Monday, October 31, 2016


Like many people I was waiting for celebrity chef Jamie Oliver to release a laksa recipe, so that Singaporeans, Malaysians, and Indonesians, could raise a stink about how in-authentic it was, what was he thinking, hah stupid orang inggeris yang bodoh pretentious fool! But apparently he already has. No smelly, no smoke, no noise. Sensible people have learned to totally ignore celebrity chefs by now.

Laksa is a soup, containing broad or thick rice stick noodles, coconut milk (santen), ground coriander (bidji ketumbar), turmeric (kunyit), lemon grass (sereh, sae) and galangal (lengkuas), various fragrant leaves such as basil, kaffir lime, and salam, plus ground dried shrimp. Plus a little tamarind for tangy, and if you lived in holland ground peanuts (in lieu of kemiri).

The spices are added while frying shallots, plus fish paste or fish sauce, kemiri or ground peanuts, then stock and coconut milk are poured in and it is left to simmer for a while. Before dishing it up, shredded chicken, or fish balls (or both), and fried tofu chunks are added, and the noodles.
Minced herbs (cilantro, scallion, parsley) and crispy fried shallot (bawang goreng) on top, as well as a sliced hardboiled egg.

Like with Phở, beansprouts are often thrown in just before eating.

This is 100% the original laksa.
It is also NOT the original.

Almost every place has their own version than which there is none finer. Some variations only use fish and seafood products, in Central Java there will frequently be additions of a fermented mashed soybean product plus a decisive statement with fishpaste and palmsugar, and elsewhere the combination is rice noodles with chicken and prawns. And so forth.

Everybody uses unacceptable shortcuts whenever possible.
So do I, as I know the flavour I am aiming for.
I like cilantro and a squeeze of lime.
Important flavour aides.

Break the noodles before cooking, so that you can eat it all with a spoon.

My version is a laksa lemak, meaning literally "greasy noodles", because it is more or less a coconut curry soup with noodles. In Penang they make laksa with tamarind broth instead, and really only add seafood, not chicken, egg, and tofu. In various parts of Indonesia some very odd stuff is included, in Holland the chicken stock is made with celery & carrot, often no ground dry shrimp and fish-paste is used at all, and the noodles might be wheat instead of rice. Whether there is chili among the spices or in the spice-paste is also variable. Again, you know what flavour you are aiming for.


If you cook Indonesian, you already know what the proportions are of the various ingredients. There is a predictable joy to it, you've seen the same spice-relationships before. And you will increase or decrease as needed, and in the case of several items, on availability.

And, heresy of heresies, you might decide to dump a large handful of crumbled potato chips on top as a crunchy garnish.
Instead of emping.

What makes it real, probably, is the attitude. Wife beater shirt, jam-pants, flip-flops, and a trashy drama on the teevee which no one is watching.
Rain outside. Strong coffee and something to smoke afterwards.

We almost never get warm rain in California.
It is a very great pity.

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Underneath a recent essay in which I mentioned that making obscene propositions is not one of my many talents (see this post: Do Not Remove the Spectacles), beloved reader Anonymous asked: "you always seem to fall for librarians with glasses and women who like hot bevies -- is that your thing?"
Upon reflection, I believe it well may be my 'thing'.
Along with several other things, yes.
But a definite thing.

It needn't be a librarian. Architects, engineers, chemists, lab technicians and researchers, biologists, and astrophysicists are also in the picture.
As are, it goes without saying, mathematicians and geologists.

Basically, anybody with a brain and bitter disappointment.

Actually, I'm just wild-guessing at the disappointment, operating under the assumption that maybe not her colleagues per se but assuredly program directors and company management are more likely to overlook her talents and abilities than those of an acceptably male candidate.
It may be totally unwarranted in the modern age.
Especially in the Bay Area.
Or not.

Confession: Whether the T(alents) and A(bilities)of people in sales and marketing are overlooked is not really of significance to me. Sales and Marketing are not real subjects. Just four years of hoo-hah.
They could indeed have commendable T and A.
But that is not an issue.

The Spectacles are a visual bonus. A very large percentage of people who mean much to me have spectacles, and I just think that that is a natural characteristic of extremely likeable and admirable people.
Silly, I know, but that's just the way it is.
Humans usually need glasses.

I myself did not wear glasses for the longest time, but now that I can't focus very well on anything less than two feet away, I feel much more likeable than before. I did not used to feel this way.

The hot beverage is very important. Civilized life is founded upon hot beverages, and hot beverages more than anything speak of happiness, comfort, and calmth. Frat boys drink beer, juvenile delinquents and slobboes consume thirty two ounce soft drinks, pretentious twits sip champagne and expensive bottled water, idiots put ice in everything.
Working people, students, and teddy bears drink hot beverages.
The tired, the poor, the huddled masses, crave a cuppa.

Coffee, tea, or cocoa.
It's all good.

"Librarians with glasses and women who like hot bevies -- is that your thing?"


PS.: No, I haven't fallen for anyone.
Don't jump to conclusions.

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Sunday, October 30, 2016


There's an anti-masturbation dolphin! Occasionally he visits Phoenix. That alone should take you mind off this horrible election and make you feel good about America.

When I was growing up in Europe, we didn't have ANY anti-masturbation dolphins. We were deprived. Consequently there are horrible self-doubts that I have never been able to shake since returning to the United States.
Strange images of fish with glowing angel wings. Sorry.

Phoenix is a remarkable place.
One day I will visit.

From CNN:

"Late last night, a Phoenix police officer broke into a local YMCA during a meeting for Christians who are striving to live a masturbation-free lifestyle. The officer’s intentions was to save the organization’s dolphin mascot from a burning fire."

Commendable. Save the dolphins.

