Monday, September 30, 2013


Over the past several months it has become glaringly obvious that Republicans care not one whit about the law, the great institutions of this country, or the American people. Of particular note as a tea-party jihadi trying to take down the system and destroy civil society, is Texan wackdoodle Ted Cruz, whose cynical sturmführer tactics last week were sickening and appalling -- except, perhaps, to his base, which slumbers on in peaceful ignorance of what their troll in Washington is up to.

There can be no compromise with such people; they represent the lizard-element among Americans, and all their spewing of patriotic and idealist rhetoric is no more than an ongoing attempt to bamboozle the country while destroying it from within.

If during the eighties you thought Reagan was bad, or during the two-thousands you were convinced that the inbred know-nothings had taken over, then this lot represents something far more dastardly, wicked, and downright disgusting: a deliberate act of cannibalism, and a resolve to do what religious extremists (Muslim and Protestant), the ultra-left, and foreign tyrants for several generations have failed to achieve.

Sod them all.

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My mother's reaction to poets in Berkeley, during the fifties when she was working on her masters degrees, was mental nausea and retching. At that time, poetic types were aiming for "meaningful", and the fullest intellectual expression of 'truth' and 'beauty'.
'Beowulf' never dabbled in meaningful, truth, or beauty; and Chaucer proved himself as pissy as he was a poet; a wicked ribald man.

The rot, in my mother's opinion, started with the English-language poets of the Victorian age, and simply got worse in the twentieth century.
Berkeley in her day was filled with rancid rhymers.

Good thing altogether that she never met the intellectual types infesting North Beach for the past generation. Her nausea and retching would no longer have been mental.
In addition to thoroughly stinko free-verse, they also smell bad.
Some of them still use patchouli, but most don't bathe often enough and huff way too much pot.
Pot is "meaningful". Heck, it's "green". Must be good!
It's wunnerful, man! Beauty!

Personally I am still not convinced that post-Elizabethan English is a good tongue for poetry. And judging by what students are commonly exposed to in American schools, society seems determined to prove that point.
Most poetry is absolutely frightful piffle.

I do however get an immense kick out of the Dutch poets. Not only the bad boys of the Golden Age -- for instance Bredero, who wrote epic verse about young women, among many other things, and Vondel, who saw fit to flatter his patrons -- but also several notorious and diseased rabble-rousers and homosexuals in the centuries since, even up to the present-day. Many Netherlandish bards either had very public flaws or very secret vices.

It may have been the beer; there's an insanity to tipsy Dutchmen.

And, remarkably, there is a refined earthiness to the language.

Which makes it fit for brutal wit and subtle irony.

As well as horribly descriptive.

If drill sergeants in modern America demand that their sissy recruits should develop some testicular fortitude pretty darn quick ladies, the versifier in Dutch already has an edge on him; his tongue itself exudes scrotism.
But you'll just have to learn it on your own, I shan't demonstrate.
It does not translate well at all, its sonnets even worse.
My talents do not extend to doubling Dutch.
Or making mongrel doggerel.

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Sunday, September 29, 2013


Stayed the entire day in Marin in close proximity to cigar smokers. Which, if you think about it, can be quite edumacational. Put a bunch of men together with cheroots and a ball game, and much childish good-cheer will be had, many 'F-bombs' will be dropped, other rancid locutions will crop up like weeds, and somebody will inevitably mention pizza.

I am not a cigar smoker particularly, and the ball game on teevee leaves me apathetic. When I described it as "men in tights", one of them vociferated that "it's so much MORE than that!"

Okay, men in SHINY tights.
Big! shiny! men.

I spent the afternoon restoring pipes. Two in particular stand out, namely a mediocre meerschaum which now looks semi-smokeable again, and a Sasieni one-dot smooth prince. One-dots were made in the early nineteen-twenties, before the company switched to four dots as the stem trademark. This particular one was in excellent shape underneath the tarry rim-buildup and thick carbon cake inside. It's a rather beautiful piece. And so much more fun to play with than a barrel of cigar-smokers.
Even if they have started discussing pizza.
And the game is finally over.

[Sasieni restoration: drop of beeswax onto the dot, to shield it from the bleach into which the stem was placed (bleach brings all the oxidation to the surface of the carbon rubber). Used the three-sided blade to pare off the tar on the rim, then reamed the pipe down to the first layer of blackness inside. Wiped both rim and inside with vodka, removed the last of the tar. Did not do the salt-cure; whoever ends up buying it either won't mind or will do it themselves. Dried stem after rinsing away the bleach, ran bristles through it to smooth-out the traces of oxidation and bleach that would make the draw-hole rough inside. Fitted the two parts back together, inserted a pipe cleaner all the way through to the bowl and let it sit for half an hour with vodka in the bowl to dissolve some of the burnt-in sap. Then used bristlies till they came out clean, wiped the inside of the bowl, and buffed the pipe with red compound heavy and light on the stem, a light touch on the wood. White compound to finish. My back is killing me.
Brian had described the pipe this morning as "well-loved"...... which usually means crapped-up to a fare-thee-well. I was, consequently, quite apprehensive about what I would find, till I started cleaning it. It's a remarkable piece.]

Given a choice between big bouncy jocks in fetching tights running around with pigskins crashing into each other, OR red and white buffing compounds plus beeswax, I have no doubt that rational men would choose the latter.

Rational women too.

Wouldn't anybody?

No, I have no idea how the pizza-discussion went.
I doubt that they solved the pizza problem.
Whatever the problem with pizza is.
They did not order any.
Just as well.

Only smoked three bowls today. Time at the buffing wheel tends to make me forget to light up. The pull of the spinning cotton on the wood and the finger-tip attention focus the mind narrowly and hypnotically. Even with a pipe in my mouth at such times, the conscious rhythm is dominated by abrasion and centrifugal pressure. The digits feel tinglingly alive.

On the other hand, I've had sheer tonnes of caffeine. Two cups of bitter coffee to start the day, five cups of tea while dealing with pipes, a final double-bagger (black, jasmine) before heading back to San Francisco.

I'm drinking a strong yin-yeung (鴛鴦) right now.

Quite possibly I am wired to the eye-brows.

Have been since seven this morning.

I can't get pizza out of my head.

