Friday, December 8, 2023

Kingdom Hearts: Back Cover


The purpose of this post is to help you understand what happened during the events of Kingdom Hearts: Back Cover (KHBC). After I watched this movie I watched game plays of the story. Thank you damo279 for your help. I think I better understand the events that took place before the first keyblade war. For those of you that may not know before Sora was born there was a keyblade war and we see the remains of the battle in KH Birth by Sleep. This story is about the events that took place before it began. In this post I am going to explain the main storyline that will probably be important in the later games. 

In the movie there are seven characters that we should know about. One of them being the Master of Masters who chose six other masters (Ira, Ava, Invi, Aced, Gula, and Luxu) who he deemed worthy to be Masters. The Master of Masters wears Organization XIII robes and covers his face, so maybe it is a face we recognize. Each master was given a role from the Master of Masters. Five of the chosen are in charge of a different union, that should never be mixed together, and given the Book of Prophecies while the six, Luxu, who dresses like the Master of Masters didn’t get the book but gets the Gazing Eye Keyblade, the same keyblade that Xehanort uses (Which might be how Xehanort see's in the future or he has a copy of the Book of Prophecies) and a Black Box that he is never supposed to open. 


We don’t know what is in the box. Luxu asks what’s in the box, but the audience doesn’t know. He was surprised by the Master of Masters' answer. 

Luxu is also instructed to find a worthy keyblade wielder and pass the Gazing Eye Keyblade, that literally has the Master of Masters eye so he can see future generations and write it in the present in the book of prophecies.  He also creates a companion, Chirthy, for all keyblade wielders. I am not sure if this is important, but if it is at least I mentioned it. 

To note the Master of Masters knows the future and his goal is create a world where Darkness doesn’t exist. However, to get to the timeline The Keyblade War must happen. He accepts this for the future of the universe. 


He tells his students that there will be a Keyblade War and it is inevitable and that it will happen after he dies/disappears. Ira, one of the five given the role of leader, asks to bring members into the union and teach people to wield keyblades so they can defend themselves and possible evade the war. The Master of Masters agrees and the 5 masters have unions gain followers for each union. 


During the Master of Masters absence the masters start to believe that one of them is a traitor and like human nature they start pointing fingers with each other. Instead of being unified they divide and focus on benefiting their own union. Which eventually starts the keyblade war. 

While speculations on who the traitor occurs, Ava continues in her role to recruit keyblade wielders from different unions to the Dandelions, a group that will survive the Keyblade War. Five of the Dandelions were called to be union leaders like the current five masters and continue on raising new keyblade wielders so there is always light to fight against the darkness. 

When the Keyblade war finally occurs the Dandelions survive while the rest die out. What used to be one land divided into many worlds because of this war. The five masters die, I assume, with their union members. Their keyblades thrust into the ground from the fallen wielders, like an apocalypse. Their only space in this sacred land is in the shape of χ. This is where the finale for KH Birth by Sleep took place. 

Their is important information I probably skipped, but since I don't know what the future games have in store I am just telling what I think will be important for the future installments. So far, this games story as confused me the most, but I think I understand the lore to continue on. What Kingdom Hearts game got you lost the most? 


Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Community Christmas Episodes Ranked


In preparing for this week’s podcast episode and this blog post, I ended up watching all four of the Community Christmas episodes. First time I’ve done it since randomly watching them a couple years ago, while catching up with a friend. So like I did with the Friends Thanksgiving episodes, here’s my ranking for Christmases at Greendale Community College.

4. Intro to Knots

I tried really hard to like this episode so that Season 4 didn’t end up at the bottom of my list. But despite the setting of the study group’s Christmas party, the politics involved in Cornwallis’s antics were distracting from any holiday mood or theme. It was like the episode with the purple pen, but with Christmas presents. Also, this one kind of triggers memories of Annie Edisons I knew in college who argued for 100% instead of being pleased with their 90% grade; who needs some useless PT school flashbacks?

