Nounours is a badass in Nounours clothing, and other kitty updates.

These last two weeks, man.

I went to my eye doctor – my REAL eye doctor this time, for the first time in years – had all of the tests done in a full examination, and ordered some new glasses that I’m excited about. That’s the plus. The minus is that the tests yielded some disappointing outcomes. (More on this later, perhaps.)

That along with national news items more sickening than usual, and I’m very glad to post a kitty update post today… pics included, of course!

Nenette’s New Things:

~Stalking and stealing my hair ties.

~Drinking from our glasses of water… to the point where she mostly shuns her water bowls. To the point where she’s trained us to set out glasses of water in certain areas around the house. But hey! Providing Nenette with glasses of water (25% room temperature, 75% chilled, mind you) in hot weather is a small thing to do for a thirsty kitty.

~Jumping up on my desk and posing exactly like the white porcelain cat. She does this a lot, and it’s slightly disturbing in a cute sort of way:

 

Nenette: "WHY does this weird white cat copy everything I do?!"

Nenette: “WHY does this weird white cat copy everything I do?!”

 

Still impossible to say no to this face.

 

Nenette's halo was cut off in this pic, but you can imagine it there.

Nenette’s halo was cut off in this pic, but you can imagine it there.

 

All of the cool, flat surfaces, all of the time.

All of the cool, flat surfaces, all of the time.

 

Nounours’ New Things:

~Nothing.

Nounours is Nounours, and we’re just fine with that. The big purr-monster is perfect the way he is!

 

All of the rugs, all of the time.

All of the rugs, all of the time.

 

Nounours naps like a boss.

Nounours naps like a boss.

 

Nounours: "I'm a badass in Nounours clothing."

Nounours: “I’m a badass in Nounours clothing.”

 

Cita’s New Things:

~Winning at adopting us. Closely related New Thing: being spoiled with love and concern, as every kitty should be.

~Methodically guarding the perimeter of her territory (our backyard) every night after dinner.

~Spending her days napping in the fort I made for her under the lounge chair on the back patio. She also enjoys hanging out next to the hibiscus plants.

 

All of the shade, all of the time.

All of the shade, all of the time.

 

Cita looking more and more like the cherished little girl that she is:

 

Cita: "Beneath my tough street kid exterior I'm really a pampered house cat."

Cita: “Beneath my tough street kid exterior I’m really a pampered house cat.”

 

Like Nenette, Cita has a way of imitating non-animate cats.

 

Le Chat Noir on the left. Cita on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

Le Chat Noir on the left. Cita on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

 

To be Continued!

Fitness routine changes afoot! (Also, what’s new with Nenette)

Fitness update! This may only be interesting to me, but I’m excited about it, so I’m sharing it. AT LONG LAST, I’m going to round out my workout routine with weights. I mean, I believe I’ve figured out how I can fit it into my day.

I hadn’t added a strength-training component to my routine yet due to limited time, and Body Combat three times a week is non-negotiable. This last week, I finally applied some serious thought as to how it could be done.

My friend and Body Combat instructor Izzy the Trainer inspired me when she posted a fitness selfie during her lunch-hour workout. She’s eight weeks post-partum, and she seriously looks like she could take the competition stage in a month! I wish I could train in the middle of the day, I thought, marveling at her drive. Then it occurred to me that my recent move to a new office put me within walking distance of the gym on campus. I did a re-con a few days ago and found that the walk is a mere eight minutes. The idea of working out over my lunch hour started to take serious shape. It is feasible. I can do this.

Still, I vacillated. There’s a small financial commitment involved, and though it’s really not much, I balked at the idea of paying for two different gyms. I got to the point, though, where I decided that the investment would be worth it.

I haven’t jumped in just yet… I’ve been giving thought as to how I could maximize the time I’d have, when and how it would be the most beneficial to work what muscle groups, how often I’d go, and how I’d manage the gym attire/personal hygiene aspect in the middle of my workday. I wouldn’t do a workout that leaves me dripping with sweat, but still, I’d want to clean up somehow before returning to work, of course.

Updates to come!

In kitty news, Nounours and Nenette have been good. We’ve been seeing Nenette’s playful side emerge, and that’s been a lot of fun. The nature of her playfulness actually calls her age into question even more… she really seems more like three or four, rather than the six years old we were told.

Here are a few pics:

 

This made us laugh... Nenette playing with Nounours' tail! He seemed to be flipping it around on purpose.

This made us laugh… Nenette playing with Nounours’ tail! He seemed to be flipping it around on purpose.

 

So many toys! Too many decisions! Just like the Wrah-Wrah.

So many toys! Too many decisions! Just like the Wrah-Wrah.

 

The gold heart tag is new… it’s her microchip tag. Her pink I.D. heart is on the other side.

 

Nounours, the blue-eyed photobomb master!

Nounours, the blue-eyed photobomb master!

 

In this picture, Nenette reminds me of Louise from Bob's Burgers.

In this picture, Nenette reminds me of Louise from Bob’s Burgers.

 

(I was slightly traumatized last night when I went online looking for an image of Bob’s Burgers’ Louise for a possible “Not Unlike” of Louise and Nenette. In the process, I accidentally traumatized Callaghan. Needless to say, I didn’t find what I needed for the “Not Unlike.” Oh, well.)

 

Nenette discovered that she loves playing with this black string.

Nenette discovered that she loves playing with this black string.

 

Tomorrow, both Nounours and Nenette are going to our vet for checkups and updated vaccinations. We also need to get Nounours’ international microchip scanned so we can finally register it to us. We’re hoping to discover Nenette’s actual age… or that she really is six.

Happy Friday, All!

The State of the Wrah-Wrah.

Good morning! The purpose of today’s post is to update you on the state of the Wrah-Wrah.

For those of you who are new here, Ronnie James, aka the Wrah-Wrah, is the elder of our two little boy cats. We adopted them in France and moved them with us to the States, and now, after being here for about a year and a half, they’re both meowing in English… well, this is true for Nounours. Ronnie James does not actually meow. He talks. In English. He often says, wrahwrahwrahwrahwrah, wrah-wrah!

