Friday, June 29, 2012


Question: How many pregnant office ladies can you stuff into an elevator around lunchtime?
Answer: Apparently, more than clowns in a Volkswagen.
That observation, more or less, is why I am now accused of bigotry against clowns. It’s not just about small cars, zany antics,  and laughter, dude!
Sometimes I’m just so freaking dense.
They’re crying inside.

Often I wonder about some of my acquaintances. The person who accused me of cruelty anent tightly packed clowns doesn’t read my blog, or else he would know that I’m actually a deeply sensitive person. Nor would he have urged me, very sincerely, to place a classified ad to alleviate what he terms my “emotional incompleteness”, and the "karmic desolation" that he is convinced surrounds me.

In his mind, I am drenched in bad vibes.
Also cynicism, but mostly vibes.
Plus I should smile more.
And smoke less.

I will most certainly NOT place a classified ad.

It’s far too impersonal. And the only people who answer those things are four hundred pound cannibals and stalkers. 
Plus psychologically damaged clowns.
Gotta avoid the clowns.  Grease-painted psychopaths!

Later that evening I composed an imaginary personal advertisement.


Fairly decent man seeks perspicacious and mature young lady who likes noodles and doesn’t mind trim little beards or the smell of tobacco.
Must have a stuffed bunny rabbit or equivalent small creature, one with a distinct personality, and intellectual pursuits. Possibly wearing spectacles. Does your bunny rabbit read Charles Dickens or Proust? Does he or she feel unique at times?

And does your bunny occasionally channel for Elvis?
Sudoku? Cryptoquip? Bad puns?
I have a monkey!

End quote.

As you can see, the very idea of putting that out there for someone else to read is just asking for trouble. And yet it perfectly reflects everything I truly believe is important about relationships.
Noodles, an active mind, and a keen sense of snark.
Small creatures are known for bad puns.
As everyone realizes.

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Thursday, June 28, 2012


I really must stop hanging out with the cigar smokers. They're damaging my reputation for saintliness and clean living.
What with them being all dissolute and riotous.

Example: Just as Whippiedips answered his cellphone, a word for the male genital attachment was uttered very loudly. After his conversation was over, he chided Seeing Eye and Scottish Crust for using that word while he was on the line with his office - we all told him that it was best if he stepped out of hearing distance when answering calls - and followed that by boasting about his big, BIG cigar lighter. It's humongous!
So the next time he said "hullo?", Seeing Eye started yelling that "Whippie ALWAYS puts video cameras in the ladies room, Whippie always puts video cameras in the ladies room".

Whippiedips thanked him by remarking that it would be a miracle if he was still employed by the end of the day.

I had stepped away from the rowdy cigar smokers by that time.
We pipesmokers have an image to uphold.
We're blooming saints, is what.
You should know that.

"Cameras in the ladies room!"

Later, Whippie wished to discuss refined summer beverages and his own drinking preferences, so I explained the Henry Darger Cocktail to him.
Bourbon, dash of Grenadine, and a little Angostura over ice in a highball glass, filled up with ginger ale, cherry on top for the pervert.
Mild enough for a little girlie, strong enough for a big degenerate.
If you have a Hello Kitty Swizzle Stick, use it.

The conversation eventually slid off into "starter bourbon". Followed by a knowing comparison of Old Granddad, Old Crow, Urinal Cake, Ten High, and Evan Williams.
We complimented Whippie on knowing how each of those tastes.
Vast experience, as Scottish Crust confirmed, and something about face-planting.
Seeing Eye mentioned the time he had given his wife a bottle of Four Roses on Valentine's Day, then told her to drink three double shots and call it a bouquet.
They're still together after all these years.
She hasn't found anyone better.
Qué romántico.

I'm fairly certain that three double shots of Bourbon, especially the way San Franciscans pour, would render the drinker comatose.
They probably wouldn't be able to remember what they did the next morning. Not sure if that qualifies as 'romance'.....
Probably not even 'worthwhile face time'.
I prefer my dates sentient.

Seeing Eye often sleeps with a crash helmet on.

The trees are out to get him.

*    *    *    *    *    *

See, that's why I need to start avoiding cigar smokers.
They're a horrible influence.
Very bad men.

Quite unlike pipe smokers.


In answer to a friend who was curious, you should know that bikini briefs have a low waistband, French cuts have high leg openings canted forward, and High Cuts have deep leg openings more in-tune with a natural figure, as well as a waistband on the high side.
Bikini briefs look good on trim short women, French cuts are for slim yet curvaceous girls, and almost anyone can find high cuts that flatter them, even if they are overly statuesque drag queens on Polk Street.
Granny Panties are often suitable for overweight men.
But avoid loud patterns.

I was planning to post about food today.
But I got distracted.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012


You need a baby otter.  Don't deny it, your life is incomplete without a baby otter.  Nothing says warm happiness better than a baby otter.

You've read Wind in the Willows?
Remember Otter's son Portly?
This is probably his cousin.

I CAN'T SEE YOU.......


"Little Portly is missing again; and you know what a lot his father thinks of him, though he never says much about it."

You'll be pleased to know that the little fellow was eventually found, 'sleeping soundly in entire peace and contentment'.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
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Some people use pills and alcohol. Others go into the stockroom and break all the bottles with a baseball bat. A few, following some unwise suggestions I made years ago, call strangers at random and make their lives just a little more surreal.
Freak phone conversations: they're therapeutic!

On the other hand, what also works is a bowlful of tobacco that must be smoked calmly, followed by spicy noodles. 
Try it.  You'll be pleasantly surprised.

Every document I tried finding this morning was missing from the designated folders in the database. Payment instructions from a customer made no sense at all, and it is unlikely anyone at that company would have any clue what I was going on about.
There were several other issues.
Some of them audit-related.

Massive frustration, beyond the normal and acceptable levels of massive frustration, led to a headache and a pounding feeling.

However, after smoking a bowlful of a medium flake that also contained some Kentucky leaf, and eating Thai noodles, I feel a lot better.

Lest they bite, flake tobaccos must be smoked slow and cool.
Doing so calms the person down.
And nobody is tense around thin savoury slurpy hot noodles.
With shrimp sauce.
And porky bits.
Plus chilies.

