Monthly Archives: March 2012

Blink Reviews

The fact is, I don’t know much about how movies are made.

(I attended a screening of a documentary once and afterward, at the pub, I spaced out when the film types starting talking about film Things.  I was startled back into the fray when one of them said, “Oh, well, Cindy doesn’t know what a camera dolly is.”  Truer words).

Still: don't care.  But I do love D to the P.  She is lovely!

Not close.

[Don’t worry:  I don’t actually care all that much about what a camera dodi is.  As for the documentary itself…I think it was about, like, The Earth or something].

But…yeah.  Lighting, zooms, cuts and, um, bird’s eye view?[1]  That pretty much sums up my knowledge of how a movie is put together.

Or if you will, “film”.

Hey, though!  I like story.  Lessons learned, morals, that kind of Thing.

I’m the kind of person who wonders if a million coincidences does, actually, a movie make (Forest Gump) – or more precisely, a good movie make – and who appreciates that the heart wants what it wants (The Human Centipede).

It yearns.

Here, then, (and in splendid alphabetical order) are some bits – blink reviews, really – of what I have learned by watching the movie good!


The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo…The Human Centipede…Bram Stoker’s DraculaBeauty and the Beast…

I am not cutting and pasting this again. LET’S. GO.


The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

Families should talk more.


The Human Centipede (First Sequence) (2009)

There is a right way, and a wrong way, to make new friends.

Qu'est-ce qu'il y a?  Pretty much everything.

Ménage à wrong.


Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

You don’t always get what you want.


Beauty and The Beast (1991)

Learn to love him as he is (good) and perhaps he’ll change (better!).  It’s on you.


Avatar (2009)

More is less.


Forrest Gump (1994)

Shit happens.

Catch-phrase please!

Now this? This I like.


The Black Swan (2010)

Fight club for ladies?


Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

It was just a dream.  No it wasn’t.  Yes it was.  Maybe?  Nah.


Mulholland Dr. (2001)

David Lynch is smarter than me.[2]

Homer Simpson. Sage.

"Brillant! I have no idea what's going on."


Adaptation (2002)

Truly this is a movie more perfect than God Almighty — who yet found it in His Infinite Wisdom to make it nearly impossible to truly express snark in type. THIS IS SUCH A GOOD MOVIE.


2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

It is possible to enjoy something and not all of the people who enjoy that same Thing (see Harold and Maude).


Harold and Maude (1971)

Sometimes, even when you really like something, you have to let on like you like it EVEN MORE to satisfy the people around you.  And to get out of there.


Titanic (1997)

Look, she’s a good friend and this rare lapse in judgment should not be such a great mark against her as a human being.  Besides, lavish period romances set on doomed luxury cruisers rendered lovingly in CGI just aren’t for you.  You could not have known that without experiencing it, much like the time you tried flax seed butter.  Remember?  You tried it.  It wasn’t for you.  It’s OK.  WHAT IS FLAX SEED??  Everything will be OK.


Anaconda (1997)

Look.  Society will never, never accept you if it knew of your insatiable love for this.  Never ever.  If anyone mentions this movie to you in any capacity, just fake confusion with a penis metaphor and quickly change subjects.   Try “hey, so, the economy”.  “Oh my god, Shia Labeouf!” is another option.  Failing that, continue talking about penises until everything is penises.  BLEND.

Pronounced "hex-plode".

"They strike, wrap around you. Hold you tighter than your true love. And you get the privilege, of hearing your bones break before the power of embrace causes your veins to explode".

(But seriously.  JLO and Ice Cube, together, fighting giant snakes?  ANACONDAS!  The lesson here is clear: never trust Jon Voight with an accent).


[1] Birds’ eye view?  I am unsure of the number of birds involved in this.

[2] Also: Mulholland?  Not a doctor.


Filed under Entertainment


Our landlord called tonight to let us know we can’t use the water until 3PM tomorrow afternoon.  There are sewage problems in the downstairs unit.


It’s like breathing.  Taken for granted until you can’t take advantage of it anymore.  Or blinking.  If you knew how often you needed to do it, you’d become disillusioned by your own poor design.

Not to mention tiring circumstances.

The more pressing problems – no showers, no toilet – will really press in time. For now, I’m not that dirty (ripening but still not ripe!) and if I have to, I can hold off using the toilet for for-EVER.  All things being equal.

No Big Gulps tonight!  No million cups of tea!  No prune ‘n rhubarb pie!

No.  The immediate problem is dinner.

What to do?


Nothing that requires washing.  Self-contained food only.  What does that leave us?

Apparently, all our produce comes from exactly the 1980s.

Together at last?




