30 November 2009

Someday I'll Make Him Proud

Humans come in units called families comprise of father, mother and children. Sometimes when children are born, they are already destined to follow the footsteps of their fathers or mothers, or even surpass them. That is because the parents themselves willed so, even when they don't say so. This is where "making your parents proud" becomes a lifelong source of angst and frustration to the children, which they usually carry on throughout their adult lives.

In the human world of materialism, I observe that like being successful means making a lot of money, having a prominent position in a large company, owning a large house and a luxurious car, being a well-known member of the society, or a combination of any of the above. Being espoused to another human with the same level of success would be the crowning glory. Anything less would mean failure. Failure as a person to oneself, failure as a child to your parents. One would then be branded a "loser".

In many ways, I feel the same way sometimes. I must "do something" to make Mr. B. proud of me. Even dogs must learn a few tricks to make their masters happy. Happy and proud. Perhaps if I can show Mr. B. how many people are reading my blog, that would make him proud of my accomplishment. Or perhaps it's not enough, never enough.

Every night he comes home, the first thing Mr. B. would do is to carry me and give me the biggest hug. Perhaps he already love me for who I am, not having to do anything else. Perhaps one day, if I'm allowed, I'll make him proud.


Video credit: Matthew Thomas singing Proud from Britannia High.

25 November 2009

Dreams That Cannot Be

At the beginning of this year, no one knew who Susan Boyle was. This week, she holds the record for the most pre-ordered CD in the history of Amazon and was said to sell more records in the first day of the CD's release in the United States than John Mayer's new album in a week. In a span of a few months and with over 70 million views of her audition clip in Britain's Got Talent on YouTube, Susan Boyle's life has indeed changed.

Listening to her album I Dreamed A Dream, one can sense the sincerity of her voice - not perfectly polished, yet very real. I particularly like her rendition of church music - How Great Thou Art and Amazing Grace. She also managed to make I Dreamed A Dream her own with her unique rendition. Purists criticize the odd mix of genre and her tensed vocalization - true yet forgivable as far as I am concern.

Humans are strange. She was ridiculed for her homely appearance then praised for her unexpected triumph. Now she is being likened to a modern freak show, an exploited old woman. But really, who cares? Susan Boyle realised her dream of being a singer. She has an album that may sold millions worldwide. She may start embarking in a tour doing what she loves to do best - singing. Why can't other humans understand that and just appreciate her for who she is, and be thankful for the wonderful gift of songs she has given?

What happens next? I read that Simon Cowell shall be producing a documentary called "I Dreamed A Dream : The Susan Boyle Story".

23 November 2009

Mr. B. By The Book


One of the most fascinating things I discovered about humans is that they actually make records of what they think. This is usually in the form of written words in pages and bound together to form books. Other humans would read them and learn from the experiences of other humans. It is said to be a very fulfilling act.

Mr. B. always tells me he should read more, that he is not reading enough complaining he usually feels too tired to do it after a day in the funny farm. Tonight, he came home carrying another thick book and placed it on top of all the other books he had beside his bed.

"You bought another book?" I inquired.

"Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol!" he said happily showing me the hardbound copy of the author's latest.

"But you just bought a book from your trip last week and you still have others you haven't finished reading!" I reminded him.

"I know," he said. "I'll finish them one by one in time."

I went to check the books he had on the side table and found 4 half-read books among the gossip magazines, Reader's Digest, Eyewitness Travel Guides and cookbooks. I wonder how he can finish them all when he only gets to read a few pages a night before he starts snoring.

"You should read this first!" I wave Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go in front of him. "They are making this into a movie!" Mr. B. was impressed that I knew.

"This one has been sitting here for more than a year!" refering to Mark Haddon's A Spot of Bother, who also wrote The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, which Mr. B. enjoyed a lot.

"I know! I never got to the middle part and had to start all over again 3 times!" he laughed sheepishly.

"And this Paulo Coelho novel?" I asked knowing that Coelho is one of Mr. B.'s favorite author and he has read many of his works.

"Too philosophical," he said. "Get me thinking too much making me hard to sleep."

"Well, good reading!" I told Mr. B.

As I walk away. I saw him checking out The Lost Symbol's book jacket to see if there are any hidden messages on it.

22 November 2009

Three Wise Monkeys


I came across the image of 3 monkeys each covering the eyes, the ears and the mouth. Mr. B. told me it is called the Three Wise Monkeys which embodies the proverbial principle to "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil".

It was interesting to find out that this philosophy has its origin from a 17th century carving over the door of a famous shrine in Japan. While known as the Golden Rule, "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" seems to have various interpretations across different cultures. Most humans believe it means not exposing oneself to things that are evil in order to stay pure. Others associate it with the virtue of having a good mind, speech and action.

The most interesting interpretation I discovered was the phrase being used to refer to those who deal with impropriety by looking the other way, refusing to acknowledge it, or feigning ignorance. In other words, willfully turning a blind eye to a malicious act.

