Monday, March 22, 2010

just eat it

Yes, I live! Sorry I've been off the grid for a while, but I've been busy with a couple of projects that are OMG exciting. I'd tell you what they are, but they're both in the embryonic phase and I don't want to jinx them. Details to come when/if they pan out, of course.

Some news I CAN share, however: after spending 9 months in a department at work that I hate with every fiber of my being, I finally get to move back to my previous department. I can't even begin to tell you how much this thrills the shit out of me. I still have to finish up this month, but after that, I can bid adieu to Suckland forever.

::insert fist pump here::

Anyway, I'm trying to do as little work as possible today, so here's a survey on one of my favorite things in the world: food.

1. What's the last thing you ate?

Half of a (five...five dollar...five dollar) footlong ham and cheese from Subway. I always pick Subway up on Monday mornings on the way to work, and I have half for lunch and half for dinner.

2. What's your favourite cheese?

Mmmm…American cheese, preferably melted between two perfectly toasted pieces of white bread. I also love mizithra cheese sprinkled over spaghetti with browned butter, but I've never been able to find that at the grocery store.

3. What's your favorite fish?

Not big on the seafood, but I’ll eat tuna out of the can (no comments from the peanut gallery) every now and then.

4. What's your favourite fruit?

Dried cherries. They must be desiccated almost beyond recognition or I shan’t touch them.

5. When, if ever, did you start liking olives?

::vomits profusely at mere thought of olives::

6. When, if ever, did you start liking beer?

::vomits profusely at mere thought of beer::

7. When, if ever, did you start liking shellfish?

Not too big on shellfish, although I like tempura shrimp. Also, a couple of weeks ago I went to Panda Express, and the woman behind the counter asked if I wanted a sample of their new honey walnut shrimp. Honey usually makes me want to gag, but everyone in front of me who'd tried it made porny noises and then immediately ordered it, so I figured I'd give it a try. It was so fucking GOOD. I think it would probably be a bit too rich for a full entree, but damn.

8. What was the best thing your mom/dad used to make?

My mom made a turkey tetrazzini that was the shizzle. Daddy-O isn’t much for the cookin’.

9. What's the native specialty of your hometown?

Um…Olive Garden?

10. What's your comfort food?

Anything that’s completely devoid of nutritional value. When I’m in a funk (as opposed to seriously depressed, when I can’t eat at all), my chow-down food of choice is ice cream. And oh, dear lord, if there’s anything much better to soothe a crappy mood than KFC mashed potatoes and gravy, I don’t know what it is. I also love Hostess Sno-Balls, even though they’re the exact texture and heft of a breast implant.

Christ, I’m ghetto.

11. What's your favorite type of chocolate?

Milk chocolate.

12. How do you like your steak?


13. How do you like your burger?

Medium with ketchup, mustard, and pickles only.

14. How do you like your eggs?

Scrambled and fluffy.

15. How do you like your potatoes?

Fried and coated with an obscene amount of salt. I’m also very big on the mashed potatoes, as mentioned before.

16. How do you take your coffee?

I like my coffee like I like my men…sweet and white.

(Disclaimer: above comment is riffing on the famous joke and not to be taken seriously, though that IS how I drink coffee on the very rare occasions that I do.)

17. How do you take your tea?

Not a big tea drinker, although I get the urge for chai or Thai iced tea now and then.

18. What's your favourite mug?

My “Love Is Hell” mug, showing Binky the Rabbit looking down sadly at his cracked heart. Awww.

19. What's your biscuit or cookie of choice?

Petit Ecolier. They’re like shortbread cookies topped off with a thick layer of milk chocolate and hazelnuts. Go to Ralph’s right now and get some. Enjoy your orgasm.

20. What's your ideal breakfast?

When I stayed at the Paramount in NYC, there was a bakery next door that had the most amazing almond croissants; I almost wept from their sheer beauty. So I’d have to say those with a café latte and a side of bacon, or the Bailey's French toast that I had at a hotel in San Simeon.

21. What's your ideal sandwich?

Six inch ham and mustard on Italian from Subway.

22. What's your ideal pizza?

All I ask is that it have lots of cheese and super-thick crust.

