At the back of the hill

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

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

YOUNG LADIES AND THEIR BIG APPETITES

I happen to know that females in their teens and early twenties have riotous preferences. This is not something I was unaware of, but recently it became delightfully obvious. And trust me, I am staggered. Pleasantly so.

You may have gathered that I like watching women eat, yes? Nothing is more adorable than a woman with bright smiling eyes, and evident intelligence and personality, tucking into food with gusto.

Such as a young lady devouring a steak. It was big and rare. She had a salad with blue-cheese dressing alongside, and a plate of crispy fries.
After which she sucked down a huge bowl of ice-cream.

She's only sixteen. And totally delicious.
Her cheeks glow when there is meat.

No, you filthy-minded pervert, I do NOT know her, and I'm NOT aspiring to get into her lace-trimmed good graces! She and her parents were having dinner at the same place, celebrating her birthday. I listened in on their conversation and lip-smacking moans.
Their steaks were smaller than hers, but they shared the fries.

To make up for their smaller portions, they had some wine with dinner; she looked at the bottle speculatively, but decided not to push the envelope.


A young woman with such developed tastes will probably experiment with cigars when she's in college. Big dark Maduro double coronas and Churchills. Either Joya de Nicaragua, or Arturo Fuente.
The veining on the wrapper leaf will be a seductively tactile experience, the silkiness of the tight rod of rolled tobacco will invite an eager button nose to smell of its fragrance.
Long filler, evenly packed, and a firm ash.
She'll savour every moment.


Avo Uvezian makes damned fine cigars that you might like, and I have a soft spot for Aroma De Cuba. Flor de Las Antilles is deservedly gaining a good name, and you cannot go wrong with a Davidoff. More affordable than that, but definitely a product of high quality, are the Butera cigars, which I highly recommend. Rocky Patels are a bit iffy, and avoid Macanudos, as they are frequently stored under abominable conditions in the backs of liquor stores, next to the sheesha.
Get the Hoyo de Monterey instead; less of a gamble.

Although, if you can find it, the Macanudo Vintage 1997 Perfecto is a marvelous cigar. An incredibly broad and rich flavour-spectrum in a refined shape, dark and elegant, matured prime quality leaf, and very well made.
A classic, worth every penny of your allowance.
Or baby-sitting money.


But ideally, she should smoke a pipe. It's more civilized. And more bang for the buck. A goodly bowl filled with rich sooty English will last longer than a cigar, and cost a mere fraction of the money. More enjoyable, a broader range of taste, and considerably more oral satisfaction.


In the pipe tobacco field, Greg Pease's Odyssey is a very full Latakia mixture well worth trying, but Abingdon is probably more suitable.
Caravan, Lagonda, and Maltese Falcon are also respected players in this league, and very much recommended. But Greg's Westminster is a must-try, absolutely. Nothing says 'old-fashioned English mixture' quite like this brilliant tribute to classic Londonian tobaccos.

While I recommend medium-full Oriental blends, such as the ones mentioned above, at this very moment I am smoking a pressed Virginia in a meerschaum pipe. Meerschaums are exceptionally lady-like; so much so that a venerable gentleman yesterday said "I hope you aren't going to light that pussy thing here!". I didn't.
Nor did I mention that his beautiful Barling Canadian would've have suited a vivacious high-school girl playing hooky out near the dump.


Either way, it might be best to indulge in these tempting depravities entirely in private. Many men will feel inadequate when they see her with a large cigar, and sneer in their frustration. Little girlie with a cheroot, hah! What does she think she knows? Hmmph! And if she smokes her pipe in public, shy young men will come nuzzling up to her, wagging their imaginary tails, to lisp that she reminds them of their grandfathers. Why, the smell of her full Latakia mixture brings back such wonderful memories, would she mind if they lay down panting and drooling at her feet for a while?
Altogether VERY embarrassing!

And so inconvenient.

Six or seven years from now, when she is home for summer break, and totally desperate for a smoke (because she's hiding her hobby from her kinfolk), I would love to offer her sanctuary. Come on in, my dear.
Here's some sherry, and an ashtray, make yourself at home.
We can talk about the Toba and Karo Bataks.
I'll share everything I know.

Thank god that Van Der Tuuk's great grammar of the Batak language has been translated into English. I have a copy of it, it's behind the tins of Rattray's tobacco on the top shelf in the teevee room.
Here, let me lift you up so you can root around.
Perhaps we can use the ladder?



TOBACCO INDEX


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WORLD'S WORST ATTEMPT AT PARALLEL PARKING - EVEN THE SEAGULLS ARE LAUGHING - WEEK FIVE!

Courtesy of a young gentleman in Belfast comes a video of staggering dimension. Be very grateful that it doesn't involve an aircraft carrier. It features a woman with incredible fortitude and commendable stubbornness trying, desperately trying, struggling, fighting valiantly, nay, engaged in an existential conflict with the fates, to park her car on a quiet street in Belfast.

NEVER GIVE UP, NEVER SURRENDER!

Belfast is an exciting place. Parking spots open up so rarely within a two-hour hike of where you need to be that when you find one, you leap at it, and pound it into quivering submission.
And time is a flexible concept there.
It's rather like Poland or Mexico.
Dimensionally transcendent.


'WORLD'S WORST ATTEMPT AT PARALLEL PARKING, ENJOY'


[Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tf4TIWECZ30. And thank you, Ciarán Shannon, for sharing!]


The unidentified female personage driving the getaway vehicle is a ruddy genius of four-wheeled entertainment.
Bless you, ma'am you've made many of us incredibly happy. We are cheered by your efforts. Our faith in existence has been re-affirmed.
You are loved.


Really, I shouldn't laugh. It's unkind of me. My ex-girlfriend hates parallel parking..... on steep San Francisco hillsides, when there's some out-of-towner also aiming for the space. Why, I've spent agonizing half or even whole minutes as she sweats blood to get her vehicle aligned. Some of those sloped streets start moving on their own, wiggling around to confound the hapless woman. Trees will appear out of nowhere, and bicyclists will rocket past at frightening speed!
It might take as much as TWO whole minutes! An eternity!

But Belfast streets are much much worse. They're level. And do not twist.
They proceed along the countours of the land (flat and even) in darkly suggestive ways (straight as a ruler) toward a baffling horizon (a perfect ninety degree angle with another street).
It's terrifying.


My ex-girlfriend has no self-confidence in her motorvehicle abilities. She is tense and fully alert when behind the wheel, and aware of everything around her. No, not adrenaline, but something darn close (there's a gland in the female body that produces a natural analogue to caffeine).
And parallel parking is, she freely admits, her worst nightmare. She prefers spaces that she can just back into, because they're at a right angle to the street. There have been times when getting out on the passenger side meant I was staring into a chasm because of the angle of the hill, and she had to clamber up and heave herself out of the driver's side like a sewer-worker popping out of a manhole. But anything is better than a parallel parking spot. On a bad day in a rainstorm on a busy street, with buses going up and downhill and suburban drivers doing baffling things in all lanes, parallel parking might be three or four minutes of absolute agony!

She'll gladly drive around a bit to find a better space.


Another lady I know who lives in San Francisco maintains her fluency in her parents' native tongue because of parallel parking. She swears in Russian. Admittedly, it's only for a minute and half or so, but it happens often enough that whole paragraphs of vile Slavic expletivity can be constructed within a comparatively short time. She doesn't like to be repetitive, you see. It's a neurotic female thing; there is no art to simply saying the same nasty phrases over and over again. Such rehash is uninspiring, don't you think?
The pattern is in the grammar, not the vocabulary.

