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.