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, April 26, 2015


A friend informs me and his other Facebook friends that an Arizona chap objected in writing to a giggling and otherwise expressively happy toddler in his neighbor's back yard. The article mentioning the incident is easily found, so no need to link it. In essence, the obsessive-compulsive noodge neighbor was concerned that his two high-strung hounds and a bird would not deal with this situation, and freak-out. Bad parent!
They suffered, he opined, and that was unacceptable.
He threatened to call the cops on the kid.
Unless this behaviour stopped.
Childish joy.

I may not have re-acted well when I suggested "shoot the damned dogs; they're nuts."

Seriously. If your dogs go batshit when exposed to children, they need to be put down. I don't care that they aren't even vicious dog-fight Dobies. Chihuahuas? They do not belong anywhere near a child.
Nor even a non-football halfback or pro-wrestler.
They don't belong anywhere.


From a similar source comes news of airline employees reacting badly to moms breastfeeding their infants while on board. Apparently, even if the tits are covered up, and the mother and child are skulking discretely in a back seat turned away from the aisle, some people will be shocked, horrified, disgusted, and profoundly disturbed.

The very idea of breast not covered by a layer of tarpaulin, ugh!

Those people do not need to be around other humans.
Dump out of the plane, Do it in mid-air.
Along with the dicky stews.

Save the breasts.

"Shoot the damned dogs; they're nuts."

In the same vein, a lobster restaurant on the East-Coast banned screaming children, and got one hell of a backlash from offended customers, who wished to bring their horrendous brats to dinner.

Personally, I cannot think of a greater potential disaster than arming some of those ADD monsters with lobster mallets and claw crackers and unleashing them on crustaceans and the dining public.

It's a sinful waste of lobster, is what that is.
I would pay to watch it, though.
Victor gets boiled.

I now have an idea for a brilliant new weekly television show that will revolutionize entertainment television. It includes breasts, loud infants, dobermans, more breasts, mayonnaise, lobsters, and seafood Cobb salad. Plus more breasts. Breasts are always good clean fun.

Reality teevee meets zom-bitch apocalypse.
Culinary competitiveness.

Filmed on an airplane.

In other news, variations on Sophia and Olivia are extremely popular girls' names in the English-speaking world, along with Holland, Brazil, Italy, Denmark, France, Germany, Argentina, and Scotland.
I do not know why I now now this.
Or why it's even useful info.
Thank you, Yahoo.
Shut up.

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

Saturday, April 25, 2015


Four years ago, in severe reaction to an internet weasel who commented disparagingly about the appearance of Cantonese girls, I wrote a post asserting that indeed a fair number were quite comely.
No, ain't going to bore you with a reprise.
Instead, a definition of terms.
Followed by a rant.

Internet weasel: someone who, usually under a pseudonym, makes statements to rile people up, OR takes delight in spewing irritating crap. That's a very narrow definition, it can be expanded greatly.

Cantonese girls: a female person of Southern-Chinese ethnocultural derivation, whose age is somewhat immaterial to this discussion, but you may assume that what is meant is an individual of post-highschool years, and safely before she looks like grandma. When Cantonese girls are grandmas, you might not know in any case; fewer wrinkles than Caucasians, and probably quite a bit less hefty too.

[By that definition, my grandmother could have given any Cantonese girl serious competition: petite, elfin, and fine-boned. She was a stunner when she married my grandfather, as anyone could plainly tell.]

Comely: from old-English "cȳmlīc", meaning of pleasing appearance, pretty, lovely, attractive.

The other day my apartment mate, who actually IS a Cantonese girl, was watching a true crime documentary, during which an advertisement for the NoNoPro played at least three times. Naturally I looked the product up on the internet. Some people opined that it was not as good as a wax job, and left a smell of burning hair in its wake.

This I mentioned to her. So she asked me to look up the Epilady. Because that's what the internet is for; satisfying intellectual curiosity.
She was more than passingly familiar with the Epilady.

Cantonese girls sometimes have hairy legs.

Perhaps you did not know that.


Actually, almost all women have hairy legs. In the case of pale Northern Europeans you might not notice it as much, because the hair colour won't stand out quite so boldly, and for black women the same holds. But any of the people with skin types between pale ivory and a medium dark olive, if they have black hair, will be quite self-conscious of it, if they are female. Obsessive, fussy, and neurotic.
East-Asians even more so.
Consequently they are always on the look-out for a quicker and more surefire method of yanking out those pesky obvious hairs, that stand out even from a distance, and make them feel like a Yeti.

Men never do that. Obsess about leg hairs, that is.
We're perfectly fine with our hairy gams.
Mmm, the fine shaggy thighs!

There have been times I could hear my apartment mate in her own room swearing up a blue streak as she dealt with the issue. Much as I am fond of thighs and calves and finely arched insteps, I cannot judge the results of her depilatory actions, nor wager whether the effort was worth it or not.

She is a Cantonese girl, but we are not in a relationship. If we were, gentlemanly discretion would still prevent discussing the matter.

I will however affirm that she is beautiful. As are all women who are snarky, quick-witted, intelligent, and foulmouthed when circumstances warrant.

What I can say is that she weighs less than an equivalent white woman, and is unwrinkled. She no longer yanks out white hairs from her head in my presence, so maybe she colours them.

Her hands are small and elegant, her fingers are narrow and tapered.
Her bone structure is delicate. She wears clothes well.
More waif-like than statuesque.

In her mind there are many Cantonese girls who are far more attractive than she is. She would never describe herself as beautiful or even pretty, the furthest she'll go is "not too damn goofy looking".

Never-the-less. And be that as it may.....

Cantonese girls are beautiful.
Despite their hairy legs.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
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Friday, April 24, 2015


If you came to this blog, it was because of several possible interests. You could be into pipe-tobacco (which most of my readers aren't), Middle-Eastern bloodshed (much the same as pipe-tobacco), food, odd linguistic stuff, Dutchness, Chinatown, neighborhoods in Hong Kong, or animal tales. There's even a chance that you are fascinated by clothing. Specifically, stylish clothing, emphasis on underwear. Such as is suitable for poncing around the house while wearing, along with a briar pipe in the mouth, or enjoying a small cigarillo and a cup of strong coffee.
Male or female. Private poncing makes no gender distinction.
What you do in your underwear is nobody's business.

[NOTE: Over two weeks ago I analysed visitor data, and took one finding as the premise for a post. Happily, and tongue-in-cheekily, I speculated that enormous numbers of Russians in the hinterlands of Muscovy were cruising the internet for naked men, such as I myself daily am. See this essay: 'naked and alone'.
Then a dreadful realist called me back down to earth, by stating the obvious: "some sort of trolling tool has your site logged and it trolls the site for comments that contain e-mail addresses to use for phishing/spam. No one from Russia is actually visiting this site. If you utilize Google Analytics, you'll see that the majority of hits from the Ukraine, Russia and China are on the site from 0- 10 seconds. Trolling tools. Not readers." Which, had he been a regular reader of this site, he would have realized I already knew, seeing as I've often mentioned spam-bots and gibberant commentary underneath posts. Never-the-less, the idea that depressed Slavic types choose to cheer their grim selves up by exploring the wonderful world of Nakedmanistan amuses me. Hence the occasional mention of middle-aged male nudes. I am male, past my twenties, and when circumstances require not fully clothed.]

Underwear. Boxer shorts. Grandaddy pants. Scanties. Little scraps of fabric. He-man garments. Long Johns, Short Johns, and perhaps No Johns At All. The tent where Jones lives. Loin cloth or more.


You will be pleased to know that today is a happy underwear day.
Not female gatkes -- comfy or otherwise -- but boxers.
Stylish short-like garments for smoking.
Cigarillo now, pipe later.

