Wednesday, May 31, 2023

CAKE STRIP NOODLES

Yesterday the book seller and I discussed stinky tofu. He knows what it smells like, I don't remember, though it's probably entered my nostrils along with other putrid things. We agree that we do not, even for intellectual curiosity, ever have to eat it. The word 'faugh' comes to mind. Which made me remember Brother Lim, who died in his sleep over a decade ago, whose culinary inquisitiveness took us down some dark alleys when I was still at the computer company.

An entire platter of hot spiced rotten cabbage, for instance.

He once detailed having to eat a whole durian in a park because it wasn't allowed on the transit system in Singapore. Or, it turns out, into the hotel. Which disappointed his mom because she had lugged three or four of them from the market.

Please imagine two stuffed and distraught overseas Chinese sitting on a bench with too much extremely smelly fruit beside them. Good thing Singapore is a safe place.

I, personally, am not "unfond" of durian. Positive apathy.
Tastes like custard. Smells like a sewer.
Imagine unenthusiasm.
CHAR KWAY TEOW

There is a lot of exceptionally good stuff to eat in Singapore besides durian. Or stinky tofu.

Stir-fried rice noodles with prawns, ketjap manis, slices of lap cheung or charsiu, chopped chives, bean sprouts, garlic, ginger, and trassi. Not suprisingly, it goes great with sambal, a squeeze of lime, and a glass of something pink and cold, with little jelly squiggles.


It used to be prepared street-side, often by someone named ah-Kiong or Ah-Bek. Nowadays more likely found in a clean and well-regulated hawker centre, and there may be a jar of sambal cabai hijau (green chili sauce) on the table, in addition to the everpresent sambal belacan (stinky fishpaste and chilies) or sambal badjak. The pink cold stuff with squiggles was similar to dawet, but I have no clue what it's called in English.

[Teck Ghee Market & Food Centre (德義廣場), located in Ang Mo Kio (宏茂橋): you can also find good bak kut teh (肉骨茶 there, as well as excellent fried shrimp noodles (炒蝦麵 char hae mi).]


Here in San Francisco I make my own sambals -- the ingredients are fairly easy to find in Chinatown -- and kway teow noodles (粿條粉 'gwo tiu fan') may be replaced with broad flat rice stick (河粉 'ho fan'; hofoen in Dutch). There will be slight difference in texture and taste, as kway teow noodles are made with mixed regular rice flour and glutinous rice flour, and some tapioca starch. They are different to the teeth.


Huy Fong used to make sambal badjak, but they eventually realized that most of us who like sambal badjak will often make our own, using sambal oelek as one of the building blocks for a shortcut. You can still find imported jars of Koningsvogel brand sambal at a few specialty stores. Too expensive.


Cockles are often included in char kway teow. But clams (蜆 'hin') are a perfectly fine replacement, and more easily found here.



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CELEBRATING WORLD NO TOBACCO DAY

As you know, today is World No Tobacco Day, which is a feel-good Puritanical event created by outer-space Vegans to persuade people that instead they should snort coke and shoot up. While eating styrofoam. As a pipe smoker and collector, I intend to celebrate it appropriately. No, not by going down the nearest grammar school and passing out ciggies, but by selecting two or three briars from the rotation and a limited edition blend to enjoy, then grumbling about modern times, health nuts, and the sanctimonious twats who think they're better than me.

Well, actually, by mostly ignoring it.

Back in the day, more doctors smoked Camels than any other cigarette. In a nation-wide study, docters all across the country, in all branches of medicine, were asked "what cigarette do you smoke, doctor?" Not surprisingly, more doctors prefer the smooth rich taste of Camels to any other cigarette. Who don't you try Camels for a month to see what a good tasting cigarette can mean for your smoking enjoyment?

Here is an innocent picture of a very nice person who probably isn't into smoking.
She probably identifies as a cat. It's a harmless fetish that helps her get through high school with the very real and ever-present fear of being shot with a high-powered assault rifle by a twenty-something white male with Nazi paraphernalia who visits far right internet sites and has mommy issues. He hasn't had a girlfriend, ever, and suffers from pick-up truck envy because of his fundamentalist Christian stepfather, as well as crippling acne because of a solid junk food diet.

He doesn't smoke. Smoking is for losers.

You know, you can wash down that baco-chicken sandwich with a big gulp of your slushee. It's a great combo. Breakfast of champions. Fit for all sparkling unicorns like you.


VLA is a pourable custard dessert very popular in the Netherlands that is usually available at stores, seldom home-made. It was invented in late mediaeval times.

SNERT is Dutch pea soup, made with a ham bone and smoked sausage chunks. Perfect for a cold Dutch winter or a San Francisco summer.

APPELFLAPPEN are apple turnovers, not significantly different from what you can get at a good bakery in the United States.

FRIKANDEL is what Dutch tourists and expats often miss most about home. Finely minced meat, binders and flavourings (garlic, paprika, thyme, pepper, ground nutmeg), formed into a sausage shape, dipped in egg white, rusk crumbs ("paneermeel"), dipped again, then deep-fried. It is very good with sharp mustard, and often served in a bread roll with chopped onions and barbecue sauce, fries on the side. Scarfing one or two of those puppies down piping hot at a fry-shack (friet kot) outside the train station on a freezing day is sheer heaven, and highly recommended.

