Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Plots Part 3/3: A Perfect Plot


This is the final post about plots. In the first post we explored what the creators of South Park, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, describe what makes a good plot: 

“take the beats of the outline and if the words ‘and then . . .’ belong between those beats . . . you got you something pretty boring. What should happen between every beat that you’ve written down is either the world therefore or but.” 

Then we explored two movies, Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker and The Super Mario Bros. Movie and how they follow the wrong beats using ‘and then’. The second blog post went into how to make Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker a better movie by changing the beats to therefore. In this final post we will explore a movie franchise that follows proper beats: Lord of the Rings.

The Lord of the Rings: Average of 93% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes

The story begins with the introduction of the One Ring, forged by Sauron to dominate all other rings of power and control Middle-earth. It falls into the possession of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins, who then passes it to his nephew, Frodo Baggins, and is therefore tasked to destroy it to prevent Sauron's return to power.

Frodo sets out from the Shire accompanied by his loyal friends: Samwise Gamgee, Merry, and Pippen. Along their perilous journey, they encounter various allies including Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and others such as Boromir, Faramir, but not everyone stays an ally. 

Their quest takes them through the Mines of Moria, the Elven realm of Lothlórien, and the city of Minas Tirith. They face numerous challenges, battles, and moral dilemmas along the way.

Meanwhile, Sauron marshals his forces to reclaim the Ring, which he believes will grant him ultimate power. He sends his armies of orcs, trolls, and other creatures to hunt down Frodo and his companions.

Ultimately, Frodo and Sam reach Mount Doom with the intention of destroying it. However, Frodo succumbs to the Ring's temptation and claims it for himself. Gollum, an ally turned foe who is obsessed with the Ring, attacks Frodo and bites off his finger, seizing the Ring for himself. But in his moment of triumph, Gollum loses his footing and falls into the fiery chasm of Mount Doom, destroying himself and the Ring in the process.

With the destruction of the Ring, Sauron is vanquished, and his armies are defeated. Middle-earth is saved from darkness, but not without great sacrifice. The hobbits return home to the Shire.

I love these movies and I feel that this should be the epitome and standard on how movie plots should be made. What movies do believe follow therefore or but beats? What do you like most about Lord of the Rings?

Monday, February 26, 2024

The Book of Mormon and My Gas Cap

(Guest post by Spencer's dad)

Last time I mentioned that my gas cap cover was frozen. When I pulled the opening lever, the gap cap panel did not open. How was I going to put gas in the vehicle?

My first reaction was to come back to our apartment and find a screw driver. With a screwdriver I could pry open that stubborn panel. What do you think would happen if I had done this? At best it would scratch the paint of the car. If I pushed and pulled hard enough I could bend the panel out of shape. My next tool might have been a hammer, so you can imagine not much good would happen if I went that route.

Before I got out the door with the screwdriver my wife offered another suggestion. We both agreed that something had frozen in the mechanism. She suggested I pour cold water on the panel. This would melt the ice on the sticky mechanism. With one quick splash of water the ice in the mechanism melted and open it went.

Sometimes our hearts are iced over like that mechanism. Fixing the broken pieces of our hearts will often be easier by melting rather than by poking (or hammering).

Reading the Book of Mormon is one of the best medicine available to a broken human (which is all of us). Here are a few promises of blessings we can receive by studying the Book of Mormon.

Peter M. Johnson has a unique conversion story. In this 17-minute video below Peter shares his story in a unique way.

In Brother Johnson’s first (and so far) only General Conference talk he said “Read and study the Book of Mormon every day, every day, every day. My Book of Mormon studies tend to go better when I read with a question in mind…The Book of Mormon contains the words of Christ and helps us remember who we are.”

His formula every day, every day, every day will help us know who we are. Remembering that you are a beloved child of God could help melt the ice that builds on our hearts during the storms of life. Reading Book of Mormon, every day, every day, every day is a simple medicine.

President Russel M Nelson made another simple and promise filled encouragement to read the Book of Mormon:

“I promise that as you prayerfully study the Book of Mormon every day, you will make better decisions—every day. I promise that as you ponder what you study, the windows of heaven will open, and you will receive answers to your own questions and direction for your own life. I promise that as you daily immerse yourself in the Book of Mormon, you can be immunized against the evils of the day. (October 2017 Conference)

Which of these promises do I need most in my life?

A). Making better decisions every day

B). Answers to my own questions

C). Direction for my life

D). Immunized against the evils of this day.