Plummy tobacco. Stinky noodle.

Life is good.


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Tuesday, June 26, 2012


A statuesque woman of my acquaintance was fuming the last time I saw her. Apparently her cousin has hooked a man.
Her cousin is less than five feet tall. The man in question is a long-bodied basketball player.
“Dammit, that’s what I should have! Bitch!”
She was infuriated that her mousy-midget-babydoll cousin didn’t do the gentlemanly thing and act as a matchmaker, instead of grabbing the nice tall guy all for herself.

My statuesque friend is over six feet tall, and bitterly resentful of short women getting all the attention. As well as chocolates.
Especially her selfish miniature pig of a female relative.
Who is also younger.


While I can grasp her ire, I can also understand why men prefer women shorter than themselves.
But I agree that a differential of approximately a foot and half is a little ridiculous.
The proper distance is between eight inches and two. No more, no less.
Being five foot eight-and-a-half inches tall myself, that means that women who are under five feet are out of the question.
All in all it’s a pretty good thing I live in San Francisco, rather than South West Africa.

By the same token, I would be out of place in the vast interior of the United States (i.e.: everything between the Oakland Hills and the Alleghenies), which is populated entirely by giant hairy bigfootesses who are somewhere between six feet and eight feet tall. That’s also where this particular statuesque woman was raised.
Beef and dairy country, with lots of lard, peanut butter, and calcium supplements.

She claims she’s taller than most of her family, but I’m certain she’s only saying that so that normal people (like myself) won’t feel shrimpy and small around her. I’m halfway convinced she moved out here because she’s the short one where she comes from.
Which is Giant Hairy Bigfootess Land.

Still, I hope she finds herself a compatible giant soon.
I’m not entirely sure, but I think tall people go cannibalistic when they’re frustrated for too long.
I’ve heard stories.

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Monday, June 25, 2012


Yesterday, as you should know, was the day of the big trek down Market Street.
I believe the official term is ‘Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender’ Pride Parade, LGBT-PP for short, but I’m not particularly interested in what other people do in their bedrooms (or kitchens / backyards / wine cellars) unless they make a tasteful and enchanting porno tape, and I don’t really care.
So even though it is a very important event, I'm not at all sure.
I don’t do well with long names and complicated acronyms.

BTW: by "a tasteful and enchanting porno tape", I do NOT mean anything featuring Paris Hilton or other celebrities. While I will gladly admit to being vibrantly perverse, there are still standards that must be upheld.
My eyes are also too pure and unsullied to watch anything featuring the cast of Jersey Shore, OR the real housewives.

Good clean smut only, thank you.

Our contingent was delayed along with many others because the Occupy movement had a hissy fit and blocked Market Street.
That gave a small teenage nihilist whose mother had bribed her into coming along the opportunity to see even more of all the things that bear no resemblance to Hobbits.

Spandex. Bitch boots. Ass chaps. Chains. Rouge. Spank marks.
Tutus, ruffles, ribbons. Fairy wands & ostrich feathers.
Cunning (!) balloon arrangements.

And a flabby man wearing a sock.
As well as a proud intactivist, full of himself.
I do not know to which group either of them belonged.

Nor do I want to know. Thank heavens for socks.
Intactivists should wear them too.
Or stuff them somewhere.

Because of the delays, our group didn’t get to move out with our Israeli flags and Tel Aviv dance-float till nearly three o’clock.
I had been waiting for over four hours. Never should have shown up on time.
Seriously hung-over. No breakfast or lunch. Low bloodsugar.
I absolutely hate crowds and loud noises.
I wasn't gay or happy.

Grimly bad-tempered, in fact.
No energy left, cranky, uncomfortable, and tired.


Things were much better by five o’clock. By that time the parade was over, and I had walked past several dozen vendors selling hotdogs wrapped in bacon, served with browned onions. All of whom were Mexicans, most of them totally giddy with all the visual stimuli and music.

Months ago they left their small villages in the interior of Mexico, made the long arduous trek to the border, and crossed at night. Once safely arrived in San Francisco’s Mission District, a cousin lent them the funds for the portable grill and their first batch of sausages and bacon. Another cousin showed them how to do the work, and accompanied them on their first trip to a handy intersection near vibrant nightlife..... helped them wrap the yummy pork strips around the frankfurter..... scooped the onions off the hottest spot on the metal sheet so that they didn’t burn.....

Yesterday, all that hard work finally paid off.

All of Civic Center was designated party zone, with thousands of people celebrating.
Hundreds of sausage sellers doing an absolutely booming business.
Gay Pride smells an awful lot like bacon.
Huge amounts of bacon.

Hot greasy meat everywhere.

I didn’t have a bacon-wrapped wurst for breakfast.

Instead I went to a Vietnamese Chinese eatery up in the Tenderloin.

Hai Ky Noodle House
707 Ellis Street, San Francisco, CA 94109.

Seafood hofun (海鲜河粉), fried fish cake (炸魚餅), green chilies, chilled Vietnamese coffee (越南咖啡奶冰), and lots of warm tea.
The family that runs the place are very mellow. Unsurprisingly, so are the customers, who arrive esurient, and leave content.

The waitress was sweet and engaging, interested in the customers.
An elderly auntie smiled while handing over a jar of pickled jalapeños.
Heard Teochew, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, and English spoken.
Not an extensive menu, but it's very good, very clean, very cheap, and very nice.

Hai Ky is probably the best place to be when there is a humongous naked throng near city hall. An island of noodlicious sanity in a sea of straps, lipstick, and leather paddles. It's also a great place during the rest of the year, too.
The fish balls are superior. And they have chan pei duck leg.

Dawdled over my noodles, and was happy as a clam when I left.
Totally restored to good cheer, and zipped to the eye-brows on caffeine.
When I got home after a few cocktails I completely collapsed - too tired to even post.
Which explains why there was nothing new here yesterday.
I got caught up in all the gaiety.
I'm better now.

