At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016


There are two dishes that say "comfort food" to the male Dutch American middle-aged pipe-smoking bachelor like nothing else. And by "male Dutch American middle-aged pipe-smoking bachelor" is meant a specific subset; an ethnic minority of monumentally small proportion, dammit we need protected status, AND we're a work of art.

The problem is that, like male spiders, the male Dutch American middle-aged pipe-smoking bachelor has risky and even suicidal tendencies.
My grandfather got married in his fifties after heading to France as a pilot during World War One. He died over eighty years ago. My own father joined up with the Royal Canadian Airforce and spent nearly three years bombing Europe during World War Two, got married in his early thirties, moved to Holland, and promptly passed away forty years later.

So you see. There are limitations on the tribe.

Marriage and military aircraft.

One of those two.


Anyhow, the two dishes are Baked Portuguese Chicken Rice (焗葡國雞飯 'guk pou-gwok gai faan') and Penang-style Hokkien Mee (檳城福建蝦麵 'ban-seng fuk-gin haa min').


Alas, the last time I ate Baked Portuguese Chicken Rice it was utterly disappointing. Ideally it consists of egg-fried rice topped with chicken and potato chunks, optionally with an inclusion of either bellpepper or perhaps jalapeño, doused in Portuguese sauce (a mild coconut curry slurry), grated cheddar cheese and coconut shreds sprinkled over, and shoved under the broiler for ten minutes to brown a bit on top and get hot all the way through.
Add salt and pepper to taste, and have some hot chilipaste on the side to zap up every other bite or so. Delicious.

One place in Chinatown which does Baked Portuguese Chicken Rice adds large chunks of onion plus canned mushrooms to the mix, which is horrible anathema, and another chachanteng seems to have recently replaced the mild coconut curry slurry with an entirely uninspired bland whitish starchy liquid ("white sauce"), which indicates that instead of a decent chef of Hong Kong provenance, they've hired a farmer.

It was that second version I had the last time.

I dare not go to the place where they probably still do an excellent version, because the last time I was there the waitress was mighty keen to introduce me to a single friend of hers, why the two of us would make a lovely couple, that woman would be ideal for me!

It's been about ten months.
I am still scared.

I do not think I am ideal. And I could just imagine the disappointment all around. It would have been excruciating for three people.

See, that's one of my 'talents'. I can provide enough excruciation for a plurality. It's quite remarkable.


The other dish is an intense noodle soup that utilizes a huge quantity of shrimp heads (蝦頭 'haa tau') for the broth, simmered for hours until deeply and passionately prawny.
It is strained, augmented with a dollop of garlicky chili paste and a little sugar, then dished up with thin noodles (I usually use typical Chinese egg noodles), fresh prawns, and a little vegetable matter for crunch and colour, plus cooked sliced lean pork, or short ribs (quite of course I use fatty pork instead). This marvelous concoction is NOT available in Chinatown; as the name ("Hokkien Mee" 福建麵 'fuk gin min') shows; it isn't Cantonese but Fujianese, specifically from Amoy (厦門 'haa mun', Xiamen), and most particularly the version made in Penang (檳榔嶼 'pan long yiu').

Chinatown folks are mostly Cantonese .....

"Prawn concentrate?!?"

"Cooked chilipaste?!?"

"Added to the soup?!?"

"How utterly FOREIGN, it sounds inedible!"

I cannot say that the Cantonese would be repulsed by it, but this just isn't a concept that they would naturally come up with, nor would conceive of as being a treat.

They've got their own comfort zone.

It's different.


Triggerwarning: a few sentences in this post may not be meant entirely at face value. If you cannot read with tongue at least partially in cheek, please come back some other time.

I realize I have to say this; some people are sensitive.

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In my present engagement (second assistant steward in a cheroot fetichery, more or less) I am fairly constantly exposed to dingos and entitled people. Consequently I may come across in these blogposts as a sour old grumpus, quite unlike how you would imagine me if you took the profile description on the right hand side of this page seriously.

["Middle-aged, but younger looking than you. And hardly any arthritis. Really ..... "]

I fear that the only thing that might bring me back to my sunny self is the frequent presence of an alluring female half my age. Well, at least that will change people's impressions of my from "sour old grumpus" to "dirty old man" (with an arthritic leg), which would be altogether an improvement.

Certainly I think it would.
I may be biased.

I do not want my image of my fellow humans to be entirely dominated by ass-hat rightwingazoid cigar-chomping vulgarians.
I used to think better of mankind.

Eh, what, the cigar crowd?

Strong but very wrong opinions, bloviation, and approving citation of dark web fake news.

One of the bastards recently said that they were living in a bubble, what with being in the Bay Area, and consequently could not really grasp what the rest of the country felt.

He was right. But not quite in the way he thought.
He lives in a bubble of mental toxicity.
He's a despicable little man.
As are many of them.

Trust me, I am actually cheerful and devil-may-care when I'm not around them. Active, and keenly interested in the world. I've got books! I read!

It's not just the blasted cigar smokers, though.
There's also the Marin attitude.
That doesn't help.

It's like being around Sméagol.
All the damned time.

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Tuesday, December 06, 2016


A misguided soul reminded me of Haggis, which is a version of liverwurst that I desire to forget. Haggis was invented by non-self-realized Texans, and is eaten when Dallas wants an alternative to Frito Pie, which is also altogether nasty. Soul food for unmentionables.

Really, those two examples conclusively prove that neither Scots nor Texans should cook. Ever. Unfortunately, with the election of Pumkin McPumpkinface, and the hardening of attitudes and mental arteries in the red states, it is extremely likely that Chinese and Thai restaurants will eventually disappear from large parts of this country, as cooks discover that, on second thought, dead possum and raccoon are vastly over-rated, what on earth were they thinking, they miss parts of the world where McDonalds is the worst you can eat, and dammit all, they need a bath.
As the cooks leave, there will be only varmint, frito pie, and haggis.
And lots of battered and deepfried oddments. Breaded bacon.

