Friday, December 31, 2010


There are times when you need to break out the dhol and bang till you’re beat. Yes? Aap maloom hai?
Good, we understand each other, bhaye.

Turn up the volume. You’ll need it.


Balwinder Safri, bhangra music.
Good stuff.

Naye saal Mubarak, y'all.

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At the end of the year it is more realistic to review the past twelve months than to make positive resolutions for the next twelve months.
All the high-minded hoohah that you come up with between now and the falling ball will seem silly and jejune in the grim dawn light, while your head throbs from celebrating your brand new self too strenuously the previous night. You wish you had never been so self-confident, and your resolve falters....... a trembling hand reaches for the last cheap box of Christmas chocolates.........

It is far less futile to formulate a better definition of oneself in any case, than to engage in overly optimistic forward thinking.

In that vein, I shall NOT try to be a better person in 2011.

Not because I think I am perfect, but because I know that progress is gradual, and depends on evolving circumstance.

I am Dutch. By definition, I am stubborn. When I grow old, I will be cranky and have complete disregard for other people sharing this world with me.


In the past year I have spent way too much time around people with whom I have little in common. While I've enjoyed what half-assed companionship they provided, the one-sided aggravation has been cumulative.
That will stop.

I have given money to street people every day for many years. When someone is desperate, cold-shouldering them is neither helpful nor particularly human. Yes, some of them will make bad choices regarding money received. Once I hand over the cash I am not concerned with its further circulation.
That will continue.

My relationship with Savage Kitten is no longer what it was at the beginning of this year. No, I do not really understand the hows and whys of the change - and given that passion has been replaced with a good and sturdy friendship, I shall not try to make sense out of it. What's over is over.
Her love-life is no longer my bailiwick.

Desperately searching for another girlfriend is NOT part of the programme - perhaps the desperation is, but the searching isn't. If I find another sparkling young lady with whom to eat dinner, or one who wishes to engage in calmly passionate friction, I'll be delighted. If not, I shall likely grow ever more eccentric and misanthropic. Happily so.
That too is personal growth.

Some things are not worth drinking. In that category are Starbucks beverages, diet sodas, cheap bourbon, champagne, and flavoured vodkas. All of which I have mostly avoided in the past year. That avoidance will be maintained. It's conducive to good clean living and mental health.
Life is too short to swill garbage.

There is a strong likelihood that my smoking will prove unappealing to the opposite sex. The rich earthy perfumes of Latakia and Perique are entirely at odds with potpourri, stick-on air fresheners, perfumed candles, plus anything and everything that falls into the Hello-Kitty category of aesthetic appreciation.
Tough. Got a match?

Comfortable feet and a warm bed are purely wonderful. Good shoes, nice socks. Poofy comforters, crisp sheets, and pillows both fluffy and firm.
Never go to bed sweaty, always have one or two stuffed animals with you when you sleep. When all else pales, this is a code to live by.
Make sure to twiddle your toes.

Happy New Year.

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Thursday, December 30, 2010


A mind is a terrible thing. And often, it is your own worst enemy.
Fortunately the little bastard is easily distracted.........

For instance:

On the way out of the building for a smoke, I overheard two other smokers on their way in. One of them was saying "and then you do it with cream and butter and bacon".

Damn, girl, the only thing missing is cheese.


Several years ago there was a Taiwanese soap opera which I thoroughly enjoyed. The story involved a handsome professional, his suicidal former wife, the beautiful new wife, a Shanghainese ex-mistress, his darling little daughter, and his daughter's amah, who only spoke Taiwanese Hokkien.

Except for whatever the amah said, the series was in Mandarin. Pretty decent Mandarin, too.
Even the Shanghainese bint spoke understandably (normally those people sound like exploding soda water siphons).

Every episode included at least one tantrum, several weepy moments, and scenes of utter heart-rending drama in which the little girl yanked the tears from the viewing-audience with brute force.
The amah was stellar too, especially when she wailed and hiccoughed, kvetching and shraiing in that language no one else in the series spoke but which all of them miraculously understood.
Come to think of it, all the females wept beautifully - rich, dramatic, sobbing from the gut, crying, lamenting and accusing at the top of their lungs. Misery, heart-ache, and spoiled pouty dejection on an epic scale.
It was utterly delightful. I've always appreciated over-acting.

Savage Kitten, who is my erstwhile significant other and still a darn good friend as well as my house mate, speaks English and Toishanese. Her Toishanese is worse than my Cantonese. She does not speak any Mandarin or Hokkien at all.

She can't stand pouting females, and she absolutely hates weepy bitches.
Hong Kong, mainland, or Taiwan television bores her. Unless they show lots of food.
Whenever we watched Chinese soap-operas, she would invent her own dialogue in different voices.

The one episode of this Taiwanese weep-and-scream fest that she saw, she decided that the cause of all the distress was that there was NO cheese - that lack explained everything.


In the first scene, the ex-wife tearfully bids farewell to her daughter, as shown in remembered flashback. Everyone cries buckets.

VOICE-ONE: Oh woe, my cheese is missing!!!
VOICE-TWO: Mom, how could you, that was the BEST Cheese EVER, we are undone!!! Waaaah!!!
VOICE-THREE: Oh stop wailing about the cheese, bitch, now you're making me cry.
VOICE-ONE: You're heartless, you lactose intolerant beast! It was Edam!

All three females start screaming hysterically, while remembering the cheese.

Shortly afterwards Savage Kitten went into the kitchen to fix herself a snack.

Several scenes later, the handsome professional is in the very modern kitchen of his luxuriously appointed house, explaining something to the amah that involves the rice cooker. The amah is stubborn and angry. The child, standing next to the amah, is pouting. Everyone is tense.

VOICE-ONE: You never should've put the cheese in here, moron, you've RUINED this expensive appliance!
VOICE-TWO: Stupid man, it was made in Japan! Remember what they did in World War Two? Those bandy-legged goblins, they DESERVE cheese up their cookers!
VOICE-THREE: Waaaah, I want some cheese, waaaah!
VOICE-ONE: Well you can't have any, you sickening little brat - miss Stupid here shoved it up some Japanese businessman's exhaust pipe! All of it! Pound pound pound!
VOICE TWO: Ementhaler! Gouda! Stilton!

Both females start howling, the man looks fed-up.

During the commercials that followed, Savage Kitten went to the store to get some chips.

In the final scene, there's a view of the handsome professional's mansion during a typhoon, with rain slamming the building in nearly horizontal sheets, gusts whipping the trees. It is night. Cut to the living room, where the man, his daughter, the beautiful new wife, and the amah, are closely clustered with their arms around each other in the darkness, as the storm buffets the house.
The two women and the little girl are emotional.

