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.

Friday, May 31, 2013

THOUGHTS INSPIRED BY STEAMED FISH

When eating in Chinatown one gets to watch other diners. Which is part of the entertainment, but please don't stare.
Families are always fun to watch, especially now that children can play video games on cell-phones after they've sated their bestial passions. You might think that withdrawing so spectacularly and selfishly from the social hubbub of a shared meal would be frowned upon -- and indeed it is -- but this often keeps them quiet, and allows their parents to have a pleasant private conversation and thoroughly enjoy each other's company.
While entirely in public.

Just watching that table over at the far end of the room, I can tell that the sons will grow up to be anti-social engineering students and devious loners, whereas the little girl may end up as a brainsurgeon or a pilot. How very fortunate for her that when she marries, she becomes someone else's kin! She'll have a splendid excuse for never associating with her bratty brothers again.


There are different dynamics that inform the gustatory attitudes for males and females in the Cantonese world. Because of the idea that one should eat with others, males take it for granted that there will be someone with whom to eat, females assume that they will have to make a pretense of eating, while nevertheless playing second fiddle around the table. And while some women relish the prospect -- oh good, there is food, and I can have some, and talk a little bit, too -- many think of meals as obligatory, rather than primarily a source of joy. Except when they get to eat by themselves, in which case it's a delicious expression of stubbornness and pleasure, and they can eat whatever they want.
Boys, on the other hand, tend toward a casual assumption that their dining is a significant and praiseworthy social act, even a generous sharing of their time. The most likeable ones can always find friends with whom to go out and feast -- even if it's just shared stirfry and a tiny steamed fish at the only Cantonese restaurant in some Kansas college town -- and will gladly include other people (while unconsciously excluding some), as long as they all get to sit around the table making a communal racket.


Single women dining may regret the solitude -- though that isn't necessarily a given -- but they will be determined to enjoy the food. It's theirs, dammit, and it's yummy!
The solitary man often has an expression on his face that says he didn't play his cards right, life isn't supposed to be like this, where is everybody?

She enjoys every bite, even though there's far too much; he can't finish it all, he doesn't really have an appetite.


Oh heck, there's any number of operational themes to Cantonese people engaged in consuming food; not a single idea dominates, and many elements are utterly at war with each other. Suffice to say that eating occupies a much larger place in their social realm, and demands far more of their emotional investment, than it does for severe white protestants and people from places where the food is almost uniformly ghastly.
Pretty much everyone from the Ireland east to Siberia.
With some exceptions, of course.

Imagine, if you will, a Cantonese couple sharing a steamed fish, in a noisy crowded restaurant. She's thinking "that fish at the other table is much BIGGER!" While he thinks "this is MY fish..., oh wait no, ours.......... "
If they end up struggling for the bill (assuming that she's a liberated woman and insists on paying), she'll be thinking "next time we get the biggest dang fish they have here!" And he'll wrestle with the thought of ordering TWO fish, one of which he can take home and have for breakfast.

Of course, she might be wrestling with the same thought. Women are complex that way.

If a man really loves a woman, he'll let her have most of the fish, and almost all of the scallion and ginger crab, as well as the oysters with black bean and green pepper, while he makes a pretense of eating just so she doesn't feel guilty or self-conscious. And if she really loves him, she'll insist that he have this piece, and that, in between happily stuffing her face, while totally ignoring the other customers.

Especially that sour bunch of Mandarin speakers at the other table.

I still can't understand why those Northerners even came in. Only three of the seven ate anything. And two of them ordered food that couldn't be shared (wonton noodle soup, fried stick-noodle with beef).
Well, it COULD have been shared.
But it wasn't.


I had what I often order when I'm dining by myself.
Fish collops and bitter-melon over rice.
Plus far too much hot tea.

I really like crunchy vegetables.
But I also like fish.




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Thursday, May 30, 2013

TALK STORY - THE SECRET VISIT

If you're here for a bit of evening reading while all alone at home -- please ignore what sounds like discrete footsteps in the long, long hallway -- you could do worse than to browse through the narratives that lard this blog.
Not all of them are cosy and warm -- there's that faint whisper of a footstep again -- but they are as good an introduction to my world as any. And who knows, you might find something you like; a fluffy bunny drinking tea, or an amiable badger out for a stroll. Maybe even a sarcastic crow.
Or, softly softly softly, ghostly footsteps.
And tales of woe.


Click this LINK, it will bring up everything in the "talk-story" category, most recent exemplar first.


And do please feel free to leave me a comment.
It gets awfully lonely in my attic, listening for those footsteps creaking up the stairs and waiting for the water to boil in the saucepan suspended over the candle. It will be half an hour before I can have my tea! At least!
I'll have another swig of this home-made vodka while I wait.
There's something in here that causes hallucination.
I don't know what it is, but this isn't good.
I keep hearing footsteps.












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DREFVELIN NASTY

Sometimes the Scandinavians, those enlightened and right-thinking socially conscious intellectual people in the northern extreme of Europe, are so staggeringly clueless that it boggles the mind.

Consider as an example this enlightened and right-thinking cartoon which appeared in Dagbladet.


Gjesteserie: 20mg Drefvelin av Tomas Drefvelin,
tirsdag 28. mai. 2013










[Source: http://www.dagbladet.no/tegneserie/gjesteserie/20mgdrefvelin/?1369692000. Copyright (as far as I can tell): Dagbladet and Tomas Drefvelin.]


It appears to be a comment about circumcision. I'm not entirely sure where Tomas Drefvelin's head is at. I would suggest he do a little more reading and thinking before he jumps to any conclusions about Jewish and Muslim customs. Him and his uncut thinking organ.


While a claim could be made that the cartoonist may not have intended to be anti-Semitic, that is exactly what his drawing actually is. The man with the satanic pitchfork is wearing a hat and reading from scripture, the modestly dressed woman with a hair covering holds another volume.
These two individuals are portrayed as religious (det vil si: jøder), but not exceptionally foreign. There is absolutely no hint that they are anything other than people of the book.
The cartoon is reprehensible and vicious, but NOT xenophobic. Ergo it takes aim at only one group. Tomas Drefvelin may indeed not have consciously thought "Jew", but his pen did, and his audience will. No amount of re-interpretive spin by him or his editor can talk that away.

I need not discuss the blood of an infant, surely that trope has been beaten to death already, and it must be alive and well in the group subconscious of Scandinavians.


One the other hand, the two policemen look remarkably like Nazis. Which is contradictory. Is there another daemon hidden in mr. Drefvelin's sleep-mind that we should know about?


At the very least, this repulsive cartoon highlights that Norwegians are still far more dysfunctional than we could have imagined.
Must be the effect of family history.


NOTE: Jews aren't the only ones to circumcise male infants, many Gentiles in the civilized world do the same. But mr. Drefvelin stressed it as a vigtig del av tro.


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DEEP-FRIED KITTENS

When I cruised into the admin page of my blog today to see what people had been looking for that drew them to my blog, I was somewhat disappointed. Hardly surprised. Disappointed.

