At the back of the hill

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

Thursday, December 31, 2015

WELCOMING THE NEW YEAR

Traditionally, in preparation for the new year, most people do two things:
they resolve to become a new and better person, and then they go out and get blitz-roaring blotto. Yay, new year!

Orgasms! Public intoxication!
And handcuffs!


This blogger doesn't do that. A little alcohol is fine, but those photos of me dancing Gangnam Style were taken when I was stone cold sober.
Just imagine what would have happened if I were squiffy.

Nor do I make resolutions.

I am already perfect.



Actually, there are some resolutions from a long time ago that necessarily take precedence (they're first on list, and first to be ignored), and I have already managed to become a better person.

In my twenties I was far from complete, and I'm quite glad I am no longer like the young fellow I was back then.

I'm fairly happy with how I have changed in the intervening years.
My personality, diction, and knowledge have improved.
I am a more diplomatic person than before.
And I still like tobacco.


Yeah, my pipe collection is a hell of a lot better than it was. Inevitably, and accidentally. But the character improvements are largely due to the people with whom I associate, and who after all these years still tolerate my company; I have been exceedingly fortunate in that regard.

Older, yes. Wiser, perhaps a little.
It's work in progress.


I hope all of you have a great new year, achieve whatever you most want, and end up stinking rich and happy in the process.


Now, I'm heading out for a slice of pizza, after which I'll enjoy a pipeful of tobacco and a little whisky. Have a good night, folks.
See you in 2016.




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YOUR FOOD STINKS

As you know this blogger is NOT a breakfast person. Frankly, the putrid muck Americans stuff in their gobs at the crack of dawn nauseates and appalls me. Sugar, grease, and boiled starch.
With some of the worst coffee on the planet.

Breakfast muffins, breakfast burritos, and breakfast on a stick.

The Americans, however, pale into insignificance when compared to the British. Limp bacon, fried tomato, bean muck, and cold toast.
Of which, strangely, some people are inordinately fond.
And, if you're lucky, sausage and black pudding.
If you're not, sausage and black pudding.


"Egg, bacon, sausage, beans, tomatoes, toast, hash browns, black pudding, small chunks of lard, coffee or tea."


The last time I had a British fry-up, I had that other thing that England is famous for: three full days of acid indigestion. I couldn't wait to get to civilization after that. The Dutch may not be the most imaginative cooks on the planet, but anything beats the repulsive disasters with which native speakers of English customarily start the day.

[This blogger is a native speaker of English, by the way.]


Instead of burnt grease and assorted spackle, I should prefer a small bowl of rice porridge with lean pork and preserved egg, some hot buttered toast with Oxford marmalade, a little sauerkraut or kimchi, and strong coffee. Then a pipeful of aged Virginia tobacco, and a newspaper.
With, naturally, a second cup of strong coffee.
Around nine or ten o'clock.
Not at dawn.



I'll admit to a weakness for tapsilog, litsilog, or tosilog.
Masarap na pagkain, sigurado.
Early lunch.




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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

BENGALI CUISINE AND BUDDHADEV BOSU

While I like getting new readers, I find it disturbing that on a weekly basis several of them end up here reading my essays because they are desperate perverts. I sympathise with desperate perverts, I really do, but I look forward to not meeting them. Ever.

Perhaps I should never have named a post "Naked School Girl" several years ago. But at that time it simply seemed the most straightforward title for an effusive paean of praise for Bengali cuisine.
Which is mighty dang fine, oh golly yes.
And relies muchly on ghee.


Still, I shouldn't complain. The curious pervert probably reads that the school girl is nineteen or twenty (and eating chocolate cake), and then promptly loses interest. Because what he was looking for was a younger specimen, and he wanted pictures. Or maybe it was a 'she'.
She wanted pictures.

There are very many pictures on this blog.
NONE of them are nude students.
This is a modest page.


Normally I would not be contemplating this matter at thirty minutes to twelve on a work night, but I just finished eating a meatball sandwich with Sriracha hot sauce on toasted sourdough, and am presently enjoying a shot of Scots Whisky (Laphroaig).

See, my apartment mate -- who used to be a schoolgirl, many years ago, when I first met her (SF State, in her early twenties) -- came home late, and after putting away the cookies and biscotti she had bought, sat on the edge of my bed telling me all about her crazy boyfriend. Who cannot appreciate that the chicken breast she cooked for him was moist and juicy, and just packed with flavour. He said it was too salty (because he's such a sensitive clod), whereas she felt there wasn't nearly enough of anything.

She's very precise about the preparation of food.
He just bungs stuff into the microwave.

Spices upset his tummy.

Hoo hah!

And, speaking of such things, she wondered what the heck Boo-King chicken sandwiches are made out of. Because there is no part of the chicken that's already mealy and uniformly breaded when you slaughter a bird. But remarkably she was not suffering from indigestion.

I remarked that that was probably because it was reconstituted, and therefore its 'deconstituting' took far less effort. Subsequent to that, packages of ketchup were mentioned, as well as strange bread-like substances, along with fried banana with a pinch of cinnamon and gobs of whipped cream, some warm breadpudding on the side.

Then chocolate pudding came up.

At which point, having avidly discussed food past my bedtime for an hour and a half, I felt the need to fix myself a bite to eat. I've finished my snack, and a few moments ago I started looking at my blog stats.
Which is how I discovered that someone found my blog by typing "naked schoolgirl" into his search bar.

Don't know where he is. But he's probably an American.
Almost certainly not interested in college students.
Or the wonder that is Bengali Cuisine.



FYI: The former schoolgirl from San Francisco State is presently in her own room, in bed, reading something which is making her laugh.




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I'M JUST SAYING

I thought it was supposed to be clear and sunny today. Yet, when I look out of the window, it seems all gloom and foreboding. It does not help that I am slightly hearing impaired; I can hear wet sounds even when there aren't any.

The rainy season is scarcely a month old and already this weather irritates me. It is sad when the warmest part of my body is my arse, buggery sad.
Yet if I stay out too long the warmest part is the burning fevered stretch of right leg from mid-thigh to mid calf. About a year ago I twisted around in my sleep and wrenched something, and while the entire leg felt viciously rebellious for several months, mostly it has healed.
Still. Cold weather. The worst in me.
Oh my buggery leg.