3. Regional Holiday Music

I know this episode was meant to be cringy, but if it weren’t for the meh-ness of “Intro to Knots” I think this one would have been my last favorite Christmas episode. As it stands, this episode was just kind of weird, especially Annie's song (I know they were all supposed to appear brainwashed, but she just appeared stupid, to say the least). Maybe if I’d watched and/or made fun of Glee I’d have felt differently, but I just had a hard time with this one. That being said, this episode did give us a couple really good lines like “What are regionals? They’re this close!” And of course the classic meme fodder line, “Oh, Britta’s in this?”

2. Comparative Religion

This is where my ranking of Christmas episodes finally deviates from the season order. First off, I still enjoyed this episode (I previously wrote about it in 2019). While recording this week’s podcast episode, we kind of touched on why I love and hate this episode. Honestly, it all comes down to Shirley. Having been a missionary in the culturally diverse Canada Toronto Mission, and living in the equally diverse Dallas/Fort Worth area now, I’ve been exposed to other cultures and religions in a way that I’ve grown to love others’ traditions and even had some religious envy on how their beliefs function compared to stereotypical Christianity. So seeing Shirley judge her friends for how they treated “Christmas” (read: Shirley’s December 10th holiday party) really bugged me. If for no other reason, it bugged me that Shirley assumed her study group was full of Christians. I wouldn’t even assume that living in the south. 

1. Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas

TJ and I talked about this episode in depth during our recent podcast episode, as well as both of us writing about it previously (me in 2017 and TJ last year). But what I love about this episode is that it shows how Christmas can mean different things to different people. Yes, of course I believe in celebrating the birth of Christ at this time of year. However, Christmas has become more than a religious holiday, as it brings people together regardless of religious beliefs. As Abed articulated, “The meaning of Christmas is that Christmas has meaning.” In many ways, that’s even more appropriate, considering the Savior wasn’t born at the Winter Solstice (as Britta notes). We give this time of year meaning, whatever that meaning is, and I believe that brings the spirit of Christmas (the spirit of Christ) into our homes.

So if you’re only going to watch one Community Christmas episode, you have my preferences (in case you care, here’s TJ’s rankings: season 2, season 3, season 1, season 4). Until our next Community and/or Christmas themed content… CHRISTMAS PTERODACTYL!  

Monday, December 4, 2023

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Volunteering at Dragonsteel 2023

(Guest post by K. David Murdock)

When someone asked me what the Dragonsteel convention was, I answered—honestly—that it was a convention celebrating the release of Brandon Sanderson’s latest novel. However, that was just the dictionary definition. It was that, and so much more.

The first I heard of this Sanderson themed convention was in 2022, with the release of The Lost Metal, the final installation in the Mistborn Era Two series. My friend, who lives in Idaho, had bought extra tickets which she no longer needed, and offered to sell one to me, which encouraged me to come along.

I dressed up as Wax for the release party, and I explored all the convention had to offer. There were authors, exhibits, merchants, panels, Q&A’s, signings, games, and more. I had such a wonderful time that at the end of Dragonsteel 2022 I took the opportunity to get involved as a volunteer for this year’s convention.

Dragonsteel 2023 launched at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City from November 20th to the 21st, 2023, marking the official release of Defiant, the final book in the Skyward series. The official release happened on Monday night, but there was plenty at the convention to keep even the most casual fan of Sanderson’s works engaged. There were panels on writing, art, publication, videogames, and several on Sanderson’s works and the Cosmere he created. The panels included authors, publishers, artists, literary agents, members of Sanderson’s team, podcasters, and even the big man himself. Christopher Paolini (who I met in passing and got to shake his hand) held a book signing for Murtagh, and a few other authors held signings as well.

But for those not content to sit quietly in a florescent-lit room listening to other people talk about Sanderson, there were plenty of other activities. There was an entire room dedicated to crafts, ranging from Doomslug terrariums, to Mistborn metalminds and metal vials, to handmade flight journals, to Soulcasters. “Worldhopper” meetups were organized for fans to get together to discuss the Cosmere and the stories they loved. Cosplay meetups and photoshoots were scheduled as well.

