Sunday, February 28, 2021

WHY IS DINNER CELADON HUED?

A dish at one of San Francisco's finest restaurants back in the sixties had chicken cooked in a champagne and blue Curaçao reduction, with peeled grapes, and cream. Sliced orange as a garnish. It was considered elegant, rather than unappealing and visually repellent.
A greyish blue green.

If I myself weren't white, I would sneer at it as something only white people would do.


Blue Curaçao is made from the fragrant oils of a particular kind of bitter orange distilled with alcohol and E133 Brilliant Blue food colouring, a chemical that also has medical laboratory uses, and is widely considered safe.
What's missing, clearly, are olives and pineapple slices.
Strong cocktails beforehand, to steel your nerves.
And cherries jubilee afterwards.

Strong TIKI cocktails.


Drinks garnished with both red and green maraschino cheries


If I had been finely dining in the early sixties, I should have been a refugee.



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THE FEATHERED GUY TOLD ME TO DO IT!

Dinner last night: soft-scrambled eggs with meaty bits and chopped vegetables, spices, chilies. And a zesty sambal comprised of fish flavoured substances with Sriracha. Followed by some chocolate candy, a chocolate fudge cookie and a stroop wafel. And a cup of coffee. After which, a walk and a smoke. Yes, I shared my repast with the ravenous turkey vulture.
Who was argumentative and insisted that nobody had fed him.
My apartment mate testified that he had been fed.
He had devoured half of her soup!
He still looked full.

Of all the stuffed animals, he is the most passionate about food.


I did not tell him that I've seen his wild kin circling over parts of Marin over the salt marshes and the freeway. He'd insist on being taken to work with me if I did. Then tell me that some of the cigar smokers there needed to be corpsified. And while I'd agree with him, one cannot just whack people who should be dead and make them so. The authorities frown upon that.

I would rather argue with a turkey vulture than with John Law.


That way lies madness. Or at least quicksand.



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Saturday, February 27, 2021

SAUCE FOR REFERENCE PURPOSES ONLY

Probably the only worthwhile culinary use for pineapple, other than upside-down cake, is as an ingredient in a tangy meat and vegetable soup, or incorporated into a tangy sweet-sour sauce for fried seafood (especially large salt and pepper prawns) and (coated) deep-fried tofu on a bed of blanched mustard cabbage.


THE SAUCE FOR DEEP FRIED SOYBEAN CAKE

Four cups tomato juice.
One cup water.
One cup chopped pineapple (canned is okay).
Four TBS sambal oelek or chili-garlic sauce.
One or two shallots, chopped.
Two or three cloves garlic.
Two TBS tomato paste.
A hefty dash fish sauce.

Simmer for an hour on low heat. Strain, pushing some of the solids through the sieve.
If necessary further simmer till gravy-like but still pourable. Use warm for a dip or dressing with a plate of fried seafood, large fried tofu chunks (tau kwe), and blanched vegetables.


The refined hostess will also serve buttered toast points alongside.
And have serviettes and finger bowls at the ready.
Being rather the opposite of the refined hostess, I'm perfectly happy with sambal mixed with a little ketchup for a fried seafood dip. As you can probably imagine, pineapple seldom appears at my table. Except sometimes on pizza.

Sambal with a little oyster sauce and a squeeze of lemon is also good.

In fact, if a can of pineapple chunks were to find its way to my larder, my apartment mate might suspect that I've taken leave of my senses. She already thinks I'm dangerously close to the edge, and there is no reason to convince her that I've finally plunged into the pit.





By the way: no one in their right mind, unless they're planning an upside down cake, should buy a pineapple. Even if it's canned and fits in so well with their nuclear fall-out shelter life-style and décor. It would be taking their dysfunction to an extreme if they did.
The Bloody Mary was invented with children in mind.
Children just purely love pineapple.
We do not follow their lead.
Or lousy taste.



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Friday, February 26, 2021

A MAN IN A WHITE COAT

In another several weeks I shall see my doctor for a regularly scheduled appointment. And I am well-prepared for that. I plan to derail the conversation as soon as he brings up smoking, which as a medical man and himself a former smoker, he naturally hates. It's a subject that must always crop up. As a medicated man and a smoker, this does not quite satisfy me.

But I'm an expert at changing the subject. Plus I'm armed. In a manner of speaking.
I know his cultural and ethnic derivation, and where he's from.
And we have languages in common.

And food. Soto, Teng Teng, Bika Ambon, Lap Tsai (腊菜). A savoury mixed meat stew with a potato croquette served with rice, a candy brittle made with nuts, a dense pandan-flavoured tapioca sponge cake, and the local version of lotek, with fried prawns and tofu added.
Plus deliciously greasy Minangkabau and Karo sepcialties.
And, naturally, peanut sauce.
Plus sambal.

There was a Japanese POW camp there, in the harbour. Civilians and military (Dutch, British, Australian) were separated by a barbed wire fence. They were tasked with loading munitions and matériel, later many were forced to work on the railway line through the jungle that was never completed. In 1944 British forces torpedoed ships carrying prisoners, sinking them.
In 1945, the Japanese executed most of the remaining Dutch officers.