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Yesterday evening I admitted to two people that I have no girlfriend.
And, by extension, that I have no wife, or children, or actual family, and more or less have given up or forfeited the chance of "domestic bliss". Because, as everyone knows(!), a masculine entity at fifty four (which is what I will be in two weeks), is NOT likely to discover the joy of getting hitched or starting a family.

Which, also as everyone knows(!), is a very great joy.

Fifty four years old. That's geezertude. No matter how full of beans and energy the individual in question actually is. I still feel springy as all heck, but the role of buck antelope belongs to younger men.

At this age I am in many ways finally the person I wanted to be several years ago. I know more now than I knew then, I am more capable of using several languages than ever before, I can quote odd poetry in several tongues.
I have become a fairly intelligent person, and a calmer man.

But my apartment mate is unaware of that fact.

As are any number of other women.

Remarkably invisible.

A vibrant mute.

Quite possibly I am not bad looking. But I am no longer a young fellow. Not quite the bull of the herd. Consequently, I spend whole weeks and months dreaming of intimacy - closeness - happy flirting - and the physical radiance of bright young things, without actual contact with anything remotely like that, or in fact anything at all.
I suppose my "love life" would be quite "interesting" if I simply singlemindedly explored all possible random opportunities.
Conceivably lively, in a sleazy sort of way.





Sometimes one just doesn't pursue the matter. Maintaining decent social relationships with others is far more important than ruining everything by bold suggestions or blatant haam sap eyes.
The discreet man is more acceptable.
An unused secrecy.
Oh crap.

At times I envy my apartment mate. She disappears for hours on end to spend time with her boy friend, and comes back looking radiant.
Something must have happened; she's smiling.

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Saturday, September 28, 2013


Some things in life are worth every penny. At one of the places in Chinatown that I frequent, heaven costs less than five bucks. But I will never take anyone else there, nor will I mention its name or address.
Not because I begrudge my readers such pleasure, but because they likely will not be nearly as delighted with the food as I am.
It's very un-fancy.

One bowl of preserved egg and lean pork congee: $1.75
One fried dough stick, cut up: $1.50
Coffee: $1.00

[Preserved egg and lean pork congee: 皮蛋瘦肉粥 pei daan sau yiuk juk. Preserved egg: 皮蛋 pei daan. Lean meat: 瘦肉 sau yiuk; if not otherwise specified, 肉 always means pork. Congee: 粥 juk. Fried dough stick: 油條 yau tiu; a light airy dough strip deep fried, perfect for dunking in the congee, or, when cut, dumping on top. Because of the huge air pockets it floats and must be pushed under. The measure or numeral coefficient (counting word) for strips, wires, sticks, staffs, rods, or yau tiu, is 根 gan. Coffee: 咖啡 gaa fei; a thin black sludge made from burnt beans, which can be made drinkable by adding milk and sugar.]

It's one of my favourite lunches at this point. The quality is more than decent, especially for the price, the yau tiu is heung heung cheui cheui (香香脆脆), and among the very best in Chinatown, and despite their horrible countryside accents, the good folks running the place actually understand my even worse accented Cantonese.
They are from Toishan, I am not.

The father of the cute little tyke who returns there from school speaks excellent Mandarin, though. Found that out the other day.


[Wow! He speaks 'national language' better than me!]

What, I hear you asking, is so remarkable about that? Well, usually Cantonese people have rather frightful accents in Mandarin, and in addition to tone-errors they cannot pronounce certain crucial sounds. Plus they tend to translate word-for-word instead of re-formulating.
Whereas white folks who have learned Mandarin frequently have nearly school-perfect pronunciation -- for their extremely limited though excruciatingly correct vocabularies -- and it is normally and naturally assumed that if the kwailo speaks a little bit of Cantonese, why then surely he speaks much, much more Mandarin.

This kwailo doesn't.

My Mandarin stinks; it's barely even above the "me Tonto, you Jane" variety. But I can recognize lovely diction, as well as a furry Pekingese accent, when I hear it.

It's starting to irritate me that a fair number of Cantonese people in Chinatown speak better Mandarin than I do. Somehow I feel less adequately kwailo because of it.

Still, the rice porridge and the dough stick are exactly to my taste, the coffee is tolerable, and I will continue to go there. Despite there being a Mandarin-speaker on the premises. That's something they cannot help, it would be grossly unfair to hold it against them.

Heaven costs four bucks twenty five.

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Friday, September 27, 2013


There it is, long after you had planned to eat, when you FINALLY get to load up the truck and get out. It's taken such a long time. You are ravenous, you can already taste the succulent flavours of your charsiu (叉燒) over rice, OR your roast duck over rice (燒鴨飯), or, dare one even hope, orgasmic (!) roast goose over rice (燒鵝飯) .
Mmm, juicy, and soul-comfortingly delicious!
Roast goose. Over rice.

So you speed up. Pedal to the metal. Somewhere, there's a dai paai dong with your name on it. Well, on the food. Yummy yummy food.
If you get there on time. Heaven forefend that they're already out.
Food is serious business, gotta hurry before it's gone!

Roast meats, fresh and fragrant, over rice.

Floor that sucker.



Crash occurs after 22 seconds. First "waah" erupts at the 25th. A second, even more aghast "waah", at 27. Then, at the 36th. second, Franklin Yeung (the video recorder) can be heard utilizing a Cantonese exclamation that in this context more or less equals the American "holy sh*t", but which literally means "violate your old maternal". He stops just as he's about to finish it with the superlative "chau hai", which, errm, eh, ah, indicates that there's a noxious odour to the specific element of her anatomy to which the imperative verb applies. Clearly he's distraught.

[The phrase "diu nei lou mou" is not something you say around women, by the way.
It's considered rude. Even without the "chau hai".]

With which I can sympathize. He, too, imagines the scrumptious lunch that the driver of the little blue truck will have to forfeit.
Oh, the humanity!

The accident happened on 花園道 (Garden Road) right at the junction with 上亞厘畢道 (Upper Albert road), near 聖若瑟堂 (St. Joseph’s Church), in Central Hong Kong (中區).

My knowledge of mr. Toad's wild ride shown above is courtesy of 'Beijing Cream', a splendid all-round source of news about China.

Thank you, Beijing Cream. You're the creamiest.

