Robert Wm. Gomez's

Connecticut Privateer Samuel Smedley by Jackson Kuhl (7/10)

A short book about a lesser known hero of the American revolution. As the captain of a Connecticut privateer vessel, Smedley captured a dozen or so prizes, ran aground, was captured twice and escaped from a British prison. It's all pretty exciting stuff, but there aren't too many first-hand accounts of the action so the book is a little sterile in its telling of the facts. I had to remind myself that this is straight up history and not an Aubry-Maturin novel.  Even so, enjoyed the book for what it was.

Gli Intoccabili by Ennio Morricone (7/10)

Format: 
CD

Gli Intoccabili opens with the tense and pounding, "Ballad of Hank McCain." It's reprised three more times on the record and I love it every time. The song feels like a spaghetti western pop song alá "Lonesome Billy" or "Keep Your Hand on Your Gun" but with a mafioso vibe. Unfortunately, a huge chunk of the record after that gets way too mellow. We're talking quiet dinner music mellow.

Revolver by Ennio Morricone (10/10)

Format: 
CD

One of three discs included on the Crime box set of Poliziotteschi soundtracks. The highlight of the soundtrack is the nine minute long "Revolver." A gritty, 70s cop show epic that is structured around a pounding piano melody that keeps building and building until the end. It's repetitive and my family hates it when this one comes up on the shuffle, but I love it!

Gli Occhi Freddi Della Paura by Ennio Morricone (8/10)

Format: 
CD

The final CD from the Fear box set is pure experimental improvisation. There isn't much method to this madness, just jazzy noise, bowed cymbals and the occasional distorted wah-wah guitar. This feels like an excerpt from the six CD set Sound Dimensions. It's great as background filler, but don't listen here if you want sweeping, epic Morricone melodies.

Il Gatto A Nove Code by Ennio Morricone (9/10)

Format: 
CD

With the exception of the title song, "Ninna Nanna In Blu," all of the tracks on this CD are solid Morricone thriller ambiance. Most of the experimental sounds are backed by jazzy, repeating bass riffs and brushed snare. Unlike his more avante-garde compositions, there are lots of recurring motiffs and themes to hold everything together. There is something about the tone that's very Scooby Doo mystery sounding. This would be great music for sneaking around a creepy old cemetery.

The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture by David Mamet (7/10)

Mamet's political coming out book doesn't offer much new insight into conservatism. Instead it cribs a lot from Thomas Sowell and other prominent conservative thinkers. He even goes so far as to restate Sowell's ideas of the "constrained vision" almost verbatim. Large sections of the book seem to be rooted in his defense of the state of Israel. If anything, what Mamet brings to the discussion is his colorful and often dense style of prose.

Una Lucertola Con La Pelle Di Donna by Ennio Morricone (10/10)

Format: 
CD

This was perhaps one of the first non-Spaghetti Western Morricone soundtrack that I discovered and it remains one of my favorites. The title track is a stirring, swelling masterpiece. The rest of the disc contains the type of experimental noise collages featured in most of Morricone's giallo scores, but, in this case, they're grounded and grooved out with rhythmic drums and funky bass lines. The style plays well with the film's theme of killer hippies and drugged out parties.

Super Metroid on SNES (9/10)

Super Metroid

We never owned a Super Nintendo so I never got around to playing the 16-bit incarnation of Metroid. Well, thanks to the Wii Virtual Console I have finally crossed this one off my list. These days I am much more familiar with the 3-D versions of the game and, even though I played it back in the day, I don't really have too much nostalgia for the NES version. There were some really frustrating moments of platforming incompetence on display as I made my way around the planet, but I eventually got the hang of the floaty physics and stuck it through all the way to the final boss battle.

Kathy Rain on PC (7/10)

Kathy Rain

Kathy Rain is a point and click adventure which uses the same AGS engine that all the games from Wadjet Eye games use. Visually it's as impressive as the best games in this niche. The Wadjet connection goes a little further in that all the voice over direction was done by Dave Gilbert. Unlike his games, here there is no commentary track filled with gushing praise of New York based voice actors. Thank goodness.