Friday, July 30, 2010


Apparently I have been smoking rat poison. No, I am nowhere near squeaking my last, but I am just a little disconcerted.

If I were a rat, I would be suffering internal bleeding by now. And probably croaking "take the boat, Cletus, I fear I cannot go with you".
Or something like that.

The substance in question stimulates macrophages to degrade extracellular albumen, which permits quicker resorption of edematous fluids. It is toxic to liver and kidneys, though only moderately so.

Unless you are a rat.

"Stay away from the flake, Ruby, they've spiked it!"
The way rats metabolize it, it causes internal haemorrhage. The little buggers bleed to death inside.

"Alas, my multitudinous furry grandchildren, I will never see them gnawing through electrical wires again! Woe!"


Coumarin is often found in tobacco products and artificial vanilla substitutes, despite having been banned as a food additive in numerous countries since the mid-20th century. Coumarin was banned as a food additive in the United States in 1978. OSHA considers this compound to be only a lung-specific carcinogen, and "not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans". Coumarin was banned as an adulterant in cigarettes by tobacco companies in 1997, but due to the lack of reporting requirements to the US Department of Health and Human Services it was still being used as a flavoring additive in pipe tobacco. [WIKIPEDIA]

Man, this stuff tastes good! I can thoroughly understand why rats smoke it, it's ultra fine!
I am ... slightly dizzy.

"Although coumarin has no anticoagulant activity, it is transformed to the natural anticoagulant dicoumarol by a number of species of fungi. This proceeds through production of 4-hydroxycoumarin, then further (in the presence of naturally occurring formaldehyde) into the actual anticoagulant dicoumarol, a fermentation product and mycotoxin."


Coumarin is an extractive from the Tonka Bean used as a flavouring. It is what gives Samuel Gawith's 1792 Flake its famous and peculiar perfume.
The tobacco itself is also very fine. This a very old-fashioned product with considerable charm.

This is what the tree and the beans look like:

Tonka Beans are discussed in terms easily understood by food mavens on this webpage:

It is reminiscent of vanilla, freshly mown hay, rootbeer, and perhaps also cinnamon, bitter almond, and cloves. An old fashioned fragrance, not particularly sweet.

1792 Flake renders down to a soft and fine ash, and can be smoked without fear of tongue bite. Because of the relatively high nicotine content the smoker may be woozy afterwards, and if too much is smoked the effects can be quite like a wallop to the head. So sit down.
I highly recommend it - but you may have difficulty finding it in the United States since tobacco was placed under the authority of the Food and Drug Administration.

You should probably just smuggle it in - got any relatives going overseas?


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

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Actually, not angst. There is NO angst, more like a lack thereof. A dearth or void of anything remotely 'angstig'. A baffling lack of angstigkeit entirely.
A disappointing insufficiency of angst.

You see, on a mailinglist that I thoughtlessly joined awhile back, it has been revealed that I am not Jewish.
This infuriated at least one individual - a kahanist and Eretz-Yisroel hashleimanik. Two weeks ago that person said "must I allow my ideals be bulldozed by his twisted sense of justice just because he's a gentile who comes out to rallies?".

[Given that you never come to rallies......, maybe yes?]


Golly, Batman, I had NO idea that common sense and reason were bulldozing your ideals.
What, pray tell, are those ideals?

"American values do not apply to Jews and Israel.
I honestly don't see the difference between someone on 'our' side demanding "justice" for Israel's Arab citizens and our opponents who essentially demand the same."

Well, there IS a fundamental difference, namely that the Arab citizen of Israel who obeys the law should be treated the same as any other citizen, the Jew who doesn't should be prosecuted as any other citizen.
Equal treatment, equal justice, and equal rights (very fundamental Jewish concepts, nota bene) - once you throw these out of the window, my dear Batman, you lose all claim to a moral high ground. American values do indeed apply to Jews and Israel - we aren't Europe, nor is Israel the Arab world.

Our opponents are demanding the destruction of Israel, more or less - what they chose to call it is immaterial, and mere propaganda in any case.
It certainly isn't 'justice'.

It would appear, however, that the fundamental flaw in my ability to see things from Batman's perspective is that I was "well taught in criticizing Torah from a Christian perspective".


I've been called everything from a baby-killing Jew-nazi to a kike racist and christkiller AND a rabid rightwing Christian fundamentalist.
My side has been characterized as everything from dictatorial rightwingers all the way through Stalinist leftwingers.
We are also violent Zionists, according to members of the other side.

All this in addition to being 'neurotic, dysfunctional, and delusional'.

"Well taught in criticizing Torah from a Christian perspective"

Now I'm a Christian Torah-critic. In addition to all that other good stuff.

Gosh darn it, folks, I'm wearing so many hats that my neck is crooked.
The only possible conclusion I can jump to is that I am an extremely talented and multi-facetted individual, just about filled with surprises. I'm so warm inside I could just kvell! No wonder I am entirely 'angst-free'!
As are we all.

Keep watching this site for more surprising revelations.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


As an ‘approchement’ to the anti-tobacco fiends fanatics who insisted that firmly closed tins of pipe tobacco in my area offended their delicate sensibilities, I have taken much home, and put the rest away. My desk is at present free of tobacco. Now, can I demand that they stop drenching themselves with cheap-ass perfume?
I think I can.
But it would probably be more politic not to.

Among the tobaccos which have disappeared from sight, due to coworker fascism, are several tins of Samuel Gawith – products of a very fine and ancient company, which has brought far more joy to humanity than any number of wheat-germ snarfing health Nazis.

But this of course brings up a question: What kind of pipe tobacco person are you?

I have prepared a little list. Please choose for yourself which product best describes you.
I am keen to know you better.


Samuel Gawith 1792 Flake
A dark pressed steamed Virginia flake aromatized with Tonquin oil. Strong and robust, must be smoked really slowly. [CLICK]
You are a sleek young miss with a very bright smile, round-faced but with sparkling eyes. Your panties (‘bikini briefs’) are probably electric pink. Like many Chinese girls, you like lobster.

