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.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


It should not particularly surprise you that I utterly despise Greek Culture. Meaning fraternities and sororities at universities in the United States, not actually anything related to what goes on in Greece.
When I lived in Berkeley I saw enough misbehaviour to be repulsed, and other than the movie Animal House, there has been not a thing that convinces me of any redeeming features of the system.

Greek Culture inculcates a spirit of depravity and sadism in its members. No man in his right mind joins a fraternity, women who join sororities do not remain whole.
In a way, it's as repulsive and damaging an institution as the Republican Party and the Freemasons. Except with a greater degree of psychosis.

Okay, maybe not the Freemasons. That might be an exaggeration.
Despite many outright bastards in their ranks.
Captains of industry.

At the University of Virginia, esteemed fraternity Psi Kappa Psi seems to have been the campus centre for gang-rape, sexual violence, and all round disgusting behaviour. But it's obviously not all their fault. The university itself chose to down-play what went on, attempted to defuse reaction and confound investigation, and generally emasculate any possible repercussion or consequence for the perpetrators.

This is not unusual on many campi. American higher education leaves a lot to be desired. Both socially and culturally.

Okay, enough foaming at the mouth. Let's mention specifics.

From a BBC article:

---In 2013 Jackie reported her rape to the head of the school's misconduct board, Nicole Eramo. ---

---Jackie was presented with the choice of going to the police, beginning a formal complaint or having a mediated session where she could confront her alleged attackers. ---

Choices, choices!
A carefully staged confrontation mediated session, where the victim will be shouted down by up to half a dozen brutes who all deny the allegation and understand that maintaining their own reputations depends upon making the woman out to be a godless drunken slut, is not a choice that should be offered. And certainly not by an institution that survives by sucking students dry of funds, then bleeding alumni of further cash.
Please remember that many fraternity members have wealthy families who pay handsomely to have their sons "educated", and will certainly kick up a fuss if future employability is jeopardized. There are also past fraternity brothers who will rally round the standard and pull strings, lest their own behaviour while at college suddenly be called into question.
Other fraternities and sororities will likewise grasp the benefits of obscuring the issue.
Hence they all have an interest in ruining the woman.

Rape isn't rape if well-heeled and influential people can prevent it ever being successfully prosecuted.

In one year:

38 cases of rape.

14 students found guilty.

Not a single expulsion. Not one.

Further from that article:

---"At UVA, rapes are kept quiet, both by students - who brush off sexual assaults as regrettable but inevitable casualties of their cherished party culture - and by an administration that critics say is less concerned with protecting students than it is with protecting its own reputation from scandal," Erdely writes. ---


---The University of Virginia is one of 86 schools currently under investigation by the Obama administration's Department of Education for their handling of sexual-assault-related complaints. ---

Naturally I consider members of fraternities to generally be dubious types of low morals and depraved habits, compulsive liars convinced of their own entitlement, and dangers to the public. There is very little to indicate otherwise, and no one in their right mind should trust fraternity members around their friends and kin folk.

Yes, a generalization.
Prove it wrong.

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


It actually isn't. Short, that is. Weird yes. Many people will actually be working longer hours, because herds of crazed elephants shall circle the shopping malls of America, baying for blood and howling at the moon, for close on eighty hours starting at six in the evening on Thursday.
It is the annual mating frenzy of the mutants.
Black Friday.

Oh yeah, they're supposed to also cook stuff before doing that. Ham, turkey, pumpkins, and pizza.

That last is to pacify the men they leave behind, alone and freezing in front of the teevee.


As you may have noticed, I am not fully vested in all this.

Not the way we currently play the holiday.

All of you are crazy.

It's like many of you are on drugs.
If that's what tryptophan does to you, we ought to ban the substance. Keep it away from children and the lower classes.
Therapeutic, oh my aunt!

You've all become cannibals, savage tattooed cannibals, and your ridiculous deaths and hospitalizations because of stampedes will be briefly celebrated in news reports, before your kinfolk forget all about you in the saccharine greed orgy of the next four weeks.

Months from now, they'll wake up and wonder "say, what happened to vicious old whats-her-name? Didn't she used to wrestle other women for shoes?"

Then they'll take the last of the left-over turkey out of the refrigerator and, gravidly masticating, give themselves food-poisoning while watching reality teevee.

I firmly intend to eat cake at that time.
Cake is such a happy word.
Unlike turkey.

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


Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Experiencing a Chinese funeral second-hand is educational. I had NO idea that people photographed like maniacs. Possibly to remember the wonderful time everyone had at what is, after all, a major family event. Possibly to figure out who all those people are. And very likely, the close-ups of the floral arrangements in order to remember who sent what.

Some people will boast about their experience with these things. Claiming to have attended hundreds of funerals, why heavens, they know all about it! They are experts!

Personally, I wouldn't puff about how many dead people I know. Collecting dead friends and relatives is not something I see much percentage in.

There's always at least one Auntie or Uncle who is NOT blood-kin, but who voluntarily guides and gently instructs the inexperienced in how to behave and navigate the event as smoothly as possible.

Along with women whom one has never even met who weep and wail in a heartbreaking fashion, loudly, and with zeal.

At least one family member is designated to keep company overnight with the decedent. Really, it should be more people, at least all the immediate kin ("children"), but who has time for all that?

Besides, it's better that the freak-out be kept at a minimum.

Then paper stuff is set on fire. Palatial mansions, expensive motorcars (especially ironic if the person never learned how to drive), and fancy possessions of all kinds. Attendees at the actual service and or interment are given an envelope with a piece of candy, a coin, and sometimes a handekerchief (for really theatrical events).
The candy is to leave a sweet aftertaste, the coin is a reward for your concern and input, as well as recompense for whatever effort you took to be there, and the handkerchief is a nice touch for wiping your teary eyes. Under NO circumstance should these things be brought home!
Enjoy them immediately upon leaving!

One of the aunties is sure to make some sniffing remark about cheap-ass candies and the consequent loss of face for all the family.

