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.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I AM NOT AH SOOK!

She used to work at the store around the corner. Because one has to be a certain age even to work part-time, she must have been at least sixteen when she started. But she didn't look it at all. Forgive me for saying it, but rather than suggesting a young lady in the first blush of woman-hood, she reminded me of nothing so much as a bug - a delicate creature with iridescence, poised awareness, bright eyes, and thin elegant limbs.
As well as a face that reflected a remarkable sense of humour and a keen intelligent character.

She was extremely attractive - people look so much more exciting, appealing and desirable even, when they are bright and have an active interest in things around them.

I once surprised her at the check-out stand while she was stuffing her face.
She looked utterly charming at that moment - blushing, stuttering, embarrassed, and guilty as sin.
I never knew that noodles being shoveled in with chopsticks were a wicked pleasure.
I learned something then.

[She indulged in the naughtiness of noodles several times over the years. Not a constant, but on lucky evenings I would see her inhaling long slirts of pasta with a blissed-out look on her face, eyes half-closed, smiling...... and there's something innocent yet enchanting about feminine hands wielding chopsticks.
Fortunately I am a very sober man.]


The smallest women always have the biggest appetites. It's probably the sheer buzzing energy level which keeps them from growing, as it must take immense amounts of noodles to fuel that frenetic activity, spark the constant intellectual curiosity.

She worked there for nearly six years. I'm guessing final years of high-school and all the way through college.
No, I didn't go to the store more often because of her, as I've always been blessed with a great lack of foresight.
Every evening I needed something that I ran out of.

Smoked clams, that's it - I am desperate for some smoked clams.
And another bottle of hot sauce. A man can never have too many bottles of hot sauce.
As well as a five pound bag of sugar, I'm collecting the set!

All of the check-out clerks who work there now are married women.
Married women do not inculcate a need for hot sauce.
Even though I used up my reserves of sugar (five pound bags, multiples) years ago, there has been no need to acquire another stockpile.
It is unlikely that there will be another sugar crisis like there was in the mid-nineties.

She understood me when I spoke Cantonese. One of the few people who could automatically grasp which crucial word was being mangled.
It's a talent.

Married women lack that skill. Or the curiosity that spurs perspective.
Even the round-faced one who works there now, most evenings, just sticks to the normal phrases of interaction. Ney ho. Mai mat-yeh? Go-di ho kwai ga! Ney chan chong-yi ni di ah?
Thank G-d she doesn't address me as 'ah-sook'.

The cute little one who ate noodles didn't address me as ah-sook either, even though she had much more justification to do so if she had. Age difference and all.

It is VERY endearing when a young miss entirely unselfconsciously does NOT address one as ah-sook. Charming, in fact.



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WEST DUNBARTONSHIRE BOYCOTT

GUEST POST BY JAMEEL:

[SOURCE: http://muqata.blogspot.com/2011/05/official-scotch-whisky-counter-boycott.html.]

Please help pass this on to Kiddush Clubs everywhere!

This is the official pro-Israel, counter-boycott page against Scotch Whisky, distilled in the anti-Israel region of West Dunbartonshire, Scotland. (letter to the distillers, appears below)

My good friend and fellow blogger, Aussie Dave from Israellycool has been following this story since it's inception.

- Scottish Council Launches Ban On Israeli Books
- Follow Up On The Dumbies of Dunbartonshire Council
- Jim McElhill of West Dunbartonshire Council Leaving Nasty Comments

The story also appeared on my blog, and in other news sources as well.

- FURY AS COUNCIL LAUNCHES BOYCOTT ON ISRAELI BOOKS


- Scottish areas ban Israeli products

I believe its best to contact the whisky distillers directly, since the West Dunbartonshire Council of Wise Men couldn't care less what a pro-Israel, pro-liberty, person might think...but they might listen to voices of their constituents; specifically the Scotch whisky distilleries in their council's region.

You can contact them directly at:

Morrison Bowmore Distillers Ltd.  info@morrisonbowmore.co.uk
Distillers of: Auchintoshan, Bowmore, Glen Garioch, McClelland’s

Loch Lomond Distillery Co. Ltd   mail@lochlomonddistillery.com
Distillers of Loch Lomond, Scots Earl, Distillery Select, Glen Scotia, Littlemill, Croftengea, Craigslodge, Inchmurrin, Glen Douglas, Inchfad

Chivas Brothers media.relations@pernod-ricard.com
Distillers of Ballantine’s, Chivas, Royal Salute, Clan Campbell, Something Special, Passport, 100 Pipers, Imperial, Long John Aberlour, The Glenlivet, Glendronach, Strathisla, Longmorn, Scapa, Tormore, Jameson, Paddy, Powers, Walker Special Old, Wisers

This is the most current and accurate list I could procure based on the addresses of distiller's in the West Dunbartonshire Council region.  Please contact me if I have omitted any whisky from this region, and I will gladly update the list.

I urge you to write to these fine distillers of whisky, and express your outrage and support of the counter-boycott.  Pass this list on to your friends and neighbors.  It is simply immoral for the West Dunbartonshire Council to boycott Israel.

Following is the letter I sent them today...feel free to use it in expressing your sentiments to these distillers.

Regards from Israel,

Jameel Rashid

The Muqata Blog
www.muqata.com

Letter to the Fine Whisky Distillers of West Dunbartonshire

Tuesday, 31rst May, 2011

To The Fine Whisky Distillers of West Dunbartonshire;

Morrison Bowmore Distillers Ltd.
Auchentoshan Distillery, Dalmuir, Clydebank, Dunbartonshire G81 4SJ
Distillers of Auchintoshan, Bowmore, Glen Garioch, McClelland’s

Loch Lomond Distillery Co. Ltd
Lomond Industrial Estate, Alexandria, Dunbartonshire G83 0TL
Distillers of Loch Lomond, Scots Earl, Distillery Select, Glen Scotia,
Littlemill, Croftengea, Craigslodge, Inchmurrin, Glen Douglas, Inchfad

Chivas Brothers
Kilmalid, Stirling Road, Dumbarton, Lanarkshire, G82 2SS
Distillers of Ballantine’s, Chivas, Royal Salute, Clan Campbell,
Something Special, Passport, 100 Pipers, Imperial, Long John
Aberlour, The Glenlivet, Glendronach, Strathisla, Longmorn, Scapa
Tormore, Jameson, Paddy, Powers
Walker Special Old, Wisers

Gentlemen,

I would like to preface this letter, in that I have enjoyed your fine whisky products for many years, and believe they are truly world-class. Unfortunately, due to the actions of your esteemed West Dunbartonshire council members, I will not be able to enjoy your whisky in the foreseeable future.

It has come to my attention that the West Dunbartonshire Council claims to have voted unanimously to boycott Israeli products.

The West Dunbartonshire Council clearly states their point on their website, updated on the 30th of May, 2011.

http://www.west-dunbarton.gov.uk/council-and-democracy/news/corporate-statement-on-the-boycott-of-israeli-goods/

The actual boycott resolution is as follows:

‘This Council deplores the loss of life in Palestine which now numbers well over 1,000. This Council also recognises the disproportionate force used by the IDF in Palestine and agrees to boycott all Israeli goods as a consequence. Officers should immediately cease the purchase of any goods we currently source, which were made or grown in Israel. Officers should also ensure we procure no new goods or produce from Israel until this boycott is formally lifted by WDC.’


I find it disturbing that the esteemed council found no reason to mention the reason for the IDF’s operation in Gaza. There was no mention of the intentional targeting of civilian infants, children, women and men by Gaza’s Hamas government, the thousands of rockets they launched at Israel’s civilian population, and the restraint that Israel employed over the previous years when attacked on a daily basis.

