Monday, September 29, 2014

Halloween Movies and Shows

T.J. and Joe talk about some of their favorite Halloween Movies and Shows.

"duh duh da duh duh duh. I. Am. Your singing telegram."

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Artist Spotlight: Bryan Beus

Bryan Beus is an artist that simply makes you stop and look. Let me back up: Back at Fantasy Con (Yes it's another story I met at a convention, don't judge me!). I was wandering around looking at art, which is one of my favorite things to do anywhere, when I saw Bryan's work. Normally my attention is only taken because I've spotted a cool Disney villain or Harley Quinn, but I noticed Bryan because the first piece I saw beautiful, simply beautiful. 

Then I met Bryan. 

What struck me first after meeting him was that Bryan never tried to push his art on me or my buddy (Cons are more fun with friends). We discussed the events and what we had seen thus far and he he was just a genuinely nice guy. Since half the vendors I'd met that day alone felt like used car salesmen at worst, it was refreshing to talk to someone friendly and real. 

But don't take my word for it, check out my recent interview with Bryan here: 

I want to discuss his art for a bit. 

What I love about Bryan's work is his use of light. His Rapunzel piece is the one that drew me over in the first place. The piece is done like a work of the Old Masters. The soft light hits the girl emphasizing her own softness, and creates a warm dreamy feel, as though she is daydreaming of the world outside her tower. This may be surprising coming from the guy who did his wedding in Disney, but I like that he created his own version of Rapunzel instead of taking the one from Tangled. 

The other piece that struck me (Luckily also the other piece Bryan sent me to show) is his "Faerietank". I'm the kid who stared at the fish tank for hours watching the fish take my imagination, and this painting captures the feeling perfectly. I love the quiet grace of the scene, the cool colors against the bright fairies feels comfortable, like a place I'd love to spend days in just floating around without a care in the world. 

Check out his website for more of his work and to track his book coming out soon!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Podcast Episode 8:

I had the opportunity to interview Mark Hansen and playtest his game Seeker's Quest.

Most of my thoughts are in the podcast. But let me say a few things here too.

1) I loved the game. It was a great concept that requires strategy.
2) The ability to make a CCG out of scriptures is awesome. The more you play, the more you can learn the scriptures.
3) I am not kidding when I say I'll buy the game. I do want to see if he can get it published through another publisher instead of a print-on-demand service first.

Also, Mark has said that if you purchase one of the larger sets of the game (non-boosters) between now and the end of October, you can receive a special "big bad" card with your game.

So check out or probably better to review the game.

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Reality Not Included Volume 2: Incredible art you can be part of

So there we were, my Mormon Geeks posse and I rolling around Salt Lake Comic Con, checking out booths and cosplayers when I get a text from my buddy Stu. He tells me that his new wife, Chelsea, who by the way is an artist for Disney (One of my dream careers by the way), has some art featured in a book at one of the booths. Being a big Chelsea fan I tell the posse to round up the horses and off we go.

What we saw when we got there blew us all away.
Reality Not Included is a co-op comic book written and illustrated by several different artists, The stories range from funny to adventurous to take your soul out and stomp on it then hand it back kind of work. Best part for me is that since most of the contributors are BYU graduates, the comic is also clean, which is rare in the industry.

When we arrived I had to flip to Chelsea's work, since she was what got us over in the first place, and let me describe what happened: I'm standing holding the book with several friends looking over my shoulder, and when we reached the second page it felt like we all took a collective breath. Her work was beautiful, inspiring, and hit us like a ton of bricks. Several of my group donated to their Kickstarter that day. The rest of the comics were amazing, many full of life and color (A couple not quite done yet, but done enough to make me want more) that just isn't found in a lot of main stream comics right now.

We managed to get an interview with some of the creators while we were there, check it out along with their Kickstarter program. Donations gets you a copy of the comic, and believe me, it's totally worth it!

P.S. The Kickstarter ends on October 2nd so get on it now!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Watchers: Knight of Light Review

Over the last few days, I've had the opportunity to read “Knight of Light” by Deidra Eden. Not only is this the first book in Eden's “Watcher” series, but it is also the first book that she has published.