To me it sounds like normal Russian at those times. Multiple consonant clusters, and harsh yowled syllables ending in "niok!" or a prolonged choking fit. Quite unlike the dulcet tones of my own native tongue.
Which is Dutch. A smoothly melodic language.


I simply double-park.

Takes me almost no time at all.


Or it wouldn't take me any time, if I still parked. But I haven't driven a car in over three decades, since rocketing my vehicle off a hillside in Moraga at ninety miles an hour.

It's a question of style, I guess.


"She hett tha' black cor thray taims!"

As someone (Kiernan?) said "noooo way"!
Pull up, ge' 'er ane, gooo on, ye.

No animals were hurt in the making of this video.




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Monday, April 29, 2013

THE PERFECT COUPLE

A friend pencilled me in over the weekend for a meeting in which I would teach him all about pipe-smoking. "Pardon my anality", he said as he did so several days in advance of the appointment, "it's the only way I can reasonably make time".
Anality? Boys, I think we've got a winner!
Pipe smoking is the perfect habit for neurotics. If you weren't so before you took up the habit, you will be soon.
It's all about attention to detail.

That probably explains why so few women take it up. There's no escape; if cigarettes are rebellion, and cigars deliciously self-indulgent, pipes are all about rigidly adhering to precise routines and minding minutiae. When women smoke, it's mostly about freedom. Charming sinful wildness.
No responsibilities, no obligations, just light up and let her rip.
Women often feel bound by rules and constraints.
Surely smoking should be just fun?

Either that, or subconsciously showing off one's sexual desirability.
A woman with a cigarette or cheroot just about screams out "available curves", or "luscious wet pouty lips", or even "look at meeeeee!"
Precisely like a soft flexible leather handbag from an expensive high-status manufacturer, or really bitching scarlet high-heels. Whereas a pipe says "don't bother me, I'm busy", or "there are more important things on my mind than your physique", or even "huh, what did you say, I wasn't listening".
And given that these messages are strictly meant for other women, even though unconscious, the effect can be extremely irritating.
Though primarily to other women.

It does not pay to unconsciously piss off the sisterhood.
They're a potently thoughtless support network.
And quite venomous when threatened.

A woman enjoying her pipe radiates an independent mind.
Much like a man with a lovely Louis Vuitton purse.
The effect on other women is the same.

I do not have a Louis Vuitton purse, and wouldn't recognize one if it came up and bit me on the tail. Nor do I own scarlet high-heels, really bitching or otherwise. I am, as I hope you are aware, a male.
My subconscious isn't wired to send out hierarchical signals to members of the sisterhood. At times I even doubt that it is capable of broadcasting any messages at all, since I do not wear team logo garb, can't stand sports, and seldom join in the rituals of male bonding so important to most men.
If you show off your purse at me, I will waggle my pipe at you.
We can both exclaim "ooh, nice!" without meaning it.
Neither one of us will even know the difference.
But we are sure the 'object' is tasteful.
We do not need to know why.
Both of us bought "it".
Surely it is good.
You and me.
We know.




Actually, I adore really bitching scarlet high-heels.
I've got a lovely pipe that goes with them.
We'd be a visually stunning couple.
Your sexy pumps, my briar.
It's probably perfect.



TOBACCO INDEX


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Sunday, April 28, 2013

REAGAN, THATCHER, AND TEA BAGGERISM

Nearly two weeks ago Baroness Thatcher was funeralized. London came to a halt, ridiculously over-the-top hagiographic eulocrap was declaimed with sincere passion, and the conservatives of the world united in grief.
Thank heavens that's over.

I never joined in the worshipful adulation of either Maggie or Ronnie. And no, I refuse to consider either of those two to have been in any way great. The eighties were probably the worst decade since the war to have been alive, the aftereffects of misrule lasted well into the twenty-first century.

But I can understand that to the braindead and the ethically crippled, that was a golden age. The ghastly flaws that others so plainly recognized to them were virtues, and the mean-spiritedness of that age lived on, and contributed to the victory of a shallow near-illiterate in 2000.

If misplaced praise were sickening, we would all be nauseous now.


The only thing worse than the Labour Party was the Conservative side. Here in the United States, the same holds. The Democratic Party has a shockingly high ranking on the puke scale, but the Republicans made the vomit-o-meter spectacularly blow all its fuses.
We should have done better.
Deliberately we didn't.

Now that both of those miserable specimens have gone to hell, let us bury their legacies and try to rebuild the world. There is much to be done.



The last great president this country had was Lyndon Baines Johnson.
England has not been so lucky. Nothing but bounders since Churchill.



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WHY MOST WOMEN ARE ALMOST ALWAYS WRONG

Female sexuality is one of the most baffling things on the planet, even to other females. Whereas male sexuality is completely transparent.

As any married woman will tell you, males get excited by just two things: pulchritude, and pizza. That's it. Simple. Show a man a fabulous photo of a cheese pie, and he'll smile happily and start dancing. Pizza.

Women, on the other hand, do not get aroused by anything so simple.
More of their senses need to be stimulated. There's a whole host of necessary factors. Plus all kinds of meaningful emotion.
Prada. Louis Vuitton. Michael Kors. Gucci.
Sensual leathers and designer boots.
The smell of newness.


It's a very complex thing. If any of the fancy labels I just mentioned were to produce a fitted man's body suit made entirely out of handbag leather, it would be the most popular item on the planet, never mind the ENORMOUS expense.
Women would pursue the man wearing it to the end of the earth.
Keen to experience every inch of his figure.
Without ever touching skin.
Just his straps.

For all they would care, he MIGHT be stuffing his face with pizza, while they caressed the seams and studs, sniffed the smooth LEATHER sheath that chrysalis-like enveloped him in Cordovan, with double-stitching at the stress-points and lower ends, full grain, fine natural texture.
Rounded tight-snap clasps for every pocket.
Hard and firm at the ball of the foot.
Before the ten-inch spikes.
And pinching toes.

It's smooth and silky, for that superb look.
A high-fashion accoutrement to envy.


Her bestial passions now fully aroused, she turns on the Real Housewives, then grabs an enormous bag of Nacho Cheese Chips, ready to enjoy several hours of ecstasy, delight, and ranch dip.
Occasionally, she'll squeal and pant.
Oooh, tacky rich people!

The man in her life, still entirely oblivious and in his leather costume, wanders into the kitchen to see if there's any more pizza.
It's very high quality leather, so it does not chafe.
And it actually feels rather nice.
Mmm, pizza!


Personally, I just don't see it. Somewhere in the last three decades we went from Humphrey Bogart to Justin Bieber as the be-all and end-all of manhood. It's very disturbing.

I'm not into purses, but I know how to make pizza.

So I'm probably safest observing females from the security of my kitchen, while they do weird things with snacks and designer crap behind iron bars somewhere. Unfortunately they are nothing like pizza.
They are dangerous, and unbalanced.
Frighteningly goofy.


Flour, yeast, olive oil. So smooth, so smooth! This dough looks and feels just like a shapely thigh as I kneed it, firmly, firmly. Now I'll ball it into a lovely breast-shape, to let it rest and rise in  a nice warm place.
Rich fresh red sauce, smooth and thick, spooned all over.
Crisp slivers of bell pepper and anchovies!

The key is heat and inspiration.