The IDF does not target civilians. The vast majority of Palestinians that Israel killed have been terrorists. Go check the facts. I have. Palestinians terrorists routinely use hospitals, mosques, and schools to launch their rocket attacks on Israel. Try defending your population from terrorists and see if you can guarantee zero collateral damage. Does your council not condemn the barbarism of the Arab terrorist because in the back of their minds they are concerned terrorists might hunt them down and terrorize THEIR families?

Why was there an IDF operation in Gaza in the first place? To oppress poor Palestinian Arabs? How would you deal with Gazas’ Arabs’ targeting Scotland’s babies, other children, and other civilians? Have you not seen the pictures of atrocities the Arabs have visited on innocent children, or does your council not care? We are not talking about isolated attacks on Israel, but about thousands of rockets they have launched at Israel’s civilian population.

The restraint of Israel under attack is astounding. Colonel Richard Kemp, previous Commander of British Armed Forces in Afghanistan said when presenting his report to the United Nations Human Rights Council in October 2009: “During its operation in Gaza, the Israeli Defence Forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.” (source)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said to the US Congress last week: "Of the 300 million Arabs in the Middle East and North Africa, only Israel's Arab citizens enjoy real democratic rights. I want you to stop for a second and think about that. Of those 300 million Arabs, less than one half of 1% are truly free, and they're all citizens of Israel! This startling fact reveals a basic truth: Israel is not what is wrong about the Middle East; Israel is what is right about the Middle East!" (source)

Lastly, the Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas stated this past Saturday that the future state of Palestine will be “free of Jews.” (source)

The State of Israel offers equal freedom for all its citizens, Jew, Arab, and Christian alike, including full parliamentary and judiciary representation. The State of Israel is the unchallenged leader of democracy in the Middle East, and the West Dunbartonshire Council boycott unfortunately attempts to undermine the very success of Israel as a democracy.

Therefore, it saddens me to have to inform you that the global counter-boycott of Scottish whisky products, distilled in the West Durbanshire Council region, is beginning. I don’t know anyone who bears malice toward these fine distilleries. When, however, your local council representatives boycott my country, under the most unethical and immoral of pretext, you cannot expect your market to sit idly and pretend your are not perverting justice.

• The counter-boycott is on the purchase of Scottish Whisky, distilled in the West Durbanshire council region.
• The counter-boycott is not retroactive and applies only to purchases made from June 2011 onwards.
• The counter-boycott will not prevented global residents from purchasing whisky products, distilled outside of West Dunbartonshire.
• Attempts to depict this counter-boycott as racist are also entirely inaccurate. The counter-boycott is instigated in response to conduct and boycott initiated by the West Durbanshire Council and applies to no specific ethnic or religious group. This is in direct opposition to the West Durbanshire Council which refuses to condemn the actions of Palestinian terrorists targeting Israeli civilians and the anti-Semitic, racist declarations of the Palestinian Authority, which calls for a “Jew-free” apartheid, State of Palestine.

The counter-boycott is publicizing the list of West Durbanshire distilled whisky by internet and distributing press releases to news agencies and others around the globe.

Sincerely,

Jameel Rashid
The Muqata Blog
www.muqata.com



Follow the Muqata on Twitter.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

======================================================

AFTER WORD

I myself intend to boycott pretty much everything Scottish henceforward.
And I dare anyone to accuse me of racism - there are kilted heathen in my family background, and one of the things my mother happily told me about when I was young, was how her ancestors had slaughtered some other bunch of hairy Scots gits back in the twelfth or thirteenth century.
Besides, I know how haggis is made - that foul product qualifies as a crime against humanity on par with buggery Bobby Burns horrid doggerel.
No surprise that they are often paired.
Thank heavens the best marmalade comes from England.

------ATBOTH

Monday, May 30, 2011

THE TOAD IN HIS HOLE

The security guard asked me what I'm doing here today. I didn't feel like pretending.
I told him that I'm hiding out. Weekends are a monumental pain, and a three-day weekend is fifty percent more so.
Fact is, I no longer feel particularly human anymore.

Being in a group emphasizes the disconnect. At parties nowadays it has become clear that talking is a chore - what do I say? I still like people, and observing their personalities in action is interesting, enjoyable even for a while.
But conversationally I'm not particularly gifted. That has become far more obvious in the past year.

Listening is easy - just let them natter on about their work, their colleagues, their recent purchases. Doing that does not require a shared point of view, sometimes there doesn't even have to be anything at all in common.
Show attention by once or twice interjecting a comment, that's it.

But staying out of the way in a corner by myself is much, much easier.
I'm just not a social beast.

The financial district is nice and quiet on the weekend, when the streets are empty. Hardly any cars, the occasional cluster of wandering tourists, or someone heading northwards from Market street.
I cross the street to avoid passing people.
Solitude beckons.
Nice empty office.



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Sunday, May 29, 2011

HOKKIEN LANGUAGE SONGS - A VERY BRIEF INTRO

Several years ago I knew more Hokkien speakers than I do now. They're rather rare in SF, less so in the Netherlands and South-East Asia. Most of the Chinese in the Philippines are of Hokkien ancestry, and the same goes for several communities in Java.

The Hokkienese language is quite unintelligible to speakers of Cantonese and Mandarin, as well as other Sinitic tongues, deriving from an older linguistic stratum and having developed as a separate regiolect for close to two thousand years.
So even though related languages are spoken in parts of neighboring Canton province (Teochow and a few others), one really should think of Hokkien as reflecting a different Chinese cultural world.

SONGS

This cultural and linguistic otherness is quite evident in their songs. Many of the Taiwanese songs show a Japanese influence from the long occupation of the island, while mainland Hokkien songs have folksong elements. Cantopop has had little impact, neither has the Mandarin nightclub repertoire from 1930's Shanghai. But Hokkien 'popular music' on each side of the Taiwan Strait reflects an awareness of the other.
Increasingly, cross-fertilization will enrich repertoires, but probably not erase distinctiveness.


Teresa Teng (鄧麗君 January 29, 1953 – May 8, 1995) sang in Hokkien as well as in Mandarin (and several other languages).


鄧麗君:
望春風 BAN CHUN HONG

Here miss Teng sings a lovely romantic ballad - 'observing the spring breeze'. The visual is what you would expect for karaoke, namely two handsome people (neither of whom is miss Teng) enacting the content of the song in a rather pablumish and saccharine way.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TsC_Te6XkBs&feature=player_embedded
The themes of the song are familiar to any student of Chinese lyric, being the yearning of a young girl for a husband / lover / companion, coupled with the freshness of Spring symbolizing youthful emotions and feminine beauty, as well as the fear of ending up without ever experiencing romance. Some of the verbal imagery is tongue-in-cheek, and a few of the metaphors are innocently suggestive.


The old-fashioned atmosphere in the video above is quite different from the gloomy modernism in the following video (miss Jiang Hui and Ah-Tu singing 'Dream's Love talk').

江惠 & 阿杜:
BANG TIONG Ê TSING HWE 夢中的情話


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ca3x1TveiU&feature=player_embedded
The language is more straightforward, and instead of a plaintiveness, the emotional content is on the borderline of despair. The video is gloomily beautiful.


Equally modern is this offering by miss 黃乙玲 in which angst, seediness, lonesomeness, and a heat wave combine in a typical Taiwanese social environ. Lang sying ê gwa - song of life.