You know what goes great after any or all of these? A cup of strong coffee, a cigarette rolled from dark ("zware") shag tobacco, and a shot of Genever. Coffee and shag are the characteristic aromas of the Netherlands.

Except for areas in Amsterdam frequented by American tourists.
And you can probably guess why that is, can't you?

If you want to identify as a cat, go ahead.
Who am I to judge you?



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THE MASTER SAID ...

The first thing you do upon returning home is go to the bathroom. After putting the pipe and tobaco pouch on the stack of unopened correspondence you haven't dealt with in months. Bills, bank statements, account statuses, energy usage stuff.
After that you go into the kitchen for some tea.


Not that I needed more. Although alcoholic drinks were served at all three establishments, due to medical reasons I had several caffeinated beverages instead.
I am an abstemious man, despite the weekly pub-crawl.
Which is very un-Dutch of me.

Of course I had a shot of strong coffee before I even left the house. Yeah man, I don't need alcohol or drugs, I'm just high as a kite on life in America, mom, the flag, and apple pie!
And regular doses of caffeine.
Plenty of it.


The reason why I don't often deal with my correspondence is that I have long ago mastered the telephone, and the possibilities of pressing one now. All questions are answered if you press correctly (1). It's an art form.
The weekly pub crawl is within sight of that handsome building in the painting above. It dates back to when the book seller and myself worked at the same bookstore. Him as regular staff, myself sporadically and on-call, whenever there were enough second-hand Asian language books that needed pricing. The Book Of Mormon in any language does not need pricing.
It's landfill material, plain and simple.

The karaoke place (last stop of the night) was pleasantly empty. Only three white people there, one of whom may have been American-born Chinese. Three English-language songs. Not too loud. One of the insufferable Star Wars flicks on one screen, two dignified gentlemen in late Ching Dynasty get-up on another. Food featured prominently. One of the gentlemen referenced Confucius. As scholarly chaps at the end of the Ching Dynasty might do.

A notorious local pot-head came in with fried chicken.
Probably his second dinner. Like a hobbit.


North Beach has changed somewhat over the years. Some of the sleaze joints no longer exist, several of the irritating mental defectives and drug addicts that thrived in the neighborhood are gone. It hasn't improved, it's just not the same as it was.

The more things change, the more they don't.



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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

NEEDS BACON, CURRY, AND CHILIPASTE

Deep in the bowels of the city lies the beast. Hungry, hungry, hungry. Fortunately this blogger lives nearly ten blocks away from there, and seldom goes south of California Street, which marks the boundary of the DMZ. Basically, I stick to my part of the city, which is Nob Hill, Chinatown, North Beach, and Telegraph Hill.

There are small islands of civilization elsewhere.

In the past two decades I have rarely visited Union Square, and other than a few eateries in the Tenderloin owned and staffed by folks whose native tongue is not English, that area is also one that I avoid, except when dragooned into jury duty.

The civic center is where drug addicts and bureaucrats lurk.
It's been pestilential for several decades.


Most cities have no-go zones, which although not really dangerous, are places that residents mostly don't visit unless they have the misfortune of living there. As I understand it, for large parts of the deep south and Texas that's pretty much their entire hinterland. By the way: any place with open cary is populated entirely by violent inbred Christians, so those too are areas no one with a brain should go. From the edge of the valley all the way to Staten Island more or less qualifies, whether or not there are guns and banjos there.
WHAT BREAKFAST SHOULD LOOK LIKE

Main rule of thumb: If the only spices are salt and pepper, and the most common hot sauces are reddish vinegar, stay away, The only tourist attraction is the second biggest ball of twine, Saturday night involves crappy beer, loud music, and junk food from a drive thru window.
And they're probably too illiterate to read traffic signs.

During my work days I deal with the suburbanite and rural Karens and Billy Joe Bobs enough that on my days off there is no pressing need to see them. Whether they're from the rest of the country, Europe, or India, makes no difference.

[Yes, I do know that they invented curry in India. Having worked part-time at an Indian restaurant for well-over a decade I've heard so much ignorant bullpuckey from subcontinentals about their own cuisine and every one else's that I largely ignore whatever they have to say about food now. Which is also how I approach Europeans opinionating about American cooking, or Americans talking about Chinese food. There is an overwhelming level of sheer downright gut-wrenching stupidity and ignorance out there, okay?]


The only part of American cuisine which has my unalloyed and complete respect is the weird stuff we do with bacon over here. If you are passionate enough bacon can go on everything. For some people, bacon is a religion. Jesus, Buddha, and Sri Ram combined.

Kudos, all of you sick artery cloggers, kudos.

Goes great with sambal.



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AT THE TABLE OF HAPPINESS

It's one of my very favourite bakeries. The charsiu sou is exceptional, the egg tarts divine, and the coconut macaroons quite delightful. Sometimes late in the afternoon I head over there for hot milk tea and a pastry, and spend an hour just watching the interactions between regulars, staff, and wander-ins. The business has helped me maintain my sanity these past few years, and I have happily patronized them for the better part of a decade.