VOICE ONE: Oh no, we're all going to die!
VOICE-TWO: It's your fault, bitch, I told you to cook dinner while we still had electricity! Now there's no rice!
VOICE-THREE: We couldn't have rice anyhow, she ruined the rice-cooker with that cheese!
VOICE-ONE: So why didn't you buy another one, idiot! And if you paid the electric bills once in a while they wouldn't cut us off!
VOICE-TWO: Yeah, but WHO insisted that I get more cheese instead, huh, who? Who?!?!?
VOICE-THREE: Oh shut up about the cheese already! That stuff gives me the runs!
VOICE-FOUR (the daughter): I remember the last time that happened! And we couldn't leave the house then either, it was HORRIBLE!

All three females start weeping copiously, one of them (the amah) flailing about uncontrollably.

VOICE-THREE: The pressure, the pressure, my intestine's gonna give way any moment now, save yourselves, aaaaaaack!VOICE-FOUR: It smells like cheese in here, we're gonna die! Waaaah!

During the ending credits, Savage Kitten happily speculated that all 'northerners' (meaning everyone except the Cantonese) were crazy, talked funny, and didn't know beans about good food. She was scarfing down an entire bag of Bacon Cheddar Fries while she spoke.

Savage Kitten has never had a problem with cheese. She is not lactose intolerant. Loves the stuff.

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Once, when we were going through a rough spot during the very early years, Savage Kitten said that if she had to choose, she would want intimacy instead of friendship.
I said that I would vastly prefer friendship. That even if we never slept together again the friendship was the most precious part of our relationship to me.

A while after that we moved in together. That was seventeen years ago.

This past summer we stopped being lovers.

We’ve stayed friends.

HAH! I win!

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010


The middle of the night smells different, it is not the same as daytime. Some fragrances are time-bound, some are specific to a place.
Among the latter, of course, are some of the aroma-sets that particularly resonate for this blogger: Coffee and tea merchants, Indian restaurants, and Tobacconists.

You are probably already familiar with my pipe-tobacco metaphors, so I need not mention that Latakia is a husky woman, Smyrna a sweet-faced maid, flue-cured leaf a well-bred young lady with a secret sexual-streak a mile wide, and Burley a lusty middle-aged housefrau, still appealing.

Indian restaurants smell pungently of spices. And fried food. And the after shave used by a stocky Punjabi who fancies himself quite the ladies man.

Coffee and tea merchants nose of fine young things, male and female, all wiry limbs and bright eyes.
Of course their eyes are bright, they're wired to the tits!

[Other evocative whiff-collections: Chinese grocery stores (grumpy teenager behind the cash register thinking "oh lord here's that white pervert again"), second-hand bookstores (elderly degenerate ponging vaguely of sweat, lurking in the Sci-Fi section), bars (a rich effluviastic spectrum, mostly spilled beer), bakeries (ripe, yeasty, and sensual), headshops (nothing says free love and big wobbly bosoms like patchouli), and of course the sewer-reek of almost any intersection in downtown San Francisco: ah, the rich odeur of our city, redolent of meat-eaters from the suburbs up in the office buildings, vegans from the Mission district working for low pay in failing retail establishments, the vibrant hum of the urban animal at fevered full production, sweating and grinding behind so many office doors ......... basically, sh*t. A vast variety of.]

But quite the ripest, juiciest, most evocative set of smells is to be found in an antique love poem, a wonderful archaic lust ode, praising the intertwining charms of two young persons.

" A bundle of myrrh is my well-beloved unto me; he shall lie all night betwixt my breasts."

[Verse 13, Chapter one, Song of Songs.]

Rich stuff.
Just about filled with warm fragrances.


"I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys..... his left hand is under my head, and his right hand doth embrace me..... the vines with the tender grape give a good smell..... my beloved is mine, and I am his - he feedeth among the lilies..... thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins, which feed among the lilies..... how much better is thy love than wine and the smell of thine ointments than all spices.....

An orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits, camphire, with spikenard - spikenard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense, myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices..... I have gathered my myrrh with my spice, I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey, I have drunk my wine with my milk..... my beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him; I rose up to open to my beloved, my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet smelling balm, upon the handles of the lock.....

His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers, his lips like lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh..... down into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies..... threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and virgins without number..... thy navel is like a round goblet, which wanteth not liquor; thy belly is like a heap of wheat set about with lilies, thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins.....
I will go up to the palm tree, I will take hold of the boughs thereof, now also thy breasts shall be as clusters of the vine, and the smell of thy nose like apples, and the roof of thy mouth like the best wine for my beloved, that goeth down sweetly..... "

Wow. Completely moist.

Dense interlocking evocations of perfume, appearance, and touch, deftly woven together into a steamy yet delightfully fresh image-world. Innocent, even, though that innocence is sometimes more alongside the lovers than present in their actual experiences.

And sometimes the innocence startles as an entirely separate and contrasting element:

"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?"

Errrrm, guys? Haven't you been paying ANY attention? She's no longer the little girl you sent out into the fields and vineyards to tend the sheep, she's kind of grown-up now..... And she's been 'doing' things.

Breast like two young roes among the lillies? Hmmm?

Really, your sister is a wonderful person. Do you know if she's seeing anyone special right now?

Perhaps the most important aspect of the Song of Songs, however, is that which is not mentioned at all.
Something which is implicit.....

Warm weather. Sunshine.

A better travel brochure can scarce be imagined.

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When someone is going through a mood talking to them can be beneficial. Even if there is not much you can say. Simply engaging their mind and distracting it is a good thing.

I've noticed, over the past few months, that I sometimes lapse into a funk in which my awareness of external stimuli fades out. I don't really hear what's going on around me, my vision-field narrows to a tunnel with darkened walls.
Usually the same sentences start to repeat inside my head.

[Don't worry! I'm not hearing voices or going crazy, I'm just rhetorically beating myself up. I'm simply far far better at it than you could possibly imagine! It's both a talent and a well-honed skill.]

Sometimes this lasts for a few hours.
When Savage Kitten notices it, she asks if there is anything that she can do.
There isn't. What would help is something I cannot and will not ask.
Nor will I discuss it with her.

[Note: Savage Kitten is rather oblivious to moods and body language. It's an Asperger trait of hers which has worked against me in the past. Now I'm actually rather glad of it.]

I have too much respect for her, and this is just something personal.
It's far too late in any case.
But her conversation is often enough to get me out of it.

It is far better to hear other people's voices than one's own.

Problem is, in the middle of the night there are NO places where one can go to let the background noise distract one - sane people just don't populate the darkness.

[On the other hand, in the wee hours a far broader spectrumof entertaining and instructive San Francisco "eccentricity" is visible in the alleyways and dark corners. Don't these folks have coffins to go back to?]

