Friday, March 31, 2017


Apparently many people twist their knickers over Caucasians eating stuff that isn't originally "white". The latest outrage being what some food video did to Shanghainese soup dumplings. Which was horrible, and they are justifiably infuriated. It's "cultural appropriation", "white-splaining food",
"racist culinary imperialism", and many more such concepts.
Whitey being patronizing and arrogant.
And ignorant.

Did I mention that they are furious?

Which I understand, but do not sympathize with.

I have seen what they eat.


Really, when anyone takes food ideas from another culture and does weird things with these that seem suitable to them at that time, it's on the whole a rather good thing. The Spam Musubi may not be your cup of tea, but don't bother telling that to a Hawaiian, and satay is not Pan-Asian, but strictly Indonesian in origin, as is the peanut sauce that accompanies it.
There are now Malaysian versions, Thai versions, and sundry others, but if you are a purist you need to abstain from those ghastly heresies quite as much as you avoid phở cooked by Tyler Akin or pad thai prepared by television chef Gordon Ramsey.

We gave you ice cream. You turned it into green tea gelato, and purple taro gloop. That's NOT what we intended at all when we borrowed it from the Italians who had stolen a brilliant idea from the Arabs!

Green tea gelato, good lord!

Say, how many Asian countries have breweries?

Please understand that we Dutch people invented shitty beer (Heineken), and that we are hideously offended by Singha, Bir Bintang, San Miguel, Asahi, Kirin, and Tsing Tao. Kindly stop drinking that!
As well as Budweiser, Coors, Michelob.


The Vietnamese baguette is a splendid invention, and I am extremely fond of Hong Kong style Baked Portuguese Chicken Rice at a chachanteng.
Still on the fence about the Spam Musubi, though.
It seems like it's missing something.

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Thursday, March 30, 2017


Last night, while listening to the tortuous moaning at a karaoke joint, my mind got abstracted. Earlier in the day I had dwelt upon 淮山 ('waai saan'; dioscorea polystachya, also known as Chinese Yam), in which 淮 is a regio-nymic, being an area in Central China as well as a river (淮河).

I remembered a well-known poem by Tu Mu (杜牧 'dou muk'), a famous Chinese literateur, which roughly runs thus: "smoke enfolds the frigid water moonlight enfolds the sands, night mooring at the Jin Huai near a wine shop, the bar girl does not know a forlorn country's sorrow, across the river she still sings "the back courtyard flower".

All the words till 亡 were clear in my head.

泊秦淮 by 杜牧


In Cantonese pronunciation: 'yin lung hon-suei yuet lung saa; ye bok cheun-waai gan jau-kaa; seung-nui pat chi mong gwok han; gaak kong yau cheung hau ting faa'.

Mid to late Tang Dynasty. Regulated verse, meaning five or seven syllables per line, end rhyme excepting the third line in each quatrain.

It's a lovely poem.

Near me, a big gay guy was working on his pony tail, several young people were drinking too much, and a paranoid woman was gibbering to herself.

The gender-fluid person, who is in the process of transitioning, seems to have become older and pudgier, maybe that's the hormones.

After finishing my drink I went to Bob's for a maple cake donut. Upon returning home I looked up the poem. Turns out that "wang" (亡) is among the simplest words to spell, being only three strokes in all (亠 plus 乚).
I should have remembered it, but it is seldom used nowadays.

亡國 ('mong gwok'): a vanquished nation.

The poor roam around Polk Street late at night, radiating desperation.
Millennials do not notice and continue their cheerful indulgence.


The final dot of the water radical (氵) carries through to the beginning stroke of white (白), or of the man (亻) within the sparrow (隹).
Jab down, then back diagonally upwards.
Lower left, upper right.

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It turns out that a number of places the Netherlands have been designated as polling places for Turkish Netherlanders who have still not given up their Turkish citizenship, and are expected to overwhelming support the effort of Recep Tayyip Erdogan to become dictator for life.
Fifth to ninth of April.

Den Haag, Deventer, and Amsterdam.

[These are not districts of Ankara.]

If they wish to vote in this referendum, why don't they go back?
Vote locally if they're that vested in the outcome.

[I hold the same opinion about Israelis voting in U.S. elections, btw. ]

But what about those Turks who are not yet Dutch citizens?
It is simple: they too can go back home to vote.

[İstanbul'a tren servisi, kolay ve uygun fiyatlı ulaşım yöntem.]


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Wednesday, March 29, 2017


That was a first. Someone in Chinatown called me "gramps". 爺爺 ('yeh yeh'). And I don't know whether to be horribly hurt, or feel flattered.
It's an affectionate, familiar, and somewhat respectful term.
For battered and antiquated old beans.

I. AM. NOT. THAT. OLD !!!!!

Well, okay, as a white person I show my age more accurately than most Chinese, but good lord it suggests that I am fossilized, rather than a still springy and vibrant studly man. Let me repeat: springy, vibrant, studly.

In the past my apartment mate would call me that, jokingly. The sound of it grates on the ear, exactly like the term 'Ah Sook' (阿叔), which applies to paternal uncles and, casually, older men. Also somewhat respectful, and acknowledging superior age. Rather than the springy vibrant studliness aforementioned. Which is extremely important.

I feel I must stress the youthful vigour and juicy manliness, because if you are Chinese and half my age (as the person who called me Yeh Yeh was), you might blithely assume that I am older than Jayzus and creak when getting up in the morning; all Caucasians look impossibly ancient.
Perhaps there is moss in my various cracks?
Or powdery dessicated wrinkles.
A withered twig.

I should also mention that I was quite the youngest person with a nice hot beverage there. And the only one with a spring in his step and a bound in his stride.

For crapsakes put on your glasses, little girl, you need them. What IS it with Chinese people and their horrible eye-sight?

Feel free to call me 'daai lou' (大佬) or 'lou paan' (老板).
That's totally cool.

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Sometimes dinner includes a whole range of sure-fire hits in the target zone. Stirfried noodles with bitter melon, chicken bits, and fermented blackbeans, with hotsauce and a cup of milk-tea. In the company of elderly women, moms with children after school, and middle-aged delinquents.

What with being white, I am anonymous and well-nigh invisible, so nobody at the other tables actually noticed me. That's a benefit of not dining with a Chinese person. A dubious blessing, perhaps.

