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It's that time of year when once again all the videogame companies pack up and head out to the biggest videogame convention in the world, the Electronics Entertainment Expo, otherwise known as E3. We had again decided not to go through all the time and trouble of setting up a booth this year, so only three of us would make the eight hour trek down to Los Angeles. This time it was Victor, myself, and my wife, Treeses. Originally Treeses was going to be in Chicago for some management training thing, but her company canceled it so she was able to trade places with Kelly and come along for the ride. We were supposed to be gone by 11 AM, but two not-so-bright parties at the rental car place held us all up for over an hour. And when I say not-so-bright, I mean complete morons. But lets not dwell on that.

So off we went sometime after noon. I had loaded up a bunch of games on my Game Boy SP the previous night, but didn't end up playing the thing more than a half hour throughout the whole trip. We pretty much all just talked the entire way down, except for the time when Victor put on a Larry the Cable Guy CD. So we talked a lot, about all sorts of different subjects. I was astonished to learn from Victor the reason why The Matrix was so awesome while its sequels were such crap... because the Wachowski brothers didn't write the first one, they stole it! It was taken from a script called "The 3rd Eye" by Sophia Stewart. After hearing this, it all made perfect sense. So why hasn't this claim hit the mainstream? It seems like this would be a huge story. The most likely reason is because Warner Brothers is owned by AOL-Time Warner, which owns like all the major media outlets. Those bastards....

Anyway, back to the road trip. We had stopped in Sacramento to grab some steak sandwiches for lunch. Mmmm, those were good. I'm hungry. I should go eat something when I finish writing this. Yeah, I think I will. We don't have any steak though... maybe a polish dog. Yeah, that sounds good. Okay, ummm, what was I saying? Oh yeah, so it was dark by the time we got into LA. We checked into the Holiday Inn and found our room to be extremely stuff, and smelling kinda of like someone had been smoking in there. It took a little trying but we finally got the window cracked open to help air it out. We picked up some Yoshinoya beef bowls for dinner and crashed at the Holiday Inn. Mmmm, those were good too. I always like Yoshinoya. The beef is cut so thin and... okay, this isn't gonna work. I need to go eat now and I'll come finish this later.

My Trip to E3 2005 (Day 2)

The next morning Victor dropped Treese and I off at the rear door of the main hall. Besides being extremely convenient, this was actually part of our plan to smuggle Treese into the show. You see, she was supposed to take Kelly's pass, but Kelly never received her pass, even though she received the email saying it had been sent. So there we were in LA with only two passes, but we knew from previous experience that their security sucks hard, especially in the back. There were two doors there where you could enter the hall. One of the doors had a couple security standing guard, the other just had some people standing around, looking like they were bring stuff in. So we just through those doors, and got in with no problem.

So we walked around that hall while Victor found a place to park. All the lots were full, until he remembered that we had brought Treese's handicap parking pass along. Once he showed them that, they opened a lot and he got a great spot. Then came the real challenge, getting a pass for Treeses so she could move between halls. First step was getting the plastic things that hold the pass and hang around your neck. Victor was able to get an extra one that one of the information people had. I had to get mine by standing in line outside in the blazing sun. That sucked. They had two ladies at the booth giving them out. When I got second to front, one of the ladies kept calling "next", but the guy in front of me wouldn't go over to her. So I'm like if you're not going to move then I will, and went around him, but then she refused to give me the dang thing because she thought I had just cut and jumped in. I had to actually get the people in line behind me to vouch that I had been standing with them for the past hour.

Now the final step became to get a complete pass for Treese. So we put my pass away and asked around trying to figure out where to get a pass that was verified by email but never sent. That took a little while, but Victor finally found the place and we were able to get another pass for myself, which we then gave to Treeses. So basically she became "Kendra", since the pass still said Ken Innes. We walked around the entire show together, yet the whole time we were there only one person realized that we both had the same name on our passes, and that was a guy manning a booth that we had stopped at on the last day of the show in order to get a money sock. The had sent out socks to various people, and Victor was one of those people, and then you're supposed to go to there booth, give them the sock, then pick another sock out of a box which contains an unknown amount of money. Treese picked out a five dollar sock.

Anyway, we both had our passes so we spent the rest of the time walking around looking at all the new games... or I should say all the new sequels. There wasn't very much originality at all. We did get to see and try out the game we were really looking forward to, Sly 3. I played just like the previous two, which were great, but th cool thing about this one was that it has sections that are 3D, and I talking 3D like with the red and blue glasses where objects actually look like they are outside the screen. It was way cool. We were able to snag a demo too, although we were told that the demo doesn't have any of the 3D effects. We also saw the new Ratchet & Clank, although it seemed to be an online game, not the adventure platformer we have all come to love.

