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.

Friday, November 17, 2017


One would be hard-pressed to call her glamorous. For one thing, she had an intelligent look in her eyes, and seemed curious about everything.
For another, there was no air of mystery about her.
And she wasn't standing still.

"Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid."

---Hedy Lamarr

In addition, she might not even have been five years old yet.

I took a quick bus down to Chinatown after work yesterday, because my apartment mate was in the kitchen cooking up something scrumptious for her boyfriend -- poor bastard can't cook, or something, and has no clue about food and nutrition -- and the smell was making me hungry.
I picked the wrong time to go. It started raining.

At the second stop up the hill a little girl and her dad got on, and sat across from me. I noticed that she was staring at me, and while from women of a certain age that can be alluring, when a tyke does so, it is disturbing.
Do I have a moustache hair sticking up my nose?
Or is one of my eyes bloodshot, perhaps?
Hasn't she ever seen a white dude?

She was the cutest thing, all clean and bright and twinkly, and her clothes were neat, and she looked a real little lady sitting there all proper and well-behaved. But then there was that determined face and the gimlet gaze, which was firmly fixed upon me.

No, I didn't have my Hello Kitty backpack.
So it wasn't that.

Had to break the ice somehow, her concentrated and unwavering focus on my face was starting to freak me out. As being stared at by a women of any age might, to any man. Not just a middle-aged white guy with what must have been obvious defects to a little Chinese girl.

I screwed up my courage, and gently asked "妹妹,你叫乜名啊 ('mui mui, nei kiu meh meng ah')?"
Which is Cantonese for "what is you name, little girl?"

She looked at me as if I had gone off my nut.

Then said happily "I have pink rain boots!

I think she was very pleased about her boots, which were indeed pretty, and wanted to share the joy. They were a very bright pink.

If I were a small female Chinese person of that age, I too should wish for boots of that exact hue.

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Thursday, November 16, 2017


Collect all the monkeys, we have bananas! Because, of course, you cannot buy just one banana. Well, you can at Trader Joe's, but they deal with white people, who are weird. In multiple gibberant ways. Normally you have to buy a hand of nana. Three, four, or five. From which it logically stands that one should have three, four, or five monkeys.
Especially if one avoids bananas.
They make me itch.

Cooked bananas are safer, but the monkeys do not like them that way, what with being opinionated purists, and stubborn to boot.
They don't even like yoghurt with their bananas.
Or whipped cream.

Actually, I do not know about the whipped cream, because I never asked.
But if I were to offer it once, they might demand it always. And I don't feel like whipping it up every time

Four monkeys:

Urasmus: The one-legged gibbon who was maltreated one Halloween by the evil head of Marketing.
Curious George Jr.: Who decided to perch near my phone at the law office and kick it when it rang.
Arabello Oyster: The control monkey, who has gone all batshit sweet on the senior roomie, Ms. Bruin.
The Sock Monkey: No, I don't remember his name, I just call him "Sock". Nice fellow. Likes the cat.

[The reason why I sometimes can't think of his name is because her boy friend Wheelie Boy is the reason why he's here, whereas the other three live on my side of the apartment. It's a mental block.]

On a whim I bought bananas. Which I don't eat, due to the itchy itchy scratchy scratchy dang 'fudge' aaaarghh! Skin flakes, red welts.
But monkeys do not have that problem.

Sometimes I'm a decent guy.

The monkeys think so.

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There are no pets here. Which I regret, because when I was small we had numerous animals. The dogs, of course -- and I am sorry I wasn't kinder to Ladybird, who really was a very loving hound -- the guinea pig (small, black, ate a lot), and cats. The cats were there because we fed them and gave them warmth. Dogs have blind loyalty, but cats are practical realists. Which is a very likable characteristic.

The reason there are no cats here is because it stipulates so on the rental agreement. An exception was made for the old lady who already had one, and when she passed away our landlords adopted her cat, which has now also gone on to better things.

I am quite fond of cats. They are so understandable. Whereas a dog is very much like a cheerful and pleasant idiot. It's not that you never know what's going on in his head, you know it's simple and rather dull.
Me woof. How bone? Hump leg!
Sniff rear ends now.

If dogs have any complex thoughts at all, it is to pity us because we do not have wet noses and can't appreciate their smelly things. How sad!
Then they'll slobber to show sympathy.

A cat, however, has investigative curiosity, cynicism, and a psychopathic box thing of monumental proportions going on. Still no ability to formulate any thoughts using correct grammar and complete sentences, but there is something there.

Plus they like comfortable laps. Or shoulders.

The human dwelling is like a giant box enclosing multiple other box-like things of various dimensions, some more boxxy than others, and a number which are only semiboxes or incomplete boxes. There is food, a place to pee, and there is warmth. Things to push off surfaces, other things to unravel or vanquish. Plus fingers and toes which must be bitten.
The resident bipeds are quite eccentric.
And they can open cans.
Round boxes.

It tastes like toes in here.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017


This blog has over the years been a showcase of shifting interpretations of reality, often coloured more by my bloodsugar level and caffeine than any objective observation. Sometimes it's an exercise in non-linear thinking.
My visitors may not always realize that this is so.
Or they might embrace exactly that.

Underneath the essay "America's little meatballs", a reader recently posted something prompted by what he (or she) had seen there.
I had suggested that sensible women did not have the usual signs marking them as special creative individuals, and might actually be unobtrusive as regards their unique individuality.

What I wrote was "Best stick with the statistician who secretly reads Gothic novels set in Victorian era girls reformatories, and collects British cook books. At least she looks and acts like a lady, always, and speaks in polysyllabic words of which she knows the meaning.
Yes, the one with delicious handwriting.

Gag me! said…

Unpierced small-breasted statisticians?

Now there's a demographic!

