Wednesday, April 30, 2008

media update: April

I didn't watch too many movies this month because G and I were busy catching up on Anthony Bourdain and Dexter. But I read a shitload of manga, several "trauma porn" memoirs, and not one but two books that talked about chimpanzee orgasms! (This was pure coincidence.)

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


1. Ai no Kusabi: Destiny by Reiko Yoshihara: Mansex in outer space!

2. 7th Heaven by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro: This seventh installment of the Women's Murder Club series is primarily about a series of arson murders, with a subplot about a teenage boy who disappears after visiting a prostitute. Patterson's books run the gamut from excellent suspense to unreadable trash; this fits in neither category, but it's a quick and entertaining read.

3. The Girl Who Stopped Swimming* by Joshilyn Jackson: A woman wakes up one night and sees the ghost of her daughter's best friend standing by the window. When she finds the girl's body floating in her swimming pool, she asks her estranged sister to help her uncover the truth. Part ghost story, part family drama, completely riveting. I seriously did not want to put this book down.

4. What I Was* by Meg Rosoff: In 1962, the narrator is sent to boarding school, where he discovers Finn, an enigmatic boy living by himself on the coast. He becomes obsessed with Finn, spending every moment he can with him, and then Finn’s illness brings forth a shocking revelation. This book perfectly describes the wonder and agony of first love.

5. Mudbound* by Hillary Jordan: Set in Mississippi in 1946, this book follows two families. The white McAllan family consists of ambitious farmer Henry, his dissatisfied wife Laura, their daughters, and Henry's nasty, racist father. The black Jackson family lives on the farm as sharecroppers. The racism of the day, coupled with the growing attraction between Laura and her brother-in-law, lead to tragedy. A powerful and sad debut.

6. The Girl With No Shadow by Joanne Harris: In this sequel to Chocolat, Vianne Rocher has changed her name and moved with her two young daughters to Paris, where she opens a chocolate shop. Then a charming woman comes around who's much more than she seems. Chocolat was better, but this has its moments, and parts of it are like food porn.


1. Swallow the Ocean by Laura M. Flynn: A deeply moving memoir about growing up with a schizophrenic mother.

2. Manic by Terri Cheney: A disturbing (and occasionally very darkly funny) memoir about living with manic depression.

3. Beautiful Boy* by David Sheff: A devastating account of the author's relationship with his meth addicted son.

4. Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex* by Mary Roach: A lively, hysterically funny, and wildly entertaining look at everything from vibrators to "panda porn". Roach's book Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers is one of my favorite nonfiction books of all time; this one's going on the list too.

5. Nim Chimpsky: The Chimp Who Would Be Human* by Elizabeth Hess: The titular primate was part of an experiment to see if language is an exclusively human trait. He was raised just like a human child and taught American Sign Language, but when he became too difficult to handle (or, as the author puts it, "too animal for a house, too human for a cage"), his life took a turn for the worse. This book is heartbreaking; have tissues handy.

6. Stori Telling* by Tori Spelling: Yeah, yeah, you can stop snickering. This was actually a really fun read. It's obviously not great literature or anything, but she's candid and dishes about everything from her rocky relationship with her mother to a bizarre encounter with Terence Trent D'Arby that changed her life. And there are some great lines in here, too. For example, when she visits her then-boyfriend's parents' house, she sees a knickknack that says "Gardens grow with love." She writes: "My mother's version of that knickknack would say 'Gardens grow with a large, full-time staff of horticulturists.'" I'd let Tori Spelling buy me a drink any day.

7. Bar Flower by Lea Jacobson: A memoir about the author's stint as a Tokyo nightclub hostess. The writing isn't the greatest, but it's still an interesting look at the seamier side of Japanese society.


1. Marmalade Boy vols. 1-4 by Wataru Yoshizumi

2. Hot Gimmick vols. 1-12 by Miki Aihara

3. After School Nightmare* vols. 1-6 by Setona Mizushiro: This is a truly awesome mindfuck. I haven't been this excited about a manga series since Death Note.

