12
Jan 17

2015 and 2016 in Retrospect

Don’t ask me how but somehow I forgot to do one of my trusty year-end retrospects for 2015. So now coming at you, a two-fer. Here are the highlights of what happened these past two years.

2015

I became obsessed with podcasts. Now in addition to Stuff You Should Know, This American Life, Serial, and Here’s the Thing, I also listen to How Did This Get Made, Stuff You Missed in History Class, Gilmore Guys, The X-Files Philes, and Crimetown.

I went to Seattle to see a college friend. And had an awesome time hiking, eating, and visiting the science fiction museum.

I went to Boston for a Beantown birthday. With a side trip to Maine.

I moved back to New York, then went to Paris a week later. It was insane and exhausting and wonderful.

I got to know New York again. Especially the museums, ramen, and gyms.

I started rewriting my paranormal teen romance. I used NaNoWriMo 2015 as an excuse. More than a year later, I’m still working on it. Sigh. My goal is to have a complete draft by May 1.

I had a Canadian Christmas. Museums, Montreal bagels, and snow. What more could you ask for, eh?

2016

I started off the year with a cruise. And it turned me into a cruise person. What I wouldn’t give for a warm saltwater bath and yummy Greek yogurt chicken salad right now.

I got laid off. This wasn’t something I talked about on my blog because it felt weird. But I was let go early last year. It was a shock (despite all the red flags), but luckily I had savings and a few freelance gigs to tide me over until I got a new job in May. And by the way —

I got a new job. I’m a copywriter at a corporation, which is quite a change from the startup world. But it pays the bills and I’m learning a ton.

I went to Paris again. It was beautiful as always although this time I might have overdosed on cheese.

I went to Boston again. Hiking, a gin and rum distillery, and lots of tasty eats.

I wrote a bunch of articles. I continued (and continue) to write for Mental Floss, WetInk, and Wordnik.

I went to my brother’s wedding in Las Vegas and was extremely happy. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, except I will say that I:

  • Had a fabu dress
  • Gave a kick-ass toast
  • Had lots of fun with family
  • Ate too much
  • Got wasted on one old-fashioned
  • Adore my new sister-in-law

I voted and was extremely disappointed. It was a roller coaster ride of emotions, going from the joy of a wedding to post-election desolation.

I had some friend-filled holidays. Life goes on, right? And that means friends, family, and getting back to work.

What was your 2016 like?


30
Dec 14

2014 in Retrospect

View on my commute. #sanfrancisco # baybridge #nofilter

A photo posted by actung9 (@actung9) on

I can’t believe it was only last year that MB and I broke up. True, we broke up in the beginning of 2013 and now 2014 is basically over so it’s more like two years, but it feels even longer than that, I suppose because so much has happened and changed since then.

Travel

I went to a whole bunch of places this year.

I kicked things off with a super-fun Presidents’ Day vacation in sunny (yet chilly) Orlando with YP and a college pal (and of course we hit Disney), and then AWP again at the end of February, this time in Seattle, where I participated in a reading with Bellingham Review and had the chance to catch up with a college buddy I haven’t seen in years.

April meant another birthday trip to NJ and NYC; August was the big Spain trip; Thanksgiving, a nice long visit on the east coast; and just last week, a visit with Greg and his girlfriend in Los Angeles.

I’m not sure yet what my travel plans will be for 2015. I have no plans to go to AWP. (I’m not working nor have I been invited to any readings.) I had been thinking I’d go to NJ and NYC again for my birthday, but now I’m considering someplace else. Japan is at the top of  my list and — I just thought of this — maybe Montreal or Prince Edward Island. Greg raved about Montreal, and PEI because of Anne of Green Gables.

Writing

The biggest project I completed in the last year or so was my paranormal teen romance.

I had had the idea for a while, but thought I should revise this other novel I had completed in December of 2012 although I hated it. Every single word was a struggle to write. In all honestly, I probably should have given up on it long ago instead of wasting time and energy.

After MB and I broke up, I couldn’t work on that book. For a while I did nothing, then finally decided, Fuck it, I want to work on something fun and new, and started the YA book.

It was a pleasure to write from start to finish. When I wasn’t writing, I missed my characters. I got tingles imagining some scenes. I was always excited to work on it.

I have such good memories of working on it too. In Paris I was jetlagged so I’d be awake at four in the morning. I’d make some coffee and eat chocolate and write in my notebook while YP slept in the next room and it rained outside.

View. #paris

A photo posted by actung9 (@actung9) on

I would like those kinds of mornings for the rest of my life.

I finished the novel in March of this year. I spent a month revising it, then queried a whole bunch of agents. No luck. Needless to say, I was really disappointed. I loved the book so much, and everyone I talked to got excited about the premise. I wanted to make the book better but didn’t know how.

Then my brother read it and gave me an excellent critique. Basically, he said, it’s more like a first draft. There are a lot of lost opportunities for “coolness” and imaginative stuff. Perhaps a red herring I set up isn’t necessary, and, most of all, the protagonist is dull. I tried hard not to make her passive, but I think in the end she’s too much like me, and so, as always, I wasn’t able to get enough distance to make her her own person.

After hearing all that, I thought, Of course! It’s all so obvious! Duh!!!

I’m not quite ready yet to start revising it, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot. When I’m ready to work on it again, I know I won’t be able to help it.

In addition to my book, I published a number of short pieces on everything from language to libraries to the television show Hannibal. For 2015, I plan on more of the same, as well as, perhaps, getting back into personal essays.

Health & Fitness

I probably didn’t achieve as much in the fitness area of my life. Sometime I last year I gave up going to classes at my krav maga place. While the location was super-convenient for where I used to live, it’s just not anymore. So when my membership expired in September of last year, I didn’t bother renewing it.

Instead I joined a gym near work and it’s fantastic. Clean and spacious with gorgeous locker rooms and Kiehl’s in the showers. So while I don’t do harder workouts now like conditioning and carido punching bag, I’ve been going more consistently — four or five days during the week, whether early in the morning, at lunchtime, or after work.

I do miss those conditioning and punching bag classes though, especially since I hurt my back a couple of weeks ago. Walking and even running were okay, but sitting was excruciating, especially on a jerky bus ride. My theory is that because I stopped conditioning and punching bag, my back and core muscles have weakened. At the same time, I started rowing in the last several months, probably with bad form, and have been carrying around a heavy backpack quite a lot, whether during my travels, to and from work with my computer and other gadgets, or grocery shopping.

