Thursday, January 31, 2013

media update: January

Pour a 40 out on the curb for my beloved Compaq Presario, which died last month after 8 years of faithful service.  I took it to the Geek Squad, and the look on the tech's face when I put that fossil on the counter was priceless.  She did her best, but the hard drive was fried.  She said they could send it out and try to get my stuff back, but it would be about $250 (with no guarantees it would even work) and I was like "um, nope".  I had most of my music backed up on my iPod and personal pictures uploaded to Photobucket, so it wasn't worth the money.  I did lose my fansubbed copy of Ai no Kusabi and tons of internet meme pictures, but it wasn't worth $250 to try to get that stuff back.  Oh well; if nothing else it taught me the importance of backing up my files on a regular basis. 

Anyway, while I was at Best Buy, I bought a new laptop, and may I just say I fucking hate Windows 8.  Hate, hate, haaaaaaaaaaaaaaate it.  It's obviously aimed at people who "live in the cloud" and can't wipe their asses without tweeting about it or updating their Facebook status.  I'm like, dudes, can I just fucking check some movie times or tweak my Netflix queue without eight thousand fucking tiles (sorry, "charms") popping up all over the goddamn fucking place?  Jesus fucking Christ!  I mean, if even Gabe Newell (the cofounder of video game company Valve; he worked for Microsoft for 13 years) has publicly decried it, you know it's a piece of shit. 

One more rant while I'm on a roll:  I got a book from the library (I know, right???  Contain your shock!), and about five pages in, there were fucking FRUIT SEEDS and oily stains all over the page.  According to the stamp on the inside, the library had owned this book for a whopping month.

Okay, it's not like I've never eaten while reading a library book, but you know what?  I've never left ACTUAL DETRITUS inside a book, or hairs, or squashed bugs, or any of the other things I've seen in library books.  (Or a Social Security card, which is probably the worst possible thing you could use as a bookmark.  Yes, I gave it to a librarian the next time I came in.)  Libraries are utterly sacred to me, so when people abuse the goods, I get real stabby.

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


1. The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis:  Hattie Shepherd has had a hard life:  she married young and gave birth to twins who died as infants.  Because she can't bear to have her heart broken again, Hattie's next nine children don't receive the kind of love or tenderness they deserve.  Each child (and one grandchild) gets their own chapter, and they're pretty sporadic in quality; some of them are excellent, and others are kind of boring.  It's not a bad book, but it's certainly not the masterpiece Oprah claimed it is.  (Not that I think Oprah's book club selections are always gold or anything---she's raved about some real clunkers---but I've found a few excellent authors through her, so I always give her recommendations a try.)

2. The One I Left Behind by Jennifer McMahon:  In 1985, a serial killer terrorizes a small Connecticut town.  The body of his final victim, an aspiring actress named Vera, is never found.  But when Vera shows up in a homeless shelter 25 years later, her daughter Reggie returns to her hometown to take care of her mother and see if she can find out the killer's identity before he strikes again.  Melodramatic and filled with typos and too many uses of "snarled" and "snapped", but I liked it fine.

3. The Wrath of Angels* by John Connolly:  Private investigator Charlie Parker hears about the wreckage of a plane deep in the Maine woods.  There was a very important list inside the plane, and some very bad people with very bad intentions are looking for it.  I gotta say, not much makes me happier than a new John Connolly book, and I really enjoyed this one.  My only real complaint is that there isn't enough Angel and Louis, but there never is. 

4. The Sweet Life by Francine Pascal:  Even though I thought Sweet Valley Confidential, the "adult" reboot of the Sweet Valley High series that I absolutely devoured as a kid, was garbage, I still had to read this one too.  Spoiler alert:  also garbage!  I mean, seriously, this is an actual line (check the top of page 22 if you don't believe me):  "By the time Elizabeth got home, it was twelve thirty and Bruce's Ferrari was in their five-car garage that also held Elizabeth's car and the Bentley for when they used the driver who doubled as a handyman but looked to Elizabeth like a butler that Bruce swore he wasn't."  WHAT?  And I will never be okay with Elizabeth and Bruce together.  Nope nope nope.  But even though this book was crappy in the extreme, I kind of enjoyed it...certainly more than Sweet Valley Confidential.  It left off on a huge cliffhanger, so there will undoubtedly be a sequel, and I will read that too.

...I hate myself.


Nothing this month.


1. Velvet Kiss vol. 2 by Chihiro Haru

2. Saga* by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples:  I have to wait until July for volume 2 and this makes me sad because Saga is so, so good.  Despite my mad love for Brian K. Vaughan, I didn't think I'd like this because it sounded a bit too sci-fi for my tastes, but it's goddamn awesome.  Gotta love anything that begins with the lines "Am I shitting?  It feels like I'm shitting!"

3. The Boys* vol. 12 (final volume) by Garth Ennis, Russ Braun, and Darick Robertson

4. Batgirl: The Darkest Reflection* by Gail Simone, Ardian Syaf, and Vicente Cifuentes

5. Otomen vol. 14 by Aya Kanno

6. Soulless vol. 2 by Gail Carriger and Rem

7. Swamp Thing: Raise Them Bones by Scott Snyder, Yanick Paquette, and Marco Rudy

8. iZombie: Repossession (final volume) by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred

9. Sakura Hime vol. 9 by Arina Tanemura

10. 21st Century Boys by Naoki Urasawa

11. Black Bird vol. 15 by Kanoko Sakurakouji:  This is turning into Twilight with tengu instead of vampires, and I can't say as I like the change all that much.

