New glasses + weekend shenanigans. (Wedding! Anime Comic Con! Dinosaurs! etc.)

It seems like a long time has passed since my last posting date on Thursday, but that’s just because I’ve spent most of the intervening days out of town. We went to the Bay Area for a friend’s wedding. It was a French wedding attended by lots of (mostly) French people speaking (mostly) French. It took place on Bastille Day and the day before France won the World Cup, so it was a very French affair.

We made our hotel reservation months in advance. Unbeknownst to us, the Anime Comic Con would be going on in the hotel at the same time. Surprise!

Spoils from Anime Comic Con 2018:

 

Marvel Black Panther bag and Sen. John McCain action figure

 

[Sidenote 1: I got to chatting with the cool guy who sold me the Marvel Black Panther bag. Turns out he’s a musician. He’s a member of Dirty Rotten Imbeciles (aka D.R.I.). He said they’re coming to my town at the end of October to play a gig. We’re going, Callaghan and me.]

[Sidenote 2: I thought it was hilarious that they were selling Sen. John McCain action figures at Anime Comic Con in California. I couldn’t resist. McCain’s been my senator since I moved to Arizona in 1991. I don’t have to agree with all of his political positions (and I certainly do not) to say in all honesty that he’s one of my heroes.]

Next:

New glasses, part I-don’t-even-know-what.

 

[Sidenote: These pics were taken late last week during a time of hot dusty winds, when the AZ monsoon skies were a haze of golden brown. Even the indoor pic on the left looks dusty.]

You may be wondering how many new pairs of glasses a person needs in a year. I am, too. Hopefully the saga ends here. It should, provided that a). my prescription doesn’t change again, b). I don’t step on my new glasses, and c). in the event that I do, my replacement frames don’t come from overseas on a slow boat that either hits an iceberg or gets lost in the Bermuda Triangle. Those are the three things that have happened in the last 12 months. Luckily, the debacle cost only $25.00 to fix – it was $25.00 to replace the broken frames, and when they never showed up, the glasses lady let me pick new frames for a complete re-make (fresh lenses included) and trade the new glasses for the replacement ones.

I’m enjoying my new granny specs. I’ve worn dark, plastic/acrylic frames for as long as I can remember; these super thin gold-toned ones are a change I’m loving. They seem treacherously light and delicate, but the glasses lady assured me that they’re very strong (titanium) and difficult to break.

Returning to the weekend! We got back yesterday in a dramatic climatic shift. On a summer morning in San Francisco, middle of July, I wore jeans and a t-shirt, as usual, but also a sweatshirt over the t-shirt, and a pleather motorcycle jacket over the sweatshirt… and I was still cold. San Francisco in the summer is antithetical. I boarded the plane dressed for a Phoenix winter, landed in Phoenix 1.5 hours later, and stripped myself back down to summer while still on the plane. I walked into Sky Harbor airport in just the jeans and t-shirt again.

And that, my friends, is one reason why I’ll never move back.

The day before, though, we spent a balmy and beautiful afternoon strolling through Todos Santos Plaza in Concord. We had a great time, but I was glad to come home, as usual. There’ll just never be anything like the steady hum of creative energy in our quiet house in our quiet neighborhood in our quiet desert – it always seems quiet, even when it’s not – with the wide-open space all around, the huge sky overhead, and the sound of our Arcosanti bells speaking for the monsoon breeze out front.

OH! We went to see Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom while in Concord. I thought it was good enough for entertainment, but not good enough for a “monthly favorites” list.

The movie-makers told a familiar story this time, didn’t they? An ark with all the different species, a clashing of good and greed-driven evil, and the not-subtle suggestion that Owen and Claire are Adam and Eve in their neo-Jurassic world. Even the movie’s title (Fallen Kingdom) sounds biblical.

I found myself emotionally wrought at the beginning when the brachiosaurus got left behind on the island, watching everyone sailing away to safety. I cried. Callaghan assured me, “No brachiosaurus was harmed in the making of the movie,” but it didn’t help. I spent most of the movie thinking the poor dinosaurs. Gah. I’m always upset to tears when I see horrible things happening to animals, and I guess CGI dinosaurs are no exception.

