Monday, June 30, 2008

media update: June

Man, I read a metric fuckton this month! This can be attributed to summer reruns and spending my lunch hours reading instead of walking because it was approximately two thousand degrees outside. Lots of excellent books this time around, too.

It's weird how many of my media updates seem to contain a theme. Occasionally this is on purpose---for example, I went through a phase where I read everything I could find on competitive eating---but usually it's not. This month's unintentional (I swear!) theme is aberrant sexuality. We've got bestiality, vagina dentata, and a woman trying to break the world gangbang record.

It's also strange how many of the titles this month have an animal's name in the title: wolf, pig, swan, moose. Extra credit: zoo!

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


1. The Book of Dahlia* by Elisa Albert: When I saw this at the library, the cover made me think it was a chick lit book. Nothing could be further than the truth...and thank god for that, because it's actually a blackly comic, heartbreaking novel about a 29-year-old slacker whose world of VH1 marathons, pot smoking, and toaster pastry binges is rocked when she's diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. And Dahlia is no saintly sufferer; she's PISSED. A blurb on the back from Publishers Weekly asks, "Should we mourn a wasted life?" I'm still not sure of the answer to this question, but I am sure of one thing: I absolutely fucking LOVED this book. It knocked my socks off, put them back on, and knocked them right back off again.

2. All We Ever Wanted Was Everything* by Janelle Brown: Immediately after her husband's company goes public and makes him a multimillionaire, his wife Janice is horrified when he leaves her for her tennis partner. Meanwhile, her daughters are having troubles of their own: Margaret has racked up a huge credit card debt after her feminist magazine folded, and Lizzie has just discovered that everyone thinks she's the school slut. A sharply observed book about three women who don't want to rely on each other, but soon come to realize that they won't survive otherwise.

3. Bright Shiny Morning* by James Frey: A sweeping novel about the beauty and ugliness of Los Angeles as experienced by some of its residents. At first the formatting and constant run-on sentences irritated me, but I soon got caught up in the story and they didn't bother me as much.

4. Chasing Harry Winston by Lauren Weisberger: Three friends, fast approaching 30, decide to drastically change their lives. Predictable as hell, but aside from an idiotic (and fortunately minor) subplot about a parrot with self-esteem issues, it's fluffy fun.

5. Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk: I should have known from the title, the cover, and Chuck Palahniuk's track record that this would be an unsettling read. It's about a porn star who's trying to set the world record for the biggest gangbang, and it's the unsexiest book I think I've ever read. If you pick this up hoping for spank material, you will be sorely disappointed. Depressing as hell; I needed a shower and a session at Cute Overload after finishing it.

6. The Garden of Last Days* by Andre Dubus III: When her usual babysitter is hospitalized, April takes her young daughter to the strip club where she works. But while April is entertaining a man with sinister plans, her daughter disappears. This novel is over 500 pages long, but it's so compelling that I finished it and, upon looking at the clock, was astounded at how long I'd been reading.

7. Pigtopia* by Kitty Fitzgerald: Abused by his mother and shunned by the people in his small town, a disfigured man finds solace in the pet pigs he keeps in his cellar. When a teenage girl discovers his secret, she's initially repulsed by him, but soon befriends him and the pigs. I was blown away by this original and engrossing story; it broke my heart.


1. Split* by Suzanne Finnamore: A brutally honest memoir about the author's painful divorce, with one of the best final chapters I've ever read.

2. A Wolf at the Table* by Augusten Burroughs: In his third memoir, the author describes life growing up with an unpredictable, deeply disturbed father. I still have doubts as to the veracity of some of the anecdotes, but this book is so melancholy and beautifully written that I almost don't care if it's completely true.

3. Moose* by Stephanie Klein: An alternately funny and poignant memoir about the author's stay at a fat camp when she was a teenager. I knew I was going to love this book when she referred to this time in her life as the "Thunder Years".

