Who am I?

A white woman with brown hair  is lying in a field of clovers. She is wearing a mask with bushy eyebrows, glasses, a fake nose, and a fake mustache. She is screaming.

Sally helped people find their true self while putting a mask on to hide her true self from the world and herself. She soon came to identify with the persona she put on in front of the people she has helped. This went on for years.

Sally didn’t realize that she had taken on the identity of her persona as her own. She would hide the fact that she was unhappy or struggle and put on the mask of a person who was always happy and never got upset. These were not a part of her she thought. As the years went on Sally began to feel unhappy about who she was and felt lost, yet she thought she was doing something that she enjoyed and thought that she would become happy by helping other people find their own happiness. She did at first but as she denied her flaws and struggles they got bigger and stronger as she continued to ignore them. These hidden struggles and feelings were making Sally miserable throughout the years.

One day as she was helping one of her patients, her thoughts that had been repressed and ignored took over and made her lash out at her patient. This patient was a regular and knew that Sally would never say those things and didn’t really mean what she had said. This patient’s name was Lisa. Sally had helped Lisa was she was in a dark place and wanted to help Sally in return.

She met up with the other patients and ask them if they had noticed the changes in Sally that Lisa had seen. They had seen this as well and wanted to help Sally as well. They came up with a plan to help Sally by using the techniques she had used to help them on Sally.

At Lisa’s next appointment, Sally looked tired and worn out. Lisa asked if everything was okay and Sally replied that everything was fine and that she was just a little tired. Lisa then asked Sally if she wanted to talk about anything. This question was what Sally needed. After hearing the question and concern in Lisa’s voice Sally broke down crying and told Lisa about all her struggles and how she didn’t have anyone to talk to. Lisa then told Sally what Sally had told Lisa when she needed help, “Your flaws and struggles are apart of who you are and you have to be able to accept them as they are if you truly want to become a happy person.” This touched Sally’s heart and she cried even more and apologized to Lisa about how she had acted and how she couldn’t help her and how she could have done better for her and how she should be the one telling Lisa these things. Lisa said, “I will not take your apology because you did nothing wrong. Sometimes we all need a helping hand. We can’t help people get better if we aren’t good ourselves. It’s okay to feel sad and down because the happiness we feel is greater after we experience a great downfall.”

After that day, Sally became happier and came to accept who she was. This helped Sally brighten other people’s lives and help them feel happy with who they are and find true happiness in their life.

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” -Mahatma Gandhi

Marvel’s Spider-man Review

The cover for the PS4 game Marvel Spiderman shows the silver Spiderman logo on a red background

Marvel’s Spider-man is a third person action game developed by Insomniac games and released September 7th, 2018. The story stars a 23-year-old Spider-man trying to stop a gang war from erupting in New York City while balancing drama in his personal life. The gameplay consists of exploration, combat, and stealth as Spider-man. The first section of this review will focus on the gameplay.

The first aspect of gameplay in Marvel’s Spider-man is the exploration, which takes the form of swinging around a closely replicated New York City doing various activities such as completing side quests or snagging collectibles. Since a large part of the gameplay revolves around movement, it was pivotal that the movement mechanics were varied and interesting. Fortunately for Marvel’s Spider-man, the movement mechanics deliver on everything desirable in a Spider-man game. You can swing through the streets, run up buildings, and bounce off roofs. When combined with the intuitive controls and controller rumble, movement proves itself a contender for the most enjoyable aspect of this game.

The open hub of New York City is littered with collectables and side missions. Most of these are enjoyable and provide a fresh gameplay experience. Upon successful completion of one of these side missions, the player is awarded with tokens which can be used to upgrade gear or unlock new suits. These tokens provide incentive for the player to explore the city and experience all that it has to offer. In the end, exploration in Marvel’s Spider-man is enjoyable thanks to the movement mechanics and incentivized by fun collectibles and side content.

