Thursday, April 20, 2017

He is Risen: A Belated but Necessary Easter Post

Mormon friends: do you ever get tired of reading in the Book of Mormon about the Nephites and the Jaredites going through the infamous pride cycle over and over again? I mean, do you just sit down to read Helaman or Third Nephi and go uuugggggghhhh?
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And do I need to remind any of you here of the number of times that this happened with the Israelites in the Old Testament? Just as soon as Moses had them going straight, something would happen and they would start murmuring. AGAIN. And their life in the Promised Land was no bed of roses, because they would repeatedly forget the Lord, break the commandments, worship idols, and then end up in bondage to their enemies.

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Wheatley Scholars

In our day, the pride cycle can happen in our personal lives, but in society at large it doesn’t seem so much a pride cycle as a long downward slope. And just when you think the world has hit the bottom, things keep getting worse. We turn to the scriptures, and we see the exact same thing: war, wickedness, sin, and destruction. If the Gospel is in the scriptures, then where is the part with the “good news”? The scriptures were written for our day, to help us get through. But seeing more examples of what we’re already seeing doesn’t seem to give much comfort, much less answers.
It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to figure out that those ancient peoples are US. And it probably doesn’t take much more thinking than that to realize that the wicked people who are ripening for destruction are not meant to be our role models.
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So what do we look for? We read about the people who stayed righteous in the midst of all that wickedness and all of their personal trials. We read about Abraham, Joseph the son of Jacob,and Moses; Joshua, Gideon, Ruth, Deborah and Barak, Samuel, Elijah, Hezekiah and Isaiah. We read about Lehi and Nephi and Alma and Alma the Younger and Nephi son of Helaman; we read about Mormon and Moroni and Ether. We read about Jesus Christ. We read about the people who followed Him, His mother Mary, Peter and John and the apostles, Stephen and Paul. What are they writing about their experiences and the lives of those who came before them? What are they learning that they want to share with us? How do they stay righteous in a wicked, difficult world?

Genesis 50:20 - As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.:
This goes for the Book of Mormon, too! (Pinterest)

In His final sermon to His apostles, Jesus shared the secret: “In the world ye have shall have tribulation. But be of good cheer: I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

One of my favorite verses. John 16:33  "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, I have OVERCOME the world.:

Jesus overcame the world. He rose above the sin, the sorrow, the despair, the grief, the lust. He rose above everything evil in this life. He descended below all things, and was thus able to overcome all things.

He did not get caught in the Pride cycle: HE BROKE THE CYCLE.

He is Risen, not just above death but above sin and above pain and suffering. Above repeated human errors and mistakes.

Happy Easter everyone.  He is Risen!  I wish you all a blessed day as we celebrate the sacrifice that our one and living God gave to us, his son Jesus Christ.  Praise the Lord for His love and mercy.:



In the Intercessory prayer (John 17) He asked the Father not to take his disciples from the world but to keep them from the evil. We are still supposed to be a part of this mortal experience. We came to experience the pros and the cons. But the cons don’t have to make us weaker. Christ can help us overcome the things that are difficult. Christ made it possible for us to be stronger than our pains, our temptations, our sufferings through His Atonement.

He is the Light of the world. He is stronger than the darkness.

All those people in the scriptures who still managed to make it through even though they were surrounded by wickedness and evil and destruction? They made it because they chose Christ.
In one of his last letters to his son Moroni, Mormon wrote a harrowing description of the atrocities committed by both the Nephites and the Lamanites. And then he said something to Moroni that I think we should all listen to: “My son, be faithful in Christ; and may not the things which I have written grieve thee, to weigh thee down unto death; but may Christ lift thee up, and may his sufferings and death, and the showing his body unto our fathers, and his mercy and long-suffering, and the hope of his glory and of eternal life, rest in your mind forever” (Moroni 9:25, emphasis added). Believing in Christ doesn’t necessarily make everything around you perfect or solve all your problems. BUT believing in Christ can help you to be all right when everything else is chaos.

"And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced by death." Revelation 12:11:

As he is abridging the record of the Jaredites, Moroni takes a chapter to write out some of his feelings on the subject and some of his experiences in coming to know the Savior. He says that he had prayed that God would “give unto the Gentiles grace, that they might have charity.” But God’s response was,” If they have not charity it mattereth not unto thee, thou hast been faithful; wherefore, thy garments shall be made clean. And because thou hast seen thy weakness thou shalt be made strong, even unto the sitting down in the place which I have prepared in the mansions of my Father” (Ether 12: 36-37). We don’t have any control over what other people choose. But if we are faithful, then our own salvation is assured. Peace in this life. Eternal Life in the world to come. We will be able to overcome the world and have that reward.

