Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Best games on Steam

Are you on Steam?

No?

Why not?

You don't know what Steam is?

You want to get into Steam, punk?
Steam is one of the best places online to get video games, as the title of the post says. It's an online service that provides classic games, indie games, as well as new releases.


Go sign up for an account. It's okay I'll wait.

Got one? Okay now let me tell you what to play:

Rogue Legacy
Remember playing Mario back in the day? The jumping, beating up Koopas, and the like? Well this is like that only with a Dungeons and Dragons twist. You play a hero trying to get through a castle full of enemies, and if you die, you start over as your son or daughter. Then after that again, and again, generation after generation until you get though the castle. It's incredibly addicting and fun for anyone who loves old platformers and dungeon crawls.
Visceral Cleanup Duty
Have you spent hours playing Doom in junior high? Did you ever stop to think what the guy who came in after with the bucket and mop would have to do to get the place cleaned up again? Well now you can play the janitor cleaning up after a bloody alien encounter. Clean up broken glass, blood stains, and even pieces of former coworkers. It's an OCD dream come true, plus weirdly bonkers fun.

 Project Zomboid
How long can you survive?
How long would you last in a real zombie apocalypse? Project Zomboid is about finding that out. There is no cure. Rescue is not coming. There is no safe zone. All the game is is see how long you last in a world teeming with the undead. This includes finding and improving shelter, finding food, and even managing your own sanity. I've played this game for months and the best I've done is two game weeks. Lame I know. Can you do better?

Civilization 5
Take over the world? Don't mind if I do...
Not everything on my list is indie and made in someone's garage. Civilization has been a standard of video game quality for over a decade. Number five is a pinaccle of the series, an incredible world conquering game where you play as a country from the time where they form a tribe till they enter space. It's one of those games you'll start at in the early evening and won't stop till the sun rises the next morning.

FTL: Faster Than Light
PIGS IN SPACE!!!
Star Trek fan? Firefly fan? Here's the game for you. You're piloting a spaceship. If that isn't cool enough you also have the option to put out fires and defeat intruders by opening the hatches into space. Yeah, it's that involved. You truly feel that you're in space trying to stop an enemy armada. You feel like you're Captain Malcom Reynolds getting through space on Serenity.

Special thanks to Beautimus for letting us use their videos for this post!




Monday, December 15, 2014

Plug for LDStorymakers

I've probably talked about this before (and am too lazy to go check), but every spring for the last few years, I've got to go to a writers conference known as LDStorymakers.

To sum it up in one word: AWESOME!

Obviously, the main target audience usually meets two criteria: LDS and authors/writers. Even though I've been going since 2010, I recognize that I am still not published. But at the same time, I've had the opportunity to meet many great people and learn from awesome names in the writing biz.

But having been around for the past few years, I've had some unique opportunities that I can only say are "right place, right time" kind of situations.

I've made some good friends who have gone on to publish, whether on their own or through a traditional publisher. I've also just made some good friends who have stayed in the same boat as me. And of course, I've met plenty of published authors.

After my first year, I wrote a blog post on my own personal blog, which actually was pretty popular. Seriously, I felt so special having a few hundred hits to that post.

Because of my...whatever...because I go...one time I got this great lesson whilst talking to J. Scott Savage. I told him that I just didn't get why people were my "fans". It just didn't make sense to me. He...well...he pretty much told me off in a way that only he can do without offending someone. But it was an awesome conversation and I became a more confident person because of it.

This past year had its ups and downs. I just wasn't feeling it this year. I was kind of like the Storymakers Grinch, without going out of my way to make anyone else miserable. I was unmotivated and displeased with my writing. Pretty much, just down on my self. Thanks to an awesome class taught by Julie Wright, I actually felt much more motivated.

So...in the end, LDStorymakers = Awesome! Really, it's like going to general conference.


Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Are Trailers coming out too early?

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I was watching the news the other day. They actually announced on a legitimate news station that the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer would be premiering that weekend.