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Saturday, June 23, 2012


For nearly two years now I rise late on weekends, pad around the house in my sleepwear drinking coffee, and have a nice hot bath. Then I go into Chinatown for something to eat. It is not good for the soul to hide in the apartment all day, one has to get out and do something. But I have far more routine than imagination in that regard, and, as you can guess, snackipoos followed by several hours at the office are a great good. The lively crowd of people on Stockton, followed by quiet in the financial district - these complement each other.
Plus weekends are for pipe-smoking. Can't really do that at home.

3:45 PM
When I got off the bus at Clay and Stockton, a mother and her little girl disembarked also. Both were shorter than me, of course.
Other than that the woman was probably only five foot one or two, I cannot remember much about her. Young, with gentle eyes. Cheerful.
But the kid I remember distinctly. Three, maybe four years old, bright and very intelligent looking, wearing a pretty red jacket with little yellow flowers. Sparkling dark brown eyes, mop of black black hair. Small hands.
An extremely beautiful child.
She had the most engaging hopeful expression that I have ever seen.
Without speaking, she seemed to say that good things would happen.
Surely there were interesting adventures ahead?
A fine sunny day downtown, yay!

At the place where I ate a bowl of fish-slice rice porridge, the owner’s little son was saying farewell to a new best friend. At that age, children do not need much of a language in common. Both boys were the same height, barely three years old. One spoke Cantonese, the other something that sounded very much like Teochew. While the father of the little non-Cantonese speaking fellow was getting him ready to go, his new companion kissed him.
Very sweet. It was the cutest thing.

An elderly gentleman purchased two hargau and a cup of tea, then sat down and started unwrapping tea-eggs. Possibly the hargau and tea-eggs were the only thing he was going to eat today. He did not look like there was any superfluous money in his life. Gaunt, with very worn though clean clothes; clearly he wasn't a rich capitalist. Shrimp pockets and boiled eggs cannot be a very satisfying repast.
He ate calmly, not rushing, nor excessively dawdling over each bite.
Rinsed his mouth periodically with tea, then wiped his lips.
He thoroughly enjoyed his tiny meal.
Smiled afterwards.

[Fish-slice porridge (魚片粥): fresh fish curls that poach just barely in a large bowl of hot rice porridge, with shredded ginger added. Hargau (蝦餃): shrimp bonnets, being fresh chopped shrimp wrapped in a translucent skin cleverly tucked at the top and steamed. Tea-eggs (茶葉蛋): the eggs are first boiled till hard, cooled, rolled to crack the peel, then simmered again to allow the flavouring to seep in through the cracks and marbleize the surface of the egg within. Often they are kept in the tea-spice liquid for several more hours for the best flavour. Use two TBS black tea or pu-erh in a pan of water, add a hefty jigger of soy sauce, whole five-spices plus extra star anise, a slice of ginger and a large piece or two of dried tangerine peel. The first simmer is for twenty minutes after the liquid has come to boil, the second simmer will be about three hours - prolonged cooking eventually re-tenderizes the proteins.]

4:15 PM
While puffing on a post-lunch pipe on Jackson Street I saw that the windows of Yong Kee are now papered-up. The owner of the shop next door informed me that 'yes, they’re closed, all gone'. A very great pity, their haahm dan sou and gai bao were excellent.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who will miss them. They probably retired at last, and there isn’t any point in passing on the business to the Americanized generation.
So many of the familiar places are gone, the neighborhood has changed.
When people move out now, it’s usually to go to the avenues.
Only old people still embrace these streets.

[Yong Kee (容記糕粉店): a bakery and dim sum shop that dated from before the war, which had a stellar reputation and made some truly marvelous items. Mostly unknown to outsiders, as the awning was only in Chinese. Nothing in the trays was labeled. You knew what you wanted when you went in, and asked for it by name.  Haahm dan sou (鹹蛋酥) are salt-preserved egg yolks, very rich, inside a flaky pastry crust with a little sweet lotus seed paste (莲蓉) to anchor them in place. A gai bao (雞飽) is a steamed chicken-filled bun, than which there is naught finer when the mood strikes.
Regarding the post-lunch pipe, note that I have several pipes and three different pipe-tobaccos with me today: a matured red and black Virginia with Perique, a blend of red Virginia ribbon and matured red Virginia cake plus Orientals and air-cured leaf, and a profoundly fumigational pressing of red Virginia with Latakia and Turkish. I'm heading to the Occidental later this evening for a few bowls. Red Virginia dusk.]

Outside the New Orchid Pavilion a cluster of retirees were discussing the opera poster in the window. I’ve seen the same one all over Chinatown, some well-known artist from HK is going to perform. Seven entirely different plays! Seven Cantonese operas I’ve never heard of, and of which I have no recordings at all in my collection. Maybe these are unique rarities, but more likely they're minor theatre pieces that allow a greater interpretational range – the other ‘stars’ are probably amateurs from the local opera clubs.
I’ve heard folks practicing in the basement on Sacramento Street, as well as at the club near the Broadway.  Some of them have far more enthusiasm than skill. Few have less.
The retirees were animated, and probably looked forward to a good show.
Behind the window pane, one of the people who works at the New Orchid Pavilion was intently observing them.
Would they come in? Were they going to eat?
Hey, how about some business here!
There’s an empty table in the rear. Two empty tables!
Eat, eat, eat! Oh please!

4:45 PM
Having been unable to satisfy my craving for a haahm dan sou at Yong Kee, I stopped by another bakery instead. They didn’t have any haahm dan sou, so I ordered a lo po bing (老婆餅) and a cup of coffee. While enjoying my flaky wintermelon pastry, a young mother and her little child came in, got stuff at the counter, and sat down at the very next table.
I recognized them as being the two that had gotten off the bus at Stockton.
The mother asked the little girl about her lo po bing.

“Ho m-ho sik-ga?”

The tyke beamed up at her.

“Dee! Lishus!!!”


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Friday, June 22, 2012


I'm blaming white people for this. And I should've known better. White folks tend to eat with political correctness and neurosis. You know, all responsible and pure hearted.
Vegetarian. Even vegan.