In addition to software, we also tried to catch glimpses of what the new next-generation systems looked like. Unfortunately, only Microsoft seemed to have their X Box 360 readily available on display. We didn't see anything about new systems in the Sony or Nintendo sections. I'm pretty sure it was there, just put away where you'd have to wait in a huge line to see it or something. Too bad. The next Xbox 360 is definitely an improvement over the previous design, though definitely not as cool as the GameCube. It looks similar to the original Xbox, but smaller, though still larger than the old style PlayStation 2.

After the show we drove over to Gameworks and got a card loaded up with credits. Victor and I started out playing pinball, Terminator 2 and Jurassic Park 3, but they weren't that fun so shortly after we switched to arcade games. Treeses and I played House of the Dead 1, 2, and 3, which were all great. We both love playing gun games, though it's been a long time since we played any. Our favorite it Elemental Gearbolt for the PlayStation. The problem is that light guns don't work with either plasma or LCD screens, and we have a plasma, thus we haven't been able to pick up any of the newer light gun games. This is one of the things we talked about on the drive down to LA. Amazingly, earlier in the day at E3 we actually found a company called E-Real Games that has created a light gun that works with plasmas and LCD screens in addition to normal televisions.

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith is where we were headed next, after a quick stop back at the hotel so Victor could change out of his suit. We ended up getting to the theater about 15 minutes before showtime. We wanted to get there an hour early, but weren't able to blast through the arcade credits fast enough. Treeses and I were in line to be let in to the theater, but we didn't see Toby Maguire, who was apparently standing only a few feet behind us. We found this out from Victor, who went to shake his hand, only to find Toby prefers to "pound" rather than shake. Hey, whatever works for ya. Since we were so late, we didn't get optimal seats. We were off to the right, third row back from the front. Still, it wasn't that bad, not nearly as bad as the front row for Lord of the Rings.

The movie itself... well... it wasn't very good at all. Definitely the best of the prequels, but still, it was a disappointment. Once again the dialog was poorly written, badly acted, and just plain boring to listen to. Victor actually fell asleep during some of it, and I had to wake him up. He said later that I actually could have let him sleep for another forty minutes, and I'd have to agree. There was about 10 minutes of really cool stuff in this movie, and the rest was just not worth it. When we got out of there, we heard other people making fun of all the same scenes we were making fun of. Especially the part near the end with Darth Vader. Anyone who sees this flick will know exactly the scene I'm talking about. It's just so laughable. I glad the Star Wars film saga is finally over, so now I won't feel obligated to sit through another piece of junk just because it's a Star Wars title. I really hope George Lucas will stop making movies now.

My Trip to E3 2005 (Day 3)

On the third day of our trip we decided to ditch E3 and venture on over to Universal Studios. Usually we go to Magic Mountain, but since Treeses wouldn't be able to ride any of the coasters we tried to find something else to do. She suggested Universal Studios, which sounded like a good idea to us. We both forgot that it was even there. It was a hot day out, and Treeses leg was already hurting from walking so much the previous day at E3, so we rented a wheelchair for her. We wanted to get one of those electric scooter things, but they didn't have any. Going though the park with a wheelchair is cool because they let you skip to the front of the line, although the park really wasn't all that crowded anyway so waiting wouldn't have been much of a problem.

The first thing we did was go through the Van Helsing: Fortress Dracula. It was kinda cool, though not spectacular. Pushing the wheelchair though the winding corridors was a challenge, especially since it was dimly lit in a lot of sections, and had some places where you could barely even see in front of you. When we reached stairs, we were detoured over into an elevator, which was new. The "castle" had a lot of detail put into it and looked really nice, but then they also used cheap scares with guys in masks jumping out. One time some girls got startled by one and almost fell into Treeses lap. After we exited that, we moved on to Shrek 4-D.

Shrek 4-D was definitely the best attraction of the park. The 3-D aspect was cool, but so was the animation, the story, the seat movements, the puffs of air, and the mist sprays. It was totally immersive, and the film kept us entertained. It felt right at home in the Shrek universe, with the original actors voicing the characters and the same style of jokes that keep you laughing. I'd actually like to see a home DVD version available, possible included as an extra on one of the movie discs, complete with 3-D glasses. That would just be a really cool special feature to have on a DVD.

