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, June 30, 2016

THE BIRD

A place that specializes in roast pork and roast duck, and other items from the siu mei selection, is probably not the best place for sweet and sour pork and shrimp-fried rice. But they probably would not have known that.
They also wanted egg-rolls, but were disappointed.
How sad!

On the other hand, I thoroughly enjoyed my roast duck over rice. Because they do that very well. An elderly Cantonese American professional person of my acquaintance sneers at that restaurant, characterizing what they do as coarse muck for peasants, but seeing as he also pokes fun at my pronunciation whenever I speak Cantonese, claiming that I'm quite unintelligible, and I know that his ability to write his parents ancestral language is near-zilch (whereas I can read Chinese fairly decently), naturally I shall totally ignore whatever he says about food.
Other than to feel pity for his know-it-all arse.
Damned good duck.


PIPE, WALK, LOTTERY TICKET

Typical summer weather, a chilly day and a bitter wind in the streets of Chinatown. Even I would wear some of those leopard prints and zebra stripes if it kept my legs warm. But those probably look better on the housewives and little school girls wearing them anyway.
Same goes for the fluffy pink ruffles.

Chinatown female clothing styles veer toward practical, berserk, and comfortable. With hints of devil-may-care and in-your-face. Dressed very inappropriately yet sensibly, they will survive the ice age that is June-July in San Francisco, and hunt the mastodon and cave bear.

They are not tourists. They do not wear shorts and tees, and they do not eat strange foods of dubious provenance.


ITALY CAKE

After I finished my smoke it was significantly colder than it had been.
Which necessitated a hot cup of Mandarin Ducks and a luscious slice of tiramisu cake (一杯鴛鴦同埋一嚿意大利蛋糕 'yat pui yuen-yeung tong mai yat gau yi-daai-lei daan-gou').

The correct full term for Tiramisu Cake is 意大利苦杏酒芝士蛋糕 ('yi-daai-lei fu-hang-jau ji-si daan-gou'), meaning Italy bitter almond hooch cheese-cake. Often shortened to 意大利芝士蛋糕 ("Italian cheese-cake"), and commonly shortened yet again to "Italy Cake".
It is available locally.


華盛頓茶餐廳 
['waa-seng-duen chaa-chaanteng']
WASHINGTON BAKERY AND RESTAURANT
733 Washington Street
San Francisco, CA 94108.
415-397-3232
舊金山,華盛頓街733號。


The Washington is a good place for a late afternoon snack.
A popular destination for many people.
They also do hot dishes.


RED HEADED PARROTS
紅頭鸚鵡 ['hung tau ying-mou']

It was quite frigid down at Sue Bierman Park, and the crazy people were shivering under motley blankets, except for one or two staggering about in their own reality. A mumbling wild-haired waif-woman threw her filled coffee cup at a shadow, and it exploded in a splash outward. Various types of birds hopped around in the underbrush, while above them crimson-crowned green conures feasted upon ripe berries or small drupes.

No, I do not know what that fruit is. Some kind of plum?

It is golden yellow, small, and marble-shaped.

The birds were all very happy.

I smoked a second pipe while watching them scarcely five feet from my nose. They did not object to a nearly motionless fellow with his pipe so close, quite unlike how the average San Franciscan would react.
Not a single one of the parrots told me how bad it was.
Or that it stank, and was poisoning them.
Or killing children.

They are self-confident creatures, with facial expressions that show they know something that maybe we don't, or did once but forgot.
It seems to cheer them immensely.


It was already dark and foggy when I returned home. In the airwell the noise of quarelling neighbors nearly drowned out my apartment mate in the kitchen, cooking while singing songs from Sweeney Todd. She does that regularly, preparing buckets of food for her culinarily-impaired boyfriend, who might find her choice of lyric disturbing.

The poor guy can't cook worth a damn.
She will take it over to his place.
He probably can't identify it.
It's food, but he's white.
Does not compute.

A shmo.

She is far too considerate of his need for sustenance.
I think starving a bit would do him good.
But she wants to feed him.
Fatten him up.

I knew she was going to do that, which is why I decided to have din-din in Chinatown and wander around for several hours. The kitchen is kind of off limits while she is in there. It is much too small for safety.
And honestly, I do not mind roast duck one bit.
Or tiramisu cake and a restorative cup.
Or watching the parrots.
Or a pipe.




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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

JESUS WANTS YOU TO BASH HIS FACE IN

As part of my job I am required to be civil to people. Including, naturally, some real hose bags. Which means that I have had very enjoyable conversations with people who hold repulsive opinions.
I am a very patient man, darn near sainthood.
Sweet, forbearing, and kind.

I am also white, middle-aged, and speak English with a slightly snooty uppercrustian accent, so you can probably imagine the types who pop out of the woodwork and guide the discussion into a swamp.
You know, some of my best friends actually are what you have just spoken mighty ill of.


Gay. Black. Oriental. Polish. Liberal.


One thing I am not is a Christian. Sometimes that is regrettable, because I'm pretty sure Jesus would want me to chop off some heads. I also have a suspicion that Jesus is solidarily present in every Gay Pride parade.
Marching with the queenly black communist anti-gun coalition.
And their children.

By the way: If Obama is indeed a Muslim - Socialist - Kenyan - lizard alien - black man (or transgendered person of the negritic persuasion), perhaps there is nothing wrong with that. He seems like a very decent fellow, our country is in better shape than it was eight years ago, and he speaks in complete sentences.

These are all good things.

Oh, and also, please vaccinate your kids. It's bad enough that they'll grow up to be even worse scoundrels than they already are, rotten little brats oozing entitlement and attitude, but isn't it better that they don't spread disease? I'm okay with them being infected, really I am, but the problem is that they'll make someone else sick.

Lord knows I'm nauseated already.


Another thing about Obama: he probably knows how to spell all the words that some of you lot don't.




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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

IT'S ALL IN ONE PLACE

Queer fish will be pleased to know that I have updated the index of tobacco-related posts. All essays that go into any detail about tobaccos, briars, and the peculiarities of pipe-smokers, are listed, with clickable links.
Tea and food are sometimes also mentioned.

Everyone else will be likely bored as all git-out.













