Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Is social media the new journaling?

You know what’s weird for me? When I see a “Like” or a “Comment” come up on my Facebook alerts on something I said or did ages ago but had forgotten about until a friend or relative who rarely uses Facebook gets on and likes or comments on it. This can be kind of fun too because then I look back and see that thing I said and wonder why I said it.
After going back through my Facebook feed for the last few months I found a few posts I had forgotten I had made:
Recently I posted this while on my honeymoon. I still forgot I had said it. 

This was after I saw Patrick Stewart speak at Comic Con

It's still true.

I have a problem with math...

This honestly nearly killed me. 

What I’ve realized though is that I write on Facebook more than my journal, and since Facebook will theoretically hang on to my posts forever, has Facebooking become the new journaling?
My niece, Bella. She just turned 6.
It’s certainly become the new way to communicate with friends. I have literally hundreds of friends on Facebook I would never know anything about if it wasn’t for what they post, and vice versa. I have no idea how people stayed in touch with so many people before social media. Either they wrote a billion people a month or they just forgot about everyone they've ever met. 

I love sea food, so much so that while eating I resemble a killer whale.
I appreciate it for planning events. Nearly all my events are now planned exclusively through Facebook, though that’s for better or worse. The friends I have who don’t use the system (And yes I have a few, my sister being one of them), tend to get overlooked when fun things are abound and shennegains are afoot.
But aside from that, are we going to be remembered for our Facebook posts?
His family was away that weekend so I spent the night. Yay bro dates!
I remember a few years ago when President Henry B. Eyring gave a talk on keeping a journal and then journaling became almost like a fad in the church. Everyone talked about how they would be read for generations to come, so I wonder if one day people’s Facebook or Twitter feeds will be kept in big granite vaults along with pioneer journals and artifacts, and you know what?
I like it.
Just laugh it's funny.
I know a lot of people see Facebook as a waste of time and empty but I see it as a reflection of our digital age. I like the idea of my hypothetical grandkids reading my posts on Captain Picard and how I did on my finals with a smile because that’s who their ancestor was in that time. I want them to see my wife and I flirt with each other in our early relationship and how my friends and I would banter online.
Of course it’s not all roses. Ownership laws have yet to catch up with the tech, so it could easily come into dispute as to who owns the rights to Great Grandpa Joe’s Facebook feed down the line, and what level of editing has it gone through since the initial rant on the lines at the post office. And while the vaults are a good concept, how big of computers would be required to store millions of people’s Facebook, and for that matter Twitter, Instagram and Pintrest feeds as well after they’ve been added to for decades. I think that if lost or tampered with it would be a loss to mankind as a whole, since this is the first time in history where a majority of the culture is literate and has the freedom to express themselves however they want.
I don't often get poetic, but this hit during a particularly annoying
bout of studying. 
To me what we have here is a unique way to express ourselves that can be saved for future generations like never before. Working for a genealogist I have seen people who the only things we know about them is what was written on a few ledgers 200 years ago, and usually that was their name, occupation, age, and what they attended. I’ve worked on whole families where all we have is a birth record, a marriage record, and a death record, but who were these people? What did they think? Who did they love? What stories did they have?
Maybe our ancestors won’t have those questions. Maybe they’ll look at our old Facebook quotes and know who we were and how we were, and maybe that’s an amazing thing.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Random Minecraft Pictures

So, I forgot that I needed to write up a blog post today.  So, I'm posting some pictures from the Minecraft world I was playing on last night.  Hope you enjoy! Come back next week for more Mix Up Your Minecraft.

Silk worms working (from the Ex Nihilo mod)
My first shack and now it's my mine shaft. (drying racks on the right are from Tinker's Construct)
A small house for my Tinker's Construct work.  You can see the Smeltery on the right.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Top Ten most annoying Disney sidekicks

We haven't discussed Disney in a bit, let's try something a little controversial.
Contrary to popular belief, I don't love all Disney characters, particularly the side characters. Sadly, it's almost a requirement for every Disney movie to have a few talking clocks or thinking snowmen just to sell more toys and add some comic relief. But for me sometimes these characters aren't just annoying, they take away from the quality of the movie. So here's my list of the top ten most annoying Disney sidekicks, and this time they WILL be in order.

10. Cogsworth and Lumiere from Beauty and the Beast
These guys weren't so annoying until I saw a first cut for Beauty and the Beast where none of the furniture could talk. After that every time I saw these two eat up screen time bickering I just got increasingly angry. The only reason they land so low on my list is that "Be Our Guest" is a good song. 

9. Tantor from Tarzan
A scaredy-cat elephant voiced by Newman. He serves no purpose in the plot and that voice just grates on my nerves. Baby Tantor isn't any better, just a higher pitched annoying elephant. I'm just glad this guy didn't get popular, though I would've loved to see the thing get eaten by a Dilophosaurus. 

