Hidden Passageways

Have you always wanted to build that secret hiding place, meeting room, or dungeon, but can’t afford the maniacal henchmen builders?  Tired of wasting precious turns with uncertain dice-rolling, just to get from The Library to The Study?  Well now you can resolve all your secret passageway needs at one place:

http://www.hiddenpassageway.com/

Check out the gallery – they’ve got a full working pantry that folds back into the wall to reveal a hidden dungeon, er, basement.

Spy vs. Spy

I saw Iron Man last night, which was definitely in the top 3 comics-type movies I’ve seen (behind Batman Begins and Transformers).  Me and Casey also invented our own comic book series on the way there, but more on that later.

But then I wasn’t tired when I got back, so I did something that I’d never done before:  I watched C-SPAN.

And it was awesome.

It just so happened they were showing a talk held at the International Spy Museum by two high-up ex-counter-intelligence agents, one from the FBI and one from the USSR’s former KGB, Oleg Kalukin.  Oleg really impressed me with how friendly and knowlegable he was, despite speaking to an audience in the country he once spied on, and sharing the presentation with an agent of the FBI, which he had to avoid most of his life.  I instantly liked him.  (which is, I suppose, how he infiltrated America so well).

I came in half-way through the talk, but it seemed like a back-and-forth history of these two very successful spies as they rose through the ranks of each country, and showing how their paths crossed several times.  I think my favorite story was when Oleg took his family on vacation in Florida in the 90’s.  He saw the FBI tails changing cars on every state line so he knew they were following him.  On the way back, his car broke down, and the FBI actually drove him to a diner with his family, waited outside while he ate, drove him back to the motel they found, and fixed his car overnight.  Can you imagine the FBI doing something like that these days with a suspected middle-eastern spy?

The whole thing is 2 hours long, but I highly recommend it.

The Bodega

One of the (very welcome) interruptions during the marathon IKEA construction effort of 2008. was when Casey came in with his roommate Pablo and asked if we wanted to go with them on a quest to find a secret shoe store they’d heard of called “The Bodega.”

We drove into Boston, picked up Casey’s 3rd roommate, and started our quest.  Technically, I guess the quest proper ended about 60 seconds later because Casey had somehow found its address online on some obscure forum.

It turned out to be closed early on Sunday.  (We were 15 minutes late at 5:15!  Blast!)  But here’s why I don’t care that it took a half hour away from quality pizza and IKEA building time:

The Bodega has no website, no phone number, and not even sign outside.  In fact, the storefront is actually a run-down dirty completely unremarkable convenience store, also with no sign.  Apparently, some people walk in, grab some food, a touristy thing, or a drink… then pay at the register and leave, never knowing any better.

But supposedly, if you go up to the Snapple machine in the back, find a specific broken tile, and push it down with your foot… the Snapple machine rolls to the side and reveals an entranceway to… The Bodega.

According to what Casey heard, The Bodega itself is a secret shoe store that has rare or vintage shoes that are extremely hard to find anywhere else.  I’m not even that into the whole shoe culture (a friend of mine from UMD’s art program used to collect rare shoes and had a collection worth many 1000’s of dollars) but I’m ridiculously excited to see what they’ve got.

When we got there and the door was locked, we did get the girl at the convenience store cash register to come to the door though.  We got some minor verification when she didn’t question anything when we asked about The Bodega’s business hours.  They close at 6 tomorrow.

So we hopped back into Casey’s car, disappointed but bouncing from excitement that we actually may have found it.  Then – and I’m not making this up – as we pulled away, over the top of soap boxes and ancient-looking cans of food in the window, through the dirty yellowed glass, we saw the Snapple machine in the back corner of the convenience store.  It was sliding away to the left, and a bright light shone from behind it.

I can’t friggin wait.