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.

Monday, March 31, 2014

HONG KONG CINEMA IDEAS ABOUT FEMININITY

During the eighties, many young men in Chinatown formed their images of manhood from the examples set in Hong Kong movies. Whether in gangster films, adventure, romance, or comedies, the multifaceted acting of stars such as Chow Yunfat, Andy Law, Hung Kampo, and others provided role models that showed how one should behave (or misbehave) under a variety of circumstances.
In part, this was because of the heroes' relationships to others, and largely how they interacted with the people around them, which naturally included women.

The women may have been "quieter".
But they were fundamental.


曼玉 FABULOUS JADE -- MAGGIE CHEUNG

If Lau Takwah (Andy Law in the role of Wah, 阿華, 華仔) seems like a cold bastard in 'As Tears Go By' (旺角卡門, from director Wong Karwai 王家衛) because of his no-nonsense violence towards other thugs on behalf of his "younger brother" Fly (烏蠅, played by Jackie Cheung 張學友), he is humanized by his consideration for Ngor (阿娥, played by Maggie Cheung 張曼玉). When things head south for Wah and Fly, due to a confrontation with psychopathic gangleader Tony (Alex Man Chi-leung 萬梓良), it is Ngor who is left emotionally holding the bag. Which, perhaps, is a traditional role for women in many movies.
Maggie Cheung is, from all accounts, a strong woman herself. But she has a softness that allows for a number of roles, and her career has included a number of non-Chinese movies.
Though born in Hong Kong, her family has roots elsewhere.
She's a native-speaker of Mandarin and Cantonese.
Fluent in both French and English.
Educated in Britain.


紫瓊 AMETHYST AND JASPER -- JEE KING

Contrasting enormously with that, almost all performances by Michelle Yeoh (楊紫瓊) show her as one tough cookie, capable of holding her own and them some. If you only knew of her from martial arts movies or police stories, it would be an immense surprise to find out that she was actually a beauty queen; pageant hotties are not known for significant skills, let alone a combination of brains, brawn, and dramatic ability.
When she first started working in the Hong Kong movie industry, she could not speak Cantonese. Her parents native language was Hokkien, and she isn't originally from Hong Kong.

She played the only Bond Woman whom James didn't get to bag.
In that movie, Bond was distinctly second fiddle.
Quite a blow to the British ego.


肥肥 FATTY -- FEIFEI

Completely different than both women mentioned above, actress and television personality Lydia Shum ( 沈殿霞) represented a style of womanhood which was brash, forward, loud, and just about full of dynamite. If she ever played a subservient role, it was only to emerge triumphant after engineering the face-egg of the man in the tale. She is best remembered as a likable harpy in numerous roles; mother, girlfriend, wife, and gossipy neighbor. Not, usually, the actual hero of the tale, but always memorable as the dominant personality.

Like Michelle Yeoh, she wasn't native to Hong Kong.


劉嘉玲 TINKLING GEM -- CARINA LAU

A remarkable woman, who despite a lack of education achieved much. Her acting career includes comedy, romance, gangster films, and over the top fantasies. Perhaps more famous for her fabulous life than her acting; many of her film roles have been supportive.

Probably the quintessence of Hong Kong girl.
Even though hailing from Soochow.



刀馬旦 BLADE & HORSE FEMALE-ROLE

At this point, you will have noted that three of the four actresses above are not, in fact, natives of Hong Kong. Yet they represent as good a cross-section of what a Hong Kong woman is either assumed to be, or imagines herself being. The same holds for the three stars in what may very well be the most representative of Hong Kong movies, which showcases slapstick, derring-do, female heroism, baser instincts, idealism, verve, and high drama: Peking Opera Blues.

The movie is set in early revolutionary times (1913), and features three stellar actresses as the foci of the tale, with the male-roles as more or less foils for the actions of the heroines.
Brigitte Lin as the daring tomboy revolutionary;
Cherie Chung as the greedy ingenue;
Sally Yeh as the dreamer.

All three women, as regular cinema goers can attest, are total dynamite. And there are very few movies in which they have not outshone the male stars. Often strongminded, always memorable, and usually possessed of a stubbornness which triumphs over any amount of adversity.

In some of her most famous roles, Brigitte Lin has combined steaming sexuality with a bloodthirsty fierceness that borders on psychopathic (for instance, in Swordsman II, in which her cross-dressing homicidal eunuchoid performance defies description), whereas Cherie Chung exudes a softer sensuality coupled with independent-mindedness (notable film: 秋天的童話 An Autumn's Tale) ). Sally Yeh, whose acting and singing career spans three decades, often plays the total sex-bombe, yet in her most memorable roles shows both innocence and courage; no one can forget her as the pretty wife in the lighthearted romp Diary of a Big Man (大丈夫日記) in which Chow Yunfat through a series of misunderstandings marries two women and heads towards an inevitable breakdown.

Only Cherie Chung is from Hong Kong, though of Hakka (northern) ancestry rather than Cantonese.
Both Brigitte Lin and Sally Yeh are originally Taiwanese.


After reading about these ladies, the almost inevitable conclusion is that the ideal or typical Hong Kong woman is most likely Joey Wong (王祖賢) from Taiwan, country-girl Chingmy Yau (邱淑貞), or Anita Mui (梅艷芳).
Soft as butter, ultra-feminine, and from somewhere else.
Or brass-balled, determined, and full of beans.
And in any case not a push-over.
Probably loud, too.



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Sunday, March 30, 2014

DINNER AT THE BUND

The people within easy view were, mostly, not Chinese. Which was not at all surprising seeing as the restaurant was in the middle of Chinatown; one does not expect a flock of Cantonese folks settling down for family dinner in a Shanghainese place. Which made it absolutely perfect for the three or four interracial couples present -- it gave them a greater likelihood of privacy and confidentiality -- and the delicious novelty of SHANGHAINESE (!) food had doubtlessly pulled in several of the other customers who were there.
Novelty will only go so far; the cooking is actually pretty darn good.
Enough variety that even Midwesterners might be happy.
Some Shanghainese dishes, and soup dumplings.
Soup dumplings are extremely Shanghai.
Plus other excellent things.

I got what I always get there: a plate of steamed dumplings. Not the soup dumplings (小籠包), but a very lovely version of the standard jiaoze which Cantonese people never make.


韭菜豬肉水餃

Nope, hardly a clue what those are called in the Wu dialects; we call them gau choi chü yiuk soei gaau. Chives and pork meat water dumplings. They're absolutely great fresh and hot, with shredded ginger black vinegar, and a sploodge of hot sauce. The typical Shanghainese will not add that latter condiment, but I'm a barbarian so I can get away with it.
And, given that I ordered in Cantonese, might as well leave them with a weird impression of other Chinese....... which, as a white guy, I'm obviously not. Life should be surreal; I do my bit to make it so.


A man has got to have his dumplings; sometimes one wants won ton (雲吞), sometimes it has to be Northern style soei gaau (水餃).
Dumplings are perfect for a single diner.


Everything else requires multiple people at the same table, or truly piggish appetites. Chinese restaurant kitchens are not quite capable of keeping the solitary beast in mind, so almost everything on the menu will presume that a large bunch of happy people will share everything ordered.
And Chinese people are largely social eaters.


Mature white bachelors -- especially bachelors who did not used to be bachelors -- are not fit company. We eat alone. On a bad day we will bury our faces deep in a plate of bacon and cheese lobster, and crack the shell with our teeth, sucking down the greasy richness with growling sounds.
Or we'll snap at a juicy steak like a dog chivying a squirrel, till at last we've wrestled it from the plate on which it was hiding, like the wuss that it was,
to a corner of the floor, where we rip it to shreds with our fangs.
There is naught refined, or even sentient, about our eating.
We scratch at fleas and chase away other predators.
And we blink and bark and slobber.
Doberman diner.

