Wednesday, December 26, 2012

best of 2012: miscellaneous edition, pt. 3

And here we have the final installment!  Just a few notes before I begin:

  • Not all of these things first made their debut in 2012, but that's when I first played/tasted/watched them.
  • These are in random order.
  • Most of the video games mentioned were fully reviewed in my media updates, so I don't go into great detail this time around.  The month in parentheses is the month when I reviewed it in my media update if you want more information. 
  • And, as always, your mileage may vary.

After his wife and baby daughter were murdered by addicts, former NYC cop Max Payne turned to alcohol and drugs to numb his pain.  All he really wants to do is drink himself to death, but he decides to take a job in Brazil, working as a bodyguard for a rich family.  When things go horribly wrong, he's determined to set things right even if it kills him...which it just might.  Shooters aren't usually my genre of choice, but gorgeous graphics, excellent voice acting, a sharp script, and action sequences that sent my adrenaline through the roof made this a treat.  (September)

Juliet Starling's 18th birthday isn't going quite as planned:  a zombie outbreak takes over her high school, and her boyfriend Nick falls prey to the horde.  But Juliet comes from a family of skilled zombie hunters, and she revives Nick's head with a magic spell, hooks him to her belt, and sets out to save the day.  Outrageously funny, gloriously nasty, and shamefully fun.  (A full review will be posted in the December media update.)  

I've been a rabid Resident Evil fangirl for 15 years, so a new game in the series is always cause for celebration.  RE6 is a particularly meaty installment: four campaigns featuring fan favorites like emo beefcake Chris Redfield and luscious Leon Kennedy, stunning graphics, shockingly good voice acting, and more action than your wrists can handle.  Strap on a carpal tunnel brace and get to work, soldier!  (November)

G is a big NY Giants fan, so when football season rolls around, I have to amuse myself (no comments from the peanut gallery) while he watches the game.  One Sunday afternoon, I had exhausted my supply of reading material, so I decided to see what kind of recommendations Netflix Instant had for me.  One of them was Louie, and I remembered my friend G2 raving about it, so I gave it a try.

Good choice.

Louis C.K. plays a fictionalized version of himself:  a sad sack comedian and divorced father of two little girls.  It's often gutbustingly hysterical, but it can also be surprisingly poignant, like the episode where he inadvertently takes a duckling on a USO tour and the season 2 finale.  (The "Wave at me!"/"Wait for you?" exchange actually made me tear up.)  Season 4 won't air until 2014, but I trust Louis C.K. to make it worth the wait.

This is the best damn tea I've ever had.  Its blend of chocolate, cinnamon, cardamom, cayenne, and ginger is warming and comforting and oh so delicious, and the best thing you can drink on a cold night or a rainy day or when you just don't feel very good.  I buy three boxes every time I see it because I'm afraid they'll discontinue it.  (Widely available; I've seen it at Whole Foods, Bristol Farms, and Albertsons, for starters.)

Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) is a CIA officer who gets intel from one of her sources that an American prisoner of war has been "turned".  Shortly thereafter, a Marine named Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis), is rescued and brought back to the US.  Carrie's sure that he's the one her informant was talking about, but the trick will be convincing everybody else.  I'm not usually one for political dramas, but this is a riveting series with tour de force acting, especially by Claire Danes. 

In this game, you play the ghost of Sissel, a man who was murdered but has no idea why.  He has a trick up his spectral sleeve, though:  he can rewind time in brief increments and manipulate objects to learn more about his past or to protect others.  (For example, opening an umbrella to knock a girl's headphones into an aquarium so she'll hear the hitman breaking into her apartment.)  It's a really clever idea and lots of fun. 

When I was a kid, I used to get up early to watch Davey & Goliath.  I wasn't religious, but its Claymation characters and dopey feel good moralism were the TV equivalent of comfort food.

Moral Orel is like Davey & Goliath if D&G had a crisis of faith and forgot to take its antidepressants for a week.

Orel Puppington is a cheerful 12-year-old boy who loves nothing more than Jesus.  Despite the fact that his parents (bisexual alcoholic Clay and aloof clean freak Bloberta) are trapped in a loveless marriage, Orel almost always manages to stay positive.

I'll tell you right off the bat:  this show gets fucking DARK, especially the third season.  If someone had peeked through G's curtains while we were watching it, the expressions on our faces would have made them think we were watching a horror movie!  (The episode titled "Alone" is one of the most unnerving things I've seen in any medium.)  But interspersed with the "oh my god, I can't believe that just happened" moments are some genuinely poignant ones, and it can be bitingly funny.  If this isn't your kind of thing, you'll figure it out pretty quickly; if it IS, you'll eat it up like pudding. 