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.":

In Paul’s second epistle to Timothy, we read Paul’s counsel to those who were trying to stay true to the faith in a time of difficulty. The Great Apostasy--the time when the true Church would be corrupted and the truth of the Gospel lost--was at the doors. “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Timothy 4: 3-4). Paul would soon be going to his own martyrdom (vs. 6-8). But Paul’s counsel was simply to be ready for whatever came, and to stay true to the faith. In the previous chapter, he had reminded Timothy to “continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of.” The message for us today is the same: stay true to what you know, do the things you know are right. Doubt and fear can and will be overcome.

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith. 1 John 5:4:

In the book of Revelation, we read of God’s promises to those who “overcome” the sins and temptations that were plaguing the seven churches: they would be clothed in white, named in the book of life, have part in the first Resurrection, receive eternal life, and live in the presence of God (Revelation 2-3). And as recently as the last general conference, Elder Neal A. Andersen gave a talk on the attributes of those who overcome the world as Christ overcame it. Overcoming the world, Elder Andersen said, is not done in a single moment but over a lifetime. But it can be done. Christ overcame, and he will help us to overcome.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Some More Awesome Cosplay from FanX 2017

I have already written up about FanX 2017 for The Geeky Mormon, but I feel the need to go back and share more of the cool photos I got at con of all the cosplayers, characters, and creatures I met.

For instance, this adorable Jawa.

Agent 13 got to meet a lot of her fellow Marvel heroes, including Iron Patriot

Jyn Erso ran into a couple of very bizarre-looking and bizarre sounding aliens.

Serious props to this girl for portraying Shmi Skywalker. She is such an undervalued character.

Not to be outdone, here is Padme rocking her baby bump.

Padme's burial gown--I told this girl that this was one of the most beautiful cosplays I saw the whole con. 

I'd like you to meet my Sithsters Brittany and Melanie

Victor Sine and Marial Clark as the Green Lanterns

Sharon made it a point to say hi Cap--including my friend Ryan Stevens

She is a Wasp. Best beware her sting.

Princess Leia and a Jedi bodyguard

The Dark Side of the Force was strong at this convention

I'm not much of a Star Trek fan, but I know enough about the fandom to respect it--and enough to pull over Riker and Troy for a photo. 


Odin and Thor of Asgard. This father and son duo placed in the cosplay contest.

My friend Benji as Fred from Big Hero 6, who couldn't help posing for a bueno photo with Deadpool

I also haven't actually had the chance to sit down and watch Doctor Who, but I respect the fandom. A lot. And this duo as Twelve and a Weeping Angel were spectacular.

I asked the Doctor if I could get a photo with him. If Sharon Carter is up to anything after Civil War, why not having adventures in space and time?

Another VERY beautiful cosplay--Arwen from The Lord of the Rings


I found this Gandalf tramping around not far away from Arwen.

I saw several Moana cosplays at FanX, but this one was by far my favorite. Because Heihei.

My friend Stephan Watson as a Stormtrooper

A Hawkgirl with a very breathtaking wingspan

And last but definitely not least, Tai Lung from Kung Fu Panda

Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Lizy Reviews: Beauty and the Beast 2017

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I’m not going to sugarcoat it. This movie had so much potential. And it didn’t even come close.
I had my doubts from the beginning. But I chose to hope for the best because the Cinderella reboot and Maleficent were both beyond amazing. Now, bear in mind, it’s no use comparing anything to the masterpiece that was Cinderella directed by SIR KENNETH BRANAGH. But here’s what Maleficent and Cinderella did that Beauty and the Beast didn’t do: they took two already great Disney animated classics and did not merely re-tell the original story but gave us two new breathtaking adventures.

Beauty and the Beast, on the other hand, did not do enough to tell an original story. In parts it was directly pulling from the original cartoon and just embellishing. Like they literally took parts from the cartoon and said, “hm, I wonder how we could do this in live-action with crazy special effects?” It didn’t do enough to make it feel like a good enough film on its own merits. There were definitely parts/scenes/elements that showed that they were trying, but those few elements were not sufficient.
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This film also has a lack of thematic cohesion. What I mean by that is, I try to get my head around how the different parts of the plot and the themes tie together, and I can’t get them to connect. There isn’t really a running theme like “True Love” or “Courage and Kindness.” We get several different themes, like Belle having to resist conforming to the village, or Beauty is found within, or the objects trying to hold on to their humanity. But, at least from this first viewing, there isn’t anything that really ties those themes together. In some scenes, I feel like there was material cut out that would have helped the story to flow better.

