Thursday, November 30, 2023

PODAL AMERICANS

Now that the weather has turned cold, invite your animal friends indoors. They will appreciate the gesture, and enrigh your life. My feet, at times, qualify as wild animals. They too need to be inside. They are quite passionate about that. Twiddling their ten little heads at the prospect, and squealing with bestial podal enthusiasm.

When I was considerably younger, I would keep my footsies outside the covers, because they were more comfortable there. These past few years, however, they shudder at the prospect. Warmth and comfort, they averr, have been highly underrated.
They seek shelter. Imagine them scurrying for cover.
The world is a harsh and cold place.
Do you have any wool?

Your sympathy for even smaller creatures is invited. Show some heart.
If necessary, carefully move the tiny critters and their nests.
Provide them with suitable food and beverages.
Give them warm hugs!
On good authority I have it that they like hot sweetened strong tea. Which I myself did not have, because the fine dining establishment where I had lunch does not do HK Milk Tea. Most siu mei restaurants are wanting in that regard. They specialize in roast meats, dishes which combine the roast meats that they do with other ingredients, and soups constructed with rich bone stock and noodle products. Siu yiuk and taufu over rice. Generously sauced. Sploodge of Canto chili oil (toasty flavour, not hot) and a dash red vinegar. Plus a bowl of soup. It was excellent, and seeing as it was mid-afternoon, few other customers. Bit of chit chat with the waitress, and off I went, happy as a clam. Except for my feet.
This cold weather is no friend to my podes.


Like most Wasps, I like my cup of tea. Hot, strong, sweet.
We had to wait till I got home again for that.
The podal Americans are happy.



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NASTY WAKE-UP

In a development that surprises no one, it turns out that the BBC News is little more than a mouthpiece for Rashida Tlaib. Which explains why the average Desi, Irishman, and Limey bastard is so miserably ill-informed. Almost as if they relied on Al Jazeera for all their news except the cricket scores. Which probably means I'll have to read the Dutch language and German press far more, as American News orgs are notoriously unreliable, and the British have become lying sacks of sh*t.

It also calls into question the reliability of Oxford and Dundee marmalades, certain famous brands of pipe tobacco, and many other British things. If they can not be trusted, can you trust their exports? I do not want to cut Patak's pickles and Yorkshire tea out of my life.

The EU is better off with those people out of it. Now if they can only persuade the Irish to follow suit, things will be perfect.


I suppose I could struggle to improve my reading abilities in the Scandinavian languages, seeing as like the Germans they have proven so reliable in mechanics, design, and pipe tobacco manufacturing, but they do have Greta Thunberg, and their favourite condiment seems to be mayonnaise, so perhaps not.
It's a bit of a quandary, what?

Thank you , snooty Brit bastards, for turning the world into a smaller nastier place, little more than hellishly illiterate and misinformed suburbs of Belfast, Dublin, and Glasgow.
Stelletje onverantwoorde huichelaars en klooie primitievelingen.


Your food still sucks, but we were okay with that.
No one would eat it except you.
Baked beans.


I might even have to get my French up to par also. But we English speakers are notoriously bad at that. Even Dutch and German are a bit of a stretch.



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INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY

This is what those people in Dublin, Glasgow, London, Oakland, and South Africa support. As well as the BBC and the UN.
Yes, I suppose sexual brutality IS common to all those places.
And part of the culture of both the BBC and the UN.



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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

AND OAKLAND ESPECIALLY

One effect of current world events is to make me resolve that I should, within reason, boycott and excoriate certain countries. Among very many: England, Ireland, Scotland, South Africa, and Sweden. Sadly, this means that I cannot buy baked beans in a can, surströmming, or anything from Oakland, California, which is an outpost of one of the above.

Exceptions being Guinness, Jameson Whisky, or Peterson briar pipes. Plus real marmelade (Oxford or Dundee) and Yorkshire tea. And pipe tobaccos from Germain & Son or Samuel Gawith. Because I am a practical man. And a pipesmoker.
As well as opportunistic.

I'll just go through life without baked beans or surströmming.
Or, for that matter, non-American-made haggis.


Boys, I'm going to be a real joy to be around on Burns Night or Saint Paddy's. Fershure.
And by the way, learn to speak English. It's the international language.
You'll need it if you visit the civilized world.
At this point, I look at most of the world with considerable jaundice. You're all stupid, eat too much, and your moms dress you funny. Most of your countries are primitive hellholes with angry ugly people, you are all too full of yourselves, and your societies would benefit from punitive programmes and the forced implimentation of literacy. Especially Oakland.

Most shoplifters and street yobbos in San Francisco are from Oakland.
Car jackings and vandalism? Manifestly Oakland behaviour.
Child abuse and Karenism?
Oakland.


If Oakland and most of its arsehole denizens were wiped off the map or put in camps in the desert, the world would be a better place. Drugs, venereal disease, violent crime, domestic abuse, and congenital stupidity would be nearly eradicated.

Replace it with Yorkshire.



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SUDDEN TORRENTIAL RAIN

Let's just say that lunch was educational. The mixed grill at a chachanteng, served on a hot iron plate, with fries and rice. A veritable mountain of meat. Not exceptionally good meat, but definitely meat. Plus onions. And thick cut French fries. Too much for a smallish appetited man to consume, so the pork chops came home with me. They'll work fine recooked with chilies and stalky mustard greens.