涼瓜鷄炒麵 & 港式奶茶

It wasn't that I was planning to have chow mein, despite gibbering about the subject in a number of recent essays. It's just that despite my resolve to get out of the house early yesterday I didn't. Instead I found myself rushing out after tea-time for breakfast (first meal of the day), and consequently I was somewhat limited for options.

Bakeries, coffee shops, and dimsummeries tend to close at six. There are a few chachanteng that stay open. The one where I ended up has interesting foods and excellent milk tea, but they had run out of ho fan.
The waitress suggested a noodly substitute.
Hence wheat instead of rivers.

[麵 versus 河粉]

For some reason which I haven't figured out they appeal particularly to old fossils, single men, and rough around the edges Toishanese peasant types. And the occasional lost white person who cannot grasp the menu, which obviously does not include me. I'm not lost, and I can read the menu.
As well as the specials on the wall.

It takes only a little construing to recognize that when they write 菌 they don't mean microbes or bacteria but mushrooms, especially when these are stirfried with long yam (淮山).


Dioscorea polystachya, commonly conflated with dioscorea opposita or oppositifolia, is extremely popular in Chinatown, widely available most of the year, and almost never found in restaurants.
I should have ordered it, but I didn't look at the wall until after the waitress had written down the bitter melon.

淮山 ('waai saan') is the common name in Cantonese, but it is also called 山藥 ("mountain medicine"; 'saan yeuk' or 'saan yek').

There are a number of superior pairings: 蘭豆木耳炒淮山 (snap peas and wood ear stirfried dioscorea; 'laan dau muk yi chaau waai saan'), 菇菌炒雜菜 (mixed mushrooms chop suey; 'gu kwan chaau jaap choi'), 菠菜淮山炒牛肉 (spinach and dioscorea stirfried beef; 'bo choi waai saan chaau nagau yiuk'), 百合木耳炒淮山 (lily and wood ear stirfried dioscorea; 'baak hap muk yi chaau waai saan'), 淮山木耳炒西芹 (dioscorea and wood ear stirfried celery; 'waai saan muk yi chaau sai kan'), 青瓜淮山炒木耳 (sliced cucumber and dioscorea stirfried with wood ear; 'ching gwaa waai saan chaau muk yi'), 海參炒淮山 (sea cucumber stirfried with dioscorea; 'hoi sam chaau waai saan'), 鮮淮山蒸排骨 (fresh dioscorea steamed short ribs; 'sin waai saan jeng paai gwat'), 山藥香菇雞湯(dioscorea and mushrooms in chicken soup; 'saan yeuk heung gu gai tong'), 淮山南瓜 (pumpkin and dioscorea; 'waai saan naam gwaa'), 西芹淮山炒雲耳 (celery and cloud ears stirfried dioscorea; 'sai kan waai saan chaau wan yi'), etcetera.

Stirfrying it with wood ear fungus (木耳 'muk yi' or 雲耳 'wun yi') is usual, as well as with celery or zucchini. It is good with meats, provided no strong sauces are used to drown the subtle crispy flavour.
It can also be put in soups.

Simply stirfrying it with some sliced black mushroom and a very discreet addition of abalone sauce ( 鮑魚汁 'baau yiu jap') is excellent. Some shredded roast chicken can be added to good effect.
Or pair this with a simple meat dish.

Allegedly it can be eaten raw, but I have never done that; to me all yams must be cooked. Because of traces of oxalate in the skin it is best to peel and rinse with a weak vinegar solution before slicing them for the pan.

This was the first time I saw it on a wall.
I hope it's there the next time.
Perhaps very soon.

It was still light when I left. I lit up my pipe and wandered down to Sue Bierman Park, where the parrots had discovered the prunus blossoms, and engaged in a riotous orgy of flower-eating, to the delight of many passers-by. Snapchats and twitters will be filled with close-ups of the cheeky birds.
They were determined to feast, and suppressed their flight instinct.
Very attractive likable creatures.

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One of the more remarkable essays on this blog was written over two years ago. And this writer is surprised that it has not attracted more attention. Pleased, too, because to the average mind it strongly indicates that there are very many things wrong in the world, Alex Jones is probably right about everything, the press is lying to you, and all people with half a brain should be locked up for the good of the common man.
The quarter brained.

Actually, it's just long. Once you cruise in you will understand why.


Penguins are a fascinating subject, and I did not handle them well.

Penguins have shown up on this blog several times in the past, and each time I have avoided dealing with them squarely.

I am just uncomfortable with penguins.
It's those beady watchful eyes.
They know things.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2017


For several years I worked in a toy company, where I handled credit and collections. They never allowed me near the creative process, and for good reason. One of the first brilliant ideas I had was the "Little Miss Mayhem Junior Size Chainsaw". With a range of personalizational accessories!
Decals! Pink carrying cases! Tattoos! Studded pink belts!
It teaches her skills and assertiveness.
And it's cute!

Yeah, no. The head of the design department loved it, because at that point the phrase "it's all about the children" made him physically ill, and the whole idea of soft touchy-feelie non-competitive role-playing while feeding the gentle childish imagination was getting to him. Badly.
But it never went anywhere.
Rather a pity.

Another idea I had was not going to go anywhere either.
Action figures based on dietary preferences.

Vegan. Meat eater. Redneck. Food snob.
Mealie-mouthed gluten-phobe.

You get the idea. Colour-coded, too.

This morning, while fixing my second cup of coffee preparatory to ablutions and leaving for lunch in Chinatown, I had what must be the all-times greatest idea for a toy ever!


Prerecorded, but can also be manually operated. Preprogrammable, and personalizable. Lets you experiment in the privacy of your own home, but also innocuous outdoors. With realistic and variable loudness.
Surprise your friends, surprise your family.
It's educational.

Perfect for little boys, ages five to twenty.

With, of course, a screen that tells you what it is, and teaches you about the various conditions.

Texts like: "the gentle oozing whisper from 'Timmy's' fart box ... "

Or just succinctly "beans, two hour delay."
"Uncle Bob, upon rising."

While I think most parents would love it, because it would keep their little treasure occupied for hours AND teach him something useful, I despair over selling the idea to toy companies and the buyers for large chains looking for end-cap filler. Those folks have no imagination.

