Today we’re talking about the 2023 film Elemental.
The trailers made this look like a trope-y rom-com rip-off of Zootopia. What it is instead is a wonderful story of immigration and family. The elements together in a big city is used well and not as a gimmick but a metaphor.
The two main charactes are animated in very traditional proportions and that’s unfortunate and stereotypical.
Their personalities are much better however and don’t fall into stereotypes too much. It did feel a little odd that neither of them had friends.
The rest of the characters and cast are fun and fairly well fleshed out.
There are so many element puns that I can’t wait to rewatch and catch more.
The dialogue was very honest to their emotions and simplified. I liked the micro-aggressions from the well-meaning family, it gave the story some needed grounding.
Visuals and Music
The animation was amazing. Lighting, colour, detail, backgrounds, all beautiful. I loved the line art look of the fire people.
One of the fun parts of watching things with subtitles is seeing how they describe the music. Accorting to the subtitles, the music was “[Emotion] New Age music”. It was however extremely well done and worked perfectly with the tone and feel of the world.
This was fun in every concievable way. The 6yo said it was good but not great and the three year old concured.
The rest of the family loved it and I think it’s one of my top Pixar movies. Definitely going to want to rewatch this one.
The movie takes the story of an immigrant family and wraps it into a magical world of elements. The emotions are authentic and story compelling. It’s colourful, fun, and easy to watch.
Last year, before my pain became too worrisome, Jen and I wrote a book called Faymous. While writing it, we added a character who showed up in flashbacks. The further along we went, the sillier her actions became, each of us adding every flashback.
The idea was that I’d write a short story at the end that would explain everything that had happened with the character, but then pain and worry about hurting myself got in the way.
I wrote it slowly, 200-500 words a session, writing 15 minutes here and there.
I was told by my occupational therapist that I could write a little more as long as I took breaks and listened to my pain levels.
So after ten months and almost 7000 words, I finally finished the story. It’s called New Year’s Eve… on repeat, and it’s another time loop, because I apparently like the challenge.
It was fun to pull together all the threads that we’d randomly spread through the novel.
We’ve received three very nice rejections for Faymous. That means I have no idea when it’ll be published, but I’ll let you know.
We are looking for beta readers. If you’re interested, let us know!
I haven’t written much in the past five months. I did, however, manage to write a short story that I’ve submitted to an anthology. I’m really proud of the story and the storytelling in it.
I’d love to tell you all about it, but it’s an anonymous submission so I can’t. I’ll let you know if I get into the anthology, if not it’ll probably go into a short story collection… Once I can write more regularly.
Writting is one of my biggest stress relievers, and losing that has been really hard. I know there are other methods (speech to text, narrating, etc) but I’m not quite ready to admit that I won’t be able to go back to my old ways of writting.
Sorry for the vague post, but I wanted to share my excitment. I hope the editors like my story as much as I do.
Our newest work in progress has been called The Untitled Shawna and Randal Book through the writing of the first seventeen chapters. Before that, it was called Guise and Dolls, before that, it was called Dolls of the Magic Shop.
A lot has changed in the story since it’s initial concept, and with Jen’s help, it’s infinitely better.
So without further ado, the new novel is called: Faymous
After the strangest New Year’s Eve ever, Shawna and Randal wake up in Fay. Nothing is as it seems, they can’t remember how they got there, and someone or something is hunting them. With luck, stubbornness, and a ukulele, they’ll flirt, fight, and sing their way home.
We have three chapters and two epilogues left before we’re done, but I already love this novel.
I can’t wait to share it with all of you. (Unfortunately, with editing, submissions, and schedules, we’re looking at 3-6 years)
If you’re interested in Beta reading, we’re more than happy to have the help.
“Ooo-ooo-ooo the heroes of Westmeath, The Phantom and the Wraith!” sang Merlin as they slowly walked towards the forest. “I’ve had that stuck in my head, this time, for over a millenia.”
“What is this about and why are you so old?” Oberon asked.
Laughing slightly as if the man had made a great joke, Merlin replied, “Don’t be hasty. I am very old, but we’ll get there in time.”