"When police arrived to arrest 41-year-old Tom Downey of the Phoenix Police Department, they found the man naked, running around in circles and chasing after the group’s dolphin mascot. Downey told detectives he had taken a mixture of LSD, cough medicine and antifreeze earlier that day."

Points for trying, and obviously doing the right thing.
My hands are encased in vaseline-filled gloves.

"37-year-old Paul Horner, AKA Fappy The Anti-Masturbation Dolphin, a mascot for a Christian organization that travels around the country educating children about the dangers and consequences of touching yourself ... "

Preserve us.

According to Phil Freedom, who was at the Christian meeting:

"This man was just standing there, naked, staring through the glass at our room where our meeting was going on with so much anger. He then broke through the glass and started running after the dolphin, taking off the mascot’s head and shouting obscenities. It was absolutely horrifying."


Apparently, that's "Carla’s Nice Nunnery (CNN) owned and operated by The Reverend Paul Horner"
3701 SW 12th St, Topeka, KS 66604
(785) 273-0325

This particular "CNN" may not be a bona fide news source. And Fappy the Dolphin might never even have visited Phoenix. Which is sad, because one would assume that if there were an anti-masturbation dolphin, then surely there would also be a self-abuse monkey?
Probably a bonobo.

They could have a debate. Everyone loves a debate.

I grieve for great opportunities lost.

Poor Phoenix.

On the whole, I think masturbation is a good thing. It keeps your son away from playing war games on his computer in the basement, and seeing as most internet porn comes with malware and viruses, there's a very good chance that he won't be able to play war games again.

Perhaps he'll finally get a job? Or at least get out of the basement and go get some exercise, even if it's only walking down to the Boo King for a yummy snack every two or three hours.

He might meet somebody.

When I was a boy, we didn't have internet porn OR junk-food, and our wargames were depressingly real. Consequently we had to bicycle ten kilometers north to Eindhoven to buy smut at the porno boutique right at the junction of the Aalster Weg and the road to Leende, just before it becomes Stratumse Dijk.

Because if we shopped locally, someone might recognize us.

It was a different age back then.
We were all so innocent.

Women weren't invented until the eighties.
And they only came in one size.

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Apparently it tastes very much like meat, but is totally Vegan. And no, you probably can't request blue cheese and bacon on top. Because, karma.
This being the "Impossible Burger", developed by a California company, anxious to re-create the soul-satisfying taste of real animal protein oozing sheer bloody animal goodness fresh from the grill.

Quote from SF Gate:

"Jardiniere is one of three West Coast restaurants launching the burger, which debuted at David Chang’s Momofuku Nishi in New York City in July. Des Jardins cooks the patties in cast-iron skillets and serves them on (vegan) Acme buns, topped with Dijonnaise sauce, caramelized onions, avocado, cornichons, and lettuce and tomato."

"According to Traci Des Jardins, chef-owner of Jardiniere, on Thursday lines formed outside her restaurant several hours before the burger went on sale. The restaurant has sold out so quickly that it now issues tickets at 7 p.m. just to make sure it can meet all its orders."

It's a veggie burger made to resemble real meat.

Think about that for a moment.

You know, you can get a real burger for less money with no wait at Sam's on Broadway. This North Beach landmark has been slinging patties since some time in the sixties, when Monzer Al Shawa took over from his uncle Mohsen. He himself has passed on, alas, but his son Fehdi, and able staff Nabil ("the Marokkish Guy") and a polite dude whose name I still don't know, will happily stuff you full of good beef and fries, continuing a tradition of feeding the frenzied mobs with grace and good nature.

You and your date will rub elbows with yuppies, fratties, strippers, drunks, druggies, fleabag hotel residents, sleazy Europeans, and at least one bookseller, and one tobacconist. Plus people in the rag trade.

618 Broadway (at Grant Avenue / Columbus)
San Francisco, Ca 94133.

You will not get Dijonnaise sauce, caramelized onions, avocado, and cornichons. A bit too high class, all that, and maybe not necessary.

They seldom replenish the box-wine nowadays; drink beer.

Have some mayonnaise or ranch on your fries.

Or barbecue sauce and Sriracha.

Damned good burger.

It's close to several fine drinking establishments.
Some of which are more than impossibly seedy.

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Saturday, October 29, 2016


Friendly note to the person somewhere out in internetlandia who found my blogsite by typing the words "big .... " into the search bar. Sorry, what you found was NOT an admission of endowment, but proboscal suffering:
The post entitled "Big Quivering Nose" detailed recent sinusitis.
Coupled with the common cold.

It was obviously NOT what you were looking for.

I would ask what gender you are, but I suspect that I already know the answer. And I'm sure that you have since that moment located several large flasks of Sriracha hot sauce. Probably also not what you wanted.


I have always been baffled by people who go for size of one part, whether larger or smaller than the norm, instead of considering the dimensions of the whole. A sixty four ounce steak may be wonderful, but along with a Texas-sized baked potato and a bucket of ranch-dressed salad or grits, there is just too much there. Enough to share among the multitude. Jesus had five loaves and two fishes, and everybody got a tuna sandwich.

A particular pet peeve is the breast fetishist. A woman's mammary gland should be the right size. As the tale of Goldilocks tells us, "just right". Goldilocks would say the same about a man's dangly bit.

As an example, all of my briar smoking pipes have roughly similar interior dimensions, which my experience has shown is the optimum for tobacco enjoyment, although some tobaccos work better in slightly broader bowls, others are divine in a narrow bore. I have serious doubts about the men who go for giant hunks of wood and suspect that they compensate for smallmindedness and a boring personality at the very least.
Likewise the people who order a Venti or a Trenta.
If you need that much, drink a second cup.