When I'm not working I spend far too much time outdoors.

Being outside is vastly over-rated.



Things I hate: anti-vaccination morons, the anti-gmo crowd, yoga for white people, exercise clubs, vegans, religious types, right-wingers, conspiracy theorists, stupid tourists, spoiled brats, airheads, people who squeal with emotion, the organic food industry, artistic types, pretentious Beat poseurs, people who post unsubstantiated shit, non-readers, football, football fans, sports teevee, anyone who asserts that they have a food-allergy when they really don't, bars that cater to mid-twenties consumerites, pink on grown-up women, poetry about flowers or babies, uber-sensitive souls, the suburbs, four-frou coffee drinks, meaningful shit, the real housewives, marijuana, new age crap, kale, and several important modern literary figures.

Things I like: raccoons, dogs, crows, and rodents.
Pipes and tobacco, tea, and snacks.
Stuffed animals.


I honestly would not mind the outdoors if it were summer in Holland during a downpour. Fresh green growing stuff, a warmish breeze, and a copse of leafy trees. No nearby cows, nor humans.
Cup of coffee, under a deep awning.

With a favourite person.
Or a dry cheroot.
Or a pipe.




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TORCHES AND PITCHFORKS WILL BE SHARED WITH THOSE WHO NEED THEM

You know, it's not just the office types from the Embarcadero towers. There are also other people on the Number One California heading outbound. Some of whom are in their own way fascinating, like the gentleman with a tribal-size box of diapers on his lap yacking on the phone about dogs, a coworker with an attitude problem, promotions, and selfish management types.
Personally I like drooges whose shattered dreams might incline them to go postal on their bosses. Their existence shows that there is still light in the world. When enough people man the barricades, misbehave, and burn this shit-house down, we will end up being a far better society.
Lets start with churches and the entire state of Texas.
Then loot the banks and smash plate glass.
There is so much to be done.
So many targets.
Tumult!


VACUOUS TWATS

There's a type of young white woman who usually has perfectly applied foundation and skin colourants, lipstick, eye-shadow, and mascara. As well as the most blank and empty eyes, made more so by that artifice. Often they also have designer shmatte and perfect handbags. There were nearly ten of them on the bus yesterday evening, clusterfudging around the back door and glaring at those who wished to pass.

Ladies, your type is completely useless. Not even the smelly brutes of ISIS would find you attractive. And I'm willing to bet that if you have two university degrees between the lot of you, at least one of them is from a college somewhere in the hinterland that has a department of beauticiary sciences.

Demand a refund of your charm-school fees.

You geese are far too noisy.
Kindly up-shut the F.


I am not a tolerant man. While the concept of "womenfolk" does get my whole-hearted approval, the actuality is often quite nauseating. Women should dress simply and neatly, not tart themselves up, behave like ladies, and have intelligent and interesting things to say.

I think men should do likewise.

And NO tattoos or skin art!



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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

BOSC PEARS ARE IN SEASON. SO IS BITTER MELON.

Lunch was bitter melon and porky bits fried noodles with a touch of stinky fish byproduct, a restrained amount of hot sauce, and extra ginger. This blogger, being a child of his times, likes hot sauce and ginger.
The bitter melon is, of course, timeless.
Generation after generation.
Wholesome, crisp.

You can add hot sauce, fish byproduct, and ginger to everything.
Trust me, absolutely everything.
It's better than sex.
That too.


If I had been this age sixty years ago, it probably would have been a little different. As the picture below suggests.




Now personally, I think that that is totally wrong. And possibly even something that Chipotle or Olive Garden would do. Criminal.
Surely everybody knows that the best dressing for pear halves is plenty of crumbled crispy bacon with some of the grease?

Lettuce should be cooked.
Add oyster sauce.



Hell may freeze over ere I combine bitter melon and Miracle Whip.
Life is too short for irresponsible dining.




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INDIAN ENGLISH, SO VERY LOVELY

A conversation yesterday evening imparted the startling news that Desi English was impenetrable for many Americans, and hence call-centres were being opened in the Philippines so that technically illiterate Yanks could be carefully and gently walked through simple procedures on their computers or hand-held devices.

Given that I too have carefully and gently walked my fellow Yanks through basic arithmetic and spelling, at least that last was thoroughly believable.

The purported unintelligibility, not.

I've heard Texans.

Mumble drawl and bark.

Good lord, I say, good lord.

However, there are times when the world's most widely spoken version of English may seem slightly incomprehensible to plain white ears.
Not everyone is from Yorkshire.
Or Rednekkistan.


JINGELLAH-JINGELL!



[SOURCE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_uR9JAZdAfA.]


It is melodious and festive. And this, my friends, is what everyone speaking English one hundred years from now will sound like. Because more people speak Desi English than Americanese or Cockney.
As for the Philippinos, sometimes they are quite incomprehensible, despite their neat ability to do basic math and spell correctly.


Melodious & festive, approximately & exactly.


Desi English saru chhe.



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Monday, December 28, 2015

THE GERMAN BIRTH CONTROL DEVICE ROBBERY

Sometimes it's like living with a creative genius. Sometimes, a horde of little furry psychopaths. She voices for the stuffed creatures, and also for herself. Often while doing other things too.

This evening she was behind her computer doing research while watching Jewelry TeeVee.

I mentioned that a German man had accidentally caused his own demise by blowing up a condom machine with a homemade bomb, which blasted a metal shard into his brain.


First musing: "A well-aimed shard, that; tiny brain."

Second musing: "Free-range morons; probably just a road hazard in Europe."

Third musing: "I wonder how his mourners will keep from giggling at his funeral."

Fourth musing: "They'll probably quarrel, along the lines of "hah, that''s YOUR side of the family, not mine", and "I told you that bathing regularly softens the mind"!"


Somewhat surprisingly, she evinced no sympathy whatsoever with the dead guy, nor with those who have now lost their beloved older idiot brother or young sh*t-for-brains child. I would have thought, given that she is easily moved by sad events and tragedies, that she would have at least exclaimed "oh, that's SO sad, so buggery effing SAD!"

Or something similarly heartfelt and emotional.

Nope. None of that. I guess the loss his kinfolk feel does not move her in the slightest. Which indicates that she is, after all, quite normal.



