Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Layoff Dirge

Bullshit, that travels 'round
Business too lame for song;
Hopeful dreams, quickly drowned
No cubicle to belong;
To the worker, a rejection,
Severance, a poor compensation,
This unwelcome vacation--
Wail, or play along?

*Adapted from "A Dirge" by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Game Review: Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation (PS Vita)


Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation (ACIII:L) is the PS Vita entry in the popular Assassin’s Creed series. Players control Aveline, Tyra Banks lookalike and daughter of a successful businessman and his placeé (informal wife). Aveline joins the Assassin Brotherhood after her mother vanishes, and her would-be mentor, Agaté, saves her at the docks of New Orleans. She works with Gerald Blanc, an information officer for the Brotherhood, and with the blessing of her loving father.

ACIII:L feeds into the mythology of the other games in the series, although it usually plays more like a standalone game. That is, until the screen flashes and a distorted voice informs players that “the truth is out there,” and that there’s a “Citizen E” who must be slain to find out what really happened. As I understand, players experience Aveline’s life through an interface that has been tampered with by the Templars. The Knight Templars are the Assassin Brotherhood’s ancient archenemies, with each group constantly trying to outmaneuver the other throughout the centuries.

As Aveline goes on missions and tries to solve the mystery of her mother’s disappearance, players explore 18th century New Orleans, the nearby bayou, Chichen Itza (Mexico), and New York. The locations are beautifully rendered and fun to navigate. Players can climb to the highest points in those places and synchronize, a.k.a. have a dramatic 360-degree sweep of the entire area as a soprano "aaaahs" triumphantly in the background. On the streets, the NPCs (non-playable characters) react believably when Aveline plows into them or shoves them aside, and make a ruckus when she assassinates in broad daylight. They reinforce the game’s theme of stealth and finding creative solutions to, let’s face it, killing people. Mostly Templars, though.

The gameplay is great fun. Like all Assassins, and like Tomb Raider’s Lara Croft and Uncharteds Nathan Drake, Aveline has the upper and lower body strength of a goddess, or possibly a mountain goat. She can land safely from great heights, hop from rooftop to rooftop, clamber up slender branches, and swiftly kill targets. The character is practically invincible and has great finishing moves. However, this is mitigated by the fact that Aveline must don different personas to complete missions. The Slave persona has all the running and leaping skills of the Assassin, and she can incite riots and blend in with other slaves, too. Meanwhile, the Lady persona can’t climb to save her life, but she can charm guards and gentlemen, and she later gets a parasol with a hidden mechanism to launch poison darts at unsuspecting witnesses.

Each persona has a notoriety level that affects how quickly guards become suspicious of Aveline. Players can lower each persona’s notoriety in different ways: bribe magistrates (Assassin), kill witnesses (Lady), and tear down posters (Slave). This diverts precious time from rooftop-hopping and life-depriving, so it’s best to just keep everything on the down low when sabotaging Templar plots.

There’s also a delightful feature where Aveline can expand her father’s business by purchasing ships and then buying and selling goods for profit. Harbors open up as players get deeper into the game, making more products and ship types available. However, there’s always the danger of storms, or worse, pirates. I once lost twenty thousand bucks worth of merchandise to those scalawags! Anyway, Aveline can then use her legit cash to reopen tailoring and weapon shops, develop parlors where she can switch personas, buy weapons and supplies, or bling it up with the blingiest gear for all her personas. A woman must accessorize.

