Toodling Around…

25 05 2007

Hansun in Hualien

…Taiwan with the frère cadet.  We dine from a menu of traveler’s delights: for him, a starter of la turista from lobster sashimi, with a side of sunburn and a main dish of heat rash in various crevices.  For me, a dishonorable wipeout on a moped, with some flesh left on asphalt.  Back in a few.

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So, the baby squid…

18 04 2007

…were probably not worth the trouble, but if we only ever did the things that were, would we learn anything? Cleaning them was a slimy affair reminiscent of early biology dissections, so little did I recognize the parts I pulled—taking hold of the head firmly just beside the eyes—from the mantle, yet so clearly were they parts: gills, intestines, even glands and the hearts of whose multiple existence, indifferentiable to my eyes from the innard mass, I had later to be informed by anatomical schematics—though once I swore to have identified ovaries and their smeary roe, if those are the words. The feathered gills I knew from other fish and seafood. I ruptured only two ink sacs (of twelve), and sacrificed several fins to separating skin from mantle. The cartilaginous spine came out easily each time, though I never got a clear look at the beak, nestled among the edible tentacles, to compare it to a bird’s. It too was easily removed, a hard but never really sharp little nodule, in my fingers. I’ve no aversion to fish eyes but for some reason tried not to meet, consider, or even register beneath my fingers these orbs which, I’ve read, contain a hard lens functioning much like the that of a camera or telescope when focusing: “Rather than changing shape, like a human eye, it moves mechanically.” Tentacles, mantles—the tiny clumps and fibrous tops I might’ve sliced into the more familiar rings of calamari—all these I tossed in olive oil with garlic and sautéed. I hacked a pineapple into cubes while waiting. Back home, I would’ve found a pineapple too troublesome. The secret to a pineapple is a sharp knife.





En voyage (d’affaires)

20 02 2007

A short stateside tour: popping up at, among other places, NY Comic Con. Forgive the absence–too luddite, or is it lazy? to post from the road. Happy Lunar New Year, best wishes to all believers for the pig days ahead. Snow country, here I come.





The Future Will Be Wholesome

24 01 2007

The first Dunkin’ Donuts in all Taiwan opened here, a week ago, in Taipei, not far from one of the arthouses, giving Nippon’s Mister Donut, hitherto the market giant, a run for its year-old monopoly. I await some titanic battle of the corporate mascots that will lay waste to the metropolis with cheesy effects; blows will be traded and sprinkles rained on streets thronged with screaming Asians. Two versions, with alternate endings, will be shot and released in the appropriate countries. The Taipei Times, organ of finely edited English prose that it is, featured a picture of six comely and miniskirted hostesses in company colors showing off trays of the famous treats glazed, powdered, and otherwise pampered. “Product localization”, the result as ever of discerning “market research”, has, so say rumors, resulted in sweets not quite as cloying as the American originals. Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s only Krispy Kreme, a sleek art deco mart of brushed silvers and grays in the heart of ritzy Causeway, continues to pack them in with its HOT! light, a beacon to all lonely wayfarers whom only a life ring of fried and sugared dough will save from drowning. I stumbled on it once, in a light fog, dazed from hours of pointless browsing; its spruce logo and mirrored lettering came to me from that twilight zone of collective cultural memory where still reigns, with all its sweetheart hopes, a peculiarly American sham Shangri-La: the fifties of checkered floors and busboys in paper caps. Inside, I was sure, the help would say “please” and “thank you” and Buddy Holly would be singing of a fool’s paradise. There Father hunkers lovingly over cream fillings that murmur futures, just around the corner past the Joneses’, full of flying station wagons, and breathe not a word to him of impending coronaries. Read the rest of this entry »





Qui fut et qui n’est plus

9 01 2007

Le Hong Kong qui m’a ébloui, dès que je suis descendu de l’avion pour me retrouver dans l’humidité étouffante de 99%, a disparu, cédant sa place à une ville désormais familière, connue de tous ces films que me poussait à voir cette fascination initiale, née de ma visite en été ‘97, lors de sa remise à la Chine. J’ai beau le chercher, il n’existe plus. De temps en temps me viennent des tours de la ville présente, en vision fugitive, les contours de cette autre, alors terriblement exotique, dont l’étrangeté m’avait englouti, et je me rappelle que dans cette ville des gratte-ciels, ne resplendissant que d’argent boursier, se mire quelque chose comme le monde de l’avenir tel que le concevrait un garçon de cinq ans, où se lancent, des grands boulevards, les escaliers évidemment mécaniques dans une course aux passerelles élancées, tapissées de transporteurs, qui sillonnent la métropole des tours étincelants. Une légèreté presque utopienne, comme la bénédiction du soleil, surgirait de cette ville dont les résidents, pour la traverser, n’avait nullement besoin de mettre pied sur terre.





Uh…

16 12 2006

Goodbye, Oat Bran Pancake Mix





A Scourge of Fruit Flies

13 12 2006

Electric Mosquito Paddle

I am a God of Extermination with my electric mosquito paddle. This is a badminton racket-shaped swatter strung not with catgut but twin layers of wire that hum with menacing discharge at the press of a button on the handle, creating between them a crackling field (I exaggerate) that—and herein is genius—makes it impossible to miss. Because if you swat an insect, even a tiny one, it won’t make it through the field. In essence, you can miss, and still a blue spark (I exaggerate not) and a sharp snap will inform you of the target’s spiraling demise. Swish! Swish! No longer are surfaces needed! A swipe through the air, the merest contact, and death to pests. Fruit flies, had they brains great enough to know fear, would fear me.

Here it retails for around five Yankee dollars. I am told these are available in Chinese-dense areas of California. What are you waiting for? Run, ye mortal fools, and get one!