Welcome to Pages of Fun!

This is the personal Web site of Robert Wm. Gomez. I am an artist, musician and nerd living in Chicago, Illinois who has been maintaining this site (in one form or another) since 1996. Enjoy your visit!

Resident Evil: Revelations on PC (7/10)

Resident Evil Revelations

I understand that this game was originally a Nintendo 3DS launch title. So, by the standards of portable gaming, this is not a bad game at all. However, here on the PC it seems a little behind the times and blah. This criticism is mostly about cosmetics. Unlike the bright and diverse levels of Resident Evils 4 & 5 the game seems really limited to the samey-looking hallways of a dingy cruise ship's interior. While you would think that they could use this environment for all its worth by, say, including the listing of the ship, bursting portholes, and other aquatic mayhem. Instead it's your standard FPS hallway levels with a little swimming here and there.

Flood by They Might Be Giants (4/10)

Format: CD

Nobody needs to own more than one They Might Be Giants album. While I enjoy the "hits" on this record, for the most part it bores me. This is the duo starting to become a band at the expense of the wonderful quirkiness of their first effort. Ah, the joys of combining your record collection with your wife's.

Silent Running (5/10)

A dated and preachy science fiction story from the seventies about the last forest of earth being preserved in space ships. There are some neat robot costumes. But, overall, this was a boring slog with some horrible music choices.

They Might Be Giants by They Might Be Giants (8/10)

Format: CD

Yeah, I get it. You went to art school you clever bastards. Fun, smart pop songs, it's no surprise they have become children's music superstars as of late. I prefer the homemade quality of this first record over later efforts and there's only so much of this band that I can take. One record is enough.

Get Action! by Teengenerate (6/10)

Format: CD

Teengenerate are what I would describe as a Ramones-y punk band. They are much faster and certainly less tuneful than the Ramones, but they share the same affinity towards loudness and basic song structures. Oh, and their records also happen to sound like a trebly mess. The thing is, I saw them live thinking that I would finally hear the band as they should be heard, but it turns out that the records are a pretty accurate facsimile of their live sound. 

Dear Reader: The Unauthorized Autobiography of Kim Jong Il by Michael Malice (9/10)

I have read quite a few books that give an account of what it is like to live under the control of a totalitarian regime, from 1984 to Pictures of the Socialistic FutureDear Reader is the first I have read that is told from the perspective of the tyrant, in this case North Korea's Kim Jong Il. The events portrayed were written based on actual North Korean propaganda literature. Diving into this book, I assumed it would be a comedic romp from one crazy adventure to the next, and, while there is still a bit of that, it really is more of a rare glimpse into the story of Kim Jong Il as the North Koreans know it. The propaganda injects The Dear Leader into every event within North Korea's history and sets him and his father up as untouchable god figures. It's both funny and depressing. At times I felt that this is how people who aren't sympathetic to Ayn Rand's views must feel when they read Atlas Shrugged—with its tales of super-human achievement and hero worship. While the book keeps its darkly comic tone throughout most of its 400 pages, the last passages are a gut-punch reminding us, the dear readers, just how serious and awful the situation in North Korea is.

Ghosts by Techno-Animal (6/10)

Format: CD

I thought that Techno-Animal, being the electronic side project of the guitarist from Godflesh, would sound more like the industrial dance-floor tracks from Slavestate. Instead Ghosts is mostly ambient soundscapes with bursts of grating noise and pounding drum patterns. I guess you would call this experimental, but I dislike that term when applied to music (and art). An experiment implies that you are testing something to prove or disprove a hypothesis. It doesn't mean you are just making non-musical, unstructured sounds and calling them songs.

Tim's Vermeer (9/10)

This a nice little documentary produced and directed by Penn & Teller, respectively. This is a documentary for people interested in the intersection of art and technology. It starts out feeling like one of the duo's Showtime episodes where they would debunk ideas—in this case, did Vermeer use some sort of trick or tool to make his paintings—but eventually turns into a story about Tim and the process of making art. I was able to lure my daughter into seeing the film by telling her that it was probably loaded with bad words, hence the PG-13 rating.

Over and Out by Tar (9/10)

Format: CD

More Tar being Tar. This one has crystal clear production and, wouldn't you know it, a little bit of variety in the song writing. I think they recorded this record knowing they were about to call it a day as a band. Well, at least they went out on a high note. More bands need to realize it's time to move on (Jesus Lizard.. ahem). But wait, they returned some 15 years later and "opened" for my band, Nonagon, at the summer PRFBBQ! The circle is complete.

Drupal: My List of Essential Modules

Taking a break from my usual and completely unnecessary review posts, I thought I'd take a moment get a little technical. This site and many others I have developed use the Drupal open-sourced content management system. Drupal is great. It's incredibly flexible, powerful and yet moderately easy to use if you have a little Web design experience.

Other systems I have used in the past, including Microsoft Sharepoint and Wordpress, don't hold a candle to Drupal. Sharepoint is an abomination and the only reason you should ever use it for a public facing Web site is if you work at Megacorp, Inc. and some idiot I.T. guy bought it as part of a multi-million dollar corporate enterprise package. Customizing Sharepoint is an exercise in futility and self-immolation. Just assume that your clean standards-compliant code with get destroyed and converted into a stew of redundant tags and impossible-to-style markup. Wordpress is much better than that but it still falls short of Drupal when it comes to customizing your content types and controlling look and feel. You can hardly do anything custom in Wordpress without having to hand code PHP. Simple tasks like adding an extra field to a post-type are just a pain and require some sort of third-party plugin (of which there are many and all of them do it differently). The only area where Wordpress is better than Drupal is in installing and updating plugins and core systems. Drupal is getting better at this, but it still has a way to go to match the ease of use that Wordpress offers.

For all my Drupal love, it still isn't perfect right out of the box. Any Drupal install is going to require also installing a number of add-on modules to get your site fully reach its potential. So here is a list of the modules that I will include in every Drupal site that I create.

Toast by Tar (8/10)

Format: CD

While this disc starts out with a couple of great Tar tunes it doesn't quite keep the energy up like Jackson does. As I will say every time I write about Tar, they aren't know for wild experimentation. They established a sound early on and just decided not to mess with the formula. If anything, this recording sounds better than its predecessors perhaps at the expense of some of that aforementioned energy.

Borderlands on PC (7/10)

Borderlands - Jakob's Cove

Billed as a first person shooter RPG, Borderlands focuses on collecting loot over story. There a lot of superficial similarity with the recent Fallout games: large open world to explore, quest-based goals and a little bit of humor thrown in. But the world of Borderlands is barren and devoid of interesting people and stories.

Clincher by Tar (9/10)

Format: CD

This feels like it must be outtakes or extras from Jackson. "G7" and "Teetering" are the best tracks on the EP. Some really great cover photography of the band's custom aluminum guitars.

Jackson by Tar (10/10)

Format: CD

This probably is Tar's best record. It's a wall of loud, lumbering guitars and driving bass lines. This is pretty much what every Illinois-based hard rock indie band aspired to sound like back in 1992. This contains some of their most memorable tracks: "Short Trades," "Walking the King" and especially "Viaduct Removal."

Roundhouse by Tar (7/10)

Format: CD

This CD actually compiles Tar's first two releases: Handsome and Roundhouse. While I like many of tunes on this CD, it's my least favorite of their releases. Tar never strays too far from the formula so, if you haven't heard much Tar, this will be pretty indistinguishable from later records. For me this record lacks the droney, bass-heavy sound defined their best records so it tends to get played less.

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