Sunday, November 29, 2020


Based on what I ate for dinner, I have a flaky crust and I am filled with rich buttery goodness. It's a good thing I do not self-identify according to what I eat or snack upon, as that would mean that sometimes I am a vegetable, and every day I would be a bottle of hot sauce.

If I self-identified according to what was in my pipe, today I'd have been, in this order: 1) red Virginia with a touch of Perique. 2) a bland smooth Virginia flake, allegedlywith some Perique included, but it wasn't noticeable. 3) Mixed Virginias with a touch of dark leaf. 4) A brand new product with the faintest hint of pear added to medium Virginias.

I actually self-identify according to caffeine level. Today I was zipped to the tits. It was a rather enjoyable day that went by too fast. A cup and a half of coffee before leaving the house, six cups of tea at work, and another cup of coffee upon coming home.

The pear topping on the tobacco was not noticeable.

And it utterly failed to remind me of a lovely dessert I made years ago: poached pears drizzled in homemade pear syrup, wrapped in a flaky pastry crust, baked, with dollops of cream on top to serve. If you treat bananas similarly, that too is delicious.

When poaching pears, add a splash of coffee to deepen the flavour.
Spices like cinnamon are a waste of time, avoid them.
A squeeze of lemon juice for freshness.
One or two whole cloves.

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So as of twelve noon today San Francisco is going into further restrictions. No gatherings between ten PM and five AM. Fewer people in shops, or at outdoor dining facilities.
Stringent social distancing. Go out only if essential. And no singing!

I'm blaming stupid people for this. Locally, that would be the outdoor drinkers, maskless wanderers and joggers, bicyclists, skateboarders, and potsmokers. Plus Republicans, denialists, conspiracists, and dingbats who listen to Rand Paul.

And of course people who claim a medical exemption. One of whom, at half my age, tried to claim that he had a heart-condition that prevented him from wearing a mask ......

Dude. I have a heart condition. I'm taking half a dozen medications daily. I've had a coronary stent installed. Wear the damned mask or I'll break your damned nose.

He put on the mask.

Still, stupid people. Every day I see hosebags out in public without their masks. Joggers and their moisture-laden turbulence are the biggest culprits, but dog walkers are a close second, and aimless brainless idiots are a not inconsiderable third segment.
San Francisco is filled with stupid people.

Just like the rest of the country.

It makes little difference to me, of course, because if I'm not heading to work I carry a stout walking stick to swat people with, and I'm so antisocial that from ten feet away you can sense the homicidal intent, nor do I have a large family of humans that might gather at any hour, let alone ten in the evening to five in the morning -- stuffed creatures, yes, but they avoid humans in any case, and are not likely to infect my apartement mate or myself -- nor do I drink outdoors or smoke pot. So I don't really care. And I'm heartless about the fate of the stupid people.

Very sincerely.

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Saturday, November 28, 2020


Every month I need to pay for a service. Recently, when I called to take care of the bill, I was offered two options. "We're offering a free medical alert device for seniors. If you are over fifty, press one. If not, press two". Well okay, I'm over fifty..... but I don't need a device.

Apparently that's not an option.

Look, I just want to pay my bill, I'm not interested in your device. "But our device is miraculous and comes at no cost to you." Just connect me to the bill-payment center. "It's a life-saver that no one can do without." No doubt, but this bill is due now. "Only a few questions ... " No, no questions, this is a payment. "This could make all the difference." No. Bill pay. Now. "Consider the advantages to your loved ones!" Bugger my loved ones, I want to pay my bill. "But before you do that..... " Listen sweetheart, I've got haemorrhoids, which might effing explode at any moment! "Our device does wonders for haemorrhoids! You can take it to the bathroom with you!" If I'm on the crapper I ain't gonna set off the device! "It is supernatural, it knows when you need help." Can it write out a praescription for preparation 'H' before it's needed? "Just apply it to your ass and all answers will be yours."

Okay, that's a slight exxageration. But when I indicated in the strongest terms that I. Had. Simply. Called. To. Pay. My. Damned. Bill. And. Was. Not. Interested. At. All. In. The Device. she transferred me to another person who was just as unpursuasively obdurate.

So I disconnected on the both of them.

When I called again I pressed two.

Medical alert devices in action.

It was like having the damned Jehovah's Witnesses working the phones. Or creepy stalkers. No, I'm not interested. 'Yes you are.' Not. 'Fess up, you're just playing coy.' Piss off you offensive twats. 'We can tell that you didn't mean that.'

I'm a bit peeved. Most of us ouwe knakkers over fifty don't need either medical alarm trumpets or prosyletizing dingos in our lives. That's why we come to the front door naked on weekend mornings bearing effigies of Satan and large voodoo sticks.

Damned missionaries, get off of my lawn!

Oh, you've brought a sacrifice!

Come along, little one.

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Friday, November 27, 2020


Yesterday was the first time in decades that I had turkey on Thanksgiving and didn't eat alone. It was rather nice. We stubborn old codgers like company on festive days. It shows we're not entirely irredeemable. And it was entirely because of Covid, as otherwise my apartment mate would have gone over to her kinfolks, like every year, and I would have "enjoyed" an account of Chinese American dysfunctionality after she came back. Having myself, like so many Jewish Americans at Christmas, dined in Chinatown. Which is very traditional, I am given to believe.
Nothing says "festive" like Kung Pao.

A Dutch American Cantonese Thanksgiving: Turkey en croûte (in a pastry crust), creamed spinach, rice, and sambal. Plus an axe murderer on the telly.

[Made available by modern food stores, the downstairs lady's generosity, and deeveedees.]

Both my apartment mate and the lady below us are Cantonese Americans. I myself am Dutch American. The sambal was Indo, the axe murderer was Southern, as so many of them are.