If I combine the above with, like, spices, mix with soy sauce, white vinegar and raw ramen packs, does that count as a food?

You know, please?


Is it really necessary to wash everything before you prepare it for eats?  What’s the danger here regarding germs and sickness, really?  I mean, OK.  So, I licked a bare foot once.

Why is it that, made red and swedish, these are IRRESISTIBLE?

The question is: whose foot?

How far removed from that is this?


Stephen (imploring):  Cindy…Cindy would you like to order a pizza?

Cindy (meek, exasperated, murderous):  Yes.  Yes…OK.

Stephen (cautiously buoyed):  O-kay.  Just…come out of the corner.  Back into the light.

From deprivation to salvation!  I live to fight another day.

And now…I have to pee.

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Filed under Interruptions

Dog Face

I neglected to tell Stephen when he started walking Louis that he would, occasionally, be approached by people who would want to know what, exactly, Louis was.

Louis is a dog.  The rest, evidently, is theory.

Quick!  Someone call a taxidermist!!


The story within this story goes like this:

It was a breezy day with bitter wind and I was standing in line at Sherbourne station waiting for my turn to procure a TTC ID card.  The line wound outside the station and up and down the street, and seemed determined to circle the entire block.  People began to envy my spot, which had started at the end.  They gave us forms to fill out while we waited.  It didn’t help.

I called Stephen to let him know I’d be home in exactly forever.

“You missed it!  I’m out walking Lou.  And this old lady just came up to me and practically started yelling at me!”

“What?  Why?”

“I had my earphones on.  She came up to me and she pointed to Lou and was like, ‘what kind of dog is that?’  I took off my earphones and told her he’s a dachshund, and she was like ‘NO!’”


“Yes!  ‘NO.  That dog is not a dachshund.  Not a pure dachshund.  He’s more di-di dinsmont’…or something.  I think that’s what she said.”

“Was it dandie dinmont?”

Bill Cosby had a champion Dandie Dinmont back in 2007, Harry, named after Prince Harry.  Who could make that up?  Its proper, full show name? Ch Hobergays Fineus Fog!

I wish this dog were a toy that I wished was real.

“Yes!  That’s it. Then she was, like, ‘Are you sure he doesn’t have any dinmont in him?’”

“OK.  What did you say?”

“That, ‘uh, his name is Louis.’  I had no idea what she was getting at!”

And she left.  Stephen swears in was in “a huff.”

I will admit.  Lou is a strange creature.  Hard to pin down.  Some days, his fur is more red than brown.  Other days, it’s more of a kind of yellow.  Tawny?  He’s too small to be the standard of his breed and too big to be a miniature.  If I had to say, I’d say is ears are a little short and his legs are longer than they should be, for him to be what he is.

D-O-G spelled backwards is blasphemy.

Dachshund 4. Black & White Engraving from Cassell's The Book of the Dog, 1881

Officially, he is listed as “wirehaired dachshund” (for licensing and identification purposes), but I often have to add, “he’s probably got some Jack Russell…or something…in him,” to satisfy non-believers.


They are often not without their own theories:

Jack Russell…Corgi…Fox Terrier…Border Terrier…Beagle… Basset Hound…Cairn Terrier…Schnauzer…Norwich Terrier…Irish Terrier…Scottish Terrier.

People see what they want to see.

I get “Chinese” a lot.  But not always.  When Stephen and I drove up North, clerks asked me for my native card.  I have been mistaken as Korean aboard and at home.  Once on campus, a guy asked if I was Laotian, and I was flattered, somehow, by the novelty.  There are those, of course, who pinpoint Vietnamese. But the more astute among them want to then know: North or South?

It happens all the time.

Why not?  The benefit of a doubt is the proof of certainty.

If it’s not a golden retriever, it might be a yellow lab.  If not a lab, perhaps a lab mix?  There is slim, very slight chance it’s a pit bull – more likely, if anything, it’s part pit bull – but it’s surely not a bull mastiff.

Why?  Goldens are loyal. Yellow Labs are courageous.  Pit bulls are tenacious. Bull Mastiffs are devoted.  To a fault.

There’s no guarantee of all this, of course, but chances are…

Chances are…

And then?  Life goes on!

Hey.  Here!  I am, actually, part Chinese!  If that helps.

But I don’t know kung fu.  My brother does, a little.

It’s funny.

Maybe that’s why the old lady got so agitated.  Maybe that’s all she wanted.

That’s what it all boils down to, right?  In the end?

Reassurance.  Confirmation.  Meaning.

Standards, really.

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Filed under Dogs

A Delicate Dilemma

How do you ask more of nice?  Right?  It’s tricky.


Stephen likes to greet me with a cup ‘o joe when I get up in the morning.

