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!

Junkie! by Jonathan Craig (8/10)

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This was a PlanetMonk Kindle reprint of a 50s pulp novel. I was expecting tons of scary drug use but the whole “junkie” thing doesn’t really play a big part. There’s a murder and the main suspect is our protagonist’s girl, the titular junkie. This story oozes with smoky, drunk jazz atmosphere. I almost finished this one wanting to listen to jazz, but my willpower against annoying music is strong.

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie (9/10)

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I read this knowing the ending but I still think it is a top-tier Poirot mystery. The confined setting means there isn’t any jumping around to locations, just a series of interviews and the analysis of clues. Everything is laid out for the reader in an orderly fashion and when the killer was finally revealed I felt like I had actively participated in the investigation.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (7/10)

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The skillful and clever style of this movie has become an aesthetic touchstone for just about every gaming YouTuber on the planet. I, however, quickly became quite annoyed by it. The lead character being a whiney, annoying dick didn’t help endear me either. I guess the point of the whole thing is his redemption, but I didn’t care. I wanted to see him defeated the whole time. All this isn’t to say the movie’s not fun, it’s just a bit too much for my grumpy, millennial-despising demeanor.

Prey on PC (6/10)

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Prey takes a very ambitious approach to game play. There are always multiple paths towards achieving your goals and this goes beyond the standard stealth vs. guns blazing options. You can stack objects to get anywhere within the sizable, open environments. At times, this feels like cheating but there are sections that require it. Also, as an appeal to psychopaths, you can also kill any NPC you meet. I’m not sure if it’s possible to kill your way into an unwinnable state but I wasn’t about to waste my time trying. The problem with all this freedom is that half the time I really didn’t know what I was supposed to be doing. There are tons of special abilities you can unlock but they aren’t really required to do anything so I was never compelled to try any of them out.

The story is just as open as and free flowing as the environments. I found myself inundated with reams of boring backstory and world-building via various NPC e-mails and books. This has become a common story-telling trope that I am seriously sick of. This ain’t Zork and I want to live in this world and not read about it while monsters are cloaked and hidden everywhere. Despite all these attempts at fleshing out the universe, the story feels half-done and never really grabbed me.

Throughout the first half of the game I found myself getting beaten down constantly. Your character is so weak compared to the enemies and there is no proper tutorial explaining how you can use stealth and the objects lying around to your advantage. Maybe I just suck at this game, but I was constantly on the verge of rage quitting every ten minutes or so. I can’t say I completely hated the experience. When I did manage to defeat a particularly tough enemy in an unusual way it was quite satisfying but that wasn’t enough for me to recommend this game.

Venus in Furs (8/10)

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I have had this on DVD for quite some time now and am re-watching it after noticing I never gave it a proper review here. The big takeaway is that this movie is beautiful. Every frame is composed perfectly and there is a deliberate use of bright red in a corner of every scene. It’s like the whole movie was shot in Twin Peak’s Black Lodge. The visuals are complemented by a laid-back and jazzy score by Manfred Mann. Again the Twin Peaks comparisons apply here as well. The story itself is a bit undercooked, barely coherent, and relies too heavily on James Darren’s “Man, it was a trippy scene, ya dig!” narration to tie it all together. Coherence is not the point here. Just sit back, turn off your brain, and enjoy the mellow dreamscapes.

The Stranger by Albert Camus (7/10)

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A short, quick read that goes by even faster because of the blunt writing (or blunt translation as the case may be). A guy’s mother dies, he meets a girl, makes a friend, kills an Arab, is sentenced to die, the end. I guess the point here is that no matter how crazy life is, sit back and appreciate the absurdity of it all and go on living. I don’t know, there’s probably more to it than that but I’m no scholar.

Lady of the Lake by Andrzej Sapkowski (7/10)

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The final Witcher book is a solid conclusion to the series but doesn’t quite stand up to the previous two entries. When it’s focused on one of the main characters it chugs along nicely. Every couple of chapters is a long diversion into background events that are important but draw the reader too far away from the main story. There’s also a series of time/space twists that come off as a bit cheesy and distracting to me. But all-in-all I like the climax and the final twist (which I should have known from the game, but totally forgot).