This may have contributed to my moodiness. I need to eat lightly to maintain my normal sunny disposition; a strained digestive system often leads to emotional vertigo.

Which meant that I was more sour over modern mankind than usual.
Although maintaining a facade of bonhomie toward everyone.
Not a shred of misanthropic tendencies evident.
Quite the perfect gentleman.

Three teabags and a caffeinated beverage during the pub crawl were of enormous benefit, however. By the time the bookseller and myself left the burger joint, it was raining, which it continued to do while were at the beat dive indulging in Guiness and tea, as well as at the karaoke bar sipping Jameson and tea. He's back from the East Coast, had a good vacation there, and came back anxious to hear young thugs slaughtering Bohemian Rapsody. Bismillah. Freddie Mercury is rolling over somewhere.
The picture of Spofford Alley above is how it looked in early October. At night at the end of November it looks recognizably similar, but the daylight at this time of year is more gloomy.

At the far end is where the mahjong parlours heap their garbage bags on Tuesday nights for the services to pick up. There are no kitchens in the gaming environments, everything is to-go, so the food containers and cardboard plates, as well as fried food leftovers, are a feast for the rats. A few of which were evident this evening.


Despite the promising title of this essay, the rain was not at all torrential. Scant, but steady. Enough to wet the pavement. Not anywhere near enough to overtax the drains or gutters. Had it started a bit earlier, it would have kept the bad singers indoors at home, instead of indoors in the karaoke place. Like, at least two hours earlier.

Modern twenty-somethings are scared of rain.
They haven't experienced hardship.
Their tattoos might run.
Or the hair-dye.



It's still raining.
Quite lovely.




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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

THE PASSING OF MOSQUITOES

Passage from as yet to be written Nabokov novel: "She came in from the terrace with her tea cup, as it had turned colder once the wind arose. Her elegant hand held the saucer steady, though faintly the vibration at the interface of the porcelains coloured the stillness. Then, after setting the tea down, she pensively re-lit her pipe. Perhaps she should think of dinner. Rendang from last night, perhaps, and long beans with salted fish and chilies. Then some klepon with a cup of coffee." If Sirin were still alive, it would be set in a villa near Baltic sea, but Vladimir Vladimirovich passed away over four decades ago in Montreux, Switzerland.
And, sadly, he never set his tales in the peat bog speckled landscape of Brabant.

Also, most women (still) don't smoke pipes.
So it would seem exxagerated.
Perhaps a little off.


It's also extremely likely that none of his characters would have a taste for Dutch Indonesian food -- anything with coconut milk and rubicund chili pastes, really -- and at the times of his writing, long beans (katjang pandjang) were not common enough in Europe that one could casually buy them at the market, thinking "oh, these look nice".
The region around Valkenswaard and other towns near the border with Belgium is boggy and woodsy, with rivers running through it, and pools of still water surrounded by trees and reeds. There are marshes where birds flock, and, as one would expect in so moist an area, mosquitoes are a fact of life from the end of April till the beginning of October.

It's lovely there. One must take the mosquitoes for granted, and not think about them. During the summer months it is warm enough that one sleeps with the windows left wide open, and mosquito nets or coils are quite unavailable. Which seems inexplicable from this distance in time. I lived there till I was eighteen. I didn't buy any mosquito nets till long after I had left.
There are probably holes in my grey matter from the bug repellants in South East Asia.


My apartment mate still has the mosquito net up around her bed. Mine haven't been hauled out of storage in years. A pipe smoking Dutchman is far less tempting to bloodsuckers than a Cantonese American woman, by a very long shot. And if neccesary I'll just light some snow pear (Sydney Aloes wood) incense to chase them away.

If I ever have a romantic involvement, I'll bring the nets out.
It would be the gentlemanly thing to do, don't you think?



In the meantime, I'll just indulge in salt fish, garlic, ginger, chilies, slow-simmered meats and lovely vegetables, coffee, tea, pipe tobacco, and fondling my briar pipes for want of tactile and emotional excitement. As well as disagreeing with the rightwing hosebags that often occupy the backroom at work.

Plus using my computer to draw things.
That seems to keep me sane.



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Monday, November 27, 2023

A SONG IS MISSING

Something on the net reminded me of a lovely poem by Su Tungpo about exile. Which, for much of his life, he was in. As were most scholars serving the empire for over two millenia.
In fact, if an official was posted to his home area, to the eyes of history and many of his contemporaries it might like something quite suspicious was going on.

[Convenient pay-offs, leading to "convenient" pay-offs down the line.]


Basically the poem reads about the length of time spent far way, desolate places, and utter loneliness, sometimes letters from home, night time, sadness, and the image of the moon above a landscape of pines and frost.


Lyrics to the 'River City' tune .
Whatever that song was.
Unknown now.


An attempt at calligraphicating it.
The first three words of the poem.
Meh. My writing is mediocre.

江城子·乙卯正月二十日夜記夢
Dreams on the twentieth of the first month of Yi Mao.

