Masked Avenger

Batman BeardBefore the film premiered, I devoured the complete collection of Sherlock Holmes stories written by Doyle for the magazine, The Strand. Pulp like that makes me really happy (as is probably self evident by the fact that I have a blog dedicated to exploring Batman). Now, I'm no English major but I've been told that Sherlock Holmes stories aren't technically included in the mystery genre since the reader has no chance of solving the crime before Holmes does. Rather the stories should be included in Detective fiction. While I read them, I didn't really have much of a problem suspending my disbelief when it came to his intelligence and his inconcievable leaps in deductive reasoning (now refered to as Holmesian deduction). But one thing did catch me everytime: I was continually doubtful about the success of his disguises. The stories have him dressing up for days on end with not even Watson able to see past his act.

Batman (as one of the direct literary descendants of Sherlock Holmes) is often presented as a master of disguise. His aliase Matches Malone is often used but he is often portrayed as able to disguise himself as anyone.

But it seems ridiculous that the most famous man in Gotham can become completely unrecognizible by putting on some makeup and faking a limp.

Matches MaloneSo I started thinking, “Can this really be done?” I'm not talking about someone changing their look (like Evan Ratliff did for his Wired article). I mean someone taking on a bunch of secret identies to move secretly in and out of a small community of people (criminals in Batman's case) who would most likely recognize him in a heart beat.

I found the most pristine example of this working! I couldn't believe it. Ruth Reichl was once the Restaurant Critic for The New York Times. As such, she was determined not to receive special treatment while reviewing. But she soon realized just how important her reviews were to restaurant owners. She learned that kitchens had pictures of her and owners offered huge rewards to employees who recognized her.

Her solution? Secret identies.

You really have to listen to this interview I found. She starts talking about her disguises after the first half. It is really quite amazing.

I've spent quite a bit of time trying to find more examples of real-life masters of disguise but have only found a few (who I'll present to you in my next post) and only a couple of resources on learning how to properly disguise oneself.


What's the Point?

Batman SwingEvery once in awhile I like to take a post and restate my purpose with this blog. Although I will post about Batman comics or Batman TV shows from time to time, this isn't really supposed to be a general blog about Batman. I am trying to introduce myself to as many of Batman's skills and abilities as I can. Notice it is not my intent to master any of these skills but just to try them out.

So far I've got my yellow belt in Jui Jutsu, learned to make homemade smoke bombs, tried my hand at archery, read a book on forensic science, learned to make very good, very quick estimates from very little information (These are called Fermi Problems. We estimated fun comic-book things like how much energy Mr. Freeze gets from diamonds, how much food and how much oxygen the Flash needs, how strong Spider-man must be to stop an out-of-control train, how much stronger Superman must be to catch it if it came off the tracks, how heavy is Dark Claw with his adamantium skeleton, how much Kryptonite is on Earth, what was the mass of Krypton, how many buses are in Gotham City), I started bouldering and wall climbing when ever I get the chance, I tried my hand at picking locks, I did personal experiments with sleep deprivation and caffination, I now know a variety of knots and I bought and started throwing boomerangs (so cool).

Batman LeapThis mission takes a lot of time. It can also prove expensive from time to time so I don't post often but I try my best. I'm always looking for suggestions on what I should learn next. I put off starting martial arts training until reads convinced me that it was absolutely essential. So feel free to leave suggestions at any time.

You should also try reading some of the blogs linked-to in the right hand column. I recommend them all (that's why they are there).


Batman's the Best Martial Artist Ever

Batman vs CobraI fought in my first Martial Arts Tournament yesterday.

I don't know if you've ever been to one of these but they're interesting. That being said I'm not sure how useful they are. I spent alot of the day sitting around and very little of it actually competing. This one was multidisciplinary. I entered in grappling, self-defence and point-fighting.
  • I was easily beaten in grappling. I definately need to work on this.
  • I scored well in self-defence and placed high in my tier.
  • I like point fighting but their wasn't enough low level belts registered in my category and so all the color belts were mixed together. I fought an orange belt from a karate school whom I'm certain considered me an easy victory.
For it being my first tournament I was fairly pleased but like I said, I'm interested in learning not competing and this particular tournament didn't present many opertunities to learn.