Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Spoiler-Free Spider-Man Far From Home Review

I wasn't sure what to expect in "Spider-Man Far From Home" after seeing "Avengers Endgame". Maybe that's why I enjoyed it so much. Here are some initial thoughts after seeing it this weekend. As I try to do, I'll avoid spoilers. However, anything that was seen in the trailers is fair game.

First of all, I wasn't sure what to expect with this movie taking place after "Endgame". The trailers made it seem like everything was back to normal, aside from Iron Man being gone. I've had numerous conversations in the past two months about how everyday life would be chaotic and jumbled after the Decimation was reversed by the Hulk. However, I liked that they addressed the aftermath without dwelling on it. I definitely wouldn't want them to take a whole movie or TV series to explain how the average person got back to real life after blipping back into life.

Ever since "Spider-Man: Homecoming" and meeting Zendaya's MJ, I've felt a little weird about it. Maybe I'm just too used to Mary Jane Watson from the Tobey McGuire Spider-Man movies, but I was thrown by this new kind of MJ. The biggest struggle I had was that I didn't particularly enjoy Peter and MJ's chemistry. Maybe it's because they're teenagers and teenagers are awkward anyway. Maybe it's because it's just a new MJ. Maybe it's just because it's new. Regardless, we're likely to see them again (at least once more), so I guess we'll see what happens next.

With Mysterio being introduced in the trailers, I had my theories about what was going to happen. Was he really going to be good? Was he going to be a villain (as I'd seen in the cartoons growing up)? Even with all of my theories and ideas, I was still surprised. I'm not sure what exactly I was expecting, but I guess maybe that's why it worked. It wouldn't have been so fun if I had been 100% correct about Mysterio.

Overall, I thought the movie (teenage/high school chemistry aside) was a wonderful transition out of Phase 3 and into Phase 4. The post-Endgame action provided a smooth segway out of "Endgame" and the big battle for Earth and into the next generation of Marvel movies. The cool thing is seeing what comes next. No release dates have been confirmed, but we know we're getting (at least) a Black Widow prequel (Budapest with Hawkeye perhaps?), Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 (maybe searching for Gamora?), Doctor Strange 2 (with Mordo's return hopefully), and Black Panther 2 (no clues there yet). Other than those spin-offs, we don't realy know what's happening next. We haven't been this MCU-blind in years. It's kind of exciting!

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Pregnant at Disney World

This past weekend my wife and I announced that we're having our first baby this winter (due right around New Years). Just a week before the announcement we were in Magic Kingdom, finishing up a week at Walt Disney World with my family. Being at Disney in the middle of her morning sickness made things really interesting for my wife. After all that, I asked her to be my consult for this post. Hopefully it'll help someone else with their experience being pregnant at Disney.

Plan Second Trimester
If you can help it, plan the Disney trip during your second trimester. At first when planning our trip to Disney, we just knew we couldn't fly during the third trimester. It hadn't occurred to me that traveling during the first tremester would risk a huge overlap with morning sickness and since this is our first baby, I had no idea how intense morning sickness really was. So if at all possible, plan your trip for after the morning sickness is over (even though it's not exactly predictable).

Bring Extra Snacks
Even when I went to Disneyland a few years ago with a buddy, we stocked up on snacks for the park so that we could save money, instead of buying overpriced in-park snacks every time. However, with my pregnant wife we over planned our snacks. With her morning sickness being somewhat unpredictable, we never knew which snacks would sit well and what wouldn't. Sometimes she needed something pretty plain or salty (like goldfish crackers) but sometimes she needed something naturally sweet (like an apple). As a result, we had to plan for all possibilities so that we could play trial and error for which snacks would help her feel less nauseous.

