Author Archives: paulms

About paulms

My name is Paul Shapera, a musician working under the name Mocha Lab. I make albums, theater shows, videos, dance pieces, commercials and move around a lot.

Escape The Mystery Room In Real Life

So a thing that’s been popping up more and more are real life Mystery Rooms. You know those point and click games where you try to escape a crimson room or various variations on that concept?

Well, there are now a number of real life mystery rooms you can go to and as a team try to escape from, usually within about an hour’s time limit.

I believe the trend started in Beijing, China. Dubbed Yi Xiang Jia (“Thinking of Home”), it sprawls over 1,000 square meters and is divided up into five scenarios that can support up to fifty players at a time. This mystery room complex puts great emphasis on teamwork.

real life mystery room real life mystery room real life mystery room real life mystery room

Since then the concept blew up in Japan and has been popping up all over. There’s some in the states (Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, LA, Minneapolis, Philly, New York, Phoenix, San Fran and DC), made by Room Escape Adventures, one of which even has a room puzzle where you’re trapped inside with a zombie.

All these room pics do not necessarily correspond with the nearby text and specific place they're near.

All these room pics do not necessarily correspond with the nearby text and specific place they’re near.

There’s the awesome looking Omescape in Richmond, CA

real life mystery escape room

real life mystery escape room

Live near Toronto? There’s Mystery Rooms which features the rooms Satan’s Lair, Haunted Hospital, Prison Break, and Mummy’s Curse (Mummy’s Curse is Advanced level and asks “Can you solve this when half your group is missing?”). There’s also one in Richmond, British Columbia, EXIT.

real life mystery escape room real life mystery escape room

Here’s a description by someone who went to Omescape in Richmond, CA:  .

“We gathered a couple of friends—one male and one female—and headed to Omescape in Richmond, Calif. The Omescape rooms don’t have nearly the failure rate of the room in Japantown; we signed up for the Omega Room, a time travel-themed room with a 30 percent escape rate.

After we surrendered our bags and cell phones, the Omescape game runners explained the rules. Once they locked the door, we would have 60 minutes to solve all the puzzles and escape from the room. The game runners would not be coming inside with us; they instructed us not to touch the clocks—which contained important clues—but otherwise, we could poke and prod at anything that didn’t have a “Do not touch” sign on it. They handed us a walkie-talkie and told us if we were completely stumped, we could ask for one hint. Then they led us inside.

At first glance, the room looked like the playhouse version of a professor’s study. There was a desk in the middle of the room, and the place was filled with books and maps. Clocks lined the walls, showing various times. A small chest with a combination lock sat atop the desk. Odd pictures hung on one wall.

The game runners produced an iPad and showed us a brief introductory movie, which explained that the scientist who owned this office had mysteriously disappeared while performing time travel experiments. If we didn’t get out in time, his fate could befall us. Then they locked the door and started the clock.

The boys immediately set to work turning everything in the room over, looking for instructions, clues, secret compartments—anything that might be hidden within the room. Along with the other girl, I focused my attention on the clocks, wondering what they had to tell us. Together, we solved the first puzzle quickly, which gave us tools to see hidden things in the room that we hadn’t been able to see before. We paced through the first few steps, feeling pretty good about ourselves.

Until we got stumped, that is.”

So there you have it. An awesome idea and i assure you, i am TOTALLY gonna do one of these. Just a head’s up: UK people! I don’t believe there’s any of these in the UK. You could make a MINT doing this. Think about it. You could put this together. Get a few investors, some great puzzle builders, make this AND THEN INVITE ME! I really want to do one of these.

real life mystery escape room real life mystery escape room


Posted by on September 11, 2014 in Uncategorized


Phase 2

underground cavern

Soon i will begin making the music for the Bonus Act.

Getting from the big idea and a myriad of details to actually sitting down and starting composition is Phase 2. Phase 2 is the process whereby a lot of little ideas and details are collected and placed so that somewhere along the way Structure emerges.

