I originally wrote this up a few weeks ago (some of it even on the plane home) and never got to post it because of issues uploading some things I wanted to put live with it. Since we finally got our asses and posted the Failcast recording, I decided I would finally get this off my queue. Hey, a month late is better than never, right?
Beyond that, I'm not exactly sure where to begin. I've just experienced the highest high I've felt both this year - yes, even bigger than The Dark Knight - and even a long time before 2008, and I'm feeling very sentimental. It might be easy to point to the (upcoming) special video Failcast, but that podcast is only glimpses of concentrated awesome, so some things are better conveyed through text and pictures. I suppose I can start at the beginning, and hopefully meander my way through one of the best weekends of my life.
To begin with, I was tired. Exhausted even. Because of Dvddesign's achievement contest, packing, and last-minute homework, I had not even gone to bed before my 7:00AM flight. So as I zombie-d my way to my second plane, I didn't even notice a fellow Dtoider who sat down next to me as I cursed my neverending death in Castlevania: Dracula X Chronicles. As sleep deprivation gnawed at my consciousness, I rose to aimlessly shift by the entrance gate and was startled when D came up to say hello, surprisingly riding on the plane with me to Seattle. I'm not going to lie - it was fucking strange to meet in person a man who, though I knew on Dtoid, I had barely communicated with previously. But as you might guess, he was a cool guy in real life and foreshadowed how many great people I'd meet last weekend.
After my botched attempt at editing Failcast episode 15 on the flight, we landed and hooked up with Butmac, Itemforty, Hoygeit, and Blehman. Since I hadn't coordinated my arrival time with anyone in particular, I was expecting to pay the bus for a ride to my hotel, but these Cblog Mafia guys, only a few of whom I was more familiar with on Dtoid, offered me a ride in their car. There really wasn't any room, but they managed to find some (hint: sitting in the truck) under the pretense that the CBM had kidnapped a member of the IRCartel. (Note to IRCartel: we need to plan retribution to save face, even though I'm totally thankful for the help.)
I arrived at the Sixth Avenue Inn, about five blocks from the convention center. About five minutes after I arrived, two cars pulled in, filled with Dtoiders from Portland - and I'm going to take a moment to talk about some of these guys individually, so pardon my frivolities. My fellow Failcast member King3vbo really is that awesome, a delicious smorgasbord of win, Bill Gates, and rape. LostCrichton is the biggest motherfucker I have ever had the pleasure to meet, like a giant teddy bear with a predisposition for stripping. I'd spoken with - or more so spoken to - Toneman on a Failcast episode previously, an episode which I'm curious if he was even on, so I was happy to see that King3vbo's assurances of the presence of his vocal chords were actually true. Cutie Honey surprised me by dressing snappily all weekend long, as though he were James Bond, except Asian, and shorter, and a drawer of traps, so I suppose really nothing like James Bond. (That sentence is horrible, but I'm keeping it in.)
And there were some other people who came along, like CrocBox (who vanishes for hours at a time and then suddenly materializes out of nowhere), Thomas (who should have a Dtoid account called NumberX), and Wedge and his boyfriend. Since my roommates hadn't arrived yet, I decided to toss my stuff in their room.
So what do you do to break the ice between a bunch of gamers, most of whom had never met before? Break out the DS games! Instant bonds were made as we cursed each other about those three blue shells in a row, I mean seriously Toneman, what the fuck was that shit, you know that was total fucking bull. I also saw the beginnings of the vortex of suitcases, clothes, cables, and garbage that would conquer the room during the trip, leading to my temporary losses of a cable, a microphone, a hoodie, and even my entire messenger bag containing my PAX pass, a digital camera, and a MiniDV camera. I'm surprised no one was consumed by the hotel, only to be found dead at the end of the trip.
Dinner time was approaching soon, so we headed across the street to a place Aerox had found called FareStart, which employed homeless people and gave them the skills to work and create fancy meals. Donning our Sunday best, we entered the restaurant, where I was confined upstairs with King3vbo, LostCrichton, and Madninja (and later Ceark) while everyone else got tables downstairs. So it goes, but let me talk for a minute about Madninja. He's, like, 12. I think he just entered middle school. And he is also the most hyper, candy-infused person I have ever met. Our table took much joy in corrupting such an innocent youth with talk that made the nearby waiters blush. Also, he's a really fun guy to party with, when his mom let him out of the hotel. (To Madninja: sorry I spilled soda in your soup, but I think you liked it better that way.)