Yes, a perfect grain pattern looks gorgeous on a large Charatan or Danish Freehand, and it really does show off how straight and perfect it is. But you cannot smoke such a thing. Unless you are physically brutish. It's just too big. It's a strain on the jaws, cumbersome, and eventually the tongue bite will prove agonizing. Whatever you smoke, the monochromacity will bore you. You will enjoy it less and less, as time goes on, and finally leave it on the mantelpiece next to the stuffed rhinoceros head, while you go off and find a petite Chacom with pleasing curves. Or an estate Comoy Grand Slam, London Pride, or Blue Riband.

Eventually your mouth (or whatever other orifice) will recover from that brutalizing. And you'll wonder what on earth possessed you.
Perhaps you will even seek help. Counselling.

Excess is never the answer.

[I could say the same about cigars, but I have long ago realized that for many men there's a streak of subconscious homoerotic penis-envy a mile wide, and if they didn't have a large cheroot they would probably visit the bath houses and engage in dangerous games with dumb brutes.]

Another useful analogy is carpentry, where intelligence dictates using the right tool for the job, and not using a sledgehammer on a carpet tack, or a jeweller's screwdriver for a Phillips-head. Both fine grit and coarse sandpaper have their place, but don't confuse the two.

Or cooking. Too much chilipepper burns, too little bores.

Or gefilte fish: just the right amount of chrein.

Avoid drunks, as well as puritans.

Anyhow, back to the person searching for a "big .... ". I hope that he or she found what she was looking for, because there are tonnes of people out there advertising that very item. He or she should so happy. Once all such folks have found each other, rude pictures will disappear from the internet, and there will be nothing but kitten pictures.

Good luck. We're praying for you.
We all want kitten pictures.

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Friday, October 28, 2016


Last night I realized with a start that I may never have actually known how to make an obscene proposition. I feel that I have missed something. Almost all of my nasty fantasies involve food or hot beverages.

There may be a flaw in my personality. Propositioning seems to be a fundamental part of human interaction.

"He felt her warm soft hand enfold his, as the light gradually dimmed in the spacious high-ceilinged room. There was nobody else in the library besides them, and he was conscious of a feeling he could not describe. Before he knew it, he had uttered what was deep within, a sentiment that a gentlemen should keep buried .....

Miss Smith, you are beautiful without your glasses!

She sighed, and said "let us read Voltaire".

Pages rustled in the night."

And right about at that point, I realize that the two of them will be going without dinner, and that the well-ordered library may have a water cooler, but won't have a kitchenette where a pot of tea or coffee can be brewed. It is to be hoped that she has tea bags or a jar of insta at her desk. But unless there's a small Frigidaire, whatever hot beverage they end up with will have to be entirely without milk.

She was probably hoping for a cup of hot cocoa.

As a suitor he is a disappointment.

At the very least, he should've suggested going to Starbucks or a Peets. There's probably one conveniently close by, and all possible passion and friskiness have to start with caffeine. This is well known!

Kisses flavoured with mocha, oh my.

And a dusting of cinnamon.

Entirely aside from which, she probably looks cute with her glasses on.
Many women do. Most of them do not realize that this is so.

Whether or not they decide to wear anything else, they should keep the glasses on.

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Thursday, October 27, 2016


There are no tattooed or pierced men in the local pipe club. Yes, a few of the members have a degenerate fondness for some mighty peculiar blends, but not a single one smokes Molto Dolce. This nicely substantiates my theory that there are two types of pipe-smokers: those who are calm and thoughtful types, versus elves and hobbits, OR, depending on your point of view, batshit Gandalf with spikes as opposed to Bertrand Russell.

The pierced and tattooed individuals, clearly, do not play well with others.
Their pipe is a style-statement, and proof that they are rebellious and artistic. Oh, such lone wolves, and bohemians.
Basement dwellers.

Hence, of course, their fondness for aromatics.
Nothing says "unique" like a fruit-loop stench.

But, as I said, none such in the club. No tattoos. No tribal body art.
No Viking-themed personal aesthetic preferences.
Not a goth in the bunch.

I also seriously doubt that any one of our little coterie could ever be caught dead yowling at televised wrestling, or snarfing pizza and beer with other men while the game is on.

There are a few who have some doubtful tastes, even borderline odd, but there are no punks, perverts, religious nuts, dungeon masters, wiccans and satanists, or raging over-the-top artistic types. We are a refreshingly normal bunch, more-than-average thoughtful and rational, with well-considered opinions and clearly expressed ideas.

Well, excepting myself, of course. You've seen evidence to the contrary in my case on this blog. But I am calmer when around live humans.

Yet I too avoid aromatics. Most of the time. Occasionally I indulge in very private perfumed perversion -- Erinmore Flake, 1792 Flake, or Peterson's University Flake -- but I do not normally do so, and I always feel slightly unclean afterwards.

Most flakes are very well behaved tobaccos.
As are old-fashioned Balkan mixtures.
Restrained, thoughtful, subtle.

And that, my dears, is how you should always choose your pipesmoker.
Is he an intelligent and rational man? Or is he a raving "individualist" who is embarrassing to be around? Does he make you feel interesting and appreciated, or unclean by association?

Is it all about him?

Does his tobacco smell like a candy factory?

Is his pipe rancid?


There are, of course, exceptions. A large Lesbian I met a while ago has good feelings about an aromatic that smells like fresh juicy green apples.
Perhaps her father was a pervert who smoked that, I don't know and I'm not asking questions. The point is that many people including several (!) pipe-smokers have absurdly fond smell-memories -- for instance Scottish Blend, by Royal Theodorus Niemeyer B.V., which was my first pipe tobacco, or Niemeyer's Irish Blend, which I also tried -- and conversely some really severe Protestant bastards like rich mixtures redolent of the Levant.
A slobbery old git I once knew smoked Virginia and Perique.

Troost and Amphora have their place.