Eventually people will bloat up there, and explode.
Then their sons in the basement will starve.
Or the video game will malfunction.
Fat cadavers in trailer parks.

Flag-wrapped slugs.

Sorry, after listening to cigar-huffing Trump-supporting middle-aged white men in Marin for three days, the milk of human kindness has turned to yoghurt. Not everyone in the red states is a troglodyte.

Just like not every Israel-supporter is sane.

[Some of them are so nouveau alt-right it's a friggin' miracle they can still remember how to spell 'bris milah'. Participation on the local pro-Israel page has become a waste of time, and a pointless exercise in frustration. I occasionally cruise in to see what the local Likudnik Thought Police are up to, get disgusted, and cruise right back out again feeling queasy and diseased. Several of my friends no longer even bother.]

I realize that. Again, sorry.

Anyhow, the misguided soul who reminded me of haggis did so by using a photo of haggis in a can (with a sombrero) as her profile picture. Entirely disregarding what that says about the contents of her brain, canned haggis belongs only in a backyard bombshelter. There will be no temptation to eat it before the apocalypse, and, like Molto Dolce (a rancidly overperfumed pipe tobacco which is very popular among basement dwelling vikings in the hinterlands), it will probably stay good forever. Centuries from now the aliens will dig it up, and say "I don't know what it is, but it's still ... moist".

Both are rather like the mummy in that Brendan Fraser movie. You know, the one with Rachel Weisz playing a nerdalicious steaming-hot shiksa.

I have a history with haggis. It is regrettable. See Bless This Haggis and Bugger Bobby Burns.

As a side-note, I should mention that I first became aware of a cutey-pie pipe-smoking woman and her adorable fuzzy-faced husband on the other side of the country when I saw a photo of her enjoying Molto Dolce on one of the pipe smoking pages. She has since slowly, hesitantly, timorously even, stepped foot into VaPer and Latakia territory, but she still puffs abortions like Cult Blood Red Moon and Apple-Pumpkin Strudel.
It's a shame, is what it is.


Thanks to my suddenly remembering both that movie AND several horrible aromatic pipe tobaccos, I am now visualizing a cooking show featuring antique recipes. Probably inedible -- those things were popular world-wide once, ask me about the recommendation in many cookbooks to boil shrimp for an hour -- and, like Haggis, something that resembles Eric Cartman on a plate, but every cuisine still has examples.

You will never find Frito Pie here.

I once did post a recipe for bloodsausage, but I think I lost several readers that day. What might happen if I told you how to make Haggis is not to be imagined. That said, if you ever do make it, let it cool until it congeals, cut it into thick slices, batter them, and dump them in the deepfryer.
What comes out will greatly resemble eggplant.

Haggis-flavoured pipe tobacco.
For Bobby Burns Night.
A concept.

Burns Night is customarily celebrated on January 25.
You will want to be out-of-town then.
I recommend it.

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For the past three days I have been suffering from two ailments. The first one, a major inconvenience, is the common cold. The second, which is much more a festering pain in the rump, is the proximity of prosperous white males in Marin County.

These people are, as they will tell you, self-made men.
They are the deserving rich.

Bed rest cures the common cold eventually, but there is no medicine that takes care of smirking prigs. Well, rat poison, I suppose, but it should be applied judiciously (in massive dosages), so that there is scant danger of them developing a resistance to it.

In that it resembles many medicines.

I first heard of "Pizza Gate" while in Marin. All things considered that was not surprising. Smirking prigs will gladly believe anything when it fits with their weltanschauung. They rather lack perspective and the intellectual dexterity to carefully weigh sources and data sets.
Plus child slave sex speaks to them.

Marin: it's a swamp.

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Monday, December 05, 2016


People who know me realize that I rely on the BBC for both news and entertainment. And this year, because of the batsh*t crazy things one candidate has said, there has been a substantial overlap of those two categories. Nah, shan't bore y'all with a long disquisition on how unsuitable the tweeting mad carrot is for the job, I'll leave that to the experts.
Historians and psycho-analysts, four years from now.
When the red states have become poorer.
As well as toxic waste dumps.
Good luck.

However, in the "too much information" department ...


"Women and men who regularly trim or remove all their pubic hair run a greater risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) than those who do not, research suggests."
End cite.

[Above and subsequent quotes lifted from BBC - Pubic hair grooming STI risk.]

" ... groomers - particularly extreme ones - tend to be more sexually active too."
End cite.

"The report, led by doctors from the University of California, San Francisco ... "
End cite.

Doctors from UCSF. Because in this city, nothing says fascinating research like America's pubic habits.

Honestly, I don't know how to digest this data. Before, I had thought that the only reason for trimming hair down there was if it was long enough to braid and formed an unsightly bulge rather like a pannus that drew unfavourable attention and caused comment.

Or maybe you were going in for genital surgery soon, and didn't want to startle the nursing staff?

You need not worry; they'll shave you.

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From a friend's Facebook: "How many shows can there possibly be that are basically " Oooooo the impossibly rich, beautiful and awful people are in trubble again!"
Who cares? Cheering for these soulless money grubbing skin sacks is not on my "to do list"


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Sunday, December 04, 2016


Donald Trump, president-elect of the United States, in the midst of picking his cabinet and boning up on important stuff he will be supposed to know as president, found time to watch Saturday Night Live.

How do we know that he did so?
He tweeted about it.
That's how.

Donald Trump:

"Just tried watching Saturday Night Live - unwatchable! Totally biased, not funny, and the Baldwin impersonation just can't get any worse. Sad."

Ooooh, is poor little woozzums upset?

Danielle Muscato:

"Jesus f--king Christ, You are the president-elect. Pick your f--king battles, man. You're embarrassing yourself. Baldwin's impression isn't 'Sad.' You know what's sad? In 7 wks you'll be responsible for 330m lives & you can't think of anything better to do than tweet abt a comedy show. You know that actual lives are at stake, right? You're pathetic.