4. Black Hole* by Charles Burns: Okay, funny story. I saw this at a comic book store in Santa Monica, and it looked pretty interesting. On a whim, I checked the library's card catalog, and they actually had it, but it said "Check shelf - locked case". Since I had no idea what this meant, I asked at the information desk, and the librarian led me to a locked case which had all these sex manuals and huge art books and marijuana growing manuals, and she got the book out and actually escorted me to the circulation desk! She didn't leave my side until it was scanned in. It was really bizarre. What with all the hoopla, I expected this graphic novel to be full of sex, nudity, and intense gore...and it was. It's also freaky as hell.

5. Peach Girl: Sae's Story vols. 1-3 by Miwa Ueda

6. Kaze Hikaru vol. 4-6 by Taeko Watanabe


1. The Mist*: A small Maine town is taken over by a dangerous mist, trapping dozens of people in a grocery store. Out of their minds with terror, they begin dividing into two groups: one that wants to get the hell out of there, and one led by a psychotic religious woman who thinks the mist is God's plan to cleanse the world of sin. I don't want to give too much away, so I'll just say it's a very tense thriller with some seriously jawdropping moments.

2. The Orphanage*: A woman moves back to the orphanage where she grew up, intending to turn it into a home for special needs kids, and her son starts talking about his new imaginary friends. Turns out they're not so imaginary after all. This movie is unbelievably freaky---at one point, I actually started chewing my knuckles and moaning "Oh my GOD"---and surprisingly poignant.

Side note: G and I went to bed shortly after watching this movie, and I was convinced I'd have a nightmare about it. Which would have sucked, but at least I would have woken up next to G and he could have consoled me. No, I had to be in my apartment all alone at three in the motherfucking MORNING for this little bastard to show up:

...hold me.

3. Forgetting Sarah Marshall*: Devastated by a bad breakup, a man goes to Hawaii to try to get over his ex...only to run into her and her new boyfriend. This movie is not only hysterically funny, but it's also refreshing to see a man in the role that would typically go to a chick.


1. "Losing My Mind" by Liza Minelli and the Pet Shop Boys: The day after I downloaded this, my iPod disappeared. In its place, I found a note that said "Later, I'm off to Pride!"

2. "Living on Video" by Trans-X

3. "Shy Guy" by Diana King

4. "Ain't No Other Man" by Christina Aguilera

5. "Candyman" by Christina Aguilera


Okay, I'm pretty late to the "Flight of the Conchords" bandwagon, and I've only seen the first episode because I fell asleep during the second one. (Not their fault; I'd gotten up early and spent all day outside in the sun.) But man, I gotta watch the rest, because I LOVE these videos.

The Onion recently had an interview with the Kids in the Hall, which inspired me to check YouTube for one of my favorite KITH skits: "The Dr. Seuss Bible". Not for the easily offended!

Friday, April 25, 2008

holy shit y'all!

I have a coupon for a WHOLE PAID HOUR OFF WORK! Whatever shall I DO with this largesse? Should I:

  • Read 50 pages of a book?
  • Take a nap?
  • Eat a carton of Ben & Jerry’s Cheesecake Brownie and spend the other 55 minutes feeling sick?
  • Scour

Oh, I bet you’re wondering how I even came to be in possession of such a cherished document: Administrative Professionals Day, of course!

Yes, on Wednesday, all the peons had to sit in the breakroom, listen to a speech, and then eat breakfast while management watched us eat. It was like how they used to let the peasants watch the royals eat at Versailles, only in reverse. We also received a pin in the shape of a jigsaw puzzle piece, attached to a card that said:

Isn’t it a wonderful thing that we’re all different? Each of us has strengths and skills to share. And when we link our individual strengths together, we’re invincible. Can’t imagine us without you!

Ironically, everybody’s pin was exactly the same.


