Friday, May 31, 2013

Anime North 2013: The Chosen Con

Like the last couple years, I wound up going to Anime North again.  I slept a long time immediately after getting home and, once you read this, you'll likely understand why I was so exhausted.  That being said, let the pointless (not really because I forgot to take video of almost everything) recap of what little I can remember begin!

THURSDAY

-Left at 6am to go pick up the first person.  Oh, right.  I picked up two people along the way this time instead of one.

-Got lost only a couple miles from the person's house because my GPS tried leading me into a property marked by a "NO TRESPASSING" sign.  I had to call him and have him give me directions over the phone to figure out where to go.

 Let's not and say we did.

-Picked up SamuraiKH2, one of Zeromaster's abridger friends.  His car conveniently broke down a week or two before the con and, since we both live in the same state and he was only a small detour away, I gave him a lift.  He rather generously helped cover part of the gas costs.

-Zeromaster texts me about an hour or two after picking up Samurai asking if I had his address.  Samurai and I took this as an opportunity to lead Zero along so I said no.  He then asked if I had his phone number.  Again, I said no.  Samurai then gets a text from Zero asking for his number and address.  He sends them to Zero, Zero sends them to me.  I follow it up by saying my GPS couldn't find Samurai's house, which was technically true.

-Eventually text Zero that I found Samurai.  By this point we're actually about two hours ahead of where I said I was.  My last text to him was an "optimistic estimate" of 7pm for our arrival time.

-Cross the border into Canada with little trouble and end up at Blondeguygamer's house around 11am, but not before Samurai sends a text to Zero that the border patrol made us stop so they could do a thorough search of the vehicle and maybe ask a few more questions.

-Arrive at the hotel a little before 2:30pm.  That was a half-hour before the guy who reserved the room, Ace, would arrive and check in so we could get into the room.  At some point before this Samurai texts Zero again saying we finally left the border station and were headed to Blondy's place.

-Move everything into the room.  I had a big cardboard box I hid my sleeping bag and pillow in so the front desk would be none the wiser.  Tactical espionage action!

-Zero arrives a couple hours later and almost immediately strangles me.  Jokingly, of course.  He then gives me a bunch of mogul/manager sports games, and a WWE trivia DVD from 2006.  Since then, Pro Cycling Manager 2007 has by far gotten the most time put into it.

TEAM DISCOVERY CHANNEL

-We all go to the Double Tree, one of the three locations where the convention takes place, to pick up our panelist badges in advance.  It turns out they were using the hotel's wi-fi connection to handle their records and, shockingly, this made the whole process really slow and even grind to a halt at several points.  It took us about an hour and a half of waiting in a relatively short line to get out.

-By this time, Unreal had texted us saying that he arrived by train at Union Station in Toronto.  Wizwar100 comes with me to try and act as a guide, but this proves to be of little help once we hit downtown because Union Station is virtually surrounded by construction and has no good place to stop for pick-ups, unless you illegally park or pay out the ass for a nearby lot.  We circle the area before eventually coming to a dead end where Wiz got out to head to the station.  I was forced to leave so I wouldn't block traffic behind me from being able to U-turn out.

-With Wiz going to the station to find Unreal and lead him out, I am completely lost in downtown Toronto.  My GPS doesn't recognize about one-third of the streets in the area and I can't find my way back to where I dropped Wiz off earlier.  Eventually I say fuck it and find a place to stop (probably illegally) next to the Rogers Centre, aka that place where the Blue Jays play.  I almost immediately get surrounded by taxis and what appear to be valets.  Oh, and a bus.

 How my GPS reacts to downtown Toronto addresses.

-I call Wiz and tell him roughly where I am.  It's only in retrospect that I realize I'd stopped about four blocks away from the station, meaning I'd have to wait a pretty long time for the two of them to find me.  I call Wiz one last time to try and see where he is relative to me, but my phone dies.

-Several agonizing minutes later, Wiz and Unreal find me and we quickly load up the car and leave... or at least try to.  Toronto fucks with my GPS again and we end up turning into a couple dead-ends and, at one point, going in a circle.  Eventually Wiz helps guide us out of the city and we return to the hotel.

