Tag Archives: In Review

2019 in Review

Holy smokes it’s 2020, a brand new year of fun and games ready to happen. In light of that, let’s look at 2019 and all the stuff I ranted wrote about.

Five Most Popular/Viewed Posts

#5: What I’ve Been Reading

I read a lot. Turns out, people are curious about what I’m reading. So here it is! Books! By people! Many of whom aren’t white guys!

#4: Let’s Rank Star Wars Movies!

Everyone’s doing it, so I joined in! I stand by this ranking more or less. Where does Rise of Skywalker fall? Oh, that’s a surprise.

#3: Arthur Fleck and Emmet Brickowski

I really didn’t like Joker, not that it wasn’t well made but more that I thought it did a really lousy job of handling some really loaded subject matter. What better way to discuss this then by putting him in discussions with Emmet from The Lego Movie?

#2: Guns.

Hoo boy. This is a big one, talking about guns and video games, and how I can loath gun violence while enjoying shooting virtual bad guys. This long rambly post is how I think about stuff like that, looking at my own relationship with media and the real world and how it all plays together. There’s no tidy ending, just a lot of Thoughts.

#1: Shoeless Superheroes

There’s a new Marvel comic that focuses on a team of Asian superheroes. In one panel in one issue we see them inside, and all their shoes sitting by the door (like any civilized person would). Seeing something immediately familiar that I recognize on a deep cultural level is so wonderful, so terrific, that of course I had to write about it.

Josh’s Pick of Three

#3: The Wickiness

I love a good action movie. The John Wick movies are better than a good action movie. This post talks about why. And reminds me to rewatch them.

#2: Stable Boy

I really love The Last Jedi and make no apologies such. I also love how it ends, with a quiet shot on a lone kid offers a really wonderful capstone on the movie. This post is me geeking out intelligently about it and why it’s so wonderful.

#1: Captain Marvel

My favorite superhero got her own movie!!! I loved it, and this post is very much me in the immediate aftermath processing through it. Naturally, I wanna see where the movies go next with her, but it seems we’ve gotta wait for that.


It’s 2020. Stuff is gonna happen this year. See you around to ramble on about that too.


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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 lotta complex feelings about. Hence this post.

#4: Star Wars as an Anti-Capitalist Discourse

Oh I was really hoping this would be here. I love getting to go on and on about a relatively silly premise that actually bares some merit. I maintain my argument that the Star Wars saga contains an inherently anti-capitalist narrative; if you don’t believe me then read this post.

#3: A Celebration

Ready Player One is a bit of an odd beast, but the movie is certainly a delight, due in a big way to how much it plainly loves the material it deals with. For all its flaws and foibles, the movie’s a whole lotta fun.

#2: Reframing A Narrative

One of the neatest things media can do is change the way we look at things. Black Panther took a lot of elements not usually present in futurism and sci-fi and threw it in. And it is wonderful.

#1: Wakanda Forever

This post is nothing more than me enthusing about Black Panther and how it’s a potential watershed. Can’t wait to what this portends for movies in the future.

Josh’s Pick of Three

#3: Exploring Worlds

My Switch tells me I’ve sunk over 70 hours into Breath of The Wild and I’ve only taken on one (of four) Divine Beast. It’s a gorgeous, gorgeous world to explore, and I’m delighted in games that let me do that.

#2: The End of (Star) War(s)

Again, I absolutely love reading a little too much into things that usually don’t necessitate it. The demilitarization of the New Republic present in the new Star Wars canon is such an interesting choice that I absolutely had to dig into it.

#1: Poking Around

It took me way too long to realize I was playing One Night Stand wrong. Not that I wasn’t hitting the right buttons or anything like that, but rather the approach I took to it. This isn’t a game that you’re supposed to win, it’s a game to be experienced.


Alright, that was this year. Tune in next to hear me geeking out incessantly about Captain Marvel when that movie finally comes out.


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2017 In Review

2017 has been a year. And it ends in a couple days, so that means it’s time for me to phone it in and post about posts!

Five Most Popular/Viewed Posts

#5: Hanging Out

You know that thing where you talk about fictional characters as if they were your actual real life friends? This post is about how really well crafted characters make you happy just to watch them interact.