Disclaimer: I am extremely salty/critical about movies on the first viewing. There were things I definitely liked about this film, but at the same time things I felt were too directly tied to the original movie and things that I didn’t think were executed that well.

Some Brief Character Analysis

Gaston and LaFou: Does Gaston own the tavern? It would make sense in this version. Why do you think it’s decorated with all of his hunting trophies? Why is he so popular with the townspeople? He’s not just there for his good looks. He’s there because he runs an important local institution. He’s their entertainer.
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The film does try to give him a little bit of backstory, he fought in a war, he’s a womanizer. But he’s not different from the cartoon version in any way that’s compelling.

I thought Josh Gad’s LaFou was more sympathetic than the cartoon version. He had a little more depth and he definitely had development. He tries hard to help Gaston be happy and we are understandably frustrated when Gaston ignores him.

The Beast: I actually like him better than the cartoon version. I think the filmmakers may have rushed his development too quickly, like they didn’t show how much Belle changed him or made him a better person. He’s not vain and arrogant like he was as a Prince, and he doesn’t really throw huge temper tantrums, and he's not even bitter about everything like the animated version is. He definitely has some dress sense and he’s sober and scholarly, so I can see why he's likeable. I think the backstory they did give him was a good start but not enough. They don’t do enough to connect him with the Prince he was before, which would have been a nice change. I also thought the song “Evermore” was kind of emo. What the live-action version here doesn’t do as well as the cartoon is show the beast’s feelings of inadequacy and self-loathing. But it’s cool to watch how he warms up as he falls in love with Belle.
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Small thing I noticed: he likes Shakespeare but not
Romeo and Juliet--I think that’s a great touch. Romeo and Juliet is kind of an overrated play, but that’s another issue in itself. The writers reference Romeo and Juliet because 1) everyone knows it and 2) it’s a “love” story, so it would show just how “bitter” the Beast is about finding love, but that is the only instance of the Beast really expressing how the curse has affected his view of life. Yes, this story is set in France, but I think there’s reason to believe that A) enough educated people know how to read English or B) they have access to good French translations of Shakespeare.

I liked the scene where the objects get him ready for the dance with Belle. They put him in the same wig and makeup that he wore as a prince, and it looks hideous. But the Beast just grins at his reflection in the mirror and it’s hilarious. I think that moment kind of shows that he’s moved on from being a party boy. I mean, this was their first party since the night they were all cursed, so it’s kind of a big deal. But the Beast wants to do things differently.

Belle: Honestly, at first it’s really hard to not think of Emma Watson’s Belle as Hermione. But after a while I get used to it. We get a little bit of development for her character but not a lot, not enough for me to empathize with her. There is a better sense of how she is different from the people in the village and why they don’t like her. On the other hand, Belle kind of acts like she’s better than everybody else--she is, but she’s kind of a snob. I kind of miss the animated Belle’s playful exasperation. The fact that the Beast in this version is educated makes their romance look of inevitable--he’s the only other intellectual she can talk to.

Sometimes I liked her singing voice, and sometimes I didn’t. It was either a disaster or a revelation. There wasn’t really an in-between. It was like she was just singing to be heard but not really performing.

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E! Online

I’m not really a huge fan of the dress. It is beautiful, but I was expecting something more 18th-century to fit with the rest of the film. But maybe the dress we get is supposed to be simpler on purpose. We know that Beast is trying to get away from that style himself. And we know from a scene that I actually wanted to see more of that Madame Garderobe put it together with magic. It just doesn't really fit with what they're creating.

With Belle’s other outfits, I didn’t really like how they were mostly the same. And I don’t really like
the patterned bodice and layered skirt style--it is a little too detailed with everything else going on in this film. I get the feeling she sews the pieces herself.

One thing that I think this live-action remake actually did better than the original was the library scene. It was more realistic in size and also in how the Beast doesn’t show it to her to give her a “present” but as something to demonstrate their common interest in learning. And I think it drove home a part of Belle’s character. In the village, she was borrowing books from the village priest, and he had only like half a shelf of books that she would just borrow to reread over and over again. When Beast shows Belle his library, she starts CRYING because she now has access to all the books she could possibly want.

