Grandma in New York City: Days 2 & 3
She knows she wants me to get the goddamn camera out of her face so she can get back to her brand spankin' new XBox 360.
MTV thought she should have one handy.
Thursday morning Grandma and I made the short trip from the Millennium Broadway Hotel over to MTV studios, less than a block away. We briefly went over the day's itinerary before they whisked her away for makeup and wardrobe. Grandma isn't really a "foundation and lipstick" girl, so the experience was a bit strange for her. She enjoyed it nonetheless. Suzie was also getting ready for the cameras, and had an interesting conversation with Grandma about an icon of Times Square ;) Grandma really liked Suzie; she didn't quite recognize who she was until halfway through the conversation.
Grandma was familiar with bluescreen work from watching embedded "making-of" videos for certain games that utilized the technology, but she had never seen a studio before, let alone WORK in one. The studio's windows were just a floor above Broadway, and the gathering crowds combined with NYPD cruisers and honking taxies were silenced by thick sound-proofing and giant face "Yo" banners that adorned the building. Everyone in the studio worked quickly to set the lights and position the camera for the chroma values relayed via headsets from an unseen control room. Grandma was given short instructions on the coming shoot, and we all tried to explain to Grandma the relaxed nature of the shoot; that she could simply be herself, and they would edit and bleep out anything that didn't meet standards. "You can just say what you think about the games, just be honest- tell us 'in your own words' what you felt while playing..." said one.
"You can use the language that you're accustomed to using in this, it's okay- don't try to censor yourself" said another. Grandma tilted her head a bit as if to say "...excuse me, I think I need a bit more clarification on this point." Someone in the control room noticed her obvious confusion and chimed in; the voice of god, booming over the studio causing everyone without headsets to look up:
"Just say whatever the fuck you want."
Grandma burst out laughing. She understood.
If you ever wondered what its like to be on camera in such a place and you happen to ask Grandma, she would probably say "it's really fucking BRIGHT." Four large arrays of lamps plus numerous overhead spotlights illuminated Grandma to such a degree that if she were to remain on set for too long, the concentrated photons focused by her bifocals would have burned holes in her eyeballs. In her words, it was "awesome."
Grandma nailed her reviews with ease, surprising pretty much everybody. We were way ahead of schedule, so Grandma got to meet Seth Green for a minute or so before he went on TRL. Rather than slobbering on the man about Robot Chicken, Family Guy, Buffy and Austin Powers, Grandma just treated him as he treated her, as just another gamer. He was in a hurry, but it was very cool of him to stop and say hello to Grandma.
During a break, Grandma and I got to grab some lunch and do something she's always wanted to try: a carriage ride through Central Park. It was a dreary winter day in New York, so I don't think she got the full experience, and the trip was with me, Mellissa and Jessie; me with my big honkin' still camera, Jessie with his big honkin' 3CCD video camera, and Mellissa with a big honkin' boom microphone- so it was, shall we say "less than romantic." She loved it, however. The whole time the four of us were bullshitting about video games, so she had a blast.
Damien presented her with a tour of the TRL studio space, and gave her a gift that has to be seen to believed. Grandma has used a cane ever since her knee started acting up again, and MTV knew this- so they made her a functional cane with a mounted Logitec wireless XBox controller, pimped out with G-Hole insignia, so that she may walk down any red carpet that appears before her with confidence. West Coast Customs lost out on this one, it was all "the prop guys." We salute you, O prop guys of MTV. It's a hell of a cane.
Grandma stepped up to the window to see the crowds below, and for that moment, she was a rock star. She waved, they waved; she was excited and a little embarrassed simultaneously, but it was great. While she was distracted by a moment of window-induced fame, Alex snuck up behind her with a large cardboard box and said "we got you a little something Grandma."
Grandma turned around just as the box was opened.
Inside the box, Grandma recognized a logo that had proved unattainable for two excruciating months. Her self conscious awareness of the scrutiny outside that window flew away, and there on the TRL stage, Grandma and her XBox 360 met for the first time. She received the Premium Package XBox 360 with an extra wireless controller, games, and other goodies to assist Grandma in her new position as Senior Games Correspondent.
Later that evening, Grandma and I went down to St. Mark's on a recommendation by cxc and Brett Alters in the comments section of our last post. We couldn't afford the clothes, as most of our money had already gone towards taxis and endless trips to Delis, Pizza shops, Chipotle, and McDonalds, but good lord that game shop was sweet. They had a copy of Intelligent Qube in mint condition for PS1. You know how long we have tried to find that bitch?! They had Intellivisions, Ataris, TurboGrafix 16s, Nintendo, Genesis, The 32x (but not the best Star Wars game ever to grace the system; they said it would be in on Monday), and pretty much every video game Grandma had ever played. We knew where to go on our next trip out, and we're bringing cash this time.