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Sofar this morning I have enjoyed my day off by visiting several news sites, twiddling my toes, answering a question underneath a recent blog post, and commenting on Facebook. The Dutch news sites today were particularly rewarding: a huge yellow dildo statue has been removed from a school playground, as it was deemed unsuitable for the kiddiewinkies, Turkish rioters are being asked to turn their scummy asses in, or otherwise the Rotterdam Police will post their faces on the internet, somebody is outraged that a Canadian rapper didn't show for a performance for which she paid three hundred Euro, and Dijselbloem may be forced to resign.

[Jeroen Dijselbloem famously pissed-off the snowflakes by saying "the north of the eurozone showed solidarity ... Solidarity is very important but those demanding it have duties too. 
I can't spend my money on booze and women then ask for help". 
Which offended the snowflakes, boo hoo.]

And Chinese folks in Paris are throwing Molotov cocktails because the Paris Police, well-know for sodomizing young black men with blunt objects down at the station, this time panicked and killed a fifty six year old father of five preparing a seafood dinner. The French don't believe anyone else can cook, so consider it both an honest mistake and justified because the victim was holding a sharp object. The Chinese community is upset at the police version of events. As is, quite rightly, the Chinese government.

The man was preparing a fish. That alone lends credence to the family's version of events, as far as I'm concerned, because normal people often use scissors when preparing seafood, and Chinese people are passionate about such things. Maybe not the French. And given that the police in France as elsewhere standardly lie about their interactions with the public, especially if the public is a member of a minority ("surely no one can really 'believe' this wogga-wogga shouting savage?!?"), the family is more trustworthy.

The French police claim they were responding to "a domestic disturbance".

Have you ever heard Cantonese peasants conversatiating?

Zest for life, at top volume.

Ab initio I distrust the French police -- almost all Eury police, in fact -- and I am far more sympathetic to Chinese people. In all honesty I am probably biased. The only French speakers I have ever met with whom interaction has been enjoyable were Belgians or North Africans.

Belgians, North Africans.

There were at least two policemen, with fire arms and bullet-proof vests.
There was one middle-aged dude with a pair of scissors, and a fish.
Who came to the door of his dwelling.

It will be interesting to see what further developments there are in this case.

Soy sauce and chenkiang vinegar are unknown in the French Kitchen.

Probably considered offensive, and dangerous too.

The French invented Mayonnaise.

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Monday, March 27, 2017


Sometimes Facebook is filled with scum-sucking sludge. In the last twenty four hours someone in Jerusalem called me a dipshit and a moron, and someone else wrote about me in that same comment string that I was "a nokhri who was well-known in the Jewish blogoshphere 10 years ago for knowing absolutely nothing yet was claiming he knew everything."

For your information, it was about gluten. My point of view was distinctly unpopular, and I never even got a chance to testify to all the wonderful things gluten had done for me hallelujah, or supportively state that as far as I was concerned, gluten-phobes and special dietary needs people should totally feel free to use whichever bathroom felt right for them.

"A nokhri who was well-known in the Jewish blogoshphere 10 years ago for knowing absolutely nothing yet was claiming he knew everything."

Well, I'd like to know everything. But I have never claimed that I do. So the most favourable interpretation is either that he has me confused with someone else, or he was drunk as an owl.

But it doesn't quite matter which; I am horribly offended.
I wonder which of his pets I've accidentally killed.
Or maybe it was his ovine concubine.

What disturbs me is how many high-strung belligerent neurotics there are in certain circles. Along with a tightly clenched anus, it passes for intellectualism, I suppose.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but that's mostly an East-Coast thing.

Alas, poor twisted-knicker people.

The impaired.

Update at 11:10 AM the next day: The person who called me a dipshit and a moron posted in that group "Guys did you know that it's possible to be sarcastic and funny and cynical without being an actual dick.
Is this idea totally foreign to you?

Apparently it is.

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Woke up out of a dream in which Tausug speakers and Basileños were having a furious argument. I never spoke much (any) Yakan or Samal, and whatever Tausug I once knew has gone by the wayside.
I was at a loss for words.

It was damp, and the heat was oppressive.
Probably just the down comforter.

According to the weathermen we were supposed to have a downpour. Serious rain. Not quite biblical proportions, but something significant.

That was it?!?

Barely even moistened the pavement.

Wahab Akbar was assassinated in 2007, in Quezon City.
I have no idea why that came to mind.
November 13.

In my second dream everybody was eaten frikadel except me, because the hot mustard was gone and I was being neurotic about the proper way to enjoy a deepfried stick of ground horsemeat, binders, texturizers, flavourings, unidentified bestial proteins, salt, and spices.

Sometimes I can be far too picky.
Everything smelled so good.
Hot fat. And nutmeg.
Shag tobacco.

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Sunday, March 26, 2017


According to a popular article being circulated by the usual idiots, there are EIGHT foods you should NEVER reheat. Because if you do, the Gates of Hell will open up, the Anti-Christ will rise, everyone will hate you, and your karma will be ever so effing bad. Plus it might kill you.

Per Woman's Day:


Sounds like a great recipe for a scramble to me. They're smoking crack over at Woman's Day. All or any one of those, or several in combination, are great re-fried with chilies and garlic.

Please note that Rhubarb Custard Crumble is NOT included. This omission proves nothing except that the uncritical editorial board of Woman's Day is culinarily impaired.

They're probably just as ignorant of Cullen Skink and Partan Bree too.
Or the Bombay Chapati Sandwich.

Cooked potato and mushrooms frazzled with chicken fat.
Reheated with shredded leftover chicken.
The veritable nectar of the gods.
Have it with rice.

I do not take stupid advice from Woman's Day.

Which, according to Wikipedia, is:

"Woman's Day is an American women's magazine that covers such topics as homemaking, food, nutrition, physical fitness, physical attractiveness, and fashion."

My physical attraction is fine, bitches, and I am a fashion plate extraordinaire.

Remember, for extra fun eating, crumble potato chips over it all.
Including your Cullen Skink, and Partan Bree.
And Bombay Chapati Sandwich.

