Friday, April 29, 2022

A Wound, a Stink Spirit, and Some Gold

If you are the parent of a toddler or two, chances are you’ve encountered your fair share of #%*£?~@:&!!&#% (insert name of horrible kid video on YouTube here). The amount of times my son has asked for “cars toys!!” or “hickory dickory dock hippo!!” only to respond “NO!” every time I ask if I have found the correct video would be enough to make me pull my hair out… if I actually had any.

Anyway, you can imagine the utmost joy I feel now that my kids actually let me show them some Studio Ghibli films. It all started with Totoro. For the first time since they got sick of the Cars films, they will actually sit (or chase each other around like Mei and the little Totoro) for the entire length of the film! It’s amazing. Life goals right here.

So I’ve been introducing them little by little to some of the other entries in the Ghibli repertoire, most recently Spirited Away. Side note and fun fact, the Japanese title is 千と千尋の神隠し (Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi), or “the spiriting-away of Sen and Chihiro”. Kamikakushi means to be hidden by the “kami”, which can be translated as “gods” or “spirits”. I wondered how my boys would do with the film, and though it took a few tries they actually watched it with me.

So let’s talk about the scene with the Stink Spirit. Everybody in the Onsen knows that something is up. Before that point everybody had been complaining about Chihiro’s stench as a human, but they quickly forgot when they smelled the foul odor and saw the mass of sludge and giant pustules, leaving a wash of vile liquid in its wake. Intent to give Chihiro the most difficult job, Yubaba commands her to show the Spirit to his bath.

Chihiro bravely situates the spirit, calling down to Kamaji for another herbal soak. As the water pours she notices what she refers to as “a thorn” sticking out of the spirit’s side. With the help of Lin, Yubaba, and a bunch of the other employees, Chihiro successfully pulls the thorn out, only to find that it’s actually a bicycle handle, connected to a mangled deluge of metal garbage that had somehow been hidden within the spirit. It was fascinating to see just how much gunk had been stuck inside, but once the final bit was pulled free, Chihiro saw him at last for what he truly was: not a Stink spirit at all, but a Luck spirit.

How often do we find ourselves bogged down under the weight of so much gunk? Whether self-inflicted or perhaps to result of circumstances beyond our control, how much garbage are we carrying within? Do we go along with the descriptions, perceptions, or labels other people place upon us, when the truth is that we are so much more than we might appear? The true nature of the spirit was only revealed after a LOT of effort, at the hands of multiple people… Sometimes we need help from others to get to the bottom of our wounds, and sometimes it just takes a moment of courage to get in there and discover what is keeping us bogged down.

Also of note, as water drained away from the scene, many specks of gold were left on the ground, washed out with the released muck and garbage. When we actually address the thorns in our side, what gold do we find? Further understanding about ourselves and the circumstances we are in? A greater sense of compassion for others who may experience similar thorns? An increased capacity to empathize with or support those around us?

Whatever the case, I hope we can learn to deal with our thorns in healthy ways and not let them fester. May we take courage like Chihiro did, and face our thorns and problems head-on.


Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Kingdom Hearts I: Summary

With the announcement of Kingdom Hearts IV, I decided to replay the games to understand the story better. I don’t have a PlayStation, but Kingdom Hearts is currently available for PC on EPIC Games. If you are interested in playing, there are sales that happen throughout the year that makes the game cheaper.

I played the game as a kid, and I thought the idea of having Disney and Final Fantasy mixed together was awesome. However, I remember the story getting very confusing when I played Kingdom Hearts II. I learned as I grew older that there were games in between Kingdom Hearts I and II that you should play to understand the story. But in order to play them you had to own different game console, Nintendo DS. With Kingdom Hearts IV being announced, I decided to give the series another chance and play them all to gain an understanding of the story. I recently finished playing Kingdom Hearts I and, in this post, I will summarize the main story. 

Kingdom Heart I Main Story Summary

Sora (the main character), Riku (his best friend and rival), and Kairi (Sora's love interest) are leaving destiny island to explore new worlds. As they are about to leave on their raft they are attacked by the heartless---enemies that steal hearts. While this was happening Kairi is taken by a robed figure (Ansem) because she is one of the seven princesses of light that can open a hidden world (end of the world) that leads to the door of darkness where Kingdom Hearts is located. From this invasion Sora gains the keyblade to fight against the heartless while Riku decides to follows the darkness believing that he is stronger than the darkness, that it won't have the ability to corrupt his heart and give him a chance to leave this island. Riku invites Sora to follow him, but Sora refuses and they fight each other. By the end of the fight Sora is teleported to Traverse Town, another world. 

