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.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

THE REMEMBERED LUNCH

The restaurant was half empty when she sat down, the mid-day rush had not yet begun. After carefully studying the menu, she chose a bowl of wonton noodle soup, and a side order of stir-fried mustard green stalks. Then, having dispensed with the essential preamble to lunch she drank a bit of tea and looked around with bright intelligent curiosity. She had never been here before.
That is to say, she came here once a very long time ago, when it was still a neighborhood standard. But when she started working downtown, she passed by one day and noted the decline. Like many old establishments, the spark of inspiration disappeared, and the owners coasted onward to a disinterested retirement.
Eventually it got sold, then gutted, remodelled, painted.....
An entirely new modern kitchen installed.
Hot-pot place on second floor.
For evenings only.

She had forgotten about the high ceiling. Many older buildings here had those high ceilings, as there was always a mezzanine loft above the business floor for storage, and often, living quarters. Her uncle's grocery store had had precisely the same thing. Back in the fifties he and his wife had lived there, but by the time her first cousin was born they had moved to a flat uphill, beyond Powell Street. As children she and her cousins had played above the store, sometimes disturbing boxes and releasing a cloud of dust over the racks on the ground floor. It always upset her auntie when that happened, and they'd be chased out into the street or forced to do their homework.

Two wide screens. One in the middle of the wall along the side, one above a front window. She presumed the one above the window had been placed there so that whoever was at the counter could follow the soap opera that was playing. It looked frightful. An elderly woman in period costume was weeping and flailing her arms, while a pie-faced maiden of thirtyfive-playing-sixteen stood by helplessly, looking theatrically anguished. And goobus-innocent to the point of slack-jaw.
She surmised that this was the smarmy good-girl daughter-in-law.
Far too pampered-looking to be the maid servant.
Not angry enough to be a daughter.


Her food came, and enthusiastically she dug in, yanking the yellow noodles fiercely up, skein dripping, to enjoy them while they were still al dente. Wonton noodle soup can also be served with rice-stick, if one has a calmer temperament. But tradition dictates thin fresh wheat noodles, added on top, barely cooked. Eat them fast! Con brio. It's sheer goodness!
While chewing she beckoned the waitress over and requested a dish with some extra oyster sauce. She loved oyster sauce. And she couldn't believe that it had not been invented several centuries ago.
Surely the combination of condensed savouriness and dense pourable darkness was ancient! It seemed like such an intuitive concept. Concentrate a wonderful flavour, and use it to intensify everything!

Dip the mustard green stalk, then bite and crunch. Another. Then dip one of the lovely dumplings. Lunch, away from the throng on Kearny Street near Bush, was something to be savoured. How much better if surrounded by an environment that represented home.
And eight lovely wontons! The broth, too, was excellent, but the dumplings were the star of the show. Fresh shrimp, barely chopped, bit of pork, handmade skins. Smooth, slick, sweet and juicy and savoury and textural at the same time. A hint of fragrance from the chopped garlic chives floating in the bowl. And perfect thin noodles to fill you up.
The plate of green stalks made it a balanced meal, the added oyster sauce satisfied the little girl within.

Without asking, the waitress refreshed her tea.

On screen, the dowager howled about ruination.

An old lady at the counter ordering food to go gave animated instruction on precisely how the fish should be cooked, and be sure to use ONLY fatty meat in the black mushroom duck combo - I very much like fatty!

Two tables over, a fat faced boy brat was objecting vociferously to his parents demand that he eat some more saang choi -- hate it, hate it, HATE it -- but the parents insisted.

At the table near the door, a painter in overalls lovingly absorbed a plate of fried porkchop and "Italian noodles", plus another cup of milk-tea, extra sweet please.

She dipped the last stalk in the oyster sauce.

Mmmmmmmmmm!

Heaven.


*      *      *      *      *

Personally, I'm not so much an oyster sauce kind of guy. Sure, I like it, but it's something which I'd put on fried eggs (along with a dash Tabasco). And who orders a plate of fried eggs at a cha-chanteng? On the other hand, I've had their salt and pepper fried spare ribs, and asked them to bring me Sriracha -- they've got several bottles in the glass-fronted refrigerator at the wait station.

But mustard green stalk IS very good. And all crunchy cooked vegetables taste better with mr. Lee Kum-Shueng's marvelous invention.
Actually, so does a good beefsteak.
They've go that too.



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

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

WHAT?!?

A conversation recently turned to a discussion of the other gender, as such things sometimes naturally do. We men are often fascinated by the gentler sex.
I had to confess that I did not have a huge amount of experience, as since becoming an adult I've only had two relationships, both of which endured for years.
So seeking my advice on the opposite number would be rather pointless.
Especially to a young man having women troubles.
As many young men seem to have.

I do not have women troubles, I haven't dated anyone in a long time.
An extremely long time.
Not that I haven't wanted to, but I haven't found anyone whom I like enough who isn't already involved in a relationship.

It is not that there aren't any lovely likeable women in San Francisco, it's a question of meeting someone whom one can trust as well. A wonderful relationship cannot be based on superficial socializing and opportune nooky.
It absolutely has to be deeper than that.

This strange inspiration of mine also explains the complete absence of any nooky whatsoever.

Unlike many youngsters, I'm just not that desperate.

Far too many "amorous" relationships devolve into sticky situations, coupled with anger, recrimination, and meanspiritedness. As well as viciously unpleasant quarrels, and possibly public embarrassment.
One can blame unbridled sexuality for that, as were it not for hormonal fits and moments of weakness, neither party would have made the decisions they did.

Now, you might think this is merely sour grapes on my part, given what I've mentioned about the lack of any naughty behaviour in my life. But I am no longer an idiot teenager, so the concept of jumping at any old chance for heavy petting just isn't part of the programme.
With maturity came a certain amount of common sense.
Call me a dried-up stick insect if you must.

Sex remains intriguing -- I am a man, after all, I cannot help it -- but the grand operatic disasters of other people's love lives that result in public scenes, tossed out possessions, and unbalanced behaviour, are sufficient object lesson that I shan't make any stupid moves myself, nor advise others to do so.
No matter how strongly either prospect tempts.
I don't like street-theatre that much.


Rather than relying on sudden flashes of sheer magnetism, which seems to be the most common coupling dynamic, my idea of what should lead-up to a possible relationship is a friendly encounter, followed by coffee (and a cookie!) somewhere, lunches or dinners together, visits to the library, more coffee (or tea) and cookies, exchanging books, and maybe spending time just walking. If, during the course of those events, growing friendship turns to love, splendid.

But the friendship has to be there first.
Without that, nothing else can, or should, happen.


A while back someone suggested that in order to meet women it would be a darn fine idea to join a church. An absurd and crazy proposal if ever there was one.
I am far too much a cynic to even consider that; if I cannot believe in a deity, or the ridiculous voodoo ceremonies of most creeds, how on earth could a decent relationship ensue from such a false start?
By the same token, joining a health-club is out of the question, likewise taking classes at the local college for that purpose.

"Hello ms. Smith, like you I also am fascinated by Sylvia Plath!"