So the gameplay is engaging – except for the bugs. Dear Lord, the bugs. Here are several that had me grinding my teeth:

  • To read secret letters, players are instructed to hold the rear camera up to a light source. It’s actually the front camera, and you don’t even need a light source – just hold the Vita a certain way and tilt it this way and that, and the "assassin lens" works.
  • The mini-map points to treasure at locations where there is no treasure. The icons show up in two places in the west and northwest of New Orleans, and in the west of the bayou. I checked. Nothing. What a tease.
  • The crocodile graphics are buggy – one time, Aveline fought a croc, and she was grappling like she was on top of it, and it was struggling like she was on top of it…but it was three feet away. Another time, the croc randomly floated in the air as we fought. Eek?
  • The two puzzles in the Chichen Itza underground sites were frustrating. In one, you had to tilt the Vita to get a ball into a hole. The Vita was not very responsive to the tilting, and it takes a few tries to get the hang of it. Another puzzle involved moving panels to redirect a beam of light. Except I could barely see the light or the panels. Luckily, I completed that puzzle in two moves by randomly tapping at the screen. I am not kidding.
  • Sometimes, the controls are either too sensitive or unresponsive. It gets difficult to stop Aveline from climbing walls when you just want her to lean against it and peer around the corner. Also, when she’s in Slave persona and blends in with street sweepers, it’s hard to stop sweeping! Hel-lo, I’m trying to tail and eventually kill a person here! Public works can wait!

My other complaint is the non-intuitive method for commanding your ships to sail. I had to figure it out via game forums. But once I knew... buy! Buy! Buy! Sell! Sell! Sell!

Apart from those quibbles, Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation is a fun game with a linear plot and cute French- and Spanish-accented voice acting. The gameplay is interesting, the characters exchange plenty of snappy banter and flirty dialogue, and there are extras to divert players from central missions: sidequests like healing sick patients in the bayou and pickpocketing voodoo dolls; optional costumes, gear, and even jewelry; and a fairly low-risk shipping enterprise for aspiring 18th century merchants. It’s a light yet satisfying snack of an action-adventure game. Recommended.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Movie Review: Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2

Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2 is AWFUL. The "plot" barely existed, the "dialogue" and "acting" consisted entirely of meaningful glances shared between cast members, and the music was almost as overblown as Michael Sheen's scenery-chewing. Yet this wreck of a film made $829,224,737 worldwide. Yes, over eight hundred MILLION dollars. Inconceivable!

The story, such as it is, goes like this: blank slate with hair Bella Swan finally becomes a vampire after her vampire husband Edward injects her with his venom to save her life after he extracted their half-vampire baby from her body via C-section using his teeth. You'd think that they would cherish the little monster, what with all the agony they went through to bring her into the world. No. Instead they go hunting all day, then go into their new home and make the beast with two backs all night. Ah, the carefree life of teenage parents!

Then some blonde with a grudge catches sight of the freakish CGI child, who grows by the day. Blonde reports to the Volturi, the vampire Mafia / Catholic Church allegory. Apparently, the Volturi don't like "immortal children," and would love an excuse to destroy the Cullen coven anyway, so Bella and Edward gather witnesses all over the world to prove that their child is half-human. Then they have a climatic showdown with the ominously caped Volturi. Who will prevail?

Oh, and Taylor Lautner took his shirt off. "OH, COME ON!" Fiancé bellowed, drowning out the sound of my labia clapping.

Fiancé and I saw Breaking Dawn Part 2 with RiffTrax, an audio file that syncs to the movie. Having RiffTrax point out the awfulness of the movie is the only way to watch the final Twilight movie without clawing out your eyeballs to make it stop. The track made us howl with laughter at their repeated questions of, "Don't they have a child?"; their relentless faux fop accents for the Volturi; cries of "Raccoon Power!"; pointed comments about werewolf pedophilia; and more!

Bottom line: watch Twilight Breaking Dawn Part 2 if you have RiffTrax! If you don't have RiffTrax and you're not a fan, or if you're open-minded but have standards, avoid at all costs.

This movie review brought to you by a banana with peanut butter: the perfect mid-morning snack!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Adventures in Brideland, Part II

Welcome back to the exciting, once-in-a-lifetime series, Adventures in Brideland! Here's Part I if you need a refresher. This latest installment discusses the finer details of wedding planning. I challenge you to count the puns in this post. Begin!

On Friday, I took the day off from shamelessly job hunting at work so Fiancé and I could drive down to beautiful Cape Cod. Our agenda: meet with the florist and the venue coordinator.