If my back feels better soon, I’ll try to take this conditioning class I like at the gym. I’ve taken it several times but stopped because it’s not until 5:30 and I get home so late. But how I’ll fill the punching bag shaped hole in my heart, I’m not sure. I sometimes work on the heavy bag at the gym, but it’s not the same as a solid hour of doing routines and conditioning. I’m almost tempted to rejoin my old krav maga gym, maybe for six months or so.

In other health news, since April I’ve cut out instant noodles and other high sodium processed foods. I’m paranoid about my blood pressure (I know, I know, I should get a checkup). Also because of what I’m theorizing is low stomach acid, I’ve cut my rice intake as well. If I eat too much rice or other carbs, my stomach feels like it’s going to explode (however, that didn’t stop me this past week from eating delicious stuffing, noodles, and sandwiches).

I’ve also started eating more fruits and vegetables, and gotten into the habit of having an apple or whatever is in season after lunch and dinner. I feel like the fruit neutralizes any saltiness and probably helps with digestion as well.

Family

My dad’s health has been up and down for the past couple of years. In late 2012, he had a bad fall during a vacation in Taiwan, and ever since then has dealt with a variety of issues.

When I saw him in April, he seemed to be improving. He was sleeping better and had a good appetite. But when Greg saw him over the summer, he was in bad shape. His doctor had him on strong antibiotics in preparation for a biopsy that could lead to possible infection. As a result, he had lost his appetite and was eating almost nothing.

Greg said he was really skinny, could barely keep his balance, and seemed really muddled. On top of that, he was having trouble sleeping again (he was worried about his biopsy results, which by the way turned out fine) and was on some sleep aid, which made him crazy, especially in combination with this appetite stimulant he was on. AND on top of all that, he had a cataract he was being stubborn about so he couldn’t see either.

Now he’s like a new person.

As soon as he was off the antibiotics, he got his appetite back. I had suggested eating yogurt and sweet potatoes to help with his digestion. He resisted at first, saying that yogurt was too sour and just not digging sweet potatoes, but now he eats both multiple times a day.

He got the cataract removed at the end of August, and now he’s reading and typing intelligent emails again. Before, his emails were crazy. I didn’t know if he couldn’t see or was, like, losing it. Now they’re back to being eloquent.

He still can’t walk as much as he used to, but he still takes short walks a couple of times a day, and goes to physical therapy. He started playing mah-jongg again and singing karaoke. He goes out to dinner with friends.

When I told Greg that, he couldn’t believe it.

Finally selling their house also helped. It was a huge worry for them. But now it’s off their hands and they’re settling in their new place in an independent living development (ie, a retirement community).

When I first saw the new house last month, it was weird. It was as though my parents were living in some stranger’s home, and the idea of some other kid living in my old room also weirded me out. But I got used to the new place fast. It helps that the upstairs is almost like its own apartment, complete with two bedrooms, a bathroom off one of the bedrooms, and a living room.

“You could live here!” ES said when I gave her the tour.

Yeah, a 40+ single woman living in her parents’ retirement community. Pretty pathetic (and possibly a rom-com).

While my father is doing much better, I doubt he’ll be up for visiting me before I move. However, I’m glad my mom had the chance to come out here last October. She came for my aunt and uncle’s anniversary party (they live in San Jose), and stayed with me one weekend. We mostly hung around the apartment although we did go into Oakland Chinatown, have dim sum, and pick up stuff for dumplings, which I had wheedled her into making for me.

During that time I also had the chance to see lots of extended family because of my aunt and uncle’s party (after which I got sick because of one glass of wine and a very winding car ride back to the house).

Moving

After MB and I broke up, I couldn’t afford to stay in our Nob Hill apartment anymore and moved into a friend’s condo in Oakland.

The sky now. #nofilter

A photo posted by actung9 (@actung9) on

While there’s no denying the apartment is fabulous and the area beautiful, living not-in-a-city was a huge adjustment for me. After five years of living in Manhattan and three and a half in very walkable Nob Hill, I was used to having everything I needed within walking distance and to be able to pop out for food or just to get out.

You can’t really do that here. If you have a car, that’s another story, but I’m phobic about driving so that wasn’t an option for me. I have to admit at first I felt somewhat isolated. Walking into town and to the BART is doable but it does take a lot of time. And I hated the idea of paying for so many cab rides.

However, a year and a half later, I’ve gotten used to it. It helps that I’ve started taking a different walking route into town. The one I used to take was on the highway for quite a bit and went through this part of town with steep hills. The new one doesn’t go through any pretty developments, but it’s sidewalks all the way down and only a gradual hill. I’m not sure why I took my previous route for so long.

So now I’m a lot less hesitant about doing what I call the schlep. Plus it’s good exercise. Ever since Spain and marathon walking days, I’ve really been into these super long walks.

Despite my love for this apartment and the Bay Area weather, I’ll be moving back to the east coast next summer. There are many reasons. I have lots of friends on the east coast, I’ll be able to afford to live in a city (Manhattan rents are currently cheaper than San Francisco’s), and I’ll be nearer to my parents who, let’s face it, aren’t getting any younger. Plus the east coast just feels more like home.

I will miss the weather and my huge apartment though. Shit.

 


01
Jan 14

2013 in Retrospect

fuckitWhile 2012 was my year of living dangerously, 2013 was more a year saying, “Fuck it,” but in a good way.

As some of you may know, the beginning of the year was tough for me, but in a way, that allowed me to let some things go and allow myself to do other things I might not have.

I lost myself in Boston. Back in March I attended AWP and had a blast. Being in that huge conference, working the book fair, seeing friends, and schmoozing with other writers was such a nice reprieve from the previous month. It didn’t even bother me that it snowed like crazy and was freezing.

I had an east coast birthday. Normally I wouldn’t have done anything special for myself for my birthday, but this year I spent it in New Jersey and New York. There was the scary moment (or day, I should say) in the hospital with my dad (who turned out to be perfectly fine), but if it had to happen, I was glad I happened to be there. Then the little surprise party that YP had waiting for me in New York more than made up for it.

I went to motherfucking Paris and London. When YP invited me along on his trip, I said hell yeah. It was just what I needed. Highlights: the Catacombes, Musee D’Orsay, and all of London, where I could see myself living someday.

