Tuesday, March 31, 2009

media update: March

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


1. The Scent of Sake by Joyce Lebra: A rather dry and dull novel about a 19th century family of Japanese sake brewers. Might have been more enjoyable if I'd actually had a bottle of sake before reading.

2. The Local News* by Miriam Gershow: In this powerful debut novel, Lydia is a 16-year-old girl whose older brother, Danny, disappears. Her parents are devastated and throw themselves into the search, but Lydia is somewhat indifferent to the whole thing because Danny was often cruel to her; as she puts it, "Going missing was the only interesting thing my brother had ever done." But as the months pass, Lydia begins to wonder just how unaffected she really is. Funny, achingly sad, and beautifully written; I tore through it in a matter of hours because I couldn't put it down. I finished it a couple of weeks ago and I'm still thinking about it.

3. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford: This novel is about the growing romance between a young Chinese boy and Japanese girl during WWII, and how they struggle to keep their love alive when she's sent to an internment camp. The main problem I had with this book is that there are several inaccuracies. For example, the modern parts of the story take place in 1986, but at one point, the author mentions that a character belongs to an online support group, and he also talks about Brandon and Bruce Lee being buried next to each other. Um, Brandon Lee was still alive in 1986. (And, according to Amazon reviewers, there are many more mistakes that I didn't catch.) Plus the writing style is kind of simplistic, so although there are some sweet moments, overall this book was really disappointing.

4. Sleepwalking in Daylight by Elizabeth Flock: A stay-at-home mother feels like she's sleepwalking through her own life, desperate to understand her troubled teenage daughter and connect again with the husband she used to love. Well written, but it's almost unbearably depressing. The pink cover, with its quirky font and photo of a smiling woman with her eyes shut, makes it look like chick lit; I imagine there are going to be a lot of women who pick this up expecting frothy romance and one liners. Boy, are they gonna be surprised.

5. Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult: Willow is a 6-year-old with osteogenesis imperfecta, a disease that makes her bones so brittle that something as minor as sneezing could cause a fracture. Her mother, desperate for money to pay for her enormous expenses, files a wrongful birth lawsuit against her obstetrician (and best friend) for not advising her to have an abortion. As you know, I have a love/hate relationship with Jodi Picoult; Change of Heart was one of the worst books I read last year, and the ending of My Sister's Keeper pissed me off so much that I literally threw it across the room. But this one, despite the unsympathetic character of the mother and some florid writing (like the sex scene that ends "I threw my head back and burst into bloom"), kept me absorbed to the very last page. I wasn't too thrilled with the ending, though, so no star.

6. True Detectives by Jonathan Kellerman: A young woman disappears, and when a cop and a private investigator start looking into it, they discover a whole lot of serious ugliness. I missed Kellerman's usual characters, Alex Delaware and Milo Sturgis, but this wasn't bad.


1. The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl by Shauna Reid: A chronicle of the author's struggles with obesity and how it affected every facet of her life; as she puts it, "It's funny how the more space you take up, the more you blend into the wallpaper." Good, but it has the same problem as every other weight loss memoir I've ever read: it made me fucking ravenous. I mean, come on, like reading about a big greasy KFC dinner followed by a Cadbury milk chocolate bar and some Ben & Jerry's isn't gonna make me want to chow down?


1. High School Debut vols. 4-7 by Kazune Kawahara
2. The Kindaichi Case Files (3 volumes) by Yozaburo Kanari and Fumiya Sato
3. Love Com* vols. 10-11 by Aya Nakahara
4. Pretty Poison by Yutta Narukami
5. Love for Dessert* by Hana Aoi
6. Kaze Hikaru vol. 12 by Taeko Watanabe
7. Papillon vols. 1-2 by Miwa Ueda
8. Object of Desire by Tomoko Noguchi
9. Make Love & Peace by Takane Yonetani
10. Real Love by Mitsuki Oda


1. Chocolate*: An autistic teenage girl learns martial arts by watching movies. When she finds out that people owe money to her dying mother, she puts her newfound skills to good use. When I read that the lead actress was being called the female Tony Jaa, I scoffed; color me repentant, because they weren't exaggerating. The fight scenes are so creative and exciting that G and I were yelling "Whooo!" and "Yeah!" at the screen. The story is surprisingly strong, too. (Caveat: I mean for a martial arts movie; we're not talking Memento here.) Great fun if you love this kind of thing.

2. Transsiberian: A taut thriller about an American couple who get involved in some nasty business while riding the Transsiberian railroad.

