Man it's been
Man, it's been a long couple of days of not sleeping much and traveling a whole lot. I'll start out this post by saying I didn't suck, and that all of the Screen Savers are the nicest people ever.
So, Monday night I spent the day finishing up the work on NES PC part 3 and loading up the software. At around 1 am, my roommate really wanted to play with it and see what it could do, so I walked over and hit the power button. Nothing. I pushed and held the power button. Nothing. I wiggled it, and it finally started turning on for a couple seconds at a time. Oh shit. I started freaking out just a little bit, because it was 1 in the morning and I was leaving for Chicago the next day, and it needed to work by then. I
was bracing myself for an all-nighter of fixing this blasted machine when it finally booted up. I don't know what went wrong, but it hasn't gone wrong since.
So, Tuesday I had to write a quick article and bio for the TechTV website and sent those along with some pictures to put up. I packed everything up into my big green suitcase, picked up my dad's truck since my Jeep is remarkably unsuited for a road trip, and headed off to see Wolford and Toni in a suburb of Chicago.
I hadn't slept much on Monday night. I was really nervous about the TV thing, and a bit freaked out about the power button incident that had just happened. I also had to wake up bright and early on Tuesday to finish things up for myself and my NES PC. So, I was really tired as I completed the 3 hour drive to my friends' apartment.
After a bit of chit-chat I was left alone to take a quick nap. I'm not the napping type, but after about 2 hours of sleep on Monday night, I passed out really quick. Toni came back from her softball game and found me passed out on her couch. She woke me up and drug me to dinner and drinks with a few of her friends from softball. I would have had a good time if it wasn't for the nerves and the sleepiness and the fact that I had just woken up.
We got back to her place at around 11, and Wolford was there. Of course I had to chat with him a bit, but by midnight I was ready for a solid 3 and a half hours of sleep. I had to wake up at 3:30 AM because I was an hour away from the airport, my flight left at 8, and I was bracing myself for a long, long, long check in period. With all the security these days, I thought there was no way I'd ever get on a plane carrying fancy electronics inside of an old Nintendo case. In fact, my entire bag was filled with tons of electronic toys. No one batted an eye, and I was at my gate about 2 hours early.
I landed in Oakland about 4 hours later and found another buddy waiting to pick me up at the airport. His car was loaded with all sorts of fancy GPS gadgets, so we didn't get lost while heading to the TechTV studios. We checked in with Dan, who can sometimes be seen in the background of Screen Savers episodes, dropped off my huge bag, and headed to grab some lunch with Brice.
The walk around San Francisco while looking for food was the most I saw of the city on my whirlwind trip. We settled on some crappy Mexican place. About halfway through the meal I realized I shouldn't be eating Mexican food, because it may give me the shits on live television. I could just picture myself talking to Leo and all of the sudden shitting my pants. On live TV. That wouldn't have been very cool. So I threw away the rest of my meal and paid a bit too much attention to my bowels to see if they were acting up. They weren't. Crisis averted.
Anyway, it was back to the studio to meet Joshua Brentano, the producer who had done all the work to get me on TV. He sat as down at the LAN party computers while he took care of some things. It was a surreal experience, passing guys like Yoshi and Kevin in the hallway, sitting at the LAN party computers, and even meeting Joshua, who has been in a few episodes of the show. After more of the cast started showing up, I just sort of wandered around talking to people. The show I was on was also the show that featured the X Box controller that would shock your hand when you got hit. I was the first to test it out, and although some people describe it as the same sensation as licking a 9V battery, it wasn't. It was more like getting bitten by a chipmunk. That shit hurt. I took it like more of a man than Leo to that Lowell guy did, though. I'm tough.
So, for the next couple hours it was basically just wandering around, talking to Yoshi and getting a tour of the whole joint with Joshua. Leo and Pat either were busy or just looked busy, so I didn't get a chance to talk to either of them before the show. They were shooting promos for the next day's show and commercials and things. Oh, yeah, I forgot that I had to shoot a couple of "teasers", as they call them. Basically, before the commercial breaks they show teasers of what's about to happen on the show. They were shooting mine with Yoshi, and they wanted us to be playing a game on my NES PC. So, I get things set up and the cameras are
setting up, and I realize that my controller isn't working. Yoshi's is fine, but mine is just not reacting at all. So, while the cameras are rolling and the video game is playing in the background, I'm actually saying to Yoshi, "What the hell? Why isn't my controller working?" Anyway, hopefully that wasn't obvious on TV.