One More Thing you should know about the Wrah-Wrah is that his namesake is Ronnie James Dio:

 

Ronnie James with my headphones on the left. Ronnie James Dio with his mic on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

Ronnie James with my headphones on the left. Ronnie James Dio with his mic on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

 

One More Thing #2: in addition to talking to us, the Wrah-Wrah loves cuddles, kisses, being held and being with us – as in, physically right next to us – more than any kitty I’ve ever known.

Now for the update!

A few months ago I’d talked about how Ronnie James was diagnosed with asthma. His condition has been worsening despite his inhaler treatments, so the day after we returned from California over Thanksgiving break, we took him back to the doctor. A second chest X-ray revealed shadowy areas on his lungs that completely obscured his heart, whereas in his X-ray of three months ago, his heart was visible. This latest X-ray looked worse than bad. It looked horrible, and I spent the weekend talking myself back down from the edge of despair. But I kept hearing the doctor’s voice. It looks like it could be something attached to his heart, she’d said. Or growths….

It goes without saying that you never want to hear the word “growths” come out of the doctor’s mouth when looking at your baby’s chest X-ray.

So we were relieved to hear the official X-ray analysis and Ronnie James’ diagnosis two days later. He has “collapsed lung and consolidated lung,” a complication of his asthma, apparently. His right lobe is collapsed, along with part of his left lobe. The consolidation aspect means that there’s something in his lungs other than air – indicating, likely, fluid. While none of this is happy news, it’s certainly better than “something attached to his heart” or “growths.”

I don’t have the pictures of his insides to show you this time, so here are some recent photos of him on the outside:

 

Le petit Wrah-Wrah!

Le petit Wrah-Wrah!

 

Wrah-Wrah in his favorite dragon stance on his Mommy's foot.

Wrah-Wrah in his favorite dragon stance on his Mommy’s foot.

 

Oh, yeah… Ronnie James is a dragon.

 

Ronnie James on the left. Night Fury from "How to Train Your Dragon" on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

Ronnie James on the left. Night Fury from “How to Train Your Dragon” on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

 

Ronnie James on the left, Night Fury from How to Train Your Dragon on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

Ronnie James on the left, Night Fury from How to Train Your Dragon on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

 

We were told that Ronnie James’ lungs will never be normal again. I read online that kittens and very young cats can have their collapsed lungs re-inflated in special chambers, but the Wrah-Wrah is ten, so that is not an option for us. What we’re doing is we’re minimizing the trauma with diligent, increased application of his inhaler treatments, and at the moment, we’re also going after any infection that might be present and causing the consolidation of his lungs. The day of his diagnosis, he received an antibiotic injection, and we launched a 14-day course of other antibiotics. I placed a double order of Fluticasone inhalers for his daily dosages (now twice daily), and he has his Albuterol inhaler for rescue situations.

We are lucky. We have a wonderful doctor at the University Animal Hospital, which is the best clinic in town. We have a wonderful overseas pharmacy that offers free shipping. Ronnie James has a wonderful Auntie to take care of him when we’re out of town (which we minimize as much as possible). And Callaghan working as a freelancer means that he’s able to be home with the Wrah-Wrah all day, which is a blessing because the Wrah-Wrah is the happiest when he’s with us, and if he needs his rescue inhaler, his Daddy is here with him.

One more thing… Ronnie James’ blood-work came back showing that his thyroid counts are even higher than before. He hadn’t tolerated his liquid thyroid medication well, so we had our local Diamondback Drugs –another amazing pharmacy! – compound his medication into a gel that we rub onto the inside of his ear once a day. This method of drug administration for kitties is revolutionary, friends, which you can imagine if you’re at all aware of the difficulties of giving kitties their oral meds.

That’s it for the update… thanks for reading and for your support. Ronnie James says “wrahwrahwrahwrah!!”

Happy Friday, All!

200th Post! Le Deux Centième!

Well. Today marks a milestone for this blog, because today, exactly one month short of two years since my first post, I’m writing here for the 200th time!

 

Capture200

 

*throws confetti*

Of course, I got to feeling reflective as this milestone approached.

This blog began, in part, because I missed LiveJournal, which I’d more or less abandoned several years earlier. Facebook eventually replaced the social aspect of it, in a sense, but I wanted to journal again. Moreover, I was living in France, in limbo, not working, and I could feel my brain cells disintegrating while my writing muscles atrophied. I did write some poems. I also intermittently worked on a big writing project, but fiction really isn’t my forte… I missed writing creative non-fiction. And when I tentatively returned to writing in LiveJournal, it just didn’t feel the same. For me, the old LJ magic had left the room (but that had happened before I’d quit, which was why I’d quit). Something had to be done!

I went to create a WordPress account, and I was promptly reminded that I already had one. I’d just never used it. How convenient! I named it “That Asian-Looking Chick,” bought the domain and jumped in with the goal of posting two or three times per week. It’s been hella fun, and rewarding, and instructive. I never missed a week, but it wasn’t until March of this year that I fell into a twice-weekly schedule that stuck. By April, it’d evolved into a Tuesday/Friday thing, and eight months later, I’m still comfortable with that.

Surprisingly, getting settled in a regular posting schedule coincided with going back to work. In the same month, Callaghan and I established a consistent routine at the gym. It was interesting how once I was anchored at a job, other things like blogging and working out sort of fell into place. It was like a “structure begets more structure” kind of thing.

I typically just glance at my blog stats and search engine terms, since the superficial layer is right there before my eyes, but in honor of my 200th post, I took a more in-depth look. Some fun facts include:

–Since Netflix released the second season of Orange is the New Black in June, hundreds of views have resulted from searches for the Asian girl who plays a character in those episodes, as I’ve already mentioned. Yes, the OITNB Asian girl madness continues to rage on today! It’s been five months now. (I still wonder whether Kimiko Glenn has any idea of the scope of her popularity.)

