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, October 31, 2012

HELPFUL CREDIT SUGGESTIONS

Since the company's move from San Francisco to Hayward six weeks ago, many of our most important daily needs are taken care of, as a means of ameliorating the fact that we are now in the middle of a bleak industrial park built amidst miles upon miles of malarial swamp, with nothing but crows, insects, angry seagulls, and the foetid odour of Limburger cheese from the salt pans for company.

To that end, there are bottles of Jack Daniels and Stolichnaya in the supply cabinet.

As the Credit & Collections Department of this fine company, which designs and sells colourful extruded plastic manufactured to exacting specifications and precise tolerances, this blogger feels that that is utterly insufficient.
Only Bourbon and Vodka?
I mentioned Limburger Cheese, did I not?

Very well then.

The Management Team and Marketing Department are undoubtedly happy with the Jack and Stoly that caters to their deep and heartfelt needs.

Accounting and Finance require more.


SUGGESTIONS

Shots of Fernet Branca every day. It's a digestive aid.
We're in Hayward. We're sensitive.
Seagulls and Limburger.

Credit & Collections (me) feels that additionally a few bottles of fine single malt are needed. NOT Ardbeg, as that tastes like run-off from the Tracy tire fire and would only remind us that we are in Hayward surrounded by Limburger cheese, but something else.
I'm thinking Glenmorangie, or Macallen 17 yr old.
Seventeen year olds can be great fun!
Unlike ten or twelve year olds.

I champion maturity.

Please remember the Limburger.


It's Hayward.




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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

THE SHARED FEAST

Back in two thousand and seven is when I last spoke to him. He passed away shortly afterwards. He was in his late seventies, more or less. And yes, it was a lovely memorial service.
Everyone was there. Including his mistress.
Who was not even thirty at that time.
No, it isn't what you think at all.
She wasn't a gold digger.
And he was never a dirty old man yearning for fresh meat.

That is to say, he very well may have been a dirty old man lusting after juicy young things, but it was neither fiduciary interest that moved her, nor randy old hormones that drove him.
Any dirty-old-manhood on his part was purely intellectual.
As it usually is for men who achieve solid maturity.
The relationship was almost semi-platonic.
He knew Latin.
She wished to learn better Latin.
He was a language maven, had been all his life.
She was a medieavalist going into medical transcription.

Initially she paid him. He very gallantly turned that money into lovely dinners at cozy restaurants, which eventually became little trips out of town at nice bed and breakfast places in the wine country, as well as a few little cruises to Alaska or the Caribbean. He liked having a companion who shared similar interests, and she enjoyed being around him because he was a delightful old fellow, and keenly interested in food and strange foreign cultures. It seemed like a natural fit, despite the huge difference in age between them.
Yeah, they slept together.
Both of them were full of energy.
I know this, but really that's all I know.

I was in a large part responsible for the two of them hooking up.
Him I knew because we argued over passages of the Pentateuch - he knew the Latin, I construed the Hebrew, both of us went off of published analyses and commentaries. Her I knew because a friend had introduced us, thinking that a language nut might be able to get her Latin up to par (medical transcription uses bastardized Latin, Greek, and gibberish - very bastardized gibberish).
I realized early on that I was no help whatsoever.
So I introduced the two of them.
They took it from there.

Initially he had NO interest in food or funky foreign cultures. He despised everything that wasn't meat and potatoes, considered all native societies where people walk around semi-clothed rather primitive, and spent much of his time since retirement playing bridge and reading.
But she was fun to be with. She liked to eat. And she was hot.
Hot in the sense that any intelligent woman is hot.
Meaning that she was unremarkable.
But intellectually magnetic.
Quite the keeper.
Yes, hot.

I have no clue when they finally started relating on a physical level. It was probably after a dinner at a nice restaurant, and I'm guessing they quoted Latin at each other till both of them were silly. While the lights were low.
She admitted later that she rather enjoyed people assuming that he was her grandfather.

"Oh, I cannot go home with you, I'm with grampa, and I have to make sure he takes his pills tonight."

He wasn't on medication, and he was full of beans besides.
But it's a good excuse.

Because she liked Thai food, and Vietnamese noodle soups, and Jamaican jerk chicken, he quietly started finding out about stuff that wasn't standard issue white food. Without telling her. Then he would spring a little eatery on her, and order things that he knew pleased her.
I don't think she ever figured out his methodological approach, though.
She was just tickled pink that she had a man to eat with.
Who wasn't freaked out by foreign muck.
And liked eating with her.

Whatever this funky cross between old rope and compost heap is, it tastes just fine with the right person across the table orgasming over its delicate flavour and exquisite texture.
Say, what is this crap anyway?

I often had to explain strange dishes to him, as we all know that that is what I do best.
I know goofy food. You cannot study South East Asian languages without delving into the diet. And truth be told, I've always been fascinated by what people put in their mouths.
I knew what he was doing. Research, and familiarization.

They were together for over five years before he crashed the Ferrari.
Yes, they had a wonderful time together.
A perfect couple.

He never got to see her old and wrinkled. She didn't have to get used to him slowly losing his acuity, or his vibrantly spunky attitude.
It may have ended at the best possible time.

They had never married.
At the memorial service, many of his friends assumed that she was the beloved grand daughter.
She smiled politely, and helped them reminisce about the old man.
After it was over, I took her to a bar and got her drunk.
Cabbed her over to her aunt's house.

Picked her up again for breakfast, and took her around town.
She had always known this day would come.
Still, too sudden, too soon.
Dang.


The estate and insurance gave her enough to travel around the world. She cut the trip short less than a quarter of the way through, somewhere in the Andes, because it just wasn't fun eating foreign food without him. She finished her training and moved to east coast. She has two daughters now, whom I have not met.
I probably never will. Last time I talked to her, she admitted that she had told them about their "great grand father". Who was a splendid old fellow, keenly adventurous, a food maven.

He flew planes in Korea and Vietnam, you know.
Had a classics degree, taught Latin.
You should have met him.
A marvelous chap.

And he really liked trying new foods.


He actually preferred meat and potatoes.
But I need not mention that.



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WHISKY IS GOOD FOR SOME THINGS

Yes, she's seeing Wheelie Boy again. 
Despite the heartbreak he caused her.
It's her life, and she's in love. Probably for the first time ever.
The past two years have been queer.
She's happy.

Whenever she's on the phone with him she looks radiant. It makes me wonder what really happened during the twenty one years that we were together. I have never seen her act this way, and she has never been so giddy. It's a surprise.
I wish I had seen it when we were an item.
I was in love with her then, but I know now that she did not feel the same, or so intensely.

I do not want her back, nor would I ever try to win her heart again.
She was not at all like that when we were lovers, and it will always remain impossible for her to be as delirious with me as she is with him.
I grasp that, and I've gotten over it.
Now that I see what she feels, it could not be the same between us.
We can't be a couple again. Everything is different.
And we are not that kind of people.
What's over, is over.

