Ellroy as a writer has never been afraid to try out new styles. As a reader this generally at first elicits confusion and then joy. It's hard work but worth it.
He's also more into killing off main characters than Martin is in Game Of Thrones. (In one book he killed off the narrator halfway through.)
Both of those thing converge in This Storm. Half the narrative is written in a mix of White Jazz/The Cold Six Thousand style. The other half - pages from Kay Lake's diary are written as a traditional narrative.
The key is though that while the main narrative is reliable, Kay Lake's diary is not. It's somewhere between 60% and 70% true and if you want to follow this story you have to take what Kay writes with a grain of salt until you see it happen in the main narrative.
But, that's OK, because this is Kay's story - and how she views things matters.
It's Ellroy's first attempt at having a woman be the main protagonist. And she's a 22 year old women surrounded by men in the late 30s to early 50s. Of course she's going to rewrite history a bit to make herself seem more important.
It takes a while though to realize this book is about Kay. There are several other protagonists introduced who seem like they will be the main deal.
Then, they are all killed off in the first third of the book.
Kay is fascinating. She lives with a cop, but doesn't fuck him. Instead he gets off on her cuckolding him. And boy does she.
There are two main guys she is fucking - though she fucks roughly five other guys - and one of them is Lt. Bill Parker - who students of history know will eventually become the Chief Parker that Parker Center is named after.
Her main antagonist is Dudley Smith LA cop, in Army intelligence and a closet dope fiend Nazi.
For reasons far too complex to explain here neither can go after the other one directly. So they have to move people into place and make things happen.
All of this is set to the background of a gold heist. And everyone is after the gold.
This takes us from Mexico to Northern California. A particularly interesting character is a gay Japanese man who is in love with Dudley but also in a gay male thrall for Kay. Which way he turns will become the linchpin for the story.
What eventually happens is a cascade of violence and betrayal that will nearly destroy both Kay and Dudley.
All in all a fascinating installment that eventually makes the argument that Nazis and Communists are two sides of the same coin - both of them out to destroy democracy and put tough men into power.
That theory plays true and plays out in ways you wont' expect.
After a two year break I'm bringing March Rock And Roll Madness back.
Different categories this year.
3. Rap/Hip Hop
Make your nominations in the comments.
I have now put at least 90 hours into playing Red Dead Redemption 2. And probably a lot more hours than that.
And I love it.
But what I love about it won't be what you love about it. Because that's the nature of the game. It can be anything you want it to be.
I never hunted.
I never bought anything in the shops other than scopes for my rifles. (I could pick up other stuff just naturally.)
I mostly hated shooting. I mean the shooting system belongs on a Nitendo 64 it's so crappy.
But man, walking around as Arthur or John and talking to people was awesome.
I loved playing poker and blackjack.
I loved exploring every stranger quest.
I liked helping that guy take pictures.
I even loved helping that guy out with his weirdo zoo.
And the doomed painter. And the guy who was trying to make remote controlled battle ships.
And holy jesus fuck the tall guy and the midget brother and handling their shit.
All of which you can completely skip and just hunt or just buy stuff or just do the main game.
It's been a long time - if ever -since I've played a game that really let you do whatever the fuck you want.
And that's a good thing.
One of my friends is a fin domme.
For those of you who don't know what that is it's a woman who gets a guy to pay her money simply by being insulting to him. No touching. No sex. No nudity.
Normally she just does this online but one of her subs - who lives in northern France - was going to be in our area for a day. He promised to buy her 600 euros worth of stuff if she'd meet him in person.
So, she hit me up to be her bodyguard.
Now, I've never been a bodyguard before but figured "fuck it."
I found my summer shades in my old beach bag. I showered but didn't shave. I put on my black leather jacket and practice mean looks in the mirror.
We all agree to meet at this dive bar near my house. The girl and I meet up and wait.
He's like 15 minutes late. When he turns up I stare him down while he apologizes.
The dude is skinny and mousey and clearly nervous.
This makes me stare him down even more.
Now he's from up north and thought it would be warm here. So he didn't put on a coat.
Therefore we sit outside and drink coffee while this guy freezes.
Finally after about an hour she decides she's ok and gives me the signal.
They go off to the mall where he buys her all the stuff she wants.
We make him think we are meeting up when she's done and during the date she says he was "sweet and non invasive."
All in all a pretty good afternoon.
It's a really nice lesbian/trans game. It's also bloody gruesome.
Two girlfriends go to an island. One disappears. The other goes looking for her and finds out that she can essentially die and keep going. Often she has to cut off a limb and use it to move forward.