I had stopped by the market to pick up some comestibles, as I intended to have a clean and morally upstanding break from the hell-sausage mentioned in previous posts. Three evenings of punishing my system was starting to wear on me.
Let's see: cream cheese. Rice stick noodles. Some lovely white wheat noodles from Fuzhou. A jar of garlic chili paste. A green thing that was edible. Crisp apples. Oh yeah, this was going to be good.
And cracked pepper smoked wild salmon.
The cream cheese suggested it.

Plus 2 large bags of bacon and cheddar potato skin snack chips (TGIF).
Those weren't for me.

My former girlfriend (Savage Kitten), who is still my housemate (separate room!) and an all-round decent person, had been wailing for weeks that Tom's Bacon Cheddar Fries could no longer be found within a ten mile radius of our apartment. Oh woe!
She was quite bereft.

So over the past several days I've purchased possible alternatives.
These things looked like they might do in a pinch.
Bacon, cheddar - what's not to like?

She thanked me kindly for bringing the addictive items into the house and ate half a bag.
Happily padded back to her room in her jammies and fell asleep.
It was a large bag, so there was plenty left.

Slight sidetrack:  you can tell a household that likes its snacks by the number of medium size black binder clips lying around. Not only are they useful for closing up plastic sacks of rice stick or wheat noodles, but they also work fine for crispy things.
We've got tons of them.


I spooned-over the cracked pepper salmon with the cream cheese, added a little balsamic vinegar and olive oil for smooshability plus some capers and chili flakes, intending to have a meat-free healthy vegetarian repast. That's why I didn't mix in any bacon bits (real bacon!), as I normally might have done. Adjusted the taste with a touch of salt and a pinch of sugar, and smeared it on toast.
There were no bagels, you see, but I had toast.

Had some of the TGIF bacon cheddar skin snack chips on the side.

After which there was still a substantial amount left over.

The night was still young - only eight PM.

Apparently you should NEVER nacho-ize these bacon cheddar skins.
At least not with pepper jack, pickled jalapenos.....
And crumbled greasy-fried linguiça.

On the plus side, by two A.M. it had entirely escaped my mind that I am loveless and without anyone to hug, all alone, no girlfriend, no affection, and turning sour and sharp in my middle age.

On the minus side, it's now sixteen hours since dinner, and I still have an insistent throbbing in both my head and my abdomen. The light in the office seems to be flickering on and off, and my hands are sweating.
I don't think I'll be eating any lunch today.
Just go home and sleep.

Don't even think of vegetarian muck again. As the waiter in the Chinese diner asked the young pasty-faced white woman last week, "you want the vegetable special with chicken or pork?"
See, he understood that a person craves animal protein.
It ain't satisfying otherwise.

Tomorrow I'll go into Chinatown for some nice soothing rice porridge.
I look forward to lunch in the neighborhood on weekends.
It settles the stomach after a week of whiteness.
Cures the bloated feeling, too.

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Thursday, June 21, 2012


I regret my mis-spent youth. Angst, anomie, and profound self-doubt.
But I’ve had some vivid technicolour dreams lately.
I’ve eaten the devil’s own linguiça for dinner three days in a row. It has been a profoundly humbling experience.

This particular linguiça seems to be mostly cayenne and pork fat.
You will readily understand that it is utterly delicious. In so far as a WMD can be delicious.
Saddam Hussein was wise to hide his sausages.

As if the sheer torture of standing upright wasn't enough, the cigar smokers at the wall were exceedingly trying when I went over there to smoke my pipe. Apparently one of them has been circulating glossy adverts for midget porn, pursuant the case of a man in Las Vegas cursed with elephant testes.

I stood off to the side, desperately trying to ignore their inane hoots and laughter. One of them was passing around his portable device so that the others could see the illustrations.
They are ALL channeling for Agent Left Testicle.
Who has so far sent three MP e-mails.
That man is obsessed.

At one point, the combination of abdominal distress, low blood sugar level, lack of sleep, and the mental pressure of cigar-smoker prattle caused me to momentarily mistake the nearby pigeons for a flock of schoolchildren.
I swear they were looking at me. Staring fascinated.
Rude little bastards.
Shoo, shoo.

Normally I like children, and their tinkling laughter.
But I do NOT want them near me after linguiça.
They should only see a happy pipesmoker.
As an inspiring example to emulate.
Not pale and shivering.

Linguiça sandwich, linguiça steamed with tofu and ginger, linguiça with red beans and rice.
The sandwich was excellent as well as infinitely regrettable, the steamed dish was delicious and nearly floored me, and the zesty beans and rice have convinced me that I should avoid beans.
Many other things too, but mostly beans.

I am full of angst, anomie, and profound self-doubt.

Well, not so much filled.

Different word.

There's only a little of the evil sausage left.

I know what I'm having for dinner.

It's an excellent product.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012


To many of my associates I was an eccentric, in that I preferred smoking a pipe to the stogies for which Valkenswaard was famous. Nearly everyone who could afford good tobacco went for cigars, of which, at the time, the available choice among the locally-made products was endless.
The last cigar factories (Hofnar and Willem II) closed in the eighties and nineties.
A period had ended. Valkenswaard no longer manufactures smoke.

Instead of being a riotously stinky fen-settlement filled with fingertip-stained law-breakers, thugs, and tobacco-connoisseurs, it is now a sleepy and rather boring satellite of Eindhoven, with little to recommend it to the visitor.
Well, except for bars. And frequent brawls. It has more crime than the entire surrounding area combined.

I’ve been back a few times in the years since returning to the States.
My high school no longer exists, the old homestead has become a rather pleasant bar-café, and housing in general has improved.
It is a cleaner, quieter, and pleasanter town than it once was.

Truth be told, I preferred it when it was seedy and unmanageable.
I remember the raid by over a hundred cops from the entire district which netted half a dozen drug smugglers and a fortune in illegal substances at a respected local drinking establishment four doors up from our house – the seized merchandise was destined for France, the enterprising businessmen were strictly local, and upstanding members of the community besides.
That event made conversation for days, until the next staggering bit of balls by the natives.
I should mention that the bar in question was right next to the police station.

Normal Dutch people tend towards a law-abiding life.
Brabanders from the border in those days did not understand the concept.
A sign saying “don’t walk on the grass” would inevitably create a shortcut right across the grass. Eventually that path became a street, with paving and lights. The final stage would be the inauguration of the “Grand Grasswalking Forbidden Boulevard” by proud city fathers.