Conveniently, pall-bearers are assured that their service brings them blessings and good luck.

In the old days, the children were expected to wear mourning for three full years. That doesn't happen anymore. Some people stop before even the hundred days are up.

Trust me, black is NOT a suitable colour for everyone.

A funeral is NOT a suitable occasion for amateur matchmaking. If there are a number of unmarried people present, however, it may very well take place. Somebody is bound to look insanely HOT wearing somber hues.
And just look at that coffin! They're richer than Moses!
Two of those nice boys aren't married yet.
They're a catch; both of them.
Your choice which.
Act now.

The pastor will insist that the dead person had accepted Christ.
A snarky son or daughter will mutter "bullshit".
Worshipping a dead white zombie!
Whoever heard of that?!?
Crap, I say!

If you ask me, pastors, especially Presbyterian or Lutheran, should be kept away from funerals. Methodists or Southern Baptists are always good for a laugh, though, and Seventh Day Adventists are just plain bonkers.
Besides, none of your relatives knows the difference.
They're baffled by crazy white voodoo.
Clowns of the cloth.

As I mentioned, I wasn't there. So certain things may be dependent upon re-interpretation.

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


With the holiday coming up, I might as well admit it: I've always been a heathen. Not fond of Turkey, and most of the fixings horrify me. All in all, if it's supposed to be a celebration, why must we suffer?

Yes, we did celebrate Thanksgiving when I was growing up. My father had to order a bird three weeks in advance from the local poulterer, and explain forcefully and repeatedly that we were NOT boiling it up for soup. The only use locals could imagine for a turkey was broth.
The poulterer did not understand what Thanksgiving was, but he dutifully abstained from breaking all the major bones in the birds body, which would have yielded the marrow easier.
Americans were an almighty strange kettle of fish.
Perhaps they didn't know how to cook?
A likely possibility.

When I returned to the States I discovered that people would also serve green bean casserole, succotash, boiled creamed corn, candied yams, and a salad with Thousand Island or Ranch dressing alongside, then follow the meal with warm pie and ice cream.

If they didn't want to fall asleep, they had coffee afterwards.
American coffee; enough said. More than.
Not Douwe Egberts.

Seeing as my father took two days off every year for the holiday, he did all the cooking. He had mastered how to roast the bird so it had a crispy skin and tender meat. And it was flavourful. Which is something most other Americans cannot manage.

He made his own cranberry relish.
The bread was fresh and crusty.
There was stuff to nibble.

Still, the problem with turkey was not enough skin, too much meat.
And all of us preferred the dark meat.

Celebrating Thanksgiving in Valkenswaard was fun.
Reveling in our Yankee reprehensibility.
To the distress of neighbors.

Trying to do so in the United States has often been a drag. I always feel an obligation to eat turkey, which means tasteless disappointment when I obey, guilt and a sense of a lost annual opportunity if I don't.
But in all honesty, I really do not like turkey.
Or crispy onion green bean casserole.
Or corn, yams, and succotash.
Plus beer or sports.

If I had to cook turkey, I'd probably saute sliced breast meat with fermented blackbeans, garlic, and ginger, and braise-simmer the legs in sherry with ginger, salt vegetable, black mushrooms, and star anise, till fall-apart tender. Vegetables cooked al dente served alongside.
Garlic mashed potatoes as a side dish.
Rice, and a bowl of soup.

And, of course, two or three lovely sambals. It isn't a banquet unless there are two or three sambals. Plus bitter melon, and crunchy stuff.
And a noodle dish. What kind of crappy feast is it without noodles?!?
I'm thinking pancit guisado, with lots of crab meat.
Green onion, garlic, bokchoy.

Maybe a separate dish of green beans, as a nod to tradition.
Or maybe not. Traditions mutate.

No cranberries at all.
In any guise.

Foregoing the turkey entirely and filling up on crab instead is a better basis for a seasonal celebration, but tradition insists on Turkey.
A bottle of wild bourbon ain't gonna cut it.
It has to be real dead bird.

Pancit guisado ng alimango.
Enough for everyone.
Sounds good.

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


Monday, November 24, 2014


Contrary to what you might think, I agree completely with the people of Oakland, who strongly feel that what happened in Ferguson is a darn good reason to protest. In fact, I think that the good people of Oakland should fully express themselves, and as a personal statement of opinion, I shan't object if they burn their fine city down to the ground.

As, indeed the good people of Ferguson, Missouri,  are attempting to do in their own city.

Little Caesars Pizza on fire. Public storage on fire. Domino's Pizza on fire. Walgreen's looted. O'Riley Auto Parts shop looted. Dollar store looted. Strip mall looted. PC Cellular store on fire. Beauty salon on fire. FedEx looted. McDonald's vandalized. Bricks, incendiary devices, tear gas. Florissant Avenue is a battle zone, the American dream is going up in smoke.

Faraci, Papa Johns, and other pizzerias are nearby.

American pizza restaurants are loathsome!

In Oakland, protesters set fire to offending public garbage receptacles. Indicating by their resolute actions that tomorrow people should sincerely and publicly litter in consequence.
It is indeed a noble deed. Return garbage to mother nature, don't keep it fenced off and unfree.

Oakland should be allowed to return to a state of primeval wilderness. Mother nature needs an opportunity to take it back. Over here in San Francisco we can see more use for the entire East Bay as a reserve, with roaming Buffalo, Gazelle, and herds of Wildebeest.
First step: shut down all pizza restaurants.
It will restore your civic pride.
Chain pizza is evil.

Over five hundred Oakland protesters attempted to hijack interstate US580 and fly it to Cuba. How sad that they did not succeed!
Despite throwing bottles and rocks.

Protests occurred not only in Ferguson and predictably, Oakland, but also in Boston, Washington D.C., New York, and Seattle.

There are pizza restaurants in all those places.

That is NOT a coincidence.

In solidarity with the righteous rioters of Ferguson and Oakland, I shall not eat pizza tonight. I think I'll have quiche instead.


