Kevin C. Wong

TV Series - Hawkeye (2021) [/]

Hawkeye is a 6-episode MCU drama taking place a year or so after Avengers: Endgame. Clint/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) needs to squelch any rumors that Ronin is back when Ronin's costume is sold at a private auction. This is because Hawkeye used to be Ronin and he assassinated a lot of bad guys for the US government.

Unfortunately he needs the help of Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld), college-age archer and martial artist trying to follow in Hawkeye's footsteps after he saved a young Kate during the first Avengers movie. Lots of hero worship from Kate while Clint treats her like an unwanted sidekick and it doesn't help that although she's skilled she makes many super-hero mistakes.

The villains are street level mafia type goons with a few A-class opponents. The new Black Widow, Yelena (Florence Pugh), makes an appearance midway wanting to kill Hawkeye for letting her sister die. Kingpin (Vincent D'Onofrio) also makes an appearance as the final boss. Good street-level supers action.

Overall it's an ok series mostly because I'm not as into street-level adventures. Also Kate is a bit annoying and it takes a while to redeem her. But overall a good series and worth watching. Oh, and there's an Avengers: The Musical bonus musical number at the end (during the final credits) that's pretty cool.

Board Game - Tiny Epic Dinosaurs Deluxe (2020) [+]

Tiny Epic Dinosaurs Deluxe is a worker-placement game about breeding and selling dinosaurs.

Each player has a grid map where they can place barriers and dinosaurs (no two dinosaur types can live in the same area and dinosaurs can run away through the edge of your map if you don't have barriers, man-made or natural like water/mountain, to stop them). Most squares have a resource (meat, plants, ore) but if a dinosaur is on the square you can't collect the resource.

During a turn each player places a worker on an activity spot. If a worker is present in a spot you need two workers to do the same activity (many activities have variants and one of your workers is double-sized so it's usually not too bad). Main activity categories:

  • catch a dinosaur, which can wound both dinosaur and worker with minor effects
  • buy a dinosaur using resources
  • gather extra resources
  • buy barriers
  • buy technology
  • turn in contracts

There are four basic dinosaurs: plant 1, plant 2, meat 1, meat 2. The #2 version eats more but needed for some contracts. There are also unique dinosaurs that you get from tech cards, these have special rules (e.g. a dinosaur that is considered to have barriers all around it, or a dinosaur that can be placed in water). Besides unique dinosaurs tech cards can also give you special abilities.

Once everyone has placed all their workers you finish the turn: Place new barriers and dinosaurs. Then if there are two in an area they breed and produce a third. Then all dinosaurs eat and if you can't feed them all the extra ones run away (plant dinosaurs break barriers, meat dinosaurs eat a plant dinosaur as they leave). Then collect resources and go to next turn.

You most points for turning in contracts. A few points for number of dinosaurs you have at the end of the game (basic and unique) and tech cards.

In general each player plays by themselves and you can only interfere by placing your worker on a needed activity or taking a tech card they want.

The first game took us four hours with four players. Probably half that long for a normal game. Pretty good theming and not too complex of a game. Was quite fun.

Spot Reviews 03/25/22

Food - Amy's Mushroom Risotto Bowl [+] This was pretty good and seemed a bit more filling than other Amy's Bowls that I've tried. Rice, mushroom, peas and spices. Savory and pretty tasty.

Movie - Those Who Wish Me Dead (2021) [/] Hannah (Angelina Jolie) is a smokejumper team leader assigned to a firewatch station in order to recover from a traumatic last assignment where she lost one of her team. She runs into Connor (Finn Little), a kid on the run from two assassins who murdered his father. Together the two travel the wilderness avoiding the assassins and a forest fire the assassins started... Not a bad suspense sort of film and I'm always up to see Jolie doing action scenes.

Podcast - Advanced After Combat (2011) [-] I tried this years ago and didn't like it. Listened to the latest episode. Almost three hours long. Maybe an hour talking about wargames. The rest was random topics, trivia, RPGs, bad jokes about Russia-Ukraine War, and other uninteresting stuff.

Movie - The Wedding Veil Trilogy (2022) [+]

The Wedding Veil Trilogy are three Hallmark Channel romantic movies. While antique shopping three friends find a wedding veil that brings matchmaking luck. In each movie one of the friends takes the veil and finds true love.

The Wedding Veil (2022) [+] - Avery (Lacey Chabert) meets fellow traveller Peter (Kevin McGarry) in San Francisco. They have so much in common and turns out both live in Boston. When Peter sees the wedding veil he thinks Avery is engaged so abruptly calls it off but they are thrown back together when Peter's philanthropic foundation works with Avery's museum to throw a gala event.

The Wedding Veil Unveiled (2022) - Emma (Autumn Reeser) visits Italy to research the origin of the wedding veil. There she meets Paolo (Paolo Bernardini), whose family has been in the lace-making business for two centuries and great grandmother sewed the wedding veil. The two research the secret history of the veil, like why the bride didn't use it in her wedding and said the veil had been burned in a fire. And along the way, romance.

