POF Archive: January 2011

I have been writing this drivel for decades. Browse through my archives by clicking the links below.

Tron Legacy (6/10)

A lot of nerds were really excited by the prospect of a Tron sequel. What they all seemed to fail to take in to account was that the original Tron was a horrible bore. The sequel is, of course, a much more "exciting" film (one could argue that the T.V. Guide channel is more exciting than the original Tron). It also has all the CGI improvements you would expect from a modern film . Every frame of the digital world is a beautifully composed neon painting. However, the story is flatter than something that's really flat and the characters are equally dimensionless. I found myself unable to follow…

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Mon, 01/31/2011 - 12:46

The Coug

This is a drawing from my sketchbook that I did when I probably should have been working. John "Cougar" Mellencamp as a vigalante hero. We went hunting for The Coug when we visited Bloomington, Indiana several years ago and spotted him zooming by in a convertable Porsche. A rare Coug sighting indeed.

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Sat, 01/29/2011 - 13:52

Metroid Prime Trilogy on Nintendo Wii (9/10)

Metroid Prime Trilogy Cover

After many months of playing I have finally finished all three of the games included in this excellent limited edition box-set. The game(s) come in a nice metal tin with a clear plastic outer sleeve. Normally, I don't care too much about this sort of thing, but it was a nice surprise when I first opened the package to find that they put a little thought into the design. Apparently, this is out-of-print and now fetches prices near $100 on Amazon (when I got it, it was $25, new).

The set contains three games: Metroid Prime, Metroid Prime: Echoes and Metroid Prime: Corruption. The the first…

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Tue, 01/25/2011 - 15:01

Twelve Winds
POLES, tHE - CD (9/10)

Twelve Winds is much like their As Above, So Below EP but with more songs! (They must have learned from the tragic mistakes of Five Flags Amusement Park: more flags = more fun) Actually, the songs here tend to be a tad bit more mellow than the ones on the EP so I tend to gravitate towards the EP rather than this CD, but I really like the title track and there are a couple of others that are almost as good.

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Fri, 01/21/2011 - 11:51

As Above, So Below
POLES, tHE - CD (9/10)

The capitalization challenged tHE POLES are one of the few bands that Nonagon has played with that I actually really like. This six-song EP features more-or-less standard underground rock songs, but what I think what differentiates them for me is the gruff vocals, varied dynamics within the songs and a driving low-end. Or perhaps maybe I am just responding positively to an early 90s post-punk vibe that I am detecting.

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Fri, 01/21/2011 - 11:36

The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson (9/10)

The Hero of Ages picks up a year or so after the events of The Well of Ascension. This final volume of the Mistborn series is very similar to its predecessor in that much of the book deals with a city under siege (only seen from the other side). Also, like the previous books, chapters begin with a bit of text from an unnamed document. However, in this case, the blurbs refer directly to the event you are reading about in a way that sort of deflated my anticipation of the series' climax. Despite this, the conclusion is satisfying even though it leans more towards the mystical, fantasy side of…

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Wed, 01/19/2011 - 11:05

Dead Space on PC (8/10)

Dead Space - Arrrrgh!!!!

Aim for the arms! Aim for the arms, dammit! Ever since I installed my completely unnecessary 5.1 surround audio speakers to my PC, I have been looking for a game that would really take advantage of this set up. Dead Space has some really great sound design and what better way to have creepy sounds erupt behind you than with a dark, creepy horror game. Through the game I was, for lack of a better term, surrounded with the creaking, groaning and buzzing sounds of the spaceship Ichimura and would occasionally start at the sound of something scuttling behind me.