12. Chew vol. 6 by John Layman and Rob Guillory

13. Love Makes Everything Right by Sanae Rokuya

14. Girl Friends* by Milk Morinaga

15. Sleepless Nights by Sachi Murakami


1. Another Happy Day:  Ironic title alert!  This is actually about a dysfunctional family getting together for a wedding, and although it's not as depressing as Rachel Getting Married (seriously, Glenn and I were fucking traumatized by that one), it's still a downer.  But it's got some excellent performances, especially by Ellen Barkin as the brittle mother of the groom, Ellen Burstyn as the family matriarch, and Ezra Miller as one of her other sons. 

Oh, and I have to share part of Netflix's description because it's absolutely perfect:  "Ellen Barkin [stars] as a divorcée trying to hold her own against a family that couches judgment in every smile."

Random thought that came to me while watching this movie:  No offense to Julia Roberts, but her Oscar rightfully belongs to Ellen Burstyn for her searing performance in Requiem for a Dream.  Absolutely brutal to watch, but one of the best examples of acting I've ever seen.

2. Looper*:  In this sci-fi mindfuck, Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, looking a little less dreamy than usual due to facial prosthetics) is a hitman who kills people sent from the future.  But when a surprising person shows up for assassination, he has to figure out a plan.  An extremely clever treat.

3. Total Recall:  Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) decides to visit Rekall, a place where false memories are implanted to give the recipient the feeling of having lived a different life.  But the procedure goes wrong, and he goes on the lam.  I never saw the 1990 Schwarzenegger flick, so I can't compare the two.  But it's got some gorgeous visuals and fun action scenes, so I enjoyed it.

4. Compliance:  In this deeply unnerving film, a fast food restaurant manager receives a phone call from a man claiming to be a cop.  He says that he's investigating a theft by an employee named Becky, and he needs the manager's help interrogating her.  She brings Becky (played by Dreama Walker, better known as the anime-eyed "nice" roommate on Don't Trust the B in Apartment 23) into the back room and begins following the caller's instructions.  But even as the caller's demands become more outrageous, nobody---not the manager, not the other employees, not even Becky---thinks to question him or his authenticity.  Sound implausible?  Well, horrifyingly enough, this movie (and a particularly memorable Law & Order: SVU episode starring Robin Williams) was inspired by several true incidents.  It's a pretty chilling look at how people blindly follow authority, but I wouldn't recommend it as it left me feeling really dirty and depressed.

...okay, there's one more thing I have to say about this movie but it needs a SPOILER ALERT if you haven't seen it and want to, or if you're not familiar with the real case.

So there's a scene where the manager's fiance Van is in the back room keeping an eye on Becky, as per the caller's instructions.  The caller tells Van to spank Becky for being disobedient, and then you see a shot of Becky going down on Van.  You never actually hear the caller tell her to do that, but her body language (and Van's, for that matter) strongly imply that they aren't doing it of their own volition, but because the caller told them to.

This actually HAPPENED in one of the true cases, if you can believe it.  And I don't want anyone to think I'm blaming the victim here, but why for the love of sweet baby Christ in the manger would anyone believe that a COP would tell somebody to give someone else a blow job as part of a police investigation?  Especially when the cop is ON THE PHONE.  He's not there!  Just say you did it and he wouldn't know the difference!  If an actual cop was in the room and he was corrupt and pointing a gun at their heads, that's one thing.  But...augh, I still don't know how to process this movie and it's been 3 weeks since I saw it.

5. Frankenweenie:  After his beloved dog Sparky is killed by a car, young Victor Frankenstein revives him...with unexpected results.  I really wanted to like this, because I like most of Tim Burton's stuff and I'm a total whore for stop motion animation, but I thought it was incredibly disappointing, and G was actually livid after watching it.  (Choice G quote:  "If this emperor's new clothes bullshit wins the best animated Oscar, I will shit on the Academy's face.")  For all your macabre stop motion animation needs, may I recommend the excellent ParaNorman instead?  Thank you in advance for your consideration.

6. The Expendables 2:  Basically every action star ever stars in this flick about...oh, who cares.  You are either the target audience for this film or its mere existence makes you despair.  (Guess which category I fall into!)  It's very loud and incredibly stupid, but goddamn if it isn't fun.  And I appreciated them adding a woman to the mix this time, though she doesn't get to kick as much ass as the big boys.  I'd love to see Jeeja Yanin or Gina Carano in the next one; shit, if they got Jeeja Yanin, I'd see it in the theater, goddamn guaranteed.  (And for all your "awesome women kicking massive fucking amounts of ass" needs, may I recommend Chocolate?  Thank you in advance for your consideration.)

7. About Cherry:  Angelina is an 18-year-old who moves to San Francisco with her lovesick friend, hoping to escape her unhappy home life.  She renames herself Cherry and begins working in the porn industry.  A strange mishmash of Skinemax and an afterschool special with delusions of grandeur.  There's no real reason to watch it unless you're dying to see the dude from Slumdog Millionaire jacking off.

8. The Possession:  This some stupid shit right hurr.  Based on a "true story", it's about a little girl who finds a strange box at a garage sale and begs her dad to buy it for her.  When she opens it, she inadvertently releases a malevolent spirit called a dybbuk.  Dad takes a road trip to NYC, tracks down a Jewish exorcist (played by Hasidic reggae singer Matisyahu), and they prepare to take the dybbuk down.  As previously mentioned, it's really stupid, but I was battling a bad cold and was curled up on the couch cocooned in blankets and piteously dabbing my raw nose every two seconds, and it was just about the perfect mindless viewing material for that type of situation.  Otherwise, skip it.

9. Pitch Perfect*:  A college freshman (Anna Kendrick, who I took a real shine to after her cheeky tweet about masturbating to Ryan Gosling movies) reluctantly joins an acapella group.  I wasn't sure I'd like this, especially because I soured on Glee so quickly, but it's really funny and features some great singing.

