An Open Letter to FanX (formerly Salt Lake Comic Con)

FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention has been like our second home for the past 5 years. We’ve become friends with some of the people in the office, who’ve treated us with nothing but kindness. When my grandmother died last year, those friends in the office went out of their way to make FanX the least stressful convention I’ve ever worked/attended. I will always be grateful to those friends I’ve made at the office.

You must be following news surrounding the con, I mean it is your con. Just in case, here are the cliff notes. A local author had interactions with one of the cofounders of the con about the changes in the sexual harassment policy and some things that were said by the other cofounder in an interview with the Salt Lake Tribune. The author was standing up for other women who had been harassed by a fellow local author/guest. Emails were exchanged, and the author was told that if she didn’t feel comfortable with the changes she should “sit this one out.” She was also later told by one of the cofounders that he has four daughters and has been aware of the issues “long before it became trendy with #metoo.”

The #MeToo movement is not a trend. This movement has inspired women all over the world to build up the courage and strength to name their harassers and push forward to start their healing processes. Nobody should have to “sit this one out” because they don’t feel safe at a convention. The convention should do everything to make sure all guests feel safe at all times and don’t fear reporting harassment.

I try to teach J to recognize his privilege and to be an ally to all those who are marginalized. I understand that the promise of change has been made, but if those changes aren’t made, I don’t see how J and I would be able to continue our participation with FanX. This is not a decision that has been made lightly nor did I make this decision by myself. J has been attending FanX events since he was 2. We’ve made so many friends because of the events and have found our Geek Family because of it. We had a conversation and came to the conclusion that we will have to “sit this one out” until those changes are implemented and victims of abuse feel safe reporting their harassers. In my opinion the statement made is a good start, but FanX needs to become more transparent and possibly shift to a non-profit organization with a board of directors at the helm.

Thank you for your time and we hope that the necessary changes are made and that you do right by your fans.

James and J

PS: I know we might face some backlash for this, but this isn’t about us. This is about becoming a community who protects victims and ensures a safe environment. Listen to and support the victims.

Advertisements

The News with J: March 10, 2018

***This week’s episode is sponsored by Watchtower Cafe. If you’re in the Salt Lake City area, stop in for an amazing geeky atmosphere with some amazing drinks as well.***

In this episode, J talks about The Grinch, A Wrinkle in Time, Justice League, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Star Wars Rebels, comic books and more!!

The News With J: March 3, 2018

***Disclaimer – Our videos are sponsored by Watchtower Cafe in Salt Lake City.***

In this week’s episode of The News with J, J talks about Dr. Seuss, what comic books are coming out next week, Star Wars Rebels, Marvel Studio news, and Wreck-It-Ralph 2. Let us know what you think of our new show in the comments!!

The News with J: February 23 (transcript)

A couple weeks ago we started this news show for our YouTube channel called, “The News With J”. We have two episodes up on our YouTube channel and we were working on our third episode before our weekend got busy and J came down with a cough. So, instead of having a video, we thought it would be good to still get the news out in the form of a post! So here is the transcript of what would have been The News with J for the weekend of February 23rd, 2018.

“Hello, this is the news with J and I am your host J. I’d like to thank our sponsors at Watchtower Cafe for all their support. Get your geek on while you get your drink on at 1588 South State Street in Salt Lake City. Now, let’s get to the news.

In TV news, last week was the amazingly emotional mid-season premiere of Star Wars Rebels. There are only four more episodes until the end and I can’t wait!! If you have a cable subscription you can catch up by signing into the DisneyNOW app. The next episodes will air Monday at 7:00 and 7:30 pm on Disney XD.

Also in TV news, Andi Mack was renewed for a third season! I’ve been watching Andi Mack with my mommy and daddy and it has become one of our favorite shows to watch together. Andi Mack is another show that you can catch up on using the DisneyNOW app!!

In movie news, Black Panther has been wowing critics and audiences alike brining in close to $400 million since it opened on February 16th! If you haven’t seen it yet, I only have one question. WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? Click here to get your tickets today!

In other movie news, Disney/Pixar’s Coco will be a available on Blu-ray and DVD on Tuesday. We will be heading to our local Target to grab our copy first thing in the morning!

