Monday, September 30, 2019

Artist Alley

(Guest Post by Jared)

I’ve been to FanX three times now and I’ve spent exponentially more money each time! This last time we finally splurged for a BIG celebrity photo and paid the price to meet Tom Holland for a photo. I always get a Funko POP or two signed by celebrities, maybe a photo to commemorate the moment. However, by far, the most money I spend at the convention is in Artists Alley.

I’d heard about it before ever attending the show, but honestly could not have expected it to be as huge and as awe striking as it was. The talent that these artists have is just incredible and to see it all in one place like a huge buffet is by far my favorite part of the weekend.

I’ve been a nerd my whole life, some of my earliest memories is watching Star Trek: the Next Generation at three, four and five years old. I love Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica. I’m a Disney fanatic and go to Disneyland or Disneyworld once a year. I’m an avid comic book reader and have been obsessed with Marvel comics since the late 90s. Seeing all the art available at this show spanning these fandoms and so many more could easily be an entire day of your convention, and if you walk through too quickly or skip it altogether I would really say you’re missing the best part! Sure the celebrities are fun; the panel are usually hilarious but for me seeing so many local and talented artists is mind-blowing. Most do it is a side hustle, or just for fun and I’m so glad they’re willing to share their talents with all the rest of us nerds who can’t draw stick figures!

Here are a couple of my new favorites this past FanX, you can find on Instagram

I’d actually found this artist because I ran into a lady here at my local Michael’s who was framing a “Little Mermaid” print and I just loved the style! She gave me his name and I quickly found him on Instagram and Etsy. Previous to the convention he was running specials on his Etsy shop on some new prints, one specifically, an Elliot from Pete’s Dragon that is a childhood favorite for me. I purchased it for pickup at the convention and just loved seeing his art in person for the first time! So much Disney and all within a very personal style that I just loved, so I had to buy a couple more!

This artist was a very fun find for me too; his art is an amazing perfect mix of lifelike yet cartoony. I absolutely loved the Iron Man snapping his fingers. So much emotion in that scene in the movie and he was able to capture it in wonderfully in his art.

Tony is another artist I met at one of the previous conventions but he still remains one of my favorites! I’ve purchased several prints from him in the past and love to stalk his social media and his website to see what new things he’s working on. His art is so lifelike and beautiful; they almost look like photographs that have been put through a filter.

Another of my favorites from the past FanX was easily Hardy, I’m a sucker for any Marvel art obviously but when I saw a print of the original film Avengers AND it included Wanda and Vision I had to have it! I’m a huge Vision fan from the comics and I was really excited to see him and Wanda included in such a beautiful print.

Easily my new favorite find from the most recent FanX was Nostalgic Burns. Every piece of his art is unique and there are no reprints because he does them all by hand with a wood burning pen. There are a few wood burning artists at FanX, however this is easily the most talented and unique artist in the bunch! I was amazed at how beautiful and detailed his art could be just burning pieces of wood! Talent comes in many forms and this artist is a step above the rest for sure!

Also check out our thoughts on a celebrity meet-and-greet with Ming-Na Wen

Friday, September 27, 2019

Revisiting S.H.I.E.L.D.

I'm a bad nerd. But this past month I've tried to repent of my bad nerdiness in several ways, some of which was driven by my first con, attending FanX a couple of weeks ago with some of my fellow bloggers.

With a busy work schedule that requires me to extrovert far more than I'd like to, I often come home from work and disconnect for a bit while I watch TV. Due to my love of the Office and Friends I've turned to watching those over and over again and before I knew it, I never made it past Agents of SHIELD Season 4 Episode 3 from a few years ago! I've snuck in some Star Trek Discovery over the past few years, but when I attended FanX I regretted my choice to consistently binge on the same stuff over and over again instead of keeping up with a show like S.H.I.E.L.D. and other shows like Flash, Gotham, and more that I really came to love.

I attended Ming-Na Wen's panel and was suddenly hearing questions and answers about stuff that I hadn't seen without as much as a #SpoilerAlert.

Hearing Ming-Na Wen speak and meeting her afterwards, as well as being around so many fellow nerds and geeks really sparked my interest in revisiting S.H.I.E.L.D. I started at the very beginning and have thoroughly enjoyed becoming familiar again with the stories and series.