(Every episode can be watched on Vimeo, but they do need to be watched in order.)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

best of 2012: movies

Now it's time for my favorite movies of 2012!  Just a few notes before I begin:

  • Not all of these were originally released in 2012, but that's when I first saw them. 
  • Aside from the first two movies listed, these aren't necessarily in order of preference.
  • And, as always, your mileage may vary.

In 1920's Los Angeles, a young hospital patient named Alexandria befriends Roy, a stuntman who became paralyzed during a movie shoot.  In order to win Alexandria's trust, Roy begins weaving a fantastical tale of five heroes who are determined to overthrow an evil governor. 

This is one of the most gorgeous movies I've ever seen; it was shot in 18 different countries and has spectacular costumes by designer Eiko Ishioka.  The little girl who plays Alexandria is amazing (though occasionally hard to understand; English is not her first language in either real life or the movie), and as Roy, Lee Pace is excellent as well.  They have incredible chemistry together, and I guarantee they'll break your heart and put it right back together again. 

I knew The Fall would be visually stunning, since Tarsem (The Cell, Immortals, REM's "Losing My Religion" video) directed it; I swear you could take any random shot from one of his movies and hang it on your wall, like the pictures above.  But I really wasn't expecting to be so engrossed and moved by the story.  I get the feeling that people who'd hate it would REALLY hate it, but major thumbs up from me.  It wound up securing a place in my top ten of all time.

Side note:  Less than 24 hours after watching it for the first time, I watched it again with Glenn, who didn't know anything about it other than the title.  About 30 minutes in, he said "Am I going to have to hold this movie against you?"  But he wound up loving it, so if you watch it and are all meh at first, please give it a fair chance and you too might be blown away. 


2. The Avengers:  When Loki sets his sights on Earth, the Avengers must band together to take him down.  Lots of terrific action scenes and a sharp script made this exciting movie an absolute treat to watch.  And oh my god, talk about eye candy! 

3. The Cabin in the Woods:  Five friends go to a cabin in the woods for a getaway, and...yeah, not saying anything else because this is the kind of movie you want to know as little as possible about.  I'll only add that it was written by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard, and it puts the lie to the cliche that there are no new ideas.

4. 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.

5. Skyfall:  When MI6 comes under attack, James Bond has to cope with a missing list of undercover agents, a beautiful seductress, and a flamboyant villain who has a serious beef with M.  Lots of terrific action sequences, a bravura performance by Javier Bardem as the bad guy, and the icily gorgeous Daniel Craig add up to a whole lot of fun. 

6. The Raid: Redemption:  A SWAT team goes after one of Jakarta's most notorious drug lords, who's hiding in an apartment building.  But in order to reach him, they'll have to fight floor after floor of the bad guy's minions.  A brutally violent, incredibly exciting film filled with tons of awesome fight sequences that can only be described as muay thai meets knife fu.

7. God Bless America:  Frank is a lonely man who's tired of the cruelty and stupidity that permeate American culture.  When he's diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, he plans to kill himself, but then he changes his mind and decides to take out assholes instead.  Along the way, he picks up a teenage girl who wholeheartedly approves of his mission, and together they set out to clean up America, one jerk at a time.

If Idiocracy and Natural Born Killers had a child together that was raised by Serial Mom's Beverly Sutphin, it would be God Bless America.  Be warned, it takes dark comedies to a whole new level, but if you've ever suffered through a movie with jabbering dickholes behind you or wanted to rip your hair out over bigots like Fred Phelps, GBA will be a gloriously cathartic tonic for your soul.

8. 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. 

9. ParaNorman: Norman is a young boy who’s bullied because he claims that he can see and communicate with dead people.  But when a witch’s curse revives the dead and threatens his small town, Norman is determined to save the day.

The trailers for this movie were awful, so I wasn’t expecting much, but terrific stop-motion animation and a clever script (including two awesome jokes that I can’t believe they managed to include in a movie made for kids) made this a very happy surprise.  And be sure to check out the extras to see how this movie came to life; the work that went into it is staggering.

10. 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.