[Sweet nothings to whisper in her ear: Pikolino, Franco Sarto, Isabel Marant, Michelle D., Delman, Pantofola D'Oro, Liz Claiborne, Louis Vuitton...; Caparros, Sam Edelman, Charlotte Russe, Michael Kors, Appepaza, Guess Rexy, Via Spiga Janice Nude Patent, Fendi, Ciao Bella, Manolo Blahnik, Christian Louboutin, Cynthia Vincent, Bottega Veneta, Marc jacobs, Jimmy Choo...; Ferragamo, Prada, Miu Miu, Zanotti, Gucci, Pour La Victoire, Dolce & Gabbana, Brian Atwood, Chloe, Charles Jourdan, Roger Vivier, Gianmarco Lorenzi........ .]


Women are hardly ever in the mood, as so much needs to be perfect for them to be attuned. Whereas men are always ready for pizza.

That probably explains why men are happier.
Much more normal, in any case.

Mmm, pizza!




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Saturday, April 27, 2013

THERE IS NO GOD IN DHAKA

Hefajat-e-Islam demands that the Bangladeshi government arrest and prosecute what it calls "atheist bloggers'. Which appears to be anybody a bunch of rabid religious nutballs dislike. For all we know, that includes a company that sells pork, Justin Bieber, or people who decide to break their ramadan fast with bacon popsicles. The Hefajat-e-Islam will decide what an atheist blogger is, and if necessary take quite unreasonable measures.
Freedom of speech has no place in a proper Islamic country!

Islam, in the constricted minds of large numbers of its jamaati faithful, means book burning, stoning, sexual brutality, and happy mob orgies of violence.


Well, we already knew that. This blogger cannot think of a single Muslim majority country where it's safe to have a mind. And while you might mention such stalwarts as Turkey (run by a mob of savage hairy illiterates, give us back Constantinople you pigs) or Indonesia, which is supposedly secular (except for whenever they need to burn down a church or kill members of the Ahmedia branch of Islam), I will for very sound reasons reject that contention. In fact, I will request that you go to either of those countries and engage the locals in conversation about the prophet's personal life, and some of the insaner elements of the Mohammedan belief system.

This is not to say that Muslims cannot be democratic and civilized. There have been many examples of Muslims courageously demonstrating the very highest values and ideals. Unfortunately, if they aren't residents of sane part of the world, they usually get shot. Or stabbed. Or beaten to death.
Which seems to be what imams, mullahs, and the entire ulama excell at.
They're rather like empowered baptist preachers in that regard.
The Muslim world had tea-partiers before we did.


HOWLING HEATHEN MOBS OF THE SAME INTELLECTUAL CALIBRE AS GLENN BECK

[No, I'm not talking about the great American Heartland!]

Many recent rallies in Bangladesh have resulted in fatalities. This does not speak well of Bong Muslims, or their religion and their prophet. If adherents of a creed prove habitually murderous -- as so often is evident all over the Muslim world -- it is quite ridiculous to give their faith either credence or respect. Rather, we should fear its community as dangerous cultists, fanatics, and disturbers of the peace.
Again, many Muslims prove by their courage and their rectitude quite the opposite. That it takes so much courage is, perhaps, proof that masses of their co-religionists are still in the stone age.

[So in one sense, this is not about religion, but societies that still have a long way to go. If they were fundamentalist Christians the result would be the same; rigid and foaming fanaticism, intolerance, and murder. The problem is that we went through that already, and though it took several centuries of slaughter before we finally got the bug out of our ass, we're better now. They aren't.]

I'm going by newsreports from Western agencies here, and normally there isn't very much about Bangladesh to go by. We don't really read a lot about stinkingly unpleasant places where literacy, sanitation, and reason, haven't made an impact. So reports may have gotten garbled in transmission.

Do they even have soap in Bangladesh?

Or did they burn it all?

This blogger didn't know the Jamaatis read bloggers or the internet. For all intents and purposes, I really thought that those whackjobs over there were still stoning their wives and daughters and cutting each others throats. In between late-night cruising for porn on the web, as well as kitten pictures.

Bangladesh is a meaningless country inhabited mainly by grotty primitives in a state of permanent fury over insults to their faith, their prophet's big toe, or acid indigestion because of too much badly cooked sorse ilish.
Use less ghee, you dumb buggers.

The philosophy of Hefajat-e-Islam is religious syphilis; dangerous upon contact, utterly polluting, and leading to madness.

All evidence indicates that there is neither deity nor decency in Dhaka.


SO VERY VERY PAKI!

Judging by their standards of behaviour, whenever somebody insults their prophet -- some dude named 'Moomin Mommybanger' or 'Piggy Whistle blessings be upon him', or something like that -- they scream and shout and kill innocent bystanders. Really, has anything worthwhile ever come out of Bangladesh? Anything that the rest of the world could possibly value?
Other than catamites for rich Saudi degenerates?

They make very GOOD catamites.
But still.


Be honest now. Admit that the only reason that bunch even converted to Islam was so that they could eat beef and oppress their sisters. And their neighbors' sisters. And their neigbors' neigbors' sisters. Exactly like the Pakistanis, only more so.


I'll grant that this post has an undertone of bigotry. But I ain't apologizing. Until Bangladeshis and Pakistanis start acting like civilized people, I see no reason whatsoever to respect them, their beliefs, or their ghastly hellhole countries. I am glad I do not live in Dhaka (or Karachi), I avoid all businesses run by those people, and while I really like what the Bongs do with fish (as well as what Sindhis and their ilk do with kababs, paya nahari, and gosht-ka-salan..... mmmmmm, delicious!), I refuse to eat at any of their restaurants because I have very good reason to believe that their culinary practices in commercial kitchens are utterly unclean. Besides, I know how to use their ingredients better than they do.

News flash: there is no god in Dhaka. Nothing but dhoti-wearing pigheads waving lattis and screaming bloody murder. Insane Bong illiterates, sweaty weirdoes, and future whimpering bang-me-babies for Gulf Arabs.


This post is lovingly dedicated to the Jamaat Shibir.
And bushy beards dyed red with henna.




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Friday, April 26, 2013

ADVERSE REACTION TO VERY YANKEE FOOD

The perfect breakfast: preserved meat products and chilies on good bread, preferably sourdough. That's the same, by the way, as the perfect dinner. And the perfect mid-night snack.
We have sourdough here. We're somewhat famous for it.
And you'd think we also had the chilies.
There are indeed chilies.


But the problem is that they appear to be white folks chilies. Yes, they look like Jalapeños. And they have an appealing snap. But they are NOT hot.
Not even mild. The same heat-level as bell-peppers.

Years ago I read that some cad had invented a breed of chili pepper for the public in the North-East, as they were bloody desperate for nachos, but couldn't stomach flavour... errrm, I mean 'bite'.
It was a capsaicin-free Jalapeño.
Suitable for Wasps.

Chilies acceptable to New Englanders are an abomination, and obviously there are far too many of those people in the rest of the country.
We need a wall around the Atlantic States.

Damn you wussy Wasps, why are you ruining my life?!? Or trying to?
Especially my sandwiches. The last dozen Jalapeños I had were nothing more than salad vegetables. Good for the digestion, I'm sure, but entirely without zing. No bite, no peppiness, no wow. Am I now going to have to switch to chiltepin or chile de arbol? Do you know how many blocks I'd have to walk to find a market with fresh chiles de arbol for sandwiches?
Chiles Serranos, perhaps, grown in hundred degree heat?
And are you going to ruin those next?

Have you palid-taste white-breads considered simply learning how to eat? Instead of dumbing down everything to your level? You messed up corn and tomatoes a few decades ago, the sandwich meats you like are crap (dubious meat by-products, with glucose, binders, filler, extra salt, extra preservatives, and extra fat), your bread sucks eggs big-time, your bacon consists of sugar-cured pig wax, and everything in a box in the freezer section proves that you guys have no taste and can't cook.