Friends work there.
One of them got stabbed yesterday by a neighborhood lunatic who went behind the counter and without a word attacked. Last I heard the injuries were life threatening, and she's at a local hospital. That's all I know.

I fervently hope that she survives, and heals completely.

This is my neighborhood, naturally I'm upset.

Our society is broken.



Ten days after my emergency appendectomy at a nearby hospital I headed over there for milk tea and an egg tart. That was four years ago. I needed that.
Three years before I had some nice pressed vegetable and meat shred fried rice there for a late lunch, with plenty hot sauce. That was the week I stumbled head first into wall after blacking out, and realized that, at some point, I would really need to see a doctor.
After picking up refills at the Chinese Hospital pharmacy I've usually gone there to happily read about possible side effects while enjoying a pastry or two and a milk tea.
This place, and the people who work there, are dear to me.



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Monday, May 29, 2023

FABULOUS PASTRY!

In a previous post I gibbered a bit about a heatwave in Shanghai and people running naked through the streets there screaming about evil Republican plots. It appears that I may have stretched the truth a bit. They are not naked. Perhaps they are wearing fashionable evening clothes. While sweltering limply in half light. Tasteful. It is Shanghai, after all, and unlike other parts of the Far East they wouldn't be caught dead naked.


It is too hot there to enjoy their food. Way too hot.

One hundred degrees Fahrenheit.

I myself am not so fortunate, and catching me naked would take a miracle. It is not sweltering in San Francisco but frightfully cold. And I'm thinking that after lunch I should probably go get some milk tea and a pastry while warmly dressed, with a pipe and some tobacco in my coat pocket for afterwards. As yet it's just a thought.

It's barely sixty degrees here.
This is NOT a fabulous pastry.

The illustration above was more or less copied from a photograph accompanying an article about the unseasonable heat in Shanghai. Warmest May in decades. She is clearly wiping her delicate forehead while exclaiming in a hoarse whisper "alack, this heat, I'm limp!" So of course you can understand why I may have assumed that at some point people there might run through the streets having heat hysterics. Dramatically.

It's a natural assumption.


On the one hand I wouldn't mind at all if it were ten or twenty degrees warmer, but on the other, I can always put on a sweater and have a pastry while thinking of limp limp fingers touching a pearled brow. And have pipe-full of good tobacco afterwards.
Which is what I intend to do.

I've been enjoying Fourth Generation 'Resolution', a limited edition flake compounded for Stokkebye by Cornell & Diehl. Very nice. There's a picture of a schooner which sank in 1834 on the label, drowning every man on board. I'm not entirely clear what something that happened 189 years ago has too do with some good tobacco, but nevermind.
I'll smoke a bowl of it while thinking about delicate limp hands.
Conceivably offering me a pastry.


It's very nice tobacco.



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MATURE MEN AND THEIR ONIONS

It is a federal, state, and city holiday today. So of course my apartment mate has the day off. She does not like the smell of smoke. Which means that I am outside a lot, enjoying the fresh air, and poisoning everybody on the street with my horrible tobacco fumes. Because we are experiencing fine February-March weather, I am freezing my butt off, and they are all safely indoors letting their dogs pooh in the hallway closet for a change while disapproving of my horrid habits.

Big Sister is watching you, and wants you to wave your flag.

Really, this weather is unseasonal. In my day the tail end of May would be warm and sunny. And perhaps it is elsewhere, but because San Francisco is being ruined by liberals, we've turned off the heat and are conserving energy. Expect a strongly worded letter to the editor about this, casting blame at the younger generation! This will not stand.
Addressed, in exclusionary sexist fashion: Dear Sir!

If I had a dog, he (or she) would be pooing an awful lot today.
While freezing and breathing second hand smoke.
Come on, Fido, bathroom time!

The temperatures outside make me feel a lot like Grampa Simpson. Complain a lot, and tell people about the time I went to Shelbyville with an onion tied to my belt.
For new shoe soles, and lunch.
The onion, you probably grasp, was to prepare some lovely brined chicken, which would be splendid for lunch. Rub a young cockerel well with salt and a smidgeon of ground pepper, stick it in the refrigerator overnight covered with cling wrap. Then rinse it, and submerge it in gently boiling water three times, cooling it immediately after each blanch in chilled water with icecubes. This firms up the flesh and taughtens the skin. Bring the water back to a boil, add peppercorns, star anise, ginger, quartered onion, a tablespoon of sugar and plenty of salt, a generous splash of rice wine or sherry, and a jigger or soy sauce. Plus a bay leaf. Bring to a soft simmer, put in the chicken, and after five minutes or so turn off the heat. Put a plate on top of the bird to submerge it and let the remaining heat permeate the flesh evenly for two hours, then take it out, and when it's cool enough to handle chop or rip as you deem fit.


The liquid can be strained and reduced as a splash for the plated chicken.

Serve with rice, simply cooked vegetables, and sambal.


Then go out and walk the dog again.

