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!

Read & Burn 01 by Wire (9/10)

Format: CD

In 2002 Wire returned after over a decade of dormancy and once again they have changed their musical focus. They had largely dropped the emphasis on dance-floor beats and synths and returned to a song writing style that is not unlike the punk rock of Pink Flag. It's a less minimal, solid-state version of 1977 Wire with a touch of their 80's synths dribbled in here and there. Some would say it's a return to form, but I never though Wire ever really "lost it."

Tomb Raider: Anniversary on PC (7/10)

Tomb Raider: Anniversary

This was a rare case in which I finished a game that I had started years ago. I really enjoyed the Tomb Raider reboot that Crystal Dynamics did back in 2006 with Legend. I played that game as a freebie back when Game Tap was in its hey day and started Anniversary shortly thereafter but only got about 2/3rds the way through before it was taken off the free list. I only recently got it as a $1.99 game on Steam with the goal of finally finishing it.

The Limping Man (6/10)

Lloyd Bridges stars in this 1950's film noir about an American returning to England after the war who becomes witness to a murder at the airport. Of course his gal pal is soon revealed as the prime suspect—with good reason, as we discover her connection with the dead man. This film was not terribly stylish but has its moments especially the magic show musical number and the plot had me until the very end. However, the ending ruined the movie for me. Major spoiler alert - It's revealed that the entire movie was just a dream Bridges was having on the airplane ride to England.

The Blackwell Epiphany on PC (9/10)

Blackwell Epiphany

The fifth and final Blackwell game continues in the series' tradition of thoughtful and interesting adventures that are light on the puzzles and big on character interactions. Technically, the games have come a long way. The graphics are top-notch and the voice acting is much improved. The games still are running on the freeware AGS (Adventure Game Studio) platform, which has its limitations. But, for the most part, these last few games in the series have been on par with the Lucasarts games of old.

Coatings by Wire (8/10)

Format: CD

Coatings compiles outtakes and alternate mixes of songs from The Ideal Copy and A Bell Is a Cup... with a few Manscape outtakes. For the most part these mixes aren't drastically different than the originals. My copy includes an extra disc that contains an excellent seventeen minute version of "Ambitious."

Manscape by Wire (7/10)

Format: CD

The final record of their mid-eighties incarnation has Wire drifting even closer to New Order territory. It's taken me a while, but I think of have come to accept this release. It is certainly their weakest LP and a couple of songs like "Torch It" border on the unlistenable, but there are a couple of gems here.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss (6/10)

Well, this isn't the next Kingkiller book, but, fortunately, I wasn't expecting that. The author himself goes to great length to basically apologize for the book in the introduction and again at the end. I get it. It's something different. In any event, here we have the story of Auri, the girl who lives in the tunnels under the school. She's a bit looney. The book reads like a manual on obsessive compulsive disorder as she goes about making sure objects are appropriate for the spaces she puts them. Wow, sounds like an awesome idea for a story, right? Sigh.

It's Beginning to and Back Again by Wire (8/10)

Format: CD

This is a weird little release that contains alternative versions of many of the songs from A Bell Is a Cup and The Ideal Copy. These started of as live recordings and were then embellished in the studio. It's not an essential record, but it's worth a listen.

And Why Are You Telling Us This?

So, here we are post mid-term Republican take-over of the legislature. As one might expect, my Facebook feed been awash with bitter and angry lefty losers (Although it hasn't been quite as bad as I expected. I guess the election outcome was not much of a shock). Posts range from the typical "I don't know anyone who would have voted for these monsters" to expected sour-grapes cries of cheating, etc. Fortunately, there were none of the usual calls to violence and injury as I have seen in the past:

How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life: An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness by Russ Roberts (8/10)

In this book Roberts (of EconTalk fame) takes Adam Smith's other major work, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, and makes it understandable in a modern context. There isn't much economics here. Rather, Smith's work is essentially an Eighteenth Century self-help book that lays out theories as to why, as self-interested beings, people behave in altruistic and moral ways. At the core is the premise that we all desire to be "loved and lovely" and if we can achieve that we will find happiness.

Dead Space: Downfall (5/10)

The creators of the Dead Space series must be really proud of the little story they came up with because it feels like they have retold it like four times now. This animated film depicts the events in the Ishamura just after the marker was taken. It's filled with cliches ripped straight out of every post-Aliens sci-fi action movie and features a completely annoying and unlikable lead character. She spends the whole movie mad at everybody and acting stupid. The drawing style also looks like a modern Scooby Doo episode. Yuck.

A Bell Is a Cup Until it Is Struck by Wire (10/10)

Format: CD

Wire continues its slide towards mid-eighties dance music with this collection of songs. There's a dreamy, goth-y quality to this album which may take a little getting used to if you jump from Wire's first records to this. I know it took me several listens to accept it and fully embrace dance-Wire. I now consider songs like "Kidney Bingos" and "Boiling Boy" to be among the band's best work.

Wasteland 2 on PC (9/10)

Wasteland 2 - Fighting a scorpitron

Soon after I plunked down a few Kickstarter bucks for Broken AgeWasteland 2's campaign popped up. Back in my Apple ][ days I knew about, but never played, Wasteland. If I was going to commit time and effort to an RPG, it was going to be Ultima. However, after my migration to Windows, the game's "spiritual successor" Fallout was one of the first big games I played (it was also the first thing I ever bought on eBay back in 1998. The box smelled like cigars). I really liked the more recent Fallout 3 / New Vegas games, but, like many old-timers, I longed for the deep, turn based combat of the first two games of the series. Brian Fargo's Kickstarter video promised to bring party-based, turn-based, post-nuclear-based gaming back... to base. To have. I was sold.

The Ideal Copy by Wire (10/10)

Format: CD

After 154, Colin Newman picked up where 154 left off with A–Z and Graham Lewis went the experimental route and formed the almost unlistenable Dome. It seemed that Wire was no more. And then, several years later, comes The Ideal Copy (well, actually Snakedrill EP was first). This second incarnation of the band has them distancing themselves from their punk roots in favor of synths and electronics.

Chairs Missing by Wire (10/10)

Format: CD

Of all the Wire releases, this one is my favorite. The music ranges from dreamy ("French Film Blurred") to punky ("Sand in my Joints") to poppy ("Outdoor Miner") to epic ("Mercy"), all while maintaining the same mix of the punk rock energy of their first LP and a more arty, synthesizer-based sound.