Thursday, February 28, 2013


What tobacco would mr. Badger smoke? I refer not only to the beloved character in Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame -- described as a gruff and solitary grey entity, who is nevertheless courteous, hospitable, and a very gallant fellow indeed -- but also to the illustration you will find at the very end of this post, and several other texts here. It is, more or less, a self portrait; drawn while on hold trying to connect with a customer at the other end of the country beset by rabid little monsters and elderly ladies.

He runs a store, by the way. The customer in question.
And might very well also be a badger.


Mr. Badger of the tale lives by himself in a large sett, that being a complex of tunnels and chambers underground in the middle of the wild wood. He's a very neat and well-organized chap, whereas I cannot claim such good habits. My own residence, which I share with a roommate I refer to as Savage Kitten, resembles naught so much as a bucket shop. Her room is considerably neater than mine, and it must be a trial to live with me.
She's always had her own room, though. We are not a couple, merely old friends from her college years.
No, I shall not tell you how long ago that was, suffice to say that she is nearly nine years younger than me. STILL nearly nine years younger; I do not know how she manages that, as I have tried to delay my own aging process. Nine years. Nearly.
Despite some minor success, she still lags that same length of time.
It's very irritating. Better she were a badger, but she ain't.

Evenso, I shall postpone turning into an old grumpus till an appropriate age. Approximately forty years into the future, I should think.

Sufficient time, perhaps, to find another badger.
Whereupon the solitariness will diminish.
I still won't be very neat, though.
And even less inclined to age.

Some things don't change.

Like most of the adult characters in Wind in the Willows, I also smoke a pipe. It was not a conscious imitation, but remarkable coincidence; many of the authors I had read, as well as their characters, were pipe smokers.
As a habit, pipesmoking used to be much more common.
The generation that built the twentieth century consisted mostly of men and women who drank strong coffee and martinis, struggled through incredible adversity, and smoked pipes.
Their influence loomed large during my childhood. My first unthinking foray into badgerhood was the purchase of a pipe when I was thirteen years old, followed two months later with the acquisition of some tobacco after I had turned fourteen. I have been drinking strong coffee ever since.

The early tins of smoke-weed did not resemble anything that mr. Badger (resident of the wild wood, somewhere in England) smoked. They weren't even English, but foul composts of mediocre leaf, heavily sauced.
In a word, dubious Dutch aromatics.

In mr. Badger's day and age, what we now call 'English Blends' were thought of as somewhat excessive and metropolitan, being at that time concoctions of dark Syrian leaf, fragrant Turkish, and enough flue-cured to provide a balance. Such mixtures were put up by specialty tobacconists in the big cities, who catered to the wealthy, the effete, the educated, and the upper echelons of the imperial civil service.

Out in the countryside, what was likely available and preferred was plain flake, rope tobacco, navy cut, twist, plug, and mixtures of flue-cured leaf with a little ribbon and some fire-cured. As well as perfumed dreck for rural degenerates.
Mr. Badger, Rattty, and the Mole, probably all smoked good solid Virginia cake. Most of the time. But I feel that mr. Badger may have experimented by modifying his tobacco, as any self-sufficient and inquisitive mustelid would naturally do.

Flakes are meant to be smoked by themselves. But they also make good base tobaccos for a more personal blend, with judicious additions of other leaves.

Most of my blending experiments have always been heavy on the Syrian and Turkish, what you might call Latakia dumps. These would NOT appeal to a short stocky English gentleman covered with fur, living so far outside the city that his residential environs are described as 'the wild wood'.

He would far more likely play around with something straightforward, modified to induce a contemplative mood, or provide solace on long winter evenings, when the drifts outside keep sensible creatures indoors by the fireplace. Perhaps with a book that he always meant to read, but to which he can now devote the time. Several hours with "Butterfly Collecting in the Hebrides".
Which sounds fascinating; perhaps I should finally write it.
A novelette, in the style of Stephenie Meyer.
Perfect for a bit of a giggle.

Lately I've been trying my hand at a medium Virginia flake with a touch of this and that. Something pleasant and contemplative. It's still mostly a gentle flake at heart, but a little different.

Suitable for after tea. Or a cup of Sumatra Mandheling.
Something that other badgers would like.
I think I've found it.

It's badger time.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013


She had never told her parents about the raccoon. Not because she was secretive, but because they might not understand; her parents did not like animals. And certainly not wild ones. They didn't even like kittens, if you can imagine that. She was glad her parents had found each other, as two people who hated kittens would have been lonely by themselves.

She called the raccoon "mr. Bang", because that was the sound of the screen when she first let him into the kitchen. The noise did not startle him, despite the sudden loudness, but she could tell he was intrigued. As well as a little disturbed by the fact that the handle was so high up. How would he get out? To put him at ease, she inserted an empty box between the door and the jamb. He rocognized its function, and relaxed.

He came in many times after that. She would do her homework at the kitchen table, having already prepped the door, and around twilight she almost always noticed a movement out of the corner of her eye. Mr. Bang had arrived. Shortly afterward his furry head and grey whiskers would pop up over the edge of the table as he settled into the other chair. She often explained the math problems to him, as putting them into words helped her understand.
He'd look at her really seriously while she did that, and nod his head.
Did he grasp what she was saying?
Well, perhaps he did. He looked very attentive and thoughtful when she talked. Raccoons don't speak English, though, so he couldn't respond. But she felt that he helped her, and he was good company.
Then he would eat some of the triscuits.

When she made herself a glass of warm milk at midnight, he would have some too. Afterwards he would wander over to the kitchen door, look back at her as if to say "good night, thank you for a lovely time", then let himself out. She locked the door and turned off the lights, and went up to bed. A while later she'd hear a cat yowling from a few gardens away, or the crash of a garbage can being overturned, and she knew that mr. Bang was doing raccoon stuff.
It was kind of like knowing an elderly Irishman. Stiff in a few joints, but still full of piss-and-vinegar. She wondered if he also smoked cheap stogies, like mr. Clancy who lived next door.

Over the years mr. Bang got greyer, and seemed to move a little slower. Raccoons don't live very long, and it was obvious that he was an old animal. She started buying apples and bananas for him -- not out of a sense of pity or charitableness, she simply wanted him to have his vitamins -- and he often curled up behind the water heater, instead of leaving to overturn garbage receptacles down the block. Her parents never discovered him when they came down for breakfast, as they were too busy chattering about stocks, bonds, and money management. After they had gone, he came out and sat at the kitchen table with her while she ate. She always put some of her toast and scrambled eggs on a little saucer for him at his seat, and he would eat the food very fastidiously. He never made a mess. All in all, a very neat fellow, and extremely even-tempered; quite the furry gentleman.
She'd set the kitchen door at a crack when she left.

Often there was evidence when she came back that he had explored the rest of the house during the day, but never anything out of order, and nothing missing. Sometimes her teddy bear would be propped up on her pillow, when she sort of remembered putting miss Flumps under the covers. Had she not done so?
Or had mr. Bang been visiting her room?
She rather suspected that he had, but she could not be sure.