Today I am wearing octopussy pants. Pale green boxers with a pattern of smiling octopuses. Octopodi. Octopi. Eight-legged aquatic beasties with big grins on their ponims. Their good cheer is my good cheer.
I've got other happy undergarments.
One with little owls.
Also happy.

Under my clothes, cephalopods.
Imagine that.


The primary reason for bringing this up is that another person recently called me "mister grumpy pants". I wish to assure him and everybody else that I am NOT a grumpy pants. More a 'dancy pants' type, or a 'bemused pants', 'dreaming pants', 'eating dinner pants', or, last but not least, a 'happy pants' type. As well as 'octopussy pants'.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
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Thursday, April 23, 2015


When the MTR is finally completed, Kennedy Town will loose the 'beyond nowhere' ambiance. At present, the best way to get there is by the double decker trams (香港電車,西行 'heung gong din che') that run along Catchick Street to Davis, which is the last stop but one on the westward leg. One block north is the New Praya along the water, one block south is Kennedy Mansion at Belcher Street; classic crowd-housing. In between is Hau Wo Street, which stretches for only one block between Davis and the parking structure on Smithfield. Small eateries, laundromats, and shops selling items for daily use.

[Trams: 香港電車 ('heung gong din che'; incense harbour electric vehicle). The Hong Kong tram company (香港電車有限公司 'heung gong din che yau haan gung si'; 有限公司 = "have limits public manage", LTD) started service in 1904. Riding a double-decker tram is probably the best way to see the island, and during the day service is regular and frequent. Western District Trams (西環電車 'sei waan din che')) run along Catchick, then loop on Cadogan.]

My prediction is that someone will eventually want to turn Hau Wo into a destination restaurant alley. If by now that hasn't already happened; there's plenty to eat there already.

Sun Hing Restaurant, where drunken expats go for early morning eaties, is at number eight Smithfield Road where Hau Wo ends. They open early, but by a more reasonable hour (like, say, seven or eight A.M.), the clientele consists primarily of aunties and uncles scarfing down runny custard buns, siumai, and hargau.
HKU students flock here later in the day.

Do not go there at three A.M.; that one trip to Lan Kwai Fong exposed you to enough Smashed Aussies and Hamsap Englishmen to last a lifetime, you don't need anymore.
There's only so much 'Oy-mate' ruckus a grown man can take.
Beyond that it becomes dreary and repetitive.
And English perverts are jejeune.
As well as dirt-common.

[Honestly why DO so many Englishmen (and Dutchmen, Germans, etc.) display their worst side when abroad? Thailand, apparently, now assumes that every white visitor is there only to engage in degeneracy, and Malaysia justifiably employs the rotan on misbehaving white backsides. European cities standardly call out the riot squads when soccer fans flock in from neighbouring countries. Americans, I concede, are certainly not known for classy behaviour, but Euries get smashed everywhere they go, and then start waving their privates around. 
Or vomiting. It's quite incomprehensible.]

Shop C, Ground floor, 8 Smithfield Road, Kennedy Town.

Trust me, everything is 太好食,舊式點心風味。
You will love it.

It isn't a large place, and may feel a bit crowded. But the food is great, the ambiance vibrant and bustling, and the staff friendly and helpful.
If communication becomes an issue, just point.
And please don't act drunk or hamsap.
Enjoy your meal.


One other major reason to head west is books. A university bookstore is, naturally, a major magnet. The Hong Kong University Press does a few dozen titles a year (the best dictionary for students of Cantonese is one of theirs, BTW), and many of their publications are worth acquiring.
 See this link: HKU PRESS

HKUP Bookshop
Ground floor, Run Run Shaw Heritage House, Centennial Campus, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong.

Open five days a week, holidays excepted.
Ten till tea time.


Kennedy Town: 堅尼地城 ('kin nei dei seng'; solid nun ground city). Catchick Street: 吉席街 ('gat jik gaai'; propitious seat street). Davis Street: 爹核士街 ('de wat si gaai'; daddy kernel scholar street). New Praya: 堅彌地城新海旁 ('kin nei dei seng san hoi pong'; solid complete earth city new sea-beside). Kennedy Mansion: 堅尼地大廈 ('kin nei dei daai haa'; solid nun great multistory). Belcher Street: 卑路乍街 ('pei lou jaa gaai'; inferior road primary street). Hau Wo Street: 厚和街; 'haau wo gaai'; generous harmonize street). Cadogan Street: 加多近街 ('gaa do gan gaai'; add much nearby street). Sun Hing: 新興 ('san hing'; new prosperity, up-and-coming). Smithfield Road: 士美菲路 ('si mei fei lou'; official beauty luxuriant road).

Drunken: 醉 ('jeui'), 醉醺醺 ('jeui fan fan'; quite plastered), 飽醉 ('baau jeui'; filled up), or 爛醉 ('laan jeui'; stinko, rotten drunk); people from the British Isles are frequently 醉到啤啤 ('jeui dou pei-pei': lacquered beyond the point of being a spectacle).
Hamsap: 鹹濕 "salty - greasy"; perverted, lecherous.

Runny custard buns: 流沙包 ('lau saa baau'; flowing sand bun; 流沙 = quicksand). Apparently it's delicious. Siumai: 燒賣 (roasted vends; pork and sometimes shrimp in a pasta envelope; rarely beef).
Hargau: 蝦餃 (shrimp bonnet).

I have never had a runny custard bun, in case you were wondering.
Never even knew that there was such a thing.
And yet, I am drooling.

A few dimsums that one must try:
Haahm seui gok: 鹹水角 ("salt water cornet"), deep fried pork dumpling. Fan gwo: 粉果 ("starch fruit"), a Teochow pasta bonnet with diverse filling. Wu gok: 芋角 ("colocasia cornet"), fried taro pouf around a meaty filling, extremely good to eat with hot sauce. Yu chi gaau: 魚翅餃 ("fish fin dumpling"), shark fin dumpling; a mixed filling item so named because of the cunning way the dough skin is folded along the top.
There are, of course, very many others.

For a complete listing of dimsum, see this essay:
Dim Sum: Kinds, Names, Pronunciation (March 28, 2012)

Lan Kwai Fong: 蘭桂坊 ('laan gwai fong'; orchid laurel lane), a bar district in Central (中環 'jung waan') filled with clubs, misbehaving Westerners, and hip dives. A place to avoid. Smashed Aussies: 醉酒佬 ('jeui jau lou').
Hamsap Englishmen: 鹹濕英紅 ('haam sap ying-hong').
Euries: 歐垃圾 ('ngau laap saap').


Pok Fu Lam: 薄扶林 ("indifferent protection forest"), a village in Hong Kong (薄扶林村 'pok fu lam chuen') and the valley of the same name, on the other side of the hill from Kennedy Town. This is where the first dairy farms were established, so that Englishmen could have a proper tea, such a beverage being theretofore utterly unknown in China.


The settlement was founded in the sixteen hundreds or before. A local shrine, the Li Ling Fairy Tower (李靈仙姐塔 'lei ling sin je taap'; Li spiritual immortal elder-sister pagoda) is probably the only place where the spirit Lee Ling is venerated. According to local lore, centuries ago the village was tormented by ghosts. One night miss Lee appeared in a dream to a resident and promised to drive away the spirits. Since then the village has been under her protection.
The tower honouring her was built in 1916. Though many of the villagers are now Christian, there is still a modest yearly festival associated with the two-storey monument.

Presently modern housing development threatens the village.
It is likely that it will make way for apartment blocks.
Trampled under the hooves of progress.

