PAX 2014

September 2nd, 2014 No comments

For the third year in row, I took a Labor Day weekend trip to Seattle for P.A.X.  This was the 10th year of PAX and my 3rd year there.

On Thursday, I left  work around mid-day.  I offered a ride to people on the PAX forums and one person took me up on that.  His name was Jake.  I had told him that I wanted to leave at 2:00, but he didn’t arrive until 3:30. He was a nice guy, but between him arriving late and the horrible traffic going north to Seattle, I missed the event on the Microsoft campus that I wanted to go to that night.  I could have made most of it if we had left on time.  He was also one of my roommates for the weekend.  I used to forums to find roommates again.  You never know what you’re going to get.  I slept on the floor in a sleeping bag all weekend.  The person who booked the room seemed reluctant to ask for extras keys at first, so until Saturday I had to rely on other people to let me in the room. I saw one roommate this first day.  He was the one who initially let us into the room.  I never heard from him again after that.  I think he flaked out without paying his share of the room.  I didn’t have to pay extra because of that.  This might be the last year I use the forums to find roommates.  Maybe I’ll be able to convince some friends to go next year.  Probably not.
Hotel Room View

On Friday, I got up to go line up in the queue room.  I have to do the queue at least once every year.  The first day is the best day to do it because of all the excitement.  When they let us in, I went around looking at all the sites.  It’s sensory overload in there.  There weren’t a lot of big time games that I was interested in checking out, so I was more interested in the cosplayers.  I did get a Patrick Rothfuss pin for a coworker and I also got the same one for myself.  After I while I walked over to Benaroya Hall for the Rooster Teeth panel.  I caught the end of the opening panel with Mikey from Gearbox.  After some more time back in the convention center I went to see a panel called “Queer Visibilty in Tabletop Games”.  That night I went to the WildStar party.  There were some members of my MMO guild there who recognized me.  It turned out that they are also from Portland.
Queue Room

On Saturday, I hung around the convention center some more.  I got actually got to play a game or two, but nothing that had a long line.  At this point I had started to hear about some indie games that I needed to check out and I was starting to get more excited about games.  Every year I find out about some indie games that I probably wouldn’t have heard of if not for PAX.   Sometime this day, I got League of Legends skins for a friend that asked me to get one for him.   I went to the Firaxis panel.  While in line, some guys got me to play Spaceteam with them on our phones.  I had never heard of it, but I have heard of games like it.  It was a blast.  I always like playing games with random strangers like that.  I brought a board game with me to PAX for situations like that, but never got to use it.  In the panel, Firaxis showed off the next Civ game.  That’s going to be so much fun. Later I went to the Major Nelson Radio panel.  It’s always fun.  They had a guy from Insomniac Games talking about their upcoming game Sunset Overdrive.  I had never heard of it until PAX.  At the end, they said that they had a bus outside that seats 40 people.  If you get on the bus, you get a free dinner at Lil Woodys, a burger place.  Apparently, this bus was taking people back and forth all weekend, but those people had to pay for their own meals.  I didn’t rush outside.  I walked at a leisurely pace.  I ended up being the 45th in line, with about 15 people behind me.  I was a little disappointed, but it wasn’t a big deal.  I overheard Jeff Rubenstein, who was on the panel and helped plan this free dinner thing, tell the bus people to come back after they dropped everyone off and pick up the remaining people.  He said that he would pay the difference.  Pretty sweet!  To show my appreciation, I pre-ordered the game on the way to Woodys.  I’ve seen footage of it since and it looks pretty cool.  The burgers at Woodys were great.  The fries seemed a little undercooked.  That night I met up with some of my guild members, different ones from the night before.  They play some of the same games that I do, but I wasn’t familiar with them.  They’re really nice and I had a great time.
Sunset Overdrive Bus

