Category Archives: The Geek Life

5 Family Friendly Tim Burton Films for Halloween

I love Halloween. It is one of my favorite holidays and it comes around during one of my favorite times of year. I love the whole month of October, when it begins to get a little cooler, the leaves change color, and when they fall of, they make that incredible crunching sound when you step on them. I just love it. Although I love this time of year, and enjoy Halloween, I have never been a big fan of horror flicks. They’re just not my thing. No, my October movies of choice are usually from my favorite film maker, Tim Burton. To me, many of his films go hand in hand with Halloween. Some are more family friendly than others, however, and your friendly neighborhood Geeky Mormon, is here to give you a list of 5 Tim Burton films that are family friendly, and go great with Halloween. So if you are looking for some fun movies to sit down and watch with the kids this October, you have come to the right spot.

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Talking About El Deafo- a Graphic Novel

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I had a Facebook conversation with a friend a while back that went something like this:

Friend: The book El Deafo. I’m assuming you’ve read?

Me: (after doing a Google search for the book)- No. I’ve never heard of it before. It looks interesting, I’ll have to check it out.

Immediately after, I went to our local library’s website and requested a copy to be placed on hold. When it became available my oldest daughter and I went to the library to pick it up.  She was curious about what the book was and what it was about.

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Raising Gifted Youngsters

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Salt Lake Comic Con is coming up in a week’s time, and I am getting excited. One of the things that I am really looking forward to is participating in a panel. I really enjoy attending the different panels and feel like they are always interesting and informative, and I am hoping that I’ll have something interesting to add when I am one of the panelists, instead of just sitting in the audience. My panel is next Friday night at 6 pm in room 255E, and the topic is Disabilities in Pop Culture. I wanted to take an opportunity to explain why I wanted to be on this panel.

7 years ago, almost to the day, we found out that our newest addition, Eliza, had a hearing loss. We didn’t really know what that would mean for us. The audiologist let us know that it was a permanent loss, and that it was a mild to moderate loss, nothing that hearing aids wouldn’t be able to help. Further tests revealed that it was a particular type of hearing loss that was progressive, meaning it could, probably would, get worse with time. Eventually, she may even lose all of her hearing. This changed our whole world. We had never even considered that our kids would be born with a hearing loss. It didn’t run in either of our families, so it was completely unexpected. It also led to more questions. Our oldest child, Johnny, was almost 2 at the time, and wasn’t talking at all. He had previously mimicked sounds, but lately, that had stopped. It seemed like he was going backward. We took him in to get him tested, and sure enough, he also had a hearing loss, only his had progressed past the mild to moderate phase. His was a severe hearing loss, which is a fancy way of saying he was deaf. In a matter of months, in my mind, I had gone from having 2 normal kids to having kids who were “hearing impaired.” It was an adjustment, to say the least, but eventually we fooled ourselves into believing that we had it figured out.

When our fourth child came along, Lucy would join her older brother and sister as our third deaf child. With her, we decided to have some genetic testing done. That’s when we found out that my wife and I each carried a recessive gene and passed it down to our kids. They said it was a mutated gene. Wait…did you say mutated? Like, our kids were mutants? Like the X-Men? I guess as a geek, I relate to the world in geeky terms. All of a sudden, my kids’ hearing loss wasn’t a disability. It was a super power, a gift.

In a lot of ways, having a deaf child is a lot like having a mutant child in the Marvel Universe. The deaf culture is not well understood by the hearing world. Hearing doctors and audiologists and scientists are always looking for ways to cure the deaf population, while the Deaf (notice the capital “D”) Community doesn’t see a need to be “cured.” Many are proud to be deaf and to be part of that community and part of that history and part of that culture. A lot of hearing people don’t know how to react around deaf people. Do they pity them? Avoid them? How do they interact with them? Usually, discomfort leads to avoidance. My kids even go to a special school for deaf kids with other deaf kids speaking their own language and learning how to be proud of who they are. My kids are real, live X-Men. Fortunately, right now, they are not hunted down and put into concentration camps, but many are still forced to conform to the hearing world, and if you study Deaf History at all, it’s not hard to find examples of hearing oppression that is not dissimilar to concentration camps.

The world is changing, though. We are viewing disabilities in a whole new way, and a lot of that comes from geek culture that has now become mainstream. Maybe it’s because geeks understand what it feels like to be different, to be an outsider, so it leads us to be more tolerant. We understand to value what people can bring to the table, instead of only seeing what they can’t. In any case, I feel like we geeks are paving the way for more acceptance of people of all abilities. Which is awesome. My kids can look at a lot of pop culture and see people who succeeding who are different. Then they see they can do anything as well. That’s why this topic is important to me. I want my kids to look at a world full of heroes who are doing amazing things, whether they can see, or hear, or walk or whatever. Seeing those kinds of characters, like a Matt Murdock, like a Geordi LaForge, like a Barbara Gordon, it inspires my kids to reach for anything and know that really can do and be what they want. It makes me proud and happy to be raising my own “gifted youngsters” and to see the amazing things they’ll do.

