Tuesday, January 31, 2012

media update: January

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


1. High Before Homeroom by Maya Sloan: Desperate to get the attention of his dream girl, who only dates bad boys, a teenager decides to get addicted to meth. Not particularly realistic, but I enjoyed it, and the author does a terrific job at capturing a teenager's personality.

Side note: this book has one of the ugliest covers I've ever seen. I couldn't figure out why there was a picture of a woman's back with a tattoo of an opium pipe and a football with a Facebook "like" icon in the middle. Upon flipping the book over, I saw that it was actually a closeup of the author's back, and she was born and raised in Oklahoma. A light bulb went off in my head, and I googled Oklahoma. Turns out that the tattoo is Oklahoma's flag, and it's actually a peace pipe and a drum with the outline of Oklahoma in the middle. Um, what? True, the book is set in Oklahoma and a similar tattoo shows up near the end, but neither one of those things is a crucial plot point. Somewhere, an unemployed graphic designer is holding this book in his/her hands and wailing.

2. Red Ruby Heart in a Cold Blue Sea by Morgan Callan Rogers: In the early 1960’s, young Florine’s world is shattered when her mother Carlie disappears. She tries to cope with the help of her father and grandmother, but the loss of her mother is always at the forefront of her mind. It’s a bit melodramatic, but I liked it.


1. Ravenous by Dayna Macy: A memoir about the author's attempts to understand her lifelong obsession with food. It never really goes anywhere all that interesting, but I did learn one tidbit: black olives are just green olives that have been allowed to ripen. Who knew?

2. The Serial Killer Whisperer by Pete Earley: After recovering from a horrifying head injury, teenager Tony Ciaglia suffered brain damage that affected his ability to control his emotions. He became obsessed with serial killers and began corresponding with dozens of them. Perhaps because they could tell he was genuinely impartial, many of them shared details about their crimes that they'd never told anyone before. Absolutely not for the squeamish; it contains graphic descriptions of some truly depraved shit. But if you're interested in true crime, this is pretty fascinating. Awful title, though.

3. The New New Rules* by Bill Maher: A delightfully cynical collection of rules and rants from one of my favorite smartasses. One of my favorite quips: “Stop telling me your toddler is going to be a heartbreaker or that she’s flirting with me. It’s just creepy, and it makes me regret having lunch alone at a Chuck E. Cheese.”


1. Kobato vol. 5 by CLAMP

2. My Girlfriend's A Geek vol. 5 (final volume) by Rize Shinba and Pentabu

3. 20th Century Boys vol. 18 by Naoki Urasawa

4. Deadman Wonderland* vols. 4-5 by Jinsei Kataoka and Kazuma Kondou

5. Walkin' Butterfly* vols. 2-3 by Chihiro Tamaki

6. Kamisama Kiss vol. 6 by Julietta Suzuki

7. Sweet Tooth vol. 3 by Jeff Lemire

8. Black Bird vol. 12 by Kanoko Sakurakoji

9. Fables: Super Team by Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham

10. Sakura Hime vols. 2-5 by Arina Tanemura

11. Morning Glories vol. 2 by Nick Spencer and Joe Eisma: If you've read this volume, please make yourself known as I have a burning question about a particular plot point. (Yes, I googled my question, but I didn't come up with an answer.)

12. The Walking Dead* vol. 15 by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard

13. The Boys* vol. 9 by Garth Ennis, Russ Braun, John McCrea, and Darick Robertson

14. The Pro by Garth Ennis, Amanda Conner, and Jimmy Palmiotti


1. Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva*: When Professor Layton receives a special invitation to the opera, he and his young apprentice Luke discover a huge mystery instead. The occasional CGI crammed into the traditional 2D animation can be jarring, but if you're a fan of the video game series, you're sure to enjoy this as well.

2. Hachi: A Dog's Tale: When Hachi's owner Parker dies, Hachi keeps returning to the station where he used to meet Parker every day. This is an American take on the true story of Hachiko, a Japanese dog whose loyalty caused a statue to be erected in his honor in Shibuya, and it made me cry. And I'm not talking about misty eyes or a delicate tear trickling slowly down my cheek, I'm talking full on, rivers of snot, shoulder heaving, audible SOBBING. If you plan on watching this, have a box of Kleenex handy...two if you're a dog lover.

Side note: Y'all know I love cats more than just about anything, but there could never be a feline equivalent of Hachiko. A cat would be all "Oh, you died? Didn't even notice. Whatever, bitch, just feed my ass and then get the fuck out."

3. Oceans: A gorgeously shot documentary about (spoiler alert!) the ocean and its inhabitants, marred somewhat by ho-hum narration.

4. The Hangover 2: Seriously, did they just run the screenplay for the first movie through word replacement software? ("Okay, replace Vegas with Thailand, and...let's see, tiger with monkey...brother-in-law missing instead of friend...monk instead of baby...") They even wrap up the movie with photographs of their debauchery set to a Flo Rida song. It's basically the exact same movie as the first one, except they also extracted most of the humor while they were at it. I think I laughed twice.

Side note: I had a dream in which Bradley Cooper offered me $10 million to marry him and be his beard for a full year. I would only be allowed to talk to G over e-mail, the phone, and Skype, lest the paparazzi see us and realize that Bradley and I were naught but a sham, but once the marriage was dissolved, we could get back together. I was very sorry to wake up and realize I'd been dreaming. Yeah, it would supremely suck to be away from G for a year, but with $10 million we could both quit our jobs and spend the rest of our lives together in zombie killin' harmony.

Bradley Cooper, if you're reading this, call me.

