Monday, October 30, 2023

Kingdom Hearts: 0.2 Birth by Sleep - A Fragmentary Passage


artist: Gaozme

This title is the weirdest title for me. Kingdom Heart: 0.2 Birth by Sleep - A Fragmentary Passage (KHBBS 0.2) takes place before Kingdom Hearts I (KHI) and after Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep (KHBBS). I think this title has 0.2 in it because of that; 0 because it happens before KHI and 2 because it is the second Birth by Sleep game. 

Before I get into the summary of the story I want to share with you my experience playing the game. In a previous post I said that KHBBS was one of my favorite games because the game mechanics were the best. This game has the same game mechanics and that made me so happy. We play as Aqua after the events that happened in KHBBS and she starts off at level 50 with the strongest magic attacks/healings. The graphics of the game are better than all the previous HD remastered games/movies I have watched. The shadows don’t pixelate and there are finger nails. So much better than before. The only downside is the main story is only 2.5 hours long. Even though the gameplay is short the story is important and good, like most games.

After the events that took place in Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance (KH3D). Yen Sid wants to prepare for Xehanort by getting seven wielders of light. So far they have three (Sora, Riku, and King Mikey) and two potential candidates in training (Axel and Kairi). Yen Sid wants to recruit the three that were fallen 10 years ago during the events of KHBBS (Aqua, Terra, and Ventus). Mickey explains that he came across Aqua and that she has been dwelling in the Realm of Darkness. Then we flash back to Aqua’s perspective on what has been happening to her over the years.

During Aqua’s time in the Realm of Darkness she lost track of time because time doesn’t exist in this realm. She becomes discouraged because she has been alone for a long time, but she keeps fighting because she wants to protect her friends Terra and Ventus. During her time there she thought she saw them and chased after them through most of the gameplay. Eventually, she catches up to them and learns that they are illusions conjured by Terra illusion. Which makes sense because she left Ventus’ soulless body somewhere safe. Terra explains that he hasn’t been in control of his body for all these years because he is controlled by Xehanort. As the converse Xehanort takes over Terra and learns that Aqua hid Ventus in Castle Oblivion. 

After their confrontation a dark portal consumes Aqua and she is rescued by Mickey who is in search for a keyblade of the dark realm so he and Sora can seal the door to a lesser Kingdom Hearts from the first game. She aids Mickey in his travels and recollects that she has met Sora and Riku before. After Mickey gets the keyblade and before he gets to the doorway that he is going to seal Aqua is taken by the Heartless causing Mickey to follow Riku (who is also in that realm) to close the door. 

Flashforward to the present Yen Sid committed to train Kairi and Axel while instructing Sora, who failed his Mark of Mastery and lost his powers in the process to find a certain hero who once lost his power and reclaimed it. The events from KHII prevent Sora, Donald, and Goofy from using gateways to Olympus Coliseum. Pondering how to get their Goofy recites the phrase “Let your heart be your guiding key”. With that statement Sora uses his key and enters a gateway that emerges. 

In conclusion, I really enjoyed the game yet I was sad how quickly it ended. Before I end this post can I just say that “Let your heart be your guiding key” doesn’t make sense? When has a key led you somewhere? I think let your key unlock your guiding heart would make better sense. Anyways, what is your favorite video game?

Friday, October 27, 2023

Friday Creature Feature - Face Stealer

I would like to introduce you to Koh. He’s a spirit about as ancient as they come, he’s got a voice as deep and velvety as a pocket full of stars, and a great memory.

Also, he collects faces. People, animals, all of the faces are fair game. Let’s spend some time with our creepy friend,  because it’s SPOOKY season, and there’s plenty spookiness in the one they call the Face Stealer.

Avatar Aang enters the spirit world for the second time in Season 1 of ATLA on a mission to speak to Koh, the ancient spirit. He learns that Koh is the one… person… who can reveal where the moon and ocean spirits’ physical forms reside. With this information, Aang will be able to thwart Admiral Zhao’s plan to subjugate the northern water tribe.

