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What kinda name is that?

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Menu-Assisted Narrative

Essays, Not Rants! 378: Menu-Assisted Narrative   Mega Man Zero ends with Zero facing down a hoard of Pantheons, his saber ready and his will resolved to fight every last enemy that crosses his path. The music swells and he charges off into battle.   The sequel picks up a year later and the opening stage is you, as Zero, still fighting the fight. The implication is clear: Zero’s been at it for the entire year since the first installment. It offers a neat sense of continuity between the two games

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Bad Taste

Essays, Not Rants! 376: Bad Taste   I really like Iron Man 2. This is not a popular opinion; the movie is usually listed near the bottom of MCU movie rankings, especially when held up against its predecessor.   But I really like it all the same. I suppose there’s no accounting for bad taste.   Perhaps there’s some explanation for my deep affection for this much-maligned movie when the context with which I first saw the film is taken into account. The summer of 2010 saw my heart acting up with

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Shoes

Essays, Not Rants! 377: Shoes   My favorite part of Netflix’s Always Be My Maybe might just be a tiny beat that happens part way through the movie. It’s hardly a big moment, just a bit of table setting that, for someone like me, holds all the more import.   There’s a party, and a couple kids are chasing each other. They run up the steps to the house and, without pausing to think, slip off their shoes before entering. The camera follows them as they run through the house and to the back door wher

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The Wickiness

Essays, Not Rants! 372: The Wickiness   John Wick has a delightfully simple premise: Retired assassin lives okay life. Punk kid steals retired assassin’s car and kills his puppy (that was given to him by his recently deceased wife). Retired assassin un-retires and goes on a brutal rampage of revenge.   Simple, effective.   And honestly, when so many action movies are trying to be super smart with overly complex plots and schemes, "dude gets revenge for dead dog" is wonderfully simple. It harken

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Here Comes The Ending

Essays, Not Rants! 372: Here Comes The Ending   In many ways, I’m super jealous of the writers behind the Game of Thrones tv show. Over the years, they’ve built up an array of excellently developed and flawed characters, well-rounded, conflicted people who are often their own worst enemy. It’s Jon Snow’s loyalty to his homeland that makes his relationship with the Free Folk so fraught, but it’s that relationship that ends up saving his life. Petyr Baelish is delightfully conniving – he’s someone

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Of Places Good

Essays, Not Rants! 370: Of Places Good   I’m not great at watching tv. The act of putting aside everything to sit in front of the television (or, let’s be honest: my laptop) makes me antsy. Watching it with someone’s better, since then I feel like I’m spending time with a friend and so not just sitting around. Point is, all this means binge watching shows isn’t something I’m good at – it notoriously took me four years to ‘binge’ Breaking Bad.   However, building with LEGO makes me feel like I’m
 

Of The End

Essays, Not Rants! 369: Of The End   Reaching the end of a good story is always a bittersweet affair. There’s no doubt a sense of joy in the catharsis of resolution, that sense that the story has been completed and all is well. In a good story, its ending will pay off all that came before. But an ending means it’s over; the story and characters that you’ve spent several hours with are done. You don’t get to be a part of their lives and adventures anymore.   It’s certainly kinda weird: these cha

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Thursday Nights

Essays, Not Rants! 366: Thursday Nights   I don’t know if you heard, but getting tickets for Avengers: Endgame was quite the trip. AMC Theaters’ website full-on crashed and they shut down their (also overloaded app). Other websites, like Fandango were showing errors if you tried to access showings for an AMC. As someone with that fancy-shmancy A-List subscription, this was a real pain (I ended up going to the theater in person to buy my tickets).   This isn’t the first time there’s been a mad da

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Captain Marvel

Essays, Not Rants! 363: Captain Marvel   Captain Marvel’s my favorite superhero. Well, most of the time; every now and then Iron Man noses his back to first place. But that’s beside the point.   Carol Danvers first showed up on my radar in 2013’s Infinity event where she was one of the Avengers fighting bad guys in space. It all culminates with, of course, the Avengers back on Earth fighting Thanos. Captain Marvel’s one of the hardest hitters, and it’s positively epic to see her, Thor, and Hulk

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Top Nine Movies of 2018

Essays, Not Rants! 362: Top Nine Movies of 2018   Captain Marvel came out this weekend but I have other engagements and so cannot nerd out intelligently. Instead, please enjoy a curated selection of movies from the past year that I consider exceptional in one way or another.   As always, there are nine because there’s always space for one more.   9. Bumblebee Look, I’m as surprised as you are. As much as I am a sucker for giant robots, the Transformers movies have hitherto all been cheap thrills

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Showing, Not Telling

Essays, Not Rants! 361: Showing, Not Telling   There’s this saying in writing that you should show, not tell; that is instead of telling the audience about how John is smart, write a scene where we get to see that John is smart. That way the audience can see how smart John is and think to themselves "Wow, John is smart." Idea is because the audience drew their own conclusion (rather than being told such) it’ll resonate more.   A similar rule of thumb applies to video games, except instead of jus

