Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Viva Las Vegas, pt. 2

I slept in until 10AM on Thursday, which was a glorious indulgence indeed. After a quick shower, I got dressed, coated myself in sunscreen, and walked over to the MGM Grand to meet up with Susan and Gunny. We drove to IHOP for a late breakfast and went from there to the Neon Museum. I’d always wanted to go to this place, so I jumped at the chance when Susan suggested it, and I’m glad we made the trip; it was really cool.

Not cool: like a freakin’ ijit, I forgot to bring my digital camera with me. I had my cell phone with me, so I was still able to take pictures, but the quality isn’t as good as I’d like. Better than nothing, though, so here goes! Some of the pictures have comments if you mouse over them.

This little cutie was one of my favorites; I only wish she’d been standing up, as she was rocking a cool cheongsam.

Uh huh huh huh…nugget...

I guess the wages of sin really ARE death...

I loved this benevolent fellow with his hands full of coins.

After the museum, we went to Bonanza, which touts itself as the world’s largest gift store. I bought postcards for G and my family, as well as a Blue Q tin box and a magnet that says “Put on your big girl panties and deal with it!” Then we stopped at the Wynn because I’d heard that they have a store that sells unusual beauty products AND has a café to boot. That turned out to be a bit misleading; the store didn’t have anything you couldn’t find in a reasonably well-stocked Sephora. But Susan and I, being perfume junkies, wore out our sniffers while Gunny stood patiently to the side. Then we got snacks in the café (a scrumptious, albeit incredibly messy to eat, pistachio macaroon for me) and headed to Caesar’s for even more taste treats at Vosges. It turns out that they have samples of all the candy bars, so we eagerly accepted squares of the bacon chocolate and, on the count of three, popped them into our mouths.


I don’t really know how to describe the taste, other than to say that yes, there was definitely bacon in that there bar. It wasn’t the orgasmic experience I’d hoped for, but it was certainly good, so I bought two of them, a sampler of miniature chocolate bars, and a scoop of wattleseed ice cream. According to Vosges’ website, wattleseed is an aboriginal seed that tastes like chocolate, coffee, hazelnut, and vanilla all rolled up into one. Well, goddamn if that wasn’t dead on; it really did taste like a combination of all those flavors. I thought the Naga flavor was better, but it was still a delicious way to end a hot day.

As we were driving back to the MGM Grand, Spock called to say that he’d had a horrific day at work and would be poor company, so he was bowing out of the evening’s activities. We were bummed, but we bravely soldiered on. We had dinner at an all-you-can-eat Japanese joint called Todai, where I took this picture (posted with her permission) of Susan posing with their mascot.

(We don’t know what their mascot is supposed to be, but Susan said it looks like a lemon with a reservoir tip!)

After dinner, we stopped next door to price the dinner drag show at Lucky Cheng’s, but it was too spendy. They also had a “Little Legends” show, featuring little people dressed up as celebrities, but that was too expensive as well. (Me: “If they’re little people, shouldn’t the ticket be half-price?”) We laughed at the poster for a solid five minutes, though; no, not because they’re little people, but because...well, see for yourself.

God, I love Vegas.

We went from Todai to Paris and rode the elevator to the observation deck of the “Eiffel Tower”. Excellent timing, because we got up there just as the Bellagio fountain show was starting, and although there were some people in the way, we still had a great view. The lights on the Strip were gorgeous as well, and the balmy night air made me feel dreamy. Susan and Gunny walked me back to my hotel, where I stripped down and crashed.

To be continued…

Viva Las Vegas, pt. 1

Last Wednesday, with a song in my heart, I tossed my suitcase into my trunk and headed off to the Van Nuys flyaway station. It was finally time for my Vegas vacation, and I was looking forward to enjoying the company of my friend Susan, her boyfriend Gunny, and Spock, my dear friend of approximately 23 years. I was also anxious to get away from the hot, smoky air of Southern California.

It’s a sad day indeed when you have to go to VEGAS to get some fucking fresh air.

Anyway, by the time I braved morning rush hour traffic, got on the bus, and disembarked at LAX, the song in my heart had turned to a dirge. It took me literally three times as long to get to the airport as it did to actually fly to Vegas, and I was pretty cranky by the time I finally boarded the plane. But it seemed like mere seconds after I’d settled into my seat and cracked open my book that we were landing, and as I gleefully grabbed my suitcase from the overhead, I was feeling perky again.

I took a taxi to Excalibur, where I would be indulging in my Renaissance princess fantasies for the next three nights. It wasn’t my first choice, but it was the cheapest place on the Strip that wasn’t a total shithole, and I had splurged on one of the newer rooms, which was probably a smart investment. My room was pretty nice, with a minimum of kastle kitsch, and had a pillowtop mattress, plasma TV, and nice view of the pool.