The second aspect of gameplay is combat, comprising Batman Arkham-style punching or kicking, switched up with the occasional air launch to send an enemy high into the air where he can be dispatched without interruption from any enemies who might be lurking around. Spider-man also has access to a wide array of gadgets which can be used to detain or incapacitate enemies. As Spider-man hits enemies with punches or gadgets, he generates a resource called “focus.” Once focus is generated Spider-man can either use it to heal or, if he has enough focus, use it to take out an opponent in one hit. The inherent dichotomy between those two options opens up a wealth of micro-decisions that the player must make during combat, as the player must choose whether or not to incapacitate a particularly challenging enemy or heal themselves from whatever damage they might have taken during the fight. The focus mechanic, combined with the various uses of gadgets, combos, air launches, and even the use of items in the environment creates a challenging and deep combat system disguised in a deceptively simple appearance.

The third and final aspect of gameplay is stealth. During various points in the story Spider-man or one of his companions are placed in a room or building full of enemies and must either sneak past or slowly take them out with their comrades noticing. The Spider-man stealth sections successfully strike a difficult balance between being too easy and being too tedious. Spider-man leaps between the rafters of the building and can use special stealth attacks or gadgets to take out enemies without being noticed. Alternatively, the player can choose to engage in normal combat instead and forgo stealth altogether.

While most of Spider-man’s stealth segments were engaging both narratively and gameplay wise, unfortunately the stealth sections for his companions, Mary Jane Watson and Miles Morales, fall short with their gameplay, rarely rising above mere glorified cutscenes. None of the decisions of who, when, and how to engage that are given to Spider-man are given to his companions, who are generally confined to one path with little deviation possible. Mary Jane’s sections remedied this a little towards the end of the story with the addition of a stun gun, which can be used to temporarily knock out enemies, as well as more open spaces for her to navigate rather than a straight path. I consider the lack of interesting gameplay in these sections to be a huge missed opportunity, as they worked incredibly well narratively and just barely missed their full potential with the incorporation of poor gameplay. Overall, the gameplay of Marvel’s Spider-man is phenomenal. The exploration is fun, the combat is deep and interesting, and the stealth is generally engaging.

The next section of this review deals with the sound design. The sound design of Marvel’s Spider-man is very well done. All the ambiance of city life swells as Spider-man swings through the city with one of many exceptional pieces from the soundtrack playing to add to the mood of the scene. In combat, punches pack a solid thud, while the thwip of Spider-man’s web shooters is as satisfying as ever. Additionally, a high-pitched warning sound plays whenever an enemy fires a rocket launcher, giving the player ample warning to dodge away and ensuring that taking a powerful hit always feels fair. The voice acting is also worthy of praise. Yuri Lowenthal does an excellent job balancing both Peter Parker and Spider-man, while all the other actors deliver compelling performances for their respective roles. Next up in the review: graphics and user interface.

The visuals of Marvel’s Spider-man weren’t something I especially expected to hold up before I played it, especially the character models, but I ended up pleasantly surprised. The characters really looked as if they fitted into the world, which was something that I worried about based on pre-launch footage. Insomniac struck a fine art style which doesn’t shy away from making its environments and characters super highly detailed, and yet doesn’t get caught up in trying to make everything look ultra-realistic. It’s an appealing blend between realism and a comic-like art style. On the user interface side of things, the menu screens look clean and the game does a great job of minimizing the elements of the interface that the player doesn’t need at any given moment. Plenty of accessibility and difficulty options are provided, which makes customizing various aspects of the game easy. The world map is also highly customizable and provides a comfortable balance highly detailed enough to help navigation and simple enough to not overwhelm the player. The world map also includes the ability to turn off unnecessary icons on the map, which helps eliminate clutter. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by the visuals of Marvel’s Spider-man.

It’s worth prefacing the story section of this review with the statement that I have never actually read a Spider-man comic. I have watched many of the movies and garnered what I believe to be a decent understanding of the character of Spider-man and many of the side characters represented in this game, but it’s possible that someone with more familiarity with the characters may end up less satisfied with the story than I was. That said, the story in Marvel’s Spider-man proved to be quite compelling, incorporating new plot threads with classic villains and many a twist and turn. It treated the characters with respect while evolving them into more modern versions of their classic comic book counterparts, all while telling what I would consider to be one of the best Spider-man stories out there. The game understood what it means for Peter Parker to be Spider-man better than some of the movies, and I was pleasantly surprised with how it set up future installments without encroaching on the narrative at hand. The narrative leads the player through many action-packed set pieces, providing the spectacle expected of a superhero story while also setting up many of the quieter moments in the story which I found to be as entertaining as the action. In the end, the narrative experience of this game was well worth its while and as I finished the game, I couldn’t help but anticipate the next installment of the narrative.