The Oakland protestors demonstrated examplary standards of adult behaviour, and acted as mature as one would expect. Which the excerpts below from a Bay Area newspaper article written by reporters who spent the entire evening following the protests on the street make clear.


A couple of hundred protesters lit a bonfire in the middle of Broadway as the Starbucks store on Eighth Street was trashed and looted of equipment and bags of coffee beans. Thieves then smashed into the nearby Smart & Final and ran away with booze bottles, snacks, 12-packs of beer and bags of dog food.

A phalanx of police in helmets with shields ordered the crowd to disperse, but the protesters refused to move, yelling obscenities and tossing bottles of alcohol at the officers. The officers fired flash-bang grenades, rubber bullets and tear gas, forcing back the mob, which ignited new bonfires as it retreated.

Most of the protesters left the scene after the clash, but a remaining 50 retreated to Telegraph and Broadway and lit a fire. They remained there past 1 a.m., many drinking booze looted from Smart & Final while police kept an eye on them from about a block away.

End cite.

Oakland is the armpit of the Bay Area.
There were not enough arrests.
Which is often the case.
In Oakland.

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


One of the things that has come up recently is how to deal with your teenage son if you find out he's homosexual. It's not something that I myself normally think about, given that I still haven't found a woman 'inspired enough' to produce offspring -- yes, "inspired" IS the right word, you can all stop snickering now -- and, living in San Francisco, it seems like there are plenty of possible role-models for the father and gay blade son discussion running around.

Still, what would I say?

What is the most important thing to tell your son?


Then you give him the lecture about communicable diseases, personal responsibility, and making darn sure he'll be around long enough that he can wheel you out to the designated smoking area half a mile from the old-folks home when you're eighty years old and dependent on other people for your locomotion.

"Son, when I was your age, it was the tail end of the hippie era, and all around me I could see other people screwing like wild chickens. It seemed the natural thing to do, and I couldn't wait till I had a place of my own. But by the time that happened, sex and infectious after-effects had gotten a lot more complicated. And so had standards of morality. Treat yourself and other people with respect, don't be vindictive, and avoid drug users, football players, and Christians. And stay away from the liquor cabinet; you don't get to drink until you're twenty one, and remember who bought that booze.
I did. It's mine."

I think that covers all the basics.

Everything else is up to him.

Same for a daughter.

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

Sunday, November 23, 2014


Sometimes people lay the juju on you. Remarks are made that have a basis on some other thought patterns than you were expecting, and what you hear (or see) may make little sense. Often context is everything. Conversations in Cantonese are often like that, as are discussions about anything at all with pipe smokers.
Chatting with a pipesmoker in Cantonese is, of course, a double blessing. Hold on tight, you don't know where this train will crash.
Maybe on a rickety trestle bridge?
Over a rushing stream.
In the Sierras.

[Mr. Tu smokes RLP-6, which is made with Burley tobacco, Toasted Black Cavendish, and Golden Virginias. And an absurd flavouring which could be best described as "compressed candy store". It is "addictive".]

Over on Mordechai's Facebook page, someone interrupted a political discussion to talk about flu shots. Which, when you think about it, is on the spectrum.

If you think about it a little longer, your head will hurt.

And, speaking of such things, did I ever mention that my apartment mate and I have Asperger's Syndrome? She's far further on the spectrum, so over the years I've learned to interior monologize whenever she says something baffling. It makes everything much more comprehensible.

[RLP-6 is not something I would choose, even if temporarily nuts, but far be it from me to begrudge stubborn people the freedom to make mistakes.]

For instance, while I was scarfing down a dish of Spam, Yauchoi, Tofu, and Wheat noodles, dressed with Abalone Sauce, Soy sauce, Sriracha hotsauce, plus tomatoes and olive oil, she went over to the hallway mirror and started talking. My input consists of the stuff in square brackets, not vocalized.

"Not the colour I wanted, but it's soft, and I look HOT wearing it; commanding, like I should be in charge of a submarine."
[Accepting things as they are.]

"Filled with HOT sailors!"
[Catching the ball and running with it.]

"Well, okay, just ONE sailor."
[Approaching things more realistically.]

"I'm tired, I'm going to bed now."
[Did you mention that there are koftas in the refrigerator?]

See? A productive and information-packed exchange. Both participants happy that they got something out of it. I have a secret passion for Spam.
It makes tofu taste good. Don't forget to add ginger. Lots of ginger.

We used to be a couple, in case you were wondering. Broke up a number of years ago, but we still like each other, and trust the other person around our stuff. The underlying friendship remains strong.
Which is a good thing.

And, because she's Cantonese, she's comfortable with my dining habits. If she were blonde, I would have died of gustatory ennui years ago, before we stopped seeing each other "that way".
Of course, given that I've hardly ever met an intelligent blonde, there probably would have been no relationship in the first place.
Either way, it's 'win win'.

And, speaking of 'win win', a reader whom I am certain I know, though we've never met, left the following comment underneath a recent post:


Dear Mr. Back of the Hill,

I am an avid follower of your bloggh. I notice your ability to take any topic, be it Israeli politics, Chinese food, or tobacco inhalation, and run with it, turn it into something creative, thinktanky.

I would very much like to suggest (humbly at this point), a topic for a future post. Perhaps you could write about the connection between the Consitution of Madagascar (text here and Dogshit Golf. This is a topic connection that very interests me, and it would be great to read about it on your bloggh. My request right now is humble, but I might get more forceful if you express misgivings about writing such a post.

Thank you

Your Energetic Reader

[End cite.]

I do not have a dog. Consequently, I must approach the subject of whacking any evidence of their digestive process with golfclubs with considerable caution. On the plus side, I live in San Francisco, where there are lots of dogs, of all possible dimensions and personality profiles. One must take care not to loft a chihuahua with a mashie-niblick.
They're small, and quite disgusting; it's a natural mistake.
Why are chihuahuas dumber than rabbits?
They're the same size.