Both my doctor and I are far too young to have experienced any of that. He's considerably younger than I am (at least I think so; his skin will not age quite the way mine will), and his parents or grandparents probably did not speak much about those years.

We shall not discuss those things. Or the struggle for independence afterwards.
These are sensitive subjects, quite unlike medicine.
But food, on the other hand ...



There is some lovely roast duck (燒鴨 'siu ngaap') within a block of the hospital, great with rice, cooked yauchoi, and just buckets of sambal. I'm sure he'll understand.




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Thursday, February 25, 2021

SOME PARTS ARE STILL GREEN

Some of the pleasantest and strangest times of my life were spent between Dwinelle Hall and Shakespeare Books. Also some of the most intense moments, as well as the quietest. It is wondrous how silent a fully crowded cafe is when one is reading. With a strong coffee and a pipe. Other people are huffing Gaulloise cigarettes, roaring their conversations, eating cold meat and fried pastries, but it's just you and James Joyce.
An island of peaceful murmering on a June day.
And Molly Bloom, big with seed.
What did I learn during those years? Well, I started to learn that I am not a pleasant fellow, and that mechanical and architectural drafting are essential skills. Also that when you speak a foreign language in public someone will tell you to go back. Sambal is a way of life. So is the search for sweet soy sauce, frikandel, and herring (you can concoct the first yourself, approximate the second, and might as well forget about the third).

[Sweet soy sauce: Ketjap Manis. Available from some Asian grocers that cater to 'Ollanders and people from the Indonesian Archipelago. It's an essential ingredient, but a version can be made at home. Take equal parts sugar and good soy sauce. Dissolve the sugar in a little water and cooking sherry over the heat, stir the soy sauce into the mix, and simmer till the liquid starts foaming up. Let cool, and bottle. To prevent the sugar from crystalizing or precipitating out, add a dash of vinegar or strained lime juice. The result should be almost like syrup. Used both condimentally and as a flavouring ingredient. A faintly burnt hint in the taste is desirable.]


The beginning of a semblance of maturity starts in those years, but for some reason (Aspergers) it takes several years longer than anyone else to reach that stage.
Mistakes will be made along the way.

I am somewhat more tolerable than I was then, calmer, and maybe more sensible.
But I'm still making mistakes. Though slightly fewer than before.


I've achieved complexity, but I lack depth.


The pipe shown below is one of the first decent briars I acquired. It was in a showcase at the local tobacconist, and eventually it become my fondest new possession.
When I smoke it nowadays I remember things.
Touch, smell, and grain patterns bring stuff back.
There's just something about certain shapes.
Spring, sunlight, new growths.



TOBACCO INDEX


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Wednesday, February 24, 2021

THE DECORATIVE COMMAND POST

Wherever they went, imperialists attempted to impose order. The world, as they saw it, was in need of rectalinearity, parallelism, and roads. Well, except for the French, who prefered circular reasoning, drug induced tropic stupour, and rough tobacco. The Dutch and the English, however, were more rigid. The Northern European brain shrivels at chaos.

Nothing is as indicative of that as traffic regulations. Which are sometimes hard to comprehend when the medium almost requires rampant opportunism if one wishes to get past the elephants.

In areas of the colonial world one can still find the intersection kiosks where stern taskmasters, as trained by the Londonian bureaucrat, used to stand, directing the vehicular anarchists, from a raised and shaded perch.
That they were crisply dressed and starched, and had good posture, went without saying. One must above all set a good example for the riotous repressed subjects. It was the only way they would learn!

Except for the somewhat ridiculous pagoda roof, the structure could be set anywhere. Burma, East Africa, the Caribbean ....


Significantly, such edifices existed nowhere in Europe, the British Isles, or North America. It is highly likely that the natives there would have torched them, in scenes of public inebriation, misbehaviour, and vulgarity.

Probably after a local sports team praestation.


They've largely disappeared in Hong Kong.
As have the British themselves.



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ALL THREE COULD BE IMPROVED WITH GARLIC, FISH PASTE, AND MINCED SCALLION

There is more going on in the world than Tiger Woods' car wreck or Lawrence Ferlinghetti dying. Alas, the news feeds are quite unaware of that. I am not vested in Tiger Woods, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti's poetry is overrated, especially among intellectuals in San Francisco.
I cannot feel sad about either event. For one thing, I don't give a flying congress about golf. And Mr. Ferlinghetti was old.


CHERRY TOMATOES?!?
---Che brutto!---


A distant third item on the news is the New York food maven who did something "heretical" with Carbonara sauce, and Italians are in an uproar. Let's face it, many sauces NEED garlic and shrimp paste, plus minced scallion added at the end of cooking.
Oh, and go ahead: use bacon.

Extra thick Carbonara sauce: great for hamburgers.

It's totally the breakfast of champions.

Instead of Tiger Woods.

Blue cheese.


Once again: no flying congress about golf. It's an utterly ridiculous game of bougie pretendeurs chasing a little white ball pretending they're athletes, often followed by cocktails away from the masses among equally like-mindless types. And weird togs.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti: great bookstore, dude.
That poetry? Um, whatever.