This is not a joke, Donald, Don't you have anything better to do? Are you so narcissistic that a PARODY is your priority? Do you know how many trans people were murdered since Election Day? Do you know how many veterans killed themselves? Do you know how many children went to bed tonight without enough food to eat? Do you even care? What is *wrong* with you? No, of course you don't know those things. You don't even know what a 'blind trust' (is), and you call yourself a businessman. You're pathetic. You ran for prez for attention. You are a fake, a fraud. You never wanted to win anyway; we can all see it."

It looks like the Rotten Pumpkin Demon got owned.

So did his supporters; he is their embodiment.

Pudgy Fingers should give up tweeting.

He's a fake, and a fraud.

A narcissist.

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The Scots have outlawed smoking in cars with anyone under eighteen. The proscription was passed at Holyrood in 2015, unanimously.
It goes into effect on Monday.

I have to wonder, did they think this thing through? It can't be healthy for the little dicks if they're strapped to the roof.

The penalty for keeping them inside the vehicle is a fine of up to £1,000.

Which, of course, comes out of the allowance budget.

Rat on me, boy, you gonna bleed.

In this, the Scots are following the examples of England and Wales, which are lousy examples to follow. As any student of history knows. Good lord, the English raped the world with their various imperial misbehaviours, and until the eighteenth century the Welsh were cannibals.

I am not surprised that both Rattray's and McConnell's fine pipe tobaccos are now manufactured on the continent.

Those kilted maniacs have finally lost their bally minds.
Woad based arse paint rots the brain.

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Saturday, December 03, 2016


It isn't a midlife crisis, it's the common cold. A man only gets ONE midlife crisis (which happened during my twenties, if you have to know, it's over), but the common cold is something experienced a couple of times a year, new each time, and it makes you feel miserable.
I am presently miserable.
But upbeat.

Not going out tonight, as whiskey will temporarily alleviate the symptoms, but make them worse tomorrow morning. Sneezing throughout the day, which did not improve my enjoyment of my pipe, but did not rupture anything either. It's not as bad as the previous cold.

The good thing is that no one tried to hug me.
Random physicality means an infection.
Potent defense during holidays.

It maintains dignity.


On one of the Facebook forums to which I pay attention, the question was asked what readers did for a living. Naturally I did not answer, as somebody there was bound to be a creep or a stalker.
Me, for instance; I know where you work.

I could have responded.


During the working day I play with pipes, and gently, delicately, fondle nice cigars. I also occasionally clean the espresso machine, because none of my blessed coworkers seem to know how to do that. They have not a clue where all that nasty blue mold in the overflowing used grounds bin comes from, or the oily grey slime. It remains a profound mystery!
I sometimes wonder why they are not dead yet.

I never drink coffee at work, by the way.

They are also completely baffled by the location of the garbage cans out in the parking lot. I can almost hear them petulantly asking why life is so hard.

And I babysit middle-aged crybabies who are afraid of modernity; Dave, Danny, John, and "Dick" all want the dark ages back, when they could whip the slaves and harvest organs at will. Things were good then!

I no longer talk about politics with them, I just fondly imagine their heads on spikes instead. It is better for one's equilibrium.

'Prithee sirra, I be an alchimiste; hast need of art such as mine?'

And afterwards?

Sometimes, after work, I go the Occidental for stale coffee over ice and a glass of whiskey in a smoke-filled room. Not too often anymore, because the cigar smokers there are seldom gentled by a female presence, and keep howling at a television screen filled by big masculine bottoms tightly garbed in shiny fabric. Or loose floppy fabric, if basketball is on.

At times I am starved for company, and I despair of finding intelligent life.

Sportsfans do not qualify.

During my days-off I read a fair amount, and often go into Chinatown for snacks and hot beverages. Many of the residents there are considerably less offensively opinionated, and more joyfully alive. They have a cocksure egalitarian sensibility which is sorely lacking in Marin County.
'If I am as good as you, then you are as good as me.'
That sentiment seemingly cannot be voiced.
By people smoking cigars.

Yes, I rather like the company of most pipe smokers, but it is unfortunate that many of them are men, and I'm not at all sure if they like noodles.

Obsessively I feel that noodles are very important.
Some chicken noodle soup especially.
It's sort of a mouth thing.

Update as of 9:09 PM: 


Heo-lat Penang Hokkien hae-mi. Hot and fragrant Penang-style Hokkien shrimp noodles in soup, made with dried shrimp, seafood bits (in lieu of shrimp heads), lapcheong (instead of pork ribs), and stalky mustard for crunch. Pinch sugar. Fried shallot and fresh chopped scallion.
Yellow noodles.

And a sambal: chilies, shallots, garlic, oil.

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Friday, December 02, 2016


There are times when I re-read something I wrote years ago and am quite delighted by what I find. Gosh, what a clever little dick I am, I think to myself, as I lick my chops in faint self-pleasedness.
Surely that's normal? Doesn't everybody do that?

Actually, no. Most people don't.

They read other people's stuff.

And if they lick themselves appreciatively, what they read was probably internet porn.

[Internet Porn: most easily available smut is now electronic. There are three main types, those being American, produced largely in seedy hotel rooms in Orange County and featuring the skankiest males and females imaginable, in hues which suggest that the coroner's office is moonlighting for drugs and extra booze money; Japanese, which employs extremely presentable people, filmed by food photographers and fetishists with keenly honed aesthetic sensibilities; and Dutch smut, often bestiality and perversions even more unimaginable, produced on location in Latin America or Dordrecht.]

Please do not picture me licking myself at this point.

Assume that I am a very clean man.

Of temperate habit.

At the time of this writing I am wearing pajamas and a bathrobe, sitting in a rickety cane chair with a computer on my lap. I am considering a second cup of strong coffee. The ashtray next to me shows that despite my apartment mate being an avid non-smoker, I have sinned.

