Ben Rhodes

Ben Rhodes (240)

Favorite Book:  Cryptonomicon
Favorite MovieYoung Frankenstein
Favorite Absolutely Everything:  Monty Python

Mongoliad - USEI recently got the chance to read The Mongoliad: Book One by Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, Mark Teppo, E.D. deBirmingham, Erik Bear, Joseph Brassey, and Cooper Moo. Fair warning, Neal Stephenson is my favorite author, so I am likely to read any of his stuff with my fanboy glasses on. Now, you might have the same reaction I did when you see all those names. That’s nearly enough for a curling match, you might say. This seems like a lot of authors to write a book, even a series that is as long as this one promises to be. So, what gives? Unfortunately for you, I want to get into the question of is it good first. Sorry.

So, is it good? Yes.

Alright, moving on.


Dollhouse v1 epitaphsI am not going to lie; I am slightly intimidated by this review. How do I discuss a comic that takes place after a TV show? Do I assume that my audience has seen the show? Do I flash a big spoiler warning? Is it lazy writing to fill the intro with rhetorical questions?

For the moment I will approach this review as if you have seen as much of Dollhouse as I have, which is to say, Season 1. Sorry, Bryant. If you want to be surprised every step of the way with the show, then I suggest you read something else.



Mass Effect 3So, I have just finished Mass Effect 3, and I am disappointed. Not by the game, but by the whiney internet.

While I will not address individual plot points, I will discuss the ending to a trilogy. So, umm…



The Adventures of Tintin 10Yes, The Adventures of Tintin is very similar to Raiders of the Lost Ark. Yes, that is a good thing.

Like Raiders, Tintin has a timelessness and charm that absolutely beguiled me. The movie is set in a timeless Europe, but not in any real country. It could be London, Paris, or whatever that city is in Belgium. This looseness with geography follows the entire movie, as Tintin travels from vague Europe to vague North Africa in search of a legendary ship. Along the way, he encounters strange characters, mysteries, and danger at every turn. Tintin is a Boy Scout, and not the most interesting character in his own movie. He is a very entertaining detective, though. And, he is frequently upstaged by his dog Snowy.


Terminal CityIt is tempting to say that Terminal City is one part this with a hint of that, or a cross between something and something completely different. The problem is that this is too easy a comparison to make. I am as big a fan of this device as the next guy, but this book is dependent on all of its inspirations and still completely original.


MonstermenCoverFrom the silent maternity hall in a long-abandoned hospital, the strange offspring of H.P. Lovecraft and Mike Mignola crawls to the surface. Monstermen, by Gary Gianni, revels in the weird and unexplained, while letting us laugh at the thing that goes bump in the night. Gianni, best known for his work on the current run of Prince Valiant, brings us a truly odd supernatural world.


AfrikaAfrika, the newly translated comic by the Belgian artist Hermann, is a lush story of obsession, set (unsurprisingly) in Africa. There poachers, governments, and nature herself come into conflict with one man.


Mass Effect 2Two years ago, the sequel to a promising action RPG was released to near universal acclaim. Mass Effect 2 solved most of the issues that plagued the first game in the series and redefined what it means to be a role-playing game. Despite earning over 70 perfect scores and winning numerous Game of the Year awards, there are still a few lost souls who have not played this game. Let me tell you why you should, and if you have played it, why you should play it again.

The story.

Disney princessesHere’s why I hate Disney.

I don’t hate Disney because of the way they steal traditional stories, that stupid greedy vault, or even the fact that they seem incapable of producing an animated movie without someone breaking into song. I hate Disney for their gender politics.

I will exclude Pixar from this, because they are so removed from Disney proper and so often avoid the “princess gets in trouble, prince saves the day” nonsense.


MI - GPThe thing I was most excited about going in to see Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol was the director. Brad Bird has directed some truly wonderful movies, like The Iron Giant (which, I have to confess, I haven’t seen), Ratatouille, and The Incredibles. I was not disappointed. The direction was easily the best part of the movie. The acting was generally serviceable, but the script was pretty poor. The chief complaint I have with the movie is that so many of the scenes seemed to be there because they wanted a cool scene with a Bollywood flair, or a throwback to the first Mission: Impossible. I have no problems when a movie does something because it is cool, because I love action movies. My issue comes when it is obvious. An example of this could be that in M:I 3, I had no problem with the ambush on the bridge, because a bridge is a perfect spot for an ambush. In M:I 2, the motorcycle front wheelie move was designed by John Woo to be cool, and didn’t make sense in any other context. M:I - GP generally had a good reason for the action set pieces, but there were a few that just bugged me.

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