The story take place in mideval England, and chronicles the adventures of, Auriella, an orphaned 13-year old girl, who finds she must flee her village after being accused of being a witch. In this fantasy adventure, Auriella comes across a number of mythical creatures and races, including pixies, dwarves, fairies and dragons.

As the story goes on, Auriella begins becoming aware of mystical abilities she has that normal humans do not possess. While early on, she works to hide, suppress and deny these abilities, she gradually learns that she has these abilities for a reason, and that she can use them to make a positive difference in the world.

While it admittedly took some time for me to really get into it, overall “Knight of Light” was a pleasant read, and there was definitely a great story contained in it. One of the things that made it difficult was that the writing style. While Eden has stated that the book is intended for all ages, I would place it as more fitting for older children or younger adolescents.

Earlier in the story, there was very limited characterization or exposition. The book was written in first person, and the character often spoke as if the reader is already familiar with the fantasy elements that are unique to the book. While there is more explanation later, the earlier chapters had me scratching my head and wondering what the characters were talking about (or what it was that Auriella was thinking about). In addition, some characters come off as one-dimensional, with no real motive for their actions ever being explored.

There were a couple of themes I did enjoy. Without giving any spoilers, I will just say that I was intrigued by the analogy of the race of heroes and the race of villains in the book play to the Council in Heaven that is recorded in the Book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price. Eden has also stated that there are elements of the book based on other religious texts as well, though I am not familiar with them enough to recognize them.

The other theme I enjoyed was Auriella's growth. She goes from a young girl who fears her abilities and hides them from others in an attempt to fit in, to accepting them, and eventually embracing them to protect those she loves and to fight the evils of the world.

So, even though I wasn't a big fan of the writing style, I did enjoy the story. In the end, Auriella became a character I very much liked, and I'm interested in seeing where her adventures take her in the books. 

If you want to win a free copy of The Watchers Book 1: The Knight of Light, click on the link below, plus check out the trailer and meet the author, Deidra Eden!

The Watchers Book 1: Knight of Light

In England, 1270 A.D., Auriella (pronounced yurr-ee-ella) flees her village after being accused of witchcraft. Pursued by nightmarish creatures, she struggles to accept the truth about her humanity. Filled with fairies, dwarves, pixies, dragons, and monsters, Knight of Light is an enthralling tale that will capture the imaginations of readers young and old.
The Watchers Series has been described as Braveheart meets Supernatural. The mythology for the series is based on many theological texts from dozens of sects with correlating themes. Ancient writings include The Dead Sea Scrolls, The Traditional Apocrypha, The Pearl of Great Price, and The Kabbalah.

“The Watchers” are supernatural beings in human form whose duty it is to protect and guard mankind from the armies of darkness. Unfortunately, as the Book of Enoch mentions, some of these Watchers go bad. Although the mythology is based on these texts, Deirdra Eden’s The Watchers Series is written in a traditional fairytale style with a young girl’s discovery of incredible, but dangerous powers within herself, a cast of humorous side-kicks, a quest for greater self-discovery and purpose, and villains of epic proportions.

About the Author

"My goal in writing is to saturate my books with intrigue, mystery, romance, and plot twists that will keep my readers in suspense. I want to see fingerprints on the front and back covers where readers have gripped the novel with white knuckles! Aside from writing, I enjoy jousting in arenas, planning invasions, horseback riding through open meadows, swimming in the ocean, hiking up mountains, camping in cool shady woods, climbing trees barefoot, and going on adventures."
-Deirdra Eden

Find Deirdra Eden and The Watchers Series online on AmazonDeirdra's websiteFacebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Wattpad, and Pinterest.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, September 19, 2014

Tyler’s Comic Con Report

             Recently I (as well as many of my fellow Mormon Geek contributors), had the opportunity to attend Salt Lake City Comic Con.  Comic Con Fan X was my first comic con, it was amazing.  I attended three days of awesome.  I was there with one of my best friends, the panels were incredible, the lines were very manageable and everything on the convention floor was new and fascinating.  Granted, I am a huge TNG geek, and FanX was a TNG geek’s fantasy come true (but for lacking LaVar Burton (but it’s okay since La Forge was not really a bridge officer #butterflyinthesky)).  I had personal interaction with all the TNG crew except Patrick Stewart, but I saw him in person and that, fellow geeks, was enough for me. I left FanX a very content geek.

