Friday, October 31, 2008

media update: October

October was VERY heavy on books (many of these were either really short or "potato chip" books) but light on movies, thanks to the Washington trip, GetBackers marathons, and Silent Hill Homecoming, which is seriously kicking my ASS. Christ, is it hard! I've used every swear word I know while playing it, and had to make up some new ones. (I took to calling one particular boss "Shit-Twat".) At any rate, watch for my review in next month's media update...assuming I've actually managed to beat it by then.

There are so many zombies in this media update that you’d think I was being sponsored by Capcom. We've also got two memoirs about eating in China, two serial killers, and a book about an owl that gave me a serious case of the weepies.

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


1. Sweetheart* by Chelsea Cain: Gretchen Lowell is a beautiful and charismatic serial killer; Archie Sheridan is the cop she tortured to the brink of death before turning herself in. In this followup to Heartsick, Archie is trying to find a new killer, but when Gretchen escapes from prison, he is determined to stop her for good. A real nailbiter with some truly tense and unsettling scenes.

Side note: You don't have to have read Heartsick to enjoy this book, but I'd recommend it, since it helps to know the characters beforehand. Besides, Heartsick was even better, and one of my favorite novels of 2007.

2. Tomato Girl by Jayne Pupek: A young girl tries to cope with her mentally ill mother and her father's infidelity with the "tomato girl" of the title. Waaaay too melodramatic.

3. Shimura Trouble by Sujata Massey: In this latest installment of the Rei Shimura mysteries, Rei and her family visit long-lost relatives in Hawaii and get involved in arson and a land dispute. I've always really liked this series, but this one was very disappointing. The writing was strangely choppy, I missed the usual Japanese setting, and I found it hard to give a crap about what would happen next. Sigh.

4. The Living Dead*: An awesome collection of zombie short stories. As with any anthology, there are a few clunkers (lots of hamfisted political/ecological allegories), but there are plenty of worthwhile gems, too. In fact, the very first story ("This Year's Class Picture" by Dan Simmons) turned out to be one of the best short stories I've ever read; it actually made me tear up. There are also excellent contributions from Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, and Poppy Z. Brite, as well as a really horrifying story called "Blossom" (about a sick fuck, and I mean that in two ways) and a clever and disturbing parody of Less Than Zero. If you have even a passing interest in our undead friends, you owe it to yourself to pick this up.

5. Bones by Jonathan Kellerman: The bodies of several dead prostitutes, all missing hands, turn up in a nature preserve. When Dr. Alex Delaware and his LAPD friend Milo Sturgis start looking into the murders, they discover that the case is far more complicated than they originally thought. A decently diverting way to kill a few hours.

6. Monster Island by David Wellington: In this novel about the zombie apocalypse, a UN weapons inspector and a heavily armed group of schoolgirls travel to New York City in search of AIDS medicine for a Somalian warlord. Needless to say, complications ensue. I didn't give this a star due to some clunky writing and a really lame subplot, but it's fun and has some good lines, like when the protagonist refers to zombies as "meat-seeking missiles". I'll be checking out the rest of the trilogy too.


1. Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper by Fuchsia Dunlop: An account of the author's culinary adventures in China, some of which made me drool...and some of which made me retch. (Live newborn mice? Um, no thanks, I'll be at the McDonald's down the street.)

2. After the Fire by Robin Gaby Fisher: In 2000, a fire broke out in the freshman dorm of Seton Hall University. Three students were killed, and dozens of others were injured. This book follows the lengthy and excruciating recovery process of two friends, as well as the search for the arsonists.

