Roy Tang

Programmer, engineer, scientist, critic, gamer, dreamer, and kid-at-heart.

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pop-culture movies tv watching-lately

I was travelling for most of the past two months, so this covers both June and July, and I guess I haven’t been able to watch too much. Maybe? IDK, we’ll see. Since I was in the US, I took the opportunity to finish watching Voltron: Legendary Defender which only had two seasons available on PH Netflix. Pretty good adaptation, lots of fun callbacks to the old series. Some annoying filler eps, especially in the middle seasons onwards.

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The big TV thing of May 2019 was of course, the much maligned finale for Game of Thrones. I’ve written about that separately here. Most of the US TV series also ended their runs in May. Arrowverse show seasons were littered with poor writing as usual. I rank the seasons in this order: best is Legends of Tomorrow season 4. The reason Legends is the best is that they’re not afraid to be outrageous.

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pop-culture tv books

After a much-maligned eighth and final season, HBO’s Game of Thrones is done. Unmarked spoilers follow. The eighth season was so notoriously bad, we got petitions asking for rewrites. Here’s how I explained it to a friend after the notorious episode 5: It’s not about characters being killed, it’s about bad writing because they’re cramming. The writers were determined to finish the show in 2 smaller seasons so they’re skipping a lot of necessary character development and characters just do stupid things because the plot demands it.

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books pop-culture

Continuing with the Wheel of Time re-read! I devoured Eye of the World much more quickly than I expected, finishing the book in less than 3 days. It helps that I had already read it before of course, but I think there’s also a part of me that enjoys escaping into this fantasy world when the real world outlook seems dire. Anyway, the book shows a lot of Tolkien-esque plot influence, especially near the start: Some kids from a backwater village are visited by a magic user and after some troubles are forced on the run from black riders?

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books pop-culture

Since I was going to be taking a long trip in a month, I was looking for some books to read on the plane and in airports and whatnot while waiting. I settled on a re-read of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, a pretty good time for it since by next year we may have a TV series from Amazon (hopefully better than Game of Thrones). Side note: Wheel of Time is also why I’m not optimistic that GRRM can finish ASoIaF in just two more books - Jordan took forever and died before he could finish WoT and even Sanderson who took over needed an additional three books to finish the saga.

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pop-culture movies tv watching-lately

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.

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pop-culture movies

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.

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pop-culture magic-the-gathering movies

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.

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pop-culture

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:

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pop-culture

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).

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manga comics pop-culture

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.

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webcomics pop-culture

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.

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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.

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tv movies pop-culture

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.

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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.

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movies quotes pop-culture

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.

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tv pop-culture

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.

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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.

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books pop-culture

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.

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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.

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Roy Tang is a:

roytang.net is a personal site; I post about a random assortment of topics that interest me including software development, Magic the Gathering, pop culture, gaming, and tech life. This site is perpetually under renovation.