And so Aang finds Koh. It turns out that Koh is one of the creepiest beings in the Avatar universe. And, thankfully, Aang learns about Koh’s odd habit before they meet. He has a very specific formula for stealing faces. He allows mortals to come to him for requests of all kinds. Those mortals foolish enough to allow him to see displays of emotion on their face lose it. 

Koh greets Aang, and indicates he has met the Avatar before, and has kept the face of the past Avatar’s lover as a trophy.

Koh is in the approximate shape of a giant centipede, and if your skin isn’t crawling yet you may be totally dead inside. Since you obviously require more unseemly details, Koh proudly swaps out faces he has stolen by “blinking” through them. Any creature that uses eyelids in weird ways like this is, scientifically speaking, is unrefined nightmare fuel. It's not really clear whether Koh believes in testing mortals, punishing them, or using them for a wildly violent form of entertainment.

One of the most brilliant parts of Koh testing Aang is that the ever-whimsical Avatar wears his emotions on his sleeve. Aang’s childlike playfulness and exaggerated exuberance show in so many goofy expressions you can't watch this scene without being on the edge of your seat. Koh challenges Aang to manage his spontaneity and impulsivity, and does not pull any punches in terms of trying to catch Aang with his guard down.

This character was so deliciously and maliciously portrayed I’ve been waiting for ATLA to reintroduce him since that single episode. Researching for this post led me to discover that Koh and Aang do have further encounters featured in a web-based game, which you can watch as a video without interruptions from pesky gameplay mechanics. The game itself is called “Escape from the Spirit World.” It takes place in between seasons two and three of ATLA. Koh returns several times through this game with riddles that bars Aang’s progress toward returning to the physical realm.

Bizarre and spine-tingling character design chills our bones around Halloween time. But you can enjoy the weirdness of Koh any time of the year! Whether it’s in the original series, or through some other incarnation, watch out. Keep your face blank, or Koh will add it to his bank. 

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Artist Spotlight: Joe Meyere

Before Spooktober ends, it only seemed appropriate to do an Artist Spotlight on someone who lives for Halloween. That's right, I'm talking about Joe from our Latter-Day Saint Geeks team. Don't forget to follow Joe's art on social media.

Where are you from and how does that affect your work?

I’m from a small town in central Utah. I used to wander the art museums in my home town and all I saw were portraits and landscapes. I wanted to do something more interesting, something that captured the imagination. 

Who are your biggest artistic influences?

I love Alex Ross who paints comic books-as in each comic panel is a full painting with life models. It gives the heroes a far more life-like quality. I also love Kentaro Miura, the artist of the Berserk manga. I love the detail and shape he gives all his characters. 

Tell me about your favorite medium.

I love anything physical. I admire digital artists but there’s nothing like feeling the raw material in my hands and shaping it into something new. 

Where do you find inspiration?

I am inspired by the little moments that make a moment. The way a character will suddenly realize that they’re in danger, or how an animal can move a certain way that’s unique to that animal. I love to translate that into something fantastic. 

When is your favorite time of day to create?

After dark. I believe that anything done after dark is sacred. 

Describe how art is important to society.

Art is the way society processes the world it exists in. A good example is The Last of Us TV series. While it follows the video game it also has subtle references to the COVID pandemic. The show has become a way to process some of our feelings about the pandemic. 

What motivates you to create?

I want to create something beautiful. I want to add things to the world that make it a more interesting place to live in. I see a blank wall and I think “That’s a shame. Something could go there” and I created something to go there. 

How do you define success as an artist?

I think success is measured in multiple ways. The first time one of my pieces sold at an auction (Albeit a ward auction) I was so honored I jumped for joy. When bots on Instagram tried to scam me for my work I got excited. When Facebook’s algorithm recognized the actor in one of my pieces I got excited. I think success is anytime something happens with my art that makes me jump for joy. 

Does art help you in other areas of your life?

Art teaches me patience with myself when I don’t pick up on something right away. It’s helped me see how to figure out a problem step by step, or see it through other angles. 

How do you develop your art skills?

I am constantly practicing and am ready to create at the drop of a hat. Right now I have three different sketch books that I carry with me everywhere, in case I have a moment and some inspiration. 