蘇軾
By Su Shi (Su Tungpo)


十年生死兩茫茫,不思量,自難忘。
千里孤墳,無處話智涼。
仵使相逢應不識,塵滿面,雅如霜。

夜來幽夢忽還鄉,小軒窗,正梁發。
相顧無言,唯有淚千行。
料得年年腸斷處,明月夜,短松冰。


The poem is worth looking up. I'm not going to translate it, because like my calligraphy my translating abilities are not up to the task. In a sense we are all in exile.
Some of us from the abilities we wish we had.

It's tea time. I'm heading out for snackies.



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COCKTAILS! YOU KIDS NEED COCKTAILS!

Best line on the internet sofar this morning: "That's nice sweetie, do you need a cigarette?" Presumably said to a ten-year old. And I can now imagine all my responsible readers of the Karen-persuasion reacting in outrage. Because today's cigarettes are NOT as good as the smokes available in the early fifties, when America was prosperous and on top of the world. Top knotch tobacco, toasted for flavour, and recommended by nine out of ten doctors to maintain your girlish figure and avoid pudge. Instead of candy.

Yes, I'm sorry, Three Castles rolling tobacco is no longer available either. That was some of the best rolling tobacco, sweet aged Virginia in the iconic pale pistacchio green tin. Damn'!


Although I didn't experience it, I miss the post-war period when people felt that they had won the lottery, had scant care about the long-term ill effects of their horrible lifestyle, and lived at full tilt. Asbestos was everywhere!

Did you know that cigarettes could increase your bust size?
The magazine advertisements dramatically showed it.
They just couldn't print it if it wasn't true.

You must, you must, increase your bust!
A reader left a comment underneath an essay from 2014.

Asking whether blended Scotch could be substituted for Bourbon in a mixed drink.

THE HENRY DARGER
Two ounces Bourbon, a Maraschino cherry, and a dash of grenadine. Icecubes, highball glass. Squirt of ginger ale. Two or three drops of bitters optional.


I don't see why not. Blended Scotch is quite similar to American style whiskey.


Like all middle-aged Dutch Americans, I relish thinking about alcoholic beverages while on my second cup of coffee in the morning. Anything to chase away the Monday blues. And in that vein, I also enjoy being reminded again about bikini briefs, which have a low waistband, in contrast to granny panties, whereas French cuts have high leg openings canted forward. Note: high cuts have deep leg openings more in-tune with a natural design and a waistband slightly on the high side ('boy shorts', also called 'tap panties', and 'boy cut panties' are a low-cut style that covers most of the bottom and hips. They resemble boxers somewhat, and are both flattering and modest, as they do not show the typical pantie line). And, precisely like the alcoholic beverage discussed above, I shan't indulge. It's more for the intellectual frisson.

That 2014 post was a gay bit of risqué blather. It also mentioned undergarments.


Fourteen years ago I invented the Henry Darger and taught it to several local bar tenders. Cool, refreshing, perverted, and delightful on a warm day. I am glad to see that it is gaining wider traction. Do not assume that I will have it soon, though. Instead, I'm thinking about lunch, tea, and what book to grab for later, while indulging in a bowl of Cornell & Diehl's Carolina Red Flake (small batch) from a year ago, when I laid in a stash.

I have tobacco. I have tea and other caffeinated beverages.
Likewise hot sauces, sambal, and other condiments.
As well as a tonne of books to read.

What I do not have are panties.
Those are quite lacking.
It's an emptiness.



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Sunday, November 26, 2023

AMPLE PARKING

Let's divide the day into three blocks. The first block had one of the less gaga gentlemen in the backroom telling another one at great length about the time a few years ago that he and someone else had gone to Vegas. They stayed at a hotel, which he recommended doing. He had shaved a number of times while there. "When I do the left side, I go clockwise, whereas on the right it's always counter clockwise. It's a game changer."

"Clockwise, counter clockwise. Game changer. Stunned you, stunned you!"

[Good lord, man, that's ... thrilling!]

By the time of the second block, other gentlemen had arrived, no doubt chased out of the house by their better (and saner) halves. Vituperation, political arguments, and gibbering commentary about the game. "You're a moron, you know that? A moron."

The third block was taken up with buffing pipe stems, one of the worst lunches I've eaten, and pleasant discussion with a friend who had dropped by while ignoring the monkeys.
I really should have offered him a cup of tea, but I forgot.

Rotten stone, fine grit, and Pu Erh.
My friend tried a bowl of Steamworks, a very fine flake by Jeremy Reeves at Cornell & Diehl, which to me is as good a replacement for some long discontinued tobacco products as one will ever find. A limited edition, which goes very well with either pizza or tea.

I mentioned the pizza (Jeremy is also a wood-fire pizza chef) particularly because I would have vastly preferred a big slice of pizza over the miserable and far too salty convenience store sandwich that I had; even with gobs of hot sauce, it still tasted like crap. Cheap all American crap. Marin County, as you know, is the middle of the country distilled for prosperous suburbanites.

While I wouldn't live there if you paid me (being quite comfy in my digs in San Francisco), my esteemed coworkers love the place and couldn't live anywhere else. They appreciate the proximity of crystal healing, gluten-free vegan delicacies, colourful ethnic clothing, and Mercedes or BMW vehicles without which no one could possibly live.
As well as Ferraris and Porsches. For better living.


