My Bucket is Full

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I’m struggling this week. I know most of us are struggling right now. In my part of the world, we’re in the second wave and I’m not sure people understand what that means.

Bucket

Pegasus is not good at having his sleep cycle disturbed. Last Friday we slept in and didn’t wake him early enough and he refused to nap, then he fell asleep playing (twice) and I was up until 2am with him for the next two nights. We’re just now getting his schedule back in order.

Work has also been super busy and stressful. Report season in fall and spring has stressed me out for over a decade. I should honestly be better at it by now. With the season change comes a new set of allergies and a huge uptick in the pain in my hands.

So I’m feeling like I have a bucket for stress and my bucket is starting to flow over. I’ve started feeling overwhelmed. This morning I got an email and I couldn’t process it. It just went in one ear and out the other. I’ll get back to it later today and try again.

My way of dealing with new stress this week.

Trapped

The stress, the pandemic, politics, pain, allergies, and not-sleeping have me feeling trapped. Not by my life, not by my house, and certainly not my family. I feel trapped in a need to be productive. I’m missing having days were I don’t have to do anything. Where I can wake up and just do whatever I want. Six years ago I decided I wanted to try and roast coffee. I binge watched Gilmore Girls and made buttons. I haven’t had one of those days in a while. It’s part of getting older and having more responsibilities, along with being limited in what I can do because of the pandemic. As the kids get older and don’t need naps, and there’s a vaccine, I’ll be able to just spontaneously decide to take a day off and go to a museum or to a park with them, that’ll be nice.

Grief

My mom’s mother died when my mom was 5. Every chance we got we’d come to Ottawa to visit my grandmother’s siblings that acted like grandparents. I found out that the last of that generation passed away on Monday at 85.

My last phone call with her she sounded tired but hopeful. Because of health issues and the pandemic, she never met Pegasus but met Dragon a few times. She was a fantastic painter, wonderful hugger, terrible cook, and lovely person. I’m going to miss her.

Hope

My bucket is full but I’ll scoop it out, or drink from it, or something… (this metaphor seems to be getting away from me.) The point is, I’ll be okay. The nights will start freezing away the allergens, the weather with stabilize as much as it ever does, work will become less hectic, the stress will abate. It’s just a matter of dealing with it and taking deep breaths.

I have toddler, child, and wife hugs to keep me going, coffee to roast, and more pumpkin things to bake.

I’ll be okay but I’m struggling.

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric

The Holiday Shopping List

Hello Fellow Small Business owners,

I’ve seen a lot of social media posts about how we should support small business. The problem with those posts is finding them again and getting more than just other business owners to look at them.

For that reason JenEric Designs and Creative Ottawa Nerds (CON) have teamed up to create a list of 30 Canadian artists and artisans that have something to offer for the holiday season.

Beyond the list, we will create a post each day in November that highlights one of the vendors.

For those of you that need holiday shopping ideas, keep an eye on this blog. The list will be up November 1st.

As more vendors join, we will add their logos to the banner.

For those of you that would like to participate please email us at JenEricDesigns (at) gmail.com Subject: Holiday Shopping List with the following information.

  • Business Name:
  • Business URL(s):
  • Description of your products/store:
  • Final Shipping Date for Holidays:
  • Sales or coupons:
  • Photos: 1 logo, 3-6 product pictures (each must be smaller than 2mb)

This will be first come first serve. We will accept a maximum of 30 vendors. No resellers.

There will be a $5 fee for being listed. All money collected will be used to boost a post on CON’s Facebook page promoting the list.

Thank you and I hope you have a happy and profitable holiday season!

JenEric Designs and CON

Journey to the Center of the Earth and Journey 2: The Mysterious Island – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2008 movie Journey to the Center of the Earth and the 2012 movie Journey 2: The Mysterious Island.

Story

Journey 1

The movie adheres really closely to the original novel. I’m impressed that they were able to create a world where the book exists and then manage to follow almost exactly the same plot.

I’m impressed at the funeral scene where they spent the time to let the two male characters grieve and cry on camera. It’s not often you see men show emotions.

I like that they made the guide a woman and made her hyper competent, but I could have done without the awkward love story.

Score: 0.5

Journey 2

The movie doesn’t follow the story line of the book but that’s probably a good thing. The code breaking at the beginning and the diverse cast is awesome. I found the movie lagged a little as they traipsed around the island from one set piece to another.