New word: Obstreptorous. This uttered in a conversation between two stuffed animals, one of whom now looks worn out from holding it all in.
The other one is a paranoid little woozums.



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DAYTIME OMISSION

Several people have pointed out that the East-Coast is presently warmer than the Bay Area. Connecticut and New York are positively balmy! Virginia and the Carolinas? Shirtsleeves!
And Florida, good heavens!

Well lah dee dah.

We are San Francisco. We don't care.
Our weather is exactly as it should be.


It's an ice-cube out there. Perfect, if one has the option of snuggling underneath a warm blanky with another person, who may or may not have brought a book with her, and who occasionally asks for another cup of tea or hot cocoa. And a sweet biscuit. Which, as you know by now, is not feasible today, what with work and all.

It would hypothetically be feasible tomorrow, though not at all likely. Reason being that none of the various "hers" I know are aware of how delightful and comforting it is to be right next to me and my delicious aroma of coffee and pipe-tobacco, fully clothed, with a novel by Georges Simenon, and several stuffed animals.

It's not on a billboard somewhere.

And I have never told them.

The fault is mine.

Sorry.




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Sunday, December 27, 2015

YOU NEED A FORKED STICK

There are certain phrases one would prefer not to hear, and normally does not expect to hear in the first place. My apartment mate is a genius at uttering them. It's a talent.
She was on the phone with Wheelie Boy (the man she's been seeing for a number of operatic years) when I returned from Marin County.


"No, she didn't make herself up like a hooker!"


This was said indignantly. Apparently Wheelie Boy had expressed the opposite opinion. It's sometimes an odd feeling being witness to two Aspies communicating; there's a peculiarly focused intensity.

[A third party and their appearance were being discussed, as near as I can gather.]

Unlike them, my conversations never cast aspersions on other people's lipstick and eye-shadow. I'm far more likely to remark that "he looks dumb and brutish, like a line-backer" (no, I do not know what a line-backer is, btw), or that so and so has "a peculiar air of bovine vacuity".
Not a value judgment, but a statement of fact.


So it is with disarming honesty that I will inform you that many cigar smokers in Marin County are complete and utter idiots.
Besides being insufferably right-wing.


I spent the day holding them at bay with a forked stick.


I am rather fascinated by the concept that someone mis-applied her face-paint so badly that it could be interpreted amiss. The young ladies at the cigar-club yesterday evening didn't have any at all, and so could not help but look fresh and innocent.
A smear of crimson lipstick would have made them seem refreshingly naughty, which in that environment might cause a riot. Delicious.


On the other hand, the bloated pig-man who split from his patient and kind companion recently should not be encouraged to stay for another drink and one more cigar. Which any suggestion of naughty could do.
We do not want that.


I wouldn't mind taking a young lady there at some point, but I would have to warn her in advance about cigar smokers. Some of whom are pig-men. Some of whom are dumb and brutish. Even bovine.
And some of whom are utter idiots.


And I would give her a forked stick.




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Saturday, December 26, 2015

ALL THE ELEMENTS OF A SOCIAL ISSUE

Houston, we have a problem. The fine red sweater I gave to Savage Kitten for Christmas suits the small gorilla much better. That is to say, he's taken ownership of it, and happily informs the one-legged gibbon that he's styling: "Oh yes, I look much better than you. Oh well."
You can see where this could be tricky.
Don't want to disappoint him.
And it's not his size.

For another thing, being a rather perverted sort, I had expected that Savage Kitten would look quite splendid wearing it.

A slim Cantonese woman in a close-fitting top.

But the stuffed gorilla hijacked it.

Dang.

This morning, when I woke up, the gibbon and the gorilla were arguing. The gorilla told the gibbon that clearly he was unimportant, as he did not have a nice new sweater, all soft, and perfect. Hah, sorry-ass inferior creature!
To which the gibbon's response was outrage and histrionic despair.

All of this developed since yesterday mid-afternoon, when I gave Savage Kitten her present. I headed into Chinatown for something to eat, and she went over to the house of one of her siblings for Christmas dinner and the usual warm family hoohah.

As you will understand, we are just apartment mates.
So we do different things for the holidays.
I often end up eating Chinese.


Yesterday afternoon and early evening Chinatown was surprisingly busy.
Problem is that the moment I hear Mandarin, I cringe.
Those Northerners are ... odd.

Stockton Street: Cantonese folks shopping for dinner. Grant Avenue: Strange white people. Everywhere else: The discordant quacking of Mandarin speakers or staccato chirping in Tagalog.

Mandarin speakers aren't really our kind of people. They tend toward inexplicable insanity, and the good lord only knows what subcultural peculiarities they bring to the discourse.

Mainlanders are somewhat less properly Chinese than one would expect, and Taiwanese a bit too Chinese. Shanghainese and Fujianese are at times dazzlingly opaque. Cantonese people represent a civilized balance.

They are sane perspicacious realists.



Both the Gibbon (Eurasmus Wazzoo) and the small Gorilla (Mr. Arabello Oyster) speak only English, with, usually, correct accents. They do not speak Dutch or Mandarin, but there is very clear evidence that they understand foul language in Cantonese. All of the other small fuzzy beasties also seem to understand Cantonese to a certain extent.

They sound remarkably like Savage Kitten, my apartment mate.

I must often mind what I say because of their sensitivities.
The completely sane ones live in her room.
Those less so in mine.


I'm not sure how that happened.



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Friday, December 25, 2015

SMELLING A LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS

Being the sort of man that I am -- mature, and no longer a callow youth in my early twenties, but grouchy and stubborn, quite the pissant , often bad-tempered, yet a spare and restrained puritan withal -- celebrating Christmas is not part of my programme. Meaning no roast goose, no plum pudding, no overload of pralines and marzipan, no saccharine children's voices singing carols or squealing with glee.

Christmas is a time of contemplation.

Specifically, contemplating OTHER people snarfing down the roast goose and plum pudding, with angelic kiddies singing in the distant background, and gay tinkly titters of joy.
'Bah', and 'Feh'!

Scrooge and the Grinch are my heroes.

Their determined sufferings during this festive season are sheer epics of resolve and principle. Their battle-cry: "bah humbug!"
Exemplary!


"Bah, humbug!"