3. Role Models*: Fueled by energy drinks and discontent, two guys accidentally knock down a statue and are sentenced to 150 hours of community service. They begin volunteering at a Big Brothers type of organization, where one of them gets stuck with a foulmouthed little kid and the other one gets a geeky teenager obsessed with live roleplay. Crass and uproariously funny.

4. Transporter 3: I watched this two days ago and I can't even remember what the plot was, but it doesn't really matter. It had Jason Statham kicking ass, wrecking cars, and stalking around shirtless. I mean, really, what else do you need to know? I must quote Patton Oswalt's brilliant JaSta blog post here: "Jason Statham has never been in a great movie. He's also never been in a boring one. Statham's IMDB profile, collectively, is a promise to you, the weary filmgoer. It's a promise that says, 'I promise that you will not FOR ONE SECOND be bored during one of my movies. You won't learn shit about the human condition, or feel a collective connection with the brotherhood of man. But if you give me $10, I will fuck an explosion while a Slayer song plays.'"


1. "I Don't Feel Like Dancin'" by Scissor Sisters

2. "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)" by Beyonce

3. "Paper Planes" by M.I.A.

4. "Womanizer" by Britney Spears


G and I waited literally four years for this game to come out.

Was it worth it?

Oh, yeah.

In this insane, balls-to-the-wall installment, Chris Redfield (who looks like he's been hitting the 'roids since Code Veronica) is sent to Africa to investigate rumors of bioterrorism backed by his old nemesis, the Umbrella Corporation, and Umbrella's African offshoot, Tricell. They've been infecting locals with parasites to test their efficiency as bioweapons; it's sort of like The Constant Gardener with rocket launchers and zombies. Chris is partnered with a local woman named Sheva, and together they set out to take the corporations down.

Some reviews have complained that it's just like RE4. These people are the same ones that whine about too much ice cream, too many kittens, or too much oralgami. Granted, it's very similar to RE4, but since RE4 is one of my five favorite games of all time, I don't consider that a negative.

Another complaint is that Sheva's AI is terrible, but for the most part, the computer handled her admirably. Sure, she was a little fast and loose with our ammo and healing items, and once she ran straight into a fire and died, but overall she was a good shot and had our back.

And finally, the biggest (and ugliest) complaint lodged against RE5 is that it's racist, since you're mowing down hundreds of infected Africans. I don't necessarily feel qualified to comment on this, since I'm so white I make Casper the Friendly Ghost look like Dave Chappelle, but personally I don't think it's racist. I mean, he's in AFRICA, and there are, um, Africans there. Zombification knows no race, no creed, no gender or sexual orientation...and neither does my shotgun. Besides, Chris and Sheva are trying to help them by taking down the bastards who are using them as human guinea pigs, and the only truly evil (i.e. nasty of their own free will) characters, with the exception of one Latina, are all white.

Enough about the negatives and on to the good stuff. The graphics are absolutely breathtaking; they may actually be the best I've ever seen. I'm old enough to remember when Pong was exciting, so playing a game that's almost like being in a movie is really amazing for me. The voice acting, with a few eye-rollingly hammy exceptions, is excellent. And if this game doesn't get your adrenaline going, have a doctor check your vitals, because you may actually be dead.

Another great thing about this game is that it offers two player co-op. G and I decided to play solo the first time through, because co-op splits the screen, and we wanted to focus on the breathtaking graphics. But now that we've finished the game, we've started co-op mode, and it's a blast. I'm playing Sheva and he's playing Chris, and more than once, we've saved each other's bacon.

And unlike my AI counterpart, I'm not going to walk into a goddamn fire.


Warning: contains a few spoilers (some minor, one huge), so if you haven't seen or read Watchmen yet, you probably want to skip it. Otherwise, enjoy; I award this video one (1) free internet.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

WWF snackdown

I have a coworker that I’ll call Brun in honor of her astounding talent for brown-nosing. Seriously, she’s turned it into an art form. Like for example, recently at a team meeting, our boss asked what she could do to make our lives easier. Brun gushed, “Oh, S, you give us SO much support and SO much guidance that I can’t even think of anything…except maybe bringing us Starbucks every morning!”


Except not.

I made the mistake of meeting J’s (my absolute favorite coworker) eyes, and we quickly had to look away from each other lest we burst into hysterics. Of course, NOT being able to laugh made me want to do it all the more, and I had to compress my lips into a tight seam and think of, like, Rwanda to keep from howling.

