Friday, March 31, 2023

Uncle Iroh: Best Mentor EVER Shown Anywhere

One common reaction to Avatar: The Last Airbender is that Nickelodeon shows aren’t supposed to be this good. Uncle Iroh is no small reason for this.

He holds his own against Ron Swanson, Jack Donaghy, Mr. Miyagi, Yoda, Gandalf, Kelsier, and Dumbledore. You name a mentor, Uncle Iroh surpasses them all. You name an iconic pop-culture-mentor-moment, and Uncle Iroh has one to match it. And this is no controversial argument. Uncle Iroh is a true fan favorite.

The mentor is an essential component of the hero’s journey. AtLA pulls a very interesting move by featuring the antagonist's mentor, and makes us love him to pieces. Writing about Uncle Iroh is both intimidating and a lot of fun. The show pulls off a powerful redemption arc for his nephew, prince Zuko, while also slyly revealing a redemption arc for Iroh as well. All the profound moments with Iroh are cushioned by numerous jokes and gags. We always want to see more of Iroh, because we can his humor makes him approachable.

Uncle Iroh bends fire and lightning. He defies insidious fire nation officials who he once led, like Admiral Zhao and his conniving younger brother, Fire Lord Ozai. He just so happens to have been first in line to inherit the throne of an evil oppressive empire, but was betrayed and exiled. Oh, and he’s a member of the secret organization that helps to orchestrate the Fire Nation’s downfall, the White Lotus.

And he makes a mean cup of tea.

He is often played early in the show as the comedic relief. He finds joy in his hobbies, cheering people up, and isn’t afraid to show off his skills in the strategy game, Pai Sho. One can barely capture all the ways AtLA pivots between Uncle Iroh's character dimensions, which shows how carefully they crafted depth into this man. He feels so real, his different displays of character never feel forced or strange.

Prior to the beginning of AtLA, Uncle Iroh has spent years recovering from the loss of his son. Episode 15 of season 2, "Tales of Ba Sing Se," shows Iroh doing acts of kindness around the city of Ba Sing Se, including de-escalating a man who attempted to mug him. Rather than fight and subdue the would-be criminal, Iroh sees the man’s humanity and desperation. His quick thinking saves the picnic basket in his hand. 

The reason Iroh has become such a forgiving and caring man is demonstrated at the end, when the picnic basket turns out to be part of a moment he has planned to spend in remembrance of the son he lost at war, in Ba Sing Se, years and years ago. The song he sings, Leaves from the Vine, has taken on a life of its own beyond the show, expressing loss and grief that words alone cannot express. It also reveals why Iroh has sustained such powerful convictions that carried him through his nephew's abuse and exile from a nation he once gave everything to serve.

Makoto Iwamatsu, usually known as Mako, voiced Uncle Iroh for most of the show. Mako sadly passed away prior to the airing of Tales of Ba Sing Se, and was replaced for future episode by Greg Baldwin, a student of Mako. At times, fans have asked Baldwin to sing "Leaves from the Vine," but he refuses. He says that song "belongs to Mako." Dante Basco, the voice of Zuko, has also expressed deep love and appreciation for Mako.

Iroh and Zuko eventually are captured by the Fire Nation. Zuko is returned to his place in the royal family. Iroh, on the other hand, is imprisoned. He pretends to be full cuckoo-pants, while secretly training himself into full beast mode. He then uses his recovered muscle and escapes his prison cell and rejoins the White Lotus, the organization which has been waiting for the return of the Avatar.

Iroh and Zuko are reunited in the camp of the white lotus, after Zuko joined the Avatar’s team, through no small effort of his own. Zuko collapses before going inside. He says “My uncle hates me, I know it.” Iroh was kind in every way but Zuko fought and rejected him. When Zuko finally enters, before he can complete his apology, Iroh rushes forward and embraces him. Uncle Iroh is clearly relieved that his efforts have resulted in sparing Zuko at least some of the regret that he felt after losing his son at war.