Drink Twice as Much
This is a tip I'd give anyone, especially for Disney World. When I've been to Disneyland, it was warm, but I never felt like it was nasty humid the same way that Florida is. As a result, especially coming from desert Utah, we had to drink extra water. We had Gatorade and frozen waters in my backpack each morning and we filled my blender bottle every time we saw a water fountain. Sure it'll mean many more bathroom breaks, but it's better than being dehydrated. And especially with my wife's pregnancy, sometimes the trial and error that I mentioned ended up being that she needed more water. Again, sometimes it's a snack, but sometimes it's water.

Aim for Kid Friendly Parks
To be fair, my wife and I aren't very adventurous. She's not one for roller coasters and I'm not one for falls. So Rockin Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, Splash Mountain, and several others were off our list immediately. In addition to our hesitations, I was surprised by how many rides said that expectant women shouldn't ride (like Star Tours and the Jungle Safari). So as a result there were plenty of rides that my wife couldn't ride anyway. So if you're going to Disney World (I see this as less of a problem for Disneyland), I'd recommend focusing on Magic Kingdom. Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom had a lot more adult rides, in my opinion. But Magic Kingdom had lots of kid rides that were slow and easy, so that my wife wouldn't get sick.

Take Things Slow
Making a baby is exhausting! Going full speed with my siblings, my wife was worn out early on our first day. We just couldn't keep up with them. By our fifth day, rests were non-negotiable. Sometimes this meant going on an easy ride just to sit, like The Little Mermaid. Sometimes it meant finding a spot to sit down for five-ten minutes to regain some energy. Personally, I don't think it's realistic to expect yourself to jump from ride to ride as quick as you would before pregnancy.

Keep Realistic Expections
If you're going to Disney and you are (or might soon be) pregnant, make sure you have accurate expectations. You might not ride lots of rides. You might not move very fast. You might take more breaks. However, one of the things I love about Disneyland and Disney World is that you don't have to do anything to enjoy the atomosphere of Disney. Being in Disney is often enough for me. There's always fun music playing. There's always a snack stand you can enjoy. There's always something. So even if you can't ride the roller coasters or keep up with the rest of the family, there's still a lot of fun to be had.

Women who have been pregnant at Disney: What have I missed? Anything you'd recommend for someone in your situation?

Friday, May 17, 2019

Sorting Friends into Hogwarts Houses

A few days ago I saw a meme posted celebrating Monica and Chandler's anniversary. Despite what fans want, we may never get a reunion movie/mini-series (and fans would certainly never be satisfied). So to help with the grieving process that another year has gone by without a "Friends" reunion, here are my thoughts on where the six main Friends would be sorted at Hogwarts.

Chandler Bing - Gryffindor
At a first glance, I thought Chandler was a Hufflepuff. However, when I stop to think about it, Chandler reminds me a lot of Neville. Chandler dealt with a lot growing up. His parents got divorced when he was young and his mother was never the role model he wanted. However, despite his faults and his struggles, he pushed forward. Even when it came to romantic relationships where he was scared to commit, he pushed forward, eventually marrying Monica and even being brave enough to adopt two children (even though it scared him senseless at one point or another). Because of that courage, he's a Gryffindor to me.

Monica Geller - Gryffindor
Like her husband, Monica went through a lot and it took a lot of bravery to make the changes she did in her life. She made a goal to lose significant weight (albeit not for good reasons) and she did it. She gave up happy relationships because they weren't going to make her happy long-term. And when all hope seemed lost about being a mother (the one thing she wanted most), she perservered and ended up coming home with two children instead of one. Her ferocity and her tenacity are the reasons I place her in Gryffindor.

Ross Geller - Ravenclaw
He's the stereotypical Ravenclaw, so I don't think there's much discussion on this. He's intellectual. He likes to debate. Research, knowledge, and education are always at the forefront of his mind (except maybe being on a break). Other than his on and off obsession with Rachel (and who she's dating at a given time), lectures, learning, and intellect were his top priorities. Even down to being a grammar nazi.

