Wednesday, May 31, 2006

media update: May

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


1. Lovers & Players by Jackie Collins: Trash. There are tons of plot twists in this book, but none of them will surprise you unless you have never read a book or seen a movie before in your entire life. I had nothing better to read at the time, though, so it served its purpose. (Trivia: Allegedly this is one of Jessica Simpson's favorite books, and if a movie is ever made, she wants to play aspiring singer Liberty. Yeah, Jessica, because you can REALLY pass as biracial.)

2. How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life "by" Kaavya Viswanathan: I'd gotten about halfway through this book when I read on Gawker that the author plagiarized from at least two other books. All I can do is quote Morrissey here (and this is from memory; I didn't even have to Google this because I'm such a freaking nerd Smiths fan): "If you must write prose and poems the words you use should be your own/don't plagiarize or take on loan/there's always someone somewhere with a big nose who knows/and who'll trip you up and laugh when you fall." I finished the book anyway, but although it has a few amusing moments, it's not very good, and it feels like it was written with the inevitable movie in mind. Word to the wise: the publisher recalled this book after the scandal hit, and copies are selling on Ebay for far greater than their original purchase price, so if you happen to see it, snap that shit up. (My copy came from the library, alas.)

3. Dark Tort by Diane Mott Davidson: They're not exactly great literature or anything, but I really enjoy Davidson's culinary mysteries. This isn't one of her better ones, though.

4. Gone by Jonathan Kellerman: Two aspiring actors set up a kidnapping hoax, but one of them is murdered shortly thereafter, and Alex Delaware agrees to help his detective friend Milo Sturgis (my favorite character in the Delaware novels; gotta love a recurring gay character who's actually ugly and dresses poorly) with the case. Kellerman's stuff is usually either really good or really bad, but this one falls squarely in the middle of the spectrum.

5. Three Kinds of Asking for It (anthology): A collection of three erotic novellas. My favorite, "Jodi K.", was very well-written but not erotic at all; the other two are okay. I didn't, you know, rub one out or anything.

Read so far this year: 21


1. Hershey by Michael D'Antonio: Biography of Milton S. Hershey, the founder of the Hershey's candy empire and, apparently, one hell of a philanthropist. I shall support his charitable endeavors by eating some chocolate this very minute!

2. The Other Hollywood* by Legs McNeil and Jennifer Osborne: A fascinating, extensive oral history (um, no pun intended) of the adult film industry, from the "nudie cuties" of the fifties to today's superstars.

3. Fresh Fruits: At first I wasn't sure whether I should include this, since it's just a photobook of Japanese street fashion, but meh...might as well pad my stats. Anyway, some of this shit is wild. I'm a big fan of the Gothic Lolita look myself (not, of course, that I could wear it; some things you just have to be a Japanese girl to pull off).

4. Don't Try This at Home (anthology): World-famous chefs share their biggest horror stories, from temperamental maitre d's to trouble with meringue.

5. Coroner's Journal: Stalking Death in Louisiana by Louis Cataldie: Recollections of a coroner's most interesting cases. My personal favorite anecdote was the call he got about three human fetuses behind a Costco. When he got there, he realized they weren't fetuses, but uncooked Rocky Mountain oysters. Now, what they were doing there, nobody knows.

6. A Death in Belmont by Sebastian Junger: Account of the Boston Strangler's reign of terror. The author was inspired to write this book because Albert DeSalvo did some construction work on his childhood home.

7. Eat This Book* by Ryan Nerz: An incisive, funny, and occasionally utterly revolting look at competitive eaters, or "gurgitators". Oddly enough, two of the biggest champions in the field, Sonya Thomas (11 pounds of cheesecake in nine minutes) and Takeru Kobayashi (53 1/2 hot dogs, with buns, in 12 minutes) are tiny. (See the book's "Belt of Fat" theory for why thinner people may do better at this type of thing.)

8. The Devil's Picnic by Taras Grescoe: And in keeping with the food theme, here we have a book by a man who went around the world in search of "forbidden" foods, beverages, and other treats, such as absinthe, Cuban cigars, bulls' balls, and unpasteurized cheese. I think I'll pass, kthx.

Read so far this year: 33


1. President Dad by Rhim Ju-Yeon

2. Cafe Kichiouji De* vol. 2 by Yuki Miyamoto and Kyoko Negishi

3. Peach Fuzz by Lindsay Cibos and Jared Hodges

4. Swan* vol. 6 by Kyoko Ariyoshi

5. Love Vibes by Erica Sakurazawa

6. Cat Street* vol. 2 by Kamio Yoko

7. Assume the Position!* by Hisami Shimada

Read so far this year: 42 volumes


1. Hard Candy*: An incredibly tense film about a 14-year-old girl (Ellen Page, who's phenomenal) who hooks up with an older man online. His intentions are bad; hers just may be worse. Highly recommended, although men may have a very rough time watching it.