And chopped green chilies. Seriously.
Cherry tomatoes are good too.
A light bright tang.



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Tuesday, February 23, 2021

INTELLECTUAL SUBSTANCES

Lunch today, late as usual, and typical of a Dutchman: Nasi goreng. It's almost the national dish of the Netherlands, in countless mediocre versions. Fried rice, Indonesian style, as no Indonesian would ever know. And infinitely variable. Cooked rice recycled in a skillet or wok with spiced meat, vegetables, and often onion, chilies, fish paste. The vegetable in this case was fresh green chilies, extra ginger added. Plus fatty meat. Some ground coriander seed, some green stuff, dollop of sambal on top. Quick, easy, and quite decent tasting.

The stuffed turkey vulture like it too.
Unlike what followed.
Astley's No. 109 medium flake in an Irish Zulu.
Rich deep purples, pale Sienna pink hues.
Dramatic grain, two-tone finish.


The turkey vulture, though an opportunist inclined to seize my wallet and some of my prized possessions, has no clue how to use them.
A pipe, for instance, is NOT for clubbing other creatures over the noggin. And a wallet is not an egg, or something he can give to the she-sheep to make her like him. He's rather naive on this and several other scores.


The pipe material, like many of my favourite woods, is not native to the Netherlands (and neither am I, as I was born in California of Anglo-Netherlandish stock long settled in the New World). Briar (good for smoking pipes), eagle wood (gaharu, which when spalted yields an ethereal and intoxicating incense), spalted tamarind (very decorative and elegant), kamuning mas (murraya paniculata, a shrub that produces fragrant sticky white flowers - the wood is beautifully variegated golden in hue), teak (柚木 'yau muk'; two ancient Hong Kong boxes of staved teak in the bookshelves), kamagong (hard dark timber, native to tropical rainforests in S.E. Asia), po'ok angsane (紫檀木 'ji taan muk'; sometimes called Amboyna or Padauk) ....
Und so noch viele weiter.

Briar (erica arborea) is perfect for smoking equipment; it endures heat and moisture better than many other woods, and has only the mildest flavour of its own to contribute. All modern smoking mixtures are geared toward the interplay of tobacco and briarwood.
Plus it's aesthetically pleasing.



TOBACCO INDEX


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THE PERFUMED PRESENT: YESTERDAY

After finishing my breakfast (which was actually a late lunch or early dinner), I loaded up a pipe and headed out to irritate the neighborhood nonsmokers. Which is not exactly a crusade, but something I do because I cannot smoke inside on a day when my apartment mate is home, as the dear lady is a non-smoker, and hugely hates the smell of tobacco.

If you are not wearing a mask and on the public street, near enough to smell my pipe, you are fair game as well as too damned close during pandemic times. I also have a stick, in case you approach. I am friendly toward little children, dogs, and women who don't object to my smells.
The acacia trees at the end of the block are in bloom. Shouldn't you be sneezing?

The pipe above is one I bought at a tobacconist which no longer exists, years ago. That was when I still did credit and collections at a company downtown, which is also long gone.


The Zulu, or Bent Albert, as it also called (named Mycroft in the Sherlock Holmes series of commemorative pipes by Petersons of Dublin), was, back in the age of empire, also called a 'kaffir', which is an objectionable term the British picked up from the South Africans. It is one of the most erotic of pipe shapes, sensuous, sinuous, oozing a non-gender based and mostly aesthetic sexuality. A smoker that radiates "come hither, big briar, ooh!"

This is somewhat at odds with my character.
I am not effete or self-indulgent.
Almost spartan of taste.


What I had had for my late lunch was a curry containing mustard cabbage, potato, sausage, lardoons, fish paste, plenty of ginger, fresh green chilies, red chili paste, yellow curry paste, shrimp paste pre-fried with spices, and a small amount of lemon grass. Next to a mound of rice, and a cup of strong coffee. I pride myself on my ability to blend spices and flavourings.
It was a dish of haunting richness, yet surprising delicacy.


Hot coffee, with a hint of cardamom.


Followed by a medium dark flake, nicely aged tobacco.
Altogether a lovely two hours, more or less.
Richly evocative of golden memory.



TOBACCO INDEX


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Monday, February 22, 2021

TEXAS; FABULOUS WINTERSPORTS, CLOSE TO CANCUN

After so much adulation for handing out water recently, Ted Cruz plans to fly to Puerto Rico and dispense rolls of paper towels. Then, California for climate consultation. It's part of the Republican discovery of Public Service as a path to respect.

Additionally, cross-country skiing is the new state sport in Texas.

They'll be handing out college scholarships for it.

No blacks or Mexicans need apply.



Actually, they can apply, but it's largely pointless, because Texan universities would like star athletes to accurately reflect the ethnic and cultural groups of their corporate sponsors. So most of them should be lily-effing-white and butch-ass male like you wouldn't believe. And Christian. Just like the Republican Party, where minorities are useful for the argument of inclusion, but otherwise merely decorative.



The whole country loves and admires Texas.
We envy them their brilliant bigness.
Oh gosh golly yes!