In the years of our bitter solitude we've gotten used to frightening children and little old ladies. Happy families cover their eyes and veer tremblingly away. Civilians and other delicate spirits flee in horror.

But once in a while we put on clothing, and venture to a place where some damned fine dumplings may be had. With restrained good manners, and unconscious dexterity, we dip the juicy morsel into the shredded ginger black vinegar, then into the hot sauce. Delicately, without spilling a single drop, we move it to our mouth, and take a bite.
Mmmm, so good.

A perfect dumpling reminds us that we used to be civilized.
It also fills the gaping holes in the soul.
And, of course, it hits the spot.



It rained yesterday morning. I got drenched. All day long I thought about dumplings. Once I got back to the city, I went straight to Jackson Street. Ten steamed dumplings and a full pot of jasmine tea for less than nine dollars. Courteous staff, considerate service; they're used to exiles wandering in by themselves for a taste of something familiar.
I left a generous tip, and lit up my pipe after I left.
The evening felt new, even after a full day.
First head east, then turn south.
Towards company.
Smoke

The pipe tobacco was Old Gowrie, which is a pleasant partially broken brown Virginia flake by Rattrays of Perth. Nothing extraordinary, just a sturdy, decent, and reliable smoke. It is surprising how fast one can go through a tin once opened. Sweet, suggestive, and slightly spicy.
It speaks of golden ages, quietness, and civilized living.
And of jasmine tea and steamed dumplings.
But that could just be me.
I recommend it.



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Saturday, March 29, 2014

THE QUIET END OF WAVERLY

It was early twilight when the young couple crossed the road. They were possibly too self-conscious to hold hands, but it is likely that they really wanted to. It's such an innocent yet intimate thing to do. As they passed, the fellow said: "nice pipe". It took a moment before it registered, then I told him 'thank you'.

What I did not volunteer was where he could have acquired a similar item. That being John's Pipe Shop, located at 524 & 524½ South Spring Street in Los Angeles, which was still extant in the early eighties but no longer exists. Their pipes were made by Comoys at one point, and were an extraordinarily good value. The exemplar which I was smoking was shape number 129, a large smooth apple with a slightly longer shank than normal.

[Many respected pipe stores had their pipes made for them by Comoys - here in San Francisco, among others both Grants and Pinecrest proudly featured such, with their own nomenclature stamped on one side of the shaft, and the characteristic round imprint of the actual manufacturer on the opposite side. Now there are no actual pipe-stores left in San Francisco. Some places do sell pipes; they're largely run by ignoramuses and swine.]

Comoys (founded in London circa 1879) as it was no longer exists either.
Cadogan Investments Ltd swallowed it entirely in the early eighties, and judging by the crap that has been produced since then seems determined to permanently ruin the reputation of British pipes, much like Dunhill and their ghastly evisceration of Charatan, Parker, and Hardcastle.


I was quietly lurking outside the First Chinese Baptist Church at the corner of Waverly and Sacramento after dinner. No particular reason, but it's a pleasant tree-shaded stretch where the hubbub does not reach, and the only sounds usually come from the basketball court upside the hill, or the playground around the corner. It's one of my regular spots for a smoke, not a week goes by that I do not end up there at some point.
It's good for people watching, as the only ones observable are usually not tourists. It's too far uphill from Grant (half a block), and there are no neat-o-keen boutiques selling fabulous San Francisco tee-shirts and coffee mugs. They cannot see the point of the trudge. Not a single place with sweet and sour pork either, oh woe.
I guess they seldom visit the Szechuan place at the other end of the block. The clientele there seems to consist mostly of young Mandarin-speakers.

Earlier I had been down at the Washington Bakery and Restaurant just below Grant. For such a brightly lit place, it is easy to hide in the corner, and like the alleyways and off-track streets of Chinatown, it is perfect for people watching.

Young couple happily devouring fish and a claypot special at one table. Two ladies gossiping over dinner at another, near a table with two high school boys sharing a meal. At the far end of the room a man was neglecting both his wife and the steamed fish while reading his text messages; she didn't mind, she happily made off with most of the meal, and definitely most of the fish. She was very cute, but if he keeps paying attention to his cell-phone she may get pudgy (and she'll still be cute).
Four people had a fine time a few rows over, which included bubble drinks and sweeties.
A family of six came in and were welcomed warmly. They're probably regulars.
Two Caucasians timorously stared in from the street, then went across to the fake Szechuanese joint to get stiffed. A gentleman from Latin America enjoyed some fine pastries near the bakery counter.


Something chicken over rice. You don't need to know the details. And a cup of Hong Kong style milk-tea. I may have overdone the hotsauce.
You never know; sometimes too much is not enough.


Outside on the corner the women handing out menus of a restaurant that caters to tourists were busily roping in victims. Did I mention the fake Szechuanese joint? It is positively thriving. Kitch décor and full-colour photos of someone else's food are a recipe for success.

Once you get away from Grant Avenue, the quiet returns. The only people are the locals, who do not gawk, or stop in the middle of the sidewalk to point and exclaim. There are no souvenir stores where the neighborhood shops, but if you want tonic herbs, you have several choices.
Occasionally an echo of incense drifts across your nostrils, an infant yells piercingly and joyously, an old lady passes with a grandchild on her back, and a mom with a full bag of groceries heads home. It smells of durian somewhere, and there is a clanging of cooking implements audible from the open back-door of a restaurant. People enter apartment buildings, or exit social clubs.
A young couple cross the street, and, in passing, admire a pipe.
Fine briar, with the patina of age and much fond use.
It really is a lovely piece of wood.
Not common any more.
Light fades.
Dusk.



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Friday, March 28, 2014

WHY ARE YOU STILL SINGLE?

Conversations about being unattached often stumble over the painful misconceptions of others. This became apparent several times recently when I mentioned that indeed I would like to eventually end up in a fulfilling relationship again, but did not see it happening anytime really soon. And that I envied some couples, because they seemed so suited to each other.


Men suggested that I do things differently.

Women advised me to change and reform.


Neither gender picked up on the one crucial flaw in their arguments, namely that I have no intention of drastically changing what I do or who I am. Which is as it should be. It would be an exercise in dishonesty otherwise, venturing deep into opportunistic territory.


No, I have no intention of hanging around on the Berkeley campus in hopes that a charming female historian or language professor will eventually speak to me about a book I'm holding, which may possibly lead to sharing coffee, and then perhaps at a future time dinner together (male suggestion).

And equally no, I shall not quit smoking, shave off my goatee, and join a gym (female suggestion).


The only overlap between the two types of not-exactly-welcome advice seemed to be tweed and dogs. Both men and women believe that I should wear tweed. And dogs, according to both sides, are a real "chick magnet".
Clearly, Harris herringbone and a hound are the way to go. This would qualify as both "self-improvement", and "doing things differently".

It should be just as clear that that isn't going to happen.


BLITHELY OVERLOOKING REALITY

It is dangerous to mention in public that one is single, and not entirely satisfied with that situation. Listeners will fixate on their own fantasies of otherness to invent alternate paths, which usually reflect their own lives.
The subject is like a bone thrown into a dog pile; it is the one thing that they will not stop analyzing and ripping into detailed shreds. The bachelor existence is the unmarked slate onto which many people can't resist projecting their own preconceptions.


