All-day anniversary date! (Firing range + samurai armor.)

Wednesday was our wedding anniversary. The sub-title of this post could be: “We’ve been married for 6 years and to celebrate we went out and Did Non-Everyday-Things.” Callaghan took the day off so we could spend it together.

The first exciting thing that happened was the doorbell rang and a minute later Callaghan called out, “It’s a package for you!” as he came into the bedroom where I was getting dressed, and he dropped the package onto the bed and walked out, leaving me to think, “He got me something for our anniversary??” (We’d agreed no cards, no gifts.) So I opened it and found a Black + Decker 16v cordless hand-vac, which I’d been wanting for the longest time, and which I grabbed while running to the other end of the house all like, “Baby!! THANK YOU SO MUCH for the hand vac!! Best surprise anniversary gift ever!!!!!” as I jumped into his arms, to which he replied, “I didn’t order you that.”

Long story short, we found out that my parents ordered it for us for our anniversary, knowing that I had my eye on it. It’s been one of those things that I wanted, but never wanted to spend money on.

Anyway, still. Best anniversary gift ever! Best parents ever! The hand-vac has already changed my life.

The reason we didn’t exchange cards or gifts was that we had an expensive plan for the morning: going to our favorite firing range to rent weapons and practice shooting. Even with Groupon, the whole thing cost us $140.00, and that was only for 40 minutes of shooting. Seriously, how do people afford to do this on a regular basis?! I suppose, for one thing, they own their own firearms. We never will, so we rent them when we want to shoot. Firearm rental is expensive. Ammo at the range is expensive (unlike at Walmart). Hence, the firing range is a special-occasion date activity.

In the afternoon, we went to the Phoenix Art Museum for our second date activity: the “Samurai: Armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection” exhibition. We’d known that the collection was there, thanks to some of you! We remembered it while finishing up the first season of Fargo not long ago, when we had this conversational exchange:

Me: Oh, look. Good old Lester married a submissive Asian wife.

Callaghan: I thought that was what I got when I got married.

Me: Ha! So what did you get? The English Rose?

Callaghan: No. I got the Samurai.

Then he quickly added, “And it’s perfect!”

And this, my friends, is one thing I appreciate about Callaghan so much. Seven years together, six years married, and the guy is still making me laugh. I have no complaints.

Such as it was that we went to the Phoenix Art Museum to see the Samurai exhibition.

 

“Cultivated Warriors” – (Samurai: Armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection)

 

 

If you can get to the Phoenix Art Museum before July 16, I highly recommend that you go check out this exhibition! It is spectacular.

The first thing you see when you enter the gallery is a large statue of the Buddha. The sight of the Sakyamuni Buddha entrances me instantaneously, so I had to linger a few minutes before going in… and, of course, take a selfie with the Buddha.

 

With the Sakyamuni Buddha at the Samurai Armor exhibition, Phoenix Art Museum 2017

 

Worth mentioning right now: the strategic play of lighting and shadow fluctuates throughout the gallery, and you’ll see this variation in these pics. Here at the entrance, it’s extremely bright. That white square on the top left of my shirt? That’s a sticker that reads “Samurai” in black letters. The light was so bright, it washed out the lettering completely! (I didn’t even try to bring out the lettering with filters or anything like that; I left these pics as-is.)

You can see the lettering here, though, with just a slight change in distance and angle:

 

Me, Callaghan, the Buddha. Not in that order.

 

Let me tell you, it took a lot of finagling with the phone camera position to get the three of us into this shot!

The reason the Buddha invites visitors into the samurai gallery is that Buddhism and its philosophies and motifs informed the design of the warriors’ armor and weaponry to a great degree; the religion was a part of samurai culture. “Buddhism was widely adopted by most samurai,” says one of the plaques inside the gallery.

Despite this fact and the fact that Buddhist warrior monks developed a deadly martial arts system that engendered all of the martial arts schools in East Asia (many of which are prevalent in the public eye today, as they’re included in an MMA artist’s arsenal), there’s still this myth that all Buddhists are strict pacifists, and that pacifism defines Buddhism. This may be due, in part, to Buddhism having become widely New-Age-ified in the hands of western seekers.

The myth may also come from the fact that Buddhists are not a war-mongering people, in general. There is a difference between being a warrior and being a war-mongerer. Being Buddhist and being a warrior are not mutually exclusive.

And so the Buddha welcomes you into the samurai warrior gallery. The exhibition consists mostly of armor, but you’ll also find weaponry and other objects particular to samurai culture. Truly, everything in this gallery is an exquisite work of art.

[click to enlarge if you wish to read the plaque]

 

Helmet

 

Like this one, many of the helmets and masks were adorned with Buddhist symbols. One plaque explains: “The adornments are influenced by the philosophy of Buddhism, a religion that greatly inspired Japanese warriors.”

