JRock's 2007 LAN Recap
Well the LAN ended a bit early for me. I ws forced home by an unmerciful headache on Saturday night and just decided the 90 minute drive was not worth it just to eat breakfast with the guys. More on the headache and the drive later.
dkhodz picked me up downtown and we tried in vain to get to the Shedd Aquarium and buy tickets for everyone. Turns out that if you're going north on Columbus Drive you should just stay there and not turn when you see the museums. Anyways, I digress. dk and I CRAWLED through rush hour traffic up to O'Hare and picked up the guys for a Giordano's dinner. There, we were met with a very pleasant and unexpected surprise, Mr Jolly Roger himself, his wife Stacy and their unbelievable little girl, Megan. More on Megan throughout the blog. For some odd reason, we ordered THREE deep dish pizzas, and hence one is still sitting in my fridge.
Grim, DK, Big One and half of Trinity (I won't comment on which is the better half) :
Everyone's favority ham, Stryker and Jolly Roger :
How many JRo's does it take to make one Gaius?
Jolly's wife Stacy and The Unbelievably Adorable Megan (JRo is in love!) :
OK, let's zoom in just because she is so gosh darn cute!
Trinity, Kat (Tait's girlfriend), and Mr. Tait himself :
Meeting the group : On Thursday night after Giordano's we headed back to the hotel to meet some people. We wandered around the hotel a bit until we stumbled upon the bar (it was sort of like playing an RPG when you have no idea what to do next :) ) Anyways, Phreak/twistedcaboose recognized us and started introducing us to the people in the bar. (By the way, big time negative karma points to Gaius Caesar for forgetting to invite Phreak/twisted to dinner with us. I fart in your general direction!)
The ones that I know are dark knight (front far left), lbsutke (next blue shirt to the right), and SoupNazzi (back far right).
PMS Em with the pool cue, Phreak and SysChaos in background. My apologies to the three gentlemen standing with Phreak (it's a wonder I can remember anything at all after the headache I had this weekend).
The family playing some pool. Kat turned out to be quite the pool shark. Glad I didn't play and showcase my noobness. :) There was some conversation about removing that Cubs clock (since it wasn't plugged in) and smuggling out of the bar, but we're not real men so we didn't do it.
Trin and DK. In spite of the fact of how photgenic Lisa is, I always seem to get the impression that her face is telling me "so help me God if you take one more picture of me I'm going to take that camera and shove it where the sun don't shine". That's prolly all in my head tho :)
Super huge bonus to whoever printed these banners for us. These things are un-fricking-believably cool! I hope Stryker got to take it home because we need to hang that bad boy at every LAN.
Grim using the force to push the balls into the holes:
Here we have the amazing delicacies of one M R S Trinity. She may not be an expert with a sniper rifle, but girlfriend CAN COOK! I believe we have (clockwise from top) : Lemon Bars and another type of bar which LeightyRx would later describe as having "sex in his mouth" (while sitting on Stryker's bed no less), I believe the next one is a peanut butter cookie, chocolate chocolate chip, and regular chocolate chip. I'll bet Big One has more details on the cookies in his blog. BigOne knows cookies like a wine connoisseur knows fine wines.
More Cookie Details from Big0ne : http://www.2old2play.com/Blog/Permalink/1879/14002
DK and I headed back to my house in Schererville for five F---ing hours of sleep. Next year, I will be staying at the hotel. It took us almost two hours to travel 54 miles. Needless to say that even at 11 at night, traffic in Chicago sux big balls. Offsetting the traffic was the fact that we only paid for parking on one of the three nights. On Thursday and Friday the gate was open so we just zoomed right through it. Cash saved : $20. Cha Ching! There seemed to be a "change of the guards" at about 10:30 to 11:00 pm and they weren't real good about making sure the station was covered during the change.
After our five glorious () hours of sleep, DK and I headed back to O'Hare to pick up the gang. Stupid me, I decided not to put the extra seat in my van which made for some interesting choices later in the day. We took I-294 this time and we were fine until we hit O'Hare and then it was just a ridiculous crawl. Anyways, when we finally got to Original Pancake House, we all got down and got to ordering :
Big One, Grim and DK all ordered this monstrous Apple Pancake dish and I don't think any of them finished it. I had biscuits and gravy, eggs over easy and half of dk's bacon order and finished it all thank you very much. I did not lick the excess gravy off my plate, much to Gaius' dismay. Last but not least, DK ordered "white" milk. The food was fantastic, the service was ehhh. We asked them to split up the bill at the end and they screwed it up beyond belief. Oh well. It's a family thing so who cares.