Given a choice between the two, the sensible man picks the rabbit.

Copyright: /

The Constitution de la IVe République (11 décembre 2010) states preambulatorily that "le peuple malagasy souverain, affirmant sa croyance à Andriamanitra Andriananahary, résolu à promouvoir et à développer son héritage de société vivant en harmonie et respectueuse de l'altérité, de la richesse et du dynamisme de ses valeurs culturelles et spirituelles à travers le « fanahy maha-olona »

[Notation: Dans Wikipedia, il est expliqué que "Andriamanitra est un terme servant à désigner la divinité suprême. Andriamanitra signifie littéralement « seigneur parfumé ». ]

[The problem is that Mister Tu does not rotate his pipes very often ("ever"), and never cleans them. They are always soggy. Every three or four months he brings them in for me to ream and clean.]

From an anthropological view, Madagascar is a fascinating place, as the dominant culture reflects a connection with Indonesian (Bornean) origins, long isolated and transformed. Linguistically the native language (Malagasy) is a relative of the entire Malayo-Polynesian group. The population is a stable mixture of roughly equal parts South-East Asian and East-African ancestry.

[They are sodden and tar-stained by that time, filled with sticky carbon deposits.]

Especially in the traditional caste / class divisions of society does Madagascar show relationship with their kin across the ocean. Many of the terms and titles used are clearly of Malayo-Polynesian derivation, though the exact roots cannot always be recognized. For someone fascinated by languages, reading long lists of Malagasy words is both addictive and frustrating. What does it all mean? How does this relate to similar words which I already know?

[A pity, because Mister Tu has some eppes nice briars.]

Of course, framing their constitution in French further frustrates. Especially when they speckle that language with long poly-syllabic constructs that are unknown. It's like reading English with key concepts framed in Russian.

[That resemble sewers at the end of the cycle.]

The present Madagascene constitution has one hundred and sixty eight articles, not a single one of which mentions golf, whether suburban country club style or urban-defecatory. I fear my "energetic reader" is off on wild goose chase.

[Very wet and stinky sewers.]

In fact, given the absence of ANY connection at all between the constitution of the fourth republic and "dogshit golf", one naturally suspects that the presumed link was picked at random, and that one could as easily and imaginatively posit a relationship between that document and rat crack, cigar smoking Hhasidim, the Keter Aram Tzova, the Shir HaShirim Asher LiShlomo, and that helicopter which is flying overhead. There is certainly no less fibre between them.

[Anyhow, after I'm done, they are one hundred percent smokeable again. And they look and smell decent.]

To the best of my knowledge, urban yuppies in Madagascar do not habitually whack pet excrement over the garden fence at their neighbors. That, truly, is an all-American custom. And given that we have so many canines in San Francisco, I refuse to go into the yard for fear of flying poo. Crazy I'm not.

[I clean up toxic waste dumps.]

What particularly strikes me though is the fact that the central kingdom had a number of strong female rulers. In that they also resemble their distant kin, particularly the Achenese and Minangkabau. Both of which are at heart matrilineal societies, though modified by a strong Islamic identity.

[I'd really like to sit him down and explain: "Mister Tu, do NOT constantly smoke the same pipe! Let it rest after use, and employ pipe cleaners!"]

In the case of the Achenese, who call their land "the gateway to Mecca", because pilgrims took ship there for the Arab world, the state institutions were based on Muslim standards. Whereas the Minangkabau, equally fervent in their faith, never the less preserved the superior position of women, and ranked men's rights to property and status as subject to their wives and their in-laws.

["Both bristly (to remove tar inside the shank) and fluffy absorbent ones (to sop up those nasty vanilla fruit loop caramel juices)."]

In Acheh, like in Minangkabau, men gained independent wealth and status by moving out, and consequently both groups have trade links across the entire archipelago. Their position "at home" is often a discordant and inferior one.

["And while RLP-6 is a might fine product -- it must be, seeing as every pipestore in North America sells it in some form or other -- it is very much like a syphilitic whore of whichever gender; seemingly charming, but not the relationship you want for your son or daughter."]

One peculiarity that crops up in Malagasy history is the custom that the queens solidified their role by marrying their prime ministers.

["Popularity does not mean worth associating with."]

Some of whom they subsequently assassinated for being bothersome old cocks. In a few cases they then ended up marrying the decedent's brother, who had inherited the position.

["Try some nice Oriental blends, Mister Tu. Or a maidenly Virginia and Perique compound."]

It's a peculiar way of establishing authority. Conceivably this is an East-African influence.

["If you treat your pipe like a friend, she may eventually love you."]

Imagine that Elizabeth had to marry David Cameron. Hardly a match made in heaven. One can only roll one's eyes at the concept of combining that with regular democratic elections and the prospect of regime shift every four years.

["As it is, she bites, blows, and sucks."]

And what on earth would a parliamentary vote of no-confidence mean under those circumstances?

["And this one -- a beautiful black blasted Peterson bent billiard with a silver rim -- has developed cracks in the bowl."]

The Thatcher years would have been surpassingly surreal, almost defying description entirely.

["I've repaired it, and I think the fills will hold. In any case there's enough caking on the inside to maintain a modicum of structural integrity."]

Come to think of it, they were. Those were horrible times! Commoners and Andriana both saw their traditional position diminished, the economy of the Island was in shambles, and the combination of colonial rule and abolition of slavery imposed severe hardships on outlying cities of the realm like Belfast and Glasgow.

["But for crapssakes, Mister Tu, smoke clean! If you let a pipe dry out, and thin down the cake regularly, it will not crack, and you'll get many more years of pleasure out of it."]

In 1970, the British Empire lay in ruins, foreign nationals roamed the streets -- many of them Hungarian -- and many of these Hungarians went into Tobacconist's shops to buy cigarettes.

["Yeah, I know. RLP-6 just tastes SO effing good, when the tars and saps hit boiling point and that intoxicating vanilla cream perfume fills your sinuses."]

