Humdrum Discoveries ‘Daily Tarot’

Originally published on State of Liberation

Tarot cards are far from being a mystery. In fact, they are available in thousands of variations, designed by countless artists, printed and purchasable at your favorite book shop or website. Though they were once a flashy prop used by extravagant mediums, their use has since spread as a personal and regular practice, as a self-help tactic, and an exercise in introversion. The idea that magic and the divination are the ultimate purpose behind Tarot cards is incorrect and misguided. Tarot cards are not intended to tell the future. They are a tool to reflect on the past, see the present clearly, and hypothesize about upcoming events, so that we can contemplate our decisions and prepare mentally. If you find yourself confused or caught in the complex web of life, and wish for a conduit from which to draw spiritual wisdom, whatever source that may be, Tarot might be worth a try.

The concept of Tarot is about as old as humanity itself, with decks incredibly similar to those we use even today, found in ancient Egyptian tombs. Throughout history, sets have been created as simple yet beautifully handcrafted playing cards, and finally altered in key different ways to be turned into spiritual tools. You want to select a set of 78 Tarot cards, with 22 Major Arcana, and 56 Minor Arcana cards, divided into 4 groups of 14; the swords, wands, pentacles and cups.

When choosing your own Tarot deck, you may want to become a bit more familiar with the choices artists and practitioners have made in creating their decks. Whether you would like to delve into a complex composition, such as the Crowley-Harris Thoth studies and the Golden Dawn approach, or simply choose a beautiful deck that resonates within you, put a bit of thought into it. A Tarot deck, after being used regularly, will carry your energy- a tiny part of yourself.

Once you have a favoured deck in hand, take some time to look at every card and become familiar with it. Look at the faces of each character and internalize the symbolism the artist has chosen to display. You will need a Tarot interpretation book or source, again, of your choice- though the symbols and meaning behind each card are well known (even a small internet search will tell you what each card represents) each author will have their own differences in explanation.

There are many card spreads used by practitioners, but to begin, why not give the 3 Card Spread a try? Shuffle your deck well, taking the time to quiet the chatter in your head, and to let a particular life issue or thought take the center stage. If you so choose, let the presence of the divine within you arise in this exercise. Let that energy within your mind travel down, from the temples, to your neck, curving through the shoulders, down your arms, spreading to your palm and fingers, and finally, entering the cards. When you feel ready, put down the deck, and in that same state of concentration, cut the deck in two. Flip three cards from the point where you separated the deck; as should be instructed in your interpretation book, do not turn them right-side up if they are upside down, as the direction the cards decide the tone of your reading. Read the meanings of each care and see how they apply to your current situation.

The first card you drew will represent a state you have left behind, or are in the process of concluding. The second card will represent your current situation…this card’s meaning can sometimes be difficult to swallow, as it will often bluntly show us the versions of the present we refuse to see. The third card will be a theoretical view of what should be upcoming _should current events remain the same_ and is _in no way a guarantee of the future. Take time to internalize the meanings the cards have shown you.

The fun part is repeating the exercise a few more times, and seeing if the same practice brings similar sentiments from the cards. The more you use your cards, on a daily basis if you can, the more the meanings you derive will be clear, often spot-on, and sometimes, creepily accurate.

After a few draws, you will feel your inner energy start to dwindle, and repeated readings beyond that point will stop making any sense, seemingly random and devoid or vitality. It is very important to take long breaks between Tarot reading sessions. After completing a reading, drink plenty of water and reload on vitamins. You will feel purged and ready to take on whatever challenges await you.

 

Questions or comments about Tarot practice? Don’t hesitate to comment.

Want to see a spiritual or religious concept to be featured on Humdrum Discoveries? I would love to hear your ideas!

 

The Mysteries Behind the Mysterious Noise

Originally published on TheNerdistheWord November 2016

On the ocean floor in the Fury and Hecla Strait, a narrow water channel in the Qikiqtaaluk Region of Nunavut, Canada, a suspicious noise is being heard. Some have described it as a beeping, others as a hum. In a major hunting area, it seems to be affecting marine wildlife, making whales divert their course in an abnormal way.  Residents in the area have been discussing this strange phenomenon since last summer, but experts are still unsure what could be causing it.