So, to state it simply:

I am single.

I am not very happy about it.

But I'm not going to fake a damned thing.


I am not desperate enough to pretend interests or partake in pointless activities, nor waste any time pursuing superficial hook-ups. It is extremely unlikely that I will ever be that desperate.

And, given that I would far rather not go to extreme measures in the search for a suitable soul mate, it is quite doubtful that I will be in a relationship in the near future, if ever at all.

One can be quite happy in life, while still being disenchanted with solitude.
I do not see myself prowling college campii wearing tweed with a dog.
Nor trotting on a treadmill at the gym, glowing and shaven.
I have no urge to put on a false face.


Equally not part of the programme: accounting courses for secretaries, basketry, intro to third-world lit, singles nights, hiking clubs, tango lessons, paragliding, sky-diving, happy hour at the Red Room, meetings of the Upper Tenderloin philatelic society, yoga, bridge, trivia night, Christian social clubs, joining a congregation at any random synagogue - church - or gurdwara, study sessions for Buddhist scriptures, chamber music, rock concerts, mixers sponsored by match dot com, hanging around the student union wearing sunglasses, meaningful European movies, Justin Bieber, watching sports with friends, cooking classes, walking around with an artistic attitude, saving the planet at all times, volunteering at a random charity, or attending events of a snooty "cultural" nature.


Colour me between apathetic and pig-ass stubborn.
Twirling frantically would be just silly.


On the other hand, what will attract me like a buzz-fly to horse manure, is someone with a keen insight into or interest in history, languages, odd literature, and a liking for cheap snackipoos and cups of milk-tea.
If the smell of a pipe doesn't offend her, so much the better.
I do have a tweedy coat; I just don't wear it often.
I like dogs, but do not own one.

And, crucially, I am not a dick.



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Thursday, March 27, 2014

A DIRTY MINDED MAN

The ideal day off (which tomorrow likely will be) starts with coffee or tea, followed by doing laundry. Now, you might not think that doing laundry would be part of the equation. It is, after all, an ideal day off.
But you would be wrong. Clean clothing, it has become apparent, is a great and wondrous good.

I would have done my laundry sooner -- much much sooner -- but I was being lazy. As a single man I really don't have to cater to the delicate sensitivities of girlies, and, as a middle aged man to boot, who the hell am I kidding?
Ladies, just be glad I don't sing at the bus stop.
And still step off the curb to light up.
I am considerate of your nose.
Which objects to men.


It's not that any of the clothes are unspeakable. But, having delayed so long, I'm not wearing the first-ranked players. Strictly not major leagues. Some of these items haven't seen light of day in a while, and the word "style plate" is not applicable. We're talking old soldiers in the reserves, creaky veterans, and venerable antiques.
Clean, but unmatched.
Like myself.

For the past week I haven't been wearing the 'please-seduce-me' garb, nor even the 'hey clean me up and take me home to mama' ranks. I'm scared at how well some of this stuff fits; I must have lost the excess poundage much earlier than I thought.

My baggies are indeed baggy; very nice.
I may have to buy a new belt, though.
At its tightest, this one is too loose.

Twixt collegiate, and wiry old git.

What we can conclude from this is that massive quantities of tea and chili peppers constitute the perfect diet for the middle-aged man. It keeps him trim, makes his hair and hide glossy, and his limbs and joints limber.
No, he won't go chasing after balls, young ladies, or buses -- running is SO undignified -- but nothing creaks, several parts are wiry, and there is a bounce to his step. Plus his clothes fit without any unsightly bumps or bulges.

I don't look like your father.

I look like your father's wicked co-worker.

Uncle Unsuitable, debonair with that devilish flair.

And for days now I look like I could use some fashion pointers.


GOOD AFTERNOON, LADIES!

Feel free to seduce me AFTER mid-morning tomorrow, if you see me.
Once I've got some clean front-line troops again, I'm changing.

May even put on my straw boater and the striped seersucker sportscoat, grab the Malacca cane, and go out promenading. Flaunting, so to speak.
Drape my rangy form over a cane chair, and have an ice tea.
Light up an expensive panatellas for a lazy smoke.
Shoe polish? A manicure?
Perhaps!

Despite the weather elsewhere in the country, here in San Francisco it is almost summer. Warmish, and balmy in early afternoon.
Your pervert uncle is ready for it, watch out.
Boulevarding is planned!
Yes.




Actually, to be completely honest, after doing my laundry I'm probably going to go down to Chinatown to have jook and a yau tiu on Stockton Street, then wander over to the quiet end of Tin Hau Miu Kai to smoke my pipe. One can hear birds and children from the playground behind the buildings, and observe buses and elderly aunties laboriously trundling uphill. Or, once finished, head over to Hang Fook for a beng and a hot cup of naaicha.
It's much more civilized than poncing around in seersucker.
Mellow Virginia flake instead of the panatella.
Restrained, and pensive.
Still wicked.



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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

COHIBA, HOYO DE MONTERREY, LFD, MONTECRISTO, PARTAGAS, ROMEO Y JULIETA

Overhearing cigar-smokers discussing the dating scene is educational. Given that, vermin-like, they have a certain odour-spectrum which is so much more than mildly off-putting that their obstacles are higher than everyone else's, it is a remarkable wonder that they breed at all.
"Why are they not extinct" you might ask, "especially in California, where the only acceptable smells are tofu, marijuana, and recycling?"
I am as baffled as you are.

Yet the other day I had half an ear cocked sideways as several of them were discussing the dating sites of the world. On which some of the younger ones are a constant presence.
Apparently.


When they say "tell me about yourself", make it very clear that you are not a lizard or a newt. Say it firmly: "I am human, just like the rest of you", avoiding any sudden tongue movements.

[Courtesy of e-kvetcher.]


What really makes cigar-smoker love-lives such a profound mystery -- other than their obsession with vegetal phallicism -- is that they largely manifest themselves only in the presence of others of their kind.

We pipe-smokers are not like that. We are at times the solitary lone wolf roaming the galaxies of urban America, wandering over San Francisco hills, or lurking in well-lit Tenderloin doorways wearing stylish trenchcoats and fedoras. But we are marked by bonhomie, social polish, and intellectual brilliance during those times when we come down from Olympus to mingle with the vibrant juicy mortals.
Darn it all, we are just so personable.
Cigar smokers aren't.

As, no doubt, you have yourself ascertained.
On your own. Upon investigation.
Intellectual curiosity.


Consequently, it may surprise you to know that sometimes, when I'm feeling totally degenerate, I also indulge in cigars. Not just the regular small cigarillos which function as my nicotine-delivery system of choice when time prevents enjoyment of a pipe, nor the strawberry or vanilla flavoured reeksticks marketed to teenagers and pot-smoking deviants (or trailertrash), but actual real cigars.

[One brand of such perfumed monstrosities is drenched in mango chocolate mint ice cream essence, others have bing cherry, licorice, peach, rum, toffee, or watermelon disguises. Recently I smelled excressence of grape from a deviant in a local park.
Don't go there.]


I too on occasion pong of Caribbean leaf. It's a character flaw.
My humidors are quite overflowing at present.
Double coronas, perfectos, toros.
Maduro, corojo, shade.
No candelas.

Later on this evening, however, I shall smoke small cigarillos while in a karaoke bar. Once a week, as has been the custom for nearly a quarter of a century, I visit the lower depths with a bookseller, as we explore the fascinating late night anthropology of San Francisco. Bad wine will be drunk in moderation, followed by good beer, then excellent whiskey. Songs will be sung (not by us), and strange events observed.