Indeed, he (or she) is right. Unpierced small-breasted statisticians are indeed a demographic, and a most appealing one at that. But I do not recall mentioning the bosoms of that type. About which I cannot speculate. The only bosoms I mentioned, as an entirely imaginary verity, belonged to the hypothetical person whom I named 'Madeline Moo-cow, who is tongue-tied and instead flooples her tits in a meaningful way. She is an erstwhile high-school cheerleader.

Another equally non-existent female was Sunchild Moonkarma, who is a vegan and avoids gluten. But her breasts were not even described!

How brilliant of Gag me! to complete the trio of fantastic women by adding details to the hypothetical statistician who reads gothic novels.

Of course she is small-breasted. She has to be! It compliments the bigly boobed ex-cheerleader on the one hand, and suggests quite logically that miss Sunchild is a slack-bottomed pasty new-age type. Probably follows the Grateful Dead around the country, and smokes organic weed.

On the other hand ...

The narrative logic that links intellect to physical attributes is a bit peculiar.
It is quite possible that the brilliant statistician is an ex-cheerleader, and a practicing vegan. As well as frightfully big-boned to boot.
With huge tattooed pert breasts.

That is a disturbing possibility about which I do not wish to think.

Tattoos are very silly.

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And then the dicks showed up. That is what I got out of it. Private detective solves crime, the police come in and get the credit. The co-eds are safe. Early forties, black and white. Clipped speech, except for the lady from Texas, who was a dingbat with one of those squeaky hysteric drawls.

Creepy little children.

I would have paid better attention, and found out what was going on, but my apartment mate had chosen the film -- she uses the television much more than myself, you see -- and I was too busy abusing a piece of wood (rusticating a pipe) to really be interested.

In all honesty, I haven't really watched many movies during the past several years, a decade or more. Nor has any one else. All of the movie theatres within walking distance have closed, and judging by the changes in the neighborhood, people now go out to build muscle at gyms instead.
There are gyms all over the place now.
Sweat, baby, sweat.

Solitary recreational exercise; how peculiar.

Not that such things have to be a family adventure, but two can do that much better than one, and the showers afterward are fantastic.

The modern era may have made us peculiar; we no longer do things together, either as couples or as groups, except, perhaps, going to the lowest common denominator drinking hole for birthday celebrations.

I have seen enough of those to know it happens, but none of my friends and acquaintances has drunken birthdays, and I do not either.

My birthday was slightly over a month ago.
It was sober, and filled with duck.
And cake, and chocolate.

I really don't feel older. But I am, and the world has changed too.
Before computers and blogging, there were movies.
Things were more black and white.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2017


The news in the past few weeks has been full of people groping girls. Hollywood, the Republican Party, Democrats, and elderly statesmen.
I feel left out. I never groped anyone till I returned to the United States, and the other people involved were consenting adults. And there has not been nearly enough of that.

My approach to the opposite gender has always been somewhat clumsy and formal. More along the lines of "hello, miss, would you under the proper circumstances consider committing behaviour which your parents should not hear about?" Assuming, of course, that the likable female person to whom I am speaking is sane, emotionally balanced, reasonably sober at that time and all times, has no prior relationships or engagements that could confuse the issues, and is not averse to a bit of sweat.

It puts a cramp on one's style, I know, but one that I am not uncomfortable with. Casual random groping of strangers seems so ... animalistic.
Not in a good way.

Like any vibrant man I like adventure, provided it is stable, sane, rationally considered, and not likely to provide embarrassing sound bytes.

Sex starts with caffeinated beverages and acceptance of the other person's minor peculiarities. After that, passion may ensue.

"Hello, miss, would you under the proper circumstances consider committing behaviour which your parents should not hear about?"

I have never groped a fourteen year old girl. Not even when I was fourteen.
At that age I was still sort of figuring out how to get within ten feet.

When my father went on a trip to London for two weeks with Marianne, leaving me in charge of the house, and my brother not planning to return from Tilburg for several more weeks, I had a riotous time. Plenty of money for expenses, only two things to do, and complete freedom. "Make sure there's coffee and toilet paper when I get back, and don't burn the place down." Well okely dokely, I can do that. Promptly bought a few extra tins of fine English pipe tobacco and two pounds of coffee. Had fresh mushrooms with every meal. Smoked up a storm (Balkan Sobranie Smoking Mixture, mmmm, dark sooty Latakia!), spent ten days high as a kite on strong warm beverages ..... Didn't discover till the afternoon of his return that the liquor cabinet was unlocked, which I was sure was just an oversight.

I was seventeen at the time.

It wasn't till one day when I was in my early thirties that I suddenly realized what he presumed I would have the good sense to do, and what a splendid opportunity it indeed would have been, if I had actually known someone of the opposite gender well enough at that time to say: "hello, miss, would you under the proper circumstances consider committing behaviour which your parents should not hear about?"


At present, I am a middle-aged coot, with two long-term relationships, one marriage (brief, unremarkable, and terminated amicably), and a fairly short-term thing several years ago involving a person who had lovely breasts, behind me. And single, unresolutely but never the less completely so, for the past several years.

I have never actually said "hello, miss, would you under the proper circumstances consider committing behaviour which your parents should not hear about" to anyone.

In case you were wondering.

But perhaps I should.

An experiment.

I have always been intellectually curious.

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The metabolism of adults is slower than that of children. Which may be why last night's dinner is still with me. French apple pie and Dutch cheese, both made locally. The French apple pie was truly excellent, as was the California Gouda.

As every John Cleese fan knows, there is something magical about cheese.

I went back to the kitchen to slice some more off the hunk four times.

The apple pie was also hugely good.

I am replaying my youth.

See, I started on the cheese so that my apple pie depredations would not shock my apartment mate, then I switched from cheese to mooncake for the same reason. Moderation in three areas.

