At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Sunday, March 26, 2017


At the risk of offending a huge number of opinionated people, all of whom know far more about iconic food than I do and express that much better, it is time to put together a list of the things you really must consume in San Francisco, before we take all your money and leave you bruised and bleeding in a Tenderloin alleyway. Because you looked like such an easy mark, and we needed funds for drugs and healthcare.
Anyway, you didn't notice a thing.
You were smoking pot.


1. A burrito. Not one of those odd things from Chipotle, which may cause karma to hit you in the face, but an actual burrito made by someone who says "que". Filled, preferably, with meat. I suggest carnitas.

2. Crab. Stirfried with black bean and garlic, or ginger and scallion. Eat it with your hands. Do not say "ni hao" to the waitstaff unless you can continue the conversation in Mandarin.

3. Pho. Spelled with a squiggle over the "o" (phở), and pronounced "fuh". Southern style, with fresh basil leaves and beansprouts, often eaten for no logical reason with Sriracha sauce. Just ask for extra sliced green chili if you like it hot, and have a cold Vietnamese coffee afterwards.
See next entry.

4. Vietnamese coffee (cà phê sữa đá). Made with Louisiana ground coffee, which has chicory added, served in a drip glass over a glop of condensed milk. Stir it up after finishing your phở, and pour it over the ice cubes in the taller glass.

5. Crab. Again. This time plain cooked (or steamed), with iceberg salad, sourdough bread, and a bottle of wine. And feel free to say "ni hao" to the waiter. He's either Italian or North African, and doesn't really care.

6. Dim sum. Go to Yank Sing, which many local Chinese sneer at because it's a little more expensive, but the quality is superb, stellar, extraordinary, and the selection is better than anywhere else.

7. Chow mein in Chinatown at a place that serves mostly Chinese people. Apparently all kinds of weird things are sold in the vast interior under the name 'chow mein', I've heard horror stories oh boy, so you probably can't get anything like the real stuff at home.

8. Oysters at Swan's on Polk Street ("Swan's Oyster Depot"), plus a salad with their house vinaigrette (made with crab fat!). Then a day or two later get their combination salad sandwiches, pick up a bottle of white at the Jug Shop (five blocks up Polk Street), and go have a picnic somewhere.
Top of Nob Hill in the park, for instance.

9. Cioppino. Do not bother with any of the places on the wharf, it's a crap-shoot down there. North Beach is a better option, but ask a local (in other words not a taxi driver).

10. Something seafood at the Tadich Grill. It's an institution.

11. Snacks and mai tais at the Tonga Room, which is the tiki bar to end all tiki bars. They have regular rain storms inside, by the way.

12. Anything at the Zuni Cafe.

13. A banquet at the R & J Lounge (嶺南小館 'ling naam siu kun'). Either downstairs (casual) or upstairs (private dining rooms). Excellent food, stellar service, and a high tolerance for your weird antics. The last time I was there one of the members of the party kept swearing in Cantonese, and they took it all in stride. We stuffed ourselves.

14. A burger and fries at Sam's on Broadway. It's a hole-in-the-wall dive, right up the street from strip clubs and across from the Sam Wong Hotel (formerly the 'Hotel Colon'). Do NOT drink the house red.

15. A steak at Harris Steakhouse on Van Ness at Pacific. Dry-aged beef, done properly, and great service. Make a reservation beforehand, and have a cocktail to start (a Manhattan or a Martini). They'll remember how you like your cocktails the next time you come.

16. Visit Belden Alley and pick one of the restaurants at random. You'll have fun and great food, and later you can go around the corner to the Occidental Cigar Club for a cigar and another drink to finish.

17. Roast duck in Chinatown. I recommend either the Kam Po on Powell (港新寶燒腊小食 'gong san po siu laap siu sik'), or Gourmet Delight Barbecue on Stockton (新凱豐燒臘店 'san hoi fung siu laap dim').
Have it chopped into manageable pieces first.

18. Late night eats at Yuet Lee (悅利海鮮飯店 'yuet lei hoi sin fan dim') corner of Stockton and Broadway or the Sun Hong Kong (新香港酒家 'san heung kong jau kaa') on Broadway at Columbus. You've had a lot to drink, last call was a while ago, and boy jayzis are you hungry.
We all are. These are the places.

19. Maple glazed donut (a 'bar', also known as a 'long john' in some parts of the country) filled with custard at Bob's Donuts on Polk Street at two o'clock in the morning after singing your tiny little heart out at the karaoke bar around the corner on California. Either that or a fresh apple fritter straight out of the deepfryer at around three A.M..
It's good for the throat.
Trust me.

20. Stirfried Chinese broccoli (芥蘭 'gaai laan') OR mustard stalk (油菜 'yau choi') with oyster sauce (蠔油,蚵油 'ho yau'). Or water spinach (通菜 'tung choi'). Yes, in Chinatown. Just do it, okay?
蠔油芥蘭,蠔油油菜,蠔油通菜 (呢個,或者嗰個,或者嗰個其他嘅嘢)。

Or you could spend an arm and a leg at any one of our critically acclaimed restaurants, along with all the other folks who read guidebooks and the latest must-eat lists.

Don't forget to have some Fernet Branca.

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Saturday, March 25, 2017


A few years ago when my companion and I broke up, I started hanging out a lot in Chinatown, because I am an anti-social sort of person, and random strangers who object to my smoking or wish to strike up a conversation about sports or space aliens irritate me. Cantonese people will not scream at smokers, and seldom if ever discuss the Niners.
Plus, being rather extraordinarily white, I am anonymous.
Unless you know me, you will think me unable to understand a word.
We Caucasians all look alike.


For several years I had not spent much time there, because my girlfriend was Chinese, and Chinese girls seeing white men excite eye-brows.
And mouths.

"Hah, must be Japanese, she's dating a kwailo!"

All such remarks in the home town dialect.
Fairly understandable to both of us.
"Keep a straight face, dear."
"Don't flame anyone."

Since the split, my ability to speak Cantonese has improved, and I am older now, so I merit a little more consideration. I am still white.

But Chinatown is no longer the same.