We went directly from St. Mark's over to Union Square Theater for a screening of the movie Grandma's Boy. I felt sort of ill during the screening from all the pizza I had consumed, so I wasn't up for a comedy without alcohol of some kind, and Regal cinemas doesn't serve beer or mixed beverages. We ordered a giant bucket of popcorn, a large Cherry Coke for me and a large Diet Coke for Grandma, and prepared for our first ever movie screening.
The first thing we noticed is that certain sections we roped off for those like us who were "on the list." The scrolling marquee outside the theater had no mention of the flick, so it took some whispering employees for us to find the number. We had fairly good seats and everyone was really polite. Grandma loved the moments in which the elderly characters accidentally became stoned. She laughed an unusually loud cackle on this scene, which tells me there are things about Grandma I didn't know. I would give a full review of the movie, but it was really just a treat for Grandma, and she seemed to like it enough so I don't want to ruin things with my own jaded opinions.
We went back to the hotel, completely worn out from the excitement of the day- and immediately removed the XBox 360 from its neat, airport-ready package to hook it up to the flat screen television in the room. Imagine you're in the 47th floor of a gorgeous hotel overlooking Times Square and The Chrysler Building (which Grandma noted as the final level of a Parasite Eve game) with all of New York City just an elevator ride and a taxi hail away; and there is a brand new XBox 360 with that sweet smell of static wrapping paper snug in its box, what are you going to do?
We plugged in the 360 of course.
Grandma and I played a bit of Kameo, but we learned fast that the tiny speakers in the hotel room don't do the large screen justice, so we were afraid to try games like King Kong and Condemned here rather than at home. She was fascinated by the Dashboard system and fell asleep playing Hexic HD; knowing full well that any achievements she racked up would be wasted when she transferred her Microsoft given XBox Live account (thanks againTriXie!) to her new machine, but who cares. It's HER XBox 360. It already has a name. "The Beast."
I am completely in awe of this thing. Within five minutes of hooking the fucker up, I had already plugged in a Nikon D100 via a USB cord and uploaded a background image for Grandma, and also plugged in my iPod and was grooving to some music while trying to beat her Hexic high score.
Oh is it nice ;)
Let's just hope the games are good. A brilliant system is worthless without great games; so Grandma is about to do some serious "reviewing." This creates an interesting contrast of opinion for Grandma; if a game is good, then "of course it's fucking good! It's a next-gen system with a good developer!!" If a game is mediocre or bad, then "oh Jesus fucking Christ on a CROSS, WHAT a disppointment!!!! WHAT THE FUCK!?" So far, Grandma is digging Kameo; and King Kong has intrigued her- but that is neither here nor there, I'm getting ahead of myself:
Grandma got up extra early for a whole SLEW of radio interviews, and everyone was incredibly nice to Grandma, so thanks guys. The first was at the ungodly time of 7:10am in Jeff's office in the Viacom building (NICE view from up there) with the Mattie in the Morning in Boston (great bunch of folks.) Then breakfast with Jeff (who worked on GTA at Rockstar previously, so the man's a gamer- the three of us get along great; we dig the same stuff.) All of us drove down to the CBS Broadcast Center for Grandma's radio tour, named as such because she magically traveled the country in disembodied voice form. Grandma was on XTRA in San Diego, CA; KXJM, Portland, OR; WJBX, Naples, FL; and KRBZ in Kansas City, KS. Grandma had a blast, especially on the taped shows in which she didn't have to worry about the FCC monetarily ripping out her vocal chords for certain forbidden phrases she uses sometimes.
THEN she had a photo shoot back at MTV which was all kinds of awesome; (I'll show you the shots they took soon; the man was GOOD.) As an unexpected benefit of the shoot, they had a PSP and a DS there which Grandma quickly used for "educational" purposes. Grandma also has to play Guitar Hero now, everyone is telling her to try it, so she's GOT to see that thing. After it was over, Grandma and I took a cab down to Chinatown to try that Dim Sum cxc told us about (Grandma liked it, I still prefer pieces of dead animal in my food instead of vegetarian dishes; no offense, it's just a personal taste) and grab some souvenirs for the family back home.
[Also, four-inch nerf foam nunchakus are not to be placed in carry-on luggage, donchaknow.]
After Chinatown, we went back to MTV to collect some things we left there, give them stuff we thought they'd like, and say goodbye to the folks that made NYC Grandma's second home. They didn't overly flatter Grandma, or shower her with heavy, unnecessary compliments; nor were they rude and snobbish, treating her like some Midwestern hick. They were very cool. They were sincere. They were great; and Grandma can't wait to work again.
So! We have a lot of news coming up, a lot to share on the site, a lot of t-shirts to ship out to you (if I haven't e-mailed you yet to verify your size and address, I will in the next couple days, I like to do everything personally; also, it may take some time to get there, please be patient!!) and the Old Grandma Hardcore Grandma's Boy Grandma Giveaway Thing is still going strong, so make sure you e-mail me to be included in the drawing for the gift packs. ...I know I'm forgetting something... shit. OH! Remember, Grandma's gamertag is "OGHC" so look for her online. We have a lot more posts coming, folks.
A LOT more.