The end came in the summer that she graduated from Junior High. He was very old and stiff now, but his eyes were as bright and friendly as ever. He moved with evident pain. So she fixed a box with a blanket for him, and put it between her bed and the dresser, where her parents wouldn't see it. He still ate apples and bananas, and she would cary the box into the kitchen every day so he could have some toast and scrambled eggs. Before she left she carried him back up to her room, and put miss Flumps in with him, to keep him company. He was usually dozing when she came back.
Later he would have a little warm milk and a bit of apple with her, before bedtime.

He passed away in his sleep one night in July. She cried when she saw him the next morning. That evening she buried him at the end of the yard under the rhododendron bush. Lovely purple flowers. He would like that.
She made the hole deep so that he wouldn't be disturbed.
Box, blanket, and miss Flumps for company.

Several years later she adopted a kitten; a striped tom that slept on her bed.
She named him Bang Junior. Because he helped her do her homework.
He looked at her really seriously when she talked.
A very attentive and thoughtful cat.

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In discussion with a friend the other day I scored a significant victory. He came around to my point of view. Which is remarkable. He had opined that watching a woman bathing was the most exciting thing to see, ever, and I politely disagreed. Watching a woman bathing is by no means all that interesting, I averred, as it was far too mundane. There is no mystery when you can see all parts exposed, and glistening as the soapy water cascades down. It may be artistic, it may also be beautiful -- and if you are hidden under the sink watching secretly (he admitted that he has never done that), it may even become a wonderful tension-filled experience -- but it is NOT a window into her inner life.

Food, on the other hand, is.

No, not that she sustains herself with edibles regularly. All women do that. But a woman enjoying food, really enjoying food, is a sight to behold.

For that, you need to avoid suburbanites and the nice white middle-classes. America leads the way both in obesity and dietary obsession, and office ladies are far more likely to obsess over the correct minuscule portion of rabbit-food and a weight loss bar sometime during the afternoon than to EVER enjoy what they are sticking into their mouths. They are sedentary, and their metabolism has slowed down. Any excess iota of taste will make their hips explode across the known universe. Just one cookie, and they'll weep and wail and have guilt pangs for weeks. Not to be too blunt about it, but absolutely no-one except an out-and-out sadist can even enjoy their own food in the presence of these frustrated neurotics.


Oh stuff it! Errm, I mean, UNstuff. Do NOT stuff. Avoid the stuff, stuff utterly not! How about I get you a barf bag? Do you need time alone with an exercise machine?

The office liposuction device?

That's why it's truly great to NOT eat anywhere in the Financial District for a while. No salad bars, no low-fat no added sugar health cuisine, no antioxidant-rich high fibre soy shakes. And no damned junkfood either.
Not a single can of diet soda in sight.

I made my argument persuasively, and convinced my friend by citing the sheer glory of smoothly glowing foreheads, faces lowered over food, eyes dreamily closed, elegant hands skillfully interacting with utensils, and every delicate feature shaded and detailed by light that shows off their noses, cheeks, and chins. All in an atmosphere of sincere food appreciation. Nothing, he now realizes, beats the intoxication of women taking pleasure in eating.
It is the most erotic sight in the world.

Tomorrow he's going into Chinatown to eat noodles.
I hope I don't see him at the places I frequent.
Quite awkward if I did.
I think he's a pervert.

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According to judge Alex Kozinski of the United States court of appeals for the ninth circuit, the Sea Shepherd crew are pirates.

[Source: Ref: Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington; opinion; No. 12-35266 D.C. No. 2:11-cv-02043-RAJ.]

I realize that many Dutchmen, New Zealanders, and Kangaroo-buggering cretins, pardon, "Australians" may disagree with that. Their objections are more than likely based on faulty thinking, insufferable self-righteousness, sanctimony, and a typical racist "we are better than that bunch" ideology.
Oh buggery well, and too bad.
Get stuffed.

Quote: "When you ram ships, hurl glass containers of acid, drag metal-reinforced ropes in the water to damage propellers and rudders, launch smoke bombs and flares with hooks; and point high-powered lasers at other ships, you are, without a doubt, a pirate."
End quote.

Quote: "The activities that Cetacean [the Japanese whalers] alleges Sea Shepherd has engaged in are clear instances of violent acts for private ends, the very embodiment of piracy."
End quote.

[Quote source:]

This blogger has long maintained that if the Japanese were to blast those violent activists to kingdom-come, they would be well within their rights, AND in accord with international laws against piracy. It is to their credit that they so far have not sank the Sea Shepherd, nor strung the Dutch, New Zealander, and Australian criminals up from the yard arm. Perhaps it's because modern ships don't actually have yard arms.

Quote: "It is for Australia, not Sea Shepherd, to police Australia's court orders."
End quote.

If you want to stop Japanese whaling, go to court. Request that your elected representatives stop violating kangaroos. Or, if you are in the Netherlands or New Zealand, get them to stop violating other beasts.
Force them to take action.

Now, can we lock up that bunch of nauseating racist holier-than-thou twats who have been taking the law into their own hands, and sue Paul Watson for funding criminal acts?

By the way, feel free to disagree with this post. If I even let your comments through, it might very well be because I wish to rip your argument to shreds, or highlight what an utter pustule you are. Normally I'm all for freedom of speech, but I'm somewhat bilious at present.

Comments by Dutch-speakers are automatically suspect.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013


I may have mentioned that I seldom cook anymore, seeing as cooking for just one person isn't exactly the most thrilling activity in the world. In fact, I've become rather casual about dining. Snacky things, little trips to eateries in Chinatown where the food is tasty and the people-watching fine, and such like. As well as an experience involving habaneros, which gave me wonderful golden-orange dreams. Before I woke up in distress.

So you'll be pleased to know that I had something healthy.
Quite recently, in fact.

Chunked honey-dew melon whizzed to smithers in the blender, with yoghurt, vitamin fortified fruit juice, and milk.
A nutritious and refreshing shake, in lieu of dinner.
Oh yes, just bursting with goodness.
Saintly food.

I made it ten minutes after I had finished off the remains of a bag of sour cream and cheddar potato chips. Think of it as a sequential presentation of (two) courses in a dairy meal.

Yoghurt, apparently, is good for you.
Intestinal flora and fauna.
It's cultural.

I don't think I've ever dreamed of habanero chilies before; it's really beautiful.
A bush full of glorious glowing orange goodness, shaped like little Chinese lanterns. Exceptionally festive.
I must try not to do that again.

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Monday, February 25, 2013


One of the pleasures of living close to Chinatown is that one can scoot across the hill for a milk-tea and a snackipoo at a moment's notice. Nothing quite beats a hot stimulating beverage and a small pastry for sheer affordable comfort. Most coffee shops are gone, and their place taken by bakeries with big dining-hall coffee machines. Counter seating no longer exists, and lunch specials are hard to find. But the places that are around nowadays are just as good an environment to hide out for an hour or two as their predecessors.
And the selection of snackipoos, though not entirely the same, still features many familiar items, and there's a wider selection besides.
So you won't hear me complaining.

Especially not with a snoutful of buttery crumbs.

I suspect that at such times I must look incredibly guilty.

You'll just have to imagine the shenanigans I might have been up to.

Recently that was a strong cup of gong-sik naai chaa (港式奶茶) and a lou-poh beng (老婆餅) at the Yummy Bakery And Cafe (人仁西餅麵包) down on Jackson Street. Their cakes are very good (far too much for one person, though), their selection of interesting snackipoos is outstanding, and the young fellow behind the counter can't recall that I speak Cantonese if I haven't been there in a while, though the boss-lady (老闆娘) remembers it quite well.
I guess to the young, all of us older people look the same. And there must be hundreds of mature men in San Francisco, though you wouldn't think it.
This being a city for brash twenty-somethings, and all that.