In this chapter of my life I need all four. (Seems like I needed all four promises in every chapter of my life). You and I can have all four of these soul healing cures from one spiritual medicine … Read the Book of Mormon every day.

Try it. Test it. You will be blessed.

Friday, February 23, 2024

What Deadpool and Wolverine means for the MCU

We've talked about why they shouldn't show up in the MCU. 

We've talked about why they should show up in the MCU. 

Now it's official: They're coming. 

The X-Men are coming to the MCU. 

And we can thank Deadpool. 

Why Deadpool?

The X-Men movie franchise has had its ups and downs over the last 24 years, with the movies ranging from meme fodder abominations (X-Men: Apocalypse) to arguably the best super hero movie of all time (Wolverine). The consistent parts in the movies have been A: We love Hugh Jackman's Wolverine, B: We love Ryan Reynolds Deadpool and C: No matter how bad they are we will turn up for the next one. 

Lately the MCU has hit a bit of a slump compared to its heyday, and the future is starting to look cloudy with Kang the Conqueror being recast and his story arc being retooled due to behind the scenes stuff we don't need to get into here, the MCU needs a win. So they're going to pull the tried and true gambit: Take something that has proven to be successful and do it again only with a ridiculous amount of money behind it. And thus the funny/ultraviolent superhero is going to bring the X-Men into the MCU. 

Why the X-Men?

The fact is though that every time even a remote hint of the X-Men is dropped into the MCU the fans speculate until the Brood come home about "What does this mean for the MCU and the X-Men?". I remember following the copyright ruling regarding Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch back before X-Men: First Class and Avengers: Age of Ultron came out and wondering if the X-Men were coming in. 

The fact is: No matter how much I don't like the X-Men mixed in with the rest of the Marvel Universe (Inconsistencies in world-building since why do we praise the guy who is on literally mega-steroids as a hero while call for the death of a little girl with fish gills etc etc) even I felt that rush of giddiness when they told Kamala that her powers are the result of a mutation and the X-Men cartoon music riffed in the background. The X-Men are a fundamental part of the Marvel canon and we have been aching to see them given the same treatment as the Avengers in the MCU. 

Fanboy Gripes

Okay now is time for me to complain about all the things I don't want to see Marvel/Disney do now that they're dragging my beloved mutants into their giant franchise so if you don't want to hear complaining skip down to the end where I put some cute animals dressed as X-Men. 

1: Do not take a multilayered complex story like The Phoenix Saga or Age of Apocalypse and try to rush it through a single movie or episode of something. Looking at you Captain America: Civil War. 

2: Do not shy away from the soap opera levels of messy relationships, false marriages, doppleganger relationships and fake out deaths that make the X-Men so fun to read. These characters are beloved but as relationship partners they are hot messes and we like them that way. 



Wednesday, February 21, 2024

The Fourteenth Doctor

In my last Doctor Who post, I said I didn’t know if I should spotlight the Fourteenth Doctor and the 60th Anniversary together or separately. As a result of doing them in different posts, there’s going to be some overlap with my 60th Anniversary post. Instead of being about the anniversary, this post is going to be more like my posts about the Doctors that I started years ago during my first watch of Classic Doctor Who. Unlike those posts, I have only three episodes to rank. So without further ado, let’s talk about the Fourteenth Doctor, played by David Tennant (again). 

Disclaimer: It was so hard to rank these stories as top, flop, and honorable mention. They were all wonderful stories and I’m so grateful we got three specials with the Doctor reunited with Donna.

60th Anniversary Specials

Top Post: Wild Blue Yonder

This episode was something special, just like when “The Deadly Assassin” featured the Doctor without a companion and like “Heaven Sent” only featured the Doctor (with an image of Clara in his mental landscape). With only two actors on set, playing both the villain and the heroes, this story gives that cold chill that Whovians have come to love. Mix the chill of an unknown alien (like “Listen”) and the uncertainty of shapeshifter (like the Zygons) and finally a race against time (as slow as the countdown was). Always a sucker for a good Doctor Who mystery; I know I couldn’t write those.

Flop Story: The Giggle

I wanted so badly to like this episode, especially after watching “The Celestial Toymaker” earlier in 2023. I already talked in depth about why I struggled with this episode, so I won’t repeat myself too much. In short, with a villain as powerful, mysterious, and mischievous as the Toymaker, I expected more. Neil Patrick Harris did the most amazing job portraying the Toymaker, but the story didn’t match my expectations (maybe that’s the problem?). 