Even if - when - she breaks up with Wheelie Boy again, I shan't take advantage of the situation. Both because of my own pride as well as my respect for her.
She wasn't anywhere near as passionate about me as she is for Wheelie Boy, and she will not feel that way about me in the future.
I doubt now that she ever even understood what I felt.
She inspired me, but I didn't inspire her.

We didn't mature at the same rate either. I had to be an adult earlier than was normal, she was always a little less grown up than her age.
The other day while I was waiting at the bus stop I saw her head down the street to get a snack at the store. She looked then as she has always looked - like someone you just want to protect.
Vulnerable, fragile, innocent.
She seems so very young.


I loved her very much for over two decades. 
But she probably considered me more a companion than a soulmate. 
We are still friends. We'll always be friends.
Wheelie Boy is her first real love.




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Sunday, October 28, 2012

DONUTS AT CLOSING TIME

Yesterday after a few snoots of pipe tobacco at the cigar bar, I headed over to Polk Street near my house.  Seeing as it's Halloween Weekend in San Francisco, Polk was a veritable feast for the eye.
For some reason young people are exhibitionistic at certain times of the year, and this blogger can only applaud that.
I myself was dressed-up as a perfectly normal and discreet street-corner dirty old man. Everyday garb, nothing suspect, nothing risqué.
Clean slacks, clean shirt, neat hair, spectacles.
Smelling mildly of cheroots.

While drinking in the ambulatory zoo, a friend spotted me. We hung out together while watching. He was amazed at all the young ladies with huge amounts of their real estate showing (gratuitous Monty Python reference), and I enjoyed the wonderful curvy thighs on display.
I did say perfectly normal street-corner D.O.M, did I not?

A mermaid with pendulous bosoms wobbled past, and a young zombie with a gaping bullet hole above a rosy nipple nearly crashed into her.
I observed to my friend that high heels were certainly not sensible footwear when you're out of water or have just been shot. There are times when you should think about comfort, correct posture, and your lower back, and this really seemed like one of those times. Irrespective of breast size.

Two young ladies nearby negotiated with a limo driver to get back to Oakland. It would cost them eighty dollars. Which is exorbitant, but who wants to be stranded overnight in the wrong city after Bay Area Rapid Transit has stopped running?
Especially while wearing nearly nothing?
This is very much the wrong city.
For such a mode of dress.

I'm sure their parents had not vetted the costumes.
They looked ... remarkable.

Surely they could've found a friend who would let them crash overnight? They had cell-phones, though I'm not sure where they stashed those while not in use.

"LET THEM SLEEP ON YOUR FLOOR!"

Well, that is a mighty attractive concept, but firstly I am not acquainted with them, and for all I know they could be psychopaths who would love nothing better than to slice up a middle-aged man and feed the lean meaty scraps to the sharks in the bay. And secondly, you do realize that my roommate would be more than a little bit disturbed to find two curvaceous and extremely young Goth bunny-rabbits huddled on my floor tomorrow morning?
She would suspect me of perversion.
Even if nothing had happened.

"Suspect you of perversion? You mean after all these years she still hasn't figured you out yet?!?"

Thank you for your vote of confidence.
And no, she hasn't. I was a gentleman while we were an item, and I've remained a gentleman. The filth is purely internal.

"Crap she's innocent!!!"

No, she was a gentleman too. Remarkable for someone of her gender.

"You should've offered those two cutey-pies your floor, and just told your roommate that you were discussing religion with them all night."

I'm certain she wouldn't believe that. I've never discussed theology with her, and she knows how my mind works. She'd rightly suspect me of ulterior motives in extending the invite, as would they.

"Still, you need the excitement in your life. Imagine if, in a fit of drunken insanity, both of them decided to jump your hot middle-aged body and bang you silly. It could happen, don't laugh! But if you refuse to approach people, it ain't ever gonna happen. Live a little,man, I know I would in your position. Be giddy sometime! You're too frustrated."

Somehow he doesn't understand that frustration is infinitely better than regret.

"What regret? What possible regret could there be?!?"

Well, what if they were actually very nice girls, liable to suffer emotionally afterwards? You know, sweet and intelligent, and likely to get hurt by an unsuitable relationship?

"Dude, you always overthink sex, stop being such a friggin' intellectual - you'll never get any that way!"

Probably true, but at my age thinking about sex always means 'overthinking'.
It's something I'm very good at, as I am a thoughtful man.

"You're an idiot!!!"


I really don't know what is going through my friend's mind. I'm dispassionately observing natives wearing colourful costumes while they're engaged in a fascinating cultural manifestation, he's audibly drooling, muttering things like "wouldya look at those...", "ooh, wow, man", and "yes, it IS too warm to wear a bra ... on your head".
I am not like that at all.
Cool, and even somewhat apathetic.
Perhaps a maelstrom inside, but externally mellow.

"So, describe your ideal woman"

The inquiry came out of the blue. Without thinking I flapped out "smaller than me, petite, considerably younger, round-faced and dark-haired, and significantly more intelligent".
After a moment I added "with glasses".

"Why glasses?"

Because "wise men make passes at girls who wear glasses".
It's good advice, and words to live by.

"That's just wrong, dude. It's "DON'T make passes" at them."

I'm sure he misremembers. Poetry would not lead us astray.

He was momentarily distracted by a cluster of naughty schoolgirls swishing their little frilly skirts, as well as two buff gentlemen wielding tennis racquets. Only one of whom had a skirt. But is was very fetching. White, and pleated.
While a trio of musclemen wearing 'panty emergency patrol' teeshirts went up the street, he resumed the conversation.

"So, why more intelligent than you? That's crazy. Wouldn't it be much better to find someone a bit less intelligent? Not only easier by far, but she'd never see entirely through you, unlike the rest of us."

Of course she has to be more intelligent! Someone needs to be the sensible one in this relationship, and it sure as heck ain't gonna be me!

Several more young ladies walked by, showing off between them precisely all the right parts, as well as several interesting angles. Being technically inclined, and as a former mechanical draughtsman, I know all about the benefits of cut-away views.
A lime green thong looks better coming than going, if you ask me, but differences of opinion regarding that are inevitable.
Degustibus non disputandem est, as they say.


My friend is not single.
What he saw was not good for his mental well-being.
Nor, and I'm just guessing here, for his relationship with his partner.
Who will probably slap him severely when he brings home an "evening gown" for her with hardly any actual material, but lots of glittery straps and tassels.
Which, after my sincere encouragement he has decided to do.
I am a mature man. Sort of the wise elder.
Perspective, and insight.
Trust me.


At around bar closing time, when the flocking had reached a frenzy, he asked me if I saw anything I liked. Surely one would have to be virtually dead to not take advantage of all the heat?
If you can't catch something during a street orgy, you just ain't trying!

