E3 2010 (Pre) Day 1

Well here I am in downtown L.A., resting up at the always-classy Rodeway Inn after a busy day of pre-show activity.

Today had a rough start in Albuquerque due to two rambunctious 3 month old Corgi pups who wanted a play break at 3 in the a.m. Somehow, we can’t get it through their furry little heads that night time is for sleeping. Then again, how can you expect to reason with creatures who spend half the time eating their own crap?

In spite of getting only a couple hours of sleep, I boarded the plane and ended up seated right in front of a gaggle of tipsy, middle-aged women on their way to Napa valley. They laughed, and sang, and shouted and flirted with the steward, like cheerleaders after a six pack of Zima. Two hours of that made me think about that Sam Jackson movie “Snakes on a Plane”. If you ask me, Snakes on a Plane is a helluva lot better than Drunks on a Plane. I’d rather be wrapped ankle to eyeball in pythons than endure another plane ride next to a group of giggly, 50-something sorority sisters.

In the middle of it all, I considered complaining to the stewardess. I didn’t, and that was a good thing because the Real Housewives of Tampa, Florida actually brought the stewardess over to their side and she ended up standing near their seats for the better part of an hour, adding her shrill vocal stylings to their already-unbearable cacophony.

I closed my eyes and did my best to ignore it, but it was impossible, especially because the stewardess seemed to enjoy punctuating her anecdotes with frequent hits to the back of my seat. I gave her my best “hairy eyeball” but she was too far gone, telling them all about her time as a massage therapist and then as a “pistol-packing mama” in between bringing these horrible women one alcoholic drink after another. The worst by far though, was when she started telling them about her 14 year old niece, Ariel Faith (you gotta be kidding) who apparently, is slated for country music superstardom because she can “write a song in 45 minutes”.

It was bad enough hearing all this but then as it happened, the woman actually had a recording of this soon-to-be blockbuster hit on her phone and handed it off to her new friends to listen to and exclaim over. Proof positive that Satan does exist and is totally f*cking with me.

I’ve never been happier to land in L.A. and I managed to catch a cab and get to the hotel w/out further incident. I checked in and then walked toward the L.A. Convention Center, barely managing not to purchase some of the delectable looking street food dandled in front of me by various street vendors.
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I narrowly avoided the bacon-wrapped hotdogs, grabbed a pricey salad at restaurant Rock ‘N Fish, then stopped at the Convention Center long enough to get my badge. I was greeted outside the West Hall by a strange image – Sony’s pushing their new motion controller and their new motto is “This changes everything”. Uh…yeah. I guess gaming IS changing if it’s now being represented by a button-down-shirt-wearing dad type. E3 2010 005

Aside from Sony’s assertion, this year will be a different experience for me b/c I’m working for GamePro on the E3 Expo Show Daily (a publication my colleagues assure me no one reads. Sigh…)

It was only 4pm when I got all my business done and I had hours of daylight yet and nothing to do. Downtown L.A. isn’t exactly the best place to do anything. (Unless you want to sit for hours at ESPN Zone)

I ended up at The Original Pantry, a place that’s been there since 1924. I didn’t really want to eat but it seemed like the kind of old school place that would probably toss you out on your ass if you didn’t order more than coffee so I sat down at one of the small tables and ordered a peach cobbler.
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The waiter was a total character – a really smiley older guy by the name of “Hesh”. I asked if they had dessert (he never gave me a menu) and he shouted at me, “Well YES! Take a look AROUND!” Stupid me – menus were on the walls. I bought myself an hour or so by ingesting the soggy, sickeningly sweet peach cobbler and spent the time thinking, sketching and observing the interesting clientele. It occurred to me that artists, writers – creatives of all types are parasites really. We seek out places like that, older, unapologetically down-at-heel places frequented by regular folks, and try to latch onto something we feel is authentic. Meanwhile, the people we’re watching are doing the real stuff–living life.

Anyway, I left the Pantry and went reluctantly back toward my hotel on Olympic. I noticed a crowd down one of the side streets and lo and behold–two elephants were walking in circles with groups of little kids on them.
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A street fair was being held by Spanish TV station Univision, right next to a big building called “La Curacao”. It looked interesting so I maneuvered through the crowd, the only seemingly non-Mexican guest at the party. (My coloring completely hides my half-Mexican heritage and I kept thinking how surprised people might be if I spoke to them in their language. As usual though, uncertain of my conversational skills, I chickened out.)

Inside, La Curacao proved to be a huge department store that could have been in Mexico city. They had furniture, electronics, jewelry, perfume – everything you might want (including products seen only on TV like the Slap Chop), including banking services, and everything was in Spanish. I really think if I’d moved to L.A. in 2002, I’d be speaking Spanish fluently by now–there’s so much opportunity here to practice.

I left the store and strolled through the rest of the street fair, which featured kiddie rides and booths and the weirdest thing–a pink-festooned stand with “Barbie” written on it where a very blond, very white girl was dressed up like said doll, taking photos with cute little Mexican kids. I’m not sure why, but that seemed so bizarre. Like, what the hell do these kids stand to learn from Barbie?
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Anyway, after the fair I came back to the hotel. On the way, I saw a couple of weird things–well, one sad thing and one weird thing. The sad? Streets covered in trash.
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The weird? This shop window with bars over it and a plastic statue of Winnie the Pooh accompanied by a plastic elephant statuette that couldn’t bear the shame of facing forward.
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Upon returning to the hotel, I rode the elevator (which smelled like they’d been using it to store a herd of feral cats) to my room and am now doing some much-needed loafing before the E3 madness begins. I’ve been watching Twin Peaks again lately and so I feel compelled to do an Agent Dale Cooper-like assessment of the Rodeway Inn’s amenities.

“Diane, the room is adequate–larger than most. The window’s plantation shutters are a nice touch, but are likely to be ineffective in keeping the light out. The towels are small but soft, there’s a fridge and a microwave, which is good, but there’s only a very small bottle of cheap shampoo and the tub is grungy. Even so, the bed is large and the A/C blows like a tropical hurricane so I am optimistic of obtaining a sound night’s sleep.”

Actually, in spite of the bed, here’s to hoping I DO get to sleep tonight and don’t end up sharing walls with a bunch of partying gamesters.

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