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...

Monday, October 19, 2020

Heroes of Ravenclaw

While on my second clinical rotation recently I inadvertently got everyone taking the Pottermore sorting quiz. I’m a loyal Hufflepuff, so I’ve wanted houses outside of Gryffindor to get their due respect. To that end, I’ve written about heroes from Hufflepuff and Slytherin. Now it’s time for Ravenclaw’s turn.

Luna Lovegood

Though not introduced until the second half of the series, Luna became an indispensable part of the team. She was instrumental in getting Harry's true account published in The Order of the Phoenix, she fought at the Ministry of Magic, and after being held captive for months she fought in the Battle of Hogwarts. If anyone thinks Luna shouldn’t be top of this list, you need to re-read the story again.

Moaning Myrtle

In a way the most heroic thing Myrtle did was NOT ratting out the trio as they brewed the Polyjuice Potion in The Chamber of Secrets. However, she also gave them critical information that kept the trio moving forward; she gave them the final clue about the Chamber’s location and she helped Harry figure out the golden egg. RIP Myrtle Warren, but at least your afterlife was well spent… although she did align herself with Malfoy at one point too...

The Grey Lady

Another Ravenclaw that made some mistakes in life, but played an important role in the downfall of Voldemort. While he was at Hogwarts, the Grey Lady (known in life as Helena Ravenclaw) was tricked by Tom Riddle into telling him where her mother’s lost diadem was. But in the end, she was the one who told Harry where it was so that he could use the information to defeat Voldemort.

Mr. Ollivander

He may not have fought, but he was another that gave Harry vital information for his quest to defeat Voldemort. After being tortured for information about Harry’s wand and the Elder Wand, Garrick Ollivander was rescued and he taught Harry crucial wandlore that enabled him to defeat Voldemort during the Battle of Hogwarts.

Professor Flitwick

Though small in size, Flitwick was a mighty Charms master. When things started getting out of hand in the second half of the series, Flitwick fought against Umbridge and Death Eaters. And in The Deathly Hallows he and other professors went out of their way to protect students from the Carrows. 

DA Members

Several Ravenclaws joined Dumbledore’s Army during The Order of the Phoenix. Some were less trustworthy, like Cho’s friend Marietta. However, there were plenty like Padma Patil, Michael Corner, and Terry Boot who stuck with the DA until the end and fought in the Battle of Hogwarts. Of those three, only Padma was confirmed to have survived the final battle.

Who is your favorite Ravenclaw? Which house do you claim? And finally, are you as impatient for the third Fantastic Beasts as I am?

Friday, October 16, 2020

Friday Creature Feature - K9

Over almost 60 years, Doctor Who has featured plenty of iconic companions. Most fans of the modern era of Doctor Who will probably think of Rose, Amy, or Donna. But there are only a couple who bridge the gap between classic and modern Who. One of them is K9. 

He’s more than just a robot dog. Always polite and friendly, he calls all of the Doctor’s associates “master” or “mistress” (except Mr. Smith). He’s got ears like satellites, a nose with a blaster, and an adorably wagging metal tail. He’s shown himself to be capable of interfacing with any other piece of technology, even at a distance. 

There have been four versions of K9 in Doctor Who (not counting spin-off material). Like the Doctor, each version of K9 have some differences, but they share the common features mentioned above. 

K9 Mark I - This original version was created by Dr. Marius in the distant future. After the Fourth Doctor defeated the Swarm, he and Leela were gifted K9. He stayed with the Doctor until she decided to stay on Gallifrey after the Sontaran attack. 

K9 Mark II - The Doctor claimed you have built this K9 while Mark I was still around. He traveled with the Doctor and Romana as they searched for the Key to Time. His travels continued as the Doctor and Romana got stuck in E-Space. He finally opted to stay behind with Romana when the Doctor left E-Space. 

K9 Mark III - This model of K9 was sent to Sarah Jane Smith after she’d left the TARDIS. So in December 1978 she met him and he stayed around for her adventures for decades. He showed up in “The Five Doctors” living at her place. He ended up sacrificing himself in 2007 so that he could save Sarah Jane, the Doctor, Rose, and Mickey. 

K9 Mark IV - The latest K9 (as far as we know) was left with Sarah Jane after Mark III was destroyed. He joined her on her adventures with Maria, Luke, Clyde, and Rani. He stabilized a black hole and helped the Doctor find the lost Earth. Eventually he moved away to university with Luke, where he stayed until the end of the Sarah Jane Adventures.

Not much is known about what happened to the last K9 after the end of Sarah Jane's spin-off. Earlier this year during lockdown, it was revealed that he went with Ace after Sarah Jane’s funeral. Maybe someday we’ll see K9 again. As far as we know, Mark I, Mark II, and Mark IV are still around. So anything is possible. Maybe K9’s return will bring us the return of Leela, Romana, and/or Ace. I suppose anything is possible when you’re working with this good dog.

Monday, October 12, 2020

35 Pics to Make You Smile

You ever had a blah day? 

You ever have a blah day when you're supposed to write a post for a blog? 

Well, here's the result: 35 pics to make you smile from someone who was having a blah day.

I'm pretty sure this is how most listicle sites started.