Saturday, July 26, 2008

apparently, this videogame will help me to lose weight

yeah, i finally found a wii fit in stock at Best Buy a few weeks ago. I picked one up since my girlfriend'd been hounding me about it for ages - I wanted to buy one for my folks as well, but I think I will do that on Amazon rather than ship the damned heavy thing myself. Anyway I picked her up from her return flight from China a week ago, she'd been awake nearly the whole flight - when we got to the apartment, she immediately set it up and began jumping around and playing with the thing (I was amazed, I thought she would be completely destroyed from the traveling!) Sure enough, she bonked out after that - it was a funny scene though. I have yet to try the thing, I did the "ball dropping game" for one moment. I wanna get in the habit of using it though, my girth could stand it. Urp.

So not much else to say about games right now. I am playing Mass Effect and Gears of War, but I haven't touched either in over a month (nor have I got very far with either). I just haven't time to cool out in front of the tube right now! More than that, I am just not feeling the need right now either. If anything, playing a bit on my GP32 during the trip - I got sucked up into Rolling Thunder 2 (Sega Genesis) during the flight over there. Good way to kill time, started sort of clumsy and dull (and such had my memory of it always been) but playing through it got enjoyable. I might pick it back up - I believe there's a third as well, eh? Also I played the old Mario Tennis GBC game for a little while. Well-fleshed-out, but man - sports as RPG is sort of hilarious in a uniquely boring way. Make it more risque. Something (it's a kiddie game, I know).

E3 just came and went. Yawn! I don't remember the last time I cared so little. I have barely scratched the surface of going over the show coverage, but really it sounds like there really wasn't much to get excited about across the board. Yeah, of course there was a lot of good looking things to show off, but nothing that smacked people across the face. I guess that's a side-effect of removing the grandeur from gaming's biggest party. E3 now is more like a sad fart. Tough times. At least they brought it back to the LACC. Whatever, I am getting too old for that outright madness when it's on full-tilt-assault mode anyway, or something. To make up (well, more like "coincidentally") I found my way to Vegas last weekend, once again. There's enough madness out there instead, anyway.

Game's going alright. I am working pretty hard, late late nights. Sigh, it's nearly 11PM and I am at the office and it is SATURDAY NIGHT!! I can't wait to get home and collapse on the couch - make that the bed, really. It's a full weekend of crunching for me, and a long week ahead to boot. I need a drink....

..too bad..

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

watch you on the universe!

Zee blog, zee blog - man. I don't feel much like typing, but times have been juicy, and so i must capture them.

Getting used to being back to normalcy, or mostly that- my girlfriend has been outta town, so I have been living the bachelor lifestyle (well, sitting in my quiet apartment). Actually I have been meaning to go out and party more, for the reason that I don't like to do that too much when she's around - she doesn't give me a tough time about it, but personally I don't like showing up at home at the end of the night in an altered state, and making her deal with it. Not that she even complains about it even, and not that I am some overbearing burdensome drunk or something, but I expect it must be quite a drag. I'll put it this way, when I am sober and others are drunk, it's pretty uncomfortable for ME. Anyway if she's outta town, it's a good excuse for me to get it out of my system then. Last week I didn't do anything all week, as I was still pretty beat down due to adjustment (jet lag and all). I did go out friday night, there was a skating event with free whiskey and then we went dancing after. The whiskey did it's job a bit well and I can't say I remember the dancing part..

Saturday was alright, I ran around town picking up stuff for an impromptu mini-BBQ at my place. We'd had a party last month for May's graduation and there was a ton of booze leftover in my fridge to kill, so I called up some buddies and shelled out for a little korean marinated meat and threw that stuff on the grill, and of course we played some videogames (boom blox is the current party favorite). The night went late, of course it was an extremely mellow party (which was fine!) - a sign that we're all getting older, I suppose.

Sunday wasn't much to speak of. My "first day of nothing to do," really. I ran some errands, ate a philly cheesesteak, picked up my apartment, did some laundry. Spent a lot of time yakking on the phone. Sounds kinda pointless to mention this in here, but it was really my "back to nothing to do" day and as such it was NICE. I didn't get some of the extra maintainence-y things done that I'd've liked....