At Traverse Town he finds many iconic Final Fantasy characters that were driven out of their home (Hollow Bastion) and finds refuge on this planet. During his time there he runs into Donald and Goofy who was instructed by King Mickey to find the Key bearer, in the realm of light (the universe that they live in). Mickey at this time is off on his own adventure in the realm of darkness to find the other keyblade there, in order to close the door between both realms. Sora, Donald, and Goofy team up to fight the heartless.

As Sora goes from planet to planet sealing away the heartless (each planet has a keyhole that can be locked by the keyblade) he finds journal entries from King Ansem, ruler of Hollow Baston where Final Fantasy characters reside. These notes explore the paradigm shift from Ansem seeking how to remove darkness from people’s hearts by studying the heartless to becoming corrupt by the darkness. Ansem eventually desires to go to the realm of darkness to find Kingdom Hearts “the place where the world’s hearts connect”. Ansem recruits Disney villains to help him in his quest of getting the seven princesses by promising them what they desire. Through their aid the princesses are all captured and brought to Hallow Baston.

Sora goes to Hallow Baston to save Kairi, who has been comatose since leaving destiny island, and the other princesses. While he is there, he runs into Riku who, like Ansem, become corrupted by the darkness. Even though Riku has been working with the darkness to save Kairi the method to save her is wrong. Riku attempts to take Sora’s Keyblade but is unworthy and Sora and Riku fight. Riku uses the keyblade of heart to fight against Sora, even with that keyblade Sora wins. After the fight Riku’s body is taken over by Ansem and Riku spirit goes to the realm of darkness, where Mickey is. Ansem opens the end of the world by using seven princesses he has captured and leaves to open the door of darkness. Sora goes to Kairi and gains a revelation that Kairi's heart has been with him this entire time while he has been on his adventure. So he takes Riku’s keyblade, the keyblade of hearts, to release Kairi’s heart from him so she can be awakened.

Sora, Donald, and Goofy go to the end of the world to stop Ansem. They are told if they stop him the universe will reset causing Sora to never see his new friends again *Plot hole: we never see this happen in the game so it’s very confusing*. After numerous of trails Sora and the gain find Ansem and fight against him. After defeating Ansem he opens the door to darkness to gain power from Kingdom Hearts to beat Sora, but as he does Sora emphasizes the true nature of kingdom hearts, that even though it dwells in the realm of darkness it is light. The light from Kingdom Hearts coheres with Ansem, destroying him. As Sora, Donald, and Goofy close the door of darkness (to make sure the heartless doesn’t escape) they find King Mickey and Riku helping from the other side to close the door. Riku can’t leave because he was reformed in there and Mickey stays to lock it from that side (he might possible be dead because we don't know how he got to that realm). Sora promises to rescue Riku and King Mickey as the door is closes. King Mickey and Sora use their keyblades to lock the door from both sides preventing the heartless from going to the realm of light.

The story ends with Sora, Donald, and Goofy searching for Riku and King Mickey.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Emily Gilmore's Motherhood Moments

With Mother’s Day fast approaching, I wanted to spotlight an example of less-than-perfect parenting. Emily Gilmore may be the absolute worst at times, but she does have her moments as a mother and grandmother. Here are just a few of my favorites.

Rory’s Dance

While Rory is off at a Chilton dance with Dean, Lorelei struggles with an injured back. Despite her protests, Emily comes to Stars Hollow for last minute dance prep. And despite more protests, Emily sticks around to take care of an injured Lorelei. Sure, the following morning wasn’t a great moment between the two of them, but for that one night we got to see Emily in a loving mother role.

Lorelei’s Graduation Day

She was against her parents attending her business school graduation, but Rory knew better and invited Lorelei’s parents anyway. Emily went way over the top with corsages and cameras, but she meant well. And it was surprisingly well received by Lorelei. In the end, she was grateful for her parents’ attendance. Especially since Rory was absent… but her mistakes are a post for another time.