The gameplay itself is a bit…

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Fri, 01/14/2011 - 23:10

Planet P Project
Planet P Project - CD (2/10)

If you weren't born before 1980 you may not remember this, but there was a time, early on in the CD era, when an album's mere existence on CD was novel thing. During this early period I bought quite a few CDs just because they were there. I remembered Planet P's video for "Why Me?"’the one where an astronaut's head explodes into a shower of confetti’and vaguely recollected liking the song. I decided to give this CD a try. What a piece of crap. I'm guessing that Mr. P was a washed-up member of some boring 70s arena rock outfit who decided to go solo and experiment with synthesizers and other…

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Fri, 01/14/2011 - 10:47

The Green Slime (6/10)

This is a late sixties Japanese monster movie but it stars mostly Western actors. The rubber-suit monsters, space ships and other effects are cheesy, ridiculous and are probably the main reason a bad movie affecionatto would watch this. However, the acting seems sincere and there is actually a decent attempt at story and character development. The title song is a great little blast of prog-rock psychedelica that is completely out of place with the film.

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Wed, 01/12/2011 - 10:56

Bosa Nova
Pixies - CD (6/10)

And so begins the steady demise of Pixies. This is where the band completely lost hold of any punk roots it may have had and succumbed to the pop mind-control gods. I think I like about four of the fourteen tracks on this record, and one of those is a cover. I remember the follow up record was better, but after Bosa Nova I didn't have the heart to buy another Pixies record.

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Sat, 01/08/2011 - 18:11

Doolittle
Pixies - CD (9/10)

Like most non-hipsters in the late eighties, this was my introduction to the Pixies. I think majority of people consider this their best album, but I find it gets a little boring on the second side. Still, the high points on this record are probably the best tracks the band ever recorded. I tend to prefer Surfer Rosa for its punk edge, but this one almost as good.

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Sat, 01/08/2011 - 18:06

Surfer Rosa
Pixies - CD (10/10)

The Pixies finest recording. Great raw, live-sounding production by Abini. Many people like Dolittle better than this, but I prefer this one because it is much more punk-sounding a feels a bit more consistent to me.

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Fri, 01/07/2011 - 12:31

Usabilty Testing

This is a relatively quick illustration I just did for document on design usabilty testing. I thought it turned out pretty well. I am probably breaking some sort of nondisclosure agreement by posting this, so don't talk about Fight Club, okay?

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Wed, 01/05/2011 - 10:01

Puzzle Agent on iPad (7/10)

Puzzle Agent: Tethers Sharpens a PencilThis is one of the first games I bought for my new iPad tablet. Puzzle Agent is essentially a clone of Professor Layton from the Nintendo DS. Like that game, it is a collection of puzzles thinly veiled as a point-and-click adventure. Also, both games sport a unique art styles and interesting storylines. However, the puzzles, which I would consider the meat of this type of game, are pretty weak. With only one or two exceptions, they are just too easy. Too often the puzzles are literal jigsaw-type puzzles that stick themselves together making solving them just a matter of shaking the pieces…

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Mon, 01/03/2011 - 12:24

Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess on Nintendo Wii (9/10)

Twilight Princess CoverI have written about The Ocarina of Time on this Web site before. That game is considered one of the best games ever, and I don't dispute that assertion. Twilight Princess is nearly as good. In fact, it is practically the same game... or at least that's what it feels like. Now, lack of originality isn't necessarily a bad thing in this case. Nintendo has been able to play with the zany Zelda mechanics in their DS versions of the series, and quite frankly, they don't work quite as well as the tried and true format laid out back on the N64.

On the Wii the formula is kept fresh with improved…

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Mon, 01/03/2011 - 00:18

2010 Best of the Year

Well it's the first day of the New Year. This day means different things to different people. For my wife it means washing off the post-New-Year's-Eve-bash Sharpie moustache that she woke up with this morning. For me it means it's time to assess what I thought was the best of the media I consumed this past year.

Movies

Like last year, there really wasn't anything that truly amazed me this year. My best rated films were Moon and The Maltese Falcon. I watched more T.V. than I have in recent years, so I suppose I could add Lost, V or The Walking Dead as honorable mentions.

Books

Towards the second half of the year I started reading a bit more than usual and found several books truly grabbed me in ways that no movie or show did this year. If I had to pick a favorite from this year it would be…