So yesterday, Monday, it was the crazy day. A buddy of mine accepted a job out of town, so we were gonna have a little send-off for him in Little Tokyo (somewhere I've not really partied before). Exhausted, as it was Monday and I'd not really slept too well all weekend, and hey - it WAS Monday! But hell, you gotta do what you gotta. I jetted home after work and stopped by my favorite schwaerma place to get a sandwich before heading out. Waiting in line and I noticed a woman picking up her food in front of me. that? Holy crap, that looks like my ex-girlfriend - who I have not seen, or spoken to, at ALL, in nearly 5 years! I didn't wanna be all weird and just gawk, so I kind of checked it out in the reflection of the window. Yeah, it had been awhile, but it's hard to forget someone you'd dated for a couple of years, lived with, etc. I picked up my food and headed out, looking through the window as I started up my car. It was definitely her, with (I assume) her husband and their kid. Now this was just very weird to me - it was like looking at "what might have been" had things played out differently, like it would be US sitting there with OUR kid. But really it just felt like I didn't belong there, I didn't feel some remorse about it or anything. The weird thing is that I had heard she moved to the east coast some time ago, maybe they were in town for a visit, who knows. This particular restaurant was a favorite of hers (and certainly a favorite of mine!), and was actually quite close to her old house..

As I am sitting watching through the window, I back my car up out of the spot. My parking spot was kind of dubious, unfortunately, and as I am backing up KERRRANG!!! I nearly ripped my poor sideview mirror off the driver's side door (the one I JUST FREAKIN' REPLACED). GAH! Here I am trying to be inconspicuous, I certainly don't wanna be drawing attention to myself now of all times, that sick shitty feeling in my stomach "oh man do I have to replace this expensive shit again?? I just want to LEAVE!" I pull forward and my car, still getting out of this dubious spot, kind of plunks down over the curb, making another loud (and very bad-sounding scraping sound) and I just sort of drag my way out of there "please don't be causing expensive damage!! Fucking car!" Man, it was making me feel all shook up, and at the same time it felt HILARIOUS. Like a scene from a stupid Jim Carrey movie or something. Anyway I scraped outta there without any further incident, got home at and showered and got duded up to go out.

The night was long. It was really weird too, following the already-bizarre setup. Little Tokyo has never been my favorite place, it's really tiny and not very interesting or colorful - just sort of beat up and (dare I say it) slightly pathetic-looking. I mean, if it was a different ethnicity it would be bad enough, but this is freaking TOKYO! It's SUPPOSED to be superkickass! Anyway there are some redeeming things there, some good joints to eat at, I think it just brushes a little close ot some of the gnarlier parts of downtown to ruin it's vibe. Anyway I caught an expensive cab over there (sigh, but what're ya gonna do?) and met up with my small gang of friends. Everybody was pretty loaded by the time I showed up (past 11 in the evening), I threw down a couple of whiskeys to try and catch up - why buck a trend, right? That shit goes down tasting like furniture polish at first, but gets smoother once you follow it a little..

We ended up at a little karaoke-type place up the street. It was pretty dead except for our crew.. I was having a good time, enjoying my buzz and talking with friends, it was alright. Sure enough, a Monday night in LA, and weird shit is bound to go down. I got coerced to go outside on the patio with the others, my friends were hanging out with some hot but extremely slutty looking girls who were evidently very trashed, and talking like it - I mean, cussing up a storm. I don't mind the cussing, but it's a little funny when it's hit-you-over-the-head, especially from the "demure princesses." THese chicks are talking with my buddies, and this real ancient looking Japanese guy, real small, I mean he looked like a caricature of what a little cartoony old asian guy would look like. I think he was bombed as well, arms drapped over my friends, talking in broken english and the guys and chicks were sort of making fun of him, all in good fun though - he was diggin' it. I think he was the dad of one of the owners or something, not sure. Anyway one of the sluts pulls out a pipe and starts loading it up with some green shit, are you kidding me? Man, I gotta give Little Tokyo more credit, this place is lawless. They start hitting that shit, it was kinda giving me the willies "are they gonna call the cops, can you do this? It's not the goddamned 1970s!" Meanwhile the maitre'D is inside watching us, looking very displeased, walking back and forth and crossing and uncrossing his arms, I don't blame the dude. I decided to remove myself from the scene of the crime and go back in to wrap up my drink, last call has come and gone. Back inside, I notice there's a bunch of real drunk-drunk Japanese chicks kinda cavorting with everybody, one of my friends was thinking they were whores - I dunno - it's hard to tell in those situations, I am innocent alright? (right?) Anyway the barkeep took care of us and served us a couple late-night drinks (that never happens) and then we wrapped up and headed out, bade the sluts and whores farewell for the night - yes, it was all very wholesome, I know.

The leftovers of our crew headed out to Denny's, for what turned out to be the weirdest experience I've had in a Denny's in my life, honestly. I won't get into it at the moment, you will have to ask me about that one in person! Finally ended up getting home and knocking out close to four a.m., forgot to turn my cellphone alarm from vibrate to buzz - somehow, miraculously, just the vibration noise woke me up from my precious few hours of slumber. Made it to work, belly a little funny but overall I was able to hang in and do m'business.

