I’ve already written extensively about Avengers Endgame, but there are other things I watched this month too. Shazam came out early this month, and while it was unfortunately sandwiched between MCU blockbusters, it was a fun adventure romp and surprised me in a few ways. I wrote a short spoiler-free review over on Tumblr. TV-wise, I’ve been on a rewatch binge of 30 Rock that unfortunately started with season 4 due to Amazon Prime’s weird way of presenting things.
I already wrote about Avengers Endgame a bit in yesterday’s post, but that was a bit rushed and I had more thoughts, so here we are. I figured I might as well get everything out. There will be unmarked spoilers for Avengers Endgame and Agents of SHIELD. Before even going into the movie that was seemingly sold out everywhere despite being on almost every cinema screen in the Metro, I was thinking to myself what a phenomenon.
Two endgames to discuss in one post! MTG War of the Spark and Avengers Endgame spoilers ahoy! Endgame #1: War of the Spark The latest Magic set has been a home run in terms of lore and flavor and storytelling, bringing the last three years worth of MTG lore to its conclusion as the villainous dragon planeswalker Nicol Bolas aims to complete his plan to achieve omnipotence over the multiverse. The set is packed with planeswalkers summoned to Ravnica by Bolas’s schemes, which means mechanically that a lot of new planeswalker design space is being explored.
I was struggling to remember the term - I knew there was one - for the type of stories where it’s long-winded and the narrator is generally trying to keep the audience hanging and eventually ending in an anticlimax. These are called Shaggy Dog Stories, there’s even a subreddit for them. The ones I heard the most growing up were from my high school crowd, and I remember two of them:
Since I’m easily distracted, I often tumble down rabbit holes way too easily. You know the kind of rabbit holes I’m talking about: you just want to lookup the name of that actor who appeared in that movie and suddenly you find yourself forty minutes into a Wikipedia dive with three different tabs open, none of them remotely related to what you were originally searching for. (Wikipedia could also be IMDB, Reddit, or TV Tropes).
Many of the manga series I used to follow from long ago have since ended, the only ones still running now are One Piece and Hajime no Ippo. So I thought I’d follow some newer ones. Here are some short reviews: The Promised Neverland I picked up this one due to a strong recommendation from someone I follow on social media. The premise starts out with some super smart kids who grew up in an orphanage without any knowledge of an outside world.
Some number of years back I first encountered this comic image and I really liked it because it had a message of boundless optimism, of no challenge too large to overcome. I later found out that the image comes from an Eisner-award winning webcomic called minus (intentionally lower case). The meaning of the comic changes significantly in the context of the webcomic, as the titular girl minus apparently has unlimited reality alteration powers.
The big one this month was Captain Marvel. I posted the usual spoiler-free review over on Tumblr, but I have some more spoiler-y thoughts over here: Click to toggle spoilers While I thought the movie was ok, I was underwhelmed by the third act and specifically the lack of any serious threat for Carol to defeat towards the end of the movie. As this tumblr post explains more clearly than I ever could, perhaps the issue is that the narrative is not something targetted towards me as a man, who has not experienced the emotional gaslighting IRL that many women are exposed to.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, I watch a lot of TV shows, rarely on TV itself though. I outgrew scheduled television maybe more than a decade ago. I’m reminded of this because I was going through some old disks and found burned episodes of stuff like Smallville, Heroes, The Simpsons, various anime, and so on. Those were from the days before streaming though. These days an abundance of content is available online via the streaming services, no need to store all those episodes yourself.
Some things I’ve been watching lately, aside from the usual TV shows I follow: I watched Alita: Battle Angel, with the friend who introduced me to the series in the first place. The movie looked fantastic and the fight scenes were great. Plot was supercondensed, several books’ worth of story combined into one. Ended in a weird place, kinda? Easily the best western live action anime adaptation by far. After watching I immediately passed by a friend's house to borrow these.
The quote is from the 1980s cult classic Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. I didn’t include this movie in my top 10 movies post, but it and the sequel Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey are still among my childhood faves. These wise words are give by the Wyld Stallyns band composed of the epnoymous Bill and Ted, and form the philosophical basis of the future utopian civilization inspired by their music.
Interesting article on closed captioning, or as I like to call them, subtitles. My first exposure to subtitles was anime of course, but these days I vastly prefer having subtitles on any show, even if it’s dubbed in a language I do understand. From the article: “Why do you have captions on?” I asked. “It helps me with my ADHD: I can focus on the words, I catch things I missed, and I never have to go back,” she replied.
