At the back of the hill

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

Friday, September 30, 2016

ON BEING THE LAST SANE MAN STANDING

Because I am a grown-up, I can tolerate a wide span of peculiarity around me. Which naturally accounts for my almost Christ-like patience with the cigar-huffing pickleheads of Marin County, as well as the once-a-week jaunt to North Beach for a late night cocktail. North Beach at night is where conversations go south, and people play in traffic.

I myself do not play in traffic, of course.
Nor do I particularly encourage that.
But it's your life. Go ahead.


There is no more art in the alleyway between Vesuvio and City Lights. It has been replaced by an encampamentu civil por la paz (miniature hobo jungle) the frowsty occupants of which keenly appreciate Olde English Eight Hundred, instead of playing guitars, singing off-key, and selling colourful oil paintings of the capitalized word "f*ck" (without an asterisk).
It still smells of medical grade marijuana, though.
Which San Francisco thinks is therapeutic.
All-natural, green, gmo-free.

At this point you may have detected a slight note of weary cynicism. Pay it no mind. This writer is middle-aged, and keenly desirous that the damned kids get off my lawn.

In another quarter of a century I'll probably be off my rocker, too.
And angrily waving a cane.


My Thursday co-worker is infected by base-line earworms.


Throughout the day, at the most unexpected moments, I would hear "dew dew dew, dew" at random, and discover him nearby restocking a shelf or wiping down a surface. In the storeroom he was humming it among the boxes of cigars. When I walked past the bathroom at one point I swear I heard "dew dew dew, dew", followed by "thumpa thumpa thumpa". When he used the microwave in the kitchen to heat up his lunch, it was "ga-dunga dunga dunga". But mostly "dew dew dew, dew".

"Ba da dung dung dung, ba da dung dung dung."

Given that I have no peculiarities whatsoever, I am unable to understand where someone so grievously afflicted is coming from, or the hardships he faces.

It is a form of neurosis I cannot possibly grasp.
I am a pipe-smoker; I am normal.
He smokes cigars.
Poor guy.


Almost everybody in the lounge is a cigar-smoker, and consequently manifests symptoms of some form of insanity, nervous tic, or complete disassociation from reality. It's like working in a hobo jungle amidst the dysfunctional elements. There is no value judgment here, just an objective statement of fact.

I am so glad none of my stuffed animals smokes cigars.
They are mostly pipe-smokers.
Normal.



I hardly ever go to the Oxxy anymore. The patrons are all cigar-smokers, and I suspect that not a single one of them has a Teddy Bear.

An animal companion would benefit their sanity.
Far more than stogies or booze.




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Thursday, September 29, 2016

PORK BUN AUNTIE -- BUY HER FRUIT!

While devouring a pepper-grilled pork chop for dinner I cruised the net. And found 'Pork Bun Auntie'. Who is heroic, larger than life, and has all her priorities straight.

She runs a fruit stall in TaiPei.


"我不想因為這樣出名!"
['I don't want to be famous because of this!']


She was photographed with a broken umbrella in the middle of a typhoon, defiantly eating a pork bun.

[Photo credit: Chiang Ying-ying / AP]


包子阿姨戴太太

She runs the 'Tian-tian shui-guo dian (甜甜水果店 "sweet-sweet fruit shop") at Ching Mei (景美), and hopes that mention of her business (a fresh fruit stand) will increase her sales. Because if that unflattering picture has to be published at all, at least let her benefit from the publicity.

I do not think that is an unflattering picture.

It shows grit. Steely determination.

Or is it stubbornness?


In any case, those are admirable qualities. Not only should her enterprise prosper, so that she can continue to enjoy the occasional bakpao (meat bun) for many more years, but someone needs to make a TaiPei typhoon pork pie to immortalize such spirit.

Surely a meat bun that can beat a howling gale is worth eating?

Coincidentally, I am thinking grilled pork, hot and sour vegetable, and a sourdough crust or pillow, because that somewhat mirrors the components of my own dinner. So actually there is no coincidence, but no matter.

I feel like having some fruit right now.
But there is none in the house.
Except for chilies.



AFTER THOUGHT

Very sorry, Mrs. Dai, but for all of us kwailo you will likely be 'Bun Auntie' (包子阿姨 "bao tze ah yi"), because calling you 'Dai Tai-tai' (戴太太) just sounds a bit queer. I don't know, off. Not quite right in English.
And 甜甜姨姨,while logical, is right out.




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LOVE ME, LOVE MY ARMADILLO

A while back, before my present job, I worked in an office environment and had a cubicle. That is something I will probably do again in the not too distant future. And, after the probationary period is over, the company that hires me will finally learn the ghastly truth.

There will be a stuffed armadillo on my credenza.

At the moment she is ensconced under my computer desk at home, but nothing says warm nurturing environment for creative souls quite like a mummified dead armadillo.

She gets the mind juices flowing.

And keeps children at bay.


Yes, she's a she. I checked. She's only slightly bigger than the laptop on which this essay is being penned. Small, cute, and very personable.


STUFFED ARMADILLO


She is my executive assistant. And like many men, my executive assistant understands me better than any wife, which I don't have.

I find my stuffed armadillo comforting.

She assures me all is well.

Pooky.



AFTER WORD

There is a clickable link called stuffed Armadillo under several essays on this blog, which pulls up everything so tagged. It's some of my more interesting writing.

The last entry was six years ago.
I had forgotten about that.




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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

HOW I WRECKED MY CAR

People are amazed when I tell them how long it has been since I was behind the steering wheel of a motor vehicle. That usually turns to wonder that I am still alive, not in jail, and the entire world is still in one piece.
Because I shouldn't be, should be, and boy howdy is that a surprise.
Not everybody needs to drive, and some of us are following in our father's footsteps. Dad was a bomber pilot for nearly four years.
And saw quite a bit of action.

Quite a while back I took a wrong turn on the way to Berkeley, and ended up in Moraga, in a desolate area on a sand-road to nowhere. So I turned around and headed out, back to the highway and the free world.
Moraga is the dark side of the moon.