The Wedding Veil Legacy (2022) - Tracy (Alison Sweeney) breaks up with her long-time boyfriend. While seeing a tailor to get the wedding veil repaired she meets Nick (Victor Webster) and they do not take a liking to each other. Later when Tracy is organizing an auction event she has to use Nick's restaurant for catering, throwing the two of them together where they start to bond over a historic poem Tracy is trying to save from the current owner.

Three Amy's Soups

Food - Amy's Organic Chunky Tomato Bisque [+] Tomato purée and diced tomatoes with cream makes the main soup. Sugar, onions, salt, pepper for flavoring. Tastes really good and one of my favorites.

Food - Amy's Organic Fire Roasted Southwestern Vegetable Soup [+] Delicious vegetable soup with tomatoes, potato, corn, black beans, onions, carrots, bell peppers, celery, and green chilies. Has a bit of a spicy kick but I wouldn't call it spicy. 200 calories.

Food - Amy's Organic Carrot Ginger Soup [/] Carrots, water, cream for soup base with butter, rice, sugar, salt, ginger, spices and pepper for taste. Doesn't have much of carrot taste and I almost thought it was squash soup. Tastes fine though not as yummy as the tomato bisque.

Spot Reviews 03/18/22

Movie - Finch (2021) [/] Post-apocalyptic robotic coming-of-age story. Electrical engineer Finch (Tom Hanks) builds a robot to help him out and calls him Jeff (Caleb Landry Jones). The two plus Finch's dog set out across country on an upgunned RV trying to reach safety in San Francisco. In this story the apocalypse is no ozone layer so the sun is deadly both directly and because of 140 degree daytime temperatures. The main character arc is Jeff learning the ways of humanity. It's an ok film.

Amy's Rustic Italian Vegetable Soup [/] Not my favorite soup because it has chickpeas.

RPG Ramblings Podcast (2020) [-] What the name says. The host talks with a different guest each week and they ramble about RPGs, mostly on the industry and design topics. I listened to the first and latest episodes and it just didn't appeal to me. I think I find the host a bit boring.

Movie - The Hunger Games p2-4 (2013-15) [/]

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

President Snow (Donald Sutherland) forces Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and other former Hunger Games winners to play a special 75th Anniversary Hunger Games.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 (2014)

Katnis and Gale (Liam Hemsworth) join the rebellion. Meanwhile Peeta is still prisoner in the Capital.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 (2015)

Katniss, Peeta and Gale join in the final drive to defeat the Capital army. But will the new government be better than the current one?

I watched part 2 a few months ago then the last two parts last week. Like The Maze Runner, the series goes beyond the main game in order to grow and continue.

It's still sort of a bland series for me. Katniss seems to spend half the time self sabotaging herself and the rebellion due to her sympathy and goodness but the other half of the time showing those attributes are key.

Overall I guess I'm not the target audience but at least I watched this series.

Apple Arcade - Spaceland (2019) [+]

Spaceland is a science fiction turn-based tactical combat game. In each of the 28 solo campaign levels you control one to four characters (usually two or three and you can usually choose one or two of them: these are set characters for the campaign and often the campaign story requires one to all characters to be set). Each scenario has a goal (with intermediate goals so always know what to do) and once you're done you hit the exit squares. Rewards are based on getting all characters out, finishing in a set number of turns, and finding a secret item present in every scenario. Sometimes you can't get all the rewards in one run but you can restart and the scenario plays exactly the same.

It's an I-GO-U-GO system. On your turn you can maneuver characters in any order and switch back and forth. Each character has action points, usually six. Moving a square is one AP, shooting a weapon is usually three AP, activating a special action is one or two AP. Offensively you can shoot your main weapon, use your backup weapon (unlimited shots or uses), or use a special item like a grenade or dynamite. Every character has their own set of weapons and abilities and you can't customize that.

  • Jim - rookie space ranger and maybe closest to an all around warrior. Combat rifle with sword, run ability which makes him a great scout.
  • Barret - Jim's ranger mentor. Shotgun and pistol and has grenades.
  • Marcus - marine in combat armor. Gatling gun and pistol. Slow but can teleport a couple of times and has a limited use force shield.
  • Terra - marine tech. Plasma rifle and pistol and a healing ability.
  • Torvald - miner. Grenade launcher and pistol. Less action points but has a stim pack that can give him more AP in a pinch.
  • Ortega - marine sniper. Sniper rifle and sword and can teleport.
  • Gordon - scientist. Blaster and pistol. Can give ammo and AP to allies.

Defensively there is cover to hide behind and doorways to duck through. Combatants take more damage from the side and back so getting a crossfire is good but generally impractically long. Sometimes you have to take your lumps rushing up then run behind an opponent to shoot them in the back. Scenarios have ammo boxes and healing kits scattered around.