Here is our weekly list of books for young readers that will be hitting comic book store shelves on Wednesday!!

Scooby-Doo Team Up #35

Ducktales #6

Donald Duck: Nest of the Demon Birds

My Little Pony: Legends of Magic #11

Darth Vader #12

Star Wars: Mace Windu Jedi of the Republic trade

Lockjaw #1

Lumberjanes #47

Steven Universe #13

And Legends of Zelda: Twilight Princess vol. 3

In toy news, last week was the American International Toy Fair in New York City and I wanted to share some of my favorite toys that my daddy showed me on Twitter. I want to thank Star Wars Junk, “Agent M” Ryan Penagos, LEGO, Hasbro, KidsToyPicks, Jakks Pacific, and Entertainment Weekly for sharing the pictures of these amazing toys.

Hasbro

Spider-Ham Legends figure:

Legends Infinity Gauntlet:

Marvel The First 10 years Legends line:

My copilot Chewie you from Fur Real:

Star Wars Black Series line:

Uncle Milton

Star Wars Science Fossil sets:

LEGO

Solo:

Harry Potter:

Jakks Pacific

Incredibles 2 toys

Mattel

Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom toy line:

Thank you for watching this week’s episode of The News with J. I hope you have a great week. Don’t forget to like/comment/subscribe and May the Force be with You!”

So there you have it. This is what this last week’s episode of “The News with J” was supposed to be. I know it’s not the same as watching a six year old deliver the news, but he should be back in action this Saturday morning! We hope you will tune into our YouTube channel to see all the fun J has with his news show!

“Spoiler-Free” Justice League Review

DC fans rejoice, the team up movie we’ve been waiting for has finally come. Well, rejoice might be a strong word. It’s no secret that I am not s Zac Snyder fan. I think his movies have an interesting look, but the editing is always choppy and the movies tend to be longer than they need to be. While Justice League suffers from some of the same choppiness as Man of Steel and Batman v Superman, one of things the movie doesn’t suffer from is its length. At just under 2 hours, Justice League is a movie you can sit through without worrying about having to take a few bathroom breaks throughout. Justice League has some pacing issues, but I felt that the story was more solid than anything Snyder did with Man of Steel or Batman v Superman.

The cast was great. I was worried that the studio would make Flash a darker character in order to fit him more into this cinematic universe that DC and Warner Bros have created. Luckily, they chose to have a closer to comic version of Barry Allen. Ezra Miller did a fantastic job as the scarlet speedster. Batfleck did a great job and still holds his spot close to the top of my favorite Batman portrayals. Ray Fisher was a good choice for the cinematic version of Cyborg, I was hoping for more of a Khary Payton “Teen Titans” Cyborg, but that would not have fit this universe. Gal Gadot did a fantastic job reprising her role as Wonder Woman, although I wish Patty Jenkins would have directed Gal Gadot’s scenes. Then there was Aquaman. What can I say about Jason Momoa’s Aquaman? It was a fresh take on the King of Atlantis, and I loved it! Because of Momoa’s performance, I have a new found respect for Aquaman.

I think all that I can say without getting into spoiler territory is that Justice League is a good movie that people should see in theaters at least one time. If you were a fan of Snyder’s previous DC films, you will love Justice League. For everyone else, I think that Justice League is enjoyable. If you are thinking about taking your kids, just know that there are scenes that might scare the young ones. There are also long scenes that might bore younger children. If your kids were able to sit through Man of Steel or Batman v Superman, they should be able to sit through and enjoy Justice League.

Keep your eyes peeled, there are quite a few easter eggs that will make all the DC fans smile from ear to ear. Be prepared to sit through the credits because you get a mid credit and an end credit scene that you do not want to miss. Because of the choppiness of film, I would say Justice League sits at a “B-” from me. There were scenes that I personally thought could have been shorter and some that even seemed unnecessary.

Let me know what you think about Justice League. Comment here or on any of our social media pages.

Justice League is rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence and action.

Character, Not Race

I don’t speak for all Latinos, nor do I speak for the entirety of the PoC community worldwide. This is a statement that I think needs to be understood when getting into “social media debates” surrounding cultural appropriation and costumes, and this is a statement that I am making before I get started.

