Fast Cars, Outrageous Clothes, and the Pursuit of a Destructive Lifestyle

… that is how I would like my life summed up, too.

Like I said when I got my new computer, the first game on my queue of years of Steam sales is Batman: Arkham Asylum.

Sadly, I am not getting as much play time as I would like. I’ve been purposely limiting myself to weekends only, and was too busy this last weekend to get any play in at all. It has been about three weeks, and I’m only about two-thirds of the way through the game. At this rate, it is going to take me forever to get through the trilogy.

Except it is now a tetralogy! Check out this awesome trailer for Batman: Arkham Knight!

This one will be made by Rocksteady again, who made Arkham Asylum and Arkham City. (Arkham Origins was made by WB Montreal.) The game will take place over a larger Gotham, and the streets themselves will be bigger to accommodate driving the Batmobile around!

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

Subversive Movement

Last night I went to another Nerd Nite event with my friend Chester.

Nerd Nite Feb 2014

This time, the topics were esports, staphylococcus aureus, and culture-jamming.

The first topic was pretty entertaining. It was about the rise of esports (professional video gaming) and the comparison to traditional (physical) sports. The speaker made the point that esports professionals want the same thing as traditional sports professionals, and work just as hard to “make it.” He started with this video clip:

Most people in the audience did not realize how impressive this was, so he broke it down for us. Because Daigo (Ken) starts the clip with such low health against Justin Wong (Chun Li), he plays somewhat cautiously and hits her just enough to fill up her Special bar. Then he baits her into using her special, which is a 17-move combo. The only way to take no damage from the attack is to perfect parry each hit of the combo, including that mid-air parry which leads into his combo that defeats her. Perfect parries require exact timing (only a few milliseconds of leeway). Much more impressive now, right?

The second topic was a bit scary. The speaker attempted to use a “warning bunny” to warn of upcoming graphic slides, but the system did not work very well, because more than half her slides were fairly gruesome. Luckily, the visual aids did not bother me. Rather, the information did. I had no idea that staph was so prevalent in our everyday lives. 20-30% of the US population are persistent (asymptomatic) carriers of staph, and another 30-50% are intermittent carriers. Staph is very commonly found on our skin, and only gets truly scary when it gets inside. But that could happen with any minor cut or abrasion!

The final speaker was very intriguing. He defined culture-jamming as “being cool” or “sticking it to the man” and could be anything, even something as simple as drawing a moustache on a poster. The thing was, back in the 1950s, the consequences for these “subversive” actions could be much more serious. This was the height of McCarthyism, and the “cool” folks could lose their jobs, property, or freedom for these little acts of rebellion. Keeping those risks in mind, the speaker focus on Jean Shepherd (of A Christmas Story fame) and his old radio show. One of the cooler projects he did was getting listeners to go into bookstores and request a fake book, I, Libertine. Back in those days, best-seller lists were ranked by demand as well as sales, so this non-book actually made it onto the New York Times Bestsellers!

All in all, we had fun and learned a little something new. I think we’re going to make this a regular thing.

Batcomputer – Enhance

I mentioned a while back that I was not planning on upgrading my computer for a while. That day has now come. When my parents came to visit for Christmas, my dad mentioned that he was interested in my MacBook, so I started looking around for a new computer.

BatComputer

My usage patterns have changed a lot over the last few years. I have not even turned my Dell workstation on in over a year, using my MacBook exclusively. However, all that usage was still in my bedroom, it was only because of performance differences.

I knew I wanted to go back to PCs. The Mac was nice for work and web-browsing, but I wanted to be able to play games again. The real question was whether I wanted a laptop or a desktop. In the end, I went with a desktop. It would be more customize-able now and more upgrade-able later. Plus, in sticking with my goal of a more active life, having it stay in my room is probably a good thing. I also thought about putting together the computer myself, like I have in the past when I wanted higher-end rigs, but I decided to go with a custom builder just because of convenience.

I went with Digital Storm and they did a great job. I got the computer yesterday and am in the process of deleting my porn moving my files over from the MacBook so I can give it to my dad. I have not had a chance to take advantage of the hardware yet, but am looking forward to a gaming marathon this weekend. First in the queue – Batman: Arkham Asylum!

