The intellectual equivalent of a ham sandwich.

Posts tagged ‘review’

Mortal Kombat Revisited – Has it Stood the Test of Time?

Hahahahahahaha, no.

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But how bout them bedroom eyes.

Starbucks, the Experience – A Review

Starbucks is often much more than a cup of coffee (and I am mildly aware that they offer an ever-changing menu of things I am not interested in except for that occasional desire that strikes with a sudden force that leads to the purchase of a chocolate chip muffin). On this particular day I visited a Starbucks, got my coffee, sat down, and observed.

A woman perhaps in her fifties engaged so thoroughly in a book she had become the most interesting piece of furniture in the room.

A pair of women in their forties who I would have thought were a couple if they hadn’t spent so much time railing against their dumb husbands. (Runners-up in the great world of dumb were their dumb jobs, dumb bosses, dumb neighbors, and dumb – oh we won’t go into that but – dumb politics. Notably missing were dumb kids, but that could either imply a solo spark of anti-dumb in their world, but more likely it just implied a lack of kids.)

The four twenty to thirty something employees chirping with an enthusiasm that one assumes is generally only purchasable by large wages, unhealthy amounts of caffeine, or some foolish game of rising stakes where you can only win by being the very most happiest, energetic, enthused and excited by all things customer-oriented person in the world!!! (Note: there are no winners of this game.)

A man, mid thirties, and his almost or just barely teenage daughter were also present.

I had to wonder, marveling at the technology on display with phones and tablets which were accompanying the conversations despite the fact that some still consider this rude, the clock counting how long since the drive-thru customer ordered will it take to get their order, the polished nature of everything on display that implies that this chain store is a unique chain store unlike any other chain store. But then, listening to the snippets of conversation, the debatably teenaged daughter just called her dad an asshole and he rolled his eyes at her which I think is a nice touch, one of the married women just talked about how her boss doesn’t understand her and how she would never deign to understand him, and flip goes the page on the furniture’s book, and barista one is totally psyched he has a date tonight but he met him sorta like commenting on reddit and is that gross? should I like be worried? but in his pics he’s pretty hot so whatever right? OH hiiiiii welcome to Starbuuuuuucks!

Now the man in his thirties has taken his turn to call his daughter an asshole. The furniture closed her eyes for a long second, then locked eyes with me and I think I could almost hear her screaming.

Has humanity gone too far? Have we already peaked? Is technology just failing forward at this point, new achievements reached, new heights claimed, faster, stronger, better, more hands off and less thinking required just because there are people who don’t know any better. Are we all dead inside, or embracing that inner death one barely acknowledged and half-heartedly attended conversation at a time?

I take another sip of my coffee. It’s pretty good but I might add more sugar.

Coffee: 4/5 stars
Chocolate Chip Muffin: 5/5 stars
Experience: 2/5 stars

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Seen here, someone who has developed an ability to take an order and tune out 90% of the drivel

Murder is Cheap, and Other Ruminations

I just finished reading Murder is Cheap, which was originally called The Scarlet Button. It was published in 1945. I bought the book because it has a dramatic cover and it says in smaller letters above the title “Only suckers pay blackmail!”

Murder is Cheap

Who could resist such a charming read?

I was hoping for a great noir story full of phrases I wish I could use in every day conversation without sounding like a tool.

“Hey Brad, how’s your Thursday?”
“The day is all aces and eights. Not good enough to play. Not bad enough to fold.”
“Uh … Ok.”

Instead, as I was reading the book, which was written by Anthony Gilbert, I couldn’t help but notice blatant sexism everywhere. At first I took it in stride because the book was written in 1945 and life was different then … But the sexism came at parts where it didn’t even make sense.

Mr. Stout thought that if he used that expression again he’d go womanish on him and scream.

I decided to mark some of the sexist lines just to see what they add up to in the end. I sat down today having finished the book, all ready to write a post where I have looked up this Anthony GIlbert character and dive into what made him so sexist when … Oh, it turns out Anthony Gilbert was a pen name and the real author was Lucy Beatrice Malleson. In other words, a lady.

Malleson wrote 51 novels with Arthur Crook in them (a lawyer with dirty hands but a pristine record when it came to his clients).

My claims of sexism then were probably misplaced (gee, ya think). Malleson could have written the sexist lines with a smirk on her face, a Stephen Colbert approach of heavily agreeing with the opposition and seeing how far she could push it to show just how absurd they could be. Thinking about it, the insults to women were given by men while the two female characters were strong, independent, helpful (though one seemed like an overbearing mother figure) and the men in the books relied upon them all the while saying nasty things.

