Essays, Not Rants! 277: Haven’t We Heard This Before? Spider-Man’s a superhero whose central theme is conveniently spelled out for us: with great power comes great responsibility. And it’s a great one too. A nobody gets given amazing powers and has to learn what to do with them. It's a pretty essential part of most incarnations of Spider-Man, be it Miles Morales or even more recently when it's Gwen Stacy that gets bitten by the radioactive spider and becomes Spider-Woman. It's always that bala
Essays, Not Rants! 276: Hanging Out Upon having it recommended to me independently by two friends, I’ve finally started reading The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. And the book’s delightful; it’s a space opera about people on a ship written by a writer who’s clearly seen the same movies, read the same books, and played the same video games as me. It’s one of those books I can’t stop reading but don’t want to end. It's a very episodic book; while there is a definite narrative throughline,
Y'know how when you're younger you figure when you're an adult you can buy all the LEGO you want? And then when you're an adult you realize you gotta budget for it? And then you do budget for it (by rearranging some priorities [movies and alcohol took a hit])? And then you get an employee discount? And then you save your money until double VIP points roll around and then you buy a bunch? And then you get a backlog? Yeah.
Essays, Not Rants! 275: Why Am I Reading This? There aren’t a lot of books that take place in Singapore. Wikipedia’s category page for Novels Set in Singapore lists only twenty-six. Now, there are books missing from that list (I added one to the list while writing this), but let’s take this as a sample group. A cursory glance shows that many of these books are not set in contemporary Singapore, but rather around the second World War or before the country was established as it is now. None of t
Essays, Not Rants! 274: Andromeda After The Fact I finally finished my first playthrough of Mass Effect: Andromeda and dutifully started my second (this time as Sara instead of Scott). Ramping up the difficulty to Insanity makes combat much more frantic (and thereby makes the brilliant combat systems that much more fun), but we’ll see how far I get through it before I decide to finally replay Uncharted 4 because a) it’s a better game, 2) I haven’t replayed it, and iii) my god I want to play a
Essays, Not Rants! 273: Mixed Results I really liked the movie Balto as a kid. And for a kid, it makes sense. It’s about a talking dog, and there’s a goose and a couple polar bears in it too. Plus it’s a story about the outsider getting a chance to prove they belong by doing an Epic Heroic Thing and earning their place.’ Also, it’s a story about being mixed. Like me. I’m mixed, biracial, half-Asian; whatever the term du jour is. Which is something I mention every now and then on this blo
Essays, Not Rants! 272: But What About The Men??? 2: Sexy Lamps Back at a con panel in 2013, Kelly Sue DeConnick (writer of Captain Marvel, etc) coined the Sexy Lamp Test. Its rubric is that if you can take a female character out of a story and replace her with a sexy lamp and your plot still works, then "you’re a [beeping] hack." Like all tests used to judge stories (ie: Bechdel), it’s not perfect – mostly because it’s a little too vague. But it still provides a good starting point to examine
So I moved. Was gonna move before the fire, but the fire kinda expedited the actual moving. Already had a place. Was mostly packed. So that went smooth. New place. Brother and I moved in with my drinking buddy – she and I get along grand even when we aren't drinking. We're in Queens now. New neighborhood, new haunts. Getting the lay of the land, changing my address. Got promoted to full-time at the LEGO Store. Pilot program we're a part of. I get benefits now – health insurance. Also got Emp
Essays, Not Rants! 271: Fast Car I really like Tracy Chapman’s "Fast Car," and I realize I’m saying this as someone who’s around thirty years late to the party. Beyond its great musicality, there’s the poetry to it. It speaks to a wanting for a life that’s more than you have, one beyond your circumstances; but also to the dashing of that dream when reality ensues. All in all, it’s a beautiful, melancholic song. Which I don’t really relate. Or more, can’t. See, I’ve lived a privileged life. I
Essays, Not Rants! 270: So My Apartment Building Caught Fire My apartment building caught fire yesterday. Which is heckuva way to start a morning. I'm fine and, by virtue of being in the back on the sixth floor, my unit was somehow untouched. But it did mean I was outside on the New York sidewalk at 5:30 in the morning watching firemen fight a fire from the pizza place I live over under control. Then it started to rain. A cold, early morning rain. The sort that makes you wish you'd grabb
By virtue of being in NYU Gallatin, I read a lot in college, sometimes getting through a book every two weeks. Post-graduation I realized that that that was a habit I wanted to keep up. So I’ve made an effort to read more over the past year, and to read different things by different people (with the fun book mixed in there). With that, here’s the list of the books I’ve read over the past year: Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri Ready Player One by Ernest Cline The Windup Girl by Paolo B
