Tuesday, September 30, 2014

media update: September

And how was your September?  For the most part, mine was uneventful, but holy god was there some irritating shit at work.  (Feel free to skip the next couple of paragraphs if you know me in real life/follow me on Twitter, 'cause you've heard all this before.)  They asked for vacation requests for October through December, and because so many people have retired or quit recently, they can only allow 1.5 people off on any given day.  Well, as you can imagine, with 15 people in our department, that made scheduling an effin' nightmare.  Nine people wanted the week of Christmas off alone!  Our new bosses, who are actually really cool but have limited power as far as that kind of shit goes (it was a corporate decision), said they'd round it up to 2 people a day and take the fallout should any come from up high.  So they put us all in a conference room for a Vacation Hunger Games to let us all duke it out.  I managed to score December 26th-January 2nd off, so I emailed G-Vo to let him know.

But wait!  A challenger appears!  My coworker Durr (so nicknamed because she is exceptionally stupid) got butthurt because Bossy (not to be confused with either of my bosses; this is a C-word with whom I have beef going back, I shit you not, 13 years) got the weeks of Thanksgiving and Christmas off, which granted wasn't fair.  This led to our bosses taking back the time that had already been granted and having yet ANOTHER meeting.  It was like when Katniss wins and the Capitol is all "LOL bitch back in the arena with you."  Thanks to this new meeting, I wound up losing the week of Christmas, which means I won't get to spend it with my dad and brother.  (G-Vo's parents are renting a house in the city where my dad and stepmother live, and obviously they don't celebrate Christmas, so I was going to spend that day and a couple of others with my blood family.)  Not only that, but my brother is leaving on the same day we arrive, so I probably won't get to see him at all!  If I hadn't gotten the time off to begin with, I wouldn't have been so upset, but since I had already told everyone that I'd gotten it, I had to go back and say "Uh, sorry, they fucked me after all."  And then fucking Durr, who felt the need to jump down my throat during the meeting and say "But you aren't even religious!" (which a) I don't even know how she knows that, since I don't go around telling people I'm an atheist and b) is fucking irrelevant, which to her credit Boss #1 immediately stepped in and said...well, without the "fucking"), sent me the most condescending email after the meeting saying "Tell your family you'll see them next year under the Christmas tree!", followed by clip art of a giant smiley face wearing a party hat.  Tell YOUR family they'll see YOU in a fucking body bag if you ever fuck me with no lube again and then try to make me feel better about it, you flaming whore.

Enough of that; my blood pressure is going up just thinking about it.

Anyway, it's technically fall but it sure doesn't feel like it here in SoCal, which is why I read so much this month.  I can't wait until it cools down so I can wear my cute new boots and go on long walks with G-Vo while crunching through leaves and drink chai lattes and wrap myself in the blanket Madre made for me while dozing on the couch.  Plus, as much as I love sitting in the break room (assuming no loud assholes are in there) and reading, the scorching weather meant that I wasn't walking 3 miles a day, which made my energy level plummet and the day seem twice as long.

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


1. Never Fade* by Alexandra Bracken:  This is the second book in the Darkest Minds trilogy, so I can't review it properly for fear of spoiling its predecessor.  It didn't grab me quite as hard as the first book did, but it's still very good, and I'm looking forward to reading the finale when it's released next month.

2. The Secret Place* by Tana French:  At an elite girls' boarding school, someone pins a postcard onto a bulletin board that says "I know who killed him" and shows a teenage boy who had been murdered on the grounds the year before.  Detectives Moran and Conway investigate, and they open an ugly can of worms in the process.  I mainlined all of French's books a couple of years ago, and I was sad when there weren't any more to be read, so I was anxious to get my hands on this, and I wasn't disappointed.  Few people can end a book as well as French does.

3. Dear Daughter* by Elizabeth Little:  Janie Jenkins was a socialite whose world came crashing down when she was convicted of murdering her rich mother.  After spending 10 years in prison, she's released on a technicality, and she begins her search for the real killer.  A very clever mystery with some seriously funny lines.  (One of my favorite passages: "The denim of his jeans was rougher than I'd expected.  Probably a cowboy sort of thing...protection against tumbleweeds and accusations of metrosexuality.")

4. The Young World by Chris Weitz:  A mysterious disease kills everybody but teenagers, who are left behind to forge a new civilization.  Unfortunately, they aren't doing a particularly good job of it, so a group of friends sets out to find a research center that may hold the key to a cure.  It's chock full of cliches, and the author tried way too hard to make one of the POV characters sound like a "typical" teen.  I won't go out of my way to read the next one when it's published (because of course it's the first book in a trilogy), but might pick it up during a dry spell.