Some Youtube channels I’ve been enjoying recently: ComicTropes is a weekly show that does deep dives into various mainstream comics titles, and often includes the background history of characters and creators, so very interesting stuff for comic book nerds. GameMaker’s ToolKit talks about video game level design topics. His series “Boss Keys” does a deep dive into Zelda dungeons and analyzes them based on criteria like linearity. His level design analyses are strongly based on systems and gameplay and how they affect the player experience.
Between the ages of 10-12, my reading diet consisted almost exclusively of the teenage-targetted detective series The Hardy Boys. For me, the term invokes the names Frank and Joe before the Matt and Jeff of WWE fame. We had a fairly wide collection of the blue-hardcovered books of those days. And I believe I made the effort to read every single book in that particular series, through borrowing and such. I think I was successful, but I can’t be sure.
Some things I’ve been watching lately, aside from the usual TV shows I follow: Bumblebee only came out over here in January (thanks to the usual MMFF shenanigans), and I decided to watch it on a whim. Pretty decent soft reboot, read my spoiler-free review over on the Tumblr The first half of Young Justice Outsiders is out, and it’s pretty good. Focus is back on a smaller group after the larger team in YJ season 2.
The first trailer for Spider-Man Far From Home dropped last week. I used to pretty hyped for superhero movie trailers, but I haven’t bother watching this one yet. MCU still has two more movies coming out before this one, and I’m already hyped enough for those, I don’t think I have hype to spare for a third one. My brother was complaining to me about the trailer, saying he was spoiled about some elements.
In a recent episode of The Orville, captain Ed Mercer of the Union is stuck debating with a member of the Krill, a fanatic and xenophobic race in conflict with Earth’s multi-species Planetary Union. He says: “Look, from what we’ve seen, when planets first achieve space travel and they venture out into the galaxy and discover that they’re just one single species among a vast diversity of lifeforms, they usually react in one of two ways: they embrace and adapt to the fact that they’re no longer the center of the universe, or they ratchet up their xenophobia.
I was at the mall last week and I decided to watch the new Bumblebee movie (it came out late over here because reasons). Here’s my spoiler-free review. As the link says, I’ve been a big fan of Transformers since I was a kid, so I thought I’d talk about that for a bit. The 1980s cartoon obviously, though I think only the first two seasons of that aired on local TV.
I don’t know much about this Konmari thing. I think it’s been around for a while, but got a boost recently due to a Netflix special. I think I agree with it in principle, or at least what I know of it from secondary social media commentary. Minimalism is a worthwhile goal, and so is getting rid of things that do nothing for you other than take up space. Some people aren’t reacting well to the idea of throwing away books though:
Some things I’ve been watching lately, aside from the usual TV shows I follow: I very much enjoyed Elseworlds, the Arrowverse crossover this year. I mean sure, a lot of it didn’t make any sense, but it was like a love letter to DC fans. I actually consider myself more of a Marvel fan than DC, but I still loved it! I wrote a spoiler-free review over on the Tumblr.
The other day I was passing through the QC memorial circle (as is my wont) and I decided to walk around the tiangge/flea market that’s often there. It seemd larger than usual that day, so I figured I should finally take a look. And in the process I remembered what I dislike about local flea markets: 90% of the stalls are selling some form of clothes (which I have no interest in browsing - maybe if these stalls sold something my size for once!
I read this article about how Bill Gates spent 5 years not watching TV or listening to music in his twenties while building Microsoft. Now, I’m pretty sure I watch a lot of TV, unapologetically. Quite possible too much. But I can’t help but wonder if maybe I would be more productive if I had the same kind of discipline Bill Gates had, and maybe that would increase the odds that I could focus and create something of consequence?
Some things I’ve been watching lately, aside from the usual TV shows I follow: For some reason, I watched two biopics this month. The first one is Hidden Figures, about three black women who were instrumental during the early days of NASA leading up to the Friendship 7 mission piloted by John Glenn. The movie is fairly interesting if you are even remotely interested in either the challenges faced in black history or math and science or the early days of the space program competition between the USA and Russia.
During the past few years, I’ve started following more artists (mostly comic-book related) on social media. Seeing the occasional art post wander across my feeds is often a welcome respite from the terrible news in the world today. I thought I’d share some of my favorites! Jim Lee is a comic book icon and for me his very detailed and elaborate pencils epitomize 90s comic art and his style still heavily influences many newer artists today.
I used to play a lot of JRPGs, especially back during they heyday of the Playstation Era. These days, I only get to play a few, but I still enjoy a lot of the music tracks from this game, often the battle music since I prefer more upbeat tracks. Here are some of my favorite JRPG tracks from recent years: Rivers in the Desert (Persona 5) – easily the best song in the OST for me, and the rest of this OST is amazing so that’s saying a lot.
