At the back of the hill

Warning: May contain traces of soy, wheat, lecithin and tree nuts. That you are here
strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton.
And that you might like cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Friday, May 31, 2019

RECORDED MESSAGES

Some pre-recorded phone calls are exceptionally irritating. Two in particular: Dave your neighborhood airduct cleaning service, and the computer service department which tells you to call 1-888-928-0444 for a refund, otherwise your card will suffer an automatic deduction. If you call 1-888-928-0444, you get a gentleman with a Desi accent. One of several. Every unemployed haramzad in Hyderabad is probably part of the scam.

Teri ma ki ch**d.

In all honesty, I am beginning to hate that damned Desi accent. Go wobble your heads, ulu de putara. By the way: none of you people know how to make a good cup of tea, and the Muslims taught you everything.


That accent from someone you don't know on your telephone means a con artist, grifter, or pimp. Someone foul and untouchable who either voted for Donald dingleberry Trump or Narendra buggery Modi.


But otherwise, it is me, Venky Injinir, keen to kindly inform you about a fabulous opportunity oh my certainly yes ji.


Bapri buggery bap!




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USE A SHOVEL

There are some things that, at the crack of dawn, even the most pensive of men has a hard time bending his head around. For instance, the sameness of small animal carcasses and "touching" oneself.

As per Leviticus (Shemini).


11:28  And also, one who picks up its dead body must wash also his clothing, and remains unclean until evening. These are unclean to you ... "
"Vehanose et nivlatam yechabes begadav vetame ad ha arev teme'im hemah lachem.
11:29  These are the little creatures that creep on land which are unclean to you: the stoat, the mouse, the ferret ... 
"Ve zeh lachem ha tame ba sherets ha shorets al ha'arets ha choled ve ha achbar ve ha tsav leminehu ... "
11:30  the field mouse, the lizard, the salamander, the snail, and the gecko.
"Ve ha anakah ve ha koach ve ha leta'ah ve ha chomet ve ha tinshemet."
11:31  These are the little creatures that are unclean to you, whosoever touches them when they are dead will remain unclean until evening.
"Eleh hatme'im lachem bechol ha sherets kol hanogea bahem bemotam yitma ad ha arev."


The same restrictions apply to "touching" oneself. Go sit in the tub til dark.
Okay. That's mighty peculiar.


"...asher kidshanu be mitzvosav ve tzivanu shel chomes."


Fortunate, indeed, is the man who dwelleth near running water.
Or the woman. Most women avoid dead creatures.
But, for the odd one, a bath is necessary.


There are good reasons why I do not teach Sunday School.
Besides my thorough skepticism, that is.
Or cynicism. That too.



Perhaps I should bathe more.




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Thursday, May 30, 2019

STAY OUT OF THE PONDS

He hasn't been back since the war. Another ex-military person today assured him that it wouldn't be like that, and I remarked that all the triggers would be gone, it very probably would not be in any way disturbing. After more than four decades, things aren't the same. Not as remembered.
But of course, I cannot know this for certain.
Everyone is different that way.
It's his head.


When someone is shooting at you, it cements some odd memories.


He remembers, particularly, leeches.

Haema-dipsoids.

Et autres.

Related, disgustingly, to earthworms.


INSULAR SOUTH EAST ASIA

I remember tamarind trees, because I was told that the leeches would drop from the branches if I walked underneath. I can spot a tamarind tree (pokok tjampaok) with its pale lobiate leaves with one hand tied behind my back.
But I rarely saw any leeches. None above me in the canopy.
They're much more noticeable when they're full.
And rare in urban areas.

Leeches are more common in rice paddy Asia than sago palm Asia.

They also live in the South Eastern United States (good reason to avoid those regions), and sometimes (rarely) occur in wet areas of central and southern California.



The leeches in Golden Gate Park (helobdella californica) feed off larvae.
Haemolymph eaters, as painted by Vincent van Gogh, 1885 or later.




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BAD MONKEY, NO BANANA!

As the wise elder, some of the other pipe-smokers look to me for advice and valuable experience. Which is wrong on both counts. This blogger insists he hasn't grown up yet, and is age-wise perfectly suited for a life of crime.
Provided someone provides speedy transport away from the scene.
Can't really outrun the fuzz anymore.
An arthritic leg.

Besides, the latest meeting of the pipe club was dominated by discussions about salmon, and I am more of a herring man myself.

But that is neither her nor there. Here is both advice and experience, as suited to my fellow pipe smokers.
NOT recommendations.
Necessarily.


INSTRUCTIONS ON RAISING CHILDREN
Link: http://atthebackofthehill.blogspot.com/2012/02/instructions-on-raising-children.html
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 01, 2012


CHANGE OF PACE - ONE SLUTTY LITTLE VIRGINIA
Link: http://atthebackofthehill.blogspot.com/2008/08/change-of-pace-one-slutty-little.html
MONDAY, AUGUST 11, 2008


MY DALLIANCE WITH A TROLLOP
Link: http://atthebackofthehill.blogspot.com/2008/07/my-dalliance-with-trollop.html
WEDNESDAY, JULY 30, 2008



I had sort of forgotten about these posts, until an aficionado of Clan pipe tobacco reminded me of them. Clan was one of the nightmares during my adolescence, and two of my classmates swore by it. It is exceptionally unpleasant. Too tooty fruity. Not something that a civilized person should have any fondness for, unless they are unmitigatably degenerate.