[Roast goose: 燒鵝.]

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Thursday, September 26, 2013


Regular readers have probably wigged that I enjoy reading the comments left by spambots ere I delete them. In its own way, it's a form of interpersonal contact. Well, inter one person and several soulless machines.
I pity the soulless machines. They have failed to grasp the paradigm that informs the discourse. It's very sad.

Most of the spam-comments are entered on "My Letter Box", which is a comment field underlying a post that serves no other purpose than to give readers the opportunity to contact me in private, which some of them occasionally wish to do. Given that I will not post my e-mail address here or on my profile -- I have no need for further information on hairgrowth remedies or veeagera, and am not in the market for Kate Spade, Vuitton, or Christian Louboutin, though I do think I might look DYNAMITE wearing Jimmie Chews -- creating one post with a dedicated comment field seemed like a good idea.

It still is. Once in a blue moon, people send real letters.

Spambots, on the other hand, do not register the information that nothing will be published, only one person will ever see their text and respond, it won't show up on the internet, no links will be advertised.......
Or, precisely like all other comment fields under other blogposts here, the blogger in question needs to approve the comment ere it might be visible. Which is called 'comment moderation'.

No matter how perverse my own posts, I wish my readers to have a clean and commerce-free text-browsing experience.


Today, waiting for approval in the letterbox file, the following:

Hip porn blog
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You have touched some very pleasant factors here
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You will note that the cites are incomplete, no links are embedded, and their full texts are not shown.

Sorry, spambots, allowing your comments would be far too much like anonymous sex at a nudie farm. Which ain't gonna happen.
This blogger is manifestly not into anonymous sex.
Any sex, if it happens, is with a known quantity, discreetly engaged upon, in private, and after both sides (that being me, and an entity henceforth to be know as "her") have weighed several factors and decided that on the whole bouncy-bouncy is a jolly good idea.

There has to be a meeting of minds, in addition to the matching of groins.

And, speaking of which, a conversational acquaintance the other day concluded that I am not normal. This was after he found out that despite Savage Kitten and myself having broken-up over three years ago, we were still living together (separate rooms), despite absolutely no nookie going on.

That is to say, absolutely no nookie in which I am involved.

There might be nookie in her life -- she's seeing some dude who apparently is an all-right sort of chap, somewhere -- but there has been no nookie in our apartment for over three years.
How can I be sure of this? Simple. The man who is the love of her life is in a wheelchair, cannot go uphill, cannot ascend a flight of stairs, and wishes to avoid this neighborhood. Besides, that woman relishes her privacy, and enjoys having a place where she can be herself and just hang.

Truth be told, I like having her still around. Despite her shocking bad taste in breaking off our relationship, she's a nice person, and I trust her around my stuff. She puts up with me and my mess better than most people would be able to do, and she has a perfect attitude toward other people's confidences and secrets.

My apartment-mate situation might make it a bit sticky if I ever find a girlfriend. But, seeing as I am not a desperate man, and have no desire to engage in loud tacky affairs with superficial halfwits or big-haired blonde flibberty-gibbits, that isn't an issue at present.
My life has been entirely nookie-free for three years.
Not quite a matter of choice.

The conversational acquaintance mentioned above cannot understand the concept. Normal men, he avers, should have sex. It's the natural thing to do. He would go crazy without it. If he weren't married, he'd be, in his words, "chasing tail like you wouldn't believe."

Ummmmm. An "intriguing" concept. Horrible television shows and celebrity life-styles are based upon it. We all enjoy observing such behaviour in other folks, but being an adult means that we will not run around half-cocked ourselves.

"Chasing tail like you wouldn't believe"

Adults, rational people, should ONLY have nookie with a known quantity, discreetly engaged upon, in private, and after both parties have weighed several factors and happily concluded that bouncy-bouncy is a jolly good idea.

Nookie can be rather nice.

It isn't spam.

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Some common tobacco terms are nearly meaningless. Two of those are 'Cavendish' and 'Balkan'. The first describes any tobacco which has been changed by heat OR pressure OR moisture OR added muck, and nowadays is also applied to a narrow ribbon-cut suitable for rolling into cigarettes which is nevertheless broad enough to not fall under the punitive and puritanical tax category for cigarette tobaccos, the second means a mixture with either a large quantity of Latakia, or both Latakia and Turkish ("Oriental") leaf.

Latakia and other Orientals are in the main from Cyprus, Syria, and Asia Minor. The stuff grown in the Balkans is mostly Virginia or Burley seed-stock destined for factories producing American or Russian style cigarettes.
What little Oriental is cropped there nowadays seldom makes it into a quality pipe-tobacco blend, being either Prilep or mediocre Macedonian.


What the term Balkan commonly refers to is the type of mixture that features a strong Turkish component, augmented by Latakia, supported by Virginia.
Turkish tobacco is low in nicotine, high in resin, whereas Virginia is medium high in nicotine and natural sugars. The two were seemingly made for each other, but complexity required Latakia, which during the Syrian period was a broadleaf of little distinction made extraordinary by smoke-curing, which added a velvety sootiness to a product which by itself was mildly sherry-like, and not particularly low on nicotine.

Nowadays virtually all Latakia comes from Cyprus (using Smyrna seed-stock), and most manufacturers and retailers who claim to use Syrian leaf are unabashed and unethical bullshit artists.
That alone should warn the smoker away from their products.

Mac Baren is a possible exception. Their HH Vintage Syrian is a mighty fine product; I've got a two-year supply of it stashed under my bed.

The term "Balkan" in describing such blends derives from the most well-known representative of the genre, that being Balkan Sobranie -- which was actually mostly Latakia (50%), with less Turkish than Virginia. Blends of similar proportion are standardly called Balkan, but the correct term should probably be "Full English". Though in Great Britain they might not know what to make of such a description. Surely you mean "Oriental"?

Oriental, Full English, and Balkan are all equally inaccurate.


Many of the famous Dunhill tobaccos, which we think of as being quintessentially 'English', are in fact Balkan mixtures. So are the typical Scottish blends of Charles Rattray (Black Mallory, Red Rapparee, et autres) and Robert McConnell, which are now produced in Germany.