               Salt Lake Comic Con 2014 did not deliver in the same way and I fear I may have only myself to blame.  While I attended all three days of FanX, I could only justify taking one day away from work and family to attend. I chose Saturday… The Grail Knight of Indiana Jones would undoubtedly say, “he chose, poorly . . .,” and how I paid for my poor choice.  Fortunately, my face did not melt off.

               My biggest gripe was the sheer volume of people.  Part of me was thrilled to see such a strong and vibrant geek community; another part of me wanted a third of the people to have stayed home.  I eventually put all of my cosplay paraphernalia in my backpack because walking around in the crushing crowds was a feat of its own.  I needed to make some small gift purchases for my wife (who let me go be a geek for the day), and my kids. Walking the convention floor was an exercise in extreme patience building. You could not just meander from booth to booth, rather, you had to wait for the crowd to slowly carry you there, and hope no one was standing where you needed to be or you would be forced to slow the crawl of the masses further.

               I found some excellent gifts, the prices were decent, and the sentiment was appropriate.  Batman earrings, bacon socks, a Darth Vader bust and two tins of mints shaped like original Nintendo controllers later, I had achieved my mission.

               I attended a great panel on the history of Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion.  While there were some technical difficulties, the information was fantastic (I will share more on this in October).  I was able to spend some time with some close friends and celebrate something fun that brings us together. I got to see entire FAMILIES enjoying the conference, and even cosplaying. I still love it when someone asks for a picture with me when dressed as Dr. Horrible. This time when I left however, I did not leave a content geek, I left disappointed and hoping I will eventually recapture the glory and splendor of my first Comic Con.  

              In the meantime, thank you Comic Con for still giving me a place where I know all things geeky will be held up and celebrated.  

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Why I Love Salt Lake Comic Con

If you read my post from last week, you might think I'm jaded about Comic Con.

It's obvious that there are things I don't like about it, as last week's critique showed. In addition to long lines, I'm not a fan of the large crowds, particularly when the building was at maximum capacity on Saturday, and it was extremely difficult to get anywhere.

But the truth is, I love Comic Con. And for me, the pros definitely outweigh the cons (no pun intended).

There are many things I love about Comic Con. In this post, I will name just a few of them.

The first thing I love is the art. Salt Lake Comic Con has an “Artist Alley,” a place where artists, from both near and far, can display and sell their art of all things geek. From Star Trek to Doctor Who, from Superman to Captain America, if you can think of it, it's most likely there.

The art that I added to my collection from this year's Comic Con
I went a little over my budget with the art I bought this year, but I am very pleased with the new art I added to my collection.

Another thing I love is the panels. From video game music, to what makes the best villain, to who's your favorite Doctor, to what makes a good writer, there were panels on just about everything. I only regret that I didn't take more time to go to panels that sounded interesting to me this year.

The "Writer's Retreat" Panel
Next is the opportunity to see celebrities from my favorite movies and TV shows. This year I got to go to the spotlights for Stephen Amell and John Barrowman, both of whom play in one of my favorite TV series, “Arrow.” 

Stephen Amell during his spotlight
John Barrowman during his spotlight
During Stephen Amell's spotlight, a fan asked him to give the monologue that begins every "Arrow" episode. This is a recording I took of his attempt. I found it rather entertaining.

I also had the opportunity to meet and get an autograph from Michael Rosenbaum (I also got to bump fists with him), best known for playing Lex Luthor in Smallville.