I played the tourist. I was on my own over Fourth of July weekend so I had to make sure to stay active. I ended up visiting a couple of places that I had been wanting to see but just hadn’t had the chance, namely the Winchester Mystery House and Alcatraz and Angel Islands.

While the Winchester House was touristy and cheesy, I loved Angel Island and especially Alcatraz. I’d return to both although I wouldn’t do the tour for Angel Island again. I’d rather go hiking on my own or with a group.

I moved to a completely new part of town. I didn’t really want to move but I couldn’t afford my Nob Hill (more like Tendernob) apartment on my own. I looked at several places in San Francisco, but as you may know, rent is batshit crazy lately.

A few years ago, I saw a beautiful one-bedroom in Russian Hill for less than $2,000. Now that same place would probably be over $3,000. I contemplated living in a studio (they were mostly just under $2,000), but they all seemed so small and shitty, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

My parents had been pushing me to buy a condo. That idea was on hold but since condo prices were lower in Oakland, I thought rent might be too. I was right. I got the idea to live in Oakland for a year or so, and if I liked it, possibly buy a place there. In the end I only looked at one apartment: my friend’s condo.

While the location isn’t the most convenient, the place itself and the surrounding area are beautiful and very peaceful. I mean, I can see the Pacific freaking Ocean from my window. It even passed the Mom test when she visited in October.

I don’t know if I’ll stay longer than my lease (the commute feels really long sometimes), but at least I gave it a go.

I gave up krav maga. I’m not saying I’m never doing it again, but this year I let myself not worry about it. I decided that as long as I went to conditioning and punching bag classes, that was fine.

And you know I’m in better shape now than I was at this time last year. It’s not because I don’t do krav maga, but because I’ve been going to those other classes regularly, as well as taking full advantage of my condo gym.

I let myself write the fun book. This was the biggest fun thing I let myself do this year. I haven’t written about my new novel here but I did write a post about it for work, I’ve tweeted about it, and have described it to friends.

You might remember that in 2012, after much struggle, I finished a different novel on Christmas Day. I felt accomplished but I didn’t feel excited about the novel. I was just glad it was done.

I had an idea for a YA fantasy novel for a while. The plan was that I’d “indulge” myself after I got the other novel into good shape. But I couldn’t bring myself to look at it. I tried working on other things. An essay, a short story, an essay I tried turning into a short story. Everything was blah.

Finally, in March I decided, Fuck it. I’d let myself work on the fantasy novel, and I’d just have fun with it. I didn’t do an outline or character chart or anything. I just jotted down a whole bunch of ideas (some in chronological order, some not) and started writing.

I became obsessed. I wanted to work on the novel (which I’ve described as Pretty in Pink meets The X-Men) every day, even if just a little. I wanted to be with the characters, to visit with them like they were good friends. I thought about them all the time. I’d listen to certain songs during my commute and imagine scenes from the book, like a trailer for a movie. I imagined scenes from the sequels. I got tingles as I did.

With the other novel, each and every day was a struggle. I was never excited about it; I often hated it. It never gave me tingles.

By September, I had a first draft. By December I had a second draft. Now I’m letting myself take a break before tackling a third. After that it will probably be ready for people to read.

I will stay interested. As for 2014, I have no resolutions or goals. My only plan is to keep doing what I’ve been doing and to focus on staying interested in things rather than being happy.

I love this quote from George O’Keeffe:

I think it’s so foolish for people to want to be happy. Happy is so momentary–you’re happy for an instant and then you start thinking again. Interest is the most important thing in life; happiness is temporary, but interest is continuous.

May we all stay interested.

[Photo: CC BY 2.0 by Jochen Handschuh]


31
Dec 12

2012 in Retrospect: My Year of Living Dangerously

UPDATED. I thought of something else!

If I had to pick one word to sum up 2012 for me, it would be risky. For some reason, I took a lot of risks this year. Let’s get one thing straight: a risk for me may be a walk in the park for someone else. Like my brother, the scare yourself every day guy, says, what’s scary for you may not be for other people, and vice versa. It’s all about getting out of your comfort zone.

With that, here are the scariest things I did this year.

I rode an overnight train. I love trains, but I was nervous about the idea of riding one for 51 hours from San Francisco to Chicago. How tiny would our sleeper car be? Would we be bored out of our minds? Could I live for two and a half days without a shower? Would I be able to sleep?

Of course I had nothing to worry about. Our sleeper car was small but cozy, we weren’t bored at all, and there were showers on board. And while I did have trouble sleeping the first couple of nights, when I finally remembered to wear my ear plugs, I slept like a baby.

I schmoozed (a little) at a huge writers’ conference. The reason MB and I went to Chicago was to attend the biggest writers’ conference in the universe. Or at least it seemed that way. Most of the time I felt overwhelmed and painfully shy, but on the last day, I mustered up enough courage to go up to two tables at the book fair and introduce myself. I knew the organizations through work, and they got excited when I mentioned my company. I felt accomplished walking with two business cards and some give-aways.

I pitched my novel to a bunch of agents. As you’ve noticed, I hate schmoozing. But when a “speed dating with agents” event came up, I decided to try it.

It was pretty nerve-racking reciting my pitch over and over, especially as certain agents’ eyes glazed over and others looked at me like I was nuts. And to tell the truth, I was kind of discouraged afterward. But. . .

I kept going with my novel even when I didn’t want to. After the speed agenting event, I was pretty discouraged. I wanted to trash what I had and start over. But MB talked me off the cliff and helped me see that my book was fixable. The agents’ questions and confusion simply pointed at the weaknesses of the story, and once I figured out how to address those weaknesses, I kept going.

It helped that I had struck a deal with MB: I had to work on my novel five days a week. I had one day off and one day to work on something else. Each time I didn’t do this, I had to give MB $10. (I also had to give him $10 if I didn’t go to krav maga at least twice a week, but more on that later.) But if I finished my novel before I reached $100, I got all the money back.

I got $70 back on Christmas Day.

Seventy is not bad. That means I missed my goals seven times, far fewer than it seemed in my mind.

I did a reading. This year I was lucky enough to be part of The Beautiful Anthology, published by TNB Books. Not only has it gotten mentions by Largehearted Boy, Daily Candy, and The New York Times, it’s resulted in readings around the country. When I heard of one being arranged in L.A., I jumped at the chance.

But as the reading got closer, the more nervous I became. Should I do an intro? What should I say? Should I look up or keep my eyes on my book? What if people were bored? WHAT THE HELL WAS I GOING TO WEAR? Why did I agree to do this at all?