It used to be that doing math, or figuring out the calendar several months in advance, or something similar, would be enough to still the brain to the point where sleep would follow.
That no longer always works. I've figured out the date of every Saturday through 2035 and beyond, in sequence, several nights a week, for the past few weeks.
I've also done full three-D technical drawings in my head for several hundred variations of book cases, storage chests, winding stairways. With cut-away views, specifications of materials, inlay patterns. And the exact placement of screws.

I think I'll try mentally practice Chinese calligraphy in my mind next. Rememorizing the Tang and Sung poems ought to be splendid exercise. Chancellory script.
Or siu syuen (小篆).
Should keep me busy for a while.

After that, Breero, Gerard van den Reve, and Jean-Pierre Rawie.
Insular half-uncial, I think.

Years ago I returned to the United States to get an education.
Eh, I'm still working on it.

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010


There’s a video, produced by an Israeli comedy group, that has a funny take on Christians being slaughtered in the Muslim world.
No, I shall not direct you to it, as the humour is both juvenile and meanspirited.
Besides, like previous 'amusing' videos produced by that group it has probably already been sent to you by several well-intentioned friends.

I had the temerity to criticize that video on a mailing list.

Somehow the idea that anyone saw something amusing in Muslims killing Christians, and would use a song associated with a Christian holiday to poke fun at such murders, did not seem like very good Hasbara to me.
That they would then circulate their video to coincide with that very same Christian holiday seemed like an even worse idea.
That those comedians are beloved by the same people in Israel who play America and the Christian world for a bunch of freiers was bitter icing on the cake.

The point I tried to make was that the video could be taken the wrong way, especially by people who were relatively uninformed OR not already favourably inclined - not good for the cause, and potentially damaging to our side.
We should be aware that things will often be misinterpreted.
Perhaps that video should not have been made.

The reactions were odd.


According to one writer, I missed crucial distinctions in the video.

A second insisted that the comedian chiefly responsible was very talented, and had accurately expressed what Jihadis were planning for all Christmas-observant infidels.

Someone else privately averred that “humor has been as much a part of our Jewish heritage and survival as the TORAH, SHABBAT and G-D" (all of which are things I have no clue about, btw), and also that I had absolutely failed to understand the parody, and I truly missed the deepest point!
Every one else 'got it'.
She felt sorry for me.

A third contributor vehemently wishes the entire list to know that I had absolutely NO sense of humour, and that criticizing what was clearly hysterically funny satire was proof that it went over my head. My take on the video was so sick and hateful, indeed, that she half expected me to start screaming that the Jews killed Christ, she was horribly offended by what I had said - she then brought up the Crusades, the Inquisition, Pogroms, and the Holocaust.....

And further, in addition to being twisted and offensive, I am also a "self-righteous Gentile".

That last comment is a darn good phrase.

I think I'll keep it.

[Not only a "self righteous Gentile", but as per previous communications, "f***ed up, neurotic, dysfunctional, delusional", a "raving hypocrite", and 'sorely lacking neshomeh'. Evenso, I'll stick with 'Self-Righteous Gentile'. It truly says it all.]

-----ATBOTH, s.r.g.

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Seeing as it's getting close to the end of the year, now might be a good time to tally up the positives and the negatives for the past twelve months.
Especially as so much has changed.

*Relationship with Savage Kitten down the tubes. Still roommates, probably better friends than ever. But no longer lovers.
*Abstinence - direct result of the above.
*Periodic depression - can't figure out which of the two things mentioned above is the greater contributor.
*Lack of appetite - caused by all three of the above.
*Empty dinner table syndrome - I don't like eating alone; the company of a bright young woman would serve admirably as a stimulant.

*Chocolate. Especially noticeable around this time of year.
*Scotch whisky. Probably as inspiring as anything.

*Tea mug with a cheerful pattern of octopus tentacles.
*Sporadic optimism - at some point, entirely out of the blue, some bright young woman will believe that I'm the bee's knees and the cat's miaow. It's happened once before.
*Lost weight. Waist-size below forty for the first time in ten years. Dang I look good.

Savage Kitten cannot figure out how come I haven't been snapped-up yet by some bright young woman. She says I'm extremely handsome, and surely my wit, generosity, intelligence, and kindness are all magnetic.

She's far too kind. Some magnets have a negative charge.

I have a suspicion that most bright young women are more likely to flee from me in terror - after all, I've got major pervert skills, and I am stubborn as all git-out.
Plus there's that whiff of risky stuff - some folks don't like risky stuff.
Shoes, handbags, and designer shmatte don't mean anything to me.
I am quite possibly the worst sugar-daddy prospect in the universe.

Care for some chocolate?

It's going to be a good year. I can tell.

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I am the dirty old man your parents warned you about.
You should’ve listened, and taken it as a recommendation.

Instead, you were talking with your friends about your sex life, while I was behind you on my way home.
Until I heard what you were saying, I was looking for an opportunity to pass. Then I decided that what you were talking about was far too fascinating to give up on…… even though I am appalled.

Damn you’re sleazy! Pathetic, too.

When you took the thousand dollars, was it your virginity? No, I’m not surprised that it was "a little traumatic". But I’m flabbergasted that it was "so worth it". Do tell.

You know, there's that famous story about Churchill, where he says "we've already determined that, now were haggling over the price". Would you even understand that point?

That note of wistful envy in your friend's voice was more than a little disturbing. Especially when it turned out you and he were 'doing it'. I believe that's what your age-group calls a 'f*_k buddy'. Frankly, I would hope that you two aren't as representative of your generation as I fear you actually are.
Sorry if I sound like an old fuddy-duddy, but I am extremely happy not to have to associate with you.
Or even people like you.

Look, I'm not saying that you should maintain your virginity till your marriage night. Far from it. Marriage, abstention, and monkish practices aren't for everyone - just look at the priesthood.
But a certain amount of reserve, restraint, and sound judgment are rather good things. Especially when it comes to sex. Going by your discourse, such concepts are unknown to you.
It's no doubt a darn good thing to have a blonde vagina, I wouldn't know but I'm just guessing. However, when it sounds like the entire fifth route army has waged war there recently purely for your entertainment, it may be a blessing entirely wasted on you. As well as for that man-thing you're currently sack-whacking.

There's more to sex than "nothing on teevee", you know.

I suppose there are still twenty-somethings out there who haven't turned their groin into an epa superfund site. Or an Olympic Stadium. But I wonder if you know anybody like that. Your personal experiences are more than a little nauseating, but you speak as if they are the most normal thing in the world.
Law school must be a blast nowadays with people like you around.

