Wednesday, November 30, 2011

media update: November

Oh my god, if today was a woman I would kick her in the fupa. It has been one of the most frustrating work days I've ever had in my LIFE, and I'm not entirely sure how I've managed to keep from bursting into tears yet. I think I'll recuperate tonight with my American Horror Story backlog and a big glass of wine. Too bad the XBOX is at G's, because I'd love to bust some headshots in a bandit or two right about now. Yay catharsis.

But on the plus side, thanks to this entry, I managed to complete NaNoJoMo! 30 entries in 30 days, booooooy! Sure, I did a lot of padding with lists and whatnot, but whatever. I don't think I'll ever do it again, but it was fun.

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


1. The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor* by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga: I decided not to give this a proper review because I don't know when or if this particular character will appear on the show, so I don't want to spoil anything. But if you're a fan of the graphic novels, you're sure to enjoy this as well. Some of the writing is a bit stiff, but overall it was a good "potato chip" book, in that I kept telling myself I'd stop at a particular point and then say "nah, one more chapter".

2. 11/22/63* by Stephen King: Jake Epping is an English teacher living in Maine. One night, his friend Al tells him that there's a portal to the past in back of his diner. Al's been using it to go back and buy beef at 1958 prices, but now that he's terminally ill, he wants Jake to use the portal to go back in time and prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Jake, understandably, thinks Al has lost his mind, but it turns out that Al's telling the truth. Jake decides to go back in time, not only to stop the assassination but to change the sad fate of one of his GED students. But a burgeoning romance with a lovely young librarian and the reluctance of the past to be changed will test Jake in ways he can't even begin to imagine.

Not too many people can top Stephen King at his best, and although 11/22/63 isn't remotely scary, it's an example of King at the top of his game. I had a few minor quibbles, like how the phrase "the past is obdurate" pops up about eight hundred times, but this sprawling behemoth of a book kept me captivated until the end. And oh, that final chapter.


1. God, No!: Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales* by Penn Jillette: The famous magician talks about atheism and what it means to him, as well as interspersing anecdotes about his career. He's not particularly nice to agnostics; he basically calls us spineless pussies who can't commit. Despite that, I loved this book. He makes some great points, and he's really funny; one chapter in which he visits a gay bathhouse made me laugh so hard I was gasping for breath.

2. Try This by Danyelle Freeman: This guide to ethnic cuisine is triple X-rated food porn, although the author comes across as really unlikeable. (And it's not just me; there's a review on Amazon that's so scathing I gotta assume they have personal beef with Ms. Freeman.) Tip o' the hat to the book designer, because the cover, which shows the flags of different countries made out of their signature foods, is awesome.


1. 20th Century Boys* vol. 17 by Naoki Urasawa

2. Highschool of the Dead vol. 4 by Daisuke Sato and Shouji Sato

3. A Bride's Story vol. 2 by Kaoru Mori

4. Kamisama Kiss vol. 5 by Julietta Suzuki

5. Chew vol. 4 by John Layman and Rob Guillory

6. Batwoman: Elegy* by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III: Okay, did everybody know Batwoman is a lesbian but me? At any rate, this has absolutely gorgeous color and artwork...which it should, since J.H. Williams III worked on Alan Moore's Promethea, and I'm not exaggerating when I say that had some museum quality art in it.

7. We Were There* vol. 13 by Yuuki Obata: This volume actually HURT to read. If you've been following this series from the beginning, I highly recommend having tissues at the ready.

8. Black Bird vol. 11 by Kanako Sakurakoji

9. The Death-Ray by Daniel Clowes

10. iZombie: uVampire by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred

11. Rin-Ne vol. 7 by Rumiko Takahashi

12. Hark! A Vagrant* by Kate Beaton


1. Horrible Bosses*: Driven to the brink of despair by their awful bosses, three friends hatch a scheme to take care of the problem. Very funny and raunchy, and Jennifer Aniston steals the show as a predatory dentist with a supremely filthy mouth.

2. Captain America: During WWII, scrawny Steve Rogers dreams of joining the army and fighting for his country, but he keeps getting rejected. He finally gets his chance when a secret research project turns him into Captain America, the only superhero who's so squeaky clean that he makes Superman look like a debauched libertine. Still, it's a fun popcorn flick, and it nicely sets the stage for the upcoming Avengers movie.

3. Fast Five: Achingly gorgeous Paul Walker and emo beefcake Vin Diesel return for more fast cars and delightful 'splosions, and this time, they're being chased by a federal agent (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) who's determined to stop their shenanigans. Much better than it ought to be, thanks to some fun action and an awesome car chase near the end of the movie.

4. Cars 2: Well, I suppose even Pixar can fuck up once in a while.

5. Batman: Year One*: Bruce Wayne assumes the Batman identity in this excellent animated adaptation of Frank Miller's graphic novel. There's also a really good Catwoman short (penned by Paul Dini!) on the DVD, so this is well worth checking out for comic book fans.

6. Green Lantern: Test pilot Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) becomes a Green Lantern, which is sort of like an alien cop devoted to protecting the universe. It's pretty dumb, and the special effects are underwhelming, but I have to give it credit for something. We had the disc paused to make lunch, and I said to G, "God, one thing that has always bugged me about superhero movies is [spoiler]." And then shortly after we restarted the movie, they addressed that exact issue, so props for that at least.

7. Super 8*: Six young friends are shooting a homemade zombie movie when they accidentally catch a train crash on tape. It turns out that there's much more to the crash, and it could completely devastate their entire town. I thought it fell apart a little at the end, but I really enjoyed it, and I don't remember the last time I saw such natural child actors in a movie. Their dialogue and interactions are absolutely spot on.

8. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: In this completely unnecessary sequel, Captain Jack Sparrow is searching for the Fountain of Youth. I saw this less than a week ago and can barely remember a thing about it, so there's a glowing endorsement for you.


1. "You're the Best Around" (South Park version) by Joe Esposito

2. "Push It" by Jessie and the Toy Boys: When G and I went disco bowling, they played this song (and #3) and I knew it would be a worthy addition to my iTunes "Cleanin'" playlist. I had no idea what this one was called, though, so I had to Google "dick like Marlon Brando" because those were the only lyrics I could remember. So that was a fun addition to my browsing history.

3. "Sexy and I Know It" by LMFAO

4. "Carry On My Wayward Son" by Kansas

5. "Something Sweet" by The Allies

6. "Why Do Good Girls Like Bad Boys?" by Angel and the Reruns

7. "Girls Like Me" by Bonnie Hayes and the Wild Combo

8. "Someday, Someway" by Marshall Crenshaw

9. "Eaten by the Monster of Love" by Sparks

10. "Mini-Skirted" by Sparks

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

best of 2011: video games

First of all, thanks to everybody for their fashion advice on my last post. You're the bestest! But I can't get too girly or I'll lose my street cred, so here are my 10 favorite video games of 2011.

A few notes before I begin:

  • Aside from the first game listed, these aren't necessarily in preferential order.
  • Some of these games are available for numerous consoles, but I used the box art for the system I used.
  • Not all of these were first released in 2011, but that's when I first played them.
  • Video games receive ratings just like movies, so I'll tell you why these games earned theirs. (Servicey!)
  • I've already written in depth reviews for most of these games in my media updates, so these will be shorter. The month in parentheses denotes the month in which I originally reviewed it in case you want to go back and take a gander at the full review.
  • For those of you wondering, I asked G what his favorite game of the year was, and with absolutely no hesitation he said "Batman: Arkham City." He added that it came damn close to being his favorite game of all time, but because they took away any story-based reason to start a New Game+, Mass Effect 2 remains his favorite. I didn't play B:AC myself, but I watched G play and it's pretty freakin' boss. Paul Dini script + Mark Hamill as the Joker = profit!
  • And as always, your mileage may vary.

After escaping from a mental hospital located on the spaceship where he works, Isaac Clarke isn't exactly home free. Not only does he have to deal with monsters known as Necromorphs, but the few uninfected humans on the ship are all members of Unitology, a cult that worships a marker of alien origin and wants to capture Isaac for nefarious purposes. And why does his dead (and very angry) girlfriend keep talking to him?

One of the few sequels that surpasses its predecessor on every level, Dead Space 2 is fucking terrifying. It's the second most frightening game I've ever played, and I'm not ashamed to admit I almost wet 'em a few times. Even before we'd finished the game, I knew DS2 was going to secure a place in my top ten of all time. Highly recommended for all survival horror and action game fans, but you might want to put a towel down first; I wouldn't want you to stain your couch. (February; rated M for graphic violence, strong language, and the fact that you'll need to take a sedative at least once while playing.)

In this "visual novel" game (so called because it's primarily text), you play as Junpei, an average college student who wakes up in a room that's rapidly filling with water. He manages to free himself, and after he leaves the room, he runs into eight other people who share the same experience: they were kidnapped by a masked man called Zero and brought to a sinking ship. Zero has given them 9 hours to find an escape, but to do so, they must complete a sadistic experiment called the Nonary Game. They are all wearing a bracelet with a number on it, which allows them to go through numbered doors scattered throughout the ship. But only 3 to 5 people can enter a door at any given time, and in order to do so, the numbers on their bracelets must create the same digital root as the number on the door. (For example, if three people decide to go into a room and their assigned numbers are 5, 7, and 9, they can only go through Door 3, because 5+7+9=21 and 2+1=3.) Once you and your group enter a door, you have a limited amount of time to scan your bracelet across a deactivation device or the bomb that Zero has kindly placed in your stomach will go off.