THE LEARNING PROCESS

1. It is not advisable to drive over ninety miles an hour on a dirt-road in the middle of nowhere at twilight.
2. It IS advisable to slow down when coming to a sharp bend.
3. When you do not slow down, your car may turn over several times.
4. And come to a stop upside down.
5. Before slowly starting to slide down the slope.
6. And finally coming to a complete stop in a gravel pit down-hill.
7. Where you have to wrestle yourself out of the passenger-side window.

At this point you may discover several things.

1) You. Are. Still. In. Moraga.
2) Your car used to have corners.
3) Your car now has NO uncracked or unshattered glass.
4) The car-frame is bent.
5) The doors are buggered - one can't open, the other won't close.
6) Your pipe (a black sandblast panel with a taper-stem) is still in your mouth, the tobacco is still lit, and has reached perfect cruising speed - the Turkish leaf is coming into its own.
7) Baruch Hashem!

[The pipe, by the way, was a Drucquer-LaCroix, the tobacco was Drucquer's Trafalgar, which was a Balkan blend, fair amount of Turkish, and enough Latakia to make women and small dogs hate me. These are important details, as Drucquers and the people who worked there were a formative influence; I spent a few happy years over the workbench in the back cleaning up old and second-hand pipes and waxing meerschaums.
I started learning taste and judgement in that period.
And also kneed a co-worker in the groin.]


It was a marvelous voyage of discovery.
I learned things I did not know.
Never stop learning.


Eventually, with the help of some passers by, the car was turned right-side up. It still worked, so I did drive back to Berkeley that evening, pulling to the left the whole time, because due to the frame being severely bent the vehicle veered to the right. The driver-side door would not open, the door on the passenger-side could not close completely; in consequence the alarm went off for the entire drive back.
Which is irritating.

The car was considered a total wreck by the insurance company.

I haven't driven since.

There's a connection there.
A key link, if you will.
Perhaps causal.


BIT OF BACKGROUND

A few years before that, for a family event, my father and his wife, and my uncle and his family, had all come to Berkeley.

So I drove 'em around.

My uncle and aunt got out white as sheets, and didn't ride with me again.

One of my cousins, who had been warned by my uncle and aunt, nearly had hysterics after her turn and needed help getting out.

I shan't mention the reaction of the other cousin. That would be mean.
I am not mean.


My father, when I drove him around, just had this big grin all over his puss. He rode with me several more times after that.

I think he approved of my no-nonsense style of manoeuvring.

Oh, I probably should mention that until he married the woman who a few years later was to become my mother, he had owned several small Italian sportscars and a plane (she made him get rid of the dangerous things).



If I had my life to live all over again, I would do exactly the same thing.

I wish I still had that pipe.



Post-scriptum: Indeed, this recounting has appeared on this blog before, but it seemed like time to mention it again. Partly as it clarifies a few things about my character. And no, I am not older and wiser. Just a little quieter and more restrained. Life is sometimes better when you control your inner viking.




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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

JUST FOLLOW THE TRAIL OF DROOL

The main reason why the 'Occupy' movement petered-out so apathetically in San Francisco is because every protest march down Market Street, especially when they tried to occupy a Bart (Bay Area Rapid Transit) station, included two ugly naked men from the Castro district.
One of them sporting a cock ribbon.

My coworkers would ask me "is the coast clear" or "where is the protest march heading", and I would type 'naked protesters SF' into my browser.
"Oh, they are at the Civic Center Station, you should leave now"; and away they'd run. Nobody wants to see two ugly naked men (one of whom is wearing a ribbon round his cock).

There were aerial views, and live camera tweets. Full cranial nudity.

From this we learn that naked men are an enemy of the proletariat and their righteous struggle. For all I know, they are also an enemy of the Nazis and the Oligarchy, but fat savage bastards usually stay in board rooms, rather than taking over public transit, and Nazis are chicken sh*t cowards who live in the Flieg-übers primarily, we'd eat them here.



Things would have been different if they had been handsome stalwart specimens. There would have been a flock of admirers trailing them every step of the way.
Men and women.




It is so sad that the people who should not be naked in public are often the ones who really wish to be. Nudism almost always involves ugliness.

Yes, I am body-shaming those people.

Because I can do that.


Thank heavens the fog is back. The three-day heatwave nearly had us naked. Lordy it was hot. Trying to sleep while maintaining a minimum of modesty was a struggle. While walking back over the hill the most beautiful sight greeted my eyes: fog. Dense drifts and walls of it marching towards me, accompanied by a cold breeze and a flock of crows.

The crows congregated on a rooftop, and looked back at where they had come from, now hidden from sight. The human on the street below marched on into the mist, exultant and reborn.

You should get dressed now.

This is San Francisco.

Screw hot weather.

We aren't nude.




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RANG MAHAL IN CENTRAL

Years ago I worked part-time at an Indian restaurant here in the City. Because, as you should instinctively understand, every Indian restaurant needs a calm and phlegmatic Dutchman guarding the cash box like an angry pit-viper. Indians are an unruly lot, and I was ready to go ballistic at a moments notice.
We Dutch are stubborn, sometimes rabid.

Actually the problem was due to the belief of every intelligent Indian that they were always right, and the nearest Patel was automatically wrong.
Some one had to tell the Patels that.

Eventually all our Patels were replaced by Nepalis and Mexicans.
The Panjabis (mostly Sikhs) and the Tamil stayed.
My job became harder than ever.

After seventeen years they installed a computer system for doing the table checks and totaling up sales, and naturally with so many Indians on staff modifying it and reprogramming it, it was different every time (different colours, layout, logic, and clickable options), and damned well reprogrammed on a daily if not hourly basis.
So I regretfully departed.

I like fighting over minutiae as much as the next man, but sometimes you have to let the Panjabis do their own thing without getting involved.
I think they're all working in the computer industry now.