Theories have been suggested: a mining expedition, submarines, a seafloor mapping survey or environmental activists are suspected. The military has been alerted to the weird sound, and an investigation is underway, promising to provide a logical explanation soon. Us Nerds however, prone to wider imaginations, have our own ideas as to what is going on in Northern Canada.

Why not let us dream a little?

 

Super Villain Lair

If you had the ambition to conquer the world, and wanted to avoid detection while you schemed your subversions, where would you hide your secret headquarters of evil? So many Super Villains have gotten it all wrong! Living inside a volcano is not plausible, underground facilities are dangerous, and space stations nowadays are too easy to detect. The bottom of the frozen Canadian Arctic waters might come to mind as something difficult, but truly ideal.

Perhaps a conglomerate of super villains has developed some sort of underground Atlantis for their questionable scientific interests. Is the mysterious sound simply one of their power generators or evil machine started making too much noise? Or is the sound the effect of a secret weapon?
Thankfully, the Canadian military obviously has a few super heroes that can take care of the problem.

 

Crashed Alien Ship


There are a handful of UFO sightings each year in North America. If aliens are truly visiting our planet, it is uncertain how they view this kind of attention. To avoid being spotted, wouldn’t it be logical to keep to the cold and less populated Arctic? What is an accident occurred, and their craft ended up on a cold ocean floor? If aliens really are among us, they have managed to avoid leaving clear evidence of their presence. Our only hope to detect them (unless world governments haven’t already secretly discovered and studied our outer space visitors) depends on these advanced beings to make a mistake. Could this strange noise be a distress signal perhaps surviving aliens are desperately sending out to space? Are we looking at a Canadian version of the Roswell cover-up?

 

Something Older…

You probably know Cthulhu without having read the H.P Lovecraft short story behind it; this image of the gigantic and ancient cosmic entity, emerging from the unfathomable depths of the ocean and slowly advancing towards our defenseless civilization, is ever present in nerdy media these days. According to the original story, the Great Old One, dormant in the only part of the earth we still have not fully explored, is to blame for much of humanity’s subconscious anxiety and fear of the unknown. Cultists eagerly await the return of Cthulhu- what this means for us humans, is mainly uncertain. Lovecraft’s story envisions that images of Cthulhu would have been present in some spiritual practices of early northern aboriginal cultures.
Could Cthulhu actually lay dormant in Canada’s arctic waters?  Would the strange noise being reported be a sign that the Great Old One has awakened?

Investigations as to what the strange signal is are underway and military surveillance should be on-going. Residents of the area continue to hear it, and the environment surrounding it seems to be annoyed by it. So far, the military doesn’t seem to have detected much. At least, that’s what has been reported. Is the source of the noise trying to avoid serious scrutiny? Or are we just not being told the whole story yet? One thing is for sure, if this mysterious noise is caused by anything as cool as our fantastical theories, we might not hear about it for a while…

 

Reference:

News, CBC. “Military Plane Investigates Mystery ‘ping’ near Igloolik.” CBCnews. CBC/Radio Canada, 04 Nov. 2016. Web. Nov. 2016. URL: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/igloolik-ping-military-investigates-1.3835237

Is it Actually Fun Being a Pirate?

From their appearance in cherished literature, expensive motion pictures, adored children cartoons, epic anime series, and even noodlely religious practice, 18th century maritime pirates are a common myth. Who wouldn’t want to be one? You get to live on a sail ship, drinking alcohol day and night, chasing large sums of gold, free from rules and laws- in an era before the invention of radar technology, making your crew of friends almost unfindable on the open sea. It sure sounds like an amazing way to live, like a never ending cruise party.

Sadly the real lives of pirates were far from being as advertised. Pirate nerds, meet the history nerds. Pirates were the bad guys, in the real world; they plundered and killed, all the while living very miserably lives. Don’t go trading everything for a boat and a hat just yet!

 

Get in looser, we’re going pirating

Sailors perhaps aren’t given the credit they firstly and honorably deserve- sailing a tall ship is extremely difficult. Yet, after years of living where it’s cold, wet and lonely, acquiring knowledge, experience and muscle book learning cannot provide, most sailors working for navies or merchants were treated like dirt. They were pushed around by their employers, who were typically high-born and/or rich. The measly ‘honest’ pay sailors escaped each risky voyage with was practically designed to keep them working forever. Rebelling against authority was an attractive option- Fight for your Right to Paaaarrggty!