Dang, it's cold.



This March weather is getting to me.



Post scriptum: Apparently it hit one hundred degrees Fahrenheit in Shanghai today. Quite unseasonably warm. There are rumours of residents running naked through the sweltering darkness screaming about the Republican Party ruining everything with their global climate change plots. Would I exaggerate? Good heavens no. Lucky stiffs.
Rat-infested cell blocks, seedy hotel rooms!



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Sunday, May 28, 2023

FLYING ELEPHANTS

R the rigid liberal and subcontinental decided to dispute with J the retired member of the judicial branch, who has over thirty years as a prosecutor under his belt. It went as well as expected. But R was in a contentious mood and neither willing to admit defeat nor idiocy.
I mention his geographic derivation so that people in the know will know who I mean.

I like the man. But sometimes, like R Singh at a previous place of work, he's a luftmensh.

When J responded to one of his statements by saying that if elephants had wings they might fly, I stepped in to point out that anchoring the muscles needed for that would necessitate a skeletal structure entirely different, most noticeably as regards the sternum and breastbone , effectively making them unelephantine in the extreme, R interjected that in a few years AI would most certainly give us flying elephants.

Again, they would be unelephantine; monstrous, and definitely NOT elephants.
Even Lord Ganesh thinks you're blowing it out of your ear.
And please stop being such a contentious twat.

It's bad enough that you can't even convince the Irishman -- lord knows he's batshit -- or the bald degenerate and his hench the bald sh*t disturber, but J is well-trained to make his case, whatever that might be, and you dear man are an absolutely horrid advocate of any cause.

Again: that's. Over. Thirty. Years. As. A. Prosecutor.

Whereas you are a badly trained weasel.

In this case, in comparison.

Nimrod ji.



Also, stating strong opinions about cooking certain Chinese dishes, as you did two hours before that, when I can contradict you, and even the others know that your are simply being contentious and blowing it out of your ear, is both very irritating, and very stupid. So don't. Please don't. For the love of Lord Ganesh, please shut up.



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BRING BACK LEISURE SUITS

Question: "How do you know they were suburbanites?" Answer: "they wore leisure suits." Salmon-pink leisure suits.

Perhaps I should not have had cake for dinner last night. Our landlady dropped off some fabulous slices from a noted San Francisco bakery, in consequence of which I did not fix myself a nutritious dinner, but feasted upon Swedish Princess and Dark Chocolate Mocha Cream.

It may have influenced my dreams. I found myself running to escape bikers through a mass transit station filled with cake and pastry concessions. Several floors connected by palatial tunnels, lovely frescoes and cream-hued Venetian plaster moldings.
It was a wonderful dream, and slightly frightening.

I should also mention that my bloodpressure meds make my dreams more vivid and realistic.


The best part of the dream was the short stocky woman in the distance resolutely marching away, wearing a backpack and a black coat. Not even five foot tall.

The backpack was large and pink. Salmon pink.


There is more cake in the refrrigerator.

I'll have some this evening.



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Saturday, May 27, 2023

AMORPHOUS BLOB TIME

The tourist season is always a joy in this city. Piles of Midwesterners and Europeans cluster near the cablecar end points, shivering in their shorts and tee-shirts because they thought that San Francisco at the end of May would be warm, summery and Californian. They were wrong. They also cower in terror from the hordes of zombies, tech industry hipsters, and drug-addled liberals shooting themselves up with massive doses of fentanyl, all giddy up on communisms and wokeness. Keen to eat 'em as side dishes at a gay vegan banquet.

Raw. Because unprocessed is good.

Naturally havested tourist.

Fat and well-marbled.

Crispy frozen.

The San Francisco tourist industry, as is well-known, is run entirely by drag queens keen to read fairy tales to your innocent young children. It's like a glee-club on crack.
Like most actual residents of this town I am not despondent over the closures of several Union Square merchants. Who the hell shops at Old Navy anyhow? But I know several suburbanites who are heartbroken.

Same goes for a lovely Chinatown venue where no locals ever go, much beloved among the out-of-town crowd. Soon to be evicted because they owe over three million in back rent. It's been described as a slice of Fisherman's Wharf with a Far Eastern theme, specially grown for the kwailo. It's so special, white person, you should go there (and leave my favourite snacky hole-in-the-wall alone).

My apartment mate, a person of Chinese ancestry, sneered loudly when I mentioned the place. Apparently the wife of a friend (also Chinese ancestered) had the same reaction. None of us have ever been to the place because the prices are way higher than we're used to. There are two or three other venues with expensive decor and fancy plates that are also for those people, which we've never patronized.

The second language of many people here is Bronx cheering.

Perhaps I should mention that the favourite Thai place of several of my coworkers when I still worked downtown was patronized almost entirely by suburbanite office workers. Who are probably HEARTBROKEN over what has happened to the city. They also favoured California Pizza Kitchen, by the way. Which is a Fishermanswharfian approach to pizza.
Funhouse, carnival ride, glitter up.


