Thursday, July 31, 2014

Lessons from Penelope

Over this past weekend I went on a trip to my friend's cabin in Alabama.  We had a blast boating and swimming in the lake.  It was nice to relax and not worry about anything.  We watched a lot of movies and one of those movies was Penelope.  Now, I don't normally like chick flicks because I was spoon fed them by my girl cousins growing up who insisted that I would be forced to watch them by future wives later in life....

Scratch that.  I don't normally like romantic chick flicks.  Chick flicks like Mean Girls are hilarious and awesome.  Romantic chick flicks that reinforce codependency and unrealistic expectations in relationships are not.

Anyway, Penelope is a little romantic but it's more of a whimsy rite of passage for a girl burdened with a curse.  The titular character comes from a long line of proud wealthy families.  One of her ancestors snubbed a servant girl because he was pressured by his family to marry someone of noble birth.  The servant girl got super depressed and committed suicide.  Her mother just so happened to be the town witch and cursed the family that the first daughter born to them would be given a curse of hideousness.  The curse would only be lifted until the girl would be loved by one of her own kind.

Fast forward 4 or 5 generations and we have Penelope.  Penelope is the first girl and she is born with a pig nose.  The mother, who is overly concerned with having a "normal" life and status hides her daughter from the press and keeps her shut in.  At 18 years of age they start introducing suitors who get interviewed behind a one way mirror.  Penelope observes them, asks them questions, and then reveals herself to them where they run away screaming like clockwork.

Every guy runs away up until she turns 25.  Max, actually stays and gets to know Penelope.  They become friends and potential for companionship blossoms.  Penelope reveals herself but Max doesn't run away--not at first anyway.  We later find out why Max runs and it's not the same reason why the other guys run.  Still, Penelope is hurt and decides to head out on her own and live independently from her parents and actually experience the world that she's been shut out from.

The movie loses a little steam at this point but picks back up when Penelope actually reveals her pig face to the world.  The irony is that she is adored by the public.  Her quirkiness is nothing short of endearing and people love her.  A previous suitor is then pressured to marry her because of her public appeal and Penelope agrees.  At the Altar, Penelope sees that she's only marrying him to please her mother and break some curse that she doesn't even care about.

Penelope leaves the altar and goes to her room being stressed out by her mother.  Her mother says, "Don't you want to break the curse?  Don't you want to be loved?"

Penelope responds, "I love myself!"

Thunder rolls and Penelope falls backwards.  She helps herself up and realizes her pig nose has been replaced by a human nose.  Penelope broke the curse because she loved and accepted herself.

Lessons on Love

One of the most important commandments is to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.  I think a big part of that commandment is the part where we need to truly love and accept ourselves as we are.  Penelope came to love and accept herself with the pig nose.  Her love was unconditional and completely sincere.

Ironically, Penelope even misses her pig nose when the curse is lifted.  She came to see it as a part of her that was likable.  Though she has mixed feelings on the curse being lifted, her self compassion remains unconditional and moves on in life.  That's one of the reasons loving ourselves is so important and so difficult.

A few years ago I learned about fears I had that made it really difficult to love and accept myself.  I didn't like who I was because I believed I was someone different.  I had to learn how to love myself again.  I found that as I grow I change and become something new.  When I become something new, I need to learn who I am and get to know me.  I have to do that, if I'm really going to love myself unconditionally with full acceptance.

Lessons on Action

When Penelope leaves the altar she does it for her.  She certainly loves her mother.  She probably even cares for her fake fiance.  But if Penelope stayed at the altar she would have put her mother's need for a "normal life" above Peneolope's need to love herself and having a life that's her own and not her mother's.  Penelope did something painful but for what she believed was best for her.

It's easy to confused self compassion with arrogance or self centeredness.  If we really love ourselves though, we'll do what's right for us despite the pain.  Taking a shower everyday because you want to be clean and even going to the gym (even if it sucks) can be a a way you show love to yourself.  If you value you, you'll take the medicine and you'll do what's right even when it hurts or isn't convenient.

Lessons on Curses  

We all have them.  We have trials.  We have stuff that makes our life hard or unique.  For Penelope, she had a pig snout.  For one of us, we may have cancer, a difficult addiction, a terrible loss, or even experience same sex attraction.  In the weight of our curse, we may not see it for the potential of the blessing it can be in our life.  When Penelope saw that no one really cared that she had a pig nose it allowed her to be in a place to consider that maybe being "cursed" with a pig nose wasn't so bad.  In fact, it was actually a good thing.