Cigar-smoker-like there will be no women in our vicinity.
Excepting the staff of certain establishments.
A man needs time to be a beast.

There will be no smokers of large cigars either.
We're not crazy; their conversation lags.
All they can talk about is sex.

And why it is missing from their lives.


Tomorrow we shall be sane and lovable again. Hello ladies, you may now pay attention please. But they will still be cigar smokers.
Alone and howling in the canyons.




This post is loveingly dedicated to Bob, Buck, Charlie, Dave, Jeff, Itzy, Lennie, Marvin, Mike, Nick, Patricio, Quentin, Rich, Simon, Tom, Urquhart, Vinnie, Winston, and Yamil, et alios quosdam similes.
As well as Fat P, who is unspeakable.

Neener neener neener.



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VAST SCADS OF PORK SHOULDER

I've always had a soft spot for pork. What other meat is so delightfully fatty and degenerate with eggs and tofu? And some parts of the pig make truly splendid chile verde.

Chile verde is the very nectar of the gods.
The amrit with which to drench.
Sustenance of the soul.
Prasadam.

The ONLY way to make chile verde is to forget about tomatillos. That's NOT what makes a chile verde green. The chilies do.

Because my circle includes people of a somewhat waspy hue (i.e.: so white they glow in the dark, as well as a number of Cantonese people), I employ a selection of green peppers from mild (bell pepper) to incendiary (unripe chile de arbol, even green habanero), with a preponderance of New Mexico chilies, jalapeños, and mulatto isleño.
Roast and peel a sufficient quantity to fill a bucket.
Cube an amount of semi-fatty pork to match.
One or two onions, and some garlic.
A few cups meat stock.
Fresh lime.

The vegetable matter should be chopped or minced as appropriate, the onion and garlic seethed to glaze in a little olive oil. Add the meat and colour slightly. Add the green chilies, inundate with stock, stir, squeeze the lime over, and simmer for a couple of hours on low, checking occasionally. The liquid should reduce, the chilies pulpify, and the meat become fork-tender. It should be twixt soupy and stew-thickness.
Add water, or reduce. As necessary.
Smoky, sweet, and hot.

NO TOMATILLOES!

Bring it to a party and serve with steamed rice, and tortillas de harina. Bring beans for the Texans who cannot live without them, and cheese for all the East-Coasters, who think everything needs cheese.
Watch it disappear before you have any.



POUND UPON POUND OF PORK SHOULDER

All this came to mind this morning because of the crap that spambots keep dumping into my letterbox.

I've been receiving a lot of Japanese stuff lately. With links to handbags, smut sites, pills, and payday loans I do not wish to explore. These contributions get deep-sixed immediately.

However, two brainiac English-speaking spambots keep dumping messages in there that are mildly amusing.

One compliments me on my truly superior sense of rhythm and wishes to watch while I amend something (is this sexual?), and the other one tells me the discussion is fascinating, and the subject that was ellucidated totally entranced them, nay, enthralled them to the point of wonder.
They were wet-eyed after reading, and can I do more?
And by the way, how can they contact me?
There is much they wish to say.

Poor spambots!

I'd offer you both some chile verde, but you might end up bathing in it and getting eaten.



The letterbox exists so that people who desperately wish to get a hold of me, or folks who may have forgotten my actual e-mail address, may establish contact. Additionally, young women who think that I would be a fabulous coffee companion (followed by a cigar, either a corona or Sumatra panalito, from Hajenius), as well as not likely to upset the societal apple cart or too eccentric for words, can send out feelers.

Spam, and other pork shoulder products, should be food only.
Not long baffling missives and epistles.
Or short goofy crap.
With HTML.


Please write.




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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

WHO SHALL I BLAME IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT?

Chopped tomatoes. Chopped jalapeño chilies. Chopped pepperoncini. Garlic. Ginger. Minced mystery meat (no kidding; I have no idea what that was). Fatty pork. A habanero. Cup of Sriracha. Olive oil. Pepper.
A mashed anchovy, and two tablespoons of a spicy African chutney.
Stirfried till crusty. Cup of yoghurt stirred-in afterwards.
Glob more Sriracha to improve the flavour.


[The garlic was from a jar which contained, in this order: garlic, habanero, salt, vinegar, water, and lactic acid. That last presumably as a preservative. But note that according to Wikipedia, "although glucose is usually assumed to be the main energy source for living tissues, there are some indications that it is lactate, and not glucose, that is preferentially metabolized by neurons in the brain of several mammals species (the notable ones being mice, rats, and humans). According to the lactate-shuttling hypothesis, glial cells are responsible for transforming glucose into lactate, and for providing lactate to the neurons. Because of this local metabolic activity of glial cells, the extracellular fluid immediately surrounding neurons strongly differs in composition from the blood or cerebro-spinal fluid, being much richer with lactate, as it was found in microdialysis studies." End quote. In short, it's brain food.]


Several slices of toasted French bread as the starch.

Nimboo achar in lieu of any condiments.

The whole washed down with tea.




It was mighty tasty.

But what the hell was it?




I dumped it on a thali and ate it with my hands. So it must be Indian.

The hot-hot chai afterwards confirms the surmise.

Should've also had papad.

Pakwan, yaar.



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A GIRL WITH A MACHETE

It has become apparent that I am out of touch with popular culture. Possibly because there is so little on television that I would want to watch. Ever since Arrested Development got axed, and the X-Files ended, it has been grim boob-tubing.

Actually, the last great series was Cow & Chicken.

And I'll admit I that obsess over the hot hot hot neurotic shiksas on Bob's Burgers. Louise will grow up to be a stick of dynamite, and Tina is one dysfunctional sex-obsessed mama.
Who doesn't like twisted juveniles with attention deficit disorder, gender role confusion, and psychotic tendencies?
All the other ladies, especially the adults, are whacked too.


"Hey, it's almost like music!"


I realized all this when I overheard cigar-smokers talking. Yes, there was a lot about the Real Housewives -- especial the witch craft practitioner in Southern California and the one-legged ego maniac in New York -- but the most interesting scrap was "the guy with the turtle terrified me". Unfortunately I do not know which show that was. Perhaps the one that featured a girl with a machete, but that could just as easily be "The Shahs of Sunset Boulevard", which I believe features a bunch of Gujaratis from just north of Bombay. Shahs are mercantile, and fairly close caste-kin of Patels. Sahukari ('Shah') means a banker or money lender, just like Patindar ('Patel') marks the maintainer of monetary and tax records.
I've never seen the show, but I can't imagine that a series about a group of irritating Desi kalamkaris can be really worth watching. Perhaps it's about flashy jewelry; both Shahs and Patels have a history of being gold-dealers.
Still, I cannot figure out how the turtle fits into this.
Or why a turtle, or tortoise, terrifies.
They aren't the same, btw.

Chelonians can be divided into sea-going (turtles) and land dwellers (tortoises). In Spanish, both are the same: Tortuga.

The only thing I know about turtles is that Lady Curzon Soup makes good use of their edible nature.

LADY CURZON SOUP

Four cups turtle broth.
Half a cup cream.
Half a cup of whipping cream.
Half a cup sherry.
Half a cup turtle scraps.
Two Tsp. Madras curry powder.
Pinch of mace.

Mix everything except the whipping cream over low heat, taking care that it does not boil. Then beat the bejazus out of the whipping cream, apportion the liquid over several small bowls or cups, and add whipping cream on top.

Nowadays it is usually made with mussel broth, as even the English have become averse to greenish-hued mysteries and chelonitoxism.