Yup, another crazy godforsaken night in the city..

Thursday, July 10, 2008

broke toast

wow, hard to consider the fact that I have been back home nearly a week now from my trip. My head is still spinning from everything, my system is still adjusting to "getting back to the normal routine." It's actually been a kind of depressing thing to go through all of that hectic excitement and then plunk back into the same, normal life from before. I think i just want to do something different, is the problem..

I have been feeling kind of gross since the trip home, just kind of out of it - kind of like an old man or something. A few things I won't go into, I talked enough about it last time, but it's been staying with me a bit (though getting back to normal as they days pass, fortunately). I was hoping to get home and sort of launch into a period of just living wild a little, or something, but instead I feel like I must (still) bury myself with work and be a good boy. Sigh..

Yeah, I am pretty sick of working. I do (and always will) enjoy what I do, ad I am always thankful for my job and all, but damn I have been doing this getting on ten years now (not very long, admittedly) and I feel like I am always just sort of scraping by. I feel like I am specialized for something very particular, but instead I have to make do with this big compromise. I guess a lot of people feel that way - to make it big, you've really got to go out on a limb, and I sure do see plenty of opportunities for that. I am just getting older and tired of those prospects. I want to kick back and get repaid some dues. i don't actually expect that, honestly, but that's the feeling i have in my bones.

Whatever, I periodically whine about such things, this is no news. I guess when I have weird times of my life such as this, wen I break from my routine for a little, it makes it hard not to put it under a magnifying glass as I have just stepped out of it for a brief moment. I am an analytical guy, I think about the choices I have made and the path I have chosen to follow (for a long time now) and the things which have all led me here, and I have this feeling of unfulfillment that just eats at me. I drive to work feeling like "well what else am I gonna do?" I guess I should consider myself really lucky, my personality is such that I can always find that thing in my work to lose myself in, rather than dwell on this to the point where I become unproductive.

It's not helped either by the things I have read lately. All these little things add up - I am glad they do, because it reminds me that there's still this strong energy in me looking for a way to get expressed, even though it's kind of infuriating to not feel like it is getting aimed properly.

Something I realize which bothers me, is I have really come full circle with my life, my personality in a lot of ways. I feel like i have lost my crowd, my place, in my day-to-day life. I am not any longer "where I belong," or rather, I have forgotten how to make that happen. I have had some periods of my life where that was all figured out, and of course I took it for granted (as people do) but it generally filled me with some proper happiness, even if other things in my life weren't quite so well-lined-up. I feel like it's gone now, in so many respects in my life - it makes me feel cut off, distant, something. Since I was quite a loner growing up, it's kind of a natural place for me to be, and so I can handle it - but I do like to think that someday in the future I could realize how to realign my life that way. It's not something you can plan, exactly, it's something that you find, maybe you are naturally drawn to it - or maybe I am just naturally best at operating on my own, in this way, and that's why I have got here.

The future is odd, a lot of things are kind of up in the air right now. I feel like about a year and a half ago, it had occurred to me that the only way to jar it would be to pack up and start fresh, but that seemed like an extreme measure that I should "know better" than to thrust myself into. The thought of escape is always tempting, but then the notion of stability (though it was always so elusive) seems like the more mature thing to focus on in these times - I already know I will stick with it, but it makes me feel torn more often than I like.

I am glad for these times, these experiences - it is frustrating in that it shakes up my foundations, and can generally put some extra stress on my philosophies "why I do what I do, what's the point" (adding to the everyday stress I already manage) but te thing about being an adult, te important thing, is having your choices and the freedom to do what you will with them, with only yourself to answer to at the end of the day. I guess I feel like I am doing a pretty good job, then.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

DATELINE:No more datelines. Back in Los Angeles.

Ok so .. now we wrap up the trip real nice and quick. Because it is very late and i actually haven't slept at all in way over 24 hours.

So let's see. Thursday, I believe, was the second day of our trip in Dong Xing. A bit mellower than the first, it was a hot-gross-hot day. We got up for breakfast of Dim Sum generously paid for by her friends, then we scooted around town with one of them - he owns a store and is one of the "successful guys" of their group. We saw his store being constructed, their town seems to be all about doing lots of retail business with folks from neighboring Vietnam, I believe. They drove us to the beginning of china's highway, which runs up and down the coast - it actually originates right in their town there, by the water, as marked by a one hundred year old plaque put their by the Dynasty in power at the time (Qing?) It was interesting, but so hot and so bright that we were eager to pile back into the car and find some shelter.

