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Prophet, Vol. 1: Remission
Prophet, Vol. 1: Remission
by Farel Dalrymple
Edition: Paperback
Price: $8.67
89 used & new from $3.03

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Grotesquerie and weirdness for weirdness' sake, March 16, 2014
While the initial premise of this reboot of Prophet was interesting to me, it wore off quickly as I read page after page of this Conan-lookalike murdering his way across amorphous blobs of feces and grotesquerie in pursuit of missions that, in hindsight, make absolutely no sense at all. I enjoyed some of the art, but in the final story, "Coil", I could not tell you what was happening in any given panel, beyond the vague impression that Prophet was once again fighting... something and then at the end eats... something kind of gross.

The actual narration is also pretty infuriating, as it either tells the reader exactly what is going on in a given panel or else rambles on using fabricated language that is never defined even by virtue of implication.

I suppose there is a target audience for this; it reminded me a lot of Perdido Street Station, another work I found an overblown exercise in grossing out the reader, but which I know a lot of people enjoy. And much like Perdido, Prophet never really provides satisfying conclusions to any of the tales within, when the stories even make sense at all.

I would give this a pass. There are much better graphic novels out there.

Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs
by Walter Isaacson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.65
1135 used & new from $0.72

27 of 36 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars "Shallow and sloppy", November 18, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Steve Jobs (Hardcover)
As another reviewer mentioned, anyone interested in this book needs to listen to John Siracusa's critique on the Hypercritical podcast, episode 42. His list of criticisms is vast and rightfully damning.

The long and short of it is that Issacson ruined a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to write a biography with direct access to Steve Jobs. There is no evidence that he made any effort to understand the industry Apple is in, nor the technology it created with Jobs at the helm. The book is riddled with technical errors: getting the name of the company wrong ("Apple Computers"), continuously referring to Mac OS X as "OSX", misattributed photos (one with Jobs and Woz and an Apple II+ is labeled as "in the garage" in "1974", despite the fact that the II+ came out in 1979 and they are obviously sitting in Apple's Cupertino offices), and some quotes attributed to folks like Bill Gates that just sound nonsensical.

Even more damning is that the strongest parts of the book, such as the creation of the original Macintosh, are obviously relying heavily on existing documentation such as Andy Hertzfeld's fantastic Revolution in The Valley [Paperback]: The Insanely Great Story of How the Mac Was Made (Otx). Once we get to the era of Job's return to Apple in 1996, the book becomes very superficial. Issacson suddenly switches from a chronological narrative to a product-based one, and we learn virtually nothing new about the creation of some of the most revolutionary products in history (e.g., the iPhone). I found this pretty unforgivable, as this is not only some of the most important technology in history, but also arguably Jobs' greatest triumphs. Really, the books turns into a superficial history of Apple, and not a biography of Jobs. We learn nothing new, which is a grievous sin given Issacson's access to Jobs.

I will admit that the writing is competent, if not inspiring; I tore through the book pretty quickly. But, in the end, I agree with Siracusa that Jobs simply picked the wrong guy for the job. Any reader of this book would do well to listen to Siracusa's critique, and then go hunt down some of the far better books that have been written about Apple.

Steve Jobs cared about the details. This book doesn't. Steve Jobs said Apple lived at the intersection of technology and the humanities. This book should have positioned itself there as well, with powerful writing that demonstrated a mastery of the technical subjects on which it must focus. It does neither. I can only hope that, someday, Siracusa, or perhaps John Gruber, will take up the task of writing a far more insightful, inspiring book about Jobs' life. Steve is one of the giants of our age, and he deserves better.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 16, 2011 9:42 AM PST

Gator Cases GPE-LPS-TSA Les Paul-Style Guitar Case TSA Latches
Gator Cases GPE-LPS-TSA Les Paul-Style Guitar Case TSA Latches
Price: $149.99
10 used & new from $149.99

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Far better than any comparable SKB case; a great value, December 11, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
When I started looking for a replacement case for my Gibson R8, I went to Guitar Center and looked at every single SKB case they had in this price range. All of them were warped or visibly cracked. Some research online pointed me to Gator cases, so I ordered one from Amazon. The case I received was a) pristine, and b) fit my guitar like a glove. It holds the instrument securely and, most importantly, does so with no pressure on the neck at all; the neck essentially is floating in space while the body is held tightly by the case body. Brilliant design. The TSA latches work great and the seam around the lid is perfect. Even the handle feels great! There is absolutely no reason to buy an SKB product when you can get this Gator case for the same price.

That said, while this case is advertised as having TSA latches, I don't know that I would consider it a serious flight case. It's durable as heck (I've taken it in a car across country), but I wouldn't feel comfortable checking it as luggage. If you need to fly your instrument, save your money for a serious ATA case. I don't consider this a knock against the Gator, as quality flight cases are in a whole 'nother tier ($500 and up).