It isn't inhabited by people looking upwards anymore. There are too many empty commercial spaces, and many of the people who remain are not as convinced that they will succeed in America. There is, sometimes, a sense of being left behind. Plus one hears Mandarin more often, from outsiders slumming or looking for "colour". They've made it, their immediate families benefited enormously from corrupt business in the old country or American Educational opportunities, their parents and relatives own real-estate out in the Richmond or Sunset.

A rather large number of the businesses that catered to tourists have failed, because one cannot rely entirely on Midwesterners and Europeans (中西和歐洲人) for one's livelihood; it yields a scrawny rice bowl.

Evenso, Chinatown has stayed a good place to lurk.
I can still enjoy my pipe there, and listen in.
Old folks and children don't mind.

Sometimes I wish that there were still as many bakeries, coffee shops, and chachanteng as before. Or that place on Jackson, where they had frogs.

I like frogs; they're cute food.

Yeah, that last line was there primarily to startle. I've eaten eel far more often than frog, and honestly, they aren't much better than chicken.

For an oversight of the neighborhood, click here: 唐人街 Chinatown. It will bring up a rather large number of essays on this blog, most recent first. You will note that my attitudes have changed (as have I), and the place is also different.

But you can still get frogs.

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Friday, March 24, 2017


There appears to be a misapprehension about chow mein in the United States. Many people seem to believe that it is composed of deep-fried noodles with a glop of saucy muck on top. This is a travesty.
Chow mein should be wheat noodles barely boiled, added to a roomy fry pan after sliced scallion and ginger have been gilded and another ingredient has been added. High heat, frazzle, splash of liquid, with or without stock and sauce-type additions. Served glistening, NOT crisp.

A minor inclusion of vegetables -- tiny bokchoy, gailan, celery, or even carrots if you are peculiar -- is also acceptable. Even welcome.

Think of it as a noodle dish that is lightly dressed.
Not bollixed up to a fare-thee-well.
Nor browned.


If you cannot even smell the scallion and ginger, that isn't chow mein. It is something, I shan't try to guess what, but it may not be quite edible.

If you are a New Yorker, from New England or the Midwest, or Indian (subcontinental), you probably do not know this.

The "other ingredient" mentioned above is usually pork, sometimes beef (mostly in America), rarely shrimp. Small pieces, so that they cook fast.
A total exception being made, of course, for a pork chop. Liquid additions to reduce and slightly glaze the amalgam being water, stock, sherry or rice wine, and soy sauce in a minute quantity. Yes, I know that everybody outside of Chinatown wants to add enough soy sauce to float a battleship, but mahogany-hued noodles are not chow mein. That's crap that you serve in a school cafeteria or at a church supper in Minnefriggingsota.

Chili paste can also be added during the cooking process, but is better thought of afterwards, when the waitress brings a steaming plate of goodness to your table, and you ask for the bottle of Sriracha.

Serve me something else and I may scream.

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Thursday, March 23, 2017


Just had a long discussion on the internet about the term "gender fluidity". Which, given that I am "gender settled" or whatever it's presently called, is a term I had heretofore never heard. Gender is like glass; technically it's a liquid. Or something. And there are several terms I must not ever use.

Including the useful phrase "fo shizzle"
Because I am not Snoop Dog.
Not even close.

In that I am white, middle aged, darn foxy looking, don't wear shades, and have a small neatly trimmed beard, I must grudgingly concede the point.
But in many other respects I am very much like him.

And "fo shizzle" is off colour only if you think it is. Other than that, it's perfectly clean. You could even say it in church.

Fo shizzle.

Now, having been distracted by the long conversation about pourable sex identities, which also included mention of breast enlargements, it is far too late to go find a plate of something for which I have a real taivah.
Which was already throbbing when I got home.
It's gotten worse in the interval.
Chow mein.

Almost everywhere in Chinatown is closed already.

The only Chinese places still open at this hour serve chow for white folks and drunkards. And who the heck wants to eat that?!?

Fo shizzle.

Yeah, I could make it myself.
But someone else is using the kitchen right now.
She's cooking up bulbes and stuff for her boyfriend Wheelie Boy, and apparently my presence would cramp her style or put a curse on the fellow's delicate digestive system, or something.
My shadow over his food is bad juju.
I cannot go in there.
Fo shizzle.

Nothing for it but to eat some low fat Greek yoghurt.
I'll cook up a plate of chowmein later.
Probably after midnight.

Maybe a slice of pizza somewhere?

Probably can't use the term "white folks chow mein" either. It's undoubtedly racist, whitesplanatory, cultural appropriationist, narrow-minded, hurtfull, and triggering. Fo 你嘅 shizzle.

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The little girl held the hand of her grandpa, and together they walked at a slow pace down the street. He seemed like a contented old fellow, and she looked ever so cute in her pretty frock. Little girls, when they are not doing what they have been taught is cute and lovable by their relatives, can be extraordinarily cute. Or at least neat and totally cool.
There should be more of those.

Not wanting to pass them on the narrow sidewalk I slowed my own pace, arriving at the restaurant a little later than I intended. I had been quite depressed earlier, but the old man and his granddaughter, followed by a serving of scrumptious roast duck, did much to cheer me up. Though it took a while for the upping of the blood sugar level to take effect.

Little girls often make grouchy old badgers smile, but almost nothing in the world beats siu mei meat.

Mmmm, roast duck!

Juicy, fragrant, tender, rich ..... Plus tea, lo fo tong, and rice. The place has windows, one can observe passersby, and if one picks one's table wisely there is a view of other diners, happily chowing down on roast meat. Or Singapore Noodles, such as the middle-aged Filipina, wonton and charsiu in soup for the man one table over, and so much food that they needed boxes and two bags in the case of the mother and her adult daughter.
I did not scope out what the black tourists were having.
They seemed happy, and dawdled after.
A dignified elderly couple.
With a map.


The chopping block chef behind the counter asked a young mother what else she wanted, addressing her as 'leng nui' (靚女). Her little daughters looked at the hanging slab of siu yiuk with bright enthusiastic eyes, and both their mother and the cook clearly noticed their interest. Five dollars worth of siu yiuk please, in addition to the white poached chicken.
Personally, I would have suggested roast duck.
But the Chinese are pork fiends.
It's an obsession.

Siu mei means happiness.

I felt much better after eating.