Hungarians are all in all rather like the Vazimba, living in the big rivers like the Amazon. They are larger than frogs, and eat honey.

["But good lord, Mister Tu, good lord."]

What sets them apart is the tradition of 'turning the dead' ("famadihana"), which involves removing the body from its sepulchre and re-wrapping it in fresh silken shrouds. This honours the omnipresent soul of the expiree ("ambiroa"), which permeates the tomb building, the family household, and the hills and valleys of Magyar Kuztaarsaszaug.

[I tried RLP-6 once.]

Even for the most well-to-do Magyar, this involves considerable expense, because of the need to host huge numbers of relatives and observe all the correct protocols. But is gladly done, due to the importance of the ancestors in the lives of their descendants.

[Sometimes risks are worth taking.]

Without their benevolent influence, there would be no protection against Gypsies, and the family farmlands would be over-run with horse-drawn carts, wild goats, and thousands of little unwashed black-haired children running riot and stealing eggs.

[Sometimes not]

Carpathia is a harsh mistress, gringo, and will kill you in ways you cannot imagine.

[Good pipe tobacco only, boys and girls, good pipe tobacco.]

It is to their credit that the Malagyarsy have, like the people in Marin, invented tofu as a Vegan substitute for eggs. Especially because eggs keep disappearing.

[Aromatics have no morals.]

Always protect your eggs, gringo. Always. The world is filled with young men who attack things with golf clubs.

[Do NOT douse yourself with cheap perfume.]

Perhaps they're in that helicopter that is flying overhead. I wouldn't put it past them. Flying Gipsies!

[I'm a missionary for clean living.]

When all else fails, hold onto your teddy bear!

[Depravity has to be tasteful and discreet.]

It's probably a good thing that neither rabbits nor chihuahuas are native to Madagascar. Or even urban male yuppies with clubs and Gipsies.
Given that they take over the territories and food-sources of other creatures, like Hungarians and lemurs.

And penguins.

[Not advertised to one an all with Hello Kitty odours.]

"What about the penguins", I hear you wailing, "will no one think about the penguins?"

Please don't worry.

I think about the penguins.

They are constantly on my mind.

Probably splendid with a squirt of Sriracha.

I was in Marin all day today, absorbing the stimulation that is guaranteed by the presence of cigar smokers. They are such intellectually rewarding influences. It's refreshing. I feel like a brand new man.

Why IS a helicopter flying overhead?

I am a pipe smoker.


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


A reader whom I think might be female took offense at a recent post here, and speculated that I might have a bee in my bonnet.
Perhaps, even, an unhealthy fascination.

She (or he) is undoubtedly wrong.
If it is so, it is not at all unhealthy.
And quite utterly normal, in fact.
As most men will naturally agree.

All males are hamsap. Even the most complete gentleman will still have thoughts of a prurient nature, though his visage will not betray this.
It's just the way men are.

Most women find this hard to appreciate.

The reader of a possibly feminine gender left a comment underneath an essay written three weeks ago.

"Dude, what is it with you and breasts? You mention them so obsessively I wonder if you spend all day think about them.

Anyway, seeing as you are so opinionated about boobies, do you have any recommendations or deep thoughts about bras?

Inquiring minds don't really want to know, but they are curious."
End quote.

[Underneath this post: Udderly Insane.]


No, I have neither recommendations nor deep thoughts about bras.

Bras should not be deep in any case.

Let me instead make some remarks about panties, of which there are several types, viz: Bikini Briefs, French Cut Panties, High Cut Panties, "Boy Shorts", Thongs, Granny Panties, and Hello Kitty Boxers.
Along with Bloomers, and certain support garments.

Bikini briefs have a low waistband, and look good on Manga heroines and almost no one else. Many women find them problematic because of a sense of insecurity.

French Cuts have higher leg openings than Bikini Briefs, canted forward, and are both more comfortable by far, and really flattering for many women. Though naturally it is something that only the person wearing them will know most of the time.
Exceptionally feminine.
Perfect, even.

High Cut panties have deep leg openings and a high waistband, and are more in-tune with the natural body shape of many women, especially those of more generous proportions.

Boy Shorts, or Boy Cut Panties, are cut low and cover most of the bottom and hips. They do not reveal the typical pantie line. They are most suitable for women of peculiar build, and very few others.

Thongs consist of a twist of fabric running deeply between the cheeks, and are dubious in the extreme. Possibly only party-girls should wear them. They do not suggest sound moral fibre.
They are an abomination.

Granny Panties should really be worn only by grannies.

Hello Kitty Boxers are an extremely unsuitable garment!

Bloomers often have lace and ruffles, in addition to being baggy and not at all convenient or attractive. But they are extremely comfortable. Unless we're talking about sports or athletic bloomers, which are form fitting and dark-coloured, and appeal most marvelously to certain perverts and many men who still live at home despite being far beyond college age.

Support Garments for the nether region often feature in maternity catalogues. That being a literary category with which I remain almost entirely unfamiliar.

Piping, gussets, panels, lace trim at the hems, and pretty stitching are also factors to consider, as well as bows, ribbons, and appliqué. Panties with just the right accent can't fail to make a good impression

Personally, I consider French Cuts by far the most suitable.

In order of appeal, from most to least: French Cut Panties, Hello Kitty Boxers, High Cuts, Bikini Briefs, Boy Shorts, Granny Panties, Bloomers, Support Garments, Thongs.
But that's just an opinion.

Please note that upper undergarb and lower undergarb need not match.

Under no circumstance is a 'his & hers' look acceptable.

I encourage experimentation.

Let me know.

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Saturday, November 22, 2014


It's been nearly two years since I ate there last. That time was so memorably horrid that I haven't been back. I walk by it at least once a week, but I dare not go in.
When the food is edible, the service is repellent. If the service at least sincerely means well, the cooking is somewhat on the far side of mediocre. I've tried the place often enough to know what I'm talking about, and to know better.