But of course the reading turned out great. My fellow readers were awesome and the folks at Book Soup and the crowd were so nice. Plus I got to meet some online friends and hang out with my bro.

I participated on a writing roundtable. As with the reading, when I got invited to participate on a roundtable to talk about writing for an anthology, I agreed happily. But when the day came, I was nervous as fuck. It was a conference call, which in some ways was better: I didn’t have to worry about my outfit nor (mis)interpret any bored expressions. I could just keep blabbing, which is what I did, and afterward, I was glad I did it.

I schmoozed with writers in a social setting. When a writer/editor friend invited me a to a Christmas party at an agent’s house, I automatically thought I wouldn’t go. I had already done enough scary things this year, hadn’t I? But when she asked me again and I discovered the house was not far from my apartment, I decided to go.

I was nervous about attending a party alone, and also when I found out we were going around the room and introducing ourselves and talking about what we were working on. But I did okay! People actually seemed entertained by what I had to say. And I had conversations with a bunch of different people and collected business cards. Yay for introvert me!

I took up krav maga. This was by far the scariest thing I did this year – in fact, in many years (except for flying trapeze). I’m still not sure what made me decide to do it. Maybe the MB’s talking about his years of martial arts training had wormed its way into my brain. Maybe because the krav maga place is two blocks from my apartment, or because I’ve always secretly wanted to be Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

From krav maga came a million more scary things:

  • Just going to class. In the beginning, I’d get a stomachache every time and often chickened out. See the $10 deal with MB.
  • Choosing partners. Would I get rejected by the higher level students? Would I get someone who was sorry they picked me? Would I be left with no partner, which is basically the same as getting picked last in gym class?
  • Getting paired with someone bigger and stronger than I was. When a guy who outweighs you by 80 pounds knees you in the stomach – even with pad protection – it’s not fun. (Of course we can tell our partners to go easier.)
  • Learning something new. I was afraid of making a fool out of myself every single time.
  • Getting (fake) attacked by my classmates.
  • Getting evaluated by the instructor.
  • Trying other classes. The first time I walked into KO Bag class (punching and kicking the heavy punching bag), I chickened out. Turned around and left. Now I freaking love it and probably go more to KO Bag than to krav.
  • Deciding to take the yellow belt test.
  • Taking the yellow belt test (and passing!).
  • Going to level 2 krav maga classes. While I now find level 1 classes fun, level 2 classes still scare the shit out of me.

I do feel changed after almost a year of martial arts training. I’m leaner and stronger. I know how to throw a decent punch and a pretty good kick. As for the psychological side, the change is more subtle. I’ve never used my skills in a real-life situation, but I feel more confident that I could take care of myself such a situation arise. Or at least be aware enough to avoid them, or if I can’t avoid them, to not panic and freeze.

But during class, I still pretend I’m Buffy slaying a vampire. :)

I’m not sure why I did more scary stuff this year. Maybe partly I was inspired by my brother; maybe because I turned 40. Whatever the reason, I’m glad I did it all.

 


30
Dec 12

2012 in Retrospect: What I Watched

Another year, another 365 days of television. Let the idiot box recap begin!

Most Disappointing

Copper looked so promising. BBC America plus New York City in 1865 – how could it not be awesome? But it wasn’t. It wasn’t terrible but it was just blah. I felt nothing for most of the characters, and aside from a storyline involving a child prostitute, couldn’t get into any of the conflicts.

The If-I-Hear-That-Song-One-More-Time-I’m-Going-to-Break-the-TV Award

The show was Awake and the song was Bohemian Rhapsody, or rather one refrain of Bohemian Rhapsody sung over and over. WE GET IT. THAT’S THE TURNING POINT. OKAY. Thank goodness the show was canceled so I don’t have to hear it again.

Awake also gets the Most Unbelievable Mom of a Dead Teenaged Son Award. First of all, the actress Laura Allen, who is 38, looks about 33, and was way too smiley and chipper for someone whose son just died in a car accident.

Best Soap Opera

Let’s face it: Downton Abbey is basically a soap opera, albeit a classy one, with British accents. But that’s why people love it so. Plus the clothes! and Dame Maggie “What is a week-end?” Smith! and the British idioms! How can you go wrong?

Best Show That Only My College Roommate and I Watched

Unlike Downton Abbey, people didn’t seem to give a tweet about Call the Midwife. But I didn’t care. It was my private Sunday night, old-fashioned girly indulgence.

Set in 1950s East London, the show focuses on a group of young women trained as midwives. Every episode we meet different mothers-to-be and their ordeals. When I saw my college roommate, SB, in November, we discovered that we both loved the show. “I don’t know anyone who watches it!” she said. Call the Midwife would have totally been that show we watched religiously in college on her tiny portable TV.

Also, the Actress Best Suited to Play a Young Julia Child Award goes to Miranda Hart, who plays the delightful Chummy.

Best Show to Re-watch from the Beginning with Your Boyfriend Who Has Never Seen It Before

Unbelievably, MB had never watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and it had been a few years since I last saw the show, so we thought we’d watch it from the start. It was a lot fun to relive the show and to bite my tongue when MB would ask questions, as well as to see how bad the special effects and makeup were in the beginning (“He’s more like a were-monkey,” MB said of Oz).

To avoid Buffy withdrawal, we’ve started watching Angel. I couldn’t get into it when it was on the air, but now I’m really enjoying it.

Best Show to Watch Before Going to Bed

I realized this year, also unbelievably, that I had never seen an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series. I’ve seen almost every episode of The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, but not TOS. I’m not going to critique it here except to say it’s totally fun and hokey, especially the overly dramatic, drawn out reaction shots. First this guy reacts! then this guy! then this guy! then this guy! And the men wear so much eyeliner and eyeshadow, and the women’s wigs are hilariously ridiculous.

But the reason I like to watch it before bed is because it’s very soothing. I don’t know what it is. Maybe the calm, leisurely pace, or the way everyone talks.

Another Show I Can’t Believe I Haven’t Watched Until Now

Last year I became a fan of Torchwood, but had somehow never watched Doctor Who. I tried watching an episode when I was in high school, mostly because my good friend SG was so into it, but I didn’t see the appeal. Now I’m a total fan. What I like best is how excited the Doctor and his various companions get whenever they travel. I would totally be the Doctor’s companion.