MADE ME CRY (OR AT LEAST MIST UP):  Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva, Love Actually, 50/50, Project Nim, The Elephant in the Living Room, The Descendants, War Horse, The Grey, The Secret World of Arrietty, The Last Lions, The Dark Knight Rises, Weekend, The Hunger Games, The Five-Year Engagement, Safety Not Guaranteed, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Brave, ParaNorman, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Beasts of the Southern Wild


BEST OPENING CREDITS:  The Fall, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

SEEN IN THE THEATER:  The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Dark Knight Rises, Killer Joe, a charity screening of The Iron Giant, Skyfall, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

MOST HORRIFYING SCENES:  The fried chicken scene in Killer Joe; the going away party in Entrance; the stampede's aftermath in The Last Lions; Lola injecting bleach into her "boyfriend's" neck in The Loved Ones; the castration scene in V/H/S; Lisbeth's revenge (and the incident that sparked it) in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

BEST STINGER:  The second one in The Avengers

Monday, December 17, 2012

best of 2012: fiction

Here's my list of the ten best novels I read this year.  A few notes before I begin:

  • Not all of these were first published in 2012, but that's when I first read them.
  • G, please skip #1 and #3 because I might make you read them at some point.
  • Strangely enough, every one of these books was written by a woman, which was also the case for my nonfiction list.  I don't think that's ever happened before!  And, of course, it's a coincidence, not me going "Rawr abolish the phallocracy rawr".
  • Your mileage may vary.
  • Aside from the first title listed, these aren't necessarily in order.

1. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn:  On their fifth anniversary, Nick Dunne's wife Amy disappears. 

...and that's all I'm going to tell you, because the less you know about the plot, the better.  Trust me on this.  It's a dizzying, gleefully nasty, blackly funny masterpiece, and easily my favorite novel of 2012.

2. Faithful Place by Tana French:  As a teenager, Frank Mackey made plans with his girlfriend Rosie to run away to England and never look back.  But on the night they're supposed to leave, Frank finds a note implying that Rosie left without him, and he never sees her again.  22 years later, Frank is an undercover cop, and he gets a frantic phone call from his sister telling him that someone found Rosie's suitcase in an abandoned building.  Reluctantly, he returns to his old neighborhood and dysfunctional family to find out the truth behind the disappearance of his first love.  Razor sharp dialogue and an intriguing plot made 400 pages fly by at the speed of light. 

3. 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 (Fuse, coming out in February 2013) will be an instant purchase for me. 

4. Kill You Twice by Chelsea Cain:  Portland detective Archie Sheridan has a complicated relationship with the so-called "Beauty Killer", Gretchen Lowell, the psychopath who tortured him almost to death and then inexplicably let him go.  Now Gretchen is in a psych ward, her legendary beauty marred by the effects of heavy medication.  She claims to know who killed a man who was skinned in a local park, and although Archie knows he shouldn't trust her, he finds himself pulled into her orbit once again.

Cain's last novel, The Night Season, was almost completely devoid of Gretchen, and I think it suffered for it.  But no such worries with this; the woman who would scare Hannibal Lecter is back in fine form.  If you've never read any of Cain's books before, this is NOT the one to start with; it spoils things from previous books and you really need to know the characters.  But if you're familiar with her work, dig in for this gory treat.  (And I do mean GORY; I'm not kidding when I say that I had to stop reading it during my lunch breaks.)

5. Criminal by Karin Slaughter:  GBI agent Will Trent is shocked when his supervisor, Amanda Wagner, forbids him to work on a case involving a missing college student.  But Amanda has her reasons, and in flashbacks, we find out exactly why she doesn't want Will to go digging through the past.  As usual, Slaughter knocks it out of the park with this riveting novel.

6. The Diviners by Libba Bray:  In 1927, after causing a scandal in her Ohio hometown, freewheeling flapper Evie O'Neill is sent to live with her uncle in New York City.  Even though he runs a museum devoted to the occult, Evie is reluctant to tell him that she can learn about a person merely by touching an object of theirs.  But when a serial killer with a decidedly supernatural bent starts terrorizing NYC, Evie is determined to take him down. 

Great literature?  No.  A fun, engrossing read?  As Evie would say, posi-tute-ly!  It's the first in a series, and I can't wait to read the next one.

7. Hanging Hill by Mo Hayder:  When the brutalized body of a popular teenage girl is discovered, police detective Zoe Benedict's investigation leads her to suspect the creepy pornographer who lives on Hanging Hill.  But unknown to her, her estranged sister Sally is working as the man's housekeeper, and their paths collide in shocking ways.  This book is a corker, and the last couple of chapters had me racing slackjawed through the pages going "Oh my god, oh my god".

