Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Joe's last rant of the year

Disclaimer: I know that living a homosexual lifestyle goes against the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. However, the church also teaches "Love Thy Neighbor" and in recent years has told members to love and care for our brothers and sisters no matter what their sexual orientation. To me that means that if I have a voice then they should be free to have a voice too, weather that's in politics, choice of partner, or in popular media. Homosexuality has been a marginalized voice in media for centuries, and my offense comes from continuing to portray a group of people inaccurately or like their very being is offensive. Happy new year.

I know that now's the time to look back on 2014 with fondness, maybe remember the good times or make a best and worst top ten list... But this has been sticking in my craw and I can't let the new year come in without getting it off my chest...

Legend of Korra.

You know the drill. Spoilers yeah yeah....

I'm late to the party on this so most LOK fans have already heard of the big controversy so for the uninitiated allow me to explain: At the series finale of Legend of Korra, our hero Korra and her friend Asami decided to go on a vacation together, getting away from all the crazy that's happened in the last five or so years. The last scene shows the two women about to start their new adventure, look at each other, and hold hands.

That's it.

Not so bad, right? Well it gets better.

The writers of the show immediately came out and said that the characters were gay, and that the last scene of them holding hands represented their mutual attraction to each other and that they were about to start their lives together.

That's when I got mad.

Okay, before you think I'm some sort of homophobe, my problem here is NOT the idea that they're gay. If the writers wanted to write gay characters then by all means. Legend of Korra is certainly not for children anyway, so the whole "They're corrupting our kids!" nonsense can be tossed. My problem is that up until the very last scene, and even then, the characters showed no signs of being gay or being attracted to each other. They don't need to be stereotypes, but these two were established as heterosexual. They even dated the same guy at one point. Even the holding hands scene isn't that monumental of a jump. The Golden Girls held hands to show solidarity. Thelma and Louise held hands at the end of their movie to show sisterhood. It's a common practice for women to hold hands in our society. That last scene was vague at best.

This is as bad as when JK Rowling told the press that Dumbledore was gay three months after the final book. Did anyone actually get that vibe? Yes, Dumbledore was unmarried and you never heard of him having an attraction to anyone, but does that mean gay?

My overall problem is that writers telling us about the sexuality of their characters after the final take to me isn't bold or fresh, it's cowardly. If you want to show support, show support! Otherwise, don't say anything. 

-JOE

Monday, December 29, 2014

2014: A Good Year

Ups? Yes. Downs? Yes.

This has been one of the most interesting years. And in all reality, there have been some firsts this year.

I mean, not only did I go to my first con (Fantasy Con), I got to go to 2 cons this year (Yay for Salt Lake Comic Con!) And hopefully I'll get to go to FanX next month (and spend all my time in the artist's alley because, let's be honest, it's just so awesome.)

For me, it seems like this year had two themes: Doctor Who and Batman.


From January through July, my wife and I spent a lot of our time watching the 7 modern seasons (series, whatever) of Doctor Who. Transitioning from Eccleston to Tenant to Smith to Capaldi. And then we spent Augsut-November enjoying(ish) the new season. And then there's all my blog posts about the Doctor as well as the podcast (which we'll get back to in 2015.) And of course, I've taken my new obsession to a different level where I've gone and watched classic Who and have taken on an appreciation for Hartnell, Troughton, and Baker. Jon Pertwee has grown on me and I haven't gotten to Davison, the lesser-liked Baker, and McCoy really. I did watch McGann's film and really appreciate it for what it was.

This year also re-awakened my obsession of my favorite childhood superhero: Batman. I finally got around to watching The Dark Knight Rises earlier this year (loved it, actually). Then I borrowed and read the Hush series from Joe. I also bought myself a Batman keychain. This year, I received 4 Lego Batman sets as well as a tissue box holder my wife made for me, a tumbler, and a dollar store action figure from my daughter for Christmas. And despite it's gruesomeness, I've enjoyed watching Gotham, with Alfred being portrayed by the 3rd Doctor's son, Sean Pertwee. (Oddly enough, I wish he was the current doctor of Capaldi, but his kick-butt style of Alfred is awesome to watch.)