Yes, uncle (阿叔) is feeling his age. Not in the sense of creaking and tremors, which are still several decades in the future if at all, but in recognition of the fact that I am older than Jayzus in the eyes of young people. Being, as I am, just a little bit over thirty. Which is impossibly ancient, good heavens, I probably need a walker, and my nice hot milky-milk at night. Plus a nurse!
It doesn't help that I keep meeting sweet young couples. Lovers who are just so bubblingly full of piss that a man feels like going into hiding, even though many of them think I'm like, totally, fascinating.
Sometimes they refer to me as 'Professor'. Either because I smoke a pipe, or seem to know stuff about quite a number of things.
Knowledge: it's frightfully old-school.

Anyway, they'll frequently pull my whiskers conversationally for a while, and thank me ever so prettily for my time. Then they leave holding hands.
Why are all these people in relationships? Such things are wasted on immature kiddies! Darn it, this dry old fart would like it so much if a nice shy bookish librarian would chat with me for hours. Young lady with brains and glasses?
I would try to be at my most scintillating!


I'm fairly certain the girl who works there on occasion remembers my minor linguistic ability; she always seems far less flusterable, far more in control.
But both of them are very competent and gracious. As well as conscientious.
It says a lot for the owner that she brings out the best in her staff, who may actually be relatives. Good people, and a good place.

I stayed for forty five minutes finishing my tea, and saw several customers come in, scope out the offerings, make their choices, and leave happy.
A number of them bought a selection of pastries for family or work-mates.
All over Chinatown there are folks with buttery crumbs on their lips.
Radiant people, with dreamy smiles.

It's yummy.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
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Sunday, February 24, 2013


If you came here for photos of the wife of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, there are a few minor bureaucratic procedures that must be completed before we continue on to the shocking revelations. We'll need a stool sample, a DNA swab, your fingerprints, and a retinal scan, in addition to application forms filled out in triplicate (you will find the necessary documents elsewhere on this site), as well as a full psychiatric evaluation, and an affidavit from your solicitor attesting to your emotional and financial stability.

Italians need not apply.

Reason being that those silly buggers probably already saw the pictures in a gossip rag published by Mondadori in Milan. Southern European paparazzi pursue the prurient interests of their public with an obsessive single-mindedness and efficiency which puts Chinese military internet hackers to shame. And we WOULD have written about that, but those cleanminded Asians In Uniform just aren't interested in this forum, and, despite the repeated mention of high-rise panties, seafood, and manga characters in a Japanese high-school setting, have failed to compromise the security of this site.

But they ought to read it avidly.

Purely for relaxation.

More about those photos of Kate later.

Please note embedded links at the bottom of this page.

This blogger is both pleased and amazed at the avid public interest in photographic evidence that royalty consists of real humans with real body parts. In that, they resemble us; we also have body parts. Shan't tell you where they're hidden.


What flabberghasts many people who seldom read manga (漫画) is the enormous number of strips featuring students. Surely, they wonder, those Japanese must be obsessed with teenagers? Specifically young nubile girls? Panties? Well, yes. Societally they worship nubility. And panties. But the high-school setting of popular manga is not based on that.

As a short sampling of manga will show.

[Note: the following short descriptions of specific manga and anime are from Wikipedia. Enough material is presented there that it seemed better to feature cherry-pickings. For the full articles, please click on the link cited as 'source'.]

Azumanga Daioh (あずまんが大王 Azumanga Daiō, lit. "Great King Azumanga") is a Japanese comedy manga by Kiyohiko Azuma. It was serialized by MediaWorks in the shōnen manga magazine Dengeki Daioh from 1999 to 2002 and collected in four bound volumes.

The manga is drawn in a series of vertical four-panel comic strips called yonkoma and depicts the lives of a group of girls during their three years as high-school classmates. The series has been praised for its humor driven by eccentric characters, and Kiyohiko Azuma acclaimed as a "master of the four-panel form," for both his art style and comic timing. -- Azumanga Daioh chronicles the everyday life in an unnamed Japanese high school of six girls and two of their teachers.

The story covers three years of tests, talking between classes, culture festivals, and athletic events at school, as well as time spent traveling to and from school, studying at Chiyo's house, and vacations spent at Chiyo's summer beach home and the fictional theme park Magical Land, concluding with the graduation of the main cast. It is generally realistic in tone, marked by occasional bursts of surrealism and absurdity, such as Osaka imagining Chiyo's ponytails being "unscrewed" from her head and an episode featuring the characters' New Year's dreams.


Chibi Vampire, originally released in Japan as Karin (かりん), is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Yuna Kagesaki. The story is about an unusual vampire girl, who instead of drinking blood must inject it into others because she produces too much.

Karin Maaka is the middle child in a family of vampires who immigrated to Japan two centuries earlier. Unlike the rest of her family, Karin does not feed on blood, she produces it. As a result, she is forced to bite others to expel the extra blood, lest she suffer exaggerated nose-bleeds. She also exhibits no normal vampire traits, and instead lives her life just as an ordinary teenage girl would. She can go outside during the day, attends high school, and follows the sleep pattern of normal humans. However, the general peacefulness of her life is disrupted with the arrival of a new transfer student, Kenta Usui.

Any time she goes near him her blood increases.


Cromartie High School (魁!!クロマティ高校 Sakigake! Kuromati Kōkō, fully titled "Forging Valiantly Ahead!! Cromartie High School) by Eiji Nonaka, is a Japanese comedy manga.

It follows the everyday life of Takashi Kamiyama and his odd classmates at Cromartie High School, an infamous school for delinquents.

Shinichi Mechazawa (メカ沢 新一 Mekazawa Shin'ichi): One of the most notorious delinquents of Cromartie. Though there is a rumor that he may be perhaps a robot, no one but the main characters (Kamiyama, Hayashida, Maeda, etc.) seems to notice, including himself.


Dokaben (ドカベン) is a baseball manga by Shinji Mizushima, serialized in Akita Shoten Weekly Shōnen Champion magazine from April 24, 1972 to March 27, 1981.

Dokaben is centered on Taro Yamada and his teammates Iwaki, Tonoma, and Satonaka and was focused mainly on their activity as a high school baseball team. At first, it focused on Yamada, Iwaki, and Sachiko and was set in Takaoka Middle School. But in Volume 8 the team is transferred to Meikun High School for their baseball skills.

The story of Dokaben continues in Dai Kōshien, Dokaben Pro Baseball Story, and Dokaben SuperStars Story.


Gokusen (ごくせん) is a manga series by Kozueko Morimoto. The story follows Kumiko Yamaguchi, the granddaughter of a Yakuza boss and teacher at an all-male private high school.

The plot involves Kumiko Yamaguchi, the granddaughter of a Yakuza boss, Kuroda of the Kuroda Ikka. Her parents died when she was at the age of seven, and her grandfather had no other descendants, so Kumiko is next in line to head the family business with the title of Ojou. However, her lifelong dream has been to become a teacher. While her grandfather approves of her choice, others in the family want her to become the next boss.

