Thursday, January 31, 2008

more car kerfuffle + January media update

So yesterday I wrote my note to Douchenozzle saying, basically, that I deny any and all responsibility for his alleged damages and to contact his own insurance company to get his car fixed. I made three copies, put them inside my purse, and tried to concentrate on my work.

When I got home, I saw Douchenozzle's car...but it wasn't parked in his spot! No, he was parked in someone else's spot. (Not sure how that's kosher, but my guess is that he figured out which one belongs to the apartment below me, which has been vacant for a couple of months now, and decided to park there to stay away from me, the Alleged Dreaded Door Dinger.) I know for a fact that it's his car, because he has paper dealer plates (and has for at least six months now, which strikes me as a bit odd), so I went over to take a look at this damage.

I saw nada.

Now, granted, it was dark and the light in the parking area isn't very bright, so that doesn't really mean anything. I'll just have to try to get a look at his car in the daytime, which might prove difficult as I never SEE his car in the daytime.

Anyway, so I took a copy of the note I'd written earlier, along with a copy of HIS note, and enclosed them in an envelope with my rent check. I added an explanation for my landlady's benefit, stressing that I just wanted her to be aware of the situation, and tossed the envelope into the mail slot of the office door.

Then I took my note to Douchenozzle, taped it to his door, and ran like hell. Call me a coward, but I don't want to deal with this guy face to face at night, by myself. No freakin' way.

I went back in my apartment and called G. The man deserves a medal, because I basically lost my shit. He listened patiently, gently talked me down when I got too hysterical/paranoid, and offered sage advice.

Halfway through our conversation, there was a knock on my door, and I froze in place. I scurried to my bedroom and hissed, "G, I think he's here!"

"Just stay calm, and don't answer the door," G said.

When I figured it was safe, I opened the front door and found a note taped to it. In a nutshell, Douchenozzle said I had to have done it because the scratches are teal-colored, and my car is teal.

...okay. Granted, if there are teal-colored scratches on his car, that's pretty damning, especially since that isn't the most common color for a car. But I still maintain that there is either no damage whatsoever, or it's so minor (because, as I said, I have never slammed my door into his car) that it could probably be wiped off with a spit-covered pinky. And if it turns out that there is damage that came from my car, however inadvertently and however minor, then I will take legal and moral responsibility. But I need some fucking PROOF first.

Anyway, he goes on to say that it better be solved or he'll take me to small claims court.

Commence a new outpouring into poor G's already-soggy ear.

So I’ve handed this ugly situation over to my insurance and I’ll let them take it from here. Whichever way it pans out, at least I fought the good fight.

This is as good a time as any to thank all of you for your calls and e-mails. Extra-special thanks go to K, who not only offered claims advice, but offered to come over and look at the damage with me so I don't have to face this guy alone. She even said she'd bring DJ, who's a pussycat, but a big enough guy to be intimidating to those who don't know that. Thanks also go to C and M, who also offered to be there for any face-to-face interactions, and to G, whose patience will be amply rewarded when I see him again.

This isn't the worst thing that's ever happened to me by a long shot; it's not even the worst thing that's happened to me this MONTH. (That would be Padre and my brother undergoing heart and cancer surgery respectively.) I’ve survived much worse and I’ll survive this too. Even though this sucks and I'm so stressed out I've barely eaten for the last two days---and you know how much I love my kibble---at least I can take comfort in the fact that I have such awesome people backing my play.

Because I spent THREE WEEKS without G this month, my media consumption went through the roof. Had to keep my mind off his absence somehow...

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


1. The Russian Concubine by Kate Furnivall: In 1928 China, a young Russian woman falls in love with a Chinese man, which leads to all sorts of complications. It's basically a slightly more literate romance novel, but it was a fun read. I still don't understand the title, though, since the only real concubines in the book are all Chinese.

2. Bitter Sweets by Roopa Farooki: A family saga about three generations of an Indian family whose constant lies eventually catch up with them. I enjoyed it up until the last fifty pages or so, when everything starts wrapping up in a far too convenient fashion.

3. The Observations* by Jane Harris: In 1863, a young Scottish girl begins working as a maid for a woman who insists that she keep a journal of her daily activities and private thoughts. Eventually tiring of this, the girl plays a prank on her mistress that has horrifying consequences. I'm a sucker for good historical fiction, and this certainly fit the bill. As a bonus, there was a scene that freaked my shit out and made me sleep with the covers over my head.

4. Ai no Kusabi: Stranger by Reiko Yoshihara: I just about sprayed 'em when I found out that this novel had been licensed and translated in the US, as it's the basis for my all-time favorite anime OAV. The plot is way too complex to go into detail here, so I'll sum it up thusly: imagine Romeo and Juliet, only with two dudes, on another planet. It's pretty badly written, but I'm still going to snap up part 2 as soon as it's released. (Not sure why they decided to chop it up into three separate volumes; either it's so complicated to translate that they need additional time, or they want to squeeze as much money out of the fangirls as possible. I'm betting 10% the former and 90% the latter.)

5. Heroes: Saving Charlie by Aury Wallington: Basically 250 pages of fanfiction. It's mildly entertaining, but only the most rabid Heroes fans should bother, and even they should probably find something better to do.