The only thing good is the Hong Kong style milk tea.
I'm a sucker for a really nice cup of tea.
Strong, sweet, bitter, creamy.
Served near boiling.

If the saucer wasn't awash while the waitress carried it, it will be when she has plonked it down. But it's not that she wishes to infuriate.
She's completely and genuinely oblivious.
And she really doesn't care.

And by "she", I mean all of them. Each and every member of the staff, as well as the people who own the place. For such a thoroughly miserable restaurant it is surprisingly long-lived. It's been around for years, and some of the old chumps who go there are doggedly loyal.

It was one of the very first cha-chanteng (茶餐廳) in Chinatown, and their pastry items are actually quite good. But their cooked dishes are often absurdly appalling.
I'm a white dude, and even I can do better than that. Far better. Heck, the affable Palestinian burger-flipper three blocks away could do better.
An elderly Russian bachelor boiling a pair old boots could.
Common, guys, you're supposed to be Chinese. Culinary dna flows through your veins, you nose-bleed kitchen skills.
You pride yourself on your cooking.


I keep walking by, and remembering the last half cup of milk-tea I had there. I would have liked a full cup, but it had spilled into the saucer before I got it. And that saucer did not look clean.

No, shan't mention the name of the place. That's something that the scum on Yelp would do. Besides, unless you're a crusty old Toishanese fart you aren't likely to go there.
Because you already know they don't like you.
The milk-tea can't possibly be that good.
You'll get it somewhere else instead.
Without the shitty attitude.

There are, in fact, a number of places in Chinatown that do very nice Hong kong style milk-tea. Most of them unfortunately close at six o'clock, but two places within a block of the worst restaurant in Chinatown are open till eight. One is a very nice bakery that also makes a stellar Japanese-style cheesecake (日式芝士蛋糕 'yat sik ji-si daan-gou'), the other is a cha-chanteng where the boss-lady and waitresses welcome me, and are sincere and considerate to strangers.
You know, I like that.


By the way: the phrase in Cantonese shown above is what I heard one of the customers at the worst restaurant in Chinatown snap at the waitress.
你嘅肝腸係壞咗 'nei ge gon cheung hai waai jo'.
At least, I think that's what I heard. It means "your liverwurst is spoiled".
A baffling commentary, if I've understood it correctly. Very likely a superlatively imaginative insult that I am unfamiliar with.
But I agree. The metaphor is quite apt.
It's beyond off, it's rotten.


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Friday, November 21, 2014


The English affection for peas has always baffled me. Oh sure, peas are a mighty fine legume, and nothing dolls up mediocre suburban Chinese and Indian food like the judicious addition of frozen peas to a dish. Gosh, it's just so pretty, all fresh and green (and frozen).
Truly the highlight of cuisine in Fremont.
Or Iowa. That's a suburb, right?

On a lark I threw a nursery rhyme into Google Translate.

Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold,
Peas porridge in the pot, nine days old;
Some like it hot, some like it cold,
Some like it in the pot, nine days old.

This is the result in Chinese:


This is the result in Dutch:

Erwten pap heet, erwten pap koud,
Erwten pap in de pot, negen dagen oud;
Sommigen houden van het heet, sommige van het koud,
Sommigen houden van het in de pot, negen dagen oud.

These languages, as regular readers will have grasped, were not chosen at random. They are in fact co-languages of my world. Not dominant tongues -- that position is fully occupied by the original peas porridge sprach -- but by no means invisible whispers in the personal realm.
I wouldn't describe either translation as idiomatic, but they both communicate the essential spirit of the lyric.

Peas porridge is the British equivalent of hummus. Made of yellow peas instead of kikerwten, with bacon instead of olive oil. It could be delicious, if the bacon is smoked and sauteed garlic were added.
Just put some Sriracha in it for a sparkling zip.

Ene geraffineerde potagie.

In the Netherlands we make erwtensoep, also called 'snert', instead.
A stew, with a variety of vegetables, made thick with split pea puree, with a smoked hamhock and thick smoked sausage added. It's cold weather food, best in mid-winter. There is no vegetarian equivalent.
Tofu and tempeh are NOT substitutes for pork.

One of these days I shall make hummus with three or four freshly fried bacon strips on top. I think it will be absolutely divine. Some chopped cilantro, garlic, and a squirt of Sriracha added.
I can already feel it in my mouth.

Got pita?

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Sometime around now last year, various people who could not find the Netherlands on a map if it were marked in big bold letters saying "THEY SPEAK CHEESE HERE" formed opinions about a cute little tradition of the Dutch, namely having people wear splendid mediaeval drag and caper around with their faces painted black, scaring little kiddies.
Now, of course I think it's a mighty fine tradition. Not because I'm a racist, but because I am biased against other people's nasty children.
The little shits need to be hounded, mercilessly.
Badly behaved monsters.

And, upon mature reflection, you will realize that this is indeed so. Your own precious loin-fruits, if they're still small are making your life 100% miserable, and if they're already grown-up they are driving you into the poorhouse, what with having to take remedial English and social basket weaving studies at Harvard, Yale, MIT, or whatever other damned tradeschool you've shipped them off to for eight years.

If anything, your children are racists. You know that they'll react badly to what would be a normal face except that it is a shiny neon-black, jumping out at them and screaming "boo".
If they didn't have all manner of praeconceptions -- praeconceptions that YOU inculcated in the little turds -- they would NOT react with shock, surprise, and crap in their trousers terror.


And, speaking of racism, I am keenly desirous that some true-blue disapproving American type explain to me why Thanksgiving is not a horridly insensitive celebration.

As I understand it, we took corn, turkeys, and wide open spaces by the bucket load from the natives, and gave them smallpox, measles, and syphilis in exchange.

Yes, I know that getting the better part of the deal is more than sufficient reason to be filled with glee, and it does call for massive celebration.
But isn't it just a tiny bit nauseating? Should our schadenfreude at their getting royally shafted really be so bold, so blatant?