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017


Usually I am good at staving off dark moods. I have always believed that no matter what, one soldiers on. Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead, maintiendrai, and all that. Stiff upper lip.

But, to put it mildly, sometimes it's a little depressing to realize that one does not mean much, and no one actually cares.

There is no one from my childhood and youth with whom I am in communication, nor from several of the places where I was employed.
Facebook keeps me in contact with folks from the toy company where we all worked once, as well as individuals who are on the same page.
There are exceptionally few people to whom I am close.

My ex-girlfriend seems more successful at being a social creature, despite crippling shyness and Aspergers. She has a boyfriend, there are relatives that she hears from often, and I am fairly certain there are friends about whom she cares deeply. One of which, I think, is me. I'm not sure.

But as a middle-aged white male I am not exceptional, and there are so many of us that we are pretty much expendable. If one of us disappears, another one can easily take his place.

Sometimes I think that my stuffed animals don't like me.
That the only meaning I have for them is my wallet.
A guy who must be blackmailed for cookies.


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Our fearless leader the soft orange potato is not the only "politician" who makes himself ridiculous by twittering. In Holland, Socialist member of parliament and apologist for homicidal regimes everywhere Harry van Bommel also does so.

Recently he tweeted something stupendously inane, typical of privileged middle-class bourgeois pretendeurs and parasites, and almost Marin County esque in its utter lack of insight or depth.

Harry van Bommel:
"Vandaag ben ik 10 minuten opgesloten in een caravan om te beleven wat slachtoffers van mensenhandel voelen."

Translation: 'Today I spent ten minutes locked in a camper (in order) to experience what victims of human trafficking must feel.'

[SOURCE: Bommelsche Oeterij - De Telegraaf.]

The response to that was ... predictable.

Lammert De Bruin:
"Vandaag heb ik 10 minuten niet gegeten om te voelen wat slachtoffers van hongersnood voelen."

Translation: 'Today I did not eat for ten minutes to experience what victims of starvation feel.'

Cas Mudde:
"Vandaag heb ik 10 minuten naar Metallica geluisterd om te beleven wat gevangen op Guantanamo voelen."

Translation: 'Today I listened to Metallica for ten minutes to experience what prisoners in Guantanamo feel.'

Metallica? Dang you know how to suffer!
Van Bommel must be envious!

There were others.

Niels Kalkman:
"Vandaag ben ik tien minuten naar het strand gegaan om te beleven wat bootvluchteling voelen."

Translation: 'Today I went to the beach for ten minutes to experience what boat refugees feel.'

Saفa R. de Vries:
"Vandaag heb ik tien minuten op een bankje in een parkje (in het zonnetje) gezeten om te beleven hoe het is om dakloos te zijn."

Translation: 'Today I sat on a bench in the park (in the sun) to experience what it's like to be homeless.'


The winner is Tips, who wrote:
"Vandaag heb ik tien minuten met m'n hoofd tegen een muur staan bonken om te beleven hoe Harry van Bommel zich nu voelt."

Translation: 'Today I spent ten minutes banging my head against a wall to experience how Harry van Bommel feels right now.'

If Dutch parliamentarian and baby-faced radical patsy Harry van Bommel really wants to experience what it's like to be a victim of human trafficking, he should try tromping through the Sonoran desert for several days, evading the Border Patrol and psychotic rightwing militia racists.
Followed by being brutalized in a safe house.
Then buried in a landfill.

Harry van Bommel truly is the paradigm of shmuck.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017


A few years ago I remarked on pipe smokers and their suitability as help-meets or love interests that they seldom had tattoos. It was in a list of ten comparison points, the inevitable sum of which was that as a group AND as individuals we were more desirable than cigar smokers, Christians, Republicans, and rednecks.

I may have been overly optimistic. It turned out that several pipe smokers actually were Republicans or rednecks, quite a few also favoured cigars, and a huge number had tattoos. Harley Davidson tats, shipwrecked sailors, heavy metal logos, goth-o-keltoid dragons, and similar exemplifications of crappy taste, unsound judgment, and enduring juvenile delinquency.

And there is also a "Christian Pipe Smokers Group".

Let's look at that list again, shall we?

1. Cigar-smokers tend to look like Winston Churchill, drunk, whereas pipe-smokers resemble Rhett Butler, sober.
2. A man with a pipe radiates creativity and gravitas; cigars advertise deep-seated Oedipal issues.
3. Pipe-smokers have a youthful vigour at any age; some of them still dance the foxtrot.
4. Cigarette smokers are known to steal from their mom's purse when desperate.
5. Pipe-smokers rarely have tattoos and never get out of bounds, ever.
6. Pipe-smokers overwhelmingly vote for the right candidate.
7. When you light up a cigarette, an angel weeps.
8. Cigar-smokers rip the wings off kittens.
9. Pipe-smokers are good listeners.
10. Pipe smokers love to provide fresh lobsters, oysters, melted butter, and champagne to sweet young ladies with smiling faces, intelligent eyes, and quirky intellects. Or bacon.

[Originally HERE.]

Sadly, reality has hit me in the face. Several pipe-smokers look like crap in a bucket or dustbunny zombies. Some look like ponces. Pierced ponces. What many of them radiate is neuroses and overwhelming noodginess.
As far as youthful vigour is concerned I may have overestimated my own balls, I definitely exaggerated the energy of my peers. And everything, EVERYTHING!, in point number ten leads to gout or dyspepsia.

My main flaw was, of course, not taking the appeal of pipe smoking to antisocial eccentrics into account; I judged by my own self, in various iterations between acquiring my first briar as a timorous youth till my current debonair and sometimes grumpy maturity.
I do not have tattoos, or a middle-aged spread. Not a fan of Harley Davidson bikes. I am not a Christian, Republican, or Redneck.

But many of today's pipe smokers are different. Not only are sickening aromatic mixtures the largest selling category of pipe tobacco, but piercings and tattoos are quite probably as common among modern pipe men as bucket-guts and repulsive chin-shrubbery.

Smokers of Latakia mixtures or nice Virginia and Perique concoctions, such as myself, tend to be trim and restrained individuals, and rather civilized. We are equitable, balanced, and commendably sensible.
Aromatic fans have personalities as over-the-top as their nauseating blends, or choice of coffee-bar drinks. Hazelnut Mango Vanilla sherbet ventis, with low-fat whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles.