6. The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum: I've wanted to read this for years, and now that I finally have, I'm kind of sorry I did. It has nothing to do with the writing, which is quite good, but with the subject matter; it's based on the Sylvia Likens murder. A horror story in the truest sense of the word, this book made me feel tired, sickened, and very, very sad.

7. Duma Key* by Stephen King: After a horrific accident that leaves him maimed and prone to fits of rage that end his marriage, Edgar Freemantle moves to Florida and begins to paint. To his surprise, even though his previous artistic experience consists of "doodles on a notepad while waiting on hold", he creates gorgeous paintings that inspire both awe and dread in those who view them. Then it becomes clear that the paintings have a special power, and things take a very dark turn indeed. It takes a while to get to the truly unnerving stuff, but this is a great book. Stephen King has always been hit or miss, but Duma Key is a definite hit.


1. My Lobotomy* by Howard Dully: After the author's mother died when he was a kid, his father remarried a woman who brought new meaning to the term "evil stepmother". She was abusive, both physically and verbally, and she and Dully were always at odds. She began looking around for a doctor who would take her point of view, and eventually she met Dr. Walter Freeman, who was a bit too enthusiastic about performing so-called "ice pick" lobotomies. At the age of twelve, Dully was lobotomized, and spent the next few decades in and out of mental hospitals and group homes. Eventually, he decided to dig a little deeper into the reasons for his surgery. Truly compelling and disturbing.

2. Baby Love by Rebecca Walker: A very touching (but not in a barfy Lifetime movie way) pregnancy memoir.


1. Batman: The Killing Joke* by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland
2. Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi
3. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood* by Marjane Satrapi
4. Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return* by Marjane Satrapi
5. Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms by Fumiyo Kouno


1. The Nanny Diaries: A young woman lands a job as a nanny for the parents from hell. A complete waste of time and talent; the book is much better.

2. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End: My expectations for this movie could not have been lower, since I heard it was terrible, but it was actually pretty entertaining. Sure, the plot was goofy and at least an hour could have been trimmed from the running time, but I enjoyed it.

3. I Am Legend*: After a "miracle" vaccine for cancer kills most of its recipients and turns the rest into bloodthirsty mutants, Will Smith tries to survive long enough to find a cure. Some of the CGI is dicey---oy, those lions!---but it's a gripping thriller. Jesus, the scene where he's looking for his dog in a dark building left my fingernails bitten to the quick.

4. Eastern Promises*: A midwife accidentally gets tangled up with the Russian mob when she tries to track down the family of a dead teenage girl. A smart, engrossing drama with typically excellent performances by Viggo Mortensen and my eternal girlcrush Naomi Watts. (Confidential to film directors: I greatly approve of full-frontal Viggo, but I would prefer that he not be covered in blood and bad tattoos at the time, as it takes a bit of the buzz out of my bloomers. Many thanks!)

5. 3:10 to Yuma: Desperate for money, a rancher agrees to escort an outlaw to a train heading for the Yuma prison. I was kind of fidgety during the first 90 minutes or so, but it really picked up near the end, and Russell Crowe and Christian Bale are great.

6. The Bourne Supremacy: Not as good as the first one, but there's one hell of a car chase near the end. Now that I've caught up on its predecessors, I'm looking forward to seeing the third installment.

7. Juno*: A teenage girl finds out that she's pregnant, and she decides to give the baby up for adoption. That's the general plot, but I don't want to give too much away because this movie really deserves to be seen. The dialogue is sharp and funny, and Ellen Page is phenomenal as wisecracking Juno. I had pretty lofty expectations for this movie because I loved Candy Girl, by screenwriter Diablo Cody, so much; I'm pleased to report that they were met.

8. Atonement*: A young girl, misunderstanding an intercepted note and a lover's tryst she witnesses, tells a lie that irrevocably changes three lives forever. Powerfully acted Oscar bait with a truly heartbreaking ending.

9. The Kite Runner: This could easily have been titled Atonement as well, because it's about a young Afghani man who tries to make up for a terrible moment in his childhood when he failed to protect his best friend. It's good, but the book is MUCH better. Example (SPOILER ALERT): when Sohrab shoots the bad guy in the eye and he and Amir manage to escape a group of angry, armed Taliban members. In the book, it was dramatic as hell; in the movie, I kept expecting the Benny Hill theme to kick in on the soundtrack.

10. No Country for Old Men*: A man stumbles across a drug deal gone wrong, and when he finds a briefcase full of cash, he takes it. This gets a very, very bad man (the utterly terrifying Javier Bardem) on his trail. A fantastic movie, although the last five minutes or so gave me a serious case of the WTFs.

11. Untraceable: Diane Lane plays an FBI agent who discovers a website run by a serial killer who posts live videos of his victims; the more people that log on to the site, the quicker they die. Basically the same ol' torture porn with a classier cast. Whichever reviewer is quoted on the poster as saying this is the new Silence of the Lambs should be horsewhipped. I should have known I'd hate it when the opening scene showed a kitten being tortured to death.

Side note: When I was leaving the theater, I overheard a woman say to her boyfriend, "I wonder what it says about me that I was way more upset over the kitten being killed than the people?" I don't know, but I certainly felt that way too!


1. "Toxic" by Britney Spears: When I was reading about the standoff at Britney's house, I began thinking, "Damn, 'Toxic' really is a damn good song," so I downloaded it. It's also one of the best songs to play in Taiko Drum Master.