Most Reliable

I’ve been a fan of Fringe from the beginning. The show has been consistently good the whole time, never tying itself into gordian X-Files knots. And while I’m sad that this is its last season, I’m glad it’s going out on a high note.

Best Closing Scene

SPOILER ALERT! If I had to pick one word to describe this latest season of Breaking Bad, it would be inevitable. Everything that happened was bound to sooner or later. But inevitable isn’t the same as predictable. We didn’t want that bad shit to happen, but it did and in unexpected ways.

Which brings us to the last scene of the mid-season finale: Hank on the toilet, looking for something to read, finding the Walt Whitman book and the inscription from Gale, and all the pieces coming together in his head. Tingles! Reminds of that scene in Godfather 2 when Michael realizes (ANOTHER SPOILER for the two of you who haven’t seen the film) that Fredo was the one betrayed him.

Breaking Bad had some great words too.

Best Comeback

MORE SPOILERS. The first season of The Walking Dead gave me nightmares (a good thing). The second season nearly bored me to walking death. I was wary about this season. Would they spend the whole time talking? What they be safe (read: boring)? They are fairly safe from the zombies, but not from those who aren’t supposed to be a danger: other people.

Plus, the Governor is one fucked up motherfucker, and I love Michonne.

Want more TV stuff? I wrote about the best in TV words too.


29
Dec 12

2012 in Retrospect: My 10 Must-Reads of the Year

It’s that time of year again. That’s right, time for my year-end retrospects. First up, my choices for must-reads of 2012. Some of these were published this year; some were books I just happened to read in 2012. They’re in the order that I read them.

I wrote about several of these back in July and for those books am just (lazily) quoting that blog post.

Fathermucker, by Greg Olear. I started this book at the end of 2011 and finished it in 2012 so it just makes this list. Here’s what I wrote in July: “Greg Olear’s Fathermucker was the first book I read this year, and I was blown away. On the surface it seems like a simple plot: a day in the life of a stay-at-home dad. But like Ulysses it’s far more complex (yet not incomprehensible), as well as moving and funny. It was one of those books I felt like kissing after I was done.”

Sleepy Hollow Family Almanac, by Kris D’Agostino. Again, quoting myself: “Sleepy Hollow Family Almanac by Kris D’Agostino is a little like The Corrections, but with much more heart. I didn’t so much love The Corrections as admire it. But with Sleepy Hollow, it was pure love. I read the book months ago but I still have clear images of most of the characters: the hapless narrator, the autistic kid he helps at the school where he works, the ill father, the troubled younger sister.”

The Lexicographer’s Dilemma: The Evolution of ‘Proper’ English, from Shakespeare to South Park, by Jack Lynch. MB picked out this book, thinking I’d like it since I’m an amateur lexicographer now, and he was right. Over the summer I wrote that this book “is a delight for any word nerd.” It “gives a comprehensive overview of the history of the English language, from a time where there was no consistency in spelling or grammar, to the Latinizing of English, to modern-day neologisms.”

The Cove, by Ron Rash. My original write-up: “The Cove was another surprise. It starts off quiet: an Appalachian town during World War I, a lonely outcast girl, a stranger with a flute. But Ron Rash subtly and skillfully brings all the elements together, and what happens is at once inevitable, surprising, and heart-breaking.”

Moby-Duck, by Donovan Hohn.Moby-Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists, and Fools, Including the Author, Who Went in Search of Them not only has the longest subtitle I’ve seen in a long time but also reminded me David Foster Wallace’s nonfiction: fascinating, informative, entertaining, and very funny. It’s an example of the very best nonfiction. There’s what it’s about – seeking out these rubber ducks and other bath toys – and what’s it’s really about: the author’s external and internal journeys.”

I was pretty obsessed with this book, to the point that I made a list of the words in the book that I found interesting.

The Magicians, by Lev Grossman. “How good is The Magicians? The moment I finished it, I bought the sequel in e-book format although I prefer print. I won’t even say anything more about it. You must experience it for yourself. Just remember my snarky six word review: Harry Potter, grown-up, fucked up.

The Bellwether Revivals, by Benjamin Wood. Set in modern-day Cambridge, a young man who works as a caregiver in a nursing home befriends a wealthy brother and sister and their eclectic circle. At first the group seems merely eccentric, but soon the young man finds much weirdness among them. Reminiscent of The Secret History (one of my all-time favorite novels), The Bellwether Revivals kept me reading and guessing what was going to happen next.

Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter. To tell the truth, I didn’t think I was going to love this book. The 1960s, a mysterious movie star, Italy, Hollywood. Maybe I’m crazy but I thought I wouldn’t be into it. Well, yes, I’m definitely crazy because Beautiful Ruins absolutely lovely.

The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, by Jonathan Evison. This was another book I flew through, and it was so freaking good. Like Fathermucker good. Divorced and depressed Ben Benjamin gets a job caring for a young man with cerebral palsy, and along the way we find out little by little about Benjamin’s tragic past. While the book is incredibly sad in some ways, it’s often hilarious at the same time. I loved the relationship between Benjamin and his charge, Trevor. I believe the movie rights were recently sold for the book (congrats Jonathan!) which I could totally envision.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple. Okay, I lied. I put this book last because it was my favorite of the year. Set in Seattle and told in a series of letters and emails, we get to know precocious teen Bee, some annoying busybodies, and the eccentric and vivacious Bernadette. It’s a total romp – funny and fun but with serious undertones.

In case you’re wondering how I heard about these books, most of them I received through The Nervous Breakdown’s book club. If you’re into quality books arriving on your doorstep every month, you should totally join. Plus it’s just $9.99 a month. I did some research on other book clubs, and it’s definitely one of the more cost-effective ones out there.

As for the ones I didn’t get through the book club, like I said, MB sort of randomly picked up The Lexicographer’s Dilemma; my boss had mentioned The Magicians and when I saw it featured at my local bookstore, I snatched it up; and Moby-Duck I had heard of before. The author, Donovan Hohn, was actually a classmate of mine in grad school.

What were some of your favorite books this year?


20
Dec 11

2011 in Retrospect: What I Read

Admittedly, I watch a lot more TV than I read books, but I do read – about a book a month, sometimes less, sometimes more, depending on what I’m reading. For instance, the Song of Fire and Ice novels are HUGE, and since I’m reading them on the Kindle, I can’t even tell how thick they are (I can’t help but think if I could see how big they were, I might feel more motivated to read them faster; then again, they’d be really heavy).