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Sunday, February 21, 2021

AND YOU MISSED IT!

Yesterday was, apparently, International Pipe Smoking Day. Totally unaware of it, I smoked my pipes. Everyday is pipe smoking day. And I should mention that while I have finally become aware that Tuesday is for tacos, I do not observe it. Everyday is Taco Tuesday if you're so inclined, and "outside the land, it's a two day festival" (some readers won't get this).

I do not celebrate Saint Patrick's Day or Cinco De Mayo either.


Almost any reason can be found for drunkeness.
This is Amurika, we'll invent one.


For me the only "day" worth celebrating is National Donut Day (the first Friday in June AND on November Fifth), on both of which we hail the stupendous Dutch American contribution to widespread Anglo obesity.
Perhaps a fit occasion for a cocktail?

And there's a drink for that.




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Saturday, February 20, 2021

PACKAGED SNACKS: BACHELOR KIBBLE

A friend posted several pictures of his prize pipes, with disparaging comments about them, possibly trying to remain humble and aw shucks. Some commenters twitted him about the mess in which he placed them. He reacted by suggesting that it was an ironic gestalt.
Like many crusty old bachelors in the forty five plus bracket, he relies on prepackaged snackipoos for casual eating. His response included a far neater picture, with an intellectual tome prominently in the foreground, as befits a mature pipe smoking individual.

I for one am pleased that he has been persuaded to discard the empty Ding Dong wrappers, Tast-ee-cake bags, and Moonpie boxes that littered his abode, and keep everything straight and tidy. I am sure he'll grow to love the rectalinearity and regular edges, the ninety degree angles, and the crisp sharp corners and boxes that are now dominating his life.
A picture, to honour his new commitment to order!


My dinner last night was two chocolate hazelnut cookies, three dark chocolate biscott, and a strong cup of coffee. Because I didn't feel like cooking at all after coming home. My apartment mate, a female bachelor of Cantonese ancestry, had a bag of potato chips while watching earwax extraction (her latest fascination) videos from our British cousins (Durham Hearing Specialists), while oohing and aahing over the substances housed in British ears.
The English, as you know, have a thing for baked beans.

English bachelors who are over forty five are rather fastidious.
As their photos on the internet make clear.
Especially pipesmokers.

All of this may have had an influence on my lack of appetite.
British earwax, OR baked beans, are not conducive.
This is just a statement of fact.
I'm over forty five.



Durham used to house the shrine of Saint Cuthbert, until the king ordered it razed to ground, despoiled, plundered, and utterly destroyed in 1538. Of such things history is made.

While on Lindisfarne, Cuthbert authored legislation protecting ducks.



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Friday, February 19, 2021

THE IMAGINARY FEAST

The turkey vulture keenly wants a Nesselrode Pudding for after noshing on imaginary little girl hamster. Which is just not going to happen. Even though I know what goes into a Nessselrode. Sweetened chestnut puree. Rum soaked raisins and currants. Candied orange peel.
Custard cream. Dash of cherry liquer. And some gelatine to stiffen it up.

People don't eat like that anymore, and only a cad would consume an imaginary little girl hamster who comes to visit each day. She's a welcomed guest, not an amuse bouche.

Sometimes Nesselrode is served as a bombe glacée. Sometimes à la Muscovite.
The epicurean Muscovite

Meatballs in a Port wine reduction with tarragon, asparagus with crumbled salted egg yolk and garlic butter, sourdough toast points. Green Goddess salad.
And a delicious Nesselrode Pudding to follow the meal.
Followed by coffee and small cigars.



Yes, I think the little fellow would like that. He could PRETEND that the meatballs were little hamster tykes. But sadly I know of no place in San Francisco where I could take the turkey vulture for dinner. There are completely none. His expectations must be dashed.
Because, of course, these are pandemic times.



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Thursday, February 18, 2021

APPARENTLY THEY DON'T ALL LOOK ALIKE

Yesterday the Oakland Police arrested a Chinese shopkeeper for using a gun to prevent a robbery. Now, given that I have long despised Oakland, that does not surprise me. Oakland is a hellhole, a toxic pit. And crime against Asians has spiked enormously over the last year with the police (chief LeRonne Armstrong) and city council (mayor Libby Schaaf) seemingly quite powerless to stop it.

The police encourage people not to buy guns.

The police will protect them.


dot    dot     dot


What's amazing is that the authorities knew within minutes which Oriental person had fired a gun. No, they didn't catch the robber, who was not identified and escaped in a vehicle.
But really, it could have been anybody. Who wasn't Chinese.


"Our message really is that we don’t want to see our business owners or others begin to arm themselves. We would really prefer them to be good witnesses and give us the observations that they have; share that information, call law enforcement immediately and let OPD respond and follow up. What we really don’t want to do is bring any additional issues that threaten safety into the equation."
------Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong


Oakland is a very diverse city, with African Americans, Caucasians, and Hispanics in roughly equal number. The Asian community is about eighteen percent of the total. Chinatown has seen a rapid uptick in violence and robberies, as the African Americans, Caucasians, and Hispanics, turn on their fellow citizens.
One factor that bears on this: many of the victims have been elderly people. The general population is younger, and more mobile. And African American, Caucasian, and Hispanic.