Titania looked like she was going to say something, but instead rolled her eyes.
“This is about magic isn’t it?” I asked.
“Astute observation, Robin,” Merlin replied. “Can you feel it?”
I shook my head. “You’re a wizard, so I assumed.”
We walked for a long time until the Fay realms started to thin. They were young and hadn’t solidified; they weren’t a planet like Everworld or Earth. They were just a giant plain of existence.
We came to the end where the Fay realms reverted into pure Aether and Merlin, with the ease of a school teacher, explained, “The Fay realms were built of pure inner power, magic from another universe completely. It’s not compatible with the magic from this universe. It’s too…” He paused and looked around.
When he didn’t say anything, I ventured, “Organized?”
“Yes,” he said and clapped his hands together. “Aether is partially sentient and always trying to convert order into chaos. The nascent universe over there—” he gestured back where we’d come from. “—It has a natural defence against Aether called a barrier. You do not have one.”
That’s when I saw that the ground in front of us was receding slowly.
Peaseblossom made a high pitched sound and said, “Fay is being eaten?”
Merlin only nodded as the rest of us stared at him, wide-eyed. It was Titania that finally said, “What do we do?”
“Nothing. It’ll slowly eat at Fay until a barrier is put up or it consumes everything,” Merlin said casually.
“Can you do anything?” Mav asked, somehow sounding bored and worried at the same time.
“Me, yes. Me now, no. I wasn’t expecting to be here yet, but since I was the only me here, I figured I’d warn you. Just don’t go into the Aether and you’ll be okay for a while. I’ll be back after I see a girl about a ring.” He fidgeted with a large crystal ring before turning back and slowly walking back towards the Deep realms.
The other others walked away from Merlin to do whatever it was they wanted to do. I stayed back to walk with him. After a long time of walking, I asked him something that had bothered me my whole life, or less than a few hours, I suppose. “Why us? Who made us? Why are we here? What’s the goal?”
Merlin seemed to think it over and finally answered, “Chaos thrives on imbalance. The Fay balance out the Humans just like New Albion will balance Everdome.” When I looked confused, he said, “Fay are important to creating a balanced universe that won’t collapse back into chaos.”
He went back to walking as if that had explained anything and just when I thought he’d forgotten what I’d asked he added, “You were magical crystals created when powerful creatures died. The Mulciber took those souls and experimented, creating superpowered crystals they could use as a powersource. A group of brave people fought them and took the crystals, redirecting a great gate into this universe and planned on building a better, less dangerous home. They succeeded in creating the universe, but not so much with the safer.”
“So I’m a rebirth of a bunch of magical souls?” I asked.
“Yes,” he replied with a smile. “You were always my favourite Robin.”
I watched Merlin walk towards the Deep realms forest as another version of him, somehow older, walked out. As they crossed each other, the younger said, “You dawdled.”
The elder replied, “Yes and you would have, will, do the same thing.”
They both burst into chuckles and then walked away from one another. The elder Merlin saw me and smiled like we’d not seen each other in a long time. “Robin, my old friend. If I had to choose who would be there when I die, you would have made the top one-hundred for sure.”
I ignored the bitterness in his voice and asked, “Die? Are you dying? What can I do to help you?”
He patted my shoulder and said, “You’re so young. I’ve lived a long time. Not as long as you will, but longer than most humans should.”
“Why are you here if you’re dying?”
“I am the Guardian of Reality. The universe has given me everything I have ever wanted and it’s time I pay it back for that.” He said it as if it answered my question, but I felt like I was missing parts.
“Are all wizards this cryptic?” I asked.
“Only the good ones and those that forget how much information they’re supposed to give.” We reached the fading parts of Fay again and I was alarmed to see how much had been lost. He nodded to me and said, “This is my stop. I’m going to become the barrier for Fay. The only advice I have for you is to take time to truly enjoy life. Sometimes we’re too busy living that we forget how much fun it is and take it too seriously.”
With that, and before I could ask any questions, he stepped back, and with a flash of white light, disappeared. When my vision cleared, the thinning was gone. I walked forward to where it had been and there was nothing but more of the realm.
