Friday, August 31, 2007

media update: August

My coworker A has recently discovered Rachael Ray, and she's started saying "Yum-MO!" every time she eats something. It is so unbelievably annoying, and she's just lucky I like her; otherwise, I'd stand up on my desk and scream "Shut the fuck UP! Why are you parroting an obnoxious Oprah puppet whose husband pays hookers to spit in his face?"


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


1. Bollywood Nights by Shobhaa De: The lurid story of a Bollywood actress who sleeps her way to the top. Soapy and marginally entertaining, but I would have appreciated a glossary of the Indian terms that pepper every page. Some of them were obvious from the context, but most of them weren't.

2. The Next Thing on My List* by Jill Smolinski: The narrator, June, blames herself for a car accident in which her passenger Monica was killed. Upon finding a list of 25 things that Monica wanted to do before her 25th birthday, June decides to finish the list on Monica's behalf. It's pretty cheesy, but it's also sweet and unpredictable. There were a couple of times when I thought, "Oh, please, [such and such] is totally going to happen now," and then it didn't, so bonus points on that front.

3. Beyond Reach* by Karin Slaughter: Luckily for me, I discovered this author right around the time that Patricia Cornwell jumped the shark. This book, which deals with white supremacists, meth dealers, and family secrets, is a bit of a letdown after Triptych (which was one of my ten favorite books of 2007), but it still kept me riveted, and the ending was so unexpected that my jaw literally dropped.

4. Vivaldi's Virgins by Barbara Quick: A meticulously researched historical novel about a young, musically gifted woman growing up in a Venetian orphanage. Nice masturbation scene near the beginning.


1. Other People's Dirt by Louise Rafkin: The author, who has worked as a housecleaner for many years, reminisces about some of the houses where she's worked. She also looks into some of the more unusual aspects of the business, ranging from nude housecleaners to people who clean up crime scenes. It was pretty interesting, but I'll admit to raising an eyebrow when she bitched about getting fired from a job where she left a couple of Cheerios in the sink. Um, if you're getting paid to clean someone's house, shouldn't you maybe...oh...clean the sink too? It's not like the Cheerios were left in some bizarre hidden location as a test.

Cleaning side note: When I moved into my new place, I decided that I'd thoroughly clean one room every week, reasoning that if I tried to do the whole apartment in one fell swoop once a month, it would be too overwhelming, and I'd just wind up ignoring it in favor of flopping on the couch and reading a magazine. You wouldn't believe how nasty the top of the medicine cabinet was. If you carbon dated the gunk I wiped off, it would probably go back to the seventies.

2. Bunny Tales by Izabella St. James: One of Hugh Hefner's ex-girlfriends tells all about life in the Playboy Mansion. About as vapid as you'd expect, although there were a few interesting tidbits thrown in here and there. For example, I didn't know that Hugh Hefner actually has to pay rent on the Mansion (it's owned by Playboy Enterprises and its shareholders, not by him personally), nor did I know---or, frankly, want to know---that he never has an orgasm unless it's by his own hand.

3. Unusually Stupid Celebrities by Kathryn and Ross Petras: A compendium of some of the stupidest things celebrities have said and done. My personal favorite is this rant Marlo Thomas (allegedly) aimed at her butler: "How dare you serve cold cuts in my house. It's just so low-class and common. And white bread and pickles! And my god, MEAT lasagna! Fucker, you've done it again."

4. Bright Lights, Big Ass by Jen Lancaster: Humorous essays on everything from Target love to mind-numbing temp jobs. I didn't enjoy this nearly as much as her previous book, Bitter Is the New Black, but there are some chuckles to be had.

5. Ask a Mexican! by Gustavo Arellano: FINALLY, an explanation of why Mexicans love Morrissey so much! I mean, not that Mexicans can't love Morrissey too, but considering what a macho culture it is, their embrace of a very fey British singer is a little odd. Anyway, there's a ton of other illuminating information in here as well, and now I know that if a Mexican ever whistles the "shave and a haircut, six bits" tune at me, I have been gravely insulted. (It matches the meter of the putdown "Chinga tu madre, cabron", or "eff your mother, you castrated goat".)

6. Let's Spend the Night Together by Pamela Des Barres: The recollections of some of rock 'n' roll's most famous groupies. There's some interesting stuff in here; for example, not only was Cassandra Peterson (aka Elvira) a groupie, but she lost her virginity to Tom Jones, and he was so big she needed stitches afterwards. Yeowch!