What do you think? Who are some of the characters in geek culture who have had to overcome extra obstacles? Let us know in the comments either here, or in our Facebook page.

Inspire and Create

I sat and pondered all weekend of what I would do as my first post on The Geeky Mormon. Should I review the latest movie I had seen or the biggest gossip in the geek world or some intellectual discourse on the finer points of Geekdom. Nothing sat well with me in my mind untilkids I came to this point, “how do my kids see me?”

I am a proud father of 5 kids ranging from 3 to 11 years old. Three girls and two boys, not to be biased they are awesome, but I digress. They each have there own likes and dislikes, hobbies and desires. With a couple, there hobby is to destroy the basement every day when we clean it. Even with all other the differences, we have one common goal and that is to be together as a family.

A couple of years ago I felt like I needed to do something to inspire my kids to do what their hearts desired. When we look at the world we have a lot of people putting our kids down and telling them to stop dreaming. I knew that I wanted my kids to believe they could do amazing things. My mantra in life from that day forward was, “Don’t limit yourself by what you think you can do but what you dream you can do.”  I needed to show that if you believe in something and put the work in to achieving it you can do anything.

Many great people through history have lived to this principle and today we see the benefits of their dreams. If you have the desire you can achieve anything. I wanted to show this principle to my kids, so I began my journey.

I have always been interested in movies, TV, Sci-Fi and comic book universes. I wondered if I could produce my stories and draw the spectacular artwork that is in comic books today. I sat down and began to draw. Wow!! I sucked. I think I burnt my first few sketches due to how bad they were. How was I to teach my kids if I gave up at the first hurdle. This was a big hurdle, I could not draw! I decided to buckle down and study and practice, practice, practice. Slowly I started to see an improvement. Two years later I submitted my art work to the Salt Lake City Comic Con, the third largest comic con in the country to see if I could get a booth. I totally expected a thanks please try again next year, but instead I got an invitation to be in the artist alley.

I did these things to inspire my kids to believe. What happened was amazing. My kids have started to think and dream. My oldest boy William (9 Years old) now produces his own comic strip called The Grumpy Clown. His first few episode of this clowns adventure will be posted very soon. My oldest daughter Hannah (11 years old) a couple of years ago started to write children’s books and she has stored them at her school to allow all the kids in the grades below her to enjoy them.

My youngest three continue to impress me with their creativity and frustrate me with the mess they make.

I think the message from this is that it does not matter how old you are… live your dreams. Take the time and do what you love.

“Don’t limit yourself by what you think you can do but what you dream you can do.”

Salt Lake Comic Con- 10 Tips for Bringing Kids

Can you bring your kids to the convention? It seems to be a question that comes up every time that Salt Lake Comic Con has an event, whether it be Fan X or the actual Comic Con. People who haven’t been before, or people who have never brought their kids before, they all wonder if this event is appropriate for them to bring their little ones. The short and easy answer is yes. The folks at Comic Con seem to realize that we are a pretty family friendly market, and so they try to make their convention as family friendly as possible. It’s really a tough task, when you think about it. On one hand they have to provide enough entertainment and things for adults, while at the same time providing some great things for the kiddos. They seem to improve their balance here with each convention.

If you have never been to the convention with your kids, have no fear, your friendly IMG_0916neighborhood Geeky Mormon is here to help. I have five little ones of my own, which means we are a traveling circus wherever we go. I have also brought them to every convention for at least one day since the first Fan X. That means I know of which I speak, when I speak about bringing kids. We have made our fair share of mistakes along the way, but hopefully you can learn from those mistakes and end up having a smooth and wonderful time at the upcoming Salt Lake Comic Con. Here are 10 tips my wife and I have learned along the way. Hopefully you will find some of them helpful.

1. Bring Snacks and Water

I cannot emphasize enough how important this tip is. Kids get hungry a lot quicker than adults. They are constantly going and using energy and constantly need that energy refilled. At Salt Lake Comic Con, the food is typical of most conventions or major events. It is expensive and typically not healthy. You’re not going to find an organic fruit stand in the middle of the vendor floor. It is up to you to bring the snacks you want your kids to eat and provide them. You will save a ton of money this way, and ensure your kids are eating what you want them to eat, whether that’s organic fruit, or granola bars, or crackers or whatever. At this point, I should point out that the official rule at the Salt Palace is no outside food or drinks. I personally have had no issue with bringing in our own snacks for the kids. I think for the most part, anyone checking bags takes a look at my wife and I loaded down with our 5 little monsters, and they take pity on us. Truth is, I have heard the same from quite a few people with kids- no issues with bringing in food. Water bottles are a must, as well. It is easy to get dehydrated, so bring plenty of fluids, or at least bottles to hold water. They have drinking fountains throughout the convention center to refill the bottles. Much less expensive than buying a water bottle.

