Book review: “Galápagos”, Kurt Vonnegut

I hate to give a Kurt Vonnegut novel two stars, but I seriously considered giving up on this one. Douglas Adams was a big fan of Vonnegut, and here the favor is returned as Vonnegut attempts to write an entire novel in the style of Douglas Adams — or at least, a mutant crossbreed of Vonnegut and Adams. The Hitchhiker’s Guide is replaced by the Mandarax pocket computer; the omniscient narrator point of view is provided by a ghost; and characters’ deaths are signaled in advance in the manner of the Magrathea attacks.

Man purses

I carry a bag with me when I go places. I usually have some sort of electronic device, a camera, maybe some sunglasses, other assorted junk — more than will fit in pockets. I used to use army surplus canvas shoulder bags, but the quality dropped so fast during the 90s that eventually they would only last a year or two before developing major holes. Eventually I gave in and bought a Timbuk2 custom messenger bag.

Video game review: “Sunset”

If you tried to develop a game specifically to rile gamergaters, you might come up with something like “Sunset”. Consider: It’s in the genre derisively named “walking simulators”, where the main interaction consists of moving around the game world and looking at things. It has a black female protagonist. It’s overtly political, with a left wing socialist sensibility. It’s (amongst other things) a critique of popular video war games like Call of Duty.

Stereo is over (if you want it)

I recently gave in and bought a boxed set of albums by The Beatles. After much thought, I bought the mono boxed set. Although modern stereo had been invented by Alan Blumlein in 1931 — including stereo microphones and stereo microgroove vinyl records — in the 1960s it was still a novelty, particularly for pop music which was generally heard via mono AM radio. Until Abbey Road in 1969, all of The Beatles’ albums were recorded and mixed in mono.

Video game review: “Depression Quest”

It’s obviously tough to approach a game like Depression Quest without any expectations, if you follow the gaming scene at all. I had read about it pre launch, and made a vague mental note to check it out, but by the time the game launched and the #gamergate shitshow blew up I was busy with Borderlands 2. (Yes, I’m probably the last person to start playing Borderlands; I hate paid DLC so I waited until I could buy pretty much the whole thing on disc in a ‘Game of the Year’ edition.

The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim

I’ve been playing a lot of Skyrim recently. I was late to this particular party for a couple of reasons. One is that I hate DLC; or more precisely, I hate how DLC has effectively doubled the price of games, so I was waiting for the Skyrim: Game of the Year Edition (aka the “Legendary Edition”) to come out, with the entire game on the disc. But the other reason is that I really hated the previous game in the series, Oblivion, so buying Skyrim was a bit of a risk, and hence I waited until I happened to see it for $30.

Nexus 4 vs Galaxy Nexus

My wife’s 3-year-old phone has been irritating her with its lack of app space, so I gave in and bought a Nexus 4, passing my Galaxy Nexus on to her. I thought I’d write up a quick review comparing the Nexus 4 and Galaxy Nexus, for the benefit of anyone not sure whether to upgrade. From the front, it’s hard to tell the two phones apart. The Nexus 4 is 0.

LA Noire review

It was just another treacherous night in the big city when I opened the “LA Noire” case. You doubtless saw the headlines—big name publisher picks up well reviewed game from independent studio. There was another story I was interested in, though. According to the police files, there had been accusations of appalling working conditions, and the whole shebang had been deep sixed a few months later in mysterious circumstances. That left me with a few loose ends to tie up.

Movie review: Insomnia / Insomnia

I don’t often watch movies back-to-back with the American remakes. However, I failed to see Insomnia in its original Norwegian incarnation, and since the US version was directed by Christopher Nolan (who had previously directed the excellent Memento), I decided to watch both versions in one week.

Both are good movies. If you hate subtitles, feel free to watch the remake; it’s a perfectly good adaptation, taking into account Hollywood’s sensibilities–which I shall now proceed to discuss, with the aid of copious spoilers, so you have been warned.

Video game fight: inFAMOUS vs [Prototype]

Every now and again, two video games come out at about the same time that tackle pretty much the same subject matter. (Actually, this happens all the time in first person shooters, but by and large I don’t play those.) Such was the case with [Prototype] and inFAMOUS. Both are M-rated games about becoming a superhero (or supervillain). Both have a protagonist whose origin is initially obscure and whose morality is questionable.