Yes, this old fart is thoroughly scandalized. I can't help it, as it turns out I am from a generation that for some reason didn't treat banging as an alternative to video games.
We were kind of dull that way. Unimaginative, you would call it.

But please, keep talking - I'm also fascinated.
I never could've guessed stuff like this was normal.
No, I'm not judging you. Not at all.

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Monday, December 27, 2010


A correspondent opined that the Chinese are devoted to their character-script as a matter of cultural identification and preference, and it was further suggested that there was something not entirely logical about adhering to a system that seemed so much more cumbersome than the alphabet.

Well, yes.

And no.

The main reason the Chinese won’t switch to an alphabetic system is that it would not convey anything other than mere sound. When many morphemes are homophonous – even if tones are taken into account – a strictly phonetic script is far less precise than an ideographic script with phonetic elements to the characters.

Mandarin has approximately 600 distinct syllables that are morphematically independent.
If multiplied by the four tones, you end up with around 2400.
Yet the script encompasses about 8000 characters (more or less, and entirely excluding alternate ways of writing the same character).
Some syllables have only two or three meanings. Others, like 'shi' and 'zhi' have dozens of meanings – most not in any way related to each other or derived from each other.

Additionally, spoken Chinese and written Chinese diverge considerably – spoken Chinese uses many more bi-syllabic and polysyllabic constructs than are necessary in Written Chinese, which tends towards brevity.
Old-style literary Chinese is even more condensed – thus, attempting to convey what a piece says by writing as if one were speaking, will lead to a text three to five times longer than the original, which is unnecessarily prolix by the standards of anyone with more than a grammar school education.

Largely as a result of this density, when you read a passage from the classics or a poem aloud, your listener will often not be able to make much sense out of it – unless they’re already acquainted with it.

However even if only barely literate, most people know enough quotes, sayings, and idioms based on literary references that unless something is really abstruse they can make an identification.


As just one example of a literary idiom that can be used to convey much meaning more brevitously than a mere flat phrase, consider the expression 'se mian chu ge' (四面楚歌): literally translatable as "four faces Chu song" - in idiomatic English, "the songs of Chu can be heard from all sides".
Meaning that one is surrounded, the cause is hopeless, the situation extreme.


Han-bing yi luo di,
Se mian Chu-ge sheng;
Da-wang yi qi jin,
Jian-qien he liao sheng?

"The army of Han has conquered our land,
On four sides there are the songs of Chu;
My lord's spirit is exhausted,
How then should this lowly concubine hold on to life?"


In 202 BCE, General Liu Bang (劉邦) of Han (漢) faced the army of the prince of Western Chu (西楚) at Gai-Xia (垓下) in the Central Plains (Zhong-Yuan: 中原). At night he had patrols entirely surround the encampment of the Western-Chu forces, singing well-known songs of their homeland, thus fooling the opposing side into believing that Han had conquered the state already and incorporated it’s people into the Han army, and that consequently the surrounding force was far greater and far more successful than it actually was – this so demoralized the soldiers that many deserted and fled.

[Interpolated addendum as of 12/28/2010
Tzipporah said: "Please clarify the pronouns in your account. Which "he" is surrounding the camp? It sounds like the songs of HAN are surrounding them, not the songs of Chu... ?"
Chu is the ancient name of a Central-Southern state that was a barely Sinicised periphery to the rest of the Chinese world - which at that time did not extend significantly further south than the watershed of the great river.
At its greatest extent Chu included Hunan (湖南), Hubei (湖北), Henan (河南), Anhui (安徽), the southern part of Jiangsu (江蘇) and the northern reaches of Jiangxi (江西). Like the other Chinese states, Chu vied for power and primacy - unifying China always proved that one had the Mandate of Heaven.

Han is the term for the dynastic polity founded by Liu Bang, subsequently holding sway over all China upon conquering the other territories of the Chinese world, including Western Chu.
By having his men sing the familiar airs of Chu, Liu Bang of Han waged psychological war against the soldiers of Western Chu (Xiang Yu's army). It was utterly successful. ]

Rather than being an encumbrance and possibly dishonoured - and so furthering disgrace and defeat for her lord - the consort of the Western-Chu leader committed suicide.
Prince Xiang Yu (項羽) was eventually left with only a few hundred men, which was gradually whittled down to 28 when the remnant of Western-Chu reached Dongcheng (東城) across the Huai river (淮河). Rather than returning to Chu, they fought till their deaths in a last stand on the banks of the Wu (烏江).

Thus, with only four syllables, four words, a huge wealth of reference is called to mind, and a desperate set of circumstances made clear.

How much more evocative than merely saying "the jig’s up".


Before facing the forces of Han with his remaining men at the Wu channel, Xiang Yu asked a ferryman to escort his beloved dappled steed Zhui (騅) back to Jiandong (江東).
After his death, the state of Western Chu surrendered, and Liu Bang became the first emperor of Han.
Xiang Yu was given a grand funeral, and his relatives were ennobled.

Yu xi, Yu xi, nai ru he?"
Oh Yu, Yu, what will become of you?"

If you've seen the movie 'Farewell My Concubine', you are already familiar with part of the tale - specifically the suicide of Xiang Yu's consort (the lady Yu - 虞姬) at Gai-Xia, theme of the famous opera 霸王别姬 - Ba-wang Bie Ji. The movie borrows from the opera, which in turn is based on events described in The Records of the Grand Historian ('Shi Ji': 史記) and The History of the Earlier Han ('Qian Han Shu': 前漢書), as well as a wealth of subsequent analysis and poetification.


Xiàng (項): Back of neck; numeral classifier for clauses, tasks, projects, etcetera. Surname.
yǔ ( 羽): Feather. A musical tone. Yú (虞): Expect, anticipate. Concern, anxiety. Surname.

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Sunday, December 26, 2010


It turns out that today I am not alone in the office.
Those of you who tuned in to yesterday's exciting episode of 'Life of Toad' will have learned that I am hiding out at my desk in the accounting department much more often these days, due to the complete collapse of a twenty-one year affair with a wonderful woman who is now just a roommate, and you will consequently understand that the umpty-umpth floor of a building in the financial district of San Francisco is a logical place for me to be during Christmas weekend.

But today I am not the only person here.

No, there is NO petite and screamingly intelligent Cantonese-American female college student with bright eyes and small hands keeping me company. If you actually thought that, your rich fantasies and my desperate wishful-thinking overlap remarkably, and we both need counseling.

Or we need to finally meet in real life.
Call me!

Instead, the tech-support department is here. I can hear their dulcet voices from several aisles away, happily discussing where to shove those batteries.
And what to do with the extra screws.

The bastards ate MY cookies!!!