2. "Under My Thumb" by the Rolling Stones: Even though the lyrics are pretty misogynistic, this is my favorite Stones song.

3. Silent Hill Origins (soundtrack)

4. "Big Shot" by Billy Joel

5. "Emotional Rescue" by the Rolling Stones

6. "Rush Hour" by Jane Wiedlin

7. "Love U More" by Sunscreem

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

2008 can lick my dirt star

2008 isn’t even a month old yet and it’s already sucking harder than a crack whore trying to earn her next fix. How has it sucked? Let me count the ways:

First and worst, both Padre and my brother had major surgery. Although they’re both doing great, thankfully, the stress was pretty damn bad.

Secondly, it has now been two weeks since I’ve seen G. He’s where he needs to be, of course, but I want him home with me.

Third, I started off the new year with a nasty head cold that took weeks to go away. If I wasn’t wiping rivers of snot from my chapped nose, I was hacking up globs of phlegm that were the exact color and consistency, but unfortunately not the flavor, of butterscotch pudding.

And finally, we have this new bit of asscrackery.

I came home from work last night to find a piece of paper taped to my door. Was it a billet-doux from a secret admirer? No. Was it an advertising flyer? No. Was it a notice from my landlady saying that the hot water would be turned off for a week, so get ready to kick it Little House on the Prairie style?

No, any of those would have been preferable.

Instead, it was a note from the guy who parks in the assigned spot to the left of mine. He claims that it was recently “brought to [his] attention” that he has thirty to forty scratches and several dings on his passenger side, and he’s claiming they’re from ME. He adds that this situation “must be resolved, either privately or through insurance”.

Recently, I’ve been having dreams that are so vivid I wake up and think they actually happened. Hoping against hope, I pinched my arm.

It hurt.


First of all, let me explain the parking situation. The area where I park is covered and has three spaces reserved for people in my particular building. Douchenozzle is on the left, I’m in the middle, and Art Model is on the right. Douchenozzle has a wall to his left, so he tends to park waaaaay over to the right of his spot; in fact, his tires are usually on the yellow line or right over it, encroaching into my space. When he’s parked in such a fashion, I try to get over as far as I can without trespassing on Art Model’s space, because otherwise I would need the jaws of life to get out of my fucking car. Because he can’t park worth a good goddamn, I am ALWAYS extremely careful when getting out of my car. On the rare occasion when I’ve had to touch his car with my door in order to get out, I always do so very gently. Unless his car is made out of fucking PLAY-DOH or something, there’s absolutely no way I have ever left a mark on his car, much less “thirty to forty” scratches and/or dings.

After going in the bathroom and stress puking, I went downstairs to look at his car, which was not there. I returned to my apartment, fumed for a bit, and wrote G an e-mail asking for his advice. Then I changed out of my work clothes and grabbed my purse, because I needed to go to Target.

Now there was a letter (same content) under my windshield wiper! His car, however, was still nowhere to be seen.

I ripped the letter into little shreds, threw them in the dumpster, and went off on my errands. When I came back, I went online and read G’s reply, which called the guy a few colorful names and suggested I write him a note saying that I hadn’t done any damage, too bad, so sad (to be phrased differently in the actual letter, of course). I wrote a brief response back, thanked him, and went to bed, without eating dinner, at the unheard-of (for me) time of 11PM.

This morning, I took the note over to K’s cube to get her take on it, both as a friend and as a highly trained claims professional. She said basically the same thing as G did, with the addition that I shouldn’t call in a claim to my insurance unless Douchenozzle insists. I sure as hell am not going to settle it “privately”; that’s against the terms of my policy (as she pointed out), and besides, I DIDN’T FUCKING DO ANYTHING.

I’m so fucking freaked out. There was nothing threatening in the letter, but I don’t much like the fact that this guy knows where I live.

This is where it sucks being a woman living alone.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

it's hard out here for a shrimp

Guys, I just don't know what the deal is with Bruiser. I'll look in the Ecosphere and he'll be on his back or side, and then a couple of hours later, he'll be daintily picking scuzz off the glass. I looked in the care manual to see if there was any explanation for his weird behavior, but nada.

Any shrimp experts in the hizzy?

Yesterday at work, Giggles was on a personal call (shocker) and I heard her suddenly exclaim, “WHO died?!?”

By the way she said it, I could tell it was a celebrity and not a personal acquaintance, so---being the nosy sort---I went to Yahoo’s front page to find out, and I am not shitting you, I could actually feel the blood draining from my face when I saw that it was Heath Ledger.

I know they’re still not sure whether it was an accidental overdose or suicide, but whatever killed him, what an unbelievable loss of talent. I’ll always remember how good he was in The Patriot and Monster’s Ball, and how fucking PHENOMENAL he was in Brokeback Mountain, and how amazing he’s sure to be as the Joker in The Dark Knight. And, of course, I felt terrible for his family, especially the baby daughter who will never really know him, and his friends.

Well, you can imagine my disgust when I read that Fred Phelps and his gaggle of bigots are planning on picketing Heath Ledger’s funeral because he played a gay man in Brokeback Mountain, thus “furthering the gay agenda”.

You know, it’s at times like this that I really wish I were religious, because I’d love to believe there’s a special hell for these people…a hell filled with priapic devils who want nothing more than to buttfuck these morons for all eternity.