#4: Trusting The Story

It’s nice to be able to shut off your brain when you watch a movie or read a book, insofar as that means you don’t overthink it. But part of that means trusting the storyteller that everything will make sense. Dunkirk and Star Wars are movies that if you stop asking why and enjoy it then, dang, they’re great.

#3: Let The Past Die

Woah, this one got hits quick. Or maybe my blog’s just not as busy as it used to be. Either way. The Last Jedi is a rich movie (which you gotta admit, even if you’d didn’t like it) and this is me getting into some of its layers. There’s more I wanna unpack which I may go on about in due time (consider Rian Johnson’s use of fakeouts and a twisty plot in light of Luke’s admonition that this isn’t going to go the way you think).

#1 (tie!): So My Apartment Building Caught Fire

Well. This was a blogpost born out of an unexpected adventure. This is me talking about one of the reasons I love living in New York.

#1 (tie!): Xenophobia, Science Fiction, and, eventually, Hope

Stories are important. Science Fiction is important. And sometimes the real world sucks (that this was posted in January 2017 definitely has nothing to do with the post, cough), and sometimes stories remind you that, hey, there is good. And that through it you can learn something.

Stories are important.

Josh’s Pick of Three

#3: On Visibility and Character Creators

I love character creators. I spend way too long in The Sims’ Create-A-Sim and love agonizing over my character in games that let me design my avatar. But as someone who’s neither entirely white nor entirely Chinese, it’s hard to recreate myself when many presets are decidedly one or the other. Maybe if more of us were represented in stories I might be able to make a half-Asian commander Shepard.

#2: The Ephemeral And The Sublime

This blog is guaranteed to be the only place you’ll find indie darling Lady Bird and Hideo Kojima helmed video game Death Stranding spoken about in relation. But they’re similar! Read this to see me making a weird connection that actually makes an amount of sense.


Another post that Definitely Has Nothing To Do With The Date It Was Posted. I love multinational teams, and I love how U.S. Avengers uses such a team to redefine the idea of an American. It’s a team of immigrants, minorities, and a homegrown, corn-fed Kentuckian. It’s truly a special comic. And there’s something wonderful about seeing the Finnish-Norwegian Aikku be comforted by her girlfriend about the oddness of America.


And so 2017 draws to a close. Thanks for reading folks, and I dearly hope you keep doing so. 2018’s gonna be wild and I’m still gonna be here ranting about whatever the crap I want. Which, given that we’re seeing Black Panther, Pacific Rim: Uprising, and the new Tomb Raider movie come out, probably means more of the same.


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2016 In Review

Year’s over, so this means I’m looking at the rants essays from this past year. Here we go!

Five Most Popular/Viewed Posts

#5: *general internet frustrations*

Mockingbird became my favorite comic this year for a variety of reasons (feminist, funny, fantastic). But when the final issue was published people got mad. This is about that and why we can’t have nice things, and why Mockingbird and the fallout remain important in the larger dialogue of fiction and fandom.

#4: A (Civil) War of Flaws

I really liked Civil War, in particular for how well done and earned I thought the conflict was. This is primarily because it was born out of character flaws, something that’s terribly important in developing good conflict. Makes it engaging and, rightly, tragic.

#3: Where Josh Explains Why You Should Fund His Movie

I made a thesis film this year! And it’s finally almost done! I’m mad proud of it still and really can’t wait to have it done (just need a few sound effects, mixing, and a score!). It was also a lot of me putting my money where my mouth is, what with diversity and all that, as this post goes into (also, we ended up within budget! Woo!).

#2: The Beauty of Pokémon Go

If you’re wondering, I still play Pokémon Go (I finally got a Blastoise yesterday!). I really think the community and hype that sprung up around it when it was released was truly beautiful. The blurring of the line between gaming and reality is fascinating, and Go illustrates just how it can build a community.

#1: Of Zootopia

Man. Zootopia was – is – important. It’s about bigotry and ignorance and forgiveness and prejudice. It was relevant at the beginning of the year and is, frustratingly, even more relevant at the end of 2016. This movie shows how effective stories are at conveying truths while saying so much about, frankly, racial tensions is magnificent.

Josh’s Pick of Three

#3: To Tell The Truth

I love the idea of storytelling as lies that tell the truth. This is me exploring that while somehow managing to tie in poetry, theatre, and television. It’s fun, and, well, this is pretty much what I studied at university.

