Monday, November 23, 2020

#GiveThanks

     The tradition of posting online what you're grateful for around this time of year is nothing new, but did you notice that before Friday the November gratitude posts seemed a little more scarce than in earlier years? It's almost as if it was hard to think of things to be grateful for in 2020. How odd I wonder why....

    President Nelson's call to give thanks has ignited this year's wave of thanksgiving posts right on time. The holidays were just not feeling all that holiday this year, since at time of writing gathering with those outside of one's household is off limits in Utah and the numbers of COVID-19 infections are still going up. This was starting to shape up to be one of those cheesy holiday specials where somebody comes by and steals Christmas. 

    Which brings me to the geeky side of my post: This reminds me of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas", the original animated piece not the Jim Carrey one or the CGI thing.  If you remember when the Grinch is listing all the things he hates about Christmas (Which I get) at the very end he says "And those Who's big and small will stand hand and hand, and start singing". After the Grinch steals Christmas he stands on his mountain, hand to his ear to hear the misery his great theft has caused. This was the world last week, as the holidays grew closer, the joy robbed and distorted in them. Anxiety uncertainty and fear raged as it looked like the holiday spirit just wasn't going to come. 

    Then, over the hills, the #GiveThanks posts started arriving. Like the Who's song, "it came without ribbons, it came without tags. It came without packages boxes or bags!" It came because of the call of a prophet, reminding us that the holidays don't come from a store, or tradition, or normality, the spirit comes from within us. It comes just the same. 



    This is the first time in a very long time that the Christmas movies are right, that the holidays are in danger. Thanksgiving looks pretty good but once however it's celebrated happens let's try to keep the momentum going and remember what's really important about this time of the year. With the holidays pillaged we need to double down on what's really important, prove that we don't need the excess to celebrate, that we don't need a good year to have a good Thanksgiving, what we need is our faith, in each other and in our Father in Heaven. 

-JOE


Friday, November 20, 2020

Sorting Disney Princesses into Hogwarts Houses (2/3)


It’s been a year since the launch of Disney Plus and a year since the premiere of Frozen 2. So with Disney and the Ice Queen herself on our minds, I want to dive into another round of the sorting hat with our Disney Princesses. This time we’ll have another six princesses, including one unofficial princess. If you missed the sorting of the first six, check them out here.

Ariel - Gryffindor

This month marks the thirty-first anniversary of Ariel’s adventure on dry land and since then she’s become the only Disney Princess with an on-screen child. When I went into this movie, I was thinking she’d be Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw because of her blind loyalty to Eric or her curiosity of the human world. But instead she just wanted to explore and adventure with the humans. She came off very Hermione-ish in the end, so she ended up in Gryffindor. You can meet her at Magic Kingdom in her Grotto and there’s an Ariel’s Grotto character meal you can attend at California Adventure.


Merida - Slytherin

She’s one of the few official Disney Princesses to lack a Disney Prince, despite having three suitors. Instead of being married off for political purposes and accepting her fate as a typical princess, Merida demonstrated various Slytherin traits in order to change her fate. She’s resourceful and cunning and she was determined to preserve her identity. That sounds pretty Slytherin to me. You can find her near the Princess Pavilion at Disneyland if you ever want to meet her.


Anna - Ravenclaw

Throughout Frozen and Frozen 2, Anna wasn’t your typical Ravenclaw. Her blind loyalty to Hans and Elsa could have easily placed her in Hufflepuff, but she reminded me a little too much of Luna Lovegood for that. She demonstrated individuality, creativity, wit, and wisdom throughout their adventures. In fact her wisdom was enough that Elsa felt comfortable leaving this Ravenclaw in charge of Arendelle at the end of Frozen 2. You can find her at Epcot or you can visit her at the Animation Studio at California Adventure.


Elsa - Ravenclaw

Like her sister, Queen Elsa showed herself to be a Ravenclaw. She was sharp, wise, and creative in how she defended her kingdom. And honestly she’s a classic overthinking, like plenty of Ravenclaws I know. With her ice creations in both movies, I don’t think anyone can deny her creativity either. All these things put her in Rowena’s charmed house, Ravenclaw. Like her sister, she can be found at Epcot and California Adventure.