There is very little to eat in Marin.
And sambal doesn't exist.



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DUTCH POPULIST BLOWHARD

The Dutch recently voted, resulting in the party of the xenophobes, racists, and rightwing scumballs, achieving more seats in parliament than ever before. This is a shock. And quite naturally the rest of Europe is worried that those eventempered Dutch will now invade and send their minorities to death camps in the East or sumpin'.

Being both Dutch and American, I naturally have a clear view of this.
Those foreignese really need not worry.
We have salt mines!

While I disagree with and despise him, the Arabs and Turks created Geert Wilders, so any statements by them about him are unhelpful and unwanted. They should shut up and crawl back into their holes. And we should stop trying to explain this election to the non-Dutch world; they have no voice and no veto, and it ain't their circus, or their monkeys.
Iedereen dus, bek godverdomme dicht.

Especially Fox News.



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Saturday, November 25, 2023

HABEUS CORPUS

Now that 'black Friday' is over, it's 'sad regret Saturday'. You've had too much turkey. You stood in line for ten hours with a thousand other people. You froze in the unseasonal snow flurries. You achieved what you believe is success and meaning in life by purchasing the latest version of Wank Box. You had visions of sugar plums!


You know I disapprove of you, right?


As an heir to many generations of severely judgemental Dutch Calvinists -- the family tree is sodden with them -- and having a strong and superior sneering streak anyway, I dislike the commercialization of Christmas intensely. Yule is NOT about gifties and luxury products. It's about an unwed teenage mother, the man who went ahead and got hitched to her despite her bullshit story, and the bastard she brought forth in a crowded cattle pen, who ended up being condemned to death for smarm, perversion, withcraft, and fomenting rebellion. Like Leon Trotsky, "his enemies done him in". Unlike Trotsky, he was a bit of a hippie. I would disapprove of him too, except I never knew him, and actually doubt he even existed. He's probably just a convenient story the rowdies made up. There are several years missing, the tale is full of ridiculously impossible plot holes, and there is no trail of evidence, OR even halfway believable circumstantial evidence.

And because of that, you bought another Wank Box.
I've got a bridge to sneeringly sell you.

The only part of Christmas of which I approve is yuppies drinking themselves into a stupour during Santa Con and possible expiring from alcohol poisoning and exposure to the elements during the coldest part of the year, and the crabfeed in good company on Christmas eve.


Any part of this which brings you Wankboxers joy is ab initio odious.
Especially little children singing. Quite nauseating, that.
There is just so much that's repulsive.


I'll let myself out now. Not allowed to smoke my pipe indoors anymore anyway.
It offends the glutenphobics, vegans, and green people.
Apparently I kill butterflies.



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Friday, November 24, 2023

IT WAS SMOOTH

Lunch yesterday was a simple bowl of rice porridge and a fried dough stick. Which I enjoyed immensely in an environment totally free of tourists, seeing as it is foreordained that large people from the red states don't touch stuff like that in Chinatown -- or the scrumptious siumai that were also on offer there -- because it's not deepfried or sweet.
Slippery chicken congee: 滑雞粥 ('gwat gai juk').

The customers at that time consisted of two old grannies scarfing noodles, a Mandarin speaking family of which the father was Cantonese, and a geezer.
Besides myself, I mean.

It's a place I need to go to more often. Despite the lack of Hong Kong Milk Tea. I left totally satisfied and fortified. Dang there's a huge number of tourists visiting the city. Chinatown was probably the only neighborhood that was open, even the grocery store where I get many of my condiments and dry noodles was doing a booming business, although they do not cater in the slightest to outsiders.
While I was lunching, several groups of tourists did come in, look at the foods and point, and, after due consideration, without once asking questions or buying anything, leave. Because nothing looked crustily deepfried or glopped with reddish syrup sauce. At least, I assume that's why. I believe all foods in the red states are either deepfat fried, or slightly burned, and served with sweet glazy sauces. It would account for girth, I guess, but begs the question did they need a shoehorn to leave the plane or do flight crews apply lubricants?

If those people made congee, the major ingredient would be refined sugar, followed by food colouring. Instead of nice bits of chicken, it would be barbecue pork and brisket, and instead of a fried dough stick they'd serve waffles alongside. And it would come in a bucket.


All day yesterday social media was filled with pictures of inedible stuff.
Too which I contributed also; I posted a painting of haggis.


Candied tubers and wheat starch tubes with American cheesefood extrudite are NOT festive. Squash à l'Américaine and succotash aren't even edible. Duck is a much much better bird, consider a cheese plate later, and don't invite your rightwing uncle the alcoholic or your dreary maiden aunts the fervent believers.

Pie? Pie is good. Keep the pie.

Ditch the pumpkin.



Yes, I did have grilled animal protein and noodly substances later, along withe shrimp and potatoes. My apartment mate cooked. Too much. She likes food, and likes sharing.
She is a generous person. Very much appreciated.



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Thursday, November 23, 2023

GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE

For my second pipe of the day, I had shut the apartment door behind me, then heard my downstairs neighbor leaving her place. When I heard the front door sneck, I padded down to the front hall only to see her on the steps, dressed up, probably waiting for her brother to pick her up. She's elderly Chinese Indonesian. Obviously he's elderly Chinese Indonesian.
I'm an anti-social middle-aged Dutch American on holidays.
I do not want to pleasantly chit or chat.
So I delayed myself.