It was very good mooncake.

Not all gone.

Me pig.

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Monday, November 13, 2017


At what point does a dish become part of a national cuisine? The question is somewhat important, because among other things quiche is such a California thing -- and totally wonderful, by the way, we make the very best quiches here, they're terrific, except for broccoli, which only health freaks, mean people, and baboons should eat -- as is sushi, but both of them are different in their countries of origin. The last time I ate Quiche Lorraine it was made by a German American with an English name.
He's forgiven the French for being assholes.
His quiche was delicious.

Recently I mentioned that I thoroughly enjoyed fixing pork curry noodles for dinner. Which I thought was unique to a small area of San Francisco (my apartment), but apparently it's totally derivative. Even the chilipaste is derivative. Because Indians invented curry, and no one else did.

Okayyyyy ......

Chilies have long gone native in India, but they are originally from Central America. Cloves and nutmeg came from the Moluccas, which we Dutch conquered specifically so that we could establish a monopoly; they're ours. Black pepper was planted all over north-central Sumatra during the colonial period. Garlic grows nearly all over the world, ginger and galangal have been used by white people since Roman times, cumin and coriander seed both have Mediterranean origins, and most good Indians wouldn't touch pork with a ten-foot barge pole because that's something only untouchables eat.
Noodles, especially of the kind that I use, are Chinese.
Fermented dried fish is all of East Asia.
Lemon grass, galangal?

The standard "curry powder" commercially sold in the white folks aisle has a composition that more closely resembles something Malay or Sumatran-coastal in origin, and outside of India as many people eat "curry" as in its alleged native land. The English, by the way, understand something else under the rubric "curry" than the rest of the world. Balti? What the heck is that? Madras beef curry? Chicken vindaloo? Spam in coconut milk?

Husseini kabab? Not curry! But very "curry house".

The person who told me that my dinner was, more or less, an imperialist construct, was white. And he was upset that I committed such blatant cultural appropriation. It sucked, man, really sucked. Horrible!

He was drinking coffee when he said all this.

Bami goreng (fried meaty noodles) are practically Indonesia's national dish, a side of saté (grilled skewered meat with peanut sauce) goes great with it.
Noodles were introduced to Indonesia by the Chinese, saté is derived from a Middle Eastern model, and peanut sauce, though entirely native to the Indonesian brain, would be impossible without the African goober.
Both bami and saté are also very much Dutch.
And did I mention chilies?

Apropos of nothing, groundnut chop is totally East-African, despite its close resemblance to Indonesian preparations, Trinidadian chicken rotis are just as "Indian" as Indiana Jones, and Jamaican goat curry would probably either frighten or appall Hindus and Musulmanis alike.
It is absolutely and totally delicious.
Great with bottled beer.

Moronic white folks from Marin should be kept from opening their mouths. Because they don't know jack, and are likely to say stupid things.
They don't need coffee either.

Pork curry noodles are part of my native cuisine.
They represent my cultural heritage.
No debate allowed.

Damned anti-Dutch dingleberries.

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It has been rather enjoyable experiencing the local team's string of defeats vicariously, because as a complete Aspy sombitch, I really don't care. But the passionate despair and briefly flickering exultation -- followed by even more despair, agony, and gloom -- of the fans fills me with glee.
"Bugger all sport", I might say, "tis folly!"

Actually, I calmly refer to them as "the room filled with screaming yutzes", and holler at them to shut up back there, occasionally, when their passion gets too loud, but I usually ignore them. And the screen which upsets them. My knowledge of, and interest in, sports of any kind is neatly expressed in the poem 'Vitaï Lampada'. Which argues that the sportsmanship inculcated in English public schoolboys by playing cricket sustained them later in life when building the empire and killing savages.
Or being killed by them.
Good stuff.

There's a breathless hush in the Close tonight,
Ten to make and the match to win;
A bumping pitch and a blinding light,
An hour to play and the last man in.

And it's not for the sake of a ribboned coat,
Or the selfish hope of a season's fame;
But his captain's hand on his shoulder smote,
"Play up! play up! and play the game!"

The sand of the desert is sodden red,
Red with the wreck of a square that broke;
The Gatling's jammed and the Colonel dead,
And the regiment blind with dust and smoke.

The river of death has brimmed its banks,
And England's far, and honour a name;
But the voice of a schoolboy rallies the ranks,
"Play up! play up! and play the game!"

This is the word that year by year,
While in her place the school is set;
Every one of her sons must hear,
And none that hears it dare forget.

This they all with a joyful mind,
Bear through life like a torch in flame;
And falling, fling to the host behind,
"Play up! play up! and play the game!"

-----Henry Newbolt, famous British historian and educator.

Oh my how jolly stirring, what. Inspiring. Cricket!

Now go massacre those savages.

Baseball and American football have no such uplifting baggage. All you can learn from those games is how to sing the National Anthem, and that Gator Ade builds strong young bodies and goes well with cookies late at night.

I seldom drink beer. Never during the day.
Most Americans are alcoholics.
Addicted to pizza.

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Sunday, November 12, 2017


On the way to the bus this morning I passed a man with no arms having a foul-mouthed fit about people, and swinging his purchases wildly with his prosthetics. Understandable. When he lost his arms he may have gained anger issues. Most people would.
No, I didn't stop to inquire, or to hug and tell him "you are loved".
I am not that human.

I'm sorry, someone else will have to inform him of that. Preferably soon.

Coffee is not always the best policy.

Polk Street at many times presents an educational spectrum of human types. Last night there was a line of sugar-zombies outside the donut place, and half a block away from that, a line of hip alcoholics waiting to get into a club. Plus a dancing nude. A few feet away from the Mexican gentleman grilling bacon-wrapped hot dogs, a young couple were making out.
As I passed I heard her gasp and breathily exclaim "the smell of meat always makes me so hot!"