What’s my point? I suppose it’s that I’m too quick to judge, or that authors are crafty devils and (almost) every book deserves a re-read. Imagine now if I went back and read this book knowing this tiny bit about the author. Sometimes when I read what is considered a “great” book I can’t decide if I want to look up hidden meanings, symbolism, themes, etc before so that I can look for it and see it in action while I read … or wait until after I’ve read the book to see if I discovered for myself some hidden meaning(s).

The main thing to know is: No matter how you cut it, no matter how you read it or how much you know about the author, Fifty Shades of Grey was still awful. (Read my review full of amazingly bad quotes from that book! Or my mock version, part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4! Self-promotion, yay!)

Disney Review Puns

Robin Williams is great as the genie, it’s like I was in an AladDIN of laughter!

Snow WHITE ON!

This film was Little MerMAID to have you learn to love again!

I’d be a lyin’ king if I didn’t tell you how I just love The Lion King!

It’ll Poca-Haunt-U if you don’t see Pocahontas!

You know, Lilo & Stitch wasn’t that good.

L. Ron Hubbard

Under the Black Ensign

And who could resist this galavanting pirate?

Recently I read a “pulp fiction” story by L. Ron Hubbard called Under the Black Ensign. Pulp fiction stories are like Indiana Jones movies – fast-paced, fun adventure stories with usually a hero and a predictable love story. If you want to read something fun, and don’t feel like thinking, pulp fiction is there to satisfy that need.

I did not pick up the book because I wanted to read some golden age pulp fiction, but instead because it was written by L. Ron Hubbard. If he’s good enough to start a religion, he’s good enough to warrant reading a 50 page story.

The story was pretty decent – I think if I was 10 and it was a cartoon I would’ve enjoyed it. And I certainly read it very quickly, which is another good sign. The most interesting part of the book was the brief biographical piece about L. Ron Hubbard at the end of the book.

Pulp Fiction's Golden Age

Gotta catch ’em all!

This book was published along with a number of other classic L. Ron Hubbard pulp fiction pieces. I would imagine each of them has this same amazing biographical note.

Instead of reviewing the book, I will review the biographical note.

“L. Ron Hubbard and American Pulp Fiction”

If you are familiar with The Office and Michael Scott’s fictional and idealized version of himself, Michael Scarn, you may have an idea how this “biographical” piece will read.

While it is understandable to have self-congratulations in a brief author bio, this one comes on a little strong. For example, most author bios are a paragraph or two, and this one is nine pages.

Maybe it is a bad idea to criticize him, because other critics have been addressed:

“His [L. Ron’s] first Westerns were soundly rejected as lacking the authenticity of a Max Brand yarn (a particularly frustrating comment given L. Ron Hubbard’s Westerns came straight from his Montana homeland, while Max Brand was a mediocre New York poet named Frederick Schiller Faust, who turned out implausible six-shooter tales from the terrace of an Italian villa.)”

I feel it is only fair to turn a fairly critical eye to the founder of a religion. Other religions should be glad that figures who authored such important pieces were alive so much longer ago, so that followers of those religions wouldn’t have to think, “sure, the religion stuff is good – but their romance novels are what I really like!”

This reviewers conclusion is that L. Ron Hubbard probably masturbated while staring at one or more mirrors.

Bazooka Joe Review

I was doing some errands when I saw a pack of Bazooka Joe bubble gum. Bazooka Joe! I thought back and the last time I remembered buying that was as a little kid. Five cents for a piece of the gum. I have no memory of how much other bubble gum cost, it may be that five cents wasn’t even that good a deal but it felt like it.

An impulse buy of only a quarter got you five slices of potential greatness.

Sayah kids, who wants to trade depth perception for some gum! (You know, the eye patch reduces depth perception … and Bazooka Joe, in my imagination, was saving up money for an operation.)

The taste? Eh. The comic? Generally eh. And yet, I couldn’t resist it!

Now, for old time’s sake – let’s give a fresh look at Bazooka Joe gum, and (there better still be comics or this will be a big disappointment) the comic that accompanies the gum!

Bazooka Joe Review

Bazooka Joe

Based on the font, you already know you’re in for a good time. It’s both zany and to the point.