Later that day we visited May's old Grandfather, an super old guy who's hard of hearing AND seeing. It was sad, just a little old guy who sits up alone in his room all day! He is cared for by May's family though, which is good. He still has his wits about him, he was a very smart guy - used to be a Principle of a school, I believe. He could remember some English even after not having thought of it for God Knows how many years... His apartment was incredible, I didn't wanna feel rude and take pictures so I just had to try and snap it with my mind. It's not what one would cal luxurious or something like that, but it eked character in that way only very old people's homes can. Very real and very remniscient of a time long since passed. You look out his window and see all the buildings towering over the neighborhoods, the cranes and construction in the distance, and you get the sense that this guy remembers a very different view from a very different world, from the dame vantage point. He had a big picture of himself from.. geez, he must have been in his twenties, thirties, he looked very dapper, handsome young chinese go-getter...

For dinner we at with May's Brother's inlaws. They were very generous to invite us to their home for dinner - I was impressed by their apartment! It's very weird, the way these neighborhoods are setup. Everyone just lives in these up-and down apartments, I am sure there must be some specific name for it. You walk in, remove your shows in this tight corridor, there are a few motorscooters parked right there (indoors) to protect from theft. You walk upstairs... a lounge. Up another level - someone's bedroom. A couple more levels of bedrooms. At the top is the toilet, balcony, and kitchen, So like 6 or seven flights of this continuously tight ascension. It is definitely cool, but strange after what I am used to! Anyway everyone at dinner was very friendly, I was gracious that they were so hospitable, made me feel very comfortable. They keep saying "we wish we could come to US to visit you as well!! (it's very difficult to get a travel visa, for our country... esp from a place like China..)

May's friends wanted to go clubbing with us that night, after the cameraderie of the previous night - but I had an early flight to Shanghi, and we still had a 3 hr bus ride (was it three? Do i remember anymore?) back to the airport, so after dinner we hustled and caught the bus. On the bus, we had to stop at a border checkpoint (as the town we were leaving borders Vietnam, and they don't want any funny business going on). I got the once over from the MP, he made me dig out my passport as I was the only foreign-looking guy around.. fortunately, the hold-up wasn't very long before we were free to be on our way again, but it did kind of put me in my place a little "i am not the norm here, I am the outsider, and as such that means I represent the unknown and possibly trouble when it comes to Johnny Law..."

We arrived in Nanning, local town of the airport, which was hustling and busy and nuts.. but we were exhausted from a busy day, and had an early flight waiting, so just hit the hay in our tiny apartment for the night.

Next day was Friday the 4th - got up, said bye-bye to May, got on my flight to Shanghai, all by my lonesome. It was a couple of hours past noon when I landed, the plans for the day were a little soupy so I checked into my room (stayed at the Galaxy Inn once again, same place I stayed with May -and our tour group- in Shanghai days earlier). It was far from the airport I'd need to depart from the next day, but then I wanted to go out! I showered, and even though exhausted I tidied up and went out for my last night in Shanghai. Told the Taxi "take me to Nanjing!" (shopping area our tour passed by days earlier, seemed like a happening spot).

I was barely out of the cab when some dude comes up and starts talking to me "hello I am a teacher you like like a nice guy have very nice facial features can i practice english with you??" He seemed sort of annoying but it seemed like it might be a good way to start the trek ad maybe he could lead me to a nice little bar or something, and his overweight middle aged-man energy made me laugh, so I said sure, let's go. He led me to some lame coffee shop/bar with the promise of "stunning views" (he pointed to a sign in the elevator that was trumpeting this, and kept repeating it so may times that it became comical to me "stunning view, very stunning view...") Finally I had to level with him. "Look. Okay we are up several flights, and you can see back into the city quite a bit, so technically it IS a view. But it's NOT stunning. You would not show this view to some girl and get her to swoon, it's merely a NICE view. I mean, there's no city lights on yet. There's a bunch of scaffolding up the side of this nearby building, and a couple of disinterested-looking people sitting in front of that huge concert stage over there, by no means is this a STUNNING VIEW. It's an OKAY view."

He kept mentioning famous players from different popular American sports teams and asking about my hobbies and what sports I liked. I tried to get some data out of him but he just looked fat and sweaty and tired as the conversation wore on, being dodgy. I decided to be a nice foreigner when he started pushing it "can i have one dollar of american money for souvenier? shall we drink a glass of wine to celebrate our new friendship?" I finished my beer and we left, he started in "you want me to take you to get some girls?" It's alright pops I do fine by myself thanks!! STUNNING VIEW.

