Friday, November 30, 2018


Over the years one starts writing posts, or finds something interesting which really deserves comment, and then, halfway through the mental digestive process, sets it aside.

Herewith excerpts from drafts. In essence, these are unfinished conversations.

1. Kajun Kake   2. Bengal Slices  3. Three Nuns  4. Blood Red Moon
[An essay about popular pipe tobaccos]
The first is a zesty pressed Perique product, the second is Russ Oullette's interesting repro of a classic, the third is a Danish attempt at an English favourite, and the forth is a reprehensible aromatic.

[Chinese mushrooms]
Found dried coprinus comatus fungi (雞腿菇 'gai teui gu'; "chicken thigh mushroom") at bug grass city (蟲草城 'chung chou seng'). Keen to try them. They also have hericeum erinaceus (猴頭菇 'hau tou gu'; "monkey head mushroom"), which are good to eat.

[Wonderful eating]
The Lin Heung Tea House (蓮香樓 "Fragrant Lotus Pavilion") is located in the Tsang Chiu Ho Building (曾昭灝大廈), 160-164 Wellington Street at the corner of Aberdeen in Central. People fight for seats in the morning.
Which is very much worth doing if you go to Hong Kong.
Hand to hand combat, then breakfast.

Here are some things they do exceptionally well:

雞球大包 Steamed Chicken Bun
蓮蓉包 Lotus Seed Paste Bun
腐皮卷 Steamed Chicken Wrapped with Bean Curd
牛肚燒賣 Siumai Made with Beef Liver
豬膶燒賣 Steamed Pork Meatball
馬拉糕 Steamed Chinese Sponge Cake
奶皇包 Steamed Custard Buns
鵪鶉蛋燒賣 Quail Egg Siumai
千層糕 Layer Cake

For dinner:
京都焗肉排 Grilled Pork Ribs
八寶鴨 Steamed eight treasure Duck
冬瓜盅 Winter Melon Soup


Troost, Flying Dutchman, Captain Black, and several Danish products.
[Peculiar pipe tobaccos that smell like cheap candy]

Arno said…
"The rotten thing about letting young attractive girls smell nice aromatic tobacco is that they then almost all the time go like: Oh! That smells nice! Reminds me of my grandfather!"

Do NOT let them smell ‘nice aromatic tobacco’. Try good natural tobacco instead, and just pray that it reminds them of their favourite professor in college, or some nice fellow student with an admirable sense of style.
Attractive aromatic girls are probably the best of both worlds.

A correspondent in Boston opined: "Real men do not gad about naked whilst smoking Clan and admiring themselves in the mirror. Real men shovel snow several feet deep. Real men hack away at ice dams and icicles bigger than they are. Real mean carry several cords of firewood in howling blizzards and subzero temperatures. Real men do not live in whingeing, self-absorbed, double soy milk latte sipping, tofu braising, earth mother channeling San Francisco."

Well now! Soy milk does not agree with my stomach. And Starbucks lattes are more than average nasty, Braised tofu stuffed with fatty minced pork, garlic ginger fish paste, drenched with sambal, qualifies as the breakfast of champions. Firewood? We have "central heating" here, this isn't England.
Snow is for wimps.

Nowadays I do not admire myself naked in the mirror. It's no fun when you're the only one doing that.

And there you have it. Tobacco. Food. Casual and depressing nudity.
Plus the weather. That's mostly what I talk about.

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After dumplings, chips, and chocolate, it should not be surprising that dreams are vivid; Holland in the snow, and fried dough puffs (oliebollen) dusted with powdered sugar eaten from a streetside vendor in early evening after dark fall. Which is heavenly. An intense memory-shimmer, based on an unwell mind or shifty digestion. Then I woke up sneezing.

A friend recently mentioned that he dreams of Kaitak Airport in Hong Kong. His first landing there was when he was still a teenager, and it was during a typhoon. He particularly remembers the wind slamming at the plane, and severe jolting.

It was, he says, a nauseating experience.

This photo, from the South China Morning Post, shows why that must have been so memorable.

香港啟德機場 [Source: SCMP.]

Straight out into the harbour, after banking sharply right. Then braking furiously. As you see in the photograph, housing right next to, and in the approach; Kwun Tong (觀塘) and the typhoon shelter (觀塘避風塘) to the immediate right, Hung Hom(紅磡) and Kowloon (九龍) to the left. Kwun Tong was originally named differently but with the same sounds (官塘), after the Koon Fu Salt Yards (官富鹽場). The entire coastline on the left at one point had salt ponds (鹽田), which meant revenue, and smuggling.
Very shallow; probably a good place to crash an aircraft.

Other than the nausea of those first few moments, he remembers Hong Kong fondly. Particularly the snacks and the weather.
When it rains there, it is warm, not like here.

I likewise remember warm rain. Mid summer thunder storms in Holland, Monsoonal showers in insular South East Asia. Today's rain was not bad, but it is not the warm season, and at the moment it feels cold.
I shall not head out for a late night pipe.

Besides, the only thing edible out there at this time is a donut. And the nearby donut shop is NOT as good as when Mrs. An was still alive.