I almost never have that reaction.
Meat, you too are loved.

Early in the morning, Polk Street is quieter, emptier. Not saner, but more peaceful. This is San Francisco. We are good at ignoring angry people.

Although bacon-wrapped dogs always get our attention.
There is something zesty and exciting there.
An almost sexual sizzle.


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The best way to start the day is with a jolt of lightening. Strong caffeinated beverages, and tastes that conquer sleepy buds. The buds need a kick, they aren't really awake yet. Normally I eschew breakfast. But, you see, there was some fatty pork product winking at me. As well as left-over udon.


The black pepper chicken stir-fried crow winter face ('haak chiu gai chaau wu dung min'). Which was okay when I ordered it, but became excellent fried with pork, curry paste, and chili peppers, for breakfast!

Breakfast is a flexible concept. Normally I do not eat anything early in the morning, preferring instead to glower at the world with a jaundiced eye, blearily wobbling my jowls and harrumphing, before retiring to the wash-room with my cup of coffee and some cigarillos.

I think my father managed that with considerably more grace, probably because of the war and his training as a pilot. Grumbling and drag-assing are not appreciated when one must bomb Jerry right now.

He maintained an equitable and calm temperament from the start of day till late at night, no matter a fluctuating caffeine and blood-sugar level.

But I am not him. Don't bug me till after my bath.
Even then don't; it takes a while.

I do not know what the old man would have made of these noodles. "Son", he might have said, "why are you snarfing Italian food at the very crack of dawn?" These aren't Italian, they are Japanese - Hong Kong Chinese - Viet and Thai dinner grub. Ce repas est très moderne!

"Boy, you are a little weird. How is it?"

They are good. Exceedingly good.

"Fine. Bomb someone."


Udon is written in kanji as 饂飩 ('wan tan'), but this makes no sense in Chinese, hence the Cantonese nomen 炒烏 ('wu-tung'; "crow" "winter"), which makes scarcely any more. Pasta is often written as 面 ('min'; face) which has the same pronunciation and phonetic element as 麵 ('min'; wheat noodle). Udon are thick wheat flour strands that rather look like spaghetti but are softer and easier to cook, taking far less time than the Italian product, and can be stir-fried with all manner of things.

Tanuki udon has not made into Chinese yet.
Garnished with tempura fragments.
Cucumber and sliced egg.
Plus chives.

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Saturday, November 11, 2017


A long in-depth discussion recently delved into the irrepressible anger of the authoress of Hothead Paisan ("Homicidal Lesbian Terrorist"), which was a seminal literary work of the post-Reagan age, and the keenly illustrated details of the scrote of Fat Freddy's Cat, that being a comic strip character whom I discovered while seeing the huggable Berkeley gunfreak several years ago. She was shorter than me, sweet, and tightly strung.
I am glad I didn't get my head blown off.

In addition to an obsession with kitty scrote, the artist who drew that also often showed too much attention to the feline defecatory zone. The curious and intellectually honest person reads a vast spectrum of things, some of which, upon mature reflection, are questionable.

Reading is a gift. It prepares you for dealing with the superficialist dingbats who don't read. Which is a valuable life-skill.

This is a cat.

A feline strutting high-assedly away flaunting his testicles is a metaphor for many things, but, in a sense, this is me leaving the karaoke bar around the corner from my house recently, after being there for two hours, without a single conversation happening. Going there hoping for social interaction was insane, of course. Even though there were over a dozen people there whom I knew. Who the heck goes to a place where people are screaming their heads off to the melodies of rap-artists and country western dreck for talkies?!? Or ANY civilized interpersonal connection at all?

Besides, I am "too old, too white, and too straight".
Among other middle-aged personality flaws.

There are two karaoke bars in my life. One of them has grown-up Chinese, mostly men, politely ignoring the stupid young white people squawling for attention -- conversation IS possible there, even though two of the most memorable discussions recently were about the derivation of certain pipe tobaccos, and the word in Cantonese for "cherry wood", as in cherry wood walking stick -- and the other has immature people playing air-guitar and acting out their fantasies of musical adequacy and star-dom.
Conversation is NOT possible there.

[車厘木拐杖 ('che-lei muk gwaai jeung') or 櫻桃木棍 ('ying-tou muk-gwan'). For beating heads.]

The first place leaves me happy, even though I dump half of the whiskey on the ground when no one is watching. The second boîte on busy evenings leaves me frustrated and depressed. What with being too old, too white, and too straight, and not musically inclined.

[Dumping half of the whiskey: the proprietress has the habit of trying to get the bookseller and me drunk, as well as encouraging us to stay after the other white people have left (been kicked out). The grown-up Chinese also stay past that time, and more whiskey is pressed upon us. I do not like waking up the next morning with a stomach that feels like a war zone, dull in the head, throbbing, and nauseous. So rather than rudely declining, I politely acquiesce after much persuasion, and then discreetly tip the excess onto the floor.]

Logically, I can expect conversations during the evening when we end up at the Chinese place. Sometimes they are peculiar. At the dive around the corner I should not expect conversations, and if they do happen it will involve inanity and a narrow focus.

I do not sing. If I sing, even the non-smokers go out for a cigarette.


Potential subjects for discussion: cheese, cat's arses, pipe tobacco, the president, food, other languages, life in the tropics, various authors popular during the twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, and sixties, printing technology, cartoon cats, designer purses, more cheese, why my apartment mate is sleeping in her room right now, fromage, pert nipples of any hue between rosy pink and dusky rose, bacon and melted cheese, dogs, the proper format for dictionary entries, noodle dishes, pavement, how to choose a briar (age, grain, weight, and stain), the heritage of colonial enterprise as reflected by business enterprises (coffee, tea, tobacco, and quinine), why religion is dangerous, or why we should still burn heretics, the wine cup of the navel and other enchanting phrases from the book of songs, sheep, cheddar, crazy manga heroines, and cerulean blue.
Plus Dunhill cigarette lighters.

