Sunday, November 30, 2008

media update: November

My Thanksgiving vacation has had some major snags, but it certainly hasn't been all bad either. For one, I've been able to spend lots of time with G and his family, and for another...


Lots and lots of monkeys.

I'll write a separate, monktacular entry, chock full o' pictures, at a later date. I figured I might as well post this while I had a shot at the computer.

A word of caution to the two people I know are going to play Silent Hill Homecoming: I review it in this media update, and I've tried to keep it as spoiler-free as possible. However, if you don't want to know ANYTHING about the game, you may want to stop reading as soon as you see the box art.

Also, if anyone has their heart set on reading Candy Everybody Wants by Josh Kilmer-Purcell, skip my review because I spoil the hell out of it. I only did so because it was the worst book I've read this year, and I must share my vitriol.

I read a ton of manga and graphic novels this month because the library got a big shipment of them. Ah, happiness.

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


1. Candy Everybody Wants by Josh Kilmer-Purcell: Oh my god, this was so fucking BAD! It's about Jayson, a teenage boy in the early 80's who wants nothing more than to be famous. Through a series of improbable events, he gets his wish...with some snags along the way, of course. The writing is so clunky and obvious, like the part where someone sniffs, "With a name like Madonna, she'll never go anywhere." Ha ha, it's funny because we know it's not true! And of course the teen idol that Jayson has worshipped forever will not only turn out to be gay, but wind up being his boyfriend! Of course that "just a cough" will turn out to be AIDS! Of course the suspiciously large pregnant teenager will---shock!---wind up unexpectedly having twins! Factor in some painfully forced quirkiness in the form of his friends and family, and we're talking epic fail. What makes it even worse is that the author's memoir, I Am Not Myself These Days, was one of my favorite books of 2007. If this novel is any indication, the author should stick to nonfiction.

Also, the blurb on the back from Dr. Drew Pinsky calling the protagonist "Holden Caulfield for a new generation": really, Dr. Drew? REALLY? Have you been stealing meds from your patients on Celebrity Rehab?

2. Ai no Kusabi: Suggestion by Reiko Yoshihara: The continuing adventures of our unambiguously gay (well, I guess Riki is bi) duo. These books are so very bad, but they're a guilty pleasure.

3. Just After Sunset* by Stephen King: A collection of short stories ranging from the excellent ("The Gingerbread Girl") to the boring ("Stationary Bike"). My favorite was "A Very Tight Place", in which a man is trapped in a portable toilet by his insane neighbor. I found this one especially scary because I hate portable toilets with a passion. (Not that I think anyone loves them, except for that guy who was apprehended at the bottom of one, literally happy as a pig in shit. I'm pretty liberal and all, but fucking nasty. I mean, who willingly crawls into a portable toilet and thinks "Turds! Glorious, soul-sustaining TURDS! I've got such a boner right now!") I'm about as low maintenance as it gets, but I prefer that my toilet be in an actual building with actual plumbing. We went to a concert in the park on Labor Day, and I had to use one, and the smell was indescribable. Ever tried to pull up your pants with one hand and pinch your nose shut with the other? It ain't easy!

Where was I? Oh yeah, the story. It's gleefully gross and I loved it, even though it almost made me gag a couple of times.

4. The Fire Kimono by Laura Joh Rowland: In 1700's Japan, a skeleton is found under a tree, and the shogun orders an investigation. To Sano Ichiro's horror, the evidence implicates his mother. This is the 13th book in the Sano Ichiro series, and although it isn't the best, it's diverting enough.

5. The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb: This behemoth clocks in at 700+ pages, which made it a perfect choice for vacation reading material. Protagonist Caelum Quirk's wife survives the Columbine shootings by hiding in a cabinet. Suffering from PTSD, she does something that gets her sent to the pokey, and with nothing else to do, Caelum begins slogging through his family's history. And I do mean SLOG, because those parts generally bored me senseless. Well written, but a serious disappointment after his previous novels.


1. The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2008*: These always have some really good stuff in them, and this is a particularly meaty volume. I especially enjoyed Jake Swearingen's "Are You There, God? It's Me. Also, A Bunch of Zombies" (an especially appropriate title considering that this volume is introduced by my perennial idol Judy Blume) and a heartbreaking short story titled "Y" by Marjorie Celona. There's also a fascinating article about Bill Clinton and a good selection from Stephen King (which also appears in #3 above). Well worth checking out.