My big item souvenir for this year, an autographed picture of Michael Rosenbaum
Another is seeing all the cosplayers. I didn't take many pictures, but it sure was cool to see the creativity, talent and skill that went into some of the costumes.

Paul, TJ, Joe and me with some Mortal Kombat cosplayers
And though I didn't technically cosplay, I took a book out of the page of Joe and Katie's Disney themed wedding and wore a different theme each of the three days.

My theme was loosely based on this picture
Green Lantern theme on Thursday
Blue Lantern theme on Friday
Green Lantern/Blue Lantern mix theme on Saturday

 Last, and by far what I love and enjoy most about Comic Con is having the opportunity to geek out with friends. Each day of Comic Con, I posted on Facebook what the highlights were for me, and each day, right at the top, was the having the opportunity to see and spend time with friends who have many of the same geeky interests that I do.

Paul, Stephen and me in a selfie
Geek runs in the family! My brother Zach, my sister Megan, my brother Brady and me
Me and Paul (cosplaying as adult Avatar Aang)
Tyler (cosplaying as Doctor Horrible) and me
Me and Joe in a selfie
Me and Jeremy (cosplaying as a ranger)
Jeremy, me, Joe and Paul at the end of a great weekend at Comic Con
So yes, I do love Comic Con, and those are few of the reasons why. As before, I eagerly look forward to the next time I get to go to Comic Con!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Christmas Dragon- A Kickstarter you want in on

Stop: Before you read any further, click this link and watch the trailer, then come back over here.

Hay welcome back!

Confession: As a person who considers the most sacred day of the year to be Halloween, it's been a long time since I've seen a Christmas movie I've been excited about. I can't even remember the last time I've wanted to watch a Christmas movie that didn't involve the Muppets...

Till now...

The Christmas Dragon is a Christmas movie that takes place in a high-fantasy world, so the Christmas elves and St. Nick are side by side with wizards and Orcs. Ayden, our hero, is a young girl tasked by a dying elf to bring magic back to the North and save Santa, along the way picking up a rag-tag band of heroes and having fun fantasy adventures.

I know what you're going to say: "Joe you scalawag, isn't that the plot of about a billion Christmas stories?" Technically yes, but telling the story from a fantasy point of view is logically the best way that this story should be told, since the Tolken fantasy setting flows perfectly into the Santa needs to be saved narrative, since what else do fantasy adventurers do but rescue magic beings? Plus the production value of The Christmas Dragon is fantastic. Filmed in big open spaces Lord of the Rings style, but not so CG'd that it looks fake. That's one of the great parts about filming in Utah, it doesn't take long to find a place Peter Jackson would drool for.

 I can't wait to see this movie, and remember, this is the guy who doesn't do Christmas without Muppets.

Arrowstorm Entertainment, a Utah based company and makers of The Christmas Dragon, is currently holding a Kickstarter to cover the production costs and finish the movie. They're over halfway to their $50,000 goal and only have a week left to make it, so they need your help! This is what Kickstarter was made for, so that incredible projects can get the funding they need.

So check it out, give deep and let your friends know- Christmas is coming by dragon this year!


Did you not click the link the first two times? Come on, don't be like that! Click the link, check out the trailer, be cool man. I'd click the link for you!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Truth is Singular

I recently had an experience--well, not so very recently, maybe a month or so ago--where I recalled this awesome scene from the 2012 Doctor Who Christmas special entitled "The Snowmen."

In that episode, the Doctor (Matt Smith) meets Clara Oswin Oswald (this is and isn't the Clara that will be his companion.) Clara needs the Doctor's help and eventually finds her way to Madame Vastra (a lizard-like woman). When Clara meets Vastra, she is instructed to answer her questions by using only one word answers. Clara asks why, to which Madame Vastra replies:

"Truth is singular. Lies are words, words words." I absolutely love this statement (as well as Clara's eventual response when she catches Madame Vastra in a lie.)

There's something to be said about this idea...but I'll try not to give it too many words ;)

As I've adopted this idea, I've watched myself as I speak and try to say what I need to and not every single last idea that comes to mind.

