Robert Wm. Gomez's

Strummin' Mental Part One by Various Artists (8/10)

Format: 
CD

The first Strummin' Mental CD compiles thirty or so surfy guitar instrumentals from the early 60s. The aesthetic here is raw, raunchy and fairly lo-fi. Punk rock for the beach blanket bingo set.

Apple ][ Graphic Adventure Part III

The previous post in this series explained how to get Graphics Magician images to display from Applesoft. Now, I'd like to go over the structure of the program listed in Write your Own Adventure Programs. The bulk of the program listing consists of the game data including objects, room descriptions, verbs and state flags. Most of the remaining code is comprised of a series of conditions that check how the player's actions affect the objects in the game world.

Apple ][ Graphic Adventure Part I

Having recently played the Apple ][ game Transylvania and its sequel, I was inspired to mess with the art program which those games used. The Graphics Magician was a huge hit for Penguin Software, but I never actually had a chance to use it when we had an Apple ][. I just remember it being advertised in every computer magazine I had.

Based on a True Story by Norm MacDonald (8/10)

He starts off with a typical comedian's memoir and, after about three pages, Norm gives up and go total autofiction. There's a grain of truth in every chapter, but each quickly descends into madness. It's not just cheap jokes (there's much of that, including the famous "Moth Joke"). Eventually, the fourth wall is broken and it becomes a smart, thrilling story.

Friday by Robert A. Heinlein (4/10)

Even as an audio book, this was a chore to get through. It's a tale of a future with super human artificial persons (the titular Friday), violent city states, and coporatized family structures. Oh, and lots of cringey sex talk. I suspect Heinlein was a swinger who wanted moral justifications for whatever dark seeded perversions he held. Unfortunately, he writes like a seventh grader and also has a seventh-grade boy's understanding of women. So dumb.

The Lady Hermit (9/10)

Cheng Pei Pei is great in the excellent swordfighting movie about a master in hiding who takes on a young apprentice with the hope that she'll help defeat her arch enemy. It's beautifully shot and has a nice love triangle sub-plot to appease girly Crouching Tiger fans. The martial arts are not the greatest ever filmed, but it more than makes up for it in gore and crazy miniature effects. Temple of Doom owes much to this movie's rope bridge scene.

Samurai Cop (6/10)

I'm sure I would have enjoyed this more if I had watched it with friends and alcohol. Samurai Cop is a classic "so bad it's good" movie with terrible acting, writing and directing. It's filled with typical z-movie inexplicable moments and several painfully long love scenes. The best part of the movie is Frank the side kick and his goofy expressions.

The Crimson Crown on Apple ][ (8/10)

A Fortress Looms across the Chasm

This sequel to the classic Apple ][ adventure game Transylvania has you returning to the same locations as the first game once again to fight the evil Vampire. The game is twice as big and is a bit more refined. I played the updated 1985 version of the game which runs on the Comprehend game engine which is probably the best implementation of a text/graphics hybrid adventure system. You can use a few prepositions and, in this game, you can command other characters to complete puzzles.

Transylvania on Apple ][ (8/10)

A Menacing Werewolf in Transylvania

Transylvania is a hybrid text/graphical adventure originally for the Apple ][. This was a big hit back in the day and was ported to just about every other 8-bit machine. I loved these types of adventure games but was really, really bad at them. In hindsight, most of them were brutally unfair and prone to the bad game design cliches of the era such as instant death and guess-the-verb puzzles. Still, I remember seeing screenshots of that menacing werewolf in issues of Softalk or A+ magazine and wanting to try this game.

The Black Cat (7/10)

I think this might be the fourth Italian horror movie I've seen that's based on Poe's story, The Black Cat. None of them actually follow the original story except for the inclusion of the titular cat and a scene where someone is bricked up behind a basement wall. This is Lucio Fulci's take and, as such, includes a little bit of corny gore (the burning scene is probably the best) and a lot extreme close-up eye shots. Outside of the beautiful photography and R-rated elements, this seems like a made for T.V. movie.

Crippled Avengers (7/10)

I assumed that they would have hired actual disabled people to star in this and expected it to be a little more tasteless than it was. Alas, the lead "cripples" are all played by actual abled kung-fu masters. They do show a child having his arms off, so there's that. It also features a man being turned into an idiot through head compression. Apparently rudimentary medical science isn't really that big in Hong Kong. The main focus here is acrobatic fighting with hoops, chains and poles. The disabilities don't really play into the fighting styles beyond the initial training montages.

The Dark Backward (7/10)

It's a quirky comedy. A quirkedy! Just about everything about this movie is deliberately strange. The plot is basically a joke setup expanded to feature length... a guy walks into a bar with three arms... hilarity ensues. There was enough going on here to keep me entertained even though I felt it needed something more. Or maybe something less? When every character in the movie is an extreme caricature, there's nobody to latch on to by staying grounded in some vestige of reality.

The Tricky Master (5/10)

I'm not sure if this is supposed to be a sequel to Tricky Brains, but it's just as bad as that film. This is filled with Hong Kong pop culture references and lame jokes and nothing really works. All of the conflict is resolved with weird Asian poker games that make no sense to me.