On Sunday I got up very early to go to the Gearbox panel in Benaroya Hall.  I got there over 2.5 hours early and there was already a decent-sized line formed.  Their panel was great just like last year.  I always want to throw money at them when it’s over.  Everyone in attendance got a free season pass for the next Borderlands games.  I spent a little more time in the convention center.  I watched the League of Legends competition for a good while.  I can see how people can really get into this stuff, even spectators.  I might have to play some soon.  I had never heard the term esports used for games like this until this weekend, but I guess it fits.  After this I went back to Benaroya Hall for Patrick Rothfuss’s panel.  He’s a very funny guy.  I really need to read his books.  I’ve had The Name of the Wind for a long time.  I’ll get to it one day.  Later on I went to a panel called “A New Tabletop Gaming Canon”.  I mostly went because one of the hosts my favorite Game of Thrones podcast was on the panel.  It went well and I’ve already ordered one of the games they spoke about.  That night was the annual PAX Pink Party.  It was in a different place this year though there was a Pre-Pink Party at the old place that I stopped by for about 5 minutes.  I didn’t know anyone at this party, so it was a little weird at first.  Then one of my guildmates that I met the night before showed up alone, so we spent the rest of the night hanging out with each other.  We both left after the cosplay contest.  It turns out that we like a lot of the same TV shows.  He lives in Vancouver, B.C.  I hope we stay in touch.
League of Legends Tournament

On Monday, I went back to the convention center.  I knew I wouldn’t have much time because I had to get back to Portland to pick up Reese and to record a podcast.  I went to the annex to check out the PC free play area where one roommate was working as an enforcer.  I checked out the console free play on a previous day, but I didn’t have time to play. I wanted to watch some of the League of Legends competition, but they were full because it was the last day.  In the end, I just sat down and watched people play the new Dance Central games.  I was tired.  I went back to my hotel room and left.  Once again, my passenger held me up because he wasn’t ready at the time we decided upon.  The hotel only charged me for 2 nights of parking. After the big parking bill last year, I had planned to park at the airport and take the train in to downtown.  However, on Thursday night I was so tired and disappointed after missing the Microsoft event, I decided to save some hassle and just park at the hotel.  It ended up being cheaper than if I had parked at the airport.  Score!  The ride home from Seattle was quick as usual.
People playing Dance Central Spotlight

I had a great time at PAX as always.  Once again, it was exhausting, but it was worth it.  There didn’t seem to be as many cool freebies as last year, but that’s okay.  I made some new friends that I’ll hopefully be in touch with throughout the year.  I never got a chance to play tabletop games this year, but I have some ideas for games that I want to play with friends here in Portland.  My only regret is that I don’t get to do this more often.  I plan to go to PAX South in January.  Maybe I’ll get to go to PAX East or PAX Australia one of these years.

Now I’m ready for the fall.

Austin Vacation

August 18th, 2014 No comments

I spent most of this past week in Austin, TX.  My buddy, John, asked me to come down to see the Nine Inch Nails / Soundgarden show with him.  Since then, a new guy named A.J. has come into his life.  A.J. joined us on this trip.

John and A.J. drove to Texas and I flew down on Wednesday of last week.    It was my first time meeting A.J.  All we did that day was eat and go to a club.  I knew that a friend I knew growing up worked at a bar in Austin.  I figured out which one it was and we went there for drinks and music.  Tony is the name of the friend.  I can’t remember when I first met him, but I knew him up until the first year or so of college at Mississippi State.  He then moved to Texas.  It was good to see Tony.  I got a free drink and we all got free shots.  I hope to see him again the next time I’m in Austin.

We slept late on Thursday.  We went to eat lunch at a lounge in a nearby hotel.  We also changed rooms because the beds were too small.  That night was the concert.  It was hot out there, but it quickly cooled down.  I can’t remember the name of the opening act, but there was too much screaming and yelling.  Soundgarden and Nine Inch Nails were awesome!!!  Both bands played the song of theirs I wanted to hear the most, “Spoonman” from Soundgarden and “Closer” from NIN.

On Friday, John and I got massages while A.J. went to the gym.  It was a very good massage.  It was different from what I’m normally used to.  This guy advertises himself as a Reiki Master.  I don’t know a lot about it, but I noticed that he was rubbing me very quickly and sometimes it burned.  John and I were both tired for hours afterward.  We got some food and did some shopping after that.  Later we went to the one of the Alamo Drafthouses.  I had never been to one of these before.  We saw Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  The movie wasn’t that bad, but it was far from great.  The experience was great, so I really enjoyed myself.