[Copyright: REUTERS/Maartje Blijdentein]

Donuts taste much better under some circumstances than others.

[Oliebollen - ANP archief]

It's a question of environment.

Instead, cardamom coffee à la Turc, some whiskey, and a small cigar.

There's a can of clams in the kitchen.
Plus oil and a fry pan.

Maybe not.

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Thursday, November 29, 2018


A friend who is involved in books is moving. He plans to have bookcases made for his digs. Which is an excellent idea. I have a suggestion.

The cats are extra. But they are self-duplicating, and if there are two (easy enough to attain), more will follow.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2018


A late night in the North East quadrant of the city, with song and drama, as per long standing weekly custom. The neighborhood has "grown". Pot smoking dude at the bar had a fight with a large black woman over Remy, then sang a karaoke tune from Hong Kong very badly. Michael, Fei Chai (fatty) and the titty groper came in eventually, followed by three blondes.
I don't think Jenny 姑媽 enjoyed the clientele. Too many slags.
Not enough singing in Mandarin.
I do not sing.

The titty groper would make a great drag performer, all basso profundo on female torch singer songs. Karaoke can be good (Chinese nightclub stars, elderly drag queens doing show tunes) or horrendously awful (white techno-yups singing Abba or The Eagles). So it's educational. Sometimes painfully so. Last night we got Ni Zenma Shuo (你怎麼說) and Yue'r hsiang ning mung (月兒像檸檬), both of which are discordant when men sing.
The English was pablum crap by blonde slags.

When I came back to my street, it was to hear a gruff voice call someone a "f*cking Jew, a f&cking faggot, a f%cking n*gg&ah, a f$cking whore". Ya know, some of those things may be mutually exclusive....... can you please make up your f#cking mind?

I think the bum was addressing two young ladies. So I am baffled. They both seemed very white and yuppie.

The evening was devoid of weltschmerz and existenzangst.
Those would've required introspection.

The "Pipe for Watching Rats in Spofford Alley" was loaded up once I got off the bus. In the past I would have spent half an hour listening to Cantonese opera practice outside the basement (知音妙韻) on Waverly near Mr. Jiu's, but that has not been part of the programme for nearly a year. And on rainy nights especially one wishes to stroll through the quiet neighborhood before ending up on Grant Avenue, carefully stepping around sleepers under the overhangs. In this city, cardboard is bedding material. It's what makes America Great Again. Precisely like songs by blonde slags.

Episodes of Women Generals of the Yang Family.

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General Motors is downsizing in Ohio. Which is great news if you are not Trump. The tweetmeister wrote: "Very disappointed with General Motors and their CEO, Mary Barra, for closing plants in Ohio, Michigan and Maryland. Nothing being closed in Mexico & China. The U.S. saved General Motors, and this is the THANKS we get! We are now looking at cutting all @GM subsidies". Wait, what? Are we subsidizing General Motors?

Other than by sometimes purchasing their product?

"Very disappointed with General Motors and their CEO, Mary Barra, for closing plants in Ohio, Michigan and Maryland. Nothing being closed in Mexico & China. The U.S. saved General Motors, and this is the THANKS we get! We are now looking at cutting all @GM subsidies, including…. "

------Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 27, 2018

All indications are that as usual he doesn't know what he's talking about. But the Rust Belt is, largely, MAGA country, so they can go f*&% themselves.
Their governor is ein stuk drek in any case.
And their vehicles are crap.

The best thing to come out of Ohio was Les Nesman, five time winner of the Buckeye News Hawk award.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2018


Pursuant a discussion of the bizarre measuring schemes used in the United States -- inches, feet, hands, spans, and weird shiznit like stones, wool bales, hogsheads, and the standard American cup everyone is obligated to purchase when they learn about fire and kitchens -- I made mention of something similar.


Taels to the catty. Ten 錢 ('chin') equals one 兩 ('leung') which is equivalent to one sixteenth of a 斤 ('gan'),of which there are thirty in a 鈞 ('kwan'), four of which make up a 石 ('daam')。Everybody should know this.

[NOTE: 石 is in all other cases pronounced 'sek'.]

These are legal weights in Taiwan, Hong Kong, formerly on the mainland, and in Indochina, and Malaya. Mace, Tael, Catty, Kwan, and Picul. And note that 鈞 is also written 銞 showing a held (勹 'baau') utterance, statement, or quote (曰 'yuet') placed over gold or more generally metal (金 'gam').
鈞 with 匀 ('wan'; "equal") on the right is, however, standard.

This is important information, folks,
And there will be a test.

Now please note that in the United States tobacco is commonly sold in two ounce measurements, more or less equivalent to fifty six point six grammes (a tin or pouch), whereas in Europe it is available as 1.76 ounces, which also makes no buggery sense whatsoever.
Two taels of good pipe tobacco are approximately one and half of a European tin, or seven ninths of an American tin. More or less.
Which should last you for eight to ten days.
But longer when it's raining.

No one sensible uses Akbar weights.

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Monday, November 26, 2018


Yeah, no, these crisps ain't doing it for me. They're supposed to be "Turkey and Dressing" flavoured; all I'm getting is a hint of wattle. Kind of like old man's neck. If you're a vampire. Not enough salt, no spice whatsoever.