–WordPress stats include visitors’ countries. I did a country count and found that, as of yesterday, people have read this blog from exactly 100 different countries. I’m ashamed to admit that a couple of the places on the list are countries that I hadn’t even realized were actual countries. This blog has opened my eyes to the world, and that is fabulous. (Also, if I needed any proof that English is a language spoken, or at least read, world-wide? I’ve got it.)

–You’re mostly a silent crowd on my posts, except for when I wrote about the casting in the film Jack Reacher.

–A few of you have commented with helpful tips in response to my posts, and your sharing has been wonderfully beneficial. For instance, thanks to your awesomeness, we’re hooked on The Following (T.V. series), and I found my favorite Korean facial sheet masks – the Epielle ones I’ve raved about several times – at Big Lots! For an amazing price!

 

Epielle sheet masks at Big Lots!

Epielle sheet masks at Big Lots!

 

–Because of the search terms, I also know that I’m far from the only one looking for that old (1970’s) Charleston Chew candy commercial, the one featuring King Louis. I trust that if anyone finds it, they’ll come back here and share it.

So, as I reflect back to the beginning, I wanted to thank you for reading and hanging out here with me over the last 200 posts/23 months, or however long you’ve been here. I don’t know about you, but I have no idea where all that time went!

Those of you who’ve been here the longest remember when I was an American ex-pat in France who had no clue that she’d move back to the States. You were here when I was an Arizona girl in Texas who had no clue that she’d move back to Arizona. You spent two birthdays with me, you share my “Little Things” (monthly favorites) joy with me, and you’re privy to my enthusiasm for pop culture and martial/fighting arts. You tolerate my kitty blather and pics (mostly Ronnie James, aka the Wrah-Wrah) and “NOT UNLIKE” comparisons. You read about Callaghan’s shenanigans, and you read my embarrassing stories. You follow my occasional cultural comparison observations. You hear me out when I feel the need to rant. You’ve been there during more personal moments, too, such as when my Mom set off on her journey to fight cancer (she’s doing really well, by the way)! And you laugh with me, which I love.

Some things I want to do here in the future? Well, I’d love to get more active as a blogger, reading more of other people’s blogs. I’d also like to mix it up more, spend more time writing about topics that matter to me profoundly. While my routine is fixed, time is actually a constraint (as it is, I’m usually up at around 5:00am to write here). I’d still like to find time to carve out for non-blog writing projects, as well – I currently have a prose piece in the works, and I’d love to pick up on the poeting – so we shall see what transpires over the next two years!

 

Monday lunch hour selfie (October 27, 2014)

Monday lunch hour selfie (October 27, 2014)

 

And who knows… I may yet divulge the story of My Most Embarrassing Moment.

NOT UNLIKE! Dragon Edition.

While most people would agree that Ronnie James and the Nounours have distinct personalities that make them very different from each other, many wouldn’t realize, at a glance, the depth of the differences, which are largely intelligence-based. (Poor Nounours!)

What should be obvious to all who meet them is that our fur-kids carry a peculiar resemblance to the dragons in the How to Train Your Dragon movies. The superficial resemblance is there, for sure… we’ve always thought that Ronnie James (aka the Wrah-Wrah) is a dead ringer for Night Fury, and there are two older NOT UNLIKEs out there to this effect. Then, earlier this week, we were sitting in a waiting room flipping through magazines when I stumbled upon a photo that accompanied a review of How to Train Your Dragon 2, and Lo! The creature had “Nounours” written all over it! I quickly took a picture so you could see. You’ll note that the resemblance isn’t so much superficial as it’s energetic. With their similar expressions, Nounours and this creature seem to share… an I.Q. (Poor, sweet Nounours!)

Callaghan made these NOT UNLIKEs using our most recent pics of our Sons-Who-Have-Fur. You’ll see the likeness of the Wrah-Wrah and the Nounours with their dragon counterparts, especially in their dispositions:

 

Nounours on the left. Dragon from "How to Train Your Dragon 2" on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

Nounours on the left. Dragon from “How to Train Your Dragon 2” on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

 

Ronnie James on the left. Night Fury from "How to Train Your Dragon" on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

Ronnie James on the left. Night Fury from “How to Train Your Dragon” on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

 

Dragony energy all up in here! Now we need to actually watch these movies. Callaghan’s seen the first How to Train Your Dragon, but I haven’t, and we want to see the second one based on its excellent reviews. Lucy hits the theatres today, though, and we’ve been so looking forward to that one! We’d rather spend our scarce movie theatre ticket bucks on sci-fi action flicks. We’ll look forward to a How to Train Your Dragon home movie marathon one day.

Happy Friday, All!

SAY MY NAME: Victor Heisenberg.

We were talking about the highly anticipated Breaking Bad spin-off television series Better Call Saul the other day, Callaghan and I, and that got me thinking about French actor Jean Reno. Why?

I’m going to tell you.

First, if you’re unfamiliar with Luc Besson’s film La Femme Nikita and/or that T.V. series Breaking Bad, no worries! All you have to do to be engaged here is examine the image below and note that I’m not crazy. In the image, I compare a photo of La Femme Nikita’s Victor le Nettoyeur (Victor the Cleaner) to Breaking Bad’s Heisenberg. See, I have a theory about these two shadowy fictional characters (who happen to be two of my favorite shadowy fictional characters in recent pop culture history).

This is my theory: the persona of Heisenberg is a tribute to Victor le Nettoyeur.

We met Victor le Nettoyeur in La Femme Nikita back in 1990. Anyone remember him? The guy who’s called to the scene of Nikita’s job gone awry, announces himself as “the Cleaner,” then goes on to make an (ironically) atrocious mess? He’s only in the movie for about ten minutes, but within those ten minutes, he manages to steal the show in a gruesome display of dubious decision-making. I, for one, have been an ardent Jean Reno fan ever since.