Our realm was complete and the universe set into motion. I didn’t appreciate what that meant at the time, but I wasn’t even a day old.
Book and story ideas pop into my head more often than is comfortable. When one really sticks it’s like a piece of popcorn in my teeth and I don’t get full relief until I get it out on paper.
A Proof of Concept is kind of like a trial run. It’s me wiggling the popcorn (story) with my tongue.
This would be the third in my LGBT+ Romance / Northern Ontario Horror novels, along with Copper Tarnish and Parabiosis which I think will need a new name.
“Why the hell do you smell like antiseptic?” screamed my mother. I didn’t wait for my dad’s reply and closed my door. It was an open secret that Mr. Zelan had built himself a still and was selling alcohol from the back of the pharmacy.
It had been less then a month since we’d moved here. Somehow my parents thought that after ten years of fighting, cheating, and just generally being bad at being married; that moving into an experimental green community in the middle of nowhere would save their marriage.
I was extra pissed because I’d believed them and instead of doing my first year of university at Western or U of T like I wanted, I was stuck two hours northwest of Big Falls Ontario.
Aeter Aerospace had been around since they broke off from Door Technologies in 2004. It had since made a name for itself in every aspect of space travel technology. It created everything for both space missions and consumers. Because everyone needs space-worthy airfiltraion and aeroponics.
Aeter had decided that it needed a testing and development facility. So came the idea of creating The Community of Tomorrow. Build an approximation of what you’d need on Mars or the Moon and then fill it with two-thousand of the brightest, most gullible minds and their kids.
If the first month of this place was any indication, it was a damn good thing they didn’t try it in antarctica or actual space. There has so far been a murder suicide, two people escaping into the wild, and history’s lamest black market.
Not to mention the power outages.
I could hear my parents yelling even through the thick ‘space’ door. Everything here was space or tech or something that sounded like it was named by a middlegrader. The power went out and they didn’t stop fighting. If anything, it got worse.
I stormed out of my room. I’m not sure what I was going to do; yell, scream, tell them to get a divorce? Any thought I had left my mind when I saw them. Standing there yelling, but not moving, just standing with their arms at their sides, no emotion on their faces. Nothing was moving, but their lips.
That’s when I saw the thing for the first time. It unfolded itself from the shadows with a series of cracking noises that sounded wet. Its legs and arms were too long and it looked like it didn’t have any skin. What still keeps me up at night was its face. It looked like a skull with silly string oozing all over it and teeth in every hole.
It’s teeth chittered at me like a squirrel run through an autotune and then the power came back on and my parents started moving normally.
Okay. I’m liking this one. No idea when I’ll write it, but I look forward to it.
The first thing I remember is the voice of a young man saying, “Where are we?”
A second voice answered him, this time a young woman, “It’s not where but when, big brother.”
“Fine, Morgan. When are we?”
“We are at the beginning of our universe. This is the Aether, but the question is, what are those?”
A gentle, dark brown hand picked me up and the young man asked, “Don’t you know?”
“No. You never told me. Spoilers and all that.”
I tried to speak, but with no mouth or body per-say, I couldn’t. “These look a lot like the Aetheria crystals. Its magic signature feels familiar.” The man finished what he was saying and I felt myself changing.
If you’ve never gone from crystal to humanoid, it sort of feels like the best stretch you’ve ever had.
The woman, who I saw was dark with beautiful blue eyes said, “Ah. Robin Goodfellow.”
That is my name. I was named by the Guardian of Time. I am Robin, or Puck. Yes, that one, but my old friend William used little but my name.
“If this is the beginning of our universe, where’s Everworld?” the boy asked. He had the scraggly beginnings of a beard and close-cut brown hair. His skin was as dark as his sister’s.
I pointed at a large stone gate that seemed to float in the nothingness that surrounded us.
There were people walking through, lots of people. They were obviously carrying everything they owned into a vast nothingness. I felt bad for them and I didn’t know why.
“Wow. The original settlers of Everworld.” The man sounded awed.
