Welcome to Pages of Fun!

This is the personal Web site of Robert Wm. Gomez. I am an artist, musician and nerd living in Chicago, Illinois who has been maintaining this site (in one form or another) since 1996. Enjoy your visit!

Forbidden Planet by Barron, Louis and Bebe (6/10)

Format: CD

This is a weird album. It is considered to be one of, if the the first record comprised entirely of electronic sounds and instrumentation (mostly oscillators and echo loops). I found out about it years ago while reading the RE/Search book Incredibly Strange Music. The "music" consists only of various electronic bleeps and bloops with no attempt at song structure, melody or anything even remotely musical. Despite this, it makes a good CD to play in the background if you just want atmosphere. It will often go into rotation for me around Halloween.

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (8/10)

Gritty crime fiction. Basically the blueprint for the entire genre. The writing and language are a tier above most of the pulp trash I've read. I wasn't blown away by the story but that's probably because this is a standard that has been repeated a zillion times afterwards.

Batman by Prince (3/10)

I think I liked the "Batdance" video on MTV back when this came out. Maybe I was just caught up in Batmania (although I don't remember loving the movie). For whatever reason, I own this universally mocked record. Listing to it again, I was hoping it would reveal itself to me as an underrated gem. Nope. It's pretty awful. I actually like the groove of "Vicki Waiting" and "Batdance" still is a fun listen, but the majority of the tracks are just too boring or too sappy.

Apple ][ Assembly Language Programming

The past few weeks I have been diving into the world of assembly language programming on the Apple ][ computer. My interest in the topic stems from the recent book release of a compilation of articles on assembly language programming called Assembly Lines: The Complete Book. The articles were written by Roger Wagner and originally published in Softalk magazine back in the early eighties. This edition was edited by Chris Torrence and is available for download and purchase from a number of locations.

Now, I am pretty familiar with Applesoft Basic programming, but I was always in awe of commercially released software on the Apple ][ that ran so fast, had fancy hi-res graphics and used sounds other than the system beep. What was the secret of these mythical programs that required you to type "BRUN" in order to get them to load? The secret was machine language.

A Golden Wake on PC (6/10)

A golden Wake... don't be deceived by this screenshot. There is no dancing in this game.

Although I'd give them props for creating a game with a truly unique theme, this Wadjet Eye adventure falls a bit flat. The game is set during the 1920's land boom of southern Florida and focuses on the player-character, Alfie Banks. Essentially it's a character study, but, unfortunately, interactive storytelling doesn't lend itself to well so such narratives. Games excel at mood and environment but creating riveting characters just doesn't seem to fit the medium all that well. Without a strong narrative plot focus (i.e. save the princess or defeat the evil villain) it's hard to justify the extra time spent clicking options and parsing dialog trees to get to the same point that a short paragraph of exposition would.

Apocalypse Now by Coppola, Carmine and Francis Coppola (9/10)

Format: CD

Not so much a soundtrack as it is an abridged version of the movie that you can listen along with, the double CD Apocalypse Now focuses on narration and dialogue instead of music. Sure there's "Ride of the Valkyries" and that stupid (aren't they all) Doors song, but for the most part the atmospheric synth sounds are limited to background here and there. That's okay by me.

1984 (For the Love of Big Brother) by Eurythmics (9/10)

Format: CD

Although technically speaking this is a soundtrack, I don't think any of these songs made it into the film 1984. That's fine. The dance floor beats don't really fit the tone of a dark and cruel dystopian future. Nevertheless, I have always really liked this CD (with the exception of the overly long "Julia"). Along with the attempts at police-state pop music, there is a nice mix of instrumentals where Lennox's voice is just there for atmospheric effect.

Martial Arts of Shaolin (8/10)

The final movie in the Dragon Dynasty Volume 1 DVD pack is probably the best of this set. The film banks heavily on the skill of its star: a very young Jet Li. Li is just so much more dynamic and skilled than most of the other martial artists in these older films. However, his skill might be a cinematic trick. It feels like they may have sped the film up for the fight sequences. In any event, this is another mostly comedic story that relies on over the top acting. Despite this, the story and character development work.

The Plainsman (2/10)

Gary Cooper stars in this black and white western about Buffalo Bill and Wild Bill Hickok. It's a very boring movie and much of the main dialogue consists of the two leads calling each other "Bill" every few seconds. There are tons of politically incorrect depictions of native Americans and hero characters defending "the white man."

Mad Monkey Kung Fu (7/10)

Mad Monkey Kung Fu is all about the acrobatic fight choreography and feel a lot like a Nineties Jackie Chan film minus the crazy stunts. There is even a bit of drunken fighting. It's a colorful film and plays as a comedy for the most part (if you can forget that the hero's wife is being held as a slave girl by the villain the entire film).

Executioners from Shaolin (7/10)

A Shaolin monk on the run vows to avenge the death of a friend and, over the course of many years, he gets married, has a girlish son, and attempts his revenge twice. Unfortunately, his white-haired nemesis Pai Mei is also a master of the tiger style and the task of vengeance falls on the aforementioned girlish son. There is a lot of humor mixed in and the husband/wife dynamics are far more interesting than the kung-fu plot. It's a fun movie but may be a bit to simplistic for my tastes.

King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow on Ms-DOS (6/10)

King's Quest VI - Pawn Shoppe

While this game was a pretty big improvement over KQV, it still was just too mired in Sierra adventure game brutality for me to really enjoy. There has been some attempt to make the puzzles a bit more forgiving here, including allowing for the player to take multiple paths to victory. I did alright through about the first third of the game then it just gets nasty.

At Home With Satan's Pilgrims by Satan's Pilgrims (7/10)

Format: CD

Competent and straightforward surf music from this Portland group. This record isn't the most exciting stuff this band has done but it has its moments. Unfortunately, most of the moments are the covers of "Mr. Moto" and "Squad Car."

Big City After Dark: Missing Links Volume 2 by Wray, Link (9/10)

Format: CD

Discogs.com has been nagging me for months that this was available for cheap from a number of resellers and completing my collection of Missing Links was just five dollars away. I got it and it is exactly what I expected: another great collection of (mostly) fuzz guitar instrumentals from the master.

Magrunner: Dark Pulse on PC (6/10)

Magrunner: Dark Pulse

This was a freebie from GOG.com that I went into knowing nothing about it. The first thing anyone who plays the game will think when they begin is, "Wow, this is a complete Portal rip-off." Then you get about halfway through an you'll think, "Wow, this really is a complete Portal rip-off!"