Perhaps the three truest Balkan blends available are Presbyterian Mixture by Planta, Astley's No. 99 Royal Tudor by Kohlhase und Kopp, and Bill Bailey's Balkan Blend by Dan Tobacco.
All three are made in Germany.

Presbyterian is Turkish forward, and quite foul-smelling to women (though delicious to men), the Astley product is somewhat odouriferous and rather pleasant, and BBBB is a bit heavy and Slavic, superior after a big Teutonic abendfressen containing garlic and paprika.

All three are recommended.

However, in addition to many of the Dunhill mixtures, as previously mentioned, much of Greg Pease's oeuvre is distinctly Balkan, as are many of the Latakia blends produced by McClelland and Cornell & Diehl.
Germain's in Jersey (Channel Islands) also makes a number of such products (1820, Royal Jersey Original Latakia Mixture, King Charles Mixture), as do both Samuel Gawith (Squadron Leader) and Gawith-Hoggarth (Balkan Mixture, delightful though no Turkish discernible) in Kendall.
Please note that what Sam Gawith calls "Balkan Flake" is only Latakia and Virginia pressed together. Quite nice, actually.
Newminster, the housebrand of Villiger, sells 'English Oriental' (No. 306) and 'Ultimate English' (No. 52) in bulk to many tobacco stores across America. Both blends are quite good; ask your tobacconist the source of his "house blends", and if necessary visit the internet.
Many smaller tobacco companies have at least one "Balkan" in their line-up, along with a Latakia dump at the heavier end, and a very mild English on the lighter side.


Among Greg Pease's tobaccos, the following might be called Balkan:
Abingdon, Caravan, Charing cross, Kensington, Odyssey, and Westminster.
My favourites are Kensington and Westminster; the first is calm and veers toward the medium end of the scale, the second is medium-full and delightfully old-fashioned, something which sets the standard for its class.
For a nice over-the-top Latakia experience, try Odyssey.

Balkan is a never-never-land among the tobaccos, being exactly and only what you imagine it to be. Provided, of course, that something about the name or the evil hairy bastard smoking it suggests complicated late Ottoman period politics.

Constantinople. Marmara. Bosporus. Sophia. Vojvodine. Sebastopol. Magyar. Budapesht. Volapük. Przykry Tabak. Greek National Debt. Aegean. Arnavout. Goli-Seljak Löd. Sarajevo. Yugopolje. Tatarski. Robak-Yezdil. March to the Alma. Yarimadasi. Bulgarian Question. Tito's Toupee.
Hej Brigad. Polotok. Gnarsk.

Somewhere south of Tsarevets, there's a train station where a bearded hunchback wearing a fez is waiting. Either he will shoot you, under the mistaken impression that you are the heir to the knezevstvo of Temni-Chovek, OR he has candy and a casket of delightful oval cigarettes rolled by the last virgin in Wurmpanj-Stumpärscz.
It's a risk you have to take.


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Yesterday around tea-time I ended up reading about Alice Walker. Alice Walker, you will recall, is the American literateur and harpy about whose book 'The Cushion In The Road' the Anti-Defamation League said "What is shocking, however, is the extremely vitriolic and hateful rhetoric employed by Walker, the author of The Color Purple and a poet and activist. Her descriptions of Israel and Israelis can largely be described as anti-Jewish and anti-Semitic."

"Her writing is heavily peppered with explicit comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany, an analogy employed by the harshest of anti-Israel critics..."


I wouldn't be surprised if The Cushion In The Road is one of Jimmy Carter's favourites. Walker and Carter are birds of a feather.
A very filthy feather, to be sure.

"What is shocking, however, is the extremely vitriolic and hateful rhetoric employed by Walker"

According to Wikipedia, after having already visited Gaza in 2009, Alice Walker intended to participate in an aid flotilla countering Israel's blockade and contravening international law in 2011. "Explaining her reasons, she cited concern for the children and that she felt that "elders" should bring "whatever understanding and wisdom we might have gained in our fairly long lifetimes, witnessing and being a part of struggles against oppression."


Also from Wikipedia, "In May 2013 Alice Walker indicated her support for the conspiracy theorist David Icke. On BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs she said that Icke's Human race get off your knees (in which Icke claims that Earth's moon is actually a “gigantic spacecraft” transmitting “fake reality broadcast[s] much the same way as portrayed in the Matrix movie trilogy") would be her choice if she could have only one book. Walker has also praised this book on her own website, stating that upon reading the book she "felt it was the first time I was able to observe, and mostly imagine and comprehend, the root of the incredible evil that has engulfed our planet."

David Icke?

Man, I just looooove Wikipedia!

David Vaughan Icke is the new-age nutzoid who claims that many of the world leaders past and present are actually reptilian pedophiles from outer space.

Once again from Wikipedia: "Icke argues that humanity was created by a network of secret societies run by an ancient race of inter- breeding bloodlines from the Middle and Near East, originally extraterrestrial. Icke calls them the "Babylonian Brotherhood." The Brotherhood is mostly male. Their children are raised from an early age to understand the mission; those who fail to understand it are pushed aside. The spread of the reptilian bloodline encompasses what Norman Simms calls the odd and ill-matched, extending to 43 American presidents, three British and two Canadian prime ministers, various Sumerian kings and Egyptian pharaohs, and a smattering of celebrities such as Bob Hope. Key Brotherhood bloodlines are the Rockefellers, the Rothschilds, various European royal and aristocratic families, the establishment families of the Eastern United States, and the British House of Windsor. Icke identified the Queen Mother in 2001 as "seriously reptilian."

The Illuminati, Round Table, Council on Foreign Relations, Chatham House, the Trilateral Commission, the Bilderberg Group, the International Monetary Fund, and the United Nations, are all Brotherhood created and controlled, as are the media, military, CIA, Mossad, science, religion, and the Internet, with witting or unwitting support from the London School of Economics. At the apex of the Brotherhood stands the "Global Elite," identified throughout history as the Illuminati, and at the top of the Global Elite stand the "Prison Wardens." The goal of the Brotherhood – their "Great Work of Ages" – is world domination and a micro-chipped population."