This would be our second face-to-face with the florist. At our initial meeting, we looked through magazines and wedding photos and I pointed out which flowers I liked. Then we talked on the phone, and she instructed me to Pinterest flower arrangements so we could finalize the details at our next meeting. I didn't want to create yet another online account, so I prepared a folder with magazine clippings and printouts of bouquets and arrangements that looked nice.

Naturally, I remembered about the folder as we sped down the highway.

"Can we go back?" I pleaded.

"It would take forty-five minutes," Fiancé replied, gripping the steering wheel tightly. "We would be way behind schedule."

Fortunately, I love the Cloud and I tell it all my secrets. I had saved several pictures on Google Drive. We used my phone to show our florist the flowers that I thought looked good, and I promised to mail her the hard copies when I got back home. She was very gracious about it. She talked about or showed us samples of what we would be getting on the day, based on what we told her at the initial meeting. She had it planned out: the bouquets, the boutonnières, the decorations, the centerpieces. Sweet. The whole thing took twenty minutes. I paid another percentage of the bill (the first installment, to reserve the florist, was 20%), and swore on my life that I would pay the rest upon delivery.

Then we pranced to the venue for our next appointment... and found it deserted, because we arrived too early. We wandered around and took in the exquisitely blue sky and bloody freezing winds. Eventually, our coordinator showed up. She was also gracious and met with us two hours ahead of schedule.

I should have brought water and a snack. I had no idea just how many points would be covered in our discussion. She wanted to know the number of people in the wedding party and what they would be doing. She grilled us on food choices. Would it be the Prix Fixe menu? How many entrees? Which ones? What about cocktail hour? Did we want a display? Did we prefer a couples table or a head table? Would we take the midnight bonfire option if it was available? Are we having a full bar? (OF COURSE.)

And so on and so forth, until we got to the cake. She promised to set up a tasting with the bakery that catered for them. We finished up the meeting, viewed the guest rooms and our suite, and fluttered to the bakery. We polished off a quick lunch and then braced ourselves for the Sugar Attack:

This is usually the point in the wedding planning when the groom perks up.

We chose a cake, frosting, and filling in short order. The baker boxed up the leftovers for us. Obviously, there were almost none left of our top choices.

Then we drove back home, pleased with our productive day, and hopped up on sucrose.

Thus did our latest adventure end.

In case you were curious, there was one actual pun and one trick pun. The real pun was "grilled" (get it? "She grilled us on our food choices"? hur hur hur) and the trick pun was "short order," because cakes are baked, not cooked.

Tune in next time, when I reveal the tawdry shenanigans of the bachelorette party! And by "tawdry" I mean "restrained, sophisticated, and tasteful." And by "shenanigans" I mean... well, shenanigans.

This post brought to you by my mom's quote of the day: "I can't even imagine going to the office when you have to leave! Be a tiger! Claw them!"

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Happy International Women's Day! Now Get Out.

International Women's Day dawned dark and ominous. Snow and slush marred Boston's cityscape. My office opened late that day, but the announcement did not reach me in time. I trudged resolutely to my cubicle, prepared to face another day of writing or research, or at the very least, a lot of news reading.

Alas, 'twas not to be. My boss called me into her office and explained that my position would be eliminated at the end of the month. I sat in stunned, stoic silence. I had the presence of mind to murmur that I understood and wished the company well. I even added that I would miss having her as a supervisor. All true, dear readers.

And then, the walk of shame to HR. The contract saying I must be nice and not say nasty things about the company that both giveth and taketh away. The puppy dog eyes of Fiancé when I told him over lunch.

I went home and joined LinkedIn at Fiancé's suggestion. My word, is it ever so aggressive! It nagged me with three pages of names and faces. I checked my favorite humans, the ones I actually knew and interacted with in a non-shallow manner. Fiancé helped me take a profile photo so prospective employers could take one look at my hamster-cheeked visage and declare that I am The One...

...Who Ate All the Sandwiches. Also true.

Then I checked job listings and knocked off some applications. I crafted cover letters and adjusted my resume to match each individual position.