That's also the reason I was brutal in my responses to Michael calling from Accident Claim Expediters when he blind-called me to try and weasel my bank account number and other data. "Sir, you have been in an accident in the last two years, we're here to ..... ". Be specific Michael, specific. WHEN did this happen? "Sir, we .... " SPECIFIC, Michael!
"Oh sir ..." No no, the specific time and place!
The turkey hung up.

It is not Thanksgiving in India.

Any accident I've been involved in didn't involve a car, because I don't possess a vehicle and nobody hit whatever convenyance I was in at any time. Honestly, it was probably green bean casserole, which is a disaster threatening us all, a fright to man and beast, if anything even remotely accidental happened. Which, Michael-ji, it didn't. Because I abjure casserole.
Green bean casserole is the American answer to Haggis. Actually, nine out of ten traditional Thanksgiving dishes are the American answer to Haggis. Most of them are not eaten under any circumstances during the rest of the year. You call this pie?
Good lord, you frightful pagans!

I'm probably going out for a comforting bowl of congee and a yautiu later.
I am grateful that I do not have to touch green bean casserole.
And that many accidents can be avoided.
Like conversation.


Enjoy your various haggis.



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FIRE CHICKEN DAY

One of them was going to try that new Toisaan place that opened up. Poujaifaan for dinner. Because he's bored with the stuff near where he lives; two chachantengs and a popular Canto place that isn't as good since they sold it. The other place is closed for a week.
Oh, and Henry passed away. Ninety three years old, in his sleep.

That last item saddened me, but I'm looking forward to a review of the poujaifaan with lap mei. Seeing as I likewise am sometimes bored with my regular places. And I note that it's been ages since I've had Baked Portuguese Chicken Rice (焗葡國雞飯 'guk pou gwok gai faan'). The two chachanteng where I used to have reasonable versions of it have not existed since before the pandemic, so I can't really blame stupid white people poncing around without masks, though I want to.

Baked Portuguese Chicken Rice is a very Hong Kong dish inspired somewhat by Maccanese cuisine. Chicken and potato chunks in mild coconut curry sauce on top of egg fried rice, with a sprinkle of cheese to melt under the broiler. Sometimes green bell pepper or mushroom is added. The worst versions have large onion pieces and flavourless chicken bits in miserable white sauce (白汁 'paak jap'), mostly cornstarch water not even a proper béchamel, wich must have roux, milk and cream, with a pinch of nutmeg, as you know.

By the way: some chachantengs elsewhere also have lasagna (千層麵 'chin chang min').
So I'm curious. The connection is with béchamel.
Today being Thanksgiving, I haven't a clue what I'm eating later. I was wondering about that during my walk with a pipe earlier. No turkey. Many of the possible places are closed, or will be crowded. And I'm not particularly social on holidays.

Besides, I don't want to advertise that I'm unattached single no family.
So familiar places are somewhat out of the question.
Maybe a bowl of congee around noon.
That's kind of discreet.



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Wednesday, November 22, 2023

CHINA CITY THEATRE

It had already been closed for a while when I moved to the neighborhood; a fading poster showed a coming attraction that looked both wholesome and revolutionary featuring a pretty woman. Probably something in which the righteous heroine fights the Japs, struggles with the evil landlord, and the party emerges victorious as steel quotas are surpassed.
Which, now, I'm sad I never saw.

The building went through several lives over time.

Shanghai Theatre from 1911 to 1911 or 1912, then the Kearney Theatre till the early thirties, when it became the Kearney Burlesque, which then became the Teatro Rex in 1945 showing Spanish language films, then Fillipino films. It finally became the Bella Union in 1948. Which showed Chinese movies from 1964 onward (Chinese name: 華都戲院 'waa dou hei yuen'), eventually closing in 1984. The lease was not renewed in 1985. And for years it seemed deserted. A pity, because it had looked so promising.

[Data from this site: San Francisco Theatres, this article: The Shanghai / Kearny / Bella Union Theatre.]

My best recollection is sheltering there from the rain a few times with my pipe.
It's doubtful that Little Shoe ever knew that it was either the Shanghai (he was from Shanghai) or a burlesque theatre. He would have found that thrilling.

[Little Shoe: well, I can't call him 'tinkle', which is what his Chinese name translates to. And 'little' because he only came up to his blonde girlfriend's shoulders. You can imagine where his eyes were. And where they went.]


That entire area is different now. The three Shanghainese businesses (a basement store with music tapes, a noodle kitchen, and a fun little restaurant with dumplings and hot sauce) have all gone, the hole in the ground where the International Hotel had stood is now Saint Mary's Girls School and a campus for City College, and Clown Alley no longer exists (that space having become Sai's Vietnamese Restaurant recently.

The building is still there. It is much changed.



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IT'S NOT THE SAME LOCK AND KEY

My apartment mate is, I realize, much more on the spectrum than me. Seeing as her social media presence is quite minimal. She hasn't updated her FB profile in years, other than to remove all mention of her boyfriend (Wheelieboy), with whom she broke up quite a while ago. And while she has contributed to comment strings about queer obsessions, she's sporadic in that regard. Fragmentary.