Over the years, printing presses for counterfeit currency were discovered, illegal distilleries were raided, fake antiques destined for dealers in the first world were intercepted, gambling dens were shut down, guns were sold, vast indoor pot farms established………..
And a head got discovered in a beer vat.

That last incident happened many years after I left.
I had nothing to do with it, I swear.


The only head I had a hand in was the beautiful skull on my desk. The person to whom it had originally belonged passed away many decades ago in Switzerland, and when they dug up one side of the village graveyard up in the Alps to make room for more recent departures, the skulls were placed on shelves in a chapel for doctoral students from Basel, Zurich, and Bern, while the other remains were interred in a common pit. Some of those mountain villages have extremely limited space, you must understand.

In the year that I first started taking tobacco, the caretaker of the chapels allowed me to choose a skull. Naturally I picked the one with the best features – all of the teeth, including the molars at the back of the mouth just coming in, no holes other than the openings approved by nature, no missing parts – and took it back to the Netherlands when we returned north.

From when I was twelve to when I was eighteen, that skull had pride of place on my desk, right next to the piperack and sliderule.
I made sure it was clean and polished. Showed it to the local dentist, who was delighted and marveled over the fine chompers.

When I came back to the United States I left my various scientific collections, including the bones, in the care of my father. It would have been problematic to bring a skull through U.S. customs, especially as it was undocumented – the provenance would have been impossible to establish, seeing as most people connected with it were deceased.


When my father relocated to Eindhoven, the skull went with him. He kept it on the shelf next to the microscope.
After he died, the executors of the estate had a problem. Private ownership of skulls or miscellaneous body parts other than one’s own is an iffy proposition in the Netherlands.
What to do with this?

At last they decided to go to the local police station, where the officer in charge invited them into his office, and politely listened to their tale of the skull.
In short: younger son of an engineer, Swiss vacations, a questing mind, collections of things (sidetrack into ‘the museum of mold’, which had been dismantled when my dad moved away from Valkenswaard), now the last ‘owner’ of the skull is no more….. and then they placed the object on his desk.

After several minutes of utter quiet, the police officer asked whether anyone else knew about the skull.
No, no one.
Is there any record of this skull? No paper trail?
No, there isn’t.
So there is nothing that proves its history and derivation?
You are sure of this?

Well, then, it doesn’t exist, and this meeting never happened. Good day.

They called me up the next morning.
Would I object if they gave my skull to a scientist they knew?

Somewhere, a fellow Brabander is holding my skull.

He’s had it longer than I.

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There's something wrong with my head. This morning, on the way to work, a melody was mentally playing that cannot be eplained logically.

Specifically, the Hohenfriedberger March.

I am not Prussian. The victories of the Prussians against the other quarrelling tribes of Germany in the eighteenth century do not lubricate me.

Nice tune, though. It's boompy.

Nobody did boomp like the Prussians.

On the other hand, after having been at the office half a day, an entirely different tune is going through my head:



It's been playing now for several hours.
It, too, is boompy.
The Brits do good boomp.


I'm blaming what I ate for dinner last night. Perhaps I should have added more ginger. In any case, my dreams were vivid, and waking up was infinitely exciting.

Hook up with me, kiddo, and share the fun.


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Tuesday, June 19, 2012


This blogger, at times, makes deliberate choices that are not based on sound common sense. Yesterday evening I returned to my neighborhood too late to shop for toilet paper at the store on the corner, but fortunately the Vietnamese grocery around the other corner is open until very late at night.
You will undoubtedly be pleased to know that thanks to the neighborhood Vietnamese merchant, we now have enough bumwad to last for over a week. 
Thank you, Vietnamese merchant.
We were on our last roll, you see, and it is my task to keep us supplied.

The Vietnamese store also sells linguiça...

I had a tasty and delicious linguiça sandwich for dinner.

Tasty, and delicious.

Here it is, sixteen hours later, and my stomach is STILL making angry noises.
Furiously rumbling sounds, after a night of rioting.
Shut up down there! It was good!
Exceedingly good!

This evening I'll have some more of that linguiça.
It is very tasty and delicious.

I'll crumble it among cubes of tofu with shredded ginger, and steam it.
That ought to render zesty rubicund juices, yummy with rice.
Tofu is virtuous, being all vegetarian and crap.
So my stomach will have NO cause for complaint.

Vegetarian, remember? That's GOOD karma.
And as long as there's a rough parity between the Linguiça and the tofu, it's totally like a credit balance.
If I get home before the grocery closes, I'll also buy a vegetable.
Not that I really need one, I've got tofu.

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Monday, June 18, 2012


Finally the U.S. Open is over. And, with a bit of luck, people will soon stop talking about the most boring sport in the universe.
All week long conversations have revolved around people wearing pastel whacking their balls. With serious mien, pundits have voiced opinions, discussed angles and velocity, and uttered grave pronouncements about grass, sand, the balls, and even the silly little sticks used to hit those balls.

Gentlemen, please shut up about the balls.
Yours or anyone else’s.
It’s over.

As a comparative ranking, here are the top ten most dismal televised spectacles:

10. Congressional hearings.
9. State of the Union speech.
8. Weightlifting.
7. FOX news.
6. Anything involving flying saucers.
5. Real Housewives.
4. Football.
3. Basket ball.
2. Baseball.

And, at number one:

1. Golf.

All time worst.  Hands down. 

These ten "entertainments" have the intellectual and emotional appeal of watching paint drying.
Like viewing overmuch pornography, they rot the brain and lead to domestic estrangement.
Spending any time among people discussing these things is like being at a swingers convention with ugly old farts. Think about it, and you'll know why.

Please stop talking about your balls.

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Sunday, June 17, 2012


There are times when you crave the taste of food you ate as a child. Which is not necessarily a childish taste. I particularly remember smoky sausage with hot mustard, spicy sour babi panggang, kroket, zure zult, herring, and pan-fried noodles with chilies, scallions, and slivered pork. These were all forbidden in our household, because my mother distrusted the native foods. I think I was about nine when I had my first taste of sambal ulek (mashed raw chilies with salt and a touch of vinegar), and by the time I was ten it had become the secret condiment that my dad and I hid for our own use.
My mother knew there was no nutritional value in chilipaste.
There’s no benefit to eating meatloaf either.
Some foods just need help.