10. The Bourne Legacy:  In order to avoid certain facts coming to light, the CIA begins taking out several of its operatives...but one of them (Jeremy Renner) refuses to go down easy.  Way too talky for an action movie, but there are some good fights and an excellent motorcycle chase.

11. Taken 2:  Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson, badass as ever) has to go to Istanbul for work and impulsively invites his ex-wife and daughter to come along.  This turns out to be a bad idea, because the families of the men Bryan killed in Taken want revenge, and they kidnap Bryan and his ex.  (I don't think it's a spoiler to say that additional people will be wanting revenge in Taken 3.)  It's more of the same, but it's still fun.

12. Dredd:  In a dystopian future, law enforcement officers known as Judges have the authority to carry out any sentence they please.  Dredd and his rookie partner Anderson are sent to a massive apartment building to take down Mama, a psychotic ex-hooker who now controls the drug trade, but they have to get through 200 floors of her goons first.  (Which is strangely reminiscent of The Raid: Redemption.)  This movie made about two bucks, but it's enjoyable and filled with lots of action and gallons of gore.

13. Whores' Glory*:  A fascinating documentary about prostitutes in Thailand, Bangladesh, and Mexico.  It can be pretty devastating, like the scene where a man tries to negotiate a discount with the attendant while the prostitute stands there with a pained smile on her face or when another woman, her face bloodied by an angry madam, cries in a corridor, but (jarring soundtrack and one forced visual metaphor aside) I thought it was well worth a watch.  I'll tell you this, it will sure as shit keep you from feeling sorry for yourself for a long time after watching it.

Viewer advisory:  there's one graphic sex scene near the end.  It's not remotely erotic at all, but it's very explicit.


1. "Memorabilia" by Soft Cell

2. "Bedsitter" by Soft Cell

3. "Torch" by Soft Cell

4. "What" by Soft Cell

5. "Soul Inside" by Soft Cell

6. "Where the Heart Is" by Soft Cell

7. "I Feel Love" by Marc Almond and Jimmy Somerville

8. "Tears Run Rings" by Marc Almond

9. "Something's Gotten Hold of My Heart" by Marc Almond featuring Gene Pitney

10. "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" by Cyndi Lauper

11. "Money Changes Everything" by Cyndi Lauper

12. "Time After Time" by Cyndi Lauper

13. "She Bop" by Cyndi Lauper

14. "All Through the Night" by Cyndi Lauper

15. "Change of Heart" by Cyndi Lauper

16. "True Colors" by Cyndi Lauper:  This is one of only 4 songs that can instantly reduce me to tears.  The others are the theme from Somewhere in Time, "The Rainbow Connection" from The Muppet Movie, and "Hawaiian Wedding Song" by Elvis Presley (because one of my mom's last requests shortly before she died was to hear it again).

17. "Bad Religion" by Frank Ocean:  I am making a mix CD of songs about heartbreak and this is going on it.  Oh, that part where he sings "I could never make him love me."  Oh, the feels!

18. "Empire State Human" by Human League:  This is truly one of the stupidest songs ever, and it will always remind me of that frustrating skyscraper level in Lollipop Chainsaw, but I love it. 

19. "Bull in the Heather" by Sonic Youth

20. "100%" by Sonic Youth

21. "Sugar Kane" by Sonic Youth

22. "Kool Thing" by Sonic Youth

23. "Superstar" by Sonic Youth

24. "Expressway to Yr Skull" by Sonic Youth

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

whatever happened to Sondra Prill?

So Kelly Not My Roommate introduced me to the wonders of Sondra Prill, the Florida public access TV star who went reclusive in 2006.  After watching several of her videos on YouTube, I'm kind of in love with the woman who, as KNMR put it, could be the patron saint of giving no fucks.  We were noting back and forth about how funny it would be to track Ms. Prill down and find out what she's been up to, and I decided to write a fanfic in which I did just that. 

Obligatory disclaimer #1:  This is fiction.

Obligatory disclaimer #2:  "Patron saint of giving no fucks" is KNMR's awesome phrase, not mine.

Obligatory disclaimer #3:  This will amuse precisely nobody but myself and perhaps KNMR, but I enjoyed writing it, so. 


She's become an internet icon of sorts, inspiring both obsessive love and deep scorn:  Sondra Prill, the Florida public access TV star whose bizarre videos were either brilliant performance art or horribly deluded vanity projects. 

I recently became acquainted with Ms. Prill's work after receiving a link to her YouTube videos from a friend, and after learning that she had gone off the radar in 2006, I became determined to track her down and find out what she'd been up to.  I cannot discuss how I located Ms. Prill---suffice it to say that it involved cashing in a lot of favors---but I did.  After some coaxing and flattery, she agreed to meet me for a brief interview.

When she answered the door at her modest pink stucco home, Sondra Prill was wearing her iconic fur coat.  I burst into an involuntary fit of giggles, and she twirled around for me. 

"You like it, hon?" Sondra asked.  "Can you believe this thing still fits after all these years?"

After offering me a drink ("Can I get you a soda?  Beer?  I'd give you some water but it tastes like shit around here and bottled water's too spendy"), Sondra and I settle down on a plastic covered couch.  Sondra lights up the first of many Parliaments and stares steadily into my eyes.

"I gotta say, I was pretty surprised to get your call," she says.  "I didn't think anyone gave two shits about ol' Sondra anymore."

"Well, they do," I say enthusiastically, leaning forward.  "And your fans demand answers:  where'd you go, Sondra?"