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Ahistoricism

Essays, Not Rants! 354: Ahistoricism   I went into The Favourite like I do with many movies: knowing very little and having seen maybe a part of a trailer. I knew it was a period piece (duh) and there was a Queen in it (also: duh). Anyway, after watching the movie I read up on it on Wikipedia and found, to my immense surprise, that it was somewhat based on actual historical fact. It makes sense enough that I thought this movie was fabricated wholesale: there’s a Queen in power, nobles are vying

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Frickin' Damsels

Essays, Not Rants! 360: Frickin’ Damsels   The original Kingdom Hearts follows a pretty typical story structure. Boy is childhood friends with Girl and Rival. Home gets destroyed, everyone gets separated. Boy sets out to find Girl and Rival. Girl is captured by bad guys, Rival turns to dark side. Boy rescues Girl, helps redeem Rival.   In the third game, Kingdom Hearts II (don’t ask about the numbering), the Girl, Kairi, winds up being captured by the bad guys again and the Boy, Sora, sets out t

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2018 in Review

Essays, Not Rants! 352: 2018 In Review   2018 came and, as years are wont to do, went. Stuff happened, I wrote blog posts; you know the drill. It’s time to look back on the year and stop writing this silly excuse for a preamble.   Five Most Popular/Viewed Posts   #5: On Crazy Rich Asians   As someone who’s spent a good deal of his life in Singapore, it stands to reason that seeing a big movie about Singapore would be a bit of a deal. Crazy Rich Asians is that movie and it’s one that I have a lot

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Exploring Worlds

Essays, Not Rants! 351: Exploring Worlds   I have a complex relationship with open-world games. On the one hand, it’s real neat to get to go explore a big world and do stuff. On the other, I really like the more catered, narrative experience offered by more linear games. On the other other hand, open-worlds are kinda the genre du jour for single-player video games, so I’m gonna end up playing them no matter what.   But first, a definition of open-world games. The idea here is that rather than h

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Top Ten Movie Challenge Thing

Essays, Not Rants! 350: Ten Movie Challenge Thing   There's a lotta images in this one, so rather than working to embed them all here, just click over to the website to read this week's.

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First Man(liness)

Essays, Not Rants! 344: First Man(liness)   I’m a little tired of manly manliness in cinema. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll always have a soft spot Predator, Die Hard, or a good Spaghetti Westerns. But it’s 2018 and I’m kinda tired of that being the MO for male characters, especially manliness for the sake of manliness, like that 50s stoic, silent masculinity. In short, I’m really tired of 'traditional' masculinity, especially when it’s idolized and unquestioned.   Which leads me to First Man, the new

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Classically Petty

Essays, Not Rants! 342: Classically Petty   Don Quixote is a pretty important book, to put it mildly. Often counted one of – if not the – greatest book ever written, it’s definitely something you can categorize under Serious Literature. It’s also home to some outstanding pettiness and a magnificent take that to fan-fiction.   The book was hugely popular right from when it was first published. It didn’t take too long for another writer to think there was something to this delusional adventurer a

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Captain Marvel Trailer

Essays, Not Rants! 339: Captain Marvel Trailer   It’s happening.   It’s finally freaking happening.   On Tuesday we finally got a for Captain Marvel, a movie I’ve been looking forwards to quite incessantly since it was announced way back in 2014. And now, at long last, we’re getting a glimpse of the movie itself and what all it’s gonna be.  Needless to say, I’m somehow even more excited.   Trailers are tricky beasts. Sometimes they give away the entire darn plot. Sometimes they misdirect you

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captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel

captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel capta

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I'm Swinging Here

Essays, Not Rants! 338: I’m Swinging Here   It wasn’t long after I first moved to New York that I found myself really wanting to be Spider-Man. Not for having spider-like strength or the responsibility entailed; nah, what I really wanted were those web-shooters. Confronted by the architectural chasms that make up the city’s downtown, I figured that being able to swing from building to building would really help me get to class quicker. I’m sure there’s something to be said there for how ingrain

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On Crazy Rich Asians

Essays, Not Rants! 337: On Crazy Rich Asians   Crazy Rich Asians is an odd beast for me. It’s a movie based on a book I didn’t really like, but oddly it’s one where I do like the movie over the book. More than that, though, it’s a book set in Singapore, a country I’m not used to seeing on screen. Also where, of all the places I’ve lived, I’ve racked up the most years of residence. And now I’m seeing streets I’ve driven on and places I’ve eaten on a movie screen in New York City.   It’s surreal,

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Artistic Stratification

Essays, Not Rants! 333: Artistic Stratification So the Oscars announced a new category. Is it something like Best Stunt, to acknowledge some of the crazy cool things stuntpeople and Tom Cruise do? Could it be Best Choreography for beautiful fights or films where the blocking of camera and actors plays like a dance? Maybe it’s for Best Color Scheme, which sounds totally arbitrary but you’ve movies like (500) Days of Summer and Pacific Rim that use colors masterfully. The correct answer is none

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Social Experience

Essays, Not Rants! 326: Social Experience   This week, Pokémon Go finally added a friends system. You can now add people as friends and there are fun little bonuses for working together. You can also trade Pokémon back and forth, assuming you both are in close proximity. It’s a wonderful addition and I look forward to checking it out in depth.   But it also raises a big question: Where was this when the game debuted two years ago?   (Also: It’s been two years since Pokémon Go came out?)   Think

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