#2: The Give And Take of Books

Since graduating, I’ve made an effort to read more (the past six months have consisted of: Ready Player One, The Windup Girl, Pawn’s Gambit, Homegoing, The Chinese in America: A Narrative History, Scoundrals, and Life Moves Pretty Fast). Homegoing was particularly wonderful and it ended on a personal note. This post is about books and the way we interact with them. It’s what makes books so important.

#1: Letting Different People Be Different, Visible Diversity, and Something Something Diversity Something Star Wars

Between Rogue One and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, its been a great year to see people who look kinda like me on the big screen (Kubo and The Two Strings doesn’t count for a variety of reasons that I will rant about later). Diversity’s important, it’s always been important, and I will never not be excited about the fact that there are now Asian protagonists in the Star Wars world. Crazy Ex also does away with stereotyping and, y’know, it’s important that we let people just be people.

And that’s it for 2016. Thanks for sticking with this blog even when the post is just a ramble about science fiction. 2017’s coming up, expect more rants essays about diversity, Marvel movies and Star Wars, feminism, and whatever I want, really.


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2015 in Review

Well. It’s 2016. Since it’s tradition (and since I’m in South Africa on a school trip and don’t wanna write a normal post), let’s take a look at my rants essays from this past year.

Five Most Popular/Viewed Posts

#5: Let’s Talk About That Whole Black Widow Thing

Hoo boy, yeah, that’s one way to start off this year-in-review. I stand by this post (that there’s nothing inherently problematic with Black Widow’s characterization in Age of Ultron, rather the real issue is that we have one female character to tell every female narrative) and yeah, that’s about all there is to say about that.

#4: Masculinity in Age of Ultron

While we’re on the topic of Age of Ultron, one thing it did well was offer multiple narratives for how masculinity looks (which it could have stood to done for Widow, see above). This one was fun to do, ‘cuz I do always like getting into the bits and bobs of story.

#3: Sorry Nate, There’s No Princess In This Castle

2015 is when Essays, Not Rants! inadvertently became a mildly feminist blog. Combined with A Manic Pixie Dream Problem and Another Boyband Saving The World, I accidentally spent three weeks really digging into the way woman are portrayed in fiction. It’s not something I have much of a background in, but it is certainly something I enjoy.

#2: But What Is A Strong Female Protagonist?

Speak of the devil. I guess there is a demand of sorts for this sort of essay. What I wanted to do here was look at the idea that ‘strong female protagonists/characters’ have to physically kick ass. They don’t They just gotta be written like actual people who want stuff. Who knew?

#1: Why I Take Issue With Johnny Storm Being Black

I’m sorry. That’s a clickbait title if I ever saw one. I’m worse than Buzzfeed. If you don’t wanna click the clickbait, basically it’s great that they’re willing to diversify the Fantastic Four. Less great is that it leaves me wishing they went all the way and decided to make Sue black too. Again, sorry about the title.

Josh’s Pick of Three

#3: Just So We’re Clear, Rey Is The Best

I have no other reason for listing this one except for the fact that Rey is very much the best.

#2: (Re)Constructing Narratives

The past six months have been big for me. I wrote (and defended) what is essentially my thesis at school and a lot of the posts on this blog have been related to it. This one especially, and it actually has the name I’d eventually give my concentration (Narrative (Re)Construction).

#1: Jessica Jones: Not Your Victim

This was a post well outside my wheelhouse, and I’m pretty proud that I managed to write it kinda successfully. Essays, Not Rants! is often a place for me to sound out ideas or tackle subjects I’m not used to. This is one of those, and it’s moments like that that make the blog for me.

So there you have it. A post about a bunch of other posts. That, well, that would have been 2015. Onwards to 2016!

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2014 In Review

2014 is a few days from being over. So once again it’s time to go through my rants essays from this year and pick out the special ones.
Five Most Popular/Viewed Posts

#5: Relationship Advice from Scott Pilgrim
The thing about Edgar Wright movies is that they work on so many levels. I was… off put the first time I watched Scott Pilgrim vs The World, so I watched it again, realizing what I was in for and loved it. One of the reasons is that despite (or perhaps because of) it creating a video game sort of reality, it tells a very serious story about love and self-respect.

#4: Representation, Big Hero Six, and Me
Representation is something that I care about, in case my running commentary on female protagonists didn’t tip you off. But Big Hero Six is special to me because there’s a kid like me starring in a Disney action movie! And that makes me very happy.