"Yeah, that one over there who just came out of Bob's Donuts. She looks demure and sober, she's dressed properly, and she probably still lives at home; her parents would never let her out of the house at this hour if she didn't look decent. Very sweet."

"Dude, what kind of parents would let their daughter out of the house at all at two o'clock in the friggin' morning?!?"

Parents who had a sudden urge for donuts.

It makes sense to me.




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IT'S A MAN, IT'S A BADGER; IT'S BADGER MAN

Yesterday, after a horrendous week at work, I needed happy food.
Rice porridge and a fried dough stick in Chinatown.
Gloop, lean pork shreds, preserved egg.
And an airy puff-bread thing.
To dip in the jook.


皮蛋瘦肉粥同埋一根油條
PEI DAN SAU YIUK JUK TONG-MAI YAT GAN YAU TIU

It's comforting food,simple and tasty. If you expected something fancier, we should probably avoid each other.
Though if that suits you perfectly, why haven't we ever met?

I'm alone a lot these days, especially on weekends. It's something I have gotten used to. I'm no longer willing to put up with people who demand more of me than I am willing to give, and all I need for companionship is someone who is genuine, with a lively curiosity.
If I cannot have that, I'll eat by myself, and wander a while through the silent financial district smoking a pipe, observing the sparrows and the pigeons.
Before heading somewhere to read.

There is no point in insisting upon the attention of others, or settling for pretentious and attitudinal fellowship; the presence of other people is considerably over-rated.

I would absolutely not object to pleasant company.
But it would likely be someone unusual.
A quiet person to share food.
Who likes books.


And we all know that that ain't gonna happen.



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Saturday, October 27, 2012

STINKY MIDDLE-AGED DUDE

Contrary to what you might think, this blogger does not like people.
And, being a person that women do not find appealing in any way, I particularly do not like women.
There are exceptions. Some people of whichever gender are exceptional company and great to socialize with.
But NOT most people, and certainly not most women.


This came particularly into focus over the last week. Normally I find sports talk pointless, displeasing, and staggeringly boring. But the San Francisco team is doing very well, and many people, especially men, are in a giddy fever over the praestations of the peleton wot represents our splendor to the world. And dangit, they cannot speak of anything else.
In precisely that obsessive focus and repetitiveness, the men are now exactly as unbearable as women usually are.
Women talk about handbags, shoes, shopping, and themselves.
Obsessively, and at stultifying length.
The handbags and shoes are what they wish to go shopping for, with the company and credit cards of obedient men that worship them. Who had better be extremely good wage earners with high-status careers, meekly supportive of the accoutrements industry. If a man cannot generously nurture their obsessions, happily talk about them all the time, and further their competitive edge over other women by being a prize to show off and make other women jealous, that man is just not worth associating with.
A woman will tolerate her man yacking on about sports, because no thought or input whatsoever is required, other than occasional punctuation with 'yeah', 'uh huh', 'how about that pizza', or simply admiring looks at the male specimen. And exactly the same is, at the right moment, all she needs from that man when the subject switches to handbags, shoes, shopping, and her own self.

Sports, shoes, and handbags represent extremely similar social dynamics.
Both genders assert their self-obsession by these subjects.
Women know it's all about them anyway.
They are the centre of the universe.
Eventually, and inevitably.
They make sure of it.
Brutal trade-off.


Women have absolutely no use for a middle-aged man who smokes a pipe, refuses to talk about sports, handbags, shoes, or shopping, and doesn't have a high-status career likely to subsidize fashionable accessory and footwear frenzies.

You can understand that female company has become rare in my world.
And I no longer have unrealistic expectations about romance.
I'm fifty three, and I've never bought a handbag.
Women quite rightly stay away.
I'm just wrong.


The men this past week have been quite unbearable. Normally I can switch a discussion slightly sideways, so that some thought is required. This takes patience and creativity, but men are both reasonably sociable as well as malleable, unlike women.
However this approach is nearly impossible now that everyone is in a ball frenzy.
What with the inane cheering and occasional hooting whenever there are groups of people clustered together, even rather unintelligent conversation has disappeared.

Yes, the men have become absolutely as loathsome as the distaff side.
Normally many of them are boring beyond belief, now they're far worse.
And women have absolutely no use for a middle-aged pipe-smoker anyway, so their company isn't an option.


This blogger is cognizant of his limitations.

Can't hide at home anymore - it's NOT a smoke-friendly environment. And has become less so than ever.

Coffee shops are out of the question - no smoking allowed, but incessant yacking on cell-phones and laptops encouraged.

Bars are not part of the picture - deafening sports waffle at present, though that may change soon, meaning more women going on about handbags, shoes, shopping, and snootiness anent middle-aged pipe-smokers who do NOT have high-status careers capable of funding a life of fashion-accessory surplus for the deserving female.

Parks also no can do - it is now illegal to light up there; you will be reported to the police by a stridently self-righteous yoga-pants wearing tofu-snarfing handbagaholic walking a precious chihuahua who feels that her chances of meeting a wonderful barely post-college-age gentleman with suitable prospects are diminished by the offensive presence of a middle-aged pipe-smoker.



Men, mostly, do not provide good company.
Most women cannot provide good company at all, ever, as well as being utterly impossible to even think of as friends, pals,or romantic partners.
Besides, the overwhelming majority of women despise pipe-smokers AND fifty-three year old males, so it would be ridiculous to even consider them as safe or salubrious to associate with.
Battling against their social and biological programming to be rigidly blinkered self-absorbed handbag and shoe collectors who are incapable of holding an actual conversation, ESPECIALLY one that isn't centered about them, is an enterprise that at my age, and as a pipe-smoker who is not super-rich, I am bound to loose.


I guess what I really object to is that I cannot smoke indoors.




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Friday, October 26, 2012

NOTES FROM OTHER EARTH

Someone asked me who Mao Tsetung was. No, not a sweet little tyke in grammar school, but a college graduate. It made me feel incredibly old.
People ask me stuff all the time now, because they have reason to believe that I have the answers. I have become the ancient elf who ate the library, and seemingly knows everything. Something twixt Polymatheius, Gollum, and Gandalf.
Based on previous exposure, they're right; facts are retained.
They're quite surprised that I am not a professor.
Just a head perfect for trivial pursuit.


The Mao Tsetung question inevitably brought up Sun Yatsen, Chiang Kaishek, Chang Hsüeh-liang, as well as Liu Shaoqi, Zhou Enlai, Lin Biao, Hua Guofeng, and a short feisty Szechuanese chainsmoker named Deng Xiaoping.
I suppose I could've also mentioned Vladimir Illyich Ulyanov, Lev Davidovich Bronstein, Bukharin, and some dude named Stalin, as well as Toyo, Yamamoto, Roosevelt, Churchill, and De Gaulle, but the conversation would've gone irreparably south had I done so.

