Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Bostonia- part the second

Holy after market accessories, Batman, but did yours truly have a hell of a finish to her trip...
And by that, I would love to say something like we ended up tracking down Mike and Jerry and got drunk at some place in South Boston, stumbling home at 3am and nurtured a gloriously blooming hangover the next day wherein we cursed the sun and ate greasy foods to try and tame the raging beast within our skulls......
Nope. Not in my reality. In my reality Mysterious Shit Happens (tm) and it's kind of funny, kind of not, and in the end life returns to normal. We do not party with rockstars in this house, mostly because it's too loud and someone always ends up breaking the good china.
Saturday started wonderfully, with a bit of a late sleep-in after a frustrating night of trying to get home --the shuttle buses that said they were going to our hotel didn't, so we literally got on the bus, then drove around in a circle and came right back to the convention center. This during rush hour, so we spent an hour in a very crowded location trying to figure out what the frigg was going on. We were later told that we should've read the flyers that were invisible/nonexistant and ignored the giant printed red and white signs that said THIS SHUTTLE GOES TO X HOTEL. Uh-huh. ANYWAY...
Between that and being unfairly snarked by some red headed chick who was way too pleased with herself and for some reason felt she had the right to be so nasty to people who were, you know, BUYING STUFF for the convention, and I had a mental breakdown. I held it together to walk to the T. I held it together on the T. I got off the T and managed to whiffle-sob most of the way down Boyleston... and then we hit the hotel and I cried. Yours truly doesn't do the whole "large groups of people" thing too often, so stress and claustrophobia hit hard during these things. I'm not proud, I'm a social wuss, I will happily admit it.
BUT!! But... you see, that was Friday, and now we talk of Saturday! And Saturday we got to sleep in and take a lovely walk on a GORGEOUS morning down to the T and head over to what Bob informed me was the "financial district". This meant not a lot of traffic.
We were headed for the notorous Chocolate Brunch at the Langham Hotel! Oh myyy yes, and I am also not too proud to admit that I learned about this from the Travel Channel, and that ever since I saw the show I had been talking to Bob about going. Bob, bless his lovely and endearing heart, is not a fan of chocolate. He doesn't hate it, but there seems to be no excitement in it for him. So for him to humor me meant a lot.
Somewhere on the way that morning I sprained my ankle (when it rains it pours) so we hobble up Franklin past a gorgeous park to what looks like an old mansion from the early 1920's. It's squat, only perhaps 5 stories and utterly dwarfed by the buildings around it. But it looked classy, and i could already tell, walking in the door in my swanky Target-clearance T-shirt and sneakers that I did not make enough to stay in this place. Ever. So I'm walking like a gimp, I'm under-dressed, and feeling rather self conscious. But we press on because, hey, we had reservations and they didn't say a damn thing about the dress code on their website.
The people upstairs were warm and accomodating and didn't even blink when we showed up as we were, refering us to an "Early Room", where we waited... it was spectacular. I was so blown away I snuck photos of the ceiling with its elaborate plaster work, and the wall-wide painting of Abraham Lincoln behind my husband. There was art-deco brasswork everywhere, including four very large torchiere-style lamps that somehow managed to do crap towards illuminating the space. We were near the windows to look out at the park and enjoy the sunlight coming in.
Finally they called us and seated us with astonishing speed. We had a lovely window seat once more that looked out on the park. And then? Oh dear people, the nicest waiters I've ever met brought me the most wonderful cup of coffee I've had in a long time and explained the "5 tastes" tables... sweet, savory, bitter... I forget the other two, but if you check out the Cafe Fleuri website, it'll hint at what sort of wonders one could acquire.
I didn't get a picture of everything before people were swarming the tables, so alas, I can't really convey the scope of the thing. Think of 5 dining room tables set up next to each other, each with 3 tiers to place items on, and at least 2 items per tier. THEN think of a surrounding swath of tables where people will hand roll truffles or bake crepes or whip up your own personal cloud of cotton candy while you wait... it was probably the most decadent thing I have ever walked in to, and yours truly has had kaiseki in Kyoto. There was a strangeness to it, in that a DJ was playing house techno and getting down with it. After discussing it, we decided this was most likely to portray the entire thing as hip and trendy instead of "you go do this with your grandmother on Saturday" as brunch tends to bring to mind.
Eventually coming to realize we could only handle so much sugar and there was a complete and utter lack of any protein to be had, we made a beeline for the door where yours truly re-sprained her ankle and the waiters called after us to stay (I'm not kidding, they called out to ask why we were leaving...).
It being a glorious and sunny day we walked the last 4 blocks or so from the hotel to the convention center. This was our Major Panel Day, where we had 3 we wanted to get to. The first was Geek Parenting, and while I have not yet given birth to crotch fruit, knowing that those resources are out there for parents who are also science/math/video game/theater geeks was kind of awesome.They talked about games that were just excellent to play at about any age, and we got to listen to the writers of the Geek Dad and Geek Mom websites talk about their personal experiences raising kids. Being somewhat nervous about the whole thing and not sure when to actually let a child start to play video games it was just nice to do some fact-finding like that. They even covered what to do if your kid is NOT a geek and you are, which was actually more helpful.
After that we bolted upstairs and caught a taping of Feedback Life! for G4TV. I love G4TV, it has Xplay and Attack of the Show on it, these being the shattered remnants of Tech TV from years past. They're starting to recoup the brand, I feel, and doing some good stuff with it. BUT... the best part is that they talk about VIDEO GAMES A LOT. So getting to sit in on a panel with those who rate and review the games I love, it was pretty neat. We were even much closer this year. Lots of fun, lots of laughing, and lots of talk about Bioshock Infinite (which makes sense because there was a giant plaster model of one of the constructs in the lobby).
Then finding ourselves without a whole lot to do, we acquired food (questionably warmed $5 hot dogs) and wandered the floor.
What I was hoping to find was a set of Lorekeeper's guides from the Call of Cthulhu RP game, but they never materialized. What was there was all the newest shiniest stuff you could find for D&D, and the Arkham Horror board games plus expansions. LOTS of dice, and a ridiculous number of miniatures ready to be painted or just played. I realized as I looked at all of the books and campaigns guides and gewgaws waiting to help people imagine the world that I was only a tenderfoot in this world and had never gotten in to it to the breadth and depth that some did. There was a small pang of envy for the folks that had been able to play, that were capable and had friends (all of my friends had been smugly superior upon my attempting to join or I had a parent who decided (WRONGLY) D&D was satanic barnstorming my DM sessions, so there was never really an opportunity to grow in this field). At that moment I shared the sometimes sigh that Bob gets, wishing for friends in close proximity that loved these things as we did so we could get together and run a campaign, or have an excuse to break out our Arkham Horror board game once in a while.
On to happier climes, we visited the Indie Game row where many awesome and cute little games were displayed. "Swarm" in particular was amusing to me, as was "Snapshot", a game where you take pictures of the environment to move it around... so you can then move your guy around. It was an interesting take on the platformer.
By the way, it was crowded.