 

What I’m Digging Right Now – June Favorites

My favorite “Little Things” of June were mostly edible… succulent yellow nectarines, crisp, white nectarines and peaches, and white corn, too. Family and food. They go together. One major personal development for me in June was that when my parents were here, I ventured into Costco, and I didn’t have a panic attack! I don’t know how. It was like, that whole Costco thing was an irrational trigger that just ran its course.

So food was central, but let’s start with…

1). Sense8 (T.V. series)

 

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-Sense8

 

Netflix released season one of this series early in June, and it came to our attention, so we found it and watched it on the site we use to watch T.V. shows (we no longer have Netflix). Our reaction was HOLY. MOLY. We really didn’t have any expectation going in, so it was a nice surprise when Sense8 turned out to be utterly brilliant, a tour de force of sci-fi action/drama with a story fresh and skillfully wrought, seemingly over-ambitious, at first, then startlingly adept at dealing with the intricacies written into the plot. It’s going to be a long year waiting for season two! We might re-watch season one again as season two’s release date approaches; it’ll be good to refresh our memories of some of the story’s complexities.

 

2). True Detective (T.V. series)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-truedetectiveseason2

 

It’s been thrilling to finally sit before a new season of episodes that tell a new story in this excellent anthology series, but can I just say WTF, episode two?? Colin Farrell’s near-perfection in his role isn’t the only good and immediately evident thing about season two, but it’s the central thing so far, in my opinion. Just… really? That’s all I’m going to say. No spoilers here.

 

3). Jurassic World (film)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-jurassicworld

 

I actually deleted the paragraph I originally wrote about Jurassic World because I ended up digressing into a tangent that sounded more like a rant, and this is not the place for such thoughts. This is a place to highlight the Little Things I loved about June, so I’m just going to say (again) that I loved this movie. It’s a film with a plot that’s more or less a facade; it’s really just about dinosaurs and dinosaur-hybrids, particularly a monster in dinosaur clothing. This, to me, is the icing on the 2015 summer action blockbuster cake. A generous dash of visual sensationalism can sometimes have an anesthetizing effect, and Jurassic World delivered!

Now let’s get into some of the food…

 

4). Simple Truth organic creamy peanut butter.

 

Simple Truth Organic Creamy Peanut Butter

Simple Truth Organic Creamy Peanut Butter

 

As a peanut-butter junkie, I’m sensitive to the stuff; I feel like each brand has its own, distinct character. Somehow, they’re all different, even the ones that have the same ingredients. In past “Favorites” posts, I’ve talked about Whole Foods’ 365 brand, and, more recently, Justin’s. This one by Simple Truth is wonderful, too, with its rich flavor and ideal, creamy texture that isn’t too thick or thin. I’m loving it, and I’d definitely buy it again, but we now have two large jars of Costco’s peanut butter sitting in our pantry… they’re next up when this jar of Simple Truth’s is gone… so don’t be surprised if I come back in August reporting on how I noshed ecstatically on Costco’s peanut butter throughout July! We shall see. One can never have too many “favorite” peanut butters, as far as I’m concerned.

 

5). Kirkland Signature Extra Fancy Unsalted Mixed Nuts.

 

Giant jar of roasted, unsalted mixed nuts from Costco!

Giant jar of roasted, unsalted mixed nuts from Costco!

 

Why are these unsalted, roasted mixed nuts Extra Fancy? Only Costco knows. They seem pretty normal to me, and I was happy to find them in these enormous plastic jars. It’s like, my life is complete now… and now that I seem to be cured of my Costcophobia, we’re thinking we might have to join the cult Costco, because what are we going to do once these nuts are gone?

 

6). SkinnyPop popcorn mixed with Go Raw 100% Organic Sprouted Pumpkin Seeds.

 

SkinnyPop Popcorn combined with Go Raw 100% Organic Sprouted Pumpkin Seeds!

SkinnyPop Popcorn combined with Go Raw 100% Organic Sprouted Pumpkin Seeds!

 

I decided to pour some of these seeds over my bowl of popcorn one day after work, and I’ve been hooked on the combination ever since. It makes a thoroughly satisfying marriage of delicate flavors and delicious salt and light crunch and crisp meltiness, and hey, could salty snacking even get more American than this? Popcorn and pumpkin seeds. Welcome to the New World!

