Hell or High Water. (Non-review movie review! NO SPOILERS.)

You may have noticed that my non-review movie reviews are almost all positive. That would be because I prefer to “review” movies I like. Generally, if I don’t care for a film, I won’t write about it. I’ve seen fewer than 10 movies this year, and only two of them were disappointments. (I’m looking at you, Captain America: Civil War and Suicide Squad.)

This brings me to the part where I declare, for what little it’s worth, that Hell or High Water is easily the best film I’ve seen this year. It is brilliant.

The story, which takes place in Texas, though the movie was filmed entirely in New Mexico, is about relationships. Two parallel, family relationships.

 

thatasianlookingchick-com-hellorhighwater

 

Complicated dynamics relationships. Love shown in funny ways relationships. Beer as an olive branch relationships.

Big talk, slick talk, real talk, risk-taking relationships. Loyalty to the bone relationships.

Stoic guy, desperate guy relationships.

Hell or High Water is a testosterone-driven story, so don’t go in looking for strong female characters. The few women in the mix are peripheral. We never get to meet the most important woman in the film, because she’s dead. Central to the plot, but dead.

Thankfully, no one saw the need to throw in a love interest, because that would water down the beautiful disaster that is the protagonists’ predicament.

With the action fueled by family hardship, the events amount to a test of emotional stamina in the context of moral limits. Pacing is critical. We’re fortunate in the hands of director David Mackenzie (Starred Up); we trust that he can calibrate the hell out of a story, and he doesn’t fall short. Hell or High Water demonstrates how restraint can heighten the tension in a film and effectively build its suspense. Here, we see it masterfully done. I was hardly aware that I was holding my breath.

Not to mention, it was fantastic to sit down in a theater and find myself before a fine piece of writing. Taylor Sheridan (Sicario) wrote an intelligent film of considerable depth. I loved the unconventionality of the plot arc barely descending after the climax. The film leaves you hanging on the other side, but near the top, right where you want to be and don’t want to be.

Again, restraint.

 

 

As a result, we walked out on a variety of cliff-hanger that demands no sequel.

I highly recommend this film, if you don’t mind a little gunfire. It’s really, as I said, about relationships.

 

“Who saved who?” Nounours’ happy beginning! (Kitty updates.)

Nounours. Precious Nounours.

When we gave him up for adoption, our dream scenario for Nounours was that he’d go home with an older lady who lived alone and loved cats and wanted just one cat on whom she could lavish all of her love and attention, all day long.

“Everyone wants that for their cat,” said the adoption manager. “But unfortunately, that very rarely happens.” She imparted the reality gently, with careful kindness.

But six weeks later, our perfect dream for Nounours came true.

A group of donors visited the cattery, as groups of donors do, meeting and interacting with the cats. One of them emerged from Nounours’ room and remarked that he would be perfect for her mother-in-law, who lived alone and wanted a cat who would sit quietly on her lap. After just a short visit, it was clear that sitting quietly on a lap was Nounours’ area of expertise.

The mother-in-law came to visit Nounours. She went into his room and stayed for an hour. Then she came out and said that Nounours was The One. When she returned to complete the adoption process and take him home, they opened the kitty carrier, and he “strolled right in.”

Nounours had spent six weeks snuggling and purring his way into everyone’s hearts. He had been very popular at the cattery. He was a rock star, literally… because of his personality, looks, and ability to sit still, he’d been chosen to appear in the shelter’s 2017 calendar. The photographer loved him. All of the shelter workers and volunteers loved him. They were happy for him when he met his Mom and went home with her, but they were sad to see him go, too.

That is Nounours. He is an angel with healing gifts.  We knew that Nounours would be the one saving a life… and he did.

Nounours had several other adoption opportunities, but because of the shelter’s excellent vetting and matching-up process, he went home with exactly the right person for him. Nounours now has all the love, lap-time, and undivided attention he deserves. We are grateful beyond words.

 

Sweet Nounours.

Sweet Nounours.

 

…and we still love him and miss him so, so much.

As for updates chez nous, things have come full circle. Cita has returned to ruling her backyard, where she has the run of the land… and Nenette now has the run of the house.

We gave it a good shot, a solid shot, but all of our procedural efforts were to no avail. Cita is fearful and defensive and cannot cohabit peacefully with another cat. As always, our goal is for everyone to be happy, and her happy place is her (our) backyard. So we took her back to the vet for her booster shots and a flea & tick treatment. She’s now fully vaccinated, flea & tick’d, microchipped, and name/phone number tagged, and she’s back to rolling in the dirt, as happy as a clam. She truly loves to roll in the dirt.

