News and Notes
Too Fast for Love
One of the most surprising things in all of rock music is that the shameful, embarrassing glam-rock burn-outs known as Mötley Crüe created in their debut one of the absolute best albums of garage-band punk ever made. The stripped-down metal/punk sound of Too Fast for Love is full of genuine youthful energy (totally missing from later Crüe albums), hard-driving metal beats, raucous lyrics and yes, there is a cowbell. The music practically grabs you by the throat; it demands your attention, and it totally kicks ass. Just a few minutes of listening to the sneering ultra-cool guitar work and you'll notice the influence on a dozen mega-successful metal bands. You won't believe this is Mötley Crüe.
Plunk. Plunk. Overoveroverover plunk. Tetris, developed by Russian programmer Alexey Pajitnov in a three-week coding frenzy, is a blissfully simple game: arrange the falling shapes ("tetraminos") to form solid rows of blocks. Since its introduction, Tetris has become perhaps the world's most imitated computer game, with versions available for every platform from the Mac to the PC to the Palm. Even better, tests show that it re-formats players' brain waves, thus porting itself directly from the computer to your personal wetware. Pleasant dreams...
The Golem's Mighty Swing
How odd that America's national pastime has never translated well to comic books, which are arguably America's national art form. There was Will Eisner's Baseball Comics in the late-'40s, and Ray Gotto's Cotton Woods strip in the '50s. But cartoonist James Sturm throws all that out the window and turns to the subtly animated graphics of Japanese baseball comics (or "manga"). In the process, he has made the first American baseball comic that brings the game itself to life. Centered on the Stars of David, a barnstorming Jewish team in the anti-Semitic 1920s, the story equates the sport with aspects of national identity in a way that is neither sentimental nor heavy handed.