Monday, April 30, 2012

media update: April

A shorter media update than usual this month, at least as far as movies are concerned, because G and I got addicted to Game of Thrones. It's like Lord of the Rings with lots of sex and gore, which is to say: awesome. (Though I must say it was weird, especially since we just finished The Wire, when the dude who played Tommy Carcetti popped up as Littlefinger.) And oh my god, Peter Dinklage as Tyrion? SO FUCKING BOSS.

And, of course, I'm also in the middle of Silent Hill Downpour. My major non-spoilery beefs with it so far are that the frame rate stutters like you wouldn't believe---a patch is forthcoming, so if you're planning on buying it, you might want to wait until the patch is available---and some of the side quests have had really disappointing payoffs. One in particular took forever to finish because it involved running all over hell's half-acre to find several items, and then when you finished you got the lamest fucking "present" for your trouble.

On the plus side, it's creepy as shit. I have no idea why so many of the reviews said it isn't scary, but I can assure you it is. (And I've been a SH fanatic for 13 years, so you can trust me on this.) Sample conversation while playing:

[After walking outside an apartment building for about ten minutes, trying to find a way inside]

ME: How the hell do I get into this fucking building?
G: Do you want to use a hint coin? (Note: because he thinks that helping me every time I get stuck ruins the experience, which of course is true, he refuses to say anything unless I'm completely stumped and ask for assistance.)
ME: No, wait, I think I figured it out. La la la...

[redacting method of entry so as not to spoil it for potential players]


[G snickering]

ME: I don't want to open that door! Fuck! Fuck! Oh...oh my god...FUUUUUUCK

[opening door]


Considering the toll these games take on my nerves, don't ask me why I love them so much. But oh do I ever. (And yes, I really do swear that much while gaming. Also while conscious.)

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


1. What They Do in the Dark* by Amanda Coe: This intensely disturbing novel follows two young British girls in the 1970's. Pauline lives in poverty and squalor and gets in constant trouble for bullying at school. Gemma has everything she needs in the material sense, but her parents' divorce has turned her world upside down. But upon hearing that her favorite actress, child star Lallie Paluza, is coming to town to shoot a movie, Gemma forms an unlikely friendship with Pauline that turns into something much more sinister.

The chapters alternate between Gemma, Pauline, a couple of minor characters, and Quentin, an American woman working on the film. I really wish the author had substituted Lallie for Quentin; I didn't think her chapters added much at all. But that's a relatively minor quibble because this excellent book still left me seriously unnerved. One scene in particular was so horrifying that I'm still having a hard time shaking it. Highly recommended for fans of Mo Hayder and Gillian Flynn.

Side note: if you're not British, be prepared to look up a whole lot of slang online. (I recommend this site, which also came in handy during my trip to England last year.) Most of it is obvious from context, but I came across a few head scratchers.

Oh, and that site is also really fun to browse through for new bits of slang. Two of my favorites: "todger dodger", which is slang for a lesbian (todger = penis), and "touching cloth", a term used when you really, really, REALLY have to take a crap.

2. Outside the Lines by Amy Hatvany: As a child, Eden watched her father struggle with mental illness until he vanished from her life for good. When she gets older, Eden decides to search for him. Melodramatic and predictable, but I liked it well enough.

3. Hand Me Down by Melanie Thorne: Elizabeth is a 14-year-old girl whose mother has gotten remarried to a convicted sex offender. When her mother chooses her husband over her children, Elizabeth and her younger sister are split up and sent to live with relatives. Like Outside the Lines, it was pretty melodramatic and predictable, but I still enjoyed it.

4. Sadie Walker Is Stranded by Madeleine Roux: After the zombie apocalypse, the title character is living in Seattle with her orphaned 8-year-old nephew Shane. But when the barriers keeping the zombies out of Seattle are knocked down, zombies flood back into Seattle, forcing Sadie and Shane to beat a hasty retreat. They eventually wind up on an island with other survivors, where the zombies are the least of their worries. I liked this much more than the author's previous zombie novel, Allison Hewitt Is Trapped, and it gets bonus points for a Silent Hill reference.


1. Kasher in the Rye: The True Tale of a White Boy from Oakland Who Became a Drug Addict, Criminal, Mental Patient, and Then Turned 16 by Moshe Kasher: Quite a subtitle, huh? He wrote my review for me!


