Sometimes people lay the juju on you. Remarks are made that have a basis on some other thought patterns than you were expecting, and what you hear (or see) may make little sense. Often context is everything. Conversations in Cantonese are often like that, as are discussions about anything at all with pipe smokers.
Chatting with a pipesmoker in Cantonese is, of course, a double blessing. Hold on tight, you don't know where this train will crash.
Maybe on a rickety trestle bridge?
Over a rushing stream.
In the Sierras.
[Mr. Tu smokes RLP-6, which is made with Burley tobacco, Toasted Black Cavendish, and Golden Virginias. The flavouring could be best described as "compressed candy store". It is "addictive".]
Over on Mordechai's Facebook page, someone interrupted a political discussion to talk about flu shots. Which, when you think about it, is on the spectrum.
If you think about it a little longer, your head will hurt.
And, speaking of such things, did I ever mention that my apartment mate and I have Asperger's Syndrome? She's far further on the spectrum, so over the years I've learned to interior monologize whenever she says something baffling. It makes everything much more comprehensible.
[RLP-6 is not something I would choose, even if temporarily nuts, but far be it from me to begrudge stubborn people the freedom to make mistakes.]
For instance, while I was scarfing down a dish of Spam, Yauchoi, Tofu, and Wheat noodles, dressed with Abalone Sauce, Soy sauce, Sriracha hotsauce, plus tomatoes and olive oil, she went over to the hallway mirror and started talking.
My input consists of the stuff in square brackets, not vocalized.
"Not the colour I wanted, but it's soft, and I look HOT wearing it; commanding, like I should be in charge of a submarine."
[Accepting things as they are.]
"Filled with HOT sailors!"
[Catching the ball and running with it.]
"Well, okay, just ONE sailor."
[Approaching things more realistically.]
"I'm tired, I'm going to bed now."
[Did you mention that there are koftas in the refrigerator?]
See? A productive and information-packed exchange. Both participants happy that they got something out of it. I have a secret passion for Spam.
It makes tofu taste good. Don't forget to add ginger. Lots of ginger.
We used to be a couple, in case you were wondering. Broke up a number of years ago, but we still like each other, and trust the other person around our stuff. The underlying friendship remains strong.
Which is a good thing.
And, because she's Cantonese, she's comfortable with my dining habits. If she were blonde, I would have died of gustatory ennui years ago, before we stopped seeing each other "that way".
Of course, given that I've hardly ever met an intelligent blonde, there probably would have been no relationship in the first place.
Either way, it's 'win win'.
And, speaking of 'win win', a reader whom I am certain I know, though we've never met, left the following comment underneath a recent post:
Dear Mr. Back of the Hill,
I am an avid follower of your bloggh. I notice your ability to take any topic, be it Israeli politics, Chinese food, or tobacco inhalation, and run with it, turn it into something creative, thinktanky.
I would very much like to suggest (humbly at this point), a topic for a future post. Perhaps you could write about the connection between the Consitution of Madagascar (text here http://mjp.univ-perp.fr/constit/mg2010.htm) and Dogshit Golf. This is a topic connection that very interests me, and it would be great to read about it on your bloggh. My request right now is humble, but I might get more forceful if you express misgivings about writing such a post.
Your Energetic Reader
I do not have a dog. Consequently, I must approach the subject of whacking any evidence of their digestive process with golfclubs with considerable caution. On the plus side, I live in San Francisco, where there are lots of dogs, of all possible dimensions and personality profiles.
One must take care not to loft a chihuahua with a mashie-niblick.
They're small, and quite disgusting; it's a natural mistake.
Why are chihuahuas dumber than rabbits?
They're the same size.
Given a choice between the two, the sensible man picks the rabbit.
