Monday, December 31, 2007


I'm being lazy today. I don't feel like writing anything original. But I crave your continued attention. So, just in case y'all didn't get enough Azumanga Daioh in the last post, here's more.

At the pool (dry and brittle).
[Lawzy, Kimura-sensei is a creep.]

For the benefit of a commenter on a previous post, here's a small selection that really captures the personality of Kasuga Ayumu (Osaka-san), a transfer student who is a bit dreamy.

Osaka-san gets hiccoughs. Persistent.

Osaka-san at a crosswalk.

Osaka-san selling stuffed animals during the school-fair.

And this is a classic:
Miss Kurosawa (Nyamo-san) drinks sake, and explains stuff that isn't, strictly speaking, in the PhysEd programme (don't worry, it's totally clean).

I think I'll spend most of tomorrow reading manga, and eating treif.
Happy new year, y'all.



The opening credits, and a very nice giddy opening theme song:



Lu, La lu, La lu,
Piano wa sekai no yumesaku nohara ni melody;
Kowareta tokei wo shinjite, jikan wa dare no mikata?
Lu, La lu, La lu,
The piano plays a song in the field of blooming dreams;
Believe the broken clock, who's side will time be on?

Doushite konna ni watashi no mune yasashii dareka wo matteruno?
Oshiete sutekina mirai,
Moonlight,moonlight sleeping!
Why does my heart wait so much for that tender-hearted someone?
Tell me my wonderful future,
Moonlight,moonlight sleeping!

Lu, La lu, La lu,
Omoide ringo ni mezame no shoujo ga kiss shite,
Setsunaku hirogeta hon niwa futari no bell ga naruyo.

Lu, la lu la, lu la
The waking maiden will kiss the apple of memory, and
In the book opened with sorrow and hope, the bell meant for both of us will

Dakishimetaikara itoshiihito,
Mou nakanaidene,
Good bye sadness,
Fushigina tobira no moji wa 'Soramimi keiku'.
Because I want to embrace my dear one,
Don't cry any longer,
Good bye sadness,
The words on the mysterious door read 'fancy hearing cake'.

Youkoso kiminiwa,
Ai no mahou nano,
Love's all way!
Mainichi fuwafuwa komugi no yuuwaku
Welcome to you,
Fairyland! It's love's magic
Love's all way!
Every day, the fluffy temptations of wheat.

Cake for you!
Tabetene konya wa,
Tea for you! seiza no ochakai,
Mado ni tenshi no chorus
Kiminiwa soramimi 'sukidayo, sukidayo no koe'?
Cake for you! Please eat tonight!
Tea for you! A tea-party in the stars,
The chorus of fairies at your window, did you just imagine hearing
That voice saying "I love you, I love you"?

Lu, La lu, La lu,
Piano ni sekai wa yumemiru chiisana melody,
Yubikara inori no waltz ga afureteii kimochine.
Lu, La lu, La lu,
The piano plays the world a tiny melody of dreaming,
A waltz of prayer overflows from the fingers and it feels nice.

Itsudemo sunaona watashi no mune shizuka ni nemuri no aisatsu,
Himitsu no onegai dakara,
Holly, Holly whisper.
My heart is ever true, quietly welcoming sleep,
It is the secret wish,
Holly, Holly whisper.

Lu, La lu, La lu,
dokodemo danro wa mikkagetten kara oriruhimo
Kogoeru tabibito no kokoro tokashite,
Hug shiteruyo.
Lu, La lu, La lu,
Everywhere the fires, even when the crescent moon sinks from the
Hug the chilled traveller's heart.

Kireina kuuki ni hikari no michi mayowasu arukeba,
Welcome pleasure,
Hitomi ni ukanda moji wa 'Soramimi no keiku'.
A bright path in the fresh air, if I walk along steadily,
Welcome pleasure,
The words before my eyes say 'fancy hearing cake'.

Youkoso kiminiwa,
Koi no yorokobi wo,
Love's all way!
Mainichi wakuwaku komugi no bouken.
Welcome to you
The pleasure of affection,
Love's all way!
Every day these exciting adventures in wheat.

Cake for you!
Chiisana shiawase
Tea for you!
Daisukina egao de,
Mado ni tenshi no chorus
Kiminiwa soramimi 'sukidayo sukidayo no koe'?
Cake for you! A little happiness,
Tea for you! With a huge smile,
The chorus of angels at your window, did you just imagine hearing
That voice saying "I love you, I love you"


Ending theme: Raspberry heaven


The test-market short for Azumanga Daioh:

Note that this short was intended to see if there was a large enough audience to release it on the internet - there turned out to be enough demand to release it as a full series on television. It is now available in a five cd set - subtitled and dubbed versions.

Friday, December 28, 2007


At least, that's what I'm telling myself.

I posted something two days ago, right after critchmutch, which no longer seems to be on my blog. Can't find it anywhere
[I knew it was on there, because one of my co-workers read it and told my I was nuts.]

It was one of my best posts ever. Trust me, it was brilliant. Truly brilliant. You are so sad that you missed it. You are utterly heartbroken. And I don't blame you. It was that good.
But castigate blogger - they're the ones who took it down. Either accidentally, or because some of my incisive comments about the holiday offended them.

Maybe it was the links I posted. Who knows.

I had, in the context of explaining the nearly-non-observance of critchmutch at my house, provided some clickable links to Japanese cartoons. None of which dealt with critchmutch. In any way whatsoever.

One of them was this:

It shows the best moments for Kimura-san in the Anime of Azumanga Daioh - a sweet, charming, and very humorous look at Japanese Highschool life, focusing mainly on six main characters, but including several subsidiary characters as well - one of whom is a man who should NOT be teaching teenage girls: Kimura-san.

Pervy describes him rather well.

Quite well.

That's putting it mildly.

Do not send the video-link to your Snuggle-Bunny on Valentine's Day.

Unless, of course, your S.B. is like the person starring in this clip:

If that is the case, I want to hear more about your life. And so do my readers. Please comment at length underneath this posting. Details, please. We're much more than curious.

Thank you.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Note: the following is a post which disappeared. Or so it seemed. Lets just say I put it in the wrong place. And feel somewhat foolish in consequence - not an unusual state of mind, I'm afraid. I re-discovered it by falling into the wrong hole. So I'm 'reposting' it here, with the original date, so that it is in the correct sequence.
------B.O.T.H. 01/10/2008


Yesterday, in case you weren't aware, was kretchmutch. So around the Toad and Savage Kitten household, life was calm and peaceful.