[You can tell Southerners by their drawl, the grim presence of grits, and the devilled egg plate, which is something they all own. At the drop of a hat, they bring out the devilled egg plate and everyone present will eat four or five of those suckers.]

I'd probably do fine in the South. I don't mind devilled eggs at all. And I understand a vast spectrum of regional English. Yeehaw, y'alls. Oh stewardess, I speak Jive.
Oh and iced tea is more or less bearable too.

To be honest, it was the best Genocidal Calvinist Dickhead Day that I've had in ages.

I actually spent most of it zipped to the tits on tea.

Caffeine pre-empts tryptophan (a notorious an α-amino acid), which I now know is not as prevalent in turkey as commonly believed. There's more of it in codfish, spirulina, Parmesan cheese, Cheddar Cheese, and porkchops.

Plus benne and sunflower seeds.

The human body manufactures a tonne of it when forced to watch American Football. Or any sports.

Don't really know what I'll do next year when the plague is over.
Pray for a flood and earthquakes, I suppose.

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Thursday, November 26, 2020


One of my friends subscribes to the fantasy of being a small woodland creature wearing period clothing and baking pies, anxious about the impending visit of Mrs. Owl, and will his apple cake be ready in time? Which does sound nice, doesn't it? And it should be mentioned that he uses power tools, and handles lumber and cement on a daily basis.

Clearly the world created by Beautrix Potter speaks to people long after their juvenescence. And rightly. There are no blondes, antismokers, antivaxxers, or hobbits in that universe.
So the appeal to rational folks is universal.
And there is tea.

Plus an omelette with aged ham, but that's incidental, and not necessarily part of having tea. It's icing on the cake, as it were. And it made the stuffed turkey vulture happy.

A quick small lunch, or a late breakfast. The other person in this apartment is asleep in her room hugging her teddy bear, the sunlight is shining in through the slats, the day is lovely and peaceful. From downstairs I hear soft murmerings, my landlord and landlady enjoying the day. The Indonesian woman in the front downstairs apartment appears to be at ease also, last night I encountered her in the hallway. She mumbled worriedly about the heat not being on.
Her sensitivity to the cold is far greater than mine.
It came on later in the evening.

While outside earlier there had been very few people about. Late rising, lazy breakfasts, maybe teevee, and eventually roast bird or something. There are very few other pipe smokers in the city, it seems, and while lunting I've never encountered them.
It's warmed up a bit. Still need a sweater. Solani flake in a jaunty old number sounds rather nice. Then an early tea, and a spot of dinner. Other than that it is bird day, there is little to differentiate it from other Autumn days. Cold. Crisp. Slightly windy.
Dry leaves, small things that scurry.

It's been a long time since I've spotted any raccoons in the neighborhood. I hope they are well. They are diurnal and crepescular in their habits. And there is no discarded late night pizza for them to feast upon anymore.

There are pets and dishes of pet food.
Plus filled garbage cans.

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The day of the dead bird is upon us. Most people have, by now, hunted down the innocent wild sub-avian American and slaughtered him, perhaps brutally, definitely sudden. And if they have less than a dozen people to feed, have harvested the breasts and fatty thighs. Which they will in several hours bring forth from the domestic charnel chamber festooned with sundry inedible side dishes. The ceremonial plates of greased starch and blandish spackle.

Imagine the sound of trumpets here. Savage trumpets.
The kiddie-winkies will gather, drooling.
Barely contained joy.

Or whatever it is that pilgrim wannabees do on this day, in their faux puritan finery, while they get ever more swozzled on beer and cheap bourbon, which is what this holiday is all about.
I wouldn't know, not going anywhere, apparently there's something en crout in the refrigerator for a meal later, and this is the first time in very many years that the apartment mate is staying home for Thanksgiving, because unlike people in the vast interior, she isn't crazy and neither are her siblings with whom she usually celebrates Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Traditionally, I feel hosed on Thanksgiving. But not this year.
All the sane people are alone or in groups of two.
Avoiding family like the plague.

My sympathies are with the bird.

Last smoke of the day yesterday evening was long after nightfall, in silent streets. Many apartments in the neighborhood were lit, showing that most of the people here weren't flying anywhere. And it was too cold for there to be many other pedestrians.
Besides, most folks don't have an urge for a nice Virginia flake while freezing their balls off.
It was, never the less, an extremely enjoyable smoke. Succulent.

In less than an hour I shall be heading out for a morning constitutional, with another Peterson and another flake. The loonies whom I heard last night at the intersection will be asleep, or still drowsy, not so mumblesome. It takes hot coffee and full alertness to be fully dysfunctional.
My apartment mate will be fixing herself breakfast at that time. She's home today (which means that I cannot smoke inside at all), and I'm thinking of getting my coat for Canadian winters out of the closet. As a Dutchman, I should be okay with cold weather. As a 'long time Californ', of course, I bellyache about the weather. Anything between fifty nine degrees and seventy nine Fahrenheit (15° C to 26½°C) is fine. And I would offer that that is a large enough range that it should be a legal standard. Anything outside of that is outrageous, and should be illegal.

Yeah no, I don't like cold. None of us pipe smokers do.
But for domestic tranquility we'll Siberianize.
It's a price we pay for happiness.

I don't know what that turkey did, but we should pardon him.
If I were in power, I most certainly would.
Poor damn frozen bird.


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Wednesday, November 25, 2020


Given what people are like, I foresee a huge number of accidental poisonings over the next several months. Because of a cave art painting depicting a hallucinogenic plant taken ritually over four centuries ago in Southern California. Datura, chewed for effect.

It's better than Pot, man. Spiritual!

