Friday, October 28, 2011

kids today

I forgot my lunch today because I am dumb, so I decided to walk over to the nearby shopping center and pick up some Chinese food.

Now, before I get to the meat of this story, a bit of explanation. There's a high school just down the street from the Cube Farm, and they often cut through our parking lot to get to the shopping center, especially around lunch time.

Anyway, I wound up walking behind a group of teenage boys, probably 15 years old or thereabouts, though I'm terrible at guessing ages so for all I know they were coworkers taking casual day to an extreme. I dunno, I didn't have time to carbon date them.

I'm going to be totally honest here: hordes of teenagers, especially boys, make me nervous as all fuck. You might think that's because I'm an Old, and that's partially true, but I was scared of them even when I was their age. It's just that when you throw together a group of testosterone-fueled boys with constant boners who want to show off for their friends, not much good will come of it.

And oh, these kids! Here's a partial transcript of their conversation.

"Dude, so how much do you think it would cost to get someone to shave my butthole?"

"YOUR butthole, you hairy swamp-ass motherfucker? Not enough money in the world!"

"Aw, fuck you. How much to get you to eat one of my dingleberries?"

"Yeah, um, speaking of not enough money in the world. But I'd eat one of [female name I didn't recognize; probably a classmate]'s for free!"

It continued on in this charming vein until I got to the Chinese place. I placed my order, sat down for a few minutes, and scrolled through my phone while I waited. When they called my name, I got up, paid, grabbed my food, and turned to walk out the door...

...just as they walked in.

Great, I thought, but then one of them actually stood aside and held the door open for me! I was stunned, but managed to compose myself long enough to say, "Oh, thanks!"

"No prob," he said, and as the door began to slowly close behind me, I heard one of his friends derisively snort and say "Pussy."

"It doesn't make you a pussy to hold a door open for a lady, it makes you a fuckin' BOSS."

Seriously, I wanted to go back inside and get his parents' phone number so I could call them and say, "Hey, your son's got a filthy mouth, but he's all right! You done good." Between him and the teenager who stood up for me at Barnes & Noble a couple of months ago, I think maybe we don't give teenagers enough credit these days.

I'm still gonna yell if I see them on my lawn, though.

Friday, October 21, 2011

best of 2011: miscellany

It's a little early for this list, but I'm kind of trapped in my cube because they're filming an episode of The Office here again, and if you want to go ANYWHERE in the fucking building other than the bathroom, some officious security guard or PA gets all up in your face and it really isn't worth it. So I will be skipping my usual Friday lunch trip to the library and writing this instead.

A few notes before I begin:

* Not all of these things were first created in 2011, but since that's when I first watched/ate/smelled them, they belong on this list.

* I played so many terrific video games this year that they'll be getting their own list later, along with novels, nonfiction, manga/graphic novels, and movies. I'll probably start posting those in late November.

* As always, your mileage may vary.

So here we have a vanilla ice cream bar that's coated in chocolate.

"BFD," you sarcastically snort. "Ooooh, vanilla with a chocolate coating! That's so edgy!"



On top of the chocolate is a gloriously gooey caramel coating, and THEN MORE CHOCOLATE. That's right, it's chocolate, then caramel, then chocolate, and then vanilla bean ice cream. Three layers of delicious on top of yummy.

Wilfred is a strange little show. In the first episode, Ryan (Elijah Wood) tries to commit suicide by overdosing on antidepressants. When his doorbell rings, he groggily answers it and his cute neighbor asks if he can watch her dog Wilfred for a couple of days. Ryan is confused...understandably so, because Wilfred is actually a man in a dog suit, but for some reason, nobody else sees him that way. Wilfred becomes a mentor of sorts for Ryan, helping him come out of his shell and embrace life, though not always in the healthiest or most altruistic way. Certainly not for everybody, but I think it's worth a look.

In Bob's Burgers, the title character runs a hamburger restaurant with his strange family: wife Linda, awkward daughter Tina (my favorite character), goofy son Gene, and borderline psychotic daughter Louise (perfectly voiced by Kristen Schaal). The animation is nothing special, but it's an oddly endearing and genuinely funny show. G and I were happy to hear that it got picked up for a second season despite middling ratings, especially since it's much funnier than The Simpsons was last season. (Sorry, Simpsons, I love you and will watch you to the bitter end, but you've kind of been sucking for the last few years.)