Rapunzel - Gryffindor

She may look like a naive Hufflepuff, but the more you watch Tangled and its television show Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure, the more you’ll see her as daring, brave, adventurous, and chivalrous. Throughout all her adventures, she had to do what was right. Even if it meant believing in her lost friend Cassandra. That type of chivalrous honor is exactly what Gryffindor stands for. You can find her at the Princess Pavilion at Disneyland and at Princess Fairytale Hall in the Magic Kingdom.


Giselle - Hufflepuff

She may never be an official Disney Princess, but she’s our honorary princess for today. I was tempted to put her in Gryffindor, because of her brave and chivalrous display in saving Robert. However, her central character traits centered more around those found in Hufflepuff: loyalty (to her prince), diligence (in searching for him), and fairness (in how she treated even strangers). If there were ever a stereotypically Puff Princess, it’d be Giselle.

Only five more princesses to go. Where do you think the remaining heroines fit? And how do you feel about the princesses sorted thus far? 

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

The Seven Most Insane Moments of The Boys, Season Two

Spoiler alert: This article contains major spoilers from The Boys Season Two, which is totally insane!

And yes, I mean truly insane. The only thing crazier than the supes is Billy Butcher himself! Well in honor of the Seven, grab a Fresca and read the top seven most insane moments of The Boys Season Two, available now on Amazon Prime.

7. A Nazi Stormfront

Well, if you think Homelander is bad, wait until you meet Stormfront! I mean, it's one thing to be racist. But they made her a Nazi, for Goebbels sake! I mean, she kills that guy in 1972 and says something racist. She kills Kenji and says something racist. She kills all those people in the projects, and just proves that she's racist. Girl has got to go! Maybe somebody should give her an Almond Joy?


6. Ryan gets pushed too far

There’s something about watching Homelander with Ryan that is so unnerving. Cute kid, super evil father. And Antony Starr nails that queer feeling like a boss. But when he pushes Ryan off the roof to see if he can fly? And then Ryan just plops on the ground? What made Becca’s screams and pleas for help even more disconcerting were Homelander’s easygoing attitude about the whole situation. Ugh, talk about unsettling!


5. Lamplighter’s lamplight goes out

Okay, I still think of Shawn Ashmore as Iceman from X-Men. But instead of freezing things, Lamplighter burns things. We all saw that he was going crazy, he was depressed, his mental health was deteriorating. And we knew something big was going to happen. But self-immolation? While Hughie just stood by watching helplessly? That was sad. Burn, baby, burn.


4. The Deep talks to his gills

Things with the Deep are always a little weird. I mean, the guy talks to fish. But talking to his own gills? That’s just super strange. And having Remy from Ratatouille voice his gills? Now that’s just the icing on the cake. But hey, whatever helps him develop some body positivity, amirite? (As long as we don't get a similar scene from Love Sausage. Yikes!)


3. Everybody loses their head

Like, literally. We watched as Jennifer Esposito’s head exploded out of nowhere just as she was about to reveal Some Important Information. I may have choked on my buffalo spice popcorn at that moment. But when the entire courtroom had heads exploding left and right? And then people were slipping on the brains and blood and gore? Oh my goodness, cleanup on aisle seven! Court is adjourned.


2. Girls Get It Done

In the a show called The Boys, it's refreshing to see girls doing the pummelling. And what makes it a truly girl power moment, none of the women use any of their superpowers. When Maeve shows up, she joins Starlight and Kimiko and they just throw punch after kick after uppercut to the Kraut. It's powerful and raw, and so simple. Indeed, they really did stick their boot up Stormfront's Nazi kitty! (Huh?)


1. The boys impale a whale!

This whole sequence was just insane. It was crazy-stupid when stole that ill-fated dolphin in season one. But the sperm whale? It was epic to see him riding Lucy in. But then when it’s clear that Butcher is going to ram the whale? Oh my goodness, that was just outrageous! And darkly humorous to see Hughie covered in whale entrails (always with the entrails), just taking a break from life inside Lucy, like a modern day Pinocchio.


There you have it! Seven insane moments. Makes you wonder if Pippi Longstocking used Compound V...



Monday, November 16, 2020

There Should Be Enough

    The Shire is a place where want is scarce, and toil is usually only found in your front garden. So picture two hobbits, in the middle of the wilderness within Mordor, having lost friends and seen dangers they'd only heard about in stories from the safety of an inn or around a campfire, and still a long ways to go before the end. 

    In the midst of this, our heroes, Frodo and Sam stop for food. Sam gives Frodo a portion of the Elvin Lembas bread, as he says that he's not hungry for it and that there should be enough. 