Over the last few years, people have experimented with Dokha, a concentrated raw version of tobacco which produces euphoria and temporary black-outs; Kratom, a not yet illegal plant from South east Asia which is sometimes used to lessen the ill-effects of drug-withdrawal; Rapé, a nicotiana rustica (mapacho) based shamanic snuff from South America which is taken up the nose for a sudden rush of euphoria and contentment ...... plus bleach, oleander, and chloroquine phosphate as Covid cures or preventatives, because people are idiots.
Also, Juul and Puff-bars, as new and probably more addictive forms of nicotine use.

In all honesty, I have complete faith in the stupidity of my fellow man.

These are the same people who raid grandma's medicine cabinet and pop what they find inside at random because grandma is out of it and high all the time, so it must be good.

The painting crudely illustrated above represents what is on the ceiling of Pinwheel Cave south of Bakersfield, recently confirmed to show a datura wrightii blossom unfolding.

Datura produces changes in perception, mood, and consciousness, and has been used ceremonially all over the Northern Hemisphere. It also causes breathing difficulty, heart failure, hallucinations, insanity, and death. But you'll have wonderful fantasies while croaking.
Which is precisely what is needed in these times.

The only mind-altering substances the thinking person needs are caffeine, nicotine, and highly refined sugar. Couple these with a book -- romance, detective novels, or sci-fi -- and you've got enough stimulation to survive almost anything including rap music and the idiots next door.
I am a literate tea-swilling pipesmoker. I do not need anything else.

Coffee and tea are just packed with antioxidants.
So they're good for you.


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Tuesday, November 24, 2020


A long walk with a pipe, a glowering look, and a stick for hitting people who might have gotten too close in pandemic times. Although smoking tobacco is a perfect tool for ensuring social distance. If you are close enough to find it objectionable, the chances very much are that you are far too close. and I may have to whack at you with my stick.
I have about half a good dozen whacking sticks.
I'm like a boy scout in some ways.
Be prepared.
Then home again to argue with customer service and have a late lunch. The only problem with customer service was the accent (Filipino) and the bloody script he had been given, which probably warned him that middle aged white people are ornery and cannot comprehend simple instructions. "Be humble, Ury, be humble! And supportive, caring, and gently encouraging! Stroke their egos and guide them gently through tying their shoes! First the left foot, if they're amenable to that, then the right foot. When they're done tell them what a wonderful praestation that was! A stellar achievement! Superior intelligence, damned well genius!" When it was all over and extra service had been added to my cell-phone, I thanked him. Which may have surprised him immeasurably, as his 'you're welcomes' were effusive.
It could have been the script he used.

The pipe shown above by Peterson of Dublin is a classic version of a shape which is hard to find nowadays because making it requires a keen eye as well as attention to angle. They have not made many good examples of it in years, and most new bulldogs, by any manufacturer, are lopsided. Something which back in the day (before my day) would not have been tolerated. There are a lot of things that back in the day before my day were just not acceptable.

It's one of my favourite shapes.

This exemplar performs very well with English flakes.

After which, of course, one should have tea.

Squat bulldogs are very sporting.

Yet also feminine.

Everyone's first pipe is usually mediocre. But with proper care and handling it will give many years of service. I usually tell people buying their first pipe to choose something comfortable to the eye and easy to run a pipe cleaner through, so that two years later they won't wonder "what the hell was I thinking?!?", but instead "I'm glad I bought that, it pleases me". So avoid the pipe with camouflage lacquer, or eccentric and badly done freehands. Getting a rotation going is a bit of an outlay at first, but with patience and intelligence it will be done fairly naturally. Then start thinking of "nice" pieces, the ones that cost a bit more. By that time your tastes will have sharpened. My first pipe was crap. But I do still have one pipe from that period.
A no-name Liverpool (long shank short tapered stem billiard shape bowl) which has been a companion for many years. Which is also good with flake tobaccos.

There's just something so nice about a well-made pipe with the right proportions, pleasing to the eye, a comfortable fit in the hand, and easy on the jaw. With a shape that, as much as the fragrance from the bowl, evokes days gone by, wonderful times, and good people.

As important is the tobacco one smokes. Whether flake (Virginia) or Balkan, it should be well-composed, made with good leaf, and few or no additives. Not one of those stinky berry vanilla products which cretins in the interior smoke while hunting varmints or abusing relatives.

The three most popular pipe tobaccos in America are BCA (an overload of vanilla), 1-Q (vanilla and caramel), and RLP-6 (molasses, honey, vanilla). Well-made products, but quite dubious.

Great for hunting shooting fishing types, hobbits, and wife beaters.
Thoughtful people smoke more civilized products.


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The way to eat reclining, or to drink in repose, is with mouth-centeredness and appropriate nackenstrekkung. Which tells you that I know strange experts on the internet. Computers have expanded our world immensely. The other day someone left a comment underneath a post written over a decade ago, when I was still sitting in my dark corner and waving gay banners and horrid effigies for attention. Which is what any blog is about, really.
There are over eigh billion people on this planet; four hundred of them, more or less, read this blog. So blogging hasn't been better for attention than wandering around naked with my private parts painted blue would have been. Though considerably less likely to get me locked up for seventy hour observation at SF General Hospital.

A victory, in other words.

Gnarfel said...
Man, it's been twelve years since you did this. Time to write another post like it.

This was underneath a post celebrating, if that's the right word, the creative life of Henry Darger, who lived like a good Catholic for several decades not attracting attention in a Chicago flop house, then died, whereupon the executors of his estate discovered that he was a genius. Having over the years written and illustrated a fifteen thousand page novel about a slave rebellion in outer space which will never be published.

His illustrations were ... quite perverse.

My essay was considerably less so.