4. When You Are Engulfed in Flames* by David Sedaris: A collection of humorous and occasionally poignant essays. My favorites were "Solutions to Saturday's Puzzle", about an unpleasant encounter on a plane, and "The Smoking Section", in which the author goes to Japan in an effort to quit smoking.

5. While They Slept by Kathryn Harrison: In 1984, a young man murdered his parents and youngest sister, sparing his other sister in the process. The author spoke to both the surviving sister and the perpetrator in order to understand the crime. What I found irritating is that the author kept referring to the incestuous relationship she had as an adult with her father, since it wasn't really relevant to the story at hand. Perhaps she was trying to shill her "Daddy never loved me until I was grown up, and then he loved me too MUCH" memoir The Kiss?


1. Swan vol. 13 by Ariyoshi Kyoko
2. Cantarella* vols. 1-3 by You Higuri


1. Out of Sight*: When a bank robber escapes from jail, he kidnaps a federal marshal; sparks fly. This had some great dialogue, and George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez have terrific chemistry together.

2. Zoo: A disturbing and surprisingly nonexploitative documentary about "zoos", or people who practice bestiality, with an emphasis on the Washington man who died after having sex with a horse. I'm pretty liberal, To quote The Truth About Cats and Dogs, you can love your pets, just don't LOVE your pets.

Side note #1: They wound up gelding the horse that killed that guy. I guess I can understand it if the horse suddenly thought that all people are prime humpin' material, since he could seriously injure someone if he reared up and started grinding away, but it still seemed kind of unfair. Also, before the surgery, they showed a vet washing the horse's penis, and oh my freakin' CHRIST. Someone had that in their ASS? No wonder the guy died! I don't want to sound cold, but dude, what did you expect? "Gee, that horse's cock has to be at least two feet long! I sure would like it in my butthole. What could possibly go wrong?"

Side note #2: When I was about eight years old, I went to the county fair with my family, and we paid a dollar apiece to see the world's largest bull. You cannot imagine the sheer SIZE of this thing; it was like an Airstream trailer covered in hair. It was tethered in the middle of its pen, placidly chewing away at its cud, and suddenly there was a very loud thump. People starting laughing, and to my horror, I saw that it had gotten an erection. The sound we'd heard was its colossal wang hitting the side of the pen. Considering that was probably the first penis I'd ever seen, it's a miracle that I'm not a lesbian.

Side note #3: G would probably like me to mention that I watched this on my own.

3. Teeth*: A teenage girl discovers quite by accident that she has a little something extra down below. This gets a star for camp value, originality, and the excellent performance by Jess Weixler as Dawn, who promotes abstinence in her own special way.

Fair warning: I saw this with three men and one other woman. The women loved it; the men hated it. Regardless of gender, view at your own risk, because this definitely ain't a movie for everyone.

4. Wet Hot American Summer: A spoof of 80's summer camp movies. It's not particularly good, but it has a few mildly amusing scenes.

5. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade*: Can you believe I'd never seen this before? Lots of fun, and Sean Connery is great (yeah, big shocker) as Indiana's crusty father.

6. Shrek 3: Lacks a lot of the sparkle of the first two, but it's still visually stunning, and there are a few really funny scenes.

7. The Signal: A mysterious signal takes over radios, telephones, and TVs, turning people into enraged killers. It starts out incredibly tense, veers into black comedy in the middle, and returns to the tension at the end, which makes the movie awfully disjointed (and robs it of a star). Still, the stuff that works REALLY works, so I would give it a qualified recommendation. Gorehounds and postapocalyptic film fans will lap this bloody treat up.

8. Aliens*: This is one of G’s all-time favorite movies, and he was horrified that I’d never seen it, so he bribed me with a Beard Papa’s cream puff if I agreed to watch it. Well, he cashed in on our agreement on Saturday night, and for the first 30 minutes or so, I was thinking, “Um, this is BORING.” I even started to fall asleep, so he stopped the movie and played Grim Grimoire while I took a quick snooze. Fortunately, shortly after we restarted the DVD, it quickly went from bleh to balls-out hardcore action.