Can't we just discreetly withdraw to our various severe Protestant churches, lock the door for an hour or two, and quietly thank the good lord for the opportunity to screw over our little red brethren, without inviting them or any inconvenient witnesses in to observe our joy?

Now, tell me again why you think mediaeval finery and sooty facial colour is not quite cricket.

At least the sober Dutch promise the little terrors a good thrashing if they've misbehaved.

Whereas most mono-lingual English-speakers keep assuring them that an unshaven lard-ass pervert in a never-washed red bathrobe is going to give them Playstations and Videogames. All they have to do is sit on his lap, then he'll order his height-impaired indentured servants or illegal aliens to take care of everything, and they'll get candy, too!

Plus turkey in November, and in December.

Mustn't forget the damned turkey.

It's our best theft.


No, I don't have any plans for Thanksgiving. Just gonna get my Scrooge on real early this year. I'm completely unattached, no kids or nearby kin, I can do that. Unless there's something nice wrapped in tasteful lingerie under the tree I don't intend to put up, I shall ignore Christmas also.
I'm not a celebratory kind of guy.

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Thursday, November 20, 2014


If it weren't for cell-phones, all the law-office drones heading home on the number one California Street bus would probably talk. Considering how noisy that would be, I am glad that they can scroll through their text messages and stock-reports instead.
I usually wander down to the end of the line to catch the bus as it heads out; that way there's no crush, and I can ensconce myself before it fills up. Walking six blocks east is easier from Chinatown than even three blocks west. Down a gentle slope rather than up a very steep hill.

From four o'clock to seven o'clock, that bus line is pandemonious. By the second stop the vehicle is already filled, by the fourth there is no standing room left, except for a stretch in the back that law-office employees seem to feel is off-limits. The area near the back door is completely cluster-fudged, because many of them think that an entry way is the perfect spot to come to a dead stop, cling on to a pole, and read their e-mails, oblivious to whether anyone needs to get on or off.


Well, yeah. But if you get in the way of a little old lady, you're asking for trouble. She's had it with your type. You never open the door, you never move aside, you never say 'excuse me'. You are, like many law-office workers in downtown San Francisco, a rather sorry excuse for a human.

Oh wait; you're a programmer? That might be even worse!

Marketing and Sales types are totally bestial.

As everyone except them knows.

I will gladly confess that I do not like much of modern society. This is a generation that feels entitled, and truly believes that they themselves are far better and more deserving than any one else.

Many of them are not from San Francisco, but hail from hinterland California and all the other states in the Union. Some of them are Aussies or Brits, and a number are technologically educated foreigners.
But as individuals, they are largely interchangeable.
There is nothing truly unique about them.

Of course, not everybody on the bus is like that. A number of the other passengers are middle-aged hatched-faced law-office harridans, angry that they are no longer springy or attractive, and oblivious to the fact that their dark emotions are reflected in their bitter body language.

Gluten intolerance, creativity, entitlement, attitude, ass, and an ocean of ignorance; these are the characteristics that fill the bus during rush hour.
I often seriously enjoy people watching.
But these folks are repetitive.

There is no lightness to their being.

I would take the Pacific Avenue bus over the hill instead, but that's always filled with twenty-something white folks pissed-off that so many Chinese people also want to ride. You can smell their anger-hormones, and tell that they are tightly clenched and seethingly resentful.
Good lord, some of those "Orientals" are carrying food!
How perfectly horrid! Why do they need to eat?
There should be rules against that.
Forbid all food and drink.
Except Starbucks.

I love all of you.

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At this very moment I am sitting in front of my computer, certain in the knowledge that on Saturday evening I shall not be adhering to my predictable schedule.
Normally on that day I return from Marin, prepare myself a quick dinner, and head out to the cigar bar armed with two or three fine briars, and a pouch of aged Virginia -- often a flake, often one with Perique in the mix -- and on the whole a very positive attitude. There are several good friends and acquaintances whom I expect to see there.
John, "G", Edwin, Jimmy, Shan, Josef, Amin, Chung, Jogger, Justin.
The Idiot, Eric, Nicholas, Sint-O, Pino, Dante.
Mark, Robyn, and their friends.

Not this coming Saturday.

I know who is working that night.

Consequently I am staying the hell away.

There are two pipes I smoked tonight. A nicely grained pipe from France: Sommer, Paris, Grand Luxe, three stars, classic pot shape; plus a Hardcastle Sandblast, Made in England, saddle stem bent dog.
The first is a memento of a trip, the second was purchased at Grant's on Market Street before stupidity closed their doors.

Saturday evening is wide open.

Being a single man in his early middle age, I should be out there acting like a wolf. But that is not my style. Instead, I shall be sitting at home, most likely, reading news articles and Wikipedia before going to bed.
Polk Street will be a hothouse; hormonal madness.
South of Market ditto; crazed sexfiends.
A city awash with sleaze.

Unless inspiration strikes, I shall have a last pipe of the evening wandering around the neighborhood at around nine o'clock or there-abouts, with naught but an aged Virginia Flake for company.
It could be very much better.
But good enough.

By the way: The Parisian pipe has superlative wood. It's old, the surface translucence is phenomenal; deep, iridescent, rich. It smokes like a dream. Probably one of the finest pieces of briar I've ever found.
Too good to waste on a misadventure.

With aged Virginia flake.

No drama at all.


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Wednesday, November 19, 2014


The Maus was the biggest tank ever built. Naturally, that excites the passions of many men, because large military equipment paints pictures in their eyes worth more than a thousand realities. This is mirrored in the mental state of souvenir shoppers, when they see a humongous multicoloured vase in a Chinatown window.

"It's big. So big. Dang, it's beautiful!"

Actually, it's a piece of crap, and the kiln that produced it put someone else's name on it because they do not wish to be known for such garbage. But it IS big. And they know how your mind works.

We take travellers' cheques and credit cards.

And we'll ship anywhere.

It's 'big'.