Unlike her, I am not fascinated by pimple or cyst removal. Not at present, not ever. I tend not to obsess about things or occupy the same mental exercise wheel too long.

Yes, okay, you've noticed that the same subjects seem to come up here, and get overworked. But I assure you there is variety, a surprisingly wider span.

The fields aren't always the same, it's not always fluffy wheat
As regards to that scene in the painting, I may have also done a version a while back. It's fields in Autumn outside Valkenswaard in the Kempen, where I used to live. Certainly I've done similar and related pictures. A native of that region would probably feel something familiar, perhaps intensely.


I have NO idea how it relates to the woman in my dream. Younger, Indonesian Chinese, with a curved forehead like the waitress at the restaurant where I ate yesterday, and gentle eyes like the little Filipino Chinese boy who dined there with all of his family, fried chicken, rice, and something noodly. They drank Coca Cola. A quiet family, not loud. The Chinese news on the screen overhead showed a row of convicts being paraded and a listing of their crimes.
Which I believe were connected with education.


Earlier there had been a long segment about the bunkers north of Kowloon. The Gin Drinkers Line. Which proved ineffective against the Japanese. Maybe all that somehow relates to the Indonesian woman, who is herself a composite of Filippinos eating, a person I knew years ago who had never been anywhere near South East Asia, and a short Jewish woman with whom I worked for several weeks when I was much younger.

The background music in the dream was the March of the Drozdovsky Regiment.

Wheatfields in the Kempen were definitely in the dream.
Along with coconut chocolate bon bons.


I may have mentioned the effect of medication on my dreams.
Coffee before bed may have played a part.



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Tuesday, November 21, 2023

LOOKS UNGOOD, TASTES BEAUTIFUL

It's visually not very appealing, so most Caucasians I know, and a Parsee, would not find it appetizing. And aesthetically it benefits enormously from a sprinkle of chopped scallion, a very light dusting of smoked paprika for colour, and a drop or two of fragrant sesame oil. Evenso, it won't win any beauty pageants or cooking shows. Both Jamie Oliver and Rachel Ray won't know what to make of it, and for that reason alone it's also a winner.
And it goes well with sambal and rice.

Steamed pork belly with shrimp sauce and ginger.
蝦醬蒸五花肉 ('haa jeung jeng ng faa yiuk').

Yeah, no actual recipe.

Pork belly (五花腩 ng faa naam') is beloved by the Cantonese and other southern Chinese, and similar to bacon. Alternating layers of fat and meat that properly prepared (and it's hard to mess it up) is absolutely divine. Hakkas do it with salt vegetable (梅菜 'mui choi') and a long cooking time, it's also good simmered in soy sauce and rice wine, or red stewed.
Simply steamed, with a spoonful of stinky shrimp sauce and plenty of ginger shreds, it's something everyone remembers from their grandmother, then prepares for their white friends, who cautiously and gingerly extend their forks to taste it. Hesitant.
Good lord, what is this?

You could also prepare it with salt mustard stems (榨菜 'jaa choi), for an equally not very nice looking dish. And your white friends will likely again be somewhat unenthused.

Most white people, and Thais and Shanghainese, are very visually judgemental about food.
If it doesn't look like something they would eat, they won't eat it.


Remarkably, the English are also like that, despite their own "cuisine" looking mostly like lumps, muck, and sludge. And not tasting good.


NOTE: This is NOT a dish to discuss with your physician or nutritionist.
Even if, like mine, they are Cantonese, and at Chinese Hospital.
Despite their having enjoyed such things.
They might object.




Chunks of pork belly, spoonful shrimp sauce, a good measure of ginger coarsely shred-cut, small jigger rice wine or sherry, pinch of white pepper and or five spice powder. Place it all in a shallow bowl and steam for an hour and half, up to two hours, once the water boils in the steamer. Serve with rice, a vegetable, and sambal.




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POETIC EXAGGERATION

It irritates me that there are people out there poncing around in this ghastly weather in their shirtsleeves, and wearing shorts. Or even tee-shirts. Don't they realize that its cold and wet and dark and freezingly wintery out there? The hibernal season is upon us, with sneezing and shivering and the hiemal gales. Water and sleet and snow and ice!

The climactic period of utter misery.
Shivering and hibernation!

That is to say, as a person with a tropic temperament, as we Dutch naturally are, it is quite uncomfortable for me, but for some people -- and one presumes them to be natives of Stavangar and Novoya Zemla, and even worse places further north -- it is positively summery out there. Why, mid to high fifties is balmy! How offensive of them!

I ran into a neighbor on the bus yesterday wearing flip-flops.
She's Canto American, born in the US.
Alaska, I think.
The reason why you don't see people shooting up or sleeping in abandoned doorways in the picture above is because they froze to death and we are using their stiffened corpses to seal the seawall that keeps the city from washing away in the storm, all hands on deck and plug the breaches. Even the Fox News crew that croaked from exposure to elements; their puffy anoraks and fleece-lined coats swollen with moisture and filling the cracks. It's sad, but Fox employees are not endangered and no one will miss them. Well, except Trump and Kari Lake, desperate attention whores wondering why there isn't a camera and recording equipment hanging on their every word.