Oh, people, I’m feeling so tired and stabby. This week has sucked every drop of sunshine and happy from the marrow of my bones. My brother had to go to the ER with chest pain. My dad and G are going through a rocky, potentially relationship killing patch. And, in addition to that, my dad is having cataract surgery.

Can this year PLEASE stop sucking? Please? I don’t expect Ed McMahon to ride up to my apartment carrying a huge cardboard check or anything like that (although that would be lovely), but at the very least, can people I love please stop getting sick and hurt and operated on? Can mean people leave me alone? Can this FUCKING PHONE STOP RINGING?

Argh…must not leave this entry on a bad note…so here are some good things!

I was browsing Anthropologie’s webpage, and they had a gorgeous Anna Sui dress on sale for $88, which was about $200 less than the original price. Not only that, but my size was the only one they had left! I snapped it up, and when it arrived, I immediately tried it on. It fit so perfectly you’d think it was made especially for me. I look fucking fabulous in it. It makes me want to sit at a sidewalk café by the beach and drink mimosas.

John Connolly has a new book coming out next month, and Louis and Angel are the main focus. Plus JC will probably be coming to my nabe to promote it, so of course I have to go see him.

I just heard about a restaurant in LA that serves pancake lasagna. Quoth the website: "A maple-bechamel sauce holds together each layer—it goes pancake, sausage, scrambled egg, cheddar, pancake, maple-glazed black pepper bacon, egg, cheddar." Yes plz.

Silent Hill 5 is coming out in September!


Oh, monkeys riding dogs…is there anything you can’t do?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

quit bugging me

Last week, I swear the stars were aligned in the shape of a hand with the middle finger pointing right at me.

It all began on Monday afternoon. I had the day off, and after spending most of it sprawled out on my couch reading magazines of little to no intellectual value, I decided to get off my ass and clean. I cued up iTunes, tied my hair back, and opened the living room closet to get out the vacuum cleaner.

Um…what the hell?

That particular closet is filled with a ton of boxes holding everything from old love letters to pornographic comics. On top of one of the boxes was a scattering of tiny brown dots that I couldn’t identify. With an intense feeling of dread, I retrieved the tiny magnifying glass that came with my glasses repair kit and took a closer look. They didn’t appear to be moving, thank sweet baby Jesus, but I still couldn’t figure out what they WERE. They almost looked like little seeds, but since there’s no plant matter anywhere in my apartment, much less the closet, that couldn’t be the case. I looked up at the ceiling and saw nothing strange. I shrugged, unhooked the vacuum hose, and sucked them up before returning to the task at hand.

On Thursday afternoon, I was working when a claim processor I’ll call Bitchass McWhoreface came stomping over. “Did you take checks off the printer just now?” she huffed.

“Yes, I did.”

“I screwed up. One of them can’t go out, so where ARE they?”

“On the outgoing mail shelf,” I said.


I stood up and pointed towards the shelf. “Right th---”

Bitchass gave me a look that could freeze lava. “Gee, no KIDDING. I KNOW where the mail shelf is, I mean where ON the shelf? Is it near the front or the back?”

Okay, first of all, the shelf in question is about two feet long. At the time of her pissy query, there were maybe twenty envelopes on the shelf. And since I didn’t even know what particular check she was referring to, how the hell was I supposed to know where it was? And it’s not my personal mail shelf, either; anyone can use it. I wanted to say, “Gosh, Bitchass McWhoreface, since I’m not psychic, I don’t know where your stupid check is. Try looking up your ass.”

Instead, I said, “I don’t know.”

She clicked her tongue between her teeth in exasperation and began flipping through the envelopes. It took her all of thirty seconds to find the check, and she went stomping away again.