3. Wild Boy: My Life in Duran Duran by Andy Taylor: I was a HUGE Durannie back in the day; once I even had to stay after class and explain to my concerned teacher why I had suddenly started signing my last name as "Taylor". (She thought my parents had gotten divorced or something; when she found out it was in homage to John Taylor, she sternly told me I had to start using my real last name again. I can't believe I just admitted this.) I bought all the magazines and books and plastered my walls with gigantic pinups, as shown here:

Eventually I hopped the fence and wandered over to Camp Mopey (The Smiths, Morrissey, Marc Almond), but I still dusted off my Duran Duran albums (YES, albums, I'm old, shut up) once in a while. And I still have a soft spot for them, too; recently, I found a job listing for a graphic designer at Juicy, and I begged G to apply because one of the cofounders is married to John Taylor, and I was hoping to run into him at the company Christmas party. (Not that I would know what to do if I actually met the guy; probably blurt out something stupid---"I had my first orgasm while thinking about you!"---and then run away in tears.)

Sorry, that was supposed to be a quick drive down Memory Lane, not a road trip. Anyway, when I saw this book at the library, I knew I had to get it. It's not fabulous or anything, but it's an interesting look at the glitz, glamour, drugs, and infighting during Duran Duran's glory days. It also made me fritter away two hours watching Duran Duran videos on YouTube. Ah, memories.

4. An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination* by Elizabeth McCracken: The author was living in France when her son was stillborn; slightly over a year later, she had another son who lived. This is a heartbreaking memoir, although there are moments of grim humor, and the writing is beautiful. For example, here she describes the way her son's hands move as he sleeps: "They underscore closing arguments in dream-baby court; they hail dream-baby taxis." A powerful exploration of grief, love, and hope; so far, this is my favorite nonfiction book of 2008.

5. Serve the People by Jen Lin-Liu: Another memoir about eating in China, but in this one, the author attended a culinary school. Better than #1, in no small part due to fewer icky anecdotes (though there are still a couple, such as when she visits a restaurant specializing in various animal genitalia).

6. The Night of the Gun* by David Carr: A harrowing, occasionally funny memoir about the author's battle with drug addiction. There are some anecdotes in here (like the time he left his twin daughters in the car while he visited a crackhouse, and during a Minnesota winter, no less) which might cause the cynical reader's bullshit radar to ping. In a smart move, considering the recent revelations about James Frey, JT LeRoy, and that chick who claimed she grew up in foster homes with gangbangers when she actually lived in the suburbs with her family and went to private school, Carr interviewed dozens of people who knew him during this time period to get their side of the story. He also includes corroborating evidence in the form of police reports, photographs, and even a scan of his welfare ID card. Disturbing stuff to be sure, but ultimately redemptive.

7. Wesley the Owl* by Stacey O'Brien: Oh my god, this book about a barn owl and his "love affair" with the author made me BAWL. A blurb on the back calls it "Marley & Me with wings", and that's pretty accurate. Have a box of tissues handy; you'll need 'em.

8. Thin Is the New Happy by Valerie Frankel: In this memoir, the author chronicles her lifelong struggles with her weight and body image. Been done before, and better; check out Moose by Stephanie Klein instead.

9. Against Medical Advice by James Patterson and Hal Friedman: The account of Friedman's son's battle with Tourette's and OCD. It was fairly interesting, but James Patterson's involvement was so glaringly obvious (chapters of only two or three pages, lots of italics) that it took me out of the story. I think this book would have been better if he hadn't been involved; no doubt the selling power of his name was behind the decision.

10. Jubilee City* by Joe Andoe: An interesting memoir by an artist, written in an almost stream-of-consciousness style. I especially liked the chapter about his daughter's birth and how lost he felt when trying to relate to her.


1. Kitchen Princess vols. 3-7 by Natsumi Ando and Miyuki Kobayashi: Food porn in manga form.

2. The Walking Dead* vols. 1-3 by Robert Kirkman: After the zombie apocalypse, a ragtag group of survivors tries to keep from falling apart...and doesn't always succeed. This was way better than I expected, and I can't wait to read more. My only quibble is that sometimes it's hard to tell the characters apart.

