Monday, 30 June 2014

Whisper of the Dead - Xcape

Hello again,

It has been a while and I have been busy with quite a number of things but today, I'll like to talk about this interesting muggle concept that I was kindly invited to join.

It's called an escape room. I am sure many of you are aware of those point and click escape room games, the whole goal of the game is to find clues, solve puzzles and escape from the room, well, this is the same concept except, you're doing it for real.

I apologize for the lack of photos, we weren't allowed to bring cameras or phones or any such stuff in. We were basically entering the game, empty handed. I didn't even get to bring my wand.

So, the game that we chose was called the "Whisper of the Dead". You're trapped in Dr. Hachi's mansion and you'll have to overcome his tests in order to escape.

Initially, we were all quite confused at what we were supposed to do. We were led into a room and was briefed about the background of the place and about Dr. Hachi and were then locked in. I could remember the shocked look in all our faces and wondering if we were supposed to start.

With the initial shock gone, all of us proceeded to look around the room and figure out what were clues and what weren't related.
What the room looked like from the inside, photo on the right is taken from asiaone news.

As you can see, the room is narrow and there are many paintings on the wall, which does help engage the players and brings on a level of realism to the whole experience.

Now don't worry, I will not include any spoilers.

It was a really fun experience. A rather unique and alternative form of entertainment from the usual types of entertainment like movie watching, cafe going, shopping, bar hopping and many more.

Depending on the group of people that you are trapped with as well, it could be your group of friends or perhaps other strangers might be trapped in the room with you, but the ultimate goal is to work together to solve the codes and eventually getting out.

The puzzles were rather straight forward and for this particular room, you really need to be observant enough. Once the group of us were warmed up enough, we started to get into the puzzle solving zone and were able to crack many puzzles. The feeling when you input the correct code for the lock is such an exhilarating feeling. The moment the lock gets unlocked, the cheers and anticipation of the next section of the room are feelings that seemed to be shared among all of us. Those were the few moments that truly disregarded social standing, friends, strangers, wizards and muggles, the few moments that we were unified in one goal. Was a pretty good feeling really.

Time is also an issue. You are only given an hour to escape. If the time is up, you will be let out and well, you would have failed to escape so time management is essential. If you think that you can't solve the puzzle, you should utilize the hint card that is provided to you. You can use it twice so if you feel that you are really stuck and have no clue how to proceed, don't be obstinate, use it before you run out of time for the other rooms and thus ensuring that you'll get trapped forever, or until the game master comes in to let you out. It was a good thing too. I was about to apparate out of the room and risk exposing the existence of the wizarding world. I'm pretty sure that muggles aren't ready for something like that... Yet.

Come to think of it, this could be a really interesting concept to implement in the wizarding society. Granted, getting locked in a room might not be a challenge for wizarding folk but it could be designed for wizards. Creating anti-apparation spells, puzzles that requires certain knowledge of certain spells, real monsters and beasts, for those that want the adventure and the danger without really risking their lives. Or perhaps remove the wands entirely and force the wizards to think of solving the puzzles without magic. That could be interesting but alas, I'm too busy to be thinking about such lucrative business propositions, so whichever wizard out there thinks it's a good idea to do something like that, feel free to take my idea but don't forget to give me credit for being the one that gave you that spark.

All in all, this was a really interesting experience, challenges your brain and tests your logical thinking and puzzle solving skills without the help of online game guides. I would most likely go back to try out the other rooms that this company offers. For those of you who are interested, you can head to their website,, to check it out for yourselves. Also, I'm pretty sure for those of you who are in other countries and reading this, a search on the internet might reveal the existence of such an experience near you, or you could apparate here and try it for yourself.

As always, leave me a comment and let me know what you think, or just say hi!

Lord Severus

Thursday, 19 June 2014

World Cup 2014

Hello again,

I've noticed that the muggle world is filled with this thing called the world cup and I think it's similar to the quidditch world cup that we have in the wizarding world. It surprises me sometimes, how similar we are to the muggles.

Anyway, it's a sporting event, much like the quidditch world cup that brings together fans from all over the world, supporting their country or are fans of certain players thus supporting that particular country. The players play a sport called football in some countries and soccer in others but it doesn't seem to be as exciting as quidditch.

Well, for starters, the players chase around a single ball that doesn't move around like the snitch. There is a huge net for each team and a goal keeper that prevents the ball from getting in. It is rather interesting to see the muggles behaving so similarly to us wizarding folk and I have to say that I really should find sometime to sit down and watch a match. I have only been looking at those videos showing highlights of the different matches. I highly doubt that they have placed an anti-apparating spell on the event but my schedule is the problem. Perhaps I'll be able to figure out how to work this muggle technology and get to watch it on this muggle device. Any helpful suggestions?

I think it is an event, like the quidditch world cup, that brings different people from different backgrounds, from different places with different cultures and languages together. Everyone disregarding the troubles of the day, all focused on supporting their country or favorite team, cheering them on together, sharing in the disappointment and the euphoria from the goals being scored.

It really is interesting how these muggles react to one another, strangers hugging when their team has scored and the whining and complaining that ensues when their team has missed a shot or the opposite team has scored. I suppose, this is one of the few things that has to continue on to remind us, every once in a while, that we are essentially all the same when you take away things like culture and languages and countries.