 

Trend-setter!

Trend-setter!

 

But she does clean up nicely.

 

Cita: Methinks the bougainvillea pot is incomplete without me.

Cita: Methinks the bougainvillea pot is incomplete without me.

 

And this lawn.

And this lawn.

 

And this cinder block.

And this cinder block.

 

She rarely leaves her beloved backyard. It is her kingdom, and the patio we’ve begun to enclose in greenery is her house. She eats on the cloth-covered table, and for sleeping, she has her choice of four chairs, two barstools, and a cushioned seat. Her preferred bed of the moment is one of the barstools. It’s cool enough for her to go into her laundry room, now, too. We keep that door open for her.

So that is Cita.

And here’s the current state of Nenette:

 

Nenette's "Why aren't you playing with me" face.

Nenette’s “Why aren’t you playing with me” face.

 

Testing out the new rug under Mommy's "desk" (dining room table)

Testing out the new rug under Mommy’s “desk” (dining room table)

 

Mom! IS NOTHING SACRED?

Mom! IS NOTHING SACRED?

 

 

The end.

Throw-back poem: Woman Ironing (+ writing updates)

A couple of things to share with you today…

Thing 1: Big project writing updates, in brief.

  • Roughly 20% of the way done. Not as far along as I’d like it to be at this point.
  • In my defense, 50% of the work happens in my head, away from the computer. (Actually, a lot of the thinking work happens in the shower.)
  • Not using Scrivener.
  • Set up shop on our dining room table due to feline-related shenanigans, but sometimes migrate around with the laptop. An occasional change of scenery is helpful.
  • Made an 80’s playlist for related reasons, but only listen to it on breaks.
  • Need total silence while writing.
  • Afternoon iced café au lait greatly anticipated.

 

Thing 2: Honoring a couple of requests, I’ve got another poetry throwback for you. Like the last one, this was first published in a journal… because when you’re in grad school getting your MFA in Creative Writing, you’re strongly encouraged to submit work; the process is an unofficial part of your education.

LUNGFULL! magazine is a literary and art journal that’s especially interesting because they request a rough draft of your poem along with its final version. They print the two versions side-by-side so readers can see a fragment of the creative process.

I wrote “Woman Ironing” in 2000, and it appeared in LUNGFULL! magazine in 2001.

 

thatasianlookingchick-com-wipoemcover

 

 

“Woman Ironing” was inspired by – and titled after – my favorite Pablo Picasso work. Picasso painted “Woman Ironing” during his Blue Period in 1904.

 

"Woman Ironing," Pablo Picasso, 1904

“Woman Ironing,” Pablo Picasso, 1904

 

 

 

That being said! Here is the poem, with my then-last name blacked out, as before…

“Woman Ironing” [Click on the images to enlarge them into readability]

 

["Woman Ironing" Kristi (now Garboushian) LUNGFULL! magazine number eleven]

[“Woman Ironing” Kristi (now Garboushian) LUNGFULL! magazine number eleven]

[2nd page - "Woman Ironing" Kristi (now Garboushian) LUNGFULL! magazine number eleven]

[2nd page – “Woman Ironing” Kristi (now Garboushian) LUNGFULL! magazine number eleven]

 

Happy Friday!

Don’t Breathe. (Non-review movie review! NO SPOILERS.)

Don’t Breathe is a thriller/drama, otherwise known as a thrillama. (Adorable, right? If that term didn’t already exist, it does now.) It’s categorized as a horror film because there’s no other way to describe the shit that goes down.

 

thatasianlookingchick-com-dontbreathe

 

Don’t Breathe is an anomaly of a horror film. There’s no hint of the supernatural. No monsters or creatures of lore. No deranged killer wearing a mask while hunting people. No scheming lunatic masquerading as an ordinary person in unsuspecting victims’ lives. No lethal super-virus trampling international borders. No evil aliens or UFOs. No colossal, razor-toothed fish torpedoing out of the ocean. No natural disaster threatening humankind with the apocalypse in a planetary meltdown. No serial killers. No creepy dolls. No clowns stalking children in the Carolinas. (Oh, wait… that’s not a movie. That’s really happening). (It’s not a movie yet, that is.)

There’s just a guy.

And he’s both a victim and a victimizer.

He has reason to do the things he’s doing, as he is being provoked. In his own home.

He does have an obsession, shall we say… but by the time it rears its head, the reveal is powerless to overtake the action and suspense already blurred in full throttle. We’re brought back to the central terror, albeit minus any sympathy we may have had for the guy.

