the South China Sea. Tensions rose in 2014 after China moved an oil rig into waters claimed by Vietnam, leading to violent protests."

Actually, folks, relations between Vietnam and China have been more than miserable since the late seventies, when those Vietnamese reptiles drove a large number of their Chinese fellow-citizens out. You remember the boat people? Most of them were Viet-Chinese, who fled under duress, and made a perilous journey in rickety vessels through waters infested with Thai fishermen... who often captured vessels, raped the females, and slit the throats of everyone, or simply raped and robbed. Then the boats would make it to the Philippines or Malaysia, where the authorities weren't happy to see Chinese people (due to longstanding institutionalized racism and officially encouraged ethnic hate). "Unwelcoming" barely describes it.
Brutality towards the refugees was shockingly common.

Yeah, you could say that "territorial disputes" are a cause of strain.

What's surprising is that China is being so very gentle with all of those South East Asian Countries. That's very civilized of them.
Forbearing, too.


After what Vietnamese, Malays, Filipinos, and Indonesians did to their Chinese minorities, a rational person would be enthusiastically supportive of a complete takeover. Too many violent riots with racialist overtones, plus apartheid-style laws and discrimination, politicians demanding protection money and "facilitation fees", crime targeted specifically at the Chinese...
The Thais deserve a little credit, as many of them are part-Chinese, and they make absolutely fabulous curry-pastes; that counts for something.
But please refer back to what their coastal people did starting nearly four decades ago, and continuing into the nineties.

"Relations between Vietnam and China are strained over territorial disputes in the South China Sea."

There's an easy solution to disagreements in that stretch water.
Keep the Vietnamese out entirely.


Relations with the tributaries beyond the frontier are better now than has historically been the norm. The South East Asian states seem to have forgotten this, perhaps they should be made re-aware of it.
Politely, of course. Diplomatically.
But firmly.

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In yet another brazen attack on Western values, a noted Scandinavian culinarian was brutally attacked in his own studio by three persons wielding fire-arms. Foreigners (Finnish?) acting like they owned the place.
No, this could NOT have been prevented by open-carry.
Open-carry was, more or less, the problem.

It won't be long before none of us is safe.

This opens up a new chapter.

When will it stop?



Culinarists have no one but themselves to blame. If they will persist in sneering at crustacean values, crustaceans will continue to fight back.
Eventually they will outnumber the culinariators that remain.
A very dark day for Western Civilization.


The other night my apartment mate was slurping down some crustaceans that she had prepared with bacon and fermented fish-paste. It smelled delicious. Utterly treif, of course, because crustaceans are anathema.
She watched a gay millionaire dating show on television while she ate.
This may be a sign of the coming end-times.
Alert the Tea Party!

Fox News, Pamela Geller, Jihad Watch, and that delirious dingbat Debbie Schlussel need to DO something.
God hates shrimp.

According to the good book, "phooeey on you!"

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Saturday, January 17, 2015


He recognized me as I was stuffing my face with fatty pork, and came hurrying over, happy to see me. Now, this wasn't perfect host behaviour on his part -- though a member of the family that runs the place, he is not involved with the restaurant in a professional capacity -- but joy that I had returned. The last time he saw me was over a month ago, when the two bright young ladies had been drooling over him.
At that time he was preoccupied.
I can respect that.


In addition to lean pork and preserved egg jook, fabulous with one of their yautiu, they also offer a lunch deal of three dishes from the steam table plus rice and soup, for a very affordable price. The sign mentioning this is in Chinese, because they cater exclusively to a local audience. And really, who wants to explain (in English!) that that there meat is five-layer fatty pork stewed with a little soy sauce and red-in-snow, something that we all love but which will give diet-conscious suburbanite fattaboolas a heart-attack, or that the vegetable is crunchy baby mustard stalks briefly blanched then stir-fried? Trust me, it has EXACTLY the same appeal as asparagus, but a more delicate flavour, truly delicious! As well as the perfect texture to the teeth. But many people who are not from here have never tried it, and will probably turn up their long long noses. Because it isn't called "Imperial Concubine Jade Treasure", and it doesn't have a strong gloopy sauce composed of brown, chili, and sugar. The rest is equally unknown.
Everything on the steam table is equally decent.
Very Cantonese, very simple.
Very nice.

The soup is lou fo tong. Broth, watercress, a few meat bits.
To moisten the meal and wash it down.
Good for you.