When a boy hears Penelope's story he thinks the moral of the story is, "It's not the power of the curse - it's the power you give the curse."  Our trials can definitely be challenging experiences but they can also be empowering when we start to see them in a different light.  We have power over what can bring us down or "curses" us.  How we go about taking power back from our curses (in healthy ways) and learning from them is a different story on its own.

I'd definitely recommend seeing Penelope.  It's a cute movie with a lot of heart.  Thanks for faithfully following us here on Mormon Geeks!


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Korra conundrum

For the last month I've received a message from my wife on a near-daily basis.
My Korra picture. 
All the message has said is "Korra's not up yet".
See, Katie and I are huge Avatar the Last Airbender and Legend of Korra fans, to the point where we even have a fan-made picture of Korra hanging in our living room. However, this season Nickelodeon decided not to upload the episodes to their website as they have the last two seasons, instead airing them on cable only. A couple weeks ago, they announced that for $5.99 you could download the season thus far, all five or six episodes, but that seemed like a rip-off to us, and since we weren't getting cable anytime soon it seemed that we would have to miss Team Avatar in another thrilling adventure.
Then last week the whole thing was turned upside down.
First they're was an announcement that Legend of Korra was cancelled. Before anyone could make a tribute video like they did for Young Justice, they announced that Korra would be moving exclusively to online distribution.
Turns out that Nickelodeon was having trouble catching an audience for the show while it was on TV.
And this is my not-surprised-face.
Here's the real problem: the Last Airbender franchise has long ago shed it's "made for kids" skin in favor of a teen to adult focus, though it's still appropriate enough for kids. This is another instance when the words "Mature" and "Adult" don't work, because that usually indicates that people are having sex all over the place, which is not the case at all. Let me ask you this: Would a story line about two middle-aged sisters reconciling their long grudges over who better got mom's attention when they were young adults be a good story for say a nine-year-old?
Anyhoo, the fact is we live in 2014, and the people who are the biggest consumers of shows like Legend of Korra and the like are not going to be into having to be home at a certain time to catch their show. They want to watch it from work, or late at night, or while playing a video game like I do, so the internet is the only real way to distribute this series.
I wonder, if back in the day more people had high-speed internet like now if shows like Firefly would've found a better home online and lasted longer, rather than having the plug pulled on them because they weren't catching a wide enough audience. I wonder if some newer beloved shows could've lasted longer if they weren't nailed to a time slot but were instead nailed to a website, like Young Justice.
So in the end Katie and I spent our Saturday morning catching up on our favorite water bender as she fought against the forces of evil, spellbound by what can only be described as good TV, with the knowledge that next weekend we could do the same thing...
... As soon as they upload the next episode.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Mormon Geeks Episode 5: John Cleaver

T.J. and Stephen discuss all things John Cleaver (well, minus the new novella, which T.J. still hasn't read yet, but is going to.) This is a book series by Dan Wells including the books I Am Not a Serial Killer, Mr. Monster, and I Don't Want to Kill You.

Please have a listen and enjoy.

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Jellyfish Conundrum

A few months back I came across a meme that basically switched the genders of the characters of the Big Bang Theory in the first season.  Instead of having a gorgeous looking girl that becomes friends with three socially awkward guys it was a gorgeous looking guy who becomes friends with 4 socially awkward girls.  The caption basically said, "A situation comedy that would never get made."

Well, guess who's laughing now?  The creators of the hit anime Princess Jellyfish more or less follow the same idea in their titular series.  And you wanna know something?  It's fantastic.

Princess Jellyfish is about an 18 year old girl named Tsukimi who moves out on her own into Tokyo.  Tsukimi is obsessed with all sorts of different kinds of Jellyfish and is an otaku girl.  (Or a nerd/geek girl.)  She moves into a house style apartment home with 5 other girls who are socially awkward and also otaku.  The girls tend to stick with one another and try to avoid social situations because of the dreaded "stylish."

The "stylish" are the young and socially adept of Tokyo life.  They are confident, wear nice clothes (if sometimes gaudy), and tend to overlook anyone who isn't part of their social sphere.  The otaku girls are completely intimidated by them even if one means well and actually tries to care.

Things change for Tsukimi's life when a stylish girl helps her save a jellyfish from an oblivious pet shop clerk.  The stylish girl decides to become Tsukimi's friend and a series of events causes the stylish girl to spend the night at Tsukimi's place.
Tsukimi freaks out when she finds her new friend is a 'he.'

Now I know what you're thinking, "This isn't like the big bang theory.  The pretty one should be a boy in this situation not a girl."  Yeah... about that... Tsukimi wakes up the next morning to step on a wig--totally expected with the stylish culture--and sees not a stylish girl but a young man not much older than her.  His name is Kuranosuke and he cross dresses for fun.  (He's not gay, just likes women clothing.)  What then begins is an unlikely friendship and comedy of errors involving political families, doomed apartment buildings, and awkward dinner conversations.