And a very reliable, irritatingly rational at times, person whom I see often, loads his pipe with a succession of thoroughly nasty aros, and it isn't just to irritate people of good taste. He actually likes that stuff.
He's also fond of Operas and Latin music.
There may be a connection.

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One of the dishes that migrated to Holland with the exiles from the Indies was a plate of semi-thin wheat noodles fried with garlic, scallion or shallot, plus sweet soy sauce, fried egg, minced or chopped meat, and a hot paste on the side. It's a popular throw-together, often eaten alongside some very strange allegedly Chinese dishes at late night eateries, or as a quick lunch.
But really, fried starch, egg, meat, hotsauce? That's breakfast!

[Hokkien pronunciation: "char bak mi"]

It's a close relative of chow mein (炒麵), which is all-American. As with all fried noodle dishes, there has been recipe-shift. The Indonesian and Dutch versions always have egg as well as meat, always use sweet soy sauce (ketjap manis), and always have the option of chili paste (sambal). Chopped vegetables are added as well; either Chinese cabbage of some kind, or celery. Even Savooie Kool (Brassica oleracea var. sabauda).

Fancier versions include prawns, which is exceptionally good.
Chunked or shredded chicken also can.
Even slices of charsiu.
Or bockwurst.

Sweet soy sauce (ketjap manis) accords well with a Javanese preference, as many people there like a touch of sweetness in all their savoury and spicy foods. And it goes well with the wheat noodles.

Sambal is an essential adjunct.

The typical American breakfast of dubious fried pork products, greasy fried potato shreds, plus one or two rubbery eggs, and a bowl of crunchy sugared cereal, should be chucked out the window at least once a week, and some tasty fried noodles would be an excellent alternative.

Your stomach will thank you.

NOTE: In addition to a cruse of sweet soy sauce and condiment pot of sambal, the typical modern Dutchman probably also expects salt, pepper and a bottle of Maggi on the table. Which is just weird.

A fried egg? Come on, that's breakfast!

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Wednesday, October 26, 2016


While it is splendid as is, if done well, it could be improved. A good rendition is satisfying, filling, and fortifies you for a long afternoon of climbing up and down the bamboo scaffolding with a hod. Or, if not that, playing mahjong all night and singing karaoke. That last part should scare a good friend, who probably still has nightmares of me doing a number by Teresa Teng years ago.
It was a lovely romantic ballad. I can't sing worth diddly, the place was seedy and had horrible acoustics, and snide snarky cynical middle-aged Dutch Americans should NOT sing sentimental songs in Mandarin.
Or even doing anything karaoke related.
I realize that now.

鄧麗君: 月亮代表我的心


The good thing is that it was never captured on cell-phone video, so I can pretend it never happened. It shall not show up on Facebook. Ever.

I wish I could say the same about the Gangnam Style Dance-Off.

But enough about me, let's talk about something that could be made better; the hod-carrying filling fortification.

Baked Portuguese Chicken Rice ('guk pou-gwok gai-faan')

What it is, is a layer of egg-fried rice en-casserole, with cooked chicken and some vegetable matter on top, covered with a healthy pouring of mild coconut curry sauce, a sprinkle of grated cheese, and stuck underneath the broiler till hot and bubbly. A not-really-optional touch is a teaspoon or two of shredded coconut to toast brown down the centre. It is a popular dish in tea-restaurants (茶餐廳 'cha-chanteng'), and considered distinctly lower-class hearty fare suitable for working men with appetites.

Or middle-aged Dutch American personages.

Who eat alone and day-dream.

It would be excellent if shared, in which case some yauchoi with oystersauce alongside would be a good idea.

The best versions have potato chunks for the vegetable matter, and maybe pieces of green bellpepper. But ideally there would also be minced scallion in the egg-fried rice used for the first layer, and a strip or two of smoky bacon laid over the casserole before baking it in the oven.

In some places they don't quite realize that the sauce is supposed to be Portuguese (Maccanese), and use a blanket of white sauce instead, which is an abysmal deviation. Plus canned mushroom should NEVER be included, what the hell were you thinking?!?

[Portuguese Sauce: Coconut milk, chicken stock, curry powder, minuscule amounts of cayenne, garlic, and cornstarch to give it body. It was probably invented in Macau. We'll blame them for it.]

And more sprinkle cheese; there should always be more cheese.

A little bit for you, a little bit for me, and some yauchoi.
Bon appétit, enjoy, maan maan sik.

We shall have some more milk-tea.

One place which does a good version has a table near the window and also lovely Italian cake. But one has to time it just right, because if it's too early that table is occupied by businessmen or middle-aged ladies.

Apparently I am not the only person who likes a spot of Hong Kong style milk-tea in late afternoon.

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It's the season of disease and berserkety. Yesterday I did not leave the house because of a stuffy nose, which alternated between plugged solid, with swollen sinuses, and flood-like leaking. That actually prevented any berserkety, because I just did not feel like it. I stayed home, dozed, read the news, dozed, and read the news again.

The news, nowadays, is a horrid substitute for chicken soup.

I want milk-tea, a good smoke, and some rambunction!

Today might not be a day for that either.

Which does not please me.

I rarely get ill, and have not needed to take off for my health in several years. My philosophy about taking sick leave has always been that you don't call in but show up anyway, establish that you are miserable but a trooper, then on the first day that you feel well enough to party, make sure everyone knows you're at home with the sniffles.

That has never worked. The one time I really shouldn't have gone into the office was on a Saturday, and I was the only person there. The only reason I didn't collapse on the cable car back home was because one of the other passengers was a monumental know-it-all boring dunderhead, and hearing his voice droning to another passenger was irritating.

I had heard him several times before. Always the same self-centered tales of the past. Oh shut up you old cock. Don't look this way, I am NOT going to make eye-contact. Keep staring straight ahead.

He's dead now, I think, or in a care facility where they keep him sedated.
Haven't seen him in years.