More complex recipes use two egg yolks beaten into the cream to make a richer experience. Add a little soup to this mixture, then increase the amount gradually to a full cup worth. This will ease the subsequent addition of the cream and yolk mixture to the rest of the soup.


So no, I do not know what current television show the cigar smokers so avidly discussed. The bits I heard indicated that it was much more violent and depraved than football, but had an internal logic and cohesion quite foreign to American sports.
I remain curious.


Not enough to join their conversation or watch their teevee shows, however. Life is too short for crap.




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Monday, March 24, 2014

THE RAVENOUS BEAST

One should NOT eat nearly an entire package of digestive biscuits. Milk chocolate covered. Pensively. Before I realized it, the package was empty.
And I was full.

They were made by United Biscuits (UK) Ltd.

45% wheat & wholemeal.


It has been asserted that this distinctive cookie is nourishing food for people of weak digestion. And as they are made in regions beyond the control of American agro-imperialist control, there will be no corn syrup utilized in their manufacture. They have a tendency to disintegrate when wet.

There are seventeen of them in the average package.

Of which thirteen were left when I came home.

They disappeared within an hour.

I should have had tea.


I shall blame United Biscuits (UK) for any mistakes or ill-considered dining choices made recently. As well as my pensively thoughtless omission of tea while consuming over a dozen baked wheaten discs covered with milk-chocolate (rumoured to be perfect food for people of weak digestion).
Next time, put the kettle on. And consider the consequences.
I don't know what I was thinking.
I was led astray by perfection.
Damn' fine biscuits.



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ANSWERING QUESTIONS

In which the blog-o-thete deals with issues that the readers have spewed forth.

"Are you married?"

Simple answer: No.

Convoluted response: between 1982 and 1985 this blogger was hitched to woman whose chief joy in life seemed to be painting her nails while watching Solid Gold with her friends. I smoked in the garage at those times. We divorced, and she ended up marrying a banker. It was probably a perfect match.

In 1989 I met Savage Kitten. Who moved in with me in 1994. She broke off our relationship in 2010. We still live together -- she has her own room -- because in San Francisco you do not bail out on apartment mates you trust around your stuff. The alternative is rent three times higher and a drugfreak as co-renter. Or a schizophrenic crackhead.

Yeah, it's inconvenient. No casual affairs, and I'm resigned to only ever conceivably allowing THE ONE into the apartment.
Whom I haven't met yet.

On the plus side, she's dating some dude in a wheelchair, who cannot visit because of the hillside or the stairs.

I never have to meet him.
I'm fine with that.

It might get sticky if I ever end up with another snoogums.

We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

"What's that in your bed?"

"It's a snoogums."

"Oh."

At some point perhaps a sleeping snoogums would have to be introduced; "miss Savage Kittem, meet miss Wong."

"How do you do?

"Yawn... lovely, thank you.".


And back to sleep.


I'll have to explain that we reviewed scripture together. Until the wee hours. Yes, that's it. No, I do not know why she's simply wearing pale green panties and a man's shirt several sizes too large.
Or very naughty dark stockings.
It's a total mystery.

Next question.


"Uncle Atboth, are you a pervert?"

Why yes, I'm glad you asked!

I am clean, upstanding, and quite hamsap.

I hide it well, because I am given to bathroom insanity.

Hers. Then mine.



Okay, that's quite enough questions.
Tune in later for more stuff.
Mir seinen farklempt.





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Sunday, March 23, 2014

HAPPY BOXERS

Moments ago it struck me that it is always worthwhile to invest in nice underwear. This while admiring my own fine boxers. In addition to what our mothers always told us -- if there's an accident, the emergency personnel will either leave the person with unworthy undies untended, OR take them straight to the landfill out by the old coal plant and dump their nasty corpses -- the other reason is that you never know when some hot starlet will see you at a cocktail party and ravish your fine young body.

Happy boxers; a man needs him some happy boxers.

The world is good because of happy boxers.

At fifty four, I realize that that the possibility of ravishment by starlet is just not very likely, no matter how gay the cocktail party. And no, I did not spend years waiting for it to happen, as I only just thought of it. If there were starlets I liked, it would sound like a very nice idea. And in that case I might move to Pacific Heights or Hollywood just to increase my chances.

The thing is, my body is not fine and young.
It's sort of okay and middle-aged.
Ravishing is not on the agenda.
Darn it.


But whether you are male or female, nice underwear is always worthwhile at whatever age. It inspires confidence. There you'll be, waiting for the bus, as a nearby crazy streetperson threateningly jibbers at you. But you'll know that underneath your pinstripe or overalls, you are wearing a lovely little black lace bra and panty set, and it will inspire you.
It just has to. You feel sexy, self-assured!
Prepared for any eventuality.
Yay!


Unfortunately, lovely little black lace and pantie sets only come in sizes that suggest small, lithe, and petite. And female. With a modicum of appropriate curvature. For reasons that I cannot fathom -- possibly sexist and discriminatory -- they aren't made for men of normal dimensions. It's very disempowering.
Not that I would ever wear either part of that ensemble, please understand, but I feel that I should have the option. Freedom, democracy, the pursuit of happiness and such things.
Plus eventualities. One must always be prepared.

It's an issue of personal validation.


Happy boxers just don't say it.

Yes, the sense of confidence is there -- heck, with these bad boys I can swan about at any bus stop fully clothed, no matter the throng of loonies -- but it just doesn't feel as free and happy and totally actualized.

I lament the inequality of modern life.




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Saturday, March 22, 2014

IT'S A LIFESTYLE CHOICE

Yesterday evening before going to sleep I left a box of Maltesers on my apartment mate's bed, in the care of an evil stuffed monkey. She came in later, and I could hear the argument from my room. "My Maltesers!" "No, they're mine!" No, mine!" "Mine mine mine!!!" "My Maltesers, curse you!" "Mine!" "They're mine, you nasty selfish hairball!"
It's not that she particularly likes Maltesers.
She just likes arguing with a monkey.
It lasted for over an hour.


Some people like the strangest things. No, this post is NOT about sexual peccadilloes -- both my readers and I are presumably exceptionally normal in that regard; privately enthusiastic but publicly reticent, with no pain or strenuous lifting involved, nor metal implements -- and also not about strange cocktails made with risky ingredients. Although I did recently hear about a woman who has dedicated an old wine barrel to a mixture of tequila and sherry, married for a month or two, then dolled-up with blueberry liqueur and a dash of bitters. Which, if you ask me, is as close to the Antichrist as anyone can come. It sounds nasty.

It's more or less about food.


CHICKEN CURRY, VERY BRITISH

Half a dozen chicken thighs.
Two onions, sliced.
Two TBS mango chutney.
Two Tsp. ground coriander.
One Tsp. ground cumin.
One Tsp. turmeric.
One Tsp. cayenne.
One TBS flour.
One TBS lemon juice.
One TBS sugar.
Dash of Worcestershire sauce.
A jigger of sherry.
Bay leaf or two.
Chili pepper or two.
Two to three cups water.

Gently sauté the chicken thighs till nicely coloured in some oil. Add the onions, and let them softly brown. Add the water, bay leaf, and chili (chopped or not) and put on a low simmer. Mix the remaining ingredients and stir into the pot. Cook till the chicken is tender.
Which, for a scraggy rooster, might be an hour or two, but for a fine young hen would be about forty minutes.


ENGLISH "INDIAN" RICE

Four cups cooked rice.
Two TBS peach preserves.
One minced hot chili.
One minced onion.
One peeled seeded chopped tomato.
Half a Tsp. ground coriander.
Quarter Tsp. turmeric.
Half a cup yoghurt.
A bit of chopped parsley or cilantro.
A little bit finely minced ginger.

