Brick By Brick

When I was a wee lad, and even when I was a not-so-wee lad, I loved playing with LEGOs. I spent hours building and re-building playsets, pitting pirates against spacemen and knights against cowboys. It was mainly pirates against everyone else, though, because I frigging loved LEGO pirates.

As I grew older, I drifted away from LEGOs. Teenage hormones and that kind of thing. It was odd being a teenage nerd, and it’s hard enough being either of those things individually. It was some time in college that I rediscovered my old blocky friends, but the LEGO landscape had changed.

Most LEGO playsets were themed, based around the pop culture craze du jour like Harry Potter or the Spider-Man films. My precious pirates were nowhere to be found. And then there was the price. When did those little guys get so expensive?! It seems LEGO and I were destined to part ways there.

But we weren’t quite done. LEGO continued to fade in and out of the background, notably with a few video games that were also based on pop culture properties. Then, last year (or I guess it’s two years ago now…I’ll get used to that new year by mid-March), they took center stage with The LEGO Movie, which was awesome (then again, isn’t everything?) and were all the rage again.

My interest was piqued again, but the prices. Oh, those prices. Until last week, when I stumbled upon this guy here from the upcoming Batman v Superman:


Yes, I know I just complained about pop culture LEGOs just a few paragraphs ago. But look at that image again. Superman, Batman (badass armored Batman no less) and a Bat Signal. All in one little playset that’s at a pretty reasonable price. How could I pass up a LEGO Bat Signal? Oh, right, I couldn’t. Thus the start of 2016 saw me reunited with an old hobby, albeit in a slightly new form.

And it’s one I’ll be revisiting again I’m sure, given that 3 LEGO stores have opened up here over the past 6 months. They also have pirates playsets again. Pirates! And they’re not that expensive either! Granted, when you buy multiple inexpensive items it does add up to a considerable expense, and I can hear my wallet sobbing quietly, but it doesn’t matter.

Because I have a Bat Signal to build. And I look forward to the day when that shining beacon of justice will be assaulted by a band of roving buccaneers.


Free Time

I’m busy playing Batman: Arkham Knight nowadays, zooming across Gotham City in the Batmobile and trying to clean up the streets. One of the many missions in the game, which has been consistent in all the games in the Arkham series, is completing a series of challenges set by the dastardly Riddler, which involves solving puzzles and riddles strewn across the city. This was one of my favorite parts from the previous games, as it gave me a break from punching miscreants (which, let me be clear, is just SO fun) to exercise my thinking parts.

In Arkham Knight, I’m finding these puzzles to be a source of endless frustration. Every time I get stuck on a puzzle, I gnash my teeth and move onto the next one instead of puzzling it out. I’ve occasionally found myself cursing at my television or furrowing my brows in confusion. Now granted, some of the puzzles are pretty challenging, but that’s the fun part! So why am I getting bent out of shape over this when I’ve enjoyed it so much in the past?

I was thinking about that this morning (because, really, is there a wrong time to be thinking about Batman?) and it occurred to me that when I played the previous three games in the series, I was unemployed. The first game, Arkham Asylum, came out in 2009, a few months after I had finished my Master’s Degree and was on the lookout for gainful employment. The second, Arkham City, was released half a year after I’d lost my first job and was too burned out to find another. When the third game, Arkham Origins came out, I was headed toward my third straight year of unemployment.

Playing video games was my full-time job then.

I had all the time in the world to play through everything and solve every puzzle. Stuck? No problem. I could just play for another 4 hours and figure it out. There was nowhere else to go and nothing else to do.

But now? I limit myself to an hour of gaming per day, and some days I just can’t even fit that into my schedule. So if I get stuck on a puzzle, that means I might have to do that same puzzle again the next time I play, and maybe the time after that. I can’t take my time with solving it because I need (well..want) to fit in as much as I can into that one hour.

