Cuiheng Village, The People’s Republic of China
I find a pair of butterfly wings in this subtropical Chinese village, a thirty-minute drive from then Portuguese colony Macau. Black wings, velvety with some brown stripes. The butterfly’s body is missing. The wings go into the Cuiheng Hotel’s emptied complimentary matchbox.
Cuiheng Village, The People’s Republic of China
I pack the matchbox with the wings into my luggage.
City of the Concrete University, Canada
I pack the butterfly wing matchbox again for another move.
City of Stinking Fish Slime, Canada
Once again the butterfly wings are packed up and moved to Porn Movie. Their matchbox, within a larger candy box, which lies within an even larger cardboard box, finds a temporary home in the Porn Movie garage.
All Over Europe, Various States
I forget I even own butterfly wings within a box within a box within in a box.
Porn Movie, Canada
Pulling out garage boxes, I find a box with my name on it. I open it. Inside are many other boxes. Inside one of the many other boxes is a Cuiheng complimentary matchbox. The butterfly wings! I remember them at last!
I slide open the box.
Inside there is only black dust.
The Golden Age of Film
Everyone whispered about the eyeball scene. I walked in when the hand fell off. At the pause before the next film, Anicka turned to me and said, “We missed it.” We stayed for L’Age d’Or. I forgot to watch for Max Ernst – Dadaist and Surrealist, he rather fancied Arizona more than I did. Sideways I thought Anicka threw back her head. I think she looked at her watch twice. When I placed my napkin on top of my bowl of popcorn, just after the third debauchee exeunted the castle, she said we should leave. I looked back to see a girl with black blood dripping from her chest.
As the only person in the crowd who had watched any BuÃ±uel film, I was in demand for my opinion. Lya Lys lost her bandage for a few seconds in L’Age d’Or. In movies there is no need for continuity otherwise people might mistake film for reality. The projectionist proclaimed that it was a sheep’s eyeball. We all exclaimed an alas for the poor sheep! This led to a brief narration of the back alley baby seagull incident.
I never found out what happened to the hapless baby seagull. The finely dressed girl came out of the bathroom. While she dumped Spike all over her popcorn, I pointed out that she was lovely. Turns out she’s one of those people who dresses up for movies. She furthermore took into account the time period of tonight’s movies and went 1930s, though she admitted it is a look whose authenticity is not without difficulty. I invited her expertise at my Murder Mystery Dinner. She winked at me. On the corner of her right eye there was a jewel teardrop.
This sudden outburst of mummy nationalism alarmed the Chinese government.
Advice from the Lucky Leprechaun
Lucky Leprechaun and I were chatting via email about pets. Namely, how to use pets to get a mate. You see, in these parts, humanity is in short supply, after that nuclear holocaust and all. So it’s up to me to resupply the population. Me and Adam Beach and Eric Schweig and whoever that other nice-looking bloke was. Right. Joaquin Phoenix. Even you, Kyan Douglas; you’ll have to pitch in.
There are many ways to entice such lovely specimens. Most people would ply them with alcohol and, in true Hollywood fashion, then present them with a bill for services rendered. Nothing says foreplay like a tussle over the price of a frolic in a moving car.
Other people revert to cavepeople ways. The old punch-and-drag-by-the-hair move. Still others pretend to be asleep or even dead. Passing Prince Charmings always fall for that one.
Then there is the method Lucky Leprechaun – who lives up to that name – suggested. It involves tying up some willing animal then dragging it around a park populated with the target sex in hopes that the target sex will follow the carcass around in hopes of a meal.
Lucky Leprechaun: Think about a dog. I had guys coming up to me to pet my dog.
Maktaaq: I would like a dog, but it might be too much right now. I could also put a rabbit on a leash.
Lucky Leprechaun: Sorry, a rabbit on a leash would be nice but I think it would scare the guys off.
Maktaaq: Ok, no rabbits on leashes. People have no sense of humour.
Lucky Leprechaun: That is very true! Why is that? Seems like they think “Oh shit, crazy broad. Run away.” They are such shallow beasts.
The best way to meet someone is to hang out with them day in and day out. You start to notice all sorts of loveable things about them. Today, for example, I spent a few minutes secretly deconstructing his eyebrows.
So I met someone nice. But he’s unattainable. And I’m not so sure that’s a bad thing. At this point, it’s nice to mull over tomorrow’s possible outcomes. It’s like floating lazily down a slumbrous Nile, looking at riverside temples in the blazing sun.
What have you got to say about that, Lucky Leprechaun?