All of these being subjects that were brought up recently at work.

My worst nightmare is that "Little White Nipple Dude" is going to show up at either the two drinking holes, or any of the several Chinese restaurants and bakeries I frequent. The idea of listening to him droning on about fancy lighters while I drink a hot cup of milk tea or try to eat is frightening, positively dreadful.

I do not wish to talk about little white nipples.
Been there, done that.

Psoriasis. The German cabinet.
French cheeses.

This is not a cat.

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Friday, November 10, 2017


It's a bit early, but I am already starting to resent other people's holiday celebrations. In particular the bird-thing coming up in a couple of weeks. The recounting of the splendours of the holiday feast, surrounded by friends and family, by the happy clams for two or three weeks following the event, fills me with dread. "Oh we had such a wonderful time", they will say, "there was turkey and pumpkin pie (with Cool Whip on top) and Grand Marnier and stuffing and gravy and beaten biscuits and corn and cornichons and potato salad and and ham and New England clam chowder and cranberry sauce and cranberry shortbread and cranberry brickle ice cream with orange-cranberry liqueur and cranberry cream cake and succotash and mashed potatoes and peach brown Bettie and Suzanne's famous cranberry truffle quiche and cookies and pastries and string beans with almond slivers and French onion and cream of mushroom casserole and oysters and Pappy Van Winkle hooch and Perdomo cigars and Peet's coffee and crème brûlée and taffy and turkey chow mein and Stilton cheese and wild boar pâté and some kind of Texas chili dish with cheese melted on top and Sriracha apple sauce mousse and lobster and garlic shrimp and a chocolate cake and festive cheese ball and tofurky with all the trimmings .... "

And then they will smile priggishly.

I will have spent the day burrowing into a pile of rotting fall leaves looking for grubs. Or something very similar.

I have no intention of going to the cigar bar that day, because the last three times the other patrons were smirking over their exquisite epicurean warm family hearth eat too much get stuffed events.

Instead, I am already figuring out which chachanteng in Chinatown will be open, so that I can have baked Portuguese chicken rice and a hot cup of Hong Kong milk tea. Or maybe pork meatball congee and a fried dough stick. Because, as the bum with the infected foot so eloquently put it, "you furriners don't celebrate, do you".

Born here. Spent most of my life here.
Still so "foreign" you could spit.
We don't celebrate.

Being pissed off at turkey snarfing neurotypicals, normals, and suburbanites is maybe a bit premature so early in the game. Enjoy your traditional warm family thing, all you socially acceptable types!

My apartment mate will have two thurkey-sivings. One with her kinfolk, one with her boyfriend. I'll try to stay invisible both days.

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Thursday, November 09, 2017


Pursuant something from a few years ago, it's probably glaringly obvious that I am not cute and huggable and only slightly cynical. And this is borne out by the complete absence of bright young things seeking my company, other than the young Filipino homosexual who recently called me "daddy", and hoped we could go somewhere after bar closing time.
To which kind offer I presented a deaf ear.
He was entirely askew in his intoxicated inspiration, and barking up the wrong tree. Even if he had been a woman, it would not have resulted in linkage of any kind. Sensible men do not pick up women in bars.
Or other men.

Still, that was the first time in a while that someone has looked at me in a misguided way, and I suppose I should be flattered.
He may have been myopic.

I do not feel cute and huggable, and I am hugely a cynic.

After finishing my dinner (curried chicken, potatoes, bacon, and rice), I shall head out for a nightcap. I do not expect any unseemly advances.

You should understand that I reserve daytime venues for being unseemly and advanced upon, though that, alas, does not happen. Or if it does my density prevents me from being aware of it. Also, the places where I can be found when not at work during the day are probably not optimum for that either, usually being small eateries in Chinatown where I sip milk tea and dream before the food comes, or alleyways in the same neighborhood where I smoke a pipe after the food that came has been consumed.

If something cannot be done during the sober light of day, it certainly will not do at night and after cocktails.

I like to keep the lights on too.

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In a country where the dominant cooking smell is of burning fat and boiling starch, a Kentish landlord feels justified in deliberately not renting his apartments to Indians and Pakistanis because of a curry odour.
Which is remarkable, because until the British went massively for vindaloo and chicken tikka masala, English food was, in a word, revolting.
The famous British breakfast is a sterling example.
It's all fried, even the sliced tomato.
Possibly excepting tea.

Like everybody who speaks English, drinks tea, and smokes a pipe, this writer also enjoys a good old-fashioned fry-up to start the day. But only as an intellectual exercise. British food normally makes me ill, and the very last time I had a British breakfast I suffered dyspepsia for several days.

Fish and chips are another good example.
Massive acid for several hours.
No more, I'll talk!
Make it stop!

Landlord's 'curry smell' letting ban unlawful

From the BBC:

"Speaking to BBC Asian Network earlier this year, Mr Wilson said a property he had bought from an Indian couple cost him about £12,000 because the curry smell became a "massive problem"."

"It gets into the carpets, it gets into the walls. You'll find that most landlords think the same."

Source: Fergus Wilson

The best food in Blighty is 'curry'.

My ex-girlfriend, who is Cantonese and consequently has the digestion of a horse, just loved British food, proving that she has a sense of humour, but even she found the cress and cucumber sandwiches boring and the Spam fritter atrocious. The fist nibble of that fried item was wonderful, by the third, gastric distress, depression, and despair filled the eater.
Between the two of us we could not finish it.

[She has a massive English thing going on, having grown up reading murder mysteries, Brideshead Revisited, and all of the Jane Austen books.
Seriously, she really loved the place.]