I was counting on having some stale cookies as a 'breakfast - lunch - teatime snack', to follow yesterday's 'breakfast - lunch - teatime - festive Christmas dinner' of stale cookies.
Stale cookies are the perfect holiday paradigm this year.
But they're gone. All gone. Every single one of them. Not even a crumb left.
Greedy pigs.

Tech Support also had a picnic in the brand new office kitchen!
It smells richly treifish in there, I can see the remains of a pack of prosciutto, pancetta, salame of some kind, a rolled sandwich meat rich with chunks of lard, cheeses (dairy with meat? Feh!), mustard, mayo .......
There's a loaf of bread and a jar of pickles there too.

No wonder their voices are dulcet - they're remarkably well-fed!
I'm surprised I don't hear them belching.
They devoured the stale cookies for dessert, the intemperate sadists!
Stuffed and insatiable!

The OPS department will be SO pissed off tomorrow to discover all the stale cookies gone.
Along with the petro-cheese spread, the dry pepper crackers, and the blue-cheese pretzel niblets, those stale cookies were a seasonal gift to OPS from a rep-group keen to keep our business.
I wouldn't be surprised if OPS was planning to snack upon the stale cookies tomorrow.

I'll just have to let them know that Tech Support ATE them all.

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Saturday, December 25, 2010


Today is the longest day of the year for non-Christmassy people. Many Chinese-Americans and Jews are not particularly Christmassy. They are aware of the holiday, but other than that they'll be eating Chinese food tonight it doesn't really signify very much - it's sort of a quintessential wasp dealio.

As you may have gathered, I am rather waspy.
New-Amsterdam Dutch-American mixed with bits and pieces of elsewhere white, Calvinists in the family woodwork, culturally Anglo-American. And I'm quite fine with that - despite my Judaic and Sinitic interests and involvements, I have no urge to become Jewish or Chinese.
But I am not a Christmassy sort of person.

How you deal with Christmas really tells you where you stand on the 'in-out-other' spectrum.

It's nice to know where one stands.........

Savage Kitten spent the morning with her boyfriend.
She did the afternoon shift with her friends at the soup kitchen.
She'll be with her siblings and kinfolk this evening.
Apparently I'm now at fourth place.
Distant fourth.
I'm just a roommate.

[Yes, she now has a boyfriend. I've talked to the fellow a few times, he's actually a nice chap. She squeals with delight when she's on the phone with him - it's very cute when she does that. Not that that does bugger all for me. Other than hugely increasing the likelihood of indigestion, that is. Bile, agida, kopfvaytik. Fingers clenching.
Due to mobility issues he can't visit her in the apartment that we share - uphill, upstairs - which means I don't have to be around him. At all. Ever. Which is fine. Totally fine. Excellent, in fact. I am cool with that. Absolutely. Boo-yah.]

When she and I were a couple, I was mostly at second place. She never had the courage to tell her relatives about me. We'd joke that when her nephews were adults, she would perhaps eventually introduce me as 'uncle secret lover'.
I guess that means I'm now merely 'uncle secret ex-lover', if anything.

She has however mentioned her new boyfriend to her kin - it's great that she finally has the courage to admit to them that she has a life of her own.
That, in addition to being a good Chinatown girl, Cantonese daughter, Chinese younger sister, she is actually a human being.
She's finally facing what she is, and what she wants to be.
She's changed a lot in the past year.

There have also been some changes at my end.
Well, one.
I've always been aware of what I was, but that one change does cast everything in a different light.
So, factoring in that ONE little thing, I've made a short self-descriptive list.

I am:
Not involved in a relationship.
Not comfortable.
Not Chinese.
Not Jewish.
Not Dutch.
Not Don Juan.
Not a family man.
Not good at dancing.
Not particularly social.
Not enjoying the holidays.
Not going to be having Xmas dinner.
Not going out for Chinese food tonight.

If I went to a Chinese restaurant this evening by myself, I would simply be advertising that I'm a loser white-guy with no relatives and no family.
I can still remember what a thoroughly depressing feeling that was, back in the eighties.

There's going to be a lavish Christmas spread at the bar which is sort of a home away from home when I'm tired of hiding out at the office in the evening.
But no, I don't have any intention of going there till long after everything edible has disappeared.
You see, the past few times that there was festive food there, no one extended an invitation to me to have some till well over an hour had passed. I kept hearing comments off to the side from other patrons to the effect that it was delicious, my heavens scrumptious, gracious what fun, mmmm so goooooooood - hell, eating so pre-occupied everybody that I couldn't even get a conversation going edgewise - but by the time it was finally suggested to me that I should have some too I had lost all trace of an appetite.

I may not be above the salt, but I refuse to be an afterthought.
You can offer your damned leftovers to someone else.
I'll just have my Scotch and water, thank you very much.

Yeah, I know. I'm far too sensitive. Normal people aren't so stuck on social niceties like being made welcome, asked to eat, invited to partake and enjoy - they just boldly belly up to the spread and help themselves.
We're all friends here.
I should relax. Yep.

I'm not actually planning to eat bugger-all today.

Well, maybe some stale cookies. I'm at the office at present, where due to the festive season there are plenty of stale cookies. Stale cookies are traditional holiday fare.

I've been spending a lot of time at the office lately. Evenings. Weekends.
Often I am alone here. But I'm not lonely.
I rather enjoy the quiet.
Although occasionally I do rend the silence by playing some screamingly loud bhangra.

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Friday, December 24, 2010


The law against smoking in bars and cafés in the Netherlands is, it turns out, being broken on a massive scale.
Part of the problem is that there are a large number of smokers in the Netherlands. Part of it is the climate: it's often unpleasantly cold in that boggy place. And being an environmentally conscious country as well as an added-value tax hell, outside heaters are not really affordable for many small businessmen who wish to keep their clientele from freezing their klewten off.

Also, given that many non-smokers are goat-wool sock knitters and rather sour and anti-social besides - or verstokte old puritans with sticks in their reets - it was inevitable that smokers would flock back indoors to get away from the disapproving school-frik types.

According to my favourite gutter-press and yellow journalism courant, the Telegraaf newspaper:

"Het rookverbod in de horeca wordt steeds vaker genegeerd. De nieuwe Voedsel en Waren Autoriteit (nVWA) trof in september in 51 procent van de kroegen en discotheken rokers aan."

[Translation: The smoking prohibition in the HoReCa (hotel - restaurant - café sector) is being ignored more and more often. The new Food and Goods Authority (nVWA) encountered smokers in 51% of the pubs and discotheques.]


From the above we can deduce that non-smokers, though strident and unbearable, are not really a significant market-segment for many drinking establishments. Their success at belly-aching the smokers out of doors or otherwise making life unbearable for their fellow humans extends to only half of the bars.