Debauched Midget Inventory
1. Freaks 1932
2. Living with the Dead’s Kevin Sloan 2003
3. The Wild Dogs 2002
4. Time of the Gypsies 1989
5. Mini Me (Playboy issue) 2001
6. The Munchkins in the Wizard of Oz 1939
Mental Illness of the Month Movie
Written in front of the box of evil last night:
I am watching Psycho in French. It’s the sort of movie I watched in bits and pieces. Last summer, I decided to watch it all in one go at the University Psychiatry Department’s Mental Illness of the Month movie night. Watching it in French tonight, almost exactly a year after my first complete sequential viewing, I don’t have to pay attention to the words. I can better appreciate the visuals.
Now this Antony Perkins. He is rather cute as far as black-and-white men go. Other black-and-white men are too fatherly for them to be much fun. Humphrey Bogart: he picked his nose in public. I can see why Ingrid Bergman left him in Casablanca. Then there’s that creepy Gregory Peck. For all of Roman Holiday I was worried that Audrey Hepburn might take a liking to him – incestuous!
But this Anthony Perkins guy; even subtracting his boyish looks*, he’s the kinda person I would like hanging out with. Youthful and slightly off-kilter. His face even turns skullish in the very last scene. What a decoration he’d be at my annual Day of the Dead party! And his hobby is taxidermy!
To his everlasting credit, Perkins wore a dress in Psycho. Not a sexy number, unfortunately; still a dress is enough to spark my own replay of that attack scene in something from the Sex and the City wardrobe. The wig is, in my fantasy, gone. Rouge is encouraged. Eye makeup not allowed.
*Despite his unappealing profile. And the fact that he looked pretty creepy as an old guy. Beauty is, indeed, fleeting.
Before I forgot my rhubarb stew in Karen’s car, we drove up and down Porn Movie’s main drag, looking for an open restaurant. It was only ten at night. Nothing was open. We even stopped at the haunted bar. I suggested the Hong Kong tea place, knowing full well that Hong Kong tea drives a four-day wedge between wakefulness and sleep. Jonesy pulled up to the wrong place. Then we noticed the little pearl milk tea place.
Yes, I know.
Here in Vancouver, the morons translate it as bubble tea. This stuff contains tapioca balls, not bubbles. Bubble implies a hollow centre. Tapioca balls start out as pebbles and soften to, if expertly soaked, a stiffened marshmallow. In a good tapioca ball, the centre will be of the same consistency as the outer membrane. I myself have not managed to soak tapioca balls to Taiwanese perfection.
Bubble tea also leaves milk out of the equation and out of the translation: zhen zhu nai cha, where nai means milk.
Our pearl milk tea place – soft curly sofas, fluffly armchairs, a shoji screen, melted lava lamps, and Hong Kong movies projected onto a wall. The drinks – all the bizarre fruit teas I came to love in Taiwan. And little niblits!
I hereby proclaim this pearl milk tea place as my hangout.
It came at just the right time. I am becoming overwhelmed with longing for Asia. I keep fantasizing about quitting my job so I can rush to an onsen or go on one of my cross-Taipei walks again (I manage to clear Taipei in about three hours).
Food is about as close as I can get to Asia from this side of the Pacific. Yet the experience is disappointing. With the exception of Guu, what passes for Japanese food in this town could at the very least be fresh. I rather like California rolls, though I never came across them in Japan during my two years and three visits. Yet rolls, while readily available in Japan, come second to sashimi. You know, the slabs of raw fish. Without the rice to divert your attention.
Sashimi is king.
Vancouver sashimi is a petty bourgeoisie second-rate pianist. It arrives at your table as if it baked in the sun. Sometimes it comes with an ice cube centre. Either way it deserves to be sent back to the kitchen.
Japanese food is so much more than just sushi and no one outside of East Asia seems to have figured it out. In Japan, JJ and I would plan weekend trips based on what we could eat that season. Special mushrooms in Gunma’s mountains in the fall, boar soup in the summer, shreds of yuzu lemon in delicate December broths, the freshest oysters and sea urchin that melts like silk in your mouth.
Taiwanese food is even impossibler here in Vancouver. Even more than Japanese food, its borders prevent it from travelling. There are some restaurants – restaurants! snort! give me night markets! – that purport to be Taiwanese here in Vancouver. But their red beef noodle soup is not even spicy. Their oyster omelettes have more goo than egg; the egg is too heavily cooked; and the oysters chewy. Real Taiwanese peanut butter, even in Taiwan a dying breed overtaken by Skippy and its henchmen, is the Nutella of the Asia. Export it, damn you!
