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.

Friday, July 20, 2018


A viral clip shows what distinctly looks like a young white male of the jock / yuppie / suburban middle class bro persuasion cutting in line at a taco shop in Detroit. After brazenly going to the front of the line, and refusing to allow people who were there ahead of him to have their go, he got head-smacked by another customer. While bystanders remonstrate with the smacker, the idiot line jumper goes right back to the front of the queue.
Things turn ugly. But only a little.

I suspect that the area where this happened is fairly prosperous and middle-class. Because almost anywhere else, the coroners office might have been involved. Or vicious trannies kicking each other in the cahoonts, such as happened not too long ago in San Diego.

[Possibly it was at Hot Taco behind the Fox Theater, somewhere in the 'Entertainment District'. Which is open till two in the morning. And, equally likely, Chaz was intoxicated when he started something, and he thought his friends Bryan, Spencer and Todd, and the rest of his posse had followed him in. They were all needy, young, and entitled. Very special.]

There's a line, dude. Do you really want angry strangers behind you?
Ravenous, late at night, and mad as hell?
Where you can't see them?

Those shrimp tacos are to die for.

My heart goes out to everyone cooking Mexican food for Chaz, Bryan, Spencer and Todd in the heartland. It must be horrible to always be outnumbered by cargo shorts, argyle, and Reeboks.

By the way, for what it's worth, the best line I read today was from a Dovbear post: "while dumb, pathetic white men across the country were chanting "lock her up" ... ". Yeah, that really does say it all.
Welcome, comrade, to Vladimir Putin's America.

Post Scriptum: I live in San Francisco.
The rest of the country is Kansas.
We have much better tacos.
Please don't visit.

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Thursday, July 19, 2018


When I saw Tinfoil Hat Steve harangue a coworker, I decided it was time to make myself a cup of tea. When he left, she took the opportunity to hide in the bathroom. He came back in and told me to expressly inform her that England was constantly shooting guns at us, and the queen was the most evil person on the planet, and ate babies covered with gold leaf.
I believe he thinks she can do something about that.
Mystic Armenian powers, or something.

He then spent an hour and half outside chainsmoking and muttering to himself. I asked my voodoo-queen coworker to remove him, utter an incantation, dissolve him into thin air, something. No such luck.
Her power does not extend to the patio.
Mystic Armenian, hah!

No wonder the English monarch is worse than both Hillary Clinton and the Russian consulate in San Francisco. Nobody is capable of magically counteracting her powerful aura.

My coworker either does not understand or appreciate my sense of humour, nor appreciate or understand Tinfoil Hat Steve's sound good sense.

It's sad.

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Several Trump supporters dramatically announced their departure from a group. Because, apparently, the rest of us are meanies without a shred of evidence parroting fake news. Okay. Bye Felicia. Nobody cares.

Oh, the hurts!

I seriously appreciate the tendency of those people and other verkrampte religious types to isolate themselves. One cannot convince them with facts -- something the Mueller investigation keeps churning up, and regarding which the Benghazi investigation fell short -- and appealing to their better instincts won't succeed because many of them have none.
They are like the first daughter in that respect.
Dead, droid-like, sociopathic

As Emily Jane Fox says:

“It just shows how fake Ivanka is,” Fox continued, adding: “She’s crafted this whole image of herself that’s not actually her. And the real her is cooler, slightly more interesting, funnier. She curses like a sailor. She partied a lot when she was younger. She flashed a hot dog vendor when she was in eighth grade. She chain-smoked. Which is so opposite of the image she put out there. What you’re seeing now is the unmasking. She can’t control the narrative anymore because she’s so inauthentic.
It has really come back to bite her.”

“Ivanka Trump is the most masterful compartmentalizer that America has maybe ever seen,” she said. “She is able to separate those things in a way that you and I probably can’t understand.”

Source: Trump Family Biographer Shreds Ivanka Trump: She’s ‘Fake’ And ‘Dead Inside’; from an essay by Samuel Warde, June 28, 2018.

Well, maybe that's unfair. Comparing them to her.
I really should be more Christian.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2018


If any tourists ask, just tell them it's 'meaningful', and a deeply spiritual experience. It isn't what it looks like. It may seem that it's covered with melted cheese, but that's just your imagination.
Hong Kong Chinese aren't eating themselves into clogged arteries.
And yes, they are lactose intolerant.

Last week I saw a somewhat chubby woman happily putting forkfuls of cheese covered porkchop into her face, today I ordered the baked seafood rice. Which naturally was a layer of egg-fried rice, with fish chunks, shrimps, and squids, drenched in white sauce, and the whole covered with a shocking amount of melted cheese.
I only ate half of it; the rest will be a midnight snack.
Trust me, it's very Hong Kong.


I didn't actually make "nom nom nom" sounds, but together with squirts of Sriracha chili sauce, a steaming cup of milk tea, and the Dunhill Dark Flake which I smoked in my pipe afterwards while lunting, I had a fine old time.

Baked and covered in cheese.
Just a light lunch.