They should come to San Francisco. Every Fox crew in the world wants to come here. We've got heathens and pot and wild-eyed naked people running around. Far more exciting than Arizona and Florida with nothing but straightlaced upstanding Christians.
And bigots.



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Monday, November 20, 2023

THE UTTER DUTCHNESS OF THINGS

One of the people in a social media realm who has been a friend for several years as well as someone whose points of view I share asked me "Mijneer... Okay, I'm officially confused. Do you originally come from the Netherlands or just know the language? Or somewhere in between? Or just tell me to f**k off and mind my own business..."

To which I answered: "My father's family is Anglo and Dutch from New York, heavy on the Dutch. Because Calvinists didn't marry outside the fold for several centuries, my mother was a very distant relative, which I didn't find out till doing genealogical research. We moved from southern California to the Netherlands when I was two, I came back for college when I was eighteen, and consequently speak and read Dutch fluently, and because of my reading interests also read several mediaeval and dialect versions of Dutch. Thanks to my social environment when I was growing up in Holland, Indonesian language, food, and chilipaste are like mother's milk to me. Hot, buttered, lumpy, mother's milk."

The most common version of post-mediaeval but not yet modern standard Dutch many people know is the language of the Staten Bijbel translation, often coupled with the lovely versions of our language as employed by Peter Datheen and Marnix van Sint Aldegonde in theology and literature during the sixteenth century. Of course nowadays, most of us Dutch-fluent people are Jack-Calvinists at best. We are familiar with our ancestral practices, but we've run away from religion and the only part we still practice is severe disapproval, often random, of nearly every one else. Coupled with giggling and sneering "tolerance". Basically, we had high hopes for you lot, you saw the splendid example we set, and yet you do not strive in any way to be like us. How sad.


Chilipaste (sambal) is the one great glue that no Dutch larder or dinner table should be without. As well a building block for subsequent more complex sambal. From simple inclusions of just fishpaste, garlic, lime juice, or tomato, to complex thick-simmered concoctions with coconut milk, curry spices, and odd vegetable bits or dry fish, as well as stirfried side dishes made rubicund with fresh hot chilies. The Dutch jarred versions, though immensely varied, are fairly simple.

Uncle Janeiko went through three-quarters of jar of green chili sambal over two or three visits to my father's house during my visit a few years ago. Casually, dumped over some left-overs on which he was snacking. It was extremely hot. He had been born in Java.


By the way: we are also an argumentative bunch, disagreeing with stated opinions by other people is something that comes naturally to us. So if there are any comments by Dutch readers underneath this essay, I fully expect them to be contrary.

For instance: "Sambal? Absurd! No Dutchman can survive without Mayo (or mustard). You NEVER put sambal on 'broodje shwarma' (or the NRC Handelsblad, whatever). You, Mijnheer, are an idiot!" Then they'll refuse to comment any further.
They've had their say and 'proven' their point.
Punt uit.



Mayo? Mayo?!?!?! Gatsamenoe! Malloot!




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A BIBLICAL FLOOD

The problem with American football is that you end up with a backroom full of hyperexcited old men, several of whom are proveably and demonstably out of their minds. And you find out what the limits are of industrial strenght incontinence pants, as fitted tightly over the wrinkled grey behinds of the elderly population of Marin County.

The game was that exciting that it was educational.

That, and John pushed the envelope by pouring generously. A very nice smoky Scotch with a lovely pale gold hue and deep fruity peat nose. Being an abstainer (because someone there keeps his wits about him at all times), I merely smelled it, but the clean-up afterwards had a rack of drying glasses worthy of a classy bar downtown, instead of a run-down barn out in the hinterlands beyond sight of the bridges which mark the border between the civilized world and the rebel jungle filled with savege headhunting heathens, Hamas-supporting swine, feral Glaswegians eating corpse flesh, and tattooed savages into miracle honey, apple cider vinegar, and crystal healing.
The marriage of the member of the judicial branch has undoubtedly survived because he has a place where he can scream, swear, rant, and have his foaming at the mouth fits in peace, rather than subjecting his long suffering fascist wife to the ruckus. She's used to rightwing idiots, but even she would cock an eye-brow at his antics if she knew the half of it.

He is, as you would expect, a supporter of the local team.

The very fibre of his being, down to his bowels.

About which we shall not speak.



John, pouring fine peaty Scotch onto these weakminded Marin wreckages, is an evil man. Few of them should drive even sober. They are responsible for eighty percent of the freeway roadkill and ninety plus percent of the dead pets in their county. You're missing a toddler who normally dashes across the freeway perfectly fine every day but you haven't seen him since the game? Blame them. He's flat as a pancake. Won't ever make it back from Sunday school again. Oh well, one less paper plate at the table, and fewer people swilling your diet soda or using up that huge stash of toilet paper that you laid down three and a half years ago when idiot Foxviewers panicked over bumwad. Sad.

The regular 'Scream For The Team and Jesus Tail Gate' won't seem the same, will it? My piles bleed for you, Christian sportsfan. Go ahead, weep. I won't call you a pussy like I normally would. You're a bobcat. A fierce Christian bobcat.
A defiant bobcat for Jesus and the 49ers.
You beast you.

