Influences on Reality

Fiction has had a lot of influence in our daily life. Just look at all the gadgets that Star Trek suggested would be the way of the future, that we actually have now in 2016! Tablets, communicators, cell phones, etc. But I’d like to look at the places that have been influenced by fiction.

1. Stargate Command

Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado is the base for NORAD, but there’s rumour that there is a door that has a sign saying “Stargate Command”. Unfortunately, since the US military moved back into the mountain, only tours with “a mission-critical rationale for visiting the mountain, where the tour is essential in performing their daily functions in defending the homelands” may enter the complex. Darn.

2. Platform 9 and 3/4

Any Harry Potter fan would enjoy visiting King’s Cross station, and they’ve even set up a trolley halfway through the wall between platforms 9 and 10. The station also has “Hogwarts Express” listed on their screens at 11 am on September 1st. I would love to show up on that day at that time, dressed as a witch. Anyone want to do that with me?

Image from www.cdn.collider.com/
Image from www.cdn.collider.com

3. 221b Baker Street

Although the Sherlock Holmes house doesn’t exist at this address, there is now a Sherlock Holmes Museum that you can go visit. When Doyle wrote the series, Baker St only went up to #85!

Image from www.res.cloudinary.com
Image from www.res.cloudinary.com

4. Ghostbusters Firestation, NY

There is a fire station in New York, Hook and Ladder Company 8, that was the setting for the Ghostbusters headquarters. They have some cute little nods to the movie, both inside and out.

Ghostbusters_Firehouse_2_(2007)
Inside the building. Image from wikimedia.

 

Outside the station. Image from bradstudios.

Let me help you plan your trip. You can contact Jennifer Desmarais through Orleans Travel. jennifer.desmarais@orleanstravel.ca

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South Korea themed cafes

Heading to South Korea? After seeing all these awesome little cafes, I just might go soon! Here are a few that I found that looked interesting to me!

Harry Potter

The newest is Hogsmeade; a Harry Potter themed bar. It’s in North Gyeongsang Province, on the East coast of South Korea.

 

Hogsmeade, image from utiedkpop.com
Hogsmeade Cafe in South Korea, image from unitedkpop.com.

They have all sorts of Harry Potter-themed treats, including butterbeer and chocolate frogs, and if you haven’t gotten your house robes yet, you can buy them here, no matter which house you’re in. (As a Hufflepuff, I always find it difficult to get merch with my house, although stores are getting better!) The interior is stunningly decorated, and you might forget that you’re not actually in Hogsmeade!

Sherlock

221B is a very classy and elegant cafe in Seoul, with great attention to detail in the decor – check out the picture of the bathroom wallpaper! They have Sherlockian coffee and food items, including eggs Benedict. 😉 There’s a TV screen that shows the episodes on constant repeat. I wonder if they had a viewing party when the new episodes came out this year?

Monster Movies

Monster Cupcakes in Seoul has sweet treats based on classic monsters. They haven’t posted any pictures on their Facebook page since 2012, but hopefully they’re still around!

Doctor Who

Although not a cafe, the Doctor Who Pub & Grill in Anyang is a cute little place with subtle (and some not-so-subtle) nods to the British TV show, mostly through the decor. The food is not themed, or at least it wasn’t at the time of the article that I linked you to (April 2015). We can only hope they’ve added Whovian related foods to their menu now that it’s been around for a while.

Charlie Brown

There’s a cute little cafe called the Charlie Brown Cafe in Oebalsan-dong, Incheon Airport. The food, especially the pastries, is absolutely adorable, with images of the characters included in the edibles. You can also buy merchandise. The decor is mainly why I want to go here.

The interior of the Charlie Brown Cafe. Image from blogspot.com.
The interior of the Charlie Brown Cafe. Image from blogspot.com.

Hello Kitty

Of course there is a Hello Kitty Cafe. Actually, there are several throughout South Korea. The decor is adorable, the food is themed, and you can buy merchandise.

I hope you enjoyed this quick run-through of the themed cafes in South Korea! There are more that I didn’t talk about here.

If you’d like help booking a trip to South Korea. You can contact Jennifer Desmarais through Orleans Travel. jennifer.desmarais@orleanstravel.ca

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Umbridge

The most hated character from the magical world managed to get her hands on the TARDIS. I think I broke one of her Educational Decrees. Yikes!

Thank you to Popsquatch Designs for being such a good sport! You were fantastic!

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Magischola

If you’re involved in any sort of Harry Potter community, you’ve probably heard about the LARP (Live-Action Role Play) that ran for four days in Czocha Castle, Poland. It was organized by the College of Wizardry, and the first event was so popular, that they opened up several more weekends. They currently (at the time of this article) only have a few spaces left April 21-24.

