Last night’s #DnD led to the destruction of Sullin the…

Last night’s #DnD led to the destruction of Sullin the… https://ift.tt/2lHGxWl
Advertisements

Dinos Takeover Los Angeles!

We planned a simple trip to Los Angeles, CA. Our plan was to visit the E3 expo and do some sightseeing. What I hadn’t planned on was Los Angeles BEING TAKEN OVER BY DINOSAURS. I should have known. The marketing was everywhere: The dinos have left the park. They just didn’t mention that the dinos went to LA.

My first dinosaur sighting was in Downtown LA. We were at the convention center, innocently perusing the aisles of the show floor at E3.

Raptors at E3

Raptor!!! It was behind a fence. I can’t be sure if the fence was electrified, but it did look damaged. People were lining up for an experience nearby so it must have been safe… maybe the raptor was tranquilized…? Paralyzed? lol

The following day, walking down past the Walt Disney Concert Hall… another tranq’ed dino was found, in a cage. It seemed like it was baking in the hot sun! (Is this inhumane??)

Triceratops tranquilized for travel?

We decided to inspect the situation further, by waiting on a ridiculous line for what was called the Jurassic World Fan Fest event. We were told there would be VR games, giveaways, and free movie tickets maybe??

Entering Jurassic World

After the long wait, we made it to the entrance. And what did we find? FREE T-SHIRTS!!! YASSS! So that was a good start. Once we made it inside the giant JW doors…

AHHHH!!

A friendly T-Rex was waiting just inside the entrance!! Yikes! Luckily it must have been trained to only do photo-ops instead of eating people, so there was no carnage. And he was super IG-friendly, of course. I mean, this is LA after all.

Resting in the shade…

It was hot af that day. I’m pretty sure I got sunburned at this event. Some dinos were lounging in a more shaded photo-op area. The dino above was just laying there looking pretty spent. I tried to take a selfie with another dino that was popping out of the vegetation. (Blue?)

Dino Selfie

We wanted to check out the VR game thing but the line was insanely long and they were having technical difficulties even getting it started up. So no. We also got raffle tickets that were supposedly eligible for a free movie screening but the booth to trade in the tickets wasn’t set up yet either. What kind of half-assed event was this? Dinos are baking in the sun in questionable conditions, humans baking in the sun on line for the event, and then some of the attractions weren’t even doable?

At least I got that free t-shirt!

Later in the day, we went to Santa Monica Pier. There weren’t any dinosaurs. Plenty of old people, if you count them.

Santa Monica Panorama

Santa Monica Pier Panorama (featuring Carney)

Santa Monica from the top of the Pacific Wheel

Ugh. I loved Santa Monica. Next time I go to LA I might just stay in this part of town. The boardwalk is really fun. I bought a conch shell for my niece to hear the ocean. There were rides and we ate delicious tacos and drank various margaritas. We even saw some fancy plane thing that I barely got a photo of, but apparently it’s a cool rare thing! (Carney, help me out here in the comments please! lol)

Cool airplane thing!

We also saw a police van with surfboards rigged up on top, tourists struggling with selfie-sticks, a cute baby, and the Bubba Gump Shrimp mascot. Important things!!

The next day, we spent a majority of our time in Hollywood. I won’t clog up my blog with all of the celebrity homes that I took photos of, but you can peruse the full album on my Flickr page. Here’s a nice panorama I took from the Hollywood Hills:

Hollywood Hills

We took a bus tour to see the sights of Hollywood, which was a lot of fun. In addition to the Hollywood sign and the celebrity homes, we were driven through Beverly Hills and around Rodeo Drive.

Dinosaur of a tree in Beverly Hills

Rodeo Drive

All the palm trees!

After our tour we stayed in Hollywood to hang out. We checked out the Walk of Fame and other popular sites, but we wanted some more authentic experiences. And alcohol. So we stopped at a couple of bars in Hollywood!

The Roosevelt Hotel

We started at the Roosevelt Hotel, to experience how rich movie stars of the 1950’s might have enjoyed their cocktails. It was fancy. I mean, check out that indoor fountain! But the prices were fancy too, so decided to check out a speakeasy on Sunset Blvd. called Adults Only. The fake store front was a pretend porn video store, but when you walk in there was only slight amounts of porn and large amounts of old VHS tapes from the 1990s, from Sleeping Beauty to Indiana Jones. All fake placeholders put up in the vestibule, because only a few steps brings you into the actual bar, which was GORGEOUS.

Dimly lit, classic vibe speakeasy Adults Only.

On the big screen they had some old black and white movie that we couldn’t name. The menu consisted of movie titles that described the flavor and theme of the cocktail. It’s kind of dark but I took a picture to give you an idea. (I was drinking Clueless!)

The menu was in a VHS cassette case!

OK, so there were no dinosaurs here, but we were enjoying some delicious alcohol in some very old bars! (Well, old by California standards, anyway.)

At this point, you may be thinking that I had exaggerated about the dinosaurs. I DIDN’T. We encountered many more dinosaurs the next day – at Universal Studios Hollywood!!

Hogwarts Castle

We stopped at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter first. There was a scary dragon on the Harry Potter 4D Experience ride, but that’s not exactly a dinosaur. I get it. But don’t forget… Universal also has a Jurassic Park.