The Objects: Ewan McGregor’s performance as Lumiere was the single best thing about this movie. He is awesome. He takes initiative. He is upbeat and outgoing. He is the new “you can do it!” meme. I’d really love to see him do the “JUST DO IT” speech. That would be so motivating. And he’s so sweet with Plumette.
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Cogsworth is actually a lot less salty than his cartoon counterpart. And he and Lumiere are a lot less savage to each other. That’s kind of a nice difference.

I feel like Mrs. Potts was trying too hard to be a British nanny: her accent was overdone. But I actually liked Chip better than I thought I would. I liked how his dad was still in the village the entire time and he just had amnesia like everyone else. And while we’re on the subject, I think the amnesia was a great touch to the curse.


Audra McDonald has an amazing singing voice and she was woefully underused both as a character and a singer.

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More of this, please!

Overall, I think it was a good thing that they filmmakers decided to focus more on the objects and tell their stories. The filmmakers did well to show their relationships with Belle and the Beast. But I did not like the scene where the petal fell and they all complained about being less human. That time could have been better spent showing something meaningful about them rather than merely entertaining the audience. It was saddening to watch them all “die” at the end but was that really necessary? Because it didn’t really fit the rest of the story.

And yet, the opening narration makes the point that the Prince loved to fill his castle with beautiful objects and beautiful people. The curse turned the people who cared about him into objects that gradually became soulless. Material possessions are soulless. There’s kind of a poetic justice to that. But this arc was neither fully carried out nor tied in with the other themes in the story (well, except maybe Beauty is found within, but that feels like a stretch). And I loved seeing them all become human again. I like that that was elaborated. And then seeing their Master again when he’s human. That was a great scene.

Other: Maurice is probably the most different from his animated version. I don’t like how they changed his reaction to the enchanted objects. What I do like, though, is that he grew a freaking spine. He stood up to Gaston, and his conflict with Gaston drove the plot forward and it was amazing. I love his relationship with Belle and that we finally got a backstory for Belle’s mom.

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Entertainment Weekly

The character that I definitely feel was underdone was the Enchantress. The opening scene, I think that part should have been dramatized instead of re-told. That was lame. But I like how (spoiler alert) she’s the village beggar that nobody likes, and a spinster, and Gaston warns Belle that that’s how she’ll turn out. And she totally stirs the pot by rescuing Maurice.

What was she thinking by cursing the Prince in the first place? Did she have some kind of foresight to know that she was setting events in motion to purge the village of idiocy? And why did she just stand there in the background when the Beast changed back? They could have done so much more with her character arc. Disney really wasted a big opportunity.

Music and Miscellany

I sort of like the new songs “How Does a Moment Last Forever” and “Days in the Sun.” “Be Our Guest” was a well-done sequence. But there was a part where the CGI fireworks fade away and it’s just Belle eating some chicken with Lumiere and Cogsworth for company. I never realized this before but “Be Our Guest” isn’t just a big musical number, it’s Belle eating dinner and the objects getting to know her. And while “Be Our Guest” was performed wonderfully in the film, it would have been more original to see Belle just eating a normal dinner and talking to the objects.It’s not the same, I know, but there are ways to make it interesting and fun without doing the exact same thing as the cartoon. Ewan McGregor still does a great job singing it. Maybe put it in the credits or something?

Honestly the songs don’t fit in very well with the film overall. They’re still great performances, but they took away opportunities for Disney to tell a more meaningful story. The soundtrack is fun, I'll admit to listening to it. But on a certain level I can't help being offended that Disney tried to re-create something that was ALREADY so amazing and the rest of the movie didn't meet my expectations.

Well, maybe I can help it, actually.
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But talk to me about the ending scene, however: I love the dancing, I love the music, I LOVE BELLE’S WEDDING DRESS, I love how it contrasts with the ball we saw at the opening, I love everything about it...except the Prince trying to tease Belle with a creepy beast growl.

The verdict: Beauty and the Beast is still Beauty and the Beast. If we were looking for Disney to do something new and spectacular, then this was a disappointment--which is a shame, because Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney movie period. I still walked away liking this film because it's more Beauty and the Beast--more of the same.

Radical idea: maybe Disney should consider NOT remaking its animated classics. I know people only buy what they know, but is a little more originality too much to ask for?