Here’s a clip, but –

**WARNING! This scene from La Femme Nikita is violent and gory, so don’t watch if it’s not for you!**

…just go directly to 2:10 and watch Jean Reno as he utters two words:

 

 

“VICTOR, NETTOYEUR.”

(I was looking for a three-second clip that just featured him saying that, but alas, I could only find full scenes.)I think it’s a riot how he introduces himself with such gravitas!

20 years later, we meet Heisenberg in Breaking Bad. Now here’s that side-by-side of the two:

 

"VICTOR, NETTOYEUR" on the left. Heisenberg on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

“VICTOR, NETTOYEUR” on the left. Heisenberg on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

 

How could this be a coincidence?

The attire. The facial hair. The hats. The villainous demeanor and quirks. The most dramatic difference between the two is Heisenberg’s updated sunglasses style.

If that isn’t convincing enough, consider this:

–In 1990, “VICTOR, NETTOYEUR” dumps corrosive acid on bodies (one of them not quite dead, as it turns out) in a bathtub.

–In 2008, Walter White orders the disposal of a body using acid, and that disposal also happens in a bathtub (though Jesse chose the bathtub against Walt’s instructions) – and two years later, in 2010 (exactly 20 years post-“VICTOR, NETTOYEUR”), Walter’s become the fearsome Heisenberg, who has since established as protocol the usage of acid for body-disposal purposes in (plastic) tubs.

I don’t know about you, but I find there’s something more than a little Victoresque about Heisenberg… and I think that to use Victor le Nettoyeur as inspiration for Heisenberg was a genius move and a marvelous tribute. Well done, Vince Gilligan! Well done.

So that’s what I was thinking the other day as we were talking about the Breaking Bad spin-off Better Call Saul. Incidentally, I’d rather call Saul than “VICTOR, NETTOYEUR,” though I’d call Jean Reno, himself, any day. Just sayin.’

Orange is the New Black, but I’m not the new Asian girl in it.

I wasn’t going to say anything at first, but now I feel compelled to touch on this:

Since Netflix released the second season of Orange is the New Black on June 6, searches for the show’s new Asian character have cascaded throughout the internet in a continuous gush. I know this because all the cascading has landed droves of people upon the shores of my blog.  At first I figured the interest in this mysterious Asian chick would taper off in a few days, but two weeks later, the searches are still going strong. (Mysterious to me, as I don’t watch Orange is the New Black, hence I knew nothing about the girl’s existence until people starting searching for her.)

I’m accustomed to all kinds of bizarre search terms bringing people to thatasianlookingchick.com (especially porn-related ones – I didn’t realize the magnitude of the Asian girl porn genre until I started my blog), but I have to say, this thing with Orange is the New Black took me by surprise. Two weeks after season 2 became available, my search results summary page held more than 25 unique search terms along the lines of “orange is the new black asian chick,” and many of those were keyed in multiple times (one was keyed in 26 times).

So! If you’re reading this because of Orange is the New Black, I’m delighted that you’re here, but I’m sorry I’m not the person you were looking for.I’m just Kristi, That Asian-Looking Chick. (The other one, haha.)

Of course, all of this prompted me to stalk her myself do my own research.  It turns out that Kimiko Glenn, the actor in question, grew up here in Arizona, in the Phoenix metro area. I did, too, in the sense that I’m a late bloomer and I moved here in my early twenties and therefore did a lot of my real growing up here (to the extent that I grew up, that is).

That makes Kimiko Glenn and I:

 

Me on the left. Kimiko Glenn from Orange is the New Black on the right. Two Arizonan Asian-looking chicks on the internet = NOT UNLIKE.

Me on the left. Kimiko Glenn from Orange is the New Black on the right. Two Arizonan Asian-looking chicks on the internet = NOT UNLIKE.

 

…though I actually don’t think we look that much alike.

(New folks, just so you know, these “NOT UNLIKE” comparisons mostly star Ronnie James and Nounours, my sons of the feline persuasion. I’ve never put myself in a “NOT UNLIKE” before.)

The Arizona/Asian/internet crossover is where the likenesses end, probably. I didn’t see a DOB posted anywhere I looked, but I would bet that I’m much older than Kimiko. I’m not even going to try to guess her age. You know how it is with us Asian-looking chicks… it’s hard to tell.

Just when you thought it was safe…

Nounours, who gets less screen time than Ronnie James, wanted to wish you a Happy Hump Day, shark style!

 

Nounours on the left. Shark on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

Nounours on the left. Shark on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

 

We need to get him in on more of the action around here. My new (phone) camera seems to pick up split-second photo ops better than my old camera, so watch this space!

Presenting the First NOT UNLIKE of 2014!

It’s Friday, an ideal day for a NOT UNLIKE featuring Ronnie James. (I know – that was just what you were thinking!) Knowing that we were overdue for one, Wrah-Wrah kindly presented us with a great NOT UNLIKE opportunity.

As you may remember, he has a favorite toy featuring feathers. We were using it to play with him the other day, and when Callaghan teased him by laying the feathered part over his head, his resemblance to Andy Warhol struck us at the same time. We laughed about it.

Then it occurred to us: Andy Warhol. Wrah-Wrah. ANDY WRAH-WRAH.

 

Ronnie James (aka Wrah-Wrah) on the left. Andy Warhol on the right. = Andy Wrah-Wrah. NOT UNLIKE.

Ronnie James (aka Wrah-Wrah) on the left. Andy Warhol on the right. = Andy Wrah-Wrah. NOT UNLIKE.

 

Seriously, doesn’t his face even look like Andy’s?!

Happy First Weekend of the year!

 

50 Shades of Wrah-Wrah

Only one person in our household dressed up for Halloween yesterday, and that was Ronnie James. His costume was so easy, it was almost like cheating.

 

Ronnie James on the left. "Fifty Shades of Grey" on the right. Quite literally, NOT UNLIKE.