I cannot imagine myself uttering that sentence without busting out in a fit of hysterical laughter. Unless it happened during a course in literary-psychology, and ms. Smith was of the opinion that Sylvia Plath was a sexually frustrated goth-neurotic, and vastly over-rated besides.
Well-nigh unreadable.

You can see that this is not likely to happen. And because I do not frantically search out new acquaintances, the scope for anything similar is limited.
A pity, but I cannot be anymore social than I already am, and given that I cannot stand team-sports, basket-weaving, handbag shopping, hip night clubs, drunken orgies, Sylvia Plath, or religious rituals coupled with lutefisk (church suppers!), and never go to parties OR poetry readings, the chance of this blogger ending up in a relationship is not that great.

If it happens, I shall be mighty pleased indeed.
If not, I shan't be surprised at all.

I've always got my books, my pipes, my enormous stockpile of pipe-tobacco, a number of good friends, my various odd interests, and my collection of shrunken heads.
And I live in a city filled with fascinating things.


"Hello ms. Smith, can I offer you some of my tobacco?"

"Do you ALSO have a collection of shrunken heads?"

"Care to discuss the Plathster over some coffee?"




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

I'M NOT WEARING THAT!

There are some things that without even checking, you ascribe to Nebraska. It's an imaginary mental Nebraska, not the actual real live physical Nebraska. Such as the presumed headquarters location of a certain mail-order catalogue that features fine articles of habiliment.

Clothing for white ladies.

There are two items shown that actually look halfway exciting. The white lady in one particular jacket has an expression on her face that says "I'm gonna shoot me a fox today", whereas the other coat just screams "it's an Irish Springs morning!"

Everything else is Princess Leia in civilian drag.

Hi! I am a sincerely happy white woman!
They should be paying me more for this crap.

My apartment mate stayed home because of her menstrual cramps. Which is something we men never do. So naturally I was somewhat stressed.

She was reading a mail-order catalogue filled with photos of bland ice-cream hued pastel clothing that only white people can wear. Nice dairy-head white Caucasians from someplace where the prairies come right up to your door-step, bunny rabbits and gophers gambol on your front lawn, and everybody goes to church, even when they don't have to, because they like lutefisk and bingo.
A gentle kind and pale place.
It's very whitish.

The only even mildly ethnic person in the catalogue is the intern from Hawaii. The clothing company probably kidnapped her relatives and is holding them hostage to force the poor girl to model these white lady rags.
"Is my grandma still in your cellar?"
Pale pale PALE pastels. Sweetly girly-girlish, in soft fabrics, with very simple styling.
The kind of clothing that makes you look boxy.

It's rather fascinating to experience the menses vicariously. The marked rise in body temperature as the body fights off a thickened uterine lining, the off-kilter emotional reactions, the brain made feverish and edgy by the body's hormonal imbalance.
The sheer creatively berserk re-interpretation of the intent of a seller of bland innocuous suburban clothing.......
I am staggered by the rushing torrent of inspiration.

But mostly by the concept of karmic Nebraska.

In case you were wondering, she found the catalogue at the laundromat. We live in a neighborhood populated mostly by Asians and young hip post-college professionals. But there is at least ONE white lady somewhere.
Either that, or a Chinese person with eccentric taste.


FULL DISCLOSURE

This blogger himself is white.
Many of my best friends are also made that way.
As are beloved relatives, associates, and folks who sell me things.

I've actually never been to Nebraska. I think it's somewhere in Kansas.
Dorothy country. I'm certain very fine people live there.

My apartment mate is the one with the non-white ideas.
She's a small bitchy Cantonese-American woman.

[No, we're not "involved", in case you were wondering.]

I used to keep careful track of my apartment mate's monthly cycles, so that these episodes would not spring on me unawares. Free-associative thinking, random mental connections, and physical discomfort causing stressful behaviour, plus periods of inventive madness. Abdominal pains spark chaos.
As I say, I used to. Forewarned is forearmed.
Keeping a calendar of Mayan precision.
So that I knew exactly when.

Now I just go with the flow



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

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A DIFFERENT PARADIGM FOR FRIENDSHIP

My apartment mate is quite the chatterbox. Not with me, but with her boyfriend. It's rather surprising, as she's a shy person and not given to easy socializing.
In person, she's best channeling for the various stuffed animals, which gives expression to character facets which she otherwise could never voice.

But she sounded cheerfully happy, and very animated, while on the telephone.

She spent two hours conversing with whatsisname the other night.
This flabbergasts me, as I am not much of a phone person.
For me it's weird. For her this isn't unusual, though.

My idea of intimate conversation is different.

Hypothetical example 1.
Sweetheart, would you like a cup of tea?
Oh yes, I would LOVE one.
Good.
...

After which exchange I would go into the kitchen and brew a pot. Perhaps Assam or Ceylon, maybe a refreshingly brisk dose of Oolong or Titgoonyam. Then bring both the cups and saucers back to the bed, where the other person reclines (fully clothed, AND under the covers, because it is winter), reading a volume about a subject in which I may have expressed polite interest, without offering any opinions and insights. Unless the other person specifically requests feedback, the subjects of study or interest are things that they themselves can best digest.
Even if it's a shared knowledge set.

Hypothetical example 2.
Darling, are you peckish?
Indeed, are you?
Yes.
So what do you want to eat?
I thought we could try that restaurant on Powell Street where you said they had ginger scallion frog.
Okay, when?
Now.
...

See, it's a simple conversation, yet positively loaded with content and sheer layers of implicit statements. For one thing, there's a coincidence of appetites, with gentle reassurance regarding same.
That by itself is VERY promising.
The next thing you notice is reference to a prior conversational exchange, showing that there is both deep mutual familiarity as well as fond recollection.
And thirdly, shared culinary curiosity, similarity, and taste.
There may be something symbolic about the frog.
I haven't thought too deeply about it yet.
We'll cross that bridge if & when.
Please don't ribbit at me.
Frogs taste good.


I don't think that I could possibly spend two hours on the phone with someone else, beloved or not; I never quite mastered the use of the telephone as a social device. Nothing replaces face to face exchanges and the intoxicating presence of another person. Whether socially or intimately.

With someone you love, cuddling, kissing, reading while side by side, and eating together seem utterly natural. Also drawing funny little cartoons for each other, as well as simply enjoying the reassurance and giddiness of the other's presence.
Spontaneous smiles, hand touching, playfulness.

The phone seems distinctly cold.


It almost goes without saying that I do not text, have never acquired a cell-phone, and experience my best interactions in person.

Or, remarkably, through e-mail.



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

Monday, January 28, 2013

EARLY VIDEO OF THE ENGLISH DEFENSE LEAGUE

I recently found what appears to be a very early video of the English Defense League (headed by Tommy Robinson) in action, which should absolutely be required viewing for anyone seriously interested in the future of Western Civilization.

Especially as that same civilization, precious to all of us, seems ever more under threat, and the infandous assault on everything we hold dear is unabaiting, constantly increasing in viciousness, and further and further divorced from any semblance of morality and ethics.

If you care for our society, if you worry about our present time, if you feel that we are besieged, watch this video!

It is both instructive, and cautionary.

The truth is out there.

...

THE EDL: GROWING PAINS


[Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=0bDY0DfEjmo.]


