Monday, February 27, 2006

media update: February

I’m posting this a day early because tomorrow promises to be hectic both at work (training in the morning + mail and file in the afternoon = zero slacktime) and at home (a to-do list that could choke Jenna Jameson), so I doubt I’ll be reading or watching anything between now and then.

Oddly enough, two of these books feature women being penetrated with stiletto heels. What the frell? Is this an alarming new literary trend or something? It's not like I thought, "Gee, I'd sure love to read a book that has a scene with a woman being penetrated by a stiletto heel" and Googled for appropriate novels.

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


1. Mirabilis* by Susann Cokal: Wet nurses, religious fanatics, dwarves, the plague, and a beautiful lesbian widow rumored to be a heretic...what more could you ask for in a historical novel?

2. Manstealing for Fat Girls* by Michelle Embree: Oh, what a fabulous book. It's about an overweight teenage girl and her two best friends, an out lesbian and a girl who only has one breast...but it's enormous. She copes with bullying, trying to fit in, losing weight, her sexuality, and her mother's oily boyfriend in prose that's so real it hurts. If you loved Welcome to the Dollhouse, this is its much funnier literary twin. (Caveat to the anal-retentive: there are a lot of spelling and punctuation errors. It's a small-press book, though, so I'm going to let it slide.)

3. The Female of the Species by Joyce Carol Oates: A collection of short suspense stories, one of which ("Madison at Guignol") would make Stephen King puke. I made the mistake of reading it right before bed, and let's just say I didn't sleep too soundly that night.

Read so far this year: 9


1. You'll Never Nanny in This Town Again by Suzanne Hansen: Okay, lady, so the Ovitzes weren't exactly the greatest employers. Quit acting like you lived through Buchenwald!

2. Japanland* by Karin Muller: A fascinating, often funny, and occasionally poignant account of the author's year in Japan.

3. Skinny Bitch by Kim Barnouin and Rory Freedman: I can't say as I've ever read a diet and nutrition guide that included the phrase "Sober up, asshole" before this frequently foulmouthed tome.

4. I Have Chosen to Stay and Fight by Margaret Cho: I loooooves me some Margaret Cho, though much of her humor loses something in print.

5. The Black Dahlia Files by Donald H. Wolfe: In 1946, an aspiring actress named Elizabeth Short was brutally murdered and her dismembered body was tossed in a vacant lot. This book claims---none too convincingly, in my opinion---that Bugsy Siegel was behind the crime. Warning to the sensitive: in addition to the upsetting details of her torture and murder, there are extremely graphic photos of her corpse.

6. Oh the Glory of It All* by Sean Wilsey: In the last couple of years, there have been several memoirs that were so outrageous I couldn't bring myself to believe they were 100% true, such as A Million Little Pieces by James Frey and Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs. Still, despite my suspicions, I enjoyed the hell out of them, and the same is true with this corker. This is the author's account of his very weird and very rich family: his father, prone to taking him to the arcade via helicopter and spouting weird adages like "There is no better thing in this world you can be than a lover of fruit"; his mother, a drama queen of the highest order; and his stepmother, who treats him like shit, but he still masturbates to pictures of her. Alternately thrilling and depressing, and hilarious throughout.

Read so far this year: 12


1. God's Music Box by Megumi Mizusawa

2. Itadakimasu* vol. 4 by Yoshihara Yuki

3. Beauty Pop vol. 3 by Kiyoko Arai

4. Indigo Blue by Yamaji Ebine

Read so far this year: 16


1. Grizzly Man: Disturbing documentary about Timothy Treadwell, a man who was obsessed by grizzly bears and, along with his girlfriend, was eventually killed by one. Part of me feels sorry for him, because he was obviously a little wacky (at one point he puts his hand in bear shit and moans ecstatically, "This was inside her! This was a part of her!") and part of me doesn't, because you just do NOT treat wild animals like huge stuffed toys.

2. Drunken Master: This early Jackie Chan film is enjoyably goofy. Gotta love drunk guys doing kung fu!

3. Layer Cake*: A British crime caper full of double-crossings and dirty deals. I would have enjoyed this even more if I'd understood more than half of the dialogue, but it still gets a star because of the ending and a brilliant sniper scene.

4. Thumbsucker: Indie flick about a teenage boy who copes with his problems by sucking his thumb. It had its moments, and the acting was good, but it's skippable.

Seen so far this year: 16


Anything by Martina Topley-Bird: Recently, G and I finished playing Indigo Prophecy, a PS2 game that started out promising and wound up being a confusing mess. One thing I cannot fault it for, however, is its excellent soundtrack, featuring Angelo Badalamenti (who’s done the score for every David Lynch project), Theory of a Dead Man, Nina Simone, and Martina Topley-Bird. I was so intrigued by “Sandpaper Kisses”, the utterly seductive song featured in Indigo Prophecy, that I wound up downloading this album from iTunes. A review on Amazon describes her work as “chilled noir soul”, which is just about right. If Norah Jones collaborated with Hotel-era Moby, this would be the result.