Life lessons. (About learning the ukulele…)

I went to a ukulele lesson last week.

In the following days, I admitted to myself that the ukulele isn’t what I should be learning. The lesson was fun, the teacher was excellent, but I was a student who wasn’t a fan of the ukulele – the instrument itself, or the sound that it makes, or the music commonly played on it. I realized that I was in the wrong place, and it wasn’t fair to the teacher or to a potential student who could fill my time slot.

Passion fuels perseverance over a learning curve. I was happy to be at my lesson; I left feeling determined to practice, but once at home, it was a different story. I had no desire to practice, and when I sat down to do it, anyway, I found that practicing with a lack of interest is difficult. I’d had this idea that I wanted to learn the ukulele, but that wasn’t enough. Sometimes, an idea isn’t enough.

I don’t love the ukulele.

If not passion, navigating a learning curve requires necessity, I think… necessity as in you have to learn it because it’s a job requirement, or for some other practical reason, or your life depends on it, like someone’s holding a knife to your throat saying learn it or else.

There has to be a compelling reason to allocate time to the effort. Rather than passion or necessity, my reasons for starting ukulele lessons came down to sentimentality and a desire to do music again… emotional, general reasons that had nothing to do with the ukulele.

I hate to let anyone down. Some people had great expectations of me. For instance, I have a friend who’s going to be extremely disappointed that I won’t be bringing my ukulele to the gym to play “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” during Body Pump in place of the workout tracklist, as he’d expressed his eager anticipation of my obliging.

Callaghan couldn’t appreciate this “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” gym scenario when I told him about it, because he didn’t know the song, he said. I went to YouTube to find it for him. I then learned that “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” was featured in the horror movie Insidious, which I thought was fitting because I know if I heard Tiny Tim singing “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” in my house in the middle of the night, I’d be horrified, too. I can see how a demon would choose “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” as his entrance song through the gates of hell, or whatever it was going on there…

 

 

[Aside: I would love to see a boxer or an MMA fighter walking out to “Tiptoe Through the Tulips.”]

I don’t really remember Insidious, by the way. The story didn’t stick with me, and I didn’t think it was scary. It’s safe to say that going to bed with “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” in my head that night was scarier than Insidious.  

But I digress.

I’m sorry that there will be no tiptoeing through the tulips during Body Pump or anywhere else. I didn’t intend for my endeavor to be a mere dalliance, though I did go in with a “try it out and see” attitude.

My instructor was awesome, though! If any of you locals are looking for a teacher of string instruments, let me know, and I’ll gladly share his contact info.

I will say that this experience intensified my desire to do music again. Any learning curve would be a fun challenge if I were passionate about the instrument. I know exactly which instrument that would be, but it’s not worth mentioning here, because it’s unlikely that I’ll get one.

All of this said, I still have great affection for my ukulele. Mom gave it to me; it was hers. It gives me joy just being here. I’m keeping it.

 

The ukulele that came home with us.

 

Getting rid of music? (Minimalism, post 10.)

After I last talked to you on Thursday, I went on an unexpected minimalism sweep, and I mean a major one this time… maybe the second-biggest anti-haul since my initial one. Three days of on-and-off plundering later, I took the spoils to be donated.

[Sidenote and speaking of my last post: I read it again later that day (the Geronimo post), and I found a typo (a missing ‘s’, I believe). I went in and fixed it. Please do let me know if you see typos or other errors in my writing! Don’t be shy. It’s like if I have something green stuck in my teeth, I’d rather someone point it out to me than allow me to go around talking to another hundred+ people like that. Haha.]

I didn’t plan this latest minimalism undertaking. You know… accomplishment in itself feels amazing, but unexpected accomplishment adds an extra kick of satisfaction. This time, I had no mercy. I slashed my sock drawer in half, when up until now I’d maintained that I wouldn’t go there. This progress suggests that my next major sweep might very well include – gasp – books. Could I possibly get to a point where I can decide which books to donate?

While going through the closet in the guest bedroom, I re-encountered my collection of music books, which largely define my childhood. I found Hannon and Czerny exercise books; instructional book series; rhythm and timing workbooks; collections of works by specific composers; collections of popular hit music from the 70’s and 80’s; loads of sheet music (popular, classical, and the blues); holiday music of several different cultures; and my practice notebooks going back to my very first day of piano lessons. Even my violin instructional book is in there! I took violin for six months before my school lost the program and the lessons stopped. My parents got a piano, and I picked up my music studies from there. I was a lucky kid. An excellent piano teacher came to the house once a week for the next nine years; she basically watched me grow up.

My first piano lesson was on November 14, 1978. It’s written on the first page of my first lesson notebook. Just the sight of my teacher’s handwriting brings back memories. The date of each lesson. Reminders to trim my nails (at the top of each entry, sometimes in all caps and with multiple exclamation points – my piano teacher invented screaming in all caps). The practice time charts she drew every week (for me to write in the time I’d spent practicing each day. “30 minutes minimum!!”) And her assignments for the week, numbered in order of priority.

There’s no reason to keep the music with me, but trashing it is unthinkable… at the moment, at least. There was nothing to decide on Saturday. Instead, I sat down and spent some time looking through the material. I’m not even sure that some of it still exists. For instance, are Wesley Schaum rhythm and timing workbooks still in print? Do music students learn rhythm and timing from them anymore? The Schaum workbooks I have were published in 1969 and 1970. They cost $3.00 each.

The memories of this homework, guys. Book Three, Lesson 15: Counting with Ties and Slurs. “On the staffs below, some of the measure bar lines are missing. Draw in bar lines where necessary to make the proper number of counts in each measure. Then write in the counting on the dotted lines (include the word ‘and’ where necessary).”

 

From Wesley Schaum’s Rhythm Workbook, Book Three.

 

It’s also interesting to see the evolution of my penmanship in the way I wrote my name at the top of each page. (By the way, is penmanship even a part of grade-school curriculum anymore?)

It’s possible that I’ll be back one day to report that I’ve thinned my bookshelves, but it may be longer than that before I start dismantling my music collection. Most of it would have to go into the recycling. Stuff like my completed rhythm and timing workbooks? Useless to others. I’m not sure that anyone would want my sheet music with my teacher’s comments in the margins, either, not to mention the stickers I’d chosen for each piece I’d mastered. That was an interesting evolution to observe, too, how the award stickers got less and less babyish as time went on.

I don’t know. I might do this dirty work one day, or it might be up to someone else to dump the music after I die. It’s hard to imagine minimalizing music when it’s printed on paper. Paper is not technology that becomes obsolete.

Writing Q and A: habits, music, status. (Writing updates!)

My last writing update post was on 30 June, so it’s time for another one, I reckon!

Every writer’s habits and rituals are personal, right? And, for many of us, in flux. Things flow and evolve. We go with it.

I still wish I was a writer who could stick to a schedule. The best I can do – more importantly, what works for me – is to protect my optimal writing time. Currently, that’s one full weekday (Mondays) + all early mornings. The rest of the time is for flexible writing, meaning, I can write around going to the gym Tuesday-Saturday, as well as occasional appointments, errands, and lunches.

At this point, there’s never a day that I don’t write at all. I write something every. single. day.

Speaking of which! My Tuesday/Friday blog-posting time here in TALC has officially changed: I’m now posting within the mid-morning to noonish window.

With all of the above, I’ve started off this mini writing Q&A. I’m happy to answer some of these recurring questions:

Q: Can you multi-task while writing?

A: It depends. The deeper I get into a writing session, the more scarce I am on social media. When I’m in a “deep sleep” stage of writing, I’m completely incommunicado.

I can’t be off-line, though, because I refer to the dictionary, and I’m always researching something or another.

Q: Do you listen to music while writing?

A: Not usually, but sometimes.

When I started working on this novel, I’d listen to certain songs to invoke a memory of a time. I haven’t done that for a while. Now, I can write with music playing on a low volume, choosing music that creates a background soundscape.

A current favorite is by Rachel’s: “To Rest Near to You.” It’s moody and eerie with voices whispering “I thought the sea.”

It’s perfect for this last stretch of the novel.

Other good background songs of the moment: “With More Air Than Words,” “Night at Sea,” and “Letters Home” (Also by Rachel’s, from their 1996 album The Sea and the Bells.)

I wish I could provide you with “To Rest Near to You,” but I get my music from Soundcloud, and you have to have a Soundcloud GO+ account in order to hear that entire Rachel’s album. Here’s their song “Stark Sea,” though, also on my current writing playlist:

 

 

I like this sort of music while I’m writing. It’s atmospheric without distracting my creative brain cells with melody that wants following.

And when I say I play the pieces with the volume down low, I mean very low. The planes taking off and landing at Sky Harbor are louder.

Q: Do you take breaks?

A: Yes. Many. I have to stop often in order to put distance between what I’ve written and what’s in my head from having written it.

There’s actually a pattern: on an average day, I go through three writing stages and two break stages, beginning and ending with writing. (I take smaller breaks within the writing stages, usually to eat. In the afternoons, I eat often.)

Q: Distractions?

A: I do get up to wander around the house. I have to unfold myself from the floor every once in a while.

Incidentally, I have Nenette, who is not a distraction. She’s the opposite of a distraction. She puts her nose on my forehead to transmit inspiration.

 

Nenette in her crow’s nest tree in the corner of my office.

 

These days, Nenette is apt to sleep on the floor next to me while I’m writing, but she still spends time up on her crow’s nest.

Q: Current project stage and status?

A: I’ve reached, as noted earlier, the final stretch.

Things are accelerating. That doesn’t mean that my writing’s accelerating, though. I have to focus now more than ever in order to control the pace and manner of unraveling.

As for current status, my word court at present is 56,952. My goal word count continues to be a moving target, so I’m just going to say that I’m between 80% and 90% finished.

That’s it for the monthly update! Thank you all for reading, once again. Happy Friday… or whatever day it is when you read this. =)

It’s not a rag. It’s KSJO. (Rock radio!)

The other day, to my horror, a certain t-shirt of mine accidentally got mixed up in the laundry. My horror only lasted for half a second, though, because that was how long it took to rush over and verify that the shirt was still in one piece.

It’s a rock radio t-shirt from my favorite radio station of the 80’s: 92.3 KSJO, a San Jose station that broadcasted hard rock throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. I grew up in San Jose. I’ve had this t-shirt since I was 17. It’s 31 years old, and it’s the only wardrobe piece I’ve carried around with me wherever I’ve lived over the last three decades.

As you may remember, I have a hard time letting go of favorite articles of clothing. I hang onto them until they’re quite literally falling apart.

I didn’t recognize the shirt in the laundry basket, at first. My eyes passed over the limp and faded piece of black fabric, and I thought, which rag is that? I didn’t know we had a black rag…??

Then, in that half-second of horror, I realized it was the shirt. My precious. I hadn’t washed it for years because I didn’t think it would survive another round in the laundry, and now here it was, in the laundry, washed and dried. And lo! It made it through. And now it’s clean, which is a good thing, anyway.

I’ve long since stopped wearing this t-shirt, though it’s (miraculously) still wearable. On the verge of disintegration, but wearable. I did take it out of retirement momentarily for the sake of this post, though, so you can see the old-school glory of this now-defunct rock radio station:

 

92.3 KSJO t-shirt, c. 1986

 

This was the station’s classic logo. I had bumper stickers with this logo, too, which I plastered onto my binders. I also had the bumper stickers featuring that one red, white, and blue KSJO logo that had the “S” drawn as the AC/DC lightning bolt. (I loved that one. AC/DC was my first favorite rock band.)

I listened to KSJO’s rival station, too – 98.5 KOME (I also had KOME stickers) – but to this day, I have this shirt. This was the shirt that came with me when I left home at 18.

I haven’t always treated it well. I cut out its neckline, as I was in the habit of doing to all of my t-shirts. I wore it relentlessly and washed it hundreds of times. It lived in boxes for long periods of time. It’s full of holes, ripped and torn, faded and so thin in some places, it’s practically see-through. It’s worn-out and falling apart.

It’s priceless. The shirt rocks on.

 

Rest in Peace, Chris Cornell. (And Gen-X. And okayness.)

Man, I’m in a dark and strange mood this morning. I shouldn’t be. It’s gorgeous out there.

I live in Arizona and it’s May 19 and we’ve been sleeping with the windows open. It’s been like this for almost two weeks. The bedroom air is slightly chilly in the morning, so I reach for a light robe. This bizarre behavior can only mean one thing: we’re entering a new Ice Age.

It’s not just at night, either. After I get up, I go around the house and open one or two other windows and the front door, and leave them open for a good half-day, if not longer. I open them again in the evenings. This, my friends in other places, is paradise. We desert-dwellers love the desert, but we also love an unseasonably cool breeze through our security screen doors.

For posterity, here’s me this morning:

 

May 19, 2017 – in a light sweatshirt. In Arizona.

 

At the same time, awful things have been happening in the world, including the recent and tragic departure of Chris Cornell, whose widespread fame was launched with his Seattle grunge band Soundgarden. His death was not only shocking and sad, but also somewhat alarming for we “lost ones” of Generation X.

When you spend your childhood in the 70’s, your teens in the 80’s, and your twenties in the 90’s –and when the 90’s was your favorite decade, and Ten is one of your all-time favorite albums – the untimely deaths of icons like Kurt Cobain and Chris Cornell are sobering. It makes you want to watch Singles (older Gen-Xers), Reality Bites (younger Gen-Xers), and Office Space all day, kicked back on the couch eating chips and not looking for a job, all of us stereotypical, slovenly losers and slackers of Generation X.