Kindly keep your pasty flavourless hands off of our chilies.

I had to bring out the hot sauce to up the flavour quotient.
Instead of relying on fresh green peppers.
It just wasn't the same.


By the way: your clambakes are horridly indigestible because you overcook your seafoods, your baked beans are absolutely nauseating, the less said about those vile cream pies the better, and let's face it, clam chowder is even at the best of times a bowl of bland glue. You folks are culinarily backward, and a blight upon the planet.
Sweet jayzits almighty.
Barbarians.


Capsaicin-free Jalapeños.
Bah.



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Thursday, April 25, 2013

JUST MOVE ALONG, THERE IS NO NUDITY HERE

Writing this piece requires manly resolve. After all, I am admitting a failure, and exposing a somewhat shameful fact: a percentage of my readers came here solely for the pulchritude. The failure on my part is that they were not satisfied with what they found.
On a somewhat brighter note, it was MY pulchritude that they sought.
They searched the internet for 'Naked Middle Aged White Man'.
And ended up here, browsing in bafflement.
Their search was in vain.

So I apologize, as there is NO actual nudity here. None. Neither mine nor anyone else's. No photos or artistic drawings. Neither physical nakedness, nor any spiritually satisfying mystic skin exposure. Nor are there any photos that might prove even slightly suggestive in any other way, other than a clip from a Hong Kong movie made nearly three decades ago in which Cherie Chung sets adolescent male hearts racing by removing her bra prior to retiring for the night. The aestheticism of that scene trumps any and all nudge-nudge-wink-winkism, however, and while it sears itself upon your mental eye-ball with every fond replay, it is perfectly clean.
And Cherie Chung, as you may realize, is not a middle-aged white man.
Though there may be middle-aged white men among her fans.
In fact, I'm sure of it. At least two of them.
I know the other one.

[Cherie Chung Chu-hong (鍾楚紅) is the extremely appealing actress who won your heart in 'An Autumn's Tale' (秋天的童話), 'Happy Together' (相見好), 'Peking Opera Blues' (刀馬旦), and lighthearted holiday comedies like 'The Eighth Happiness' (八星報喜), among many other movies.
A large part of her screen appeal is that you are drawn into her persona, and find the thoughts and feelings reflected in her face infinitely understandable, almost as if they were your own. A great actress, she retired from movies in 1991, much to the dismay of everyone. Since then she has been active in various excellent causes. A clip of her can be found in this post: Smoking! Do not play it at work, as your boss looking over your shoulder may get the wrong idea. She is four months younger than me, btw.]


Initially, I assumed that the people searching for naked middle aged white men were lonely Arabs in the Gulf, as that is where the first hits came from. And while sympathetic to their perverse desperation, I wasn't going to do anything about it. Yes, I consider myself a fine figure of a man; but I am strictly heterosexual, and absolutely not an exhibitionist. Besides, this is a family blog. Householders and little children visit here.

[At least, I hoped they do. I am candy, and I've got candy. Just think of me as your local doctor, or that kindly old woman with the gingerbread house.]

Subsequently I discovered that two other geographic regions have readers searching for naked middle aged white men, those being Australia and the Philippines.

I rather suspect that in the Philippines it must be young ladies looking for that criterion. Maybe their cousin is marrying a white guy, and they're wondering what Leticia or Prissy will get to see around the house at odd moments. It isn't a prurient interest so much as an intellectual fascination; they themselves are 'quirked' by the idea that a naked white man might wander across the horizon, and they've heard that underneath our clothes, we are hairy all over and fish-belly white! How eye-shattering! How ghastly! How strangely exotic and how very mildly tittilating!
Conceivably, they wonder what it would be like to have a furry husband of their own, OR what the feel of all that fuzz is like. Is it scratchy? Or silky?
Is it moist? Does it tickle?
I can understand the curiosity. After all, it's three in the morning in Manila, the air-conditioning started making that weird sound again, and all around there is the utter silence and humidity of a tropical night. Still three more hours till anyone else wakes up and the maids prepare coffee or tsokolate, and pan de leche with cocojam. Let alone fried spam or daing with rice and eggs. Gotta do something. Look up educational stuff on the internet.


The Australians present a quandary. I would've thought that there are just tons of naked middle aged males all over Australia, more numerous than wombats or kangaroos even. Surely the nude male is not an unfamiliar sight in Sydney or Victoria? Why, they must be a pest on the same scale as Fosters Lager or bunny rabbits! Why on earth would anyone in Australia be interested in that?

But conceivably these are men and women in the outback, and all alone. The sight of a naked middle aged man might be what they miss about civilization, a vision that reminds them of home. Perhaps it is the most comforting trope of happy Australian family life; naked men morning noon and night. Yes, if that is the case, their desperation is completely understandable, and even rather sad.
So I'm very sorry you didn't find anything you were looking for here.
If I had known how much it meant to you, I would've obliged.
By offering helpful links and comforting words.
Naked men are all over the internet.
There just aren't any here.



While I can sympathize with all the people in foreign lands searching for middle aged masculine pulchritude, I confess myself not interested in the slightest in that subject. There's a mirror at the end of the hall near the bathroom door, and consequently I often get plenty in passing.
That is all the exposure I need.
Rather, there is a dearth of the opposite in my life. My own interest is toward the unclothed female figure. And no, I do not rely on the internet for that. Feminine nudity is only satisfying if you know the person in question, and she is short, bright, and has a boundless curiosity.
Given the circumstances in which she might be companionably nude, she definitely also needs an enormous sense of humour.
That last characteristic is excellent in any case.


Naked middle aged white men frequently smell warm and clean, in case you were wondering. That is because our nakedness involves soap and water. And sometimes a cup of coffee.
Nothing else.



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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

ON THE EDGE OF THE PLATFORM

Train travel isn't what it used to be, and perhaps it never was. A train trip up the coast several years ago left me with an ache in my glutei maximi which lasted for two months; the constant jostling and the hard thin seat cushions combined played a number which had to be felt to be believed.

It was a lovely trip. But I was "relieved" to get home.

Next time, I'm bringing a comfy cushion. Or two.
In case someone is crazy enough to come along.

I've always liked train stations, though. There is an air of hopefulness and manifold possibility about those places. The horizon beyond the end of the narrowing track-lines represents both mystery and purpose, the people who traverse the platforms are going somewhere definite; but which stop along the way their destination is, is hard to envision.

[Sorry for the odd phrasing; I was in the German thinking.]


Europe, because it is much more densely populated than America, is held together more by trains. But America was brought together by them.
Were it not for the cross-continental railroads our hold on the far western pacific territories would have been doubtful, and in fact rather pointless till the advent of the car.
Automobiles lessened our reliance on trains for travel, the airplane virtually killed it. But in the latter part of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth trains represented our wanderlust and escapism, as well as our drive and sense of purpose, more than almost anything else. The train is, consequently, a fundament of our common culture.


WABASH CANNONBALL


[Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6yhvv234oaA.]

I knew this song as a child. I rather liked it then, but I did not pause over the words, just took it for granted as one of those things that my mother treasured from the years in America before we moved overseas. I must have heard it hundreds of times, though not in Roy Acuff's rendition.


Songs about trains have a plangency that is particular to the genre, and even a mere mention of trains sets the mind off on a journey into a left-field of the imagination. Johnny Cash, in Folsom Prison Blues, plays upon that, and the audience "gets it". Another train-song that Johnny Cash does is The Orange Blossom Special. And while that's a well-liked rendition, it speaks to me less than you might expect.

