Tuesday, May 31, 2005

media update: May

Asterisks denote something I particularly enjoyed or found especially worthy of my time; your mileage may vary.


1. Sideways by Rex Pickett: This may be the last time you ever hear me say this: the movie is much, much, much, MUCH better. Although the novel has several scenes that weren't included in the film, trust me, you won't be missing anything.


1. The Man Who Ate Everything* by Jeffrey Steingarten: Another collection of witty essays by the food critic for Vogue.

2. Wrong About Japan by Peter Carey: Travelogue of the author's trip to Japan with his manga/anime-obsessed son. Not nearly as good as I'd hoped it would be.

3. Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight* by Alexandra Fuller: Mesmerizing account of the author's childhood in Africa.

4. Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas: Mildly amusing and occasionally poignant memoir of the author's immigration from Iran to the US as a child in the early 1970's.

5. Hotel Secrets from the Travel Detective by Peter Greenberg: This book backs up my #1 rule of staying in a hotel...never, ever, EVER sleep under the bedspread.

6. Fat Girl* by Judith Moore: Wow. I'm not even sure what to say about this memoir about a woman's struggle with her weight and her nasty mother, but it's uncompromising and occasionally blackly funny, so I would recommend it with a caution that it gets very dark between those covers.

7. The Glass Castle* by Jeannette Walls: A stellar memoir about the author's childhood with an extremely unconventional, constantly broke, nomadic family.


1. I Love You Baby vols. 6-7 by Maki Yoko

2. Level C* by Aoi Futaba and Kurenai Mitsuba: I've had the original Japanese volumes for some time now, and I never thought I'd see the day when I could buy this at Borders. Granted, the translation doesn't add a whole lot---this is the epitome of PWP ("Plot? What plot?") manga---but I'm still glad to have it. Man, this is steamy.

3. Sullen Caress by Miyuki Kitagawa

4. Claudine* by Riyoko Ikeda


1. Unleashed*: Okay, parts of it were really hokey and manipulative, but I frickin' loved this movie. Bob Hoskins, playing the most creepily charismatic crime lord since Ben Kingsley in Sexy Beast, has trained a man named Danny to beat the shit out of people who owe him money, and treats him like a dog by keeping him collared and in a cage when he's not busting heads. When Danny escapes, he's taken in by a kindly blind piano tuner, but the crime lord wants his "dog" back. Jet Li shows surprising emotional depth in his performance as Danny, and do I even need to mention that there are some seriously kick-ass action sequences? During the first fifteen minutes alone, I was punching the air and yelling, which elicited chuckles from the people around us.

2. Dawn of the Dead*: This flick had it all as far as I'm concerned...characters I actually gave a shit about, a few poignant moments, some great black humor, and plenty of splatter to appease the gorehound in me. One of the rare remakes that did its predecessor proud.

Friday, May 27, 2005

the turn of the shrew

So quite a bit of time had passed since we turned in our applications at the apartment we’d been eyeing, and since we hadn’t heard anything yet, I gave them a call.

The manager on duty couldn’t find them.

Uh, helloooo…not like we need to give thirty days’ notice at Crackside Apartments or anything. Sure, we could turn it in and hope for the best, but as shiterrific as our current place is, it’s still better than a Maytag box under the 101 cloverleaf.

In the gallery of absurdity that is my life, yesterday afternoon was kind of like a Kafka novel interpreted on canvas by Salvador Dali.


Wearing a blindfold.

First of all, the regular manager was on vacation, so a manager from a different complex owned by the same company was filling in.

Who do you think it was?

Why, none other than the woman to whom K made the dead body crack!

That’s what I call an auspicious beginning.

She recognized us, of course, and after some flitting about and weird old lady babbling and complaining that we hadn’t written down the number of the apartment we were originally shown (um, who the hell does that?), she took us to look at another unit. I’m not sure why, since we’d already seen one and approved heartily, but whatever it takes.

And oh, how my heart soared anew at its beauty. The pristine white walls and carpet! The tiny bathroom downstairs, tucked into a little nook beneath the stairs! Ample closet space! An air conditioner! A second bathroom upstairs, with a large bathtub and a soap dish that hadn’t been eaten through by generations of Irish Spring! One enormous bedroom and one decently-sized one, both filled with sunlight!

Beautiful. PERFECT. Not only that, but it’s a 10-minute commute from work (as opposed to our current thirty-minute drive up a very steep and congested hill), it’s close to shopping and restaurants, and it’s not even two miles away from Borders.

And…and…and it’s CHEAPER than our current place!

I was about to say something about how much I loved the apartment when Batty McSquawkerson said, “As you can see, this bedroom is very large, so you two gals could both sleep in here and use the other room as an office.” And then she actually cocked her head to one side and looked expectantly at us!

K said, “Oh, no, separate bedrooms for us. We’re not THOSE kinds of girlfriends!”

“You know,” Batty said with a sigh and a flap of her hand, “when I was a girl, I used to walk hand in hand with my female friends and no one thought any the better of it! Those gays and…and LESBIANS took something so sweet and innocent and just RUINED it.”

Oh my god, I wanted to say something so badly…something like “Oh, dear, is it hard to keep your Klan robes white when you have so much bullshit spilling from your mouth?” But this woman was the Cerberus guarding the gates of our potential new home, and we could not say a thing. I merely flipped her off in my mind, and thanked the stars that she would NOT be our new landlady no matter what happened.

When we got back to the office, I noticed a drawing on the desk that looked like a police artist sketch, only really shitty. I thought maybe someone had reported a prowler or something, and had done an amateur sketch of the suspect. Batty noticed me looking and said, “Oh, do you like my drawing? I’ve recently taken it up and I enjoy it so much! Can you tell who it is?”

I mustered up my best diplomatic skills and said, “Wow, it’s on the tip of my tongue, but I just can’t think of his name.”

“It’s Paul Newman!”

Sneakers left a mound of turds in the litter box last night that looked more like Paul Newman.

Anyway, so she looked over my application first, and she pointed at the box where I’d written my gross monthly income. “Is that RIGHT?” she shrieked.

Jesus Christ, lady! I don’t make a shitload of money, true, but I make enough to pay my expenses! It’s not like we’re applying for one of those multimillion dollar condos on the Vegas Strip.

“Yes, it is, but remember, I’ll be splitting rent with K, and since my car is paid off, I have very few expenses.”

“Hmmm,” she grumbled. She finished reading, and then she went over K’s, and finally she said to call back tomorrow and speak to the “real” manager.

When we got in K’s car, we fumed about what a bitch she was, and then K said, “Do you want to get something to eat?”

“Yeah, that sounds good.”

“Where do you want to go?”

I regarded her blearily over the tops of my sunglasses. “Anywhere with booze.”

K just called...apparently we passed muster with the Sphinx because WE GOT IT!!!!