-It turns out we had enough people staying in the room that the beds and virtually all the floorspace were taken for sleeping.  Faaaaantastic.  I, as usual, slept on the floor.

FRIDAY

-I get some sleep.  Sort of.  Two, maybe three people in the room snored.  Since I already got my badge the previous day, I stayed in the room and ran some tests on WWE '13 for the RiverCityGamers panel happening later that night.

-Eat at Subway before the con?  It's a tradition now, I think.

-I throw on some gear to sort of look like my WWE '13 create-a-wrestler for the panel later that day.  When we get to the convention centre, we see a lin e that extends out one of the doors and spirals several times around the parking lot.  This, apparently, was the line to the dealer's room.  Most of us say "no thanks" and head over to the Sheraton where the game room n' shit are located.

-The same guys are there from last year running a Duck Hunt challenge.  Basically they set up a couple stations running Duck Hunt and keep track of people's scores for the whole weekend, with whoever does best at one duck winning a t-shirt and whoever does best at two ducks winning a retrogen system.  Wiz played two ducks and set what was, at the time, the current high score.  I played one duck and, after my arms got tired and my contacts started to dry out, I ended up with the current high score of 689,700 points.  So, for at least Friday, RiverCityGamers held the top spot on both score challenges.

 What?

-Eventually we all decide to have some dinner before we do our panel (or Zero's case, panels).  Instead of going to the same place as last year we went to Montana's.  I got the chicken penne and loved every bit of it.  Also, the waiter we had was into a lot of the same fandoms we were and he had a good sense of humor about it.  He was tipped generously.

-Dinner runs a bit later than we thought it would.  While some of Zero's buddies for the 9pm abridging panel get there ahead of us, Some of us had to stop by the hotel to get things we needed for that or the RiverCityGamers panel, which was immediately afterward in the same room.  I ended up driving some of us from the hotel to the convention centre, dropping some of them off, then miraculously finding a parking space that wasn't too far away from where I dropped them off.

-The abridging panel goes pretty well.  By pretty well I mean the staff capped the attendance because it was standing room only.

-Time to set up for the RCG panel.  Most of the people cleared out, though some stayed behind.  At least we wouldn't be talking to an empty room.  I hook up my 360 to the TV and get WWE '13 booted up, even though it won't be used until near the end of the panel.

-At the panel we start by announcing CanadianJutsu as a new member of the site.  I show a promo for the last part of "I Wanna Play Escape from Bug Island!"  the date of the finale is listed as "whenever the hell I feel like it."  Someone asks if I feel like it yet.  I smile and say no.

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*SPOILERS FOR THE ANIME NORTH RUMBLE AHEAD*
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How do I humor?

-After Blondy and Wiz show their videos and we answer a couple questions, I start up the rumble.  Zero ends up coming out first with Harry "Loadsamoney" Enfield.  Zero eliminates him in under 30 seconds.  In an awkward moment, Onirokaku comes out wearing a USA top hat and eliminates Zero, who was wearing a Canada sentai suit.  Other guest entries included Bill Cosby and wrestler-turned-zombie Booker T-Virus.  Eventually it comes down to CanadianJutsu (in his debut match), Bill Cosby, Unreal, and Blondy.  Cosby gets eliminated quickly, CJ gets curbstomped when Unreal and Blondy double-team him, and Blondy eventually wins it for Canada.

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*END SPOILERS*
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-After the panel we make our way back to my car and the hotel.  We start watching Miami Connection, which I now own thanks to a random song in the credits of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon.  There was much laughter.

SATURDAY

-After kind of sort of getting some sleep, I end up putting on my only real cosplay of the entire con: The Chosen One from Kung Pow: Enter the Fist.  With gopherchucks!

-Drive to the convention and get one of the last few dozen parking spots left open.  Seeing no big-ass line to get in the building outside of registration, we head inside and make for the dealers room.

