Anyway, it's more than past time for me to get to this. I'm going to see how much content I can cram into this entry and if I'm lucky, I'll be able to get through a fair amount before the urge to stab myself in the eye with a pair of sissors becomes overwhelming.
So, I left off last time describing my arrival in Chicago on Tuesday the week before Gencon. I dunno if I mentioned it, but the entire trip ended up being a bit of a scheduling fubar of sorts. I was staying with Josh and Jasmine, but he had failed to realize that he was going to be out town for a wedding that weekend until pretty far along. Upon getting to Chicago, it turned out that Josh had the dates messed up and instead of leaving friday, he was going to actually fly out Thursday. Jasmine also had to take a buisness trip meaning she would be leaving Monday, right after Josh got back into town. So it basically turned out that my first day in town was the only day where we would all be there without other events swirling around.
I spent most of the day Wednesday driving around Chicago, visiting the chinatown on the south side and some other points of interest. I don't know how they manage it, but the highways are still all frakked up with repair work that started before I even left the city and that was years ago. The construction is so screwy that rushhour never ends now. There was bumper to bumper traffic at freaking 11am and it continued through the early afternoon. I'm surprised that people who need to commute in that city don't go postal after a while.
While in Chinatown, I managed to stumble my way into a movie shoot and got screamed at by a rent-a-cop. I forget now about what was being filmed but I think it might have been the next batman movie. God knows why they don't just put up signs or barricades or something. One stupid rent-a-cop standing on the sidewalk at an intersection dosen't exactly tell me that I'm not supposed to continue along. Maybe I simply ninja-fu'ed my way around their perimeter somehow.
Later that night, Josh, Jasmine and I went to Dave and Busters. They wanted to show me some giant bowling game, which I'll readily admit I had my doubts about. I thought it would be like one of those video bowling games that you used to see in bars a decade go. Those seem to have all been replaced now by golfing or hunting games for some reason. We had a quick meal and then it was off to the bowling machine.
I have to admit this was a hell of a lot cooler than I thought it would be. It's a video screen with a bowling ball on a pedestal that spins. You basically roll the ball on the pedestal and try to steer the giant bowling ball around various obstacles. At the very end, is a set of 10 pins and you try to knock them over. The scoring is just like bowling and you end up playing 10 frames.
We decided to pick level San Francisco which involved freaking hills and a lot of trolleys zipping around. You wouldn't believe it at first, but playing that game actually become a workout of sorts. If you were unlucky enough to collide with a trolley, your only chance of making it up the hill to reach the pins was a frantic spinning of the ball, trying to overcome gravity. By the end, your palms feel bruised and the muscles of your arms ache.
I had a pretty slow start to begin with, guttering quick a few balls and failing to even make it to the pins. I made a run for the win at the end, bowling 3 strikes in a row in the 10th frame. I was so excited at the time, but should have done the math first. Turns out that even that stellar surge at the end wasn't enough to push me into the winner's circle. I managed to snap this picture just as the screen was changing with the final score. Josh pulled out the win and I just managed to edge out Jasmine with my last minute kick. In case you can't squint and make it out, I entered my name into the game as 'lolcat'.
We ended up playing a few other games including one of those racing ones I've never been any good at. I spent most of the game trying to ram Josh off the track. We also took a spin at the new Time Crisis, which is my favorite of the oversized shoot-em-up games. By no coincidence, it's the only one of them that I've ever been any good at. I have this distressing tendancy to die in the first 5 minutes when playing the others.
I took the oppertunity to snap a picture here and there of little georgie. Here he is with the incarcerated plushies. I managed to resist the urge to actually play the crane games. I had enough clutter with me on this trip not to mention an entire room full of assorted whacky dolls thanks to past visits to Dave and Busters.
Jasmine, however, decided to try her luck at the giant crane machine. I don't quite recall what she was trying to pull, but I really like this picture. You can just see the concentration as she slams the button. Josh is in the background there trying to help her triangulate the position of the crane. I'm sorry to say that despite a couple attempts, no giant plushies were rescued from their place of imprisonment.
I've alwyas liked these light gun shooting galleries. I was having a lot of fun setting off everything with my digital camera's flash. A couple of guys were playing and didn't notice me behind them. They seemed quite confused whenever the entire setup would errupt with bells and whistles and movement.
Here's Jas taking a turn and giving me her best Anne Oakly.
So that was more or less the night at Dave and Busters. We picked up some tickets but there wasn't anything really interesting so Jas decided to just save them onto her power card. Since I didn't bring everything in my wallet with me, I had left my D&B gold card at home. I know I must have at least hundreds of points on that sucker unused and while I regretted not having it at the time, it's just as well. The last thing I needed on this trip was more clutter of any sort. It was all I could do to get all of my bags to zip up.
The next day, Josh flew out to Texas for the wedding. I'm pretty sure he said it was a cousin and a preacher or minister or something religious to boot. Personally, I'd rather step on a handful of d4's than go to a wedding, but I guess you just have to grin and bear if it's family though that's never stopped me. My cousin's getting married in a month in Hawaii and I begged off. I know most people would be jumping at the oppertunity but I see nothing pleasant about Hawaii. I hate sand. I hate hot. I hate the scare ball. Add to that I couldn't go into the ocean anyway and I just don't see the point of the place.
I basically loafed around for most of Thursday in chicago. That was sort of my default activity. I had brought a buncha audiobooks with me that I wanted to get through including Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows and I had a case full of DS games to boot. So in general, I had very little incentive to go off wandering around the city on my own unless it was to meet up with friends or something.
When Jas got home from work, she suggested we trek out to a Puerto Rican resturant she knew. Well, you know I was all for that idea considering how much I appreciate trying new and different gastronomical experiences. Ha. Really though, I'm willing to give most things a try as long as it's understood that I'll probably be bitching and complaining along the way. I'm also sure that my tendancy to ask waiters to suggest what they think won't make me want to puke has gotten my food spit in fairly often. We rang Noelle who ended up wanting to come with so we set off to meet her at the resturant.
So here's Jasmine and Noelle at the resturant.
First, I just have to say that the food really was great. I'm not sure what that rice dish was called again but it was fantastic. I could scarf it up by the bowlfull. Everything was good but the rice is what would make me a repeat customer for sure. (Aha! I just did a google search and found it. Rice with Pidgeon Peas. I heartily recommend it. I'd never run into Pidgeon Peas before and was simply glad that it wasn't some sort of euphamism for bird gonads.)
At some point I asked if they wanted to pose with Little Georgie, and of course they did because he's so spiffy.
After dinner we decided to go out for ice cream at a Coldstone Creamery. I'd seen them around before but for one reason or another, had never been to one. It was pretty frakking cool. In addition to normal ice cream flavors in tubs, they also had specialties that they would create on site with the normal ice cream as a base. For instance, I think I got some sort of cookie dough special with all sorts of gobbily gook inside it.
Here you can see the ice cream mixologist doing his thing. They scoop the ice cream onto a chilled board and then mash toppings and other things into it like they were kneading bread. I got my ice cream put into a waffle bowl, something else I had never seen before.
When I went to pay for my creation, I saw this sign on the wall by the cash register. It struck me as being incredibly amusing at the time for some reason.
And here was the final creation. It was huge and around halfway through I would have killed for a glass of water. It never occurs to me that something like this might be too rich. If this dosen't bring on diabetes, nothing will. Luckily, my chances of running into another Coldstone Creamery isn't high.
So that was Wednesday and Thursday. I'll try to tackle the next two days in a single segment too. Who knows when I'll get around to it but it hopefully won't be weeks in between.