You might have noticed that under the category What I’m Reading Now, I often just list a book with no comment. Several years ago, I totally fell out of the habit of reading books. Sacrilege, right? Especially for a writer. I was mostly reading magazines – Time Out New York, specifically – and it seemed as soon as I finished one issue, another one had arrived in my mailbox.

Plus it was total brain candy.

Finally, one new year I decided to make reading at least one book a month one of my resolutions, and listing them on my blog has been a way for me to keep track. Since setting that goal, reading books has been a habit.

That’s a very long way of saying, here are the best books I read this year, in no particular order.

Tipping the Velvet, by Sarah Waters. My pal YP turned me onto Sarah Waters when he sent me Fingersmith, which made my top 10 favorite books of 2010. Tipping the Velvet is Waters’ first novel, and is very very good. Set in Victorian London, it follows the life of Nan King, a young woman who becomes a male impersonator. Everything about the book is excellent: the voice, the characters, the details of the gay “underworld” in a repressed society. While Fingersmith is better and more sophisticated, Tipping the Velvet is still a must-read from Waters.

The Shell Seekers, by Rosamunde Pilcher. Back in May, I wrote about how surprised I was that The Shell Seekers was so good. I expected it to be a cheesy romance, but it so wasn’t. Here’s what I wrote:

It was extremely well-written and somewhat restrained – quite British in a way – but people still have sex, though mostly off the page.

Basically, it’s about Penelope Keeling, a woman in her 60s who has just had a heart attack.  She’s recovering but her adult children still worry.  At the same time, the children find out that the paintings of their mother’s father, a little-known artist, are suddenly very valuable.  One has just been sold for some exorbitant price, and the children, or at least two of them, get greedy about the works their mother owns – including the titular piece – and what else she might have in the depths of her house.  The book also flashes back to World War II, and Penelope’s youth and a lost love.

Although I went to my parents’ twice in two months, both times I still managed to forget to pick up Coming Home, another Pilcher novel. I read it when I lived in China when I was bored and had run out of things to read.

Drinking Closer to Home, by Jessica Anya Blau. I raved about this novel back in March, and like I said back then, ” I could read about this crazy family forever.” It’s hilarious, moving, and stays with you for a long time. I hope to write a novel like it someday.

Skinny, by Diane Spelcher. Another rave! Here’s what I said back then:

Skinny is a quick read – I read it basically in one weekend when I was feeling a bit coldy – but is darker and runs deeper than its fat camp backdrop implies.  I don’t want to give anything away so all I’ll say is: death, blame, guilt, infidelity, eating disorders.  And the characters are really vivid.

Pictures of You, by Caroline Leavitt. In March, I wrote that Pictures of You is “deceptively a ‘domestic’ tale – about women leaving their families, affairs, divorce, etc. – but also so much more.”

Pretty, by Jillian Lauren. Living in a halfway house and attending cosmetology school, Bebe Baker is trying to escape everything: her dead boyfriend, her domineering mother, the scars left by the accident that killed her boyfriend. In a voice reminiscent of Holden Caulfield’s, Pretty made me laugh, cry, and keep reading.

Stories for Nighttime and Some for Day, by Ben Loory. These stories creeped me the fuck out. The end.

Anatomy of a Story, by John Truby. I’ve written about this book a lot already (here, here, here, and here), and in case you couldn’t tell, I’m really into it. It’s completely changed the way I look at writing (update on my novel progress coming soon!).

In case you’re wondering where I heard about these books, two were recommended (Tipping the Velvet, Anatomy of a Story); one was from the BBC 100 list (The Shellseekers); while a whopping five I received via the Nervous Breakdown book club. If you’re not already a member, you should be! It’s just $9.99 a month and every month a good book comes to your mailbox, often an advance copy of something that’s not even out yet. If you love to read and am lazy (like me), the TNB Book Club is for you.


18
Dec 11

2011 in Retrospect: TV I’ve Loved

It’s time again for my year-end retrospects! Last year I wrote about all the TV that I loved. This year I still love TV, even more so, if that’s possible.

There are the old standbys that I still enjoy, like Dexter (which isn’t as good as it used to be but I still like it), Breaking Bad, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and all the shows on my 2010 list. There are shows I used to like but can’t stomach anymore, like Sanctuary, which while incredibly silly was at least entertaining. Now it’s unwatchable. (Unless you’re Buffy, Community, or even Scrubs, please don’t attempt a singing episode.)

There are shows I want to like but am on the fence about. I was into Hell on Wheels at first, but now I find it boring, and I can’t decide if Allan Gregory is really funny or just cruel. And there are shows I had just about given up on but seem to be reviving, like The Simpsons and The Office, resuscitated by the king of smarm, James “Robert California” (best name ever) Spader.

Then there are the shows I just plain loved. Last year I limited myself to 10, but this year I’m listing them all. Enjoy!

Bob’s Burgers. Bob’s Burgers made an appearance in my mid-year update, and I can’t wait for it to come back, which it looks like won’t be till March. GAAAAH!!! Till then I guess I’ll have to made do with clips like this:

Game of Thrones. Another mid-year mention. Since the first season ended, I’ve read the first book of the series and am more than halfway through the second, A Clash of Kings. The show did a really good show translating the books to the small screen, and in some cases, filled in character development a bit more, especially with Daenerys. We’ll have to wait till April for the second season. Here’s the trailer to tease the shit out of us:

Winter is coming.

Parks and Recreation. Yet another mid-year mention. I first tried watching this show a couple of seasons ago, and I didn’t find it funny at all. Now I think it’s freakin’ hilarious. Ron Swanson cookies, anyone?

The Killing. Dreary and disturbing, the show follows a detective as she tries to unravel the mystery surrounding a teenager’s death. People liken it to Twin Peaks, but it has none of Lynch’s surrealism and camp. Instead it’s gritty reality (or rather, damp and chilly, set in wintery Seattle) as people struggle to keep their lives together.

Being Human. Because it’s on SyFy, I thought Being Human would be dumb, but it’s not. Smart, funny, and sexy, it’s about three roommates – a vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost – trying to have normal lives. I remember seeing an episode of the original British version a while back, and till the American version came on, for the life of me couldn’t remember what the show was, and actually thought I had dreamed the whole thing. Weird!

Misfits. Speaking of British shows, Misfits is an awesome one. Imagine Heroes but not sucky, and with sometimes hard to understand British slang and accents. And nudity.