Even though I spent a lot of time on watching my geek obsessions this year, 2014 has had some good lessons in it. I've learned that it's okay to be childlike. There's a little boy in me who has always loved Batman and WWE and it's okay. He doesn't have to suddenly stop appreciating those things because he's older and more mature. It's helped that I have weekly meetings with a Batman-obsessed bishopric.

I've learned that as much as I enjoy numbers and analyzing and what not, I need a creative outlet. Whether it's writing or sketching, I need to be able to do something that requires creativity.

I've learned that I don't have to get over something to move on. The best example of this was when it was my mother's birthday. It was my saddest day of the year, by far. I was able to take a moment to be by myself and speak out to her while tears streamed down my cheeks. Yes, it's been over 12 years since she passed. And even though some years come and go without issue, this year just seemed to be more difficult on me. And you know what, that's okay. There's nothing wrong with that. But at the same time, I'm so happy to have had her in my life. And I'm even more happy when my oldest wants to talk about her. There's a special bond that my daughter feels toward the grandmother she's never met in this life. It's beautiful.

So...moving on. This has been a year of ups and downs, like any other year. And like any other year, I hope to appreciate the joys that the ups have given me as well as appreciate the lessons the downs have taught me.

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

No Broken Bridges

Christmas has come. It’s been a wonderful year for myself and for Mormon Geeks. This was the first year we were given press passes for both Fantasy Con and Salt Lake Comic Con. We’ve continued our little blog with a lot of fun commentary and have appreciated all of the input from you, our readers. New Years is now coming up and I’m very excited for 2015. I’ll be in the last semester before my senior year and can’t wait to see what the future has in store for me and for my favorite blog. It is during New Years that I get a little extra pensive and think about where I’m at and what has happened in my life. My grandmother on the Larsen side once told me she hated the song Auld Lang Syne. “No one ever knows the lyrics. The tune is always sung poorly. And no one even knows what it means.” At the time, I didn’t even know the song she was talking about and had to look it up. When I did I thought to myself, “Oh, that song.” I have to agree with her. The few times this has been sung at parties it’s usually been poorly played, poorly sung, and the lyrics are usually mumbled. Still, there is something about the song that resonated with me. It wasn’t until I heard it by Dougie Maclean that I felt I heard the song as it was intended.
You may watch this with the lyrics and think, “That is very nice but I still don’t know what the lyrics mean.” Well, allow me to provide an English translation.
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?

Should old acquaintance be forgot,

And times long past.

Chorus
And for times long past, my dear
For times long past,

We'll take a cup of kindness yet,

For times long past

And surely youll buy your pint-jug!

And surely I'll buy mine!

And we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
For times long past.
Chorus

We two have run about the hills
And pulled the daisies fine;
But we've wandered manys the weary foot
Since times long past.
Chorus

We two have paddled in the stream,

From morning sun till dine;

But seas between us broad have roared

Since times long past.

Chorus

And there's a hand, my trusty friend!
And give us a hand of yours!
And we'll take a deep draught of good-will

For times long past.