1. Jennifer Blood by Garth Ennis, Adriano Batista, Marcos Marz, and Kewber Baal

2. Devil's Infirmary* by Aco Oumi

3. The Boys* vol. 10 by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson

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

5. Ambiguous Relationship by Masara Minase

6. Kamisama Kiss vol. 8 by Julietta Suzuki

7. Arisa vol. 7 by Natsumi Ando

8. 20th Century Boys vol. 20 by Naoki Urasawa


1. A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas*: Harold has traded his stoner lifestyle for a good job and marriage, but Kumar can't give up his pot and slacking ways, so their friendship has cooled. But when Kumar goes to Harold's house to drop off a present, he accidentally sets the Christmas tree on fire...the Christmas tree that Harold's gruff father-in-law has been nurturing since it was a seedling. So they set off on an adventure to find a new tree, helped along the way by a waffle-making robot and, of course, Neil Patrick Harris. It's extremely funny, and G and I wound up regretting the fact that we didn't catch it in 3D when it was in the theater.

2. The Descendants*: After his wife sustains life-threatening injuries during a boating accident, Hawaiian lawyer Matt King (George Clooney, superb as always) tries to cope with his two daughters, one of whom spills a very big secret. I've loved every one of Alexander Payne's movies, and his track record with me remains unblemished.

3. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol*: After secret agent Ethan Hunt and his team are blamed for bombing the Kremlin, they must track down the real culprits and prevent a nuclear catastrophe. Intense and unbelievably exciting; the sequence in which Tom Cruise clings to the outside of the tallest building in the world is just as thrilling as you've heard.

4. Immortals: In ancient Greece, a power-hungry king named Hyperion is searching for a sacred bow that will grant him the power to release the Titans. The gods are unable to interfere directly, so they pick a human named Theseus to take Hyperion down. Emotionally uninvolving, but it does have some cool action sequences, and (as you'd expect from a movie directed by Tarsem) it sure is pretty.

5. House of Tolerance: Set in a Parisian brothel at the turn of the 20th century, this...well, I basically just told you everything. You watch prostitutes lounging around chatting and having sex and, with the exception of one horrifying scene in which a client gives a woman a Joker-esque makeover with a knife, that's about it. It wasn't a bad movie, but I really don't know what the point was.


1. "Chasing Pavements" by Adele

2. "Cold Shoulder" by Adele

3. "Right As Rain" by Adele

4. "Make You Feel My Love" by Adele

5. "Tired" by Adele

6. Out of the Blue by Debbie Gibson: Okay, I think I need to justify this download! Despite our usual distaste for reality shows, Glenn and I are watching Celebrity Apprentice because Penn Jillette participated this season (and oh, how we raged when he got kicked off), and Debbie Gibson was also on for several episodes. Although she didn't come across very positively on the show, seeing her reminded me of how much I loved her music back in the day. When she first hit it big, I was in high school, and because we're the same age (give or take a couple of years; I don't care enough to Google it), I often daydreamed about being her. The fame! The whirlwind worldwide tours! The crimped hair and torn jeans and hat perched rakishly on her tousled blonde hair! And when I was in college, I bought this cassette in a thrift store for 50 cents. One time, to punish my then-boyfriend for something he'd done, I made him listen to "Red Hot", which---as a rabid fan of alternative music, techno, and NWA---he hated. I mean, he hated the entire album, but there was something about that particular track that he really despised. (This anecdote probably goes a long way towards explaining the eventual dissolution of our relationship.)

Anyway, this album is glorious eighties cheese and I regret absolutely nothing. It's simple, sweet, sparkly music that makes me feel happy and nostalgic. Ain't nothing wrong with that.


According to many of the comments on YouTube, the French in this isn't the greatest, so if that's going to bother you, don't watch it. But he's a cat! French is his second language! Cut him some slack, fer chrissakes.

Ever wondered what The Walking Dead would look like as a cheesy 80's sitcom? Now you know! Warning: contains a few really gross zombie clips from the show.

Friday, April 27, 2012

the last 10 movies I didn't finish watching part deux

This feature was surprisingly popular the last time I did it, so here it is again. As the title states, this is a list of the last 10 movies I didn't finish watching (as culled from my Netflix account history) and why they didn't cut the mustard.