Anyhow, the point of all this is that I never call in sick. Yesterday and today happen to be my weekend, and it gripes me no end that my nose and sinuses aren't making me happy. They're ruining my days off!
If I'm going to feel nasty, I want to be paid for it.

I think I'll shave and wash anyway, and go into Chinatown for snackies at some point. Gotta get out of the house. Some very mild berserkety.

Should I smoke around little children, or old people?
Or maybe blow clouds at the pigeons?
Maybe I'll just cough.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016


An old colleague of my father years ago mentioned fond memories of the Technical University in Bandung (Technische Hogeschool Bandoeng) where he got a degree before the war. And Bandung before the war was considered a very nice place, the Paris of the East.
An altogether civilized city.

After the war the names changed, as did the population. The Dutch who had resided there all moved elsewhere, if they had even returned from the prisoner of war camps (Tjimahi, Tjihapit, et autres), the Nationalists took over, and the very name of the place is now forever associated with a conference of despots associated with the non-aligned movement.

Bandung is also associated with tea plantations, a cooler climate than the pestilential hell-hole Batavia (140 kilometres south-east, on the coast), and a great hotel, the Savoy Homann, famous for its rijsttafel.

A few authors have mentioned Bandung in their writings - Tjalie Robinson (Jan Boon), Johan Wigmore Fabricius, F. Springer (Carel Jan Schneider), Elizabeth ('Beb') Vuyk, et all -- but memories of the food pale, often, in comparison to the camps.

There is an age gap. Those whose fondest memories of Bandung as it was, were too old to survive much into the modern age; those who wrote best experienced the war and the bersiap period. That, necessarily, darkened their memories.

Bandung today has a population of over two and a half million, up from less than twenty thousand before the war. During the Indonesian struggle for independence the southern district of city burned in the fierce battles for control, and much of it was destroyed. Bandung is a different place.

Many of the trees have long since been chopped down.
Modern cities wage war on old growth.
Little hasn't changed much.

The Hotel Homann still exists. The food is as good as it ever was.

They say you can never go back. My father's associate did go back, and enjoyed doing so. But other than the food and the hotel, it was not the same. He left as a native. He returned as a foreigner.

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When I first came back to the States after spending my entire youth in Holland (we had moved there when I was still a baby), American food baffled and repulsed me. The fries were limp and greasy, the beer was damn-near piss, the cheese that locals ate was nasty-tasting industrial extrudite, bread was quite utterly unmentionable, and other than McIlhenny's Tabasco there was no hot sauce. No herring. But stale weak coffee, and luncheon meats beyond the limit of human endurance.
Oh, and what Americans used for mustard was a crime against humanity.
Please imagine the horror of landing in that environment.
A gustatory and social waste land.

Since those first ghastly weeks I have learned how to cope.

There is no hope for herring here, and most domestic luncheon meat is inedible. Good coffee is available where ever you find a Peet's or transplanted San Franciscans nowadays.

Some people actually make good fries. Sam's on Broadway in North Beach usually does an excellent job.

There are craft beers now, and even back then Anchor Steam was a shaft of gold when all around was dark. But you don't need beer to survive, and as Americans drink past the point of idiocy, it is best to avoid beer halls.

Good cheese could be found, but you had to search. The Cheese Board in Berkeley was a resource, since then many more California cheeses have been produced by real human beings, and for the last several years I have lived a few blocks away from Cheese Plus at Polk and Pacific.

San Francisco has sourdough, baguette, and rustic loaves.

And David Tran made a hot sauce that has conquered the world.


Actually, that's just the civilized world, mostly Northern California.

His company (Huy Fong Foods, Inc.) also offers a chili garlic sauce, and a sambal oelek. They used to produce a sambal badjak too, but aficionados usually make their own by slow-frying sambal oelek or chili garlic sauce with a paste of mashed shallots, a few kemiri nuts, some fish paste, and a pinch of sugar, till oily and darkened considerably, but not nearly so dark as a typical jarred Dutch sambal goreng (mashed chili fried with shallots and fish paste till stiff and almost black).

Basically, almost any variation on a sambal can be made by using one of Huy Fong's lovely products as a building block.

Along with thick sweet soy sauce (ketjap manis) and mayonnaise, you have the fundament of Dutch cooking in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century.

You can fudge nearly everything else, or get by using local products and native vernuft, but without access to chilies, mayo, and soy sauce, you cannot live a civilized life.

American mustard is still barbaric.

Do not go too deep into the Interior; there are headhunters and trailer-park cannibals there. It's all Texas.

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Monday, October 24, 2016


Two of my Facebook friends, whom I actually also know in real life, vie for the title of most scrumptious food picture poster. Which is very irritating.
They both eat very well, and I like their food.
But I do not eat like that.

They both eat with someone else. One is married to a lovely companion, the other goes out late in the evening with buxom drag queens.

I eat by myself. On my days off I go to places in Chinatown and either listen-in on other people's lives -- as a Cantonese-speaking kwailo I can do that -- or I just observe people. Ninety nine point oompty percent of the time it's alone. My apartment-mate does not eat at the same time as I do, we cook separate meals, and tend to occupy the common areas at different hours. We share comestibles (cheese, cookies, icecream, bacon, eggs, etcetera), but by any measure that is not the same as eating together.

It makes me envious that someone so shy as my apartment mate should actually eat as socially as she does, whereas the social person (which is me, I am a veritable butterfly dammit) eats by himself virtually all the time.

She has events with relatives, co-workers, and her boyfriend. Plus old schoolmates, and friends from former jobs.
The full gamut, in fact.

If it weren't for the cheap lunch counters, tea restaurants, dim sum places, bakeries, coffeeshops, and roast meat restaurants, in Chinatown, I would probably go crazy.