And games. Games galore. The convention game was an immersive hunt across the convention center, part scavenger hunt, part escape room style puzzle solving, themed on Defiant and the Skyward series. There were many other games almost every hour that fans could participate in. D&D one shots, TTRPGs of Mistborn and Stormlight, Witlash (Hoid meets “Quiplash”), rounds of MTG including draft and Commander, KeyForge (is that still a thing?), and Blood on the Clocktower.

In addition to all this, there was a giant hall full of exhibitors, ranging from authors and publishers and booksellers, to artists, content creators, game designers, and merchandise of all varieties (but primarily bookish and nerdy). Dice, jewelry, embroidery, leatherwork, foam Shardblades, a dueling arena with said foam Shardblades, custom coins, a VR room, fights performed by the Salt Lake City Crusaders, custom lightsabers—listing every exhibit would take up this entire post. There was even a “Hoid’s Museum,” showcasing collectibles from across the Cosmere that Hoid (presumably) had collected—and the line was so long I never got the chance to explore it!

I had a particularly fun time talking to all the authors (being an author myself) and bought more books than I probably should have. I procrastinated writing this post by reading The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg. Holmberg, a Utah native, published this extremely well written debut novel almost a decade ago. There is much I could say about it like its unique genre (a cozy fantasy with elements of horror and romance, with a Studio Ghibli feel) or its clever magic system, or how I passed on it a year ago only to snatch it up eagerly last week, but I will content myself with this: it is one of the best novels I have read this year, and one of my new favorites. If you like origami, forbidden magic, Howl’s Moving Castle, turn of the century London, adorable but understated romance, or any combination of the above, I highly encourage you to check out The Paper Magician.

If I had one complaint about this event, it would be that there was too much cool stuff. The Dragonsteel store was vast and full of so much epic merchandise I couldn’t decide on what to get (I eventually settled on a Tress teacup, available on the Dragonsteel merch website while supplies last, #notsponsored). So many panels and games and other events overlapped that I had to be very choosy about what I did. There just wasn’t enough time to do all things I wanted to do. That may, however, be slightly mitigated next year…

The event culminated with Brandon Sanderson getting up on stage before thousands of his fans. He spoke on liminality, and the passage from one season of life into the next. Change can be scary, and hard (isn’t that the understatement of the year?). The Cosmere is on the cusp of great change, with the ending of Mistborn Era Two last year and the end of Stormlight Era One next year. Things are about to shake up, big time.

Dragonsteel itself is changing. Sanderson is bringing more people onto his team, and commissioning authors to help him get stories out that he does not have time for, including Janci Patterson taking the reigns of the next Skyward installation, and Dan Wells taking on an entirely new Cosmere novel. Sanderson also announced a new headquarters for Dragonsteel, “somewhere” in Utah County, where the official offices, bookstore, warehouse, event rooms, etc. will be housed; it will reduce the number of visitors that go to his not-so-secret lair and personal house, as well as be the base of operations for future conventions. Fans are already calling it “Sanderland.” He announced the launch of the leatherbound Words of Radiance, coming soon on BackerKit. And he announced, to the joy of many, that Dragonsteel 2024 will be held on a weekend next year, and span three days instead of two, presumably to accommodate the huge celebration that will surround the release of Stormlight 5.

Dragonsteel 2023 is in the books. The Year of Sanderson is almost at its end. All Secret Projects have been released (have you read them all yet?). I look forward to what the future holds, yet I am also enjoying the anticipation of not knowing what is coming next. After all, Journey Before Destination.


K. David Murdock is a Utah native who spends his time writing stories, daydreaming stories, reading stories, telling stories, and occasionally eating. His first publication, “The Tower on the Shore,” a short fantasy horror story, will release on November 30th, 2023, in UVU’s speculative fiction magazine, Warp and Weave. You can follow his writing updates and inane ramblings on Instagram @kdavidmurdock.