Thanks to 6 different endings, 999 has plenty of replay value, some brainbusting puzzles, and an excellent soundtrack. And for a game that plays like Professor Layton meets Saw on the Titanic, it can be surprisingly funny. If you've been looking for a more mature game on the Nintendo DS, this is the one. (April; rated M for violence, thematic elements, strong language, and sexual innuendo, including a startlingly graphic comment about anal sex.)

In this "flower defense" game, zombies are terrorizing a small neighborhood. You must defend your property against the zombies by filling your garden with different kinds of plants, all of which have strange abilities. For example, the Kernel-Pult flings corn kernels and pats of butter at the encroaching zombies, rendering them temporarily immobile, and the Fume-Shroom will puff poisonous spores at them. Things get fast and furious as you try to pick the best plants for the situation and replace the ones that get eaten along the way. An unbelievably addictive game that I still pick up practically every weekend---the Vasebreaker minigame is my heroin---and as a bonus, the disc also includes Zuma and Peggle. (April; rated E10 for very mild, bloodless violence)

In Rockstar's newest offering, you play Cole Phelps, a member of the LAPD during the late 1940's. He's a troubled man with some things in his past that he's not particularly proud of, but he's a terrific cop who will stop at nothing to pursue justice and the truth, even at great cost to himself.

During the course of the game, you cover five different "desks": patrol, traffic, homicide, vice, and arson. My favorite section by far was homicide, in which you have to track down a serial killer who's taking his inspiration from the Black Dahlia murder, but they all have intriguing moments.

Unfortunately, the interrogation aspect of the game was wonky; if it had been fine tuned before release, L.A. Noire could have been brilliant. But I still think it's worth playing for the story, the cool 1940's setting, and the absolutely gorgeous graphics. The facial animations are the best I've ever seen in a game, bar none. If you're willing to cut it some slack for the jacked up interrogation mechanic, and you love James Ellroy and noir movies, you're in for a treat. (May; rated M for graphic violence, sexual themes, drug use, full frontal female nudity including pubic hair, and some seriously salty language, including the C-word.)

Imagine that Devil May Cry and No More Heroes had hot dirty sex while Silent Hill music played in the background. Then a demonic tattooed baby was born whose first sentence was a dick joke, and they named it Shadows of the Damned.

You play as Garcia Hotspur, a demon hunter who flips the fuck out when his girlfriend Paula commits suicide and Flemming, the king of hell, claims her as his own. Armed with his trusty sidekick Johnson, a wisecracking skull that shapeshifts into weapons, Garcia will stop at nothing until Flemming and his minions are destroyed and Paula is back in his arms.

SOTD has a sterling pedigree thanks to its creators: Suda51 (No More Heroes) and Shinji Mikami (Resident Evil/Devil May Cry), with a soundtrack by genius Silent Hill composer Akira Yamaoka to boot. If you choose your difficulty level wisely (I thought it was extremely hard; G disagreed) and you've enjoyed any of Suda51 or Shinji Mikami's previous offerings, I bet you'll like this as well. It's almost worth playing just to hear Garcia Hotspur yell "Taste my big boner!" (July; rated M for graphic violence, gore, extremely strong language, nekkid lady, adult humor)

In an idyllic small town, flanked by forests and famous for its stunning waterfall, a beautiful young woman is found brutally murdered. The FBI sends an agent to investigate. He's quirky and overly fond of coffee and cherry pie, but he's got some amazing insights into the case...some of which come to him while he stands in a red room occupied by strange characters.

...nope, it's not Twin Peaks. It's Deadly Premonition, and while it borrows heavily from that cult classic, not to mention Clock Tower, Silent Hill, and Haunting Ground, it manages to transform those elements into something original. Make absolutely no mistake; this game is heavily flawed. The combat mechanics blow, the voice acting is largely mediocre, and the graphics look like something I would have laughed at on a Dreamcast. But the characters are unique and the story manages to be both batshit crazy and heartbreaking. If this game sounds even remotely intriguing to you, you can pick it up on Amazon for $13...only slightly less than a movie ticket in many parts of the US. If you're willing to overlook its flaws, I guarantee it will become a cherished part of your game library. (July; rated M for graphic violence and extremely disturbing thematic elements)

Vincent Brooks is a shaggy-haired slacker who spends his evenings drinking with his friends at the Stray Sheep bar. Vincent has a girlfriend named Katherine, who's a bit of a shrew and keeps pressuring him to get married. He loves her, but it's getting a bit old.

Which is why, when a gorgeous blonde walks into the bar, he gives in to temptation and sleeps with her. Turns out her name is also Catherine, only with a C, and she becomes awfully fond of Vincent. But Vincent is wracked with guilt, which spills over into nightmares where he's forced into a world filled with talking bipedal sheep who have committed indiscretions of their own. To survive, Vincent must climb a tower made of blocks that he has to rearrange in order to get to the top. It might sound simple but trust me, it's not, especially when you have to get to the top before a boss kills you. If he fails in the dream, he'll die in real life. But if he makes it, he lives to see another day and hopefully make things right with Katherine (or Catherine, if you want to play it that way) once and for all.

This game deserves props for originality, its gorgeous anime cinemas, and mature (in the best possible sense of the word) storyline. Be warned that the puzzles might make you rip your hair out at the roots, but if you like a challenge, here's your new BFF. (August; rated M for sexual content, language, alcohol/tobacco use, and violence)

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.

I was pretty meh on this game for the first level or so, but as the engrossing storyline progressed, I could barely let go of the controller. And the level design and costumes are so gorgeous that I wound up buying the artbook off Amazon. If you're willing to tolerate a few bugs (glitches, mediocre voice acting, a crappy camera) at your mad tea party, A:MR is a feast for the senses. (September; rated M for violence, strong language, and some VERY disturbing thematic elements)

In DR2:OTR, intrepid photojournalist Frank West, the hero of the first game, replaces hunky motocross star Chuck Greene as the protagonist. Frank used to be kind of hot, but he's a bit the worse for wear since we last saw him; he's gained a paunch and a bad back, and he's slumming it by wrestling zombies in the Terror Is Reality arena for cash. But when somebody frees the zombies from their cages and turns gambling mecca Fortune City into a slaughterhouse, Frank leaps at the chance to snag the scoop of a lifetime.

Games don't get much more fun than the Dead Rising series. How can you resist the opportunity to take out a bloodthirsty horde of zombies with a dildo cannon or a wheelchair equipped with machine guns? I sure as shit couldn't, and although I think the $40 price tag was a little high considering that it's 90% recycled material from DR2, I regret nothing. (October; rated M for graphic violence, gore, language, and sexual situations ranging from a stripper cop to a guy who wants you to fetch him a porn mag so he can masturbate, even though the streets are crawling with zombies; I mean, come on, dude, use your fuckin' imagination)

Professor Layton and his young apprentice Luke are attending a time machine demonstration when the device explodes. Shortly afterwards, the professor is astounded when he receives a letter from Luke...and not the Luke he knows, but Future Luke! Determined to get to the truth, Professor Layton and Luke set out to solve the mystery. A fascinating story, charming art, and plenty of puzzles that range from easy to headbangingly hard. (No previous review; rated E10, though I cannot for the life of me remember anything remotely objectionable. The story is a little more melancholy than previous installments, so maybe that's why?)

fashion advice needed

Even though I read all the major fashion magazines, I have zero fashion sense myself. If it's not black, I don't know what to do with it.

(no comments from the peanut gallery, plz)

Anyway, I've been pondering what to wear for my dad's wedding, even though it's not until May 2012. I think I've decided on this:

It's my finest fashion find: a silk Anna Sui dress. A couple of years ago, I was browsing Anthropologie's website and saw this dress listed for an insane amount of money; I think it was $400, but I'm not sure. I thought it was gorgeous, but I wasn't willing to shell out that kind of money.

Well, turns out I didn't have to, because a few months later, it was listed on the sale page. They had one size left---mine!---and it was mine for a mere $80. I snapped that shit up, and when it arrived, I immediately tried it on. I was afraid it wouldn't fit properly, but it seriously looked like it had been made for me. I was in looooooove.

I've only worn it once, with black high heeled mary janes, but it looked really clunky and too 1994 Courtney Love kinderwhore.

So here are my questions for those of you who have more fashion sense than me, i.e. every sighted individual on this site:

1. Is this dress appropriate for a beach wedding?
2. What the frickin' hell kind of shoes do I wear with it? Heels, flats? Color? (I should point out that the dress is a very light yellow, though it doesn't look that way in this picture. The print is of birds, flowers, and cherries. Also, it's a little too low cut, so I would wear it with a lacy camisole underneath so people are looking at the bride and not the groom's daughter's enormous cans.)

I mean, it might not even fit properly anymore, because I've gained a few pounds since I bought it. But if I wind up needing to get another dress, I'll probably beg for y'alls help again.


(And because I can't get too girly without breaking out in a sweat, I'll post my favorite video games of the year later on.)

Monday, November 28, 2011


...sorry, I'm a sucker for a good pun. (Or a bad one, evidently.)

Current outfit: Black ringer tee, jeans, sneakers, the usual undergarments.