This idea was so well received in Europe that the Americas wanted to host one of their own.

Enter Magischola. A Kickstarter to get tickets for two weekends in summer 2016, that only launched on November 23, 2015, has already reached $161,640 (at the time of this article)! Last night (November 24), they opened a third weekend in July 2016, and I bet it’s already sold out as well. (Predicting the future! I should study Divination, if I’m correct.)

University of Richmond campus. Image taken from https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/nwmagischola/new-world-magischola-a-college-of-wizardry-larp/description
University of Richmond campus. Image taken from Magischola Kickstarter

For those of us who are not going, the stretch goals include a 15 minute documentary (already reached) and a 30 minute documentary (reached at 180K). I’m excited to see this. We will have a guest post in late 2016, written by one of the attendees, about their time at the event.

Do you have questions? They have answers! I learned that the University campus is wheelchair accessible, and will accept service animals. Currently, they only offer this event for ages 18+, but if they make enough money through the Kickstarter (300K), they will offer a family-friendly summer camp type event in summer 2017, that will include children ages 11-17.

Magischola will be offering their LARP on the campus of the University of Richmond, in Richmond Virginia on the Eastern coast of the United States. You can only buy tickets through the Kickstarter, and these tickets will cover your accommodation and meals during your intended stay.

But how will you get there?

People who are close can travel by car, or by AMTRAK train, but if you’re further away, flights will probably be best. The organizers will be looking into getting a shuttle from both the airport and the train station, once they know how many people will be travelling from each.

If you’d like help booking your train or flight tickets. You can contact Jennifer Desmarais through Orleans Travel. jennifer.desmarais@orleanstravel.ca

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Halloween fun

This weekend is Halloween, and if you’re looking for something last-minute to do, I’m sure there’s a Halloween party just around the corner. In Ottawa, Can-Con will have Trick-or-Treating in the vendor’s room all day, and it’s free to the public, so be sure to stop by!

But if you’re looking for something a little further from home and off the beaten path, here are some great last-minute options!

Ithaca, New York

Do you like Harry Potter? Would you be interested in visiting Diagon Alley? For five hours on Halloween, Ithaca NY is transforming Press Bay Alley into Diagon Alley and I desperately want to go!! There will be a House Cup Competition, a Horcrux Hunt, a costume contest, presentations on magical creatures, wizarding chess, Quidditch re-enactments, wizarding duels, and so much more! This is their first event, so maybe I’ll be able to go next year…

A real-life Diagon Alley in Ithaca! I want to go!
A real-life Diagon Alley in Ithaca! I want to go! Image from http://ithacavoice.com/

The Catacombs of Paris

You would have had to enter the contest with Airbnb, but two lucky (or unlucky?) winners will be the first people to spend Halloween night in the Catacombs under Paris – the home of seven million corpses. Dinner, a private concert, breakfast, and a storyteller will put them to sleep with creepy bedtime stories “guaranteed to produce nightmares”. Who would like to participate in this? Certainly not me!

Hope the winners never saw the terrifying horror movie As Above, So Below or it’s trailer.

Creepy! Image from www.i.telegraph.co.uk
Creepy! Image from www.i.telegraph.co.uk

The Stanley Hotel in Colorado

The Stanley Hotel is one of the most haunted hotels in the world. It was the setting for Stephen King’s “The Shining”. Reportedly haunted by Lord Stanley and his wife, as well as kids who run along the fourth floor halls at two in the morning, and many others, this would be the place to go to test yourself. It is open for business, and hosts a Ghost Adventure Package as well as standard room packages.

Just don’t order the Redrum…

The Stanley Hotel. Image from www.stanleyhotel.com
The Stanley Hotel. Image from www.stanleyhotel.com

If you are interested in going on any of these cruises, or others. You can contact Jennifer Desmarais through Orleans Travel. jennifer.desmarais@orleanstravel.ca

Happy Haunting!


References

https://www.facebook.com/events/1633034433638155/
http://ithacavoice.com/2015/10/2400-harry-potter-fans-to-transform-ithaca-street-into-diagon-alley/
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/11929209/Airbnb-offers-Halloween-night-in-Paris-Catacombs.html
http://www.stanleyhotel.com/

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Norway

Norway is a beautiful country full of geeky opportunities. Tons of movies were filmed there, including “Empire Strikes Back” (in Finse), “Die Another Day”, “Eight Below”, “G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra”, and “Captain America: The First Avenger” (in Svalbard), parts of “Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince” (in Rauma), “Ex Machina” (in Norddal and Luster), and “Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows” (in Mardalsfossen). Of course, “Vikings” was shot in many locations in Norway, including Sokndal, Bjerkreim, Gjesdal, Forsand, Aurland, and Stranda.