One can well understand why the Brits erupted forth and conquered the world, like the Goths and Vikings before them. They were desperate to get away from their own food. Grease and frozen peas.

An urge to eat brought them to the Indies, the largest supply of laxatives in the world took them to China.

[China was the world's premier source of rhubarb at the time, which apothecaries in London prescribed in truly massive doses.
Poo, you poor buggering sods, poo!]

It should be mentioned that both strong tea and marmalade have beneficial effects on the guts. As do tomatoes and chilies.

Without the Chinese and Subcontinentals there would be nothing to eat in Britain. Well, other than the frightful Graeco-muck served in many lunch places in the capital, where office drudges stuff themselves on something masquerading as mutton, drenched in tzatziki, and minced lettuce.

There is a reason why the British won the war.
Sheer intestinal fortitude.

[File under 'rancid animal fat']

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Wednesday, November 08, 2017


Young adults in San Francisco would not be caught dead where the unhip dine. Even by themselves, with no one around who could betray them to their with-it equals. Because omg, one has be with it. Rather than unhip.
And, in consequence, the poor dears miss out on some fine pork chops. They'll never enjoy life, and they'll pay too much for their food in the places that their equals find fashionable.


Two porkchops, with plenty sliced tomato dumped into the pan, then slopped onto a plate with a heap of rice alongside, served steaming.
A roll, pat of butter, and a bowl of good honest soup to start with.
It was delicious.
While I ate a table of middle aged gentlemen argued about San Francisco, Hong Kong, and Guangzhou. They were loud, they were animated, they were high as kites on coffee and pastries.

Various mommies came in with their little ones for an essential snackie-poo, and left with little bags. Kids under ten, mothers twixt early twenties and mid-thirties, old-timers between forty five and a hundred years old.

An elderly auntied had dumplings in soup with noodles.
The owner lit some joss for Kwan Gung.
A customer bought buns.
Plus dau fu faa.

What do young San Francisco office types do after leaving work?
Perhaps they have cocktails at fashionable holes?
Porkchops, feh, too pedestrian!

I suppose I shouldn't mention the hot cup of milk tea.
That, too, is not a very hip thing.

Man, I don't know about you folks. Twenty to thirty dollars on mojitos and loud music, and not a single porkchop among the lot of you till late at night, if at all. And then only if it's called "côtelette de porc au riz Chinoise avec une sauce tomate raffinée" or "cotoletta di maiale alla tomate sur riso e verdure Asiatiche" and costs forty five dollars a plate.

Heck, plain old chicken curry over is only edible if you call it "straccetti di pollo al curry con riso", perhaps with "salsa di peperoncine estremamente piccante nello stile di Sri Racha distretto" on the side.

Including tip, less than twenty bucks.
And I left happy as a clam.

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Last night I promised an innocent young person that I would introduce him to durian, which he thinks can't be that way. Specifically, I shall bring it by his place of work before closing, to chase out the last drunken customers.
Why do I like durian? Because I have a mean streak, that's why.
A fruit with a nasty attitude has to be appreciated.
Potent, precise, and unbeatable.

The first durian event I engineered was at a restaurant which no longer exists, where I was well known. They found it interesting and educational, and soon asked me and my horrid fruit to leave. So I did, and headed over to an Indonesian place to share it with the boss and his cook. They were happy to see the stuff, two customers on the mezzanine hurriedly paid and left, and his gorgeous teenage daughter said she would wait for him in the car parked in the lot. She was American-born, you understand.
Tender sensitivities.

Second time was at a burger place. Mister Naguib up at the front worriedly speculated that the Vietnamese place next door had had a nasty accident with sewage. Horrid, horrid, horrid. Louisiana Tony walked smack into the wall of durian reek, turned, and staggered off into the night, overwhelmed, and baffled by what had just happened.

Third time, at the computer company. The facilities manager came running over from two buildings away, convinced that there was a gas leak in the kitchen, we were all going to die. It wasn't until he got there that he remembered that the kitchen was totally electric, no gas.

Durian is subtle and overwhelming. I explain to people that it isn't a bad smell, but that there is unbelievably much of it. This rational and illuminative statement is met with disbelief. My ex insisted that I was an evil son-of-a-bitch who kept a dead space alien in the fridge, and barred the door.

Americans, mostly, want to get away from durian.
It is a robust and uncouth fruit.
Kind of like a sailor.

As Hunter S. Thompson explains in Fear and Loathing: "hier können wir nicht anhalten, das ist Fledermausland!" The movie was in German.
I cannot remember why I first saw it in German. Everything in it sounds better in German. We can't stop here, this is bat country.

"Hier können wir nicht anhalten, das ist Fledermausland!"

The innocent young person mentioned above works in the hospitality industry. He and his customers need to be educated. If a durian can be found by next Tuesday, I shall bring it down to his restaurant.
Because I am good in that regard.
I care.

The problem inevitably will be that there will be fruit left over. Which I will not want to take home, nor consume all by myself. When I ate durian for breakfast in the Philippines, it started sweating out through my pores and fastidious people kept their distance from me, further and further as the day progressed, a widening circle of disturbed repulsion. They could have called in a missile strike: "he's an easy target, lone white dude with no one nearby, do it now!"

No amount of Old Spice armpit smear-stick will cope with that. So I'll seek friends afterwards, to lovingly press all of the rest upon.
Here, Duong and Minh, for you. Enjoy!
A present from bat country.

In all honesty, I don't really like durian.
But I like what it does to people.

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Tuesday, November 07, 2017


Over six years ago I wrote an essay entitled "The Ideal Woman", which has been viewed rather a lot. Not as much as my screed about Clan pipe tobacco, or especially the encyclopedic listing of dimsum items with their names in Chinese and pronunciation, which is still the all-time most read post on this site (*), but it's still pretty darn popular.


