Well don't you know that THIS has been a long time coming. The show was, what, six months ago? Jeez.
Sorry for the delay, folks, but writing this article has been an exercise consisting of equal parts joy, frustration, and laziness. While I was writing this, I was laughing hysterically over details I could remember, cursing myself for those I could not, and...well, most of the time was spent not writing at all, I guess. College and life gets in the way of important stuff sometimes, you know? But regardless, this thing is now DONE. Yes, for reals. And I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing...some of it. You'll see. Anyway, on with the show.
- Part 1: Hey You Wanna Dance
The Classic Gaming Expo - formerly "World of Atari" - is an annual event held in Las Vegas, Nevada, during the fall of each year. The Expo was ostensibly created in order to showcase and glorify video game consoles from ages past, such as the Atari 2600 and the Mattel Intellivision. However, in recent years, the show's scope has broadened in order to cover everything from the Nintendo Entertainment System, to the Turbo Duo, to even the Neo Geo. Regardless of coverage, however, the Expo has always promised a fanaticism-fueled weekend dedicated to old games and the people who just can't let them go. Needless to say, the show seemed like a scary prospect at best, and definitely one that I had no desire to be involved in.
That is, until TheRedEye said he'd be there.
Sometime in July 2002, Red stated on my message board that he would be selling off a good chunk of his NES collection at the show. Not only that, but he had also reserved a hotel room, and promised that anyone from our little group would be invited to join him there for a weekend of cheap casino breakfasts and heavy drinking.
Suddenly, this CGE thing ain't sounding so bad.
Oh, how I wanted to go. I knew that it was only wishful thinking, though. Being in Texas - and with no money and no transportation - I knew that there was no chance of me getting to Las Vegas for the promised nights of drunken madness. I even told Red so in a follow-up to his message. I said that I wished I could go - like, really wished - but I hadn't the slightest chance of getting up there at all. Ever.
And so, I had resigned myself to staying at home, only being able to ask afterward how much craziness I missed out on, and expecting the universal response of "You should've been there, man."
Red replied moments later with "The hell you talking about? Of course you can go. You can be Supinnah's date."
I think my heart stopped beating momentarily at the mere suggestion of it. Is this trip in the remote realm of possibility now? Seriously?
...wait, by Supinnah, you don't mean...?
Another reply made its way in. Something along the lines of "Sure, I guess I can pick him up. He's paying for gas, though." This was from, as I had feared, Spinner 8.
Okay. Now. See. Spinner 8 is this guy, see. He runs this translation news site called The Whirlpool, and me and him go way back. We'd been online acquaintances for something like four years or so. Together, we had witnessed all sorts of emulation scene retardation, and we had each once tried our hand at running rom sites. We was buds, you see.
...but, like, meeting him in person? And then going on a road trip halfway across the country with him? I dunno. Spinner can be a little...well, yeah. And you know how all these internet meetings turn out. Spinner could very well turn out to be a complete psycho for all I know.
Still, though. This is too good an opportunity to pass up. Getting drunk and partying with TheRedEye is something that all of us should aspire to. So I decided to go for it. Despite the risks, I'd do it. And after hashing out a few more details, Spinner agreed to drop by my place in August and then drive us both to the show.
The month passed quickly. As the date approached, I tried to mentally prepare myself for what it would be like to finally meet all these people I've known for so long online but had never met in person. It didn't work. I couldn't possibly conceive of what could potentially be in store for me.
Then, finally, the day of Spinner's arrival was upon me. Lord help me, I thought. This is probably going to turn out very, very badly...
Of course, it didn't. The show was a total blast. However, I realized very quickly that our trip would need to be documented in full. Spinner and I went through so much weirdness (and awesomeness) during our journey that I'd hate for it to be lost on the general populace.
I wrote this article in the hopes that it serves several purposes. First of all, I wanted to document the entire experience - down to the tiniest, most inane detail. Why? Well, I'm trying to test my ability to recall past details and write about them in an accurate and entertaining way, for one thing. But mainly, I want to fully convey to whoever reads this that the Classic Gaming Expo is something that you MUST attend. Seriously, the only way last year's show could've been better would have been if more people had been in attendance, and hopefully, this article will convince them that their presence is needed this year. You know who I'm talking about here, guys. Read and be awed at the incredible things that Spinner and I lived through, then promise to yourself that you're going to be there with us at this year's show. Yes, I'm going to be there again. So is Spinner. So is TheRedEye. Come on, TheRedEye. You know you want to meet him. Don't disappoint us.
This article also serves as a journal of sorts, in order to encourage personal reflection on several subjects. However, this doesn't mean that feedback isn't wanted. Please, please mail me with your thoughts after you get through reading this monstrous novel of a thing. Or hell, even if you don't get through it all (you won't), just tell me what you think anyway. I spent too much time writing this to not get any indication if it's any good or not. In fact, if I end up getting no feedback whatsoever, you can probably expect to see more articles like this in the future. And you wouldn't want that, would you?
Finally, I'm fully aware that this article is as dorky as hell. That's kind of the point. It has to be. We're traveling across the country to see a show about old video games, for chrissakes. Just cringe and bear with me, please.
Notes and warnings: Please forgive the damaged pseudo-colloquial writing style. I was hoping it would end up serving some sort of purpose, but it didn't, and I'm sorry. Also, bear in mind that this whole article was written over a period of several months, and it shows. I regret any lack of consistency or cohesion. Finally, you should be forewarned that nearly all dialogue is written in IRC chat form. I was hoping that this would complement the "dorky" angle, but it just turned out to be stupid and annoying. And on the subject of dialogue, all of it is paraphrased. I've double-checked with most of the people involved in the article in order to insure that I'm not misinterpreting or misquoting them, but I know I've probably messed up somewhere. I'm still not totally convinced that all of the dialogue is accurate, and hell, for all I know, I might have even made some of it up. I do that sometimes. If you notice any sort of inaccuracy or feel that more detail should be added to any element of the story, please tell me so. All corrections will be made with much haste. Future additions and reflective quotes will be presented in italics.
And for God's sake, read the freaking alt tags. All of the images in the story contain alt tags - captions that you can read by hovering your mouse pointer over them (this won't work in some of the more elite web browsers, mind). I'd use title tags like I'm supposed to, but titles don't show up in Netscape, so blah. Anyway, I spent enough time writing the things, so the least you can do is read them. Ass.
...oh, and one last warning: I ramble. Like, a lot. But you probably already know that.
So WITHOUT FURTHER ADO...
Just start the story already, stupid.