It’s okay to feel grief at the passing of a loved one, and it’s okay to feel grief at the passing of someone or something that you might not have known on an actual hello-nice-to-meet-you level. I think that’s just the way human thoughts and emotions work. We become attached to things because they help us get through the dark days, or we become attached to things because they help us to find happy thoughts and good things, and in this case I’m talking about food and a quirky series of videos.
I learned today that Francis, the titular dog of the Web series Cooking With Dog, has died. (Got it from the official Web page, in this case the official Facebook page.) And as I’ve said elsewhere: it was always clear in the videos that Francis was not a puppy. It was always clear that Francis was kind of getting on in years, in terms of dog years anyway. Death was a nearer possibility on his particular horizon, and the official FB page says that he died at the ripe old age of 14. (In terms of human years, anyway. What that means in terms of dog years, I have no clear idea, since I’m not too sold on the idea of one human year = seven dog years.)
Still, I feel shocked and unpleasantly surprised, and I feel the grief that comes from losing a sort of distant kind of acquaintance, and an even more distant kind of “friend”. I’m putting that word in quotes because — hey, what does Francis know about me anyway? I’m just a fan of his videos. But those videos have gotten me through some tough times. They’ve helped keep me sane during some really bad nights and some really interminable work shifts. They’ve kept me hungry, and inspired me to try to eat and cook new things. Francis and Chef were — well, they were sources of smiles and laughter and inspiration, and now one of them is gone and it’s also been made clear that Chef really is getting on in terms of years. I wonder what will happen next — will the Web videos continue? Will Chef gracefully retire? Will there be a different cooking series? No idea.
But maybe we can remember Cooking With Dog and Francis the dog by cooking and eating and continuing to watch the videos, whether they keep going or stop at the latest installment.
Here’s a link to one of my favorite Cooking With Dog videos. This is in part because I love to eat this particular dish — it’s become sort of my point of judgement whenever I go to a Japanese restaurant, sort of how I know if the people in the kitchen know their stuff. And this is in part because this video made the process of making this dish so easy to understand.
And now, to end this entry on a more positive note.
As I write these words, it’s the 7th of November in my part of the world, and that might not mean much to some people but to me, and to the many other people who fell into the fandom centered on the video game franchise Mass Effect, it’s N7 Day: it’s the day when we commemorate the stories, music, characters, and pretty much everything about those games. It’s a day to play the music from the games, or maybe start another playthrough, or just anticipate the upcoming sequel. (Mass Effect: Andromeda might come out next year, delays and rewrites and retools notwithstanding.)
I actually can’t tell you the reasons why I just fell into the fandom. Maybe it’s got to do with the female version of the hero, Commander Shepard (of the original games, anyway) — she takes no shit and she saves the galaxy despite all the obstacles thrown in her way. Maybe it’s got to do with the way she interacts with her friends and family and crew. Maybe it’s the music or the moral choices. I certainly can’t play third-person shooters worth a damn but Mass Effect is just compelling to me. And that’s why I was happy to be reminded that today is N7 Day. I’m happy to be part of that group that got into the games, and maybe got to feel a lot of emotions because of the games and the stories and the characters.
So — raise a glass to Commander Shepard, whoever s/he might be, and raise another glass to his/her squad, and raise yet a third to the upcoming hero of Mass Effect: Andromeda, Ryder. May he and she take us through just as compelling a world and game universe.