Disclaimer: Just because a movie shows up on here doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad movie. I always try to give a movie at least 20-30 minutes to hook me, but my attention span has gotten grievously short as I've gotten older, so some of these may have gotten shorter shrift than usual. If there's a movie you see on here that you enjoyed and think I gave up on too quickly, please feel free to argue a case for it.

1. Sweet Movie: You know how Netflix puts a bunch of recommendations on the front page with a sidebar that says something like "Because you enjoyed [x] and [y]"? This movie came up under the heading "Cult Classics". I'd never heard of it, so I went to the page and here's what it said:

Miss World Virginity (Carole Laure), who is nearly mute, endures a horrifically kinky honeymoon but soon escapes to a scatalogically inclined commune in Vienna. Meanwhile, a madwoman pilots a candy-stuffed boat down a river. Yugoslavian director Dusan Makavajev intercuts these two wild tales with shocking footage of Nazi medical experimentation. Roger Ebert declared the button-pushing cult favorite "an experience to defy criticism."

Okay, that went straight to the top of my queue. A candy-stuffed boat? A beauty pageant to find a virgin bride for a multimillionaire (complete with gynecological exam) because, as his mother sniffs, "We don't buy used"? Sold!

But reader, do not fall into the same trap into which I ignorantly tumbled. For one thing, while reading that description, my brain somehow skipped right over the whole "shocking footage of Nazi medical experimentation". Vomit. For another, it's fucking pretentious art school garbage written by somebody who probably takes a shit and then joyfully proclaims it as a masterpiece. At around the time the yeehawin' cowboy stripped down and revealed a gold-painted penis to his screaming bride, then proceeded to whiz on her, I reached for that remote so fucking fast I caused a sonic boom in the tricounty area. I fast fowarded through the rest of it, stopping occasionally when something looked marginally interesting, and then instantly hit the fast forward button again. I shudder to think of the infections that poor woman must have gotten from writhing around completely naked in a vat of chocolate, especially since I don't think Diflucan was around in the 1970's. Instead of watching this movie, read a book, take a long walk, take a nap, or hit yourself repeatedly in the taco with a mallet. Any of these things would be far preferable.

2. Conviction: This was based on the true story of a woman who went to law school to free her brother, who was wrongfully convicted of murder. The true story is fascinating; the Hollywood version is just one step above a Lifetime movie of the week.

3. The Sitter: Jonah Hill plays a slacker/stoner who reluctantly agrees to babysit three kids for an evening: a shrill little girl who wants to be a celebutante, a recently adopted kid with a taste for destruction, and a world-weary boy who's questioning his sexuality. If a comedy doesn't make me laugh once within the first 15 minutes? Off.

4. Apollo 18: Done in the found footage style that The Blair Witch Project pioneered, this is about monsters on the moon or someshit. I dunno, I got bored before anything of interest happened.

5. Straw Dogs: Not the original Dustin Hoffman movie, but the remake. James Marsden and his wife move to the rural Mississippi town where she grew up. But her old boyfriend's still there, and he wants her matter what it takes. I fast forwarded huge chunks of this, but watched the first half-hour and the last 20 minutes or so. When it was over, something pinged in my brain and I went to YouTube and watched the trailer again. It's basically the entire fucking movie in 3 minutes, minus the rape scene and a lot of the gore. So watch that instead and save yourself 107 minutes.

6. A Good Old-Fashioned Orgy: How do you make a comedy about an orgy boring? I dunno, ask the screenwriter of this cringeworthy flop.

7. The Skin I Live In: In this Pedro Almodovar movie, Antonio Banderas plays a plastic surgeon who is keeping a beautiful young woman prisoner. He's perfecting a type of artificial skin that cannot be burned or cut, using her as a guinea pig. I got pretty far into this one and then it just started to ook me out too much to continue. I was curious enough about the story to look up spoilers on Wikipedia, and if you know you're not going to see this movie (and I mean know with 100% certainty), you might want to take a gander too. If they'd showed a little more restraint, it could have been a really compelling movie; as it was, however, it ranks up there with Audition and Requiem for a Dream as far as movies that made me want to take a Silkwood shower.