THE ORANGE BLOSSOM SPECIAL


[Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4-uoUpN1c4.]

I don't know, it just sounds very tinkly-poo. Precious, just too darn.
It probably works better as a fiddle tune than as a vocal piece.
It's a rather silly song; choo choo choo made melodic.


Boxcar Willie, who predictably does train songs, could probably do something with it, though. As performers of this category of folk music go, he's the acknowledged champion. He's also done the Wabash Cannonball, which should not surprise you. But as a fine introduction to his music, listen to the song below.

WRECK OF THE OLD 97


[Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsaFbnmmnhA.]


Somehow, neither Greyhound Buses nor the mass-transit system have that inviting quality. Distant locales that formerly beckoned now have the same Starbucks coffee that I will not touch in San Francisco, and elsewhere has far more McDonald restaurants than the city. The brandnames I refuse to consider are available worldwide, but I do not even have to leave the city to sneer at them; doing so in foreign climes is less appealing than you might think.
Universal suburban attitudes have tarnished the romance of journeying. There are no bellhops, porters, and dining cars now. Baggage drops, abondoned sidings, and hobo jungles have disappeared.

Can't even hop freight trains anymore.

Of course, I never did.

But I like the idea.



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THE MENTAL PLAYLIST

What music do you have in your mind right now? Is it a mellifluous violin? Or triumphant horns? Purcell's Trumpet Voluntary is good tune to have playing in one's head....... but you might have the Marseillaise from a famous movie. Internal music is a mood enhancer.

No, not the stuff that people plugged-in on the bus play. That's usually fairly mundane stuff, metallic and mediocre. And it isn't actually in their head, but simply echoing in the vast empty spaces between one ear (the left) and the other (on the right). They aren't thinking it, they're merely providing an opportunity for random vibration.

Sometimes there are words.


Years ago I thought that the Sony Walkman was a pretty neat-o invention. It's still an impressive concept -- the idea that wherever you are you can listen to the noise of your choice -- but like cell-phones, there's a time and a place. Packed among the public is, perhaps, not it. There's something too private, too sexual almost, about both clutching a friend to your ear and discussing things that only the two of you know, as well as listening to the music that makes you dream.

Rather than on public transit, you should do it in the bedroom. Nice warm day, pillows, comfortably reclining.... and , if it pleases you, a baroque German with a flair for oomph keeping you company.

Well, not actually there in the flesh, you understand. But his sweet genius envelopes you. A very perfect mood-enhancer, for a mood already stratospheric.


"The conception of an opera as a coherent structure was slow to capture Handel's imagination [*]"

[Per Wikipedia.]


On a totally random note, when you polish wood, wipe off the excess after a few moments, to allow slight penetration. The more absorbent grain will whick oil out of the adjacent harder areas, increasing the contrast between light and heavy.

This in relation to maintaining your pipe. There is nothing like a good rub to make it happy. Along with softly fragrant leaves.
Briar benefits from a friendly treatment.

I also find opera not entirely coherent.
Quite irrespective of structure.
That's not a bad thing.


But anyhow, there you are, lying on your bed as sunlight streams in, cup of steaming Assam, bowlful of a sweetly mature Virginia, and triumphant brass blaring at a level of perfect modulation. Everything in concert.
And afterwards, a crisp apple and a good book.

Later you will replay the tones in your mind's ear, and the mood will be re-induced, the emotion reborn. As time passes, the laminations of memory associated with a particular tune will increase and grow more complex, like grain in wood, annealed and various. Eventually even a few notes will prompt recollection.

Stern man with periwig. A smell of Carolinian ferment. Dust motes dancing iridescently in brilliant shafts. The perfume of fruit, texture of clean cotton, and a whisp of tannin over white porcelain.

Your library of internalized music is as potent and forceful a stimulant as your sense of smell, as intense as the touch at your fingertips.


On the other hand, if someone really wants to tweak and convulse in public while listening to Madonna having a tantrum, I shall not quibble. Like other people, I enjoy bits of random theatre. Strangers doing their own thing oblivious to the amused stares of others, and the mothers restraining their kiddies, telling them to not get too close to the psycho, yep, fine by me.

Second-hand music causes fits.


IT'S WARM TO THE TOUCH

While I write this I am not alone. A devilishly charming fellow with an over-the-top peruke is here with me -- The Four Seasons -- in spirit, though thank heavens not in actual person. And I'm smoking a mixture of Virginias with a touch of perique, oh soft golden mistress with dark allure!

The pipe is an ancient silver-banded straight billiard from John's Pipe Shop in Los Angeles (formerly of 524 South Spring Street). It's large enough for a man, but comfortable enough for a woman.
I just finished polishing it.

Life is melodic.



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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

MOST FRIGHTENING FOOD ON THE PLANET!

A zesty portion of heart-attack held in your hand, and brought to your trembling mouth with brisk decisivity! That being the double sausage hamburger served by McDonalds in Peking.

Two German suasgaes, sugaseggs, sugeswags, ssusu us ages, suwags, SAUSAGES, on top of a plural helping of Ronald, with mustard.
It's yummaliciously bad goooooooood.
I don't want it.


Bon appétit!

MC DONALD'S TV AD FOR SAUSAGE DOUBLE BEEF


[Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDvEW5ZWgAo.]

I am frightened (terrified) and intrigued.

My dreams are now haunted by levitating lower-intestine-shaped aliens gamboling with procreative lust through the brown-coloured haze above Peking, before landing on a comforting bed of warm industrial packing material.

Then being brutally killed by two Chinese dudes.

It's true: the Chinese will eat anything.

Even alien porn-stars.

It's juicy.


The youtube user who placed the video is BJCream, that being apparently a collection of writers living in China who write a blog detailing matters of great import. Weighty matters. Important things. Stuff you really need to read.

The website of I-CAN-HAZ-CHIZBURGER may be unavailable in China. Possibly because the coded messages embedded in the icky pictures will rot your brain. This is the sane man's (or sane woman's) alternative.
Beijing Cream is better for you.


It's digestible, and lubricates the arteries.



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Monday, April 22, 2013

MOST POPULAR ARTICLES AT THE BACK OF THE HILL IN APRIL 2013

Oh good! The really perverse blogposts are no longer the ones that readers come here looking for. In fact, I've finally reached such a state of bloggistic cleanliness that even I am surprised. The degenerates are no longer among my audience, I have become a family blog. You may expect cheering Hello Kitty images with pom-poms here any moment now.
Celebrating the innocence that I exude.


As of seven o'clock this morning, the top ten most searched for posts that brought people here are:


1. HONG KONG ROAST GOOSE IN SHAM TSENG
http://atthebackofthehill.blogspot.com/2011/10/hong-kong-roast-goose-in-sham-tseng.html.
Posted on Wednesday, October 05, 2011.

A guide to eating roast goose out in the New Territories, where you will pay far less for it and get stellar quality. Sham Tseng is a distant suburb of Hong Kong Island beyond Kowloon, and they do excellent bird there. Really worth the visit.


2. HO SI FAT CHOI 好事發財 DRIED OYSTERS WITH BLACK MOSS
http://atthebackofthehill.blogspot.com/2011/02/ho-si-fat-choi-dried-oysters-with-black.html.
Posted on Tuesday, February 01, 2011.

A very Cantonese good-luck preparation served at feasts. The reason why it is Cantonese particularly is because the name of the dish both describes the main ingredients AND sounds the same as a wish for good luck and prosperity. In Cantonese.