I have too much gravitas for that.




TOBACCO INDEX


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Wednesday, May 29, 2019

CAREFUL, LID HOT!

You can only get the rice clay-pots if you read Chinese. Because they are not on the English language menu. Not because they don't like you, but because they don't really know how to translate them, and there are too many, most of which English-only people would not order anyhow.

Dissected frog ontop of rice in claypot.
Spare ribs and dried fish rice claypot.
Preserved meat flavour rice claypot.
Press vegetable and fatty chunks ...
Etcetera, etcetera


Of course, explaining to the paler folks what the entire concept of claypot rice (煲仔飯 'pou chai faan') is about is also a stumbling block, especially as in it's great variety it is a Hong Kong and Kongchow (岡州) thing, badly and poorly represented elsewhere.

[Kongchow (岡州): old name for the four county area in the Pearl River Delta, eventually renamed sanwui (新會) centuries ago, from which by division the four present counties ('sanwui' 新會、 'hoi ping' 開平 、'toi san' 台山、 'en ping' 恩平) came. 新會孕育了四個邑 ('san wui yan-yuk le sei go yap'); "the new association spawned four crickets".]


煲仔飯

Rice cooked in a small clay casserole (砂煲 'saa pou') so that it will have a crackly browned, sometimes even burnt, layer where the rice stuck to the clay. In the finishing stage fragrant and often somewhat salty ingredients are layered on top to perfume the rice and cook along, frequently including dried stuff, preserved meats (fragrance!) and salt-pickled vegetables. When the lid is lifted, a sweetened soy sauce is drizzled around the hot edges for a further burst of steam, which also loosens the crackly part, which is one of the most appreciated parts of the dish. It is comforting, tasty, filling, and altogether echoes home town good things. It is also, when ordered for a meal, sheer lazy indulgence. Lunch or dinner, one or more.
You'll have to wait, there is no "instant".
Twenty minutes or so.

Scant vegetables. Chiefly animal protein.

One can tell from what the customers have in front of them what kind of people they are. That table with the sauteed vegetables and meats are three gentlemen having lunch together, but they need to be back at work soon. Those two claypots and a serving dish over there? Those old ladies are having a long relaxed meal. The table with the two young men, one plate of fried rice one plate of fried noodles, represents American born college students, sadly not able to read what's on the wall. This nearby table with nothing except a teapot for a man, a woman, and an adolescent girl with braces? Well, they are happy and relaxed, and there is no evidence that they already ate. So they must be waiting for fabulous claypots.

Their claypots came at the same time as mine did. I had plum vegetable meat patty claypot rice (梅菜肉餅煲仔飯 'mui choi yiuk beng pou chai faan'). I do not know exactly what they ordered, but for a while the restaurant was silent and happy.


It's a small place, and some of the staff only speak Toisanese, not Cantonese. Although one of them also understands Mandarin.
Oh, and enough English for "Sweet 'n Sour Pork".

It was an extremely enjoyable lunch.



Next time, laap mei pou chai faan.

臘味煲仔飯。




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HAIRY SMELLY CANNIBALS

One of the nicest and best things ever said about any group was "Lazy, fat, beer-sodden, pseudo-French Belgian bastards in Hasselt". This was John Cleese on Twitter after a performance. Hasselt, as you may know, is thirty three miles directly south of the town where I spent my youth. And this description is one hundred percent spot-on. Though too charitable.

I couldn't have said it better myself.


But why on earth was he there? Hasselt and its environs are the European equivalent of Iowa and Alabama combined. Perfectly frightful.
There. Is. Nothing. Worthwhile. There.

John Cleese later changed his tweet to "pseudo-Dutch", which is somewhat more accurate, though the lord only knows where that ghastly patois they speak actually came from, because although I am natively fluent in Dutch and Kempisch, I cannot understand a word the Hasseltian savages say, for heavens' sake learn how to communicate properly, you odious rancid drunken provincials.


"Miserable Fat Belgian Bastards"


Dutch, even in many of its goofier regional dialects, is perfectly intelligible. Lyrical, and even eloquent. Truly the language of poetry. Kempisch (which is a close relative) can be sharp, biting, and witty. Antwerp Flemish has a distinct charm. Mellifluous.


Hasseltian?


Ga'verdamme.


Pseudo-German.




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NOT THE PAST. NOT THE PRESENT.