I guess the bag winked invitingly at my apartment mate.
Who does not have a thing for old geezers.
But is food-adventurous.

It must have been a dreary and disappointing Thanksgiving down at the yuppie food emporium. Nothing but a bunch of dessicated old Vegans gumming tofurky. And pasty gluten-free white bread stuffing, softened by warm soy milk. Sort of like sponge, but with far less texture.
Everybody with taste went home for the holiday.
Nothing but Pablum fossils there.

Potato chips are supposed to be redolent of hot fat, salt, spices. Richly crisp and greasy. Not crunchy hard and reminiscent of healthy oil.

It's like the yuppie food emporium doesn't understand the concept of junkfood. Yummaliscious fun nibbly-wibbly.

A knisper knasper lekkernij.


No wonder so many folks in this city look pale and wan, drained of juice, and altogether like dried up stick-insects with gym memberships.

Not even enough flavour for Turkeys.

Yuppie health-zoids.

Please register my strong apathy for all of them.

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One of the places where I used to go on Stockton Street has, from the looks of it, changed hands. And one wonders at the type of place it will be. It used to be New Honolulu (新檀島咖啡餅店 'san taan tou ka fei bing dim') at 888 Stockton Street; the new name is 新品味 ('san pan mei'), though the English signage remains the same. That entire block is becoming different. Wycen Foods (祥發臘味) a few doors up moved over a year ago from the location of many years. They are presently just around the corner on Clay Street, facing where Hang Ah Alley terminates. Good preserved meats, Canto style. I was glad to see them re open.

The New Honolulu was a typical Hong Kong style chachanteng. Plate lunches, a number of specialty dishes, baked goods very nice, and milk tea. Plus friendly staff and a good albeit quirked ambiance.

It was more or less my kind of place.

They're still remodeling, and have posted no menus or an opening date. All I can tell is the walls are going to be different, and there are interesting light fixtures. Which is not enough to go by.

I keep telling myself that change is good. But I'm kind of pissed off at how many familiar places disappear. And don't get me started on the movie theatres there that no longer exist, or the old school lunch counters, of which there were several. I do not want to sound like Grandpa Simpson.
I never wore an onion on my belt.

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Sunday, November 25, 2018


There are many things that the middle-aged man does not need to know, and of which he would rather not be too aware. The emotional life of ducks (a matter that a coworker went into overmuch detail about, disapprovingly, pursuant things I love to eat and she doesn't, and thank you for telling me that). The mechanics of cubical wombat poo. Purple nurples. Donald Trump's thumb length. Praying mantis sex.
And Brazilian sugaring.

A sign on Lombard Street advertises the latter.

So I looked it up.

There are reasons most of the technicians skilled in Brazilian sugaring are women. And not middle-aged men. Good reasons. With validity.

And ladies, you is nuts. I say this as an expert on nuts.

If you get your Brazil sugared, do not tell the internet.

Posting pictures is too much information.

The bus back from Marin goes down Lombard Street. I had seen the sign a few times already, and indeed suspected the Brazilian sugaring might have some beautificatory connotations. So I finally went onto the internet to find out. I am glad I did not ask anyone I know about Brazilian sugaring.

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Friday, November 23, 2018


In this building it is impossible to sleep past seven nowadays, because earthquake retrofit work is being done, and the sounds of repair resonate throughout. Drilling, sawing, hammering, and for concrete the occasional jackhammer or infernal device. A large power saw for metal or sumpin'.

Which is okay. I'm fine with the building not falling on me.

I cannot smoke when my apartment mate is around.

And it's raining outside.

While I was in the kitchen pretending not to smoke, a voice in the airwell, over the sound of squealing machinery, uttered a statement.


And, remarkably, I too was dealing with pipe. I found my missing Peterson Pot (shape 606) last night in my bed, underneath one of the stuffed animals.
No idea how it got there. Perhaps the frog stole it when I was tired. He has been hiding it for weeks. This morning I was using microfibre on the rim.

No, this is NOT the big effing ultimate! But it is a mighty fine pipe indeed, and I shall be smoking it later down in Chinatown, where people do not object to middle-aged gentlemen indulging in tobacco. My apartment mate is un-Chinese in that regard, having grown up here. Despite her heritage, she does not act very Asian. Mostly that is a blessing -- especially when it comes to cheese, Mornay Sauce, for instance -- but she lacks a certain tolerance for smoking old farts that her kinfolks have.

That is to say, she tolerates me, and I smoke, but she does not tolerate me smoking inside the apartment. Which is why I would wish to have a patio with an overhang or roofed area and perhaps a comfy wicker chair in the corner, where I could shelter from the elements while indulging.

Fortunately there are awnings in front of empty commercial properties along Washington Street, as well as recessed areas in several other places.
So, quick lunch, perhaps milk tea, then out into the cold.


A curiosity for the little children.
The indignity of the modern era.

You know, years ago experts recommended that you smoke after (and during) a meal for your digestion's sake, and repeated national surveys showed that more doctors, all across the country, in all branches of medicine, smoked Camels than any other cigarette.
Pipes are better than that.

