Friday, January 31, 2014

media update: January

And how was your January?Mine was pretty good for the most part.G and I went to Florida, where his parents were renting a condo, for Padre's 75th birthday.Since my dad and stepmother live about 15 minutes away from the rental condo, and they've become good friends with G's parents, they attended too.Overall it was a very nice visit, aside from a few tense travel moments that wound up fine and a brief argument with my dad, which is always a treat. ( And by "treat", I mean "dangerous spike in my blood pressure".)

No video game review this month, although G and I did play and finish one game that didn't merit a full review but does merit mention.It was called Project Diva F, and it was a rhythm game starring Hatsune Miku, the computer generated Japanese pop idol who, I shit you not, has actually sold out concerts in Japan.Take a look:

...she's a better lipsyncher than Britney Spears, at any rate.

This was my favorite song/video from the game, shown here without any of the gameplay.(After clearing a song, you could watch the video without all of the prompts, which was nice because some of the videos were really cool.)

Anyway, it was really fun, although I'd only recommend it to rhythm game fans or aficionados of bizarre Japanese cultural phenomenons.

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

1. Ace, King, Knave* by Maria McCann:Betsy-Ann Blore is a former prostitute who now makes her living by gambling and selling stolen goods.Sophia is a naive young woman who's just married the incredibly handsome and charming Ned Zedland, whose mysterious past will come to affect them all.

Maria McCann wrote my favorite book of all time, so when I saw that she had a new one out, I immediately went on Amazon's UK page and ordered it.(For some reason, her last two books have not been commercially released in the US.)I tried very hard not to let my passionate love for As Meat Loves Salt affect my perception of this book, but I failed, because I couldn't help but be a bit disappointed.But that's not fair to Ms. McCann, because although Ace, King, Knave took a while to hook me, I did wind up enjoying it quite a bit.

Side note #1:If you read this, I suggest immediately flipping to the back (try not to accidentally see the ending, of course!) and marking the glossary with a Post-It, because you will CONSTANTLY be referring to it; this book is filled with obscure 17th century slang.

Side note #2:Thanks to Amazon's discounts, even though this book was sent to me from England, it cost about the same as an average hardcover at Barnes & Noble.

2. Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow by Juliet Grey:The second in Grey's trilogy about Marie Antoinette.I have a soft spot for Marie Antoinette (probably thanks to the anime/manga series The Rose of Versailles) as well as historical fiction, so I liked it, even though the cheeseball cover made it embarrassing to read in public.I'll definitely pick up the final book because I need to know how it ends!

3. Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano:Morgan is a teenage girl who lives in a floating utopian city called Internment.But when another girl is murdered, Morgan begins to wonder how perfect her world is after all.

I was really looking forward to this because DeStefano wrote the Chemical Garden trilogy, which I loved, but Perfect Ruin was just okay.I'll probably finish the series, but I won't rush to grab the next installment as soon as it's released like I did with the Chemical Garden books.

4. Enders by Lissa Price:This is a direct sequel to Starters, so I can't properly review it due to potential spoilers.It was meh.

5. Independent Study by Joelle Charbonneau:Oh look, another YA dystopian third this month!It's a direct sequel to The Testing, so I can't properly review it due to potential spoilers.It was aight.NONFICTION

1. Autobiography* by Morrissey:I was a bullied and lonely teenage girl in the 80s, and The Smiths made me feel like someone out there understood me, even if it was an effeminate vegetarian singer from Manchester.So of course I had to pick up Morrissey's autobiography, and it didn't disappoint.I was particularly thrilled to see that he spent almost 2 full pages singing the praises of Sparks, the criminally underrated band that's one of my favorites of all time.(Refer to my blog title as proof.)I'm still not thrilled that Morrissey recently compared meat eaters to pedophiles, because seriously WTF dude, but I will always love the guy.I was lucky enough to see him in concert in San Jose, Halloween 1991, and it remains one of my most treasured memories.

2. Mastering the Art of French Eating by Ann Mah:The author's husband received a diplomatic assignment in Paris, but shortly after they moved there, he was reassigned to Iraq for a year.Quite understandably, she stayed behind in France, and she decided to devote her time to studying (and eating) French food.As you might imagine, it made me hungry as hell.There's a scene where she talks about salted caramel crepes, and I almost burst into tears from jealousy.MANGA/GRAPHIC NOVELS

1. Revival* by Tim Seeley and Mike Norton

2. Hack/Slash: My First Maniac by Tim Seeley and Daniel Leister

3. Fables: Snow White by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, and Shawn McManus

4. Priceless Honey by Shiuko Kano

5. Demon Love Spell vol. 5 by Mayu Shinjo

6. Kizuna vol. 1 (deluxe edition) by Kazuma Kodaka

7. Lies Are a Gentleman's Manners by Marta Matsuo

8. No Matter How I Look at It, It's You Guys' Fault I'm Not Popular!* vol. 2 by Nico Tanigawa

9. Otomen vol. 17 by Aya Kanno

10. Aria vol. 12 (final volume) by Natsumi AndoMOVIES

1. 2 Guns:Two dudes (Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg) try to infiltrate a drug cartel with disastrous results.I can't say much more due to spoilers, but it's a decent action comedy.

2. Dead Man Down:Victor (Colin Farrell) is contacted by his beautiful neighbor with a request: help her get revenge on the man responsible for scarring her face or she'll tell the police that she saw him commit a crime. Good performances and a decidedly Luc Besson feel, though he had nothing to do with this movie.

3. Thanks for Sharing:When Adam (the always delicious Mark Ruffalo) and Phoebe (Gwyneth Paltrow) meet at a party, their chemistry is instantaneous.But there's a catch: Adam is a recovering sex addict.It wasn't great or anything, and it drags in spots, but I liked it well enough.

4. Prisoners*:After his little girl and her friend disappear and the primary suspect is released by the police, Keller Dover takes matters into his own hands and kidnaps the man, intending to get the truth out of him.Very tense and well done, and Hugh Jackman is excellent as the anguished father.

Side note: I can't get over how much Hugh Jackman looks like Ethan Mars in the .The movie has some interesting similarities to Heavy Rain, so I guess that's appropriate.(This is not a huge spoiler for either the game or the movie.)

5. You're Next*:Erin joins her boyfriend for a weekend at his parents' estate for an anniversary celebration.But things turn ugly when a very unwelcome group of party crashers starts picking people off.A gruesome treat with the savviest "final girl" since the horror heyday of Jamie Lee Curtis.

6. Blue Jasmine:After her husband is jailed for fraud, formerly wealthy socialite Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) reluctantly moves in with her sister.But as she tries to rebuild her life, it keeps falling apart.A compelling character study, but it's depressing as hell.Blanchett is amazing, though, and the frontrunner for the Best Actress Oscar next month.

7. Insidious 2:I have no idea why I watched this, because I didn't like the original much.Jesus effing Christ was it awful.Even Patrick Wilson was terrible in it.Skip.ADDED TO MY IPOD

1. "Wuthering Heights" by Kate Bush

2. "Secret Police" by Hatsune Miku

3. "Weekender Girl" by Hatsune Miku

4. "Safe and Sound" by Capital Cities
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