黃乙玲:
LANG SYING Ê GWA 人生的歌

Unhappiness, unfulfilled longing, heartache - and restaurant work.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2dzebYfqtvo&feature=player_embedded
A very elegant offering, and the video itself is quite interesting too.
The visual language shows both Japanese and Hong Kong influences, the ending is particularly Chinese, and fits in with the underlying narrative.


NOTE: Hokkien-hwe (Fujianese, FuJian-Hua) is referred to as 'Amoy Dialect' by many educated Chinese in the Philippines, but also known as 'Min Language' (閩話) elsewhere. The characters that spell out the name of Fujian province (福建) are pronounced 'Hok Kien'.



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Saturday, May 28, 2011

ALWAYS SMELLS LIKE PIPE

"My dad used to smell like that", she said. There was a wistfulness to her voice.
She herself did not smoke, but she had noticed the faint shade of pipe-tobacco that always accompanies me.
Which was remarkable because the only smell that I was aware of in the coffee-shop was roasted beans.
She was behind me at the counter, and when she first spoke I did not realize it was directed at me. But who else could she be asking "do you smoke a pipe?"
I turned around, curious. Was there another pipe smoker in line?
No, just the young lady who stood behind me.

As I poured a little cream into my cup at the service stand I asked "you said he 'used to' - past tense?"
"Yeah, he stopped years ago. My mom was starting to cough too much, and the smoke bothers her."
Couldn't he have smoked outdoors?
"No, he tried that for a while, still ended up carrying the smell into the house"
After a few seconds she said "I always liked sniffing him when he came back in. Leathery!"

Smells are often tied to memories deeply buried, which start vibrating again with the appropriate stimulus. The remembrance of things we are fond of comes back when carried on the breeze.
Similarly I also remember my father having a certain fragrance-spectrum.
A pipe tobacco blend with a fair amount of Burley - probably one of those American-style mixtures that were more common in the forties and fifties, light on the condimental tobaccos - plus India ink, pencils, and something that might have been soap, or perhaps a peculiar lotion sold at the local drogistery.

My pipe tobacco does not smell like his, and the perimetral odours I carry with me are also different. But sometimes an element of a remembered whiff comes to the nose, and I must pause.

She mentioned that whenever she goes home she still likes her dad's smell, but it isn't the same. The recollections have been washed out of his clothes, now there's only soap and a certain skin-sweetness. The tarry quality of the past is gone.
When she went away to college she took one of his pipes with her, kept it for a while on her bedside table. Now she has it in a shoebox on a top-shelf. Whenever she feels sad she opens the box. In addition to the pipe, which is wrapped in a handkerchief, it also contains her first real watch and some old birthday cards that always make her smile. She holds the pipe for a while, sniffs at the rim. Somehow it always works.
When her mother was hospitalized last year she smelled the pipe a lot. Hasn't needed to do so for a while, mom has recovered. But she's keeping the pipe in reserve. Perhaps she'll put it on her bedside table again.

"Everyone should smell unique, don't you think?"

I'm somewhat surprised that I have a similar nostril-spark as someone else's father. Most of my life I've had a slight reek, but I always thought of it as entirely my own. Years ago some friends said that they always knew when I had been somewhere - the whispery faintness of Latakia would still linger long after I had gone.

I recognize the smells of some other people. If I'm fond of them it's very comforting.
Ideally, others will think so too about me. A hint of Latakia - resinous, tarry, tangy - and a mere suggestion of cigar.
Plus tea. Tea is a nice smell, it speaks of home.


After we had talked for a few more minutes, I excused myself and went to the seats outside to have a smoke.
She sat at one of the tables near the front of the coffee shop, diagonally behind me on the other side of the glass.

You know how you can sometimes tell when you are being observed?
You don't actually see the eyes, but you are aware of their presence.
It's the same when nostrils are aimed right at you.

Almost imperceptibly the window slid open an inch or two.
Had anyone asked, she almost certainly would have said it was for fresh air.
But her subconscious might think that it was to let the past float in.


EVERYTHING HERE SMELLS!

Whenever I visited friends I could recognize the interior of their dwellings by the fragrances. Cleaning fluids, soaps, particular foods, wood polish, and many other things forming a recognizable symphony.
Our house in Valkenswaard had its own familiar perfume. The faintest trace of the bars of lavender soap with which my mother seeded all the clothes drawers, an herbal greenness drifting in from the garden, and the cigarettes which my parents smoked. Hints of silver polish, and the dust of books.
Plus coffee, of course. Life without strong coffee would've made the Netherlands a very dull place indeed.

This morning my apartment stank. My roommate, Savage Kitten, had burnt a small sauce pan with milk-coffee. Even though I am the smoker, she is responsible for most of the smells. She might disagree with that assessment, though.

Her odours permeate the apartment, mine are mostly limited to the kitchen. When I smoke I close the kitchen door, when she cooks the door is often wide open. Some evenings when I come home the hallway bears fragrant witness to her happily soaking in a warm bath.
Her nose is not as acute as mine.
Late at night I sometimes smoke in the teevee room, she doesn't notice.
I do not know what prompts memories as strongly for her.


COFFEE & LEMON GRASS?

For some people the nose is the most sexual part of the body. I can imagine deeply sniffing the hair of a woman, and actually doing that would permanently imprint that person on my mood-mind. What someone smells like is a signature, even if their personal choice of perfumes evolves. If you like the person, you will love their shifting fragrance-spectrum.
Presently my proboscis is quite alone.

I smell faintly of soap. But there's a hint of pipe tobacco. Leather, spice, and incense.
Slightly sharp, slightly tarry.
Even in the darkness you could probably recognize me.




TOBACCO INDEX


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Friday, May 27, 2011

ALTERNATIVE FEATHERATION

The other evening I had a quiet smoke with a bird. I was outside with a cheroot when a dark brown pigeon wandered over.
Dark brown is, for San Francisco’s flying rats, a rather unusual hue. It is possible that the other pigeons were a bit offish with an individual of different colouration, that’s why it sought my company. They’re probably okay with the pigeons that have rusty pink feathers – heck, they might even obsess about them, who knows what fetishes exist in the mind of a bird – but chocolate with metallic touches is rare.

The bird kept me company for the duration of the cigar.
Very civilized and friendly.


“I am 'other' but beautiful, oh pigeons of Jerusalem!”


On a related note, I have been wondering almost obsessively about an eight year-old girl-child I saw the other day.
While riding the bus I saw her mother drop her off at school.
That particular school is in Chinatown. It is an almost completely Chinese grammar school.
The little girl in question is white.

She has probably already picked up some very interesting locutions while there, words that her mother has never heard before.
It must be an interesting experience, being the only Caucasian in class. The other girls are almost certainly intrigued by her hair - not only does it look different, but it feels different - as well as her interesting non-standard eyes. How odd, yet how pretty.

When she’s older, she and her friends will probably go around the corner after school to purchase snacks – and she’ll flabbergast the shopkeeper when she answers unselfconsciously in Cantonese.

You remember the bemused scrunch to Kermit the Frog’s face at times on the Muppet Show, yes?

Please imagine that same expression on the face of a shopkeeper on Stockton Street when a three foot six inch tall small white female person with blondish hair says, “wah, taai gwai-lah, gam do chien....., yau mow peng-di ge, ah sook?”

I would very much like to be a fly on the wall at that moment.

Throughout her life she will surprise people.
Marvelous!


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Thursday, May 26, 2011

SHARK FIN SOUP - A DELICIOUS AND REFINED DELICACY

A visitor to my blog left a comment recently underneath a post about shark fin.
As my readers may realize, I am rather of the opinion that much of the furious noise about shark fin that has cropped up of late is little more than stuck-up white folks howling about the horrid heathens and getting all self-righteous, much like they've done in the past, especially here in San Francisco.