Ronnie James on the left. “Fifty Shades of Grey” on the right. Quite literally, NOT UNLIKE.

 

Okay, that was too easy, I admit, but that was a NOT UNLIKE just waiting to happen… the shades of gray (spelling it the American way outside of the title) in Ronnie James’ fur range from silver to gunmetal to taupe, with many more shades in between.

Incidentally, I have never read that book. I might one day. I’ve caught snippets of “news” reports here and there regarding who’s being cast as who in the film adaptation; since I haven’t read it, I can’t really weigh in on the matter, but based on what little I know, I’d venture to guess that Ronnie James wouldn’t work in any of the roles.

We’re now one week away from Moving Day, with the energy and excitement of moving increasing exponentially with each passing day! There’s so much to do, but it’s all very energizing rather than overwhelming. This morning, I woke up with a list in my head and knocked out half of it within an hour. Payments were sent, future arrangements were made, phone calls were placed, appointments were confirmed and canceled, letters were preemptively written, my planner was updated, “notes to self” were scrawled on Post-Its and numerous items were checked off the old “To Do” list. Callaghan’s putting boxes together and taking other things apart, and we’ll head out to the V.A. this afternoon. The whole next week begins now, and it’s going to pass us in a flash! Let the adventure begin!

KoWrahWrah Alert

As I’ve mentioned before, when Ronnie James goes around talking, he really talks… he says wrah-wrah-wrah, rather than meow. He even varies his pitch conversationally, using “wrah” and similar words to form sentences. In fact, we’ve never heard him meow or mew or make any other stereotypically feline sound. Hence, we sometimes call Ronnie James “Wrah-Wrah James,” or just “The Wrah-Wrah.” As it turns out, the appropriateness of this moniker has another dimension to it… because Ronnie James is a KoWrahWrah bear, distant cousin of the Koala bear. He’s a freak of evolution.

We have these heavy old barstools with metal bar backrests, and Ronnie James enjoys lounging on the one in the living room with his paws wrapped around the bars, holding onto it the way a Koala clings to a tree. We’ve often commented on the Koala bear likeness, but we just now got around to doing up a NOT UNLIKE.

 

Ronnie James (aka Wrah-Wrah) on the left. Koala bear on the right. = KoWrahWrah bear. NOT UNLIKE.

Ronnie James (aka Wrah-Wrah) on the left. Koala bear on the right. = KoWrahWrah bear. NOT UNLIKE.

 

No Eucalyptus for The Wrah-Wrah, though! He only wants your toast crumbs.

Inspired by Ronnie James

We often call him “Wrah-Wrah” or “The Wrah-Wrah” because that’s his favorite word. “Wrah-wrah-wrah-wrah-wrah,” he mutters as he walks around. He uses different pitches, tones and intonations to modify its meaning. It works as a shortened version of his name, too… Ronnie James – Wrah-Wrah.

Sometimes, it’s his fierce ki-ya, his warrior call. “Wrah-WRAH!”

Which makes me itch to get back into martial arts again, soon, because it’s been too long. Ronnie James goes around dragging his toy weapon, and my kali sticks are locked up in storage in France. I hope to return to some kind of training soon.

 

Ronnie James with his weapon on the left. Warrior with his weapon on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

Ronnie James with his weapon on the left. Warrior with his weapon on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

 

On that note, I’m off to get ready… we have a full weekend planned, starting with hanging out with a visiting friend this afternoon. We’re meeting for lunch and then going to the Museum of the Weird. WRAH!

Presenting the Mythical Nounours – Another Cat Post, but the OTHER Cat!

If you read this space regularly, you know Ronnie James by now. He’s featured in most of the NOT UNLIKE banners of Callaghan’s creation. You couldn’t be blamed if you’re unaware that we have another cat, Nounours, since photos of him rarely appear here. For one thing, he often stashes himself away under the bed during the day (the French reflexive verb “se cacher” for “to hide oneself” is so perfect… it’s one of my favorite French verbs), making himself unavailable for the camera. It’s even harder to photograph him being comparable to something else (as in the NOT UNLIKES), because he’s the kind of cat who tends to look the same in every picture.

Nounours! The Cat Formerly Known as “Bruce Willis,” who, in concept, actually started out as one of The Three Stooges.

It was about this same time last year that we arrived at the decision to get cats. After my feline daughter Detta’s disappearance, we were missing kitty paw-steps in the house, plus we had an issue with rodents in our little wilderness abode.

Our initial idea was to adopt three adult males and call them “Larry,” “Curly” and “Moe” after the guys in The Three Stooges, but we reconsidered, deciding that just two cats would be better.

We brought the big guys home and named them Ronnie James (after rocker Ronnie James Dio) and Bruce Willis (after the actor).

Ronnie James learned his name right away, immediately, on Day One… but Bruce Willis never responded to his. The name just did not work for him. Calling “Bruce Willis!” would get us nothing but completely ignored. It was like he hadn’t heard us at all.

 

Nounours (formerly known as Bruce Willis) on the left, Bruce Willis on the right. UNLIKE.

Nounours (formerly known as Bruce Willis) on the left, Bruce Willis on the right. UNLIKE.

 

He did learn his nickname, though: “Nounours” (“teddy bear” in French). Eventually, we gave up on “Bruce Willis” and officially changed his name.

 

The French medical passport of the French Nounours, pictured wearing his French beret. But he was born on the 4th of July!

The French medical passport of the French Nounours, pictured wearing his French beret. But he was born on the 4th of July!

 

But! As it turns out, Nounours, when he decides to show expression, DOES resemble one of The Three Stooges – Curly. He’s like Curly in other ways, too. He’s round, warm and friendly. He’s rather slapstick in his behavior, and he’s not, um, the sharpest blade in the drawer. He pokes his brother and tumbles around. He’s a total goofball.

Yesterday, he happened to be out and about, and he was being unusually expressive, so I capitalized on the situation and spent some time stalking him with the camera. Hence, I can present the first NOT UNLIKE featuring Nounours!