I think tomorrow I shall head out in the middle of the afternoon and have either roast duck, or baked Portuguese chicken rice. Either siu-mei at the place with all the windows, or a chachanteng classic while watching the passers-by on the street.

Then I'll go find an awning or abandoned doorway where I might shelter from the rain while smoking a pipe afterwards.

You humans look delicious when wet.

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As a sign of how unfair this election is, people who vote for Clinton can go to the polls as early as November 8th., whereas those honest folks voting for Donald Trump have to be patient until November 28.
Yes, I know, it's such a completely unequal situation.
But if you don't vote, they'll steal the election.

I urge all loyal Trump supporters to flock to the polls on November 28, and prove by sheer numbers who really deserves to be president.



Or should that be 'T Day'? In any case, make it count. If you have to, take the day off. The twenty-eighth of November is too important.

On the 28th. of November we take back what is ours!


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Sunday, October 23, 2016


It is a sad thing that at this very moment I am keenly aware of the box of cookies. It sits between me and the television set. My apartment mate bought them, and because she is fast asleep in her own room, I cannot ask if I may have any. I'm sure she'd say yes, but I should ask, so that she is fully cognizant of the horror her assent would unleash. I would finish the entire box of them, and be bouncing off the walls, high as a kite on refined sugar, honey, and almond chunks. Then I would sink into a stupor, once the sugar wears off, and likely fall asleep fully clothed on my bed, reeking of almonds and pipe tobacco (I smoked five bowls of rubbed-out flake while in Marin today, mixed with a little fragrant dark toast).

It would be a frightening Sunday evening.

So I'll do the gentlemanly thing.

And not wake her.

They sit there, tempting me with their crumbly sugary goodness.

It is far too late to go to Chinatown for dinner. All my favourite places close by eight or nine, there is nothing good to eat at this hour.

Bitter melon or eggplant with sliced fish? Roast duck over rice, or siu-yiuk braised tofu? Perhaps baked Portuguese chicken rice or a club sandwich with fries at the Washington? Salt fish eggplant, a flaky lotus bun, and milk-tea? Even congee and some stirfried gailan with oyster sauce?

No can do. Meanwhile, those almond cookies wink at me.
They are tempting, so crunchy and sinful.
Being good is hard.

['King-to Chaan-kwun']
839 Clay Street, San Francisco, CA 94108.
Telephone: 415-397-6269

港新寶燒腊小食 KAM PO (H.K.) - KAM PO KITCHEN
['Gong San Pou Siu-lap Siu-sik']
801 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133.
Telephone: 415-982-3516.

['Waa-seng-duen Chaa Chaan-teng']
733 Washington Street, San Francisco, CA 94108.
Telephone: 415-397-3232

['Ho-lei-wut Chaa Chaan-teng']
652 Pacific Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94133.
Telephone: 415-397-9919

['Ngan Dou Wantan Min']
648 Pacific Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94133
Telephone: 415-834-9388

I'm just listing these places for completeness' sake. Much like a starving man would write out recipes, or a recovering alcoholic might fondly recite the names of his favourite single malt Scotch whiskies which are available at the cigar bar on Pine Street. It's a form of self-torture.
I'll probably be dreaming about them tonight.
I do not want to cook anything.
I'll just suffer.

There's quiche in the freezer, but I'm not that hungry.

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Someone expressed an interest in my blog today. Which is remarkable.
It strikes me, however, that there is an awful lot of stuff here which may require explanation, or which really needs to be understood from the beginning lest misunderstandings arise.

Firstly, I am not a pervert or a lizard-alien. This is very important, don't let anyone tell you otherwise. I do not lie on a hot rock on my days off enjoying the warm sunlight.

Secondly, some posts here have proved quite popular, and are still being discovered by people wandering around the internet. Here are the links to those posts: Dim sum names, how to prepare sea cucumber, what the term ham sap lo means, the definition of French cut, versus, for instance, high cut or granny panties (I did some research, don't ask why), the short story that my aunt in Canada loved (it features animals), fun with feminine hygiene (it's totally clean), and a story that explains why I never get invited to Saint Patrick's Day parties.

Plus, as a lagniappe, a very unsuitable tale about mixing cocaine and Habañero chilies. It's cautionary.

An anecdote which several friends really liked: Mister Snow Poof.

And a story which enchanted my ex: celebration for turkeys.
She wanted me to illustrate it, but I don't draw very well.
Maybe sometime.

Thirdly, I have a thing about ceramics: pottery and porcelain terms.

There's also pipes and tobacco.

That covers the really interesting stuff. Most of the time I just gibber a bit about Hong Kong milk tea, food, egregious things, and what I'm smoking in my pipe that moment.

Occasionally I mention badgers,


and Hello Kitty.

There are other subjects, of course. The mind is a cesspool, fecund and richly fermenting, with semi-solid lumps that float to the top.

It all started over a decade ago.
I'm working the kinks out.

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The song below is better than the American National Anthem, and likely to confuse everybody voting for Trump. "Who are those Mexicans", they will probably wonder aloud, "and why are you singing about them?"

Whereupon they will without a doubt conclude that it's all a horrible Muslim plot and Obama is going to come and take your guns.



The people named in this song should be denied entry, lest they come to blow up a Walmart parking lot near you.

Cacat bovis, cacat bovinus, dixit Eclesientes ...

Still seventeen days of this silliness, before we know whether there will be riots. Or whether there will be riots.

Don't leave the house on the eighth.
Something is planned.

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Saturday, October 22, 2016


Today: everybody in Marin County is deliriously happy with what they are right now, smokes pot, and is entitled. Everyone else is unworthy.
I am not worthy either, which is why I live in San Francisco.
But enough about Marin, which isn't real.
Where I live is real.

Change the subject.