Nothing to see here folks, just move along.



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PERFECT TOFU SCRAMBLE

The first walk outside with a pipe each day is better than the last one the previous night. The reason being, of course, that San Francisco is stranger at night than at dawn. Early in the morning the crazy people are asleep; all that shows that they were active is the detritus they left behind. How unpleasant it would be if the weirdoes were morning people.

Maybe they are, and are doing yoga in their apartments while watching spiritual videotapes. Before having a nutritious Vegan breakfast preceding their bowel movements.
I really shouldn't make fun of their bowel movements. Those are necessary. It keeps the world turning. Along with all the methane they produce. Fibres!

For me, a Vegan breakfast is not part of the plan. The last thing I ate was a cookie after an early dinner, which was nasi goreng. Cooked rice fried with veggie bits, meats, shrimp paste, coconut curry, and an egg. I may have taunted the egg before putting it in the pan.
Because I am a cruel and heartless man.
It died for my pleasure.

Eggs are, in fact, perfect nutrition.


Maybe I should have an omelette for lunch.
With shrimp, cheese, and ham.




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Wednesday, February 17, 2021

RUSH LIMBAUGH, DESERVEDLY DEAD; THE SOB LIVED TOO LONG

The good news today is that Rush Hudson Limbaugh died. Many people on the internet are now saying 'de mortuis nil nisi bonum', one mustn't gloat, it's bad form to speak ill of the poor man, a great American, and similar gentle things. Which are absolute nonsense.
If anyone deserved to die, it was that odious poltroon.


I am not a hypocrite; I detested that man and am overjoyed he died suffering for months as the disease ate away at him. In the words of a good friend: "Some will mourn him, I'm sure. I won't. I want to know where they bury him so I can shit on his grave." How delicious that his burial plot will be a unisex toilet.


If anyone represented the absolute vilest aspect of America, assuredly Rush Limbaugh did. His toxic radio broadcasts were like little clotty seeds of pus blown into wind, poisoning hearts and minds across the country. They landed in fertile soil, and thrived there.
Rush Limbaugh was no patriot, but a festering boil.

Rush Limbaugh dying restores some light to the world.

We should celebrate his passing the same way we should have marked the death of Ronald Reagan, the way we will sing hosannas when Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump finally croak. Soon and in our days. Ecstacy, wild happiness, intemperate joy.
Champagne, a delightful feast, and dancing.




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GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE RECIPE

In the great interior, where the buffalo and cavemen roam, wearing flannel shirts and shooting liberals, people eat the darndest things. Of course I've never been there, and have no wish to go, but sometimes their cuisine fascinates me. I wrote about this earlier (Minnesota: the bleak and forbidding zone), and I may have mentioned the Texas State Fair where everything is deep-fried till mahogany on a stick. As all food is there.


The following recipe contains some ingredients I do not have in my larder. To make it, I shall have to go on Amazon. It's "comfort food".

[Normally I disapprove of comfort food. Food is not supposed to "comfort" you, dammit, but fill you with existenzangst, tiefe selbst-tzweifel, gicht, and an identitätskrise. Plus solid American values.]



GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE

Two cans (14½ oz.) green beans, drained.
One can (10½ oz.) condensed cream of mushroom soup.
One can (6 oz.) French fried onions.
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese.
Quarter cup milk.
½ Tsp. ground black pepper.
Pinch nutmeg.

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Mix cream of mushroom soup, milk and spices in a 1½ quart baking dish. Stir in green beans, add the fried onions and cheese on top, mixing slightly in. Do NOT add salt.
Bake 30 minutes till hot and crisping on top. Stir.


If this is too spicy for Midwesterners, omit pepper.
This goes well with Sriracha hot sauce.
Perhaps with rice or sour dough.


If you are health conscious, leave out the cheese. Or substitute tofu for everything.

Survival in the heartland is ALL about preventing constipation.




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TEXAS NEWS

The internet is a marvelous place. Especially the angry comment strings. Like everyone, I enjoy reading other people's pissed-offedness, if the target of said pissed-offedness is richly deserving of it.

Texas. Cold spell.


Name redacted: Consider Divine Retribution. It happens sometimes.

Name redacted: How about for electing Ted Cruz? How about for what they did back in the day with Standard Oil? They wanna secede from the Union, not just the grid? Send them packing, and let the door hit them so hard in the butt, that Galveston lands in the Gulf... because there is no climate change. Just ask Dreck Cruz.

