Wednesday, January 31, 2007

media update: January

Guess what I recently realized? I am only separated by three degrees from Kevin Bacon. I used to date M2, who was in Beautiful Girls with Matt Dillon, who was in Wild Things with...drum roll please...Kevin Bacon! You may touch the hem of my garment now; please form an orderly line. No pushing.

I didn't read a single novel this month, which has to be a first. I started Next by Michael Crichton, but it got so outrageously stupid that I tossed it aside about fifty pages into it. Some of you might think I didn't give it enough of a chance; I can only quote Mark Twain's famous comment about how you don't have to eat an entire sandwich to know if it's bad.

However, it was quite a month for non-fiction; everything got a star! As you may recall, they denote something I particularly enjoyed or found especially worthy of my time; your mileage may vary.


1. The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2006*: These collections are always really good, and this one's no exception. It includes everything from fake headlines from The Onion to an article on plastination, the process of preserving the human body by injecting it with resin and other preservatives.

2. Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping* by Judith Levine: The author, disgusted by overconsumption, decided to go a full year without spending money on anything but absolute necessities. That meant no movies, no books, no Kleenex (because you could just use toilet paper), no trinkets, no eating out. Ugh! Very eye-opening, and it made me take a closer look at how much useless crap I buy on a regular basis.

Side note: Once, in a desperate attempt to figure out where all my damn money was going, I kept track of every single penny I spent in one week. Of the $186.39 I spent, only $61.35 was on necessary items. That was a bit of a wake-up call...well, for a couple of days, anyway, and then I cheerfully returned to buying candy, magazines, and Korres.

3. I Am Not Myself These Days* by Josh Kilmer-Purcell: This memoir about the author's nights as Aquadisiac, a drag queen with live goldfish in her plastic bra, and romance with a crack-addicted male prostitute is hysterically funny and absolutely riveting. I entreat you: if you don't read this book, at least grab it in Borders and read pages 41-44. I had to leave the break room at work and rush to the bathroom, where I proceeded to spew Diet Dr. Pepper out of my nose in a brackish stream.

4. There Is No Me Without You* by Melissa Fay Greene: The powerful, moving story of an Ethiopian woman who, devastated by the deaths of her husband and daughter, found solace by taking in children who had been orphaned by AIDS. One of the best things about this book is that she's not portrayed as a saint, but as a woman who, albeit more generous than most, still makes some very human (and, occasionally, very big) mistakes.

5. Letter to a Christian Nation* by Sam Harris: I think anyone of any faith could learn a lot from this book, but man, if you're an atheist or an agnostic, this is going to be your (pardon the pun) Bible. Whether you agree with him or not, he makes his points clearly and intelligently. (And no, this is not the same Sam Harris who won Star Search with his flame-boyant rendition of "Over the Rainbow".)

6. Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper* by Diablo Cody: I wanted to read this book mainly because the author worked in Minneapolis, including a stint at the notorious Sex World. I still vividly remember walking past the peep booths to get to the Ms. Pac-Man machine (seriously), and seeing a booth baby sitting there topless, engrossed in a copy of Modern Bride. Anyway, I really enjoyed it. She neither glamorizes nor demonizes the industry, and her writing is sharp and snarky (for example, Minneapolis is the "city that never wakes"). I only wish it were longer.

7. Tainted Life* by Marc Almond: God, I used to be such a huge fan of his; I still remember buying a tape of Soft Cell's Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret at Gemco while my parents weren't looking, and being utterly enthralled by "Sex Dwarf", "Seedy Films", and (of course) "Tainted Love". I also loved his solo stuff, as well as Marc and the Mambas, and I even saw him in concert at the Pantages in 1988. Needless to say, I was eager to get my hands on his autobiography...and, with its tales of sudden fame, deep depression, unbelievable amounts of drugs, and breathtaking promiscuity, it certainly didn't disappoint!


1. Fan by Yamato Nase

2. Under Grand Hotel* vol. 2 by Sadahiro Mika: Notable not only for its graphic depictions of hot prison manlove, but for an African-American main character, which---for obvious reasons---is a rarity in manga.