7. The Late Bloomer's Revolution* by Amy Cohen: The author had several truly crappy things happen to her in short succession: her mother died, the man she thought she would marry broke up with her, she lost her job, and she developed a disfiguring skin condition. She writes, "I felt as if my life hadn't quite started, and I was already running late." This wonderful memoir is about her attempts to change her life for the better once and for all.

8. No Speed Limit by Frank Owen: After I practically had to submit to a strip search in order to buy a package of generic Sudafed at CVS, I became interested in how meth addiction became so rampant throughout the United States. This is a fascinating account of how meth grew from a drug used to keep soldiers awake and housewives slim into an epidemic that's spread across the country.


1. Full Metal Panic Overload!* vols. 1-5 by Shouji Gatou and Tomohiro Nagai

2. Parfait Tic* vol. 15 by Nanaji Nagamu

3. The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg

4. A Sex Therapist* by Kazuma Kodaka

5. Child's Time* vols. 1-4 by Kaworu Watashiya


1. Zodiac*: A riveting account of the search for the serial killer who terrorized the Bay Area in the late 60's and throughout the 1970's. It's almost three hours long, but its fantastic cast (including Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr., and Mark Ruffalo, all of whom I freakin' love), tight script, and tense directing by David Fincher make the minutes fly by. Highly recommended.

2. Hard Boiled: An action-packed cops and mobsters thriller directed by John Woo, the king of gun fu flicks. Bonus points for the scene in which a small fire is extinguished in an unusual way.

3. Disturbia*: A surprisingly fun thriller about a teenage boy on house arrest who, out of boredom, begins spying on his neighbors...and starts to suspect that one of them is a serial killer.

4. Hot Fuzz*: A cop is transferred to a quiet English village, where it soon becomes obvious that the "accidents" plaguing the town are nothing of the sort. Another hysterically funny movie from the guys who brought us Shaun of the Dead, although it's not as good as that movie (and really, how could it be?).

5. Inland Empire: This movie freaked the absolute SHIT out of me. Barring an actual horror movie, I could not possibly have chosen a worse movie to watch while housesitting late at night all by myself. Some of it is straight out of Silent Hill. At one point, I got so scared that it felt like someone had grabbed my stomach from the inside and pulled hard. I didn't understand it at all---even by David Lynch's standards, it's really complicated---but it was definitely an experience.

6. Mysterious Skin*: I read this book earlier in the year and loved it; fortunately, the movie does it justice. It's about a young boy who wakes up bleeding in his cellar, and because he can't remember the previous five hours, he starts to think that he was abducted by aliens. He obsesses over this theory for years, and then he tracks down someone who knows exactly what happened. Since I'd already read the book, I was prepared to be disturbed, but parts of this movie were still extremely difficult to watch. Still, it's worth it if you can handle the strong subject matter, and Joseph Gordon Levitt is phenomenal as a teenage boy who holds the key to the secret.

7. War: An FBI agent hunts down the man (Jet motherfuckin' Li, recognize!) who killed his partner. It's loud and stupid, but it has its moments, including a nifty surprise near the end and a couple of decent action sequences. But come on, Hollywood, could you PLEASE learn to use Jason Statham properly? Rapid-fire editing is no substitute for actually watching the man bust out his martial arts chops. It's like making a prize racehorse live in a veal pen. Also, he needs more nude scenes.


1. "Sweet Talkin' Woman" by Electric Light Orchestra: Hey! Don't think I don't hear you out there, disrespecting ELO. They composed the music for Xanadu, and props must be paid. (And don't go disrespecting Xanadu either. Sure, the script and direction and acting are awful, but it's so gloriously, unrepentantly cheesy that you just have to love it. Spock and I made a pilgrimage to see the wall from which Kira emerges at the beginning, such are the depths of our love. I totally want to see the Broadway play!)


And we have to wait until 2009 to get our hands on this awesomeness? Capcom should change their name to Cocktease.


Planet Earth is an amazing documentary series that features breathtaking footage of some of the world's most beautiful, unusual, and fearsome animals. I know this makes me sound like Corny McCheeserson, but it gave me a new appreciation for our world and the animals that inhabit it. And oh my god, I must have made G rewind the following footage about a million times:

Those little dudes are stylin'!

Monday, August 20, 2007


Random bits from the last couple of days:

* To everyone's delight, G2 and R arrived on Saturday afternoon. C and M joined us shortly thereafter, and we made a pilgrimage to Hollywood to see the Golden Girls Gone Wild art exhibit. Unfortunately, they were closed. Mope. (And yes, we tried calling them first, but got no answer.)

* R told us about a Thai restuarant she and G had gone to the night before. "And, bitches, they had an entertainer there called Kevin the Thai Elvis! He rocked my fucking socks off. If you do nothing else in your lifetime, you must see Kevin the motherfuckin' Thai Elvis." Plans are already being made to fulfill this goal.