Of all the weird things on my list, this new TV show just may be the weirdest.

The Harmon family---husband Ben, wife Vivien, and daughter Violet---move to Los Angeles from Boston looking for a new start after Ben's infidelity and Vivien's miscarriage. Their dream home quickly becomes a nightmare, thanks to its long history of murdered inhabitants, creepy neighbors, a latex-clad incubus, and something very strange in the basement.

It may be a bit premature to put this on the list; I've only seen two episodes so far, and Ryan Murphy's projects have a habit of shitting the bed. (I stopped watching Glee after the first season, and although I watched every episode of Nip/Tuck, it became a real slog near the end.) But so far, it's riveting, unnerving, and nuttier than a squirrel turd. I kind of love it.

I love anime and I love zombies, and it turns out that they're two great tastes that taste great together!

Highschool of the Dead follows a group of high school students as they fight their way to safety through hordes of zombies and assorted psychopaths, including a teacher who's one of the creepiest fucking characters I've seen in a long time. If you're offended by violence or seriously intense fanservice, stay far away; otherwise, this is a gory little treat. (Available on Netflix instant watch and Hulu.)

Vanilla bean ice cream? Sure, but it's a little boring by itself. What's that? Salty caramel swirl? Ooh, now you're talking! And... way. Did I hear you correctly? Fudge-covered potato chip clusters that miraculously retain their crunch?


We're pretty tardy to this party, but G and I recently started watching The Wire after Alan Moore said it was the best TV show ever made. We're not far enough into it (about halfway through the second season) to agree or disagree with Mr. Moore, but so far it's really good. The acting and writing in this police drama are first rate, and despite his lifestyle---by which I mean crime, of course, not being gay---Omar is by far my favorite character, y'heard?

The first time I tried this, I thought "Whoo, way too tangy for me!" But apparently it's an acquired taste, because now I love this stuff. And joy of joys---my local Target has started carrying it for $1.50 less per box than Whole Foods charges! Score!

I got a sample of this perfume recently, and holy freakin' WOW is it wonderful. It smells like a really upscale French bakery, with notes of toasted bread, spices, sandalwood, and licorice. Only the $120 price tag is keeping me from buying a full bottle immediately. For now, I'll carefully hoard my sample for special occasions and sweet daydreams.

If loving this Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom meets Jackass hybrid is wrong, I don't want to be right. Seriously, there's just something about watching Steve-O get bitten on the ass by assorted critters and Chris Pontius happily romping naked through a stampeding herd of wildebeest that tickles my funny bone.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

reasons to be cheerful

1. This weekend, G, C, and I are going to Little Tokyo, where we will partake of curry, ogle scantily clad figurines, and purchase snack foods and magazines that come with tooth-meltingly cute freebies.

2. Look what's coming out next week!

"But C, didn't you already play Dead Rising 2 last year?" you ask.

Why yes, I did, and here's a cookie for you to eat while I school you. Dead Rising 2: Off the Record is a retelling of the events of DR2 as told from Frank West's perspective. Yes, it's a clever ploy for Capcom to milk $40 out of us, but I ain't even care because they're adding lots of stuff: new bosses, new areas, new weapon combos, and hopefully lots of new frilly outfits for Frank to try on and coo over. I may very well paste 'em.

3. This:

As much as I wish this was real, it's actually a wicked parody by Gallery of the Absurd. For some reason, Paris Hilton is immensely popular in Japan; Sanrio even released a limited edition Paris Hilton Hello Kitty doll. Japan, Y U no shun her?????

4. Finally, my main reason for even starting this entry in the first place: Twinkletwat, one of my absolute least favorite coworkers, resigned today! My animosity towards her began several years ago, when she dared to disturb me as I was trying to eat in the break room in order to ask me a work-related question. Bitch, do you not SEE the fucking sandwich in my hand? If I'm off the clock, you do not fucking bother me with work shit. It's not like I'm a doctor or nuclear safety inspector. I guarantee whatever question she had could wait 30 minutes.

But even I, a notorious grudge holder, probably would have let that go eventually if not for her continued dedication to pissing me off. She kept bringing in her yappy Chihuahua. When I was off sick, she was my designated backup and I returned to find that she hadn't touched a thing. She wore UGGS...non-ironically. When she laughed, she sounded EXACTLY like Barney Rubble. Her husband would call her on her work phone, and if she was away from her desk it would bounce to me, and as soon as I did my phone spiel he'd immediately hang up without a word, which is just breathtakingly rude. (And I know it was him because his name would come up on the caller ID.)