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SWEETNESS AND LIGHT

Last year I wrote a short and probably far too favourable review of a pipe tobacco. This morning, in a Facebook group, someone took me to task.
I had been unchristian in my estimation of the substance.
Degustibus non disputandem, and all that.

The smoking mixture in question was a MacBaren's product -- MacBarens makes a vast range of blends, many of which are exceptional -- concerning which I had penned "Some Danes Are Mean Bastards".

I believe that it was gently remonstrantic, and I said less than I could have; he feels that it was altogether too much.

He wrote:
"I guess taste in tobacco is very subjective. I personally tried 7 Seas Royal recently and really like it. You might not like it but there is no need to abuse it so thoroughly."

Okay. Short review.

Seven Seas (by MacBarens) is shite.


That is not subjective. It is a fact.


SHITE

Actually, Seven Seas is almost as bad as Clan (a Dutch Product), and far, far worse than Erinmore (which, underneath the fruit-salad perfume, is actually a rather restrained flake, and, if smoked slow, pleasant).

Nothing, however, can beat Molto Dolce, by Sutliff. Which has so much humectant added that it cannot dry out. It is mummified, and will still be moist and fragrant centuries after nuclear war has wiped out mankind.
The evolved rats and cucarachas who take over the planet after we're gone will be baffled and enchanted after they dig up tins of the stuff.
It has so much sauce that it does not taste like tobacco.

Someone else in the group posted a picture with the caption: "Molto Dolce in a Nording."

Balanced individuals just do not smoke Molto Dolce.
Shan't say anything about the Nording.
I have met Erik Nording.
And I respect him.

Rather than venomously slamming that dubious fellow-pipe smoker at great and inordinate length, and speculating about a lack of manners and morals, or whether or not sterilization is advisable, my sole response will be to post a recipe for a cocktail.

GRASSHOPPER

1 oz green crème de menthe.
1 oz crème de cacao (clear preferred).
1 oz heavy cream.

Shake over ice and strain into a cocktail glass.


Another drink, for smokers of Molto Dolce and Seven Seas, is this:

PINK PERFECTION

3 oz gin.
2 oz Apricot Brandy.
2 oz lemon juice.
Two heavy dashes of grenadine.

Shake over ice and strain into a cocktail glass.



Very rarely do I indulge in such things myself. They are not to my taste, and while I was once much younger than I am now, I have never been a Sailor Moon fangirl with Hello Kitty Decals all over my panties.

This evening I shall indulge in Irish whisky with a friend from the used book business, who also has never been a pubescent girl with a rabbit fetish.


Degustibus non disputandem est.



POST SCRIPTUM

Someone else on that list let us know that she is very much enjoying Devil's Holiday, by Dan Tobacco. On Tobacco Reviews dot com, the product is describes thus: "Inspired by the 30's and 40's Swing music from the CD of the same name, our master tobacco blender has created this raven-black smoking mixture full of aromatic mysteries. Smooth and creamy Black Cavendish with a few tips of fluffy Golden Virginia, topped with a most refined flavour composition of tasty wild forest berries. Slow burning with pleasingly cool and gentle smoke full of fresh aroma and wonderful scent. Hellishly mild and heavenly delicious. There's music in the air."

There are a number of favourable comments.

I am slightly intrigued.

Slightly.




TOBACCO INDEX


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Monday, June 27, 2016

A PERVERT ON A BICYCLE

In Zeeland province (Netherlands) a bicycle racer asks women out in the country side for directions, and also if they know of a place to take a leak. He lost sight of the friend with whom he practises, lost his way, and his bladder is fit to burst. He is desperate to take a leak.

This leak-question pattern only came to light because he asked women who entirely by coincidence knew each other. It's an innocent question, except that out in the Dutch countryside there are, in fact, plenty of suitable venues for taking a powder. The countryside is full of them. Nature and hedgerows along fields are a veritable giant pissoir. Go ahead, find you bliss in the open air.

Please pee freely.



Perhaps asking strange women where their favourite pisseries might be is a little transparent. Not surprising, though, when you consider what racing garb looks like.
It is tight and form fitting, and reveals all.
And feels smooth and sexy to the skin.
Makes a perv more aerodynamic.
Yowza and hot dog!
Spandex.


Hello ma'am, do you have a place to piddle?
Is it reasonably private and safe?
Take me there!



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HE'S A DECREPIT OLD ...

Well, whatever. He wasn't supposed to turn thirty eight yesterday. I had no idea. Really. So we encouraged him to be joyous and disreputable.
With the friendliest intent.


THE 'NICKY'

Shot of Campari. Equal parts crisp white wine and soda water. Ice cubes.

And a cigar.


Everything except the smoke was kind of refreshing.



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Sunday, June 26, 2016

PROTECTIVE GEAR AND OTHER NEEDS

Marin is a very special place. And it is better for your mental health that you do not visit. They are far too special for you to handle if you do not have a hazmat suit and a cattle prod.

Well, except for the real people. Like the Mexicans.
They're all right. Traumatized, but all right.

As you may have gathered, I work there.


Shan't mention what I do -- pipe restoration and dispensing amateur psychological counseling to self-centered drips and very needy entitled suburbanites, mostly -- but suffice to say it pays the rent, allows me to smoke a pipe, and covers the necessities.

I have realized that some things in this life are absolutely necessary, others not.

No, love is not, strictly speaking, essential. There has unfortunately not been any of that in six years, and while I miss the companionship and emotional intimacy, I think I've survived pretty well without it.
A man has got to do what a man has got to do.
If you have no choice, oh bloody well.
You can't have everything.


You MUST have these:

Good pipe tobacco and good pipes.

Hong Kong style milk-tea.

Chili sauce.

These three are key to sanity and survival. Absolutely. The proof is that decrepit wrecks and complete loonies do not have them. Not all three.


Other things that make life worth living:

Books.

Baths.

Noodles.

Manual dexterity.

A warm place to sleep.


Some pizza would be nice too, occasionally, but there is no place in the immediate vicinity of my digs where pizza may be found. So in a few minutes I shall head out to see if a civilized person is working at the Oxxy, so that I can sit down and have a smoke.




