My Trip To NJ (oh, and the ACPL I went to on the way…)

Phew. Bet you thought I’d never get this up, huh? Let me start by saying if you want to skip a LOOOOONG and boring story, get to the pics here. Otherwise (you fool!)

Well, sorry, but I had bunches an bunches of stuff to do. Like, call my insurance company. Why? Oh, to get information for the accident. What accident, you ask? Ah, I’m getting ahead of myself here! Lemme start from the beginning:

As a child, I was often told that wearing underwear was a GOOD thing. But I wouldn’t listen, you see, because…eh? Oh, FINE. Not that far back, then.

Well, we started out good. All our gear was loaded, we had ample supplies, and life, as they say, was good. We sailed on through Pennsylvania remarkably unticketed, considering my tendency to let the speedometer drift up to around 85mph. Hey, it’s not MY fault that Ford Focus is a hawt racer machine!

So things were good. We cruised through to the end of the PA Turnpike, where we only had to pay $23,426 and a kidney. Did I mention tolls are ridiculous nowadays? Anyway, PA is now behind us.

Enter New Jersey.

New Jersey, sometimes referred to as NJ, sometimes called The Garden State and sometimes affectionately referred to as the Ninth Plane of Hell.

Let’s make no qualms: I hate New Jersey. Why, you ask? Well, not just because Bats lives there. No, I hate New Jersey for a plethora of reasons, chiefly amongst them is the fact that you can’t pump your own gas. Like no one in New Jersey is smart enough to figure out how to work this stunning new technology called a “Gas Pump.” They have to select their brightest, most skilled warriors and send them off to a special school to train in the usage of these deadly devices. Because heaven forbid they behave like those heathens in the other states and let people pump their own gas! Gasp! Blasphemy! People would douse each other in gasoline and run RIGHT into a bonfire, I tell you!

So anyway. I hate New Jersey. Which is a pisser, because I travel through it quite often, and I think the words getting out.

We’re stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. A traffic jam. Why, you ask? An accident? A twenty-car pile up? A bridge out? Construction? No, no, no – nothing so enjoyable. We’re all backed up in the northbound lanes because there’s a truck on fire.

In the southbound lanes.

And GOOD GOD, someone drive by that without slowing down to 5mph so they can get their daily dose of gore? Never! Sigh. And before you people start leaping all over me accusing me of doing the same thing, let me assure you I don’t: Kwipettes job when we’re driving is to ogle the gore and then describe it to me in graphic detail. Gets me hawt, ya know.

So anyway, there we are, crawling along. Well, some of us were, anyway. Why only some of us? That’s simple, bucky! It’s only some of us because while myself and everyone in front of me is only doing 5-10mph, the asshole behind me is doing 25mph! And not looking! I know this, because I looked into the rearview mirror in time to see him speeding up on us with his face fully pointing into what looked like the glove compartment. I had a split second to react; twenty things flashed into my mind – warn Kwipette! Brace for impact! Turn the car out of the way! Wet your pants! Scream obscenities!

As it turns out, my lightning-quick reflexes allowed me to do none of these things. Instead, I tighten every muscle in my body in a pretty good impersonation of rigor mortis. This is probably more information than you want (or need) to know, but if there would have been a lump of coal up my ass, I would’ve had a diamond that would shame the Hope Diamond after that accident. Of course, then I’d have to explain why I had a lump of my coal up my ass, and that would invariably lead to a joke in poor taste about Santa Claus, so let’s just skip this chapter, shall we?

Anyway, back to our story. So the person behind me, whom I shall refer to as Asshole, decides he likes my trunk. He likes it so much, in fact, that he’s going to attempt to park there. He ass-ends me a pretty good clip, which knocks me into the car in front of me. Which was the worst part of this – I mean, sure, you run into assholes, it happens. But my job in this encounter was supposed to be the Asshole Buffer, and keep other people’s contact with said Asshole down to a minimum. Unfortunately, Asshole’s personality (and speed) were such that they could not be restrained. So WHAMMO, Kwipette and I get to meet the people in front of us.

