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Mr. Funtober

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There’s two days until the start of Real Escape Game‘s Escape from the Haunted House.

What is it? In video game speak, it’s an online narrative puzzle from the Escape the Room genre. You will find yourself in a locked room and must pickup items and information around the room to solve the puzzle and escape.

It is a race to see who can figure out the clues and escape the room first. The live main event costs $5 to play and starts at 13:00 GMT on July 24, 2012. That’s 8:00 AM EST according to my “don’t hold me accountable if I am wrong” conversion. You are advised to login at least ten minutes before the game begins. You may login up to one hour before the game if you wish. I would advise purchasing your ticket early if you are going to play. You’ll need to make sure that your computer meets the system requirements, as well as print out the answer sheet. The game also recommends a fully charged cell phone (or telephone) and pen/paper. There’s an hour time limit on the real game, so it is possible that you just won’t figure it out.

With that information in hand, I decided to give the free trial a spin. It puts you in a spooky, old room complete with eerie music and gives you a puzzle to solve to escape the room. The time limit on the free trial is just 15 minutes. Pen and paper in hand, let’s see how smart I am.

It was my first time playing a digital escape the room game. Here’s what I figured out:

You hover over objects with the mouse to examine or pick them up. There ended up being five objects around the room in the free trial, and I found them fairly fast. I also found the information that was needed to solve the puzzle pretty fast, too. But I made a big assumption about the game, which turned out to be false. That led me to spend most of the game looking around the room for the final piece of the puzzle. With about two minutes to go, I realized that there was no more information in the room. I put the clues together, unlocked the door (it had a five digit combination), and escaped with about a minute to spare. WHEW!

When I saw the first news story about this online game, I was a bit skeptical. I wasn’t sure that it would be any fun. But after doing the free trial, I think I’m hooked. I’d love to know how I do against the rest of the world and I definitely want bragging rights!

You can play the free trial and join me at http://regame.jp/ticket/en/.

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Postponed a day due to Tropical Storm Isaac, the GOP hosts the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida starting tomorrow. It concludes August 30th. This post isn’t the start of some strange personal political rant on my part. There’s two reasons that it’s an appropriate topic to mention here at Funtober.

First, the vote for the Presidential election happens on November 4th. So a lot of campaigning happens during the month of October. It will dominate television news coverage and advertisements. All three Presidential debates and the one Vice Presidential debate happen in the month of October. You can get the schedule at Debates.org if you are interested. So, like sports, I can’t ignore it since it will be such a huge part of October every four years.

Second, in a Presidential election year, like this one, lots of people will choose their Halloween costume based on their preferred candidate. Political costumes are so popular that Spirit Halloween puts out a Presidential Index that it claims to be a better predictor of the people’s choice for President than polls by major newspapers. With recent polls showing a pretty close election, I expect that you’ll definitely see Democrats out in the Barack Obama mask and Republicans wearing a Mitt Romney mask. In 2008, Barack Obama and Sarah Palin were incredibly popular politician costumes

And, yes, Funtober will be selling masks for both presidential candidates so that you can dress up as your favorite this Halloween.

Mitt Romney buys pie in Ashland today

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Hip Hop dance group Academy of Villains from San Francisco killed it on August 15th in a spooky performance set to Bohemian Rhapsody on America’s Got Talent in order to reach the semifinals. Here’s a brief clip:

I’m sorry I missed it the first time around. I used to watch American Idol back when it first came out, of course, but it has been quite a while since I’ve tuned in to a vote for your favorite contestant show on television. I’ve got my DVR set on Tuesday night for the next two weeks for the semifinals of AGT. I can’t wait to see what Academy of Villains comes up with this time!

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I discovered Emma Rae’s Halloween site this summer as I was researching Halloween content for Funtober and put it on my list of websites to mention. So when Emma contacted me to ask if she could do a guest post about an upcoming zombie run, I agreed. I hope you enjoy it. Here’s Emma:

Three Active Halloween 2012 Events to Work Off That Candy

The deliciously fun and freaky Halloween holiday brings the promise of costumes, decorations, and lots and lots of candy. According to an October 2011 article in the Huffington Post, “the average American household spends $44 a year on Halloween candy” and “the average American eats 24 pounds of candy a year, and most of that is likely consumed right around this time.”

Oh my. Kind of makes you think twice before reaching for that bowl of funsize Snickers and candy corn, doesn’t it?

Bearing that in mind, there are a few great Halloween events coming up this year to get you moving that will make for a healthier holiday. So put down the candy bowl, sign yourself up, and get out there and move!

1. Run for Your Lives

For 3.1 miles of obstacles, thrills, and evasion of zombie invasion, sign yourself up for the Run For Your Lives 5K race. You get a belt with flags that represent your lives, which the zombies will try to steal from you. If the zombies take all your flags, you guessed it–zombies win. But don’t worry; there are health bonuses hidden throughout the course that you can find to help you make it to the finish line alive. You can be a runner or a zombie or a volunteer, but no matter what you end up as, undead or alive, there’s a great apocalyptic party at the end of the race. Find more information at http://runforyourlives.com.