9. Diary of the Dead: I was afraid to see this because I’d heard it was a “shaky cam” flick, and after I had to run out of a matinee of Cloverfield to go horf my grilled cheese sandwich into the trash can, I figured this one might make me puke too. Turns out I didn’t vomit after all; I should have been afraid to see it because it sucked. The acting is terrible, and some of the scenes and dialogue are painfully clunky. There are a few really good gory bits and a beautifully eerie scene of zombies submerged in a swimming pool, but overall, this is skippable. I still have to give MAD props to George Romero, because without him, we wouldn’t have Resident Evil, Dead Rising, or Shaun of the Dead. I hope he gets his groove back soon.

10. Wanted*: A meek office worker is recruited by a secret society who wants to train him as an assassin. The plot is stupid as hell---they get their instructions from a LOOM, for chrissakes---but the action is nonstop and innovative. A fun popcorn flick, but Shoot ‘Em Up is better.


1. "The Story" by Brandi Carlile


I'm notorious for being so sappy that you could wring me out and use me as pancake topping, so it's no surprise that this article about Mr. Rogers made me cry. I can't imagine ANYONE reading this and not misting up, though. It made me miss him all over again.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

for the birds

I suppose I should start by saying this isn't going to be a particularly happy entry, so if you're feeling remotely cheerful, you better go elsewhere because this may spoil your mood. And if you're feeling low, you better go elsewhere because this may worsen your mood.

Basically, this entry should not be read by anyone.

Southern California is currently undergoing a major heat wave. When I got to work at 9:30AM yesterday, it was already in the high 80's. The parking garage was completely full, of course, but I managed to snag a semi-shady spot by a tree. I put up my sunshades, threw a towel over the steering wheel, and headed inside.

By lunchtime, it was 105 degrees.

When 5:55PM rolled around, I logged off my phone, shut my computer down, grabbed my shit, and practically sprinted out of the building. I was about fifty feet away from my car when I saw a big blob on the windshield.

"Oh, great, bird crap," I muttered.

Then I got closer and saw that it wasn't bird crap after all. In fact, bird crap would have been much preferable to what it actually turned out to be.

"Oh no," I moaned, covering my mouth as I looked down at the baby bird on my windshield, its eyes closed and its tiny beak open. It must have fallen out of its nest and landed on my windshield. It would have been a goner even if it had its feathers; with its bare pink skin, it probably cooked instantly. All I could do was hope that the end was quick. I got paper towels out of my trunk, gently picked the bird up, and placed it under the tree. Then I dumped half a bottle of Purell on my hands and drove home.

As I was walking to my mailbox, my foot kicked something that turned out to be a dead hummingbird. I got my mail and thought, "Okay, I could certainly do without seeing any more dead birds today."

When I opened the door to my apartment, it was like walking into an oven. I immediately turned on the air conditioner, because even though I hate paying big electric bills, I didn't much feel like having my face melt off either. I washed my hands and then went to check on my pet shrimp. Usually I keep the Ecosphere in the kitchen, where they can get plenty of indirect light, but I'd moved them to my bedroom because it's the coolest room in the apartment.

Not cool enough, apparently, because Bruiser and the Ebi Twins were curled up tightly on the bottom of the sphere. Hoping against hope, I tapped on the globe, and then I gently shook it.


I put the Ecosphere down, sat on my bed, and cried.

Okay, yes, I know. It wasn't like losing a "real" pet, and I eat their (much) bigger relatives whenever G and I go out for Japanese food, but still. I loved watching them zoom merrily around their tiny world, and whenever I caught them nibbling at a piece of algae held ever so daintily between their front legs, I laughed.

I'm going to miss those guys.