And no, I’m not going to discuss the trailer. The rest of the internet is discussing it go somewhere else if you feel the new lightsaber isn’t up to specs.

What I am going to discuss is that the news took time out to discuss the premiere to a trailer to a movie that won’t be coming out for ANOTHER YEAR! So however excited you are about going back to the galaxy far far away you should probably get comfy cause you’re not going back anytime soon.

When did we let it be the norm to have the film companies tell us everything about the movies before the main cast is born? Marvel and DC have already announced their movie plans for the next decade. Seriously, it’s like 10 or 12 movies announced, some even have plot spoiled. That’s insane!

I get right now advertising for the summer stuff, like Jurassic World’s trailer, but most people only go to the movies for the holidays and for the summer, but when we’re talking a year or more in advance I find it get’s ridiculous. What’s going to happen if The Force Wakes Up From It’s Nap turns out to be an awful movie? How will Disney recover after hyping up a movie for over a year that turns out to give us yet another bad Star Wars movie? And (Knock on wood) what if one of the mains from the Avengers finds himself in a tragic accident and is unable to be in Avengers 2: Rise of the Machines or whatever? Or worse does what Heath Leger did and dies? Can you write an Avengers: Civil War storyline that everyone is looking forward to and have it be good but have Robert Downy Jr get replaced?


 This seems like a very precarious house of cards the film industry is building itself right now, and I for one don’t like it. As both a film geek and a general fanboy geek I don’t want to see my beloved franchises crash Titanic style before my eyes just because Warner Bros. needed to announce their films early and ended up unable to follow through, or ended up putting out some sort of disaster that both the comic book and film industry would have to dig themselves out of. 

Maybe I'm just an extremest. Maybe Star Wars The Force Rolls Over will rekindle my nearly extinguished love of the franchise. I don't know. All I know is that for now I'm going to keep my excitement on hold until we get closer to the actual films and not let rumors and teases get me hyped up for something that hasn't even begun casting yet. 

-JOE

Monday, December 1, 2014

Not-so-Christmas Carols

Thanksgiving has come and gone. I got to play football with my ward Thanksgiving morning. I played a little too hard, I guess.

Thankfully it's just a really bad sprain and my team won. Well worth it. But any grammar and spelling errors are attributed to my injury. Honestly, can't even bend it.

Now that Thanksgiving is over--and let's face it, the retailers have been trying to get us to think ahead since mid-October--it's time to talk about Christmas. 

One thing that a lot of people love at Christmastime are the carols/hymns/songs that are sung. And I am of course, no different. But one of the things that's really bugged me over the last few years are the songs that really have no Christmas-base whatsoever. And then, as I've looked at some things, I've realized a lot of our popular songs are not Christmas-related at all. 

Note, when I say Christmas-related I'm referring to songs that refer to/mention Christ's birth, Santa Claus, or Christmas day itself. Also, if it's in a Christmas movie, it gets a pass. So here's a list of culpable songs posing as Christmas Carols. (Not all-inclusive, of course.)


Jingle Bells:

What? Jingle Bells is like the quintessential Christmas Carol, T.J., how dare you! Have you read the lyrics? It's a funny story about a sleigh ride. It was originally written as a Thanksgiving song. (Yeah, I'm going off of Wikipedia, but I intend to research these further.) 

Winter Wonderland: 

Let's look at the first word in this title: Winter. When is winter? It's from late December through late March. The majority of winter's season takes place after Christmas. And the most wintry time frame seems to be from early-mid January through mid-February. You can thank Perry Como for this having been added to Christmas albums for the last 60+ years.

Let it Snow: 

What a nice romantic song. "I really want to stay with you, so I'll use the weather as an excuse." But....again, wouldn't that imply bad weather? My point was made earlier.

Sleigh Ride:


It's a nice song. I honestly love its up-beat tempo and it's fun tune. But..again...do bells and sleighs really mean Christmas? No, they mean "WATCH OUT! WE'RE DRIVING THROUGH SNOW!" I just don't get how snow equals Christmas when so many of us agree with  Bing Crosby and are just dreaming of a white Christmas.