2. Thrill the World

Pay homage to one of the greatest artists of all time and get some sweet moves to dazzle and amaze your friends by participating in Thrill the World, “an annual worldwide simultaneous dance of Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’”, that has taken place every October since 2006. Thrill the World 2012 will take place on Saturday, October 27th at 7 pm GMT. If there isn’t an event near you, you can organize your own! Be a part of a world record-setting event and dance off some of those calories that come with this time of year. Find tutorial videos and event listings on their website, http://thrilltheworld.com.

3. A Halloween Run Near You

Communities throughout the nation host races of varying lengths—5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons, full marathons—in October where all sorts of ghouls and creatures and characters can be seen running the course in full costumed glory. Or, if costume races aren’t your thing, you can get down and dirty with a mud run/obstacle course. After all, you’re never too old to play in the dirt. Check your community newspaper and online calendar of community events for an event near you.

While you might be tired and winded after participating in one of these activities, you’ll certainly feel better about yourself than if you stayed home and ate all that candy. Get a fun change of pace this Halloween with one of these active events.

Emma Rae Curtis is a costume, makeup and accessories expert that loves Halloween. If you enjoyed this guest post, you can follow her on her website, Twitter and Pinterest.


Photo by mebrett.

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It’s been a few weeks since my post on August 7th about how fall foliage might peak early. I’ve seen the discussion repeated in a number of newspapers over the course of August. So here’s some links to articles with information from experts around the country for those of you planning a fall foliage trip:

New England – Jim Salge, photographer and former meteorologist at the Mount Washington Observatory.
Maine – Gale Ross, spokesperson for the Maine Department of Conservation.
Colorado – Jim Kravitz, director of naturalist programs at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies.
North Carolina – Kathy Mathews, associate professor of biology specializing in plant systematics at Western Carolina University.

Photo by ForestWander.

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So I had my first Lowenbrau Original last Sunday. After I bought the Munich beer last month, I plunged into work on Funtober and never got a chance to enjoy it. Seriously. Zero. I blame it on my parents.

In my twenties, I would tell people that I didn’t like beer. It was the truth. Given the choice, I would always choose wine or liquor. But it really was that I didn’t know anything about beer. My only real introduction to beer had been drinking Miller Lite. It wasn’t until I moved to Philadelphia five years ago that I realized I was surrounded by craft beer snobs and I had better learn something about beer. So I set about trying more of it to figure out what I liked. And now I appreciate it much more. My beer knowledge is still woefully inadequate. Probably always will be. But I’m learning. And laughing about it. I think that’s the point: I’m having fun.

I popped my head in to my local beer distributor this weekend as I was walking home from the grocery store and took a look at a few cases of fall seasonals that they had on the shelves. I knew then that I had to start trying the beer that I bought. I figured that I could no longer use the fact that it was summer to stop me from drinking the beer in my refrigerator. And I was a bit worried that if I didn’t get started now, it would be November or December and I’d be laughing about the missed opportunity. So:

As I’m sure you know, Lowenbrau is one of the Munich breweries that pours at Oktoberfest. It started serving at Oktoberfest in 1810 and its beer is still brewed according to the Reinheitsgebot. It was brought to the United States through a licensing deal with Miller for some time. But it is now brewed by Lowenbrau again and imported from Germany into the United States. Of course, Lowenbrau is now owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev. It’s not quite the same as the Lowenbrau Oktoberfest. But that’s really neither here nor there. Because you can enjoy a good beer in a variety of situations.

The real question is whether I enjoyed my Helles. And I did. It wasn’t the best beer that I’ve ever had. I doubt I’ll buy it again. But I finished it quickly. So that’s two thumbs up. Since my beer review / tasting post is lacking the typical lingo of a beer drinker, I figured I would link to some more professional reviews of Lowenbrau Original. And also link to some guys with the funniest semi-serious video review of Lowenbrau Original that I could find:

I need to meet some beer bloggers here in Philadelphia. So that they can show me how to do a proper beer review. And also pour the beer into my mug properly. Ahhh. The joys of my first beer review. I can’t wait until it comes time to play bartender and make some Halloween drinks. If there is a beer blogger that would like to guest post in the meantime and save the world from this misery, send me an email. In that case, I’ll still drink the beer. You just won’t have to listen to me talk about it.

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Look what followed me home from the grocery store. The Best of Martha Stewart: Halloween Handbook. More than 150 enchanting ideas for costumes, decor, tricks and treats. It cost me a pocket emptying $9.95 at Whole Foods.

I think a giant conspiracy led me to buy it. First, my mom handed me a copy of Halloween: Food & Fun from Best Recipes last weekend.

Then, I came across a post about Halloween with Matthew Mead. So when I spotted the Martha Stewart handbook, I couldn’t resist.