Kumiko (known by her students as "Yankumi") becomes a teacher at an all-boys private high school. Her class is full of delinquents, but she tries her hardest to teach them not just about academics (her subject is Mathematics), but about lessons of life, much like any "dedicated teacher" story. Though she's forced to keep her family a secret from the public, her Yakuza upbringing gives her the strength and the experience to reach out to her students, while also providing comedic relief.


High School! Kimengumi (ハイスクール! 奇面組 Haisukūru! Kimengumi) is a manga series written by Motoei Shinzawa which ran in Weekly Shōnen Jump from 1982 to 1987. The title literally translates to High School! Funny-face Club or High School! Weird Face Club.

Kimengumi is an episodic chronicle of the bizarre adventures of a group of misfit junior high school (and later, high school) boys who form a club known as the "Kimengumi".


Kanokon: Kanokon's story revolves around Kouta Oyamada, an extremely innocent young first-year high school student who moves from the country to the city and thus transfers to Kunpō High School. On his first day at his new school, he meets a beautiful second-year female student named Chizuru Minamoto. Chizuru asks him to meet her alone in the music room. When he arrives, she tells him that she is in love with him and accidentally reveals to him that she is in fact a fox spirit. Chizuru constantly and openly flirts with Kouta, even in front of others, which embarrasses him greatly. Soon after the story begins, a wolf spirit named Nozomu Ezomori transfers into Kouta's school and class. From day one, she is all over Kouta, which serves to embarrass him more and cause Chizuru to become annoyed at her new competition for Kouta's affection.


Major is a sports manga series by Takuya Mitsuda. It has been serialized in Shōnen Sunday and has been collected in 78 tankōbon volumes. In 1996, it received the Shogakukan Manga Award for shōnen.

The story of Major follows the life of Gorō Honda, from kindergarten to being a professional baseball player, seeking and overcoming tremendous challenges. Sequentially: Kindergarten ~ First grade (volume 01 chapter 01 - volume 03 chapter 06), Little League (volume 03 chapter 07 - volume 14 chapter 05), Junior High (volume 14 chapter 06 - volume 24 chapter 02), Kaido High School (volume 24 chapter 03 - volume 33 chapter 02), Seishu High School (volume 33 Chapter 03 - volume 46 Chapter 10), Minor league baseball (volume 47 chapter 01 - volume 54 chapter 02), etcetera.


Midori Days (美鳥の日々 Midori no Hibi) is a shōnen fantasy manga by Kazurou Inoue. It was published by Shogakukan in the magazine Shōnen Sunday from September 2002 until November 2004 and collected in 8 tankōbon volumes. It is licensed in English in North America by VIZ Media and in Singapore by Chuang Yi. The series is about a high school boy who one day finds his right hand replaced with a girl named Midori and his attempts to return her to her real body.


Ranma ½ (らんま½ Ranma Nibun-no-Ichi, pronounced Ranma One-Half) is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Rumiko Takahashi. It was originally serialized in Shogakukan's Weekly Shōnen Sunday from September 1987 to March 1996, and later collected into 38 tankōbon volumes. The story revolves around a 16-year old boy named Ranma Saotome who was trained from early childhood in martial arts. As a result of an accident during a training journey, he is cursed to become a girl when splashed with cold water, while hot water changes him back into a boy.

Ranma ½ had a comedic formula and a sex changing main character, who often willfully changes into a girl to advance his goals. The series also contains many other characters, whose intricate relationships with each other, unusual characteristics and eccentric personalities drive most of the stories.


Saki (咲-Saki) is an ongoing Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Ritz Kobayashi. The story revolves around a first-year high school girl named Saki Miyanaga who is brought into the competitive world of mahjong by another first-year, Nodoka Haramura.

Saki Miyanaga, a high school first-year student, hates mahjong because her family would always force her to play it and punish her regardless of the outcome of the game. Due to this, she learned how to keep her score at zero, neither winning nor losing, a skill said to be more difficult than actually consistently winning.


Sakigake!! Otokojuku (魁!!男塾, lit. Charge! Men's Private School) by Akira Miyashita is a comedy martial arts manga that was originally serialized at the Weekly Shōnen Jump from 1985 to 1991. It is staged in a private boy's school that teaches ōendan to troubled teenagers. The students are trained to "revive the Spirit of Japan" and mainly engage in fighting or killing courses. The nature of the manga is usually considered by the readers as a comical, or even parodic view of Japanese nationalism.

The martial arts depicted in this series are also highly exaggerated. Whenever someone is about to play an otherworldly trick, the author draws a sidebar to explain it and cites an encyclopedia-style explanation from books published by "Minmei Publishing Co." (民明書房) which is a fictitious story-telling device.


Samurai Girl: Real Bout High School (召喚教師リアルバウトハイスクール Shoukan Kyoushi Riaru Bauto Hai Sukūru) is a Japanese light novel series written by Reiji Saiga and illustrated by Sora Inoue. It was serialized in Dragon Magazine from 1997 to 2010.

The story revolves around a school that doesn't break up fights, but rather, they grade them.


Shakugan no Shana (灼眼のシャナ, lit. Shana of the Burning Eyes), also known simply as Shana, is a Japanese light novel series written by Yashichiro Takahashi with illustrations by Noizi Ito. ASCII Media Works published 26 novels from November 2002 to November 2012 under their Dengeki Bunko imprint. The story focuses on Yuji Sakai, a high school boy who inadvertently becomes involved in an age-old conflict between forces of balance and imbalance in existence.

In an early draft of what would later become Shakugan no Shana, Yashichiro Takahashi set the story in a different dimension and described the main character as having the initial personality of Shana, but the appearance of an older woman similar to Margery Daw. However, after talking with an editor, Takahashi rewrote the character to have the appearance of a young girl. In doing so, he used Shana's small build to symbolize a story of growth and to emphasize the physical conflict between her and her opponents.



Mention naturally must also be made of Anime, that being the corollary to the mangaverse. And yes, there are high-schools there also.

Just to mention two of them:

Girls und Panzer (ガールズ&パンツァー Gāruzu ando Pantsā) is a 2012 Japanese anime television series created by Actas.

The story takes place in a universe where girls participate in Sensha-dō (戦車道, lit. "Way of the Tank"), the art of operating tanks, as a traditional martial art. Miho Nishizumi, a girl who has had a bad experience with Sensha-dō, transfers to Ōarai Girl's High School to get away from it. However, soon after joining, the school revives Sensha-dō and Miho, being the only student with any experience in operating a tank, is ordered to take part.


K (or referred sometimes as K Project) is a 2012 anime series animated by the studio GoHands and directed by Shingo Suzuki.

Yashiro Isana has lived a relatively ordinary, simple life. He lives in the technology-advanced Shizume City and attends Ashinaka High School, a notable high school that is located on an island just outside the areas. Yashiro is friendly with everyone. Nothing ever seems wrong about him, except perhaps his habit of forgetting where his school-issued PDA is.

However, nothing normal has been happening since the recent murder of Tatara Totsuka, prominent member of the infamous HOMRA. No one knows who exactly killed him but the man responsible bears an uncanny, identical appearance to Yashiro. Seeking vengeance, the Red Clansmen of HOMRA set out to get Yashiro and kill him.