Jurassic Park – THE RIDE

Sadly, I didn’t take any photos of the dinosaurs that I saw within Jurassic Park – The Ride. It was a water ride (not a log flume by definition, as we were in yellow raft style vehicles) that took us through Jurassic Park. But then we realize that the dinosaurs had broken out of the park! They were roaming through the ride area! We got sprayed and splashed as we went through, but nobody on our raft was prepared for the big drop. Tensions rose as we climbed to the highest part of the ride, readying ourselves for the final, sharp angle drop and then… A GIANT T-REX HEAD DESCENDS DOWN ON YOU. Adding just that extra amount of terror and adrenaline as you begin to drop straight down into the water below! AHHHH!! And then as you land the entire raft is hit by a giant WAVE of water and literally everyone comes out drenched. There’s no ‘oh if I sit on the edge I’ll be dry.’ Nope. Everyone. Gets. Drenched. And then they direct you into the gift shop, stocked full with clean, dry, brand new Jurassic World t-shirts celebrating the new movie. I see right through your marketing tactics, Universal!!

Then we saw Blue.

Blue

Unlike all the other dinos we had seen, Blue was not in a cage. Blue was not behind a fence. Blue was not tranquilized. Blue was THERE. Being FIERCE. People lined up to take photos with Blue, but the danger was reallll!!

Blue getting angry.

Blue was very realistic. She moved and blinked and roared and screeched. She chopped her teeth at the young babies being offered for ‘photo ops’ (aka lunch?!?!) and scared the bejeezus out of some little boy that was watching on the sidelines. He almost cried. That’s how real Blue was. It was no joke. I should have taken a video instead of photos. Oh well!

I bet you won’t ever see as many dinosaurs in Los Angeles as I did!! Anyway, if you enjoyed the pics from my trip, there’s many, many more on my Flickr Album. Check it out below! Hit the side arrows to move to the next photo. Let me know what you like!

LOS ANGELES

 

Oh yeah and don’t forget to see see Jurassic World in theaters now!!

E3 2018: A Brief Recap

This year, my awesome friend Carney and I decided to take a trip to Los Angeles and attend E3 2018! I just got back and while I intend to write a blog about the ENTIRE trip, I wanted to do a quickie overview of E3 first.

LOS ANGELES

Things that were great about E3:

  • Game Demos. Obvi. If you can manage to get into a line, playing some of the latest games is one of the best parts of E3. I played Super Smash Bros. for Switch, as well as the new Monster Hunter. However, those were the only demos I managed to play. More on that later.
  • Swag. While not QUITE as impressive an offering as I remembered in 2013, there is still a decent amount of free stuff to get at E3. Tote bags, Vault Boy masks, and free Drakes snack cakes were some of the most prevalent finds at the convention center.
  • Decor. For some reason, the booth setups at E3 are always the coolest. I’ve gone to NYCC, PAX East and PAX West and none of it compares to E3 when it comes to life-size dioramas and game world immersion.

Things that were pretty shitty about E3:

  • Lines. LINES!!! I quickly realized that E3 actually stands for Everything has 3 Hour Lines. Because that’s how it is. We got there at 9am and by the time I was scanned in and at the Nintendo booth at 9:24, the line for Let’s Go Pikachu was 3 hours long. It was very disheartening. The only reason I was able to play the Smash demo was because they forced us to book time slots in advance. But now I’m actually grateful they made me do the extra work because that at least ensured that I got to play SOMETHING. Jeez.
  • Lack of Panels. There were not many ‘events’ planned for E3. Not that it would have mattered, because you’d probably have to commit an entire day to waiting on the line to get in. But one of the best parts of conventions are celebrity panels. Why aren’t there any at E3?
  • The Cool Nintendo Events Weren’t Actually At E3. The Splatoon 2 Tournament was held at a theater offsite and you had to line up at a specific time on June 11th (BEFORE E3 EVEN STARTS) to get wristbands. Guess what? My flight was only arriving at that time. Same deal with the Smash Bros. Tournament – that day they were giving out tickets at the same time as my Smash Bros. demo time slot. Soooo wait in a line in hopes of getting tickets to watch the Smash Invitational, or actually go to E3 and play the demo I had registered for in advance. Naturally we went with the sure thing. But why was Nintendo forcing us to pick which thing was a priority? It felt very unfair. I caught a few glimpses of the tournaments on live feeds they had on TV screens. Whoop.
  • You Can’t Even Go to the Major Press Conferences. Yeah yeah I don’t have a press pass. But in the game company livestream videos, it always looks like a huge auditorium filled with fans in attendance. In reality, those are all paid professional press badge holders at those events. They are getting PAID to cheer. Actual die-hard fans don’t even get to go to the press conferences. Hmph. Plus they hold the press conferences early in the morning when the rest of us plebs have to wait in lines to get in. We don’t even get to watch unless we wanna burn mobile data.

You might sense my disappointment in E3 by now. You would be very correct. I quickly realized that the lines are likely to be much more manageable when I go to the Nintendo NYC store and play in the E3 Demo Area in the convenience of my home state. Honestly, my time spent away from E3 was much more fun. I did lots of cool touristy things and had a blast in LA. I’ll blog about the rest of my trip in a day or two. But for now, check out my Flickr album and enjoy the VISUALS of E3…. at least it’s a very IG-friendly event.

The Pokemon QUEST Continues!