She's been off for a couple of weeks now, and today we were told that she had resigned effective immediately. The scuttlebutt is that she was given the choice to get fired or quit, and understandably she took the latter option. Allegedly, she'd been drinking on the job, which wasn't news to me because she ALWAYS smelled like either booze or mouthwash when I was near her; what was news to me was that she allegedly drove for the company vanpool while under the influence. If that's true, then I gotta say I wish my company had fired her outright, because that's just not cool, but a) I don't actually know whether that happened or not and b) not my call to make.

So long, Twinkletwat, and eat a bag of dicks! If you did absolutely nothing else for me in the 6 years we've been working together---and let's face it, you didn't---at least you made my day.

Monday, October 03, 2011

media update: September

I've been using Netflix's streaming service to catch up on episodes of South Park recently, and they sent me an e-mail with the subject line "How was the picture quality of 'Eat, Pray, Queef'?" I laughed so hard I almost wet 'em.

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


1. The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka: This slender novel follows a group of Japanese "picture brides" who arrive in America hoping to find a better life and, in most cases, not succeeding.

2. The Average American Male by Chad Kultgen: In this deeply unpleasant book, the unnamed protagonist is a cynical Los Angeles douchebag who constantly bemoans his girlfriend Casey's fat ass, lusts after other women, and masturbates relentlessly. He falls for another woman named Alyna and proceeds to ruin Casey's life, at one point even scheming to make her have a miscarriage. This shitty waste of paper makes the loathsome works of Tucker Max look like Gloria Steinem in comparison.

3. Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close: A collection of short stories that follows a group of women as they spend their twenties and thirties in New York City, struggling through their first real jobs and their first real relationships. I enjoyed it while I was reading it, but it didn't really stick with me when I was done.

4. The Burning Soul* by John Connolly: Private detective Charlie Parker receives a strange client in the form of Randall Haight, a man being harassed by an anonymous person who knows about a crime Haight committed when he was young. Things get even more complicated by the disappearance of a young girl in the area, and all sorts of ugliness comes to light. I was worried that John Connolly was losing his touch, but this is his best work in a long time. Yay!

5. The Night Circus* by Erin Morgenstern: In the late 19th century, two illusionists named Celia and Marco become unwitting participants in a game that can only end badly for one of them. But as they live and work in the night circus of the title, they begin to fall in love. I think the characters could have been fleshed out more, and there's a Japanese character who comes dangerously close to the Inscrutable Asian stereotype, but overall this is a gripping novel with some gorgeous descriptions of the circus.


1. Tokyo on Foot* by Florent Chavouet: A gorgeously illustrated graphic memoir of the author's time in Japan, including detailed maps of various neighborhoods and sketches of people and things he saw along the way. If you love Japan, this is a must read.

2. The Last of the Live Nude Girls by Sheila McClear: The author's account of working in one of the last remaining Times Square peepshows. Occasionally tedious, but more often fascinating in a trainwrecky kind of way.


1. 20th Century Boys* vols. 13-14 by Naoki Urasawa

2. Kamisama Kiss vols. 3-4 by Julietta Suzuki

3. A Bride's Story by Kaoru Mori

4. Spider-Man and the Black Cat: The Evil That Men Do by Kevin Smith and Terry Dodson

5. Black Bird vol. 10 by Kanoko Sakurakoji

6. Library Wars vol. 6 by Kiiro Yumi

7. Kaze Hikaru vol. 19 by Taeko Watanabe

8. Seiho Boys' High School* vol. 7 by Kaneyoshi Izumi

9. Grand Guignol Orchestra vol. 4 by Kaori Yuki

10. Otomen vol. 11 by Aya Kanno

11. With the Light vol. 8 by Keiko Tobe


1. Rio: Blu, a macaw who can't fly, has spent most of his life in Minnesota with his beloved owner Linda. But a Brazilian ornithologist named Tulio begs Linda to bring Blu to Rio so he can mate with Jewel, a feisty female; hijinks ensue. Cute and colorful, but not particularly funny, and the voice work (with the exception of a deliciously campy performance by Flight of the Conchord's Jemaine Clement as an evil cockatoo) isn't anything to write home about either.