The structure of the story Arc is obviously key. I might be missing a bit in the late middle, but that’s fine. I can still start. Don’t ever plan out everything. Once actually in the flow good things can happen, better ideas can come than one can have mulling it over abstractly before work even starts.

Most important to beginning is that there is some song structure. Obviously the first song would be the really important one to have a structure for. Once again, not every detail is worked out, nor should be, but since my goal is to tell a 45 minutes story, i need to begin with way better ideas of what’s going to happen when than if i was just making an album of random tunes.

 Phase 2 leads to the point where i can sit and go through the structure of the first song (or even better the first 3 as in the case here): i know we’ll open ambiently, conveying space and mood, get you to clear your mind. We’ll go into the drum bit, maybe build to vocal chanty thing, maybe not depending on where things go once actually making it. Soft, pretty with an ability to be sad celticy middle section of the song where the lyrics and lead character vocal section are, back into drum thing, get nice and intense, and… end with a soft bit that will serve as lead in to second song.


With it i i know what the hell to do and where to begin when i sit down in the studio. This ability to go through it theoretically extends in the same way to the larger Act. More missing bits for the larger Act maybe, but i can do a reasonable walkthrough, especially at important points.

Phase 2 is where we take all the ideas form all directions we’re inviting during Stage 1 and by the end have placed them and made a skeleton. My favorite part of this is when i’m sitting thinking about a bit i have up until a certain point, and when i get to that certain point, what to do next just falls right out of the air and lands neatly in place.

Bad ideas need to be discarded immediately. You cannot put them in the Structure you’re building in your head as place markers for later, better ideas.  Better to leave the spot blank. An idea kept in place long enough will grow roots and be harder to see as casually, unattached to and thus discard.

With that said, some ideas i can have no idea how to pull off but just have faith i will. Those are okay as long as i don’t settle for a substandard idea of how to do it. Often when thinking about this type of idea i will think substandard ideas. It’s tricky. I must remain vigilant that i haven’t solved the problem and a better solution will present itself when the time comes.

From a character point of view Phase 2 progresses from having ideas about the character and character details to being able to slip into their point of view. Not do anything but see from their point of view and think of the type of musical moods and visual images i that come while doing this. Musical moods are certainly importnant, but the visual images are key to my process too. Woman on boat in mist. Underground caverns with archaic machinery. Fireflies in a cool photographic light circling a girl’s head in the dark. These images i like a lot. They inspire the music that will be built.

The music will be built by shooting an arrow in a particular direction and beginning to walk in that direction. Once the journey is underway, arriving at the arrow is irrelevant and for me personally, never, ever happens. Always, always, always the piece takes on a life of its own and i adjust direction to follow it. The less open i am to adjusting to suit what arises, the worse i do. Musical ideas before the actual compositional work is underway are not to be engraved in stone. Doesn’t work for me.

So there you go. My attempt to document the writing of an opera “act” (or in this case, album long opera instead of double album long opera) and Phase 2. What i’m writing is not some staunch rule i learned and follow religiously. I don’t normally think about the process with such examination of it. I’m only doing that now for the purposes of description and documentation. You know, for the hell of it.



Posted by on September 5, 2014 in Uncategorized


The Swans: The Seer

Swans - The Seer

The album i’m currently really into at the moment, mostly due to finally having a car stereo after all this time and being able to play and enjoy music i normally wouldn’t respond to as well at the tail end of my day which used to be my only real listening time, is The Swans To Be Kind.

It’s music i normally wouldn’t play, which i why i’m really into it. I need NEW STUFF coming in my ears.

I can’t post the actual tracks i really love here, can’t find them in a postable form online, so i’m gonna feature the album before To Be Kind, The Seer.

