Dream to Worlds Beyond

At the Nerd Nite event, Bart (the host and MC), told us about a game that a previous speaker had just released. Called Extrasolar, it was a very odd concept. There is a private space exploration company that has sent rovers to a nearby extrasolar planet, and is crowd-sourcing the operation of these rovers to explore the planet as efficiently as possible. The game does not seem that exciting, since you basically send simple commands to your robot and wait for it to complete those commands and send you some data back. But then a hacker third-party unveils something possibly sinister behind the scenes.

Batman vs. Aliens

I am a sucker for a good story, so I signed up as soon as I got home. I’ve been playing pretty constantly, and there is definitely something great there. Although the game is entirely browser-based, there is a strong ARG sense. The game uses a lot of the same mechanics as Games of Nonchalance to really get its hooks into you. I do not want to give away too much, but I will just say that there is definitely great foreshadowing of a government conspiracy and intelligent alien life. The two may be connected, but I have not gotten that far yet.

I am going to head back into the game now, but I will leave you with this comic:

Calvin & Hobbes - Intelligent Life

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End of Time

Time Sphere

When Batman was “killed” by Darkseid, he was actually trapped in time. Using his infinite preparedness, he went to the end of time and, among other plans, built a time machine for his allies to reach him.

Over the weekend, some friends and I played with a time machine as well! We went to Japantown and tried Real Escape Game’s Real Escape Room v.2 – Escape from the Time Travel Lab.

Time Travel Lab flyer

This game was in the Real Escape Room format, similar to the Mysterious Room game we did a while back. A single team of 11 people is locked into a physical room, and we were given free reign to tear the room apart to find tools and clues to solve the puzzles and escape the room before we were all lost in space and time.

Without giving too much away, since the game is still in progress, I will just let you know that once again, we did not escape, but we got excruciatingly close.

Time Travel Lab

We had a wrong answer on the very last puzzle… the key to escape and victory was literally within our grasp and we were not able to hang on to it.

That said, I think that we made progress as a team. We were better at communicating and did find and solve the puzzles better in general. I would say our biggest problem with this particular game was a lack of time-management/foresight. The way the game is set up, the entire team has to move together between the primary and secondary rooms, and we took too many trips back and forth, which wasted time.

We are pretty pumped to tackle the next game, Escape from the Moon Base, which will be coming up in April and will follow the traditional Real Escape Game format.

This Is Not How Batman Dies

LEGO Batman

I saw The LEGO Movie over the weekend with some friends, and it was awesome!

(Expect this song to stuck in your head for days after seeing the movie.)

I had been excited to see it since I saw the first trailer. I grew up playing with LEGOs all the time, and it certainly did not hurt that the Batman minifig was featured in the trailer.

The movie itself was great. Fairly standard hero journey plot, very similar to The Matrix actually, but with tons of pop culture references and humor mixed in, just like the LEGO video games. I was a concerned that Will Arnett was the voice actor for Batman instead of Kevin Conroy, but it worked perfectly, because the Batman of the LEGO Movie was along the lines of Frank Miller’s Absolute Batman – a bit absurd and dickish. Arnett nailed it!

My friends kept joking that this was the best Batman movie, but I have to say, they are partly right. The LEGO basis allows him to be much more light-hearted and campy, and the interactions with the other members of LEGO Justice League were on point. I would not be surprised at all if I enjoyed this more than the upcoming Man of Steel 2/Batman-Superman movie. LEGO needs more feature films!

Batman vs. Food

Batlogo Sushi

For my friend Chris’s birthday, a group of our friends went to a local sushi restaurant and attempted the sushi challenge.

Bruce's Challenge

I mean, it’s a challenge from a guy named Bruce, so I have to try, right? After reading the description of the challenge, I felt pretty good walking into the restaurant. It took a while for Bruce to make six challenge plates for us. He actually did not have enough large plates and had to cut some of our rolls in half so we had two 9″ rolls instead of one 18″ monster. After all the plates came out, he also brought out a small digital kitchen timer for us to stare at while we ate, and it was time to go!