Oh, and although this movie was underwhelming, I have to give it props for something: the scene where (SPOILER ALERT if anyone gives a shit) Linda changes into a skimpy costume at Carnaval. As she's walking towards Tulio, the camera pans up her body, and I was thinking "Oh great, now he's going to think she's really hot just because she dressed up and took off her glasses." Which, as a woman who will have to wear glasses the rest of her natural life because she can't wear contacts and the mere thought of Lasik makes her want to run screaming down the street, PISSES ME OFF every time I see that tired bullshit in a movie. "Wow, wearing glasses made her a total dog, but she's smoking hot now!" Nope; they left her glasses on and his jaw still drops at the sight of her. A small thing, but much appreciated.

2. The Adjustment Bureau: Matt Damon stars as a congressman who falls in love with a ballerina after a chance encounter, but a mysterious group of men wants to keep them apart. It's a hard movie to describe without spoiling anything, so I'll just say it was entertaining enough and leave it at that.

3. Hesher: My perennial crush object Joseph Gordon-Levitt (though he looks like shit in this movie) plays the title character, a heavy metal- and fire-loving asshole who insinuates himself into the lives of a grieving young boy and his family. A weird little film, but not without its merits, most notably Devin Brochu's excellent and decidedly non-cutesy performance as the kid.

4. Thor*: When Thor pisses off his father, Odin banishes him to Earth. But thanks to his scheming brother Loki, Thor might just have a chance to redeem himself after all. The plot is kind of goofy, and some of the scenes in Asgard look like airbrush paintings on the side of a 70's stoner van, but it's a fun combination of a classic "fish out of water" story and superhero action, and I really enjoyed it. Plus:

Jesus take the wheel!

5. Paul: Two British geeks on vacation in America decide to visit Area 51, and much to their surprise, they run into a real alien on the way. After getting over their initial terror, they agree to help "Paul" escape the FBI and get back home. It had some really funny moments, and Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are always a pleasure to watch, but it dragged on for far too long.

6. Hanna: Hanna is a teenage girl who's been trained since childhood to be an elite assassin. When she gets the opportunity to kill the CIA operative who murdered her mother, Hanna goes on the hunt. I was hoping Hanna would be the love child of Hit Girl and Jason Bourne, but unfortunately this wasn't as good as I was led to believe.


Ten years after a fire killed her entire family, Alice Liddell has been released from an insane asylum, but her demons haven't been fully exorcised. Seeking comfort, she returns to the Wonderland of her imagination, but it's been twisted almost beyond recognition. Armed with a rapid-fire pepper grinder, the Vorpal Blade, and a hobbyhorse that she wields like a club, Alice is determined to find out the truth once and for all.

Alice: Madness Returns is a combination platformer and action game. In each level, Alice jumps from platform to platform (some of them invisible unless she uses "shrink sense", which renders them visible for a very short period of time; however, you can't jump while using shrink sense so your timing better be good!), scurries through keyholes, and fights off enemies ranging from Card Knights to grotesquely deformed dolls. Along the way, she recovers memories that start to piece together the dark truth of what happened that fateful night.

The absolute best thing about this game is the art design. Each chapter of Wonderland has a different theme, such as a neighborhood of decrepit dollhouses filled with Mark Rydenesque furniture and mangled toys and an underwater theater populated by can-can dancing oysters and a malevolent Carpenter. In my favorite level, the Mysterious East, Alice jumps from fans to mahjongg tiles while Chinese calligraphy drifts from the sky and paper carp leap through the waves below her. And Alice's costumes change to match each level, too: a kimono-print dress, a shimmering dress of fish scales, and so on. Even the center of the bow in back of the dress changes, from an eyeless doll's head to steampunk gears. It's a small touch that adds a lot. I liked this outfit best:

(If I could sew worth two shits, I'd totally make that dress for Halloween.)

As far as the story goes, A:MR is pretty damn dark. At one point in the "real" world, a straitjacketed Alice staggers through the halls of a mental asylum that's right out of Silent Hill (and has music to match). And the story has some really disturbing thematic elements, so play at your own risk.

A:MR has mediocre voice acting, some irritating glitches, and a few sections made unfairly difficult by a bitchy camera (though the game is generally not all that hard, especially after freakin' Catherine), but they're a small price to pay in order to feast on that gorgeous art design and unsettling story. So if you're willing to tolerate a few bugs at your mad tea party, sit down and enjoy.