Welcome to Pages of Fun!

This is the personal Web site of Robert Wm. Gomez. I am an artist, musician and nerd living in Chicago, Illinois who has been maintaining this site (in one form or another) since 1996. Enjoy your visit!

Eccentric Orbits: The Iridium Story by John Bloom (9/10)

Eccentric Orbits is the history of the rise, fall, and eventual rebirth of the world's first (and only) global satellite phone system. This is not the sort of book I would ever expect to like. Corporate history is not really my thing. However, this is more the story an astounding technological achievement that was almost destroyed but not for the small group of individuals who believed in it and were willing to risk millions for it.

Veruschka by Ennio Morricone (10/10)

Format: CD

As far as easy-listening Morricone goes, this is one of his best. There are hints of bossa nova, echo-y instruments and, of course, Edda Dell'Orso. "La Bambola," of which there are three versions represented here, is one of Ennio's finest pieces.

La Califfa by Ennio Morricone (10/10)

Format: CD

For a brief period, this CD was my holy grail of Morricone soundtracks. I took to eBay in search of it only to find sellers who listed the CD but didn't have it in stock (my only negative feedback came from one of these failed purchases). Eventually I found an honest seller and to this day the album remains one of my favorites from the Maestro. It's far more symphonic than his horror or western scores, so it doesn't have that immediate hipster/cool factor to it.

Ms .45 (8/10)

This one casts itself off as a female version of Death Wish complete with two uncomfortable assaults of the lead actress in the first ten minutes. But rather than being a standard tale of revenge, it becomes a decent into madness as Thana grows more and more unhinged in her killing spree. The visuals, especially the insane climax, are really quite astounding. There is not much of a story here, but I was glued to it all the way to the bizarre, slow-motion ending.

Il Poliziotto Della Brigata Criminale by Ennio Morricone (9/10)

Format: CD

I finally bought this CD after being nagged by my Discogs.com wishlist alert for months. I shouldn't have waited because this disc, like all of the Morricone releases by Dagored, is worth having. The opening track and much of the record features a pounding piano rhythm that is not dissimilar from many 70's Italian police drama scores. Then there are creepy dissonant noise tracks and even an easy-listening gem, "Sospiri Da Una Radio Lontana."

I Figli Chiedono Perché by Ennio Morricone (10/10)

Format: CD

Don't be dissuaded by the fact that all the tracks lest one are titled, "I Bambini Ci Chiedono Perche." This isn't one of those Morricone scores that is just slight variations of the same song over and over (I'm looking at you Indagine Su Un Cittadino Al Di Sopra Di Ogni Sospetto!). Although the main melody, often sung by Edda Dell'Orso, is the focus throughout. It ranges from mysterious to bittersweet to spine-chillingly epic.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 on Nintendo Wii (8/10)

Super Mario Galaxy 2

Well, it took me about half a decade, but I finally finished Super Mario Galaxy 2. I really liked the first one and this is a lot more of the same. There's a bit of "been there, done that," in my opinion of the game. A few new additions have been added, like being able to ride on Yoshi and use his tongue like a grappling hook. But, for the most part, this is pure 3-D platforming at about the best it will ever get. Which is to say, yeah it's pretty good for a not-so-deep game.

John Wick (6/10)

Now that the sequel is in theaters, I thought I should see the original since since a lot of people who opinions I respect loved it. Maybe I had inflated expectations, but I wasn't impressed. What it has going for it is a nice character build up in the first twenty minutes and an original fantasy-ish world that is gradually built up. Everyone seemed to rave about the action, but I found it to be sterile and dull. Its action sequences are a never ending flow of perfect head-shots and zero danger for John Wick.

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.

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