"In andere horecagelegenheden - restaurants, hotels, cafetaria's, sportkantines, theaters - wordt het rookverbod nog wel goed nageleefd. In 3 procent restaurants en sportkantines signaleerde de nVWA asbakken, in de overige gelegenheden lag het nog lager. "

[Translation: In other HoReCa businesses - restaurants, hotels, cafeterias, sport cantinas, theatres - the prohibition against smoking is better observed. In 3% of the restaurants and sport cantinas the nVWA did note ashtrays, in the other businesses it was even less.]

Not surprising - food and sport do not benefit from a smoking environments.

"Nog voor het rookverbod voor kleine eenmanszaken begin december werd afgeschaft, stonden ook in grote cafés de asbakken alweer op tafel, meldt de Volkskrant.
Waarschijnlijk is het aantal kroegen waar gerookt wordt nog groter. Horecaondernemers kennen verschillende trucs om de inspecties van de nVWA te ontlopen. Volgens voorzitter Ben Francooy van de FNV Horecabond komt de nVWA namelijk nooit na elf uur langs. In Bergen op Zoom waarschuwen ondernemers elkaar als er inspecteurs in de stad zijn."

[Translation: Even before the prohibition against smoking was lifted for small owner-operated businesses in early December, ashtrays were back on the tables in the larger cafes, according to the Volkskrant (blog-editorial comment: a better newspaper by far than the Telegraaf).
Probably the number of pubs where smoking occurs is far greater. HoReCa entrepreneurs are familiar with a number of tricks to circumvent nVWA inspections. According to chairman Ben Francooy of the HoReCa Association, the nVWA never comes by after eleven pm. In Bergen op Zoom, business owners warn each other when there are inspectors in the city.]

Predictably, the reader-reactions underneath the article in the Telegraaf are squawks of outrage - hysteric and indignant, well nigh foaming and blithering - by non smokers. They are infuritated that those evil smokers get to enjoy a cheerful smoke-filled atmosphere, while they themselves have to suffer a healthy environment, solitarily drinking themselves into oblivion in the comfort of their own homes.
Disgusting! The horror of it all!

My piles bleed for them.

Dutch bar owners found out that all those non-smokers who promised that they would become loyal drunkards the moment tobacco in bars was outlawed, and thus more than make up for the smokers who would stay away, actually stayed away themselves. There was no dramatic increase in business from the health-crowd. Instead, revenue plummeted. Non-smokers were far too busy sucking-up wheatgrass shakes and running on treadmills to socialize.
Dutch goat-wool sock knitting types avoid pleasure, and hardly ever drink.

Cafés in the Netherlands are places to get away from the stern disapproval of the puritans.
The idea that such places could overnight turn into crowded hang-outs for anti-social health freaks was absurd.


Here in the United States it's an entirely different matter. We have rigorously stamped out smoking in bars, and everyone is the better for it. Unlike the Dutch, we believe that our bodies are temples.
I am always impressed by the athletic physiques and clean habits of drinkers in bars in San Francisco - their ruddy good health always makes me feel less of a man. It's a constant source of awed gratitude for the care and concern shown us sinners by our fellow citizens.
Harsh laws are truly a blessing.

I furthermore regret that as a smoker I am forced to regularly go outside for fresh air, while they remain comfortably indoors sucking up each others' pheromones and imbibing without interruption, achieving a satisfactory level of insobriety far faster than we nicotine addicts are capable of.
Often, they end up so successfully sodden drunk that entire groups of them head off to commit unsafe sex with multiple partners in a taxi - something about which we tobacco fiends can only dream.

Since the smoking ban went into effect, bars in San Francisco have become wholesome happy places.
Bring your wife, bring your siblings, bring your kids!
The entire family can now get plastered in a safe healthy environment.

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Thursday, December 23, 2010


As Robin Williams would say, "gooood mooooooorning Peshawar!"
Gentlepersons, here’s a video that just demands dissemination:


Sung by the immortal Saad Haroon.

It’s a sweet sweet love song.

My heart was tickled to its very cockles, indeed.

Who says romance is dead?

Shabash, Saad-bhai, shabash!

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What does a half-crazed Dutch-American pipe-smoker want for Christmas? Someone asked, and even though I am the arch-type of bah-humbugger around this time of year, and vehemently opposed to celebrating the birthday of that overweight child molester in the red suit, I should probably answer.
Who knows, I may actually get what I want.

Most of it will be framed in the negative.


NO pipes - I own well over a hundred, I only smoke about twenty of them regularly, and I have picky taste. If you can find an unsmoked Comoys Blue Riband squat bulldog with no dings or scratches, fine. You won't, though.

NO tobacco - did I ever mention my stockpile? I've got more pipe-tobacco stashed away than you can shake a stick at. Besides, Balkan Sobranie (in the white tin, $300 and up on e-bay) hasn't been manufactured in years.

NO pornography - it only depresses me. Why is it that every girl in a smut-film has a vacant expression and tattoos? Can't they hire talented food-photographers, and clean happy women, to make nice light-hearted filth?

NO pajamas or socks - unless you are a small woman with bright eyes and a sense of humour I won't model them anyway. But you'd need a sense of humour - no amount of aesthetic blindness would help.

NO fruitcake - it makes me think of Texas, even if it's edible fruitcake - a contradiction in terms. What I use to keep the kitchen door from slamming open and shut during storms is actually an old sock filled with pebbles.

NO chocolate - I don't dislike chocolate at all. I eat it. All of it. Then I spend several hours kvetching about how I should NEVER have done so. Eaten it. All of it. At one fell swoop. I have no self control. That's your fault.

NO teapots - the last one I acquired cost a few hundred dollars - fine purple sand ware from China, made during the nineteenth century. A nice antique. The collection isn't perfect, but I really do not need another one.

NO video-games - electronic masturbation isn't my thing. Running around killing aliens and collecting magic weapons is just a metaphor for dealing with a messed-up love-life or teenage sexual frustration.

NO dried fruits - do you know what those do to the depressed fifty-year old Dutch-American digestive system? The only fruits I eat are chilies and tomatoes. Oh, and eggplant. Plus maraschinos in my Manhattans.

NO Santa dolls - did I ever mention my adventures with voodoo? A Santa doll would have needles stuck in it, burning matches applied to the beard, limbs torn off, and vile curses chanted at it in lugubrious tones.

Bah. Humbug.

See? Isn't that simple?

The whole 'Fat-Red-Pervert' holiday is so easy, once you follow my instructions.
Tell your folks, tell your friends. Thanks to me your holiday stress is gone.