23. What's your ideal pie (sweet or savoury)?

Mrs. Wick’s old-fashioned sugar cream pie. Even though it costs a ton to ship them, I’m thinking I may just have to bite the bullet and order a few, because they are the greatest thing on earth. Imagine crème brulee, only fifteen thousand times better.

24. What's your ideal salad?


25. What food do you always like to have in the fridge?

Coke Zero and yogurt.

26. What food do you always like to have in the freezer?

Peanut butter and grape jelly Uncrustables.

27. What food do you always like to have in the cupboard?

Cans of Campbell's spaghetti and ramen. I have the diet of a broke grad student.

28. What spices can you not live without?


29. What sauces can you not live without?

Mustard, alfredo sauce, teriyaki sauce, and A-1 (or “Al sauce” as we call it in my family, because I thought the one was an L when I was little). If you put A-1 sauce on white bread, you have a tasty and nutritious snack!

…Okay, not nutritious. But it’s good in a really ghetto way.

30. Where do you buy most of your food?

Ralph’s or Vons. They're less than a half mile away from each other where I live, so I just pick one at random unless I know one of them has a good sale on something I want.

31. What piece of kitchen equipment could you not live without?

The refrigerator.

32. What meats have you eaten besides cow, pig, and poultry?

Ostrich, which was excellent; tasted like very lean beef.

33. What's the last thing you ate that you picked in the wild?

Well, since candy doesn't grow in the wild...nothing.

34. Arrange the following in order of preference: Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Indian, Thai, Sushi:


I don’t eat sushi or Mexican food.

35. Arrange the following in order of preference: Vodka, Whiskey, Brandy, Rum:


36. Arrange the following in order of preference: Garlic, Basil, Caramel, Lime, Mint, Ginger:

Caramel (fuck, I LOVE caramel!)

For the record, the two flavors I cannot resist in any form are cinnamon and lemon. I would have said caramel as well, but I don't like caramel corn and I'm not huge on flan, so there's that.

37. Arrange the following in order of preference: Pineapple, Orange, Apple, Strawberry, Cherry, Watermelon, Banana:

You’re asking me to rate FRUIT now? Have you not learned that I don’t do healthy? I’m going to rate these by my Life Savers/Jolly Rancher preference.

I hate bananas. Bleh.

39. What's your fast food restaurant of choice, and what do you usually order?

If Subway counts, then a 6” ham and mustard on Italian with a bag of Lay’s salt and vinegar potato chips and a Coke Zero. If you’re talking burger joint, then Wendy’s, and I get the hamburger kid’s meal with a Coke.

40. What's the next thing you'll eat?

I saved the salt and vinegar potato chips from my lunch, so I'll have those on my afternoon break.

41. What do you normally have for breakfast?

Either yogurt (flavors vary) or a brown sugar and cinnamon Bagelful. Occasionally I'll also have a Jimmy Dean D-Lite croissandwich with turkey sausage and egg whites.

42. What do you normally have for lunch?

An Uncrustable and a can of Coke Zero or bottle of water.

43. What do you normally have for dinner?

On Mondays, I have the rest of my Subway sandwich from lunch. The rest of the week I usually have a TV dinner, soup, or spaghetti. Weekends vary since G and I eat out or get something on Saturday that will also serve as Sunday's dinner (pizza, Chinese food, barbecue).

44. What do you normally have for snacks?

Pretzels or Fiber One oats and caramel bars (but only one a day or I fart like a Clydesdale).

45. The four veggies you like most are:

Potatoes, corn, and…that’s it.

46. What fruit and vegetable do you like the least?

Fruit: bananas because they have those icky strings, or durian, because they stink so much. Vegetable: oh, we all know it’s the evil monstrosity known as the onion.

47. What’s your favorite chocolate bar?

As far as something you can get in any drugstore, Milky Way. They also have a new caramel flavor that's the bomb dot com. Fancy: Vosges Gianduja (milk chocolate, hazelnut paste, and almonds) or Naga (sweet Indian curry, coconut, and milk chocolate) bars. Mid-range: Cadbury Top Deck bars, which are milk chocolate with little pillows of white chocolate on top. Even my work chum J, who ordinarily hates white chocolate, loves those.

48. What’s your favorite dessert?

Excluding the elusive old-fashioned sugar cream pie, crème brulee or bread pudding.