Copyright: mongabay.com / wildmadagascar.org
The Constitution de la IVe République (11 décembre 2010) states preambulatorily that "le peuple malagasy souverain, affirmant sa croyance à Andriamanitra Andriananahary, résolu à promouvoir et à développer son héritage de société vivant en harmonie et respectueuse de l'altérité, de la richesse et du dynamisme de ses valeurs culturelles et spirituelles à travers le « fanahy maha-olona »
, il est expliqué que "Andriamanitra est un terme servant à désigner la divinité suprême. Andriamanitra signifie littéralement « seigneur parfumé ». ]
[The problem is that Mister Tu does not rotate his pipes very often ("ever"), and never cleans them. They are always soggy. Every three or four months he brings them in for me to ream and clean.]
From an anthropological view, Madagascar is a fascinating place, as the dominant culture reflects a connection with Indonesian (Bornean) origins, long isolated and transformed. Linguistically the native language (Malagasy) is a relative of the entire Malayo-Polynesian group. The population is a stable mixture of roughly equal parts South-East Asian and East-African ancestry.
[They are sodden and tar-stained by that time, filled with sticky carbon deposits.]
Especially in the traditional caste / class divisions of society does Madagascar show relationship with their kin across the ocean. Many of the terms and titles used are clearly of Malayo-Polynesian derivation, though the exact roots cannot always be recognized. For someone fascinated by languages, reading long lists of Malagasy words is both addictive and frustrating. What does it all mean? How does this relate to similar words which I already know?
[A pity, because Mister Tu has some eppes nice briars.]
Of course, framing their constitution in French further frustrates. Especially when they speckle that language with long poly-syllabic constructs that are unknown. It's like reading English with key concepts framed in Russian.
[That resemble sewers at the end of the cycle.]
The present Madagascene constitution has one hundred and sixty eight articles, not a single one of which mentions golf, whether suburban country club style or urban-defecatory. I fear my "energetic reader" is off on wild goose chase.
[Very wet and stinky sewers.]
In fact, given the absence of ANY connection at all between the constitution of the fourth republic and "dogshit golf", one naturally suspects that the presumed link was picked at random, and that one could as easily and imaginatively posit a relationship between that document and rat crack, cigar smoking Hhasidim, the Keter Aram Tzova, the Shir HaShirim Asher LiShlomo, and that helicopter which is flying overhead. There is certainly no less fibre between them.
[Anyhow, after I'm done, they are one hundred percent smokeable again. And they look and smell decent.]
To the best of my knowledge, urban yuppies in Madagascar do not habitually whack pet excrement over the garden fence at their neighbors. That, truly, is an all-American custom. And given that we have so many canines in San Francisco, I refuse to go into the yard for fear of flying poo. Crazy I'm not.
[I clean up toxic waste dumps.]
What particularly strikes me though is the fact that the central kingdom had a number of strong female rulers. In that they also resemble their distant kin, particularly the Achenese and Minangkabau. Both of which are at heart matrilineal societies, though modified by a strong Islamic identity.
[I'd really like to sit him down and explain: "Mister Tu, do NOT constantly smoke the same pipe! Let it rest after use, and employ pipe cleaners!"]
In the case of the Achenese, who call their land "the gateway to Mecca", because pilgrims took ship there for the Arab world, the state institutions were based on Muslim standards. Whereas the Minangkabau, equally fervent in their faith, never the less preserved the superior position of women, and ranked men's rights to property and status as subject to their wives and their in-laws.
["Both bristly (to remove tar inside the shank) and fluffy absorbent ones (to sop up those nasty vanilla fruit loop caramel juices)."]
In Acheh, like in Minangkabau, men gained independent wealth and status by moving out, and consequently both groups have trade links across the entire archipelago. Their position "at home" is often a discordant and inferior one.
["And while RLP-6 is a might fine product -- it must be, seeing as every pipestore in North America sells it in some form or other -- it is very much like a syphilitic whore of whichever gender; seemingly charming, but not the relationship you want for your son or daughter."]
One peculiarity that crops up in Malagasy history is the custom that the queens solidified their role by marrying their prime ministers.
["Popularity does not mean worth associating with."]
Some of whom they subsequently assassinated for being bothersome old cocks. In a few cases they then ended up marrying the decedent's brother, who had inherited the position.