What really sets Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. apart from other TV shows for me is the integration with the MCU and integration of minor characters from film into the series. Yes Coulson died in the Avengers, but given the Kree integration into multiple Marvel films, the idea of GH325 and T.A.H.I.T.I. isn't so far-fetched.

The character development and diversity of character as well is something that has been super fun to revisit. Seeing Ward throughout the first few episodes and knowing he was Hydra, watching Fitz and Simmons and so many of the initial character interactions was fascinating to watch. Currently almost done with Season 2. I can't wait to get caught back up, and then get caught ALL the way up to where we are currently.

Other Marvel TV series haven't seem to have done as well, so I hope that once Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ends, Marvel/Disney can continue to offer quality TV integrated into its film canon.

I'll definitely be ready for season 7. Not gonna let my next con take me by surprise :)

Image result for SHIELD logo

Also check out our thoughts on Artist Alley

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Legends, Misfits, and (Small and Simple) Stranger Things

A few weeks ago I finished "Stranger Things" Season 3. Part way through the series, I got thinking about how odd the situation was. Not just because of the monster from the Upside-Down and Russian spies in rural Indiana, but because we're rooting for this small group of teenagers to beat all of it. I suppose it make sense though right? Don't we tend to root for the underdogs? The geeky best friend in a chick flick. The (alien) farm boy from Kansas. The skinny kid with asthma (and other things), who just wants to join the army. The outcast. The nobody. The misfit. The small and simple things.

To whatever extent, we relate to these characters. Despite appearances, everyone has insecurities, so we relate to the oddballs. We can't relate to the characters of perceived perfection. They're just too perfect. That's one of the reasons that "Legends of Tomorrow" is possibly my favorite of the Arrowverse TV shows. These are literally B-Team characters from the other shows joining together to be a superhero team. Rip Hunter even told them in Season 1 that taking them from the timeline would make little to no impact. Over the years, that dynamic has changed and characters have come and gone from the Waverider, but the point is still the same. These are lovable misfits. That's why the show is so endearing to me.

And why shouldn't it? Everybody has their day when they feel out of place or like a nobody. Those moments when you're humbled. I think that might be on purpose. To bring in gospel principles, humility is a trait that God desires us to have (see Mosiah 3:19). It's a defining characteristic of charity, the pure love of Christ (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). And furthermore God has a history of using those misfits or nobodies to change in the world! Look at King David the shepherd, Joseph Smith the farm boy, and even His Beloved Son Jesus Christ, the carpenter's son.

Alma taught his son that by "small and simple things are great things brought to pass" (Alma 37:6). The Lord told Joseph Smith that "the weak things of the world shall come forth and break down the mighty and strong ones" (D&C 1:19). So maybe it's not so bad to be nobody. It's okay to be a misfit.

Spoiler alert: those ridiculous teenage boys in Hawkins, Indiana did make a difference. And I'm sure they'll win during Season 4 well. Until then, I'm okay being a misfit. It's part of what makes a Legend.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Westerns, a Heist and More… 13 Obscure but Amazing Star Trek Episodes

(Guest Post by Jared)

Star Trek is one of the largest franchises in history, spinning off multiple movies and six – soon to be eight - television show. While it's best known for being futuristic political science fiction, through the years it has explored dozens of genres. We've had plenty of comedies, romantic comedies, even an episode where the Captain and crew rip off a casino! As a lifelong Trekkie here are some of the most obscure Star Trek episodes you've probably never seen!


1. 'Qpid' (The Next Generation, 1991)

When Captain Picard is reunited with an old flame, Vash, the antihero Q sends the entire crew into a Robin Hood fantasy where they take up the roles of the heroes. Picard becomes Robin Hood and learns he has until the next day to rescue Maid Marian (Vash) or she'll be killed. We get to see the futuristic crew fight with swords and bows instead of phasers and it's exactly as hokey and fun as it sounds!

2. 'Trouble With Tribbles' (The Original Series, 1967)


3. 'Trials And Tribble-ations' (Deep Space Nine, 1996)

One of the most iconic episodes from The Original Series was "The Trouble With Tribbles" a comedy about some pesky alien critters. Later the crew of Deep Space Nine were sent back in time to the events of this episode with Kirk, Spock and the original Enterprise. It's fun because they use green screen to put the new crew into scenes from the original episode. Both episodes have become iconic, and are incredibly fun to watch back-to-back.