Current perfume: Alien

Current video game: G and I just started Red Dead Redemption. It has a few annoying gameplay issues, but overall it's pretty ace. The backgrounds are absolutely gorgeous and the plot/voice acting are phenomenal. And just like Bully, you can play main character John Marston as a good guy or a bad guy. We're trying to err on the side of good and take bad guys into custody as opposed to shooting them outright, but there are just some folks who need killin'. For example, there was a scene where a group of bandits took a woman hostage, and when we caught up with them, the leader told us that they were going to take out their "lonesome" on her. Yeah, I didn't skimp on the headshots in that scenario.

Current book: V Is for Vengeance by Sue Grafton

Current show: Pardon the pun, but we mainlined episodes of The Wire over the holiday weekend. Damn, that's a good show. There was one scene that was so intense I actually shivered.

Current film: I have three discs on their way from Netflix, though two of them are "us" movies so I won't see them until next weekend. But the one I'll be watching once it arrives is The Future. Miranda July's first film, Me and You and Everyone We Know, is one of my favorite movies of all time, so I'm anxious to check out her sophomore effort. It might wind up being a little twee for my tastes (um, talking cat), but we'll see.

Current music: Much to my intense joy, and after literally decades of searching for it, I finally found an MP3 of "Something Sweet" by The Allies. It features prominently in one of my guiltiest pleasure movies, Angel, which had the tagline "High school honor student by day...Hollywood hooker by night!" An absolute 80's trash classic; I highly recommend it if you're into that kind of thing.

Anyway, the song is a sultry slice of new wave, and I'm thrilled to finally have it in my collection. To give you an idea of how long I've been looking, I asked for it in an actual RECORD STORE way back when. God bless the internet!

Current eats: I just had a PBJ sandwich. What I really want, however, is another Divine milk chocolate and spiced cookies candy bar. I bought one on impulse at Whole Foods and oh my god Jesus Christ. If you love gingerbread, meet your new obsession.

Current drink: Water.

Current wants: Another 4-day weekend; to find the perfect shoes to go with the dress I plan on wearing to my dad's wedding; for it to be 6:30PM; for my work computer to stop being a slow ass bitch; to adopt the gorgeous sweet kitty I played with at the shelter on Saturday

Current needs: Cleaning my bedroom; getting money changed before my trip so I don't have to get effed on the exchange rate at the airport; buying assorted items for my trip; refilling two prescriptions

Current worries: Assorted weird aches and pains; good ol' bastardy bills

Current obsessions: The Wire, when the library will get volume 9 of The Boys, and Red Dead Redemption. You can tell how obsessed I am with a video game by how often something in real life will remind me of it. For example, in RDR you must often kill and skin animals to sell their meat/hides. I find this particular mechanic a bit icky, especially since the screen splatters with blood while he's doing it, but it was the Old West and times were tough.


(PROBABLY UNNECESSARY DISCLAIMER: I love almost all animals and would never hurt one except in unusual circumstances, like to defend myself or someone else or if I was starving and had no other recourse.)

...I was taking my morning walk and saw a rabbit, and my first instinct was to press the L and R triggers.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

the greatest thing I will see all week

To the creator of this delightful tableau: you win all the Internets. Yes, even the cat pictures.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

the 10 best movie lines of the year

Note: some of these don't make sense out of context.

1. "It's so fluffy I'm gonna die!" (Despicable Me)

2. "Not my daughter, you bitch!" (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2)

3. "Is the Popemobile Catholic?" (Cars 2)

4. "Dad, you were like a father to me." (Due Date)

5. "Golf?! You're a homosexual! Why don't you just eat pussy?" (I Love You, Phillip Morris)

6. "I want my lawyer and a sandwich and I want to update my Facebook status." (Blitz)

7. Clive: "They're going to rape us and break our arms!"
Graeme: "I don't want my arms broken!" (Paul)

8. "I didn't know it was your diary! I thought it was a very sad handwritten book." (Bridesmaids)

9. (Talking about her three sons) "When they reach that age, they're disgusting. They smell, they're sticky, they say things that are horrible, and there's semen all over everything, okay? I cracked a blanket in half!" (Bridesmaids)

10. "Get your hands off me, demon! You're crushing my smokes!" (Hobo with a Shotgun)

Friday, November 25, 2011

bowling for LOL-ers

When I was little, my mom belonged to a bowling league, and she'd take my brother and me with her. I loved everything about the bowling alley: that unique smell, the pinball machines, the sound of balls hitting the pins, and most of all, the fact that she'd give us each a dollar to buy a treat from the vending machines. And this was the late 70's, so a dollar could actually buy some shit. I mean, Christ, a candy bar in the vending machine here at work costs a fucking dollar! Back then I could get a candy bar AND a soda AND play a game of pinball!


Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, G and I went "disco bowling", which means they blast dance music and light up the lanes with neon and twinkling lights. It was lots of fun, although---despite one strike and a couple of spares---I'm generally a shitty bowler.

I started to work up a thirst, so at one point I wandered over to the bar and bought a rum and Coke. When I returned, I said, "Hey, did I ever tell you about the time I got banned from a bowling alley?"

G arched an eyebrow. "No, I don't think so. What happened?"


The year was 1997, and my then-boyfriend T and I went to the Bryant-Lake Bowl in Minneapolis. As was my wont at the time, I had several drinks in me and was feeling mighty good. Oddly enough, I bowl much better when I'm drunk---same goes for pool---and I was racking up the points.

"Whooooooo!" I cried. "Yaaaaaaaaaay!"

...did I mention I'm a noisy drunk?

T took his turn and then I stepped up to the lane. I held the ball in front of me, squinted at the pins, and then pulled my arm back and threw.


"Where's the ball?" I slurred, just as I heard thuds and gasps from behind me. I turned around and realized that I had thrown the ball backwards, sending it down a small flight of steps. A quick-thinking bystander grabbed it before it could get any further. T was visibly cringing.

"Um, oops?" I said as a burly man strode towards me.

"Ma'am, I'm the manager on duty, and you need to leave."

"But I'm bowling," I said petulantly.

"Not here you're not. You're not allowed to come back here again. That could have really hurt somebody."

With a dozen hipsters' eyes upon us, T and I quietly bundled up in our heavy winter jackets and slunk out the door.

I've never gone back to Bryant-Lake Bowl, but I'm sure they wouldn't cut me off at the door; like anybody even remembers the incident besides me. But the next time I'm in Minneapolis, I'm tempted to walk inside and look for a WANTED poster with a picture of my sloppy drunk self on it and the words "Do not let this woman bowl here. She is a menace to society."

Thursday, November 24, 2011

happy Thanksgiving!

According to Japanese Snack Reviews, Shakey's Pizza is strangely popular in Japan. Here's one of their fall offerings:


It's got pumpkin, red bean paste, mini marshmallows, and black sesame sauce.


As far as my Thanksgiving plans, G and I went to the store and bought a rotisserie chicken (neither one of us is huge on turkey), mashed potatoes, rolls, wine, and dessert: a peppermint brownie for him and a key lime cupcake for me. He's watching the Cowboys/Dolphins game right now, and later on, we're going to pig out, watch movies, and play Red Dead Redemption. So pretty much a perfect day.

I hope yours is as well.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

the last 10 things I retweeted

All typos/grammatical errors are the original tweeter's own.

1. "I wish there was a place where atheists could all get together and sing songs about physics. I love being a rationalist but it's lonely." (@simonpegg)

2. "Wait.... is masturbating on an airplane illegal or not???? I kind of need to know in the next 20-40 minutes" (@JamesDeen)

3. "I'm lucky when it comes to the whole 'porn star' name thing as my first pet was called Big Dick and my mother's maiden name is Fuckmonster." (@simonpegg)

4. "I would like to see the eradication of Cooties in our lifetime." (@NathanFillion)

5. "Kim Kardashian earned $17,900,000 from her wedding and divorced 72 days later (but gays ruin the sanctity of marriage)." (@tyleroakley)

6. "LOS ANGELES! The end is nigh! #Carmageddon is upon us! On Sat/Sunday, avoid the 405 Btw the 10 and 101 like you'd avoid a Kevin Smith film!" (@ThatKevinSmith)

7. "In years to come, the drone of the vuvuzela will instantly whisk us back to the heady summer of 2010 and we will bless its mnemonic potency." (@simonpegg)

8. "Of course if an enormous swarm of mutant, weaponized bees were to attack, now would be the time." (@simonpegg; this tweet immediately followed the one above.)

9. "Truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just gotta find the ones worth suffering for."~Bob Marley (1946-1981)" (@dannylohner)

10. "I just watched a terrifying film about a couple who unwittingly buy a haunted yogurt. It's called Paranormal Activia ... I'm here all week." (@simonpegg)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

best of 2011: graphic novels/manga

It's time for my list of the best graphic novels and manga of 2011! A few notes before I begin:

  • Not all of these were first released in 2011, but that's when I first read them (with one major exception, which I'll get to shortly).
  • All of these are commercially available in the US. I still read a lot of manga scanslations online, but none of them made the cut this time around.
  • Aside from the first title mentioned, these aren't necessarily in preferential order.
  • I doubt anybody still labors under the impression that graphic novels and manga are strictly kids' stuff, but just in case: some of these titles contain mature content. Nothing too bad this time around, though, primarily because I didn't read any new Garth Ennis!
  • G, please skip the section on Ex Machina because I'm going to make you read it eventually. The section on Y: The Last Man is safe, however; nothing there you don't already know.
  • And as always, your mileage may vary.