[Smoky sausage: rookworst; a fine-textured juicy high fat sausage that is very nice with braised vegetables and potatoes, or in thick soups. Babi panggang: Indonesian spit-barbecued pig, though in the Netherlands usually slow-cooked haunch of hog basting in its own juices. Kroket: croquettes, being a béchamel and meat mixture first chilled, then rolled in breadcrumbs and deep-fried - when right out of the hot fat these will melt the roof of your mouth. Zure zult: something it is best you do not know about. Herring: the perfect fish. Pan-fried noodles: bami goreng – the Dutch-Indo taste prefers this to be very spring-oniony, which is made delicious with a squeeze of lime juice and a hefty dollop of chilipaste. Sambal: thick chilipaste used as a condiment OR as a basic culinary building block. Meatloaf: a brick of animal fibre that bounces slightly when new.]

When I came back to the United States as a college student, there were very few home-cooked flavours that I truly missed. Meatloaf was one taste I preferred to avoid. My mother had been a mediocre cook, and for the last years of her life my father and I gladly shared kitchen duties.
My father favoured chops, roasts, curries, and goulashes, I experimented with Dutch-Indonesian flavours, and both of us occasionally produced dishes that inspired profound questions.
What is the meaning of life? Why am I here? Who is wise?
What the heck is this muck, and why are we eating it?
How is this night different from all other nights?

One of the things I occasionally miss from the old country is gehaktbal. Not, as you would think, the typical meatball that begs for canned tomato sauce or a catapult, but a version made with a finer and fattier grind of meat, as well as powdery rusk crumbs (‘paneermeel’) worked in along with nutmeg, clove, pepper, and cinnamon. Dense yet airy, juicy but not wet. Mild spicing. Perfect with either typical plain vegetables, or bathed in coconut broth with lemon grass, ginger, and cilantro.
Either way, a big splidge of sambal on the side.
Americans just never do ‘gehaktbal’.
They cannot pronounce it.


A strong guttural rasp starts the first syllable, a brutal glottal ‘LL’ finishes the last. Burst it forth from your mouth as if it is one tightly packed grunt in toto, rather than lazily drawing it out.
It sounds like a furball, but tastes much better.

The gehaktbal is the ancestor of the frikandel, which was invented in North Brabant by a village butcher during the nineteen fifties.

The principle behind the gehaktbal is the same as with any ground meat product. A toothsome texture, spicing that glorifies the flesh, juiciness because of a high fat content, and a savouriness that compliments whatever is served alongside.
Key is never overworking the meat, as it becomes tough and stringy if maltreated. A slightly coarser grind and different spicing goes into siu mai (燒賣), a finer texture with more fat is used for frikandel.


The frikandel is only about sixty or seventy percent maximum animal substance, the rest is powdered rusk, spices (primarily pepper and nutmeg), binders, herbs, salt. After mixing it is rolled into a sausage form, dipped in paneermeel and beaten egg white, then paneermeel again, rested, and deep-fried at a high temperature.
The meat used in the typical commercial frikandel is a blend of fatty pork, beef, and chicken. There are unspeakable theories as to precisely where on the animal the meat comes from, but one may safely ignore them, which is best for your mental health in any case.
The frikandel is basically a glorified meatball. So perhaps you should think of it as a mini-meatloaf heading strongly in the direction of saveloy, rather than in the opposite direction, towards that dense doorstop tolerated by many Anglo-Saxons once a week.

It does not require ketchup, gherkins, and medication beforehand, nor strong resolve.

Yes, it can be served à l'Américaine on a bun with many condiments plus chopped onion, or the same way the Brits usually enjoy a saveloy, with fries and vinegar.

But it’s quite perfect when pulled out of the wall and eaten with mustard.

My mother liked them cold for lunch the next day.

I never waited that long.

Haven't made frikandel in several years now...
Perhaps I should do so again.

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I dreamed of hedgehogs again last night. It was a comforting dream that included crisp green apples. No, there is no deep significance to any this, despite it happening several times over the years. At least a hundred hedgehog dreams.
I do not think myself a hedgehog when it happens. Nor do I imagine myself defensively rolled into a tight ball with sharp spines sticking out.
It’s more about the colours in the illustrations of a children’s book I read when small.
Lovely pictures, with warmth and much character.
Hedgehogs, and apples.

There were two of them. One protected the other, and together they fed on fruit.

The book was filled with sunlight.

I like the idea of crisp green apples more than the reality. Same goes for sunlight.
Shafts of brightness shining in are nicer than a harsh direct glare.
And sometimes a hedgehog is just a hedgehog.

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Saturday, June 16, 2012


The other day I learned first-hand that eating an entire bag of Geneva cookies is, perhaps, not a brilliant thing to do. Yes, they are indescribably delicious, a veritable feast. Now convince your stomach of that.
Overindulgence is never a pretty feeling.
Self-control is always harder when there’s no one watching.

Another person might say “are you going to eat all of that, you selfish yet handsome middle-aged devil, you?”

Gallantly I would respond “no, of course not - may I offer you a cookie?”

Demurely the two of us would limit ourselves to three or four only, then fold over the edge of the bag to save some for later.
Instead, I was busy reading my complete lack of e-mails – no attempts to reach out and feel me up, no invites to orgies of limited and carefully chosen scope, no delightful people randomly suggesting that there might be perky nipples in my future..... and thoughtfully mouthing Pepperidge Farm Geneva cookies.
Ate the entire bag before I knew what had happened.

This was after a very big bowl of chunk tofu, bacon, mushroom, and zucchini noodle soup with gochujang (苦椒醬).

The noodles were broad rice stick, slick and easy to digest.

The cookies were the straw that cooked my goose.

"May I offer you a cookie?"