Pirates were seen as the impressive career of those who had survived sea voyages long enough to have taken after the ocean’s wild temperament. Being allowed to join a group of them, either by accident or initiation, was interesting. Captains were somewhat elected to their roles, instead of appointed according to military and social rank. As mutinies were laughably common, Captains treated pirate crews fairly well to remain in power. Piracy offered a chance to make a fortune, provided the journey didn’t end badly, and allowed sailors to arm themselves as they desired, something unseen on merchant ships.

 

What’s not to love? Everything

Not wanting to get arrested on land for their looting, a pirate is one who accepts banishment to the sea, an environment ill suited to human beings. With nowhere else to go, the entire world of a pirate is constrained to one ship, where every day life onboard is rather difficult.

Discipline is important, even if you’ve traded from a 3-masted ship down to a Sloop, work and maintenance is a round-the-clock effort. At sea, sailors are constantly working too clean, mend and maintain their embarkation- their lives depend on it. It gets a little hard to be diligent among pirates, however. Every man is his own, concerned about having fun more than anything, so not all tasks are kept up with. Grime gathers, equipment falls into disrepair, ‘workplace accidents’ become more common- and if the ship sinks, everyone dies.

The space below deck is cramped, smelly and full of vermin. Rats, huge and vicious, are numerous; they spread disease, eat through food stores, as well as the ship itself, the hull and canvas, as though they don’t realize the boat is essential to their survival. Pirates get plenty to eat, but they’d rather eat it in the dark to not see the weevils crawling on it. There were no rules, including about where a fellow pirate should go to the bathroom; the bottom levels of the ship eventually became imbibed with the slush and smell of excrement and sickness. Keeping things healthy and sanitary in an 18th century context is improbable, but it’s even worse when half of the crew is busy drinking.

 

The Black Flag

There wasn’t much pride among pirates, they slept with an eye open even among themselves. There was no code of behavior, beyond the concept of not angering the wrong person to not end up overboard. There weren’t really any secret songs to whisper in the fog at dawn or anything ritualistic about pirate life, chaos ruled their actions. Fellows didn’t share much, except perhaps is dysentery, the illness that slowly ate their stomach’s inner walls as they pirated on.

At least the work was somewhat easy; the overpopulation onboard pirate ships meant less work was assigned to an individual, leaving them lots of time to sit around as they waited for passing ship. Raids were conducted with strategy, and depended entirely on whether a ship could be caught up with to begin with, which wasn’t as simple as portrayed in modern entertainment mediums.

Pay wasn’t distributed easily; seizing cargo meant pirates had access to interesting amounts of tobacco to smoke, large quantities of ale, and their food was served on very nice looking dishes, but ships not accidentally sunk were to be sold, and booty needed to be traded. Hunters that roamed the waters, looking to claim bounties, has to be avoided at all cost, sometimes stretching trips to dangerous lengths. It took time and effort for a regular pirate to see his coin.

 

Journey’s End

Whether it’s from drowning, sickness, malnutrition, sword fighting, cannon, or being marooned on a deserted stretch of sand, real pirate stories didn’t end well. Death is an ever-present passenger aboard all pirate ships, and being isolated at sea means no one hears the news. The final days of many famous pirates are a mystery to us modern nerds, many seem to simply disappear, for lack of available record. Yet some do manage to escape their terrible fates. Some pirates are known to have retired from their plundering ways, either to somewhere warm, or by purchasing pardon from rulers, though these chances were very slim.

Pirates were criminals who claimed things illegally who lived violent and disorderly lies. Their travels weren’t as exciting and free as we’d like to imagine. They were not heroes as we have been led to believe through works of fiction; none of them cared to help locals, take down oppressive leaders, or share their fortunes. Pirates were the bad guys, the ones who threatened the real adventurers and defenders of the seas. Their lives were miserable and short, which perhaps explains their decision to drink themselves silly and seek risks.

Sorry pirate nerds, the history nerds didn’t mean to pop your bubble, but perhaps 18th Century Piracy ought to stay in literature, films and cartoons? What makes behaving like a “pirate” enjoyable, in this modern era, is the power of make-believe. Impossible things are, after all, the most fun!

References:

Lovgren, Stefan. “Grim Life Cursed Real Pirates of Caribbean.” National Geographic. National Geographic Society, 11 July 2003. Web. Oct. 2016.