After dinner, I went back to my hotel room, got my pre-drink on, and headed out to the convention center with my roommates for the weekend. My first impressions: you'd never guess that CountingConflict was married with kids (who called to ask if he had played Lego Batman yet), because this guy acts just like the rest of us, partying and trying to get the ladies of the street to notice him. Coonskin is just as cuddly as you think he would be, and I thought it was hilarious that he wore a smooth sport-coat over a t-shirt referencing pimps as his press uniform. The biggest embarrassment of that night was being seen with Macca. That kiwi motherfucker wore a dandy scarf around the entire night like he was living in Moulin Rouge. It made for something I could point to whenever I led us in a wrong direction on the way to the convention center.
After grabbing our passes, which ended up not helping a bit when you consider that we had to wait for a ton of other people in the morning, we headed to meet people at the Red Lion's bar, the Elephant and Castle. The Red Lion quickly became Destructoid's hang-out point for the entire weekend, since it was a central location and would allow the entire group to hang out and drink. We seriously took over that bar every night of the trip, and some of my fondest moments from the trip were hanging out in that bar, even if the service completely sucked. Plus, I got a free appetizer, so yay me!
Someone made plans that we should go out to this bar Thursday night called the Redwood, and some of the editors had already shown up there, so we begrudgingly left the Red Lion to walk there. And keep walking there. And get lost. And once we got there, me and about ten others were shit out of luck because they wouldn't even let us underaged people in to hang out and drink soda. So we made the trek back to the Red Lion, which still had some people who had split off along the way, and everyone eventually showed up there, where we hung out until closing and, as would repeatedly occur, stood around outside in a large group once they made last call. Why did we go to the Redwood again? It shall remain a mystery, but the Red Lion was the place to be.
Before our first day of PAX, we decided to go to breakfast together. A lot of people used their iPhones, which quickly became the most handy gadget other than the DS in Dtoid's arsenal this weekend, to find a local iHop, which must be Steve Jobs' favorite restaurant. However, some other restaurant had taken over its location, so they must have been happy to get all our business. Our group spilled over into an excess lobby in order to get in, where I ate the most expensive bowl of Cheerios I had ever ordered. I could have bought two boxes of cereal and milk for the price I paid. It was a good way to have some sober conversation across long tables as we planned out plans for the day we never followed through on.
As for PAX itself? It was busy. The biggest con I had been to in the past was Anime Boston, the first day of which I sat in a line for 6 hours waiting to get my badge. The initial line at PAX wasn't as big and went much faster, because apparently...the line wasn't for anything. That's right, we stood around for an hour and a half to get into PAX, while other people just walked right in. I have no idea how we all missed that, but hey, at least we got some laggy DS sessions in.
The show floor was immensely crowded, especially the line for Left 4 Dead, which few Dtoiders ever got to touch. I was overjoyed when Power Glove put me in touch with Superflossy, who knew Alex Navarro well and was able to bring DJ Duffy, Dvddesign, and I to the front of the line for Rock Band 2, where we proceeded to rock the house with Anyway You Want It. (Seriously, thank you Power Glove and Flossy, that was awesome.) Then again, I couldn't have been as happy as Kryptinite's face as he finally grabbed a PS3 controller for the developer walkthrough of LittleBigPlanet, which so adorably fun that it will be my first PS3 purchase.
But really, the fact that there were games and panels available wasn't even the main draw of the show for me. Frequently, I would get in a line for Game X, only to be interrupted with a call from Hamza or another Dtoider telling us to get together for some meet-up. Why other reason would 20 people leave such a gaming mecca to go find a Cajun gumbo joint for lunch? My favorite moments weren't the times when I was playing Fallout 3 or Little Red Riding Hood Zombie BBQ, but the times when I was talking and partying with people I had never met before.