Defending Against Richard

When her husband goes up against his former partner Jason (Lorelei’s boyfriend) leaving him in the deep end of the business world, Emily actually stands up for Jason. Not for his sake, but because she doesn’t want to lose Lorelei as a result. It’s a little bit selfish on her part I suppose, but the genuine fear of losing her daughter again is striking. 

Buying Lorelei a House

Despite their misgivings about Luke in the beginning, Lorelei’s parents eventually realized how happy he made her and how permanent this relationship seemed to be. So to show their support, they planned on a house as a wedding present. While showing this amazing gift to Lorelei, Emily discovered the troubles she was having with Luke. In the aftermath of Lorelei’s breakdown, it was beautiful to see Emily sitting with her.

During Lorelei’s Divorce

As Lorelei was going through her divorce from Christopher, Emily had a wonderful moment of mothering. Nothing could take the sting out of Lorelei’s divorce, but Emily reminded her daughter of her strengths. She was independent and strong for years without a man. And her mother knew that. She may not have given many pep talks in her mothering career, but her canoe speech is pretty great.

The Gilmore Girls Road Tripping

The series was nearly at an end when Lorelei and Rory planned a trip to attend Mia’s wedding. With Emily tagging along, it could have been incredibly awkward–kinda was at some points. But despite the awkward moments, it gave Emily a chance to see deep inside Lorelei and Rory’s experiences and to spend some genuine bonding time with her girls.

Investing in Lorelei’s Inn

As the series wrapped up, Emily insisted on investing in the Dragonfly Inn. Build a spa? A tennis court? Anything to be financially involved in the Inn. At first it seemed like a way to meddle in Lorelei’s life, but during the final scenes, it became obvious that Emily was just scared. No more Rory. No more financial obligations for school. Would she lose her daughter again? No. Instead of making it a deal or an obligation, Lorelei just simply told her mother “why don't we just talk about it Friday night at dinner?”

She wasn’t the perfect mother. Far from it. But she genuinely cared about her girls. She expressed it in all the wrong ways at times. But don’t we all? So happy Mother’s Day to all the moms. Especially the imperfect ones.

Friday, April 22, 2022

Boldly Going - For My First Time

(Guest post by Brad)

Back in the Summer of 2012, I moved to Chicago (my first of three moves in total to the area). At that point in time I worked as an intern downtown in the Amtrak rail yard. Making an intern wage rate along with living in a city where I knew no one, I had a lot of free time on my hands, which is when I first really got into Star Trek. My college roommate was a huge Trek fan and at his urging I started watching TNG. At that point in time, The Next Generation was on Netflix and I devoured the first couple of seasons during that summer and fell in love with the Trek Universe. I had seen Star Trek 2009, and growing up had occasionally seen episodes of TNG and saw First Contact and Insurrection in theaters. But Summer 2012 was the first time I really immersed myself in Trekdom.

Since then I’ve continued to love Trek. It’s the perfect combination of quality storytelling, science fiction, and just plain good television. Even beyond that, the vision that Gene Roddenberry set is one that gives me hope.

It’s fitting that on the ten year anniversary of me really connecting with Star Trek, and in the city where I first discovered and immersed myself in the Trek universe, that I attend my first Star Trek Convention.

Hands down, an unforgettable experience that reminds me of the possibility of sustainability, equality, and opportunity in a future that highlights the best of our humanity. So this month, I decided to Boldly go where no Bradley has gone before and attend Star Trek: Mission Chicago.

The Good

I don’t know that I’ve ever been around so many people at one time that love Star Trek. Here’s what stood out to me in my experience as the best parts.