2. The Road of Lost Innocence by Somaly Mam: When she was 12 years old, the author was sold into sexual slavery. She spent the next several years as a prostitute in Cambodia, and when she married a Frenchman, she was finally able to break free. Since then, she's made it her mission to help girls (and I do mean GIRLS; some of them are only five or six years old) in the same situation. Obviously not the feel good book of the year, but at least she's doing something about it.

3. In the Devil's Garden* by Stewart Lee Allen: A terrifically entertaining book about forbidden foods throughout the ages, sorted by deadly sin, ranging from rabbits (because they would supposedly make the eater crave sodomy) to "long pig" (people). There are also a few recipes included, such as Nipples of the Virgin (a breast-shaped pastry with cream filling) and Mashed "Couch" Potatoes. The latter, incorporating as it does a full cup each of butter and milk, almost made me have an orgasm just thinking about it.


1. The Walking Dead* vols. 4-8 by Robert Kirkman

2. Black Orchid* by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean

3. In Odd We Trust* by Dean Koontz and Queenie Chan: I wasn't expecting much out of this, but I actually enjoyed it. It's an original Odd Thomas story with manga style art.

4. Love Com vol. 4 by Aya Nakahara

5. Mixed Vegetables by Ayumi Komura

6. Sugar Princess* by Hisaya Nakajo

7. The Dreaming vols. 1-3 by Queenie Chan

8. Backstage Prince vol. 2 by Kanoko Sakurakoji

9. B.O.D.Y. by Ao Mimori


1. The Happening: Panic erupts when people suddenly start killing themselves for no apparent reason. Nobody's sure what's causing it, but since the phenomenon only seems to be happening in large cities, a group of people heads for the sticks. There are some very disturbing moments in this movie, and one scene that shocked the hell out of me, but overall you can give this a pass. The acting is unbelievably bad, and the reason for the mass suicides is ridiculous. Plus there was no big twist, which you kind of expect from an M. Night Shyamalan movie. (Unless that WAS the twist...ooh, clever!)

2. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: Oh dear god. Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, what the fuck is wrong with you?!? I was rolling my eyes so much during the last 30 minutes of this movie that I'm surprised they didn't just stay there. There are some fun action sequences, and I enjoyed seeing Indy and Marian reunited, but my god. THAT FUCKING ENDING.

Side note: Immediately after watching this, G, C, and I watched the South Park episode about it, and I don't even remember the last time I laughed so hard. It made sitting through the movie worth it!

3. Quantum of Solace: It wasn't nearly as good as Casino Royale, but it had some excellent action scenes, and Daniel Craig continues to rock. I might have enjoyed this movie more if I hadn't gotten a migraine halfway through, and if we hadn't been sitting in the rudest audience in the history of the movies. How I wished for a flamethrower.


1. "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" by N-Trance

2. "O Fortuna" by Apotheosis

3. "Temptation" by New Order



I've been a rabid fan of the Silent Hill series since the very first game. I spent many hours playing it in the basement, almost too frightened to continue but unable to quit. I was absolutely hooked, and I knew that Silent Hill, along with Resident Evil, would always get my money...loyalty that was amply rewarded when Silent Hill 2 was released and became my favorite video game of all time.

But when it was announced that Silent Hill Homecoming (hereafter referred to as SHH) had been handed over to an American company, I got a little nervous. Not that I think only Japanese companies can make good video games---just look at Rockstar, Double Fine, and Quantic Dream---but I was worried they would drastically change the dynamic that makes Silent Hill so amazing.

In SHH, you play Alex Shepherd, a soldier returning from an unnamed war. To his shock, he finds out that his hometown of Shepherd's Glen is in ruins, his father and his younger brother Joshua are missing, and his mother is borderline catatonic. Alex is determined to uncover the mystery, and his search eventually leads him to Silent Hill.

Here's where my frustration set in. In previous Silent Hill games, you played "regular" characters, like a teenage girl and a writer. But Alex is a trained soldier, so the developers changed the combat accordingly. I wouldn't have minded if they'd upped the difficulty a bit, since it's never exactly been hard before, but at times it's like playing Devil May Cry! I got better as I went along, of course, but there were two nasty boss fights where I had to pass the controller to G lest I fling it through the window. A serious lack of ammo and health items during the first half of the game didn't help, either.