Bertrand Russell credited his long life to pipe smoking.

Mostly Virginia mixtures and Flakes.
Fribourg & Treyer, McConnell.
Excellent for digestion.

Some Virginias are perfect for cold days, as they create hardly any smoke in the room, and you don't even have to open the window.

The sound of power machinery hitting at concrete below in the airwell is a constant. My apartment mate is in her room, asleep. She had some banana cake and a warm caffeinated beverage, and then went back to bed. She is, obviously, capable of putting up with a lot of things.
But not smoking.


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Thursday, November 22, 2018


Roast goose rice in a crowded restaurant, at the single diner table. Three other people there. Mrs. Bowl of Noodles and a small plate of roast pork, next to me. Uncle Wonton Noodle Soup, opposite. Older brother Mongolian Beef and Heineken on the other side. And I'm right in the line of sight of dead fish eyes idiot two tables away.

I would rather have been at the table with the adorable little moppet near the waiter station. She looked like she would have had intriguing conversational skills.

The first thing I noticed about Mrs. Bowl of Noodles and Roast Pork was the emphatic way she slammed down the hot sauce jar everytime she added another spoonful. I admire and approve of people who appreciate hot sauce. Add sambal to everything.

Then I noticed her taking a bottle of baijiu (白酒 'pak jau') out of her shopping bags and pouring it into her teabowl. So did the waiter. He guided the bottle back into her bag, admonishing her "mou yam jeui" (無飲醉). This displeased her no end. She started grumbling about young fellows, it was her bottle, dammit, and holidays. Segued into her husband (老公 'lou gung'), a Party official. Who was, apparently, deceased. As were her three children. Alone, miserable, no nearby family. She wept. She seemed inconsolable, but she wasn't making a huge scene, and deserved a sympathetic ear.

I regret that I am not such.

First because my Cantonese is not fluent enough for that, secondly because I'm so damned Aspergers that I'm practically Autistic. And quite incapable of giving the right responses when something catches me out of left field.
Perfectly crippled in that regard.

In retrospect, if Mrs. Bowl of Noodles thought that baijiu was the right thing under the circumstances, it probably was. Dining alone on Thanksgiving.

Better, in any case, than having a dim white guy next to her.

The roast goose was pretty darn good. So was the pipe I had afterward. Later I discovered that the place where I intended to have a cup of milk tea at around tea time was closed for Thanksgiving.

Smoked a second pipe while wandering down from the top of Nob Hill.
It had gotten colder. And windy.

It is raining now.

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And the winner is a foregone conclusion. Reason being that I will gracefully yield. She (my apartment mate) has to dine with her kinfolk this evening, so she's making something to take over to the feast from which I am excluded, and I have no interest in getting in the way or dominating our kitchen. All across the country people will eat together while arguing politics and Trump's foolishness, which is a fine tradition, but my plans are: Lunch in Chinatown. Pipe. Milk tea in Chinatown. Pipe. More milk tea. And perhaps another pipe. Then home to fix myself a plate of nasi goreng.
And maybe another pipe.

Thanksgiving and Christmas are about single men smoking pipes.

And muttering unintelligibly to themselves.

Free the turkeys!

Step away from the skeevy old dude, dears, and think of cranberry sauce. Pecan pie. Corn. Pumpkin crap of some type. An overload of protein and starch, no romaine lettuce, and butter. All of which the native Americans gave us. Along with barbecue sauce, waffles and donuts.
Christmas is just around the corner.

And, for the vegans among us, succotash. Vegans love suffering.

Thanksgiving means lima beans.

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The kitchen is off-limits tomorrow, between twelve and five. Because she is preparing mashed potatoes for over at her brother's house later. One thing she resupplied on was powdered cayenne. Essential. She and her siblings are Chinese American, she's preparing the mashed potatoes. Cayenne is necessary for mashed potatoes?

We've known each other for over two decades. Been apartment mates for most of that time. In all those years I never knew that Cayenne was an ingredient in mashed potatoes.
But then I've never been to a Thanksgiving get-together either.
So what do I know about Chinese American customs?

I'll be spending much of Thursday afternoon in Chinatown, enjoying a pipe after lunch. That, basically, has been my Thanksgiving for several years.
Plus feeling bitter, resentful, and very Dutch American.

Many single men in SF do the same.

THXGVNG isn't our day.

This evening I went out to smoke, aged Virginia leaf in a Comoy's Grand Slam Lovatt under the trees at the nearby bus stop. One cannot smoke legally at bus stops in SF, but those trees provide cover from the rain, and no one at twelve midnight will object. You would think there would be a whole crowd of diseased hacking smokers there, congregating cheerfully while stinking up the place, but it turns out that almost no one shows up. Probably because smoking is not a social activity anymore.

The only smoker I saw tonight left her pack of Turkish tobacco at work, and purchased Camels to tide her over for the long weekend. Her dog disapproves of her vile habit, and her wife/girlfriend doesn't know about it.