Okay, enough moping and fuming…well, for now, anyway. They announced the Oscars nominations yesterday, and we all know how much I love the Oscars (or, as [doodlebug] calls them, the gay Super Bowl). Here are my fearless predictions for the winners of this year’s major categories. Keep in mind, these are the people I think will win, and not necessarily the ones I think deserve to win.

BEST PICTURE: Atonement, Juno, Michael Clayton, No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood.

MY PICK: Well, I’ve only seen two of these---Atonement and Juno---and thought they were both pretty freakin’ awesome. Daddy-O saw Michael Clayton and thought it was mediocre; R saw No Country for Old Men and thought it was fantastic up until the last half-hour. I know nothing about There Will Be Blood other than that it’s gotten terrific reviews. I’d love to see Juno win, but I think it’s probably a bit too quirky for the Academy; therefore, I predict that Atonement will take home the gold.

ACTOR: George Clooney, Michael Clayton; Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood; Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd; Tommy Lee Jones, In the Valley of Elah; Viggo Mortensen, Eastern Promises.

MY PICK: Good lord, is this a list of Best Actor nominees or my laminated list? I mean, wow. I wouldn’t be disappointed to see any of them win, because not only do I find them all attractive as hell (see previous comment), but they’re all amazing actors. I’ve only seen Viggo’s performance, and I thought he was opinion in NO way colored by his full-frontally nude fight scene. Still, I doubt too many people saw Eastern Promises (shame, that), and I think the one to beat this time around is Daniel Day-Lewis.

(And aw, no love for James McAvoy for Atonement? Poor Mr. Tumnus! Come here and rest your wee Scottish haid on me bosom, lad.)

ACTRESS: Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth: The Golden Age; Julie Christie, Away from Her; Marion Cotillard, La Vie en Rose; Laura Linney, The Savages; Ellen Page, Juno.

MY PICK: I would love to see Ellen Page take this, both because I have such a wild girlcrush on her and because she’s so damn good. It’s going to be Julie Christie, though.

SUPPORTING ACTOR: Casey Affleck, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford; Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men; Hal Holbrook, Into the Wild; Philip Seymour Hoffman, Charlie Wilson’s War; Tom Wilkinson, Michael Clayton.

MY PICK: The only real shoo-in this year is Javier Bardem.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Cate Blanchett, I’m Not There; Ruby Dee, An American Gangster; Saoirse Ronan, Atonement; Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone; Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton.

MY PICK: Man, I can’t decide between Cate Blanchett or Amy Ryan on this one. But Cate played Bob Dylan, so I’m going with her.

DIRECTOR: Julian Schabel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly; Jason Reitman, Juno; Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton, Joel and Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men; Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood.

MY PICK: Um…er...Paul Thomas Anderson.

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Christopher Hampton, Atonement; Sarah Polley, Away from Her; Ronald Harwood, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly; Joel and Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men; Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood.

MY PICK: Um…er...Christopher Hampton.

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Diablo Cody, Juno; Nancy Oliver, Lars and the Real Girl; Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton; Brad Bird, Jan Pinkava, and Jim Capobianco, Ratatouille; Tamara Jenkins, The Savages.

MY PICK: Diablo Cody, although even if she wins, she’ll never shed that “ex-stripper” tag that every fucking article shoves in front of her name. She’ll just become “Diablo Cody, ex-stripper and Oscar winner”.

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM: Persepolis; Ratatouille; Surf’s Up.

MY PICK: Okay, what the fuck with Surf’s Up? REALLY, guys? You nominated a movie that’s basically "Happy Feet on the beach" over The Simpsons Movie, the breathtaking Beowulf, or the gorgeously animated mindfuck Paprika? I’ll grudgingly forgive you, but only because you didn’t nominate Bee Movie by the aggressively unfunny Jerry Seinfeld. Fuck Jerry Seinfeld and fuck his recipe plagiarizing, Louboutin-gifting bitch wife, too.

Ahem. Sorry. Anyway, I used to think any Pixar movie was an automatic win, but that was before Happy Feet won over Cars. Still, Ratatouille will take this one, both because of its sweet, funny script and its gorgeous animation.

I don’t have the energy to type up the rest of the categories and nominees, so I’ll leave you with this horrifying tidbit of information:

Norbit can now legitimately call itself an Oscar-nominated movie.

Sobering, eh?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

two open letters

Dear New York Giants,

Thank you for the best possible "get well soon" gift you ever could have given Padre, your most devoted fan. As a reward, you may all touch my boobies.

But nothing more than that,

Dear Bridget Moynahan,

I still can't believe Tom Brady left you for Gisele Bundchen when you were pregnant with his child. You can't tell me you're not still pissed off about the whole thing; I mean, I sure would be. I don't think anyone would blame you if you invited Tom Brady over to see his kid and then...oh, I don't know...tied his vas deferens in a granny knot. That would really hurt! My god, he wouldn't be able to play football like that.

Do it, Bridget.

Do it for all the women who have loved and lost.

We're counting on you.

Any time before February,

Thursday, January 10, 2008

in the Bowery

I’ve been meaning to write about my Christmas vacation, but two things have prevented me from doing so before now. First of all, I came back to California with a wicked cold. I’m doing better now, although I’m still coughing up blobs of phlegm that are the exact color and consistency of egg drop soup. Secondly, there isn’t actually that much to write about, since it was a pretty low-key trip. I took lots of walks, learned how to play pool, amused the nephews with my assorted Engrish shirts, and ate approximately fifty pounds of delicious food every day. (Aside from Madre’s famous cheesecake, my favorite was her cinnamon raisin French toast. I’d hit a cinnamon vein every other bite and commence to moaning.) There were two things I’d like to jot down for posterity, though.