Name redacted: I don't think people should freeze, but unlike the mayor of Colorado City, I don't think they have to fend for themselves. I believe in local governments, state governments and the federal government helping people. But Texas did it to itself, and its politicians even told their own constituents that they are on their own. But since it got bad publicity, Cruz is now on hands and knees begging the Feds for assistance. Well, if he gets it with OUR tax monies, he should be forced to pay back every single penny, and MORE with interest. BTW, who do you blame for people freezing to death in NYC? Chicago? And every other major city under storm watches and buried under 4 or 5 feet of snow? Do you think that anyone has responsibility for those people? The government does. But when a state government tells its own constituents to eat it and die, while crapping all over a president they claim is a lying pedophile vote stealer, we should greet them with open arms and give them whatever they ask for? Do you think Ted Cruz would even allow someone with health problems to get the ACA? Don't make me laugh. Nazis are nazis, even if they call themselves Republicans or the Grand Old Party. With a handful of exceptions, they are deplorable... if they weren't their electrical grid would have been built to prevent exactly what happened. But hey, F federal regulations and the federal grid, because TEXAS FOR ASSES. THIS IS HOW THEY THINK.

Name redacted: AND I SURE AS HELL DON'T OWE THEM ANYTHING, EXCEPT TO THROW CRUZ IN JAIL FOR FOMENTING THE INSURRECTION. I didn't elect that shtick dreck and the rest of those monsters. The Texans did.

Name redacted: I don't know of any other state that broke off the grid, and here in PA, I spend most of time trying to get rid of the bastards who were elected on the mail in ballots and then led the insurrection. So they get their fair share from me on a regular. And are you kidding me? We are buried under almost 4 feet of snow right this minute with another 8" due tomorrow. Do you think the county won't clear the roads? They will. But, good fascists that they are, they won't get us vaccines in a timely way, but they will clean the roads and fix the fallen wires as soon as they come down. The more dead old people, the better, according to the GOP in Harrisburg. Less unemployment and welfare to pay out. Just like Texas and other red states. Let all the poor, the old and the sick die, they say. And that is why Trump and Co. let half a million people die, esp. those in blue states. Don't forget how your grandmother, Miriam died. From Corona, in a nursing home because Trump said NY should fend for itself. Now let the people who planned that get a piece of what that feels like. But no. They go crawling on their hands and knees to Biden and BLAME THE DEMOCRATS FOR THEIR BLACK OUT.

Name redacted: Excuse me if my empathy meter is broken. After all, their moral compass hasn't worked since Ronald Reagan and Pat Buchanan put all of this into play back in the day.

Name redacted: So now I am morally bankrupt. Because the Texas government refuses to take care of its constituents and comes begging to the rest of us? You and I know damned well, the Feds will give Texas what it needs, but Texas will NOT. I repeat WILL NOT take care of the poor and minorities. They will pour everything into the big businesses and the rich, the way they always do. Have you read all of Caro's books on LBJ? He was the only Texan who ever gave a rat's ass about impoverished Texans, and the big businesses there punished him for putting the poor on the electrical grid in the first place!

Name redacted: And that's ok. When I objected to having a Black friend being called two horrible names, one for a woman and the other for a Black person, I was called a racist.

Name redacted: Texas is Texas.


Okay then. You hate Texas. Lady, we all do.

Your screed is wasted, because Texans can't read.

In other news: Rush Limbaugh is dead. De mortuis nihil nisi bonum ......
Rush Limbaugh, like most people, was up to 60% water.




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THAT'S OKAY, I'LL TAKE THEIRS

One person I know says he won't take the vaccine for Covid 19 "because I don't know what's in it, and the scientists don't know what Covid is", and another claims that every time she get the flu vaccine she has allergies. A third one gibbers about nano-chips. From which it would be logical and entirely correct to conclude that I know at least three idiots.

Their blinkered stupidity infuriates me.

All three have internet access.


In this day, it is so easy to find all the correct information on these and other subjects, requiring only the ability to read critically, that believing falsehoods and lies requires a superhuman level of density and laziness which is staggering. The "allergic" one, to the best of my knowledge, does enjoy eggs, so that reaction can be ruled right out. And there is scant evidence of any other allergies in her case anyhow.

For a while she was gluten phobic.

Two of the three are firm believers in the efficacy of apple cider vinegar, turmeric, ginger, and cayenne, to fight off any and all diseases and create states of health and well-being.


This is not a problem, but I fervently wish, and they should realize for themselves that doing so would be best, that they would shut up about medical matters.


When a person authoritatively spouts ignorant crap in one area, it throws whatever else they say into doubt. About damned well any subject. If a person is known and judged by his or her associates, that also counts for their "expertise". Strong ignorant opinions tar all conversation with them, and one should discount everything that comes out of their mouths as the rantings of a lunatic.


This was the case years ago when without being asked people would volunteer detailed information on their spirituality, since then "feelings" have taken over in many other fields. Guys, just take your ayahuasca and mushshrooms, and go sit quietly in your corner.
The world is not flat. Facts do not care about your feelings.
Your mother is not the reason.
Vaccinate.




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DEPREDATORY BANDITS

Late night reading: the history of Tsushima Island (對馬 'deui maa"), the So Clan (宗氏 'jung si'), and the Mongol Invasions (元寇 Genkou, 'yuen kau'; "Mongol Depradations"). One character which must be remembered, and promptly forgotten, is 倭。 It's a loaded term. Another term that has to crop up is the Battle of Sekigahara (關ヶ原の戰い Sekigahara no Tatakai, 'gwaan ga yuen no jin'; 海原之戰 'hoi yuen ji jin').