Likewise, a reveal in the backstory of another character serves in the reverse: it seeks to help us feel sympathy for her, lest we’re feeling 100% like “she’s getting what she deserves”… though some of that sentiment may remain. It did for me. There can be no justification for her actions, but at least we’re given some kind of device with which to understand her emotional motives.

Don’t Breathe is smart, unlike a great percentage of its ilk. I enjoy a stupid, campy horror flick as much as the next devoted fan of the genre, but Don’t Breathe is a pleasurable breath of fresh air, as they say. Director Fede Alvarez (Evil Dead) crafted it into an exhilarating and tight ride.

I think I’ve said all I want to say that I can say without spoiling it for you, if you haven’t seen it. This aptly-titled film is worth the price of its ticket. (An alternate title could be Why Everyone Should Know How to Hot-wire a Car.) I recommend this film highly if you enjoy horror and/or thrillamas, if you don’t mind a bit of gore… and a lot of breath-holding.

Let’s resist talking about each other just for one minute.

Overheard in line at the V.A. pharmacy the other day (for real, not metaphor):

Man’s voice: She looks too healthy and young to be here.

Woman’s voice (sounding snide): She’s probably just picking up for someone else.

I thought: They’re so close, and so loud. They can’t be talking about me…?

[::looks behind::]

[::sees no one but the two people making the remarks::]

And I realized that it really does suck to be talked about literally behind your back within close earshot, regardless of what the people are saying. I would have preferred that they address me directly, if they were so curious. I wouldn’t find that to be rude in the slightest.

When I turned to look at them, they were staring at me. I stared back. The woman’s eyes were cold. In fact, she was glaring. Like I didn’t have the right to be there.

Then the man said, to my face this time, that I looked too healthy to be picking up meds for myself at the V.A. pharmacy.

To which I replied, actually, yes, I’m picking up for myself. (I held up my veteran’s I.D. card, which I had in my hand. It’s required to pick up meds.)

Yes, I’m a card-carrying vet. You don’t believe me? Look. Holding up my I.D. as if I was a cop pulling someone over.

The man said, Whoa! You don’t say!!

A brief conversation about my combat service in the 1990-1991 Gulf War ensued before the pharmacist called my name.

NOTE: I was not offended. I was annoyed that I felt like I had to justify my presence there.

No one should feel that they have to validate their illness to strangers in line at the pharmacy.

No one should have to owe anyone an explanation to correct a record made because of an appearance-based judgment.

No one is safe from scrutiny.

It happens that “too healthy and young” are not hurtful words. I know that. But it was still a judgment based on appearance, and it was dismissive. It carried the insinuation that I was trespassing on sacred ground that belonged to others. Context is important. If you’re in line because you were ambushed during a ground war, it sucks to be dismissed because of how you look.

More often than not, though, people hear outright mean things when they overhear someone talking about them. People say hurtful things about others without caring. I’ve witnessed this kind of assholery; it’s awful.

The thing is, we’re constantly making judgments about others based on appearance. If that’s unavoidable because “it’s human nature”? At least don’t be an asshole.

 

lifecoach

 

When I had active Sjogren’s Syndrome, people actually did say to me, “But you don’t look sick!”

When someone found out that I have Hashimoto’s – autoimmune hypothyroidism – they actually said, “OH but you don’t LOOK like you have underactive thyroid disease.” (This has happened more than once.)

You’ve heard it all before. Invisible illness, blah, blah, blah.

Appearance: young/healthy = CAN’T BE A VET

Appearance: healthy = MUST BE HEALTHY

Appearance: heavier than average = MUST BE A LAZY OVER-EATER WITH NO SELF-CONTROL

Appearance: thinner than average = MUST HAVE AN EATING DISORDER OR A METH ADDICTION

Appearance: not white = MUST BE (insert stereotype associated with the applicable ethnicity)

Appearance: a cop = MUST BE A RACIST, BLOOD-THIRSTY PSYCHOPATH

Appearance: tattoos/piercings/other body modifications = MUST BE A DEGENERATE

Appearance: clean-cut = MUST BE AN UPSTANDING CITIZEN

Et cetera, ad nauseum. And we’re often wrong. We can get in trouble because of it. Remember Ted Bundy?

Most of us hear “Don’t judge a book by its cover” from the time we’re old enough to write a sentence. We know better, and yet we still do it! We are fallible human beings, all of us, by nature. In my opinion, since we’re born with the propensity to f*ck things up, we can at least try to be kind, decent, and respectful human beings.

