Thursday, October 02, 2014

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe:
This book (based on the web feature of the same name) takes random questions posed by the Internet and attempts to provide answers with real science. I thought a book like this would be right up my alley, but it didn't really work for me. Each silly question gets lost in the number of assumptions required to "do the math" and the result isn't quite as interesting as the original question. I ended up skimming through the pleasant cartoons more than I read the science. Better as a coffee table book than a cover-to-cover book.

Final Grade: B-

South Park: The Stick of Truth:
If you are a fan of South Park, this game is a perfect way to experience being in an actual episode. The game was made with the direct participation of the creators, and the easter eggs and attention to detail are amazing. The gameplay that holds it all together, however, is not quite as interesting -- it's really just a framework that pushes you through the game to see all the funny bits, with poorly explained hotkeys and a minimal translation of the turn-based combat from Paper Mario. There are plenty of funny bits, but I'm not enough of a South Park fan that I wanted to battle yet another Nazi zombie rat to get to the end -- I'm about 7 hours in right now.

Final Grade: A- for fans, C+ for everyone else.

Sons of Anarchy, Season Three:
The third season of this show got bogged down in an unnecessarily convoluted plotline that was essentially the Irish version of "They took my boy!" from LOST. The best and worst part of the season is towards the middle, when the action road trips to Belfast and the show's theme song becomes an awful Irish rock remix featuring every pan flute patch from a General MIDI keyboard, pressed at the exact same time. The season ends well with a return to the original setting, but would have been much more interesting without the Irish diversion.

Final Grade: C+

Life in a Bubble by Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band:
I enjoyed this modern big band CD, although it's much more subdued than Act Your Age. Composition and orchestration are king over improvisation here, and the charts are tight throughout.

Final Grade: B

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