Instead of singing insipid carols, stuffing our gobs with sugary goodies, endlessly chewing dry bits of the stupidest bird in the world, and frantically hugging ugly relatives we see only once a year, or watching THE WORST TELEVISION PROGRAMMING EVER ...
[ ... have you SEEN the selection of "Christmas Movies" that are shown ad-nauseum? Lawz-sakes, enough to turn any one into a Christian-hating Christmas-bashing Church-burning Crèche-overturning violent pinko revolutionary - they really ought to tone done their shmaltz and saccharine broadcast-vomit, if only to keep civilized people from wanting to see every single broad-cast executive lynched........ ]

But I digress.

So anyhow, instead of indulging in practices appropriate to a Wasp-trailer park at this festive time, the Toad and the Savage Kitten read all day.

Finished the entire collection of Azu Manga Daioh.
[Azu Manga Daioh: It's a Japanese comic strip focusing on the lives of six Japanese high-school girls. Very funny, and quite charming.]

One of the characters at the fictional high-school which all the main characters attend is Ayumu Kasuga (春日歩, Kasuga Ayumu), about whom you would do well to read up in Wikipedia, if only for the absolute gibberish that some non-English-speaking gormling pasted into the biography of the character.

It's worth quoting in full (especially as it may get corrected really soon, and then you wouldn't know what I non-sequitoured into).

"She's back in when nerds collide She discover the talking cat that was killed by flippy so he told osaka that the do not speak man henry hale is controling david chadwick's hearing in the voice of tom spango osaka finds the suitcase of this plane but the breafcase knocks osaka down chyio-chion found it osaka meets chiyo-chion from azumanga daioh she takes chingy's car and drives they come in the vilage by the real don't no not or Nothing fear They've got captured they decided their fate Henry sherrif hale (Bill Pullman) Rule that osaka and chiyo stay but they may never leave but suddenly mayaa bites off henry's neck mayaa joins osaka and chyio so they all escape the village they have been takend by the tripods."


It's sorta zen, isn't it? By which I mean baffling as all git-out. Can someone please explain it? Thanks.

For a good introduction to both the characters, and insane Japanese teeny-bopper girlie-band music, watch the opening credits to the anime here:
[Pay attention to the lyrics - they make especially little sense: "Every day, the fluffy temptation of wheat".]

Here's Osaka-san in the best 'girl with a cleaver' scene ever:
[Osaka-san is given to periods of not being fully awake. She sleeps in class a lot - her dreams are often a basis for the humour of the show.]

And regarding everybody's favourite perverted high-school teacher, this compilation of the best of Kimura Sensei:
["Why did you become a teacher?" ... "Cuz I like high-school girls and stuff!!!!!"]

In addition to Azumanga Daioh, Savage Kitten also read some novella about a disastrous marriage - one of the characters tells another that as far as divorce and adultery are concerned, there's a 'get-out-of-jail-free card' somewhere in Mathew. Savage Kitten asked me about that, and if I ever find my copy of the New Testament, she's welcome to read all of it to find where and if it mentions that subject. I cannot remember Mathew saying anything about it, but it's been quite a while since I delved into the Christian Subsequentia.

One of my friends had what was probably the perfect Christmas Eve. He attended midnight mass at Notre Dame Des Victoires (the French eglise near Chinatown). Not because he's religious, or wanted to feed the side of his personality that yearns for meaning especially at Christmas time. His reason was much more understandable and prosaic.

In one word: French school girls wearing uniforms

Friday, December 21, 2007


San Francisco,
December 21, 2007

Dear Europeans,

Please give us back the Marshall Plan funds, and repay us for our involvement in two world wars.

Judging by your recent writings in your own various languages and in ours, we did not do much, y'all would have gotten along fine without us, and many of you have no problem with the concept of speaking German or Russian (plus you keep reminding us that we aren't very good at learning foreign languages, whereas you lot do it as automatically as picking up a case of the clap - that must be why you have so many of them).

I have also been told that the liberation of Europe in WWII was entirely due to the Canadians, English, Anzacs, Free French, Czechs and Poles. Our contribution was apparently minimal, we merely "helped" a bit. And we were glad to do so - we share a language with a number of the Allies, and their most enterprising and intelligent people regularly immigrate, which is of great benefit to us, as we do not seem to have any universities of our own, nor the wit to make such institutions necessary.
We have our doubts about the Free French, however; they seem to have disappeared - did they NOT win the war?

As for the Poles and Czechs, well, I guess that was icing on the cake. Good sausage and good beer. Heaven knows we wouldn't have had either of those things without them. But as for Western Europe, y'all are nearly unanimous, and we can only agree, that we have nothing in common with you lot. It's pointless to pretend we do, and we also had nothing to do with your post-war successes. We were just lucky to jump on the Allied bandwagon when the war was nearly won.

So, given our very minimal involvement, you will understand that your repaying us will be no problem whatsoever. Just give us back the money, and we promise we'll stay out of your affairs forever.

Regards, and Merry Christmas,
On behalf of my fellow Yanks,

--------- B.O.T.H

PS. In order to facilitate the transfer of funds, please enter your credit card data as a comment. Be sure to spell your name, as I could not possibly pronounce it. Remember, I'm nearly illiterate, and all those foreign names look alike.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


In lieu of a regular posting, here's a vort from the RABAM that sort-of refs sh'kiya.

"Shacharis is to morning as Mincha is to afternoon (before sundown, as the Tana Kama says, but Rabbi Yehuda holds farkert, shperring that it may only be until plag Mincha – a twelfth, and a quarter of a twelfth, of the duration between dawn and dusk, before dark, being a halachic hour and a quarter before the end of the day), and Maireev is to evening. These are the three daily opportunities to speak with your maker.

Often, in the shuls to which we do not go, Mincha and Mairev are combined. We feel that this is in conflict with Shabbes candle lighting times (which are before sunset), and in any case a contradictory convenience.

One can only take d’avad k’mar avad, u d’avad k’mar avad (acting according to one opinion is to act right, and to act according to the other opinion is also acting right) so far before it becomes self-serving. First Mairev, then Shacharis, then Mincha – you dig?

And don't forget to bentsh licht; siz a mitve, veist."