As is our custom, we went to NYC for a day. (I swear Padre must have pull with the parking gods, because he always manages to score an excellent parking spot in the city!) We went to John’s, a pizza parlor on Bleecker Street, and waited in line outside in the drizzle, shivering, for a half-hour. It was definitely worth it, though; I’m not usually a fan of thin-crust pizza, since I require as many carbs as possible, but it was delicious.

Side note: something about me attracts violently inclined homeless people. In Key West, we walked by a black dude who muttered “I’m gonna hit you with a monkey wrench,” and in NYC, a man pushing a shopping cart walked past us and flipped us off, snarling, “Yeah, you understand that language? They don’t want you to see, but YOU WILL.” Okay then!

Anyway, after lunch we went to the New Museum in the Bowery. Let me show you the coolest thing about it:

Awesome building, right? (Incidentally, the rainbow letters say “Hell Yes!”) Too bad the exhibit inside wasn’t anywhere near as cool; in fact, I’d go so far as to say it sucked my ass out. To give you an example, one of the installations was a bicycle with purses looped over the handlebars. On the back was an antenna with a piece of fur and a picture of Mel Gibson hanging from it. According to the program, this was a “sly criticism of Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitism.” I pointed this line out to Glenn and sniped, “How? By making him star in a really lame piece of art?”

On the 29th, we visited the home of R and M, longtime friends of Padre’s. R is a lawyer, and he’s obviously doing pretty well for himself; Bryan Singer’s mother lives next door. Anyway, R has recently taken up toy trains as a hobby, and thinking the lads would enjoy seeing his train set, he invited us over. We were standing in the foyer, taking off our muddy shoes, when I saw a toy cat sitting by a potted plant. Being a big fan of the cute, I don’t have anything against stuffed animals, but I thought it was weird that a middle-aged couple with no kids living at home would put one in the front room of their zillion dollar house.

Then it moved.

Instantly I began biting my knuckles to keep from screaming with delight. R noticed my reaction and said, “Oh, Winston came out from under the bed!”

Unable to restrain myself, turned into a quivering pile of id, I moaned, “Kiiiitty,” and lurched towards Winston, who promptly scurried away.


Fortunately, when we went upstairs to see the train set---which was in a room that was only slightly smaller than my whole apartment---Winston followed us, and eventually he allowed us to pet him, but by that time we had to leave.


BUT! R asked Padre if he would come over on New Year’s Eve to feed Winston, since he and M would be out of town, and Padre agreed. When we left, I tugged on Padre’s sleeve and said plaintively, “Bring me too.”

And lo, didst we frolic! Winston was much happier to see us this time around (funny how food will do that), and he let me scratch him under the chin, shower him with sweet nothings that would make your pancreas ache, and even pick him up. I squealed happily as he splayed out across my lap, so warm and heavy, and I sank my fingers into his plush fur. He's a British shorthair, and he was probably the most beautiful cat I’ve ever seen in real life. Even though I knew pictures wouldn’t do him justice, especially since you can’t see his amazing copper-colored eyes, I had to take a couple anyway.

I have a new love, and his name is Winston.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

the rumors of Bruiser's death...

...have been slightly exaggerated, as he is currently meandering around the bottom of the Ecosphere. This morning, just before I left for work, he was on his side, but his legs were moving. I didn't expect to find him still alive when I got home, but he was upright and snacking on a bit of algae.

Perhaps I should rename him Lazarus?

Monday, January 07, 2008

and then there were two

Last fall, on a whim, I bought an Ecosphere for my apartment. I brought it home from Brookstone, found a perfect spot for it, and---since I obviously couldn't tell the globe's inhabitants apart---christened all of them Ebi, the Japanese word for shrimp.

I've become seriously attached to the little guys. Oh, sure, it's not like I can cuddle or pet them, but I enjoy watching them swim around their tiny home, and I especially love watching them eat. One in particular has a healthy appetite, and within a month of bringing the Ecosphere home, he was much bigger than the others. I renamed him Bruiser, and I often sit down at my dining room table, rest my head on my folded arms, and watch him delicately pick at the algae with his tiny front claws.

Tonight I found Bruiser lying on his back, his legs waving feebly, and the sudden lump in my throat took me by surprise. Obviously, it's nowhere near as bad as losing a "real" pet, but I'm still going to miss him.

Bruiser, my friend, may Shrimp Heaven be an eternal all-you-can-eat algae buffet.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

2007: the year in review

JANUARY: For the first time in years, I woke up on New Year’s Day without a hangover. G and I went to Little Tokyo and stocked up on the jyaga bata chips we adore. Was plagued by nightmares. Broke the fart barrier with G, and was punished the next day when an elderly man at Borders walked by me and ripped a growler. Took Martin Luther King Day off so I could spend it with G, whose workplace is somewhat more liberal than mine, and we slept in, went to the movies, and had a nice dinner out. Finished Fatal Frame 3. Mean Grandma plagued me at work. Went to the dentist. Read 7 non-fiction books and 3 volumes of manga; saw 8 movies.