Friday, June 13, 2008

rash decision

I’m not much of a girly-girl. I love killin’ zombies, Jackass, and belching as loudly as I can. I have the diet of a 12-year-old boy.

The only remotely feminine thing about me---well, aside from my big ol’ jugs and my Hello Kitty tattoo---is that I’m a slave to perfume. Some women won’t leave the house without a full face of makeup; I refuse to step a single toe outside of my door without a spritz of perfume. I have at least 20 full-size bottles and countless samples, and I wear a different one every day. I don’t get many unsolicited comments on my perfume, but when I do, I’m thrilled. I got one of my favorite compliments of all time when I was standing in the new release aisle of the library. A young man with Down Syndrome came up to me, closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and said, “You smell like happy feels!”

Anyway, this morning I was in the bathroom at work, washing my hands, when a woman next to me said, “Wow, you smell great! What perfume are you wearing?”

“Bonjour l’Amour by Anna Sui.”

“That’s really nice. It’s spicy…I like it!”

“Uh, thank you,” I said. I was confused because the perfume in question is most definitely not spicy, but a compliment is a compliment.

“It’s kind of weird, though,” she continued. “For some reason, and this isn’t a bad thing at all, it reminds me of my grandfather.”

Oh no.


As soon as she said that, I immediately realized what she was smelling…

…Gold Bond medicated powder.

[TMI paragraph begins here]

See, about two weeks ago, I noticed that my thighs were really red and splotchy. At first, I thought I was having an allergic reaction to laundry detergent or my shower gel, but I hadn’t changed either one recently. Besides, if it was one of those, it would be all over my body, not just my thighs, right?

The rash doesn’t actually hurt, but it feels really warm and tingly. It’s worst just when I’ve gotten out of the shower; I swear it looks like Simon Legree took a whack at my legs. I did some Googling, which was basically an express ticket to Hypochondria Land. I think it might be prickly heat, but since I’m not sure and it’s not getting any better, I made an appointment with a dermatologist. I hate going to the doctor, but I hate having pepperoni thighs even more.

In the meantime, I’ll be rocking my Gold Bond. When I get home from work, I’m going to slap on some Gold Bond, change into my woobs, grab a Smirnoff Ice, and crash on the couch to watch the Denise Richards show. Envy my exotic single girl existence!

…okay, I hear you booing. Yes, I watch the stupid ass Denise Richards show. She comes across as a superficial bitch, but she lives near me (well, obviously not in the same neighborhood; I doubt she has three head shops and a Mexican grocery store down the street like I do), and I kind of get a kick out of seeing places I recognize.

By the way, I’m neither Team Denise (because of the aforementioned superficial bitchiness) nor Team Charlie (because of the e-mails he allegedly sent telling her that he hopes she and her dad get cancer and die like her mom); like someone on Defamer said, I’m Team Please Go Away, Both of You.

And yes, the last thing I need to be doing when I feel about as sexy as a dried-out dog turd is watching a former Bond Girl and Playboy centerfold frolicking about in skimpy outfits.

On a more cheerful note, I got to attend my fifth John Connolly book signing the other day, and he was just as charming and funny as ever. K came along, and she was kind enough to snap this picture of us together. I’m not even going to bother blurring my face this time, because whatever. I’m shiny but happy!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

I was a teenage misfit

Today is the Cube Farm’s anniversary, so they had a big shindig which involved lots and lots of surprisingly good food. I gorged on teriyaki steak and jasmine rice. And not only did they have dessert at lunch, but they served cake about two hours later.

And then a company who’s trying to get back in our good graces after seriously fucking up a major project sent a huge basket of cookies and brownies, which is located literally fifteen feet away from my desk.

Needless to say, I’m about two brain waves away from slipping into a food coma. I can barely even walk; I’m just sort of shuffling like a zombie with better skin. I’m kicking myself for wearing jeans today and not one of my skirts with an elastic waistband.