If all of the above had been Kardasians, baseball players, or rap artists, their names would be quite well-known now.

You know, people like Snoop Diddy, or whatever his name is.
Important people.
Famous.


I am by no means old.
Nor am I an encyclopedia.
I'm just from another planet.



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Thursday, October 25, 2012

PLANNING INCIDENTAL CANNIBALISM

Through no fault of the organizers of today's lunch, a well-known restaurant chain managed to get the order for two dozen people wrong.
They did not deliver food for half of the people here.
We're isolated in the middle of miles upon miles of industrial park, starving, and low on blood sugar. Suffering from existential hunger. As well as attitude issues.
Likely to get either violent or despondent.


Hayward.


Personally, I'm blaming Hayward, a place I already characterized as the armpit of hell in previous posts about the fen bog pit toxic waste dump compost heap to which our office has moved.


Hayward.


Checklist:
1. CUISINE: reliable taco trucks. Hardly anything else worth eating. Every place staffed by bright suburban teenagers is flaky and badly managed. On the plus side, none of us have had food poisoning yet. Or perhaps we did, and just didn't know it. You know, a-symptomatic. But I'm sure it's just a matter of time.
2. TRANSIT: served by Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), Greyhound, and Alameda-Contra Costa buslines (AC Transit), the only reliable mode of conveyance is the morning bus that goes past the courthouse. Probably in lieu of the paddy wagon from the county lockup, which has probably been scrapped from the city's budget. There have been a number of times when I had to wait more than an hour for a bus back to the train station in the evening, because what the printed schedule said was hopeful, rather than realistic. There are no taxis that drive past the industrial wasteland on the off-chance of opportunity, by the way.
3. CLIMATE: Bay Area Suburban. That means people wearing clothes that their mothers would've warned them against. If their mothers were paying any attention. Just too many problems, however, what with suburban teenagers who cannot figure out complex orders (more than two items, faxed or e-mailed), busses that never show up, offenders wandering the streets, taco trucks fleeing from industrial wastelands, rampant food poisoning, a-symptomatic dogs, ponies, seagulls, and assorted zombies.
It rains just as much here as elsewhere.


Hayward.

A good start toward civilization in this place would be if the local teenagers pulled up their pants so that the crotches of their baggy jeans weren't down around their knees. Their boxer shorts aren't handsome enough to merit exhibitionism (with one or two notable exceptions - kudos, gentlemen, on your stylish choices and polished rumps), and for those who are wearing briefs, the idea should be right out.


Hayward. It's a real slice.


One of our staff members is driving toward the food place that got the order wrong as we speak.
He's got a hatchet.
If we don't get the food, he's promised to bring back the offending teenager.
Perhaps we will feast on juicy dunce today.
Who knows.



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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

THE SOUND OF DISHWATER

Most people are likeable enough that humankind is in no danger of dying out.
Unfortunately, that means huge amounts of dullness.
The majority are not very interesting.

This was made especially clear when I heard two women chatting recently over cocktails and smokes. I was left wondering what made them special, and why on earth they had "man" problems. They seemed perfectly standard in every way. Shoes, handbags, hair, fingernails. Real Housewives, Cooking with Rachel Ray, and the shopping channels.
Nothing objectionable, in other words.
If all goes according to plan, both of them will end up married to doctors or lawyers, who spend a lot of time watching sports when they are at home.
Extremely normal people.
Dullards.


LISTENING TO THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE

Conversationally, most people are walking disaster zones.
Shopping as a subject for discussion is utterly stultifying, and an exchange about baseball of football puts the rational person to sleep. Watching any single one those three activities is as exciting as watching the slow rot of cattle carcasses or a fermenting compost heap.
But collectively, these account for ninety-nine percent of all intellectual activity.

Can we instead talk about why hamsters are perfect pets for dressing up in sailor costumes, or why you've named your favourite pillow 'Elizabeth'?
How about the time you pushed your cousin into the garbage can?
Do you think the kitchen is a romantic place?
Is apricot jam food for the gods?
Do you have two navels?
Show and tell.


Would you rather be a velociraptor or a ferret?


If you ask most people about their taste in music, books, and activities, the answers they provide will mostly not surprise, neither will their insights and opinions regarding those things.
By and large, people hew to familiar and predictable preferences.
Not that one really wants to interact with peculiar folks.
But it's nice to know individuals with quirky minds.
I probably know less than a score of such.


I need to find one more.




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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

VICTORY!

It poured last night. If you are a baseball fiend, you noticed that.
Having had less than four hours sleep the since Sunday morning, there was good reason for me to retire early.
I did not watch the game.
Nor the debate.

The Giants won the pennant.
The debate was won by whichever candidate you support.
I have no doubt that it was quite as exciting as you expected.

Please do not tell me how it went.
Whichever "it" it was that you watched.
I am absolutely not interested in "the game".
Or in two dudes strutting for the peanut gallery.


I like rain.

The storm that drenched the area was the best part of the evening.


This morning, while taking a smoke break, I checked on the ant colony which I mentioned in a previous post. The entrance to their divan is now six inches higher up the slope than it had been - the lower levels must have flooded, and they probably scrambled to save the queen and the nursery, nevertheless they survived. The old entrance looks rather forlorn, and I suspect that a pencil pushed in would not incommode anybody. That portal, sadly, has been abandoned.
It had not rained all summer. Quite a rude shock for a generation of hymenoptera which had not known rising waters. All their organizational abilities probably came into play
The previous generations left few records.
But they are still there.


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Monday, October 22, 2012

YOUR PERVERTED UNCLE

One of my readers labours under the false presumption that I am quite the elderly degenerate. Perhaps it is my style and subject matter that leads him (?) astray.
But in fact, nothing could be less true; I am by nature a temperate and abstemious man, albeit one with a keen zest for life.
Any perversions I may have are strictly normal.
Almost Anglican in nature.

Even ... feet.

Yes, I like feet. As well as many other things. Feet can be delightful.
A good friend describes them as pedestrian objects, unlovely in the extreme, and cites the garish nail-painted podal talons of many young ladies one commonly sees nowadays as proof of that contention.
Horrid things, unattractive and appalling!
Ick poo.

Good point, but unadorned feet are often so very pretty! How can one consider them vile? Some of my fondest moments involved feet.

I haven't seen feet in so long I would probably throw stones at them.
In a manner of speaking.


To establish the clerical bend of a mild and not really all that probable podophilic aestheticism, let me present the authoritative 'opinion' of a famous man of the cloth:

Anthea bade me tie her shoe,
I did; and kissed the instep too;
And would have kissed unto her knee,
Had not her blush rebukêd me.