4. 'Message in A Bottle' (Voyager, 1998)

Voyager is unique because on their first mission an alien kidnapped them and then died before he could return them home, and as a result the entire show is about the crew exploring new places and cultures as they begin their 75-year journey back to Earth. In the fourth season Voyager finally was able to make long distance contact with home, letting them know they were alive. Andy Dick guest stars as EMH-2 and his scenes and interaction with the Voyager EMH are some of the funniest in all of Trek.

5. 'Little Green Men' (Deep Space Nine, 1995)

The Ferengi characters were perfectly used as comedic breaks during the high war and religious drama that made Deep Space Nine great. In this episode Quark, his brother Rom, and nephew Nog accidentally travel back in time to 1947 Roswell and become the little green men that have been immortalized by conspiracy theorists around the world. Maybe instead of raiding Area 51 in September watch this episode to learn what Area 51 is all about!

6. 'Take Me Out To The Holosuite' (Deep Space Nine, 1998)

Captain Sisko was a lifelong fan of baseball, and throughout the series we occasionally saw references to his love of the game. In 'Take Me Out to the Holosuite,' he is challenged by a rival from his youth to a game of baseball, one Captain’s crew against the other. Sisko and his son teach their shipmates how to play, but they stand no match to the physically superior Vulcan crew. Watching these aliens and humans attempt to play baseball is one of the most funny and oddest things to ever happen in Star Trek.


7.  'A Fistful Of Datas' (The Next Generation, 1992)

Holodecks often play a pivotal role on Trek, and in this episode Troi, Worf, and his son Alexander become trapped in an Old Western story because of some experiments Data is running in another part of the ship. In order to escape alive they must play out the Western. Fun fact: this episode was actually directed by Patrick Stewart!

8. 'North Star' (Enterprise, 2003)

Star Trek Enterprise was a prequel series that took place before the stories of Captain Kirk and his Enterprise; it took fans to the beginning of Starfleet and the Federation. In this episode Archer and his crew come across a human colony living far from Earth, still living out the Old West ways. These humans had been taken from Earth and brought to this planet as slaves hundreds of years earlier, but their ancestors had fought back and destroyed the alien oppressors

Casino Heist

9. 'Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang' (Deep Space Nine, 1999)

Another obscure holodeck episode involves Captain Sisko and his crew robbing a Vegas casino! This time there's no malfunction, but when the crew is visiting their favorite program (a recreation of 1950s Las Vegas) for some relaxation their favorite hangout is bought by gangsters and the entire vibe changes. They decide the best way to get rid of the gangsters is to steal from them before any money can be given to their investors and then leave the holographic gangsters to the mob.

War Dramas

10. 'The Killing Game: Parts 1 & 2' (Voyager, 1998)

You guessed it....another holodeck episode, although this time there's no malfunction. The ship has been taken over by aliens, and they've erased the crew's memory and forced them to run out holodeck programs so they can practice their "hunting" by chasing and murdering the crew in a WWII story where they play out the parts of the French Resistance and their American allies. This episode has a ton of action, some decent comedy, but best of all it has Klingons fighting Nazis.

11. 'Storm Front: Parts 1 & 2' (Enterprise, 2004)

An ongoing arc through Enterprise was the temporal cold war where aliens from the far future were manipulating the time stream and changing the past to suit their needs. At the end of the arc the Enterprise crew is thrown back in time to World War II, but find a very different world than what their history remembers. In a The Man In The High Castle-like twist, it's one where the Nazis are winning, have invaded New York, and all with alien technology!

12. ‘Memorial’ Voyager (2000)

The crew randomly starts to have memories resurface of a dark planet and an intense personal war.  As they begin to investigate how someone could have recruited them for a secret war and then wiped all their memories of it they find something even more surprising. This is a great episode that shows how dark war is for both sides and deep those wounds can go.

13. ‘The Seige of AR-558’ Deep Space Nine (1998)

Deep Space Nine already has the reputation for being the darkest of the franchise and there are so many episodes that feature the dark parts of the Federation’s war with the Dominion, but this episode is one of the very best because of Aron Eisenberg’s performance as Nog. Eisenberg has stated that because of Nog’s leg amputation storyline he has become a fan favorite among veterans at Trek Conventions.