That’s one of the things I hate most about this job: no fuckin’ respect. For every person who domo arigato’s my Mr. Roboto for doing their grunt work so they don’t have to, there’s at least five who look down on me because of it. No, it’s not brain surgery. Yes, I should be doing something more fulfilling with my life. But you know what, Bitchass McWhoreface? If something that paid more/was more intellectually stimulating came along, I’d leap on it. But for now, I’m paying my bills, I’m padding my 401k, and unlike a lot of Americans, I have decent health insurance. I ain’t asking you to kiss my ass, nor would I want your mouth (which frankly looks like a cat’s asshole) anywhere near my lovely rump, but you better fucking RECOGNIZE. Otherwise, you can suck the dick I don’t have. Got it?


Anyway, so when I got home on Thursday night, I was still steaming. Eventually I calmed down and thought, Okay, she’s a bitch. But you know what? Leave her at work where she belongs. This is your sanctuary, and she doesn’t belong here. Now go take a hot bubble bath and watch CSI. Oh, speaking of CSI, better check the closet again.

The mystery specks were back with a vengeance.

Groaning, I grabbed a wet paper towel and swiped it over the top of the box. I crumpled the towel in my fist, and then I nervously inspected the contents. The specks appeared to be intact, and I still had absolutely no idea what the fuck they were. Instead of a hot bath, I took a hasty, surly shower and then called G to see if he had any ideas. He listened to my story, and then he sucked in his breath and said, “Oh, man, I hate to tell you this, but they sound like insect eggs. You said they’re only on one side of the closet?”


“Well, maybe there’s something in, or maybe even ON, those boxes that they’re attracted to. I’d say you should get some plastic bins at Target and move everything into those.”

The next day, I woke up feeling like shit, but I forced myself to go to work anyway because I was supposed to cover a coworker’s desk while she was out. Ordinarily I wouldn’t care, but this particular coworker sits down, shuts up, and gets her shit done, and she’s helped me out when I was in a bind, so I wanted to do right by her.

The day was going by pretty quickly, because she has such a heavy workload that it kept me from clockwatching, and then a claim rep came over and started getting up in my face. I’d made a mistake, but that was because a different claim rep had given me faulty instructions. When she finally left my desk, I went to the bathroom and sat there feeling like a washcloth that had been wrung out and thrown into a corner. I was upset that people were treating me like crap, I was upset that my apartment was infested with god knows what, and I just didn’t feel good.

On the way back to my desk, I ran into S, my boss, who took one look at me and said, “Hey, do you feel okay? You don’t look so hot, if you don’t mind me saying.”

“I don’t feel so hot, to be honest,” I said.

“Then you should go home.”

“But L’s out and I’m covering her desk.”

S smiled and put her hand on my shoulder. “You know, that stuff can wait. Taking care of yourself can’t. So go home. I’ll change your timecard for you.”

I thanked her, shut down my computer, and drove straight to Target, where I purchased several plastic bins, a pair of rubber gloves, and a stack of magazines. Then I went home and switched everything from cardboard boxes to the bins. I put the bins in the corner of the living room, vacuumed the everlovin’ shit out of the closet, covered the floor with white paper towels, took the old cardboard boxes out to the dumpster, and came back inside, where I took a hot shower and then crawled into bed without even blowdrying my hair.

Two hours later, I woke up, staggered to the bathroom, and puked. I went back to bed (pausing a second to stare at the amazing halo of frizz my hair had worked itself into) and slept for another four hours. Then I got up, puked again, read my stack of magazines, and fell asleep without further incident.

On Saturday morning, I woke up feeling much better physically. I peeked in the closet, and sure enough, those paper towels were covered with little specks. Not only that, they were forming strange patterns, almost like crop circles! I seriously thought I was losing my mind for a moment. Then I remembered that the paper towels had an embossed pattern of spirals and circles, which the specks were falling into, and I groaned.

Get a grip on yourself, or you’re going to wind up in the funny farm, writing with crayons on butcher block paper about how the government is tracking you with the fillings in your teeth.

