Sweet Jesus! A New POST!!
First, Nintendo sent Grandma and I each a brand new DS for... the hell of it, I suppose. They're going to release the Brain Training series in the US soon, and the concept is something Grandma and I would like to utilize to further expand gaming into the isolated demographics of the technologically deficient. The way it's selling in Japan it sounds perfect! That, and Grandma wants to get "smarter." We each got a Mario Kart Edition DS and some games, including Animal Crossing, Nintendogs, Advance Wars: Dual Strike, Metroid Pinball, and Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time.
More full posts about each game in detail are coming tomorrow, but for the sake of lost time, here's a primer on Grandma's current opinions:
Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time - "Awesome! Beat it already. Couldn't put it down."
Nintendogs - I told you she'd never play it. "It's a fucking TAMAGOTCHI with FUR!"
Advance Wars: Dual Strike - "It's like chess. Chess with TANKS." She likes it!
Metroid Pinball - "I wonder how Samus ended up inside Tommy?"
Animal Crossing: Wild World - "What the fuck am I supposed to DO here?! You just run around and TALK to people?!" Yes. "I don't get it."
Mario Kart DS - "Finally!! I'm BETTER than someone ONLINE!!"
Her only previous experience with the DS was Zelda: Four Swords or some such thing, and she HATED it. With a passion. Now she's getting into the whole handheld world, and she even bought two games already because they're "so goddamned CHEAP." She purchased "Final Fantasy IV Advance" (which is actually Final Fantasy II) to fill the bottom slot, and "World Championship Poker" for the top. These two choices personify Grandma's "travel game preferences" perfectly. They are both games she's already played on other systems, so she's comfortable whipping them out where ever it is she happens to be without the discomfort of a learning curve.
Grandma made the front page of the Daily Kent Stater on Friday, which I find particularly amusing because I used to GO to Kent State for a time. A total of five fine examples of the student body came out to the house for the piece, including a still photographer, a reporter, a videographer, a producer, and a sound-technician (I think.) In them I witnessed a cross section of the future of American media. It made me want to buy a bumpersticker or something.
Grandma finally beat Dragon Quest VIII (first run through, anyway) with just over 138 hours. That ending you warned us about? The one precipitated by e-mails begging me to avoid the house at all costs while she fought the final boss?
Yeah. Yeah- I was THERE, man. I was at the front lines; in the thick of The Shit, and Charlie came in the form of one of the longest "endings" to a game Grandma's ever experienced.
I thought Final Fantasy VII's ending was long. Then came Final Fantasy VIII which introduced a necessary "recovery period" after finishing, complete with drinks and a bathroom floor cry-laughter reminiscent of Kill Bill Vol. 2. Now THIS.
"Is it DEAD?!"
"It's not over, I don't think he's really dead."
"You have to control him again!? WHAT THE FUCK!? WHEN DOES THIS FUCKING END???"
"I bet that when you 'escort the princess,' the motherfucker jumps OUT at you and you have to fight him again, Sephiroth style."
"This just keeps GOING and GOING....."
"YES! It's over!! CREDITS!! Japanese names, alright! Now I KNOW it's over."
"......what the shit is THAT?!"
I won't spoil it for you, but let's just say it's FAR from over.
So, we get this e-mail from ESPN The Magazine stating that they'd like to do a story on Grandma. Our first reaction was one of confusion, but it's ESPN so.... yeah. Naturally we said "of course!" They arranged a phone interview through MTV and then informed us they'd like to do their own photo shoot.
"Alright, no problem. When would they like to come out?"
MTV - "Actually, they were wondering if you guys would take all your systems and games and stuff and drive out to Cleveland to a studio to do it."
"....I don't think Grandma would go for that. She doesn't take her systems ANYWHERE, man. They are her babies. If she loses a cord or something, it's my ASS. Is there anyway they can shoot here at the house?"
MTV - "I understand, let me call them and see if we can work something out."
[twenty minutes later]
MTV - "Ok, they want to fly you and Grandma out to New York for the photo shoot. Would she be up for that?"
"I don't know let me check. ....HEY GRANDMA! YOU WANT TO GO TO NEW YORK CITY AGAIN?"
Grandma (playing Kameo with the volume all the way up) - "WHY!?"
"THE ESPN PHOTO SHOOT ...THING!"
Grandma - "FUCK YEAH!"
"Okay, I think she's up for it. When do you want us?"
"They'll arrange for travel and hotel and everything, I'll call back when we know for sure."
ESPN tells us not to worry about ANYTHING, they've got it all covered. We didn't even drive to the airport here in Cleveland, they sent a car. That's when the fun began. First, the poor guy backs into the giant telephone pole in front of our house, leaving a nice little gash on the back bumper of this beautiful Town Car. So I'm thinking "Damn, we better tip WELL." Then on Rt 480 the dude gets pulled over for speeding by a cop who looks really pissed.
"License and proof of insurance, NOW."
Driver - "Um, I don't have my insurance here, I work for the limo company, I'm a driver."
"Well what DO you have?"
Driver - "I have THIS [produces mystical get out of jail free card of wonder]"
"I'll be right back."
The officer goes back to his car holding a card I had only heard about in stories; a legend told by taxi drivers I assumed was a fairy tale. He came back quickly and yelled into the window.