Here’s what a part of our kitchen counter’s been looking like:

 

What can I say. I snacked my way through June. The bag of blue corn tortilla chips is off to the side, and yes, that would be a big BOX of Justin's dark chocolate peanut butter cups in the back.

What can I say. I snacked my way through June. The bag of blue corn tortilla chips is off to the side, and yes, that would be a big BOX of Justin’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups in the back.

 

7). Bark Thins Snacking Chocolate Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Seed with Sea Salt.

 

Bark Thins Snacking Chocolate Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Seed with Sea Salt

Bark Thins Snacking Chocolate Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Seed with Sea Salt

 

More dark chocolate! More pumpkin seeds! More salt!

Guess why these weren’t included in that happy little group photo of the other snacks? Because, yes, we polished off this gigantic bag of chocolate in less than a week. (Thanks, COSTCO!) Well, they weren’t all that unhealthy… not at all, in fact… but it was just a lot of sugar. In June, I probably consumed triple the amount of sugar I normally eat, and that is not an exaggeration. I’m surprised I didn’t break out. (*knocks wood*)

Actually, between this and that 28-count box of Justin’s organic dark chocolate peanut butter cups that I was helpless to resist, we might want to re-think that Costco membership. I need a dark chocolate intervention.

Enough food… let’s move on to products!

 

8). Lavanila Laboratories The Healthy Sunscreen SPF 40 Face Cream.

 

Lavanila Laboratories The Healthy Sunscreen SPF 40 Face Cream

Lavanila Laboratories The Healthy Sunscreen SPF 40 Face Cream

 

Here’s an important distinction: I love the sun, and I love living in the sunniest spot in the U.S. of A. But I’m not a sun-worshipper. I’m a sunscreen worshipper. Sunscreen is the number one most important product that I use, and when I went cruelty-free, it became one of the most difficult items to replace. After making much effort with some varieties available in drug stores, I caved and went to Sephora to pick up this expensive sunscreen of Lavanila’s. It’s made for the face, and that’s what I needed… the sunscreens by the other cruelty-free brand I tried not only didn’t play well with make-up, but they also stung when sweat got in my eyes! Lavanila got it right with this sunscreen. It is outstanding.

 

9). Burt’s Bees Vanilla Bean Moisturizing Lip Balm.

 

Burt's Bees Vanilla Bean Moisturizing Lip Balm

Burt’s Bees Vanilla Bean Moisturizing Lip Balm

 

This is my cruelty-free answer to EOS lip balms, which I’d loved. I keep the Burt’s Bees Vanilla Bean Moisturizing Lip Balm in my bag, and on my nightstand, I put the Burt’s Bees Ultra Conditioning Lip Balm with Kokum Butter, because I like a heavier lip balm for night… but I found myself reaching for this one more and more while getting ready for bed. For some reason, it works better for me than the one that’s supposed to be more moisturizing. Now, the Vanilla Bean is the only one that I use. I actually prefer it to EOS!

 

10). Make-up removers: The Body Shop Camomile Waterproof Eye and Lip Make-up Remover and e.l.f. Studio Makeup Removing Cleansing Cloths.

 

My current cruelty-free makeup removers of choice: e.l.f. Studio Makeup Remover Cleansing Cloths and The Body Shop Camomile Waterproof Eye & Make-up Remover

My current cruelty-free makeup removers of choice: e.l.f. Studio Makeup Remover Cleansing Cloths and The Body Shop Camomile Waterproof Eye & Make-up Remover

 

It was so hard to find good cruelty-free make-up removing products. e.l.f. to the rescue once again! (Huge e.l.f. product review post upcoming, by the way, once I can find time to do it.) e.l.f.’s make-up removing cleansing cloths are really good… and when I explored the shelves at The Body Shop, I found this waterproof eye make-up remover, which is not only fantastic, but it’s better than the ones I’d used that were tested on animals. See? If not for my resolution, I’d have never discovered these products.

That’s it for June. Bring on July! (Maybe less chocolate, though!)

Happy Friday, All… and Happy 4th of July, U.S. friends. =)

Jurassic World… because sometimes, your life is lacking in dinosaurage. (“Rage” being the operative part of the word.)

Jurassic World spoiler alert:

There’s a huge, pissed-off dinosaur in it.