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They have gai choi and yuen sai. As well as bottles of abalone sauce, and abalone - scallop sauce. These are big bottles, and there is only one of me. So it would take months to finish even half. Besides, I have a smaller size bottle of the abalone sauce at home, which is enough.

There are also cookies there, and condiments galore. Their vegetable selection is rather sparse, but, on the plus side, there is a cat.

A very large gingery cat. Who is friendly, but likes to play-bite.

I need to stress that it is a very likable cat.

Fun to pet. And tell 'no'.

As in "no, I am not edible". Or "no, I don't think you want to do that". Or even "no, I have to leave now, it's nothing personal".

I could've spent hours patting the kitty. While avoiding it's sharp friendly teeth. Seldom have I met so utterly endearing a feline, fearsome claws and jaws not withstanding. What really made the experience exceptionally worthwhile was that the cat had deliberately sought my attention, and let me know that I was a perfect fellow.

Cats and dogs seem to think that I smell intriguing.

Other humans, not so much.

Any day now I expect to see the stupid bipeds panicking and running away screaming. Although one of them did opine that 'Ah Sook' (by which she meant me) was an altogether decent sort.

Ah Sook often gets a cup of milk tea and a snackipoo there.
Has been doing so for years.


Herewith words for you.

Yuen sai (芫茜): cilantro. Gaai choi (芥菜): stalky mustard, a beloved vegetable, which has a slight bitterness and an appealing crunch. Very good with abalone sauce (鮑魚汁 'bao yü jap'), and probably no less good with abalone - scallop sauce (鮑魚瑤柱汁 'bao yü yiu chü jap'). Cookies: 曲奇 ('kuk kei', "crooked strange"), but in this context biscuits (餅乾 'beng gon', "pastry drieds"). Condiments: 香料 ('heung liu', "fragrant ingredients), or 調味料 ('diu mei liu', "change taste materials"). Cat: 貓 ('maau').

Ah Sook (阿叔): uncle. Lord knows I don't feel uncle-like. Not even avuncular. But apparently I look it. Non-threatening at the very least.
I don't know how I got here.


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Wednesday, April 22, 2015


Follows a description of noteworthy activities last night after returning from associating with rabid republican weasels at a smoke-filled environment.

Dang, those people are nuts. Did I ever mention the overweening sense of entitlement some of those folks have? Rational people prefer to sit outside, or utilize the comfy chairs when the raptors are absent. I consider my work therapeutic for them, but sometimes I feel shell shocked.
Good thing there are some pipe smokers too.
Not just cigar-huffing rednecks.

But anyhow.

Activities of note:

1) Ten minutes performing corrective surgery on a Teddy Bear.

The bear in question belongs to my apartment mate, and is named Ms. Bruin. She's a very dignified bear, albeit a little worn.
In many ways she is the totemic presence in our household, as well as being my apartment mate's oldest and best friend.

One of the seams was coming apart.
Tools needed: needle and thread.

I appreciate my apartment mate, and do not wish her to be despondent. So of course my deft fingers were at her disposal for this task.
A mission of mercy.

Respect the bear!

2) Ninety minutes refinishing a pipe.

It's a Peterson System Standard, shape 307. The upper edge needed to be taken down by a fraction to restore the crispness where previous use had rounded it. Additionally, the hole was slightly off. In some ways I am utterly anal-retentive. The woodgrain had an intriguing peculiarity, being from nearer the center of an old burl, probably towards the top. Both the remarkable surface translucence and the refractive quality indicated ancient wood. Peterson System pipes are rather a fondness of mine. I now possess five of them, one of which belonged to my father. The last time I visited him I found another one at a Tobacconist in Woensel -- a dark sandblasted piece made for the European market -- so upon my return to the United States there were two such handsome smoking objects in my luggage.

Fine grit sandpaper, files, and various stains.
A home-made polishing compound.
Plus a bit of heat.

3) Three hours of watching peculiarity in North Beach.

And by peculiarity is meant rambling madness, hippies, and stupid drunks. It's a tradition now hoary with age. No matter how much the Bookseller and I resist, our hostess at the last place we visit on our weekly jaunt demands that we have another drink. When our resolve falters, the next morning brings regret.

Last night was pretty okay. Other than the two of us, there were no other Caucasians in the bar. Nothing spells disaster like a horde of tattooed white twenty-somethings full of themselves belting out karaoke songs and downing shots of cinnamon-whiskey. Likely they are all marketing or sales department coolies trying to regain their missing manhood (or womanhood) by arrogance, misbehaviour, a profound sense of entitlement expressed by forcing everyone else to listen to Hotel California, and pissing drunkenly in their jeans because they cannot figure out where the restroom is (it's right behind them, FYI).

We are very tolerant men. We merely observe.
And mentally encourage them to leave.
Please get run over out there.
Find a bus somewhere.

Our hostess at the third place is over a decade older than we are. Her liver probably needs a vacation. Karaoke is nobody's business.

The other woman there last night is a very naughty girl.
But she's going back to school, which is good.
She left before the madness ended.
Which is even better.

I don't have to go to work again till Friday.

Snackiepoos, milk tea, long walks.

No mayhem planned.


Oh, plus ogling girlies. I am a very clean man, but my eyes are a bit dirty-minded. Training them to be otherwise has proven quite impossible.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
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Tuesday, April 21, 2015


Ross Alley is one of the most-visited areas of Chinatown. Reason being that it is non-threatening -- no obvious signs of cannibalism, white slavery, daemon rum, and drug addiction -- and contains, in addition to a Christian mission to the heathens, also a fortune cookie factory, a picturesque old geezer, a learning annex, and a trinket shop.

And a smallish pale purple brassiere.
Which reflects impeccable taste.
Slightly padded for comfort.
Discreet lace edging.

Given this data, it should not surprise you at all that there are often tourists present. They're timorous beasties, and quiveringly follow the dictats of their tourguides, without whom they would be lost.

Ross. Easy word. Tourists.

But the smallish brassiere is an anomaly. It is by no means a permanent and admirable fixture, alas. It fluttered down from on high while I was strolling through the alleyway. I would have picked it up and possibly rushed off with it, but there were tourists there.

Consequently my only connection with the tasteful pale purple garment is that I keenly feel for the woman from whose window it fell. There were other items still hanging there, to air-dry while their owner is at work, but they were to far up to accurately identify. Although one of them may have been a pair of light blue panties.

It may have been her favourite bra. Such things are precious.
People of both genders are often very attached to one.
And, if it's comfortable and well-designed.....
A profound loss! Worth lamenting!

I can intensely imagine her heart-ache when she comes home and finds it missing. If I ever meet her, I should gladly buy her a replacement.
I feel that it would be a gallant thing to do.

An ice-breaker, in any case.

I wish I could say more about the bra, perhaps creatively speculating about the person who used to wear it, her home life and personality as suggested by the garment, but I only saw it briefly. One does not wish to be noticed staring at a woman's bra, you see, and although I looked back quickly several times to ascertain that it was still there, those were only fleeting glimpses, from progressively greater distances. So, other than hue, padding, shape and curvature, plus the discreet lace edging (white), there is not much I can report. Couldn't even speculate about the proportion of cotton versus synthetic fabric.

'Tis a sad, sad loss.

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

Monday, April 20, 2015


After riding the San Francisco buses, eating in fine monstrously inexpensive eateries in Chinatown, strolling down busy thoroughfares, and doing other things one naturally does while living urbanly to the max, it strikes me that many new arrivals in this city -- such as internet yuppies, marketing types from godforsaken places between the Oakland Hills and the Alleghenies ("Flyoverstan"), and godhelpus, tourists -- do not understand the art of behaving gracefully in public and not offending other people.