3. After School Nightmare vol. 9 by Setona Mizushiro

4. Best American Comics 2008


1. Run Fatboy Run: Five years after ditching his pregnant fiancee at the altar, a slacker tries to win her back by competing in a marathon against her new boyfriend. Predictable, but it's cute and there are a few really funny lines.


In this rhythm game/dating sim hybrid, you play as a teenage girl who's magically transported to another land. Turns out that the princess of that land has two left feet, and she doesn't want to go to the ball, so she begs you (her exact double) to attend in her place. You agree, and once you get there, you have a month to get ready for the ball and find the prince of your dreams. You learn new dances by following a pattern on the screen with your stylus, which may sound easy, but the dances get faster and harder as you go along.

This is quite possibly the girliest game I've ever played; by the time I finished, I'm surprised I wasn't farting glitter. You get new costumes and accessories, complete with transformation sequences straight out of a magical girl anime. You are wooed by a succession of pretty boys, and since you have to enter your name at the beginning of the game, they call you "Princess [real name]", which filled me with inexplicable glee. Your dance teacher is a giant rabbit!

Yes, it's corny and cheesy, but even a jaded survival horror fan like me couldn't help but be charmed by it. If you're a sappy romantic at heart, you might be too.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

playing solitaire till dawn with a deck of 51

The good:

  • I mailed in my official voting ballot. I’ll be honest with you; I haven’t voted every year, but I definitely wanted to do so this year, and not just because of the presidential election. In California, we have three very important propositions up for consideration: one about parental notification and waiting periods for abortions, one to overturn gay marriage, and one to require better living conditions for farm animals. If you can’t guess how I voted on these issues, hi! Welcome to my blog!

  • After much waffling, I FINALLY bought a copy of Silent Hill Homecoming. You may be shocked to learn that I didn’t buy it the second it was released, but early reviews and the fact that Konami handed the reins to an American developer made me very leery. I’m only about six hours into it, but so far, it doesn’t suck! There are flaws to be sure: the combat, the camera, the surprisingly wonky character models. But the backgrounds are gorgeous (almost like a photograph at times), the music and sound effects are fantastic, the story is compelling, and the creepy factor is off the charts. I’m eager to see where it goes next.

  • I bought some perfume from Nordstrom’s and got the best GWP (gift with purchase) ever: a faux alligator train case filled with samples. Good stuff, too, like Mario Badescu and Bliss, and generous sizes to boot.

  • I’ve saved the best for last: I'm spending Halloween in West fuckin' Hollywood! For those of you who aren't familiar with that area, it might as well have been named Gayonia. Aside from the dancers' dressing room at a Madonna concert, it is quite possibly the gayest place in the world. Back in my college days, I used to go dancing at Studio One (now sadly defunct), where I developed a massive, intensely doomed crush on a go-go boy named Jimmy. I actually have a picture of me with Jimmy, although I will never post it here because it's so incredibly unflattering. The Freshman 15 is for pikers; I gained the Freshman 50. (To give you some idea, I showed K this picture once, without explanation, and she didn't even recognize me!)

    As you can imagine, West Hollywood on Halloween is something to behold. I've never been, but I'm really looking forward to it; I hear the costumes are amazing. R and her friend are flying in from DC, and G, C, M, and I will meet up with them in WeHo. We'll take in the sights, drink copious amounts of alcohol (we booked a hotel), and get crazy. I can't wait!

    The bad:

  • The people downstairs are driving me fucking nuts. Why, pray tell, can I feel my floor shake when they’re walking around their apartment? Are they pulling a Lionel Richie and dancing on the ceiling? And they have a COUCH on their patio, where the man of the household likes to sit and smoke cigarette after cigarette, sending tendrils of toxicity into my apartment. You stay klassy, downstairs neighbor man!

  • One of my favorite restaurants is just down the street from where I work, and when I was taking my afternoon walk yesterday, I noticed a big “FOR LEASE” sign plastered on the front of the building. No! Unacceptable! They have the best steak I’ve ever eaten! They have a rice dish that’s so amazing I want to run into the kitchen, wrest the pot away from the chef, and scoop ladle after ladle into my quivering maw! Goddamn you, recession!

