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, April 23, 2017

ARE YOU TORMENTED BY BAD DREAMS?

This blogger shamefacedly admits he is the wrong person to watch movies with. Any movies. My responses aren't up to snuff. For instance, the scene in a graveyard which is standard in many thrillers upsets me no end, as far too often there are sequence inconsistencies in stone dates, as well as, oh horrors, markers irregularly stuck in the ground in sloppy ranks.

That hunk of fake marble is not perfectly perpendicularly placed!

It just doesn't look like a proper cemetery.


Romantic scenes often provoke peals of laughter, or conversely boredom. "James, I'm frightened!" And then the young lady draws perceptibly closer to the hero's manly chest. Errm. Yes that's right, sweetums, when danger is at its most imminent, distract him with your heaving bosom.
That will surely help both of you escape.

She blushed prettily, and exclaimed "oh I just LOVE roses!"
Would that be fried, boiled, or roasted?
Pickled?

"I have cunning plan", he explained, as he tiptoed along the wall.
Cut to a scene of evil foreigners being careless.
The door behind them opens ....

There's a bunch of random dead guys now.
But they thoroughly deserved it.
As was made clear.



Why is it that in many serial horror movies the first victims are engaging in hanky panky downstairs after sending the children that one of them is supposed to be baby sitting up to bed early?

It always ends when the virginal heroine's young squire turns around to see the killer sitting up. Kills him with a crucifix he just happened to have, or a piece of furniture or a stake through the heart, he-man ultra-violence, the monster shudders and turns to dust, and then the young couple kiss as finally tears of relief flow down her girlish cheeks ......

Tears. Symbolic of "passion", I suppose.
About time. For both parties.
Release.



Just in case these movies ARE based on real life, I'm thinking I should carry a wooden stake around with me at all times. Or at least some garlic.

Because wherever there are monsters that require killing, you will find fresh-faced good girls. It stands to reason!

Destroying vampires gets you the sweet young thing.
Real men know this.




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Saturday, April 22, 2017

THE REAL HOUSEWIVES ARE PARADIGMS, BITCHES, PARADIGMS!

She's all about energy and positive things. Jesus Christ. Are YOU all about energy and positive things? Because if you aren't, you just don't measure up to the standards of some rich dingbat on the Real Housewives. Frankly, the only reason to watch that show is to be astounded by the self-importance and conceit of typical American women.
Vicious she-sasquatches.

Of whom there are an increasing number in San Francisco.
They come here for the hipsters, obviously.


Girls, just bang one at random and bag him, then take your brand new husband-thing and go back to where the eff ever.


You're breathing our air.


On a slightly different note, there ought to be a big sign at San Francisco Airport saying "Trigger warning; you are about to enter a zone with gluten, animal protein, dairy products, and nuts." That way the tourists wouldn't ask stupid complicated questions. They have that at the airport in Hong Kong, and consequently no one there has to deal with dingy white people whining about stuff they can't eat. They just go straight to a McDonalds restaurant and order the vegan special. Sawdust McNuggets.
With kale and blueberry ketchup.

As a tourist, you probably want the one in Wanchai, conveniently close to drunken Australians and Europeans, wah, so sexy! 麥當勞; 地址: 灣仔柯布連道2號地下B,C及D4舖。It is particularly known for 美國菜、漢堡包 (American Food, Honpo bao). Bon appétit!


IMPLANTS!

The other reason why my apartment mate watches "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" is for the sheer wreckage that those women represent. Fake boobs, fake chins and noses, eyebrows, lips, tummy tucks, arse tucks, thighs, tans, attitudes, and insults. No CGI, no special effects;
their shitty facades are real.

And there are commercials for things that folks in the suburbs eat.
Which look incinerated, and not even edible.

Not only bright red glazed chicken extrudite drumstickettes, also gluten-free breadsticks, chips, dips, low fat crap, and Caucasian burritos!

Plus home goods and perfect apartments.

Beauty.


I think she's jealous of women who can make racy videos with their boobs hanging out. That's something that as a Chinese American she's incapable of. And even though I'm white, as a man I cannot do that either.
I'm just not equipped with wrecking balls.

It must be awe of cleavage. Most people of Chinese ancestry do not have excessive amounts of that, and if they are Cantonese they just love white people showing all their warts in public.

Oh, and chest freckles!

Northern Chinese women ("Mandarin speakers") sometimes do have big breasts, but those aren't entertaining in the slightest, what with those folks claiming to be distant relatives. That's so embarrassing!


"Please stop doing that!"

There's a scene in Ranma½ where after the lead character has changed into a girl (don't ask, it's complicated), one of Mr. Tendo's daughters pokes him/her in the bosoms, to see if they are real. Poinka poinka poinka!
Which they are, of course. I am certain that my apartment mate would like to do that to some Caucasians, but she would be disappointed.
Nobody is that real.



If it were up to me, that show would never be on. It is torrid, and well-nigh unwatchable. Presumably there is better stuff on teevee. But my apartment mate is fascinated by the queer antics of white people.
In which I prove disappointing.
I'm normal.




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Friday, April 21, 2017

KATE PERRY'S CURRENT MOOD

This blogger does not know who or what Kate Perry is. But millions of Indians do. And they are offended, oh boy. Much like they were pissed off when Maria Sharapova did not know what Sachin tendulkar was, or got their dhotis in bunch at Richard Gere kissing Shilpa Shetty (sacrilege!), or even the time that Winston Churchill referred to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi as "a dirty old bonze in a bedsheet".

Kate Perry used an illustration of a bloodthirsty she-horror to illustrate her emotional state. Which got some people up in multiple arms.



Sorry, all of you frenzied subcontinentals, but your apoplexy will NOT make me research who the heck Kate Perry is. I am not interested.

I should mention that your fits are far more fascinating.
And many of you spell like Trump supporters.
Maybe y'all need help.

Couldn't Kate Perry play Kali in a Bollywood musical? One with tens of thousands of singing and dancing devotees, plus cameo appearances by Sachin Tendulkar, Mel Gibson, and Shilpa Shetty.
It would be a feast for the eyes.
An extra-vaganza.


There has got to be a role in there for Maria Sharapova too.