SKB 56 LP-Style Molded Guitar Case
SKB 56 LP-Style Molded Guitar Case
Price: Click here to see our price
20 used & new from $49.99

2 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Horrible quality control, August 13, 2010
I went to Guitar Center today to buy one of these cases. Long story short, of the four cases they had in stock, three of them were warped enough that they did not close completely or had a massive crack in them. The one case that seemed to be basically intact was nonetheless pretty shoddily constructed; none of the hinges on any of these cases were on straight. On top of this, the cases doesn't really hold the guitar all that snugly. The TSA latches are pretty much a gimmick; there is no way that I would check this case as luggage. If you insist on getting this kind of SKB case, I'd save some money and just go with the SKB 56 Molded Guitar Case Les Paul Style. Even then, I'd honestly suggest you look for a different manufacturer. At the very least, carefully inspect this item before you buy it.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 19, 2012 7:54 AM PDT

U2: At the End of the World
U2: At the End of the World
by Bill Flanagan
Edition: Paperback
Price: $19.29
119 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book written about U2, period., June 5, 2010
I just finished reading this book for the third time since I bought it back in '96. It's been riveting every time. Flanagan (the man behind Musician magazine, the best music rag ever, and "Behind the Music," the show that gave VH1 reason to exist) had unprecedented access to the band during one of the most important eras of its career. He is literally with one or more members of the band during every moment from the recording of Achtung Baby through the entirety of the Zoo TV tour, talking intimately and getting into trouble right along side of them. Right place, right time, right band, right writer.

Not only does the book provide incredible insight into the inner workings of U2 and its support organization, Flanagan's observations are incredibly prescient, especially as I read this now, in 2010. The impact of new media, the power of technology to dismantle the aging record industry, the nature of the mega-tour, the possibilities and pitfalls of the EU... it's incredible how insightful and ahead of their time both U2 *and* Flanagan were. The book is not only a great document of a momentous moment in U2's history, it's a fascinating document of the '90s: Clinton's rise, the Bosnian war, the emergence of the Web, the fall of the Soviet Union, grunge, etc.

This is not only the best book written about U2 by a very wide margin, it is honestly one of the best pieces of rock journalism I have ever read. Any dedicated U2 fan should have this and U2 by U2 sitting on their shelf; ignore the rest of the chaff that's be published in order to make a buck off U2. I have a feeling I will be periodically re-reading this book until the day I die.

It Might Get Loud
It Might Get Loud
DVD ~ Jimmy Page
Price: $10.29
59 used & new from $4.24

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An ultimately flawed product, June 5, 2010
This review is from: It Might Get Loud (DVD)
As a guitarist and a huge fan of all three players this documentary focuses upon, I was ultimately disappointed in the film. I really can't understand the large number of 5-star reviews. Leading up to the release of the film, I was thrilled by the concept; these are definitely three iconic guitarists of their respective generations, and getting them together seems a brilliant idea. Unfortunately, other than getting them together, the film's creators don't seem to have had much of an idea of what to do with them once the cameras started rolling. With no interviewer serving to spur on discussion, Page, Edge, and White are left to figure out how to interview each other, and sadly don't do a very good job. It's very telling that so much of the film is actually recaps of each individual's career, with interviews done away from the "summit" that is ostensibly the centerpiece of the film. Given how uninteresting the actual summit footage is, it's really not surprising. There is a lot of awkward silence, abortive attempts to teach each other songs, and muddled discussion that never really goes anywhere. There are some interesting moments, such as when they are jamming a bit on Zep's "In My Time of Dying" and Edge takes a pretty cool solo... but they are outnumbered by the moments of awkwardness. This reaches its height when, at the end of the film, they manage to work up a rendition of "The Weight" by The Band, of all things. Utterly bizarre.

I also did not get the impression that the film's creators really knew a whole lot about guitar, which is allegedly the subject matter of the whole film. There's a sequence titled "Jimmy's Strat" which details Page's first electric guitar purchase. Page is so iconically linked to the Les Paul (and so rarely linked to the Fender Strat) that this just seems ridiculous. There's also this whole series of scenes featuring White and his 8-year-old self (i.e., a child actor), which, while kind of novel, seems gimmick-y and out of place. Again, I think it is patently obvious that there was little salvageable footage of the three together, and thus the film needed padding.

While not a total loss, the film is far less than it could have been. There's really nothing insightful here for guitarists, and the biographical info will be well known to anyone who is already a dedicated fan of the respective subjects. It was certainly worth a Netflix rental, but even as a massive Zep and U2 fan (and slightly less massive fan of White's), I am really in no hurry to pay money for this.