Everyone suspects that Yashiro is the murderer. But whether or not he is guilty is not clear.



Mostly, Japanese mangas set in high schools feauture baseball, comedy, and violence. Yes, panties are occasionally provided for your edification, but they aren't the main theme, more of a happy coincidence. The primary reason for setting so many stories in a high school is that these are an easily recognized locale, in which a multitude of characters have good reason to encounter each other under a variety of circumstances. A more intimate microcosm of society, in a way. Additionally, as for most of the readers the stresses and conflicts of the place have become a fond memory, they provide a familiar and non-threatening reference.

Anybody who truly wishes to know the Japanese must read manga. People who want to understand the Italians, however, would probably benefit from reading about the Duchess of Cambridge's bikini instead.

Italians, and famous English people in bikinis.
It's a peculiar obsession, if you ask me.
I kind of lost track of the bikini.
It didn't really interest me.
Sorry about that.

Better they should read about manga anyway.
It's much more interesting.

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There are times when one has to soberly face stark reality. Grasp the bull by the horns, admit frailty, and deal with the truth. Which is that my judgement may be lopsided, once in a while. Especially after smoking several pipes at the cigar bar. The phrase that comes to mind is "what the heck was I thinking", followed almost immediately afterwards by "boy was I ever stupid!"
No, I did not go home with a floozie who stank of seegers.
Didn't even flirt with a large-breasted woman.
Behaved entirely like a gentleman.

I went home with "dos, con todo".
Preceded by "por favor".
Muchas gracias.

Two bacon-wrapped hotdogs, with the works: mayo, mustard, ketchup, grilled onions, and chiles jalapeños en escabeche. Which I took home, because I do not like to eat on the street surrounded by drunken yobbos. Not being either of those qualifiers, their company cannot thrill.

When I got to the apartment, I realized that I had been an extremely temperate man all evening, having dawdled over two whisky-waters for many hours. Yes, several pipes -- but those were taken calm and slow. Nothing excessive there. And I hadn't even oogled the large breasted woman. With the ruby-hued lipstick, smiling eyes, and pretty purple cocktail dress. Which was just a wee bit too short, and showed off ALL of her very curvy thighs.
Pantyhose holds everything together, I assume.
Didn't even pay her any attention.
I am a pipe-smoker.

Once I put the two tinfoil wrapped bacon-dogs on the kitchen counter, that temperance went right out the window. I felt that they needed something extra, and the exact ticket was in the refrigerator.
[What more suitable for the Chinese New Year Season than something festive and orange? It's a good luck colour that suggests happiness. And it was abundantly in evidence last night as marching bands, grammar schools, and floats sponsored by commercial entities wound their way down Kearny Street in the annual extravaganza hosted by Southwest Airlines.
I was otherwise engaged, but I was well aware of the colour appropriate for the event.

That shade of brilliant orange is one of the most beautiful things to meet the eye. ]

Mezzetta brand pickled Habaneros.

I decided not to slice them. The last time I sliced chilies, I accidentally rubbed my eye-lids. You can imagine the result. So, no slicing, lest things go wrong.
It's a question of common sense, really.


Ingredients: Chiles Habaneros, agua, vinagre, sal, cloruro de calcio, bisulfato de sodio, agregado como establizadore do color, FD&C amarillo #5, curcuma.

Serving size: About 4 peppers (30g)
Refrigerate after opening / Refrigerese despues de abrir

Delicious in any language.
Temperance means only one serving.
Restraint is my watchword, so I limited myself to precisely one.

Earlier in the day I had eaten bittermelon stirfried with chicken and blackbean sauce for dinner, which always requires about five or six tablespoons of Sriracha for the perfect taste. This was after a mid-day snack of Doritos salsa verde flavored tortilla chips™ , which I had dipped in actual fresh salsa verde. Delicious! But it was small, I did not eat even half the bag. A mere taste, so as not to ruin my appetite.

Temperance. Restraint. And common sense.

Whole peppers. Two of them. On each dog.

Did I mention that I had smoked several pipes yesterday while at the cigar bar? That fact is crucial to an understanding of the mental processes. Nicotine is a stimulant, you see, and present in higher doses in flue-cured tobaccos and Burley than in Oriental mixtures. I alternated back and forth between a very nice aged flake (flue-cured) and Old Joe Kranz (Burley and Red Virginia).
I also had two or three glasses of coffee ice to cleanse my palate.
I may have been a wee bit over-confident.
Overstimulated, in any case.
Six bowls full.

The hot dogs tasted fine.

I've been up since five AM. On my sixth tall glass of yoghurt whipped into a soothing beverage with milk, sugar, and water. I have felt porcelain twice already this morning. And I'll be back.

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The beautiful town of Gatkes rise high over Ketsegbeises Folyam, a minor tributary of the Danube, several miles before it joins that famous river. During the Habsbourg centuries it was know as Unterbruchen, though the original Hungarian name, Bugyi, was still in common currency.
Bugyi remains a by-word for earthly delights to this day.

It was here that the genius later know as Rabbeinu Mi Gatkes established a small beis medresh that brought the joy of knowledge to many surrounding communities.

"Va'aseh lachem michnesei vad lechassot basar ervah, mimatenayim v' ad yerechayim yich-hu."

Taking as his grundshlag this possuk from Seifer Shemos (28:42), the Ramgat (Rabbeinu Mi Gatkes) shperred that this commandment was fundamental to a tzniusdikke lebn in golus.
And, lechatchilla, that it would no longer be nutzlich upon the coming of Mosshiach, for as it is written, "ve-shafat betzedek dalim ve-hochiah bemishor leianvei aretz, vehikkah eretz b'shevet piv-u-verruach sfatav yamit rasha" ('He will judge the righteous poor and judge with fearness the constricted, and strike down with the stick of his mouth the wicked'), and further "ufeduyi YHW yeshuvun uva-u Tzion berinnah ve simchat olam al rosham sasa ve simcha yassigun hasu-yagon v'anachah" ('and therefore the Lord's righteous people shall return to Zion with joy upon their heads, while sorrow and conflict shall disappear forever').
Which mamesh must imply that what once they wore so low will now be worn strictly upon their brow.
Lemai nafka mina, what else could liberation mean?

And if some wore festive linen garments on their heads anticipatorily, they should not be faulted, because it is in the nature of man to hope.

[If anything, this was stam azoi about French ailments ('le brûlage du clappe'), for is not a severe itch prophesied? Vi es shteyt geshribn, 'both shields and corsets --- shall burn on them for seven years'.]

"U magen vetzinnah --- ubi'aru bachem es sheva sanim"
[Yechezkiel 39:9]

The Ramgat and his eishis chayil disported themselves oif shabbes without the constrictions favoured by the local goyim, which was commented upon favourably by many.
Gradda, even the neighborhood galachim praised their ruchnius and gashmius, and could often be found in a deep state of inspiration in their abode, studying bronfen with vigour.
Ad delo yoda bein Haman.....

The Ramgat's life work is found in the Likkutei Gatkes, and may be perushed at your local library.
Both the Rebbe of Prolicz and the Baal Ha Turetz studied it.
We can davka do no less.

A gitten voch, y'all.