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DANGEROUS FISH DINNER

A young couple honeymooning in the Dominican Republic died under mysterious circumstances. No, foul play was not involved. It was the algae. Due to toxins created by micro-organisms native to tropic seas being successively concentrated in fish rising further up the food chain, their seafood feast did them in.


CIGUATERA

Ciguatoxin, maitotoxin, gambieric acid, and scaritoxin: produced by Gambierdiscus toxicus and a few related dinoflagellates. There is no cure, but there is a gradual lessening of symptoms as the concentration in your body decreases over time. Unless you're dead, of course.

Nausea, vomiting, headaches, muscle pain, vertigo, numbness, and hallucinations. The false sensation that cold is hot and hot is cold.
The toxins can be spread through sex and breast-feeding.
It is associated with tropical reef fish.
There is no antidote.


WHAT'S ON THE MENU?

Here is where it gets fun: through name-substitution, you really don't know what that fish in the expensive restaurant is, nor where it's from. And though ciguatera occurs not infrequently in the Caribbean and the warmer part of the Pacific, because of the modern fish trade it has also claimed victims in places like New York City.

If you do not die, symptoms may last for weeks or months.
Even years later, there may be recurrences.
Triggered by almost anything.



Reef fish. Tropical waters. Algal bloom.
Can't be destroyed by cooking.
Odourless and tasteless.



I might post a fish curry recipe in a day or two.




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Saturday, June 25, 2016

CHALLENGE WELL MET

It is with a lack of surprise entirely that I recognize myself as being an avuncular pervert. The highlight of my day yesterday was seeing the chubby teenage girl running energetically uphill to catch the bus. Like a cheetah overtaking an antelope. The odds were very much against the vehicle.
The girl caught it. Eyes on fire, hair ablaze, and energy to spare.

She wasn't fat-fat. Sleek, not lean at all, but obviously in fine fettle.

The young of the species is full of piss and vinegar. And cute as blazes when pursuing prey. I stepped aside so as to give her a clear shot.

Yes, I am still astounded. Not only did she rocket up the slope at great speed, but she wasn't winded in the slightest. This old man would not be able to do that, and is, consequently, filled with envy.


One of the reasons I would not be able to do that is that I would fear losing the pipe I was smoking at the time. Running with a pipe is probably undignified. Don't know, not going to put it to the test.
Another reason is a lack of the will to do it.
Mature men don't run.


It was a very pleasant day. Read the news, took a bath, had a haircut, ate breakfast-lunch around teatime -- curry chicken over rice and a cup of hot milk tea on Jackson Street -- and smoked two bowls of Virginia. Bought some yau choi miu on Stockton. Ambled down to see the parrots.
No, I didn't get a blessed thing accomplished.
But other than the haircut I had no plans.

I spent most of the morning and evening reading.

Polished a few briars from the rotation.

Occasionally I scratched an ear.

And considered otters.

A day well-spent.

Productive.


The sleek and bounding lynx passed me at about twenty minutes after six in the evening, after I finished the first pipe. She ran from Grant to Hang Ah. That's an achievement.

I did not get a very good luck at her physique.

But she has clean shiny long hair.

And bright lively eyes.

Plus speed.


Beauty.


Well-rounded feline chases mouse. Mouse has no chance.
Well-rounded feline is victorious. Huzzah.




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Friday, June 24, 2016

BRITISH IDIOTS

Yes, I know that subject line will ire some folks. But those whom it would piss off are mostly older, dumber, and more illiterate than the majority of likely readers anyway, and once they find their way into this essay they probably won't be able to ever see anything else I've written because they do not understand how any of this works. They are baffled by computers, cellphones, e-mail, blogs, social media, google, Wikipedia, modern history, mediaeval history, ancient history, and any history at all, really, plus toilets, elementary hygiene, and spell-check, nor can they figure out how to program their VCR or set the clock on their microwaves.
And they voted to leave Europe.


Donald Trump, naturally, praised that move.

He thinks it means they agree with him.

Everything is about him, all the time.

To quote BBC columnist and political reporter Philip Sim: "Donald Trump is not generally regarded as a shy, modest man".

That, dear reader, is the understatement of the century. If Trump is at one end of the football field, with 'shy' and 'modest' at the other end, they will still fight fiercely to get out. Not even pausing for a 'Trump dog' and a 'Trump beer' at the concession stands, but scrambling desperately to flee, so that they might never be in the same picture as that man.

The possibility that that fool might win the election fills me with dread.
His lack of modesty is but one contributing factor.


"Donald Trump is not generally regarded as a shy, modest man"

[SOURCE: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-36606184.]


The vote to leave triumphed by a slim majority. Probably because older and stupider people -- a demographic time bomb -- were determined to make Britain great again. They fondly remember (or at least think they do) a time when "wogs began at Calais", and the English administered a vast empire of all those lesser races.
Before it all lay in ruins, and foreign nationals frequented the streets, many of them Hungarian (the nationals, not the streets).
Yandela-vasa gudenwi struvenka.


The average baked-bean brain Britain-firster firmly believes that all of the continent is filled with mincing weeds and whoopsies who invented the tapestry, the soufflé and sweet liqueur, and still thinks that eating frogs, cruelty to geese, and urinating in the streets represent the sum total of European contributions to civilisation.

[Let us not mention shiny toilet paper.]

If they were Americans, they'd live in trailer parks and speak with thick regional accents.


The only real difference between the British voting to leave Europe and the American morons supporting Trump is that over there they will be horribly disappointed when it doesn't bring back the stone age and universal syphilis, whereas here the Trumpistas proudly embody both.


No, none of this was meant as an argument in favour of rational politics and common sense. And I apologize if you expected such.
This was a rant, pure and simple.
And frustrated.

The British have proven themselves all Baldrick.
We Americans are often very British.




One last thought: For Europeans, the toilet is a mundane and functional item. For the British, it is the basis of an entire culture.
The Europeans are better off.




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Thursday, June 23, 2016

THE FUNK OF SHEER EVIL

As part of my work environment I occasionally come into contact with reprehensible tobaccos. Most of the time it does not faze me.
But at present I feel quite unclean.

This morning I happily waltzed in to work, and was greeted with a sickly odour. My esteemed coworker answered my question by issuing a request that I try the offending weed, and then answer a little on-line survey.
Okay. I'm a glutton for punishment. And up to a challenge.