Three search entries stood out.


'Fat black hoes'

'Flatulent Chinese girls'

'Indians buttocks'


Each one represented the dreams and ideals of a single desperate searcher. Not to be too judgemental, but I am somewhat certain that all three of them were men.

White men.


I have never written anything about these subjects. Some web search programs are clearly not very good. And I have no idea what blogposts these three eccentric enthusiasts ended up reading.

There is a distinct possibility that their criteria were connected to medical research -- steatopygia and obesity, flatulence and diet, and the unhappy effects of too much ghee upon the subcontinental sit-upon -- but I do not hold out much hope.
I know what men, white men in particular, are like.
These were three rather bored men.
Who remained so.

I am saddened that life holds so little interest and excitement where they are that they must seek out stimulation on the internet. Possibly long after midnight, when all else has failed.
The internet is a wonderful thing, it can enrich people's lives.
Eventually they will find all the answers.
I encourage their quests.
Somewhere else.
Not here.


KITTEH LUV !

Personally, I use the internet solely for cute kitten pictures and recipes. And at some point I may combine the two into a wholesome feast for both the eyes and the stomach, very efficiently saving time.
Pussy sushi. Roast rump of fat young feline on a bed of herbs. Carbonade de chat-poussette. Fluffy en-croûte. Cuissot de félin braisé au cidre.
Ragoût de purr. I can beez cheezburger. Miao mix.
All very clean and wholesome.
In lovely photos.

Furry food porn.




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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

THE CANTONESE

The Cantonese are unlike other Chinese. This is largely the natural result of their history, which is one of wars, rebellions, and the grand adventure of settling a wild frontier.

Two thousand years ago their homeland was inhabited by savage tribes who were not part of the empire until general Ma Yuan (馬援 maa yuen) subjugated Nanman ( 南蠻 naam maan, "southward barbarians") and Jiaozhi (交趾 gaau ji, "intersecting footprints": extreme southern Kwantung and northern Viet) during the Han (漢朝 hon chiu 206 BCE – 220 CE).

[南蠻: The Nanman tribes included the Bai (白族 baak juk), Kinh (京族 king juk, Vietnamese), Miao (苗族 miu juk, Hmong), and Tai (傣族 daai juk. Thai and Tai), who at that time inhabited Kweichow (黔 Qian, 'Kim'; 貴州 kwei jau),Yunnan (滇 Dian, Tin; 雲南 wun naam), and Szechuan (蜀 Shu, Suk; 四川 sei chuen).]


The two Guangs (兩廣 leung gwong; twin expanses), which are modern-day Guandung ( 廣東 gwon tung; eastern expanse) and Guangxi ( 廣西 gwon sai; western expanse') provinces, along with Fujian (福建 fuk kin'; fortunate builds) and most of Chekiang (浙江 jit gong; twisty river) were at that time considered to be Viet (越 yuet). The term 'Viet' did not then refer to a people -- the Vietnamese are 'Kinh' -- but to a geographic area ('the boundary'), inhabited by various ethnicities of which fairly little trace remains, due to their having been overrun, outnumbered, and co-opted. Both the natives and their area were Sinified over a span of several centuries.

[越: Yuet means 'frontier', and is the first part of Vietnam (越南 yuet-naam, south of the border). The homophone 粵 is cognate, and refers to matters Cantonese. The various ethnicities were Fan (番), Man (蠻), Mang (芒), Mieu (苗), She (輋), and Yao (猺), among others.]

Nevertheless, elements of their cultural traits, and their genetic stock, contributed mightily to the "Chinese" who are today's 'Cantonese'.
The population in Lingnan (嶺南 ling naam; south of the five mountain ranges, in a narrow sense only the Cantonese area) shows a large proto-Thai genetic inheritance, and though they speak the cleanest descendant of the old Tang koine, and do have ancestral roots in the Central Plains (中原 jung yuen), they represent a long stabilized mixture of barbarian racial stock with Han (漢 hon), much like most of the north shows a similar leavening with Turk, Mongol, and Tungusic strains. Their language has been likewise enriched by locutions and phraseology which reflect the ancient tribes, whose racially and culturally mixed descendants were perhaps inclined to express themselves better than the rude colonialist.

All of this, of course, is ancient history. Though their DNA proves the past, in the present they are entirely Chinese. Except for the unassimilated Li (黎 lai) and Zhuang (壯 jong), in Guangxi and Hainan.
The accusation by snooty Mandarin speakers that the southerners are 'not really true Chinese' is as foundationless as the northern assertion that they themselves are 'pure'. Certain surnames betray barbarian ancestors in the heartland, and many dynasties and ruling houses were either part Turk, or entirely foreign; their blood flows in every vein north of the passes.
Like all metropolitan civilizations, China represents an amalgam of genes drawn inward by the magnetism and vigour of a succesful central society.

[Note: The written character for the Zhuang people was originally 獞, composed of the signific 犭(dog) and the phonetic 童 (boy, servant). After the Communists took over, this name was considered demeaning, and first changed to 僮, in which the dog ( or 犭) has been changed to a human (人or 亻). Later it was replaced entirely with a homophonous character (壯) meaning 'strong'.]

For the first several centuries of Chinese rule in the southlands, the barbaric tribes on the frontiers were becalmed by canny administrators who rewarded chiefs with trinkets, status objects, and official ranks, offered to educate the sons of local notables -- thus giving them a language in which they were more literate than they could ever be in their tribal tongues -- and shared the benefits of more efficient rule generously. By the time of Tang (618 to 906) the territories had long been tranquilized, and though still sparsely settled by peoples now wholly 'sinicised' despite their barbarian ancestry, the region presented an inviting prospect for people desperate to get away from excessive taxation, corvee, overpopulation, and the far-too-frequent all-encompassing corruption and moral rot of the central areas.
Lingnan was flooded by smugglers, pirates, dissidents, tax-dodgers, whores, incendiarists, and entrepreneurs, in a stream that continued nearly unabated till the fall of the Ming (朙朝) in the seventeenth century. As they acclimatized, they furthered the co-optation and absorption of whatever tribal elements still remained. Large parts of the southern coast were still barbaric five centuries ago, presently all is "Chinese". Though a few people are only ten or eleven generations descended from a dubious ethnic minority, they are racially and culturally quite indistinguishable from their peers, who often represent older strains of creolization and a longer history of genetic mixing.

Canton and the Cantonese are a cocktail. The dominant liquor is Chinese, but the Vermouth is something other.



誰憐越女顏如玉,貧賤江頭自浣紗
["Who considers the girl from Viet ("粵女") with the jade-like face, washing her silk in solitude at the stream?"]

That line from a poem by Wang Wei (王維 wong wai, 692 - 761) written over a thousand years ago is, perhaps, peculiar today, given that it speaks of a looser and far less Chinese period in Chinese history. The ruling dynasty in his day was half Turk, as were many of the scholar-officials and notable families of the empire, yet many of the natives of the vast southland were never the less considered not quite 'us' by the myopic upper classes.