Chorus
The song is about loss and restoration in friendship. Sometimes we get busy with our lives, or have human errors, or sometimes we die. Auld lang syne is about reconnecting and forgiveness. It’s recognizing, if nothing else, what was once shared even if it isn’t shared again. The narrator talks about drinks that he shares with his friend. They both bought their own drinks. One didn’t buy for the other. To me, this says that there is still bad blood between them or a change in their friendship. Despite that, they both drink to the memory of what they shared. They respect what was between them even if they have gone separate ways. Social media makes it easy to “reconnect” with friends or even disconnect from them. If we leave our new connection as simply facebook friends than we do ourselves a disservice. Every now and then we should send a message and see how they are doing and how their new baby is. I’ve reconnected with long lost friends and though our friendship may be different now, we celebrated what we once shared. I’ve also blocked and been blocked by friends before. In some cases, it was to take care of myself. In others, it was my pride. I imagine it must have been the case for others as well. I’ve lost a lot of friends over the years. In some situations it was a good thing and wasn’t a healthy friendship. After one or two cry sessions, they were pretty easy to get over. I mean, I lost an unhealthy “friendship.” That’s a great thing. Not gonna miss something that’s bad for me. The ones that hurt the most are the friendships with meaning and that were healthy. A song like this means something to me because it gives me hope that bad blood can wash away and something new can begin--even if it wasn’t what was before. When I’ve been in these experiences, I’ve wondered if what I did was really the right decision. Was it really kind of me to detach entirely from someone? A block on facebook for me usually meant a block in real life too. Did I really have to do that to take care of myself from people that hurt me or annoyed me? Did those friends really have to do that to me? Being on the receiving end recently caused me to think about how I take care of myself in relation to those around me. It’s helped reinforce a decision I made this year.


I don’t believe in broken bridges. I don’t need to break bridges with someone (ie: never talk to them ever again and close off any way for them to contact me) in order to take care of myself. Every now and then there may be an exception to this rule but generally, I want to make things work and only give up when to not do so would be toxic for me. There is a friend that I have that has a severe bipolar disorder. When he’s hit a manic phase he can say the worst of unkind things. He can be annoying and emotionally volatile. It can be like dealing with a pouty child. When he’s depressive he’s self destructive and emotionally enmeshed. I have friends that have blocked him to take care of themselves. I don’t blame them. I still chose to be his friend. I’ve chosen to be his friend even if he’s a bit much sometimes. I may not be the close friend he wants but I’ll always be a friend and will always be the best friend I can possibly be. I may only see him once every two months. I may be careful in being emotionally vulnerable with him. And despite how he is, I still love him. I still look forward to seeing him. It isn’t like with one of my closer friends but that doesn’t take away from how genuine it is. This open door policy has made me a better friend to me. I like who I am because of this. It has taught me patience, charity, and a greater power to forgive. It gives me confidence knowing that I take care of myself and also love others unconditionally. It gives me hope that what was lost may someday be restored. It does take work to rebuild a broken bridge. It may take time, patience, and humility. It may not even necessarily be easier if one side still stands. Despite all this, I know it is worth it. I know that I am worth it. I hope we take New Years to reconnect with old friends we haven’t seen in a while. I hope we forgive others and find closure in any losses we may have experienced. I know that if we do this we will be blessed. Let’s start this new year right. Happy New Year
-Stephen

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Memories

 I have a lot of memories of Christmas from over the years. As a child, I remember the many Christmas movies that would be broadcast on TV that time of year, as well as all of my favorite TV shows that had Christmas specials.

The Island of Misfit Toys from "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer"
As a child, I remember watching the claymation movies, "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" (who could forget the Island of Misfit Toys?). Then there were Christmas specials for pretty much every children's franchise out there, from Garfield, to Disney, to the Muppets, to Garfield, to Alvin and the Chipmunks, to He-Man and She-Ra to Charlie Brown.

A Scene from Disney's "Mickey's Christmas Carol"
Then there were the family traditions. When I was younger, I had an uncle that was a forest ranger that would help arrange every year for those in the family to get permits to cut down an evergreen for Christmas. And after we no longer were able to do that, we would go out to one of the many vendors to buy a Christmas tree.

Memories of going into the mountains to find a Christmas Tree
There was also the family Christmas party that my grandparents hosted every year. When I was younger, Santa Claus would come, and we'd each have an opportunity to tell him what we wanted for Christmas. And there was also the gift exchanges with my cousins and just getting together to spend time as an extended family.