Very well then. Here are some pointers.
Please memorize them, dipshits.
We might like you better.

Offer your seat to women and old folks.
Also parents with children.

That last item is because small persons surrounded by gigantic glandular freaks like your own Midwestern or Texan selves may get crushed on a bus, OR could experience panic attacks if all they can see is giant crotch.
Remember, kids bite.

Don't talk with your mouth full.

Splendid chompers. Especially if you're English.
I damn-near upchucked. Thank you.
I paid for that meal.

Open doors, and hold the door open for the person behind you.

What, you think you're the only person coming in or going out?
Not all doors are automatic.

Don't stare at people eating with chopsticks. That's any people, but especially whites. It isn't unusual, and only requires a little more dexterity in one hand than knife and fork in two.

A well-aimed chopstick flung with sufficient force can skewer your eye and drill a hole right through both sides of your head at eight-hundred miles per hour. And, if plastic, can easily be wiped afterward.

Find out how much Golden Gate Transit buses charge BEFORE you intend to board. 

They don't take credit cards, Muni passes, tourist discount cards, bottle caps, travellers cheques, pounds, dinars, or fifty dollar bills.
And we already know this isn't Europe.

Change will NOT be given.

It's a machine.

Eating a sandwich with a knife and fork is absolutely ridiculous.

No clarification needed.

[Jawel, beste 'Ollanders, in deze kontrijen beschouwt men een boterham als zijnde iets dat men met de handen eten kan. Net, dus, als 'n kroket deswelks men by Fema koopt, of een smakelijke haring. Doe alstublieft niet zo stom.]

Feel free to try eating it with chopsticks.

We like being entertained.

Do not block the sidewalk. Yes, those are tall buildings.

See, we discovered concrete, rebar, and modern architecture a while back. Why, we haven't used mud and wattle in years! It's surprising what you can do with structural engineering.

Unless it is served in a cup, and does not have noodles, soup is meant to be slurped.

That's just the way it is.

Hey! I'm walking here!

Remember that.

LASTLY: please do not conduct loud cellphone conversations in public, do not try to ignore the cripples and fossils whom you should offer a seat by studiously attending to your text-messages and facebook page, get out of the way, stop punctuating everything with the F word, cut the privileged attitude, do NOT cluster in front of the back door of this bus oblivious to everybody else's need to enter or exit, wipe that disapproving scowl off your pasty white face, and don't talk louder because you think we're stupid.

Oh for craps sake! Simply ditch that damned cellphone.
Here, let me show you how it's done.
There's an open window.
You're welcome.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
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Sunday, April 19, 2015


For some reason, women worry about me eating. I cannot figure this out. Maybe they believe adult men should look fat.
Or paunchy. And I do not fit the bill.
Being a rather scrawny old boy.
I will admit that I'm much more casual about food than when I was in a relationship. Food, you must understand, is something fun to do when you are with someone. If not, you simply snack as needed (or many hours later), while drinking a hot beverage and watching people.

Recently I had a club sandwich. Which distressed BOTH of the women where I ate. They would never have guessed that I was the customer who ordered such a thing. It was eccentric, and confused them.
But, in all honesty, a club sandwich is fun. Toasted white bread. Fried egg. Avocado. Crisp lettuce. Tomato. Cheese. Bacon. Carefully constructed, then cut into four triangles held together by toothpicks, and arranged to form a box-like containment, wherein a handful of fries.

A delicious and nutritious work of art.
Verily, a masterpiece.


Contrasting textures, savoury and warm. A view of Washington Street, as well as down the alleyway with the banner advertising Waisihongsan Yansam (威斯康辛人蔘). It is fascinating to watch people pass by, often looking baffled or lugging stuff, as well as parents accompanied by their children traversing the alley. The baffled people are usually tourists. They tend to avoid the alleyway, even though as alleyways go it is a very NICE alleyway. There is an herbal doctor, a printing company, a long-established herbs and dry-goods store, seller of cd's and tapes, old-fashioned jade shop, gundam and action figure shop, and only three mahjong parlours. At the far end it is cornered by a medical herbs shop. An active and commercially still vibrant part of the neighborhood, though slightly grungy.
But not particularly tourist-inviting, more our kind of place.
I often wander through smoking my pipe.

It was the second time I've had a gongsi saammanji there within a month. The first time the person taking my order didn't bat an eye-lid, but she did ask me to confirm that that in fact was what I really wanted. There were two other people working there the second time around, who are more used to me requesting either a porkflossed bun or something sweeter than that, OR going into the dining area and having an actual hot cooked meal.
But sometimes you simply want something lunchy.
It's a tea restaurant. That isn't unusual.
And food is boring at mid-day.
Teatime is perfect.

[Tea restaurant: 茶餐廳 'cha chaan teng'. A place where Hong kong style Western foods, plus snackies and quick meals are served. There are a few of them in Chinatown, and they're all favourite places of mine for very different reasons; not only because of their particular foods, but they're also unique people-watching environments. They're called 'tea restaurants' because they all serve a notorious quick burst of 'wake-me-up', that being hot and strong black tea made creamy with evap or condensed milk.
Naai-cha (奶茶) is a very good beverage. Your synapses will thank you. Porkflossed bun: 肉鬆飽 'yiuk sung bao'; a sweet bread roll with a rich layer of crispy pork fuzz baked on top. Similar to the scallion and pork floss roll (葱香肉鬆卷 'heung chung yiuk sung kuen'), which is also mighty good.]

The club sandwich is in most people's estimation strictly a lunch item. But lunch is vastly overrated; no main meal of the day should follow breakfast so closely. That's very American and quite unhealthy.
Even if one does not eat breakfast.
Which I never do.

The ladies who work there can understand a snackipoo after four or five in the afternoon -- many people either delay dinner for a few hours, or revive their spirits with something before going home -- but a club sandwich just does not strike them as a suitable evening repast.
It's cannot possibly be filling enough!
And where's the rice?!?

You know, grown men can take care of themselves.
A little practice makes perfect.

Oddly, I feel like having a gongsi saammanji right now.
How sad, the tea restaurants are presently closed.
It might have to be a fried egg again.
With a little hot sausage.
And noodles.

Probably best to have one or two almond biscuits with crumbly cheddar, followed by a scoop of cardamom ice-cream.
I've already got some milk tea.
A calcium-rich repast.

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One might want porkchop soup noodles, fried porky dumplings.
Perhaps even a side of red-cooked eggplant.
Breakfast of champions!

Especially with hot hot tea.

[Respectively: 豬扒麵 ('chyu paa min'), 生煎包 ('saang jin baau'), 紅燒茄子 ('hong-siu ke ji'). The tea, of course, is gong sik naai cha. But you knew that.]

Alas, one must be disappointed.


Perhaps the most telling customer comment is "食物普通service差", which means that the food is by no means stellar and the service is both haphazard and apathetic. One might expect more from a restaurant on Holland Street.  Holland Street, verdomme! As a Dutch speaker, I think it would be utterly lovely if indeed it were better.

I like cheap Shanghai eaties.



What's amazing is that there is (was) another place on Holland Street for such things: the "Shanghai good-good short-rib noodle" (上海好好排骨麵 'seung hoi hou hou pai gwat min'). Unfortunately, it's closed. Holland Street just isn't a winning location. And I cannot figure out why. Surely the locals haven't wigged on to the fact that people like me are notoriously cheap and bitchy?
And if they have, why on earth should that make a difference?
Most of us have better manners than mainlanders!
We speak the nicest language: Dutch.