Meanwhile you are chased by a demon who is her subconscious. She has to beat what's been holding her back in order to win the game.
This is a puzzle game and some of the puzzles are really hard. (I had to wait a week before the walkthrough came out to beat one puzzle. All the others I was able to figure out on my own eventually.)
The graphics are not great. On the level of a PS2 game. And you can only move left or right. That didn't bother me. Might bother you.
But for a cheap indie game I found it excellent.
Well it's a weird year for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.
Every nominee has the chops to get in. That's never happened before.
So wagering is going to be tough but I'll do it.
Def Leppard - One armed drummer counts in their favor. But they are considered too Gen X for the older voters and not Gen X enough for the younger voters. Not getting in.
Devo - A lock. They are exactly what Grohl and his contingent want in the hall.
Janet Jackson - I th ink she'll get in this time. But it's 50/50. Lot of racists and sexists in the hall.
John Prine - The one 100% total lock. He's old. He survived cancer and he's great.
Kraftwerk. No way.
LL Cool J. If he gets in Janet doesn't' get in. If Janet get s in he doesn't get in. 50/50.
Radiohead - Will get in because they like to have one popular band every year.
Rage Against the Machine - Deserve to get in but will not.
Roxy Music - Another year when there is less competition.
Stevie Nicks - 80/20. Really helped by Tom Petty dying.
The Cure - Yeah. Total lock.
Todd Rundgren - Nope.
Rufus & Chaka Kahn - Nope.
The Zombies - Will get in but with some type of special award.
A Star Is Born is a really mixed bag.
First off - and I haven't like him since Alias - Bradely Cooper is amazing in the role. You can see him as being just talented enough for a woman to try to save and not strong enough for him to let her.
Now. Lady Ga Ga. Wonderful in the first third of the movie. It was really great to see her as a normal person and not someone in a meat dress or whatever. But there is no chemistry at all on her end. SWSNBN thinks it's because in real life she knows Bradely is gay and can't see him as a realistic romantic partner. Whatever the reason she's just like "eh, he gets drunk" and you never ever see her have an expression of passion for him.
Also they introduce her as a woman who can sing with the Eddie Vedder type rockers and write songs like them, but then the movie turns her into a pop star with dancers and shit and essentially makes her Lady Ga Ga. That's a huge mistake. She should have stayed with what she spends the first third of the movie doing and ended up doing the rock thing better than Bradely Cooper.
Finally in the other versions of the film the suicide/not suicide thing is ambiguous. Here it's a clear suicide that he's somehow pushed into my her manager. And that just doesn't work.
But overall? The movie is far better than I expected. I just wish the entire film had been as good as the start.
And now it comes to the end of the Nathan Drake Collection.
This is the best of the bundle. Almost as good as Uncharted 4.
Very good balance of puzzles, climbing and shooting.
The only part I didn't like was the two sections where you have to play while on a hallucinogenic drug. Mostly because they made me a bit sea sick.
Also was sort of disappointed at the last boss fight - it was crazy easy.
But that's not a huge problem.
All in all a stellar game.
Man Uncharted 2 is much better than Uncharted 1.
No zombies. No insta kill snipers. No fucking barrels in a lake to blow up.
Just climbing, killing soldiers and looking at pretty things.
I love that both women are clearly much smarter than Drake.
Could have done without the Yeti but since I actually didn't have to fight them that was fine.
It's interesting how these games developed.
I think with the first game they just threw every idea they had at it and waited to see what would stick. Some worked out well and some were shitty.
In this second iteration they've decided what type of game they want to be and just go after it hard.
Five out of five stars.
Onward to Uncharted 3
I loved Uncharted 4 and I loved the sequel to it.
So when Sony announced they were going to have the first three Uncharted games as a bundle called The Nathan Drake Collection at a discounted price - 30 euros for all three games - I had to get it.
Spent the last three weeks playing Uncharted 1 - Drake's Fortune.
1. Wow for an old game this is beautiful.
2. The puzzles toward the start of the game are beautiful.
3. So is climbing and jumping.
4. At the start of the game there is a really good balance between puzzles, jumping/climbing and combat.
5. But man does that fall apart towards the end of the game. I made it through 20 of 22 levels and just gave up. Because the game had become "Move from point A to point B and shoot people." That's not why I play an Uncharted game. If I want that I'll play Wolfenstein.
6. Also what the fuck with giving us zombies at the end? Did they not know where this entire story was going?
7. Other than that great fun. I bailed that late into it because I googled and it was just going to be more and more shooting. But for the first 16 levels or so It's great. And it gave me three weeks of fun.
Overall rating - 4 out of 5 stars.
Now off to Uncharted 2