I'm washed and dressed, and off to Chinatown to eat tofu. I normally hardly touch the stuff, but today I feel like it. There are two pipes in my coat pocket, along with a pouch of tobacco from a freshly opened tin.

First tea. Then a pipe. Then dinner, and another pipe.
There's an operational theme here.


GERMAIN'S MEDIUM FLAKE
Manufactured in Jersey, British Isles,
by: J.F.Germain & Son
Manufacturers of fine tobaccos since 1820.

Pipe Tobacco made with selected
red and golden tobaccos.
Pressed to create a flake of
medium density and sliced for your
enjoyment.



Review: sweet, mild, and plummy. Fully rubbed it yields pale strands of a very refined appearance. Yes, there is a top-dressing, though that provides an aroma well in keeping with aged Virginias. It smells like the tins of Japanese cigarettes (50) which I purchased years ago.
Apricots, with a hint of fresh hay.

It reminds me of holidays in Switzerland during younger years, the age at which I did not yet smoke a pipe or drink whiskey. Very summery.
And consequently also suitable for Christmas.

Here's a picture of Jersey in winter:


WHITE CHRISTMAS
 



I wonder if there is a perfume with the exact fragrance of this tobacco.
It would be very suitable for a young woman of delicate build.
Someone nice, with sparkling eyes.


I may have a glass of whiskey after nightfall.
At a place where I can smoke.



TOBACCO INDEX


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DOWNTOWN GOAT MEN

Over four years ago I made one of our number immortal. Admittedly, that wasn't my intent, as the fellow in question is a modest man and does not seek the limelight. Wisely he avoids publicity and the press.
For fear that men in white coats may find him.
There's a padded cell with his name.

Soft rubbery walls.

Which would be more comforting than he could bear. He prefers to roam free in the wilds of downtown, eschewing such pansy things as restraints, ball gags, the absence of tools with which he could hurt himself, and upholstered walls.

Men Who Stare At Goats

It was a kinder gentler age. San Francisco was a different place then. We all had flowers in our hair, and the venerable Agent Left Testicle spoke kind words to the adoring crowd, sharing ancient Eastern wisdom with them.
Several of whom were bankers, and desperate for answers.
Among whom many considered him a wizard.
Or at least an oracle.

In real life, he does something with Real Estate.
I asked him once, but forgot what.

His conversational abilities are legendary, and leave one gasping for air. No, he is not a degenerate, despite his enthusiastic fondness for Pigeon Man, disturbing knowledge of gents with lacy underwear, and sheer goatness.


You might like him.


An earlier mention of Agent Left Testicle is here:

Cigar smoker brain scramble.

The man. The myth.
Legend.





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GAI MEI BAO 雞尾包 -- FINE FOR STUFFED CREATURES

When I woke up the apartment was empty. Which is odd, because I had clearly heard my apartment mate rummaging around earlier.
As well as the "voices" of the stuffed creatures.

It turns out that she had simply popped across the hill to Chinatown to pick up something for breakfast. And, remarkably, some of the stuffed creatures were full of praise upon her return.


"We monkeys just LOVE gai mei bao!"


When your apartment mate grew-up in Chinatown, it should come as no surprise that Cantonese foods and concepts are part of the vocabulary of the stuffed creatures. But I'm baffled that the one-legged gibbon knows about gai mei bao. I had no idea.

The 雞尾包, or 'Cocktail Bun', is not something one normally associates with small crazed furballs. Especially as it was not available two or three decades ago in quite the form that we are now familiar with. Along with strong bitter milk-tea, tapioca drinks, and garlic noodles, it blew in from Hong Kong as the population of C'town changed over the years.

A sweet buttery coconut-shreddy mash-up surrounded be sweet dough and baked. Superlative fresh. Texture variance meets flavour in a comfort food.

Monkeys just love gai mei bao.

And so do humans.



AFTERWORD

This blogger regrets that he is not a breakfast person. The idea of a hot gai mei bao sounds lovely, but all I can tolerate for the first two or three hours after getting up is strong coffee and depressingly bad news from my favourite newspaper sites.

But later, when I've wandered into Chinatown myself today, I shall seek out a place which does gai mei bao. A nice cup of strong milk-tea and a hot gai mei bao around four o'clock (tea time) sounds like the perfect preamble to smoking a pipe while feeling festive in the freezing cold.
Or maybe a toasted piggy bun with butter.
That too.


Not a breakfast person. A tea-time snackipoo followed by aged Virginia tobacco person. I spend more time outdoors on my days off than most healthfreaks and anti-smokers. Total lumberjack, yeah.



California during the rainy season: ah, the smell of fresh growing things.
Mold, mildew, and moss.




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GREAT GOBS OF IT

Got home from Marin at eleven thirty. There are times when I enjoy Marin County. And obviously I also enjoy being able to smoke at work. Which is in Marin County. But today was unusual in one key regard: delicious food. Normally I do not associate Marin with food that is more than just edible.
The food to which I am exposed four days a week (in Marin) is fuel.
Decently edible, but hardly thrilling (!understatement!).
The only truly unspeakable food-item in Marin was from a gas-station convenience store three years ago. I can still vividly remember the strange meat-like sliced spackle and velveety square, as well as the peculiar substance standing in for bread.
Three years ago. What WAS that spackle?


The good news is that the stinky cheese was packed well enough that the boss never once wondered what had died in the office. It was bought on Wednesday, and when I came home I dumped that bag on my bed with the wine before heading out again to purchase bumwad at Walgreens. One does not want to head into the weekend without enough bumwad for two people. This is especially true when the person whose task it is to ensure a sufficiency of bumwad is  A)  working in Marin, except on his days off, and  B)  it might rain any day.
Both 'no bumwad' and 'soggy bumwad' are equally depressing.

When I came home with my papery purchases, the apartment and my bed smelled foetid. So I bunged it into the refrigerator. Which, at seven A.M. on Christmas Eve morning, had acquired a completely unique good lord what is that reek personality.
I packed it into another plastic bag before rushing out the door.

It wafted a ripeness on the way over, which was more noticeable after work, despite my having been around cigar smokers all day.
It had made progress in those few hours.

And was warmly received at the dinner party when it arrived.
A cheese capable of making new friends.
It had social polish.


The bad news is a resurgence of gout. Due to seafood (crabs and clams). And possibly too much cheese. But it was worth it.