8. Skippy and his friends from Robin Hood
Here's a great idea: Let's take an awesome high-action idea like Robin Hood done with animals and waste 15-20 minutes messing around with annoying baby critters. All their scene with Maid Marian adds to our plot is that Maid Marian likes Robin Hood, something we could've figured out from knowing that the film was about Robin Hood. 

7. Owl from Winnie the Pooh
I know that his long-winded stories are played for laughs, but every time Owl's on screen I want to hit fast forward. When you have so many fun and high-energy characters bouncing around on screen, slowing down the story for this wind bag makes me want to mount him on my wall. 

6. Pegasus from Hercules
I feel like this character could've been beautiful and elegant like Aladdin's Carpet, but instead we get this weird bro-horse. Pegasus is always laughing or making a face or getting its butt jammed into things, which is supposed to come off as fun but for me it just comes off as Hercules's frat buddy. Maximus from Tangled could be funny without looking hideous. Zeus would've been better off just making Hercules a nice Ford rather than an annoying flying horse. 

5. Timon and Pumbaa from The Lion King
This is probably one of the more debatable choices on this list since so many people love these guys, but for me Timon and Pumbaa are just empty comic relief. Even their song that is so popular with the masses is the worst advice they could have given Simba. There's a story of a prince who was captured by criminals and denied earthly pleasures because of his princely heritage, and honestly these guys are the antithesis of that story. They take Simba away from his birthright and tell him to stop caring about anything that matters. That's a great message to teach kids. 

4. B.E.N. from Treasure Planet
Okay so not a lot of people have seen this movie, which is a shame because the animation, character designs and overall tone for me just seem to work perfectly together. However, the obnoxious robot we have to meet in the third act, B.E.N. is basically a delayed Jar Jar Binks. One of his character traits is that his memory board is missing so he constantly "Acts crazy" because he's malfunctioning, but even when they do find his hard drive or whatever he still acts like an imbecile. Just throw him off the boat and let the vacuum of space deal with him, please. 

3. All the mice in Cinderella
I know mice are part of the original Cinderella story, but Disney decided to take them one step further and give them songs and a major role in the film. Couple that with their high pitched voices and the fact that they devolve a large section of the movie into an episode of Tom and Jerry and you get some universally awful characters. What's sad is that we have a main character that is severely underdeveloped in this film, namely our nameless prince, who could have become a major piece in the story if the mice were dropped. The same thing happened with Snow White but the dwarfs are so entertaining they get a pass, but really, does anyone care about the plight of "Gus Gus"?
2. Dr. Jumba Jookiba from Lilo and Stitch
This guy is almost classified as a villain if the movie hadn't decided for us that he was too weak and replace him with that giant whale man. The problem with Jumba and his weird little buddy is that this film didn't need them to drive up tension. We already had a major obstacle to overcome in the form of Bubbles the social worker threatening to break up the family. Honestly we didn't even need to know that Stitch was a lab experiment and not just an alien. This film could've been like ET and just been about the development of relationship and the meaning of family, but Jumba just has to sit there with his forced conflict and get in the way of our favorite blue alien.

1. The gargoyles from The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Disney made a bold move in trying to adapt this Victor Hugo novel into a fun movie for the whole family, and while so many parts to this film work, the gargoyle sidekicks to Quasimodo do not in any way shape or form. First, they don't make sense in the context of their own reality. We don't see any other evidence of magic or talking things that aren't supposed to be talking in the entire movie, and while the film hints that they are figments of Quasimodo's imagination, in the final battle it's extremely clear that they are helping defend Notre Dame and are real. Second, they have arguably the worst song in a Disney film. Here we have our hero already established to have shame and sadness around his hideous appearance and these three sing a song about how he can get the girl despite being ugly, while still reminding him of how ugly he is. Not only is this incredibly mean spirited, but Quasimodo doesn't even get the girl in the end anyway. So the gargoyles from Hunchback get the worst Disney sidekick award by me for not only annoying me but by putting the final nails into the coffin of the film they were in. I hope that gives them a sense of accomplishment as they remember that people would rather hug a stuffed Quasimodo than any one of them anytime soon. 


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Mix Up Your Minecraft: Mo' Creatures and Biomes O' Plenty

Are you tired of fighting the same zombies, skeletons, and creepers?  Are you tired of the same old vanilla Minecraft biomes?  Are you tired of feeling like your Minecraft world is desolate and empty?  Well, this post might have some mods for you!