But absolutely no nudity or kissing.
It upsets your sensibilities.


A seminarian friend once remarked that if you didn't possess a sense of humour you don't deserve a religion. But that may have just been transubstantiation.



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Thursday, April 20, 2017

SUCH SOCIAL CREATURES

Being possessed of the evil eye as far as her cooking is concerned, most especially when she is preparing large buckets of exquisite kibble for her boyfriend, I stay out of the kitchen when she is engaged in culinary efforts.
So I do not know what she prepared for his enjoyment later this week.
It involves potatoes, and probably butter and cream.
Plus, one imagines, a meat dish.
All of which is now in plastic baggies in the freezer.


Sometimes I resent his even having to eat at all.


I don't mind her in the kitchen when I'm cooking, because I don't need the entire room plus all the elbow space between the counter and the stove.
I am a more planned and deliberate cook, and not easily sidetracked.

I could sneer about female inefficiency and act snootily superior, but actually the difference is methodological rather than gender based. And she stays out when I am preparing my food, probably because I'm loopy then.


From eight till past eleven last night I napped while she commanded the cooking facilities. When I awoke rain was falling, which ceased at around quarter to twelve. She was bathing at that time, and if I wanted to use the kitchen, there was an opportunity.
Having eaten too much at the Vietnamese restaurant -- one meal, for one man, but my stomach is smaller than it used to be -- all I required was a beverage with a little caffeine.


I always cook, eat, bathe, and sleep by myself. Tea and coffee likewise.
Sometimes I wonder what it would be like with another person.
One who enjoyed the sound of rain.

It's obviously an abstract issue, because of the women in my ambit none that appeal have jumped out as being single.
Nor have I asked.

I keep waiting for an imaginary friend.




Because of a schedule switch this week, I am off today. The plan is to putz around the empty apartment for a while, then head to Chinatown for lunch, followed by a pipe. If it remains dry I shall eventually end up at Sue Bierman Park to admire the parrots.




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THE PROMISE: ARMENIAN GENOCIDE, TURKISH DENIAL

A movie about the mass killing of Armenians by the Turkish government, ably assisted by Turkish officials and common citizens, will be released soon. And, obviously, the Turks are not particularly happy about that.

There are many things about which Turks are deservedly not happy.
Their nation's role in the horrific events is one of them.

This blogger has liked almost all Turkish people he has ever met. Having lived in Holland, you will understand that I have met a lot of them.
And I also know Turks in San Francisco.

Their insistent rejectionism, lies, and defensive denial of what their people did, their nation, is probably one of their most unlikable characteristics, which makes their involvement in the European sex-slave trade pale in comparison. As well as their other criminal activities.

If anything establishes the danger of a Turkish presence in the urban areas of Western Europe, it is what they did to the Armenians, the Assyrian Christians, and the Greeks.


Quite possibly nothing exemplifies their loathsomeness more than Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whom our own president recently congratulated for the shenaniganic election victory which his loyal flunkies gave him.

I am repulsed by the world. But mostly by the Turks and the Republican Swamp (now bigger and bolder than ever).

Republican business ties with Turkey will surely improve.
The folks in Washington have no shame.
And they like tyrants.



In any case, go see The Promise.

It opens this coming Friday in San Francisco, and there could be a bunch of radical Berkeleyites outside the theatre screaming shit.
Or the Tea Party contingent. Maybe both.
It's a crap shoot.


"In the waning days of the Ottoman Empire, with defeat at the hands of the Allies all but assured in the Great War, Turkish authorities began rounding up the Empire’s Armenian population for systematic extermination."

"“The Promise” premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) last September, but before the end credits had even finished rolling, there were thousands of negative reviews posted to the IMDB."

"“Basically what happened was either 55,000 Turks decided to vote having not seen the movie, or someone installed a bot to continually inflate that number,” he said. “I think that’s the history of Turkey with this story for the past hundred years.”"


-----Terry George, quoted in The Washington Post.


It probably does not need to be said that The Washington Post is a respected part of the legitimate news media, despised by Republicans, Trump voters, radical fringe elements and, conspiracy tards.
And, almost certainly, the Turks.


Erdo-effing-gan.




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IF ONLY THEY WOULD STOP SAYING "EH"!

Reports suggest that big companies operating in a number of countries are now organizing their sales conferences in places like Mexico and Canada instead of the United States. So that staff from countries which our customs and border enforcers at airports have never heard of but are convinced are populated entirely by deviants and Muslims won't be hassled upon entry.
Everyone feels safer flying to Mexico and Canada.

Which, when you think about it, is a jolly good thing.

It means that our own people will finally see parts of the world which they believed were only fairy tales used to scare little children, AND it means that San Francisco will get far fewer visitors.


The ones that do come will mostly be adventurous Germans and Chinese speaking sincere English. Fewer Midwesterners, fewer Texans, fewer bollocky European bidniz types who hate everything.


"In Balgutia we do not of tip; wait staff are of obsequiously joy-filled only to serve of us and lick of boots!"


Sure, I know our tourist industry depends on visitors. But the rest of us, frankly, can't stand most of them, and don't work in the hospitality field. Other Americans are ignorant and big as houses, most foreigners are too used to sneering at the United States to ever stop now, and business travelers are on the whole a bunch of rancid pustules.

And all of you people smell bad.

In fact, we don't like people who move here either.
You lot drive up prices and eat too much.
Really, you'll love Mexico.
Go there.



We like Canadians, though. Healthy polite people, who are on the whole better educated and more interesting than any number of Cis-Sierran carpetbaggers and Eurotrash.





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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

IS THE 'N' WORD EVER ACCEPTABLE?

That a Florida politician got in trouble recently over a drunken outburst in which he used the word "nigger" brings the question to mind: is using the word "nigger" ever acceptable?

The short and easy to remember answer is 'no'.


A longer and more convoluted response would condition usage of that term upon either the speaker being African American, in which case it is still offensive and had best be in a rap song (because no one pays attention to those except for wiggas), OR quoting the Major in Fawlty Towers.


To illustrate:
"I took her to see India! At The Oval! -- The strange thing was, throughout the morning she kept referring to the Indians as 'niggers'! "No, no, no!", I said, "niggers are the West Indians. These people are wogs!"."