From there it was rather uneventful. Everyone pulls over. The nice, attractive young couple in front of us get out of their (expensive) car and Kwipette and I confer with them to ensure no one in either of our vehicles is hurt. Then we turn our attentions to Asshole, who still hasn’t pulled over to the side of the road, delaying traffic even more. Finally the logic gets jarred around in his head and he pulls over. He begins to clamber out of his car, and I see he has a (quite) pregnant woman and small child with him. I ask if everyone in his vehicle is ok, and he says yes, and asks if we’re all ok. We say yes. He asks if someone’s called the police, and I say yes, the young lady from ‘up front’ has. He says good.

And gets back in his car.

Without apologizing.

Look, I’m all about fucking up. Why, if I haven’t accidently knocked someone over and stood on their throat before lunch, it’s a miracle. I’m a clumsy, fat, oafish mess that rarely manages to win the battle with gravity and grace when it comes to getting out of my chair. I KNOW about accidents. So if you screw up and bring ME into YOUR accident, I’m not very likely to get too upset.

So long as you apologize.

Apologies are weird things; they don’t mean that much until someone totally screws the pooch and then fails to utter any sort of regret about it. And then there’s the whole issue of sincerity. But at least make the gesture, man!

Sigh. But it was okay. Because as we sat there, parked along the NJ Turnpike, baking in the sun, hating everything, I saw something that made it all okay – I saw that God was on our side.

Anyway, Asshole got two citations – one for not having a child safety seat, and the other for being stupid in a no-stupid zone. We got back on the highway and beat feet outta that crazy state. I’m still waiting on the accident report. Ten days to process. Hrmph.

So back to the ACPL! Bet you thought I’d forgotten, huh? Well, I DO have one more sidetrack. My dad lives in Lake Webster, Mass. So we stopped there Thursday nite. While there, I remarked with great envy on my father’s Xbox. He stated that he does not use it, and that I’m welcome to take it home.

For free.

The next morning Kwipette suggested that perhaps we should confirm his sincerity, due to the fact that he and I had been drinking heavily during our conversation. I pointed out to her that if we did that, there was a possibility he could change his mind, and that would result in me NOT having an Xbox. Which is not the goal I was looking for here.

While there, we took my car to a friend of my father’s that owns a body shop. He took a look at my car and stated, in the subtle dialect of the New England area, that I was “fucked,” as he so-quaintly put it. Sigh. He said ballpark of $7-8,000 worth of damage, and 2-3 weeks worth of work.

I hate New Jersey.

Anyway, he fixed up our car enough so no pieces were falling off and straightened out what he could so that it would be legal to drive it, provided I didn’t set fire to any parts of it or run down small children. And off we went!

We got to the hotel around 4pm. Upon entering the lobby, we spotted a group of people sitting around and INSTANTLY assessed they were ACers. The keen edge to their eyes, the twitching of their fingers, the fact that they were discussing their favorite quests…Yup, I’m quick like a whip.

I went to the counter to sign in, and one of the people in the lobby pointed at me. “Kwip? Are you Kwip?”

That’s always a weird moment for me. You may not know this, but I STRIVE for love and attention. But when presented with it in public, I get very panicky, because I’m never sure if the person addressing me is going to say something nice or if they’re going to punch me in the throat, take my lunch money, and tell me my stories are dumb.

But this turned out to be the former. “I love your stories!” And the rest of the people in the lobby chimed in with their agreement. My head swelled up so that they needed to call a bellboy to hammer it through the doors.

Enough ego-stroking (well, not really, but I’ll talk more about that later)! We went up to our room, which we had arranged to adjoin Quixotics. I pounded on the door between our rooms, basically waking him up and scaring the hell outta him, because he had been up since 4 am and had just arrived and laid down to have nap. I was having none of that courtesy crap, and insisted he get up and accompany us to get something to eat. He whined a bit about it, but then I mentioned the possibility of beer, and he acquiesced in a hurry. Off we went to get something to eat. Another pass through the lobby, more love, more swollen ego, more bellboy pounding head through door.

We hit a restaurant next door where Kwipette and I partook of some fresh seafood goodness that marks the area and we all began drinking. The rest of the night passed in a blur.

The next morning…no, I’m kidding. Ha! After dinner we waddled back to the hotel to rest up a bit before that night’s activities. I knew the WCoD folks were up to no good someplace, but I couldn’t find them. I even resorted to setting an open beer outside my door. But they were too clever for my trap! After patrolling the grounds for them, I gave up and sat in my room, sulking.