There were thousands walking through the gate and I started walking towards them, but the woman stopped me. “No, Robin. Those events are already decided and you aren’t part of them.”
I watched them walk away for what seemed like a very long time before seeing one man closing the gate with magic. He looked sad while he clung to two crystals. He turned to us; he and his crystals disappeared, replaced by a ball of golden light.
“I think we just watched the big bang,” Morgan said, her voice serene.
“What about all these other crystals?” I asked, proud to have finally found my voice. “Are they like me?”
There were five other crystals, one of which had been shattered into three pieces. Morgana said to her brother, “Pick them up, you’ll know their names.”
In order, he picked them up and named them, “Oberon, Titania, Mav, and Peaseblossom.” As he touched and named them they became real and flesh like me.
Oberon was of brown skin with a deep red beard, I knew him then as the king of all Fay, even if there were only five of us. His first sound was a deep rumble of laughter, it flowed from him and filled the Fay realms with water.
Titania was dark skinned and the queen of the day. Her eyes and smile became the sun.
Mav was as pale as the moonlight, queen of night and shadows. Her hair blanketed the night.
Peaseblossom wasn’t tall and statuesque like the other three, they were short and furtive looking like a rabbit caught in the open. From them came all the plants and wildlife. They were the monarch of nature.
They all looked at me expectantly. What was I compared to the kings and queens? I was all the rest, I was magic, hope, joy, luck, power, cunning, and everything in between. I wasn’t a king or queen, I was the first Fay lord. From me came the Fay themselves, in all their many forms and failures.
To the three pieces of the last crystal, Merlin whispered,” Charites, Horae, and Moirai, the Three Sisters. You belong in Everworld.” Their forms didn’t fill out, instead turning into balls of light that sped towards where Everworld had been.
“What are we?” I asked Merlin.
He looked pensive and answered, “You are souls made of magic from the old realms. You were brought here to kickstart a new universe where magic wasn’t based on the spiritual energy of its people, but was a fundamental element of the universe.”
Morgana cocked her head sideways and asked, “How did you figure it out? It took me millennia of studying the old texts.”
“My thesis supervisor told me. He lived through the Fay and Mulciber wars.” He looked at us and shrugged before adding, “Oops. Spoilers.”
Something about the word, Mulciber, made me shiver in disgust and fear. An image of a long line of metal, snaking around a mountain, popped into my mind.
“So what do we do now?” asked Oberon.
“Be Fay,” said Merlin. When we looked confused, he added, “You get to decide what that means and try to be kind.”
Oberon, Titania, and Mav scoffed at Merlin’s comment, but I’m not sure they understood it. Peaseblossom had wandered off part way through the conversation and was talking to a tree.
“Goodbye and good luck.” Merlin turned to Morgana and asked, “Is this where you…”
Giving him a dirty look, she replied, “No, it’s further in. Follow me.” They walked into the forest and they hugged each other. It was the kind of hug where they knew they’d never see each other again. As they hugged, the world melted around her and everything went a little distorted. Both of them disappeared.
That forest and it’s boundaries where Morgana died became the Deep realms of Fay, a place of wild magic and even wilder temporal effects.
An old man walked out of the forest and looked at us in surprise. He looked like Merlin, but much older. His brown scruff had become a white beard, his brown skin turned a little grey, but his eyes hadn’t changed; they were still filled with mischief and curiosity.
He smiled and said, “Oh my. I’ve gone a little too far back this time. Glad I stopped or I would have met myself. That would be awkward.”
Both Parasomnia and Everdome are now available at your local book store and our store.
“MERLIN!” screamed all three little girls at once. They were small and graceful and loud. They were obviously sisters, despite their difference in colouring; one being metallic gold, another being black as ebony, and the last being the pale copper of the woman who was watching me with a raised eyebrow.
When I nodded at the woman, the three girls threw themselves at me. We hugged and I desperately tried to remember anything that would give me a hint of what was going on.