Something like 69,500 attendees was the official count, not counting enforcers and staff. What was awesome was that the convention center was SO big, there were times when you would be somewhere and there would be silence and only perhaps a handful of people wandering buy.
We found our way after visiting the floor to a quiet area where we sat and played games... my beloved husband dove in to his latest Professor Layton game and I decided to take the time to tear a chunk out of Caitlin R. Kiernan's Low Red Moon, as I loved the story and had been too busy to really read lately. Three hours and a Pepsi later and we were in line for our final panel of the day, Minecraft: The Wisdom of Punching trees (or something like that.)
Bob and I both adore Minecraft. It is a wonderful game, in "heavy beta" as many are saying, and lets you screw around doing just about anything. The entire panel talked about why it was such a phenomenon and what it tapped in to in terms of previous games as well as psychology. It was a touch dry, but the guy had lots of clips from YouTube to back up his points and most of us had seen the clips, so there was lots of hootin' and hollerin'. Yours truly video'ed about 9 minutes of the talk. It'll be uploaded and linked(pimped) later.
Now, prior to the talk we were once again being good and kind citizens by purchasing cookies from the Cookie Brigade, since they were giving donations to Child's Play. They were small and simple sugar cookies with designs drawn on the front that were supposed to resemble things from video games. We were never able to guess what a lot of them were, but ANYWAY...
Let me instruct you in this thoroughly people, because here is where all luck deserted me... if you buy a baked good and put it in your mouth, taste it, then utter the words "This tastes funny"... STOP EATING IT. No, seriously. Just put it down and go back to whatever you were doing. Which, in this case, was watching some lucky bastard who brought his laptop doing tours of what he's built in Minecraft and wishing we'd loaded Minecraft up on our tiny little netbook.
Five minutes later I felt strangely drunk and buzzed and wondered what was up.
Fifteen minutes later I felt slightly nauseas.
Thirty minutes later I was pretty sure I had to throw up.
And when the talk was finally up, I headed to the restroom to experience the first of what might tactfully be called "intestinal upset".
Feeling horrible and fighting rising gorge, I decided to amuse myself by holding off until we got to the Charles River, where at least I could feed the fish. Don't ask, I'm weird that way, I saw how fish showed up after seasick people lost it over a boat and ever since I think of it as "feeding the fish" ANYWAY... we get to the river and suddenly I'm okay. Great, I think I've got this! Let's head home! We're going down to the subway! We're on the T! We've switched to the other T! We're on Boyleston! We're on Berkley! Look, the hotel is one block away, I'm going to make.... BLAAAAAAAAARTGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH....
I prayed for rain so that people would not have to smell what I left in that poor, innocent planter. That hedge and those heather plants did NOT deserve that and I feel really bad, but that stuff wanted an exit worse than anything.
I then spent the entire evening ridding my body of everything inside me that could safely be gotten rid of and possibly a few things that couldn't, and then I was passed out with a massive fever and the sweats for the duration of Sunday.
It wasn't fun, and I felt bad that we didn't get to go to the last day of PAX East. I had intended to head over to the line for the Nintendo 3DSs and actually see what it was all about since they were hyping it so much. I'd also wanted to perhaps try to get a shot at Child of Eden, the Rez successor that everyone seems very interested in (Rez is one of my all time favorite games). Ah well... perhaps another time, perhaps in a Best Buy somewhere close to home.
We toddled on to the train Monday morning and both of us slept most of the way home but for dueling on FourSquare to see who could check in somewhere first. Bob kept winning because he is a sneaky and cheating bastard and would pull the screen up to check in 10 minutes before we got to station stops, but I'm not bitter.
And we are home. And I am recovering. And he is recovering. And it was wonderful, even in spite of massive amounts of personal ejecta. I wish I had shots of video games to show you, or video of people playing, or other awesome things... but alas, I was too sucked in actually ~experiencing~ the whole thing to take a step back and document. So instead, I close this post with a photo of the one thing that dominated the exhibition hall... the giant Pikachu balloon over the Nintendo booth. It was big enough that it got its own FourSquare location, "Under Pikachu's Belly".

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