Instead of fantasizing of debauchery as a polyandrous wench dallying with Joaquin Phoenix and Adam Beach and Eric Schweig and Kyan Douglas, I daydream about my lovely and doting imaginary husbands feeding me rou yuan.
For Mr. Firemind’s online potluck, I thus present this Taiwanese feast.
Name: AniÅŸoara Mesocricetus
Date of Death: Saturday July 31, 2004
Time of Death: 3:05 PM
Observations: Left side of subject had been found paralyzed on night of July 30. On day of death, hemorrhaging decreased and the subject’s anus dilated to ten times its size and half-excreted the faeces. A few minutes prior to death, the subject sighed deeply at ten second intervals. One minute prior to death, subject began trembling violently. At death, the subject was extremely flexible, with the consistency of melted ice cream. Two hours after death, rigor mortis set in.
Funerary Arrangements: Following funerary customs ranging from Neolithic practices to Han Dynasty rites described in a forensic anthropology reader, AniÅŸoara was embalmed in the following fashion.
Photograph of AniÅŸoara two hours after death:
Note celery pillow and tissue bedding. The paws on the left (paralyzed) side of the body are rigid with rigor mortis.
Aerial Photograph of AniÅŸoara two hours after death:
In accordance with Romanian superstition, her open eyes were closed after death to “prevent the dead from taking another soul with them.”
AniÅŸoara on funeral shroud (black velvet, fuzzy side on the inside):
AniÅŸoara clutching yellow flowers:
Many cultures combine funerary and wedding practices when the subject is a female virgin. AniÅŸoara, as a female hamster who never experienced sexual intercourse (no occurence of male hamsters in her location), is here given a nosegay that symbolizes her post-mortem status as a bride.
Duplicating Neanderthal rituals, the corpse of AniÅŸoara is encircled by flower sacrifices:
AniÅŸoara is dusted with a thick layer of cayenne pepper:
This practice echoes Chinese Han Dynasty (202 BCEâ€“220 CE) as well as Neolithic and Siberian practices of dressing the body with red ochre. Owing to the lack of red ochre availability, AniÅŸoara’s undertaker improvised with a package of cayenne pepper. Yet the usage of cayenne pepper, an expensive spice, is similarly sumptuous.
Close-up image of AniÅŸoara coated with cayenne pepper:
Last view inside coffin:
Note coffin is constructed out of exquisite gold paper.
No photos exist of the funeral itself. The novice grave digger now appreciates the toils of grave diggers. The grave is located in the immediate area next to a rose bush, facing south, and is about six inches deep, with the top of the coffin about four inches below the surface. The appearance of ants in the grave occurred immediately before the coffin was placed inside.
The two funeral attendees spoke a few quiet words to each other on the brevity of life. N.L. Sister commended AniÅŸoara for her abundance of personality.
A rose, dismembered from the rose bush during the grave digging, became the first on-grave offering.
Meanwhile, there is some speculation that Vancouver’s dry summer and the overwhelming amount of cayenne pepper used in the embalming process lead the experts to believe that AniÅŸoara’s remains will be mummified.
No will exists as the hamster in question was illiterate and did not employ a lawyer. She has left behind one (1) cage, one (1) hamster ball, two (2) plastic houses, two (2) hamster ladders (one short, one long), one (1) brown food trough, one (1) round yellow food container, three years worth of cedar shavings, an unspecified quantity of corn cob bedding, one (1) chewed-up branch, one (1) half-eaten package sunflower seeds, one-third package gourmet seeds, and one (1) water bottle. The above items will be redistributed among her closest living relatives, one F.G. Maktaaq and one N.L. Sister. The relations have expressed interest in donating AniÅŸoara’s belongings to any future hamster boarders.
AniÅŸoara’s complete lack of hostility while alive and her natural death exempt her from blame in the following three disturbing incidents. First, when the author put down the toilet seat, the lid fell down, resulting in a yelp. Second, the author tripped over a well-disguised electric cord. Third, the author suffered a stabbing. These incidents are obviously the doings of a malevolent cat demon.
AniÅŸoara did manifest her benevolence through the appearance of a silver star sequin. Found in the author’s dainty sandal, at foot level (consider AniÅŸoara’s height), the author insists that AniÅŸoara placed it there. No other explanation suffices, as the author has never encountered star-shaped sequins of any colour. The star symbolizes something about AniÅŸoara’s new condition and the message appears to be wholly wholesome.