The real tragedy among all the retail closures down town is the disappearance of a good place for army surplus and Converse All Stars. As well as baggy overcoats suitable for perverts stalking innocent Mid-Western young Christians lost in the San Francisco fog. Because they strayed too far from their budget motel on Lombard Street.
While feasting on crabs and sourdough.



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Friday, May 26, 2023

ERUCTATIONS AND BORBORYGMI

It is as of this writing precisely and approximately fifteen hours later than San Francisco in Hong Kong. Even if you read this essay in a day or two, it will still be so. Which means that at the moment it is time to go the nearest commercial centre to feast upon little cart noodles. May I suggest fried fish balls, turnip, black mushroom, dollops of curry sauce and satay sauce, with clear stock and Shanghai noodles? Garnished with chives and cilantro.
You can thank me later.

[In order: 炸魚蛋 ('jaa yü yuen'), 蘿蔔 ('lo baak'), 冬菇 ('dung gu'), 咖喱汁 ('gaa lei jap'), 沙嗲汁 ('saa de jap'), 清湯 ('ching tong'), 粗麵 ('chou min'). 韭菜 ('gau choi'), 芫茜 ('yuen sai'). Little cart noodles: 車仔麵 ('che jai min'.]


One pajama clad leg hurked up on your chair, feet in flip-flops, telly showing a programme with a snarky intelligent woman commenting very wittily about silly American rightwing hosebags, and loud chatter from the next stall over. Sheer heaven.

I'm sorry, they don't have any of that in Ohio.
No intelligent women either.
Nor pajamas.

Please imagine big gallumphing farmers heading out to the loo behind the chicken coop in oversize overalls in the middle of the night. Men, women, and cousin Ned who wants to be called Sally. They ate too much corn and taters with their chicken.
Which was so fried it was partly carbonized.
To kill them salmonellies.
Or tricknoses.

Yeah, whatever.
What y'all need in the great American hinterland to start is decent hotsauce or chili paste, cucumbers, and a cooking school. I know what y'all do there, and I'm not surprised that digestive upsets kill more of you than the mass murder gun events y'all so fond of.

Gives you a much needed opportunity for "thoughts and prayers".
Without that, you'd never come up with the idea.
BTW: your teams suck. Big time.

The great American dinner is boiled corn niblets, plank-like fried chicken, grits, mushy carrots, and potatoes. Washed down with ice tea or a carbonated beverage.
And a slice of white bread.


Somebody asked me yesterday "what the heck is this?"
It's a vegetable, sonny, yau choi (油菜).
Brassica rapa.


Metamucil. And plenty prunes.
Worst case: Dulcolax.



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Thursday, May 25, 2023

STAY OUT OF GEORGIA

Kandiss Taylor, who did not win the election for governor of Georgia in 2022, despite the support of Mike Lindell and the MAGA faithful (she got less than four percent of the vote in the primary) and recently became the GOP chair of Georgia's First District, laments that "everywhere there's globes, globes, globes, you see them all the time, it's constant."
Which, she asserts, is what "they" do to brainwash children.


"They are trying to make me look stupid!"
------Kandiss Taylor


Oh hon, they aren't even paying attention to you, you're doing that all by yourself. You are stupid. Painfully and monumentally stupid. Bless your heart.
Sensible people leave Georgia.
This is why.

"Gosh darn it, chickens!"

Most of the Deep South is filled with congenitals precisely like her, Bible thumpers and boobies. Brainwashed would describe them, except you can't wash what ain't there.

There is a reason Ron De Santis, Donald Trump, and Lindsey Graham are in the South.
That's where a bunch of idiots are. Overwhelmingly.
Putin supporters, seditionists.
And banjos.



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THE WINTER OF OUR DISCONTENT

Every day that Donald Trump isn't in a maximum security prison and Ron De Santis has not been face-pied displeases me. Not particularly greatly, as I am quite used to the regrettable American political shenanigans by now, and understand that I'm sharing this country with a whole passel of iggerunt sh** for brains banjo music loving dingos, but still. It's grating.

More immediately upsetting is the temperature outside. Fifty degrees!
When I was younger it wasn't so cold, dammit.
Expect an angry letter.

What is the world coming to when a man living in California is freezing his ears off in May? That jogger who nearly crashed into me while I was smoking the first pipe of the day was probably down on his physical coordination skills because of frostbite, which affects locomotion and judgement as the brain goes into shut-down.
At least the gentleman walking his poo-factory was dressed for the weather.
Probably wearing four layers of clothing. One of them thermal.
That first pipe would have been a lot more enjoyable sitting inside with the second cup of a warm stimulating beverage, tell you what.



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Wednesday, May 24, 2023

START LARGE, THEN GO SMALL

Having had a sufficiency of caffeine during the day, I really should not be sitting at home sabotaging my prospects of a good night's sleep. Two cups of coffee in the morning, three cups of tea from lunch to the cocktail hour -- which I observed with more tea -- followed by some strong stuff (Iron Goddess of Mercy) for the past two hours.

As you might expect, I'm high as a kite.