I was planning to smoke the Peterson bent bulldog my father used to own. He acquired it, I think, way back before he joined the Royal Canadian Airforce to fly over Germany. Or perhaps after he returned (1946), before he went to sea.
I borrowed it for ten days when he went to London with his girlfriend.
That was a lovely vacation. For myself. Late seventies.

I am very fond of the trees at the bus stop.
Yes, often street people camp there.
But most days just pigeons.
Sometimes me.

Tomorrow, between twelve and five, I shall probably be in C'town. Perhaps chops, definitely milk tea. And a pipe or two. What I'm smoking these days is one of my own mixtures: one third dark aged Virginia, two thirds medium-bright. Scant Perique. Old school. Perfect for rainy days.

I have my father's pipes. Only smoke one of them semi-regularly (Peterson silver banded bent bulldog). I might bring out the Comoy made Bobby B., which (and this is just a guess) is a pipe he acquired when he was still in High School, Beverly Hills in the late thirties. The bowl shape is almost identical to the only pipe I took with me when I came back to the United States (Lovatt versus Liverpool); together they form a matched pair.

Pipes help a man remember the past.
And face the future.

It rained recently. The pavement is wet, fragrant, dark. Other than the sound of cascading glass from the bottle collectors, the neighborhood is silent. The bus stop was deserted, and there are dead leaves scattered about. No sleeping bums. Earlier Mr. Siu had come across the street to talk. Before that, Ah Choi had recognized me and stopped to chat. Both Anna Auntie and Ah-ping jieh had exchanged a few words, socially, and the gentlemen at the herbalist had spoken to me. Other than a discussion about Turkish cigarettes, and chit chat with she who is doing mashed potatoes for the family gathering tomorrow, speaking English has not been a thing.
Tomorrow it won't be either.

Chubby tea-shop sister was at the store today. I may stop by and talk tomorrow. If she's there again. She's good people.

Yes, no damned turkey. Shan't watch the parade either.
Nor the ball-game. No tryptophan napping.
Deals at the mall? Nix.

Aged Virginia. Two thirds bright medium.
One third nicely aged dark.


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Wednesday, November 21, 2018


In a previous post I mentioned some favourite pipe shapes. Among others: the pot, the bulldog, the Canadian. A shape of which I used to be quite fond is the bent bulldog. Such as this small selection enjoyed by Mr. Horton in Michigan.


From the left starting at the top are an Ago, Dunhill Root Briar, Dunhill Patent, and Comoy’s Blue Riband. From the right starting at the top are a Castello, Barling Ye Olde Wood, Savinelli Giubileo d’Oro, and a Sasieni Four Dot.

I myself own several bent bulldogs. And I love his.

No, it's not envy. Admiration.


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Apparently some pipe shapes are sinful as all git-out. Shocking, even. Personally I've always liked what is called a bulldog -- some lovely examples are pictured on Greg Pease's blog, btw -- but the true rake and bon vivant smokes a pot.

Such as, for instance, a Peterson. I have a lovely Peterson Pot, which I just spent an hour looking for. Don't know where it is. Managed to break one of my favourite coffee cups while looking.

From a Facebookian yeshivist, I have been alerted to Victoria in Maryland, who posted: "If you smoke the pot and do sex, please don't comment on my profile ... "


Here are some lovely GBD pots from Greg Pease:

I ended up with coffee everywhere. Bathroom floor.
And while I sympathize, sort of, with Victoria in Maryland, beset by sexual pipe smokers, I really don't.
My lighter no longer works. It was the coffee. Not the pipe shape, and not any sex either.

"What's your shape" is a lousy pick-up line.
Trust me on this.

Today after an early dinner in Chinatown I am probably going to smoke a Canadian, which is one of the pipes I fondly associate with that environment. An old Gresham Giant, made by Comoy of London. One of the other pipes with a Chinatown mood is the Pipe For Watching Rats in Spofford Alley, which I enjoyed yesterday, in Spofford Alley late at night. Sunrise, shape 110B, also by Comoy. Shapes (but not the actual pipes) shown below.

Please note that both of the pipes illustrated were from the Smoking Pipes Dot Com website, the second one photographed by Bobby Altman.

I think you'll agree that the two pipes above are piss-elegant.
Gorgeous, and profoundly old-fashioned looking.
Those are lovely photos.

The tobacco this afternoon will be Dunhill Flake.
After Hong Kong milk tea

If you cannot find either of the Dunhill Flakes anymore (they are no longer in production, though still available here and there), you should try the Orlik Golden Sliced, which is the choice of all shrewd judges.

GBD was Ganneval, Bondier, and Donninger, a pipe firm established in 1850 in Paris. Comoy began when Louis Comoy moved from Saint Claude in France to London in 1850. Dunhill opened his first tobacco shop in 1906. GBD and Comoy (now both part of Cadogan) have been messed up in the last few years and no longer make pipes as good as they once did. Dunhill is now a portfolio of products owned by no one named Dunhill, their tobacco has been made by Orlik (a subsidiary of Scandinavian Tobacco Group)  for Kohlhase & Kopp for several years. The flake is jolly good stuff.

Darn it, I wish I knew where that Peterson Pot is!