Crunchy sweet biscuit with a layer of dark chocolate and nut fragments. A substitute for a vibrant and rambunctious love life. Exciting and addictive.
Precisely similar to the female of the species with her bacon-cheddar fries, bucket of crispy chicken and ranch dressing, barbecue ribs, and a tub of marshmallow streusel ice-cream.
Somewhere there’s a woman with food smears on her chin, crumbs in her bed, and a bottle of creamy ranch dressing on the night stand. As well as a teddy bear or stuffed rabbit looking at her reproachfully, demanding to know whether it was worth it.
Stuffed animals are easily shocked by misbehaviour. They’re rather innocent.
That is why you must carefully take them to the other room at times.
Especially if you’re planning to do something really naughty.
Arrange them in front of the telly watching Dr. Who.
Comb your hair, and brush your teeth.

And only then call to have food delivered.

Whether it’s pizza or a big zesty bucket of wings, even toasty hot oven sandwiches from Bob and Bubba’s Bar-bee-Q Shack (melted cheese over pulled pork), please make sure that you have proper plates, a picnic blanket or tablecloth, and polished cutlery set out.
Your small huggable bedmates (in the teevee room) appreciate good dining habits.
No cleaned bones or shreds of coleslaw strewn among the sheets.
Have the hot-sauce and plenty of napkins handy.
And even a moist towelette.

Feel free to invite me over. I’m hungry, and I get along well with furry creatures.

I’ll wear a tie.

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Friday, June 15, 2012


The room mate has a far more exciting life than I do.  For one thing, she eats at "The Magic Wock".  The magic in the name consists of unexpected explosive charges.  It may have been the egg flower soup, OR it was the coconut cookies.
I simply get lunch at the sandwich place across the street, or the Chinese buffet around the corner which has nice asparagus chicken (豆豉露筍雞片 'dou-si lo-seun gai pien'), and the restaurant that does the lovely lamb chops, over on Montgomery Street.
I never feel guilty and brutalized when I visit the ladies room.
Nor do I feel like the Bikini Atoll after a test.
My life is kind of "sane".

Last night I listened to my room mate wailing that she had no boy friend, hardly any tits, AND lunch sucked.
Well my dear, I don't have a girlfriend, and no tits whatsoever.
But my lunch was actually pretty darn good.
Asparagus and chicken.
Over rice.

I rather wonder if the little kid at that place is the daughter of miss Coco.  They look like they're related.  I wouldn't have suspected miss Coco of being that age, but if she is, it explains a lot.
Now I know why she seems so normal.
Despite her youth.

I've seen her face.  I suppose I should have also scoped out her bosom, but honestly I cannot remember what the general dimension of her fully clothed frontage is.
For a man such things are important, but I just wasn't looking.
My fault, I know.  It was an oversight.

Her face is, I believe, about three or four inches below mine.  We often say 'nei ho' at the steam table.
She has an odd vulnerability to her facial expressions, coupled with firm resolve.
Her daughter shows determination and intelligence.
Two strong fragile women.

They'd probably get along well with my room mate.  After they got used to the somewhat disturbing honesty and lack of diplomatic vagueness.
As well as any mention of Bikini Atoll.

I've told my room mate about the asparagus chicken.
There is no egg flower soup there.
Nor magic. It's safe.

As a red-blooded male I suppose I'll have to sneak a peek at the bosomy area.
I suspect there's nothing unexpected in that department.
Odd. I've been getting lunch there for years.
I focused on the food instead.
And a friendly 'nei ho'.

I seldom think of bosoms in the middle of the day.
And never ever about Bikini Atoll.
Asparagus chicken?

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Thursday, June 14, 2012


Maybe 'eat lard' is a euphemism?  The British are known for discrete circumlocution, so it is quite possible that 'eat lard' means something else. 
On the other hand, it could be meant literally.  They have strange ideas of romance over there.

Whatever it is, it must be good for you; these two have excellent teeth.
Quod erat demonstrandum.

File under: 'Fun stuff to do together'.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012


A merchant on Stockton Street in C’town was prizing her wares at the top of her lungs. She need not have bothered – her stuff was selling like hot cakes – but it was probably instinctive behaviour. Certainly it did no harm to yell out how screamingly excellent the product was, and it likely even encouraged the frenzy around her crates.
Men and women scrambling like mad, desperate for a purchase.
A horde of rabid piranhas with a sweet tooth.
She was selling strawberries.


There is no real Chinese word for strawberry (草莓 tsou mui), as it is not native to China. It is nevertheless extremely popular, not only eaten fresh, but also utilized in wafers (威化 wai-fa), cakes (蛋糕 daan-gou), muffins (瑪芬 maa-fan), candies (糖果 tong-gwo), and cupcakes (蛋糕仔 daan-gou chai).

Explanation: 草莓 (tsou mui): straw berry. 威化 (wai-fa): 'domination transforms'. 蛋糕 (daan gou): eggy cake. 瑪芬 (maa-fan): 'agate fragrance'. 糖果 (tong-gwo): sugared fruit. 蛋糕仔 (daan-gou chai): eggy cakelet.

The first digraphemion (草莓) is a direct translation more commonly used by Mandarin speakers, and you will note that the second (威化) and fourth word (瑪芬) are in fact transliterations of the English terms, much like 'si-do-pei-li' itself, which though not originally from the Chinese world, is now very familiar to the inhabitants of Hong Kong, and very much appreciated. 
Nothing quite beats a thick slice of  士多啤梨蛋糕 with lots of  鮮忌廉 (sin gei-lim) whupped all over it.  Yummy!

Another fruit presently available is the cherry.


More or less literally "vehicular thousandth-fractional thingy", in which the last character functions grammatically, rather than imparting a significant component of meaning - not that any part of this term imparts meaning, really. It's strictly a phonetice reading. Remarkably, there already is a Chinese word for cherry: 櫻 (ying); the only context in which you might see it is 櫻桃批 (ying-tou pai), which alas is seldom found in C'town.
The word 櫻 is of respectable provenance, attested by ancient literature.
Che-lei-ji is a typical Cantonese locution, rather than Mandarin.
This fruit is also popular, but not used in as many ways.