Like any such article written by a man, especially a bachelor, it presents a very slanted view of things. At that time I said: "The ideal woman likes cuddle-dozing, bathing, humpies, history, and dictionaries."

Which is not insane, but I could just as well have said that the ideal woman is like dimsum, compact and juicy. Or that she likes Hello Kitty as an ironic statement expressing her disdain for the superficialistic search for meaningful inoffensiveness in a harsh impersonal world.

[Full disclosure: I like dimsum very much, and I have a few Hello Kitty items because a middle-aged man with a Hello Kitty backpack for his pipes and tobacco expresses an ironic disdain for the meaningful inoffensiveness that permeates much of society. Okay?]

There is no objective definition of the ideal woman.
It is, necessarily, always entirely subjective.
And frequently queer.

From my standpoint, the ideal woman is not nearly as old as I am, lives nearby, has graduated from college, is possessed of a strong sense of right and wrong (albeit leavened with considerable tolerance and commonsense), has a great sense of humour, loves dimsum, and wears spectacles.

An ability to interact with stuffed animals is essential.

The ideal woman also has no bad habits. In which we understand that moderation is a key concept, so smoking and drinking are perfectly alright provided they don't extend to the point of regret. Huffing a pack a day and swilling enough to be sick are right out, tattoos are too, and any form of illicit substance use is seen as a negative.

This definition is entirely subjective and self-reflective. I smoke a pipe, occassionally have a drink, have never gotten a tattoo, and eschew illegal substances entirely, considering people who indulge in such things to be unstable, unreliable, potentially criminal, and weak in the head.


She will like cuddle-dozing, bathing, humpies, history, and dictionaries. She is rather like dimsum(!), and while she may not actually be into Hello Kitty, she appreciates the snarky gestalt. She lives to the east of the Fillmore, north of Market Street. She is ethical, witty, culinarily open-minded.
Has no tattoos. And doesn't do drugs.

The ideal woman is intelligent, kind, and stubborn.

And is okay with pipe tobacco.

If I had been born a woman, I don't know if I could be all of those things; it seems rather a lot, doesn't it? But I think I should like dimsum, and possibly be okay with pipe tobacco.

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As befits my ethnic heritage, I intend to eat like a severe Protestant today.
Nothing but good healthy stuff. Yesterday I ate like a dissipated Catholic, meaning self-indulgent, all sinful items with next to no actual nutritive value whatsoever. Good heavens, almost like a spoiled Indian kid.
Meats and sweets, bilkul no sabzi.
I'll end up ek mota admi.
Bahut jigglywala.

Barbecue pork rib sandwich (sándwich de costilla de cerdo barbacoa), with very extrovert sploodges of Srirach hot sauce and a bag of chips.
It was delicious!
Three penguins.

On my weekends I tend to eat better. Recognizable vegetable material.

Chinatown today for a late lunch. I am torn between Baked Portuguese Chicken Rice (焗葡國雞飯 'guk pou gwok gai faan'), Tomato Porkchop and Rice (鮮茄焗豬扒飯 'sin ke guk chü paa faan', OR 蕃茄豬扒飯 'faan ke chyu baa faan'), or cheap eaties on Stockton Street (三餸一湯 'saam song yat tong': three dishes and a soup, plus rice).

See, at work my options are limited to Seven Eleven, just chockfull of salty fatty meaty plus sweet baked crispy crunchy creamy soft and gooey, but no bittermelon fish, sarson da saag, spinach turnovers, or other yummy things of vegetable origin. Yeah, carrots and celery in a little package, and mixed wilted oddments called "salad", but "yummy" is not the applicable term. No wonder the Punjabis who work there look so peaked, positively pale and sickly, there's just unhealthy convenience, zero nutrition.
Just beyond Seven Eleven is McDonalds.
Ten minutes away is In-N-Out.

Sriracha is a vegetable.
McDonalds isn't.

You know, those weird containers of carrots and celery are probably good if you stir-fry them with bacon and black-bean sauce, and serve with rice.

There is no wok at work.
Nor a stove.

My weekend starts Monday evening and continues till late Wednesday, in case you were wondering. The rest of the week I am neither available nor entirely compos mentis.

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Monday, November 06, 2017


In the coming year, marijuana for recreational use will become a reality in California, and even if you hate weed and think it rots brains, this is good news. Business will boom. No, not the buying and selling of products containing tetrahydrocannabinol per se, but peripheral enterprise.

Stuff containing chocolate, sugar, bacon, cheddar, and salt.

In whatever solid form. Especially crunchy.

Or frozen: bacocheez icecream.

We are heading into a bold new era of supersized vague souls wandering city streets looking for bright colourful signs with words such as "mmm, sweet!" or "crunch babies". The insane preoccupation with gluten-free non-gmo will be over. Within mere months, snackfood emporia will take over macrobiotic spaces, as dreamy whales wander around convinced that yet another bag of purple-coloured snarfies will solve problems, and cause peace in the universe. It's purple, man! The universe!

The day of twenty four hour fastfood on every street is at hand!

I cannot tell you how often I have wished that there were branches of Taco Bell, Burger King, and KFC within two blocks of my apartment at four in the morning. And now, thanks to a vast army of happy mumbling behemoths and their mobility scooters, that will finally happen!

Personally I do not care for marijuana, thoroughly dislike its effects, and think all who consume it to be shitferbrained losers as well as insufferable dicks, but hey, new jobs, opium for the masses, and all that.
Capitalism at its finest.

The medical field will have a field day with all the people eating themselves into heart attacks. And extra-large coffins are a market we haven't even explored, as well as stronger bed frames, personal mobility by Caterpillar or Komatsu, an ever-expanding digestive medications aisle at Walgreens, stretch clothing, lower abdominal fatty deposit support devices, fat fold odour control, and energy pills for the sweaty and exhausted.