Honorable Mention: The Star Beast

Even if I’d had more than three episodes to discuss, how could this story get at least an honorable mention? We got closure from Donna’s tragic ending with the Tenth Doctor, a happy ending for her and her family (until she accidentally flew away in the TARDIS), and the power of motherhood. I wasn’t a parent when I saw Donna’s initial stories, but I loved the way that Donna talked about Rose. And how Rose helped save Donna’s life. Remarkable!


Donna The Star Beast - The Giggle
Rose The Giggle (off-screen)
Mel         The Giggle (off-screen)

Favorite Companion: On-screen there was only one companion in these stories anyway, but Rose and Mel both verbally mentioned traveling with the Fourteenth Doctor at the end of “The Giggle”. But even if those escapades were on screen, my top choice would have still been Donna. She was my favorite with the Tenth Doctor and she’s my favorite now. Meeting Catherine Tate has only reinforced that. I find Donna’s insecurities relatable and her comments resonate with me frequently, especially now that she and I are both parents. Her care for the Doctor only makes her more endearing. Just like back in “Turn Left” she’s the best friend who was able to compassionately talk the Doctor into taking care of himself. I’m glad the Doctor was able to call Donna and the Noble family his home.

Back to Classic Doctor Who posts next month, as we wait for more Fifteenth Doctor adventures. You can expect more podcast episodes from me and TJ, as we release and record our Second Doctor episodes.


New head-canon/theory: The Fourteenth Doctor later regenerates into the Curator.

Monday, February 19, 2024

LDS Geeks Podcast #12: Getting into Avatar

The time is finally here! Get excited for Netflix's live-action adaptation of Avatar the Last Airbender. If you need any convincing to get into the franchise, join Michael and I for a discussion about why you should get invested in Team Avatar and their journey (based on the animated series of course).


Friday, February 16, 2024

The Brilliance of Fullmetal Alchemist


artist: unknown

Fullmetal Alchemist stands as a monumental pillar in the realm of anime, revered for its intricate storytelling, complex characters, and profound themes. However, while it garners widespread acclaim, it's essential to acknowledge that this anime may not resonate with everyone. This post delves into the reasons behind its greatness and its potential barriers of this captivating series.

artist: Adrian Marcano

At the core of Fullmetal Alchemist's brilliance lies its masterful narrative craftsmanship. The story follows the journey of the Elric brothers, Edward and Alphonse (I tried to convince my wife to name a child Alphonse, but she doesn't like it), as they navigate a world governed by alchemy, seeking the Philosopher's stone, a powerful artifact, to reclaim their lost bodies after a failed attempt to resurrect their deceased mother. This premise sets the stage for an epic saga that seamlessly blends elements of fantasy, philosophy, and political intrigue. The plot unfolds with meticulous pacing, each episode unveiling layers of mystery, intrigue, and moral dilemmas.


One of the anime's greatest strengths is its richly developed characters. Edward and Alphonse are not merely protagonists but vessels through which profound themes of sacrifice, redemption, and the consequences of power are explored. Their dynamic relationship, coupled with a diverse cast of supporting characters, adds depth and nuance to the narrative, ensuring that viewers become emotionally invested in their journey. I personally, like that even though the Elrics are the protagonists, they are not always the strongest.

Moreover, Fullmetal Alchemist tackles weighty philosophical concepts with finesse, inviting viewers to contemplate the nature of humanity, the pursuit of knowledge, and the ethical implications of scientific advancement. The series confronts moral ambiguity head-on, challenging conventional notions of right and wrong and prompting viewers to question their own beliefs.

However, despite its undeniable brilliance, Fullmetal Alchemist may not be universally appealing. For some, the anime's dark and mature themes may prove too intense or unsettling. The exploration of topics such as war, death, and human transmutation necessitates a certain level of emotional resilience from viewers. Additionally, the complexity of the plot and the philosophical underpinnings may alienate those seeking a more straightforward or lighthearted viewing experience.

There are two version of the anime that can be watched: Fullmetal Alchemist and Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood in my opinion the latter is the better series. It follows the manga while the former ending up going a different direction. Both are interesting series and have a lot of overlap, but overall Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood is favored by the fandom.

Fullmetal Alchemist stands as a testament to the power of storytelling in anime. Its gripping narrative, rich character development, and thought-provoking themes elevate it to the status of a modern classic. However, its darker tone, mature themes, and intricate plot may not resonate with everyone. Nevertheless, for those willing to embark on the journey, Fullmetal Alchemist promises a deeply rewarding and unforgettable experience.