8. Snow White: A Deadly Summer: I thought this modern retelling of Snow White, in which Snow's stepmother sends her off to a disciplinary camp, might be cheesy in the good kind of way. God in heaven, NO. It's just plain bad. Eric Roberts, come on, you're so much better than this.

9. Carnage: You certainly couldn't beat the casting for this one: Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly, Kate Winslet, AND Christophe Waltz? They share 4 Oscars among them and god knows how many nominations! But this was based on a play, and man does it show. That may not bother you as much as it bothered me, but I couldn't deal with it.

10. I Don't Know How She Does It: Sarah Jessica Parker plays a NYC mom trying to juggle her work life and her married life and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. I read the book several years back and really enjoyed it, but on screen it was just excruciating. The only real bright spot was my girlcrush Christina Hendricks. I identify as straight, but given a chance I would sidle up to her, give her the ol' elevator eyes, and say "sexy CAN I?"

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

memo to self: take job, shove it

Ever since I started working for the Cube Farm, Administrative Assistants Day has been an occasion not for joy, but for irritation.

Oh, the first few years weren't so bad. There'd be a maudlin speech by our supervisors and a lame breakfast from the same shitty bakery that caters all of our events (unless it's a meeting for the bigwigs, in which case an excellent BBQ place brings in lunch and then the bigwigs' assistants deign to put their leftovers in the break room, where people swarm upon them like locusts even though all that's left by the time those corporate fatcats are done are a few corn muffins, a spoonful or two of baked beans, and three spareribs deemed too grisly for their expensively capped teeth), and then they'd hand out coupons for one free hour off work.

Okay, not exactly the greatest treat, but something at least.

Then AdAss Day got progressively worse. Here's a sampling for your schadenfreudian pleasure:

  • They took away those coupons. God forbid we not get one fucking hour off work!
  • One year, we got a bookmark that said "If you pray for rain, be prepared for mud!" WHAT THE FUCK DOES THAT EVEN MEAN? Oh, and a pad of paper and a pen. Come on, we work in an office! We have a fully stocked supply room for all of our pen and paper needs!
  • Once we all got a lapel pin shaped like a puzzle piece and a craptacular poem about how we are all beautiful unique puzzle pieces that, when put together, make a gorgeous picture. Each pin was exactly the same. Discuss.
  • One year, the management team cooked and brought in breakfast and then sat there and WATCHED US EAT. You know how at Versailles peasants were allowed to watch the queen give birth? It was like that, but in reverse. Oh, and with eating instead of spawning.
  • And last year, a supervisor who has since gotten a promotion and moved out of state (thank Christ) brought in her children to serve us breakfast. The daughter knocked a pitcher of orange juice over, narrowly missing my lap (others weren't so lucky), and then she screamed inconsolably while a flock of middle aged women cooed over her.

So yeah, AdAss Day has always been underwhelming at best and actively insulting at worst. Today's offerings?

A catered breakfast by, you guessed it, that same shitty bakery. And this year, we didn't get to go to the breakroom and get one measly hour away from the phones. No, they put it on a folding table over by the managers' desks, and we had to grab it ourselves.

Oh, except I come in at 9:30, and you know what was left? A plate of rapidly browning fruit and one lousy goddamn ONION BAGEL, which I would eat if I was literally starving to death or offered a princely sum of cash but not under any other circumstances.

"I'm so sorry," my work wife J said, upon seeing me return to my cube with an empty plate and a scowl on my face. "They put the food out at 8 and everybody just went for it, including the fucking claim reps. I was so mad! I would have saved you something but I didn't know what you'd want."

"That's okay," I said, shoving the empty plate in my desk for another day. I booted up my computer (which, by the way, they recently upgraded, completely fucking up all of my settings in the process, necessitating a whole lot of hair pulling and a visit from an IT person who smelled like Chipotle and poor dental hygiene) and saw a new e-mail from my supervisor with the subject line "Happy Administrative Assistants Day!" I opened it, clicked on the attached Word document, and watched as my computer completely froze up.

"Oh, by the way, don't open that e-mail from [supervisor]," J said from behind me. "Something's wrong with the clip art she used and it crashed everybody's computers."

"Yeah," I said through gritted teeth. "I just discovered that."