Yes, finning practices are pretty appalling. And yes, these practices are diminishing the population of these predators.
The true offenders are the entire world's fishing fleets - and it should be kept in mind that giant factory fishing vessels are emptying the oceans at a rapid rate - so the Yanks, the Spaniards, the Peruvians, and the Northern Europeans are just as much to blame.
Much that is caught by industrial fishing practices ends up used in fertilizer.

But it's SO nice when armchair dogoodniks can scream and kvetch about an ethnic group other than their own, isn't it?
Especially when they can vent their racism.


It's very liberating to be a bigot for a good cause.


Personally I am extremely fond of shark fin soup. Truly, it is one of the finest culinary inventions, along with foie gras and nice tender veal. One of my fondest dreams is to combine all three ingredients into a fabulous multi-course feast.
Darn it all, my mouth is watering!


SHARK FIN RECIPES

I have, in kindly response to the person who commented today, as well as the reader who promised "If I find you, I'll kill you, set an example of your shark fin soup eating whore mouth", and a few others whose obscenity-laced insults did not meet my editorial standards, reposted all three of the shark fin recipes in my repertoire on my food page: http://cookingwithalizard.blogspot.com/.
Each one under its own header, of course.
For your ease and convenience.


"If I find you, I'll kill you. Set an example of your shark fin soup eating whore mouth"


魚翅湯
SHARK FIN SOUP - PERSONAL FAVOURITE
http://cookingwithalizard.blogspot.com/2011/05/shark-fin-soup-personal-favourite.html


錦繡海上鮮
BROCADE EMBROIDERY UPON THE OCEAN SHARK FIN
http://cookingwithalizard.blogspot.com/2011/05/brocade-embroidery-upon-ocean-shark-fin.html


蟹肉把翅
CRAB MEAT CLUTCHED SHARK FIN
http://cookingwithalizard.blogspot.com/2011/05/crab-meat-clutched-shark-fin.html


Please feel free to leave me your impressions of these dishes and suggestions for improvement, or share your own recipes for this noble ingredient in the comments field.
I keenly look forward to your feedback.

Bon appétit!


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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

THE COMPANY OF MAGPIES

Magpies are related to crows, and, like their larger kin, they are very intelligent gregarious birds. Often they have no fear of humans, and will venture quite close, being by nature extremely inquisitive. Besides, people are notorious in the animal kingdom for haphazardly littering edibles all over the place. Civilization nourishes the multitudes.
Apple cores, leftovers, half-eaten pizza, roadkill.....


NIBBLING THE 'NEEPS
Casual conversation with an acquaintance visiting from somewhere else.

There are magpies in her garden, she tells me. In Spring they like to sun themselves on the fence, and often they boisterously congregate at the end of the property, especially on warm days.
She likes watching them from the kitchen window, purposefully stepping over the lawn looking for bugs or seeds. They are cocky and self-possessed.
Confident cheeky birds, with loads of personality.

Since she retired, she has less contact with people. She lives in the country, the nearest town is a few miles away. But the magpies keep her company. She doesn't miss humans - the birds provide all the eccentricity and social noise she needs to feel connected. And they don't mind her. Occasionally she will put some food out for them, and they will fearlessly come quite close, even landing on the table under the overhang when she is sitting there.
No, she has never touched one of them.
She knows she could, but it would be a breach of trust.

One time she was making dinner, with the kitchen window open. A magpie was perched on the sill looking at her while she moved around.
She could tell from the cock of its head that it was fascinated, it observed her motions with avid interest. After she drained the sliced turnips with cold water, she put them in a saucer to cool on the window sill, taking care not to chase away the bird.
She was going to have the neeps later with a little vinaigrette, salt and pepper, on crisp washed lettuce.
While she stewed some chicken she felt a little embarrassed - here a bird was watching her cook another bird. Wouldn't that be disconcerting? Apparently it wasn't.
She could see that the magpie was still happily observing her. But it had shifted its position, moving more towards the centre of the window sill.

A pinch of ground cinnamon and a little sugar over the chicken - the magpie twitched a bit, and moved over slightly.

As she reached over for the cooking sherry, she noticed that the bird had shifted again. A few stirs with the spatula, and the bird on the window sill moved over even more. She turned the heat low, put a heat-absorber under the pan and covered the gently simmering chicken to finish cooking in its own juices. When she put the spatula down on a plate off to the side, she could see that the magpie was now almost all the way near the end of the window sill, near the turnips.
It was still watching her, but it seemed distracted.

While she washed the turnip pot she observed the magpie reflected in the glass panels of the chinaware cabinet.

It moved right next next to the turnips and cocked it's head. The sliced turnips were now probably quite cold, there was not even a trace of steam. The magpie looked at her, then looked at the turnips again.

Then it picked up a piece.

Yep, those suckers were completely cool. The magpie had no trouble eating it. Without turning around she continued to observe the magpie. The magpie no longer looked at her, it looked at the turnips.
And pecked at another disc.

When she turned off the heat under the chicken, the magpie scooted back to the centre of window sill.

She swears that the bird was trying to look sweet and innocent, as if to say "no, no, I'm really NOT interested in turnip..... got any roadkill?"

She took the chicken and some bread into the dining room to eat, deciding that turnip that has been pecked by a wild bird might not be a good idea for dinner.
When she came back, there was no turnip left, and no magpie on the window sill.


There were four magpies perched on the fence, however, looking fat and sleepy.


She's planning to put out a whole pizza one of these days, on the table under the overhang, so she can say she had company for dinner.
It's the closest you can come to roadkill without riding over something in the station wagon.


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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

VEGANS COVERED IN MEAT JUICE AND BACON FAT

The other day I was treated to a rant about food. What spurred it was a discussion between two people who are in charge of arranging a feast at a yearly pool-party at which there will be very many nearly naked people disporting themselves.
Both in and out of the water, all afternoon, with refreshing beverages.

I too will be attending.
But I will be fully clothed.
Heck may freeze over before I show myself in the nearly nude to large numbers of cheerful wet inebriates.
I'll be watching, though.
I enjoy the sight of youngish well-built not fully clothed people frolicking while drinking many fine cocktails.

Now, the rant. Somebody had mentioned Vegans.
This awoke the ire of another person.

"Oh for crapsakes, don't make too much salad! Aaargh! Nobody eats that stuff, damned rabbits, they all say how NICE it was how beautiful yum yum but at the end of the day there wasn't enough meat and there's still piles and piles of frikkin' salad left over. Compost! Nothing more than limp danged compost! Can't even get ANYBODY to take it home! Poo. They clusterfudge around the bloody meat, and the medium meat, and the well done meat, and the steaming haunches and the roast, and there's NEVER enough meat with sauce, or juices, damned juices, or blackened fatty bits, everybody LOVES the meat!
You gotta have meat! Meat, meat, meat!"



The assertion was made that you have to have something for the Vegans.

"F the Vegans! Sour pasty-faced people with psychological problems, nobody HAS to be a Vegan, they just haven't gotten into contact with their nasty selves! If they just rubbed themselves all over with steak-sauce their problems would be over! Some of them are so seriously INTO leather restraint devices and punishment that they practically LIVE off dead animals in their bed, why not eat them? Are they trying to absorb the protein through spanking? It doesn't work, lord knows I've tried, all I got was damaged beef up my ass and throbbing thighs!"

Okay, you feel strongly about this.
We can tell.

