Monthly Archives: November 2011

Tasha Yar

Oh, YEAH!  You're also a hologram.

"Death is that state in which one exists only in the memory of others. Which is why it is not an end. No goodbyes. Just good memories. Hailing frequencies closed, sir."

What is it about Tasha Yar?  She comes and she goes and she returns and leaves and saunters in and out of our lives over and over and she just gets away with it.

And we let her.  We just fucking let her do it!

It must be the kind of Love that only Hurt and Resentment can inspire.  It must be Great Expectations (greatly) lowered,  but not abandoned.  It must be Nostalgia gone Awry.

You know what happened, Tasha Yar?  We’ve built you up in our minds – your potential, your talents – and we just don’t have it in our hearts to tear you down.

You who eluded the rape gangs of Turkana IV.  You who saved a colonist by traversing a carnelian minefield and in so doing earned your position on the Enterprise D.  You who were your own daughter.

You know hardship, Tasha Yar.

You know Power.

You left us before we were ready to let you go.

But then, again, there wasn’t really a plan in place to get you any further than you did, was there?  Not a GOOD one, anyway.

Not comprehensive.

But why?

It is one thing to leave, but why did you leave after so much build-up, ONLY to be brought back to dance for us in the spotlight every now and then?

Sure, there was Worf.  But you established yourself well before he came into the picture, so why did he excel in your place?

Why were you pushed off to his side then sidelined altogether, in the end?


It’s not one, but the Other!


And if you’re not too careful, they’ll have you come back again.  As something barely else.

Run, Tasha! RUN.

This close, Tasha. THIS CLOSE.

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Filed under Politics


Friday night.  Toronto.  Pizza Pizza on the east end.  And I found them.

True words.

Hear, Here!

"Do be do be do..."


Truer words.

Yo momma so fat, when she goes to the movies she sits beside EVERYONE.


I love this city.


Filed under Words

Black and White Cookie

The thing about eating the Black and White cookie, Elaine, is you want to get some black and some white in each bite. Nothing mixes better than vanilla and chocolate. And yet somehow racial harmony eludes us. If people would only look to the cookie all our problems would be solved – Jerry Seinfeld, Seinfeld

Of all I ever learned, all I needed to learn can be found in the cookie.

Known to some as the “Half and Half Cookie,” others as the “Half Moon Cookie” and, perhaps, among your grandparents and others hopelessly mired in an actually not-so-distant past, the “Mulatto Cookie”, the Black and White Cookie stands out to me as the ultimate embodiment of all Things Great and Tragic.

It is a bittersweet, sweet.

A world of harmonized oppositions onto itself.




Because the only way to get black AND white in each bite of a Black and White Cookie is to eat it down the middle…to find subsistence through an ecstatic, crunching – indeed, VORACIOUS – destruction that ultimately, inevitably, irrevocably breaks the lovely union in two.

The reason we come together is they very thing that will, in the end, rip us apart.

Must the cookie really crumble so?

YES! And NO! 

These are Things I truly know.

If people would only look to the cookie all our problems would be solved.

Look to the Cookie, my friends.


"And yet somehow racial harmony eludes us".


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Nepal: How My Mom Saved My Trip Before It Began

And away is up. And away.

When up is away.

Stephen bid me farewell as I headed toward the gate at Toronto’s Pearson airport.  He was very supportive of my decision to buck work and responsibility for the beauty and grander of the Himalayas, but I detected a certain melancholy in his demeanor upon my departure.  He would miss me as I would miss him, but there was little we could do about that. So I did what I could at the time, which was text my friend, Dejan, to enlist his help in alleviating what I imagined was Stephen’s crippling emotional turmoil:

From Me to Dejan:

About to board the place.  One thought: can you take Stephen to Hooters or something to cheer him up? He’s a little down.  Also, tell him I was kidding about the Sherpas.  OR WAS I??? See y’all when I get back 🙂 03/15/11, 5:54PM.[1]

From Dejan to Me:

You’re rude.  But funny.  Have a good trip!!! 03/15/11, 5:55PM.[2]

To save a few dollars (actually a few hundred dollars), I booked a rather meandering and dawdling flight to Kathmandu.  It started with a 7 hour and 20 minute flight from Toronto to Brussels, plus a 2-hour layover.  Then it was a 7 hour 55 minute flight from Brussels to New Delhi, followed by a disorienting 9-hour layover at the ultra-chic New Delhi airport.  From there, it was a mere 1 hour and 35 minute flight to Shangri la itself, Kathmandu.

As I sat by Gate 171, legs thrust out confidently in front of me and hands folded jauntily at the belly, I began to muse about the adventure before me.  I thought about how fucking awesome I was, headed into the unknown, facing head-on the challenges that were sure to come my way, of the people I would meet and the places I would see and, of course, of all the amazing food I was sure to encounter…

MOMOS!  Those delicious steamed or lightly fried dumplings that come with a sweet n’ sour spicy red sauce perfect for dipping MOMOS. A traditional delicacy native to Tibet, Nepal, West Bengal and Other Places, I had had momos (WONDERFUL MOMOS!) during my last day in India – devoured them, actually, from a street-side cart where the vendor shook his head in bemusement at my insatiable gullet.  I gave him many rupees and he gave me many, many momos, and it was GLORIOUS.