On a dare once I memorized the entire Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner (by Samuel Taylor Coleridge) in one day.


One hundred and forty three verses. Abysmal doggerel. And very silly to boot. I have an excellent brain, but sometimes common sense is missing from the toolbox. Coleridge has scarred me for life.

There were two samples, one variegated with a fair admixture of Black Cavendish, one pale ribbons of probably Virginia with a bit of Maryland. Same topping. To give them a fair test I smoked two bowls each.
Four bowls in total.

It took me a couple of minutes to identify the fragrance.

Cheap grape candy. Precisely what you would find in a bag of fruit chews or bubble gum. Worse than anything Hello Kitty would smoke -- after her early experiments with McClelland's Honeydew, I have determined that she graduated to mature Virginia flakes, because they go great with tea; she's a beast for tea -- and conceivably the most intellectually repulsive perfume for tobacco EVER!


In the evening, with her sherry, she might indulge in some Samuel Gawith Saint James Flake. She's never told you about that bottle under her bed, has she? When everybody else is asleep, she secretly gets squiffy while enjoying a pipe or two and several tumblers full, reading either wicked romance novels or murder mysteries.
She's quite a naughty beast.
Hidden sherry habit.
Bad girl!


Hello Kitty would savagely bite and scratch if offered what I smoked this morning. And possibly plot foul murder. Go out and buy an assault rifle, empty an entire clip into the vile person presenting the sample.

Grape effing candy. Artificial flavour. Four bowls in all. Smooth, bite-free, and totally degenerate. Had to have some of Russ Oullette's version of Bengal Slices to soothe the trauma. Russ Oullette's crumbly flake is as good a stab as any at that fabled product, and though dressed (he has a queer fascination with top-spray) is delightfully reeky and a cure for what ails you. Wimps may wish to Pousse-café it on a fully rubbed out flake, and like anything with such a generous measure of Latakia it should not be smoked around shoe-collecting types or poets.

[Had a second bowl of Bengal Slices shortly after.
And a third around tea-time.]

There's an open tin of Bengal Slices at work. By Monday it will be empty.
Which will be my doing.


On the other hand, that horrid tooty-fruity cotton candy bazooka bubblegum blowzy trailer slut in the making spoiled brat tart, even if it ever goes into full production, will never enter my pipes again. It is the devil.
Mild and easy to light, no tongue discomfort at all.
Nor the slightest hint of tobacco flavour.
I feel used, and damaged.
Icky.




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I WOULD EAT THIS!

Burger King’s new “Mac ‘n’ Cheetos” is a deep-fried macaroni-filled cheese pouf, crusted with Frito Lay’s bright orange Cheeto powder.

Only 310 calories, just $2.49!

Gentlepersons, this is a paneer pakora. And probably great with imli and hari chatni. Plus Sriracha hotsauce, aioli, and spicy remoulade.

If there were a boo-king nearby, this would be a great breakfast.
I might darned well bring my own condiments.
To top my cheese croquettes.


At this very moment I am contemplating heading out early so that I can enjoy a smoke before work. There is a cup of strong coffee in front of me, I've read the news already, and dawn has barely cracked. There is no food on the table, because I am NOT normally a breakfast person.
And because there is no boo-king.

I usually don't eat anything on work days until I get to Marin.
A snackipoo while cleaning surfaces, and a cup of tea.
Then let the madness begin.

The nearest boo-king is miles away.

Phở would also be good.



Any country or culture which does not relish fun food to start the day is fundamentally flawed, possibly beyond redemption. We should all breakfast on deepfried fatty snacks or zesty noodle soups.
Or curry with kulcha and cheese pakora.
Steamed dumplings and tea.
Spicy catfish stew.
Boo-king.


What is wrong with you people?



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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

SAN FRANCISCO BIRD LIFE

There's a spot next to the tennis court with several benches where the homeless used to sleep. They are no longer there -- except for one who keeps returning, because it probably represents a stable constant in his existence -- and it is entirely unclear what the city has done with them.
A few were quite unbalanced, verging on dangerously insane, so their departure is a good thing. But one wonders which other neighborhood is now blessed with their presence and their unresolved issues.

Did we possibly eat them?

Because this is San Francisco. We don't help the down and out much. There is no funding, and there are far too many crazies to count.
We got more than our fair share because of migration.
They have become anonymous surplus.

Many computer programmers and holders of marketing or business degrees also migrated here, and I'm not sure that that is that much better, as they are full of themselves and talk too much.

I get to see the vain, the self-absorbed, and the entitled-by-their-own-conviction unabashedly be themselves on a daily basis.

But on the other hand ...


TENNIS, ANYONE?

No, she wasn't a bombe-shell in the classic sexist sense, which one suspects is why most people enjoy watching tennis. Long-limbed amazons with a feral carnivorous air, viciously swatting balls and dripping sweat, pursuing their sport ferociously, brutally, murderously. Long legs and athletic bosoms all abounding.
But she was incredible good to look at. Her face reflected happiness while playing the game, and there was an intelligence in her features.
Radiant is probably the word I'm looking for.

She and her partner seemed like well-balanced individuals.

One of the denizens of the lounge likes watching tennis, especially when there is no golf on the telly. He often eats fried chicken while doing so.
He's not insane, nor peculiar beyond belief; those are his two greatest oddities, and there is naught suspicious about him at all. He's old.

I doubt that he would have found this game worth watching.
Just two nice people playing tennis together.
Non-aggressive competition.


There is something extremely pleasant about observing a well-proportioned energetic young lady with an expressive intelligent face happily bashing her balls on a not particularly warm day in a quiet part of Chinatown while one is smoking a briar filled with a straightforward mixture of predominantly flue-cured leaves and a smidge of Perique after having a hot cup of Hong Kong milk-tea and a flaky chicken pastry at Wing Hing.
It's meditative, and good for the soul.
As well as a long sentence.

I doubt that the players OR the observer would make for good television entertainment, though.

No drama.


