Keb Mo: The Reflection
Whether you’re familiar with blues artist Keb Mo or not, is irrelevant. If you’re a fan of old school R&B you’ll dig this album. I’ll admit, I’m not much of a fan of straight-up blues. Granted blues has the right amount of lyrical poetry, mellow acoustics and soul, but it just happens to have these things in the wrong enough proportions to make it less than pleasing to my ear.
R&B on the other hand is different story. My Dad was a huge R&B fan so I grew up steeped in artists like Barry White, Luther Vandross, and Earth, Wind & Fire. The Reflection isn’t just a foray into R&B; Keb Mo artistically blends into it layers of blues, pop and jazz. The Whole Enchilada is just a catchy tune and a lyrically interesting play on words. Crush On You is a slightly cheesy albeit heartfelt ballad. One of These Nights is a cover of the Eagles song by the same name and a new take on an old favorite. Walk Through Fire is an interesting and soulful throwback old James Ingram-esque songs from the early 80′s.
Some may find this LP a little too “smooth jazz” With the guest performances by leaders in that relatively cheeseball genre like Dave Koz and Mindy Abair, that’s probably not too far off the mark. Existing fans of Keb Mo’s straight-up blues albums are probably going to loathe this one (likely for the same reasons I enjoyed it and dislike straight-up blues). But if that kind of thing is not likely to bother you it’s worth a listen.
What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures by Malcolm Gladwell
I received this book as a gift from some very good friends who know what I like to read. They must know me even better than I thought they did because they hit this one right on the money.
What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures is a collection of Gladwell’s articles that previously appeared in the New Yorker. I love this kind of format. I tend to read at least 5 or 6 books all at once so when they’re broken down into easily digestible parts I tend to absorb more of what I read simply because I pick something up and put it back down so often. It’s one of the reasons why I loved Chuck Klosterman’s Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs and the format totally works.
Like Klosterman, Gladwell looks at the world in a very deep and unique way. He draws connections and sees correlations which ultimately wind up explaining things that most of us would likely miss. I’ve been to the grocery store thousands of times in my life and I have never once questioned why there are at least twenty different types and brands of mustard, but only one type and two or three brands of ketchup. Gladwell not only notices this, but he sees the reason why and once he’s explained it, it’s so logical you wonder why you never noticed it before.
Some readers may find 20 pages on ketchup boring, but there are plenty of other articles to satisfy your curiosity. How the owner of the Ronco Corporation (Set it and Forget it!) could sell ice to an Inuit, a cautionary story about the inventor of the birth-control pill and a rather amazing article about “The Dog Whisperer” Cesar Millan which focused primarily on his success as an effect of his body language.
My first experience with Gladwell’s work is overwhelmingly positive and I’ll definitely be looking to check out some of his other books.
I’m really batting 1000 with video games lately.
I really wish an independent game studio could come up with a decent summer game. Not that I’m complaining about the new iterations of tried and true franchises, it would just be nice to see something new succeed. If you had seen this trailer which was pretty awesome, you probably had high hopes for Dead Island to do just that:
It did not.
What advertised itself as a story-based survival horror game, actually turned out to be a crappy 1st person shooter with RPG elements. Think Fallout but with unresponsive controls, a buggy interface, horrible weapon degradation, a shitty leveling system and quests that basically amount to fetching crap for an annoying NPC.
The zombies themselves are not zombies like you would expect to see in Dead Rising or Left 4 Dead. They basically are undead punching bags that take forever to die. How the hell can a zombie get back up after I run over it with a truck? The developers obviously did no testing for balance whatsoever.
Anyone who knows me knows I loathe weapon degradation. It’s the modern-day equivalent of the Pac-Man developers just speeding up the ghosts to make it more challenging. In this day and age, with the technology and innovation they have at their disposal to make a game challenging, using a cheap technique like this is inexcusable.
Then there is the story. There have been games that have had their problems but I will always be willing to suffer through them if it tells a good story. Not here. The story was virtually non-existent. I did not care about any of the main characters nor did I give a rat’s ass about any of the irritating NPCs.
Needless to say, Dead Island is yet another game that makes me thankful for rental services like Gamefly because if I had shelled out $65 for this turd of a game I would have been livid. With the 2011 video game harvest season coming up I’m hoping to have some more positive gaming reviews in the very near future, but for Dead Island, I recommend staying as far away from it as possible.