I would've thought that cherries would have been a far better seller than strawberries, seeing as you can sit on your front-steps eating an entire bag and spitting out the pits, aiming at the pigeons. That would be a splendid way to while away an hour or so.
Cherries are far sweeter and juicier than strawberries too.
But perhaps the texture and fragrance make a difference.

I remember hunting for wild strawberries during summer, and climbing over walls to steal the red red cherries of our neighbors in Valkenswaard, as they would do when our drupes ripened.
Both seasonal treats bring back memories, and sweeten the season.

But there are three other fruits that I anticipate as fondly.


The longan (龍眼) and litchi (荔枝) ripen at roughly the same time, and for the past few weeks huge bags of succulent litchis have been available. Both fruits are similar to each other, having a skin or husk that separates fairly easily, translucent sweet refreshing flesh, and a pit within.
The "dragon's eye" (longan) is so named because it resembles an eyeball, having translucent flesh through which the dark pupil can be seen.
It is often used dried, in sweet soups and desserts.
Litchis are best eaten fresh.

The third fruit I mention, loquats (枇杷 pei-pa) will start maturing in a few weeks, right when summer turns miserably cold in San Francisco. Already little golden orbs can be seen on some branches, smaller than normal, among the green bulbs barely visible among the glossy leaves.

[Loquats were mentioned in two previous posts on this blog: The Right Season for Loquats and Gold and Grey.]

To my mind there is almost nothing more beautiful than clusters of ripened loquat, on a plate or surrounded by dark green leaves.
It is the only thing that makes frigid summers bearable.

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The internet exists, as you have undoubtedly heard, primarily for three things: cute kitten pictures, recipes, and smut. 
Sometimes these categories overlap. Sometimes they are carefully differentiated.
This blog contains only ONE of those things.
But not all of my readers know it.
As my blog stats show.


smoking badger   
cherie chung chor hung   
crab foo yong   
旧金山 人仁餅屋   
anal tobacco   
anarch zionism   
at the back of the hill   
badger pipe   
balkan tobacco blends   

The first item on the list describes me. I am the smoking badger.
Yes, my dear, I am that. Your long search is over.
You found me. So very very lucky!

Especially if you resemble Cherie Chung.
Or maybe not, but it really depends on you.
Do you have ANY similarities with miss Chung?
Do please let me know, as I am anxious to find out.

The next two search criteria after the very nice young lady (ms. Chung) are food related (crab foo yong and 舊金山人仁餅屋). This is commendable. You like to eat. And I also like to eat. We should exchange notes.

What comes next is just weird. Please get help.

Excepting the very last keyword, I can understand the remaining searches.
Perhaps the person looking for 'bestiality' is doing a term paper?
If so, I wish you the very best of luck.

For the week, the keywords have been:

at the back of the hill (16), naked school girl (11), sex with horses (6), cherie chung chor hung (4), lukum (4), sex with monkeys (4), smoking badger (4), atthebackofthehill (3), naked school girls (3), non-tobacco pipe blends, phoenix, az (3).

I must say I'm somewhat disappointed. There are far too many naked school girls, and not enough people looking for badgers. Life is not about naked schoolgirls.
In the abstract, perhaps, they're an interesting concept.
But much less appealing than badgers.
Badgers who smoke are HOT.
Surely you knew that?

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Over the weekend I attended a festival. Normally I stay away from events that attract the multitude, as sharing a happy mood and thoroughly mediocre food with thousands of other people does not appeal to me. I am not a crowd person.
At times, I am not even social. Just let me back myself into a corner with my stinky tobacco products, a machine gun, and a book of romantic poetry, and I’ll be fine.

Had to exit the venue regularly, as smoking on-site was not allowed. Re-entry meant standing in line so somebody incapable of cracking a smile could run a metal detector over me checking for wires and explosive devices.
No, I’m not packing.
My mouth may actually  be the most dangerous thing on me.
It’s fully loaded. Locked, cocked, and ready to kill.

Not much scope for verbal offensives, though, as there was live music at this event.
Very serious and sincere live music, which interfered with conversation. Because I’ve got a hearing defect, ambient sounds make even close range speech hard to understand.
You can probably imagine what amplified joy-noise does.

I don’t know what possessed me.
If I could exercise real choices over what goes into my ears, it would be sweet nothings whispered by a young lady, q-tips, my left and right pinky, a warm wet tongue, and the occasional pen-cap when it itches.
Plus ointment when the fuzzy tissues require soothing.
Not seven hours of amplified mixed nuts.

Awoke shortly after six A.M. to get there for set-up at eight-thirty.
Had a screaming head-ache by ten in the morning.
Hot day, very bright sunshine.

Still, I did learn that if it’s a glorious day, one should not wear a sheer red dress – the streaming sunlight makes it nearly transparent, and the exact shape of the legs (from calf all the way up to the belly button) will be clearly discernible.
I’ll have to remember that for future reference.
As an example and cautionary note.
I should not wear sheer.

On that particular person, it looked good, however.
Her innocent ignorance of the effect was also nice.

I’m glad I went.
I had fun.

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Monday, June 11, 2012


You know of course why it's called a "stream of consciousness", don't you?
'Cause it's like a sewer.
Truer words, dude, truer words.

Dildo Bob was in fine form. Gibberant.  Tried telling me that Asians had never been discriminated against.  Unlike blacks (perhaps) and gays (oh definitely).  This because the sexual preference tee-shirt of the Vietnamese American bartender seemed to his mind to indicate a dislike of Caucasians.
He felt insulted - Viet Am ero-pride by a straight gentleman, what is this world coming to?

I tried explaining that a 'Caucasian' was, as everyone knows, Kahlua, Vodka, and cream. 
No dice.

I had forced Vu to make me Henry Dargers all evening, and consequently was not in prime condition myself.
Double shot Bourbon. Dash Grenadine, drops Angostura, over ice. Finish with ginger ale and a cherry.
Strong enough for a pervert, mild enough for a little lady.

When I explained the backstory behind the drink, Dildo Bob didn't get it at all. Threatened to write a fifteen thousand page novel about his own life. Oh lord.

There's a reason he's called "Dildo Bob".

He's a big pain in the sphincter.

Avoid Karaoke bars.

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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...