There is a tray with about two dozen briar pipes just beyond arm's reach. There are several tins of tobacco closer than that.
Good lord, this place is a mess.

I really should get dressed and go out for lunch. I've come over all esurient.

Especially after discussing food most of the morning on Facebook. Which was accidental, but not entirely unpredictable. Specifically, Indian food. More than a decade after his passing, I still miss Jeet Singh, who was the chef at Maharani for several years. Potato chunks with ghee, toasted cumin, coriander, chilies. Lamb in a rubicund sauce. Butter chicken. Pistewala murgh.

A good man. And, incidental thereto, a great cook.

I do not miss that frightful Tamil who also worked there.
Or the woman with breasts like ripe mangoes.
Cheese dhokla, perhaps.
It's iffy.

No, I am not going to head out in search of pooris and lentil curry (small dish of aam achar on the side), or flaky kulcha and gosht masala. I seldom eat Indian food nowadays, because there is no one to eat it with, and it is laden with memory.

Things have changed, it is all different now.
I am single. Indian food must be shared.

Except undhiyu; it should be thrown out.
Along with the mithi dal.

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Thursday, December 01, 2016


This blogger is a very talented man. I can channel for people who aren't here, and interpret what they would have said if they had been here. Brilliantly.

Phone call: "Hello, may we speak to the lady of the house?"


That wasn't the right response, apparently.

An hour later they called again: "Hello, may we speak to the lady of the house?"

"You're speaking to her."

As previously, there was something wrong with that answer. Can sales call generating computers tell when someone is lying? It can't be my voice, that would be so genderist!

They were actually speaking to the 'man of the house', but I prefer not to think of myself in those terms. I am 'apartment occupant in the right-hand side', she is 'apartment occupant in the left-hand side'. We are equals.
And, rather than a hierarchical government with a leader, we are an anarcho-syndicalist commune.

We are both "the lady of the house".
As a man, I can do that.

If she wishes to answer any phone calls for "the man of the house", that is perfectly fine. She has a motor car, she is more computer-wiring savvy than me, and she understands plumbing better than I do.

Surely in this era we can dump that paternalistic old-style horse-puckey of "man of the house" and "lady of the house"? It would be more to the point to ask for "Dutch male of the residential unit" and "Chinese female of the residential unit". Such role-assignment would be far more accurate.

I am a white man, and cook far more ethnically than her. Like a typical Chinese American, she cooks mostly Anglo with occasional forays into French or Italian, a la Julia Child, with a hint of Martha Stewart.

She didn't get home till after eight thirty last night.
Which explains this entire train of thought.
Just me with a cup of coffee.
And a telephone.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2016


Sometimes there are disturbing things on the walk home. Sometimes they are evident long before then. You should know that small groups of white people wandering around Grant Avenue near midnight harbinge chaos and misbehaviour. It's just something that happens, white people have this odd sense of entitlement which disables them from recognizing that people are trying to sleep upstairs.

On Waverly an angry white person was having a loud argument with several invisible people. The young Chinese fellows smoking outside the bubble tea lounge ignored him, probably because they are used to white people acting out their fantasy lives.
I strove not to make any eye-contact with that gentleman as I passed by, because I did not feel I could contribute much to the conversation.
Several voices, but only one person talking. Screeching, actually. Nothing substantive would come from any involvement; that's something of which I am sure, though I concede that I may be biased and judgmental.

Methamphetamine and a heroin habit are presently cheaper than cigars or actual medical treatment. Therapy for angry white people.
It's the future of affordable care.

Later, at Candy's place, we tolerantly endured business-Caucasians singing karaoke till they left. Which gave me a brilliant (!) idea for an enterprise: a karaoke club with luxurious shower facilities installed all over and in the private rooms, so that everybody can sound better.
I should not have eaten the pistachios.
That's something I realize now.

Afterwards the bookseller was disturbed by a very large ax sitting on a vegetable rack at Stockton Street. We talked about potted plants while we walked past the construction-squat outside Ping Yuen, but I could tell his heart wasn't in it. An ax cannot sit, it has no bottomy parts.
It isn't a logical enphrasement, it is very wrong.

At Hyde Street he cut short my disquisition on cigars.
I later Facebook-hounded him the information.
Presumably he voided his bladder.
More next week.

"Alec Bradley; that's the cigar above the Rocky Patels and the Arturo Fuente. Padron is in the upper right, Julius Caesar and Aging Room just below that."

At this very moment I'm thinking about wearing a Venetian mask & a thong to a Christmas party. Not me, you. Or leastwise everybody in upper management.

Guarantee: the office will never be the same.

Make the Holidays surreal again.

I have never taken a woman along on a Jameson evening. It's strictly boys' night out, that's just the way it is. Serious things get discussed. Pistachios. Axes. Cans. Triplication of graphic elements as a way of creating a written character that expresses an abstraction. Gibbous (the moon not full, but past the half). Art. Napoleon Bonaparte (this is MY armpit). Cheese.

Free examples: 品 'pan', commodity (three items or mouths). 森 'sam', forest (three trees). 磊 'leui', great; a big pile of rocks (three stones). 聶 'nip', whisper (three ears). 舙 'waa', speech, talk (three tongues). 蟲 'chung', bugs (three creepy-crawlies).贔 'pai', strong (three cowrie shells). 轟 'gwang', a deep rumbling sound (three carts). 鑫 'yam', wealth (three golds). 驫 'piu', horses (three horses).

Remarkably, both of us are out of cheese.
This is panicking him inordinately.
I take cheese for granted.

Sequitorial to absolutely nothing, a random quote from AAPS:

"Barack Obama may have won the presidency by hypnotizing voters, especially cohorts known to be susceptible to “neurolinguistic programming” -- young people, educated people, and possibly Jews."

I very much like to think that young people and educated people are possibly Jews too. This would seem a good thing.

Today I may buy cheese. Or not.
I know he will.