5. Love Actually*: Set in London during the weeks before Christmas, this is a sweet ensemble comedy that succeeds where imitators like Valentine's Day and New Year's Eve failed. It was a bit overstuffed with all the different subplots, but you can't beat a cast that features Alan Rickman, Colin Firth, Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, Laura Linney, the dude who plays Rick on The Walking Dead (and wow was it weird hearing him with a British accent), AND Liam Neeson.

6. Cowboys & Aliens: The title doesn't lie; this is in fact a movie about cowboys and aliens fighting against each other in the Wild West. An interesting premise, and Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig are always a treat to watch, but this just didn't do it for me.

7. Colombiana: A young girl named Cataleya watches in horror as her parents are murdered in front of her. When she gets older, she becomes super hot Zoe Saldana, an elite assassin out for revenge. Some decent action, but not essential viewing.

8. Don't Be Afraid of the Dark: Sally is a little girl who's none too happy about moving in with her father and his girlfriend, but things get even worse when it turns out the house is infested with strange creatures who have very bad intentions for her. It's not a bad little thriller, and Bailee Madison is quite good as Sally. Bonus points for the really cool opening credits.

9. Final Destination 5: On a bus headed to a company retreat, Sam wakes up from a nightmare in which the suspension bridge they're on collapses and kills all of them. He freaks out and convinces his friends to get off the bus just as the cables snap and the bridge falls apart for real. But he soon learns that death doesn't like to be cheated as his friends are killed in increasingly gruesome ways. Some innovative gore, and the bridge scene is really intense and well done, but oh my CHRIST could I not watch the eye surgery death. I took that opportunity to pee and grab a refreshing beverage.

Side note: there's a Lollipop Chainsaw trailer before the movie! Need that game immediately plz and thx.

10. Paranormal Activity 3*: In this prequel, young Katie has an invisible friend named Toby who’s perhaps not as imaginary as her family believes. After strange things begin happening around the house, her mother’s boyfriend Dennis sets up cameras to catch the activity on film. I’m giving this one a star primarily because it had what I consider to be the scariest scene in the franchise so far.

11. 50/50*: Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is horrified when the back pain he’s been experiencing turns out to be a malignant tumor. And if chemotherapy, surgery, and confronting his own mortality aren’t enough, Adam also has to deal with a well-meaning but awkward therapist, an overbearing mother, and a girlfriend who can’t cope with his diagnosis. You wouldn’t think a movie about cancer would be funny; you’d be wrong. But don’t forget your tissues, or by the time this wonderful movie ends, you’ll be using your sleeve instead.

12. Warrior: Two estranged brothers, one a physics teacher and the other a troubled veteran, compete in a mixed martial arts tournament in hopes of winning the $5 million grand prize. Some great fight scenes, but it could have been shortened by a good 30 minutes in my opinion.


1. "Deadman's Gun" by Ashtar Command

2. "Teenage Dream" by Katy Perry

3. "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" by Katy Perry

4. "E.T." by Katy Perry

5. "Someone Like You" by Adele

6. "Sofi Needs A Ladder" by deadmau5

7. "I Ran" by Ska Rangers

8. "Rolling in the Deep" by Adele

9. "Rumor Has It" by Adele

10. "Lovesong" by Adele

11. "Bitch" by Eminem

12. "Girls" by the Beastie Boys

13. "Bullet with Butterfly Wings" by Smashing Pumpkins

14. "Flagpole Sitter" by Harvey Danger

15. "Sabotage" by the Beastie Boys

16. "Intergalactic" by the Beastie Boys

17. "Tonight, Tonight" by Smashing Pumpkins

18. "Today" by Smashing Pumpkins

19. "Brass Monkey" by the Beastie Boys

20. "Disarm" by Smashing Pumpkins

21. "Permanent Vacation" (instrumental from the Trigun OST)

22. "Opening Theme" (instrumental from the Trigun OST)

23. "Paul Revere" by the Beastie Boys

24. "Lose Yourself" by Eminem


I was really stoked to play this addition to the Red Dead Redemption universe because I loved RDR and I looooooooooove zombies. Unfortunately, Undead Nightmare turned out to be somewhat underwhelming.

Once again, you play as semi-reformed outlaw John Marston. He's at home with his wife Abigail and son Jack when their hired hand, newly zombified, makes a snack out of Abigail's neck. Abigail promptly bites Jack, and John hogties both of them and sets out to find some answers.

Along the way, you'll run into familiar people from the original game, such as snake oil merchant Nigel West Dickens, creepy necrophiliac graverobber Seth, and feisty rancher Bonnie MacFarlane. While you attempt to solve the mystery of the outbreak and find a cure for your family, you can also assist survivors in clearing out their infected towns.

Here's my main problem with Undead Nightmare: it gets SO repetitive! Even if you clear out a town, it will eventually get overrun again, so you have to rush right back and save it once more, which gets old. If you don't save it, the town is "lost", which means you can no longer use it as a home base for saving and fast travel. (And believe me, with the amount of territory this game covers, you absolutely need that fast travel option.)

In other negatives, the controls are surprisingly unresponsive at times, and there's an irritating graveyard fight that took so long to beat that we thought the game had glitched.

Many of the good things from RDR are present, though. The voice acting is still superb, the dialogue still crackles, and the backgrounds are still beautiful. And John Marston is kind of hot in his union suit!

If you're a fan of Red Dead Redemption or the zombie genre, then I can recommend Undead Nightmare as long as you keep my caveats in mind. But whereas I couldn't wait to get back to RDR when we were playing it, Undead Nightmare was more of a slog than anything else.




I'll be going into suspended animation until 11/20/12. Please hold my mail.


Jesus, this video brought back so many memories of my clubbing days. I was seatdancing like nobody's business up in here.