What’s integral to the work of an artist?

Patience with yourself. Realizing that every piece isn’t going to be a masterpiece and that some days you’re just going to make art. The point isn’t to make something perfect, the point is to make something. 

What memorable responses have you had to your work?

I drew some fanart from Spelunky 2 of a walrus madam in a seductive pose. When I showed it to my stepdad he said “What’s wrong with you?!” I knew it was a winner. I’ve also had several pieces that have disturbed my wife. I’m exceptionally proud of creating something with such a visceral reaction. I’ve done several pieces for my friends after their pets passed away. When they tear up when they see their beloved pets rendered I know I did it right.

What do you dislike about the art world?

I hate the argument over what “Is” and what “Isn’t” art. An original Monet is art. A child’s drawing is art. A piece of fanart is art. Anything meant to make another human feel something is art. 

What do you dislike about your work?

I dislike how my faces sometimes turn out. I can have this amazing scary monster and the human reacting to it to me looks like a character from Scooby Doo. 

What do you like about your work?

I like how I can see tangible progression the longer I do it. I look at some of my old artwork that I thought was a masterpiece and I realize that I must’ve been blind or never seen a human face before compared to what I do now, and I know that in the future I’ll feel the same about my current work. 

What superpower would you have and why?

Telekinesis. That way I could do multiple things without having to get up. 

Your top 3 fandoms of all time

1: Anything with Harley Quinn. 

2: H.P. Lovecraft

3: Disney

Don't forget to check out Joe's latest blog posts 

You can follow Joe's art accounts, Harvey Quinn Studio, on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok.

Monday, October 23, 2023

Halloween Books Recommendations


A grinning Jack-o'-Lantern rests on dusty old books.
Image: Marsan/Shutterstock

As Halloween approaches its always a good time to cozy up next to the fire place with a cup of hot chocolate and read some spooky books.

In this post I will go over five Halloween books that everyone should read at least once in their lifetime. If there is a book on this list that you haven't read this is a good time to read it as Halloween approaches. If there is a book that I am missing leave a comment, I always like to read something new.

1. I Am Legend 

Was 'I Am Legend' Set in 2021? |

This is one of my favorite Halloween books. I usually read this book once a year. When I was a kid I watched the movie before reading the book and I was so confused on why the title of the movie was called "I Am Legend." That curiosity eventually encouraged me to read the book. Let me tell you this book is way better than the movie. Don't get me wrong the movie was entertaining, I like Will Smith movies, but the book is drastically different. For example, in the movie the antagonists are zombies, while in the book they are vampires. 

The ending of the book explains why Robert Neville, the protagonist, is a legend and it is brilliant, it makes sense, and it is satisfying. If you haven't read this book I highly encourage it. However, this book is aimed for adults and have some adult themes that may not be suited for with triggering imagery. For example, the vampires tempt Robert to leave his house in a lewd fashion.

2. Frankenstein

Frankenstein in popular culture - Wikipedia

This is another novel that has not had a faithful adaptation. I get why movies don't, but I believe that if there was a movie that followed the events of the book it would do well in the box office. It would be unique to what has been made and what is being made currently in theaters.

Without going into any spoilers the book follows Frankenstein and his monster, having a father and son theme to it. The father being disappointed in what his son is. His son longing for compassion, being jealous of his father. I really like how the book betrays both perspectives of Frankenstein and his monster and how the monster went down a monstrous path believing that it was his only one. While the father thinks he is being noble, but is as much of a monster as his son.

3. Harry Potter

The Harry Potter Book Cover Art Series: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's  Stone

Not all Halloween books need to be scary or have a sad ending. Even though there are sad moments in the series I enjoy reading this series about a boy that escapes an abusive home to learn magic, gain friends, and defeat the Dark Lord. I assume most of you have read this series before, but if you haven't read it in a while take some time out of your busy schedule and read this relaxing series.

I watched the movies before reading the books and I am sad that Peeves was never in the movies. I hope that he will be present in the TV adaptation that will be happening.

