Recommendation Wednesday

New York (and I’m not just talking about the city here) has a TON of things to do and see; it’s impossible to do it all. But here is a comprehensive list that will help you narrow it down somewhat.

Best Things to do in New York

This website also has lists for Norway, Germany, Austria, and South Africa, among many others.

These lists are by someone else named Jen (I swear it’s not me!) and she (and her team) review products, for the most part. They also are heavily into health stuff (that I’m not recommending, but will not get into that here).

However, if you know where to look, you’ll find her travel blog and lists of things to do in many locations (it’s really well hidden! Tip: Go to the search and type in the place you want to go). I’m sure she will update this to include more. You can also email her and request that she add somewhere specific!

Image from Jen Reviews
Image from Jen Reviews

Are you interested in travelling? You can contact me Jennifer Desmarais through AJ Travel. jenniferd@ajtravel.ca

Happy First Birthday Dragon

Dear Baby Dragon,

It’s been a year since you were born. It was a time of change, learning, crying, and general confusion… but enough about me.

The first few months, we were worried that if we mixed you in with other babies we wouldn’t be able to tell you apart. It was a great relief when we found the freckle on your left hand. Now you’re old enough to tell us from the other parents so we’re good.

It’s been a fantastic year with you. I was lucky enough to spend the first nine months of your life with you and I wish it had been longer. You grow and change every day, it’s wonderful and terrifying. Since I’ve gone back to work you’ve learnt how to walk, say, “Hi”, sort stuff, and climb up and down furniture.

If the stories your Grannie and Gramma have told us are true, you are right in the middle of your mom and I in terms of personality. Your mom was a ridiculously clever baby with a calm and happy temperament. I was an average baby with an exuberant and happy temperament. You are just as clever as your mom and just as exuberant as your Papa. You also have the stubborn streak that runs in both families and a temper that burns hot and quickly fades.

You already have a mischievous side. When you know you’re doing something you’re not supposed to, you look at the closest adult and smirk. You both want to do the thing and also get chased. I hope you grow out of that before your teen years.

Your Mum and Grannie are covered in bruise from your sharp little teeth. Teething hurts and you bite a lot. You’ve left your dental impression on, toys, furniture, family, walls, your crib, books, and clothing. I really hope you grow out of biting soon.

You frustrate me at times but more often you warm my heart. You’re warm, happy, talkative, excited, and just wonderful. I’d love to take credit but it’s all you.

You give the greatest hugs, they are filled with affection and I hope you never grow out of that.

It’s been quite the year and I’m so proud of you. I’m enjoying watching you grow and become you. It’s something that I will enjoy for the rest of my life.

I love you little Dragon,

Your Papa

Database of the Ageless Kings (Serial Story) Part 9

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 3.5 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8

Part 9: An Emu Proves Dangerous

“Did you change the administrative passwords on the ship?” Phil asked. Sophia couldn’t see him since he was sitting behind her in the fighter ship, but his voice sounded worried.

“Sorry. I had to do a fresh restart and that wiped the original codes.”

“Oh, thank the Gods.” She could hear him relaxing. “Dove knew all the codes and she can’t change them without knowing them. Connect to the ship and have it open the airlock.”

“I have a better idea.” Sophia sent a lockdown command to the ship and then had it open the airlock. It was barely big enough for the fighter ship and she squished some cleaning supplies. “I didn’t think I’d ever need this room so I used it as a closet.”

Between the tight quarters and the abundance of cleaning supplies, even with the sensors shut down, there was no way Dove could not have heard them.

Despite the certainty of discovery, they tried to be quiet as they exited the fighter ship, stripped off the suits, and moved towards the bridge.

The lights flickered on and off, in the way Sophia had only ever seen in horror movies.

Whispering, Phil asked, “Did you do something to the lights?”

Sophia shook her head as they entered the hub of the ship, the dining area. It connected to each part of the ship. It was disaster. There was food everywhere, her favourite cereal was scattered around, and there seemed to be thick green goo on the walls.

“Oh no!” Phil was white and he sat down on the nearest chair. Sophia cringed at the smooshing sound the chair made as he sat. He jumped up and looked at the seat, smelled it, and finally sat back down. “I just sat in milk…” He sounded relieved and just stared at the wall with the green goo. “I’m sorry.”

“Why are you sorry? Phil… What’s going on?” Sophia was worried. He’d reacted better to certain death by bomb, twice, than he was now. Whatever he was thinking it must be scary.

“Dove is dead.”

“How do you know?”

“The blood. It’s from a Crimbils.” He gestured at the goo, indicating it was blood.

“Dove is a Crimbils?” Sophia asked, confused.

“No. Yes.” He gave a big sigh. “The Crimbils are a shape shifting race that eat their victim’s brains and change into them. They know everything their victim did and can mimic them almost perfectly. On top of that, they can manipulate others into liking or lusting after them.”

The full meaning of what he said hit her, and all she could think of saying was, “Sorry.”