Essays, Not Rants! 269: Creative Exchange (and Video Games) Video games borrow a lot from movies. Snake, on the original box art for Metal Gear, is played by Michael Biehn. Or at least someone who looks just like him. Contra’s box makes it look like you’ll be playing John Matrix and John Rambo taking on the Xenomorph from Alien. But then there’s Halo, which drew much of its aesthetic wholesale from Aliens. Look at their portrayal of marines in space: the video game’s UNSC Marines sport body
Essays, Not Rants! 268: The Problem With Narrative Sidequests One of the most striking features of the planet Elaaden is a huge derelict Remnant ship. Sticking out broken over the desert planet, the ship could hold answers for the mystery of the old killer robots that populate Mass Effect: Andromeda. The latest game in the Mass Effect video game series has a strong focus one exploration, namely that titular distant galaxy. There’s so much to see, so much to find out. But I still haven’t gone
Essays, Not Rants! 267: Normalizing The Different It’s easy to dislike folks you don’t know. They’re different. They look weird. You have no horse in their race. They’re those people. The Unknowable Other. But it’s hard to keep up this mindset, that of the Them, the Other, after you’ve met said other. When you take the time to recognize them as a person, put a face to that Other, it’s much harder to not like them. Suddenly, they become an Us, rather than Them. Meeting people, however, is h
Through a series of snafus we ended up looking at a place we had no intention of renting. For a variety reasons, one of which is size. See, in New York, a lot of the time you end up with matchboxes if you don't look hard enough. Matchboxes.
Essays, Not Rants! 266: Star Wars’ Newfound Dearth Of White Guys The Star Wars video game Battlefront 2, the follow-up to 2015’s Battlefront, was revealed a couple weeks ago, and the sequel seems to be righting a lot of the mistakes of the first game. It boasts more interesting combat, the return of classes, multiple eras in which you can play, and Jedi Rey as a playable character (which, right there makes me wanna preorder it). Unlike the first, which was basically online multiplayer only, th
My lease ends at the end of May and I'm moving. It's part price, part the mouse hunt of the past couple months, part the six floor walkup, part the uneven floors, part the lack of a sick in the kitchen, part the price, part the fact that my bedroom door doesn't really close properly anymore, and part the price. I'm gonna miss the fire escape and the roof and the location and the apartment, though. But Mata freaking Nui apartment hunting in New York is rough. I mean, probably not if you have a
Essays, Not Rants! 265: Book Listening I’ve been a huge Trevor Noah fan since he showed up on Jon Stewart’s Daily Show and started ragging on misconceptions of contemporary Africa by comparing it to the rural US. I found his stand-up special, African American, on Netflix and was delighted to hear him cracking jokes about growing up mixed. Though mine was in no way identical, there was enough familiarity there to really connect. Also, he’s funny. So I was one of the five people who was really k
Essays, Not Rants! 264: Page Feel I read a lot. This is partly a byproduct of having grown up a bookworm and partly having taken a course of studied that meant a lot of reading. Like a lot a lot. Since graduating, I’ve kept it up best I can and I’m sitting at fifteen-odd books in the past eleven months. Like I said, reading a lot. A side effect of this is that I have a wonderful bookshelf. You’ve got Ulysses there and the first volume of Saga there with CS Lewis’ Of Other Worlds. I like it
So remember that movie I was making last year? We mixed on Wednesday and I've uploaded it now. Time to submit to festivals and stuff. It's DONE. DONE DONE DONE DONE DONE. I feel like a new mother except I don't want to see my newborn right now because the thing's been gestating for the last eighteen months and geez.
Essays, Not Rants! 263: This Is You In This Story There’s this thing with good stories where you have this gut response of "I wanna do that!" Video games thrive on immersion, by letting you enact what these characters do; meanwhile movies, tv, books, comics, etc let you vicariously experience events. But what if you do get to be that character? Metal Gears Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and Star Wars: The Force Awakens both explore that, by making the protagonist of each story very much a surrogat
Essays, Not Rants! 262: Emerging Exploration Mass Effect: Andromeda is a magnificently glitchy game. I have seen a crewmate go through osmosis while talking to him, I've fought an alien dinosaur that suddenly stopped moving its body (but still glided along the jungle floor and attacked me), and, through cunning manipulation of my space-car's six wheel drive and boost functions, have successfully driven up a vertical cliff face (though arguably that's a feature, not a bug). Of course, there are