4.  Hallowe'en Party by Agatha Christie

Things Get Spooky For Hercule Poirot In The New Trailer For A Haunting In  Venice - Future of the Force

I have been sharing a lot of classic Halloween books, but this one is a less known book by a classic author so I thought I would recommend it.

For those who may not know Agatha Christie is one of the most well known murder mystery writers. Her series is as much of a classic as Sir Athur Doyle who wrote Sherlock Holmes. Many of her books have been made into television shows, BBC radio drama, and movies. Her most recent book that was made into a movie is "A Haunting in Venice" which is based off of this book. Most of her novels follows Hercule Poirot as he solves the crime.

In this novel a 13-year old girl named Joyce claims to have seen a murder at a Halloween party. At the end of the party she is found dead, drowned in an apple bobbing tub. One of the attendees brings Hercule Patriot to investigate the murder and Joyce's declaration. Will Hercule Poirot solve who the murderer was? The only way to find out is to read the book or watch the movie. 

To be honest I have not watched the movie yet so I don't know how accurate it is with the book. So It would be best if you just read the book. It's good to read.  

5. The Road

The Road: Viggo Mortensen e l'arte di essere padre

Have you ever read a book and thought about it days, weeks, and months after finishing it? "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy caused me to ponder the message long after finishing the book. It may have been because the story follows a father and his son and when I read it I became a recent father so the message stuck with me longer because I love my children. It could also be that the story is so compelling that you don't have to be a parent to enjoy the message. Either way if you want to read a rousing book I would recommend this novel.

The story follows a father and son as the journey on foot in an post-apocalyptic world. We don't know what caused this world to become this way, but it is and the father is trying to raise and protect his son from the natural man in the world that would do anything for a meal. The father does his best to keep his morals and be one of the "good guys" with the help of his son, but it becomes hard when food is limited. 

This book has some dark themes to it that are not suitable for people that only want to see good in everyone. Meaning they like the bad guys to be mild like Dr. Doofenshmirtz from Phineas and Ferb. This book is not that way. To drive home the message of staying true to being one of the "good guys" even in dark situations, McCarthy doesn't leave anything to the imagination.    

Friday, October 20, 2023

Character Spotlight: Team Rocket

I try to do at least one villainous blog post each October and I knew this year I wanted to talk about Team Rocket. The problem became choosing between game and anime iterations of the members of Team Rocket. And then which Rockets to talk about! For now I’ve made the arbitrary decision to focus on the Team Rocket trio from the anime. So without further adieu…

Prepare for trouble

Make it double…


Let’s start with the femme fatale who sees herself equally as a thug and as a princess. Through various flashbacks over twenty years, we get instances of Jessie in nursing school, in a bicycle gang, and at Pokémon school. Eventually she joined Team Rocket and was partnered with equally inept James (not before developing a rivalry with Cassidy). When arriving in Hoenn, Jessie starts competing in Pokémon contests under an alias and constantly searches to be in the spotlight. She’s certainly attention-seeking, which I’m sure is no small part because of basically being abandoned as a kid. 


In contrast to poor Jessie, her partner in crime came from affluence, but was no less abandoned. Emotionally stunted (in my opinion) because of his parents’ constant direction, he was betrothed to overbearing Jessebelle. So he ran away and made his way to joining the same bicycle gang as Jessie and eventually joined Team Rocket. James has a certain kind of self confidence that I admire. Doesn’t matter if Jessie has talked him into crossdressing or if he’s befriending a new Pokémon friend. He just enjoys being himself, so I can only imagine that’s why he ran away from his engagement. 


An alley cat from the beginning, Meowth taught himself to speak and walk on two legs like a human to impress a girl… only to lose her to a Persian. That's probably a contributing factor behind his inferiority complex to Giovanni's Persian after joining Team Rocket. Probably doesn't help that the Boss shipped him off with Jessie and James and kept the Persian.

