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Entries in Pawl Schwartz (39)

Tuesday
May172016

Doom

Doom | PS4
Released: May 13th 2016
Developer/Publisher: Bethesda
Grade: 5 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: Pawl Schwartz

Doom
is a game that deserves the self-titled reboot, which, when dealing with a game as historic and genre-changing as the Doom franchise, is saying a whole hell of a lot. It’s a name older and bigger than Half-Life, that actually delivers sequels at a slow but steady pace, putting so much work and industrial-love into each edition that we never have to worry about a Duke Nukem Forever type situation happening, despite id Software’s long and messy history.

Everything about Doom is just so viscerally loud, violent, and smooth, all delivered with that un-nameable Doom-ness about it, updated quite perfectly from the graphical hell that the original game looks like nowadays.

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Tuesday
Feb232016

Omega Gray

Omega Gray
Author/Publisher: Seb Doubinsky/Bizarro Pulp Press
Release Date: Feb 1st, 2016
Grade: 5 out of 5 meaty fucking balls
Reviewed By: Pawl Schwartz

Omega Gray
will rearrange your face. If you know who John C. Lilly is — well, this is a welcome addition to the canon of psychedelic literature — coming from the land of bizarro. Not entirely unexpected, but only in the sense that you never know what to expect from a bizarro author like Seb.

The thesis of this work: “As a neurophysicist, what he wanted to know was if Death, as a physical place, was only a figment of our imagination, or if it was another dimension which we accessed through the process of dying.”

Not hooked? Omega Gray opens in the jungle with our protagonist, a college professor, sampling ayahuasca (I assume) for the first time, testing the above thesis by trying all manner of psychedelics in order to try and break through to the other real dimension that is death.

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Sunday
Nov152015

Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits: A Novel

Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits: A Novel
Author/Publisher: David Wong/Thomas Dunne Books
Release Date: Oct 6th, 2015
Grade: 5 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed By: Pawl Schwartz

Wong has excelled so far, graduating from Cracked.com university and now on to being a big-time author. His first book you already know is John Dies at the End, a fun-as-hell, hilarious ride for any fan of the great horror comedies (Evil Dead, Dead and Breakfast, Shaun of the Dead, etc.), which was made into a pretty mediocre movie. Weird, right? Wong is horror/comedy on the page, but when translated to film, it just doesn’t feel as explosive or clever. Perhaps it’s because I read the book first; but one thing is for sure: Wong hasn’t painted himself into a corner with his genre island, and he has excelled in his newest novel Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits.

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Wednesday
Sep022015

Armada

Armada
Author/Publisher: Ernest Cline/Crown
Release Date: July 14th, 2015
Grade: 3.5 out of 5 Meatballs
Reviewed by: Pawl Schwartz

If you were expecting this book to break new and exciting ground, then put a pin on those expectations now. For better or for worse, Cline has opted to venture down a path that is similar in story, content, and structure to Ready Player One in order to cement his authorial identity and territory, rather than striking out boldly in any new direction.

Armada, as Cline hinted in many pre-release interviews, is as close as we have gotten to a modern Ender’s Game. It could easily be called Ernest Cline’s Ender’s Game without a single change to the story.

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Thursday
Jul022015

The Familiar: Volume 1, One Rainy Day In May

The Familiar: Volume 1, One Rainy Day In May
Author/Publisher: Mark Z Danielewski/Pantheon
Release Date: May 12th, 2015
Grade: 2.5 out of 5 Meatballs
Reviewed by: Pawl Schwartz

Danielewski is a hard author for me to ignore. New, original, inventive, experimental, and highly visual, using the language of Comics and Film to spread words around the page like a verbal Jackson Pollock, throwing traditional formatting out of eight different windows to get there. I loved House of Leaves but have been disappointed in everything he has put out since that work because of one large glaring flaw: Danielewski’s formatting play and dense, beautiful language (especially in Only Revolutions) often serve as pseudo-intellectual window dressing for a very simple or very underdeveloped story, like a cake made of icing. I’ve often wondered if I was tricked by this on my first go-round with Danielewski in House of Leaves, but on re-read, I’ve come to the conclusion that House of Leaves is in fact good, just not as good as I thought it was. The experimental window dressing in House of Leaves informs the story for the most part, except for the fact that it allows the novel to come to no conclusion by cloaking even the narrative in a guise of “the mysterious unknown” that is the source of the horror of the ever-growing house.

