Let it Come Down by Spiritualized - CD (10/10)

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I was never much into this band when they were making waves in the late nineties. At some point I decided to give Ladies and Gentleman we Are Floating in Space a listen and I was hooked… at least for a little while (recent releases have been a bit ho-hum). I think we can safely say that on Let it Come Down the band has completely abandoned the “space rock” sound that defined every release before it. There are a few moments of repetitive structure, but for the most part these are longer format pop songs. I really love this record. In a strange way, this record reminds me of Pet Sounds. Now, I don’t mean that in terms of historical importance or even the quality of the songs. The feeling comes more from the huge, lush arrangements play against an overall bittersweet, personal tone.

Break Like the Wind by Spinal Tap - CD (4/10)

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I so much wanted this record to be more than it was. The original Spinal Tap soundtrack was legendary and, even if this didn’t quite live up to the original, it was destined to be great, right? Turns out, Spinal Tap’s music detached from the comedic sketches becomes what it originally set out to parody: boring hair metal. I always felt Spinal Tap was only a metal band because metal happened to be popular at the time. A Spinal Tap record in the nineties should have been about the band trying to make it as a grunge band and then failing miserably. The CD’s only moment of redemption is the unlisted “13th Song” which parodies political message songs by featuring the band members clumsily speaking out about caring for the sick and elderly. Other tracks like “Cash on Delivery” and “Just Begin Again” are just awful.

Let’s Tell a Story Together by Jimmy Maher (8/10)

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I’m a regular reader of Jimmy Maher’s blog The Digital Antiquarian which documents the history of the early days of home computing with a focus on gaming and interactive fiction. This ebook sticks to the interactive fiction side of things and gives a well-rounded overview of the major players from the days of Zork/Adventure all the way to Inform 7 and the modern IF hobbyists. I really like reading about interactive fiction much more than actually playing the games. I am terrible at text adventures. My attention span is just too small. However, I find the story behind the classics and the all the artsy theory stuff very interesting to read about. My only complaint: I could do without the use of the feminine “she” when generically referring to anyone playing one of these games. I get it, the English language is misogynistic, paternalistic and probably all racist too, but, seriously, how many adventure gamers were female back in the day? 5% or 6%? And that’s including Roberta Williams.

Venus in Furs by Leopold von Sacher Masoch (7/10)

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After seeing Jess Franco’s movie of the same name, I noticed that this ebook was available for free at Amazon. The book and the movie have nothing to do with each other. This is the story of a man so devoted to a woman that he’d rather be her slave than ever be apart from her. I guess this is where the term masochism comes from? It’s not as dirty one might expect. Instead its a surprisingly engaging and well-written tale that is, however, completely unbelievable in its premise.

The Last Hydronaut - Woodcut

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This print was created to be used as a back cover illustration for Nonagon’s The Last Hydronaut EP. After incorporating the image into the layout I editioned the print to be given out as a freebie with the first fifty copies of the record.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution on PC (8/10)

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While Invisible War was not without its merits, it really lacked the depth of the original Deus Ex. This third installment attempts to amend some of that and bring the series a little closer to its RPG, stealth-centric roots. For the most part it succeeds. The levels offer all sorts of play options and paths. Also, the third-person perspective stealth system works much better than the hiding in shadows ever did in the original game.

Personally, I think the original is a tad bit overrated. I attempted to play it a again before diving into Human Revolution and found it doesn’t really hold up. My God that Hong Kong level is unbearably tedious and boring. There’s a point in Human Revolution when the game frees you to start exploring a more open environment. I immediately started to get panicked flashback of my hours spent backtracking through the dull streets of Hong Kong, but. thankfully, there are quest arrows that guide lazy modern gamers back into the action.

The story as something to do with kidnapped scientists and anti-cyber augmentation zealots. Once the Illuminati were brought into the mix I tuned out the narrative and just concentrated on getting through the levels undetected. Tightly plotted and understandable narratives are not a hallmark of this series.

The Ajenda Creativity Engine

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The Ajenda Creativity Engine is a self-promotional Flash animation I did for Ajenda Interactive Media. It won first place (category: Entertainment/Games) in Chicago’s Association for Multimedia Communication’s first annual FlashFest.

Flash Lives on at the Internet Archive

You can view the animation using their incredible Flash emulator.