I had a few minor quibbles as well. The character models are very inconsistent; sometimes Alex looked like a real person, but at other times, he looked more like he belonged in a PS2 game. There were a couple of glitches; sometimes Alex would get caught in a running animation against a wall, forcing a restart, and on my second playthrough I tried to skip a cinema and the whole thing crashed. Oddly enough, there was a very long cinema before that one that couldn't be skipped, so when the game crashed, I had to watch it all over again. (Don't get me wrong, it was a really cool cinema, but I'd already seen it three times by that point!)

Now for the good stuff. The music and creature noises are perfect, thanks to Akira Yamaoka, who's been with this series since the very beginning. The storyline, while nowhere near as good as SH2, is intriguing and has some great twists and turns. The backgrounds are photorealistic at times, and the transition to the Otherworld is especially impressive. One of the levels is a visual masterpiece. It has the goriest death scene I've ever witnessed in a video game; in fact, the scene in question (plus a few others) actually got the game banned in Australia! A couple of the puzzles were really clever. There's good replay value, thanks to five different endings, new costumes, and new weapons. If you earn a certain achievement, you get an extra, wonderfully creepy cinema after the credits. The series continues to have the best mapping system of any game I've ever played. And the monster design is top notch. For example, Schisms (or, as I called them, "Oh God Those Fuckers Again, Shit! SHIT! Great I'm Cut In Half") look like a cross between a naked person and a hammerhead shark, and the bosses are straight out of HR Giger's worst nightmares.

So in conclusion, SHH posed no threat to SH2's supremacy in my heart, but it's a solid addition to the family. It freaked me out, it made me think, and it even made me mist up a little. And really, that's all I ask out of my beloved Silent Hill.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Jesus tapdancing Christ on a cracker!

Okay, so I wanted to post that picture, but I really am irritated right now. Nothing colossal, just a bunch of little things that have all collected into one big clump of ass.

Worse than the irritating...I was in Kohl's tonight to buy a giftcard for my brother for Christmas, and I saw a woman who looked so much like my mom that I felt like I'd been punched in the gut. You know that science class experiment where you put a chicken bone in a jar of vinegar and leave it for a couple of days, and then you take it out and can actually bend it? My knees felt like that. I actually had to grab onto a shelf of Dockers because I thought I might fall.

The woman started walking towards me, and up close she didn't look so much like my mom. She was about ten years younger than my mom would have been, and she was speaking Spanish, and she had a flinty look in her eyes. I guess when you want to see someone badly enough, you start conjuring them out of thin air, an oasis made of hope instead of water.

This is a tough time of year for me, and it always will be.

I just need to get away.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

2008: random cool stuff

This will probably be my last entry this month because I’m going to Miami (bienvenidos a Miami!) for T-Day. Until then, I’ll be spending all my spare time wheedling G to take me here.


A couple of comments first:

  • Not all of these things were originally introduced in 2008, but since that’s when I first saw/ate/played/used them, they belong on this list.
  • These aren’t in any particular order.
  • Sorry for the discrepancy in picture size, but I lack the motivation to make them all even. Also, sorry for the Will Smith earworm up there.
  • Your mileage may vary.

I’m not ordinarily into fighting games, but when I found out that God Hand was created by the genius behind Resident Evil and Devil May Cry, I knew I had to check it out. It’s insanely hard, but it’s also one of the funniest games I’ve ever played. Some of your enemies include a gorilla, the Mad Midget Five, and two flamboyantly gay guys in jockstraps and feathers. One of your attacks involves putting female enemies over your knee and spanking the hell out of them. And when you’re not fighting, you can earn money by playing in the casino and betting on---ready for this?---poison Chihuahua races. Good times!

Dexter Morgan is a blood spatter expert with the Miami-Dade police department…by day, anyway. By night, he’s a serial killer who was raised by his foster father to channel his homicidal urges in a productive manner by only killing other murderers. It’s based on the novels by Jeff Lindsay, but this is one of those rare instances where they managed to significantly improve upon the source material. It’s filled with black humor, more twists and turns than a bag of pretzels, and great acting, especially by Michael C. Hall as Dexter.

In No Reservations, celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain travels around the world sampling regional cuisine. It’s a pleasure to watch, because he’s so funny and gloriously cranky, and the cinematography is beautiful. G paid it the ultimate compliment when he said, “I hate to travel and I couldn’t care less about eating, but this show makes me want to do both.” I would love to hang out with Anthony Bourdain, although he’d probably hate my ass because I’m such a fussy eater.