Well now, I'm glad that's been cleared up, aren't you?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


There are two names which, to Dutch survivors of the Japanese occupation of the Indies, are bywords for cruelty and perversion: Ambarawa and Tjideng. The first is a minor town in Central Java, I believe, and the second was a neighborhood in Batavia. Both were where the Japanese interned women and children.

The men were sent to work on the railway at Pakan Bahru in Sumatra, or shipped to Burma and Japan.

Initially, teenage boys were also interned in the "Women's Camps", but as the war went on, more and more of them were pulled out and used as slave-labour by the Japanese, until by the end of the war there weren't even any boys older than nine or ten in the camps.

At Ambarawa, the Japs at one point forced a number of prisoners to become comfort women - the youngest was only fourteen years old.

At Tjideng, in Batavia, the camp area kept getting shrunk, and the number of internees, despite a high mortality rate, kept growing, as the Japanese packed more and more people into the kamp. When the Japanese finally surrendered there were up to twenty women per room - by the end of the war Tjideng contained over ten thousand prisoners.

Both in Ambarawa and Tjideng there were the usual diseases that accompany crowded unsanitary conditions and starvation, plus physical abuse and sadism from the guards. A huge number of internees did not survive the war.
Nothing unusual there.

But Tjideng had one additional horror. A camp commandant who was a wherewolf.

Captain Kenichi Sonei, who considered himself a civilized and cultured man, was a maniac during full moons, and outdid himself in cruelty and perversion on those nights. Under normal circumstances an exceptionally brutal and sadistic man who delighted in the humiliation and torture of his victims, at full moon he went entirely overboard. Everybody describes him as being an absolute madman at that time.

After the war Captain Sonei was tried for war-crimes and executed by firing squad. The number of people who could testify to his bestial nature was so overwhelming that nothing could save him. Even his own men admitted being frightened of him, describing him as a psychopath and a monster.

Many of the Dutch who were interned by the Japanese still particularly loathe everything having to do with Japan. And quite a few of the women, because of Captain Sonei, have mixed feelings about moonlight.

It is probably a good thing that the Netherlands is so often cloudy and overcast.


I cannot remember any full moons while growing up..... although I'm sure they are not unknown there. It must simply be a gap in my memory.
I was trying to remember last night what full moon nights were like in Valkenswaard, but I cannot picture it in my mind. The different types of streetlights, no problem - clear images, detailed even to the nature of shadows and their boundaries from those lights. But no moon.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


This is a post about whaddyacallsits, you know, umm, names. Yes that's it, names.

When I lived in the Netherlands, my nickname in school was 'Bamie Bal'. This was a result of having a name which the other kids in school had never heard before, and which they found odd, foreign, and unnatural to pronounce.
An Aramaic name out of scripture is indeed odd, foreign, and unnatural, I guess.

[Unlike such names as Peter, Paul, Mathew, Mark, Luke, John..... Mary, Magdalene, Daniel, David, Efraim, Josef ..... Yep, those are all real natural and native. Yes.]

A bamie bal is a fried noodle dumpling. Bamie (bak-mi) is meat (bak) and noodles (mi) cooked with chives, chilies, and a touch of sweet soy sauce. It is a tasty Hokkien Chinese dish much popular in Indonesia. Unlike names from Aramaic, the term 'bamie' is standard Dutch. Go figger. The Bamie Bal takes the meat-noodle concept, clumps it into a ball, breads it and deep-fries it, and serves it crispy-crunchy-crusty filled with greasy goodness. It is available in several variations from every frituur, and inedible in every iteration.

[I might as well also mention that my nickname in SF China Town for many years was 'Dow Sa Ping' - the name of a flaky flat bun filled with sweet bean paste. Far less greasy than Dutch fast-food, though. So a considerable improvement. America been veddy veddy good to me.]

I was quite lucky. One of my classmates was Lettie (Leticia). Which naturally first became Letje (little Letty - the je/sje/tje postfix is a diminutive), and then became 'sletje' (little slut). Her school years in Valkenswaard may have been less than pleasant. Just a guess.
When she was accepted at university she left and never looked back.

I shan't even mention that everybody who lived on the tail-end of Kerkweg (formerly known as Stink Pad - stinky path) inevitably became Stinkwyf (stinking bitch), Stink hoer (stinking whore), Stink varken (stinking pig), Stink lul (stinking penis), or Stink gat (stinking arsehole). Except for Stalen Jesus (steel Jayzus) and his wife - who had no name.

From this it should be apparent that names are not inviolate, and in the Netherlands at least, nicknames are frequently unpleasant.

[Attention! This is an understatement. It is meant both diplomatically and ironically.]

Two of my friends, in consequence, dared not go by the names that they were called at home.

Truus was called Toet (pronounced 'toot) at home - it can be short for either 'patoet' (patoot - right, proper, fitting) or 'kentoet' (k'ntoot - fart). Both terms are Indonesian.
Had her classmates known of the second meaning, you can imagine how thoroughly abrasive they would have been.

Koei-Eng went by the name Katerina (Katja for short). Her real name was lovely..... In Chinese. In Chinese it means Cassia Fragrance/Perfume (桂 香).
In Dutch, unfortunately, it means bovine creepiness.

[I do not remember her as being a disconcerting cow, but rather as a very nice bright girl who lived in Eindhoven, the oldest of two sisters in a brood of five kids (her little sister was Cassia Perfume/Fragrance - 桂 芬). The dad was a severely Dutch gentleman of Chinese extraction, who had been an engineer in the Indies, a graduate of the Technische Hooge School in Bandoeng, which is now the Institut Teknologi Bandung.]

Not all kids have nicknames - there is not much malformation that can be done on Kees, Koos, Gerrit, Guus, Jan, Peer, etcetera.

Lucky bastards.

I have always been a little resentful of Appie, Bas, Baps, Bertje, Bop, Himpie, Jonk, Pim, and Triks for having normal names. Not that I wanted to change mine. Rather, I wanted them to suffer the nicks a bit too. Or a lot.

Monday, December 17, 2007


Yep, that's what someone said to me this evening.
How..... friggin'..... dare he!

To understand why that particularly got my goat, there are three things that you must know. All three add up to a composite that is toxic in combination with the phrase "go back where you came from".