Torchwood. Another British SF show! I watched one episode a few years ago and enjoyed it, but didn’t watch it again. This year we watched the whole series, and really liked it. What’s not to love about an immortal gay time traveler and Welsh accents?

New Girl. I didn’t want to like New Girl. Everyone kept talking about how overly cute Zooey Deschanel was, and I really hate the whole manic pixie dream girl thing. But the show is really funny. Sure Deschanel is super cute but she’s also hilarious. Her delivery, her timing, her expressions. The secondary characters are funny as well, especially Schmidt, king of the douchebags.

Boardwalk Empire. This is a show that pulls no punches. Set during Prohibition times in Atlantic City, it centers on bootlegging gangsters of every type. In every episode something important happens, and these last few of the season have been FUCKED UP (in a good way), reminding me, very bloodily, that Martin Scorcese is an executive producer. Plus it has Steve Buscemi, Michael Kenneth “Omar” Williams, and this guy, who plays a very weird and repressed character but whom I’m starting to think is hot.

The League. This show is fucked up in other ways. Let’s just say there’s a lot of talk about male genitalia and the ripping open of bodily orifices. And it’s a comedy!

American Horror Story. Fucked up yet again! What’s scarier than deformed baby zombies, dissonant scratchy intro music, and a guy in a rubber suit? Not much, let me tell ya.

Revenge. My friend YP turned me onto Revenge during my NYC visit in October. A young woman returns to the chi-chi Hamptons to enact revenge on all the people who had a hand in wrongly convicting her father of a crime he didn’t commit. Revenge is a quality version of one of those 10 PM soap operas from the ’80s. The only thing I hate is that it’s on at the same time as American Horror Story so I have to wait till it comes on Hulu to watch it (the FX shows, like AHS, seem to take much longer to come to Hulu).

Grimm. Grimm is one of my new favorite shows. Set in modern-day Portland, a police detective discovers that he’s a Grimm, someone who can see fairy tale-like creatures for what they are, even in human form. Traditionally, Grimms hunt down such creatures, but instead this detective enlists the help of creatures like Monroe, a Blutbad, the big bad wolf in human form, to solve mysteries. Grimm also has excellent word play. Blutbad is German for “blood bath.” A mellifer – with meli meaning “honey” in Greek – is a bee-like creature; the queen bee is Melissa, which means “sweet like honey.” Roddy Geiger is a talented violinist, and Geiger in German means, you guessed it, “fiddler, violinist.” The only downside, it’s up against Fringe. Nooooooo!

The Layover. A new show from Anthony Bourdain. Where No Reservations is like a travel essay, giving you the whole experience of traveling, The Layover is the quick and dirty – You have 24 hours in Miami, where do you eat? – as well as hilarious and hunger-inducing. A bowl of assam laksa, stat!

Homeland. MB mentioned this show several times, but I thought it sounded boring. Boy was I wrong. Claire Danes plays a brilliant CIA agent hiding a mental illness, and Damian Lewis (Life) is a returning American POW who may or may not be a terrorist. Throughout the series, you’re never really sure who the enemy is.

Special shout-outs. Because all of this TV isn’t enough, right?

Somehow I was slow on jumping on the bandwagon that is Mad Men. It doesn’t fall into my usual favorite categories. It’s not a sitcom, animated, science fiction, fantasy, or a crime drama. Then MB and I thought we’d try an episode, and we were hooked. For a while we were watching an episode or even two a night (even more when we were hanging out at my parents’ in September) but recently we fell out of the habit. For me, the show became, “Well-dressed people doing bad things.” Not that I’m a prude, but I like to have some contrast. Anyway, I still think it’s a good show and will probably start watching it again.

Finally, when I heard that Community might be canceled, I was really bummed out and pissed. Sure, let’s keep dumb ass shows like Whitney and I Hate My Teenage Daughter, but throw out one of the funniest shows out there. Not just funny, some of its episodes are plain brilliant (the Dungeons & Dragons one especially, and the recent Christmas Glee send-up). Turns out it might not be canceled. I really hope not.

In case you think I haven’t written about TV enough, check out my bi-weekly series for Wordnik, Word Soup, which brings you strange, obscure, unbelievable (and sometimes NSFW) words from talk shows, sitcoms, dramas, and just about anything else on TV.

Next up in my 2011 retrospect series, What I Read.


31
Dec 10

2010 in Retrospect: Firsts

In 2010 I read some books, saw a few terrible movies, and watched a crapload of TV. And I also managed to experience some firsts.

First Earthquake. It was a small one, but incredibly freaky since I’ve never experienced anything like it before.  One minute, I was sitting with my coffee, the next the table started shaking. I ran into the next room, where MB jumped out of bed, and like native Californians, we stood under a doorframe.  We’ve experienced a couple of additional skakers since then, though again nothing big, and nothing like the first time.

First Yoga Class. My health was mostly good this year, except for a couple of bouts of vertigo and finding out that I have high cholesterol.  But after some at-home exercises, the vertigo went away, and I was able to vanquish my high cholesterol by adhering to a pretty strict low-fat diet (from which I’ve deviated PLENTY of times in recent months).

But the biggest change I made this year was getting more serious about yoga.  I’ve dabbled with it for about ten years, just teaching myself out of a book, but January was the first time I took a class.  And what a difference it made.  New poses, more effective positioning, and doing things I didn’t think I could ever do.  For instance, when I first started I could NOT do the Bound Extended Side Angle pose, and while it’s still a struggle, now I can actual connect my hands.  AND I can even do the bird of paradise!  I mean, I look nothing like the people in the pictures – my leg is still bent and I’m all hunched over – but I can actually stand on one foot with my hands still connected.  Progress!

And today I took an extra step and bought a proper yoga top (on sale of course).  It’ll be nice not having the collar of my sweaty shirt fall over my mouth during downward dog.

First Time Working for a Place I’m Not Ashamed Of. While working for a big corporation has its benefits (like, um, benefits, an on-site gym, being able to hide out for years in mediocrity), it’s also really cool to be able to talk about my workplace enthusiastically, to actually think it’s awesome and not just pretend it’s awesome.  To not have to be ready to defend what my company does.  And to have a job that’s actually related to writing. It’s a miracle!

First Time in Seattle. An airline was having a sale, MB used to live there, and I’ve never been so we said what the heck?  Of course it rained a lot, but we had fun eating cheap and delicious food, seeing MB’s old haunts, and hanging out with my friend from college, along with her husband and baby son, who I met for the first time. The highlight? The Seattle Underground Tour. Dank!