Wang Wei's metaphor of separation, wildness, and humble circumstance belies the truth that the south was richer and more verdant, and historically the source of luxuries much envied in the arid regions anent the Turco-Mongol wastelands. Lichees and tangerines, as just two examples, were hastened to the imperial court by couriers on horseback, so that the effete aristocrats could indulge. Fragrant woods, pearls, exotic fabrics, and a multitude of culinary delicacies came from Lingnan and were highly prized. It is no wonder that when Tang's successor Sung bent to another barbarian onslaught, the imperial court fled ever south, at last falling to the enemy in the waters off Kowloon.

[When the Mongols invaded, officials took the nine year old prince Zhao Shi (趙昰 chiu si) and his seven year old brother Zhao Bing (趙昺 chiu bing) first to Fuzhou (福州 fuk jau) in Fujian (福建 fuk kin), where the older brother was crowned emperor upon the death of their father in the capital Linan (臨安 lam on, modern day Hangzhou (杭州 hong jau) in 1276. Then, when the Mongols broke through the Sung defences in 1277 and took that city, the court headed to Guangzhou (廣州 gwong jau), finally ending up at Matauwai (碼頭圍) in Kowloon (九龍 gau lung). Upon Zhao Shi's demise from a lingering ailment in 1278, Zhao Bing was enthroned. In 1279 the remnants of Sung perished in the Naval Battle of Yamen (崖山海戰 ngaai saan hoi jin) near Lantau Island (大嶼山 daai yü saan), the tides subsequently depositing hundreds of thousands of corpses on the shores up and down the coast. It is said that the body of the boy emperor was found near Shekou (蛇口 se hau) in Shenzhen (深圳 sam jan) north of Hong Kong, though it is not known where he is buried. There's a memorial rock-inscription commemorating the last two princes of Sung near Matauwai, which was severely damaged by the Japanese (倭 waai, another tribe of fractious barbarians) during WWII.]



TESTICULARITY

Given that past, it should not surprise you that in the present the Cantonese are the most adventurous of the Chinese. Their cuisine is more varied and interesting than anything the north knows, their transplanted representatives have settled in the most distant lands, and their mode of expression veers lyrically between eloquent fantasy, sneering outrage, and ribaldly unprintable invention. The very first fluent sentence an outsider is likely to learn is either a statement regarding the reproductive organ of someone's mother and its noteworthy olfactory characteristic, or a phrase containing an action verb and an elderly maternal relative.

[Such linguistic aptitude is often the reason that the Chinese subtitles for Mandarin speakers underneath Hong Kong movies seem unusually short; was everything even translated, or is Mandarin able to get by with less? The answer is no. The vast toxic flow of verbal filth will have been rendered into the northern tongue with one oblique three word phrase, representing not one whit of the colour and verve with which the native speaker expresses himself. It's rather sad.]

One imagines that the rebels who populate the pages of Cantonese history probably utilized those locutions, as well as ever more creative variants, in their long resistance to all manner of invaders and tyrants from the north. The Canton area has been the birthplace of more revolutionaries and disturbers of faecal matter than anywhere else in the country, and the heroes still sung about today were all at one point wanted men. Perhaps that was inevitable, when for centuries the imperial court used the place as a dumping ground, exiling scholars and officials who did not toe the party line to the far south to succumb to malaria and other tropical diseases.

Su Tungpo, to name just one famous example, was sent south in 1094. After six years during which he did not die, he was finally pardoned - only to perish on the road home. His accomplishments were myriad, his poetry and prose have been a treasure for all the generations since.

The near-constant fertilizing of the territory with literate men who failed to bend has left a tradition of obstinacy and stubbornness in Canton that outshines any amount of pig head rigidity elsewhere. And yet these are the most flexible of individuals, infinitely adaptive to circumstance.

The population of Guangdong are by long inheritance smugglers, scholars, brigands, poets, and pirates. And, it must be said, often remarkably casual about decorum, public order, and legal niceties.
If a crowd of northerners is a mass or a mob, a collection of Cantonese is, quite naturally, a conspiracy.


The typical Cantonese person does not whine about getting caught breaking the law - instead, they'll resolve to be a far better criminal next time.

And, if you're Cantonese, there's ALWAYS a next time.





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THE IDEAL WOMAN IS MARRIED

As you know, this blogger is mildly peeved that his love life ended suddenly and completely a few years ago. Not entirely surprised, because despite my own high estimation of myself, I realistically admit that I am not exactly the best fish in the pond. Not what most women think of, to say the least.

I've also realized that all of the nicest female persons I know, women whom I regard as wonderful individuals with all the right characteristics, plus brains and very intriguing personalities, people who are engaging and vibrant to boot, have ONE crucial flaw.

They're hitched. Or they were, and have little intention of being so again.

You'll agree that for them, that is very fortunate.
There are single men like me out there.


I might as well describe them.

SPECIMEN ONE

Smokes and drinks. Intelligent, has read many books and seen a huge number of movies, about which she has informed opinions. Footwear preference, as near as I can tell: Jimmy Choo. I thoroughly enjoy her and her husband's company, because they are gentle and witty, and have great consideration for other people. They'll put up with the weirdnesses of others without smacking them down (I've seen this), and they have genuine curiosity about the lives and pursuits of their friends.

SPECIMEN TWO

Still pursuing a scientific career full-time, has exceptional perseverence, and a very keenly curious mind. Plus a husband and children. I cannot over-emphasize the sharp wit of this one.
Probably the best mother intelligent little boys could have.
An avid reader, and a women's libber of magnitude.
Often makes extremely accute observations.

SPECIMEN THREE

A very small woman. Over eighty years old, and a widow. Insightful, thoughtful, gentle. She has travelled fairly extensively at this point, which she still does, and she still posesses an exceptionally active mind. You can tell that back in the day she was a stunner, and probably lively too.

SPECIMEN FOUR

Witty, strongminded, and social. Honest and straightforward; an outgoing person, interested in all manner of things and people, and possessed of a common-sense attitude.
Other than the fact that she's a Christian and a grandmother I can't think of anything wrong with her.
She's considerate and thoughtful to her friends.
Not a resident of the Bay Area.

SPECIMEN FIVE

Heavy accent, and a sharp mind. Knows the coffee and tea trade better than anybody employed at Starbucks, and a dab hand at running a business. Very patient with demanding people, even the idiots.
Even-tempered, culinarily aware, and happily retired.

SPECIMEN SIX

Stocky non-English-speaking mother of dilligent high-school students. Has a wicked gleam in her eye. Understanding, politely considerate, firm hand with the kids, who are fine reflections of her and her husband. The two of them gave their children an excellent upbringing.
A very determined woman.
Medicocre cook.

SPECIMEN SEVEN

Petite bespectacled grandmother. Keen head for numbers. Very capable. Nobody's pushover, with an independent and engaging mind. Her kids are all college graduates with decent careers. She still has a taste for cocktails, though. As well as pizza.
Has been known to live it up.
Riotously.