“Pirate Articles.” Pirates & Privateers: The History of Maritime Piracy. Ed. Cindy Vallar. N.p., 2015. Web. Oct. 2016.

The Paranormal Show: Wunderkammer in Ottawa!

Originally published on TheNerdistheWord October 2016

The Paranormal Show is a brilliant presentation by Scott McClelland, claiming the descendant of a famous and classic freak show director. By setting an atmosphere of mystery, with a 17th century beautiful yet eerie feel, he takes you on a journey, where seeing… isn’t exactly believing. Put yourself in the Halloween spirit this weekend!

The Paranormal Show is on for 2 more evenings in Ottawa at the Art Courts Theatre, Friday October 28th and Saturday October 29th!

Check out The Paranormal Show’s website! Tickets are available on the Arts Court Theatre website.

This one-man show, performed by a local to our general corner of Ontario, was truly worth battling the elements for, on the first storm of the season. As the winds and snow raged on outside, the shadowy world of the unexplained came to life within the dainty and intimate theatre.

As a Parapsychologist, McClelland’s persona known as Vladimir Eisengrimm, turns the world upside down, where ‘science’ as we know, it the questionable domain, and supernatural events are the norm. With a great deal of audience engagement, he demonstrates that the power of the mind is more effective than we realize. The impressive feats performed match splendidly told tales of the bizarre, all tied together by an imposing and masterful character, who is both creepy and hilarious. Accurate historical knowledge is presented, making the events that unfold before the audience all the more believable, and appealing easily to those who already adore paranormal tales.

As the show unfolds, the Wunderkammer, the Cabinet of Wonders, a strange collection of objects related to paranormal phenomenon is explored. We don’t want to spoil anything, but Eisengrimm’s specialties include areas such as the power of suggestion, mind reading, lie detection, illusions, prediction and telekinesis. The finale, a séance to contact the dead, will send shivers down your spine.

The Paranormal Show has had an remarkable track record, having been featured and documented on television on numerous occasions. We at The Nerd is the Word dare you to come out this weekend and explore the uncanny, the inexplicable, the paranormal.

Are my Neighbours Superheroes?

Originally Published for TheNerdistheWord October 2016

Most of us understand the frustration of having loud neighbours. Whether a yard, an acre, or a thin plywood wall separates you, a noisy fellow always finds a way to make themselves heard. It’s sometimes difficult even to imagine what exactly is causing the disturbances. What was that thumping? I swear that it sounded like a metal hare tapping his foot and digging tunnels through the floor. And this yelling! It’s  like a werewolf with a miniature trumpet stuck in his throat! Is someone being murdered up there? With bean bag chairs and small appliances? I really think I heard one of them exclaim their name is Inigo Montoya and that someone killed their father, what in the…

Arg!

Just who lives next door? No mere mortal can make a racket like that! Most residents are unaware, but superhumans walk amongst us. The disturbances you are experiencing could be due to mutants, aliens, or strange monsters. If you think your neighbours might be Super Heroes (or infuriating Super Zeroes), you might have noticed the following phenomena:

  • Every time someone upstairs sneezes, the walls shake and some of your dishes shatters.
  • They leave a police scanner on, all night. Often enough you can hear them climb a window frame and exclaim something like “My City NEEDS ME”.
  • Their vacuuming sounds like an indoor tornado. Super speed does make chores a bit easier.
  • You can often spot them standing on the roof, just looking to the distance intensely. They ignore you like the superpower-devoid ant you are when you ask how the heck they got up there.
  • They rarely use doors. Smashing through a skylight looks way cooler.
  • Some seem to be incredibly rich and commission extravagant building projects, such as cave-like basements, secret passages, and observation towers.
  • Burning cooking smells are common. Almost as though laser eyes or excessive fire power is used to make mac n’ cheese.
  • Paparazzi and journalists are often scouting your area. You wouldn’t tip them off, would you?

Its not all bad!

