"The Yiddish Policeman's Union," by Michael Chabon: Another great one from Chabon. Not quite as rich and chunky as "Cavalier and Clay," for which he won the Pulitzer... but truly great. Chabon is an author you have to read slowly, as his prose is dense with wonderful description, idiom and thoughtful insights. Like C&C, though, I did feel that the ending was a bit... short. It just kinda stops. Yeah, I know... that happens a lot in crime thrillers, and "literary" works. But I was still hoping for at least a teaspoonful of denouement. Still... a fantastic read. A must for any alternative history fan. Grade: A-
Boom Blox game for the Wii. It's virtual Jenga with angry devil monkeys and explosives. If you need more of a description or review than that, this game is not for you. If, however, that description makes you think, "Hell, yeah! That's what Jenga has always needed! Devil monkeys and bombs! Awesome!"... than you should go out, right now, and buy this game. It is, in fact, awesome. Single player adventure, party fun, and build-your-own modes all are great. Taking off 1/2 grade because in the built it mode you are limited in the number of blocks you can place, and because you can only rotate blocks by 90-degrees, making real domino chains kinda a pain. Also, the music can't be turned off and gets repetitive. Minor quibbles. A-
Speed Racer. Hot tranny mess. Racing can't be exciting when the laws of physics are entirely ignored. Doing the seemingly impossible isn't astounding when everything that's being done is impossible. It's not racing... it's neon vegas pinball acid fireworks slap happy zoom spazz. Which, if you're my 8-year-old son, ends up being, "OK." More Christina Ricci, please, and less Rain. John Goodman and Susan Sarandon are wasted on this. Or the script is wasted on them. Or something. C-
Mario Kart Wii. Way more fun that Speed Racer. Good, funky, chirpy karting fun. Good characters, good graphics, a decent set of tracks, varied music. Can be frustrating because you can go from 1st to 12th place in an instant if it's a close race and you get hit by one of the disruptive pick-ups that racers can, well, pick up. Half-grade bonus for including cycles as well as karts. The wheel thingy is lots of fun, too. B+
Iron Man. Pimp my hide. Fun, fast, shallow. It's a comic book movie... whaddya want? Solid B.