There is a debate that happens every year around Halloween and getting tagged in these debates because I am “the brown friend” is getting old. The most recent debate started over an article entitled “Why You Shouldn’t Dress Your Kids Up As Moana This Halloween” and it blew up my newsfeed. So, I felt like instead of addressing each and every post that people tagged me in, that I would instead write up a small response the best way I know how.

First and foremost, I want to say that I think it’s fine if kids want to wear costumes of characters whom they don’t share the same skin tone with. I think seeing kids of color dressed as white characters in pop culture is adorable and white kids dressing up as Moana can be just as adorable. The biggest problem is when parents try to darken or lighten the skin in order to make the costume “look better”. Changing skin tone is never ok and will never be okay. Black face, brown face, yellow face, etc have been used to demean and disrespect other cultures for years and those wounds have not healed, so don’t do it.

img_0158

© Ohio State University

It’s not just painting skin that can be problematic, but doing anything that can be seen as highlighting the race of a character is also problematic. Things like hairstyle, clothing, or even symbolic tattoos can be seen as mockery towards another culture. Last fall, there was a PR nightmare down at Brigham Young University when their student-ran comedy troupe “Divine Comedy” decided to do a Moana parody. The parody itself was meant to be a mash up of the problematic LDS film Johnny Lingo with Moana and apparently it was supposed to be funny. But when they released the poster for the event, the Polynesian characters were being played by white actors in what could be deemed as brown face. The actor portraying Maui was a white male wearing a brown shirt, and the worst wig known to costuming

©2017 Brigham Young University

If you’re thinking to yourself, “I want to honor those other cultures by having my family dress as those amazing characters.” Great! Fantastic! Wonderful! Honor them. Help your children learn more about the cultures you are wanting them to honor. If they want to be Moana or Maui, then sit them down and read the history of Maui and learn why the Moana story can be so important to the Polynesian community. The same goes for wanting to portray characters of any culture. It’s not on the PoC community to try and teach people why something is offensive, it is on the people wanting to honor these cultures to educate themselves.

Now that I’ve touched on costumes, let me talk about the subject I get tagged in most frequently online, Sugar Skulls and Dia de los Muertos. As a family we have barely started celebrating this holiday, but growing up, I remember my grandparents teaching me why the holiday is important as well as telling me stories of their families and growing up in Mexico. While Sugar Skulls have nothing to do with Halloween, I personally have never taken issue with people who’ve painted sugar skulls on their faces for Halloween. However, I do know quite a few people who celebrate the holiday and do take issue, so because I am still learning about the ceremony and ritual behind Dia de los Muertos, I defer to their feelings on this issue.

©2017 Disney/Pixar

The point I am trying to make is that if you are going to dress as characters from other cultures, or send your kids dressed as those characters, do it with respect and understanding. Also, realize that your choice will be seen as problematic in the eyes of some, and those people have every right to be upset, so don’t just tell them “it’s just a costume, relax!!” Be willing to ask thoughtful questions, listen and learn. To those who might get upset, like I said earlier, it’s not our jobs to teach, but we must be willing.

My Very Own “Awesome Mix”

If you follow our social media feeds, you know that J and I are all about Guardians of the Galaxy. J has cosplayed as Rocket Raccoon one day of almost all conventions that we’ve attended. We watched Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 1 ten times before the premier of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, and J has even curated his own “Awesome Mix” with his iPad on my Spotify account. To celebrate the digital release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, I was asked to create an “Awesome Mix” of songs that have shaped my life and have inspired me.

This playlist was hard for me to make because there are so many songs that have shaped my life. When I was a kid, I wanted a career in the industry as either a rock star or a talent scout for a record label. My parents raised us on every genre of music they could from country to rock and everything in between. We listened to show tunes, classical, mariachi, and banda. They had their favorites, but they wanted my brothers and I to develop our own taste in music. My playlist started as my top 10 favorite songs, it then stretched to 20 songs, and finally rounded out to a cool 30 songs.