["Try some nice Oriental blends, Mister Tu. Or a maidenly Virginia and Perique compound."]
It's a peculiar way of establishing authority. Conceivably this is an East-African influence.
["If you treat your pipe like a friend, she may eventually love you."]
Imagine that Elizabeth had to marry David Cameron. Hardly a match made in heaven. One can only roll one's eyes at the concept of combining that with regular democratic elections and the prospect of regime shift every four years.
["As it is, she bites, blows, and sucks."]
And what on earth would a parliamentary vote of no-confidence mean under those circumstances?
["And this one -- a beautiful black blasted Peterson bent billiard with a silver rim -- has developed cracks in the bowl."]
The Thatcher years would have been surpassingly surreal, almost defying description entirely.
["I've repaired it, and I think the fills will hold. In any case there's enough caking on the inside to maintain a modicum of structural integrity."]
Come to think of it, they were. Those were horrible times! Commoners and Andriana both saw their traditional position diminished, the economy of the Island was in shambles, and the combination of colonial rule and abolition of slavery imposed severe hardships on outlying cities of the realm like Belfast and Glasgow.
["But for crapssakes, Mister Tu, smoke clean! If you let a pipe dry out, and thin down the cake regularly, it will not crack, and you'll get many more years of pleasure out of it."]
In 1970, the British Empire lay in ruins, foreign nationals roamed the streets -- many of them Hungarian -- and many of these Hungarians went into Tobacconist's shops to buy cigarettes.
["Yeah, I know. RLP-6 just tastes SO effing good, when the tars and saps hit boiling point and that intoxicating vanilla cream perfume fills your sinuses."]
Hungarians are all in all rather like the Vazimba, living in the big rivers like the Amazon. They are larger than frogs, and eat honey.
["But good lord, Mister Tu, good lord."]
What sets them apart is the tradition of 'turning the dead' ("famadihana"), which involves removing the body from its sepulchre and re-wrapping it in fresh silken shrouds. This honours the omnipresent soul of the expiree ("ambiroa"), which permeates the tomb building, the family household, and the hills and valleys of Magyar Kuztaarsaszaug.
[I tried RLP-6 once.]
Even for the most well-to-do Magyar, this involves considerable expense, because of the need to host huge numbers of relatives and observe all the correct protocols. But is gladly done, due to the importance of the ancestors in the lives of their descendants.
[Sometimes risks are worth taking.]
Without their benevolent influence, there would be no protection against Gypsies, and the family farmlands would be over-run with horse-drawn carts, wild goats, and thousands of little unwashed black-haired children running riot and stealing eggs.
Carpathia is a harsh mistress, gringo, and will kill you in ways you cannot imagine.
[Good pipe tobacco only, boys and girls, good pipe tobacco.]
It is to their credit that the Malagyarsy have, like the people in Marin, invented tofu as a Vegan substitute for eggs. Especially because eggs keep disappearing.
[Aromatics have no morals.]
Always protect your eggs, gringo. Always. The world is filled with young men who attack things with golf clubs.
[Do NOT douse yourself with cheap perfume.]
Perhaps they're in that helicopter that is flying overhead. I wouldn't put it past them. Flying Gipsies!
[I'm a missionary for clean living.]
When all else fails, hold onto your teddy bear!
[Depravity has to be tasteful and discreet.]
It's probably a good thing that neither rabbits nor chihuahuas are native to Madagascar. Or even urban male yuppies with clubs and Gipsies.
Given that they take over the territories and food-sources of other creatures, like Hungarians and lemurs.
[Not advertised to one an all with Hello Kitty odours.]
"What about the penguins", I hear you wailing, "will no one think about the penguins?"
Please don't worry.
I think about the penguins.
They are constantly on my mind.
Probably splendid with a squirt of Sriracha.
I was in Marin all day today, absorbing the stimulation that is guaranteed by the presence of cigar smokers. They are such intellectually rewarding influences. It's refreshing. I feel like a brand new man.
Why IS a helicopter flying overhead?
I am a pipe smoker.
NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.
Labels: Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein and the yeshiva