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At the risk of offending a huge number of opinionated people, all of whom know far more about iconic food than I do and express that much better, it is time to put together a list of the things you really must consume in San Francisco, before we take all your money and leave you bruised and bleeding in a Tenderloin alleyway. Because you looked like such an easy mark, and we needed funds for drugs and healthcare.
Anyway, you didn't notice a thing.
You were smoking pot.


1. A burrito. Not one of those odd things from Chipotle, which may cause karma to hit you in the face, but an actual burrito made by someone who says "que". Filled, preferably, with meat. I suggest carnitas.

2. Crab. Stirfried with black bean and garlic, or ginger and scallion. Eat it with your hands. Do not say "ni hao" to the waitstaff unless you can continue the conversation in Mandarin.

3. Pho. Spelled with a squiggle over the "o" (phở), and pronounced "fuh". Southern style, with fresh basil leaves and beansprouts, often eaten for no logical reason with Sriracha sauce. Just ask for extra sliced green chili if you like it hot, and have a cold Vietnamese coffee afterwards.
See next entry.

4. Vietnamese coffee (cà phê sữa đá). Made with Louisiana ground coffee, which has chicory added, served in a drip glass over a glop of condensed milk. Stir it up after finishing your phở, and pour it over the ice cubes in the taller glass.

5. Crab. Again. This time plain cooked (or steamed), with iceberg salad, sourdough bread, and a bottle of wine. And feel free to say "ni hao" to the waiter. He's either Mexican or North African, and doesn't really care.

6. Dim sum. Go to Yank Sing, which many local Chinese sneer at because it's a little more expensive, but the quality is superb, stellar, extraordinary, and the selection is better than anywhere else.

7. Chow mein in Chinatown at a place that serves mostly Chinese people. Apparently all kinds of weird things are sold in the vast interior under the name 'chow mein', I've heard horror stories oh boy, so you probably can't get anything like the real stuff at home.

8. Oysters at Swan's on Polk Street ("Swan's Oyster Depot"), plus a salad with their house vinaigrette (made with crab fat!). Then a day or two later get their combination salad sandwiches, pick up a bottle of white at the Jug Shop (five blocks up Polk Street), and go have a picnic somewhere.
Top of Nob Hill in the park, for instance.

9. Cioppino. Do not bother with any of the places on the wharf, it's a crap-shoot down there. North Beach is a better option, but ask a local (in other words not a taxi driver).

10. Something seafood at the Tadich Grill. It's an institution.

11. Snacks and mai tais at the Tonga Room, which is the tiki bar to end all tiki bars. They have regular rain storms inside, by the way.

12. Anything at the Zuni Cafe.

13. A banquet at the R & J Lounge (嶺南小館 'ling naam siu kwun'). Either downstairs (casual) or upstairs (private dining rooms). Excellent food, stellar service, and a high tolerance for your weird antics. The last time I was there one of the members of the party kept swearing in Cantonese, and they took it all in stride. We stuffed ourselves.

14. A burger and fries at Sam's on Broadway. It's a hole-in-the-wall dive, right up the street from strip clubs and across from the Sam Wong Hotel (formerly the 'Hotel Colon'). Do NOT drink the house red.

15. A steak at Harris Steakhouse on Van Ness at Pacific. Dry-aged beef, done properly, and great service. Make a reservation beforehand, and have a cocktail to start (a Manhattan or a Martini). They'll remember how you like your cocktails the next time you come.

16. Visit Belden Alley and pick one of the restaurants at random. You'll have fun and great food, and later you can go around the corner to the Occidental Cigar Club for a smoke and another drink to finish.

17. Roast duck in Chinatown. I recommend either the Kam Po on Powell (港新寶燒腊小食 'gong san po siu laap siu sik'), or Gourmet Delight Barbecue on Stockton (新凱豐燒臘店 'san hoi fung siu laap dim').
Have it chopped into manageable pieces first.

18. Late night eats at Yuet Lee (悅利海鮮飯店 'yuet lei hoi sin fan dim') corner of Stockton and Broadway or the Sun Hong Kong (新香港酒家 'san heung kong jau kaa') on Broadway at Columbus. You've had a lot to drink, last call was a while ago, and boy jayzis are you hungry.
We all are. These are the places.

19. Maple glazed donut (a 'bar', also known as a 'long john' in some parts of the country) filled with oozy custard at Bob's Donuts on Polk Street at two o'clock in the morning after singing your tiny little heart out at the karaoke bar around the corner on California. Either that or a fresh apple fritter straight out of the deepfryer at around three A.M..
It's good for the throat.
Trust me.

20. Stirfried Chinese broccoli (芥蘭 'gaai laan') OR mustard stalk (油菜 'yau choi') with oyster sauce (蠔油,蚵油 'ho yau'). Or water spinach (通菜 'tung choi'). Yes, in Chinatown. Just do it, okay?
蠔油芥蘭,蠔油油菜,蠔油通菜 (呢個,或者嗰個,或者嗰個其他嘅嘢)。

Or you could spend an arm and a leg at any one of our critically acclaimed restaurants, along with all the other folks who read guidebooks and the latest must-eat lists.

Don't forget to have some Fernet Branca.

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Saturday, March 25, 2017


A few years ago when my companion and I broke up, I started hanging out a lot in Chinatown, because I am an anti-social sort of person, and random strangers who object to my smoking or wish to strike up a conversation about sports or space aliens irritate me. Cantonese people will not scream at smokers, and seldom if ever discuss the Niners.
Plus, being rather extraordinarily white, I am anonymous.
Unless you know me, you will think me unable to understand a word.
We Caucasians all look alike.


For several years I had not spent much time there, because my girlfriend was Chinese, and Chinese girls seeing white men excite eye-brows.
And mouths.

"Hah, must be Japanese, she's dating a kwailo!"

All such remarks in the home town dialect.
Fairly understandable to both of us.
"Keep a straight face, dear."
"Don't flame anyone."

Since the split, my ability to speak Cantonese has improved, and I am older now, so I merit a little more consideration. I am still white.

But Chinatown is no longer the same.

It isn't inhabited by people looking upwards anymore. There are too many empty commercial spaces, and many of the people who remain are not as convinced that they will succeed in America. There is, sometimes, a sense of being left behind. Plus one hears Mandarin more often, from outsiders slumming or looking for "colour". They've made it, their immediate families benefited enormously from corrupt business in the old country or American Educational opportunities, their parents and relatives own real-estate out in the Richmond or Sunset.