Samuel Gawith Balkan Flake
Dark and fragrant, rich with Latakia. This is a luxurious product, which renders down to a fine white ash. [CLICK]
If you smoke this, you probably like flawless English pipes with two-tone staining, along with silken jammies, lace panties, and ruffles in surprising places. Your spectacles help you look more sweet and innocent than you actually are, but evenso you don’t want to upset your parents. They just don’t know about the pipe-tobacco you've got hidden in the giant plush Hello Kitty on your bed.

Samuel Gawith Commonwealth Mixture
Half aged Virginia, half Latakia. A smoky straightforward product. Full-bodied, for the tweed and leather type. Perfect for foggy evenings. [CLICK]
You have thick shoulder-length hair and a high forehead. You read mystery novels, although occasionally you can be found laughing yourself sick over Barbara Cartland romances. You speak Mandarin better than Cantonese, which displeases your aunties no end. Bad girl!

Samuel Gawith Full Virginia Flake
Brown pressed flue-cured tobacco, medium strength. One of the best flakes on the market right now, along with G. L. Pease’s Union Square. A must for all Virginia smokers. [CLICK]   
A quiet little miss, demurely dressed. You favour dark skirts and pale blouses, and you look absolutely fabulous(!) wearing pearls - sometimes you wear nothing else. Home cooking is what you prefer – shrimp paste stuffed beancurd, steamed pork with salt fish, cold poached chicken with shredded ginger.

Samuel Gawith Grousemoor
Blonde ribbons made fragrant with an old-fashioned essence first used in snuff. An excellent product, for what it is, though it will not appeal to very many pipe aficionados. This is like smoking history. [CLICK]
You may come to a bad end, OR you’ll publish your first novel before you’re twenty. Either way, there is a depth to you quite out of keeping with your parents and classmates conceptions. You probably also read licentious literature in several languages. You own only one bra – you have given up on the idea of ever growing into it. That’s where you keep the tobacco, the sand-blast Sasieni, and the Comoy.

Samuel Gawith Skiff Mixture
Mild to medium English-Balkan. More Virginias than one would expect. Slightly heretical. The type of mixture that both young persons as well as old grumps can enjoy. [CLICK]
You are most comfortable in blue-jeans and sweaters. Sometimes athletic. You’ve probably got your hair in a ponytail. When you help out at your parents drygoods store you are friendly with all customers, including the old aunties who only speak hometown dialect, and the elderly uncles who call you ‘leng nui’. BBs.

Samuel Gawith Squadron Leader
The classic English-Balkan with a definite Turkish presence. Redolant and stinky, a profoundly satisfying smoke. Guaranteed to offend pretentious dipwads. Damn good stuff. [CLICK]
One of the most sparkling little ladies around, equally comfortable in jeans or skirts. Saucy, but very intelligent and sensible. You have kissable looking lips and you blush easily. Unlike the rest of your family you also like hotsauce with your food, not just that dab of oyster sauce or hoisin. You even like northern dishes!

Samuel Gawith Saint James Flake
Pressed Virginias and Perique. Strong but smooth, pleasantly sweet. This is the classic vaper. Sophisticated without being froofy or ‘la’. A remarkable product, a real smoke. [CLICK]
Not a day goes by that you don’t have a strong cappuccino or espresso. Yes, you are full of beans. If you were old enough to drink, you would favour brandy. You visit your auntie in C'town everyday – she finds your pipe smoking enchanting, because it reminds her of when she still lived in Hong Kong, sneaking out to party at night. Her oldest friend says the fragrance reminds her of a Shanghainese gentleman caller long ago.

Samuel Gawith Westmoreland Mixture
Virginias, Cavendish, and maybe 30% Latakia. Unusual by American standards, but never the less not uncommon across the pond. A pleasant smoke that some others will sneer at, even though there is nothing wrong with the product – it just doesn’t suit them. A few lucky smokers will find this delightful and exactly what the doctor ordered. It is. [CLICK]
Slim and lithe, with top grades in school. Lowell High is proud of you, and Berkeley can’t wait. But you’ll probably end up at Harvard. Underneath your clothes you wear undies trimmed with lace, because it feels good. Your long long hair is always tied in a ponytail. When tourists ask you anything you often pretend not to speak English. Just because.

See? Scope for everyone. And if you run out of tobacco, I can always give you some. Just look for me when you’re lurking near the tobacco store or in an alleyway up from Stockton Street, and you and I can enjoy a pleasant pipe together.
This is NOT an obscene proposition.


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

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Earlier a rumour reached me that one or two coworkers may be upset over the fact that they can smell tobacco.
I am the culprit.
See, whenever I go outside to indulge, I cover myself with a foul miasma, an odeur, a reek infernal.

A rugged manly smell. Tobacco.

Personally, I think I smell fine. Kind of old-fashioned, traditional.

When nobody is watching, I sniff deeply of my own fine perfume.

Mmmm. Nice!

It's rather like the delicate fragrance of the alloys that manufacturers used to use for drafting equipment. Something with a high nickel content, which gave the metal a hardness and a sheen. Not like that cheap German crap.

I can also smell ink - the kind of ink that had a slight acidic component. Not the sourness of a gallic acid liquid, nor the oxidized smell that such heavy inks had. More like the ethereal wiff of Namiki (Kabushiki Kaisha Pairotto Koporeshon) intense blue-black - slightly chemical, slightly resinous. Lovely.

Everybody should smell like this.
It's better than Brut. Emmes.
Buckets of real women are falling at my feet, I tell you.

Monday, July 26, 2010


The local cigar store is converting the lounge area back to actual shop space. And this has peeved the cigar smokers no end. They are livid. They are doleful. They are wounded.

But most of all, they are teenagers. Not real teenagers, you understand, but emotional teenagers.
They feel that that is their treehouse, their space. Why is the world being so cruel to them?

More to the point, why are the owners of the store being so cruel?

For the past week, over a dozen middle-aged men have been monotonously whining.

Oh, the agony and heartache!


Simply put, guys, it's because you're all a bunch of putzes. Opinionated, juvenile, and, in many cases, staggeringly ignorant. Your collective intelligence is rather horrendously dumber than a load of bricks. It is quite likely that the owners were sick and tired of listening to the same old potty humour, worn out vulgarities, and appreciative wolf-grunts about passing women.

I gave up dropping by the store on Saturdays precisely because your conversations were so predictable. Even back when I still came, I hid in the corner near the back smoking my pipe, far away from your idiotic chatter and your big fat rumps wearing potholes in the comfy chairs near the window.
For the same reason I no longer drop by in the evening.