* We had lunch at Mani's on Fairfax, where I ordered my hamburger without any toppings, and it came with ONIONS MIXED INTO THE MEAT. Yeah, couldn't eat that shit. I was slightly mollified by a Giovanni Ribisi sighting.

* We stopped at Randy's, the LA institution with the enormous donut on top, for (obviously) donuts. I had a jelly-filled which left a sticky smile on my lips.

* We went to the most gloriously ghetto arcade imaginable on the Redondo Beach pier. One horrifying game featured a clown puppet in the middle, slowly turning and scraping against the glass. (Against all odds, I did not have nightmares about Scrapy the Clown escaping from his glass confines last night.) We played skeeball and garnered enough tokens so that everyone could get a cheesy prize. I opted for the surprise box, which contained an inflatable Christmas wreath, jelly bracelets, snowman pencil toppers, lipgloss that was turning yellow and oily with age, and a personalized bracelet that read "Kayla". Suh-weet.

* After dinner at Rocky Cola's Cafe, we drove back to G's, singing along with "White Lines" and "I Will Survive". C and M left shortly thereafter, and the rest of us played a card game called Hex Hex before G2 and R sadly had to leave.

* Today I went to Chick-Fil-A and got the chicken nuggets with Polynesian dipping sauce. Damn good, and I discovered when I went shopping afterwards that nothing gets people's attention like a Chick-Fil-A cup. ("Excuse me, where is there a Chick-Fil-A around here?!") Between that and the way I ate this weekend, I shall have to be good for the rest of the week.

* Visited four furniture stores in search of a reasonably sized, reasonably priced dining room table; no luck. May have to go with the Target one after all.

* Massage tonight, but first, a nap.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Big Brown

G lives near an inordinate number of furniture stores, and when I drove to his place on the 4th of July, they all had huge sales going on. We had some time to kill before meeting up with C and M for dinner and fireworks, so we visited a couple of them in search of the perfect couch and/or perfect dining room table. One store had the most gorgeous stuff I've ever seen, but if I'm ever able to afford a $4,000 couch (and no, that's not a typo), it's going in a house, not an apartment.

It was much more difficult to find a decent couch than you'd think. I didn't want something so large that it would completely overwhelm my living room, but I also wanted something big enough that I could stretch out and read comfortably. I also wanted something in a relatively neutral color; no bizarre Miami Vice pastels or garish floral patterns.

Finally, I found something that fit the bill: just a bit larger than a loveseat and a deep, rich shade of brown that the tag informed me was called "Fudgy Walnut". Instead of traditional back cushions, it had several huge throw pillows that could be arranged at will. G and I sat down, and it was like sitting on an enormous teddy bear.

"This is the one," I said reverently.

"This is definitely the one," G agreed. "You need Big Brown in your new home."

I flipped over the price tag, and when you subtracted the various offers the store had going on (no sales tax and 10% off, or 15% if you paid with check, cash, or debit card), it was right in my price range. I went up to the counter to pay, and they informed me that it was a special order that would take four to six weeks to arrive. I had been hoping to get it right away, or at least within a week, but I was used to sitting in my dish chair, and I figured another month wouldn't hurt.

But on Thursday, I got THE call: Big Brown was in town and ready to roll. I asked them if they deliver on Saturdays, since I didn't want to take time off work (see that, Giggles? That's called a work ethic, and also, fuck you). They said yes and pencilled me in for Saturday between 8:30AM-12PM.

When my alarm went off this morning, I groaned and slapped it speechless. Bleary-eyed, I staggered into the shower, washed up, got dressed, and sat down in the aforementioned dish chair with a bowl of cereal and a magazine.

At precisely 9AM, there was a knock on my door. I opened it to find a young Hispanic man staring up at my doorframe. "Hi, I'm from Furniture & More," he said. "And, uh, I hate to tell you this, but I don't think the couch is going to fit through this door."


"Um," I said helpfully. "Uh, what do we do?"

"Well, we'll bring it up and see what we can do. If it doesn't fit, then..." he trailed off ominously. Shrugging, he ran back downstairs to the truck. I peeked out my living room window, and to my horror, I saw a Mexican man who was maybe two or three years shy of 60 (or else in need of a seriously good moisturizer) strapping on a back support band. The younger guy reached the truck, they had a rapid-fire conversation in Spanish, and the older man slapped his forehead and yelled something that I couldn't decipher, but in the same tone of voice I would use to say "Fuck me running!"