I walked down back to the plaza and them some local girls started chatting me up. We drank tea and they convinced me to eat hotpot with them - it was fun, they were very friendly and just happy to talk to a white guy I guess (I bought them some tea, so they insisted on buying me dinner). they flagged down a cab for me after (the chick actually RUNS ACROSS THE STREET --IN TRAFFIC-- TO GET ME A CAB!) and they wish me farewell as it swallows me up.

I pointed on my taxi card to the driver that I wanted to go to Xi Tan District, or whatever it was called, I dunno, where the nightblub was I'd visited a few nights earlier - it was friday night and I knew it'd be PACKED. I unloaded from the cab, and didn't recognize where I was but figured I'd scout it it a bit, maybe it would turn up (or something would). As soon as I stepped out, some stripper-club-madame freakin' started to let me have it. "You like girls? You like disco? Come! Come with me! Nice disco this way! Nice Girls! We have girls for you! Dance and strip for you!" No, no, I am okay. She keeps on. And on. I just kept walking forward towards I Don't Know Where to half-humor the pushy madame and half hope she'll get the clue and lemme alone. I had a nice little buzz going and I wasn't feeling confrontational. She followed me all the way to the elevator (I found my club!) and then as the doors closed I was free of her.

The club was-a-happening and the girlies was hot. I was happy to be back, the night was young (just past ten), the place was booming, I loved their style, the music was't bad, and i didn't have to wait ages for a beer! I downed a couple whiskey shots to wet my whistle and started for the dance floor. I snapped a few pics of the setup with my camera, I admired it the other night but left too quick to snap any shots - I wanted to do it justice tonight! I got a few really good ones, I am not kidding this place was all Tron for real. My buzz was good, I was no longer having to deal with the Schoolteacher Guy or the Strip Club Madame, I was having fun, then one of the bouncer apes puts his mitts on me, gives me a look like "we don't like you taking pictures in here, wait for one second please.." I didn't know what to expect next - I have been kicked out of clubs by Monkeys before (more than a few times), it's kind of an international vibe. I wasn't doing anything, everybody had cameras, anyway I took the chance and disappeared into the crowd. Then I sought some solace at Our Friend Mister Toilet for a couple of minutes in hopes that they'd forget about it. Well, this place was dark, and really packed, but I was also one of like 5 white people in the whole joint, so I knew comeuppance couldn't be too far behind. A good bit of time had passed, but by now my mode had switched from "good time guy" to "radar detector" so I decided to quite while I was ahead - besides, I needed to be up in a few hours for my flight. Anyway it had ups and downs but it was still a very cool night.

Okay! I am wrapping up now. I swear. So now here's where things get a weird. So.. I woke up today, which was Saturday, July 5 - but, just in China, not for several hours in the West yet. I got up and got my stuff ready, showered, called my girl to say byebye, checked out, hurridly ran out into the HOT THICK SHITTY SHITTY HEAT to the bus parked just outside for my ride back to the (farther away) airport, sat down, okay relax, we got an hour and a half ride in this thing now. Except.. shit, why does my ass hurt? Why does it hurt to sit? Oh what the fuck is it NOW?

I fidgeted uncomfortably on the bus, shifting my weight continuously back and forth for that next 1.5 hours. I looked out the window into the hot hazy day as Shanghai spread open before me, as we rifled thru traffic and then down the freeway. I had been getting eyefuls of Shanghai before, but today was the first time I could freely and truly see it for what it really was, a giant endless HULK of a thing, just spreading and towering and growing out in every direction, out and up, I mean in LA you see the occasional giant crane here or sandblasted building there, and granted on this China trip I'd seen a good excessive amount of 'em in all the little burgeoning cities we'd hectically drifted through, but today, THIS took the cake, it was like all of that times another 750, plus maybe a few more zeroes.. just big, TONS OF cranes, thousands of them, huge crazy buildings going up everywhere as far as the eye could see into the distance in almost every direction. It was endless, it was madness, it was exciting, it made me want to go and build little endless complicated cities of my own, blinking with little "plane don't crash into me!" blink lights and weird neon ads with confoundingly misused English Characters.. Yeah, Shanghai was something else, I tell ya what.

Got to the terminal on time, checked my bag, tried to take a shit - hmmm nothing doing, sit and wait in the stuff gate with all the other folks. Hurts to sit on this bench, I lay across three seats and was a bit less uncomfortable. Damn when does the freakin' plane BOARD already! Weren't we supposed to be on that thing like 45 min ago? So stuffy in here and that damned Brazilian girl is clanging around on those stupid lighty-rollerskates so I can't relax...