LINUS

Met a small dog whom I had not seen there before. Intelligent and likable, but single-mindedly obsessing about the smells of food being prepared, as well as the wonderful odour of the "fromage perfide", barely out of reach.
He was too well-behaved to jump on the coffee table while humans were about, so we made sure to remove all the cheeses when dinner started.
I am sure he felt horribly cheated when he discovered that.
He had an air of sour grapes when I saw him next.
Especially as he could still smell it.

That cheese defined malolience.
It was richly puzzolent.
Delicious.

I hope that his Christmas day will be abundantly cheesy.

And everyone else's too.




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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

BIG BALL OF WAX

Questions from readers: my readers are infinitely curious. Which is good, because curiosity always means the discovery of new fields of knowledge, and hence the progression of culture and society.
These are things which I totally encourage.
The enrichment of humanity.
It's all good stuff.


My readers ask this:


"How many cigarillos?"

Enough, and not one more. Why do you need to know? Is this weird stalker behaviour?


"By the way, why do you no longer write any full posts in Dutch?"

Because most Dutch people read English perfectly well, whereas most English-speakers are non-functional and completely illiterate in any other language except spritch.


"Would you like more details, now that I've recovered more?"

No.


"What was the story behind your three months without tobacco? Please, the story! A post!"

No.


"How can you be so sure that Cantonese girls aren't reading your every post?"

Because they aren't.


"How do you feel about celebratory Christmas season group sex?"

Ambivalent doesn't even begin to describe it.


"Are you married?"

Have you been paying ANY attention at all? For over five years I've been lamenting my singletude, whining up a storm about sleeping alone at all hours of the day, bellyaching about the absence of a good woman in my life, making snarky comments about love and romance, and generally speaking being a relationally desperate old grouch.
You haven't noticed? What are you? Dense?
Brazilian?


"So what are your requirements for a girl friend?"

What kind of a question is that? And why do you want to know? Don't you think that that is kind of personal? Unless you are a matchmaker keen for a challenge, it really isn't data to which you should by privy.
I just don't feel comfortable going into detail.
It seems like a private matter.
Besides being moot.



Go ahead. Ask questions. How else will you learn?




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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

WHAT IS THAT CALLED IN YOUR LANGUAGE?

Apparently the term kwailo can be used conversationally to the kwailo who siks chongman. And there is every reason to assume that it was meant casually and even affectionately. Still, I don't think I am actually quite comfortable with it. The problem is that there are so few acceptable substitutes. And none that trip easily off the tongue.
Lofan is a rarer and more strained usage.
Baakchong is never heard at all.


Kwailo sik jongman

鬼佬識中文


All of this because I interjected a comment into a conversation at the barber shop, to the great startlement of some customers.
Who had not expected that.

You know, in truth no one expects that. Caucasians usually don't get beyond the "ni hao wo ai ni" stage, which is Mandarin besides.

I was starving by the time I left, and headed straight to a place where the food is simple and home-style, and the milk tea is robust. Plate lunch special: 鹹魚茄子飯 ('haam yü ke ji faan') -- salt fish eggplant rice. Think of it as the equivalent of riso e moulinjan (melanzane ) con alici.
Very similar flavour. Jan hou mei.


Pipe smoke, rain, darkened streets, car doors, wettish sounds.
Moon over the pyramid. Smell of fatty roasting meat.
Animated girl outside bubble tea place.
Old lady parking car.
Waverly.




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SURVIVAL SKILLS

The world's cutest cigar smoker asked me yesterday how would I smoke if, on a rainy day, I could not keep the windows wide open. Seeing as the apartment needs to ventilate, so that my apartment mate does not get upset upon her return in the evening. The worlds cutest cigar smoker has a similar problem, because her teenage daughter does not know about her excellent habit, and must be kept in the dark as long as possible.

Responsible adults will not smoke in front of their kids, so that the little darlings don't grow up thinking it's cool (which pipe and cigar smoking totally is) and eventually try to imitate.

By that standard, I would be a most irresponsible adult.

"Hey kid, this is a pipe, it's the cat's miao!"

"Neener neener neener!"

Neat-o keen.


A HORRIBLE ROLE MODEL

It's a hard and solitary job, and there is neither emotional support, nor an office admin. Not even an assistant. But it has to be done.

My task on this planet is to lead people astray, and everything remains copacetic as long as my apartment mate's teddy bear does not end up smelling like pipe and cigar fumes. Which is totally achievable.
I have no wife, kids, girl friend, or young relatives.
So I'll just be a shining example to others.
Who will envy my groovy pipe.

Little kids too. Children are utterly fascinated by pipes.
And my evident enjoyment will be remembered.
Deeply nestled in their subconscious.
To emulate as teenagers.


At least I hope that is what will happen. Kids nowadays are a rather unimaginative bunch, and many of them have never seen real pipes and tobacco, because their parents shelter them and surround them, feeding them all-natural fruits and berries.
The most dangerous thing most children encounter before expensive therapy as young adults is tofu.


[Trigger warning! Tofu. Tofu tofu tofu. Dead bunny rabbits. Ancient Greek play. Charles Dickens. Something non-feminist. Environment, global warming, goose liver, vegetables.]


My plans today are haircut in the morning, smoke a pipe, get rained upon, lunch, smoke a pipe, get rained upon, milk-tea and a baked snackipoo around four o'clock, smoke a pipe, get rained upon.
Pretty much all of that will take place in Chinatown, various locations.
In the evening I will listen to Cantonese opera practice for half an hour before heading over to the noisy part of C'town at eleven thirty for a drink or two with an old friend.

I expect that we will get rained upon.

Good thing I have an umbrella.

It keeps the pipe dry.



[Sorry, I guess I should've given y'all the trigger warning at the very beginning, huh? But then you would not have gotten all the way down here. Sorry. That's life. The new Starwars movie will really warp you; it's full of traumatic stuff. Meat, refined sugar, vaccination, and GMO's.]




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Monday, December 21, 2015

HAVING IT IN WRITING

One of the clickbait websites shows numerous "passive aggressive" notes from one neighbor to another neighbor. Obviously, these aren't love notes, or just friendly polite reminders of minor matters. It is serious!
These are breaches against a presumed normalcy.
No mere observations or updates.