In it I detailed several cocktails which are very suitable for festive occassions like Thanksgiving, when all your sickening relatives from Oklahoma fly out here to eat you out of house and home, infect you and several hundred other people with Covid, and fall asleep drunkenly in front of the television watching football, before going out to frenzy-shop at all the fabulous malls we have here. Leaving a disaster zone of epic proportions in your living room. I didn't mention it at the time, but I'm all about traditional family celebrations like that.

This Thanksgiving, like so many others that have gone before, I will be observing the holiday by spending a lot of time outside my home, because my apartment mate will be off work and hates my smoking. I'd rather be inside, but it's her place too, and sulking outdoors with a pipe and a pouch of tobacco is traditional at this point.
I am resigned to my fate.
Here then, are several of those cocktails, that will speed the process of getting uncle Blobbus and aunt Gherkintrude blitzed, as well as put all your horrid redneck cousins under the table. The less they are able to move, the fewer people they will offend or infect.
And note that several were suggested by readers.

I myself don't drink, but I've seen what happens.
It's nackenstreckungswürdig.



Two ounces Bourbon.
A Maraschino cherry.
A dash of Grenadine.
Ice cubes.

Put everything into a highball glass, top with a squirt of ginger ale. Two or three drops of bitters optional.


3 oz Gin.
2 oz Apricot Brandy.
2 oz Lemon juice.
Two large dashes of grenadine.

Shake over ice and strain into a cocktail glass.


1 oz Vodka.
1 oz Cherry Brandy.
1 oz Noilly Pratt.
Small dash lime juice.
Small dash orange juice.
3 drops Angostura.

Shake over ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
Add sliced lime and orange on the rim.


3 oz Vodka.
2 oz Blue Curacao.
4 oz Orange juice.
1 oz Lime cordial.

Put rocks in a pint glass. Pour in, in order given.
Garnish with an orange slice.


1 oz Blue Curacao.

Pour into a champagne flute, top up with iced champagne.


2 oz Apricot Brandy.
1 oz Lime juice.
Half oz Orange juice.
Half oz simple syrup.

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail glass.
Add a cherry and a lemon peel.


1 oz Bailey's Irish cream.
1 oz Butterscotch schnapps.

Put ice in a lowball glass ('Old Fashioned Glass'), then pour in Baileys and schnapps in order given.


One ounce Cointreau orange liqueur.
One ounce Bailey's Irish cream.

Shake over ice and strain into a cocktail glass.


Two ounces Rum.
Two ounces Orange juice.
One ounce Crème de cassis.
Dash of grenadine.

Shake over ice and strain into a lowball glass. Garnish with a slice of lemon.


1 oz vodka
1 oz Crème de vanilla.
1 oz Crème de cacao.

Shake over ice and pour. Garnish with chocolate shavings.


1 oz shot Gin.
Half oz Grenadine.
2 oz cream.

Shake over ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
Garnish with a cherry.


1 oz green Crème de menthe.
1 oz Crème de cacao (clear preferred).
1 oz Heavy cream.

Shake over ice and strain into a cocktail glass.


1 oz Butterscotch schnapps.
1 oz Vanilla vodka.

Shake over ice, pour into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a cherry.


Two shots Tequila.
Same amount Cream.
One shot plus of Creme de cacao.
Jigger of Grenadine.


Two ounces Bailey's Irish Cream.
Four ounces Orange juice.


Two ounces Rum.
Two ounces Orange juice.
One ounce Crème de cassis.
Dash of Grenadine.


2 oz Apricot Brandy.
1 oz Lime juice.
Half oz Orange juice.
Half oz simple syrup.


3 oz Vodka.
2 oz Blue Curacao.
4 oz Orange juice.
1 oz Lime cordial.

Yeah, I kind of hate Thanksgiving. I'd rather spend that day indoors. Reading, drinking tea, enjoying my pipe. Twiddling my toes. Warm. Dry. And no buggery football.

It's a concept.

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Over on one of my favourite Facebook pages, various members are adulating Tolkien. Apparently the man was a god, a hero, an intellectual beacon, a holy prophet, a shaft of light when all around was dark, the English answer to Spam™, and all that.

Oh buggery heck.

I tried to read The Lord Of The Rings when I was in my teens. Having already devoured much of Nabokov, Kipling, Simenon, Asimov, Herbert, Bradbury, and several Dutch authors.
Plus, lord'elpme, poets: Tennyson, Keats, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley ......

No stranger to reading I.

Couldn't do it. Tolkien is barely bearable. In manageable micro doses. The Lord Of The Rings is hugely overrated overblown poofle. The movies are, of course, visually magnificent, but best watched with the sound off. Hobbits are vile cutesy-poo orcfood. Horrid.

I am manfully holding back from telling them all to stuff their sainted Tolkien up their festering youknowwhatses. For which I deserve praise. Dammit.

Once upon a time there was a prince who collected dragons. Everyday he lovingly fed them and polished their scales. Which was cool, they sort of liked that, but they would rather have been free instead of enslaved in some ego-tripping nobleman's hoard. They sometimes dreamed that a fabulous princess would come and save them .......

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Monday, November 23, 2020


My apartment mate, like most Chinese American women who are in their mid-forties, idolizes Joan Crawford. Especially the murderous nut-ball Joan, an example of female empowerment and rage. White men, who are a far gentler breed, tend to be disturbed by this. Which may explain why there are so many interracial marriages; opposites attract.

An eighty year old friend is married to a Chinese woman. She's part of the anti-communist crowd, for very personal historical reasons, he's a sane and well-balanced liberal.
They voted for opposite ends of the spectrum three weeks ago.
I suspect that my downstairs neighbors, also a mixed married couple, are likewise in some ways diametric opposites.

As are my apartment mate and I. Neither of us voted for the Orange Pussball. But she is much more ladylike than I could ever be. Or would have any inclination for, if I were a woman.