On Saturday we went to Hippie Hollow, which is a clothing optional resort.  I mostly just wanted to see some sights.  It was hot, so we didn’t stay long.  It was nice being in the water though.  After that we went to Franklin Barbecue, which we heard is some of the best barbecue around.  It was pretty damn good.  That night we chilled at the hotel and drank more.

On Sunday we said our goodbyes and left.  They left a few hours before me, but we each made it to our respective homes around the same time.

I had so much fun on this trip!  I definitely want to go back to Austin one day.  I drank more than I normally drink over several months, but I don’t regret anything.  I can’t wait to see John and A.J. again, whenever that might be. I enjoyed getting to know A.J. on this trip.  He’s a great guy.  I wish I could hang out with all of my distant friends more often, but I’m grateful for the time I do get to spend with them.  Until next time…

Twin Peaks Festival 2014

August 11th, 2014 No comments

The first weekend in August was the Twins Peaks festival in North Bend, Washington. I sent my friend John a link about it months ago and he said that we should go.So, we went. John was one of the reasons I first started watching Twin Peaks. The Twin Peaks podcast was another. I remember thinking it was a weird show and not being into it much at first, but I liked it more as I went along.

He flew up to Portland the night before the festival . We had some drinks at my apartment and caught up with each other. The next day, partially because we were hungover, partially because we wanted to do some things in Portland, and partially because we got stuck in some bad traffic in Washington, we didn’t make to North Bend until later that night. We got there just in time for movie night, missing the activities earlier in the day. Apparently, we weren’t the only ones who arrived at that time. I got to meet Matt and Mel for the first time. I had known of them online for a while from the The Twin Peaks Podcast, Carny Cast, and appearances on other podcasts. Then I became their co-host on our own podcast.

The next day we got up early went on the filming location tour. Matt and Mel were on the same tour as us. It was great seeing many places that were used in the show. That night was the celebrity dinner and costume contest. Several actors from the show were there like Kimmy Robertson, Chris Mulkey, Wendy Robie, Sherilyn Fenn, etc. Jenn Lynch and James Marshall had to back out due to other commitments. I got autographs and pics with Kimmy Robertson and Chris Mulkey. They were both very cool.

On the last day, John and I had breakfast at Twede’s with Matt, Mel, and others. We had to skip the rest of the day’s activities so we could head back to Portland. We hit a few stops in Portland and John left for Mississippi the next day.

I had a great time at the Twin Peaks Festival. It was great to hang with John, meet Matt and Mel, and make some new friends. It’s not something I would do every year, but I could see myself going back some time in the future.

Tori Amos

August 10th, 2014 No comments

Time to catch up on blogging.

Back on July 18, I went to see Tori Amos perform and the Oregon Zoo. I was a fan of her hit songs back in the 90s when she first became famous. It wasn’t until I met my good friend John that I became a big fan of hers. I haven’t heard much of her more recent stuff, but I was still excited when I heard that she was coming to Portland.

I knew that the zoo has a summer concert series, but I had never been to see a show there before. It was cool. Not too far from the left of the stage you could see elephants roaming around. I wonder what they must have been thinking while the concert was going on. Tori had an opening act. It was a man and woman, each with a guitar. I’m not an expert on British accents, but they sounded like they were Scottish or Irish. After they left, Tori took the stage. She was wonderful. She didn’t have a band. It was just her and a piano and/or a keyboard. I recognized a lot of songs, even if I couldn’t remember the names or lyrics. Some of the songs I know by heart. I had a little bit of a moment during “Little Earthquakes”. I’m not ashamed to admit that. At one point she stopped playing to tell the security guys to allow some girls to keep dancing down front. Very cool.

All in a all, it was a great show. Not the kind of concert I’m used to going to. If I get a chance to see her again, I’m sure I will.