I would like to think that after Peter listened to Awesome Mix Vol 1,  Meredith (his mother) sat down with him and explained her reasons for putting those specific songs on her mix. And, she probably would have done the same with Awesome Mix Vol 2 had she survived her cancer. So, like any parent wanting to share something they love, please click here to listen to the playlist and read along while I explain why I chose the songs for “James’ Awesome Mix”.

FCL0140_CMP_v017.1034.jpg

  1. Superstition by Stevie Wonder: Superstition gets me to that place. Any time I’m feeling like something can’t be done, I turn on this track and just let the arrangement go straight to my veins. I always feel like I can accomplish anything after listening to this song.
  2. La Bamba by Ritchie Valens: Ritchie Valens was an inspiration for me as a young latino wanting to be a musician. He showed that at times when the racial divide was so great, a young latino man could cross a racial barrier and be successful.
  3. Rapper’s Delight by The Sugarhill Gang: I’ve always loved Rapper’s Delight, but it became a special song in my life. I didn’t always have the greatest relationship with my step mom, and that was always on me. She always tried to make a connection, but I would just put up a wall. Long story short, those walls came down and my step mom and I have a great relationship. This song is on my mix because this is her jam.
  4. Oye Como Va by Carlos Santana: Carlos Santana, what can I say? Santana has been a major inspiration in me wanting to play guitar. This man is pure skill and I couldn’t have a mix without a Santana song.
  5. Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix: One of the most influential guitarist of all time. Jimi broke down walls with his experimental sounds. Purple Haze was the first Jimi Hendrix song I learned how play on the guitar
  6. Spanish Caravan by The Doors: My oldest brother introduced me to The Doors. I immediately fell in love with Jim Morrison’s lyric style and with the music. Spanish Caravan is one of my favorite Doors song and had to be on my mix.
  7. Sunshine of Your Love by Cream: In my opinion, Sunshine of Your Love is one of the best rock songs in the history of music. Its simplistic melody and guitar riff brings you in and the rhythm just gets you to that special place.
  8. Come Together by The Beatles: The Beatles played quite often in our home when I was a kid. I remember my dad’s love for The Beatles music. He would turn on the music and just lose himself in the music. He’d sit in his chair and just close his eyes and I remember wanting to be just like him. So when I got a job, i bought a stereo with a record player, some headphones and a Beatles album and would just lose myself like I saw him do years earlier.
  9. Careless Whisper by George Michael: Carless Whisper is one of those songs that I never knew what it was about as a kid. I just loved the saxophone and melody. As an adult I love the song because of the passion of the lyrics, but I still love that saxophone.
  10. Under the Boardwalk by The Drifters: Under the Boardwalk was the first song I had the opportunity of singing a solo for when I was in my middle school “jazz choir”. Listening to this song takes me back to a time when I knew that I could face my own fears.
  11. Runnin’ Down a Dream by Tom Petty: Like “Superstition”, this song makes me feel like I can do anything. The rhythm makes you want to move and the lyrics inspire me to work hard on whatever project I’m working on.
  12. Yakety Yak by The Coasters: The Coasters were a fun group. They had imaginative songs and fun melodies. We would listen to The Coasters a lot on weekends when we were doing house work. Yakety Yak was one of those songs that reminded us that we could have fun while doing chores.
  13. Africa by Toto: I have so many memories of me just singing this song at the tops of our lungs. For me, Africa is a song that reminds me to not take myself seriously and always be ready to drop whatever you’re doing and start singing whenever this song comes on.
  14. Strutter by KISS: This is another song inspired by my dad. My dad was a huge KISS fan, he made KISS costumes for us one Halloween, and it was one of my favorite Halloweens ever. The first concert my dad took me to was a KISS concert in 1993. This one is for you dad!
  15. Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Queen: You can’t have an “Awesome Mix” without Queen. One of the most influential groups of the 70s and 80s needs to be represented on this mix. While Bohemian Rhapsody, We Are the Champions, and Another One Bites the Dust are fantastic songs, I have always been drawn to Crazy Little Thing Called Love.
  16. The Cisco Kid by War: This is another song that would play often while we were doing chores. My grandpa used to watch reruns of The Cisco Kid when he was babysitting my brothers and I, and the 1994 remake movie with Jimmy Smits and Cheech Marin was our family movie, next to Three Amigos.