"You know about the musical, right?" she asked, referring to "Sultry Sondra: A Musical Fantasy", the infamous stage show in which she was covered with honey.  "I couldn't believe it when people asked for their money back at the end of the night.  Seriously, I sing my heart out and get that sticky shit all over myself and people can't appreciate my art?  They can go fuck themselves."  She points her cigarette at me for emphasis and repeats, "They can go fuck themselves."  A scruffy but obviously loved black cat climbs into her lap, and she scratches behind its ears as she thinks for a moment.

"I bet you're wondering if I was in on the joke," she says.  "Well, yes and no.  I always thought I had talent, but I know I was no Madonna or nothin' like that.  I mostly just wanted to have a good time, entertain people, make them laugh or think or whatever."

"Can you tell me about your 'Nasty' video?"

"Man, that was a hoot!" she cries, slapping her knee and sending the cat scurrying off.  "It was me and a bunch of my club friends.  You gotta understand, this was the 90's in Florida, and there was a LOT of cocaine flying around.  And those guys came from a gay go-go bar in Sarasota.  Yeah, in retrospect none of them are Magic fucking Mike or nothing, but back then they were the shit."  Sondra sighs happily, lights up another cigarette, and takes a deep drag.  "I think Bobby might have been bi, actually.  Fucked him once."

Unsure of how to respond to this comment, I flip through my notebook and say, ", what about that fur coat?"

"My Aunt Doris left it to me when she died.  I don't wear it much anymore, partly because I'm not so big on fur anymore and partly because, you know, fucking Florida.  Doesn't get cold here."

"And can you tell me about your version of 'Pump Up the Jam'?"

"Oh, that was a lot of fun.  I thought I was Sheena Easton back then.  Took a lot of hairspray to get that coif, I tell you what."

"And what have you been up to since you went underground?"

Sondra frowns.  "You know what, I don't really want to get into it.  I've had some hard times, and I'm not looking for sympathy or anything, but I also don't want to hash it all over again.  But you know, I have a pretty good life right now.  I got my cats, my health, my gays---"

"Your gays?"

"Oh yeah, I have so many gay friends it's not even funny.  I call them my gaggle.  Once or twice a year we go to Vegas, stay someplace real cheap, spend a shitload of money and eat and drink and go out dancing.  Had my heart broken too many times, so I'm not looking for a relationship right now, but I ain't against the occasional fling now and then."  She smirks.  "Oh yeah, Sondra can still get real nasty."

A clock chimes in the entryway, and she casts a glance at it.  "No offense, hon, but can we wrap this up?  I appreciate you being interested and all, but I got stuff to do."

"I understand, Ms. Prill.  Just one more question, if I may:  how would you like to be remembered?"

Sondra thinks for a moment, absentmindedly stroking the collar of her fur coat.  Then a brilliant smile crosses her face, and she says, "I want to be remembered as the patron saint of giving no fucks."

2012: the year in review

JANUARY:  Jet lag from the London trip kicked my ass.  I was terrified to return to work after almost two weeks off, but fortunately my backup kept things from getting too hairy.  Was startled when the African-American temp at work informed me that "black people don't like cats".  Got my eyes examined, forgot that my eyes were dilated, and couldn't figure out why the employees at Subway were smirking at me afterwards.  They must have thought I was tweaking hard!  Much to everyone's astonishment, the New York Giants won their division playoffs, which was a particularly nice birthday present for lifelong fan Padre!  Finished Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare.  My stepgrandfather Bill died.  Played a metric fuckton of Bejeweled 3.  Read 2 novels, 3 nonfiction books, 13 volumes of manga, and 6 graphic novels; saw 12 movies.

FEBRUARY:  G went to New Mexico to watch the Super Bowl with his dad; I didn't have any vacation time, so I spent a weekend by myself watching tons of TV/movies, reading, and cleaning.  I missed most of the Super Bowl, but I caught the last twenty minutes and was amazed when the Giants won!  I called Padre to congratulate him and there was much celebrating going on in the background.  Although FTD shit the bed and didn't send the flowers G had ordered for me, I still had a lovely Valentine's Day with my sweetie.  Watched The Fall twice in 24 hours, and it quickly became one of my ten favorite movies of all time.  Watched the Oscars, which were particularly boring this year.  Our friend Root was in town, so we got together with her for dinner and snappy conversation.  Read 3 novels, 5 nonfiction books, 6 volumes of manga, and 3 graphic novels; saw 14 movies.

MARCH:  After years of fangirling from afar, I finally got to meet Kelly Not My Roommate in real life.  She was absolutely gorgeous, sharp as the cliched tack, and funny as hell.  We went to Little Tokyo, had curry for lunch, looked in all the different stores, and played Samba de Amigo and Taiko Drum Master in the arcade.  Went to a charity screening of The Iron Giant, followed by a Q&A with director Brad Bird and several members of the cast and crew.  Afterwards, we had a late dinner at the famous Mel's Diner in Hollywood.  The same temp who told me that black people don't like cats got shitcanned after plugging her phone into her computer (a HUGE no-no) and uploading a virus into the system.  Went to LACMA with G and M for an excellent exhibit of female surrealist painters.  Read 6 novels, 3 nonfiction books, 5 volumes of manga, and 3 graphic novels; saw 13 movies.

APRIL:  Finished Mystery Case Files: Million Heir.  Spent a G-less weekend mainlining season 1 of The Killing, sleeping, reading, and eating my feelings.  The quaint little B&B that was supposed to serve as the locale for Daddy-O and A's wedding burned down; fortunately, they were in the area at the time and managed to find a new venue quickly.  Finished The Wire. Root came out for a short visit.  SoCal got hit with some major rain, which made a perfect backdrop for my Silent Hill Downpour marathons.  A coworker told me I was too smart to be an agnostic, which left me literally speechless for several minutes.  Went to Little Tokyo with G and C to see an origami exhibit at JANM, shop, and get our feed on.  Got addicted to Game of Thrones.  As usual, Administrative Assistants Day was a massive and borderline insulting flop.  Got a migraine at work that led to me barfing in a trash can.  Got my 'do did.  Read 4 novels, 1 nonfiction book, 6 volumes of manga, and 2 graphic novels; saw 5 movies.