Rachel Green - Slytherin
She ran off from her first wedding to make a name for herself. She spent the next ten years following her professional passions. It was slow going for her, but she never gave up. Her ambition eventually led her across the ocean to work in France (until she got off the plane). We never found out what happened to her after she chose Ross over her career, but because of her passion and ambition, you can bet she got a new job in fashion and worked her way back up again. Because of that unyielding ambition, I'm putting her in Slytherin.

Joey Tribbiani - Hufflepuff
Loyalty, kindness, and true are three adjectives used to describe Hufflepuffs. Whether we're talking about Joey's instinct to talk to Ross before he crosses any (further) lines with Rachel or how he was willing to forgive Chandler after Kathy cheated with him. He's a bit of an oddball in other regards, but his friends always came first at his core. Even when it came down to dancing with Treager to help out Monica and Rachel, he went above and beyond for all of them. That's why I'm proud to have Joey in Hufflepuff with me.

Phoebe Buffay - Ravenclaw
Like Chandler, at a passing glance Phoebe would appear to be a Hufflepuff. However, she's too much like Luna Lovegood for me to pass this up. I dug a little deeper into what it means to be a Ravenclaw and I was reminded that Ravenclaw (in addition to intelligence and wit) is also known for creativity, originality, and individuality. Luna and Phoebe both exhibit those qualities in everything they do. I mean, how creative do you have to be to write "Smelly Cat"? Genius! Also between the Nargals and the guitar playing, I don't think we have a more original duo. So naturally Phoebe belongs in Ravenclaw.

Where would you sort each of the main Friends? Any other "Friends" characters you feel strongly about sorting? Mike "Crap Bag" Hannigan? The mustached Richard? Monica's mom?

Friday, May 3, 2019

Meeting Royalty of the House of Mouse at Salt Lake City Spring FanX

(Guest Post by David T)

I was a teenager when Disney’s Aladdin and Pocahontas premiered in theaters in 1992 and 1995. As an avid fan of Walt Disney feature animation at that time, I learned who animated and voiced each character, particularly the heroes and heroines (the female leads who would later comprise the Disney Princess franchise). I knew that Aladdin was voiced by Scott Weinger with Brad Kane singing for him; that Linda Larkin and Lea Salonga spoke and sang for Jasmine; and that Pocahontas’ speaking and singing vocals were provided by Irene Bedard and Judy Kuhn.
As I grew older, I wondered what the women and men were like behind their iconic characters. I imagined what it’d be like to meet them in person, but never believing I would. Well, my dreaming became a reality when I had the pleasure of meeting Pocahontas (Irene Bedard), Aladdin (Scott Weinger), and Jasmine (Linda Larkin) at Salt Lake City Spring FanX two weeks ago.

Irene Bedard (Pocahontas):
Even though I was excited to meet all three actors, I was also very nervous. So I mustered the courage and met Irene Bedard first.

Irene reminded of Pocahontas. Like the titular animated character, Miss Bedard was dignified, and as I spoke with her, I could tell she loved and was proud of her Native American heritage. At the same time, Irene was warm and engaging. She actively listened as I shared my love for Pocahontas, and laughingly smiled when I expressed how excited I was when she joined Scott and Linda for their Aladdin panel earlier in the day. I took a photo with Irene at her autograph table, and at the conclusion, she expressed the wish that I would enjoy the rest of my day.

Scott Weinger (Aladdin):
Meeting Irene Bedard gave me the confidence to meet Scott Weinger. As I was waiting to meet him, I heard Mr. Weinger say to a small group of people meeting him that he wouldn’t be on Dancing with the Stars like his Full House/Fuller House co-stars Candace Cameron Bure and Jodie Sweetin. Listening to him, it hit me that I was meeting the guy who played Steve Hale (DJ Tanner Fuller’s boyfriend) and the voice of Aladdin.

My interaction with Scott was brief. I introduced myself to him, shook his hand, and got a selfie. After the picture, Scott told me that he was enjoying himself at FanX, and then we parted.

