Tuesday, April 30, 2013

media update: April

So what's the haps?  April was a pretty uneventful month for me overall, although I did have two encounters that touched my geek heart.

First off, XBOX Live was offering free gold membership for a weekend, so G and I went online in hopes that we could find somebody to play the co-op sections of Dead Space 3 with us.  We immediately found a dude who wanted to team up so he could unlock some achievements, and he let us play as Carver.  It was my first time playing with a total stranger, and it went about as smoothly as I could have hoped:  no comments like "LOL pwned you [insert homophobic slur here]", no standing idly by as a necromorph ripped us apart, generous sharing of his inventory.  The Carver-only parts were creepy and cool, but if you can't or don't want to go online to play them, you're not missing much.  Still, I'm glad we got to do it; thanks to our partner (whose gamer tag I'm forgetting, but it had 420 in it, which probably explains his mellow nature) for making the loss of my XBOX Live virginity so pleasant and painless. 


And on Saturday, G and I went to Red Robin for dinner, and I was wearing my Teddie (from Persona 4) shirt.  When we stood up to leave, the kid in the booth behind G, who was probably 14 or 15, leaped up and joyfully said, "Oh my god, oh my god!  Every day's great at your Junes!", which is a quote from the game.  Then he gave me a fist bump.  It was truly bizarre but also really awesome, and I'm glad G got to see it because I doubt he would have believed me otherwise!

Anyway, on to the media update!  Asterisks denote something I particularly enjoyed or found especially worthy of my time; your mileage may vary.


1. You Know What You Have to Do by Bonnie Shimko:  One of the blurbs on Amazon said this book was "Judy Blume meets Dexter", so it went on my Kindle pronto.  Maggie is a teenage girl who hears a voice in her head that tells her to kill people.  At first her victims are people who deserve it, like her friend's abusive father, but then the voice gets less picky and she struggles to ignore it.  The writing was very simplistic, and it didn't live up to that promising blurb.

2. Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight:  Kate is devastated when her teenage daughter Amelia jumps to her death from the roof of her private school.  But when Kate receives an anonymous text telling her that Amelia didn't jump, she begins digging deeper and opens up a particularly ugly can of worms...some of which belong to her.  It didn't resolve as well as I would have liked, but it was decent.

3. Sad Desk Salad by Jessica Grose:  Alex works as a blogger for Chick Habit, a snarky website aimed at women that's very obviously based on Jezebel, where the author used to work.  She gets a huge scoop when an incriminating video of a conservative author's daughter arrives in her inbox.  Alex is morally conflicted about posting the video, especially since an anti-Chick Habit website has threatened to expose some of HER dirty little secrets if she does.  Decidedly meh.


1. Where the Peacocks Sing by Alison Singh Gee:  The author was living a glamorous life in Hong Kong when she met and fell in love with a fellow journalist named Ajay.  She got excited when she found out that Ajay's family owned a palace in India, but it turned out to be much different than she expected.  It's an interesting look at culture shock, but I really didn't like the author at all.  She redeems herself somewhat by the end of the book, but I still thought she came across as spoiled and unsympathetic.  I'm sure she's very nice in real life; in print, not so much.

2. The Still Point of the Turning World by Emily Rapp:  The author's world was turned upside down when her son Ronan was diagnosed with Tay-Sachs disease, which causes rapid degeneration and is always fatal, usually before the child turns 3.  There are some really profound meditations on grief in this book, but as you can imagine, it's almost unbearably sad.

3. Gulp* by Mary Roach:  The queen of weird science turns her attention to the alimentary canal, covering everything from fecal transplants to the bouillon enema Lenten loophole.  (Oh, I ain't spoiling that for you.)  Roach is by far my favorite nonfiction writer, and she serves up another awesomely icky, hysterically funny, and informative tome.

Side note: Chip Kidd is my favorite book cover designer (after G, of course), but I really hate the one he did for this book.  It looks like a deep throat manual!

4. Go Big or Go Home* by Kat Von D:  The tattoo artist muses about life, love, and art.  The essays, though interesting, aren't what made me give this book a star; it was the gorgeous photographs of her work throughout.  Say what you will about her personal life, but her talent is undeniable.  I would love to get this tattoo from her:


It would be like a secret nerd handshake!  Anybody who recognized it would instantly be my friend.

I wouldn't want the solid black background, just the burned edges, which would look absolutely awesome.  But it would probably cost a fortune and hurt like hell, plus I'm not planning on getting any more tattoos.

5. Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris:  A collection of humorous essays, my favorite of which was "Memory Laps", about a classmate Sedaris' father kept raving over.


1. 7 Miles A Second by David Wojnarowicz, James Romberger, and Marguerite Van Cook

2. Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Search* by Gene Luen Yang and Gurihiru

3. Rin-Ne vol. 11 by Rumiko Takahashi

4. Library Wars vol. 9 by Kiiro Yumi

5. Girl Friends* vol. 2 (final volume) by Milk Morinaga

6. Castle Mango* by Muku Ogura and Narise Konohara

7. Batwoman: To Drown the World by J.H. Williams III, W. Haden Blackman, and Amy Reeder

8. Arisa vol. 10 by Natsumi Ando

9. The New Deadwardians by Dan Abnett and I.N.J. Culbard

10. The Executor by Jon Evans and Andrea Mutti


1. John Dies at the End*:  This is one of those movies that's damn near impossible to describe.  Basically, there's a new street drug called Soy Sauce that has some very strange side effects, but there's a whole lot more to it than that.  I've seen some really weird movies in my time, and trust me, this is one of the weirdest.  Destined to become a cult classic.

2. Red Dawn:  In this remake of the 1984 movie that I probably saw about a hundred times on HBO, North Korea (Russians in the original) invades the US, and a group of teenagers decides to take down the enemy and reclaim their home.  Loud and jingoistic, but it has a few decent moments.

3. The Master:  After serving in WWII, Freddie (Joaquin Phoenix) is a drunken, lecherous, angry mess.  He meets Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman), the leader of a new religion, and begins to think there may be hope for him after all.  Depressing and pretentious.

Side note:  On the IMDB message boards, somebody said "If you didn't like this movie the first time, please watch it again and you might change your mind" and G and I were all LOL no.  It's like somebody saying "Oh, you didn't like that nail-studded dog turd you just ate?  Try another one, maybe you'll like it this time!"  But at least a nail-studded dog turd wouldn't take 2 hours and 17 minutes to eat.

4. Bully:  A documentary about bullying in American schools that will pretty much rip your heart out and make you angry as hell.  I couldn't believe the moronic assistant principal whose reaction to a concerned parent was "Oh, it would break my heart if my beautiful grandbaby was bullied!  Look at my beautiful grandbaby!" and then showed them a picture.  Yes, that will comfort the mother who came to you about her son being CHOKED on a school bus, you clueless fucking twat.  That, plus a couple of other scenes showing her complete ineptitude, make me hope to god she got fired after this came out.

5. Django Unchained*:  In Quentin Tarantino's spaghetti western (heavy on the sauce), Django is a freed slave desperately searching for his wife.  He's joined on his journey by a bounty hunter (the always excellent Christoph Waltz, who won his second Oscar for the role).  Lots of fun, and there's a scene with a racist posse bitching about their hoods that had me on the ground. 

6. Les Miserables:  Based on the Broadway smash, this retelling of Victor Hugo's classic follows Jean Valjean during the French Revolution as he tries to escape a policeman who has a vendetta against him.  It was waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too long, but it was decent enough, and Anne Hathaway absolutely kills "I Dreamed a Dream".

Oh, one thing that bugged me:


When Marius fell in love with Cosette after seeing her for all of five seconds.  Dude, you've got Eponine all aching to get up on that ginger dick, and she's been your BFF forever AND she looks way androgynous hot in her revolutionary garb.  Forget that bland blondie and look to your right!


7. The Impossible*:  Maria and Henry (Oscar nominee Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor) are vacationing in Thailand with their three sons when a tsunami hits.  Maria and her oldest son Lucas are separated from the others, and they desperately try to find the rest of their family.  Based on a true story, this movie is extremely difficult to watch at times, but the performances are well worth it.  Be warned, though, you will need Kleenex and lots of it.  The Impossible is about 120 minutes long and, no exaggeration, I cried for about 90 of them.

8. Iron Man: Rise of the Technovore:  After his friend Rhodie (aka War Machine) is badly injured, Tony Stark tries to track down the creepy dude who hurt him.  Gorgeous animation by Madhouse, but the story is just meh.

9. This Is 40*:  Pete and Debbie (Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann) try to deal with turning 40, which coincides with family drama and money issues.  By turns hysterically funny and painfully realistic, and it gets bonus points for the well earned dig at Lost's ending.