  • One of my coworkers has a plastic pumpkin full of candy on her desk with a sign taped to it that says “Have some Halloween candy…if you dare!” Well, damn right I dare, because she’s got Tootsie Rolls in there, and I love me some Tootsie Rolls.

    So yesterday, after she’d left for lunch, I wandered over to her desk. I took two regular Tootsie Rolls and two of the flavored kind (one lemon, one lime). As I prepared to walk away with my sweet, sweet bounty, a woman I shall call Bitchy McBitchass, who doesn’t even WORK in my department, snipped, “I don’t think you should take candy from her desk.”

    Oh, no, bitch. Don’t you even THINK of cockblocking my sugar rush!

    I picked up the pumpkin and pointed to the sign. “She put these out for everyone,” I said pointedly.

    “Yeah, but you took four. Do you really need four?”

    “Fuck you, whore!” I screamed. “You got a face like a breadbowl full of pepperoni and you’re gonna tell ME how to eat?”

    …okay, no, I didn’t. Instead I said, through clenched teeth, “They’re small,” and then I returned to my desk and ate them, fantasizing about dumping a can of tuna juice on her chair.

    The ugly:

    Those goddamn beetles have returned to my apartment, and they’re gnawing holes in my walls. I talked to my landlady, and she has the exterminator coming out tomorrow to look at the damage. I’ll be spending tonight putting Post-It flags above the holes (so he can find them easily; they’re not that big), hiding anything I don’t want him to see, and fuming silently.

    I’m really not happy about their triumphant return to my apartment. Yes, they’re harmless, but I don’t want them chewing HOLES in my goddamn walls. And, not to sound all Julianne Moore in Safe or anything, but I’m not too thrilled about strangers tromping through my apartment and spraying chemicals all over the place.

    I’ll grudgingly give those little shits credit for one thing: in a strange way, they were the catalyst for a major turning point in my life. But now that I’ve learned that lesson, can they fucking go AWAY?

  • Monday, October 20, 2008

    DC in words, part 2

    On Saturday, we showered, got dressed, had breakfast, and headed outside. We hadn’t planned to go to the National Aquarium, but since we saw it on our way to the Smithsonian, we decided to go in. It was the only attraction that cost us money, so of course it was the one we liked the least. It was pretty dinky, although there were a few cool things, including an enormous octopus.

    “Hey, G,” I whispered, pointing at the tentacles waving sinuously through the water. “I saw a hentai like that once.”

    “You are both disturbed and disturbing,” G said, shaking his head.

    Next we went to the Smithsonian Natural History Museum and spent almost two hours in the gems and minerals exhibit. The Hope Diamond had a huge crowd of people around it, but I managed to jump up and down and catch a quick glimpse. There were some really amazing things in there, including some bizarre rock formations and a gorgeous diamond and turquoise tiara, originally owned by Marie Antoinette, that had me pressing my face against the glass and drooling covetously. We also looked at the bones (uh huh huh) before taking our leave.

    We walked from there to Chinatown (which, according to R, locals call “Chain-A Town” because most of the traditional shops and restaurants have been driven out by places like Urban Outfitters and Hooters), and by the time we got there, we were insanely hungry. Unfortunately, there was a hockey game at the Verizon Center that night, and every restaurant was packed assholes to elbows with boisterous Washington Capitals fans in red jerseys. The shortest wait we were quoted was an hour. We stopped to watch a chef making noodles, and as he twirled the dough and stared at my chest (though, to be fair, he might not have been admiring my breasts---gloriously ample as they are---but trying to decipher my weird Japanese t-shirt), I turned to G and said plaintively, “I’m so hungry.”

    “I know, me too. Maybe we better leave Chinatown and find something further away.”