I'd probably be like Joan Crawford.

A raging murderous bitch.

Good thing I'm not female.

Neither of us are married. I refuse to consider that her ex boyfriend ("Wheelie boy") and I have anything in common. During the years that the two of them were in a relationship, his existence displeased me, but I didn't have to deal with him, other than when he called to speak with her. But he must have had some good qualities; he had a relationship going on, and I didn't.
He's probably got a new girlfriend now. Some people are like that.
Both she and I are unattached.

Presently she's on the other side of the table in the teevee room, using her computer to read about lobster. Whereas I just finished reading the news after coming home. The stuffed turkey vulture is seated on a pile of books nearby, speaking with her voice (she channels for the critters), but not about lobsters. That is a different voice. Joan Crawford is on the telly. Which wasn't my choice, but it's classic movie I had not seen before, and if she weren't such a film buff it is extremely unlikely that I ever would.

Besides some similarities and a partial overlap of tastes, there are differences.

It is highly unlikely that her kinfolk realize that the grumpus with whom she shares living quarters is NOT an old college clasmate of the same gender and probably the same ethnic background, but a middle aged pipe smoking MALE (!) Caucasian who swills tea like there's no tomorrow. They probably don't know about the stuffed creatures either. They did meet Wheelie Boy on a number of occassions -- more than I did -- but I doubt they were particularly impressed.

I'd probably be lousy impersonating a Chinese American female, if it became necessary.
I wobble in high heels, and if I wore lipstick it would be a bold crimson colour.
More than likely I'd be highly unsuitable.
Daring and brassy.

Ms. Crawford.
I don't look good in women's clothes either.
Don't ask me how I know this.
Too angular.

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Sunday, November 22, 2020


My apartment mate is in her bed in her room with a good book. I am not yet sleepy, and will not go to my bed for another hour or so. Instead, I will walk around the neighborhood with a pipe enjoying the last smoke of the day. It has turned cold; today we closed the door at work and put on the heat. Several days in a row now it has been warmer in the morning than by the middle of the afternoon, which is NOT the weather pattern I signed up for! Expect a strongly worded letter to the editor. What is this world coming to?

Damned kids, get off of my lawn.
More or less.
Though keenly aware of the discordance, I tend to smoke English flake tobacco in the Irish pipe shown above. Always hoping that no IRA men who know tobacco are near.

Of course, if Alfred Dunhill were still alive, he'd be outraged that I'm enjoying his fine flake in an Irish thing. Old Alfred was rather a bigoted chap, a snob and a parvenu.

In all honesty, I doubt very much that I'd get along with Mr. Dunhill. A fine chap, I suppose and all things considered, and his shop made very good pipes.
But he himself had flaws.
The tobacco products which bear his name are excellent.
Even though made by a different manufacturer.
Still deservedly praised.

NOTE: It must be mentioned, by the way, that the Dark Flake under the Dunhill name bears no resemblance to the product available in the eighties, being actually almost identical to Petersen and Sorensen's 'Tradition', which disappeared from the market well over a decade ago.

Possibly Orlik and Kohlhase & Kopp decided that since they had contractual rights to make and distribute Dunhill tobaccos, they might as well run a suitable darker flake up the flagpole and see if there were any nibbles. But it's good stuff.

Perfumy and autumnal.
Good after tea.


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Even though I shall not have any turkey on Thanksgiving this year -- same as every damned year for over a decade, and turkey plus trimmings were a rarity for most of the time since my early twenties anyhow -- one thing that comes to mind is that dry inedible Protestant wattle bird would be nice with a decent gravy.

A variation on the 'Fish Flavoured Egg Plant' sauce that your relatives may be familiar with from Jewish Christmas. If they have good restaurants there.
I've heard that in The Big Apple folks live mainly on pizza, wieners, and bagels. Plus museum quality cheesecake. And in some other parts of the country there's too much barbecue for an appreciation of good cooking to flourish.

But anyway.


Six to ten garlic cloves, minced.
Equivalent amount of ginger, minced.
Three scallions, minced.
Three fresh hot peppers, minced.
Half a cup sherry or rice wine.
Three TBS hot bean paste (辣豆瓣酱 'laat dau-baan jeung').
Three TBS soy sauce.
Three TBS fragrant black vinegar (鎮江香醋 'jan-gong heung-cho').
One TBS of chili-garlic sauce.
A teaspoon of sugar.
Cooking oil.
A brisk dash dark sesame oil (芝麻油 'ji maa yau') or chili-oil (辣椒油 'laat chiu yau').

Innovation: one cup of good chicken stock, and a tablespoon of corn starch whisked with two tablespoons of luke-warm water. This way there will be enough for multiple servings of bird.

Heat a pan with the cooking oil, and dump the garlic, ginger, scallion, and chili into it. Stirfry till the fragrance rises and the garlic is golden. Splash the sherry into the hot pan, let it flame, then mix everything else in, and continue, stirring as you go. Add more water if necessary, when it's done decant to a gravy boat.

Instead of having turkey I shall probably sulk.

PS.: I really wanted to title this post "What You Can Do With Your Dry Breasts", but that might be risqué, and I don't want to offend people.

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Saturday, November 21, 2020


My apartment mate, being a purist on the noodle front, has only once experimented with kugel. And that was it. She rather disapproves of white people doing unorthodox things with nature's most perfect food, as I am wont to do. Like making a typical Dutch Indo Bami Goreng.

I've tried explaining the hallowed history of kugel, from fruit and starch compôtes of the late mediaeval period to the filling noodly dishes using Eastern European pastas of the present, but no matter. Indian sevian desserts leave her cold (and, in truth, I find them a little bizarre too, and not quite to my liking).

