Archive for January, 2006

Master of the house

As I said in my last post, not much of particular interest to anyone but me happened while I was at home, and this might fall into that category as well. Still, I think these photos are too adorable not to share. My dog, who’ll be turning eleven on Sunday, is a toy poodle named Muggsy. Now, for the first eight or nine years of his life, he was pretty awful, and even now, he’s still not house-trained and lots of people (my uncle, my ex-boyfriend, other people I’m sure who just haven’t put it in words) hate him because he’s not the friendliest or nicest dog much of the time. My mom and I, and even my brother, I think, love him, though, and have been pleasantly surprised by how much he’s mellowed out in his old age. When he was younger, my mom always said he was stupid because he just could not be trained, but I always argued that he was actually a willful genius, too smart to succumb to our attempts at rendering him subservient to our merely human desires.

My mom has recently come around to that point of view as well, having finally agreed that he’s just a pretty damn smart dog, who has his way with the entire house and uses us for the American cheese that’s the only treat he’ll accept (he may be my dog, but he certainly didn’t get his refined palate from me!). As a puppy, he chewed up napkins and other assorted papers, which he gave up after a few years but then replaced with a shoe fetish two years ago. Now, if he can get his crafty paws and pointy teeth on a pair of sneakers, he goes crazy, starting by chewing the laces to thread (I’ve bought more shoelaces in the last two years than by far in my entire life prior to then.) and moving on to the edges of the leather if he’s not caught in the first fifteen minutes and called away to the fridge for the obligatory bribe of cheese, fresh from the plastic wrapper.

One day during Hanukkah, I was shopping at the mall and passed a Japanese dog-clothing store. I couldn’t resist buying him a present of his own: a lion costume, on sale for $10. My mom was a bit chagrined that I’d spent that much on useless crap for the dog, but we never buy him anything, and his birthday was coming up, too. Plus, he may not be the king of the jungle, but he certainly is the master of our house. It seemed only too fitting–and he was irresistibly adorable when he modeled it for us in the kitchen.

Posted by on January 11th, 2006

The death of Cantonese in America

I’m sorry I haven’t posted in the last three weeks, but I was home in New York, having an uneventful but welcome vacation, seeing friends and family, and experiencing a lovely bout of bronchitis despite the unusually terrific weather there. Now that I’m back in Beijing (as of yesterday), I expect to be back to posting here as well, despite a looming deadline next week for my book! Of course, now that I’m in China, I came across an interesting article in the LA Times about the pressures on the American Cantonese community to learn Mandarin: business, politics, entertainment have all moved toward Mandarin as the dominant language since the onslaught of immigration from parts of China beyond Guangdong began twenty-five or thirty years ago. It’s an interesting look at the culture of chinatowns and the cultural differences contingent on this language divide.

Posted by on January 8th, 2006