The general term for Mongol Depradations, in Chinese, is 蒙古征戰 ('mung gu jing jin').


Reading history is always a judgemental endeavour; losers and illiterates rarely leave records.
At least not ones that are well-thought-out, and calculated for effect.


What prompted this was a Japanese song about the Mongol defeat at Tsushima.


Neither the Japanese nor the Chinese look upon the Mongols with any great favour, and the only reason that Europeans and Americans are less jaundiced is a greater sense of distance; we consider ourselves further from their brazen effrontery.



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Tuesday, February 16, 2021

YOU ARE NEVER ALONE

Courtesy of a reader, I now know about "Duckie". Who has self-delusions of grandeur. Friends! Influence! Good looks! And not being actually a stuffed animal. Formerly white, fluffy, clean, and dressed in goggles and a super-hero cape, Duckie controls a family of humans who have hosted him for over two decades. Which is not an unusual situation, my own household has a bear, Ms. Bruin, firmly in charge of small fuzzy things, and a recent arrival, Sydney Fylbert (a turkey vulture) who is a reprobate of monumental proportion.

Plus many others. And a completely imaginary little girl hamster.
Who visits nearly every day. Best friends with the cat.

Shan't even mention the goats who come by.
Dancing buddies of the "Head sheep".

The most talkative creatures are on my apartment mate's side, ensconced in her room. From which I can sometimes hear fierce disputation among them, or squawks of outrage.


Ducky and Ira Glass: Poultry Slam, act one, fish


Naturally, as you would expect, I am the voice of sanity, reason, and balance in this apartment. Which is why I often threaten one of the furballs that I am going to tell Ms. Bruin what they've been up to. Or firmly yank my possessions back, telling someone that just because they found stuff, they cannot lay claim to ownership of it. A hammer ("we will NOT be flattening anybody, thank you!"), the magic bowl of quarters ("my laundry money!"), the hack saw ("we do not play doctor here"), and also my cherished smoking equipment. Such as Sydney Fylbert is clutching in this recent photo.
How do you intend to puff on this, when a beak is not optimum for clenching, young man?
Besides, you don't even know what kind of tobacco you prefer.
Latakia blends? Virginia Perique mixtures?
And NO smoking inside!
Not infrequently, the actions of the turkey vulture, or the froad, or even a small purplish gorilla (the "Control Monkey") leave me trembling with indignation. They all have stupendous egos, and consider themselves well nigh omnipotent.


The Control Monkey, by the way, came from the toy company where I worked for more than a decade. He lived in the Marketing Department, and those heartless bastards left him behind when we moved. So I brought him home. He's slightly dysfunctional. As you would expect from someone who was support-staff for Marketing "geniuses" for a long time.


For some reason which I've never understood, the dysfunctional ones live on my side.
Possibly because they need a mature adult in their lives, for guidance.
An eternally calm and rational 'avuncular' figure.



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I'LL GO AHEAD AND BLAME TEXAS FOR THIS

There's stuff somewhere here that I need to rediscover. In particular, I'm still searching for the little orange lacquer box I misplaced within days of taking it into my possession. I can remember thinking "I've got put this somewhere safe, where it won't attract the apartment mate's eagle eye". So I did. And now I do not know where it is. So I'll simply have to buy another one.

Couldn't really turn the place upside down for it yesterday, because the apartment mate had scheduled a mental health day. And the weather was that miserable that she didn't go out except to do necessary laundry. She's a non-smoker, so obviously I had to leave a number of times. It's damned near Texan out there. There are queers and steers gamboling in the snow, and trump supporters in a mating frenzy. Yeah, okay, slight exageration, but it's cold.

In my youth I could hack sub-zero temperatures easily. Now the only time I want to go outside is to shoot idiots saying "howdy podner" and feasting on barbecue. We don't need Texans here, piss off! And take your Texan coldness with you!
Presently I am free to do as I please. The other person has gone off to work, I've shut her door firmly, and opened the kitchen window for some air circulation, and am disporting myself with a fine briar inside. As the self-portrait above makes plain.

I had too much excitement yesterday. Ambulations. Disputes with a turkey vulture. Green chili fried chicken. Crazy person asleep in the portico. Pavement poo. Like the fabled New England groundhog, I wish to sleep for another six weeks, having seen what it's like out there.


Unfortunately, there is stuff I must do today.
I should be home by teatime.




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Monday, February 15, 2021

DISCUSSING THE MESSY SUBJECTS

The gentleman who dossed down in our portico last night was still there when I left for an early morning jaunt. On examining the recumbent form better than previously, I noted that he was wearing sports shorts and a windbreaker. Not by any standard weather for this time of year.
He seemed to be dreaming; I think he was chasing cats.
Auntie with the pistachio-hued hat was already out taking her walk. She roams much further afield than when I first saw her, but she stays within four blocks of her home. Which I can well understand, as there are many strange white people in this neighborhood, who behave in eccentric fashions, as well as feral homeless people.
I likewise prefer not to stray too far. My own ambit is max eight blocks. Which is how long it takes to smoke a pipe. By the time of my second walk the portico gentleman had upped and left, leaving a slight mess where he had been. I expect I'll see him again. John tells me that he's been there before, and he's strongly considering putting up an iron gate.