Team Rocket Blast Off

When the series began, our Team Rocket trio was menacing and had some standards for their captures. But it wasn't long before the bumbling buffoons became comic relief, going after Pikachu and any other minorly interesting Pokemon. With every episode, they had new gadgets, Meowth-shaped balloons, and ended up blasting off into the distance. Comic relief villains through and through. Other than about two-thirds of Unova (in which they were surprisingly dark), you were more likely to get solid puns than successful poaching. But that's why we love them. More chaotic neutral than any sort of evil. And they’re relatable. It’s fun to see villains in kids’ shows that are relatable, instead of just doing evil for the sake of evil. In fact, we have many instances when Team Rocket helps the good guys more than the bad guys (sometimes even against other Rockets). It’ll be interesting to see what kind of villain shows up on the new iteration of Pokemon–I’ve yet to watch it… not even sure if it’s dubbed. 

In the meantime, I’m going to continue watching Pokemon Sun and Moon on the Pokemon Channel. Maybe one of these days our anti-heroes will find something worth catching and keep it for more than five seconds. Happy spooky season to you and all your villains!

Bonus trivia/Reminder: Our Team Rocket trio appeared in the main events of Pokemon Yellow

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

FanX 2023 Journal


(Guest Post by John)

My friend Mike and I went to Fan X this year. We were able to get on the train and I have to say that was a fun experience in itself. First off I gotta see Neo (Matrix) and I asked him why didn't you just fly there and he was like "oh he wasn't in the mood." Second off we got on the train and we were able to find some seats fortunately. I was sitting next to mad Eye Moody, professor Sprout and Haggard. Everyone had such impressive costumes. I was especially impressed with Mad Eye Moody, he 3D printed his staff, and glued it together it took quite a while; quite impressive. The conductor was fantastic when he got on the intercom to tell us which stop to get off of that would help us to get off for a fantasy adventure. He told it in such a fun way. For example, you've now entered the mothership where warping North for all your ghouls and goblins, then he told us to live long and prosper may the force be with us; and he add a lot more to that, but that was just an old snip bit. 

Mike's wife put together a scavenger hunt for us. We set off to do it all. 

FanX Scavenger Hunt:

1. Someone dressed as a character from a book that has NOT been made into a movie.

2. Someone you know out of costume. 

3. Most creative costume 

4. Someone dressed as an animal, place, or vehicle. 

5. Best makeup 

6. Dr. Who character 

7. Someone dressed up as a character from a movie that is not based on a book. 

8. Someone dressed as an animated character.  

9. Someone who doesn't do the dressing up thing.  

10. Someone in a costume that Mike's wife would totally wear 

On the way I found number 9. A guy went with his GF and didn't dress up. 

In years past when I've gone, I've mostly stayed on the second and first floor just looking and seeing and taking pictures of people. I normally had a better costume so people took pictures of me as well. Mike took the time to look at all the schedules and pointed out some things that might be extra fun and I looked into it as well. This con was definitely a little more interactive than past ones. Our first problem was finding our way into the Salt Palace, we had to go to 3 different entrances to get our passes. A press badge gets you into one additional room other than what most people can get into; the press room. On our scavenger hunt we passed by these girls that were dressed up in the best anime I have seen thus far in Fan X. However, I had no idea what anime was called other than I've seen it before somewhere. Mike has that info

We went to 255 to check out the science lab, and had a physics lesson. It was shorter than we thought it would be. I thought it was fun, Mike being a Physicist thought it was pretty lame as he has performed better ones before. 

We went down to the main floor and I saw some really cool things. I have to say I love the creativity of all the people who went. Every costume, everything they're trying to sell, even the decorations on the wall of their booth is creative and amazing. There was a picture of Pizza Hut Jimmy pasto and some war hammer stuff which is awesome. I stopped by this booth koldfire role playing games llc, that had a different role playing game system that they put together. They wrote the book and dressed up as the part which is #1 on our hunt. The main floor has many different themed areas, and that is where we went next. 

Star Trek, Star Wars, and Doctor Who. Great photo opts. Also taking care of #6 on our hunt. We got pictures of wizards, and #4 I know it's an anime of some sort of cat creature. Then we went to some panels. One being anime that should have stopped at season 1. Very true on all the selections they choose. I only watched sword art online, and I agree season 2 sucked. Then we went to room 255 again, and checked out the Star Trek Artemis simulation. Since not everybody showed up we got to try some of the stations I was on, which was really easy as just point shoot point-and-shoot and we were the first group to make it through the entire mission without dying which was a bonus because I don't like to die. 

