POF Archive: June 2019

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

Layers of Fear on PC (4/10)

Layers of Dolls

Another walking simulator but this time with a horror theme. The whole point of this "game" is to make your way through an old haunted house and get hit with a jump scare every four minutes. At first this is very thrilling. After the fiftieth time, not so much. Technically there are about three puzzles in the game. Mostly you encounter a lock, look around the room, get hit with a jump scare, and then see the combination in the aftermath. On top of this, the story is lame and required too much effort searching around for notes and clues for me to care. Glad I didn't have to pay for this one.

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Sun, 06/30/2019 - 09:45

Daughters of Darkness (9/10)

Daughters of Darkness rivals Argento's best work from the 70s in terms of style and design. Every frame is a masterpiece of bold colors (mostly red) and stark composition. Even the plain Helvetica opening credits are a visual treat. The story doesn't quite hold up to the visuals, but it had enough going for it to keep me interested. Despite the vampire elements, this is definitely not a horror movie. It would make a nice double feature with The Duke of Burgundy.

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Wed, 06/26/2019 - 15:16

Public Opinion by Walter Lippmann (4/10)

I agreed with many of his main points on stereotyping, democracy, propaganda, and the inability for a potential voter to actually understand beyond their personal realm. But, man-o-man, this is not what I would call a "fun" read. Lots of 1920s news references and lots of rambling prose. I know I'm not the target audience here, but geez liven it up Walter. For what it's worth, the book was very Hayekian in it's view of the limits of knowledge. The final section puts forth the idea of establishing another layer of government called "intelligence agencies" which would independently gather "facts"…

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Tue, 06/25/2019 - 18:43

The Shadow Boxing (6/10)

A supposed sequel to The Spiritual Boxer which I've seen but never posted a review. Both movies are comedies but this one is really ridiculous. This is the first Chinese hopping vampire movie I've ever watched. As far as movie monsters go, they're probably the lamest ever imagined. Just weird and goofy. If you can look past the bonkers premise, it's entertaining as far as these things go. Gordon Liu is an added bonus.

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Sun, 06/23/2019 - 20:04

The Witness on PC (9/10)

The Witness

The Witness is from the same developer who created the superb Braid. It feels like a cross between that game and Myst. Once again the game play centers around puzzle solving, but instead of time manipulation, you are solving mazes. I know what your thinking, "Mazes? Are you kidding me. Ever since the 'Twisty maze of passages, all alike' mazes have been the bane of every video gamer's existence." At first I thought the same thing. The first dozen puzzles are so easy that I assumed this was just going to be another boring walking simulator with challenges thrown in just to extend the experience…

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Sun, 06/23/2019 - 15:07

The Dragon Missile (7/10)

Like The Flying Guillotine, the title here refers to a deadly decapitation weapon. The dragon missile is two boomerang swords that spin, hover and grind their way through stone, trees and skulls. Lo Lieh is at the center of the story and it's unclear as to whether or not he's the bad guy or a good guy trapped in a bad job. That is until his cuts off his mother's head. From then on, seemingly minor characters are now the heroes as they try to enact revenge. The story has a weird structure, but it's pretty simple and it keeps the stakes high as character's heads get sheared off one-by-one.

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Fri, 06/21/2019 - 14:42

Tales of the Peculiar by Ransom Riggs (6/10)

I went into this book knowing nothing of the many Mrs. Peregrine books/movies/after-dinner mints. Unless Shirley Temple is the main character, I'm not one for reading YA fiction. These stories are decidedly Shirley Temple-free, and, as such, lack any references to The Good Ship Lollipop. There are a few ships in it, and for the most part they are good-ish. The rest of the book is comprised of a dozen or so wacky fables which involve various "peculiar" characters. They were okay as far as these things go.

I bought this mostly because of Andrew Davidson's excellent wood engraved illustrations…

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Tue, 06/18/2019 - 12:35

House of Traps (5/10)

An average and confusing Shaw Bros. film. I guess this is a continuation of the Deadly Venoms franchise? The titular House of Traps isn't that impressive. Only 4 traps! I couldn't really tell who was who. Only redeeming part is an over-the-top nail-bed torture scene.

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Mon, 06/17/2019 - 22:42

A Story About My Uncle on PC (7/10)

They was shootin' lazers!!!!

A Story About My Uncle is a game based entirely around a single game mechanic, a grappling beam. Players shoot a beam at a distant surface, they are pulled towards the target, and then they must use inertia and timing to fling themselves towards their goal. That's about it. We've seen this before in just about every Zelda game, so this is nowhere near as revolutionary as the one-mechanic behind the extraordinary Portal.  Still, when it clicks, swinging across a map and carefully timing your shots can be thrilling.

The game has a kid-friendly feel in its bedtime story tone and non-violent…

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Sat, 06/15/2019 - 11:19

"March of the Mustard King" Official Video

20 years ago this month I released an album's worth of computer music. If you weren't one of the lucky 3 people who got a CD, this is what you missed. Last night I made an *official video* for the song "March of the Mustard King." This was pre-Garage Band. Back when making songs on a computer was like watching the code of the Matrix scroll by. Music by nerd(s), for nerds.

How to Import Books to an iPad 1 (Without iTunes)

Update (June 2020): All of the sudden, iTunes started supporting books on the iPad 1 again so this article is mostly moot. I leave it here for posterity.

Apple has a history of abandoning users whenever they introduce a new product to the market. This wasn't always the case. The Apple IIgs, despite its 16-bit architecture, allowed for most of the old 8-bit Apple ][ software to run on the new system. However, since the introduction of OSX, the attitude  has been, "Deal with it old-timers. We know what's best for you."

I am the proud owner of a first generation iPad 1. I use it to play music and read eBooks. It performs these two tasks as well as any modern iPad or iPhone does. Alas, in their attempt streamline the software, Apple removed to ability to transfer PDFs and eBooks to an…

Savage Streets (6/10)

Sleazy revenge movie with a heavy dose of mid-eighties fashion cheese. This could be a much higher rated movie but it handles the violence against its women characters in with a tone that suggests titillation rather than horror. It's completely off. The final revenge scenes are actually handled very well (despite Linda Blair's terrible performance).

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Tue, 06/04/2019 - 09:07

Beyond the Black Rainbow (3/10)

I really did not like this movie at all. I was really excited to watch it. The still frames I saw beforehand looked awesome. Unfortunately, most of the movie is barely in-focus close-ups and mumbled dialogue. The plot is largely incoherent and the aforementioned mumbling doesn't help. None of this is a show stopper, but, on top of all that, it's just boring. A sad attempt at being artsy. I hope Mandy is better.

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Tue, 06/04/2019 - 08:31

Eye of the Beholder II: The Legend of Darkmoon on MS-DOS (8/10)

EOB2 Elephant-looking thing

Time to break out that pad of graph paper again and start charting the depths of nerd-dom. Eye of the Beholder II is not a drastic departure from the click-frenzy gameplay of the first game. It does do a much better job at injecting story elements into the experience via wonderfully rendered cut scenes:

Help a brother out!

There was a point fairly early in the game where I was being attacked by endless hordes of skeleton warriors. I almost gave up, until I realized that resting the party was causing them to keep respawning. Once past that bottleneck, the game progressed at a nice pace.

The whole idea of…

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Sun, 06/02/2019 - 22:53

The Wind Rises (5/10)

This has to be the worst Studio Ghibli film I've seen. Of course it's beautiful, but if it wasn't for the craftsmanship of the animation, this would a forgotten bit of melodramatic film making.

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Sat, 06/01/2019 - 19:34