MAY:  The wood boring beetles that plagued me in 2008 returned to my apartment, necessitating a call to my landlady.  G and I went to New Jersey for my dad's wedding.  The ceremony was lovely and (as expected) I cried throughout the whole thing.  When I returned from my long weekend away, I discovered that the exterminators had come and made an unholy mess of my apartment that took 2 1/2 hours to clean up.  (It probably wouldn't have taken quite as much time if I hadn't been sobbing.)  Finished Silent Hill Downpour.  Work was an awful whore.  Got a nasty cold.  G went to Florida for his nephew's graduation; because I had no vacation time, I spent yet another weekend by myself.  It was the worst one yet because I had literally NO reading material, which is almost as bad as going without food or water for me!  Did some house/cat sitting for M.  Got my first mammogram, and although it was uncomfortable, it wasn't nearly as bad as I'd expected.  Read 2 novels, 2 nonfiction books, 5 volumes of manga, and 2 graphic novels; saw 11 movies.     

JUNE:  Overall, June was an uneventful month, which was fine by me after May's whirlwind of weevils, weddings, and work.  Got my mammogram results back, and fortunately they were clear.  Finished story mode of Professor Layton and the Last Specter.  My job duties changed yet again, which for once wasn't a bad thing.  Read 6 novels, 2 nonfiction books, 6 volumes of manga, and 2 graphic novels; saw 12 movies.

JULY:  The receptionist at work quit in a huff halfway through the day, forcing me to help cover the lobby until a replacement was found.  Needless to say, this sucked my ass out.  Went to the animal shelter and lost my shit over an adorable Siamese sealpoint kitten who kept putting his paw through the cage bars and touching my arm.  The obnoxious temp who sat behind me either got shitcanned or quit of his own accord; whatever the case, my work wife J and I threw a party.  Celebrated G's birthday on the 16th and mine on the 18th.  I feasted on a glorious dinner (chicken picatta, spaghettini in lemon caper sauce, a cherry lime cocktail, and warm butter cake for dessert) and gleefully opened presents.  On the 21st, as a belated birthday excursion for G, C, and me, we saw The Dark Knight Rises in the VIP 21+ lounge at our local theater.  Read 6 novels, 3 volumes of manga, and 3 graphic novels; saw 15 movies.

AUGUST:  While walking to Barnes & Noble on my lunch break, I spotted a turtle wandering in the parking lot and relocated him to a koi pond next to a restaurant.  When I walked past the restaurant on my way back, it was either on the giving or receiving end of a proper boinking.  Padre came out for a short visit to do an interview for an HBO documentary; afterwards, we had dinner at Kate Mantilini's and saw Lisa Kudrow and Mel Brooks, though not together.  Went to the county fair with M.  G and I celebrated our eighth anniversary.  Wound up getting fucked out of both Thanksgiving AND Christmas vacation at work.  Got my hair cut at Supercuts and then decided to get my eyebrows waxed as long as I was there, which led to the stylist dripping wax in my hair that she couldn't get out.  I wound up going home, standing in my shower, and drenching my hair with olive oil, which worked (and made my hair super shiny!).  Read 4 novels, 5 nonfiction books, 3 graphic novels, 6 volumes of manga, and one comics collection; saw 11 movies.

SEPTEMBER:  Our friend G2 was in town for a short visit, so along with C, we stayed up all night eating, talking, watching movies, and playing video/board games.  Finished Max Payne 3.  After some serious tsuris with the buyers, Daddy-O finally closed the sale on his house.  Finished Journey.  One of the receptionists at work broke her ankle during roller derby, which meant I had to fill in, which meant I spent much of September in mental anguish because working in the lobby sucks sweaty ballsack.  Used a shampoo sample that I got with a Beautyhabit order and was astounded when my hair turned out softer, shinier, and more manageable than it had ever been; my plans to immediately buy a bottle were thwarted by the $50 price tag.  (What, is it made out of virgin yeti blood or something?)  Went to Little Tokyo with G and C; was horrified to see that our favorite macaron place had closed down.  Twisted my ankle going down the stairs at my apartment complex.  Read 3 novels, 1 nonfiction book, 1 graphic novel, and 3 volumes of manga; saw 8 movies. 

OCTOBER: They changed some things around at work, and not for the better.  Went to an alarmingly hot podiatrist about my foot pain and was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis.  Finished Persona 4 Arena.  Had the best work day ever when a water main broke and rendered all of the bathrooms unusable, so they let us go home early and I basically got paid to spend 4 hours reading, napping, and watching Louie.  My solo trip to Vegas started off on the wrong foot thanks to a 2-hour flight delay, but the rest of it was amazing:  lots of quality time with my oldest friend in the world, tons of delicious food, sightseeing, 3 hours of pampering at a spa, and an awesome show called Absinthe.  Read 8 novels, 1 nonfiction book, 7 volumes of manga, and one graphic novel; saw 8 movies.

NOVEMBER:  Finished Resident Evil 6.  Caught a nasty cold.  G and I visited our friend M and loved up on her kitties.  (Not a euphemism.)  Saw The Book of Mormon at the Pantages Theater in Los Angeles.  Madre and Padre visited for Thanksgiving, and we all went to San Diego for the long weekend.  We hit up the zoo, Balboa Park, and Old Town.  My stepsister had a baby boy.  I had back pain that lasted for several days and eventually culminated in me leaving work in agony, going home, puking in my sink, and calling G in tears.  He rushed over and took me to the doctor, who ordered bloodwork and x-rays.  The x-rays came back fine, but the bloodwork showed "liver derangement", so I had to schedule a CAT scan.  Read 3 novels, 2 nonfiction books, 3 graphic novels, and 4 volumes of manga; saw 9 movies.