    “No cake!” he said firmly. “Jesus, that dessert last night wasn’t enough? We’ll find some real food.”

    So we started walking again, and outside of a tiny, fortuitously named place called Eat First, a stooped Chinese woman looked at us and said the magic words: “Come in, no waiting.”

    When we sat down, I looked at the menu and said, “Hmmm. Do I want the baked frog stuffed with pig intestines, or do I want the cold shredded jellyfish salad?”

    “Oh dear god,” G said, turning green around the gills.

    “Yeah, um, lemon chicken for me.”

    And oh my god. This tiny, unassuming place had the BEST FUCKING CHINESE FOOD I’ve ever had. Despite the lemon sauce generously ladled all over the chicken, the skin managed to stay crisp and hot. And that sauce! It was the perfect mix of sweet and tart, and complemented the chicken perfectly. It was a huge plate, and aside from a couple of pieces I generously gave to G, I managed to finish it all (and a bowl of rice, and a Coke, and two cups of green tea, and a fortune cookie).

    On Sunday morning, we got Madre into her wheelchair (she had hurt her hip the day before) and headed to the Smithsonian. We walked around several art galleries, and then we went back to the Tagliapietra exhibit because G thought his parents would love it, which they did.

    Our next stop was the National Zoo. It was on a hill, so G worked up quite a sweat pushing the wheelchair around. It was pretty late in the day by then, so most of the animals were hiding (including the lemurs, which gave G serious sadface since those are his favorite), but at least we got to see the pandas. Afterwards, we got dinner and then went back to the hotel for the night.

    And on Monday, my portion of the trip drew to a close. Padre and G packed up the car, and we headed off to the airport. We stopped at a botanical garden on the way, and they had such a gorgeous selection of orchids that I was tempted to spirit one away in my purse. Then they dropped me off at the airport, where I hugged everyone, gave G a big kiss, and went inside.

    My flight was pretty uneventful. I had a window seat, which I ordinarily like, but I had to ask my seatmates to get up when I needed the bathroom, which always makes me feel bad. The food selection was expensive and unappealing, so I ate the blueberry almond granola bar and bag of white cheddar Cheez-Its I’d brought. The movie was Son of Rambow, which I wouldn’t have minded seeing, but in order to see the screen I had to tilt my head at an uncomfortable angle, so I said eff it and alternated between sleep and fiddling around on my DS. When we got closer to LA, we hit some nasty turbulence due to the Santa Ana winds, so I whiteknuckled the armrest and waited for it to pass.

    Once at LAX, I went to the bathroom, bought a bottle of water, and then rushed out to the curb to wait for the Van Nuys flyaway bus.

    And wait.

    And wait.

    Oooh, there it is! No, wait, that’s the one for Union Station.

    Ooooh, finally! Nope, it’s the Westwood bus.

    People were beginning to shift their weight from foot to foot and stamp the ground like uneasy cows. I had to pee again, but I was afraid to go inside lest I miss the bus. Finally, a woman called the station on her cell phone, and we found out that the buses were delayed because parts of the freeway had been closed down due to the wildfires. When the correct bus finally arrived, the driver told us that she had four seats available, and she randomly stabbed her finger at four people. (There was no actual line, just a mob.) “You, you, you, and you!” she barked.

    I was the final “you”, and I would have rejoiced except that a mini-riot broke out. People started screaming and shouting, and the driver (a sassy black woman, as the Van Nuys bus drivers tend to be) said, “Hey! Hold up! There’s another bus about five minutes behind me, so you all better calm the hell down because I am NOT in the damn mood.”

    So, about two hours after I arrived at LAX, with an empty stomach and a bladder full of whiz, I was on my way back home. The traffic on the 405 was surprisingly light, to my relief and surprise. At one point, I looked to my left and saw the fires in the hills, which was eerie and a good wakeup call. I mean, yeah, I was starving and I had to pee and I was going to get home late, but at least I still had a home.

