June 3, 2003

Books, Movies, and Single-Engine Interceptor Aircraft
Homicide: Life on the Street is a joy on DVD. Highly recommended. These first two seasons are not my favorites, but they’re great television all the same. I’d seen more of these shows than I’d thought I had back when the show was on the Lifetime cable network, and it’s great fun to watch unexpected people appear on the show: Luis Guzman, John Waters, Juliana Marguiles. Good stuff.

Sara and I caught The Italian Job last week as a means of decompression. It’s a light, tasteful, and often classy picture that strays surprisingly far from formulas considering how closely it sticks to the rules of both heist pictures and vengeance dramas. The obvious dialogue that gets set-up at the beginning of the picture isn’t used in the last three minutes of the movie but in the middle, and the characters actually recognize and make use of these call-backs when they occur. It’s these sorts of little touches that make the film a bit more respectable, on top of its somewhat thin characters and implausible action. Not that the characters and action are a chore, quite the contrary. Director F. Gary Gray just knows where his priorities are: in a stylish, funny, exciting two hours with handsome locales, terrific music, and a delightful cast. The Italian Job doesn’t ask much of its audience, but if you just sit back and let it do its thing, it’ll do all the work that’s necessary to entertain.

I picked up the new click-able Crimson Skies game rules yesterday. If this is what Mr. Weissman is choosing to do with his MageKnight fortune, that’s just fine with me. The $7.95 rules box has everything you need to play this collectible miniatures game. Except for the miniatures, of course; none of those. You get more than your eight dollar’s worth, though. It’s a great package that takes full advantage of its flavor and material, with a handsome leather-looking box and string-tied envelopes suitable for holding all the game’s little pieces. Splitting the game into rules and miniatures is probably a fine idea, though. This way, the kids can buy plastic planes without knowing anything about the game, and gamers like me can start playing with a low overall investment and a choice of beginning armies. I have no idea if it’s a satisfying experience to play, and I’m not crazy about the twin-game approach, but so what? It’s a looker, and if they want to give me a whole other game to go with my pulp 1930s dog-fighting game, I’m fine with that. I can’t wait to get Wagner, Slayer, and Marty together to give this a shot. (You fellas will have to buy your own planes, though, at $15 a pop.)

Which reminds me: The Penumbra Fantasy Bestiary is back early from the printers. This book has been around the office since before I got here, and it’s finally going to meet the gamers. I’ve got fingerprints all over this book, too, so I’m very excited to hear what sort of response it gets. We’ll see, I guess.

Coming soon: my review of A Mighty Wind, for Jim.

Noise: classic jazz from down the hall.


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