Oh man oh man I know I’m late with this one but I’m sure any self-respecting Nintendo & Pokemon fan already knows the news about the upcoming games “Let’s Go Pikachu!” and “Let’s Go Eevee!” due to release in November for the Nintendo Switch. These games will be compatible with Pokemon Go, which has recently inspired me to re-download the app and start playing again since the weather is getting nice! I’m way behind in Pokemon Go so I have plenty of work to do if I’m gonna catch ’em all! Where’s my Team Instinct squad at?? lol

Of course that wasn’t the only important Pokemon announcement. Another, main title franchise Pokemon game is coming out in 2019… and it will be releasing on the Switch! It’s a little sad that the 3DS is really starting to be phased out, but the potential awesomeness of playing a main Pokemon title on a big TV screen is too good to pass up. I hear that there will be even MORE new Pokemon added to the ‘Dex too so it’s time to renew my Pokemon Bank account and make sure I finish my Alola Dex before I fall too far behind! Gah!

Was that all? Nope! Right now you can download a “free-to-start” game called Pokemon Quest. It’s been on the eShop for about a week or so now and I downloaded it. Their game design choice was to make all of the Pokemon into block-form, as though they were made of legos or in the game Minecraft. Why are they like this? No clue.

They call it free-to-start because you can certainly start the game for free and play it for free, but it will be very slow. In this game you have a battery and when it runs out of charges you have to wait for it to re-charge, or use in-game currency, which you earn a little bit of each day… but there’s a lot of perks to buy and it’s easy to run out.

This is when the game becomes less free. Sure you can wait for your daily allocation, or you can pay real money to get more. If you buy the premium packages, not only do you get bonus in-game money, but you also earn more on your daily allotments. The premium packages also include other perks like decorations that help with getting certain color berry drops, attracting certain types of Pokemon, etc.  as well as a few higher level bonus ‘mons to add to your team right then and there.

I decided to buy the most expensive pack because it seemed like the best deal. For around $30 I got a major head start on the game, plus way more in-game bucks. This helped me bolster my team so I could make some good progress in expedition mode. Using their new My Nintendo gold coin function in the eShop, I was able to apply 400 coins and get $4 off my total price, which was pretty nice!

The actual gameplay is EXTREMELY CASUAL. Hardcore gamers will likely be frustrated with this game. Hardcore Pokemon fans gotta catch em all so I play it for the Pokedex completion, because the gameplay is frankly… boring. There’s two modes: automatic and manual. Neither of these modes allow you to control where the Pokemon move around in the field. (Originally I had expected this game to be like Pokemon Rumble, but in that game you have full control of your toy Pokemon.) What you can control, in the manual mode, is which Pokemon Attack the ‘mons in your team decide to use, and when. However, I found that trying to do manual mode was a bit chaotic and kind of wasteful, since I didn’t know where the ‘mons would be moving to, and my moves would end up missing. So I moved to automatic mode and took more of an “overseer” approach to the game. I play it more like team management strategy.

To make friends with new Pokemon, you have to cook up dishes using berries to attract different types of ‘mons to visit your little base camp. One time I even got a shiny! Once you have a Pokemon on your team, it will level up when it completes an expedition. The Pokemon seem to follow the normal evolution rules of their species, with the exception of any evolution stones, because I haven’t seen those. There are Power Stones that you can collect and apply to the Pokemon to increase their power and defense, as well as to amplify their moves. You can even train up your Pokemon to learn new moves, but you will have to sacrifice some of your existing Pokemon to finish the training. Choose wisely!

Overall, do I recommend this Pokemon Quest to all gamers? No. I would recommend it for younger players and those who just love anything from the world of Pokemon. It definitely is not like most other Pokemon games, and those looking for an RPG will be very disappointed. If you go into it with lower expectations, you might find that it’s a fun casual game to play when you’re on the go.

Danaeryzard & Alaria: Mushroom Cup Cave

It’s Dungeons and Dragons time! Here’s the latest installment of the epic journey of our heroines, Danaeryzard and Alaria! (If you’re new here, you can read the earlier chapters of the saga using this tag search.)

…………..

Sunset at Water’s Edge was truly a sight to behold. The vast width of Lake Constant gave an impression of looking out at an endless sea, with the sun slowly making it’s way toward the horizon and casting succulent shades of peach and orange across the sky. However, Danaeryzard and Alaria didn’t have much time to appreciate the natural beauty – they were looking for the cave where Cledus would be selling his crystals. They walked along the rocky perimeter of town, where they came upon a large, carefully carved opening to a dark cave. 

“Hey – wait a sec!” a young voice called after the duo.

Dany and Alaria wheeled around, surprised. Behind them was a young, scraggly looking girl with shaggy hair and dirt on her face. “Who are you?” asked Alaria.

Charlotte

“Oh uhh I’m Charlotte. Are you going in the cave?” asked the girl. Without receiving an answer, Charlotte rambled on. “Lots of people check out the caves, especially foreigners. Like those crazy religious folk. They’re always looking for the big crystals. Are you looking for the big crystals too? Did you know they can amplify magic? But it takes a turn to charge ’em, so you have to plan ahead! My mom always tells me to plan ahead, but it’s so hard to remember… Oh hey can I ask a favor?”

Alaria looked at Dany quizzically. Who was this scruffy girl with all this information? Why was she talking so fast? What could she possibly ask them to do? 

“You are quite bold to come up to foreigners all alone like this,” Dany said to the child, trying to sound wise and give warning of their potential danger. “What could we do for you?”

“Well… I’m not supposed to go in the caves. But sometimes I sneak in. I never go too far, because it gets dark and I don’t want to get lost. But uhh… well, I left something in there last time. It was my Grandpa’s Stein. It’s an old brass mug with a crystal fish on the side. If ya see it, can ya bring it back to me? Or give it to my mom – she works at the Inn. Please? Could ya?”

A stein? Why would a child be carrying a stein into a cave at all? It was a strange request, but Dany and Alaria said they would keep an eye out for it. Charlotte thanked them and ran off towards the main road. The partners shrugged at each other and proceeded cautiously inside the cave.