The great thing about Princess Jellyfish are the rounded and complicated characters.  Kuranosuke motives for cross dressing are both endearing and painfully sad.  Much like Tsukimi's obsession with Jellyfish and how it connects her to her mother.  The girls she live with are much like real characters with painful and relatable insecurities.

So why would a guy like me find interest in a show like this?  It isn't just the good writing and storytelling.  I found a connection in empathy before that I hadn't before.  See, I've been aware of insecurities and fears that I've seen from my female relatives but never understood.  The fears that real-life women would tell me about I just couldn't see as rational or even understood why they existed.  Watching Princess Jellyfish actually changed that for me.  Suddenly, I didn't just know of the fears and insecurities but actually felt them!  Seeing these girls act the way they do around Kuranosuke spoke to me in a way that no other show has before.

I would definitely recommend giving Princess Jellyfish a shot.  It can be seen on Netflix.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Is social media the new journaling?

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

This was after I saw Patrick Stewart speak at Comic Con

It's still true.

I have a problem with math...

This honestly nearly killed me. 

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

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


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Random Minecraft Pictures

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

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

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Top Ten most annoying Disney sidekicks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

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

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

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

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

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


Monday, July 14, 2014

Podcast: Episode 4: FantasyCon

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

Listen to our latest podcast here.

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Edge of Heartache

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

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

Then Cage dies only to wake up the previous day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Joe's Fantasy Con experience

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

That being said, here's Fantasy Con.

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

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

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

Yup. Fire dancers. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They do Pegg, they do. 

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

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

Mermaids are always cool. 

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

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Andrew's Brief Visit to Fantasy Con 2014

So, I forgot that I had a blog post to write for today.  So I'm going to share something different than a post on a Minecraft mod.  I had the most wonderful opportunity to go to Fantasy Con over the weekend.  Due to some other circumstances, I wasn't able to be there for a very long time.

If I could sum it up in one word excellent!  There was a large variety of booths, vendors, performances, etc.  They had medieval reenactment societies with tournaments.  There was a huge statue of a dragon.  Various things on sale from jewelry to armor to comics to food.  There even were some fire dancers!  There also were a variety of presentations, but I didn't have enough time to go visit with one.  They had in a number of actors and writers too from the genre.

Because, I don't have much to say, I'm going to end off this post by sharing some pictures and videos that I took during the Con.

Hope you enjoy!

Elvish nobility?
We watched a tournament!
At least they're honest!
My mom wanted to know if the actor was there. Sadly, I have no idea!

Monday, July 7, 2014

These Are a Few of My Favorite Memes

Here take my money and "good" grumpy kitty
All Nicholas Cages and all those things witty
Life on this planet is not what it seems
These are a few of my favorite memes

Yes, it's meme time! (As opposed to Animaniacs' mime time.) I wanted to get a podcast up for you, but unfortunately, the busy weekend that was had just didn't afford me the time. Hopefully there will be one this Friday, reviewing Fantasycon.

But hey, how awesome is that poem above? Okay, it's to the tune of My Favorite Things, but it's still awesome. Just admit it.

So I'm gonna share six of my favorite memes:

Come on, there are so many times this has been quoted. Shoot, most the people at my job use it. The conversations usually go like this: "Oh great, I've got too much to file again." "Filing? Ain't nobody got time fo dat!"

Two words: Justin Bieber. Two more: One Direction. How about these five? Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. I might not know much about them, but I can say this, they make me not want to live on this planet anymore.

This poor cat is everywhere, making people frown even further at some of the most overdramatic moments in their lives. GOOD!

I found this one recently. And yeah, this is how I feel about half the posts I see on Fail Blog.

Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya, you killed wait...this is the wrong phrase with the wrong picture. Meh, it's still a great phrase from a great movie. And even then, it's also mis-written, but whatever.

Shortly after the Lebron James (yes, it's misspelled on the meme, which bugs me) heat exhaustion cramps game, this little gem popped up and was my favorite, even if it wasn't seen that much. So I'm giving it a little more exposure. 

And then there's my sister's favorite meme and the only one I enjoy better than mocking LeBron...

(I must apologize that this was not on the original post, as my sister kindly pointed out.) This is my favorite one to post on Facebook weekly. The reminder that it's Wednesday and we should be happy about it...because how can you not be happy whilst looking at that darling face and her matching headless doll? 

Okay, hopefully next week there'll be another podcast! Until then...

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled