Friday, November 30, 2012

media update: November + medical fuckery

And how was your November?  With one massive exception, mine was quite nice, thank you.  G, C, and I went to see The Book of Mormon, the Tony award-winning musical by the dudes behind South Park, at the Pantages Theater.  Our expectations were mayhaps a bit high, but we still enjoyed it, especially "Hasa Diga Eebowai", which I'm still singing in the shower weeks later.  (And I'm still fantasizing about the mac and cheeseburger I had for dinner right before the show.  Kobe beef patty smothered in macaroni and cheese?  Cue Homeresque gurgling and drooling.  Messy as all hell, but beyond worth it.)

And Madre and Padre came to California for Thanksgiving, so we spent the long weekend in San Diego.  We went to Balboa Park, Old Town, and the zoo, where we watched as a young gorilla tossed a handful of dirt on the silverback's head and then ran away.  The silverback reached up and brushed the dirt off, and minutes later, he snuck up on the young gorilla and shoved a finger in his ass!  Then the silverback leaned back against the glass and he looked for all the world like he was laughing.  We were all hysterical. I already loved gorillas, but now?  I fuckin' LOOOOOVE gorillas. 

Oh, and my stepsister (it still feels really weird saying that) had a baby boy, so I guess that makes me an honorary aunt.  I'm not much of a baby/child person, as you well know, but I gotta admit he's damn cute.  And that kid's got some mad locks!  He makes Harry Styles look like Mr. Clean.

The part that wasn't so nice:  I had back pain that kept getting gradually worse over the course of a week, and then bouts of nausea decided to join the pain party, and on Tuesday it all culminated in me leaving work in agony, going home, puking in my kitchen sink because I couldn't get to the bathroom in time, and calling G in a flood of tears.  He was at my place in less than 20 minutes and took me to the doctor, who ruled out a kidney stone (he thinks the nausea was related to the fact that I was taking so much Aleve for the pain, which probably upset my stomach) but couldn't rule out much else because back pain is one of those things that can be a symptom of pretty much everything in the world.  So he did some bloodwork and then sent me to get some x-rays. 

When Dr. D called with the results on Wednesday, he said the x-rays looked fine but my bloodwork showed signs of "liver disturbance", so I have to get a CAT scan on Monday.  I picked up my contrast material this morning.  It came in two huge plastic cups like you'd get with a supersized fast food meal, and the cups have suns wearing sunglasses (um, what?) on them.  As soon as I saw the size of the cups, I was like "oh, fuck this shit so hard" but it turns out that the contrast material takes up maybe a fifth of the cup and the rest is supposed to be filled with water. 

Oh, and the cups came with lollipops taped to the side because the contrast material tastes like a hobo's taint.  So that's going to be awesome, but I'm just glad I don't have to have the IV contrast.  Not a big fan of needles. 

To be honest, I'm kind of freaking out a little here, so keep a good thought for me if you would.

On the plus side, I'm feeling much better aside from a bit of residual stiffness and, of course, freaking out about my impending test/the results.  And Jesus H. Christ, not like I doubted it, but this just proves anew I have the best boyfriend in the world.  Even though he's busier than a Fleet Week hooker, he came as soon as I called on Tuesday, held me as I cried and got snot all over the shoulder of his nice work shirt, took me to the doctor/radiology clinic/pharmacy/dinner, and stayed with me until I assured him that I'd be okay and would call if anything changed for the worse.  I would punch a J'Avo in the balls for him.


/nerdy RE6 references (well, for now; an RE6 review is at the end of this entry so I'm sure there will be more)

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


1. Cold Light by Jenn Ashworth:  Laura is a 24-year-old British woman living a dull life.  Ten years ago, her best friend Chloe and Chloe's much older boyfriend died in an apparent suicide pact, and the TV is filled with sentimental news stories about the anniversary of the tragedy.  But Laura knows there's much more to the story than meets the eye.  It doesn't live up to the promise of its first half, but it's decent.

2. The Walking Dead: The Road to Woodbury by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga:  Since a key figure in this novel has only recently been introduced in the TV series, I'm not going to review it so as to avoid potential spoilers.  I'll just say it's nowhere near as good as the first Walking Dead novel, and I was also annoyed by several typos ("bares the scars" is used twice in four pages). 

3. Best Kept Secret by Amy Hatvany:  After her marriage falls apart, Cadence takes comfort in her nightly glass or two of wine.  But when those glasses turn into bottles, she finds herself in a truly desperate situation.  As I was reading, I kept thinking "Man, this is way too Lifetime movie of the week", and then I had to laugh when Cadence compared her situation to a Lifetime movie of the week.  Too melodramatic for my tastes.


1. Every Day Is an Atheist Holiday* by Penn Jillette:  More amusing and thought provoking rants and raves from the famous magician, covering everything from his stints on Dancing with the Stars and The Celebrity Apprentice (and boy, does he have some harsh words for Clay Aiken) to his atheism.