1. I've heard that phrase far too many times. Usually it is uttered by some moron who takes offense at the way I speak English, and assumes that I "don't belong here". I have been back in the US for nearly thirty years, but I still have an accent. We went to the Netherlands when I was two, I lived there till I returned as an adult in 1978. Yep, I talk funny. Deal with it.

2. My father's family have been in the US for nearly four centuries, my mother's family have been here for slightly over three centuries. My bloodline has been here since the time of Peter Minuit - heck, my ancestor sold him ale! So, 'back where I came from' is right here.
While living in the Netherlands I was always told to go back where I came from - and I have indeed done so. What's the F*^^&%G problem?

3. I was told to go back where I came from by an anti-Israel demonstrant.
The phrase, in addition to being offensively bigoted, racist, and stupid in every possible context, also has connotations that are particularly insulting when said during a pro-Israel manifestation by someone who is anti-Israel. Arabs have yelled it across the street at us outside the consulate, neo-Nazis have shouted it at us during protests, and the Stalinists have mouthed it contemptuously during "peace-marches". Dumbass rednecks think it, and along with "ah dinnut do it, offsar", it is the most complete sentence of which they are capable,

We are all were we belong. Punkt.

I gave the harrumphacker who said it an earfull. The police asked him to back off. A minor victory.

Had the police not been so very close, he would not have gotten an earfull. He would've gotten a bloody ear. He got my goat - and I want it back.

I'm still steaming. Dammit, I want to punch someone.

Friday, December 14, 2007


Back in the nineteen-eighties I was working on a project with a tight deadline, along with about a hundred and fifty other people. Most of them engineers.
The deadline was the end of October, only seven weeks away. So almost all of us were working twelve hour days, six or seven days a week. Some even more.

September and October of that year had some of the hottest weather San Francisco ever experienced. Nothing but ninety-plus degrees. Which would have been lovely, except that we were at the top of a building, that, like many tall buildings erected before the war, had not been designed with effective ventilation and air-conditioning in mind. The top two floors had not been modernized..... and had NO AIR-CONDITIONING.

What it did have was one hundred and fifty people (most of them engineers) with no time for laundry. In sauna-like conditions.

I am sure you can imagine the problem.

See, if you do not have time for laundry, you do not have time to relax either. No time to vent, to relieve your stress, to scream and shout. No time for your mind to engage in the deconstruction process so necessary for mental equilibrium. No time to decompose.
Whiskey only goes so far to rectify that problem.
[Most real engineers drink whiskey, I do not know why. Software engineers are not real engineers and many of them do not drink whiskey. They drink foofy drinks or flavoured vodka instead. Which just goes to show that they aren't real engineers.]

By the third week, some of the conversations were not entirely reality-based.
I get along fine with people who are not grounded in reality. Like cats and dogs and disturbed infants, they like me - or at least come over to have their furry little ego stroked. This is unnerving and problematic when strangers do it on the street, but when it happens sixteen floors up, with sweaty engineers, it is healthy.

Someone, I do not remember his name, speculated about the possibility that there were people out there whose organs of reproduction were at a ninety degree angle from the norm. I do not know how or why that subject came up. I doubt that it had anything to do with the unprintable joke (from Penthouse magazine) I may have told about the Martian woman who had a button at both ends of her unmentionable, and no, I certainly do not remember the joke, so please do not ask. But it was very funny, and well worth telling.

Anyhow, I denied the likelihood of such an occurrence. It is completely out of the question, and if you remember your high-school biology classes (development of the young from egg to eruption), you will understand why it is well-nigh impossible.

Before I knew it, I had made a bet - "find me a medically documented case of a woman whose dotdotdot is horizontally aligned (button, vestigial or otherwise, at BOTH ends, please), and I will pay you one hundred dollars. This bet is open to everyone, all you have to do to is put in ten dollars to compete".

News of this wager got around, and I had to explain it regularly to people who had just heard about it for the next week. I was not kind, and did not easily tolerate their naiveté. And my know-it-all arrogance just begged to be taken down a notch. I sneered at their lack of knowledge, their innocent gullibility, their vain assertion that surely all things were possible. Fools! Did they not know about cell-division?

For the next several weeks, one hundred and fifty people (most of them engineers), spent all of their spare time reading about groin. They even pulled friends and neighbors into the pursuit.

There's probably a name for people who obsessively read about genitalia.

And I can well imagine the effect of that hobby on their families.

We got the project done by the deadline. When it was all over, most of the one hundred and fifty probably STILL had thoughts only for.... you know, that thing. Fevered imaginations pondering the mechanics of a ninety degree rotation of......... that thing. Minds filled with...... that thing. Fragile little engineering brainy-wainies, all a-fever with a certain image...... Fantasies of.....
Wrong way, too.

One hundred and fifty people (most of them engineers) single-mindedly thinking about dotdotdot is probably the closest I have ever come to group-sex.
It was good for me, though. I know I enjoyed it.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


I have added two new labels to the blog:

An explanation of what these terms mean is perhaps necessary.

INDO refers to expatriates of either Indonesian or Dutch ancestry whose past is connected to the former Dutch East-Indies, and by extension their descendants - usually people now living in the Netherlands or the English-speaking world, who identify themselves as Dutch. Politically they are (were) indeed Dutch. But their home-culture, language, and social norms are partly influenced by something other. Often among themselves they speak Dutch or English with a number of Indonesian words mixed in, sometimes also words from some of the Southern Chinese languages that were common in commercial centres of the Indies, and sometimes terms peculiar to the colonial environment which their parents or grandparents experienced. Many of them also speak at least some Indonesian or Malay, or other Indies regional languages such as Sundanese, Djowo, Ambon-Malay, etcetera.

In the Netherlands, Indos range from glow-in-the-dark Caucasian to golden Indonesian and Chinese types. All are Dutch. But yet, not.
Their foods are more exciting, their social life is more vibrant, and their sense of humour is more playful than that of the 'Dutch' Dutch.

TAMARAO & TEMPO DULO; Tempo doeloe ("time before", pronounced 'tempoh doo-loo') means the olden days, the gilded past. In Dutch the term almost always refers to the East-Indies when the Dutch were still there, which is a more limited definition than the term really has. Obviously, for Indos it must mean that time, that place. That is what they remember. But their children and grandchildren never saw pre-war Indonesia. For them Tempo Doeloe is a distant and half-imaginary golden age, the stuff that old people talk about.