Pamela Geller, of the blog Atlas Shrugs, passionately defends Tommy Robinson, leader of the English Defense League, whose deranged ideology mirrors that of some of the worst tyrants of the twentieth century. An ideology that Pink Floyd references in the clip.


"We know who our masters are. We just want them to do their job."
------Tommy Robinson


It must be a generational thing.
Pink Floyd. My generation.


Disagreeing with Madame Geller is pointless.

Let's just agree with another blogger (LGF) that Pamela Geller is a swivel-eyed loon and leave it at that.

But do feel free, if you are so inclined, to opine that ms. Geller is ALSO an incoherent hate-filled rambling wackjob.
I cannot dispute it.



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

Sunday, January 27, 2013

BOEUF BOURGUIGNONNE

A conversation with a friend the other day became a fond memory upsurge of foods that I miss from the Netherlands and other old-world places. Not only the Dutch "unidentified fried object" (bamischijf, frikandel, kroket, en dergelijks), but also lovely dinners at the Maison Du Cygne in Brussels, the Tour in Paris, and far too many small eateries to mention.

What I also remember was the last time I went to Paris with my father.
It was, of course, a hunt for edible substances, because much of what was offered in the Netherlands in that day was barely three steps above English food. Excepting veal in aspic, in Limburg province. With cunning little rosettes of carrot scattered on top of the setting meat, then the whole encased in another layer of gel.
Mmmm, scrumptious!

Paris, even for Americans, offered a marvelous array of good things to stick in your mouth. Not only the fabulous selection of small dishes at that place run by the crazy Russian, but also La Cuisine d'Afrique du Nord, gastronomie de Sénégal, numerous bistrots et brasseries serving the regional specialities, and even fine Italian tratorie and osterie, as well as Greek food at sundry dives.

Although...

The less said about that ghastly Achaean dump in Mont Martre, the better.
Rice flavoured with must have been bad French imitation tomato Ketchup, alongside rubbery octopudes in their own ink. And completely inedible black olives that may have started life as canned peaches, perhaps in a prior decade.
Agonizingly wretched retsina.

Not even the drunkard rolling downhill afterwards could get my mind off that horrid Hellenic hash, or persuade the turbulent torrents in my splagchnos to subside. I was utterly convinced that the Greeks were the worst cooks in Christendom. As I still largely remain, despite excessive evidence to the contrary (much better Greek food, and far worse cooks from elsewhere).
Its a mental thing. I still cannot shake the memory of that miserable pulpo en su tinta from my mind. And I haven't drunk retsina since. I refuse.
Life is too short to drink lousy Attic plonk.

One the other hand, I have an indelible fondness for that estiatorio on Polk Street, where I often ate spanakopita late at night, after closing-up at the Indian place.

Mostly, however, I remember eating fabulously well in Paris for that week.
Then upon returning to Valkenswaard looking up almost everything in the Larousse Gastronomique , as well as browsing through all the yummy things that we could have had but didn't.
Next time, maybe.


A lifetime of eating has taught me to prepare foods that I like, or that can seldom be found in this neck of the woods. It's only common sense; you must examine how the good things are made, so that you can think about them intelligently, and discover fun relatives and variants.

I rarely cook these days. Most of my favourites are better done in doses for two or more people. Good food requires good company.
But one of the dishes which I haven't had in ages keeps well in the refrigerator, and I might actually do it sometime soon.


BOEUF BOURGUIGNONNE

Beef, small onions, mushrooms, and carrot, simmered in wine and stock.
More meat than onion, more onion than mushroom.
Significantly more mushroom than carrot.
The carrot is for colour, mostly.

Drizzle a little olive oil into a large heavy stewpot, and render the grease from a bit of chopped backfat or thickcut bacon. Remove this before it browns and set it aside. Add chunks of beef to the pot and gild these nicely, then remove and set aside also.
Use the grease left in the pot to sauté sliced carrot and onion to provide a fragrant base, pour off the excess grease, and re-add the beef and bacon, plus salt, pepper, and a dusting of flour.
Agitate and stir the ingredients over medium heat, making sure that they are distributed and coated evenly. Take care not to burn the flour. Add a little tomato paste, and inundate the meat with equal measures red wine and good meat stock. Add one or two bay leaves and garlic cloves. Raise barely to boiling, then turn heat low, place a pad between the burner and the pot, and simmer for a few hours.
Stir occasionally.

An hour or so before you intend to serve the dish, sauté small onions in a little oil till golden all over. Add some of the liquid from the stew pot and a bay leaf, and reduce down till very nearly dry. Reserve.

In a separate pan sauté thick-sliced mushrooms till barely done, reserve.

When the meat has become suitably tender, dump the small onions and thick-sliced mushrooms on top. If the stew is too moist at this stage, ladle most of the sauce into another pan and reduce this to a velvety consistence and re-add it to the stew pot.
Leave it simmering a few more minutes, then sprinkle it generously with freshly chopped parsley, and bring it to the dinner table.


Serve with either fries or noodles, and some crusty bread.
If you really want balance, a salad also.
But I often omit that.



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

Labels: ,

THE NECESSARY THINGS

It is never too early to think of dinner. And, if you're reading this on Sunday morning, the chances are that you did NOT wake up next to a hot studly fellow with a twinkle in his eye and a goofy sense of humour. You could have, if you had actually found such a person. Perhaps you've even picked out a pare of spare panties and a sweetly naughty brassiere for the eventuality. But both items are still wrapped in tissue in your dresser. One of these days, when the time is right, and you're feeling daring.
It WILL happen, but perhaps not now. It is winter.

You wonder.

Someone to hold onto would be nice. A warm comfy body, radiating a pleasing temperature. But wearing clean jammies and softly snoring. Not a man bounding with energy on such a cold day, but an individual who simply wants to doze for several more hours, obediently keeping the bed warm.
No cold toesies!
Someone very much like a large furry dog.
But with a better personality.
Who will fetch coffee.
For you in bed.

Unfortunately, that describes no one you know.

So you are resolved to have a splendid day despite the complete lack of a funny fuzzy source of comfy heat. You will be active, and explore the neighborhood. Have breakfast nearby, and perhaps a snack later, in mid-afternoon. Browse a bit at City Lights, see if they have a book you really want to buy. Something on travel, something you really NEED. A volume that will help you fantasize about an exotic vacation, Italy in summer, or the Southern Tyrol. Hotels with featherbeds, and warm chocolate in the morning.
And toasty rolls.
Jam.


You should also shop for food while it is still daylight, before the dusk turns cold again. Some crisp vegetables, and a nice fish. One slightly larger than necessary.
A firm-fleshed beast that holds up well, with a sweetness suited to a lazy feast.
A nice poached fish is better than any lover.



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

Saturday, January 26, 2013

YOUR UNCLE IS SEVERLY UNDERMEDICATED

Sweetheart, you do know that he was gibbering, don't you? No, he didn't disturb anyone on the bus, he wasn't a nuisance. But some of us noticed.

All the way across the hill from Grant Avenue he was talking. Intitially we though he was in a phone conversation, but then we noticed that there were no wires, and his eyes were fixated on an invisible person. Not a cell-phone. A lecture to his son (?) about buying dope in Oakland. Which, we think, was a figment of his imagination.