 

Nounours on the left, Curly from The Three Stooges on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

Nounours on the left, Curly from The Three Stooges on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

 

Have a great weekend, Everyone!

Warning: This Post Contains a Fruitchouli-Scented Explosive and Dragons. And Football Players.

First things first: THE HOUSTON TEXANS, NFL Football! I’m ashamed of myself… I failed to include them in my post about Texas teams. Apologies, Texans!

There’s this saying in American English (here’s a short lesson in American slang for you non-Americans): When something’s really spectacularly, unbelievably, out-of-this-world awesome, you can say, “It’s the bomb” – just like that, really stressing “the bomb” part. This comparison of something super delightful to a destructive explosive in order to emphasize the extreme wonderfulness of the super delightful thing comprises fairly common slang here in the States.

Putting it simply, to say that something is “the bomb” is to give it the very highest praise.

Therefore, I shouldn’t have been surprised when I came across a bottle of perfume in the shape of a hand grenade (a small bomb that’s made to be hand-thrown), even though the perfume’s designer isn’t American. The bottle caught my eye nonetheless, and yes, it does now reside on my bathroom counter, and yes again, the fragrance it contains is, in my opinion, the bomb. Callaghan loves it, and I’ve received several enthusiastic compliments on it from strangers both on the bus and on the street.

 

"Exotic" by Jimmy Choo

“Exotic” by Jimmy Choo

 

I’m not 100% positive that the designer intended for the bottle to resemble a hand grenade. That’s just the first thing that comes to my mind when I look at it. It’s like the ink blot test of perfume bottles.

It was a gift, and I adore it.

“Exotic” is actually an eau de toilette, not a perfume, for those who are interested in the technicalities of things. It smells like a bunch of berries and vanilla and flowers and stuff thrown on top of patchouli, which I normally don’t like. So it’s basically a fuchsia glass fruitchouli-scented hand grenade sculpture, and it’s wonderful.

(Don’t worry. I’m not aspiring to a career as a fragrance reviewer.)

On another note of uncanny resemblances, Callaghan’s been remarking for a while now on the likeness between Ronnie James and Night Fury the Dragon in the film How to Train Your Dragon, so he made a NOT UNLIKE picture to demonstrate it:

 

Ronnie James on the left, Night Fury in "How to Train Your Dragon" on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

Ronnie James on the left, Night Fury in “How to Train Your Dragon” on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

 

…and another one:

 

Ronnie James on the left, Night Fury from How to Train Your Dragon on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

Ronnie James on the left, Night Fury from How to Train Your Dragon on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

 

And that is why one of Ronnie James’s nicknames is “Precious Angel Baby Bunny DRAGON.”

Happy Friday!

Birth Control Glasses… Classic!

Yeah, we all know my inner girly parts have left the party, so no need for birth control anything, but I’m getting these glasses, anyway.

Let me explain. See, I have an appointment at the Eye Clinic at the Veteran’s Outpatient Clinic in the first week of September. I’m going to get glasses there because I can, and I need them – not 24/7, but for watching movies and staring at computer screens for long periods of time, which I do (ahem) kind of a lot, being both a movie fanatic and a writer. My current state of “glasseslessness,” shall we say, has gone on long enough. I do have a pair at the moment, but the right-side lens is flawed… it fogs up spontaneously while I’m wearing them, so they’re pretty much useless. Has anyone else experienced this problem with their glasses?

Anyhow, I wasn’t even aware that I was eligible to get glasses from the V.A. until I attended the New Patient Orientation last month, and the presenter covered that topic as he navigated down through his informative Power-Point presentation. I almost missed it, because the subject came up while I was only listening with one ear. (My other ear was momentarily tuned in to my inner voice, which was busy wondering what we were going to have for lunch. I was hungry.)

I heard the venerable older Vet utter the words “eye exam,” and the word “glasses.” And then, as he casually continued on, he used a term I hadn’t heard in many years: “BCGs.”

It took a second for it to come back to me, but once it hit, I started laughing. I couldn’t contain it, and I instantly felt like a Bad Person for interrupting him. He paused… glanced my way… and burst out in laughter, as well! BCGs. Damn! I hadn’t thought of them in so long.

“You’re a Stormer, right?” he asked me, verifying that I was the Gulf War vet on his roster.

“Yes,” I said. The connection was made. Mutual laughter is a wonderful thing.

The military has acronyms for everything, and everything you need is provided as standard military-issue. If you need glasses, you’re issued glasses, and those glasses are known by the acronym “BCGs.” Birth Control Glasses.

The idea is that the glasses are so ugly, you won’t be able to get laid if you’re wearing them. It’s a joke, but “BCGs” is seriously what everyone in the Army calls them. It’s practically their official name, and that’s what’s so funny about it. All soldiers know what BCGs are… at least, they did during my time. I’m sure it’s still the case today. The Army is fairly change-resistant in many ways.

Depending on the era, BCG frames can be horn-rimmed or slightly squared-off, but they’re always large, thick and dark (either black or brown).

Callaghan was sitting there with me, and he was confused. Being French, he was thinking of tuberculosis. In French, “BCG” is the term for the tuberculosis vaccine (Le vaccin bilié de Calmette et Guérin).

 

French tuberculosis vaccine on the left, American military standard-issue glasses on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

French tuberculosis vaccine on the left, American military standard-issue glasses on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

 

In the civilian world, hipsters have now made BCGs a part of their basic everyday uniform. See how that works? Military HAS to wear them. Hipsters WANT to wear them. (Come to think of it, civilians also like to wear camo print and combat boots. Solider fashion, always in fashion! It’s a classic… never goes out of style. Hmm….)

And so it is that I shall obtain a pair of glasses from the V.A., and I’m grateful for it. When we wandered into the glasses area while we were down there last week, I saw that there’s a plethora of available frame styles, and some of them are quite attractive… so the glasses I get don’t have to be actual BCGs, unless I choose them with the civilian hipness factor in mind. Still, the idea of glasses from the V.A amuses me.