Marvel’s Spider-man is a game that set itself many lofty goals, and yet achieved them all. It’s gameplay hits many of the highs of the action-adventure genre, with set pieces, story, and acting to match. The environments are beautiful, particularly the main hub of New York city, and exploration is fun and satisfying. While the game is ultimately held back by some poor stealth sections and, at times, tedious side content, it’s still well worth playing. I would highly recommend this game.

Everything You Need to Know About Succulents

A white counter has various succulents in different containers

Succulents are some of the most popular houseplants because they are low-maintenence: adapted to hot, dry, desert regions with arid soil. They grow in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, and serve as nice home decor. Some common succulents include aloe vera, jade plants, snake plants, sedum, and cacti.

A succulent is a plant that stores water in its leaves, giving them their plump appearance. Succulents don’t need heavy watering because of this adaptation. In fact, the biggest threat to a succulent is overwatering because it will rot the roots and drown the plant. Instead, succulents prefer very occasional watering. Only water this plant when the soil is completely dry. If you have a spray bottle, they enjoy getting spritzed with clean water regularly.

Succulents require hours of direct sunlight every day to mimic their natural habitat. A sunny kitchen window is ideal, or try placing the plant in a south-facing window. Plenty of sun will make sure the plant can photosynthesize and produce new, healthy growth. Succulents typically do not do well in the cold, so if you have a pot outside suring the summer (which you can definitely do) make sure to bring it in for the winter.

It is important that you choose the right kind of soil for your succulent. Since they are adapted to desert environments, they will need sandy-like soil that water can permeate easily. Potting soil mixed with some sand, crushed walnut shells, and even pebbles, will do fine. The key is to use ingredients that dry out, not that hold moisture. Be wary of compost, because it tends to be dense and heavy. Soil that does not allow enough airflow can suffocate plant roots. Succulents do not require fertilizer to grow, but it can’t hurt to sprinkle some slow-release fertilizer designed for cacti and succulents on and in the soil. Make sure that you do not over-fertilize!

Beware of succulents around small children and pets. Ingesting succulents could have varying effects on both humans and animals. They have developed certain defense mechanisms to protect themselves in the wild. For example, cacti grow sharp spines to keep from being eaten. Other succulents, such as aloe vera, are poisonous to pets because of a chemical, saponin.

In conclusion, succulent houseplants are fun friends to keep around all year long. They will purify air and increase oxygen levels in your home. By bringing home a succulent, you are adding some more wilderness to your lifestyle.

Top 10 Things You Didn’t Know About the Plot of Dracula

Book cover for Dracula by Bram Stoker shows a pale-skinned male staring at the camera

OK, I’ll start this off by saying that Dracula is an iconic book in the genre of Gothic Horror, but it’s also much weirder than people realize. Explaining the plot of Dracula sounds like someone lying about the plot of Dracula. So with that in mind, here’s a list of the top ten weirdest things about Dracula that I could think of. Also, major spoilers ahead, so if you want to read the book and be surprised, turn back now.

#1: Dracula is Not the Main Character

Despite being the title character, Dracula isn’t really the main focus of the story. He’s not even presented as really sympathetic in any way. He barely even shows up, except for the first few and last few chapters. The bulk of the plot actually revolves around a different vampire! The main character is actually Mina Harker, who is smarter than almost every male character in the book combined.

#2: Vampire Proximity Alarm

There are multiple characters who never seem to make it into adaptations, and one of those characters is Renfield. Renfield is an asylum patient that functions as a vampire proximity alarm since he gets steadily crazier the closer Dracula is. It’s also heavily implied that Dracula is the reason he went crazy in the first place.

#3: Defeated by Train Schedule

Dracula ends up getting caught by Van Helsing and has to flee London. He thinks he’s being very sneaky about this by heading back to Transylvania on a river boat, since vampires can’t cross running water. But he forgot that there are much faster modes of transportation. Mina already knew that he was going to Transylvania, and had memorized all London train schedules. Needless to say, Dracula was in for a nasty surprise when he finally reached his castle.