Individually many of you are rather decent chaps.

As a group, however, you really suck.

Plus you look funny and you eat too much.

So yes, I have no problem with the owners converting it back to a mercantile use, and actually making money from space for which they pay rent.
During the day, when it is time for my smoke break, I will still load up a pipe and saunter over. And as usual, after making my daily purchase, I will lean against the back wall, not saying much, perhaps not saying anything at all.
Just me, a fine piece of briar, and a stinky Oriental blend.

No ribald comments about the racks or dumptrucks of passing women, no drivel about ball games, no ridiculous rightwing comments about Obama.

Get over it, boys.
Take some valium for your shaken nerves, have therapy for the trauma if that is really necessary. And fercrapsakes stop weeping!
Buy a book. Find a girl friend. Get a life.
Grow up.

Friday, July 23, 2010


For the last six months a number of Orthodox rabbis and educators have been preparing a statement of principles on the place of our brothers and sisters in our community who have a homosexual orientation.
---From the intro to 'Statement of Principles on the Place of Jews with a Homosexual Orientation in Our Community'

The full statement can be read here: SOPOTPOJWAHOIOC!

There are the usual codicillaries about heterosexual sex, and affirmations that from the point of view of halacha only marriage between a man and a woman provides a legitimate outlet for sexual urges.

What is truly admirable is that they encourage full participation by the homosexual orthodox Jew in the life of the community, and encourage him or her to remain a committed Jew in all other ways possible.

"Jews with a homosexual orientation or same sex attraction, even if they engage in same sex interactions, should be encouraged to fulfill mitzvot to the best of their ability. All Jews are challenged to fulfill mitzvot to the best of their ability ... "

"The question of whether sexual orientation is primarily genetic, or rather environmentally generated, is irrelevant to our obligation to treat human beings with same-sex attractions and orientations with dignity and respect."

Additionally, a person's sexual orientation is none of your damn' business:
"Jews struggling to live their lives in accordance with halakhic values need and deserve our support. Accordingly, we believe that the decision as to whether to be open about one's sexual orientation should be left to such individuals, who should consider their own needs and those of the community. We are opposed on ethical and moral grounds to both the “outing” of individuals who want to remain private and to coercing those who desire to be open about their orientation to keep it hidden."

I encourage you to read the statement, and to bring it to the attention of friends and family. Especially if there are members of your shul who STILL subscribe to the redder necked attitudes.

Please note: for future reference the entire text is also pasted on TOSOTL here: STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLES ON THE PLACE OF JEWS WITH A HOMOSEXUAL ORIENTATION IN OUR COMMUNITY

Thursday, July 22, 2010


The invading soldiers crossed the bridge and entered the forest of Banam Kurong in late afternoon, arriving at the orphanage before dusk. A heated discussion with the abbot of Pr(e)i Wihar turned into a shouting match. When the aged Buddhist monk slapped the commanding officer, all hell broke loose. Within minutes the soldiers were all over the monastery, bludgeoning and hacking the children who had sheltered there since the early years of the war.

When they had finished their slaughter they forced those who could still stumble, both monks and the young, to slop petrol over floors littered with dead and dying, and walls splattered with blood. Then they torched the place. Victims who tried to escape the buildings were machine-gunned. Many were already badly burnt when they were shot.

By late night the last flames died down, leaving charred corpses and collapsed walls. There were only two survivors - a human and a dog.

On a low hill a few miles outside the forest the commanding officer, still smarting at the effrontery of the bonze, gave a speech to his troops. "The children deserved to die. They were given a test - to reject the bourgeois values that bound them to a feudal order and in service to mere monks. They failed that test miserably! Had it been otherwise, they would have risen up and enslaved their masters. We had no choice, they were too corrupt to live."
He was absolutely correct.

Dawn, brutal and bright. Curls of oily smoke still drifted in the dark between the trees.


Last night, Savage Kitten and I went out to dinner at a local dhabba. It was heavenly - the murgh makhni was buttery and rich, the palak paneer creamy and divinely spiced, the masaladar bhengan textural and garlicky. Especially that last dish was to die for - eggplant chunks of just the right dimension, gepriggelt in ghee, with ginger, methi leaves, fennel, turmeric, coriander, dark toasted cumin. And garlick. Lots of garlic.
Perfect to enfold in fluffy naan, pulled apart with burning fingers.
Toothsome, oleaginous, aromatic.

Plus machli pakora and thick sweet lassi.

We may have eaten just a bit too much. It was extremely good.

By ten o'clock mild twinges of gout made themselves felt. Not bad enough to keep me awake..... and that, you see, was the problem.

Sleep was not quite peaceful repose.

It's strange what your mind does when it dreams - the uncontrolled id takes stimuli and interprets them the easiest way possible, forming images and sensations that are illogical in tandem, but make complete sense by themselves. The result is that you experience events which are unreal, and often unrealistic.
This dream, however, was very real. The images were extremely lucid, the sensations vibrantly painful.
When I woke up I could still smell petrol.

It's been a while since I last dreamt in the Tamarao language.

Savage Kitten also slept badly, and also dreamed of an orphanage. But her dream was far sweeter, albeit equally disturbing - someone had given her teddy bear to an orphanage, and she was determined to get Ms. Bruin back.
Even if she had to burn down the place to do so.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


When I still worked at the Indian restaurant I witnessed several food fights. It's an Indian thing.
Food is worth fighting for, over, about.

Or with.

Several years ago, the vile South Indian woman who worked at the restaurant where I was the khazanchi got into a screaming match with the Punjabi headwaiter. Not unusual, except that this time she grabbed a bucket of rice pudding and dumped it over his head in front of a full house.
It was a busy evening - over a hundred and fifty people stared, mesmerized, at what appeared to be a hysterical yeti made out of creamy white goo.


Rice pudding, as everyone knows, is border-line sacramental.
In many parts of India, mothers will leave a bowl of fresh rice pudding out during Sharad Purnima (full moon festival, late September early October) to absorb goodness, which will be eaten for breakfast or as a snack the next day. At temples, the volunteers make it by first putting ghee in the pot, and only then adding the milk, sugar, rice, saffron, and cardamom. Ghee is THE great purifier, which cleanses everything it touches. Even if a lower caste person made the rice pudding, provided ghee was the first thing in the pot it can be eaten by higher castes as prasadam.