"For what?" Frodo asks. 

"The journey home" says Sam. 

    A year ago we lived in a version of the Shire, where we could go wherever we wanted without fear. We could see anyone we wanted, we could travel, and fear was relatively rare. Now, like the hobbits, we have been on a journey. This year we have seen horrors we never imagined. Some on the news, some right in front of our faces. We are tired, and we still have so much further to go. Blaming 2020 is all well and good but let's remember, that on December 31st at the stroke of 12 the spell will not be broken, the world will not magically go back, we will still have a long way to go. 

    So do we have enough to get back? 

    Frodo was so focused on the journey, on the one step in front of another with the ring weighing down his soul, that he never thought about going home. In that moment though he realized that Sam was, that this wasn't going to be the end and that one day they would see the Shire again. 

    So what is sustaining you right now? What are you doing to remind yourself that one day the world will change and families will be reunited, trips will be take, and connection will be reestablished with the world? Are you making plans for the world after? Are you rationing for the journey home, or are you lost in the quest? 

 

  

Friday, November 13, 2020

Moroni: The Champion of Isolation

 “And my father also was killed by them, and I even remain alone to write the sad tale of the destruction of my people. But behold, they are gone, and I fulfil the commandment of my father. And whether they will slay me, I know not.” (Mormon 8:3)

As we approach the end of 2020, we finish off a very interesting year. Pandemic, riots, elections. But let’s not forget that we also had the Book of Mormon as our Come Follow Me study this year. And what a year for it to be. 

With social distancing and isolation, it can be very lonely. Whether you’re single and have little human contact outside of zoom meetings. Whether you’re married with kids and can’t find a spare second to yourself. Or whether you’re working from home and your walls are closing in on you. Loneliness comes in many forms, but remember that you are not alone.

Moroni, son of Mormon and final author of the Book of Mormon, spent countless years on his own. His people had been killed and he was being pursued by his enemies. Even before his people had died, they had spiritually killed themselves by rejecting God. He must have felt isolated from the very start. 

And yet he had hope. 

As we finish off the Book of Mormon this year, remember the hope and faith that Moroni had. He spoke of faith, hope, and charity. Even though he had no one left. He didn’t know whether he’d be slaughtered, starved, or translated. But he persevered. 

Mormon and Moroni knew this time would come (see Mormon 8:35) and they knew we’d need the words they’d write. They knew we’d need hope in lonely and trying times. So here are a few scriptures that I love about hope. And I hope they help you.

“Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.” (2 Nephi 31:20)

“For, for this intent have we written these things, that they may know that we knew of Christ, and we had a hope of his glory many hundred years before his coming; and not only we ourselves had a hope of his glory, but also all the holy prophets which were before us.” (Jacob 4:4)

“Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.” (Ether 12:4)

“Wherefore, if a man have faith he must needs have hope; for without faith there cannot be any hope.” (Moroni 7:42)

Because of Jesus Christ, there is always hope.

Monday, November 9, 2020

The Price of Heroism

Breath of the Wild has already been discussed to death on other media outlets, it being the flagship game of the Switch, one of the best games in the Zelda franchise, and one of the best games of all time. Today though, I want to talk about something I realized when I beat the game. 

Ahoy, they be spoilers ahead. 

The Heroes' Journey

A quick recap on the story of Breath of the Wild

Link wakes up in a tomb (been there) and finds out he's been asleep for about 100 years. In the interim Hyrule has gone to crap due to the castle being taken over by Calamity Gannon, a giant ghost-pig monster that has dreams of ending the world. He's being held back by Princess Zelda's magic, but her strength is starting to wain so Link has to get his life together and start saving Hyrule. 

Along the way he's got to get armor, stamina, weapons, hearts and giant magicpunk robots operational to take the enemy down. He also needs to collect photos on his magic tablet that will help wake up his memories of his life, particularly his love of Zelda. 

I Have Priorities I'm not Lazy

Now the game has two endings. The true ending is if you beat Gannon and regain all your memories, and Link and the princess will live happily ever after. Now I'm not a completionism in video games... Or anything really.... I take what I like then leave the obsessive collecting to those with more patience. The part I skipped was collecting all the memories, because I just didn't care I was having fun fighting monsters and doing the puzzles. When I got the incomplete ending though the scene went as follows: 

Link and Zelda stood on the plains, Gannon defeated, and Zelda asks if Link remembers her. Link looks awkwardly at her with Zelda looking disappointed and saying "Oh". The fade to black happens and the game is over. 