5. Amity by Micol Ostow:  Gwen and her family move into a house that was the site of a tragedy ten years earlier.  But it's not just any house; it's Amity, and it's not done causing trouble.  Not essential, but decently creepy.

6. Broken Monsters* by Lauren Beukes:  Now this is essential AND creepy.  When the corpse of a young boy is found with his upper half fused to the bottom half of a deer, Detective Gabriella Versado hopes that it's just a one time thing.  But then more bizarre creations are discovered, and it becomes apparent that a serial killer has made Detroit his hunting ground.  A beautifully written and surreal thriller; it's my favorite novel of the year so far.

7. Safe with Me by Amy Hatvany:  After her daughter is killed by a car, Hannah makes the difficult decision to donate Emily's organs.  By coincidence, one year later Hannah meets Maddie, the teenage girl who received Emily's liver, and Maddie's mother Olivia, who's stuck in an abusive marriage.  Very predictable, and a bit too Lifetime Movie of the Week for my tastes.

8. Love Me Back by Merritt Tierce:  Marie is a young single mother who works in a succession of restaurants and tries to numb her pain with drugs, self-harm, and indiscriminate sexual encounters.  Well written, but depressing as hell, and the ending is pretty abrupt.


1. Bad Feminist* by Roxane Gay:  Excellent essays from a feminist perspective that cover everything from the problematic lyrics of "Blurred Lines" to the women on Twitter who said they'd let Chris Brown beat them whenever he wanted.  Warning: in the essay titled "Not Here to Make Friends", she spoils the shit out of Gone Girl, so skip that one if you haven't read GG and/or plan to see the movie and have magically remained unspoiled up to this point.


1. Library Wars vol. 12 by Kiiro Yumi 

2. Attack on Titan: Before the Fall vol. 2 by Satoshi Shiki and Ryo Suzukaze

3. Midnight Secretary vol. 7 (final volume) by Tomu Ohmi

4. Sisters by Raina Telgemeier


1. Transcendence:  After Dr. Will Caster is killed by anti-tech terrorists, his desperate wife uploads his consciousness into a supercomputer; complications ensue.  It has some interesting ideas, but I found myself zoning out rather frequently.

2. Lego Batman: The Movie:  When the Joker teams up with Lex Luthor, Batman and the Justice League must find a way to stop them.  We weren't expecting much, but were pleasantly surprised.

3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier*:  When S.H.I.E.L.D. is compromised, Captain America and the Black Widow have to get to the bottom of it.  But things get even more complicated with the appearance of the mysterious Winter Soldier.  Thanks to lots of terrific action and some snappy lines, it's the very definition of a fun popcorn movie.  Plenty of eye candy, too.

4. Need for Speed:  A subpar Fast and Furious ripoff that features lots of gorgeous car porn, but not much else to recommend it.  Plus, and I know this is going to make me sound like a crotchety old fuck, but by the end I was rooting for the cops.  I don't give a shit if you endanger your own life and limbs; I DO give a shit if you endanger the lives and limbs of others.

5. Palo Alto:  Based on a book of short stories by James Franco (who also stars as a sleazy soccer coach), this movie follows a group of disenchanted teenagers growing up in the titular town.  It has a dreamlike feel, and Emma Roberts (who usually bugs the shit out of me) is pretty good in it, but it's very slow and has a "wait, that's it?" kind of ending.

6. DCU Batman: Assault on Arkham:  When the Riddler steals a flash drive filled with vital information, the government assembles the Suicide Squad to break into Arkham Asylum and get it back.  Needless to say, Batman ain't happy.  Much darker than these direct-to-video superhero flicks tend to be.  I enjoyed it, and G-Vo said he got a massive nerd boner because it tied in to his beloved Batman Arkham games.

7. Oculus*:  Ten years after the brutal deaths of their parents, Kaylie and Tim try to prove that an evil mirror was responsible.  Yes, it sounds goofy, but it was better than anticipated thanks to some clever touches, and the actors who play Kaylie and Tim as kids were surprisingly good. 

8. Godzilla:  How the hell did they manage to make a movie about Godzilla and barely even have him in it?!?  Not only that, but they kept setting up scenes that promised to be awesome, like Godzilla about to battle a Muto (another mutated creature) and then cut away to, like, soldiers trudging through the city...and then they'd never go back to the freakin' fight!  It has some nice disaster porn, but man, they made some weird decisions.

9. Enemy:  While watching a movie, a professor (Jake Gyllenhaal) notices an actor in the background who looks exactly like him, and he becomes obsessed with tracking him down.  Confusing as hell, and it has the biggest WTF ending I think I've ever seen.  I understood it a little better after reading theories online, but I still wouldn't recommend it unless you like movies that are destined to be shown in film studies classes and everyone sits around afterwards and pretends that they got it when they totally didn't.