8. Gone Missing by Linda Castillo:  Police chief Kate Burkholder is stunned when several Amish teenagers go missing.  But did they flee the Amish lifestyle of their own accord, or was foul play involved?

Some of the writing does get repetitive; detective Tomasetti is apparently incapable of saying anything without "growling" it, and she talks about shock being palpable on someone's face twice in the span of four pages.  Still, I'm glad Castillo is back in good form; I didn't care for the last book in this series, but I tore through this one in two days.

9. Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt:  Set in the mid-80's, this novel tells the story of June Elbus, a shy 14-year-old devastated by her beloved uncle's AIDS-related death.  Shortly after Finn's funeral, his lover Toby contacts her, asking for a chance to meet.  Initially she's reluctant, because her mother has convinced her that it's Toby's fault Finn died.  But she finally agrees to see him, and they form a friendship that will change both of their lives forever.  A lyrically beautiful, heartbreaking book.

10. The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker:  Julia is a teenage girl who, like everybody else, is shocked when the earth's rotation inexplicably begins to slow.  The change is unnoticeable at first, but its effects soon become catastrophic.  But in addition to everything else, Julia has to struggle with the trials and tribulations of adolescence, family problems, and first love.  A really gripping and unusual book with some gorgeous turns of phrase.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

now I'll never be a swimsuit model

Well, it's official:  I have to have my gallbladder out. 

My doctor wanted to get me in ASAP to get it taken care of, since the stones are so big they're causing nearby organs to act up (hence the "liver derangements"...a term I rather enjoy because it makes my liver sound like a kooky spinster aunt that lives in the attic of a Victorian mansion and dresses up kittens in frilly dresses and makes them attend her pretend wedding to the groundskeeper that broke her heart when she was a girl).  But I can't say as I wanted surgery for my Christmas present, so I'll be getting it early next year.  I have yet another appointment on January 3rd, so I'll know more after that.

It was a lot easier to be brave when there was still a chance it might not come to this.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

best of 2012: nonfiction

It's time for my favorite nonfiction books of 2012!  Just a few notes before I begin:

  • Not all of these were first released in 2012, but that's when I read them.
  • Aside from the first three titles listed, these aren't in preferential order.
  • I just noticed these are all by women, which is a coincidence and not me rejecting the patriarchy or anything like that.
  • And, as always, your mileage may vary.

1. Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo:  How's this for an opening sentence:  "Midnight was closing in, the one-legged woman was grievously burned, and the Mumbai police were coming for Abdul and his father."  I was hooked immediately.  This book follows several residents of a Mumbai slum, ranging from a teenage trash picker to a young woman who wants to be the slum's first female college graduate.  It reads like a great novel, and although at times it's distressing, it's almost impossible to put down.

2. Wild by Cheryl Strayed:  Left reeling by her divorce and her mother's death, the author decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail by herself, dealing with rattlesnakes, creepy dudes, and fucked up feet along the way.  It's heartbreaking at times (be warned, if you've lost a parent, some of the chapters will rip you apart), funny at others, and riveting throughout. 

3. Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson:  This memoir covers everything from the author's unconventional upbringing to marriage and motherhood, and Jesus H. Christ is it FUNNY.  One chapter, in which she's home alone with a horrible case of diarrhea and thinks a rapist is passing notes under the door to her (you just kind of have to read the story to understand), had me laughing so hard that tears were streaming down my face.  Good shit, y'all.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. Breaking Night by Liz Murray:  The author grew up in poverty with her sister and their drug addicted parents.  She eventually wound up homeless, but despite her rough start in life, she managed to win a scholarship and get into Harvard.  It sounds like a total treaclefest, but it most assuredly isn't.

8. Crazy Enough by Storm Large:  Convinced that she'd turn out like her severely mentally ill mother, the author gorged herself on sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll, figuring she might as well live it up while she still could.  Fascinating and often searingly funny.

9. How to Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran:  In candid and often uproarious prose, the author talks about many issues important to women---to wax or not to wax, fashion, love, abortion, childbirth---and shares anecdotes from her own life.  She also has one of the best definitions of feminism I've ever read (though a bit reductive, since men can be feminists too): "So here is the quick way of working out if you're a feminist.  Put your hand in your underpants.  A) Do you have a vagina? and B) Do you want to be in charge of it?  If you said yes to both, then congratulations!  You're a feminist."

10. Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed:  Before her memoir Wild made her famous, Strayed wrote an advice column called "Dear Sugar".  This is a collection of some of her most memorable letters and her perfect, beautifully written responses, and let me tell you: have some goddamn tissues handy, because I swear I was misting up every five pages.