My Favorite Things:

I do not recall this being a Christmas song while I grew up in So Cal. But when I got to Utah, apparently Julie Andrews' Sound of Music "hit" is used as a Christmas song....because....huh? My wife tried to explain that it's because there are brown paper packages tied up in string....um....that's a UPS package, not a Christmas present, right? Look at Julie's face. I'd meme this to "Why is this song on at Christmastime? 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

An Attitude of Gratitude

 Thanksgiving is a celebration that first came into being in 1621 when the Pilgrims held a feast to express gratitude for their first harvest in the New World, that was possible in large part due to the help of the Native Americans of the Wampanoag tribe, who taught them how to catch eel and grow corn.
The First Thanksgiving 1621 by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris

George Washington declared a national day of Thanksgiving in 1789, and in 1863, during the midst of the American Civil War, Abraham Lincoln declared a day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens,” Thanksgiving has been celebrated as a national holiday in the United States every year since.
Freedom From Want by Norman Rockwell

The idea of Thanksgiving is also something that fits well into LDS beliefs. As our Father in Heaven has blessed us with all that we have, we have been asked to express our gratitude to Him.

Pres. Dieter F. Uchtdorf has said, “Our loving Heavenly Father knows that choosing to develop a spirit of gratitude will bring us true joy and great happiness.”

Expressing thanks, whether to our Father in Heaven or to others, not only shows our gratitude, but is key to bringing us happiness.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving, may we have an attitude of gratitude and find lasting joy and happiness.
Thanksgiving Wishes from the Justice League

From all of us at Mormon Geeks, have a Happy Thanksgiving!

And just to add a little more geekiness to this post, here are some parodies of Norman Rockwell's classic painting, "Freedom From Want."




Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Sadie Robertson & Mark Ballas Super Mario Dance



Please enjoy this video of Sadie Robertson and Mark Ballas dancing to the Super Mario theme for their freestyle on Dancing with the Stars last night. Seriously, it is both the cutest and coolest thing I've ever seen on the show. Mark is a true geek for choreographing this.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Review: Doctor Who Series 8

This past Saturday was the first without a new Doctor Who episode since August. It's okay, I'm crying about it too.
The good news is, I'm gonna review the 8th series for you here. Its ups, its downs, its good moments, its annoying ones.

But first, let's give River a moment:


So, now that you've been warned of spoilers, let's start at the beginning of the series.

Many Doctor Who fans had been waiting for over 8 months for a new episode since The Time of the Doctor aired Christmas 2013. But since my wife and I began watching Doctor Who 1/1/2014 and got to The Time of the Doctor in July, we only had a month to wait.

So, we return to Victorian England to see Strax, Jenny, and Vastra help Clara transition from Matt Smith's really young Doctor to Peter Capaldi's....let's just say he's older. Deep Breath, though a little lengthy, was a very interesting episode. It brought in the series villain, some woman named Missy. For a return to the series with a brand new Doctor, it was well-done in my opinion. it gave us some insight to the Doctor trying to understand who he is. It brought us the second time a companion has had to deal with a new Doctor in the modern series. (Which to be fair is the 2nd of 3 possibilities.) And of course, it brought us the return of many-a-fan's favorite trio of Vastra, Jenny, and Strax. Strax of course made the episode completely enjoyable with his interactions with Clara.

I could probably talk about Deep Breath for a whole blog post or two. But the series did continue on with some decent episodes. Into the Dalek brought us some of our new Doctor's antics and his kindness toward his greatest enemy. Although, Capaldi's nicknaming this Dalek as Rusty, seemed nothing short of Matt Smith's nickname for the Cyberman head as Handles. Don't know why, but it bothered me.

We once again got to meet a historical figure in Doctor Who. After Dickens, Shakespeare, Churchill, and Van Gogh, we got to meet Robin Hood. I loved how the Doctor didn't believe that Robin Hood was real and tried to prove it. Of course, Clara is smitten with Robin Hood (despite having met Danny in the previous episode.)