It was a well made cave, carefully crafted with support beams and a sunlight shaft, allowing what was left of the daylight to illuminate the interior. The cave was damp, sandy and musty, and looked as thought it was not being used regularly. On the right side was a darker opening that led deeper into the cave, and on the left was a large door with a giant bolt lock going through the middle. Alaria inspected the lock, hoping to use her lock-picking skills to open the door, but was confounded by the complexity of the ancient lock. They decided to proceed into the darker passage, which led to a much larger open chamber.

The main cave chamber felt even mustier than the entrance. There was moss growing all over the walls, and appeared to have accumulated in mounds in the far corners of the chamber. Little white mushrooms were clumped together and tiny white spores floated lazily in the air. A soft clicking sound echoed throughout the chamber, but Dany and Alaria could not see the source of the sound. They continued to carefully walk through the chamber, in search of any sign of Cledus or maybe a good hiding spot. 

Suddenly in the corner of her eye, Dany spotted something shiny among a pile of rocks. She always loved shiny things, ever since she was a hatchling, and could easily spot something shiny even in dark places. The shiny thing was indeed the missing stein, but when Dany picked it up she accidentally disturbed the rocks and they spilled across the ground, rolling over a white mushroom. It popped and hundreds of little spores poofed up in a small cloud. The clicking sound quickly intensified in volume. Alaria looked toward the back of the cave and saw that the mounds of moss in the back of the cave were stirring and moving on their own. 

“I think you should get over there Dany. Try some of that fiery breath of yours on those mossy mounds.”

She tried to walk over as carefully as she could, but Dragonborn were never known to be very graceful or light-footed. Danaeryzard’s large talon feet managed to smush a cluster of white mushrooms as she walked deeper into the cave. Another poof of spores rose up and the mysterious clicking almost sounded like angry yells that were echoing through the chamber. 

Vegepygmy

Without warning, the moving mounds of moss popped upwards and sprang into the form of Vegepygmy warriors! These leafy, spear wielding soldiers were short but quite full of rage. Apparently Dany and Alaria were not expected or welcomed in this cave after all! Was the ‘missing stein’ a trap to awaken these monsters? Quickly they moved into defensive poses as the Vegepygmy lept toward them. Dany took on two at once, and a third ran towards Alaria, clicking angrily. One attack from the Vegepygmy on Danaeryzard showed that their leafy spears were no match for Dany’s red-gilded scale armor skin. The spearhead seemed to bounce off of her, leaving the Vegepygmy looking confused and angry. 

Alaria shoved her short sword into the chest of the Vegepygmy that was charging toward her. It cried out in pain, but when it stepped back, Alaria watched in horror as the wound she had just doled into him was glowing green and regenerating. The stab wound was practically healed as the Veggie heaved it’s spear into Alaria’s arm.

On the other side of the cave, Danaeryzard used her Fire Bolt cantrip to attack one of the Veggies that were flanking each side of her. The flames hit the Vegepygmy directly in the face and it cried out in pain. The smell of singed leaves began to fill the cave. Again the Veggies tried to attack Dany but her thick scaled skin was too powerful. Feeling boisterous, Dany tried to do a slick move with her crystal orb and hit the Vegepygmy on the other side with another fire bolt, but her fingers slipped and she almost dropped the orb. 

Alaria was in pain and in her desperation she had a moment of clarity – as a Rogue, she had the ability to dash, disengage, and sneak her way through battles! If her attacks were simply being healed by this Vegepygmy, then she was not going to be able to beat it on her own. She quickly dashed away from the little green monster attacking her, and charged at the Veggie that Dany had burnt in the face. This time the Vegepygmy did not heal up after Alaria’s short sword hit. This was when Alaria realized that once you attack a Vegepygmy with fire, their magical healing ability was disabled. 

“Dany – you have to hit them all with your fire attacks! Roast these brussel sprouts!!”

After shrugging off another attack, Dany heaved her firey breath weapon towards the Vegepygmy that she had missed last time. While it wasn’t a huge hit (she was still struggling to fully control the power of her breath weapon, and she was pretty sure the dampness of the cave only made things worse), she knew it would be enough to do some damage and negate the magic power.

With her next move, Alaria chopped the first Vegepygmy directly in half. She had a victorious gleam in her eye and set her sights on the other newly singed Veggie. As she kept that warrior busy, Dany turned around and sent a Fire Bolt towards the last Vegepygmy, and it’s healing magic finally stopped. The two remaining Veggies were getting desperate and livid. In a rage and attacking from behind, one of the Vegepygmy found the sweet spot under her arm and stabbed Dany deep under her scaled skin before she could turn and defend herself.

But Dany wasn’t too injured to retaliate. With her crystal orb in hand she conjured a Magic Missile spell, creating three thunderous bolts of energy that pulverized what was left of the Vegepygmy attackers. Their lifeless bodies collapsed in leafy heaps, and Dany spotted an old key in the enemy that Alaria had recently chopped in half. The key was surely intended to be used on the locked door from the cave entrance! They made their way back to the old locked door.

Before proceeding, they needed to heal. Alaria used a potion, and Dany decided to try out her False Life spell to regain some additional HP. She’d never practiced necromancy in her past Sorcerer practice, and felt the strange surge of dead spirits creating an invisible defensive shield around her. 

After they unlocked the door the two partners continued into the deep chamber, which looked like it had been used much more frequently and recently than the rest of the cave. As they walked deeper in, they saw a body laying on the ground. Cautiously they looked closer and saw that it was the body of Cledus. His skin was white and his throat had been slit. He looked like he had been killed several days ago. 