Friday, December 07, 2012

romancing the stones

(Note:  This entry won't make much sense if you haven't read the previous two.)

When I got home from work last night and opened my mailbox, I noticed an envelope from my doctor's office nestled between the Netflix discs and Trader Joe's flyers.  I went upstairs, sat on my couch, and turned the envelope over and over in my hand.

Okay, deep breaths, I thought to myself.  No matter what it says, at least you've got health insurance and an amazing family and boyfriend.  Just open the fucking thing.

And I flung it on the coffee table and booted up my computer.  I began reading an e-mail, and then I forced myself to get up and grab the envelope and open it.

Deep breaths...

I got me some gallstones!  "Numerous prominent gallstones", to be exact.

As a bonus, I also have "a partially duplicated right-sided renal collecting system", which caused me to race to my computer and google it.  I'll save you the trouble:  basically, it means that I have two ureters draining a single kidney.  It very rarely poses any problems, and it occurs in about 1% of the population.

Seriously, God?  THAT'S the fucking 1% I belong to?!?

Anyway, I have an appointment with my doctor on Tuesday and we'll see what to do about these goddamned gallstones.  Obviously I'm not thrilled about this, but it could have been much, much worse.  And I've known people who had their gallbladders out, and although it wasn't Happy Kitten Orgasm Funtime, they both said it wasn't all that bad as far as surgeries go.  So if it comes to that, well, I refer you back to the part about health insurance and my amazing family and boyfriend.  I'll be aight.
Further updates as warranted, of course.

As thanks for listening, I present to you a fabulous photograph courtesy of Padre.  Background story for those of you who didn't read my November media update (and why didn't you, why do you hate me, oh my god there is no love for me in this world):  we went to the San Diego Zoo on Thanksgiving, where we watched an upstart young gorilla throw a handful of dirt and leaves on the head of a startled silverback.  The silverback reached up and brushed his head off, and I said to Glenn, "That was probably a poor life choice."

And how, because as soon as the young gorilla's back was turned, this happened:

Nobody will ever be able to convince me that animals don't have a sense of humor.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

it sucked and then I cried

UPDATE:  I still hadn't heard anything about my CAT scan results by last night, and this filled me with a strange kind of optimism:  if it was something truly hideous, wouldn't they call me right away?  But I knew that I couldn't play ostrich, so this morning I called my doctor's office.  They said that the test results were in the mail and that I should get them today, or tomorrow at the latest.  I tried to get more information out of the receptionist, but she apologized and said any medical information had to come from the doctor, who is conveniently on vacation all week.  I will, of course, keep you updated; continued finger crossing would be much appreciated.

As far as my beloved Ginji goes, I cannot even begin to explain what the hell the problem turned out to be.  The dude at the dealership told me and I was doing the RCA dog head tilt because it didn't make even the tiniest bit of sense to me how the one thing would affect the other.  But on the plus side, the keys didn't need to be recoded ($$), and the immobilization system didn't need to be replaced ($$$$); they only needed to replace some valve dealiemabob.  So the whole thing wound up costing me about $150 and a vacation day.  At least they had a free shuttle service, so I was able to go home while they worked on him and finally finish my backlog of American Horror Story: Asylum and Sin City, which I've had out from Netflix for over a month.

Oh, two funny things happened on Tuesday.  On the way to the dealership, the tow truck driver said "Not a great way to start your day, huh?"

"Oh, it's already been a hell of a week," I said bitterly.  "This was just the crap icing on the crap-filled Pop-Tart."

He laughed and said, "Well, they say when it rains, it pours."

"Been Hurricane Sandy up in my life recently," I muttered, and he guffawed and slapped the steering wheel.

"Man, you're funny!  You're not a comedian, are you?  Actually, you look like that one woman, 'cept I don't think you'd be living in [city name] if you were her.  What the hell's her name?"

"Janeane Garofalo?"  (I've gotten this comment before, but aside from long dark hair and glasses, I don't think there's any resemblance.)

"Yeah!  That's her!"

The second thing:  when the tow truck driver pulled into the dealership, a salesman came bounding towards us, frantically motioning towards the garage.  I couldn't figure out why he was so panicked until I noticed the couple looking at cars.  Yeah, I suppose a fairly new Honda Civic with a pristine exterior being towed in isn't the greatest advertisement for your brand.

Okay, back to work.