Taking a deep breath he stood up and said, “This means she’s probably an assassin. I guess this means we can kill her.” He sounded sad, but his brow was crinkled determinedly. He walked over to the wall and pressed a place that looked like everything else. A panel opened showing a gun and what looked like a fencing sword. Seeing her surprise, he said, “This ship and I were together for years before you. We still have a few secrets.” He tossed her the gun, “Point and click. The button on the side prevents accidental discharge; tap it once to set it to stun, twice to kill, and three times to disintegrate.”

They walked down the still creepily flickering corridors in silence. As they walked, they started hearing a loud rhythmic banging sound. It got louder as they got closer.

All kinds of things could have been making that noise and Sophia imagined all the more farfetched and scariest possibilities. The absolute last thing she expected was what they found.

With a dented metal mixing bowl on his head, Hagrid was ramming the door to the bridge. Every time he hit the door he’d jump back and run back at it.

“Hagrid. Please stop,” she pleaded. The sound of her voice made him stop, but instead of reacting like the lovable, if mischievous, Emu that she’d grown to tolerate… and love, he turned and ran towards her.

She tapped the button on the side of the gun once and barely managed to get a shot off before he hit her. A line of energy flew out of the gun and stopped him in his tracks. He didn’t fall, however, and started moving towards her again. It took three more shots before he gingerly curled up and went to sleep. Loud snoring and all.

It wasn’t until she was stepping over him that she saw the green blood on his wings.

They walked to the door and released the lock. Phil opened the door and went in first. It was a good thing; as he walked in an identical blade to his, glowing green, sliced down in front of the door. He blocked it as if it was nothing and turned to face the person on the other side of the door. Since he was still in the doorway, Sophia couldn’t see Dove.

“Who sent you?” he asked.

A soft chuckle answered him and Sophia watched as he defended himself against more attacks. She tried to squeeze around and fire but couldn’t get a good shot.

“Who sent you?” he repeated.

She was tempted to pull him out or push him in but was worried that he’d get hit. She didn’t know what the glowing, humming swords could do but she didn’t want to get him killed.

The chuckling stopped and a voice that sounded like Dove, but without any of the bounciness or false joy, said, “The Queen, your sister, sends her regards!” The statement was followed by a series of beeping sounds.

“Amazing,” Phil said, sounding both tired and annoyed. “Another bomb.”


If you’re enjoying this year’s serial story why not check out those from past years?

Blush: Sex and Menopause

Once menopause hits, a lot of changes start happening, and most of them are hormonal.

In case you don’t know, pretty much everything that goes on in your body is regulated by hormones, but especially your sex drive. For example, just a small change in testosterone (everyone has this, btw) can make your sex drive fluctuate drastically.

I was trying to go abstract with a wrinkled piece of paper, but I wasn't liking it. This is a much better image to suit menopause. Image from here.
I was trying to go abstract with a wrinkled piece of paper, but I wasn’t liking it. This is a much better image to suit menopause. Image from here.

The North American Menopause Society is a great resource for people approaching menopause. It has a plethora of references, articles, and resources.

After reading through this website, some of the things that struck me are:

  • yoga helps with a lot of the problems
  • don’t be afraid to ask for a therapist (if you’re in Ottawa, Sue McGarvie has excellent reviews as a sex therapist)
  • do Kegels daily – not only does this increase blood flow, but it helps to strengthen your pelvic floor (and this should be done by all adults at all ages!)
  • lube is not a frivolity, but a necessity (again, for all ages)
  • a lot of people are going through this – don’t be ashamed to ask for help

If you’re enjoying the Blush blogs, consider learning more with Blush: The Card Game from Renaissance Press.

10 Lessons in parenting using Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy quotes

juki_towel_day_towel_2017

10. Listen to your parents

“You know,” said Arthur, “it’s at times like this, when I’m trapped in a Vogon airlock with a man from Betelgeuse, and about to die of asphyxiation in deep space that I really wish I’d listened to what my mother told me when I was young.”
“Why, what did she tell you?”
“I don’t know, I didn’t listen.”

Things change, every day new studies and new recommendations come out. That being said, your parents, or in-laws, have years of experience dealing with exactly what you’re going through.

They are an extremely useful source of information.

I dearly wish I had listened to my Mom when she told me about what I was like as a baby.

9. Nursing blankets and hand towels are essential

“A towel, [The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy] says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-boggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.”

This sounds silly but always carry your towel.

Babies will spit-up, puke, drool, snot, and all kinds of other things. Having something to wipe it off is extremely useful.

You can also use the nursing blanket as a fort, to swaddle, and many other things.

8. Everything takes longer with a baby

“Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.”

A forty five minute TV show can take an hour and a half to watch. Getting ready to leave is an exercise in planning and strategy that is far beyond what you expect.

Always give yourself a lot of extra time.

7. Babies have no survival instinct but they bounce

“There is an art, it says, or rather, a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.”

The combination of no survival instinct, curiosity, and lack of motor control means children are always trying to fly. They wriggle a lot… A LOT!