If that was Cledus, then who were they playing Roll It with at the bar the day before??

“HAAA-ARUK-UK-UK-HAAA!!”

Golden Dragonborn

A deep laughing voice that made Danaeryzard’s heart sink with despair echoed through the chamber. The ominous laugh had a distinctly Dragonborn accent and was the all-too-familiar sound that Dany heard when her clansmen would laugh at her and call her names when she was younger. In the back of the chamber, huge crystals began to glow in the darkness. From the shadows walked out a tall golden Dragonborn, holding a staff.

The Dragonborn continued to scoff at Dany and Alaria as he began to approach. 

“Looking to buy some crystals, are we?? HAAA-ARUK-UK-UK!! Ahh, and I see that you’ve found Cledus!”

Alaria and Dany exchanged horrified glances as they realized that this entire scenario was a setup. This golden Dragonborn had somehow used magic to impersonate Cledus and lead them into this trap. How did they not see this coming?

“Do you two really think you can interfere with us? The Sun Wizard is always going to be one step ahead of you! These crystals don’t matter to us anymore!”

The golden Dragonborn held his staff out in front of him, towards Dany and Alaria. The crystal orb installed at the top of the staff began to glow with a red light.

“SOON YOU’LL BE JOINING YOUR FRIEND CLEDUS!!”

……………………

And so ends the latest installment of our DnD adventures! Thanks for reading! I hope you like this ongoing storyline lol! If you play Dungeons and Dragons too, let’s hear about your character in the comments! 🙂

Book Report: The Handmaid’s Tale

Custom cover art by @gluxbox

Book Title: The Handmaid’s Tale

Author: Margaret Atwood

About the Author: She has written several other novels, although I haven’t read them. She looks like a nice lady. She lives in Canada!

Main Characters: As always, there are many characters in the book so I’ll focus on the main ones. Sorry for spoilers!

Offred (June?): Protagonist. She has completed training to be a Handmaid in the dystopian future of this country, which is renamed Gilead after a horrific government coup led by a radically religious Christian sect. There is a disease or genetic mutation or something causing sterilization and infertility, so only women with certain genes are able to give birth – the Handmaids. There’s a crazy new system for procreation where a married couple uses a handmaid as a surrogate, but with crazy sex practices and strange indentured servitude with a religious zealot flair. Definitely a scary scenario.

The Commander: The antagonist? But it’s unclear if he’s the TOP of the totem pole or just one of the high ranking officials. He’s certainly complicit in the new laws that deprive all women of the right to read and write, own property and money, and robbing women of their families and the children they had given birth to before the regime change. The Commander toys with Offred, inviting her to visit him at night (which is normally forbidden) to read books and magazines, and he even took her on a little excursion one time.

Serena Joy: The wife of the Commander. She’s a bitch. I’m sure any woman in her situation would feel the envy and hatred for a handmaid, yet her ‘religion’ forces her to accept the ceremonies. Why did the women in this dystopian future allow this to happen? How did they all become convinced that this crazy religion was the answer?

Luke: He and June/Offred were married before this craziness happened. They have a daughter together, but the crazy religious government decided it was unfit because Luke had been married before. Divorce was no longer legal or something. It was somewhat unclear what exactly happened to him. He might have been killed, he might have escaped. Offred doesn’t know.

Moira: In the time before Gilead, Moira and June were best friends. I wrote June with a question mark before because I didn’t really know her name when I read the book, although I probably just forgot the one instance that they said her name. But in the Hulu series they say June all the time. Anyway, Moira is full of life and is brave. She sees June/Offred one last time in an unexpected place. (This is totally different from the plot of the Hulu series, for some reason they changed a LOT of these details.)

Oflgen: A fellow handmaid, she walks to the market and goes to Gilead events with Offred every day. At first they didn’t talk much but eventually she reveals that there is an underground network fighting against the regime. They have hope. But then tragedy strikes. (ahh trying not to reveal too much!)

Aunt Lydia: One of the crazy older ladies in charge of training the handmaids and she seems to enjoy threatening and scaring the groups of women in her charge at the Red Center. She runs Salvaging events too, during which a sinner is punished – usually hung or beat to death in some way. Sometimes the handmaids are ordered to participate in carrying out the sentence. Brutal stuff!

Nick: He works for the Commander as a driver, and helps to facilitate the secret meetings between the Commander and Offred. He is also an Eye, someone who spies on people to report back to the government. But he apparently is also a part of the underground resistance. Offred/June has conflicted feelings about him after Serena Joy arranges for her to have sex with Nick to “increase her chances” of making a baby. Offred and Nick start to have a secret (illegal) relationship, which she feels conflicted about considering she doesn’t know what happened to her husband.

Plot Summary: It’s a dystopian future where women have lost their rights – but only in Gilead. Tourists come to visit and take photos of the handmaids in their strange uniforms. Women have been brainwashed to feel shame and blame for not being able to conceive, yet the Handmaids are the only fertile women and they’re still treated like garbage. What kind of messed up patriarchy is this? If I were a character in this book, I would have been shot already for dissent.

The story is told in a non-linear way that jumps between present day and times before Gilead, when they “were happy but didn’t know it”. The establishment is running Gilead but there was enough opposition to have a secret underground network. Unfortunately the end of the book is very abrupt and there isn’t much conflict resolution. I don’t want to give too much away. All I can say is that the plot of the book and the plot of the Hulu series are extraordinarily different and I found it a little confusing and off-putting when I watched the series right after reading the novel.