Note: Svalbard is an island much further North of the continent, and would probably be a trip all on it’s own.

And that’s not even counting Oslo, Norway’s capital. One of the best comic book stores exists there: Outland. They have everything you could possibly want, including Lego, board games, comic books (obviously), and collectibles.

Akershus Fortress is also located in Oslo. It was used as the model for Arendelle’s castle in Frozen, and Norway’s building in Epcot is a replica of the Fortress.

Akershus Fortress picture from www.visitolso.com
Akershus Fortress picture from www.visitolso.com

For History buffs, Norway is an amazing place to visit. They have museums, carvings, and historical centres all over the place. I read through this website, a mom and her six year old son’s trip to Norway was beautifully written.

She also writes about eight haunted places in Norway that you must visit. They have a Ghost Walk similar to the Haunted Walk in Ottawa!

Let’s not forget that Disney’s Cruise Line Magic has a “Frozen” themed cruise to Norway as well. See Norway with that Disney magic thrown in!

Anna and Elsa from Disney Cruise Line www.disneyparks.disney.go.com
Anna and Elsa from Disney Cruise Line www.disneyparks.disney.go.com

If you are interested in a trip to Norway, contact me Jennifer Desmarais through AJ Travel. jenniferd@ajtravel.ca

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The Author, Belle, and I – An Adventure at ComicCon

This story was inspired by real events. Someone posted something similar but much creepier on the blog of an author I like and it inspired me to write this story.

It’s an attempt at both an obvious moral and a romantic story.

Comments and criticisms are encouraged.

*All the events and characters in this story are made up. Any resemblance to real people is purely coincidence. Except the Pirate, he’s based off a friend M.F.*

Read moreThe Author, Belle, and I – An Adventure at ComicCon

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Word of the Day story April 1, 2014

It was Felix’s birthday and the day he hated the most in the world, the first of April.

For most people it’s a harmless tradition, a day to make people laugh, cry, or get angry. It was all in good fun, unless it was your birthday. If you were born on Christmas no one expected you to be an excellent gift giver. If you were born on Valentine’s Day no one expected you to be an amazing lover but if you were born on April Fools, you had to be an excellent prankster.

Felix didn’t even like pranks or jokes really. He was a serious man, which was reflected in his charcoal gray suit, simple tie, and professional haircut. His shoes were buffed and his world was organized. Just way he wanted it.

Every year since he had started working, he’d take the day off. Stating that it was nice to take his birthday off, the real reason was to avoid the chaos and frustration that the day brought him. Even then he’d sit in his home and fret about the possible and horrible pranks that the sillytonians of his city might attempt.

Unfortunately that day he had an important meeting and try as he might his client refused to move the date. So he was going into the office and he was going to be careful and vigilant. No one was going to trick him this year.

At his desk there was an envelope, in a disgustingly cheery blue colour. It said Happy Birthday Felix. Taking the handkerchief from his pocket, he nudged the envelope into the trash. You could never be too careful, he thought.

“Happy Birthday Felix!” stated Margery, his cubical mate. She was a distastefully messy person and even worse, she was always cheerful.

He looked at her and narrowed his eyes. What did she mean by happy birthday?

He pursed his lips. Why did she look so smug?

He tensed his shoulders. She wouldn’t be one of those hoax-ters, hoax-ians, Hoax-ites? He’d have to look that up later.

He flared his nostrils. What was she planning?

Looking guilty and backing away she said, “Your morning meeting is here.” Her voice cracked a little. She must be hiding something.

Taking off his coat, boots, and hat, he placed them in their proper areas. His hat shifted and he righted it. Jaunty was for pirates and criminals not hat racks.

When he had put away all his things he looked at his watch, it read eight-fifteen. His client was dreadfully early. Their meeting was set for eight-forty-five. They would just have to wait.

At precisely eight-forty-three, he walked into the boardroom. His client was sitting at the large table reading a book. A large hardcover book with bright colours and some sort of large lizard on it.

When she put down the book Felix was transfixed by the intelligent green eyes that had been hiding behind it. Beyond piercing eyes was a perfectly symmetrical face on a proportional head. The rest of her was well dressed and professional. Her suit could be the perfect match for his with the exception that she wore a scarf and not a tie. The scarf however was dark red; the shade was perfectly mirrored in her lipstick.