The one panel that I made a dedicated effort to be at also had to be one of the best: Destructoid's panel, which was a strange mixture of epic, unpreparedness, balls, and Disney songs. Every time a Dtoider came in, he or she was greeted with a round of applause, especially when Husky Hog arrived as a surprise attendee. The panel went smoothly, and by that I mean it was amazing. I would bet no other panel displayed slides of a man's painted balls or instructions on how to insert a tampon. All the editors in the panel fully engaged even the most morose audience member. And through it all, Niero was just sitting there, beaming, so amazed by what he had created: a successful game blog with a community of gamers who genuinely care about each other.
If I may break from my authorial farce for a moment: Niero, it was amazing meeting you; I still can't believe how down to Earth you are. I absolutely love that picture of you with the giant cardboard signature collector started by Kapkomi. Also, thank you for letting us all pass around the robot helmet like it was a cheap hooker; I'm sure those pictures with you are some of the most prized in many a Dtoider's collection.
After the panel, we had a pretty awesome night. Some of us went to see Anamanaguchi, who were good, even if the sound technicians had no idea how to mix guitars with an NES track well. But soon, as usual, we all made our way to the Red Lion, where once again, Dtoid took over almost all the bar. Hell, they gave us the entire downstairs, where we attempted to record a special Failcast episode with 9 simultaneous mics. (Incidentally, no amount of tinkering from I nor Dyson would get more than one mic to work at the same time. So, epic fail on my part.)
Things started to slow down on Sunday for a while, as PAX wound down for the weekend, but the day was still some of the best fun we could possibly have: gathering together for another Cheesecake Factory visit, filming Dtoid interviews, more drinking at night, and of course, a run to the strip club across from my hotel. Even with a small number of people visiting, there were still memorable moments, such as Coonskin falling asleep, McSnow getting an hour-long lap dance (seriously, we almost thought you had left without us before you came out glowing), and the awkward faces of Macca and I as we had to turn down every stripper in the building because of a lack of funds. If Destructoid had not won PAX by Sunday night, it certainly did then, as Nademagnet managed to get a stripper to pose for a picture wearing only Dtoid stickers. Strippertoid. That's it, game over, pack it in everyone else.
And sadly, we did have to pack it in eventually as well. Come Monday, our numbers had been cut in half already, and it was as though every bit of planning, of walking, of lunch or dinner, we were trying to squeeze out the few last drops of each other's company before regular life called us back. Considering that most of us had never met before this weekend, it's simply - say it with me now - amazing that we had become so close in such a short amount of time. Maybe it was having already broken the ice for months prior in an online setting, or maybe it's just that certain quality of "brotherhood" I've noticed some gamers share, but considering that plenty of discussion wasn't even about games, it's really hard to pin down. All I can say is that I'm really glad I could meet and hang out with so many people that weekend. I seriously love you all and can't wait to hang out again in the future.
For the next few days after I got back home, as I tiredly stumbled around campus, once again situated in "normal life," I subconsciously returned to PAX weekend. I thought I heard people calling "Necros" down the street, and continually turned my head to see who it was. As I was falling asleep in classes, I'd hallucinate that Dtoiders were around me; I even saw their faces as I passed people on the street. It was almost as surreal as meeting everyone in the first place. But it's not surreal anymore.
I think I've gone on long enough, so I suppose that I'll resort to some shout-outs (man, just doing those would have been easier) of people I haven't really talked about in all my previous paragraphs before your eyes droop from reading my gushing memories of PAX. Also, every sentence ends with an exclamation mark. Hope you can overlook that.
Riser Glen - It was so strange that you were the one keeping us in line and out of the cops' clutches. Good times!
FooLiz - How about that Dan Paladin hitting on you, eh? You're so friendly, great to meet you! Glad you got your french toast too!
Aerox - I wish I could hold my liquor like you do. Teach me next time I come hang out!
Butmac - Great to meet you, D!
Kryptinite - Contrary to popular belief, I think you're awesome!
Mid3vol - I only saw you a bit, and I seemed always surprised by your appearance, but it was good to meet you!
Phist - One of the coolest motherfuckers I met at PAX. I need to come hang out with you in New York sometime!
Husky Hog - My man! You were just like I thought you'd be!
Tiff - I never really talked to you on Dtoid before, but you're awesome! Great drinking with you!
Blehman - You seemed so quiet at first, but everytime you talked, it was hilarious!
Hoygeit - I'm sorry I didn't really get to talk to you that much, but you seem like a pretty cool guy anyway!