[Nicer than Shanghainese in any case, except perhaps to a Shanghailander. Sure, horking up rough Germanic hairballs may sound nasty, but that hissy sodawater syphon speech from the Whangpoo fair turns the kidneys.]

Holland Street stretches from the Sai Waan Kai Fong Fuk Lei Wui to the Praya. Just one block. The bus stops there. That, in a nutshell, is the most exciting thing. There are NO windmills or tulips there. Apartment towers, twenty-plus floors of tight dwelling spaces, but still better than the old-fashioned lodgements in the decrepit seven or eight storey apartment buildings along Sands Street, where it crosses Belcher.
Worse buildings. Peeling paint. Rusty louvers.
Those typical semi-barred windows.
But such better food.

Remember that. Kennedy Town, Belcher Street.
A bit seedy, old, and falling apart.
It's a nice place.

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Saturday, April 18, 2015


For the past few days I have been entertained by crackpot conspiracists venting about Jade Helm. According to the prevailing batshitters, military exercise Jade Helm is the secret and dastardly plot by this administration to impose martial law, exterminate between ten and twenty five percent of the United States population, imprison large numbers, and clear the way for either United Nations control OR a dictatorship by the Bilderburgers / Rockefellers / Koch Brothers.

Just look up 'Jade Helm' if you want to read balderdash.

[By balderdash is meant stuff that other loonies have written. Not MY stuff. Good heavens no. I am a sane loony, they aren't. Surely you grasp that?]

Elements of the theories that they are running with have been recycled from previous spew-streams. Fema camps, secret communists, anti-Christian plots, a fear of foreigners and the urban educated classes, outer-space alien thought control, and the lizard people.

What is remarkable is how little actual information is needed to over-excite the minds of liquored-up inbreds.

Jade Helm is an eight-week (starting in mid-July) joint military and inter-agency unconventional warfare exercise to be conducted in areas of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah and Colorado. Participating units come from the Department of Defense and U.S. government, and include the U.S. Army Special Forces Command, U.S. Navy Seals, the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command, the U.S. Marine Corps Special Operations Command, U.S. Marine Corps Expeditionary Units, the 82nd Airborne Division, et autres.

The looniest fringe believes that it is specifically directed against Texas, for the express purpose of destroying the most resolute and Christian freedom loving flag and gun waving state in the Union.
And locking up all true Americans.


The articles on survivalist and "patriot" websites speak darkly of troop movements, plans for resistance, and plots to stockpile arms and ammo for the great clash at the endtimes. Why were so many American military officers "retired" during the past ten years? Why is everyone involved strenuously denying that evil is afoot? Why is the federal government NOT addressing every single overly detailed longwinded question rife with bad grammar and misspellings fired off by indignant and confrontational internet warriors?

This lack of clarity is very very suspicious!
The Feds have been co-opted!
Look, black helicopters!
Secret forces!

Martial law!!!

Anybody who disputes this "patriot" nonsense is labelled a government operative, disinformation agent of PsyOps, and likely a liberal.

Which, of course you understand, I am. All of that.

I have your names and know where you live.

My true-form is Alien Lizard.

I am ravenous.

Step AWAY from the Bourbon bottle!

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Friday, April 17, 2015


So the question is "why are you up at five thirty?" After all, reasonable people are still deep in the arms of Morpheus at this hour.

Actually, it's already bright morning on the East Coast -- several FB friends are already up and kvelling or kvetching -- mid-afternoon in the Netherlands, just before Shabbes in Israel and another night of xenophobic riots and looting in South Africa, and early evening in Hong Kong.
In other words, the perfect time for a cup of tea.

Decided at six-thirty yesterday evening to take a nap. Had arrived home about an hour earlier, after a post-lunch smoke (pipe) in Chinatown, down on Walter U. Lum Place overlooking the square. Which followed some lomaikai and wu gok on Jackson Street, and a watch battery change on Stockton at a place where my cleverness in Cantonese was sincerely much praised. Diction, pronunciation, phrasing: chan hai hou cheng!
Yeah, sometimes I actually sound like a native.
Just don't ask me any deep questions.

Disestablishmentarianism? Existential angst? Nuclear fission?

At that point I become a wizz at changing the subject.

Actually, I'm that way even at the best of times. Non-linear thinking, flights of fantasy, and an over-stimulated mind.


Michael in New York states: "When I think white trash, I think Alabama, the Florida panhandle, and plenty of rural America. To me, Ohio is boring vanilla white milquetoast America. Though supposedly Cincinnati does have good chili.
As for Cleveland, I believe it was 30 Rock that once joked that their slogan should he "At least we're not Detroit!" "

See, this is what happens when you sleep for ten hours straight. You end up in discussions about which state is the absolute worst.

I said it was Ohio.

The crack of dawn is the worst state.

In less than four hours I shall be in Marin County.

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Thursday, April 16, 2015


In Northern Ireland two women know each other because one of them tried to find her doppelganger. She and two friends wanted to see if there were "twins" out there, people who looked exactly like them.
The woman in question turned out to have a duplicate living within a few miles, so she contacted her, and the two of them arranged to meet.
No, they're not related. But they probably do have some genetic material in common.

It's an interesting experiment.

As far as I know, I do not share DNA with anyone in San Francisco, seeing as I landed here five hundred years ago on a flying saucer.
It's true.

According to google, I bear a striking resemblance to ALL of these fine human specimens.

You will kindly note that NONE of these handsome dudes has a pipe in his mouth, OR wire rimmed reading specs perched on his nose.

Several other "likenesses" also showed up, more Northern European than these gentlemen. But they all had such eccentric facial hair and bad clothing choices that they could not possibly be related.

None of them had a Hello Kitty backpack (for use only when travelling to and from Marin County).

Nor did any of them look like a badger.

Which farklemps me.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015


Having purchased a pack of candy, I was disturbed, nay, outraged, to discover that despite the pretty picture it was gluten free, fat free, and corn-syrup free.
This candy was all-natural. Good for you.
No artificial colours or flavours.
And just not very exciting.

Let me just interject here that I do NOT wish my sins to be healthy.

There's a place on Pacific Avenue which has all-natural meat, dairy, soy, and gluten free hamburger patties. As wells as bits of low-salt bacon-like substance which are also devoid of animal proteins, milk product, soy, peanuts, and gluten.

Repeat: no meat, no gluten, no dairy, no soy.
Non-allergenic, ultra healthful.

One imagines some very white people chowing down on such things. Not, please understand, white by pigmentation, but white by bollocky attitude. So white that their auras are bland and spunkless.

In the past they would have been very Christian, but having dumped their patriarchal religion for some meaningful and spiritual sh*t, they need something to feel puritan about.
And, coming from a culture that cooks like crap, they have naturally chosen food as their fleshy mortification.

Real people -- who may also be white -- enjoy their food.
Whitey-whites want to suffer instead.

Not surprisingly, there are two yoga studios within walking distance of the frankenfood enterprise, as well as a place where high-colonics can be had by appointment only (because walk-ins are almost definitely crazy as bedbugs, and could be dangerous), plus a teacher of tantric meditation, and some very frightening art spaces. If it weren't for the Chinese who also live in the neighborhood, Pacific Avenue between Stockton and Polk would be a strange alien colony, possibly from outer space.
As it is, it's filled with white people being all that they can be.

You know, I'll gladly eat kosher and halal food. But white food scares the crap out of me. It's culinary inbreeding on a plate.

Dairy-free cheese? What the hell is that?
Vegan gluten and soy substitutes?
Non-pig-sourced bacon?