What am I doing for Turkey Day tomorrow and Black Friday? Not a damned thing. I'm not nearly social enough. I'll probably wander around the city looking dour. And glowering. With a pipe.
I'm good at that.



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The singing at the karaoke joint last night was horrible! A blonde brit party slag with an attitude (a whole new world, teach the children, and similar treif) who wouldn't pay for her drinks because the 五加皮 didn't taste like she remembered it, and Mama Candy gave her a better time. Bitch, there is no call to insult Jenny 姑媽 or show your ass.

Firstly, you sing like an egomaniac. You are not an artiste, and talking shit about either Lau Tak Wah OR Theresa Teng is uncalled for. Your voice is lousy, and your performance persona is repulsive.

Secondly, you and your tall opportunistic drinking buddies ordered the damned drinks. Slam them, and pay.

Thirdly, you can take that attitude right back to Birmingham.

I come to this place for only TWO reasons. Number one is that the book seller and myself have been doing this once a week for very many years. Number two  is that I like Jenny 姑媽. She's been a good friend for a long time, she pours generously, and she keeps the insanity down when she is behind the bar. The number of white folks misbehaving is far less.

Sometimes I fervently wish that Michael, and the most dangerous man in Chinatown, or the gangster whose hierarchical position I do not know yet, would pound people like you. You ruin it for the rest of us.

The titty groper singing various nightclub tunes (appropriately with video filled with women dressed like drag queens, thus perfect for his voice) was the bright spot. I do indeed enjoy Therese Teng's deep basso profundo.
And maybe the moon does like a lemon.
In a seventies era Taiwan.
In a nightclub



By the way, here's a version of that same song that the bookseller might enjoy. It's zesty, and filled with spirit.



All I know about miss Angie Ng is that she likes to dance, is probably Cantonese (that phoneticisation of the surname), and seems like a nice person. Possibly a resident of Singapore.

Miss Angie, if you're reading this, I can tell you that the bookseller is a decent man, a good cook, gallant and well-read, and unmarried. He would probably make sure that you were happily filled with noodles at all times.
Italian American, of mature years and inclinations.
He appreciates chilipeppers and hot sauce.
Not seeing anyone presently

Let me know.

Ada sambal.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2018


The New York Times was wrong to question the relationship between Trump and Pence, and it is patently absurd to suggest that Trump ever doubted Pence's loyalty. As has been abundantly demonstrated, Mike Pence is among the President's most devoted and obsequious followers, and has been slavish in his service to his master.

The New York Times did a phony story, as usual, about my relationship with @VP Mike Pence, they made up sources and refused to ask me, the only one that would know, for a quote....

>“....I can’t imagine any President having a better or closer relationship with their Vice President then the two of us. Just more FAKE NEWS, the Enemy of the People!

------Donald Trump

Suggesting the contrary would be discriminatory. This Bromance is the stuff of legend. Protestantism meets Golden Showers, and finds a lot to love.
Just grab 'em by the Pence.

Plus, Pence has NEVER expressed a lascivious appreciation for Trump's stable. He refuses to dine with anything other than his wife.
Who is equally devoted to the president.

The NYT should have instead praised Pence for his fidelity.

He's neither infectious nor parasitical.

Indiana's finest son.



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America and the world's most important holiday is coming up: Black Friday. This is when we celebrate the economic inequality that marks our society. Stores will be open hours earlier and stay open much later than usual, and hordes of shoppers will beat each other to a bloody pulp over the last ninety inch teevee screen for sale at a screw-you price.

The president could shoot a man in broad daylight, and no one would care.

It's probably the perfect day for a quiet lunch.

If I really wanted to trigger folks, I'd take a pipe and tobacco down to the shopping district and spark up. But I'm too lazy, and intolerant of people, especially crowds, to do so.

I do not have kids, I do not need an X-box.

I do not worship fat men in red bathrobes.

I think that most of you people are nuts.

A few years ago I worked at a toy company, so I am a bit jaundiced about the holiday shopping season. Any retailer who counts on Christmas to get back on an even keel financially is, as far as I'm concerned, barking up the wrong tree. And your relatives do not like you well enough to buy you what you really want: a flawless pearl necklace, for instance. Selfish bastards.
Just think how delightful you would look wearing only that.
And perhaps warm flannel pajamas.
Because it's cold.

Black Friday: a perfect opportunity to spend all day in bed, with the blinds down, and warm beverages. Just padding to the kitchen occasionally to fix yourself some more buttered toast, in your comfy pajamas and pearls.
With perhaps the cat for company.
Or not.

I'm going to have lunch.
Probably porkchops.
And milk tea.

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Monday, November 19, 2018


A friend posted a picture of himself enjoying a hot cup of coffee and smoking his pipe in the courtyard of an antique building in 浦東 which was evocative. I myself do not take selfies, what with being a Luddite who never acquired a cellphone, so I cannot match that. You'll just have to imagine me in an hour or two outside a nearby public house in one of their wooden patio chairs, smoking some aged Virginia in a handsome pipe I've had for many years. In lieu of hot coffee (a cup now), it will be whisky and water.
And instead of autumnal sunlight, darkness and street lights.
Not anywhere in 浦東新場 but here in SF, 舊金山。
More or less my natural environment.
I shall look gnomish.