What they need to get off their chests is dog poop and loud sex.


DOG POOP AND LOUD SEX!

There are correct places for both of those things, albeit not, usually, an overlap of space where either is appropriate.

I do not know where either of those places are. The apartment building in which I reside is a pet-free zone (although a nice silent lizard on an electric rock would probably be okay), and I cannot remember the last time I heard loud sex. Maybe there has never been any loud sex in this building, to the best of my knowledge. Which must obviously mean that they waited, conspiratorily, till I was out of the house to do it. Whoever done it.

Or maybe they're hoping that I will be the first?

If so, they may be waiting a mighty long time.

I've always thought that there was something show-offy about over-the-top ecstatic screaming, even if it's just a shopping spree or a damned football game. Enjoyment or appreciation, whether sexual, shopping related, or connected with large sweaty muscular men in shiny spandex pants, is better done discreetly.


Random neighbors having loud sex is remarkably like dog poop.
One rather wishes one were not in the middle of it.
Enjoy yourself, please, but not here.



NEAT-O BUSINESS IDEA, UP FOR GRABS: build an apartment complex with sound-proofed rooms, with padding everywhere, and concrete floors that get hosed down on an hourly basis. Go ahead; bring your coarse brutish lover-boy and your damned dog, and be a free spirit.

Oh, and no windows either; no one wants to see that shit.



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THE GIFT YOU WERE LOOKING FOR

Last week was my apartment mate's birthday. And you must understand that, coming from a typical old-country Cantonese background though born in the United States as well as in the modern age, being a girl with a birthday so close to Christmas was a sobering experience. Conflation of events, sheer convenience, and low regard for her gender (all the other kids were boys), as well as the last one of the litter by a wide margin, has made this time of year permanently fraught.


"Oh, we'll just give you your present on Christmas. And surely you don't need cake, why, there will be TONNES to eat on Christmas! It would just go to waste."


Yes, that works. Nothing says "happy birthday" like feeling overlooked. Or actually being overlooked. The good food was, additionally, usually larded with guilt. "We worked so hard for you kids!" "Why aren't you boys married?!?" "You, girl-child, will eventually find a Toishanese dentist, and be part of someone else's family".

Of course, if she had been White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, she and her brothers would undoubtedly have been told that they were all going to hell, because the laying on of guilt is a universal part of raising kids. Even Jews and Catholics need psychotherapy when they become adults.

Coming from an enlightened and religio-skeptic family, this blogger is less scarred than most people. My neuroses are entirely self-made.
In case you were wondering.


Naturally we celebrated her birthday.


I gave her comfy jammoos, with little happy baa-sheep on them.


It is a firm belief of mine that small women especially need comfy jammoos. Nothing else in this world says that all is well than small women padding around in comfy jammoos, all cheerful.
Small women must have comfy jammoos.

Fortunately, gifting all small women with comfy jammoos is not my task in life. I only do it for small women who are part of the inner circle.



To any readers who are filthy minded, I should clarify that there is nothing perverse about this. Even if she and I were lovers, comfy jammoos would be on the agenda. And she is merely an apartment mate, so it is entirely pure and innocent.

If I had a girlfriend, I should give her comfy jammoos as well.

The gift of comfy jammoos is profound and gallant.

It shows that you are a gentleman.

And that you care.



Christmas is in four days. It is not too late to go out and buy a pair of comfy jammoos. I've already done so (the next thing up is a warm sweater, for those times when she has to leave the apartment).

But maybe you haven't. Why do you dawdle?

Go on, do it; make someone happy.


JAMMOOS!


Oh, and get a nice cake for Christmas too.
Just because, and why the heck not?
Cake is so very festive.




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Sunday, December 20, 2015

HOW WAS YOUR DAY?

Forgot to bring my pipetobacco, as well as an umbrella. No, I didn't bother checking the weather report beforehand, but I have since corrected that mistake. Tomorrow will again be cats and dogs. Wet. Miserably so.
And, as per schedule, I shall be in Marin.
No, I do not like Marin particularly.
People are uber-entitled there.


BLINDS DOWN, DRAPES DRAWN

Today would have been a perfect day to swan around a warm but deserted apartment in the nude. Whether the apartment belongs to an independent-minded auntie who left town for the holidays, OR is the family residence and everyone drove to a giant shopping mall in the East Bay is beside the point. Alone, fresh out of the shower, high pert breasts and rosy nipples glowing in the light from a reading lamp, while reading Marcel Proust, or dreaming of a zesty middle-aged daemon lover. Tomorrow will be perfect for that also.
There are delightful roundnesses. Fresh and innocently alluring.
The curve of the stomach looks velvety and elegant.
The toes are adorable and twiddly.
Charming knees.

Perfect, except for the fact that as a man I cannot do that, nor would it even be possible on my next day off (Tuesday). Not only because my apartment is an unholy mess, even when my apartment mate is at work and I shan't have to worry about being disturbed, but primarily due to an inescapable fact of biology: though men do swan naked, the vast majority of them thankfully do NOT possess high pert breasts.
Nor velvety adorableness of any kind.
We are a rather angular lot.
I am no different.


THE MOIST AND NOISY REAL WORLD

So no, I did not read Proust today. Nor will I likely do so on my days off. Day-dreaming of succubi or incubi -- any version of Dr. Frankfurter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show -- is not a process that I habitually pursue.
Yes, I do have prurient thoughts, but no, I shan't share the details.
Whichever gender you are you can already imagine them.

[You could ask privately if you are truly dying of curiosity. In which case, I might just string you along for a while if I doubt the advisability of divulging any details. It depends on you.
Suffice to say that I have a deliciously filthy mind.]


Instead, I spent most of the day listening to cigar-smoking wankers inanely yattering in front of the television, or occasionally screaming their damned fool heads off. Roughly equal amounts of both.

There were no warm comforting cups of milk-tea.
No pillows, and no fluffy throw-rug.
No volumes of Proust.


In all honesty, I would not mind being nude. Provided I were indoors during rainy weather. In a reasonably non-public place or capacity.
And I might not read Proust at those times.
Just so you know.



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HAPPILY ANTICIPATING THE DAY AFTER

Only six more days and we can put all of this hoopla behind us. Well, those of us who do not avail ourselves of the fabulous post-holiday sales. Such as myself. For others, the tension lasts a little longer.