Another plaque says of its subject: “The shape of the helmet is reminiscent of the cloth headdress (tokin) worn by Buddhist ascetics and warrior monks (yamabushi) who lived in remote mountain areas.”

Here are a few more pics, to give you more of a taste of the exhibition:

 

War drum

 

Family portrait, haha!

 

Did you know that samurai warriors battled with firearms as well as with bladed weapons and bows and arrows? I didn’t.

 

On samurai weaponry

 

Another plaque explains: “Though archery eventually gave way to the use of firearms in combat, the bow continued to be venerated, and archery remained a martial art that every samurai was expected to master.”

And another: “Shogun Takugawa Leyasu described the sword as the soul of the samurai.”

The exhibition includes chest plates with bullet marks and traces of sword-slashes. (Impressively, the bullets did not pierce the armor.) I didn’t take pics of those, though, for some reason. I did get some of the mounted warriors:

 

Mounted samurai

 

Even their horses sometimes wore elaborate masks!

 

I wouldn’t want to meet this guy coming out of the fog.

 

WHY SO SERIOUS? ~Of course I had to get a selfie with a samurai warrior lurking in the background.

 

Remember: this gorgeous and awe-inspiring exhibition will remain at the Phoenix Art Museum until July 16!

Happy Friday, All.

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“La La Land” in a flash of whitening.

We went to see La La Land to catch up with the hype it’s been generating. Then, on Facebook the other day, I joked about writing “La La Land annoys me and I’m not sorry.” This was met with interest, and I do appreciate your interest! Here we go.

La La Land, a film widely beloved as a throw-back to Old Hollywood, has a core cast about as diverse as a pile of snowballs in a blizzard. We were both surprised by the extent of its whiteness.

Also, in a bizarre twist on the familiar trope, the story peaks when the knight in shining armor races up on his steed to rescue a damsel’s career in distress.

And there are no gay characters in La La Land, which I found to be an odd omission.

What is happening? At the Golden Globes, a highly acclaimed veteran actress extolls Hollywood’s diversity and then contrasts it with football and MMA. Football is indeed decidedly all-American. MMA, though, is an international sport that’s arguably more diverse than Hollywood… her example a blunder she makes due to her preconceived notions (effectively reinforcing conservatives’ view that liberals are elitist and hypocritical). Ironically, the notably nondiverse La La Land sweeps the same awards ceremony. Now the Oscar nominations have been released, and La La Land again leads the way. 14 nominations!

(This is not a commentary on those who enjoyed La La Land. If I had a penchant for romance films and musicals, I’d find it dazzling, too.)

La La Land is a boy meets girl story.

 

thatasianlookingchick-com-lalaland

 

The two artists collide and collide again and then again and then finally get together in rapturous love, but the missed-connections shenanigans continue. One aspect of the plot I appreciate – and it’s a major aspect – is the sincere concern each has regarding the other’s faithfulness to their art.

They don’t end up together, but they get what they want, professionally: at the end, he’s opened his jazz club, and she’s reached stardom.

She reached stardom because she wrote a play at his encouragement, and when that led to a call for her possible big break, he heroically raced across a state line to collect her and get her there.

The one black character in the film plays a pivotal, yet behind-the-scenes role. Interestingly, the white lead character envisions a livelihood in an old-school jazz club, and the black background character convinces him that the way to go is to make money playing keys with a touring pop band.

So I have questions, beginning with: Stone and Gosling? Why? They’re excellent actors, but they’re clearly not singers and dancers. And why is Hollywood enamored with La La Land to the point of 14 Oscar nominations? With its nostalgic, retro tone, the film seems intent on recapturing the magic of a Hollywood moment that took place in the 50’s/60’s, an exceptionally racist moment in Hollywood history… and not a good moment for women in the industry, either.

From the standpoint of craft, the film is undeniably glorious. But in this time of political fervor driving Hollywood even more to give impassioned speeches for inclusiveness and equality, the favoritism toward La La Land is off-key.

Staring at the rafters, waving at stars (December favorites!)

December irks me with all the chaos it creates in my agenda, and yet it thrills me because I enjoy the holiday season, and it’s my birthday month. I had adventures: I went to a party and consequently began my fight against PTSD-related claustrophobia (attempting to close myself inside a coffin-like tank filled with water, aka sensory deprivation tank). I simplified my life by switching my glasses lenses to progressives, and I actually like them because lo, this time they were done right. We saw three good movies, two of which I included in the Favorites list below. I had a weekend to myself (when Callaghan went out of town) during which I went alone to watch an exciting and intense UFC fight card (which included Urijah Faber’s last fight!). I had lunch dates with a few dear friends, one of whom introduced me to a tantalizing cuisine I’d never tried before (Malaysian). I met some good people. December ended with Callaghan’s sister and her two boys coming to visit (they’re still here), and that’s been fun, beginning with the fact that Christmas + kids = Good Times. And on the penultimate day of the month and of the year, UFC 207 happened. We left the sports bar on a thrilling high note, especially because of our girl Amanda Nunes (still the champ)! To say that the year ended on a bang is an understatement.