#4: The Psychic Wiretap

In order to escape London, Dracula establishes a psychic wiretap with Mina by force-feeding her some of his blood. However, as previously established, Dracula is an idiot, and he forgets that this psychic link goes both ways. So while he spies on Van Helsing and the Vampire Attack Team(That’s the fan name for the group of protagonists), Mina can also spy on him. Because she is now slightly psychic, she is able to figure out that Dracula left London by riverboat and use the train schedule to beat him to his destination.

#5: The Accents

Bram Stoker, having set his vampire novel in London, decided to include a more diverse cast and bring in more white characters that were not British. In order to really hammer in the point that these characters are not British, he decides to phonetically transcribe the accents of all the Transylvanian locals except for Dracula, Van Helsing, and Quincy Morris. This becomes a problem very quickly when you realize that phonetically transcribing accents is very, very difficult, and Bram Stoker was Irish. This means that he had never even met anyone with the accents he was trying to transcribe, and as a result some of the dialogue is near incomprehensible. Remember kids, when writing characters who are not from the same country as you, do your research. People will notice.

#6: The Boyfriend Squad

There’s a side character named Lucy Westenra, and unfortunately her character is only used as a narrative plot device to introduce and motivate male characters. According to the book, Lucy receives three marriage proposals in the same day, one from Sir Arthur Holmwood(a boring character with no motivations other than revenge after Lucy’s death), Dr. Seward(the character with ties to Van Helsing), and Quincy Morris(more on him later). These three characters all remain good friends with Lucy and each other after she chooses to marry Arthur, going on to give Lucy blood transfusions and save each other’s lives. Because they all had such close friendships with each other and Lucy, many fans of the book have dubbed them “The Boyfriend Squad” or “Lucy’s Boyfriend Squad.”

#7: The Straw Hat

Basically, Dracula has to flee London during the day, and he “disguises” himself /shields himself from the sun by wearing a really ratty straw hat that he found in the garbage. He also wears this hat without changing any other part of his appearance, so he’s still wearing his suit, cape and everything, but with a straw hat. Just one of the things I thought was funny.

#8: Dracula’s Alias

As we’ve already established, Dracula is an idiot. His big plot to invade London was “Buy Real Estate” and the name he used on the legal documents was “Count DeVille”. As in ” Count Devil”. Because almost everything he does is for the aesthetic, using this stupid play on words leads to him almost immediately being tracked down by Van Helsing and having to flee the country, which also fails. This man does not know the meaning of subtlety.

#9: There’s a Cowboy

Another character that never seems to show up in adaptations is one Quincy Morris. For unknown reasons Bram Stoker decided it would be fun to just throw a cowboy into his story about vampires, so now we have Quincy Morris. Quincy is the physical strength of the Vampire Attack Team, and also the only one who knows how to use a gun. He’s not good at using the gun, but he knows how to. He’s also one of the aforementioned characters with an accent. Half the time I don’t know what he’s saying because Bram Stoker, an Irishman who had clearly never met an American, decided that he definitely knew what slang terms cowboys used. Despite how nonsensical it is, deciphering his dialogue is very funny, especially when you try to read it out loud to people.

#10: The Cowboy stabs Dracula

Oh yeah, Quincy also stabs Dracula, being one of the two characters to kill Dracula. It’s the only time he’s actually useful to the plot, and he immediately dies afterwards, but it’s still one of my favorite moments in the book. You’d think that Dracula getting stabbed by a cowboy would be a kind of important detail to keep in adaptations, but no, Quincy isn’t even mentioned in most adaptations. If I seem overly annoyed by this, it’s because removing Quincy from the story also removes the comedy of the fact that, in the long run, Dracula is defeated by a female train fanatic and a cowboy with a knife.

August Lovelies Part 10

A woman's head is shown wearing a flower crown of yellow and white flowers.  Her hair is red and you do not see her face.

Winnie spent the rest of the day with the band getting to know everyone and their stories and beliefs.

They all were anti-war as well as anti-government.

“I just don’t trust none of them, especially the fuzz,” said Mary-Kim.

Louise and Dawn taught him how to make a flower crown. He played hacky-sack with Mary-Kim and Spacer. He discussed conspiracy theories with Matty. Time had flown and before he knew it he had stayed until evening.