DECEMBER:  Finished Lollipop Chainsaw.  Got a CAT scan, which involved drinking two huge Big Gulp-sized cups of contrast material, lying in a machine, getting scanned, getting a fucking IV of contrast material, and then getting scanned again.  Was sorely disappointed that I didn't receive superpowers from all that contrast material.  December's fuckery continued the very next day when my car wouldn't start.  It turned out to be a problem with the key immobilization system, which wound up costing me $150 and a vacation day from work.  The CAT scan results turned up gallstones, and my doctor recommended surgery, which I managed to defer until the new year as I didn't want to spend Christmas in the hospital.  G bought a new car.  Cashed in some old savings bonds with a face value of about $500; was astounded when they wound up being worth almost two grand.  (Of course, a lot of that windfall went towards medical bills, but it was still a nice surprise.)  G surprised me on Christmas with Pillsbury orange cinnamon rolls, which I'd previously mentioned as being the thing I most associate with childhood Christmases.  The day continued on an awesome note as we played video games, watched TV and movies, ate pizza, and drank wine.  Finished The Walking Dead, which wound up being my favorite video game of 2012.  My laptop gave up the ghost after 8 years of reliable service; rest in peace, dear friend.  Spent New Year's Eve/Day with G and his family in Santa Barbara.  Read 3 novels, 2 nonfiction books, 8 graphic novels, and 5 volumes of manga; saw 13 movies.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

media update: December

Happy 2013, everybody!  I hope you all enjoyed your New Year's festivities.  G and I spent it with his family at a strange rental house in Santa Barbara.  It's owned by a French artist who rents it out during the 6 months of the year he's in Europe, and there was art and unusual furniture everywhere you looked.  (Also ants, but that's another story.)  My personal favorite piece was a huge portrait of Jesus composed of dozens of small oil paintings of candy and junk food.  I was madly in love with Candy Jesus and would have stolen Him in a heartbeat if I thought I could get away with it.

Anyway, 2012 wasn't a bad year overall, but December sure sucked what with everything I own breaking down:  my body, my car, my laptop.  May 2013 be kinder to my personal possessions, and just a kickass year in general.

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


1. Crewel by Gennifer Albin:  Oh look!  Another YA dystopia!  This one, at least, has an intriguing concept:  in the country of Arras, young women known as Spinsters have the ability to manipulate the "fabric" of reality.  They're given every privilege by the government, but once selected, they can never see their families again.  Adelice has a bonus gift: she can also manipulate time, which makes her extremely powerful.  I enjoyed it, and I'm curious to see if the author can sustain the conceit over three novels.  (Because I'm sure that it will be part of a trilogy, as all dystopian YA novels seem to be.)

2. Your House Is on Fire, Your Children All Gone by Stefan Kiesbye:  In the village of Hemmersmoor, the townspeople have dark secrets…none of them darker than the ones held by the children.  There’s a whole lot of creepiness packed into this slender novel’s pages. (And on the cover; if you tilt the book to the side, the words "IF YOU TELL ON ME YOU'RE DEAD" appear.  Duly noted, freaky little girl!)

3. The Language of Sisters by Amy Hatvany:  When she finds out that her mentally and physically challenged sister is pregnant, Nicole Hunter returns home to take care of her.  But dealing with Jenny brings up a lot of bad memories, and Nicole has to find the courage to forgive.  With the exception of one reveal that took me by surprise, it's pretty predictable, but sometimes there's a comfort in that.



1. Sharp by David Fitzpatrick:  In this memoir, the author writes about his struggle with mental illness, which manifested in cutting himself.  It's disturbing and grimly fascinating, but I would caution that it may be triggering for people who struggle with self-injury issues.

2. Heads in Beds* by Jacob Tomsky:  A memoir about the author's many years working in hotels that includes excellent anecdotes and valuable tips, like why you should never use unwrapped glasses (they've probably been cleaned with Pledge; housekeeping gets dinged for visible streaks or spots, and Pledge doesn't leave any, plus it's quick).  It's like Kitchen Confidential for the hotel industry. 



1. Sweet Tooth: Unnatural Habitats* by Jeff Lemire

2. No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics* edited by Justin Hall:  If you're interested in GLBTQ comics, or just comics in general, this anthology is absolutely essential.  There's some terrific stuff in here, like "Billy Goes Out" by Howard Cruse (which had me tearing up by the end), "Cy Ross and the S.Q. Syndrome" by Burton Clarke (in which a black man is accused of being a "snow queen" by his friend), and several great pieces by the reliably fabulous Alison Bechdel. 

3. Triage X by Shouji Sato

4. 20th Century Boys vols. 21-22 by Naoki Urasawa

5. Interview with the Vampire: Claudia’s Story* illustrated and adapted by Ashley Marie Witter

6. With A Dictionary and No Skirt by Enoki Tomoyuki

7. Batwoman: Hydrology by J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman

8. The Nao of Brown* by Glyn Dillon

9. Fairest: Wide Awake by Bill Willingham and Phil Jimenez

10. The Walking Dead* vol. 17 by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, and Cliff Rathburn
11. Demon Love Spell by Mayu Shinjo

12. Soulless by Gail Carringer and Rem




1. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter: Abraham Lincoln is best known for being the president who abolished slavery.  But did you know that he spent his free time as an ass-kicking vampire hunter?  Well, that's the premise of this movie, and it's surprisingly fun.  The action scenes were really good, especially the "axe fu".