When you use a smaller teapot, especially an earthenware item like the one pictured below, you fill it over half to three quarters full of good tealeaves (medium ferment, like a Sui Hsien, Ti Kuan Yin, or even a reddish Oolong), rinse the leaves with near-boiling water to get rid of dust and open them up, and then do several steepings, each one a little longer than the last, starting at around a minute's duration and finally going up to five or so.

It's not hard and fast. So keep your neuroticism in check.
This might be hard for obsessive people.

Usually I only fill it about a third full of leaves, and do slightly longer steepings, three max. Still, it gives me a jag much like a shot of good espresso, spread out over a few hours.
The computer painting above started out altogether bigger than several feet squared, so that I could deal with minute details. I reduced it by about sixty percent to work on proportions, then a bit further to play with light and shade. Enlarged it again for further fussy work. Another reduction or two to see what it looks like and make minor corrections.
It's now a three by four thousand pixel file.
Start large, then go small.


You can tell that such teapots are in a way perfect for obsessives.
Altogether it took about five or six hours to do.
Spread out over three days.



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THE COLD NIGHT AIR

As you know, I am a sensitive man and thoroughly hate karaoke. Yet I expose myself to it several times a month, because I enjoy hobnobbing with the little people, and showing an interest in their purile entertainments. Oh, the joy.

[Translation: I am a sick man much given to self-abuse.]


A long time ago, people sang in the shower.
It was a kinder, gentler era.


I'm trying to imagine the bearded ape with the loud voice singing a sprightly air from the from the forties, in the style of Yao Lee, who made it famous.
In the old days you could smoke in bars, and there was no karaoke.

This singer was full of himself. We sank deep in funk.

Fortunately I was whacked on caffeine.

We left before his next air.


So all in all it was a short night, since we forwent the beer hall, it being entirely too crowded for civilized conversation there. Perhaps next week.
Smoked cigarillos while walking.



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Tuesday, May 23, 2023

AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER FOR A SECOND

An Indian accent who introduced himself as my teevee technician Samuel wished to assure me that everything was all right, there would be no interruption of service, and was the television on right now? How many teevees did I currently have?

There is NO teevee on at present, there will be none such, I do not subscribe to any cable services, and this is your clue to hang up, Samuel.

It is a guarantee that Indians calling one out of the blue wish to take your money through underhanded means.


And this apartment is not jampacked with high-tech devices in every room.


That said, there ARE four functional computers here.
Plus one I haven't used in years.

After Samuel hung up, no doubt despondently, I went out for lunch. It seemed fitting after this morning's post to have a plate of fried rice. Not the kind of fried rice white people usually go for, in that it contained no peas, carrots, or soy sauce.
What would have been nice would have been Indonesian style fried rice -- also something many Americans won't try -- but that, as you'd suspect, is not common in San Francisco (understatement), and not available at all in Chinatown.

Sadly, Uncle Roger doesn't cook here.

Ended up going to an eatery I had every reason to believe would be underpopulated at that hour, where I knew there was sambal and stinky fish (鹹魚 'haam yü'), and they know and like me. Shan't mention the name, because I don't want it mobbed by a whole rampaging herd of my fellow unsocials, desperate for some solitude and quiet time.

And while I enjoyed the pipe afterwards while wandering the alleyways, it would have been nice to smoke inside with a second cup of milk tea, seeing as a chill breeze was blowing.


Lunch was excellent today.


Obviously, I am back now.



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CHINA HEARTS JAMIE OLIVER

Uncle Roger, a comedian and snarky London-based food critic popular on the internet, has been banned in China. The ONLY possible explanation is that China's leadership is, inexplicably, fond of white folks fried rice.

You know. Rice only barely cooked but soggy, thrown into a pan with diced carrots, frozen peas, spring onion, and bean sprouts, ripped cooked chicken and scrambled eggs added, and a dash of soy sauce plus garlic salt. This is a recipe, btw.

Maybe a small dollop of tomato ketchup stirred in.

Plus some more spring onion added.
For that authentic touch.
It's an absolute classic. You hear sizzling. It has chili jam! Smack the like button!

White people are quite passionate about fried rice.

Eggs, miracles, and burnt garlic.

It's so random!

Precisely like dyed-in-the-wool Peking-accented Mandarin speaking party functionaries and bureaucrats will often prepare when they're sent to Iowa to learn all about pig farming, corn growing, and Walmart staffing, covertly, because they don't have anything like it in distant northeast Shensi, where all the best things come from, and patriotic Americans jealously safeguard their expertise in these fields.

Pigs, corn fields, and Walmart; progress, baby!

I don't know, is there anyone who eats fried rice like that?
Outside of the communes of Yanchuan?
I think it needs red-eye gravy.
A proletarian touch.


Perhaps add chopped canned ham.
For a really beautiful dinner.


造反有理!



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THE JUICES, THE JUICES

At night it gets fifteen degrees colder or more than during the day. And the fog is back. So it's more peaceful, and things disappear in the middle distance. Consequently leaving the house at the crack of dawn has one moving through an alien landscape, nearly silent, with the occasional vehicle or howling crazy person punctuating the vibrant stillness.

That first cup of coffee and that first pipe in the morning.
There's nothing like it, son, it tastes like napalm.
One day, this stinking war will be over.