Self vs Others

So pretending I'm not lazy let me rewrite the story based on the alternate ending. Link wakes up and is told he is the legendary warrior. As he adventures he sees the land devastated by the darkness unleashed by Gannon. He is driven by his quest to free this land that he vaguely remembers. He's told that he could restore his own memories, but the question is why? The memories have no combat value. They have no access to a secret weapon. They only provide a distraction from the main quest, a quest that already has enough distractions in it with all the people Link is trying to help and little leaf critters he finds. 

In this version, Link sacrifices his memories for the good of the kingdom. He's focused solely on saving Hyrule and its people, and he will figure out his own life once that is over. 

I like this version of Link a lot more than previous versions. Now I fully understand that Link is supposed to be an avatar on which we are meant to project ourselves onto, hence why he never really gets a voice or a personality. In fact in writing this blog I've had trouble keeping the tenses straight and not referring to Link as me, because I was the one making the choices for Link and not him. That being said I projected onto my Link a hero who wants to save the kingdom no matter what, not just potentially sacrificing his life but sacrificing his own sense of self, his own sense of identity. Link thus has a reason to be a blank slate, because he chose his kingdom over himself. 

Happy Ending? 

The argument against this is "What about Zelda?" She's been waiting 100 years for Link to show up and help put Gannon in the ground, and now she's got a blank faced elf and a wrecked castle to deal with. Where's her happy ending? The thing is, this may be the only way they can have a sincere relationship. From the flashbacks we get (well that I did unlock during the story), we see that their relationship was completely based on their quest to stop Gannon. With him gone though they can build a real relationship based on who they are and not what purpose they serve. 

So I say this is the better ending because they get to start fresh. They get to have a relationship with each other, and not always planning a war. They get to be a real couple, and I have no doubt that the two could go on their own quest to fill out Link's photo album, making new memories along the way. 

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Every once in a while both suns shine on a womp rat's tail

Warning: minor spoilers for Season Two of The Mandalorian.

There's a scene towards the beginning of the first episode of the second season of The Mandalorian ("Chapter 9: The Marshal") where a pack of massiffs threaten Mando and the Marshal. Mando surprises everybody by yelling and grunting, and we quickly realize that he is speaking Tusken, a rough language. The pack of massiffs is immediately sedated, and Mando pets the animals as if they were tame puppies. In many ways, Jon Favreau, the creator-writer-director-actor-producer-genius of The Mandalorian, is just like Mando, speaking an uncouth language to calm the angry masses. And yes, the massiffs are the rabid Star Wars fans, who seemingly can never be pleased. But Favreau manages to do it! 

The newest episode of The Mandalorian really disappoints in some ways. No big questions are answered, the overall story doesn't really progress, and the episode really kind of rehashes some of the same themes from the first seasons. Heck, Baby Yoda is barely in the episode! But somehow, despite some choices that may seem like disappointments, the episode is truly terrific! Favreau knows what Star Wars fans want, and he delivers. It's rough and it's a little unrefined, but it definitely satisfied this Star Wars fan! When you watch the first episode, you'll get a healthy dose of action, world building, and lines like "If this thing ever divides or buds, I will gladly pay for the offspring." 

Season Two promises to be really great. The fans are pleased. Boba Fett is in play. And we are ready for some real answers. Season One was something special and really surprised everybody as the first live action Star Wars television show. But as Qui-Gon Jinn said, "There's always a bigger fish." Season Two will outshine Season One ... kind of like a krayt dragon devouring a sarlacc. Here's hoping we get seven more episodes that answer lingering questions, provoke new intrigue, and have kick butt action sequences. Is it too much to hope for a second season that outdoes a first season? Like how an empire striking back outdoes a new hope?

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

WandaVision Binge List


WandaVision is surprising us with a 2020 release date (I hadn’t expected it until 2021 or later at this rate). We still don’t have an exact release date, but if you need some reviewing of our titular characters, take a look at this watchlist. I also included movies featuring more minor characters already confirmed for the show. 

Thor (1 hour 55 min)
This movie is the first of our optional viewing. Since Darcy is set to appear in WandaVision (although we don't know in what capacity). Darcy is one of my favorites (as I've said before) so I'm excited to have her back again. So start with this Thor backstory movie.