[In addition to lean pork and preserved egg jook (皮蛋瘦肉粥 'pei dan sau yiuk juk'), they also serve dried fish and fried peanuts rice porridge (柴魚花生粥 'tsai-yu faa-sang juk') and fish curls rice porridge (魚片粥 'yü pin juk'), Their fried dough stick (油條 'yau tiu') is excellent. There are also various dim sum to choose from.]

He's starting to talk now, albeit with far more enthusiasm than skill. And he's quite nearly unintelligible as yet. But easy enough to comprehend. A very likable little fellow, absolutely adorable. Because we have so little vocabulary in common -- he doesn't actually have much of one -- after the conversation lagged I entertained him by scuttling my left hand across the edge of the table, precisely like a dog or an anteater rooting around in the forest, middle finger (head) sniffing around. Then the hand-beast would jump over obstacles (his hands) and sniff at him, or wheel around and lift a hind-leg (pinkie) in order to mark its territory. Sound effect: pzzzzzzz.
Okay, maybe anteaters don't actually do that.
No need to tell him that datum yet.
He'll find out on his own.

My right hand, meanwhile, dabbed some of the fatty pork into a puddle of hot sauce, or forked a mustard stalk mouthwards. Plus rice. Or lifted the soup bowl and slurped a mouthful.

It was a very good lunch. Delicious food, great company.

The anteating hound also enjoyed himself.

After I had finished eating, I explained that "this is a pipe (煙斗 'yin tau'), and this is tobacco (煙葉 'yin yip'), which I am putting inside.
I shall go outside and smoke soon."

Then I bade him adieu.

I expect that when we meet again, he'll be more vocal.
And have a much larger vocabulary.

I relish communicating.

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Friday, January 16, 2015


For very many years the bookseller and I head off to a low dive once a week for whiskey. The dive in question has a karaoke machine. Most of the time stupid white people do the singing, while the Cantonese salt of the earth types ignore their efforts. Often the salt slam their dice cups and the loser drinks another shot. The salt seldom gets blithery drunk, the stupid white people are over-the-top blotto by the time they leave.

And entirely unrepentant for having committed torture.

Neither I nor the bookseller sing karaoke.
Remind me again why it was invented?
Oh yeah, team building exercise.
Corporate marketing dudes.
Stupid white people.
Shouldn't sing.

However, in addition to the usual songs from the eighties that one would rather forget, in English, as preferred by all twenty-something stupid white people -- everything from The Eagles to Elton John and Madonna, but not enough Abba -- there are a few items in Mandarin that truly set one's teeth on edge.

Mandarin is what the Chinese equivalent of stupid white people speak.

Judge for yourself. The song below is perfect.



Stupid Chinese people.

And a stupid title, too. 大家一起喜洋洋 (dàjiā yì qǐ xǐyángyáng): all family together happy sheep sheep, or, everyone is radiant with joy.
Oh please, I gotta barf.

Sadly, the little animated avatar of the singer is more attractive than her human counterpart.
Sort of a bright-eyed goobus librarian.
Who really can't dance.

The Teletubbies are more intellectually challenging.

The show is 'Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf' (喜羊羊與灰太狼 Xǐ Yáng Yáng yǔ Huī Tài Láng). You can read all about it on Wikipedia, where the zany tale of a bunch of ovines and their village is outlined.

Excerpt, describing one of the characters:

"Wolnie / Red Wolf (红太狼 Hóng Tài Láng)
The narcissistic wife of Wolffy, who dresses in a red robe with black and white trims. She is over-demanding and abusive towards her husband, hitting him with her frying pan whenever his schemes fail; however, she does genuinely love her husband. She is actually very smart and while her husband can think of outlandish inventions to catch goats, her simple ideas are the ones that are actually successful."

It's probably all very touching and meaningful, in a sincerity-laden way.

Filled with messages about unity and co-existence.

Children and half-wits love it.

All family happy.

No, I don't know who the cute goobus librarian is.
She's an animated entity, okay.
Not real!


"Fragrant Wolf (香太狼 Xiāng Tài Láng) is a young female wolf with rainbow hoop earrings and a pink dress; she has a crush on Banana Wolf (蕉太狼 Jiāo Tài Láng); a large, mild-mannered wolf who is a vegetarian obsessed with bananas."

Oh what the heck. It's probably quite sweet and fun to watch.
Find it on the internet, and judge for yourself.
Order some delivery pizza.

Love your sheep.

Wah, eat banana!