Alright, so rehearsal came next. They ran through the entire show in about 20 minutes, and my "rehearsal" with Leo was about 30 seconds long before they moved on to the next thing. I felt a bit unprepared, but I wasn't nervous or anything. I saw Leo's blue cue card, so I knew what questions to expect.
The show went well, and it was a lot more improvised that I expected it to be. Very off the cuff and non-scripted and non-rehearsed. I was remarkably non-nervous as the show went on, despite all the teasers and promotions my little project got. Finally it was time to be on TV. During the commercial break, I ran over to help Yoshi wheel this cart around which had my NES PC on it. Leo walks up and starts making chit-chat with me during the break. "So, is this the Nintendo you had as a kid", "how much did you pay for it on eBay?" I answered all his questions just in time for the producer to give us the cue that we were on. Then, Leo proceeded to ask me the same exact questions in the same exact order as he had just done it. It was a little bizarre and caught me off guard, but what are ya gonna do? They told me not to look at the camera and not put my hands in my pockets. I'm a pretty tall guy, so leaning on that table wasn't an option at all. Then, as the interview was ending, I did the 1 thing I regret in my entire 3 day trip. I looked at the camera. Straight into it. I looked like a deer in headlights for the 2 seconds I stared into that black box. Then I broke away and hoped it didn't make it on TV. Part of it did, but it's not as bad as I remember it being while I was there.
So, it's finally over and I go and take my seat back in the audience. I had told Brice all day that I needed to ask Jessica for her autograph for 2 of my friends back home, but she always seemed busy or I was a wuss and never did it. As the show was ending, she was packing up and I knew I didn't have a choice but to ask her right then. I ran up and tried not to sound too desperate and pathetic as I asked her for the autographs. She was very nice and personalized them for my friends who don't deserve the treatment I give 'em. She's hotter in real life than on TV. Really.
After the show I got Kevin, Yoshi, Pat, and Leo to take pictures next to my creation. They were really nice and made a bit of small talk as I packed up my stuff and prepared to leave. Really nice guys. I can't say enough good things about anyone I met on the show.
I spent about half an hour after the show calling everyone who I knew watched it live to get compliments from them.
Brice and I braved rush hour traffic to go to The Cheesecake Factory. We had a couple beers and caught up with each other about everything. It was good to see the kid again, and good to see that he's actually doing something productive with that huge brain of his. I got really tired really quick after a few days of not sleeping much and a bit of alcohol in me. Brice took me to my hotel and I proceeded to pass out the fastest I've ever passed out. It was a weird hotel. Very weird.
The next morning I left bright and early for my flight at 8:50 AM. I got a cab who was quite possibly the coolest man ever. I get in, and immediately he tells me that he has to take a shit, so would I be nice enough to let him use the restroom? I said sure, and he pulled up on the sidewalk of a hotel and ran in. On his way out the door, he says to me "I'm going to leave the keys in the car. If a cop or metermaid comes, just pull around the block and come pick me up." Then he ran away. He told me later that he had eaten bad shrimp that morning. After telling him that eating any shrimp in the morning was a bad idea, he told me that you can't refuse what your mother makes you. It's rude.
The coolest conversation was later though.
"I have been in California for 6 years, and I have yet to find a wife."
"Well, you're in the right place. There's a lot of pretty girls here."
"Pretty, yes, but they are all STUPID! They want to be boss. But there is only 1 boss in my house, and it is me, myself, and I."
"That's 3 bosses, right?"
"No! Just the 1 boss! Just me!"
"Yeah, but you said me, myself, and I. That's 3."
"No! You don't understand! They are all just me. It is me."
I hate it when people don't get my jokes, but what are ya gonna do? Nothin', that's what. I got on my plane without getting any shit from airport security, and was on my way back to Chicago.
I met Sam and Vanja at the airport and we ate dinner at a crappy little bar with awesome food and caught on on each other's lives and careers. I feel bad for both of them, being so, so talented and not being able to find work in the industry. Vanja's artwork puts mine to shame. She's amazing. Sam's designs put mine to shame. Vanja works in a video production place, making less than I started with at Iona and doing work that's less applicable. Sam works in a coffee shop. Vanja just thanks God for her job, which makes me wonder why I quit Iona. Maybe that job was better than I thought it was. Probably not, but maybe I was lucky for getting it. Others
aren't having much luck lately.
Anyway, so that was my trip in a nutshell. If you're not lucky enough to get TechTV, you can watch my segment on their site. It's right here.