Fry the onion in some oil till light brown. Add the chili and tomato, stir to incorporate, and add the coriander and turmeric. When the fragrance of the spices becomes noticeable mix in everything else and heat through.
Serve with the chicken curry shown above.


Necessary adjuncts to a proper English excuse for Indian food are sliced cucumbers in yoghurt, a bowl of chutney, chopped onions, a hot sauce, and a jar of Patak's lime or mango pickle.
And perhaps fried nuts.

Possibly also a salad, but the jury is still out on that.

Personally, I also like potato chunks cooked crusty, flavoured with ground dark roasted cumin seeds, cayenne, and a pinch of amchoor.
But that isn't properly British. Even if peas are added.
I also don't like drinking beer with food.
Sherry is always an option, though.
Sherry goes with everything.
Even tequila.


I like to say that food is better than sex. It isn't of course, but it is by far a much more reliable indulgence, and involves far less wishful thinking and fevered imagination. And it's what you really SHOULD be doing on a Saturday night, instead of cruising the clubs south of Market where all the crazy young folks are, looking for intoxicated scalliwag.
Scalliwag found in bars is never good.
Especially not the next day.
Curry, however, is.

Heat it up in the microwave and have it for breakfast.
You can't do that with scalliwag.

Your mother would approve.



I said earlier that this post was not about sexual peccadilloes. That was not entirely correct. Upon rereading what I wrote, certain elements jump out. One of which should either precede or follow curry, but never coincide with it. I am fairly certain that bad things happen if it does.


Note that it's a good idea to wear rubber gloves when handling chilies.
Think of the aforementioned bad things.
Extrapolate.



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Friday, March 21, 2014

PERHAPS YOU NEED MARMALADE?

For some reason I woke up thinking about lime marmalade. Several years ago I experimented with making it myself, eventually ending up with a two-day process of blanching and soaking the thinly sliced peel, and extracting whatever pectin was in the pith and flesh after reserving the juice.
I used more lime juice than the amount of limes zested would have yielded (squooze extra limes), and an amount of sugar equal to the amount of liquid after simmering pith, pulp, and juice, for two hours.
The two-day process makes the zest less bitter; unfortunately it will reduce the fragrance slightly also. The result was not so much a jam or jelly as it was a syrup-based compote.

Excellent, but not as easy as simply heading around the corner to the English store to stock-up on a nice British marmalade.
Coopers Thick Cut Oxford.
Among others.

Marmalade is a comfort food, amigo.
It's very lonely out in the desert.
If you don't have marmalade.

I'll also need to restock the cocoa. I cannot understand how, but we've run out entirely. We had five tins sitting on the top of the shared refrigerator at the beginning of the year, including the extra dark and something with a mysterious fragrance. No, to the best of my knowledge my apartment mate has NOT been organizing home-made chocolate syrup and nudity orgies with her boy-friend. Unless she's changed more over time than I realize.
Or understand.

Maybe Wheelie Boy has an obsession.

One of the problems with orgies that involve coating the other person with an edible substance is that the stuff gets into the strangest places. Another issue is that it interferes with your tactile senses and diminishes traction.

Moderation in all things, amigo.

Think it out first.


I have never grasped the full-body romantic treatment with cocoa and other sweet substances. It sounds like it would immensely detract, as well as distract, from the zesty naughtiness at hand. As well as leave an incredible mess, what with sticky torn tarpaulins and smears of crusty goo damned well everywhere. Plus it would attract ants.

Waking up the next day would be a bitch.

There you are, sleeping off your sugar jag, virtually glued to the other person, who is equally miserable -- nausea, stomach cramps, headache, physical aches and pains, stiff joints, and possibly bruises or contusions from the slip'n slide episode -- when you become aware of ants in your hair. Not just your head hair, which inexplicably got sodden with the Hershey's bitter, but also elsewhere. Yes, it tickles. Not what you are presently in the mood for, considering your traumatized state. Itchy itchy. Ants bite when irritated. You are naked and sticky.
And covered with ants.
That's problematic.

The tarp will have to be trashed. It looks a right mess.
Your love-interest also looks trashed.
What were you thinking?

Sticky nipples.

No, I have never experienced this first-hand. But I know people.


My idea of a lively good time with a person of the opposite gender and cocoa is fully clothed. Possibly involving pillows and a throw-rug.
Plus books, stuffed animals, and whipped cream.
No one wakes up with a sugar hangover.
Except, perhaps, the animals.
No self-restraint.

It also involves hot buttered toast.
And antique porcelain plates.
Hence the marmalade.

One positively cannot have an exciting love-life without marmalade.
Or any life at all, whether romantic or not. It's quite unheard of.

But that's just my idea. I am open to suggestions.

Maybe apricot preserves?

Tell me.



If I ever get involved in a chocolate syrup episode, it will have to be in a hotel room. Pay cash, register under a fake name, and leave before they discover that we wrecked the suite.

Or a one-person event the next time I get dragooned into house-sitting.
Just me by myself with Hershey's and a bad attitude.
Plus dangerous "creativity".


The gift of a home-made marmalade says you care. It really is a sweet idea, and touching. Cocoa is useful and important, however it has no emotional baggage whatsoever. It is neutral.
Furthermore, it may be provided irrespective of relationship.
All households need a goodly supply of cocoa.
But one must also have marmalade.
Share it discretionarily.
If at all.


Unripe citrus fruit is best.



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Thursday, March 20, 2014

IMMIGRANTS, JEWS, AND FAGS

Far be it from me to speak ill of the dead; in some cases, that would be giving them more attention than they warrant. That, of course, is the first reaction to news of the death of the reverend Fred W. Phelps Sr. in Kansas yesterday, aged eighty four years old. For most of those years, the reverend was a hatefilled caricature of a creed whose already notorious hatreds made caricatures nearly impossible.


A BAPTIST TO MAKE OTHER BAPTISTS PROUD

The reverend Fred Phelps learned his theology at Bob Jones University, the Prairie Bible Institute, a junior college in Pasadena, and by attending various misguided and absurd revival meetings that catered to the simple people of the deep South, the Oklahoman diaspora, and the periphery of civilization.

While at "college", Phelps gained a fan base preaching against the promiscuity and public fornication of his fellow students.

Remarkably, he started dating while attending the Arizona Bible Institute, and ended up marrying the girl in May 1952.

Per Wikipedia: "In 1954, the East Side Baptist Church in Topeka hired Phelps as an associate pastor, and then promoted him to be the pastor of their new church, Westboro Baptist, which opened in 1955. Soon after Westboro was established, Phelps broke all ties with East Side Baptist."

That declaration of independence must have been a bit of a surprise for the growing East Side Baptists. Normally branch-offices don't go rogue, and Monty Python-like head into uncharted territory, slaughtering black knights, dodging cows, and insulting Frenchmen. Normally churches don't consist entirely of members of one family either, but given the limited genetic mobility in Kansas it probably isn't entirely unheard of.

Fred Phelps gained cult-status the old-fashioned way.


'Spiritual leader of Tea Party dies, no one cares.'


The reverend Fred Waldron Phelps was truly an American original. His unique views on God, theology, salvation, humility, and the certainty and inevitability of hell for all Catholics, Jews, and Homosexuals, as well as his conviction that universities and the military were veritable hotbeds of heresy and sodomy, endeared him to a multitude.

A multitude that normally remains out of sight.

The military is also sodden with shrimp.

God hates shrimp.


