By JJWeatherman 20 Comments
It’s been a good while since I’ve written one of my weekly blogs. In fact, it’s been three weeks now. I wrote another blog explaining my situation, so you could read that if you actually care. Not much of a situation, really. Basically I just got lazy a couple of weeks ago, and last week I was on vacation! I’ll tell you all about it in a minute. I also have bought a few video games since my last weekly blog. Such games include Beatles: Rock Band, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, and L.A. Noire! I’ve had plenty to keep me busy lately, which is always good. I can’t talk too much about Brotherhood because I’ve been neglecting it so far for other games, but I guess I’ll just mention up front that it appears to be an Assassin’s creed game--therefore it’s awesome.
My birthday actually took place during this blog outage as well. I turned 21 on May the 12th! Thanks again to everyone who wished me a happy birthday, whether it was via Twitter, GB, or wherever. That was awesome. I ate so much cake. SO MUCH CAKE! Oh yeah, and I drank liquor too. I heard that that’s a thing you’re supposed to do. The previously mentioned vacation that I took was actually a birthday gift. My family packed up and drove down from Oregon to L.A. to see Conan O’Brien live. I dubbed the trip: Conan Quest 2011!
I don’t feel great about these banners this week. Black, black and more black. So uncreative. I disappoint myself. I’ll get over it, though.
But on to what’s really important: Conan Quest 2011! I’ve always been a pretty huge fan of Conan. Ever since randomly catching one of his Late Night shows, he’s been my favorite talk show host by far. He’s a breath of fresh air in comparison to Letterman, Leno, etc. I just love Conan’s antics; what can I say? Obviously I was very excited after opening up a birthday card to reveal my ticket confirmation email in all of it’s glory. I’d never been to the taping of a show before this, so I didn’t know what to expect. But whatever! I was going to see Conan! There’s no way that could disappoint!
The long drive to L.A. began last Saturday morning and didn’t end until Sunday afternoon. In case you didn’t know, driving somewhere between 900 and 1,000 miles away takes effing forever! Luckily I had my methods of entertainment. I had my laptop, a book, and of course my phone. I should have known how terrible the T-Mobile coverage would be driving down I5. It’s hard to send text messages or browse the Whiskey mobile sites when you’re losing signal every minute or so. what’s worse is that even when I did have a signal, it was always GPRS (holy cannoli, that’s slow) or Edge (slightly better, but still awful). I hate T-Mobile sometimes. But enough complaining! I was sufficiently entertained most of the trip.
Now, technically the Warner Brothers Studios aren’t really in L.A. They’re actually in Burbank, which is just a few minutes out. The studios are also just a short drive from my uncle’s place. Score, we didn’t have to pay for a hotel! I’d never been to my uncle’s place before, but it's nice! He lives in Pasadena, and man is that a rich neighborhood. After arriving, we were taken on a little drive around the streets of Pasadena. There’s literally road after road, all lined with awe-inspiring mansions. BMWs, Porches and even Ferraris were commonplace. I’d never seen such concentrated wealth before; It was completely nuts. Being a fairly rich neighborhood, there were lots of nice restaurants around. Luckily my uncle knew of all the great ones, so we all ate well. I decided to test the salmon from like three different restaurants (I’m unadventurous like that). Each place had very different styles though. One was served over the most amazing risotto; oh my gosh, that was outstanding. We ate at a steakhouse too, and the salmon there had a delicious smoky grilled flavor. Oh, I do love my salmon. Mmm. If anyone’s ever planning on moving to California, Pasadena would probably be a good place to look. Lots of cool stuff there.
Monday was the day of the show. The day started off well as we ate at a fairly fancy breakfast place where I had the best waffles I’d probably ever tasted. Maybe a bit too sweet, but that’s my fault for pouring too much syrup. Anyway, the first thing you do before the Conan show is park in the WB parking garage at Gate 8. You then take an elevator or stairs down to floor one where you go through a security check and check in for the show. It’s so weird though because they just set up a metal detector gate in the first floor of this parking garage and then there’s a slew of benches for everyone to hang out on and wait for the process to begin. Depending on how early you show up, your group gets a number, and that determines the order you leave for the studio, and in turn, the order that you’re seated. Getting there earlier will net you a lower number and potentially floor-level seats. I wasn’t floor level. I was actually about 5 levels up, but it was still a great view. But I’m getting ahead of myself. After our number was called from the parking garage, you’re lead in a single-file line across the street and eventually to another holding area. It’s like you’re cattle being herded and lead to slaughter! But it was fine; anything for Conan! After even more waiting, they finally lead everyone from the second holding area through the studio lot all of the way to studio 15. It was fun passing by all of the other WB studios. They all have a plaque outside of them that lets you know what movies were filmed there. I didn’t have a lot of time to read, and by this time camera phones were instructed to be shut off, so it’s hard to recall specifics. I do remember seeing several studios where the Oceans Eleven series were filmed though. We also walked past the main studio for Two and a Half Men; I hate that show. Eventually we weaved our way to Studio 15 and walked through the giant door into a dumpy looking joint. There were red curtains strait ahead though, so we marched on. There was a metal staircase to walk up. I was now surrounded by the mysterious red curtains! Finally I made it to the top of the stairs, and like magic, I was looking at Conan’s beautiful set! Everything was as I’d expected, except that everything seemed smaller and closer together. I guess the magic of TV makes it appear more spacious After being shown to a seat, there was a comedian that came out to warm up the crowd as well as inform us of the essential information, such as where to find the fire exits, and also that we shouldn’t even bother with them because we’d all be boned anyways. That guy was great. The band also put on a little show of their own prior to the “main event”. They came up and walked through the crowd as they played their instruments. Fans of the show may know who LeBamba is. He walked right in front of me! I was excited by that.