Finally, we board, one hour late. My seat is the very back of the plane, sharing the wall with the bathroom. Everytime someone flushes the toilet, I hear the sound of air rushing in to suck out the waste, ad it makes me cringe with it's sudden loud burst, and I think of the poor little girl in Nebraska or whatever whose poor little intestines got sucked out of her body when she was sitting on top of that pool drain which freak-randomly air suctioned her out (and later she died) and it probably sounded like that WHOOSH in the bathroom, and my ass hurts and maybe my guts are getting sucked out also. Awesome. I sat there in that little tight seat shifting and fidgeting for 11 goddamn hours, because it was too uncomfortable to sit to long without that soreness making me insane, i would be awesome if they would just let me lay down in the aisle! (no chance) and HEY LOOK they are playing a movie.. oh. Oh it is Spider-Man 3. Eastern China Airlines LOVES Spider-Man 3. The shittiest of all the Spider-Man movies, and this was the third time I'd seen it on a plane. Ah well, after that they played some chick movies (at least Spider-Man 3 was watchable). If I had half a brain I would've though to put a bunch of movies on the damn 40GB Ipod.. XXXXXXXX.

Anyway 11 hrs. Not as bad as the flight in, though I didn't sleep a wink with the sore ass, but I did manage to plow through the whole entire "Masters of Doom" book in one day (about the id software guys). It was a little cavemany, but interesting to read nonetheless. Finaly - FINALLY we landed back in the states. The last hour was something else. So this was weird, my flight left at 3pm Saturday and now I had arrived at like... NOON Saturday, the same day, and somehow watched a sunset and sunrise over the course of the in-between time. Whatever. Man I have never been so happy to get off of a plane. I launched through customs, changed the rest of the yuan in my wallet for dollars, tried to poop (nope. nope), then hopped on the bus for a bumpy and still uncomfortable, but still relieving ride back. Bus dropped me Downtown, hopped the metro rail to Hollywood, realized I'd got on the PURPLE instead of the RED by accident (it's actually hard to tell, esp. when you've been awake and spacecamping for umpteen bazillion hours... oh thank Christ I wasn't hungover on top of it. Backtracked the subway, got off Hollywood n Vine, got a schwaerma, walked home, did my laundry, saw my jury duty summons waiting for me, threw out the dead flowers, saw the doc and he told me it was roids, soak your ass in warm water and eat this fibre and put these suppositories up your ass. yep, I am old.

Oh and the icing on the cake, I actually cabbed out to the Dr, cabbed back as well (duh), the driver is watching an Armenian Wedding (low-grade) on a little TV in the middle of his dash as he drives. He zooms through a red light taking me back, a car full of extremely angry black people pull up beside him and start screaming, i mean SCREAMING at the dude "What the hell is wrong with you!! You ran that light!! What the hell!! F You!! Get out of your car right now! You get out right now!" And he's yelling back "Yeah F you alright!!F you! Shut up!! F You!!" Armenian wedding video with the blarey music playing on the dash still "F You!!!" I am trying not to spill my coke on the seat. He pulls forward (behind a cop being yelled at by some random dude in the street) and clicks of the Wedding. We drive to Franklin and Bronson in Silence.

Ah, Hollywood.


by the way, it is now 3:30 in the am. I don't know when the last time I actually slept was. Not since waking up in Shanghai at the hotel. I Guess I should go to sleep now. Yeah.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008


Yesterday was our first full day in May's hometown. We slept in a little late, went out to get a phonecard, then met her brother and his little group for some lunch (wontons). After that May and I hopped on his motorscooter with him, for a quick ride to the sidewalk beside the river/Vietnam border, where we sat under an umbrella and ate peanuts, pumpkin (i think) seeds, ice cream, lychee, and drank beer and smoked. This was very interesting, as you could see long thin (1-man) barges running up and down the river all the while, bringing all the leftover crap from other countries to sell at local markets in China and Viet Nam. You know all those old CRT monitors and Televisions that everyone in the US got rid of when they wanted to upgrade to flatscreens and LCD? This is where they all go! You'd see barges full of nothing but TVs, not joking. Many barges full of old clothes wrapped up in bags. Barges full of rubber tubes for bicycle tires or bundles of car tires - it's very weird to just see huge piles of them being ferried back and forth. May's brother said he'd seen barges filled with old Playstations once in awhile...

After a couple of hours of that, her bro gave us a ride to visit her childhood friend who'd just recently had a baby. In Chinese tradition, Mother and Child are confined to the home for the entire first month following the baby's birth, so we had to go to her place to visit her. Her Baby's Daddy was at the office, so we just visited with her and some of her in-laws. Then got picked up for another crazy motorscooter ride with May's bro Ken to head back to his place (which is the same apartment May lived in from age 11-19) to gather the troops for dinner.