Another example: 雥 'jaap', mixed, mingled, miscellaneous.
It is a variant of 雜 showing three short-tailed birds.

This is probably the best representation of the class.
It is nearly useless, but good to know.

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One of the most memorable lines yesterday was "he's a slut, he wants to bang everything in sight". Which was uttered on a crowded bus by a girl speaking into a cellphone. Subsequent remarks made clear that she was speaking about her boyfriend, and that the marriage was still on.

I'll confess that I'm a little bit old-fashioned.

Had I been that woman, the marriage would not be on, but off. Really off.
A gentleman may be a right pervert, but should never be a cad.

Of course I wouldn't be talking about it on a cellphone surrounded by a hundred people either.

Or using the locution "Oh". "My". "Gawd".

Except possibly during sex.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016


It is with considerable surprise that I've realized that I do not like many cigar smokers. Please consider the type: Male, mostly white, probably middle-aged and opinionated in a wrong way, not particularly thoughtful or open-minded, and often of firmly held simplistic beliefs which they are seldom capable of testing or examining. This is only natural, as many of them may have gotten to the point where they can afford expensive cheroots on a regular basis by being single-minded and fairly successful, more often than not almost by accident. This they ascribe to their own rightness.
A fair number (perhaps not all) are flaming assholes.

No, I'm not just talking about Marinites.

I prefer pipe smokers, OR the never-smoked crowd. Sir Bertrand Russell was a pipe smoker, so was Simenon, and please do not bring up Stalin or Saddam Hussein, as those two were natural cigar smokers faking it big time. Stalin, in fact, chainsmoked cigarettes in private, like very many despots and psychopaths.

[Turkish dictator Erdogan is a crazed anti-smoker, fyi.]

I wish I could say that the pipe smoker is by nature a thoughtful man, with carefully considered opinions and broad-ranging tastes, who reads a lot and considers life a voyage of discovery. But that is not quite the case.
Some of them are foul-tempered grumpusses.
Some of them are Gandalfian.
With tattoos.

Pipe smokers are just easier to have a conversation with. And, largely, are capable of grudgingly changing their mind. That is marginally more likely among smokers of decent tobacco -- unsauced ribbons, Balkan blends, Baai Tabak, flakes, and VaPers -- than folks who smoke BCA or 1-Q (we'll ignore the Captain Black smoker, because he's usually a fool, a retard, a vulgarian, or even an absolute degenerate - shan't say anything at all about Prince Albert and Mixture 79), and aficionados of Mango Cavendish, or Peaches 'n Cream, might have dreams of being mass-murderers.
But they are more likable than the cigar-huffing dickwad.

A minority of cigar smokers are betrayed as all-right kinda people by their lovable pets or children. Or queer hobbies like sculling in the coastal inlets of the Bay and dating unsuitable people.

I particularly like people who can just quietly shut up and read for hours at a stretch, and don't mind the fragrance of good tobacco, but those are distinctly a rarity. More than likely pipe smokers in any case.

If they drink tea and hate football, so much the better.

In case you were wondering, I am a considerate and thoughtful person, tolerant of a truly vast spectrum of humanity. At times I like having people around me, and can be quite gregarious, though often I prefer quiet.


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Four days solid of Marin County. Two days off. I need to decompress.
Marin is a special kind of entitled asshole environment.

That attitude. Those voices.
A repulsive society.

Today's plan. Dim sum. Quiet stroll. Milk tea. Cantonese opera.
Late night weirdness involving a dive and whiskey.

Dodging the anti-smokers.

Maybe I'll eat cheese.

Or a pastry.

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They say that the tastes you remember from your childhood remain with you throughout your life, they will be what you think of as the taste of home, of comfort, of happiness.
My childhood may have been someone else's.

I used to love potatoes. I cannot recall the last time I ate them.
Dinner was mustard, spicy pork cake, hot sauce, and noodles.

I did not eat mustard greens till I was in my thirties, I learned about pork cake at roughly the same time, and chilies weren't part of my life in any form till nearly the double digits.

Noodles? Other than spaghetti, and German ribbons when we were on vacation, noodles were NOT part of the programme until my twenties.

Honestly, it wasn't till I became single again that I started eating noodles regularly. A meal may mean rice, but noodles are much more convenient for a bachelor. Cook everything with plenty sauce, and dump it on the noodles. Rice stick, mostly.

For real comfort food, rice noodles, grilled pork beansprouts chives broth (燒猪肉河粉 'siu chü yiuk ho fan'). Plus chili vinegar and hot sauce.
All of which together is quintessentially Viet-Chinese.
There were no Viet-Chinese in my childhood.

Steamed fish with peanuts and chilies might, arguably, be one of those childhood tastes of iconic memory. Haven't had that for eons.

I lack the recipe. And the inclination.
Might have to wing it some day.

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Monday, November 28, 2016


What a man wants to do on a day like today, is burrow deep under the cover with a passionate little minx who just wants to sleep and a teddy bear who likes to cause trouble. But I cannot. The teddy bear will just have to cause trouble on his own. For one thing, there is no passionate little minx. For another, I shall be heading off to my place of employ.

Actually, the teddy bear who likes to cause trouble might be well advised to not stir up anything, because when the humans leave for the day the senior roomie is in charge, that being my apartment mate's bear (ms. Bruin), who though she lives in the other room has exceptionally good hearing, and is very stern.
Henry (the trouble-causer) is scared of ms. Bruin.
As well he should be.

If there were a passionate little minx, she too would no doubt raise ms. Bruin's eyebrow. That's a bridge I'll cross if I come to it. It might require bribing with honey. Or salmon. Yes, salmon I should think.

I can picture the scene. My apartment mate shall come home, and after a minute or two in her room will come out and ask "Toad, why is my best friend in the whole wide world in a salmon-coma? WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING?!?"

I shall feign innocence. Don't know what you mean.