Afterwards I wandered down to Sue Bierman park, filling up another pipe at Hotaling Place, which was empty except for three Mexicans with aprons smoking cigarettes. The area around Sydney Walton was quiet, Drumm Street nearly deserted. In the trees along Washington the parrots were visible among the leaves only by reason of their brilliant crimson heads, like small berries or fruits among the greenery, which one noticed first when they moved. Not much noise -- usually they make a racket -- nor any of the giddy wrestling for primacy or the best seat in which they often engage; the birds were grooming each other, or flying around happily investigating branches on other trees.

This branch is totally fabulous, I'm so happy I found it!
Perch perch perch perch perch!
Yeah baby!

One neurotic pigeon on the pavement.
My heavens, this hydrant!
What it is!

When pigeons show any personality at all, it usually isn't likable.
Strange, maladjusted, with a note of self-absorption.
Very fitting for a city like this.

Parrots are a wondrous anomaly.
We need more of them.



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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

BREXIT VOTE: GO AHEAD, LEAVE

With the British Exit vote looming, I have taken a serious look at all the products in my life that originate in Great Britain. Trade deals with the Empire will probably all have to be re-negotiated, there may be hiccoughs, and changes could affect supplies for a while.


MINOR IDIOSYNCRACY

Naturally, most of the British products I use are essentials for civilized living in the hinterland. That basically means tobacco, tea, and marmalade.
Plus mosquito nets.

I actually have two mosquito nets,

No items of clothing, because since the early-sixties English taste in that regard has been notoriously horrid, and tweed is largely unsuitable for the climate here.

The less said about their ghastly neckties the better.

I do not drink Watneys Red Barrel.
That just isn't done.


Here's a list:

Astleys: The charming tobacconists at 109 Jermyn Street (in the Arcade) closed a long time ago (1989), and while they 'commissioned' from Charatan and Comoys (briars) and McConnells (pipe tobacco), they did not "make", but "purveyed". Blends with their name have been German since Kohlhase & Kopp acquired the entire portfolio of McConnells Tobacco in the nineties.

Balkan Sobranie: This tobacco house doesn't really exist anymore. The new version of their most famous blend (issued after a two-decade hiatus) is made by Germain & Son in the Channel Islands, and is an interesting and fun product, but it is not what the original was.
The company was founded a century ago by a political trouble maker from Odessa, who after many years of meddling in the Bulgarian question and running afoul of everybody, settled in London, and made splendid pipe tobaccos and luxury cigarettes. England doesn't actually grow tobacco.
As you no doubt realize.

Barling: Formerly silversmiths, the Barlings went into briar pipe manufacture in the nineteenth century and excelled. The company is now defunct, and their "pre-transition" pipes are avidly sought be collectors.
I only own one. A lovely piece.

Charatan: Briar pipes made by a company started by a Russian immigrant in London. It was once the premier producer of smoking equipment in the world. The current trademark holders are the fifth or sixth bunch since Dunhill bought the company to wreck the name, and while some of their modern products are decent, most are crap.
Older Charatans were splendid. I own six Charatans in all.
Shan't acquire anymore new ones.

Comoy: When the Comoys produced pipes, the world was a better place. Since the seventies the company made garbage under the direction of corporate slime at Cadogan.
Over three dozen, one of which is an unsmoked Blue Riband from a long time ago. Some are under other names, being pipes made for now long-gone tobacconists. Whatever they're doing at present is sometimes semi-decent, but there are better pipes available.

Crabs (and eels): Pacific.

Cross & Blackwell: Pickles, relishes, and strange condiments.
Man lives by the condiment of providence.
And curry paste.

Dunhill: Bought by Carreras, which was then swallowed by Rothmans, and eventually broken up into three separate endeavors. The pipes are still made in Britain, but no longer nearly so desirable. Overpriced snob-muck. The cigarettes are part of B.A.T., the tobacco has been farmed out to Kohlhase & Kopp who have it made for them by Orlik in Denmark. After the skite that Gallaher and Murrays churned out in the eighties and nineties, that's a very considerable improvement. The luxury goods are held by a bunch of Euries, and are quite overpriced besides.
I have only three Dunhill pipes. I refuse to pay the idiotic prices that new and used ones demand. Ridiculous!
There is a fair amount of Dunhill tobacco in my stockpile.
The old sandblasts were lovely.

Frank Cooper & Sons Original Oxford Marmalade: Truly a monumental product. There is ALWAYS a jar on the premises.

Fribourg & Treyer: A famous Londonian supplier of pipes, tobacco mixtures, and snuff. Founded in 1720, closed in 1981. The pipes were made by other companies, the tobacco was produced by Imperial and is now manufactured in Germany.
I have heard interesting reports about their blends.
Their snuff was extraordinary.

GBD: Ganneval, Bondier, & Donninger. Briar pipes made in London by a Frenchman, a Swiss-Frenchman, and a Viennese, and their various successors. Like so many other respected pipe companies it has been swallowed by Cadogan and turned into a garbage brand.
Several. None acquired new.

Germain & Son: Tobacco made by a small company in the Channel Islands. Splendid stuff.

Gin: Dutch. Can't stand English gin.
Tastes like aftershave.

James Keiller and Son marmalade: Nice. I favour the thick-cut Seville. But I haven't bought any in years.

McConnells Tobacco: Almost none. Part of the Kohlhase & Kopp portfolio in any case. No longer British.

Ogden's St. Bruno Flake: Like all marques held by Imperial, this was unavailable in the United States for many years, after Imperial decided they didn't need us damned colonials as customers. It's now made by MacBarens in Denmark, and will soon be present all up and down the West Coast again. Like Erinmore Flake (see here), it is a most peculiar product of which some Anglophiles are incredibly fond. I find that baffling, but I will gladly smoke it again.

Patak's: Indian pickles and chutneys made by mr. Lakshmishankar Pathak in Lancashire. Quite the best thing to come out Blighty in recent years. And far better than that Pakistani muck that the grocer around the corner sells. Higher quality manufacture and ingredients, no shifty inclusions or substitutions.

Pimm's: A liqueur added to various cocktails, notoriously the Pimm's Cup, which is refreshing on hot days. There is no need to have the liqueur at home, and the cup made by Curtis Post at the Occidental Cigar Club on Pine Street, though regretfully missing the long thin wedge of cucumber, is quite as good as you will get anywhere, possibly excepting what can be ordered at The Old Bell Inn.