The emotion in this one felt a little stilted compared to the first. The “pecs” talk was awkward until the berry part.

It’s a very linear movie without much surprise.

Score: 0.5

Characters

Journey 1

There are three characters in the movie. The dorky scientist that morphs into an action hero, the scared kid who goes on an adventure, and the beautiful and competent mountain guide with daddy issues. The movie spends very little time on any development for the characters, even forgetting the scientists awkwardness mid-movie in order to have him punching things and ripping off his sleeves. They are static but not offensive or flat.

Score: 0.5

Journey 2

The sullen kid became a sullen teen. The rest of the cast is entertaining if borderline annoying. The Rock infuses his character with enough charisma to make him likeable as does Michael Caine.

Vanessa Hudgens is great but has no real reason to fall for the charmless main hero. Luis Guzmán’s character is absolutely fantastic, funny and relatable.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

Journey 1

The banter between the three characters ranges from dumb to entertaining. Thankfully there’s a lot more quips than awkward flirting.

Score: 0.5

Journey 2

The dialogue between the love interests is stilted and awkward, hopefully on purpose, same with the dialogue overall. Other than a few good lines it was pretty bad.

Score: 0

Visuals and Music

Journey 1

This movie was designed to be shown in 3D in the height of 3D stupidity. To the point where they added extra gags just for the effect. I hate that. The technology and special effects should always work for the story not the other way around. Despite that, the special effects were passable and the scenery was cool.

The music was utterly forgettable but not bad.

Score: 0.5

Journey 2

The special effects are enhanced and take much too much time from the meagre story. (I sound like a grumpy critic.) It’s pretty, but not great. Again, the 3D for 3D’s sake is tiresome.

The soundtrack is meh, nothing exciting. I enjoyed the songs.

Score: 0.5

Fun

Journey 1

I like the book, I liked the old movie from the 50’s, and I had fun with this one. There’s thrills and adventure throughout along with two very pretty leads. I also enjoyed how much my daughter got into the film and reacted to the young boy’s perils.

Score: 1

Journey 2

I’m not as big a fan of the books this was based on. I liked Treasure Island, hated Gulliver’s Travels, and was indifferent towards Mysterious Island. There were a lot of exciting moments but the fun was in the, rarer, character interactions.

Score: 0.5

Overall

Journey 1

This is a fun, easy, and exciting movie. Not the greatest and maybe a little forgettable but fun to watch.

Final Score: 3 Stars out of 5

Journey 2

There was too much time spent of visual gags and action set pieces when this sort of story is supposed to showcase the characters in between. The action often replaces character development instead of accelerating it.

Overall it was fun, but lacked substance.

Final Score: 2 Stars out of 5


S.M. Carrière and I discussed and reviewed Journey to the Center of the Earth from 1958 on the Night at the Round Table. Have a look here:

Renaissance Virtual Conference – October 23-24, 2020

Hello Book and Coffee Lovers,

Éric Desmarais Author and JenEric Coffee & Crochet will be in attendance for the second Renaissance Virtual Conference.

JenEric Coffee & Crochet will be in the vendors room for the show.

Éric will have 2 panels:

4 PM – 5 PM EDT: THE END (Saturday October 24 2020): This panel discusses how to write a satisfying ending and why it’s so important. 

10 AM – 11 AM : I know that place! (Sunday October 25 2020):This panel discusses the challenge of using real places in fiction. How do you avoid problems? How to futurize a location? What are common pitfalls in using real locations?

Go register now (It’s a free conference)

Hope to see you there,

Éric

Advent Calendar Deadline for October Shipping

Hello Coffee Lovers,

You have until this Wednesday (September 30th) to order your advent calendars for shipping in mid-October.

Here are the options for this year:

  • 24 Bags at 1oz each ($50)
  • 12 Bags at 2oz each ($50)
  • 24 Bags at 2oz each ($100)

This is a pre-order for our Advent Calendars. Flavours will be picked from our current selection and a few experimental flavours.

There will be two sets of pre-orders.
Deadline to order first wave September 30th – Orders will ship mid-October.
Deadline to order second wave November 9th – Orders will ship mid-November.

ALLERGY If you have allergies please email us at JenEricDesigns(AT)gmail.com to let us know your specific allergy.

Pre-orders are open now

Thank you,

Éric

Muppet Treasure Island – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1996 Muppet Treasure Island.