Then I'll gently remind her that single middle-aged men are known for their sedentary habits, and I cannot possibly keep track of her various animals coming or going, why it's hard enough keeping an eye on my own rowdy bunch, what with reading the Bible and practicing yoga and all that.
I've had a busy day, and I'm training to be a saint.
Women are too suspicious by a mile.
And bears like salmon.

Fresh salmon? Or smoked?
Maybe I should ask.

I don't like frigid mornings.

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Sunday, November 27, 2016


It may come as a horrible surprise to you, but this blogger is all sweetness and light. Why, the milk of human kindness and fellow-feeling gushes forth abundantly, I am the veritable giant moo-udder of humanistic dairy!

On Facebook yesterday evening (7:18 PM), when I said "Now that Castro has passed on, can we send those Miami criminals back?" what I actually meant was 'oh joy, Castro is dead, you can all finally go home now, happy happy happy, even you Elián González you effing perv.'

I'm all about the happy happy happy.

[Contentotentotento. Tentotento.]

And when on November 22 I posted that the proper response to 'Merry Christmas' as wished me by any Christian who did not belong to my precise verkrampte self-righteous but ever so g-ddamned 100% correct version of Calvinism was "burn in hell, you heretic", what I should have said was
"why thank you, and to you as well my brother in Christ".
Or some such benign bushwa.

[See: The War On Christmas.]

Because we're all human, aren't we? Especially you.

I forgive all of my acquaintances who voted for Trump. Christian charity and all that. Blessed are the moronic sodding bastards, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, as it says in the good book.

Which in some form of Cubanospanyolish may be "bienaventurados los malditos bastardos, porque el suyo es el reino de los cielos", or not.
I don't know, I don't speak Spanish. It's a personal failing.
I've always been rather envious of those that do.
Spanish is a beautiful language.

Consider these lovely words: burrito, taco, chile, queso, avocado, tortilla de harina, sopa de pollo, plato especial, and salsa de chiles rostado.
These are part of a vast and epic vocabulary of joy.
Everybody should understand such terms.
Enchilada! Quesadilla! Carnitas!
Sofrito. Tomatillo.

I wish there were a taco truck on every corner.

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All over the country (but especially in Miami) Cuban exiles are celebrating the death of Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz, who rose to power in the late fifties and defied the United States ever since. They are overlooking the fact that if it weren't for him they wouldn't even be here, and there would be no Cuban American identity. Which seems rather ungracious of them.
As well as typical.

To borrow a phrase from Pudding Face:

"When Cuba sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you, they’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.
And some, I assume, are good people.

And it only makes common sense, it only makes common sense. They’re sending us not the right people."

Drug dealers, murderers, and rapists.

They all voted for Trump.


And maybe a few good people.
Very effing few.

No, not planning to visit Miami anytime.
I absolutely hate Salsa music.
As well as Mambo.

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Saturday, November 26, 2016


Upon returning from Marin the first order of business is making a strong cup of coffee, so that I don't waste my precious few hours at home by falling asleep before it is necessary. Years ago I would head to Ping Yuen bakery in Chinatown after work, but that fondly remembered place no longer exists, and pies are no longer a popular item anymore.

The Chinatown bakeries have gone all Chinese-y.

Sun Wah Kue was famous for their apple pies, and their orange pies were legendary. But Ping Yuen Bakery stayed open till nine, and I was addicted to their offerings.

So just plain strong coffee it is.

[Remarkably, there was a pastry waiting when I got home.]

The other great thing about old-school Chinatown bakeries was that unlike most of the places in North Beach, there were no artistic intellectuals and bohemians infesting them. Yeah, the coffee was only okay, but the ambiance was stellar.

Eastern Bakery tore out the lunch counter years ago, Uncle's changed hands several times and finally disappeared, Sun Wah Kue closed a long time back, and Ping Yuen is now a foot rubbery.

[Eastern's lunch counter was staffed by a very sweet petite old lady, spry and lively minded. She's retired now, and has visited Europe, New Orleans, and Alaska ... Uncle's was where Rose Pak hung out. Their pie was decent. Sun Wah Kue was a great place on an inclement day, rain clattering in the alleyway, warm pie and hot coffee in front of you, and a cheerful racket from the front. Ping Yuen, ah, well. Set dinners, lovely cream pies, and bold capable waitresses. A long counter, and booths along one side. I spent hours there, often heading to the Taai Ming Sing afterwards for a Hong Kong gangster movie.]

Contrariwise, in this day and age there are some wonderful freaky baked goods, and you can get Hong Kong style milk tea.

Plus at least one shop does a very lovely cheese cake, my heavens.

There is also 意大利蛋糕 ('yi daai lei daan-gou').

So it does have an up-side.

Today's Chinatown bakeries, like their ancestors, also are not popular among infestatious artistic intellectuals and bohemians, and still don't do fancy coffee concoctions. In fact, only rarely does one even encounter a Caucasian there, and after they have asked all there is to ask about the baked charsiu buns and egg tarts they always promptly leave.

You do not need to worry about them drinking all the milk tea.

It isn't something they've heard about.

A hot cup of yuen yeung (鴛鴦) and a fresh heung chong yiuk sung min baau kuen (香蔥肉鬆麵包捲); sheer bliss.
It ain't Starbucks.
It's better.

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Friday, November 25, 2016


A few years ago, when I still worked in the downtown, I would get food to go from a nearby Chinese restaurant. Remarkably, their chicken curry was pretty darned good. Chinese people are not known for being talented curry masters, as long slow cooking with plenty spices and caramelized onion is best left to subcontinentals, Southeast Asians, and Dutchmen.
But this place did a darn fine job.

It was Chinese, but it was real curry.

Inspired cooking.

So I'll accept that the chef in the video below also produces something quite edible, indeed, the gaa lei chap could be ho tak bit ge le.


[SOURCE: 娘惹咖喱羊腩.]