#3: Verified Fiction
The idea for this one had actually been brewing since I saw that TIME article a couple years back. Took a while for it to come together in and now it’s something that’s pretty bloggish and yet still about storytelling.

#2: About That Noah Movie
Look at me being topical. I suppose this was more for me to collect my thoughts and weigh in on the film. Seems that jumping on the train got my a bunch of views, so there’s that.

#1: The LEGO Hero’s Journey Part One and Part Two
I could do two separate entries for these, each of which got three times as many views as the Noah one, but I figure they should go together since they’re interlinked. The LEGO Movie is easily one of the best movies of this year, in no small part because it’s about a very normal boring person undergoing the Hero’s Journey. It was a lot of fun linking up the beats of the movie with the Monomyth, and hey, I guess some other people enjoyed it too.

And there we have the five most viewed posts. As with last year, what follows will be a few posts that I really like, for various reasons. These posts are also posts that aren’t in the afore top five.

Josh’s Pick of Three

#3: Of Ludonarrative Dissonance
I took a class on video game theory this past spring, which probably shows when I use terms like ‘ludnoarrative’ and ‘narrative architecture.’ Video games really warrant a closer look than they’re often given.

#2: The Mustache of Self-Actualization
Okay, so this is a more recent one, but I love when I’m able to use this blog to write a scholarish rant essay on something that isn’t very scholarlish (see a close reading of Pentecost’s speech). Being able to write about Hot Rod like this was a lot of fun and also good practice. So hey.

#1: Nerd Culture, The Big Bang Theory, and Chuck
I know it very much comes down to opinion, but I still love the way nerd culture was portrayed in Chuck and I’m waiting for something to do it as well (though SHIELD is doing alright, with Mack and Fitz bonding over Halo and Bobbi wearing a Star Wars tee). Man, Chuck was a special show.

So there you have it. Nine posts out of the fifty-two that made up 2014. Thank you for reading!

Here’s to 2015.

(And then it’s 2016 and then 2017 and then 2018 AND A CAPTAIN MARVEL MOVIE)

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2013 in Review

That’s right people, I’m doing it again.

Once again instead of a usual post I’m going to look through some of the posts from this year and link ‘em. Because it’s something appropriate to do at year’s end and not because a buddy of mine and I watched two movies in two separate cinemas and last night and I’m working today.

Five Most Popular/Viewed Posts

#5: Two More Hours
On occasion my blog posts are, there I say it, topical. This usually happens during those weeks when I get time to see a new movie (this last semester was spent mostly working on a movie of my own). One of these was Ender’s Game and in that post I explain why it needed two more hours. Hence the title.

#4: Science Fiction, Parables, and Gravity
I had a creative writing class this semester that took a hard approach to genre fiction so a handful of my posts were rants essays of my addressing some of those thoughts. I do like this one because Gravity was fantastic and I love getting to talk about science fiction.

#3: Projection and Empathy
This is one of those spitball essays where I figure out what I’m writing a paper on that, surprisingly, found quite an audience. So here’s to you, dear readers, for reading me bouncing thoughts. And yes, I did quite well in that class.

#2: Too Many Characters, Too Little Time
Behold, another instance of me being topical. I really enjoy Game of Thrones (even The Red Wedding, though that’s a very different sort of enjoyment), so writing about it was fun. I still stand by this post, and I still want Joffery to die, and I still haven’t read the books.

#1: Why I (seldom) Write About Ships?
Another one of those that grew out of my creative writing class, this one’s my defense of setting my stories in space. It ended up being a rather bloggy post, mostly due to me talking more about me than stuff, but I do really like it.

Fun Fact: My dad shared this one on Facebook, giving me one of my busiest days and instantly propelling it to the second most viewed post of all time (behind that one post that keeps catching search queries).

And there we have the five most viewed posts. As with last year, what follows will be a few posts that I really like, for various reasons. These posts are also posts that aren’t in the afore top five.

Josh’s Pick of Three

#3: Becoming Iron Man
I wrote a few posts on Iron Man 3, most of them analyzing Tony Stark’s character (hey, I wrote a big paper with him as one of the subjects around the same time). I’m picking this one out because it’s one of those occasions when I pick something apart. And it’s about Iron Man and I had to have at least one Iron Man post here.