Lessons Learned: This book should be a reminder that women especially need to stand up for their rights and not let something horrendous like this happen to us. If we stand together we are strong. Also, I think this book reminds us that women should NEVER be defined by their status of motherhood.

Personal Opinions: Ugh this book was tough to get through at some points. It’s a fast read (aside from some disturbing scenes in the story) and you basically feel icky after it’s done. I did enjoy the storytelling, it was informal and direct to “you” the reader, which helps you to really get wrapped into the story. I felt pain for the protagonist, I wanted to help her, I wanted to slap sense into all of the Gilead assholes. I feel confident that our society would never devolve into this… as long as we don’t get rid of all the scientists. In the book, science was outlawed. I hope that this country is smart enough to not do that…

Tarot: A Pet Project

Lately I cannot get enough of tarot cards! I am addicted to doing at least one reading a day. I’d like to do more, honestly. I’ve recently started reading a book about how to write fiction using tarot cards and it sounds like so much fun! I’ve decided that since the Manga deck has such storytelling illustrations, I will use that deck for writing purposes. So of course that meant I needed to get a THIRD deck to keep in my backpack and use for travel or readings for friends. What kind of deck does one carry around with them?? A pet, of course. I got the Pagan Cat Deck. Now I have kitties with me all the time! As always, I must start with a deck interview. I tried to shuffle as best I could, but…

Tell me about yourself.

4 of Swords: Purrrr…. I’m napping right now. I like to rest and have deep thoughts. Contemplation is one of my favorite things to do. Aside from sleeping.

What are your strengths?

10 of Chalices: I’m an expert snuggler. I love to help create a happy home. Harmony and alignment are my specialties. 

What are your limitations?

3 of Chalices: I only come out when friends are around! I’m here to be a travel companion and to guide your friends and community. Just don’t call me an emotional support animal!

What are you here to teach?

The Magician: My abilities to share knowledge will spread magick to others. I will teach you and your friends to learn more about your inner powers, skills, and to find your own answers. And I’ll teach the world to love cats, of course. Mrow.

How can we best collaborate?

Hierophant: You, the hooman tarot reader, must establish yourself as a trusted tarot interpreter. Together we will uncover the mysteries of daily life for yourself and others. I’ll bring the catnip.

What is the potential outcome of our relationship?

9 of Chalices: If we work together, we can grant wishes. Bowls and bowls of tuna can be ready for us to feast upon. Satisfaction and happiness is in the future!

What breed of cat are you?

Mreh! I cannot be defined. Sometimes I am a gorgeous longhaired Persian requiring grooming and maintenance. Sometimes I am a black cat deeply in touch with the occult. And at all times, I am the QUEEN of the house, so don’t forget that. What matters most is that in my heart, I care about others and I want to be an inspiration.

I think this deck will require lots of petting, I mean shuffling, to make sure it gives concise answers. But I love it’s compact size and it’s already in my backpack ready to go on adventures! Who wants a reading from the Cat Deck??

Danaeryzard & Alaria: A Gambling Interrogation

It’s Dungeons and Dragons time! Here’s the latest installment of the epic journey of our heroines, Danaeryzard and Alaria! (If you’re new here, you can read the earlier chapters of the saga using this tag search.)

…………..

The midday sun beat down on them as Danaeryzard and Alaria walked south on the beach towards the Fisherman’s Guild at Water’s Edge. The hot windy air stirred up scents of salt and old fish. They passed a few unused boats that remained on the shore; the fisherman had taken the better ones out to sea earlier in the day. As they walked around the perimeter of the massive Fisherman’s Guild building, they noticed that the entrance was a huge stable door, with the top half open to allow for some ocean breeze. Alaria motioned to Dany to be quiet and stay hidden for the moment – she was going to use her Wand of Magic Detection first.

With a flick of her wrist, Alaria cast a wave of magic across the open chamber of the Guild. The two then peeked inside carefully, to determine what the wand might reveal. Inside the Guild was one huge room, filled with fishing supplies of all sorts. Rods, tackles, bait and anything else that a fisherman might dream up. Alaria noticed that the rods and tools were gleaming with traces of enchantments, which meant that the fisherman were certainly maximizing their profits… but there was no sign of the magic crystals that they sought for their mission. 

Bengie

They also saw Bengie. An awkward preteen who was left behind to ‘stand guard’ at the Fisherman’s Guild while all the grown men were working during the day. Dany and Alaria decide to ask him a few questions, starting with the whereabouts of Cledus. 

“Cledus? Oh, he’s at the Constant’s Heart. He’s always there, these days. Always drunk too.” Bengie seemed pretty talkative, even though he was nervous talking to a Dragonborn and a Tiefling who seemed to have appeared out of the blue. Alaria boldly asked if Bengie had seen any crystals around, and he replied that the crystals were quite common in Water’s Edge. One could find crystals of all sizes in these waters, from small little crystals sold as trinket souvenirs, to large crystals spanning several feet.

Dany and Alaria immediately thought of the large crystals that were used during the battle against the Sun Wizard a few weeks ago. He, or one of his minions, must have procured the large crystals here. They needed more information! They thanked Bengie for his help and made their way back through town to the Constant’s Heart bar. 

The bar wasn’t very big, but large enough for a few tables in a back area, where a man and a woman were laughing very loudly. The rest of the bar patrons were sitting quietly and keeping to themselves… it was still the middle of the day, after all. Not the usual time to be rowdy and drunk. Alaria lead the way to the bar and they asked the bartender if he knew which one of these men was Cledus. The bartender seemed a little surprised that they were asking, because everyone in this town knows Cledus. He was the one playing Roll It over at the back table with Miss Sinder.