It remains objectionable. But it shows the British in a stereotypic bad light, and illuminates why the end of the Empire was a good thing.
In context, it serves a fairly worthwhile purpose.
Better than any number of rap lyrics.
Or Florida politicians.





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THE FLOATING SCENE

The other day I passed what at one time was a damned fine dim sum place, which changed its name, rumbled on for a few years as a deservedly not very popular restaurant under different management, and has been repurposed since then for some other type of activity entirely.

When it was still a tea establishment I took three Shanghainese girls there.
They spent the entire time slagging Chinatown, the Cantonese, Hong Kong attitudes, and everything Southern Chinese and San Franciscan, and ate an enormous amount of dainties with great gusto, and bucketloads of tea (chrysanthemum Pu Er; 菊普). A great time was had.
Charming company.

[Chrysanthemum Pu Erh: 菊普茶 ('guk pou chaa'), a mixture of dried white chrysanthemum flowers (菊花 'guk faa') and aged Pu Erh tea (普洱茶 'po nei chaa') from Yunnan Province (雲南 'wan nam'), which is considered especially suitable for drinking with small snackipoos as served for breakfast-lunch in Cantonese metropolitan areas.]


I may have had an ulterior motive vis-à-vis one of them, but I've always been keenly aware of the limits of fantasy, and consequently never did anything more than deliciously imagine possibilities. My sense of reality told me that there were Shanghainese relatives in the background, and being a Cantonese-speaking kwailo would cut me no mustard.

Everything Cantonese is so déclassé (落入社會底) if you are from a mud flat on the Woosung (吳淞江) where pig carcasses (死猪) slowly drift past (漂漂流流了). As they do.

Nobody famous or rich ever spoke Cantonese!
It's a fairly useless language.
Peasants.


For many years the Cantonese knew Shanghai primarily as a city of of sin, where prostitutes, politicians, and gangsters catered to the whimsies of Imperialists, wore silk, smoked expensive cigarettes, and ate eels.
No one had even heard of xiaolongbao in those days.

[I concede that xiaolongbao are very clever.]


Remarkably, there are now Cantonese Restaurants in Shanghai, mostly located near the big hotels, so it's possible to get dim sum there.

逸龍閣,利苑,翡翠酒家,金御酒家,御寶軒,南江 ...

Shanghai has improved over the years.
Chinatown has declined.


Nope, still not ever going to learn Shanghainese.
Sounds like a leaky soda water syphon.
All hissing and spitting.




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SHEER PORKCHOPPY MAGNETISM!

Gracious that was delicious! Tender meat smothered in tomato and onion with a pile of rice. Which was not what I set out to get, but after visiting my bank I needed lunch, and decided to head over to a familiar chachanteng, where normally I just have Hong Kong milk tea and a pastry or two.
The pork chop rice plate fair jumped out at me.
It was something I never had before.
A grievous omission.

That lunch definitely bears repeating.


番茄豬扒飯
['faan-ke chyu-baa faan']

Two thin chops, with cooked fresh sweet tomato, and a little onion. Rice fluffy. No need for hot sauce. Delicious. Possibly they salted and peppered the meat before pan-frying. The heat must have been immense but brief, terminating in fresh chopped tomato, onion, and a splash of liquid.
Probably one of the best meals I've eaten.

Soup and a roll included.


I should also mention that I must have been radiating something yesterday, as six women in Chinatown reacted with pleasure upon seeing me. Maybe it's my faint perfume of tobacco, or more likely they recognized me, and for a non-threatening middle-aged goofus I'm kinda likeable.
Or something like that.

It can't be my sex appeal, because three men did the same.

Besides, if I actually had sex appeal, it would probably frighten people. "The were-wolf came up the stairs, and a horde of people panicked and fled." "A dark cloud of dread preceded the old coot where ever he went, causing pedestrians to quail, and tender females to avert their eyes."
Let us assume that I am a known quantity.
A familiar landmark.



AFTER WORD

Upon finishing my lunch I ponced around a bit with pipe and tobacco for a while, revisiting several alleyways, terminating at the edge of Portsmouth Square, where I observed the loonies near the end of my bowl.
Still baffled at the man wearing only dirty shorts.
If I had that torso, I should hide it.




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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO PLEASURE

People obsess over all kinds of things. And pipe smokers are, of course, more obsessive than most. I often tell people who are new to the field that if they weren't neurotic before, they will be soon. Minutiae such as packing, lighting, tamping, degree of moisture in the tobacco for optimum pleasure, company not to keep when enjoying the finest mixtures ......
Certainly my friend the bookseller has heard me gibber often enough about such subjects, which I have recompensed by patiently listening, Sigmund-Freud-like, to him talking on and on and on about baseball.
Lord knows baseball is boring and insane.
Hit ball, run around.
Yay.

Or NOT hit ball, run around anyway.
Yay also.


My apartment mate occasionally obsesses over cake. She recently bought a strawberry Swiss-roll. And was wondering what it would taste like with butter ice cream melting into it. Seriously, I worry about that girl.
Such excessive appetites!

I am far more Spartan (downright Puritanical) in my tastes, and consequently I am gloat over an entirely different thing.
A squat bulldog, Comoy shape 331.

Here is an illustration I lifted from Smokingpipes.com



Well gosh darn, isn't that just a gorgeous pipe shape? Comoy's always had the best designs. The one that has recently entered my collection does not have two-tone finish like the example pictured above, being more of a waxed dark-natural hue, and like many Comoy pipes it has someone else's shop-stamping (they did that a lot between the thirties and seventies), but it has not a single fill, and the briar is good old wood.

It is the second example I have acquired in the last decade or so. A rare and beautiful shape, pretty much the very piss-elegant paradigm of squat bulldogs. Yes, I had to re-cut the mouthpiece, because the previous repair dude did a piss-poor job of matching it to the bowl -- not unusual, but this was a particularly loathsome attempt -- and I've already smoked it a few times with a lovely Virginia-Perique blend of my own devising.
But I will continue to gloat over this shape.
Yay me, a Comoy shape 331.
Yay again.