First Time Having all of My Maternal Family Together. Back in November, my grandmother – or Puo-puo as I called her – passed away.  She was almost 95 and had been ill for some time, but of course it was still difficult to deal with.

After flying down to LA, dealing with the funeral, flying back, then getting out to Palo Alto for the burial, we all headed to my aunt’s house nearby.  Now that everything was over, we could relax, and realized it was the first time that the entire family on Puo-puo’s side was all together – all her kids and their spouses, all the grandkids and their spouses and significant others, even the two little great-grandkids.  It was so nice hanging out with everyone, laughing at the baby, and stuffing our faces with barbecue.

Puo-puo would have loved it.

~ ~ ~

As for goals or resolutions for next year, I have none.  Or rather I have short terms goals, month by month.  I’ll talk about how that’s going in another post.


30
Dec 10

2010 in Retrospect: TV I’ve Loved

I’ve watched a lot of TV this year.  I’ve been pleasantly surprised (Gwyneth Paltrow, funny? no way!) and disappointed (Lie to Me, I’m looking at you). I’ve been shocked by cancellations (no, not Stargate Universe!) as well as by renewals (really? Human Target? and please put The Office out of its misery).  But mostly I’ve loved.  Here are just 10 TV shows I particularly enjoyed this year.

Glee. Okay, so the Britney episode was kinda disappointing (all dream sequences? lame), but then the show surprised me with an unexpectedly funny turn from Gwyneth Paltrow (whom I was more than ready to hate), the whole Kurt plotline (I don’t care what other people say, I like it), and that GORGEOUS song Rachel sang to Finn (and made me cry buckets). As long they keep surprising me, I’ll keep watching.

Justified. Timothy Olyphant in a cowboy hat. And shirtless. ‘Nuff said.

Fringe. What started as an X-Files rip-off has turned into so much more. Unlike the X-Files, Fringe’s conspiracy theory actually makes sense (within the realm of the show of course). An alternative universe bent on our universe’s destruction is the cause for much of the weirdness – and it’s an alternate universe we actually get to see (and seems to be Vancouver), unlike X-Files‘ murky alien explantation that never really got explained. Plus the whole two Olivias plot line is genius. I’m so disappointed in you, Joshua Jackson! Couldn’t you tell the difference?

But now that Fringe has been moved to the Friday night “death spot” (see the now-gone Dollhouse and the recently axed Good Guys), I’m not sure what’ll become of my beloved show.

Modern Family. Baby cheesus. That is all.

The Walking Dead. I know a show is good if it gives me nightmares.  Also, I’ve learned that I would not survive two seconds in a zombie-infested post-apocalypse. Unless I start martial arts and archery training right now.

Sherlock. A really good modern retelling with excellent acting.  A small thing I love is how they show text messages. Instead of showing a phone with a overly huge screen and a message with overly huge letters that only your grandma would need, they show they text as a sort of thought cloud.  The same with Sherlock’s actual thoughts as he’s doing his deductive reasoning thingie.  Looking forward to more episodes.

Castle. Okay, I know the plotlines are really freaking stupid and convoluted, and I could definitely live without the smarmy father-daughter-family scenes they feel the need to insert into every episode, but I love a) Nathan Fillion, b) that he’s a writer, and c) that they have real-life mystery writers guest on the show as his poker buddies.  Plus I learned something!  That people murder for only three reasons: love, money, or to cover up another crime.

Hoarders. Along with Intervention, My Strange Addiction, and Celebrity Rehab, Hoarders is one of my guilty pleasures.  So what if every episode is basically the same?  Or that the hoarding “experts” always seem annoyed and surprised when the hoarder starts to slow down the un-hoarding process? Or that they don’t seem to have any techniques for the hoarders to deal with their anxiety? (Like instead of talking at them, telling them what they should be doing, maybe at least tell them to take a few deep breaths. Count to ten. Something.) This show never fails to shock me with the amount of stuff people can collect, and to make me very very glad that I’ve no trouble throwing things away.

Next train wreck show I can’t wait to watch: Animal Hoarders.  Meooowwwrrrr!

The Wire. A late discovery on my part, The Wire makes every other cop show look sucky. Detroit 187? Lame. CSI? Can you be any more ridiculous? Unless you have someone like Nathan Fillion or are hilarious like Good Guys, don’t even bother. There’s no way you can live up to The Wire.

Set in post-9/11 Baltimore, the show follows a ragtag group of detectives (or POE-leece, as they say) as they try to take down drug gangs that have infiltrated the inner city as well as deal with their own messy lives. But we get to know a lot more than just the detectives.  There are the drug lords, lieutenants, and muscle, who have awesome names like Avon Barksdale, Stringer Bell, Slim Charles, and Proposition Joe.  There are a group of school age boys who begin as innocent kids and end up very different.  There are the dock workers, and the newspaper women and men.  There’s Omar Little, a shotgun toting Robin Hood, and Bubbles, the homeless addict with a shopping cart full of wares.

We watched all five seasons this year, and so didn’t want it to end, we dragged out the last few episodes. But now it’s over! Boohoo.

Gunslinger Girl. Another late discovery.  This Japanese anime series set in, of all places, Italy, focuses on a group of “cyborg schoolgirls,” pubescent females brought back from the brink of death to be made into, literally, killing machines.  But while they expertly wield machine guns and machetes, they’re still young girls inside.  They’re insecure and want their handlers’ approval.  They get crushes and even get their periods.

By the way, if you think Gunslinger Girl sounds a lot like Dollhouse, you’re not alone. Just to set the record straight, the anime came out several years before Joss Whedon’s ill-fated show, and quite a few Gunslinger fans accused Whedon of ripping off the manga entirely.

There are many similarities: the gunslinger girls are docile and doll-like when not killing, they have handlers, they’re run by a secret agency. But there are just as many differences – the Dollhouse “dolls” are adult males and females, are prostitutes as well as assassins, and aren’t cyborgs – but it’s obvious Dollhouse was heavily inspired by Gunslinger, if not a complete ripoff.

Of course those aren’t all the shows.  I’m also looking forward to the return of House, Community, Archer, The League, Breaking Bad, Dexter, Boardwalk Empire, and more guilty pleasures, Ghost Hunters, Sanctuary, V, and Merlin.

Hmm, maybe a New Year resolution should be to watch less TV.

Naaah.