    Well, I hoped I still had a home.

    When we got to the station, I walked right past my car because I didn’t even recognize it; thanks to all the ash on top of it, it looked more gray than blue. I threw my bags in the trunk and drove home, a trip that should have taken 30 minutes at most but took over an hour due to traffic. Finally, I pulled into my parking spot, went inside, showered, got into bed at 11PM, and set my alarm for 6:30AM.


    So yeah, that part sucked, but at least the rest of the trip was awesome. I got to see G2, R, Madre, and Padre, I got to spend lots of time with my sweetie, I saw lots of cool stuff, and I ate lots and lots of delicious food. The weather was perfect and practically every attraction was free. Doesn’t get much better than that.

    Thursday, October 16, 2008

    DC in words, part 1

    Every five years, G has the opportunity to take a trip to one of his company’s other offices. He gets two plane tickets, a thousand dollars spending cash, AND an extra week of paid vacation. All he has to do is take a brief tour of the company’s building, and once that’s over, the rest of the time is his to spend as he pleases. Sounds like a win-win situation, doesn’t it?


    See, as I’ve mentioned before, G HATES to travel. It’s something I had to get used to, but since we visit his family once or twice a year and I don’t mind traveling by myself when I get the urge for someplace exotic, it hasn’t really been an issue. But when I discovered that one of the sister offices was in London, I knew I had to try to change his mind. I wheedled. I nagged. I begged. I bribed. I tried harnessing the power of The Secret. I used arcane Peloponnesian sexual techniques.

    No luck.

    But then G’s company bought out a business in Washington DC, and suddenly he was interested, because our friends G2 and R live there. It wasn’t London, but it was something.

    We flew to DC last Friday, and after an expensive cab ride, we arrived at the Washington Plaza. We checked in and lugged our stuff up to the room. It was kind of a weird room; despite the fact that it was huge, the bathroom and TV were dinky. But it had a gorgeous view, the bed was unbelievably comfortable, and the hotel was located within walking distance of just about everywhere we wanted to visit.

    After putting our clothes away and freshening up, we went down to the lobby to meet up with G2. G’s known him since high school, and although I’ve known him a mere fraction of that time, I really like him. He’s the only non-medical doctor I know, and he’s brilliant; he works for the World Bank trying to solve hunger and poverty and other noble things like that.

    Anyway, after hugs and hearty backslaps, we walked to a combination bookstore/restaurant called Afterwords for dinner. The weather was absolutely perfect, and I was glad I didn’t bother bringing a heavy jacket. We ate and talked, and then we browsed in the bookstore before heading back to G2’s apartment.

    Now, I didn’t know this about DC, but it’s about as easy to get a cab there as it is in Vegas or NYC. Our driver was a chatty black gay guy, and when a bicyclist suddenly swerved out in front of us, he leaned out the window and said, “You can’t be falling asleep while you’re riding a bike!” Then he said to us, “Did you hear what I said to him? I said ‘You can’t be falling asleep while you’re riding a bike!’ Mmmm-hmmm. People don’t pay attention and they get hurt. Mmmmm-hmmmm. Can’t fall asleep on no bike.”

    To my delight, G2 had a Wii, which I’d never played before. He showed us Wii Fit and Rayman Raving Rabbids, and after we’d played for a couple of hours, we were starting to droop on the vine. He walked us outside and hailed a cab, and sadly that was the last we saw of him during our trip because he was leaving for Asia the next day.

    On Friday morning, we slept in late, and when I sat up, I winced and said, “Ow!”

    “What’s wrong?”

    “My arm frickin’ hurts.”

    G nodded knowingly. “Wii elbow.”


    “Yep, it happened to J [his brother-in-law] the first time he played. It’ll go away on its own.”

    We brushed our teeth and then hopped in the shower. Ahhh…bliss. It was so relaxing, in fact, that I ripped a huge fart.

    “Hey!” G chided. “My people have a complex about being gassed in showers, you know.”