The motorscooter rides are pretty wild. I had never been on a motorcycle before, I assume it's pretty similar. In China you just hop on in a pile of people and hold on for all you're worth, as the rider slips and slides in and out of traffic (auto traffic and pedestrian traffic, simultanerously). Since I am a white guy in a city where I have not seen a SINGLE OTHER WHITE PERSON, at all, I get a lot of stares, it is pretty weird. A lot of the double-take look "huh, is that..?"

We had dinner, a lot of seafood (jellyfish, shrimp, crab soup and some ocean fish) and some chicken and beef and sweet and sour pork (and more beer, and of course smoking). Man yesterday was just a ton fo drinking beer all day, I didn't know what I was in for. May's little cousin (7 yrs old) was very cute, she loves seafood. She kept clamoring to eat the eyeballs out of the fish... We retired back at the family's house afterwards, then it was off to meet some of May's old buddies from elementary school at a Karaoke bar.

The bar was alright, they cordon you off into individual rooms and have three monitors ("the mommy, the daddy, and the baby monitor") showing pics of supermodels while remixes of USA and Chinese pop music play. There's plates of fruit, spicy cucumbers, nuts and beef sit interspersed with shot glasses and a seemingly endless supply of beercans. The dudes (salarymen) were sitting there, playing rock-paper-scissors (drinking version) and Poker. They have a dice game called "bluffing" which they sucked me in to, i got pretty good at it - but as i drank more, I got shittier at it. The guys were cool but the game made us all get pretty competetive. Man, at that point I was really wishing I had not been drinking booze all day (I had no idea what I was in for!) Fortunately I was able to keep it together, and as it was only beer, I didn't have to worry about getting shitfaced..

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


what's up, game fiends. I am still on vacation, carousing through the weird bizarre land of China, but thought I would take a few minutes and draft an update to my game-design blog, or whatever one would call this trainwreck, really.

So of course I am quite out of touch with the world of game news these days - hell, out of touch with much WORLD news for that matter - but i do dip in here and there when I can get a moment, just to make sure it's not all gone the way of the dodo. You know, just in case. It sounds like things have been extremely busy in my absence - what's this, talk on an Xbox 360 price cut? Mega Man 9 is a throwback/retro-looking title? Castlevania fighter, and of course the announcement of Diablo 3 for next March (sigh, wish they could push that business back a little further, oh well hmm we will see, won't we. Go Fall!!!) And lots of news regarding all the millions of rock n roll games that seem to be all the rage with the kids these days. Lucasarts layoffs (yeah, more). I am sure there's a bunch of other stuff going on, as the typical summer malaise kicks into videogameland (with no big releases planned for some time). Otherwise, the pre-E3 hysteria sort of generally takes hold and everyone gets ready to be wowed and confused and all fo that, really.

So, Mega Man 9. This certainly looks interesting - can I say that "I called it?" Well maybe I didn't mention it, or figure on this particular instance, but it certainly was the type of very-specific idea I have had going on in myhead for some time, to be honest. I am just a little surprised Capcom was the one to go ahead and bite this time, though I can't say it should come as the hugest of shocks - that would be reserved for a follow-up 8-Bit Castlevania or Ninja Gaiden. Anyway I haven't seen more than the most momentary of screenshots of this thing, but the mind races with possibility. It should be interesting to see how it turns out and all of that, and what the fallout is that ensues. Anyway, lest the world should forget how well New Super Mario Bros. performed on the DS..

In honor of this, I booted up a couple of older MM games. Back in the day, I played (a LOT) through the first 4, by that point I had pretty much had enough. So the last couple of days I checked out 5 and 6 (NES) for the first time in ages and started trying to play through them in earnest, a little. Man. Those games are hard. Not super-duper hard, but they are a bit punishing compared to the ease with which I remember having swept through the earlier ones. Nice looking, each one gets progressively more technically inspiring - though honestly, I will always maintain that Mega Man peaked, for me, with Number Two. It was one of those cases where the game truly oozed with love and devotion, and all the parts gelled. The later ones were certainly cool but it was really getting to feel like a paint-by-the-numbers affair and "enough already," and just not anywhere near as captivating. I mean, if nothing else, none of them just sounded as AWESOME as Two...


Well, another day, another hotel room. May swears this one smells kind of gross though. Hell at this point, everything everywhere smells kind of funny to me actually (nah it ain't bad).

