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.

Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri on PC (6/10)

Planet Boring

This game was a $5 budget CD when I bought it over a decade ago at CompUSA but I never got around to playing it until now. I have seen it rated on several lists as one of, if not the best strategy game of all time. I can see why it has its reputation. There is a ton of depth in the technology trees and every aspect of the game can be micro-managed to you heart's delight. The early stages of the game are fun as you explore the planet and set up your first bases. However, gradually the game becomes and overly-complex and tedious exercise in unit management. 

Slalom by Ennio Morricone (7/10)

Format: 
CD

I like this soundtrack well enough, but it doesn't have any of the jazzy or avante-garde elements of my favorite Morricone scores. It feels like a fairly normal sixties soundtrack in the vein of Nelson Riddle. The vocal parts in the main title are fun and keep this from being a total bust. This is part of the Maestro box set.

La Donna Invisibile by Ennio Morricone (10/10)

Format: 
CD

A very mellow, bossa nova tinged soundtrack from a film I've never seen. It includes the fantastic "La Moda" which is a jangly, foot-tapping pop number and one of Morricone's finest moments. This CD was part of the excellent Maestro box set from Dagored.

The Stanley Parable on PC (6/10)

Choose boredom path A, or boredom path B

Another arty walking simulator for the PC. This one is all about the nature of choice and free will within a game world. You play Stanley, an office worker who finds that everyone in his office is gone. The game is dominated by an often funny narration that tries to get you to follow the "correct" path. The whole point here is that every time you think you are subverting the game but straying from the correct path, the narrator explains how your choices don't matter. Ha ha. ART! A fine exercise but definitely not worth more than a couple of bucks or an hour of your time.

Black Rednecks & White Liberals by Thomas Sowell (8/10)

A collection of six lengthy essays on race, history and misconceptions. The "Black Rednecks" essay is probably the most important of the lot. In it Sowell demonstrates that much of what we stereotype as black cultural norms are actually the continuation of Scotch/Irish herder culture. The key to improving their lot in life is replacing this culture with one that embraces learning and puts aside the misguided tropes of honor culture.

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