The vehicle was jam-packed, and predictably everyone tuned-out everyone else. But he was standing right next to me, and I can't do that so easily.
I'm always drinking in the stimuli and the details. It's a handicap.
No, no-one could possibly think that he was addressing me, because for one thing he wasn't looking in my direction. For another, he spoke in Cantonese. Very nice clear Cantonese, too. Eloquent. Just the right notes of kvetch, whine, indignation, and righteous older-person vituperation. With literate words.
The short country-side grandpa on the other side kept a wary corner eye on him all the way to Mason Street, then gratefully scooted into a vacant seat when I hissed sotto voce "ah sang, ney joh ney joh".
It got him out of the broad field of vision of Mr. Dramatic Upsetness.

When I got off at Polk Street, Angry Uncle was still in full flow. His son must be a truly horrible person to ire him so. A real terror, what with his "suck big hemp" and all. Probably going to marry some trashy white chick, too. One who has no clue about the proper relationships, just like her useless husband-to-be.


The truly great thing about being a white man in Chinatown is that I am virtually unrecognizable. Consequently, while I can keenly observe the unbalanced people, my face just doesn't register. Unless, of course, they too are white. Like many people in San Francisco I am adept at not catching some one's eye, but with Chinese loonies I do not need to be quite so careful.
Even normal Caucasians tend toward invisibility.
How much more so those who aren't.

Chinatown Cantonese are somewhat under-serviced by the mental health profession. Partly it's extreme personal resistance to seeking help -- I'm NOT crazy, who said so, it was my MOTHER, wasn't it?!?! -- and partly it's hesitation about calling in the bat-squad on someone older, like a senior relative who is deserving of respect.

There are a number of individuals roaming the street during the day who imagine themselves other than who and what they are. They vocalize for that role, and channel the character that they think themselves to be.
At night they head home to families who know that auntie is screamingly bonkers -- who else would dress in resplendent robes like the Bodhisattva Kuan Yin -- but who tolerate her "eccentricities", as long as she doesn't try to help her cousins with their homework. Or go out into the yard and howl at the moon.
And auntie obeys. Her many years of cultural conditioning remains strong enough that she just cannot bring herself to upset the apple-cart that far. She'll play along with these mere mortals, in hopes that eventually they will see the light.

Some of the insane are remarkably well-educated. Their knowledge sets are profound, but in no way prepared them to be fully competitive in a society which functions in a language that is hard to master.

"I would like attack-hamsters! Bands of furry enforcers roaming about with numchucks and tasers!"

Sorry, that was an interruption from somebody who is actually very sane.
Totally beside the point. But, somehow, indicative.

我需要強大的倉鼠幫派,漫遊全國,反犯罪者與用雙節棍,泰瑟槍!

Ngoh suiyiu keungtaai dik chong-syu pongpaai, manyau chuen-kwok;
faan faancheuiche yü yong sheung-jit gwan, taai-sat cheung!

This is San Francisco. We do not impose medical care on those who are grounded in alternative realities.
The onus is on them to actively seek help, which is available.
But someone needs to persuade them to do so first.
And there's a language barrier in between.



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

Labels:

Friday, January 25, 2013

NAVIGATOR

Some things are ethereal, yet in combination with other elements leave a lasting impression. Without fully realizing how it happened, the mind is permanently marked, and what had been cannot be called back.
Progress has been made, developments have taken place, things have become different.

I'll probably always associate Greg Pease's most recent product with smiling women, being whacked to the gills, and marked improvements in the weather.

As well as a sudden surge-remembrance of old friends long out of touch, whom I last saw in a small town in the Netherlands.

But perhaps mostly with Chinatown.

Not, however, with rum.


NAVIGATOR
Old London Series

Tin blurb: For centuries, men of the sea have known the pleasures of fine Virginia tobaccos, pressed and aged with a drop of rum. The addition of rich dark-fired Kentucky leaf brings a new dimension to the flavour and aroma of this timeless combination. Chart your course for a new world of enjoyment, light a bowl, and set sail with Navigator.
-----G. L. Pease.


It's an easy smoke. Perhaps a bit generous on the nicotine, which may leave one lightheaded, but soft and smooth on the palate. It consists mainly of a gentle Red Virginia, with a touch of bright and other flue-cured leaves, given an intriguing nose with a light touch of fire-cured Kentucky. The rum facilitates the melding of the leaves, but it is barely noticeable in the tin, even less so after rubbing out, and almost entirely absent in the smoke.

Especially once you're near the end of the tin.

This tobacco is not strictly a powerhouse, but too much might leave you somewhat nicotine crazed. After one bowl, you will not want to wait to light up again.
Slightly sweet, and soothing in a not-quite-red-flake kind of way.
It works best in a generous size.


VALKENSWAARD

The hint of Kentucky, combined with the red Virginia fragrances, reminded me of Herman Ritter, Peer van de Palen, and Tom Bouten, who lived together in a cottage on the Kromstraat in Valkenswaard. Three bachelor music-afficionadoes who made and repaired instruments. Watching Herman Ritter gently heating up rabbit's hide glue and steaming a sheet of wood, then carefully applying an even ribbon of paste ere pressing the wood in place, was always fascinating. Effortlessly, as if it were part of the process, he would tamp down the tobacco in his pipe in between his several other hand movements.
The red Virginia reminds me particularly of him. That hint of Kentucky calls Tom Bouten and Peer van de Palen to mind; smokers of dark Dutch shag, the spicy reek of which permeated the house as much as Herman's paler pipe tobacco.
Though not at the same times.


TONG YAN FAU

I've smoked this every day since I got it, often while strolling around Chinatown. The weather is nicer than it was at the beginning of the month, and while the aroma truly benefits from a crisp chill, the smoker himself is happier this way.
More folks are about. Perfect people watching conditions.

Two pipe-fulls on Jackson near Powell, during mid-afternoon. An elderly gentleman pushing his wife up the hill, slowly and painfully. Once past the entrance to Adele Court, she got up and together they inched further afoot. It was obvious that she did not want to be such a frightful burden, equally obvious that he did not mind at all. He was mighty pleased to be with her.
There was a gentleness to their faces.
Especially the eyes.

Teenagers leaving the bubble-tea place on the corner scattered down the block, twittering like birds. One said "oh, pipe" when he saw me.

A little tyke going food-shopping with her mom stared in goggle-eyed fascination, swivelling her head almost like Linda Blair in the Exorcist in her attempt to keep the apparition (me) in view from the top of the block to past M. P. Seafood Market (銘發海鮮 Min Fat Hoi-Sin) at the corner of Trenton Street.

The day was more golden because of the tobacco. Possibly the spiced fragrance worked upon the subconscious, likely the various stimuli sparked the mind.
Marvelous.

Do I remember the waitress with the warm smile?
Of course I do. Her charm was more noticeable with a jolt of nicotine, the flavour of the tobacco made more sweet because of the memory.

No, still not going to pursue that woman. She is far too young, and I'm smoking a tobacco that suits a mature man. But inextricably her complexion and this fine leaf intertwine in my mind's eye.
Definitely a maiden for Virginias.