Expanding on the theme of alien mind control, "Icke writes that the Anunnaki have crossbred with human beings, the breeding lines chosen for political reasons, arguing that they are the Watchers, the fallen angels, or "Grigori," who mated with human women in the Biblical apocrypha. Their first reptilian-human hybrid, possibly Adam, was created 200,000–300,000 years ago. There was a second breeding program 30,000 years ago, and a third 7,000 years ago. It is the half-bloods of the third breeding program who today control the world, more Anunnaki than human, he writes. They have a powerful, hypnotic stare, the origin of the phrase to "give someone the evil eye," and their hybrid DNA allows them to shapeshift when they consume human blood."

Got that? And remember, according to this man, the moon is an enormous spacecraft controlled by reptiles.

Any thought that it might be green cheese is just wrong.


I can accept that Alice Walker believes deeply in this man. We do have freedom of religion in America, and she can adhere to whatever crackpot far-right new-age conspiracy nonsense cult she wants. Heck, she can even put on robes and dance around an image of the icky man at full moon. Which I would not be startled to find out is something she does.
Or passionately wants to do.

But clearly that woman has gone off her rocker. And, judging by her lubricious worship of hate and violence -- Malcolm X, Rachel Corrie, and suicide bombers (*), have all received her kudos -- she's too dangerous a person to allow any influence over the young.

"whatever understanding and wisdom we might have gained in our fairly long lifetimes..."

No, sorry, you would poison their minds, Ms. Alice Walker. There's already enough totally toxic crap to which kids are exposed that even one drop of your bile might make them mad.

The bucket is too close to overflowing.


Children, above all, need to be shielded from The Third Life of Grange Copeland (1970), In Love and Trouble: Stories of Black Women (1973), Meridian (1976), The Color Purple (1982), You Can't Keep a Good Woman Down: Stories (1982), To Hell With Dying (1988), The Temple of My Familiar (1989), Finding the Green Stone (1991), Possessing the Secret of Joy (1992) The Complete Stories (1994), By The Light of My Father's Smile (1998), The Way Forward Is with a Broken Heart (2000), Now Is The Time to Open Your Heart: A Novel (2004), Once (1968), Revolutionary Petunias and Other Poems (1973), Good Night, Willie Lee, I'll See You in the Morning (1979), Horses Make a Landscape Look More Beautiful (1985), Her Blue Body Everything We Know: Earthling Poems (1991), Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth (2003), A Poem Traveled Down My Arm: Poems And Drawings (2003), Collected Poems (2005), Hard Times Require Furious Dancing: New Poems (2010), In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens: Womanist Prose (1983), Living by the Word (1988), Warrior Marks (1993), The Same River Twice: Honoring the Difficult (1996), Anything We Love Can Be Saved: A Writer's Activism (1997), Go Girl!: The Black Woman's Book of Travel and Adventure (1997), Pema Chodron and Alice Walker in Conversation (1999), Sent By Earth: A Message from the Grandmother Spirit After the Bombing of the World Trade Center and Pentagon (2001), We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For (2006), Overcoming Speechlessness (2010), Chicken Chronicles, A Memoir (2011).

I would say that her writing should only be read by adults. But there are reasons to doubt the adulthood of her readers.
Surely no rational adult would suffer so.

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013


As if things weren't bad enough, what with natural disasters and man's increasing inhumanity to man, evidence is mounting of a coming cataclysm.
Which may be the long foretold end of civilization.
Some of us are already convinced of that.

Consider this:



If that isn't enough to scare you sh*tless, there's something wrong with you. The world will never be the same, and clearly you don't care, you tacky heartless cretin. You're probably planning your honeymoon around that plane, eh?

This blogger is saddened by events. Clearly the universe is becoming a cold and disillusioned place, and cruelty is increasing.
I am appalled.

Repent, repent, repent.


Taipei-based EVA Airways Corporation now operates three flights to Los Angeles each week featuring Hello Kitty planes. If you finally wish to get rid of Aunt Martha and her irritating childlike sense of play, you should probably get her a one-way ticket.
You can find out all about it here: EVA AIR.
Or book your own flight from reality.

I don't know what to tell you. On the one hand, it might be a hoot -- think of what you'll tell your friends, imagine the shock and horror on their faces -- on the other hand, this is not a good thing -- your friends will be shocked and horrified when they find out.

How will you break the news to them? Or will it stay a secret?

Let me know. I'm keen to find out which way you swing.

Sign of the beast, blood in the sky, and all that jazz.

Oh no, it's a giant feline apocalypse!

Mew mew.

By the way, just so you know, Hello Kitty (吉蒂貓) has a 妹妹 named 咪咪, a 爸爸 (老豆) named George (喬治), a 媽媽 (媽咪) named Mary (瑪麗), a 爺爺 named Anthony (安東尼), and a 奶奶 (阿嫲) named Margaret (瑪嘉麗).
Any speculation about her and Daniel Star is premature.

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Monday, September 23, 2013


I know you love the fat naked red guy just as much as I do. And you understand that, as he and yours truly have so much in common,
people often confuse us with each other.

It's hard being a mistaken celebrity.





The resemblance is... striking!



What's the matter, Pumpkin?
You've never seen anyone but-walking before?



It's the next big thing after pole-cat dancing.

Uh. Thank ah yooooooou.

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The English are so well-known for their avid consumption of tea that some might even think that they invented the beverage. Not so. Discovered by the Chinese, soon thereafter beloved by the Japanese, and first brought to Europe by the Dutch.
At a time when Netherlanders had already started developing a tea culture of their own -- showcasing the exquisite porcelains and fab trinketries brought back from the Far-East -- the Anglo-Saxons were still swilling coffee and ale (mostly ale), and insofar as they enjoyed tea at all, they were boiling it, then serving it well-drained and mixed with salt and butter on toast.

Like so many English habits, it relieved constipation. British food at that time was mostly boiled meat served with bread and grease, and consequently almost everyone had to visit the apothecary for a dose.
Though they barged into the eastern seas at the same time as the Dutch, their focus was on purgatives.
Canton, that great trading metropolis athrong with merchants from Arabia, Zanzibar, Persia, India, and the Spice Isles, was to the British no more than a humongous supplier of rhubarb.
Which is a wondrous laxative.

It took the British another generation before they discovered that tea could also be drunk. The rest, as they say, is history.