My diet can be summed up as “sweets ‘n’ meats”, but every once in a blue moon, I'll discover a food I like that's actually GOOD for me, like this yogurt. Pomegranate Blueberry is my absolute favorite, but the Pomegranate Acai is really good too.

Okay, I'll admit it; the cheesy little charms hanging off the side of the can made me buy this, because basically I'm a crow. But what will keep me buying this hairspray is that it smells exactly like strawberry Pop Rocks.

This show follows the titular band, fresh from New Zealand, as they try to make it big in the US. The show is really funny, but the perfect musical parodies are what make it a must-see. My favorites are “Boom”, a Sean Paul clone, and “Foux de Fa Fa”, which would be right at home in a candy-colored French musical from the 60’s.

Imagine that a Snickers and a cup of chai had a baby. Throw in some coconut flavoring and you have this candy bar. It provoked wildly different reactions in everyone who tried it; G and C absolutely hated it, but M, my cubemate J, and I loved it. (Maybe it's a girl thing?) Unfortunately (or perhaps not, considering that they were the caloric equivalent of a cheeseburger), they were a limited edition and disappeared from the shelves at the end of summer.

I almost bought a PSP for the sole purpose of playing this game. Fortunately, I was able to save my pennies, because it was ported to the PS2. You play Travis Grady, a trucker who finds himself in Silent Hill, where things quickly go crazy apeshit. Thanks to its (heh) origins, the graphics are merely serviceable, but the storyline is intriguing, the monsters are repulsive, and the soundtrack is my second favorite out of the series. It’s pretty short---probably less than 20 hours to get all three endings---but I enjoyed the hell out of it.

In this slice ‘n’ dicer, you play Frank West, a photojournalist investigating a zombie outbreak in a small town. He winds up barricaded in a shopping mall with other survivors…and thousands and thousands of zombies. If the game lets you pick it up, you can use it as a weapon, whether it’s a lawn mower or a teddy bear. And when Frank’s not busy taking out a zombie or twenty, he’s escorting other survivors to safety, fighting off human psychopaths, snapping pictures, trying on new outfits (including dresses), and uncovering the truth behind the outbreak.

When I first reviewed this game back in May, I said that it could have been one of my favorite games of all time if it weren't for some of its serious flaws. You know what? Fuck it; it IS one of my favorite games of all time. Sure, the constant phone calls from the janitor are irritating, and the learning curve is so steep that it's the equivalent of trying to drive up a wall, and until you get Frank properly leveled up, you're gonna get killed over and over and over. But godDAMN, the stuff that's good about this game is utterly sublime. Once we got the hang of Dead Rising, it was so much fun that we couldn't leave it alone. (Hell, just typing this paragraph made me want to play it again!) A must for any wannabe zombie slayer.

There's no way I can describe MTV's The Paper better than Rich over at fourfour did, so click on the link if you'd like a detailed analysis and review. I'll just say that I got hooked immediately; it's like watching a slightly defanged, real life version of Welcome to the Dollhouse.

RPGs aren’t usually my thing, but when I heard that this game takes place during Frederic Chopin’s deathbed fever dream, I had to check it out. It’s the most beautiful video game I’ve ever played, and you can’t beat that premise for originality. Plus co-op mode meant G and I got to play together…a rare treat indeed, since most co-op games make me woobly.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit would be the same as pretty much any other cop show if it weren't for Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni and their mad chemistry. I can’t decide whether I want them to get together or not; on the one hand, it would be scorching hot, but on the other, it would probably ruin the show.

Also, I cannot wait for tonight's episode because this fellow will be making an appearance:

LOOK AT HIS LITTLE SHIRT. Garage doors all over my neighborhood will open thanks to my ultrasonic squeals of glee.

In this delightful game, you follow Professor Layton and his apprentice Luke as they try to find a treasure in the town of St. Mystere. The residents of the village are all obsessed with puzzles, and before they give you any clues or information, they make you solve a logic or numerical puzzle first. The puzzles range in difficulty from easy to tear-your-hair-out, but you have the option of using a “hint coin” if you get truly stuck. The art is very charming; it reminds me of Miyazaki or The Triplets of Belleville. G and I love playing this game together.