Here’s my quick question for Martha Stewart before I get on with the post: Did you recycle the book completely from 2010? I realized it when I searched for Halloween Handbook while researching this post. Same cover photo. Same number of ideas listed. Some of the tutorials from the 2010 edition look eerily similar. And … just went to the URL listed in my version for the templates and it forwards me to the 2010 version of the templates. Oh, Martha! The letter from you says that it is “reprinted”. I can’t be sure, because I don’t own that copy, but I’m now curious how other people would feel if they bought what they thought was a recent publication when it turned out it might be previously recycled ideas. I honestly wouldn’t have bought it if I suspected it wasn’t all new this year. It looks like past issues have always been unique.

Anyway … Moving along …

There will be a ton of Halloween craft posts on the web in October. In fact, they’ve already started. While I plan to bring you tutorials for some Halloween crafts here, I’ll also link out to worthy posts from others. So here are some to get you started in case you are itching to go:

Heaps of Halloween Ideas – PaperVine
Halloween Wreaths Roundup – One Pretty Thing
Beware Halloween Banner – Crafts Unleashed
21 Halloween Party Favor Ideas on HGTV – The TomKat Studio
Fall Think Of You Card – Kittie Kraft

Enjoy!

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I haven’t done much with sports here at Funtober yet. But it is a HUGE part of Fall. October is the heart of the college and NFL football season. AND October contains the Major League Baseball playoffs as well. While I won’t be able to cover these sports to the extent that I would like this year, I expect that sports coverage will pick up in future years. It will never be ESPN. But there’s no way that I can focus on fall fun and completely ignore sports.

The next week will be a pretty big football week for me. It starts tonight with my fantasy football draft. I’ve got the first pick. SWEET!

Although college football starts tonight too, it’s Saturday’s Michigan vs. Alabama game at Dallas Cowboys Stadium that I’m excited about. Both teams are ranked in the top 10 in preseason polls and they go head to head in the first week! Oh. Did I mention that I went to law school at the University of Michigan? GO BLUE! It will definitely be a tough game for the Wolverines, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be rooting for the Maize & Blue.

Michigan Football on any Saturday

The NFL Football season starts Wednesday, September 5th. The defending champion N.Y. Giants play divisional rival Dallas Cowboys. I still can’t believe that Eli Manning has two Super Bowl rings.

Thread the Needle

We’ll have four weekends of football in October. So I ask you: Are you ready for some football?

I know that Fall technically starts September 22nd. But I don’t think anyone will arrest us for celebrating fall a little bit early this year. Labor Day weekend really does feel like the start of Fall. And the calendar has turned from August to September.

Let’s look at what’s happening this weekend:

Halloween Costumes!!

Thanks to some good timing from my favorite on scene correspondent, she walked into the Spirit Halloween store in Wynnewood, PA on opening day and took a few pictures.

Full of Halloween costumes:

And some sort of haunted house decoration:

Oktoberfest

Here’s what’s on tap this weekend!

Oktoberfest in the Park at Choctaw Creek Park in Oklahoma
Cleveland Labor Day Oktoberfest in Ohio
Beaver Creek Oktoberfest in Colorado
Cannstatter Volkfest / Oktoberfest in Philadelphia, PA


Men celebrating Oktoberfest in Oklahoma.

Labor Day

Monday is Labor Day. That’s the holiday that is “dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers”, according to the United States Department of Labor. So enjoy it! It’s been celebrated since the first Labor Day in New York City on Tuesday, September 5, 1882. In 1884, it was moved to the first Monday in September. Congress declared Labor Day a national holiday in 1894.

I will only partially observe Labor Day this weekend. I’ll be off from my day job (for the first time in years), but will have a ton of work here at Funtober that will keep me busy.

Enjoy your weekend!

I started Funtober in part to give myself a great excuse to participate in more fall fun. I work way too hard not to take more breaks and enjoy life. Yesterday, I took a break from building Funtober to attend the Arden Fair in Delaware. But there was plenty that I thought you would be interested in seeing.

Started off the day with some bratwurst and beer but forget to take a picture of it for you. Then wandered around the craft vendors and antiques where I founded these super cute painted signs for only $10. If you want one, I grabbed her business card so that I could pass along her contact information.

There was a lot of other Halloween merchandise for sale. Vintage Halloween postcards and decorations, a talking skeleton and plenty of pumpkin items. I’m going to be in serious trouble this October as I really wanted to buy all of it. I had to resist though as it wouldn’t have been any fun to spend all day carrying it around.

Although it was a fairly nice day, it did turn out a bit hot after spending all day in the sun. But we cooled down with some shaved ice and found a vendor who was selling pumpkin ice cream. I was pretty disappointed that they were sold out of waffle cones but it was much easier to photograph with an ice cream cone that had a flat bottom.

When we left, we stopped to check out the supply of oktoberfest and pumpkin beer. They had their shelves stocked with the fall seasonals so I picked up some to try:

You’ll get to see the reviews of them here as I drink them. Overall, it was a fun time and I’m starting to plan my schedule for October already!