I slogged to my cubicle on Monday, utterly exhausted. I also felt the beginnings of resentment. I liked my job. I would cling like a barnacle to my desk if I could. Why did this happen?

Since everyone who knew carried on being so gosh darned nice, my fury turned inward. I lambasted myself for being a loser. Why, why, why did I suck so bad? If I sucked less, I could remain gainfully employed for years! Loser! Loser! Loser!

Fiancé saw that dark flame, grabbed it, and stomped it into the ground. He made sure to feed me well while I processed everything. He even ironed my work pants! That made me wonder -- did I get laid off to restore karmic balance?

So here I am, counting down the days. To freedom! To countless rejections! To being in my pajamas at eleven in the morning! And eventually, to a new beginning!

As my mom would say: "Haaay, buhay. Parang life." ("Oh, life. It's like life.")

Well, it's the only one I got. Bring it, world. This job hunt is SO ON.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Film Review: Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)

Oz the Great and Powerful is a birthday cake: it's sweet, goes down easy, and kids will love it. The writing keeps everything to a strictly PG level of plot and character development. And I don't know how they managed it, but the graphics were awful. The Oz landscape looks like an eighties diorama dreamed up by seventies cocaine addicts. In fact, now that I think about it, the poster on the left looks like it was borrowed from The Land Before Time. If only the story were as good as that of Ducky and Littlefoot's.

Oz follows magician Oscar Diggs, who ends up in Oz. He meets and charms Theodora the Good (Mila Kunis), who takes him to her sister, Evanora the Glam (Rachel Weisz). They tell him that a wicked witch, Glinda the Blonde (Michelle Williams), killed the king. They promise Oscar/Oz the throne if he but breaks Glinda's wand. Dazzled by the prospect of kingly riches, Oz embarks on a quest out of Emerald City on the yellow brick road.

The actors do their best with the material. James Franco does a good job portraying the cad with a secret heart of gold. Weisz's character inexplicably always sounds like she's on the verge of tears, but boy, does she wear the heck out of that glittering dress. Kunis' character has no personality, but fortunately Kunis has giant puppy dog eyes that hypnotize audiences into forgetting that fact. And I think Michelle Williams needed actual money, so she agreed to lend her talent to a mainstream film.

Elisabeth Rappe at Jezebel blasted Oz as a step backward for women in film because of how the three witches were written. Personally, I'm perplexed that they're so thinly drawn and seemingly dependent upon a man to provide legitimate leadership. I think this could have been a superior film if they'd only improved the writing. As it is, Oz the Great and Powerful is suitable for children, and forgettable for adults.

I hope the lesson here is clear: hire me, Disney! I can start in April.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Game Review: Zero no Kiseki Evolution (PS Vita) - updated

From left: Zeit the wolf, Randy the redhead, Elie the fancy,
Kea the tykebomb, Lloyd the leader, Tio the teen, and Sergei the boss.
And yes, I'm aware the sign reads Ao no Kiseki. I like this pic, okay?

Eiyuu Densetsu: Zero no Kiseki Evolution (Legend of Heroes: Zero Trails Evolution) takes players to a world with an unseen goddess, shadowy groups, geopolitical intrigues, straight and overturned stereotypes, and explosive new technologies. Zero no Kiseki continues from the Sora no Kiseki (Trails in the Sky) games, which introduced “orbment” technology, composed of quartz forged from sepith (mineral) fragments. High-tech advancements include cars, cell phones, planes, guns, and trains, all with an elegant retro/steam punk design. 

In Zero no Kiseki, the latest in orbment tech becomes key as players take on the role of Lloyd Bannings, who leads a team of rookie police officers tasked with maintaining order and upholding the law in Crossbell City. The city is the capital of Crossbell, an independent state located between the Erebonian Empire and the Calvard Republic, who both want to conquer their smaller neighbor. 

Early in the game, the mafia moves into the city and stirs up trouble with local gangs. Lloyd and the other members of the Special Support Services (SSS) begin investigating reports of fights, mysterious attacks, missing people, and underground auctions. They eventually realize that something monumental is afoot. Perhaps it's somehow connected to the death of Lloyd's elder brother three years ago? (Hint: yes.)