So next time Bosses' Day rolls around and my kiss-ass coworker T comes around asking for donations so she can buy our supervisors a huge giftcard and a bottle of wine, I'm going to hold up my hand and say, "Oh yeah, let me give you five!"

And then I'll slowly fold down every finger but the middle and say, "Oooh, guess I only have one."

Friday, April 20, 2012

rood awakening

DISCLAIMER: This entry is not meant to belittle religious people of any persuasion.

When I was but a wee lass living in Indiana, my family went to church on a regular basis. During Sunday school, I'd stare at the picture of hippie Jesus on the wall and fantasize about marrying him. I wasn't old enough to really understand what marriage meant, and why I had no chance whatsoever with him; I just thought he was handsome, and I liked the fact that the picture showed him chillaxin' with a bunch of kids and what I assumed to be his pet lamb.

I was 8 when we moved to California, and we stopped going to church. Of course, my religious grandmother was convinced that the two were related, but according to my dad, that wasn't the case. Many years later, he told me, "I just got tired of the hypocrisy. I'd see guys in church on Sunday acting all pious, and I knew they were fucking around on their wives the rest of the week. It made me sick. I don't think you need to go to church to be a good Christian."

Over the years, I started to become less and less religious, but then in high school, I fell hard and fast for a classmate I'll call Brett, since that was his name. I knew he led Bible study every Tuesday during lunch, and I started going so I could moon over him. Eventually, I started attending his church, and I became a born-again Christian. Then I asked Brett to the Sadie Hawkins dance, he said no, and I was like "well fuck you then, I'm too fine for your ass anyway."

...okay, no, I actually cried in the bathroom.

Anyway, I stopped going to church and Bible study, but I still believed in God. Then, once I went away to college, I settled into agnosticism. But when my mom got sick, I began to pray to God again because if there's anything in the world that will make you want to believe in God and Heaven more than watching a loved one suffer, hoping that there's some all-powerful being who can cure them simply by waving a hand, well, I don't know what it is.

Then she died, and I gave up on religion entirely. I still wasn't willing to stop straddling the fence and leap into full-fledged atheism, but if you were to put a gun to my head then or now (and, um, please don't) and make me choose a side, I would choose atheism without a second's hesitation.

Obviously, my friends and family know that I'm an agnostic, but aside from my work wife J, people at work don't know. I'm not ashamed of being an agnostic, but I work for a pretty conservative company and there is a bit of a stigma about being an atheist/agnostic. Hopefully that will lessen as more people come out of the closet, so to speak, but for now it's on a strictly need to know basis.

Well, today I noticed a flyer in the break room talking about a Bible study group that's starting up here at work. My coworker A is leading the first session, and she's pretty excited about it. We were standing at the printers waiting for our respective interminable print jobs to finish, and she asked me if I'd be interested in attending.

"Oh, no, I don't think so, but thank you."

But still A pressed on, and finally I said, "I appreciate the offer, A, but I'm an agnostic."

A sucked her breath between her teeth and said, "Oh, [sairentohiru], you're way too smart to be an agnostic!"

I seriously have no words.

No, wait, I do have three:




Monday, April 09, 2012

(EDIT) 20mg of Xanax, STAT

When I woke up this morning, I had a voicemail from Daddy-O waiting for me, and...

...ready for this?

You know the quaint little B&B where he and A are getting married in less than a month?


Fortunately nobody was hurt, but needless to say, he and A are absolutely wigging out.

Anybody in New Jersey want to rent out their backyard next month? Bruce Springsteen, are you reading this? Snooki?


Crisis averted! Daddy-O and A found a lovely new venue for their wedding. Fortuitously, they happened to be in New Jersey at the time of the fire, so they were able to track down a new place personally. It's only six blocks from the original location, which is convenient.

In other news, G is back from his Passover trip to New Mexico, and last night I got to see him for the first time in almost two weeks. Need I even mention that I wigged the fuck out upon seeing him again? I needn't. Don't get me wrong, I had a good and intensely decadent weekend by myself. I read a huge stack of magazines and 2 books, ate the fuck out of my feelings (chicken picatta + spaghettini in lemon butter sauce + a glass of wine = sheer happiness), slept more than is reasonably necessary, and watched season 1 of The Killing, which was so. Fucking. Good. I absolutely loved the shit out of it. And I don't know why people were bitching so hard about the ending of the first season. Come on, why wouldn't it end with a cliffhanger? You want people to come back for the second season too!

...where was I? Oh yeah. Anyway, although I had a good weekend, I missed the hell out of G, so I'm very happy he's back. We've got a ton of shows to clear off his DVR and 4 movies to keep us busy. Plus the weather is intense right now: heavy rain, thunder, and lightning. Aside from food runs, I doubt we'll leave the house at all.

Oh, and I almost forgot except not really because I was saving it for last, this came from Amazon yesterday:

Not only is it extremely appropriate considering the weather---the enemies are more numerous and more difficult when it rains in the game, which ought to add an extra layer of scary when I'm playing it tonight---but it's the first new Silent Hill game in three years.

My body is ready!

Monday, April 02, 2012

media update: March

NOTE TO G: Please skip the first fiction review, because I'll probably have you read it at some point.

March was a pretty busy month for me, and mostly in a good way. (The unpleasantries were all work related and/or boring so I'll spare you the details.) In chronological order:

  • Our friend Root visited from DC, and if a delicious BBQ dinner with lots of hysterically funny conversation wasn't enough, she also brought me a HUGE bag of perfume vials, including several limited editions I'd wanted to try for years. As I sat momentarily stunned by my bounty, she mistook my silence for displeasure and said, "But if you don't want them..." and I hugged the bag protectively to my chest and said "I WANT THEM."

  • I finally met Kelly Not My Roommate after years of fangirling from afar. She's about 10 feet tall, absolutely stunning, and exactly how she seems in her diary, i.e. funny as hell and sharp as the proverbial tack. Our time together was brief, and I wasn't on top of my game due to wicked allergies that I tried to tamp down with brain befuzzing medicine, but hopefully we can meet again someday.

    Oh, and if you ever want to see heads swivel 360 like whoa, go to Little Tokyo with a gorgeous young woman in a sundress and boots who's talking about video games and D. Gray-man. A hundred hearts were stolen, and one of them was mine.

  • G, C, and I went to a charity screening of The Iron Giant in Los Angeles. I saw that movie back when it was first released on video (yes, video, I'm old), but I'd forgotten just about everything, so it was like seeing it for the first time! They had a Q&A session with several members of the cast and crew afterwards, including Brad Bird. He also directed The Incredibles, which is not just my favorite Pixar film but probably in my top 10 of all time, so I was just sitting there staring at him with big anime sparkly eyes going "hurrr durrrr you are talented and I like you".

  • G, M, and I went to LACMA for an exhibit of female surrealist painters. There were some absolutely gorgeous works there by (among others) Frida Kahlo and Remedios Varo. It was raining like a motherfucker (whatever that means) and somebody stole M's umbrella in the bathroom, but other than that, it was a fun afternoon.

Asterisks denote something I particularly enjoyed or found especially worthy of my time; your mileage may vary. This month's unofficial themes: YA dystopian trilogies, illness and injury memoirs, and Daniel Craig, who was in three of the movies I watched.


1. Pure* by Julianna Baggott: After surviving a nuclear holocaust known as the Detonations, Pressia ekes out a meager existence with her grandfather, foraging for food where she can and trying to avoid the soldiers who either want to recruit her or use her as live target practice. Partridge is a "Pure", one of the lucky citizens who managed to escape the blasts inside a shelter known as the Dome. But their worlds collide when Partridge escapes the Dome, looking for the mother he thinks may still be alive.

As soon as I saw the blurb on the back that described Pressia as "part manga heroine, part post-apocalyptic Alice", I knew I had to pick it up. It turned out to be a great choice, because this is the best dystopian novel I've read since The Hunger Games. It's utterly riveting, with some indelible characters and truly creepy scenes. The next installment will be an instant purchase for me.

2. Victims by Jonathan Kellerman: When a woman's mutilated body is found in her apartment, psychologist Alex Delaware and LAPD detective Milo Sturgis initially assume it was an isolated incident. Then more bodies start popping up, and it looks like a truly fiendish serial killer is on the loose. I've always liked Kellerman's books, and unlike many of his colleagues who started around the same time (*coughkoontzandpattersoncough*), he seems far less prone to suckage as time goes on. This wasn't starworthy, but I still liked it enough to finish it in two days.

