November 2014

The Blackwell Epiphany on PC (9/10)

Blackwell Epiphany

The fifth and final Blackwell game continues in the series' tradition of thoughtful and interesting adventures that are light on the puzzles and big on character interactions. Technically, the games have come a long way. The graphics are top-notch and the voice acting is much improved. The games still are running on the freeware AGS (Adventure Game Studio) platform, which has its limitations. But, for the most part, these last few games in the series have been on par with the Lucasarts games of old.

Coatings by Wire (8/10)

Format: 
CD

Coatings compiles outtakes and alternate mixes of songs from The Ideal Copy and A Bell Is a Cup... with a few Manscape outtakes. For the most part these mixes aren't drastically different than the originals. My copy includes an extra disc that contains an excellent seventeen minute version of "Ambitious."

Manscape by Wire (7/10)

Format: 
CD

The final record of their mid-eighties incarnation has Wire drifting even closer to New Order territory. It's taken me a while, but I think of have come to accept this release. It is certainly their weakest LP and a couple of songs like "Torch It" border on the unlistenable, but there are a couple of gems here.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss (6/10)

Well, this isn't the next Kingkiller book, but, fortunately, I wasn't expecting that. The author himself goes to great length to basically apologize for the book in the introduction and again at the end. I get it. It's something different. In any event, here we have the story of Auri, the girl who lives in the tunnels under the school. She's a bit looney. The book reads like a manual on obsessive compulsive disorder as she goes about making sure objects are appropriate for the spaces she puts them. Wow, sounds like an awesome idea for a story, right? Sigh.

It's Beginning to and Back Again by Wire (8/10)

Format: 
CD

This is a weird little release that contains alternative versions of many of the songs from A Bell Is a Cup and The Ideal Copy. These started of as live recordings and were then embellished in the studio. It's not an essential record, but it's worth a listen.

And Why Are You Telling Us This?

So, here we are post mid-term Republican take-over of the legislature. As one might expect, my Facebook feed been awash with bitter and angry lefty losers (Although it hasn't been quite as bad as I expected. I guess the election outcome was not much of a shock). Posts range from the typical "I don't know anyone who would have voted for these monsters" to expected sour-grapes cries of cheating, etc. Fortunately, there were none of the usual calls to violence and injury as I have seen in the past:

How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life: An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness by Russ Roberts (8/10)

In this book Roberts (of EconTalk fame) takes Adam Smith's other major work, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, and makes it understandable in a modern context. There isn't much economics here. Rather, Smith's work is essentially an Eighteenth Century self-help book that lays out theories as to why, as self-interested beings, people behave in altruistic and moral ways. At the core is the premise that we all desire to be "loved and lovely" and if we can achieve that we will find happiness.

Dead Space: Downfall (5/10)

The creators of the Dead Space series must be really proud of the little story they came up with because it feels like they have retold it like four times now. This animated film depicts the events in the Ishamura just after the marker was taken. It's filled with cliches ripped straight out of every post-Aliens sci-fi action movie and features a completely annoying and unlikable lead character. She spends the whole movie mad at everybody and acting stupid. The drawing style also looks like a modern Scooby Doo episode. Yuck.