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Saturday, February 23, 2013


The past few days I have been thinking about food. In hot juicy detail. It's far better than sex, and can be shared with more people. The same, obviously, goes for talking about the subject. Though if you wish to take this blogpost as a lascivious leer or soft romantic smile from a stranger, go right ahead.
I shall not stop you. Please also imagine me as talk dark and handsome while you're at it.

[Full literary disclosure: in complete contrast to the imagined hot and hunky stranger above, the actual blogger here is five foot eight and a half, of a rather Caucasian hue in general, with a trim beard and moustache which are distressingly more salt than pepper. Streaks of silver in the hair at the temples. Middle-aged -- handsomely mature by his own dodderingly misguided reckoning, but probably a super-annuated old fossil in the eyes of anyone under thirty -- and much more like a scholarly gnome or distant relative of Gandalf than the studly vampire lover of your fantasies.]

Now, while you are looking all blurfle-eyed and blushing, day-dreaming of the eternally youthful hero of Twilight or the vibrant and sweating habitués of The Raven in Toronto, amid scenes of pounding music, I shall describe some dishes I haven't made in quite a long while, as I seldom cook anymore.
But they would go well together at a small dinner.

Ginger-scallion simmered chicken chunks

One pound chicken on the bone, whacked into chopstickable pieces.
Three scallions, sectioned.
Sliced ginger.
4 TBS sherry.
2 TBS soy sauce.
1 TBS sugar.

Wash and dry chicken, dust with a teaspoon of cornflour, add a dash of oil and toss to coat. Stirfry in scant oil to firm up. Decant temporarily to a plate.
Sauté ginger and scallion till fragrant, add chicken to the pan along with the sherry, soy sauce, sugar, and a splash of water. Simmer on low for ten to fifteen minutes.
Put in a shallow bowl to serve.

Fried sauced shrimp

One pound of medium prawns.
Three scallions, chopped.
A little minced ginger.
Two TBS sherry.
One Tsp. sugar.
A little hot chili paste.
Pinches of salt and ground white pepper.
Drops of sesame oil.

One egg white.
One TBS cornflour.

Rip off the legs of the prawns, de-shell, and remove the vein. Rinse, dry. Whisk the egg white and cornflour smooth, dip the prawns, and deep fry in hot oil till golden. Note that if you have a wok, this will require less oil and be easier to do. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Sauté ginger and scallion till fragrant. Add the sherry, sugar, chili paste, pinches and drops, plus a little water. Cook till it starts to become glazy, add the prawns, and toss to coat.
Decant onto a plate.

Salt fish and fatty pork in clay pot

One pound of streaky belly pork (naam yiuk 腩肉).
Less than a fifth that amount salt fish, judged by eye.
Four or five whole shallots, peeled.
Four or five cloves garlic, left whole.
Some sliced ginger.
Quarter cup sherry.
One TBS fish sauce (yü lou 魚露).
One TBS sugar.

Blanch the pork whole fully till firmed up, drain and rinse under cold water. Dry it, and cut it into chunks. Soak and drain the salt fish, dice it small. And note that it is supposed to be a contributing flavour, not a dominant ingredient. Fry the pork with the ginger and whole garlic cloves till slightly golden, and decant to a clay pot.
Fry the dried fish similarly and add to the clay pot. Put the shallots in also, add the sherry, fish sauce, and sugar, and half a cup of water. Put the clay pot on low heat, and simmer gently for one and a half hours.
Before taking it off the flame, stir in a handfull of spinach leaves to wilt.

NOTE: Regarding the salt fish, it is best to use specimens which are solid, firm, and entirely unfermented (sat yiuk haahm yü 實肉鹹魚).
But these may be very hard to find in C'town.
By far the most common types of dried fish (described as "moldy perfume salt fish" - mui heung haahm yü 霉香鹹魚) are fully fermented products, delicious and perfect for eating during warm weather, which have been implicated in a higher incidence of naso-pharyngeal cancers in Southern China.
Cantonese people love that scrumptious salty-fishy taste, and consume more of it than anyone else (you knew there was a reason why you liked their food).

If you don't have any dried fish in your larder, you can modify the recipe above by using shrimp paste (haahm haa jeung 鹹蝦醬) instead.

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Friday, February 22, 2013


You've always had your doubts about aunt Gertrude and uncle Janosc, don't deny it. It started when you were still very little, and they had to babysit you.
Those fairy tales they told you to make you sleep always had a disturbing end to them, and the fact that they spoke with guttural European accents, like the bad guys in movies, didn't help.

You STILL remember the evil dragon threatening to cut off the fingers and toes of Princess Zjitnyakhleiba, to be used in a delicious spicy salami for his friends. There were other physical parts that he lovingly dwelt upon too. Seemingly his friends were insatiable, bestial, and terrible. And very hungry.
All of this detailed in uncle Janosc's severe gulag-guard growl.
Your parents wondered why you lost weight.
And had dark-shadows.

Good thing Prince Shynkuyayechni came to her rescue.
How horrible that he smelled of pigs and chickens!
There's moral there somewhere, but you forgot.
Something about luck balanced by curses.

Aunt Gertrude's lessons in cookery made the problem worse. Everything she and her husband ate involved offal and cabbage. Usually cooked with vinegar, caraway, and paprika. Offal rolled in cabbage leaves, served in sauce. Chopped-cabbage stuffed offal, with a spicy glaze. Festive offal and cabbage compote, on a bed of groats. With a spicy sour-sauce. It might not have been so bad if these dishes had been mostly cabbage. Squeaky gaseous food, to be sure, but digestible, with enough vodka. But the two of them had survived the war, so they overloaded on the animal component. Very dubious proteins.
Children are NOT supposed to rely on vodka to keep their dinner down.

Then you got married to Stanko, and aunt Gertrude insisted that you wear her grandmother's wedding dress -- the one with the fifty thousand roubles sewn into the lining of the cape "for good luck" -- and carefully explained in detail about the bucket of fresh chicken blood you should hide under the bed.
In her village, apparently, the ceremonial procession with proof of virginity was quite the show. All the relatives expected a theatrical overload of evidence. Whereupon the priest would bless it, screaming aloud so all the saints in the church could hear "osvetiba oba chisto kruv", and the ladies garbed in black would beat their breasts, singing in response "svekako iesto chistohi kruv".

The wedding feast included onions, offal, and cabbage.

And that, of course, explains why you left Detroit and came to California. Their voices still give you the willies. You've destroyed half of your wedding pictures, because the darn things caused nightmares. You got married again, this time in a nice normal ceremony on top of a hill in Marin county, with vows that you and darling Reynaldo had written yourselves.
Your mother, now hitched to yet another muscle-bound blond young German (the fifth one in ten years!), calls you from back east.
Why don't you come home, she asks. The whole family will be there.
It's your uncle Janosc's hundredth birthday.
Silently, you shudder.


And yet, for some reason, you actually look forward to the aromatic pungency of caraway and the sharp sting of malt vinegar. With just a hint of burnt paprika, oh subtle perfume.
Plus holubtsi.

*      *      *      *      *

Yeah, I listened to some crusty immigrant talk about the old country again.
Tried explaining that for me the old country was nowhere even near Hurski Naselnyi Vidmami -- where so ever the heck that is -- but somewhere much further west. I couldn't get a word in edgewise. And because he was having a grand old time reliving the past, I just let him go on, and occasionally looked quizzical, so that he would explain the cuisine or fascinating folklore in more detail. A nice old fellow. Keen appreciation for coffee.
And he didn't mind my pipe.