When it comes to martial hardware, it isn't just men that act all gooey. Heck, martial anything. This past Saturday evening a lot of gentlemen in dress uniforms wandered around the Financial District, with drooling dewey-eyed does dripping from their arms. And yes, they did indeed look deliciously manly.
They were also bright-eyed and freshly scrubbed.
And very well behaved.
A credit.



The combination of cute girlies and butch equipment is dynamite. Surely you remember Rosie The Riveter? Well hot dog jayzus, totally killer.

I can understand the appeal of Girls und Panzer to many viewers, heck, even I find the show charming, innocent, and strangely thrilling. Japanese schoolgirls, military marches, and rolling stock. It is, if you will indulge me, both loopier than and better than The 'X' Files. Fairy tales for the over-excitable.

Due to several previous youtube searches, one of the videos that ALWAYS shows up, no matter how inappropriate for the moment and non-sequitorial to the item viewed, nay absurd in any context, is an instructional piece on making Cantonese Roast Pork (燒肉'siu yiuk').
In Vietnamese it is called "thịt heo quay".
Yep, halfway down on Girls und Panzer. Same when watching IDF soldiers marching to the wall. Lectures by a rabbi? There's the roast pork again. Videos of crows, badgers, ferrets, bears, and kittens?
The battle hymnn ("Dimonios") of the Sassari Brigade? Isis shock videos, the Muppets and Kermit the Frog, Swedish Chef making Pöpcørn with "captions" (hoo ha!) turned on? Thịt heo quay.
Youtube desperately wants me to enjoy pork!
Why, it's delicious! It's huge!
Thịt heo quay.

I've got my own recipe.


Two LBS pork belly.

½ tsp salt.
3-5 tsp sugar.
1½ tsp five-spice powder.
½ tsp white pepper.
1 tbsp 花雕 (Faa Tiu rice wine from Chekiang).

[Dry sherry can substituted for the rice wine. The tastes are very similar, and sherry is available from nearly every supermarket, unlike good rice wine from Shaoxing (紹興 'siu hing').]

Rinse the piece of pork belly well. Heat a little water to boiling in a shallow pan, put the meat skin side down in there to blanch; most of the flesh should be well clear of the water. This will tighten the skin.
Take it out, let it dry skin side up for an hour. Stab the skin very many times with an ice-pick. Flip it over, and jab at the meat fiercely with a knife to make shallow thin gashes. Mix the ingredients for the marinade together, and thoroughly rub it into the meat and the sides, keeping the skin clear. Place the pork belly, meat side down, in a dish with the rest of the marinade, rub some vinegar and a pinch of salt over the skin.

Place it in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. This will dry out the skin, while the marinade flavours penetrate the meat.

Remove the meat from the fridge, and put it on a rack over a pan of water, skin up. Rub a little more vinegar into the skin. Preheat the oven to 400 - 425 degrees Fahrenheit (approximately 220 degrees Celsius), then bung the whole arrangement in to roast for forty to forty five minutes.

At this point the skin should be fairly crispy, but you can stick it under the broiler till the optimum degree of crispy-crackly has been achieved; the skin should be bubbling.

Take it out, let it cool for twenty minutes or so, and chop it up.

It's wonderful with rice and a squirt of Sriracha.

Siu yiuk is far better than that dry turkey your aunt Pattipoo always insists on making every Thanksgiving, which is coming up again in eight days. Maybe you should prepare some in advance, and sneak it in.
Your siblings will thank you, and if you give the plate of turkey to the dog, Fluffy will quiet down for an hour or two also.
It's that stuff in turkey.

Probably the only reason why turkey is so traditional is because it's big. Very big. Enough for an entire family and several generations.
It's a BIG meat.

By the way: the three characters on the tanks rolling across the screen near the end of the video above are 黑森峰 ('haak san fung'; black forest peak or cliff). Probably the name of a girls' school.

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The text that that gentleman is writing on the blackboard is 春城無處不飛花,寒食東風御柳斜;日暮漢宮傳蠟燭,輕煙散入五侯家。In the springtime city no place lacks swirling petals, on 'Eat Cold Food Day' the breeze inclines the willows; at dusk there's a flickering of candles in the Han Palace, drifting whisps of smoke enter the homes of the five great lords.

Tang Dynasty regulated verse by Han Hong (韓翃 'hon wang').


Chun seng mou chü pat fei faa,
Hon-sik tung-fong yü lau che;
Yat-mou hon-gung chuen laap-juk,
Heng yan saan yap ng hau gaa.


The pronunciation of Chinese has deviated since the Tang era (唐朝 'tong chiu' 618 - 907 CE), so the rhymes no longer hold.
The transcription here is in Cantonese.

寒食 ('hon sik'): The day when fires aren't lit and cold food is eaten; the Chingming festival. Usually the fifth day of April, except in leap-years, when it is the fourth. Tomb-sweeping day, when graves are cleaned and ancestors reverenced.
飛花 ('fei faa'): Flying flowers; swirling petals, a flurry of blossoms; a marking of spring.
東風 ('tung fong'): East wind.
御 (''): Manage, govern; resist, defend.
斜 ('che'): Oblique, aslant.
日暮 ('yat mou'): Day-dusk, sunset, at twilight just before darkness.
漢宮 ('hon gung'): The palace of the Han dynasty; here a clue that the poet refers to something both other timed and other placed, as he is writing several centuries later.
蠟燭 ('laap juk'): Waxen tapers; candles and oil lamps for reading by.
散 ('saan'): Dispersing, scattering; leisurely, at random; dispelled, disemployed.
五侯家 ('ng hau gaa'): Literally, "five marquis family", the semi-royal homes, but here an oblique reference to the core of important courtiers and eunuchs.

Like many other examples of regulated verse, especially the single quatrains, the interpretation is dependent on the mood inculcated in the reader, and his or her familiarity with implied details.
Take the thought, and mentally go further.

[Post pursuant an article in Time Magazine: Why Mandarin Won’t Be a Lingua Franca.]

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