Zero no Kiseki Evolution takes over 60 hours to finish for the completist gamer. While the game advances through plot-centric requests, there are sidequests to complete, random cut scenes to watch, recipes to collect, dishes to cook, fish to catch, furniture to buy, and even a cat to feed! All these optional events take as much time as leveling up and figuring out which character has the best stats for equipment and Arts (magic). The great part is, they're fun, and they improve your chances of having easier boss fights. 

Actually, the voice acting added for the Vita also extends play time. All the seiyuu (voice actors) do a great job, even Estelle's -- I initially cringed when I heard her archetypal genki-girl voice, but she grew on me. If you're into Japanese immersion, then soak in everything this game has to say. And it has over 60 hours of sweet Japanese nothings to whisper into your ear. And by "nothings" I mean "police terms such as investigation, criminal, and infiltrate."

Having said that, Zero no Kiseki is a blast because it continues in the combat system tradition of the Eiyuu Densetsu series. Your characters can to choose to fight, or run away from, enemies visible on the field map. So instead of random encounters when you're hurrying to another location, you could just rush past all the assorted monsters bent on your demise. By the same token, rather than running around like a busy person, you could crash into every single enemy you see in a way that lets you have turn priority when you start the battle. Thanks to this type of combat, ordinary enemies are usually a breeze. A few bosses will be tough, but having things too easy would be boring.

Zero no Kiseki also boasts a complex plot. I'll avoid spoilers here, but let me just say that the ending leads to more questions than answers. Hopefully, the sequel to the game, Ao no Kiseki, will resolve the threads left to dangle in Zero. Playing the Sora no Kiseki games, which take place a few years before Zero, would also be useful, but not necessary to enjoy Zero no Kiseki.

Finally, Zero no Kiseki continues the feminist overtones present throughout the entire Legend of Heroes series. In Sora no Kiseki FC and SC, Estelle, the main character, transforms convincingly over the course of the games from a lazy and forgetful girl to a determined young woman. Her stats are decent, too, and what a relief to not have her be a staff chick specializing in magic. She's a physical fighter, not quite on par with the specially-trained Joshua, but certainly his match when it comes to sheer grit and refusal to surrender. Her motivations propel the plot of both games.

In other Legend of Heroes games, if the boy is a main character, he must be accompanied by a girl. This is the case for The White Witch and Song of the Ocean. The only exception is A Tear of Vermillion, where the kidnapping of a female character drives the movements of the main character. That one's more of a bromance.

The Trails/Kiseki series takes gender equality to a new level with male characters who challenge heteronormative stereotypes. Olivier, the handsome, gun-toting "bard," flirts outrageously with Joshua and any pretty person who catches his eye, whatever their gender happens to be. In Zero no Kiseki, the handler for the Bracer Guild is Michel, a man who loves pink and speaks like a woman. See, in Japanese, your social status determines your hanashikata (way of speaking). For example, refined women add "wa" to the end of sentences, hooligan boys say a lot of, "Butseketeyaru!", a higher up will use the non-formal when speaking to subordinates, and so on. But Michel, sweet, redhaired Michel, fooled me into thinking he was a girl, because you really can't tell with the 3D sprites, and all I had to go on was his speech pattern. Then, when a kid asks him why he talks like a girl, and everyone else tries to shut the kid up, Michel laughs and says something to the effect of: "You know how you're wearing clothes that suit you? I speak in the way that suits me." Flame on, Michel, flame on!

As for the music, it hummed quietly along in the background, adding to the atmosphere. The battle tracks and revelation pieces worked very well. My only complaint is that there's one arrangement when you're in Crossbell City that makes it sound like you're in a porno. Saxophone much?