Check out those apple pancakes - good lord!
After breakfast, we all piled into Big's SUV and my van which should have been able to seat 7 but since I'm an idiot, it only seated 5. It actually worked out because we ended up needing the extra cargo room for dk's and my 360's and for Megan's stroller (have I mentioned how cute she is?) So we crawled through traffic and I decided I had had enough of going 2mph through downtown to get off where we were supposed to and decided instead to give my friends a scenic detour. So we went through downtown on Monroe Street, I believe. We got to see the Chicago River (I think it was Jolly who said "I didn't know Chicago had a river" - kinda the whole reason Chicago became a city in the first place, bud ;) ), Trump Tower (still being built), Millenium Park, and the Art Institute (still under construction). We parked at Soldier Field and headed over to Shedd. Our clanmate Relic had gotten to the museum from Midway about 40 min before we did and stood in the incredible line to buy us all tickets. THAT was a life saver. Thank you for that.
Gaius at Soldier Field. The shirt is a little hard to read in this pic, but it says "Don't worry, it only seems kinky the first time" Sigh. That's Gaius :)
Picture of the Soldier Field Gift Shop Entrance :
Stryker actually had the BALLS to go into the gift shop WITH his Indy Colts SB Champion t-shirt and asked if they had any more SB Champion t-shirts. The clerk rightly informed that they had burned them all. I asked Stryker if he wanted the life size poster of Grossman in the gift shop and he shot back, "which interception was that throw?" F---er. :) I ALMOST bought Stryker a Grossman jersey at Target on Saturday. When he told me he would actually wear it and have the clan sign it, I was pissed that I didn't go through with it.
Field Museum in background, JFK's famous "Let every nation know whether it wishes us well or ill" speech in foreground.
HEY! We found Stryker's other ball...
The John G Shedd Aquarium :
I was ridiculed mercilessly for suggesting that the planeterium has an "Oceanarium" but I was proven righteous!
Other clan members took better photos inside the aquarium. My camera is not the best under low light conditions. The only one of my shots that actually turned out :
more Aquarium pics courtesy of dkhodz :
Big0ne, Relic and Trinity
Grim Reaper and Gaius Caesar :
JRock, Relic and Tait :
I think there was an overall ho-hum sense about the aquarium. Since we didn't make it to the dolphin show, I rather agree. My two favorite things at the aquarium are the show and the underwater viewing windows of the whales and the dolphins. I have some great shots of those from a prior visit which I will blog at another time.
Stryker 2 fisting it outside the aquarium :
My city's skyline from across the street from the Field Museum :
I was extremely proud to show off Chicago to my friends. It was an unbelievably hot and humid day though. With any luck, we'll get a weather break one of these years and we can walk around a bit more.
Why JRo is an idiot :
It actually worked out tho because DK started the van and got the AC going.
Tait and Kat stayed downtown to sight see while the rest of us drove down I-55 to Harlem where Relic guided us to one of his favorite food places : Portillo's. I saw this sign and thought it was hilarious :
The sign reads "Express Lane : 2 Beers or Less?"
The Family eating a late lunch :
JRo working on a bit of Sausage (yah baby) :
We dropped off Relic at his sister's in Brookfield as he had other plans Friday night. So finally we made it back to the LAN after ANOTHER unbearable traffic jam on I-294. Traffic jams turned out to be one of the major themes of the LAN. Phreak and doodi handled the LAN administration of getting everyone into the room and then we started setting up. The one weird thing about a LAN this big is that there were 120 people and only 70 monitors, so inevitably someone else is playing your box or your playing someone else's box. It was just a new thing for me and a little bit awkward but I managed okay. Jolly was on my box most of the time and I love Jolly like a brother so I was glad to have someone I know at my machine.
Tara and Dead Meat/his brother(?) in foreground, Retrogirl in background, Old Man Mafia sign in back. This is the left half of the room as you enter. We were mostly on the right half.
Tara/TDrag : Girlfriend, you need to get up and walk around a bit. Everytime I wanted to go over and say hi to you, you were like HARDCORE gaming. And I don't interrupt ladies wielding big bad-ass shotties. In any event, sorry I didn't get to say hi.
I'm MIKE JAMES, BITCH!