If there are important caste-differences, food cooked with lots of ghee is still acceptable.
Though it helps if the cook is a higher caste than the diner.

[A kshatria or a Brahman is by definition higher than a bania, and many Northwestern Indians take it for granted that they outrank Gujaratis and Southerners. Many Gujus, on the other hand, will not readily eat food prepared outside their caste, unless they are desperate for dhokla. It happens.]

Naturally, ghee is also the favourite Indian unguent. Condition your hair with ghee, for that lustrous sheen. Rub it on rough skin, massage it into your aching back, or drench your hot rice with it. Heck, bathe in it, it's that good. And it feels so niiiiiiice! Mmmmm, smoooooth!

You can even rub a leg of lamb vigorously with ghee and slow slow roast it till the meat falls off the bone. Pakwaan, yaar!


I bring this up, because Savage Kitten has been reading a book set in India. There are terms in it like sabjiwallah (vegetable seller), dhobi-machine (clothes washer), colony (gated community), wheatish complexion, kindly (please), and others not quite clear.
As well as 'greasy chili pakoras', 'sugary laddoo', 'ghee-drenched sweeties', 'tazi chai garma-garm', 'murghi kabab', 'rotli', 'poori', 'murabbat', 'falooda', 'pista barfi', 'pao bhaji', 'tender goat curry', 'chicken cutlet', 'fried ladies fingers', etcetera.

Being anywhere near her while she reads is interesting - she drools.
When she sleeps, I can hear her mumbling things like "just a little more imli, please", and "why yes, a tall glass of tyre WOULD be nice".

She's been really jonesing for Indian food.
So tonight we are going out to dinner.
They have the best naan at a nearby restaurant.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


My significant other, who is referred to on this blog as 'Savage Kitten', often produces odd things. Years ago she posted a flyer for a fictitious restaurant up and down the block where my office was located, advertising 'Round Rhonda's Midnight Eats'. Coming soon! Lard Puffs, Cornmeal Cheese and Bacon Fritters, Creamed Crawdaddy Pockets, Blue Cheese Pulled-Pork Po'Boys, Zesty Cajun Oyster Béchamel Shakes ......

Apparently Round Rhonda intended everyone to die of exploding heart. Something involving mega amounts of bad cholesterol, scarfed down after dark when you were really jonesing.

"Ya, that gooooood! Make you slap yo' mama!"

Many of my coworkers were bitterly disappointed that Round Rhonda's never opened. Engineers are a ravenous lot.

In a similar vein, she recently sent me an advertisement. She wrote it as an msword formatting exercise, but I really wish it were real.

To: Manny O’Hara
From: Scarlett Cohen

Redneck Adventures for Two

Begin your fabulous Redneck Adventures for Two by selecting your choice on the list. The most popular are highlighted in red. These outings have received rave reviews of 4.5 stars or above. A typical review is “God, I never thought people lived that way!!!”

Major categories of adventures include culinary, fashion, cultural and entertainment. Culinary adventures explore not only what types of critters are eaten, but how they are cooked to perfection, using natural resources within the region. 4 out of 5 of the Culinary adventures rank as Most Popular Adventures, prompting participants to say Thems Plumb Good Eatin’! Folks done said Thems Plumb Good Eatin'! so darn often that we now offer a package of those particular adventures at a discounted rate. The Thems Plumb Good Eatin'! package makes a wonderful birthday present for the persnickety. Truly, will a loved one be “surprised!” when chowing down on possum puddin’ cake.

As for our other adventures…fashion adventures make you rethink, for example, the versatility of printed flour sacks for unisex everyday wear. Cultural introduces you to music and handicrafts. Entertainment can embrace everything from shotguns to weddings. (Shotguns can include blunderbusses and other explosive weaponry, some handmade as shown in the Cultural Adventures.)

So if you’re feeling the ennui of “dang, but I’m soooooooooo bored with piss elegant livin’!!!” then my wussy friend, Redneck Adventures for Two will put some spark in your step again.

It’s our promise, dagnabbit, that you’ll come thru your adventure rethinking the meaning of life.

Culinary: 4.78
Fashion: 3.99
Cultural: 0.98
Entertainment: 4.



I don't know about you, but I'm all excited.
Stuff like this makes you realize how dull life normally is. Especially if, like Savage Kitten, you are a small Cantonese-American female with a burning yearning for new and interesting things to eat.

I wonder what's for dinner tonight.


Please note: We aren't really called Manny O'Hara and Scarlett Cohen. But in her world, we could be. Feel free to address us by those names.

Monday, July 19, 2010


Such a noisy bunch. They are banging around like a herd of buffalo, crashing into things, and emitting strange noises.

I am of course talking about the people mentioned in my previous post – now into day five of their departmental move. With as little progress to report as last week.


The brutal reek of industrial cleaning liquid comes wafting over from their new home - they must be using buckets of it. One of them is swearing, and there are the dulcet sounds of gagging - but they will disinfect if it is the last thing they do, even if it poisons the entire company.
On my way past I saw more desks in their area than there are people in their entire department. They have imperialistically occupied part of the common hallway, and blocked off the back of their area to prevent walk throughs.

I already mentioned that the Accounting Department completed its move in less than half a day, didn’t I? There are more of us, and we have more stuff.

[In addition to our files and boxes of papers, we also have an armadillo. A singing bunny rabbit. A dancing robot dressed like a member of Bay Area Women in Black. A wide-eyed plastic duck, a wooden monkey, and a giant rubber lizard. A flock of noisy penguins. Things that go 'beep'. Several miniature porcupines, doggies, squirels, and assorted homunculi. Many tins of pipe-tobacco, plus a furry troll, a freak in a glass jar filled with brownish fluid, and a dissipated looking Mickey Mouse. ]

But we moved in mere hours, our brisk and businesslike efficiency proving that we are trained professionals. With quiet determination we went about our task, no disinfectant, no bleach, no swearing.
No thumping or frantic wails.

No territorial ambitions about the hallway.

A Chinese-American woman with a fluffy black horsy is sitting across from me. She is unperturbed by the smoke and thunder emanating from the sterilized zone. Even if they break out in war chants, she will calmly continue her labours.
Unlike me, the howling of the hairy savages does not disturb her in the slightest.
I am in awe of her composure.