SPECIMEN EIGHT

Married, part-time store clerk. Engaging personality, funny, and smoothly efficient. Unlike her husband and kids, she loves spicy food, and knows way more about hot-sauce and chilipeppers than is healthy. I believe she represses her fondness for fried-foods somewhat. Has a clean voice that even when she speaks loudly does not grate.
I've never heard her swear, but I have no doubt that she knows the words; she's nobody's fool.
Very nimble fingers, no cash register errors.
Exceptional memory for names.

SPECIMEN NINE

Mother, waitress, all round good person. Not a very outgoing personality, but kind and calm. Remarkably understanding, though I suspect she can be easily wounded. Explains things clearly, even when they do not concern food; asks intelligent questions, even when the subject being discussed does not involve food. She could really have been so much more in life, but she took the ball that was given her and ran with it.


dot.dot.dot.


In looking over this list, it strikes me that the perfect person is alert, curious, and herself fascinating without realizing it. A woman with her own mind.
Definitely someone who investigates things, and does not shy away from the unknown.
Both stubborn and gentle.
All of the women above are quite unaware that those who associate with them derive greater pleasure from their company by far than they themselves can possibly get from talking with us.
In a way it's a form of social innocence.

They're very nice to know.


Dammit.



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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

MATURE MEN AND COLD WEATHER

It's finally happened. My apartment mate's teddy bear has lost her marbles. For over a week now, she has been exclaiming "must kill, must kill", in a crazy obsessive tone. And, sadly, it is my apartment mate's fault; she has been spending way too much time with her boyfriend, totally neglecting the teddy bear who is her oldest friend in the world.

In order to maintain a semblance of peace and sanity in the apartment, the senior teddy bear has been staying over on my side, along with the control monkey -- a very nice bloke -- and the she-sheep with the little pink bows has taken over as head-roomie. It's all rather disturbing. Unnerving, even.


You heard it here first: middle-aged women with boyfriends are trouble.
Quite unlike middle-aged men with no love-interests whatsoever.
WE are quite normal. Refreshingly so. No neuroses at all.
And I am the very epitome of mental stability.


It's been rather interfering with my smoking habits. The cardinal rule is that the senior teddy bear should never EVER smell sooty, or have even the merest whiff of tobacco funk clinging to her. All hell will break loose if that happens. So I cannot fume indoors as much as I would like, and it's a little too chilly outside at times to toddle on out in my jammies for a leisurely pipeful around the block. Consequently I have been hiding in the kitchen a lot, fixing myself cups of warm milk-tea while puffing on my briars.

It's a bit lonely in there by myself.


If someone with a nice stuffed bunny were to offer me sanctuary, I would not say no. But the crucial thing is that neither she nor her bunny should object to the smell of a pipe. At least not too much.
Oh, and both of them have to be utterly sane.

This blogger craves normalcy.




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Monday, May 27, 2013

NOT YOUR PARENTS KARAOKE

One of my friends had asked about my musical tastes, and I mentioned melodic offerings discovered through the kind assistance of e-kvetcher, during the subsequent discussion.
I cannot say that I listen to standard stuff, but I am not alone.
Youtube proves that.

Largely because of e-kvetcher I ended up finding Vulgargrad's rendition of Limonchiki.


OH, MY TINY LEMONS!


[source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgzbbdFK-2o.]

The song is NOT about lemons, in case you were wondering.


The rendition below by Alex Kopyt is quite different.

ALEX KOPYT & THE AMSTERDAM KLEZMER BAND


[Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_L6nNEClQgo.]


E-kvetcher once posted a link to cake.
Cake is good.


Here are two good examples of e-kvetcher's further musical taste. Or curiosity. Interesting stuff in any case.

TWO JEWS


[Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0sv3IwghxM.]


SPACE BONG


[Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2m4al7W_0Vk.]


Other than Odessan-Russian gangster rap and klezmoric oddities from Mokum Alef, my musical tastes run to Zydeco, Cajun, drunken Irishmen, Cantonese opera, Mandarin nightclub oldies, both country AND western, and altogether a jolly pleasing racket.


Such as this thing here:

BATHROBED MEN - ON HORSEBACK!


[Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYqB-ukh5Qc&feature=related.]


And naturally, evil subversive stuff.

COMMUNISISISTIC HIPPOPOTATATATAMUS!


[Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5I-RTRBua0&feature=related.]



Lastly, a bunch of men in uniforms tromping through deep snow in the Hakkōda mountains.
I find it very inspiring.

YUKI NO SHINGUN


[Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfvCqGV3itE.]

"Yuki no Shin-gun, kori o funde.....  "





Oh what the heck. One more. The Aikoku Koshinkyoku, composed by Setoguchi Tōkichi.

愛国行進曲


[Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2CpcztEOSrs.]





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THE FULFILLING BACHELOR EXISTENCE

One must always encourage the female of the species to eat. Women, left to their own devices, will neglect food until the urge for something greasy and deepfried takes over. At which point there is just no dealing with them. Either that or they fall back on the old two-pint bucket of peanut-brickle icecream at three o'clock in the morning, when everyone else in the house is asleep, and the only sounds are gentle snoring from one room, and wet creamy lip-smacking noises from another.
It is very sad.

I am convinced that there is no other basis for the masculine - feminine relationship dynamic than food. Men are born scroungers; we'll head into the kitchen or the pizza parlour whenever we're peckish, and either find some three-day old tuna salad and Ritz Crackers, or order a pepperoni and anchovy special with bell peppers, in one of four convenient sizes.

Medium, Large, Xtra Large, Hovercraft.

But when a hungry woman is part of the equation, we tend toward a more balanced diet. "Have some vegetables", we will say when she goes for her third helping. As well as "here, some more rice and chilipaste -- it's filled with vitamin C, you know".
It's our nurturing side. We must have a female to make it bloom.
We're also pretty good at buying peanut-brickle icecream.
Provided we're not the only ones eating it late at night.


BACHELOR DIET

Most women will understand the tendency to indulge in tasty nutritious snacks and staged little dinners, once it is explained to them. And with proper cultivation, they will stop buying Fritoes Big Family Pallet of Grease-O-Crispadoodles every month, when they wake up from their long naps. Or cruising the internet for shoes, handbags, love and affection, and details of the private lives of real housewives of New jersey and Orange County.

Truth be told, women are natural bachelors, and it's a cruel irony of fate that they, and not the warmly embracing and supportive male of the species, are the procreative sex.
The only reason they tolerate the little buggers that spring from their loins is because it distracts men. And it gives them an excuse to buy the two-pint buckets of peanut-brickle ice cream.
"Surely," they opine, "a growing boy needs peanuts?"
And indeed there are tons of peanuts.
In that bucket of icecream.
It's nutritious.

The proof of the pudding is that I haven't had any peanut-brickle icecream in a very long time; as a single man, there is no motivation to buy it.
No three o'clock in the morning woman.
No growing boy requiring peanuts.
Nor Fritoes Crispadoodles.
Despite the protein.