"I'll tell you, when they're drunk, they're up there at the cutting board sopping up all the juices and digging into the piles of steaming flesh along with everybody else, it's WHAT they COME for! Hunks of raw meat dripping from their saggy jowls, hamburger from chin to scraggy crotch! The only thing missing is cheese and avocado! That Veganism drops as soon as they've gotten plastered, and when nobody's watching they'll down an entire tube liverwurst, shoving it into their greedy pursed white lips like there's NO tomorrow and it comes spurting out of their noses and eye sockets!
And every single one of them smells like liquid smoke!"



But surely some of them are sincere?

"And I'll tell you something else dammit!
The reason why that tofu tasted SO damned good was cause it was fried in bacon fat!"



The people in charge of the food wisely changed the subject, the anti-Vegan subsided, grumbling, into an intoxicated funk in his corner, and I went out to have a cigar.

The idea of tofu fried in fat intrigues me, though.
Bacon-wrapped beancurd. Sounds good.

Yeah, I'm definitely going to that party.

I'll keep an eye peeled for any undressed Vegans.

I wonder if those people sunburn.
Maybe they just melt.
Or fry in the heat.
Sizzle.



BTW:
The person who delivered the rant is in the food service industry.
He knows whereof he speaks.



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Monday, May 23, 2011

MUST KILL, MUST KILL!

Due to the continued mental instability of the Head Roomie (ms. Bruin), the small she-sheep with the little pink bows (Angus) has been appointed acting Head-Roomie. She will be assisted by the magenta cat (Beanie) and the big black hand-puppet spider (Pierpont).

The senior teddy bear is no longer up to the task.
I'm sure you understand.
Not quite a mental break-down, but definitely too much stress.

Ms. Bruin is very upset that the other human person in the apartment spends so much time with her boy friend.
And I can understand that - what is this world coming to when a woman devotes more attention to some werewolf in a wheelchair than to her oldest companion in the world, that being the teddy bear she's known for longer than anyone else?

For the past several months, ms. Bruin mutters "must kill, must kill" every time his name is mentioned. This obsession with pushing Wheelie Boy off the end of a pier reached crisis proportions over the weekend. She didn't chastise the Froad at all when he hatched a plot to whack one of the other fuzzballs, just snapped "what EVER" and went back to her murderous muttering.

Very disconcerting, I assure you.

Just can't have chaos among the critters. It ain't right.

Something had to be done.


Not all of the little anarchists are happy with the decision to appoint Angus (that being the she-sheep) acting head roomie. Several insisted that they were in fact more suitable for the task, being older, and clearly so much wiser. That last assertion is contradicted by their behaviour heretofore. Thieves, rabble-rousers, rioters, and incendiarists!


They'll just have to suck it up. Change is in the air. This is a good thing.


And no, we will NOT hold a vote on this. We're not running a democracy.
I have authorized Angus to clout dissenters fiercely if they start anything.
Things will be peaceful, or else!


AFTER THOUGHT

The plan to lure Wheelie Boy to the end of pier by laying down a trail of Swedish Princess cake has been shelved temporarily. Logistical issues.
The intended victim would require a plate with one of those little pastry doilies on it for each slice, as well as a clean fork for each serving, and a serviette.

And he probably can't eat more than a few pieces before being full, unfortunately.

"Ooh, what's this? A slice of Swedish Princess Cake! Joy! Ooh, what's that? Another slice of Swedish Princess Cake! Yay! Oooh, and is that ANOTHER slice of Swedish Princess Cake over there? Oh happy day!"

So even though I offered to bankroll ms. Bruin's purchasing of the entire supply of Swedish Princess Cake from that nice bakery in North Beach (up to four hundred dollars worth), he wouldn't follow the lure all the way to the end of the pier. Ms. Bruin will have to think of something else.




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Saturday, May 21, 2011

LITTLE PARIS COFFEE SHOP ON STOCKTON STREET - VIETNAMESE SANDWICHES & ICE COFFEE

One of the places that's been around since Noah landed the Ark is a hole-in-the-wall on Stockton Street: The Little Paris Coffee Shop.
It has been a favourite haunt of Chinatown school kids, residential hotel dwellers, and local working folks for over a generation now, and people in their twenties and thirties nostalgically stop by when they revisit the old neighborhood.
It is exactly as they remember it, but it also isn't. They remember it better than it ever was.
Often it was their first taste of non-Chinese food, and they fondly recall the Vietnamese sandwiches, noodle-dishes, and sweet shloopy puddings.

[Shloopy puddings: tapioca pearls, bean starch globules, or strange-flavour gelatin squiggles in a cold syrup drink, often with coconut cream added. You can eat it with a spoon, or pour it into a glass of ice-cubes. Pandan, grass jelly, soaked basil seeds. Salt plum, longan, or jackfruit.]


For many, it was also their very first experience of being wired to the gills on real coffee - in most places in Chinatown, the coffee verges on repulsive by noon-time, when the cafeteria style percolators have kept it warm for several hours. It's drinkable if thinned down with plenty of milk, but you won't finish the cup.
Vietnamese coffee, on the other hand, is strong and fresh. You actually have to wait for it, as the boiling water was poured into the little drip device just after you ordered it.
Slow coffee, but it speeds you up.

[Coffee: cà phê (咖啡 ka-fei). Iced coffee: cà phê đá (咖啡冰 ka-fei bing). Coffee with condensed milk and ice-cubes: cà phê sữa đá (咖啡奶冰 ka-fei naai-bing ). Hot milk coffee: cà phê sữa nóng (热咖啡奶 yeet ka-fei naai).
Coffee filtering device: cà phê phin (咖啡濾器 ka-fei lui-hei).]



The Little Paris is a neighborhood place. It has a hometown feel, and the regulars know what they want, and what to expect.
For those who left before adulthood, the memories of this place are forever gilded, and their first time back may be disappointing.
They've had the same stuff elsewhere since then, better too. Though at higher price.
Little Paris does not pretend any superiority, and may seem almost pedestrian.

However, if your expectations are not inflated by imprecise recollection, and you accept it for what it is, you cannot be dissatisfied.
The noodle dishes are excellent, the cold meats are exactly what you wanted, and the sandwiches use real Vietnamese baguettes.
Where else in C'town can you enjoy good cup of cà phê sữa đá, scarf down a fresh sandwich, and surreptitiously listen to aunties quarreling?

[Vietnamese baguettes: bánh mỳ (餅麵). Biscuit bread. The dough is made with a mixture of wheat flour and rice flour, resulting in a lighter bread with a crust that benefits particularly from toasting without the interior becoming too moist or spongy.
That's why it's much better.
The regular Vietnamese sandwich, also called bánh mỳ, or bánh mỳ đặc biệt (餅麵特別) contains sliced pork, either liver paté or head cheese, cilantro, sliced cucumber, and đồ chua (sour stuff: daikon and carrots shredded into diluted tamarind with a little fish sauce, sugar, chili flakes).
Sliced green chilies or red hot sauce may be added to taste. Frequently the inside of the baguette is buttered a bit to add flavour.]



You may remember Little Paris from your childhood, when you hurried there from school to get a warm flaky sandwich and a small container of green dark dark green sweet squiggles in syrup, or to scarf down some rice-skin rolls ('gỏi cuốn', or 'món cuốn', using 'bánh tráng' sheets) with fresh shrimp.
Ten of you sat at a six person table, divvying up the goodies that your limited funds afforded, and it was utterly good!

[Sweet snacks: Bánh bò (glutinous rice flour and coconut milk confection), bánh da lợn (steamed pastry of alternating layers made from tapioca flour, rice flour, and various flavourings), bánh đúc xanh (cooked rice flour paste flavoured with pandan), bánh hấp (steamed glutinous flour pastries), chè chuối (banana & tapioca in coconut milk), etc.]


