Robert Wm. Gomez's

December 2010

The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson (9/10)

Book two in the Mistborn series continues this the storyline directly after the climactic events of the first novel. This one is on par with that story. It may lack the more instinctually satisfying "kill the main bad guy" over-arching plot, but the characters continue to grow and the writing may even be a bit better here. The Mistborn are like Jedi, but Sanderson does a great job laying out the ground rules for how their powers work.

Racing the Beam by Nick Montfort and Ian Bogost (9/10)

Racing the Beam is a fairly accessible look at the technology behind the Atari 2600 video game console. Apparently the 2600 was an incredibly very difficult system for which to write programs. Basically, it was designed to handle Pong and Combat style games. The fact that games as complicated and awesome as Pitfall! and Yar's Revenge were developed on a system that supported a background, 2 sprites, 2 missiles and a "ball" gives you new appreciation for the games on the system. Okay, E.T.

In Fifty Years We'll All Be Chicks by Adam Carolla (8/10)

I decided to try this one out on a whim. I like Adam Carolla and his humor translated pretty well into book form (although I would much rather hear him tell these stories as a monologue or audiobook). I found myself laughing out loud quite a few times. He jumps from subject to subject and off into tangents so it's a good book to just pick up and read from any point.

Devil Born Without Horns by Michael A. Lucas (9/10)

Michael Lucas is best known as the schtick-loving bassist of The Phantom Surfers. This book was self-published under his own Rudos and Rubes monicker. The cover of this book makes it look like it's some sort of hard-boiled crime thriller. But, while the crime element eventually comes into play, the story mostly revolves around the protagonist's relationship with the dysfunctional employees at the high-end furniture store for which he works. The book is darkly comic and is filled with many strange and vivid characters.

Black Mama White Mama (7/10)

And here we go again with what I thought was going to be another sleazy women in prison movie. To my surprise, the prison portion of the film is only the first fifteen minutes or so. What this really is is a women on the run movie. You know the kind that got parodied in cartoons all the time where the two main characters dislike each other but happen to be chained together as they try to escape. This was another sleazefest that turned out to have a rather engaging and dark plot. The supporting cast of thugs, cops and revolutionaries add to the fun and the climax pulls no punches.

Women in Cages (6/10)

This was another grind house era women in prison movie. I suppose the twist here is that Pam Grier is the bad guy in this one. Despite the obvious sleeze factor here, I found this to actually be a rather well plotted and entertaining film. The acting is, hands down, some of the worst I have seen... And I have seen Troll 2. Nonetheless, I like this one.

Upgrade Downgrade

My first pure-computer music CD, The Exciting Sounds of a Compaq P133, was followed by a four-song EP entitled, Upgrade Downgrade. For these songs I had a much better handle on the technology and thus the sound is much more clean. I never really had an official release—with covers and all—for this batch of tracks. I tended to burn them as bonus tracks when ever I gave someone a copy of P133. So, consider this the belated debut.

The Exciting Sounds of a Compaq P133

I have always liked to create music on computers. Back in the Apple ][+ days I made quite a few annoying musical ditties with The Music Construction Set and this continued into the Apple ][gs days. My software was never really sophisticated enough until I discovered tracking and mods when I upgraded to Windows 95. After a few years of noodling around, I finally had enough material to release a CDs worth of my electronic music, The Exciting Sounds of a Compaq P133.

All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (5/10)

This was a slight twist on a typical teen slasher movie. A very, very slight twist which you will see coming from a million miles away. These are some of the most grating, annoying and dumb film teenagers since Hostel. Hostel at least made you root for the frat-boys, despite their dickheadedness, with pure adrenaline infused tension. This movie just lumbers along with no suspense or horror to drive the plot along. Better casting may have made this one work, but, as it is, yawn.

The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie (6/10)

Once again, I am off in search of fantasy books to match the greatness of the A Song of Fire and Ice series. Amazon seemed to think this book was up to the challenge, so I decided to give it a try. While it has some of the gritty edge of Martin's books, this novel really fell short. The plot is at times very dull and lacks any sort of larger story arc that one would expect from an epic trilogy. Most of the time is spent establishing the characters.

Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus (5/10)

This film was next in line in my recent rash of bad movies: Troll 2... Birdemic. Unlike those Legendary crap fests, this made-for-TV feature is a little too self aware. Sure the stilted love affair between Debbie Gibson and the Japanese scientist is epic, and the submarine battles defy all logic, but there is just a general lack of enthusiasm from the cast which keeps this from being at the same level of cheese as Plan 9, Birdemic, and the like.

Whip and the Body (8/10)

I finally got around to watching this highly regarded Mario Bava film and it is definitely one of his better efforts. I am not sure I love it as much as some his other films, but his work tends to grow on me with subsequent viewings. There is a lot to like about the style in this movie. The colored lighting and mood is, as usual, fantastic. Christopher Lee's hands should get a lifetime acheivement award at the next Oscars.

Megamind (6/10)

A typical post-Shrek CGI animated feature. This was the first modern 3-D movie I have seen in the theater. 3-D doesn't add much at all except in making the glass look more realistic and substantial. The character design is awful, especially for the Megamind character himself—looks like a Star Trek alien design as imagined by an 11-year old fan. The story is cliche but entertaining. If I see another computer animated cartoon that ends with a pop song and dance number I'm throwing my 64oz drink at the projection booth.