This post is dedicated to Lipman and e-kvetcher, because they once explained to me what 'subranie' meant, and also to Midianite Manna, because it contains tons of paprika.
And I suspect all three of them know such people.

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Thursday, February 21, 2013


But one must have milk-tea! It's the immutable rule! She spoke with utter conviction, never having considered the alternatives. What else did one go to a 'tea restaurant' for, if not the tea? Hong Kong style milk-tea is made by boiling the beverage for about five minutes, pouring it through cloth into the glass, and adding evaporated milk for sweetness and light. The straining through the sackcloth filter gave the beverage a more velvety mouth-feel. This was very important!

Her companion had not considered these things, and didn't have much of an opinion about the subject. He was hungry, and he wanted to feed her. Watching her complete and dreamy concentration as she tucked in to something yummy was infinitely enchanting. She was too small and skinny, and he looked forward to buying her many more dinners. On her own she did not eat much, often being so distracted by homework that it would be late night by the time she twitched up with an appetite. Her three roommates would be asleep by then, and clanging around in the kitchen was out of the question. He had spoken to her on the phone at those times, as she quietly polished-off some crackers or seaweed chips.
So unhealthy! A woman needs to eat!

He had offered to come pick her up, take her somewhere were there was rich greasy food, put something in her stomach. But no, it wasn't proper for young ladies to be out at midnight. Why not? Well, dangerous, lah. And cold. And too many drunkards, it just looks very bad, and might give strange people ideas...... Well, silly, yes. But most frighteningly of all, that's when everyone turned to pumpkins!
In any case, she absolutely refused.
Midnight was the time to sleep. Otherwise you'd wake up grumpy and tired the next day, and be a zombie in class.

Pre-emptively he got into the habit of picking her up at around five o'clock -- just for a little while, sweetie -- and on some pretext or other leading her down to the old neighborhood. Then, pretending peckishness (actually a very real appetite), he'd finagle her into a coffee shop or cha-chanteng ("tea restaurant"), and persuade her to eat. The hot beverage, as far as he was concerned, was a necessary part of the experience. The caffeine would prevent her from getting sleepy afterwards, and he knew that she would go home and spend at least four more hours studying.
Lord, he would love to be with her at that time!
No, no naughty intentions. She just looked so adorable with her brow furrowed, her face limned by the light of the desk lamp. And with three roommates, anything wicked was out of the question. Keep the door open, and all the lights on. But it would distract her, and the girls she shared the apartment with were inquisitive and social. They would interrupt when he was there. What did he do? Where was he from? Was his family wealthy? Did he want to play mahjong? Oh please, now there's four of us, and she NEVER plays!

Women! So much trouble!
When all he really wanted to do was watch his lady read.

She studied the menu with quite as much seriousness as her textbooks. Roast duck noodles? Or mixed meat and noodles? No, wait, they also had braised yi min with duck meat, so much more textural! But if texture was the determinant, maybe ox-tongue with corn sauce, and spaghetti instead of rice....... Food was as fascinating a subject as clinical psychology.

He deliberately ordered something which could be shared. That way, he'd have an excuse to also have dessert afterwards. He had learned that if he got her her own pudding, she would not touch it. But she'd gladly have some of his, oh only a little, just one more bite, mmmmm, the rest is ALL yours.

She was still so very small and thin. She probably wouldn't develop any more height or bone mass, and it would be years at this rate before she had any plumpness.
He anticipated many more meals together, just "taking her out for tea".
In the meantime, she sipped happily, and dreamed of duck.
Mmmmmmmmm! Roast duck!
A good duck.


Hong Kong milk-tea: Heung-Gong naai cha (香港奶茶), usually simply called naai cha (奶茶). Tea-restaurant: a type of restaurant popular in Hong Kong (香港) that incorporates Western style foods and beverages into Chinese cuisine. Usually places where you can grab a quick bite and a stimulating beverage, or dawdle for a while. Called cha-chanteng (茶餐廳) in Cantonese. They're appelled thus because the first beverage is milk-tea. The menu is both varied and flabberghasting. Evaporated milk: milk which has had nearly two thirds of the water dehydrated out, yielding a product with a much longer shelf-life. Called 'daam naai (淡奶), and fairly common in HK.
Roommate: sat-yau (室友) or tong-ok (同屋). The first term indicates an apartment companion, the second someone who lives in the same residence or house. Seaweed chips: any one of many tasty Japanese snacky things, made with rice flour or tapioca flour, flavoured with seaweed. They're addictive. Zombie: the walking dead. Often suburbanite.
Keep the door open: an essential and trained behavioural pattern, to establish clearly that any suspicions should be out of the question. Mahjong: a Jewish game played with tiles that is very popular in Asia.

Roast duck noodles: siu-ngaap tong min (燒鴨湯麵), which consists of duck chunks in broth with thin wheat flour noodles. $6.95.
Mixed meat noodles: baat-jan tong min (八珍湯麵), organ meats and dried black mushrooms in soup with wheat noodles. $5.95.
Braised yi min with duck meat: ngaap-si gon-siu yi-min (鴨絲幹燒伊麵); sliced duck dry-braised with chewy yellow noodles, very delicious. Please note that 幹 stands in for 乾, which is a little off, due to another meaning of 幹 which you really do not need to know about. $7.50.
Ox-tongue with corn sauce: suk-mai ngau lei (粟米牛利), a very HK preparation, combining a cheap meat with a textural experience. The term 利 means profit, but stands in for 脷, which is the Cantonese word for tongue. $6.75.
With spaghetti instead of rice: spaghetti has become popular in Hong Kong, where the menu will usually use 意粉 (yi fan) instead of the dryly bookish 意大利麵 (yi taai lei min). The choice here is 燴飯或意粉 (wui fan waak yi-fan), with gravied rice or (或) Italian noodles. 燴 means braised with something, but in this case baked en casserole.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013


I like goats. Consequently I've hit replay on the now deservedly famous commercial featuring a lovable scamp named 'Moose' several times, with feverish hands. That, gentlemen, is one personable goat!



Copyright: Doritos®
Not only are their chips packed with serious crunch and bold flavors, the DORITOS® brand is all about bold experiences in snacking and beyond.

If I had been born a goat, this is what I would want to be.

Such personality!

For the truly obsessed, Moose the Goat is also on Facebook:

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One of the dishes that begs for company is goat curry. Not the celebrated Jamaican dish, nor the hot Hyderabadi feast food, but a nice golden-hued treat-your-friends Dutch-Indonesian soup-stew.
I was reminded of this by watching the now famous Doritos Goat commercial, featuring a loveable beast named 'Moose', who commits domestic violence on the timorous quaking beardy man that 'adopts' him. Had I been that fellow, the violence meted out would have been repaid by a session in the kitchen.
But I am not he, and that Doritophile goat is actually too cute to eat.
I'll go the Muslim market at some point to acquire a bit of meat.
Maybe those Doritos would make a good hors d'oeuvre.
While waiting for our dinner to be done.