However, Quix being the boy genius that he r, pulled out the contacts. He put a call into Yuan, and Yuan came in his Yuan mobile! But he did not come alone – oh no! He brought with him his beautiful, incredibly sexy sidekick, beer! Oh, and Ninjamouse (uh, the joke there for the slower people, especially Bats, is that Ninjamouse was the beautiful sidekick – get it?).

Anyway, they not only brought beer, but they brought Dance Dance Revolution. Yes. This was my first true introduction to the world of DDR. Shortly after they showed up, Devilmouse and K80 arrived too, and it was officially a party. Well, except that Devilmouse had to run back out to get food – which turned out for the better, because the food wound up being a source of endless amusement, so all was good. And then more people showed up, and someone got some more beer, so all was even better.

So now I got to meet this DDR that I had heard so much about. Not only meet it, but make fun of all the people that turned up later to try it out. It became quite an obsession. Our adjoining rooms became the center of a whole new type of revolution: a Dance Dance Revolution. As with all Revolutions, however, it had to end. Yes, the VCR was rudely disconnected from that girly game to make way for the true purpose of our gathering: Death Tank.

The problem is, that after having watched the game being played last year, I felt rather confident that I could make a good showing this year. Well, no, I lie. The problem is that I SUCK.

I got firsties on Death Tank. Death Tank commences. I get my ass roxored. Badly.

In fact, I finish the game up with a total score of 0. Yes, ZERO. I effectively did nothing the entire game except to serve as the catcher for everyone else’s nukes, corbite, Deathheads, rolling mines – you name it, if it was coming towards me, I leapt up and shoved my face right into it. Well, at least I’m consistent in my suckitude.

The Death Tank party continued on into the wee hours, bringing some old friends from last ACPL back, as well as introducing me to some new friends. Eldreth is a quiet, quiet man. But if you think that means he won’t fire a nuke into your back when you’re not looking, you’re sadly, sadly mistaken. The best part of the evening was the Death Tank round that found Maggie and Kwipette as the sole survivors, battling it out. I tried to convince them that there was an easier way – ie, getting in their bathing suits and settling the matter in the mud pit – but they merely responded with slaps to my face and kicks to my sensitive bits. See what I get for trying to help?

The next morning came WAY too early, as these things often do. I’m putting in a motion for next years ACPL to begin at like noon or something. This 9am crap’s for the birds. But we struggle blearily downstairs, starved outta my mind. It’s been like 3 hours or something since I last ate, so I’m ravenous.

We make it to the cafe in the hotel, and there chance upon the WCoD’ers. They catch me with a plate piled to the ceiling with bacon. And one slice of waffle, I think. Anyway, my arteries are hardening just looking at it, and I’ve begun to drool rather heavily. But I’m whisked away from that fatty goodness to greet the WCoD’ers. Which is all good, because that gives me an opportunity to try and convince Ibn Schachabo that I’m Jason Booth. He falls for it (thanks to a craftily stolen Turbine nametag from last year), but before I can convince him to give me his wallet, everyone else lets him in on the hoax. Hrmph. See if I give THEM a cut of my goodies! I got to meet Sue Anne (sp?) there, too. And I must say, she is painfully hawt. For those of you who had missed out on the pics of her all over the place, well, now you know. That is, after all, what I’m here to do – help you guys know who the hawties are. Shall we continue?

Right. They let me get back to my bucket of lard for breakfast, and I dig my way through. After that, Kwipette and I make our way to the line for the ACPL sign-in, which is like 20 miles long. Luckily for us, it was a lovely morning (if you’re not hungover and fearful of the sun god). And Yuan and Ninjamouse arrive in line right behind us, so we have someones to cause mischief with. And mischief we cause, as we try to entice the entire line into a rousing chorus of Koom-bah-yah (does anyone even know how that’s spelt? Not that I care, just curious). Security shows up and tells us that if we don’t keep it down, they shall be forced to mace us and stomp on our throats, which they demonstrate on me. Everyone else gets the message, and seems delighted at my discomfort. Hrmph. Bastiches.