I feel like I should now go clamber up twenty or thirty stories of bamboo scaffolding, and work for ten hours. I've got vim, vigour, and an excess of cholesterol. That's energy right there.
We're in the middle of typhoon season, by the way. 颱風山神 is threatening Vietnam after socking the Philippines, 安比 is heading toward Okinawa and the Ryukyus at this very moment.
If I were anywhere near bamboo scaffolding in the Eastern Pacific, I would keep an eye on the weather.

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One phrase stands out from a recent article about our president being interviewed on Fox News. And no, I did not see the interview, because hearing that man speak gives me blood pressure. The article was a BBC breakdown. Because the English watch Fox even if nobody else does.

"Mr Trump's depiction of Montenegro as a nation of conflict-crazy lunatics ... "

[SOURCE: 'Stupid statements'.]

The president was confusing Montenegro with Russia. Or Texas.
He misspoke, I'm sure of it.

I regularly cruise into the BBC website to find out what's going on in the world. Today I found out that there is a solution for vaginal dryness.
It comes in a bottle. Oh wait, that's just the advertising banner.

If you live in Russia or Texas, it's recommended.

In either place, purchase a sixpack.

Consume copiously.

No matter how big a fan of the current president you are, you can't rely on videos to keep your tissues "healthy" forever. Eventually the moisturizing effect will wear off.

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The smell of pot was rich, heady, and darned near nauseating. This was because the self-proclaimed "most dangerous man in Chinatown" was outside getting stoned. Honestly, I do like him. Despite the fact that he's a pothead, young, silly, and callow. But man oh man, that ganja reek.


Sometimes, angry exclamations are better written down in such a way that a Mandarin speaker can grasp the gist, but an American born youngster can't. And Jenny has been in Chinatown long enough so she can construe any amount of scribbled Cantonese. She happily admitted that she found the odour unbearable. All putrid, lah. 很臭!

This blogger does not like ganja.

I don't care that it's grown by little green nature men in the Amazon who hug dolphins and recycle. Screw them and their tie-dyed natural fibre.
I hope they choke on gluten-free crap and die.
Thank you.

Other than Zonker Harris outside getting whacked, it was a good evening. Only a few white people singing, and they seemed like nice chaps despite not being able to hold a tune or add one iota of depth to the lyrics.
Once they left, Michael Jackson came on.
I asked Jenny to skip that tune.
I hate Michael Jackson.

On the way home, swirling fog enrobed us. Cold, not freezing. Rather moist.
A dense and very San Franciscan night. We contemplated the wonders of the Sunset and Richmond district. And the bus lines that went there.

Sleep well, see you next week.
Zai gazunt. Be well.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2018


A few years ago I realized that many of my activities made me an unsuitable person for your daughter to date, or your sister to hang around with. Not, as you will understand, because of any skeevy tendencies or cultic behaviour, but simply because they would be underwhelmed, and you would think me unsocial or peculiar. Which I'm not. But I am indeed quite unsuitable.

I don't go to clubs or expensive restaurants.
No opera, no symphony, no ballet.
Not a datable man.

Oh, and I am also middle-aged, creaky, and unexciting.
I smoke a pipe and mutter to myself.
Foot powder!

You're right; none of this helps.

With that in mind, let's look at my favourite places.....
A walking tour, so to speak.

First North-South street, a main drag

The place that used to have great pork siu mai:
Still very inexpensive, but the food is different now. Decent, unsurprising. Clean and brighter than it used to be, and the new owners are hard working. Nice for a quiet meal while listening in on Toishanese picking up some food for the family, or old folks coming in alone for a simple dinner.

The three dishes one soup lunch counter:
Friendly enough (meaning: reserved and not effusive), cheap, my kind of food. I particularly like the mui choi kau yiuk, and their congee and yautiu hit the spot. Good for people watching.

A bakery with geezers in the back:
Hot milk tea, stellar egg tarts and flaky charsiu turnovers, and it helps to speak Chinese. Tourists come in, are baffled by the selection, and don't realize that they have to compete for the attention of the people behind the counter. Hot food is also available, but the kitchen closes at around four.
The tables are frequently occupied by old folks speaking Toishanese, including one lively old lady whose granddaughter recently gave birth.

Vietnamese Chinese sandwich joint:
Good place to watch the busy street in front, while having curry noodle soup and iced coffee.
Or grilled pork and noodles.
A sammich.

Vietnamese restaurant that opened recently near Walgreens:
Heavens, that's some nice grilled pork!
Garlic noodles.

Second NS street, further up

Small family eatery:
Decent enough, plain, but the food is good. The grandmother doesn't speak English, and isn't fluent in Cantonese, but her Mandarin is probably quite passable because of the soap operas she watches on a small laptop device in the afternoon. Her little granddaughter prefers that I talk English; I don't speak Toishanese, she doesn't understand Cantonese too well.
There's crunchy wood ear in the fish flavour eggplant.
Bittermelon fish over rice, good.
Claypot rice.