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Thursday, January 15, 2015


People have often asked me why I still live with the woman who ceased being the object of my affections over four years ago. There are several reasons: I have recovered; as I knew I would, what with being a resilient old cooz and all, and I am in the market again, though sneeringly cynical about my chances, seeing as seemingly the only women interested in me are older and have so many screws loose they rattle when they walk. Additionally, you don't give up on an apartment mate and darn good friend whom you trust around your crap; it would be irresponsible, and heartless to the crap.

I'm used to her habits and there is nothing about her presence that grates;
I hope that it's the same for her regarding being around me.
Besides, I like it here. We've been in the same apartment building for over twenty years; that's longer than I've lived anywhere else.
This is home.

Foremost of all, though, is the stream of consciousness commentary.


"Here are these young springy virile shoes and you're already giving them that old dead turtle look, it's disgraceful, 'cause they're rather handsome even though you have big-ass clodhopping feet, like they need to be de-loused or something -- you CAN powder just the insides, you know -- people will think you wallow in cornstarch, or that you never dust."

This pursuant the new leathery things I bought last week. Yes, a small and totally insignificant quantity of the foot-powder I used did adhere to the outside. If anyone asks, I work in a post-office as a mail sorter, and have escaped the Center for Disease Control quarantine.
No, my feet are NOT big; they're normal sized.
Hers are creepily small.

I have since then wiped the shoes.


"I don't mind OTHER people experimenting with a Ouija board and getting totally freaked out, "oh my gawd, this spirit has the same spelling errors as Aunt Martha! It's her, and she wants cake!"
Yeah, 'cause the craving for cake outlasts decomposition."

This pursuant some remark on television about communicating with the dearly departed. She finds communicating with the living hard enough as it is, the dead are entirely on their own.
I'm inclined to agree.


"I've realized that I actually don't know how to cook; I just heat up stuff and hope it doesn't kill me. Just plop it on a plate and find out if it tastes all right. I'm still alive. Let's all praise the god of food poisoning."

She's actually a good cook. I'm probably a much better one than her, because I'm a serious food slut, and have obsessively studied several thousand recipes and articles over the years. But except for one or at most two rather strange offerings, I cannot remember any fear or trepidation, and she made some truly excellent meals.

I've lost weight since then though, largely because there is no imperative to have just a little bit more. My appetite has changed, too.
I am strictly an odd-hour eater now.
Casual about meals.

The other day I ate a plate of rice-stick noodles with miscellaneous porky bits, baby mustard green, and Thai red curry paste, which I had prepared for myself. It would have been utterly divine, except she was watching a television show about women who commit gruesome murder at the time, and cheering on the perpetratrices. It's part of that liberated woman thing, female empowerment and payback and all that. Her flow of bloodthirsty and inappropriate remarks was infinitely entertaining, while also being quite utterly stomach turning.

The dinner-theatre was better than the meal.
I should've added more hot-sauce.

She seldom complains about my tobacco.
Her smell just isn't very acute.
Works for me.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015


This blogger is does not write computer code, or hide obsessively in his room while his worried parents ( or house mates) eat dinner without him because he won't come down. I don't have a vast collection of figurines.
Nor do I subscribe to pimple creme of the month club, or have posters of fictitious heroines in my closet.

While I respect that lifestyle, like all lifestyles, and recognize that it represents a growing demographic -- one to whom the politicians must cater, if they wish for any hope of success -- it seems far too cult-like and closed-minded to have any appeal to me. It is fascinating, though.
Rather like Vegans and the saintly people who do yoga.
I smell them on the bus, as they radiate.
Their auras are Limburger.
But pure.

On the other hand, like a dog chivying a dead rodent, I am sometimes fascinated by their obsessive and sexless existences. Urban-American yoga, Veganism, and Anime fandom are strange monastic worlds, devoid of any real human interaction or rowdy procreative lusts, where juices are never released and excess hormones leak out through the pores.
Not space-aliens, just your twisted neighbors.
Their slime is all over the internet.
Self-important, and god-like.

I understood nearly every reference in the video below. That does NOT make me a pervert, it simply establishes that once I get hold of a new fish, I shake it till I know every scale. It's called 'research'.



My first reaction was "I wonder what Japanese Schoolgirls would look like wearing tailored Nazi uniforms? Probably HOT!"

The precise hue of the material would need to be adjusted, of course, to compliment a different skin tone. Skirts below the tunics, but whether pleated or plain, the knees should be covered.

The term 'weeaboo' is defined on Urban Dictionary, in case you don't know it yet.