3. SEA CUCUMBER - SOAKING AND BRAISING A DELICIOUS SLUG
http://atthebackofthehill.blogspot.com/2011/10/sea-cucumber-soaking-and-braising.html.
Posted on Saturday, October 01, 2011.

What to do with that expensive ingredient that you bought on a whim. You had it during grandpa's birthday feast at that palatial restaurant out in the avenues, and you're keen to try cooking it yourself. This is how.


4. HAM SAP LO - THE CANTONESE PERVERT
http://atthebackofthehill.blogspot.com/2011/04/ham-sap-lo-cantonese-pervert.html.
Posted on Wednesday, April 27, 2011.

An explanation of the most useful locution in Cantonese. Especially if you are a female and a depraved banker is leering at you. Which sometimes happens. Surely you want to know what to call him?


5. PORTRAIT OF A NAKED SCHOOLGIRL ON A BED OF TOBACCO
http://atthebackofthehill.blogspot.com/2010/07/portrait-of-naked-schoolgirl-on-bed-of.html.
Posted on Friday, July 02, 2010.

Pointers on the marketing of merchandise, or, how to sell almost anything to anybody. There is no illustrated nudity here, nor any titillating descriptions. Everything is left to the imagination, except the tobacco.


6. THE TOBACCO THAT HELLO KITTY WOULD SMOKE
http://atthebackofthehill.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-tobacco-that-hello-kitty-would-smoke.html.
Posted on Sunday, August 12, 2012.

A description of a misguided pipe-compound, that should be extraordinarily popular in Japan and Hong Kong. Particularly among depraved bankers and their ilk. We have none such in San Francisco.


7. DIM SUM: KINDS, NAMES, PRONUNCIAT​ION, DESCRIPTIO​N
http://atthebackofthehill.blogspot.com/2012/03/dim-sum-kinds-names-pronunciation.html.
Posted on Wednesday, March 28, 2012.

An exhaustive list of dimsum, with the Cantonese names transcribed, sort of transliterated, and translated. Probably very useful for food mavens, as well as restaurateurs in the boondocks at a loss for words.


8. NAKED MIDDLE AGED WHITE MAN
http://atthebackofthehill.blogspot.com/2012/01/naked-middle-aged-white-man.html.
Posted on Saturday, January 07, 2012.

From which we conclude that a pipe-smoking gentleman in San Francisco having a long hot soak by himself on a Saturday afternoon bears NO resemblance whatsoever to a boiled lobster. A very clean post.


9. CHINESE NEW YEAR - LUCKY WISHES, LUCKY FOODS
http://atthebackofthehill.blogspot.com/2011/01/chinese-new-year-lucky-wishes-lucky.html.
Posted on Sunday, January 30, 2011.

This post explains several Cantonese dishes appropriate for the start of the year, with their symbolism. Note the clickable label underneath ("Chinese New Year"), which will bring up other posts that might interest you.


10. BIG HEAP OF TOBACCO
http://atthebackofthehill.blogspot.com/2010/01/big-heap-of-tobacco.html.
Posted on Thursday, January 28, 2010.

Over one hundred discursae about pipes and tobacco, of no conceivable interest whatsoever to most people. Readers looking for this comprise a small subset, in person often quite engaging.



As you can see, it's mostly about things to put in your mouth. Nobody could possibly object to that, or see anything wrong with it. 

Elsewhere on the blog, if you search, you will find raccoons, crows, mice, badgers, and weasels. Plus a lot more about food.
Also some pizza, but not very much.

Pizza is incidental.




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Sunday, April 21, 2013

ON THE VIABILITY OF PIPE TOBACCO ENTERPRISES

When I returned to the United States in 1978 there were over a dozen tobacconists in San Francisco, and three in Berkeley. At present there are no tobacconists in either town. Oh sure, there are places where you can purchase tobaccos, but nowhere that you can ask a question about the product and get an intelligent answer. The best (and only) tobacconist in San Francisco is across the bridge in Marin County. At Telfords you can definitely get an intelligent answer.

Asking questions in San Francisco has become a futile exercise.
Intelligent answers nowadays are often somewhere else.
Unless you know someone. Knowledge is rare.


Of course Starbucks is all over the place, so you WILL get an answer. Someone is always primed to spew forth at great ignorant length in this city, wired to the tits on perfectly mediocre coffee.
We're full of it here.


Benaderet's on Sutter Street disappeared about three decades ago, Dunhill on Post and Stockton is now a footwear place for thugs, and several other places faded out over the years. When Marty Pulvers' lease was up for renewal, the stipulation was that there would be no more smoking on the premises because the braindead twits in the offices upstairs couldn't smell their own hair conditioner and nail polish when walking past the shop........ or even twenty floors up. So he sold the business to acquiescent know-nothings and retired.

Grant's on Market Street closed last year for much the same reason. It is better to have a vacant commercial space than to offend the fake blondes in the beauty academy two storeys up. Except that I'm fairly certain they've not learned any beauty since then, they still look almighty suburban, stupid, and totally glamless.
It may take them a while.


There was a time when all the men on the decks of the ferries bringing them to work in the city wore fedoras and trenchcoats, and smoked pipes while reading their newspapers. The photos of that era prove it.
Times have changed.

[This blogger doesn't wear his fedora either anymore, even though it's a very snappy dark blue gangster number, very suitable for shul or a poker game. It's the wind, and head-hair. And there are no newspapers left in San Francisco, because reporters have gone into other fields rather than starve to death. People get their news from twitter nowadays. And ferries are for tourists.]


These are NOT the worst of times yet, in some ways they are actually the best of times. Sure, smoking is in the dog house, and pretty young ladies no longer drool over dashing young fellows with their Bohemian habits, mainstreet retailers demand that smokers stay thirty feet away at all times lest they call the riot squad, and tofu trolls from Berkeley now scream about the rainforest whenever you light up. But thanks to the internet, much more is available than ever before.
Three decades ago products from venerable English companies such as Samuel Gawith, Gawith Hoggarth, and Germain's were neither available, nor even known. The German firms Kohlhase & Kopp, and Planta Tabak Manufaktur, as well as Synjeco in Switzerland, were barely blipping on the distant horizon, unrecognizable to us smokers on the ground.
Greg Pease had not started blending yet, Craig and Patty Tarler were still in Pennsylvania, and the McNeills of McClelland fame were just Kansas City oddballs doing hippy things with aged leaf, primarily for their own pleasure. The Danes were smoking fruity funkum in pipes that were far more artistic and mystical than practical and well-made.

[Note: the reason why there is no clickable link for McClelland Tobacco Company is that there is no clickable link for McClelland Tobacco Company. Once quill and ink become internetable, there will be. Exercise your patience.]

Now, I look at the bookshelves in the teevee room, and both the Torah-Talmud section, AND the Dutch-East Indies library, are entirely hidden by tins of Rattrays (Kolhase & Kopp), Wilderness and Three Oaks Syrian (McClelland), Orlik Golden Sliced (Danish), Broken Scotch Cake (Gawith Hoggarth), half pound cans of Smoker's Haven, Dan Tobacco (CAO), MacBaren, and Butera, various navy flakes, and so much Germain's and Sam Gawith you couldn't even shake a stick; I've enjoyed fine tobacco in the last ten years that two decades ago I did not even know existed.
There are neither Berkeleyites nor tofu heads anywhere in the house.


In my own room, the stacks of various Greg Pease mixtures, and even more Rattrays, loom dangerously over the computer desk. If there's an earthquake, all of that plus boxes of Cornell & Diehl and several other brands will fall on top of me.

I should wear a crash helmet at all times.