You will note that the sliced onion is first allowed to let off steam before any oil is added, some kind of curry paste is used, that's meat on the bone in there, sugar and fish sauce are employed, and both coconut milk and bok ho are put into play.

I am not a fan of recognizable onion pieces in my curry, so instead might recommend first slow-browning, followed by osterizing with a splash of broth. And I would saute the meat separately before adding the curry paste and the onion slurry.

Plus I'd be awfully tempted to include sliced jalapeño.
At the same time as the fresh bok ho.
And a star anise pod.

The best foil for such a dish is a pile of beautiful steamed white rice, and a lacy pancake to mop up the gravy.

Plus pickle. You must have pickle.

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Thursday, November 24, 2016


In lieu of turkey (火雞 'fo kai') for dinner, it was curry lamb over rice (咖喱羊腩飯 'gaa lei yeung naam faan') for lunch. It would have been better if I had chosen what I usually get there -- pickled vegetables and porky bits over rice (榨菜肉絲飯 'jaa choi yiuk si faan') -- but I don't want to fall into a rut.
For some reason the Cantonese add way too much onion to their curries, and not enough good spicy stuff. But it was in any case far better than the frightful muck I had nearly a year ago at a place which won't be named.
I washed it down with two cups of milk-tea.

When I got home it was to discover that I had been mistaken. Rather than spending all day cooking and then shlepping food over to her brother's house, my apartment mate was heading out to a Chinese seafood restaurant with her kinfolk for the family feast.

Iz fabudis! Totally fabudis!

Fresh seafood!

Apparently I am not the only one not having turkey. But that's okay, I had roast duck yesterday, so I'm one bird ahead of the game.

All day long warm socially connected people with many friends and kin have been posting pictures of all the wunnerful stuff they are eating or going to eat. For that one day a year when all my facebook friends are as irritating as people on a Chinese social network.

My food. Our food. The food the next table over ordered. Random soup.
A waiter staggering under a tray of food. Mom with a lobster (all you can see is her hand at the edge of the frame). Dad at the buffet (corner of his shoulder visible). The buffet from a different angle. Another shot of the buffet. What we ate on the first day of the Alaskan cruise. Second day. Third, fourth, fifth day. Dessert selection. A red velvet cake in the shape of a lobster. Midnight snack (lobster thermidor). Fabulous frozen drinks.
An enormous alligator with an apple in its mouth.
Dingoes gloating all over Facebook.
Dammit. Dammit.

If I go to the smoking bar this evening, there will be almost nobody there because everybody I know is either out of town or at home stuffing their faces. Then around the middle of the evening drunkards will come in for a smoke, talking about how delicious and epicurean their Thanksgiving repast was, what fun, so ekswees, better than last year.
And they won't shut up.

Stay at home. I've already had my smoke for the day. One pipe while slowly ambling through Chinatown alleyways, another pipe down at Sue Bierman Park. A homeless person passed, screaming angrily. Another one near the bus stop laughed without reason, probably out of touch with reality.
There were no bums inside the park, and only a few parrots.
My apartment is quiet now. So is the neighborhood.
I should go to bed early. Around nine.
Gotta work tomorrow.

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It is traditional at Thanksgiving that a member of the group, entirely without prompting, bores everyone present with either a prayer before we tuck in, or some bushwa about how we should all be grateful for something, and he will now detail what it is that he can be grateful for this year.

Which is probably dreary as all git-out.

Here's what I am grateful for: My apartment mate is quite dysfunctional.
It's called Asperger's Syndrome, and it means that she is totally oblivious of certain things unless they are explained to her, forcefully and in detail.
This means that she is unaware of how dysfunctional I am.

She will spend the day cooking, then pack up stuff and go to her brother's house for Thanksgiving Dinner.

I will not celebrate, and will have no Thanksgiving Dinner.

I plan to wander around Chinatown for a few hours, eat a pastry or two, smoke a pipe, and be grumpy till evening. Then I will enjoy the peace and quiet in my own neighborhood for a while, when everyone else has headed somewhere for turkey-related revelry. Really, as usual dammit, I have no celebration on the schedule. I have never "done" Thanksgiving, and haven't participated for most of my adult life. I don't seem to be normal. Yes, for the first time in years someone actually extended an invitation, but I shall be content grumpily sulking up a storm, as I had already fully resolved to do.
I've been anticipating scowling and growling for weeks!
I am petulant, and good at sulking.

Bah, humbug. Thanksgiving is for patsies. Turkey is a miserable bird that puts you to sleep. Stuffing is nasty. Relatives are over-rated.
That game? A complete waste of time.

Fortunately she does not know any of this.
I wouldn't want her to worry.
Or feel hurt.

I am grateful for milk-tea.
I am grateful for pastries.
I am grateful for Sriracha.
I am grateful for Aspirin.
I am grateful for cheese.
I am grateful for pipe-tobacco.
I am grateful for apple wood smoked bacon.
I am particularly grateful for sausages, and ice cream.
I am grateful for cheddar and sour cream potato chips.

I am also immensely grateful for nitrates, nitrites, sugar, salt, saturated fats, cholesterol, alcohol, carbon monoxide, masturbation, the Arts Council, nuclear weapons, the Daily Telegraph, and not properly labeling fatal poisons, but, above all else, most of all, I am grateful for the ONE thing that can come out of people's mouths: vomit!

One of my favourite C'town restaurants closes for Thanksgiving, which is unfortunate but just as well, as I do not wish them to know that I am a social failure and do not participate in many celebrations.

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It pleases me no end that one of the criteria that brings readers to this page from all over the world is hamsap. Hamsap is the word that describes the secret life of the average male, in the eyes of the average female.

The average male appreciates female beauty. Which outrages the average female, who thinks that this is plenty disgusting of him. He's a pig, animalistic, a deviant, a brute, a hamsaplo (鹹濕佬).

To which his reaction is often "huh, what?"

He was staring, and didn't hear you.