The kind of night that they should all be like. No drunkards interfering with our progress, no weirdos at the burger joint during our stay there, and among the patrons at the place with the mezzanine, the known idiot at the bar was quiet, and later stumbled off into the darkness without a fuss.
The karaoke joint was empty when we arrived -- they happily let us in because they know that we're well-behaved, then continued cleaning and counting the cash register with us as the only two customers in a peaceful brightly lit place with no horrid music -- and locked up when we left, somewhat before two o'clock.

I don't drink, of course, because of my medication. Briefly I thought of breaking my rigid new habit, but discarded that thought.

I don't need alcohol. Just good company.


Often the only way to find that in bars is if you bring it with you. If there were a late-night Chinese bakery, with milk-tea and pastries, that would be a regular hang-out. One of the bakeries which I patronize has mostly old people sitting down, and, of course, they need not go to work the next day.
It would be perfect. Naturally their kinfolk would get no rest, what with grandpa or grandma wired to the eyebrows at ungodly hours ...

Elderly Cantonese people on coffee are vibrant.
Cheerful, rackety, and happy as clams.
Vibrating clams.


Edward Hopper - Nighthawks

There's always donut shops, but the coffee is usually lousy, the deepfried sugary snacks only appeal so much, and they've never heard of milk tea. What they do have is drunken young adults, junkies, and street people sleeping in corners. So a very limited attraction.

Some people can stay up all night drinking coffee or tea.
But cities seldom cater to that type.



We probably need more train stations, with people waiting for the midnight transcontinental and the either late or very early commuter trains in the 24 hour restaurant at the end of the platform.


I'm always up at this hour.
Usually earlier.




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Tuesday, May 28, 2019

STOP STARING, WE'RE NORMAL

When I got up to leave I had to say goodbye to everybody. To my surprise everyone there was an acquaintance with whom I had conversed on earlier occasions. Which, given that I am normally an antisocial bloke, and not fluent in Cantonese, is rather amazing. Well, three others aren't fluent (or even able) either. Burmese, Burmese, and somewhere in the Visayas.
Plus Toishanese for everyone else.
All regulars.


Except for an Indian (Desi) woman and her charming little daughter.

"Ohe, bhein-ji, you really should try the egg tart, it is truly delicious! And goes well with a cup of milk-tea, which is just like masala chai, lekin bina masala ki tarah hai ... "

[Yat go daan taat, yat pui naai cha. Tong maai yat go ku-kei.]

"Mummy, if I have a cookie, will you eat half of it?"

No wonder the little girl was so thin.


They finished their tea-time snack and bade farewell to uncle-ji. So, some visitors do not get on my nerves. But on the other hand, the Caucasian elephants that came in, stared in intent disinterest at everything, then left without even responding to a counter-person's "hello", different matter.

Folks, we are not the penguin enclosure at the zoo.


That problem does not arise at the place where I had porkchops earlier, because everything about it screams not interesting enough to gawk, as well as language barriers that might prove insurmountable.
Which is a fortunate accident, I believe.
Not their actual intention.


The porkchops were scrumpty, and I smoked two pipes today, one after the milk tea at the bakery. Weather-wise, it wasn't a day for nudity.
Which I don't do in public anyway.
Sorry.




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THE FLOWERS ARE SO BEAUTIFUL ...

Years ago the bookseller and myself would, on our ways home at night after visiting low dives, stop at a shop window where there was a poster of Andy Lau looking soulful next to a poem. We'd recite the poem. And giggle.
It was something sweet and romantic, yet "off".
Flowers. So beautiful.

[We don't do that anymore because his route has changed. We still frequent low dives, however.] 

Which, I suspect, is much like spam bots visiting my blog and trying to seed the comments field. The second part of their programming would be, after a suitable interval, to scour the internet for the exact phrase they tried to post, complete with misspellings and wrong characters. Then mark that comment field in their head as 'promising'. Let's see if we can put viagra or real-estate ads there. Later variations of that comment would be modified, to escape detection by Microsoft and Google, which compile lists of the seeds they plant, but would still be a recognizable form of the original.

If it worked, data would be shared with other spammers.

The first step daily, if one has a blog, is to look at the comments awaiting approval. Dump the suspect comments in the trash, which sends them to the compilers of garbage lists for future flagging OR alerts one's own computer somehow that the phrase in question is suspect.
I'm not sure about the details.

They are programmed to victimize a comment field.
The first one that they see.
My letterbox.


SUCH DAT4! I WILL ADSORB YOUR 3N3RG3TIC!

The phrases are all off and mostly not relevant to the post underneath which they'd be appended. Sometimes quite berserk. And here, they often show up in my letterbox (see below), which you will note is a dedicated comment field that exists purely for contacting me or saying something you don't necessarily wish other readers to see.

Use the letterbox to send me a message.

Stuff like (purely hypothetical examples): "Your fly was open at the coffee shop yesterday", "take me now, you hot stud", "Trump is a traitor", or "I've joined Scientology and don't appreciate you're sneers anent the one true religion". As just for instances.

"My hovercraft is full of eels."

I don't know. Maybe you do want to bang me. Or you're painfully shy.
And prefer other readers not to see spelling errors.
You write everything in Cyrillic.
Hamsters inspire you.