As we were going back down to the main floor I found a girl with in my opinion the best make-up #5. I was looking for an author this year to buy the next book in the monster hunter series, but he wasn’t there. I took more photos of costumes. Then we went back to 255 and looked at the NASA programs. We learned that Osiris-REx It's supposed to be dropping a probe back down on the salt flats the next day. It was rotating around an asteroid and picked up some rocks and brought it back. Then we went up to room 355. I got a picture of my friend Paul who is a DM and out of costume #2. Paul offered to drive us home. Woot woot.

Monday, October 16, 2023

Friday, October 13, 2023

The Marvels Binge List

If all goes well, I’ll finally be back to the movie theater in the coming month. We’re vaguely planning on taking our three-year-old to the new Paw Patrol movie, but you can probably guess from the title that I’m not writing about Paw Patrol today (note to self: blog post about why Rubble is the best pup on the Paw Patrol). So instead of the pups, let’s focus on three marvelous ladies headlining in the MCU’s next month. So here’s what you need to review to be ready for The Marvels.

Captain Marvel (2 hours 4 min)

By no means is she the first Avenger (see Captain America), but she was the one who inspired the Avengers Initiative. I don’t understand the hate that Captain Marvel gets and I don’t think I’ll ever understand. First time I saw this movie, I really enjoyed it. Now that I have two daughters, I like having a powerful female hero, who refused to lower herself to the standards of a man who had oppressed her.

Avengers: Endgame (3 hours 2 min)

I was vastly disappointed in how little Endgame used Captain Marvel. A bit at the beginning and then a power house during the final battle. I had expected her to be part of the main action (at least somewhat). Instead she was just somewhere up in space being underutilized by the Avengers. Disappointing. Biggest thing we got from her was a bad haircut.

WandaVision (9 episodes)

Pivot to another one of the Marvels, as Monica investigated Wanda’s incident in Westview. After multiple times going through the Hex, someone was blessed with super powers. Interesting to see her only exploring the beginnings of her powers in WandaVision before the series ended and she was taken away to Fury’s ship.

Shang-Chi (2 hours 12 min)

I’d watch this movie again just for the heck of it, but Captain Marvel only appears in the credit scene. Again, underutilized. Even for a credit scene. At least it establishes the continued connection between the Avengers (or at least between Wong, Captain Marvel, and Banner).

Ms. Marvel (6 episodes)

I had so many hopes for this series. Mostly hoping they’d have re-introduced Inhumans, but instead they hinted at Ms. Marvel being the first official mutant (and yet we’re no closer to getting the X-Men). But this is probably the part of The Marvels that I’m most excited for. Seeing Kamala fangirl over meeting Carol Danvers is going to be a sight to be seen. Especially after seeing Captain Marvel suddenly appear in the Khan home.

Secret Invasion (6 episodes)

Another series I had so many hopes for (but that was my problem, as I previously wrote about). Again, I hoped they’d re-introduce Inhumans (come on, Marvel, where’s Quake!?) but instead we got a weird super-powered Skrull. As if Skrulls aren’t powerful enough as it is. With how this series ended, I definitely lacked closure on everything with Fury and the Skrulls… but maybe some of that will be resolved during The Marvels. Please?

And in the meantime, while I wait for The Marvels, I’m going to keep watching Loki Season 2. I enjoyed the premiere, but we’ll see how the rest of the season goes. Curious how this season will proceed, as this may be the last time we see Kang before Phase Six. Who knows?

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Now Presenting... FanX

(Guest Post by Spencer F)

Celebrities, fans, authors, creators... so much of the comic convention experience is the panels presented. Whenever I've described to others what I did at any convention, why I enjoy it so much, the panel programming is high on the list.

So this year for FanX I decided to experience panels from the other side of the stage. Early in June I submitted 5 panel suggestions in the hope that at least one would be accepted. Imagine my surprise and excitement a few weeks later when I was notified that 4 of them had been accepted! Now, I had assisted with occasional panels in the past, but going from assisting with ONE to planning and presenting FOUR in the same convention is quite the jump!