(I’m sorry to come back to you with another ranty post. I prefer being positive here, but sometimes, there are things I need to say.)

Thank you for reading, as always!

Keeping it on the down low. (Garage gym post!)

Because of the Labor Day holiday, our Body Combat class was cancelled on Saturday and also yesterday. This gave me a great incentive to brave the garage again. Our temperatures have cooled down to the low 100’s, and I wanted to get in at least one workout over the weekend.

I had no plan until I got in there, and then, I don’t know, I guess I saw the MMA dummy and decided to do some random ground conditioning. Maybe I was also inspired by a resurrected memory of wresting in high school when an old friend reminded me about it on Facebook the other day. Fun times!

Some of this workout was inspired by wrestling, some by Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I’ve never actually studied the latter;* I used to train in Muay Thai at an MMA gym, where the schedule comprised BJJ as well as Muay Thai, so I had some exposure there. I’ve done some dabbling over the years.

In MMA, you have to deal with people trying to take you down, and you have to try to defend that and defend/escape when they’ve got you on the ground. There’s a lot of core work involved, so a workout like this is great for core strengthening. I did this workout two days ago, and by yesterday evening, my abs and obliques were super sore from top to bottom and side to side. I also feel my traps quite a bit, and, to a lesser extent, my lats. Mission accomplished!

*I’d love to get into a BJJ class somewhere. Next martial art on the list, for sure.

Without further blathering, here are a few snips from Sunday’s workout:

 

–Burpees. Lots of them. They’re a fantastic all-around, whole body conditioning exercise.

A traditional burpee involves doing a push-up from plank position. In the variation I did, the push-up is replaced with a sprawl. Rather than kicking back into plank and doing a push-up, you kick back and land with your hips down on the mat in one fluid motion. The sprawl is a technique done to defend against a shoot, which is a take-down attempt.

 

Burpee pt. 1 - Landing in sprawl

Burpee pt.1 – Landing in sprawl

 

(Didn’t realize that I got so much air until I saw this; I must have had some momentum going from touching down after a jump.)

From the sprawl, you jump your feet back in toward your hands, which are still on the ground.

 

Burpee pt. 2 - Jumping feet in

Burpee pt. 2 – Jumping feet in

 

From there, you jump straight up with your arms overhead, so your whole body is reaching upward. In this workout, I made it a jump tuck, where you curl your lower legs back toward your rear at the top of the jump.

 

Burpee pt. 3 - Leaping up

Burpee pt. 3 – Leaping up

 

Then you land and continue the steps in an endless stream of why am I doing this to myself. Those three steps done in one continuous movement equal one burpee.

–Resting.

 

Resting.

Resting.

 

–I did a few sets of shoulder rolls across the floor somewhere in here, but I didn’t capture pics of them. It’s difficult capturing shoulder roll (or any kind of roll) pics that show anything… with a cell phone camera, at least.

–This next exercise really works the core, including the glutes. From bridge position, reach up and over to the opposite side with your hips off the ground.

 

Reach-overs from bridge to the right

Reach-overs from bridge to the right

 

Reach-overs from bridge to the left

Reach-overs from bridge to the left

 

–Then I did a shrimping drill, where you’re on your back with your knees bent, pushing yourself backward with your legs and rolling over into a V shape on your side before rolling back and pushing off for the next one on the other side.* This works your core and legs. When doing it as an actual technique, it’s a hip escape.

*Apologies for the awkward description. Not my strong suit, describing exercises. THIS IS BECAUSE I’M NOT A TRAINER.

 

Shrimping drill

Shrimping drill

 

–Then I spent some time moving around the dummy, staying low while touching, grabbing, switching directions, et cetera. Just some basic grappling conditioning. This is great for lower body strength.

 

Hello, dummy!

Hello, dummy!

 

Lower body work on the MMA dummy

Lower body work on the MMA dummy

 

Maneuvering around the bag

Maneuvering around the bag

 

Switching direction

Switching direction

 

And here’s the silly but traditional walking-back pic.

 

Walking back

Walking back

 

Totally enjoyed this workout. Totally felt it the next day, and I still feel it! I think my abs and traps are shot for the week.

A comedy, a thriller, products, and food: August Favorites!

September! The month I start blacking out weekdays for 90 days, so I can ramp up my writing output. This means no social plans (i.e. lunch) with friends, and no appointments of any kind, unless drastically necessary. I do have a drastically necessary appointment at the end of next week. I’m hoping that’ll be the end of it until after October, at least. We’ll see.