Hardly any coffee this week. Instead I've been swilling extra-strong Oolong as if there's no tomorrow. I'm more attuned to certain smells after a few bowls of this tobacco. It's a strange interplay I cannot explain.


I'm whacked, but not tweaky.


Down to only four tins.
Need to order more.



TOBACCO INDEX


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

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, January 24, 2013

CAUTIONARY NOTES

There are several things I have learned over the years not to do. Things which other people might never even consider doing, but in some ways I am still the same person I was when I was a little boy acting unwisely.
As irresponsible idiot juveniles are wont to be.

One of those things I learned this very morning.
At my age I should've already known.
It's a steep learning curve.


DO NOT PUT ON YOUR UNDERWEAR WHILE SMOKING A PIPE!

Boxer shorts, no problem. Nothing can go very wrong there. Reason being the direction from which they slide onto the middle-aged body. Intuitively most men and some women know how it's going to go, the progression is fairly predictable.
Wife beater ('A' shirt), other story.

The pipe juts out at an angle.

You can see what the issue may be.
Especially if the smoker is still a wee bit unawake.


In consequence of which I now have a truly vicious cinder-burn on the second left toe -- the one right next door to the gouty big one -- precisely above the flexor digitorum brevis, and soot marks on what was otherwise a sparkling clean wife beater ('A' shirt).

The burn is near a mosquito bite which I want to scratch.
I am presently 'frustrated'.

Fortunately I managed to save the bowl, and it was still lit when I picked it up from under the bed, where it had rolled. A perfectly smoking load of Wessex Red Virginia Flake, incredibly delicious.
I knew you were worried.

A short while ago there was a handsome middle-aged badger wandering around the apartment with a pipe in snout, wearing a wife beater ('A' shirt), zesty boxer shorts with a pleasing plaid pattern, and slacks. Plus socks and shoes, in case there were still some hot ashes near the bed.

Limping. Not wandering. Can't wander with a limp.
Uttering foulness in a foreign tongue.
I hardly ever mutter curses.
Clothes! Hmmph!

*      *      *

Years ago I learned not to smoke a pipe while shaving. At the time I figured that as only the area around the beard would be soapy, not the whiskers themselves, it was a brilliant idea. Two birds with one stone. Shaving foam wouldn't touch the pipe (it didn't). And I took great care not to jostle the briar while scraping off the bristles.
Didn't even cut myself.
Good job.

Everything went smoothly.

Then I splashed on aftershave.

Bit through the stem in one sudden clench.

Pipe into a sink of soapy water and shaving muck.

But only after bouncing on the rim of the sink, and popping a wad of burning tobacco into my crotch. I cannot remember what I was smoking at the time.

My apartment mate asked what on earth was happening, as she had heard the yowling and the screams.

When someone asks you from the other side of the bath room door whether 'everything is allright in there', the answer is ALWAYS "yes". Yes, nothing is going on.
Please go away.
Everything is fine, really. This is what is supposed to happen in here.



There are several other "multi-tasks" which any amount of common sense should tell you not to attempt, which we need not go into.



See, young lady, that's why you need to have me as your boy friend.
Hours of entertainment watching me do stupid things.




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

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

MORE ABOUT THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES

After a repast consisting of a steamed chicken bun and cheung fan, I pulled out a pipe and some of Greg Pease's latest (Navigator) and was packing the bowl in anticipation of a long dawdling amble down Stockton Street.
Still had coffee left, so it would be a few more minutes.

An elderly woman at the counter had ordered a bowl of noodles with meat chunks on top, and when it came, enthusiastically set about dolling it up with ground white pepper, hot sauce, and hoisin jeung. Bear in mind that this particular place until recently did not have Sriracha ("cock sauce") in the plastic squeeze bottle, but simply had jars of sambal oelek on their condiment trays.
The hoisin was also an innovation.

[Cock-sauce: the affectionate nickname for SriRacha hotsauce manufactured by Huy Fong Foods Corporation (滙豐食品公司) in Rosemead, Southern California.]

Now they probably go through crate after crate of Sriracha; they may have to raise their prices slightly to cover the expense.
But it's probably pleased any number of repeat patrons. All over Chinatown, Mr. Tran's bottle is capturing hearts and minds. At present you see it in cha chanteng, regular restaurants, snack food places, and even dim sum houses.
The sauce is quite addictive.


OH!

Judging by the humongous amount the woman was sploodging on her noodles, she was a hard-core chili junkie. Remarkable for a Chinatown lady of her generation, but it may explain why she was eating by herself. Oh, the secret shameful passion, oh the orgiastic overload! Oh the sheer intemperance of her actions!
Lady, you're older than me! You should be calmer and more restrained!
Not given to such outrageously over-the-top indulgence.
It's shocking, is what it is! Think of the children!
Oh and by the way - enjoy your meal.
I used as much on my bun.
Good stuff, eh?

I may have mentioned in the past that I like watching women eat. Particularly if they're Cantonese, because unlike White women, who always have that air of "I'm gonna get fat! if I eat something nice" usually coupled with perfectly Wasp tastes, Cantonese women want to have fun with their food. Oh boy Jesus yes.
They may have yielded the best morsels to their brothers and elders while growing up, and if they have husbands, boyfriends, or lovers, the pattern still holds.
But when they're noshing by themselves there is absolutely no filter.
Mine, dammit, and I'm going to enjoy every frickin bite!

One imagines a happy forest creature dancing with chopsticks held aloft around a steaming bowl of meaty goodness. Yay! Yay! Yay!

Someday I will have to ask an office lady in the financial district whether she truly likes that bowl of limp lettuce with flavourless overcooked shredded chicken breast and a drizzle of low-fat raspberry balsamic hooha, or if it's merely filler for an empty spot in her stomach and her soul.
Sweetheart, if you REALLY want salad, have something made with mayonnaise, chunks of smoked pork, garlic, and anchovies. And warm potatoes. Don't worry about what your breath smells like, you're going back to the office, and I hope you ain't planning to kiss anyone till evening. Not while you're at work.
Take a cigar and a cup of espresso too, while you're at it.
Enjoy life. Instead of stressing with the lettuce.

Nah, I cannot see a suburbanite dancing with chopsticks. They're mostly dried-up inside anyway, no gusto for life, and certainly none for food.

But auntie over there, however...........

If she were not nearly so antique, I would've asked her out on a date.

If only to observe while she tackled another bowl of noodles.

In any case, I ordered a second cup of coffee.


Anybody who can look at food with an expression that says she's truly glad to see it, hello old friend how splendid to find you again, has a face worth watching.


It's something very Cantonese.

Other typical facial expressions that appeal are bemusement, the look of happy flabbergastion when unexpectedly discovering something nice, gleeful alertness at witnessing another person making a scene -- Ooh boy! Free entertainment! -- and sometimes, hurt vulnerability, such as hid in the faces of Cherie Chung (鍾楚紅) and Leslie Cheung (張國榮) in many of their most memorable film moments.
I've seen that last on other faces. It's wrenching.
Always subconscious, never deliberate.
A wounded quality laid bare.
Très séduisante.


Spent a pleasant hour after lunch wandering around C'town with my pipe, people watching. Finished up at Naam Hoi Sam Yung Hang (南海参茸行), where I bought some loose leaf tea: 特級烏龍野山黄金菊 (top quality oolong and wild golden chrysanthemum). Didn't get the hairy crab king this time.

