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.

Wolfenstein: The New Order on PC (9/10)

Wolfenstein Ya Big Baby!

It's been a little while since I've played a current generation FPS, so maybe I just impressed with the slickness of it all, but I enjoyed this one. The New Order, unlike the 90's Wolfenstein, is very story focused. The premise here is that Blaskowitz got konked on the head, woke up a decade later, and found out the Nazis had won World War II. So, first things first, get a gun, join the resistance and shoot everything that moves.

Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings on PC (9/10)

Witcher 2 - Fight the Squidbeast

Witcher 2 takes what was a sprawling and somewhat unfocused RPG and refines almost everything to create an excellent role playing experience. They have kept many of the best elements from the first game such as its action oriented combat, limited gear choices, and adult tone. On top of that they added a much refined leveling-up system, better crafting/potion creation, and loads of interface tweaks.

Clan of the White Lotus (7/10)

This is a strange Gordon Liu movie in which he wants to avenge the friends who died at the hand of The White Lotus. He keeps having fights with the old guy and losing. Each time he learns a new technique and gets closer, but it isn't until he incorporates his sewing skills that he ever has a chance. The film was goofy (but not really funny per se), and has some good fight sequences and sharp visuals.

The Seven Deadly Virtues by Jonathan V. Last (8/10)

A compilation of humorous essays by eighteen conservative authors in which each tackles the merits and faults or various virtues. Overall it was a pretty good collection that doesn't get terribly political or partisan. However, it doesn't quite rise to the "Funny as Hell" tagline on the cover. Of the eighteen, my favorites were from Rob Long, Jonah Goldberg, Dave Burge and James Lileks (Sadly, I think P.J. O'Rouke has lost some of his edge these days).

Watch Dogs 2 on PC (7/10)

Watch Dogs 2 Selfie While Human Traffiking

Watch Dogs 2 is pretty much a straight up Grand Theft Auto clone. But instead of playing an immoral mobster who kills and destroys to achieve his goals, you play a righteous hacker who kills and destroys to achieve his goals. I think the game is going for a light-hearted tone, but all the indiscriminate murdering kinda gets in the way of that. Mowing down waves of security guards doesn't strike me as a appropriate response to an Internet company knowing your search history.

Rogue One (6/10)

My first thought after walking out of the theater was, "huh, I don't know a single character's name from the movie I just watched." This Star Wars spin-off is heavy on plot and light on characterization... and fun. I guess they were trying to make a more adult Star Wars, but, in-the-process, they lost a lot of what made the best of the series so good. Fortunately, there aren't any embarrassing Jar-Jar moments and I have a feeling I may enjoy this more on second watching, but for me this was just so-so.

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