What probably happened is that two holiday tofurkeys escaped several years ago, and mated. Being so very lacking in DNA differentiation, it was like incest among tea-party morons, and the results were degenerate mutants. Their spawn roam the hills of San Francisco, procreating edible lumps of vegetarian sawdust, beloved by superior white people. People who are filled with a soft golden light, who believe in cleansing, anal health, infinite grace, and greenness.

Yoga makes you poo!

Which is essential if you eat all this whitey-white food.
There's nothing there to stimulate your bowels.
It's light, airy, and flavour-free.

And best of all, it was manufactured to the most exacting standards by a tribe of natural people deep in the Amazonian rainforest, using only wheat-free wheat and soy-free soybeans. Plus green technology.
Sustainable, fair trade, and no waste.

Yoga makes you poo!

Eating this stuff proves your superiority.
Special food, for special people.

I had pork, cheese, and bread today.
And I feel darn good about that.

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There was a sound of savage howling from Broadway in which the words "motherf*(ker" and "I'll f*9k you up" were prominent, and repeated.
A goggle-eyed yuppie-type, probably a drugged-out computer programmer stopped and begged me to give him seventy five cents. "It's real important, dude, I really need seventy five cents!".
He looked far too clean and prosperous to justify donating any amount of money, and I adamantly refused. I do indeed judge people by their appearance, and the circumstances in which we meet. And I do not like opportunistic attempts to gain money or sympathy right outside bars, banks, or drug stores. It suggests bridge trolls. I don't pay them either.
I had stepped outside to smoke. It was long past midnight.
Northbeach is where the buffalo roam.
Mad drunken buffalo.

For many years, the bookseller and I have met for drinks once a week. Rotgut red and coffee over deepfried stuff at one place, a pint of beer down the road, and Irish whiskey elsewhere. We've happily observed the rutting and madness at the intersection of Broadway and Columbus, as well as heard the foul bellows of twenty-somethings at karaoke.

[SOURCE: Nighthawks painting at The Art Institute of Chicago, wikipedia commons, Nighthawks by Edward Hopper 1942 . From Wikipedia article: Nighthawks.]

We both used to live and work nearby. It never was much better.

There are two Broadway bums I rather miss. One of them was Rufus, who only had four sentences: "gimme a quarter", "get me some Ripple", "buy me a hamburger", and "got a cigarette?". The only other thing I can recall coming out of his mouth was when we ran across him in front of the stairs with his pants down around his ankles, and he graciously indicated that my girlfriend and I should go on up ahead.

Old wrinkled naked black arse-wattles are just as unsightly as old wrinkled naked white arse-wattles.

I cannot unsee that; you cannot unread that.

Picture moist and spongy looking.

You are welcome.

Social services finally took Rufus away. He probably lived for several more years, and they had to burn down his room when at last he fell asleep.

Something about the person trying desperately to get seventy five cents suggested a Ripple binge. A search for meaning, perhaps an experiment with living disgracefully, possibly depression over being in San Francisco long after the beat generation.
Maybe an existential crisis. His snake died, there is no on-line support for his favourite video game anymore, a frantic attempt to be far less dull and standard-issue, or despair over Starbucks not being open at that hour.
I doubt that it was anything significant.

Perhaps he intended to join the unhappy rowdies on Broadway, and pacify them with a slug of Ripple. Ripple is potent ju-ju. It suits the clean and financially prosperous young elsewhere-migrant perfectly.
And it's far better than fruity cocktails.
Or mojitos.


I've had popular American fortified dessert wines only once. It was end of term at the academy, and we took up a collection to send someone out for drinkies. One should never task an elderly hippie with getting liquor; we were expecting maybe some chablis, or a nice chardonnay.
We'd even settle for rosé. But we got bum wine.
More bang for the buck.

It is by far the most popular beverage in North Beach.

Nah, not going to mention the name of the place where we were drinking whiskey. It's a dive, but gratefully they do not serve Ripple.

When we left, the noise from Broadway had subsided.
The dessert wine had taken effect.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015


Given how many of my friends and casual acquaintances have turned out to be closet Republicans, now that we have a Kenyan Muslim in the White House -- especially since that same Kenyan Muslim sold Israel downriver to the Iranians to please his masters the Muslim Brotherhood and Saudi royal family -- the coming year and a half should prove very interesting. Oh crap.
I dread the completely whacked-out bullpuckey which well-meaning idiots will in all seriousness forward to me.
Because, of course, they have a direct line to the truth.
And I am clearly too stupid to find it myself.
This truth, which is their truth.
And totally true.


[SOURCE: Algemeen Nederlands Persbureau (ANP).]

Like all previous elections, I resolve to flame anyone who advises me which way to vote based on religion, gun rights, previous service to the nation (or pathetic excuse for same; please note several Republican candidates in years past), clan or klan, marijuana affiliation, or whatever the hell it is Cynthia McKinney and Ralph Nader stand for.

Especially religion. Too many damned Christian nutballs. We don't need another one in the White House.

I am for gay rights, women's reproductive rights, and tobacco rights.

Opposed to gun nuts, vegans, and anti-smokers.

Please, nobody from Texas or Alaska.

And no Bible-thumping freaks.

Or greenish crusaders.

On the other hand, I reserve the right to call Bush, Rubio, Paul, and Cruz every name in the book, call their sanity and intelligence into doubt, and call down damnation upon them and all the hinterland rubes who thinks these subhumans might make a good leader.
As well as remind them that in the past they adulated Romney, Cain, Palin, Bachman, Gingrich, Santorum, and a multitude of other slope-browed money-grubbing corporate windbags.

The shortest line between two entirely UN-connected bits of data goes through batshit country. Combine this with the sense of entitlement so many people feel, and serious crazy starts bubbling up.
No, Obama is NOT a Kenyan Muslim. And none of the Bush clan qualifies as the Messiah. Rubio and Cruz are genuinely dickheads, they're not just playing to the gallery. Ohio is white trash central.

BTW: the Bible isn't the word of god, and we aren't a Christian country. Evolution and climate change are facts, not conspiracies. Get your kids vaccinated, or shoot them to put them out of their misery and keep them from infecting other people.

The UN is not planning to take over the US.

Again, no damned fundamentalists.
Is that perfectly clear?
Screw them.

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Monday, April 13, 2015


A casual acquiantance expressed curiosity about my blog. "What", he asked, "is it about?".
Well, it isn't about anything. There is no great over-arching theme, and no dominant political or philosophical viewpoint that I espouse and wish to trumpet to the world. No obsessive conspiracy theory with everything written in screaming caps, nor any passionate crusade.
It's a soapbox. Just me blathering.

Sometimes people visit. Which is nice. A few of them become regular commenters. Which is nicer.

The top things to read here are:

It's a list (with clickable links) of nearly everything I've written about pipes and tobacco, updated sporadically. Many briarmen head directly here to read, leaving all other stones unturned.
Non-pipesmokers don't go.

Self-explanatory. Essays about food, including a very long list (DIM SUM: KINDS, NAMES, PRONUNCIAT​ION, DESCRIPTIO​N) which is the all-time most read and visited blogpost I've ever written.
Here in San Francisco, dim sum can be taken for granted.
Not so much in other parts of the world.
Hence the long list.

Three recipes for a very Cantonese concoction popular at New year. The name is symbolically homophonic in the dialects spoken south of the passes, less so or not at all in the north.

A food item (海參 'hoi sam', bêche-de-mer) which is a bit pricey, but well-worth enjoying. If you are very white you might not like it, but then we're probably not going to eat together anyway.

Short narratives, some amusing, some ghastly. Mostly fantasy.
Many involve animals.

Five very minor categories of note, all labeled-rubrics, which reflect shifting agendas and personal preferences: pipe club, cigar smokers, Hello Kitty, vegans, and raccoons. There may be considerable overlap of labels in these five, as often a post is not mono-faceted.
And there are bonnet-bees.
Oh boy yes.