2. Plan for Crowds

Each year, Salt Lake Comic Con gets bigger than the year before. The stars and names seem to get bigger, drawing a larger crowd. This year should no different with the likes of Chris Evans and Sebastian Stan and Jenna Coleman appearing at the con. The crowds are going to be huge. Saturday will probably be a record-setting day. There may even be times where they have to stop letting people in. It has happened before. You need to be aware of this and plan for it. Thursdays are typically the day we bring our kids, because they are the least crowded. The important thing to note in that sentence is I said “least crowded.” This is important because “least crowded” is not the same as not crowded. Each day is crowded, so you need to be prepared. For example, we don’t bring our giant double stroller. We bring our umbrella stroller and kid leashes (They’re Mickey Mouse, so we call them “Mickey Hugs.” The kids love them). This makes it easier for us to navigate the vendor floor and there hallways. Whatever considerations you might need to make, make them. It will be crowded. You have been warned.

3. Plan a Budget

There will be plenty for you to spend your money on in the vendor area. Plenty to attract your IMG_2373children too. Be prepared for it. We normally set a budget for the 3 days and bring it in cash so we can monitor how much we have and how much we have spent. If your budget is high, and you don’t feel comfortable carrying cash around, then don’t, but it works for us. The budget is the important part. Your kids will see plenty that they want to buy, whether it’s a cool toy or a picture or food or even face painting. Having a set budget makes it easier to limit what you buy and prevents you from breaking the bank on this one event. My kids expect some kind of print from every show. I shop Artist Alley to find some great prints, and typically the prices are pretty reasonable. Whatever it is you want to get the kids, having a budget will only benefit you.

4. Plan Breaks

Kids cannot go at the same pace for the same amount of time as adults can. They will get worn out. Plan in some times in your schedule to sit down and have a break with the kids. There are typically places you can find to sit down and maybe break out the snacks and water and just sit and eat and enjoy the people watching. Or we have gone into the board game area and picked a family friendly game to try out and sat and played for a few minutes. Just find some quiet place to sit and take a breather. You will thank yourself later.

5. Line Management

Did you know that most kids don’t like waiting in lines? It’s true. You want to know how I know that? It’s because most adults hate waiting in lines. We do it and suffer through because we know that the payoff at the end is worth it. Kids don’t always make that connection, depending on their ages. We try to avoid waiting in a lot of lines with kids. If you are waiting for an autograph, and you have traveled to the con with at least one other adult, maybe have one adult wait and get the autograph, while the other finds another, more kid friendly activity. Find ways to have one person wait, while the other entertains the kids.IMG_2372

6. Meeting Cosplayers

Comic Con can be a magical place for kids, as they walk down the corridors and pass their favorite heroes. That has to be pretty amazing for them. Take advantage of the opportunity. Most Cosplayers are very friendly and don’t mind stopping for a photo. Make sure to always ask politely first, and try to find a good place to take the picture that is out-of-the-way. I always try to pay them a sincere compliment on their costume and thank them for the picture. The kids will think it’s cool to have their picture with Thor or Spider-Man or whatever. This is a great opportunity.

7. Plan Kid Friendly Activities

As you plan out your time at the con with kids, make sure you plan in some activities that the kids will really enjoy, and avoid taking them to some that are not geared toward kids. Salt Lake Comic Con makes this easy with their KidCon. This is a section of the con that is geared to the little ones at the show. There is always something going on in the KidCon for the kids, so check this area out, and you may come back a few times to keep the kids entertained. This year, it looks like they are putting it in its own room, apart from the actual vendor floor. I am interested to see if this is an improvement, or not. I have a feeling that this makes sense and will be a good IMG_0924move.

8. Manage Expectations

There are so many great things going on at this year’s Comic Con, that there is now way that you will see it all, anyway. With kids, you will see even less. You need to know that before hand and have those expectations. When I bring my kids on Thursday, I don’t know how much of what I want to see, like a lot of the panels, I will get to see with my kids, so I expect that for Thursday, and plan to see and do more on Friday and Saturday. Don’t go in and expect to see everything you want. Kids will slow you down, it’s just how it works. If you go into it and expect to see everything you would normally see, you will end up frustrated and disappointed. If you manage that expectation, then the kids will have fun, and you will too, and make some great memories.