I use it here to label not only posts that in some way refer to the Indonesia my friends' parents knew, but also to the pleasant company of Indos in the Netherlands when I lived there (1962 - 1978), and especially to the Indos I knew in Valkenswaard - my own tempo doeloe.

Tamarao refers to a language once spoken in Eastern Indonesia, up near the sea-lanes that connect to Mindanao and Sangihe. It may still be spoken there. It was a private language for some of us, and as such a good way to reformulate the world. As many private languages are.


Some other significant labels in this blog are DUTCH, FOOD, RECIPES, and STUFFED ARMADILLO. These are all self-explanatory. Have fun clicking.


One month ago I created a new tobacco blend.
[Mentioned here:]
It is the most dangerous thing I have ever done.

The blend is closer to the tobacco which I smoked for the last few years that I lived in Valkenswaard than anything else. I have not smoked anything precisely like it in over a quarter of a century. The memories associated with the smell and the taste are therefore pristine and compartmentalized, and in consequence things I had nearly forgotten about have resurfaced. In startling intensity. Specific aromas can do that.

For instance, I again have on my tongue the taste of the Trappist beer we drank at an establishment out in the countryside (I want to think at the Venberghsche Molen, but I am not entirely sure about that) when Professor Charleson was last in town (1977). I gibbered about Rudyard Kipling while we walked back. I may have said something intelligent, but I doubt it. My father and Prof Charleson did not challenge any of my statements, though.

I also remember the progression from reading Pieter DeVries' "Comfort Me With Apples" to discovering the Shir HaShirim (The Song of Songs, Which is Solomon's) from whence the title of DeVries' book is taken.

The Song of Songs is almost certainly not suitable for a teenage male, especially at a time of hormonal "angst". It was a revelation of astounding proportions for a fifteen year old boy.

"Achot lanu ketana veshadayim ein la ma-na'ase la'achoteinu bayom sheidubar ba?"
['We have a little sister and she hath no breasts, what shall we do for our sister in the day when she shall be spoken for?']


The ecstacy inducing descriptions of the young female protagonist in the Song of Songs in some parts reminded me of Kitti H., and in other parts seemed to describe both Suzanne and Muni. Heck, the entire Song of Songs suggested pretty much every young lady in my circle - I did mention that it was a time of hormonal "angst", did I not?

Many of the memories that have flooded back in the four weeks since I compounded the blend are remarkable in the level of detail. Compound memories of people, places, times, and textures.

Suzanne's mother made wonderful kwee kwee (Indonesian "cakes" - puddings and pastries, some savoury, some sweet) and nasi tjampor (mixed rice - cooked rice with savoury additions). When Muni helped her, the lumpiya (tiny imperial rolls) were exquisite - Muni had such deft fingers.

Suzanne and Henri's grandmother came down from 'sHertogenbosch for a party one day in summer, and we ate lumpiya, kwee kwee, saté (small skewers of spicy grilled meat), manok maengguri (coconut chicken stew), mie manok (chicken noodles) and saoto pangsit (rich soup with wontons) at night in the garden, twenty or thirty of us. Various sayog-sayog (vegetable dishes) for crunch, and sweet cool drinks.

I believe I spent the entire evening discovering how peripheral vision is perfect for teenage-girl watching...... They were absolutely lovely then, crisp white blouses, skirts cinched tight around their small small waists, neat little shoes. Very ladylike. Kitti, Muni, and Suzanne were, in my eyes, about as graceful and winsome as young ladies could possibly be.
Pristinely innocent, yet deliciously delicious.

I sat in the back, so that my pipe would not bother anyone. The girls were between me and the light. As were all the other non-smokers, but I wasn't watching them.......


NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.


A few months ago I mentioned on a mailing list to which I belong that I doubted I would ever visit the Netherlands again - the level of hatred for Americans, the loathing for everything associated with America, and the utter disgust with American politics, that started in the sixties and seemed to get worse with each decade (and now seems to double every year) simply precludes any idea of visiting the old bog. I have no need to hear for the umpteenth time from some callow teenager about how I'm damned in his narrow-minded little world view, nor do I desire a disquisition on the decadence and perversity of my people.

Yes, I speak fluent Dutch, and can cruise into the place without advertising my background to one and all.

The question is, why would I want to?

The same anonymity that allows me to pass for Dutch unless I betray myself is so much easier if I never even go back. There, Dutch people will assume I'm Dutch - until I say something rabidly non-Dutch. Here, if there are any Dutch people about, they will not assume that anyone around them speaks Dutch - until I say something in Dutch.

I actually prefer the anonymity of being a Dutch-speaker in the United States, to being an American trying to be as unnoticeable as possible in Europe.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


If you do not understand the title of this post, be patient. It will become clear.


A number of the more linguistically diverse people in the town where I lived when I was in the Netherlands had their roots in Indonesia, when it was still the Dutch East-Indies. Growing up I was often more comfortable with former Indonesians than the actual native speakers of English - there was so much about England or America with which I was entirely unfamiliar that I often felt handicapped among people who had experienced the places first hand, like my parents and their friends and relatives, or my father's colleagues and their families. And while the Dutch who could speak English still had all their reference points in Dutch, the Indos were more open and more flexible about otherness and elsewhereness, and their company was more vibrant (their food was much more exiting, too).
That they were there, at that time, was a blessing. It is one of the things that I miss most, intensely.

[Indos: Indies Dutch, now primarily living in the Netherlands and California, but there are also many in Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and elsewhere. Most of them had been 'repatriated' to the Netherlands after the Indies became independent. Which was a new experience for them - many of them had never been to the ancestral sod, and for a number it was 'ancestral' only in a very vague sense, due to their having members of the family tree who were not Dutch, or the clan having been several generations in the East. When all your life you have lived in the tropics, the climate of Holland can be beastly. Especially if in cramped quarters, with little heat in winter. It was quite a shock. After giving life in Northern Europe the old college try, thousands eventually emigrated to the United States.]


During my high-school years I would occasionally drop by a family that had come from the Indies. Ostensibly to talk to my friend Henri, but a large part of the pleasure of his company was actually his younger sister Suzanne, a sparkling girl with dark eyes, thick chestnut hair down past her shoulders, and skin of a pale pale hue, paler than langsep.
She was wonderful to look at.