-End up buying two games on the first run through the dealer's room.  One is Rival Schools for the Playstation, something I never thought I'd be able to find in decent condition with the original box and instruction book for only $40.  Zeromaster helped me cover the cost for it, since I was going into the con with less money than usual. (I'm still paying you back for that somehow, you damn Canadian!)  The second is Magic Carpet, which the vendor mocked for how bad it was.  Too bad I played it before and liked it... about 16 years ago.

-Moments later I end up at another video game vendor.  This one has a few oddities, but the one that catches my eye is the stack of five still-sealed brand new copies of Vampire Rain sitting on a lower shelf.  Out of morbid curiosity I asked how much they were selling for.  The answer? $2 each.  Make that THREE games I bought on the first runthrough.

-There was another game vendor that had a decent selection, but really high prices on almost everything.  They were trying to sell Bloody Roar 4 for $40.  I laughed.  Out loud.  In front of one of the people running the table.

 It was priced higher than Mike Tyson's Punch Out!

-At some point we head back to the hotel where I make the second coming of the con burrito.  This time it included mini Nestle Crunch bars, rice noodles, Nerds, Koala March chocolate things, and Wheat Thins.  It was... about what you'd expect.

- Eventually we form a giant group and head over to Sushiya for an early dinner.  It took a while to be seated because our group took up, oh, one-sixth of the total seating available.  I got the chicken teryaki and messed around with Cassie (another abridger friend) and Wiz talking about kanji/hiragana writing.  Turns out I'm actually retaining some of the shit I do in class!

-After that we carpool our way to Playdium in nearby Mississauga.  They have a deal where you can pay $25 on a Saturday to get unlimited play in the arcade for four hours.  We got there around 9pm and the place closed at 1am, so it worked out well for us.

-Oddly enough, the first thing I went for was a Rolling Stones pinball machine.  Somehow I wound up having 3 balls in play at the same time and earning a couple free balls.  Why do I keep going for the pinball machines first?

-Some of the machines were changed.  Primeval Hunt and Terminator Salvation were still there, but instead of the original machine T.S. was running on a duplicate of the nearby Aliens Extermination machine.  Also, there's some bullshit 3D glasses horror rail shooter called Dark Escape 4D there now with a flashing graphic of a woman screaming on the back of it and a giant cube hanging over it that has screenshots posted on it.  I think the fourth "D" is for "desperate to be liked."

-Blondy and I try the machine next to it.  I don't remember the name of it, but it's a pirate-themed rail shooter with two gun turrets which encourages shooting targets together for score bonuses and a wheel in the middle used for dodging shit and steering ships.  We breeze through it, set a high score, then the game resets and brings up a main menu with PS3 button prompts in the lower right.  The game was running off a PS3 the entire time!  How many other machines are set up like this?

-Unreal and I try Dark Escape 4D, despite our better judgment.  I find what looks like an empty bottle of some kind of alcohol in the bin where my 3D glasses were sitting.  Because of that and our not taking this crap seriously for a second, we forgo the 3D glasses.  Thankfully the game has a 2D option.

-As we're sorting things out, the game flashes a blatant ass shot of the female lead.  By flashes, I mean it holds that shot for a solid three seconds.  Oh joy, it's that kind of game.

Totally not the SAW guy.  At all.  He has a mask instead of a puppet!

-I discover that I can't properly play the game without taking my gloves off.  The game has sensors in the gun grips that measure your heart rate.  I notice that before the game even starts, Unreal's heart rate is just naturally higher than mine is.

-The game is your average low-grade horror, pop scare marathon in rail shooter form.  It measures your heart rate after every pop scare to determine if you've "panicked" and uses that as part of your score.  We decide very quickly to just play one level and leave this shit to someone else.

-At the end of the stage the game says I panicked 3 times out of 9.  It also says Unreal panicked 8 times out of 9.  Yup, this was a load of shit.  Moving on!

-There's a DJMax Technika machine, but it doesn't work with the 4-hour plan we got.  Dammit.

-There was a Tank!  Tank!  Tank! machine there.  Maybe I'm jaded because I played it on the WiiU first and didn't like it much, but the game still seems really unremarkable in its original form.

-After Burner arcade machine that tilts around with the aircraft?  Well of course!