3. Fever* by Lauren DeStefano: Unfortunately, since this sequel picks up immediately where Wither left off, I can't give a proper review for fear of spoiling its predecessor. I'll just say that I really enjoyed it and leave it at that.

4. Forgotten Country by Catherine Chung: When Janie's sister Hannah abruptly pulls up stakes and disappears from her family's life, their parents beg Janie to track Hannah down...a task given extra urgency by the fact that their father has just been diagnosed with advanced stomach cancer. A good debut that could have been excellent if a few important story elements hadn't been glossed over.

5. Pandemonium* by Lauren Oliver: Unfortunately, since this sequel picks up immediately where Delirium left off, I can't give a proper review for fear of spoiling its predecessor. I'll just say that I really enjoyed it and leave it at that.

6. All the Flowers in Shanghai by Duncan Jepson: Feng is a young woman living in Shanghai in the 1930's. When she is forced to marry her dead sister's fiance, her quest for revenge comes at a terrible price. Beautifully written, but it ends rather abruptly.


1. Hot Cripple* by Hogan Gorman: The author, an ex-model and aspiring actress, was hit by a car going 40 miles per hour. She suffered severe injuries, but because she didn't have health insurance, she went into debt and wound up on welfare and food stamps. To add insult to (major) injury, she had to deal with government workers who just didn't give a shit, a drunken judge, and "friends" who couldn't handle her situation. Occasionally grating, but it has some darkly funny moments and it's a sobering look at our fucked up health care system.

2. Are You My Guru?* by Wendy Shanker: At the age of 33, the author was enjoying her dream job and her life in Manhattan as a single woman. Then she was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disorder called Wegener's granulomatosis, and she decided to try alternative medicine in addition to the more traditional kind. Shanker doesn't hold back any details---the scene where she gives herself an enema of hot oil and herbs made me both laugh and cringe---and it's filled with both black humor and pathos.

3. Tough Sh*t* by Kevin Smith: An enjoyable collection of anecdotes ranging from the infamous Southwest "too fat to fly" incident to working with Bruce Willis, who he calls "the unhappiest, most bitter, and meanest emo-bitch I've ever met at any job I've held down. And mind you, I've worked at Domino's Pizza."

Side note: No, I didn't bowdlerize the title---as fucking if! That's how it's written on both the cover and the spine, so I left it as is.


1. Sakura Hime vol. 6 by Arina Tanemura

2. iZombie vol. 3 by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred

3. My Friend Dahmer* by Derf Backderf

4. Black Bird vol. 13 by Kanako Sakurakoji

5. Rin-Ne vol. 8 by Rumiko Takahashi

6. About Love* by Narise Konohara and Tomo Ootake

7. Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks

8. Stepping on Roses vol. 7 by Rinko Ueda


1. The Thing: In this prequel to the 1982 horror movie of the same name (don't ask me why they didn't call it The Thing: Origins or someshit), a team of Antarctic scientists finds a strange alien ship and a creature trapped in the ice. When the creature awakens, it promptly starts taking people down. Some really disgusting special effects, which of course I mean as high praise for a movie of this type.

2. In Time: In the future, people are genetically engineered to stop aging at 25 and then live one more year. The time they have left is stamped on their arms in glowing green numbers, always ticking down, and they can earn more time through work, donations, or stealing it from someone else. Time is used as currency (i.e. a cup of coffee costs 5 minutes), and if you're rich enough, you can basically live forever. After the death of his mother, Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) decides to take down the system by becoming a Robin Hood of sorts who steals time from the rich and gives it to the poor. A really cool premise, but the execution was unfortunately a bit lacking.

3. Puss in Boots*: In this Shrek spinoff, the titular feline teams up with his old friend Humpty Dumpty to steal magic beans from the nefarious team of Jack and Jill. If you're surprised to see a star next to the title, imagine how I felt! But the animation was beautiful and there were some really funny lines, like when Puss gets caught with a tin of catnip and claims it's for his glaucoma.

4. Dream House: After moving into their new home, a family discovers that its previous occupants had been brutally murdered, and the past is coming back to haunt them. The trailer not only spoiled a rather large plot point, but made it look like the supernatural is much more involved than it really is. Still, it had a few good moments, including some visuals straight out of Silent Hill, and of course I always like looking at the eminently UNF-able Daniel Craig.