Suzanne's constant companion was Muni, who was much picked-on at the high-school, and of whom Suzanne and her family were very fond and warmly protective. People often thought Suzanne and Muni were sisters, though Muni clearly had no Indies blood - pale brown hair, white skin, lips the colour of strawberry ice-cream. She was a small bright girl who seldom spoke, and blushed a lot. The only way to get her to talk was to ask her to explain something - if you asked her a yes or no answer, that was precisely what you got - a yes or no answer.

"Nice weather, isn't it?" And after a slight delay she would respond in a tiny voice, "y-yes, sir". "Did you bicycle over here from the high-school?" Pause..... "nuh, nuh, n-no, sir".
"You mean you WALKED all the way over?" Pause..... "yuh, yuh, y-yes, sir".
"For heavensakes, why?" Long pause..... "my tuh, tuh, t-tires were slashed again, sir".
Then she would blush and look down.

Muni and Suzanne would do their homework together at the dining room table every afternoon, where Henri and I would sometimes join them. Trying to involve Muni in the conversation would inevitably make her stumble over words and look down, unless we asked her to explain a passage in a textbook. She knew the material by heart, being actually quite brilliant, and very much a constant reader. Even Henri, who was three years ahead of her in school, would ask her for help.

She blushed horribly when Henri asked her questions - and she was extremely pretty during those moments.
Henri would often keep her talking as much as possible... probably precisely because of that blushing.

When she went home around dinner time Henri would see her off down the street, to keep the local boys from harassing her. Henri was about five foot ten or eleven (taller than me), Muni was probably not even five feet tall at that time, and just the right height that one would notice that her hair smelled faintly like chocolate. Given the height difference between them, seeing Henri and Muni walking side by side was funny - they looked incredibly sweet together. Cute, even.

One day when Henri had not returned home in time, Suzanne asked me to walk Muni to her house - "Ayo Ambang, kun jij Amei niet even tot thuis meelopen, de straten zijn haar niet veilig, djadangdang, ei" ('hey brother, can't you escort sis home, the streets are not safe for her, the local yobbos dontcha know').

Of course, no problem, it's on my way.

I tried to talk to Muni as we walked, but she simply looked down silently. When I pointed out how beautiful the autumn leaves were, she coloured but said nothing. Only when we were at her door did she look up at me and say "toch mooi, mas bugao ite" ('yes beautiful, gold-gold indeed').
Her face went crimson, she turned, and was gone.



I recalled that incident while rereading an old letter from one of the other Indos. In 1982, Kitti H. reminded me of autumn in Valkenswaard.

"Muntong taon, daon-daon sa luyang-laying tumpo ka paya, warna djadi idjo ka ura tan ambera, ate sayang pa are lalo tan bustan mati. Merotama itui, djale djale ri len tan gang na kuta-mi, lite puok sehi garit-djiri nente langit, denger kwikwi na bugong djae ka suwatan. Kasantian muni ite".
['At the end of the year the leaves gracefully flutter down, the colours go from green to crimson and fire-hue; there is a sense of sadness for bygone days and moribund gardens. But it is utterly enjoyable to stroll through the streets and alley-ways of our town, seeing trees like finger-scratches against the sky, hearing cries of birds heading south. Pure peacefulness, indeed.']

When I sleep I sometimes return to Valkenswaard in autumn, when the leaves are ura, ambera, tan mas-bugao.



In addition to Dutch, most Indos and many ex-colonials spoke either a version of Indonesian, or a petjoh - a region-specific creole with much slang and many Dutch or Chinese borrowings, based on Indonesian regional languages or dialects. Others, especially those who were not residents of Java or Sumatra, spoke diverse Indonesian languages, often variants of Malay. This was largely a matter of environment, and in some cases went back generations. For some it was also a matter of ancestry. Even today, in the home and socially, non-Dutch words and phrases crop up, despite there being so few people still alive who experienced the pre-war East-Indies firsthand. Some things just sound better that way, and among those of the same background it expresses things more appropriately than is possible in unadulterated Dutch.

[The non-Dutch terms above are not standard Indonesian or Malay, but are sometimes very close. Standard Indonesian terms are the most common imports into daily speech among Indos. Before the war, Henri and Suzanne's parents, like a number of other Indos in the general area, had grown-up on the east-coast of Borneo, where the Dutch were pumping oil. Many different languages are spoken in Borneo.]

For the benefit of diqduqgeeks and the truly curious, the non-Dutch terms are explained below in the order in which they cropped up.