Complaints to your landlord or to your municipality haven’t helped? The interruptions of your daily life by these over-powered lunatics are driving you mad? Learning to live together and compromise can be a challenge, but it is possible, even when surrounded by confirmed Super Heroes. There are many advantages to welcoming them to your neighbourhood:

  • Don’t worry about burglars; your Super Annoying neighbours will most likely feel compelled to protect your entire district.
  • Hearing an alien creature snore brings good luck.
  • They throw the best parties! Sure, usually everyone is riding the adrenaline of a close call with death and destruction, but a Super Hero’s celebration sure is wild.
  • They can use telekinesis, super stretching, or whatever else, to reach difficult places. Washing the ceiling or changing high lightbulb is Super Easy.
  • At least they aren’t Super Villains? Enough said.
  • They park some pretty amazing Super Vehicles in the driveway, and they might even let you drive one
  • Befriending them can be awesome. While you’ll want to hear their crime fighting stories, you’ll find they actually envy your normal life.
  • Super heroes usually need a SideKick, wink wink ;)!

 

We’ve reached an era of tolerance, where accepting vigilante freaks that cause massive collateral damage has become a necessity. Let’s not alienate these masked heroes, who probably just want to fit in, and deal with problems much greater than our own. Sure, they are egocentric, a little foolish, uncontrollable, completely obsessed, and they stick out like a sore thumb in our peaceful little towns. Despite all the Super Exasperating issues, we should probably stay on the good sides of those who save our planet from evil-doers. It might not hurt to bake them a pie.

Animal Anthropomorphism in The Boy and the Beast

Originally published for TheNerdistheWord September 2016

-Warning this article does involve some SPOILERS.-

The practice of featuring animals in the place of human characters in story telling is widespread. We call giving non-human entities human emotions, goals and societies Anthropomorphism. This technique makes characters more attachable, giving them surreal attributes that stimulate the imagination and remind us of ourselves. As we link behaviors with natural patterns in our minds, anthropomorphism is used to expand on a character’s personality, allowing their traits to take on symbolic meaning.

In The Boy and the Beast, an animated film directed by Mamoru Hosoda, (available on Netflix as of October 5th 2016!), young Ren straddles the limit between the human world and the Beast Kingdom (jūtengai), where humanoid animals reside. The ruler, a robe-wearing white rabbit known as the Grandmaster of the Beast Kingdom, has decided he will retire to reincarnate as a god, the way only animal anthropomorphisms can. He has two potential successors, Lôzen, a golden boar, with two children and untold popularity, and Kumatetsu, a lazy lone bear with anger issues.

Animal anthropomorphism such as in The Boy and the Beast has been present storytelling for hundreds of years. Jean de la Fontaine, for example, back in 1692 completed his Fables. These little poetic stories told of animals and insects with human attributes, whose adventures taught important morals for readers to remember. The characters had behaviors similar to their natural animal ways of life. As examples, the fox was typically a clever and suave character; the crow was a loud-mouth; and the ant a busy worker. Fast forward to recent novels, television and movies and you’ll encounter countless other examples of animal anthropomorphism, like Winnie the Pooh, Peter Rabbit, Disney’s Robin Hood, and their new mammal metropolis, Zootopia.

The Boy and the Beast goes way beyond what modern film makers and writers have accomplished by featuring human and animal hybrid characters. It features not only animal anthropomorphisms seen in other stories, but also depicts the connection between such a mythological concept and the world we know. The Beast Kingdom is justified despite its fabulous existence as the place where creatures can become gods, carefully contrasted to the world of humans. Where monkeys, pigs, and hares stop walking on two legs grows the thick Tokyo jungle- unforgiving and much more intimidating than the fantastical Beast Kingdom.