Santa Claus
And then there were also the Christmas Eve traditions. It became a family tradition to have soup and scones on Christmas Eve. We would also each receive a Christmas present from our parents, a Christmas ornament (mine were frequently related to Star Trek, Star Wars or superheroes), then my dad would read "The Night Before Christmas" to us and we'd leave cookies and a glass of milk out for Santa Claus before going to bed.

Reading "The Night Before Christmas" has long been one of my family's Christmas traditions
Many of these traditions have either morphed or been passed on to the next generation. My parents now host a family Christmas party every year. My brothers and sisters and I do a gift exchange, as do my nieces and nephews with each other. And although my dad no longer reads "The Night Before Christmas" now that all of the kids are grown up, I still spend the night at my parents' home on Christmas Eve and spend Christmas Day with my family.

But even with all of these traditions and memories, the ones that stick out are those that reminded us of the reason for the season. I remember ward Christmas parties that frequently had stories of the Nativity read or reenacted, as well the Christmas program in sacrament meeting every year (and as I got older, I would frequently participate in the ward choir for the Christmas program).

Mary and Joseph with the Christ Child
When I was a child, we had the Living Scriptures animated videos, and I remember watching the episode on the birth of Christ every year. As a family, we would visit Temple Square every year to see the Christmas lights, the life sized Nativity and the Christus.

The Christus Statue at Temple Square
And another family tradition that still persists is reading the account of Christ's birth in the New Testament and the Book of Mormon.

Even though many of my memories around Christmas involve gifts and family, I have become aware that all of it ties back to Christ. We give gifts as a reminder of the gift of a Savior that our Heavenly Father sent to us with the birth of Jesus Christ. The time we spend with family is a reminder that because of Christ we have the opportunity to be with our families for eternity.

Jesus Christ
It is no secret that Christmas has become commercialized, particularly in recent years. I am grateful for the traditions that bring Christ back to Christmas, that remind us that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).


As we celebrate the birth of the Savior, all of us at Mormon Geeks would like to wish you a Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Why I Celebrate Christmas

For the past couple of months (you know, since 2 days before Halloween when Wal-mart and Costco start shoving Christmas down our throats), I've been contemplating why I celebrate Christmas in the fashion that I do.

And if you haven't noticed, I love lists. This one, will be more highlights than an order. So...anyway, here's this list. I may or may not check it twice. There's only three items, so doubtful.


Tradition: If you know me well enough, you will know that I have a strong Jewish ancestry. And if you've seen Fiddler on the Roof (my favorite musical), then you'll see where this is going. Tradition is why we do things sometimes. It's the "that's the way we've always done it" mentality. In a work place, most of the time, it's the wrong answer. However, in a home setting, tradition can be a powerful thing. Tradition is a memory maker. I've heard the question "what are some traditions you have."

Growing up, our tradition was Santa Claus brought our gifts. Some gifts would gather at the bottom of the tree leading up to Christmas and then bam! Christmas morning the gifts were there. My parents, to be honest, weren't tradition-followers. One year, my parents didn't feel like wrapping (can't recall if it was a lack of time or a lack of money for wrapping paper or what), so they just put everything in a "spot" where my brothers and I went to on Christmas morning. Despite the lack of "traditions", buying presents and giving them out on Christmas day is the tradition I uphold.

Smiles: There's nothing like seeing the smiles on children's faces. The joy at just opening presents and then the happiness that a simple toy or gift can bring. Yeah, we can do that for birthdays. But it's the one day in the year when we give gifts to all my children. And thus, the smiles multiplies.

Also, the look on my wife's face brings me just as much (if not more) joy. So the joy that is spread on Christmas is just such a wonderful feeling. I love being able to give gifts to people that they can use and that they just want/love. It's a tradition that I have had for a long time.