Kindness. Our world is experiencing such an intense drought of empathy and kindness. I can’t tell you the amount of times I was able to engage authentically with a stranger and have kindness returned back to me. Complimenting cosplay, talking about favorite episodes or characters, or cheering together as our favorite actors came on stage or came out to their autograph booth, the convention was overflowing with kindness for one another as we celebrated our mutual love of something good. It gave me hope for the future.
Actor Engagement. I’m still smiling like an idiot when I think of the incredible opportunities I had to meet with some of the actors who played my favorite characters on the series. SOOO many of the actors in Trek know what it means to the fans and they embraced us with open arms and open hearts. Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher, TNG) complimented my Trek Shirt. I had a lovely conversation with Alexander Siddig (Dr. Bashir, DS9) about Mitt Romney of all things. I got a hug and a kiss on the cheek from Doug Jones (Saru, DIS), lovely interactions with Kate Mulgrew (Kathryn Janeway, VOY), Nana Vistor (Kira Nerys, DS9), Michelle Hurd (Raffi, PIC), and Evan Evagora (Elnor, PIC). I also enjoyed Jack Quaid’s (Brad Boimler, LD) interaction once he discovered my name was also Brad. He signed his autograph for me “From one Brad to another.” Interacting with members of the original cast like Walter Koenig (Chekov, TOS) and William Shatner (Kirk, TOS) felt like sequences from a dream. I probably spent way too much money, but they are memories and interactions I’ll remember for the rest of my life. 
Vision of the Future. Now more than ever, our world needs Star Trek. Various times throughout the weekend we remembered across panels and other one on one interactions the importance of Gene’s vision of the future and how that now more than ever, humanity needs something to believe in. 
The Endorsement from and partnership with Paramount Plus. We got to see early scenes from Strange New Worlds Season 1 (the first bridge scene aboard the Enterprise in the new series), and a cold open for Lower Decks Season 3. We were the first people in the world to see this content and it was awesome to get a sneak peak.  
The Lower Decks Panel. Lower Decks is a love letter to the fans and the visiting cast members showed up in costume and were sooo much fun to listen to.

Here’s some constructive feedback of things I wish had gone differently.

The Bad

There was not a lot of merch or vendors. Far less than I was expecting. I was still able to burn a hole in my wallet, but I am disappointed that so much of the McCormick Place floor was relatively empty. 
The Lack of TNG Cast. Outside of Wil Wheaton, there were no major characters from The Next Generation at the panels. While the panels and majority of guests made it easy to celebrate “New Trek,” and we had rock stars from TOS, DS9, and VOY all attend, I do wish we would have had more representation from TNG
More food options. The food was good, but there was not a lot of variety and this was a bit lacking.


Honestly, while a little expensive, the amount of positives I have coming from the weekend far outweigh the negative. One or two actors may have seem less than enthusiastic about being there, but the amount of hope, joy, vision, and sneak peeks we got to experience, as well as seeing the first ever live panel for Lower Decks made this three day experience unforgettable. 

I can’t wait to go again and get my Trek on. Thank you Gene for your vision and legacy. Thank you Lucille Ball for fighting to keep Star Trek on the air. Thank you to past and present cast and crew for giving we as fans something that moves us, changes us, and guides us.

Live long and prosper my fellow Trekkies.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Kingdom Heart 4 Announced!


    The first trailer for Kingdom Hearts 4 just came out a week ago, and I could not be more excited!

    We know some things now that we did not know when the trailer dropped. For one, it has been announced that Kingdom Hearts 4 will be made with the Unreal Engine 5 game engine, as opposed to the Unreal Engine 4 that KH 3 was built on, giving huge potential for graphics and physics upgrades from previous Kingdom Hearts games. And it indeed looks like this game in particular will be a departure from Kingdom Hearts usual cartoony, colorful art style, into a more photo-realistic style that we see with many of Square Enix's Final Fantasy titles. 

    It took 6 years from the time Kingdom Hearts 3 was annouced back in 2013 to it release in 2019, due in part because it was originally being produced on Square Enix's in-house game engine, and they later made the switch to Unreal Engine 4. You know what they say, "Don't switch your horse in the middle of the river", or however that phrase goes? I don't think we could expect the same long period of development. I would expect the release of this newest game around late 2024. I'm also surprised that the announcement of KH4 comes just 3 years after the release of KH3 in January of 2019. Though, I'm sure most people agree the last few years have been a blur.

    The trailer showed us some amazing graphics and sneak peeks at upcoming features. Best of all, the scene in the trailer of Sora fighing the Omega Darkside or whatever that big monster was, was actual rendered gameplay, NOT a cutscene. With that knowledge, I retroactively loved that there was no indicitive shimmer on the different ledges, walls, and lamp posts that Sora could jump to like we saw in Kingdom Hearts and Dream Drop Distance's "Flow Motion". I also cannot wait to see the further uses we can finally get out of the Keyblade's Keychain, like we saw Sora use it to grapple higher up. Let me use it like Ichigo's big Zangetsu from the first arc in Bleach, and spin the Keyblade for an attack by the keychain!