[南海参茸行: 南海集團参茸行有限公司 NAM HAI CORPORATION, 919 Grant Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94108. PH: 415-397-3678. Herbal preparations, patent remedies, and tea.]

Nam Hai has been around far, far longer than all those cutesy-poo tea boutiques where the tourists are given a superficial lesson in Chinese culture, along with sips of overpriced lower-grade muck, and the opportunity to acquire a rather poor quality tea-set: small purple clay pot and four teenie cups. Plus teas to match.
All oh so unique.

There did not used to be so many of those shops. Now there are over a dozen of them, all selling the same merchandise. Stuff that only dumb people would buy.
A selection of strangely flavoured fruity teas and truly mediocre leaves.
Smile, nod, bow, thank you very much please come again!

Real people drink real tea.
And put chili sauce on their food.
What's the point of living without zest?

I think it's time to baptise my newest small teapot.
Bought it a while back. I have a modest collection of such.
It is pointless owning teapots unless you are going to use them.



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

Labels: , ,

SYMPATHY OF SORTS FOR THE SUBURBS

Mark in Pleasanton informs me that for several days earlier this month, the outside temperature at dawn has been twenty-eight degrees. It could have been somewhere else, I'm not entirely sure where he and his spouse live.

TWENTY EIGHT DEGREES!

He mentioned this after another person suggested I should take the opportunity to visit Holland again, now that I have a bit of time. I explained that they're having the opposite of a heat-wave in the Netherlands right now, and I dislike cold-weather intensely. Which is why I live in California.
Unfortunately, I live in the wrong part of California.
San Francisco approximates the Arctic.
With howling wolves.

Still. Twenty eight degrees. That's bitter. About the only thing you want to do when you pad downstairs in your fuzzy bathrobe and fluffy pink rabbit slippers is turn on the coffee, open the back door to let in the foxes and raccoons that are patiently waiting out there, tell them to raid the cat's supper dish and keep quiet while doing so, then shut the door again.

The cat has some weird friends. I swear one of them visited the chicken coop. No, not for food. For warmth. Nothing says winter comfort better than the sweaty press of hot-blooded panicky birds. A moving featherbed.
Pity it smells so bad.

Rolling in the snow at dawn gets most of the frowst off, but still.
Once you've done that you are chilled once more.

Dammit, when IS grumpus gonna open the kitchen door?
I'm freezing out here!


Later on you go into the living room to plonk at the computer, where you discover that the raccoons and foxes are now curled up on the couch, sleeping off their hangovers. They drool and mutter while they doze.
It's like a having a bunch of college kids over.
Live and lithe, with bushy tails.
And bad breath.

Maybe I shouldn't have put the Dominoes pizza in the cat dish. Nothing is worse than carnivore with stale anchovy coming out of its mouth.
Time to light up a pipe and chase those fishy blues away.
Yeah, a strong English blend. Germain & Son.
Latakia, Turkish, Virginia.
That good.

Dang, twenty eight degrees?!?

I'm staying in San Francisco.

Despite everyone with vile non-smoker breath, gibbering flocks of do-gooders, sincere intellectuals, undiscovered artists, and the feral vegans.

This pipe smoker ain't crazy.



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

Labels:

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

MEN WHO SMELL OF CAKE, AND OTHER THINGS

It happened on Kearny near Sutter. Now I know why I seldom go down to that part of town. It's a very strange neck of the woods.

I had been looking around for a shop that is no longer there, when I smelled cake. Nice fresh cake, with a slightly odd undertone of savage musk. When I looked around there were no cake shops nearby. Momentarily the smell got stronger, then faded again. At that point I realized that it had been a middle-aged gentleman (older than me) who had just passed, and I also understood that it was his aftershave. Some older people are less acute in the nose department, and just don't smell themselves really well. Consequently they splash on what others merely sprinkle.
This post is not about sprinkling those past early youth.
Such as men with non-functioning olfactories.
It is about what men shouldn't do.
As well as fragrances.

The smells of a fine cake, alongside a small cup of coffee or tea, is one of the most intensely private of sensations. Fresh moist sponge, perfect fruit, and a subtle drop of vanilla, added to the faint faint nose-whisper of rich whipped cream........ And a toasty hue of coffee in the air, or wine-like black tea.
An aromatic recall of summers past, sunlight, and dense green beyond the curtains. Or a fond memory of early spring rain, darkness during daylight, and a warm room.
Perfect, indeed, entirely by oneself. But cake is made in measures far too large for just one person, so inevitably there is also an association with others, who might not be present when that most delicious slice is guiltily enjoyed alone.
Cake is the distilled epitome of sharing.


I can imagine several personal fragrances I would much rather have on a middle-aged man. Cake must obviously fade into the bottom rung of choices. Perhaps a whiff of pine-tar, or a shadow of gasoline and brake oil. Rope, leather, and saddle grease -- although that is more of a Castro Street affectation, I think.
An suggestion of dark Dutch shag tobacco, for a bright young teenager.
Or tweeds with an underlay of fields, and heather in bloom.
Tannins from oak leaves in Autumn.


Several years ago there was a men's cologne with a very pronounced pong of vanilla. Yes, other essences too, as the overall effect was meant to suggest a tropical island, albeit one with carnivorous wildlife. Altogether a bit much. But it went through a phase, and every day you'd get on the elevator and someone was wearing it. You could tell when their own awareness of it's effect weakened, as over a period of weeks the smell got stronger and stronger.
At times it was so horrendous that you wished that someone would get in after eating onions. Or maybe salami, real Italian or Hungarian cured meat, with a juicy reek of garlic. No, tuna fish. My kingdom for some tuna fish!
A basket of orchard peaches, bruised and oozing!


Or even, in a pinch, cake.

As perfumes go, cake isn't so bad.

Men should not smell of cake, however.

Maybe persons of the female gender should.

But rather than wearing cake, it ought to be shared.

Over cups of crema-capped espresso or kermesite-hued tea.




I spent the next few hours thinking of cake. But I did not go search for it, as even one slice is a bit much for an adult. Cake, almost more than anything else, is the province of the young.
People with quick digestions, high metabolisms, tons of rambunctious energy, and above all, extraordinary tolerances for sugar.

Once you're past twenty you quiet down a bit.
Cake comes only on special occasions.
That, too, is a pleasure.



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

Monday, January 21, 2013

MY WIFE DIDN'T GAG!

On several different fora where pipe-smokers hang out a certain pattern becomes apparent after a while.  At first you don't even notice it -- especially if you're cruising in for a good read about smelly burning dead poisonous leaves -- but gradually, almost subtly, it sneaks up on you.

Certain remarks. Snide, perhaps, and sneering too.
But all in all extraordinarily touching.

Remarks such as the following:

"She promised not to throw me out, as long as I never smoke that blend in the bed-room again."

"My wife turned green and left the kitchen."

"She wanted new curtains, this was the perfect excuse."

"Guaranteed spouse repellent."

"A great smoke for late at night. Unless you're married. Which I am."


Good lord, I am flabbergasted. These men have wives! Who'dda thunk it?