Ren find himself lost in the harsh world we know and somehow slips in the Beast Kingdom, that becomes his refuge. Kumatetsu is encouraged by the Grandmaster to find a disciple and takes in Ren, renamed Kyûta. Humans aren’t usually welcome in the Beast Kingdom, for they have the potential of bearing darkness in their hearts- a problem anthropomorphic animals don’t have to worry about. This sets a clear difference between humans and animals, which belong to different realms traditionally meant to stay separate. In a sense, the inhabitants of the Beast Kingdom, as animals (or animal spirits perhaps), are purer and more enlightened than humans. The inhabitants fear the potential for darkness in Kyûta, something much more terrifying than Kumatetsu the bear’s short temper and brute strength.Kyûta bonds with his adoptive family, the members of which are unrelated by blood, and who actually each belong to disparate species. The characters who surround Kyûta demonstrate the traits their animal selves typically have in the human world. The monkey is skeptical and scornful; the cat is playful and gluttonous, the rhinos are proud and aggressive. The pig shares the most similarities with humans and is thus depicted as a gentle and nurturing monk. The boar Lôzen is a disciplined character with a proud progeny, with a deep understanding of social duties. In comparison, Kumatetsu, is naturally brash and quick to anger, but is deep down just a teddy bear in need of a friend.Sharing a similar stubborn spirit, Kumatetsu and Kyûta wind up teaching one another. As Kyûta ages and gains strength, Kumatetsu acquires patience and self-restraint. By accident, Kyûta finds again access to the human world, speaks his name as Ren again, and explores the world he was born into with new eyes. He is drawn to book learning, what he has been missing during all these years training with Kumatetsu. He grows attached to an iconic book; Moby Dick by Herman Melville. As an animal personification, the white whale comes to represent Kyûta’s conflict in choosing which world he belongs to. Unlike the animal anthropomorphisms of the Beast Kingdom, the enormous and menacing whale is only an emblem and demonstrates no human traits. When Kyûta is able to overcome his internal fighting and become whole, the metaphorical beast disappears.

For The Boy and the Beast, the phenomenon of animal anthropomorphism seems to reach both ways. Important principles such as willpower, courage and thoughtfulness are attributed to the inhabitants of the Beast Kingdom. It might seem as though animals are given human attributes, but it is perhaps Kyûta who learns the animal way of life? The Boy and the Beast is a story of exchange, as opposed to transformation. While Kyûta teaches Kumatetsu how to be a parent, more mindful and kind, Kyûta gains strength, technique and the family his own world couldn’t provide. The boy becomes slightly more beastly, while the beast becomes slightly more human. Like his teacher, Kyûta learns to stand on his own and follow his own path, keeping the philosophies of a beast forever within him.

The Boy and the Beast will be available on Netflix October 5th 2016!

So You Want to be a Charizard?

Originally Published on TheNerdistheWord September 2016

Is this not the life you imagined? Had enough of struggling with daily routines? Feel like you’ll go on a rampage next time you hear your noisy neighbour sneeze? Will you spontaneously combust next time your boss talks of optimizing efficiency? Will you ram your head through a wall next time you are forced to mention the weather in an elevator? Thinking of climbing an electric pole and never coming down when your whiny friends call? Will you eat a stapler the next time your in-laws complain about their racoon problem?

You stare at your reflection in a bathroom mirror and just want to roar out in frustration. The world is unfair, and you can’t seem to catch a break. Enough with all this human crap! You’ve have enough, time to leave this species behind. Little Katy in kindergarten wanted to be a butterfly when she’d grow up, Tim wanted to be a monster truck. They said you could be anything, so you’re going to become a Charizard.

 

Transformation?

Now before you attempt to become a Charizard, make sure your body and mind are prepared. Setting the transformation in motion too early will instead turn you into a ‘shartmander’, and you will roam the world with both eyes on one side of your face forever. Make sure the following symptoms are happening:

37d

  • The idea of swimming or bathing is completely unthinkable to you. Try taking a shower as a test. Was setting your tub on fire your immediate reaction? Good
  • You have at least twenty years of misery and anger repressed to the deeper sections of your psyche.
  • Clothing seems useless to you. Unless you are a girl, then the urge to wear an iconic pink bow on your head is uncontrollable.
  • You find yourself yelling random words and phrases like ‘Incinerate! Air SLASH! WING ATTACK!’ when performing daily tasks, like taking out the trash.
  • You’ve been feeling highly competitive lately. An important meeting, such as a job interview, quickly escalated to a full on fist fight in a parking lot.

 

 

Drawbacks

Be sure of what you are doing! Sure, Charizards, live frikkin awesome lives, but it doesn’t mean they don’t have their own issues to deal with. You are going to become a 1.7m tall, bright orange creature with enormous hind legs that could squash a car, yet tiny little arms that won’t be able to reach for beer in the fridge. Fitting through doorframes is going to be a challenge; you’ll end up smashing your own way into places regularly.

Get ready to smell like B.O. because you will never bathe again. Constantly having a flame at the end of your tail will cause accidents, that is just a fact- prepare apologies for what you will scorch in advance. Remember also that Charizards don’t get to be members of the Dragon Club, for you know, not being an actual dragon.