Wait a minute, glancing at the Bazooka Joe nutrition facts for the first time (possibly ever in the history of the gum) reveals a startling bonus – I’m about to get 1% of my daily required total carbs from this?! And surprisingly only 3 grams of sugar per piece (from memory, it sure seemed like a lot more than that).

(For example, one Caramel deLite cookie, formerly samoas, has 6 grams of sugar. Oh wait, I guess that means 3 grams of sugar for a piece of gum is a lot. Moving on!)

Bazooka Joe gum

I open a piece of the gum and set aside the comic/wrapper.

(Can that really be said so casually! It’s a COMIC that is wrapping paper! Why isn’t that standard practice for all things? Imagine how much healthier I’d be if bananas had cool drawings on them. Chaquita Banana’s misadventures are predictable and leave too much up to the imagination. She just seems to be standing there, happily, and you have to come up with the rest of the comic panels on your own. And the other panels can’t be that crazy because whatever she’s up to can’t involve movement since she somehow manages to keep that crazy, non-user-friendly hat on her head. That’s it for my side-rant.)

I am Chaquita Banana and I’m unable to move! … Please someone take this hat off my head it is far too heavy for my scrawny arms.

Now, with delight and wonder filling my eyes, I pop the gum into my mouth and I am greeted with an immediate feeling of a tired jaw. A slightly fruity taste, with a gritty texture greets me. I wonder if the three grams of sugar are worth all of this effort. I could’ve eaten a caramel delite by now, and it would’ve tasted way better. After about thirty seconds the gum gets better, I think the sugar is finally flowing and things are looking up. About thirty seconds after that I’m bored and reaching for the comic. Don’t let me down Bazooka Joe!

Bazooka Joe Comic

The “flavor” (there’s a taste, I don’t know if I’d go so far as to call it a flavor) is still around but the desire to have this gum has faded.

And yet … I want to read another comic! What zany misadventures will Bazooka Joe get himself involved in! What … am I going to do with all these other sticks of gum?

  • Taste: 2 stars
  • Packaging: 4 stars (It’s not a good comic, but there’s a comic so they get top marks for effort.)
  • Cost: 2 stars
  • Overall: 3 stars (It’s like an annoying friend, you forget why it’s no good so you come back … Oh, I’ll be back Bazooka Joe, but I won’t like it.)

Funny Last Note: Apparently Bazooka Joe pulled the comic and now includes brain teasers. This started back in December of 2012 or January of this year. So … overall rating goes down to a 2.5 at best. Bad move, Bazooka Joe! Also, how old was this gum I just chewed? Gross.

What Have I Done Reading List

One of the items on the “What Have I Done / Bucket List of Sorts” was to read 18 books this year. This is the list of those books.

An Object of BeautySteve Martin

  • I’m a big fan of The Pleasure of My Company. This one, eh. The most interesting and neat thing with this book, to me, was that it includes color pictures of some of the paintings the book talks about. This is nice because I’m lazy and don’t look up things (except in rare cases) that books talk about. A lot of the art talk was probably lost on me, so if you’re into that this book may appeal more to you.
  • Here’s a NY Times review of the book. (The author doesn’t directly say but I get the impression she wasn’t a big fan either.)

LolitaVladimir Nabokov

  • I finished this earlier today so I’m still not sure how much I like it. BUT, I can tell you that I really enjoyed his writing style.
  • Come back tomorrow for some quotes from the book that I liked.
  • Here’s the catch with the book, in case you pick it up without knowing the plot like I did – it’s a love story between an upper 30’s man and a 12-14 year old girl. From the perspective of the pretty-vocabularied man. Huh. It’s fiction but an odd pill to swallow.
  • Check out some quotes from the book that I liked … here.

Next up will be A Clockwork Orange. (After that I promised myself a lovely, feel good book.)

Above published Jan 5, 2012

I thought about it some more and I decided … yes, I like Lolita. If for no other reason than the language. But it’s also interesting because it has a lot of unexpected parts (at least I was surprised) and it’s just plain odd.