Linda Larkin (Jasmine):
After meeting Irene and Scott, I was finally ready to meet Linda Larkin, with whom I was most nervous about interacting.

Meeting Linda Larkin was a Dream Come True! She was very friendly and welcoming when I met her. When I took my picture with her, I asked Linda to hold Rajah (the Funko I brought), and she was enthusiastic to do so. I told Miss Larkin that Jasmine is one of my favorite Disney Princesses. I shared that I immediately related to the Princess of Agrabah the first time I saw her on the big screen. I also expressed to Linda how excited I was to hear her as Jasmine in the famous Disney Princess scene in Wreck-It Ralph 2. At the end, Linda shook my hand and thanked me for coming, and I expressed my pleasure at meeting her. After meeting each of them, I thanked Linda, Scott, and Irene for coming to FanX. I expressed the hope that they would have a wonderful time while they were there, which they seemed to appreciate.

In the last two years at FanX, I have met Jodi Benson (Ariel), Christopher Daniel Barnes (Prince Eric), Paige O’Hara (Belle), and now Irene Bedard (Pocahontas), Scott Weinger (Aladdin), and Linda Larkin (Jasmine). Each has been a nerve wracking yet memorable experience. It has truly been a Dream Come True to meet face to face with the actors who brought to life the iconic and treasured Disney Princes and Princesses of my childhood and teenage years. I hope FanX continues to invite the voices behind the animated royalty of the House of Mouse, and I eagerly await to see who I’ll meet next.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

8 Hours at FanX

I've lost track of how many Salt Lake Comic Con/Fanx events I've been to, but this is the first time I've neglected to take time off work for the event (Disney World kind of takes priority). As a result, I had to make the most of only 8 hours at FanX this weekend. So here's what I learned from the shortened time at FanX.

Plan Ahead
FanX put its panel and celebrity schedules out in advance. So I made sure to look ahead to see which events I wanted to hit at FanX, so that I wouldn't waste any time when I was at the Salt Palace. I also over-plan, putting more panels on my plans than I actually care about attending. By the time the panel actually comes, I tend to disregard half of them.

Give Yourself Extra Time
Half the fun of FanX for me is the vendor floor and the cosplay. Despite the limited time, I left plenty of extra time to wander the vendor floor and people watch. It's always better to over-plan for the amount of time you'll need between events and have extra than to not have enough.

Take Breaks
That much walking around a concrete floor will almost inevitably hurt your feet, regardless of the type of shoes you're wearing. I felt apprehensive of taking breaks during this Con, because I knew my time would be short. However, there's no use wearing yourself out (especially if you're introverted like me), just to spend extra on the floor.

You're not going to get to do everything every Con. Especially if you're going just for a day or for a few hours, some things will get cut. I missed the Tom Felton panel, but made it to the Aladdin panel. I didn't make it to any photo ops (because of lack of money mostly, but time would have also been a factor), but I made it early to three panels to get a good seat each time.

What was your favorite part of FanX? Which celebrities would you like to make an appearance?

Monday, April 15, 2019

More Cosplaying on a Budget

Three years ago I did a post for cosplaying on a budget. This year, since my wife and I are saving our money for Disney World in June (#priorities), we don't have the money to spend on a new costume, so I've had to refresh my mind of how to make awesome cosplays with little/no money. And with FanX this week, I figured I'd share my thoughts.

Bright/Accurate Colors -- Getting the colors right is a big deal. I needed the right shade of red for my Mario costume (it had to match the hat) and the right color hat for Russell. This is especially true for bright colors. Dull colors like Wreck-It Ralph’s overalls weren’t a big deal for me, but having the wrong shade of red for Mario will affect whether people will recognize me or not.

Accessories/Props -- Props and accessories can make or break the costume. Even if the rest of my costume is pretty bland, if I have my Captain America shield, people can assume I’m some variation of Cap. Same thing with Perry the Platypus; even if I don’t have my hair dyed, if I have the right red shirt and Perry the Platypus, you can tell I’m supposed to be Phineas.