Anyway, yesterday I received an e-mail from Brun with the subject line “A li’l something you might find interesting!” I opened it and found a link inside, which took me to an article about…

…losing weight.

As soon as the red mist of rage cleared from my eyes, I noticed that she had sent it to a few other people in our department as well, so I didn’t feel quite so picked upon. Plus Brun may be an ass kisser extraordinaire, but she’s not mean, just annoying and clueless. Still, come on! My self-esteem is in the shitter right now anyway, so that’s the last fucking thing I needed.

And this morning when I walked in, I had a magazine page sitting on my desk with a Post-It on top saying, “I thought you’d like this!!!”

If this is another weight loss thing, I’m going to lose my shit, I thought. Grumpily, I ripped the Post-It off the page and saw an ad for this monstrosity:


“Ack!” I said, hastily tossing it in my recycling bin.

Brun prairie dogged over her cube. “Isn’t it cute?” she chirped. “I know you like monkeys, so when I saw that I totally thought of you!”

“I’d be scared it would come to life and chase me around my apartment like Karen Black and the Zulu doll,” I said.

Brun’s forehead creased as she tried to figure out my reference. Eventually giving up, she said, “Oh, you don’t like it?”

“It’s a little…unnerving,” I said. “But you know what I do like? Zombies and cupcakes!”

She sat back down, and I booted up my computer, ready for another glorious day in Cube Farm hell.

Monday, March 16, 2009

making a big stink

You know how some people will try to convince you that their shit don't stink?

I'm not one of those people.

In fact, I'm the first to admit that I can be awfully farty. The amount and intensity varies on what I've been eating, but usually I fart several times a day and they're nothing too dire. Occasionally, though, my flatulence is so foul it could knock a buzzard off a shitwagon.

For example, when G and I were in Vegas, I was standing at a ticket redemption machine and let one rip. The noise was drowned out by conversation and the electronic doodling of slot machines, but there was nothing to be done for the smell. Christ, I would have welcomed a stogie smokin' man strolling by at that point.

"Oh my god!" G moaned, pulling his shirt up over his nose. "Jesus, baby!"

I reacted in the only way I could: breaking out into gales of laughter.

"It's not funny! I think my nose hairs caught fire!"

Fast forward to last Friday, around 3AM. I woke up from a weird dream about seeing Watchmen with my mom and G, and I realized I had to pee. I reluctantly climbed out of bed and went to the bathroom, and then I hurried back and pulled the comforter over my head because it was freezing in my apartment and I'm too damn cheap/broke to turn on the heat. Sighing contentedly, I fell asleep...

...and woke up about an hour later, flinging the covers off me as though they were on fire. It took a second to realize what had woken me up this time, but even though I was horrified, I had to laugh.

Dear Reader, I'd dutch ovened myself.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

music & lyrics

This is a survey floating around in which you must answer the questions using song lyrics. I cut out a couple of the questions because I could not, for the life of me, think of a suitable lyric for them. Anyway...

Who are you?

She's a sad tomato/she's a real woman-child/she's her own invention. ("Crush with Eyeliner", REM)

What do you look like?

She's colorblind, tired eyes. ("Not Too Soon", Throwing Muses)

What is your secret?

And when my hand touches myself/I can finally rest my head/and when they say take from His body/I think I'll take from mine instead. ("Icicle", Tori Amos)

What can you do?

I could make a career of being blue/I could dress in black and read Camus/smoke clove cigarettes and drink vermouth/like I was 17/that would be a scream. ("I Don't Want to Get Over You", Magnetic Fields)

What is love?

The book of love is long and boring/no one can lift the damn thing/it's full of facts and figures/and instructions for dancing/but I love it when you read to me/and you can read me anything. ("The Book of Love", Magnetic Fields)

What is friendship?

God only knows what I'd be without you. ("God Only Knows", The Beach Boys)

Are you strong?

I will survive/oh as long as I know how to love I know I'm still alive. ("I Will Survive", Gloria Gaynor)

What are you afraid of?

Kinko, Kinko, the kid-loving clown/if the kids would just love me back I'd never wear a frown/Kinko's in his kinko car/pockets full of change/lots of dirty pictures and sticky candy canes. ("Kinko the Clown", Barnes & Barnes)

What would you tell the one who loves you?

I went out to the forest and caught a hundred thousand fireflies/as they ricochet around the room/they remind me of your starry eyes. ("100,000 Fireflies" by Magnetic Fields)

What do you want to do?