    We also saw Streletzia, the sister of Lauriam (Marluxia) come to the door of the apartment where Sora wakes up. She tells Sora that this city called Quadratum is in something akin to an afterlife, which makes sense considering Streletzia died during the events of the Kingdom Hearts Unchained Key mobile game. I'll be very interested to see what that means for Sora, since Quadratum seems to be very much like the "real" world with cars and people on their phones. There's also lots of speculation that this game could finally include newer Disney properties like Star Wars and Marvel, especially considering the graphics change. For now, it's just rumor and things like that come up every time a major Kingdom Hearts game gets announced.

    Tetsuya Nomura, the director for Kingdom Hearts, has also said that they are incorporating old favorite features like the Reaction Commands from KH2. That's what we see when Sora creates that barrier of light block the Darkside's punch. 

    The last big detail that stood out to me, was the logo change. Every Kingdom Hearts game up to this point has had the same font for the logo. The logo for Kingdom Hearts 4 is different, and we now know the reason. Previous games have all been part of the "Seeker of Darkness" saga, with Xehanort as the main antagonist. Now that he has been defeated, KH4 begins a new arc, know as the "Lost Master". There could finally be answers about the Master of Masters and the Foretellers, last seen at the end of Kingdom Hearts 3. While Kingdom Hearts is notorious for setting up more questions than it answers, it looks like the Master of Masters will be the main antagonist for the next set of games.

    Let me know what YOU saw, and what you may be the most excited to potentially see!

    If you haven't seen the trailer, here is the link to GameSpot Trailer's YouTube Channel

    This is my first of hopefully many articles with Latter-Day Saint Geeks. Be sure to check me out on my different socials, which are currently being revived.

Monday, April 18, 2022

The Secrets of Dumbledore

My wife and I celebrated our fifth date-iversary by doing something both of us love: Seeing a new Harry Potter movie. And I came out of Fantastic Beasts 3 with one thought: I need to see that again. I’ll try to avoid spoilers here. However, fair warning, it’s a movie review, so there’ll be some minor spoilers.

Let’s start with what I had issues with.

Without getting into the controversy surrounding Johnny Depp’s departure from the franchise, we got the recasting of Gellert Grindewald going to Mads Mikkelsen. His version of Grindewald was certainly different. That being said, I enjoyed it. So why am I including this in my “issues” section: honestly, I wish they’d have explained why he had a different face. It could have been an interesting twist with being in hiding.

So… what exactly were the “secrets of Dumbledore”? They gave away the answers of Dumbledore’s sexual orientation and his relationship with Credence so easily, that it didn’t really feel like his secrets were even really part of the plot. I feel like the bigger secret was how he felt about himself… but that’s a post for a later day I think.

One last gripe: I missed Tina. The actress, Katherine Waterston, hasn’t made any statement as to why her appearances in this film were so limited. There’s speculation it has to do with having a young baby at the time of filming, but we still don’t know for sure. Maybe we’ll learn someday. Regardless: I missed Tina. I’m grateful we had her small appearances, especially at the end. But maybe this’ll just make me appreciate her even more next time. 

Now onto what I liked:

This movie had a feel of a Harry Potter movie (duh) meets spy movie. There were so many moving parts in this film that I need to see it again to understand everything. So many twists and turns, with secrets along the way (very few of them Dumbledore’s). And honestly who’d have thought Bunty would have such a big role to play in the mystery?

I enjoyed the new addition to the team: Lally Hicks. I’m not sure if she was added to the story because Tina was absent or if she was always intended to be part of the team in Secrets of Dumbledore. Either way, she was a wonderful addition to the team and I enjoyed her chemistry with Newt and Jacob in particular. 

The movie also just had so many wholesome, emotional moments. I’ll admit, some of them were kinda cheesy. But to see Lally and Dumbledore try to build up Jacob was wonderful (that’s a post for another day once I can rewatch the movie). It was also heartbreaking to see Dumbledore expressing his self-doubt (that could be its own post as well). If you’re a person who struggles with self-doubt like me, I think you’ll really relate to Dumbledore in this movie. We all end up broken from our life experiences, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t worthy.