Sushi Friends

We all dug in, some people trying to fit whole slices into their mouth at a time (they were easily at least 3″ in diameter and 1/2″ thick each), while I split each slice into quarters and tried to make it more manageable. Around the 30 minute mark, Bruce came back to our table to check up on us. He told a bunch of my friends straight up that they were not going to make it and they might as well quit now. But he did say that Chris and I still had a good chance, and encouraged us to keep going!

Sadly, Chris and I could not carry the hopes of friends. We both ended up defeated as well.

Dishonor!

As a consolation prize, though, we all did get some ice cream on the house. We were all just talking about how full we were, but there is always room for ice cream! And Chris got tempura ice cream because it was his birthday.

Ice Cream

As we were leaving, we all talked about why we failed. Obviously, the main problem was volume. The description read four pounds, but we all felt like it was more than four when we had to take our “before” pictures with our full rolls. TJ weighed his leftovers the next day (he conveniently stopped at the halfway point), and we found that our rolls were closer to six pounds each!

Testing the leftovers

And while you may be thinking that we were ahead for two extra pounds of food, let me tell you now, that extra weight was pure sushi rice. Bruce packed the rice in hard, it was brick-like fresh, and you do not want to know what it was like after sitting in the fridge overnight. Also, they ran out of sushi rice in the middle of making our challenge rolls, so new rice was made, and it had extra rice vinegar, making each bite just a bit harder to swallow.

Not that Batman would ever make excuses, though. We all plan on going back and beating that challenge!

The Queen’s English

This week’s writing challenge is all about slang.

Slang, and linguistics in general, has been an interest of mine for a while. Growing up as a second-generation American, I learned pretty fast that accents shape perception. Watching My Fair Lady just solidified that theory. It is amazing to me that you can learn so much about a person’s background just by listening to their voice.

Batman is, of course, a master on this subject, and uses it to his advantage both when encountering others

and to disguise his own identity.

Batman Voice

On this blog, I try to write as properly as possible, striving to minimize the use of slang and even contractions. My friends will tell you that in person, I tend to use a lot more slang and cussing in my conversations. Some might say that I am disguising my real identity from my readers. I just see it as a compartmentalization of my life. Neither is the “real” me and neither is the “fake” me. I just have different faces I present in difference situations. I do not talk to my parents the same way I talk to my friends, and I do not write school papers the way I write on forums online. All of these aspects are still reflections of my identity, though.

Some people have a hard time wrapping their minds around this idea, and claim that kids today are ruining English with their txt spk and their urban dictionary‘ed vernacular. I feel there is no problem as long as they can accurately convey their ideas to the intended audience.

Green Batman

On my way to the gym yesterday, I spotted a black Honda CR-Z with a Batman emblem!

Bat-CRZ

(Wish I had a better picture, but I was a safe driver and did not take this shot until we both came to a stop light.)

I guess he needed an upgrade from the Bat-Fortwo I have mentioned before. The CR-Z does give him nearly double the horsepower (going from 70 to 122) as well as make him more gas efficient (assuming he got a CVT model and not the 6-speed manual). Props to Batman for going green!

Batman Can Breathe In Space

Breathe In Space

People joke about it now, but back in the day when Batman was more mythical and/or comic book readers did not care as much about realism, Batman was able to breathe in space. They explained it after-the-fact with Batman’s extreme training programs and the Justice League space station’s advanced technology, but there were definitely panels showing Batman in space with no protective head gear.

Back in the real world, though, things are a little more difficult. Christian Bale confided that his Batman costume was so restrictive that he would nearly faint just from not being able to breathe properly through his nose.

Personally, I grew up with severe allergies and fitful asthma. The asthma was diagnosis was later refined to be chronic bronchitis, but there was no practical difference. I was stilled tethered to my emergency-action inhaler.

Wheezy

Even though I have not had a full-on asthma attack in years, I still get very wheezy when I exert myself, often to the point where my running partners fear for my well-being. A big reason for my training mask purchase was to train my lungs and hopefully get over my handicap. Unfortunately, I have been slacking on the cardio training since I started weightlifting.

My friend and I went for my first run in a long time over the weekend. I did not wear the mask, and I was quite wheezy for the first 20 minutes or so. it was nice to establish a baseline, though, and I plan to do some running at least once a week from now on and really get some use out of that mask and build up my lung power. I am also considering trying to incorporate the mask into my weightlifting program. Not sure how effective that would be, though.