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.

Spirits of the Dead (5/10)

Only the last of the three stories in this horror anthology is worth watching. It's directed by Frederico Fellini and is (no duh) quite Fellini-esque. At least I think it is. I've not seen any other of his movies, but it was very surreal and goofy. Supposedly these are all adaptations of Poe stories, but Fellini just makes his a take on stardom and the shallowness of cinema celebrity. The first segment is Jane Fonda falling in love with a horse and the second is basically a 70's let's play, watching two people play cards.

Hundra (6/10)

This third-tier fantasy movie starts out great, gets really boring, then ends on a slo-mo high note. The Morricone score hides much of the cheapness of the production, as does the cinematography and extensive use of epic slow-motion in the fight sequences. A film this low-grade probably doesn't deserve Morricone, but there he is saving the day. The lead actress is laughably bad at the acting part of her job but her stunt work is well done and fun to watch.

Life is Strange on PC (8/10)

Life is Purple

Life is Strange uses the same branching story game play as Telltale's games. The twist here is that your character has the power to reverse time and undo choices. There are a handful of puzzles that require some creative time shifting but the reality of this mechanic is that it is simply an alternative to using a quick-save.

La Tarantola Dal Ventre Nero by Ennio Morricone (8/10)

Format: 
CD

Although it contains two fantastic easy-beat Edda Dell'Orso songs, most of this is standard giallo experimentation. I also have a truncated version of this score on a two-fer CD which includes all that you really need without the repetition.

Coolidge by Amity Shlaes (6/10)

This was a fawning look at Coolidge's life and tenure as the 30th President. It was okay up to a point, but there's something about biographies that just don't click with me. No matter how interesting the person's life was (and Coolidge's was only moderately interesting), they will never match a good old fashioned fictional story.

You Can Now Buy My Art on Etsy

I've been using this Web site as a place to show and sell my art for nearly twenty years. In that time I have sold exactly zero prints. I know I haven't exactly been P.T. Barnum when it comes to self-promotion, but seriously, zero? I have even offered prints for free with no takers.

Well, today is the day that all changes. I am now selling my prints on Etsy.com! This means they'll handle the billing and shipping calculations and you can sit back, relax and send me all your money!

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