Category Archives: Animals

Open Secrets, Vol. 14

  • MIGHTY RHINOPITHECUS
  • Good Bones vs. Bad Teeth
  • So don’t do it.
  • “Authentic” is a slippery slope, my friend.
  • Lucky Numbers: 8, 73, 31, 5, 10578974, 2.
  • The shortest month with the longest days.
  • TAWNY FROGMOUTHS.
  • Never mind minding the odds.
  • Predict tomorrow.
  • Open Concept vs. Closed Mind
  • “Chewsday.”
  • Spiderman —> Spidermen —> Spidermens
  • Tough call. But impossible?
  • SAIGA ANTELOPES.
  • Nuts to that.
  • Cold Tea vs. Hot Take
  • Sketchy, shady people everywhere!
  • Omens: black cats, cracked mirrors, overcast brows, sour beer, mismatched CrocsTM.
  • She gets it.
  • Bad dubs ruin lives.
  • ANY NUDIBRANCH.

 

 

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Filed under Animals, Birds, Change, Fashion, People, Science, Secrets, THE FUTURE

Working Titles For My Forthcoming (And Totally Imaginary) Autobiography*

  1. Who Are These People, and What Do They Want?
  2. No Is A Sentence.
  3. And I Was There Too.
  4. Porcupine Blues.
  5. Lose A Man, Eat A Pizza.
  6. Hardly A Sham.
  7. I Remember Everything.
  8. Small Wounds.
  9. Various.
  10. Meh.
  11. Just the Crunchy Bits.
  12. BRRAMP!!!
  13. The Loud Part Quiet and the Quiet Part Loud.
  14. How About I Just See You There?
  15. LOL STFU!
  16. OK Guess I’ll Put On A Bra Then.
  17. Sludge and Drudgery.
  18. Paper Beats Rock?
  19. Everything That Isn’t, All the Things That Aren’t.
  20. It Had To Be Somebody.
  21. The Bitter Sweets.
  22. Armloads!
  23. You Missed.
  24. More Money Than Cents.
  25. Not Over It.
  26. Fire, Fire, Everywhere!
  27. FINE, fine, fine, fine.
  28. Pub = Public House, Flo Rida = Florida. And Other Discoveries.
  29. Only You Would Think That, Karen.

 

________________________________________________

* Please follow any of these with “The Cindy Phan Story,” where you feel it best fits.

 

 

 

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Filed under Animals, Books, People, Plans, Pop Culture, THE FUTURE

SCM*

*Sweetened condensed milk. It’s one of those substances that I come across without looking for it or expecting it but then it’s there, in my life again.

So. Here. We. Go.

 

1. Open-Faced Sugar Margarine SCM Sandwich

A concoction of my uncle’s making:

1 Slice Any Bread (but best if white bread, the best and worst of the breads)

1 Tub Margarine

Granulated White Sugar, to taste

1 Entire Can SCM

Toast the bread so that the margarine will melt when slathered generously (basically obscenely) over bread. Burn bread, a little, for texture, if desired.

Sprinkle (OK, dump) sugar onto toast.

More slathering, this time of the ENTIRE CAN of SCM onto toast/margarine/sugar.

There. You’re done.

Enjoy?

Diabetic shock.

Enjoy!

 

2. Snack Time

I have a friend who loves SCM so much, there’s basically no stopping him from consuming every last ounce of it every time he gets his hands on it. His indulgent parents (I love them too) sometimes serve him some, especially when he’s feeling down.

They feed him from a saucer. Like a cat. There is often a spoon.

The below is mostly true.

He’ll eat it from the can, he’ll eat it from the saucer, he’ll eat it from a tube (SCM occasionally comes in tube form – easier access maybe? Faster consumption?). He’ll eat it at the table, reclined on a chair, sitting cross-legged on the rug.

(The above was mostly true.)

It never lasts long, the SCM. It’s always gone so fast.

To my friend’s credit, he offers me some every time. But I can’t partake, not of someone else’s pure, unadulterated bliss like that.