Cake and baseball, good grief. Sometimes I just cannot understand other people. Shapes make sense. Shapes are what life is all about. Shapes are something you can hold. Whereas baseball and cake are far too soon exhausted, and do not lead to any lasting pleasure.
Or gloating. Gloat gloat gloat!




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CHOP IN A BOWL OF RICE

First you make a dark brown roux. Then you add veal stock plus browned meat bones, and vegetables (carrot, onion, celery, garlic). Simmer it slowly, skimming frequently, till considerably reduced. Add more veal stock and repeat. Then, a splash more stock, and some tomato puree. Strain.
It should be dark and remind you of chocolate.
This is your classic Espagnole.
If velvety, demi-glace.

Take a thick slice of pork tenderloin, pound it a bit, dust it with flour, dip it in beaten egg, flip-flop it in breadcrumbs, and dump it in the deep fryer. Remove and drain. Set aside for a moment.

Put some sliced cabbage OR lettuce in a sauce pan over heat to wilt. Take it out, place in a bowl of piping hot rice. Now slice or chop the pork cutlet into thick strips, place on top of the vegetable, and pour demi-glace over it. You may add some cooked peas for artistic effect.

Voila! Demi-katsudon, Okayama style.



Normally, katsudon has the cutlet placed on sliced onions cooking in a typical Japanese sauce (dashi, soy, sugar, rice wine), beaten egg rather casually plooped over, briefly lidded to cook the egg, and the whole thing slipped onto rice. Garnished with sliced seaweed, mostly for colour.
Again, a few cooked peas for appearance.



Seeing as I like long-grain rice, rather than short-grain Japanese sticky rice, and am not overly fond of either dashi or onions, when I do something like this it is with demi-glace, small bok choy, and no peas.
Plus a blop of Sriracha or sambal ulek.
And a squeeze of lime.

Sometimes, a Wiener Schnitzel instead of the pork.

Let's call it the breakfast of champions.


Yōshoku (洋食)



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Monday, April 17, 2017

THE HEADGEAR MAKES IT SPECIAL

Ran across an evocative utterance today: "the lone drummer now crosses the parade ground to re-join the massed bands". Which, to the person in the know, paints a picture. The bands move to the back of the field, the escort marches forward, the subaltern will hold them at twenty paces in front of the colour.

At which point the television announcer starts talking too much.
Dear man, we don't want to know all of that.
Or any of it at all, really.

We want drums.


Actually, what we really want to do is sneak off by ourselves, and in some deserted courtyard light up a pipe while the ritual continues, still audible, but faint in the distance.

The complicated turning of the bands is, I suppose, splendid, but other than the occasional sprightly tune and the bright colours, the whole affair is a bit boring for its length.


I have a fondness for a few marches, but find parades to be rather dull. It's like watching a puddle of John Phillip Sousa drying in the hot sun and fragment by fragment peeling off the tarmac in the breeze.

Perhaps Marathon races and parades ought to be combined. Everybody trotting past at high speed, with a bouncy musical accompaniment.
Like the strapping lads below.

COME QUESTI BERSAGLIERI ...


[SOURCE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tNHOLMRoMK4.]

Bouncity, bouncity, bouncity.

Vigorous boys!


A splendid spectacle, quite clever really, and those flippity floppity hats add a je ne sais quoi to it. Pom pom pom, pommity pommity pom pom pom.




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WHORES OF THE OTTOMANS

Those Turks who voted for Erdogan's constitutional power grab while living in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, or France, have no business continuing to live in Western Europe, and they should go home.
Go back to the Middle Ages. Leave the modern world.

Turkey became part of the Middle-East again yesterday. The region of despots, authoritarian governments, imprisoned reporters, religious nut educational systems, and deplorable human rights records.

Yes, the cities voted against Erdogan. But the primitive hinterland and its retrogrades voted overwhelmingly for him.


There is no place in the civilized world for those Turks.

Or their ethnic and cultural kinfolk.

Their sojourn should end.


Ze mogen oprotten.




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Sunday, April 16, 2017

LESS THAN PERFECTLY SOCIALIZED

Usually on a day off the grouchy badger firmly shuts his apartment mate's door, opens all the windows for ventilation, and lights up his trusty briar (one of several) as soon as his Cantonese American apartment mate leaves the building. What he reads, in no particular order: Wikipedia, Facebook, The BBC and Reuters, more Wikipedia, Google Translate, Jewish blogs and Chinese food. Plus at least three or four news sites in Dutch.
As well as stuff in German or Chinese.

The tobacco which will be enjoyed is often something with matured Virginia leaf and more often than not a little Perique.
Soul-stirring. Yet subtle.
Civilized.


I assure you it does not smell bad. But Mr. Badger's co-resident is a young lady of delicate sensibilities, and he has been told that if her teddy bear ever ends up whiffing of tobacco smoke, horrible things will happen.

Mr. Badger leaves for a snack or meal in Chinatown around mid-afternoon, which gives the apartment time to air out.


I've learned that one had best not offend Cantonese American women.
The ones who are worth knowing are not wusses.


Everything on my side of our dwelling has a faint perfume of Old Belt, Louisiana, and whisperings of Turk and Syrian. So it's a good thing that she and I are not amorously involved. I have not noticed my stuffed animals reeking of tobacco, but my sensibility is not particularly delicate.



The reason why I mention all of this is because this is a day off. Normally Sunday is one of my work days, but today the world is celebrating Zombie Bunny or National Eggs Benediction or whatever. So I am browsing the internet for news and knowledge. As wells as food and kitten pictures, because one must always make time for food and kittens.

But I cannot smoke.


I will leave for Chinatown somewhat earlier than usual for my teatime.


It is raining outside as I write this. How unfortunate!


I shall lurk in abandoned doorways.



Baked Portuguese Chicken Rice.
Hong Kong style milk tea.
Pipes and tobacco.
Umbrella.

My nickname is not 'Pig Sky', 'Balls', or 'Pongious Old Dude'.
Only the monkey calls me 'Boy-Boy'.

Stuffed animals.




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CHOCOLATE RABBITS ARE WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE WORLD

While researching Vegan spiral cut ham, possibly for this year's Easter Charity Dinner of the Firm Health Orphanage -- the 2016 event was less than well-attended, perhaps because the celebratory meal featured "a festive vegetarian bean smorgasbord" -- one item among my previous essays caught my eye. Beans, by the way, are not celebratory.