Good lord, something just crashed into the wall right behind me. Are they throwing furniture? It's going to be a long week. Our new neighbors have rabies.

More than ever, I am convinced that my department is far too normal.

Friday, July 16, 2010


There have been some departmental relocations in the company of late, a shifting of people and desks.

[Why are we doing this? Well, at the end of the day, the synergies we are trying to leverage and shifting paradigms we are hoping to target should allow us to raise the bar, think outside the box and drill down to our core competencies. Or something like that. Kler, nu?]

The Accounting Department completed its move in record speed – we shifted entire in one morning, and had ensconced ourselves in our new digs well before lunch. We’re now very comfy thank you, our files stowed safely, our tchatchkes all positioned, pipes, books and wooden monkey placed just so, the stuffed armadillo regally overlooking the ebb and flow of traffic down the centre aisle and guarding our labours.

The Sales Department, also due to move, did so only when they realized that we had made them look bad. They grumbled, and smashed things in their fury. But they moved. It took them two days longer than Accounting, despite their move being absolutely the shortest in the company (Accounting’s move was the furthest).
They had more action figures that needed to be arranged for maximum effect, you see.

The Operations department, however, is balking. They do NOT wish to move. At all.
It will put them too far away from the head. And the kitchen. And the water supply. Darnit, they LIKE their space! They’ve got cupcakes and a refrigerator there! Its home! And besides, they are way too busy, what with having to……. Say, what do those guys do anyhow?

It would take very little time for them to move – just load stuff from their desks into boxes, and carry it down the hall, dump it on the new desks. Wheel in the chairs. Arrange their tins of tea, canisters of chocolate, jars of coffee, boxes of bonbons and other kibble, plus cups, saucers, cake stands, fancy trays, and other oh so essential Operations supplies in the appropriate and commodious storage devices already provided.


Bitch bitch bitch. Bellyache, whine, kvetch, shrey, wail, and grumble. Postpone, delay, find excuses. The previous occupants left that section a mess! They didn’t finish moving their cheap shmatte out! There are scuff marks! Empty binders! Harsh lighting! It just isn’t right! Woe!

Yesterday one of them disinfected her new digs with bleach, stinking out the entire floor. Following which she hammered and banged things around for three hours. She vocally gnashed her teeth the while – I know, because my desk is within hearing distance (next section over).
Then the entire Ops department decided not to move until next week. Late next week.

Yes, I am looking forward to it. Honest I am.

It won't be so quiet here when they're finally in place.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


These are hard times. Sacrifices must be made. We're all well aware of that.

Notification received from our office manager:
"The first floor restrooms are now locked due to homeless coming in and using them. Since many of us also use these facilities I have requested keys (2 sets of each).
Please let me know if you have any other questions."

Oh good. What you really mean is that building security wasn't capable of telling worker bees and hobos apart.
How..... reassuring.

Actually, I shouldn't be so snippy. There are some right freaks in this neck of the woods, and many of them are gainfully employed. Perhaps other tenants just got too paranoid. Strange people flushing toilets? Yes, that's a profound cause for worry.

It must be those folks in the law-offices and investment houses on the lower floors. They look askance at the eccentrics who populate the upper elevations - many of us wear tie-dye tee shirts and rubber sandals, and good heavens, there's a large number of Indians on some floors! You know, those people! They talk computerese!
Engineers, freight expediters, book keepers, IT-wallahs, and archivists.
Things like these disturb nice middle-class suburbanites; such stuff is precisely what they don't like about the city.

Funky clothing. Foreigners and accents. People going to the bathroom.

It's all so very very very non-white.

What IS this world coming to?

It is time to retreat to the hills and guard the potty. Buy a gun. Put barbed-wire around your children, and scream at people. Do not let strangers poo!

In other news, slide rules and quills are no longer available at the local stationers.
Nor vellum either.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Earlier today another blogger made mention of Peysach. Which, of course, it’s nowhere near. Yet it is worth bringing up, because the seder is the quintessential Jewish meal. Yes, I know – some of you are going to mention shabbes, with either boiled chicken (old country) or brisket ('Neva-gyork Gorod') as being much more quintessential – or even gehakte leber / gefilte fish / kasha varnishkes etcetera – but really, the idea of a representative sampling of Jews sitting around and eating together without bellyaching is Peysach and ONLY Peysach.

Oh. Forget I said anything about kvetching. I wasn’t thinking. Sorry.

All those other foods I mentioned are also eaten by Gentiles. Even kasha – and significantly, there is NO mention of kasha anywhere in Torah, proving that it is an amhoretzishe treiferei, repolsiv im gonzen, un' vorem frestu aza shrikkelikke garbage?

Many other people also have signature ‘quintessence’ meals. But few groups have an entire attitude that goes with the eating together. Thanksgiving comes close, and I suppose for many Christmas dinner has an overlay of customs and essential elements that make it ethno-specific. But these have universal characteristics, and in the United States at least overlap several different groups – a temporary shared community.
Ritual, but not really fundamental.

One other group DOES have a strong and distinct shared meal attitude: the Cantonese.

Being able to eat together is the be-all and end-all of civilization. Punkt.

食嘢先!Eat first!

Nothing quite so cheers up and changes outlook for a Cantonese person as the prospect of food in company. It isn’t just hunger. In fact, hunger is unimportant entirely. Forget anything you may have read about a long history of famine and starvation, likewise that intellectualized crap about "have you eaten yet" being the common greeting because of a lack of sufficient food.
If food were mere sustenance, asking 'have you eaten yet' would make no sense. Just like the questions 'how do you do', 'how ya doing', and 'how’s it going' all assume that you actually are doing or experiencing, 'have you eaten yet' takes for granted that there is something positive that can be reported, and that you WILL eat. Food is the point of the query.

There are two characteristics that distinguish the Cantonese in the eyes of other Chinese: they have the most eloquent curses, and they are the most food-centered of all Chinese subcultures.

你食咗飯未呀?Nei sik-tzo fan mei ah?