Dexter345 - I still think you're so much shorter than I thought you'd be. But that doesn't matter, dancing at shows with you was awesome!
The GHost - Wow, I only knew you from those Dtoid cards you did, but dude, you were really cool! We talked so much, and it usually wasn't even about games!
EarthbounderNess - I saw you just hanging around on the second day, just like you hang around the cblogs, and I was so surprised that this tall guy was a Dtoider; good to meet you!
Tactix - Your hat is almost as pimp as you!
CTZ - You looked glazed every single time I saw you, so I know you must have been having a great time. I'm so glad I got to sex you up!
Nihontiger - You're a really nice guy, good to see you! And stop playing Wii Music!
Knives - KNNIIIIIIIIIIIVVVEEEEESSSSS! You're just like you are in IRC, you smiling motherfucker! Way to steal Husky's hat!
Nick Chester - I saw you a bit, sorry for taking so long to upload footage of you not sucking in a music game! Maybe Rock Revolution on Wii is more your deal?
Conrad Zimmerman - You're also shorter than I expect! Dude, you're really cool, thanks for getting Macca and I beers on Thursday night! Sorry I never got to play Rock Band or any board games with you!
ImpossiblePlant - You're always happy! It's disarming! Great to meet you and hang out!
Wardrox - I don't know what went wrong, but you're so much nicer in person than anyone would think you'd be! Good to meet you!
Pheonix - You were so fun to party with, great to talk with you so much! Also, you and Liz are obsessed with the Cheesecake Factory!
Nintendoll - Thank you for bailing me out of easy mode in Pop 'n' Music, because I apparently suck a lot!
Suffocat - We failed so hard at Taiko Drum Master it kicked us out after one song! Good to see you there!
HItogoroshi - Aw, I barely saw you! Good to hang out with you the bit I did!
Power Glove - You're like the cool, silent type...who happens to play Rock Band a ton. Thank you soooo much for coordinating our Rock Band 2 line skip!
Superflossy - I really didn't see you around that much, but thank you sooooo much for helping us skip line to play Rock Band 2!
DJ Duffy - You're so cool to hang out with! Nice to meet and jam with you!
DVDdesign - I should have shoved you into that street the first time I saw you for all the achievement contests you've put me through, but it was great to meet you and hang!
Chad - You were as AMAAAAAZING in person as I thought you'd be! Love you, man!
Dale North - I wanted you to play on Friday night! Oh well, I got my picture with you giving me the finger, that's almost as good!
Asian Joe - I'm almost disappointed that I stopped you from licking my hair that first night - almost! How did I not know you were staying in our hotel?
EternalDarkWing - I saw you...around a bit! Yay?
Rio - It was awesome seeing so many people wear your hats! Glad to meet you!
Ceark - I love how you kept reintroducing yourself to me the first few days! Anyways, good to see you there!
Keener - I really only remember you around when I was very drunk, but good to meet you!
Guitaratomik - I'm calling it now, I KILL PXLS for PAX 2009! I'm happy I got to chat with you so much!
BigPopaGamer - Dude, you and Coon are, like, the same person almost! Good to see you!
Naia - I didn't get to talk with you much, let's change that the next time we hang out!
Itemforty - Hey, thanks so much for that ride the first night! Sorry I didn't get to hang out with you more!
Samit - Thank you for not correcting my grammar when I was drunk!
Droobies - Good to meet you and Amber!
Topher - I barely saw you that weekend, but...I guess...good to see you across the convention center a few times!
Dyson - I don't know why I doubted it, but you were awesome in real life! Felt like I knew you so well, great to meet you!
Colette - You're so personable, it was great to talk with you! Sorry I didn't get to see you that much!
Niero - Thank you so much for creating this community. I would not have been here if it wasn't for your ideas and hard work. I love you, man!
Check out all my pictures in full-resolution over on Picasa!
Also, my band:
And my car:
Here videos of all the amazing musical performances that occurred over the weekend (Video Failcast is coming someday):
Me, Dvddesign, DJ Duffy, and Superflossy rock Rock Band 2
Me, Coonskin, The GHost, McSnow, and Husky Hog fail at Guitar Hero: World Tour
Nick Chester croons on Guitar Hero: World Tour (no calibration issues here!)
Butmac, Tazar, Pheonixblood, and -D- close out PAX on Rock Band 2