March 2017

Sorcerer (8/10)

The reason to watch this is the crazy pyrotechnics and stunts and gritty 70s style. Worth it for the bridge crossing scene alone. In terms of plot and characters, this movie is a bit of a failure and the nihilism of the whole final act is a real let down. Great Tangerine Dream soundtrack though.

Marxism by Thomas Sowell (4/10)

I got this as an audiobook, hoping to get a decent overview of what Marxism is without having to actually read Marx himself. Even though this was by Thomas Sowell, who usually is really insightful, I was alternately bored and confused by most of it. Marxist ideology feels like the ramblings of a pompous yet incoherent art critic.

The Music Studio Instrument Samples

Jump For LOVE!

I recently took the time to sample all of the default sounds from the Apple IIgs music composition program The Music Studio for use with my new sampler. The sounds were recorded directly out of my IIgs via an Applied Engineering sound card and into the Octatrack. I then took the WAV files into my PC and cleaned up the audio a bit. The IIgs outputs a rather noisy signal.

Blind Woman's Curse (8/10)

A surprisingly good Japanese martial arts/gangster film. The time and setting, with a mix of cars and kimonos, is a bit weird after having watched so many Hong Kong kung-fu classics. The fighting is not terribly exciting, but the story, characters and weird visuals were enough to make this enjoyable.

F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin on PC (6/10)

FEAR the blandness!
The first F.E.A.R. game did a really good job of building up the tension to provide creepy scares and atmosphere. This one is just an in-your-face string of loud, quick cuts of Alma that fire off with such regularity that they just become part of the background noise of the game. This background noise also includes the multitude of text info items you pick up and never need to read. So, as far as a horror story goes, this wasn't so great. I didn't really know or care about what was going on.

Red Steel on Nintendo Wii (5/10)

Red Steel Box ArtI think this was one of the earliest titles on the Wii, and one that was supposed to showcase the new fangled motion controls. If anything, it showcases just how infuriating the waggle controls can be. I actually like the first person shooting setup on a lot of Wii titles such as The ConduitGodleneye, and Metroid Prime. The shooting controls here a very wonky. You are required move the controller closer to the television to use gun sights and lock on to enemies. You have to waggle the nunchuck to interact with doors and objects. In both cases, just hitting a button would have probably been sufficient. To add to the problems, the game is just downright buggy with tracking aim. Often the cursor would jump to the center of the screen for now apparent reason, like it was losing connection with the wiimote. Terrible.

Quattro Mosche Di Velluto Grigio by Ennio Morricone (10/10)

Format: 
CD

I forgot how much I liked this score. I tend to only remember the prog-rockish opening number because it is such an integral part of the opening credits of the film. But of course there's the excellent "Come Un Madrigale"—perhaps, the most lovely decapitation music ever composed. The rest of the CD is rounded out with mostly standard giallo faire, but there's a tinge of 70's rock drums and screams added to the arrangements to tie everything to the movie's rock star protagonist.

L'Uccello Dalle Piume Di Cristallo by Ennio Morricone (10/10)

Format: 
CD

Morricone's subsequent Giallo soundtracks would rely heavily on improvisational and experimental music. However, this one retains quite a bit of the easy vibe found on his late sixties romantic drama scores. It's not dissonance-free, about half the tracks are free-form spaz outs, but the variety helps to make this one the best Giallo scores ever. Even the oom-pa-pa number, "Sei Sei Stonato" is great.

Eccentric Orbits: The Iridium Story by John Bloom (9/10)

Eccentric Orbits is the history of the rise, fall, and eventual rebirth of the world's first (and only) global satellite phone system. This is not the sort of book I would ever expect to like. Corporate history is not really my thing. However, this is more the story an astounding technological achievement that was almost destroyed but not for the small group of individuals who believed in it and were willing to risk millions for it.

Veruschka by Ennio Morricone (10/10)

Format: 
CD

As far as easy-listening Morricone goes, this is one of his best. There are hints of bossa nova, echo-y instruments and, of course, Edda Dell'Orso. "La Bambola," of which there are three versions represented here, is one of Ennio's finest pieces.