A COLOURFUL PALACE

Everything you expect from an Indian Restaurant can be had at the Rang Mahal on Queen's Road in Central, near Jubilee, Gutzlaff, and Graham.
It's not far at all from the International Finance Centre, Exchange Square, and Hong Kong City Hall, a reasonable distance from the HSBC offices, and if an intoxicated Australian in Lan Kwai Fong were to walk westward down D'Aguilar two blocks and then turn left, a relatively short but determined stumble would bring his drunken ass there.
Alas, they do NOT have Vegemite.

Please imagine a typical Indian restaurant menu. Plus roasted papads.
The interior will make you think you are in Birmingham.
They open at eleven for lunch.

Or sleep late, and make a breakfast out of it. Dinner ("supper") at any of the places favoured by Englishmen and Australians will likely put you in contact with a drunken Anglo at his worst (squiffy, pugnacious, plus stupendous body odour and beer breath -- that is why you hire big burly Panjabis; it is to control the rabble), especially as it gets later, so go early (they open for dinner at six in the evening), and have a walk with a pipe afterwards.

It is a very clean place, attentive staff, delicious food.
Prices are comparable to anywhere in SF.
The mutton is always excellent.

A splendid restaurant.

No Vegemite.

Very nice, very nice. Very nice, very nice. Very nice, very nice. Very nice, very nice. Very nice, very nice. Very nice, very nice. Very nice, very nice. Very nice, very nice. Very nice, very
nice. Very nice, very nice. Very nice, very nice. Very nice, very nice. Very nice, very nice.



There used to be five Indian restaurants within walking distance of my digs here in SF, but only two are left. The busiest food sellers are those rancid Pakistanis three blocks south. Suleiman used to work for them, and one should distrust everything that loathsome little man had a hand in, though their naan is good. They are across the street from the Delhiwallas, whose efforts are entirely besvad, aur ghatia kach'ro.
Naan takes a Panjabi.




You cannot smoke a pipe on Polk Street, as street-people will harass you about marijuana, and programmers will look at you funny. At any moment a yuppie or a vicious old wheatgerm freak will accuse you of destroying the environment and poisoning puppies and little children, and self-righteous harridans of all ages and genders may scream at you.


This city is filled with f***ing Protestants.




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Monday, September 26, 2016

A SUITABLE PERSON

This blogger is an incorrigible old romantic. Which, to the sane stranger probably seems too much like a dirty old man for any comfort.
The sane stranger has no imagination!
And lacks perspective.

I fried up a pork chop for dinner. Salted and peppered it, both sides, then plonked it into a smoking skillet. Browned on high heat till the juices came through, then turned it over and did the same. Briefly back on the first side to congeal and crust the juices and then onto a plate.

Drained out the excess grease and seethed a bunch of yau choi in the pan, with a subtle addition of Sriracha chili sauce and curry spices.

First I ate the pork chop, and gnawed on the bone.
Then devoured the cooked yau choi.
Delicious!


NOTE TO AN ENTIRELY IMAGINARY PERSON OF WHAT I JUDGE TO BE A SUITABLE AGE (OTHERS WOULD VOCIFEROUSLY DISAGREE) AND SPARKLY PERSONALITY:

You should come over for dinner some evening. Just you, me, and a plate of juicy pork chops! Did you know I am famous for my chops? They come with a relative of mustard greens, cooked halfway between 'Southern Style' and 'South East Asian'. There will also be coffee and ice cream.

Yes, I would love to ravish your fine young body, and indeed doing so will nearly dominate my thoughts, but after such a meal all I will be able to manage is a waddle-waddle-waddle and a belch. So don't worry. The most dangerous thing will be the Davidoff Short Perfecto afterwards. There will be one extra, in case you wish to try a cigar.
I highly recommend the short perfecto by Davidoff, as it is a piss-elegant smoke, very refined, and of superlative quality.

It will have to be after the weather turns cooler, as we may wish to wander romantically under the moonlight with our cheroots. Hot weather is NOT conducive to any greater exertion, and besides which, in this heatwave that we're having, I am at my most comfortable in my wife beater and boxer shorts, and you do NOT wish to see me so habilimented. Especially not if pork chops and cigars are involved.

--- --- --- --- ---

See? Either beautifully romantic, OR disgusting old pervert. Depends on your point of view.

The key thing is probably the cigar. It takes a very nice person to not only tolerate the stogie, but decide 'oh-what-the-heck-why-not'. Although one of the women I know prefers Oliva Series V figurados, and another one has developed quite a fondness for La Flor De Las Antillas 'Le Bijou' boxpressed torpedoes. So you see, women can and do go for a more full-bodied smoke.

Nicaraguans might be the way to go.

I am flexible.





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SPEAKING MORE THAN MY KIND OF ENGLISH

Of a Tuesday evening, per a tradition of some several years, upon leaving the burger joint I hand the Bookseller a tenspot, explaining "dos iz moneten fir bière". Because I pay for first round (beer), he pays for the second (whiskey), I pay again for the third (whiskey) .....
Often there is not a fourth or fifth, unless a tequila-crazed Taiwanese woman insists. The most there have ever been was been nine, including the rotgut red (which I no longer touch) and the Anchor Steam Beer before venturing to the place of utter dysfuntionality, where there is whiskey.
We are two temperate fellows. As befits people of our age.
Wiser than many, we prefer not to overindulge.
It interferes with his laundry.
And my mind.

He does his laundry on Wednesday.

And at all times I like thinking.

I bring this up, because both of us switch registers several times in a conversation. From precise John Cleesean Cheese Shop phrasing, to Subcontinental governmental bureacrat, and several other stages. 'Dos iz moneten fir bière' is Judeo-German and French. Along with 'ekbis', 'dekista', 'spakman', and 'you are a leewwny', it derives from previous exposure and locutionary dexterity.

It is people like us wot cause unrest.

And an entire menagerie named 'Abdul'.


Yesterday I came back from Marin, where during mid-afternoon it had been ninety six degrees Fahrenheit. Which is unbearable. While I was shvitzing vi a khazzer im sauna, some one had posted three comments underneath a recent post.

I reproduce these below.