Being a Dutchman, I have a fondness for 'perenkugel', which apparently only gets made in Amsterdam. Basically a huge amount of sugar-simmered pear with a boiled baby on top.

[A boiled baby is an old-fashioned suet pudding. The name reflects the English distaste for good things. It's a boiled dessert which often contains sultanas, served with a sweet cream sauce. If made with raisins or sultanas, it is actually Spotted Dick. Imagine a large glob of cooked sweet dough. If such a product serves instead as the fundament on which preserves are spread (a jam roly-poly), it's often called a Dead Man's Arm Pudding.]

But noodle kugels are more common nowadays.

Here are two recipes I originally posted nine years ago. They're suitable for Thanksgiving, and probably a good idea if you have relatives coming over. Which I don't. Never do. Thanksgiving has for years been something to endure and get over with, often entirely by myself, and in pre-pandemic times while avoiding drinking establishments entirely, because of the joyous drunks happily boasting about what a splendid feast they had. But they did not have kugel, so their celebration was superficial and hollow, and only showed off what selfish pricks they were.


Half a pound fine or medium noodles.
Half a cup sugar.
Quarter cup oil.
One teaspoon ground pepper.
Quarter teaspoon salt.
Three eggs, slightly beaten.
Preheat your oven at 350 degrees.

Cook the noodles till tender in a large pot of salted water. Drain and cool.
Heat the oil and carefully add the half of the sugar. When the sugar turns colour (caramelizes), remove from heat and stir to keep it from burning, then promptly add the noodles, remaining sugar, salt, and pepper, and mix together. When it is cold enough, mix in the eggs. Gloop it all into a greased pyrex dish, and place it in the oven for an hour or so, till gilded and crisped on top.

The amount of pepper can be increased. Raisins can be added but are not orthodox. Note that perfect caramel is a beautiful ruddy hue, whereas anything noticeably darker verges on burnt. Let it sit for while before serving.


Half a pound fine or medium noodles.
Half a cup sugar.
Two cups (1 pint) sour cream.
Two cups (16 fl.oz) applesauce.
Quarter cup raisins.
Pinches cinnamon, dry ginger, ground cardamom, salt.
4 eggs, slightly beaten.

Cook the noodles till tender in a large pot of salted water. Drain and cool.
Mix all ingredients together. Gloop it all into a greased pyrex dish. Dot with butter.
place it in the oven for an hour or so.
Three hundred and fifty degrees.

Please note that I shan't be doing any of this on Thanksgiving, and in fact have no plans whatsoever for the holiday.

As a descendant of Nieuw Amsterdammers, with an ancestral background of Calvinism, and fluency in the Dutch language, I find anything celebrating the puritans distasteful. I cannot find myself in turkey (a miserable bird) and the savage heretics who couldn't even read their own language well, and refused to integrate into the only European society worth a damn at the time, or even get along with literate people. Pumpkin pie is nasty, by the way.

Perhaps I'll be sneering.


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Friday, November 20, 2020


What does a normal man do on a cold evening when the bus is late and he cannot go to Chinatown because all the shops will be closed by the time he gets there? He returns home and fixes himself lunch: a nice hot cup of tea, and a large plate of bami goreng.
Noodles, veggies, meat scraps, and yellow curry paste.
Plus sambal. No fried egg.

[Bami: (肉麵) a Hokkien Chinese, Indonesian, Dutch, and Surinamese word for wheat noodles which stand up well to brisk hot treatment. I did not have kwetiau (粿條), which could also have been used. Kwetiaua goreng. Kwetiau are called 河粉 ('ho fan') in Cantonese. Sadly missing: little lovely meatballs, called bakso (肉酥) in Hokien.]

A fried egg would have made it totally Dutch
Overkill, if you ask me.

Waiting for the bus was enlivened by three barking loonies on the main drag nearby. Not one, not two, but three of them at the same time, independent of each other.

[Explanation for Dutch readers: 'a barking loony' is een luidruchtige krankzinnige medemens, zoal hier nogal veel wild loslopen. Nee, niet een Republiekein, daar hebben wij wel ander woorden voor.]

Like many people who eat alone, my cooking is based on the tastes and appetites of a normal middle-aged Dutchman.

Which was inevitable. Somewhat spicy, fatty meats, garlic - ginger - scallion, and hot sauce or sambal. Not much use of coconut milk, as the small tins are stupid and wastefull, the larger tins contain too much, and it doesn't refrigerate well. Use of ketjap manis if at hand -- and I should make some more soon -- as well as fish sauce (Three Crabs Brand).

[Dinner Wednesday: Rice pilaf with vegetables, potato, egg, and spices. Also eaten this week: cheesy bread with hot sauce. Bacon with hot sauce. Vegetables stirfried with small meats and chilies. Fish paste greens. Cheese (dabbed with hot sauce). Plus cookies.]

Recently two fellow pipe smokers had a conversation about food on my Facebook page.

Of which here are the highlights:

"Deep-fried possum with a side of poke salat. Deep-fried watermelon."

"In Scotland it would be deep-fried with sheep guts. And a Mars bar."

"A local delicacy is a 'pea fritter' a lump of mushy peas, the size of a tennis ball, battered and deep fried."

"A personal favorite is deep fried ice cream. Amazing how you can get a hot, crunchy outside and a frozen inside! Now here, yet another delicacy is similar to your pea fritter but done with corn instead. I can eat those all day (of course, I also eat grits, a delicacy available almost everywhere yet only properly cooked in the American South)."

"Biscuits and gravy."