But in Nepal…

…in Nepal, I had heard, there were momos of all shapes and sizes, of all robust plumpness and delightful bounce, all savory delicious in their own way.  More than that.  You could get them in the streets.  You could get them in the mountains. You could get them stuffed with yak cheese!


Yak cheese. How to explain? It's like if all the other cheeses got together and tried to be just a little bit better and fell just a little short of that, THAT would be yak cheese.

And I did.

As I daydreamed and fantasized and whetted my appetitive in grand anticipation of ADVENTURE, my immediate surroundings faded in and out of conscious thought.  One minute, I was expertly navigating my way across bamboo suspension bridges and prodding bravely on while others collapsed at my feet due to altitude sickness and weak characters.  Another moment, and my backpack was poking me sharply in the spine as I slumped in my chair.  I saw the awed faces of the folks back home as I regaled them with stories of momos (MOMOS!!!) and snow leopards and yaks, and irritably wrenched my eyes open to check the clock above the airport bathroom to see if the plane would be boarding soon.  Then I heard it.

My mother’s voice.

“Ngọc!  You sure you are at the right gate?  Are you SURE?  ALWAYS CHECK.  You need to check.  Check now…check now…NOW.”

It was more than mere coincidence.  My mom and I have travelled many Places together, and it is always at the airport – on arrival and departure – that we very nearly unravel as a mother-daugther pair.  It’s the planes.  My mom, she’s terrified that they will leave without her – she is convinced, in fact, they are trying to leave without her – and in her single-minded drive to beat the planes at their own game, she will abuse airport staff, cut lines and DESTROY fellow travellers should they by some poor, cruel twist of luck get the slightest bit in her way.

These are Things I know.

And yet, I still don’t know any better.  Because I always try to defuse my airport Mom-Bomb by yelling at her to “RELAX, CALM DOWN, NOOOO, PUT IT DOWN!!!, and this has always and will always end with me feeling ashamed and guilty and her basking in total validation at my eventual apology.

So as I waited for my plane I tried, REALLY TRIED, to ignore The Voice.  But it was an exercise in ultimate and utter futility.


“…always…                                     ….check…                                    …always…




                                                                   …always…                                     ….check…                                   









                                                            …check…                                                            ….now…





NOOO!  I AM at the right gate.  Of COURSE I’m at the right gate!  Gate 171.  I’m sure, o.k? 

“HOW sure?”

Very sure. 

“Are you?”

Sure as sure. 

“Are you??”

Y-yes.  Sure.

“ARE YOU???”

Well, fairly sure…

Endgame.  There was no point in arguing with the me that was my mom in me any more than it was trying, however heroically and massively, to ignore it.  I sighed, reached for the travel wallet that was hanging around my neck, and proceeded to (double) check my boarding pass.[3]

Jet Airways.  Check!

Flight 229.  Check!

7:25 PM.  Check!

Gate 179.  Check.

Oh.  Lord.

Below are my actual, real notes of my reaction, given to you in their entirety:

March 15th, 2011  


(see above!)  Jesus GOD!  Rookie mistake.  Made it just in time, thanks to frantic

running, Tilley hat bashing against my pack as I flew.  Lesson here: ALWAYS

check.  Only way to be sure.

Always. Check.

The me that was my mom in me did a victory dance that day.

Thanks, Mom.

Hours later, in Brussels, I parked myself at Gate B33 and waited with bated stupor for the plane, making sure to check and re-check the gate every two minutes during my two hours at the airport.  It was a Herculean task in concentration.  8:00AM in Brussels meant 5:00AM in Toronto.

In travel time, this meant that from my perspective it was daylight out instead of dark and there were people about instead of none, and there was a sense of purpose in the air instead of listlessness.  My body was confused, aching and thirsty, but my mind disregarded all physical discomfort in order to focus on this one mantra:

Gate B33…Gate B33…Gate B33…


[1] I wasn’t kidding.

[2] I am.

[3] Travel wallets are dorky and lame.  They are.  I admit that.  However, they are terrifically convenient in busy airports, especially when you’re trying to stow away wayward liquids and gels, untying and re-tying your shoes, getting patted down by someone who, frankly, should have tried harder in life, and when you’re required to keep both your boarding pass and passport at the ready while dragging along your carry-on.  So there.

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“Miss Phan! Can YOU tell us what the answer is?”


"Ah, the joys of mortgaging your future."

"Um, I dunno. YOUR FACE?"

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Filed under Education

The Shape of Things to Come

I keep a tiny notebook on my desk so that I can write down things before I forget them.  This is not a sly compliment trying to pay to myself – it’s not like I have so many ideas that it’s hard to keep track of them OR that my ideas are worth jotting down in a tiny notebook in the first place.

It’s just that I forget things, like, a lot.

So what I’m trying to do, really, is to keep my absent mindedness in check.  Or maintain a record of it to prove that, Hey, at least I tried.