9. Know your Kids and their Limits

Every kid is different, so you need to know your kids and what they can and can’t do. You need to know whether they can sit through a lot of long panels or if they can’t. You need to know if they can wait in a long line, or if they can’t. You need to know if they can go to the con all 3 days from open to close, or if they can’t. No one on any of the Facebook pages or threads or Twitter or whatever will be able to tell you what your kids limits are. That being said, you need to know those limits and plan accordingly. I know my kids won’t sit through most of the panels I want to go to, so I don’t bring them to panels. I also know that going for part of one day is about all my kids can handle, so that’s our limit. IMG_0931

10. Have Fun!

This is the most important thing you can do. Chances are, you are going to Salt Lake Comic Con because it represents something that is important to you. Chances are, you want your kids to feel the same way. You want them to be the next generation of geeks. Who doesn’t want that? The best way to accomplish that is to get them involved in things like comic con, and to make sure they have a great time doing it. Those are memories that will last a lifetime. That really is the most important thing for your kids. So, just have fun!

So, what are your plans for Salt Lake Comic Con? Are you going? Are you bringing kids? Are there any tips you would share that i left off the list? Let me know in the comments or email me directly at thegeekymormon@yahoo.com. We love to hear from you.

When Your Kids Choose a Fandom

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My oldest getting his letter from Hogwarts. Yer a wizard, Johnny!

When my first child was born, it was boy, and I rejoiced. Having a boy meant that I could buy all the cool toys I really wanted and pretend they were for him. I remember one of the first toys we got him was a Spider-Man teether. It was a little Spider-Man figure and his hands were flat and rubbery for chewing on. He loved it, and I loved that it was something geeky. I have always wanted my kids to be geeks like me, and chances are they will be, at least in the beginning. It was important to me that I could pass on some level of appreciation for these kinds of things. It was also important that they chose what they would be into, and I wouldn’t force them into liking any one show or franchise or character. I felt like I was just there to expose them to this stuff, and I could let them decide what they liked, and we could see what…ok, this is not entirely true. In the beginning, I really tried to shape them and mold them into little versions of me.

Isn’t that what being a parent is about? Or at least the perception of being a parent is about that. The stereotypical dad who forces his kid into sports so he can relive his glory days through his child. Or maybe the musician who “encourages” their children to play an instrument and learn music and be just like them. Or the math teacher who tortures his children by teaching them math. That is no fun for anyone. Ever. (I’m sorry to the people who have been brainwashed into thinking math is fun. I don’t mean to offend you). It seems like all sorts of people do this with their kids when they become parents. Normal, easy-going people become overbearing, controlling parents. It’s just the way of things.

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Going back to school in style (yes, the R2D2 lights up and makes sound.

I really wanted my first son to be into Thor. We have Scandinavian roots, and my son was blond-haired and blue-eyed, so I thought Thor would be perfect. He disagreed. Never really got into Thor. Never really liked him. Instead he went through a couple of different stages of superheroes, starting with Batman (who I think is everywhere, so a lot of little boys start there), then moved on to Green Lantern, before finally settling on the Flash. I have no idea why, except he thought the Flash was really cool because he could run so fast. I tried the Thor thing next with my second son. Still no luck. Instead, he latched onto Superman, and he hasn’t let go. I couldn’t argue with his choice. Superman has always been my favorite, so I let it go. I tried to show my girls some of the strong female characters out there superhero wise, like Wonder Woman and Batgirl. My oldest daughter loves Wonder Woman, and my youngest daughter loves Batgirl. She even thinks she’s Batgirl, which is usually fine, except she’s two, so sneaking out in the middle of the night to fight crime makes me a little nervous, but
she’s pretty good at it. My middle girl, on the other hand? Well, she likes Thor. Likes may not be a strong enough word. We are talking an obsession with Thor that has not been seen since the days of Adventures in Babysitting. The point is, in the end, I couldn’t control what any of my kids liked. They picked their superheroes all on their own. And it has been that way with everything. I tried to talk my oldest into watching Star Wars 100 times, and it never worked. One day, he decided he needed to watch the movies on his own, and he liked them quite a bit. The same thin happened with Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. One day this summer, he decided he wanted to check them out, and now they are his favorite movies.

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I’m Batgirl!

In the end, I have learned that nothing can be forced. Your kids are going to like what they like, and it is out of your control, for the most part. I think all we can really do as parents is find really good stuff to expose them to, try to limit some of the crap, and then support and encourage the stuff they end up liking. They’re going to enjoy the stuff you enjoy a lot more if they don’t feel forced into it. They’ll feel like it was their choice.