Also, I ended up getting a decent amount of writing done.

December had its trials and tribulations, too, because that’s how life works… everything can’t be all good all the time. On the not good side, Cita has been struggling to heal all month, and we’ve been struggling to help her. She’s a battle-scarred mess with wounds that aren’t healing. She’s been to the vet numerous times. She’s in convalescence and being a very good sport about it. I’ve never seen such a fearless and stoic cat (who talks trash, but can’t fight her way out of a paper bag). Loving and affectionate throughout it all, Cita is a walking contradiction with tremendous heart, and we wouldn’t have her any other way. We just need to get her healed. The next step will be, once again, to attempt to integrate her into the household with Nenette.

Getting on with the list of little things! December favorites:

 

1). Hacksaw Ridge (film)

 

thatasianlookingchick-com-hacksawridge

 

Hacksaw Ridge is an important film, an excellent film. I never thought I’d say this, but thank you, Mel Gibson. The man did indeed create a film to bring to our attention the heroism of a young man who literally dodged bullets unarmed while rescuing others in the bloodiest battle against the Japanese in WWII. This is a true story, and it is unforgettable.

 

2). Nocturnal Animals (film)

 

thatasianlookingchick-com-nocturnalanimals

 

 

Nocturnal Animals is a film written and directed by Tom Ford. Tom Ford as in fashion design. Tom Ford as in Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent. Considering this, we shouldn’t be surprised that every scene in Nocturnal Animals is a vision of artistry; Ford’s eye and talent for design translates magnificently to the medium of film. This isn’t his first film – it’s his second – but it’s the first that I’ve seen, and I admit that I wasn’t expecting to leave the theater quite so impressed.

As in Hacksaw Ridge, the acting in Nocturnal Animals is first-rate, as well. It’s always great when you go to the movies and find that you made an awesome choice.

The third film we saw was Arrival, which was also outstanding. The extraordinary Amy Adams once again! She stars in Nocturnal Animals, too.

December was a great month for movies.

 

3). Samurai “Strength” print (original art by David Lozeau).

 

The Fyne Art of David Lozeau - Strength (Samurai series)

The Fyne Art of David Lozeau: Strength (Samurai series) – signed by the artist

 

I reconnected with my biological mother in December (such a month!), who reminded me again of our Samurai ancestry. With that in mind, Callaghan bought me this print for my birthday: a portrait of one of my ancestors, haha! Seriously, though, I love this badass painting, and I love David Lozeau’s art, in general. Visit his site and feast your eyes.

davidlozeau dot com

 

4). The Body Shop Frosted Berries (holiday limited edition 2016) body butter.

 

The Body Shop Frosted Berries (holiday limited edition 2016) body butter

The Body Shop Frosted Berries (holiday limited edition 2016) body butter

 

This year’s holiday limited edition fragrance at The Body Shop is Frosted Berries… mostly cranberries “from North America.” (TBS is an English company; it’s funny to see what foreigners consider to be exotic on our side of the pond.) This scent is lovely. I stocked up.

 

5). The Body Shop Vitamin E Overnight Serum-In-Oil.

 

The Body Shop Vitamin E Overnight Serum-In-Oil

The Body Shop Vitamin E Overnight Serum-In-Oil

 

I was eager to try this serum, and I’m glad that I did. My skin loves it. I put it on after I cleanse my face at night… this first, then eye cream, then night cream. I’ve always layered products on my face in both my morning and nighttime skin care routines, and this serum in oil is a wonderful base layer for the night. Its scent is lovely and light, too.

 

6). The Body Shop Rainforest Radiance hair butter.

 

The Body Shop Rainforest Radiance hair butter

The Body Shop Rainforest Radiance hair butter

 

More from The Body Shop! I discovered their hair butter, and a wonderful discovery, it was. I’m always looking for ways to smooth out my hair (which can never decide if it’s straight Japanese hair or curly ginger English hair). My hair is thin and fly-away and just plain frazzled these days, and this product has been helping.

 

7). e.l.f. Mad for Matte eyeshadow palette.

 

e.l.f. Mad for Matte eyeshadow palette

e.l.f. Mad for Matte eyeshadow palette

 

I don’t know how e.l.f. does it. They create gorgeous, high-quality make-up that’s not tested on animals, and they sell it at unbelievably affordable prices. This Mad for Matte eyeshadow palette is only ten bucks. It’s my new favorite.