Rattrays: Formerly of Perth Scotland, now produced by Kohlhase & Kopp. So they're really German, but they weren't Scottish since McConnell started producing them in London before the war.

Samuel Gawith: Seriously good tobacco. Both stodgy stuff preferred by nice people, as well as nasty aromatics beloved by tattooed freaks.
We have more tattooed freaks than there are in England.

Sasieni: briar pipes of various quality ranges made by a company started by an Italian in London. Now a defunct venture.
I've got just one. Squat bulldog. 1950s.

Single Malt Whisky: Let us not discuss this sensitive subject.

Taylors of Harrowgate: Strong black tea. Very good stuff.

Twinings Tea: Actually, I haven't had any on the premises in quite a while. Most tea I drink regularly is produced by Chinese companies, and available in Chinatown.

W.D. & H.O. Wills Capstan: Flake tobacco in a familiar blue tin. Was long unavailable, but as it is now produced by MacBarens in Denmark, it can be found at suppliers all across California.



Well, that's it then. I consume almost no products still made in Britain. So if there is any glitch in the supply chain it will not effect me. A pity, because when they leave the European Union, the pound should drop precipitously, and the English will no doubt become third world people with low pay and absolutely no buying power, and whatever they make, assuming that they maintain a good level of quality, will be cheap.

Really, really cheap. For a long time to come.

I like cheap. Underneath my über-cultured veneer, the cruel skinflint Dutchman in me runs all the way to the bone.


AFTER THOUGHT

My clothes are all made by starvation-wage workers sweltering in the tropics, which due to global warming we all soon will be anyhow.
Nothing I wear was ever sewn or woven in Britain.

Pottery and porcelain? China and California.

My soy sauce comes from California and Japan, the oyster and abalone sauces, shrimp paste, and Hue-style fish sauce, are all made in Hong Kong, which is also where good dried fish originates.

The little cheroots I like are Dutch.



London as a concept was always better than its actuality.





TOBACCO INDEX


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VEGANS: THEY'RE ALL YOU THOUGHT THEY WOULD BE

Casually reading about worst house guests ever on the webs, found this doozy:

"...and she had thrown out all of our sweaters and jackets with wool in them. Just straight up thrown them in a container outside. Her excuse was that she assumed we had become vegan as well and she tried to help us.
By throwing out something like 10-15 sweaters and three jackets. Didn't even apologize. Said it was a natural thing to assume.
"


[SOURCE: 23 People Share The Story Of The Worst House Guest They Ever Had.]


Well shoot. That's very Vegan. More Vegan than that is hard to imagine.

But that's not so bad, compared to the others in that list.
Still, that's too much exposure to white trash.
After reading, I felt unclean.



For some reason I am reminded of an asthmatic lesbian who was allergic to cats. A heavy potsmoker, neurotic as all git-out, and a raving hysteric to boot, who would get very upset whenever I enjoyed some tobacco. All in all, a woman completely lacking any sense of humour who took herself far too seriously. She made meetings hell, and I'm glad I no longer have to collaborate with those people.



Vegans, like the person who threw out the sweaters, are about as irritating and idiotic as gluten-phobics, anti-vaxxers, and potheads.
I have known my share of such pustules -- being a resident of the most self-absorbed region on the planet, that is inevitable -- but, as with the whiny asthmatic lesbian potsmoker, I nowadays avoid them.

Here, have some cheese and sausage pizza.
I've dusted it with cat dander.




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Monday, June 20, 2016

SPAMBOTIC THRILL!

Sometimes Russian computers go on an adventure! They communicate the exact link of a post or page on which they might perchance leave a comment, which will then direct subsequent readers to a commercial site where medication V or medication C may be purchased. Or some other must-have of the illegal pharmaceutical world. Then all of them descend upon that post or page, and attempt to seed the comment string.
Despite their barking up the wrong tree.
And not getting through.


About two months ago the Russian spambots discovered "Appreciating Morleyson -- Blends by Bob Runowski", an article which I penned in September last year, detailing several of the lovely Burley mixtures that the great man had a hand in. Bob Runowksi's efforts were stellar, but other than pipe-smokers, the essay cannot have appealed to a broad range. Some of my readers are pipe-smokers; they likely found it mildly interesting.

No doubt every one else skipped over it, saying "good lord, there he goes again, waffling on about dead leaves and baffling crap".
Or words very much to that effect.


I make mention of this, because within a day or two that post will join the list of ten most visited posts on this blog. The top post is something written seven years ago about a kippah. That one attracted the attention of a huge number of spambots behind the Iron Curtain.


The post legitimately most visited (in other words, by human readers) is about dim sum. Just below that are dried oysters.


Among Bob Runowski's truly great blends are Haunted Bookshop, Home From The Hills, and Old Joe Krantz. Splendid stuff.
Very evocative.

[Burley or Virginia leaf in the driver's seat with the other playing second fiddle, then smidgeons of plain Black Cavendish, Latakia, Perique. At more than twenty percent Burley tends to be a control freak. Perique should almost always be well-below ten percent, Black Cavendish (10% - 30%) contributes ease, and though Latakia can be used as half of the blend, it is best at around a third or less in old-fashioned American mixtures.]

Many pipe-smokers started their briar journey because consciously or unconsciously they remembered fragrances and the moods or golden times associated with them. A particular smell, sunlight gleaming in, tea time and cinnamon toast, or steady summer rain and a soft warm wind. The light in early autumn, late afternoon. A childhood book. Fresh spring grass. Favourite uncles, or family togetherness during the holidays.
Anyhow, you get the idea. It's a mental thing.

Bob Runowski was a meditative man of complex memories.

He died two years ago, but he is still 'alive'.

Just fill up a pipe.




TOBACCO INDEX


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REJOICING OVER CLEVELAND'S TRIUMPH

Yesterday evening would probably have been perfect for heading out to a nearby bar to enjoy a cocktail, about half an hour or so after the game ended. Everybody else would have already gone home to lick their wounds, disconsolate that the most important team in basket ball history had lost their epic battle, and possibly weeping with frustration.

Me, I had no dog in this fight.