"A classic example of a weeaboo's presence on the net, this unknown 16-year-old girl's rant about Miyavi:

OMG! I loooove Miyavi!!!
FYI - all you haters - I saved ALL these pictures!!!
Miyavi-desu...aishiteru!!!! hot, so fine, so sexy, so cute, so funny...*dies*  "

[Text credit: u.d.]

Just like with the term 'weeaboo', I looked up 'Miyavi', assuming that this was some cute cartoon critter from an ongoing Japimation on cable teevee late at night, when normal people such as myself are fast asleep.
Yes, that did lead to further delving on Wikipedia.
Zainichi: I had never heard the term.
Konohana: 此花區。
Et autres.

Mehhh, whatever.


For some reason, many sites I visit are programmed to seed their pages for me with advertisements for cigars. Whether I'm looking at foreign newspaper articles, scholarly texts re-pasted in part on other peoples' discussions, or, yes, Urban Dictionary, there will be colourful pictures of coronos, toros, belicosos, perfectos, cortos, bravos, gordas, torpedos, lanceros; Salomones and parejos, presidentes and diademas.
Along with claro, corojo, rosado, and maduro.
I don't need to look those words up.
I know what they are.


I really think the Japanese need to do an anime series involving young ladies in a cigar factory. Wearing uniforms, but skirts above the knee. Because folklore holds that the torcedoras in old Havana would roll the bunches of tobacco leaves on their thighs.......

I would watch it.


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If you want your lou po bing to taste extra good, heat it in the toaster oven. Or in an ungreased skillet also can. But that presumes that you bought more than just one and took it home, and that there is sweetened condensed milk on the premises, so that you can enjoy it with a cup of Hong Kong style milk tea.

I am, as you have probably guessed, not a breakfast person. For me the process of facing the day starts with a cup of strong coffee on an empty stomach, followed by a smoke, and cruising into the internet for news.
This is hard to manage when you live with a fervent non-smoker, such as my apartment mate, who is a morning person besides.

Because she is full of piss-and-vinegar at the break of dawn, many of the stuffed animals in the apartment are so also at that hour. I can hear their voices from her room, gaily disputing primacy and who outranks whom, as I blearily open my eyes while pretending that I am still able to sleep.
Eventually there are crashing sounds from the kitchen.
Plus the sizzle of something frying.

There have been times when she started the day by sauteing pork chops. Good for over rice with some soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and butter. Then she'll head to the teevee room to scarf down her breakfast while watching trashy shows on the boob-tube.

At six o'clock in the morning.

Women are cute when they're eating.
If ever I have a girlfriend, she'll do that too.

Whether that will increase the racket every A.M. remains to be seen.
I greatly fear it will; many more voices.
I shall have to hide.

I'll be under the bed, if anyone wants to find me.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
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Tuesday, January 13, 2015


Doing research on the internet is sometimes confounded by the presence of another person in the teevee room who is doing her own research, with the boob tube turned on for background noise.
She reacts to the programme.
I don't.

I react to her.

Commercials quirk her curiosity.

Her question: "Why is it that all these men with big families seem to live in Middle America?"

My answer: "Because that's where the Mormons live."

On second thought, that may not be entirely accurate. That's also where housing is cheaper than here, and many high school graduates have never heard of birth control.

What I want to know is why they all look like glandular freaks.

Growth hormones in the food?


Real people are NOT taller than five feet nine inches!

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Being, as you know, a crusty old fart of mature age, I think I'm entitled to do whatever I please, even if it isn't exactly what the youthful and bourgeois public considers proper. Wherefore I frequently run around but-naked doing my laundry.
Though NOT all the time.

Did you know that black boxer shorts are 'slimming'?

Perhaps I should explain. No, I do not wander up to the laundromat two blocks away wearing nothing but a bag of dirty undies. Whenever I'm there, I am fully clothed, and probably ignoring you.
What I refer to are the times when I don't feel like shlepping.
When I'll do one or two items in the sink.

Yesterday, an hour after washing myself, I decided to soak my pants in the bathtub. Bit of hot water, splash of bleach, splash of Woolite.
Yes, nudity was involved.
It seemed like a good idea, given that I splash.
Clean clothes are energetic business.

They're in the nature of being dungarees. No need to press them, and they're perfect for working days, when I'm around abrasives and huge amounts of combustibles. Comfy, though a bit worn.
Much like the man wearing them.

Crusty old farts can do whatever they want.
It's not like anyone will pet us.
We bite.