A rather large number of the businesses that catered to tourists have failed, because one cannot rely entirely on Midwesterners and Europeans (中西和歐洲人) for one's livelihood; it yields a scrawny rice bowl.

Evenso, Chinatown has stayed a good place to lurk.
I can still enjoy my pipe there, and listen in.
Old folks and children don't mind.

Sometimes I wish that there were still as many bakeries, coffee shops, and chachanteng as before. Or that place on Jackson, where they had frogs.

I like frogs; they're cute food.

Yeah, that last line was there primarily to startle. I've eaten eel far more often than frog, and honestly, they aren't much better than chicken.

For an oversight of the neighborhood, click here: 唐人街 Chinatown. It will bring up a rather large number of essays on this blog, most recent first. You will note that my attitudes have changed (as have I), and the place is also different.

But you can still get frogs.

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Friday, March 24, 2017


There appears to be a misapprehension about chow mein in the United States. Many people seem to believe that it is composed of deep-fried noodles with a glop of saucy muck on top. This is a travesty.
Chow mein should be wheat noodles barely boiled, added to a roomy fry pan after sliced scallion and ginger have been gilded and another ingredient has been added. High heat, frazzle, splash of liquid, with or without stock and sauce-type additions. Served glistening, NOT crisp.

A minor inclusion of vegetables -- tiny bokchoy, gailan, celery, or even carrots if you are peculiar -- is also acceptable. Even welcome.

Think of it as a noodle dish that is lightly dressed.
Not bollixed up to a fare-thee-well.
Nor browned.


If you cannot even smell the scallion and ginger, that isn't chow mein. It is something, I shan't try to guess what, but it may not be quite edible.

If you are a New Yorker, from New England or the Midwest, or Indian (subcontinental), you probably do not know this.

The "other ingredient" mentioned above is usually pork, sometimes beef (mostly in America), rarely shrimp. Small pieces, so that they cook fast.
A total exception being made, of course, for a pork chop. Liquid additions to reduce and slightly glaze the amalgam being water, stock, sherry or rice wine, and soy sauce in a minute quantity. Yes, I know that everybody outside of Chinatown wants to add enough soy sauce to float a battleship, but mahogany-hued noodles are not chow mein. That's crap that you serve in a school cafeteria or at a church supper in Minnefriggingsota.

Chili paste can also be added during the cooking process, but is better thought of afterwards, when the waitress brings a steaming plate of goodness to your table, and you ask for the bottle of Sriracha.

Serve me something else and I may scream.

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Thursday, March 23, 2017


Just had a long discussion on the internet about the term "gender fluidity". Which, given that I am "gender settled" or whatever it's presently called, is a term I had heretofore never heard. Gender is like glass; technically it's a liquid. Or something. And there are several terms I must not ever use.

Including the useful phrase "fo shizzle"
Because I am not Snoop Dog.
Not even close.

In that I am white, middle aged, darn foxy looking, don't wear shades, and have a small neatly trimmed beard, I must grudgingly concede the point.
But in many other respects I am very much like him.

And "fo shizzle" is off colour only if you think it is. Other than that, it's perfectly clean. You could even say it in church.

Fo shizzle.

Now, having been distracted by the long conversation about pourable sex identities, which also included mention of breast enlargements, it is far too late to go find a plate of something for which I have a real taivah.
Which was already throbbing when I got home.
It's gotten worse in the interval.
Chow mein.

Almost everywhere in Chinatown is closed already.

The only Chinese places still open at this hour serve chow for white folks and drunkards. And who the heck wants to eat that?!?

Fo shizzle.

Yeah, I could make it myself.
But someone else is using the kitchen right now.
She's cooking up bulbes and stuff for her boyfriend Wheelie Boy, and apparently my presence would cramp her style or put a curse on the fellow's delicate digestive system, or something.
My shadow over his food is bad juju.
I cannot go in there.
Fo shizzle.

Nothing for it but to eat some low fat Greek yoghurt.
I'll cook up a plate of chowmein later.
Probably after midnight.

Maybe a slice of pizza somewhere?

Probably can't use the term "white folks chow mein" either. It's undoubtedly racist, whitesplanatory, cultural appropriationist, narrow-minded, hurtfull, and triggering. Fo 你嘅 shizzle.

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The little girl held the hand of her grandpa, and together they walked at a slow pace down the street. He seemed like a contented old fellow, and she looked ever so cute in her pretty frock. Little girls, when they are not doing what they have been taught is cute and lovable by their relatives, can be extraordinarily cute. Or at least neat and totally cool.
There should be more of those.

Not wanting to pass them on the narrow sidewalk I slowed my own pace, arriving at the restaurant a little later than I intended. I had been quite depressed earlier, but the old man and his granddaughter, followed by a serving of scrumptious roast duck, did much to cheer me up. Though it took a while for the upping of the blood sugar level to take effect.

Little girls often make grouchy old badgers smile, but almost nothing in the world beats siu mei meat.

Mmmm, roast duck!

Juicy, fragrant, tender, rich ..... Plus tea, lo fo tong, and rice. The place has windows, one can observe passersby, and if one picks one's table wisely there is a view of other diners, happily chowing down on roast meat. Or Singapore Noodles, such as the middle-aged Filipina, wonton and charsiu in soup for the man one table over, and so much food that they needed boxes and two bags in the case of the mother and her adult daughter.
I did not scope out what the black tourists were having.
They seemed happy, and dawdled after.
A dignified elderly couple.
With a map.


The chopping block chef behind the counter asked a young mother what else she wanted, addressing her as 'leng nui' (靚女). Her little daughters looked at the hanging slab of siu yiuk with bright enthusiastic eyes, and both their mother and the cook clearly noticed their interest. Five dollars worth of siu yiuk please, in addition to the white poached chicken.
Personally, I would have suggested roast duck.
But the Chinese are pork fiends.
It's an obsession.

Siu mei means happiness.

I felt much better after eating.

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017


Usually I am good at staving off dark moods. I have always believed that no matter what, one soldiers on. Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead, maintiendrai, and all that. Stiff upper lip.

But, to put it mildly, sometimes it's a little depressing to realize that one does not mean much, and no one actually cares.