 

8). Urban Decay Perversion mascara.

 

Urban Decay Perversion mascara

Urban Decay Perversion mascara

 

Urban Decay is the only high-end, cruelty-free cosmetic brand whose products I use (most of the stuff I put on my face is from e.l.f.). In December, I started using their Perversion mascara, and I’m liking it a lot. I can’t even remember now why I got it, since the e.l.f. mascara I’d been using had been a favorite of mine for months. For whatever reason, this higher-end mascara got into my makeup bag, and it’s luscious.

 

9). Trader Joe’s multi-grain sourdough (with sunflower and sesame seed) bread.

 

Trader Joe's multi-grain sourdough bread

Trader Joe’s multi-grain sourdough bread

 

I’ve found my new favorite sourdough bread! It’s at Trader Joe’s! This multi-grain sourdough with sunflower and sesame seeds is delicious! [/exclamation points] If you’re a fan of sourdough bread – and if you’re lucky enough to have Trader Joe’s in your state – I recommend that you run out right now and grab a loaf or three. You can thank me later.

 

10). Tofurky pizza with “pepproni” & mushrooms.

 

Tofurky pizza (pepproni and mushroom)

Tofurky pizza (pepproni and mushroom)

 

Because there are always those days where it feels like a good idea to turn on the oven and throw in a frozen, processed-all-to-hell pizza. This one is vegan, of course. It also happens to be gluten-free, which I usually don’t like. It’s good. It’s really good. Pricey, but good! It’s an expensive junky treat, and I love it.

That’s it for December! I hope your new year is off to a great start!

Callaghan is designing clowns and I don’t know what to do.

Heading into off-season at the amusement parks, Callaghan’s evenings of late have been filled with lots of freelance work. He hung onto a few of his European amusement park clients when he accepted his position as a motorcycle designer, because why not? It’s feast or famine in that industry. He’d only be swamped a few months out of the year.

Now that American Halloween hype has started to gain traction in France, French theme parks want a piece of it in a more major way. So they’ve asked Callaghan to design some clown attractions… because you can’t have spooky, ooky Halloween décor without clowns, of course. If there’s one thing the French have picked up on in their Halloween education, it’s that clowns are essential elements of the fear factor.

Even better, some of this Halloween-inspired design will remain a permanent fixture, so visitors can enjoy the park’s creepy side no matter when they go. Here’s Callaghan’s first design, a rough draft of a horror fun-house-type attraction (with mirrors inside):

 

Clown mirror house of horror (original design by Callaghan)

Clown mirror house of horror (original design by Callaghan)

 

You have to have clowns with wide open mouths as entrances, you know.

And there will be more. Oh yes. I’m already imagining waking up at night, shuffling into the kitchen for a glass of water, and noticing a dim screen-light casting vague shadows on the wall. I see that it’s coming from Callaghan’s office. I go in and find that his computer has turned itself on. The clown file is displayed, and it’s flickering.

Thanks, Parc St. Paul. And Festyland (You mean FESTY THE CLOWN-land, I said to Callaghan when he told me the park’s name), and thank you, Parc du Bocasse.

Here’s a draft of his Parc du Bocasse poster, featuring the bee mascot he’s been creating for years:

 

Buzzy (the bee) the Vampire (original art by Callaghan)

Buzzy (the bee) the Vampire (original art by Callaghan)

 

He loved my idea of designing a vampire version of the bee. Buzzy the Vampire is made of awesome because Callaghan’s art is kick-ass. It’s great no matter the subject. Even clowns.

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.

 

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!

Throw-back poem: “A Garden to Tour”

Some of you have noticed that I haven’t posted haiku or other poetry in a while, and you’ve asked about it. Well, a few months ago, I decided to discontinue posting new poems here. Since you asked, though, I’ve got a throw-back to share today. From 17 years ago.

17 years. That is insane. The passage of time is just… creepy.

Right.

So I dug through ancient history and unearthed this poem. It was my first publication, published under my former name. I blacked out the name to protect the innocent.

A note on that: Several publications later, I married my X and took his name, then proceeded to publish more stuff under the new name. When I married Callaghan, one of my MFA professors strongly advised me to keep the name I had because of the publications (especially since one of them was major). There’s the answer, for those of you wondering why I never took Callaghan’s name.

My style has gradually taken new shape in the last 17 years, but even this poem was more narrative (I don’t at all mean that in a pejorative way!) than typical poems I was writing at the time. I do like this poem.

Have at it.

“A Garden to Tour”

 

["A Garden to Tour" Kristi (now Garboushian) cimarron review fall 1999]

[“A Garden to Tour” Kristi (now Garboushian) cimarron review fall 1999]

Backyard hibiscus who didn't make it.

Backyard hibiscus who didn’t make it.