Allow me to open with a confession. I’m a huge fan of modern combat. Guns, bullets, and things that go boom. While Jerry Bruckheimer is not my god, he is more than mortal, in the same class as John Woo and Steven Spielberg. So it is with fanboy-ish glee that I present our next feature: Paintball!

Background: Basically, a game of tag with guns. You get hit, you’re out. It’s that simple. You can play individually or in teams, in either indoor or outdoor arenas. The playing field is littered with obstacles where you can take shelter (see above pic). The “guns” you’ll be using are called paintball markers, loaded with paint-filled pellets that break apart upon impact and “mark” the impact point. Safety equipment is composed of a mask, gloves, and sometimes a vest.

Why it’s fun: Competition at its finest. You have to have speed, cunning, and a steady aim to beat your opponent. Add in the team aspect, and the challenge ramps up considerably! Recreating your favorite action flicks, while enjoyable, is an incidental thrill. Note: Yelling “COVER ME!” or “FORWARD!” through a mask will only confuse your teammates. Hand signs are better–and much cooler.

What you need: Access to a paintball arena. Most will have all the equipment ready for rent, and ammo for sale. Just remember to wear old or sturdy clothing. The paint is water soluble, but your clothes (and you) are gonna take a lot of punishment. Those who want to get serious will have to buy masks first of all (hygiene) and then paint markers.

Oh, and bring plenty of friends!

Suggested for: Military fanboys. People who try to intimidate their reflections in the bedroom mirror. Anyone who’s seen an action movie. Those who can stand the odd bruise or ten.

Not for: People who don’t like guns. Or being hit by guns (well, paint pellets). Or people who don’t know when to stop shooting after the opposition gets tagged (Ramon I’m talking to you).


Turn the Page: World War Z

Halloween is fast approaching, and it’s time to get into the ooga-booga mood! Curl up in a quiet room with a spine-chilling book, and let your imagination horrify you! As it so happens, I have a great book for you to test your nerve!



Zombies have been a long-time horror staple, and have only gotten more popular as time passes. George Romero’s Living Dead films brought audiences both gore-induced chills and subtle social commentary. Max Brooks does the same thing with World War Z, only on a much grander, world-encompassing scale (hence the title).

This is, as all works of zombie fiction are, a survival story. But this isn’t just the survival of a person, or a group, or a town, or even a country. All of these are included, but span every corner of the globe (even Antarctica). It is written in the fashion of an oral history, with a fictional journalist recording accounts of survivors. There are stories of doctors, soldiers, and politicians, but they are also all victims. Some people might not find the oral history format appealing, but I find it allows for a greater level of connection with the characters, and allows the story to cover different parts of the world in a logical fashion.

I was amazed by the level of research and thought that went into the fictional zombie apocalypse, and how they would be affected by real-world situations, cultures and technology. The spread of Solanum (the zombie virus), the effectiveness of bombs and modern military doctrine, and even “quislings” – people so traumatized by the crisis they pretend to be zombies themselves – all have been seriously considered as part of the rich, bloody world Max Brooks has brought shuffling forth.

If there’s one gripe I have, it’s at the end (no spoilers, don’t fret). For his conclusion, Max Brooks chooses to revisit some of the earlier characters for their closing statements. By itself, I have no problem with that, but I had trouble telling who was who. After a couple of read-throughs I did eventually figure it out, but it broke the momentum of what would’ve been a grand yet bittersweet conclusion.

Still, you’ve got gore, guns, and genocide by zombie bite. This is a great Halloween book for any day of the year!

If you can’t stand the heat…


Cooking is this week’s feature! The hobby with the most drool for your buck! Get your oven mitts ready, this one is hot!

Background: This was once thought to be the exclusive domain of restaurateurs and mothers. Now (to quote a great Pixar movie), everyone can cook! Not everyone will be good, but you get the idea. Cooking can be just as fun as eating! The variety of flavors and ingredients means recipes will never be boring – and more recipes are being created every day!

Why it’s fun: The precise mastery of cooking skills: chopping, slicing, fileting, deboning, etc. (see Japanese cooking for extreme examples). The artistry of food presentation. The creativity of cooking without a recipe. And of course, eating your creations!

What you need: At it’s most basic, you need food ingredients and an idea of how you want the meal taste. If done with some flair, even making a sandwich or a lunchbox is fun. Recipes are optional. Wing it! Stoves, knives, pots, pans, etc. are also required for more substantial meals. Your parents are a handy resource if you want to learn. 🙂

Suggested for: Food lovers everywhere. Ability is optional, but eat what you cook. Have mercy on others.

Not for: Those who’d rather eat. If you don’t want to, don’t force yourself. Grumpy+chef=bad+food. Ask any cook!