I’ll be posting a full review of this game in my November media update, so I won’t go into it now, but I wanted to include it here as well. With two new Silent Hill games in one year, I was a very happy girl!

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. Along the way, you’re also wooed by a succession of princes. It’s unbelievably girly and sappy, but it’s also really fun, and a refreshing change of pace from my usual blood 'n' guts games.

Friday, November 14, 2008

2008: almost over, praise Jeebus

Man, all in all, 2008 was a pail o’ fail. Lots of unpleasant things happened, and offhand, there’s nothing that immediately stands out as the best moment of the year. At the risk of sounding like Syrup McSweetmush, though, it’s always important to remember that I have my health, a home, enough to eat, amazing friends and family, a stable job (hey, as long as people drive like morons, I’m probably safe), and a fabulous boyfriend. Sometimes I lose sight of the fact that the good far outweighs the bad in my life.

Anyway, here’s a list of the yays and the nays of 2008. These are in chronological order, more or less, and I’ll start with the bad ones first because it’s always nice to end on a positive note.


1. Padre had to have open heart surgery, which was terrible on a number of fronts. Obviously, the worst thing was the pain and recovery process he had to go through, but it also put so much stress on G and his family. And on a purely selfish tip, I spent three weeks without G, which was miserable. I stayed busy by going out with friends, reading, and watching movies, but I missed G so much.

2. At my apartment complex, I found a note on my car from the guy who parked next to me claiming I’d damaged his car by hitting it with my door. Never mind that I was ALWAYS really careful when getting out of my car, especially because D-Noz usually parked so far over the line. I left him a note saying that I didn’t do it, tough shit, and he left me ANOTHER note saying that I had to pay up or he’d take me to small claims court. I filed a claim with my insurance and let them take it from there.

3. My brother had to have surgery for a malignant growth on his leg.

…all of the above happened in January, by the way. January 2008 needs to be kicked in the tits.

4. My brother was officially diagnosed with Asperger’s. I guess an argument could be made for this being a good thing, since he was able to get the proper therapy, but the diagnosis itself wasn’t exactly a happy occasion.

5. My apartment was infested with beetles that bored holes in the ceiling and left bits of sawdust and beetle shit everywhere. They started out in my closet, and after the exterminator came out, they relocated over my fucking BED. Needless to say, I flipped out. I thought they had come back recently, but it turned out to be a poor spackling job on the painter's part, so yay for that at least.

6. I had to go home from work a mere 15 minutes after getting there because I broke out into a cold sweat and almost fainted. K, bless her forever and ever amen, drove me home so I wouldn't endanger everyone else on the 101. I still don't know what the deal was; about an hour after I got home, I was fine.

7. Daddy-O broke off his engagement with Saint G, and this time it stuck. As you all know, I had a tolerate/hate relationship with Saint G, but she was very good for my dad.

8. During June's heat wave, my pet shrimp died. I know it sounds goofy, but I was really attached to those guys. Rest in peace, Bruiser and the Ebi Twins, and may Shrimp Heaven be an all-you-can-eat algae buffet.

9. After a full year of having no neighbors at all, a noisy family moved in below me. Since there's no solid ground below them, thanks to the parking garage, I can feel every single fucking footstep they make. I can always tell when it's 6:30AM because my bed starts rattling, which is a treat and a half.

10. Proposition 8 passed, which is some epic goddamn fail. C passed on a quote he saw on Facebook which sums it up pretty well: "Waiter, there's a Prop 8 turd in my delicious Obama soup!"


1. Padre and my brother both fully recovered from their respective surgeries, and are doing fine.

2. The New York Giants won the Superbowl, which was the best get well present Padre could have hoped for; he’s been a Giants fan his entire life. And since G was back east helping out, they got to watch it together.

3. We went to Hollywood for M’s birthday and spent the afternoon playing tourists. We took a bus tour of the stars’ homes and even had a sighting of Angelyne’s famous pink Corvette! I wasn’t too thrilled about running into a junkie in the bathroom of McDonald’s, but other than that, it was a fun day.

4. I fell in love with a gorgeous silk Anna Sui dress on Anthropologie's website, but it cost almost $400, so I had to abstain. Several weeks later, I was looking at the sale page and they had the dress for $88. The only size left? Mine. And, to my delight, it looks even better in person, and fits like a dream. It is officially my favorite dress ever.

