Robert Wm. Gomez's

Empire of Lies by Andrew Klaven (7/10)

I like Andrew Klaven. His Klaven on the Culture videos are good natured and entertaining little bits of political satire that I will always watch regardless of the topic. Empire of Lies is a thriller which attempts to take on political correctness in our post 9/11 world. Klaven's approach to the problem is to cast against type and make the protagonist an un-ironic born again Christian (with a somewhat unholy past). He soon finds himself confronting his past and getting caught up with a bunch of islamic terrorists.

The Cult of the Presidency: America's Dangerous Devotion to Executive Power by Gene Healy (6/10)

This book analyzes America's proclivity towards an ever expansive and powerful executive branch—admittedly not the most exciting read. As one might expect, there's plenty in here documenting the post 9/11 Bush White House's power grabs. That's fine, but I was expecting it to delve a little more deeply into public expectations of our Presidents. Do you really think the guy sitting in the Oval Office can create jobs? Change gas prices? End our social ills?

The Adventures of Hercules (6/10)

This movie is part of a DVD double feature with the amazing Hercules. See my review of that film for my take on its awesomeness. The sequel seems like it is just as low-budget and cheesy-good as the first but it does not entertain the way Hercules does. There is a heavy reliance on re-purposed assets, and boring hand-drawn animation in lieu of practical effects. It's like bad CGI from before when there was CGI.

Greenberg (7/10)

Sure there are a few laughs, but, for the most part, Greenberg is a drifting, plotless character study of a really unlikable guy. The title character is played by Ben Stiller. Stiller for me, like Robin Williams, is always difficult to accept in non-comedic roles (Oh my god, Mork was the real killer!). I was able to look beyond the questionable casting because the film comes across as a mild indictment of hipsterism and self centered slackers.

Rec 2 (7/10)

The first Rec was both a very good as "zombie" movie and for being a "found footage" film. You never thought that these people under duress were silly for continuing to film themselves being attacked and killed. Rec 2 also does a good job explaining the cameras with Aliens style military helmet cams. In a pretty cool way, the film picks up literally right after the events of the first movie. Much of the suspense and tension is dependent on you having seen the first film and knowing what is lurking in that penthouse apartment.

Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss (9/10)

Book two in this excellent series is just about as good as the first. The story picks up right where we left off last time and, if I had any sort of complaint, it is that it is more or less exactly the same as The Name of the Wind for the first third. But this is necessary to keep the plot moving forward. The story then makes an abrupt change and you are introduced to a whole new batch of interesting characters and places. Again the writing is excellent and keeps you turning the pages and wanting more.

Junior Citizen by Poster Children (10/10)

Format: 
CD

This is Poster Children at their very best. After pretty much defining the drone-tastic Champaign-Urbana style of the early 90's, they began to adopt a new wave aesthetic (They were also recording as all-analog synthesiser band Salaryman around this time too). There is just an overall feeling of fun and experimentation in every every track. Heck, they wrote a song about David Hasselhoff ("He's My Star").

Just Like You by Poster Children (9/10)

Format: 
CD

Just Like You is a really solid EP. The band is slowly moving away from their drone-laden "Champaign '92" sound an becoming more daring in their use of studio production. I love the fade in and reprise of the opening track at the end of the disc and, although it is cheesy and cute, "What's Inside the Box" is a nice change of pace. This EP not quite there, but is a good lead-in to Junior Citizen – their best record in my opinion.