Should I complete my own stereotype as a Gen-X writer and install a coffee pot on my desk?

Should I stare off into space and then write a letter? (“Dear Eddie Vedder: please don’t.”)

But I’m lucky. My depression is under control. I’m okay. We’re okay. Everything is okay. Everything is fine, despite global shenanigans at the highest levels of power, shenanigans of which there’s no need to speak. It’s like that one meme… that one where the dog is sitting in a house that’s burning down around him, and then he perks up and says, “This is fine.”

That’s a sign of our times, though, isn’t it? “Okay” and “fine” have long since been code for “things aren’t exactly hunky-dory.”  

“How are you?”

“I’m okay.”

“JUST okay?”

Commence questioning all of your life choices as you’re prompted to consider why you said just “okay.” You can’t be okay if you say you’re okay, because okay isn’t good enough. To tell the well-meaning inquirer that you’re okay is to send yourself an invitation to spill all of your not-okayness right there in the office hallway on your way to the water cooler.

Is this the product of a society defined by extremes? If we’re not flying high on the vaporous joy of life at all times, then something is wrong?

I’ll take “okay.”

Maybe this entire post was a sort of tangent. Maybe I just wanted to say, Rest in Peace, Chris Cornell.

 

 

“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.

End of month writing updates!

Whoa. This week went fast. That’s what happens when you spend half of it anticipating the next episode of American Horror Story: Roanoke.

That aside, I’ve got another writing progress post for you today, in brief. Things are going well!

The current picture is, I now have:

–27% of the project done, if its length is going to end up in the neighborhood I’m thinking. Take that for what it’s worth, like I am; honestly, I don’t think I’ll know what the book’s length will be until I write the last word. I didn’t get ahead much this week in terms of word count, but I got a lot done in terms of the non-writing writing work.

–Scrivener in my toolbox, once again. Since my last update here, I’ve figured out how Scrivener can serve me, and it’s doing a bang-up job.

–Tobacco Cedar candle scent in my writing area, because it’s fall (single double-digit temps!), and a masculine fragrance redolent of cooler weather gets me into the right mood for this project.

–Russian music I gleaned from Soundcloud and collected onto a playlist. This is a continuing process that I’m enjoying quite a bit. Again, it’s strategic.

–New décor in my writing area, also to the end of setting me in the right head-space: a). a small painting of Jesus (Orthodox), which I dug out of a box in the back of a closet – an ex-girlfriend of Callaghan’s brought it back to him from Romania years ago, and b) my The Americans poster that Callaghan ordered for me a while back, which I’ve finally framed.

–Speaking of writing area, I’m still using the dining room. (Dining room? What dining room?)

 

Desk detail.

Desk detail.

 

The table at which we used to eat continues to hold my laptop and its paraphernalia, along with odds and ends that get me through the day, such as eye drops, lip balm, nail clippers, and toothpicks. Two glasses of water, one for me, and one for Nenette… because if there is a cat, she will end up on your desk and try to drink your water no matter what, so you might as well preemptively provide her with her own. Callaghan is being wonderfully understanding about all of this. I dare say he’s even digging it.

Thus, I’m taking creeping steps toward completion. I don’t foresee that I’ll feel the need to engage in this level of atmosphere construction when I undertake my next project. This current work happens to be a period piece, so the props are helpful.

That’s it for now. Happy Friday!

On our loss of Prince. On Ethan 103’s release of “Punk Rock Fashion Police.”

At first, I was only going to write about a local punk rock band in celebration of their new song. Then Prince died, and I wanted to say a word about that… but I didn’t know where to begin. I don’t know where to begin. There is, in fact, nowhere to begin. Nothing I could say would be enough.

It’s unnecessary and not enough to remark that once again, we’re in mourning for an icon, dazed by the loss of another staggering talent. It’s only been three months since we mourned for David Bowie.

What would be the point of writing anything more than, “Like everyone, I’m shocked and dismayed at the news of Prince’s sudden death. May he rest in peace.” What am I going to do, blog about my shock and dismay every time we lose a brilliant genius of a musical artist? At the rate it’s been going, I’d have to change the title of my blog to That Asian-Looking Chick Who Only Blogs About Pop Culture Icons’ Deaths. No one wants to read that.

Moreover, there are countless beautiful tributes and eulogies out there more poignant and well-said than anything I could write.

Michael Jackson is gone. Prince is gone. The last one standing out of that particular holy trinity of iconic artists (which owned the radio during my teen years in the 80’s) is Madonna. (Maybe I’ll never have to consider writing about her death, because maybe she’ll outlive us all.)

Prince has been everywhere. Sinéad O’Connor made the song “Nothing Compares 2 U” famous, but Prince wrote it. I never forgot that, because my appreciation for O’Connor started with that song, as I’m sure it did for many of us.

So it’s in the climate of our purple-hued sorrow that I want to highlight this fantastic local Arizona band, Ethan 103, in celebration of their new song, “Punk Rock Fashion Police” – right here in this same post. Because Prince would likely appreciate the correlation. I don’t think he’d want us to stop celebrating music that celebrates individualism, even for a minute. Prince was individualism. David Bowie and Prince were among the few whose art helped to make individualism acceptable, starting with their music.

Arizona Native punk rock band Ethan 103 released “Punk Rock Fashion Police” on Monday, an event that those of us who know these guys have been anticipating for months.

 

Caption from Facebook: "Newly recorded song from Ethan 103 titled "Punk Rock Fashion Police" to be played tonight on AZ 98 KUPD (97.9) FM on the Go Punk Yourself radio airwaves hosted by Craven Moorehead. Tune in 7pm-9pm. Www.ethan103.com as official music video releases tomorrow 4/18/2016."

Caption from Facebook: “Newly recorded song from Ethan 103 titled “Punk Rock Fashion Police” to be played tonight on AZ 98 KUPD (97.9) FM on the Go Punk Yourself radio airwaves hosted by Craven Moorehead. Tune in 7pm-9pm. Www.ethan103.com as official music video releases tomorrow 4/18/2016.”

 

Read the review (written by Yours Truly) and watch the video here:

Video – Punk Rock Fashion Police

“Ethan 103 Incinerates the Scene with new song ‘Punk Rock Fashion Police’.” Indeed, they do. And whether or not Prince was a fan of punk rock, I like to think that he would dig the spirit of this song.

On Keith Emerson, who hit all the high notes.

Honestly, I don’t feel my age, but just in case we older Gen-Xer’s need a reality check with which to pay our AARP memberships, our music icons have been biting the dust at a startling rate. In the last few months, we’ve lost Lemmy Kilmister and David Bowie… and also Glenn Frey, who co-wrote one of my favorite ballads, “Desperado,” a song that’s all the more haunting now.

But Keith Emerson, who was to keyboards what Hendrix was to guitar, died last week, and I’ve been thinking about him since then. For those who may not be familiar with Emerson and his gifts, he was a preternaturally talented musician… a music composer, synthesizer artist, and inarguably one of the best keyboardists in the history of keyboards. Emerson’s was the death that resonated with me as a loss I felt on a personal level.

 

Keith Emerson (photo from likesuccessdotcom)

Keith Emerson (photo from likesuccessdotcom)

 

This is going to be redundant for you FaceBook friends who’ve already seen this post, this clumsy attempt at expressing myself in the moment, but I’m pasting it here rather than rewriting it, or writing something different:

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-OnKeithEmerson

 

 

 

Also, lest we forget the range of Emerson’s talent, here’s his Piano Concerto No. 1:

 

 

Rest In Peace, Keith Emerson.

What I’m Digging Right Now – August Favorites

It’s the first of September, and I can already feel a change in the quality of the atmosphere, though very slightly. I love the energy boost I always feel at this time of the year! Here are some of the Little Things that made big impressions in my little world in August:

 

1). Soundcloud.

 

LOVE.

LOVE.

 

I created a Soundcloud account toward the end of June, and it’s been one of my favorite new things of the summer. In August, I bumped up my focus on working out, which made me appreciate Soundcloud even more. The playlist I created for training reflects the fact that the gyms where I’d formally trained mostly played gangsta rap/hip hop, with some alternative metal thrown in (though my playlist contains more of the former). I threw in some dubstep because that’s also amazing for me in a training scenario. I find any kind of metal to be great workout fuel, too, but I prefer working out with rap and dubstep because my mind has this strange ability to convert them to background noise when I want it to. (For that same reason, I can also listen to rap and dubstep while working at work, which I often do.)

Check out my Soundcloud stream if you’re curious about my current workout playlist.

Callaghan claims to not like rap, but he makes requests from my playlist every once in a while. Also, he sometimes bursts out singing “Bitch better have my money!” while he’s doing things around the house, because deep, deep inside, he appreciates Rihanna. (Also, he has a client who owes him money, and that song’s lyrics are perfect for the situation.)

It’s pretty hilarious.

 

2). Straight Outta Compton (film)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-StraightOuttaCompton

 

Speaking of gangsta rap!

Here’s the thing: I grew up in California in the 70’s and 80’s during the “east coast rap vs. west coast rap” era, and I remember it well. I still have some Eazy-E in my collection, and rap has always been a genre in the diverse collection of genres I love (even when I was mostly listening to EBM and industrial music, I still popped in Busta Rhymes every now and then). All of this to say, considering that Callaghan doesn’t share this cultural background (having grown up in France) and affection for the genre with me, I was pleased when, after dragging him to see Straight Outta Compton on the Saturday of its opening weekend, he emerged from the theater as moved and as impressed as I was. As I’d mentioned above while talking about Soundcloud, Callaghan claims to not like rap, but this movie impressed him probably more than any film I’ve ever seen… and that’s saying a lot. It’s just really, terribly good. Last time I checked, the momentum of this genius film hasn’t slowed down, either… Straight Outta Compton seems to be barreling straight for the Oscars. Good.

 

3). Hannibal finale.

 

Maybe the most beautiful scene I've ever viewed in a television series. (Hannibal)

Maybe the most beautiful scene I’ve ever viewed in a television series. (Hannibal)

 

Oh my goodness.

I’m not finding any words to describe the way I felt during the final moments of the exquisite series Hannibal. I was prepared to simply feel sad that it was all coming to a close, but that last scene blew our minds, it was so utterly breathtaking, so stunningly beautiful. It was everything. Everything. It may well have been the most gorgeous and gratifying ending to any series I’ve ever seen. We were sad that it ended, but we both felt like we couldn’t have asked for more.

 

4). Epic monsoon weather.

Copious, spectacular monsoon activity left August battered and drenched right up until the last minute of the month, and we loved every minute of it! (Even stepping outside this morning and finding a section of fence damaged in last night’s storm.) The magic of the desert is never more potent than it is during the late summer.

Here are some pics from one of the many (I think we’ve had five-six…?) monsoons during August:

 

A wall of dust rolling in ahead of a thunderous rain.

A wall of dust rolling in ahead of a thunderous rain.

 

Caught in a monsoon in the middle of a Target parking lot. The rain was fabulous!

Caught in a monsoon in the middle of a Target parking lot. The rain was fabulous!

 

Moving on to food!

 

5). Fresh pineapple and kiwi fruit.

 

Fresh pineapple and kiwi fruit

Fresh pineapple and kiwi fruit

 

We feasted greedily on fresh pineapple and kiwi fruits all month. It was bliss on the tongue and so fabulously refreshing… a great way to wind down summer!

 

6). KIND Healthy Grains Peanut Butter Whole Grain Clusters.

 

KIND Healthy Grains Peanut Butter Whole Grain Clusters.

KIND Healthy Grains Peanut Butter Whole Grain Clusters.

 

I was thrilled to discover this flavor of KIND granola… of course I love it because it’s peanut butter, but also, it’s high in protein and low in sugar. It’s a great new staple in our pantry.

 

7). Amy’s Pad Thai (frozen).

 

Amy's Pad Thai (frozen)

Amy’s Pad Thai (frozen)

 

You have to love being able to reach into the freezer and taking out a box of something delicious, healthy (healthier, for frozen processed food) and satisfying every once in a while. Amy’s Pad Thai is one of those things.

 

8). Deep Indian Gourmet Dal Masala Curry.

 

Deep Indian Gourmet Dal Masala Curry (frozen)

Deep Indian Gourmet Dal Masala Curry (frozen)

 

And here’s another one of those things! This frozen Dal Masala Curry makes us swoon, it’s so good. We eat it with brown jasmine rice, and it’s perfect… especially when you don’t have time to deal with food.

Here’s the one product on the list this time…

 

9). Alba Botanica Honey Mango very emollient bath & shower gel.

 

Alba Botanica Honey Mango very emollient bath & shower gel

Alba Botanica Honey Mango very emollient bath & shower gel

 

We’ve been using this body wash for months now, but I haven’t featured it in a “Favorites” post yet, so I thought I’d share it this time! I’m very happy with the cruelty-free products we started using this year. This body wash has a lovely, light scent, and it’s just as moisturizing as the Olay body wash we used to use. Score!

And finally… because some randomness is in order…

 

10). Microsoft Windows Ninja Cat Riding a Tyrannosaurus Rex laptop sticker.

 

Microsoft Windows Ninja Cat riding a T-Rex needs no caption.

Microsoft Windows Ninja Cat riding a T-Rex needs no caption.

 

I have my friend Jodi to thank for pointing me to this delightful laptop sticker.

http://www.geekwire.com/2015/microsoft-windows-ninja-cat-returns-riding-a-t-rex/

How did I never know about MS Windows Ninja Cat before? I love it on my Mac at work. Heheh.

