Wednesday, April 30, 2014

media update: April

Well, I finally drank the Kool-Aid and got an iPhone.  My cell phone provider gave me a pretty good deal, and I figured I might as well because I'd had my Nokia flip phone forever.  (Yes, you read that right...a FLIP PHONE!  Every time I pulled that thing out people looked at me like I was about to crank up a gramophone and do the lindy hop.  I'm the exact opposite of an early adopter; I'm more like a "as long as it works I'll keep it until it breaks or I'm forced to switch" adopter.)

I was sorry to see my old phone go.  It managed to survive being grabbed and chewed on by a monkey (true story) and being dropped in a toilet.  But it was time to let it go, and I gave it a loving pat before sealing it up in an envelope and sending it off to Hopeline, an organization that refurbishes donated cell phones and gives them to domestic violence survivors and other people in crisis.  Farewell, my sweet little ancient Nokia, and thank you for your many years of faithful service.

By the way, my new phone is pretty goddamn cool except I am completely flummoxed by the thing.  I guess I'm too dumb to have a smart phone.  Fortunately, I have my own Genius Bar in the form of C,  who's been unbelievably patient with my many stupid questions.  I owe him a beer or twenty.

Oh, and FUCKING CANDY CRUSH.  I'd heard how addictive it was, but I had no goddamn idea.  It's like Heisenberg meth.  Whenever I get the notification that my lives have reupped, my pupils dilate like I'm in Requiem for a Dream.  I managed to clear level 70, widely believed to be the hardest one in the game, about twenty minutes ago and you'd think I just won the lottery.

In other news, lots and lots of stuff happening at work.  I can't discuss some of it because I'm paranoid, but on the plus side, one of my least favorite coworkers is retiring, and I'm over the goddamn moon about it.  My nickname for her is the Raccoon because I once came back from the bathroom and found her pawing through my trash.  (No idea why, unless she has a fetish for used Kleenex, which: ew.)  She also called me a bitch once when she thought I wasn't listening, so fuck her.  I'm insanely jealous that she gets to retire, but at least I don't have to look at her every day.

On the negative side, my work bestie is transferring out of state.  I've known her since I moved back here in 2001, and she's the only person here I'd consider a friend.  She also lives next door to me (literally!), so this is kind of a blow.  I'm going to miss her so much that I would actually accept the Raccoon staying here if it meant J could stay.  The Lord giveth etc etc.

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


1. Dark Triumph* by Robin LaFevers:  This is the sequel to Grave Mercy, so I can't review it properly lest I spoil something from the previous book.  I will say that I liked it even more than its predecessor because it's told from the point of view of Sybella, and I found her to be a more interesting and complex character than Ismae.  Plus there's lots more of the Beast (so called because of his appearance, not his personality), who I really like.

2. The Walking Dead: The Fall of the Governor Part 2 by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga:  Sequel, can't review properly, etc.; you know the drill by now.  It was meh.  Also, I swear to god the word "tendrils" was used every other page.

3. Mind of Winter by Laura Kasischke:  On Christmas morning, while her husband goes to the airport to pick up his parents, Holly is left alone with their beautiful teenage daughter Tatiana, who they adopted in Siberia when she was an infant.  When a blizzard strikes and her husband is delayed, Holly notices that Tatiana is acting irrationally, and she becomes convinced that something followed them home from Russia.  An interesting premise, but the writing can be a bit stilted and I didn't find the ending as amazing as some of the reviews claimed I would.

4. The Winner's Curse* by Marie Rutkoski:  Kestrel lives in an empire that wrenched power from the people it conquered.  As the daughter of one of the empire's most elite generals, she enjoys the finer things in life.  When she attends a slave auction, she is drawn to a young man named Arin and impulsively buys him for her household, but Arin isn't quite what he seems.  Yes, it's another YA novel, but I really enjoyed it.  I kept telling myself that I'd stop at the end of a chapter, and then I'd plow through another 50 pages.

5. Until You're Mine by Samantha Hayes:  After a series of miscarriages and stillbirths, Claudia is pregnant again and close to her due date.  Because her husband is away on a military mission and she has two young stepsons to look after, she hires a nanny named Zoe to help out.  But she doesn't trust Zoe, and when a series of vicious attacks on pregnant women rocks the community, she begins to wonder if Zoe is involved.  I would have enjoyed this book much more if the reviews hadn't spoiled the shit out of it.  If you have any interest in reading it, please skip the reviews and the blurbs on the back cover.


1. Kitty Genovese: The Murder, the Bystanders, the Crime That Changed America* by Kevin Cook:  In 1964, Kitty Genovese was stabbed to death as 38 neighbors watched from their windows and did nothing...except that wasn't entirely true, and what would have been a tragic but quickly forgotten story instead became a defining moment in American history.  The author does an excellent job of revealing the truth without diminishing the horror of what happened to Kitty.