GOD'S ANGRY CARETAKERS

A few years ago members of his flock/family came to San Francisco to rile up the locals. It was a small delegation, including a serious looking woman, a mature man of some sort, and two girls with all the fresh-faced sexual allure of hippie chicks during the summer of love, all bright-eyed and pink-faced. Clear of skin and sound of limb.
Unspoiled little bigoted butterflies.
A breath of Kansas.

No one was killed during their two-day visit.

It was extremely educational. Oh boy.

We lament his passing.

Topeka.




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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

THE COMING PURGE

Sometimes food is NOT the answer to all of life's problems. At least, not Mexican food. I had been feeling a bit unsatisfied -- the blahs, due to a lack of a love life, and the iffyness of the weather -- so I ordered something which consisted of corn tortillas rolled around shredded chicken and deep-fried. With Spanish rice on the side. And crunchy stuff, vegetables I'm fairly sure. And the inevitable shredded lettuce.
Traces of cheese. Plus chilies. And salsa verde.
And a fire-roasted hot chile salsa.
And more crunchy stuff.


Nah, this was not a good substitute for the blandishments of a vivacious young lady with sparkling eyes. Or, even better, a glowering bookish girl-person who wanted nothing more than to be left alone with Faulkner and some cigars.

More like the food equivalent of dating a shallow blonde from small-town California. Somehow I feel that some elements of the meal were too busy texting to pay attention to me.

And, in truth, my attention also wandered.


As food went, the only decent part, really, was the fire-roasted hot chile salsa. Not as piquant as they made it out to be, but possessed of a pleasing earthiness. There was a slight sootiness to the taste.

The horchata was too sweet and cinnamony. And, other than that, mildly displeasing.

The ambiance was not conducive, and far too many healthy types came in to order the veggie burrito or the black bean and salad greens tostada. An adult has no need to see shiny spandex or yoga pants while eating.

I can only imagine what the Saint Patrick's Day special was.

Probably green-dyed tofu.



There are two things that would have decisively improved my dining experience.

One: a nice young lady with a bit of temper to eat with...

Two: if it were somewhere else. Somewhere far better.


Obviously I would prefer the first option, but in all honesty I would take either.


The very best part of the meal -- other than the obvious, which was imagining horrible rest of their lives for the yoga-pantsed personages at other tables -- was leaving, and lighting up a cigar afterwards.


Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Sometimes it's better than imaginary sex. It depends on both your mood, and the cigar itself. I'll have to send my very clean compliments to the manufacturers (P. G. C. Hajenius, located on the Rokin at number 1012), who are within easy walking distance of the Centraal Station and several affordable hotels, but nowhere near a Mexican restaurant that seems to cater to spunkless wonders. That Corona with the Sumatra wrapper was exquisite.
Thank you very much, I had a great time.
Let's do it again.


If I stop thinking of romance, I may end up smoking more cigars.




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THE ALIENS HAVE LANDED

The aliens have landed. And they ALL want Obama-care and your jobs. For proof, I offer this news-footage of the daemonic foreigners rioting in a major U.S. city.


THE LEEKS OF WRATH!


[Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMp-Kgw5khw.]


You will kindly note that that is a certifiable foreign language which appears on-screen for the first six seconds, possibly from another galaxy, and obviously a subliminal message.
Most likely it says "all your base are belong to us".

All our base!!!!!

This is a warning for Americans. Someone should alert Newt Gingrich.
Or Glenn Beck, reported to be his spokesman.

You will be struck with space leeks.

And lose all your base.




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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

SOME TOFU WAS INVOLVED

First time out to Safeway down past Battery Street in a few weeks. But once I got there, I realized I actually didn't need anything. So I just bought yoghurt, cheesy bread, and a sourdough loaf.
No, no vegetables. I don't think I'll be cooking at home.
No meat products either. See reason given above.
Man can live on yoghurt and bread.
Especially cheesy bread.

Oh, plus lots of tea with milk and sugar, and the occasional cookie overload. Though one should not overdo cookies and other sweets too often. With that in mind, I did not purchase the mint-flavoured chocolate matzes, OR the kosher for Passover (and all year round) marble cake from Osem. Nor the various groovy types of instant matze-ball mix. Sink, swim, or bob.
Next week, I'll buy the jarred gefilte fish.
It's always time for gefilte fish.
Good with curry paste.

The reason I shan't be cooking at home is that it's quite boring and pointless to cook for oneself, especially when one can go down to Chinatown, get a delicious lunch for seven bucks, and listen in on everybody else.
Because it doesn't matter who hears the discussion.
Or whatever juicy tit-bits are uttered.

I am flabberghasted that a woman who is older than myself is still being addressed as 'leng nui' (靚女 pretty girl) by her co-workers. It speaks of a long-time familiarity, they've probably worked together for years.
Sweatheart, you still have such promise.

It's touching, really. They must have all been so much younger when they started working there. When the 'new' in the restaurant name still indeed meant 'new'. Instead of 'nearly the oldest place on the block'.

The roast duck is as good as ever, so is the charsiu.
Both of those keep you young.
Meat and fat.



There weren't any wild parrots in Sue Bierman Park. Instead, I watched two crows engaged in nest-building behavior. Carefully select twig. Snap-off excess twiggage. Pick up trimmed twig in beak, flap off. Return, repeat.
It must be spring if the crows are ready.

Personally I can't tell the difference between a male crow and a female crow. Other than their faces, they all look alike.

Thank heavens I can distinguish between a 靚女 and a 叻仔 。




I think on Friday I'll purchase some cheese.
To augment the sourdough, of course.
There's a cheese shop nearby.

Good thing I don't have to go to Safeway down at Battery and Jackson for that. Too many energy drinks for yuppies there, and a selection of frozen food that says "we have very whitebread customers, who don't do anything exciting, ever". The people who work there always look stressed, and most of the customers are zoned out (too many energy drinks) or severely fossilized (perhaps they didn't have enough energy drink).
They have a very pedestrian wine selection.
There's no risk involved.



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SPECULATION REGARDING MH370

If I were to hazard a guess as to where and what happened to Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, after all the available evidence I would guess that it might very well be in the mangrove swamps just south of Karachi (south-south-west of Thatta, 150 miles west-north-west of Bhuj). After deviating off course it could have merged into a route recognized as used by several flights from Bangkok at very similar early morning times by various airlines, perhaps with a disguised identity -- false identification in the on-board communication systems -- and 'fallen out of sight' again just after crossing from Indian Airspace into Pakistan.

Please note that such speculation is clever gibberish at best, and mirrors in part what unhinged conspiracy theorists such as Rupert Murdoch have blithely tweeted without any shred of evidence.

Still, indications are that if this was a deliberate act, it took years of planning and preparation. Which suggests sleepers in Kuala Lumpur, and quite considerable skill sets.
After what the ISI did in Bombay (2008), the Pakistanis are natural suspects. A history of rogue-elementism, connections with a range of terrorist organizations (several of which they control or direct), links to the international drug trade, the technical and logistical know-how, and an organizational structure rife with jihadis and opportunists, while never-the-less maintaining a high level of secrecy and deniability.......

Remember that Al Qaeda kingpin we took out in Abbotabad?

Well co-ordinated tribal attacks on fuel convoys?

The assault on the Indian Parliament?



THE MARHO KOTRI WILDLIFE SANCTUARY

Pattar Creek, Danoo Creek, Khai Creek, Kanno Channo Creek, Katri Creek, Dambir Creek, Pitiani Creek, Khanana Creek, Katonaro Creek, Supethar Creek, Paniar Creek, Diyo Creek, Dabbo Creek, Kukiwari Creek, Subh Creek, Gorabiyo Creek, Mudiwaro Creek, Khilanwari Creek, Jua Creek, Rumwah Creek, Dundri Creek, Richhal Creek, Kuchar Creek, Chhan Creek, Bedewari Creek ......