#2: A Grownup Video Game
I love The Last of Us. It’s all over this blog and I wrote a paper on it. This was written when I was only a few hours in to the game, but it still hits the nail on the head. That game is phenomenal. On a side note, I was thinking of calling the post something along the lines of Adult Video Game or Video Game for Adults, but, well, I feel like I would have gotten the wrong sort of attention.

#1: Humanity, Hubris, and Canceling The Apocalypse
Pacific Rim is my favorite film of the year. Granted, I’m still catching up with movies (I really want to see Inside Llewyn Davis and her, for example), but Pacific Rim wins my pick for not only its awesome mechas-fighting-kaiju action, but for its themes. It’s a movie that goes beyond its action into a very hopeful movie about making the world a better place.

I also did a close reading of Pentecost’s speech, which I’m quite proud of.

And bam. That’s 2013. Fifty two posts in as many weeks, so here’s to you, readers, for actually reading the stuff I write. See you next week wherein I will most likely cite two completely unrelated works to described a point.

Here’s to 2014.

Also, watch my movie.

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2012 in Review

It’s 2013. Dang.

So instead of a usual post I’m going to look through some of the posts from the prior year! I’m also supposed to be packing and more or less forgot about this week’s post and don’t have time to write one due to errands and packing. Oops.

But hey!

Five Most Popular/Viewed Posts

#5: The Artificial Family

This was a fun one; it’s about how family isn’t just by blood and all. It’s a topic I like to explore in my fiction and hey, I wrote a post about it. I really like seeing it show up in fiction too, and I suppose I’m not the only one.

#4: The Avengers > The Dark Knight Rises

Guess people were looking for argumentative proof/reasons to get mad. I still stand by this position, for the record. The Avengers isn’t a technically perfect movie, but it winds up being a better movie than The Dark Knight Rises because, well, of the reasons I list.

#3: Cortana, Chloe, and Changing Trends

This being so high on the list surprises me considering I just posted it, well, last Saturday. I’m fairly content with it (and it’s also a subject that I take issue with, so there’s that). Guess it also gets more popularity due to tis topical nature and all. I’m perfectly okay with that.

#2: Christian Movies Don’t Have To Suck

Second post ever, yay! This is another one of those issues that bothers me. I also think this post happens to be particularly well written, so cheers. Oh, and did wind up seeing Blue Like Jazz and loved it (and all its imperfections).

#1: Doth Mother Know You Weareth Her Drapes?

This phrase also happens to be the search term that gets me the most traffic. Sorry people looking for Avengers quotes, you wound up on my blog instead!

Fun Fact: I spent more time than I should have making sure I had the right quote. Checked several different websites and saw the movie (again[again{again}]) after posting it to make sure. And to go see The Avengers again. It’s not knoweth.

So those are your five favorite posts. Since, well, y’know, you’re the ones who read this blog and accumulate the views I use to tally the list. You must be so proud.

But what about my favorites? Truth be told, I love all my posts equally but some more than others. These three are some of those (and I’m intentionally not repeating any from above).

Josh’s Pick of Three

#3: Throwing Burritos

Right, so this one isn’t my best post. Not my strongest point nor my best piece of writing, but man, it was fun. It also wound up being one of my more bloggish posts in that I brought in usual life into it.

#2: One Kind of Folks in the ‘Verse: Folks

Dude. I got to compare Firefly and To Kill a Mockingbird. It was a pleasure to write and I like to think I have a valid point. Sadly, it also happens to have one of the lowest page views of all of mine. But hey. I love this post and the two works in question.

#1: Storytelling Lessons from Jesus

I wrote an essay (not a rant) about Jesus and ended it with a quote from Phineas and Ferb after drawing references from Firefly, Thor, and Avatar. This was one of the too few posts I finished a few days ahead and was also so much fun to write. I think I cut out some bits in the long run, actually. Another reason for it being my favorite is that it’s the sort of storytelling I wanna do. And ya gotta admit, it’s a cool post.

And there you have it folks. The top posts form 2012 here at Essays, Not Rants!. I’ll be back in a week with a new post wherein I compare something outlandish or some other thing like that. Thanks to all of you who read this blog, and especially you who comment. I love the feedback.

Here’s to 2013.

Oh, and if you will, buy my book.

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