I live on a rich nutritious diet of pizza and three-day old tuna salad.
Plus Ritz Crackers, anchovies, rice, and chilipaste.
I sleep soundly at night.
Vegetables.



I am obsessed with icecream.




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Sunday, May 26, 2013

FILL YOUR FACE WITH FOOD!

One of the most attractive personality traits a person can have is culinary curiosity, a willingness to explore and experiment. What does it taste like? Is it interesting? What on earth IS it? Sadly, such inquisitiveness is not common. If you mention fishballs, bitter melon, and dried oysters, for instance, to most people, their little faces will scrunch up in childlike anguish or totally blank moo expressions. They have never heard of it, it sounds NASTY, and they refuse to even think of trying it!
"Do you have burgers?", they will ask.

Or, if they've got issues, "do you have veggie burgers?"

[Opus the Penguin in Bloom County might request a herring burger instead. Extra mayo. Considering that he is a waterfowl, this is natural. And herring is godlike.]

Some of my best friends are indeed vegetarian, but their issues are primarily kashrus-related, and involve avoiding treif as well as the unnecessary cruelty to farm-animals for which agri-business is known.
And given that notably the European food industry does not seem to grasp the difference between pork, lamb, beef, or horsemeat, a certain amount of caution is not unjustified.
Anybody with kashrus or halal concerns is probably better off heading into vegetarian territory anyway, and the same goes for existential penguins.

Which, in Chinatown, may be difficult. Even those restaurants which serve vegetarian dishes will usually have vast scads of pork on the premises.
The pig, to the Chinese, is a marvelous beast.
Like ancient Celts, Cantonese people consider hogs magical.
A very fundament of civilized life.

[Little etymological note: the Chinese character for family (家) shows a pig (豕、豖) under a roof (宀). As graphemes go, it is extremely telling .]

By Chinatown standards, a restaurant that doesn't serve meat ('pig') is not really a restaurant. It's probably a place for white folks and Buddhists.
Or even white Buddhists.
What an extremely silly combination!


LET'S EAT!

The very idea of going out to sup with other people suggests variety. Chicken, duck, meat, seafood, and at the very least a textural dish comprised (mostly) of vegetable matter to round out the taste spectrum and complete the mouth-feel range.Definitely a starch of some sort, and perhaps also a soup and something deepfried.
And food must be shared; what's the point of everyone hogging their own plate and not at least tasting something else?

It has been a long time since I went out to eat with others. The last time was with folks from the office (which closed in November), and we had burgers.
Some people had vegan burgers.
No herring.

It's hard to get everyone on the same page as regards eating together, let alone the same plate. perhaps the best that can be hoped for is just one other person. Someone with a quirky willingness to try something new.
If I knew of a place with squid burgers, I'd definitely want to find someone else to invite along. That way we could also order a plate of salad in case the "meat" was not what we expected.
Or head over to Chinatown for some real food.


Just thinking at random, there's quite a lot of it.
And it can be happily shared.
See anything you like?

咖喱魚蛋、涼瓜豬肉、燒豬肉河粉湯、南乳豬手、椒鹽炸雞翼、叉燒、姜葱腰花、蠔油生菜、燒乳鴿、蝦醬芥蘭、咸菜炆豬肉、蒸海參扣、蒸滑雞、燒鴨、蝦球帶子粥、梅菜扣肉、咸魚肉餅、雪菜肉、排骨蒸飯、蔥花炸蠔、雲吞湯麵、炒肉絲、蒸五花腩、燒鵝、蒸水蛋、蒸魚、咖喱魷魚、薑蔥龍蝦、滷水鴨、豉油雞。

Heh.
I don't think they have squid burgers, though. That's strictly a white thing.
Much like vegan food.


慢慢食,吓。



NOTE: The Chinese term for fishball is 魚蛋 (yü daan), bitter melon is 苦瓜 (fu gwaa) or 涼瓜 (leung gwaa), dried oysters are 蠔豉 (ho si). The hamburger becomes 漢堡包 or 漢堡飽 (hon bou bau), that being a 'Han fortress bun'.
Kosher is 符合猶太教教規的食物 (fu hap yau taai gaau gaau kwai dik sik mat), "according with Judaic customs edibles". Halal is 符合清真教教規的食物 (fu hap ching jan gaau gaau kwai dik sik mat), "according with Islamic religious regulation edibles".

Respectively 猶太潔食 (yau taai git sik) and 清真食 (ching jan sik) for short.

Veganism, besides being quite ridiculous, is 純素食主義 (suen sou sik chu yi), "purely vegivorous ideology".



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SAN FRANCISCO'S SUPERIORITY TO EVERYWHERE ELSE

On occassion this blog veers into political commentary. Not often, because rabid hysterics on the right and insane schizos on the left have by their combined forces made it madness to engage.
Never-the-less.

I ran across a book-review recently that made interesting points.

QUOTE:
"If it makes no sense for women to side with the Marxist-Islamic alliance against Israel, it makes even less sense for homosexuals to do so. Chesler explains, "In Palestine and in the Arab Islamic Middle East, real homosexuals are tortured and murdered and must flee for their lives, as must girls and women whose sexual purity is suspect". Yet placards reading "Queers for Palestine" have appeared in demonstrations against McDonald's and elsewhere. Leftists, in Europe and elsewhere, have been insensitive to the loss of life suffered by Israel. "In one instance," writes Chesler, "a Norwegian medical researcher refused to sell certain medical materials to her Israeli counterpart; in another instance, Finland refused to sell the Israeli government gas mask kits". When Islamic clerics call for the death of Jews everywhere, when Jews are attacked not only in Israel but in Europe, leftists don't notice."
Source: http://www.jochnowitz.net/Essays/Chesler.html.


Here in the Bay Area most of the anti-war movement throughout the Bush years proudly marched alongside anti-Semites, bigots, and mysogynists, entirely uncaring that welcoming the slope-brows and retrogrades into their ranks devalued everything else they allegedly stood for. Far left activists took over the movement, injected their poison into every part, and, if there was just one doctrinal point they insisted on, it was condemnation of Israel.

Frankly, the entire anti-war movement stank. The refusal to speak out against bullshit from their own ranks, no, even the wholehearted and unthinking support of same if it came from a spotless ideologue or a person of colour or creed, made a mockery of their ideals. If it can be said that the rightwing in this country don't even understand one iota of the constitution and weltbild of our founding fathers, it must also be said that the left do, and reject it.

The Bay Area is ground zero.


San Franciscans often preen themselves on their being so very much like Europe, unlike the rest of the country, which they aver is filled entirely with ignorant rednecks and boors. The rest of the country does indeed have a sickening plenitude of teabaggery and know-nothingism.
But our San Franciscan overlap with European standards and norms is nothing to boast about. The Stalinism that slaughtered millions, and the Naziism that still bubbles underneath the surface, is also quintessentially European. Book burning is European. Rigidity is European.
Doctrinaire constipation is European.
San Francisco is full of it.