30dayBeer said…


1:1 Hoiche BotH,

1:2 Salutements after an extended tide of absence! We have just returned from our viage through the Orient, and we bring upon you tidings of our latest tale. Sadly, though there be not mention of bacon, other foodstuffs invoking similar emotions shall be in mention.


1:3 The premiere iteration of our journey found us in the Islets of Lewchew, in which were encountered unto us a band of Iudaean persuasion. They invited us to their local fete, of which they appellated Pirum. As they knew we were well-traveled, they inquired of us of which sages had we gained acquaintance. Being not short of admirers of yours, as such we made mention of yourself. It had appeared that knowledge of your learned word had reached the archipeligians, such that they had rendered your wisdom in the form of a chantion:


1:4 I wanna wake up, In a city that doesn't sleep

And find I'm back of the hill, top of the heap.

Truly, such is the song of ages.

Songbirds!

1:5 After taking of their sundries, we departed to the Asiatic Steppes, former domicile of the Great Khan. Equine delicacies were always a favorite of ours, and we were treated upon arrival to Caballus Tartare, or as it is claimed locally, "Khram of Horse". Its crude appellation belies a tender saveur that is sure to placate the most discerning of Altaic gourmands. We had previously heard that this "Khram of Horse" dish was only to be served upon the occasion of the "Day of Deliverance from the Seas", and we inquired suchly. Our hosts, direct descendants of Temujin hisself, who had been heretofore gracious to us with their trademark hospitalitude, simply stared at us in silent bemusement, if not amusement. Looking upon us as if we were daft, they kindly informed us of the parallel celebration of Goryo, instructed us to direct our queries there, then briskly escorted us from the yurt.


1:6 In hindsight, it was perhaps indeed unlearned of us not to realise that Outer Mongolia was landlocked. 'Twas but a simple misunderstanding that can perhaps be corrected next April.


1:7 Heeding our hosts' instructions, we arranged for our visae to enter the reclusive Hermit Kingdom of Choson. After some elbow-wheeling whose details shan't be mentioned here, we were able to obtain a special entry from the Chief Rabbin of Pyongyang himself. Upon a quasi-difficult journey into the Kingdom, he greeted us personally, along with his Aishes Khail. Upon this we found that the Chief Rabbin was none other than His Majesty the Right and Gracious of the house of Juche! Among the many titles he holds are Grand Imam of the Islamic Caliphate of Goryo, the Cardinal of the Choson Archdiocaese, and Guru Sahib of the Pyongyang Sikhii.


1:8 Surely, none could surpass his multiple beatitudes.

1:9 Namaste.

1:10 There, His Majesty treated us to his special paschal service in his capacity as Chief Rabbin. O, we counted away the hours of wisdom which he showered upon us, until we were treated rightly to essens of lamb and horseradish. We queried of him the whereabouts of the similar horse and lambradish cours, but His Majesty's guards turned their armaments on us. Pursuing that line no longer, we allowed slumber to claim us.




2:1 It would not have occurred to our imaginations that we would actually be spending the Day of Deliverance from the Sea right in the mouth of its danger, for on the eve we had beached on the shores of Old Sai Gon in former Cochinchine, now under permanent Annamese administration. O Fortuna was surely beaming upon us, for we were immediately recognized for the customary horse and lambradish which we had brandished. Ebraeans! We greeted them, "What Ho!" Though we were quickly reprimanded not to use that name around those parts, may it be erased. To the contrary, one should mention the name of Alexandre Dumas frequently, as the denizens were fond of mentioning his supernom with gusto.


2:3 Dumas, Dumas!

(Nay, perish that vulgar thought. The S is silent, per the regules of Frenchois.)

2:4 Our rescuers treated us to the Day of Deliverance Banquet Service, grateful for the deliverance of obligatory spiced cheval. Without it, they informed us, they had naught chance but to resort to the only thing available, which they termed (diacritics inclusive) as "xéc cô bá bit tộ" and "phê nổ bá bit tộ", neither of which sounded particularly appetizing. After they regaled fable upon tale of salvation from the seas (Neptune, as He were, was a harsh daemon in this land), they brought out the local minnek of pho. As it was "yôm a khẳ rợn", they were permitted to partake of the dish, which had been forbidden in the previous week as it contained rice. Local legende has it that Alexandre Dumas had been lost at sea, but once he reached shore on "yôm a khẳ rợn", he found a steaming bowl of pho that salved his life.


2:5 All praise to the Pho King, Dumas.

(Assuredly no obscenity here. You must be pronuncing it incorrectly.)

2:6 Returning to Eastern Wha, we were voyageuring cross Kiangsu-upon-Yangtze, whereupon we arrived upon a local disputation between two embearded fellows. The one in the white kappel was clutching closely to his bosom a copy of the alcoran, muttering Basmalat under his breath, whilst the one in the blue kappel spake softly, allowing his coterie of supportants to vocate his views. 

 2:7 They bade him, "PULL", and thus he did, pulling various trinkets to his vicinity via yarn, and then they manded, "COMPARE", and he orated suavely upon the merits and dismerits of each artifact. It would appear, as it seems, we had encountered a battle of wits between Rabbins and Mofteys.

2:8 As much as we desired not with the interference of local creedical polemica, one of the artifacts that the Rabbin pulled not was simply lying on the ground, catching our attention. It was a schätel of sorts, ruddy and banged, as thus.* An unseen force compulsed us to point at the object and cry out, "PULL!" Not being of his inner circule, the Rabbin simply ignored us, as was his right.

2:9 But our sudden move had caught the attention of his fellow rabbinoids, they followed suit with a "PULL" of their own. Being one to listen to his comrades, he pulled the schätel to his side, upon which the excited cohorts cried, "COMPARE!" while we added our voices to the choros. And then the Rabbin proclaimed the superiority of said schätel, and left his opposer in media fabula whilst reciting alcoranic surae. Defeated, the Moftey wrapped his eyes in his turban and raised his hands palms outward, which is apparently the local expression for surrender among religious folks.

2:10 Having done our meddling, we trekked onward.