2. Magic Mike: In order to fund his dreams of making custom furniture, Mike (Channing Tatum) works as a male stripper at night.  He brings a newbie named Adam into the fold, and Adam quickly gets addicted to the money and women. 

I had a couple of beefs with this movie.  First of all, there's a weird yellow tinge to the outdoor scenes.  I thought maybe it was just my copy of the DVD, but other people complained about this on the IMDB message board.  Second, the scenes in the club are so exciting and vibrant (and no, I don't just mean because there are half-naked men dancing around) that they make everything else seem dull in comparison.  And finally, the actress who plays Adam's sister (and it's not a small role) is possibly the worst actress I've ever seen in a major feature film.  Turns out she's the daughter of a Warner Brothers bigwig.  Gosh, what a coincidence, huh?  "But Daddy, I want an Oompa Loompa now!"  "But Daddy, I want to kiss Channing Tatum in a major motion picture NOW!"

3. Sin City*: Based on Frank Miller's graphic novels, this is a brutal, visually striking movie composed of three connecting stories:  a thug (Mickey Rourke) determined to avenge the death of a hooker who was nice to him, an ex-cop (Clive Owen) who gets involved with a group of territorial hookers, and a cop (Bruce Willis) who saves a young girl from a vicious rapist and has to come to her rescue again when she gets older.

4. Chernobyl Diaries: 25 years after the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl, a group of travelers takes an "extreme tour" to Pripyat, a nearby town whose residents fled after the disaster.  But things go crazy batshit, and it turns out the town isn't quite as abandoned as they'd been led to believe.  I thought this movie was going to be terrible, but I actually liked it; it's not remotely scary, but it had some very tense moments, and the music and creepy settings reminded me of Silent Hill.

5. 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.

6. 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. 

7. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey*: In this prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Bilbo Baggins sets out on a quest to help a group of dwarves reclaim their home.

As a dedicated ringaling, it pains me to say this, but I was kind of bored for the first half of this movie.  But then Bilbo meets the infamous Gollum (played once again by the incomparable Andy Serkis), and the movie got damn good from there.  Plus Ian McKellen will always be the coolest cat in the history of ever.

Side note #1:  We saw this in IMAX 3D, and although the 3D was worth the extra money, the IMAX format definitely wasn't.  Also, we saw the 24fps version (aka the "normal" version), not the much maligned 48fps version, so I can't give my opinion on that.  I heard the higher frame rate caused some people to get nauseated, so that was a big fat no for me, the woman who puked during Cloverfield.

Side note #2: We caught the 11PM showing, which meant that it ended after 2AM.  I blame this for going into the mens' bathroom afterwards, which I didn't even realize I'd done until I walked out of the stall and saw my friend C washing his hands.  Oops.

8. Ted*: When he was a kid, John Bennett made a wish that his teddy bear would come to life...and it did.  They've been inseparable ever since, which causes a rift between John and his girlfriend Lori.  As you'd expect from the creator of Family Guy, it gets pretty raunchy, and it's hysterical.  Bonus points for giving Flash Gordon the love it so richly deserves.  (Yes, I know it's cheesy as hell, but they used to play it on HBO about fifty times a day when I was a kid, so I bet I saw it at least ten times.  It was the SHIT!  And yes, I'm old.  Also: get off my lawn.)

9. Beasts of the Southern Wild:  In a shantytown located deep in the Louisiana bayou, a little girl named Hushpuppy lives with her father.  When he becomes ill and natural disasters strike, Hushpuppy sets out to find her mother.

I think my expectations were way too high for this movie, because I don't think I read a single bad review.  But it's still very well done, and as young Hushpuppy, Quvenzhane Wallis is astonishing.

10. Spun:  I was about to give up on this movie, but then Jason Schwartzman got sucked into a cartoon vagina and I was like, "Well, I kind of HAVE to see what happens now."

Anyway, it's a frenetically paced movie about a speed freak who goes on a bender.  Not as depressing as Trainspotting or Requiem for a Dream (what is?), but also not as good.  Some interesting visuals, though, and pretty much everybody in the world is in it (Ron Jeremy, Deborah Harry, Brittany Murphy, Mena Suvari, John Leguizamo, Rob Halford from Judas Priest, Mickey Rourke, Eric Roberts...), so even though I didn't like it enough to give it a star, I'm glad I stuck with it.

11. The Watch:  After a shocking murder at the Costco he manages, Evan (Ben Stiller) forms a neighborhood watch with three other men who are more interested in hanging out.  But when the investigation takes a surprising turn, they start to take it much more seriously.  It's pretty stupid, but it has some funny moments.

12. Premium Rush:  An NYC bike messenger (my perennial crush object Joseph Gordon-Levitt) tries to keep an important package out of the hands of a bad guy.  Michael Shannon is a bit too hammy as a cop who interferes with JoGoLe's mission, but (please pardon the pun) it's an entertaining ride.

13. Resident Evil: Retribution:  Let's just get this out of the way first: filmmakers, please either use a CGI rendition of Leon Kennedy (like the Japanese did with their two animated RE movies) or don't have him in your Resident Evil movies.  They got the floppy hair and the clothes right, but there is just not a human alive who can match the perfection of Leon motherfuckin' Kennedy.

Okay, so about this movie.  I won't bother going into a detailed recap because you either know already or just don't give two shits.  It's loud and stupid and the woman who plays Jill Valentine desperately needs some acting and shooting lessons, but it's enjoyable.