The younger guy grabbed all the pillows out of the truck and brought them upstairs, and then he went back downstairs to help Jose. (No, I'm not stereotyping him; the younger guy distinctly said "Jose".) I couldn't even bear to watch, so I flopped down in my chair and tried to read, but I couldn't concentrate over the sound of thuds and Spanish in the stairwell. I heard my downstairs neighbor open their patio door, and then shut it with a bang. The guy across the way stood on his balcony, pretending to refill his hummingbird feeder while actually watching the two deliverymen struggle up the stairs.

Did Big Brown fit in my doorway?

Big Brown did not.

"MIERDE!" Jose screamed.

"Shit," the younger one helpfully translated.

Jose continued yelling, and I caught the name "Enrique" as he jabbed his thumb at the doorway. I slumped in my chair and tried to figure out what would happen if they couldn't get Big Brown in the apartment. Would Furniture & More refund my money? Oh, sure, they'd probably keep the delivery fee, but if I could get most of the money back...well, I guess that small loveseat wasn't so bad, and maybe they had a different pattern than cabbage roses.

"We're going over the balcony," Enriquez said decisively.

"Hijo de puta!" Jose hollered.

Thud, thud, thud...scrape scrape scrape...

I couldn't even stand to watch the process; I was seriously terrified that one of them would throw out his back, or that Jose would have a heart attack, or the couch would fall onto one of them.


White-knuckling my phone, preparing to dial 911, I looked up and saw that they'd hit the light fixture out on the balcony and the globe had shattered into a thousand pieces.

Well, shit.

"Mierde!" Jose agreed. "Jesus El Savior Christo y la Virgen!"

Unfortunately, Jesus and Mary were busy, and not in any mood to help poor Jose and Enriquez. But finally, after much grunting and straining, they got the couch through the sliding doors and in place on my living room floor. Slicked with sweat and utterly reeking (not that I'm judging; if I'd just dragged a large couch up a flight of stairs, then back down, then managed to hoist it over a fucking balcony, I wouldn't be smelling like a daisy myself, especially since the effort would kill me and it's a bit hot out), they made a beeline for the pillows.

"No!" I said frantically. I forced a smile and said, "No, you guys have done enough. More than enough. Thank you so much." I signed the paperwork and gave them a huge tip, which finally made Jose crack a smile. When they were gone, I swept off the balcony, and then I stood in front of Big Brown and let out a little whoop of delight.

"My couch!" I sang, to the tune of the old Madness hit "Our House". "In the middle of my livin' room!"

Yeah, between the Spanish, the grunting, the thumping, the glass breaking, and my little ditty, I'm sure the people downstairs are just loving my ass.

My ass that has a couch to sit on!

I can watch TV on it and read on it and nap on it!

And, as an added bonus, when I came to the library to go online, I got an e-mail saying my internet is ready to roll. I have to install it myself, and I'm not a techie so it may be a complete disaster, but at least there won't be any broken glass involved.

There may be some swearing, though.

Lots and lots of swearing.

Friday, August 10, 2007

when I'm pissed, you get a list

If I wore a mood ring, it would have been black all fucking week.

And then the stone would have cracked and lava and ichor would have spilled out of it.

First off, I had more fun wranglings with the incompetent, mouth-breathing morons at Time Warner. It finally got so bad that I decided I would rather eat a steaming plate of dogshit than give them even two cents of my money, and I went with Verizon instead. If all goes well, I should have internet by next Wednesday. Unlimited access to Kotaku, YouTube, Perez Hilton, and anime ought to kick my Happy Meter up a couple of notches.

Second, you know that malingering twunt Giggles? She has been out all week, which means that I’ve gotten to do all of HER work while mine piles up in the background. She was also out last Thursday and Friday, so we’re talking a FULL FUCKING WEEK off work because she’s “sick”. You know what? I would actually have to see her bleed from an orifice (nose and vagina don’t count) to believe that she was truly sick, and then I would have to have the blood tested by an independent laboratory to prove it wasn’t fake. I’ve reached my limit, and trust, my limit is pretty fucking high. I’m going to call Daddy-O tonight and get his advice as far as going to management. This shit has to stop.

But enough of that. In order to put some spring back into my step, I’m going to compile an alphabetical list of some of the things I love. Not a comprehensive list, obviously.

Oh, and before I get to the list, a gross anecdote. Two coworkers came back from their morning walk looking pale and nauseated. When someone asked what was wrong, they said that a severed rabbit head fell from a tree as they walked by. There are a lot of hawks around here, so I’m assuming that’s where it came from.

Poor bunny.