You know:  java, café, brew, mud.


Foucault is my homeboy.

Nothing beats a cup of cojones in the morning.


Even though, for me, “the morning” is defined as those first few hours I get up during the day, whenever that is (there are days when I wake up to the sounds of children coming home from school, to their parents, with their Filipino nannies, and days when I simply cannot tell just by looking at it whether the sun is setting or rising), my cuppa is always there.  Regardless.  So, too, is the milk that I like to put in my coffee.

What service!

And yet…

…and yet

and yet

No spoon.  No stirring implement of any kind! Not even the left side of a pair of chopsticks.


What to do?  Going to the kitchen for a stir stick after so nicely being presented with effortless beverage seems ungrateful – a critique, a rebuff, a mean undermining of a kind and unasked for gesture – and using what’s available on my work desk strikes as slightly toxic.  There is no casually bringing up the issue – this hitch – outside of the situation (“Want to go see Ghost Rider Spirit of Vengeance?”/”I NEED A SPOOOOOON!”), which is exactly what is preventing me from doing so in the first place.

There is no doing without the milk.

My stomach can habour the sweet, sweet burn of up to four raw habaneros (it can!), but it rebels at a single drop of unadulterated black coffee.

So I add the milk, wait for it to settle a bit and just kind of…swish it around, much like a wine connoisseur does to impress himself at parities.  There’s no getting an even blend this way, so I sip and swish and sip and swish and sip and swish and try not to get anything on the keyboard.

I mostly succeed.

Stephen doesn’t know about the shadow routine attached to our shared ritual.

But he does read my blog.

Problem solved?


Filed under Routines


I am always a little apprehensive about “coming home” to my parents’ house – a place where I am a little more than a guest, a little less than a resident.

But even now, as I try to figure out Life in The Big City, I come home and it only takes a beat before we get back into the rhythm of Things.

Many times.

Every time.


One time…

“Hi, Mom.”

“Ah, you are home.  Who drove you?”

“Kris did.”

“Ah.  Where is Lou-wee?”

“I left him with Stephen.”

“Stephen’s not coming?”


“Who’s watching Lou-wee?”


Really??  He know how?”


“You sure?”



“Ah.  OK!  You like owls.”

“I guess.  Yeah.”

“I went shopping with your Aunts.  In Toronto.  I got you keychain.”

As long as I don't stare directly at it in the sun, I even get to keep them eyes.

It, um, matches my eyes.


“It’s an owl.”


“Put keys on it.”

“I will, Mom.”

“Do it now.”

“I’ll do it in a bit.”

“I want to see your keys on it.  I don’t like wasting money.  Do it now.”


Truth is, I can really only handle the responsibility of the one key.

Do I really only have the one key?

“Why you like owls so much, anyway?”


Another time…

“Hi, Dad!”

“Ah, you home!  Hm.  No Lou-wee?”

“Not this time.”


“Hey! What are you making?”


“Noodles and soup.  Ha, ha!  NOODLE SOUP.”

“That’s a big pot you have.  It’s a vat!”

“Lots of family, lots of soup.”


“Before you leave again, I make springrolls!  Unless your mom says no.  Then I make MANY MANY SPRINGROLLS.  Ha, ha!  OH!  You remember Mom’s cousin?  Your aunt?  The one that used to live with us?”


“Remember?  At the old house?”


“She died!  We go to funeral this weekend.”




And then there was the time…

“Ngọc!  When did you get home?”

“Last night.  It was late, so I just went to bed.”

“Ah. Who drove you?”

“I took the bus.”

“You didn’t take Lou-wee?”

“I left him with Stephen.  Dogs aren’t allowed on the bus, Mom.”

“Not even you pay extra?”




“You sure?”



“Ah.  OK!  Here.  Bash this coconut for me.

“Um.  Sure.  How?”

“You know,  just like you’d bash a fish.”



                      … bash….                              …bash…

                                               …bash…                 …bash…


“What is ant-polly-gee?  You done study that yet?  You have job?  When you get married?  You getting too old not to have babies. You pay too much for apartment, why not use money for mortgage instead?  I need you write letter for me and phone these people and pick up these things.  Next time, try pay extra. How you spell R-E-C-I-E-P-T?  Your dad made too much soup last time!  Can you vacuum downstairs before you leave and go to business school?”



[audible sighs heard over coconut bashing][1]


You can, indeed, go home again.  It is a small comfort surrounded by very big inconveniences.

And swimming in noodle soup.

Hey. I didn't say it was bad soup.

When consolation is delicious!



[1] “Sigh..BASH…sigh…BASH-BASH-BASH!!!”

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Filed under Family