But there was no time for starin’ out the window! I had things to do and people to see. I hung up my clothes, used the can, and slathered myself from head to toe with SPF 70 sunscreen. I called Susan to arrange a meeting time and place after our respective Cirque du Soleil shows, and then I walked to Caesar’s Palace in search of Vosges, the chic chocolate store that had the audacity---the glorious, wonderful audacity---to put bacon in a chocolate bar.

I accidentally walked by the store the first time, because I thought it was a jewelry store! But when a quick look at the directory made my error obvious, I doubled back and walked into a scented heaven of truffles, chocolate bars, and cookies, displayed behind glass like precious gems. I located the famous bacon bar, but I had promised Susan that I wouldn’t try it without her, so I abstained. I did buy the box of Aztec hot chocolate C had requested, as well as a hot chocolate sampler for myself and a scoop of Naga ice cream. It was flavored with sweet Indian curry and coconut flakes and was absolutely delicious; the cold of the ice cream was followed by the warmth of the curry, and it was truly a lovely combination. I sat on a bench and ate while talking to Spock on the phone, and we agreed to meet up later on in the evening.

On my way back to the Excalibur, I walked past several of those people who get paid to hold out flyers and cards for various escort services. One of the few porn peddlers who spoke English said to me, as I refused to take the card, “Aw, come on, baby, can’t say you ain’t curious!” I laughed but continued on my way.

By the time I reached my hotel room, my feet and legs were killing me. I took a quick shower, changed into a nice outfit, and grudgingly pulled on my black knee-high go-go boots. I limped to New York, New York---fortunately just across the street---and stood in line for Zumanity (link NSFW), Cirque du Soleil’s “adult” show. While waiting to be seated, I realized that I shouldn’t have bothered; for every person who’d dressed up, there were at least 10 who were wearing shorts or jeans. Ah well.

The show was pretty good, for the most part. There was a contortionist, a half-naked ballerina en pointe, an utterly fierce black woman doing an amazing tribal-style dance, a comedy duo, male and female strippers, and a drag queen MC, among other things. There was also a really weird bondage act that was followed by golf claps from the befuddled audience. I wouldn’t say the show was worth the hefty price tag, but it was fun, and I enjoyed myself.

Afterwards, I hobbled back to my room, changed clothes, and met up with Susan in front of the lion habitat at the MGM Grand. We squealed and hugged, and then she introduced me to Gunny. We chatted and watched the lion trainers flicking meat against the glass for the lions to eat, and then we went to the lobby and met up with Spock.

Further squealing and hugging ensued.

We all walked down to Smith & Wollensky for a late dinner. I had a mediocre $40 steak, but Spock let me share his coconut cake (a full pound, according to the menu), which made up for it. Gunny sent back his ice cold crabcakes, prompting Susan to say, “That’s goin’ through somebody’s mail slot before it comes back here.” We enjoyed a great conversation, and after walking down the Strip and stopping to do a little gambling here and there, we parted ways for the night. I stripped down, washed my face, brushed my teeth, and flung myself onto the mattress, where I promptly fell asleep.

To be continued…

Friday, October 19, 2007

flushed away

The only thing I really dislike about my new place is the bathtub. It’s not very long, and it’s pretty narrow, so it makes it hard to achieve full bathing nirvana. But I was in the mood for a hot bubble bath last night, so I filled the tub and happily slid into the water.


After a few minutes, it was starting to get pretty steamy in there, so I stood up and opened the bathroom window. It overlooks the parking lot, but I’m on the second floor, so I wasn’t too worried about anyone catching a glimpse of my jubblies.

I soaked for about fifteen minutes, and then I rinsed off and got out of the tub. I dried off, put on my jammies, and retreated to the living room to watch CSI. During a commercial break, I reluctantly heaved my lazy carcass off the couch to take a whiz.

As I was sitting on the toilet, I caught a flash of movement out of the corner of my eye, and I turned my head to see the biggest silverfish I’ve ever seen in my life. Motherfucker was colossal! I know they’re harmless, and I leave insects alone when they’re out in the wild, but once they cross my threshold, I consider them trespassers.

Sentence: death.

One of the first presents G ever gave me was a bug wand. It’s a long plastic tube with a motor in the handle, and you position the tube over the insect, push a button, and the bug is sucked into the tube. Then you put the cover on and take the insect outside to set it free, if you’re a pacifist, or to the bathroom for prompt dispatching. It's a much better method than squashing bugs with a magazine (too messy) or picking them up with a Kleenex (risk of direct contact).

I stood up, wiped, yanked my pajama pants back up, and raced to the hall closet to grab the bug wand. I returned to the bathroom, caught the silverfish, and dumped it into the toilet.