Anyway, my brain’s pilot light has died out, and even though my job could be done by a cheerleader with a head injury, I lack both the energy and desire to work anymore. I’m so grateful for this meme I just found called the Ninth Grade Survey. I took out a few questions, so if you plan on doing this survey yourself, you might want to look for the complete survey elsewhere.

Who was your best friend?

I, uh…well, I didn’t really have one. When we first moved to Southern California, I befriended the girl next door. R was two years older than me and shared my love of cats, giggling over nothing, Lisa Frank folders, and later on, Duran Duran. But by the time I reached high school, she had started to date and get into some really heavy drugs, so we didn’t really hang out anymore.

Who did you “go out” with?

Nobody. Prom was my first real date.

Did you have a crush on anyone?

Oh yeah. I continued carrying a torch for Spock, who was the one bright spot in the dank cesspool of bullying and teenage angst that was junior high. I also had a crush on a really goofy guy named S. He worked at Thrifty’s (now called CVS), so I used to go there as often as possible. I’d buy pistachio almond ice cream cones and talk to him while he priced items and made me laugh. Then there was B, who had dreamy blue eyes and really nice legs. He was a Christian, and one day he invited me to church, so of course I went. This kicked off a (thankfully) brief born-again phase. I put an ad in our school paper asking him to Sadie Hawkins, and he said no. I returned to theological fence-sitting.

What sports did you play?

None; I was a French Club kind of gal.

Did you buy your lunch?

No, I brought it from home. It was usually a sandwich or cup of yogurt and a can of Coke. Since I had no friends, and eating by myself would invite ridicule, I ate while locked in a bathroom stall. I’d throw the trash away in the sanitary napkin disposal container, and then I’d go in the library and read for the rest of my lunch hour.

Yes, I know this is sad as hell.

Did you skip?

No, but I had the occasional “migraine” or “stomachache”.

Were you in any fist fights?

No. I saw quite a few, though, including one that spilled out into the street, nearly causing a major traffic accident.

What was your favorite class?

English. I also enjoyed French, except the teacher was this hideous woman with garish dyed red hair and a mean streak.

If you could go back, would you?

Oh, sure! I’d love to have lunch in a bathroom stall again and have people pin me down and rub dead leaves in my hair. I certainly enjoyed that.

Then again, if I could go back and talk to myself without completely fucking up the time/space continuum, I would say, “Okay, self, listen up. You’re going to go through some shit in your life that makes this look like orgasms and ice cream. But guess what? Eventually you’re going to be really, really happy. You’re going to travel to some amazing places, make awesome friends, and have a boyfriend who totally gets you. So have faith, and while you’re at it, be nicer to Mom.”

Was there a smoking lounge?

Not that I can remember.

Did you think you were cool?

Um, no.

Describe your outfits in ninth grade.

There are only two I remember very well. One was a red plaid flannel shirt that I wore with jeans and red suede pixie boots that made me look like a lesbian lumberjack. (Oddly enough, this was the one thing that I could understand being mocked for, and nobody ever said a word about it.) The other was a blue Smiths “Hatful of Hollow” shirt that I wore until it got so thin you could practically see through it.

Did you have a cell phone?

Oh, honey child, no. These things did not exist in the dark ages of the 80’s.

Who was your favorite teacher?

I really liked my Discussion/Debate teacher. He fell into disgrace several years later; he had an affair with a student who got pregnant and had an abortion at his urging. Consumed by guilt, she went to the police. Perversely, I was rather pissed that he never hit on me.

What were your best accomplishments?


What did you spend the most time doing on weekends?


Did you make any lifelong friendships?

No. I’m still friends with Spock, but we met in 7th (8th?) grade, so that doesn’t count.

Get invited to any proms?

No, as that would have involved interest from the opposite sex. For some reason, I thought S (see question #3) was going to ask me to prom, but he didn’t.

How many years ago was ninth grade for you?

23. Now get off my lawn!