Cupcakes, Catering and Mr. Caffeine

After a large cup of coffee, the grainy tuna taste is finally gone. Aside from the short break for ptomaine poisoning, this whole day was one endless press conference. After giving the morning to Microsoft, the afternoon was devoted to Ubisoft and Sony. The former proved a combination of speakers I couldn’t understand and the most annoying MC in history, and the latter was a mix of corporate apologies and lousy catered food.

Ubisoft was held as usual, in the beautiful LA Theater which is pretty grand. The bathrooms in that place are incredible–the individual stalls are bigger than many San Francisco apartments and have these in them:

– little doorbells above the toilet that say “ring for attendant”. How many of us would have at one time or another, killed for a button like that when we found ourselves stuck unexpectedly toilet-paperless?

Anyway, the LA Theater while beautiful, still has no climate control so I sat there sweltering while a parade of French-speaking presenters enthusiastically demoed games, wishing I’d paid attention to my high school “Interpreting French accents” teacher. Impossible as these folks were to understand, they were miles better than the hyperactive little man Ubisoft hired to MC the show.

This guy, calling himself “Mr. Caffeine”, was a freelance douchebag—er…event presenter who Ubisoft apparently thought the audience would immediately take a shine to. The only thing I wanted to shine was his eye with my fist as he stood up there doing his best Wayne’s World impression and yelling bad jokes at us. I can just imagine the Ubisoft peeps interviewing the guy and talking together afterwards: “Yes, he is loud and extremely irritating—the Americans will love him!”

Anyway, what with the echoey, hard-to-hear demo descriptions and the man whose sole purpose in my opinion, was to justify rampant groin-kickings, the press conference was difficult to endure. Once done at Ubisoft, we were herded out the theater doors, past stacks of tiny blue cupcakes and into waiting shuttles that whisked us to the Sony press conference further south.

That late in the day, most of us would’ve eaten nachos off a bus station bathroom floor so the food trucks outside the Sony venue were a welcome sight. I and friends Matt and Jeff made a beeline to the cupcake truck, then ambled around sampling the other mobile culinary options. Unfortunately, while trendy, none of them were all that good. It was enough though, to fortify me through the Sony presser which consisted of a lot of apologizing on Sony’s part and a seemingly endless lineup of upcoming games.

I admit by that point, my enthusiasm had waned quite a bit and even with the special 3D glasses, everything (aside from the new Sly Cooper – yay!) looked pretty flat. Post-presentation the stage magically transformed into an arcade and we shuffled and shoved our way through the 6,000 person crowd to check it out. More food tables appeared and we quickly got in line. Of course, the concept of “getting in line” seems to have no meaning to many Europeans. A guy twice my height stepped right in front of me, seemingly unaware that I had a plastic fork in my hand.

The Europeans’ diplomacy record at this year’s E3 just isn’t good. So far I’ve not only been sniped at by a rude French guy, I’ve been cut in front of, pushed aside and nearly run over on a shuttle bus by Europeans who don’t seem to think anything of it. If I, a supposedly rude and aggressive American can be treated like this, what must happen to the Japanese? By contrast, the service people in LA have been remarkably friendly. Everywhere I’ve been, waiters, cashiers and baristas have all smiled and asked, “How are you?” as if they really care. Then again, this is LA – they could all be really good actors.

But I digress. I should have let the Euros have the food tables because from cold, tasteless beef mini-sandwiches on stale buns to stale cupcakes sprinkled with fruity pebbles, nothing on them was really worth eating. I ended up taking experimental bites out of about six things and then tossing the rest into a nearby garbage can. The gaming station setup wasn’t much more successful since the environment, with it’s deafening music, cheek-by-jowl crowding and frequently placed, highly-trip-overable power cords made checking out games impossible. In the end, I just gave up and took the shuttle back to the hotel.

On the way in I stopped at a Mexican corner store and bought myself a special edition coconut Twix

and the lady who sold it to me not only thanked me, but “God Blessed” me. Considering the area my hotel’s in, I considered that a bonus.

Dragging up to my hotel room door, I noticed the “Do Not Disturb” sign I’d put on it that morning was missing. Someone STOLE my Do Not Disturb sign? Who does that? I went back down the hall and self-righteously snatched it back—well, I snatched someone’s back anyway.

Hey, I saw a Roy Orbison CD at Starbucks today – anyone else think Roy Orbison and Corey Feldman are actually the same person?

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