Monday, November 27, 2023

Once's Missed Opportunity: A Christmas Episode

My wife recently finished rewatching Once Upon a Time (we use it as a background show while doing chores and such). I have various opinions about the series—possibly some unpopular ones—about characters, story arcs, relationships, etc. but that’s a topic for another blog post. Today I want to talk about the biggest missed opportunity I took note of during this recent viewing. Why the heck didn’t Once Upon a Time have a Christmas episode?

My first thought was maybe the producers  were trying to evade religion or potentially controversial topics… even though they had no problem alluding to the Last Supper in the Season 6 finale. And there was David the shepherd boy who became king. But even religion aside, Christmas has become such a cultural thing and it’s been secularized for years. They could have avoided the Nativity scene altogether and just gone with the mythology of Santa. 

Even just with Santa Claus, there are so many different Santa stories they could pull from. ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, The Santa Clause, etc. to name a couple. But even if you leave Santa aside for a second, there are countless Christmas classics and specials they could have  pulled from, like Charlie Brown trees or the Grinch. Heck, we already had a Victorian era England in Wonderland and the Jekyll/Hyde story, so why not do an adaptation of A Christmas Carol?

This hypothetical Christmas episode didn’t even need to be Christmas focused exactly either. They had episodes taking place on Halloween and Valentine's Day that had little to do with those holidays. There could have easily been an episode taking place on Christmas (maybe during the Frozen arc would have been appropriate) with references to North Pole magic, Christmas spirits, or Santa Claus without making it a major focus of the episode. Heck, leave the supernatural aside; with all the time jumps and everything, we had at least two or three holiday seasons we skipped over. Why couldn’t we have stopped on one of them? They were filming in Canada in the fall/winter anyway. 

Above all else, if Christmas movies and Christmas specials have taught me anything, all the “Christmas magic" basically plays into Once's themes of family, true love, etc. If “true love” is the most powerful magic of all, Christmas magic would be the most powerful version of “true love” magic. I can just imagine Emma snuggling up with Henry in front of a fire after a Christmas fairytale incident, showing us the importance of being together as a family, even in the midst of holiday chaos. 

I don’t know if a holiday episode even crossed the minds of the Once Upon a Time writers. And there’s a reason they’re TV writers and I’m not, so I’m not here to say I could have done better. But I think this could have been really cool. That being said, even without Once, Disney Plus has plenty of content for the holiday season. And now that Thanksgiving is over, it’s culturally acceptable to watch Christmas movies and listen to Christmas music (I’ve already been doing both for a month), so let’s enjoy the Christmas season, drawing close to our loved ones and away from our wish lists. 

Friday, November 24, 2023

Plots part 1/3: And then . . .


Recently, I watched a video on YouTube from the creatures of South Park, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, giving helpful advice about developing good plots. I personally don’t like South Park, but I thought their advice sounded good and I supported it, but then I realized that there are surprising exceptions where a movie breaks this rule and still does very well in the box office. In this post I will go over their advice and give examples of how true and false their advice is.

In the video, Matt Stone and Trey Parker plot advice is “take the beats of the outline and if the words ‘and then . . .’ belong between those beats . . . you got you something pretty boring. What should happen between every beat that you’ve written down is either the world therefore or but.” 

So basically if you are describing a movie and use the words “and then this happens and then this . . .” that should be a pretty boring movie. Here are two examples of movies that follow "and then" advice, both did well in the box office, but one disappointed me more than the other.

Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker 51% / 86% Rotten Tomatoes (*Spoilers*)

In the movie Klyo Ren has a Sith wayfinder and then find Palpatine alive and then Palpatine shows a massive amount of star destroyers and then tells Klyo to kill Rey. Rey is looking for a Sith wayfinder and goes to Pasaana and then find Lando and then finds a Sith dagger and then Kylo finds her. And then Rey and most of the gang escape and travel to Kijmi to reboot C-3PO’s so he can tell them the location of a wayfinder. And then on a moon in the Endor system Rey realizes the dagger is a map and then she confronts Kylo. And then Kylo is redeemed because his mother died. And then Rey and the gang face Palpatine and then she finds out she is a Palpatine and then he is defeated and then she decides that she is a Skywalker.