THE REPETITIVITY OF IT ALL

Stating that the post 'My letterbox' has shared important knowledge and all the other readers are contributing valuable insights in the comment string, when there is, in fact, zip diddly there, is ridiculous. Asking that I write more on the subject of 'My letterbox' because, somehow, it seems a little lacking in detail is also transparent, as is praise for how nicely 'My letterbox is written. Informing me that the embedded pictures and videos are extremely informative? It's 'My letterbox', there are no pictures and videos there. Telling me that everything is loading slow? Yeah, no.
Asking how you may contact me?
See 'My letterbox'.

"It's unquestionably stylish!"

Here, for the programmers responsible for all that shite, who are probably Russian or Indian, and paid by not being whipped, is a helpful video.


BUNGA BUNGA

[SOURCE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pc6IOieGuig&feature=share.]


Feel free to post your comments ('My letterbox'). I find this video inspiring. In both Malay and Indonesian, and several other related languages, the term 'bunga bunga' is the plural of 'flower' (bunga).
So Andy Lau's poem, which I referenced above, would start thusly:
"bunga bunga itu, yang paling indah".
Bunga bunga. Letterbox.

I am not sure what 'bunga bunga' means in your language, whichever one that might be. If it means something else, do please let me know.

The letterbox is so beautiful ...




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AN AUTUMN'S TALE

Too much on the internet is depressing. Which, I suspect, is why so many visitors come here for my more perverse essays (to which I will post no links, find them by yourselves) as well as several articles about pipes and tobacco. Of which this will not be one.

One of the other little pieces that gets read a lot is about Cherie Chung.
A famous movie star, and a favourite screen presence.

鍾楚紅

Cherie Chung (鍾楚紅'jung cho hung') was one of the top Hong Kong actresses till she left the industry in the nineties. In many movies, her presence gilded the entire experience for the viewer, and for any one going to movie theatres during her heyday whatever role she played was imbued with a vulnerable memorability.

She made many great movies.
She was great in many movies.

金都戲院、世界戲院、大明星戲院、華聲戲院、新聲戲院

There were five active venues showing Canto flicks at one time. The Pagoda Palace hasn't existed for nearly two decades. The World Theater closed even before then; the building is now a Chinesey-poo boutique-y centre for the kwailo to suck up atmosphere. The Great Star occasionally hosts art performances for non-Chinese people; interpretive cabaret stuff and meaningful crap, or something like that, très bohème. The Washington is now a funeral paper goods store, and the Sun Sing -- which many people of an older generation remember fondly, because they went there when the neighborhood was both insular and flourishing -- is now a gutted ruin after a long period as a depressing mall with cheap knic-knac vendors, with an eccentric egg tart (蛋撻 'daan taat') bakery still in the side space.

Chinese cinema, both HK and Mainland, has gone all superhero cgi.


Most of the truly stellar actors and directors from the eighties and nineties have left Hong Kong, and are now doing other things. Movies are pointless when nobody goes to theatres anymore and everybody watches everything on their hand-held devices.


There was a time when people went to the movies several times a month. Almost all cinemas in this quadrant of the city have closed. They've been replaced by gyms, condos, and holes in the ground.


SF is very fond of holes in the ground.
That means progress!




AFTER THOUGHT

Today is probably a good day for milk tea and an egg tart at tea time, around four o'clock. The place with all the noisy old people.




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Monday, May 27, 2019

CLOTHING AND CHOCOLATE

There's a common belief that food cravings are the body's way of telling one that it requires a certain nutrient. By the same logic, craving a satisfying bowl of tobacco must mean that I need nicotine and tar, and craving the company of women must mean that I need a skirt. You can see the flaws there; a skirt in Francisco weather is not recommended, and today that would have been insanity.

I want chocolate right now. Say, what the heck is IS this flavour cookie creme? Matcha? That is hardly what my body will ever require. And it doesn't want it. Where's damned the chocolate?


I do need a skirt.


The well-balanced wardrobe properly includes skirts. A man must have flounce in his life. It nurtures the softer side.


Flounce!


Of course, I wouldn't wear it; see aforementioned San Francisco climate. But I do appreciate how a skirt looks on a woman. Form-fitting yoga pants with every crease and bulge on display, or a sweeping line terminating perhaps in a little frill or neatly done hem, and an elegant silhouette?
The skirt, obviously, wins.

It's a great pity that, at the beginning of summer, the weather this year is still beastly. That biting wind in mid to late afternoon is pure torment, horrible for skirt-wearers and people forced to be outdoors, like the men working on the ongoing Van Ness Avenue diggings.

And, for instance, pipe smokers.


My apartment mate was home today. So I left the house relatively early. Haircut, lunch, old briar filled with Virginia, frozen buns, two cups of hot milk-tea, second pipe, hypothermia, dammit.


I am cold and lonely.