The sign up proceeds smoothly – I was impressed with the efficiency. You could tell this wasn’t an MS operation. (Woah! That’s a diss!). We get our goodie bags – and let me just tell you, they KICKED ASS. My little olthoi-clad monkey is sitting on my monitor, watching me type this instead of working. The artwork was fantastic, and the other little knick-knacks most beuno. I do have to give one criticism, tho – Um, guys? Let’s look a bit at the target audience here. I realize that among there are some pretty svelt people that play this game. However, there are a number of us – a large number, much pun intended – that couldn’t fit into an XL with a crowbar and a bottle of KY. Next year, could we see some love to our fat asses? Thank you!

We proceed into the chambers, meeting and greeting as we go – Allen cut his hair! He looks like a grown up! – and find that Quix has saved us seats. Because I’m a miserable bastard, I take the time to complain that the seats are on the entire opposite side of the room from the Devs, where my ass-kissing will be very difficult to perceive. Quix responds with something along the lines of “Quiet or I’ll sqoosh your head.” Not being sure what a ‘sqoosh’-ing consists of, but relatively sure I don’t wish to endure it, I acquiese and sit quietly.

You can read (and hear) about the stuff on other sites; Warcry has a good write-up, and Maggie’s got some great photos. I’m not so concerned with that as I am with the mirth and merriment that went on. And the babes, of course. I wouldn’t let you guys down on that.

During the breaks, a number of people come up to us and tell us how much they enjoy the site. I hate that. Like, I hate that the same way I’d hate it if a truck of Ben & Jerry’s crashed in front of my house and I had to find a home for all those orphaned pints, ya know what I mean? There are so many cool people there, it’s really cool to meet them all. Some of the ones that really stand out in my mind (of course I took no pictures because I’m an idiot and I’m equally bad with names, duh) were a woman that traps lobsters (what she does with them after she traps them, I’m not so sure, but thank God she’s out there protecting the sea lanes, that’s all I know); a german physicist (what’s it like to understand another language so well you actually get the jokes, as bad as they are); a couple of current and ex-military types; oh! and this super hawt little chick that plays on DT (I wish I would’ve taken a pic so you guys would believe me)! Can you believe that? Weird.

Anyway, then we broke for lunch. Lunch was so-so (they tried to feed me vegetables. VEGETABLES! You know what those things do to you?), but we had fun singing Happy Birthday to Ravlen. It was a bit crowded in the chow hall, too. I was gonna sit with Ophelea, but she said I had to go find a left-handed fork. By the time I found one, her table was all filled up (don’t tell anyone, but I secretly suspect she tricked me!) but luckily Soulitaire didn’t mind if I sat with him. In fact, he even groped my knee, and I didn’t have to give him money! I think Kwipette was pretty jealous, but she managed to restrain herself. I mean, let’s face it: I am a sex symbol. Sigh, okay, maybe not, but a guy can dream, can’t he? I kept waiting for someone to ask me to autograph their breasts. The closest I got was stabbing myself in the boob with my name tag. Not too hawt, that.

We finish up lunch, meet some more folks, and then we’re back outside to goof off some more. More of the devs came out now, and it was cool to see the ones we’d met from last year. They’re a pretty wacky lot, and tolerate me pretty well. Kwipette didn’t have to give me the “you’re making an ass out of yourself” signal (some people call this a throat punch, but we like our little pet names) during our visits with them, so I consider that a success. I really like talking to them; besides just being a cool group of people, it’s interesting to hear what it’s like inside Turbine. It may seem like fun and games to us outsiders, but apparently they’ve been having a rash of problems with assassins lately.

We went back in for another Q&A session, this time with the AC2 team. Again, I have no idea what was said, because I was still stuck on the distraction of Kwipette and Maggie settling their Death Tank round. Well, okay, I did pay attention, because the game is gorgeous. It’s just unbelievably cool. They showed us a preview (again, other sites can give you info better than me) that was really interesting (a bit buggy, but they got it straightened out). The music aspect of AC2 really intrigues me. A lot of hard-core gamers are dismissing it out of hand, but I think that it’s really going to be a pretty interesting little tidbit for casual gamers – an entire new social world that’s going to open up whole new fields in the MOG arena. But let’s get back to talking about zanniness…

We got another break b/t the AC2 segment and the Whose Drudge part. During this break, Tim approached me and begged to be on the site. Tim was the first person to ask for my autograph. After this gets out, he’ll probably be the last. Yes, I mock, but I do so in a loving way, I assure you – he’s one hell of a nice guy, and I’ll defend his right to wear towel pants with my dying breath…