3. Explosion Diva 21 by Kaoru Igarashi: The title sounds kind of porny, but I swear it's not.


1. My Super Ex-Girlfriend: When a man dumps his superhero girlfriend, she does everything in her power---literally---to make his life hell. Cute premise, and it has some very funny lines (mostly courtesy of Rainn Wilson, aka Dwight from "The Office", which I really need to see someday), but it's ultimately forgettable.

2. United 93: Devastating as hell. I know, when it was first announced, that people thought it would be too soon after 9/11, but it's done with the utmost respect for the passengers and crew on that flight.

3. Grandma's Boy: A middle-aged video game tester is forced to move in with his grandmother after his roommate spends all their rent money on Filipino hookers. Unrelentingly stupid to be sure, but it's actually really funny, and the DVD extras are great.

4. Stay Alive: A group of teenagers gets their hands on a video game where, if you die in the game, you die in the same way in real life. God, was this shitty. The only good thing about it was that it mentioned both Silent Hill 4 and Fatal Frame, and one of the characters even has a camera exactly like Miku's.

5. Pan's Labyrinth*: A dark, twisted fairy tale about a young Spanish girl who discovers a magical world in the backyard of her new home; imagine if Alice fell into hell instead of Wonderland. Beautiful and disturbing; its images and ending haunted me for days after seeing it.

6. Enter the Dragon*: Considering my love of martial arts, it's pretty shocking that I'd never seen a Bruce Lee movie before now...and now I'm wondering why the hell I waited so long. From the scene in which Bruce Lee kicks the ass of a then-unknown Jackie Chan to the insane fight in the hall of mirrors, this is essential viewing.

7. Little Miss Sunshine*: I thought this movie couldn't possibly live up to the hype, but I was wrong. It's a screamingly funny and occasionally poignant movie about a dysfunctional family on a road trip to a beauty pageant. Alan Arkin is great as the potty-mouthed grandfather, but I think Steve Carell should have gotten the best supporting actor nod instead.

8. Saw 3: Not even the first two Saw movies prepared me for the sheer grossness of this one; I actually had to look away from the screen a couple of times. Not a very good installment in the series, unfortunately.


1. "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" by Jennifer Hudson: Y'all hush.

2. Zombies Ate My Neighbors (video game soundtrack)

3. "Jellyhead" by Crush

4. "Sanctuary" by Hikaru Utada

5. "Rest of My Life" by Less Than Jake

6. "Ride On Shooting Star" by The Pillows

7. "Tank!" by The Seatbelts

8. "Blue" by Yamane Mai

9. "You Wear It Like A Stained Glass Window" by Ghost Stories

10. "#12 L'Enfant" by Helium

11. "Wake Me Up" by Norah Jones

12. "Across the Stars in Blue" by The Oohlas: I want my next car to be a convertible just so I can put the top down and blast this song.

13. "Good" by Better Than Ezra


Armed and Famous: This reality show follows a group of D-list celebrities who have been sworn in as police officers. As soon as I heard they were working in Muncie, Indiana, my curiosity was piqued. When I was a kid, we lived not too far from Muncie, and whenever we wanted to see a movie or eat at a restaurant that wasn't Dairy Queen or Burger Chef, we had to go into the "big city". Then I found out Jason "Wee Man" Acuna was one of the celebrities, and I knew I had to tape that shit. It's just as wonderful and terrible as you'd expect, and it's already been cancelled. Oh well.

(And my god, when did Jack Osbourne get HOT?)


Fatal Frame 3: The Tormented

A young woman named Rei, still mourning the loss of her fiance, finds herself drawn into a nightmare world when she falls asleep. Out of the three Fatal Frame games, this one creeped me out the most; one ghost in particular made me scream every time it appeared. My biggest complaint is that the end boss is a colossal pain in the ass, but that made it all the sweeter when I---er, okay, G---finally put her to rest.

And, oh, that ending made me cry.