Young lady, please be advised that Republicans and Christians are entirely unsuitable, whether they are cigar smokers (as many of them are), or pipe smokers. Most cigar smokers are considerably fatter and nastier than most pipe smokers, and vulgarians to boot, but in this day and age there are many pipe smokers who are actually cigar smokers in drag.
You do not ever want to date any of those people.
If not 鹹濕 then probably 麻甩叔.


On the other hand, a mature Dutch American without a paunch, who has a snarky sense of humour, is quite the catch. That he smokes clean tobacco in his pipe is icing on the cake. It shows good taste and a sound mind.

Not all of are like that


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Almost any Mandarin, Cantonese, or Japanese movie which seeks to capture the tone of the pre-war years in China will at some point feature the song 'When Wilt Thou Return' (何日君再來 "hé rì jūn zài lái") which has been sung by many stars since the mid-thirties, when the tune was composed by 劉雪庵 ("Liú Xuě-ān") during a party for students at the Shanghai Conservatory. The lyrics were subsequently written by 黄嘉謨 ("Huáng Jiā-mó").

The three most well-known renditions were by Chou Hsuen (周璇 "Zhōu xuán"), Lei Heung-lan (李香蘭 "Li Xiāng-lán", aka Ri Koran, Yoshiko Yamaguchi, Shirley Yamaguchi, 山口淑子), and Teresa Teng (鄧麗君 "Dèng Lì-jūn").
The first named actress was famous for her winsome performance in several films, but more for her lovely evocation of womanhood in song. The second was stellar, but connections with the Japanese war-machine shadowed her reputation, and her pre-war achievements are now largely ignored. And the third was beloved in Japan as well as by Island and Mainland audiences, though the song itself was at various times banned for its perceived propaganda content.

[Please note: phonetic transcriptions in this essay will largely reflect the Mandarin standard, as the subject matter is associated with the north. Cantonese sounds in the title of the post are a personal failing, rendering Li Koran as Lei Heung-lan similarly is a fond deviance.
And "Chou Hsuen" is a standard though incorrect spelling.]

There is no need to actually embed the videos -- and copyright stalinists would have those accounts taken down at some point anyhow -- but for all three of them copy-paste 何日君再來 followed by the name of the singer.

The song is nowadays played slower and more weepy than was originally intended. For a Western Audience the most well-known renditions are in the 1995 film by Zhang Yimou (張藝謀), Shanghai Triad (搖啊搖,搖到外婆橋).

It was originally featured in the movie 'Three Stars by the Moon' (三星伴月 "Sān xīng bàn yuè") in 1937, sung by miss Chou. The Manchurian Japanese Lei Heung-lan subsequently covered it, most notably in the 1952 film 'Shanghai Night' (上海の夜 "Shanhai no yoru") reprising her own past.

Teresa Teng's sweet-sounding version was banned on the mainland for a number of years, considered nought more than foul propaganda. The regime across the straights also excoriated it for the same reason.

Along with a few other songs (好花不常開,夜上海,et carmina simili), it is de rigueur in any cinematographic treatment of nineteen thirties and forties Shanghai. Along with, of course random stock footage of a chorus line (fluffy feathers and shapely dancing gams!) in a nightclub scene. Its inclusion will awaken an almost instinctive response in the experienced film fan.

We cannot help the instinctive response; conditioning.
The rest of you may be rather baffled by this.

We've seen too many black and whites.
The music fills in the colours.

Sorry if we go all weird.
It will soon pass.

This article brought to you courtesy of the remembrance of a big honking show-off ivory cigarette holder flaunted by a crime boss in a Hong Kong gangster movie set in 1930's Shanghai. He was a right bastard, very well played by an actor specializing in such roles whose name I cannot recall.

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A song for the new age! A song of courage and resolve! A song to make great again our United States as we march resolutely into our glorious future comrades! Backs straight, arms firm, eyes wide!

Марш советских танкистов


Our voices raised in righteous hymn!

Here's an inspiring excerpt from a speech by our beloved leader about renewed tractor production in the great state of Kentucky:

Однако яркалось, и смятные лаки, Кругались, разлавкие, в лазной овоче; Стынались тополстые полнокатаки, И были есатые лямы ихочи.

"О бойся Борчардеса, сын, его зубы, Отточены остро и когти сверкают! Ужасно внимание птицы Жубжубы, И страшен бурлиственный Ларбокадаяц."

Берет поротрубенный меч и выходит, Он долго искал мердолагостной битвы; Hе может найти, и у дерева, вроде, Бамбам, он стоит в тишине и молитве.

И лагостной думой и кления полный, Он видит, как Борчердс, сдиревый и млявый; Шестит, громко брулькает, очи как зерна, Огня, раз и два - раз и ясь сквозь дубраву.

И сквозь, раз и два, раз и два, сквозь и через, Как меч поротрубенный краско метает! И мертвого здорона труп спрятав в вереск, Он с черепом мрачным домой пормошает.

"Приди ко мне, ангел, победою славен! Смятение радости, плявная прелесть! Прелественный день! Пре! Эвое! ИАО!" Он хрюкал с достоинством, радостью пенясь.

Яркалось превленье и смятные лаки, И кугом, разлавкие, в лазной асери; Тополстые ляпкие полнокатаки, И лямы есатые, репкие в мере.

[БОРЧАРДЕС (пер. М. Вербицкого)]

Work hard! Make greater and greater progress!
Surpass yourself, and become heroic!
Onward, upward, sideways!


The March of the Soviet Tank Men is one of my favourite Stalinist hymns, and is excellent listening, especially if you don't understand any part of it. The poem Jabberwocky has been translated into a multitude of languages, and is iridescent in all of them.

The crypto-Bolshy subtext is a comment on America's current state, now that the know-nothings are in power. I did not vote for any of these people, so I get to be a sneering prick for four years.

And Kentucky is a silly place.

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Monday, March 20, 2017


When I came home my apartment mate was on the phone with her boyfriend. They were talking about the hardness of pillows, and she was giving him firm advice. Sometimes he's dense, and totally blinkered in his single-focus. It goes along with Asperger Syndrome.
He has Aspergers. She also has Aspergers.
And, to a far lesser extent, me too.
But otherwise I am normal.