Despite her use of garish colour, he felt well disposed towards her. Which he’d would openly admit is better than he felt about most of the human race.

“Mister Felicis, it is nice to finally meet you,” she held out her hand and to his great shock he shook it. Normally he would expect there to be an electric buzzer or some other nonsense but he had been so distracted by his first impression that he didn’t consider it. There was no buzzer.

“Same to you Ms…?” he waited for her to sit before he did.

“Oh of course you’ve been dealing with my admin haven’t you. I’m Amanda Eris.”

“Nice to meet you Ms Eris. How can I be of service today?” He said it and was shocked with the realization that be meant it and wasn’t just being pleasant.

“Actually, I’ve been sent here to make sure you don’t die until next week.” Her left eyebrow went up slightly and she seemed to be smiling.

“Uhm, I see,” he started and then exclaimed, “What?” This had to be one of those vile chaotic jokes.

He got up, turned around and was about to leave when she said the words that would change Felix’s life forever, “I’m not joking look.” She pointed the remote control towards the boardroom television.

On the television were firefighters and police officers, along with multiple screaming people. Such a disgusting sight that he didn’t recognize his own apparent building until his picture was shown on the screen with the words “Suspect” under it.

Read Part Two

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Bad Books

Hello Imaginary Friend,

Something has been bothering me lately. The idea of whether a book can be bad and I think my opinion is going to be unpopular.

How a book can be bad

There are two ways I can see a book being bad.

One; they come to life and try to stab people. (Arguably the homicidal books could be considered misunderstood. If people tried to bend my pages and break my spine, I’d be pissed.)

Two; if the book was decomposing and had gone bad. (I swear I will never write another book on banana peels again.)

Academics and Morality

You can analyze a book and come to the conclusion that it’s not of academic importance. Its themes are weak, its ideas cliché, its language reductive, and it’s message garbled. You can then pass judgment on it as an example of poor writing and say it’s bad.

You can also analyze a books Morality and message and find it to be opposed to your beliefs. You can find books reprehensible in their message and morals. Does that make a book bad? Evil yes bad, I’m not sure.

There are examples throughout history of people finding a book academically wanting and of no importance and being horribly wrong. My classic example is Shakespeare’s plays, academics of his time dismissed his plays as useless and base. Same has applied to morality.

Reading is Good

There are a lot of arguments about whether or not the Harry Potter series, Twillight Series, or 50 Shades of Grey Series are good.

There’s one argument that people use to stop discussing their worth. “At least they have people reading.” As an Aspiring Author, this argument makes perfect sense financially for me. More people who read equal a larger possible audience. So consider me biased.

Let’s take 50 Shades of Grey, (sold over 90 million books).

Are there many people who picked up the series, people who have never read before? Possibly. I’d guess there aren’t as many as Harry Potter since it’s aimed at an older audience.

Are those people going to try and find more like this to read? Probably. Either because they were disappointed and wanted something else or because they liked it and want more.

Is a whole group of people looking for something else in the same style a bad thing? I don’t know. I haven’t read the books but from what my sources tell me there are some pretty wrong notions on gender equality and the nature of BDSM. I’m willing to bet that there are some great books in the same genre that would reinforce good ideas and that there will be more people who find them because of it though.

Is it bad for the publishing world? I don’t know and I don’t have an opinion on this.

How can something so crappy be so popular? You’ll hear all sorts of sexist comments on this subject. Try to not punch those who make them. (It’s not worth it.) Something was missing from society and publishing that people didn’t know they wanted until they had the chance.

Whether it was the fact that 50 Shades of Grey wasn’t hiding behind a curtain, or that it made people talk about sex and erotica, I don’t know. But I’m convinced that it wasn’t a fluke but an untapped market.

What’s your point Eric?

Wow you’re impatient today. It’s simple. In my opinion it’s better for people to be reading and getting passionate about books than to never read and not care.

Reading is a great way to relax, learn new words, discover new worlds, and learn more about yourself.

Reading is good. Telling people what to read is bad.

Eric’s Rule about Media

This is something you’ve been told your whole life and it’s simply this:

Consume all media critically!

I’m sure I didn’t come up with this idea. None the less, passively consuming anything is a bad idea. Question what you’re consuming and try to understand what makes you like or dislike something.

By understanding how something makes you feel and what it’s trying to say you are not only helping yourself but you’ll be able to give people a better idea why you like or dislike something.

One last thing

STOP attacking people about what they read!

STOP acting like your preferred literature is better!

And

Read!
(Blogs, books, magazines, social media, newspapers, etc)

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