The programming committee wants panel submissions to be presentation-ready before submitting. I absolutely didn't do that, and it meant last-minute work the night before for each panel. Fortunately, the panels were spread out across the days, so we were able to take that time to discuss, prepare, and polish.

On Thursday I presented "One and Done: Legacy and Other Non-replayable Board Games" with my wife and a gaming friend. We talked about Pandemic Legacy, Risk Legacy, Seafall, the Unlock and Exit series of games, Gloomhaven, and several other titles. The thesis was simple: non-replayable board games are worth the cost and certainly worth playing. The turnout wasn't huge, but I think the audience enjoyed it, and we certainly did. 

That night we stayed up late prepping for two panels on Friday: "The Rise of Modern Board Gaming" and "Bluey: Taking Advice from a Cartoon Dog." There were five panelists for the first: those from One and Done along with my brother and another friend. Here I should have prepared better. I didn't have a good list of questions prepared and failed to turn it over to the audience earlier. I'll definitely learn from that in the future; either prepare a lot of my own questions or turn it to the audience earlier. I wish I had simply had the panelists introduce themselves, describe their credentials to present, then gone to the audience for discussion. Live and learn.

Luckily, we prepared well for the Bluey panel. There were over 300 attendees! This one was just my wife and I presenting and we had made really good slides. The intro and topic slides all matched the colors and font of the show, we had 20 printed bullet points, talked about several exemplary characters, and finished with some examples of parenting failures to remind us that the Heelers aren't perfect, then some audience comments. I was especially impressed by my wife presenting and speaking in this one, and the audience applauded when we finished. Someone even set up a tripod and filmed the entire presentation, which can be found on YouTube. We were actually 2 minutes late after going across the entire Salt Palace after the board game panel, so I accidentally skipped our own introduction as spouses and parents. Ah well, someone asked about our family during the audience comment time.

Finally, two friends and I presented "Grand Master Luke Skywalker" on Saturday. This was specifically about Luke from the old canon, the Expanded Universe or "Legends," as it is now known. We made it clear at the beginning that we were there to talk positively about that version of Luke and weren't there to talk about the Disney version at all. The audience wouldn't have it, though, and twice asked our opinion on Disney Luke. We tried our best to sidestep the questions and stay on topic, and also got hit with some really good questions and thoughts from the audience.

Coming out of this weekend was the most fulfilled experience I have had at a comic convention. Already the other panelists were talking about doing other panels next year. But I will know a lot better then how to prepare and run a successful panel. Some thoughts:

  • Always give time to introduce all the panelists and explain the credentials. Especially because we are coming as fans, rather than true subject matter or industry experts, this is important;
  • Know when to give the time to the audience;
  • Prepare well before the night before;
  • Strive to present something and in a way that you would want to attend;
  • Remember that a convention is a place of joy, and you are part of that joy, so be happy, and have a wonderful time

Monday, October 9, 2023

Judge Doom - Disney's Most Terrifying Villain

The other night I was doom scrolling TikTok before bed (my normal ritual) when a clip from this year's Disneyland Halloween party came up showcasing the new villains appearing at the parade. 

And my blood runs cold. 

It's the Judge. 

All Black and All Business

For the uniniatied, Judge Doom is from Who Framed Rodger Rabbit?, a pinaccle of animation that holds up to this day. The villain, played by the usually delightful and everyone's wacky grandpa Christopher Lloyd, is a law enforcment official tasked with keeping the antics of Toon Town from getting out of hand. His solution: a mixture of "turpentine, acitone and benzine", called the Dip. It's an acid that liquifies Toons, effectively killing the immortal creatures perminently in the most gruesome way possible. 

Judge Doom, with his black frock coat, hat and glasses that make him look like a somehow even more goth version of Alucard from Hellsing, is a menacing figure all to himself. The thing that first tips him from basic villain to childhood trauma enducing nightmare is when he slowly lowers a Toon shoe into the Dip and we watch it die slowly as it's disolved. He then brings out his hand covered in what is presumably ink (but is definitely coded as blood) and flexes it for Bob Hoskins. Now remember this was in 1988, long before the argument about violence in cartoons would really take hold with The Simpsons, Family Guy and Bevis and Butthead. As children we had never seen anything like this till now. 