Our "Europeanism" is NOT the sunny cultural richesse of the Mediterranean world -- Italy, France, and Iberia -- but the shrunken testicled clench-arse narrowmindedness of Scandinavia, the Germans, and Britain.
Or, possibly, the Scots.



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Saturday, May 25, 2013

OBSCENE BRUNCH PROPOSITION

My weekend is busier than the rest of the week. Several hours of intense involvement in something smelly, whereupon the more flexible days arrive again. An enjoyable routine.  And one which, on the smelly days, brings a fair amount of human contact.  With equally smell-involved persons.
Everyone needs human contact; without it we go nuts.
We are social animals, and not loners.
Isolation damages us.

Hypothetically, being involved in a bloody riot is human contact, and so is watching sports on television with a whole host of screaming yowling sportsfans getting drunk on visions of spandex and pompoms.
Arguably human.

The discerning and intelligent social animal naturally prefers something else. A connection with more interesting and thoughtful creatures.
If the available choices were limited to rioters, jocks, and, let us say, crows, this blogger would predictably choose the crows.
They too are social animals, keen problem solvers, and gregarious to boot. And, icing on the cake, immensely curious birds. Curiosity is a likable trait, very admirable.
One cannot but like the inquisitive mind.
Or problem solving.

Crows, however, are keenly aware of their limitations. They've realized that human beings do not communicate well, and as tool-users of enormous size have an unfair edge. Leverage and opposable thumbs. Even if they wanted to share a meal with us, we'd probably hog the pigeon carcass and deftly rip it to pieces with our forks or chopsticks before they got their fair share. And, truth be told, humans rarely wish to share dinner with the crows.

We actually resent their communicative ability, "diffently-abled" dexterity (especially as regards forks or chopsticks), and delicacy of dimension.

Which, probably, explains why this box of cookies is quite un-openable. Earlier I would have asked "what sick mind makes a child-proof cookie container", and "why, lord, why", but I think I've figured it out. Trader Joe's has understood that as a gregarious social animal, I am likely to share these tasty Almond Windmill Cookies with the local avian geniuses, and wishes to prevent that. At any cost.
Humans, in the eyes of Trader Joe, should share with humans.
That is why I have little choice but to wait.
The plastic box is "crow proof".
It can't be opened.


Oh well, I guess I'll now head over to the cigar bar to have a smoke with the frenzied sportsfans, all screaming and yowling while having orgasms inspired by big male booties in spandex.
Not quite what I had in mind, but there is little choice.
Damned unattainable cookies!


Tuesday or Wednesday I'll have the time and opportunity to figure out how to open this box of cookies. They are very delicious. I could share them with someone who knows the method whereby the lid may be pried off, if they were to volunteer. For instance, a lovely bright-eyed woman with the curiosity and problem-solving ability of a crow. Together we can do it!
No forks or chopsticks required, even though I'm a tool-user, but someone closer to my own size, and equally deficient in corvid communicative abilities, would probably be advisable.

If she really wanted a pigeon carcass, that could be arranged.
Not quite my taste, but hey, whatever floats the boat.
Some women probably like dead pigeon.
I have a flexible mind.

You can have all of the dead pigeon.
No really. I don't need it.
It's yours.




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Friday, May 24, 2013

GENEROUS RICE PORRIDGE

If you really think about it, rice porridge (粥 jook) is a man's preference. Women of appetite are more likely to go for something salty-greasy.
They're carnivores (肉食性類 yiuk sik sing leui), whereas men are more refined (斯文啲 si man di) and gentle (柔順 yau seun).
You don't believe me?
你唔信嘅?

Then please explain The Real Housewives of Orange County. Those girls are piranhas (水虎魚 sui fu yü). If they had cleavers (好大嘅厨用肉刀 ho daai ge chü yong yiuk dou), they would've eaten each other by now.

Project Runway?
Meanest and most brutal bitches in Christendom.

The reason why men like rice porridge is because it's so suggestive of the good things in life.
Cream (奶油 nai you), wholesome grains (五穀 ng guk), sweetness (甜味 tim mei), paperhangers' paste (壁紙黏物 bik ji jim mat).
Ivory (好白的象牙 ho paak dik jeung ngaa), purity (特純 dak seun), mom's cooking (家常菜 gaa seung choi).
Comfort (冷暖同慰籍 laang nuen tong wai jik), friendship (友誼 yau yi), warmth (慰情 wai jing).
Women (女人 neui yan).


Imagine then, for purely academic purposes (because it will never happen), an innocent young lady (一個好淑嘅家庭女 yat go ho suk ge gaa ting neui) indulging in a big bowl of rice porridge. With lean pork (瘦肉 sau yiuk) and dried oysters (蠔豉 ho si).


蠔豉瘦肉粥 HO SI SAU YIUK JUK

Carefully, tenderly, she drew the warm bowl closer to her, with great greed inhaling the luscious fragrance, the steam of its very essence. How beautiful! The minced scallion atop the porridge provided a jade counterpoint to the pale and almost translucent nephritic content, like marble in its purity.
Underneath the surface the fragments of meat were barely visible, and occasional darker shapes betrayed the dessicated bivalve.
She lifted her porcelain spoon and dipped it, drawing forth the merest moutful of the creamy goodness. Mmmmmmmmm!

Hot, but so very good. It needed a touch of white pepper. After agitating the shaker over the bowl, she swirled the thin film of grey with her spoon, forming vortices of spice. She leaned forward, and dipped-in slowly and repeatedly, taking care that her utensil should not gather too much; she didn't want to burn her lips. The smooth rice gruel filled and soothed, her tongue tasting the subtle flavours and feeling the soft textures. A bead of sweat, unnoticed, trailed down a velvety cheek, paused trembling on her chin, and silently joined the liquid below, adding a secret savoury private note to her simple supper.

The dried oysters had become soft, almost creamy, yet were still richly flavourful and densely meaty. Their briny saveur had mingled with the demulcerous suspension, and the tender pork had likewise benefitted from that shared generosity. Strands of slivered ginger added their excitement, and scallion contributed a sharp grassy depth on the edge of taste.
With each luxurious spoonful she became happier and more content. Truly, this was the pillar of life. What could possibly be more comforting than a bowl of rice porridge?
Whether cold winter day, or sultry summer evening, naked after the bath or fully clothed (because one had to wear something!), alone or with dear friends......... Each day should have this sweetness, and every meal should be so languid and so gentle!

Her face was flushed and glowing when she finished eating, and her delicate eyebrows dimpled in unconscious disappointment that her pleasure had ended so soon. Yet it had been a marvelous lunch! How wonderful to have this available so close to work, and how very sad that her office-mates stubbornly remained both clueless and ignorant of this pure delight!


******


I don't know about you, but I'm all excited now. In my mind's eye I envision myself observing this across the table from me, while I take satisfaction with a cup of milk-tea (一杯奶茶 yat pui naai cha). And I know just the right restaurant (茶餐廳 cha chan teng) where this could happen. I wonder if they'd be willing to fold chunks of fresh lobster (龍蝦 lung haa) into the rice porridge instead? With some ginger (碎薑 seui geung) and scallion (青蔥 ching tsung), and a restrained drizzle of sesame oil (麻油 maa yau), it would be a total sensory overload, most delicious!