Thor: The Dark World (1 hour 52 min)
Another optional viewing to see Darcy. While she wasn't super involved in the action of this movie, she moved the plot along and definitely helped with the final battle (even if she got a bit distracted by her intern at that one point).

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2 hours 16 min)
This is our first movie to actually feature one of the main characters of WandaVision. It might only be the credits scene, but it's still definitely relevant for Scarlet Witch's backstory. If you don't have time to watch Winter Soldier, just google the scene.


Avengers: Age of Ultron (2 hours 22 min)
Wanda's first true appearance and Vision's creation. If you've been following these binge lists, you've already seen this addressed for Black Widow. This time we're focusing on Wanda's growth, from working for Hydra to losing her brother and becoming an Avenger. We also obviously get Vision's creation by Ultron/Thor.

Captain America: Civil War (2 hours 28 min)
While the Avengers have their issues in this movie, this movie gives us our first glimpse of Wanda and Vision's relationship. They ended up on different sides of the Avengers Civil War, but they still showed they had a connection, though it wouldn't be fully explored.

Avengers: Infinity War (2 hours 40 min)
This was the first true appearance of Wanda and Vision's relationship, in my opinion. And just like that we put them in a spot where their lives were on the brink. Especially Vision. He had to die for the Avengers to win, but even then it wasn't enough and they lost anyway.


Ant-Man and the Wasp (2 hours 5 min)
Another optional one for a side character. Agent Woo is set to appear in WandaVision, but we don't know to what extent. He was sort of a side antagonist/comic relief in Ant-Man and the Wasp, so I'm not sure what to expect from him next. I was surprised to see him return.

Captain Marvel (2 hours 5 min)
Our final optional one. This time it's because Monica Rambeau is set to appear in WandaVision. She's getting re-casted, due to the 20+ year time jump between them. Not sure how much Monica is even going to appear in the show, but we'll see.

Avengers: Endgame (3 hours 2 min)
Wanda didn't appear until the end of the movie and the final battle, but it's an important step in the story right? The thing we have yet to find out is how WandaVision is gonna happen with Vision still dead. There are some theories out there, but I guess we'll find out.

What are you expecting from WandaVision? Any theories or things you're looking forward to? I'm looking forward to seeing how it'll play into the Doctor Strange sequel. 

Monday, November 2, 2020

Joe's 31 Days of Halloween Extravaganza

 Halloween is hands down my absolute favorite holiday of the year. Knowing this year, and how the big Halloween parties would be cancelled, the trick-or-treating would be sparse at best, and things would just be a general downer, I decided to celebrate Halloween on my own all month long. 

So I watched a horror movie each day in October. 

Notice I didn't say "Good", "Scary", or "Family-Friendly", though I did try to see movies I've never seen before but near the end had to give up and start watching some classics. 

So be warned. Safety is not guaranteed, but you should be in for a scream. 

I decided that writing a review for each movie would take another month to both write and read, so I'm going to give some awards for some of the best (and worst) films I found out there. 

The films I watched were: 

Hellraiser

Hellraiser 2

Children of the Corn

Elvira: Mistress of the Dark

A Haunted House 

Poltergeist

Cabin in the Woods

Cabin Fever

Frankenweenie

Anaconda

Green Inferno

The Autopsy of Jane Doe

Truth or Dare

Hostel

Species

Midsommar

30 Days of Night

My Bloody Valentine

Wishmaster

Crawl

The Night Eats the World

The Conjuring 2

Night of the Living Dead

Addams Family

Hereditary

Mary Shelly's Frankenstein

Sleepy Hollow

Books of Blood

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Elmo's Gold Star Award for Bestest Monster

If I was going to hang out with any of the monsters from this list it would be the Djinn from Wishmaster. He grants wishes but always with an ironic twist, like the girl who wanted to always be beautiful who he turned into a mannequin, or the opening scene when a guy's skeleton crawls its way out of his body (I have no idea what to wish for to get THAT!). The Djinn was cool and as long as I was careful with my phrasing he'd be a blast to hang out with. 



Eye Fell Off the Muppet Award for Most Disappointing Monster

This was a race to the bottom but that would have to be He Who Walks Behind The Rows from Children of the Corn. This thing gets built up as some big bad pagan/Lovecraftian god and when we finally get to see it the thing is a bad special effect that changes colors. Such a waste. I'd have been happy if it was a guy in a corn-on-the-cobb costume with a chainsaw. 