I showered, wrote a letter to my landlady that began “This is going to sound crazy…”, threw it in the office mail slot, and left for G’s. When he let me in, he said, “Hey, whatever happened with those weird things in your closet?” I filled him in, and he shook his head. “I just don’t know what to tell you. That’s really bizarre. If you want, we can go over there later tonight and I’ll look at it for you. I’m no entomologist, but if nothing else, I can Raid the shit out of the closet!”

“That would be awesome, thanks,” I said.

We watched a couple of episodes of Anthony Bourdain, but then we both began nodding off, so we went upstairs for a nap. When the alarm went off, we were just lying there talking, and suddenly it was like the little Dutch boy had taken his finger out of the dike of my emotions, and I freaked the fuck out.

I am not a pretty crier. My entire face squinches up, I turn bright red, and I make gut wrenching noises. I didn’t want G to see me like that, so I got up and went in the bathroom until I was calm enough to face him again. I splashed cold water on my face, and then I opened the door to find him sitting on the floor, looking worried and confused.

This set me off again.

“I live in a den of FILTH,” I sobbed.

Yes, I really said that.

No, I wasn’t trying to be funny.

“No you don’t!” G said, standing up and embracing me. “This sucks, but everyone has bugs. We’ll go over there and I’ll do what I can, and I’m sure your landlady will do what she can too. You said she’s been good about maintenance problems, right?”

“Yes,” I whimpered, drenching the shoulder of his Giants shirt in snot and tears.

“It’ll be okay, I promise.”

I don’t cry very often. Oh sure, I mist up over commercials and things like that, but actual crying? Not so much. This means that when I DO cry, it goes on forever because, in addition to whatever set me off in the first place, I begin crying over everything from something sad on the news to Sprite, the cat I had to have put to sleep ten years ago. G handled my meltdown perfectly and has earned the right to Fuddrucker’s whenever he wants it.

Catharsis achieved, we got dressed and were about to head out for my apartment when I looked at my cell phone and realized that I’d missed a call from my landlady while we were napping. I listened to the message, and she said that she’d looked at my closet and knew exactly what the deal was. Turns out that I have boring beetles in my ceiling, and those little specks are bits of wood. She said that she has them in her kitchen, so she’d already called an exterminator and she’d tell him to do my place as well. When I hung up, I filled G in on the situation, and he said, “Wow! Okay, so I guess Raid wouldn’t help. At least she sounds like she’s got it under control.”

“Yeah, and at least if I have to have these stupid things, they’re in my CLOSET!”

We went to a local deli for dinner, and while we were sitting at our table, I heard someone very clearly and loudly say the N-word. Shocked as hell, I looked in the direction of the slur and saw a teenage boy who was twitching and tapping his foot uncontrollably. His (I assume) mother leaned over to the table next to them and said, “I’m sorry, he can’t help what he says because he has Tourette’s.”

It reminded me of the time K and I were driving to Target, and I was upset because I’d discovered a couple of spider veins on my thigh. When we walked into Target, I shit you not, the VERY first person I saw was a woman in a wheelchair whose legs were missing above the knee. It was like the universe giving me a hard rap on the noggin: “Yeah, you think your spider veins are bad? At least you have LEGS, you whiny twat!” This time around, it was the universe saying “Hey, so you have harmless bugs living in your ceiling? At least you don’t have Tourette’s, you whiny twat! Not only that, you have a ceiling in the first place, and a wonderful family and friends, and a boyfriend who comforts you when you’re having a meltdown and then takes you for grilled cheese. So, seriously, simmer down.”

And the celestial hand unclenched and gave me an apologetic wave.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

media update: March

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


1. The Secret Between Us by Barbara Delinsky: The protagonist, Deborah Monroe, lets her teenage daughter Grace drive home one rainy night. Grace hits a jogger, and Deborah decides to protect her daughter by claiming that she was driving instead, but when the jogger dies, Deborah finds herself in a whole mess o' trouble. Not bad, except for the weak ending.