Better late than never, right?

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!

The Batman Game

Big Basin Start

On Sunday, I met up with some Fitocracy folks for the first time to go on a hike at Big Basin State Park in Santa Cruz. As you can see, we had a superhero theme!

I was a bit concerned. (Some of the other Fitocrats from this group mentioned that their friends and family are often concerned for them when they mention they are going to meet some internet friends in the woods, but that was not an issue for me.) It has been a while since I have done an extended hike, and I was mostly worried about making it through OK. Especially since the organizer had not personally done the hike before, he had only looked it up on a website. (And the website warns that it is a difficult hike with a lot of elevation change.) Also, I am generally weaker/less fit than the average Fitocrat. And there’s my allergies and just weak lungs to consider.

So I was not too happy to see this warning sign as we set out:

Big Basin Warning

Seeing as the other Fitocrats were unfazed, and unwilling to give up when I saw children and elderly on the same trail, and I decided to tough it out. I am glad I did, because even though it was a challenging hike for me, the scenery was great. There were multiple waterfalls, and here is the biggest one:

Big Basin Falls

The company was also a lot of fun, and definitely a group I would want to hang out with again.

By the way, you may have noticed my poses in the “start” and “falls” pictures. In high school and college, I would play “the Batman game” with my friends. If you can make eye contact with someone while you hold the Batman pose with your hands on your face, you get to punch them. However, you can negate it by blocking with the Penguin pose of a monocle. Do not ask me the reasoning behind it – I am fairly certainly my friends just wanted an excuse to hit each other, and the nerdy aspect was just to get more people to play. Feel free to test your skills against me next time we see each other in person!

Tiny Silver Rectangles

It has been a while since I updated you guys on my Stamps from Elsewhere progress. I was actually flip-flopping for a long time about putting this post up, because I cannot think of a good way to write about it without spoiling the mission. I finally decided to put it up, for two reasons. First, the locations in question do seem to change, so even if I spoil some of the mission, you will still need to do the legwork. Second, and more importantly, this mission introduces some new people that I will be attempting more missions with.

As you may recall, Mission Three requires meeting up with a team of six people. I wrote to Kaidan about joining a team, and was assigned to one. We were given a paper with a disjointed map of the city with a couple of locations marked, a phone number, and some incoherent scribbles. The phone number was just a pre-recorded message about “activating the network.” Not sure where to start, we decided to just meet up at the first location. I was pretty nervous, but Carol, Dallis, Ivonne, Judy, and Winston definitely seemed like a cool bunch. They had also completed Missions One and Two, but not Four, and they had gone much further than I had in the Games of Nonchalance.

At the first location, we found some markings that revealed the locations that were missing from our map, but we had no idea what we were supposed to be doing. Since locations two and three were within walking distance, we decided to check those out too, in case there were more markings along the way. No such luck. However, at the third location, I noticed that there was a payphone, so on a whim, I called the phone number from the paper. Lo and behold, I did not get the same recorded message! Instead, the voice said something along the lines of “Testing network… missing… missing… three… missing… missing… missing…”

Excited, I told the others about the change and Winston went to the payphone at the second location and tried calling. Now, I heard “Testing network… missing… two… three… missing… missing… missing…” We got very excited at this point and started to form a plan. We got lunch at a nearby taqueria and split up all six locations between the six of us. I got the phone near Pier 31, so I caught a bus up to that area.

Unfortunately, this was the Eventpocalypse Weekend in San Francisco. There were multiple festivals going on as well as Fleet Week and America’s Cup racing, so Pier 31 was crazy packed.

Phone Booth

This picture does not do it justice. As I was taking this, the rails along the water to the left of the picture are packed with people watching the race. The street to the right of the picture is packed with people talking to the military recruiters there for Fleet Week. The Marines had two Hummers blasting music, the inflatable drill sergeant you see in the picture, and a pull-up bar set up for challengers (and hopefully new recruits) to come and win prizes. Oh, and the Blue Angels were buzzing us overhead!

At the pre-arranged time, I faithfully dropped my two quarters into the payphone and dialed, but I could not hear anything at all on the receiver. Luckily, my teammates later informed me that it was a success!