Anime: I’ve been into anime for well over a decade now, and you whippersnappers don’t know how easy you’ve got it with your flim-flarnin’ BitTorrent and Netflix and Cartoon Network. I watched grainy, tenth-generation fansubs of Video Girl Ai and Kimagure Orange Road and I liked it. Now get off my lawn!

Ass, my: I’m having a really good ass day. I was standing in the bathroom washing my hands, and I caught a glimpse of my butt in the full-length mirror, and I thought, “Damn, that’s a nice ass.”

Borders: To me, the best thing about Borders is that you can sit in a corner with a huge stack of magazines, and they don’t give a shit as long as you don’t make a mess. Barnes & Noble employees totally throw you the stinkeye if they catch you leafing through Martha Stewart Living with no intention of purchasing it.

Cheesecake: As a general rule, I prefer my cheesecake plain, with nothing mixed in or drizzled on---no sauces, no fruit, no chocolate chips or cookie dough or Heath bar bits---and with a standard graham cracker crust. There are two exceptions to the crust rule, though, and they are by far the best cheesecakes I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. The first one is G’s mother’s homemade cheesecake, which has a sort of millefeuille crust, and the second is Wood Ranch’s cheesecake, which has an almond biscotti crust that seriously makes me moan like a porn star.

Comptoir Sud Pacifique: Company that makes droolworthy perfumes. My favorite is Amour de Cacao, which smells like those chocolate oranges you can buy around Christmas.

Connolly, John: An incredible writer and a very cool guy.

Disneyland: Makes me feel like a kid again.

Elvis: One of the things I inherited from my mom was her love of Elvis. I desperately want to make a pilgrimage to Graceland.

G: No elaboration needed, I trust.

Godiva open oyster truffles: Like a tiny orgasm in every bite.

Gossip: I’ll admit it, I’m a total sucker for gossip. I read all the weekly rags, I surf all the blogs, and I know way more about celebrities than I do about most of the people I work with.

Hello Kitty: Hey, I wouldn’t have permanently marked my skin with a tattoo of her if I didn’t love her!

Hot Hot Heat: Along with REM, this is probably the only band I’d make an effort to see in concert.

Illbleed: Quite possibly the sickest game of all time. I’d love to see it remade, but thanks to people like Jack Thompson who blame video games for all the world’s ills, I doubt it will ever happen. I still have to drag my Dreamcast over to G’s so he can experience this jawdropper for himself.

Jaa, Tony: This dude is the absolute master of piping hot, red-assed beatdowns. He refuses to use stunt doubles or wires in his movies, so when you’re watching him take down a bald-headed bully literally three times his size, you’re seeing the real deal. If you have even the slightest interest in martial arts, you owe it to yourself to see Ong Bak and The Protector.

Katamari: No, not Katamari Damacy, the video game---which is awesome but gives me motion sickness---but the Scottish fold kitten who recently gained internet fame when Cute Overload claimed she looks like Lindsey Lohan. As you know, I’m a sucker for Scottish folds, and this is quite possibly the cutest one I’ve ever seen. OMG Kitty! has a ton of pictures that broke the needle on my Awwmometer.

Las Vegas: I can usually only tolerate it for three days before it starts to get depressing, but those three days are fucking AWESOME.

Little Tokyo: Home of sweetly smiling old people, cherry blossoms, the phonebook manga I love, and delicious Japanese snacks with wacky packaging.

Monkeys: I still can’t believe I finally got to touch one! Huzzah!

New York Giants: It floors me that G actually made me care about a football team.

Picross: An insanely addictive Nintendo DS game in which you create pictures on a grid by figuring out how many squares to fill in. The puzzles start out really simple, but they get much harder as you go along.

Pistachio ice cream: But it has to be that unnatural green color or it doesn’t taste as good to me.

Q-tips: I love cleaning my ears with a passion. I have these special black spiral Q-tips, imported from Japan, that are just wonderful.

Resident Evil: Where’s RE5, goddammit?

Silent Hill: Where’s SH5, goddammit?

Simpsons, The: How on earth is this show still so good after all these years?

Sparks: A shamefully underappreciated band. My blog title comes from their album of the same name.

Who Wants to Be a Superhero?: I’ll have to admit that the new season isn’t nearly as engrossing as the last one, mainly because there’s nobody who even approaches Major Victory’s level of awesome. But still, I cannot resist the sheer cheese factor of watching people compete to be Stan Lee’s next superhero. I’ll be rooting for Parthenon because he’s gay and has a supershiny costume---and I’m a big fan of the gay and the shiny.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

too good to pass up

When I saw this picture of la famille Cruise, I just had to put my own mark on it.

I know, I'm a bad person. I'm chock full o' thetans!