Friday, December 29, 2006

(early) media update: December

I'm posting this early because I plan on spending most of the weekend in a drunken stupor. G2 and R are flying in from Washington for G's New Year's Eve party, and I'm excited as all hell because I adore them.

In the holiday spirit, I shall now share my personal hangover remedy with you: two Excedrin Migraine washed down with a Coke. It's not completely foolproof---it didn't work after the Great Van Nuys Drunkening of Ought-Four, for instance---but for "lighter" hangovers, it works like a charm.

Anyway, on to the media update. I'm telling you, it's always feast or famine when it comes to my reading material. Fortunately, after last month's drought, I managed to find lots of books to occupy my time.

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


1. Red Chrysanthemum by Laura Joh Rowland: Fun random quote from this book: "Reiko recalled that the [chrysanthemum] was a symbol of male love because its tightly gathered petals resembled a boy's anus." Huh. Anyway, this is the latest in Rowland's samurai mystery series, and it's a corker. Sano, who is second in command to the shogun, must try to figure out who killed an influential lord. Unfortunately, Sano's pregnant wife was found naked and covered in blood next to the body, which complicates things a little bit.

2. Brother Odd by Dean Koontz: The third, and most meh, installment of Koontz' Odd Thomas novels, about a young fry cook who communicates with the dead. My favorite part of this series is the ghost of Elvis.

3. The Case of the Good-for-Nothing Girlfriend by Mabel Maney: A kitschy, homoerotic parody of Nancy Drew and Cherry Ames. (I'd never heard of Cherry Ames, but Wikipedia says that she was the starry-eyed nursing school heroine of a series of books that came out at about the same time as Nancy Drew and were aimed at the same demographic.) I was a rabid Nancy Drew fan as a kid, and Maney's got the style down pat, from the "golly gee!" banter to the endless wardrobe changes.

4. Hannibal Rising by Thomas Harris: I have a theory that Thomas Harris actually died while writing Hannibal, the sequel to Silence of the Lambs, and someone took over and turned it into a slapdash parody of Grand Guignol. Then that person died, and a high school student who's seen Silence of the Lambs at least, like, five times was tapped to write this prequel. Seriously, what the hell happened to Thomas Harris? Did Hannibal Lecter cut off the top of his head and scoop out the part that wrote Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs? This book SUCKED. The characters are cardboard parodies, the writing is stilted, and basically Thomas Harris, or whoever wrote this swill, shits all over what used to be one of the most compelling characters in contemporary literature. Shame, that.

5. Lullabies for Little Criminals* by Heather O'Neill: Oh my god, this was such a good book. It's about a 12-year-old girl named Baby (which is her real name; she comments that that's what happens when people have children too young) who lives with her junkie father in between stints in foster homes and reform schools. It's beautifully written---for example, she describes bird footprints in the snow as looking like the characters on a Chinese menu---and powerful as all hell. I've gone back and edited my "best of" list for 2006, because there was no way I could leave this one off.

6. Lost Girls & Love Hotels by Catherine Hanrahan: I got this book in spite of its cheesy manga-inspired cover, not because of it; I was intrigued by its premise. A young American woman flees her troubled past and tries to lose herself in Tokyo. I loved the descriptions of Japan, but the rest of it was just so-so, although the ending was surprising. I really enjoyed the "P.S." section of the book, though, which includes an essay on love hotels. I still really want to stay in one.

TOTAL READ IN 2006: 53


1. Beauty Junkies* by Alex Kuczynski: An incisive (pardon the pun) look at cosmetic surgery, from the Botox craze to "surgery safaris". If more people knew the collagen injected into their faces might have come from foreskin stem cells or cadavers, do you think it would still be a $15 billion industry? Then again, if I had the money, I'd let them inject stem cells from the foreskins of cadavers into me if I thought it would fix that Mariana Trench between my eyes for good.