2:11 Alas, our sojourn across Asia Major would come to conclude, as the labours of fruit called for us to regress to mundanity. We parted, and returned to the locale of parnosseh (of many across the monde) in the Orkneys.


2:12 Upon arrival, it was indeed discovered to be that the beer had fermented in precisely thirty days.


Quenchful!


Not taking orders.


CELA EST LA 'SCHÄTEL'

3:1 Say, that photo may expire from its cache soon, so in your commenatrical ræsponsa (on which you will doubtless make a full post), I recommend you should download the photo and then upload it to the post, rather than just præsenting the link.


*      *      *      *      *

Totally apropos of nothing, I should mention that I smoked a bowl of Balkan Sobranie tobacco from April of 1981 yesterday.

The comments above are entirely about food. Thirty Day Beer ate well.
I myself did NOT eat so well. Two cups of coffee before I left the house, no solids. When I arrived at my destination in Marin slightly over an hour later, I scarfed down a cheese Danish from 7-11 while starting up, then had naught but tea for the next six hours, till a lunch at four o'clock. I have discovered that a Chicken-Caesar Salad is not at all bad once you add salt, pepper, and SriRacha chili sauce. More tea.
Coffee again once I got home.

At around eight o'clock I had half a mooncake (lotus seed paste, with one preserved egg yolk; 單黃蓮蓉) and dilled Havarti with Pop Pan curry crackers (咖喱味嘅餅乾) from Garden Bakery (嘉頓有限公司).


Years ago, before I quit Drucquers and left Berkeley, I stocked up on Balkan Sobranie. And while there is still sufficient for an eight or nine month binge left, I wish I had bought more. Tonnes more.

To a large extent I am cognizant of my own Gollum-like tendencies vis-à-vis Balkan Sobranie. My precious, my precious .....


This post has not been spell-checked.
It seemed a lost cause.





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Sunday, September 25, 2016

THE RIGHT WING IDIOTS

As you know, I tend to be opinionated, and have an interest in Jewish things and Middle Eastern politics. Consequently I read stuff on various internet sites which may escape other people's attention.

A person whose name and gender I shall not mention posted the following comment elsewhere:

"You LIBERALS , voted twice for the MOST ANTI SEMITE and HATEFUL president ever towards ISRAEL, and yes TRUMP WOULD BE BETTER FOR ISRAEL 100%, Killary's presidency would be Obama's THIRD term ,and a PUPPET of George Sorros a Jew who HATES JEWS and ISRAEL in particular . Do some homework for Israel's sake !!"


Where to begin? This person is obviously completely insane.

Boruch Hashem I do not have break bread with them.

Every group has its angry alcoholics.

So many capital letters.

Tssk. Tssk.




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IS BACON BETTER THAN WHOOPITY?

Umm. I woke up dreaming of two things simultaneously. One of them was nice juicy bacon. The other one? Shan't tell. I am the heart of discretion, and protect the identity of imaginary people. Truth be told, I don't think she had a name, unlike the bacon, which according to its business card is called "Apple Smoke".

I am on a first name basis with pork products.

One of my best friends is 'Pepper Rind'.


A man can have as much bacon as he wants in this world. Which is a good thing. It alleviates loneliness and extends comfort during the dark of night.

Bacon will never let you down.
It will listen to all your personal anecdotes.
Bacon and I have a meaningful and profound relationship.


If a woman wants to land me, she needs to be better than bacon.




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Saturday, September 24, 2016

WAITING FOR THE APOCALYPSE IN THE PIT OF SCUNGE

The badger had decided that it was time to change the rotation of pipes, and to that end rooted around happily in his boxes of briar. It was like revisiting several old friends, as well as a few casual acquaintances whose former company he did not regret, but wasn't particularly enthusiastic about renewing. Badgers are somewhat solitary creatures, and once more associating with a slightly sleazy Savinelli Prince that had a big bottom fill wasn't that attractive. To say nothing of strange Americans.

The little squat bulldog from Wally Frank had to go back in storage, the blasted English Poker would come back out again. That particular pipe reminded him of the many times he had enjoyed rice stick noodles in broth with grilled pork (燒猪肉河粉 'siu chü yiuk ho fan') at Three Suns.
The rusticated billiard? Nah, good smoke. But perhaps not.

From the kitchen, the savage kitten who occupied the other half of the digs could be heard clanging pots and cursing in Cantonese. She was preparing another scrumptious feast for her serpent-hamster boyfriend.
Her this-ing and that baffled him nowadays.



Happily, badger surveyed his stockpile of pipes and tobacco. He had enough good smoke to last for several years, despite the hyenas and pit-vipers of the FDA trying to shut down the manufacturers of decent pipe tobacco while giving free range in a diminished market to the sleaze-bag cigarette companies (Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds), those being the only ones who could afford the extortionate filing fees that were being imposed, and, because cigarettes are addictive, they could pass the cost on to the consumer anyway.

He contemplated the situation for a moment. Surely cigarette smokers all had syphilis and consorted with punk rockers?

Ninety percent of all harvested leaf went into cigarettes. Of the little that remained, most was made into stogies. And the overwhelming majority of what was left got turned into sauced, glooped, and overly perfumed candy aromatics, favoured by lower class types and rodents who had no taste.
A fraction of a fraction of the merest fraction got used in fine Latakia blends or Virginia-Perique mixtures for discerning foxes, crows, stoats, ferrets, badgers, and the occasional industrious beaver.














If the cigarette smokers were depraved, then habitual cigar smokers were probably worse. Afflicted with glanders and the clap, and given to sexual perversion and cruelty. And smokers of aromatics, certainly, were utter perverts, who gladly tortured juvenile field mice and little kittens.

Society's cruelty made him sad. Horrible!
How could people do such things?

It was so very very nasty. Fortunately he had enough stashed away that the coming tobaccopalypse would scarcely impact him.

If need be, he could fortify himself with the machine gun he still needed to buy, as well as several cups of Pu-Er and Lapsang Souchong tea, a good book or two, plus cookies (!), and fend off all comers. The world had become a dangerous place, filled with health-activism zombies, severely puritan werewolves and politicians, and vegans, antivaxxers, Jill Stein supporters, and religious types. Nasty icky reptiles!