Shogun was the first novel I ever read outside of required school readings and it remains one of favorites to this day after many rereadings. It had it all – the age of exploration, religious conflict, language barriers, duty, honor, love, betrayal, war, sacrifice, samurai, ninjas, guns, cannons, etc and it still influences my thinking to this day. One of my favorite quotes from this book: Toranaga: “Tsukku-san says that the Netherlands were vassals of the Spanish king until just a few years ago.
Some things I’ve been watching lately, aside from the usual TV shows I follow: Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan (on Amazon Prime) – surprisingly good, even if I’m not too familiar with the Jack Ryan stuff. I only know John Krasinski from The Office, Spoilers for Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan: Click to toggle spoilers The story starts with Ryan tracking down Suleiman’s network via financials, but they never follow-up on who was financing his group I’m not sure what was the point of the whole drone pilot side story (including the weird trip to the casino and the night with the couple), although it was admittedly kind of entertaining Daredevil season 3 (on Netflix) – I enjoyed the season a lot.
Comic books and superheroes have always tended to skew towards liberal philosophies, given how writers and artists tend to support ideals like individualism and free expression. So it’s not surprising that the derivative shows tend to lean the same way. Not only do many of the shows promote diversity, but many are becoming overtly political as well. Some recent examples. (Spoilers for current seasons of Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow and Daredevil follow)
I’ve been re-watching The Office (US) lately (it’s a good show to leave running in the background while you’re doing other stuff), and I just find the character of Michael Scott fascinating. He’s funny and well-written and basically just a big bag of human flaws that somehow bumbles his way into managing an office. He’s self-centered, attention-hungry, easily distracted, and refuses to acknowledge any bad news, yet despite all of that he loves his workmates like a family.
I’ve had a copy of this book for quite a while now, but for some reason only got around to starting on it three days ago. It’s not a particularly long book, but I pretty much devoured it in twenty four hours.Mandatory screenshot of old-school Doom The book traces the paths of the lives of John Romero and John Carmack – two legends of the software development world that changed PC gaming forever.
This started as one of those silly Facebook memes where you post one thing every day and didn’t have to explain and you tagged other people and they continued with the meme. I was very bad at following the meme instructions, but I did find the exercise interesting. I found it difficult to identify 10 specific movies, and since I didn’t explain during the FB posts, I thought I’d make a blog post about them instead.
I realise it’s a bit weird for me to be reviewing a marketing book, given my self-proclaimed aversion to marketing and sales. A while back I wrote a review for Tim Ferris’ book Tribe of Mentors on this blog, and for some reason someone decided to contact me citing this review and asked if I would review this other book and they would give me a complimentary copy. This was something new to me, so I thought I’d try it out!
This book was on sale on Amazon Kindle a while back, I figured I’d give it a whirl. Some years ago I had read one of the author’s previous books, The Four Hour Workweek, and I wasn’t too impressed. It was interesting at least, but a lot of the advice seemed either difficult to apply to my personal situation or involved doing stuff I wasn’t really interested in (i.e. sales and marketing and whatnot).
When Game of Thrones entered its sixth season in 2016, it was true spoiler territory for those of us who had read the GRRM books before HBO’s TV adaptation turned the property into a worldwide phenomenon. Due to the author’s glacial writing pace, at this point the TV series went past the point that the novels had reached. Thus nobody – book readers or tv viewers – knew what events would unfold in the story.
Last weekend I watched Aureus Solito’s movie Pisay at the UP film center with a couple of friends (both of whom were my Pisay batchmates of course). For the uninitiated Pisay is the nickname for our beloved _Philippine Science High School. _It’s a system of government-run schools with a special focus on science and math subjects. There’s a highly-competitive entrance exam and we’ve always been told that students who make it in are considered the “cream of the crop.
First, the spoiler-free summary (spoilers after this part): overall a very entertaining movie to sit down and watch popcorn and to enjoy the jokes and the space battles and the different colored lights and the tiny adorable tree creature GOTG’s humor was one of its strong points and for the 2nd movie, they push the comedy up a notch, perhaps a little too much in some places. Lots of funny gags and one-liners I felt like some of the character/background development stuff was pushed a bit too hard as well the movie’s plot also felt a bit thin and straightforward.
I’m not a fan of scary movies. I don’t appreciate the idea of paying money to get surprised by jump scares or whatever. Back when I was a kid I remember my dad watching a Betamax copy of The Gate back home and me and my younger brother were watching with him and the movie seriously creeped me out. There was this one scene where a demonic eye manifested on the lead kid’s palm and that scene stuck with me for a while.