Story

The story is disturbingly faithful to the original; as with all Muppet movies they add mostly flavour and silliness to the mix.

Score: 0.5

Characters

Other than the Muppets, we have two main human characters. The innocent, daddy issue laden Jim; and the devilishly handsome Long John Silver. Both are portrayed with nuance and depth that is impressive. The Muppets themselves do a great job as well, but the nature of the story and the lack of time between gags means the characters feel less fleshed out than they should.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The Muppets almost never disappoint when it comes to quippy, quotable, and cute dialogue. This was no exception.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

This was a beautiful movie and the ship scenes set my childhood brain’s idea of pirate ships. The music was definitely an influence on future pirate movies. The songs however fell a little flat. Tim Curry is a fantastic singer and they definitely underused him and the actor who played Jim had a nasally falsetto that irked me. The rest of the songs were forgettable with the exception of Cabin Fever.

Score: 0.5

Fun

The majority of the time the Muppets deliver on fun. This is no exception. It had my daughter glued to the screen and me laughing most of the way.

Score: 1

Overall

This is one of my favourite Muppet movies and I enjoyed rewatching it. It’s nice watching a movie you loved as a kid and finding out it doesn’t suck.

If you want a fun watch with pirates and Muppets, this is your choice.

Final Score: 3.5 Stars

Point Zero – Chapter 9


Prologue | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12


Chapter 9: Motivation, Mysteries, and Melting

The man pretending to be a doctor smirked as he waited for me to explain how I’d figured out who he was. “It’s not that hard. Your mask didn’t cover that chin. Put together with the fact that Animator isn’t here to help and my suit is still attached to me, that means this isn’t a real hospital. Plus this place smells like old paint and dust.” It was a smell I was so familiar with because of helping Frank in the theatre at school.

“Well done,” he said as he dramatically clapped. His facial expression and tone made it clear that it wasn’t a compliment. “Now. Tell me what you can about those abominations.”

“You know more than I do. They melt in water and have tech inside.” I wanted to see where this went.

“And the storm?”

I’m not sure why I lied there. I was worried for Mel. I hoped she was okay and took comfort in the fact that my suit was still on me. It meant that Mel was alive. “I did that. Sorry I got a little over zealous. You understand that right?”

His eyes flashed with anger but he just smiled smugly. He stayed that way, almost preternaturally still as I tried to figure out how to get out of the restraints. 

The mechanical sound next to me reminded me that I was attached to an intravenous drip. I sent a small electric bolt through my body and into the machine. The fizzing noise and the smoke rising from the top were satisfying.

The Puppeteer was still standing watching me, but it felt less like he was watching and more like a blank eyed stare from a video game character.

“Why gold?” I asked and he seemed to wake up.

“I really don’t need anything but the dance we’ve been doing. Villain versus hero, good versus bad, we dance you and I and it’s wondrous.”

“You don’t care for the gold or money?”

“I’d only make an army of golden children. Goldilocks with lazers.” He shrugged and smirked and it looked completely wrong on his face. Like a bad actor or maybe a bad mask.

The thing about restraints is that there isn’t a material on earth that doesn’t melt eventually. Tungsten melts at 5410 Celsius and boils at 5930 Celsius. A lightning bolt at full force can heat the air around it at temperatures hotter than the sun itself; that’s in the high 20,000 Celsius. They weren’t using tungsten.

“So all you want is to fight us with more and more ridiculous puppets?”

“No. I like the dance. I live for the dance. But I have a bigger goal—”

I didn’t let him finish. A concentrated blast of electricity around my wrists and ankles at the restraints was enough to make them evaporate. The room was filled with a black smoke and the smell of burning tires.

It was as good a smoke screen as I could have expected. I jumped up out of the bed and landed on my feet. The world tilted sideways and and then so did I. The floor was kind enough to catch me… specifically my face. I tasted blood and tried again to stand up. The world shifted a little again and I realized what was going on. 

“You drugged me?”

“I’m evil not stupid,” he said through coughs. The room was clearing of smoke but my mind and equilibrium were still terrible. 

I’m not sure what gave me the idea but I figured that if the heat from my lightning could melt the rubber, maybe it could burn the drugs out of my body. 

“Seeing as you’re not stupid, I think you might want to leave the room, maybe the building.” It sounded cooler in my head but I blame the drugs. At least it wasn’t a pun, Mel would be disappointed.