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Monday, January 12, 2015


Years ago I lived in a residential hotel in North Beach, which had very thin walls. For a brief four month period, my immediate next door neighbor, whose window opened onto the same airwell, was a blonde woman with big hooters and an ever-changing roster of partners.
Most of her boyfriends were nice men. Bland, inoffensive (except for their affection for sports on teevee) and altogether regular guys.
Consequently I cannot remember any of them at all.
Her, however, I do remember. Oh boy yes.
No, not because of her hooters.

In actual fact, while like many males I do like hooters, they are not the be-all and end-all of a woman's personality. If the hooters exist, that is enough. The possessatrice of said appurtenances should above all have something to say, and say it well. Crucially, there has to be something there to keep you wide awake; not bore you into a coma.
That said, enormous hooters are somewhat ghastly.
Big-breastedness is such a butch thing.
Elderly old farts in a sauna.
Sumo wrestlers.

Now, having seeded your mind with that appalling mental image, I wish to mention her sexual habits. Which I presume were quite normal, and very healthy, judging by the sound effects.



Precisely so.

Possible humorous comment: people who live in glass (or cardboard) houses shouldn't throw screaming sex.
Sad, but true.

I heard that nearly every evening. Consequently I would often hang out at the Caffè Trieste, or City Lights Bookstore after work. Most of the time, she and her paramours would be simply mumbling at each other by midnight, so the rest of us could get some sleep.

Watching that video reminded me of those days.

It also reminded me how stultifyingly uninspirational conversation with many of the North Beach "intellectuals" can be, such as the creative types who often infest the Trieste or City Lights, both of which are exceptionally fine establishments despite the vampires.

If you are visiting San Francisco, do go to both of those places.
Just refrain from getting roped into conversation.
And don't have sex with the patrons.

I seldom go to either place these days.
Conversationally, I have improved.
I never liked screaming.

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Sunday, January 11, 2015


My misguided apartment mate once said: "whenever I smell something funny I wonder if it's you, or my sneakers". It's always the latter, why does she not understand that?
I am a pipe smoker, ergo I do not smell 'funny'.
I smell good.

Oh, there's also a hint of cigar in the mix, as well as warm caffeinated beverages, and sometimes cleaning fluid. Tar, woodsmoke, sealing wax.
Ink both Chinese and Indian. All in all, I smell so darn delicious I'm surprised that a large spectrum of womanhood, from teenage girl to retired matron, isn't following me at all times, drooling and panting.

I blame the modern age for this sad state of affairs.

As well as many new forms of technology.


It probably doesn't surprise you that I still possess a typewriter, as well as a couple of sliderules. Marvelous things, sliderules... perfect for flicking a spitwad at the back of someone's head in class.

In addition to smelling wonderful (albeit slightly old-school), I am also adept at looking innocent. Not studiously innocent. Not pretend innocent. Genuinely and honestly innocent. Forthright, sincere. Sweet.
Nope, no idea where that wet clump came flying from.
Maybe it was space aliens?

Unlike nearly everyone else, I always did exceptionally well in classes that required a sliderule.

So, in answer to your question, it must be her sneakers.

Feel free to sniff me.


If you were lucky enough to smell me today, you would have had a real treat. You see, I hurriedly tossed the wrong tobacco pouch into my Hello Kitty backpack as I was leaving the house, and didn't discover till after the noon bell that instead of a nice super-aged blonde flake I had crumbs of a stale Latakia mixture that I cannot even remember with me.

So perforce I made use of sample tins that were laying around.

Smoked three bowls during the day.

E. Hoffman Company
Latakia, Turkish, Virginia, and a bit of Burley.

A medium English-style mixture, the Latakia made more interesting and complex by its interaction with the Burley. Some have described this as strongly suggestive of wet dog, as well as a remarkably dirty American.
I rather like it. Thoroughly enjoyed expelling the smoke through my nose. Alpha terpineols, fragrant and soothing.
Resinous, sooty, slightly sweet.

I can see myself in a different universe having a can of this around at all times.

Anyhow, I emptied out the crap that was in my pouch and replaced it with Spillman. It should be a good week.

Stokkebye (Scandinavian Tobacco), made in Denmark.

A broken flake compose of blonde Virginias, with little complexity. But a very pleasant and enjoyable smoke, of which I am rather fond. So far I've depleted that tin by nearly half over the past month or two, and I intend to finish it off. That's largely why there is a sample tin.
Sweet, with a lucious note of fruity carotenoids.
Ionones, damascones and damascenones.