The filmmakers obviously wanted a rock guitar "My Dinner with Andre." What they ultimately produced is, at best, three unfinished episodes of "Behind the Music" crammed on to one disc.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 22, 2010 8:30 AM PDT

Starblazer Adventures: The Rock and Roll Space Opera Adventure Game
Starblazer Adventures: The Rock and Roll Space Opera Adventure Game
by Chris Birch
Edition: Hardcover
21 used & new from $69.01

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A poorly-edited labor of love, December 23, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
It's obvious that the authors were putting their hearts into Starblazer Adventures and have a great love for the source material. And the FATE system is fantastic. However, my enjoyment of the game was marred by a few things. First off, the editing is very poor; there are tons and tons of grammatical mistakes. Second, there are huge swaths of the book that are taken almost word-for-word from the Spirit of the Century SRD. Lastly, I wasn't all that impressed with the mechanics that were added to the core copied from the aforementioned SotC. A lot of elements feel tacked-on to SotC's core, and even contradict it, not to mention seem at odds with the pulpy space opera that is the game's source material. These flaws don't make Starblazer Adventures a bad game, but they don't really inspire me to invest any time in it. In all, I think there are far better FATE implementations out there.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 21, 2010 8:14 AM PDT

Gyrating Bhtch All-Time Top 10 for Now [Explicit]
Gyrating Bhtch All-Time Top 10 for Now [Explicit]
Price: $8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic music!, March 25, 2009
The DIY ethos present in Gyrating Bhtch's music is really refreshing. In an era of over-produced commercial pop throttling the airwaves, this band provides some serious mental floss. I really hope that we hear more from these guys.

Perdido Street Station
Perdido Street Station
by China Miéville
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
70 used & new from $0.01

86 of 108 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Overwrought, under-thought, and unfinished, January 11, 2008
If I had a dime for every time Mieville used the words "exudations," "palimpsest," and "femtoscopic"... every mention of bodily excretions... and every time his similes and metaphors made use of bodily excretions and wounds... I would be a rich man indeed. The plot is all over the place, the characters sketchy, and the (never-ending) details of Mieville's world so overwhelmingly nauseating that reading this book was a test of fortitude. He also seems to basically give up about eighty or so pages towards the end. Nonsensical details and new characters pop up out of nowhere, and Mieville side-tracks the narrative into tiresome tangential details. This book really seems to serve as an excuse for Mieville to show off New Crobuzon, constantly reminding us that he's named every street and come up with an endless array of bizarre, unlikable species to inhabit the place. On top of this, looking beyond the over-used steampunk trappings, his creations are sometimes just plain ridiculous. The handlinger sequence, when you really picture it, is just plain silly, e.g., a blindfolded guy flying around upright and shooting fire from his outstretched tongue with a dog strapped to his back. Come on!

I honestly don't understand the acclaim that this book has received. It's a mess. After finishing the last page, I wanted to fling the book across the room.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 27, 2014 8:18 AM PDT

Serenity Role Playing Game
Serenity Role Playing Game
by Jamie Chambers
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $31.94
54 used & new from $19.74

36 of 41 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great license, mediocre game, April 3, 2007
This is a gorgeous book with lavish, full-color art, maps and stills from the "Serenity" film. In this regard, it's a fine product.

However, as a playable RPG, this product is quite lacking.

The writing adopts a 'Verse-esque tone in both the rule content and the opening chapter vignettes that is often cringe-worthy. The book is also fairly disorganized and rules often confusingly presented; expect a lot of page-flipping during initial play. On top of this, the game engine at its core is fairly pedestrian and uninspired, and the GM and player advice is about ten years out of date and actively antithetical to fun gaming. If it were 1997, this might be a passable effort. As it is, what you have is really a half-finished house engine tied to a lucrative license that it does a poor job of representing. That there's a big disclaimer on the writeup for River that states (paraphrased) "These stats do not represent River's ability as presented in the film; she has been modified to better balance with the rest of the crew" should be a red flag to anyone looking to capture the Firefly/Serenity experience with this system. (Why she's even presented as a PC, I have no idea.) I honestly find it somewhat sad that this game is selling in droves to many Browncoats whom I imagine are new to roleplaying. The hobby has progressed so far beyond what's in this game.

There's nothing that this system does that existing systems can't do as well or better. I'd suggest simply pairing your DVDs with an engine that suits your sensibilities (d20, GURPS, FATE*, Primetime Adventures, etc) rather than investing money in this product.

If you do decide to buy this, make sure to get the most current printing (4th, as of this writing), as there have been many significant corrections and rule changes incorporated, as well as an index being added. FYI, the Serenity GM's screen does not include these changes (a source of some confusion for our group).

Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 26, 2013 7:38 PM PST

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