Immediately Watch Cinderella Afterwards Award for Scariest Movie

To be honest I'm a sick weirdo and don't get scared by things that scare most people. I like possession movies, body horror, and torture movies, so to have a movie scare me is a unique thing. That being said the one that did get to me the most was The Green Inferno, a film about a group of college folks getting kidnapped and eaten by a tribe of cannibals. I won't go into everything that made this movie disturbing, but let's just say I no longer hum while I prepare dinner. 

Wake Me When The Killer Does Something Interesting Award for Most Boring Movie

I'd give this one to Halloweentown, which I attempted to watch but about 20 minutes in my brain started trying to crawl out of my skull so I had to turn it off, so instead I'll give it to Frankenweenie. This was a Disney tribute to the old black and white monster films, but it was just not interesting. After the initial resurrection of the dead dog the plot just meandered until it finally ended in a "Well, I guess death isn't a thing anymore, hooray" ending. 



"I Can't Believe This Was In The Dollar Bin!" Award for Most Surprisingly Well Done Movie

I was honestly scared of this ending up on my worst list, but the 2019 animated Addam's Family movie was such a delight to watch I was disappointed I hadn't seen it sooner. My family grew up on the Addam's Family, both the modern remakes and the classic show, so for another remake I was worried they'd not understand it, or ruin it somehow, but no this was definitely the Addam's Family I love, just with a few modern twists. 



"He's In The Closet Get Him!" Award for Most Obnoxious Character

I'm just going to give this award to all the stoners who made appearances in all these films. Never adding anything to the story but "Dude, where's my pot?" subplots, whenever they showed up I just wanted something to come along and eat them, which I suppose would technically make them an edible. 

Exception is given to Marty from Cabin in the Woods whose pot smoking is actually a major plot point and helps him survive and see a ton of cool monsters. 



The Inside Out Award For Most Unique Protagonist

Like a movie about the secret lives of emotions, this hero was one who found a special place in my heart for not being a cliché or stereotype just there to make it through the movie, and this year the award goes to Elvira from Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. And no, she's not on here for the obvious reasons. Her personality of not caring what other people think, her willingness to find fun wherever she is, and her overall attitude made her a delight to watch, and I'm going to stop here before I dig myself any further into a hole. 



Fool of a Took Award for Most Useless Character

Most useless and most obnoxious are two different things, since as stated before even one of the pot heads came in useful at one point. This award though goes to the dad from Crawl, whose list of bad decisions included A: Not talking to his adult daughters about he and their mother's divorce causing them to blame themselves, B: Deciding that getting on the roof during a flood while surrounded by alligators was a bad idea for some reason, and C: Convincing his daughter that she could swim faster than said alligators. I did like this character at first but by the end I was disappointed he didn't end up as gator food. 



Law And Order With Guest Star Scooby Doo Award for Dumbest Premise

Rounding out the top of this list is the movie that most embodies the question "Why are we doing this?" In this case it goes to Snakes on a Plane, where an international drug kingpin decides that the best way to kill one witness is to fill a plane with deadly snakes and just hope that everything works out. It results in a fun movie but it's the kind of movie where you have to shut down your higher brain function to enjoy properly. 



Supernatural With Special Guest Star Scooby Doo Award for Best Idea Ever

This is the place for the best, most mind blowing concept that a movie on this list had that left me genuinely impressed and reminded me why I love horror movies. Special nod goes to Night of the Living Dead who started the entire zombie genre, but since that was one I'd already seen before this marathon it sadly doesn't get the reward. Other acknowledgements go to the much talked about Hereditary and Midsommar, but since they've received so much attention I feel like they can rest their laurels here. The film though that I kept thinking of after I saw it and was genuinely impressed by was The Autopsy of Jane Doe, a genuinely intense film about an autopsy that goes horribly wrong as it's revealed who and what this person actually was. This was high cinema with a horror twist and I loved every minute of it. 



As I say farewell to October I look at the last two months of 2020 with both dread and resignation, as I know that for me the best has already happened. October is a time when the weird things I'm passionate about become the norm and briefly the whole world is like me, intrigued and obsessed with the macabre and the creepy. I am looking for another theme to do to stay occupied and distracted from the nightmare dystopia that is our world, but till then I'll just be here eating my Halloween candy and remembering the good times, like that time that they opened the basement door and the little girl was eating her father but it's cool because he was a total jerk and the zombies were banging on the windows... 