Then, when 'R' came in to learn how to smoke a pipe, precisely like his favourite author (J. R. Tolkien), I sniffed the Capstan Original Navy Cut (blue) that he had acquired, and promptly felt the urge to purchase a tin myself. Specifically, Capstan Gold Navy Cut (yellow), ready rubbed.

A very good decision. It has that sweetness and herbal perfumy quality one seeks in a blonde flake. The cut is pleasing, not too thin, nor too moist, and the broken flake needs very little further rubbing out.
Altogether a delightful half hour indulgence.

I didn't eat lunch till after five o'clock.
Breakfast, if you think about it.

But I swilled buckets of tea since early morning, so everything was fine.
It has been a very lovely day.

There are lovely fragrances adhering to me.
Complex, woodsy, and herbal.
I am a nosegay.


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Saturday, January 10, 2015


According to several people in Marin, the temporary closure of the Golden Gate Bridge this weekend is terrible, because it means that San Francisco is cut-off and isolated. Let that sink in for a moment.

First off, the buses between Marin County and the city are still running. They are permitted through, despite the closure.

Secondly, if only we were isolated.
No Marinites for two days.

In any case, the venereal disease infection rates in San Francisco will briefly plummet.

I should also mention that San Francisco has way more chocolate than Marin County.

Chocolate, as everybody knows, is the sure-fire cure for a major post-evening-meal cookie binge. All of a sudden you no longer compulsively consume all of the Danish butter cookies within sight.
You must have more chocolate.

Meat, gluten, highly refined sugar.
Dinner of champions.

While we are isolated, and the wheat-grass and tofu crowd cannot come to spread civilization, we temporarily enjoy Sobriety and Common-sense.
And eat all the chocolate.

They really ought to close the bridge more often.

A man, and a city, could get used to this.

We are liberated, and at peace.

Quite isolated and alone.

If you say so.

Let us float away before they re-connect us.

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Friday, January 09, 2015


Even though I've carefully sifted my Facebook friends to weed out those who thoughtlessly disseminate hate, bigotry, racism, or Christianity, there are still a few whom I like but really wish wouldn't post links to articles. Primarily because some articles (many of them) are wingnut magnets.

The comments underneath those essays are mostly by people who are utterly insane, and whom rational society would do well to avoid: the loony fringe, the piranhas of society, the rabid monsters who cannot speak reasonably and sensibly but gibber, and the slope-browed hairy-palmed bug-eyed cretins in the basement.

People whom you would throw out of the bar, if they made the mistake of opening their pieholes in public.

Consider this wonderful screed:

pathetic response as usual from the grifter in the WH, who wouldn’t care even if there were a pile of dead bodies outside the oval office.
if this guy is not a mental case then there are no mental cases.
all this time that Jews have been targeted with these vile attacks the paralytic world “leaders” make sure to equivicate to save t heir own skanky stinking skins. this leaves Israel alone on the front lines to defend all of western civilization.
france is dreyfus and vichy and train stations and their
filthy collaborators. the frogs are a slimy bunch always have been. with the exception of the french Jews i don’t care what happens to them. they’re already in the abyss.

---judithg, January 7, 2015, 9:00 pm


Normally I do not bother reading the algemeiner, as it serves much the same purpose as Brigitte Gabriel and Fox News: riling up the moron fringe and inspiring paranoia. Those three entities (the algemeiner, Ms. Brigitte Gabriel, and Fox News) are the exact moral equivalents of Jihadi internet hate sites, except with a different target audience.

And to a certain extent, they've succeeded in their aim.

Judith G has completely lost her marbles.

She may never have had them.

But they're gone now.

Many of the other comments there are equally berserk, but do not foam quite so stream-of-consciousnessly. She requires medication, and someone should pursuade her to step away from the keyboard.

*      *      *      *      *

By the way, not everything is the fault of Obama.
Nor is everything a Jewish cause, OR plot.
Or even related to Israel.
Nor Islam.

Can't all of you damned ignorant loonies please return to blaming the Freemasons and the Pope for everything?

And take your medications. Please take your medications!
Feel free to take too much of the medications.
We much prefer you comatose.
Or ice cold.


Thanks to Benjamin, who is a very nice man, and could not possibly realize that providing a link to that venomous comment string would get my dander up, I shall resolve to henceforth not read any article from the algemeiner, much like I already avoid the Jerusalem Post, Christians United for Israel, The New York Post, Jewsnewsco ("Jews News"), and several other rather repulsive or spammatic sites.

No, I shan't mention this to him.
He means well.

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