2. Sous Chef by Michael Gibney:  An account of 24 hours in the kitchen of a popular restaurant.  It's told in second person, which I'm not generally a fan of, but it's pretty good.

3. My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag...and Other Things You Can't Ask Martha* by Jolie Kerr:  A highly entertaining guide to cleaning everything, ranging from the basic (best way of defrosting a freezer, how to fix an unusually stank bathroom) to the unusual (cleaning sex toys and bongs, getting jizz stains out of sheets).  This should be a mandatory housewarming gift.


1. Saga* vol. 3 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples:  This series is so freakin' good oh my god.  If you have any love in your heart for graphic novels at all, please check it out.

2. Library Wars vol. 11 by Kiiro Yumi

3. Attack on Titan: Junior High by Saki Nakagawa:  This is a bit of an odd duck.  It's a humorous take on the decidedly NON-humorous anime/manga series Attack on Titan, and it's actually pretty funny.

4. Beautiful Darkness* by Fabien Vehlmann and Kerascoet:  Man, this was fucked UP.  The art is deceptively pretty, and it starts out like a sweet fairy tale, and then things get horrifying.  There are images in this book that will stay with me for a long, long time. 

5. Nijigahara Holograph by Inio Asano

6. Attack on Titan: Before the Fall by Satoshi Shiki and Ryo Suzukaze


1. Dallas Buyers Club:  In 1985, ultramacho electrician/rodeo rider Ron Woodroof is horrified when he is diagnosed with AIDS, because he considers it to be strictly a "f----t disease".  His doctors tell him that he has only 30 days to live, but he hears about alternative treatments and heads to Mexico to stock up on non-FDA approved drugs.  He starts a club to help other patients get the drugs as well.

Both Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto (as Rayon, a fellow patient who helps Ron with the club) won Oscars for their roles, and although they deserved them, I think the movie overall was lacking a bit.  I can't even put my finger on why, although the fact that Ron comes across as a total asshole (though he does redeem himself a bit by the end) probably didn't help.  Then again, I loved the next movie on this list and the main character in that is far worse than Ron, so I just don't know.

2. The Wolf of Wall Street*:  Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio, very deserving of his Oscar nomination) started out as a stockbroker selling penny shares and became filthy rich.  He was living the good life until the FBI started taking notice of his schemes.  I'm about to pay this movie one of my highest compliments:  it's almost 3 hours long and I wasn't bored for a second.  Plus there's a scene involving a delayed reaction to quaaludes that's one of the funniest things I've seen in a long time.

3. August: Osage County:  After their father commits suicide, three sisters return home and struggle with their pill popping, incredibly manipulative mother (Meryl Streep).  I usually think Julia Roberts is overrated, but she was so good as the brittle Barbara that I think she should have won the best supporting actress Oscar instead of Lupita Nyong'o (who, don't get me wrong, was terrific). 

4. American Hustle:  A con man and his mistress (Christian Bale and Amy Adams) are forced to help the FBI take down corrupt politicians.  I was expecting this to be great, but although I enjoyed it, it was just good.  Terrific performances, though.

5. Homefront:  After serving as a DEA agent, Phil Broker (Jason Statham) moves with his young daughter to a small Louisiana town.  But after his daughter tangles with a bully whose parents are meth heads, Phil finds himself at war with the local drug lord.  The story is just whatever, but you cannot beat Jason Statham kicking ass and taking names.  Bonus points for Doting Daddy Statham and Kitten Cuddlin' Statham!

6. Nurse:  By day, Abby Russell is a devoted nurse; by night, she entraps cheating men and kills them.  But a coworker starts to suspect her, and Abby has to choose between her job and her mission.  Paz de la Huerta is AWFUL in the lead, and the movie as a whole is almost hypnotically bad, but I'll give it this: it ain't boring.  I watched it stone cold sober, but for optimal viewing pleasure, I recommend the liquor of your choice.  Also, mega LOLs at Katrina Bowden wearing panties in the shower.  If she didn't want to show her nekkid bottom half, why didn't the director just shoot her from the waist up instead of being all "oh yeah, just wear panties"?

7. Date and Switch:  Lifelong friends Michael and Matty are determined to lose their virginity before the prom.  But when Matty comes out of the closet, Michael is thrown for a loop.  It's not phenomenal or anything, but it has some genuinely funny lines and scenes.

8. The Counselor:  A lawyer (Michael Fassbender) gets involved in the drug trade, which leads to some unfortunate consequences.  This movie has an A-list cast, it was directed by Ridley Scott, and it was written by Cormac McCarthy, so you'd think it would be great, but it was confusing and unbelievably depressing.  But if you'd like to see Cameron Diaz humping a car, by all means check it out.