1. "Heartbreaker" by Pat Benatar

2. "We Live for Love" by Pat Benatar

3. "Shadows of the Night" by Pat Benatar

4. "All Fired Up" by Pat Benatar

5. "Hasa Diga Eebowai" from The Book of Mormon (original Broadway cast recording)

6. "Sal Tlay Ka Siti" from The Book of Mormon (original Broadway cast recording)

7. "I Believe" from The Book of Mormon (original Broadway cast recording)

8. "Man Up" from The Book of Mormon (original Broadway cast recording)


Juliet Starling is having the worst 18th birthday ever!  A zombie outbreak has taken over San Romero High, and her boyfriend Nick is a casualty.  But Juliet's got a secret:  she comes from a family of zombie slayers, and with a special magic spell, she reanimates Nick's head and attaches him to her belt.  Armed with her chainsaw, a supply of her favorite health replenishing lollipops, and kick-ass cheerleading moves, she sets out to take down as many zombies as she can and still get home in time for her birthday party.


  • This is one of the funniest games I've ever played.  It was created by Suda51 (certifiably wacko creator of No More Heroes, Shadows of the Damned, and Killer7) and written by James Gunn (director/writer of Slither, which you should immediately rent if you've never seen it and have a taste for gory comedy), so I knew it was going to be hysterical.  Two of my favorite lines (recited from memory so they might not be verbatim), both courtesy of Nick:  when Juliet walked through a cow pasture, he said, "Gross!  There's more shit here than a German porn film!"  And as Juliet modeled a new costume we'd purchased for her in Chop2Shop, he said "I really wish I had a penis right now."
  • A great soundtrack including such 80's gems as "Mickey" by Toni Basil, "Empire State Human" by Human League, and "You Spin Me Round" by Dead or Alive, as well as the classic oldie "Lollipop" by the Chordettes and some nice original music by Akira Yamaoka, the genius composer behind most of the Silent Hill games.
  • Kicking and slicing your way through zombies is a tried and true formula for fun.  Bonus: the hearts, sparkles, and rainbows that erupt from eviscerated zombies.
  • Some novel gameplay, such as an arcade where Juliet must make her way through games based on Elevator Action and Pac-Man.
  • Excellent voice acting.  Tara Strong (Harley Quinn from Batman: Arkham City and Twilight Sparkle from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic) provides the perfect voice for Juliet.


  • The graphics aren't as good as you might expect from a PS3 game, and the facial animations are weird and rubbery.
  • It's very short, so unless you plan on replaying to earn extra medals (used for purchasing new costumes, MP3s, skills upgrades, and concept art), it's a rental.
  • A strange and completely unintuitive interface. 
  • It gets pretty repetitive, both in gameplay and dialogue.  During one boss fight, I wanted to dropkick Nick's head through a window because he kept saying the same goddamn thing over and over.  Come on, developers, is it really that hard to put in a few extra lines of dialogue?
  • A minor quibble: Juliet Starling is a very pretty name, but boring by Suda51 standards.  He's famous for giving his characters unusual names (cf. Garcia Hotspur, Travis Touchdown, Mask de Smith, Letz Shake, Henry Cooldown), so I was hoping LC might have some good ones, but nope.

Zombie games are certainly nothing new, but Lollipop Chainsaw does add some fun elements to the mix.  If you've ever wanted to play a busty cheerleader who kicks ass but doesn't take names (she doesn't have time to take no fuckin' names!), here's the game for you.


Being a fan of the comics and the TV show, I was already pretty sure I'd like this game, but I didn't want to get my hopes up too high.  It turns out I didn't need to worry about being disappointed.

At the beginning of the game, protagonist Lee Everett is being taken to prison in the back of a cop car.  When the car hits a person, it skids off the road and crashes, causing Lee to lose consciousness.  When he wakes up, he realizes that the world has quite rapidly gone to shit, and that "person" the car hit was actually a zombie.  He manages to escape and make his way to an abandoned house, where he meets a little girl named Clementine, and together they set out to find her parents.


  • An intense, gripping storyline.  I'm glad we waited until it came out on disc as opposed to downloading the chapters as they were released; the cliffhangers would have killed us!
  • The relationship between Lee and Clementine is genuinely sweet.  The writers knew what they were doing with her; she's a normal kid with a mischievous streak, but she's also sweet without being cloyingly so.  You wind up caring immensely for her and doing whatever it takes to keep her safe.
  • The graphics are simple, but beautifully done.
  • You have to make some really tough choices in this game.  At one point, you have enough food for four people, but there are ten people in your group.  Who do you feed?  Do you feed the kids, or do you feed the adults because the kids would be screwed without them anyway?  Do you give food to the guy who's a total dick to you in hopes of warming him up, or do you give it to the woman who probably would be magnanimous about not getting fed, but is really nice to you?  In another sequence, you spot a screaming stranger who's already been bitten and is struggling to get away from a group of zombies.  Do you put her out of her misery, or do you let her die in agony so her screams will attract the walkers away from you? 
  • Only three video games have ever made me cry, and this is one of them.  (The other two were Silent Hill 2 and Heavy Rain.)  And not delicate little tears, either.


  • It's pretty short; the chapters are only about 2 or 3 hours in length.
  • There are a couple of glitches.  Most of them are pretty minor, like audio syncing, but one major glitch made it impossible for us to continue.  We had to restart from our last save, which fortunately didn't involve much backtracking, but it was still annoying.
  • This didn't affect us since we played it on the PS3, but just a word of warning: apparently the XBOX360 version is incredibly buggy.  And this isn't me being a PS3 fangirl, because I have no loyalty to one console over the other; check the Amazon reviews if you don't believe me.

In conclusion, if you like the Walking Dead universe, zombies, games that make you think fast, and/or having your heart broken, then pick this up at once.  It's the best game I played in 2012.