The Breakfast Club according to Callaghan (or, the seven stages of Callaghan during The Breakfast Club).

thatasianlookingchick.com-thebreakfastclub

Last week, it suddenly came to my attention that Callaghan, who’s almost my age and therefore spent his teen years in the 80’s, like I did, had never seen the movie The Breakfast Club. It was a remarkable revelation that made me blink in wonderment. How could he have escaped The Breakfast Club? Moreover, how could I not have known that the person I’d been with for five years had never seen The Breakfast Club? I never felt any particularly intense passion for the film, but all this time, I’ve duly acknowledged it as one of the most important films of that decade. Like it or not, The Breakfast Club largely defined the pop culture landscape of the 80’s, and it just never occurred to me that anyone could be ignorant of this, even if you’re French. Being a French person in France was no excuse for not knowing The Breakfast Club, especially since the most popular movies in France at the time were other American movies such as Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T., Ghostbusters and Back to the Future. I was nonplussed.

It was like that time I found out Callaghan had never seen Fatal Attraction. I’d just assumed that anyone would get any and all references to deranged jilted lovers boiling bunnies, until a certain episode of Hart of Dixie happened and the truth came out. Callaghan may have passed the test to earn U.S. citizenship, but obviously, the test is lacking.

Anyway, last week, we were watching “The Runaway Club,” the most recent episode of Bob’s Burgers. The episode opened as a Breakfast Club parody, complete with a parody of the Simple Minds song, which instantly had me cracking up, which led to Callaghan looking at me quizzically, which led to my realization that Callaghan had no insight to the joke, which he confirmed upon being questioned. Yes, this was a grave matter, and it demanded serious questioning.

So on Saturday night, we sat down to watch The Breakfast Club. We were righting a wrong, and besides, I was curious to see how someone would react to the movie three decades after its release! (The movie came out in 1985. I graduated from high school in 1987. Callaghan graduated in 1989. There was no way he was getting out of seeing the movie once I found out he hadn’t seen it.)

Below, I’ve provided a run-down of Callaghan’s responses, which – unbeknownst to him – I recorded in real time.

Stage One: He’s bored and on the verge of falling asleep.

“Baby, so far this is extremely boring.” (Five minutes in)

(in spite of himself, he laughs at something Bender says)

Stage Two: He starts paying attention.

“Huh. She reminds me of Edward Scissorhands.” (looking at Molly Ringwald)

Molly Ringwald in The Breakfast Club on the left. Johnny Depp as Edward Scissorhands on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

Molly Ringwald in The Breakfast Club on the left. Johnny Depp as Edward Scissorhands on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

Stage Three: He accepts the reality that the whole movie takes place at the school.

“Seriously? The whole movie is about this scene?”

Stage Four: He gets drawn into it.

(laughs at something Bender does)

(laughs when Ally Sheedy throws the lunch meat in the air and it sticks to the sculpture)

“Did she just squeal?” (about a sudden, high-pitched noise made by Ally Sheedy)

Stage Five: He’s now totally into it.

(laughs at Bender crawling above the ceiling)

(laughs at Bender looking at Molly Ringwald’s crotch under the desk)

(laughs when everyone’s getting stoned)

“They made her look like Ozzy Osbourne.” (looking at Ally Sheedy)

Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club on the left. Ozzy Osbourne on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club on the left. Ozzy Osbourne on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

Stage Six: He’s now a part of it.

“Heheh, I thought exactly that!” (when Ally Sheedy says that her parents ignored her)

(laughs at Vernon saying to the janitor, “Do you think I give one rat’s ass what these kids think of me?”)

(laughs when Bender says to Molly Ringwald that a girl is only a tease if what she does get you hot)

(laughs at something Ally Sheedy says)

“Yeah, that’s the exact opposite of Bender’s.” (When Emilio Estevez describes his dad)

(laughs at something Bender says to Anthony Michael Hall, who’s talking about failing shop)

“She’s going to put her tongue up her nose!” (about Molly Ringwald, who instead applied lipstick with her bra)

“SO WHAT CAN YOU DO?” (Callaghan shouts at Bender)

Stage Seven: He becomes an astute observer.

“It’s funny that Brian is way taller than all of them.” (When the three guys are dancing to “We are Not Alone” in the dance scene in the library)

The End.

So, what have we learned from this?

Callaghan’s conclusion: “That was cool. It took a little time to go somewhere, but that was really cool. That’s a movie they could make a re-make of. I mean, watching this, of course, we know it was there. That was us in high school. Not that kids in high school today are any different, but they have phones… I mean, they’re different today. But that’s why they should do a remake. Things are different today.”

My conclusion:  I never realized before that to me, at least, Bender and Vernon are the only character-characters in the movie. In my notes, I called them “Bender” and “Vernon,” while I referred to the other actors by their actual names.

I loved the Bob’s Burgers parody, by the way, even though plot-wise, “The Runaway Club” strayed from The Breakfast Club pretty far between the opening and ending of the episode. Excellent tribute!

The Breakfast Club - dancing in the library

The Breakfast Club – dancing in the library

The dance scene parody in the end credits of Bob's Burgers "The Runaway Club"

The dance scene parody in the end credits of Bob’s Burgers “The Runaway Club”

Thank you to Callaghan for taking part in my sociological experience watching the movie with me. I know you weren’t into it at first, so I’m glad you ended up enjoying it!

On that note – Happy 30th Anniversary, The Breakfast Club! We agree that you’re basically timeless.

Today is March 6th, and this is significant.

Good morning! I have a few announcements.

One: Next week’s posts will come at you from a different time zone, as we’ll be visiting family and friends in France. I plan to post on Tuesday and Friday at around the usual time, so we’ll see how that works out. Also, I’m thinking there’ll probably be more images here than writing next week. I’m not anticipating having much time to write while we’re overseas, but I know a lot of pictures will be taken!

 

My hats from France, collecting dust on the back of a door, as black hats do.

My hats from France, collecting dust on the back of a door, as black hats do.

 

Two: Today is my brother’s birthday. Happy birthday, Bro! (Trivia: Callaghan and my brother are the same age almost exactly. They were born in the same year, 10 days apart.)

Three: Today is also the 17th anniversary of the opening day of The Big Lebowski in the United States.

LET US TAKE A MOMENT.

17 years ago today, the Coen brothers introduced Americans to The Dude. Can you believe it’s been that long? I can’t.

“The Dude abides.” That three-word quote is genius. The Dude’s paramount personality trait is being laid-back to the point of almost-apathy, but rather than being apathetic, he’s just free of constraints (especially self-imposed ones)! He does care, in his way. He teaches us how to live in moment, and how to prioritize. For example, getting thrown into a police car is secondary to the more immediate and pressing concern of the beverage in his hand that’s in danger of spilling in the process. It’s easy to see why some of The Dude’s admirers would take it upon themselves to create a religion (Dudism) after the sub-cultural icon who embodies “go with the flow” to the point where he simply abides.

I’m not cool enough to exist in a perpetual state of moment-by-moment abiding. In addition to roaches and Costco, my two legendary hang-ups, I can think of several things by which I cannot abide. In honor of the Dude, He Who Has Been Abiding for Seventeen Years Today, I will present you with those things.

I CANNOT abide by:

1). Dubbed movies.

2). Celery.

3). More than two consecutive days of overcast weather.

4). Doing the ginga to Thai music instead of to Afro-Brazilian capoeira music. (This is my only Les Mills annoyance. Would it be so hard to throw a birembau into that Body Combat music tracklist, Les Mills?)

5). The little “silica” packets you find in such things as new bags and outerwear pockets.

And on that note, I’ll wish you a Happy Friday!

What I’m Digging Right Now – January Favorites

January is over. The Super Bowl happened on Sunday, and it was here in the Valley, aka Phoenix metro. My impulse was to barricade myself inside the house and hide from the madness, since I wasn’t a passionate fan of either team. Callaghan’s impulse was to run out into the insanity and embrace it, though he wasn’t rooting for anyone in particular, either. We’re textbook introvert and extroverts, respectively. Happily, he was able to meet up with our neighbor friends, and they walked down the street to Casey Moore’s to watch the game in public. Meanwhile, I put on some shorts and a t-shirt and headed to the garage to work out. Everyone was happy!

Well, not everyone was happy. What a game. I did keep up with it online, and man, that was one weird Super Bowl.

At any rate, it’s over now, and we can all resume life as normal (including our balmy, sunny winter weather, which went on strike during Super Bowl week), and I’m sitting down to write about my January Favorites.

I noted so many awesome “little things” throughout January, it was hard to narrow down the list! The month started out on a high note when we went to check out a blues band at the Rhythm Room. Also, in keeping with one of my resolutions, I acquired a lot of new (and amazingly inexpensive) cosmetic-type products that weren’t tested on animals. I’m not listing them here today, though… I’ll probably talk about one or two things each month, starting next time.

That said, here’s my first Monthly Favorites list of 2015!

Might as well start with entertainment…

1). Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part I (film)

thatasianlookingchick.com-hungergamesmockingjaypart1

We weren’t sure what to expect, since we’d heard rumors that this third installment in the Hunger Games film series wasn’t the greatest, so we were happily surprised to find that it was good. It was very good.  Mockingjay, Part I turned out to be our favorite Hunger Games movie yet! I found it to be more lavish, dark and driven than the first and second films, and where I’d left the previous one feeling strangely like I’d been force-fed, I left Mockingjay eager for more. Katniss’ “Hanging Tree” song still comes back to me with its quiet, eerie magic every once in a while. I loved Jennifer Lawrence singing that song. I loved the whole movie. I thought it was fabulous, and I would see it again!

2). American Sniper (film)

thatasianlookingchick.com-americansniper

Obviously I appreciated this film – it’s on this list – but if you haven’t already read the details of my response, you can read them here, if you’d like.

3). Broad City (T.V. series)

thatasianlookingchick.com-broadcity

We took a chance on this series one night when we were in the mood for something funny and there were no new episodes of Bob’s Burgers.

Broad City caught us off-guard with its irreverence, absurdity and off-beat brand of humor… it’s actually kind of like bro humor, but with girls instead of guys. We thought a lot of it was hilarious, but even during the inevitable humorous moments that didn’t quite do it for us, we found ourselves unable to look away. It was really like watching a train wreck… a train wreck you keep returning to because it’s just such a train wreck of a train wreck… and when you finally arrive at “The Last Supper” – the season one finale – you see a very familiar face and realize that it’s Amy Poehler, and then you find out that she was behind that train a lot of the time, and suddenly, it all makes sense.

If you like to watch train wrecks that are often very funny, you should check out Broad City. It’s disconcertingly entertaining watching how these broads extricate themselves from the ridiculous, mundane little situations they manage to get themselves into. We haven’t started watching season two yet. There are three episodes so far, so we should get on it!

4). The Affair (T.V. series)

thatasianlookingchick.com-theaffair

We looked at each other in confusion when Ruth Wilson, a relatively unknown actress, came out of nowhere and stole the Best Actress in a Drama (T.V. series) Golden Globe award from Claire Danes (Homeland), Robin Wright (House of Cards) and Juliana Margulies (The Good Wife), phenomenal actresses from three of our favorite, phenomenal series… so we decided to start watching The Affair, which we’d never even heard of (it nabbed several other nominations and awards, as well).

By the end of the first episode, it was clear what the fuss was all about. We felt like we’d been a part of something more involved and multi-textured than a typical first episode of the first season of a new dramatic series. The two main characters tell a detective their versions of the same story, in parallel. It’s ingenious. Now we’re down to the last two episodes, and we’re just about out of breath, we’re so caught up and baffled. Who is the killer? Why would someone want to murder that particular person? 

We’ll know tonight. It can’t come soon enough!

For us, The Affair joins a growing list of television series that exemplify how T.V. has become a high art form. Also, Ruth Wilson’s talent is stunning, and she soundly deserved that Golden Globe, if you ask me. The Affair is like… imagine if True Detective and The Killing were to hook up and spawn a psychologically intricate love child with its parents’ haunting, poetic complexity, atmosphere and energy. That would be The Affair.

Also, may I just say that Fiona Apple’s theme song with the accompanying images at the beginning of each episode is downright chilling, and it’s just as compelling as the story, itself? In fact, the further we get in the series, the more deliciously unnerving that intro becomes. I’m just so impressed with every last little detail of this series. Just… wow.

5). Alba Botanica Hawaiian Facial Cleanser Pore Purifying Pineapple Enzyme and Hawaiian Facial Scrub Pore Purifying Pineapple Enzyme.

Alba Botanica Hawaiian Facial Cleanser Pore Purifying Pineapple Enzyme  and Hawaiian Facial Scrub Pore Purifying Pineapple Enzyme.

Alba Botanica Hawaiian Facial Cleanser Pore Purifying Pineapple Enzyme
and Hawaiian Facial Scrub Pore Purifying Pineapple Enzyme.

Here are my requisite skin-care picks for January, though I’m going to keep enjoying them for a long time, no doubt! If you’ve been reading here for a while, you already know that the Alba Botanica Hawaiian 3-in-1 Clean Towelettes Deep Pore Purifying Pineapple Enzyme are my Holy Grail time-saving facial wipes when I have to wash my face in a hurry. Once I decided to go cruelty-free at the beginning of January, I picked up the facial cleanser and exfoliating scrub from the same collection. They’re just as fabulous with their fresh, faint pineapple scent and luxurious textures. The cleanser, which I use at night after removing my make-up, creates rich, soft suds. The exfoliating scrub, which I use in the morning, has granules that are fine and just abrasive enough. I love this entire line by Alba Botanica.