TOBACCO INDEX


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BECAUSE THEY ARE IDIOTS

One of my favourite lines from a well-known Japanese manga is the phrase "Mommy, why are you dragging Daddy across the floor like that?" To which the mother's irate response is "because he's an idiot, that's why". Which is a succinct exchange, that even without illustration paints a picture. The story is about a family of vampires. Things go wrong. There are 'issues'.
And there is angst and gothness.

This is all easy to explain in an essay, but when speaking to other people, the necessary background -- especially when it is clear that they lack the framework or references needed to digest that one simple cite -- requires a preamble very much like a history lecture, and it is likely that from their perspective, as they are digesting all of this, I am just pointlessly rambling. Old man talk, and the first signs of goofiness or senility. Grandpa in Southpark, or Statler and Waldorf in the Muppets.
An elderly fart, peeing.

It's worse with younger people.
And the cell-phone crowd.


Manga = An illustrated novel or story, that follows some set patterns, and often uses graphic conventions known and understood by readers. The settings of the tale will be familiar too. For instance, if the characters are teenagers, much of it will take place in a highschool, because those are convenient. Familiar situations, events, and backgrounds, that allow for a larger number of characters to be utilized in a plausible fashion to tell an extraordinary tale. The locker room. The lunch room. The swimming pool. The gym grounds. The school cultural festival, the photography club, the mathematics society, the literary society, the school trip.

The school nurse's office for fainting spells.


My high school did not have a swimming pool. No cultural festival either, the equivalent was the end of year theatrical jamboree.
An Atheneum in Holland.


American high schools have an entirely different "vibe" from what I've heard, and tend to be violent places with over-much drug use and guns.

Holding tanks for suburban pupae. Emphasis on sports, clique formation, random brutality, and the necessary medication to keep dysfunctional juvenile delinquents and young entitled people quiescent.

American post-highschoolers seldom read.


The concept of manga is quite baffling to too many people. Likewise novels, and in the post-newspaper age, comics pages, as something to be enjoyed for the wit or the familiar characters.


There are no vampires in the lives of most Americans. Instead, there are villains who become fifty foot tall men of steel, with rippling muscles and spikes on their backs, who battle super heroes in leotards and skin-tight shiny body suits. Vampires are for girlies.


An acquaintance had never even heard of the movie my neighbor Totoro.
Which I thought was a well-known classic at this point.
I didn't mention other Miyazaki films.
Why bother?



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Sunday, May 26, 2019

IN THEIR EYES YOU ARE NOT THAT FABULOUS

One of my coworkers has discovered snuff, and intends to spend memorial day snorting tobacco powder up his nose and chugging beer. He says it's going to be awesome. When I see him again, two weeks from now, I shall ask whether he's in the middle of a divorce yet. I know some good lawyers. Another one finally finished several weeks of a fidgeting dermal layers off the faces of skin cancer patients (lots of blood), completed her courses, and is now a graduate. To which hearty congratulations. Assisting at excisions and peeling diseased liver spotted parchment was probably the easy part.
Academic work requires brains and fortitude. And determination.

Today was marked by cigars. And pipe tobacco.
And buckets of Pu-Erh tea.

Plus snuff.


Actually, the coworker with the nose wasn't the only one.

Three people discovered nasal snuff, and their lives will never be the same. Unfortunately it was raspberry flavoured snuff, rather than one of the more traditional kinds. So sort of the juvenile delinquent version. Very much like hazelnut low-fat frappuchinos are for spam-brained twenty somethings, lite beer is for lardos and twiggy clothing models, and fruity cocktails are perfect for suburbanite housewives of all genders having a merchandising scheme party, perhaps with a well-endowed gay stripper.


I work with these people. I am a patient man.
Sort of the long-suffering Christian.



I would like some praise, appreciation, and comforting kissies.

All very much deserved at this point.

I've earned it.




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SMELLS NASTY, TASTES WORSE

As a reminder to the pervert classes, here is a complete description of an aromatic pipe tobacco that is incredibly popular. Especially among bearded hipsters, nonconformists, and people with highly individualistic tattoos.

Strictly personal opinions.
Not an advertisement.


MOLTO DOLCE
By Sutliff Tobacco Company

Black Cavendish, Burley, Virginia
Flavouring: Caramel, Vanillin, Honey
Etcetera.

Conceivably lignin-containing waste and petrochemicals.

There is also something disturbingly like coconut macaroon in there, perhaps as a perfume fixative -- it survives longer than anything else if the tin is opened -- as well as enough humectant to pickle a pharaoh.


This blend is moist and oily, sticky to the touch, stains paper. The various tobacco components are drowned out by the added substances, and it never truly dries. Hippy candles, cheap Indian incense bought on Telegraph Avenue, a cloying candy odeur. Intelligent people do well to avoid it.

Juveniles may like this.



When I was fifteen or sixteen, I shifted from aromatics to Latakia blends, years later eventually migrating toward Virginia and Perique mixtures and pressed flake. The pipe tobacco my father smoked in his briars was an old-fashioned American style product, Virginia and Burly with a rather spartan inclusion of condimental leaves. Many Duchmen I knew as a teenager smoked blends based on un-sauced Maryland, later on in Berkeley I encountered quite a few smokers who liked the Orientals.