Saturday, October 31, 2020

A Tribute to Sean Connery

 What can you really say about the legend that is Sean Connery? His life was a patchwork of charisma and success. The characters he played have been discussed, imitated, parodied and envied. So the only true way to show tribute to him to me would be to display his work. 

So here's a showcase of some of our favorite Sean Connery moments. 



What's your favorite Connery movie? 

Friday, October 30, 2020

Salty Dinner Theater - Returning the Flavoring to Life

 In the Beforetime, you would buy a ticket for an evening. Dinner would be served and as you ate the performers would put on a play among the tables, singing and cracking jokes with the audience. Mark Anthony, the Phantom of the Opera, Frankenstein and Annie were all parodied with modern jukebox melodies while the audience sang along and had a wonderful time. 

This was Salty Dinner Theater. 

And they're back. 



Live Studio Audience

Salty Dinner Theater is a dinner troupe that performs in restaurants across the Wasatch front. Tickets are bought ahead of time, and dinner is of course included. These events were enjoyed by my family and friends on at least a quarterly basis, with us singing right along with the performers. I developed a reputation over time with a couple performers and my friends for knowing all the lines to the "Time Warp". 

Now live performances and restaurants packed with customers is for the moment not an option, so for the last year the dinner shows have been cancelled. Imagine my delight though when the announcement came that they found a way to perform- in a safe environment. 



The Drive-In Concept

The answer was a drive-in. The Salty Dinner Theater turned their entire performance into a drive-in experience. The performers stay outside the cars, masked just in case, and the audience watches safely inside. Attending felt like the old days. It felt like for a moment everything in the world was alright. There was music and laughter again. For one night the world was as it should be. 

Salty Dinner Theater is now back with a vengeance, planning next year's performances. Salty Dinner has proven that they're willing and able to upt on safe performances, so believe me we're going to be jumping on as soon as tickets go on sale. Right now it's important to both stay safe and find ways to connect with others, even if it's through a radio and a windshield. Salty Dinner Theater gave my family and I a shard of joy we needed right now, and that's definitely worth its salt. 

For tickets and upcoming events go to Salty Dinner Theater's website here. 

This post was not sponsored by Salty Dinner Theater. 


Monday, October 26, 2020

Your Future is Whatever You Make It

How many times this year have you seen comments on social media like “As if 2020 couldn’t get any worse…” or “Let’s just skip to 2021”? It’s definitely been a whirlwind of a year. But there’s something I can’t get out of my head in regards to 2020. 


“Your future is whatever you make it. So make it a good one.” --Doc Brown

I grew up on Back to the Future, one of my dad’s favorite movie series. This line from the end of the third film has been replaying in my head recently. My wife and I have had this conversation multiple times about 2020. It’s actually not too different from my feelings about New Year's resolutions in a way. 

Yeah we have lots of fun using memes and jokes to cope with a pandemic, with murder hornets, and with anything else we’ve had this year. But in the end, I think we start to believe them. Blaming an arbitrary cycle around the sun for our problems doesn’t help anyone. And nothing will change until we change.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not discrediting the fact that people have gotten sick, lost their jobs, or had other tragedies this year. But memes can only do so much to make life better. 


In Doc Brown’s final line, he explained to Jennifer that they were able to change Marty’s future, because their future was up to them to decide. Just like you don’t need to wait until January to make new “resolutions”, you don’t need to wait until 2021 to improve your life. 

Positive thinking only goes so far, but it’s a start. If you’re in a bind, ask for help. If you’re having a hard time, ask for support. I’ve been blessed this year to have my wife and my daughter to buoy me up and I know not everyone is so lucky. But no one is truly alone.

So take heart. The rest of 2020 is up to you. The rest of your life is up to you. Take a step in the right direction. As Anna sang in Frozen 2, “you must go on and do the next right thing” and as one of my favorite speakers famously said, “The future is as bright as your faith.” If things are going to get better, it's going to start with a choice to do something better.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Joe's Top 10 Family Friendly Movie Monsters

 Monsters, am I right? 

Some of my favorite people are monsters. Some of my favorite character designs are monsters. So let's talk about my favorite movie monsters that can be enjoyed with the entire family!*

*Note: This will not include anime or TV shows whose themes include a monster-of-the-week format, so no Digimon, Pokemon, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, etc. even if they have movies. 