6). Kashi GOLEAN Crunch! Honey Almond Flax cereal.

Kashi GOLEAN Crunch! Honey Almond Flax cereal with fresh raspberries, blueberries and almond milk.

Kashi GOLEAN Crunch! Honey Almond Flax cereal with fresh raspberries, blueberries and almond milk.

I didn’t get a picture of the cereal box, but here you can kind of see the cereal beneath all the berries. So far, I haven’t met a flavor of GOLEAN cereal that I haven’t loved, but the combination of their (high-protein, high-fiber, high-omega 3 fatty acids) honey almond flax protein clusters with fresh raspberries, blueberries and almond milk is my favorite!

7). Van’s 8 Whole Grains Multigrain waffles with peanut butter and jelly.

Van's 8 Whole Grains waffles with 365 creamy peanut butter and Kroger Just Fruit (no sugar added) strawberry jam.

Van’s 8 Whole Grains waffles with 365 creamy peanut butter and Kroger Just Fruit (no sugar added) strawberry jam.

Another breakfast pick! My favorite new weekend breakfast is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich made with these Van’s waffles, 365 brand creamy peanut butter from Whole Foods, and Kroger’s “Just Fruit” (no sugar added) jam. When toasted, the waffles have that wonderful crispy-soft texture with their combination of whole wheat, oats, barley, brown rice, rye, quinoa, amaranth and millet. This is my favorite new way to eat pb&j. It is SO GOOD.

8). Trader Joe’s dark chocolate bar and dark chocolate-covered almonds.

This chocolate has real medicinal properties. I'm sure of it.

This chocolate has real medicinal properties. I’m sure of it.

My beloved Sista (we call each other that) gave me one of these dark chocolate bars from Trader Joe’s in December, so what did I do in January? Went out and bought more, of course! Then I discovered that Trader Joe’s sells their dark chocolate-covered almonds in these little bags, and now they’re my favorite treat to sneak into the movie theatre. Trader Joe’s. Trying to do us in, as per usual.

9). Garden of Eatin’ Red Hot Blues organic blue corn tortilla chips.

Garden of Eatin' Red Hot Blues, aka crack. ORGANIC crack.

Garden of Eatin’ Red Hot Blues, aka crack. ORGANIC crack.

I’ve talked about Garden of Eatin’ organic blue corn tortilla chips before, but I haven’t mentioned their Red Hot Blues version yet. I think I actually consumed more junk food in January than I did over the holidays, and it seemed like there was an open bag of these chips laying around the kitchen all month – but not the same open bag! I don’t even know how many bags of these we went through. Can I count two of the smaller bags as one large one? Also, I’d say that eating these with guacamole adds some nutritional value. Healthy fats and all, right? Right?!

10). Green New American Vegetarian hot wings.

Vegan wings from Green New American Vegetarian, one of my favorite restaurants.

Vegan wings from Green New American Vegetarian, one of my favorite restaurants.

Our friend Rebecca clued us in to the platters of vegan wings that Green (New American Vegetarian) was offering for Super Bowl Sunday. We placed our order on Saturday afternoon, picked up the platter the next day, and devoured the whole thing for lunch inside of 20 minutes. That’s right… just the two of us! But I did, as I mentioned above, get to work out in the garage later that day.

Just because something is vegan doesn’t mean it’s healthy, and I was well aware of this as we were stuffing our faces with these ridiculously delicious fake wings with the vegan ranch and chili sauces that went with them.

Okay… that’s it for my January Favorites! Have a great Tuesday. =)

So I have this ukulele.

Recently, I came into possession of a ukulele. If you know me well, you’re probably blinking your eyes to see if you read that right. You did. I have a ukulele. I’ll explain, but first, for those of you who aren’t aware, here’s the backstory:

The ukulele has always been my favorite object of playful ridicule, which I’m slightly ashamed to admit since my family is from Hawaii. It’s not that I hate the ukulele, mind you. It’s not, like, how I’m an Arizonan who hates the Kokopelli with a mad, burning passion. (True story. I cannot stand the sight of the Kokopelli.) I just find the ukulele to be hilarious. It cracks me up, and it always has. I don’t know. I can’t explain myself.

Some sample ukulele jokes:

Q: What’s the difference between a ukulele and a trampoline?

A: People take off their shoes to jump up and down on a trampoline.

 

Q: What is “perfect pitch”?

A: When you throw the ukulele into the garbage can without hitting the rim.

 

Q: What do you call a beautiful woman on a ukulele player’s arm?

A: A tattoo.

 

And my personal favorite:

A ukulele player suddenly realizes he left his vintage ukulele out in his car overnight. He rushes outside and his heart drops when he sees that his car window is broken. Fearing the worst, he peeks through the window and finds that there are now five ukuleles in his car.

 

I used to enjoy telling my family ukulele jokes like these, until I realized one day that no one was laughing at them but me. In fact, they weren’t amused, at all. They’re from Hawaii, and they take their ukes seriously.

Then, at some point in the last 15 years, I think, the ukulele suddenly got a foothold in the Indie crowd. Inexplicably, the uke love pulses on in popular culture today. The ukulele managed to assert itself in random places, from the Arrested Development theme music of the 2000’s to the Bob’s Burgers theme music of present day. I hear it all the time on YouTube. (Garfunkel & Oates, anyone?) It’s like the ukulele spawned and sent its babies from the islands to branch out like a chain of sandwich restaurants across the U.S., and now it’s the quirky and hip answer to the jazz club xylophone of the 1930’s and all the cool kids love it. It’s become a part of our cultural acoustic landscape.

Okay, whatever. I didn’t begrudge anyone their love of the ukulele when this, um, evolution took place. I still enjoyed ukulele jokes.

BUT THEN. One day, Mom told me she was doing some research so she could make an educated choice. She was excitedly preparing to undertake a new hobby. She was going to honor the roots of her Hawaiian upbringing. She was going to buy…. Yep. A ukulele.

I didn’t laugh when she told me this, because first and foremost, I thought it was awesome that Mom was planning to learn an instrument. Also, her choice of instrument made perfect sense. She was reclaiming her cultural roots in the islands, and I was happy for her. I cheered as she selected and bought her ukulele and found herself an instructor. She got her instrument and her instructor and lessons and everything all in Hawaii (my parents live there half the year).

Fast forward two years. Mom had set the ukulele down after several months of lessons, because life happened. Life picked her up and carried her down a stream to a place that did not include playing the ukulele. The ukulele was collecting dust.

When we were up there in the Yay Area (NorCal) this last Thanksgiving, she said to me, “Kris, do you want my ukulele? You’re the musical one in the family, and I don’t want to just give it to anyone!” I understood. The ukulele held great sentimental value for her, and it had been expensive… and, well, what could I do? I had never been interested in learning the ukulele, but this was a no-brainer! I couldn’t reject it, this ukulele that had meant something to Mom, and that she was now offering to me. It held sentimental value. It was special. And besides, it was lonely. I couldn’t very well leave behind an abandoned ukulele, now, could I?

Such as it was that I, a lifelong believer that the ukulele and the xylophone are tied at first-place for Most Hilarious Instrument, wound up driving from San Jose to Phoenix with a ukulele in the back seat of the car. I’m now in possession of a ukulele. It’s sitting right here next to my desk, snug in its case, along with the book of lesson sheets Mom also gave me. Furthermore, I’ve resolved to learn it, because why should the poor ukulele go from collecting dust in California to collecting dust in (way dustier) Arizona?

Looking at the instrument, I have to admit that it’s a beautiful specimen of ukulele. Mom really did her research!

 

The ukulele that came home with us.

The ukulele that came home with us.

 

It says something on the end: NALO. Is that its name? Or is it the brand? I don’t even know. I don’t know anything about ukuleles, except for bad jokes.

Long-Overdue Yoga Fix Ahead!

Since we’re still on Christmas break at my work, I’m seizing the opportunity to do something I’ve been wanting to do for a while. My schedule is pretty well packed during normal life hours, so this is what’s happening this non-normal morning: I’m going to spend 90 minutes twisting my non-flexible self into the various poses prescribed by Bikram, I’m assuming, in a room designed to accommodate the activity (heated to a high enough degree to assist your body with said positions).

This will be my first yoga class in almost 10 years, and I’m looking forward to it. I have a brand-new yoga mat that I purchased last year with earnest intentions, but have yet to use. The day has arrived!

I’m pretty sure my body’s going to hate me within 24 hours of this Bikram yoga class, and it will probably start plotting its revenge faster than you can say “shavasana.” I’m expecting it, hence my plan to pick up some Epsom salts on my way home. I already have the essential oils I’m going to add to the hot bath I’ll take tonight. I just want to be able to give 100% in Body Combat class tomorrow morning, and being able to walk without soreness would help with that. I’m counting on this yoga class to make me feel muscles I’d forgotten I had. Bring it.

Although… here’s a little secret… in the past, I’ve powered through Body Combat class while in pain. I’ve literally hobbled through the parking lot thinking what the hell am I doing, then getting to class and forgetting all about it, feeling nothing but the awesomeness. The secret is adrenaline. Adrenaline is what drives me through Body Combat because mentally I flip into training mode, which my brain is hard-wired to link to my “fight or flight” response. This is the up-side of PTSD. It’s a great natural painkiller. (Yes, I know Body Combat is a cardio class, but as far as I’m concerned, if I’m kicking and throwing punches, I’m training… so I know I’ll be able to get through the class tomorrow, regardless.)

I’m still picking up Epsom salts for a hot bath later. My muscles, tendons and ligaments will deserve it! Plus, I’ll enjoy it. Yeah. I don’t need an excuse!

10 years is a long time, though; I feel like I might as well have never done yoga at all. I remember that my first yoga class ever was at Arizona Combat Sports back in 2002… there was an advanced student there on the Brazilian Ju-Jitsu side who was also an advanced yoga practitioner and instructor. They added a Saturday morning yoga class to the schedule with him teaching it, so I figured I’d try it for a few sessions. I thought it balanced out my Muay Thai training well, so I was inspired to try yoga at other places. I enjoyed it, though I never felt like a “natural” in any yoga studio. For one thing, as I said, I’ve never been particularly flexible.

Random: My favorite long-term effect from yoga is my affection for Deva Premal, who sings Hindu and Buddhist chants so beautifully. It was only because of yoga that I discovered her.

Okay, I’m off to get ready for this yoga class… Happy Friday, All! =)

 

Kitties with their Christmas stocking stuffers! They do yoga every day.

Kitties with their Christmas stocking stuffers! They do yoga every day.

 

Elevator Tips for the Elevator-Phobic

As recently as eight months ago, my elevator phobia – a spin-off of my claustrophobia – kept me out of elevators at all costs. Now, because of my job, I take the elevator every day, numerous times a day. This marks a great personal victory for me, even though I still always choose the stairs whenever possible.

So, as a somewhat recovered elevator phobic, I thought I’d put together this handy Elevator Phobic’s Guide to Taking the Elevator, in case it can be of use to anyone.

1). When the elevator arrives and the doors open, look inside first to check for sewer roaches before getting in. You just never know, and the last thing you need is for your recently-somewhat-alleviated phobia (elevators) to be revived by a clash with your one remaining phobia (roaches).

 

Being weird in the elevator to show you my "I see a roach" face. Derp.

Being weird in the elevator to show you my “I see a roach” face. Derp.

 

2). Always have your cell phone with you before stepping into the elevator. Make sure it’s charged.

3). If there are other people in the elevator with you, quickly check them out to evaluate whether or not you could take them in a fight if you had to (which I do automatically all the time, anyway, no matter where I am… it’s a reflex). If you do find yourself in a situation that necessitates self-defense tactics, the elevator would be a convenient place to be if you’re like me and you fight best on the inside because you have short limbs.

4). If you’re unsure about the integrity of the elevator, bring a bottle of water in with you. It never hurts to keep a protein bar or nuts with you, either.

5). If the elevator arrives and neither the “up” nor the “down” signal lights are lit, err on the side of caution and don’t get on. Wait for the next one. An undecided elevator is an elevator that might decide to get stuck in the middle somewhere.

6). Mentally listen to Steven Tyler singing “Love in an Elevator” while you’re in the elevator. It will bring some levity to the situation.

7). Minimize your time in the elevator as much as possible. I almost always take the elevator partially, up from the second floor and down to the second floor, rather than ground floor to ground floor. Between the ground floor and the second floor, I use the public stairs.

8). Arm yourself with knowledge by studying the control panel in the elevator as soon as you step in (well, after you size up anyone who may be in there already. Priorities, you know). That way, in the event of a stoppage, you’ll be more likely to able to find the appropriate buttons even while you’re in a panic.

9). Valium, or something similar. Just… whatever it is, have it with you. Frankly, if I could, I’d harpoon myself with whale tranquilizer if I got stuck in an elevator alone. I would just want to be out.

10). If there are other people in the elevator, amuse yourself by trying to figure out which person would be the devil, à la M. Night Shyamalan’s delightful film Devil.

 

 

Happy Friday, Everyone! =)

What I’m Digging Right Now – July Favorites

The month of July took one look at our calendar, looked at us, and laughed. It mocked us. It studied everything we had planned, and then it said, Ha! Plans, schmanz… I got something else for ya!

In my case, the “something else” included a doozy of a summer cold. But I have no complaints. It was still a fun month. It’s just that very little happened according to plan, and, well, we all know how I feel about plans. I can be a little neurotic about sticking to them. Partnering up with Callaghan has been a healthy balm for that tendency… he’s my opposite in many ways, and there’s nothing like living with your opposite to get you out of your comfort zones!