-----The Shoe-Tying, by Robert Herrick

[The poet was vicar at Dean Prior for eighteen years (1629 to 1647), then virtually unemployed till 1662, whereupon he was reinstated at the same place. He lived till he was 83, dying in 1674. He remained a bachelor all his life, though judging by several of his poems he may have been a vibrantly juicy fellow. We don't know if he was. I am.]

Well now. That's quite lyrical.  And evinces far more of a foot thing than I could possibly boast.  Clearly our stalwart churchman has a yen for feet that knows few bounds.
Not to leap to any conclusions, but a man who kisses a young lady's foot may be someone to keep an eye on.

I, on the other hand, merely like feet. And hands. And laughing eyes.
Oh, much else also, but let us leave it at that.
This is a good clean blog.

Evenso, I am envious of Robert Herrick.
He at least had a foot in the hand.
Better than two in the bush.


On a final note, and as advice to anyone else who may jump at any chance to seek degeneracy where there is none, absolutely NONE, I shall conclude with another poem by Mr. Herrick.

TO THE GENEROUS READER

See and not see, and if thou chance t'espy
Some aberrations in my poetry,
Wink at small faults; the greater, ne'ertheless,
Hide, and with them their father's nakedness.
Let's do our best, our watch and ward to keep;
Homer himself, in a long work, may sleep.


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Sunday, October 21, 2012

OCTOBER 2012 MEETING OF THE GOLDEN GATE PIPE CLUB

Follows an account of the most recent assembly at Telfords in Marin. Meetings of the Golden Gate Pipe Club are the first Thursday of every month.

I realize that many of my readers will find this uninteresting,and I apologize.
If it helps, please imagine me doing this as an interpretive dance.
What I am wearing while doing so is entirely up to you.
This is a family blog, so keep it clean.


WHAT WE DID

6:45 PM
Several members in attendance, and a number of pipes and tobaccos present.
Seven smooth finishes, three sandblasts - one smoker abstaining.
GLP Quiet Nights, Condor, Savinelli Aromi, McClelland's Arcadia, Wilderness, Frog Morton On The Town, Cornell & Diehl's Yahoo! Mixture, Dunbar.

The master at arms (Michael) explains the format.
[We're rectangular!]
27 members, including Prometheus.

I'm smoking a Charatan's make bent bulldog, pre-Lane era, which had an interior buggered-up by the previous occupant. It's being brought back to life with prize Virginias to build the bottom cake.

William presents a chat about fire in the history of planet earth.
Eruptions, cyano-bacteria, anaerobic, botulism.
Galactic hitchhiker sets forest fire 420 million years ago.
Fire=good.
Cooked food=Better for you. 10,000 BCE pottery. 8000 BCE agriculture.
5000 BCE cleansing by burnt fragrances, inhaling smoke, trance state.
New World: Tobacco. Old World: Cannabis.
[Insert burning witch metaphor]

Mike gives a disquisition on Kaywoodie.
In 1900, 80% of tobacco smoked in pipes, 12% as cigarettes. By 1940, 45% in pipes, 45% as cigarettes.
Cigar smoking statistically not very significant.
Comoy began in 1825 as a clay pipe maker in France, first briars in 1850, French briar by 1856.
In 1851 KBB (Kaufman Bros & Bondy) was founded, manufacturing smoking equipment out of clay and meerschaum. This is the company that would become the largest pipemaker in America: Kaywoodie.

For comparison:
1863 Charatan founded.
1865 Kapp and Peterson.
1876 Savinelli.
1907 Dunhill Motorities.
[Note: first Dunhill pipe made in 1910, first shell briar in 1917.]

In 1851 the Consolidated Pipe Factory came into existence, which would eventually be purchased by Kaywoodie in 1883.
Various house brands manufactured in the early years: Paragon, Yello-bole, Dinwoodie.
The Kaufman brothers retired by 1898, but the company stayed in the family, opening a factory in 1915 in Union City, New Jersey.
The trademark 'Kaywoodie' dates from 1920, at which time the interior system was further developed - all manufacturers at the time produced system pipes, including Dunhill, hence the patent and patent pending stamping on many briars - and other brands produced by KB&B had their own systems, for instance the Silverleaf.  By 1924 the company was incorporated as KBB (the ampersand dropped away), and the "drinkless" screw-in came into being.
1928 Easily taken apart to clean. Sincro stem screw-in. 1930 head office moved to the Empire State Building. 1931 patent granted. 1935 over 500 employees. 1936 moved corp. offices to Rockefeller Center. 1938 opened office in London. 1937 flame grain introduced. 1955 company sold.

Mike showed a number of pieces from his collection, many of which were beautiful. Brian Telford brought out an unsmoked Kaywoodie four pipe set that is worth committing mayhem for.
I cannot stress enough how lovely those pieces are, especially the bent bulldog.
Gorgeous.


SUPER DELICIOUS
[WALLY F. FRANK LTD.]

At the end of the evening, during the restrained buying frenzy that always occurs when we're at the store, I saw an estate pipe that seemed hugely underpriced.
A long squat bulldog, of classic shape, with fine grain and no fills.
Why on earth was it so cheap?
While attempting to remove the mouthpiece for further investigation it snapped at the tenon.
Written small on the price tag was the notation "do NOT remove stem - glued in".

Naturally I bought it. Brian suggested that I send it away for repair, but I'm an impatient man, and I remembered the last time I had new stems made. It took over three months to get the pipes back, the pipe-fixer had done a lousy job and charged an arm and a leg. He didn't read the clear and concise instructions I had provided, and had buffed the berwillickers out of the briars to boot.
I have not smoked them since.

REPAIR

I removed the tenon and all the glue from the shank, cleaned out the tar, and discarded the insert that had occluded the drafthole and prevented the former owner ever cleaning it. A suitable stem blank was carefully fitted (had to reduce the tenon diameter by hand), and the excess carbon rubber shaved down to leave a seamless transition between the parts. Sandpapers of progressively finer grit, then finished with polishing compounds.
Less than two days after I had a broken pipe in my hands, a restored and fully functional pipe was smoked for the first time in what may very well be half a century.
Yeah, I know what I'm doing. And I've got a good eye.
It's a beauty.

The name 'super delicious' is what's stamped on the shank. That's what Wally F. Frank Ltd called that range of pipes. Wally Frank was a famous tobacconist in New York that existed till the late fifties or early sixties. They had various reputable manufacturers make pipes for them which they marketed under their own brand names.


As a final note, I now have enough Rattrays to last at least three years. 
Bought several aged cannisters of tobacco in addition to the pipe.


FYI: this evening is the second "pipe friendly Sunday" at the Occidental Cigar Club in San Francisco. They are always pipe friendly, but Thomas wants to make pipe-smokers feel more welcome.
I have always felt welcome.
It's a great place.