All in all, Falcom did a great job with the additional features of this former PC game. I could jump through a couple of hoops to get Ao no Kiseki on the Japanese Playstation Network, but I think I'll wait and see if an enterprising Amazon seller can get in an import. If not, I'll figure my away around getting my paws on another Eiyuu Densetsu game, because they're reliably fun without being stupid, deep without being convoluted, touching without being cheesy, and funny without being annoying. In short, the games in the series consistently strike a good balance, so thank you, Falcom. Until next time.

Anata wo mitsuketemiseru.

If I've convinced you to play, let me also help you finish the game! Here is my walkthrough on GameFAQs: http://www.gamefaqs.com/vita/644812-eiyuu-densetsu-zero-no-kiseki-evolution/faqs. I post FAQs and reviews on that site as Fragrant Elephant. GameFAQs forums have helped me when I was stuck in some games, so this is how I give back. Power to the gamers!!!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Book Review: Cause Celeb (1994)

Helen Fielding’s debut novel offers an unflinching social commentary about our unequal world through its protagonist, Rosie Richardson, a publicist who becomes an aid worker in war-stricken Nambula to escape a toxic relationship in her native London. When locust swarms destroy crops and threaten to overwhelm her camp with refugees, Rosie returns home to enlist celebrities in her cause. Her aim: an ad campaign that can pull in enough funds for emergency airlifts of food and medicine. Her time frame: three weeks.

Her move raises ethical and practical questions. The first questions are simple: how to convince famous people to support her project, and how to organize an advertising spot so quickly? Then come the complex issues: how to get a satellite dish and broadcast crews into an unstable region, how to do photo ops without trampling the dignity of the refugees, how to make sure that the positive effects of the campaign last beyond the presence of the Famous Club, how to make sense of all the factors that led to the crisis in the first place, and what does it mean to truly help?

Fielding answers those challenges through her characters. They represent a range of viewpoints: one co-producer declaims the effort as a neocolonialist move, an executive insists on milking the spot for all it’s worth, an actor bellows that one is obligated to help when asked, a highly educated refugee demands more consideration of the historical and sociopolitical causes of the famine, and so on. Meanwhile, thousands of starving people make their way to Rosie’s camp, which already holds hundreds of sick and hungry refugees.

In Cause Celeb, Fielding demonstrates the sparkling dialogue and brilliant characterization that propelled her Bridget Jones’ Diary into bestseller status. Every character in Cause Celeb is flawed and outrageous. Fielding paints the British personalities with vivid brush strokes of arrogance, neediness, shallowness, nobility, eccentricity, and charm. The staff and some of the refugees at Rosie’s camp receive the same treatment: they can be insufferable and odd, but the author writes them with affection.

Only Rosie develops to any significant degree, starting out as an uncertain and star-struck young woman and then becoming a determined, steely “harridan,” in the words of an aid officer. That makes sense because she’s the lead, and it contributes to a more compact story that equally respects her individual struggles as a young woman, and the plot that revolves around the hardships endured by far too many humans who have the misfortune of being born on the wrong side of the first world/third world divide. Rosie even acts as a reader stand-in when she considers the powerful effect that celebrities have when it comes to engaging people around a complex problem.

The novel also makes observations about the incompetence of large, bureaucratic organizations; the ease with which some problems could be solved, if only the political will existed; the difficulty of disengaging from romantic ties; etc. While Bridget Jones’ Diary is a superior work in terms of characterization, pacing, structure, and humor, Cause Celeb stands on firm ground as a gentle satire. It’s an easy read, so go ahead and add it to your summer reading list!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Lasers Will Make Me Beautiful

A year ago, I underwent laser eye surgery, or Lasik. A battery of eye tests proved my candidacy for treatment, and an impromptu laser repair procedure for a hole in my right cornea rendered me able to receive the surgery.

I emerged as a doe-eyed butterfly from the tyrannical cocoon of eyeglasses. Sources confirm that I am now 1.75% prettier than when stylish brown/pink frames obscured the windows of my soul.

More importantly, I can now easily perform activities for which I used to have to put on or take off my glasses, including:

  • Rolling directly out of bed in the morning 
  • Taking off a shirt/sweater/tight tank top 
  • Smooshing my face against other people’s 
  • Wearing sunglasses 
  • Swimming 
  • et cetera 

In other words, Lasik vastly improved my quality of life.