You get two rewards: coins used to upgrade gear and circuits used to upgrade abilities. Coins you're always getting so eventually you can max out your gear. Circuits you only get once -- rerunning a scenario you can get coins but not any circuits you've already earned. Each character has two abilities which can be advanced two levels and once you have both abilities maxed there is an additional extra bonus you can buy. But with the lack of circuits you're only going to max half the characters (actually a bit of a lie, there are daily scenarios which also reward circuits so doing all of those and other dailies you buy with coins you can max out all characters; kind of useful if you rerun the campaign at a higher level).

Light tactics and each scenario is about half an hour. A long solo campaign. A co-op campaign which requires pairing with a random player or a friend. Last week a bonus short solo campaign (with extra dailies) came out. This is an entertaining game that will keep you occupied for a few weeks (or an intense night or two).

Spot Reviews 03/11/22

Amy's Broccoli & Cheddar Bake Bowl [/] Kind of like mac 'n cheese with spiral pasta and broccoli. Tastes good but the toasted bread crumbs don't come out good if you microwave. Will have to try using toast-r-oven next time.

Movie - Free Guy (2021) [/] An MMORPG NPC becomes self aware when it falls in love with a PC. The plot is fine and the graphics are good but the action goes a bit over the top to cartoony at times. I guess better than I expected. Starring Ryan Reynolds and Jodie Comer as the NPC and PC.

For All Mankind: The Official Podcast (2021) [/] A six episode podcast hosted by actress Krys Marshall. Half about the show and half about space exploration with a couple of episode roundtable discussions on the show. It's ok though seemed less focused. I like the Foundation podcast better as it follows each episode.

Anime - Cowboy Bebop (1998) [+]

In preparation for watching the live action series I rewatched Cowboy Bebop (1998). It is an anime about a group of down-on-their-luck space cowboys, i.e. bounty hunters.

Spike (Steve Blum) - former mafia gunman and combat specialist
Jet (Beau Billingslea) - owner of the spaceship Bebop and main mechanic, former police officer
Faye (Wendee Lee) - a woman who doesn't remember her past and inveterate gambler
Ed (Melissa Fahn) - kid computer whiz who talks in riddles
Ein - hyper-intelligent Corgi

At least early on each episode is a separate bounty and they're very good at getting their bounty jumper but very bad at ending up with profits. All this in a noirish-space-western universe with a great sound track.

Maybe not as good as I remember it, this was one of the first animes I watched, but still has some good episodes and the characters each have an ending arc. It was good watching it again and now on to the live action series to see if it's also good.

macOS - Antstream Arcade (2021) [-]

Antstream Arcade is a retro-games streaming service. You can play a variety of old arcade, game console (e.g. NES and SNES), and computer (e.g. C64 and Amiga) games. The games run on their servers and are streamed to your computer and they have controller support.

Although their 1000+ game catalog is mostly action games they do have at least one RPG (Temple of Apshai for C64), wargame (Pegasus Bridge for ZX Spectrum), and strategy (Premier Manager 97 for Sega Mega Drive), so you can play games that last more than a few minutes. A few games are available on multiple platforms.

You get 1000 gems to start with. Starting a game is 30 gems and once you've started you can keep playing for as long as you want. You can win gems or game achievements and in Antstream contests. There is a Premium subscription which is unlimited play.

I tried four games -- Elevator Action (arcade), Star Wars (arcade), Jumpman (C64), Temple of Apshai (C64) -- and unfortunately mostly unplayable due to lag. The games look great though and definitely nostalgic. I'm on Sonic Fiber Internet so apparently you need a better Internet connection than that. Still you can download and try it out for free to see if performance is good enough for you.

Spot Reviews 03/04/22

Food - Trader Joe's Chicken & Cheese Tamales [+] Like the beef tamales these are pretty good for frozen food. There is cheese but I couldn't tell from the taste. Still, it's a 4-min microwave 500-calorie meal.

Movie - We Were Soldiers (2002) [/] I recently rewatched this, skipping all the home front stuff and it's an entertaining war movie. I have watched he whole movie twice and I don't think I'd ever want to watch the whole thing again.

Locked on 49ers Podcast (2016) [-] This is a weekday half-hour podcast. When it started it had one host and currently has two hosts. I bit too much like a radio show -- a bit too hype-y and bombastic. I want a more even-level mien.

Movie - Blade Runner: The Final Cut (1982) [+]

In the year 2019 mankind has been to the stars and Earth is overrun by megacorps. In this neo-noir world although there are replicants (androids) none are allowed on Earth due to a recent replicant rebellion. Replicants who do sneak onto Earth are hunted down and retired by blade runners. Deckard (Harrison Ford) is a former runner who is dragged back in order to hunt down four replicants who are here to infiltrate the Tyrell Corp and find a way to extend their 4-year designed lives...

I may be misremembering but this is the third time I've watched Blade Runner. The first time was in university and I watched the director's cut with some friends and was confused by the movie. The second time I watched the theatrical version which has narration and it was much better.

Blade Runner: The Final Cut is another director's version though this time he had complete control. All three versions the story is much the same and I don't remember differences. Like the other versions this is a good movie and well worth watching. I wouldn't say it's worth watching if you've watched it before but if you haven't this is a good version to watch.