I'm going to go over two mods in this post (I have to make up for last week, right?).  The first one is Biomes O' Plenty.  Biomes O' Plenty adds approximately 80 new biomes and 12 new sub-biomes.  You heard me correctly: 80 new biomes!  Redwood forests, wastelands, and wetlands just to name a few.  And it doesn't just add them to the 'overworld'.  New biomes show up in the Nether as well!  Also, the mod adds in a whole new dimension called the Promised Land.  The Promised Land represents the sky lands that Mojang almost released instead of the End.

The other mod is Mo' Creatures.  Mo' Creatures breathes new life into the Minecraft world.  All sorts of beautiful, crazy, and dangerous creatures are added into the world.  There are bugs, birds, and snakes.  There is the fast and deadly silver skeleton.  There are the incredible dangerous werewolves.  There are also the peaceful ents.  In all, Mo' Creatures adds in 30+ more mobs.  I would personally recommend reading up on the mod before trying to play with it.  The number of new creatures can be very overwhelming!

Here's a brief video of a world a friend and I generated.  A number of different Biomes O' Plenty biomes and Mo' Creatures creatures are shown.  In the end, we ended up junking the world for the other, but it might be fun to watch me freak out when a snake attacks me.


Monday, July 14, 2014

Podcast: Episode 4: FantasyCon

I have Stephen as my guest discussing many aspects of FantasyCon, which was awesome, by the way.

Listen to our latest podcast here.

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Edge of Heartache

There's a movie that came out that very few people saw.  It under performed at the box office despite having Tom Cruise attached to it and being a smart science fiction flick.  Edge of Tomorrow is set in the not so distant future where aliens called mimics attack.  The different countries have come together to fight the menace by forming the United Defense Force (UDF).  Cruise plays a glorified recruiter, Bill Cage, from the U.S. Army but sending recruits to the UDF.  He's flawed, unlikable, and has never seen combat.

The acting general for the UDF, General Brigham, puts Bill Cage on the front lines to be filmed to help boost moral and recruits.  When Cage tries to blackmail General Brigham he is arrested and put on the front lines anyway and labelled a deserter.  Cage finds himself with military equipment he doesn't know how to use and finding new comrades quickly being killed off by the mimics.  Through sheer luck and cowardice he survives long enough to come face to face with a mimic that is different.  One claymore exploding second later, the special mimic has exploded and has mixed blood with the dying Bill Cage.

Then Cage dies only to wake up the previous day.

That's right, he wakes up yesterday.  Like clockwork, everything happens all over again except Cage remembers everything from the previous day.  It's kind of like groundhog's day except with aliens and warfare.  Cage meets the celebrated soldier Rita Vrataski to find out that she experienced the exact same scenario but lost the power.  Cage and Rita work together to use his unique ability to bring an end to the alien invasion.  Two characters that work so closely together will be vulnerable and prone to fall in love.  Well, for one of them to fall in love anyway.  Rita clearly feels something for Cage but she doesn't remember anything the next day when he dies but he does.

That's what fascinated me about the story.  When Bill Cage first meets Rita he doesn't hold much of an interest for her.  When he saves her life in battle she tells him to find her when she wakes up.  They both die and the day repeats.  He finds her and she trains him.  Does he fall for her now?  Not necessarily.  If anything, he becomes extremely irritated and annoyed by her.

But he does fall for her.  And throughout combat and the days rewinding and then playing again he starts to ache when she dies over and over again.  It doesn't matter that he's going to see her the next day, it still hurts.  It hurts that his love is more developed than her love (if there's any even there).  In a conversation with Rita she talks about a former friend (possibly lover?) that she had to see die 300 times.  Ultimately, she lost him in when she lost the power to reset time.

What I find so interesting in this movie is what it says about love and loss.  It's really quite normal to feel heartache and sadness when someone leaves you even though you know they still care about you and that you're going to see them again.  I used to think this was a weakness or I would feel embarrassed when I found myself in tears saying goodbye to a friend knowing that I would see him in a month or two.  Even though I could logically understand this my heart just felt a lot of loss and pain at separation.

The shortest scripture in the scriptures is two words; "Jesus wept." (John 11:35)  Mary Magdalene has just come to the savior in tears because of her dead brother Lazarus.  I think it is safe to say that Jesus knew he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead.  I've heard a lot of religious scholars talk about how they think Jesus cried because of how happy he was for Mary, Martha, and Lazarus to see the power of God and get a glimpse of an understanding of his mission.  I think this makes sense.

In addition to that though, I think it's also possible that he may have felt grief as well.  Jesus was very close to the family and felt close to Lazarus.  I've come to find that when I've felt heartache it hasn't always been a fear of losing someone close to me.  Really, when I look back, I don't know if that ever really crossed my mind.  I may have told myself that story to try to deal with the grief better but it didn't work. My feelings of loss were simply the sadness of loss.  It didn't matter if I knew it wasn't really gone, I just needed to let myself feel what I felt.