TOBACCO INDEX


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HOSPITABLY WARM AND STINKY

Over the past forty eight hours, several Belgians, Dutchmen, and Germans have cruised in and read this blog. 
Which is not entirely surprising - I already knew that they could read - but what they have been scoping out is rather unusual.


These three posts:

PIPE TOBACCO IN GENERAL
http://atthebackofthehill.blogspot.com/2010/02/tobacco-companies-tobacco-blends.html
Written in early 2010, it details several different blending houses, and mentions what has happened to their products.

BALKAN SOBRANIE MIXTURE AS IT ONCE WAS
http://atthebackofthehill.blogspot.com/2007/10/balkan-sobranie-original-mixture.html
A long disquisition from 2007 about a favoured smoke. Perhaps not the best thing I've written, and readers who aren't fond of pipe tobacco will find it quite as boring as the post mentioned above.

BALKAN SOBRANIE MIXTURE MADE AGAIN
http://atthebackofthehill.blogspot.com/2011/10/balkan-sobranie-2011-arango-and.html
In 2011 Arango Cigar Co. arranged with Germain and Son in the British Channel Islands to reproduce the famous blend.


While these and other tobacco-related posts bore the living daylights out of my target audience, that being primarily fresh-faced young ladies with dark wicked eyes living in the northeastern part of San Francisco who are single and curious about badgers, rabbinic students in places like New York with quirky minds and linguistic bents, booksellers, food mavens, and people with Judaic, Sinitic, and Netherlandic interests, friends, or heritages, and everyone that happily associates with any of these types, I also gladly cater to the tobacco fiends.

So, like Joel Grey as the oozing master of ceremonies in the musical Cabaret, I bid you welkom, willkommen, bienvenue.

Please imagine me singing that.
I can't hold a tune in real life, but in your imagination anything is possible.




TOBACCO INDEX


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Saturday, October 20, 2012

FURTHER ADVENTURES OF GRUMPY MIDDLE-AGED GUY

Sometimes it's hard to do something different. Sometimes it's easy.
The menu fell open at a very pretty picture, showing a bowl of fish balls and fried pork rind in satay sauce noodle soup. Perfunctorily I browsed through the rest of the offerings, but that first impression stuck with me.


Turns out it's just like a hamburger.

Tomato, lettuce, onion.....
Sliced cucumber, chili flakes, scallion.
In chicken broth enriched with Chinese Satay Sauce.
With chewy lai fun noodles providing the starchy component.

Okay, you might not think that's like a hamburger.
But consider that a hamburger consists of animal-based substances with all the usual bun inclusions. Protein, condiments, salt and spices, starch.
Perhaps it did not have the ketchup, horrid pickle chips,and nasty yellow mustard that would be traditional, but the peanutty shrimpy tangy satay sauce more than makes up for that. Add a squirt of Tương Ớt Sriracha and some pickled chilies, and you have perfection.

Fish balls.

Fried pork skin.

Exactly like a hamburger!

Hamburgers just aren't exact science, that's all.


Please imagine the sound of a satisfied belch right now. Not that it would happen, as I do not belch audibly. More like one of those silent but deadly belches.
If there were such a thing.
There is.
You've probably seen those reptilian old geezers on park benches with the waistbands of their pants pulled up to their sternum, slumped legs apart, with grouchy expressions on their faces?
Thick-rimmed glasses and little Frank Sinatra hats?
You know the people I'm talking about, the ones you don't want either ahead of you or behind you on the freeway, especially not in the fast lane.
You've walked past them when they made those froggy sounds.

They ate Limburger popsicles for lunch.
Or tuna salad on rye.
Dead rat.

You don't want them ahead or behind you in life either.
It's those sneaky and too informative silent belches.
Lord knows, you wish you hadn't walked past.

Instead, what I do is discrete and bland.
An unnoticeable gentlemanly 'ribbit'.


BTW, when I say "grumpy middle-aged guy", as in the title of this post, it counts as poetic exaggeration. Please do not consider me bad-tempered OR too old for you to have a charming schoolgirl crush on. Think instead young but not quite that young, cheerful but not insanely so, and remarkably lean and springy especially when compared to almost all beer drinkers and sports fans.
Especially after they got married and moved out to the suburbs.
I'm actually quite decent and good natured.
Poetic exaggeration.

Think 'spry'.


AFTERWORD

My favourite alleyway for a post-prandial smoke in the Financial District, one and a half blocks east of Kearny Street and C'town, is still pleasantly quiet, however it was much colder today than I expected. The pipe filled with Old Gowrie was delicious, but I wished I had brought a sweater.

Or perhaps my voluminous dirty old man overcoat large enough to hide a second person in.

Both tobacco and cuddling are nicer in cold weather.
I would love to try them both at the same time.
Need to find a perverse companion.
Spicy noodle soup for two.
Chop stick battle.

Eructation.




TOBACCO INDEX


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Friday, October 19, 2012

PIPE SMOKING LADIES - FLAKE AND DARK TWIST

Yesterday evening I marvelled over the good fortune of a friend of mine, who has found a person with similar tastes, interests, and cigar-smoking habits. How wonderful to go through life together with so much in common!
She is one very lucky woman.
His and hers cigar cases.

She was enjoying a Partagas from Cuba while watching the game.
He had a maduro wrapper 'Presidente' while sitting beside her.
Even though the broadcast bored me, because I am completely deficient in any sports excitability whatsoever, I envied them.

As you may have noticed, there are very few pipe smoking women. At least not in the United States, where the vast majority of women with whom I am likely to come into contact happen to reside.

So the nearest I'll come to something approaching the happiness of the couple I mentioned is sitting on a hill one day on the leeward side of another person, smoking my pipe - probably a mild Virginia, so as not to bowl her over with sooty clouds of Latakia - while together we watch a dragonfly cruising past bisecting the view. Early on a summer evening, while the sky is still pink.
With quite a bit of luck she will not mind the slight reek of burning leaves, nay, she will actually enjoy sitting next to a badger-like coot with a pipe.
Who likes hearing her talk about politics, food, and literature.
The principles of democrats, and international relations.
Charsiu, bitter melon, noodle soup, and shellfish.
Jane Austen, Dickens, Yourcenar, Nabokov.
Mere hypothetical examples, of course.


Did I mention the dragonfly flitting past?
A reincarnated bureaucrat, released from human drudgery, briefly experiencing freedom and a splendid summer before being reposted as ...... a person who will grow up to be a bureaucrat.