It turns out that everywhere EXCEPT the great state of California, pipe smokers get hitched. They aren't considered vile anti-social sadists who want nothing better than to enslave little children and Vegans, and ruin, positively RUIN, their innocent little asthmatic lungs. Instead, they're regarded as all-round decent fellows, with a plenitude of wit, gallantry, gentlemanliness, and intellect.

Heck, judging from much of the writing, there is considerable mutual affection; some comments indicate that the spousal unit reacted quite favourably.

Even the pets liked certain tobacco blends.

And the children.


Pipe smokers may actually be better life-partners than Vegans.
And far more interesting conversationalists, too.
As well as pleasingly fragrant.
Remember that.



TOBACCO INDEX


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

Sunday, January 20, 2013

WE LIKE STINKY MAN!

It is disturbing that little children and small animals like me.  Not that I particularly mind, please understand, as innocent affection is always a warm thing to receive. But both of those types of creature do not have filters, and will therefore express their happiness at my attention without restraint.

NIGHTTIME

The other evening I was noticed by a little dog. His owner said "he LIKES you, normally he never does that". The 'that' being spontaneously jumping up on my lap to be petted. The dog, according to his human, was shy around strangers, and skittish. Reserved, she called it.
It was a very friendly quiet creature, and wanted nothing more than to be stroked while it alertly kept everyone else in sight. I may have been a lucky port in a storm, but he was very glad he had found me. Both a good perch, and a hospitable environment. One which petted well.

Sometimes, when you're smoking a pipe, you need two hands. Fiddling with the briar requires it. When you have a small furry person on your lap, who is clearly enjoying a regular skritchy stroke around the shoulders as well as a long full-handed smoothing of the fur down the back, it may be hard to give your smoking equipment the full attention it deserves. Your mind is torn between the needs of the animal -- mmm, strokes -- and the smouldering leaf threatening to go out if not tamped.

Rocky stayed on my lap for nearly forty minutes. He was reserved, but I find it hard to call him shy. A very nice animal, peaceable and with a warm personality. The pipe had gone out half an hour before he had to leave. The tobacco was, I think, the one thing that kept him from kissing me on the chin.

DAYTIME

I sat down at the only space left at the counter, inspected the menu, and told the waitress what I wanted. The little blonde girl sitting next to me with her mom looked astounded at what came out of my mouth. And asked me "what did you say?". Errm, that was 'yuen choi gai kau fan, m-koi. "What's that?" It's chicken and small vegetables over rice, like what it says here: Chinese vegetable and chicken rice plate. She then wanted to know how I knew how to say it differently.
Well, because that's what these markings say.
Oh.

"What's THAT one?" Oh, that's 'gai' (雞), it means chicken.
"And that one?" Si-choi (時菜), seasonable vegetable - it means fresh small cabbages, very sweet.
"Mm, sweet."
Pause.
"Why do they write it like that?" Well, to them it makes more sense because of how their language works than to write our word 'chicken'. To demonstrate, I wrote both 'chicken' and 雞 on the paper napkin. She gravely informed me that it didn't look at all like a fowl, but added, "and so doesn't 'chicken'".
Then her food came, and her mom told her to stop bothering 'that man' and eat.
She observed me out of the corner of her eye.
While I waited for my food, I loaded up a pipe in anticipation of my post-lunch smoke. She was fascinated by this action, but kept eating. Finally she couldn't hold it in any longer, asking "what IS that?" It's a pipe, sweetheart, I use it to smoke tobacco. And this is very nice tobacco, smells a bit like dry fruit, but with a hint of grassy sweetness.
Her mom looked upset and hissed at me "we're teaching her that tobacco is BAD!"
Oh. Sorry.
The kid kept looking over in my direction while finishing what she could.
Her mom meanwhile made sure that she knew tobacco smelled horrid!
Which, if the kid had never noticed, was useless information. Especially because my tobacco smells good. Real good. I winked at the kid. She grinned.

"Mom, I'm done!"
"Okay."

"Why did my mom tell you that tobacco is bad?"
Because it is, sweetheart, very bad.
"Why do you smoke then?"
Well, sometimes people like doing bad things. Kinda like the Cookie Monster, who refuses to eat healthy food and scarfs down all the cookies he can find.
"But cookies are GOOD for him!"
Oh yeah, how do you figure?
"Because he's the cookie monster! He EATS cookies! He wouldn't be called the cookie monster otherwise!"
Okay, that makes sense. But I like pipe tobacco, not cookies. So what does that make me?

"STINKY MAN!"

"Mabel!" Before her mother could say another remonstrative word, I smiled and assured her that it was okay, the child had great powers of observation, it's perfectly all right. Honest!
The mom subsided.
The kid just beamed. Obviously the term "Stinky Man" was a happy inspiration. And accurate too.

When I paid and left, I could hear her telling her mom "I love Stinky Man!"


Stinky Man loves you too, sweetheart.



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

Labels:

PROFOUND LIFE EVENTS

One of my friends is seriously considering changing his name. This is an important decision, not to be taken lightly. A name, after all, is the handle by which other people remember your personality. Say the words, and the face and mannerisms come to mind.

A very serious decision.

If I were to change my name from 'Bogorodicza Guadalupeskaya', for example, to 'Bingo-Jesus Dingleberry', my friends might well expect something momentous. Surely, they would think, he will grow into that name? And does it reflect the man we already know as well as his previous nomen?
I would have to explain that Bingo-Jesus Dingleberry is much, MUCH easier to remember and pronounce than Bogorodicza Guadalupeskaya, and furthermore matched my conversion from an antiquated branch of Christianity to Native-American religion.

Reborn Man Runs With Dingleberries!

It's very spiritual. I've got a tattoo which says so.


Unfortunately, my friend is thinking of changing his appellation to 'Spike'. Spike Ratchette. Something having to do with his Harley, not sure what.
I cannot see him as 'Spike'. I was thinking more along the lines of Shep Dawg. Or Leonard ('Lenny') Baldy-Whack. The first indicating his physique and personal habits, the second reflective of both gravitas and a profound lack of top-hair.
His choice, however, screams 'middle-age crisis'.
Not something I have much respect for.
Just glue on a ponytail, dude.



His plan is on hold for the time-being. I've managed to convince him that in the interim, while he thinks this thing through, he should get himself some worry beads and a bottle of Bourbon. By acquiring those two things he can cover the span between his refound spirituality and his missing machismo.

When the time comes, I'll happily advise him again.
Regarding his change of name and image.
And how his kids will react.
With hysterical hooting.
And snide comments.


If they need ideas, I will be happy to oblige.


Spike Ratchette. Good lord.


Prickles Dill-Wad


Dingo.



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

Saturday, January 19, 2013

A FEW WORDS IN PRAISE OF CANTONESE

Sometimes change is disturbing, and altogether horrible. Such as the gradual shift in Chinatown from all Cantonese-speaking to a fair amount of Mandarin. Not only as regards communicating with Chinese from the less interesting parts of China, but also businesses owned by folks from the north.