There is no one from my childhood and youth with whom I am in communication, nor from several of the places where I was employed.
Facebook keeps me in contact with folks from the toy company where we all worked once, as well as individuals who are on the same page.
There are exceptionally few people to whom I am close.

My ex-girlfriend seems more successful at being a social creature, despite crippling shyness and Aspergers. She has a boyfriend, there are relatives that she hears from often, and I am fairly certain there are friends about whom she cares deeply. One of which, I think, is me. I'm not sure.

But as a middle-aged white male I am not exceptional, and there are so many of us that we are pretty much expendable. If one of us disappears, another one can easily take his place.

Sometimes I think that my stuffed animals don't like me.
That the only meaning I have for them is my wallet.
A guy who must be blackmailed for cookies.


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Our fearless leader the soft orange potato is not the only "politician" who makes himself ridiculous by twittering. In Holland, Socialist member of parliament and apologist for homicidal regimes everywhere Harry van Bommel also does so.

Recently he tweeted something stupendously inane, typical of privileged middle-class bourgeois pretendeurs and parasites, and almost Marin County esque in its utter lack of insight or depth.

Harry van Bommel:
"Vandaag ben ik 10 minuten opgesloten in een caravan om te beleven wat slachtoffers van mensenhandel voelen."

Translation: 'Today I spent ten minutes locked in a camper (in order) to experience what victims of human trafficking must feel.'

[SOURCE: Bommelsche Oeterij - De Telegraaf.]

The response to that was ... predictable.

Lammert De Bruin:
"Vandaag heb ik 10 minuten niet gegeten om te voelen wat slachtoffers van hongersnood voelen."

Translation: 'Today I did not eat for ten minutes to experience what victims of starvation feel.'

Cas Mudde:
"Vandaag heb ik 10 minuten naar Metallica geluisterd om te beleven wat gevangen op Guantanamo voelen."

Translation: 'Today I listened to Metallica for ten minutes to experience what prisoners in Guantanamo feel.'

Metallica? Dang you know how to suffer!
Van Bommel must be envious!

There were others.

Niels Kalkman:
"Vandaag ben ik tien minuten naar het strand gegaan om te beleven wat bootvluchteling voelen."

Translation: 'Today I went to the beach for ten minutes to experience what boat refugees feel.'

Saفa R. de Vries:
"Vandaag heb ik tien minuten op een bankje in een parkje (in het zonnetje) gezeten om te beleven hoe het is om dakloos te zijn."

Translation: 'Today I sat on a bench in the park (in the sun) to experience what it's like to be homeless.'


The winner is Tips, who wrote:
"Vandaag heb ik tien minuten met m'n hoofd tegen een muur staan bonken om te beleven hoe Harry van Bommel zich nu voelt."

Translation: 'Today I spent ten minutes banging my head against a wall to experience how Harry van Bommel feels right now.'

If Dutch parliamentarian and baby-faced radical patsy Harry van Bommel really wants to experience what it's like to be a victim of human trafficking, he should try tromping through the Sonoran desert for several days, evading the Border Patrol and psychotic rightwing militia racists.
Followed by being brutalized in a safe house.
Then buried in a landfill.

Harry van Bommel truly is the paradigm of shmuck.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017


A few years ago I remarked on pipe smokers and their suitability as help-meets or love interests that they seldom had tattoos. It was in a list of ten comparison points, the inevitable sum of which was that as a group AND as individuals we were more desirable than cigar smokers, Christians, Republicans, and rednecks.

I may have been overly optimistic. It turned out that several pipe smokers actually were Republicans or rednecks, quite a few also favoured cigars, and a huge number had tattoos. Harley Davidson tats, shipwrecked sailors, heavy metal logos, goth-o-keltoid dragons, and similar exemplifications of crappy taste, unsound judgment, and enduring juvenile delinquency.

And there is also a "Christian Pipe Smokers Group".

Let's look at that list again, shall we?

1. Cigar-smokers tend to look like Winston Churchill, drunk, whereas pipe-smokers resemble Rhett Butler, sober.
2. A man with a pipe radiates creativity and gravitas; cigars advertise deep-seated Oedipal issues.
3. Pipe-smokers have a youthful vigour at any age; some of them still dance the foxtrot.
4. Cigarette smokers are known to steal from their mom's purse when desperate.
5. Pipe-smokers rarely have tattoos and never get out of bounds, ever.
6. Pipe-smokers overwhelmingly vote for the right candidate.
7. When you light up a cigarette, an angel weeps.
8. Cigar-smokers rip the wings off kittens.
9. Pipe-smokers are good listeners.
10. Pipe smokers love to provide fresh lobsters, oysters, melted butter, and champagne to sweet young ladies with smiling faces, intelligent eyes, and quirky intellects. Or bacon.

[Originally HERE.]

Sadly, reality has hit me in the face. Several pipe-smokers look like crap in a bucket or dustbunny zombies. Some look like ponces. Pierced ponces. What many of them radiate is neuroses and overwhelming noodginess.
As far as youthful vigour is concerned I may have overestimated my own balls, I definitely exaggerated the energy of my peers. And everything, EVERYTHING!, in point number ten leads to gout or dyspepsia.

My main flaw was, of course, not taking the appeal of pipe smoking to antisocial eccentrics into account; I judged by my own self, in various iterations between acquiring my first briar as a timorous youth till my current debonair and sometimes grumpy maturity.
I do not have tattoos, or a middle-aged spread. Not a fan of Harley Davidson bikes. I am not a Christian, Republican, or Redneck.

But many of today's pipe smokers are different. Not only are sickening aromatic mixtures the largest selling category of pipe tobacco, but piercings and tattoos are quite probably as common among modern pipe men as bucket-guts and repulsive chin-shrubbery.

Smokers of Latakia mixtures or nice Virginia and Perique concoctions, such as myself, tend to be trim and restrained individuals, and rather civilized. We are equitable, balanced, and commendably sensible.
Aromatic fans have personalities as over-the-top as their nauseating blends, or choice of coffee-bar drinks. Hazelnut Mango Vanilla sherbet ventis, with low-fat whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles.

Young lady, please be advised that Republicans and Christians are entirely unsuitable, whether they are cigar smokers (as many of them are), or pipe smokers. Most cigar smokers are considerably fatter and nastier than most pipe smokers, and vulgarians to boot, but in this day and age there are many pipe smokers who are actually cigar smokers in drag.
You do not ever want to date any of those people.
If not 鹹濕 then probably 麻甩叔.