Now, be careful. This idea does have a counter-effect. Don't think that someone who's speaking a lot is lying to you. But I trust people who choose their words well. Not to sound important or more distinguished, but to be accurate and honest.

As a little treat, I've attempted to embed the full scene below. If you know Doctor Who, it'll make sense. If you don't, then the majority of the scene still is impressive.

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Organization (or Lack Thereof) at Salt Lake Comic Con

Last weekend marked the second annual Salt Lake Comic Con. Attending a comic con has long been on my bucket list, and geographic distance from any has kept me from attending in the past. I was excited to be able to attend the inaugural Salt Lake Comic Con last year, and had an awesome experience.

I had such a great experience at the first comic con, that when the Fan Experience was announced for spring of this year, I jumped at the chance to get a pass for all three days. And I had just as much fun with FanX as Comic Con.

I just as quickly jumped at getting tickets for Comic Con this year, even opting for the newly created Gold Pass. There were several celebrity guests I was excited to see, and several panels that I was looking forward to attending. However, unlike the last two times I have attended, this year I experienced some major frustrations with how Comic Con was organized.

My first frustration was with the regisration process. For those that bought their tickets ahead of time, there were two options for registering. The first was to pre-register by picking up wristbands at one of four designated sites during set hours the three days prior to the start of Comic Con. The second was to pick up your wristbands when you showed up to attend the convention. Having had a quick, easy and smooth experience with registration my two previous times attending, I was not anticipating any major problems this year.

I was sadly mistaken.

When I first arrived on Thursday, I found a line winding around the building, and no volunteers in sight. In addition, nobody in line seemed to know if they were in the right place either. But sinceI knew I needed to pick up my wristband before entering the convention, I went to the end of the line, which was about three blocks back from the entrance for the convention.

About a block away from the entrance, there were finally some volunteers directing people to separate lines, one for general admission and the other for Gold and VIP Passes. It took nearly an hour from the time I arrived at the building before I got into the building. Up to that point, I was still being patient, realizing that even though I wasn't expecting the wait, that higher attendance numbers were expected this year.
Iconic Salt Lake Comic Con Car and the registration line outside the convention
Upon entering the building, there was a long, slow moving line serpentining through the interior entrance to the Expo Hall.

Registration line inside the building
From the time I arrived at the building to the time I was actually able to enter the convention, I waited three hours and forty minutes. By the time I got in, I was feeling annoyed at the long wait and exhausted from being on my feet for so long.

A picture of me about three hours into my wait in line
The program I received at registration gave the names and descriptions of the panels, but had no schedule of when or where the panels were at. By the time I realized that the only easy way to check was using the Salt Lake Comic Con app, my phone was nearly dead. And I would not have been able to attend much anyway, as by the time I was able to enter the convention, there were only two panels left.

A picture of me once I finally got into the Expo Hall after waiting in line nearly four hours
I was fortunate to be able to meet with a couple of friends, so it didn't feel like a total waste. But if I had known that it was going to take so long to get in, I would have just waited until the next day to go.

Numerous others had negative experiences with the registration line on Thursday as well. Two of my brothers, who arrived a little later than me, were only able to pick up their wristbands before turning around and going home, as the Expo Hall was closing by this time. There was a family (including a toddler) in line in front of me that left in frustration after waiting in line for over two hours. And Salt Lake Comic Con's Facebook page was inundated with comments from both attenders that were frustrated with the long registration lines and those who had pre-registered and were erroneously told by volunteers to wait in the registration line (when they could have walked right into the convention).

My second frustration was with the Gold Pass. I bought my ticket for Comic Con back in June. At the time there was a special for the newly created Gold Pass, which offered a few of the perks of the VIP pass without costing as much. As it worked out, the only thing I ended up getting or being able to use with my Gold Pass was a fancy badge that read “GOLD” and a lanyard to wear it.

This badge was the only thing of use I ended up getting with the purchase of my Gold Pass
In theory, I was able to enter the Expo Hall an hour early, like those with VIP Passes. As I had work and other commitments that kept me from going early all three days, that did me no good (and would have been irrelevant Thursday, with the wait in the registration line).

