Friday, January 23, 2009

ARGH + bye for now + very early media update

Cue the cheesy strains of hair metal band Europe, because it's the final countdown: in less than 24 hours, I'll be in Costa Rica.

I took today off work because I knew I'd have a million different things to do before I left, and I was right. Here's what I've accomplished so far:

1) Went to the library to return my books and print out my boarding pass. Here's where the "ARGH" comes in: after sitting on a computer so slow it was like molasses oozing down the back of an anesthetized snail, I finally got onto United's webpage and tried to check in.

Bzzzt. Couldn't do it because the flight is actually run by another airline, LACSA, and United just...well, I don't know, actually. Took my money. So I went to LACSA's webpage and nope, couldn't do it there either. Gotta do it at the airport. On the plus side, this means that I don't have to spend the entire ride to LAX maniacally chanting, "Okay, got my passport...boarding pass...ID. Passport...boarding pass...ID." Now I can just maniacally chant "Okay, got my passport...ID. Passport...ID." On the negative side, this worries me because I'd like to be officially checked in ahead of time so A) I don't have to fuck with standing in line forever, and B) I can make sure I have a decent seat.

Oh, and something else I noticed while I was on LACSA's webpage? Carry-ons can only be 22 pounds. Yeah, um, there's no way I can get everything I need for 2 goddamn weeks in Costa Rica down to 22 pounds. I think the suitcase alone weighs 22 pounds! So, unfortunately, I'll probably have to check the fucking thing. I'll cram as much as humanly possible into my backpack in case my suitcase goes missing.

2) Hit up the ATM. Fortunately, most Costa Rican businesses not only accept US dollars, but they prefer them. The first hotel where I'll be staying has a money exchange desk, so I'll trade in some money for colones, since some of the smaller places won't take US cash, and I really have to get a licuado (basically an insanely good smoothie).

3) Threw in a couple of loads of laundry.

4) Dropped off my rent.

5) Waterproofed my shoes.

6) Memorized the important phrase sin hielo (without ice).

After my laundry's done, I have to pack, and after that, I should be finished.

Did I mention that I've been taking 500 mg of B-1 a day for the last couple of weeks, and will continue to do so during my trip? Supposedly, it repels mosquitoes. I don't know if that's true or not, but it's sure as hell repelling ME. Seriously, every time I take a piss, it smells like a fucking GNC store.

Also, I bought the cutest goddamn pants you've ever seen. They're brown capris, but thanks to a complicated system of hidden buttons and straps, you can adjust them to any length you want. They're made of some special fabric that dries instantly, so they'll be perfect for trekking through the rainforest, and they make me look like I'm off to search for golden idols and lost arks. Originally I was going to buy a pair of those pants that zip off at the knees and turn into shorts, but every pair I found was intensely ugly and unflattering. I refuse to wear pants that make my ass look like an air mattress filled with tapioca. I also bought a hat, so cute. Nobody looks worse in hats than I do, but I don't want to get a sunburned scalp, so what little vanity I have must be put aside.

I'm posting my media update early because I leave at the unholy hour of 1:25AM, and I'll be spending the entire flight doped up on Simply Sleep and snoozing, so I won't be adding any books or movies tonight. I also doubt I'll be doing much reading during the trip, since I'll be too busy gaping at monkeys and volcanoes and whatnot, but if I do, I'll tack them onto February's list.

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


1. Royal Harlot* by Susan Holloway Scott: A juicy historical novel about Barbara Villiers Palmer, the mistress of King Charles II, filled with lots of detail and some very hot sex scenes.

2. Miles From Nowhere by Nami Mun: A teenage girl, disturbed by her mother's mental illness and father's infidelity, sets out for life on the streets. Sad and well written; the last chapter left me choked up.

3. Hannah's Dream by Diane Hammond: Hannah is an elephant who lives at a tiny, rundown zoo. Samson Brown is the caretaker who has tended to her for over forty years. He's long due for retirement, and his health is failing, but he refuses to leave Hannah until he can find a replacement who will love her as much as he does. The writing can be really repetitive; for example, the author uses the word "subsided" three times in four pages, and one character says something "stiffly" twice in two pages. Also, two of the antagonists are so broadly drawn I'm surprised they didn't have mustaches to twirl. But despite its flaws, it's still a very charming book, and I'm sure you won't be surprised to hear that I got a big ol' lump in my throat at the end.


1. Loose Girl by Kerry Cohen: A memoir about the author's promiscuous past. It's not bad, but I was disappointed that she never really tried to figure out what caused her to sleep around so indiscriminately.

2. Love Junkie* by Rachel Resnick: A blisteringly honest, sad, and ultimately redemptive account of the author's addiction to terrible relationships. And, unlike the book above, she definitely figures out why.

3. Camp Camp* by Roger Bennett and Jules Shell: When I was in sixth grade, I had the opportunity to go to "outdoor camp". I eagerly leaped at the chance, because it meant a full week away from school (and we didn't have to make up the work when we got back!) and the bullies who made my life miserable. Unfortunately, it turned out to be an awful experience. Some of the bullies came too, mosquitoes feasted on my flesh, the food was inedible, and one of the male counselors liked to "accidentally" come into the girls' bathroom when we were showering. I missed my family terribly and cried so hard my face puffed out to twice its size. I only lasted a few days before begging to go home, and my principal dropped me off on my doorstep. My dad wasn't too thrilled that I'd pussed out, but when I hugged my mom and went into my room and saw Sprite curled up on my bed, right next to the latest issue of Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld, I didn't care.