Now for the obvious question: If these glasses are perched on the favorable end of the desirability scale in civilian hipsterdom, what would that make them, in that case? “PGs” – Pregnancy Glasses? “GLGs” – Get Laid Glasses? Parents of hipster kids, lock up those glasses!

 

20 Questions, Bus Edition

On the bus the other day, we trundled past the billboard on Lamar that asks, “Can You Name 7 Kinds of Berries?” It’s a fruit ad for summer. There’s one for “5 Kinds of Apples” somewhere, too. I turned to Callaghan to see if he was up to the task.

“Okay… name seven kinds of berries!”

“Halle Berry.”

He didn’t even blink. “Halle Berry” was literally the first thing to pop into his mind when he heard “berries.” But the woman is inhumanly beautiful, so who can blame him?

“Chuck Berry,” he continued, grinning. “Barry White. Barry Manilow…”

“What’s Ronnie James’s nickname?” I cut off his string of berries, even though I was laughing.

“Precious Kitty Baby Boo Boo?”

“WRONG!”

“Wrah-Wrah Boo Boo?”

Where’s the “Boo Boo” part coming from, I wondered. I’ve never used that nickname. And “Wrah-Wrah” is one of his own terms of endearment for The Ronnie James. (Actually, it’s a word in RJ’s vocabulary. It’s Kitty-ese. We’re just imitating him when we say it.)

“It’s ‘Precious Angel Baby Bunny Dragon’,” I reminded him. Duh.

“Oh. Yeah.”

More on that later. It’s a “NOT UNLIKE” kind of thing.

Anyway, I would be remiss in not providing a visual for this post, so here you go….

 

Halle Berry

Halle Berry

 

Have a luscious (and nutritious) summer weekend, All!

“You Can’t Kill Rock and Roll”

On Saturday night, we went to see Black Sabbath, as in, the British hard rock band that was formed in 1968, the year I was born. As in, yeah, these guys are a bit older now, so can you believe that I actually got to see them perform?

Last month, they released 13, their first studio album in 33 years, and the album took off. After its first week, it sold 155,000 copies and inexplicably ripped its way around the Billboard obstacle course, spiraling up to hit Number One on the charts in the UK, USA and seven other countries. With this accomplishment, Sabbath secured the Number One spot for the first time in history and escorted hard rock/metal done the old-fashioned way back onto the scene. At the concert, we saw many people our age and older, but we picked out all age groups in the massive crowd. The teenagers in the seats in front of us were probably no older than fifteen.

I was beside myself with excitement over this show. It really meant a lot to me.

I’m passionate about many different types of music, including classical, EBM/industrial, (some) rap and (some) country and a smattering of other genres, but since I’m talking about Black Sabbath here, I present the following brief chronology of my history just as a hard rock/metal fan:

(First, let me just say that it’s my parents who rock. They survived the years I skulked around in a Black Sabbath t-shirt and chains while they observed other people’s daughters looking cute and preppy in pink Izod shirts [and who went off to college immediately after high school. I was the only daughter they knew who joined the Army and went to war and did the whole college/grad school thing later. But that’s another story]).

–Sixth grade: I bought Back in Black, AC/DC’s new album. I was 12, and Back in Black was the first album I ever purchased myself, which established hard rock as my first love of all the genres of music. I was taking piano lessons, so I was listening to Chopin waltzes, too, among other things, but I didn’t blast Chopin waltzes. I blasted AC/DC, loudly and frequently. My parents started to wonder what was happening.

–Grades seven and eight: my friends and I fixated on Ozzy Osbourne’s Blizzard of Oz and Diary of a Madman. We shed real tears the tragic day Randy Rhodes, Ozzy’s phenomenal guitarist, died in a plane crash. The gloom that blanketed the world of music that day fell heavily upon the halls of Steinbeck Junior High in San Jose, California. Rhodes was a legend, but we felt like we’d lost our brother. I don’t know. We were 13 years old. We were like, “Randy Rhodes is dead? WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO NOW?” It was inconceivable.

–Grades nine-twelve: High school. I listened to ALL the metal out there – and it was a lot, remember… this was the 80’s hair-band era – but AC/DC, Judas Priest, Def Leppard, Van Halen, Aerosmith, Black Sabbath and Ozzy were my favorites in the genre. Also, I spent many a Saturday afternoon listening to Iron Maiden with the guy who worked the bar at Shakey’s Pizza. (David. Funny that I still remember his name!) It was cute. Though we really liked each other, nothing “happened” when we were hanging out – he was a lot older than me – but he got me hooked on Maiden with Killers, and that was it. To this day, Killers is still my favorite Iron Maiden album, and Maiden is still one of my favorite metal bands.

–During and after the Army, Queensrÿche, D.A.D., Faith No More, Vixen, Warlock, Savatage, Megadeath, Slayer, Anthrax and Metallica were some of the bands that joined the crew in my metal music collection. I also really enjoyed guitarist Joe Satriani, and my love for Alice Cooper’s Trash album bordered on obsession.

–Flash forward to 2003, when I discovered Disturbed’s The Sickness while training in Muay Thai at an MMA gym in Arizona. My trainer kept it cranked, and I loved it so much that I had to own it. I bought it and wore it out in my little truck. The significance of this is that The Sickness was the last metal album that I actually purchased until Sabbath released 13 last month. (This is not to say that there weren’t other bands in the interim, because there were. I just didn’t go out and buy any metal CDs between Disturbed in 2003 and Black Sabbath last month.)

What can I say about Saturday’s show?

It was definitely An Experience. The guys did a fantastic job overall. We had a solid good time, and I will never forget it.

It was an incredible feeling just to be there.

 

Waiting for the show to start. We got there early.

Waiting for the show to start. We got there early.

 

What I really took away from the show was a reinforced crush (maybe not a “crush” so much as some sort of hero-worship thing) on lead guitarist Tony Iommi, who is a God.