Twelve pounds of goat, chunk cut through the bone.
Twelve large cloves of garlic, minced.
Equivalent amount ginger, ditto.
Ten TBS coriander powder.
Three TBS cumin powder.
Three TBS turmeric powder.
Two TBS cayenne powder.
One TBS sugar.
One TBS salt.
Half cup of oil.
Half cup of vinegar.
Four or five onions, chopped.
Four whole star anise.
Four sticks cinnamon.
Four stalks lemon grass.
Two TBS whole peppercorns.
Ten jalapeno chilies, left whole.
Three cans (approx. six cups) of coconut milk.
Six cups (approx. three cans) of good meat stock.

Mix the garlic, ginger, powdered spices, sugar, salt, oil, and vinegar. Rub this all over the goat, massaging it into the meat.
Place it in an enamel ware container or large porcelain dish, cover with plastic wrap, and stick it into the refrigerator for eight to twelve hours. Do not use a stainless steel mixing bowl, as it may react with the vinegar.
You might want to do this the day before the feast.

Sauté the onions in a very roomy pan till glossy golden brown. Add the meat, and fry up fiercely till coloured and fragrant, slightly crusty even.
Add everything else, plus water to cover generously. Simmer gently for three hours, stirring occasionally to keep it from sticking to the bottom.
Adjust the moisture level as needed, to ensure a soupiness.
When the meat is fall-apart tender, fish the lemon grass out.

Ladle it into deep pasta dishes, garnish liberally with parsley and cilantro, and warn your guests about bones, star anise, and cinnamon sticks.
Oh, and the peppercorns; they're kind of exciting.

Serve with hot crusty French bread, boiled potatoes, a few simple vegetables, and salad. Plus lime wedges.

Don't forget to put bottles of hot-sauce on the table for the nuts.

Please note that it is traditional to serve beer with this. However I believe that the beer is better used as part of the cooking liquid, à la flammande.
Use a bottle or two of a good brown ale.
Drink sherry instead.

Why so large a recipe?
Why not?

Man, I love that Doritos goat!

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One of the sights that absolutely sickens me is two people smooching. Huge sloppy kisses and barely restrained groping are NOT suitable for the public street, nor for the eyes of little children, families, or easily startled pets and passers-by. Or, as it turns out, sour old armadillos.

But that's quite likely just a serious twinge of envy. I actually wouldn't mind doing that myself sometime. Somewhere suitably private, of course.
I've been frightfully lonely these past two and a half years without love, affection, and companionship.

No, I have NO intention of getting a dog. Or a cat. They'd probably object to my pipe-smoking, and insist on vegan kibble in the dish. Besides getting piercings and garish tattoos during their puppyhood. Kittenhood.
A goldfish who likes strong tobacco would be nice.

Most of my best relationships presently are with inanimate objects. They have such interesting opinions. Chairs, tables, couches. Bookstores.

One of these days I'm going to replenish my spice rack. Other than frequent purchases of hotsauce -- to be used in the middle of the night with horribly unsuitable snacks -- I haven't shopped for strong flavours in years. Maybe it's time to throw out the dried oysters too, as that bag dates from autumn of 2010. Somewhere there's a block of hard shrimp-paste from Malaysia that I was going to use in curries, but never got around to.
As well as a dried fish; a flounder. There were two of them; the first one got used for broth already, as the second will also. The flounder is presently not alone, however, as I have got it a companion; a beautiful and fragrant dried croaker. Suitable for steamed pork patty - haahm yiuk beng.
They make a lovely couple, perhaps I should treat them as puppets?
Why hello, ms. Croaker, you sure look nice today!
Thank you mr. Flounder! Kissy kissy?
Piscine smoochies.

I like the idea of cooking, but the process makes for a lousy solitary vice.
And if you don't bother, you never have to throw out green bacon.

This afternoon I shall have a late lunch, and do some people-watching afterwards. While thus engaged I shall enjoy my pipe; it keeps the other humans at a safe distance. Please don't go near the man with smoke coming out of his mouth, dear, he might bite.
Oh, and he's probably a carnivore. That type, yes.
See, he's even dressed normally!
That's mighty suspicious!

I'll puff fiercely if I have to.

Random concepts: sambal, oyster sauce, dried shrimp, mensen, Isabel Allende, Vietnamese-English Dictionary, Old Gowrie, Keemun tea, keris, sarimanok, scales, a fat egret, combs, Charatan pipe, Cheri Chung Chor Hung, balsamic vinegar, Khartoum, Jacobins, Lumumba, Kashimashi, racing nuns, saffron, shadows, slang, Jan Fabricius, Vergeelde Portretten Uit Een Indisch Familie-album, sour cream & onion, Aṣṭādhyāyī of Pāṇini.

I could have sworn that there was a red stapler around here somewhere.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013


The BBC, notorious for slanting data for maximum appeal to their audience, has decided that pipe-smoking is an altogether horrible thing that it would be better people forgot about. Good heavens, little kiddie-winkies might think it cool if they knew it existed!

And we should all be protective of children, shouldn't we? As well as vicious harpies and dried-up old flounders who object to any evidence of tobacco in the media. Because it is Sodom and Gomorrah all at once.

What, you may wonder, wax I wroth about?

"...the BBC, in its wisdom, or in thrall to its own addiction – which is to political correctness – has chosen to play down Wilson’s pipe in its five-hour tribute to be shown on BBC Parliament."
[End cite.]

That passage is from an article in The Telegraph by Allan Massie, anent a television programme about former prime-minister Harold Wilson.

Methinks the BBC would do far better to run twenty-four hours of praise-song for dentistry, if they were really concerned about the health and oral-hygiene of the British public.

Further quote:
"Pipe-smoking has always been associated with common sense, even wisdom, which is why Mr Badger in The Wind in the Willows smoked a pipe. It is a comforting habit, aiding contemplation."
[End cite.]

A comforting habit, aiding contemplation! What I'm contemplating right now is the end of civilization and it's sneaky replacement with Puritanical right-think. What would, at this moment, be of very great comfort, is if all those kiddie-winkies, harpies, and old flounders went off and buggered themselves.

"Simenon’s Maigret puffed his way through every investigation. The actor Rupert Davies was the first person to get the pipe-smoking award, presumably because he played Maigret, and smoked his pipe so well on television. Rather surprisingly perhaps, Dorothy L Sayers’s detective, Lord Peter Wimsey, was also a pipe smoker. I have the notion that Miss Sayers smoked one herself, even if not as devotedly as Simenon. Authors sometimes lend their own habits to their favourite characters.

This may be why Philip Marlowe, greatest of tough-guy private eyes, was a pipe-lover; his creator, Raymond Chandler, was rarely photographed without a briar in mouth or hand. Even so, he wasn’t quite as dedicated as that other distinguished old boy of Dulwich College, P G Wodehouse, still photographed, pipe in mouth and tapping away at his typewriter well into his eighties. The young Evelyn Waugh smoked a pipe, but turned to cigars when he became more prosperous. J B Priestley, however, puffed away well into old age, Pipe Smoker of the Year in 1979.

You seldom see people smoking a pipe in public now, in this country anyway, though it is still a common sight at café tables in Paris. (Back in the Forties and Fifties anyone who wanted to be regarded as a French intellectual copied the example of the prophet of existentialism, Jean-Paul Sartre, and took to a pipe.) "
[End cite.]

The list of celebrated pipe-smokers is endless; that of beloved puritan hatchets, virtually non-existent.

I'm smoking a pipe right now, btw.


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