"I would far rather see a naughty nursy-wursy in the hallway mirror, holding a freshly baked apple pie. The naked man who pops up occasionally is not really my type."


At that point I realized that all the best pastry crusts for pies are made with lard. Clarified shortening. Hog fat. And it also brought my dislike of food fads, gluten-phobes, vegans, kale-snarfers, and all others of the dreadful puritanical Protestant social type into sharp focus.

Other people with whom I would, on the whole, rather not have to associate include people who voted for Stein, Trump, Johnson, and also many of the Bernie supporters whose vociferation helped sabotage the election. Berkeleyites, Marinites, Southern Californians. Anti-vaxxers, health food freaks, and the dingoes who believe celebrities.

When you think about it, a nurse holding a hot apple pie is a remarkably wholesome and cheering concept. Fresh, clean, alluring.


If I ever decide to celebrate anything Easter-ish in a family context, with cheap chockies and screaming little kids running around, I will make sure that there is at least one nurse making pies in the kitchen.

Gender somewhat irrelevant.



I still remember my keen disappointment at chocolate bunnies. That horrid smell, the disturbing lack of realistic details (as if designed by someone who just didn't care), and the fact that it was hollow with thin brittle walls.
It made a mockery of my childish conceptual delight. And it tasted fake.




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KEEP EGGS OUT OF OUR SCHOOLS!

As a public service, here is important news for this weekend.
I felt that there were things you needed to know.


Saturday April 15, 10:00 AM
NEWS FLASH: In a move to pacify angry Californians, the Governor's Office has announced that the yearly Easter Egg Hunt on the grounds of the State Capitol will be replaced with a 'carrot quest', in an effort to provide "our state's children" with a heart-healthy snack that does not connote any exploitation of animals and contains no artificial colorants. The traditional chocolate candy will no longer be made available either.
Instead, quinoa roll-ups are suggested.

The Press Release clarified that anyone attempting to distribute "candy" to minors will be arrested and charged with child-endangerment. Also, there is a "safe zone" extending up to seven miles from the Capitol Grounds where tobacco, alcohol, gluten, pornography, and a comprehensive list of triggering behaviours, statements, words, and attitudes will NOT be allowed without an official permit (or government I.D.).
Medicinal herb-use excepted.


Saturday, April 15, 3:00 PM
NEWS FLASH: The Sacramento Police Department has issued a lookout for a person known as the "Bunny Bandit", suspected of pelting motorists near where the 'Governor's Annual Carrot Quest' will take place tomorrow with hard-boiled eggs. The eggs are painted in a variety of hues to disguise them, such as Red Number 40, Yellow Number 5, and Venetian Ceruse. The public is cautioned to stay away from any offending albumen.
He (or she) is dressed in a fluffy pink velour body suit.
The suspect's gender-identity is unknown.
And considered immaterial.

Extra security will be provided for Sunday's "Healthstravaganza".


Saturday, April 15, 5:42 PM
NEWS FLASH: In a response to months of activism by concerned citizens from all backgrounds, mainly Berkeley, officials have recommended that matze-brei be classified as a health hazard, due to the inclusion of gluten and what has been called "a shocking amount of heart-unhealthy butter", in addition to other dairy material, sweeteners, and processed food products.
"It's a splendid example of social responsibility" said spokesperson Priscilla ('Prissie') Codswallop, "the first step of many towards a better future".
She also announced that their next target is the avocado.
An inedible genetically modified fake fruit.
"It looks unnatural, like an egg."


Saturday, April 15, 9:36 PM
NEWS FLASH: Crowds of intoxicated fans are currently engaged in a food fight in Sleep Train Arena, having smuggled so-called "Easter Eggs" into the stadium in defiance of tight security. In a related matter, Capitol Police have recommended cavity searches of all attendees for future events. Beer sales were halted ten minutes ago and the bathrooms locked; it is hoped that this will eventually persuade the mob to leave.


Sunday, April 16, 11:42 AM
NEWS FLASH: The Governor's Annual Carrot Quest descended into chaos and mayhem today as crowds of obese youngsters fought desperately with invasive rabbits intent upon the vegetable prizes. The slow moving children were no match for the agile and aggressive leporids, whose vicious bites and powerful hind claws disemboweled a number of infants. Mothers were seen fleeing from the grounds wailing "oh the humanity" and demanding conflict resolution. They were consoled by a statement from a Buddhist Abbot offering words of peace and love.


Sunday, April 16, 4:23 PM
NEWS FLASH: The rabbit swarm in Sacramento has developed a taste for human flesh, and is heading towards the suburbs.

Save yourselves.




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WHEN BEEF IS NOT AN OPTION

For years I had a full-colour picture on the refrigerator door of the egg bacon cheeseburger donutwich. Which wasn't on my bucket list, but did represent an intellectual ideal of beauty. It disappeared one day, and now all that's left are Stephan Pastis' cartoons involving bad wordplays. Cringeworthy, at times, but no less beautiful.

So of course on a whim I typed 'Eggs Benedict Burger' into my browser, and did an image search. The result was delicious food porn.

Big! Patties! Of juicy! Grilled meat!
Gloopy cascades of Bearnaise.
Strips of crispy bacon.
And gluten.

Goes well with a pint of Riesling or Elbling.

As well as "The French Toast Benny Burger" at Slater's, described quite lovingly so: "breakfast sausage patty, chipotle Hollandaise, Canadian bacon, sunny-side up egg, spinach, on sourdough French toast".

Your dietician, as well as your ditzy Vegan boyfriend, will be righteously offended when you eat it. Devour it. Luxuriate in its greasy heart-stopping goodness. Celebrate the resurrection of a mythical space alien by creating this sacrifice in your shared kitchen, sending a cloud of delicious meaty fragrance from the communal stove top through the dormitory. Perhaps chanting a mantra: "where's the beef, bitches, where's the beef?"

"Breakfast sausage, chipotle Hollandaise, bacon, egg, spinach, sourdough French toast ... "

Because, of course, it is entirely beef-free.
Sausage patties are made of pork.
My life is much richer now.
I found the grail.