“DROWN IN MY PISS, BITCH!” I screamed triumphantly, flushing the toilet.

Then, to my horror, I heard a burst of raucous laughter outside and someone yelled, “Damn, lady!”

Twelve hours later and I’m still blushing.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

devil's haircut

I’ve always had a hate/hate relationship with my hair. When I was younger, I swear my mom would go through half a bottle of No More Tangles trying to get all the snarls out, and I broke many a comb and hairbrush trying to style it.

Then, in my twenties, I got the worst haircut of all time…like litigiously bad. When it finally grew out again, it was still a pain in the ass, but at least I could go out in public without wearing a baseball cap, and I was damn happy to have it back.

Anyway, my point is that I like to do as little as humanly possible with my hair. I wash it, I blow it dry, I brush it, the end. I have neither the time nor the inclination to do anything more than that. But it was starting to look a little mullety recently, and I realized it had been almost 6 months since I’d gotten a trim, so I reluctantly headed to Supercuts.

Moral of the story: when you’re nearsighted as hell, and the stylist holds up a hank of your hair and says “About this much off?”, put your fucking glasses back on to see exactly HOW much she’s going to lop, rather than just squinting and saying, “Yeah, looks good.”








No offense to moms, or soccer moms, but this is the kind of haircut you’d see in Good Housekeeping with a caption reading “So simple…so easy…perfect for those days when you’re the designated carpool driver!”

Oh, well…like they say, the only difference between a bad haircut and a good one is three weeks.

This weekend, assuming the weather is good, we’re going to a local autumn festival to scarf down mini-donuts, go on the hayless hayride, wander the corn maze, and pick out a pumpkin, and I can’t freakin' wait. Seriously, you wouldn’t believe how excited I am at the prospect.

Perhaps I have a touch of the soccer mom in me after all.

Monday, October 01, 2007

media update: September

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


1. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger: A love story about Henry, a man with a genetic disorder that causes him to time travel, and Clare, who he first meets when she's six years old. It's an interesting premise, but this book left me cold, probably because I didn't like any of the characters.

2. Heartsick* by Chelsea Cain: Oh my god, this was so fucking creepy. It's a thriller about a cop who was kidnapped by Gretchen Lowell, a beautiful female serial killer who tortured him to the brink of death and then inexplicably turned herself in. Years later, he's trying to find a new serial killer who's preying on teenage girls, but he can't seem to break free of Gretchen's spell. It's a little derivative of Silence of the Lambs in some parts, but overall, it's fantastic. Warning: not for those of tender constitutions.

3. Sweet Revenge by Diane Mott Davidson: The latest installment in a series of mysteries about a crimesolving caterer. This wasn't one of the better ones. (Oh, and unless you want to go on a crazed binge and eat everything in your house, be sure not to read any of Davidson's books unless you're full to the point of bursting; they're basically food porn.)

4. Hero by Perry Moore: A teenage boy tries to come to grips with both his sexuality and his newly discovered superpowers. I was really eager to read this, especially after reading the four-star review in People and Stan Lee's blurb on the back, but truthfully I thought it was kind of disappointing. Still, I have to give it credit for originality.


1. The Daughters of Juarez by Teresa Rodriguez: A disturbing account of the murders of young women that have plagued the city of Juarez, Mexico, for over a decade. There have been over 400 victims, and thanks to government and police corruption and incompetence, there will probably be hundreds more.

2. Here If You Need Me* by Kate Braestrup: After her husband's death, the author decided to become a game warden chaplain in Maine. It's a profoundly moving memoir that brought me to tears more than once. There's a definite religious bent, obviously, but it didn't bother me at all.

3. Hippo Eats Dwarf by Alex Boese: A fun collection of famous hoaxes, as well as a few things that seem too bizarre to be true...but are. (The title story is not one of the true ones, by the way.)

4. Bad Girls* edited by Ellen Sussman: Essays by 26 female authors about the fine art of misbehaving. My favorites were "Forgive Me, Father, But You're Kind of Cute" by Mary Roach and "Skipping Christmas" by Susan Casey.

5. Sin in the Second City* by Karen Abbott: At the beginning of the 20th century, two sisters took their sizable inheritance and started the Everleigh Club, Chicago's most luxurious brothel. This terrific book may be a true story, but it reads like a juicy novel.

6. Petal Pusher by Laurie Lindeen: This is the author's account of trying to make it big in the music world with her band Zuzu's Petals, all the while fighting multiple sclerosis and falling in love with the lead singer of the Replacements.