Inevitably the baby will try and fly but still hit the ground. In those cases if you are worried, go to the hospital. However if you’re not too worried, watch for weirder behaviour and make sure their pupils are both the same size. If they cry, it’s a good thing. A lack of crying from a fall is not a good thing.

6. No matter how often you tell them something it will feel like they are ignoring you

“For a moment, nothing happened. Then, after a second or so, nothing continued to happen.”

Everyone will tell you that raising kids goes quickly and that you need to cherish it. They’re right, but as you’re experiencing it, it can seem tediously slow.

Certain activities seem impossibly slow. Teaching what the word No means, teaching survival, and teaching them to sleep are all activities can that take FOREVER.

5. That shell shocked parental look

“He was staring at the instruments with the air of one who is trying to convert Fahrenheit to Centigrade in his head while his house is burning down.”

Babies are weird weird creatures. They will do the strangest things and every parent will recognize the look of bafflement and confusion that comes with parenting.

My daughter will always try and hide behind someone and eventually pull their hair.

4. No one knows what they’re doing

“This must be Thursday,” said Arthur to himself, sinking low over his beer. “I never could get the hang of Thursdays.”

As mentioned, children are weird, they have no survival instinct, and they spew multiple different bodily fluids.

Even with help and lots of information, raising children is as baffling as it is entertaining. Don’t worry though, no one really knows what they’re doing.

3. The moment you learn the rules, they’ll change

“There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.”

You’ve found out how to get your child to stop biting the furniture. Congratulations! Get ready, for everything will change. It will.

Babies are growing and developing so fast that by the time that your ancient brain has caught up, the baby has already moved on.

2. Do your thing

“I’d far rather be happy than right any day.”

Spend ten minutes searching online or asking strangers about anything to do with babies and you’ll realize that there’s opposing opinions on absolutely everything.

Not only are there lots of opinions, but people will angrily defend their position and judge you.

Do what you think is best and what your child’s doctor recommends. Otherwise, you will spend all your time and energy panicking.

Once you accept that whatever you do is wrong, you’ll be much happier.

1. It’ll be okay. I promise!

“Mostly Harmless” / “Don’t Panic”

There are two things that you should always remember about parenting:

First, babies are not being mean on purpose. They have no idea what they are doing. Be patient, it’s your job to teach them.

Finally, try not to panic. Parenting is stressful, hard, wonderful, and highly entertaining, but try not to burn yourself out with worry.

 

Goodbye and thanks for all the fish (or comments),

Éric

Why you get bored during fight scenes

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Fight scenes are hard to write and even harder to write well. A great fight scene will simultaneously amuse and move the story forward. This applies to any medium.

There are three elements to a fantastic fight scene and if you’re missing one of them it will fall flat. Those three elements are Tension, Character and Story Development, and Entertainment.

These three elements should be present in any good fight scene but be used in varying amounts for different styles.

Borrowed from Oh My Disney's article called "10 THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL"
Borrowed from Oh My Disney’s article called “10 THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL

Tension

The tension in the fight comes from the risk of injury, death, or failure. If you’re watching a fight and don’t really care what’s happening than there’s no tension.

In order to care about the scene the audience has to care about the characters, the outcome, or the location. The tension in a good Godzilla movie isn’t whether he’ll survive, but what his fight will do to the city and people in it.

Once the audience is invested, the fight has to feel like the thing or person we invested in, is in peril. If you know Superman will win and the movie gives you a thirty minute set piece fight, you get bored.

This is extremely common in Table Top games when the player characters are overpowered and the gamemaster just throws longer fights at them.

It also happens in superhero movies and super powered hero books.

Guilty: Man of Steel (2013), Chuck Norris, and Dungeons and Dragons 4th edition.

Innocent: Wonder Woman (2017), Jackie Chan, and Shadowrun 3rd edition.

Character Story and Development

If your fight scene serves no other reason than to show off special effects or fill space, it’ll be boring.

A fight scene needs to work like a song in a good musical. It tells us about the characters, moves their plot forward, and ties in to the rest of the story. It also needs to be a story in itself.

The time I have as an audience member is precious and I want more than just something pretty.

Guilty: Atomic Blond (2017), Star Wars Episode 1, 2, and 3, Star Trek Into Darkness, Dungeons and Dragons Random Encounters system.

Innocent: Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017), Star Wars Episode 5, 6 and 7, Star Trek (2009), Princess Bride

Entertainment

This is the third category and in truth, it’s the one that most people concentrate on when writing a fight scene.

This is where the tricks and awesome things come in. Sometimes it’s humour, sometimes it’s choreography, and sometimes it’s just banter. This is the hardest to get wrong and often flows out of the other two.

Guilty: Fight Club, Star Wars A New Hope, and older low level JRPGs (I’m looking at you Everquest on NES)

Innocent: Kung Fu Panda, Batman Vs Superman, modern JRPGs

 

I like my fight scenes weighted towards Character Story and Development with a lot of Entertainment (Pirates of the Caribbean, Hitman’s Bodyguard, Princess Bride, Court Jester, Kingsman), but as long as a fight scene hits on all three I’m happy.

 

What’s your favourite fight scene and why?

Éric