The latest Medal of Honor, Above and Beyond.

It might be difficult to remember at this stage, but early on, the Call of Duty and Medal of Honor games showed a respectful approach to history. Influenced no doubt by Saving Private Ryan — and the relative novelty of a World War II setting in first-person shooters — both lines offered at least token acknowledgment that real people fought and died in the war, and that turning actual battles into Doom (or more aptly, Wolfenstein 3D) might be offensive. The games thus adopted semi-realistic combat, a serious tone, and in some cases documentary-style extras to put things in context.


Herzog (right) with co-director Clive Oppenheimer.

Werner Herzog is one of the world’s least likely cultural icons. Initially famous for directing artistic features like Aguirre: The Wrath of God and Nosferatu the Vampyre, you can now see and hear him in everything from Rick and Morty to The Mandalorian. Not bad for a 78-year-old with a thick German accent. “I’m not stardust,” he jokes at one point in his latest. “I’m Bavarian.”

Fireball: Visitors From Darker Worlds finds him once again behind the camera, but continuing a string of documentaries best described as high-budget personal essays. …


Eddie Redmayne as Students for a Democratic Society leader Tom Hayden.

I’ve never felt any particular affinity for Aaron Sorkin. I respect his talents, to be sure — he’s better at screenwriting than I’ll likely ever be. But even his most ardent fans probably realize that for all his skill, his projects often come across like stageplays, with unnaturally profound and incisive dialogue set against mostly static backdrops. His West Wing reunion is literally a filmed stage production.

The Trial of Chicago 7 — both written and directed by Sorkin — works in no small part because its story demands cutting to realistic action. The movie is set in the aftermath…


Mortal Shell is a step down the right path.

Early in September, we hit a minor landmark in the history of Rogue-likes that probably slipped under most gamers’ radars. It popped up during a Giant Bomb video for a title called Neon Abyss — there’s a moment in the clip when Brad Shoemaker, normally one of the more famous supporters of the genre, seems to betray some real fatigue.

“This is a run-based game…uh, it’s got random item sets…persistent upgrades between runs…” he says in an (even more) deadpan voice. “It’s one of those. I think it’s good.”

The gist is that Rogue-likes — once a novel concept…


For anyone even barely acquainted with The Joy of Painting, the show is synonymous with its host — most people, including myself, simply dub the entire series “Bob Ross.” In truth some of the best episodes see Bob step away from the easel, exposing viewers to different styles of painting, or at least different styles of teaching. You can find most or all of these guest episodes on YouTube — so if you feel like scratching an obscure bit of curiosity, these are the ones I’d recommend first as someone with way too many hours of viewing under my belt.

Mountain Oval (Season 10 Episode 9)


Weightlifting can be extremely intimidating to a newcomer, not the least because our image of it typically comes from professionals — Schwarzenegger, the Rock, Ronnie Coleman. But it doesn’t have to be scary, and really shouldn’t be.

Canadian weightlifter Maude Charron.

We’ll go over an assortment of pointers here, but the first and most important lesson is this: everyone starts somewhere, so don’t be scared. Lifters who bench 300 pounds started with just the bar, people who can do 100 push-ups non-stop probably began with 10, if that much. Focus on your own progress and you’ll be much happier.

With that in check let’s…


Revenge of the Nerds.

If you’d met me growing up — any time before 24, really — you would’ve never pegged me as a future weightlifter. My primary hobby was PC games, and I was barely into physical activity, much less spending hours in a gym. My biggest athletic achievement in childhood was winning a 50-meter dash. By my teen years, I couldn’t run more than a lap around my school’s outdoor track without chest cramps.

I still play games, and I’m still uninterested in sports — siding with Chomsky’s take that pro-league fandom is “training in irrational jingoism” — but by my mid-20s…


Behemoth.

Open-minded taste in music is a good thing, many people would agree. No one wants others to reject their personal favorites, and over time, people inevitably run into songs that make them reconsider a genre. I appreciate country, for instance, mostly because of songs by Johnny Cash and Hank Williams.

It’s just a minority of us though that pick artists and genres that make no pretense of wanting casual listeners, or even deliberately antagonize them. …


It was merely a couple of years ago that e-scooter and bike rental companies were exploding in the US, poised to swallow cities whole. Were it not for the current pandemic, business models would probably be shaking themselves out and setting the stage for personal electric vehicles (PEVs) as a permanent fixture of urban life.

Scooters cruising down Congress in Austin, Texas.

It’s hard to say what will happen once American cities reopen permanently, except that companies like Uber and Lime will continue to suffer for a while, if they can keep their rental services afloat at all. …


In a Hollywood story, this perhaps would be the part where I stress getting these words down before The End. The COVID-19 pandemic is ravaging the world as I write this — yet for now I’m not only healthy, but keeping up with my weightlifting as best I can. I’m in better shape at 40 than I was at 20.

I won’t claim to have stumbled on any major revelations, either. No, the premise here is simply passing on advice that’s rarely spoken out loud, or which is, but which my fleeting memory is determined to erase. With my own…

Roger Fingas

Writer and editor, formerly with AppleInsider.

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