My frustration isn’t so much with the game as it is with the fact that I just don’t have as much time to devote to it any more. And it’s not the only hobby that’s been shortchanged since I started working.  One of the trade-offs of being employed, I suppose.

The Hero We Deserve

It occurred to me in a conversation with my brother yesterday that for the past week or so, I’ve devoted all of my spare time (in the evenings, mainly) to playing Batman: Arkham Knight.

I’m working in an office as a food writer by day and gliding off rooftops to beat up criminals (virtually) by night.

So basically, I…I am Batman.

This is it.

I’ve done it.

No achievement in my life can top this. I’ve become Batman.


I wonder why my boss is calling building security. Is there villainy afoot?

I’d better go with them and check it out…


I’ve always fit the definition of what you might call a ‘nerd’.

Math and the sciences were among my favorite subjects in high school, I was basically a teacher’s pet in my English classes, and it was probably easier to teach a fish to tap dance than to teach me any sort of sporting activity. It didn’t help that my older brother was a bit of a sports superstar, something various relatives never hesitated to remind me of, and which only pushed me further away from the ballpark. I’d much rather have my nose buried in a book.

Like any kid, I loved me my cartoons. Adulthood has done little to change my opinion of them, even if the spooky mysteries of Scooby Doo are laughable for the wrong reasons now. At some point, I discovered the world of comic books. I’m not entirely sure what led me down that path, but there I was. They were fun to read and a good way to pass the time; I never expected them to become a lifelong hobby.

As a child, I remember walking into my brother’s room as he and his friends were watching Batman (the Tim Burton film). It was near the climax, and I just remember this eerie looking guy in a black bat mask and outfit fighting a purple-suited clown. I was hooked right away. That image remained mostly forgotten until Batman Returns came out, and I was intrigued to find out more about this ‘Batman’ guy. He seemed quite alright.

My childhood love of fairy tales (I never got tired of reading Jack and the Beanstalk) instilled in me a lifelong love of the fantastical and the surreal, and set me on the path to being a sci-fi and fantasy junkie. I was glued to the TV on many an afternoon watching Star Trek and Lost in Space, and though I haven’t watched Star Wars (what?!), I’m very familiar with Star Wars trivia, almost as much as any diehard fan.

These were the foundations of my formative years. But, as I discovered growing up, such pursuits were looked down upon by the cool kids. Science fiction, fantasy, comic books. These were the domain of nerds and geeks, the weirdos that nobody invites to parties. Nobody wants to be a pariah, so I downplayed my interests to try and fit in. During early adulthood, I let the mask slip a bit, letting people know my interests, but I still kept it quite low-key.

However, I think it’s time to accept who I am now, Earlier this year, I attended my very first comic convention, the Middle East Comic Con 2015, and I was thrilled! It’s the kind of thing I would have shied away from in the past for seeming too nerdy, but it’s time to let that banner fly proudly. I’m no longer in the business of trying to impress people by putting on a ‘respectable’ front.

This, for example, is what my closet currently looks like:


Yep. About three quarters of a shelf dedicated to clothes, and the rest for my assorted action figures and memorabilia. There are a few bookshelves around the house that are also guarded by my toys. I’ve got a long list of video games I intend to play this year (such as Arkham Knight, coming out Tuesday!), and there are many more collectibles that will take up more space than I can hope to provide right now.

That’s me, in a nutshell.

Thursday Scribbles: The Signal

The Signal

There’s not a whole lot to say about this picture. It’s a Batman-inspired piece (a phrase you’ll become familiar with on Thursday Scribbles), but a little different from ones I’ve done before.

I have old sketchbooks laying around filled with various renditions of Batman and the madmen and monsters that plague Gotham City. For this one, I wanted to focus a bit more on one of his allies, and the city itself. Batman gets reduced to a symbol, still making his presence felt despite not being there. He’s probably just outside the edges of the image, swinging or gliding his way to the rooftop to find out about the latest nefarious activities in the city.