“We’re about to perform” Dawn said, “tell me you’ll stay a little longer”

“I wouldn’t miss it” Winnie said

So he and other hippies gathered around a campfire that was started outside their van to watch the performance. Louise, Mary-Kim, and Matty began to harmonize “All You Need Is Love” Beatles cover, the song had recently come out but if he hadn’t already known that he could have never guessed that it wasn’t theirs. Louise and Mary sang with pain and hope. Matty sang to emphasize his sister’s voice while still providing a deep and smooth melody. The Elliots music created stories with each strum.

The August Lovelies were incredible.

Winnie spent his time the next month either at the office or with the band. Sheriff Wisor did keep up his promise with the occasional unsuccessful drug bust, never finding anything. When August Lovelies got gigs in local restaurants he would bring his Uncle and Dolly. They quickly became a hit around town.

The Lost Children by Carolyn Cohagan

Book cover of the Lost Children by Carolyn Cohagan shows a pale blue sky behind a purple castle. There are skinny leafless trees around the castle and three children standing in front of it.

Josephine is a 12 year old girl who is just looking for a friend. Her father, the cold and aloof Leopold Reginald Russing, made a mandate that everyone in her town has to wear gloves. At all times after he won a game of five-card stud against the mayor. A mysterious boy name Fargus appeared. Mute and very hungry. One day Fargus went missing and Josephine, scared that she might lose her only friend, chased after him and saw that he disappeared into her shed. The next minute she found herself falling until she finally landed…in the cellar of some strange orphanage called the Institute. She was no longer in her shed.

Josephine met Ida, Fargus’ fiery friend, after she was hauled in there by one of the mistresses, Kitchen Maggie. Ida tells her that she had thought Fargus was kidding when he told her that he met a new friend in a strange dimension. That’s when Josephine found out that she really wasn’t in her shed back home anymore.

Josephine finds herself in Gulm, a strange land where beasts called the Brothers roamed and was ruled with an iron fist by a little boy ominously named the Master. Ida, Fargus, and Josephine – not wanting to be left behind by her new friends – escaped the Institute, not wanting to be the Master’s next victims.

Along the journey, Josephine gets separated from Ida and Fargus by a seemingly harmless couple. With the help of Ned, the sweeper’s son, and his father Morgan, she learns that her status as a Russing holds weight and uses it as leverage to set up a meeting between her and the Master. With the help of her friends and the lost children of Gulm, Josephine defeats the Master and finds her way back home. Where there seems to be another secret that needs to be resolved.

I highly recommend this book if you want a light read filled with light-hearted mystery and fantasy elements.

The Shadows of Vellair, Part 1

A moonless night sky with dark reddish clouds
“Dark As Moonless Night” by Diana Fortvilelse is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

It was a pitch dark night. Wind came howling through my open window. It was so cold it froze my lips, and my breath came out as mist. It was a moonless night, the inky sky choked by thick clouds. I was dressed in a soft robe, huddling under the covers; yet I still was still freezing and shivering from cold and fear. I was apprehensive of forces I could not see, yet they were very real . . . and very dangerous. 

Vellair was a man who nobody had ever seen, yet his evil armies ravaged the land, bringing poverty, disease, destruction. So many people had died at the will of the shadow-men. Or at least, that is what my serious-faced parents called Vellair’s armies when they received word of a killing.

The wind flung my curtains to and fro. I nimbly jumped from my bed and closed my window. Normally, opening it helped me go to sleep, but tonight it only brought fear.

I peered out of my window. Fat drops of rain crashed down from the sky. A dense fog clouded the glass, but I could still make out approaching figures on the hill.

“The shadow-men,” I whispered. “They’re here.”

I blindly crashed out of my room, into the hallway, and flung myself into my parents’ room. 

I froze. Leaning over their bed was a figure wearing animal hide. It had skin dark as night. Its beady eyes were blazing red and it had long, gleaming fangs and claws, splayed out in the air over their heads. It hissed. My heart pounded out of my chest and my stomach heaved, but I willed myself to stay quiet.

My mother shot up with a yelp, shaking my father awake. My mother attempted to fling herself out of her bed, but the shadow-man threw an arm out, covering the both of them in ropes of black. Let them go, let them go! my heart screamed at the shadow-man, and it took every fiber of my being to stay quiet. Tears filled my eyes, but I swiped them away. Now was not the time for emotion. My parents screamed as the magic net floated up to the ceiling, but I couldn’t see them within the dark mass. As they struggled within the net, they howled in pain. It was obviously hurting them. A sob tore free from my splintered chest.