I remember the place from when I lived a few blocks away, and wanted a treat.
Back in those days, for three dollars including tip, I left filled with coffee, sugar, and meat. Oh boy.
And no Northbeach weirdoes were present to be a nuisance.

It's less than ten blocks from the office. Perfect for Saturday lunch.


BÁNH Mỳ

'Yat go tong yiuk mien-bau, tong mai yat pui Yuet-nam ka-fei, m-koi. Ni do sik.'
一個凍肉麵包, 同埋一杯越南咖啡, 唔該. 呢喥食.
["One 'regular' sandwich ('gelled-meat bread-bun'), one cup Vietnamese coffee, please. Here eating."]

'Yiu m yiu tong, ah?'
要唔要凍, 呀?
["Want-not-want cold?"]

'Yiu tong, m-koi.'
要凍, 唔該.
["Want cold, if you please."]

'Wah, gam lek-ge tong-wah.'
譁, 咁叻嘅唐話.
["Wow, such smart Cantonese."]

That last comment was delivered sotto voce to somebody off-side. It is not uncommon for speakers of Chinese to be surprised when someone who is clearly not related to them is actually able to say a few intelligible words.

[Note: Lek 叻 = 聰明. But also connotations of cool, hip, too clever by half.]

- - - - -

'Ho-m-ho-yi jor, ah?'
可唔可以坐, 呀?
["Can-not-can sit?"]

'Jor, jor.'
坐, 坐.
["Sit, sit"]



All tables were occupied. I sat down at a table with an elderly woman who had ordered a noodle soup dish that contained roast duck, very scrumptious looking. The both of us concentrated on our food and did not talk.

At the table in the back an old codger was being kept company by his daughter or granddaughter while eating noodle soup. He was riotously holding forth.
"Well of course Ah-Fong is sick ('peng-joh lah!'), what did you expect? What did anyone expect? The old devil ('lo sei kwai') is eighty six, that's when you're SUPPOSED to visit the hospital ('yi-yuen') all-time!"
Sluurrrrrrp!
"Him, ah, approximately gone dead already, still all time insists on walking, that sour bitter face very cringe every foot! Can't stand living, too shit-scared to die!"
Sluuuuuuuuuurrrrrrrrrp!!
"And his wife, ah, old bothersome hag! She can't WAIT till the stinky crow-smell passes life! Hope insurance pays her for years of putting up with his bad temper, rotten air! Greedy eyes, hah!"
Sllllluuuuuuuuuuuuuurrrrrrrrrrppp!!!!!!
"Hospital can't stand him either, cure him REAL good, so he never come back!"

With a satisfied clatter of utensils the old man finished eating.
His female relative had not had a bite. Maybe she was treating the old guy.
She got an earful of bad-luck talk for her trouble, poor woman.
The food and conversation cheered him up immensely, though.
He was smiling.


At a table near the door two customers had an exchange with the boss-lady.
"Wah, this coffee NOT good fragrance! Can change?"
"Why? All same, no difference!"
"But it so stink!"
"You not want? Miss, you why order? Big machine!"
"Huh!"


Listen, lady, if you wanted good fragrance coffee, you should've ordered the 热咖啡奶 (yeet ka-fei naai), only fifty cents more, ten thousand times better.
The proprietress cut the customer a fifty cent break off the bill, and the woman was happy.
She drank all of her 'so stink' coffee, too.



小巴黎咖啡室 (SIU BA-LEI KA-FEI SAT)
Little Paris Coffee Shop
939 Stockton Street
San Francisco, CA 94108
Tel : (415) 982 6111



Half a dozen types of Vietnamese sandwiches - regular, chicken, barbecue beef, barbecue pork, smashed meatball, vegetarian - iced coffee, chilled dessert-type drinkies. Hot noodle soups, the usual variety you would expect in a Vietnamese establishment, plus one or two more that will surprise you. Cold noodles, and small eats.
Tables for six along the wall, one table that only seats four in the back.
Fresh uncut short baguettes near the front, plastic cups of electric-coloured slooshy stuff on top of the counter, Vietnamese charcuterie in the chilled vitrines. Croissants, also.
Grab a menu and sit down. The waitress will ask you what you want in a moment.
She speaks Cantonese, English also can.

The place is clean, the service quick.

Sandwiches: $3.00 - $3.50.
Regular ('stink') coffee: $1.50.
Vietnamese drip-coffee: $2.00.

If you really REALLY want just regular stink coffee, you should come before nine o'clock, when the dust motes dance in the morning sunlight slanting in through the front. The machine coffee is fresh then.
But why not have a drip-coffee anyhow?
If it's that early, you'll need to wake-up.
Hot curry noodle soup for breakfast, cà phê sữa đá, and a seat near the front, so that you can watch the traffic on Stockton Street.
Packed buses slowly edging forward, parents walking their children to Gordon J. Lau Grammar School (劉貴明小學 Lau Kwai-ming Siu-hok) on Clay Street just up from Stockton, delivery trucks blocking the street so that merchandise can be unloaded, taxis honking frantically because some very important customer desperately needs to get to the airport or an equally important yuppie needs to get to a clerical job downtown.


Years ago you might have bought a pack of State Express 555 Virginia straights here, to smoke while you waited for your second cup to drip.
Many Việtkiều (越僑) and VietWah (越華) preferred the taste of the tobacco that they grew up with, and there was a lively trade in smokes from Hong Kong and Canada smuggled in.
Every Vietnamese shop sold non-filter Virginias.
One tin of 555 was cheaper than a pack of American cigarettes.
Far, far better quality too.
And you could still smoke indoors.

I haven't seen 555 in a very long time, several years.
But I had a Vietnamese sandwich only hours ago.

Yeah, I like the place.
Been going there for years.
It's somewhere to come back to.


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Friday, May 20, 2011

END OF THE WORLD - NOT COVERED BY SOME INSURANCE PLANS

I wish there was something amusing I could write about the end of the world tomorrow. Or at least about the individuals who are convinced that it’s going to take place.
But there isn’t.

What’s funny about stupid insane people?

Remember, these folks are all around you. The fact that they believe that his lordship The Nibbs is going to poof! magically reappear sometime within the next few dozen hours, and set in motion the destruction of this plane of existence should give you some indication of their intelligence.
Sober reality and sound judgment ain’t part of their make-up.
They use the same defective intellects in their day to day interactions.
They are part of American society.
No wonder things go wrong.


“Auntie Em, we’re not in Kansas anymore – these folks are nuts!”


Yes, Dorothy, you do well to be scared. In less than ten hours, some of these bozos will be on the road, in an awful hurry.
And they’re crazier than batshit.
Nothing funny about that. Many of them have driver’s licenses, and they’re getting ready for tomorrow. Those same crippled grey cells that decided that it’s all coming to an end are in charge of organizing their last day on earth. Those cells are neither efficient nor well-ordered.
Some of them are going to be running behind. You know it.

If the world is ending, who cares about speeding tickets?
Hell, who cares about red lights?
Crosswalks?


Traffic laws are not HIS laws. Sweet little baby Jeebus gonna rip up those traffic tickets like so much paper, if only you believe!
That little old lady who got splattered across fifty yards of asphalt, well, son, that was predestined. She didn’t have enough faith.
That crosswalk was not HIS crosswalk!


HALLELUJAH!