The most important thing I have learned as a parent is finding out what your kids enjoy and then enjoying it with them. There really is nothing that matters more than that. I didn’t always have that as a kid, for various reasons. I don’t blame my parents. They were doing the best they knew how. Mostly, as I got into some of the things I got into, they just thought I was weird, and they didn’t get it. I wish they had tried to, and I don’t want my kids to feel that way. As they grow up and develop their own personalities and things come out, they will start getting into things I don’t know, like Skylanders. I look forward to taking the time to get to know that stuff. That will count for a lot, I think. Being a geeky parent, I know what it’s like not fitting in. Every geek has experienced it, and many of us have experienced it within our own families. I have family members that think this blog I write is just weird and a waste of time. I don’t want my kids to ever feel that way in my house. Whether it’s flying the Millennium Falcon or riding their Firebolt broomstick, it’s all allowed at my house, and they will probably find a mom or a dad who are willing to join them in the run on the Deathstar or in the Quidditch match.

Tell us what you think. What things have your kids gotten into? How have you been able to bond over geeky stuff? Leave us a comment below or send me your feedback directly to thegeekymormon@yahoo.com.

My 10 Disneyland Favorites

 

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This may be a little bit of a departure in the geeky category. Disneyland may not be overly “geeky,” or at least mainstream geeky, if there is such a thing. However, I would argue that Disney fans are some of the biggest geeks around. You will not find a fan base that is more passionate about their franchise, and that’s what being a geek is all about. I happen to count myself among the Disney faithful, but more specifically, I love Disneyland. Some may call it the happiest place on Earth. I don’t know about that, but I do know it is my favorite place to go on vacation, especially with the family. It’s been my favorite place for a long time. We were never a family that went every year, or every other year, but when we did go, it was awesome. Those were the best years and the best vacations. Both of my parents have always had a love for the Magic  Kingdom, and they passed that down to each of us.

This month, Disneyland turns 60. It is pretty amazing that it has not only lasted 60 years, but that it is still as popular as it is. After the grand opening, it was miracle that the park lasted longer than two weeks. The fact that it has, and that it has become an example of customer service and organization, is a testament to Walt Disney, who always found a way to keep going, even when he failed. There is just something special about Disneyland. If given the choice to go to the land or the World, I would choose Disneyland every time. There is just a great feeling in the park and the history is everywhere, and I love history. Plus, the magic. You can’t overlook the magic. My wife had only been to Disneyland once before our trip in 2011. She wasn’t convinced that the trip was going to be worth the money when we went. It is expensive, for sure. On the last day, though, as we were riding the parking tram from the garage to the park, she mentioned to me that we needed to come back sooner than later. Why? Because of Magic. She saw how much the kids enjoyed it, and she enjoyed watching the enjoy it. I wish I could say we have been back, but we are planning on going next year, and it is going to be epic.

In honor of Disneyland’s 60th anniversary, I thought it would be fun to share with you some of my Disneyland favorites. A couple of rules for this list. Rule number one is that it has to be something currently in the park that I have experienced before. It has been almost 5 years since I was there, so a lot has changed in that amount of time. There is a lot of new things that i haven’t seen, like the new Star Tours. I can’t count those things as my favorite, since I have never experienced them. Rule number two is that it has to be something in Disneyland. Disney’s California Adventure doesn’t count. That park is not turning 60 this year, so I’m not going to take any of my favorites from there. When DCA turns 60, I will write another post and list my DCA favorites. Rule number three is that these are my favorites. I am not trying g to say they are the best, but they are the things I enjoy the most. Your favorites may be different from mine. That’s fine. After all, Walt Disney said Disneyland is your land, meaning it is for everyone. So, let’s get to my favorites.

Favorite Land: New Orleans Square

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If I had been asked which land was my favorite as a kid, it would have been Tomorrow Land. I would not have even hesitated. My wife suggested this category for this post, and I had to think about it. Tomorrow Land is not that great anymore. I like all the other lands just fine, but it was hard to pick a favorite, until I realized that three of my favorites for other categories are in New Orleans Square, plus Club 33, which I will get into someday. For grown-up Jake, New Orleans Square can’t be beat.

Favorite Snack: Churros

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I know, I know, this is an easy choice, and I should have tried to think of something more original. The truth is, I really like the churros. I never go to the park without having at least one. I mean, one per day while I’m there. Maybe two. I have a sister who loves these even more than I do. She once spent $100 just on churros during one trip to Disneyland. She definitely had her fill on that trip, and she earned my undying respect.

Favorite Walk Up Restaurant: Hungry Bear

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When I think of hungry Bear, an old favorite phrase of mine comes to mind: “There’s some good eating’ there.” It is just straight up good food, and the atmosphere can’t be beat. Sit and enjoy your meal along the coast of the Rivers of America. This isn’t a fancy restaurant. It’s pretty plain and simple, and sometimes that is perfect. Don’t let that fool you, though, because the food is great. In my opinion, it is the best place to get a burger in the park.