Like several friends I shall be eating Chinese food on Christmas. Not because I am Jewish -- I'm not, if you were wondering -- but purely because I don't have a large warm family gathered around me driving me up the wall with their cheer and togetherness and incessant demands for dead bird and stuffing. If it were up to me, ALL holidays would be celebrated with Chinese food.


Purim: Chinese food.
Passover: Sweet and sour quinoa, matzo ball hot and sour soup, and lots of parsley.
Easter: Kung Pao Rabbit, and tea-eggs.
Saint Patricks Day: Five days of cabbagy fried noodles, leftover from the office party.
Independence Day: Ketchup on everything; ketchup was invented by the Chinese.
Labor Day: Microwave Chinese food.
Halloween: Late night muck in a carton.
Thanksgiving: Turkey jook and a yautiu.
Saint Nicholas Day: Deep fried Chinese something, in honour of the Netherlanders, for whom darn-well everything is deepfried.
Chanuka: Egg-rolls and sesame balls for eight days.
Christmas: Deep fried stuff again; that's all your kinfolks really want.
Plus heaps of Szechuan beef and ma po taufu. Then they'll curl up and sleep it off in front of the teevee.
New Years Eve: Long life noodles, saang choi and meatballs, and ho si faat choi, followed by enough cheap champagne to float a battleship.


The best place for Chinese food is, naturally, at a chainrestaurant in a mall, so that the shopaholics can start spending money immediately upon cleaning their plates. The rest of us will retire to the ball-pit to sleep it off. Perhaps with cigars, after chasing the little kiddies out.

The great thing about this plan is that those of us who are diet-conscious don't need to fret, and the rest of us get cigars.

Nothing says camaraderie quite like cigars and comatose inaction.
No plates, no tinsel, no leftovers, no sugar, no fuss.
No Jesus, and no dead birds.

Personally, I have always felt that Christmas should be mandatorily celebrated on the third Sunday in December, so that we can do New Years Eve on the fourth Sunday. That would be ever so much more convenient for everybody.


同埋一杯港式奶茶

So yes, on Christmas day I shall head over to Chinatown for early lunch, wander around a bit afterwards smoking strong Virginia tobacco out of several good briar pipes, then maybe hot milk-tea and a yummalicious snackipoo, before probably heading over to the Oxxy for another smoke, and a drink among all the other single male losers.

Nothing special. Maybe some chowfun, or little porky meatballs and hot sauce. Dimsummy items, and a bowl of jook. Charsiu sou, pei dan sou, lou po beng. Tong mai yat pui gongsik naaichaa.
I can't wait for the return of normalcy.

I'll probably open a tin of Best Brown Flake to celebrate the season.
That's gevaldig festive.


Six more days.



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Saturday, December 19, 2015

EVIL LAMB STEW AND POOR MILK TEA

It was already raining when I left the restaurant to smoke a pipe. But that lamb was probably the most miserable baa-beast I ever ate, and I was desperate to exchange the bad taste in my mouth for something better. Sadly, I cannot think of many worse things to do with cheap mutton than blanketing it in white sauce. The chef must have spent time in the Deep South, and it's a wonder that he had not chicken-fried it.

As I said, that "lamb" was pretty damned bad.
But I like ambiance there. And the soup.
So I will not tell you where it is.


Chinatown is beautiful in the rain, but Chinese people themselves act goofy when water falls from the sky. Most of them hate getting wet, and become brittle and temperamental if that happens. Their patience with other pedestrians is less, and almost non-existent as regards strange Caucasians standing under awnings with pipes in their mouths.

But I got here first, bitches, I own this space!

Feel free to enjoy my pungent smell ...

Awning. Dryness. Smoke.

Perfect.


Yeah, I enjoyed my smoke. Even though no one except an old codger chainsmoking Red Double Happiness (紅雙喜 'hung seung hei') joined me. I'm surprised that none of the passing young ladies took advantage of the opportunity to share time and space with two harmless gentlemen enjoying tobacco and a convenient dry spot.
When will they ever get that chance again?
Rain is the perfect excuse, girls.
And we're friendly.


The only places still open where a warm beverage may be got after the stores close is a bubble tea bar. If you aren't familiar with the type, you should know that most offerings are fruity-flavoured chilled drinks with your choice of tapioca balls, grass-jelly squiggles, shredded pudding, and lychee fragments or whatever. The target audience occupies the age-span between junior high and about-to-graduate from college.

They are a cheering bunch of people to have nearby, because the sugar in their chosen beverage is almost always too much for them to handle, but one cannot have a conversation with them for fear of seeming an elderly creep, and also because they have little in common with adults, such as I claim to be. Nor have they developed significant character distinction or personality strength at that age; that will take more time.
At least till they've finished school and started reading independently.
Really, they don't know a heck of a lot before then.
But they've got a lot of self-confidence.
If one doesn't disturb them.
They're fragile.

[Unfortunately one doesn't run into many young ladies writing doctoral theses in such environments, nor bright sparkly things researching material for scholarly papers in their chosen academic specialty.
Probably because of the sugar and the noise. This is a sad reality.]


Bubble tea places also do hot milk-tea, but it sure isn't a decent strong cup, and doesn't even remotely come close to the cha-chanteng standard, which is ruddy and bitter.

So the only reason to enter such an environment is because it is raining. The wise old coot will make sure that there are more people there than just the counter girl, but that it isn't overflowing with female teenagers. One doesn't want to freak anybody out, but similarly one wishes a place to sit and be left alone looking out over the dark wet street.

I wasn't the only person to think of that.

Not even half-way through my tall container of tea-flavoured warm milk, there were twelve other customers, none of whom were older than the early twenties at best, only two of them were on a date.


Cantonese are shorter than Mandarin speakers, but more vibrant.
Even when they have to speak Mandarin to their date.


I spent nearly an hour there, listening.

And looking out over the street.

It was a good evening.

Very good.




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Friday, December 18, 2015

PIPES, PIPE COLLECTIONS, WOMEN PIPE SMOKERS, AND TOBACCO

A question often asked is how many briars does one really need; whether as a minimum for maximum tobacco enjoyment, or as a comfortable number for a well-rounded appreciation of the pastime.
I myself at present have about one hundred and sixty pipes, more or less.
Two years ago it was slightly more, then I traded about twenty of them, to which I had little or no attachment, for three Petersons which radiated an aesthetic cohesiveness, and needed to stay together.