It's okay to feel loss.  It's normal.  It actually makes us like the savior.  We don't need to suffocate it or try to correct it.  We just need to feel it and let it be.  It may not make sense when we logically know we will all get to be reunited someday.  That's okay.

Stay tuned for more coverage on Fantasy-Con and other great stuff from Mormon Geeks.  Thanks reading, watching, and listening!  Oh, and see Edge of Tomorrow.  It's a good movie and deserves to be more successful then it's been experiencing.



Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Joe's Fantasy Con experience

I know every local blog and news outlet has covered Fantasy Con extensively, but when have I ever cared about what other people are doing?

That being said, here's Fantasy Con.

The most frequently asked question I was asked leading up to Fantasy Con was "What's the difference between Fantasy Con and Comic Con?" and my answer before the event was honestly "The spelling". Now however, I can safely say that the difference is the spelling and also the fact that I had a lot more to do at Fantasy Con than I did at Comic Con. 

Belegarth fighting each other for the crowds entertainment
Frankly, I'm not a panel guy. I enjoyed going into the celebrity panels at Comic and Fantasy Con when the celebs were actually there, but hearing an "expert" talk about how much we do and don't know about the new Star Wars film, and Fantasy Con catered to my unique need. Let's start with the massive LARPing arena in the center of the convention. Big burly men in psuedo-medieval costumes bashing each other with foam swords and shields was a spectacle I haven't got to see since my early twenties. Mixed in was a more realistic group with blunted blades and authentic armor doing an impressive display of fencing and saber wielding. It didn't take long at all before my fellow MormonGeeks and I were screaming for blood with the rest of the crowd. 

Fantastic metalwork
The reenactment guys brought their blacksmiths to the event, who actually welded iron and armor for the crowd. This wasn't some cheap make-believe thing, they had real blacksmiths, and next to them glass blowers, and between them fire dancers. 

Yup. Fire dancers. 

The first time these folks lit up my jaw dropped. I watched these folks light each other on fire at least a dozen times, and I think most of those were on purpose. Again, this wasn't cheap stunts put on to kind of impress an unknowing crowd. This was a professional show with real fire and real... well dancers I suppose... and that was impressive. 

Vendors at this thing, while a lot less than Comic Con, were impressive to my little heart. First hour and I was squeeing like a fangirl when I met famous LDS director and star of God's Army Richard Dutcher, and got a signed autograph of the film that started the LDS film industry (For better or worse but that's for a different post). Days later and I'm still excited.

My new artwork. 
Fun fact about Joe: I collect art. Not big pieces like the Mona Lisa, at least not until my thieves guild can get better equipped. My living room currently features a Jack Skellington and Sally watercolor, a Calvin and Hobbs watercolor print, a digital Korra from Legend Of, a print of Christ holding a lamb a dear friend gave us for our wedding, and now a print of Angel Of Flight Alabaster by Howard Lyon. I also scored a free picture of a mermaid for my bathroom. Both are autographed and both bring joy to my little geek heart. 

Honestly I want to write more about all the vendors I saw, and I will later on. Let's just say I met a pile of amazing people and I hope to introduce them all to you in the weeks ahead. For now though let me get to the main event.

Stephen meets Lady Brianne of Tarth. 
Hate to say it, but the recent Hobbit films haven't really sparked my heart, so the thought of meeting hobbits and dwarves just didn't get me excited. Simon Pegg on the other hand, star of Shawn of the Dead and Scotty from the new Star Trek franchise, that's exciting. Our press passes got us up close to the British actor as he talked about his love of all things geekdom and making films that were both entertaining and had heart. 

"I wanted to be Luke Skywalker", he said to the audience. "I know all the kids wanted to be the cool Han Solo but as the little blonde boy I wanted to be Luke".  (abbreviated)

"When I make films I want people to feel something, people should feel something. If it's anger, sadness or happiness, it should invoke something. I hope my films invoke some sort of emotion in people." (abbreviated)

They do Pegg, they do. 

So on the whole, Fantasy Con was a hit. Comic Con can take a few lessons from this, bring more than just big names and vendors to the party, give the crowd thrills they can find without waiting in like or spending massive amounts of money, and we may be able to boost the number from number three in the country and up to number one, and give Fantasy Con another shot (Maybe not put it on the 4th of July) and I see this thing taking off like dragon chasing sheep. 

This is the biggest dragon in the world. 
Me and my new awesome toy! 
Not really a fantasy character, but It's Data and Spock!

Mermaids are always cool. 

Fountain set up for the convention. 
They had fossils and paleontologists. This was a huge thrill.