Iommi lost two of his fingertips in a factory accident when he was a teenager, but that didn’t stop him from doing what he knew he was born to do. He fashioned some “thimble-like devices” out of a “squeezy bottle” and stuck them on the ends of his amputated digits to extend them, then went on to play guitar for Jethro Tull before co-founding Black Sabbath with Ozzy, Geezer and Bill. They were a bluesy kind of hard rock band at first. From there, they evolved into their signature sound and ultimately grandfathered heavy metal and all of its derivatives. Yes… one of history’s greatest hard rock lead guitar legends has amputated fingertips.

 

Tony Iommi, lead guitarist and co-founder of Black Sabbath

Tony Iommi, lead guitarist and co-founder of Black Sabbath

 

Quoting from wiki: “Iommi is widely considered to be one of the greatest and most influential rock guitarists of all time. A prolific riff-maker, he was ranked number 25 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the ‘100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time’.”

Fake fingertips, okay? And I mean, not costly, sophisticated works of custom-made, medically engineereed craftsmanship, either. We’re talking homemade fake fingertips that he stores in what appears to be an old Altoids tin:

 

 

The man is tireless, in possession of a relentless drive, an admirable work ethic. He’s constantly busy. The solo album he released in 2000, called, simply, Iommi, is a veritable piece of musical collaborative genius and one of my all-time favorite metal CDs. (I introduced it to Callaghan, and it’s now one of his favorites, too.)

Yet young at 64, Iommi’s now working to beat down lymphoma. Blood cancer. Where was he on Saturday night? Here in Austin, on stage, rocking his ass off. His performance was spectacular. I sat back in my seat and closed my eyes, listening to his solos in the dark with people around us screaming, and thought, Wow. That’s Tony Iommi on that stage down there!! I never thought I’d get to hear him play live.

You know, Ronnie James Dio, who took over Sabbath’s lead vox after Ozzy’s departure in 1979, died of cancer in 2010. (Why yes, we did name our kitty Ronnie James after him!)

 

Ronnie James with my headphones on the left. Ronnie James Dio with his mic on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

Ronnie James with my headphones on the left. Ronnie James Dio with his mic on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

 

“It’s only now, since his passing, that people are coming out saying how great he was,” Iommi says of Dio in a “good-bye message” he videotaped in 2011.

 

(video cuts off at 1:48)

 

Iommi received his own cancer diagnosis within a year of this interview, in early 2012.

News for you, Iommi: YOU are great. YOU ARE THE MAN. You’re looking good and performing like it’s no one’s business, and thank you so much. Thank you for inspiring us with your passion and dedication! Here’s to many more years of showing them all how it’s done!!

Here’s my favorite Black Sabbath song, “Megalomania” (Sabotage, 1975):

 

 

And here are a few pics we took before, during and after the concert…

 

Callaghan, mid-stride

Callaghan, mid-stride

 

Me, pausing for a snapshot outside of Consuela on Congress

Me, pausing for a snapshot outside of Consuela on Congress

 

 

From left: Geezer Butler (bass), Tony Iommi (guitar), Ozzy Osbourne

From left: Geezer Butler (bass), Tony Iommi (guitar), Ozzy Osbourne

 

OZZY

OZZY

 

The Texas State Capitol, a gorgeous building. We walked through the grounds to get to the concert and back to our bus on Congress.

The Texas State Capitol, a gorgeous building. We walked through the grounds to get to the concert and back to our bus on Congress.

 

Me with Ronnie James as I was writing this. Ronnie James loves him some headphones!

Me with Ronnie James as I was writing this. Ronnie James loves him some headphones!

 

 

 

 

Infernos Everywhere! Run! Or, Cover Yourselves.

Some of you appreciated my impromptu ramble about masks, so let me do another “1-Minute Topical” as a kind of Public Service announcement. Subject: sunscreen. I wear it on my face every day, no matter what. Even if there’s no sun. Even if I’m not leaving the house. It’s the one product about which I’m kind of fanatical; I’ve been using it religiously for decades.

I once read – and I truly believe – that where there’s daylight, there’s a need for sunscreen, because a room filled with daylight is a room filled with damaging UV rays. Yes, your skin can sustain damage under a cloud cover! The term “sun damage” is a misleading one, in my opinion. You don’t need golden beams of sunshine to end up with skin damaged by UV rays. You are not safe if it’s overcast. Know how vampires are affected by daylight even if they’re inside? Same danger.

 

Skin cancer happening

Skin cancer happening

 

While I envision horrible things happening to unprotected skin after sunrise, I’m not daunted. It’s easier to put on sunscreen than to hide from the daylight in a coffin until nightfall. I like an SPF of 30, minimum, in a broad-spectrum (that means UVA and UVB) formula. My current anti-UV ray weapon of choice is Eucerin’s Sensitive Skin Everyday Protection Face Lotion, SPF 30, which I’ve used since at least 2009. It’s great. (Side note: Eucerin and its parent company, Beiersdorf, claim to not test on animals, though their names don’t appear on current cruelty-free products lists… so I’m not sure what that’s about. Conflicting information alert.)

Speaking of animals, our boys’ true natures have really emerged since we’ve been here. It’s warm, and there’s carpet, so they’re letting it all hang out, so to speak. I’m not sure about Nounours (he’s harder to read), but Ronnie James is Hawaiian at heart. This is clear from the fact that he enjoys playing air-ukulele while lying on his back. We’ve caught him dancing the hula, also while lying on his back. And he loves to sit on his butt in big armchairs, as people in Hawaii are wont to do. (I know this first-hand. My family is originally from there, so I’ve spent a lot of time there, myself.)

 

WrahWrah-Bundy

 

Mmm-hmm… Ronnie James’s got the hang-loose ‘tude of the locals down (not that Al Bundy is Hawaiian), and he was obviously born with it, because his ukulele-playing, hula-dancing self has never been to Hawaii.

 

Hula dancing

Hula dancing