There are limits to what we do share and what we should.

 

3. Longevity Forever

There is only one “true” brand of SCM for me, and that’s Longevity Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk (Lait Concentré Sucré/Sūa Ôg Tho).

Google it.

The logo features Shou, the Chinese deity for Longevity:

“According to legend, he was carried in his mother’s womb for ten years before being born, and was already an old man when delivered. He is recognized by his high, domed forehead and the peach which he carries as a symbol of immortality. The longevity god is usually shown smiling and friendly, and he may sometimes be carrying a gourd filled with the elixir of life.”

Or so says Wikipedia. Emphasis added, for affect.

Immortality. Elixir of life. SCM.

Go ahead. Treat yourself.

 

 

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Filed under Animals, Family, Food, Friends

La Chasse Aux Canards

Growing up, my parents, my mother especially, periodically had fits of home improvement that often manifested in schemes to re-decorate the house.

One time, it was all new lamps (i.e. all the lamps in the house, replaced, with new ones).

One time, they let my aunt’s idiotic boyfriend spray-paint the kitchen cabinets so that they looked like stone – the dark grey textured type you’d find inside derelict amusement park rides (jungle themed or the like), or a poorly drawn cartoon.

One time, they decided paint was passé and wallpapered all the bedrooms, including mine.

My parents. They were (and remain) the “Children are meant to be seen and not heard” type. Which meant they picked out the wallpaper and did not consult us or take any protest on our part either seriously or at all. Which was fine with my siblings and I because we’d long resigned ourselves to living in a cramped house with loud tastes where everything, invariably, clashed. An amusement park ride, of sorts, of its very own.

You had to laugh. You just had to.

They wallpaper my parents picked out for me had dogs on it, at least.

“You like dogs. I got you dogs,” my mom said. “There,” she said, a word with as much finality in our house as, “So, there” or “The End.”

I did like dogs (I do). And was actually surprised that my mom had made such a concession in her decorating on my behalf.

Except. Interspersed with the dogs (a trio of spotted hounds) across the beige and brown background of the wallpaper were long cattail reeds, ducks in various stages of flight and men with guns. Muskets, actually.

A duck hunt frozen mid-frame repeated ad nauseam and plastered across the four walls of my bedroom. I would not have known what to do with such a scene – such a substance as that wallpaper – had I known beforehand that it even existed. But then, just like that, it was in my life and would remain so until we moved from the house, many years later.

I often think about my childhood bedroom as a sanctuary (I had a lock on the door and was generally left alone when in there). But then I remember the wallpaper and remind myself that freedom can be as much a luxury as it is a joke. Concessions can be their own intrusions, dogs or no.

There were men on my wall shooting at ducks.

Sometimes I imagined the ducks got away; other times the dogs or men got them. Eventually, I learned not to see men or ducks or dogs and just let the wallpaper be wallpaper.

Come to think of it: I never thanked my parents for the wallpaper. A part of me thinks that that’s only fair, but then we were never talking about fair, not here or anywhere even remotely close to it.

Were we?

 

 

 

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Filed under Animals, Birds, Change, Family, THE PAST

Show It To Me

There are a few shows I watch when Stephen isn’t around, and not out of shame or guilt.

There are some things you enjoy simply because they are yours to enjoy.

There isn’t much more to add to it than that.

For once, you don’t have to be accountable.

 

1. Haunted Ghost Show

I know that sounds redundant, but I am VERY picky when it comes to my haunted ghost shows. First, there must be a haunting. Second, there must be a ghost (demons are boring; they are rule bound in ways ghosts are not). Jump scares, good ones, and no ghost hunters, psychics, etc., please: they are also rule-bound but in conflicting, non-sensical and ultimately self-serving ways. I’m embarrassed for them.

Also, a story line where, for once, the husband finally clues in and believes the wife about the haunting and then she just leaves him, finally realizing that his validation is as fucking useless as he is (there are still ghosts, ghosts regardless, aren’t there?), and that she’ll have a better, ghost-free life without him. That…would also be nice.