Favorite Sit Down Restaurant: The Blue Bayou

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Sometimes we pick a favorite based solely on high quality and other times we pick a favorite based on other things completely. The Blue Bayou has a bad reputation as of late, although I hear that the food has gotten better. For me, it was never completely about the food. The atmosphere is great. How often do you get to eat inside an iconic attraction? I know it was a highlight for the kids as well. This was one of our favorite memories from our last trip, so Blue bayou gets a bump for that reason. The food was good enough. By the way, that’s my boy, Johnny, in the pirate’s hat, hamming it up for the camera.

Favorite Show: The Jedi Academy

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Start the emails now. I know that this is probably not at the top of anyone’s list of great shows at Disneyland. I told my wife I was picking this, and she questioned whether this was even considered a show. I admit it, this “show” doesn’t compare to Fantastic of the nightly fireworks. It isn’t designed to even compete with those spectacles, but see that little boy with the blue lightsaber? That’s my son, Johnny, and he just defeated Darth Vader, and to this day he still believes he’s a Jedi. All thanks to the magic of Disney.  Jedi Academy wins, your argument is invalid.

Favorite Kids’ Ride: It’s a Small World

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Besides being a reason for me to include this incredibly awesome picture of me at Disneyland with my two boys, It’s a Small World was one of our favorite rides with little kids. The biggest reason why is the boy in the red hooded jacket. Jak. He loved it. Yes, it is overstimulating with all the colors and lights, and the song is so obnoxious that it has been considered torture in some countries, but the kid loved it, so we went like 4 times. To this day, Jak says that It’s a Small World is his favorite ride. Also, looking at this picture he may have been breaking some rules by having no shoes on. What a rebel!

Favorite Family Ride: Pirates of the Caribbean

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So, the song is all about drinking rum, pillaging and plundering, and the ride features an auction selling off women, but I stand by my classification of this ride as a family ride. This was probably our second favorite ride to go on all together. I think our whole family fit on one bench when we went, so we all could to experience the fun together. It’s a little more thrilling than It’s a Small World, but not too much that the little ones can’t go.

Favorite Dark Ride: The Haunted Mansion

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It may be at this point in reading this post that you are thinking that I am just coming up with different ride classifications so I can include or sneak in a list of some of my favorite rides. To that thought I would respond that this is my blog. When you write a post like this on your blog, you may write however you would like. I have always loved the Haunted Mansion. It is a must experience for me every time I go to the park. I loved going on this with my oldest who was 4 at the time. He thought it was great, and wanted to go again. I was so proud of him. My nephew, who was the same age, survived his experience, but decided once was enough for him.

Favorite Thrill Ride: Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye

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Yes, another ride category. Spoiler: the last thing will be another ride as well. I really enjoy this ride. It is newer, so I didn’t grow up with it, but I did grow up with Indiana Jones, and this ride puts you right in the middle of one of his adventures. The music is authentic, or feels authentic, the action is similar to the original three movies and the queue is one of the best out there. Yes, without a fast pass you will wait, but the wait is almost as much fun as the ride itself. Plenty of thrills. This is one of my wife’s favorites as well, although that might be because this was one of the few rides where we got away from the kids for a minute.

Favorite Ride: The Matterhorn Bobsleds

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Ever since my dad told me this was his favorite ride, it has been my favorite ride. You can say what you want about the jerkiness of the sleds and that the ride system should be smoother, but I still love this ride. I can’t wait to see it since Harold has gotten a makeover. One of my happiest moments recently was when I asked my son, Johnny, what his favorite ride at Disneyland was, and he said it was Matterhorn. The tradition lives on! Now he just needs to pass it down to his son.

All of those things are some of my favorite things at Disneyland, but by far, my absolute favorite thing is just the magic the kids experience when they are there. One thing that demonstrates this more than almost anything else is the way the kids get to interact with their favorite characters. My kids had no fear when they went and they met all their favorites. It was during these experiences that we discovered that Eliza is a champion hugger. Don’t believe me? Check out these pics:

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We weren’t sure if she was ever going to let go of the Fairy Godmother, who even commented on how good a hugger Eliza was, and I figure she has seen a lot of huggers.

Whatever your favorite things about Disneyland might be, I hope you have the opportunity to experience its magic. Here’s to the next 60 years!

What are some of your Disneyland favorites? Let us know in the comments, or you can email me directly at thegeekymormon@yahoo.com, or visit our Facebook page and comment there, or tweet me @thegeekymormon or find me on Google +. All those buttons are found under the “Let’s Get Social” section. Thanks for reading.

