December 28, 2020

Burn, Baby, Burn.

When Grandma City passed on I inherited her Christmas decorations. She was the crafty one of the my two grandmothers and I always enjoyed the way she decorated for Christmas. She’s the one that showed me how to change the bulb inside the reflector of one of those midget Christmas lights we had in the 1970s. Don’t mix up the voltages.

Part of her Christmas collection included these carolers. It’s a set of four of them. One of them has Little Orphan Annie eyes, but they’ve held their own for half a century.

If you look closely, you’ll notice they are candles. Yes, these caroling children are candles and have wicks coming out of the top of their head. Which makes me wonder, did people really light these children on fire as candles? Were the carolers set ablaze in some households, the cherubic singing faces melting into a puddle of multicolored wax?

Obviously Grandma City couldn’t bring herself to set these carolers on fire, hence they’re intact over 50 years later. But someone in the 1950s or 1960s had a really weird sense of humor.

Beat Saber.

This is not me. GIF courtesy of Giphy.

You would think a big dork like me would be all about the video games. The truth of the matter is, my age and affinity for retrocomputing lends its love to the likes of the Atari 2600 games Super Breakout, Astroblast, and Centipede. I’m not one to jump into games like Command and Conquer or whatever the latest shoot ’em dead game is these days. As far as gaming computers go, while we’ve had and Xbox and Wii in the relatively near past, I’m not huge into gaming.

We bought Oculus Quest 2s a month or two ago and I’ve become addicted to Beat Saber. I love the whole VR experience when it comes to gaming, but I still don’t want to shoot things. I’m happy just smashing blocks flying at me with lightsabers that I swing around. It’s the closest thing to Super Breakout that I’ll probably find in the 21st century.

If you’re not familiar with Beat Saber, it works like this. Blocks are coming at you in time to the music track that’s playing. You hit the blocks with the appropriate lightsaber in time with the music. The more accurate and definitive the hit, the more points you score. The tracks I’ve been playing have several different levels of difficulty. I’m up to “Hard” (three out of five) on most of them. I’ve tried “Expert” a couple of times (it’s the fourth level) and I usually fail about a third of the way into the track. I need to get more practice.

Unlike the days of the Atari 2600, playing Beat Saber with the Oculus Quest 2 is the best cardio workout I’ve had in the house in years. My arms are consistently sore from the excursion of anywhere between 30 to 90 minutes. I sweat like a crazy man, usually soaking the foam padding on the Oculus (once of the reason we bought two). The game is also fun for the whole family; we play across the miles courtesy of our broadband connection.

I’m sure the neighbors are watching through our balcony windows as we thrash around the living room (Earl) and bedroom (me), swinging at colorful blocks they can’t see. I don’t care. I love the immersive experience of Beat Saber and if I’m getting a decent amount of exercise thrashing my arms around in the air I’m happy with it.