5. Two Silent Hill games in one year! If Resident Evil 5 had come out in 2008 as well, I would seriously be typing this with braces on my wrists.

6. I got to see John Connolly again. As always, he was funny and friendly, and he was kind enough to pose for a picture with me.

I have this picture framed in my cube because it makes me smile every time I see it.

7. G, C, M, and I spent the 4th of July in Santa Barbara. The weather was perfect, traffic was surprisingly light (well, going there at least), and the fireworks were gorgeous.

8. My 37th birthday was lovely. I took the day off work, and spent the afternoon shopping, reading, and napping. Later, we went out to dinner at one of my favorite restaurants and I had a Milky Way martini, margherita pizza, and the best damn bread pudding in the world.

9. The Ventura County Fair was so freakin' awesome, in no small part because I got my feed on hardcore. (Ah, red velvet cupcake the size of my head, I still dream of you.)

10. G and I celebrated our four year anniversary. I could get unbelievably mushy here, but our friends read this blog, so I shall say no more.

11. D-Noz moved out! I have to say, even though he never threatened me or anything, I still wasn't too thrilled about him knowing where I lived.

12. When my boss tried to move me to a department that I loathed, I stuck up for myself and actually managed to talk her out of it.

13. Our trip to Washington DC was awesome, thanks to all the terrific (and free) museums, delicious food, and visits with R, G2, Madre, and Padre.

14. Halloween in West Hollywood!

15. Two words: Barack Obama. When I watched his acceptance speech, I was literally sobbing, and I had a weird feeling in my chest that took a moment to recognize: hope. Now, I certainly don't expect him to solve all the world's problems within days of moving into the White House; he's got a lot of work to do. But he's articulate, intelligent, and funny; I think I've watched the YouTube video of him dancing on Ellen about fifty times. Plus his wife is cool, his daughters are adorable, and he's a PILF. Yes we can...knock boots, baby!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

best of 2008: graphic novels/manga

It’s that time of year again when I post lists of the things that flipped my skirt in 2008. Granted, the year isn’t quite over yet, but if something comes along between now and December 31st that begs to be included, I’ll update accordingly.

A few notes before I begin:

  • Not all of these were first published in 2008, but since I didn’t read them until this year, they belong on this list.
  • Aside from the first title, these aren’t in any particular order.
  • As always, your mileage may vary.

1. Promethea by Alan Moore, J.H. Williams III, and Mick Gray: For the second year in a row, Alan Moore takes the top spot. In this series, a teenage girl is doing research on a fictional heroine named Promethea…and winds up inheriting the role. Like much of Alan Moore’s work, this gets almost unbelievably dense with subtext and references to everything from Kabbalah to metaphysics. There were several pages that I had to reread because I didn’t understand them the first time…or the second…or the third. But don’t let that put you off, because there’s a handy guide at the end of the final volume. Besides, it’s not just Alan Moore showing off how smart he is. There’s some great humor in here too, like a machine-gun toting Little Red Riding Hood and a parody of the Fantastic Four called The Five Swell Guys. And my god, the art is PHENOMENAL; I’m talking museum worthy at times. So if you don’t mind a little learnin’ with your graphic novels, you really can’t go wrong with this.

2. Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland: More Moore! I swear the guy has a vat of Genius Juice in his basement. I read this in preparation for The Dark Knight’s more sinister depiction of The Joker, and did it ever deliver; it’s chilling. If anyone ever tries to convince you that graphic novels and comic books are just for kids, hand them a copy of this and wait while they read it, then bask in their admission of stupidity.

3. 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. (Note: not commercially available in the US at this time)

4. Cantarella by You Higuri: The infamous Borgia family gets the manga treatment. Granted, the mangaka takes some serious liberties with history---for example, Machiavelli shows up as a strange wizard who can change into a moth---but it didn’t bother me. And for the shonen-ai fan, there’s some major sexual tension between Cesare Borgia and his friend Chiarro, but it’s not graphic. Absolutely stunning art and an engrossing story.

5. The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi: A memoir in graphic novel form, this is the author’s account of growing up in Iran and how the revolution changed her life forever. There’s some dark stuff in here to be sure, but it’s leavened by humor and sweet familial anecdotes. The art is very simple, but what it lacks in panache, it makes up for in storytelling.