-I didn't realize until really late that the four-hour plan worked on the DDR machine.  Still enough time for Wiz and I to get completely exhausted playing it, though.

-After walking around the arcade, I realize Playdium has some sort of fetish for the arcade machines that have two guns and a wheel in the middle.  There are at least four of them in some form or another.

-Before returning to the hotel we head straight to Harvey's, where Unreal films an episode of Menu Madness.  I blow my American cover when I order something as "plain" even though Harvey's has the burgers put together in front of you.

SUNDAY

-Before doing much else after waking up, I do one of my only videos of the con.  It was dumb, and will likely end up on my YouTube acting as a link to this blog.

-Head to Subway for breakfast.  My breakfast of choice?  Meatball marinara.

-Before going into the dealers room we wander around the artists area.  Zero ends up buying me and Blondy a poster featuring all the Silent Hill protagonists.

-Get back to the dealers room and end up buying River City Ransom on the GameBoy Advance.  About time that thing got some use.

-Do a little price comparison.  The last couple years I thought about getting a Decepticon hockey jersey.  Yes, they sell those.  Canada.  Anyway, they cost around $110.  This year I noticed another dealer that was selling Decepticon basketball jerseys.  The price?  $40.  GUESS WHO JUST SAVED $70?!

Transformers: Vampires in Silent Carpet Schools

-We head to the Sheraton to get at least one song in on Rock Band, which had a smaller setup than it did last year, which had a smaller setup than the year before that.  We also find out the Duck Hunt guys stopped taking scores and would announce the winners a little later.  Unreal and I manage to get through "Holy Diver" before heading over.

-The guys start with the one duck scores.  A guy named Andrew finished first, but he didn't show up to the announcement.  Since they had a physical prize to give out they defaulted first place to the second place score.  Apparently my score from Friday was good enough for second overall and default first place!  I won a Duck Hunt t-shirt as well as $30 to spend at a nearby candy stand.

-For two ducks, the guy that won had apparently been trying to win for a couple years and finally got first this year.  A bunch of other names were announced from the list, among them the now-default second-place finisher, before Wiz eventually earned $10 to spend at the same candy place.

-My pick-ups included chocolate-covered pretzels sticks, chocolate AND sprinkle-covered pretzel sticks, some sour candy called Toxic Waste, some Mario candies that tasted like Runts, another fruit-based Mario candy, some JellyBelly, and a bunch of other shit I can't begin to remember.  As soon as I got back to the hotel room I said anyone was welcome to have some because there was no way in hell I could eat everything on my own.

 This is all the candy that survived the trip home.

-At some point we go to Harvey's again.  Unreal shoots another Menu Madness before we go back to the hotel.

-We begin shooting something Unreal's been working on for months before going back to the hotel to finish watching Miami Connection, as well as it's deleted sce- THIS MOVIE HAS DELETED SCENES?!

MONDAY

-I woke up around 5:30am after getting next to no sleep.  It's one thing to have someone in your room who snores, but having four people who snore made it impossible for me to get any sleep, which I'd need plenty of for the more-than-8-hour drive home.  I resorted to dragging my pillow and sleeping bag into the bathroom, (the wall at least partially helped block the sound) sleeping on my side so one ear was blocked by the pillow, and using the one non-busted headphone for my mp3 player on the other ear.

-Drove Unreal to Union Station, or at least tried to.  Like before, there weren't any good places to stop and let someone out.  Also, we weren't entirely sure where the station even was.  After vaguely remembering a map of the station Zero showed me the night before, I eventually stop and ask a random person if we're close to the station.  When she said something along the lines of "it's right over there" I immediately stop (probably illegally) and let Unreal out.

-Got back to the hotel around... I don't even know what time, but I fell asleep again.  Or at least tried to.

-By noon we're packed up, checked out, and I proceed to drive home, dropping off Blondy and Samurai on the way.

-Get home a little before 8pm.  I remember checking the mail, having a drink and/or snack, and unloading the back seat of the car before taking a "nap."

TUESDAY

-Well, that was a nice 16-hour nap.  So much for going to work that day.