Top 100 Novel Review: Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace (1996)

The Jokes On Us.

People proudly wear a masochistic badge of honor when they successfully complete this book. Unfortunately, I will not be eligible. 

6759.jpg
Click here for TIME Magazine’s list. 
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586

I have some bad news for all of you: one day, your body will begin to fail and you will reflect on how you spent your time. All the day-to-day trifling matters that soaked up our energy will be revisited with regret as this new found perspective will rightfully quarantine them as meaningless distractions. The things that made our spirits soar, people we knew, things we felt, the experience of life, will come gushing forth in a bittersweet nostalgia.

This book was destined to be a trifling matter, and I refuse to spend anymore time with this meaningless distraction. If reading is permissible in an infinite afterlife, Infinite Jest still doesn’t make the list.

Continue reading “Top 100 Novel Review: Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace (1996)”

Top 100 SNES Games: #72 – NBA Jam (1993)

I Bet Kevin Durant Can’t Dunk From Half Court.

But I can! Where’s my $164 million over four years?
NBA Jam Title Screen
Sydlexia’s Ranking: #72/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550

There must be some abstract equation that correlates creativity with limitation. One would think that boundless space would lead to unfeathered creativity, but I think that’s incorrect: only when we are restricted do we see our true imagination unfold.

You couldn’t actually simulate a basketball game in the 90s — the technology wasn’t powerful enough. So instead, they made a game that looked kind of like basketball by having a court, a ball, and rim. Then they layered on top impossible, acrobatic dunks that were as ridiculous as they were infectious. The end product is unlike the very thing it tries to imitate, but it is more fun and accessible than something realistic — and this game is anything but realistic.

Continue reading “Top 100 SNES Games: #72 – NBA Jam (1993)”

Top 100 SNES Review: #42- Kirby Super Star (1996)

I Hated It…UNTIL I LOVED IT!

Kirby almost pulled a fast one one me, trying to make me think this game sucked. 

Kirby Super Star Title Screen
Sydlexia’s Ranking: #42/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586

For my fellow friends who have a SNES Classic, none of them understand this game. When you first log in, you are greeted by an office bulletin board with various posters hanging up. Each poster represents one of the “eight” games advertised on the cover. Some of them are extremely short mini-games that are worth maybe 60 seconds of investigation while others are more traditional Kirby but still insanely brief.

Thus, it’s possible to pop into Kirby’s universe, bounce around for a little bit, and then exit unsatisfied having frittered away your Saturday afternoon. I was feeling the same way as all my buddies until everything changed: The Revenge of Meta Knight, a goofy, plot-centric mission to destroy an airship leads to good, wholesome fun. After that, I imbibed everything this game had to offer, just like Kirby → → → <(“<)

Continue reading “Top 100 SNES Review: #42- Kirby Super Star (1996)”

Top 100 XBox 360 Review: #2 – Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011)

Still Impressive…But.

Its impact was a bit blunted this time — the game relies on the intrigue of figuring out the mechanics of the world and not the world itself. 

56c03309642be6d3a455693251d3718f85706063.jpg
Game FAQs Ranking:  #3
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586

Video games rarely bleed over into a community event: they occur in palely lit rooms as a lone figure casts a backdrop from the saturated monitor light. Skyrim was a whole other story.

I never owned an Xbox360 or Playstation 3, but my new roommate did. I discovered Oblivion and devoured it quickly. He told me the next installment was just around the corner with the date being an easy to remember 11/11/11. When the day came, I woke up early (for my college days that is), and headed to my local Gamestop. Complete chaos. There was a line out the door, some in cosplay, as we all waited to get our hands on the next seminal event in video games.

Skyrim lived up to its expectations. I spent the next months/years exploring every nook and cranny. It has an amazing ability to get out of the way and let you do whatever ever you want. I cycled through all the possible combinations from Thief-Archer Kajhit to War Hammer-wielding Ogre. Betheseda has perfected the art of reward as you slowly nibble and navigate down an endless candy trail, always doing just “one more thing” for the next prize. Then you realize it is 2:00am. Yikes.

This time around, though, I learned something that lessened the game in my estimation, if even just by a little bit. The excitement and intrigue of this game did not come from the characters or story. The world is filled with thousands to meet, but they are mostly means to an end: to figure out how the man behind the curtain operates.

Continue reading “Top 100 XBox 360 Review: #2 – Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011)”

Top 100 Non-Fiction Book: #51 – In Cold Blood, Truman Capote (1966)

A Superb Non-Fiction Novel.

The mostly true account with occasional machination is high-level storytelling. 

41GpHh-5KFL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg 
The Greatest Book’s Ranking: #51/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586

I tend to enjoy works that have multiple different angles. It allows you to soak up a little bit of everything with a discursive interest, never being bored. When the whole is made greater by the intertwining, distinct parts is when things become a work of art; In Cold Blood is that kind of book.

Capote is a masterful story teller when describing the abstract human psyche. He finds such concrete and relatable descriptions that the ineffable becomes intelligible. The setting of Kansas, with its isolation and bucolic life, bursts forth from the pages. The horrendous crime captivates even though we know the killers and the outcome. A switching narrative, between victims, perpetrators, and community, creates a complete 360 of immersion.

This is as close as you can get to a lived experience from a book.

Continue reading “Top 100 Non-Fiction Book: #51 – In Cold Blood, Truman Capote (1966)”

Top 100 Album Review: #19 – Astral Weeks, Van Morrison (1968)

Aimless Wailing.

Squalling and yelling on top of multiple layers of improvised classical, jazz, and folk.

91XxgoAk6TL._SL1500_

Rolling Stone’s Ranking: #21/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586

There is a lady who sings international music on the sidewalks of Carytown in Richmond, VA. Densely-populated with shops and restaurants, she sings inaudible oscillating pitches while improvising on foreign instruments as the shapeless crowd passes by. As far as street performances go, it’s okay.

To my knowledge, she’s never placed an album on a top 100 list which makes sense. Her venue matches her output. Astral Weeks, absolutely similar with undecipherable yelps and forgettable compositions, would be right at home on the same city side-block as her.

Continue reading “Top 100 Album Review: #19 – Astral Weeks, Van Morrison (1968)”

Top 100 Album Review: #23 – Innervisions, Stevie Wonder (1973)

Might Be My Favorite Album of All-Time.

I can’t find anything to debase — everything is perfectly as it should be. 

Innervisions-500x500.jpg
Rolling Stone’s Ranking: #23/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550

If I had to answer the impossible question of “What’s your favorite album of all-time?” this would be labeled Exhibit A in the evidence. Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions does everything well: it’s an eclectic collection of genres; it’s poppy, catchy, and weird all at once; it’s socially conscious and meaningful.

A deeply personal account that pierces your ego, it’s a rare piece of art where performer and listener almost overlap. Certain lyrics and measures cut me to the bone. The last time I remember someone being this open with their feelings on vinyl was Joni Mitchell’s Blue. The best part: it’s from a pop master, with every song sticking with you for days (or in my case, years).

Continue reading “Top 100 Album Review: #23 – Innervisions, Stevie Wonder (1973)”