In all seriousness, MikeJames was one of the coolest people I met at the LAN and it almost didn't happen. I had said hi to him and I've got some pics of him being a goofball, but I never really talked to him until I was just about to leave on Saturday night when he yelled after me, "What?! Only COOL people get to sign your shirt?" I kinda laughed and said "you wanna sign it?" he said "Yah!" so he signed my t-shirt - "I'm MIKE JAMES, BITCH!" and we had a fun little chat. I found it amazing that he actually remembered that I lived in Milwaukee a few years back and remembered that I had moved. Considering how much the man drinks, I was really wow-ed by that :) Just kidding, buddy.
This is what is so cool about LAN's - I have had this guy's gamertage burned into my screen for two years now with all the crazy ways he has killed me. Getting to meet him in person was really awesome. I was a bit disappointed I didn't get a picture of his crazy kung-fu action controller grip that he uses, though. Without further adieu, I give you Bluestar :
Rockin' Out :
Burnin' Rubber :
By the way, BigOne let me drive with his wheel and wow, what a difference that thing makes. Just being able to "feel" your way through turns as opposed to having to guess visually from the screen and the rumble whether you are sliding or not makes all the difference in the world. The variability of the wheels and the gas pedal really made the driving experience a lot more enjoyable. I may buy one of these myself after having had first hand exposure with it.
I'm not sure what exactly the backstory is on this, but apparently at some point during the LAN Gaius Caesar became "Chewy Spouge". In our family, it's "don't ask, don't tell".
More MikeJames' tomfoolery :
He might get in but he would NEVER get out without a cutting torch.
The LAN princess as greeter :
Ok, here's where the LAN went south for me. It was right about this time that the open bar got started. I am a wine drinker. Normally blush wines, but I prefer the nicer stuff so I went with Chardonnay. The first glass went down reasonably okay, but then Gaius Caesar decided to poison me. Ok, not really, but beeyotch was drinking 140-proof bourbon and decided JRock needed to try it. And so without thinking about the 5 hours of sleep, the murderous hot day or the glass of Chardonnay I had just drained, I said "SURE!" I put down a sip and I'll tell ya it was the strongest drink I have ever tasted in my life. This thing had fumes coming out of the top of the glass it was so strong. So, I handed it back to him and went and got another Chardonnay. You stupid idiot. About an hour later, my stomach and my head are doing cartwheels so I walk over to Target to get some Gatorade. I got my head to stop spinning enough to where I felt like I could drive home, so I begged dk to leave and we did. The drive home was brutal and sleeping that night was almost as bad.
I woke up at 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10am and took various forms of medication at each stop. DK left my house at about 11 and I finally managed to get out the door at about 1pm. I had some chicken nuggets for lunch from Mickey D's and I started to feel a LITTLE better but that cold LAN room just started me back downhill so I ran over to Target to pick up a hoodie and some Tylenol (and gum for Stryker - I think you shortchanged me on the reimbursement, champ :) ).
I did one series of Gauntlet on Forza2 with the family and then played a bowling game with Zorbs on the Wii. I liked the Wii but it aint worth $250. I'll pick it up when the price drops because I think my kids would really enjoy it.
We went to dinner at Chili's :
I would have taken more pics but I took two bites of my dinner and realized that was two too many and asked for a box to take the rest home.
Quick break in : Another pleasant suprise of the LAN was meeting Zorbs. I'd never remembered talking to him before but man he fit right in with our group and I hope we get him in more of our games in the future.
After dinner we stopped off at Krispy Kreme where I corralled the group for this photo-op (Kat is behind the camera) :
back at the LAN, dk showcases the teabag necklace that my wife made for him :
Last but not least, a photo-op for the family in front of the banner :
I was feeling SUPER crappy at this point so I was ready to get out of there. However, I wanted the family to sign my shirt before I did :
this makes more sense if you see it's signed on the bottom of the shirt.
uhm, does that say "Banger"? Am I supposed to know what that means?
ok, last but not least - 2 apologies -
1. I'm sorry this blog is so insanely long. Next time, I will definately break this up into smaller posts.
2. I am SO SO SO sorry to the guy whose XBox I unplugged accidentally at the LAN. I was getting ready to leave and needed to retrieve my power strip. I got the two boxes that were on it powered down but I missed the power strip that was daisy chained to it and when I pulled the power from mine, it shut down his. I was GUSHING with apologies because this guy had a BEAUTIFUL gleaming black modded 360 with blue LED's instead of green. It was a thing of beauty and if I had messed up his box, I would have been out a shitload of money to pay for it. I am really glad it turned out okay, but holy crap did that scare me.
Anyways, good time all! Look forward to next year when I will definitely stay at the hotel with y'all instead of driving 90 mind numbing minutes each way to save $50 a night on a shared hotel room.