"Everyone knows the third movie is always the worst" -- Jean still too much focus on Jennifer Lawrence/Mystique some great soundtrack choices Quicksilver scene maybe just a tiny bit too long. Tradition of defying the rules of physics continues (I hope someone does the math on how fast he was probably moving) nice 80s wardrobe lol not particularly faithful to the source material plot is all over the place, a lot of WTF moments here and there.
Well, I haven’t written anything in a while, so I figured I’d write some words on the new Spider-Man movie. Spoilers abound! Action-packed! The web-swinging is fun and looks and feels just like Spidey from the comic books. Spider-man moves and fights and banters pretty faithfully to the comic book version of our favorite wall-crawler, so that’s a definite plus. Peter’s Spider-sense is portrayed as a slow-motion bullet-time kind of deal which allows him to react quickly and save all the people while dodging everything.
Writing regularly is something I’ve always wanted to be able to do but like most things I have trouble with, it’s the lack of discipline that gets me. Take this blog for instance. I randomly think of things to write about while I’m idling or commuting or waiting in line or any of the dozen or so other opportunities during the day when my mind wanders, but because of laziness and/or lack of discipline, these ideas never get very far.
The last two entries (here and here) took too long to write, and there’s a helluva lot of other titles to go through. And many of them don’t deserve much comments, so I’ll just go through the rest quickly or I might never finish. Action Comics – the younger Superman stories are interesting, but occasionally Morrison goes off on one of his weird tangent stories. Superman’s early years are largely re-written, and that’s understandable, he’s never had particularly interesting events in his history anyway
This is part 2 of my DC New 52 Review. Part is here. Hopefully I finish this series before the reviews become too out of date. Batman I decided to read every book of the New 52 to widen my horizons regarding my comic book reading, and one of the greatest advantages has been exposure to Scott Snyder’s work. I have a tendency not to remember writers and artists of comics I read, except for the very famous ones, so I wasn’t aware that I had read his work before during the Black Mirror arc in Detective Comics pre-New 52.
If you’re reading this, that means I’ve done it: I’ve read the first eight issues of every DC New 52 book. I’ve always been a Marvel fan more than DC, my previous DC reading having been restricted to JLA and the Batman books, so I figured exposure to the New 52 would widen my appreciation of the DC stable of heroes. Here are my reviews: Justice League While the art is Jim Lee-fantastic, the first story arc left much to be desired.
So Metro Manila is at the peril of heavy rains, flooding and traffic again (as often happens this time of the year) and I thought I’d do some actual blogging for a change. I didn’t want to brave the rush hour traffic last night so I finally got around to watching X-Men First Class (luckily it was still showing at Mega). I had actually seen Green Lantern first despite X1C showing two weeks before the DC movie.
I had actually read the much-acclaimed graphic novel only last year. And while I found the story decent enough, I wasn’t sure whether to like it or hate it. Undoubtedly it was an important point in the history of “superhero” comics, but I was never entirely sure about it’s point. So of course I saw the movie, and it had remained roughly 85-90% loyal to the source material, which made it a bit boring for me since I generally knew what was going to happen most of the time (except for you know, that thing about the bad guy’s master plan… ).
I had time to kill before going to see my brother’s art exhibit at megamall, so I went and watched Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li. It was so bad. I could’ve been able to forgive the fact that they roughly 80% of the story shied away from Street Fighter canon, had the movie’s storyline actually been good. As it is, you can expect short, unsatisfying fight scenes, ridiculous background stories, disjointed plot/scenes (reminds me of Smallville and/or Heroes writing =/), terrible wigs and the ridiculous sight of Michael Clark Duncan getting beaned by a pineapple.
On a whim, my brother and I went to Trinoma to see Eagle Eye, barely catching the last full show (including the trailers of course, we love watching trailers). Our mom had said we’d like the movie and she still owed us one since it was her fault we watched Big Stan. So we’re giving her a chance to redeem herself. The spoilerless review: Since Eagle Eye trailers seem to be everywhere, you probably have some idea of at least the start of the story.
I caught Groundhog Day for the Nth time today on HBO (N roughly around 50). My father claims it’s his favorite movie of all time; high praise considering he watches every movie that comes out EVER. I’m not actually going to talk about the movie; it’s awesome, if you haven’t seen it, you should. You’re missing half your life. If you had one day of eternity, what would you do?
Wow. Best superhero movie EVER, hands-down.
This has been a good month for movies. I saw the following in cinemas: Kung Fu Panda – complete AWESOMENESS. I drank the Kool-Aid all the way on this one. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull – classic Indy goodness. Incredible Hulk – Edward Norton is cast brilliantly here, a choice on the same level as Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man. And they addressed the issue of Hulk’s stretchy pants!