What Kind of Collector are You?

Collecting is a big part of the geek life. It seems like almost every geek out there has some kind of collection, most of us have multiple collections. I personally have always felt that I am a collector, though my wife might say I am a hoarder. There is just something in my brain that has a really hard time with letting things go, especially things that tie somehow into something I love. It probably really is a problem on some level if I don’t try to keep it in check. For the most part, though, I take a lot of pleasure in my collections. Because of all this, I thought it would be interesting to start a new feature on the blog all about collecting. Welcome to the first ever Collector’s Corner on the geeky mormon.

I thought it would be interesting to take a look at collecting in general, starting with the question: What kind of collector are you? There are all sorts of collectors out there, and there is no wrong way to collect things, or wrong things to collect, for the most part. I knew a kid in middle school who really liked this girl in middle school. He used to collect her hairs that would fall onto her backpack, and then staple them to his wall. That is probably a weird and creepy thing to collect, especially since she didn’t know about that. My parents never let me go to his house again, and I keep searching the news to see if he has been caught as some kind of weird stalker or something. Don’t be that kind of collector.

One kind of collector that I have always really admired is the “Mint in Box” collector. This is the geek who buys whatever collectible of their choice and then they never open it. They keep it in the package and place it up on a shelf somewhere for display, or even more admirable, they have so much that they have boxes in storage full of unopened collectibles. This is an impressive type of collector, and one that I could never be. To buy something, and then to never open it and enjoy it, I just couldn’t do it. However, these collectors are the ones who could be laughing all the way to the bank. These are the items that can show up on eBay years later and be sold for a pretty hefty price. Most of these collectors, however, would never part with their treasures. There are two sub-types to this collector. One is the “Buy two of everything” collector. They one item for themselves to open and display, and then one item to never open and to store away, mint in box. If I could ever pull off this type of collecting, this is how I could do it. Even then, I would probably cave because buying two of everything is expensive.  The other sub-type is the comic book version, the collector who buys issue after issue of comics and never reads them to keep them as close to mint as possible. You can find these folks at your local comic shop on Wednesdays inspecting each copy of each issue to find the most mint issue they can. Sometimes they will buy two of each issue, one to collect and one to read.

Another type of collector is the variant or exclusive collector. These folks will typically go after exclusive versions of the things they collect or variant covers of the comics they collect. They may keep them mint in box, or they may open them and display them, but they are drawn to the exclusive versions, because the normal, average version just doesn’t cut it. The exclusives are better because they are more rare and are somehow unique to the average version. For example, the Doctor Who Funko Pop figures recently released, and Hot Topic has an exclusive version of each figure. The 12th Doctor, as an example, has a spoon when purchased from Hot Topic, while the 12th Doctor purchased through Amazon does not. The exclusive collector needs the one with the spoon.

Another type is the “Completist.” This type of collector picks a collection and then gets every piece for that collection. They will not rest until every last bit of that collection is theirs. They will hunt high or low, brave garage sales and eBay in hopes of finding the one piece or issue that is missing from their collection. They try to find nice pieces to add, but at some point, they give up just as long as they can get that piece that is missing. They will collect every variant or exclusive piece, as well as the main pieces. Every piece has to be there for them to feel like the collection is complete. They are working toward an end goal. There is a part of me that is drawn to this type of collecting, but I also know that it is almost always unattainable, so I try to refrain. I settle for having a lot of cool pieces instead, and try to tell myself that it’s enough.

In other words, I am an eclectic collector. I don’t have to have the whole set, but I like to have cool pieces in my collection. Pieces that mean something to me, more than pieces that are super valuable. I would probably never really look online to find out the value for any piece of my collection, because I am just not interested in parting with any piece. Sometimes, I will add to my collection based solely on impulse. I see something cool that I don’t have, and it is coming home with me, if I can afford it. My collection might include some exclusive or variant pieces, but it won’t include all of them. This is basically the ” I see it, I want it, I collect it” approach to collecting. It may not be as refined as some others, but I enjoy it. While a completist may someday have the satisfaction of knowing that their collection is complete, I will always have the satisfaction of knowing that my collection will never be complete. And that makes the whole thing worth it. So, what kind of collector are you? Let us know in the comments section on the blog or in the comments on Facebook or Google +, or tweet at me @thegeekymormon. I will respond to any of the these forms of feedback. You can even email me at thegeekymormon@yahoo.com. We love hearing from you.