(Entry title swiped from Heather B. Armstrong's excellent memoir because oh boy does it ever fit)

When I got home from G's yesterday morning, I grabbed the first of my two Big Gulp-sized cups of contrast material, filled it with water, and gave it a vigorous stir.  Lollipop at the ready, I braced myself and took my first sip.


Okay, it wasn't exactly a vanilla In-N-Out shake or nothin', but it wasn't as bad as I was expecting.  It kind of tasted like pool water.

I finished the first cup at 9AM and immediately started in on the second.  Then, after peeing about ten times, I headed to the lab for my CAT scan.  I signed in, did the requisite ream of paperwork, and then sat down in the waiting room with my second cup of contrast.  A man only slightly older than me (which I found comforting in a strange way, not that I would wish this shit on most people of any age) was holding an enormous cup too, and when he saw me looking at him, he raised it in a toast.  Comrades in arms!

Finally, a cheerful doctor who looked like a thinner Santa Claus came out to get me.  After taking off my bra and jeans and changing into a super comfortable pair of green scrub pants, I went into the CAT scan room.  Dr. Santa said, "I know you've had your fill of this stuff, but I need you to drink one more cup of contrast." 

Noticing my face, he laughed and said, "Don't worry, this one's much smaller."

And, as it turns out, much grosser without all the water to dilute it. 

I laid down on the table and Dr. Santa covered me with a blanket, and then the scanning commenced.  Occasionally an automated voice would command me to breathe in and hold it, and then breathe out again.  I closed my eyes and pretended like I was in Prometheus.

Dr. Santa came back in and said, "Okay, now I'm going to start an IV."




"Um, I didn't think I had to get an IV too," I said, my lips trembling.

"Well, we want to make absolutely sure we can see everything, especially since you're so young.  I've been told I have a light touch, so hopefully it won't be so bad."

I squinched my eyes shut as he inserted the IV.  True to his word, it barely hurt, so I was grateful for that at least.  I felt a rush of warmth in my nethers---not the good kind of warmth in my nethers---and then I started to shiver.  I was thankful for the blanket.

More scanning...and more...and then silence that seemed to last for hours, but was probably only a couple of minutes.  "Hello?" I called out plaintively.

No answer.

"Hellooooo?" I sobbed, feeling more vulnerable than I had ever felt in my life, lying there on a table with an IV stuck in my arm, shivering, disoriented, in desperate need of a bathroom, nobody answering my call.

Finally Dr. Santa returned to the room and unhooked my IV.  He said that I would probably get the results on Tuesday, and I raced into the bathroom without even bothering to put my shoes on.  (I know, gross, but I have never had to piss that badly in my life.)  Then I got dressed, contemplated shoving those super comfortable scrub pants into my purse and deciding that I needed my karma as shiny as possible, and left.  I went home and napped before going to work.

This morning, I hopped into Ginji, turned the ignition, and nothing.  A green light I'd never seen before flashed on the dashboard.  Frantically, I pulled my owner's manual out of the glove compartment and discovered that it meant the immobilization system had activated.  This is to keep someone from using, say, a screwdriver to steal your car; apparently, it's also to keep you from using the same fucking key you've used for the last four years.

Dear God:  when I asked if things could get any worse, IT WASN'T A YOUDAMNED CHALLENGE.

So I burst into fat sloppy tears, ran upstairs, and grabbed my spare key.  Nope, same thing. 

Called the dealership, they said to have Ginji towed in.

Called Triple A, they said they'd send someone out within an hour.

Called my boss, who fucking LAUGHED.  This after I prefaced it by saying, "As if my health problems weren't bad enough..." 

Cried some more while waiting for Triple A.  And it wasn't all due to the car (a 2009 Honda Civic with less than 14,000 miles on it, I might add), of course; it was the cumulation of almost two weeks of pure fucking SHIT.

Eventually, a very nice Triple A tow truck driver came, hooked Ginji up, and took us to the local dealership about 3 miles down the road.  They said it would take about an hour before they could look at him (could be the keys' coding going bad, which is unlikely since neither one works; most likely, the whole immobilization system is boofed, which yay), so I took advantage of their courtesy shuttle and came home so I could write this entry and catch up on my backlog of American Horror Story: Asylum, which may provide some small measure of comfort.  Things might be sucking hard right now, but hey, at least I'm not locked in Bloody Face's basement!

And I still don't have my CAT scan results, so between that and waiting to hear about my car, my cell phone has turned into a time bomb and I'm afraid to hear it go off.