"Grits cooked outside of the original delineations of Mason and Dixon simply aren't as good (and "grits" cooked within 100 miles of New York City are an abomination). Biscuits and gravy is a completely different level. First (and I can honestly cite reasons for this, but it's based on the flour) you must begin with Southern-baked biscuits. Then get some ground sausage and cook them up. Use the grease to make a nice, peppery gravy (I'll presume that those outside of the South know the basics of gravy production), and mix the sausage back in. Ladle it over the biscuits. Eat, and welcome to Heaven. Tell your kids to hush up, and get off my lawn."

I have no idea whether either man is married. Judging by the fact that no Dutch ingredients or foods are mentioned, my guess would be that they are, and I do know that one of them has a "younger daughter" (which implies the existence of plural gedohtra).
That could be an accident.

Shan't ask.

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Thursday, November 19, 2020


Advice I've often given: smoke gently, on the cusp of going out. The tobacco will be better if not hot-boxed, and your pipe will last longer. Rest the pipe after use, and keep it clean. Above all, avoid all flavoured mixtures, as they smoke hot and wet; and nobody really wants to reek like granddad and the pockets of moist air in his clothes as he sits by the stove drying out after tromping through the bog.

Now, if granddad habitually smoked solid Virginia flakes, or Balkan blends from reputable manufacturers, and avoided getting his clothes soggy, perhaps yes. He'll smell like strong tea and Scots whisky. Perhaps with a hint of lavender from his sock drawer.
Satu paip baharu-dipulihkan. Menggunakannya kebanyakan untuk Solani 633.

Currently experimenting with the good sludge. That being pipe carbon harvested during reaming a caked-up briar, finely ground, mixed with alcohol and a miniscule amount of sugar, to be used for augmenting cake, or repairing fisures in the layers inside of used pipes. The sugar acts as both stabiliser and adhesive, but one should not use too much when putting up a new batch of sludge; while sugar easily reduces to pure carbon if burnt, one does not want bubbly caramel inside the pipe. Apply a thin film over the risky spot, let it dry for an hour or two, then dust the inside of the bowl with tobacco powder, and let the pipe sit for a day or two before smoking a half bowl to final-cure the wall. Repeat once or twice if absolutely necessary.

Many pipe restorers have little jars of ashes and scraped carbon in their homes, labelled as to fineness, composition, provenance. Anything that isn't hard science is usually neurosis.

From a letter to a friend in Boston:
All in all I'm doing well. Maintaining my sanity by drawing pipes and Chinatown (see photo albums in Facebook), the apartment mate is keeping sane by channelling the stuffed turkey vulture and the little she-sheep (who is fiercely keeping the others in line), and our landlady downstairs is obsessing over new sources of buttery pastries.
Tobacconists are also doing rather well, because if you can't go anywhere to eat or drink, you can still head to the compost heap at the end of the garden, light up, and thus achieve peace and quiet away from the family. So I expect that some people will invest in warm outdoor clothing a lot this year.

My uncle and aunt in Canada survived a bout of covid earlier this year, and my aunt is now suffering from cabin fever because there's nothing to do, and nowhere to go. Both of them are deep into their nineties, by the way, and full of piss and vinegar.

The friend to whom the letter was sent lives on the top floor of a building which I fondly imagine looks like the mansion in the Adams Family illustrations, with I believe felines, and a lovely pipe collection. The weather in Boston is probably miserable. During the first winter he was there the roof gave way, and he shivered in the frigid wintry blasts, putting up with the harsh conditions because he needed a space to smoke his pipe and work in peace, far away from the howling non-smokers baying for his blood. It is currently forty degrees Fahrenheit there now.

It's eleven degrees in Calgary.

In solidarity with friends and relatives in beastly parts of the world, I shall shortly have a cup of tea, so comforting in miserable weather, then head out for another pipefull. In lieu of a compost heap or its immediate vicinity, it will be the public street. Which also smells. The tobacco will hide that somewhat. The upper elevations of Nob Hill aren't quite as bad anyway.

I'm thinking Doblone D'Oro. Rather like the old Three Nuns.
Not at all like antique codgers with soggy clothes.
Though equally old-fashioned.


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As frequent readers should know by now, I live in the same apartment as a person who is NOT a vegetarian or vegan, likes food, and is inordinately fond of crustaceans. Crabs, lobsters (very especially lobsters) and others of that ilk. And in enumerating these characteristics, what has been perfectly described is a Cantonese woman.

As anyone who has been exposed to the type recognizes.

Normal Cantonese women like crabs and lobsters.

If the space aliens land in Chinatown, they will be eaten. Flying saucers are wok-shaped. I sure hope our visitors from planet hickimajigger have taken note, and realize how incredibly dangerous this planet is; we have cantonese women!
They're all over the place. Except Antarctica.
Go to frozen places, space aliens.
It's safe there.
Walking her crabs is something that ONLY a Chinese woman would do.

From this we can deduce not only that space aliens have visited Earth, but are at this very moment training a vast penguin army to take over and impose civilization. Pretty soon we will be on leashes, being walked through the streets like so many domesticated animals.
Fed yummy treats if we're good. Or punished if we skitter.
You can blame Cantonese women for that.

As a side note, I always give my crabs or lobsters names while they're in the sink, before dumping them in the boiling water to cook. As a tribute to their loveable personalities.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2020


It stands to reason that once they've escaped from those wretched Harry Potter wannabees, owls develop a calm and more phlegmatic character. With the habits of more mature individuals.
A friend in Florida may disagree with this bird's choice of tobacco, given that he hates Cyprian Latakia. And I myself no longer smoke blends containing it often. But Latakia goes great with Lapsang Souchong Tea, as well as Scots Whisky. Which, being a contemplative sort, this owl (Athene Noctua) would probably prefer.

Athene Noctua (the common Little Owl) is largely nocturnal. So he swills lots of tea, staying up till all hours of the night, habituating places where a dram of single malt may also be enjoyed.