Rob and Bess’s Wedding Weekend

July 29th, 2014 No comments

This past weekend I went down to Houston to attend the wedding of my ex-roommate and friend from college, Rob, to his fiancee Bess. I think the bride and groom started dating for the first time in 1996. 18 years later, they finally got married.

I arrived in Houston late Thursday, but didn’t do anything. It was my first time in the city other than for layovers.

The day before the wedding, Friday, us guys got together and played a round of Top Golf. There were friends from college along with relatives and friends of the bride and groom. It was a lot of fun even though I wasn’t any good. I want to try to find something like that here in Portland. Later that day I went to the rehearsal dinner. I don’t think I had ever actually met Bess until this dinner even though I heard about her in college. I pulled up in the parking lot at the same time that she did. She’s great. I ate a ton of food. To finish the night off, the 4 of us who knew each other in college played tabletop games in my hotel room.

The next day was the wedding.. I hadn’t been to a wedding since my cousin’s in 2004. It was a great wedding. It seemed to go by quickly and it was very sweet. Later that night we went to an Astros game since the newlyweds weren’t leaving for the honeymoon until the next day. The Astros lost, but it was fun to catch a Major League Baseball game. We said our goodbyes that night.

On Sunday, I met up with a friend, Susan, for coffee. It was nice getting to meet her in person after only knowing her online up until then. I hope to see her again next year. Later that day, I arrived back in Portland, minus my luggage, which had been sent to Atlanta by mistake. I got it back earlier today.

I had a great time over the weekend. It was great seeing people that I hadn’t seen in over 10 years. At times, it almost felt like nothing had changed. We need to get together again sometime. Hopefully, it won’t take another 10 years.

My Comcast Ordeal

July 16th, 2014 No comments

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been getting a call from the same number every few days “on behalf of Comcast” to tell me about special offers that Comcast has. I’m assuming that Comcast hires an outside company to do this, but I just consider this to be a call from Comcast. I get calls like this from Comcast from time to time. I estimate that I get them no more than once or twice a year. I tell them I don’t want to make any changes and they leave me alone for many months. This time, Comcast has been very annoying. For a while, I would answer the phone and they would hang up without saying anything. Now they will at least respond to my hellos.

I normally interrupt them and they try to continue on with their script, so I eventually say that I’m not interested and hang up. Last Friday I let the call go on longer because I was in the middle of a walk. The person said, “So you don’t want to take advantage of these deals?” I said “No” and not to call me anymore. Then I hung up.

Today is Wednesday and I’ve gotten calls the past 2 days. I had decided today to let them get to the end of their script without agreeing to any upgrade. The person on the phone asked me what I do to watch TV. I lied and said that I stream everything. Either the call was interrupted or she hung up. I am in a building where I don’t get good reception, so I think the call was interrupted. This makes me believe that they will call me again within the next few days.

The incident with Ryan Block and Veronica Belmont that’s been in the news reminded me of my own ordeal. I’m seriously thinking about switching to Version FiOS even though it will cost me more money. I just hope that their ordeal will make it easier for me to cancel my service if it comes to that.

Home Runs for Homeless Youth 2014

June 10th, 2014 No comments

This past Sunday I had a lot of fun playing in a charity kickball tournament to benefit homeless youth. My company had a team in the tournament and we were called the One Kick Wonders.

The day started off with a round robin tournament. We played terribly in our first couple of games and were obliterated by both teams. I don’t think we ever got anybody on base.We had never practiced together. Many of us had never met each other before. We were playing agaist people who play in kickball leagues. After our 2nd game, we had a bit of a break and we spent that time practicing and strategizing. We were much better after that. We lost the next game by only one run and that was mostly because the umpire didn’t do a good job of keeping track of outs. The captain of the other team even told us that we got screwed. After that we were in kind of a loser’s bracket. We won every game we had after that. We ended up in 3rd place overall out of 15 teams. Who says nerds can’t do sports?