1. Haa Haa* vol. 3 by Yoshihara Yuki

2. Desire Climax vol. 4 by Ukyou Ayane

3. The Squirrel Mother* by Megan Kelso

4. Backstage Prince by Kanako Sakurakoji


1. Vacancy*: A nail-biting thriller about a bickering couple who check into a seedy motel, only to discover that the manager and his friends have a bizarre definition of hospitality.

2. Perfume*: A man born with an incredible sense of smell becomes obsessed with creating the perfect perfume, but the essential ingredient requires an unpleasant method of harvesting. I read the book earlier this year and loved it, but I didn't think it would translate very well to the screen. They managed to pull it off, though, thanks to excellent performances and gorgeous cinematography. And oh, how I love Alan Rickman. The man is composed of 98% awesome, 2% water. I can't wait to see him as Snape in the final Harry Potter movie; he's gonna tear that shit UP.

3. Shanghai Knights: God, this was terrible! As you'd expect from a Jackie Chan movie, there are some good action sequences, including an innovative fight inside a revolving door, but the script is crap, and I wanted to slap the snot out of the child sidekick.

Side note: A couple of weeks ago, I was in the break room and Mean Grandma was reading the issue of People with the cover story on Owen Wilson's suicide attempt. She tutted and said, "Oh, please, he just wanted attention." Bitch, he's a fucking MOVIE STAR. His nickname is the Butterscotch Stallion because he gets more pussy than he can possibly handle. Don't you think he probably gets plenty of attention already? It's because of cows like you, Mean Grandma, that mental illness and depression still carry such a massive stigma, as though it's just something people need to snap out of. It's no more their fault than kidney disease or leukemia would be, you withered old hag.

4. Severance: A black comedy/horror hybrid about a group of coworkers who run into some nasty people on a company retreat. Not as good as it should have been; I was hoping for, as G put it, "The Office meets Friday the 13th". Still, it has its moments, and the best final line of dialogue I've heard since Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.


1. "Umbrella" by Rihanna

2. "I'll Be Your Home" by Rungran: This is the ending theme for the Devil May Cry anime. It's a strange choice for such a gory series, but it sure is pretty.

3. "Wuthering Heights" by Pat Benatar: I like the original version too, but this one is more desperately romantic and less suicidal vagina. (Man, how I wish I could take credit for that phrase, but I first read it in The Late Bloomer's Revolution by Amy Cohen.) I have Spock to thank for my introduction to this song; I still remember driving around with him listening to a mix tape featuring this and a band called Lubricated Goat.

4. "Wuthering Heights" by the Puppini Sisters: And here's an upbeat 40's style version, which is also true of the next song on this list.

5. "I Will Survive" by the Puppini Sisters

6. "The Man with the Child in His Eyes" by Kate Bush: Speaking of suicidal vagina music, this song WRECKS me.

7. “Peppermint Patty” by The Owls


When I heard that Silent Hill 5 was being handed over to an American company, I felt more than a little trepidation. It's not like I think only the Japanese can make good games, but I kind of felt like the series should stay with the original developers. I'm a rabid SH fangirl and I don't want nobody messing up my baby.

Which is why, when I saw the above video, I had a geekgasm. Hell, I had multiple geekgasms. Obviously, I can't judge it until I've actually played it, but the graphics are phenomenal, and the interview with the developers in the current issue of EGM proves that they love and respect the SH franchise.

And I get to play this one with G! When we first started going out, Silent Hill 4 had just been released, but since we didn't spend nearly as much time together during those early months of our relationship, he never got to see me in full fangirl mode. I was originally worried that playing it in his presence wouldn't be nearly as scary as playing it by myself, but then I remembered that I almost pissed my pants playing Fatal Frame 3 with him sitting about six inches away from me, so I'm sure I'll still wig out.

Man, I can't wait.


Odin Sphere

RPGs are a genre that have never remotely interested me. I thought they were all "Octoknight attacks and misses! Minerva casts Ice Cloak for 50 damage!" Screw that crap; I'll take a survival horror game any day.

Then one afternoon, G and I were watching X-Play, and they reviewed a PS2 game called Odin Sphere. The graphics were so beautiful that I told G I was going to get it from Gamefly, and he said, "Oh, you are so going to hate it."

But it turns out I didn't.

Don't get me wrong; I won't be catching up on the Final Fantasy backlog any time soon. But Odin Sphere is an action RPG, meaning that while there are certain RPG elements like an EXP meter and potion mixing, it focuses more on red-assed beatdowns, which is really satisfying (albeit a bit punishing on the wrists). Plus, in addition to the aforementioned graphics, there's a beautiful soundtrack, an engrossing story, and a choice between the original Japanese dialogue (with English text onscreen, of course) or English dubbing. There are some aggravating flaws, like massive slowdown during certain epic battles, but overall Odin Sphere has been an enjoyable surprise.