We only caught two of the six live music performances we’d planned to attend, with one of those no-shows being due to my cold. Also because of the cold virus, I couldn’t really hang out with our friends who were here for a few days, visiting from France.

And finally, the entire month was consumed by our unexpected plunge into an overwhelming exciting adventure of the nail-biting variety, which I’ll likely talk about in a near-future blog post. “Near-future,” as in, when it’s reached its successful conclusion (fingers crossed)!

Meanwhile, here are some little things that captured my fancy in July and made the month especially, splendiferously wonderful:

 

1). Night-blooming cactus.

 

Absolutely captivating night-blooming cactus flower!

Absolutely captivating night-blooming cactus flower!

 

Virgil across the way cultivates what’s probably the most diverse cactus garden outside of the Desert Botanical Gardens. The day he told us about this particular night-blooming cactus in his collection, we schemed to capture her in action. We went out there at 5:00am the next morning, and again at 6:00am, and again at 7:00am, and we got to enjoy her splendor at each stage. I’ve always loved desert blooms, but this one flower stole the entire 20+-year show! It was especially fun to find an ecstatic bee rolling around in her depths, covered so thickly in pollen that it looked like he was wearing a bright yellow fuzzy coat.

 

2). Songzaa (App)

 

Songzaa - my current favorite app for finding new music.

Songzaa – my current favorite app for finding new music.

 

This free app magically cranks out playlists according to your mood or whim of the moment… you key something in, and it presents all the possibilities. Since I started listening to Songzaa’s playlists, I’ve discovered lots of new music, and that’s always a plus when you have no idea what’s out there and you don’t have time to investigate for yourself. You can find playlists by keying in your mood, a specific scenario (i.e. “cleaning the house” or “road trip”), or specific artists. However you search, it pulls up a list of artists followed by a selection of playlists. What’s not to love?

Let’s talk about food!

 

3). Trader Joe’s “just a handful” of raw almonds.

 

Big bag of smaller, individually-wrapped portions of raw almonds... measuring not required. =)

Big bag of smaller, individually-wrapped portions of raw almonds… measuring not required. =)

 

So healthy! So convenient! I throw one of these in my bag as I’m running out the door in the morning, and it saves me when my mid/late morning slump hits… we eat breakfast at 7:00am, so I’m hungry again by 10:30am. This pre-portioned bag of almonds gets me through with the protein and healthy fat it contains, and you’re never going to hear me complain about eating foods rich in Vitamin E, either (it’s so good for the skin)!

 

4). Van’s Natural Foods Chocolate Chip Chewy Baked Whole Grain Snack Bar.

 

My latest favorite energy bar.

My latest favorite energy bar.

 

There’s nothing unhealthy in these all-natural bars. They’re vegan (if that matters to you), gluten-free (if that matters to you), they’re free of GMOs and corn (if that matters to you), they’re kosher (if that matters to you), and they’re whole grain, fiber-rich and free of artificial colors and flavors… not to mention, they’re amazingly good! These bars are just tasty and satisfying to nosh when you need a little something to get you through that annoying, stomach-growling 4:00-5:00pm hour.

 

5). Apples with peanut butter.

 

I've been on a serious peanut butter and organic apple kick lately!

I’ve been on a serious peanut butter and organic apple kick lately!

 

I’ve always enjoyed this classic combination, but lately, I’ve been really craving it. I cut the apple into wedges and smear them with peanut butter, and the whole experience of eating them is so intensely satisfying, it’s borderline weird. But I’m going with it, because it’s a delicious and ridiculously healthy combination.

 

6). Anchorman 2 (film)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-Anchorman2_Poster

 

We finally saw this movie, and it totally cracked us up! It was a riot, and we weren’t expecting to find it as funny as we did. We actually thought it was funnier than the first one, which doesn’t often happen with sequels.

Moving on to the beauty/skin-care products…

 

7). St. Ives Lotion Spray in Soothing Oatmeal & Shea Butter.

 

St. Ives made a spray-on lotion, and it's lovely.

St. Ives made a spray-on lotion, and it’s lovely.

 

St. Ives – I’ve always loved this brand. Now they’ve come out with their take on spray-on moisturizer, and it’s perfection in a can. This stuff was made for people like me who are super lazy about putting on body lotion. St. Ives’ is a light formula in a light spray with a faint, pleasant fragrance, and it practically applies itself! It’s delightfully effortless, and I really have no excuse to not moisturize, now.

 

8). Olay Body Ultra Moisture Body Wash with Shea Butter.

 

According to Callaghan, the "Format Avantageux" is complete Quebecois... the French wouldn't say "value size" like that! It seems that all the French on the packaging of products in the States is Quebecois. Interesting.

According to Callaghan, the “Format Avantageux” is complete Quebecois… the French wouldn’t say “value size” like that! It seems that all the French on the packaging of products in the States is Quebecois. Interesting.

 

Here’s another wonder of a moisturizing product! We’ve actually been using this body wash since spring, and we’ve discovered that other moisturizing body washes just don’t compare. We keep coming back to this one; we re-purchased it again in July, so I thought I’d put it on the list.

Oh, and by the way, that St. Ives lotion spray following a shower with this Olay body wash results in the silkiest skin ever. Great combination!

 

9). L’Occitane en Provence Beurre de Karite (Shea Butter) lip balm.

 

L'Occitane en Provence shea butter lip balm... very simple, and very effective.

L’Occitane en Provence shea butter lip balm… very simple, and very effective.

 

L’Occitane en Provence was one of those little shops in the mall I always walked past and never entered; neither did I ever feel compelled to try their products when I lived in southern France, where the company originated and therefore has shops all over the place. Even after our friend Chantal gave me this little pot of lip balm, it took me a while to try it… she gave it to me in April, and I didn’t really start using it until June. In July, though, I found myself reaching for this product more and more as my lips became drier with the intensifying summer heat. This is a very effective all-purpose lip balm.

And hey, I just realized that all three of the skin-care products on my list this month feature Shea butter! Theme not intended. =)

 

10). Prescription sunglasses.

 

Driving legally again!

Driving legally again!

 

Did I ever tell you about the time I lost my prescription sunglasses in France at a gas station somewhere between le Vercors and Nice? Well, that happened, and I’ve been driving illegally ever since… until now. Oh yes! Now cops can pull me over all day, and they’re never going to cite me for driving without corrective lenses. Ha!

Happy Friday, Everyone! =)

What I’m Digging Right Now – June Favorites

June outdid all previous months with its disappearing act. Where did it go? On Friday morning, I said to Callaghan, “Oh, wait… TUESDAY is July 1st? Didn’t I just do my May Favorites post, like, very recently?”

Several exciting things came to pass in June, but the point of my Monthly Favorites posts is to highlight the little, tangible things that helped to elevate the month. I’m starting with entertainment this time because I have a bit of raving to do with this first thing…

 

1). Edge of Tomorrow (film)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-EdgeofTomorrow

 

Let the appearance of this film in my June Favorites post stand as evidence that I don’t hate Tom Cruise just because he hijacked Reacher. (Hijacked Reacher, get it? Haha!) I’m always up for an insane, high-octane sci-fi thriller, and if Cruise is in it, that’s fine with me. We went to see Edge of Tomorrow Saturday evening. The last time I enjoyed a sci-fi action flick that much was Pacific Rim, and I enjoyed this one even more. Edge of Tomorrow is marvelous storytelling and explosive escapism to the nth degree. The Christopher McQuarrie/Tom Cruise team nailed it with this one!

May I just say that movies like this make me wonder why Reacher? Cruise doesn’t need to be Reacher! Let someone who is Reacher be Reacher, and Cruise can keep doing roles like this one in Edge of Tomorrow, because honestly, I can’t think of anyone who could have done it better. He brought his charisma and unique brand of flair to the role, yet we never once found ourselves thinking this is just Tom Cruise being Tom Cruise. In Edge of Tomorrow, Cruise doesn’t simply own his character. He locks it up and throws away the key. That’s a rare thing in an action flick, in my opinion.

I loved Emily Blunt in her role, too, make no mistake… and the story, writing, direction, editing, cinematography and CGI, all amazing. Yes, I would see it again, and maybe even again after that. I enjoyed it that much. The poster slogan reads, “Live… Die… Repeat.” It should be “Watch… Rave… Repeat.”

 

2). Modern Family (T.V. series)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-ModernFamily

 

We fired up season one of this comedy series because of Sofia Vergara, who captured our attention in May in the film Chef. Hilarious! It brings the LOLs in an off-beat Arrested Development kind of way, and it hooked us instantly. We’re in the middle of season four now. Once we’re caught up, we can get our lives back catch up on some movies.

Moving on to skin care and cosmetics….

 

3). Physician’s Formula Mineral Wear Talc-Free Mineral Oh So Radiant! Powder in Translucent.

 

Physician's Formula does it again! Radiant powder is radiant.

Physician’s Formula does it again! Radiant powder is radiant.

 

What a name for a simple face powder, but radiant, indeed! I wanted to add more of a glow to my skin, and this brightening powder by Physician’s Formula delivers. This is my new setting powder and highlighter in one, and I think it’s going to be a long-time favorite.

 

Kind of a weird picture, but see the slight glow on my cheekbone? That's this powder by Physician's Formula.

Kind of a weird picture, but see the slight glow on my cheekbone? That’s this powder by Physician’s Formula.

 

I’ll say it again: I love that Physician’s Formula products are cruelty-free (not tested on animals). Not all the products I use are, but at least I’m conscious of the matter, right?

 

4). Maybelline Eye Studio Color Tattoo 24HR Cream Gel Shadow Eye Makeup in Tough as Taupe 35.

 

Tough as Taupe Color Tattoo by Maybelline over Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion.

Tough as Taupe Color Tattoo by Maybelline over Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion.

 

Another unwieldy name, and this product apparently suffers an identity crisis, as well. Is it a cream? Is it a gel? Could they not make up their minds, so they dubbed it both a cream and a gel? Whatever. This richly pigmented, creamy eye shadow formula wears beautifully, and the “Tough as Taupe” shade is gorgeous.

I mean, in the pot, the color sort of reminds me of wet cement, but it applies as a perfect, soft taupe with just the faintest tinge of a lilac undertone… it’s a lovely, muted, silky gray-beige-lilac, like a smooth old stone. Depending on how much you build up the color, it’s an all-purpose neutral on the medium-dark end of the neutral shade spectrum, a shade that would be flattering on anyone. I apply it with my fingertip over a base of Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion (cruelty-free!), and it lasts all day… and by “all day,” I mean from 7:00am-11pm.

 

5). Alba Botanica Hawaiian 3-in-1 Clean Towelettes (Deep Pore Purifying Pineapple Enzyme).

 

Another time-saver! Refreshing towelettes that clean well and smell great.

Another time-saver! Refreshing towelettes that clean well and smell great.

 

(Alba Botanica = cruelty-free!)

This has become my go-to Saturday morning cleanser, because on Saturday mornings, we basically sleep in as late as possible, roll out of bed, fuel up with coffee, inhale some breakfast and run out the door just in time for our 10:00am Body Combat class at the gym. I shower afterward. So, instead of doing my usual morning cleansing and skincare routine, I sweep one of these cleansing towelettes over my face, put on sunscreen and apply a little concealer, Revlon Nearly Naked powder (I don’t bother with the glowy face powder when I’m planning to be drenched in sweat an hour later) and my usual lip-color… just enough to make me feel dressed.

Callaghan loves using these cleansing towelettes, too. They’re refreshing, they leave you feeling super clean, and they smell great. Pineapples. Who doesn’t want to smell like pineapples at the gym on a Saturday morning?

This brings us to the food things on this list!

 

6). Nature’s Path Organic Optimum Power Blueberry Cinnamon Flax cereal.

 

My favorite power cereals have always been by Nature's Path.

My favorite power cereals have always been by Nature’s Path.

 

I guess the theme for this Favorites post is “Little Things with Long Convoluted Names.”

Anyway, this is my new favorite cereal. I like to sprinkle on a little cinnamon to boost the healthy cinnamon factor, and I add fresh blueberries and almond milk. It’s crunchy and satisfying, and it keeps me full all morning!

 

7). Pears.

 

Organic pears from Argentina are everywhere right now, and they're so incredibly good.

Organic pears from Argentina are everywhere right now, and they’re so incredibly good.

 

PEARS! Simple. Just pears. But… organic pears. Organic pears from Argentina. Okay, now I’m making pears complicated when they don’t have to be, but they are organic, and they are from Argentina, and these organic pears from Argentina are abundant in all the stores now, and they’re amazingly juicy, sweet and flavorful. They’ve been a staple in our refrigerator for a month. So let’s complicate things even more and make that chilled organic pears from Argentina. Anyway, delicious, is what they are… in a word!

 

8). Justin’s Organic Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups.

 

Yes, there are three packs here. I ate one right after I took this picture. Then the next day, I ate another, and the next day...

Yes, there are three packs here. I ate one right after I took this picture. Then the next day, I ate another, and the next day…

 

THESE THINGS. These things are fantabulous, and I ate way too many of them in June. I ate so many, in fact, that I had to stage my own intervention, asking Callaghan to not let me go near them in the store for at least a few weeks. I’m currently in rehab for addiction to Justin’s Organic Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups. “But they’re healthy!” is only relevant to a point. Overindulgence is overindulgence.

Rounding out the list, here are two random things that made me smile extra in June…

 

9). Cork phone case.

 

 

Cork phone case by GAIAM. The design is called "Marrakesh."

Cork phone case by GAIAM. The design is called “Marrakesh.”