For extra goodness, have a big plate of sliced avocado, garlic-gruyère-fries, and Sriracha hot sauce on the side. Avocado is healthy.


Girl, you're wearing sunglasses, it's dark, there's half a pack of cigarettes, a full tank of gas, and over a hundred miles. Hit it!


April 16 is 'National Eggs Benedict Day'.
Celebrate wisely, eat well.



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Saturday, April 15, 2017

CANTONESE GIRLS AND BEAUTIFUL EATS

It's not that what I ate wasn't good -- the restaurant caters to a lot of single male diners of an age between thirty and three hundred, so their selection of things a solitary person could order is rather exceptional -- but what the two young ladies at the next table had looked scrumptious. One of them was a little chunky of physique, the other one had a pleasing round face and plump little hands. Both were intelligent and vibrant. Probably because of the splendid company and fine food. Or more so than usual.

Steamed rice sheet rolls, fried calamari, fried sauced tofu, sauteed dau miu, and a savoury meat dish. And my heavens those girls packed it in! While keeping up a constant stream of juicy gossip. Ah Sam (a male) is getting serious, Ah Peggy has a problem with her husband (who is ho yiuk maa!), Ah Lilly just gave birth .... chopsticks held with plump little fingers snaked out and grabbed some dau miu, deftly folding the vegetable over so that a precise packet could be delivered to glistening kissy lips. While demanding more details about Ah Peggy and her man, the chunkish miss caused some more dau miu to disappear. As I squooze some Sriracha sauce on my fish, Plump Hands changed the subject; when I looked up she was attacking the calamari and announced that on Tuesday or Wednesday she would "call sick". Which was a good idea, the chopsticks snatching a lump of fried tofu said. There was still some of the steamed rice sheet (corn, cilantro, some fried meat on top), and both women periodically lessened the amount.
Talk talk talk, eat eat eat! Surely this is what heaven is like? Eat more!
The fried tofu seemed endless, but I saw both of them go at it.
The dau miu was diminishing fast, however.
The other food was secondary.


When I finished my tea and paid up, I heard Plump Hands admit that she was bau bau dei (飽飽哋). That did not stop her from continuing, however.
There were dau miu and fried calamari bits to finish!

I applaud her deft little hands and kissy lips.
As well as her lively appetite.



My food was good too. But I cannot eat so much, and when one is limited to rice-plate specials the variety is really not that exciting. The milk tea was yummy, and the other customers were also mildly interesting.
But I really lucked out on that neighboring table.
Eat, ladies, nobody is watching you.
You are alone here.
Enjoy!



NOTE
美食 ('mei sik'): "beautiful eats", refined dainties.
Some very nice casual food.
Yumminess!




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Friday, April 14, 2017

WHAT A SAD STATE OF AFFAIRS!

Several crises have entirely gone me by. Sorry for the bad English, as a foreigner excuses I have. This week is Passover, Easter, and tax time combined. And I laugh. Because I am so foreign. Oh bally yes.

One of the regulars at the cigar lounge, in answer to the question how his Seder was, explained that his in-laws presented a roast Passover ham for dinner, and that he at that point quietly put the matze back in his bag.
I didn't even bother asking him about the plagues and the chrein. Another one regaled us with an account of his twelve year old accidentally refilling her glass repeatedly from the Manischewitz jug instead of the Concord grape juice and being lit as a fireworks display for the rest of the night.
And a third just grunted apathetically while finishing the cookies.

From all this I gather that Passover, for some of the people I know, may not have been fully Peysachdik. Nisht 100% koisher le Peisekh.

The Christian element is not any better off. Today starts a lamentation and guilt extravaganza that will be finally alleviated only by egg salad sandwiches and cheap rodent chocolate.
And intestinal gas.



I don't participate in either the Passover, Or the resurrected Bunny Rabbit and Egg Hoojemahah. Not because I don't want to, but because I am apparently far too anti-social to trust around your kids.

Nor do I fruss much over tax time.

Been there, done it.


The full extent of my involvement is that on Saturday in Marin I might have an egg salad sandwich for lunch (Seven Eleven should have that on matze, one hopes), and on Sunday in lieu of rabbit in champagne sauce I will have Chinese food. As is multidenominationally correct, yes?

Today is, I believe, Good Friday.

So suffer, Christians.



No matze brei either.



Sunday I shall be off. Like many people I shall take the opportunity to eat something good, unconnected with either Passover or Easter.

The rest of you, please be constipated.

Woo hoo, bitches.




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Thursday, April 13, 2017

CIGAR REVIEWS: A FEELING OF EXISTENTIAL ANOMIE

You probably (correctly) picture me with a pipe in my mouth. Which is absolutely on target, especially because by and large I despise most of the cigar smokers with whom I am acquainted. Nasty puffed-up gits with too much self-worth, who smell bad and eat too much.

But sometimes I smoke cigars.

The boss came back from Mexico with stogies for everyone. And his wife, of course, felt that in return for this consideration we should review a few, providing feedback which would help them decide which to stock.

A reasonable request, and I am anything if not opinionated.

So, last night before the rain came pouring down, I wandered around Nob Hill with a cheroot in my mouth, which was the very last of the ones I chose to smoke in the near term.

I feel slightly dirty now.


NESTOR MIRANDA COROJO ROBUSTO

A dark resinous wrapper which smells earthy and deep. The pre-light draw reminds me of Camel non-filters, which is a positive memory-laden effect.
It is good to lick. The cigar itself is tightly rolled,and burns unevenly, to the extent that I gave up halfway through, despite the over all pleasant smoke.
It is spicy, sweet, but not very memorable. I really wanted to like it more than I did. The ash is lovely, flaky and veering on white.
It could be good. But I was disappointed.


ROMEO 505 NICARAGUA TORO

Medium-full bodied, with a lovely dark wrapper which is perfumy to the nose. The roll could be firmer and more uniform. Upon lighting it is very pleasant, but about a third of the way down it becomes far less enjoyable.
Not bad, mind you -- the tobaccos are probably excellent -- but just not a very interesting product. It looks better than it is.