Samuel Johnson wrote his great dictionary of the English language while swacked to the gills on tea (two dozen cups a day), vast armies of working men, freed from the ale-induced wooze that used to start their day (which now merely ends it) built the factory cities of the empire, and a legion of soldiers and civil servants swarmed out of the insular frigidity of the isles to explore and exploit the world.

The change from sodden drunk by noon to zipped to the gills at all hours happened nearly overnight. The world has never been the same.

Neither has India. Which drinks more tea than China and England combined at this point.

"We were unaware that the law required anyone to give an explanation for having tea, whether in the morning, noon or night. One might take tea in a variety of ways, not all of them always elegant or delicate, some of them perhaps even noisy. But we know of no way to drink tea 'suspiciously"

------Bombay High Court Justice Mr. Gautam Patel  [ * ]

Tea in much of India is served with plenty of milk already heated in, flavoured with green cardamom and fennel seeds, medium sweet. Sheer buckets go down the gullet from before the crack of dawn till long after dark. It is available everywhere. Chai, garma-garam ('tea, hot-hot tea'), is the one thing that binds all Indians together, far more than their food, their shared history, or even English, which is their great common tongue.

"Cutting chai is permissible, cutting corners with the law is not."

[Cutting chai: grabbing a quick half-glass of tea.]

Somewhere along the line the subcontinentals also acquired certain administrative practices, but as the laws which England gave to India are, in the main, the old Mughal codes phrased in proper Eton-speak, which were themselves developed on a foundation of previous legal structures, it looks like the only thing required to unite the nation and drag it kicking and screaming and Bollywood song and dancing and generally speaking behaving riotously and enthusiastic in several over-stimulated ways into the modern era was tea.
It worked.

America, of course, relied on coffee and whiskey instead.
That is why we're a little bit different.
Though we too speak English.

We've always been suspicious of tea.

Note: Tea drinking ("thee drinken") is also a code phrase in Dutch for serious discussions in a friendly atmosphere with the parents of mis-behaving immigrant youth, compromise with alleged community leaders who blame civil society for homegrown problems such as increased crime, decreased school graduation figures, and explosions of violence aimed at vulnerable people, as well as, remarkably, negotiations with terrorists. There's nothing quite so constructive as enjoying a hot beverage and delicious cookies with people who cannot do anything about the problem, have no intention of even trying, or defensively persist in blaming everyone else for overblowing the situation and actually by their native Dutch insensitivity being the (only) cause of it.
In Dutch, drinking tea has negative connotations; i.e.: a silly waste of time.

Tea remains a very popular beverage nevertheless.
I, personally, think that mint is the problem.
Mint obviously inflames the passions.
Dangerous substance, clearly.
Ban that nasty stuff.

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Sunday, September 22, 2013


Either there are some amazing perverts out there, or the world is filled with strange and lonesome intellectuals. I base this surmise on the search criteria that bring people to this blog. No, not the run-of-the-mill Pakistani depravity that originates among solitary young men at three o'clock in the morning, Peshawar time -- that too yields staggering insanity; horses and blondes, for instance -- but the deep yearning for meaning, the answer to life the universe and everything (42), how mice are born (spontaneous generation), and, crucially, the difference between high cut and bikini briefs.

Which is always good.

It pulls in the inquisitive soul.

Over seventy intellectuals this week! Pilgrims!

A long time ago I wrote a post concerning that very issue. It's become sort of popular among the reading public, as my visitor numbers show.
That must be all those strange and lonesome intellectuals, who no doubt are grateful for the research I did that allows me to explain what the differences actually are.

Here's your answer.


You can fit more into the elegant high rise item than into the minute bikini equivalent. More bang for the buck, so to speak, or more booty in the bag.

You simply get more material with the larger item.
Heck, you might even get lace-trim!

In a normally rather cold place, such as San Francisco, any extra cloth is worth its weight in gold. We're usually shivering here, ten months out of every twelve it's a bleeding bog, with frigid arctic stormwinds cutting grooves in our exposed quivery flesh.
We need more fabric!

That's why you NEVER see high rise, hipster, or bikini briefs, marching down the street. We're seriously into common-sense and comfort.
I, personally, have yet to see ANYONE wearing panties in the downtown, though I am sure that some European tourists have done so, in the mistaken assumption that this place is California.
It isn't. We're elsewhere.
Someplace cold.

Perhaps in Berkeley or Oakland they march down the street wearing bikini briefs, not here. Certainly in Santa Cruz, and even Modesto. But not in San Francisco. We'd call the health department if they did. Anybody so lightly dressed requires 72 hour observation.

In fact, I'm fairly certain that I have not seen bikini briefs in several years.
I wouldn't know what to do if I did.
Throw stones?

If you have any other intellectual questions about clothing in San Francisco, please let me know. I'm rather an expert. Perhaps we can explore the subject together. Or share a lab.

Thank you for visiting.

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A long convoluted dream involving small furry creatures, teapots, and pipes. The main character appeared to be a charming and brilliant girlish weasel with a taste for tobacco mixtures involving Turkish leaf and Latakia.
 But the best part was that there was tea.

Nothing is quite so comforting as a nice cup of tea.

Whether or not the place where one is enjoying the spot of Oolong is, in fact, a suitable place to light up. Some places aren't.

One would think that enjoying a hot beverage would go hand in hand with a pipe-full of either an Oriental mixture, OR a fine pressed Virginia flake. Relaxation is better with briar.

But apparently not.

Not anymore.

I do not know any nice female weasels that smoke.
By any rational standard, my life is incomplete.

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Saturday, September 21, 2013


I am being harassed by a Vegan. This pursuant my frequent recent remarks of disparagement anent veganism, as well as recipes I posted.
Apparently the chicken curry was the last straw.

The internet is a very strange place!

With stranger people.


"Oh those poor chickens!"


I thought it was inspiring.

Most people are very inspired by chickens!

Pullets, in whatever tasty form, bring out the best in people. Fried, fricasseed, stewed, roasted, sautéed, braised, seethed in wine with peppercorns and bay leaves, assaulted with thyme and porcini.

Tandoori murgi, coq au vin, chicken parmigiana, ayam besengek.

With some tasty (vegetable) side dishes or accompaniments.
All veggies taste SO much better with nicely slaughtered birdie.

Especially while wearing a tight leather body suit and a fur coat.