Ideally, and this is the ulterior motive that I have in mind, I would corrupt her and lead her astray. Spoil her entirely, and bind her closer to me, as if it were an addiction that she could not and would not want to break.
A constant need, a fevered heartache, a fiery longing.
First a Virginia flake in a fine Comoy.
Then a bit of dark twist. In a bent Sasieni, very elegant.
Soon a sandblast of excellent grain definition, filled with aged Dunhill's London Mixture - I have numerous tins that have matured for years.
Why, I'll even crack open a canister of Balkan Sobranie purchased three decades ago. Together we will experience the perfumed Levantine haze, drifting in and out of Turkish dreams with sooty creosote. Evening fades to black, as we recline upon our hillside enthralled with magic fumes that have not been smelled since the eighties.
After which we will descend from Olympus, and find a restaurant that serves the juiciest charsiu, crisp fresh crunchy bittermelon with a hint of garlic and blackbean sauce, rice stick noodle soup redolent of cilantro and porky bits, and steamed oysters of surpassing tenderness, creamy and custard-like.

She will smile with happy delight, and the lights will reflect off the cutlery, her glasses, and the pearl necklace.

Enchanting.

Later we shall slowly stroll home through the now fog-veiled streets, deep in thought and comfortable in each other's presence. She with a dark mixture by Germain and Son in an old Charatan, I smoking Rattray's Old Gowrie or Brown Clunee, both manufactured by Kohlhase & Kopp from Germany, most likely in my favourite bent.
We will probably hold hands.
Very romantic.



I deliberately mentioned pearls, because I believe that all bright young ladies should wear pearls. It's exceptionally feminine.

The steamed oysters are essential at the restaurant I propose. There is something utterly delightful about cooked bivalves, and most normal women love seafood dishes.

Even though they would excite my gout, I shall not mention that.

Why spoil her happiness?



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Thursday, October 18, 2012

STOLI IN THE SUPPLY CABINET

There is no evidence.
This according to the Computer Department when I asked him about the vice-president’s behavior yesterday after several frappucinos. You weren't aware that Jack Daniels made frappucinos, neither was anyone else.
But the vice-president knew.
I do not know what he did once we left.
Jack Daniels – it’s what makes Starbucks and Hayward bearable.

At times over the past week both the Marketing Department and the IT Department were looking twixt worried and possessed.
As well as ‘extra creamy’.


One phrase that sticks in my mind is "don't drink the bong water". Apparently our creative types worry about the stuff that comes out of the faucets in the East Bay. There's stuff in it, judging by the bong water. Which probably explains their frappucino habits. After several of those bad boys you need something to bring you back down (Jack Daniels), and at all times maintain your liquid levels, because, baby, it's warm in Hayward. Please hydrate.
We're from San Francisco. We didn't know.
You cannot drink the bong water here.


As Dave Chappelle might say:
"It's Hayward, bitches, Hayward!"



I am the strong silent type, and I do not complain about the water. Perfectly messed-up hair is a fine line. Connectivity remains an issue.
The suggestion for today's catered lunch was Egg McMuffins for everyone. But they only make those till ten-thirty, consequently I don't know what we're having.
Not a clue. Maybe it's extra creamy.
It's Hayward, bitches, Hayward.
Might there be any Jack left?

You pay the toll.

Almost everything above is taken from or inspired by utterances originating in the Marketing and IT departments. They are city boys, and the move from San Francisco has affected them sorely.
I am in Finance, so I am sun-deprived, calm, and collected.
No need to augment my frappies, I drink tea.

I still do NOT know what's for lunch.
Marsh bird fricassee, tatar sauce.
The possibilities are endless.
It is, after all, Hayward.
The heart of the Bay.


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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

IT'S A BIRD, IT'S A PLANE, IT'S A MAN WITH CHUEN JOY CHU YI DIK CHIU LEUI!

I have to find someone who can tutor me in Cantonese. My pronunciation is awful.
I realized this when I asked what 番石榴 was in English. I had not seen anything quite like them.
It wasn't till the woman saw where I was pointing that she understood.
As usual, context made clear what my tonal errors hid.


番石榴, 英文叫乜耶呀?
FAN SEK LAU, YINGMAN KIU MAT YEH AH?


Apparently they are guavas (we confirmed this with another person, who knew the English word).
Which I should have realized, having been exposed to such things before. But there are fruits available in C'town now that previously were hard to find on these shores, such as rambutan (紅毛丹), longan (龍眼), and dragon fruit (火龍果). To name but a few. Including strange guavatic cultivars.

The point is that I should not always rely entirely on contextual luck.  Correct tones will improve comprehension immensely, and give me greater conversational range.

Most of my Cantonese exchanges involve bland politenesses and discussions of food. And in the latter case, the Chinese written word is usually right in front of us.
As it was in this instance.


What if, hypothetically speaking, I needed to discuss a German art film?

Without correct tones, my pronunciation of chuen joy chu-yi dik chiu-leui would inevitably be so far off as to leave my listeners baffled. Frankly, I do not relish the thought of explaining what that ('chuen joy chu-yi dik chiu-leui') is, given that I would have used the term purely with snarky intent, and then have them exclaim "嘩, 存在主義的焦慮, 即係 existential angst, mmm?"

存在主義的焦慮 is indeed 'existential angst'.
Chuen joy chu-yi dik chiu-leui.
You know, what Germans have.

With my pronunciation, I doubt that I will ever be able to use it.
Unless I get help.

Chuen joy chu-yi dik chiu-leui.

Even if there is never a need to discuss 'existential angst' in Chinese, I still need much more non-food related conversational practise.



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A DIET PLEASING TO SHORT BLACK INDIVIDUALS

On Monday I missed my bus, today I missed the crows.
It was very foggy by the Hayward station Monday morning, and strangely beautiful. Even the armpit of the East Bay looks halfway okay when shrouded in grey. While waiting for the next bus out to the office park in the boggy wilds, I noticed that the crows were stealthily taking over the area of the seagulls on the tops of the streetlights. As soon as a seagull took off, a crow landed. Others were “waiting in the wings” on nearby roofs.  Whenever a seagull flitted down toward the pavement, it would return to find even more of the empire forever lost.

If birds can radiate a hopefilled gangster attitude, these crows did so.
Corvids are cheeky, and have a sense of humour.
Seagulls have no sense of humour.


Happy cackling crows – that really irritates seagulls.


This morning there were no crows at the bus pads. Just the stupid seagulls.
It was already quite warm, so I think that the crows had taken shelter somewhere – black featheration absorbs the sun’s rays.

The birds were probably indoors, and quite conceivably hiding out in the abandoned hangars of the California Air National Guard complex on West Winton Avenue. No one will disturb them there.
They are flaked out, taking it easy, cackling over old copies of Play Corvid magazine, sipping tall cold glasses of ice tea.
With plenty of lemon. Especially the thick-peeled kind. It helps digest the carrion they consume in between worshipful gifts from the Pizza-obsessed gentleman in our office, who takes home the leftovers. His colleagues in the Marketing Department accuse him of feeding his kids stale pizza, but I know better. He rushes off with his prizes to share with his real family.
It explains a lot about him.
He’s got the type of personality that would make friends with the local crows.
They probably appreciate his company and his sense of humour.
As well as the lovely stale pizza he brings them.