Spirit: What's the true meaning of Christmas? In all honesty, who knows. Sheldon Cooper is right. Christmas was a way to get pagans to adopt a Christian thought process. Saturnalia and Yule were given Christian adjustments. Santa Claus looks the way he does because Coca-Cola said so. Black Friday actually only fell on a Friday and other sales weren't as common throughout the season. I mean, so many things have changed who really knows what the "Christmas spirit" is.

However, as one who associates Christmas with the birth of Christ, it is the spirit of giving and forgiving. Christ was born to ultimately be a sacrifice of mankind. He is a gift from God to rescue and save. He healed and he gave. So even though I believe his birthday is not December 25th, I do believe that celebrating it at the coldest time of year is a wonderful thing.

Love and joy and peace and all the sappy things that make a cheesy Hallmark movie go into this season. And you know what, I'm not gonna apologize for that. That is what Christmas is about. It's about Scrooge and the Grinch asking for forgiveness and learning to give instead of taking. It's about caring about others as best we can. It's about being selfless.

Whatever the holiday once was, this is how I view it today. Sadly, so many people have tainted views that joy and peace and love are unattainable emotions. Other than wishing to slap them (cause that's peaceful), I want to let them know that these feelings are most often felt when given.

So no matter who you are and where you may be, I challenge you all to give joy, peace, and love to someone this week (and every week, every day for that matter). It just might bring those things to you.

Merry Christmas to all. And to all a good night.

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

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.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Problem with Legend of Korra

It's been a while since I've had a good rant, so here we go.

The other night I'm sitting with my lovely wife catching up on our stories when we decide to catch the latest episode of Legend of Korra. I go to Nick.com, find the episode and we sit there hoping that Toff shows back up to beat everyone into line.

Then it froze.

The video froze so I did what any tech savvy millennial would do and tried to move the little time bar to a different location, when I did that the video skipped to the end credits. Any attempt to get back to our place would send us back to the ending, so I did the next thing a computer savant would and hit refresh. This worked but it meant I had to sit through another five or six commercials for kids toys again.

This happened four times.

On the third time, between my incoherent growling and threats to my computer, I noticed something that sent me over the edge: The video would only malfunction during the show, never during the commercials. We had watched Once Upon A Time on ABC.com before this incident and it had run perfectly fine so I decided it wasn't my computer, it was Nick.com. I'm usually not a conspiracy nut but if there was a way to make people watch these stupid commercials over and over this was the way to do it.

Usually I don't mind commercials but let me explain what these were for: Toys. Toys for children around the age of twelve. Now I don't have kids. I know kids, I teach kids, but I'm probably not going to be buying them a lot of toys this year, but I don't know any kids who watch Legend of Korra. I'm not even sure I know any parents who would let their kids watch Legend of Korra. Avatar the Last Airbender sure, that had the same mix of kid humor and adult-ish drama to be like a John Bluth movie from the 80's, but Legend of Korra is full of political intrigue, the complexities of relationships, and personal growth. It's basically a PG-rated Game of Thrones, and I just don't see a lot of kids getting into it.

And therein is my problem: I am a grown man with no children trying to watch a mature, well written television series, but because the show happens to be animated I'm treated like my entire goal in life is to get a Happy Meal.

Listen Nick, the corporate entity that you are, I get that you're trying to swing for the elementary school demographic. Fine. But could you please move Korra off your bloated website that's overrun with these stupid videos, ads, and games, all designed to milk lunch money, and put it on another site with maybe some respectability so that the thing can at least run well enough that I can catch my show without being explained the highlights of owning a Sponge Bob Lego set? Maybe just maybe if you actually cater to an audience that has complete control over their disposable income instead of limited control obtained through crying you may find yourselves with a whole new cash cow and you can finally take Sponge Bob out behind the tool shed and put two in his head. Believe me it works, because I've spent a couple hundred dollars on Game of Thrones and Walking Dead merchandise in my life alone and I didn't have to beg my mother for a dime of it.

Rant completed, go back about your day.
-JOE