 

This unusual phone case caught my eye as I wandered the aisles of Office Max one day. I’d been looking for a more protective phone case (the one I’d been using was hard plastic, and I have a tendency to drop my phone), so when this one lured me in with its lovely mandala-like design, I was ready with my justification.

And I did, in fact, drop my phone after I got this case, and the cork did, in fact, insulate the phone on landing! Cork phone cases… recommend.

 

10). Hummingbird feeder.

I got a hummingbird feeder for Callaghan when he told me that hummingbirds don’t exist in France. You could have knocked me over with a feather when he told me that. (Har, har… couldn’t resist. Sorry.) We brought the feeder home and he mixed the sugar water, filled the bottle and hung it up on an existing nail near the edge of our balcony awning, and presto! We now have a small contingent of hummingbirds who perch and circulate near the feeder, and the pleasurable occasion to sit by the living room window to watch them, especially in the early mornings. We often see the littlest hummingbird hanging out on “his” branch outside our balcony. We call him “Nectar,” and he is beyond adorable, I’m telling you.

 

Nectar, our favorite little hummingbird! Callaghan took this photo from our living-room.

Nectar, our favorite little hummingbird! Callaghan took this photo from our living-room.

 

That’s it for June, Friends! July lies before us, and I’m excited because it’s going to be a month of solid back-in-the-day metal madness… we’re going to see Def Leppard, Kiss, Faster Pussycat (shout-out to Tara!), Alice Cooper and Motley Crue. Some friends from France are coming through town for a few days, too; all of that’s going to happen within a two-week period. Fun times ahead!

Oh, side note (literally): I added these “Monthly Favorites” posts to my sidebar as a category, so if you’d like to go back and see them all in one place, there you go. =)

Blog Design Change!

I took a critical look at my blog over the weekend and said to myself, “Self, your blog needs a design overhaul.” I clearly remember sitting in the Little House in the Rhône-Alpes in France back in the fall of 2012, selecting and setting up my first theme and writing my first post. Now it’s 18 months and 161 posts later, and I’m in a totally different place in more ways than one. My blog should reflect that, I thought.

I decided on a new theme, found a dusky photo of Tempe Town Lake I’d recently taken from half-way up “A” Mountain (representing our downtown Tempe neighborhood), and, early yesterday morning, asked Callaghan if he would be so kind as to lend his clicking finger to an impromptu photo-shoot, because what better way to start your day than to go outside and take a million pictures of your overly-detail-oriented partner? (I wanted Virgil’s cute cactus garden in the background!) I also updated content where updates were needed and just generally cleaned things up a bit. We threw it all together last night. It took less than an hour, but the minimal, streamlined result pleases me very much.

So that’s the main thing. The only other thing I wanted to tell you about today was… and this is random (with so much going on all over the place, this week already feels more random than usual, and it’s only Tuesday)…

You know you watch too many horror movies when you hear the low tinkling of a classic lullaby from a back corner of your apartment, and when you cautiously venture forth to investigate, the following dialogue takes place:

“Are you listening to a creepy lullaby?” I called to Callaghan, who was somewhere.

Or it’s the ghost of a child. This apartment complex is probably between 50-60 years old, so a lot could have happened.

“I’m watching sleeping puppies and kitties! Haha! I’m almost done, Baby.”

He was in the bathroom with his tablet, watching cute animal videos!

It was Brahms’ “Lullaby and Goodnight,” and actually, I did have an eerie experience involving that particular nursery rhyme when I was a teenage babysitter. But that’s a story for another time.

 

thatasianlookingchick.com_tempetownlake

STEP RIGHT UP to the new season of American Horror Story!

Heading into summer, I can feel my impatience gathering like sand in a dust devil as the new season of American Horror Story comes into focus. The near-future horizon of television is looking sharper, but not less dark… we can’t wait to see the latest iteration of creator Ryan Murphy and crew’s twisted anthology series. There have been three seasons thus far, each interpreting “dark and perverse” in its own unique, brilliant way.

First, we had Murder House.

Then, we had Asylum.

After that, it was Coven.

Now, this fall, we’re in for a….

 

american-horror-story-season-4-title-revealed

 

…which will take place at a spooky carnival in the 1950’s. You know that it’s going to set a new standard in the realm of terrifying clowns.

 

ahs-clown-2-wallpaper

 

This is going to be Jessica Lange’s last season, and rumor has it that she’s been practicing her German accent for it. Who’s excited? I AM.

Since we’re on the subject of evil clowns, here’s some Insane Clown Posse for your morning:

 

 

“The Great Milenko.” Yes.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if Ryan Murphy were to use some of ICP’s music in his new season? The underrated band could finally get the wider audience they deserve with exposure in AHS: Freak Show. You don’t have to be a juggalo to enjoy ICP.

Happy Friday the 13th, All!

Jeepers Creepers

I’m not big on practical jokes. I don’t usually enjoy being on the receiving end of them, and it almost never occurs to me to play one on someone else. I guess you could say that I’m an opportunist when it comes to practical jokes, because the only one I can remember playing was in Nice two summers ago, and it was totally spontaneous. An opportunity presented itself, and that opportunity was just too good to pass up.

The joke was on Callaghan, of course.

First, some background: Jeepers Creepers is one of our favorite cheesy horror movies. Not to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, but in order to get the joke, you should know that a psychic woman calls the two (sister/brother) main characters on a diner pay phone and issues a warning about the classic jazz song “Jeepers Creepers”:

When you hear that song you run, and I mean run! ‘Cause that song means something terrible for you, something so terrible you couldn’t dream of it… not in your worst most terrible nightmare!

Then she plays the song for them. It’s the original Louis Armstrong recording from the 1930’s, which I can imagine would be a suitably creepy thing to hear over a pay phone.

We spent the summer of 2012 helping Callaghan’s father renovate three apartments in an old building in Nice. I should say “creepy old building” because it really kind of was (creepy). (I mean that in a good way. I like creepy. I like old buildings. Creepy old buildings = Good). One apartment was downstairs, the other two were upstairs, and there was a small, dusty old radio that seemed to float around the building, usually ending up with Callaghan’s father, who always had it set to a jazz station. Maybe the radio was his. I don’t know. I don’t remember. It doesn’t matter. Anyway.

One morning, Callaghan and our friend Jean-Mi were working together in one of the upstairs apartments while Callaghan’s father and I were in the downstairs apartment. At some point, he – Callaghan’s father – stepped out for a little while, leaving me alone in the creepy old apartment with the radio, jazz music blaring away.

Well, when Louis Armstrong came on singing “Jeepers Creepers,” I couldn’t believe my luck. There was no way I was going to miss the opportunity! I grabbed my cell phone and dialed Callaghan’s number as I ran to the radio. When I got there, I held the phone up to the speakers. I was cracking up laughing, but I managed to stifle my hilarity while Callaghan answered his phone and heard:

 

 

Hahaha!! He was up on a ladder at the time, too, he later told me. Ha! Just envisioning him standing up on a ladder listening to “Jeepers Creepers” on his phone cracks me up all over again!

Ahem. Maybe this is another example of me being too easily amused, but you have to understand that thanks to the movie, that song had become one of our inside jokes. We’d say things like, Oh, well… the day could get worse… we could answer the phone and hear “Jeepers Creepers!” Because in the movie, hearing that song was the ultimate Bad Thing that could happen.

A song portending the arrival of a horrible latex monster would make everything so much worse.

And cheesier.

Happy Friday, all!

What I’m Digging Right Now – April Favorites

Today is the second of May, and this is my first post of the month, so that brings us to – already – April Favorites!

I was hard-pressed to think of new “little things” from April that I didn’t already love in March. The Body Combat class at the gym, for instance, has been my Number One Favorite Thing of Probably the Whole Year So Far, but I already talked about that in March. I could add that I’ve been enjoying the Boot Camp class, as well, but not to the same degree. There are only eight things on this list… but they were things that I really loved, and still love.

So let’s dig in, hmm?

1). Mad Men, season seven (T.V.)

 

mad-men-5

 

It’s back! It’s back with its fabulous ‘60’s-‘70’s hair and make-up, interiors and furniture, costumes and cultural ambience, and its thoroughness in capturing every detail of the era in every scene. The writing. The acting! Mad Men is a sharp and exquisitely rendered period piece that’s just a pleasure to behold. But oh, that Don. Don, Don, Don. What is going to happen to Don? Things are supposed to be groovy for everyone, but they’re just not… so far, anyway.

I was happy to hear that they cut this final season into two parts, as they did with Breaking Bad, because I don’t want it to end.

 

2). Bob’s Burgers, season three (T.V.)

 

Bob’s-Burgers-Season-3-500x500

 

The first two seasons of this show brought enough amusement and sporadic laughter to keep us watching. Plus, we enjoyed the characters and found their predicaments to be interesting, in general. HOWEVER, season three? Season three turned out to be one long moment of outright hilarity. It’s like the writers said, Fine! This time we’re going to let it all hang out! I mean, some of the situations are beyond bizarre and just out there, and any attempt at restraining the off-color humor went out the window. There’s nothing subtle about season three, and there’s no longer any use in pretending that Bob’s Burgers is a kids’ show just because it’s a cartoon.

I think a part of it is that Tina hit puberty.

 

3). Ice water with lemon/club soda with lime

 

Club soda with lime. I crave it!

Club soda with lime. I crave it!

 

This one might seem strange for a “favorites” list, but lately, I can’t get enough icy-cold water with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and club soda with ice and a wedge of lime when we go out at night. Now that I’ve gotten back into the swing of my life here and returned to my former habits, other beverages hold no interest. Nothing is more refreshing to me, and I’m glad, because icy citrus water is super healthy and costs very little. In fact, when we go out, it’s usually free. I don’t think I’ve ever been charged for water in Arizona, and bartenders almost always give me the club soda gratis because it’s assumed that I’m the Designated Driver. That’s been my experience, anyway.

 

4). Oysterband’s Diamonds on the Water

 

 

I discovered this new Oysterband release on Spotify literally the day after a new friend asked me what musicians/bands I’m currently enjoying! Diamonds on the Water has been my music of choice since then. I especially love “A River Runs,” “Palace of Memory,” “Spirit of Dust” and “No Ordinary Girl.” Good English folk sounds going on here. Love it!

 

5). A t-shirt from Nice, a gift from a friend visiting from France.

 

Sparkly Nice t-shirt from Chantal!

Sparkly Nice t-shirt from Chantal!

 

Of course, the average non-French person looking at this shirt (with nothing on it to indicate a geographical point of reference) is just going to see the English adjective “nice” spelled out across my chest. Nice! Haha! But I love it, anyway. It’s black. It sparkles. It matches my black Paris baseball cap with its blingy red heart and my beloved sparkly Eiffel Tower. Don’t worry… I wouldn’t wear the two at the same time.

 

6). Ezekiel 4:9 bread

 

Ezekiel 4:9. Best. Toast. Ever.

Ezekiel 4:9. Best. Toast. Ever.

 

Here’s an old favorite! Once I get started on this bread, I never want any other kind, especially since Ezekiel 4:9 makes the most wonderful, crunchy toast that is amazing with Earth Balance. This bread is named for the bible verse that reads: “Take also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentils and millet, and spelt and put them in one vessel…” (Ezekiel 4:9) And that turned out to be a pretty good recipe, in my opinion.

 

7). Physician’s Formula Magic Mosaic Multi-Colored Custom Bronzer (in Light)

 

What's this? A bronzer I actually really like! (by Physician's Formula)

What’s this? A bronzer I actually really like! (by Physician’s Formula)

 

Here’s my cosmetic pick for the month. I used to shy away from bronzers, but I started using this one recently just to brighten things up a bit… and I actually like it a lot! The range of bronze shades in the compact makes it versatile, and it’s just a really pretty way to add a touch of a glow to your skin (without too much shimmer).

 

8). Afternoon green tea

 

Trader Joe's Organic Green Tea

Trader Joe’s Organic Green Tea

 

I find Trader Joe’s Organic Green Tea to be a dependable pick as far as green teas go, but frankly, any green tea would do it for me these days. Coffee in the morning. Tea in the afternoon.

One of life’s pleasant little routines. =)

Happy Friday, Everyone!

Pride and… ACMs

It was Phoenix Pride weekend here in The Valley, because gorgeous spring weather in the desert brings the Pride, right? Phoenix Pride weekend is always in April. On Sunday, Callaghan and I scooped up a friend and went to the festival to meet up with the friend with whom I traditionally go. She met us there with her partner, and the five of us had a great time! It was just good to be there, as I’d missed the last two years (I’d been in France).

Ronnie James and Nounours didn’t miss us at all that day. When we got home, we discovered them installed in their chairs, thoroughly engrossed watching the Academy of Country Music Awards (ACMs).

We’d flicked the T.V. on for them before leaving in the morning, and we weren’t aware that the ACMs were going to be held that evening, so it was amusing to walk in and find both kitties watching Jason Aldean (winner, 2014 Male Vocalist of the Year) perform “When She Says Baby.”

This photo wasn’t from Sunday night, but it’ll give you an idea:

 

Commercial! Where's mah remote?

Commercial! Where’s mah remote?

 

It was about 9:00PM, so we first attended to feeding the little guys, but we kept the T.V. on and then settled in eagerly, because the ACMs are just a good time… and like Pride, they only happen once a year.

The ACMs are all about great live music performances, and what we managed to catch this year didn’t disappoint. The performances we took in were fantastic. Our favorite number was Toby Keith performing “Shut Up & Hold On,” a newer song of his that we particularly like:

 

 

We also enjoyed Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan’s performance of “This is How We Roll,” with Nitro Circus flying through the air over flames on their dirt bikes in the background. An awesome musical performance with crazy bike stunts on stage with fire! What’s not to like?

