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Monday, August 29, 2011

Thoughts on Riding the Bus, PAX 2011, and Chibi-Thulu

It certainly has been a few days since either myself or Katie posted some memoirs. With her being evacuated and me being in Seattle, we've definitely not had a lot of time on our hands. But fear not! While hanging in the press room waiting for it to close, I jotted some things down from Saturday. Hopefully I can read them and organise them into a post for you to enjoy!

For the weekend, I took the bus into Seattle in the morning and back home each night. It's fairly simple, as long as you know which stop you need to listen for. Thankfully I wasn't the only one on the bus that needed that stop - and this time I could actually hear the driver call out the stops too.

But for once, I was met with a strange happening. You see, I was waiting at the bus stop, about 20 minutes early because I wanted to be sure I was there on time. And this woman comes across the street and checks the schedule before inquiring about how much the bus fare is. I say $2.50, which was the amount I paid last summer. So I was pretty certain it hadn't changed. She shuffled through her wallet, trying to see if she had $2.50. When it didn't seem she did, she inquired about if I had change for a five. Unfortunately I only had enough for my fare for the morning and evening. But then an idea struck both of us. I give her my 2.50 and she uses her five for both of us. There, problem solved.

Well, since we were now fare buddies, we got to talking about the reason she was wanting to take the bus and what brought her to town. She explained that her company's headquarters were located here, and she was flying back to Brussels, Belgium in the afternoon. Her jaunt into Seattle was for a few hours to see the city. She'd been unable to since she was mostly working indoors or sleeping from her jetlag. We finally got to talking about places she could go in a few hours; which brought up Pike Place Market - the Space Needle was too far, and the bus couldn't get her there.

It's a great tourist location right near the water. It's an indoor farmers' market where the legendary Gum Wall, Market Street Theatre, the original Starbucks, and the Seattle Ghost tours are located. Definitely a great place to send her. Not to mention the Pike Place fish throwers. Yes. Fish throwing. You order fish, they throw it and get it wrapped up for you. Quite the sight to see.

We get on the bus - after a bit of trouble with the fare machine - and take our seats. Several other stops are made along the way, and it's not too long before we've hit our last stop and are taking the express the rest of the way into downtown. A family of three just got on the bus, and with it being busy, there's limited seating for three. With the dad carrying his daughter, he takes a seat next to a guy. His wife lugging the stroller goes to take a seat across from him after he gestures for her to sit there, that way they're close. The man by the window realises this and politely gets up and switches seats with the wife so that the family is all sitting together - daughter in their lap.

"Brussels" - as I've dubbed her since we didn't exchange names - smiled and whispered "That was sweet of him to do." And it's true. It was a very nice, polite gesture that sometimes you just don't see in this day and age. She and I talked for a time - as the main bridge was closed so we had to use an alternate route. But it wasn't long after the silence that we were both dozing from the gentle rocking of the bus.

I kept my ears peeled for our stop, and got out with her. Together, we walked to the street she would need to get her straight to Pike Place. She thanked me, which it truly was no problem, and we bid farewell. I wished her a safe flight to Brussels and she wished me good luck and that she hoped I could get into publishing.

Overall, it was a great bus trip. She was a cool woman to meet and talk to, while it was also nice to see that there is still some good in humanity.

PAX is the Penny Arcade Expo, which is for the fans, by the fans, of games. Board games, card games, tabletop, video games, and PC games. You name it, it's there. And I have to say, it's always a fun experience.

There was plenty of cool swag - items you get from the various booths just for trying out their product (or they're just free giveaways for doing nothing).

You can get shirts, cards, dice, hats, plushies, caffeinated drinks; you name it, I could probably find it there.

The most fun I had this weekend, was working for my friend, Momgamer - her gamer tag. She writes for a website, and was also the Media Coordinator for PAX. I spent a great deal of time hanging out with her and her deputy. Since she was unable to leave the Press room, I volunteered to go around and take pictures for her live updates of anything awesome, and try out any games that I could. It was great having quests to find various cool items of swag, or random acts of awesome. Certainly the best part was when I was just hanging out in the press room and she told me to go find out what the swag was at a certain booth once I whispered a secret code. Much cool swag was attained that way. Including getting a double dose by performing a quick clothing change.

Much rejoicing for the epic weekend.


One of the vendors at PAX is for Steve Jackson Games. He created Munchkin, along with several other card and dice games. Every year at PAX, he does a raffle once a day for a giant chibi-Cthulu. And yeah, that sounds weird, writing "Giant chibi-Cthulu," but when you look it up, Cthulu is gigantic; but this plushie is a giant version of the very small version he sells.

I wrote my name on a card and folded it a few times. Figuring I wouldn't win much of anything, I slid my name in the fishbowl and disappeared for the remainder of the day. The drawing starts at around 5:30, so I wandered back just in time to watch some of the items being given away. Some were pretty cool, like a zombie flash drive, various games his company makes. And the grand prize, the chibi-thulu.

Side note: There was strangely someone else there with my first name, which seriously threw me off. My first name is pretty uncommon unless you're German - and I'm not German. So it was a surprise to hear them shout my first name with a completely different last name. I was confused. And now back to your regular broadcast--

Finally it was time to draw for the chibi-thulu. And rule states you must be present to win. You have to the count of three after you hear your name and claim your prize. Much to my surprise, the first draw was me. Let's just say it's super rare for me to win anything. For once I won a giant plushie of a god. Then it was quite the experience taking Cthulu home with me on the bus.

Chibi-thulu chilling in a regular chair. Adorable and yet oh so deadly. 
See what I mean? This plushy is gargantuan.

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