Friday: lunch with an old friend, then later in the afternoon tea at the New Hollywood while listening in on a Taiwanese couple discussing English classes with a person from Thailand. The subject matter was not nearly as fascinating as the cadences and pronunciation. I would make a lousy spy, as details are less interesting than verbal framework.

Alas, I doubt that any of those three "English speakers" behind me would understand either Monty Python, or Pen Pineapple Apple Pen.
Too serious, too sincere, too uber goober.

Not American-born Canto enough.

Actually, I'm not even sure that most American-born Cantonese have the necessary mental dexterity; it takes a rare breed. The Cantos, mostly, would have to have experienced both Lowell and KQED, and abstained from anything Hello Kitty related, unless exercising a sense of irony and absurdity.

Most of the American Cantonese are too serious, especially if their exposure to non-Canto English-speakers has been somewhat limited. And if they're American-born their familiarity with Cantonese movies, especially the films of Wong Jing (王晶), Michael Hui (許冠文), and Stephen Chow (周星馳), is usually far too scant to appreciate non-sequentiality and composed irrelevance. It's not part of the toolbox.

Eric Tsang (曾志偉), Carol ('Dodo') Cheng (鄭裕玲)?
Karl Maka (麥嘉)? Chris Tucker (傑士德加)?

Nah. I think you have to be very HK to appreciate them.
If not actually HK, then hip, goofy, or Aspergery.
Solemn little droodges just can't cut it.

"a stinking transvestite what should have his face sawn off"

They're good at school however, and make decent engineers, bankers, and office workers. Their more 'badly English speaking' kinfolk often think of them as rather dull, even when they're proud of any achievements.

The ability to appreciate the Holy Grail, famous director Luchino Visconti and mopeds, or English goal keepers moved to poetry by the Yangtse river, river full of fish, is not given to everyone.
It requires English fluency.
Or German.

One out of a thousand, maybe. Logical minds and Montyesquity.
A great package. It's visionary.

[The person with whom I ate lunch yesterday was one out of ten or a hundred thousand, possibly a million. Not Canto, or Anglo. But that is neither here nor there.]

Naturally most other Americans are not as flexible, as witness the current American election, which is nothing if not droll, berserk, and screamingly insane. But they take it so seriously!

Are you scared of clowns? You should be, several of them are running your way. And they don't look like nice people.

My parrot is deceased and I have several jars of honey.
I should have been a lumberjack.


This blogger is more likely, MUCH more likely, to enjoy snackies and a hot beverage where the people running the joint speak Cantonese all the time as a first language, and are often hamstrung by English, than at any restaurant which employs the English-semi-fluent American born, who only understand their parents' co-dialecticals well, treat everyone else who speaks Cantonese with bafflement and disdain, and never appreciate that someone so obviously not related to them in any way can actually read all the words on the wall and in the menu, because it would take a literacy that they just don't have to do so.

Like other Americans, their ears are stiff and rigid.
I shall not mention what's between.


I'm still somewhat peeved that the waitress several months ago did not know that 苦瓜 ('fu gwa') was identified on her menu as 涼瓜 ('leung gwa'). What I wanted was precisely what it said on the menu: bitter melon and fish over rice (涼瓜斑球飯 'leung gwa pan kau fan').
What I got was two (兩個 'leung go') orders of something random.

There's only ONE of me, I am not huge.
And I'm pointing at the words.
Look at my finger.



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Friday, October 21, 2016


The only reason I don't unfriend some people on Facebook is because they are old and crazy and shouldn't be blamed for saying stupid things. For instance that Clinton and Trump are equally bad, and that they are going to vote for Jill Stein.

Well at least the old fool isn't voting for Trump. That's probably the only reason why I tolerate him. But seriously, voting for Jill Stein is something only a mental defective would do.

It's a waste of time, a waste of a vote, and a pointless and blitheringly middle-class Caucasian thing to do.

What's the point of having a voice if every rational person who hears it thinks that you're finally beyond reason?

Voting for Jill Stein is the political equivalent of becoming a Scientologist or joining Heaven's Gate.

You do know that her running mate was only chosen because a radical black intellectual makes stupid white 'progressives' feel warm and happy, don't you? He gives them that delicious moist feeling of being revolutionary and impactfull. He's spent his entire life catering to their white guilt. Highlights of his career include being an apologist and admirer of nearly every despotism on the planet, from the old Soviet Union to modern-day North Korea, Syria, and Cuba, while supporting a host of crackpot conspiracy theories.

"The Sanders’ campaign, like the Obama phenomenon before it, does not offer a program or strategic direction for addressing the current crisis and contradictions of Western capitalist societies."

---Ajamu Baraka; vice presidential candidate of the Green Party, in CounterPunch, September 16, 2015.

"My dialectic method is not only different from the Hegelian, but is its direct opposite. To Hegel, the life-process of the human brain, i.e. the process of thinking, which, under the name of 'the Idea', he even transforms into an independent subject, is the demiurgos of the real world, and the real world is only the external, phenomenal form of 'the Idea'. With me, on the contrary, the ideal is nothing else than the material world reflected by the human mind, and translated into forms of thought."

--Karl Marx; someone responsible for a huge amount of hot air.

To nimrods such as Ajamu Baraka, everything should be seen in relation to class struggle, and the overthrow of "a demented and dying U.S. empire" and its "colonial allies".

Voting for the Green Party, with Stein and Baraka at the helm, would be an outrageously immoral and cynical act, besides monumentally destructive, stupid, and self-hating.

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Thursday, October 20, 2016


To quote a person who has far more experience over there than any of the rest of us, "that's the second dumbest thing I've heard in Marin". I did not ask him what the dumbest thing was, because I could already see the conversation leading to existenzangst, and self-doubt. "What am I doing here", I might well ask, "and is there any hope for humanity?"

You never want to be in a position where you ask yourself those questions in Marin. For many people it leads to mysticism, yoga, and food hang-ups.