Upon returning home from work I always refresh myself with hot coffee. Today there were also a few fried dumplings, and a slice of apple cake.

So I feel better after Marin County than I did when I stumbled off the bus.

And I'm glad I don't have to go back for four more days; off till Saturday.

Four days. People watching. Pastries and milk tea. Baked Portuguese Chicken Rice. More dumplings. Some bittermelon. Noodles. A refined and delightful blend of dark Virginia and bright. Reading. Books.

But first, a post prandial nap.

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In a Facebook discussion about a rainy weekend with someone in Singapore, an Indonesian friend remarked that he missed Hong Kong. Both gentlemen are pipesmokers, by the way. Hence the connection. My input was that we could use the weather to which the Singaporean woke up here in California.
We're kind of parched.

Naturally I remembered Typhoon Mangkhut, which hit Hong Kong back in September, after battering Northern Luzon.



I could have also remembered a hurricane that hit the Eastern Seaboard at the same time, but Hong Kong is closer.

The rain that Jerome in Singapore is experiencing is not that bad.
Though the humidity is high enough that mold on his tobacco is a problem.

Several weeks ago a fellow from Manila was considering purchasing a humidor to keep his cigars in once he returned to the Philippines. I advised him to invest in silica gel packets instead. Much more useful.
Dry cigars are just not an issue in that climate.

Mildew in your underwear might be.

It's like Ireland, with ninety degree heat.
J. P. Donleavy would have loved the place.

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Sunday, November 18, 2018


The phrase overheard this evening painted a picture. Two females who resembled leopards or panthers, discussing affairs of the heart. Normally one tries not to listen in, because it's not really a gentlemanly thing to do, but people do fascinate me.

"It's great to have a big dumb boyfriend!"

I suppose if you need to move a couch, yes.

Or a refrigerator.

On the way home I kept imagining a carnivorous woman needing to change apartments. Probably because she brutalized one of the other tenants. People tend to look askance at that. Landlords, coroners, or police.
Under what circumstances had she confronted them?
Perhaps loud music or queer smells?

Her previous big dumb boyfriend started to decompose?

That would probably require another big dumb boyfriend, to wield the woodchipper. Yes, San Francisco at times resembles Fargo, North Dakota. Except without all the goofy Scandinavian names or snowdrifts.
We have aggressive Russian women and smog instead.
So talking funny is part of the programme.

Both ladies were, I think, Russian.

The easiest way to find a big dumb boyfriend is probably to go down to the neighborhood gym and wave some piroshok at a body builder. Lisp sexily in a Siberian Prison Guard accent when you introduce yourself.
Hi, my name is Olga - privet, menya zovut Olga.
Waggle something at the man.

"It's great to have a big dumb boyfriend!"

No, I am not wanted by the SPCA.

I have not moved a couch in years, and have no actual familiarity with woodchipping equipment. Nor have I ever been to North Dakota.
Big beefy piroshky do not tempt me.
Except intellectually.

Don't call me Boris.

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From the facebook page of Nerds with Vaginas come the following Meme:

Reasons to date me:
1. I can cook
2. We can stay naked in bed eating pizza
3. I'm hilarious
4. If your not sold on 1-3, look at my butt
If that doesn't work, you like men.

As a single man, I must take issue with this Meme.

I see no reason to eat pizza in bed. Feel free to wander around the house unclothed, but you're not eating that here. There are, as everyone undoubtedly realizes, only THREE things one can eat in bed, and all three of them go well with coffee or tea. Fresh croissants, cookies, and hot buttered toast.

One out of four. That's all.

I can cook.

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Saturday, November 17, 2018


The moon is frosty above the street, like a hook curving over the willow trees. Singing does not requite the melancholy mood, tears fall.
A mother and daughter wander alone, cold and hungry.

That, more or less, is the gist of one of the loveliest songs by Zhou Xuan (周璇), from a classic Shanghai tearjerker from the thirties (possibly 馬路天使 "Street Angel").
I did not remember that song from any of her movies.
But I saw them a long time ago.

It's been covered by several singers a number of times since then, and can be found on youtube.

詞:吳村  曲:張昊

街頭月 月如霜 冷冷地照在屋簷上
街頭月 月如霜 冷冷地照在屋簷上
母女淪落走街坊 饑寒交迫只得把歌唱
唱呀唱 唱呀唱 唱不盡悲歡離合空惆悵

街頭月 月如鈎 彎彎地掛在柳梢頭
街頭月 月如鈎 彎彎地掛在柳梢頭
母女相依沿街走 低彈緩唱唱到淚雙流
流呀流 流呀流 流到了心碎腸斷不憂愁

Little Red (one of Zhou Xuan's nicknames: 小紅) really did have a lovely voice, as the song 銀花飛 makes very clear. There are times when her enunciation seems drenched with honey.

You may not find such songs to your liking.
They are perhaps a bit old hat.
As are my ears.


You could, I suppose, ascribe that to "Old National Pronunciation", that being a standardization of Mandarin as revised during the twenties and thirties, but, going out on a limb, I'm guessing it's more than just that.