Use What You Have -- Some of my favorite cosplays have come straight out of my closet. My Wreck-It Ralph cosplay was 100% used materials. I had the overalls from my Mario costume and I had the shirts I needed in my closet. That costume took maybe 10 minutes prep time. Especially taking into account the above tips (colors and props) this can make cosplay nearly free.

Keep it Simple and Build Up -- Not every costume has to be elaborate. Start with what you have. A t-shirt from that outfit, a prop from Disney Store on sale, and an item from an old costume. Sometimes cosplays can start out a little bit bare-bones, but bringing them together over time can be just as rewarding as a fancy costume all put together

Any other tips you’d give for someone starting out with cosplay? What’s worked for you when you’ve been on a budget?

Monday, April 8, 2019

Unpopular Opinions: Harry Potter

Not to get political, but like most geeks I have some very strong opinions on some of my favorite fandoms. This problem would have never happened 30 years ago, but now with the internet and social media, it happens all the time. Everyone has an opinion nowadays and some of them are basically geek blasphemy.

Snape's Obsession with Lily
The first one I want to address is probably my biggest Harry Potter pet peeve. From “Always” to the doe patronus, I have issues with Snape’s obsession with Lily Evans Potter. I have no doubt that he loved her and that his childhood crush was beautiful. However, when he picked between the Death Eaters and the girl he liked. He made his choice. Later when she married James, he still carried a torch for her. Not going to assume it’d be easy for him to get over her, but he stayed in love with her for 20ish years after the fact. Sorry, but if I found out that a childhood friend of my wife was in love with her 20 years out of high school, I’d find it creepy.

Bonnie Wright wasn't a bad Ginny
I didn’t even know it until after the Harry Potter movie series was completed, but apparently there’s some hate on Bonnie Wright as Ginny. I had absolutely no problem with her as Ginny. If anything, I have problems with how she was written. I feel like Ginny had a much bigger role in the books. She was a side character in the first four books, but she was present and she had a purpose. And then with the DA in “Order of the Phoenix” and dating Harry in “Half-Blood Prince”, she was meant to have a bigger role. Instead she was shown as just another DA member until the attack on the Ministry and she was basically invisible to Harry until they started making out.

“The Cursed Child” is basically Fan Fiction
I know JK Rowling technically signed off on this play, but I take issue with it still. To be fair, I haven’t read it or seen it. To also be fair, nothing I’ve read makes me want to read or see it. Apart from the fact that it wasn’t actually done (or commissioned) by JK Rowling, the type of time travel it exhibits is in direct contradiction to what JK Rowling establishes with the Time Turner in “Prisoner of Azkaban”. That’s my big issue. Time travel (wibbly wobbly timey wimey)

Mixed-Houses are NOT a Thing
I don’t know where “Gryffinpuff” and “Slytherclaw” originated, but I have a strong distaste for them. I think they grew out of hatstalls like Harry and Hermione. However, even those difficult cases were still eventually sorted by the Sorting Hat. Let me be clear: Hogwarts has FOUR houses. A student may have traits that overlap with different houses, but the actual house they belong to is ONE SINGLE HOUSE: Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, or Slytherin. There is no Divergent house in Hogwarts.

Time Turner COULD NOT Save the Dead
How many memes take a poke at the fact that the Time Turner was used to “save” Buckbeak and Sirius, but not Harry’s parents? They bug me to no end. If you pay attention to what’s going on in “The Prisoner of Azkaban”, you can see that they’re not changing history, they’re creating it. This goes back to my big problem with “The Cursed Child”. This is book canon, but it’s more explicitly shown in the movie. If Harry and Hermione were changing history by using the Time Turner, then no one would have cast the patronus the first time around. It’s a closed loop. End of story.

Any issues you have with the Harry Potter fandom/universe? Any unpopular confessions bursting to come out?

I’m also working on some more sorting posts. Any fandoms you want sorted?