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Thursday
Jul022015

Satin Island

Satin Island
Author/Publisher: Tom McCarthy/Knopf
Release Date: February 17th, 2015
Grade: 1 out of 5 Meatballs
Reviewed by: Pawl Schwartz

This is a book for those who revel in the abstract world of ideas. Both crunchy-philosophers reading Alan Watts and straight-laced academics reading Levi-Strauss or Slavoj Zizek. Satin Island is full of rare-gem aphorisms such as: “The first move for any strategy of cultural production… must be to liberate things — objects, situations, systems — into uselessness” or “A city has no “character”; it is a schizoid headspace, filled with the cacophony of contradiction.”

Satin Island starts out dry, seemingly to create a tricky gauntlet through which the reader must pass in order to prove their worthiness and appreciation for the meat of the book. All we get for the first 30 pages is anthropological jargon, from which we deduce that the main character U is writing a large study/theory on the whole world known as “The Great Report.” But U’s main job is writing these reports about a certain major corporation, of which he is in the direct employ of.

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Tuesday
Jun022015

Splatoon

Splatoon | WiiU
Released: May 28, 2015
Developer/Publisher: Nintendo
Grade: 5 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: Pawl Schwartz

Holy shit, Nintendo actually cranked out a new IP (independent property). In the midst of what has been a lackluster era (the 3DS has been selling well, but a successor to the WiiU is already in the works), Nintendo has taken about a billion steps forward by releasing Splatoon. Not only does it get Nintendo out of the self-centered suicide spin of recycling 20-year-old IPs on the constant (due to lack of third party support on the WiiU), it also tears the family friendly company a new loophole that allows it to reinvent and finally join the MMOFPS arena.

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Friday
May082015

Mortal Kombat X

Mortal Kombat X | PS4/PS3 & Xbox 360 (soon)/Xbox One
Released: April 14th, 2015
Developer/Publisher: NetherRealm/Warner Brothers
Grade: 5 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: Pawl Schwartz

It's hard to believe that many years ago this franchise actually survived a bloodless release on Super Nintendo. Simply view the screenshots for the slap happy level of carnage that Mortal Kombat X serves up. Medical students wouldn't be wrong to call a night with this game “studying musculature,” with all of the beautifully rendered X-ray moves.

If you have ever been addicted to a video game (and as a gamer reading this article, I assume that has happened to you, the same way any reader has experienced that crack-like "page turning effect" when reading a good book), you will be severely addicted to this game. It is as simple as that.

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Thursday
Nov202014

Three Hundred Million

Three Hundred Million
Author/Publisher: Blake Butler/Harper Perennial
Release Date: October 14th, 2014
Grade: 5 out of 5 Meatballs
Reviewed by: Pawl Schwartz

Three Hundred Million blasts off like an LSD pipe bomb from page one, beginning in a messy big bang of vague, sociopathic declarations and aphasia-level word-salad that washes over and through the rest of the book like static on a TV, always struggling against the solid footing given to the reader by the interspersed monologues of "normal people," Gravey's "boys," and how they were drawn to our disoriented narrator, the thing inside Gravey.

“The World occurs because of god,” the book starts. “In our year here god is not a being but a system, composed in dehydrated fugue. Under terror-sleep alive we hear it heaving in and out from the long bruises on our communal eternal corpse, consuming memory. The wrecking flesh of Him surrounds, holds us laced together every hour, overflowing and wide open, permeable to inverse, which no identity survives.”

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Monday
Oct132014

Destiny

Destiny | PS4/PS3 Xbox 360/Xbox One
Released: Sept 9th, 2014
Developer/Publisher: Bungie/Activision & Sony
Grade: 2.75 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: Pawl Schwartz

Frankly, I’m pissed. After ten minutes of research online, I have determined that I have, in fact, beaten the highly anticipated video game known as Destiny. I downloaded it five days ago, and it’s already over. Epic? More like a gorgeous two-pump-chump as it stands now.

It was all roses and puppy dogs back at level ten. I had my four or five planets open as locations to travel to in order to do missions, and I never saw anyone over level 25 (this was early into the release). “Oh,” I think to myself, “another area must open up after level 25” because, if I was already at level 10 after a good solid sitting of play, 25 couldn’t be the end.

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