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Thursday, May 23, 2013

BRITISH PUB YOBBOS

About two hundred and fifty racists got drunk at The Queen's Arms pub on Burrage Grove in Woolwhich last night. Now, many Americans have a soft spot for British public houses, but truth be told that's often where the very worst behaviour is on display, and where the brutal underclass of British society vents its coarser tendencies.
While getting stinko like a bunch of true alcoholics.
And becoming belligerent.

This is, in fact often welcomed by the publicans. Many British public house proprietors consider a pack of cretinous thugs not only acceptable clientele, but a welcome addition as regulars, because they encourage each other's consumption of beer and discourage mild drinkers and foreigners.
Nothing quite says "happy days" like Yobbism.


LINK EDL LINK


This blogger avoids pubs. I have seen what drunken Brits are like. It is not a pretty sight, as the natives of far too many European metropoles can attest, having been subjected to swarms of them whenever the local soccer teams host the English.

Civilised people do NOT go to pubs.
Violent thugs, however, do.


The only Americans who would be welcome at The Queen's Arms in Woolwhich are probably Pamela Geller and her dubious ilk.




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NEXT MEETING OF THE MIDDLE-AGED GENTLEMENS' TEA PARTY SOCIETY

You must know that this blogger seeks the company of his own kind. And, having read this blog several times now -- because there was absolutely NOTHING on teevee, and baseball bores you -- you rather wonder what that kind is. Does it consist of small stocky gentlemen with furry snouts who live in burrows out on the moors? Perhaps gnomish underwear collectors, boldly leaping with deft ability from highrise to highrise while stealing freshly laundered panties? Elderly Scots gits afraid of rabbits?
Or a sickening combination of all the above?

The answer is "yes". Or "no". And the point is that unless you are part of our highly secretive Masonic conspiracy, you will NEVER find out. We meet in darkness, in the dank corridors underneath your luxury apartment block on the upper slopes of Nob Hill. There are strange emblems on the wall. George Bush senior is a member. Except he wears a wig when he's here, because his security detail is stark raving paranoid.

The member roster is full. No further candidates will be considered till several of us croak. Don't even bother.

But on the bright side, the Women's Auxiliary is quite depleted. We're even considering accepting feminine personages of the barely out of high school type. Of course they'd have to be quite intelligent -- nobody seriously wants to have a conversation with a flighty blonde ditz, or a collector of Hello Kitty tat -- as well as perspicacious and habitual readers of good and interesting literature and reference books. Calm young ladies, more mature than their years would hold, with glasses and bright inquisitive eyes. Little misses who could feistily hold their own in any conversation, or with daemonic genius guide the discussion into realms that us crusty old farts know naught of.  Evil trickstresses!

If they're shorter than most of us, no problem. As long as they have sound judgement and an independent attitude. No bland little bitties! No spongy cottonwool brains! We demand stimulating women, who can sneer with the best of them, and back up their disdain with well-reasoned (or at the least eloquently impassioned) arguments! Women, in other words, of the small and huggable brainiac variety. Ladies who like hanging out with old-geezers because we are more hesitant about making a play, yet have utterly no reservations regarding verbal mayhem.

If you cannot hold your own, we will not hold it for you.
You've got a mouth and a brain, use them.
A witty wicked tongue is a plus.


In the long run, poinky tits like the real housewives of where-ever have are not an asset. They do not sustain a debate, nor hold a lengthy interest. As rhetorical attributes go, they just don't count for very much. We've been around, we've indulged in idiot college-boy fantasies, and we were excessively stupid once like most young men today.
That was once. This is now.

We're older, and more mature. Calmer, too.

The Women's Auxiliary needs members. If you join, we will give you tea. And a choice of cigars. Macanudo Vintage 97, Partagas double coronas, or Padron box-press. We have Toros, Perfectos, and Churchills.
More to the point: Assam, Ceylon, Darjeeling, Dragon Well, Ti Kuan Yin, Lok On, Jade Snail Spring, and Hairy Crab King.
And many many others. Plus cookies.
Lots and lots of cookies!


The next meeting might be a sparsely attended affair. I think all of the other members are desperately chasing blondes in Cabo. And I am shocked by their lack of resolve. I thought we had decided NOT to do that at our last meeting. Considering the disastrous results. Why, Dingo and Mutton have still not recovered from the wild animalistic behaviour of those bigfoots! Apparently I am the only mature man left in this city.

Short bespectacled brainiacs are warned.
I have plenty of teapots.
Plus cookies.



I may have to reschedule due to a lack of members in town.
Please let me know what time works for you.




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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

THE IMAGINARY BEAST

In most circumstances one cannot discuss small furry creatures with other adults. Eyebrows will cock if you do. This is a very great pity altogether.
If, as an example, I tried to start a conversation in a bar or drinking establishment by saying "the weasel family -- mama weasel, daddy weasel, and little Mary Weasel -- sat down to a scrumptious curry dinner, shalgam and mooli in a most delicious tichwan", the chances are that some big brutish biker-type would lift me up and throw me out.
Too many indigestible concepts.

Never mind that I would explain that weasels are extremely clever, and quite capable of preparing feasts!

Or that curry is a metaphor for man's unassailable place in a cold and dispassionate universe. There's existential angst here, dude, angst!

He'd go back to his beer, and I would get up off the pavement, rubbing my bruised bottom and wondering what the heck just happened.
Adult men just aren't into curry, I guess.

Possibly not even narratives involving small beasts.


IMPRESSIONS OF INTRIGUED INTEREST

Egberta the dachshund regretted her name. She hadn't thought about it as a puppy, but as she grew older she realized that 'Egberta' was an unusual appellation. None of the other animals in the midden had such a complicated handle. She often felt that it was a handicap, and sometimes resented her foster father for dumping it on her. Why, her life might be so very different if she was called 'Mathilda' or 'Eloise', or something just a little more feminine and normal! Perhaps even 'Jennifer'!
She wondered what she would have been like.
And would she have had more friends?
She knew that she was different.

AFFECTION AND POSSIBILITIES

Balthasar, who had cared for her ever since she was a little blind wriggling ball, considered 'Egberta' to be an utterly perfect name. She had been small, so small, and so very much unformed when he found her. Quite like an egg, even in general appearance. Always curled up.
And now that she was nearly grown, she was a most unusual dog. Unique, in fact. Perspicacious, intelligent, inquisitive, assertive, and possessed of both remarkable boldness and gallantry. Truly a 'bright blade'.
He had named her after Egbert of Wessex, who had been in forced exile for many years, before finally returning to his kingdom. Perhaps, like her ancient name-sake, she would have a child called Æthelwulf - "noble wolf". A very suitable name for a feral dachshund, indeed. It spoke of pride and resolve, fierceness and valour.