Safe in his clutter of pipes, tobaccos, tampers, pipe cleaners, and various books in foreign languages (as all books are, in an age that only texts, and glances at social media), he would survive until saner times.

Occasionally, perhaps, wandering into Chinatown.
To search for noodles and grilled pork.


A loud crash came from the kitchen, and a dulcet voice angrily swore about "the damned sensitive digestion of a Russian Jew".
She was probably referring to her boyfriend.

It was dark outside, and there was howling on Polk Street.
Intemperate cattle were drunkenly stampeding.
And gesticulating at televised sports.



They too, undoubtedly had syphilis, glanders, clap, sexual perversion, tastelessness, and an inconsiderate attitude toward small animals.
Zombies, werewolves, politicians, vegans, cows, lizards!



Tea. Must have more tea. Did he dare venture into the kitchen?
Or was the kitten still foaming at the mouth?

He decided to go out and wander uphill, where the bums and dipsomaniac hordes scarcely ventured. At the top he would fill his pipe and spend time quietly contemplating the beauty of the universe, the mystery of life, and the great sense of happiness that having a good smoke could give.













There might be tea later.


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Friday, September 23, 2016

UNDER THE LINDENS

In olden days people did NOT wear casual clothes on Friday, NOR adorn themselves with tattoos, piercings, and similar inane frippery. At any other time either. There were standards of dignity that had to be maintained.

I could also say something about fruity perfumes, aromatic pipe tobaccos, and pumpkin spice latte. All things which are perfectly horrific, and deserving of opprobrium.

On the other hand, people do change their underwear nowadays.
So the modern world is not all bad.

Still. We could revive some of the past.

Attitudes were better.


SOMEONE SHOULD SAY SOMETHING!


[SOURCE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4p0uw42cdo.]


I note that bushy beards are more common at the present time than they were a few years ago. Many more males look like disreputable hippies or down and out street people. The only way you can tell them apart is that hippies and street people often lack tattoos and i-phones.

The ones with i-phones are usually programmers.

We live in a very decadent and age.

And it's too informal.




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Thursday, September 22, 2016

YOUR FOOD IS NOW MY FOOD, ASIAN PERSON; CULTURAL MISAPPROPRIATION COOKING

One of the most irritating things in San Francisco is fusion cuisine, that being what happens when a Caucasian chef discovers Asian ingredients and does something "creative", claiming that it is better than the original, but inspired by the original. Or does something totally boring, but because she's white and college educated she gets to call it something exotic, charge fifty dollars per serving, and not even acknowledge her immense debt to the five dollars a plate lunchcounter that inspired her.

White folks appropriating Asian culture.

Which I do all the time.


Fried pork burger over rice? Quintessentially Chinatown.
Hot dog chunks cut with bokchoi? Ditto.
"They" appropriate too.

Except, of course, they do it at home, and then sit in front of the teevee laughing at a Brit comedy series, or sumpin'.


I did fried noodles tonight. Bittermelon and bacon chowmein, with a grilled bockwurst. Totally Asian, no German or Englishman would recognize it. Ergo and therefore it's Asian, man.

Partially pancrisped, with chopped chilies, sambal, fermented bean paste, and garlic. I didn't want to use shrimp paste, as I wasn't aiming for a Filipino taste. And sure, a Chinese person would probably have used charsiu or siu yiuk instead of bacon, as well as scallion and ginger in lieu of garlic.
And absolutely no hot stuff. No chilies, no sambal.
They might omit the bockwurst entirely.

Do NOT omit the bockwurst! Life is better with bockwurst!

Sambal, by the way, is Dutch, Ceylonese, Malay, Indonesian, South African, Surinamese, Peranakan, and Dutch-American.
But as I know it, mostly Dutch.

I'm fairly sure bockwurst is German, not Chinese.


Probably hands down the worst example of cross-cultural mish-moshing was Martin Yan during the season when his sponsors were a soy sauce company, salted almonds, canned pineapple, tofu, and California Cheese. But I shall not call it cultural appropriation, because I cannot think of a single demographic to which it might appeal.
Well, maybe white people.


Anyhow, to conclude, I totally cooked Asian tonight.
Your food is now my food, I own it.
Chinese, you betcha.




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THE PHILISTINES WERE ALMOST CERTAINLY CANADIAN

Two years ago E-kvetcher alerted me to a piece of music, oddly apropos of a lobster's demise. Which, naturally, leads me directly to my ex-girlfriend's conception of heresy. She is Chinese American, and does not take kindly to white people pulling the eastern spirituality shtick, or going all wheatgerm and gluten-intolerant about food. As just two examples.

Which I can well understand. Let's start with the fact that I can validly claim to be as Dutch as I am American, and consequently despise Dutch misconceptions about the United States as well as Americans who have spent three days stoned out of their tiny little pinhead gourds in Amsterdam and on that basis claim to know the Netherlands.

You are both wrong, and may be idiots.
[Gij zijt beiden verkeerd, en mogelijk dwazen.]


There were also the people who expressed the thought that, because I worked with so many Indians, I was in a position to absorb all kinds of mysticism and ancient wisdom.

Somehow just absorbing Murgh Makhni was not enough.
Clearly I was deficient, too materialistic.

No third eye.


A THIRTY THOUSAND YEAR OLD REINCARNATED INCA PRINCESS

Some things you just don't do. Stupid stuff that you know better than, going all Asian or Dutch or American Indian mysterioso crazy, pretending to be a special kind of enlightened, smoking aromatic pipe tobacco, writing shitty meaningful free-verse, being "artistic", and doing the "I was whatever exotic in a previous existence therefore I understand what it all really means" fakery.

Or messing around with a familiar piece of music.

My Ex loves Gilbert and Sullivan. To me, meh. It's okay, I suppose.
Not particularly fond of sprightly operettas in English.


She would be horrified by the following:


SHOPPING LISTS IN SUMERIAN AND AKADIAN


[SOURCE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3x2SvqhfevE&feature=youtu.be.]