 

 

Now, we just have one comment, almost as an aside: Country music as a genre tends to get a bad rap. Possibly some of that is due to song titles such as “Same Trailer Different Park” (winner, 2014 Album of the Year, Kacey Musgraves) and “I Drive Your Truck” (winner, 2014 Song of the Year, Lee Brice). The latter is a beautiful and heart-breaking song, but if you don’t know what it’s about, just seeing the title “I Drive Your Truck” provokes the giggles. It’s almost like country music is trying to parody itself.

I do like the song, though.

[Another comment, and this one is definitely an aside: I thought it was a brilliant decision to close the penultimate episode of True Detective with Townes Van Zandt’s song “Lungs.”

Townes Van Zandt. Let’s not get me started on how much I admire Townes Van Zandt and the genius of his lyrics!]

Anyway, back to the ACMs. We missed a lot of performances and parts I’d have wanted to see, such as Stevie Nicks with Lady Antebellum, Blake Shelton’s duet with Shakira and his Ellen-Oscars-selfie-with-superstars copycat moment… but we were glad to see George Strait receive the Entertainer of the Year award, and it was sweet when the entire room sang “Happy Birthday” to Merle Haggard for his 77th birthday.

In addition to enjoying the performances, I also got to indulge my guilty pleasure of ogling the style choices of the beautifully attired musicians. My favorites this year were Carrie Underwood, Sheryl Crow and Taylor Swift, who I thought were ravishing in gowns or ensembles that were creatively cut and embellished, and that also exquisitely suited the singers’ unique personalities (or, shall I say, personas) as well as their physiques.

 

Carrie Underwood, Sheryl Crow and Taylor Swift at the 2014 ACM Awards

Carrie Underwood, Sheryl Crow and Taylor Swift at the 2014 ACM Awards

 

Of the men, I most admired Keith Urban and LL Cool J. The latter attended as a co-presenter with Chris O’Donnell; they were there to co-host this year’s “ACM Presents: An All-Star Salute to the Troops” (to be aired in May). If I’m remembering correctly, they also presented the Entertainer of the Year award to George Strait.

 

Keith Urban and LL Cool J at the 2014 ACM Awards

Keith Urban and LL Cool J at the 2014 ACM Awards

 

I love how Keith Urban managed to look laid-back and classy at the same time in his ensemble of layered textures, the luxurious shirt under a more casual yet carefully fitted jacket. LL Cool J also expressed his personality well, deflecting the strictness of his black shirt and tie with a fun, fancy jacket and casual pants and shoes. The hat and shades as accessories further balanced the outfit. The whole thing was risky, but none of it seemed overdone to me. It worked. Well done, Sir! Both men were wearing belts. I like that.

What I’m Digging Right Now – January Favorites

Happy Chinese New Year! Gong Hey Fat Choy! It’s the Year of the Horse, and we’re off to a galloping start.

It’s also the last day of January, and I’m wrapping it up with a list of things that brightened my world during the month. Anytime is a good time to celebrate “the little things,” though, I figure.

So let’s start with food, because I stumbled on a great light late-afternoon nosh this month, and I’m eager to share it.

1). A cup of Trader Joe’s Pomegranate White Tea with a LÄRABAR über Roasted Nut Roll (sweet and salty fruit & nut bar).

 

My current favorite late afternoon energy-boosting combo.

My current favorite late afternoon energy-boosting combo.

 

This antioxidant and protein-packed duo bridges the afternoon to the evening really well with just enough caffeine to get you through, but not enough to interfere with your sleep later… and it’s tasty, healthy and substantial. You get a little bit of tart, sweet and salty all at once. Liveliness all around!

2). Learning to drive a manual transmission – Tara’s corvette!

 

I never would have thought you'd find me behind the wheel of a Corvette!

I never would have thought you’d find me behind the wheel of a Corvette!

 

I’m 45 now – I’m entitled to that long-awaited mid-life crisis, and we all know that where there’s a mid-life crisis, there’s got to be a Corvette. (Hey, I know my stereotypes.) My friend Tara indulged me one night a few weeks ago with her car and her patience, and it was exciting! Thanks again, Tara!

3). Returning to the gym.

I didn’t take a picture of our new gym, so here’s a logo from the web, instead:

thatasianlookingchick.com-FavThingsJAN2014-24hourfitnessWe knew when we landed back in AZ that we’d join a gym and start working out. After some lengthy research and consideration, we finally decided everything and made it happen.

Our new memberships came with a complimentary session with a personal trainer. I met with mine the first Friday morning after we signed up. My trainer was nice, although there was some kind of disconnect between us.

“So what are we doing this morning?” He got right into it.

“I’m horribly out of shape,” I told him. “I haven’t worked out regularly in like three years.”

“What do you mean you’re ‘out of shape’?”

“Well, after three years of mostly just sitting around, I’ve become one of those “skinny-fat” people, you know?” I explained. “I’m not overweight, but I’m out of shape, and my body fat composition is probably a mess.”

We’d joined a gym in France, but we went all of like three times, so it didn’t count. I’ve literally been 95% sedentary for three years.

Fitness and martial arts training used to be a serious business with me, as those of you who used to read my LiveJournal may remember. I’d been a dedicated gym rat and student of various martial arts, I went to yoga regularly, and at one point I’d studied to get my personal trainer certification. I never followed through on that, but I read the whole darn book in preparation for it. I also studied nutrition, and I continue to keep up with the ongoing scientific research in the areas of fitness, nutrition and health.

I would have thought that my trainer would measure my body-fat percentage to get an assessment, but he did not. Instead, he decided to kick my ass as if I was in better-than-average shape.

Consequently, the next day, I could hardly walk.

“What part of ‘I haven’t worked out in three years’ was unclear?” I complained to Callaghan later. But still, it was fun. And the gym is super nice. I especially love doing laps in the pool, stretching in the sauna afterward, and then sitting in the Jacuzzi.

4). Starbucks travel drink container

 

Blinded by the shiny things. What can I say.

Blinded by the shiny things. What can I say.

 

This was one of those frivolous impulse purchases, but it was a delayed reaction impulse, which sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s not. I saw a bucket of these cups glinting in the sun at the Starbucks that day we broke down on our way to Palm Springs. It ended up being one of those situations where something catches your eye, you note to yourself that it’s interesting, and you ignore it and move along… then, later, when you’re sitting at home 159 miles away, it pops back into your head with the realization that you would really love to have it, and you kick yourself for not having gotten it. You can’t stop thinking about it. You’re mesmerized by the memory of its lid’s shiny coppery facets. It’s sitting in a bucket in Blythe, California, 2.5 hours away, and you’re not going to drive 2.5 hours just to go get it. Thus, your quest begins… every time you pass a Starbucks, you ask your husband to please wait just a second so I can run in to see if that one carries those cups! until finally one of them has them… at which point you discover that it’s stupidly expensive, but by then it’s become The Holy Grail, so you HAVE to get it.

Now I feel slightly guilty about it, but a). the guilt is not as bad as the mournful feeling I had when I thought I’d missed my chance to get it (first world problem alert!), and b). not really, because I’ve been drinking water non-stop since I got it, I love it so much! And that’s a good, healthy thing. No buyer’s remorse here. Nope. None.

Plus, I discovered that it’s sweat-proof, which is a great feature. I keep it filled with ice, and the surface of my desk stays dry. WIN.

5). Townes Van Zandt and the documentary about him, Be Here To Love Me: A Film about Townes Van Zandt

 

One of the best music documentaries I've ever seen. I recommend it.

One of the best music documentaries I’ve ever seen. I recommend it.

 

In my November favorites post, I talked about my passion for Steve Earle, my favorite country music artist. Townes is Steve Earle’s collection of Townes Van Zandt covers, and it’s a favorite CD of mine because I’m a huge Townes Van Zandt fan. He’s regarded as a “songwriter’s songwriter,” covered by many other musicians, and I find the story of his life to be as fascinating as the brilliant and haunting lyrics he wrote. I mean, as a poet, songs like “Rake” and “Marie” simply floor me.

I love Steve Earle’s Townes Van Zandt covers more than anyone else’s. Here’s his version of “Marie”:

 

 

If there was ever to be an anthem for the homeless, that song would be it.

6). The requisite beauty product item on this list has to be the Simple Sensitive Skin Experts foaming facial cleanser.

 

My current favorite nighttime facial cleanser is by Simple

My current favorite nighttime facial cleanser is by Simple

 

My Mom loves this cleanser. She gave me a bottle of it when I visited them in December, and it’s grown on me since then, as I’ve used it routinely. It’s almost-but-not-quite overkill for my skin (I have normal skin, and foaming cleansers are usually best for oily skin), but I’m used to it now, and it’s true that my face feels especially clean after I wash with it. I use it at night after I remove my makeup.

7). The girl who hula-hoops on the grass across from our place.

 

Wednesday morning hula-hoopin'!

Wednesday morning hula-hoopin’!

 

I’ve mentioned her before. She continues appearing on the lawn to practice her hooping, so finally I had to take a picture; I feel like it’s a terribly stalker-ish thing to do, but I made sure to avoid getting her face so as to respect her privacy. I wish that her inspirational energy could come through to you in the picture, though. She’s diligent, and she’s a delight to watch.

8). French blue and white toile plate – Luneville “The Cottage”

 

Blue and white toile  Luneville "The Cottage" plate from Callaghan's family in France. The candle is the “Melt” Lemon Verbena and Sage pillar candle (Nest Fragrances)

Blue and white toile Luneville “The Cottage” plate from Callaghan’s family in France. The candle is the “Melt” Lemon Verbena and Sage pillar candle (Nest Fragrances)

 

What is it with me and small collectable plates these days? It’s a new thing. Also in my November favorites post, I’d talked about the handmade Greek one (Bonis Ceramics) I’d found in the corner of a used bookstore, and since then Callaghan discovered this plate, a family piece from France, in one of his many boxes. Somehow, it immediately found its way to the corner of my desk, where it’s resided ever since. All month long, the sight of it has made me smile.

9). My boys. Ronnie James and Nounours have taken to cuddling so close, they almost look like conjoined twins.

 

Look, Mom! Parallel arms!

Look, Mom! Parallel arms!

 

Joined at the hip, those two!

10). Finally, venturing into Callaghan’s office/studio more and more gives me a gateway to the realm of the strange and unexpected as he’s started creating more, and you know me. I love it. Yesterday, I caught this in my peripheral vision as I left the room:

 

Is that a...?

Is that a…?

 

…so I stepped back to take a closer look.

 

...why yes, that would be the gruesome remains of a teddy bear hovering above a death-like mask. Moving right along.

…why yes, that would be the gruesome remains of a teddy bear hovering above a death-like mask. Moving right along.

 

Now let’s see what February brings!

Ethan 103 played at the Big Fish for their last show of the year, and we were there!

I missed you all here last Friday; hopefully, that absence will translate to a blogging schedule change in the near future. Time will tell, as they say. With 2014 right around the corner, changes are inevitable!

On Friday night, the Big Fish Pub hosted M2N’s annual end of the year PJ party, and Arizona Native American punk rock band Ethan 103 played a set. Front-man Wayne and his wife, Nicky, have been long-time friends, and it was great to see them again after being gone for three years! The band delivered a solid performance, as usual. Good times. Local people, you should check these guys out!

Here are some visuals:

 

Ethan 103 at the Big Fish Pub, 12/20/2013

Ethan 103 at the Big Fish Pub, 12/20/2013

 

L-R: Nicky, Wayne, me and Callaghan after Ethan 103's set at the Big Fish Pub, 12/20/2013

L-R: Nicky, Wayne, me and Callaghan after Ethan 103’s set at the Big Fish Pub, 12/20/2013

 

 

And on Sunday morning, we found ourselves at (what’s becoming) our usual Sunday-morning haunt:

 

Why hello, Hayden Mill! We meet again.

Why hello, Hayden Mill! We meet again.

 

This time, we approached the front of the mill to peek inside.

This time, we approached the front of the mill to peek inside.

 

The mill suffered a fire or two in the early twentieth century.

The mill suffered a fire or two in the early twentieth century.

 

Looks pretty haunted to me… and gorgeous. Old, storied places speak to my soul; maybe that’s why I’m so drawn to this mill.

That’s it for my brief weekend wrap-up… I hope you’re all enjoying a relatively relaxed Christmas week!

 

 

 

 

What I’m Digging Right Now – November Favorites

Why hello, December! I can’t believe it’s already time to recount the blessings of November.

November was all about road trips and nesting and family. Between driving from Austin to Phoenix, and Phoenix to San Jose, and San Jose back to Phoenix, we clocked in more than 40 hours on the road… and it was worth every second. November’s main highlights were moving back to Arizona and going to spend Thanksgiving with my family in California.

November’s “BEST OF” to note:

1). Being back in the desert.

 

This was actually taken yesterday (in December), but it continues November's brilliant sun and gentle warmth, so here you go. Sitting outside in a t-shirt, blessedly dry in the absence of humidity!

This was actually taken yesterday (in December), but it continues November’s brilliant sun and gentle warmth, so here you go. Sitting outside in a t-shirt, blessedly dry in the absence of humidity!