  17. Heartland by George Strait: I grew up in the Colorado farm town known as Sterling. Before we got our first Wal-Mart your choice of employment was fast food or farm hand. This song reminds me of home. My mom is a big George Strait fan and when my parents were going through their divorce, I was pretty sure he was going to be my step dad. This one is for you mom!
  18. Lithium by Nirvana: Growing up in a farm town and not really feeling like I fit in was rough. Losing myself in Nirvana’s music made me discover that it was okay to not fit in and that everyone had struggles they were dealing with.
  19. Basket Case by Green Day: i firmly believe that I would not be the person I am today without Green Day’s influence. While other kids were getting invited to parties, I was in my room with headphones listening to Green Day and playing along on my guitar. You’re probably thinking, “how sad”, but honestly I look at it as a god send. I wasn’t out getting in trouble, and I wasn’t sad.
  20. Girl’s Not Grey by AFI: It took me a while to really get into AFI. I started listening to them when I joined a band the summer going into my senior year of high school. I loved the guitar riffs and would try similar things in our music.
  21. Soco Amaretto Lime by Brand New: The soundtrack to my senior year. This song reminds me of when I started getting invited to parties with kids in my grade. One of the funnest times I had at school was playing this song at the school talent show with one of my best childhood friends. Sterling High School Class of 2004, this one is for you.
    _______________________________________________________________
  22. Papercut by Linkin Park
  23. Numb by Linkin Park
  24. Leave Out All the Rest by Linkin Park
  25. One More Light by Linkin Park
    I have Linkin Park grouped together because of the importance of their music in my life. Like other people, I’ve dealt with depression and suicidal thoughts in my life. One of those bouts of depressions came around the same time I discovered Linkin Park. Their songs spoke to me in a way that music never really did up to that point. I always saw music as speaking to me, and this was the first time that I felt like music was speaking for me. Chester was singing and screaming things that I wanted to say but that I didn’t have the courage to say. Linkin Park’s music was a life changer and I don’t know if I would have come out of some of those dark times without their music. Thank you Linkin Park. My heart is broken from the loss of Chester Bennington, but I think it’s a wake up call that we need to make sure that if we are feeling low that there is a way out. Please talk with friends and family. We can’t keep things inside anymore. If you need someone to talk to, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.             ______________________________________________________________
  26. Amie by Damien Rice: As I grew in my age, I found a love for acoustic music. Damien Rice’s music is so amazing. If I ever feel nerves rising, I can sit with my guitar, play some Damien Rice songs and just feel the tensions of the day melt away.
  27. Falling Slowly by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova: All of the songs from Once are amazing and that story reminds me of my young dreams of wanting to be a musician. This song reminds me to keep following my dreams, even if circumstances change.
  28. A Beautiful Mess by Jason Mraz: This song helps to try and see the beauty in heartache. It has helped me get through the pain of losing my grandfather a week before my son was born. There is a beauty in looking at your situation and just stating, “we’re still here.”
  29. Ain’t No Sunshine by Bill Withers: The soul of this song is amazingly inspirational. The harsh reality of the lyrics taught me that life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows and that we have to make our own sunshine.
  30. I Caught Fire by The Used: My wife and I got married when we were pretty young. We were both fans of The Used when we were dating, and this became “our song.’ Whenever I listen to this song, it reminds me of the spouse I want to be, because my wife deserves every feeling this song shares. My partner in life and love, this one is for you.

There you have it! My very own “Awesome Mix” has been fully explained. I hope you enjoy the playlist and the peek into my life as you are listening to the music and reading this post. What would your “Awesome Mix” look like? Let me know in the comments!

Don’t forget that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 is now available on Digital and will be available on 4K/BluRay/DVD on August 22. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 is rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language, and brief suggestive content.

Guardians_Of_The_Galaxy_Vol._2=Print=Beauty_Shots=6.75_Blu-ray_Combo_Pack===Worldwide=No_Credits=RAP.jpg

***Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post and I was compensated for creating a playlist and writing this post. I chose all the songs for the playlist and all the thoughts in the explanations are my own.***