2. Brain on Fire* by Susannah Cahalan:  One night, the author was watching TV with her boyfriend when she had a seizure.  Things rapidly deteriorated over the next several weeks as she became paranoid and had hallucinations.  Her doctors were baffled until one neurologist figured out that she had an extremely rare autoimmune disorder that causes the body to attack the brain.  Absolutely fascinating, especially if you're a big fan of memoirs and/or true medical mysteries.


1. The Last Zombie by Brian Keene and Joseph Wight

2. Arisa vol. 9 by Natsumi Ando

3. We Were There vol. 15 by Yuki Obata

4. Rin-Ne vol. 10 by Rumiko Takahashi

5. Kamisama Kiss vol. 11 by Julietta Suzuki

6. The Hive by Charles Burns

7. Marbles* by Ellen Forney


1. Thirst:  In this Korean horror flick, a priest volunteers for a vaccine experiment.  Unlike his fellow volunteers, he survives, but he suffers an unusual side effect:  vampirism.  Not bad, but nowhere near as good as the other Chan-wook Park movies I've seen (Oldboy, Lady Vengeance, and Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance).

2. The Sound of My Voice:  Peter and Lorna infiltrate a cult in hopes of scoring an investigative journalism scoop.  But while Lorna is immediately leery of Maggie, the cult leader who claims to be from the future, Peter finds himself being drawn further in.  The frustrating ending managed to completely eradicate any positive feelings I had for it up until that point.

3. Your Sister's Sister:  Jack's best friend Iris used to date his late brother.  When Jack needs a break, Iris suggests that he spend some time at her family's cabin.  But unbeknownst to either one of them, Iris' sister is there, and complications ensue.

I was really enjoying this movie up until a certain plot point halfway through the movie, and then the ending made me want to punch a wall.  What lazy fucking filmmaking.  I almost saved this movie to watch with G, but I'm glad I didn't because he totally would have held it against me.  (The goodwill I earned from Hedwig and the Angry Inch and The Fall can only last so long, and I think Greenberg killed most of it already.)

4. Safety Not Guaranteed*:  Three magazine employees, including sullen intern Darius (Aubrey Plaza, who's excellent), get an idea for a story when they spot an unusual classified ad:  someone looking for a partner to accompany him on a time travel mission.  When they track him down, Darius is chosen to befriend him, and she finds herself drawn into his orbit.  An overlooked gem that's very funny and surprisingly moving.  (And after movies #2 and #3 above, #3 of which also starred Mark Duplass when I don't think I'd ever seen him in anything before, which was kind of weird, what a joy to see a movie with a great ending.)

5. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World*:  An enormous asteroid is hurtling towards Earth, spelling certain doom for everyone on the planet.  His wife has just left him in a panic, so Dodge (Steve Carell, in the type of sad sack role he does so well) decides to track down his high school sweetheart, and his neighbor Penny (Keira Knightley) comes along for the ride.  It's got a lot of really funny moments, but if you don't make the mistake of thinking it's a straight up comedy, you'll probably enjoy it much more.

6. Dark Horse:  Abe is a man in his mid-30's who impulsively asks Miranda (Selma Blair), who he's only known for a few weeks, to marry him.  Much to his surprise, she says yes.  But life hasn't been easy for either of them up to this point, and things aren't about to change that quickly. 

If I hadn't already known this was a Todd Solondz movie, I never would have guessed.  Unfortunately, I don't mean that as a compliment.  Although it's one of his, for lack of a better word, kinder movies, I still didn't care about a single person in it, and that always makes it hard for me to thoroughly enjoy a movie.

7. The Queen of Versailles*:  The original focus of this documentary was supposed to be the 90,000 square foot Florida home that timeshare billionaire David Siegel and his wife Jackie were in the process of building.  But when the financial crisis hit in 2008, the documentary switched its focus to how the Siegels coped with their sudden change of fortune.  It's alternately funny (Jackie rents a car and asks who her driver will be) and infuriating (Jackie cheerfully says that she never wanted kids until she found out she could have nannies, one of whom hasn't seen her own son in years; two of the family pets die from neglect) and fascinating throughout. 

8. Brave*:  Merida is a Scottish princess chafing against her mother's rules.  But when Merida makes a wish that goes awry, she has to set things right.  As you'd expect from a Pixar movie, it's gorgeous, and although it doesn't hold a candle to classics like Toy Story and The Incredibles, it's still got a lot of heart and charm.

9. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 1*:  Bruce Wayne is forced out of retirement when a gang called the Mutants begins fucking up Gotham City.  Aside from some fluid fight choreography, the animation isn't great, and the voice acting is surprisingly lackluster, but the writing is awesome, which was to be expected considering the source material.  (For you non-nerds:  the iconic Frank Miller graphic novel of the same name.)