And she would be baffled. What is all that crap? Who could possibly find it entertaining? Remarkably I can think of SEVERAL people who would find it entertaining, including a few rabbis, yeshivists, Torah leyners, bookish types, and just general goofballs.

What we all have in common is that we don't take sprightly operettas very seriously, but do find philology and exegesis rather interesting. Linguistic stuff gives us secret pleasure. Oh thrill my heart.

My Ex would consider it frightful heresy.

Burn, heathens, burn.




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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

ROMANCING THE FOSSIL

A fellow pipe-smoker on Facebook is moving to Hong Kong, where his company will house him near the home office. He's being well-housed.
No, shan't mention where. Walking distance from both Goose Neck and Man Mo. I suggested that there are stretches of Hollywood Road which are good for lunting.

[Lunting: a verb of which I was unaware until about a year ago, meaning to stroll or wander about while smoking a pipe. From sixteenth century Dutch 'lont', which in context was a slow fuse or wick carried as a source of fire, rather than requiring flint and tinder. Even then there were anti-smoking nebbishes and shmendricks chasing the civilized man out of the house.]

A few years ago I posted a brief essay about Hollywood Road ("a place where all visitors end up at some point"), describing the meandering stretch from Aberdeen Street (鴨巴甸街) to Lok Ku Road (樂古道).
The Man Mo Temple is in that area, and there are antique shops.

Today I shall lunt.


I have no choice. My apartment mate took the day off, and is presently in her room sleeping while clutching her teddy bear. Surrounded by monkeys and very personable giant spider.

I am presently wondering if I should bring a book to read, as the place where I wish to enjoy a big bowl is facing the tennis court at Willie "Woo Woo" Wong, and one cannot spend half an hour just blanking. It's a nice quiet area on Hang Ah, and other than a rare wandering weirdo, and the constant clackity clack of mahjong tiles from the social clubs, there is nothing. Peaceful. Shaded. Benches.

I may not bring a book; it would be an encumbrance while grocery shopping afterwards, and it looks dreadfully old-hat and pretentious in this modern age. I already have one strike against me, as instead of fashionable sucking on a vape-instrument like a hip young fellow I smoke a pipe like an elderly relic. Add a tome to that, and the effect of a total dinosaur will be complete.

Gravitas coming out of the ears.


"Hi. I am old. I read Wittgenstein. Respex my authoritay!"


Followed, of course, by coughing in a pretentious manner, while making sure that everyone knows that I have suffered for my art, and am filled with existenz-angst. Mit einem sehr großen profundität.

Mostly, though, it's because it will be too damned warm to do much, it's a day off, and I wish to be lazy and day-dream about sex, rain, the typhoon season, the cooler parts of the world, panties, and what would happen if Donald Trump wandered into the La Brea Tar Pits.
Plus I am NOT old. Heaven forfend.
I have piss and vinegar.
I'm full of it.

I am the sprightly young buck gambolling in the mountain glade, the veritable hamster or bunny rabbit frisking in the tall grasses.
Insert an appropriate youth metaphor here.
And I am not at all grumpy.



Pastries. Milk tea. A gentle whisp of Perique tobacco on the breeze, combined with supportive Virginias, the smoldering leaf presenting a mysterious perfume, alluring incense from a previous time.



There are four types of bird by which the North-East quadrant of the city is marked: pigeons, crows, parrots, and seagulls. They each act different, and show character traits that identify them and make them charming.
If a relative of the dinosaur can be considered 'charming'.

Hang Ah has pigeons. TransAmerica Redwood Park has crows. Bierman and the Embarcadero have parrots and seagulls, and also a crow family keeping a watchful eye on an elderly relative who flies slow.

There are almost no pigeons in Portsmouth Square. Mostly just card-playing grannies and cheeky sparrows. And the occasional loon.




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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

THE BRITISH COLONIAL CO.: THE END OF THE SPICE TRADE

As it turns out, an Australian theme-restaurant that recalls the glory days of the British Empire has woken the ire of the internet world. British Colonial Co. said that it was "inspired by the empirical push into the developing cultures of the world". Social media was outraged. And social media, which features the underreported voice of right thinking white middle class liberals and wannabee white middle class liberals, promptly fired off hate mail, blistering sarcasm, and snide comments.

Outraged!

As am I.

They serve something containing quinoa!

And:
"Seared Salmon, pont neuf potatoes, parsnip puree bacon crumb. Watermelon & Chilli Mojito. Chefs special "Goldband Snapper, clam vichyssoise, baby leeks & watercress". Smashed avo with beetroot hummus and dill oil. Chickpea coated baby squid, black pudding, molasses, pickled cucumber and kiwi chive salsa. Chicken, rosemary quince pate with apricot puree and sourdough. Middle eastern seven spice Cape Grim Sirloin, truffle smoked potato mash and iceberg and cornichon salad, Panko prawns with cucumber, mango & chilli salad and avocado mousse. The Imperial, a concoction of tequila, chamomile, lime juice, grapefruit and aperol. Rosewater melon, dragon fruit, pomegranate, rockmelon, strawberries, chia seeds & Saffron labneh. Tandoori braised beef cheek with Jewel quinoa, sweet potato purée, kale and been sprouts" ......

"Hickory smoked quail with tarragon polenta, African-influenced eggplant spinach sauce, and a taro and onion jam."

[SOURCE: their horrific Facebook page.]



Where's the Lady Curzon Soup, the Residency Curry, Groundnut Chop, Ball Curry over Coconut Rice, and Mango Fool?!?

The only appropriate drinks, by the way, are Scotch, Scotch and Soda, Gin and Tonic, Gin Pahit, and nimboo panee.

Condiments: ketchup, wooster.


Anyhow, if you're in the area (they're in  Syndey  Brisbane), please drop by for some tiffin. Especially if you need to get away from Spaghetti sandwiches, Snags, Pavlova, and Vegemite.




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THE FREEDOM!

