Monday, January 04, 2010

media update: December

Happy New Year, everyone! I'm posting this later than usual because I was in New Mexico for ten days with G and his family. For the most part, I had an awesome time, although I fell down a couple of times while hiking and now my ass looks like a Rorschach test. More details to come in my 2009 recap, which will be posted sometime in the next few days.

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


1. U Is for Undertow by Sue Grafton: In the 21st Kinsey Millhone mystery, a man contacts her claiming to have seen the burial of a young girl when he was six years old. She doesn't put much credence in his story, especially after she learns that he has a history of lying, but soon it becomes apparent that there may be some truth to it after all. I was expecting this to be better, especially since T Is for Trespass was one of my ten favorite books of 2007, but it has its moments.

2. Bought by Anna David: When a fledgling Hollywood reporter learns about women who accept gifts for their sexual services, she decides to write a story about it. Needless to say, she gets in over her head. I had high hopes for this book because I loved the author's debut, Party Girl, but this one was terrible.

TOTAL READ IN 2009: 62


1. Lit* by Mary Karr: The author wrote Liars' Club, one of my favorite memoirs of all time, so I was eager to get my hands on this one...and she didn't disappoint. It's about her descent into alcoholism and how it affected her marriage ("If you lie to your husband---even about something so banal as how much you drink---each lie is a brick in a wall going up between you, and when he tells you he loves you, it's deflected away") and her other relationships, from her young son to her troubled mother. Despite her misgivings as an agnostic about their "higher power" philosophy, she turns to AA, but as she becomes sober, she has to face the problems she'd been drinking to forget. Blackly funny, heartbreaking, and uplifting, though not in a saccharine way.

2. Mennonite in a Little Black Dress* by Rhoda Janzen: The author's husband of 15 years left her for a man he met online, and only days later, she was seriously injured in a car accident. Bruised both emotionally and physically, she returned to her Mennonite family to heal. An occasionally painful read, but more often laugh out loud funny.

3. Cleaving by Julie Powell: A memoir of the author's infidelities and the near-dissolution of her marriage. In the midst of all this sadomasochistic cavorting around, she decides to try her hand at being a butcher; cue lots of groanworthy metaphors comparing sex and meat and butchery and tiresome Buffy the Vampire Slayer references...ugh. Just ugh. I loved Julie and Julia, but this smug, often poorly written book was disappointing. It gets considerably more interesting in the last 100 pages or so, when she decides to travel by herself to different countries and see how they process meat, but it's too little, too late.

4. The Vice Guide to Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll: Another selection of articles from Vice magazine, ranging from their infamous oral sex guide to interviews with everyone from Ronnie Spector to "a huge fat guy". They also include the results of an experiment where the writer only ate corn for several days to see how long it would take to produce a bowel movement made up of nothing but corn. (Answer: 96 hours.)

TOTAL READ IN 2009: 51


1. Black Bird vol. 2 by Kanoko Sakurakoji

2. 12 Days by June Kim

3. Summer Blonde* by Adrian Tomine: I'm starting to seriously worship this guy; his work is like Edward Hopper in graphic novel form.

4. Kaze Hikaru vol. 14 by Taeko Watanabe

5. Alone in My King's Harem by Lily Hoshino

6. Mixed Vegetables vol. 5 by Ayumi Komura

7. Yurara vols. 1-5 by Chika Shiomi

8. Yotsuba* vols. 4 and 6 by Kiyohiko Azuma

9. The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks by Max Brooks and Ibraim Roberson

10. Baby & Me vol. 8 by Marimo Ragawa

11. Silent Hill: Among the Damned by Scott Ciencin and Shaun Thomas: If you're privileged enough to be allowed to borrow the Silent Hill universe, could you it justice? The art tries to be Francis Bacon and instead winds up being so muddled that you can't tell what's going on, and the storyline is bleh. Don't dishonor my beloved franchise with your crap-ass graphic novel, goddammit!

12. Pet Shop of Horrors: Tokyo vol. 5 by Matsuri Akino

13. Papillon vol. 4 by Miwa Ueda

14. You Will Fall in Love by Hinako Takanaga

15. Zombies: A Record of the Year of Infection* by Chris Lane and Dan Roff

TOTAL READ IN 2009: 131


1. Wasabi: Jean Reno plays a French cop who learns that the love of his life, a Japanese woman named Miko, has passed away and named him executor of her estate. He hasn't seen her in almost 20 years, so when he gets to Japan, he's shocked to discover that they had a daughter, Yumi, together. Miko left a shitload of money to Yumi, which puts her in danger from unsavory characters who want the cash for themselves. I thought there would be more action and less comedy in this, seeing as Luc Besson wrote it, but it's still enjoyable. Jean Reno and Ryoko Hirosue (who's like an anime character come to life) have great chemistry together. I recommend watching this with subtitles, because the dubbing is terrible, and Jean Reno speaking French is hotter than Texas asphalt.

2. The Proposal: An uptight editor finds out that she's about to be deported to Canada, so she forces her long-suffering assistant to marry her. In order to keep up appearances, they visit his family in Alaska; hijinks ensue. Predictable, but there are a few snappy lines, and Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds work really well together.

3. Observe and Report*: When a flasher starts terrorizing a mall, the head of security (Seth Rogen) is determined to stop him, both in hopes of becoming a real cop and winning the heart of the cosmetics salesgirl he has a crush on. As the credits were rolling, G turned to me and said, "Okay, that was like Paul Blart meets Taxi Driver." It's often insanely funny (my personal favorite quote: "Why the fuck would I want to blow up the Chick-fil-A? It's fucking delicious!"), but unless you like your comedy pitch black (and with a side of surprisingly nasty violence), you should stay away.

4. Paper Heart: In this strange combination of documentary and scripted scenes, actress Charlene Yi sets out to learn more about love, which she claims she doesn't believe in. Along the way, she hooks up with Michael Cera, but are his boyish charms enough to change her mind? Nauseatingly twee at times, but the interviews with real-life couples are sweet.

5. Jackie Brown*: The title character, played by the eternally awesome Pam Grier, is a flight attendant who supplements her income by smuggling in cash for gun runner Ordell Robbie. The ATF catches her in the act and offers her a deal. If she helps them nab Ordell, she won't do time...but Jackie has a different plan in mind. This was the only Tarantino movie (aside from Inglourious Basterds) I hadn't seen, and like all of his movies, it's clever fun.

6. Sherlock Holmes: When your visit to Carlsbad Caverns is delayed due to shitty weather and you're stuck in Carlsbad, New Mexico, what do you do? Why, go to the movies, of course! I love Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law, but although this flick was fun, it was ultimately forgettable.




1. "Bad Romance" by Lady Gaga

2. "Help Is On Its Way" by Little River Band: This was in Observe and Report, and it reminded me that this (along with "The Logical Song" by Supertramp) used to be my effing JAM when I was a kid.

...oh, hush.