The roast meats place:
Very popular for take out, because their roast meats are stellar. But you can also go in for lunch or early dinner, and their rice plates are darned fine. You will hear Toishanese, Cantonese, and Mandarin there, as well as white people asking for crap with tofu, sweet and sour pork, or vegetarian food.
Roast pork tzeet gwa over rice, roast duck rice, white cut chicken, charsiu, painted octopus, soy chicken, and other things.

Third NS street, middle of the neighborhood

Toishanese people running a chachanteng:
Their milk tea is very nice. The waitress brings me a cup automatically now, before I can even look at the menu. Middle aged ladies like to go there for a shared meal together, some students have their dinners there, and frequently parties of four or five people will come in for a family dinner, speaking various dialects. They'll wait till the everyone's there before ordering.
Tourists often have sweet and sour pork, kung pao substances, or any one of the recognizable Chinese restaurant standards.
Or, you know, vegetarian food.

First crosswise street

Family style Canto:
Counter seating and mirrors, gets busy right around dinner time, but they also do lunch. I hardly ever sit at a table, because there's just one of me. But the mirrors make observation easy. Cantonese people who go there know what they want, sometimes Northerners aren't complete idiots, and tourists order predictably. They can also feed vegetarians.

Second crosswise street

Milk tea. Baked Portuguese chicken rice. Chicken bits and salt fish fried rice. Congee (very nice pork meatball congee, also abalone and chicken congee, etcetera). Fried noodles. Hainanese chicken rice. Club sandwich.
Because the dining room is big, it's excellent for people watching, but not so good for listening in. When I go there I enjoy a nice quiet meal by myself in a bustling environment.
Or sometimes, when it's slow, the peacefulness.
They have Sriracha hot sauce.
Just ask.

Third crosswise street

Dimsum counter:
Good snackies, hits the spot. Pork siu mai, cheung fan, chive dumplings, sticky rice chicken, fried taro puffs, and so forth. Other than the boss-lady, English not their skillset is ..... Neighborhood people go there for nibbles, tourists come in to point and ask complicated existential questions. The last three times I sat upstairs, because Filipinos and Germans were at the three tables downstairs. Good for people watching if you like baffled tourists.

Another dimsum counter, smaller selection:
More home town people, far fewer tourists, scant seating.
But it's good. Quite good.

Chop house:
Cheap, bustling, slightly greasy-spoony, and probably too dubious for the suburban middle classes. The food is decent, and there are a fair number of regulars who like the place very much. It's been around for years.
Sort of American food, sort of Chinese.
Extremely unpretentious.

Fourth crosswise street

Two spots:
A bakery that also does hot food, two doors up from a Hong Kong style western food restaurant. Both places have great milk tea, and do lovely porkchops. Both are home town kind of places where the people watching is excellent. Most of the customers are Cantonese, of course.
Both places are sort of 'old school'.
It's a good vibe.

And there are other places. None of them qualify as somewhere you would take someone to impress them, or even very many white folks, but with the right company they'd be perfect. Cheap, decent food, and good for people watching.

Better in many regards than the library, museums, or movie theatres.
No need to dress up, just be comfortable.

Eat, observe, then smoke a pipe.
Perhaps have milk tea.

The other night I was thinking that the best person for a certain friend would be a quiet woman who would come over to read all his books while he was gallivanting about elsewhere. He'd come home, she'd be curled up asleep on the couch. He get a blanket and tuck her in, then go to his bedroom.
Perhaps after smoking a cigar on the patio.

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Monday, July 16, 2018


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

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

You can probably guess which approach I chose.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I smoked my pipe mostly on my own front steps.

In that time I heard police sirens.

Many times.

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Sunday, July 15, 2018


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

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

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

Unless there is video.


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

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

The Poopster.

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

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

Fake bronze dink spigot

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Saturday, July 14, 2018


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

Plus poutine.

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

Poutine is pretty darn good.

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



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

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

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

Adding a little garlic is also excellent.

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Friday, July 13, 2018


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Thursday, July 12, 2018


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hometown Cantonese just don't do that.

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


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

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

I am happy.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2018


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

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

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

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

Also Abba, Madonna, and Lady Gaga.

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

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

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

I am so glad you asked!

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Tuesday, July 10, 2018


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lucky bastard.

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

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

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

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Monday, July 09, 2018


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

Per Marketwatch:

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


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

And what IS this world coming to?

Boohoo, bitch.

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

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

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

It's a long shot.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We've told other countries so.

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

Source: NYT: US threatened nations over breastfeeding resolution

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

There's no telling what such things lead to.


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Sunday, July 08, 2018


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

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

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

I have never glowed like that.

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

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

Opinions among our members may differ considerably on this issue.

We disagree gracefully.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

------Donald Trump

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

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

Well, that's a fact right there.

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

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

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


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Saturday, July 07, 2018


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

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

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

Evenso. Go Belgium.


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

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

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

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Friday, July 06, 2018


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

Which was good, but it wasn't porkchop.

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

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

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

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

It should be a natural process.
Inspiration and zen.

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

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