Okay, true confession time: I actually read the majority of this series last year, but I didn't read enough in time for it to make the cut for my 2010 list. And that is something I needed to rectify here.

I've been a Stephen King fan for the last three decades of my life, so when he praises something, you can damn well bet I'm gonna give it a look; he's like my Oprah. So when I saw the blurb on the front from King calling Y: The Last Man the "best graphic novel [he's] ever read", picking it up was a no brainer.

A plague has wiped out every single male organism on Earth aside from a slacker named Yorick and his monkey, Ampersand. Yorick immediately becomes the target of just about every woman in the world. Some want to study him for clues to the plague, others want to have his baby, and a radical feminist group wants to kill him. All Yorick wants to do is get to Australia in hopes of finding his girlfriend Beth, but it won't be an easy journey.

I was just kind of meh after finishing the first volume, but by the time I'd closed the second one, I was hooked. This is absolutely essential reading if you like graphic novels, dystopian themes, know...things that rule. Easily the best graphic novel I read in 2011.

In this graphic novel, MariNaomi talks about her romantic interludes, first loves, and heartbreaks. The perfect blend of funny, moving, and raunchy.

Taiga is a broke college student who desperately wants a girlfriend. To his delight, when he finally finds a job, one of his coworkers is a beautiful woman named Yuiko who accepts when he asks her out. But it turns out Yuiko is a fujoshi, meaning that she loves anime and manga dealing with man-on-man love. Taiga has to come to grips with her obsession, which even extends to fantasies she has about him and his best friend. Is she worth the hassle? Find out in this funny and charming series.

After finishing Y: The Last Man, I decided to catch up on Brian K. Vaughan's other works. This one follows Mitch Hundred, an unassuming New Yorker who becomes a bona fide superhero after an accident gives him strange new powers, most notably the ability to "talk" to machines. He decides to run for mayor of New York City, but his powers may be more of a hindrance than a help when it comes to politics. Wonderful art and an engrossing story; the final volume had a couple of jawdropping moments that made me want to start the series all over again, just to look for the foreshadowing.

Amy is a depressed twentysomething stuck in a rut. The only things that seem to brighten her mood are her beloved cat, reruns of her favorite cartoon Mr. Dangerous, and the e-mails she receives from her friend/love interest Michael. It's packed with cringeworthy but utterly relatable moments, such as the scene where a customer at the store where she works asks her out. She agrees, and on their date he tells her that he liked her better than her coworkers because they were all too concerned with their appearance. She snaps, "Oh, so I'm fat and ugly but at least I'm interesting?" Ouch. It's reminiscent of Daniel Clowes' work, but it has a charm all its own, and if you love Clowes and Adrian Tomine, you're sure to love this as well.

Tony Chu is a detective with a strange secret: he's cibopathic, meaning that he gets psychic flashes from whatever he eats. It's so strong that he lives primarily on beets because they don't give him any alarming visions. Unfortunately, sometimes he has to use his gift in particularly distressing sampling a corpse to see who or what caused its death. It can be gross, but it was so original that I really enjoyed it.

Oddly enough, Showtime is developing Chew into a series.

Nine short stories by Daniel Clowes, one of the masters in his field. My favorite was the title story, in which a caricaturist develops a strange relationship with a hipster girl who sees his work as the highest form of art.

A modern (and fiercely feminist) take on fairy tales and Chaucer, Linda Medley's Castle Waiting has beautifully intricate art and an endearing story. Unfortunately, due to differences with her publisher, the series' future is in question, but I'll snap up the next volume when and if it's published.

To be honest, I wasn't completely sold on this series at first, but I stuck with it because, thanks to previous titles like Monster and Yawara!, Naoki Urasawa has an excellent track record with me. I'm glad I did, because this series just keeps getting better and better.

As children, a group of friends created the "Book of Prophecy", a wild short story about evil taking over the world. When the kids get older, they're horrified when it looks like a mysterious man called the Friend is taking a cue from the story they created so long ago. The group bands together once more to stop the Friend and his followers from destroying the world.

Urasawa's art is deceptively simple but masterful; when a woman showed up at one point, I knew instantly who she was even though her previous appearance was as an infant. That takes real skill. And the story is awesome, too. Urasawa has won every major manga award in Japan for his work, and it's not hard to see why.

A graphic memoir chronicling the decline of the author's parents, Lars and Rachel, and her experiences taking care of them during their final years. The art style might be unusual to people unfamiliar with the underground style of the 1970's (though this is a contemporary work, Farmer came to prominence during that time), but please don't let that, or the subject matter, put you off. Yes, you will cry (and if you don't, my condolences on your missing heart), but it's worth it.

Monday, November 21, 2011

games of our lives, part 10: Resident Evil: Code Veronica

Back in 2000, Capcom announced that the latest Resident Evil game would be a Sega Dreamcast exclusive. Being a diehard fangirl, I bought a Dreamcast for the sole purpose of getting my hands on Resident Evil: Code Veronica.

(And by the way, even though that turned out to be a lie and RE:CV did in fact come out for numerous other consoles, I ain't mad because the Dreamcast library features some amazing games. Some of my favorites include frenetic puzzler Chu Chu Rocket, action/sim Shenmue, aforementioned mindfuck Illbleed, virtual pet Seaman, maraca rhythm game Samba de Amigo, and D2, a survival horror game set in the Canadian Rockies that, in my opinion, has one of the best video game endings of all time. D2 is also notable for being released on FOUR discs and featuring full frontal female nudity, a tentacle rape scene, and a vagina-shaped supercomputer that moans when you shoot it, making it only slightly less fucked up than Illbleed. My Dreamcast is one of my most cherished possessions and I haven't regretted its purchase for a second.)

RE:CV opens with a cinema of Claire Redfield, kickass heroine of Resident Evil 2, being uncuffed by a guard. He welcomes her to her new "home" and knocks her out cold with the butt of his gun because he is a prick who doesn't know who he's messing with.

Next, we're treated to a bombdiggety flashback of Claire running through a corridor, glass shattering all around her. She tries her best to escape, but she winds up surrounded by Umbrella's security team. She tricks them into thinking she's surrendering, and just as her gun is about to drop to the ground, she dives for it, shoots some flammable barrels behind the guards, and takes them out. That's right, mofos, recognize!

...except shit. A guard who's tardy to the party (not the same douche who hits her) shows up and takes Claire prisoner. Well, can't blame a girl for trying.

Back to the present. Claire is roused from unconsciousness by explosions, and the guard with a punctuality problem unlocks her cell as an act of mercy. Basically, he tells her that she's fucked. They're on an island, some shit has gone down, and there's no chance she'll escape alive. But Claire is bound and determined to find her older brother Chris, so she leaves the prison in hopes of getting more information.

Well, it turns out that the guard wasn't lying. The island is swarming with all sorts of creatures, including plenty of zombies who want to sink their teeth into Claire's pretty little neck. During her exploration, Claire runs into another survivor named Leonardo diCaprio Steve and the utterly creepy Alfred Ashford, who has a seriously icky obsession with his genius twin sister Alexia. Can Claire survive monsters, psychos, and some truly awful voice acting, find her brother, and make it out alive?

Goddamn, this game is fun. Until Resident Evil 4 came along, it was probably my favorite of the series. The plot gets surprisingly complex, the graphics (for the time) were mindblowing, and it's addictive as hell. The day I got it, I played for nine hours straight, a personal record still undefeated to this day.

As I've mentioned before, Leon Kennedy (of RE2 and 4 fame) is my favorite video game character of all time, but his comrade Claire is a very close second. She's what a video game heroine should be: brave, smart, tough, protective of those who need it, and completely unwilling to take shit from anyone or anything. She does say something pretty politically incorrect in this game (I can't be more specific because it's a COLOSSAL spoiler), but I'm willing to cut her a break this time. Claire's so awesome that I'd name my daughter after her.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

my not-so-wicked stepmother (to be)

When I wrote my Q&A entry, I forgot to answer a question somebody left for me, so now I shall rectify

(uh huh huh huh...rectify)

that oversight.

By the way, I still need writing fodder for NaNoJoMo and I am determined to see it through to the end, so if you have any burning questions that you'd like me to answer, ask away! Standard disclaimer: I reserve the right to not answer any questions on the grounds of privacy violation (mine or someone else's) and/or sheer peevishness.

I promise not to tell Daddy-O, do you REALLY feel about him getting remarried?

I won't deny that it will be weird, though of course not as weird as it would be if I still lived at home. But hand to God, I am thrilled that he's getting married. Unlike his former fiancee, who was an emotionally needy shrew who took and never gave, A treats him like an equal. I don't think any relationship is ever truly 50/50, but they seem damn close. They have a camaraderie that's really fun to watch.

A is really, really smart. She speaks 5 languages fluently, she's a lawyer, and she's a fierce feminist who wrote for Ms. in the 80's. And she's not only good to my father, but she's good to my brother, who has Asperger's and can be challenging to deal with, which is a surefire way to win my trust and respect. I haven't had the opportunity to spend much time with her, but I really like her.

I know my dad still loves and misses my mom. I don't want to speak for my mom, but I think she'd be glad that my dad, 15 years after her death, has found someone he loves that loves him back. And as I told my dad, "I don't think Mom would have liked [your former fiancee], but I think she'd really like A." He smiled and agreed.