I knew I had done wrong when the shadow-man suddenly turned. Its red, slit-pupil eyes dilated. It grinned with pleasure, exposing several inches of its fangs. I gasped and started to dart out. In an instant, the shadow-man had its long, clawed fingers around my neck, pinning me to the wall. It smelled like rotting flesh. It was hard to breathe in this uncomfortable position, but not impossible. I gagged as I tried to push its hand off of me, but the creature’s grip was hard as iron. I kept struggling, gasping. “No. Please.” I begged. Take me instead. But I knew it wouldn’t be so easy. 

The shadow-man’s face grew impossibly darker as it did something that surprised me that such a grotesque creature could do: it spoke. A whispery, gurgly voice came from its mouth, forming the words, “Ii aamm Kkiikkoonnaa. Yyoouu mmuusstt oobbeeyy mmee.” At this moment, my parents’ screams went silent. Baring its fangs again, the creature hit me in the side of the head. The world dissolved into shadows.

Onward – A Movie Review

DVD cover of Disney Pixar's Onward shows two blue creatures sitting on top of a vehicle. The blue one on the left has a torch in hand, the one on the right is reading.

Onward is a 2020 Disney-Pixar movie centering around the Lightfoot brothers, Ian (Tom Holland) and Barley (Chris Pratt), as they journey through a suburban fantasy world on a quest to find the Phoenix Gem so they can fully reunite themselves with their dad for a single day. It’s a coming-of-age feel-good family movie that follows the generic formula, but overall is charming, entertaining, and insanely creative!

First of all, the plot! The plot here was probably the worst thing about the movie. That isn’t to say it was bad- just generic. Which, when you’re Pixar, is pretty low grade stuff. Pixar is famous for it’s storytelling, so to see it go for a more normal story is a bit meh. Again, the plot wasn’t bad -or even boring!- just predictable. For a movie all about being adventurous, the story wasn’t very. You just expect more when it’s from a studio as famous as Pixar, but that doesn’t mean it was bad by normal standards! The script was a lot of fun (plus some of the lines went surprisingly hard), and the story was still plenty heartwarming. I definitely enjoyed it, so don’t let this discourage you too much!

Now for the second best part of the movie: the characters! They are the lifeblood of this whole thing. Each and every single one of them is likable (except for the impatient karaoke girl, but that was intentional). The main brothers themselves are incredibly endearing and entertaining, with their brotherly relationship driving the movie. For once I approve of a celebrity voicing a character, because Chris Pratt was just perfect for Barley! I can’t imagine anyone else capturing him quite so perfectly, or getting me to like him as much as I did. Aside from the main two, the cast is just as much fun, especially their mom, Laurel (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), who is the focus of my favorite moment in the film (during the climax) and The Manticore (Octavia Spencer), who speaks to my soul as a restaurant employee and adventure-lover. Both ladies are awesome and their friendship was super entertaining.

The animation was great, as is expected of Pixar. The lighting was the aspect I focused the most on throughout the movie, but the whole movie looked really good. Their lighting engine was majorly upgraded while working on Coco and perfected for Toy Story 4. There weren’t many upgrades or noticeable changes in the animation technology, but it’s smooth enough to still amaze with the tools it already has. It gets an A from me!

Finally, a special shoutout to the sheer amount of creativity behind this film! It was truly what made me want to write a review for this movie, and, for me, the best part of it! From the set designs, to the dialogue, to the action sequences, and ESPECIALLY to the dragon fight near the end which I don’t want to spoil (I was blown away by how COOL that was, mainly the dragon’s design itself, and man that roar!), this movie was filled with unique ideas and new spins that play on what we’re used to seeing. There were SO MANY small details or background sequences that brought me so much delight, or little jokes in the script, like a police calling out “a 1-1-3” (A113, the CalArts joke). The setting was already a lot of fun, but the whole movie was chock full of clever ideas, which really brought the film to life.

Overall, I liked this movie! It’s a fun movie to watch together with your friends or family, which is what I did! At the time of my writing this, we are unable to go out to theaters, so it’s only available to stream on Disney+, or you can rent the DVD from the library. Streaming it for your friends and watching it on the couch with your family is always the best way to experience feel-good movies, and my recommended viewing method. May this film inspire the inner adventurer in you, and remind you of where the magic is still left in our world!