"The speed limit is SIXTY. Slow the FUCK DOWN."
Driver - "Yes, sir."
In the process of calling his people and letting them know the status of his brief law enforcement encounter via a cell phone, he missed the exit for the airport. The whole time, Grandma had a big grin on her face. She now had a story to tell.
Our new DS's greatly altered our airport experience this time. The wait before seating just flew on by, although Grandma and I both received stares as we sat next to each other outfitted with matching DS's, furiously fighting each other to the death in Mario Kart. I'd like to believe in a year or so, no one will think to stare at us and discreetly take pictures with their camera phone upon hearing an older woman complain loudly: "You ALWAYS get to be Yoshi! I WANT TO BE YOSHI, GODDAMMIT!"
When we arrived in New York, another suited driver escorted us to our destination: The Essex House (shown here in a happier season.) At the front desk, a man offered Grandma a hot towel. She thanked him, took the thing, and looked at me with a face that said "NOW what the fuck do I do?!" Somehow, through a series of subtle gestures and grunting noises, the proper etiquette was achieved and a balance was maintained. This hotel is NICE. Great staff, the rooms are gorgeous, the mini-bar is STOCKED, it's just all around "fancy-shmancy" as they say in New Haven, Connecticut. Grandma was curious as to why there was no coffee maker. She was fascinated by the Nintendo 64 controller protruding out of the television cabinet, but she didn't touch it for fear of "racking up too many incidentals."
After a brief walk down to get some food, Grandma called it a night and went back up to her room for what I assume was a few hours of DS play followed by sleep. I wasn't really tired, so I walked down 7th Avenue from Central Park West until I found a bar with live jazz music in The Village, and proceeded to drink until I became pleasantly intoxicated. I wandered my way back to the hotel sometime around 4:00am Monday morning, just in time to grab a quick nap on the ridiculously soft bed.
Monday, Grandma and I really weren't up for much sightseeing. We ate breakfast at Cafe Europa on 57th and 7th and listened to a hilarious cell phone conversation by someone who kept referring to themselves as the "footstool of musical theater." I enjoyed the best bagel of my life, while Grandma experimented with an extra strong Espresso; dwarfed by my soup-bowl like Cafe Late.
She had a radio interview with Playstation Mayhem scheduled to take place at MTV, so we headed over to Times Square early to fuck around a bit until it was time. She bought some DS accessories from Toys R Us and stared at the big dinosaur for awhile. Is it wrong to laugh inside every time one sees a child dragged kicking and screaming from the store by their bewildered parents at the sight of the animatronic beast? If it is, I don't want to be RIGHT.
Grandma is now a veteran when it comes to the Viacom building. She knows which floors have which offices, she knows how to check in at the front desk, she's finding her New York groove. We waited for a bit (we were still pretty early) so Grandma decided to pull out the DS again. I think you can tell in this shot how she pimped it out with a "Psychonauts" sticker. It's sort of sacrilegious to cross platform decorations like that, but Grandma doesn't care. DoubleFine, Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony, Working Designs, everybody.... they're all just friends to Grandma.
After the interview it was off to the studio for the photo shoot. I should preface this by telling the story of "The E-Mail."
While reading the call sheet last week I noticed ESPN was using Jake Chessum for the photography. I immediately recognized the name. As a photographer, I try to remember the names of other photographers when their work strikes me as particularly GOOD. This guy was not one of those. Jake Chessum was a name I recognized from before my "college-networking-name-recognition-plan" came into fruition. He's that big.
I was excited to know I would be meeting someone I admired professionally! So I did the only thing that came to mind. I hit reply on Jeff's call-sheet e-mail and typed something on the lines of "Jake Chessum!? AWESOME! That's cool as hell! He's fucking GOOD!" What I didn't realize is that I did NOT hit "Reply." I hit "Reply All." Among the e-mail addresses on the CC'd list was none other than Mr. Chessum his-own-self.
He was cool about it; he's a groovy enough guy, so the shoot didn't feel tight or posed. He's a very natural photographer, and that's EXACTLY how Grandma likes it. The studio had a great spread at the shoot, so while Grandma did all the work standing there "looking gorgeous" with a controller in her hand; Jeff, the hairstylist, and myself all downed the delicious chicken and mushrooms and olives. Does anyone know the proper name for a water-chestnut wrapped in bacon and marinated? The only word I know that comes to mind is "Mouth-Gasm" and that's not even a real word.
Grandma is sludging her way through all three of her XBox 360 games, and she's got LOTS to say about each. Before I sign off and work on tomorrow's post, I do want to talk about something else. T-Shirts. They were late. I thought some were shipped, they were not, I was pissed, now they really are shipped. I'm VERY sorry to all those who had to wait for their shirts. The worst part was a lot of folks were in the dark for a time while we were dealing with connections and trips and bullshit that should have been taken care of. I don't want anyone to feel ripped off.
The bottom line is, after everyone gets their shirt, I think I'm going to set up a CafePress shop or something similar. I can't depend on others when I make promises personally. Shit just don't WORK that way, son! There's more to it than that, but consider these shirts "EXTREME limited edition" ;)
Alrighty, back to the grind!!