 

2. Nature Shows

Especially those involving fish and undersea invertebrates but, yeah, I’m someone who loves their nature shows. They’re soothing. I don’t even need Attenborough’s smoothed-over affectations, just some cuttlefish and something about starfish migrations and maybe a hypnotic sequence involving jellyfish.

Also, footage of monkeys stealing from shrines. Something about that – the pointlessness of justification, the inevitability of the act and the primacy of it – just seems about as close to perfect as perfect can be.

 

3. The Same 4 Episodes of Bob’s Burgers in a row.

These are:

S07 E13 – The Grand Mama-Pest Hotel
S07 E14 – Aquaticism
S07 E15 – Ain’t Miss Debatin’
S07 E16 – Eggs for Days

All of those. In that order. Every time.

 

4. Fargo (1996)

I watch this movie a lot; it’s one of my go-tos when I want something I know is going to be good, but do not want to spend 45 minutes on Netflix deciding on something only to resort to Twitter or YouTube to occupy myself for the rest of the night.

Why is this movie that kind of good?

Heck do ya mean?

Also good second and third choices: The Drop (2014 and because it’s still on Netflix) and Wayne’s World (1992, though 98% of that is because of Tia Carrere as Cassandra).

 

5. Arthur

Yes. The aardvark, not…the drunk guy? (I’ve never seen the movie Arthur).

Listen, there is a narrative purity and sophistication to kids’ shows that I often find lacking in “darker,” more “serious” adult fare. Arthur is very good at setting up and following through on a premise without pointless exposition or unnecessary moralizing (Peppa Pig is another such kids’ show, but for reasons that are more existential…like the time Peppa doubts herself because she can’t whistle and abruptly hangs up on her friend who can).

Also, Arthur has been on for 21 seasons (so far), meaning I’m never going to run out of episodes.

Joan Rivers played Francine Frensky’s Bubbe on the show, there’s a Neil Gaiman episode (he appears in a falafel), and a cat named Nemo. And Francine can play the drums.

Favourite character? Of course I’ve got one, and can’t you guess it’s not Arthur?

 

6. NOTHING

Sometimes embracing nothing is better than grasping at something, anything.

Isn’t it not?

I wish Netflix would stop recommending WolfCop (2014) to me.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Animals, Downtime, Entertainment, Ghosts, Movies, Pets, Pop Culture, Television

Choice Animals

In the 2015 film, The Lobster, single people have 45 days to find a partner with at least one key trait in common with them (could be anything, love of the outdoors, matching catsuits, a hangnail), or be turned into the animal of their choice.

(Alternatively, they can reject romantic love altogether and, if they can manage the harrowing escape from society, live in the wilderness amongst a motley crew of single people known as The Loners. But that’s where the plot meanders about and becomes dry and rather unengaging.)

But still. A neat premise, that: the literal dehumanization of people who do not conform to heteronormative standards of coupledom, if not outright love. It is ostensibly a punishment for being single…though as a reward for not being in a relationship, there are worse things out there certainly.

Imagine it. Any animal. You choose.

The animal of choice for the protagonist, David, is the lobster: they are long-lived and anyway he’s always loved the sea. His brother chooses to be a dog. One woman chooses to be pony. Yet another hopeless person decides to be a wolf.

For me, it would be a hard decision.

But I think I’ve narrowed down the list:

1. A Cat.

So I can judge you.

2. A Galapagos Tortoise.

So I can be alone with my thoughts for 100 years.

3. A Bumblebee.

Hive mind, hive mind! Hivemindhivemindhivemind!!!

4. A Giant Squid.

Ten big arms so I can terrorize all the seamen.

5. A Pangolin.

So hot right now.

6. A Black Rain Frog.

My inner self turned out and made fabulous.

7. A Spotted Hyena.

Such a gorgeous laugh it’s crime not to have it.

8. A Dung Beetle.

Because why not a dung beetle?