It was great to return to the Wizarding World and Hogwarts again (seriously, the Hogwarts scenes were awesome). I’ll always take more Potterverse content. The movie seemed to wrap things up well for now, which honestly makes me wonder if this might be the last Fantastic Beasts movie. I certainly hope they finish the last two movies, but I’m grateful for another glimpse into this world regardless. 

Friday, April 15, 2022

13 Inspirational Quotes by the Doctor (One for Each)

Anxiously awaiting more Doctor Who. With the Easter special this month and only a couple stories to go until Thirteen regenerates, I wanted to jump back over the past 59 years to some of our previous incarnations of the Doctor. One thing I love about the Doctor, in any body and with any face, is his/her respect for life and the battle to honor it. So here are some all-star uplifting Doctor Who quotes by each of the Thirteen Doctors, because we could all use more positivity in our lives.

“The least important things, sometimes my dear boy, leads to the greatest discoveries.” (The Space Museum)

“Our lives are different to anybody else's. That's the exciting thing. Nobody in the universe can do what we're doing.” (The Tomb of the Cybermen)

“Courage isn't just a matter of not being frightened, you know. It's being afraid and doing what you have to do, anyway.” (Planet of the Daleks)

“There's no point in being grown up if you can't act a little childish sometimes.” (Robot)

“For some people, small, beautiful events are what life is all about!” (Earthshock)

“Planets come and go. Stars perish. Matter disperses, coalesces, forms into other patterns, other worlds. Nothing can be eternal.” (The Mysterious Planet)

“You can always judge a man by the quality of his enemies.” Seventh Doctor (Remembrance of the Daleks)

“I love humans. Always seeing patterns in things that aren't there.” (TV Movie)

“You lot, you spend all your time thinking about dying. Like you're gonna get killed by eggs or beef, or global warming or asteroids. But you never take time to imagine the impossible, that maybe you survive.” (The End Of The World)

“Some people live more in twenty years than others do in eighty. It's not the time that matters, it's the person.” (The Lazarus Experiment)

“The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice versa the bad things don’t always spoil the good things or make them unimportant. And we definitely added to his pile of good things.” (Vincent and the Doctor)

“I don’t need an army. I never have! Because I’ve got them. Always them! Because love, it’s not an emotion. Love is a promise.” Twelfth Doctor (Death in Heaven)

“Love, in all its forms, is the most powerful weapon we have. Because love is a form of hope. And like hope, love abides. In the face of everything” (Demons of the Punjab)

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Why You Should Read Tower of God

There are a lot of new entertainment merging, and it has been great. I, like many of you, have been enjoying the new marvel shows and movies, I am excited for Dr. Strange to come out. This is a great time for superhero fans. However, the hard part is waiting for the new releases. During this probation period I have discovered a Korean comic that quenches my desire for new marvel material. “Tower of God” written and illustrated by S.I.U. (Lee Jong Hui) is uniquely beautiful. You can access the comic free on webtoon which releases a new chapter every week and has 500 chapters already available. The first season (13 episodes, 79 chapters) of this comic was aired in 2020 on Crunchyroll. If you want something new give this comic/show a try.

“Tower of God” branches off from biblical references to create its own story. Here are some of the similes that Tower of God has:

  1. The tower is an allegory of the tower of babel in the Old Testament.
  2. The main character is a similitude of the Savior (like Superman, Neo, Gandalf, Ashland, etc).
  3. Sacrifices for the greater good happen.
  4. 10 tribes of Israel, 10 great families.

The comic provides a diverse cast of characters with no sexism or sexist remarks. Gender does not determine how strong or weak a character is. The language is clean. The illustration is beautiful with no lewd images.

            The objective of the adventure series is to reach the top of the tower. Like most comics or anime this webtoon has typical but stimulating fights. To go up a level in the tower competitive games are played where strong characters may be at disadvantage. in order to win involves strategy and optimizing the use of their team. In the story weak characters progress along the tower while stronger ones are left behind.