FEBRUARY: G forced me to watch the Superbowl with him; I retaliated by falling asleep about halfway through. My brother R came out to California for a visit, and we went to Central California to visit Hearst Castle, Moonstone Beach, and the Madonna Inn, where I had a slice of pink champagne cake that was as big as my head. Our hotel restaurant also had Bailey’s French toast, so I got my feed on hardcore. G sent me a beautiful arrangement of roses and lilies on Valentine’s Day. After work, I went to his house and we had Chinese takeout, watched Lost, and exchanged gifts. Mine all came with a clue that I had to decipher before I could unwrap them. Watched the Oscars; guessed exactly half of the winners. Finished Hotel Dusk. Read 8 novels, 8 non-fiction books, and 2 volumes of manga; saw 5 movies.

MARCH: Signed up with GameFly. Got my taxes done, and as usual, owed slightly more in federal than I got back from the state. Finished Touch Detective. My musical tastes almost got me in trouble at work. A lifelong dream of mine was realized when I got to touch a monkey on the Third Street Promenade. I was traumatized by my coworker’s hideous Beatles-singing stuffed animal. Indulged my sudden, bizarre craving for Popeye’s chicken; was not impressed. Went out with G, C, and M to celebrate M’s birthday. Went to Little Tokyo. Read 13 novels, 5 non-fiction books, 2 volumes of manga, and 2 graphic novels; saw 8 movies. Left for New Jersey.

APRIL: I spent the first week of the month in New Jersey with G and his family. We ate colossal amounts of phenomenal food, talked, played games, and visited an art museum and a ghetto amusement park. I had a major emotional meltdown on the last night of the trip, but other than that, I had a good time. Finished Big Brain Academy and Cooking Mama. My brother had surgery to correct his breathing problems, and he came through it like a champ. I took a belly dancing class and stumbled around like a zombie on downers. I came down with a nasty cold, but fortunately it only lasted three days; I credit lots of rest and a Jamba Juice Orange Dream Machine for my speedy recovery. For Administrative Professionals Day, my bosses threw us a crappy breakfast and gave us all one paid hour off work. That sure beat a proper raise! Had cheesecake with an almond biscotti crust that made me moan with delight. Read 9 novels, 6 non-fiction books, and 4 volumes of manga; saw 8 movies.

MAY: I fell in love with the baby birds nesting on our patio, and was surprised by how sad I felt when they flew away. People at work irritated the fuck out of me with their odd bathroom habits and claims that people who are unmarried and have no kids don’t actually have families. Spent a G-less Saturday going to the movies, watching anime, and reading Ron Jeremy’s autobiography from cover to cover at Borders. Fortunately, our schedule was back to normal the next day, and we cocooned with DVDs and Chinese food. Another dead month at work meant that I was averaging a book a day. Finished Trace Memory. Got a smog check, and the nice lesbian who did the test also oiled my squeaky door for free; no, that's not a euphemism. Finished QuickSpot. I was disgusted when Komodo won $11,000 in the lottery; not only does he not need any extra money, but the man is a dick. Got my hair cut at a salon located in the ghetto, and was horrified when the receptionist almost got into a fistfight outside. Went to the Santa Barbara Zoo with G, C, and M, and my love of monkeys went down a couple of notches after watching one of them pee into its hand and drink it. Apollo Ohno won Dancing with the Stars. Read 10 novels, 12 non-fiction books, and 2 volumes of manga; saw 6 movies.

JUNE: I spent the first Saturday of June in a G-less funk, but our routine picked up as normal the next day. My schadenfreude kicked into overdrive when Paris Hilton was sent to prison. An old business partner of Padre’s died, so he flew out to California for the funeral, and I had three dinners in a row with him and G. I signed the lease for my new apartment. G and I went to Chinatown and watched an amazing Shaolin martial arts demonstration. I went to my fourth John Connolly book signing, and this time I mustered up the courage to ask for a picture with him. Marked a decade without my mom. Began the tedious process of carting all my crap over to the new place. Went to the gynecologist, where I was glad to see that the picture of Matthew McConaughey on the ceiling had been replaced. Read 9 novels, 11 works of non-fiction, and 2 volumes of manga; saw 8 movies.

JULY: I bought my first piece of “big girl” furniture: an unbelievably comfortable couch with the texture of a teddy bear. Watched fireworks with G and cringed in horror as the hillside caught on fire; fortunately, the fire brigade got to it before it had a chance to spread. At the new place, I found a Mexican porn magazine in my parking spot. A stinky prick at Ralph’s cut in front of me in line and had the audacity to look me in the eye and smirk; I entertained fantasies of stabbing him in the nuts with a broken beer bottle. Finally finished watching The Sopranos. Once again, G proved his worthiness by putting up my mini blinds, hanging my pictures, putting together my new TV cart, hooking up my VCR, and soothing my frazzled nerves. The shower in my new apartment went haywire and soaked the entire bathroom, but fortunately my landlady fixed it quickly. Finally moved completely out of the Merry Mansion and into Casa C. Lost four pounds in the process of moving; unfortunately, thanks to three birthday celebrations in one week, they came back and brought friends. Saw John Williams at the Hollywood Bowl. Turned 36 years old. Waited in line with all the other geeks to get the new Harry Potter book. Had a truly frustrating day which included Time Warner being unable to hook up my internet, arriving at work without my purse and having to go back home to get it, and then getting pulled over by a cop; fortunately, I was able to talk my way out of a ticket. Read 11 novels and 4 non-fiction books; saw 6 movies.