Everyday in the funny farm, Mr. B. had to bear witness to many acts of unkindness by one human to another - dishonesty, hypocrisy, arrogance, pomposity; from superior to subordinates, from peer to another peer. A year or so ago, he would have lost sleep over these incidence or felt bad about allowing it to happen without making a slightest comment. He also found that the less people protest about it, the worse the abusers become, and everything comes down to the rationale that "such is the corporate world".


Wise Monkeys? I don't think so. They are just covering their eyes, ears and mouths in order to pretend nothing evil is happening around them. So sad...

17 November 2009

Thanks For The Adventure


On his way back from business trip, Mr. B. watched the animated movie Up on the plane. He never had the chance to watch this in the cinema so he thought it would be a good chance to see this film by Pete Docter who also directed Monster, Inc., another animated film that Mr. B. enjoyed.

The film centers around a grumpy old man named Carl Fredricksen and an overeager Wilderness Explorer named Russell who fly to South America in his floating house suspended from helium balloons.

Not much can be said of Russell who is at once annoying but lovable. It was the story of Carl and his wife Ellie that made the film worth viewing many times (which Mr. B. did since his trip took more than 10 hours). The story of the shy, quiet Carl and the outgoing Ellie as they wed and grow old together was truly touching. Ellie passed away leaving Carl with her Adventure Book with him feeling sorry for her unfulfilled dream of having their house right beside the Paradise Falls in South America ("It's like America," Ellie said as a child. "only South.")

Towards the end of the movie, Carl finds Ellie's childhood scrapbook and discovers her mementos of her life with Carl after they were married. The last page had a final note from her thanking Carl for her adventure of marriage with him and an encouragement for him to go on his own. Mr. B. said he cried in that scene.

One fascinating thing about humans is that they stay together for a long time as mates (well, at least some of them), unlike us bears who only mate for a season. I guess sharing a life together is an adventure on its own, very much like Mr. B. and D., or even Mr. B. and me. Indeed it can be an adventure that one much learn to be thankful for everyday.

Perhaps that's what's in Mr. B.'s mind when he came back home exhausted and jet-lagged and slept the whole Sunday hugging me.




Video credit: Up from Pixar Animation Studios

08 November 2009

Humane Foie Gras



Last week has been particularly busy for Mr. B. having to entertain colleagues from various parts of the world. This would involve eating a lot of good food and drinking a lot of alcohol. Whenever he had the chance, Mr. B. would enjoy a nice slab of pan-seared foie gras de canard (that's pan-fried duck liver).
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"Do you know that they gavage those poor birds to give you that rich, delicate, buttery duck or goose liver you are enjoying?" I ask Mr. B. giving him an accusing look.
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"What's that?"
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"Force feeding. Humans shove a metal tube down the birds' throats and force food into them so their livers will become abnormally large and full of fat." I explained what I read to him.
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"Really? I thought they found a new and more humane way to produce foie gras?" he said.
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"I think they have. They are now using rubber tubes!" I replied.
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"Those poor birds! What about pate de foie gras? I love pate too!" Mr. B. said.
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"Does it make any different? Pate is still 50% made of fattened liver from poor geese and ducks!"
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I think there is no such thing as humane foie gras. A number of countries have laws against force feeding of animals or the sale of foie gras because of how it is produced. Some world-renown chefs have shown their support and refuse to include this item in their menu.
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Humans are strange. They eat fattened goose liver and in turn get their livers fat as well. I cannot comprehend why they do that. I made Mr. B. promise not to eat foie gras or any form of pate anymore unless it is made from chicken or pig's liver.
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"Just don't eat livers. They are not good for you anyway." I told Mr. B. as I hug him to console his loss of one of his favorite food.
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In the meantime, the French law states that "Foie gras belongs to the protected cultural and gastronomical heritage of France." In short "we want our goose liver so buzz off!"


Photo credit: La Comptoir Gastronomique

02 November 2009

Pencils


Mr. B. loves pencils. I mean, we have lots of them at home. Well-sharpened pencils bunched up in mugs which Mr. B. rarely used. They are just sitting there - mugs and mugs of well-sharpened pencils bought or collected from many sources. He also has a pencil sharpening which he used whenever one of his pencils became dull.

"I just love pencils!" he declared when I inquired about his fascination for this human writing instrument. "I like seeing them all sharpened, I like the smell of the wood, I like the way they glide smoothly on paper when you write with them, especially the B grades. I feel happy when I see lots of pencils bunched up together like that!"

It didn't make sense to me.

"But I don't like the erasers on the other end," he continued. "I like it when the other end is the end of the pencil where you can see the round graphite lead surrounded by the wood. As a child, I used to sharpen that end too to have a two-headed pencil!"

"Right...." I said walking away from him.

Strange yet reasonable. Perhaps pencils remind Mr. B. of his childhood, of happier times, carefree times that is why it makes him happy to see them all well-sharpened. Oh well, I wonder what other stranger things humans can be fascinated with?

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