The other day I went for a nibble at one of my favourite inexpensive snacketarias, only to discover that they now have a Fresh-Off-the-Boat cousin from Toishan (臺山) working the counter. A person of otherwise unassailable character, save that unfortunately she speaks Mandarin better than Cantonese.
Yes, that does make her close to tri-lingual.
Toishanese as a first and fluent tongue.
Mandarin for nearly everyone else.
Cantonese badly, last resort.

I do not particularly like Mandarin. Partly because I speak it very poorly, hardly even at all, and I'm not likely to improve significantly. But mostly because it sounds like mush-mouthed snobs barfing-up hairballs. Even the very best Peking diction does not have the sheer oomph and glory of Hong Kong or Guangzhou Cantonese.
I am by no means fluent in Cantonese, but far more likely to have a conversation and catch the drift of other people talking than with Mandarin.
Mandarin just lacks the right attitude.


Cantonese (粵語, 廣東話) is a beautiful language, possessed of style, guts, a rich and colourful vocabulary, and a history that goes back to the T'ang Dynasty (唐朝 618 - 907 C.E.). Whereas Mandarin (國語) is a harsh-sounding descendant of the speech of shepherds and hinterland bumpkins stuck in North China after the fall of Sung (宋朝 960 - 1279 C.E.) to the barbarians (東胡民族).
Mandarin, in fact, would now not even be spoken if the Manchus (滿族) -- who were ab initio a completely foreign bunch of savages -- had not decided that to prevent any other interlopers from conquering what they had so recently taken by violence and rapine, they would shift the centre of power to Peking (北京).
And, being altogether primitive, they wouldn't bother with finer speech forms, but would gibber in pidjin Pekingese (狂吠話) if they had to communicate at all.

It isn't that long ago that the post-Manchu revolutionaries decided with regret that Mandarin should become the national tongue, because most peasants north of the passes (嶺北) couldn't possibly pronounce Cantonese correctly.
Just too difficult (太難) for the herd.

Until the nineties, Mandarin barely even had a vocabulary to cuss in.

So hearing THAT language spoken by people who don't even have the courtesy to learn Cantonese is particularly unpleasant. Mandarin is the domain of pompous party hacks, pronunciamentoes, and politely obedient official poofle, on both sides of the straights. Not of riotous, often eloquent, and sometimes ribald, outbursts.
But please note that Cantonese people ARE capable of learning Mandarin, and WILL use it to transact business with those folks.
If that doesn't show considerable superiority, I don't know what.



AFTER THOUGHT

It is ironic that Hong Kong movies (香港電影) are watched by Mandarin speakers with considerably greater pleasure than the didactic garbage produced either in the mainland (大陸或中華人民共和國) or on Taiwan (臺灣或中華民國).
If it weren't for Cantonese drive, creativity, and enthusiasm, the Chinese movie industry as such might not even exist, and they'd have to watch baffling song-and-dance dramas produced in Bombay (孟買城).
Hardly an attractive prospect.

The fact that the Cantonese have the best cuisine in China perhaps further proves a point; without them, Chinese food might be all cabbage, all the time.



Note: further 'research' into these matters will be enabled if you pursue these clickable links: (Yue: Cantonese), 香港電影 (Hong Kong Movies), 香港 (Hong Kong), 菜譜 (recipes), 點心 (dim sum), and San Francisco Chinatown.



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

Friday, January 18, 2013

AN APOLOGY TO ALL MY GUN-TOTING NUT FRIENDS!

This blogger is truly sorry that he hurt the feelings of several readers of this blog; readers I didn't even know I had. And, consequently, may have lost.
Guys, please come back. I treasure everyone.
Especially folks with weapons.

I never meant to suggest that people who collect assault rifles and doll themselves up in warpaint and camouflage clothing were somehow deficient and barking mad. Far, in fact, be it from me, to even hint at the psychological deficiencies of men with small penises who make up for their lack of masculinity (and their various paranoias and psychoses) by assembling a vast arsenal of big, BIG, things that go bang! And really, not being able to find a girl-friend other than your mom's sister Gertrude who lives in the basement is no blot on your character.
By no means.


BANG! BANG! BANG! AND BANG! WHEE!

I, too, know the sorrow of being girl-friendless. And while hell would freeze over before I even think of dating your mom's sister Gertrude, I shall not question your decision to do so. Really. Both of you are lonesome and only semi-literate, you darn well deserve each other. Make each other happy.

I've learned my lesson. I now know the heartache and pain that passionate gun collectors are feeling at the current commie attempt to take away the one thing that makes life worth living: heavy ordnance.
America's liberty depends on people like you. As ever.
Can't write our nation's history without at least several pages on fire-arm violence and mass-murder. It's one of the most noble manifestations of our success as a society.
It shows how free we are.
Our best and brightest expression of superiority over the rest of the world is our easy access to vast amounts of guns and ammo.

None of this was completely clear to me before this morning.
The sheer eloquence of fervid enthusiasts is often amazing.


I sincerely appreciate your wise words of remonstrance.
They were something that I felt compelled to read.
A necessary but, for this blogger, difficult task.

Due to any number of spelling errors.



Once again, I'm furiously biting my tongue to keep from making a political comment. Just like yesterday. This blog is purely artistic in nature.



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

Thursday, January 17, 2013

WHEN RABBITS GO BAD

Sometimes you just don't know what they're thinking.  One moment they're in their cage placidly chewing a carrot, the next moment they're outside, brandishing the assault rifle which they mail-ordered from Second Amendment Psycho dot Com. It's part of their underlying cowardice that they do not go postal unless heavily armed. Encountering other housepets without an ArmaLite is just unthinkable.
Frightening, even.

Rabbits, fundamentally, are chicken.

Which is why they insist on the right to bear arms.

They're afraid that men in black helicopters are coming to take away their prized heavy weapons. But before that happens, they intend to scream and shout, and if possible blow some people up. Whatever it takes.
They're thinking of taking out the sheep.
As well as the cats.


Really.


Some of them drill secretly with face-paint and fatigues, off in the country side, collecting at camps in remote areas where they drink beer and pall around with other varmints. Every one watch out for old Pink Eye over here, he was with the Army during peace-time. That's why there was peace -- the Rooskies weren't going to try anything with the rabid rabbit guarding the frontier.

If this blogger had his druthers, gun sales to insane rabbits would be outlawed. Especially assault rifles and explosive devices. But the powers that be, in their infinite wisdom, decree that the right, nay, duty, of every red-blooded rabbit with masculinity issues to assert a fake sense of machismo be safe-guarded.
Better lock those cages, mama.  Don't want Thumper there to bust loose.
He's been unstable and neurotic ever since he failed school.
Most likely grammar school. He's a bit dim.
Likely inbred, too. He's a rabbit.
Bastard got issues.


NOTE: The post above is allegorical. That means it's not real. No actual rabbits are running around with guns in my vicinity, or smearing on the bright green face-paint and shooting at empty beer cans.
And I haven't seen the men in black helicopters for at least several weeks now.
If they exist, they're probably zooming over Texas and Oklahoma and the other road-kill states at this very moment, looking for freedom-loving wildlife.
The normal furry creatures consequently need not worry.
There's nothing in our water that turns people crazy.


I'm biting my tongue to keep from making a sneering political comment.



==========================================================================
NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
LETTER BOX.
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.
==========================================================================
 
Newer›  ‹Older