Up and Away

If we have not convinced you to give up your transformation, you may be ready. You should always be yourself, unless you can be a Charizard, then always be a Charizard. You are going to not only become a Pokemon, but will traverse three creatures’ skeletal formatting and go through two evolutions before you can call yourself a Charizard.

 

Gather all of your rage and excitement! Think of never having to deal with road traffic again and your new wings will emerge. Think of how fast you can barbecue your favorite hot dogs and fire will awaken in your stomach. Think of the tail your parents had removed with plastic surgery when you were a baby, and poke gigantic holes through you pants!

Congrats, you’ve done it. Go set something on fire!

Caffeine 1UP: Ottawa’s very own Videogame Café

Originally Published for TheNerdistheWord September 2016

“I Open at the Close”
Earlier this week, we heard that a local nerdy business, Monopolatte, a boardgame hangout, would be shutting down. Don’t worry; this isn’t a sign; the nerdy spirit hasn’t left our busy town. As one door closes, another opens- and right on Rideau street! Instead of being sad, celebrate the glorious and brand new Caffeine 1UP, Ottawa’s very own videogame café. The Nerd is the Word was onsite September 19th 2016 for their beta opening bash, on International Talk Like a Pirate Day, ARRRG!

The official Caffeine 1UP GRAND OPENING is September 26th.

What is Caffeine 1UP?
The owner of Caffeine 1UP, Heather Powell, is currently very happy to meet both the gaming community and her neighbours as patterns of day to day business begin to solidify. A variety of customers, have curiously been peeking in; some seek the coffee and tea specialty, others are curious about the gaming consoles and Nintendo universe-themed décor. The café is perfectly located, near the University of Ottawa campus and the busy Rideau Centre; an area that can always use an extra dash of geekery.

Caffeine 1UP is a little gem open to all ages, welcoming both skilled and casual gamers, as well as any coffee lovers looking for a cool place to hangout. For $5 (currently discounted to $3!) you can play as long as you like with systems XBOX, XBOX 360, PlayStation, PlayStation2, SEGA Genesis, NES, SNES, Nintendo 64, GameCube, Wii, Wii-U! See their website for the full library of games.

Not in the mood for gaming? Don’t be shy! As a full service café, offering delicious pastries and sandwiches, as well as fantastic espresso drinks and teas, videogames are almost just the cherry on top. Plenty of seating is offered for relaxing and reading your favorite novel or comic book (as long as you let Heather read over your shoulder). The large center table would also be perfect for board games and role-play campaigns, which are fully permitted by the staff.

A Place for Social Connections
We asked, seeing the large library of classic games, if Heather might have a thing for retro gaming. Some of the consoles available for customers to play with used to be her own childhood systems; they are incredibly well maintained, and you can tell they were treasured for decades. There is an aspect of nostalgia for the games of the 1990s and early 2000s that brings players together (who doesn’t feel like a kid again seeing Mario Kart on an original SNES), but it is not the main reason behind Caffeine 1UP choice of games.

Heather explained that, unfortunately, newer games barely allow for split screen multiplayer gaming, which is the entire reason behind the creation of this café. As opposed to the strictly virtual style of group play modern consoles seem to impose, older consoles focused on bringing friends and family together within the same room. Caffeine 1UP is all about offering a place for social gatherings, and thus appreciates the way retro videogames were once played.

Time seems to stand still inside the café, making it easy to sit back, forget your worries, and enjoy good company over a game. The all accepting community is an ideal place for social connections to naturally occur among both experienced and new gamers. Station #1, where a Wii U console is installed, was invented for the exact purpose of bringing people together. It is dubbed the LFG (aka Looking For Group) table, where single players can signal their desire to meet new friends, or a new arch nemesis. Heather recounted the first time she witnessed strangers meet and enjoy a game together: “my heart swelled” she said with power stars glittering in her eyes, “it’s what I want to see.”

So Much Ahead!
Caffeine 1UP is up to a great start, but also gave us quite a bit to look forward to!

The Nerd is the Word is happy to announce that Caffeine 1Up is the location of our first event! To help celebrate the GRAND OPENING of Caffeine 1UP we will be holding a Golden Eye (N64) tournament and giving away prizes! Come join us on September 26th at 7pm for some James Bond fun! All paid gaming time on grand opening day goes to Ability First Ottawa charity. Check the event page for more details!