AUGUST: Finally got to try cult favorite Pinkberry, but didn't see (or, er, taste) what all the fuss is about. Giggles, my malingering coworker, was out for a full week, so my slacking time was greatly curtailed. My gorgeous new couch, Big Brown, was delivered, but not without a great deal of hassle. I housesat for C and M, which went fine aside from the night I freaked myself out watching Inland Empire; had to take the next day off because I only got four hours of sleep. Tempted by a rave review online, I tried a chicken sandwich at Chick-Fil-A and wasn’t impressed; four days later, I tried the chicken nuggets and found them much more to my liking. G’s friends G2 and R came out for a short visit, and we had a lovely day which included a Giovanni Ribisi sighting and a trip to the Redondo Beach pier. Continued my hopeless search for a dining room table that wasn’t too expensive or too big. G and I celebrated our three year anniversary. Received a lovely compliment from an elderly man at the grocery store. Read 4 novels, 8 non-fiction books, 11 volumes of manga, and one graphic novel; saw 7 movies.

SEPTEMBER: Finally found a dining room table that suited my needs, although it took longer to be delivered than I would have liked. Upon noticing a big hole in the armpit of one of my favorite t-shirts, G whipped out needle and thread and stitched it up. He also fixed the inside release lever for my trunk. Returned to Minnesota to attend Daddy-O’s retirement party and go through the things I still had sitting in my old closet and the basement. I also got my feed on hardcore, found an old story I’d written in which Daniel Ash took me to the prom and then deflowered me in the back of a limo, and visited the Walker Arts Center and the Como Park zoo and conservatory. Bought an Ecosphere. Locked my keys in my car on a rainy afternoon, just as I was expecting my dining room table to be delivered; fortunately, the nice old lady downstairs let me use her phone to call AAA. Read 4 novels, 6 non-fiction books, 3 volumes of manga, and one graphic novel; watched 4 movies.

OCTOBER: Finally finished decorating my new place. Got my hair cut for the first time in almost six months. Yelled obscenities at a silverfish in my apartment; forgot that my bathroom window was open until I heard people in the parking lot laughing at my outburst. Went to a cheesy but enjoyable fall festival in a nearby town. Wildfires raged throughout Southern California. Took a trip to Las Vegas to see Spock and meet up with my dear friend Susan and her boyfriend. I saw Cirque du Soleil’s Zumanity, ate obscene amounts of food (including the infamous Vosges bacon chocolate bar), gambled, visited the Neon Museum and the Valley of Fire, saw the Bodies exhibit, walked about fifteen thousand miles, and enjoyed spending quality time with good friends. The New York Giants won every game they played in October, which kept G in a good mood. After almost 60 hours of gameplay, G and I finally finished Odin Sphere. Read 6 novels, 8 works of non-fiction, and one volume of manga; watched 4 movies.

NOVEMBER: Went to the insanely crowded Takashi Murakami exhibit at MOCA; marveled over the cute, weird, and mildly disturbing artwork. Afterwards, G and I wandered around Little Tokyo, and I bought my usual magazines and junk food. Finished Touch Detective 2 ½. Housesat for C and M and loved up on their kitties. Work was exceptionally shitty right before I left for vacation, which I figure was the universe’s way of telling me to appreciate my time off. G and I went to Florida for Thanksgiving vacation, including two days in Key West, where we walked approximately two hundred miles and visited everything from the Hemingway House to Robert the Doll. Finished Cooking Mama 2. Read 3 novels, 7 non-fiction books, and 2 graphic novels; watched 3 movies.

DECEMBER: Put in some overtime at work to earn a little extra Christmas cash. Went through a paranoid phase when I was convinced I’d brought bed bugs back from Florida, but fortunately it just turned out to be a delayed reaction to the tiny biting flies that had plagued me throughout the trip. Watched (and slept through) lots of football. Some shithead hit my parked car, damaging the rear end rather badly, and didn’t leave a note. Thanks to various work luncheons and the candy, cookies, and cake all over the damn building, my pants kept getting tighter and tighter. R came out for a visit. My brother was diagnosed with skin cancer, but fortunately it was caught early enough that it shouldn’t come back once he has his surgery. G and I visited his family in New Jersey for Christmas vacation, and in addition to eating approximately two hundred pounds of delicious food every day, we took walks, hung out, talked, played games, went to New York City, and attended a New Year’s Eve party. I also fell madly in love with Winston, the gorgeous British shorthair kitten that Padre’s friends just got. Came back to California with a whopper of a souvenir: one seriously nasty cold. Read 6 novels, 2 works of non-fiction, 13 volumes of manga, and 2 graphic novels; saw 7 movies.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

media update: December

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


1. The Flawless Skin of Ugly People* by Doug Crandell: Hobbie is a man with serious acne; his longtime girlfriend, Kari, is morbidly obese. She leaves him to attend a weight loss clinic, and his life changes in ways he couldn't have anticipated. There are occasional moments that don't ring true, but I was able to overlook them because, overall, this is a beautifully written and profoundly moving novel.