Oh, but it got so much worse. 


Now we really enter spoiler country but the film is over 30 years old so live with it. We find out that Judge Doom isn't only the person who is comitting all the murders and framing Toons for them but that he himself is a Toon and is trying to get the deed to Toon Town so he can bulldoze it and get a freeway, and that he's the Toon who killed Bob Hoskin's brother by dropping a piano on his head. This revelation comes at another traumatizing point when Doom is slowly run over by a road roller flattening him like a pancake. He then and he starts talking in a high pitched voice with red glowing eyes,  performing general Toon stuff like getting squished flat and stretching. Picture all the fun stuff Bugs Bunny and the gang used to do but what if they were doing that to a person who couldn't bend and stretch, it would be the makings of a horror movie. Judge Doom is eventually killed by, once again, slowly melting in a pool of his own Dip while he cries out in pain. 

Thinking about it, this movie has a lot of people dying slowly. Are we sure this is a children's movie?

Now He's Back

I know I talk a lot about Who Framed Roger Rabbit? but I think until recently I'd mostly blocked out Judge Doom from my memory, because as a kid I remember being absolutely terrified of this monster. Interestingly I don't think it's because of what he'd do to me but what he'd be willing to do to the innocent and fun-loving Toons I'd grown up loving and which were featured in this film. Remember this is the film where Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse were featured prominently together, and where Dumbo gets fed peanuts through a window. Doom wasn't just willing to displace them by evicting Toon Town he wanted to slowly melt it in acid and revel in the screams of the anthropromorphic flowers and birds. This dude was sick. 

The Disneyland Halloween party now features Judge Doom standing on a platform on the trick-or-treat line, interacting with guests like a nightmareish stage magician, complete with his own little magic trick. In front of the waiting crowd, Doom will pull out a struggling Toon shoe, open a vat of Dip, and just like in the movie slowly torture the creature to death. 

Fun for the whole family, right? 

No wonder I had nightmares that night...


Friday, October 6, 2023

Second Doctor Revisited: "The Highlanders"

Breaking into the Second Doctor era, I was surprised to enjoy "The Highlanders" so much. The purely historical episodes were not my favorite (which is interesting because I also highlighted "The Romans" in the First Doctor era). But it was a great display of the Second Doctor's character and an introduction to his longest running companion.

When I first learned that Doctor Who was dreamt up as an educational show, all I could do was wonder how Daleks fit into a history lesson. And then you get episodes like this and I imagine this is the kind of educational-ish episode the creators had. On a related subject, please note how the Doctor shows absolutely no consideration for aberrations through history. A far cry from the First Doctor insisting that Barbara could and should have no impact on the Aztecs.

It was great to see the Second Doctor begins to show his personality, with disguises, voices, and accent. "I want a hat like that." All I could think of when I heard these lines was the Eleventh Doctor energy. What other incarnation of the Doctor had such an affinity for hats? And yet we got two moments of that Matt Smith trickling back down the Doctor's timeline. "I would like a hat like that." Though it should be noted that the Second Doctor was seen admiring a fez in the "Prisoners of Time" comic. We can only hope he bought it.

There's this trope in Doctor Who where the TARDIS team gets split up. If it weren't for that, the Doctor would have actually booked it out the situation. This story was easily that classic "TARDIS team gets split up and has to get together before they can leave" motivation. Especially since the Doctor can't truly risk changing anything about Scottish history, it made for an interesting dynamic.

I was excited to watch/listen to this story because of the introduction of Jamie McCrimmon, who would become the Second Doctor's best friend and long-time companion (he'd stay with the Doctor until his forced regeneration). With how important the Doctor/Jamie bromance is to this era, I was a bit surprised by the last minute invite into the TARDIS. It made sense as a way to get Jamie to safety, but I was confused and put off a little that there was no thought of friends or family left behind.