Saints preserve us from mystical white folks.
And their yoga. Or their food hang-ups.

I'm perfectly fine with my present set of food hang-ups. Hot piles of gluten (delicious pasta!), meat (ooh, scrumptious!), dairy products from cows with emotional states and karma that mean nothing to me (cheese! I must have some cheese!), the sacred duality of foie gras and veal (cotellette de veau grilée, couronnée de foie gras poêlé et réduction de vin rouge), plus gmos, vegetables that most white people won't touch, divers types of chili pepper, and a haphazard mingling of natural and artificial flavours.

What set off this series of events was a parking lot tirade.

"I blame the Catholic Church for this, yes the Catholic Church! I want them held responsible, there ought to be laws! Wherever the Catholic Church has been there's a disrespect for normal human values, boundaries, order, and other people's property! See that? That there? That's what I'm talking about! It's Catholicism! The Catholics!"

We strained to see what he was talking about.

Surely it wasn't the Peet's coffee cup?

Neatly placed on one of the lines?

It was.

Because it so disturbed him, we cleaned it up.

I am awfully tempted to go to Marin on a day off, early in the morning, to put three or four cups there waiting for him. Because he would never suspect me. I am not Catholic.

For the record, I don't do yoga, scorn mysticism, have never dabbled in white folks Buddhism (or any other kind), despise self-appointed food phobes, can't stand pot, do not play a guitar, and have never chanted mantras or 'om'. I am not spiritual, I only visit Marin for the tobacco.

I drink coffee in San Francisco.

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No, I did not watch the debate. But I did read about it afterwards. Like all rational people I have already made up my mind to vote for the human, in hopes that the orange-faced lizard will be defeated, humiliated, and reduced to beggary and collecting empty cans.

Him and his ugly pudgy fingers. You should always distrust a man with a bloated face, a simple mind, and nasty little icky worm-like digits.

Especially if he is an unstable reptile.

I already listened to turd-faced self-impressed entitled white guys singing karaoke this week, I have paid my dues on the altar of vulgarity, I do NOT need to add horror to infamy by turning the Trump on.

The similarities between Trump and the Vashta Nerada are startling, despite their vast differences. No, I will not guide your understanding there, suffice to say they are the stuff of nightmares and madness.

When does that damned zombie series return?

I keep thinking about putrefaction.

Dead blond head rats.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016


Just as a matter of interest, it appears that there are two to possibly a dozen times or so more women cigar smokers than women pipe smokers. Which more or less matches the male spread, but is quite disappointing. One would have thought that it would be the other way around, as a pipe is delightfully feminine, and an aesthetically pleasing object of pleasure.

But no.

Women prefer cigars.

There are two women who post pictures regularly on one of the FB pipe forums. They always look content, and intelligent. That is not the case with all the men whose faces show up there, some of whom look like haggard and disappointed heavy metal freaks or nerdy basement dwellers (not their fault, they just are), and there is one chap whose selfies always look the same; front on, at arms length, slightly upward angle to the camera, while in the cab of a big rig, corncob pipe, and a rather interesting description of what he's doing right now (picking up a load, or dropping off a load), plus mention of the aromatic he's smoking and the passage of time through a part of the country that I will probably never visit.

I always enjoy reading the brief postings from our correspondent in Hong Kong. He lives well, enjoys good tobacco, and has a cheerful smile. Most of his shots feature backgrounds that are not a man cave or a basement.

I do not have a cellphone, and consequently never post selfies.

But if I did, they would show me somewhere in Chinatown. Badger on Hang Ah Alley, with Toishanese gents playing volleyball in the court behind me, or a mahjong parlour entryway. Badger on Trenton Alley with the Ping Yuen West housing project mural in the background. Badger on Becket; that colourful area behind me is the Mah Tsu temple, I am framed by fierce guardians. Badger on Fa Yuen Kok, with the 'no smoking' sign to my right which I am ignoring (it is in Chinese, and as a kwailo I have plausible deniability). Badger lighting up after leaving the Washington Bakery & Restaurant, where I just enjoyed a Hong Kong milk tea and a snack.
Or Wing Hing Bakery ("double A"), or New Hollywood.
Same circumstances.

[The Washington does a rendition of baked Portuguese chicken rice which I like, and their HK club sandwich is nice. Their tiramisu pastry (意大利蛋糕) is delightful. Wing Hing ("AA") has delicious flaky egg tarts and charsiu turnovers, plus good scallion poofs. Their coconut tart is too sticky by half (though scrummy) and you will need another beverage. New Hollywood has a lotus flaky bun, egg tarts, curry puffs, and hot dishes too, but they close at six thirty. The bus driver hangs out there and rants eloquently and very entertainingly (in Cantonese). All three places have excellent Hong Kong milk tea. If you wanted century egg in a pastry crust, you are on your own, as I haven't decided which place in Chinatown does that best.
Try Yummy Bakery down on Jackson.]

Unless it is raining cats and dogs, the final pipe lit up in Chinatown will probably end with Badger on the edges of Sue Bierman Park down by the Embarcadero, with screeching and swooping parrots. Which are hard to capture in a selfie, so what's the point.

Seldom, rarely, do I hang around Waverly. But when the rains come I shall probably have to do so, or on Clay, Washington, and Jackson near Grant. The reason being that there are awnings there. Badgers like awnings in rainy weather.

On a related note, someone I know spends a good part of the year bellyaching about the weather. "It's too hot!" "It's too cold!" It's raining!"

Always dress appropriately. Especially if you lack a sleek layer of insulating body fat, have old bones, or are going through menopause.

Or, if you have a car, smoke in it.

There are benches on Commercial Street where you can sit if those old bones and creaky joints refuse to carry you any further. They've been repainted, they are clean and bright yellow. It is festive.

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