So, for all intents and purposes, I never experienced summer camp, and I never thought I was missing anything until I read this funny collection of anecdotes, complete with alarming (seriously, in one of the pictures a girl is wearing the same Swatch sweatshirt I rocked in the 80's) and funny photos. It made me long for lanyards, bug juice, and getting to second base in the janitor's closet.

4. Lopsided* by Meredith Norton: A candid, irreverent, and at times hysterical memoir about breast cancer. Yes, you read that right. She certainly doesn't downplay the seriousness of her diagnosis and recovery, but she's smart enough to find the black humor in it. As one of the blurbs on the back cover says, "This isn't chicken soup for the soul; it's Tabasco." Highly recommended.

Oh, and here's one of my favorite passages, where she's talking about going to her Parisian gynecologist: "This looked nothing like an American gynecologist's office where everything is discreetly non-graphic and oven mitts protect sensitive soles from cold steel stirrups, as if you might not be there to get a Pap smear, but a steaming hot casserole."

And another: "For the first time Dr. Yuen saw that I was seriously upset. Not the upset where you sniffle and cry, but the ghetto-style upset where you burn down someone's check-cashing business."

One for the road (but this is seriously it, otherwise I'll be typing the whole book): "Oh my God! Was it true that black people can't float? I always thought we historically didn't swim because if they thought we could, white people would have made us pull barges or something."

5. Voluntary Madness by Norah Vincent: The author voluntarily committed herself to three different mental hospitals in order to get a better glimpse of what life was like on the inside. Although I loved her previous book, Self-Made Man (in which she disguised herself as a man and lived that way for a full year), this one left me cold. She comes across as very pretentious and self-absorbed, and gives the impression that she thinks she's better than the other patients. Um, no, honey; you're just saner.


1. Kaze Hikaru vols. 7-8 by Taeko Watanabe

2. Good As Lily by Derek Kirk Kim and Jesse Hamm

3. Wild Ones* vols. 1-5 by Kiyo Fujiwara

4. Janes in Love by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg

5. Kitchen Princess vol. 8 by Natsumi Ando and Miyuki Kobayashi

6. Skim* by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki

7. Joker* by Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo: Wow, this is some grim shit right here. It's even darker than The Killing Joke.

8. Emiko Superstar by Mariko Tamaki and Steve Rolston

9. The Walking Dead vol. 9 by Robert Kirkman


1. Resident Evil: Degeneration*: When zombies infest an airport, Claire Redfield and Leon Kennedy reunite to take them out and uncover the truth behind the new outbreak. I'll be honest, if you're not a fan of the games, there probably isn't much here for you; otherwise, this is a must-see. The CGI is practically flawless, there are some great action scenes, and the voice acting (which includes Claire and RE4 Leon's original voice actors, as well as many other veteran anime/video game voice actors) is excellent. The DVD also includes two new RE5 trailers that made me spray my dainties. March 13th can't come soon enough!

2. Idiocracy*: A slacker is persuaded by the army to go into hibernation for a year, but it goes wrong and he actually wakes up hundreds of years later. He discovers that the world is exclusively populated by slack-jawed morons, and since he's now the smartest person alive, they want him to fix all of their problems. This movie is mostly famous for being completely neglected by its studio when it was released, which is a shame; it's the funniest movie I've seen in a long time, and has all the hallmarks of a cult classic.

3. Dead Space: Downfall: A feature length animated film that provides some much needed backstory for the video game. It's incredibly gory and an awful lot of fun, although---like the Resident Evil movie mentioned above---I doubt it would hold much appeal for non-fans.

4. Eagle Eye: Shia LaBeouf plays a man who comes home from work one night to find that his apartment has been filled with weapons and material for making bombs. He receives a mysterious phone call telling him to run, and he winds up on the lam with a stranger whose son is being threatened by the same person. Wildly improbable, but entertaining.

5. Charlie Bartlett: After being kicked out of yet another prep school, a rich kid winds up in public school, where he starts dispensing advice and prescriptions conned out of his own psychiatrist. It's not bad, but it so desperately wants to be Ferris Bueller and fails. Playing the principal, Robert Downey Jr. is, as always, composed of awesome.

6. My Little Eye: Five strangers move into a house in the middle of nowhere and allow themselves to be filmed 24 hours a day. If they last six months without leaving the property, they win one million dollars, but if anyone leaves, they all lose out on the cash. They've hit the last week of the competition, and it looks like they're home free...until weird shit starts happening. Very creepy and tense.

7. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian: I hadn't heard positive things about this, so I was expecting to be disappointed, but it was actually quite good. It's pretty dark for a kiddie flick; sort of Lord of the Rings Lite.


1. "Coo Coo Ca Choo" by The Bloodhound Gang: I have a friend who's absolutely horrified by the fact that I love this band, but the reason she hates them (i.e., their immature, fratboyish humor) is the exact reason I love them. I can't help it; every time I listen to this song and he sings "Happy Thanksgiving! Would you like a little white meat? I'll stuff my Butterballs and you'll eat", I crack up. (You know I'm actually a 12-year-old boy with gynecomastia, right?)

Besides, any band that lists a rhesus monkey and a "fridge magnet of local interest" on their concert rider is aces by me.


Kummerspeck: A German word for the weight you gain from emotional overeating. It literally means "grief bacon".

And that's it from me for a while! If you guys could keep your fingers crossed that I get on my flight with a minimum of hassle and that Costa Rica doesn't have any more earthquakes while I'm there, that would be much appreciated.

See you on the flipside.