5. Hugo: After his father dies, Hugo starts living in a Parisian train station. By day, he steals food and tries to avoid the stationmaster; by night, he tries to fix the automaton that his father left behind. Then he meets a young girl who literally holds the key to the mysterious machine. It's a beautiful movie, but I didn't get emotionally involved until the last third.

Side note: how in the name of all that is good and holy did this win the Oscar for visual effects over Rise of the Planet of the Apes? Like I said, it's beautiful, but there was certainly nothing in it that wowed me visually as much as Caesar did.

6. The Elephant in the Living Room: A fascinating documentary about people who keep exotic animals as pets, and how their misguided love often turns to tragedy. Warning: there is an extremely upsetting scene of a lion's accidental death by electrocution.

7. Young Adult*: Mavis used to be the hottest girl in high school, but as an adult, she's kind of a wreck. She ghostwrites for a once-popular teen book series, but she keeps getting distracted by reality TV, alcohol, and online shopping. Then she receives an email birth announcement from her old boyfriend and heads to the small Minnesota town where he lives, determined to win him back despite the fact that he's a happily married new dad. A dark comedy with plenty of cringeworthy moments and terrific performances, especially by Patton Oswalt (as a geek who tries to be the voice of reason) and Charlize Theron. I already knew Theron could act---her Oscar-winning performance as Aileen Wournos in Monster was probably the best I've ever seen---and she nails it as a completely different kind of monster here. Watch her reaction when someone tells her she sounds like one of her "crazy characters"; it's subtle but absolutely brilliant.

8. Take Shelter*: When a man begins having visions of a terrible storm, he starts working on a shelter in his backyard. But is he a prophet, or losing his mind? A very good character study that I gave a star primarily because of Michael Shannon's powerful performance.

9. The Adventures of Tintin: Based on the popular comic strip, this computer animated film follows intrepid young reporter Tintin and his dog Snowy as they search for lost treasure. The plot is a bit lacking, but the animation is absolutely gorgeous and a couple of the action sequences are excellent.

10. Martha Marcy May Marlene: When Martha (Elizabeth Olsen in a superb performance) escapes a cult, she moves in with her sister and her sister's husband. But the trauma of her time spent with the cult and the abuse she suffered at its charismatic leader's hands have taken a toll, and Martha may never be the same again. I would have given this a star except that it's unrelentingly depressing and the ending SUCKED. Seriously, it just may be the worst ending to an otherwise good movie that I've ever seen.

Side note in case you're wondering about the title: The cult leader renames all of its members as a form of brainwashing, and he gives Martha the name Marcy May. When women answer the phone at the farm where the members live, they answer as Marlene. It's an unwieldy title, but it works because it shows how fragmented Martha's sense of identity has become.

11. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo*: After losing a libel lawsuit, a journalist named Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) takes on an elderly man's request to find out what happened to his niece, who disappeared 40 years ago. Mikael soon acquires an assistant named Lisbeth Salander, an antisocial hacker, and the deeper they dig, the uglier things get. Almost painfully intense at times, but excellent performances and deliciously moody direction by David Fincher make it worth a watch if you can handle some of the nastier scenes.

12. The Muppets: When they hear about a greedy oil tycoon plotting to tear down their old theater, the Muppets reunite to save it. How? By putting on a show, of course! It's sweet, and "Rainbow Connection" always makes me cry (shut up), but it dragged a little bit.

13. Melancholia: Justine (Kirsten Dunst) is a young woman who's finding it hard to be happy even on her wedding day. Things aren't improved any by the news that a planet called Melancholia (metaphor alert!) is on a collision course with Earth. Thanks to assorted glowing reviews, my expectations were way too high, but I still liked it. Bonus points for being the only non-misogynistic Lars von Trier movie I've ever seen.


All of the following are by Blondie.

1. "Dreaming"

2. "Call Me"

3. "One Way Or Another"

4. "The Tide Is High"

5. "Hanging on the Telephone"

6. "Rapture"

7. "(I'm Always Touched By Your) Presence, Dear"


G and I were watching South Park when they showed this clip, and we laughed ourselves sick. Don't ask me how I missed out on a cat meme, but apparently this one's been kicking around the internet for a while. Sound is absolutely required, but it's safe for work.