Well, yesterday was a long, long day - a day full of travel, and sitting, and waiting. We got up early to catch a flight from Shanghai to Nanning (airport in Guangxi province) - woke up and hopped in a cab, but we messed up and registered for our flight 5 minutes later than we ought to have (7am). Unfortnuately, the next flight to this province wasn't for EIGHT HOURS, so we had to sit in the airport lobby and gate, and just chill till then. Then a 2.5 hour flight (delayed another half hour, also) and then a 3 hr busride - we got to our hotel at LAST just after 11:30pm. So yeah, my butt is sore from sitting - but then, I have gotten quit egood at that, over the years.

This province, Dongxing, is very interesting. Reminds me of Xi'An in some ways - there's TONS of land development going on here. After we first landed and drove to the bus terminal, we'd pass endless rows of construction machinery, all lined up in front of infinite plazas. The skyline was always dotted with cranes erecting buildings, apartment and business. It looks like there's tons of area to fill and CONSTANT DEVELOPMENT. It's pretty amazing. We rushed to eat some dinner at a local joint and then hustle to the bus terminal, didn't wanna miss another trip! We sat and waited once there, a monitor was playing advisory cartoons trying to inspire people to drive safe. The cartoons were of horrible quality, like if some retarded 6th grader got his hands on 3D Studio Max for the first time 3 months ago and was still trying to learn it. I thought it was humorous how we'd see cartoons of buses running off cliffs and crashing into lakes and etc, before having a dangerous bus trip of our own (it was super-late at night, so not much traffic, fortunately).

This leg of the tour is certainly different, markedly, than the previous parts. It's way more rustic, I guess one would say, out here - also I am pretty much the only white person in town, anywhere! I get stared at a lot. May's brother and his group met us at the bus drop-off last night, we deposited our belongings in the hotel and then walked up the street to a little strip of stores. In front of them on the sidewalk, vendors would setup little roofed-off areas filled with little short plastic chairs and tables, right at the curb they'd set up grills and coolers filled with booze. We sat and ate BBQ pork and chicken and calamari and corn-on-the-cob, and drank a bunch of booze while playing the drinking chinese version of "rock paper scissors." The group was very friendly and it was fun to hang out and finally see people in a non-touristy representation. Wish I took my camera and shot some pics, perhaps we'll do the same thing tonight!

It's just past 9am local time, I rolled out of bed a little while ago, we'll meet a bunch of may's other friends in a couple of hours. NO ONE speaks any English at all over here, except hello or thank you, and I am practicing the local dialect versions of the same. It's pretty difficult for a newb like me to speak chinese, the tones are very delicate.. I am practicing though. Tomorrow will be interesting, I gotta get up super-early to repeat all of yesterday's traveling in reverse and return to shanghai (hopefully, without all the extra 8 hours of waiting!) and make my way through a good deal of it on my own, as the lady and I will part company at that point, for the remainder of the trip. Should be interesting!

RANDOM STUFF - if I haven't mentioned it before, (and I know I have), drivers in china are INSANE. Lanes, street signs, that sort of thing seem to be treated more as a suggustion than anyhting else. Automobiles seem to entrust that they can somehow perturb the laws of physics to fit in between one another. Everybody is constantly honking and beeping at one another, and motorscooters, motorcycles, and bicycles (and pedestrians) are constantly squeezing thru all the moving negative space between the traffic - it is a sight to behold. The typical motorscooter will have a dude on the front and his lady sitting side-saddle behind him with her legs just hanging off to one side as he careens through the traffic. In this current province, I notice a lot of motorcycle setups where three (or FOUR) dudes will squeeze onto a single motorcycle seat. I need to take some pics of this stuff - it is just amazing. I try to imagine any of this stuff in the States, the cops would have a field day!!

Trying my best to maintain my digestive prowess. Can't drink anything with ice in it usually, as it's not purified. That means I drink a lot of booze or warm soda. I can't wait to get home and just chug bottles of water! I am not gonna drink any soft drinks for like 4 months after this trip, I guess..

It's amazing, the clash between old and new that one witnesses out here. Lots of little old/poor people will still be carrying buckets of things supported by a stick held on their back (across their shoulders), justlike you'd have pictured them doing hundreds of years ago. You see this everyday, everywhere, no matter how modern the city. There's a constant juxtaposition of old and new everywhere, even in a super-built-up area like Shanghai. Round a corner of a modern shopping plaza, and you'll find a tight back alley filled with dudes drinking and smoking and hanging laundry on the decrepit-looking facades on their apartment buildings, playing mahjhong in little smoke-filled dens. It's quite bizarre.

The trip has been outrageous, though I do look forward to getting home and settling back into my routine - I feel that there's a tremendous backlog of things waiting for me to deal with! I am psyched to get back to "normal food" as well, hahaha... Just a few more days! Anyway, I have a bunch of pics to post, but that won't happen for some time yet. May put a few up on her myspace page, check them out to tide over in the meantime.