49. What’s your favorite drink?

Coke Zero. It used to be Coke Classic, but I very rarely drink it anymore, and when I do, it tastes like syrup. It's not so bad in restaurants because it's more watered down. I also drink at least 60 ounces of water a day. Yes, I pee a lot.

50. What’s your favorite snack?

Considering that I don't have a sweet tooth but a sweet jaw, you may be surprised to learn that I prefer salty stuff when I'm in a snacky mood.

51. What's your favorite gum?

Orbit bubblemint.

52. What’s your favorite ice cream flavour?

Archer Farms sea salt and caramel pretzel. Jesus take the wheel!

53. What’s your favorite potato chip flavour?

Salt and vinegar. Oh yeah.

54. What’s your favourite soup?

Greek avgolemono soup. It's chicken, orzo pasta, and lemon. Whenever I feel a cold coming on, I go get a bowl and I swear it nips that shit right in the bud. It's probably psychological, but whatever works, and besides, it's tasty.

55. What food do you hate?

There’s about a thousand of them, but onions are and always will be at the top of the list.

56. What’s your favourite restaurant?

Cafe Fiore. Best bread pudding in the world!

Monday, March 01, 2010

media update: February

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


1. Little Face* by Sophie Hannah: A young mother leaves her baby daughter Florence in the care of her husband while she runs a quick errand. When she gets back, she looks in the crib and sees a different baby than the one she left behind. Her husband and domineering, wealthy mother-in-law insist that she's suffering from postpartum psychosis and that the baby is Florence. Undeterred, she goes to the police, who don't believe her either. The tension gets ratcheted up to almost excruciating levels, and I stayed up an hour past my bedtime to finish it. I was tired as hell the next morning at work, but it was worth it because this book is a corker. I really enjoyed The Wrong Mother when I read it last month, and this one is even better. Great stuff; Sophie Hannah has gone onto my short list of authors whose work I will always seek out.

2. Breaking Out of Bedlam* by Leslie Larson: Cora Sledge is an obese, feisty 82-year-old woman who's addicted to junk food, cigarettes, and pain meds. (So basically me in 44 years.) Against her will, her children put her in an assisted living facility. Her granddaughter gives her a journal as a gift, and although she initially scoffs at it, soon she can't stop writing in it. She talks about the tragedies that befell her when she was younger, her daily life at the home, and the new resident who catches her eye. Funny and freshly original; I loved this book, and I loved Cora.

3. The Apple* by Michel Faber: The author wrote The Crimson Petal and the White, one of my ten favorite books of all time, so when I heard about this short story collection featuring several of its characters, I had to get my hands on it. At the risk of sounding hokey as shit, I was very happy to spend some more time in Sugar's world.


1. The Aqua Net Diaries by Jennifer Niven: A memoir about adolescence in 1980's Indiana. Since I was a teenager in the 80's (yes, I know, I'm old, shut up or I'll glue your buttcheeks together with my Polident) and lived in Indiana for a couple of years, this brought back a lot of memories for me. Pixie boots! Multiple Swatches worn on one wrist! (My Christmas list one year consisted solely of different types of Swatches.) Hook's drug stores, where I used to go for Archie comics and Toffiay! And oh my god, she even mentions WICK'S PIES, purveyors of old-fashioned sugar cream pie, my absolute favorite food of all time. If you get a slice heated just so, it's like getting primo southmouth from [insert your most lusted-after celebrity here] while angels sing and unicorns gently nuzzle your cheek. It's a good thing I go to Indiana maybe once every 20 years, or that shit would be my black tar heroin.

Where was I? Oh yeah, back to the book. It wasn't particularly good, but it was a fun, somewhat melancholy trip down Memory Lane. But---although some things are universal, like first love and not feeling like you fit in---I don't think people who were born after 1975 or thereabouts would enjoy it nearly as much.

2. Sinner Takes All by Tera Patrick: This memoir follows the porn actress from her start as a Valium-addicted teen model working in Japan through her career in the adult industry. Although I thought this book was fascinating, one section bothered me. She lost her virginity at the age of 14, while she was drunk off her ass, to a much older man. She talks about the rape (although she doesn't call it that, but come on) in a detached manner, and then says (I'm paraphrasing since I already returned the book to the library) "But if it hadn't happened, I wouldn't have millions of dollars." That is a dangerous as hell idea to put across to some of the vulnerable women/teenage girls who may be reading her book. I have absolutely nothing against porn (well, the kind involving consenting adult humans), but for every millionaire like Tera Patrick or Jenna Jameson, there are at least a hundred who don't succeed. Don't make it sound like porn is a good way to profit from being sexually abused, for Christ's sake.