Langsep = Langsat (lansium domesticum); fruit resembling the longan (dimocarpus longan), having a pale yellow or ivory skin. Kuwit langsep (kulit langsat - langsat skin) is the most desirable skin-hue for young ladies, being neither as unhealthily white as a totok (purebred Dutchman), nor as dark as the lang tana (orang tani - man of the land). Girls with kuwit langsep can be absolutely stunning, especially if they have nice hair.
Muni = pure, unsullied; jewel, bijou. Derived from Sanskrit 'murni'.
Ayo = Hey, oh, errrm (interjection).
Ambang = Older brother (Indonesian: Abang), also term for a male friend who is of the same generation as oneself but older. In most Indonesian languages, as in many other Asian languages, terms of reference for relatives are hierarchical and indicate relative age ranking. In Suzanne and Henri's family, the relevant terms were ambang (older brother), aka' (kakak: older sister), adi' (adik: younger brother), amei (younger sister), and aling (little one; the youngest of the litter). Because of our age difference, Suzanne addressed me as ambang, which was also how I addressed Henri. Muni, because she was younger, was amei to both of us, but addressed Suzanne as aka', the younger brother as adik, and the youngest child as aling.
Djadangdang = Both a singular and plural for the type of boy that hangs out on the street and causes trouble. In the Netherlands they are nowadays called hangjongeren (hang youth), but the problem was not so acute back in the seventies. I cannot remember a special term for them in Dutch being used in those days. Djadangdang appropriately describes hoods, gangsters, thugs.
Mas-bugao = Gold-gold. Mas or umas is the material, bugao is the appearance and the quality. Mas-bugao means very golden, extremely golden.
Ite = Stress-participle. It unifies a preceding clause and adds emphasis. It is probably best translated as 'indeed'.
Muntong = the end in progressions of time. Muntong taon is the latter part of the year.
Taon = Year, years.
Daon = leaf, leaves. Daon-daon = the leaves, the multitude of leaves. Reduplication changes something from a specific or singular to a general concept or plural.
Sa = At. Sometimes in or on. Marked by a condition. Often used as a prefix of verbs or conditions.
Luyang-laying = Drifting, moving gently, rocking. Swaying, as a woman will sometimes walk.
Tumpo = Falling, falling upon.
Ka = To, toward.
Paya = Ground, wet earth.
Warna = Colour, hue.
Djadi = Become, transform.
Idjo = Green.
Ura = Red, carmine.
Tan = And.
Ambera = The colour of licking flames or polished copper.
Ate = Liver. In the Indonesian languages, the liver is often the seat of emotions and thought.
Sayang = A state of heightened emotion. Usually slight sadness, sometimes intense empathy.
Pa = For, towards.
Are = Sun. Day, days.
Lalo = Passed, transpired, gone by.
Bustan = Garden. In some regionalects a market garden is more likely meant, but here the meaning is urban gardens. Gardens and orchards out in the countryside are kabon.
Mati = Dead. Ceased. Expired. Over.
Merotama = Mero means fragrant like ripe fruit, hence good and enjoyable. The postfix 'tama' is used for emphasis. Merotama: exceedingly pleasant or enjoyable, delightfull.
Itui = That. Ini is this, iyan is that over there.
Djale = To meander, to go out.
Ri = In. At. But 'inside' is dalem.
Len = Street, road. Standard Indonesian: djalan. Singular and plural. But unlike Indonesian 'jalan', it is not a verb in addition to being a noun.
Gang = Passage way, alley between buildings. Narrow urban street.
Na = Of.
Kuta-mi = Our town. Kuta: town, city. Mi: possesive first person plural postfix, derived from 'kami', first person plural excluding person spoken to. The postfix is often used in familiar instances to indicate 'our', including the person spoken to. Kita is first person plural inclusive, and while 'ta' is the correct plural inclusive postfix, its usage is mostly limited to formal speech and important constructs - tuwanta (our lord), uripta (our lives), dagatta (our life's blood - commerce), etcetera. In the construction kampong-mi, on the other hand, the mi postfix really is exclusive - the person spoken to is probably not of 'our hamlet'.
Lite = To see.
Puok = Tree, tree trunks.
Sehi = Like, as if. Resembling.
Garit-djiri = Finger-scratches. Garit: scratch. Djiri: digit.
Nente = Against. Opposed to.
Langit = Sky.
Denger = To listen.
Kwi-kwi = Onomatopoetic for the twittering of birds. Bats when waking and bugs at nightfall do not kwi-kwi, they kri-kri. I thought you should know.
Bugong = Bird, both singular and plural.
Djae = Going.
Suwatan = The South.
Kasantian = Peacefulness, the sense of calm enjoyment.

Thursday, December 06, 2007


Tis the season to be..... something.

If you're not sure what, read on.

Commentator Spiros writes underneath a post:
"Wait... You're forgetting about the one to three comely Dutch misses in blackface who are just waiting to discipline "bad" children; if that doesn't give you a warm (or at least tingly) feeling for the holidays, then there must be something wrong with you. "

This was further to his previous comment:
"Try as I might, I can't shake the image of one to three comely Dutch misses in blackface (and black, thigh high boots) (and black fish-net stockings), with or without birches, getting ready to mete out punishment... Almost good enough incentive to be naughty. "

Although these comments do indeed logically segue from one of my recent posts and he can therefore NOT be accused of being off his nut, it does shmeck remarkably of obsession.
[These posts: which is about the festive season, and which is about something Dutch.]

I know him, and I'm fairly certain he isn't crazy. Instead, he is fondly indulging his Dutch side - the Dutch, as is widely known, have a taste for both fetishes and comely misses.

I am not entirely sure whether it is the first or last factor that tickles him - if the first, any old birching will probably do. I wish I still had the contact data for that coworker back in the eighties who moonlighted as Madame Saundra - I heard she was quite good with birches, canes, and paddles. But there's page after page of them in the phone-book, and half the office ladies in the downtown are probably quite capable. Let your fingers do the walking, I cannot help you there.

If, on the other hand, the 'comely misses' are the attraction, may I strongly suggest instead some nice Cantonese girls from Lowell High School?
[Lowell is also called the 'Finishing School For Chinese Girls', seeing as much of the luscious student body is super-intelligent Chinese American female, most of whom will go on to top-notch universities - Lowell has extremely high standards.]

Not that I'm recommending that you trawl outside the school with a megaphone or accost the little dears at the bus stop, but have you considered placing an ad in one of the magazines that they read?

If you aren't certain what they read, you might stroll nonchalantly past them a few times (without drawing their attention!), but my guess is that half of them are subscribed to the Economist, one quarter receive the Antioch Review four times a year, one eighth of them regularly read Scientific American, a small number buy Exquisite Corpse down at City Lights on a regular basis, and all of them, ALL OF THEM! every! singel! one! of! them! get Hello Kitty Magazine (the first issue focused on Britain, where Hello Kitty is supposed to live).

Try putting a carefully worded add in Hello Kitty Magazine phrased in charming Japanese English:
"Genterman of distinguishment bad naughty, are you miss Keiko? Thigh high boots, fishnet stockings, you very please yes. Responsing kindly quick San Francisco box 89".

If nothing else, the inquiries you receive will make for some engrossing reading, guaranteed to keep you warm in this frigid season. Keeping toasty is what the holidays are all about.


As an afterthought, publishing those letters (without attribution) as an anthology would thrill the rest of us too. It would be a best-seller. Imagine the movie they could make of it!
With Gong Li or the fabulous Maggie Cheung (Cheung Man-Yuk) in one of the roles. Oh very please yes!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


Adding to the increased sense of distaste and discomfort which this season gives me, as mentioned yesterday, is the need to dress up for the holiday party tomorrow.

I'm a slob.

It's a fashion-statement.

So anyhow, tweedy sports-coat, tie, clean white shirt, slacks without frayed edges. I own the first two. I cannot remember if I have the third item (clean white shirt), and I know I do NOT posses the fourth.
[Let us forget about socks and shoes for a moment - nobody looks that far down (and if they do, they'll probably be glad that I am indeed wearing them).]