Forgiveness and humor come easily to Iroh. He shares his life-changing wisdom through advice and walking beside the not only Zuko but, Aang, Toph, and others. Mentors are there in a story to guide a character toward their destiny. As phenomenally written characters sometimes do, Iroh has become a symbol of the guide we all want in our own lives. It just so happens the AtLA is particularly rich in examples of the humanity of its featured mentor. It turns out, even just one such guide can make a huge difference even in a terribly difficult and traumatic life. Our growth as people stems from determination and perspective exactly like what Uncle Iroh demonstrates through a little old show that aired on Nickelodeon in the mid 2000s.

Well done, AtLA. We're looking forward to the Netflix live action remake later this year with much anticipation.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Why You Should Be Excited For Super Mario Bros.


The super Mario Bros movie is coming out April 5th and this could be the best video game film to ever be released. In this post I will go over 5 reasons why you should be excited for the Mario movie.

1) Chris Pratt Voicing Mario

I have heard some controversy about him voicing Mario over Charles Martinet, the original voice actor from the games. We don’t have much detail on why Charles Martinet wasn’t hired to voice Mario, it could be his age (being over 67) or his availability. However, he will be voicing Mario’s Dad. Either way, Chris Pratt is the second-best option after him. He has shown to be successful as a voice actor as evident in Lego Movie and Onward. Both movies were entertaining and very well received. Also, While listening to the trailers he does a good job being his own voice, but also sounding like Charles Martinet Mario.

2) Nintendo’s Animation Studio

Another reason that this movie has the potential being the best video game adaptation it is being released by Nintendo's own animation studio! 

Sonic 06 image from game. Yep they Kissed

In my opinion the best video game adaptation has been Sonic so far. The Sonic movie was released by Sony pictures, but the games is made by Sega. It may have been better if Sega made the movie instead of outsourcing it to Sony, however Sega has been known to produce awful sonic games. . . . I’m talking about you Sonic 06.

I believe that since Nintendo is in charge of making this movie and this is the first movie coming from their animation studio that they will do there best to make this movie successful. If it is then more Nintendo adaptations might come out, Zelda, Super Smash Brothers, etc. How fun would it be to see these beloved games being made into decent movies?

3) It is Fully Animated

One solution that could have made the Sonic movie better is to have made it fully animated. There is so much that can be done in animation that looks awkward if it was live action. I am so grateful that the Mario movie will be fully animated. The movie looks just like the video games which is awesome. I love seeing the 3D Mario stages that has been teased in the trailer as well as the Mario Kart scene, and Luigi Manson references. The animation looks beautiful!

Honestly, I hope that this upcoming movie will make a reference to the live action Super Mario Bros. that was made in 1993. Whether it's by breaking the 4th wall  making a live action Mario movie reference or stating that Mario’s last name is Mario. Any reference to that awful movie will make me laugh.

4) Voice Actors Cast

I have already talked about how Chris Pratt is a great choice to voice Mario. I should also give a shout out to the other cast members because they are great choices for this movie. Most of them are fans of the franchise and you know that they will be performing their best. For example, Jack Black is going to voice Bowser. Initially I thought that was a weird casting choice, but after watching the trailer I am confident that he will do well as the voice of Bowser. Also, the comedian Keegan-Michael Key who is known for substitute teacher skit will be voicing toad. I bet he will have some comedic relief in the movie.

5) The Story

The last reason why this movie could be the best video game adaptation is the story could be good. The movie seems to have a similar story from the video games, but also be unique. Like the video games Mario gets ready to fight against Bowser to stop his plans from conquering the world, but what is new is Princess Peach will be helping Mario instead of being captured.

I also think that there will be some side stories that will be told that true fans have been speculating about, but have not been confirmed yet. Like something about Mario and Donkey Kong history with each other.

I haven’t seen a movie in theaters in years since the pandemic but this movie I am planning on seeing in theaters with my spouse. I think this will be visually appealing, having a good cast and story, and being released by Nintendo itself. If you want Nintendo to make more movies, then you may want to show support by seeing this movie in theaters.

Monday, March 27, 2023

Gilmore Girls Workout

If you want to be like the Gilmore Girls, this workout (and working out in general) might not be for you. But if you’re wanting to burn a few calories to balance out the calories from your Gilmore-esque takeout, turn on an episode of Gilmore Girls and try this workout. 