LAST MAN STANDING

Merely forty minutes away by bus is a tobacconist that represents both a by-gone era, AND the best of the modern age. Brian and Susan Telford's splendid haven for social lepers is a sanctuary for everyone who loves good tobacco, and I'm regularly surprised at things I find there. Drucquer and Sons, Dunhill, Benaderet, Sherlock's Haven, and Grants are all gone, but Telfords is still around, bigger and better than ever. Of course they're no longer the poky little shop on the corner of Belden Alley and Pine Street that they were decades ago, and they've moved out of this rigidly constipated city entirely, but their large, comfortable, and abundantly over-stocked store in Marin is more than enough reason to visit San Francisco...... so that you can whizz across the bridge to civilization.
Light up, boys; Marc Levine, Tom Ammiano, and their ghastly fellow-travellers, will never threaten you here.

Most Berkelyites don't even know where Marin is.

[Berkeleyite: a clench-jawed intolerant ideologue, in whose priggish presence all thought and creativity become nearly impossible. Most Berkeleyites are so utterly convinced of their own rightness and worth that their mere presence guarantees a lack of anything and everything good in the universe. Vegans, anti-Semites and Israel-haters, pot activists, puritans, and the frigidly uber-bourgeois. All in all quite horrid, quite ignorant, and quite terrifyingly narrow-minded. But the epitome of politically correct smarm. Often, but not always, products of a once top notch but now mediocre educational institution centred there. Berkeley is Tehran with wasps.
Berkeleyites are the ring-leaders and trend-setters of darkness. The term 'Berkelyite' on this blog stands in for all that is repellent.]


In the days when I was inhabiting the repair section in the back of Drucquers, restoring collectable pipes and happily day-dreaming, the anti-smoking frenzy had not even started. It seemed that all would be well with the world, and good leaf would be ever present. Then Dunhill got split-up, with production of the blends being moved to Northern Ireland, and shortly thereafter Sobranie was sold. Within a few years things began to change. Excellent mixtures disappeared, and non-smokers started breeding.

During the nineties taxes skyrocketed, and smoking became a vice.

Here in California laws were passed banning smoke from restaurants and bars. Now, restaurants are understandable. Tobacco doesn't add anything to good food; it is better enjoyed afterwards and elsewhere. But bars? Firstly, non-smokers ought not drink, it's bad for them. Secondly, children, Berkeleyites, weak-willed women, and other mental defectives shouldn't be allowed in bars, as they start too many fights and wreck the place. It's bad for business. Seriously, though, nobody goes to bars for their health, and children are never on the premises.
Keeping all schools, doctor's waiting rooms, public transit vehicles, health clubs, and restaurants smoke-free makes sense. Bars and sidewalks are a different matter, even if you did scoot into a cocktail lounge to get away from all the car-exhaust fumes on the street.

The rest of the world soon followed suit, as do-gooders everywhere took California as an example and pushed for more intolerance in their home countries. Governments dominated by their whores imposed penalties and red-tape on the tobacco industry, and in many places instituted programs to discourage production.
Many smaller manufacturers of high-quality blends and mixtures eventually sold their business, or simply folded, faced with a rising tide of of barriers, punitive legislation, and health-mafia sanctioned extortion.

There are very few pipe tobacco companies still left in Britain. Fortunately Germany and the Scandinavians are still strong, and we have several blenders in the United States whose efforts are through-the-roof stellar.
All of these have filled the holes left by the disappearances of veterans.
But the industry is more or less static; the pie is no longer growing.

European and American politicians are determined to raise as many barriers as they can, while maximizing bureaucratic revenue to obscene levels.

Pipe tobacco, once a major pillar of the trade, has shrunk to a mere percentage, and will no doubt fade even more over time.


THE END OF THE ENGLISH

I seriously doubt that the Brits could ramp up production. It would require a major investment in machinery and equipment, as well as sourcing a larger supply of basic tobaccos. These are harder to find, and given that they would have to be processed and aged specifically for the blends, it would take several years, especially when you consider that leaves are virtually unsmokeable for at least twenty months after harvesting (and optimum at two to four times that), and modern tobacco companies have adapted their methodologies to specific supplies and materials.
As an example, Samuel Gawith boasts enough high quality Latakia to last a decade, but only at current levels of production. The same holds for many other tobaccos, not just the prime condimentals.

Most Burley and Virginia is grown in Brazil and Africa specifically for the cigarette industry, which determines exactly what is produced, to what quality standards, and according to which "taste" profiles.

Turkish tobacco has become generic, rather than region and type specific. Most of it is destined for the cigarette industry (fields have been converted to Bright Leaf, and they now flue-cure it rather than sun dry, in addition to spraying the finished leaf with sugar for American style filter kings).

Latakia is limited to Cyprus, even though everyone claims to have Syrian. That boast is a load of horsepuckey; Syria produces almost nothing.
Cyprus is running out of combustibles for smoke-curing, and out of water because of increased agricultural and urban demand. The one thing you can count on is that Latakia will become scarcer over the next decade, and then probably disappear.

Perique? One area, and not the most profitable crop in that area.
Much of it is now bought by American Spirit.
For cigarettes. Not pipes.

By the time Greg Pease left Drucquers, many of the varietals that had been components of the famous blends there were no longer available.

In addition to availability, quality control has become a permanent issue. Remember Dunhills after BAT gave the blends to Murrays?
Stalks, stalks, stalks, crud, and really abysmal leaf.
But mostly stalks.

The Dunhill brand still hasn't recovered from what BAT did to the blends (farming them out, then off-shoring in Denmark). And several of the well-known Dunhill mixtures were not worthwhile for BAT to manufacture.
Balkan Sobranie is another prime example. Gallaghers diddled with the recipe so much over the years that it became a mere generic Balkan, and eventually not even cost-effective.

Many of the specific blending tobaccos can no longer be sourced, but the production values of the large conglomerates are not consistent with the quality demands of good pipe-tobacco either.
Nor is there any reason for that to change.

Pipe smoking is now a minute fraction of the trade.

Given that pipe smokers are barely icing on the cake for most tobacconists, and far less than that for the entire tobacco industry, the incentives for Germains, Samuel Gawith, Gawith Hoggarth, et autres, to keep steady and rely strictly on the supply lines and the markets that still exist outweigh any consideration of expanding and taking risks. If the proprietors of the remaining British stalwarts have extra capital, they've probably invested it wisely in many other industries as well as a portfolio of bluechips. And considering the uncertainties of regulatory laws and labelling, there is little point in increasing production.

It's inevitable that taxes and lung-cancer labels will lessen the number of smokers even further. The only expanding market is China, where pipe-smoking is seen as a luxury for the up-and-coming bourgeoisie. Even there, excepting Chinese grown flue-cured compost, all day smoking is becoming rarer. Eventually China will probably follow the route of Hong Kong and ban smoking in all offices, parks, and shopping malls, as well as doubling the taxes to discourage any but the hard-core addicts.

If tobacco blenders produced specialty coffees instead, they'd be in the cat-bird seat. As manufacturers in a mere niche of something which all governments in the first world are discouraging, they're holding their own in a dying industry.


Furthermore, tobacconists DO NOT NEED US. Cigar sales pay the rent, we don't. And cigarettes are well over ninety percent of the total market in any case. Cigarettes are far more efficiently produced than any pipe tobacco, and far more profitable with lower investment.

For any pipe-smoker, stashing favourite blends should become a way of life. By doing so, when we are old and decrepit, and the vicious Philippina nurses wheel us out to the designated smoking area four blocks away on a rainy winter day, we'll still be gracefully fuming in the cold and wet.
For heaven's sake, don't forget your umbrella.