 

Phoenix date palms lit up for the holidays

Phoenix date palms lit up for the holidays

 

2). Music: Steve Earle, my favorite country artist and one of my all-time favorite musicians, period. He’s a wonderful poet, and I love his unique sound… it flows between country, country-rock and alternative country, rich with folksy, rock n roll and bluegrass flavors here and there. He’s just amazing. I made a playlist of my favorite Steve Earle songs and burned the CD for our trip out of Texas. It was perfect!

 

My Steve Earle CDs: El Corazon, Townes, I Feel Alright, Copperhead Road and Jerusalem.

My Steve Earle CDs: El Corazon, Townes, I Feel Alright, Copperhead Road and Jerusalem.

 

3). Target’s generic brand energy drink (Archer Farms). We think it out-red bulls Red Bull, and it’s very tasty.

 

The energy drink that fueled our many hours on the road in November. It's Target's brand. I love the raspberry flavor, too.

The energy drink that fueled our many hours on the road in November. It’s Target’s brand. I love the raspberry flavor, too.

 

4). Living in downtown Tempe.

 

On the patio at the Handlebar in the middle of the night, just because we could. I guess it's debatable whether living near Mill Ave is a plus or a hazard. Nah... it's definitely a plus.

On the patio at the Handlebar in the middle of the night, just because we could. I guess it’s debatable whether living near Mill Ave is a plus or a hazard. Nah… it’s definitely a plus.

 

Arizona State University's Sun Devil Stadium, down the street from our apartment. We get to hear the fireworks when the Devils score, and that's a lot these days!

Arizona State University’s Sun Devil Stadium, down the street from our apartment. We get to hear the fireworks when the Devils score, and that’s a lot these days!

 

5). Re-visiting favorite old hang-outs.

 

Alice Cooperstown, Alice's sports bar/restaurant in downtown Phoenix. Major points for nostalgia here.

Alice Cooperstown, Alice’s sports bar/restaurant in downtown Phoenix. Major points for nostalgia here.

 

6). Feeling truly at home again! After books, houseplants define “home” to me.

 

Our first houseplants in three years! They're temporarily named "His Plant" and "My Plant," respectively (L - R). I have a special fondness for spider plants.

Our first houseplants in three years! They’re temporarily named “His Plant” and “My Plant,” respectively (L – R). I have a special fondness for spider plants.

 

7). My house-warming gift to myself, which didn’t cost me a cent.

 

I took some old books to Bookman's and traded them for the hand-made Greek (Rhodes) Bonis plate on the right.

I took some old books to Bookman’s and traded them for the hand-made Greek (Rhodes) Bonis plate on the right.

 

8). Dexter.  We binge-watched the entire eight seasons, starting in Texas and ending in Arizona.

 

Our favorite serial killer. And everyone else's, I suppose.

Our favorite serial killer. And everyone else’s, I suppose.

 

9). November’s rave-worthy beauty product was (and continues to be) Garnier Fructis Triple Nutrition Miracle Dry Oil for Hair, Body & Face. I spray a little in my palm, rub my hands together and run them through my dry air, and it leaves a nice sheen. Callaghan also loves it for his skin.

 

This oil defies the dryness of the desert without leaving you greasy. LOVE IT.

This oil defies the dryness of the desert without leaving you greasy. LOVE IT.

 

10). Two Very Happy, Satisfied At-Home Kitties.

 

Nounours at home on his blanky!

Nounours at home on his blanky!

 

Ronnie James at home on the love seat!

Ronnie James at home on the love seat!

 

And last, but far from least: Thanksgiving in California, a last-minute decision that was the best decision ever!

 

Adventures in Austin: The Neighbourhood at Emo’s

Friday night’s venturing out gave us an opportunity to discover Austin’s Riverside neighborhood, broadening the horizon of one of our favorite areas: SoCo (short for “South Congress,” as in South Congress Ave.).

In this neighborhood, we saw Los Angeles-based alt rock band The Neighbourhood. They played at Emo’s, which was exactly how I’d envisioned it would be… cavernous, dark, loud and packed with people for the sold-out show. There were several mini-bars dotted around the club’s perimeter, and there was a small band merchandise area set up by the entrance.

The band came out and immediately launched into this song:

 

 

The sound was slightly off somehow – maybe too heavy on the bass – but we were impressed with the precision of the singer’s voice, the band’s great stage presence and their ability to generate audience interaction. We had an outstanding time, and predictably, I ended up with a slew of photos, some of which I’m posting here:

 

Emo's - lots of people outside

Emo’s – lots of people outside

 

Emo's - lots of people inside

Emo’s – lots of people inside

 

thatasianlookingchick_com-neighbourghood-011

The entrance

 

The Neighbourhood merchandise

The Neighbourhood merchandise

 

Us

Us

 

The Neighbourhood

The Neighbourhood

 

The Neighbourhood

The Neighbourhood

 

The Neighbourhood

The Neighbourhood

 

The Neighbourhood

The Neighbourhood

 

The packed bus after the show

The packed bus after the show

 

 

Great club atmosphere, and another awesome concert!

 

Of Fire-Hardened Crafts and That Band with the Videos

We’re still in major stuff-organizing mode up in here. In the last few days, I’ve unearthed a couple of things.

Thing One: the miniature clay hand-painted mask a friend brought me from Venice many years ago, which has somehow survived my life so far (I hope I didn’t jinx it by writing that. Watch it break the second I post this):

 

Ronnie James with the Venetian mask

Ronnie James with the Venetian mask

 

It fits! READY FOR HALLOWEEN.

It fits! READY FOR HALLOWEEN.

 

Thing Two: the Navajo horsehair pot I’d given to Callaghan, as referenced in this post:

 

Navajo horsehair pottery, hand-made, hand-painted and adorned with turquoise.

Navajo horsehair pottery, hand-made, hand-painted and adorned with turquoise.

 

And tonight, for something different, we’re heading over to Emo’s  to see The Neighbourhood. I often refer to them as “that band with the videos,” because, yeah, their videos.

 

 

Have a great weekend, Guys!

 

 

 

 

“Her Perfume Smells Like Burning Leaves” (but she probably doesn’t wear a cartoon owl every day)

Fall is here, Halloween is coming up, and while we have no idea what we’ll be doing costume-wise, I can at least enjoy feeling seasonable now when I put on my Halloween t-shirt, which I got from Target several years ago and actually wear throughout the year.

I wore it yesterday:

 

The Halloween t-shirt too adorable to ignore three-quarters of the year.

The Halloween t-shirt too adorable to ignore three-quarters of the year.

 

Creepy/scary Halloween imagery usually appeals to me more than the cutesy variety, but this t-shirt was an exception. I couldn’t resist it!

I’m generally enthusiastic about wearing Halloween stuff year-round, but I know that when the late Peter Steele of Type-O Negative described the mysterious gothic vixen in his song “Black No. 1” and concluded with “every day is Halloween,” he probably wasn’t thinking of her wearing a t-shirt that says “I (heart) the night life” under an orange heart-feathered cartoon owl perched on a sparkly gold crescent moon. I’m just too lazy to be a gothic vixen every day, so I go with the owl.

Moving the same note along to our apartment, we’ve got our Fall/Halloween mantel décor up! PICS – because it happened.

 

Our Fall (Halloween!) mantel. Not a leaf in sight, but we've got candles; original traditional and bizarre art; an assortment of tools; an old brass key; a petrol lamp; a bronze clock; an antique candelabra and a silly stuffed owl.

Our Fall (Halloween!) mantel. Not a leaf in sight, but we’ve got candles; original traditional and bizarre art; an assortment of tools; an old brass key; a petrol lamp; a bronze clock; an antique candelabra and a silly stuffed owl.

 

Close-up of Callaghan's bizarre 3-D piece ("Antix"), the antique ice-pick and the owl.

Close-up of Callaghan’s bizarre 3-D piece (“Antix”), the antique ice-pick and the owl.

 

Close-up of the left side. The still life on the end is an original painting by Alerini, a French artist.

Close-up of the left side. The still life on the end is an original painting by Alerini, a French artist.

 

Close-up of the right side. The gorgeous candelabra is a gift from Dude in France. The antique brass key on it is a gift from Catherine, also in France. The art on the end is a framed set of rubber stamps designed and carved by Callaghan.

Close-up of the right side. The gorgeous candelabra is a gift from Dude in France. The antique brass key on it is a gift from Catherine, also in France. The art on the end is a framed set of rubber stamps designed and carved by Callaghan.

 

ETA: No leaves, branches, pumpkins or gourds were abused in the making of this display.

Well Worth the Wait – I Finally Saw Iron Maiden!

I’m no longer a Maiden virgin.

Last night, English heavy metal band Iron Maiden ROCKED AUSTIN when they came through on their “Maiden England 2013” tour, and I’m here to tell you that the show they put on was nothing short of SPECTACULAR. My first time with this band could not have been better. The concert was every bit the legendary Iron Maiden theatrical feast for the eyes and ears I’ve glimpsed in videos, but never thought I’d get to experience live.

Iron Maiden was extraordinary!

They performed at the Austin360 Amphitheater at Circuit of the Americas, which is the home of the new Formula 1 racing track, so it’s Out There, compared to where we live. We rented a car for the occasion, facilitated by the fact that there’s an Avis conveniently located within easy walking distance from our apartment. As you might expect at a world-class racing track, the outdoor amphitheater was enormous… but it wasn’t big enough! We found ourselves in cozy company with hundreds of other screaming fans. The Austin360 amphitheater is the largest permanent stage in Central Texas with a total capacity of 14,000, and it was sold out for Iron Maiden.

We had lawn tickets, but we scored some high metal barstools where they were lined up on elevated concrete slabs behind a rail at the edge of the lawn. Positioned directly in front of the stage on the bottom-most slab, we enjoyed a fantastic view. It had rained earlier, so the night air was balmy and pleasant… the weather was beautiful for an outdoor concert at night. The ambience was amazing.

Going in, my expectations weren’t set too terribly high since the guys are older now… I wanted to give them that, to be fair. I was not expecting to be completely stunned by a powerful, high-octane performance that could only be described as phenomenal. This was the ultimate metal concert. The stage sets, the props (which included robotics and pyrotechnics), the sound and the musical performance, itself – the show’s theme seemed to be centered on Maiden’s 1988 Seventh Son of a Seventh Son album – combined to result in first-rate entertainment. It was all put together to staggering visual and auditory effect.

Iron Maiden gave us a show that was 110% heart and what had to be every ounce of their physical endurance. Throughout the hour and forty-five minute performance, they sprinted around and took flying leaps across the stage, constantly rearranging themselves from one end to the other. Bruce Dickinson appeared everywhere with swift agility, singing from both levels of the set and frequently wielding his mic like a harpoon. No way would I ever have guessed that these guys are in their mid-to-upper 50’s! Dickinson’s voice was spot-on impeccable, strong and clear, and his singing was as close to perfect as it gets. He might be aging, but his voice and lungs are clearly not.

Want to know what we paid for these tickets? A mere $40.00 each. That was all. (Black Sabbath was much more expensive.)

I took over a hundred photos, 16 of which I’m posting here. I regret to say that these are not good pictures. I’m not a photographer, and my camera has limited capabilities, so it was impossible to capture the dynamic stage presence, stamina, charisma and athleticism of these guys… but here they are, anyway – my attempt to give you an idea of what our four eyeballs raked in.

The entrance to the brand new and larger-than-life Circuit Of The Americas, which hosts Formula 1 races (a Renault F1 car sits there to attest of it) to X Games. It also vibrates to the tune of various concerts in the 360 Theater at its center.

The entrance to the brand new Circuit Of The Americas, which hosts everything from Formula 1 races (a Renault F1 car sits there in front) to X Games to concerts.

 

The stage from afar... the opening set

The stage from afar… the opening set

 

"The Prisoner"

“The Prisoner”

 

In constant motion!

In constant motion!

 

"The Clairvoyant," I think.

“The Clairvoyant,” I think.

 

Shadows and light

 

A long, vibrant and inspired "Phantom Of The Opera" took us on a lengthy musical journey.

A long, vibrant and inspired “Phantom Of The Opera” took us on a lengthy musical journey.

 

Bruce and his infamous flag, singing "The Trooper"

Bruce and his infamous flag, singing “The Trooper”

 

“The Trooper”

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-Run-to-the-hills-2

“Run to the Hills”

 

The crowd didn't have room to run up and down the grass of Circuit of the Americas, but some thrashing went on while the 10-foot General Custer roamed the stage, threatening to cut Adrian Smith's throat with his 4-foot sword.

The crowd didn’t have room to run up and down the grass of Circuit of the Americas, but some thrashing went on while the 10-foot General Custer roamed the stage, threatening to cut Adrian Smith’s throat with his 4-foot sword.

 

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Run to the Hills!

 

Two-story Eddie, representing "Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son."

Two-story Eddie, representing “Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son.”

 

The "Can I Play With Madness" set.

The “Can I Play With Madness” set.

 

An animatronic "Eddie" oversees "Can I Play With Madness."

An animatronic “Eddie” oversees “Can I Play With Madness.”

 

Our favorite visual: "Aces High."

Our favorite visual: “Aces High.”

 

 

(Many thanks to Callaghan for re-sizing the images for me while I wrote this text!)

The band’s energy was infectious, too. Afterward, we were so keyed up, we were famished. We ended up at the drive-through of the nearest Taco Bell at half-past midnight, where I ordered a black bean burrito with no cheese, and Callaghan ordered a 7-layer burrito.

And now, we still have this rental car on our hands, so we’re going to take advantage of it and go get heavy things in bulk, such as kitty litter. Also, we’re heading out to Round Rock tonight to meet up with some people Callaghan knows for cheap drinks. (Can’t argue with $3.00 beers for him and free club soda for me!)