THE PETERSON TRINITY

There was a look to the set which said "early 1960s". Both the character of the wood -- wherever Peterson sourced their briar in that day and age, and how they cut it -- and shape particularities came into play.

Same previous owner, his sharpened tastes, and his particular eye.
A clean smoker of good habits. No stinky aromatics.
Probably mostly lighter Latakia blends.
Top-quality burl.

They've become favourites, and are in the regular rotation.


THE COLLEGIANS

Recently I've ended up with about fifteen items from a larger set of about thirty, all with bit-through mouthpieces and tarred-up rims. But again, the shapes and dimensions speak of a specific individual; a chap who probably smoked a pipe from his college years until late middle-age. Aesthetically a sober man, whose tobacco preference included some basic Burley-Virginia compounds, maybe even a restrained Cavendish for a while. It was a habit which sustained him for a long time, which he obviously enjoyed.

The time period was probably late fifties through early-eighties.

Sofar I've restored two -- re-textured the rim of an elegant but well-worn sandblast Canadian, and re-topped a classic bulldog. In the case of both pipes, I've re-cut the stems above the break, so that I could smoke them immediately, instead of waiting several weeks for Schulte to make new ones. As I work on the others, I'll probably send them one by one across the country for stems anyway.

There's an old-fashioned whiff to the smoke on the first two.
I look forward to bringing them all back to life.


STABLE MATURITY

A third group of briars, about a dozen in all, indicate a cheerfully casual approach to pipes and tobacco, with some functional pieces of decent quality, not too expensive in their day (sixties and seventies), and three items which children or younger relatives gave him as gifts on suitable occasions. That last can be deduced from type, finish, and brand; the best a child could afford, at that time. The giver of those items may be approaching seventy now.

The man who smoked?

Ah, well ...

He actually didn't smoke very much. A few are barely smoked at all. But the ones which he received as gifts are no less used than the others, possibly because one must not hurt the person who gifted the pipe.

All of them will be cleaned up and smoked again.
For much the same reason.
It is fitting.


All three smokers are probably long gone, but part of their personality lives on in their pipes. And, as you may have gathered, I am somewhat neurotic about sets. Which may be an Asperger manifestation.


TWO DOZEN IN THE ROTATION

So the answer regarding an optimum number of pipes is necessarily vague; you need as many as you need. Enough so that you can vary and rotate, and likely one or two more than that. The person who smokes three or four pipefulls each day will eventually require about fifteen or more, so that each pipe can rest and dry after use. The casual three or four pipe a week man (or woman) probably needs no more than six, and can get by with only two or three. The beginning pipe-smoker starts with one, of course, but should acquire another one within months, and a third within the year.

The obsessive nutball needs over a hundred.
Probably way more than that even.
Most people fewer.


My father got rid of many of his pipes when we moved to Holland, and kept ten. He still smoked a pipe when I was a child, but seldom brought them out by the time my older brother started high school.
When I began smoking a pipe and had finally learned about decent tobacco, he'd occasionally retrieve one from a deskdrawer and have a bowl at the dinner table after we'd cleared the plates.

In the year that he passed he gave them all to me.
They had spoken to me for ages by then.
They reflected the man.

No, they never leave the house, and I have hardly smoked them since.

They still smell of him, and memories come alive.


AFTERWORD: THE WOMAN WITH A PIPE

Frequently readers find this blog by searching about female pipe-smokers. Women who smoke a pipe are a rarity, and many men do not quite know how to deal with such a thing. But there are no good reasons why a woman might not enjoy the same pleasure, or have good taste in briars and leaf.
I like a pipe. Why shouldn't she?
Pipes are gender-neutral.

Many companies produce what they choose to call 'ladies pipes', which are usually ridiculously frou-frou, and bought mostly by peculiar males anyhow. But rational women should smoke the same types of pipes as men, for the same reasons. The bowl-dimensions of a standard pipe are perfectly suited to the task, whereas if it is too small (or too large) things change. The shape should speak to the person, the pipe must be well-made, and comfortable to hold or look at; avoid artsy-fartsy.
Keep it clean, smoke good tobacco.
No nasty aromatics.

A woman who starts to smoke a pipe secretly at home may need no more than one or two. But I expect that her collection will grow, and she'll probably end up with about ten favourites.
Ten is a good number.


Follows a short list of tobaccos for her to experiment with.

VIRGINIAS AND VIRGINIA PERIQUE MIXTURES

Samuel Gawith (S.G.) Best Brown Flake, S.G. Full Virginia Flake, S.G. Golden Glow, S.G. Saint James Flake.  Rattrays' Brown Clunee, Rattrays' Hal O' The Wynd, Rattrays' Marlin Flake, Rattrays' Old Gowrie.
G. L. Pease Fillmore, G. L. Pease Haddo's Delight, G. L. Pease Telegraph Hill, G. L. Pease Union Square.
Orlik's Golden Slice.

ENGLISH, BALKAN, ORIENTAL MIXTURES

Samuel Gawith Squadron Leader, Dunhill Nightcap, Rattrays Black Mallory, Rattrays Accountants' Mixture, Arango Balkan Supreme (bulk, hence often fancifully renamed in each tobacconist where it is available), Stokkebye English Oriental Supreme (bulk, so also usually a house blend), and well over half of the popular Greg Pease blends, such as Abingdon, Charing Cross, Kensington, Laurel Heights, Quiet Nights, and Westminster, all of which are exceptional.


Three posts for women pipe smokers:

WOMEN PIPE SMOKERS
[Pipe smoking for mental health, and snarky comments about cigarettes.]

GIRL PIPE SMOKER
[Pipe smoking is a better statement than tattoos. Screw the mindset of the mob.]

PIPE SMOKING FOR YOUNG LADIES
[Good tobacco is not gender-biased; a review of St. James Flake, by Samuel Gawith.]


In the comment string of that last essay, Jonathan called me a "f*cking pervert".
I wish to state categorically that I am NOT a "f*cking pervert".
Perhaps merely a little goofy.




TOBACCO INDEX


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