Because my apartment mate has had a busy weekend (a charitable activity in which she participates nearly every Saturday morning), she stayed home today. She spent part of the morning watching dermal procedures and earwax clump removal videos on her computer. Lord, would you look at that! It's humongous! Unbelievable! They've found Jimmy Hoffa! Interspersed with a medical voice explaining the chemical composition of the material, foaming slime, keratin, sebum, puss, and natural skin by-products that all sounded more than half-way disgusting. On my side of the room I may have been turning green, but she didn't notice.

Besides, she probably assumes that tough he-man Dutch Americans are used to nasty things. Isn't that part of our native environment? Well, yes, but that's just a normal dinner, when it's meatloaf. It took me years before I voluntarily tried meatloaf again.

It's a moist day out. Mist, drizzle, fog, drably crap precipitation from the sky, wet breeze that changes directions, rain, thick aggressive haze, general damp. Coldish, but not as bad as Texas, where they're experiencing climactic conditions that apparently qualify them for disaster aid, because the poor dears have never before experienced winter.

I am lacking in sympathy.

I've heard so much about the superiority of Texas in all things that they can stew in their own icicles, as far as I'm concerned.


I have considerably more sympathy for the stuffed turkey vulture sitting on the cookie box nearby; he's audibly dreaming of eating chicken legs. And haunch of little girl hamster.
Which we disapprove of, because she's a friend.

Perhaps it is time to step outside for another smoke.


AFTERTHOUGHT
This corner of the teevee room looks more orderly than it actually is.
Partly that's because of outside light streaming in.
It's brighter now than this morning.


She's watching Valley Of The Dolls again. It's her favourite horrid movie. So it's definitely time for a nice long walk with something profound in the pipe.



TOBACCO INDEX


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STRAYED MIND

At around one thirty in the morning the doorbell rang. So I put on my bathrobe, grabbed a stout stick, and went downstairs to investigate. A crazed homeless man was settling down in the lit portico of our apartment building, grunting and mumbling to himself, and enjoying a cup of coffee. As could be noted through the curtain of the window in the front door. I observed him discreetly for a few moments without making him being aware of my presence, then went back upstairs. It was raining fairly steadily, the foghorns were blowing, he was filthy and not dressed for the weather, and it was cold outside.
I was in pajamas and a bathrobe, not enthusiastic about either his presence there or the idea of chasing him out into the elements, and not keen for a ruckus in the middle of the night.

It's a San Francisco kind of thing.

And, of course, filth and rain.


Pointless to call the police. From their point of view, if he was not killing anyone, and tucked away out of trouble, why shift him? Problem not so much solved as shelved.


One is conscious of one's vulnarabilities when garbed in nothing but jammmies, bathrobe, and house slippers. Or at least aware that one may not be optimumly dressed to deal with the madness beyond the door. Where things are cold, wet, and stark raving bonkers. There's an unpredictability there which at one thirty in the morning one might not want to face.

And, for some reason, quite inexplicably, one remembers purchasing a lovely casket of Peaty Kentucky -- a limited edition product from Scandinavian Tobacco which one has had the good fortune to sample at work because there was an opened container -- but one doesn't know where the devil one put it. It obsesses the mind; logically it would be somewhere within reach, a lower shelf perhaps. That rusty orange of the lacquered container, stark black lettering, it should be clearly visible. Even amidst the clutter.
Where the devil could it be?

One will simply have to buy a second exemplar.
To also remain unopened for years.
And gloated over.



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Sunday, February 14, 2021

THE PERFECT ROMANTIC DINNER FOR ONE

Walking home from the bus I passed a bar with outdoor dining. Romantic couples, enjoying quiet time together. Fifteen of them. Thirty people. In the rain. During a pandemic.
Love is a many splendoured thing. Soggy and pre-pneumonic, too.
Kudos, young lovers. You are all nuts.
Obviously I walked on the other side of the street.

When I got home I fixed myself some fatty fried pork with yauchoi, chilipaste, and yellow curry. Over noodles. I did not need to light candles to feel the passion. My apartment mate had some sardines while cruising news on the internet. And remonstrating with the turkey vulture.

Fortunately she's gotten over Wheelie Boy, and the turkey vulture doesn't have a 'special person'. So in this household at least we're not nuts. Cynical, perhaps. Total Asperger or on the spectrum oh boy, definitely. Meshugge, no.


Sanity is also a many splendoured thing. All those soggy love-struck neurotypicals out there should try it sometime. They'd find it refreshingly warm and dry.


I had spent all day cleaning pipes and buffing stems. So it was productive. Also smoked a pipe a few times, experimenting for one bowl with Stokkebye's latest, Peaty Kentucky, which was quite pleasant, and qua appearance reminiscent of Samuel Gawith's Cabbies Mixture.
The taste is gentler. It goes very well with tea.

Most of the day was merely overcast.
It started raining after lunch.
A good day to be inside.



TOBACCO INDEX


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