9. A Caiman.

Like, an alligator, but not so much.

10. A Moth.

OK, for real. I want to be The Mothman.

***

I suppose….

I suppose deciding on your choice animal is, actually, a lot like deciding to commit to a relationship. Everyone has their reasons, their likes and dislikes and preferences for the long term, or at least for the foreseeable future.

Whatever those are, and whatever that is.

***

BONUS ROUND:

11. A Pelican.

I would really enjoy that beak.

 

 

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Filed under Animals, Change, Movies, Philosophy, Relationships

Please Select That Which Best Applies

If I do not know the ordering procedure of a particular eating establishment, I will:

a) Decide to go somewhere else.

b) Eventually convince myself that I am not that hungry after all.

c) Stare on in puzzlement until it’s officially socially awkward for everyone involved.

d) Turn heel. Run home.

e) b & d

f) a & c

 

Your puppy:

a) Is the most adorable thing I have ever seen. Your puppy has therefore ruined my life.

b) Is the absolute best.

c) I WANT A PUPPY.

d) I cannot afford a puppy right now.

f) All of the above.

 

What That Guy Said?:

a) “Old.”

b) “Ode.”

c) “Auld.”

d) “Bald.”

e) “Sassafras gonads.”

 

PUNCTUATION THROWDOWN:

a) .

b) !

c) : OR ;

d) c OR Both

e) c & d

f) How come no one cares about ampersand?

 

Discreet Flatulence:

a) Acceptable.

b) Diabolical.

c) You ruined it by calling if “flatulence.”

 

Book or Movie:

a) Book.

b) Movie.

c) Both is not an answer.

c) Both.

 

You’ll be in:

a) My heart.

b) My thoughts and/or prayers.

c) Deep shit.

d) Shallow Paraguay.

 

I would love to:

a) Help.

b) Be able to help.

c) Consider helping.

d) Consider being able to help.

e) b, c & d

f) Never a.

 

Choose Your Fighter:

a) Emperor Penguin.

b) Death Cap Mushroom.

c) Giant Spider.

d) Tiny T-Rex.

e) Haunted Waterslide.

f) Ugly American.

 

Nonsensical:

a) “Owning the Libs.”

b) “I can fix them.”

c) “I’m sorry if…”

d) “All lives matter.”

e) “Books are dead.”

f) All of the above (plus a few others, TBA).

g) All of the above (but e especially).

 

Good answer:

a) Yes.

b) No.

 

Best answer:

a) No.

b) GOD NO.

 

 

 

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Filed under Animals, Books, Communications, Dogs, Interruptions, Mind and Body, Places

Bumper Crop

As it turns out, the one tomato plant I bought on a whim because it cost a dollar (even though it was wilted, mostly dead or dying and seemed to be more brown than green) was the plant of the garden this year, producing, shall we say, a rather bumper crop of produce:

IMG_9072

As for the rest, a confession: despite earlier enthusiasm, I eventually left the garden to fallow…though before it can do that I suppose it needs “to rot.”

It is. Rotting, I mean.

Nothing untoward or gross – just a slow decay indicative, really, of my failure to provide care or manage it.

To care, I mean.

The other tomato plants died in the ungodly heat and for lack of rain, and water (two very different things, as it turns out). Likewise, the jalapeños and other assorted peppers (bell, ghost, habanero) perished. The squash and the mystery plants, though mysteries no more, were ravaged by vermin (raccoons, skunks, squirrels and rabbits, we had them all this year).

It was more than enough to demoralize, to quit. To not to care, not anymore.

I can only blame myself. And the gods.

I realize. I was too ambitious. Next year will be another year, at least, to try.

But that, I also suppose, goes without saying.

 

 

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Filed under Animals, Change, Death, Food, Hobbies, Plants, THE FUTURE

Conversations About Dogs With Near Strangers

I had met Shari before, at a seminar, but we did not speak to each other, the class getting much in the way of that.