Even so, it is primarily for that reason that I did not provide a phonetic transcription of the lyrics; you probably would not sing along, and the tone system might flummox you anyway.

FYI: I'm still having difficulty with the 入聲
There are no glottal stops in Mandarin.

She also sang in Suzhou dialect, FYI.

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Friday, November 16, 2018


The owner of the Indian restaurant where I worked years ago stated in an advertising flyer that we could do Hindu, Halal, and Kosher banquets ... Every utensil and surface in the kitchen would have had to be torched till red hot to make that a reality. And, needless to say, we had no mashgiach.
He had a hard time bending his mind around the concept.
He had thought it was just "no pork".

Work on Sabath, shellfish, buttered roti with your lamb korma?

Snapper ve kaskeses?


Needless to say we did no kosher banquets, ever. Christmas parties, yes.
And a few tasteful Indian weddings.

We had pretensions. Even though, like most Indian restaurants in the United States, our menu selections catered to Sikh truckdrivers on the Grand Trunk Road, possibly filtered through Birmingham.

Slight shades of derelict mansions and their occupants in old Delhi after the Afghans sacked the place, occasional hints of South Indian ashrams for dingbat white people. But not a charpoy in the place. Tinny bhangra and Bollywood music whenever the boswallah wasn't around.
Sheer buckets of masala chai.

During my time there I purchased nearly every book I could find about Indian languages, food, belief systems, and history. One does not want to be the white fellow on staff who doesn't know a damned thing.
Especially not around Indians.
Who know everything.

Dhaba food. Rich, greasy, energy-giving. Chole, saag, palak paneer, kadhai gosht, and butter chicken. Paratha, puri, kulcha. Firni, gulab jamun, barfi.
Great eating, indeed, but hardly strictly kosher.

Nothing Vegan, neither observant Jews or strict vegetarians might ever feel entirely comfortable there, the dairy items could not pass for cholov yisroel, and both Brahmans and Jains might have severe internal struggles.
Strict people of any type should not eat at a dhaba.

But on the other hand, the Lobster Space Aliens would have probably loved the place. Good food, yaar! Fabulous roti-shoti!
We awaited their coming.
Every night.

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Thursday, November 15, 2018


A friend posted "it's hard to flirt with a mask on". Pursuant the horrendous air-quality in the Bay Area at present. Which rather suggests that he is the flirtatious type. I should reassure him that I do not wear a mask. It's hard to smoke a pipe when you are wearing a mask. And, judging by the slightly snockered woman the other evening, smoking a pipe is the sexiest thing a man can do and still keep it decent.

I have seen her before. She didn't recognize me from the bus. Which is a good thing, because while she is probably nice, she is not my type.

In any case, I am relieved to hear that pipe-smoking is sexy.

I always feared that the sexiest thing a man could do would be covering himself with virgin olive oil or wild bee honey and dancing naked and glowing in the moonlight, which I would never do because I am rather crowd-phobic, sensitive to the weather, and don't dance.

A good sandwich is sexy. Lovely pastries are sexy.
Cute little lamb chops are VERY sexy.
Dancing, not so much.

I may be seriously old-fashioned or out of touch regarding sexiness.

A woman holding a bottle of hot sauce looks totally divine.

I've been smoking a pipe for most of my life, and never thought much about it, sexiness-wise. I do know that many (almost all) women regard tobacco as evil and a depravity, which is probably why they dump grandpa by the side of the freeway to die of pneumonia, or exile their menfolk to the far end of the garden (near the compost heap) with that stinky thing.

Like most men, I am on good terms with wildlife.
I rely on the wolves to feed me.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2018


The lamb chops were delicious. And I was right; they came with a little bit of broccoli on the plate, in the open space next to the mound of cooked rice.
With the savoury pan juices on the side in a little stainless steel cup.
Per the menu: 煎羊扒 (意粉、飯) 'jin yeung paa (yi fan, faan)'.
Choice of sauced spaghetti (意粉) or white rice (飯).
Hong Kong people love spaghetti.

Broccoli is the default vegetable.

My apartment mate also likes broccoli, which I've always considered a minor flaw in her character. If she had a choice between hot sauce and broccoli, she would choose the latter. Which is quite inexplicable.
It must be a Chinese or Cantonese thing.

Broccoli is commonly available under the names 西蘭菜 ('sai lan choi') and 綠花椰菜 ('luk faa ye choi'). "western orchid vegetable" and "green flower coconut vegetable" respectively. It's pretty nasty stuff. Once, when I dropped by some friends after dinner, their place smelled absolutely awful.
Shamefacedly they admitted that they had steamed some broccoli ......
White folks cooking; that, too, is a Cantonese thing.
They like to live dangerously.

Lunch at tea time, with a big cup of milk tea. Then a pipe smoked at twilight on Waverly while watching people hurrying home or congregating outside neighborhood eateries. A splendid afternoon and early evening.

I did eat the broccoli, in case you were wondering.
Vegetables is vegetables.

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On the path up to the doorway of my workplace this morning I encountered a small presence, which I have since then concluded must have been ...