A nice reminder that the wizarding world and the muggle world could co-exist.

As always, leave me a comment and let me know what you think, or just say hi!

Lord Severus

Hunger Games Series (book) - My thoughts

Hello again,

I have been recommended this book series by a couple of good muggle friends and have never had the time to read them but fret not, by writing this, I can officially say that I've read them. I'll try not to include any spoilers (a muggle term for exposing plots from the book that might affect the I-don't-know-what's-next feeling of reading) but I can't promise anything.

The muggles are making the movies too. I've seen the first two and well, I won't talk about them. Although, the final part of the book series is being split into two movies following in the steps of a couple other book to screen adaptations and the first part of the movie is coming out soon. I'm not entirely sure if it's a good idea considering my feelings after finishing the series but who knows.

What is the series about? Well, it is basically set in a world that separates the rich and powerful literally into cities or zones or districts (to use the word in the books), with the poorest on the outer most zone. The rich and powerful have gotten so bored of their lives that they are finding the excitement in the sport of killing. That's where the hunger games (yes, the name of the series) comes in. It is supposedly a yearly event that takes two people from each districts and force them to fight each other to the death in an arena specifically built for that particular year. That's right, it is like the Romans and their gladiators. Rich people who do not care about the lives of the lowly scum, drunk with the power of controlling another person's life, and how a girl who fights against the odds, trying to survive in a world that is so skewed and ultimately try to change her fate and the fate of those who are close to her.

Okay, on with my thoughts. I have to say up front that I'm not very fond of the ending of the series just because well, I felt quite cheated from it but in hindsight, I suppose, it was meant to push the character into a particular situation and a particular decision which must have been quite difficult for the author to decide.

I was left with a feeling of what-did-I-just-read and had stared at the last page of the book series for a relatively long period of time. I guess, if an author has managed to evoke such emotions from a reader, doesn't matter if it was a good emotion or a bad emotion, it's a good thing. It shows that the author has some flair in writing and had successfully engaged the reader, making the reader feel for the characters, wanting more out of the world, perhaps causing the reader to invest a real part of themselves into the world.

I like the idea of that world, some of the concepts and customs. It is an intriguing world with themes touching upon real world situations like the rich and the poor, the people who have power and the people who don't. It really allows the reader to stop and think about such stuff, at least to me. It really reminded me of the days when the pure blood families would flaunt their purity, claiming ownership over those who aren't pure blooded. Although there are still people like that in the wizarding world, many have accepted and have started to broaden their minds a bit.

The ending of that series just felt flat and rushed. It might have been the intention of the author to disorient the reader and thus evoke a deeper thought process, in which I'll applaud for that, but it somehow feels like the author just ran out of time and wrote that ending.

I am happy to receive other thoughts and theories that you might have as I am pretty sure there are people who disagrees with me and may the odds ever be in your favor.

As always, leave me a comment and let me know what you think, or just say hi!

Lord Severus

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, soundtrack performed live with full movie

Hello again,

I had the opportunity to go watch a wonderful orchestra playing the music from the genius that is Howard Shore while watching the accompanying movie and yes, I am aware that this entry is a few days, alright, many days late. I was busy with other stuff okay?

I have to say that this was a rather new experience, listening to the soundtrack of the movie being played live, simultaneously as the movie is playing. Needless to say, orchestra did a brilliant job although I have to say that I've spotted some mistakes here and there. Nothing serious though, after all, muggles and wizards alike, make mistakes.

The hall itself was really big and rather grand. Supposedly a brand new theater hall built right into a shopping mall, I was a little shocked to see that it wasn't a full house, considering the ease of access (it is beside a train station, a couple of minutes walk, tops), the many shops that are within the building, the look and feel of the place, not to mention how awesome it would be to hear the soundtrack of one of the best movies live.

The seats were rather comfortable, nicely cushioned, heavy so you don't feel like you need a lot of weight to keep the seat down and the spacing in between the seats were apart enough to not block the view of the person behind you. Although, if the person in front of you slants to the side, you might find your view partially blocked. I was seated rather far from the stage because it was an orchestra and not a play or musical and it really doesn't matter in my opinion.

My honest thoughts about this whole experience. We need to have something like that in the wizarding world. Sure, magic and all that can do this better, but we need to forget about what magic can do and appreciate how these muggles, without magic, are able to work around that and produce something so magical and amazing. Alright, I admit, I am a little bias, I love how muggles are able to function without magic, using these things called technology to make their lives better. It's fascinating.

I didn't manage to take a lot of these still photos as I was rather in awe of the place. The wide empty spaces, the high ceilings, I guess it wouldn't be this empty if it was a full house instead of a half filled show but these muggles were orderly and didn't seem to be as rowdy as you wizarding folk might think.

Although the event is over, I'm fairly certain that they will come back again next year, with part three of the movie series. I highly recommend this to muggles and wizarding folk alike. It doesn't matter if you aren't a fan of the movie or if you are, I believe you'll enjoy the experience if you're a music lover. The pieces by Howard Shore really does take a person on a journey through the wide grassy plains to the dense wooden forests to the cold dark caves to the fiery desolate lands of middle earth.

Perhaps, next year, I might be sharing the theater with those of you who decided to take the plunge and enjoy such a wonderful treat of the eyes and the ears.

As always, leave me a comment and let me know what you think, or just say hi!

Lord Severus