Haam (鹹) means savoury or salty, such as salt fish ('haam yu' 鹹魚) or a lovely steak, but also frowsty or sweaty, like perspiration, a white person, or unwashed clothes. Someone who is unwashed, moist, or greasy, has 'haam chau mei' (鹹臭味), meaning a "salt stink".
Haam also means randy.

Sap (濕) means moist, damp, wet, humid. A wet spot on the floor, rain puddles, gravy, and juices dripping from a roast duck; all of this is 'sap'.
Yam sap (陰濕 "dark and moist") eloquently describes wickedness.

Haamsap (鹹濕) expresses the greasy oily sweaty characteristic of perverts and degenerates. A haamsaplo (鹹濕佬) is the male person thus afflicted. The Northern expression 好色 ('hou sek'; "good colour", to love hues, lustfilled) does not quite convey the oomph.

Humsup is a males-only quality.


淫 ('yam') generally speaking describes licentiousness, wickedness, lewd behaviour, sexuality, and more or less some pretty nasty stuff.
Pronounced 'yin'/'yim' it is also a surname.
陰 ('yam') is the yin of yin and yang; the female principle, darkness, wetness, the shadow side of the hill.
色膽 ('sik daam') literally means colour and gall bladder.
Figuratively it indicates a bold sexual appetite.


The gentleman can find something admirable about any woman.
A beautiful intellect is very sexy.
So is a smile.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2016


There is almost nothing quite so American and English as a can of baked beans. Simply humble grub, that, if you have the proper enzymes, reaffirms your faith in humanity and doesn't make you an anti-social outcast.

Same goes for chili con carne with beans, but again the enzymes are essential.

Baked beans express the love that is within you.

I never eat beans if I can help it.

The following commercial has been banned. NOT because British cuisine leaves a lot to be desired and makes you talk funny, nor because regarding beans as an acceptable vegetable is just plain wrong, but because the Advertising Standards Authority believes little children will accidentally cut themselves, slit an artery, bleed to death, smoke crack and run off to join ISIS because of it.



It's the edges. Today's wee tykes are too far removed from opening cans or dealing with sharp objects that they can understand the danger.
They look into the howling void with blank blank eyes.

"The Advertising Standards Authority received three complaints suggesting the advert "encouraged unsafe practice" and six complaints saying it featured behaviour dangerous to children.
Heinz said its ad only encouraged safe practice by showing viewers it was only appropriate to hit the sides, base or sealed lid of a tin.
They said consumers had posted videos of themselves trying to drum along to the tune that showed the game was not harmful.
Children shown tapping a tin in the ad were always with an adult, the food giant said."
End quote.

"However, the ASA upheld the complaints, saying actors in the film were using closed and open tins and it was not always clear that the open tin had its edges taped for safety.
In its ruling, the ASA continued: "We considered that consumers encouraged to learn the Can Song were unlikely to be as proficient as the actors, but that in any case, particularly given the manoeuvres required, it might still be possible that mistakes could be made with an empty can, which might include a hand or fingers being inserted into an open tin (with the associated risk of cuts)."
End quote.

SOURCE: The Sun, news, baked beans bullpucky.

Cuts, bumps, bruises, contusions.

Oh my.

If you see me down at the local playground handing out canned food to the little monsters, you will know why.

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During a torrential downpour one cannot hear the opera being sung in the basement. Presumably those within can, and the drubbing from outside though present, does not disturb the musicians. The street without looked beautiful. On Clay deep rivulets washed the bricks, and unavoidably my feet got wet. There was a homeless person camping out on Grant, across the street from the 'going-out-of-business' signs.

Normally I cut short my listening when the garbage trucks come nearer, but when the downpour happened there seemed no point in sticking around, and I wandered off early. The streets of Chinatown are beautiful in the darkness when it rains.

Empty, drenched, and glowing.

At the hamburger joint the entire counter was occupied by bright young Cantonese gentlemen. There was, in consequence, none of the sleazoid disturbance factor that the local residential hotel occupants bring, nor were there any of the drunken suburbians that usually infest the place.

From the mezzanine of the corner bar we looked out over a nearly deserted intersection, over an hour and a pint drinking in the distant fleshy gams of a young lady wearing hotpants, the elderly man wrestling with his bicycle, a severely reduced perp line in front of a long-closed nightclub ("smoke and mirrors"), and the very rare stumbling soggy drunk.
As well as the woman with the shiny hair.
She always goes past at night.

While I was outside smoking, I heard a man hollering from one of the cheap hotels on Broadway "you are not my real father, my real father loves me".
It seemed appropriate; I shall not speculate about the relationship.

There used to be a four hundred pound tranny who whore a greasy leather diaper and swanned about the halls with cocktails in one of those hotels. Long ago.

"Why do people cross the road?"


------The Bookseller

At the karaoke bar a bearded Caucasian was extremely impressed with his own singing, as were the two blonde dingbats hanging on his shoulders.
The Cantonese ignored the misbehaving white people and concentrated on loud happy argumentation and playing liar's dice.

When the songbird and his friends left, and most of the dice players had floated away also, the remaining dice player engaged in conversation with the three gentlemen further down the bar. It was food-related (Cantonese conversation often is), described a dinner with two women (somewhat less common), and he punctuated it with "pok gai" as much as Irish Dave uses the 'F' word.

When the bookseller and I departed it had stopped raining.

At Powell Street we analyzed the sign on a local emporium. 'Hundred merchandise'. 'Sugar fruit smoke wine'. 'House & courtyard use product'. 'Canister head freeze food'. Plus something about literary objects, which is a conventional phrase referring to paper goods and pens.

Normally we encounter inebriated strangers wandering the streets.
Or hear birds from the spaces behind the buildings.
Once even an insane mocking bird.

Not this time.

Over the years I have only sung once at the karaoke bar. It was a romantic ballad originally made famous by Teresa Teng. Very sweet.
I massacred it. Totally.

There was nobody there with a cellphone.
I consider myself lucky.

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