GerbilMechs 108: Family Outing

05Oct2004 (Monthenor): Here we see one of the flaws of the hamsters' familial apprenticeship system. Granted, nobody plans to be eaten by a pissed-off mechanical cat.

So my week of awesomeness has come and gone. And what didst transpire?

Tuesday: Rilo Kiley in concert, beyotches! I've had my tickets for a month, accepting the asinine Ticketmaster fees just for a guarantee that I would get in. I thought I had reached my life-long goal of being the least responsible person I know, but as I was preparing to leave my sister called and told me that she didn't have play practice that night after all. Awesome in terms of having company, a major setback in terms of being a goddamn slacker.

We reached The Quest in plenty of time to stand in line. There were even tickets at the door for Sparrow to buy, avoiding an incident that I would interpret as divine decree that I not see Rilo Kiley live. Not even the rich promise of White Castle could distract me.

Now It's Overhead - This band played second, but I will dispense with them first because...well, they weren't very entertaining. That's not to say they're a bad band, because they aren't. Musically and lyrically they are just as good as anything on the radio, and probably better. They were just...generic. Generic alterna-rock. They aren't the crazy, fierce uniqueness populating the rest of the bill. There were four of them in the standard guitar-guitar-bass-drum setup. What's more, none of them seemed to be enjoying themselves. The bassist had his back turned to the rest of the band and half the room the entire time. There was no stage presence or energy about them, and it tainted their musicianship. I hope they all had the flu, or that they find more fulfilling work soon.

Tilly and the Wall - Now we're talking. My cousin clued me into their free album in June, and I fell in love. They sound sort of like 60's folk rock, but (amazingly) without the war protesting and with a lot more tap dancing. That's right: tap dancing. There are no drums allowed in Tilly's Wall. As much as tap dancing is a neat trick on the album, when you see it live it becomes something sublime. All five members of the group were jumping and strumming and singing and tambouring and whatnot the whole time. They were completely into the show and having a great time. I suggest you all get their music, but those lucky millions who live in a city along the tour route should try to see Tilly and the Wall live.

Rilo Kiley - they wouldn't totally rock the room? Holy shit. I don't like the male vocalist, but when his songs aren't totally processed and floaty-voiced and stuff it's tolerable. Jenny Lewis is still the star of the show and she has apparently taken rocking lessons since her early acting career. I bet she can't wait until nobody brings up her acting career.

White Castle lived up to expectations as well, and we even got free drinks for waiting on our order so long. There's a lesson for you there: restaurants will do anything to make two honkies trying to tap-dance go away, up to and including fulfilling their foodly obligations.

Friday: Console party. Did it rock as well? Why yes, yes it did. The breakout star of the night was a Burnout 3, a racing game that pretty much ignores all the racing portions and encourages you to smack cars around. Like a demolition derby, except everybody drives in one direction. We gathered eight people for the Party Crash mode, wherein everybody passes one controller around and takes turns trying to beat the most hell out of a busy intersection. And then, after X number of cars crash, you get a Crashbreaker. What this does is turn your R2 button into the Touch of Death, asploding your already-mangled car wreckage and giving you slow-motion control over its Arc of Destruction. So we have, in this simple package, what are really three important game skills. 1) Drive headlong into the busiest traffic you can find -- ideally an oil tanker. 2) Blow the crap out of the traffic jam you create. 3) Trash talk your competitors, especially the ones who somehow miraculously manage to not hit a single car.

There was the normal Halo, Soul Calibur 2, and even some retro Blood Wake, but Burnout 3 stole the night. As I was leaving there was, get this, a 3DO demonstration and a Dreamcast, but the party had pretty much broken up by then.

Saturday: I slept laaaaate no Saturday and only really got up for the promise of Magic: The Gathering booster draft. As depicted in the comic last Friday, the new set is uniquely tailored to ALL of my hobbies. I'd never played an official tournament before, and hadn't played Magic at all for six years, so I thought I'd just screw around with some funny cards and get knocked out of contention.

Okay, no, my ego doesn't let me think things like that for real, but it's what I expected to happen. I guess I underestimated how new the set is to everyone, and how much I learn by reading the web site every day. On my first draft I lucked into four -- that's FOUR -- of perhaps the best little creature in the set, Nezumi Cutthroat. Or, as I now call him, the Rat Bastard. I didn't get to play a whole lot of this deck; I'd get two of those guys out and the game would end by turn six. The other cards were just redundant. I ratted my way to victory, which meant I got to play my next booster draft for free.

When we finally got another eight people together, I ended up with a pretty sweet little white/red deck. I scored a couple of fat white creatures and a bunch of red damage to back them up. Unfortunately, I played like shit. No two ways about it, I faced a fast green deck in the second round and choked. I'll probably never make that combat math mistake again, but my actions cost me that game. It was still fun...I'll probably be going back once a month or so to draft. That seems like a nice balance between desire and cost.