Civic pride is fine and all that, and pulls strangers together marvelously.
Oh, the camaraderie, oh the shared emotion! Hugs and high fives!


I do not want closeness with strangers, and have no consideration at all for Oakland. Which is where all that sweaty civic pride belongs. Or Cleveland.
Screaming at the screen is a repulsive group activity.
I can be repulsive entirely on my own.
No crowd required.


So anyhow, the Golden State Warriors lost, and for a brief shining moment all social environments will be free of the droning and repetitive utterances of a fevered fanbase.


Huzzah.


No, I didn't go out. The only reason to visit bars in the past was that one could smoke there in good company, and discuss politics, philosophy, and cooking. Or stuff. But that was then. Politics have become contentious, the philosophy department now contains mostly woolly airheads and new-age morons, and unlike Flemings and Brabanders, people in this neck of the woods are not culinarily inspired. Or not nearly as much.
Many can't boil an egg.

And lighting up a pipe in the presence of modern Californians is right out. Doing so proves that you are a baby-eating dolphin killing shill for big pharma and the gmo industry. You murderer!
Unless it's pot; pot is therapeutic.
And green, dude, totally.


Most Californians are dingos.




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Sunday, June 19, 2016

THE BUS AND YOUR SENSITIVE PARTS

This blogger takes the bus. Four days a week I head over to Marin to babysit a bunch of cigar-chomping rightwing goozbas, on the other three days I head down to Chinatown for a necessary sanity break.
Tuesdays I usually go to Chinatown twice.

The bus is not my favourite means of conveyance.
But, other than my feet, it's my only one.

Pursuant a conversation overheard on the bus yesterday evening when returning from the saltmines, these quotes:

"Maybe I should stop stressing out over my bosom, and just let it all hang out. Here it is, bouncy bouncy!"

"Never show off your freckled bosoms before three in the afternoon; it's just not done!"

No, I did not turn around to scope out either of the people involved in that conversation. They sounded like their reality and my reality should never intersect. Besides, coming back to the city I tend to close my eyes, crawl inside my head, and tune out the world of humans as much as possible. Pesky things, those humans. They're all over.

And one of them left a sportsbra at the bus stop for me to find this morning. It was empty.

Usually, sportsbras on Van Ness are occupied.

And not quite so nasty looking.

Maybe it was hers.

Freckle.



AFTERWORD

Underneath a post from a year ago, someone who identifies herself as 'Curious bus passenger' said: "Do you still smell bad, one year later?"

The essay in question described the repulsed reaction that refined elderly Chinese aunties have to white guys (me) who reek of pipe tobacco and the occasional small cigarillo. Why, the odour is positively disgusting, nauseating, frightful, and stomach-churning.

"Do you still smell bad?"

Yes, I do. Worse than ever. All over Chinatown ancient dames of refinement and taste run screaming as soon as my potent smell turns the corner and attacks them. Dang, it's worse than ripe durian and stinky tofu combined! Leavened, or enriched, with the slimy sweat that, as a Caucasoid, is the curse I share with all other Kwailo, and you will surely understand why paint blisters in my presence and innocent little children howl in terror at the mere thought of me.

I still smell bad. Mostly of aged Virginias, sometimes Latakia mixtures, and occasionally tiny cheroots. Along with wood wax, dusty books, and strong tea.

Virginias: grassy and slightly herbal, and an undertone of sweetness because of carotenoids, which are the flavour and aroma compounds present in stone fruits, like peaches, plums, nectarines, and apricots.

Latakia: a smoky tobacco, firecured over burning scrub and connifer, because of which it shares terpeneols, much like Lapsang Souchong Tea and fine single malt, which get that by the same route.

Small Cigarillo: Panter Blue; manufactured by Agio in Duizel, Holland. Connecticut wrapper, Indonesian filler (Besuki) with a touch of Brazil.
Great for summoning the bus, like magic.
And irritating earthmom-types.


Bosoms: People who show off their charms are considered "fast".
And may be shunned. Men too. Oh, the horrid immodesty.

Evenso, I like bosoms.

Not freckled.




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MEXICANS ARE VERY HARD WORKERS!

Umm. No, I don't know what to say. Sometimes I'm tongue-tied.
Not knowing what to say is NOT a problem that sports reporter Emily Austen shares. Her mouth has great talent in that regard.


"The Chinese guy is always the smartest guy in math class"

"Like, I didn’t even know Mexicans were that smart"


Emily Austen is a perky Southern belle who studied Spanish in college and just loves Mexican food.

I have nothing against sportscasters.

Some of my best friends.

Precious.




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Saturday, June 18, 2016

WE ARE NOT RULED BY REPTILIAN OVERLORDS!

There's a theory, best advanced by David Icke (certifiably "brilliant", and an Englishman), that a lizard-human hybrid race rules over humankind, and exists in every society at the top of the heap, whether Rosicrucian, Mason, Jew, or Descendant of the bloodline of the Holy Grail.

Yes, you heard it here first! Lizards are our superiors.

Unless one of your crazy relatives already told you about it.

Lizard-human hybrids. Space-alien biology. And influential people.


Recently Mark Zuckerberg was asked if he was a lizard. And, precisely like any typical dissimulating space-alien reptile, he denied it. Very many other powerful people have also denied it, thus neatly proving that they are, in fact, part of the conspiracy.


So, in order to put your mind at rest, and conclusively prove that I am not a lizard, I shall now boldly and publicly admit it: I am a lizard.

I AM A LIZARD!

We lizards actually don't have too much influence, as we basically let you humans do whatever you want. But I feel that the time of quiescence is over, we must assume our mantle. The time to rule is now.

Further proof: I am a Vegan. Because the shape-shifting lizard-aliens cannot digest meat. It does not suit our dominant metabolisms.
Only human beings eat meat, or anything else derived from animals.
Beefsteak, bacon, cheese, and leather.

[Except for penguins. We like penguins.]

When you all finally accept me as the superior being that I am, I shall insist upon a suitable motorvehicle. Specifically, a Chevy Camaro (2016), because it is sleek and sexy. That, I feel, is the perfect conveyance for someone to rule over mankind!