Heather is also planning a few gaming  challenges among other “funky fun things” for the future. We just can’t wait for these announcements! Ladies Night will also probably be a monthly occasion, where gamer girls will get to play for free. Soon, leader boards will be on display where record holders of various games will be honored. Mario Kart time trial anyone?

Come witness Heather Powell’s passion for both coffee and videogames. An upbeat staff, friendly atmosphere, and fun gaming experience awaits you at Caffeine 1UP, now officially part of the downtown Ottawa nerdy scenery.

 

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Monsters are Upon Us!

Originally Published on TheNerdistheWord September 2016

She was just on a walk, after dark, along the Rideau Canal near the University of Ottawa. It’s a well lit area, ironically quiet for it’s proximity to the flashy downtown core.
When she’d first seen the large, slimy footprints on the paved trail, she hadn’t known what to think. The strange splashing on the canal’s surface was probably just a fish, or an insomniac duck. Was the sound of muddy footsteps behind her getting nearer? Then, she saw it, and her scream was heard all the way to Makenzie King Bridge. The Rideau Canal Monsters are upon us!

 

Noticed the lumpy gunk and funky smell?

As of last week, the Rideau Canal water was deemed unsafe to even touch by the Ottawa Public Heath agency, due to toxic blue-green algae. The presence of such bacteria is likely an indication of heavy pollution. This summer, residents and tourists alike have been caught chucking trash and dangerous substances in the canal, as though it is a large communal garbage can.
Year after year, we seem to forget the disastrous state of our canal- after all, once it freezes over into the skating rink we love, we won’t see the dead floating fish, decomposed Tim Hortons cups and soggy plastic bags anymore. This time, the problem is literally climbing out of the water, reaching out to lone victims in the night!

 

What are the Rideau Canal Monsters?

The Rideau Canal Monsters have lived among us, unknown to the general population for at least a century. They emerge practically every year, shortly after Labour Day, as the touristic season draws to an end. They are usually a discreet bunch, immigrating from the stagnant canal waters traveled by small boats during the summer, towards the greater currents of Ottawa River, where they spend the winter.

As super-evolved plant life, the creatures themselves are composed of algae and seaweed. They have fish-like faces with big lidless eyes on the side of their skulls.  Fins, which make them faster swimmers than walkers, are present on either arms and legs. They can be up to 7ft tall, and thus far, we have not been capable of differentiating genders among them. Could they simply grow from the muck caked at the bottom of the canal?

It is unknown when exactly the Rideau Canal Monsters grew humanoid legs and arms, which allow them to roam the trails of the canal and the Ottawa River front. Strange rumours and legends have led some to think that Rideau Canal Monsters could even be transformed swimmers, contaminated by the hazardous cocktail of chemicals that sit in the polluted water. Could the Rideau Canal Monsters once have been humans? Could we have created the issue in the first place?

This year, the creatures are not only immigrating ahead of the winter; they seek vengeance.

 

What do I do if I see one?

In the past, Rideau Canal Monsters have cohabited with us peacefully. Once, they would have responded to a small “how do you do?” with a polite head nod, but in light of recent attacks, they should not be approached. If you happen to cross a Rideau Canal Monster, here’s a quick list of dos-and-don’ts:

 

Don’t:

-Make comments about the smell, they can be very sensitive.
-Throw trash in the water or at the creature.
-Try to poke it with a stick
-Talk about sushi or any meals involving seaweed.
-Mention the “Creature from the Black Lagoon” 1954 film. It is piece of history they would rather forget.

 

Do:

-Speak loudly about your love for recycling and composting.
-Lie and say you voted Green.
-Address them from the side of their heads, where their eyes are.
-Mention your love for DC’s Swamp Thing or Marvel’s Man-Thing
-Run the heck away

 

Stay Safe

Ottawa residents and visitors, stay safe. Report any sightings of the Rideau Canal Monsters in the comments below, as 911 services and official news broadcasters will pretend not to believe you. Be careful on midnight strolls, and to avoid angering the creatures, please help keep our waterways clean.
 

Image Acquired from Movie, Mr. "Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)." Blogger, 20 Oct. 2014. Web. 14 Sept. 2016.
 http://mrmovierbknapp.blogspot.ca/2014_10_01_archive.html