Amidst gems such as “try foot cream”, “Italian sausage next time”, and “Renee Russo, where is she??” I have noticed a disturbing trend in my thoughts about the future.  They seem to orbit around the names of dogs and children I might decide to have, or which will be forced upon me by happy accident or dumb, blindsiding “luck”.

Oh yeah?  Well MY kid's Tyrannosaurs, bitch!

Based on the above, I have come to the conclusion that my priorities are that:

1) My dogs will be groomed into fine, upstanding individuals.

2) My children will grow up into fine, upstanding individuals fast, or not at all.

Penelope The Wonder Dog.

A Boy Named XANADU.

The dogs will be prim and proper purebreds.  No expense will be spared to show the People my devotion to the best of the best of the dog world: Chinese Crested Powder Puffs, Pugs, Bouiver de Flanders, Weimaraners and, of course, the magnificent Standard Poodle.

Humans sometimes do Natural Selection best, you know?


The children will stand as proof of my enlightenment as a Parent of Today, as evident by the pop culture references, gender confusion and hipster irony of their monikers:  “Lebanon is so much more affecting than Madison or Logan.  Truly, your children are effective,” the People will say.  “The apple falls right under the tree,” will be my keen response.

The dogs will be bred with Mendelian precision, to forge them into the exceptional specimens – canine royalty of the highest stock – they will be.  For the sake of their breeds, desirable traits will be sought after with passion and vigor; flaws and faults will be culled without hesitation and, admittedly, a certain animated glee.

I will the G-O-D of D-O-G.

For their own sake (and ours) the children will be freed from the constraints of our tried, BORING social norms. Free in their free will and spirits to be…whatever it is children are.

I will be…there as well.

Far be it for me to interfere and get in the way of their DEVELOPMENT.

Of course, names like Abraham, Lucy and NOSFERATU are really only for formal occasions.  Each dog and/or child will therefore have a jazzy nickname in order to encourage a sense of FUN and EXCITEMENT in our everyday lives.

“Here Abe, here Lu-Lu, here RATU!” I will yell from the back porch.

Yes.  We’ll be living The Good Life, thanks to my inadvertent foresight.

Actually, Stephen’s pretty okay with OBSIDIAN.  He gushes: “We can call him (HER) ‘Obi’ as in Wan…Kenobi!”  That alone would have evaporated my zeal for the name right then and there, but what will I care?

I’ll be out walking my beautiful Penelope.

Looking back towards the future.



Filed under THE FUTURE


There is a reality that hangs in the space between Base Need and Raw Emotion.

It is called hanger.

It is being HANGRY: finding yourself at that exact point where hunger and anger collide, swell and mutate, creating a force no longer one or the other but with a terrible power of its very, very own.

It is being so hungry you’re angry/being so angry about being so hungry.

We’ve all been there.

It happens first thing in the morning following an early dinner and a late bedtime, when you emerge from slumber ready to take on the world with your fists and teeth.

It happens in the mid afternoon when your head throbs in tune with your stomach and you come to the abrupt and brutal realization that you really should have went to law school all those many years ago, which was actually quite a while ago now that you really think about it.

It happens close to closing hours when you’re incensed at the Institution but can only take it out on the person, and the person knows exactly what you are doing and is furious at you for being livid.

Because it’s your fault for not taking them for what they are, and NO ONE has had anything but toast today and you are all of you famished, starving, RAVENOUS .

Is there, like, a White Castle in here or something?

Here's an idea. How about you think me up a damn sandwich? HUH??

There are lots of words for “angry” in the dictionary.

There are many words for “hungry”.

But there is nothing that quite covers it when you’re hangry.

The way I am living these days, my days are filled with long periods of boredom and busy work interspersed with sudden, intense moments of pure, unadulterated hanger.

The cure for what ails me is not a Simple Thing.

You may want to talk about SCIENCE – blood sugar or whatever.

But I am talking about a State of Mind, A Reality of Being, which is more immediate than SCIENCE.  It is more than something that happens to you.  It is something you go through.  You live it.

You may want to suggest a snack to quell the hanger.

Like having a Snickers.

Well.  See.

Having a Snickers doesn’t help when you’re hangry.  To a hangry person, a Snickers is a fucking insult.

It is not enough!

It is deficient, like trying to put out an inferno with the air from whoopee cushions.


You may want to suggest eating less meat and more veggies.

Once again, you’re late to the point, trying to put the pin back into the HANGRY HANGER grenade.

When you’re hangry, the only cure is to get the fuck to the nearest FOOD you can and hope that some poor unsuspecting fuck of a someone does not get the fuck in your way.

The world is safe again. But...for how long?


Because when you’re hangry, the one cure once removed from food, GLORIOUS FOOD, is to punch a bitch.

Who’s a bitch?


That is the Thing about hanger.  It does not discriminate.

It is, in its way, a Beautiful Thing in the way that beautiful is honest, and in the way that honest is brutal and just doesn’t give a shit about you today, OK?

Maybe tomorrow.

Probably not.


Filed under Food