Most of them would gag if given this.

Sound sensible folks.



The people I know who smoke Molto Dolce are all skeevy, and have other dubious habits. This is just a personal observation, of course, but I live in San Francisco, and I have met an incredible number of sick bastards.
So I know what I am talking about.





TOBACCO INDEX


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Saturday, May 25, 2019

THE LARGEST GOON OF COFFEE

There are several people on my list of "favourite women in Chinatown". Two of them know what I want before we've even gotten past saying 'Hello'.
They're not only clever, but they probably know me too well.

They ask me 杯奶茶先 and 嗰個最大嘅罐咖啡?

Those aren't really questions.

Just confirmation.


Mind you, if I didn't like them, I wouldn't have become a repeat customer.
But they aren't the only ones, and those aren't the only places.
I know next to nothing about either of them.

One of them wears lipstick nicely.


'pui naai cha sin', 'go go jeui taai ge gun gaa fei'


It's not that I am gender-biased here, but there really aren't that many men selling Hong Kong Milk Tea or large jars of coffee. I'm sure if there were, some of my favourite women in Chinatown might be, erm, not women.
Bit of a struggle, that.

One of my favourite people in Chinatown cooks a damned fine pork chop, and is married to one of my favourite women. Unfortunately, the restaurant they run closes before seven o'clock, and on workdays I never get back to the city in time.


The best time in Chinatown is between four o'clock and six, when children and their parents are rushing about buying groceries and snackiepoos, old folks are ambling home from the park, people see each other ...


Unfortunately, well, you know, tourists.

All of us will have the beef chow fun.
Five plates. Same damned thing.
We don't know anything else.

The menu at a restaurant I patronize does not have recognizable white folks Chinese food. This leads to interesting situations.
It's a ring-side seat.
Fun.



Usually, no one tries to eat 西多士 with chopsticks.




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Friday, May 24, 2019

THOUGHTS ABOUT MINT LIQUEUR

Nearly two years ago I found the captain. He was standing by himself in the portico of a place I patronized, forlorn and abandoned, so I took him home.
I do not know who made him, or what of wood he is made. He looks sort of Polynesian, but you know that he's European because there is a scrap of fur glued to his chin. Or he could be an elder. Other than the captain's hat, he's also wearing a lava lava and cowrie shells.
Plus furry ankle bracelets.
He's got character.

Clearly a refugee from a tiki bar. Spam and fruity drinks drove him out.

I've been to tiki bars twice in my life, both times other people's doing.

A wedding shower to which I was invited was at the Tonga Room.

Which is probably the Bay Area's most famous tiki bar.


Having extensive knowledge of many totally degenerate drinks, you would think that I should go more often, and call it research. But my knowledge is mostly academic, because those things only appeal intellectually.
I've taught several people how to make a grasshopper.
Crème de Menthe, Crème de Cacao, cream.
James Bond drank it.

The grasshopper is not a tiki bar cocktail, because it isn't fruity. It's more of a Las Vegas nightclub drink, for listening to Ol' Blue Eyes, Kenny G., and similar sophisticated acts.


Crème de Menthe is the most famous product of the deep south, and goes well as a chaser with almost all Southern Food, I have been told. It is also popular in New York, a very cosmopolitan place.


Here in San Francisco, we prefer Fernet Branca, Jamesons, and McCallan twelve year old.


The captain would likely eschew Fernet Branca.

He looks like he'd be fun to bar-hop with.

A very well behaved gentleman.

No wild excesses.




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Thursday, May 23, 2019

THE PLACE. THAT PLACE. THERE.

My apartment mate channels for stuffed animals and imaginary creatures. Which lets her say things that normally, being shy, anti-social to the point of hiding, and Asperger like you wouldn't believe, is an outlet.
As is highly necessary.

It's a form of communication AND self-expression.
At times, surreally real.

Advice to a little girl hamster who visits while the grown-ups are away:


"If you have to, kick him in the hurty place."


This is wisdom indeed. Almost as good as my doctor, specifically talking about Fluticasone Propionate Nasal Spray USP: "aim for the eyes".
More generally, that's damned good life advice too.

I'm sure if she has to, Clarissa will indeed kick Snidely in the hurty place.
She's been taught to take her care of herself by her grandfather.
And trained by the cat. With other roomies.


There are other times when the utterances in this apartment are not nearly so profound. Both of us happily and monotonously repeating the phrase "money can't buy you class" as if possessed, while I was fixing myself dinner. Look it up. Some cow-roach in New York wrote the song.
That's almost all there is to the lyrics.
It redefines dreadful.

Should've been kicked in her hurty place.

She might've sounded better.

Or sung less.



I think her hurty place is somewhere in the Hamptons.



Always make sure you know where the hurty place is.





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THREE ...