By the way, what was the toddlers name?

Oh, you can't remember it either?

He was born during a game.



By the way: it rained during these past few days. Something fierce. Also, left-over Kabuli Pilau from the nearby Afghan place makes a splendid dinner after dealing with soggy old yutzes screaming at the teevee during the day. Just add chicken koftas and plenty sambal, and have a strong cup of coffee to wash it all down as well as the Amlodipine Besylate.
May cause dizziness.



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Sunday, November 19, 2023

THE AIR, THE SEA, THE GLOWING LIGHTS

An entire generation is approaching adulthood without knowing the famous billboard advertising an iconic brand near the airport. No, not SFO. And the brand is not particularly under fire there. It's just that the airport is no longer an airport. That exciting urban conglomeration now has a bigger and better airport. Which is safer, too.
After a landing that might have scared your pants off, you were welcomed by the promise of a cowboy cigarette glowingly publicized to the north of the plane, left hand side.
Smooth. Rich. Comforting. So, so wholesome.


Upon exiting the plane, you put your pants back on and lit up.
Then you gratefully cracked a can of Coca Cola.
Life was commercial.
Good.



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Saturday, November 18, 2023

THE REPTILE HOUSE

So it rained. And as I was leaving for work in the morning, I said "oh darn, I forgot my umbrella". And wondered if I should go back for it. It only would have taken a minute.
By three o'clock I realized I had made a dreaful mistake.

The problem with rain is it keeps the clapped-out old codgers indoors. In the room in back. Where, if dog man has not taken his medicine, he keeps on blathering meaninglessly, the retired member of the judiciary rants, raves, and spittle fountains, and the bald degenerate spewes venom. It was good that the pro-Palestinians and the natural hippie weren't there, but the self-made eccentric graduate of the Renaissance Faire showed up and taxed my patience. The only thing that was truly a blessing was that little white nipple dude is not allowed to drive by his folks under adverse conditions. He has a strong opinion about the Renaissance Faire (and about many other things), and it would have taken more than an hour for him to ellucidate it in very boring data-poor detail.

You know, I'm a saint is what I am.
I exude tolerance for all men.
And glow with bonhomie.
Sometimes I wish the flood waters would come up to the drempel and wash it all away. Biblical. The rainy season, when I am at work, is forty days of drivel.
I am often excruciated.


On the other hand, I can smoke indoors while there. So that is good. And there was a very pleasant discussion about Samuel Gawith, Germain & Son, and how Latakia tobacco ages over several years. Does it fade with age? It does. But while an authority states that it's over the hill at ten years, I have puffed twenty and thirty year old Balkans with great enjoyment. The only thing wich had paled too much was a fifty year old tin of John Cotton's 1 & 2.
It was still good. Exciting even. But quite softened in flavour.

A later discussion delved into Orlik's Golden Sliced.
Which is a reasonable standby at times.
If you are partial to Virginias.



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Friday, November 17, 2023

WE'RE LESS WELCOMING THAN MEETS THE EYE

The place where I bought herbal medicine a few times before my insurance kicked in is now a general grocery store. The old gentleman must have retired. I had intended to have lunch at an eatery run by a family from Toisan, but because they're closed Thursdays, I went further down, and had an enjoyable meal in a familiar place. Most of them are familiar places.
This one had roast pork and rice (燒五花腩飯 'siu ng faa naam fan').
Which was absolutely delicious.

That eatery is opposite the old fellow's herb shop.
Last time I was there was six months ago.

Pipe, then late tea at a bakery.
Pleasant conversations.

Another pipe, and a stroll down to Clay and Battery for the bus home.
Which, please understand, meant grumpiness. Not only was it delayed, and I knew it was going to be rerouted (no surprise there), but because California Street had been blocked off, several of us ended up ten or twelve blocks away from where we would have disembarked. In the rain. With up and down slopes in between there and our destinations.

Instead of my walking stick, I had an umbrella.
One old fellow had a walker.



Okay, we've had a week of many out-of-towners being very important, and others rioting. Go home, all of you. And take those loud narco-terrorist visitors on Grant Avenue along.
As well as the giddy Mandarin-speakers who invaded the bakery.
Portland or Berkeley, es iz mir ganz sheissegal.

[Giddy Mandarin-speakers: Why giddy? Well, imagine that you've spent the entire last five days surrounded by crude narco-state diplomats and their business men, as well as obsequious yet ignorant Anglos (and even more businessmen), and you've politely eaten strange muck in surroundings which are both expensive and vulgar, while angry Berkeleyites a block away were howling something unintelligible. Then, quite by accident, you stumble into a very nice Chinese bakery. Where everyone looks familiar. And they have the same things that you snack on back home. Things you know. And little signs in understandable language that identify stuff. Charsiu sou, daan taat, lo po beng, and so forth. 叉燒酥、蛋撻、老婆餠,同其他。 "Oh! My snackies! At last, familiar turf, my snackies! How wonderful! How utterly lovely! Waaaaaah!"]


On second thought, don't take the Mandarin speakers with you. They've had to put up with you lot all week, they've suffered. They are ferklempt. They need a break.



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THE SMARTNESSES

Sometimes, out of the corner of your ear, you hear something that tingles. While we were eating she mentioned that she admired crows because...