July 2010 Archives

Wise Gals

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It was my friend Joe who turned me on to The Lesbian Mafia podcast some years ago. He sent me an email demanding that I listen to episode 4, "PMS and Worst Psycho Lesbian Stories Revealed," devoted to personal tales of the worst lesbian ex-girlfriends ever.

Diane Keaton in the Godfather filmsI loved the podcast and the whole idea behind it, which revolved around the host, Sandi, calling her friends across the country and asking them their opinion on a topic or question. It felt like I was listening in on a lesbian party line. After digesting episode 4, I downloaded earlier Lesbian Mafia episodes to catch up and also subscribed to the feed.

I became familiar with the show's theme song, a spoof of Melissa Etheridge's "I'm the Only One" retitled "I'm a Lesbian." I also grew fond of the juvenile but immensely entertaining prank phone calls Sandi sometimes includes on the show. On one of my favorite prank calls, Sandi called a New York gym and pretended to be a member who was upset at being ogled by a lesbian in the dressing area. The gym's response, redolent with New York attitude, would fit well in a collection of "Best Customer Service Stories."

Sandi's New York Italian background provides a certain flavor to the podcast. Show after show, I am impressed by Sandi's ability to use the phrase "fuck your mother" in almost any sentence and have it sound completely natural. The podcast isn't called The Lesbian Mafia for nothing, after all. When deemed necessary, Sandi does not hesitate to issue threats and make demands.

For example, in the most recent episode (70), "What the Hell is Going On?," Sandi takes on the reluctance of some women to label themselves as lesbians. From there, Sandi goes on to discuss the movie The Kids Are Alright and the difference between lesbians and bisexuals, a conversation she continued with listeners on Twitter.

The Lesbian Mafia has found an audience not only among lesbians but among many non-lesbians as well. The show is funny, insightful, and very uncensored, so if you haven't heard it yet, try giving it a listen.

Special Delivery

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Based on a few positive words from Dorian over at (postmodernbarney), I decided to pick up several volumes of the Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, a Japanese manga title translated into English. The books revolve around a group of students at a Buddhist university who are having difficulty transferring their recently acquired knowledge into steady employment. The likeable Kuru Karatsu, who possesses an inexplicable ability to communicate with the deceased, is the leader of the group. Other members include a skilled embalmer and a shy young man with a sock puppet more or less permanently attached to his arm. The sock puppet claims to be channeling the voice and thoughts of a space alien.

Kuru Karatsu and friends

The group half-stumbles into a line of business tracking down and identifying dead bodies and relocating them to their final resting place. Kuru Karatsu is the key member of the group in this effort, as his task is to communicate with the corpses and find out what events lead up to death and where the body wants to be lain. There's not a lot of money to be made from this work because the group's "clients" are usually deceased, though the group does manage to come into some money sporadically. The downbeat nature of their work and their continuing economic dilemma are offset by the group's camaraderie, the charm of the characters themselves, and cleverly-written dialogue.

I was sometimes thrown off-balance by the mixture of horror content with an overall narrative tone that reminded me of children's fare. My mind frequently flashed back to memories of watching the original Scooby-Doo series while reading about the group's attempts to solve a new paranormal mystery. Although Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service is labeled for adults, it seems like there's plenty of horror-inspired material for children these days, from Harry Potter to the Series of Unfortunate Events books to the Twilight series. Some of the drawings are gory, but are kids really scared by reanimated corpses these days?

I don't have regular contact with children, so I don't have much perspective on how deeply horror has penetrated kids media. I was surprised to discover while watching an episode of FlashForward this year that children's play after 9/11 included acting out the planes' crashes and their aftermath. Considering how horrific events have come to be interwoven in our daily lives over the last decade, it makes sense that even children would become desensitized to their depiction. Horror is simply the new realism.

Horticultural Nerd Alert

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In a failed attempt to get The Cute Little Red-Headed Girlfriend interested in gaming, I purchased a copy of James Cameron's Avatar: The Game for XBOX 360.The Girlfriend had really liked the movie Avatar, so I thought perhaps the game could lure her into playing with me.

Before I laid down my cash, I went to look up the reviews of Avatar The Game at Metacritic. I found a mostly negative batch of professional reviews that called the game play mediocre. The customer reviews, however, were mostly positive. Players enjoyed moving through the world of Pandora enough that they didn't mind the repetitive game play. I decided to trust the players' opinions.

Encountering a flower as a Na' viOnce I started playing the game, my expectations were confirmed: the game play did suffer from bad camera angles but the landscape of Pandora was spectacular. As you progress through the game, different regions of the planet open to you, introducing new types of terrain, landscape features and plants. There's also a feature in the game called the Pandorapedia, an encyclopedia of knowledge concerning various aspects of the planet, including its flora and fauna.

According to an article called "Avatar's New Twist on Plants," I found online at Astrobiology Magazine, James Cameron consulted with a plant physiologist named Judy Holt to develop the scientific rationale behind the plant life on Pandora. Holt also gave scientific names to the plants and provided the descriptions that appear in the game's Pandorapedia.

I found reading the Pandorapedia on my television set difficult, due to the small font size that was used for the interface. Other gamers also mentioned the font size problem in their comments at Metacritic. But the Pandorapedia's content was quite interesting, and in the case of the plant life, the descriptions helped me determine how the plants could be used strategically during combat or in other situations. Several game missions revolve around interaction with plants, requiring the player to identify, sample or gather various specimens.

I enjoyed playing as a Na' vi warrior, ducking through bioluminescent landscapes and bounding around at treetop level within a maze of branches. Although the game rewards you for uncovering new terrain, spending a moment or two gazing quietly at the dramatic vistas found tucked away within each region is rewarding in a different way.

I'm Back in the Latest Ready-to-Wear

If you come to this blog to read my entries rather than follow my RSS feed, you may notice that In Sequence looks different than it used to. Some time ago the blogging system I was using, Movable Type 3.*, demonstrated a glitchiness that prompted me to upgrade to the latest version. The upgrade path turned out to be much more complicated than I would have liked. My blog is now wearing an off-the-rack Movable Type 5 template style, mostly because it's too much of a pain to change it to something different. Still, I've finally got things working again, and more frequent blogging should commence shortly.

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