Gosh darn but that's a fine motorcar! I can understand why Detroit is proud of it! In all ways, it is the stinky tofu of engineering!

[They are delicious!]

Your new alien overlord commands you to pay for gasoline.
It is the very least you can do, puny human.
Accept our godhead and be free.


Nürburgring Nordschleife in 7 minutes 23.77 seconds!


Hot howling lizards!














[Penguins.]



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Friday, June 17, 2016

AS I WAS REACHING FOR A TIN OF SARDINES .....

Most of the time I simply skip over the click bait. This time I'm glad I didn't. But because this is a family blog, all clean and wholesome, like stuff you could share with your little ones except for the heretical stuff and the odd mention of delicate undergarments, neither of which category show up very often, because pipesmokers like myself are rather calm and bland and seldom provocative at all, I shall not share with you what the article was or where it might be found.
I do not want to harm you, this is a safe zone.

The article was about visits to the emergency room by people who had done things to themselves. Horribly insertive things.

Most of them were male.
Organs were involved.
It was very funny.



Not only the predicaments which your mind is probably not ripe enough to imagine, but also their unbelievable explanations about how the jar of peanut butter ended up "ended up", as just one example.

Some people really are up to the challenge.

And no, I had no idea that there were "Garden Gnome Parties".

[There may be more to being a typical male than I thought. Merely figuring out how certain body parts work is not enough, it seems. What with being somewhat on the spectrum, I just had no idea. It's probably that mechanical instinct we men are alleged to have, and an urge to put things together in creative new ways. Impossible feats of engineering, and a tendency to fix stuff, combined with the competitiveness in which I am somewhat deficient. 
Vacuum cleaners, courgettes, coffee cups, and Skittles.
I do NOT want to 'taste the rainbow'!]




My only insertive moment that required a visit to the emergency room was when I got a pipe cleaner stuck in my ear, because I had run out of q-tips and sometimes a cheapskate Dutch tendency I have not been entirely able to shake crops up. No q-tips, but lots of fluffy pipe cleaners. There is no dignity to having a pipe cleaner stuck in one's ear.

[Using two pipe cleaners would have been sensible, but such a waste! Don't ask.]

On the other hand, one can be fully clothed when heading to the emergency room with a fluffy pipe cleaner coming out of one's ear.
You don't need a trenchcoat, and you can sit down.

Anything that doesn't require a trenchcoat and allows one to sit is good.

Even if it is self-inflicted.




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Thursday, June 16, 2016

LUTHERANS, BASKETBALL, AND WOOL

This blogger may be the only male person in the western hemisphere NOT watching a ballgame at this very moment. My apartment mate is as unexcited by such things as I am. Instead, she is speculating about the role of sheep in the slave trade. An issue of which I heretofore had not been aware. She insists that coarse woolens itch.

Oh, and she also mentioned 'boozems'.

About which I am far more interested.

I'm only paying attention with half an ear, but I swear I just heard something about javelins and flaming spears. It all hangs together somehow, but sometimes her explanations sound like stream of consciousness.

There is somebody like that in Marin, who is much worse and not as witty, and in whose peculiar ranting I have far less interest. At least my apartment mate circles around recognizable targets.
Her perspective is a little off.


"Black folks in white face performing slow 'Jaysuz loves y'all' music, like the Lutherans or some other bunch of dull Waspy types. It's ironic."


All things considered, I am glad that my people (Dutch Americans) do not have any dull bits that she's heard about. We are zesty and full of life as far as she's concerned. Peculiar and twisted, but no dull bits.

Dutch Americans are not known (to her) for their religious observances.
And church music that sounds like gloomy moaning.
At a funeral.

I am the Dutch American that defines the norm.

We are all like that, trust me.

Fine upstanding.



There is an awful lot I hide from my apartment mate.



And there is also a lot that thank heavens she is discreet and diplomatic about. This isn't the place to list everything, or even any of it, but she is in her own way a skilled politician and a saint.
Her boyfriend -- the dude in the wheelchair, whom I've met a couple of times over the years -- is a lucky man, and has much to be grateful for.
He's Jewish, but very Waspy.
Almost Lutheran.





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TRAVELING IN HERDS

As a purely practical matter, everyone should have a Cantonese apartment mate; they are a space-effective solution to the housing crisis in San Francisco. Think of it: instead of a bi-polar shizo-paranoid drug and alcohol abusing immigrant from the flyovers as a dwelling-sharer, who is far too big and bulky for comfort, of whichever gender, you end up with someone who understands the concept of breathing room, and fits into the cramped apartment like it was built for them.

They'll use the kitchen and occasionally eat fish.

My apartment mate is of Cantonese heritage.

We used to be an item, but we broke up.

At that time, both of us realized that moving out was not a good idea for either of us, given that in San Francisco the alternative is usually a large bi-polar shizo-paranoid drug and alcohol abusing free-spirit.

Who may have horrendous taste in music, and no taste in food.

And leave pizza crumbs when they steal from you.

Your wallet is now missing in action.

And you have roaches.



This country is like an enormous tea tray that gets tipped sideways regularly, so that all the inedible crunchies slide off to one side, and end up in San Francisco.



The only downside, for many San Franciscans, to the neat-o idea mooted above, is that they themselves are of Cantonese stock, and probably wish all of the other people would stop coming here, hogging up the sidewalks with their large bulky bodies and refusing to allow elderly grannies on the bus, and being just so gosh-darn white.

Being only five foot eight and a half, I can understand their point.

Some people talk funny, eat to much, and smell bad.

Visitors from America freak me out.

Corn-fed Jed.



RED-EYED DAEMON-BIRDS

Sorry. Just free-associating here. Yesterday I nearly got trampled by several tourists fustercludging together and forcing people aside. All the parent-types were seriously overweight, and every one of them was pinkish white. Beached whales on legs. Blind, deaf, and unfortunately not dumb but rather loud, precisely like a flock of geese.
Big giant flesh eating geese.
With claws.

We actually like visitors from the rest of the country. You all are so easily entertained, and if it weren't for you, we would have NO idea what normal Americans are like, or how regular folks behave.
Thank you so much for visiting!
Do please come again.
You go now.


Sorry. We really like you. Honest!
Have some tea.


Please stop bellowing.



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