11/27/2021 – In Defense of Mass Effect Combat

One of the last games I was playing was the original Mass Effect, this time on PS3. I played the trilogy on the Xbox 360, and Mass Effect 2 multiple times, bought them all again on PS3 and played up to the quarian homeworld in Mass Effect 3, gave the original a shot on PC once, and started the original once more on PS3. I’d gotten to Noveria when I stopped, probably because other, more pressing things than a game I play constantly, had gotten in the way. And yet, as I write this, I’m paused on Noveria, about to speak with the shopkeeper jellyfish on the Mass Effect Legendary Edition for PS4. If I can get through these three in time, I’ll finally give Mass Effect: Andromeda another shot, though technically that should come between Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3, right? Anyway, this was another characteristically boring introduction to our first segment, on the combat in Mass Effect. … More 11/27/2021 – In Defense of Mass Effect Combat

11/07/2021 – Gears of Metroid

Gears of War 2 remains symbolic to me of my very first friendship. My buddy and I grew up together and played co-op games like Bomberman 64: The Second Attack up through the Halo series. He was particularly fond of Gears of War, and while I liked it well enough, I came to admire his fandom — this coming from a guy who was not and likely never would be a self-described “nerd.” I’ll always remember the date Gears of War 2 was released — 11/07/08 — though I had no idea it would be our last game. Nothing tragic happened, we simply parted ways shortly into high school. … More 11/07/2021 – Gears of Metroid

Those American Godzilla Movies Strike Again

Who would’ve thought we’d make it to the year 2021? More that such a number could ever be real than those of us who’ve survived ought to ask this question. Because aside from the considerable turmoil of history in a perpetual state of climax, that number alone is the stuff of science-fiction. Blade Runner took place two years ago. Johnny Mnemonic takes place this year. I know that millions of Americans quit their jobs over the summer, including myself. I returned home to New England after six years in Los Angeles. A natural arc, we might say, but to me, 2021 is an afterlife. It’s too many years after the logical terminating point. We stopped seeing each other, stopped making physical contact; we have to process the world through literal filtration. It’s a world of screens and constant mediation. Even the movies don’t feel real. … More Those American Godzilla Movies Strike Again

11/02/2021 – Police Dad

The ongoing saga of cop shows in the age of “copaganda” furthers its absurdity at the NCIS front, a show itself mired in absurdity. After having left my job over the summer like so many Americans, I eventually went crawling back and now watch CBS procedurals again. But much has changed in these scant months. I come back to NCIS and Gibbs is gone! The man himself, Mark Harmon, is no longer pressing clipped sentences through his teeth and firing a gun. Who’s gonna take his place, I hear you shout, let it all out, because for some reason the show doesn’t end with his exit. The show never ends. … More 11/02/2021 – Police Dad

10/23/2021 – The Fall of Reach is a Good Story Never Meant to Be Told

You might find YouTube video of “Halo 3 funny Elite dialogue,” including winners like, “One of us must die!” or “If you gaze at me much longer, we may as well exchange fluids,” and my favorite, the exasperated “We have few enough warriors as it is!” if you shoot an ally to death. If you haven’t played Halo, these lines are being growled by gravelly-voiced aliens, the “Elites.” One of the lines triggers when you, the protagonist Master Chief, melee an Elite ally. He replies, “Is this because of Reach?” The result of a special mode, this is not really “canonical” dialogue, though it’s impressive that even incidental writing was better than the real stuff in later sequels. … More 10/23/2021 – The Fall of Reach is a Good Story Never Meant to Be Told

Moon Over Tao: Makaraga

This is it. After the Zeiram duology and Mechanical Violator Hakaider, director Keita Amemiya turns in his final live-action feature. Three years later, Yuko Moriyama would retire from film without a word. The end of an era, and it’s bittersweet but satisfying that Moon Over Tao is the swan song. Unlike the adaptations Hakaider and Amemiya’s debut Mirai Ninja, and even the Zeirams which incited a franchise — however modest — Moon Over Tao stands alone. It is purer, and landing at the end of a directing career, it possibly commands a larger budget. Very likely, this will be our most vivid glimpse into an auteur’s mind, to which “purity” is surely the theme. Still, my favorite aspect of the Amemiya mythos is the ship between director and actress. Where usually the director’s relationship or obsession with the lead is uncomfortable (Underworld, Planet Terror, Final Fantasy XIII), Amemiya continues to lens Moriyama with the same low-angled awe as he does the giant animatronic monster. I believe she’s a wholesome muse, and the ship culminates here with three times as many Yuko Moriyamas as usual. … More Moon Over Tao: Makaraga

K-Drama Report: My Name (2021) Follow-Up

Funny story with this one; I’d checked to see, “Hey, when’s that new Korean cool girl show out?” and it was that day, Oct. 16. Two thoughts seized me, then: “Yay!” and “I should write about this.” See, I’ve been on kind of an SEO tear lately, which is partly why the last several posts have skewed entirely Korean. That seems to be the country of the week, and I’m glad there’s a country of the week at all. I just happened to see the SNL Squid Game parody, and that’s how you know you’ve made it, aside from the massive revenue. The recent post I did about Squid Game, in fact, was a cynical product, and even a bit rushed as a result — a hastily-thought-out premise effecting a strange contrarian opinion. But once I read that review of Parasite, I couldn’t let it go. And then comes My Name, yet another Netflix K-drama, and this one — unlike Squid Game — actually appealed directly to my sensibilities (which probably makes for a less compelling post, because I tend to say the same, uncomfortable thing). But because I’d checked, I had the opportunity to post something that very premiere day. … More K-Drama Report: My Name (2021) Follow-Up

K-Drama Report: My Name (2021)

I’m three episodes into My Name and already desperate to continue. On paper, it’s tailor-made to my sensibilities, those which I’ve struggled to communicate on this blog. My only remotely successful With Eyes East YouTube video is a wild-eyed plea to Hollywood, or Indonesian Hollywood, or anyone with a camera and a gallon of fake blood, to cast Julie Estelle and contribute to her undoubtedly skyward journey. I hardly got this point across in the video, but Estelle represents, to me, a new kind of action star. Where the Hong Kong heroines from the ‘60s through the‘90s were simply working with a different sort of market — less bloodsoaked and crazy, with notable exceptions — and modern actresses dip from time to time into action with mixed results, say Kim Ok-vin or Mary Elizabeth Winstead, the image Julie Estelle has built for herself so far has the potential to stay gory at the intersection of Indonesia’s auteurs and the international market’s appetite. … More K-Drama Report: My Name (2021)

10/08/2021 – The Three Greatest K-Pop Songs?

I know I still have a long way to go on my K-pop journey, and am in no way claiming the authority necessary to even ask this question. But sometimes there’s music so compelling that the only way to express my feelings is with superlative. It’s shortsighted, and I’ve been burned on listicles before (because I live dangerously, apparently), but this is my current thought process. Sometimes I think I know which is number one, but then it changes. I do know better than to ask for input, unless the spiders have opinions, but if you’re reading this sometime in the future, let me know your take, and your top three. And don’t forget to like, comm– oh, right, spiders. … More 10/08/2021 – The Three Greatest K-Pop Songs?