            The one complaint I have about “Tower of God” is we are introduced to a lot of characters. Some of them will be present for a while, but then disappear for a hundred chapters, or more, as they go on their own pilgrimage. It is hard to keep track of the entire cast, luckily this is a comic, so we have the benefit to learn their name and see their faces so when we see them again, it is easier to recognize them unlike other novels like “Wheel of Time”.

No Spoilers Overview:

            We start by following a boy named 25th of Baam (Baam for short) who has been living in a cave all his life, with no interactions with anyone until a girl name Rachel finds him. The comic starts with Bam chasing after Rachel who is entering the tower. As she is being teleported to it, she tells him that she must climb the tower to see the stars. After she leaves he wills himself to go to the tower to find his star, Rachel.

            While searching for his star, Baam forms a party with two other characters, Khun, a blue haired genius, and Rak, a two-legged alligator and a comic relief. This party becomes more than a group of allies they become friends. They become close because of how pure and genuine Baam is. He doesn’t know how corrupt the tower is and how hard it is to be raised in it. Everyone he meets in the training ground wants to keep him pure and therefore ends up aiding him in his journey to climb the tower. He breaks boundaries by making friends with those who should be his enemy. As he is making friends, he is becoming a star to them as he pursues to find Rachel.  

Monday, April 11, 2022

Resistance is Futile!

(Guest post by Q)

Growing up one of my favorite shows was Star Trek Voyager. Which leads me to my favorite villain. The Borg!!!

I always found the Borg to be fascinating.

In Voyager we learned quite a bit about them. 7 of 9 was my favorite character, how she escaped and got her humanity back.

I always thought in a way even though we didn't care for their tactics and assimilating everyone were they really that bad?

Well recently with the new show Picard their story is expanding. At the end of Voyager the Borg were dealt some serious damage in the Delta Quadrant.

In season 1 a Borg cube is being salvaged for parts and technology and we later learn that many Federation star ships are retrofitted with some of these upgrades.

I just started watching Season 2 of Picard and I am fascinated by the prospect that the Borg having been beaten back may want to form an alliance with the Federation. Is this a ploy or can both the Borg and individuality co exist?

The Borg Queen fascinates me and I can't wait to see what follows this season.

Friday, April 8, 2022

You're the Real Gift, Kid

Let’s talk about Bruno.

I have watched Encanto so many times in the past few months, and most of them WITHOUT my kids. The story is relatable and fresh. The characters are vibrant. The music is … well, LMM is a genius. But I really think that the reason I keep coming back to Encanto is because I identify so closely with Mirabel. I just thought it was because I sometimes feel different, and maybe a little effervescent. But after my last Madrigal Marathon, I realized that there are certain energies at play with more characters than just Mirabel. And this speaks to me.

Abuela wants structure and order. She holds on too tight sometimes. She's not the bad guy, she's not doing anything wrong, she’s not “the villain in your history”. She just wants to hold on to her family. 

Mirabel is shaking things up, finding new purpose, injecting life into her sisters. As she says, she is trying to get others to “open your eyes.” She’s not messing things up, she’s not endangering the magic, she’s not the villain either. Mirabel is never given a gift. Her real gift is empathy and joy and love. The fact that she’s alive is a miracle. 

What they never really address in the film is that Abuela is the only other person who doesn’t have a gift. She can’t do magic, she can’t do any of the things her children and grandchildren can do. Abuela’s real gift is organization and order and a lack of chaos. Abuela’s gift isn’t as flashy as her progeny’s gifts. And it’s not as coveted as Mirabel’s gift. But Abuela’s gift is essential to the household. She is stern, but she needs to be, to keep the family together. But Abuela is also afraid of the future, and so she shuns Bruno. Bruno, who is the literal embodiment of the future. 

Mirabel sings that she wants to heal what’s broken. Abuela says that the family is broken. How does Mirabel heal things? How does she save the miracle? She brings Bruno back and reunites him with his family. She heals the family. She saves the miracle. That act of love and empathy IS the miracle. And when Mirabel brings Bruno back, the first thing Abuela does is hug him. She embraces the future. 

I want to heal what's broken. The gifts I've been given in my life are my empathy, my enthusiasm for life, and my ability to connect with others. I've been broken by trauma over the years, and I'm surrounded by people who are broken for various reasons. As I embrace the future and open my eyes, I see myself, and I can heal what's broken.