"The pet rabbit is on fire! Don't go checking on the dog and the parrot to see if they're on fire too, they probably started it in the first place, go put the blasted rabbit out!"

You know, I'm buggered if I can figure out what that analogy means. Is the rabbit a pillow? Or is she accusing pets of being little murderous pests?

She also brought up Agamemnon and and his brother Menelaus. How that ties into the hardness of pillows is a complete riddle to me. Conundrumic.

Maybe most women talk this way, and I've forgotten that. Maybe I need to start paying more attention to that gender, and the answers to many of life's great riddles will become apparent. Maybe I need to find a female person half my age who majored in geology or physics to interpret.
Or at least be a fair witness.

Maybe I've got a dirty mind and am only capable of understanding stuff that clearly refers to nudity and congress, and am utterly incapable of grasping normal English. In all honesty, that wouldn't be surprising.

Some functionality may not be available.

But otherwise I am normal.

There's a rabbit?

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Sometimes one wonders why other people seem pained. Or why they giggle. Such as early in the morning on a day when the water is scheduled to be turned off at eight o'clock so that a new heater can be installed. We've had only cold water since Friday evening or late Thursday.

Such things lead to mental clarity. Try showering with arctic conditions. Start awake in a panic. Think of some place tropical.

Frangipani. Why did the word 'frangipani' come to mind?

I have no idea what it is. But it sounds warm and inviting, tropical, sultry, fragrant. Plumeric. Unlike Zurich.

The words to Dragostea Din Tei are floating through my head.

The entire first minute of that song.

With gesticulations.


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Sunday, March 19, 2017


A long talk about barbers, during which my interlocutor stated that a hot shave, done well at an old-fashioned mens' hair establishment, was sheer heaven. Which I would not know, because I have never shelled out money for someone to come at my neck with a blade, what with being just a wee bit paranoid. And in any case, that seems like spa-pampering of the nails and foot rub variety; real manly men scrope their own damned neck.

This in connection with two things, the first being that the hot water in my building is out till Tuesday morning, and shaving and showering with icy water wakes one up better than any amount of coffee -- it is kind of like starting bolt upright and screaming from a coma -- and the second being the pipe tobacco I was smoking, which reminded him of the lotions and unguents at a traditional barber shop.

The tobacco was not dry. It can never be dry. Ever. It is so humectant and fragrant-oil rich that it is damned well embalmed. The mummy of tobaccos, sadly undead, to be dug up a thousand years from now by lizard-aliens in a perfectly "fresh" state, whereupon they will exclaim: "I don't know what they did with this, it ain't edible, but they were a bunch of right rotten bastards and the galaxy is better off without them".

Black Cavendish, Burley, Virginia. An aromatic.
Caramel, honey, and vanilla.

This stuff is made by Sutliff. And they should be ashamed of themselves for doing so. The last time I tried it was shortly after it first came out, when an elderly acquaintance opined that it was the best thing since sliced bread.
I puffed it for a few moments, then threw out the soggy mess in my pipe, and did not smoke again for the rest of the day.
It is pipe tobacco.

It is pipe tobacco in the same way that Mixture 79 is pipe tobacco, and made by the same disreputable company, which had its start right here in San Francisco. Shortly after the Gold Rush a bright young lad opened a tobacco and cigar business downtown, a generation or two later his heirs invented Mixture 79, and in 1933 started producing it on a commercial scale. In the very early fifties the San Francisco store was taken over by a long-time employee, Ed Grant, and renamed, the manufacturing side split-off and moved across the country.
Through acquisitions and mergers involving Consolidated Cigar, Heines, Altadis, Imperial, and a host of other names and marques, Sutliff finally became part of Scandinavian Tobacco.
The location on Market Street ("Grant's Pipe Shop") was sold to Ted and Joe in 2005 who ran it into the ground in 2012.

As I said, it is pipe tobacco.

Having used the open sample tin so many times to illustrate precisely what pipe tobacco should not ever be, and having had so much fun yesterday tormenting Hector by smoking an aromatic near him (ever see somebody go green?), I decided I needed to give this product a better chance, a fair shot, see if I had misjudged it, and whether it was in fact tolerable.

The sample tin has been open for three years. Someone must be smoking it, there's less than half left. Also, it should be bone dry.

It is still moist and greasy.

Spongy, oily, somewhat slimy to the touch. Packs okay. Lights okay. Tastes fairly vile at first draw. It is far too sweet. After a few minutes my temples are throbbing. Part way through the bowl I am staring fixedly at a tin of Dunhill's Aperitif Mixture, and trying to focus. Why did I do this? Is there any point to this sickening mess? It has absolutely no trace of tobacco flavour, and though they claim that it is dressed with vanilla, honey, and caramel, what I taste is a slight hint of mint and lavender, a strong dash of coconut, something akin to chocolate, and scads of propylene glycol.
If this were an aftershave lotion, strangers would lynch me.
Did they add menthol?

It does not get any better further in.

It smokes hot, wet, and nasty. It is impossible to finish the bowl all the way down. That pipe will have to rest for a week, and I may need to clean it with alcohol. Molto Dolce left my tongue feeling brutalized. I swished tea around my mouth several times, then rinsed with vodka and spat.
Swished tea again. Repeatedly.

Molto Dolce is the kind of tobacco you gift someone you hate.
It is worse, far worse, than Milango by Dan.
Which is also effing nasty.

I have a one pound container of Mixture 79 somewhere that was opened by its previous owner in the late nineties. It still has not dried out, and still feels as springy as the day it was extruded. More proof for the lizard aliens that we seriously deserve to be nuked. I tried smoking it once. My bad.
It likewise was a ghastly experience, not to be repeated.
Scientific curiosity be damned, don't experiment.
Frank Sinatra liked Mixture 79.
The swine.

Once Hector smelled the aroma coming from my direction he told me I would go to hell, I was a rotten degenerate, he really couldn't understand why I did it unless I secretly loved this nasty crap, which he insisted that obviously I must, and perhaps it was best for everybody if I died alone, a rancid old bachelor and as loopy as Michael or John Lee.
No wonder those two keep coming back.
I attract them, like roadkill.