Here are just a few little things I loved in August…

 

ENTERTAINMENT:

1). black-ish (T.V. series)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-Black_ish

 

HI-LAR-IOUS. There are a few comedies we love and find funny, but no comedy has ever made us laugh as much as this one.

 

2). Orphan Black (T.V. series)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-OrphanBlack

 

We watched the pilot on a whim, and it grabbed us immediately. This actress is superb; her range is fully visible in this series. It’s really incredible to see, and the story is great, too.

 

PRODUCTS:

3). The Body Shop Honey and Oat 3 in 1 moisturising scrub mask [LONG-AWAITED RE-STOCK]

 

The Body Shop Honey and Oat 3 in 1 moisturising scrub mask

The Body Shop Honey and Oat 3 in 1 moisturising scrub mask

 

This is a repeat favorite. Here’s why, in case you’re interested. (If not, scroll on down!)

I put this on a “favorites” list back when I first started using it over a year ago. Since then, it’s become my HOLY GRAIL, RIDE OR DIE mask. (I went cruelty-free and had to stop using my Korean Epielle sheet masks, which I’d loved. I haven’t missed them at all with this amazing product from The Body Shop.)

Three months ago, I was running low, and The Body Shop was having one of their Buy 3 Get 3 Free sales. I went to pick up three pots of the mask.

It was out of stock, but I could get three of a different kind so I could take advantage of the sale, and then do an exchange. My name and phone number went on a long waiting list.

The shipment would come in “next week Tuesday.” It actually came in three months later. “It’ll probably sell out again right away,” the girl said.

It came in last week Tuesday. The earliest I could get to the store was Saturday, but on Saturday, we couldn’t do it during the day. So that night, we left our social gathering a little early because the shop closed at 9:00pm. I wanted to make sure I got the mask before it sold out again. OBSESSED.

Best news: there’s a rumor that The Body Shop is discontinuing the mask because they’re developing one that’s basically the same, but vegan!!

 

4). Shea Moisture raw shea butter deep treatment hair masque.

 

Shea Moisture raw shea butter deep treatment hair masque

Shea Moisture raw shea butter deep treatment hair masque

 

This item and the next are a part of my effort to rescue my hair from myself. I’ve been destroying it slowly over the last few years. I can’t be trusted with my own hair. But now that I’ve seen the error of my ways, I’m taking measures.

First, I’ve stopped pulling my hair back tight at the gym. That was the main problem, as it’s resulted in broken, thinning hair in the front. I’m now putting it in a loose, lower ponytail, and instead of using barrettes in the front, I’m using a thin headband. It doesn’t really work and it looks ratchet, but if it’ll help the situation, then great.

Secondly, I’ve started using this hair mask once a week. I’ve only used it twice so far, so I can’t say that it works and that I really love it, but it’s not terrible, and I do like it. I was just glad to have found an affordable, cruelty-free hair mask.

 

5). OGX Healing + Vitamin E shampoo and conditioner.

 

OGX Healing + Vitamin E shampoo and conditioner

OGX Healing + Vitamin E shampoo and conditioner

 

Now this stuff, I do love, and I will be repurchasing it. This shampoo and conditioner from OGX is meant to be good for damaged hair. I can see the difference after I use it, and bonus! I love the way it smells.

The best part is that it’s drugstore, so it costs half as much as I’d been paying for Living Proof.

 

FOOD:

6). KIND dark chocolate cherry cashew bars.

 

KIND dark chocolate cherry cashew bars

KIND dark chocolate cherry cashew bars

 

This is a glorified candy bar, but it’s nutritionally dense candy and vegan, so it’s not for naught. (<–haha Words)

 

7). Pizza pommes de terres.

 

Pizza pommes de terres

Pizza pommes de terres

 

I came up with this combination as an inside joke with Callaghan. It’s just two things: Amy’s roasted vegetable no cheese pizza, and roasted, sliced potatoes on top. (I use Peruvian potatoes. SO GOOD.) It’s currently our favorite way to eat pizza.

Oh, and I always coat my pizza with hot red pepper flakes, no matter what kind of pizza it is.

 

Pizza pommes de terres with hot pepper flakes

Pizza pommes de terres with hot pepper flakes

 

 

8). Van’s Power Grains waffles.

 

Van's power grain waffles

Van’s power grain waffles

 

Van’s has a new version of their waffles! I’m loving their power grains with 10g/protein for breakfast. I have two with peanut butter and jelly in the middle. Best breakfast sandwich ever.

 

the end!