Have you eaten yet? The answer tells the person who asked the question what the possibilities are. The acme of all socializing options for a Cantonese person is eating in company. Eat together, share food. Talk, boast, extend comfort, sing, nurture, nourish. Tell jokes. Weep, wail, complain about your in-laws and your children. Instruct the next generation while cherishing older people.
Put the shared food in the middle, everyone reach in and take what they need.

The popular choice for white people eating at a Chinese restaurant is the rice-plate, with a single serving of something per person. It's mine, dammit, and I'm not sharing. Mine! All mine! Piss off!
It just isn't very real. Unless you are forced to dine alone.

The idea of several people together all eating exactly the same dish and same quantity is flabbergasting to the Cantonese. Family-style dining epitomizes their approach to communal eating, and they truly cannot understand the regimented apportionment of food so characteristic of WASPs. When all four of you order Sweet and Sour Pork over rice, expect the kitchen staff to stick their heads into the dining room to stare at you. Truly, white people are weird.

"Whaddya mean they aint' sharing? What's the expletive point of even eating together if they're all gonna have the same thing? Nobody is that bloody fond of Kung Pao Beef!!!"

If you can grasp that anarchic individuality is the governing order at a Cantonese meal, then you will understand both the Cantonese temperament, and the Cantonese restaurant.

Among friends at table, everybody suggests and argues over choices from the menu, picks and chooses from the plates in the centre, offers others the choicest bits, eats what they want, and knows about what they are eating.
Food is the social lubricant: the means whereby they got together, and the tool that enabled interaction.

If your brother shows up late for supper, there's a very good reason: he was at the ka-fay diem regaling pals with a tall tale while they all stuffed their faces with pastries and slurped coffee.
Mei-mei came home late from school? Steamed rice sheet noodle with shrimp - and friends!
Ah-Mun suddenly rushed out of the office? The local bakery just took a batch of fresh egg-tarts out of the oven, gotta get some for the gang before they're all gone!

What do many Cantonese do after a long formal meal? Why, they go out together for mid-night snacks, of course!

The idea of telling the tale of yetzias mitzrayim all night long could not possibly appeal to the Cantonese. Amidst the fray of flying chopsticks, they will speak primarily of dining, especially shared dining. Not only this meal, but also other meals - all meals that ever were and all meals yet to be, are represented at this table, and all the generations will remember and relive these meals.
"Here, have this drumstick. Is there more tea? Pass the salt-baked shrimp, and can I refill your rice bowl? Is there any more Tung-po pork?
Mmmmmm, this stirfried choisum is SCRUMPTUOUS!"

If, at the break of dawn, after an all night feast, someone came and said "masters, the time for the morning shema has come", the Cantonese response would be "hey, let's all go have breakfast first". Sik faaaaahn! Totally.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


I'm going to have to start watching what I eat. I just finished lunch, and already the gout is kicking in. My left foot is aching and swollen.
This isn't good - my coworkers already regard me as a borderline crotchet, I don't want them to think that they can get away with anything because I'm an elderly fossil.

Most of all, I don't want them to ever know that they can easily outrun me.

Nor do I want them to ever use a phrase like this:

"At the end of the day, the synergies we are trying to leverage and shifting paradigms we are hoping to target should allow us to raise the bar, think outside the box and drill down to our core competencies. "

What? What the intercourse does that actually mean?
Am I even in your demographic?

Fellow blogger Treppenwitz wrote that bushwa about synergetic paradigms and competent core targeting. Blame him. Had something to do with a bad night's sleep. He broke several ribs partying like a crazed biker bitch a few weeks ago, and has been swilling booze for painkillers ever since. Ongoing rum jag. Plus codeine and Red Bulls.
When last seen, he was on 101 at ninety plus miles an hour, targeting Keebler Elves with an assault rifle.
Lock your doors, mamas, he's pissed.


"I hate women who wear extremely revealing clothing who then act offended when my eyes go where nature demands they go. You don't want me to look at your boobies? Don't put them out where I can't help but stare at them. I'm married and relatively polite... but I'm not dead. "
Dude, I know where you're coming from. Hot dog.

Monday, July 12, 2010


There's an octopus in Europe with a price on his head. Many Northern Europeans are CONVINCED that the eight-armed cephalopodic daemon-beast must have cursed the most deserving soccer team in history and caused the victory of the degenerate Spanish pigbucketeatingmen.

I am not bitter about the World-Cup victory of that bunch. Who cares? Spain doesn't have an economy, and they all smell like elderberries anyhow. Losers.

I am sad for the octopus.

Not because of the death-threats that have been made (the creature has been in hiding since sometime last week), but because of sex.

Sex. Sex. Sex. Yes, sex.

From Wikipedia:
Reproduction is a cause of death: males can only live for a few months after mating, and females die shortly after their eggs hatch.

Imagine how much different the dating scene would be if humans were like that.

A broken heart might be the best thing possible. Rejected suitors would leave everyone baffled by their suicides.......

Herewith another Wikisample:
"Octopuses have three hearts. Two pump blood through each of the two gills, while the third pumps blood through the body. Octopus blood contains the copper-rich protein hemocyanin for transporting oxygen. Although less efficient under normal conditions than the iron-rich hemoglobin of vertebrates, in cold conditions with low oxygen pressure, hemocyanin oxygen transportation is more efficient than hemoglobin oxygen transportation. The hemocyanin is dissolved in the plasma instead of being carried within red blood cells and gives the blood a blue color. Octopuses draw water into their mantle cavity where it passes through its gills. As mollusks, octopuses have gills that are finely divided and vascularized outgrowths of either the outer or the inner body surface."


"In some countries, octopuses are on the list of experimental animals on which surgery may not be performed without anesthesia. In the UK, cephalopods such as octopuses are regarded as honorary vertebrates under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986."
[End quote.]

Wow. Fascinating. Shades of Doctor Zoidberg.
Multi-hearted honourary vertebrate. Smells like anchovies.

Friday, July 09, 2010


However it is comforting to know that he respects dead whores.
You can thank two people for this.

On Midianite Manna, I discovered a youtube video of someone reading aloud from a blogpost by ‘The Bloggess’.

[VIDEO: Declamatory Jesus, and the count of vagina ]

Yes, thank both of them.

They told me to write "black vampire JESUS ate my cat" which is something I really wasn’t ready to admit, obviously – for one thing, he’s black, and as a sensitive person living in the SF Bay Area I am aware that black people are as gentle and nurturing as anybody else.
As are vampires ('the sanguinarily sustained').
And Jesuses (or is that ‘Jesii’?) too.