6. After School Nightmare by Setona Mizushiro: Mashiro, the protagonist, is biologically female from the waist down, but identifies as a male. He is recruited to participate in a class after school where he lives out nightmares with other students. In this dream world, the students are revealed at their most vulnerable; for example, Mashiro is wearing a girl's uniform, and a fellow student is dressed in the raincoat and galoshes she was wearing when she was raped as a child. In order to graduate, you must find the key to a mysterious door…and anyone who goes through that door is never seen again. A really twisty mindfuck.

7. Black Hole by Charles Burns: When I wanted to check this out from the library, I had to request it from a special locked case. I thought they were overreacting; um, not so much. I can only imagine the fury a parent would unleash if they discovered their kid reading this! A sexually transmitted disease turns its sufferers into mutants; some people have mild cases, but others are turned into grotesque creatures who are shunned by society and forced to live in the woods. Disturbing, sad stuff that really gets under your skin.

8. Presents by Kanako Inuki: Kurumi is a creepy little girl who never ages because she never received a birthday present. In each story, she visits someone with a present that usually isn’t quite what the receiver expected. It’s like a combination of The Twilight Zone and The Monkey’s Paw, and although the art is, to be perfectly honest, ugly as hell, the stories are gleefully gruesome fun.

9. The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman: A cop wakes up after a coma and discovers that the zombie apocalypse happened while he was out. He sets out to find his wife and son, and eventually he discovers them living with a ragtag band of survivors. I don't want to go into too much detail lest I spoil something, but suffice it to say that the zombies are the least of their problems. This is almost unbearably grim at times, but I couldn't stop reading; it's like a gory soap opera. Volume 8 ended on such a jawdropping note that I can't decide whether I'm looking forward to the next one...or dreading it.

10. Black Orchid by Dave McKean and Neil Gaiman: Can you believe this is only the second thing by Neil Gaiman I’ve ever read? Well, it won’t be the last. The title character is an ethereal half-human, half-flower trying to discover the truth about her origins. The writing is beautifully melancholy and complemented perfectly by the artwork. I also enjoyed the cameo appearances by everyone from Batman to Swamp Thing.

Friday, November 07, 2008

WeHo Halloween (VERY image heavy)

I can’t even begin to describe West Hollywood on Halloween, but fortunately, thanks to the magic of digital photography, I don’t have to! All of these pictures (with one exception that I’ll note when I get to it) were taken by R; I’m posting them with her permission. Some of them have comments if you mouse over them.

Mad props must go to the following people for making the evening so much goddamn fun:

  • R and P, for coming all the way from Washington DC, and for sharing their pictures
  • M, for booking the hotel and doing such an awesome job with the decorating. She decorated G’s and my room with dismembered baby dolls; R and P got snakes! She also left a much-appreciated basket of candy and champagne on our beds.
  • C, for driving in some seriously tense and crowded conditions. I was about ready to have a panic attack, and I was in the backseat! But he stayed calm and collected and got us where we needed to be.
  • G, because.

Also, as noted in the entry title, this is REALLY image heavy, so you may want to get a snack and a refreshing beverage of your choice while this page loads.

Getting our drink on at the hotel

Taking Glenn into custody

A drunk cop is a mean cop!

You have the right to remain silent, but you may want to scream

Pimpin’ ain’t easy

M shows off her Selma Nilla costume

R and P

G with Sora from Kingdom Hearts

I freakin’ LOVE this picture, even though I look like I’ve been indulging in a few illicit substances…WHICH I WASN’T

How cute are they?

Unfortunately, you can’t see his sign here, but it said VOTE FOR MCCAIN

G with Ichigo from Bleach on the left and Cloud from one of the Final Fantasy games on the right.

Yes, these are real firemen!  Or else really, really dedicated to their craft, seeing as they had a truck and all.

Considering what happened less than a week later, this picture makes me very sad.  Look how adorable these guys are!  When I saw them, I wanted to give them a hug but I wasn’t able to get through the crowd.  I found this picture online last week, but now I can’t find it again so I can give proper credit.  If it’s yours, let me know and I’ll either credit you or take it down, whichever you want.

He actually made noise if you pressed his buttons.

WIN! When I saw these guys, I actually screamed with delight.  For the 99% of you reading this who have absolutely no idea who they are, it’s Pyramid Head and a zombie nurse from Silent Hill 2, my favorite video game of all time.  Pyramid Head was very nice and did not cut me in half, which is something he likes to do.