10: Sally

Can we agree that Sally is too good for Jack? He's a skeleton, big whoop, I've killed like a billion of those in Skyrim alone. Sally on the other hand is a living doll stuffed with leaves that can't take damage and can repair herself by stitching herself together, and her detatched limbs can act independently. Plus she's sensible, has premonitions, and isn't afraid to poison her maker like a boss. Among some truly fantastic designs in The Nightmare Before Christmas, Sally is a diamond... In a pile of smaller diamonds... Work with it...



9: William "Billy" Butcherson

As I said in an earlier post, I didn't grow up with Hocus Pocus and so it's not really one of my favorite movies. I like it don't get me wrong, and my favorite part of it is Billy the zombie. The actor is a professionally trained mime and thus brings a caliber of movement to the zombie we usually don't see in the undead. The mouth sewn shut is creepy fun and his outfit is one that I would wear all the time... Maybe after some dry cleaning. 



8: The Bride

We don't see much of the Bride of Frankenstein in Bride of Frankenstein, but what we got became iconic for the last half century. Her awkward movements indicating her recently reanimated body beneath bandages coupled with her intense gaze as though she's angry, frightened and in pain all at the same time makes her far more scary than her beloved. The streak in her hair, a hint at the electricity that brought her to life gives us the iconic female monster. 



7: Smaug

This is becoming a list of movies I don't watch but like one character from, intermixed with me geeking out about female monsters. With that said I hated the Hobbit films. Don't get me started, @ me if you want to argue about it. But what I feel they nailed was Smaug the dragon. Smaug is the OG big bad dragon. He was the template for all the dragons created afterwards in one way or another, and they nailed this guy perfectly. A magnificent fire breathing giant winging across the city causing terror in all who see him, this is a shining point in a very dark wasteland that is the Hobbit series. 



6: Indominous Rex

There's a lot to be said both good and bad about Jurassic World, but nobody can deny how beyond cool the Indominous looks. She can change color, bite through metal and is ready to cause chaos throughout the park. I rooted for this thing throughout the movie, and was sad when they replaced her in the next movie. Coming in close second in this franchise is of course the OG t-rex, who did end up helping take out Indominous, but I got to give this spot to the newcomer. 



5: Basilisk

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was another alright movie, but for me the film picks up once our monster shows up on screen. No, not the Tom Riddle book thing, the basilisk. They build this giant snake thing up so well through the movie, hinting at what it could be and not showing it until the third act, this was a creature of cinematic brilliance. You see this monster uncurl out of Slytherin's mouth and you know it's on. 



4: Dracula and his brides

It's hard to find family friendly vampires. By definition they seduce, eat, and corrupt, but the movie Van Hellsing pulls it off beautifully. The vampires go from lovely Victorian vampires into bat-like monsters at the drop of a hat, making them the terror of Transilvanya. The movie's got some great designs for Frankenstein's monster, werewolves and Mr. Hyde, but the vampires have the most unique and terrifying design. 



3: Judge Doom

Okay full disclosure: As soon as this guy's eyes popped out I was done with this movie. Like little me would leave the room until after he got dipped in acid. I'm of course talking about the antagonist of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the evil toon who killed Eddy Valant's brother and tried to set Roger up for another nefarious murder. He invented the Dip, an acid that is the only thing that can kill toons, which is so disturbing to watch I'm glad we only have to endure it twice. The idea that he was willing to kill all our favorite cartoons makes me shudder to this day. 



2: Doomsday

Another movie that is admittedly bad, Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice for me did have a couple good scenes, but my favorite was when Doomsday showed up and started taking on Wonder Woman. This was an enjoyable battle, even if it didn't make sense and didn't do a lot of justice to the monster from the comic... Why is he on here? Oh yeah, because when he smacks Wonder Woman into a pile of rubble she looks up at him and smiles, which is one of the coolest scenes in all super hero cinema. Yeah, I said it. 



1: The Stay-Puffed Marshmallow Man

Ghostbusters had some great monsters, but nothing is more creative or fun than the giant marshmallow monster that stomps through New York. It has no confirmed kills, it doesn't seem to be the most dangerous moster in the world, but it's one that I would love to see march past my windows, and I would be right out on the street after it explodes. Mmm.... Marshmallow goo...



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