2. The Anatomy of Deception by Lawrence Goldstone: In 1889 Philadelphia, a young doctor becomes embroiled in a murder mystery when he becomes suspicious of a young woman's cause of death. Kind of dry.

3. We Disappear* by Scott Heim: When he learns that his mother is dying, the narrator returns to his childhood home in Kansas. He discovers that she's become obsessed with missing children, and he tries to unravel why. Luminous prose and some achingly beautiful moments. Scott Heim's novel Mysterious Skin was one of the best I read last year; with this one, he lands on the short list of authors whose work I will always seek out.

4. Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult: About fifty pages in, this started ripping off The Green Mile so blatantly that my jaw dropped. Death row prisoner with miraculous powers? Check. A jailhouse pet callously killed by a prison guard, only to be revived by the aforementioned prisoner? Check. In addition to this shameless plagiarism, there's a ton of religious mumbo-jumbo, a lame twist that I saw coming about two hundred pages away, a groanworthy title (it's about an inmate who wants to donate his heart to his victim's sister! Ha ha, change of heart, GEDDIT?!?), and the stupidest fucking ending ever. Jodi Picoult has written a couple of good books, but this appalling, manipulative mess isn't one of them.

5. City of the Sun* by David Levien: A 12-year-old boy disappears during his paper route, and after the police give up on the case, his desperate parents hire a private investigator to help out. Eventually, he uncovers some truly horrific information that leads him and the boy's father to Mexico. A powerful and disturbing debut. (Oddly enough, so far this year I've read three books and seen one movie dealing with missing children, and all of them were excellent.)

6. Compulsion* by Jonathan Kellerman: Dr. Alex Delaware and his friend Milo, a police detective, investigate a series of strange murders that seemingly have only one thing in common: the murderer steals black luxury cars and then returns them after his crimes. When Kellerman's good, he's damn good, and this one is a corker. My only quibble is that it bugs me when he spells out accents phonetically (for example, one Russian character says things like "nyow he's gone" and "nyo, I nyever saw them"), but that's a pretty minor gripe.


1. The Fortune Cookie Chronicles* by Jennifer 8. Lee: The author decided to investigate Chinese food in the US, and this fascinating book covers everything from the dangerous lives of deliverymen to the origins of chop suey. (And no, I didn't make a typo; the author's middle name really is the number 8.)

2. Confessions of a Carb Queen by Susan Blech: A memoir about the author's struggle with obesity. The title and cover (which features a sprinkle-covered donut) make it seem like a lighthearted read; nothing could be further from the truth.


1. Miracle Dieter Miyuki* by Satosumi Takaguchi: This is about a pudgy teenage girl who discovers a magic barbell that makes her skinny and sexy. Her biggest nemesis is an evil chef who tries to break her diet with his tempting desserts. I know it sounds borderline offensive, but it's actually a sly parody of both magical girls and dieting and not to be taken seriously at all.

2. Swan vol. 12 by Kyoko Ariyoshi

3. The Best American Comics 2007*

4. Blue Pills by Frederik Peeters

5. Princess Diana by Kao Yung


1. The Darjeeling Limited: I've always found Wes Anderson's movies a bit too self-consciously arty for my tastes, and this movie did nothing to change my mind. Absolutely gorgeous cinematography, though.

2. Resident Evil: Extinction*: This is by far the best of the three Resident Evil movies. Oh, sure, it's loud and stupid, and it doesn't begin to compare to the sheer balls-to-the-wall thrill of playing the actual games, but it was really fun.

3. 30 Days of Night: Vampires attack a small Alaska town after the titular "thirty days of night" set in. It's extremely gory, but it had some surprising plot developments that redeemed it.

4. My Kid Could Paint That*: An engrossing documentary about Marla Olmstead, a 4-year-old painter whose work sells for thousands of dollars. But is she really a prodigy, or does she have some help from her father?