On the other hand, a mature Dutch American without a paunch, who has a snarky sense of humour, is quite the catch. That he smokes clean tobacco in his pipe is icing on the cake. It shows good taste and a sound mind.

Not all of are like that


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Almost any Mandarin, Cantonese, or Japanese movie which seeks to capture the tone of the pre-war years in China will at some point feature the song 'When Wilt Thou Return' (何日君再來 "hé rì jūn zài lái") which has been sung by many stars since the mid-thirties, when the tune was composed by 劉雪庵 ("Liú Xuě-ān") during a party for students at the Shanghai Conservatory. The lyrics were subsequently written by 黄嘉謨 ("Huáng Jiā-mó").

The three most well-known renditions were by Chou Hsuen (周璇 "Zhōu xuán"), Lei Heung-lan (李香蘭 "Li Xiāng-lán", aka Ri Koran, Yoshiko Yamaguchi, Shirley Yamaguchi, 山口淑子), and Teresa Teng (鄧麗君 "Dèng Lì-jūn").
The first named actress was famous for her winsome performance in several films, but more for her lovely evocation of womanhood in song. The second was stellar, but connections with the Japanese war-machine shadowed her reputation, and her pre-war achievements are now largely ignored. And the third was beloved in Japan as well as by Island and Mainland audiences, though the song itself was at various times banned for its perceived propaganda content.

[Please note: phonetic transcriptions in this essay will largely reflect the Mandarin standard, as the subject matter is associated with the north. Cantonese sounds in the title of the post are a personal failing, rendering Li Koran as Lei Heung-lan similarly is a fond deviance.
And "Chou Hsuen" is a standard though incorrect spelling.]

There is no need to actually embed the videos -- and copyright stalinists would have those accounts taken down at some point anyhow -- but for all three of them copy-paste 何日君再來 followed by the name of the singer.

The song is nowadays played slower and more weepy than was originally intended. For a Western Audience the most well-known renditions are in the 1995 film by Zhang Yimou (張藝謀), Shanghai Triad (搖啊搖,搖到外婆橋).

It was originally featured in the movie 'Three Stars by the Moon' (三星伴月 "Sān xīng bàn yuè") in 1937, sung by miss Chou. The Manchurian Japanese Lei Heung-lan subsequently covered it, most notably in the 1952 film 'Shanghai Night' (上海の夜 "Shanhai no yoru") reprising her own past.

Teresa Teng's sweet-sounding version was banned on the mainland for a number of years, considered nought more than foul propaganda. The regime across the straights also excoriated it for the same reason.

Along with a few other songs (好花不常開,夜上海,et carmina simili), it is de rigueur in any cinematographic treatment of nineteen thirties and forties Shanghai. Along with, of course random stock footage of a chorus line (fluffy feathers and shapely dancing gams!) in a nightclub scene. Its inclusion will awaken an almost instinctive response in the experienced film fan.

We cannot help the instinctive response; conditioning.
The rest of you may be rather baffled by this.

We've seen too many black and whites.
The music fills in the colours.

Sorry if we go all weird.
It will soon pass.

This article brought to you courtesy of the remembrance of a big honking show-off ivory cigarette holder flaunted by a crime boss in a Hong Kong gangster movie set in 1930's Shanghai. He was a right bastard, very well played by an actor specializing in such roles whose name I cannot recall.

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A song for the new age! A song of courage and resolve! A song to make great again our United States as we march resolutely into our glorious future comrades! Backs straight, arms firm, eyes wide!

Марш советских танкистов


Our voices raised in righteous hymn!

Here's an inspiring excerpt from a speech by our beloved leader about renewed tractor production in the great state of Kentucky:

Однако яркалось, и смятные лаки, Кругались, разлавкие, в лазной овоче; Стынались тополстые полнокатаки, И были есатые лямы ихочи.

"О бойся Борчардеса, сын, его зубы, Отточены остро и когти сверкают! Ужасно внимание птицы Жубжубы, И страшен бурлиственный Ларбокадаяц."

Берет поротрубенный меч и выходит, Он долго искал мердолагостной битвы; Hе может найти, и у дерева, вроде, Бамбам, он стоит в тишине и молитве.

И лагостной думой и кления полный, Он видит, как Борчердс, сдиревый и млявый; Шестит, громко брулькает, очи как зерна, Огня, раз и два - раз и ясь сквозь дубраву.

И сквозь, раз и два, раз и два, сквозь и через, Как меч поротрубенный краско метает! И мертвого здорона труп спрятав в вереск, Он с черепом мрачным домой пормошает.

"Приди ко мне, ангел, победою славен! Смятение радости, плявная прелесть! Прелественный день! Пре! Эвое! ИАО!" Он хрюкал с достоинством, радостью пенясь.

Яркалось превленье и смятные лаки, И кугом, разлавкие, в лазной асери; Тополстые ляпкие полнокатаки, И лямы есатые, репкие в мере.

[БОРЧАРДЕС (пер. М. Вербицкого)]

Work hard! Make greater and greater progress!
Surpass yourself, and become heroic!
Onward, upward, sideways!


The March of the Soviet Tank Men is one of my favourite Stalinist hymns, and is excellent listening, especially if you don't understand any part of it. The poem Jabberwocky has been translated into a multitude of languages, and is iridescent in all of them.

The crypto-Bolshy subtext is a comment on America's current state, now that the know-nothings are in power. I did not vote for any of these people, so I get to be a sneering prick for four years.

And Kentucky is a silly place.

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Monday, March 20, 2017


When I came home my apartment mate was on the phone with her boyfriend. They were talking about the hardness of pillows, and she was giving him firm advice. Sometimes he's dense, and totally blinkered in his single-focus. It goes along with Asperger Syndrome.
He has Aspergers. She also has Aspergers.
And, to a far lesser extent, me too.
But otherwise I am normal.

"The pet rabbit is on fire! Don't go checking on the dog and the parrot to see if they're on fire too, they probably started it in the first place, go put the blasted rabbit out!"

You know, I'm buggered if I can figure out what that analogy means. Is the rabbit a pillow? Or is she accusing pets of being little murderous pests?