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It turns out that many American parents, while commendably having figured out how to get pregnant and drop multiple whelps, much like cockroaches, boll weevils, and salamanders, may have trouble employing their brains (main organ of the nervous system, at the top of the spine).
One might doubt their membership in humankind.
We're supposed to be a sentient species.
Some, however, disprove that.

Most mightily.

Rather than encouraging their nasty little slope-browed inbreds to read and expand their minds, some of them would far rather get their panties in a twist and attempt to ban books.

Here are the top ten books that parents (and others) tried to get burned last year:

1) The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: anti-family, cultural insensitivity, drugs/alcohol/smoking, gambling, offensive language, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group, violence. Additional reasons: “depictions of bullying”

2) Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi
Reasons: gambling, offensive language, political viewpoint. Additional reasons: “politically, racially, and socially offensive,” “graphic depictions”

3) And Tango Makes Three, Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
Reasons: Anti-family, homosexuality, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “promotes the homosexual agenda”

4) The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “contains controversial issues”

5) It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
Reasons: Nudity, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group. Additional reasons: “alleges it child pornography”

6) Saga, by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Reasons: Anti-Family, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group. Additional reasons:

7) The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited to age group, violence

8) The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “date rape and masturbation”

9) A Stolen Life, Jaycee Dugard
Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group

10) Drama, by Raina Telgemeier
Reasons: sexually explicit


What some adults would rather their little brats read is happy wholesome stories about handsome highschool football players pounding slutty blonde bubbleheaded cheerleaders just like mom and dad, than anything that does not reflect their own social environment and limited worldview.
Nothing challenging, and preferably Jesus-themed.

And NO gay penguins!
We must ban zoos.


Numerous books were found unsuitable by parents, administrators, political hacks, and frenzied neurotics with puritanical tendencies, in recent years.

Worth reading:

Lifted from a PDF (sourced below), here's a list of stuff that offended the above mentioned trolls (et autres)  in 2013-2014:

Alexie, Sherman
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Removed as required reading in a Queens, N.Y. middle school (2013) because the book included excerpts on masturbation. The book, which tells the story of a Native American who transfers into an all-white high school, won the 2007 National Book Foundation award for Young People’s Literature. Challenged on the tenth-grade required reading list at Skyview High School in Billings, Mt. (2013) because “[t]his book is, shockingly, written by a Native American who reinforces all the negative stereotypes of his people and does it from the crude, obscene, and unfiltered viewpoint of a ninth-grader growing up on the reservation.” Pulled from the Jefferson County, W.V. schools (2013) because a parent complained about the novel’s graphic nature. Challenged in a Sweet Home, Oreg. Junior High English class (2014) because of concerns about its content, particularly what some parents see as the objectification of women and young girls, and the way alternative lessons were developed and presented. Parents of the eighth-graders in the language arts classes received information summarizing the novel’s most controversial issues before the unit started and had the option of asking for an alternative assignment.

Allende, Isabel
The House of the Spirits

Challenged in the Watauga County, N.C. High School (2013) curriculum because of the book’s graphic nature. After a five-month process, the book was fully retained at a third and final appeal hearing. Published in 1982, the bestseller was critically acclaimed and catapulted Allende to literary stardom. The novel was named Best Novel of the Year in Chile in 1982, and Allende received the country’s Panorama Literario award. It has been translated into over thirty-seven languages.

Anaya, Rodolfo
Bless Me, Ultima

Retained in the Teton High School sophomore English class in Driggs, Idaho (2013) despite concerns about the novel’s mature content. Anaya’s best-known work, it was awarded the prestigious Premio Quinto Sol. President George W. Bush awarded Anaya the National Medal of Arts in 2002. In 2008, it was one of twelve classic American novels selected for The Big Read, a community-reading program sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, and in 2009, it was in the list of the United States Academic Decathlon.

Atwood, Margaret
The Handmaid’s Tale

Challenged, but retained as required reading for a Page High School International Baccalaureate class and as optional reading for Advanced Placement reading courses at Grimsley High School in Guilford County, N.C. (2012) because the book was “sexually explicit, violently graphic and morally corrupt.” Some parents thought the book is “detrimental to Christian values.” The novel won the 1985 Governor General’s Award in Canada and the first Arthur C. Clarke Award in 1987; it was also nominated for the 1986 Nebula Award, the 1986 Booker Prize, and the 1987 Prometheus Award. It has been adapted for the cinema, radio, opera, and stage.

Aylisli, Akram
Stone Dreams

Burned (2013) at various locations around Azerbaijan. The novella is sympathetic to Armenians and recounts Azeri atrocities in the war between Azerbaijan and Armenia twenty years ago. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev stripped the author of his title of “People’s Writer” and the pension that goes with it. A pro-government political party in Baku, Azerbaijan, announced that it would pay $12,700 to anyone who cuts off the ear of the 75-year-old novelist for portraying Azerbaijanis as savages.

Chbosky, Stephen
The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Removed from eighth-grade classrooms at Hadley Junior High School in Glen Ellyn, Ill. (2013) because of concerns about sexually explicit content and language. In June, the Glen Ellyn Elementary District 41 School Board overturned the decision and returned the book to the library shelves. Most board members were willing to reinstate the book after assurances from district administrators that a revised parental notification letter would be sent at the start of each school year warning parents that their children could be getting access to sometimes mature content in classroom libraries. Published in 1999, the coming-of-age tale is about an introspective fifteen-year-old high school freshman who writes letters to an anonymous friend. Intelligent beyond his years, he is an unconventional thinker; yet, as the story begins, Charlie is also shy and unpopular. In 2012, a film adaptation of the novel was released to positive critical response and commercial success. The film won numerous awards. Challenged on a summer reading list for incoming freshmen at Wharton High School in Tampa, Fla. (2013) because “it deals with sexual situations and drug use.”

Ellis, Elisabeth Gaynor, and Anthony Esler
World History

Challenged, but retained in the Volusia County, Fla. high schools (2013) despite a thirty-two-page chapter on “Muslim Civilizations” that covers the rise of Islam and the building of a Muslim empire. Protesters believe the Volusia high schools are using the world history textbook to “indoctrinate” students into the Islamic religion and recommend student volunteers tear the chapter out of the 1,000-page book.

Ellison, Ralph
Invisible Man

Challenged, but retained on the shelves of the Randolph County, N.C. high school libraries (2013) despite the book’s strong language. Ellison won the National Book Award for Fiction in 1953. In 1998, the Modern Library ranked the novel nineteenth on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the twentieth century. Time magazine included the novel in its TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005.

Erlbach, Arlene
The Middle School Survival Guide

Removed from the Walnut Street School library in Delanco, N.J. (2013) because “the book provided too much information about sexual issues for middle school students.”

Follett, Ken
The Pillars of the Earth

Pulled from a senior English honors class in the Troy, Penn. Area School District (2013) after parent objections. The objections concerned material of a sexual nature in the book that the parents deemed inappropriate. Published in 1989, the historical novel, set in the middle of the twelfth century, is about the building of a cathedral in the town of Kingsbridge, England. The book was selected for Oprah’s Book Club in 2007.

Frank, Anne
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

Challenged, but retained in the Northville, Mich. middle schools (2013) despite anatomical descriptions in the book. Before the school district’s vote, ten free speech organizations signed a letter urging the Northville School District to keep the book. The letter, which was sent to the superintendent and board of education members, “emphasized the power and relatability of Frank’s diary for middle school students. Frank’s honest writings about her body and the changes she was undergoing during her two-year period of hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam can serve as an excellent resource for students themselves undergoing these changes.” The diary has now been published in more than sixty different languages and is on several lists of the top books of the twentieth century.