The bartender seemed to sigh when he mentioned Miss Sinder, but Dany didn’t really see what the big deal was with this woman. She looked in her direction and saw a woman who seemed normal enough, but she was very drunk. She seemed quite smitten with the man they knew now must be Cledus. She also seemed like she was somewhat of a rich woman, based on the fancy corseted dress she was wearing.

Cledus

Cledus however did not look rich. He looked like a fisherman and he looked very drunk. His arms flopped around as he spoke. The bartender told Dany and Alaria to go join them for a game! They awkwardly approached the table, sat down and Alaria plunked her huge coin purse down for all to see. 

“Can we join your game? We’ve got money.”

Sinder made a pout as Cledus said, “Sure, the more the merrier. Do you know how to play?”

They admitted that they did not, so Cledus said they could do a practice round first, to show them the ropes. He anted up one gold piece, and indicated that everyone should do the same. Sinder rolled her eyes and joined in too. Dany suddenly notices that Cledus seems to be staring at her.

The game is played simply, in two parts. First is a dice game, roll to see who gets the highest number. The two highest numbers then compete in an arm wrestle to determine the winner. The practice dice round ends up with Dany and Alaria as the finalists, and Dany’s large lizard arms beat Alaria’s small Tiefling frame without much effort. Everyone laughed and Cledus claimed it was all beginner’s luck. They formally introduce themselves by name and they get ready to ante up. This time, Cledus antes up 15G. Higher stakes.

This time, Alaria thought she’d try to use her skills and do a sleight of hand to win the dice game. She and Cledus both rolled a 6. Sinder decided to get up and get another drink, and this was when both Dany and Alaria noticed that Cledus hadn’t actually been drinking at all. He was PRETENDING to be drunk. Alaria gave Dany a look and then asks Cledus if he knows about the crystals in the lake. He winked at her and said, “Let’s finish the game, first. Time to arm wrestle!”

What they didn’t realize was that losing the arm wrestling round of Roll It means that you’re eliminated from the game. Unfortunately for Alaria, she was no match for Cledus’ arm wrestling abilities and had to sit out the rest of the game. The two travelers looked nervously at each other – they were pretty sure that they had to WIN in order to get any useful information out of Cledus. It was all up to Dany now.

In the second round, it came down to Dany and Sinder, and it was no surprise that Dany won the arm wrestling match once again. Finally her large lizard body was proving to be useful! She also couldn’t ignore the fact that Cledus was still staring her down. At the end of the second round, Dany again asked Cledus for information about the crystals. He sighed at their persistence, but didn’t seem to think the inquiry too suspicious. He told them that he actually had a delivery scheduled for the following evening, and maybe he could sell a few to them as well. But he doesn’t want to talk business! It was time for the final round.

Cledus tossed 35G on the table. “What do you say? Want to skip straight to the arm wrestle?” His manhood was now at stake too, no time to waste!

Dany almost felt bad for him as he tried to get a handle on her large three fingered claw hand. He was fumbling and had a terrible grip, she could tell his hand was sweating as well. She was grinning as she easily pushed his muscular arm into submission. Cledus was visibly annoyed but laughed and congratulated Danaeryzard anyway. 

She was getting a bit boisterous, and asked, “Don’t you know that Dragonborn are strong? Haven’t you seen any of my kin before?” He looked at her with a deep, thoughtful stare, and said, “Not for a long time.” Dany was unsure what to think of that, but didn’t want to push the subject further. She knew the history of her race. There were plenty of violent stories that maybe didn’t need to be mentioned.

Alaria pulled out her map and asked where Cledus would be meeting the other crystal buyer. He pointed out a specific cave on the map, by the outskirts of town. He also showed them where the inn was, and encouraged them to stay the night there. He would meet up with them at the cave tomorrow, at sunset.

However, Alaria had other plans. After Cledus took his leave, searching for wherever Sinder had gone, Alaria went back to the bar and picked up a small keg of beer to go. Since she had some liquid courage, she was going to try her luck again with She’i. Not knowing what else to do, Dany rolled her eyes and trotted along behind her as Alaria rushed back to the carpenter’s shack by the beach.

When they arrived, She’i was surprisingly receptive. She put down her tools and decided it was a good time to take a break! Alaria and She’i began to drink and flirt more, as Dany kept to herself in the corner. Dany was more worried about burping and subsequently burning down all of the wooden creations in the carpenter’s house, so when Alaria suddenly decided they should all go out to the water, Dany followed the two little drunk ladies outside. What Dany did not follow was the other two dropping their clothes! Dany decided to pass on the drunken ocean skinny-dipping, and spent the rest of the night at the inn.

The next morning, Alaria found her way back to Dany at the inn and since they had plenty of time to kill, they decided to go to the General Store across the road. Alaria had her stockpile of gold, much of it stolen from her victims in previous battles, and Dany had her winnings from Roll It the day before. They decided to pick up some needed supplies like food rations and crossbow bolts. The shopkeeper mentioned rumors about religious zealots sighted in the area and how they claimed they could use magic on the crystal trinkets he sold at the counter. Again, the partners exchanged glances. Zealots? These might be the Sun Wizard minions that are meeting up with Cledus this very evening!

It was time to hatch a plan. Dany and Alaria would continue to pose as crystal buyers. They planned to hide discreetly in the cave to scope out who the other buyers were, and if they happened to be religious zealots, or even the Sun Wizard himself, they would be ready. This evening they needed to get information, or even follow the other buyers back to where they came from – this was the best way to find the Sun Wizard and end his reign of terror once and for all!