    I laughed so hard I had to grab onto the soap dish for support.

    After breakfast in the hotel restaurant, we took a cab to the sister office. I wasn’t too thrilled about spending part of a beautiful fall afternoon in an office building, but the people were nice and it didn’t take long. Besides, 45 minutes of my time was well worth a free vacation! Afterwards, we walked to the White House, which seemed so small in person that G took a twenty out of his pocket and checked the picture on back. Apparently they usually show the back on TV and in movies instead, since it looks bigger and fancier. I noticed snipers on the roof, which awakened a deep longing in me to play Resident Evil 4.

    Next, we went to a couple of the museums affiliated with the Smithsonian. Unfortunately, the one we were most interested in was closed for renovations, but we still saw some cool stuff. One highlight was the Lino Tagliapietra exhibit at the Renwick Gallery. This guy does the most amazing stuff with glass, and G and I were seriously blown away. You can see some of his work here, although---at the risk of sounding like a total art nerd---you really need to see his stuff in person to fully grasp its beauty.

    Next, we met up with R, who has a gloriously smutty sense of humor, and her friend. We went to Co Co Sala, a seriously trendy place known for its decadent desserts and its teeny-tiny portions. This is brilliant marketing on their part, because you need to order at least three entrees to have a full-sized meal. I wanted to save room for dessert, of course, so I only got two entrees, the bacon mac and cheese and the “childhood cheese plate”, which was an eensy grilled cheese sandwich and a tiny bowl of tomato soup. The mac and cheese and the sandwich were both good, but oh my god! The tomato soup was fucking FABULOUS.

    (And if you’re stunned that I liked a bowl of tomato soup more than bacon mac and cheese and a grilled cheese sandwich, imagine how I felt.)

    I primed my sweet tooth with a malted milk martini, and then I ordered the Xocolatyl dessert course. It began with hot, whisper-thin churros dusted in cinnamon and sugar and accompanied by dulce de leche dip. I was nice enough to let G have one, but I regretted my largesse when I discovered how delicious they were.

    Next came a shot glass of Kahlua, a chipotle chocolate square, a bowl of espresso sorbet, and the fiery chocolate soufflé. The piece of chocolate and the sorbet were just okay, but the soufflé made me reconsider my agnosticism. It had one hell of a kick to it, and I was grateful for the soothing glass of Kahlua. Finally, I had a glass of chocolate-infused horchata and a Mexican wedding cookie, and R gave me her malted shooter, which was so good I wanted to break the glass and lick the pieces.

    With bellies full and wallets empty, we took a bus to R’s friend’s apartment and sat on the roof, talking and enjoying the gorgeous view. When it got too chilly, we went inside and played Scrabble. R plays competitively, so G and I had a tough fight ahead of us, but we didn’t lose by an embarrassing margin. It was pretty late by the time we finished, so they walked us out to the curb and we took a cab back to the hotel.

    (to be continued)

    hope you have some Kleenex handy...

    …because this is some hot sexy food porn right here.

    R just sent me her pictures from our Co Co Sala dinner, and since they came out much better than mine did, I’m posting them here (with her permission) for your delectation.

    God, just looking at these is giving me a moistie. Anyone got a cigarette?

    R’s dinner. I may not be remembering this correctly, but I believe that’s the blue cheese burger and the crispy Louisiana crabcake.


    A better view of my dessert. From left: Kahlua, a chipotle chocolate square, espresso sorbet, and the fiery chocolate soufflé.


    Churros and dulce de leche dip.


    Chocolate-infused horchata (with a Pocky stirrer!) and a Mexican wedding cookie.


    The first course of Childhood Favorites: a miniature Boston cream donut (waaaaant) and cappuccino panna cotta. (We weren’t sure what cappuccino had to do with kids, but whatever.)