Three back teeth extracted over a decade ago. After discovering that I'm allergic to most antibiotics, and that the vasoconstrictors in anaesthetics cause heart palpitations. Okay. Excellent dentist, quick work, back at the office in forty five minutes drooling out of both sides of my mouth. He had prescribed codeine for when the injections wore off, and instructed me to stay off solid food. That evening I felt a tingling beginning, so I popped a codeine and went to the bar. Whisky is a non-solid, right? Mere moments after ordering, I slid to the floor with tremors and a cold sweat. I remained there for nearly an hour, couldn't move, looking up at my drink and hoping nobody would steal it. Turns out I can't take opiates either ....

So.


Three days later I'm heartily sick of fruit juice and yoghurt. Chicken stock into blender, three jalapeños, three spoonfuls of peanut butter, and three lovely rashers of crisp-fried bacon.
Best soup I ever had.

And, except for one thing, totally vegetarian.




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Wednesday, May 22, 2019

FIFTEEN LOOKS PECULIAR

One of the things that I have always accepted is the inherent visual excitement of numbers. Which, as it turns out, not everyone can quite grasp. Numbers have colour, shape appeal, and an inherent quantifying beauty. Why, for instance, do the combinations 143 and 153 evoke so much? Largely because of the colour combinations: silverish grey, deep raspberry pink, and a bright near-lemon yellow, versus grey, a vibrantly mature forest green, and that yellow.

Plus four (solid, of a solid and modernistic construction) and five (playful, yet elegant). And count: One less than twelve times twelve or six times twenty four, as opposed to noticeably more than three (!) times fifty.

243 and 247 are beautiful also. Seven is a pale but intense blue.

Counting a cash register presents a kaleidoscope.

Fifty is very nice. Sort of symmetrical.


Some are more fixed than others.

It changes over time.


If you have colours for your numbers, they are not the same as mine, and your aesthetic response will be different also. But if you entirely lack those associations, there may be something wrong with your mind. And I have to wonder how your math and spelling are, because nothing looks right.


243. It's beautiful.


Remarkably, even though I read Chinese, these graphic constructs do not possess mental hues. Probably because while I learned counting and the alphabet while still young and malleable, I did not assay ideographs till several years later. Some of them do have iridescent ghosts -- for the most part when they are yanked from a sentence and the outlined emptiness briefly glows -- but largely, no.



Eight and nine.
Pleasing.


741




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AN UNFORGIVING MEAN LITTLE MAN

Over the years I have quarrelled with several people over many things. Probably because I am a disagreeable old grumpus (several people have assured me otherwise, but they're wrong) and I hold strong opinions.
And I am rather pleased with myself for doing so.
Imagine a nasty smile right now.


THEIR MOTHER WAS A HAMSTER ...

Several of them have racist ideas about Arabs, and some of them are so anti-Muslim they shit in their panties whenever Muhammad is mentioned. Which, if you think about it with any nuance, is the exact same thing as any other small-minded bigotry.


Among those, Susan in Jerusalem. Who once lectured me on Jewish matters, which as a gentile I could not possibly grasp, in her opinion.
Stupid cow, why are you still talking to me then?

Sometimes I am far too socially polished.
Should have blown smoke in her face.


As a refresher, detailing my feuding, some links:

THE LONG-SUFFERING CAMELS
In short, screw Netanyahu, Trump, and several others.

CRAZIES ON FACEBOOK
A not-nearly complete list of reprehensible people.

A CHEREM? FOR ME? I FEEL SO HONOURED!
More about that smelly reproductive organ Netanyahu.

JONATHAN POLLARD: IF HE'S YOUR MESSAIAH, YOU HAVE SCREWS LOOSE
A little disquisition on treason.


And, lastly some purple prose. I'm still proud of the creative nicknames disguising the loathsome individuals mentioned.

THEY'RE DOING JUST FINE
A letter about former associates.


I am "neurotic, dysfunctional, and delusional", as well as allegedly "well taught in criticizing Torah from a Christian perspective". In all honesty, flaming dildos like Pamela Geller, Newt Gingrich, and Geert Wilders do not bring out the best in me. I am proud not to have voted for Trump.

Since August 2010, I no longer have coffee in Oakland.


My life is quieter now. Largely I concentrate on good tasting stuff, like food, Hong Kong milk tea, pipe tobacco. Sometimes I say horrid things about republicans with whom I have to associate.

Occasionally I think about otters, raccoons, and crows.

I like kitten pictures on the internet.




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CHICKEN EMPEROR

Arthur and I discussed ways to end undesired conversations quickly. My technique is to start talking intensely about anal probing and space aliens. He simply states that he has diarrhoea, which terminates it almost at once. The bookseller, last night over his hamburger, brought up the phrase "I am going to vomit", which probably has exactly the same effect.
Both of their tactics have a sense of urgency.
Mine is more contemplative.


"Space aliens! Anal probing! I have diarrhoea. 
And I'm going to vomit!"


There's sequentialism, and narrative cohesion, right there. But it is doubtful that anyone wishes to stay to the end and hear more. A pity, because there are any number of directions the discussion could go after that.
Much like a Trumpian tweet.