There are numerous people of South-Asian extraction in Malaysia. Many citizens are Muslims. All that would be necessary is a convincing cover-story for any agents, connections among certain levels of the government and ruling classes, and patience.


And a plausible motive.


What possible motive is behind this?


That last one escapes my unhinged imagination.


There are just too many strange scenarios to contemplate.


Even a completely logical distrust and suspicion of Pakistan and its loathsome people, combined with a sneering dislike of the Malays, cannot produce anything that remotely makes sense.


Despite the well-known Malay hatred of the Chinese, Pakistani duplicity and greed, and an abundant willingness by Muslim extremists to murder non-believers, taken into account.


Or considering the immense impact that a brazen and spectacular terrorist act involving a few hundred innocent civilians and one or two major powers as targets would have.


Still. Mangroves. Flight paths. Know-how. Psychopathic hatred.


Until the plane is found, speculation is natural.


And the Pakistanis have a 'history'.



Oh by the way, the very great likelihood that once we've completely left Afghanistan (end of 2014) we'll have no use whatsoever for Pakistan, and will cease subsidizing their corrupt politicians and military entirely -- cut them loose and forsake that miserable excuse for a country -- and that the United States Dollar flood will run dry for them, does not play into this.
I doubt that they have enough foresight to consider that.
Those that do will simply bail out.
Or kill each other.




==========================================================================
NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:

LETTER BOX.
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.
==========================================================================

THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT

Sometimes stuff shows up in my inbox that has no conceivable spammatic content, being, more or less communications from a reader-base that wishes to talk without revealing themselves to the general public, or which believes that their query has no interest for many others.

I cater to both types. I may not answer immediately, as several folks in Germany and the Netherlands now realize, but I do eventually answer.

Please note: if there were evidence that the querent was a young female adult who had Wind-In-The-Willowish fantasies about enjoying a cup of coffee with the Badger of Nob Hill, or wished to read Conrad and Faulkner in his presence while quietly enjoying his stimulating company -- which has been described as 'comforting', 'wicked', 'nurturing' and 'life-affirming', in a civilized animal (mustelid) sort of way -- I might respond considerably sooner. Vibrant female persons, between twenty and forty, who are smaller than a badger, and shorter too, get my complete attention.
I am quite fond of weasels, stoats, and martens.
Pole cats and lithe carnivores.
As well as otters.


One person, whom I shall identify as "The February 11th Maccabee", whose original question is partially answered 'here', recently asked if there was a hotsauce which was spicier than Sriracha.

"By the way, do you know if a company makes a sauce as good as the red rooster Sriracha, but hotter? I've found that whatever I'm trying to flavor tastes too much of Sriracha by the time I've added enough for it to be spicy, so that I've had to use two hot sauces! Perhaps the most popular company has an extra-spicy version?"

Sriracha (滙豐食品公司 Huy Fong Foods Corporation) does not make anything stronger. But naturally I remember two sauces that use Habanero chilies: Melinda's, and Dave's.



HOWLING AT THE MOON

["The merciless peppers of Quetzal-Tenango, grown deep in the jungle by inmates of a Guatemalan insane asylum."]

I first encountered Dave's Insanity Sauce several years ago, when Duckwhistle Chin was gloating over his most recent acquisition. He happily let me have a taste, and I marveled at it's intensity. Yes, that is a rather spicy item. It burns. He knew I liked being kicked in the mouth, so he was pleased that I appreciated his sauce as an excellent addition to hamburgers or stewed stringy inedible marshbirds.

While we were talking, we decided that the Redheaded Stepchild, in charge of human resources (and possibly the sheep dip) needed to be exposed to Dave's. So we went into the room where he sat, and innocently told him that we had a sauce we thought he might like, if he ever ventured into spicy territory, but we weren't sure. It might not be flavourful enough. We were hesitant. He probably eschewed such childish things.

We layed it on thick. The Redheaded Stepchild swallowed it up, because we were appealing to his ego and his manly self-image. He was ready to try our humble offering, but he wanted us to go first, just to prove it wasn't poisoned.

Duckwhistle downed a modest spoonful. I did likewise.

Then the Redheaded Stepchild demonstrated what a super hero he was by taking a big gulp.

He had barely said "nah, this ain't ..." when his face turned fire-truck red, and he started sputtering. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't help coughing like a cat with hairballs, an asthmatic infant gasping for air, an inveterate cigarette smoker horking up a lung, or a lion seal bellowing down at the pier. For ten whole minutes. Discreetly and diplomatically he lay down on the floor and contorted.

Duckwhistle and I sat there with stone faces.

Duckwhistle has very little capacity to register capsaicin. Some people are like that. And for myself, I've learned that when a point is to be made, I can ignore almost any amount of pain.
It's good, trust me.
Zen.

When he had finally recovered enough to stop spluttering and convulsing, the Redheaded Stepchild swore that he would never speak to us again, we were evil, positively demented and daemonic, the worst computer engineer and credit dude respectively ever in the whole universe, this was a dark day, he wouldn't forget, and he would get even.

The next week he was boasting to the geeks in the back about this fabulous hot sauce he had discovered, why, it was amazing.
A brilliant discovery. He deserved praise.

Unfortunately, he broke his promise to never speak to us again.
Kept asking us in private how we did it.
We never told.


There are other hotsauces that use extra hot peppers. There are even condiments that use the Bhut Jolokia (ghost pepper) from Assam, a mutant that looks totally innocent and ornamental, but which packs in a fire three to five times hotter than Habanero.
One sauce that has gotten rave reviews is Habanero Hotsauce by Blackmarket Hotsauce dot com. They make an entire range of interesting condiments, and are fresh and zesty.

For further happy exploration among the oral nitroglycerin, go to the list at Insane Chicken, and scope out the impressive selection.
It's from 2012, so some of the sauces may no longer be made.
No, I haven't tried them all. Not even most of them.
I do make my own hot preparations, though.
When I can find fresh habaneros.


Now, returning to the concept of a small woman with a book and badger fetish, who lives somewhere Nob, Russian, or Telegraph hills, I cannot tell you how much the concept captures my interest. If she were to also be a cigar smoker, or at the very least did not mind the fine aromas of pipes and cheroots, I would be thrilled beyond measure. Correspondence may lead to lunch, almost definitely to coffee or tea and cookies.
I knew some restaurants that do good fish.
As well as clay pot cooking.

Most of them have bottles of Sriracha.

But we could bring our own.



AFTERWORD

I rearranged my humidors yesterday. It turns out I have far too many cigars. Including several fine pre-revolutionary Nicaraguans, and some long cheroots from the Philippines that were made to order. I smoked three cigars; a thin Dutchman, a Dominican robusto, and a double corona.
The last two sticks while taking a walk, as it was too close to my apartment mate's estimated time of return to risk doing so indoors. Even though I shut her door tightly when she leaves in the morning, and open all the windows, she still gets a bit miffed if she smells the fancy fragrances.
Fortunately the weather is pleasant enough to wander.
Smoking that substance Californians hate.
Scaring women and horses.

And children.

Precious(!) children.

Mustn't forget the children.


The nasty little f*^kers are our future.



Yes, I really am up at 3:40AM, think about cigars and hotsauce.




==========================================================================
NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:

LETTER BOX.
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.
==========================================================================

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