A number of these severely defective people will be mighty upset when nothing happens.
Either it means King Jeepers inexplicably overlooked them, or they're in for five months of torture before the climactic destruction of everything in October.
Either way, they'll have anger issues. And some of them have weapons.
If they're damned anyway, a few more dead bodies ain't gonna make a difference.
Let's just hope that defective people aim as badly as they think.
Seriously, they're nuts. They've got vehicles, heavy medication, and guns.
It will be like the Zombie Apocalypse, only with real people.

There's nothing funny about folks who are dumb and crazy.


One the other hand, the after parties are probably going to be great.
So it ain't all bad. Some of us have plans for epic fun.
We'll just stay away from cars and open windows.


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Thursday, May 19, 2011

POOF!

Occasionally this blogger runs into statements that make him wonder at the sanity of the world. Utterances of staggering bladebla uttered with such studious neutrality that initially no one notices how utterly useless the observation actually was.

Such as this doozy.

QUOTE:
"Exposure to the conditions found in space induces rapid changes in living systems".


Let me repeat that:
"Exposure to the conditions found in space induces rapid changes in living systems"


"Exposure to the conditions found in space induces rapid changes in living systems!!!"



It takes a rare genius for stating the obvious to have written that sentence with a straight face.

Exposing the average two to two hundred pound animal to a vacuum has, in fact, a rather startling result:

SUDDEN RUPTURE.

The liquids and semisolids are no longer containable by the envelope.

Much like what happens when you puncture the lid of a can that has gone bad, or, for example, try to pop the lid off a bottle of Malaysian-Chinese shrimp pickle that has spent far too long on the shelf before reaching the consumer.
Muck everywhere.
Fortunately, in space you will not have to wipe shrimp goo off your face, or comb shrimp eye-balls and entrails out of your hair. Just wipe your visor clean, and it will go floating off into the void.
Same goes for your colleague, if he decided that the space-suit was too constricting. He wanted to be free, unbound! A sudden fit of nudism! Huzzah!
Say, what was that part of him that just went past?
I think it winked.


"Exposure to the conditions found in space induces rapid changes in living systems"


The great thing about the flying organic muck released in the vacuum of space is that it will have virtually no smell. Entirely unlike that bottle of Malaysian-Chinese shrimp pickle, which was rambunctiously fragrant.
For something to stink, there must be atmosphere.

You don't believe me?

Go ahead, prove it for yourself.

Take off your helmet.



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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

OVERWHELMINGLY PUTRID

An acquaintance who lives out in the wilderness (Montana), amidst the savages, slope brows, and mythical monsters that populate the great American bush, is on his way to Europe.
He's never been abroad, this is his first time.
To prepare for the trip he sent me an e-mail.

Quote:
"I'll also be in Holland for two weeks. Should I bring along my trusty brier? Do they allow smoking over there, or are they as crazy as the Californians? Do they have any blends that are worth smoking? I've been told that Clan is the very best pipe tobacco in Europe".

Clan? Clan by Theodorus Niemeyer?

Who told you that? And why do they hate you?



PERFUMED PUKE IN A POUCH

I sent a short and to the point answer to his query.

"Clan Pipe Tobacco (by Theodorus Niemeyer) tastes like tooti-frooti and gasoline combined. Why they decided that shredded sand-paper would benefit from such treatment is beyond me - smoke one bowl of this miserable overly aromatic crap, and you could chew barbed wire without flinching it will pull such a number on your mouth. Good lord man, it smells like an elderly harlot, and will leave your mouth raw and oozing puss like a case of oral clap. Do NOT buy it! If you do, you won't even finish the bowl, you'll toss both the freshly ruined pipe and the remainder of the pouch in the garbage pail in your room, and the hotel will then charge you for disinfecting the premises, as well as the exorcist they'll need to expel the demons.
And afterwards people will still wonder why you wash with urinal cake.

If you WANTED to inspire suicidal or murderous tendencies in little girls and sensitive strangers, reeking of Clan Pipe Tobacco (by Theodorus Niemeyer) is the surest way to do it, as well as inducing nightmares and weeping fits. Vile is far too weak a word to describe it; it is proof positive of depravity, a foul perversion, the Nazi jackboot of tobaccos, an exceedingly nasty and un-Christian smoke, and loathsome in the extreme.

Clan, by Theodorus Niemeyer, is cruelty and sadism combined in a pouch. It is the shredded pimp chest-hair of tobaccos. Feh!

If you smoke this putrid blend (Clan, by Theodorus Niemeyer), your eishes chayil will demand a divorce and custody of the dogs (you can keep the damned cat, she won't stay with you anyway), and I myself will personally testify on your spouse's behalf.
If absolutely necessary, we'll hire someone who has a baseball bat. You will regret this.

There are plenty of things to satisfy your oral fixation in Holland, but Clan pipe tobacco is NOT one of them.


Dutch cigars are quite delightful - De Oliphant, Hajenius, Oud Kampen are excellent brands - and as far as food is concerned, their deep-fried unidentifiable objects are sheerly wonderful. The coffee is good (even though most Dutch coffee brands are now owned by Sarah Lee), their gin (Genever) is more than drinkable in lieu of American liquor, and they do have some very decent beers (not Amstel or Heineken).
Put herring and Belgian ales into your face. Eat a frikandel. Have some oliebollen.
The bakery products are excellent. And there is superior Indonesian food to be had in most cities.
There is even candy, some of it quite bearable.

But for your own sanity stay the hell away from their pipe tobacco (especially Theodorus Niemeyer's blends - Niemeyer is the manufacturer of Clan).
Purchase some Samuel Gawith Best Brown instead - you will offend the average Dutchman because what you are burning smells and tastes like the real stuff, but seeing as you can't smoke in cafés anymore anyhow, scant difference. Screw them. The trauma ain't worth it.
"


Before he left, he sent a response to my advice.


"Thanks"


Happy to oblige.

Hope you enjoy your trip.


On a related note, I purchased two new pipe tobaccos today - 'Haddo's Delight', by G.L. Pease, and 'Old Dog', by McClelland.

Haddo's Delight consists mostly of Virginias, with Perique, black Cavendish, and air-cured ribbon.
Old Dog is aged Virginia, black Cavendish, Oriental leaf, and Latakia.
Both blends are described as 'smelly', and have their eccentric aficionados.
I'll let you know if I become one of them.




TOBACCO INDEX


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HIGH RISE UNDERWEAR

Normally I hate other people's cellphone conversations. It just seems so inconsiderate to subject the world to one's private business, especially on a bus or in an elevator.

Sometimes, however, it is delightful.

The other day an attractive young lady rushed to get on the elevator, which already had eight other people in it. Three of whom were going to floors higher up than mine.
Her floor was the second highest.


She was telling her friend on the phone that she didn't like the cold weather.
[Sweetheart, nobody likes the weather we're having. That, you had to explain?]


'The rain was SO depressing!'
[Us too, but we're not kvetching on the phone.]


'It was horrible! Horrible!'
[Thank you so much for reminding us! Reminding us!]


'She couldn't WAIT till the weather got better.'
[Neither can we, dear. Your bellyaching is making it worse.]


'So that she could wear her nice thin silk panties.'
[Hello?]


'They felt SO smooth against the skin.'
[They do?]


'Made her feel all warm and sensuous!'
[Oh.]


'And silk panties are much more cute than a thong.'
[Much more!]


'Talk about comfort!'
[Yes please]


'Like they're hardly even there!'
[! ! ! ! ! ! ! !]



After the silk panties girl got out of the elevator, there were three of us left.
Two more floors to go.
No one got out on the floor after hers, or on the last floor.
That wasn't what I had expected when I had surreptitiously hit the button for twenty.
We pressed for our real floors, and rode down in silence.