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-JurassicWorld2015

 

No, really. In one scene early on, park operations chief Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) explains that their on-site scientists needed to innovate bigger, better dinosaurs (she may have said the words, “faster, louder, scarier,” but I wasn’t taking notes… you get the idea) in order to re-boot the general public’s interest in visiting the park of living, prehistoric attractions. Because, you know, living prehistoric attractions aren’t interesting enough as they are.

I appreciated how Claire was just as much speaking of we, the audience, as she was of the fictional Jurassic World visitors. We movie-goers are the actual visitors of the park; we’re now on installment number four of this behemoth of a sci-fi action-adventure franchise, and let’s face it: At this point, we need “bigger, better, faster, louder, scarier” dinosaurs if any movie starting with the word “Jurassic” is going to get us salivating to the tune of (insert lofty dollar amount in theatre ticket sales). 22 years after the fresh, meteoric impact of the original Jurassic Park roused millions of imaginations around the world, the team behind this new chapter in the saga had to come up with something spectacular… at least in raw dinosaurage, if the plot lines were going to continue along the uninspired course they’d taken in the intervening years.

1993’s Jurassic Park, based on the novel by Michael Crichton, was just a tough act to follow, so to speak. Steven Spielberg unleashed it on a public that’d been unaware of exactly how well dinosaurs could be done in cinema, and not a mind that saw it was left unblown. The sequel was, in my opinion, dull, and the third one looked to be even less interesting. Following that disappointment, folks on the Jurassic World team got busy spawning a super enormous, intricately modified version of a dinosaur. Callaghan and I entered the theatre fully expecting it, since the trailer had looked promising, and we really wanted to believe the hype this time. We weren’t disappointed. Indominus rex was delivered, and the Jurassic thrill was back and intact.

Because Jurassic World quickly developed into a well-paced, rollicking visual fest of panic and people flung asunder, I was breathlessly entertained enough to shrug off my annoyance and suppress my inward eye-rolling provoked by some of the sub-plots and caricatures of the people in the story. I was willing to overlook the absurdity of the shoes on Claire’s feet, which were 1). white (I noticed as she was running through mud), and 2). high-heeled (I especially noticed as she was running through mud). In fact, from the time she started running, I made it a point to look at her feet in each scene, checking to see whether she’d resourcefully broken off the heels. She hadn’t. She ran at breakneck speed through a prehistoric forest and fields with rampaging beasts and her life in peril… wearing high heels.

I wasn’t there for well-developed characters devoid of stereotypes. I didn’t go in expecting to marvel at the usage of restraint in the writing, or in any other aspect. I was there for the suspenseful thrill of it all, and the snappy lightness of the script allowed us to simply enjoy that. We didn’t have to wrangle too much with ethics in science or the over-arching concept of “playing God.” We could just appreciate the excellence of everything done well in the film. We could admire the panache of the motorcycle-riding Velociraptor Whisperer played by Chris Pratt. We could feel gratified when Claire started to see beyond the dollar signs in her park’s living, breathing “assets” and “attractions” and developed respect for the dinosaurs as actual, sentient beings. We could bask in the nostalgic pleasure of the Jurassic Park theme music sweeping through the theatre, carrying us along on our ride, and we could enjoy exhaling before the spectacle of it all. There were angry, vicious dinosaurs, and they were impressive.

[Side note: Glancing around the theatre, we couldn’t help but raise our eyebrows at each other over the sheer number of young children we saw. Especially with the level of advancement reached in CGI technology, how did this film end up with a PG-13 rating? The girl sitting next to us had to be around six years old, and she was in good company with plenty of other children – including babies and toddlers – throughout the sold-out house. We were genuinely confused. Did the parents think that perhaps Jurassic World would feature Barney?

I remember when I went to the theatre with my family to see Alien. I was ten, and the scene that horrified me – the alien popping out of the guy’s chest – made Alien look like a walk through Mister Roger’s neighborhood compared to Jurassic World].

Directed by Colin Trevorrow, Jurassic World brings dinosaur-sexy back after all these years. It’s a satisfying blockbuster summer action flick to watch, and it’s certainly unlike any zoo you’ve ever visited.

Thrashing around in the Throes

“Mr. Hammond, after careful consideration, I’ve decided not to endorse your park.” (Jurassic Park)

What a great conclusion! What valleys of chaos traversed to reach it! (Hmm, if we were to return to our wilderness home in France, would we find T-Rex and Velociraptor tracks in our wake?) Humans seem to thrive on mayhem. What is it about disaster – especially violent disaster – that mesmerizes us?