ALEC BRADLEY SANCTUM ROBUSTO

Very well rolled. Medium brown wrapper, mildly veined, variegated, and silky. This is a complex cigar, but a little fussy. The ash fell apart easily. Rather than a sweetness on the tongue the beast seemed tangy.
Towards the end I was quite reminded of nutmeg.
It is visually more appealing than it tastes.
But it's not bad.


VILLIGER SAN'DORO COLORADO ROBUSTO

A bit peppery, goes well with black coffee. Or Bourbon. Becomes more complex and enjoyable about halfway in, sweet and perfumy toward the end. Probably one of the most interesting cigars I've tasted in a while.
The ash is medium grey.


SLAUGHTERHOUSE CHURCHILL

Veers between tasty, over the top, and nasty. It is badly made and burns irregularly. I'm convinced that this is meant for poker players and sold in shoeboxes. What the heck were they thinking naming it?
It's not good, and just not very interesting.
I gave up halfway through.


LFD RESERVA ESPECIAL ROBUSTO

Medium buff hue to the wrapper, is that Connecticut? It is a mild puppy, without any very great complexity, but quite satisfying. An almost creamy or velvety taste, building to a caramel finish. Worth smoking down to the last inch, and would go well with a Pinot Noir. Burnt slightly irregularly, but this is a cigar I would revisit.


GURKHA HARTFIELD -- "A BOURBON COUNTRY DISTILLERY"

Oh pulleeze! I didn't even bother taking it out of the fancy-shmancy glass tube, and I dare not smoke this at the Occidental for fear Curtis Post would bust a gut laughing and throw me out. You're kidding, right?
I'll smoke it after I've finished admiring the marketing snazzle.
Perhaps very late at night.



I returned home in a downpour, finished writing what I thought, and fired off the e-mail. Then I lit up a pipe and read Mencius till past twelve.
I am re-studying the master, whom I first discovered years ago.

齊宣王問曰:「湯放桀,武王伐紂,有諸?」
孟子對曰:「於傳有之。」
曰:「臣弒其君可乎?」
曰:「賊仁者謂之賊,賊義者謂之殘,殘賊之人謂之一夫。聞誅一夫紂矣,未聞弒君也。」

King Hsuen of Chai asked: "Tang replaced Git , King Mou subjugated Jau, is that correct?"

Mencius responded: "that's how it was recorded."
King Hsuen: "but how can a minister kill his prince?"
Mencius: "the malevolent is called an evil-doer, the unrighteous is a scoundrel. Both are commonly considered ruffians. I have heard that a ruffian was whacked, but NOT that a prince was killed."

One of the best passages. When the person at the top is a son-of-a-bitch, it is better that his reign be brought to a close.

This is relevant to the current age, but I hesitate to mention it at work, because too many cigar smokers are supporters of the regime.
And utterly bat shit besides.




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THAT'S NOT MEAN, THAT'S NICE!

Cruising through clickbait (we all do, no point in denying it) I came across an article on Tickld. It interested me because I sometimes like to read examples of other people failing at life, and doing it very well.


Item number 27 from "29 People Share The Meanest Thing They've Ever Done That They Don't Regret At All."

Quote: "I stole someone's pet rabbit. I went to a party and the guys who lived there kept her in a tiny cage meant for hamsters and blew weed smoke at her face all the time. They never gave her veggies, instead they were feeding her wet cat food so she was super malnourished.

My friend created a diversion and I grabbed the cage and booked it to the car. I took her to the vet and they kept her for two weeks to get her back to normal. She was apparently seizing from the withdrawal combined with dehydration. She was also incredibly mean, due to the abuse.

The vet said there was evidence of prior broken bones that had never been healed. The dudes who owned her had no idea who took her and were posting pleas on Myspace to give her back.

Fat chance! She required intense care, so I gave her to our vet tech who was also our petsitter because I couldn't take care of her the way she required. I don't feel bad about the theft (bunny-napping?) for a second."
End quote.


No, that wasn't mean of you. Mean would have been burning down their house without removing the bunny rabbit first. Or calling the cops on their skanky asses right then and there, which would have done the bunny no good, as she would have been part of the evidence of drug use, and probably tested for THC. You know what that means.


See, in a situation like this, it's okay to poison the punch.
Or open the refrigerator door to take a piss.
Defenestration, and razors.

But save the rabbit first.
Because it's important.




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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

A COMFORTABLE LITTLE NEIGHBORHOOD

Three people visited my blog today specifically for an article from a few years ago, written when I was still young, innocent, and in a relationship.
I am less young, and not in a relationship anymore.
But still innocent, oh lord yes!

There is no one more saintly and innocent than me. Among dirty old men, at least. Which is a group that statistically represents all of society, although comprised largely of springy fellows in early vibrant middle-age, many of whom are single and smoke pipes. And like Virginia-Perique mixtures, because they have good taste.


You will now kindly note that I am an absolute paradigm.
[Like Graham Chapman, Sean Connery, & Gerald Ford, all rolled into one.]

A representative of the type.

Several of my acquaintances are also rather like that, albeit not nearly so springy, and some of them don't smoke, which is very sad for them.
Although it does leave more for the rest of us.


The post visited today was Chinatown Sex Dungeons.

Short recap: One day I returned home and my apartment mate accused me of knowing all about places in her old neighborhood that she had never even heard of, and people setting fire to the sleeping homeless.
Because I am white, and we know.


As of yesterday, the closest Chinatown comes to the aforementioned sex dungeons is foot massage places where your nasty old stompers will get a wash and a hard rubbing, and though bums do sleep in the neighborhood, they are mainly ex-cons dossing down in Hang Ah Alley, mostly white or wheatish of complexion, plus very Caucasian Berkeley frat-boys losing consciousness after drinking like fish in North Beach and sprees of casual vandalism (ripping down signs and tipping over garbage bins).


University cities like Berkeley have more sexual violence, death by being site on fire, drug use, and general mayhem and thuggery, than neighborhoods like Chinatown.

You don't believe me? Try walking through Berkeley late at night.
Especially near the campus and Frat Row.


Perky middle-aged men like myself dare not go there.
See, we're not frat boys. We're normal.
Sweet and well-behaved.




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THE NEXT TIME A CHINESE WOMAN OFFERS TO PLAY DICE WITH YOU, DO SO!