There was still a lot of veggie pizza late on Monday afternoon, as well as several slices of pesto chicken.
By Tuesday morning there was none left.
Not even a crumb.


The local crows look happy.


Lemon rinds in your ice tea.
Soothes the stomach lining.
Keeps your feathers glossy.



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TRAUMA CENTRE

At five o’clock the Marketing Department turns on the rock’n roll.
Yesterday, as a nod to the swamprat, they instead played country western.

Full blast.


I can now honestly say that I have listened to Honky Tonk Badonkadonk .



This is not part of my program.


I do not know how to digest this.




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Monday, October 15, 2012

SIX WOMEN EQUALS TWO PIZZA

On the bus this morning a delicate young thing got up for me.
I guess that officially makes me “old”. Possibly even ‘frail’.
Having a teenage girl carrying heavy textbooks relinquishing her seat is rather embarrassing. Especially as I had let her and other persons of the female gender board first.
Before I could demur, she had scooted back to the front of the bus.
Fortunately another young woman got on at the next block, and I rose.

I’ve always been somewhat irritated at the failure of many men to yield their seats to women. It is good and proper to do so – vehicular traffic shouldn’t move an inch until every sheila is sitting down, boys – and age really isn’t the determinant.
Fifteen year old girl versus fifty three year old Dutch-American?
Miss, please sit.
I must insist.


Over the years I’ve become more flexible, however.
Not everybody has the same set of social rules in their head.

One cannot persuade a well-brought-up Cantonese teenager that she should remain seated, when all of her past experience screams that the fragile old dude deserves to recline. Even if said rickety fossil is actually full of piss and vinegar, and in the prime of health. Second adolescence, in fact. Never felt more boyish. That salt and pepper in my beard, and the tinges of grey on top, are all in your imagination.
Either that or a stylish and ironic Indira Gandhi-esque personal statement.
Rather like the tattoos young white people wear, but much better.
This blogger is the very picture of lithe vibrancy.
Not a single part of me creaks or aches.
I can stand, really, it’s okay.
Do not get up.


But.

Brick walls, unbendable convictions, and stubbornly immovable objects; whatever the outcome, one of the two individuals involved will end up with a disquieting and uncomfortable feeling that things just aren't right. 



Her rigid conditioning versus my rigid conditioning.

It is correct to yield to the fairer sex.

And by the way: I am not old.



AFTERWORD

The title of this post was what Pizza Man muttered as he left the building.
It is the most algebraic thing I’ve heard him say.
A sure sign of a flexible mind.
Or mere synapses.

Brain cheese


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Sunday, October 14, 2012

TEENAGE JAPANESE

Bless the Japanese, they are all perverts.  As their various illustrated stories (manga) prove abundantly.


Consider the most popular manga of all time: Ranma½.
[Author: Rumiko Takahashi (高橋 留美子).]

In short, a teenage boy transforms into a busty maiden when splashed with water, but still maintains his typical male sensibilities, being more interested in food and one-upping rivals than in any form of feminine activity, only using his ('her') charms to score snacks or to sabotage the straight men of the tale.  This is probably the funniest genderbending saga of the vast array of such which have been produced by Japanese artists.  Very nicely illustrated, too.
The target audience consists of four distinct market segments: teenage boys, who appreciate the curvy illustrations and sex-appeal of the characters; teenage girls, who are empowered by the violent and stubborn role models; mid-thirties salary men on the Tokyo subway heading home for the night, who dream of exciting females and their own fading youthfulness; and lastly, middle-aged women who wish to clobber the dunce-like men in their lives, drop-kicking the cretins through the roof.

His dad becomes a Panda when splashed with water.
He often uses this for escapism.
Pandas can't talk.


Another beautifully strange Manga is Midori Days, in which the heroine is transformed into the right hand of the tough schoolboy she adores.
[Written by Kazurou Inoue (井上 和郎).]

This story about  'boy's-hand-as-curvy-female' could be extremely twisted. Instead, it is very sweet. Never mind what you thought. Even the bathing scenes are innocent.
There is nothing lubricious in all eight volumes, due to the hero being in all ways utterly dense. The feminine touch gentles his savagery.
She finally returns to her normal body, and the two of them start dating.


KARIN:  "M-MOM? WHY ARE YOU DRAGGING DAD ACROSS THE LIVING ROOM BY HIS ANKLE?"
CALERA MARKER:  "BECAUSE YOUR FATHER'S AN IDIOT, SWEETIE."


Finally, consider Chibi Vampire, a story about a young teenage vampire (Karin Maaka) who is severely defective.  Not only can't she drink blood, but she walks around in daylight, does not even object to the smell of garlic, and is cripplingly shy.
She eventually falls in love with a classmate (Kenta Usui) who has creepy eyes and no guile whatsoever.
Yes, it's a romantic comedy.  Very heartwarming.
[Writer and illustrator: Yuna Kagesaki (影崎 由那).]


Two things stand out, namely nose bleeds and breasts.

When nosebleeds are shown in manga they indicate profound erotic excitement, such as when a boy sees the panties of the girl of his dreams and promptly faints, with blood coming out of his nose.
In Chibi Vampire, the heroine cannot take blood, but instead produces far too much of it; once a month it erupts from her nose in huge gushing torrents, splattering everywhere. After which, usually, she faints.
It's strangely beautiful.
Touching, even.

Concerning breasts, let me quote her ultra violent and insanely rambunctious grandmother, who wakes from her coffin in the basement one day and starts wreaking havoc. When she finally meets her granddaughter, she exclaims "Christ almighty, girl, where'd ya get a rack like that?!"
Karin looks exactly like the old lady, except in the chest department.
This causes some problems.........

"WHERE'D YA GET A RACK LIKE THAT?!"

To recap: nosebleed sexual symbolism, teenagers in love, panting women biting exposed necks, huge amounts of blushing and stuttering, goth imagery, riotous misbehaviour, blood everywhere, young ladies wearing school uniforms, guilty secrets, and cup sizes.

There isn't anything even remotely naughty about it.

It isn't till the very end of the second to the last book in the fourteen volume series that Karin and Kenta kiss.
They are happily married at the end of the story.
All ends well.

I've reread it several times.  The trials and tribulations of the two protagonists are both amusing and heartwarming, and there are parts that bring tears to my eyes.

The only mildly discordant element is the cleavage. 


Perverse people, those Japanese.

Delicious.




NOTE: Many manga take place in high schools, for the very simple reason that it's an easy way to bring a large number of characters into the tale, in situations which are recognizable to the audience: cultural festivals, school vacations, sports meets, and the many officially sanctioned clubs that are considered essential addenda to a balanced scholastic life (photography club, history club, astronomy club .....).
Consequently characters are often teenagers.
Most of the readers, however, are adults.



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