A Comic Con t-shirt was also included with my Gold Pass Registration, but required waiting in another line. That was the last thing I wanted to do after waiting nearly four hours in line to get in, and by the time I felt like attempting the line for t-shirts the next day, there were none left.

I also got a $20 voucher for a photo op with a celebrity and two $5 vouchers for autographs. By the time I had gathered some cash for the photo op (for which they did not take cards), any of the celebrities that I was considering pictures with and could afford were sold out. I also found that many of the celebrities doing autographs (including the one I did get an autograph from) did not accept the vouchers.

So I spent extra money for a Gold Pass, and all I have to show for it is a shiny plastic badge. Unless I am absolutely certain I will be able to get to the Expo Hall early all three days, get my t-shirt in a timely manner, and use the vouchers to get autographs and photos with the celebrities I want, I will not be wasting my money on a Gold Pass again.

This post was obviously a critique of things at Comic Con that I would like to see improved. I'm looking forward to sharing all the great experiences I did have at Comic Con in my next post.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Why go to Salt Lake Comic Con?

As I was getting ready to go to the Salt Lake Comic Con on Saturday, for my third day in a row of art, cosplay and just general geekery, my wife, a proclaimed not-geek, asked me why I go to Comic Con. See, most of our friends were going or had gone last weekend, so she was wondering if she had missed something when she spent a day there last year.

Here is my answer:

My normal life consists of going to work then going to class, and as much as I love my job and my professors, I often find myself trying to figure out how to stay awake long enough to get to the end of the day, when I then have the rest of my grown up responsibilities with hopefully a few minutes to watch a film trailer or turn on a video game before passing out and starting the whole thing all over again. A normal life yes, but I'm a geek and thus I've seen better.

Geekery in it's general sense is all about some sort of fantasy, weather it's flying the Millennium Falcon into the heart of the Death Star or saving the princess from the fire breathing dragon, it's about leaving the real world to be something different, something impossible in the real world. The term used is escapism, and while I know that they're are wonderful things in the real world and one should never sacrifice the real for the fantasy, it's still nice to go somewhere where the hero wins and the villains are vanquished.

Comic Con is a celebration of this concept. It's the celebration of a thousand different worlds, full of heroes, villains, dragons, Wookies, firebenders, Na'Vi, mutants, Klingons, ponies with hearts on their flanks, princesses and an infinite number of other possibilities. Comic Con allows me to step away from my routine and for a little while celebrate the things I gain inspiration, hope and joy from (And yes, before you ask I get the same things from General Conference but that doesn't mean I can't get them from a multiple of sources).

So if you're wondering, yes, do go. Beware the crowds (my fellow Mormon Geeks writers have been and will be talking about them, and I agree this last time they were kind of ridiculous), go prepared, and have fun!

Oh, are you sad that it's over and you'll have to wait a year to go? Don't be, that gives you plenty of time to get excited and perfect that gender switched Elsa costume you've been dreaming about.


P.S. Here are a TON of photos I took of my Salt Lake Comic Con experience. Enjoy!

Me and my buddy Paul showing off our new Avatar art, plus his Avatar cosplay! 

Someone call Azkabaan! (BTW: His picture actually moved)

My buddy Chad as Cesar from The Hunger Games. This man is usually bald and has a beard, he had me completely fooled. 

Weta Workshop's dragon they brought to Comic Con- the eyes opened and closed! 

Me and Harry Dresden-the skull and blasting rod were signed by Jim Butcher, author of the Dresden Files!

My niece would be so jealous! 

Gollum and I are in love. 

Me with two of my favorite bad guys-but who's blood is on the bat?!

Me with the homoculous Lust!

They're men in tight TIGHT tights!

Mormon Geeks forever! 

Round 1: FIGHT!!!

This guy was looking for trouble all day- he found me!

Queen Regina- holding her very tempting apple. 

Evermore-so exciting to have a new theme park in Utah!