So next spring, when they get married, I'll be sitting in the front row and crying my head off, but not because I'm upset. I'll be crying because weddings are beautiful and I love my dad.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

word salad

While I was in the shower, I came up with the idea for this entry: put my iTunes on shuffle and type the first line or two of the first 25 songs that came up, just to see if they formed some sort of cool poem.

Well, as it turns out, not so much, but if you're really into music and/or want to waste a lot of time Googling, you can get a pretty good idea of what kind of songs I have on my computer. Excitorama!

Fuck me, I'm famous
I'm so hot for her, I'm so hot for her, I'm so hot for her
Open the door, walk in behind her
Now I, I don't hardly know her
When I was a little girl I had a rag doll
I've waited hours for this, never felt so sick
Out on the wily windy moors we'd roll and fall in green
So sentimental, not sentimental no
And here's to you, Mrs. Robinson, Jesus loves you more than you will know
We're miles away from nowhere and the wind doesn't have a name
Uh zoom zip and I wake up
Here is London, giddy London, is it home of the free or what?
Shangri-la, shiowase datte
My friend Jerry Vandergriff kissed me in home ec class
Christine and Sharon are sure you can deadbolt the doors but the outside gets in at the edges of the windows and floors
Fire burn my lips take a swig for old time's sake
Push it in make it fit on the floor peek-a-boo
Yeah when I walk on by girls be looking like damn he fly
Regular exposure to insecticide has caused me to break out in hives
Zoo time is she and you time the mammals are your favorite type and you want her tonight
She cuts her hair and calls his name
He's not falling, simply waiting fading at the edges
She doesn't speak much English but she tells me all her favorite bands
See them on their big bright screen tan and blonde and 17
This isn't really sex this isn't really life this isn't really anything I think I like

Friday, November 18, 2011

games of our lives, part 9: Odin Sphere

RPGs are a genre that never remotely interested me. I thought they were all "Octoknight attacks and misses! Minerva casts Ice Cloak for 50 damage!" Screw that crap; I'll take a survival horror game any day.

Then one afternoon back in 2007, G and I were watching X-Play, and they reviewed a PS2 game called Odin Sphere. The graphics were so beautiful that I told G I was going to get it from Gamefly, and because he knows about my apathy towards RPGs, he said, "Oh, you are so going to hate it."

But it turns out I didn't.

Odin Sphere is an action RPG, meaning that while there are certain RPG elements like an EXP meter and potion mixing, it focuses more on red-assed beatdowns, which is really satisfying (albeit a bit punishing on the wrists). It's divided into several "storybooks" that follow the adventures of five protagonists: Gwendolyn, the Valkyrie daughter of Odin; Cornelius, a boy who is transformed into a Pooka (a rabbit-like creature) and sent to the Underworld; Mercedes, a fairy princess; Oswald, the Shadow Knight in love with Gwendolyn; and Velvet, princess of the Valentine kingdom. They carry different weapons, all of which are powered by phozons, which are released by fallen enemies. Phozons can also be used to grow fruit and, er, sheep for replenishing your health.

The plot is unbelievably complex, so I'll refer you to the Wikipedia page if you want more information. (View with extreme caution, though, as spoilers abound.) I'll just say that the story is engrossing and moved me to tears more than once.

Odin Sphere suffers from massive slowdown in certain areas, rendering a few battles almost impossible to play, and the fighting can get repetitious. But it's one of the most gorgeous games I've ever played, bar none; it really is like playing a storybook. Take a look at these screenshots; they lose something in "translation", since you can't see the movement or the way light plays upon things, but you'll get the general idea:

Odin Sphere also has a beautiful soundtrack to match its visuals, with music by Final Fantasy XII composer Hitoshi Sakamoto. Unfortunately, the English dubbing left something to be desired, so G and I played with the subtitled Japanese voice track. I really appreciated having that option.

RPGs will never be my genre of choice, but considering that Persona 4 and Odin Sphere made my top ten of all time and I also really enjoyed Eternal Sonata, I'll certainly be more open to trying them in the future.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

games of our lives, part 8: Resident Evil 2

As I've said many times before, playing Resident Evil was a watershed moment for me because it turned me into a survival horror fanatic. As soon as Resident Evil 2 was released in 1998, I went to Best Buy and scored a copy.

And as good as the first game was, RE2 surpassed it on all conceivable levels. My mind was fuckin' BLOWN.

RE2 takes place two months after the events of the first game. Raccoon City has been decimated by the T-virus, which has turned the general population into shambling bloodthirsty zombies. Leon Kennedy, a floppy-haired slice of sexypie, has chosen a bad time to start his new job with the Raccoon City Police Department, but he's a dedicated (and sexy!) cop and he's determined to do what he can.

While he's making his way to the police department, he saves a young woman from becoming zombie chow. It turns out that she's Claire Redfield, sister of RE1 hero Chris, and she's come to town looking for her big brother. But when they finally get to the police station, they learn that Chris has left for Europe on a mission to take down Umbrella, the evil pharmaceutical company behind the outbreak. Claire and Leon decide to split up in hopes of finding and rescuing other survivors. They meet different people, too; Leon encounters the beautiful and mysterious Ada Wong, who's looking for her boyfriend, and Claire takes a young girl named Sherry Birkin under her wing.

And here's where RE2 really shines in comparison to its predecessor: you get to play as both Claire AND Leon, and the choices they make affect things for the other character. For example, if Claire leaves a first aid spray behind, then Leon can take it during his playthrough. This led to me being ultra-miserly because I was afraid I'd wind up leaving the other character with nothing, but I actually liked that aspect of it.

RE2's voice acting is also superior to Resident Evil, which frankly wouldn't have been hard. (Fun fact: Claire is voiced by Alyson Court of The Big Comfy Couch fame.) I loved the characters; as I mentioned in my Resident Evil 4 review, Leon is my favorite video game character of all time, and Claire is a close second. If they ever make another Resident Evil game with both of them, I will seriously paste 'em.

Resident Evil 2 has some of the most memorable jump scares in video game history (that 2-way mirror, HOLY FUCK), an indelible foe in the form of Frankensteinian freak Nemesis, awesome characters, a cool "zapping" system, and thrills galore. Any hardcore survival horror fan worth his or her salt needs to stop what they're doing and hunt down a copy immediately. It may be dated, but it's still an essential part of any gamer's library.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

baby's day out

At my workplace, we get three personal days every year. Unlike vacation days, they don't roll over, so I took my final PT day today to get some shit done.

Unfortunately, getting some shit done involved getting up earlier than usual. But I managed to get my ass out the door at 8:40 somehow, and I drove to my mechanic's for some routine maintenance on Ginji. I chose this particular place because it's within easy walking distance of a mall, and I figured I could kill time there while they worked on my car. But I still had an hour before they opened, so I sat in the waiting room and dicked around on my Kindle.

At 10AM sharp, I walked to the mall and immediately hit Anthropologie to look for a dress for G's parents' anniversary dinner and/or my dad's wedding next spring. I found a cute black one with a white origami print (tres Heavy Rain) and tried it on, but the cut was absolutely atrocious on me. It did a weird ballooning thing under my arms that made me look like I had enormous lumpy boobs, and they may be enormous but they are NOT lumpy, thank you very much. So that went back on the rack, but I did buy a delicious-smelling candle.

I bought a shitload of perfume in Sephora---Poetica, Harajuku Lovers Jingle G, and the holiday gift set---and then continued looking in assorted stores, adding a sweater, two t-shirts, patterned tights, and an amusingly gaudy $2 cocktail ring from Forever 21 to my purchases. And I cooed over the puppies in the pet shop, though a depressed-looking black French bulldog and a German shepherd who whined and pawed desperately at the glass when I walked by just broke my heart. I'm a staunch cat person and have been/will be my entire life, but goddamn if I didn't want to rush to the counter with my credit card in hand and yell "GRANT ME YOUR PUPPEHS!"

...which wouldn't have worked out so well, since I can't have pets at my place, but maybe when I win that lottery I keep daydreaming about.

When I left the pet store, I saw Santa Claus sitting and waiting for kids to come meet him, which made me break out into a huge grin. Yeah, yeah, I'm an agnostic and an old, but Santa! Who the fuck could hate Santa? Granted, his presence and the Christmas Muzak made me think "um, Jesus, guys, can we get through Thanksgiving first?" but your argument is invalid because SANTA.

I had worked up an appetite from all my shopping, so I ducked into a restaurant and ordered a French dip sandwich. 9 times out of 10, I've been disappointed by French dip sandwiches---seriously, guys, how hard can it be?---but this place did a decent one.

Pro tip #1: If you ever want a great French dip sandwich and you happen to be in Minnesota, try the Twin Cities Grill in the Mall of America. Not only is it delicious, but it comes with salt and vinegar-dusted fries that will change your fucking LIFE.

Pro tip #2: If you're a waiter/waitress and you don't make me feel like a loser for eating by myself, I will tip you 25%.

By the time I'd finished eating, the mechanic had called to let me know Ginji was ready to roll, so I walked back over. As he was going over the paperwork with me, he suddenly sniffed the air and said, "Something smells REALLY good."

"I bought a candle," I said, and he asked if he could see it, so I dug it out of the bag and held it out for him to smell. He bent his head down, took a deep breath, and looked up at me while saying "Mmmmmmmmm."


Now, I am generally so oblivious that the only way I can tell a guy is flirting with me is if he's giving me elevator eyes while frantically pawing at his junk. But this guy was SERIOUSLY flirting with me. Not just because he wanted to smell my candle (which is not a euphemism), but the way he was looking at me while he did it and his tone of voice while he was talking to me. But I thought I was overreacting until he asked if I had any big plans for Thanksgiving and I said, "Oh, my boyfriend and I are just going to order pizza or something and watch movies and play Red Dead Redemption."

He actually DEFLATED. Like, visibly. And SIGHED.

"Lucky guy," he said, handing over my keys and giving me a big grin. "Have a great day."

So that was different. Even if I wasn't with the love of my life (stop gagging, why do you hate romance?), I don't think I would have been interested, but I won't lie: it was definitely an ego boost.

I climbed into Ginji, filled out my maintenance record because I am obsessive and I need this car to last me basically forever, cooed at him and patted his dashboard because I am mentally deficient and anthropomorphize everything, and drove to Lenscrafters to get new nose pads on my glasses, an item that has been on my chore/errand list (yes, I have one on my fridge, shut up) for literally months. It took less than 5 minutes and they did it for free, so don't ask me why I didn't get it done sooner. Then I went to the library and read magazines and picked up some books, and then I came home, putzed around online, read 100 pages of 11/22/63, and took a nap. When I woke up, I realized that on an ordinary Wednesday, I would have still been at work for another half-hour.

It was a good day.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

you've got Q's, I've got A's

EDIT: I added the geisha pictures I took back in 2005.

A few entries back, I asked for questions, and you delivered! Here are my responses.

Whatever happened to your anime obsession? Did you stop liking it or did you just stop writing about it?

I didn't stop liking it, but when Streamload went under, I lost easy access to the non-licensed stuff because I didn't want to wade into the virus-infested swamps of Bit Torrent and Limewire. Once I stopped watching 3+ hours of anime every night, it became an "out of mind, out of sight" situation. But I still watch it every now and then. I rewatched Descendants of Darkness earlier this year, and G and I watched Highschool of the Dead together. I got up to episode 7 of Puella Magi Madoka Magica, but once it got licensed, I decided to hold off and catch the rest on DVD eventually because it's definitely a series I'd prefer to see on a decent TV as opposed to a stuttering stream on my laptop. And while G was watching football on Sunday, I watched episode 1 of a series called Rainbow (available on Hulu) that had me tearing up within five minutes, so I'm definitely interested in seeing more. It's about a group of Japanese teenagers in the 1950's who are sent to a correctional facility. It promises to get pretty grim, so I better have an upbeat "chaser" at the ready if I stick with it.

What's the most memorable thing you've seen on one of your trips?

Two geisha strolling through Kiyomizu-dera in Kyoto. I actually had to sit down and take a moment to compose myself because I was so overwhelmed by their beauty.

What's the worst trip you've ever taken?

When I was 12 years old, my family and I visited Lake Tahoe. The lake was beautiful, of course, but the weather was absolutely wretched and I got sicker than a dog. I wound up spending most of the trip in the hotel room, eating chicken soup and hot cocoa from the vending machine down the hall and listlessly paging through magazines.

And the best?

My Kyoto/Osaka/Tokyo visit in 2005. It was the perfect combination of traditional Japan and futuristic neon dazzle Japan.

How was that new Stephen King book?

Well, as of this writing I'm on page 480 (out of 849) of 11/22/63, so I can't give a full review yet. But so far it's quite good! I'm not a big fan of the time travel genre, but I love the period detail.

Speaking of Stephen King, the one time I ever got in trouble in school was because I was reading It in back of my home ec class. This may explain why I can't cook.

What's on your nightstand?

A lamp with a leopard print shade, a wooden folk art angel, a vase, an alarm clock, a framed picture of my mom at the age of 24, a framed picture of my parents, a Voluspa Santiago huckleberry candle, a box of matches, and a copy of In Style.

Reading your video game entry about Silent Hill 2 made me want to play the series. Do I need to play them in order?

It's preferable, but if you wanted to, you could safely play SH2 and SH4 out of order, since they're "stand alone" games. However, I would very strongly urge you NOT to play SH3 or SH: Shattered Memories before the first Silent Hill, for spoilery reasons that I won't go into.

By the way, not that you asked, but here's how I rank the Silent Hill games from favorite to least:

  • Silent Hill 2 (big mega-love)
  • Silent Hill (the scariest game I ever have, or ever will, play unless technology advances to the point that the monsters actually come out of the screen, at which time I will stop playing survival horror games because I don't particularly want to die of a heart attack)
  • Silent Hill 3 (Heather kicked ass)
  • Silent Hill Origins (highly underrated in my opinion)
  • Silent Hill: Homecoming (probably the second scariest, thanks to those fucking Schism monsters)
  • Silent Hill 4 (which wasn't even supposed to be a Silent Hill game in the first place---they got halfway through and decided to use the name to boost sales---but it still has some good scares and delicious protagonist Henry Townshend)
  • Silent Hill: Shattered Memories (not a bad game, but I hated the lack of weaponry)

If you won the lottery tomorrow, how would you quit your job?

::pause to wistfully consider this glorious dream for a couple of minutes::

I would strut into work with a boombox on one shoulder, blasting the Dead Kennedys' version of "Take This Job and Shove It". A group of scantily clad men and women would follow behind me, holding an enormous cake shaped like Cartman and inscribed with the words "Screw you guys, I'm going home". I would place this cake upon the communal treat table, clean out my cube, and dance the fuck out of the building. Then I would buy this house near G that's built in a French chateau style and has a vineyard and a lavender garden in front, and the media room would feature two huge TVs next to each other so G and I could play co-op Dead Rising 2, and I would have A COKE MACHINE. Yes, I can put cans of soda in my fridge, but there's something about that satisfying ker-CHUNK when a frosty can of soda comes tumbling down the chute.

Side note: whenever I hear somebody say that they wouldn't quit their job if they won the lottery, I fervently pray that they never win the lottery because they don't deserve to. I'll make an exception for somebody who's doing something incredibly valuable, like researching a cure for cancer, or artistic, but that's about it. "Oh, I'd get so bored!" Shit, son, then do some volunteer work!

I didn't know you had a tattoo! What is it, when and where did you get it, and why did you pick what you got?

It's Hello Kitty peeking over a blue winged heart; I got the design off a piece of stationery. I got it in 1999, but I don't remember the name of the shop. My coworker E took me to the place where he got his tribal tattoo. (It went all the way around his bicep, and he cheerfully admitted "I cried like a pussy, man. That shit hurt!") I was nervous as hell, but it was such a simple tattoo that it didn't take very long. The worst part for me was the outlining, which felt like getting a paper cut over and over again; the coloring barely hurt at all, though I should mention that friends of mine had the exact opposite experience, so caveat emptor.

I've loved Hello Kitty since she first hit American shores in 1976, and I have fond memories of going to the Sanrio store with my mom and picking out a goodie, although technically my first Sanrio purchase was a Little Twin Stars diary. (I still have it, and it's awesome; the first entry, dated January 7th, 1977, says "Today I played. We had steak dinner and then I played with Tommy Gray [my cat]. I love Tommy Gray!!!") So to me, my tattoo represents my love of Japanese pop culture, cute things, and cats, as well as serving as a reminder of some of my happiest childhood days. I'm not going to get any more tattoos, but I have never regretted this one.

You write about so many things you read or watch. This time you create something.

I am a publisher/producer/director -- whatever. Pick your genre. Sell me your tale. The more over-the-top, the better.

Meg's a lonely young woman who works in a Lenscrafters-type store by day and spends evenings in her tiny apartment, curled up on her couch and wondering why her life sucks so bad. Then one day, an accident with the lens grinding machine floods Meg's system with radiation and gives her superpowers. She becomes Megane (Japanese for "glasses"), fighting against evil and trying to catch the eye of hunky fellow superhero Lazer. But is Lazer what he seems, or will he break Megane's heart like a pair of hornrimmed glasses over the knee of a bully?

Monday, November 14, 2011

games of our lives, part 7: Persona 4

In this fantastic RPG, you play a Japanese teenager (you get to choose his name at the beginning of the game; I used my own, which made it rather funny when a classmate cooed "I...I love you, [sairentohiru]-kun") who has just moved to the small town of Inaba. Your parents have transferred overseas for their jobs, so you move in with your uncle and six-year-old niece. Everyone at school is fascinated by you because you're from the big city, and you make fast friends with tomboy Chie, lovable klutz Yosuke (my favorite character), and shy beauty Yukiko. They tell you about the rumor sweeping school: if you watch the Midnight Channel at (duh) midnight when it's raining, you'll see the image of your soulmate.

Almost immediately after your arrival, weird things begin happening. The body of a famous newscaster is found hanging from an antenna, and soon afterwards, the corpse of a teenage girl turns up in a similar state. People claim that they saw the victims on the Midnight Channel shortly before their deaths, and you discover that you can enter television sets, where you wind up in a strange land populated by monsters called Shadows...and a cuddly mascot character named Teddie. It becomes evident that this place holds the key to the murders, and you and your friends set out to solve the mystery once and for all. Along the way, you add new members to your team: former idol Rise, misunderstood thug Kanji, and amateur detective Naoto.

Now, it may seem like an alternate reality populated by monsters would be a dangerous place for a group of teenagers, and it is, but you have a big advantage. Each character has their own "Shadow": a secret part of them that they're afraid to acknowledge. For example, Yukiko comes across as aloof, but her shadow is a monstrous princess who wants nothing more than to be saved by a man. And Kanji thinks he might be gay, so his shadow is a flamboyant, musclebound, rose-bedecked creature who purrs "Mmmm, give me more!" before pounding on you. Once the characters defeat their Shadows, they accept that part of themselves, and the Shadow becomes a Persona: an ally with special skills who will fight on their behalf.

But it's not enough to just collect Personas. (You're the only character who gets more than one.) You also have to develop social links, which allow you to make bigger and better Personas in a process so confusing that I left it entirely in G's (an RPG vet) capable hands. Social links are created by making friends and spending time with them. You can also form romantic attachments (though, unlike Fable 2 or Rockstar's brilliant Bully, you can't woo other guys, which is a shame), join clubs, and work at part-time jobs to earn money and boost your stats. It got a bit hectic trying to juggle school, extracurricular reading, three part-time jobs, basketball club, music club, chilling with friends, AND killing monsters, but that was part of the fun.

The storyline is intriguing, and there are plenty of poignant and funny moments sprinkled throughout. The music can be repetitive, but it's so enjoyable (especially the glittering J-pop gem "Your Affection") that I didn't mind. And the voice acting is top notch, with the jarring exception of Chie. The other voice actors make up for it though, especially Yuri Lowenthal as Yosuke, Johnny Yong Bosch as bumbling detective Adachi, and Troy Baker as Kanji. (Anyone who watches a lot of dubbed anime should recognize those names!) Aside from fusing new Personas, it's a very user-friendly game, even for RPG n00bs like me. Even the instruction book is terrific; it explains the various honorifics used in the game and certain items which might confuse Americans, like the kotatsu (a heated table used during winter).

Will RPGs ever replace survival horror as my video game genre of choice? Hell to the no. But if more RPGs were like Persona 4, it would be a much closer race.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

games of our lives, part 6: Dead Space 2

CONSUMER ADVISORY: This is a repost of my original review from January because I couldn't bring myself to rewrite the whole damn thing.

Back in 2008, G and I played Dead Space, a survival horror game set on a monster-infested spaceship. By the time we'd finished, I knew that I'd be checking out any future installments, though I doubted they could be anywhere near as frightening.

Yeah. Color me wrong, because Dead Space 2 surpassed its predecessor on that front and then some.

When DS2 begins, Isaac Clarke, the protagonist from the first game, is suffering from amnesia in a mental hospital. He manages to escape, but of course he's not free and clear; not only does he have to deal with monsters, but the few uninfected humans on the ship are all members of Unitology, a religious cult that worships a Marker of alien origin and wants to capture Isaac for nefarious purposes. And why does Isaac's dead (and very angry) girlfriend keep talking to him?

In handy list format, here are the things that rock about this game:

  • The original game had an awesome feature that they were smart to carry over: instead of constantly pulling up and consulting a map, you press the right joystick, and a glowing blue line shows you where you need to go. This is a terrific idea, especially for people like me who have trouble reading maps, and they improved upon it by adding different colored lines to lead you to the nearest store (where you can buy ammo, healing, and weapons) or bench (where you can upgrade your rig and weapons). They also kept two other innovations from the first game, though they didn't change them: stasis, which allows you to slow things down, and kinesis, which lets you pick up them from a distance.
  • Isaac didn't talk at all in the first game, but he does in this one, and they picked a great voice actor. Actually, most of the voice acting in DS2 is good.
  • The graphics and sound design are absolutely stunning. I wanted to stop and admire the backgrounds many times, but I was usually too busy trying not to get slaughtered.
  • Most of all, THIS GAME IS FUCKING TERRIFYING. It's the second most frightening game I've ever played. (The first Silent Hill game takes the bloodstained sash.) There were times when I almost didn't want to go on because my nerves were so frayed. And DS2 doesn't rely strictly on jump scares, though there are plenty of those. The atmosphere will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. From blood-spattered walls to whispering from people you can't see, DS2 will have you tense from the second it starts. And oh god, the monsters! There's a new addition to the series that looks sort of like a large plucked bird, only not as funny as that might sound. They tend to lurk in open areas, and you'll be walking around and suddenly see one of their heads pop out from behind a crate or wall. It's like a sadistic game of peek-a-boo, because when you aim your gun at them, they hide. Then, just as you think you can start moving again, they charge at you making THE MOST HIDEOUS NOISE I'VE EVER HEARD. I don't know if that noise triggered some long-buried traumatic memory in me or what, but if it was my turn to play and I heard them running around, I had to pause and pass the controller over to G. I absolutely could not deal with them; they're like the satanic pets of Silent Hill's skinless demon children. During one area that was particularly rife with those fuckers, I was practically rocking back and forth on G's couch.

Bad things about this game: uh, it ended? (Though considering what a toll it took on my nerves, that might not be such a bad thing!) The story can be a bit confusing even if you've played the original Dead Space. It's REALLY difficult at times, which can lead to frustration. And there were a few zero gravity sections that made me nauseated, so if you get simulator sickness and don't have someone awesome like G to take over during those areas, you might have a tough time of it.

Anyway, if you have the intestinal fortitude and you love survival horror games, it doesn't get much scarier than Dead Space 2. I think its tagline should be "In space, no one can hear you shit your pants."

Saturday, November 12, 2011

games of our lives, part 5: Dead Rising 2

CONSUMER ADVISORY: This is a repost of my original review from last year because I couldn't bring myself to rewrite the whole damn thing.

In this sequel, Chuck Greene (who can get it, know what I'm sayin'?) replaces intrepid journalist Frank West as the protagonist. Chuck is a motocross champion and the reluctant star of Terror Is Reality, a TV show where the contestants must slaughter as many zombies as possible. Chuck is morally conflicted by taking place in the show, but because he has to buy outrageously expensive medicine to keep his infected daughter Katey from turning into a zombie, he feels like he has no choice. After filming an episode, Chuck is heading backstage when the arena is rocked by an explosion that frees the zombies. Chuck and Katey make it to Fortune City's emergency shelter just in time. But Chuck finds out that he's being framed for the zombie escape, and in the 72 hours before the military arrives, he has to clear his name, make sure Katey gets her Zombrex every 24 hours, and rescue as many survivors as he can.

Whereas Dead Rising took place almost entirely in one large shopping mall, Chuck has an entire city to explore. He can visit casinos, shopping malls, and even peep shows. (You don't get to see anything, though.) You can earn money by playing/smashing slot machines and ATMs or as a reward for escorting certain survivors, and you'll need it in case you can't find any free Zombrex, because looters have taken over the pawn shop and are happy to sell you a dose for an exorbitant price.

Can you pick it up? Then you can use it as a weapon! Bottles of ketchup and mustard, chainsaws, stuffed animals...they're all fair game. But in a new twist, you can also combine certain weapons to make a superpowered new one. Some of them are funny as hell (like a giant stuffed bear that turns into an automatic killing machine when combined with a machine gun, or a revamped electric guitar that dispenses head burstin' riffs), some of them are seriously nasty (a pitchfork/shotgun combo that stabs zombies and then systematically shoots off each limb), but they're all wildly effective and help you level up quickly.

Zombies aren't your only foes in DR2. You also have to contend with human psychopaths who have either been driven mad by the outbreak or are just taking advantage of the chaos. Some of the most memorable are a horrifying creep (voiced by Patton Oswalt!) in a pig-shaped bondage mask who's trying to force a young woman to marry him, a delusional diva who thinks the zombies are her fans, and a chef who's making nasty meat-based dishes that would never get a USDA stamp.

Other great things about this game: they improved the survivor AI, so they don't need constant babysitting. With the exception of an elderly woman who sounds all of 25, the voice acting is terrific, especially Bibi Love (the aforementioned diva) and TK, the charismatic emcee of Terror Is Reality. It can be very funny; for example, you can use a dildo as a weapon, some of the zombies refuse to budge from the slot machine they're playing (just like Vegas!), and Chuck can change into outfits including women's clothes (though he's not as enthusiastic about it as Frank West), toddler pajamas, and even a Borat swimsuit. The graphics are seriously awesome, and even with up to 7000 zombies onscreen at a time, you can still see a lot of detail in their faces. The soundtrack is quite good; background music fits its location perfectly (like thumping techno in a nightclub and oom-pah-pah music in a bratwurst restaurant), and the sound effects are appropriately creepy. One of the zombie noises actually made the hair stand up on the back of my neck! And DR2 has something that the original lacked: a heart. Finding Zombrex for Katey isn't just a mindless "fetch quest"; you care about Katey and want to keep her safe. The relationship between Chuck and his daughter is genuinely sweet.

Like Dead Rising, DR2 has a story mode. You can play the game without doing the story segments, but then you'll never know the truth behind the zombie outbreak. G and I started off doing story mode, but we got our asses handed to us by a couple of nasty sword-wielding bitches, and time ran out. Were we happy? No, we were not; assorted swear words were screamed at the TV. So we decided to just play through the game several times to level up, and that proved to be a wise decision indeed. Even the instruction manual advises players to level up a bit before tackling story mode. Take their advice, and mine, because some of the bosses are excruciatingly difficult even at a high level; they'd probably be borderline impossible if you weren't sufficiently leveled up. DR2 is so much fun that you won't mind playing it several times, believe me.

I was leery when Capcom passed off development duties to Blue Castle, but I'm sorry for doubting them because DR2 wound up replacing the original in my top 10 list. Video games don't get much more addictive than this.

Friday, November 11, 2011

games of our lives, part 4: Illbleed

WARNING: I am going to spoil the everlovin' shit out of this game. I figure if you haven't already played this cult classic, you probably never will, especially since it would require hunting down a defunct gaming console and a copy of the game.

I'll be perfectly honest: the next time I play a game that deserves to be in my top 10 of all time, Illbleed will be the one that gets kicked off the list to make room. But man, is it FUN. It's by far one of the weirdest, nastiest games I've ever played.

Eriko Christy is the character you must control during your first playthrough, and although you can choose to play as one of her friends on subsequent playthroughs, I wouldn't recommend it. Why? Well, I'll get to that shortly. Despite (or perhaps because of) the sadistic tricks her father used to play on her, Eriko loves horror movies and forms the Horror Movie Research Club with her friends Michel, Randy, and Kevin.

One day, Michel comes to a club meeting with invitations to Illbleed, a new horror theme park that promises a prize of $100 million to anyone who makes it through alive. Eriko is completely skeptical and decides not to go, but when her friends disappear during a visit to the park, she heads to Illbleed to look for them.

Well, I'll admit that I almost gave up about 10 minutes into this game because I absolutely couldn't figure out how to continue. But after some intensive clicking around the screen, I found the horror monitor. This handy little item alerts you to things in the area that might frighten or harm you, and if you're suspicious of something, you can "tag" it. If you were correct, you disarm the item in question. Of course, you can't just go around tagging everything willy-nilly, because it will use up all your adrenaline, plus it would ruin the fun of being attacked by things like fanged loaves of bread and butt statues that crap on you. Eriko is very hard to scare to begin with (hence my endorsement two paragraphs ago), so when she's equipped with the monitor, she's by far the strongest character in the game.

Illbleed is broken up into several stages.

THE HOMERUN OF DEATH: Many years ago, a motel called Chateau Banballow was burned down by teenagers playing a prank. The owner's son Jimmy, who was practicing baseball in the basement, was killed and Mr. Banballow was horribly disfigured. Of course, now he must take revenge on all teenagers with the help of his trusty flamethrower. This is the only stage that actually scared me (not counting the dozens of jump scares) because of the section where you're trying to make your way through a maze with Banballow hot on your heels.

THE REVENGE OF QUEEN WORM: In this Tremors parody, an abandoned campsite has been taken over by enormous worms. At the end of this stage, Rachel (the queen worm) and her worm farmer "father" are reunited in Heaven in a truly fucked up cinema.

WOODPUPPETS: A monstrous tree takes over a lumber mill and turns the workers into wooden puppets. At one point, you are turned into a wooden puppet too, which is funny as shit. Your friend Randy can be rescued in this level, but if you don't find his brain first, he becomes, um, very mentally challenged. Like, a jaw-droppingly offensive parody of a mentally challenged person.

KILLER DEPARTMENT STORE: Donald Cashman ran a popular department store before completely losing his shit. Now his store is filled with all sorts of dangerous things, not least of which is Mr. Cashman himself. And don't forget the Cake from Hell!

(Skip to 2:07 to gaze upon this grisly gateau.)

KILLERMAN: By far my least favorite level, in, I don't remember. I just remember it was a slog.

TOYHUNTER: Ever wanted to play as a cross between Woody from Toy Story and Indiana Jones? Well, here's your chance! Cork Inda's beautiful girlfriend, Sexy Doll (yes, really), has been kidnapped by Sonic the Hedgehog Zodick the Hellhog. Cork needs to go to Toy Hell to rescue her, so he purposely gives his owner a seizure so the kid will die and Cork can be buried with him. (Yes, really.) When you finally rescue Sexy Doll, this happens:

...dat ass.

MICHAEL REYNOLDS' HORROR MUSEUM: In the final stage, oddly enough, you get to choose the final boss. There's Fearspider (easy), Oh No Man (a headless dude swinging dual weapons), and Bullstinger, who's such a pain in the ass that I only chose him once.

Now, if you're playing a second time as Eriko and don't bother to save any of your friends along the way, your clothing becomes more and more tattered until you wind up facing the REAL final boss in nothing but a few scraps of fabric and some strategically placed smears of dirt and blood.

And who is that final boss?

Eriko's father.

Yes, you wind up fighting your own father while practically naked, and boy does he have some icky comments about THAT.

So let's recap. Illbleed's got fountains and fountains of gore (and occasionally shit), a parody of a mentally challenged individual, a bootylicious sex doll, child murder, a very injury prone cartoon character named Fall Down Bear, and a final ending that would make Elektra wince at its sheer wrongness. And how, exactly, did this game get released in America? I don't know, but despite its flaws---and make no mistake, they are legion---I'm damn glad it did.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


TEMPERATURE OUTSIDE: 70 degrees. I love Southern California so damn much. Well, except for the traffic/crowds. Those suck.

CLOTHES: Plain black t-shirt, jeans, sneakers, the usual undergarments.

PERFUME: Um...With Love. Yes, Hilary Duff's perfume. But you know what? I am only mildly ashamed because I got it dirt cheap and it smells really good. Amber-based fragrances tend to be overwhelming on me (and forget about patchouli, oy), but the other notes balance it out very nicely.

BOOK: 11/22/63 by Stephen King. It came out on Tuesday and the library had a copy waiting for me yesterday. I absolutely mega-heart my local library, and if, in a dystopian not-so-future, forces of censorship ever threaten to close it down, I will take up arms (a la the manga series Library Wars) and fight to the death for that place.

LUNCH PLANS: I'm going to walk over to Barnes & Noble, read magazines, and buy a giftcard for my brother's Christmas present. I already ate lunch at my desk, and about two minutes after I finished eating, I got to look at pictures of somebody's gaping head wound. Worst. Dessert. Ever.

IRRITATIONS: Outlook, which is literally the ONE thing I need to do my job properly, is slower than a molasses-covered sloth in January. Also, Jesus Chandler Christ, could my coworkers be any fucking louder? One of them laughs exactly like a cartoon witch. What, do I work in a coven? And Netflix has Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva in very long wait status, and since you know they bought like one copy of it, I'll never get to see it. Yes, this is the very definition of a white people problem but I don't care.

SONG: "His Name's Frank!" by Lifeseeker, a fitting tribute to Frank West, kick-ass photojournalist, women's clothes aficionado, and zombie slayer extraordinaire. I like to bump this song in my car and pretend that I'm cool. The lyrics are really funny, too; my favorite lines are "Taking zombie upskirts/is he a necrophiliac?"

NAMES FOR MY DREAM CATS: I would love to adopt two male British shorthair kittens and name them Oscar (after Oscar Wilde) and Bosie (after Lord Alfred Douglas, who was known as "Bosie" and was the love of Oscar Wilde's life). Every single British shorthair cat in the world is named Winston and we need to buck the trend! G and I have also decided that cats named Momo and Appa (after the flying lemur and sky bison from Avatar: The Last Airbender) would be kinda boss.

CRAVING: G time (less than 48 hours away!). A massage (7 hours away!). And Whole Foods has a key lime tart with a shortbread crust in their bakery that is just fucking sublime (not happening any time soon!).

QUOTE: "If my life wasn't funny, it would just be true, and that is unacceptable." (Carrie Fisher)

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

games of our lives, part 3: Resident Evil 4

And now we come to the third installment of this series, in which I talk at length about my 10 favorite video games of all time.

(Ignore that "Only For" sticker in the top left of the picture; RE4 is now available on the Playstation 2 and the Wii as well.)

Resident Evil 4 holds a special place in my heart for many reasons, but two in particular: it brought back my favorite video game character of all time and it's the first RE game I got to play with G, who's also a huge fan of the series.

In RE4, gorgeous floppy-haired badass Leon S. Kennedy is recruited by the Secret Service for a very important mission: the President's daughter, Ashley Graham, has been kidnapped by a sinister cult called Los Illuminados. Leon travels to Spain to rescue Ashley, find out the truth behind the cult, and confront a mysterious figure from his past.

RE4 has one of the most memorable openings in video game history. Leon walks up to a house in rural Spain and is immediately attacked by dozens of villagers who have been infected by a parasite, turning them into bloodthirsty zombie-like "Ganados". After a seemingly endless and ferocious battle, a bell rings and the villagers stagger away from Leon, muttering to themselves as they file into the church. Leon stands in the middle of the now-deserted town and says, "Where's everybody going, bingo?"

Cue title screen.

G and I absolutely flipped the fuck OUT. We were practically wringing our hands with maniacal glee because we knew we were in for a treat.

RE4 has gorgeous graphics, excellent voice acting (which was not generally the case in previous RE games), epic boss battles, a fun treasure hunting aspect, and pulse-pounding action. Between the Gamecube and PS2 versions, G and I probably sank at least 100 hours into this game and didn't regret a second of it. It's one of only three games I'd give a perfect 10---I've already written about the other two---and absolutely essential for anybody who loves action games. It knocked my socks off and then put them back on for the sole purpose of knocking them right off again.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to do.

Ay, papi, dios mio...