After that, you get this season's creep factor episode in Listen. It is one of the most beautifully written episodes with a decent "wow" moment. Having Clara meet a very, very young Doctor and being the cause of the Doctor's curiosity was an awesome moment.

Then you've got the boring trilogy of episodes. Yeah, I liked Time Heist for the Ocean's 11 aspect of it. But it was predictable and felt like they merged a few past episodes into this one because someone had no original idea. And then The Caretaker was okay, but in the end, made no sense. There was no reason for the Doctor to call Clara and Danny out of "parents day". But as I watched it twice, he does point to them both. The only "reasoning" is he knew Danny would look after Clara. Kill the Moon was extremely lackluster, with the exception of the end when Clara utters this awesome line:

Greatness returned in Mummy on the Orient Express. I did not like the similarity between the flying train vs the flying boat from Voyage of the Damned. However, this was a pretty awesome voyage. After Clara's tirade, this being her "swan song" with the Doctor *cough*liar*cough*, this episode had two moments that would make any fan of Doctor Who (both classic and modern) smile. First: the Doctor doesn't say it, but he does in fact offer a Jelly Baby. And then, for the modern fans, as the Mummy goes to attack him, he asks the quintessential question that hearkens back to Eccleston and Rose: Are you my mummy?

Flatline and In the Forest of the Night were both good Clara-centric episodes. Watching this character actually lie to her boyfriend. Flatline was, for me, what Listen actually tried to be. Listen tried to be this season's Blink. But Flatline, I think, topped it. Clara without the Doctor was awesome. And really, Danny has got to be the most forgiving guy out there for how many times Clara has deceived him. In the Forest of the Night, he still doesn't care. I did like how the children were used for this episode, despite the fact that they seem to young compared to the other students at Coal Hill.....

And then we get the two-part finale. It starts with another item on the "Why we hate Moffat" list. The extremely senseless death of Danny Pink. Seriously, did the writers put themselves in a hole? Did someone stop liking Danny? Were we afraid of an Amy/Rory repeat? Blah. Now this gives Clara a reason to die. Veto!

Of course, we got to see who Missy really was. Were you surprised? I wasn't. What? Wait! How? Well...it was the clue she gives earlier in the season. She refers to the Doctor as her boyfriend. As a viewer, I questioned why would she say that. Was she someone from the Doctor's future, like River? Was she River somehow regenerated? No, River was eccentric, not crazy. Could this have been Clara somehow? Or Rose? No, neither one made sense. Romana could have fit the bill, but it just didn't seem right. So...it brought us to the Master. First: come on, her name was Missy! Couldn't connect Missy to Mistress to Master? Second: Who else would be this plotting? Third: Who else had such a history with the Doctor to call him her boyfriend, even jokingly.

So Danny's dead. And then Missy goes on a "bananas" killing spree and kills Osgood! What? Why would you need to do that? This is why Moffat needs to be smacked so hard he'll regenerate. There was absolutely no good reason to kill the character that represented every geek ideal. It'd be like killing Felicity Smoak on Arrow (that better not happen!). Ugh! Thanks a lot Moffat!

And then they make it look like Missy had killed Kate Lethbridge-Stewart. Thanks to her Cyberman-daddy, Kate didn't die. Which of course made no sense to me, but whatever. Time-traveling Cyberman, I suppose. I do think Danny's final act was selfless, despite it hurting our Clara.

But see, my fear going into this series was that Clara would die and leave the show. So thankfully, that didn't happen. And I was really glad that they were able to create a segue into the Christmas episode (for the first time since season 3's Voyage of the Damned.) But, it was a very upsetting finale. It ranks 4th to last for me (barely above Time Heist) on the 8th series. And the only reason it edges that out is because Osgood said "bow ties are cool".

So, that's my review of the 8th Series of Doctor Who.

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.