Now I embark upon the next step: laser hair removal. According to my calculations, having hairless underarms shall enhance my beauty, and thus my societal approval rating and self-esteem, by at least 0.89%. I will also be able to wear sleeveless tops whenever I want. Whenever I want!!!

Being the third daughter, I follow in the path that my pioneering sisters forged in the past. My older sister already has flawless kili-kili, and my eldest sister gazes sternly at the world without need for corrective lenses. Here is my tale, in ancient legend form:

The Legend of the Laser Princess

Thousands of years ago in the land of snow and wind, there lived a princess and her consort. The princess had been both blessed and cursed at birth with an abundance of long, silky black hair. On her head, the hair looked wonderful and earned her admiration from the peasants. But everywhere else, her plentiful follicles caused her to despair and wear frumpy clothes.

One day, the princess went walking along the street and saw a sign for the Cosmetic Laser Center Beautification Palace in the Thundering Sky. She consulted the mighty oracle Google for reviews of the place. After finding an aggregated five-star rating for the Palace, she went in for a consultation. The technician zapped a test patch off her left underarm, and instructed the princess to see what happened next. 

Several weeks passed, and the princess discovered that the test patch hairs had died. Joyfully, she returned to the Palace and went through a full session that lasted barely two minutes. Afterwards, the princess ignored the stinging sensations and celebrated with her famous Happy Wiggle Dance in the elevator.

As the elevator doors opened, light shone from the sky and a voice boomed that with all the laser treatment she was getting, the princess may be eligible to receive the title, “The Laser Princess.” The princess agreed with the voice, and looked forward to her next session, and to wearing slutty revealing clothes after completing her latest laser treatment. And everyone lived happily ever after.

This post brought to you by a foolishly unguarded sandwich right outside the elevators.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Miffed to Melancholic in Ten Minutes

This morning I congratulated myself for already having achieved the worst idea of the week: affixing my thigh-highs to my undies via safety pins. I won't go into detail, but let's just say that gravity overwhelmed my civil engineering efforts.

Then I went from miffed to melancholic in about ten minutes. The transition began when I sat down at my desk and checked in on the latest in Health & Human Services news, because that's part of my job. Usually I read articles about state budgets for deinstitutionalization, or studies about co-morbidity rates, or opinion pieces on healthcare. Pretty dry stuff, usually. Sometimes I get inspiring stories where children with disabilities get intervention early enough to make significant improvements in the quality of their lives. Those are great.

However, the news items this morning were neither great nor dry. A colleague sent me a link to an article about the new guy heading the L.A. County's Department of Children and Family Services. As I read it, I saw the picture of a little girl on the left sidebar, along with the headline link: "Report excoriates L.A. County agency in child deaths, torture." Now, I usually see these types of reports associated with Florida, so I clicked the link.

If you didn't click like I did, and I don't blame you, here's the skinny: case workers who basically give zero shits contributed to the deaths by abuse of children. The child in one of the highlighted cases was two years old. The other was a "young boy," found in a closet. In both cases, the agency received multiple tips that the parents or caretakers abused the kids. The agency closed the inquiries. When they did check, Vyctorya and Johnny were dead.

So I stopped reading. I went to BBC to read general news. Then I saw "Lab bids to combat species smuggling." In one example, poachers in Kenya slaughtered 79 elephants and put their loot in six crates that were then confiscated in Thailand. A photo I once saw on BBC flashed through my mind: a dead would-be mommy elephant, her tusks chopped off, her baby cut out of her out of curiosity, both corpses left on the ground.

As you can tell by my blog name, I love elephants. They're smart and gentle and sociable.

It's sad that we live in a world where people murder magnificent creatures to decorate some douchebag's house or improve some sap's fertility. It's awful that horrible people become parents and then hurt and kill their own children.

It really puts my thigh-highs situation in perspective. 

Movie Review: Hereditary (2018)