I could have kept talking about the plot and kept adding more “and then” statements, but I believe this makes my point clear; that the sequel trilogy has the wrong beats and to me was disappointing.

I personally am tired of Star Wars, and this validated my explanations on why the movie failed and then I recently watched another movie, and I enjoyed it a lot, but like Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker if I took the beats of the movie the narrative follows the “and then” outline. So the question is why is this movie better?

The Super Mario Bros. Movie 59% / 95% Rotten Tomatoes (*Spoilers*)

At the beginning of the movie, Mario and Luigi started a plumbing business that is struggling and then the city got flooded and they try to fix the plumbing problem to gain cliental and then they are sucked into a warp from a pip separating the two brothers. Mario ends up in the Mushroom Kingdom and wants to find his brother and then finds toad and then meets Princess Peach and then trains to rescue his brother and help save the mushroom kingdom. And then goes to Jungle Kingdom and then Mario faces Donkey Kong and wins and then the Jungle kingdom allies with the mushroom kingdom. And then they use go karts to head back to the Mushroom Kingdom and then Bowser’s army ambushes them on Rainbow Road and peach is taken away. And then a wedding happens and Mario crashes it to save Luigi and Peach. And then they go back to Brooklyn and Mario and Lugi face Bowser and win.   

Again, I could have added more plot points increasing the number of “and then” statements to this summary. But the point that I am making is that both movies have the same style of beats. Some of you may like Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker over The Super Mario Bros. Movie. While others like me like the latter more. The reason I like the latter more is because it was supposed to be a fun adventure with light plot points and that is exactly what I got from watching it. I expected the sequel Star Wars trilogy to be more complex having consequences that play into the plot, but that never happened.

When I listened to these creators talking about plot, I agreed with them 100% until I found an exception to their reasoning. I believe that story telling generally does better when there are “but and therefore” in the beats of the summary. However, there are miracles of when plots with “and then” perform well. 

In the next part I will discuss a way of how these movies could have been different if the format supported but and therefore. The final part I will go over one movie that executes this well.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Grateful for Nostalgic Video Games

My late days at work used to mean that I had extra family play time before going to the clinic late. Now that my wife is teaching again (and taking our girls to childcare before school), I ended up with some me-time each week that I'm not used to. In true dad fashion, it's nice to get some chores and to-dos completed without my three-year-old running around "helping" me clean. The goal is to get as much cleaned as I can before allowing myself an hour of video game time. And boy that gaming time has been refreshing for me.

With two little girls at home, I rarely take out my gaming consoles. It's also the same reason I've yet to buy myself a Nintendo Switch (that and money.....). And without that state-of-the-art gaming system, I'm limited to just my nostalgic games--I'm very okay with this as it turns out.

I started out by playing Spyro the Dragon originally for PlayStation (now available as a remastered trilogy). Never played this one growing up, but I’d played the last game in the trilogy, Year of the Dragon. So it’s been a nice mix of a nostalgia (since the games are so similar) and a new game. It’s been in my video game collection for years, so why haven’t I played it? I don’t have an answer, but I’m glad I pulled it out at last. 

Once I’ve finished the game, I’ll definitely have some commentary. In the meantime, it’s been amazing how this video game nostalgia has helped my mental health on certain days. I remember day I felt depressed and low while I should have enjoyed my me-time. Pulling out the old PlayStation and popping in my game, I felt my mood rise. Even though I hadn’t played this particular game, the feeling is there. There’s something calming about playing a familiar game. I’ve heard it said about rewatching TV shows but I think applies here too—we know what to expect so it’s calming. But there’s also joy of feeling like a child again. I can picture the basement where my brothers and I first played Year of the Dragon. And with life as hectic and heavy as it is, I’m grateful for something light that can bring me that joy again for a moment. 

Monday, November 20, 2023

LDS Geeks Podcast #6: Loki Season 2

I had the chance to sit down and record with Rob about where in time and space Loki Season 2 took us. Check out the most recent episode of the podcast to listen in on our thoughts, what we liked, and where the series fell short.