After that we headed over to the Jurassic Park ride. We came to find that the Universal lot was actually split in two, an upper lot and a lower lot. Jurassic Park was in the lower lot, and we were in the upper lot. So we headed over to the elevator, and there was this guy there that worked at the park who was trying to tell us something, but he had such a strong accent that none of us could understand what he was saying. It was definitely something to do with the elevator and 15 minutes. We came to find out once we exited the elevator and boarded the van that he was trying to tell us that using the elevator to get to the lower lot would take about 15 minutes because it only goes down one story where you catch a van that then drives a winding road down to the lower lot.

The Jurassic Park ride wasn't all that great. The animatronic dinosaurs were way out of date and were in serious need of an upgrade. There was some cool parts, like when the T-Rex seemed to bust through the ceiling, and then later when the drop came, but those wouldn't cause me to have any desire to ride it again. I did really enjoy hearing Treese scream as we did the drop though. That instantly put a smile on my face. On the way down to the lower lot, our driver recommended that we take the tram tour of the Universal Studios lot if we could get there on time, so after Jurassic Park, Treeses and I rushed back over to catch the van to the upper lot while Victor hopped on the Revenge of the Mummy coaster. We didn't quite make the last scheduled tram tour, and actually passed it in our van, but we were lucky and they were running one extra tour which we made in time. We met up with Victor as we were almost to the tram. He took the escalators back up, which were way faster than the van ride.

The tour wasn't all that spectacular either, and I think our tour guide must have been new. We saw the standard stuff, like the flash flood set, the King Kong set, and the earthquake set, but the Jaws part wasn't operating. The whole lake was drained and the shark was just laying out there over to the side. And how old is that "parting the waters" thing? There really, really need to update that thing. The coolest thing on the tour was the plane crash set from the upcoming War of the Worlds movie. That was huge, and looked really cool. The rear view mirror of our tram was also entertaining. It was connected to the tram at two points, one of which came disconnected, so it was bobbing throughout most of the ride. And just as the tour neared its end, the mirror finally snapped off and hit the floor with a loud clank.

The last attraction of the day was Terminator 2: 3D. This was lame. The story was dumb. It didn't follow the rules established by the movies. The 3-D effects were few and weak. The chairs moved up once, then down once. And then you exit, feeling like you just wasted 30 minutes of your time. The park was closing when we got out of there, so we headed over to an arcade where we grabbed a bite to eat and met up with John, a friend of Victor's, and his daughter. While there Treeses and I played another gun game, but I can't quite remember the title. It felt good to get off our feed and put some food in our stomach, though we just had appetizers since we were going to be eating at the Sony part later that night.

And that's where we headed to next, the Sony party. Some band I never heard of called "Jimmy Eat World" was already playing when we arrived, and they were actually pretty good. Then some band that nobody ever heard of called "Camp Freddy" came on and played. The reason nobody ever heard of them is that they weren't a real group, just a made up band consisting of members from other famous bands. Shortly after that we follow Victor back to a smaller stage where some other show was going on. This one was hot exotic burlesque style dancing, and was much more interesting than watching a band play. When their show ended, we took off. The free swag this time was yet another bag (Sony just loves bags, don't they) and hat. The hat was like a snow cap, not a baseball cap, and not something I'd ever where, especially not with that giant yellow stripe. The bag, though, was actually pretty cool. It was more like a carry-on luggage back than a backpack.

My Trip to E3 2005 (Day 4)

Day four was the last day of E3, and the last day of our trip. Victor had some meetings, so Treese and I walked around a little more. One of the booths had a really cool show going on with lots of dancing and performing using fire and Hula Hoops and it seemed to go on for like a half hour. There were also tossing t-shirts out into the crowd, and Treeses actually got to snag one. Of course, it was a medium, so it won't fit either of us, but it still looks cool. This is also the day where Victor gave Treeses the sock that we went to trade in for a money sock, but I already told you about that.

Well, not much else happened that last day. Looked around a little more, then found some nice comfy stairs to sit on because once again there was not one single bench in the entire building that was made available for people to rest at. Once Victor was done with his meetings we took off for home, and that was before the show even ended. Victor picked up some CDs on the way back that we could listen to. He got another Larry the Cable Guy, a Bill Engvall, and Rock of Ages: The Definitive Collection, a Def Leppard greatest hits set. The comedy albums were enjoyable to listen to, and the first disc of the Def Leppard collection was fantastic, though the second one was nothing special.

We got home late and crashed out pretty soon afterwards. We were all exhausted from the drive. It felt good to be back in our own bed, our own memory foam bed. And so that was our trip. Treeses really seemed to enjoy it, and I'm glad she was able to come at least once.

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