Robert Wm. Gomez's

The Gay Detective by Lou Rand (7/10)

A short, fun read with a simple plot and one-dimensional characters, but that should go without saying for just about any vintage pulp from the same era. This exists mostly as an window into how outsiders might have viewed early 60s gay subculture at the time. To keep it safe, most of the risque moments in the story are strictly of a hetero variety. Kudos to the author for inventing several dozen unique ways to use the word "gay" as a descriptor throughout the book.

21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari (4/10)

Apparently everything is going to kill us. There are a handful of insights among the doom and gloom, but mostly this is a litany of sci-fi catastrophes. Catastrophes that will probably never happen because these sorts of predictions never do. Time exists and humans adapt. Besides, never trust an author who attributes just about every issue to living in a post Trump/Brexit world of uncertainty.

Wolfenstein 3D on MS-DOS (6/10)

Wolfenstein 3D

As with most of the great shareware titles of the 90s, I played the free episode of Wolfenstein 3D a gazillion times but never bothered to buy the complete package. Once again with thanks to GOG.com I have been able to finally complete in its entirety. This is the progenitor of first-person shooters and the basic game mechanics are still pretty solid. Its main problem is that of repetitiveness. There are only four kinds of enemies to fight. That isn't including the bosses at the end of every episode which all have a unique sprite and some even have an elaborate death sequence:

Wolfenstein Death Cam

But even those bosses all kinda fight in the same manner.

Beneath a Steel Sky on MS-DOS (5/10)

Beneath a Steel Sky

I think this is considered by many to be one of the best point and click adventure games of the early nineties. I can see why people remember it fondly. The cyberpunk setting is unique (if you don't count Neuromancer or just about every CD-ROM title from the same era), the production is impressive, and the game is massive for a point and click. At the time of this writing it is still offered as a free game on GOG.com. Unfortunately, I felt it to be a bit too oblique and meandering.

Liberalism by Ludwig von Mises (6/10)

Short overview of the basics of classical liberalism with nary a reference to praxeology.

Serious Sam 2 on PC (6/10)

Serious Sam 2

The original Serious Sam became an unexpected hit when it received the approval of Old Man Murray. While other games were trying to be dark and mature, Serious Sam reveled in pure, goofy run-and-gun action. It was like Duke Nukem if it was made by a backwoods folk artist. This sequel is somewhat of a technological upgrade, but the art design still looks like the work of someone just learning how to use 3-D Studio Max, and that is the game's charm. The enemies range from run-of-the-mill space marines to exploding clowns to giant cigar smoking mechanical T-rexes.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword on Nintendo Wii (8/10)

Skyward Sword Box Art

Well, this is a Zelda game. The formula has remained unchanged ever since The Ocarina of Time. The princess has been abducted and you must work your way through the various dungeons one-by-one, collecting a new power in every dungeon. Each game in the series introduces a new game-play element. In the case of Skyward Sword that is its (supposedly) precise motion controls.

Skyward Sword requires the use of the Wii MotionPlus controller. While it's definitely an improvement over other games that have tried to use the standard WiiMote as a sword, you still end up just flailing your arms like an idiot. The key here is to realize that the game is forgiving enough to allow you actually to take your time and be precise for many of the bigger battles.

Snake Eyes (7/10)

The story is implausible and Nick Cage is as ridiculous as ever, but the stylish direction makes this an entertaining thriller. It opens with a ten minute long shot and keeps bouncing back to that same moment in the plot to show different perspectives. Once the baddies are established things quickly fall apart but by then I was invested in whatever little plot there was.

The Wood and the Graver: The Work of Fritz Eichenberg by Fritz Eichenberg (9/10)

My copy was bought used and man-o-man does it smell musty. The odor is, at best, like a stack of old newspapers in the dampest bayou floodplain basement, or, at worst, the bouquet of the finest Trader Joe's wine. I'm not sure if the author's intent was make his readers recoil in disgust, but, if it was, mission accomplished. Okay, it's unfair for me to judge a book by the way it smells, and, as we all know, a book's scent is not set by the author. It's set by the publisher. Damn you Crown Publishers, Inc.!

Shirley Temple and the Screaming Specter by Kathryn Heisenfelt (5/10)

This is a strange old book. It's a Nancy Drew style mystery but the main character is a teen-aged Shirley Temple. Characters in the book recognize her as the famous entertainer and then it's never mentioned again. There's one instance in the book where, in order to escape a desperate situation, she needs to utilize skills she had learned sitting in the make-up chair. This is just weird concept. The mystery itself is not that deep and Shirley isn't even the one who solves it. The whole plot about a haunted lake might have been the impetus of her investigation, but it's soon forgotten.