I should make better coffee.
When I still lived near Grant Avenue I would head to the Caffe Trieste at this hour. The local poets and artistic types were not even awake yet, one could read the Anarchist Scheduler while smoking one's Regie Turque ovals in peace, occasionally swearing in a foreign language over what the French and Greeks were doing.

[I've always thought of Turkish leaf ciggies and Italian coffee beverages as setting the standard. Serious Europaische political publications, not so much.]



In the evening I'd read The Chronicle, The Examiner, and the 金山時報 at 平園咖啡店 while dawdling over pie and coffee (with multiple refills), before heading out into the newly foggy streets again. The local poets and artistic types avoided Chinatown, though by that time they were having gay orgies all over North Beach, reciting their jejune scribblings to rapturous acolytes and pontificating giddily, the pests.


There are no local poets and artistic types about at this hour. Unless they're sleeping in doorways down on Polk Street.

But there are people pooing their dogs.
That, too, is creative.



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Monday, May 22, 2023

WHERE THE WILD THING IS

Things became more complicated. There was NO decent hot sauce on the premises, due to the Great Sriracha Crisis of 2023, which is felt worldwide wherever cheese burger-eaters want something more exciting than ranch, party dip makers wish to challenge their cocktail drinking yuppie guests, or eaters of delicious little dumplings (韭菜豬肉水餃 'gau choi chyu yiuk seui gaau') are accustomed to have some red condiment when gasakking their plate of nom-noms. In the last example given, that would be my anguished self.
But I was not left desolate. They went the extra mile.
A small saucer of sliced Jalapeños.


Years ago, when I worked far down the peninsula, I would often pack half a dozen fresh Jalapeños in a pocket so that the roach-coach greaseburger (or mediocre suburban Anglo pasta chain restaurant fare) would go down better. A vegetable accompaniment, as it were. Fresh chilies are good for the digestion, as well as good for the soul.
Those are not necessarily always the same thing.

Red chili paste looks bright and festive!
Green seems somewhat sterile.
But it was very nice.
A FESTIVE BIRD

Fortunately the turkey vulture had been fed earlier, and was relaxing with his filled stomach and digestive borborygmi on a tub of chocolate chip cookies in the teevee room.
If I took him to restaurants, he'd peck at customers.
My, don't you look tasty!

A plain blend, Virginias and a smidgeon of Perique, in the pipe afterwards while observing street people sleeping in the park. Not close enough to note their intestinal rumblings.
Or any eructations resulting from cheese burgers, bland dips, and ranch dressing.

Because some of them are violent crazies one dare not get too close.
Many are from somewhere else. Probably tourists, originally.
Or cannibals from the vast hinterland.
The banjo states.



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BEAVER, LAS VEGAS!

It always surprises me how eloquently foul-tongued my apartment mate can be. It shouldn't; an expansive ability to curse is often a sign of genius. And some people also have a talent. In consequence of this some of the stuffed creatures in this apartment may severe need talking-tos by both the she-sheep and the venerable head roomie (a stern bear less than a foot tall, and very awesome).

The rest of us live in a state of fear about what comes out of their mouths.
At some point, I shall have to ask Ms. Bruin to speak up.

My apartment mate is home today.


Because I am not the most social of creatures, and desire to smoke my pipe, by myself, while pondering my navel, I shall have to leave the apartment for a while. Fortunately the weather is half-way bearable, even though we've gone from the cold of winter to the frigid winds of Summer in San Francisco.

The small orange-ish beaver has spent some time telling me about a song written by some rock and roller about his kind while visiting a convention. Which was fun, but the all-you-can-eat buffets were very over-rated; no trees. The discussions with the other engineers at the pool were fine. He doesn't really like the place, though. Not enough water, too hot, slot machines do not pay out in bark or saplings, no streams, and no orthodontists.
And why, he demands to know, are there no dental plans for beavers?!?
It's a dam shame, he says. For crying out loud.
Hey.


This is more serious conversation than I am usually capable of so early in the day, even with coffee. At work I merely have to deal with senescent old farts hooting and grunting in the morning, which is easy.


He's also told me that I should become a writer.
And contemplate my novel. Not navel.

Help.



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Sunday, May 21, 2023

BE FREE, LITTLE BUTTERFLY, BE FREE!

As was to be expected there was nudity this morning in the Bay To Breakers race. Because it is traditional for people to get drunk at six in the morning, strip to their skin, and run several miles through cold and fog to the ocean. And believe me, I would have been there.
If I could run. Or stomach beer while stark naked at that hour.

But I was their in spirit. At least sort of. Actually, I didn't pay any attention at all. As far as I'm concerned, it's a non-event. People are drunkenly naked in the city all the time.

Undoubtedly some of them are running.
And also pipe smokers.
Such as my fellow members of the local pipe club. I'm ascribing the absence of some of them from this afternoon's meeting to their being otherwise engaged, quite probably with frost bite on their squidgy bits, or maybe they crashed into trees and lamp posts within a few blocks of leaving the starting line. Their wives called 911. "Please, you have to pick up my husband. He's naked, drunk, and bleeding! No, I don't want him back, he's all yours. Arrest him, or triage, ist mir scheißegal. He has embarrassed me for the last time. And in front of the children, too!" Will no one think about the children?