There's a world outside/and I know 'cause I've heard talk/in my sweetest dream/I would go out for a walk. ("Not Ready Yet", The Eels)

What do you want to say?

One day the world will be ready for you/and wonder how they didn't see. ("Spunky", The Eels)

What do you want to say to the one you love?

Hate a lot of things/but I love a few things/and you are one of them. ("Ant Farm", The Eels)

How do you feel?

Yesterday was sucking and tomorrow's looking bad. ("Hospital Food" by The Eels)

What would you do if you won a million dollars?

If I had a million dollars/I'd buy [me] a monkey. ("If I Had a Million Dollars", Barenaked Ladies)

What would you like to tell your parents?

I never thought that you'd become the friend I never had. (I'm too embarrassed to cite the source; if you know where they came from, then you can't say a word, dammit!)

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

poaching the monkey

I was really hoping that I could call work on Monday morning and say, "Oh, I won't be in today. Actually, I won't be in ever again because I won millions of dollars in Vegas. I'll send my helper monkey to pick up my things. Toodles!"

Le sigh.

Oh well, despite the lack of filthy lucre and the very short duration of our trip, I still had a blast. In handy-dandy bulleted form, here are some of the highlights.

  • If Jetblue flew more places, they would definitely be my carrier of choice. TVs in the seatbacks with access to Sirius XM and DirecTV, full cans of soda, lots of leg room, and snacks. They also boarded from both ends of the plane, which was a boon since we were way in the back.

  • Mandalay Bay? Fucking AWESOME, and I practically had to be shoved out of the room when it was time to leave. Really cool contemporary artwork and furnishings, an iPod dock, a bed that was like sleeping on a marshmallow wrapped in angel kisses and unicorn tears, and a beautiful view of the swimming pools. On the downside: there was a tray of snacks and souvenirs on the dresser, and when C picked up a martini shaker, I yelped, "No! I think that's one of those minibars that charges you if you even pick anything up!" So G called down, and sure enough, it was. They took the charge off, though. (Oh, and that $30 martini shaker? $12 in the gift shop.)

  • The Golden Monkey slot machine, which even G became obsessed with. We discovered a trick that we called "poaching the monkey", and it paid off more often than not. Plus, y'know, MONKEYS.

  • Speaking of monkeys: G2's "drunken monkey" dance.

  • The Mr. Lucky's Fortune Cookie slot machine, which was one of the most politically incorrect things I've ever seen. If you got three takeout cartons on a payline, Mr. Lucky would pop up on the screen and say "Meestah Lucky's, what is your ordah?" Then you'd get a menu and he'd say "Pick-u won beef-u dish", "Pick-u won cheeckahn dish", and so on, commenting on your decisions the whole way. ("Beef-u with broccoli! Very lucky for you, not so lucky for cow! Oh ho ho ho ho!") Then the items would disappear, revealing how many credits each dish was worth. It was insane. Here's a picture of me mugging with Mr. Lucky:

Notice my "Zombie Suppression Task Force" shirt? Earlier, G and I were in the elevator when a man asked me about it. I assured him that when the inevitable zombie apocalypse comes, I will squash it because I got da skillz to pay da billz. I may have been a bit drunk.

  • Unfortunately, Fiamma no longer serves the Caramello di Noce, so I burned that fucking place to the ground and pissed on the ashes while screaming, "How you like me now, bitch?" Instead, I consoled myself with the following (fapworthy food porn alert!): wagyu beef, elk jerky, dollar margaritas, coconut pancakes with mango butter, Wink of the Rabbit caramels drenched in chocolate and pecans, sweet curry and coconut ice cream, Aztec hot chocolate, applewood bacon, and a Belgian waffle with vanilla anglaise sauce that had me rolling around like a cat in heat. Quick, somebody fetch me a Q-tip! Oh, and C gave me two heavenly slices of kobe beef from his sampler at Tender because he's basically the nicest person on earth.

  • And, best of all, seeing Spock again. I got to introduce him to G and C, and we ate dinner, had insanely overpriced drinks at the Jpop lounge, and laughed our asses off. Of course, I made Spock tell the story about his ex-boyfriend's horror at a Sears bathroom, the story of our skinnydipping adventures at Hippie Hollow, and a story I can't mention here. I love my Spock!

Damn it, that trip was way too short. I think I need to go back later this year. Vegas is like the slutty older cousin that everybody publicly decries but secretly adores.