    Whole lot of fuckin’ yum in this picture. From left: the malted shooter (which R gave me, and which was fabulous), a cupcake, something I cannot identify (I’m looking at the menu for reference while I type this, and it’s not listed; I think it was something peanut buttery), and a Bananas Foster split.


    And finally, we have a miniature mint chocolate chip cone (served in a glass full of chocolate chips to keep it standing upright), a strawberry cheesecake and Pop Rocks lolly, and another cupcake. R took one bite of the cone and said, “Okay, there’s some weird fuckin’ herb or something in here. What the hell is that?” So she passed it around, and all of us took a bite, and we agreed that it indeed had some weird fuckin’ herb in it, but we couldn’t identify it. It kind of tasted like Herbal Essences shampoo (the original green stuff with the hippie chick on the label) smells. So that wasn’t a huge hit, but everything else was.

    Anyway, more DC fun to come; I've been pretty busy at work (I KNOW, the nerve!), but I'm working on my recaps and will post them as soon as they're done.

    Tuesday, October 14, 2008

    DC in pictures

    An actual wordy entry about my trip to Washington DC will follow eventually, but I figured I’d start with the pictures. Some of them have comments if’n you mouse over them.

    Sorry about the weird size discrepancies in the pictures; I'll tinker with this entry later.

    The view from our hotel room.

    Friendship Gate in Chinatown

    Just one of my dessert courses at Coco Sala.  From left:  Kahlua, a chipotle chocolate square, espresso sorbet, and my favorite, the fiery chocolate soufflé.

    Man, fish are hard to photograph.

    Roy Lichtenstein sculpture

    Smithsonian Castle



    Awww…baby panda tie-tie, go ni-ni

    The White House looked MUCH smaller and less impressive in person than it does on TV.  Hmmm…how to improve it?

    This works!

    Thursday, October 02, 2008

    nothing gold can stay

    I got really lucky when I moved into my apartment last year: second floor and no apartments on either side of me. And the little old woman who lived below me was so quiet I wasn’t even sure anyone lived there until I locked myself out and had to knock on her door to use her phone. She moved out about two weeks later, and then it was just me in that part of the building.

    Trust me, this paradise was hard earned. In our first apartment, K and I had some really choice neighbors. There was a guy who played “The Entertainer” on his piano over and over again. There was a guy who liked to piss off his balcony, and trust me, nothing spoils your dinner like looking up from your plate and seeing a yellow stream splashing onto your patio. And you know how, when they discover some new Dahmer, they interview the neighbors and they all say “He was so quiet I never suspected a thing”?

    Yeah, I would have suspected a thing. And by “thing”, I mean a severed head in the freezer.

    We had more luck in our next apartment, although there were still some snags. Two mentally challenged men lived next door, and one of them was a sports nut who liked to yell “Yeah! Fuck yeah! Fuck yeah!” after every single play.

    Needless to say, I took advantage of my new solitude. I listened to my music loud while getting ready in the morning. I vacuumed at 2AM. I sang lustily in the shower. I jumped rope.

    All good things must come to an end, though, and when I got home from work last night, there was a deck chair and a potted plant on the patio below me. I was annoyed, but not surprised. That apartment had been vacant for over a year, and I figured as long as they weren’t unbelievably loud, I could deal. I could learn to vacuum at normal hours like normal people.

    But then…I heard it.


    “Papi! Papi! Paaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaapi! Papi! Papi! Paaaaaaaaaaaaaaaapi!”

    No, they weren’t filming Latina MILF Sluts downstairs.

    It was worse.

    It was a KID.

    Now, let me state for the record that although I do not have kids and do not want them, I don’t have anything against them. They’re kind of important for the perpetuation of the species. For me, they fall into the same category as dogs: I haven’t spent much time around them, and they kind of scare me, but I’m also kind of fascinated by them. Still, I don’t want to live above one, especially if he enjoys yelling for his father at top volume. I could hear him over my air conditioner AND The Misfits.

    Well, it could be worse.

    They could have a kid AND a dog.