TRUST, OPPORTUNITY, AND CHALLENGE

Balthasar's den was composed of tunnels that went everywhere. One of which opened out onto the midden, where the rabbits played. He didn't really like rabbits, they were very silly creatures, but he realized that little Egberta needed other youngsters around her while growing up. It was good for her social development, and would make her a well-rounded individual. And besides, dachshunds are gentle, and roughly the same size as rabbits. So in a way she was among her peers.

At the back of his mind, though, was a dark fear that she would become too close to one of them. That wouldn't be good. Everyone knew what rabbits were like. Couldn't trust them, they had tendencies. And despite her impressive intelligence and sociability, she was young, so very young.
The elderly badger realized that he could not guide her forever. It was a miracle that she had come into his life. Dachshunds and badgers normally didn't cross paths. She would eventually have to find her own way.

He hoped she would around for along time. She was one of the very few animals he could talk to. And there was just something about her soft understanding eyes that spoke to him.
Additionally, anyone who could find her way around his labyrinthine burrow with such confidence was admirable. In a different life she too would have been a badger.
Not a rabbit. Never a rabbit.

Rabbits are not fit company for arthritic badgers.
They're flighty, and can be rather vulgar.

******

At some point the weasels will quite likely meet Egberta, and invite her in for some curry. That may be the evening they prepare lamb vindaloo.
Because, of course, one cannot expect a dachshund to hold with a vegetarian diet. And weasels, though small, are also carnivorous.

I envision a close friendship between Mary the weasel and Egberta.
They have so much in common.



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RANDOM LIST OF LIFE-CHANGING BOOKS

There are any number of novels that I will admit I have not read. Many of them are listed as either stellar works of literature, or in some way very significant, profound, and life-changing. At the very top of that list is One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Nope, never even touched it. It is, apparently, a masterpiece of magical realism. As well as brilliant, and deeply spiritual. All of which is enough to scare me off.
I refuse to read anything that would presume to speak to my intellectual side, in the estimation of people who think they know me.
I would rather see meaningless crap that is well written.

But I will compromise.

I have read The Catcher in the Rye, and while I did not know it at the time, it likewise is also in some way meaningful. Possibly even spiritual. And uplifting, or inspiring. But somehow it never made my list of re-reads.
The House of Mirth is also an important book. Depressing, though; not a re-read. Catch 22 is amusing, and only a re-read for cynical teenagers.
To Kill a Mockingbird is a book even I acknowledge as important.
Yet remarkably I have not re-read it either.

On my list of permanent revisitables, you will find classics such as The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Long Dark Teatime of the Soul, and Pride and Prejudice. That latter is an intense exploration of society through the eyes of its heroine, and made me feel what it means to be a woman of character, intelligence, and an independent personality. Which is rather disturbing, because I am not a woman. Persuasion, by the same author, added on to that, with a hefty dollop of the angst and frustration that as a young lady in regency era England would naturally be my fate.
Again, I am not a woman. Please stop doing that.

Other books which may change your ideas about what it means to be a woman -- or not, if that isn't a choice -- that are also significant and "meaningful" are here listed in no particular order.

I have attempted to read them all, and in some cases actually succeeded.


GOOD BOOKS

Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad. Lord of the Flies, by William Golding. The Rainbow, by DH Lawrence. The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.  Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë. Middlemarch, by George Eliot. Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou. The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank. Villette, by Charlotte Brontë. The Mill on the Floss, by George Eliot. Animal Farm,by George Orwell. Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell. The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood. Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Ulysses, by James Joyce. Beloved, by Toni Morrison. The Lord of the Rings, by JRR Tolkien. The Stranger, by Albert Camus. Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert. Remembrance of Things Past, by Marcel Proust.
Anna Karenina, by Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy.


The first two listed were jolly good reads. The Little Prince was not to my taste. Frankenstein grew dreary half-way through. I cannot stand Maya Angelou. Read Anne Frank in several languages, I even have a copy in Chinese. Animal Farm is a jolly good romp, as well as a cautionary tale about how to run an enduring socialist dictatorship. Gone With the Wind is very long, and my alter ego is Rhett Butler. Ulysses is for young men in college who have a large supply of cigars and whiskey. Tolkien is vastly overrated. Proust is a digestive feast.
Anna Karenina is splendid melodrama and very silly.

Marguerite Yourcenar's entire oeuvre is excellent, ditto for Mary Renault.
Anything by Krishnamurti is, of course, a load of twaddle.
As is everything in the self-help category.

Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh is not by a woman, nor is it an exploration of womanhood. It is never the less a volume that must be on your plate, along with The Horse's Mouth, by Joyce Cary, and Tarr, by Wyndham Lewis. Neither of whom were woman either.


For truly life-changing works, also try 'Den Spaanschen Brabander', by Gerbrand Adriaenszoon Brederode, 'De Tienduizend Dingen', by Maria Dermoût, and 'Chinese Characters: Their Origin, Etymology, History, Classification and Signification', second edition (Dover Publications),
by Dr. L. Wieger, translated into English by L. Davrout.




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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

ESSENTIAL NOODLES

I had just finished noshing on a meat and vegetable bun and a plate of small dumplings when she came in. She ordered a bowl of noodles and sat down at the counter to wait while it was being prepared.
While observing her, I loaded my pipe.
She did not look cute. At first.

Most men will automatically know what I mean.

Then I got a good look at her face. Firm lips, with character. Intelligent bright eyes, excellent proportions to cheeks, forehead, chin, and nose; altogether a very expressive visage. With a note of fragile vulnerability.

Just colour me a dirty old man right now.

I can still remember her face. And, given that she is a teenager, that is not a good thing. She just looked so damned intelligent and personable!
At that age humans are often unstable and quite off-kilter emotionally. Rather like a vial of nitroglycerine, and likely to explode in your face. They are dangerous, by several different definitions. But some of them are already shaping up to be fascinating individuals that, once they have negotiated the shallows of adolescence and entered the deep water of adulthood, will be incredibly fine to know. Whatever self-possession and budding appeal they have as high-schoolers will, one hopes, have fully and magnificently bloomed.

Intelligent eyes. An expressive face. Personality reflected.

Dirty old men should not hang out overlong at noodle shops frequented by sweet pudgy teenagers with charmingly alert faces. They are likely to overstay their welcome if they do, and upset the balance of the universe.
As well as spoil the noodles.
Some teenage girls are by their self-possession and sheer goodness already well on their way toward being interesting and worthwhile adults.
That is laudable, and the process should not be interrupted.
Noodles are an essential ingredient at that stage.
Step away from the growing thing.

She's overweight, chunky even. One might say a wee bit ungainly. And short. But whoever ends up inviting her to the prom will be proud of his date.
And undoubtedly they'll go out for yummy noodles afterwards, before he drops her off at her doorstep.


I do NOT need to see a sweet chubby girl with a lovely intelligent face showing all kinds of love and affection to a steaming bowl of broth, meat, and pasta. It wouldn't be healthy; likely to make me unstable and quite off-kilter emotionally.


Those delightful eyebrows. Oh my.


I left before her noodles came.



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