She also brought up Agamemnon and and his brother Menelaus. How that ties into the hardness of pillows is a complete riddle to me. Conundrumic.

Maybe most women talk this way, and I've forgotten that. Maybe I need to start paying more attention to that gender, and the answers to many of life's great riddles will become apparent. Maybe I need to find a female person half my age who majored in geology or physics to interpret.
Or at least be a fair witness.

Maybe I've got a dirty mind and am only capable of understanding stuff that clearly refers to nudity and congress, and am utterly incapable of grasping normal English. In all honesty, that wouldn't be surprising.

Some functionality may not be available.

But otherwise I am normal.

There's a rabbit?

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Sometimes one wonders why other people seem pained. Or why they giggle. Such as early in the morning on a day when the water is scheduled to be turned off at eight o'clock so that a new heater can be installed. We've had only cold water since Friday evening or late Thursday.

Such things lead to mental clarity. Try showering with arctic conditions. Start awake in a panic. Think of some place tropical.

Frangipani. Why did the word 'frangipani' come to mind?

I have no idea what it is. But it sounds warm and inviting, tropical, sultry, fragrant. Plumeric. Unlike Zurich.

The words to Dragostea Din Tei are floating through my head.

The entire first minute of that song.

With gesticulations.


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Sunday, March 19, 2017


A long talk about barbers, during which my interlocutor stated that a hot shave, done well at an old-fashioned mens' hair establishment, was sheer heaven. Which I would not know, because I have never shelled out money for someone to come at my neck with a blade, what with being just a wee bit paranoid. And in any case, that seems like spa-pampering of the nails and foot rub variety; real manly men scrope their own damned neck.

This in connection with two things, the first being that the hot water in my building is out till Tuesday morning, and shaving and showering with icy water wakes one up better than any amount of coffee -- it is kind of like starting bolt upright and screaming from a coma -- and the second being the pipe tobacco I was smoking, which reminded him of the lotions and unguents at a traditional barber shop.

The tobacco was not dry. It can never be dry. Ever. It is so humectant and fragrant-oil rich that it is damned well embalmed. The mummy of tobaccos, sadly undead, to be dug up a thousand years from now by lizard-aliens in a perfectly "fresh" state, whereupon they will exclaim: "I don't know what they did with this, it ain't edible, but they were a bunch of right rotten bastards and the galaxy is better off without them".

Black Cavendish, Burley, Virginia. An aromatic.
Caramel, honey, and vanilla.

This stuff is made by Sutliff. And they should be ashamed of themselves for doing so. The last time I tried it was shortly after it first came out, when an elderly acquaintance opined that it was the best thing since sliced bread.
I puffed it for a few moments, then threw out the soggy mess in my pipe, and did not smoke again for the rest of the day.
It is pipe tobacco.

It is pipe tobacco in the same way that Mixture 79 is pipe tobacco, and made by the same disreputable company, which had its start right here in San Francisco. Shortly after the Gold Rush a bright young lad opened a tobacco and cigar business downtown, a generation or two later his heirs invented Mixture 79, and in 1933 started producing it on a commercial scale. In the very early fifties the San Francisco store was taken over by a long-time employee, Ed Grant, and renamed, the manufacturing side split-off and moved across the country.
Through acquisitions and mergers involving Consolidated Cigar, Heines, Altadis, Imperial, and a host of other names and marques, Sutliff finally became part of Scandinavian Tobacco.
The location on Market Street ("Grant's Pipe Shop") was sold to Ted and Joe in 2005 who ran it into the ground in 2012.

As I said, it is pipe tobacco.

Having used the open sample tin so many times to illustrate precisely what pipe tobacco should not ever be, and having had so much fun yesterday tormenting Hector by smoking an aromatic near him (ever see somebody go green?), I decided I needed to give this product a better chance, a fair shot, see if I had misjudged it, and whether it was in fact tolerable.

The sample tin has been open for three years. Someone must be smoking it, there's less than half left. Also, it should be bone dry.

It is still moist and greasy.

Spongy, oily, somewhat slimy to the touch. Packs okay. Lights okay. Tastes fairly vile at first draw. It is far too sweet. After a few minutes my temples are throbbing. Part way through the bowl I am staring fixedly at a tin of Dunhill's Aperitif Mixture, and trying to focus. Why did I do this? Is there any point to this sickening mess? It has absolutely no trace of tobacco flavour, and though they claim that it is dressed with vanilla, honey, and caramel, what I taste is a slight hint of mint and lavender, a strong dash of coconut, something akin to chocolate, and scads of propylene glycol.
If this were an aftershave lotion, strangers would lynch me.
Did they add menthol?

It does not get any better further in.

It smokes hot, wet, and nasty. It is impossible to finish the bowl all the way down. That pipe will have to rest for a week, and I may need to clean it with alcohol. Molto Dolce left my tongue feeling brutalized. I swished tea around my mouth several times, then rinsed with vodka and spat.
Swished tea again. Repeatedly.

Molto Dolce is the kind of tobacco you gift someone you hate.
It is worse, far worse, than Milango by Dan.
Which is also effing nasty.

I have a one pound container of Mixture 79 somewhere that was opened by its previous owner in the late nineties. It still has not dried out, and still feels as springy as the day it was extruded. More proof for the lizard aliens that we seriously deserve to be nuked. I tried smoking it once. My bad.
It likewise was a ghastly experience, not to be repeated.
Scientific curiosity be damned, don't experiment.
Frank Sinatra liked Mixture 79.
The swine.

Once Hector smelled the aroma coming from my direction he told me I would go to hell, I was a rotten degenerate, he really couldn't understand why I did it unless I secretly loved this nasty crap, which he insisted that obviously I must, and perhaps it was best for everybody if I died alone, a rancid old bachelor and as loopy as Michael or John Lee.
No wonder those two keep coming back.
I attract them, like roadkill.

The buzzards are swooping low over the nearby tidal flats, where some animal died recently and is getting really ripe. If you smell death near the gas station at the freeway entrance, that's what it is.
This is the stench of your nightmares.
Wake up screaming.

Then he walked away and lit up a Padron.
For the next two hours he avoided me.

Molto Dolce is the perfect pipe tobacco for young men who come out of the basement once in a while.


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