1. MPD Psycho vol. 6 by Eiji Otsuka and Shou Tajima

2. Rin-Ne vol. 2 by Rumiko Takahashi

3. Kaze Hikaru vol. 15-16 by Taeko Watanabe

4. Wild Ones vols. 7-8 by Kiyo Fujiwara

5. Baby & Me vol. 9 by Marimo Ragawa

6. Otomen vol. 5 by Aya Kanno

7. Lulu & Mitzy: Best Laid Plans* by S. Eddy Bell

8. Black Bird vol. 3 by Kanoko Sakurakoji

9. Radiator Days* by Lucy Knisley

10. Burnout by Rebecca Donner

11. High School Debut vol. 13 by Kazune Kawahara


1. Zombieland*: After the zombie apocalypse hits, a teenage boy sets out to find a safe haven. Along the way, he joins up with an especially enthusiastic zombie killer (a hysterical Woody Harrelson) and two scheming sisters. As far as zomcoms go, this is just about perfect, thanks to a wildly funny script and generous splashes of gore.

2. Gamer: Hyperviolent, grim, deafeningly loud action flick about a futuristic world where people can control other people in massive online environments. One of the worlds is called Slayers, where death row inmates fight for their freedom. I was expecting this to be dumb fun, like Crank 2, but it was just dumb. Marginally redeemed by Gerard Butler's biceps and some inventive visual touches.

3. Inglourious Basterds*: In this alternate history version of WWII, a group of Jewish-American soldiers, recruited by good ol' boy Aldo Raine, hunts down Nazis. Some scenes ran a little long, but it's an enjoyable movie, packed full of Tarantino touches. And Christophe Waltz, as the particularly nasty Col. Landa, is aptly named because he dances away with every scene he's in.

4. Ong Bak 2: As a slavering Tony Jaa fangirl, I really wanted to love this movie, but aside from a boffo sequence near the end, there just wasn't enough hardcore asskicking to suit my needs.

Side note: One of my coworkers asked me what I was doing for Valentine's Day, and I said, "Well, G and I are going to get takeout, watch a martial arts movie, and play video games." She sniffed and said, "Make him do something YOU want to do!" and I said, "Um, that IS what I want to do, whore."

...okay, I didn't add the "whore".

5. A Perfect Getaway*: Steve Zahn and Milla Jovovich play newlyweds whose Hawaiian vacation is spoiled by reports of honeymooners being butchered. As they hike along a grueling trail, they pair up with a gregarious guy and his sweet girlfriend, but things take a turn for the worse. A wildly fun thriller that was considerably better than I expected.

6. The House of the Devil: In this loving homage to 80's horror, a broke college student takes a babysitting job at a house deep in the woods. But when she gets there, the man of the house tells her there isn't actually a child; rather, while he and his wife are at a lunar eclipse viewing party, she'll be taking care of his mother-in-law...who, he warns, likes her privacy. The tension creeps up to almost unbearable levels, and there are a couple of genuinely shocking moments, one of which almost made me shit a kitten. I wasn't too jazzed about the ending, so I'm not giving it a star, but if you were weaned on 80's horror like I was, you'll eat it up.

7. Law Abiding Citizen: Clyde Shelton is a man whose wife and child are murdered during a home invasion. When one of the killers receives a reduced sentence in exchange for testifying against the other one, Clyde takes matters into his own hands. Standard fare aside from a few clever moments.

8. The Invention of Lying*: Ricky Gervais plays a man who lives in a world where nobody can lie; for example, when he picks his dream girl (Jennifer Garner) up for a date, she cheerfully tells him that she had just been masturbating, and he responds, "That makes me think of your vagina." But one day he realizes that he has the ability to lie, and he proceeds to milk it for all it's worth. It's incredibly funny, and about halfway through the plot takes a breathtakingly audacious turn that I refuse to spoil. Kudos to Warner Brothers for having the stones to release this movie, and to Ricky Gervais for writing it.

9. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra: Oh, Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Considering that I sat through this movie solely because you were in it, never doubt the depths of my love.

...well, to be fair, it was actually better than I expected, although in order to be worse than I thought it would be, someone would have had to crawl out of the TV screen, a la Samara in The Ring, and punch me in the face.

10. MirrorMask: In this Neil Gaiman fable, a teenage girl finds herself in a strange world, where she must find the MirrorMask and help save a kingdom from the evil Queen of Shadows. Visually stunning, but sloooooooooooooooow. I saw this with G and C, and we were all fidgeting by the halfway mark.

11. The Hurt Locker*: A searing movie about a cocky bomb disposal expert working in Iraq. Almost painfully intense at times, and Jeremy Renner is perfect in the leading role. My money's on this one to take home the Best Picture Oscar.


As longtime readers know, I'm a rabid Silent Hill fangirl and have been for over a decade, so I was anxious to play the latest installment despite some tepid reviews. G, who knows better than anyone in the world what flips my skirt, bought me a Wii console and a copy of Silent Hill: Shattered Memories for Valentine's Day, and he set everything up as I danced happily around the room.

SH:SM is an alternate version of the first game, and starts in the same fashion. Harry Mason crashes his car, and after he comes to, he realizes that his young daughter Cheryl is missing. He sets out to find her, but Silent Hill isn't going to make that easy. Occasionally, his journey is interrupted when Silent Hill switches to its nightmarish version (here represented by ice, as opposed to the rust of the previous games), and he must flee from creatures that chase him down. He doesn't get any weapons---not even the marginally useful lead pipe from the original game---and all he can do is run for safety.

Now THIS is where the game ticked me off. The nightmare world is EXTREMELY difficult to get around, and because the excellent mapping system of the previous games has been replaced by a fairly ineffective GPS on Harry's phone, I died numerous times. Oh, did I mention that there are absolutely no healing items? All you can do is shake off the monsters when they grab you (and thank god for the safety strap on the Wiimote, or else that thing probably would have gone flying into G's TV screen) and try to get to safety before you're completely fucked up. G was absolutely furious during these scenes and railed against the poor game design; interestingly enough, my friend's boyfriend had a similar reaction. My theory is that when it comes to the "fight or flight" response, men are more likely to fight and women are more likely to run, so that might be why guys hate that aspect of the game and women just kind of shrug and try again. It wasn't enough to ruin SH:SM for me, but frankly, I thought it was a piss poor choice.

Another downside to this game: I was never really scared. There were plenty of disturbing moments, like the way the creatures would kneel down and stroke you when you died, but nothing actually made my stomach seize up. After SH4, this is only the second SH game that didn't have at least one moment that made me want to curl up in the fetal position and rock back and forth. (I'm not counting jump scares, by the way.) In my opinion, a Silent Hill game that doesn't induce terror in the player instantly gets a few points knocked off its final score.

But enough of the negatives and on to the positives.

One thing that I absolutely loved about this game was the psychological profiling. Occasionally the game will cut to a psychiatric session in first person mode. The doctor administers a series of tests, including inkblots, coloring, a parable where you must rank the characters in order of guilt, and a true/false questionnaire that asks you about everything from sexual roleplay to alcohol. The answers you give affect certain aspects of the game, which adds lots of replay value. And there's the famous Silent Hill UFO joke ending, which was particularly funny this time. (James shoutout for the mothereffin' win!)

Another thing that rocked my face off was the use of the Wiimote. You control your flashlight using the Wiimote, and it's so immersive that at one point I picked up the instruction manual...and tried to train the "flashlight" on the page! And when you make or receive calls on Harry's phone, you hold the Wiimote to your ear, just like you would do with a real phone. I've read that shaking off monsters is MUCH easier on the PSP/PS2, but other than that, I think the Wii version is the way to go because the controls are so cool.

Akira Yamaoka, the composer who's been with this series from the beginning, has unfortunately left Konami, so SH:SM is his swan song. As always, his soundtrack is perfect, including everything from a melancholy version of "Always on My Mind" to an instrumental that would make Angelo Badalamenti jealous. And I won't say anything else about the story, but I can't be the only one who teared up at the end.

So to recap, SH:SM has some deep flaws, but any Silent Hill fan worth his or her salt still needs to check it out.