The buzzards are swooping low over the nearby tidal flats, where some animal died recently and is getting really ripe. If you smell death near the gas station at the freeway entrance, that's what it is.
This is the stench of your nightmares.
Wake up screaming.

Then he walked away and lit up a Padron.
For the next two hours he avoided me.

Molto Dolce is the perfect pipe tobacco for young men who come out of the basement once in a while.


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Pakistan, as a concept and country, has reached the limits of what anal-probing can teach us.

Pakistan says it has asked Facebook to help investigate "blasphemous content" posted on the social network by Pakistanis. Facebook has agreed to send a team to Pakistan to address reservations about content on the social media site, according to the interior ministry.

Blasphemy is a highly sensitive and incendiary issue in Pakistan.
End quote.


All of you need to chill out.

Look, in a world where Texans still exist, and that inbred anathematic hellhole known as 'Utah' has not yet been erased from the planet, heresy just isn't a big thing, and blasphemy is distinctly a minor issue.

L. Ron Hubbard? Jerry Falwell? Ben Klassen?
His Eminence Metropolitan Seraphim Mentzelopoulos?
The Great Dharma Wheel Way?
Nation of Yahweh?

Vesmírní lidé sil světla?

Get over it.

Blasphemy is a highly sensitive and incendiary issue in Pakistan, unlike pederasty, honour killing, and feudalism.

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Saturday, March 18, 2017


No occasion shall go unpunished. The Saint Patrick's Day display: green ("candela") cigars, green pipes, and a selection of Peterson tobaccos, most of which are drecky aromatics, because canny merchants like the Irish know that Yanks and Euries have the taste palette of Parisian whores.
To whom no offense is meant.

Oh, plus Erinmore Flake. Of which I have over a year's supply, mostly the stuff from when it was still made in Ireland, rather than the Orlik product.

[Personal stash. It was an inspiration. Nobody else is getting any.]

I believe Orlik also make the Peterson tobaccos, but somewhere along the line Kohlhase & Kopp were involved. Further research on that issue eventually is required.


Because nothing says driving the snakes out better than a double claro or candela wrapper. Favoured by nasty old men with their pants belted at nipple height, and breath that smells of tuna salad sandwiches.
Which reminds a lot of people of Florida.
A very Irish place.

In fact, a candela cheroot is the perfect cap to an evening that featured tuna salad sandwiches. I cannot think of anything better.
Maybe a pint of American beer.

Green pipes are not my style. There's something far too flamboyant about the deep vert émeraude / smaragdgrün woodstain. Plus it fades over time, leaving the pipe a muddy moss colour.

The tobaccos were Irish Oak (a VaPer), Gold Blend (hickory, vanilla, and cinnamon), De Luxe Mixture (walnut and honey), Special Reserve 2014 (refined fruit aromas), 1865 (full-bodied Latakia mixture), Signature Flake (top quality flue-cured leaf), and Founder's Choice. That last consists of Virginias, Burley, and allegedly some Oriental leaf, plus black Cavendish, assertively flavoured with rum, mango, and vanilla. One of the finest aromatics ever made. Of which I have had several bowls.


Well, it's more than smokable, sort of. Something Mary down south might like, though her husband Kaz and her cats would look askance. And the cube cut is old-fashioned and interesting. No, I shan't buy it, ever. But I will probably finish the open sample tin over the next few months on days when Hector is working. The last time I smoked aromatics in his presence he called me an unbelievable degenerate and looked nauseated and aghast for the rest of the day. It was a cherry black cavendish, for your information, and I quite enjoyed his reaction more than the smoke. Peterson's Founder's Choice may ghost the pipes in which it is smoked, so I cannot take them with me to the Occidental until several bowls of Balkan Supreme (Arango) or Stokkebye's English Oriental Supreme have been chased through them (mr. Post would kick me the heck out; he hates aromatic shite), but the frisson and the irritation factor are worth it. Abundantly so, in buckets.
Because I am a petty man, and I enjoy sickening Hector.
And this is the perfect tobacco for that.
Had another bowl today.

[Any beginning tobacconist can stock the house-blend bar very respectably by having Arango's Balkan Supreme and Stokkebye's English Oriental Supreme, plus BCA (vanilla flavoured black cavendish), 1Q (far better than a drugstore aromatic and reliable, but meant for people with no imagination and boring old farts), PS Peaches & Cream (fruity-tooty, but slightly more restrained than some of the over-sauced trollops out there), Sutliff's Rum and Maple (old codger tobacco), McClelland 2010 (straight Virginias, reds and brights, broken flake), McClelland 2015 (similar to the previous, with Perique included), and PS Luxury Bullseye (one of the best bulk coin flakes available, solid and decent, a must-stock item). Plus plain ribbon Burley. That's two full English, three top quality Virginias for traditionalists, and four aros for the pervert squad. Two thirds of all pipe smokers are perverts, probably more. Don't forget to creatively re-name the tobaccos: Captain Blucher's Coin, The Sargent's Moustache, Old Scottish Bog, Midnight Madmen, Hobbit Shred, and similar "unique" appellations.]

I really should have opened up a tin of Irish Oak instead for sampling, but that would have been too selfish; one cannot always opportunistically offer the tobaccos one likes, sometimes there has to be something for the unwashed savages.


Tangy and sweet, with a spicy note. Stronger than it seems at first puff, and it benefits from being set aside unopened for a year or two. It is reminiscent of Dunbar, Dorchester, Elizabethan, and tobaccos in that genre, but with more Perique. Kohlhase & Kopp, allegedly. Orlik, probably.

Irish Oak is perhaps one of the finest and most decent pipe tobaccos produced under the Peterson name. It must have been a mistake, or maybe originally developed by McConnell, which would explain a lot.
It seems most un-Irish. Mary apparently likes it also.
Maybe she's drifting away from the aros.
About damned time.


One tobacco I really must mention, now that we are speaking about froot loop mixtures, is the grape concoction which was in the development stages about a year ago. There were two versions, both of which I smoked several times. No discernible tobacco flavour whatsoever, hardly a bite, remarkably smooth, and an overwhelming pong of grape soda.
One pipe still ghosted, one not affected at all.
It's a pipe blend for little children.
Kindergarten puffs.

The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that tuna sandwiches need to replace corned beef and cabbage. Fish is good for the brain, cabbage turns it to mush.