At the age of fifteen, I discovered I was destined to be the all-powerful and all-knowing Guardian of Reality known as Merlin. Or Emrys or the prophet Merlinus Ambrosius or Myrdin of Earth and Aether. No pressure right? The frustrating thing was that I’d met my older self and had even looked up to him, which had made the whole thing weird.
“What are we learning today?” asked the golden little girl.
“Well…” I trailed off.
She finished for me, “Ugh, not a review day.”
The woman, who was in her mid- to late-thirties, spoke with a slight accent I didn’t recognize and said, “Jamie, what’s a review day?”
The little girl with ebony skin replied, “It’s a day where he pretends he’s forgotten what he taught us and we have to teach it to him.”
Here’s the thing about being Merlin, it doesn’t happen in order. I haven’t been at it long, it’s hard being a Guardian and having a life. They obviously knew me well, but I had never met them.
The one thing I’d told myself last time I saw me, yeah, my life is interesting, was that I had to try and fake it as much as possible or we’d lose our mysterious wizard vibes.
“That’s right,” I said. “What was the last thing I taught you?”
The three girls pouted and their mother smirked, “Jamie, Adelaide, and Ajay, please humour him. He’s told me multiple times that teaching someone something is a great way to remember.”
That sounded more like something my father would say, but it was right.
The third little girl said, “You taught us about the importance of the Day of the Sisters and how it wasn’t just our birthday or a reason to party, it was a way for the world to celebrate the light overcoming the dark.”
I had come to this festively decorated castle looking for my sister. She’d taught me a spell that would let me jump between realms, realities connected through magic. I’d expected to arrive where she was, but magic doesn’t care about what I expect.
I’d been studying the realms with my thesis supervisor Mr. Batudev, who was an actual knight of Everdome. This wasn’t Everdome. Though the sky was clear of floating islands, there was a heavy snowfall and lots of clouds.
“Anything else?” I asked.
“You told us that we needed to know the realms and be able to name them,” Jamie said, looking proud of herself.
The woman smiled at me and looked away from the girls as she laughed.
“Right. So go ahead,” I said.
The three girls screamed the answer in perfect, unsettling, unison. “The new realms are Earth, the Fay, Everdome, Make-Believe, and here.”
“It’s important to say the name,” the woman said, winking at me.
“New Albion,” the girls replied. It was a strange realm; the youngest technically, only being a full realm for ten years, but it had its own history that dated back several thousand. It had been created by a group of people with more magical know-how than ethics and was now ruled by a High Queen that was said to be a great ruler and a massive nerd.
I was about to thank Queen Ashley of Cambria, High Queen of New Albion, when the girls continued, “The ancient realms are Asgal, Seidrheim, Mulciber, and the Great Forest.” I’d only heard of one of those outside Norse mythology.
“Alright, girls. I think Merlin has had enough for one day. Why don’t you eat some of that candy from your birthday?”
That reminded me. “Speaking of which, I have something for you girls. It’s not much, but happy birthday.” I reached into the pocket dimension that was built into my jeans and pulled out three chocolate bars. My fiancée loved salted caramel and I always had some on hand for her.
The girls took their chocolates and ran off. After a deep breath, Ashley said, “So you just always have those on you?”
“Yes,” I said, not wanting to say too much.
“Did you know that’s their favourite?”
“I do now,” I replied, which got me a chuckle.
She patted my shoulder and said, “I’m always amazed at how they don’t notice your change of age. Especially now, you’re what? Eighteen?”
“Twenty-two, actually,” I said sheepishly.
Nodding, she said, “You’re not supposed to be here yet. You don’t go off travelling until your nineties.”
I desperately wanted to ask why, but decided it was best not to know my own future. When you know you’re going to live a few thousand years, it’s best not to dwell on what will happen because it’ll inevitably be sad.
“I was looking for—” A portal opened with a loud TARDIS sound next to us and my sister walked through.
“There you are,” she said, almost scolding. “I left you a message to find me.”
Feeling like an idiot, I replied, “I tried.”
“I forget how young you are,” my sister replied. She was my sister, no doubt about it, but she wasn’t the sister from my time. My little sister was just over ten right now and this version of her looked eighteen. I’d never seen a version of her that looked older and that worried me.