You wouldn't want me to go around NAKED, would you?

To prove my point, here are three videos.

Please be much inspired.

Thank you.





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Friday, September 20, 2013


People all have certain memories that spell home, often related to food and physical comfort. For my father, as an example, a long soak in the tub with a tea tray alongside was an essential weekend ritual. Walking past the bathroom, I could hear the rustle of paper -- either the local news sheet, or the Saturday Evening Review -- and mingled with the whisps of tobacco smoke there would be lingering hints of Assam and soap. The occasional clink of porcelain. Late afternoon on Saturday or Sunday meant that the old man was "occupied".
Please do not disturb unless the world is ending.
And something can be done about it.
If not, deal with it later.

In consequence of that, you might well think that my mental sense of home involves smelling a middle-aged man immersed in water, with tea and a pack of smokes. Well, yes......... But I am the only middle-aged man in my life, and I neither smoke nor drink tea in the tub. It's just quiet time. The long moment when the world slows down, the sun crystallizes in the airwell, and dust motes dance.

Twiddling toes in warm soapy water is good for the soul.

My apartment mate does the same, and I now know enough to head somewhere else while she's soaking. Even though we're no longer a couple, haven't been for years, the image of her in warm water is perhaps not what I need to visualize.

At such times I might consider going off to get a bite to eat instead. Thinking of certain foods and smells instead induces peacefulness, and some things just scream home-comfort.
Tea and toast. Cinnamon. Scotch whisky. Marmalade.
Pipe tobacco. Fresh coffee. Coconut cookies.
Soup. Noodles. Hot chicken curry.
Chicken curry noodle soup.


Brown a large chopped onion in oil or bacon fat, add minced ginger and garlic halfway through, and add spices in stages when they have started to colour. First four teaspoons of ground coriander, then one teaspoon each of turmeric and ground cumin. When all this is nice and fragrant, decant to a bowl, and in the remaining oil gently gild large chunks of chicken (bone in), about a pound and a half.

When nicely soft golden, add the onion mixture, a hefty tablespoon or two of hot chili paste, some cracked peppercorns, a small piece of cinnamon stick, and, if you have it, a fresh stalk of lemon grass. Plus chicken stock and coconut milk to very generously cover, about two cups each. And a very hefty squeeze of lime or lemon juice.

Simmer on low for less than an hour. Adjust the taste at end with a sprinkle of salt and the merest pinch of sugar. If you used fish-paste and a dash of shrimp sauce, as many South East Asians would, the salt is unnecessary.

Putting cooked potato chunks into the soup at this point is a good idea. Dumping in several whole green chilies at the very beginning of the simmer time is also splendid; they will yield their fragrance but hardly any heat, and they look festive. As does the generous strewing of fresh cilantro mere seconds before turning off the heat.

Apportion the wet curry-soup to individual bowls, leaving plenty of room. Add some chunks of peeled cucumber.

Boil the rice stick noodles as you normally would, merely three minutes or so. When done, rinse under cold to stop the cooking, and dump a clump on top of each serving.

There will be enough for two or three people. If you are alone, use only the amount of curry, cucumber, and cilantro for one person, and put the rest in the refrigerator for tomorrow or the next day.

For a truly degenerate bachelor experience, eat in front of the teevee when Fox News or the Real Housewives are on, muttering "shut up you clods" while slurping. Dump crumbled cashews on top of your noodles, and the chicken bones on an old newspaper.

There is no small naked woman in the bath.
And the world is manifestly not ending.

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Thursday, September 19, 2013


A reader asks: "my teenager is smoking a pipe, and thinks I do not know; is he gay?"

Naturally, being the avuncular expert on such matters, I sought to reassure her. Or him. Seeing as I can neither figure out the gender of the sender, nor their own preference.

"He's as gay as he should be, and not one iota more."

The idea that pipe-smoking equals sexual confusion is as loopy as the concept that bow ties do. Which I've also heard.

Maybe your son IS gay. That's between him and his wrinkled sheets, and I can assure you his smoking equipment and his tobacconist had nothing to do with it. We ("tobacconists") are not in the business of deciding whether the customer prefers bent or straight, and if asked will simply say "choose what seems sensible and right for you".

Although, if a young lady were to ask about pipes, we might indicate that certain shapes (apples, bent billiards, Rhodesians, Zulus, and semi-bent bulldogs) flatter the girlish face.
A large Peterson System Standard, however, might be a bit much.
Not quite a question of proportion as it likely is of heft.
Women simply have smaller jaws than men.

We might also ask her out on a date. The concept of a young lady who not only likes the smell of good pipe tobacco but actually indulges in it herself is infinitely charming. Trust me, the appeal is immense. A woman who smokes pipes will never want for friendship; her company is magnetic and energizing.

Men, not nearly so much. Teenage boys, hardly at all.
We expect teenage boys to take up a pipe.
If they don't, that is peculiar.
Something odd.

I finished my response to the querent by suggesting that the young gentleman in question might need a greater allowance. Good pipes can be a wee bit pricy, and surely one would want him to have at least one Charatan or Dunhill before he's eighteen?
As well as at least half a dozen reliable briars of various makes, so that he can stay up all night studying when necessary.

The same absolutely goes for girl pipe smokers. More so, even.

Pipesmoking manifestly aids intellectual development.
Irrespective of gender or preference.
Straight or bent.

If a young lady, a prince shape.
If a boy, perhaps a billiard.

Now, stop worrying.

And light up.


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Cornell & Diehl are known for their sometimes whimsical naming conventions, having sent several tobacco mixtures with oddball appellations into the depths of the pipe-smoking universe.

Not all fine leaves need to have English images or British-sounding nomens; the Danes, Germans, and Yanks, all manufacture some fine traditional products, and at this point in time there are more splendid Oriental mixtures and pressed Virginias than what Blighty still produces.

The use of traditional bog and sod and teatime and empire jingoism is a rather stale reminder of the glorious era of London between the 1890's and 1960, when all the legendary tobaccos were still put out by respected eccentrics operating shops for gentlemen and factories adhering to mediaeval production codes.

Rather than exposing you here to a selection of Cornell & Diehl's rebellion against stodge, I would rather direct you to their website: Cornell & Diehl, Inc., where you can explore their world at your leisure.
Alternatively, there is a list of all their tobaccos reviewed (*), on, which should always be in your flip file.