2. T Is for Trespass* by Sue Grafton: When Kinsey Millhone's elderly neighbor Gus is injured, his niece hires a private nurse named Solana Rojas to look after him. Kinsey doesn't like the nurse, and when she finds out that Solana is a sociopath who's stolen a former coworker's identity, she must try to stop Solana before Gus falls victim to her schemes. By far Grafton's most disturbing book, and (in my opinion) also her best.

3. The Darkest Evening of the Year by Dean Koontz: If you plan on reading this book, there's something you should know first: Dean Koontz loves dogs. I mean, LOVES dogs. Not in a creepy, illegal way, mind you, but he thinks they are just this side of holy and can do absolutely no wrong. (I think Diane Whipple might disagree with you, Mr. Koontz.) But if you can overlook the constant dog worship, this is a reasonably entertaining read about a woman whose life takes an ominous turn shortly after she rescues a golden retriever from an abusive household.

4. Songs Without Words by Ann Packer: The longtime friendship between two women is tested when one of their daughters tries to commit suicide. Well written, but ultimately a bit too much like a Lifetime movie for my tastes.

5. Double Cross by James Patterson: Alex Cross is in a pickle when his old nemesis Kyle Craig escapes from prison, and if that isn't bad enough, he's got a particularly flamboyant murderer to track down. So many of Patterson's books have been complete shit lately, but this one isn't bad.

6. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides: The sprawling, Pulitzer Prize-winning epic about three generations of an incestuous Greek family. I loved Eugenides' first book, The Virgin Suicides, but this one didn't really grab me.

TOTAL READ IN 2007: 83


1. No Reservations* by Anthony Bourdain: A terrific collection of photos and anecdotes from the notoriously cranky (but always entertaining) chef.

2. Japan Ai: A Tall Girl's Adventures in Japan* by Aimee Major Steinberger: A charming and beautifully illustrated account of the author's trip to Japan.

TOTAL READ IN 2007: 84


Bored out of my skull, I visited a different library than the ones I usually frequent, and I found a treasure trove: almost ten full shelves of manga, including several volumes from the Harlequin Pink series. Apparently, Harlequin hired manga artists to illustrate some of their more popular books, and that's what numbers 6-12 are on this list. They're quick reading, cheesy as hell, and the epitome of a guilty pleasure.

1. All the Rage: The Boondocks Past and Present* by Aaron McGruder

2. Dramacon* vols. 1-3 by Svetlana Chmakova: A teenage girl is excited about attending her first anime convention, especially since she and her boyfriend will be selling their new comic book in the artist's alley. But when her boyfriend starts being a dick and flirting with every cute girl that comes to their table, she begins thinking about a possible romance with the cute guy she keeps bumping into. There's a plot device in volume 3 that was a little too convenient for my tastes, but overall I loved this series; it's very funny with the occasional sprinkling of angst.

3. Blankets by Craig Thompson

4. Presents by Kanako Inuki

5. Kitchen Princess* vols. 1-2 by Natsumi Ando and Miyuki Kobayashi

6. My Real Fake Boyfriend by Amanda Browning and Hiromi Kobayashi

7. Misunderstood by Roberta Lee and Tsukasa Shimeno

8. Heart on Fire by Charlotte Lamb and Yohna

9. A Prince Needs a Princess by Barbara McMahon and Reiko Kishida

10. Never Kiss a Stranger by Madeleine Ker and Mayu Kasumi

11. A Girl in a Million by Betty Neels and Kako Itoh

12. Idol Dreams by Charlotte Lamb and Yoko Hanabusa

TOTAL READ IN 2007: 51


1. Live Free or Die Hard*: A group of terrorists tries to shut down the government's computer system, but John McClane ain't having it. Goofy fun for people who like lots of 'splosions.

2. Beowulf*: Based on the old story that tormented so many of us in high school literature, this is probably the most visually stunning movie I've ever seen. It's completely computer animated, but at times, you honestly can't tell. If you have any interest in seeing this movie at all, I would strongly urge you to catch it before it leaves theaters, because it will lose so much impact on the small screen. We saw the 3D version, and it was spectacular.

3. Waitress: A waitress in a small town is none too happy to discover that she's pregnant by her abusive husband. She has a knack for making pies, so she plans to enter a baking competition, win the prize money, and escape. Keri Russell is great in the title role, and the script has some sweet moments, but it was a bit too schmaltzy to be truly engrossing.

4. Lars and the Real Girl: Ryan Gosling is fantastic as a troubled young man who orders a life-size doll online and treats her like a real person. His friends and family, after some hesitation, decide to play along. This is one of the oddest movies I think I've ever seen, and although I didn't like it as much as I thought I would, it had its moments. (And yes, goddammit, I cried at the end...much to the amusement of the elderly couple sitting in front of me.)

5. Superbad*: In hopes of getting laid, two teenage boys try to score booze for a party. Needless to say, things don't turn out quite the way they expected. This was like an unbelievably raunchy John Hughes movie, and I laughed my freakin' ass off.

6. The Simpsons Movie*: Yes, it's like an extra-long episode with mild profanity and full frontal (animated) nudity...but it's also extremely funny.

7. Babel: Well, THAT was depressing.



1. Hedwig and the Angry Inch (soundtrack)
2. "Mickey Mouse" by Sparks
3. "Yuruga Kotonai Ai" by Naomi Tamura


Okay, so it's a full-length CG movie and not a new game, but Leon and Claire together again? OMFGYESPLZ.