A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess

  • Yikes!
  • I read on wikipedia (linked above, and because it’s wikipedia take it as you will) that the author was not a fan of the book or the movie. The book, because he wrote it quickly and why is everyone in to this thing I wrote just off-hand! Gah! The movie, because it didn’t accurately convey the meaning of the book. I have not seen the movie, but the book’s message was interesting.
  • I haven’t seen the movie, but I thought the book did present an interesting question. And I have heard the movie is violent and crazy, but with books you can distance yourself (in my opinion) more easily from that. It’s less ‘real.’
  • Also, possibly the coolest part, is that wha-la, you know about forty words of slang without having tried. There are more than forty in the book, but you walk away without knowing ALL of them. Well, maybe YOU do. But I didn’t.
  • Yep, you read that title right.
  • I knew I wanted something light and happy after Lolita and A Clockwork Orange and this book provided just that. I would recommend this book for just such a situation.
  • I’m jealous of this guy because he writes dumb, goofball, enjoyable nonsense and he’s gotten published doing it.
  • Check out quotes I enjoyed from the book here.

Above published on January 30, 2012. I think. 

  • I started reading On the Road by Jack Kerouac, and then a friend (nicknamed Airplanes), invited me to a book club. The book they were reading was book one of the Hunger Games trilogy.
  • It was great!
  • I read the book and couldn’t help but tear through books two and three. Hence …
  • At the book club, two of the people had already read all three books. One girl said she couldn’t remember which book event X happened in, and then said, “well it doesn’t spoil anything,” then she said event X. Really? Doesn’t spoil anything? That annoys me so much when people do that. In my head I turn in to a cat and hiss at them. Is that weird?
  • Yes, it is weird.
  • But, it’s oddly soothing.
  • Here’s how good these books are. I bought the first in paperback, and read it. I knew I wouldn’t be getting books two or three for a while because they’re just in hard back, and it bothers my meticulous, boring nature to own books in a series that are not all the same format. But then it was Sunday, the library was closed, and all the sudden there I was buying the hardback.
  • Book three I read the vast majority of at a sandwich shop. I just sat there for three or four hours reading. I think I must have seemed like I had no life, which you can tell by the fact that I blog 5 times a week that I am clearly a very happenin’ individual.
  • I realize I’m not saying anything about these books, so here’s this …
  • Book 1 I read over the course of a week. Book two in three or four nights. Book three in two days. They’re good.
Ok, seriously, I’m going to finish On the Road now.
Above published on March 5. 
  • Remember what I said about On the Road? Silly me …
  • At book club the latest book chosen was The Perks of Being a Wallflower. The book was nominated by me, and the gang chose it. The book I voted for wasPersuasion. I had yet to read a Jane Austen and I figured this would force me. It worked!
  • The first hundred or so pages I thought, “make it stop, oh make it stop.” But then around page 150 things got interesting, and I actually thought the book was decent. Stellar review, right?
  • One of the best things about this book will be the transition from this read to the next because the book club’s next read is … 50 Shades of Grey. Or “mom porn” if you prefer (based on the SNL skit). Yikes.

Above published on May 24. (Oof I need to get back to reading more!)

Ok, big update this time around so I’m going to be less wordy …

Fifty Shades of GreyE.L. James

We Were Soldiers Once and YoungLt. Gen. Harold G. Moore (Ret) and Joseph L. Galloway

  • A good read, but boy it is tough to swallow because of how sad it can be
  • There can’t be enough respect for vets

The Great GatsbyF. Scott Fitzgerald

StardustNeil Gaiman

  • I bought this because I had read that if I enjoyed The Princess Bride I would enjoy this … it’s not nearly as good as The Princess Bride in my opinion, but it’s enjoyable.
  • If you have no plans on a rainy day, read this book.

The Right StuffTom Wolfe

  • I read this during a trip, so I would read a lot, then not for a while … But I would go through some parts of the book that were exciting and I couldn’t stop … Other parts, not so much.
  • It has a really interesting look at NASA in its beginning, and the first astronauts
  • Overall, I would definitely recommend it.

CandideVoltaire

  • Do you have to do a book report on this book? Here it is, summed up as I see it:
  • Do you believe that life is rosy and all is for the best? Here, lets have a bunch of horrible things happen to you … Still believe it? Here comes more horrible.
  • It’s a classic, so for that reason you should read it I suppose?

Armageddon’s ChildrenTerry Brooks

The Elves of CintraTerry Brooks

The Gypsy MorphTerry Brooks

  • The first books I ever got into were written by Terry Brooks. I read them because my brother recommended them to me (see: big brother idol warship). Up until that point I rarely enjoyed reading (Bruce Coville was the exception), so I’ll be a lifelong fan of Terry Brooks for getting me into books.
  • Sometimes if life has you down, you read fantasy books.

BossypantsTina Fey

  • This book was geared more towards women, but it’s very funny I think regardless of who you are. She knows how to be funny.

Above published

 

Check out the master to do list here!

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