2. Dirty Blonde: The Diaries of Courtney Love: A fascinating collection of Ms. Love's journal entries, juvenalia, ephemera, photographs, and handwritten lyrics. I wish she'd write a real autobiography though. (Side note: the included picture of Kurt, Frances Bean, and a kitten is one of the sweetest things I've ever seen.)

3. MySecret: The latest compilation from the PostSecret project, in which people jot down their biggest secrets, ranging from the funny to the horrific, and anonymously submit them.

4. Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born by Tina Cassidy: A fascinating look at childbirth through the ages. I won't be using the placenta recipes, though.

5. The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson: This book is about the cholera epidemic that raged through London in 1854. Fun fact: some people used to make their living picking up "pure", or dogshit, and selling it to tanneries. I must remember this the next time my job is irritating the hell out of me.

TOTAL READ IN 2006: 74


1. Swan* vol. 8 by Kyoko Ariyoshi

TOTAL READ IN 2006: 76


1. The Break-Up: Wow, was this ever mismarketed; I wouldn't consider this a romantic comedy at all. Sure, there are some funny moments---I particularly liked the scene where a would-be suitor of Jennifer Aniston watches nervously as Vince Vaughn plays Grand Theft Auto---but most of it is uncomfortable in the same way it is when you watch a couple with whom you're friends fighting. Strange ending too, although I admire them for not using the alternate ending (included as an extra on the DVD).

2. Mission Impossible III*: An implausible but wildly entertaining thriller starring notorious crazycakes Tom Cruise. Easily the best of the three M:I films, thanks to J.J. Abrams at the helm.

3. The Devil Wears Prada*: A young woman's dream job---working as an assistant to famous fashion editor Miranda Priestly---turns into a nightmare when she finds out just how demanding her boss really is. This was way better than it should have been, thanks to the performances and snappy dialogue, and even though I generally don't give two shits about fashion, the outfits were amazing.

4. Fearless: Jet motherfuckin' Li, boy! What else you need to know?

5. Cars: Very cute, and gorgeously animated, as expected from Pixar. However, it didn't really engage me, probably because it's rather difficult to identify with anthropomorphized cars.

6. Lady in the Water: Pretentious claptrap from M. Night Shymalan. If he keeps churning out duds like this and The Village, his career will be---wait for it---all washed up. (Oh, come on, like I could resist.)

TOTAL SEEN IN 2006: 85
TOTAL SEEN ON A PLANE: 1 (This would have been two, but I fell asleep about ten minutes into You, Me, and Dupree.)
TOTAL SEEN IN A CEMETERY: 1 (Psycho, watched at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery during their movie night. I didn't put it on my media update because I've seen it before, which is why the numbers don't add up.)


1. "Yummy" by Gwen Stefani: Hi, "Milkshake" much?

2. "No Remorse" by Atari Teenage Riot

3. "Alone Again Or" by The Damned

4. "Can't Stop Falling in Love" by Naoki

5. "Koe" by Tsukiko Amano

6. "Butterfly" by Tsukiko Amano: This is the ending theme for Fatal Frame 2, and hearing it will always remind me of standing in line to play the demo at the 2003 Tokyo Game Show.

7. "Soramimi Cake" by Oranges & Lemons

8. "Hop, Skip, Jump!" by Five Spirits

9. "Love My Way" by Psychedelic Furs

10. "More Than This" by Roxy Music: I don't remember who said this, but I once read a quote that said, "If you share a good bottle of wine with a woman while listening to Roxy Music and you still can't get laid, there is no hope for you, my friend."

11. "Pale Shelter" by Tears for Fears

12. "Never Say Never" by Romeo Void

13. "Atomic" by Blondie

14. "They Don't Know" by Kirsty MacColl

15. "Dance in the Memories" by Meiko Nakahara

16. "Actress in the Mirror" by Meiko Nakahara

17. "Embrace That Sky" by Kanako Wada

18. "Sad Heart Is Burning" by Kanako Wada

19. "Read My Mind" by The Killers