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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

DOMINIQUE STRAUSS-KAHN VICTIM OF YANKEE PURITANISM!

One of the striking things about the IMF rape case is the difference in perception between Europe and America.

Over here in the United States, while we maintain the presumption of innocence till proven guilty, we are willing to let the facts speak for themselves, and we accept that there is a reasonable likelihood that Dominique Strauss-Kahn indeed did that of which he is accused.
A trial will determine the facts.

In Europe, many people are convinced that Dominique Strauss-Kahn is the victim of some dastardly anti-European plot by the Americans, that it is a set-up by Sarkozy and the French secret service, that the Bilderburgers are going to shank him in prison, that a Wall-Street banker-clique did this to take revenge, that the American justice system cannot possibly give him a fair trial, that Americans are brutal and corrupt as well as mean and stupid, and that the woman was paid to make the claim and will become rich by sucking every last cent from the poor victimized honourable European.
It is a travesty and a rank injustice that he should be detained.

In short: 'He's innocent, she's a greedy slut, and the Yanks are evil.'


As an American, I am willing to let the facts speak for themselves and I accept that there is a reasonable likelihood that Dominique Strauss-Kahn is indeed a filthy pig.

If he is found guilty, I rather hope that he does get shanked in prison.
Or abused repeatedly with a bar of soap.


EUROPEAN SOPHISTICATION, REFINEMENT, AND MANLINESS

Remember the famous French film director Roman Polanski?
When Polanski was finally apprehended after being shielded by the Europeans for two decades, the foreign ministers of France and Poland angrily insisted that he be released, and the European press went apeshit in his defense.

Why, the nerve of those Yanquis! The gall! Quelle effronterie!

Among other things it was averred that the thirteen year old girl he drugged and raped deserved it because she was an American, and in any case, a famous and accomplished European like Polanski - an artist, nota bene - naturally needed a bit of fun.
Even if it meant abusing a juvenile.
A non-European juvenile.
One of those people.
It's not depravity if we do it.
Verrily, it was an HONOUR that so talented a man should sexually brutalize a mere Californian teenager!

Hmmph, stupid Americans!

The French minister of culture at the time was livid that 'les Americains' should dare to pursue such an utter genius. Many famous French intellectuals and artists enthusiastically joined him in his angry histrionics and foot-stamping.


"Roman Polanski est un citoyen Français, un artiste de renommée internationale, désormais menacé d'être extradé. Cette extradition, si elle intervenait, serait lourde de conséquences et priverait le cinéaste de sa liberté"


Nous exigeons la remise en liberté immédiate de Roman Polanski!!!"


First Polanski, now Strauss-Kahn.
Is there no limit to Yankee meddlesomeness?
American women were meant to be the sexual prey of Europeans - didn't you know that?

Friendly note to the Europeans: you lot are, on the whole, a rather disgusting bunch of pissants.

After perusing a number of European journals these past few days, and noting the reactions by the readers of same, I am convinced that many Europeans are sexual predators and brutes who should not be allowed near females of any age, or even young boys.
Especially not if they're outside of Europe.

Of course I was already convinced of that anyway.


AFTER WORD

Roman Polanski was released in July of 2010 instead of being extradited.
Both he and the Europeans remain unrepentant.



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Monday, May 16, 2011

BIG NAKED SALAD SPRITE

One of my friends always glowers at me during the weeks before and after the Bay to Breakers Race. He blames me for something, and though he actually realizes it was his own fault, I as the wise elder should have foreseen issues and forewarned him.
I have superior experience and sobriety. He doesn't.
Hmmph, it's NOT his problem!

It's his wife.

No, I had nothing to do with his spouse.

He bears all responsibility for his matrimonial situation too.

I don't even know her.


"I AM AN ELFIN MAN!"

Several years ago he gaily showed up a Saint Patrick's Day party "dressed" for the event.
Meaning that he was wearing a spiked hat, cute little booties, and a lime-coloured Speedo.
Nothing else.
Except for grease-paint. He was green all over.

He thought he was being both appropriate, and a leprechaun.

Given that he's a very large individual, well over six feet tall, that winsome self-image did not match popular perception. Many of us guessed instead that he was the famous spokesman for a frozen vegetable company, or doing a Brave Heart thing with green instead of blue.
Salesman for menthol kings? Cabbage head? Irish Springs Soap Guy?

Honestly, he did NOT look like a leprechaun, even with the sissy boots.

We suggested, if I remember correctly, that he belonged in Bay to Breakers with all the other randy exhibitionists, freaks, and weirdoes. In response to our taunting he threatened that indeed he would run in the race, painted exactly so.
Naked, like so many other bold men.
Of course he didn't, as taking part in that event necessitates getting up before dawn, and he likes to have a few on Saturday night.
But every year he swore that this time he would, yes!

A few years ago he nearly made it, too.
What bollixed the attempt is that he hadn't remembered that it takes time to apply greasepaint uniformly.
So I suggested to him that the next year, he should simply apply it the night before. That way he'd be ready to rumble from the moment he got up.
And I reminded him of it the week before the race. Volubly encouraged him.
Green grease-paint, dude. Rub it on thick!
I really wanted him to fulfill his potential as a large emerald nudist.
As I saw it, it would be the culmination of his manly development.

I told him that the colour was very flattering, especially with his husky build.
What I meant was that it hid the incipient flab (beer belly), but I didn't say that.

The Saturday beforehand I forcefully reiterated all my excellent suggestions and encouragement.
After a few more beers (which I paid for), he was psyched up and raring to go.
He went home to enthusiastically smear himself all over with viridian goo.


"DON'T TOUCH THE ART WORK!"

Later that night, when his wife woke up, she did NOT recognize the naked green drunk groping her titties, and screamed loud enough to wake the dead.
Long piercing hysterical yells, ending in a deep throaty gurgle when she started hyper-ventilating.

The neighbors called the cops.

The police couldn't recognize him either - he didn't look at all like his driver's license picture. It wasn't until he wiped off most of the muck that they grudgingly conceded that perhaps he was who he said he was, and indeed lived there.
I guess they didn't want him to stain their nice clean cop car, usually they'll handcuff the suspect and slam him into the backseat right away - they can always figure out which end is up at the station later.
They informed him that they did NOT want to know what he had tried to pull on his wife, but suggested that the next time he felt like doing that, he should call a therapist instead.
And stop playing weird sex games, you freak.

His wife didn't speak to him for over a week. The neighbors still weren't speaking to him two years later when they moved out. And he had to throw out the sheets, because the green grease paint had ruined them.

He blames me for talking him into this, even though he concedes that it originally was his idea. And he admits that trying to make love to his wife while painted green was a spur of the moment inspiration that I had absolutely nothing to do with.

Still, if I hadn't "pressured" him, NOTHING would've happened.

His wife wouldn't have had the fright of her life.

Neither his neighbors nor the cops would have seen him green and naked.

Apparently green hair-dye doesn't wash out easily either.

What made him really upset was that I had convinced him to go whole hog and dye his pubes.
It interfered with his love life for over a month.

For the past three years, he glowers at me when I sweetly ask whether this is the year he'll finally run in the race. Something rankles.
But he's still married, and his wife loves him again, so no harm done.
Right? Right!?!
I don't know what his problem is.


[A tube of Mehron Ogre Green only costs $2.95. Two tubes ought to do it. You could also add accents with grease crayons - a pack of six assorted colours is around eight bucks.]


Stop being a wuss and go for the gusto, dude.
You're only gonna live once.
Now is the time.


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