The only thing left to do now was wait for the sun to set…

……………………

And so ends the latest installment of our DnD adventures! Thanks for reading! I hope you like this ongoing storyline lol! If you play Dungeons and Dragons too, let’s hear about your character in the comments! 🙂

Crystal Light Meditation

Meditation is something that I’ve started committing to on a daily basis, and I think it really helps me to reduce anxiety and find some clarity in this crazy life. As I wrote in my recent post about Nap York, I have been searching for new places to take my meditation to the next level.

One place that I’ve discovered is Modrn Sanctuary. OK, to be honest, I first read about them in Time Out New York, so I guess they discovered it and shared the info with me. But I have tried their Crystal Light Bed therapy twice now, and I really recommend that everyone try it out if they can.

My Crystal Light Bed

‘What is a Crystal Light Bed?’ you may ask. Excellent question, because it’s a very unique ‘energy bath’ that uses a combination of crystal light, ethereal soundscapes, vibration therapy, and energy frequencies to help clients reach a high level of relaxation and a deeply meditative state.

The Crystal Light Bed is a specially designed bed on a raised platform. You lay down on a “thermo-electrotherapeutic biomat” aka a comfy heated mat that sends vibrational pulses to the beat of the calming music. Over you are strategically placed quartz crystals aligned with the seven chakras of the body. Before the session begins, you select a frequency to align with your intention. Then you relax and let the senses be taken over…

I had done this therapy once before, and had visualizations of seeing the planet from space. That time I had chosen the lowest frequency, Root. This time I went for the opposite – the highest frequency, Crown. My experience was quite different.

I don’t know if it’s because I had a crazy day and my mind was racing, but I could not fully focus. But when I was able truly open up my mind, what I felt was more along the lines of floating.  First I felt like I was floating, maybe 6 inches above the biomat. I felt weightless. A few minutes later I felt as though my bed had moved 90 degrees; like it had moved perpendicular to the floor and I was somehow in a standing position. (Obviously I wasn’t really moving, but it really felt that way to me.) However, near the end of the session, my alignment changed again and I spent a majority of the final minutes feeling as though I was horizontal again, but on a slant. I felt like my feet were higher and my head was low to the ground, like I was on a seesaw or a scale tipped to the side. Afterward, I reflected and thought it was interesting that my head, or the Crown Chakra, was the ‘heavy’ side of my tipped scale of consciousness, because that was the frequency I had chosen for the session. My instincts tell me that this is a sign of chakra imbalance. Maybe I’m top heavy and need to work more on the lower chakras. I will have to do more research.

I am really loving that Crystal Light Bed. Not only does it look cool, but the biomat is so relaxing. I read that the bed costs $16,000 to make, which I guess means that I can’t have one in my house… lol! But I plan on going back again. The pricing is a little more affordable than it was last time, but as of now I only go when there is a discount or coupon to use. Modrn Sanctuary also has other services, including a Salt Room which I’ve heard lots of good things about. Compared to Nap York’s very low rates, Modrn Sanctuary is definitely more expensive but you get a more premium experience. It’s definitely great that there are options on both ends of the spectrum! I still have other places to explore, such as MNDFL Meditation near my office. It’s really a wonderful journey to find the best place to meditate.

It’s never too late to get started with meditation! Have you ever tried it? Do you have any places to recommend? I’d love to hear from you!

Carnies Come to Taproom 307!

What do you think of when you hear “Brooklyn, NY”? For most people, maybe it’s the Brooklyn Bridge, or the Barclay’s Center, or Junior’s Cheesecake. (All wonderful things!) But when it comes to me, I think of Coney Island!

Coney Island is so much fun to visit. They have roller coasters and amusement rides, a minor league baseball team, a beachfront boardwalk, a museum, an aquarium, and of course the freak show! There is an old world kind of charm that still lingers on Surf Ave. I used to go there a lot when I lived in Park Slope – I recommend that everyone visits Coney Island, and the original Nathan’s Hot Dogs location at least once! This is also the home of the Coney Island Brewery, which has awesome beer and hosts lots of super fun events, like when they hosted a Cinnamon Toast Brunch to celebrate the launch of their Cinnamon Toast Kolsch beer.

But I know. Sometimes it’s hard to make the trip. From where I live now, it’s like a two hour endeavor to get to Coney Island. Luckily, Coney Island Brewery understands that it’s not easy to get to them all the time, so they coordinate with local bars in Manhattan to bring a little bit of Coney Island to the heart of the city!

Most recently Coney Island Brewery hosted a tap takeover at Taproom 307. It was SUPER fun! I was greeted by a stilt-walker before I even got inside.

For me there were two highlights – delicious Watermelon Wheat Ale and the professional Sword Swallower: Claire Kasper! She was beautiful and talented, and of course very friendly and nice. Not only did she swallow a sword, but she used a hammer and nailed a nail up her nose. 😱

I got a video of the sword swallowing. Claire had this crazy wavy looking sword. Seemed pretty risky! Check it out!

Sword Swallowing

Love it!!! She’s so cool! Anyway, we had a lot of fun and I highly recommend everyone to check out Coney Island Brewery beers, events and the brewery itself! It’s super fun and they do lots of giveaways. I got Mermaid Pilsner pins and CIB sunglasses.

They give out raffle tickets when you buy their beer at the tap takeover, and then give out cool prizes! My friend won a sweet cooler!!