On our second meeting, waiting in the dim little hallway for the class to begin, we talked about dogs.

Hers is 8 years old, a bulldog/boxer mix with an attitude problem that she’s tried to work with him to, if not remedy (he’s too far gone for that), mitigate. I told her about Lou, our 14 year old dachshund, and even got into the specifics of his many issues and countless idiosyncrasies, and all the things we’ve done to help him along with those.

Strangers can talk to each other about their dogs for days; dogs being a “safe” topic for discussion with people you don’t really know all that well – a way to talk about yourself without having to talk about yourself.

Dogs help us open up.

A confession, then, from Shari: “I know this sounds weird, but I’m already thinking of the day I’ll have to put my dog down. I shouldn’t be, he’s old but not that old. But I can’t seem to help it.”

“I think about that too,” I replied. “It’s not so weird.”

“Well, when I have to, I’ll have to. You know?”

Dogs teach us about responsibly (to think about it, to take it seriously). They help us with our empathy. And they teach us about mortality: the impermanence of things, and what (if anything) we can do about it.

Another confession from Shari: “I’m worried about how my newborn son will get along with my dog. But we’ll just have to figure something out. I am not getting rid of the dog.”

Ah, yes. Of course.

Dogs help us prioritize.

 

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Filed under Animals, Death, Dogs, Mind and Body, People, Philosophy

Dog Sit

Recently, my sister asked if I wouldn’t mind dog sitting.

I love dogs. Love them! So why not?

I have a dog myself: Louis, my 14 year-old dachshund. More dogs? An additional dog? Sure! Why would I mind? What would there be to mind?

Turns out, I did mind. I mind, a lot.

So much minding over so much to be minded about:

 

1. Smell

Dogs smell. Not just the ability or the power (to smell) but the fact of the thing itself (the smell of dog). Dogs. Smell. Did you know that? This dog, the one I’m dog sitting, smells. Like dog. Like a big dog, so much bigger than a dachshund, let alone a 14 year-old dachshund and his dachshund smell I’ve been smelling for so many years I don’t smell it anymore. Big dog smell. In my house. Just wafting around, riding the currents of our A/C like some rude, musky little ghost.

2. Space

I live in a tiny place with tiny furniture and this dog – with his big dog paws and big dog butt and big dog poops and big scoops of dog food that go into making the big dog poops – cannot seem to maneuver without bumping into something or knocking something down or pushing something – a carefully placed something, mind you, that brings together the room just so – totally, utterly into the worst space imaginable (i.e. to be crushed underfoot or under such garish light or harsh angle(s) as to force me on more than one occasion to question my sense of taste; my ability to see the beauty in life itself).

3. Hair

 Everywhere. Every goddamn nook and cranny in a home full of nooks and crannies. This dog’s hair is not fur but hair, OK? Tiny little eyelash things that – while pixyish and cute upon first blush – have become a plague upon our household. They, too, ride the air currents, whirling here and there, landing where they will, be it in the corners of the room, on the stovetop or in unguarded eyes and noses and mouths. Actually, forget about simply acting as a garnish on our spaghetti or in our tea, these little hairs everywhere are now are part of the chemical makeup of every single thing to be found in our place.

4. Water

This particular dog spills about half the water he drinks out the sides of his mouth while drinking. Socks are a luxury we can no longer afford, lest they become soaked in pungent spillover dog-snot water. Thank god for the hardwood floors, though our place being as old as it is, the water tends to pool in odd places where the wood is uneven, thus forming a series of pools that somehow remind me of the surface of the moon.

 

So, you know, after all this I realized something rather crucial about myself: I may not love dogs. May never have loved them at all. Just my dog. My singular, very particular dog who himself has caused me no end of trouble. No other dogs need apply. I’m good. I’m set.

I’M DONE.

***

Recently, a friend asked to if I wouldn’t mind babysitting.

I’m still laughing.

I have not stopped laughing.

 

 

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Filed under Animals, Dogs, Family, Interruptions, People, Pets