If you have to stay indoors with your uncles Padriag and Seamus, because of the beastly weather and the cold frigid rain all the time, you really want them smelling like ruddy perverts. Rum, mango, and vanilla.

It counters the stench of boiled cabbage.

Happy hangover, sickos.


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Friday, March 17, 2017


An unnamed Russian zoo and and advertising agency are at loggerheads over a raccoon and a brassiere. The raccoon is traumatized, and feels so used. The brassiere just has an abiding emptiness.

The petting zoo sometimes rents animals to filmmakers. Spokesman Viktor Kiryukhin told the BBC the raccoon - Thomas - returned from the studio traumatised. "We noticed he was attracted to women's breasts." Video firm Art-Msk called the zoo's lawsuit "absurd". They also said the raccoon stole a model's bra on set.
[ --- ]
Mr Bogatov has threatened to counter-sue the zoo, and to claim compensation for the damaged bra.


There are times when one envies raccoons. One imagines that he felt the fabric of the garment in question, how it was still warm, fragrant, and soft, so soft. He wanted it! It was just lying there, and he saw his chance!
He took it and scampered off!

Oh happy creature!

But alas, he was soon robbed of his prize, and returned to a place where there were no bras. Nor the things that fill them.
Sadness, despair, trauma.

This blogger, as a matter of justice, feels that every petting zoo should have at least one pair of breasts.

I am a raccoon.

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Thursday, March 16, 2017


In September of 2012, after the so-manieth time that paranoid anti-Obama crap had been forwarded to a political mailing list, I de-subscribed. Life is too short to see red every time the loonies send vicious partisan agit-prop or spew venomously insane far-right rhetoric. I also e-mail blocked several people, and de-subscribed from three other mailing lists.

[If Obama is going to take away your weapons, enact Sharia Law, and destroy Israel, he'd better look snappy about it. It's a bit late now, so those tasks will necessarily fall to Trump ("the Messiah"), Pence ("the Silent Weasel"), Spicer ("the Sphincter"), and Kellyanne Conway ("the Mouth of Sauron"), plus Jared and Ivanaka Kushner ("Complicit #1" and "Complicit #2").
I'm sure they're up to the task; they've already made a good start on the Death Panels.]

I got tired of the many folks who could scarcely keep their rabid gunnuttery and ignorance in check. Or their psychoses and xenophobia.

They were odious, they are irrelevant.

Since then, I have progressively pruned all the rightwingers and loonies out of my contact folder and Facebook account, stopped communicating with people who read Caroline Glick (well, most of them), disassociated myself even more from certain people and certain groups, and no longer pay attention to what remains of our movement in the Bay Area.
Little left but nuts and Christians.

[If you care at all about the future of Zionism, you will reject Trump and Wilders.]

Oh, and I've written off Berkeley.
It's a surreal hell hole.
Fuck them.

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Some dingus found this page by searching for "pipe smoking sex ladies". Which is a somewhat unusual request. The post he found (naturally assuming it is a 'he') had absolutely nothing to do with sex.

This blogger encourages women to smoke pipes.

The pipe should be reasonably good briar, of fairly normal dimensions and a conservative design. The tobaccos that I recommend are standard English ("Balkan") with a fair amount of Latakia, OR Virginia mixtures, with or without Perique. No aromatics.

Most of what estimable brands such as Rattrays or Dunhill produce are excellent choices for women. Greg Pease's tobaccos are also splendid, but as he is more of a niche, tins might be harder to come by. The same stores that stock Pease also carry Samuel Gawith products, several of which are also very nice.

Aromatics, most of which are horrid fruity concoctions smoked by tattooed degenerates, crotchety old farts who never learned better, and childish people of undeveloped tastes, are far better entirely avoided.
Room note in an age when you cannot smoke around other people is no longer relevant, except insofar as a pipe which has not been cleaned in a while may pong a bit.

You will probably wish to be a bit discreet about enjoying a pipe, though, because most people are conditioned to freak the hell out when women do certain things. Which can be annoying after a while.

All of this also goes for juveniles who "borrow" their dad's or an uncle's old pipes, with the further cautionary note that good clean unfruited-up tobacco smoked calmly and evenly is far less likely to bugger up the old man's pipes and lead to discovery. Also be advised that you cannot buy tobacco online if you are not yet twenty one years of age, and in many states you cannot even walk into a tobacconist yet.

You can do all of your research on line, though.

Here are some links to get you started:

The Briar Files

Cornell & Diehl


Firecured - all things Tobacco


PFEIFE-TABAK (in German)

Pipeculture (in German)

Pulvers' Briar (Sherlock's Haven)

Reborn Pipes

Tobacco Reviews dot com

Of these, Dutch Pipe Smoker and Pfeife Tabak are great reads, Tobacco Reviews is the go-to site to find out more about blends and whether you might want to try something new (or not), and Pulvers' Briar is always worth visiting for a look at quality briar and as source for second handers.
Marty Pulvers is a grand old man of the pipe business, informative and knowledgeable, and the most honest merchant you will ever know.

If you are still legally a juvenile, you should probably have an adult relative be your intermediary for all transactions.
Perhaps your aunt.

I am not her.



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Wednesday, March 15, 2017


Last night's scheduled misadventure was marked by art, song, and haircuts. Not necessarily all in the same place. But nonetheless two of those three were thematically linked, as the dominant motif was 'crap'.

The same insane courage required to belt out your emotions at a karaoke joint and give your friends something to regret knowing you for is what is necessary to line your perfectly horrid paintings up along the walls of an alleyway in hopes that a drunken tourist will buy one, and by so doing subsidize your next can of Olde English 800.
But only karaoke is invasive.

The bookseller and I do not sing karaoke at all.
But we are keen connoisseurs of the form.

I cannot say that our weekly wine, beer, and whiskey evening leads to any great insights. But it does allow us to remember Monty Python bits and other Brit comedic sparkles, and keeps the mind young and spongy.

The more whiskey has been consumed, the greater the likelihood of the other patrons in the bar sounding Scottish. Most of them being Chinese who are far more fluent in something other than English.
Precisely like the Scots, in other words.

One can drink 'Scotch'. It's also a tape. But one can never be 'Scotch'.
Scot, Scottish, or a Scots-man. Woman. Person.