All these bright new opportunities!

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This blogger is aghast at suburban females. In the past few days I have seen women wearing yoga pants with high-heels, tattooed matrons, ratchetts on the bus (Golden Gate Transit), and office bitch types with cups of coffee and cell-phones heading onto the freeway. Look ma, no hands!
I am certain some of these people are medicated.
Or subsisting on a diet of Jager-bombs.
Probably Xanax and Librium.
Booze, caffeine.

Considering what suburban males are like, this would be understandable, if only both of them weren't such mega-entitled self-centered jerks.
Keep the suburbs chemically calmed.
Drugs. They need drugs.
And Mary-J.

The reason for mentioning yoga pants and high heels is because that it is a particularly horrid combo. As regards specifying females, as a heterosexual male I am damned glad I am not connected to any of these ladies.

I am single.

And consequently, I get to eat gluten and meat, and not save the wales.
Oh, and dairy products, and NOT go to theatrical events or interpretive dance performances, and I also get to do stupid things like snarfing down bacon-wrapped hotdogs with jalapeños en escabeche after midnight ...

I have gone the entire two months leading up to Halloween without having to taste pumpkin spice bugger-all, even once, and other than my apartment mate's misguided experiment recently with a pumpkin pie from Trader Joe's (maybe it's her period?), I do not expect to grimace my face into a smile over some artificially flavoured shit and say "mm, good, this is brilliant dear!" at any point between now and January first.

Women who like juicy grilled chops, vindaloo, or steamed pork patty with salt fish, are wonderful. But they don't live in the suburbs.

This "stylish" soirée ends with hot Portuguese sausage and green chili sauce at three in the morning. We will not wear any ethnic jewelry or Andean woolens. There is no marijuana. Care for a cheroot?

There is a parked Toyota Prius over there.
Somebody set the f**ker on fire.
I hear cheering.

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Sunday, November 05, 2017


Many social media sites ask pushy questions in an attempt to figure out their audience and sell the data to advertisers. Recently, memes have invited people to answer similar queries, and post their results.

Seeing as this blog is operating under a pseudonym, and many comments are advertising spam that gets deleted without ever being shown anyway, this is a perfect place to post my own personal data.
Good luck marketing to me.

I took a list from a friend's Facebook post, and added a few questions.

How old are you?
Fifty eight, and in all honesty I never really expected to reach this age, and thought I would be young forever. I am rather disappointed in reality, and determined to resist.
Single or taken?
Single, not pursuing anybody, and ambivalent about that.
Favourite colour?
Cerulean blue, burnt umber, plus sienna and ochre, the canary yellows of Cohiba cigar tubes and Erinmore flake tins from years ago, warm golden oranges, deep pinks with a touch of blue, and several different types of green such as can be found in forests in the temperate zones.
Want kids?
Well, sort of.
If so how many?
Can I get back to you on that?
Good lord no. Twitter is for idiots.
Dating site?
Everybody there is looking for someone with whom to hike the Amazon or slide down Annapurna. Do I look the type?
Zodiac sign?
Libra. Does anyone besides a complete idiot really believe that the zodiac signs mean bugger-all, other than dividing all of humanity AND the animal world into twelve groups? This is ridiculous, arbitrary, and beyond logic.
It is, furthermore, a dumb-ass new-age attempt to impose some kind of magical order, and see deep mystical meaning where there is none.
Don't tell me about your pets and their astrological signs.
Aquarian chihuahuas. Think about that.
Dippity cottonwool.
Last drink?
Hot, caffeinated, and bitter.
Makeup or not?
I do not.
Hello Kitty?
Emphatically yes. Did I ever mention my Hello Kitty Backpack, of a size suitable for several pipes, and tins of tobacco?
Cats or dogs?
I am fond of dogs, but I admire cats.
Evil or good?
Near daemonic, okay?
Favourite sport?
Watching paint dry.
Favourite food?
Varies, though at the moment it includes rice porridge, bacon, Italian sausages, bitter melon, baked Portuguese chicken rice, flaky charsiu turnovers, fried noodles, and goat curry. Because the last Halal butcher near me closed down I haven't cooked goat curry in a long time.
Maybe I should go get some goat.
Favourite animal?
Ducks. They can be quite delicious.
I am extremely normal.
Do you have haters?
Funny or nah?

Other details are that I live near the Chinatown - Northbeach part of the city, smoke a pipe, and use hot sauce often. And that there are many stuffed animals.

Feel free to create your own list of intrusive questions and post results in the comments. There are no wrong answers, only wrong people.

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One of the most influential people in my life has been a short bespectacled Chinese woman in Berkeley, who smoked a pipe (Drucquer's mixture 805), liked books, and had eclectic tastes in music and in movies.
She wrote a nasty letter years ago which I never answered.
We have since lost contact.

No, she was never "date material". Just a very good friend and a cherished colleague, and still in many ways an example to follow. As were her associates, who have also faded beyond radar range.

My tastes in books and pipes still reflect that, though as far as music and movies are concerned there has been no lasting effect, because I am rather unmusically inclined (tin ear the size of Texas), and I've watched films she would not countenance in a million years, being rather fond of gangster flicks, tearjerkers, and chopsocky.

I still have that letter, but I shall not respond. The misunderstanding that moved her to write it is not material anymore, that her opinion of me changed so staggeringly is no longer as oppressive.
And I have largely gotten over it.
A lot has changed.

She had a lovely pipe collection. I still have a number of her pieces which she traded me. Excellent smokes. Occasionally I light them up, but most briars I use nowadays were acquired since that time, and many of the markers of memory remain in boxes on my bookshelves.

As I mentioned, I do not know what happened to her since then.
But I hope she still has that Sasieni sandblast apple.
It was a lovely pipe, and gave her much joy.

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