“I wonder if robots will ever watch Terminator and figure out that they’re supposed to kill the humans,” Callaghan mused as we were eating our salad the other night. “Maybe it’s the movie that’s going to trigger everything!”

Indeed. When it comes to entertaining ourselves with disaster, it’s not enough for people to kill other people. Nature killing people isn’t enough, either. We need robots to kill us, too.

For me, it’s clowns… call me a traditionalist, or maybe just a person with a weak imagination. For those of you who were wondering, the incessant buzz over World War Z extinguished my preoccupation with zombies. Main-streaming the topic to that over-budgeted extent in a “summer action blockbuster” production finally killed it for me. (I enjoyed Zombieland, but even that was borderline. We did try to watch Warm Bodies recently, but we lost interest not even halfway through, and couldn’t finish it. When it comes to zombie movies, nothing does it for me like Shaun of the Dead.) World War Z might be a great movie, and I might really like it, but its making dethroned zombies from the top of my list of dark, fantastical obsessions. My horror sensibilities are stimulated most effectively in the more obscure tunnels of pop culture. Reading the hundredth little article on the production troubles of WWZ, I turned back to clowns with a perverse nod of respect and restored to them their hold on the freak-out center of my brain.

Clowns scare me because those colorfully diabolical characters embody the insane. Insanity means complexity, and the more complex something is, the more there is to fear. Clowns also tend to be smart, and that makes them terrifyingly unpredictable. Zombies are brainless and therefore completely predictable, engendering fear in the opposite way. (If we use this comparison as a political analogy, which would be the scarier party, then, the Clowns or the Zombies?)

Plus, clowns’ origins can be found in nature. This explains everything:

 

Am I right?

Upside-Down in the Jungle

I spent yesterday sitting in my long-awaited Session d’Information Sur La Vie En France (“Life in France” course), Module 1. I did not learn how to do a champagne toast. Instead, the instructor covered different administrative sectors of the French government, both at the national and state levels.

The theme ran ruthlessly through every sub-topic: France is broke. There are cavernous deficits in all administrative areas. Consequently, people are getting less of everything while paying more and more into the system. Allocations are meager at every level. Unemployment is astronomical, which compounds the other problems. There also seems to be a massive epidemic of bureaucratic disorganization that, from what I could discern in class, is responsible for the slowing down of procedural undertakings for everyone – French and foreigners alike – by way of plain old interference. Processing of all administrative actions is slow. Very, very slow.

This brings to mind my favorite Callaghan quote to date:

“My sloth will not be like their sloth. My sloth will be a different sloth.”

Ezma the Sloth - created and drawn by Callaghan

Ezma the Sloth – created and drawn by Callaghan

Callaghan did not utter these words in the context of the French administration. The subject came up in a recent conversation about how the sloth he’d draw would be nothing like the other cartoon sloths out there… and the sloth he drew after that discussion was indeed his own. Another Callaghan original! We named her “Ezma,” after Bella’s daughter, Renesmee, in The Twilight Saga:  Breaking Dawn – Part 2, which we had the misfortune of seeing the other day.

Now that France’s painfully slow processes and extortion of money from French citizens have been officially noted in the classroom, Callaghan and I have elected Ezma as the face of the administration.

After all, as was also explained yesterday, the French enjoy freedom of expression as long as it’s not “slanderous or injurious”… and we don’t believe that using a sloth to represent the administration violates either of those stipulations, though I doubt President Hollande would appreciate a Zazzle shop carrying t-shirts imprinted with a Sloth replacing the noble Gallic Rooster as the French national emblem. It’s just as well, because I don’t think “Paresseux Gaulois” has the same ring to it as “Coq Gaulois,” even though “Coq Gaulois” sounds, to me, less like an emblem and more like a hearty poultry dish to be paired with a bold red wine.

But where the French administration is concerned, Callaghan has been outraged since the dinosaurs inhabited the earth, so Ezma the Sloth seems like an appropriate representative for it. This is a democracy, right? The people choose. Callaghan stormed to his desk and started on the new Ezma drawing immediately after reading my class notes. Cabernet Sauvignon, anyone?