Every day bots attempt to spam the comments underneath my blogposts. The fastidious apprentice, a scheme of local volunteers, receiving multiple notifications, and several other repetitive themes. Sometimes sent through a translation program and back into English for some real gibberance.
I take pleasure in nixing such things. I wish them anal probes.
And severe bowel distress.


GASTRIC HARMONY

The bookseller and I also talked about food. It's a recurring subject, and fondly dwelt upon. My late lunch yesterday was "white juice chicken emperor rice" (白汁雞皇飯 'baak jap gai wong faan'), by which is meant 'Chicken à la King' over rice. The Hong Kong version lacks the peas and pimiento, as well as Sherry in the cream gravy. Good with hot sauce.
In lieu of 'Baked Portuguese Chicken Rice'.

The last time I had it was ages ago. Cooked by my grandmother.
One of the dishes she did rather well.

The version at the chachanteng didn't resemble hers. But I'll order it again, and indulge in memories.

She would've liked the HK milk tea.

And the ambiance.




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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

HALF BAKED PORTUGUESE COOT

None of my favourite chachanteng in Chinatown do baked Portuguese chicken rice. There is one place to which I used to go, but I haven't been there since the waitress offered to introduce me to a friend of hers looking for a husband. That was three years ago.
I am still scared.

Now, if someone were to approach me and say "walk me home, harmless looking old coot, you have an umbrella and it's raining, I'll give you a cup of hot coffee (or tea) afterwards" or something like that, I might be piqued.
Especially if she also said that the smell of my pipe was nice.
Or at least not problematic.

Today would be a good day for baked Portuguese chicken rice. Last week a merchant mis-guessed that I was Macanese. Flattering, because it says that my accent in Cantonese is neither English (HK) or American (horrendous), but never-the-less considerably off the mark.

I'm not, but some of my tastes are.


Back when baked Portuguese chicken rice was still offered at two other restaurants in my narrow world, I could never finish an entire serving. One of those places no longer exists, and the other has modernized the menu and decor. Which, one hopes, will ensure their continued thriving.
Good people, nice atmosphere, comfortable, tasty food.
But no baked Portuguese chicken rice.



焗葡國雞飯

It's been over half a year. I have withdrawal symptoms. Some things are just too potent a drug for them to become unavailable, their disappearance should lead to riots. But one man rioting would just be a typical San Francisco street loony, and quickly locked up.

Kindly do NOT imagine me screaming in my padded cell.
It will not happen, and it would be quite ineffective.
Baked Portuguese Chicken rice wouldn't result.

'Guk pou gwok gai faan'

I could make it myself. Don't feel like it. Marinate chicken chunks in a little rice wine, soy sauce, ginger, and corn starch. Then brown in a skillet with a chunk or two of fatty sausage. Layer it on top of scallion & egg-fried rice in a casserole, add a little cooked potato, pour a mild coconut curry sauce over, add a sprinkle of grated cheese, and brown it under the broiler. A slight excess of the coconut curry sauce is highly recommended.
Serve with hot sauce on the side.

Something like that.


It's actually a Hong Kong invention. The Macanese had almost nothing to do with it. Mild coconut curry sauce is often called 'Portuguese Sauce' (葡汁 'pou jap'), hence the name.


Whatever I end up having in the middle of the afternoon will be followed by a pipe smoke. I'll have an umbrella with me, in case it rains again.

Winter came back.
It is cold.




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SOME VERY CAPABLE MALE NURSES!

On the BBC webpage there's an article about female experts not being taken seriously, and dealing with the assumption that the actual expert is the male. Which is interesting. And, you'll admit, happens all the time.
Most of us do that, unfortunately.

Years ago, the person who taught me more about tobacco and briar pipes was a woman. And if she is still alive, she still is of that gender.
At the time she was the manager at Drucquer's in Berkeley.

An impressive woman.
With a gorgeous pipe collection.
Plus expertise and sound judgment in many areas.


I will admit that I work best with clever intelligent women, but that may be because the social dynamics are different. For one thing, there is less mention of sports, and significantly less confrontationalism.

That said, for several minutes I was doubtful about the wisdom of doubling the dosage of a medication two months ago when the female doctor recommended it.
I think if my regular physician, a bright young lad of indeterminate age, had suggested it, I probably would have been marginally more open to the idea initially -- a problem being that I had read all about the possible side effects, and I retain disturbing minutiae -- but I accepted her advice.
Roll idea over in brain, she's a doctor, well okay then.
I have since then not felt physically better.

When I see her again I will apologize.


Years of experience in offices convinces me that women are more capable at paperwork, especially accounting-related matters, than men. And that a Marketing or Sales department with nothing but men will be incompetent, full of hot air, and play golf.

That, too, may be subconscious sexism.
It could be just bitter experience.

Or a half-assed bias.




And I should mention that I am keenly aware that one of the nurses down at the hospital whom I see most often is an attractive petite woman.
If she were male, that would be unlikely.




I am a flawed individual.




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