It hurts that someone who is so intrinsically likeable would EAT my cat.
He should’ve had tofu and wheatgrass instead, but he’s a vampire.
The point is, I was in a state of denial. About the cat.
And the dead whores ("bankcrypt nightshift").
But mostly about Jesus AND the cat.

What, you’ve never heard of The Bloggess?

Poor you.

In a post back in January of last year, she listed the Jesus-related Google searches that led readers to her blog.

Number one was "why is Jesus not a zombie?"

Now, given that Midianite Manna has already embraced the prospect of misguided people visiting her blog by naming today's post 'Why is Jesus not a Zombie?', even if I wanted to jump on that bandwagon, I'd be honour-bound not to Bogart her. That would be opportunistic, and rather tacky.
So, just second best - "Jesus likes squirrels" - or something even lower down the list.

Problem is, I don't settle for second best. Hence the totally unique title of my post.
And I'm not an opportunist either - I want NO visits from misguided people.
I just have a dead cat.
Sorry, 'had'.

Jesus is eyeing my squirrel.
Bad Jesus.

Thursday, July 08, 2010


An anonymous commenter ('Random Dude') underneath a recent post at Pro-Israel Bay Bloggers left the following sharp opinion:

" .. Jess Ghannam (University of California, San Francisco) and Andrew Paul Gutierrez (University of California, Berkeley) are both signatories to the US Campaign for an Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, and have spent much time making the campuses of their universities as inhospitable to Jews as possible. Both where at that rally, both expressed their hate for Israel on the street, and both are clearly in cahoots with Forrest Schmidt and Dick Becker, whose vile hategroup has had activists on campus and in the faculty and administration of both institutions for several years.

A reasonably full list of academic
hatemongers can be found here:

These people represent the most vile and despicable form of anti-Semitism: Politically correct pseudo-intellectuals. The authorities in San Francisco and the greater Bay Area know that catering to the comfortable bourgeois anti-Semitism of the middle-classes pays off in the end; radical support at the voting booth, continued support for a political career.

Even the police recognize this. They too are part of the petite bourgeois machine, they too wish to be accepted. Or at least, not hindered in their careers. .. "

[End quote]

Underneath this post:

It's angry, and to the point. I myself cannot think of any counterarguments to his assertion, the more so as I have personally experienced both SF State and UC Berkeley as thoroughly rotten environments, sodden with socially-accepted hatred and official apathy.
The only time when the administration of either university gives a damn about the bigoted and damaging atmosphere on campus is when someone gets whacked or an alumnus with money raises hell. Other than that, business as usual. Which means that they wish 'those pests' would stop complaining.

I would be keen to see someone else's point of view, though. There are undoubtedly students and faculty who would wish to counter Random Dude's assessment. Perhaps they have experienced things differently.
Or have a different take on the anti-Israel agitation.
Feel free to react, either at PIBB or underneath this post.


The verdict in the Mehserle trial will be announced in mere minutes.
I expect that agitators from ANSWER are already chomping at the bit in Oakland; they were extremely evident during the riots last year.
Poeple like Richard Becker and Forrest Schmidt live for moments like this.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010


Three people were assaulted by pro-Palestinian demonstrators at a protest in front of the Israeli Consulate in San Francisco yesterday evening. Two of the victims were wearing kippot.

It is quite likely that they were targeted BECAUSE they were wearing kippot.

All three were in their fifties or sixties, whereas their attackers were fit and young (and in one case, hulking).
Hate crime is seldom bold. But always transparent.

The event was facilitated by International ANSWER, which has expended considerable effort infiltrating many organizations over the past several years - not only the pro-Palestinian PC brigade and anti-Semitic fringe elements in Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco, but also the peace movements, radical anti-war activist circles, unions, dockworkers, farmworkers, and hotelworkers.
Their efforts have paid off, and they have friends among the top levels of San Francisco's city government.

Members of Code Pink and the Arab Resource Organizing Center were also there - the first an alleged peace group, the second generously funded by the Tides Center, "encouraged" by the National Lawyers Guild, and heavily involved in anti-Israel agitation at Bay Area universities.

"Israel out of the Middle-East"
---Charming slogan heard at the end of the rally.

Several voices then added "Israel out of the world".

Faculty members from SF State U and UC Berkeley were also present at the hate-fest, enthusiastically cheering the prospect of Israel's destruction.

An angry but accurate report of the event can be found here:

Another account of the event has been posted here:

As usual, do not leave demonstrations by yourself.
Dick Becker and Forrest Schmidt will not admit ANYresponsibility for riling the mob up, and the murderous rage that results is purely the responsibility of the Jew-haters and Palestinian activists themselves.
The only person who is guaranteed not to become violent is Rusty, whose life and beatific smile are a testament to the efficacy of certain substances and a carryover from the hippie area.
Terry, on the other hand, is quite certifiable.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010


I am a degenerate. No, this has NOTHING to do with sex. It does, however, relate to my mouth. And what I do with it.

For Sunday dinner Savage Kitten made some scrumptious chops. They were juicy and intensely flavourful, done to perfection - that woman sure can cook. After dinner, while she was preoccupied, I went into the kitchen and stuck my face in the skillet, frantically trying to lick up all the panjuices before she would notice. Sluuuuurrrppp!

Had to wash my face at the kitchen sink afterwards, because I had gotten grease in my beard and moustache.

So yes, I had a very good Fourth of July.

Panjuices. Mmmmm.
Imagine a Homer Simpson sound here.

Yesterday I smoked several bowls of Erinmore Flake. Erinmore is a product I have previously described as a perfumed tease, a veritable harlot, a temptress drenched in cheap cologne. It is all that, and more. And I enjoyed it immensely.
What can I say? While I normally seek the company of classic mixtures – winsome blendings of Virginia, Turkish, and Latakia, modest and maidenly, charming yet restrained in their embraces – sometimes I like a mature mistress, more full bodied and vulgar than the well-bred little Oriental.
Smoking Erinmore Flake is like going down to a seedy cocktail dive and surrounding yourself with busty tarts.

Not only did I have a good Fourth, I also had a good fifth.