As for the actual show, that happened too! Jesus, all of this writing and I’m just now getting to that. Nobody’s going to read this. In case they do though, I’d better keep going. The show was great, and it’d better be, right? I mean, I ONLY drove 1,000 miles to see it. No big deal. But no, it was definitely very funny. The guests were Zach Galifianakis, Sig Hansen from The Deadliest Catch, and Rafael Saadiq was the musical guest. If I’m not mistaken, you can watch the episode on TeamCoCo.com, here! I think that’s only up for a limited time though. Anyway, it plays out exactly how you’d expect, except it’s such a surreal experience that everything seems somehow even funnier. I was lucky enough to be there at the same time as Larry King. He had a bit during the intro where he was starting his own show in the rafters of Studio 15. He was right above where I was sitting, so I couldn’t really see him. That was so great though. I can now say I was just meters from Larry King. I love Larry King. The one part of the show that didn’t exactly line up with expectations was the transitional breaks. I thought there would be some joking around or audience interaction during those parts, but it was all business. The lights dimmed a bit and everyone producing the show all kind of ran around like madmen getting everything ready for the next segment. I guess there was one other thing I didn’t expect: The band is super loud in person. That was awesome to hear live. And the musical guest, Rafael Saadiq was great live as well. Watching the episode back on TV though, Rafael wasn’t as impressive. I guess that’s natural, but it seems like they could maybe do a better job of conveying the atmosphere over the TV. I feel bad for disliking most of the musical guests in the past, knowing now they were likely exponentially better in the studio. I guess I’ll stop talking about it and just let you guys watch the episode if you want. It’s a good one. Here’s a couple of very blurry pictures of me in the audience though:
On the way out of the studio, we were stopped at one point and asked if anyone wanted to go the George Lopez Show which was starting relatively soon. Apparently they had open seats to fill. I think only one group of a couple friends took them up on the offer. The rest of us were like “Nah! We’re good!” It’s not that I dislike George Lopez as a person, but I really don’t much care for his talk show. Couldn’t put myself through that. It would have ruined all of the amazingness that was just Conan’s show. Not to mention we had dinner reservations that would have had to have been dropped (Although it turned out they lost the reservation anyway :/). But yeah, we were guided back to the initial parking garage, and that was Conan. Conan Quest 2011 had officially been completed. It was a great experience that I couldn’t recommend more. Unless of course if you’re a person who really hates waiting in lines for extended periods of time. In that case, avoid!
Later that night, we took a drive into L.A. with my uncle to see some sights before we took off the next morning. It’s a shame we didn’t go while it was light out, but we still saw some cool things driving around downtown. At one point an LAPD car sped by us with its lights on. I was way too excited by that at the time. We drove down the Sunset Strip and I saw all kinds of famous buildings. I liked seeing the Comedy Store; that was cool. Sadly I made the trip to LA, and somehow didn’t get to see the freaking Hollywood sign. How horrible is that? Apparently it wasn’t lit up... or something. I was so sad. Another highlight of that little tour? My uncle getting the BMW to around 110 mph on the freeway. My uncle’s kinda of a crazy driver, but so is everyone else in L.A., christ. Nobody uses their turn signal, and people are getting cut off left and right. And on freeways, 20 mph over the limit is fairly standard. Crazy place. That was a good way to wrap up the L.A. experience though.
The next morning we hit the road back up to Oregon. The ride up was actually way better than the ride down though, and that was mostly due to the drive through San Francisco. I was in San Francisco! I could have totally stalked the Whiskey crew! But that would have been creepy, and wrong. Instead I just wore my Giant Bomb Throwback shirt with pride. Sadly nobody commented on it, but I’d like to believe that someone noticed. Let’s see, notable events in San Fran? We almost hit a Rolls-Royce; that was fun. That’s not entirely true, but even coming relatively close to the bumper of a Rolls-Royce make you feel nervous. Also: there are god damned vertical streets in San Fran! I mean, I knew it was a hilly place, but jesus. At one point we were driving up a road and people were walking down the sidewalk next to us. I’ll just say that Inception immediately came to mind. The scene where Ellen Page bends the world. So nuts. At one point driving down a hill, the slope was so immediately steep that we literally couldn’t see the road until the car was on the slope. It was essentially like driving off of a cliff and then realizing, “Oh hey, there’s a hill here.” I’m sure I sound stupid right now, but as someone who’s not used to that, it’s legitimately kind of scary. Seems like a fun city though; lots going on. On the way out we of course drove over the Golden Gate bridge, and through Sausalito, so that was cool too. After that it was just boring ole highway.