One Kick Wonders 2014
It’s was fun being athletic again even though I’m sore as hell 2 days later. This was the first time I’ve been in any kind of athletic competition since I was in junior high. I’m not counting bowling because bowling isn’t really a sport. Kickball is more of a sport than bowling :). Anyway, now I want to join a league around here. I think I would enjoy kickball, volleyball, or softball. It was cool that we turned things around as a team and came in 3rd place. And it was all for a great cause. I hope we do this again next year.

I’m Not Sad

May 19th, 2014 No comments

I made a post on Facebook earlier.  I figured I would post it here and maybe expand a little.

I admit that it’s a little sad sometimes when I see my friends getting married, buying houses together, having children together, going on vacation together, etc.  I want the same thing for myself one day.  I can be happy for them, but sad for myself, right?  I haven’t been on a real date in well over a decade.  I’m frequently reminded of how inadequate I am, for dating a least.  A lot of people have the idea that everyone will find there one special someone if they look hard enough.  I honestly believe that not everyone will find that someone, but it doesn’t mean you should stop trying.  Also, you can live a happy life even if you don’t have someone.

When I get sad about these things, it’s only for a few minutes.  Then I go back to my happy self.  Life is good.

Nostalgia Kicks In

May 10th, 2014 No comments

I know I’ve mentioned my good friend John on here before.  We’re both big music fans.  When we first started hanging out back in Starkville, MS, we spent a lot of time introducing each other to new music, mostly songs by Tori Amos and Pearl Jam.  He’s a big Tori Amos fan.  I had heard some of her big hits, but he introduced me to many more of her songs.  I’m a big Pearl Jam fan.  He had heard some of their big hits, but I introduced him to many more of their songs.  I made copies of many of my Pearl Jam albums for him and he did the same for me with his Tori Amos albums.

John has hundreds of CDs.  A lot of time he had to shuffle through his many CD cases to find a particular song that he was looking for.  If we were going somewhere together, sometimes it would take a long time to leave because he had to find the right song to listen to.  I suggested that he  get mp3 player.  He got the idea, but never got around to buying one.  At one point I was researching a Zune (yes, a Zune) for myself even though I didn’t have nearly as many CDs as him.

We became roommates after a while.  When he got a job out of town and had to move away, I got him an iPod as a going away present.  I didn’t get myself an iPod until later that year.  John had to leave pretty quickly, so he didn’t move all of his stuff out of our apartment immediately.  I spent the next few weeks ripping all of his music to his iPod.  I even put a lot of Pearl Jam songs on there.

This is around the time of the year that he started that job 6 years ago.  He  tells me that he still uses his iPod every day at work. Every once in a while I’ll get a text or email with a lyric from a Pearl Jam song that he’s discovered or gotten into lately.  Today he sent me lyrics from a song called “Wishlist” and I immediately starting getting nostalgic.

Man, why are most of my close friends so far away?

I Promise I’m Not a Rich Jerk

May 3rd, 2014 No comments

I’m at a point again where I’m doing almost everything alone.  The #1 reason that my friends around here give for not doing things is that they don’t have the money.

I always say that I’m far from rich, but I do well for myself.  I remember a time when a candy bar or an item off the Wendy’s dollar menu was all I could afford to eat in a day.  Anything more would mean running out of money before my next paycheck.  I had to walk to class and work because I couldn’t afford to put gas in my car. Now I’m doing better.

I not talking about taking trips to Europe or the Caribbean, though that would be nice.  I’m pretty sure I won’t do that unless I have someone to go with me.  Short trips to nearby cities or local activities where no trip is involved are what I usually suggest.  They can’t do any of that.  Sometimes I just want to go to a movie, but I hear the same excuse. I love my friends, but it’s frustrating.  I do like to leave home occasionally and doing stuff alone all the time gets old.

Maybe money is just an excuse and they just don’t really want to go.  They seem interested in the ideas I bring up and I’m not always the one bringing up the ideas.  Maybe they just don’t want to go with me.

I guess there’s no real solution to this problem other than them increasing their income or saving more.  Or making more friends, which can be hard when you’re a busy adult.  I’m glad to have Internet friends from all over the place.  A lot of them do like to do things and we can meet up in other cities from time to time.  This makes me happy.

Tags: , ,