I intend to grumble, scowl, and smoke my pipe all weekend. With several cups of tea.
Perhaps I'll obsessively read and reread all the most degenerate passages in Nabokov.
Really, spending Christmas with Ada and Van Veen doing dirty things will be just perfect.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
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Wednesday, December 22, 2010


An organization styling itself Shari4Holland recently called on the Dutch Muslims to rise up and impose Sharia in the Netherlands - by violent means if necessary.

In reader-feedback underneath a Telegraaf article concerning Sharia4Holland, this comment stood out:

"Graag even uw aandacht voor het volgende: Ik ben moslim woon hier al 35 jaar, ben in Nederland opgegroeid en mijn vader was hier gastarbeider. Hij heeft dit land mee helpen opbouwen. Ik hou van dit land om wat die is. Democratisch, vrijheid van meningsuiting enz. Dat doet Wilders ook, vaak erg hard ook, jammer genoeg, omdat hij iedereen over 1 kam scheert. Ik zeg daarom: Nederland is ook mijn land en GEEN SHARIA, OOK NIET IN MAROKKO, waar ik geboren ben. Onze stem (gematigde moslims) hoort niemand. HELAAS! HELP!!"Rachid Sharif, Roermond 20:55 22.12.10END QUOTE.

('Wilders wishes to ban Shariaclub')
"DEN HAAG - PVV-leider Geert Wilders wil dat de extremistische groepering Sharia4Holland verboden wordt en dat de leden worden uitgezet. De politicus reageert daarmee op de oproep van de groepering dat moslims in Nederland ten strijde moeten trekken om de streng islamitische wetgeving in te voeren. "[But refer also to this article: 'Maak islamitische staat van Nederland
'Make Islamic State of the Netherlands' - Detailing the call to impose Sharia by force. ]

"Your attention please for the following: I am a Muslim residing here 35 years already, raised in the Netherlands (and) my father was a guestworker. He helped build this country. I love this country because of what it is. Democratic, freedom of opinion, etcetera. Wilders does so as well, often very stridently too, more's the pity, because he generalizes. So I say: The Netherlands is also my country and NO SHARIA, NOR IN MOROCCO EITHER where I was born. Our voice (moderate Muslims) is not heard by anyone. Alas! Help! "

There are already 753 comments underneath the article about Geert Wilders calling for their expulsion. Most writers tend toward extreme and intolerant, several are off their rocker entirely and clearly present a danger to public order and the safety of their less melanin-deprived fellow-citizens.
A disturbingly large percentage are psychopaths.

[UPDATE December 23rd, at 9:43 AM Pacific Time: 869 comments. Overwhelming majority of which are rabidly anti-Muslim, most of them completely irrational.]

There are hardly any comments by Dutch Muslims there - not surprising, as they are less than 6% of the population, and few of them would wish to read the Telegraaf. There are better newspapers.

Rachid Sharif, there is no need to worry - Sharia4Holland represents a minute fraction of a minority.
There are hundreds of thousands of Muslims in the Netherlands. The number of liberal, free-thinking, college educated Muslims in Amsterdam alone outnumbers all the mal-adjusted loonies and nutballs who think like Shari4Holland by a fare-thee-well.
Islamic law in Holland just ain't likely.

The problem is that much is made of basket-cases like Sharia4Holland by paranoid types and rabble-rousers, NO attention is given to people who lead quiet middle-class lives and don't make waves.

Moroccan-Dutch petty crime? That's news, and angry rhetoric. It sells copies of De Telegraaf.
Sane and stable Moroccan-Dutch householder paying taxes? No, sorry folks, that just isn't interesting. Perhaps if he bit someone, or won a talent show?

Frankly, I worry less about the six percent of the population who are Muslim than about the beer-sodden bigots and weed-crazed illiterates among the native Dutch; Geert Wilders et al.
There's just so darned many of them.

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In the comments under a post over on another blog, Tzipporah suggested that the type of women I prefer look anorexic. Not that they actually were anorexic, just that they looked it. While being able to tuck away twice what a chubby OJ downs at seudah shlishi.

That isn't strictly accurate. But I do indeed prefer a woman with a healthy appetite.

[My ex weighs 96 LBS. That is not anorexic, just small. Fine boned, ring-size 3¼. She shops in the boys department for shirts and jeans. But she eats twice as much as I do. Easily.]

I like sharing food - which cannot be done with someone who obsesses about her weight, nor with someone who has culinary blinkers and avoids everything which is good to eat.
Food-wise, and intellectually, there has to be a critical thoughtfulness. If a woman cannot hold her own, how on earth can one talk with her? And if she turns up her nose at too many foods, dining becomes dull.

A woman with brains and an appetite is infinitely more desirable than any amount of Marilyn Monroe or Shirley Temple.

This, you will understand, easily raises a question: where and how is a presently single blogger going to find another woman to share his life?

It's a pressing problem. My social life and daily ambit are not conducive to ever finding someone else.

Especially as there are NO WOMEN in San Francisco!

Leastways, no suitable women - what we have is either very self-impressed Wasps from back east or the Midwest, many of whom are far! too! good! for anyone out here, or pierced and tattooed unique individualists who are 'rebels' and 'artists'. As well as being from back east or the Midwest. There is a substantial overlap between the self-impressed and the tattooed.
We also have a lot of women who are into shopping, shoes, handbags, and Hello Kitty - cute but scary as all gitout.
Plus pot-heads and strung-out meth freaks (see overlap mentioned above).

The number of eligible young ladies is so utterly small as to be invisible.
And obviously they're hiding from us presently single bloggers.

The other question is what do I have to offer a woman?

I am not sure that I can answer that question. Though still full of piss and vinegar, I am no longer particularly fresh. Savage Kitten insists that I'm a dashed handsome young fellow - but this is the same person who at times called me a 'crazy old git'.
I'm not exactly social either. My favourite activities are reading, taking walks, and heading out to an Indian restaurant with someone for a spot of curry (which I haven't done in many months).
Occasionally I will disappear to smoke a pipe, and late in the evening I may pop out for a nightcap.
Despite my ex's assertion that I am eccentric to the bone, you can see from what I have outlined that I am refreshingly normal, pedestrian even. This entire blog is a testament to that fact.
A talent for perverse affection and buying flowers does not add up to any great charisma.

This blogger is hardly the most exciting or promising prospect for any woman.

So, other than gluing my nose to a health club window, joining a cult, or lurking near a high school with a cooler full of bubblegum vodka and several chilled cocktail glasses, I am at a loss.

Suggestions - especially creative, snarky, or off-the-wall suggestions, are positively welcomed.
Not that I'm willing to try anything to find a mate, but I really could do with a good laugh.

[Of course, if YOU could do with a good laugh, you could go over to Treppenwitz for some necrotic dog colon. Don't ask.]

Please leave comments. Thank you.