Today I have that tin of Erinmore Flake on my desk. Periodically I have been sticking my nose in it, and inhaling deeply of its sleazy charm. Mmmmmm, fruity. And just a hint of something incredibly vile, hidden under the naughty wink, the batted eye, the barely concealed fleshpot pillows. This temptress is moist with dime-store unguents, the lipstick and rouge are applied with a heavy hand. Frills of lace erupt from her shameless blouse, her stockings are the very pit of vulgar temptation, that skirt is far too short and tight for a woman of her age.

"Depraved fleshy trot desperately seeks randy beau. Appearance no object."

Aged Virginia, with tropic fruits.
White trash tobacco.

[ERINMORE FLAKE – sliced pressed flue-cured tobaccos with a top-dressing of pineapple and licorice. Nowadays manufactured in Denmark, but formerly the product of an company long since subsumed into British American Tobacco. This tin was purchased several years ago, but only opened recently.
It was made in Northern Ireland by Murray Sons & Company Limited, Belfast. This tin has aged very nicely, and it stinks to high heaven.]

The only thing missing is warm cooking grease from some divine chops.
I feel like I should rub myself all over with meat fat.
That would be the best of both worlds.

Friday, July 02, 2010


In which Pinchas slaughters and Israelite man and his Midianite girlfriend. Quite one of the most exciting scenes in the entire book.

Bamidbar (Numbers) 25:6 "Ve hine ish mibnei Yisrael ba vayakrev el echav et ha Midyanit, le einei Moshe u le einei kol adat bnei Yisrael, vehema vochim petach ohel moed" ('And look, one of the children of Israel brought to his brothers a Midianite woman, in the eyes of Moses and of all the congregation of the Bnei Israel, while they were weeping at the entrance of the tent of meeting'),

25:7 "va yar Pinchas Ben Elazar, ben Aharon ha kohen, vayakam, mitoch haeda, va yikach romach beyado" ('and when Pinchas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from the congregation, and took a spear in his hand'),

25:8 "va yavo achar ish Yisrael el ha kuba, va yidkor et sheneihem, et ish Yisrael ve et ha isha el kovata…" ('and he went after the man of Israel into the chamber, and speared both of them, the man of Israel, the woman through her gut…').

I feel warm all over.

Pinchass was an honourable man (as were they all honourable men).
But according to Rashi, Pinchas was ambitious

I'm thinking movie.
Mel Gibson, Amy Winehouse, and Mark Wahlberg.


Nearly a year ago, a post of mine entitled conversational storm-surge attracted the kind attentions of Japanese spambots. The result was well over a hundred comments (in Japanese) with clickable links to some very strange stuff. Mostly Japanese pornography websites.

I allowed most of the comments to remain, as this development fascinated me. Why should a description of the odd behaviour of our building security be the perfect place for smutty links?

Another post several weeks later also appealed to them. I have no idea why the Islamic emirate of Gaza merited pornospam. But, as I had reserved the comment section underneath conversational storm-surge for all lascivious linkage, I blocked those comments.
Spambot-Sensei still posts there, even now - he just isn't published.
One freebie is all you get.

In April of this year I posted a new click for anal tobacconists, which proved nearly as tempting for the porno brigade.

It must have been the word 'anal'. Some search program in Europe perked up its ears at the smell, and the rest is history.
Having 'anal' in the title of a blog post attracts more attention than 'penis', 'uvula', 'belly button', 'shoulders', 'rosy nipples', or 'cheese'.
Far more than cheese.

Again, dense comments in foreign languages were proffered, with embedded links.
My curiosity got the better of me, and ere deleting, I clicked.

Good heavens!

A very attractive young lady, entirely naked. With an accordion.

As a salespitch, it has a lot to recommend it. If all products or services were so advertised, life would be much more interesting. I've always wanted to learn how to play the accordion.

"What brand of butter should I buy? Why, the brand with the naked young lady, of course! Nothing says 'butter' quite so well as a naked blonde girl."

"Do I need a station wagon? I didn't, until I saw the sleek number with the nude redhead."

"This kitchen tissue is strong enough for TWO high school girls!"

"I've got to get this brand of soap; a statuesque black woman recommends it!"

Normally I don't pay any attention to advertisements, even if I need the product.
But if all the products I absolutely don't need were advertised by tasteful female nudes, I would finally turn into an all-American consumer whore.
Think about it, marketing people; naked means cash.

If anybody doubts this, just ask a lovely immodest teenager to recline on a bed of pipe tobacco (preferably an Oriental mixture - Virginias, Turkish, Latakia) in the nude.
I can guarantee you that I will buy whatever smoking mixture that is. All of it. The entire bale. That is one blend I've just got to have. It is the most alluring tobacco I have ever smelled.

Please place links to whatever product you are pushing underneath this post.
Especially if it contains Virginia, Turkish, and Latakia. Thank you.

Thursday, July 01, 2010


I can hear sirens, but they aren’t coming for me. Which is good, it means my awful secret has not been revealed.
In this day and age, they "subdue" folks like me – we are the people your mom warned you about.


Once PETA stages its coup d'état, we will be hunted down and caged. They will know us by the shreds of bloody flesh dangling from our teeth. The sweet sweet reek of barbecue sauce. The hint of garlic and lime juice that still clings to our stained fingers.
And our firm handshakes.

We don’t eat tofu cooked by white people.

We are barbaric. We have bloodshot eyes and minds.

At an intersection nearby, there’s a very long line of people who wish to buy something vegetarian from a truck. Something with lentils and spices.
It is “yummy”, and good for your karma.

The customers, most of whom are white and in their twenties, look like they are approaching satori.
Bright, fresh faced, smiling. They are full of joy. And wheatgrass.
I despise them.
I had meat for lunch.

My shoes are leather. So is my belt. I like it that way.
I am a sinner. It is because of people like me that there’s that giant oil spill.
Think of the unhappy penguins!

When I go home, I rub myself with bear fat, and torture kittens.
Your children are right to fear me, I would give them peanuts and highly refined sugar. Make them play with wheat products. Eat cheese.
Test make-up on their pure innocent faces, and wrap them in synthetic fabrics.

Come here, little girl, would you like some battery chicken? Country music? Tobacco?
Oh good, the sirens are finally gone. They’ve arrested someone else.

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