I started building the lightning inside of me but it wasn’t enough; I was tired and had already used a lot of my strength on the restraints.  I started to worry that I wouldn’t be able to do it. I looked around and found nothing to help me but I felt electricity buzzing in the walls. I reached with my mind or powers towards it and felt a rush of relief as I drained the energy.

The Puppeteer was still standing there with a disinterest look on his face. “Get out of here!” I screamed and he didn’t even flinch.

I knew that he wasn’t going to move and I tried to redirect my energy and heat. Finally I literally burst with energy. My last thought before it happened was that this could burn my insides along with the drug. It was too late to worry about it at that point.

I was drugged, tired, recovering from burns, and being the focal point for a supernatural storm and I still managed to save the man in front of me when I exploded. The room behind me and in a large arc was destroyed and on fire. Thankfully the room had been a set built to look like a hospital and not a real one. Another thing I hadn’t considered.

Feeling better and still crackling with energy I stood up and said, “This ends now.” Forming a sword with low energy I hoped it would be enough to knock him out not kill him.

“I’m sorry but it really doesn’t. You’re showing some incredible control. I’m impressed. I’ll have to up my game… After I take out the imposter.” He pulled out a gun.

I kicked the gun out of his hand and he jumped at me like he thought he had a knife in his hands. He impaled himself on my sword; it should have just been enough to disrupt his heart, but instead it burnt a hole through his shirt and sand started to fall out of the wound.

The Puppeteer spoke through his puppet, “You didn’t think I’d make it that easy for you? Did you, Sam?”

Read Chapter 10 (October 2020)


While you wait for the next chapter, check out the previous serial story:

Dear Dragon – Welcome to Level 4

Dear Little Dragon,

It’s been a big year for you.

Since your last birthday you’ve:

  • Potty trained to a point of no accidents;
  • Learned the alphabet in English (working on french);
  • Learned to count to 10 in English (working on french);
  • Learned to write your letters (better than me);
  • Graduated out of a booster seat at the dinner table;
  • Gone to Disney and your first rides;
  • Been an excellent if over-enthusiastic big sister;
  • Watched a lot of movies
  • Started école
  • and a lot of other fantastic things.
Dragon talking to fantastic FadhiliTheOne for a birthday video chat.

One of my favourite memories from this past year is the long-weekend we spent just you and me. You’ve already forgotten most of it, so you say, but it was fun. It was Halloween and we hung out, watched Phineas & Ferb, went to the cinema, played video games, and of course trick or treated. It was nice to have time just you and me.

On the bus on our way home from seeing Abominable in cinema.

Another great memory is you dictating your Christmas letter to Santa and making sure you told him what Adrien wants. You truly love him and want to take care of him. It’s sweet and I hope that love and the adoration I see in his eyes don’t go away as you age.

One of your favourite things right now is to snuggle into someones lap and play video games with them on their phone. I’m not sure if it’s the game or the bonding you want but I’ll take the snuggles. (You’re already asking for your own phone by the way.)

I guess I can’t talk about this year without talking about Covid-19, or as you call it The Virus. You love being around people and last year you went to conventions with us, parties, and Disney. Then March came and everything stopped. It’s been hard for you and I’m so glad we podded with your grandparents.

I miss going shopping with you, I miss going to the park, I miss not panicking every time you touch a package. You have been great though. I’m not sure how much you get the concept, but you seem to understand it’s important.

One great thing about it, is that you have me home. I still hope you’ll be able to go to école for your first grade but everything is up in the air until a vaccine.

You’ve grown physically, mentally, and emotionally so much since you turned 3. (Oh man am I glad you’re no longer having full-on sensory overload tantrums anymore.) I can’t imagine what you’re going to be like next year, but I look forward to being there and finding out.

Happy Birthday, love you!

Your sappy Papa

Bill & Ted Series – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1989 movie Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, the 1991 movie Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, and the 2020 movie Bill & Ted Face the Music.

Story

Excellent Adventure

This story is dated in so many ways but still manages to be fantastic at the end. I’m torn between the poor pacing, homophobia, and sexism; and the fantastic message of love and peace.

Score: 0.5

Bogus Journey

The same message resounds through the second movie as in the first, but again there’s more sexism, homophobia, and transphobia to make things awkward. Again the ending is fantastic.