After a night of carousing I returned home with a damp bottom and soggy feet. I had been out dancing in the rain, and because that hill is immense, especially late at night, I needed to rest by perching on numerous fire hydrants on the way home. Which were wet. Because of the rain.
The city is extraordinarily beautiful in the rain.
Perhaps my bottom not.

I no longer bound up steep streets with the vim of a gazelle.
I am getting older.


Cantonese opera. A small midnight meal. Half a pint of good beer. A little whiskey. As carousing goes, extremely temperate.

Some of the other patrons at the bar were examples of excess, probably before we even arrived.


In particular a blonde woman who believed she could sing. That bar has made a lot of money off people like her, which keeps it generously afloat. So it has survived well for several years, which we certainly appreciate in a city where landlord corporations gouge and e-commerce yuppies ruin everything, so I shan't complain .....

But please don't sing.


It's a Chinese bar. None of the Chinese sang. Instead, they ate.

Cantonese love late night dining (消夜) more than Remy Martin.


And while they find Caucasians making spectacles of themselves quite entertaining, because they love street theatre and a free show, especially when its ridiculous bad behaviour by white people, the sheer repetitiveness and predictability of loud off-key renditions of mediocre songs which were almost forgotten -- deservedly so! -- palls very fast. The sheer ego and sense of specialness evinced by the performers do not appeal for long.
Not everyone has the charm and spirit to be Florence Foster Jennings.
It is very sad. But duck, a bottle of Sriracha, and this savoury noodle soup, now that's good. Infinitely engaging! Here, have a dumpling. Rice porridge, fried yautiu, roast meats, concubine chicken ..... yummy!

The spirited and curvaceous young lady from Hunan offered to teach the blonde and her drunken companions liars dice, which would have been quite an improvement over the yowling, but they would not listen, because they were too far gone.


Instead of pop songs from the seventies, the next time I should prefer an endless parade of chicken wings, fried noodles, shrimp, rice porridge, tea eggs, peanuts and pistachios, soy sauce meats, steamed buns .....

The way to my ear goes through my stomach.


Hunter S. Thompson would have shot the karaoke machine.













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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

RED AILANTHUS AND OTHER ELEMENTS

On April 6, 1941, eleven college boys rowing on Lake Biwa in Japan perished when their boat overturned in bad weather. The following year one thousand cherry trees were planted near where it happened as a memorial.
A few months after they drowned, a song was released, the Biwako Aika (Biwa Lake Elegy), which has a sweet and plaintive melody.

Lake Biwa is Japan's largest lake. Kyoto (京都) is to the south-west, about eight kilometres away, and Hikone Castle (彦根城), which is mentioned in the first verse, is visible along the eastern shore. The Castle is about ten kilometres south of Nagahama (長浜), and looks out over the water towards Takashima (高島) on the opposite shore.



Shiga Perfecture (滋賀県), where Lake Biwa is situated, is altogether about two hundred and fifty kilometres distant from Tokyo, and much closer to Osaka (大阪) and Kobe (神戸).

You probably know the last mentioned from the Studio Ghibli film 'Grave of the Fireflies' (火垂るの墓 Hotaru no haka). If not, please see it.


The classic rendition of the song is by Shoji Taro (東海林太郎) and Ogasawara Mitsuko (小笠原美都子). The video below was made over a quarter of a century after the song was published.
It is still a favourite.


琵琶湖哀歌.東海林太郎.小笠原美都子.



Source, along with a transcription and a translation:
http://photoguide.jp/txt/Biwako_Aika.


To my mind the lyrics have much of the same taste as many poems from China written during the Tang Dynasty. Marsh birds, water as a backdrop to sadness, distant views of castles, or bridges, or settlements, across the lake or river, regret and remembrance.

That may just be my mind recognizing kinships which aren't there.
I am a foreigner to both Chinese and Japanese cultures.
As an outsider looking in, I see different things.
Related themes with reflected symbologies.



Of course, like a complete freak, I prize the Vocaloid version more.
And naturally I found that rendition first.




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WHAT WOMEN WANT

A few weeks ago I saw a list of what women really notice about men, and what turns them on. Of course the list was based on the responses of a few very extroverted ladies who did not mind telling the interviewer far too much about themselves, rather than the introverted shy geology graduates most normal men would like to date, so it does not reflect objective reality.

Naturally I skipped over most of the responses as being ridiculous if not downright idiotic. Fortunately a few have some bearing.

Herewith the truly important ones.
Nothing else is important.

"Does he have a British accent? "

This blogger dare not venture out too far on Saint Patrick's Day or Indian Independence Day, because at those times things may happen that aren't pleasant. Especially with his accent. Too British-sounding, and much more so when confronting tipsy idiots. Basil Fawlty talking at O'Reilly.
But the accent is more in-between than British.

"The cleanliness of his car. "

No car.

"Clean neat eyebrows."

Yes.

"Books; he has to have books."

Far too many of them. Books give me a sense of security, and being surrounded by them gives me a feeling of home.

"I don’t find bald men attractive."

Neither do I.

"Shoes, always."

I've got shoes.

"Clean ears."

This is your lucky decade!

"I only date foreign guys. "

This blogger is so bally foreign he practically qualifies as a green tentacled lizard alien. I voted for Kang and Kodos, twice. Because I misread the ballot (honestly, I thought it was the menu at a fast-food restaurant). Yandelavasa gudenwi stravenka. This tobacconist is scratched. Donde esta el inodoro?
Jagshemash, and chinqui.

"Is he shirtless and playing beach volleyball? "

No.

"Feet."

Yes.



It might be interesting to now list what it is that I first notice about women, but in all seriousness, I don't know what that is. Occasionally my dingbat-o-meter goes off, sometimes it's breasts, or perhaps that she is talking on a cell-phone. Does she have tousled hair? Is she happy?
How high is the unskankiness quotient?
A kind intelligent face?


With men, it's easy. How much do they look like trailer trash or druggies? And how self-important and entitled do they seem to be?

The key thing, especially once they open their mouths, is if they are odd enough that one instinctively draws back, and realizes that they might be a hassle to know any better. But that also counts for women.


In either case, it is best to avoid people who believe in flying saucers.
Unless they actually are space aliens, in which case contributing to interplanetary understanding is a noble cause.




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