(Note:  we also played the DLC chapter, which I can't name due to a spoiler in the title.  It wasn't bad, but we didn't think it was worth the extra seven bucks.) 

When concept art for DmC: Devil May Cry was released last year, people went absolutely batshit...and not in a good way.  The Dante that we know and love from the first four games is a silver haired fox with cool style and snarky quips; the new Dante looked like a dour little emo bitch.  Personally I didn't see any reason to reboot the series, but it's more of a prequel than a reboot, and it's awesome. 

At the beginning of the game, Dante is recovering from a hard night of drinking and sexy times.  Then he gets a knock on his trailer door, and when he answers, this happens (start at 1:07):

So why's that monster all up in Dante's grill?  Well, Dante is nephilim, which means he's the son of a demon and an angel and has incredible power.  Kat, the young woman in the clip above, is a psychic who works with his brother Vergil in hopes of bringing down the demon lord Mundus.  At first Dante is like LOL whatever, but when he finds out that Mundus murdered his mother, Dante decides to help.


  • Dante is pretty fucking cool.  He starts off as a total smirky douche, but although he retains his smartass nature throughout the game, he does develop as a character.
  • I'm not a huge DMC fangirl; I did play and enjoy the first game in the series, but never tried the others.  G, however, has played all of them, and he said this is his second favorite.  (DMC3 takes top honors.)  I think the purists who dismissed this game without even playing a minute of it really need to get over their preconceptions and give it a whirl.  They might be pleasantly surprised.
  • Insane action.  After finishing the game, my wrists hurt for two days!
  • Super tight and responsive controls.
  • Unique level designs and one of the most bizarre bosses I've seen since D2's vagina supercomputer.
  • Excellent soundtrack ranging from Akira Yamaoka-esque moody tunes to hard driving metal.
  • There's a fair bit of platforming in this game, and it's pretty cool.  I especially liked swinging through the air using my angel or devil hook.
  • I appreciated the fact that they didn't totally sexualize Kat, the main female character.  Sure, she's showing a little cleavage and wearing shorts, but as evidenced by the clip above, you see WAY more of Dante.  Plus Kat's clothes aren't over the top and she's not just eye candy.  She proves to be an extremely valuable ally, and her motivation for taking up Dante and Vergil's cause is very interesting.
  • Overall, the voice acting is pretty good.  It's not Red Dead Redemption or anything, but I don't remember anything truly awful.
  • Refer back to the comment I made about my wrists hurting for two days.  I don't play a lot of hack and slash games, so that's probably the issue, but ow!  (There is an easy difficulty, but we played on normal.)
  • Occasionally you'd get into a clusterfuck of a fight on a very small platform, and if an enemy knocked you off, it meant restarting the fight, which was annoying.  (Though to be fair, it didn't count as a death in your end chapter stats and it only knocked a bit of your health bar off.)
  • The facial animations aren't always the greatest.
  • A few glitches, including one during a boss fight where the boss slumped over and I proceeded to furiously hack away.  Then G noticed that its health bar wasn't going down and it wasn't reacting to my attacks, so I had to jump off the platform and die in order to restart the fight, which was frustrating.
This is not a game for prudes (the dirty mouth on that luscious boy!) or people with carpal tunnel syndrome.  But if you're willing to overlook a few flaws for the chance to beat the ever lovin' crap out of hundreds upon hundreds of demons and monsters, DmC will more than satisfy your bloodlust.


1. "Summer Kisses, Winter Tears" by Julee Cruise

2. "The Adversary" by Crime & the City Solution

3. "Fretless" by R.E.M.

4. "Days" by Elvis Costello

5. "Death's Door" by Depeche Mode

6. "Calling All Angels" by Jane Siberry and k.d. lang

7. "Until the End of the World" by U2

8. "Lilith's Club" by Noisia

9. "Off to the Races" by Lana Del Rey

10. "Blue Jeans" by Lana Del Rey

11. "Diet Mountain Dew" by Lana Del Rey

12. "Dark Paradise" by Lana Del Rey

13. "Million Dollar Man" by Lana Del Rey

14. "Summertime Sadness" by Lana Del Rey

15. "This Is What Makes Us Girls" by Lana Del Rey

16. "Without You" by Lana Del Rey

17. "Lucky Ones" by Lana Del Rey

18. "Blue Velvet" by Lana Del Rey

19. Twin Peaks soundtrack

20. "Hataraki Man" by Puffy

21. "Never Surrender" by Combichrist