Friday, November 17, 2023

The Doctor's Doppelgängers

Next week begins the start of Doctor Who's 60th anniversary specials. This won't be the first time the Doctor encounters/wears a familiar face. In fact it almost seems like it's a recurring theme, the Doctor encountering his doppelgängers (or being his own doppelgänger in this case). Sometimes before he wears the face and sometimes after. Sometimes at the same time. So with the Fourteenth Doctor coming up (and with "Enemy of the World" in my recent memories) let's take a look at these twinners.

First Doctor - Abbot of Amboise (The Massacre)

Though the episode doesn't still exist in its entirety, "The Massacre" features the Doctor encountering (sort of) his lookalike in the 16th Century. The Doctor never appears on screen with the Abbot, so I suppose the Doctor could have been the Abbot the whole time (instead of just pretending to be him). But all the same, Steven couldn't tell for sure through the four episodes whether he was truly interacting with the Doctor or the Abbot. Frustrating I'm sure. That couldn't have helped with that outburst at the end, before he stormed out of the TARDIS. (Side note: If we're including the fact that David Bradley played the Doctor in "Twice Upon a Time" and "The Power of the Doctor", the First Doctor also had a double in "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship")

Second Doctor - Ramón Salamander (The Enemy of the World)

Upon arriving in Australia 2018 (yet another future story now set in the past), what are the odds that the Doctor would encounter a Hispanic warlord version of himself? Naturally the dictatorship's enemies had to use the Doctor to infiltrate the bad guys' European home. But the Doctor being the Doctor had to make sure he was on the right side before agreeing to overthrow a regime. And enter the Doctor's superb acting skills, utilized multiple times in his second incarnation, to fool nearly all of Salamander's people. Long story short, good guys win and Salamander forgot to close the TARDIS doors before taking off.... so into the vortex he goes. Spin-off media took his story in another direction after that, but as TJ and I have said on the podcast, that goes into the pseudo-canon (pick-and-choose-canon) realm.

Fourth Doctor - The Curator (The Day of the Doctor)

As if it wasn't enough to have all thirteen Doctor's appear AND save Gallifrey, we were hit with another surprise as the legendary Tom Baker returned to Doctor Who. The Fourth Doctor is still the longest running Doctor, so to see him return as the Curator was/is a big deal for fans. Though not technically confirmed in the 50th Anniversary special, it was heavily hinted that the Curator is a future incarnation of the Doctor. Regardless, his face was recognizable by the Eleventh Doctor. The spin-off media expands on the Curator, but as previously noted, that's only sort-of canon.

Sixth Doctor - Maxil (Arc of Infinity)

Before appearing as the flamboyantly obnoxious Sixth Doctor, Collin Baker appeared as the Time Lord Maxil in "Arc of Infinity". Imagine with all the faces you could regenerate into and you turn into another Time Lord. I guess that's just the luck of the draw... except that sometimes the face isn't random (see the two examples below).

Tenth Doctor - Fourteenth Doctor (60th Anniversary Specials)

How do you become your own doppelgänger? By being the most popular Doctor of the modern era. We know next to nothing about the Fourteenth Doctor, except that for some reason he looks like the Tenth. From the trailers (Spoiler warning) we can kind of tell that the Fourteenth Doctor is going to wrap up some of his unfinished business from his time with Donna. What does that mean for them? Who knows? And how does the Toymaker play into things?

Twelfth Doctor - Lobus Caecilius (Fire of Pompeii)

We were told this Doctor double would be addressed during the tenure of the Twelfth Doctor. I don't know what I expected (maybe revisiting Roman times?) but I was underwhelmed at the explanation of why the Doctor looked like Caecilius. Maybe I wanted them to address Donna again? I don't know, but we're getting Donna again anyway. Also, though I never watched Torchwood, Peter Capaldi also appeared on the Doctor Who spin-off as John Frobisher and I kind of hoped they'd tie him into the Twelfth Doctor as well. Oh well.

And now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to be here twiddling my thumbs, continuing along my Second Doctor rewatch, while I wait for the return of the Doctor and Donna. Happy 60th anniversary, Whovians!