2. Memoirs of a Geisha: The book was better, largely because the acting in this movie is pretty subpar. (To be fair, though, it has to be difficult to act in something other than your native language.) It's still worth watching because it's such an unbelievably beautiful movie. During one particularly breathtaking scene, I said, "Oh my god, this makes me want to go back to Japan so bad" and G patted my arm and said, "Just think of the tentacle porn, dear."

3. Shopgirl*: A melancholy valentine about a young woman who finds herself torn between an older man who's much more generous with his money than his affection and a goofy guy her own age. I found the narration distracting, but fortunately there isn't much of it.

4. Diggstown: No one has a way with a snarky line like James Woods.

5. Thank You for Smoking*: A brilliantly barbed satire of the tobacco lobby. I was disappointed that my absolute favorite scene from the book was shortened, but it's still a great movie.

6. Tremors: Giant worms terrorize a small desert town. The special effects are pretty dated (understandable, since it was made in 1990), but it's fun, and Kevin Bacon is pretty damn hot.

7. The Squid and the Whale: This portrait of a disintegrating marriage and the toll it takes on the children is certainly no chucklefest, but it's incredibly well-made and the performances are stellar, so even though I can't say I enjoyed it, I have to give it props on those merits alone.

8. Transamerica*: Felicity Huffman is absolutely brilliant in her performance as Bree Osborne, a transgendered individual who's one operation away from being a complete woman. She discovers the teenage son she never knew she had, and together they embark on a road trip. Parts of it are a bit too soap operaish, but overall it's a fun, poignant movie.

9. Everything Is Illuminated: Elijah Wood plays a young Jewish man who goes to the Ukraine in search of his roots. A very odd but fascinating little movie, the highlight of which is Eugene Hutz as the translator. ("The women all want to be carnal with me. This is because I am premium dancer.")

Seen so far this year: 39


1. "Ooh La La" by Goldfrapp

2. "Night Moo Moo" by Akitaka Tohyama

3. "None But the Lonely Heart" by Junko Nishi

4. Memoirs of a Geisha (soundtrack)

5. "The Bad Touch" (Daft Punk remix) by The Bloodhound Gang

6. "Short Dick Man" by Gillette (I have Amandear to thank for making me dig out my old Raunchorama! mix CD just to upload this song; all of the sex-themed songs this month are from that CD.*)

7. "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" by Revolting Cocks

8. "Oh Nick Please Not So Quick" by E-Rotic: The catchiest song about premature ejaculation ever!

9. "Deep Sexy Space" by Lords of Acid

10. "Take Control" by Lords of Acid

11. "Sadeness Part 1" by Enigma

12. "Rough Sex" by Lords of Acid

13. "I See You Baby" by Groove Armada

14. "Bunnies" by Pansy Division

15. "Lick It" by Gillette

16. "Drop Your Pants" by Hilary

17. "Sit on Your Face" by Lords of Acid

18. "Jet Boy Jet Girl" by The Damned: I remember hearing this on KROQ back in the mid-80's and being utterly scandalized.

19. "Closer" by Nine Inch Nails

20. Come Away With Me by Norah Jones: Yeah, "Don't Know Why" was played to death, but I still maintain that "I've Got to See You Again" is one of the sexiest damn songs I've ever heard.

21. "More Than This" by Norah Jones

22. "Bessie Smith" by Norah Jones

23. "RSVP" by The Bloodhound Gang

24. "Soul Meets Body" by Death Cab for Cutie

25. Perennial Favorites by Squirrel Nut Zippers

26. "Smell" by The Dambuilders: Contains one of my all-time favorite lyrics: "My nowhere heart/strained through years of one-hand worship".

27. "Shrine" by The Dambuilders

28. "There She Goes" by The Boo Radleys

29. "Saturday Night" by Ned's Atomic Dustbin

30. "My Insatiable One" by Suede (Remember when they were supposed to be the Next Big Thing? Wh'appened?)

31. "Two Princes" by The Spin Doctors

32. "Mope" by The Bloodhound Gang ("Naw, bitch, I'm talkin' 'bout motherfuckin' Falco and shit!")

33. "Yummy Down on This" by The Bloodhound Gang ("Ouch, it won't reach my mouth! If I could do it myself I'd probably never leave the house")

34. "The Ballad of Chasey Lain" by The Bloodhound Gang

35. "Magna Cum Nada" by The Bloodhound Gang

36. "The Bad Touch" by The Bloodhound Gang

37. "Along Came Mary" by The Bloodhound Gang

38. "10 Coolest Things About New Jersey" by The Bloodhound Gang: It's ten seconds of total silence.

39. "You Get to Burning" by Yoko Ishida

40. "incl." by meg rock: no, i didn't break my shift key.

41. "The Sound of Settling" by Death Cab for Cutie

*Someone left me a note last month along the lines of "Damn, you must be loaded to buy all these songs from iTunes!" Actually, this list is comprised of anything I've added to my iPod, whether it's a song I purchased or something I've ripped from a CD I own or borrowed.