Thursday, March 13, 2008

Review Day

Egg Cooker:
This little device was a gift from my mom, advertised as being able to consistently create soft and hard-boiled eggs in the microwave. Hard-boiled eggs are easy enough on the stove -- you just boil an egg and forget about it for awhile. The real test for this device was soft-boiled eggs which, in the hands of a stove charlatan, can either be too runny or too cooked.

Setup was simple, although the instructions did not include my microwave wattage, so I had to guess. The first test of two eggs failed: one egg exploded in the microwave and the other was barely cooked at all. The second test was only slightly better: one egg shattered but didn't explode, and the other came out perfectly. With a little more experimentation, I bet I could find a sweet spot, but cooking eggs on the stove is faster and not so messy. Only shell out the bucks for this if you fail at stove-operation or you'll end up with egg on your face (the yolk's on you!).

Final Grade: B-

American Gangster:
Denzel Washington as a Brooklyn drug lord is pursued by Russell Crowe as a diligent narcotics officer. This movie has been done a million times before, and though Denzel is always eminently watchable, the movie itself covered no new ground. The back-and-forth of the two actors in their own scenes didn't pay off: when they finally come face to face onscreen, the movie comes to a weak Hollywood conclusion. If you watch this and We Own the Night in the same weekend, you won't be blamed for getting their features all mixed up.

Final Grade: C+

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman:
I occasionally re-review things if I feel my opinion has changed and I really wanted to find something redeeming about this series from an otherwise excellent young-adult author. After rereading the entire trilogy, my opinion stands. Book One is interesting, disjointed, and has potential. Book Two hits the ground running with an immediate twist that puts Book One in a whole new light, but then fails to go anywhere at all. Book Three becomes bogged down in the author's hatred of organized religion, and what could have been a smart fantasy series turns into a personal diatribe at the expense of plot, story, and character. It has a few interesting ideas, like the creatures who evolved with wheels for feet, but none of them are written well enough to be worth the slog. Avoid this series like seafood in the back of a U-Haul truck on I-95.

Final Grade: D+

The Burning Crusade: There's no question that Blizzard Entertainment can pull off a good expansion pack, and this one for World of Warcraft was no exception. I picked it up back in December and have been playing it for about three months now. Besides being packed full of enjoyable content and unique quest ideas, it brings back the fun of exploring again. Unlike the old world, every area of the expansion was designed to be flown over, around, and through, and when I was first able to do so at level 68, I spent a coupld hours just flying around for fun, enjoying the scenery. If you liked WoW but got bored, the expansion will revitalize your interest. If you just never liked WoW, nothing here will change your mind. Be warned that if your computer can barely run the original game, it will probably choke and die on the graphics in this one.

Final Grade: A

Chuck Norris the only WMD in Iraq
The Geometry of Music
Frozen in Grand Central Station

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