By the way, I'm smoking one of my own concoctions right now. Everything that I like will eventually become unavailable, so it only makes sense to figure out how substitutions can be made.
In addition to stockpiling like crazy. I've got a thirty year supply which is still growing.
Mmmmm, Virginia.....


Eventually the whole world will become Berkeley.
And we'll all be miserable.



TOBACCO INDEX


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TOBACCO IS BENEFICIAL

A theme which has crept into my writing of late, like a whisp of second-hand smoke invading the nursery of an asthmatic infant from the deviant with a cigar in another apartment in the building -- two floors away and on the other side, just above the garbage cans -- is a profound dislike of marijuana. Even a revulsion towards cannabis, and all her aficionados.

This has irked a recent reader. Which was actually the point of the vociferization, and normally I wouldn't respond in any way, given that pot-smokers have very short attention spans and only cruise into this blog accidentally when they see something blinky while on facebook, but this time I might as well.

For the record: pot is not therapeutic, it's a drug.
Potsmokers are self-indulgent deviants.
Potheads are a waste of space.

Oh sure, pot alleviates symptoms of a number of ailments, because it can distract the patient, improve their appetite, and make them giddily happy. By that standard, rye whisky and sex are also medicines. Heck, so is heroine, and this too can be used for any amount of self-medication.
Spanking, for a fetishist, and torturing little animals, are no doubt also excellent in that regard.


The second-hand smoke from cannabis is quite the most offensive element on this planet, and the mere suspected presence of some selfish bastard (or bastardress) sucking down that disgusting substance fair makes my blood boil. Really, I long for the day when the cops would just put a bullet through their brains and dump their bodies with the radioactive waste out behind the community gardens. Pot, tie-dye, hippies, the grateful dead, and patchouli oil are all brain-poison, and should be smashed.

Instead of fighting useless wars bringing democracy to the psychopaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, we should have sent the Marines into the Emerald Triangle and turned the place into a waste-land. Eradicated all the damned potfarms and shot the natives. Planted miles upon miles sugarcane.
Killed them all and let the deity know his own.


Pot is a gateway drug that leads to pole-dancing, stripping, seduction of juveniles, and public onanism, whereas tobacco and cocktails merely inculcate good Christian values, hard work, and sober habits.

Why tobacco is despised is incomprehensible, and a great injustice.
Tobacco users contribute to society in many ways.
We also make great baby sitters.

Would you trust your toddler around a pot-head?
I think not!

Q.E.D.



In other news, San Raphael assembly member Marc Levine is a Yenta, the average young woman of this day and age is still messed-up, white-folks' tofu still stinks, Hello Kitty is a soul-sucking vampire, I'm wearing striped boxers, and I am presently smoking a fine old briar filled with pressed Virginia flake (and a touch of Perique).

Are there any questions?




TOBACCO INDEX



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Saturday, April 20, 2013

ISABEL MARANT AND THE KING OF QI

Earlier this month I was under siege from several vendors of shoes, boots, handbags, designer clothing, sneakers, sun-glasses, and other high-priced stuff, who all wanted, desperately needed, to seed the comments with their advertisements and their links. For nearly a week I waded through several hundred dense url-rich texts mentioning Michael Kors, Isabel Marant, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Guicci, Bvlgari, and more. Usually rather unreadable, and extremely transparent.

My blog has not a thing to do with any of that stuff.
Obviously the spam-bots failed to grasp that verity.

One comment, however, was utterly brilliant. Completely insane, but also most magically marvelous. And kudos to the berserk genius who wrote it.

I reproduce a large part of it here.


THE STATES OF QIN AND CHU

QUOTE: "Wu Yan continued and said that the states of Qin and Chu both progress and their armies are getting stronger. Our state is on a knife's edge, one side is life and the other is death but you are unaware of it, as you are stuck in your luxurious life style. King Xuan was dumb struck at these words and dismissed her isabel marant sneakers. However he continued to review her words and took her advice. He withdrew from his sheltered and luxurious life style and concentrated on improving the state of Qi isabel marant shoes. He looked for Wu Yan and offered her to be his concubine and so she is famously known as the ugly Concubine."
END QUOTE.

Well now.
I'm fascinated by the linking of ancient Chinese history with Isabel Marant footwear.This is something I had never even considered before.


齊宣王之醜女王后鍾無艷

King Xuan of Qi (齊) was one of the famous rulers during the Warring States period. The person known to history as the "ugly concubine" was Zhong Li-chun (鍾離春), who in her forties was yet unmarried (年過四十未嫁) . She is described as having a mis-shapen head, deep set eyes that were never-the-less protuberant, a long nose, and a presence withal frighteningly unappealing (貌醜), perilous indeed (殆哉!殆哉!).

In speaking to the king, she said: 今王之國,西有衡秦之患,南有強楚之讎,外有二國之難,一旦山陵崩弛,社稷不安,此一殆也。
[Today your nation bears the overweening pressure of Chin (秦) to the west, to the south Chu (楚) is bellicose; once the mountains fall, there will not be peace, (but instead) grave danger. ]

Upon hearing her words, the king realized the peril to his kingdom from his careless pursuit of pleasure, and as a first step closed the court women's musical academy. Subsequently he did away with fripperies and useless luxuries.
He then appointed Zhong Li-chun as foster mother (嫡母) to the crown-prince.


About King Xuan we know this: 孟子曰、 臣聞之胡齕曰、王坐於堂上、有牽牛而過堂下者、王見之、曰、牛何之。對曰、 將以釁鐘。王曰、 舍之、吾不忍其觳觫、若無罪而就死地。對曰、 然則廢釁鐘與。曰、 何可廢也。以羊易之。
[Mencius said: “I heard this from Hu-the gnawing ("bucktoothed Hu"), who said that you were in your great hall, and a fellow passed outside leading an ox. Upon seeing it, you asked his purpose. he responded that it was for a sacrifice to consecrate a bell. Whereupon you entreated him to release it, as you could not stand to see the misery in its face, which was like an innocent man going to be executed. The man then asked whether the consecration should be cancelled, and you answered : 'How can it possibly be forgotten? Substitute a sheep'!"]

The point of the substitution is not that King Xuan begrudged the expense, but that, having seen the intended victim, he could not bear that it should suffer. This is held up as an example of humane behaviour. The substitute sheep, we must presume, was kept out of his sight.

Of course, what we witness when reading Mencius is often hued diplomatically. The sage cannily couched his lessons with examples that would please his audience, even while they prompted introspection.

Qi arose in 1046 BCE as one of the vassals of Zhou (周). It was the last state to fall to Qin (秦), in 221 BCE.
King Xuan ruled from 319 BCE to 301 BCE.



Right about now, you are probably wondering what any of this has to do with Isabel Marant. Or fancy shoes. Well, nothing. At least not anything that I can figure out. There is no record in Mencius (孟子) or the Biographies of Famous Women (列女傳) of a single person in China wearing Isabel Marant much before the current age. Yet the spambot cunningly saw that this blog on occasion discusses matters Sinitic and historic, and attempted to join in the discussion. A valiant effort!

But entirely off the wall.

Bravo. But no dice.


I remain enchanted with the wondrous charm of the concept.
Isabel Marant and ancient Chinese History.
Subject for a seminar.


If you are in Hong Kong, and desire to purchase Isabel Marant, I would direct you to this address: 香港、中環、雪廠街、10號。
Number 10, Ice House Street, Central District, Hong Kong Island.
I believe that there might be a boutique there that you would like.



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