Going for a Ride

Inside a car, the driver is shown from over his shoulder with the camera focusing on the driver's left hand on the steering wheel

Sometimes, I just want to go for a ride. I don’t have a destination, I just want to get in the car and go. Its therapeutic for me. It allows me to think and remember, as I pass familiar places in my travels. I especially love to get out on the highway, where I can cruise down the road at ease, wondering where everybody else is going and where they are coming from.

If it’s not too cold out, I like to roll the windows down. The fresh air blowing through my hair, the music turned up, the speedometer hovering between 75 and 80 mph, that’s where I like to be.

I love to ride through the city, passing all the beautiful buildings and seeing all the factories with their chimneys puffing out steam. Its also nice to drive through the suburbs and into the countryside. It doesn’t matter where I go. I like to ride through the tunnels and over the bridges, around the bends and across the hills.

There is something nostalgic about going for a drive. Maybe its just knowing that it is something people have done for decades, or maybe its how it can connect a region, creating a closer community and making the world just a little smaller.

Its also good for your critical thinking skills, as you have to consider where you are and which direction you want to go. You do some reading, too, with all the road information signs and signals.

Going for a ride is just good all around. Whether you have had a long day and need some time to yourself, or if your family just decides to pile in the car and drive around town, it is an example of the better things in life.

Thor (2011)

The cover for the Thor DVD shows Chris Hemsworth in the titular role, kneeling on one knee with his hammer in hand.

Thor introduces the Norse god of thunder, Thor Odinson, for the fourth installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Cast:

Chris Hemsworth as Thor

Tom Hiddleston as Loki

Natalie Portman as Jane Foster

Idris Elba as Heimdall

Anthony Hopkins as Odin

Over a thousand years ago, Odin, king of Asgard, fought the Frost Giants to prevent them from conquering the nine realms. His Asgardian warriors defeat the Frost Giants in Tønsberg, Norway, and capture the source of their power called the Casket of Ancient Winters. They have a truce.

Cut to the present day, and Odin’s son, Thor, prepares to ascend the throne as the rightful heir. However, when the Frost Giants return for their Casket, Thor, his brother Loki, Sif, and the Warriors Three confront the Giant’s leader, Laufey…against Odin’s wishes.

Odin is forced to intervene in order to save the Asgardians, ending the truce between the Asgardians and the Frost Giants. Furious by Thor’s brutish actions, Odin strips Thor of his godly powers and exiles him to Earth with nothing but his hammer, Mjölnir except he can no longer lift it because he has no powers.

Thor winds up in New Mexico, where Dr. Jane Foster, Dr. Erik Selvig, and Darcy Lewis find him. After the locals discover Thor’s hammer, S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Phil Coulson takes possession of it AND Dr. Foster’s data about the wormhole that brought Thor to Earth. Thor finds his hammer, but can not lift is as his father placed a spell on it where only someone worthy can wield it.

Loki realized that he was the son of the Frost Giant king, Laufey and that Odin adopted him at the end of the war. He confronts Odin about it, and takes his throne when Odin enters a deep sleep. Loki then offers Laufey the chance to kill Odin, and retrieve his Casket. Sif and the Warriors Three don’t like this, and attempt to bring Thor back from Earth to stop Loki.

Loki sends the Destroyer after all of them. It’s only after the Destroyer defeats them all, and Thor sacrifices himself for the others that he proves himself worthy to wield Mjölnir. It restores Thor’s powers, and he defeats the Destroyer. Thor, Sif, and the Warriors Three then leave to take down Loki.

Back home, Loki kills Laufey, before Thor arrives to fight him. Odin wakes from his long sleep to prevent the two from falling into an abyss. However, Loki allows himself to fall into the abyss anyway after Odin rejects him. Thor and Odin make amends, but Thor isn’t ready to be the king of Asgard. Back on Earth, Dr. Foster tries to open a portal to Asgard.

In a post-credits scene, Dr. Erik Selvig is brought to a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility, where Nick Fury asks him to study a mysterious cube which Fury says may hold untold power. An invisible Loki uses a Jedi mind trick to force Selvig to agree to help. Hinting at Loki’s return in further films.