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Posted by on September 4, 2014 in Uncategorized


The Discarded Pirate Song (with a very, very special middle section)

Cover by Trevor List

In fact i believe the middle section of this tune to be my finest hour. When you listen, think Beethoven’s 9th, the 4th Movement.

So as many of you are aware, at the beginning of the summer i released the soundtrack to A Pirate’s Tale, a pirate musical i wrote the songs and lyrics for with book by Shaun Rolly. Well, this is a discarded song from that musical, never used or heard, worth one last breath of sunshine particularly for the middle section, which like i said, is quite possibly my finest moment.

At the time i made this, all the songs where very heavy and ponderous and we decided we really needed a light number, something cute and funny. So this was the demo i made for a comic relief song sung by the bumbling Jonathon (who is the comic relief of the script). Eventually it was discarded and i wrote instead Abagail’s Jig which definitely works better. However, since Shaun has dug this song up to put on the Pirate’s Tale Facebook page, i figured i’d give it one last spin before it gets retired again.

So, discarded, light hearted pirate song, (Initial demo version. It’s rough.)


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Posted by on August 30, 2014 in Uncategorized


Women as Background Decoration: Part 2 – Tropes vs Women in Video Games

Women as Background Decoration: Part 2 - Tropes vs Women in Video Games

This post should be nothing but me linking to the new video out by Feminist Frequency detailing Tropes vs Women in Video Games.


After she released this video 3 days ago she received a series of tweets by some fucknut threatened her and her parents. He lists her parent address, lists her address, names names then tells her he is going to kill her family and threatens her with violent rape threats.

She contacted authorities and to be safe, went to stay with friends.

What. The. Fuck.

Who the hell are these people that have taken to harassing her ever since 2012 when she announced the intent to make a video series (a fucking video series for fuck’s sakes. It’s a damn Youtube series! WTF you emotionally stunted psychotwats?) talking about female tropes in video games, an excellent and long overdue idea?

Do you know jackasses like this? Do i? if i did i wouldn’t be writing this right now, i’d be over there smacking them upside the head with a garden shovel. Or in the case of this new turd, making sure he was apprehended.

Who the fuck does this shit?

I know it’s none of you fine folk. But if someone stumbles along here who does, let me please say: 1. fuck you you little dickless coward fuck. 2. I wish for you a moment of perfect enlightenment. Much like a 3 year old will one day see with the perspective of a 30 year old, i hope you actually grow the fuck up, take your meds, and have a moment of perfect enlightened vision where you actually see clearly the shit filled numbfuck you are and have to live with this knowledge of what a rat assed iguana fucker you are. I do not wish you bodily harm (okay, a little bit but that’s not what i’m actually going to ask the genie for), i wish for you enlightenment. And in the case of this last asshat, i wish your enlightenment to take place in jail, you balless dung beetle, sucker of Yog Sothoth’s black worm semen.

Without further ado, Women as Background Decoration: Part 2 – Tropes vs Women in Video Games

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Posted by on August 28, 2014 in Uncategorized


CATNIP TEA, Wolf at the Door (Radiohead)

My buddy MIljen Aljinovic,guitarist for the London Workshop production of Dolls lives in Santa Fe with his band, Catnip Tea. This is an awesome cover of Radiohead’s Wolf At The Door. 

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Posted by on August 27, 2014 in Uncategorized


Weather Report – Live in Offenbach – September 28, 1978

Weather Report was an incredibly awesome jazz fusion band from the 70s. Anyone into jazz already knows well who they are. The 78 lineup:

- Joe Zawinul (keyboards)
- Wanye Shorter (tenor and soprano saxophone)
- Jaco Pastorius (electric bass)
- Peter Erkskine (drums)

is legend after legend.

Man, this band is funky. This is the real deal here. My personal favorite period of this band is few years before, but i gotta tell, stumbling across this on Youtube, this is going down reeeeeal well right now.  If you’re looking for some awesome music to have playing for awhile, why not try this?

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Posted by on August 25, 2014 in Uncategorized


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