An artistic woman beyond reproductive age was snogging in the alley with a man who looked like a yeti. We are cheered by the fact that no offspring will ensue, her loins will not erupt with Rosemary's Babies.
You too should be glad.

Earlier, during a brief break for a smoke outside the bar she had asked me if I was a scientist. A vulcanologist perhaps? A student of life?

I am not any of that; I am an iguana.
And I do not write poetry.
Please don't talk.

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This blogger is more than a little amused by the recent frothing at the mouth behaviour of the Turks. The other day, chief bashibazouk Erdogan screamed that he would impose sanctions! And ban Dutch diplomats! And take the Dutch to court! Dammit, we Dutch had pissed all over his party!
Boy was he upset!

Of course his behaviour was very far from rational, and proved that he is a seriously disturbed individual, in charge of a seriously disturbed country. Whose only contributions to civilization have possibly been the doner kebap, organized crime, and sex trafficking.

Three days ago I posted that Erdogan's stupid dogs needed to go back to Turkey. Which, given that they are clearly not inclined to adapt to their host countries, continue to hold on to their Turkish citizenship, and smell bad, would easily be the best of all possible solutions.

I was a bit angry at the pestilential Turks when I wrote that, and I still am.
Erdogan is a schmuck leading schmucks in a schmucky country.
May his tiny petzel rot painfully and fall off.

On Saturday, angry Turks rioted in Rotterdam, throwing bricks and bottles at the police. Who responded placidly by blasting them with water cannons, clobbering them with truncheons, and letting German shepherds bite them.
On Sunday, angry Turks rioted in Amsterdam, which the Amsterdam police also dealt with calmly, by doing exactly what the Rotterdam police had done a day before. Water cannons, truncheons, dogs.
On Monday, Vice Premier Lodewijk Asscher spoke severely to the leaders of various Turkish social and political organizations. After the meeting they whined and defended the violence and misbehaviour of their communities, and told reporters that Dutch Politicians were all thugs and hypocrites;
they would co-operate, sort of, and only grudgingly.
Also on Monday, angry citizens in Turkey burned a French flag because they thought it was the Dutch flag, and they were too stupid to know the difference. Later they manhandled a Norwegian whom they mistook for a Dutchman, and they were too stupid to know the difference.

Turks are, quite understandably, not much liked in the civilized world.

Here are the comments that readers placed underneath my recent essay:

At 1:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…
Ze zouden die vuile rothonden terug moeten sturen naar de steppen.
In elk geval ver buiten de beschaafde werel.

At 1:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…
Als die schooiers de boel in de fik willen steken moeten ze dat maar mooi in Ankara gaan doen. Eenrichting op Turkse overhjeids kosten.

At 1:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…
Truks are not civilized. Expel the lot of them.

At 1:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…
Turks are not civilized. Expel the lot of them.

At 2:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…
Fuck the Turks!

At 1:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…
Holland is one of the top ten economies; Turkey is a third world country at best. That's why all those Turks migrated to Northern Europe.

Holland is a decent player in Nato affairs, and one of Nato's primary members; Turkey is a Nato member ONLY because of the Soviet threat .... oh wait, the Soviet Union no longer exists!

At 3:56 PM, Anonymous Een Nederlander said…
Volgens De Telegraaf:
"AMSTERDAM - UPDATE - De Turken slaan terug! Maandagavond maakte de vicepremier bekend dat regeringsoverleg met Nederland op hoog niveau zal worden opgeschort, dat diplomatieke vluchten naar Ankara zullen worden tegengehouden, dat de ambassadeur niet mag terugkeren en dat het Turkse parlement gevraagd wordt om een vriendschapsverdrag met Nederland op te zeggen.

De maatregelen zullen pas ongedaan gemaakt worden als Nederland terugkomt op zijn ’fouten’ die volgens hem onwettig zijn, inhumaan en tegen het internationaal recht. "

Mooi zo. Hoeven we niet meer met dat rabalje te spreken. Ze kunnen oprotten.

At 10:32 PM, Anonymous Ook 'n Nederlander said…
Een ranzig volkje, die Turken.

That last comment is a beaut. "A rancid little people, those Turks". Perhaps in the hinterlands of Anatolia they should stop fathering children among their close kin, and concentrate entirely on their farm animals. It would improve their genetic stock, and eventually there might be humans among them.

Of course, that would make the doner kebap iffy.
Which it always was, anyway.

Me? I don't have a racist bone in my body.
I love the Turks.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2017


At the risk of possibly offending all my friends and relatives on the East Coast, I must humbly inform you that I am right now wearing pajama pants and an A shirt (shades of Stanley Kowalski) in an unheated apartment.
The windows are open, it looks like it will be a gorgeous day.
A high of around seventy degrees.

Oh my gosh, was that an earthquake?

Just kidding.

Dammit, I just saw a fruit fly!

Just kidding.

There's no more pot!

Just kidding.

A flood!


Later today I may just take my surf board down to the beach; we're probably gonna have a barbecue and dance in the sand. Margaritas! Guitars!

Just kidding.

Seriously, though, I love reading about extreme weather back east. It tells me that even with everything wrong in this world, and Washington being taken over by subhumans and trolls, there are still bright spots, where the sun is shining, and soft balmy breezes soothe the brow.
Butterflies, wildflowers, and gay maidens.
We're not snowed in, suckers.


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When we first moved into this place, my apartment mate happily discovered that there was a hook on the airwell wall right under the bathroom window. She decided that that is where the toilet brush went. Obviously. Because she is practical minded and logical. Those things need to be airdried, and who wants it inside anyway?

She may have "fondly" muttered the phrase "stupid white people" at the time. Because white people carefully keep the toilet brush guarded and enclosed, instead of breathing free as the good lord intended.
In its own tiny little bucket prison.

Over the years several have gone missing in action.

She speculates that our landlord, who lives directly under us, harvests them after they have fallen to the bottom of the airwell two stories below, and is maintaining a museum of toilet brushes. Perhaps dressed in little costumes.

"Oh happy day, another prize exemplar!"

Either that, or scientists centuries from now will discover a graveyard of these things and wonder at the creature whose remnants they are.

I heard another one fall this morning.

Her hand slipped.


I've had much excitement, and must rest.
It is time to take a long nap.

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