OH PLEASE, will no one think about the children?

Little peckerwoods are probably traumatized.

Their psychotherapists will become rich.


Even at this hour, citizens are probably lined up waiting to bail out their favourite naked people, or pick them up from overcrowded emergency rooms wearing nothing except bandages, mercurochrome, and yellow hospital bracelets.
Rabies shots have been administered.

There are not enough hospital gowns for every naked booby in the city.
If we had socialized medicine, maybe there would be.
This is a foreseeable event.


Yeah, okay, I suggested to the members of the pipe club years ago that they should run as a peleton. The naked pipe smokers. I'd be supporting them, but as I work on Sunday, I couldn't be with them on that day. Some of them are holding out for my leading them by example.
I have bunions. It's against my religion. These clothes are a statement. I'm morally opposed to running myself. And I don't drink beer. I'll write glowingly of your progress, okay?!?

I suspect that those were the ten who showed up for the meeting. At which there was wine, port, pâté, sliced meats, various cheeses, and shortbread. Plus excellent good humour. I did tell one of them to shift his spongy thighs, so that a walkway could be kept clear. Stems got buffed. Pipe were smoked. Opinions broke free.

Good times.



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START THE DAY RIGHT

On Sunday morning around six o'clock there are not very many people about down on the nearby shopping street. There's a man standing at the corner looking aimless, further down a distressed homeless person is howling, an old woman with shopping bags slowly walks this way, and a jogger plomp plomp plomps past. There's a dog walker visble one block away.
A bus heads northwards. Other than the howling dude it is quite peaceful.

Yes, obviously I did not head toward the howling.
It's not something I can deal with.
At this hour.

Mild Virginia flake. Stokkebye 4th. Generation small batch "Resolution". It is lightly topped with hazelnut perfume, but not to an objectionable level. It is pleasant.
Smells good in the moist air.
First pipe after coffee.
Sweet whisps.


Las conspiradoras

An imaginary teevee series: Because El Presidente had found out that the students and Marxists congregated in the various McDonalds loations around the campus, he ordered the capitol guards to eat their lunches there at staggered times during the day for the next year.
In consequence the military men looked plump and nauseous, the students were trim and healthy, and the franchise owner opened fifteen more establishments.
It was a golden age of junkfood in El Montano. Prospertity!

Tailors also benefitted, as uniforms had to be let out.
Dry cleaners flourished greatly too.
That special sauce.



The teevee series idea hasn't gotten any more developed than that. After two blocks I could still hear the howling, and I had also started counting the dogs doing their duty. Plus the short bowl was past its mid point, so I headed up a side street to circle back home. Someone has posted a notice on the light poles that their cat is missing. There is another copy outside the donut shop, which is filled.

Ever since they got rid of counter seating, their business has boomed.
It has, you understand, become a friendlier place.
No reality impairments there.
No howling.



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Saturday, May 20, 2023

AT A SECRET AIRFIELD SOMEWHERE

It is with great joy that I report that none of the old fossils in the back room today had a fecal event. Earlier in the week there had been one such, on a day when I wasn't in -- and now I'm thinking that it is time to acquire a riding crop, because I'm such a loving Christian filled with warmth to my fellow human beings damn them -- which means that one of the chairs in the back has seen better days.

Given that the latest blend from Per Georg Jensen and Sutliff is out now, and rather tasty, my day was actually rather enjoyable. And I didn't even snap fiercely at anyone, despite there being plenty of candidates for beheading.

The fact that I got enough sleep the night before may have had something to do with that.
Oh yeah, and enough tea to float a battleship. I was hepped to the gills.


"Lynn is an American agent, but fortunately she's expendable."


Beware of security agencies in banana republics.

They're usually corrupt as all heck.
If it were up to me, I'd take the bodies and dump them in the toxic waste pools behind the presidential palace, where so many of "them" promptly ended up during the CIA-organized "redemocraticization" headed by El Lider Arthur Funt, who was entirely owned by us.
So sad that he died in that unfortunate bedroom accident. Part fox, part snake.
And now part cement in a barrel.


We'll have to bomb the hide-outs in the jungle.


When sports are on the telly, which occupies a very large span of their fading intellectual capacities, my thoughts tend to wander. Perhaps the tobacco blend -- Paradoxical -- had something to do with that today. It contains rustica, which ups the quantity of an alkaloid which is used recreationally world-wide as a stimulant and anxiolytic.
It's also in present in potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplants.
It's why you love fries and ketchup.

Combined with caffeine, the cognetive enhancing effects of the substance in question are magnified like you wouldn't believe oh jayzus.


Invaluable to the war effort. So will we need to deny the Russians any of it, and at all costs prevent them from laying their greasy heathen hands on even one tin of Paradoxical, or its sister blend Abberant. It's all ours, dammit. And both of them are limited editions.



I do not know how to end this transmission, so I shall move forward, not backward, upward not forward, and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom!"

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