Yes! The apartment mate left the house for work mere minutes ago, there is a cup of coffee balanced on a stack of books, I have firmly snecked her door and opened all the windows, managed to accidentally pee on my wifebeater, and am smoking a bowl of Queer Mud.
Those of you with willies will understand.

I will be doing a load of laundry today.
Queer Mud is a recent tobacco blending experiment.
The apartment mate is a non-smoking female with a teddy bear.

It has taken me a few decades, but I finally live like a disreputable teenage bachelor. Pipes, tobacco, coffee, and up before school hours on a daily basis.



I was actually planning to be married and a father of five children by now. Though still surrounded by pipes, tobacco, books, and coffee. I have had to make adjustments in my expectations. Things happened that weren't in the programme. For one thing, women issues. It turns out that I am NOT the type that women want. Imagine my surprise. I am not entirely happy about that, but I suppose the alternative might be a handbag-obsessed blonde suburbanite or a gluten-allergic dingbat with spirituality and idiot beliefs.
This is California.

Queer Mud consists of three Virginias and a little Perique. One of the Virginias is a darkish flake. Grassy notes, sweetness, and a little complexity. What stands out is the panoply of carotenoids.

It is a very long wife beater, it got in the way. I wasn't planning that.Unlike women, men don't sit down to pee, we gaily stand and let ourselves get distracted, rather than calmly thinking about and planning it out.


The tobacco is very nice.




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Monday, September 19, 2016

ROSE PAK, BITCHES, ROSE PAK

The moment greedy real estate developers have been praying for is finally upon us, and among San Francisco's political elite there is elation; Rose Pak is dead.
Passed away on Sunday, aged 68 years.

Unless someone else can blackmail politicians, we can write off Chinatown. The Six Companies, the various Chinese Chambers of Commerce, the clan associations, and the fraternal organizations, are too limp and comfortable playing by polite rules which gain their directors access to white society on occasion, to be effective, and mayor Ed Lee has never had it so good; he sees state office in his future and will try to ditch his background much like Bobby Jindal did in Louisiana.



Union Square merchants will probably waste no time pushing through their rancid plan to turn Stockton Street into a pedestrian parkway, which will strangle Chinatown and drive all those nasty poor people out.

By the way, the Central Subway won't help Chinatown at all; there's only ONE stop in the neighborhood. People will still need to take the bus, and delivery trucks will still need to transport goods.

The San Francisco big dicks have wanted to strangle the place since the earthquake in 1989. Now the sleaze-bags finally have their chance.




San Francisco politics: where erectile dysfunction and moral decay meet.




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CRUSTY AND POOPED

Yesterday I ate a blueberry Danish for breakfast after getting to work early in the morning, and for a late lunch at around five I had a small chicken Caesar salad, a serving of coconut gelato, and some drinkable fruit yoghurt. In between were several cups of tea.
Before I left for Marin, and after I returned, some strong coffee.
The evening's snack -- no dinner, because of late lunch -- was half a mooncake; fruits, nuts, and a salty egg yolk.


Today, in the grim twilight before dawn and the effect of the first cup of coffee, it feels like all my moral failings have caught up to me.


I think it's the hot weather. Yesterday and the day before were warm, unseasonably so. I can't wait for global warming to get worse, so that the fog in San Francisco starts earlier, and lasts all the way through October.

Imagine everything between the bridge and Novato hued in grey.
Cool, velvet-limned, and silver in the shadows.
Soft and comforting, even at noon.



If the rainy season starts soon, that's fine by me.




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Sunday, September 18, 2016

YOU ARE UNORIGINAL, AND THOSE SHORTS LOOK SILLY!

Some people just don't deserve the good cigars. Their judgment is questionable, their tastes perverse, and their moral fibre dubious.
They intend to vote for Trump.

I like him, because his dog has a wonderful personality. That reflects well on the man, but he's not, strictly speaking, firmly moored in reality. I hope the dog keeps him out of trouble. Should give the dog the vote, as well as a credit card of its own.

The dog, unfortunately, does not smoke.


Far too many cigar-smokers of my acquaintance are Trumplodytes, or out and out batshit crazy. It seems like the moment they light up that big phallic symbol, their brain takes a back seat, and only serves to co-ordinate the various operative parts of their anatomy. Sometimes one is left wondering whether the thought that came out of their mouth originated in the testicles, or that little wrinkled hairy wet spot right underneath, where the jock itch is starting to eat its way upward.


I would like to say that pipe smokers are not like that, being a pipe smoker myself, but given that the majority of them habitually huff ghastly aromatic crap -- eighty percent of the pipe tobacco sold worldwide is cheap perfumed dreck, in the United States what most of them smoke is 1-Q, BCA, or Captain Black -- that argument cannot be supported.


So I am left with only ONE possible conclusion:

EIGHTY PERCENT OF THE PEOPLE ARE NOT UP TO SNUFF!

A horrible situation. If you lot are going to share my world, y'all need to shape up. Get your minds out of the trailer park, and eventually your bodies may follow. Do a crossword puzzle occasionally to stay limber. Try learning something new everyday, and study a little bit of real science.
Eat something that does not include bacon and cheese.
Lay off the coffee; you won't talk as much.
Maybe even think before you speak.

Turn off your teevees.



And if you ARE going to smoke a pipe, for crapsakes do NOT fall for an aromatic mixture. Anything that identifies itself with the words 'cavendish', 'tropical', 'vanilla', 'caramel', 'honey dew', 'hazelnut', 'very cherry', 'mango', 'chocolate', 'black forest', 'maple', 'peaches and cream', 'buttered rum', 'heather honey surprise', 'pumpin spice', 'watermelon', or "prepare for an exotic taste of heaven", should not be in your pipes or your life.

Even if you have married a tacky blonde with Hello Kitty tastes.

Learn these words: bright Virginia, red Virginia, brown Virginia, toasted Virginia, black stoved Virginia, Kentucky fire-cured, unflavoured Burley ribbon, Perique, Turkish, Oriental leaf, Latakia, Maryland, flake, and Donald Trump is a rancid caveman with a dead ferret on his brow.


Life will be better.




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