5. DOA: Dead or Alive: This movie exists only so teenage boys can fap to scantily clad women beating each other up. But, believe it or not, it's actually pretty entertaining, and better than you might expect.

6. Michael Clayton: George Clooney (tasty as always) plays a lawyer who tries to do damage control when a coworker goes off his nut and endangers the settlement of a huge case. Great performances, but it really didn't grab me at all.

7. Born to Fight: A small Thai village is taken over by a drug lord's thugs, and the villagers decide to fight back. It gets pretty grim at times, but the action sequences are truly awesome and innovative. You haven't lived until you've seen a one-legged man kicking ass!


1. "Pop! Goes My Heart" by Hugh Grant: Muchas smoochas to the kind person who sent this to me!

2. "Songbird" by Eva Cassidy: This song seriously makes me well up every single time I hear it.


This is absolutely, positively, unbelievably NOT SAFE FOR WORK. But if you're 18 or older, have a perverse sense of humor, and are in the privacy of your own home, have a look at LOLhentai.


Oscar Wilde: "Be yourself; everyone else is already taken."


Anyone who's known me for more than a week knows that I'm a rabid Silent Hill fangirl. My absolute favorite shirt has Alessa Gillespie on the front, and my ringtone is the opening theme from the first game. I'll never forget sitting in the basement and playing it at 3AM, wandering through Midwich Elementary, so scared I could barely bring myself to open each door.

Once someone asked me which series I like more, Silent Hill or Resident Evil, and I told her that I love them equally, but for different reasons. Resident Evil is filled with funhouse scares, but Silent Hill gets inside your head; it's the difference between Dawn of the Dead and Jacob's Ladder.

Silent Hill Origins, as you might guess from its title, is a prequel. You play Travis Grady, a trucker, who's driving along one night when someone runs in front of his rig. He slams on his brakes and gets out to investigate. Then he sees a little girl reflected in his rearview mirror, and when he turns around, she runs away. He decides to follow her, and things quickly go crazy apeshit, as they are wont to do in Silent Hill.

Okay, bad things first. The graphics aren't as good as you might hope, especially after SH4. But that can be forgiven, since it's a direct port from a handheld system, and it stopped bothering me after ten minutes. What's less forgivable are some cheap attacks (gee, thanks for having a monster grab and choke me half to death the second I walk out of a door, with no chance whatsoever to fight or dodge) and the scarcity of health items. Since the monsters are tougher and quicker than ever, this poses a real problem in the nastier areas. There are some truly shitty camera angles and a couple of really weird glitches. And the voice acting isn't the best; I particularly disliked Lisa Garland's voice, especially because she had the best voice actor, bar none, in the first game. I don't know why they didn't get the original VA back, but even if she was busy, surely they could have found someone better than they got.

Now for the good things about this game. The soundtrack is, as ever, awesome; Akira Yamaoka is a bonafide genius. The songs range from melancholy instrumentals to vocal tracks featuring the talented Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, and the creature and ambient noises made the hair stand up on the back of my neck. The monsters are appropriately repulsive, especially the one that looks like two flayed amputees having sex. One of the puzzles, in which you must match the proper medication to the correct doll, was so creepy and cool that it's now one of my favorite survival horror puzzles ever. Silent Hill games have the best map system of any series, bar none, and SHO is no exception. The storyline sheds some light on the town's mythology and has moments both pants pissingly terrifying and surprisingly poignant. And there's decent replay value, thanks to three endings (one good, one that's bad for the protagonist but good for the viewer in that it's so fucking freaky, and one humorous) and "accolades" (new costumes and weapons) that you can earn.

So, in conclusion, will it change the mind of someone who either hasn't been able to get into this series or doesn't like this type of game in the first place? Most definitely not. And it's certainly not the scariest SH game (in my opinion, that would be the first one), the best written (SH2), or the best period (again, SH2). But I enjoyed the hell out of this game, and if survival horror is your cup of tea, drink up, my friend.