1. "Thrift Shop" by Macklemore

2. "Video Killed the Radio Star" by The Buggles

3. "Straight Outta Compton" by N.W.A.

4. "Situation" by Yaz

5. "Bette Davis Eyes" by Kim Carnes

6. "Safety Dance" by Men Without Hats

7. "Don't You Want Me" by Atomic Tom

8. "Uprising" by Muse: God, this song makes me want to fight a dystopian government!

9. "Resistance" by Muse


(Yes, that's the most appallingly ugly logo ever.  It looks like a giraffe getting a hummer from a Silent Hill straitjacket monster.)

As you're all well aware, I've been a huge Resident Evil fan ever since the first game ate my soul back in 1996.  RE: Code Veronica and RE4 are in my top ten games of all time, and I've enjoyed just about every game in the series.  (The less said about Outbreak and Dead Aim, the better.)  G is also a major fanboy, so our expectations were pretty high for this game.

I won't bother going into a detailed description of the plot, since it basically boils down to the same thing as all of the other games (evil corporation releases horrifying virus into the world, creating zombies and other mutations; a group of brave men and women is determined to stop them).

Excluding the unlockable character, who works alone, you get a partner.  Mysterious mercenary Jake Mueller is paired up with Sherry Birkin, the little girl from RE2, who's all grown up and working as an agent.  Perennial fan favorite Leon Kennedy works with US government agent Helena Harper.  And Chris Redfield, looking slightly less 'roided up since RE5, has expert sniper Piers Nivans backing his play.


  • Tons of replay value, thanks to four missions.

  • Some really creepy monsters, including one that looks like a giant walking lotus boob.  (If you're not already familiar with that infamous internet sensation, do NOT google it.  Just because it's a fake picture doesn't mean it's not fucking gross.)

  • This isn't something that can be said about most RE games, but the voice acting is pretty good.  One of my favorite voice actors, Troy Baker (Kanji in Persona 4), voices Jake, and he's perfect.  And the graphics are stunning.

  • The ending to one of the campaigns is fantastic, and provides a much needed emotional core to the story.  I was all like:

    • There are hidden blue medallions you can shoot to unlock files and secret figurines, and the interface for viewing them is really neat.  When I win the lottery, I'm going to have those dioramas recreated in my game room.

    • Chris and Piers = my OTP.  There is no WAY Capcom wasn't pandering to the slashers and the gaymers when they paired those two up.  I mean, come on, weary older veteran and idealistic young soldier who makes him care again? And when Piers [spoiler] and Chris says [spoiler] and then [spoiler]?  True love!  Nivanfield 4eva!

    • Leon S. Kennedy.  'Nuff said.

    • LOATHED:

    • By far the most difficult of the RE games.  Granted, you can play on the amateur setting if you want, but we chose normal and there were times I wondered if we'd accidentally selected hard instead.  One section was so tough I practically burst a blood vessel in my throat screaming at the TV.

    • The new system for mixing herbs is really stupid.  Instead of just combining a red herb and a green herb in classic fashion, you have to mix them and THEN put them in a tablet.  (Because of the way it looks when you take one, G and I started referring to them as our magic Tic-Tacs.)  On the plus side, once you do this, you can press the right trigger at any time for a quick heal; on the negative side, the game doesn't pause while you play pharmacist, so you better take advantage of the very few "safe" areas to mix your shit.  (And if you have to mix herbs to free up an inventory space in an area crowded with enemies, well...good freakin' luck with that.)

    • Speaking of the right trigger:  why the hell don't you use it to shoot?  It's counter intuitive, and more than once I forgot and accidentally healed instead of shooting.  Which usually wasn't a problem, because I tended to need it anyway (I refer you back to the part about this being the hardest RE game), but it was still annoying.

    • RE seems to be getting further and further away from its survival horror roots.  With the exception of the first half of Leon's campaign and a couple of the secret character's levels, it's nothing like the RE games of yore.  (Though, to be fair, this could also be said of RE4 and 5.)  It's more like Gears of War, but without the excellent cover system.  (Did I mention that RE6's cover system absolutely fucking blows?  Because holy crap does it ever.)

    • If you plan on playing offline co-op, I sure hope you have a big screen and good eyes, because it's difficult to see what the hell is going on.

    • The game autosaves, but not nearly as often as you might like.  (Pro tip:  there are plenty of checkpoints, but do NOT confuse them with saves!  You'll know the game is actually saving when you see the little typewriter icon in the top left of the screen.  If you quit after a checkpoint, you'll lose all the progress you've made since the last save.)

    • My advice?  If you've never played a Resident Evil game before, don't start with this one.  But if you're already a fan of the series and are willing to tolerate some hair pullingly hard sections, there's much to enjoy here.  Just don't expect anything like the majesty of RE4 and you'll be fine.