When I finally got home on Wednesday evening, I was delighted to find that my Whiskey subscriber shirt had come! Oh Lincoln force, I do love you so. Great end to a great trip. I’d totally do it all again.
Oh god dammit. I shouldn’t even be playing this, not to mention writing about it. I can’t help myself though. Sparklykiss’ blog about Horrible Things inspired me to try a Facebook game called Cooking Mama Friends’ Cafe. Now, I’d never really played the console versions of these games, so I just figured, “why not?” I should not have.
It all began with my buttering of some toast. Not too bad. Before I knew it though, I was thrust into a world of cooking, cooking, and more cooking! I’ve since cooked such things as: chicken fingers, bacon, orange juice, biscotti, sweet potato pie, hamburgers, coffee, tea, more bacon, chicken soup, chili, cookies, and even more bacon. In order to earn more XP, you have to complete challenges by cooking specific foods. After cooking food, you can then create your own menu for your cafe, and all of your FB friends can come eat and even write a review for your menu. It still has all of the Facebook hooks like time limits, resources, etc. that keep you coming back and not able to sit there and level up for hours. That’s always what I’ve hated about FB games, but whatever, I was having too much fun cooking bacon.
You can even buy things to decorate your little 2D kitchen. There’s even a cute little kitty cat that you can buy, but that costs entirely too much. It would just sit on your kitchen counter and sleep though. Cute, but maybe a bit unsanitary.
Why am I even thinking about these things though? Oh, this game. I’m on a bit of a quest to reach a certain level at the moment, but I’ll stop playing as soon as I reach that. ...I will! The worst part about all of this is that I was playing it in the place of something like L.A. Noire. How in god’s name does that happen?
L.A. Noire is freaking me out a bit. It’s the first game in a long time (or ever?) that I just can’t... figure out. In the sense that I’m not sure how I feel about it as a whole. I know it’s good, great even in some aspects, and I know that I like a lot of what I’ve seen so far, but there’s something about it that’s tripping me up, and I can’t put my finger on it. It’s definitely unlike any other game out there right now, so maybe it’s just that factor.
One aspect that I’m kinda split on is the fact that it just kinda throws you into the game and doesn’t hold your hand for very long. I mean, I guess it does show you what to do, and doesn’t just leave you hanging, but I still always feel like I’m missing something. It’s good that the game gets out of your way, but at the same time, I think it’s resulted in me feeling like I’m not 100% sure what I should be doing at any given moment. I feel like I’m just winging it a lot of the time, and that’s good to an extent considering it’s a detective adventure game, but sometimes I just wish I was a little more sure of myself. Maybe that’s just the nature of the game, to be unsure. It’s kinda bugging me though. I’m sure my personality in 100% to blame.
The open world sections are another aspect that I’m not sure how I feel about. It’s really nice to have an open world to roam, but there’s really not a lot to do. It’s nice to drive around and see sights, but it doesn’t feel like an interactive world like GTA IV does. Now, they’re different games with different goals in mind, but I just can’t help but be disappointed that the only thing you can use the open world for is driving from point to point, and occasionally the random street crime. To be honest, I haven’t taken part in a lot of street crimes--probably only two or three, in fact--so maybe if I took more time to do some of those, then I’d feel like the world is more worthwhile.
I don’t want to hate on the game too much here though, since I do think it’s brilliant. The characters, cases, amazing face tech, and creative gameplay all make the game extremely interesting to just sit back and absorb. It’s a fascinating game for sure, but I feel like I’m not enjoying it as much as I should, and I just can’t figure out exactly why. I’m only just starting disc two though, so I still have a ways to go. Maybe I’ll have a revelation at some point and things will start to click and come together a bit better for me. Or maybe I’ll finish the game just as baffled as I am now. I’m definitely interested in finding out.
I’m sad that this turned out so scatter-brained, but oh well.
Alright, I’ve sufficiently rambled you all into comas. And even so, I still didn’t talk about The Beatles: Rock Band! That’s OK though, as I think I talked a good bit about it in my previously linked blog about why I missed blogs.
Speaking of missing blogs, I’ll try not to anymore. I have way too much fun typing-without-thinking to stop now. Although, I definitely need to step up my banner creativity. I’m slackin’. Have a good one, everyone. Until next time.