Back inside for Whose Drudge. As was their duty, the performers gave their best, and as was our duty, we mocked, laughed, and shoved cameras in each others’ faces. It was much better this year, though, because I did not get signed up by someone else, like I did last year. *Shoots dirty look at Tim* And this year featured a performance by someone with church bells for balls – the guy got up there and viciously mocked Ken Karl. Hey, I can’t speak for Ken’s sense of humor, but it sure stunned me! Of course, afterwards I found out that the winning prize was video cards. Suddenly I was pissed no one had signed me up on their team – especially the winning team!

The ACPL ended with a pretty big bang – the betas brought the house down. I have to say, tho, that Quix and Merry both guessed that one. Each of them clued into that earlier in the day. Myself, I was about as oblivious as they come – they coulda been leading me to the slaughterhouse for all my keen powers of observation.

Kwipette and I retreated to the room for some much-needed nappage (uh, the sleeping kind, you perverts). It had been a long day, and we knew it would stretch on. A couple of hours later, Kwipette was still feeling wiped, so she sent me on ahead without her. How she could POSSIBLY let me out of her sight, wearing my favorite Haiwaiin shirt, was beyond me. The faith that woman has in me is inspiring. I mean, I pondered whether to call for security to escort me through the throngs of women I knew were downstairs waiting to tear this shirt of my back…they must’ve been waiting by the wrong entrance, though, because when I came down, they weren’t in site. Hrmph.

I spent some time searching for Sneezy and the other Warcry folks. I told Sneezy at least I’d meet up with her later, and I wanted to get in with the big kids from Warcry so I could sit at their table next time. But both the bars I came into were empty. There were some ACers there, definately, but I’m not quite so arrogant yet to assume that I can barge into the middle of any AC group and instantly be welcome. My luck, it’d be a group of Bloods sitting around talking about how they haven’t kicked anyone’s ass in forever, and I’d end up with my shirt torn off my back alright…then stuffed in one orifice or another…

So after this broken quest, I gave up and figured I’d just head to the Blue Bordello (I was told that’s its new name). Anyone guess who came up with that name?

I arrived there and found Quix and Ninjamouse already there. I did my par-tay thing, mixed a few drinkie-poos, and then heard the mumbled air of disbelief arise from those inside: Ninjamouse had brought with her not ONE, but TWO DDR pads.

The Revolution-ing that would go on tonite would go down in history.

There has been much talk about the car-bombing, so I won’t cover it here: sufficeth to say that it was more fun to watch than to get hit with one. I hung out in the back in my uber two-seater fold up chair, and visited with lots of cool people. As the evening wore on, even MORE cool people showed up, and the mirth and merriment increased exponentially. I stole Michelle away from Chris to go for an ice run (I can’t BELIEVE he just let her go with me! Me! The AC Hawt Guy!), and got the opportunity to learn that I had NO idea where the hell I was. In fact, if we had passed a sign that said, “Welcome to Canada, eh” I wouldn’t have been surprised. Scared as hell, mind you, but not surprised. But our run  was successful  – even though THE MAN tried to stop us! But no way! We were going for it! (A police car was in our way in the parking lot. We had to wait for him to move. Good thing he didn’t follow us back, that’s all I can say)

Returning to the party found many people now the victims of car bombs, and much laughter and unconsciousness were beginning to show up. Finally, sadly, all good things must end. It was late, I was tired, and Quix was gonna puke. It had been TEN YEARS since he was this drunk, after all. And it will probably be another TEN YEARS before I let him live this down. Heh.

This was another fantastic gathering. Seeing the old friends, making new ones, getting my ego stroked and having my ass soundly thrashed at Death Tank are why I keep coming back. If you made it, I hope you had as good a time as I; if not, I hope you’re not whining about not getting a Beta like those sniveling bitches on the boards. Whine about not getting to meet the hawtness that is K80, Sue Anne, Michelle, Kim, Maggie, and several others that I’ve forgotten; whine about not getting to see Allan doing Chris Farley; or whine about not getting to have your ass spanked in Death Tank – those are worthy whines!

So, thanks for reading through this TOME of an entry. Sheesh. For as long as it is, you’d think that I could’ve at least made it funny.