“Right, I’m young and naive and you’re the ancient one.” I paused and looked at her eyes. They were tired and I realized she was ancient. “How long do you have?”
Ashley looked awkward and said, “Um. Sorry. Nice to meet you. You must be Morgana.”
“I am and it’s nice to see you again,” my sister said and shook the queen’s hand. Turning back to me, she said, “I need to show you the birth of time in our universes.”
“Why?” both Ashley and I asked.
“Like you guessed, I’m dying and you need to teach my successor.” She was the Guardian of Time.
I didn’t like the idea of my sister dying, but I asked, “Who’s your successor?”
“Me,” she replied and opened a portal.
The TARDIS noise reminded me I had a SD card in my pocket. Giving it to Ashley, I said, “This has seasons ten to thirteen of Doctor Who on it.”
Ashley squeed and hugged me, saying thank you.
As I left, I added, “Blessed Yule and may your hearts always be warmed by the fires of love and hope.”
As I walked through the gate with Morgana, I wondered what was ahead of me and if I was up to the challenge of teaching her younger self.
“It’s okay, big brother. You’ll do fine.” I hoped she was right; even though she’d lived it, time could always change.
Vaguely from all around me, I heard the girls’ voices say, “Myrdin, as you walk the paths of time, don’t forget to bring us to life.”
I guess it really was the Day of the Sisters for me. May the Goddess light my way.
We were asked about using tabletop RPG’s as an educational tool while integrating real life history and geography.
It’s a massive question and I could write an entire book about it, but here’s what I answered:
This is the Eric half of JenEric, I write the RPG stuff and most of the stories. My wife is the one who did the homeschooling but she felt this was a bit beyond her.
Thank you so much for that question. That is a great question and will depend a lot on your kids and your preferred style of play.
First I’d (selfishly) recommend using Oneshot – The Simplest RPG. It’s just the rules, they are very simple and you’ll be able to use them for almost any scenario.
As for the educational part, I’d recommend you make a list of things you want the kids to learn about and build around those goals. If you’re planning on different historical locations, you should break them down. I find it helps to break down each location/time and then list the characters, places, important events, and reason for the characters to be there.
If you’re jumping around in history and geography, you need to either make a series of small adventures or try maybe make it time travel related. With the time travel, the kids can get attached to a character that they’ll see grow and experience,
Another good way to keep it fun and keep them interested is to have a fun villain. I’m a big fan of cartoonish villains for kids, but you know your kids best.
Hook them into a story and they won’t even notice they’re learning.
As much fun as movies, tv, and books are; be careful not to use them too much as research. A good place to start is WIkipedia, each article has sources and those sources usually have a lot more information and further reading.
I hope this helps, Eric Desmarais
Anyone have further advice for gaming with children in an educational manner?
Last Monday, I complained about not being able to get my appointment for a Covid vaccine. I managed to get an appointment for end of June on Tuesday and then Thursday, as I was grocery shopping, I got a notification from the PC Health app that I could get one on Saturday.
So I went from thinking I’d never get one to being worried about getting one to getting one in less than a week. So one shot out of two. I guess we’re 1/8th of the way there for the family. Hopefully by Christmas we’ll be 6/8th.
Great news. Assassins! Accidental Matchmakers, book one in The Gates of Westmeath series, has been submitted to my publisher. We should hear within 3 or so months if they’ll publish it. If they don’t, we’ll start submitting to agents and other publishers. We can worry about that later.
I’m slowly writing Elizabeth 4 and have re-written the outline and hopefully it’ll be finished this decade. Planning for book two of The Gates of Westmeath, Gangs! Incidental Wedding Guests, is well underway. Writing will start end of summer/early fall.
The short story collection is over 80,000 words and I still have 2-4 stories to write. Jen’s been prolific in her short story writing. The collection is called Stories! The Unexpected First Collection.
Like I mentioned on Friday, this coming Saturday is the cover reveal for my newest book, Coffee Shop Between the ‘Verses. Come check it out on Saturday! There will be prizes and readings.