The tweedy sports-coat is very professorial. But the tie? Errrmmmm...... professorial also. Or in any case, collegiate. The type of narrow old-fashioned tie that was fashionable back in the forties and fifties. Stodgy, and soup-stained from too many drunken frat-parties, late-night smokers, and bean-feeds. I was apparently quite the party animal in the decade before I was born. A rake, even, and in any case not the type of college-boy that you would let date your daughter. Cocktails, Latin drinking songs, and the Student Temperance Union Dramatic Society and their beer-fuelled rehearsals. Pickled from freshman to phd. That kind of tie.
I own over a hundred of the damn things.
[Ah, the Eisenhower years - I remember them not. Seeing as I wasn't even born then. But my ties remember them. And, in their spottiness, tell the tale. So it's time to buy another tie.]

The slacks also need buying. Which is a problem, given that short dumpy middle-aged men are not exactly the hip, spend-it-like-water demographic that the downtown clothiers are aiming for. Anorexic mid-twenties pencil-waist heroin addicts, okay. Multiple piercings, cryptic tattoos that need showing off, snake hips, okay too. Pimp-style glitzy glam-pants in synthetic chartreuse? Super cool. Dude.

This is just not my era. One clerk looked appraisingly at my waist, and said that I might fit a thirty-six - it was his largest size. He was insanely optimistic.

At another store, the clerk brightly suggested that they could take something off the length.... or I could wear it pulled up a bit. This was beyond even the insane optimism of the previous clerk, seeing as the thing was at least six inches too long, and tight in the crotch.

Fortunately I found three pairs of pants further down the road - they aren't too ugly.
[I'm not telling you where they were found, as I want to keep that information for myself. I may need to dress myself again sometime.]

The new tie was much easier to find, and it is aza stylish that I'll impress myself. Geshmak to da max.
[It cost as much as three pairs of pants.]

Shopping for clothes gives me a fever and cold-sweats. I am dizzy and I feel violated.

Holiday parties also give me cold-sweats. Both before, during, and after.

I don't have asthma, but I feel like I should.
Hives are increasingly likely, so are clammy palms all the way up to the oxters.
And a head-ache. Both before, during, and after.

'Tis the season.
Ho ho ho, bitches.



Sometimes you're bored.
So you do things.
Like filling in an e-harmony profile questionaire as Borat.

[This Borat: ]

The results were surprising. Borat is actually pretty decent chap - despite his past history as a brutal gypsy-catcher.
The following are phrases lifted at near-random from Borat Sagdiyev's eharmony Personality Profile:

"You devote adequate time to taking care of your own needs and wants, in part because it makes you happy with your life and in part because that's what you truly believe every person should do.

Like someone who can sleep comfortably on either side of the bed, you are equally at home with ideas and beliefs that you have held for a long time and with new ways of thinking and believing that grow out of your intellectual curiosity.

Your sense of who you are and what your place is in the world around you rests on values and principles that are the solid ground you walk upon. You've tested them, they work for you, and much of the time you are content to trust them.

Not everyone will be thrilled by your flexible, middle-of-the-road ways of thinking and believing.

When others cannot think straight you remain unflappable and clear-headed.

The truth is that your work style gets things done, often with more beauty, fun, creativity and imagination than others could ever manage.

You enjoy your own company as much as you enjoy the company of others. You are a great conversationalist and thrive in the wonderful kinds of connections you know how to have with your family and friends.

Most people will truly appreciate your flexibility in social situations. They will like you for your amiable warmth and your willingness to engage, and for your ability to sit back and let others take the lead or the spotlight.

Because you are sometimes outgoing and sometimes reserved, you will make most people comfortable in your presence, and they will truly enjoy your company."

All of the above was based on a character with an obsessive interest in sex ("very nice...!"), anooses ("very nice...!!"), disgusting potty humour ("very nice...!!!"), extreme personal vanity ("very nice...!!!!"), and a level of male-chauvenism that dwarfs everything around him, including the tiny chrams of all other men ("very nice...?").

Plus selfishness, stubborness, total disregard for the emotional welfare of the other person or animal in the relationship, and all the usual shallownesses that men standardly deny.

According to his personality profile, that's actually what every man wants to be.
I wonder if that means something?


Tuesday, December 04, 2007


As some of my readers know, I work in an industry which is subject to Xmas madness. Even though I am in the section of the company that cannot be considered all sweetness and light, fluffy bunnie wabbits, holly, elves, and jingly bells, I am "subject" to the same poisonously cheerfull atmosphere as everybody else.

[I actually do collection calls. No, I do not call up the widow Smith and tell her that unless she pays the last hundred bucks on the couch set 'we're coming over to repossess and we're gonna break your legs too bitch' - this is strictly business to business, and threats of violence are SO last century.]

But can I just say that this is my LEAST favourite time of year?

I mean, some overweight eunuch comes to town with bribes and candy for the little creeps, and all of a sudden everybody loses both their minds and whatever pretense of good taste they had, goes all sparkling apeshit over red tinsel, tinny children's' voices singing hymns to greed, ugly little statuettes and mock-ups of a primitive delivery room, sappy movies............

The questionable clothing taste of the corpulent superfreak raises no eyebrows. Wearing the same nineteen seventies greasy crimson leasure suit 24 and 365 is, inexplicably, not an issue. "Go over and tell him what you want, dearie."
This is normal? Feh. Try that on the bus sometime.

Little monsters press extensions at random in our phone tree to tell me what they expect to receive for Christmas from our company. And I (dot dot dot) "control myself". I am Scrooge, but I am wise enough to not go off all ballistic on their little fluffy heads.

Doing so would not be 'Christmassy'.

We're all about Christmas.

Instead I gibber on insanely about elves and reindeer and chimneys and north poles until they hang up in disgust - any adult who still believes in fairy tales cannot be trusted.

I do NOT like Christmas. I do not like the holidays. I do not like nog, mint brickle, rumcake, plumpudding, chestnuts, your crappy holiday family photo, being hugged by hairy aunt Augusta (she smells like the soap in a train station restroom!), the neediness, the tension, the headache, and the pressure. Please do not sing at me - you are so not musical, and I do believe I've already heard that miserable tune before. And, above all, you are welcome to the fat pervert - keep him at your house all night if you want to.

All you have to do is feed him little children.

[You didn't know that that was his game? Why did you think he was fattening-up the little brutes? Lulling them into complacency and sugar exhaustion? It was either that or something sexual...... ]

This is the time of year when I want to come down your chimney with a chain saw.

Still two days to go before the company party.

I am ready.

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