Score: 0.5

Face the Music

The same message of unity and love are sown throughout this movie like the others but with a little more maturity. The twist is predictable but getting there wasn’t. There was none of the previous movies’ sexism, homophobia, or transphobia, but there was a little bit of an awkward fat joke. (nothing compared to Avengers Endgame)

Score: 0.5

Characters

Excellent Adventure

Bill and Ted are well meaning, mostly kind, but so foolish. They have fantastic vocabularies but they really don’t seem to follow everything going on. They are the personification of the slacker. There was an extremely homophobic joke that was out of character and pretty jarring.

The rest of the characters are a wonderful mix of what-if historical characters showed up in 1988.

Unfortunately the women are all pretty useless.

Score: 0.5

Bogus Journey

Once again we get Bill and Ted as sweet, mostly, caring, and pretty fools. They graduated high school and got jobs at the mall.

The evil people are all very much evil and totalitarian. It’s an interesting switch to see the rebels be the ones who want to be controlled.

Score: 0.5

Face the Music

This is the saddest and the most relatable version of Bill and Ted. They are broken by the weight of their own destiny but still trying anyway.

The introduction of the daughters was great. They are the generation that grew up with music-obsessed slackers. They were both believable and perfect. Both actors managed to mimic the original Bill and Ted’s movements and mannerisms better than the original actors did.

I’m happy they gave the princesses both more story and more screen time.

Score: 1

Dialogue

Excellent Adventure

The dialogue is actually impressively clever. They bypass time travel confusion really well and do really well with making their characters sound unique. It’s endlessly quotable in the way only 80’s movies can be.

Score: 0.5

Bogus Journey

Station! The dialogue doesn’t seem quite as special the second time, but there are some fantastic lines. The time travel battle at the end and speech is fantastic.

Score: 0.5

Face the Music

It’s hard to judge the dialogue of this one compared to the others. It’s a lot of self-referential jokes and quips but there’s some interesting bit in there too. I like the consistency in speech patterns and then impressive impersonations of famous musicians.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

Excellent Adventure

The production value on this was fantastic, making each time period look authentic (in an 80’s high school curriculum sort of way).

The music was perfect for the movie and really enjoyable.

Score: 1

Bogus Journey

The nature of them going to hell and heaven make so that everything in this movie is more stylized and a little darker.

The music was okay but not excellent.

Score: 0.5

Face the Music

The special effects were updated and beautiful, the makeup work was fantastic, and everything worked towards the story. The locations were authentic and the shots were well thought out.

The nature of the final twist means that the music is less important than the message, but despite that there’s some fantastic pieces. Especially between the historical figures.

Score: 1

Fun

Excellent Adventure

Despite a little cringe and a few really awkward moments the movie is pure fun.

Score: 1

Bogus Journey

There’s some cringe and a few parts that I think drag but overall the movie is a lot of fun.

Score: 1

Face the Music

For both nostalgic reasons and because it was well written with little to no cringe, this was a lot of fun. It kept the entire family entertained and watching.

Score: 1

Overall

Excellent Adventure

The movie is dated but still really heartwarming. They really want to push the love and peace message and like Bill and Ted themselves they stumble a few times along the way.

Final Score: 3.5 Stars out of 5

Bogus Journey

Like the first movie, it is dated but overall positive. It manages to capture the optimism of the first despite the darker tone.

Final Score: 3 Stars out of 5

Face the Music

The movie manages to pay homage to the first two while surpassing them in fun and quality. Definitely my favourite of the series.

Final Score: 4 Stars out of 5

Busy, pumpkins, and tired

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Work is starting to ramp up for the return of parliament (I do layouts for government reports, a lot of them are tabled in parliament). So I’m really busy. Especially with work, the preparations for the JenEric Advent Calendar, and Dragon going to school.

Pegasus is really into stacking things. Here he’s stacked 2 blue cylinders on my shoulder.

I’m also really tired from the last hurrah of this season’s seasonal allergies (apparently that means I have different allergies each season) and Pegasus having issues sleeping (more teeth and growing pains). All that to say that I haven’t had as much time to dedicate to writing or blogging. Sorry about that.

In other news, pie pumpkins are in stores here which means I’ll be going all out on pumpkin stuff. I’ve already roasted two of them and eaten the seeds. This weekend I’ll attempt Pumpkin & Spice Doughnuts if I have the time and energy.

Hope you’re all doing well.

Stay Safe and Be Kind!

Éric