Gaiman, Neil

Temporarily removed from the Alamogordo, N.Mex. High School library and curriculum (2013) because of what one parent calls “inappropriate content.” The British author wrote in The Guardian: “Well-meaning adults can easily destroy a child’s love of reading. Stop them reading what they enjoy or give them worthy-but dull books that you like—the twenty-firstcentury equivalents of Victorian ‘improving’ literature—you’ll wind up with a generation convinced that reading is uncool and, worse, unpleasant.”

Green, John
Looking for Alaska

Challenged in the Verona, N.J. High School curriculum (2013) because a parent found the sexual nature of the story inappropriate. The book was a New York Times bestseller and won the 2006 Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in young adult literature.

Ignatow, Amy
The Popularity Papers

Challenged, but retained at two Prosser, Wash. elementary school libraries (2013). Only available to fifth-graders, the story is written in a journal format and drawn by the two main characters who want to unlock the secrets to being popular in middle school. One of the girls has two fathers; the other has only a mother. The American Library Association’s Rainbow Project selected it as a top-ten title for 2011. It was a 2010 National Parenting Publications Association Gold Award winner and selected by the Chicago Public Library as one of the 2011 “Best of the Best” books.

Lyga, Barry
I Hunt Killers

Challenged on the Lexington, Ky. Henry Clay High School reading list (2013) because it is too violent for teens. The book is listed on the Kentucky Bluegrass Awards for ninth through twelfth grades.

Morrison, Toni
Bluest Eye

Challenged in Legacy High School’s Advanced Placement English classes in Adams County, Colo. (2013) because it was a “bad book.” A notice was sent home to let parents and students know what they would be reading and why and an alternate assignment was offered to those who wanted it. Half a dozen students of about 150 opted to read one of the alternative texts and received instruction on those works outside of class time. Challenged on a suggested reading list for Columbus, Ohio high school students (2013) by the school board president because it is inappropriate for the school board to “even be associated with it.” A fellow board member described the book as having “an underlying socialistcommunist agenda.” Morrison is an Ohio native, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, and Nobel laureate.

Myers, Walter Dean
Fallen Angels

Challenged on the Danbury Middle School reading list in Toledo, Ohio (2013) because of inappropriate language. The book depicts the reality of the Vietnam War, with sometimes gruesome descriptions of combat and frequent foul language from soldiers. It won the 1988 Coretta Scott King Award.

Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds
Intensely Alice

Challenged, but retained in the Buffalo, Mo. middle school (2013) despite the principal’s formal complaint against several “very questionable pages” featuring a safe sex scene.

Othman, Norani, ed.
Muslim Women and the Challenges of Islamic Extremism

Banned by the Malaysian Ministry of Home Affairs (2008) on the grounds that it was “prejudicial to public order” and that it could confuse Muslims, particularly Muslim women. The Malaysian High Court overturned the ban on January 25, 2010, and on March 14, 2013, the Federal Court threw out the government’s appeal to reinstate the ban.

Rivera, Tomas
And the Earth Did Not Devour Him

Challenged, but retained as part of the Clarke County, Ga. schools class reading list (2013) despite “a paragraph in the book full of offensive language.” The book is the story of a Mexican boy’s life in a migrant family in the 1940s and 1950s, with themes of family life and tensions, getting an education, and growing up. In 1970 Rivera’s book won the Premio Quinto Sol literary award, established by a California publisher to encourage and promote Chicano authors.

Rosen, Lucy
I Am Bane

Challenged, but retained at the Geneva, Ill. Public Library (2013) despite concerns that the images are too scary for young readers. The film The Dark Knight Rises inspired the book.

Rowell, Rainbow
Eleanor & Park

Retained, despite a challenge by the chairman of the Anoka-Hennepin, Minn. School Board (2013) because parents of a student objected to the book’s content, citing its use of profanity and its treatment of sexuality. The Anoka County Library had scheduled a visit by the author, but the event was cancelled due to the controversy. Set in a poor Omaha neighborhood, the story concerns two outsider teens in the 1980s who find a common bond in music amidst poverty, bullying, abuse, racism, and budding sexuality. Selected by National Public Radio as a 2013 Great Read.

St. Stephen’s Community House
The Little Black Book for Girlz: A Book on Healthy Sexuality

Challenged at the Taft High library in Lincoln City, Oreg. (2013) because “it is simply too graphic for a seventh grader.” Each library book is “run by a district committee made up of district staff and community members.”

Satrapi, Marjane
The Story of a Childhood

Removed, via a district directive, from all Chicago, Ill. public schools (2013) due to “graphic illustrations and language” and concerns about “developmental preparedness” and “student readiness.” Seventh- and eleventh-grade students study the graphic novel about the author’s experience growing up in Iran during the Iranian revolution as part of Chicago Public Schools’ Literacy Content Framework. As the news spread of the directive, students mobilized a media campaign in opposition to “banning a book that’s all about the freedom of speech.” Students took to their Facebook and Twitter accounts, checked out all library copies of the book, wrote blogs, sent e-mails, wrote investigative articles for the student newspaper, contacted the author, staged protests, and appeared on local radio and television programs. Eventually the school issued a letter telling high school principals to disregard the earlier order to pull the book. The book was a New York Times Notable Book, a Time magazine “Best Comix of the Year,” and a San Francisco Chronicle and Los Angeles Times bestseller. A film version was nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 80th Academy Awards in 2007.

Stone, Tanya Lee
A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl

Challenged, but retained at the Currituck, N.C. High School library (2013). This first novel by Stone, written in a poetry format, follows the story of three girls who fall for the same bad boy intent on seducing every girl in school.

Walker, Alice
Color Purple

Challenged, but retained as a Brunswick County, N.C. Advanced Placement English eleventh-grade assignment (2013). Language and sexuality or “obscenity” were most often cited as the reason for the majority of the unofficial complaints and criticisms, as was whether or not the book, a Pulitzer Prize winner that deals with issues of racism, violence against women, and rape, has literary value that was age appropriate for the students.

Winter, Jeanette
Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan

Challenged in Johnson City, N.Y. schools as a suggested reading (2013) because of violent illustrations and storyline. The book is about the Taliban taking control of an Afghan village and preventing girls from going to school. After Nasreen’s father is kidnapped and presumed killed, her grandmother smuggles her each day to an underground school where she can learn to read and write.

Winter, Jeanette
The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq

Challenged in Johnson City, N.Y. schools as a suggested reading (2013) because of violent illustrations and storyline. The book is about a librarian who sneaks books out of a library during the U.S. bombings in Iraq. The librarian works with members of the community to keep the books safe until the war is over and a new library can be built.

Source: Books Challenged and/or Banned - 2013-2014 (PDF)

Also found on the American Library Association site, here are the Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books” of 2013:

Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group, violence

The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James
Reasons: Nudity, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group

A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl, by Tanya Lee Stone
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit

Looking for Alaska, by John Green
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

Bless Me Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
Reasons: Occult/Satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit

Bone (series), by Jeff Smith
Reasons: Political viewpoint, racism, violence


The main reason for citing all this material here is to suggest that juveniles and teenagers could do far worse than to read every book on these lists.
As well as this blog, naturally. In fact, they absolutely should.

Notoriously at the very top for depravity and abysmal behaviour lovingly detailed, there is also The Bible. Rape, incest, brutality, violence, whoring, robbery, gluttony, philokalia, politics, and murder; all of it is in there.
Some damned good stuff, AND mind-expanding.
No football (or cheerleading), however.
That's bad.

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