As is fitting for calm phlegmatic mature individuals, Athene Noctua strongly tends to vote for the Democratic ticket. As any rational person would expect.

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"Most people don't act like you; you're acting black in a white neighborhood!" To which the rational response, naturally, would be "back off, get the fudge off my property, and stop talking, Karen". And, as it turns out, the Karen in question was raised in Oklahoma City, where there are tonnes of black people, so by implication she can't be racist.

Kudos to the black family for NOT bashing Karen's little pinhead to a bloody pulp and skinning the corpse. Which of course would also be a very rational response.
Karen is holding a fluffy poodle while talking, by the way.
It's a very white thing to do.

Also, she does not appear to be wearing a mask. Which is another very white thing. Being white and carrying a poodle will not protect anyone from Covid, as many white people would assume. Some of us would call that negligent attempted murder, and bash her little pinhead to a pulp and skin the corpse -- a natural defensive manoeuvre when confronted by dangerous Karen behaviour, such as not wearing a mask -- but we don't want to upset the poodle. Such creatures, if attuned to Karens, tend to get both weepy and vicious, like their owners.
The Karen on the videotape from ABC7 News (Adana Dean, in Discovery Bay, Contra Costa County), believes that a two year old pitt bull is more dangerous and more offensive, and requires a stun gun (and a poodle), than not wearing a mask, maintaining proper social distance, and minding her own damned business.

The fact that she brought a toy poodle and a stun gun to a confrontation speaks volumes.

I am not going to talk about that overweening sense of White Privilege. That has already been addressed innumerable times, and will continue to be addressed. Instead, I am going express the wish that such people stop showing their ass in public, and stop being such a damned embarrassment to the rest of us.

Stop acting so white.

Ya twit.

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Fifty years ago authorities, faced with a whale of a problem, decided to use a straightforward solution to clear matters up; they dynamited the cadaver. Thus leading to A) a rain of terror; and B) a news video that speaks to men to this day. The background is that a deceased cetacean had washed ashore, and the remains were becoming a nuisance.
And dynamite, as so often, seemed an appropriate answer.

[Right here is where the video would be, if I felt like it. But you've probably already seen it numerous times, and if you're a vegan I do not want to trigger you. Well, actually I do, but not this way.]

The footage of the event is part of popular culture, and provided a cheerful festive break from grimmer news reportage. Especially because it showed a confident brightly modern approach to an age-old problem.

"High tech is potent, precise, and in the end, unbeatable. The truth is, it reminds a lot of people of the way I pitch horseshoes."
------ George H.W. Bush

It is likely that far more men have watched the tape obsessively than women. 'Stinky thing go boom' has male fantasy written all over it, and the visuals appeal to the little boy in all of us.

Having tied the quote by our forty first president to that event, I am now reminded of several more wonderful quotes -- word magic of stupendous proportion -- that might be as or more appropriate, from the same source:

"And let me say in conclusion, thanks for the kids. I learned an awful lot about bathtub toys, about how to work the telephone. One guy knows, several of them know their own phone numbers, preparation to go to the dentist. A lot of things I'd forgotten. So it's been a good day."

"Please just don't look at the part of the glass, the part that is only less than half full."

"If a frog had wings, he wouldn't hit his tail on the ground; too hypothetical."

There's a zen-like dreaminess there. I wish I had something profound to say, that would weave all of this into a gestalt, but it's impossible. All there is, is a sense of wonder, amusement, and non-sequitorial perfection.

We had a country once that could send whales skyward.

It was indeed a kinder, gentler age.

Morning in america.

Final note: one plus one equals three. For large values of one.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2020


One of the things I fondly remember from a year ago, when I got out of the hospital, was heading over to Cafe New Honolulu (新品味 'san pan mei', 850 Stockton Street, SF, CA 94108) for bitter melon omelette over rice, with tonnes of hot sauce. That and Hong Kong milk tea got me back on my feet again, after recovering from an exploding appendix and immediately subsequent operation to remove the offensive organ.

There is no way to restore a malfunctioning appendix. Fortunately, it is useless, and the loss of it, if handled by trained professionals, will not be lamented.

[Bitter melon omelette over rice: 涼瓜煎蛋飯 'leung gwaa jin daan faan'. Hong Kong milk tea: 港式奶茶 'kong sik naai cha']

Oh yeah, I also had self-induced food poisoning five weeks after the hospital stay. So I lost a lot of weight between mid-July and September. It was an interesting period.
And I'm a rather scrawny fellow now.

In lieu of bittermelon omelette over rice, which is what I'd really like to have today, I fixed myself chopped mustard omelette with a big wedge of cheesy bread. Also good. Plus lots of sambal.

Followed by a slow smoke; flake in a Canadian made by Comoy probably older than myself.
Read while listening to the drip drip of rain, and searching on the internet to find out if the nasty orange turd ball has conceded yet. He hadn't this morning, it's unlikely that he matured much in the seven hours since then. Our president's child like innocence is a major drag at this point, and it's sad that nearly half the country enthusiastically enables him.

There is a large part of this country I do not wish to ever visit. Friends have said that one really must travel all over America to understand the people and know what the United States is all about, but judging from their voting patterns, the increase in hate crimes, ghastly food on the internet, methamphetamine statistics, and their religious practices, that would be a roadtrip to hell. I am not a masochist. And you don't want me angry behind the wheel while trying to get the heck out of Texas or Georgia. Besides, the Bay Area is like a catch drain, in consequence of which I've met every kind of American right here in San Francisco.
They eat too much, smell bad, and dress funny.

Even thinking about motoring through trailerparkistan fills me with the sound of banjos.
Tea time later. Another pipe. Perhaps a Charatan.
Filled with something ancient.
And very English.


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