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010


There is probably no need to know how it came about, but this blogger has been enjoying Turkish military marches on the internet. Given that Ottoman military bands (mehterane, mehter takimi) were of great influence on European martial music, you might be interested in the representative examples below.
Note especially the Janissary style clothing in some of the videos.


Yürekler kabarık, gözlerde damla,
Mehteri saygıyla dur da selâmla.
Bir huşû içinde dinle gülbanki
Sesleniyor tarih, bu ses o yankı.

Sen böyle yürürken tuğla sancakla.
Türk'ün savaşları geliyor akla.

Asırlar boyunca çınladı serhat.
Doğu'dan Batı'ya Yemen Belgrat.
Duyarak bakışan gözler görüyor.
Fatih Topkapı'dan sehre giriyor.

Sen böyle yürürken tuğla sancakla.
Türk'ün savaşları geliyor akla.


Ey şanlı ordu,ey şanlı asker,
Haydi gazanfer, umman-ı safter;
Bir elde kalkan, bir elde hançer,
Serhadde doğru ey şanlı asker.

Deryada olsa herşey muzaffer,
Dillerde tekbir, Allahü ekber.

Allahü ekber, Allahü ekber,
Ordumuz olsun daim muzaffer.

Ey şanlı ordu,ey şanlı asker,
Haydi gazanfer, umman-ı safter;
Bir elde kalkan, bir elde hançer,
Serhadde doğru ey şanlı asker.

Deryada olsa herşey muzaffer,
Dillerde tekbir, Allahü ekber.

Allahü ekber, Allahü ekber;
Ordumuz olsun daim muzaffer.


Probably the most well-known of the mehter marches. Also one of the oldest.

Ceddin deden, neslin baban.
Hep kahraman Türk milleti.
Ordularin, pekçok zaman.
Vermistiler dünyaya san.
Türk milleti, Türk milleti,
Ask ile sev milliyeti,
Kahret vatan düsmanini,
Çeksin o melun zilleti.


The title appended to this youtube simple means mehter march. Hardly an enlightening description. There are a number of different versions - this one has spunk and pizzazz.

Gâfil ne bilir neş've-i pür-şevk-i vegâyı,
Meydân-ı celâdetteki envar-ı sefâyı ,
Meydân-ı celâdetteki envar-ı sefâyı !
Merdân-ı gazâ aşk ile tekbir tekbirler alınca,
Titretti yine, rû-yı zemin arş-ı semâyı.

Allah yolunda cenk edelim şân alalım şan,
Kur'an'da zafer va’adediyor Hazret'i Yezdan;
Allah yolunda cenk edelim şân alalım şan,
Kur'an'da zafer va’adediyor Hazret'i Yezdan.

So far it is quite my favourite of all the mehter marches that I've heard.

As a lagniappe, here's a fascinating hybrid:


This the famous Russian war song as performed by Ottoman Military Band and Red Army Choir ("kizil ordu korosu" - 'the chorus of the crimson horde').
The tune should be thoroughly familiar to the Italians among my readers, as it is the same tune as the partisan hymn 'Fischia il vento'.
Which, like nearly everything in this world, is also on Youtube.

And yes, I will at some point in the near-future sharpen up my Turkish skills. They've grown quite rusty since the time that I was playing "hunt the Arabic and Persian borrowings" in dictionaries of the Indian and Central Asian languages.


For the history buffs, here are the 'New Manzikert March' and the 'Old Manzikert March' respectively:


Aylardan ağustos güünlerden cuma,
Gün doğmadan evvel iklim-i ruma,
Öztürkler ordusu geçti hücuma,
Yeni bir şevk ile gürledi gökler.

Ya allah bismillah allahu ekber,
Ya allah bismillah allahu ekber .

Türk ulu tanrının soylu gözdesi,
Malazgirt bizansın türk'e secdesi,
Bu ses insanlığa hakk'ın müjdesi,
Bu sesle birleşir bütün yürekler.

Ya allah bismillah allahu ekber,
Ya allah bismillah allahu ekber.


Bir Cuma sabahı, Allah'a karşı,
Malazgirt'te ellidörtbin er,
Ellidörtbin er, ellidörtbin er,
Söylemişler en güzel marşı.

Allahü ekber, Allahü ekber,
Allahü ekber, Allahü ekber,
Allahü ekber, Allahü ekber,
Allahü ekber, Allahü ekber.

Battle of Manzikert (August 26, 1071 CE) was the beginning of the end of the Eastern Christian Empire, and consequently one of the main events that eventually forced the end of the Middle Ages.

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Yesterday I sent off two packages that were mostly bubble-wrap.
A porcelain bowl to my uncle and aunt in Canada, and a large ceramic plate to my second-cousin who got married this past year. There was, of course, a holiday-inspired reason.

I’ve never seen my second cousin (I think the correct term is actually first-cousin-and-a-half; he’s the son of my uncle's daughter the brilliant mediaeval scholar). Though I was invited to the wedding, making the long trek from California to Martha's Vineyard to be among three hundred well-bred strangers was too daunting a prospect. We know each other, and we know of each other. He is a Harvard chap, film maker, super intelligent. Facebook friend.
Just no real-world contact yet.

But I have actually met my uncle and aunt in Canada.


Every year they call and ask when Savage Kitten and I will visit for the holidays, or visit them in Massachusetts for summer. They are yearningly sincere in their invitations.
But it will probably never happen; each year it is more unlikely than the last.
Not because of the split between Savage Kitten and myself (even though that would necessitate two separate rooms), nor that the Christian hue to the feast conflicts with my own personal hashkofo, but primarily because right around the holidays I turn into a werewolf.

I am not holidayish.
In the slightest.
Bah humbug .

It’s about the kids.
My cousins are all happily married producers of offspring. Children ranging in age from shrieking infant to young adult. Multiple young adults.
I am their parents' age. Technically that makes me an old fart.
The prospect of being introduced to several younger persons as 'uncle Atboth' frightens the crap out of me.

I do not think of myself as 'avuncular' in the slightest, and would vastly prefer to be the disreputable male relative whom we never talk about in front of the little ones.
Not the kindly and respectable kinsman whom we are glad to include in our warm family gathering this joyous season, but the rowdy eccentric who jacked a police-cruiser and spun wheelies in the town square, the bad man who invited a bunch of cheerful strippers over on Christmas night to drink egg-nog out of your finest crystal and sleep in your living room.

Really, I'm just not uncle material.
I don't feel like it.
Please hide your teenagers - they are a bad influence.


Dogs and cats like me. Either they recognize a kindred spirit, or they are just being patronizing. Children are the same way.
It's probably the smell.

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Several years ago I had a coworker down the peninsula who would leave work related voicemails on people's answering machines all weekend...