Disclaimer: While I am a licensed physical therapy provider, I am not a personal trainer or a medical practitioner. Partner as necessary with your doctor prior to engaging in any diet or excise programs. If any of these exercises cause increased pain, stop the exercise immediately.
***Exercises updated January 2024 to account for what I've learned practicing physical therapy. This workout is intended to work without any equipment, but feel free to add small dumbbells or bands as you're safely able.

Friday, March 24, 2023

Creator Spotlight: Pokémon TCG RPG


Do you wish that there was a Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) type RPG for Pokemon? Look no further, Joshua Webster a fellow geek can fix that itch.

This is an open access game that Josh has made, meaning that it is free for anyone that wants to play it. All you need is your Pokémon cards, dice, a willing dungeon master (DM), and download field maps that he has created. If finding a DM is difficult, Josh, hosts online sessions as well as in person sessions at the local library in Brigham City.

The game play is simple and fun combining the fun of the video games with traditional D&D gameplay, and a hint of magic the gathering. 

Custom Map to play on

Starting the Game

To begin a game the players will choose which type of trainer they want to be. There are many classes to choose from such as Bug Catcher, Sailor, Artist, Breeder, Generic Trainer, etc. Each has benefits and disadvantages. For example, Bug catchers would get catch bonus on grass type cards and bug Pokemon and all bug type Pokemon attacks get +10 damage, but if you have a fire cards or flying non bug in your team, your bug Pokemon loose attack advantage and abilities. For first time players it is recommended to play as a generic trainer who has not advantages, but also no weaknesses. 

Pokémon Crystal (Gold and Silver)

After creating your character, the next phase is to choose your starter Pokémon. You can choose any companion from the trading card game as long as it is a basic Pokémon and not a legendary. Who would you choose as your starter? From there you can explore the map searching for more Pokémon to add to your six-member party as well as your deck. You can fight gym leaders or team rocket. You can search for legendary Pokémon or catch them all. You can even join team rocket or create your own villainous organization and steal other players Pokémon which seems tempting to me. 

Battle and Evolution

 Pokémon TCG

In order to battle or evolve a Pokémon you must earn energy. Energy can be earned is various ways, such as battling wild Pokémon, Trainers, or doing nothing for a turn. With energy, that is given to individual Pokémon, you can tap it to fight other Pokémon (like Magic the gathering). the card will indicate how much energy is needed to use a certain attack. For example, it would take Charmander two energies to use Ember, or one energy to use scratch (See Above). Battles are turned based so you attack once, then your opponent will, etc. Once all energy is consumed you can do nothing for a turn to untap the used energy or perform a rollout attack which would inflict 20 damage to your opponent and inflicting your Pokémon for 10. If your Pokémon faints, then you turn the card over and the energy is lost, either going to the opponent or disappearing if it is a wild Pokémon. Luckily there is a Pokémon station to heal your Pokémon.

To catch a Pokémon you will have to damage the opposing Pokémon enough then depending on the type of pokéball you roll two dice. If the two dice are individually higher than the remaining HP of the Pokémon, you catch it, if not you have to try it again, 1 = 10 HP. Like the game throwing a pokéball takes up your turn. 

Typically to evolve a Pokémon you must earn energy equal to the amount of HP that Pokémon has. 1 energy = 10 HP. So, to evolve Charmander I must discard 5 energies to evolve it to Charmeleon. Whatever energy is left stays on the Pokémon.


It is really up to the DM to come up with a story, but the basic storyline is you enter a new town with your starter Pokémon and you need to prepare to face the gym leader. You won’t know the gym leaders type unless you face them or investigate the town. Everyone can go at their own pace and the difficulty will change depending how strong your Pokémon team becomes. There are many areas to explore with different types of Pokémon in each area. Many avenues to take in this adventure.


If you are interested in helping another Geek out and you love Pokémon reach out to Joshua he is more than happy to play the game he created. Also, Check out his Youtube channel, kickstarter, and website. He has published another game as well that is like if Mario Kart was a board game. All information about Joshua is posted below.

For downloadable documents (such as maps), here's the link to his Google Drive.