Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana (5/10)

This is a memoir of life aboard a merchant vessel in the early 1800's. It is also noteworthy as a glimpse California before the gold rush. The book is loaded with detail of life at sea but it becomes a bit of a slog about a third of the way through the book with its endless descriptions of tanning hides. Moby Dick it ain't.

Happy Endings by Jim Norton (6/10)

Norton is usually a very entertaining guest on whatever chat show on which he appears. However, I've watched his stand-up and it never really clicked for me. His routine, much like most of this book, is him talking very matter-of-factly about his personal perversions. I don't know. I guess observational humor about a fringe-y lifestyle is hard to relate to. I wanted to like this book but alas, it's just not my cup of pee. Puns... Now that's top-notch humor.

Grand Slam (7/10)

Grand Slam is a reasonably amusing heist film with the usual tropes of assembling of the team, a complicated heist, and the inevitable team squabbling that leads to everything falling apart. Edward G. Robinson is green screened into half the scenes in which he appears and doesn't really need to be in the movie. The soundtrack is by Morricone, but is not one that I particularly like. Way too much Brazilian festival music.

Wonder Woman (7/10)

One of the better super hero films I've seen. The limited scope of the plot helped center the focus on the characters rather than massive action sequences. I probably could do without the last twenty minutes which devolved into the usual fake CGI battle with a seemingly invincible enemy. Yet it is a battle in which there is no sense of danger or tension.

Revolver (8/10)

A euro-crime thriller/drama about a prison warden who is blackmailed into letting a prisoner escape. Boasts a wonderful score by Ennio Morricone and features the world's least intense prison escape, mountain hiking with commies, drunk acting from Oliver Reed, corrupt hippy pop-stars and a cynical ending that those life-loving Italians just go bonkers for.

Kidnap Syndicate (6/10)

A 70s euro-crime film from Italy featuring a barely-there performance from James Mason. Mason is out of the film at about the halfway point at which time it becomes a revenge story with little to no tension. The only reason to watch it is this fantastic clip of J&B delights:

Shadowgrounds: Survivor on PC (7/10)

Shadowgrounds: Survivor

The sequel to Shadowgrounds doesn't offer much new. There's the same aliens, same corny voice acting, and the same top-down shooting mechanics. However, I liked this one a bit more. This is probably due to the slightly improved control scheme. I also think the game was helped by the lack of an attempt at creating deep narrative.

Escalation by Ennio Morricone (8/10)

Format: 
CD

There is a lot of variety on this soundtrack. It feels similar to the excellent Danger: Diabolik score. But, unlike that masterpiece, none of the songs have grooves or hooks that stick with me. They are almost like ideas that were never fully developed. There is even some re-purposed music from For a Few Dollars More. All this adds up to an decent collection that is more suited for background music rather than for careful listening.

Miami Connection (7/10)

This one is mostly noteworthy for its wacky premise of new wave rock band karate masters fighting motorcycle ninjas. It's not as wild and fun as it sounds, but there is a big cheese-factor payoff in many of the scenes, especially the concert footage. Friends forever.

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