My Collection

I thought it would be fun when I write these posts to highlight some of my collections. I promised to reveal my favorite collection in this post, so we will start there. This is not my only collection, but for the moment, this has been the one that I have had the most fun collecting. It is my Funko Pop collection. For some reason, I saw these a few years ago, and decided I wanted a few. That few multiplied and has now grown into quite a collection. I just love these little guys. The thing I really like about them is that there are so many to choose from, so no matter what you are into, there is something for you. Here are some examples from my collection:

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First we have some of my DC Pop Heroes. These are some of my favorite characters from the DC Universe. The first one I ever bought was Superman because he is my favorite Superhero. Batman has been my most recent addition. I am not a big Batman fan, but this one was purchased for me by my 2-year-old, who believes she is Batgirl, so she wanted me to have a Batman.

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These are my Pop heroes from the latest Avengers movie, except Thor. I think he is from the second Thor movie. Each time Marvel releases a new movie, Funko releases new pop figures, so there are different versions of a lot of them. I personally have three captain Americas (or would that be Captains America?). The thing I like about the Marvel characters is that they are bobble heads, which just adds to their cool factor.

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This is just a random assortment of figures that don’t fit into any one category. You could argue that Ollie there on the left could go with the DC guys, but I keep him separate because he is from Arrow the TV show instead of the comics. Next to him is Mal from Firefly, the 12th Doctor (Hot Topic exclusive with spoon). Soon he will be joined by a bunch of other Doctor Who figures, so they will get a section all their own. I’ll post pics on Facebook when they come. Then of course we have Raphael, purchased for me for Father’s Day by my son who loves Ninja Turtles and loves Raph “because he’s the red guy.” That’s why I love him too. Last, but not least, The Rocketeer. He might be my favorite figure.

So, there is one of my collections. What do you collect? What would you like to discuss in future editions of Collector’s Corner? Let me know through one of the various methods of feedback listed in the post above. Thanks for reading, and good hunting out there!

Sunday Night Flicks: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

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It’s summer time, which means the kids will not be going to bed as early as they normally would, which means it will be easier to get in some good Sunday Night Flicks. This last week we decided to start the eight film journey covering the adventures of Harry Potter and his friends. I have been wanting to share these stories with my kids for a long time, and my oldest finally showed a little bit of interest after playing the Harry Potter Lego games. We started where everyone should start such a journey; at the beginning.

It was pretty interesting to go back to the beginning of this saga. It had been quite a while since I had watched either of the first two Harry Potter films, and it was kind of strange to see Harry, Ron, and Hermione so young, and know what was lying ahead for them. The three of them seem wide-eyed through out this movie, like they are just as amazed and astonished by this wizarding as we were. In this film, and the next installment, Chris Columbus begins to bring to life the hidden magical world that David Yates would later perfect starting with Order of the Phoenix.

The Sorcerer’s Stone for me, is fun because we see Harry Potter come to life for the first time. These characters I had always imagined in my head were there, on the screen. I wasn’t sold on Daniel Radcliffe as Harry at first, but he grew into the role, and it would be hard to imagine anyone else in the role. Rupert Grint, on the other hand, was brilliant from the start, as was Emma Watson. I remember being somewhat disappointed with this film when I saw it for the first time, which was at home on DVD since it came out while I was spending two years in Germany. It is still probably my least favorite of all the films.

Watching it for the first time with my little ones changed my perspective a little bit. I got to experience the magic again but through my kids’ eyes. The only thing I could compare it with is when we took our kids to Disneyland for the first time. I had always loved Disneyland, but seeing them experience for the first time brought the magic to life in a whole new way. That’s kind of how this felt. My son was so excited about the movie, that he wanted us to immediately put in the second film. We are making him wait until at least next week.

Overall, this film was ok. As much as I enjoyed watching the kids enjoy this movie, I couldn’t get past how much I disliked this compared to the other movies. The child actors aren’t great right away, and their chemistry is good, but still awkward, not like it is by the end of the films. That makes sense, since by the eighth movie they had all grown up together. I guess for me it is like watching the first season of Seinfeld. You can tell it has a lot of potential, but it’s not there yet. However, the world the film is set in is fantastic and rich in detail.

The fun factor is what really counts here. The kids love this Harry Potter movie, and in a lot of ways, it feels like a kids’ movie, kind of like how the first book feels more like a children’s book. I had no problem with all of my kids sitting down to watch this movie, but I am not sure how I feel about some of the younger ones watching the films as they go on. They may have to head off to bed before we watch Order of the Phoenix.

I guess, in the end, watching this with my kids, I had a lot of mixed feelings. In some ways, it was still hard to get through this whole movie and to look past the acting in some cases, knowing it would get better. In other ways, it was a lot of fun to experience Harry’s first trip to Diagon Alley with my little ones. It was like they were there, in Diagon Alley, with Harry and Hagrid. Maybe that experience made me appreciate this film on a new level.

What about you? What did you think about this first installment of the Harry Potter films? Where does this one rank compared to the others? Let me know in the comments.