I will, however, offer a brief description of a product of theirs which I recently revisited.

Pressed Virginias, fire-cured leaf, and Perique.

Presented in a flake form.

Fruity, tangy, and altogether good. This is a lovely product; Cornell & Diehl hit it out of the ballpark on this one. No, I do not know what a ballpark is or why hitting something out might be a commendable thing, I got that from a book.

I had rubbed-out a handful of flakes to air, then jarred them once the correct moisture level (nearly dry) had been reached. Letting it sit for a day or two in its glass tomb allowed the remaining moisture to redistribute and equalize, as well as an aroma to develop.

Mighty fine stuff. If you like VaPers with a blondish touch and just a hint of naughtiness, get yourself some. Life will be sunnier, your mornings will be exciting, and the fact that the big-breasted amazon took off with your credit cards, cuff-links, and the Ferrari will escape your mind. And that is a good thing. You didn't really need the cards and the car anyway, did you?

I do not have a multiplicity of cards or a snazzy crimson convertible. But smoking Exhausted Rooster made me forget entirely that I never picked up a crazy sex-bombe in an East-German dancehall. Nor have I ever worn tailored shirts with diamond cuff-links, or rafted down the river Oder wearing nothing but leopard skins.
Why, it could have happened!

I am not a big muscle-man, and my chest is not excessively hairy. Nor do I shoot elephant seals for fun and profit. But this excellent straightforward flake tobacco pushes all that into the background.

I am NOT an 'exhausted rooster'.
But sometimes my tobacco is.
It is mild on the Perique.
Attracts fruit flies.

Good smoke.

Dinner this evening will be curried chicken.


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Wednesday, September 18, 2013


I have gotten rid of three clickable labels (San Francisco Chinatown, 唐人街, and 大埠), and combined them into one giant rubric with over one hundred and thirty essays at present count. It seemed logical to do so.

唐人街 Chinatown

Under "唐人街 Chinatown" you will find much about comestibles, several random explanations of things, some personal reminiscences, as well as a little bit about Savage Kitten, who used to be my significant other and is still a good friend and someone whom I esteem. There's also stuff about movie theatres there, and the occasional anecdote.

Note: The city of San Francisco (三藩市) is also called 舊金山 (gau gam saan: old gold mountain) in Cantonese. But the only ones who still know it only by that name are rather elderly, and chances are they aren't on the internet.
Hence not using that nomen in either the title of this informational announcement or the clickable label.

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As a young man growing up, I was distinctly odd compared to my peers. Which was entirely without my planning, it just happened. Most young men living in Valkenswaard in that day and age were not reading Nabokov, Bunyan, Voltaire, or Simenon. If anything, they read adventure comics, Asterix & Obelix, and Multatuli, in addition to the sports pages and mechanical handbooks.

[Nabokov because of the elegant prose and refined depravity, Bunyan because of Blake's stellar illustrations, Voltaire because there was a naked breast on the cover of a paperback edition, and Simenon because of the frequent evocative mentions of food and mood.]

I also ended up smoking a pipe. Many teenagers will experiment with such a thing, but I went about it quite by accident. There was a beautiful item in the window of the local tobacconist, which I only purchased because it looked so nice. I was thirteen at the time.
Several weeks later, when I had turned fourteen, I bought some tobacco to smoke in it, thinking that owning a piece of smoking equipment without anything to burn therein was rather silly. It took me about two months of secret burl-fondling to come to that staggering conclusion.

Several months after that the cat discovered my equipment and the jig was up. When I came home, my mother gave me a stern lecture about how smoking causes lung cancer, kidney disease, esophageal scarring, shrunken testicles, slope brows, bad breath, gum and tooth decay, inflamed pustules on the privates, baldness, and severe social damage. She laid it on thick, using all the medical terminology at her command.
Given that one of her favourite books was the Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy, her command was immense. I had read much of that book too, so I knew what she was talking about.

And, because she chainsmoked three Kent Filter Kings during the speech, none of it sunk in.

Then she handed me over to my father, a former pipe-smoker, who lowered his newspaper, disdainfully held up my half-finished tin of 'Scottish Mixture' (fine Cavendish and Heather Honey with a touch of whisky), and informed me: "son, good pipe tobacco does NOT smell like a Turkish cat house, please smoke clean stuff".

All I heard was "please smoke".
So I did.

I had bought a pouch of Voortrekker that afternoon.
Clean stuff; I was in the clear.


In the last few months that I lived in Valkenswaard, my father went to London for ten days, leaving me more than enough money for necessary household expenses and a few small indulgences, an unlocked liquor cabinet, and an empty house, because my brother studying in Tilburg would not return home for several weeks.

This was too good an opportunity to miss!

Empty house! No one to cramp my style! Unlimited freedom!


No sooner had the VW beetle disappeared from sight down the alley than I raced upstairs to his desk in the hayloft, went directly to the second drawer, and pulled out his box of pipes. Filled the Comoy Blue Riband squat bulldog with Balkan Sobranie, and lit up.

Ten whole days!

His pipes were so much nicer than mine. And they had a special smell.
He had only smoked clean stuff in them.

No, I didn't touch the liquor cabinet, nor did I bring home women.
At that age I had no idea how to approach the female of the species (they still confuse me), and I wouldn't have had quite the confidence to pull it off. But I smoked heaps of Balkan Sobranie (a necessary household expense if ever there was one), drank buckets of strong coffee, and re-read Nabokov, Simenon, and Pilgrim's Progress.

I regret that last one.
It's rather dreary.

Other young men by that time were reading Isaac Asimov and Robert A. Heinlein, and several of them had girlfriends. But, as they did not have Balkan Sobranie, an empty house, tons of coffee, and a fevered imagination, I did not envy them.
The old Balkan Sobranie mixture has not existed since the early eighties when Redstone sold out. But the imagination is more feverishly toxic than ever before.

Caffeinated beverages are (still) excellent.

I have become a man of sober habits.
Yes, it surprises me too.

Let's call it 'maturity'.


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Sometimes, out of the corner of your ear, you hear something that tingles. While we were eating she mentioned that she admired crows because...