In memory - Alan Johnson Posted: 23 Nov 2009 08:31
Tags: loss the-past
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Tomorrow is the funeral of one of my best friends. I'm a little bummed I'm not making it. He died in his sleep of ongoing heart problems.

The good

We got to know each other in junior high. I honestly don't remember how we first met, but our parents had known each other already, our fathers went to school together, and both play guitar.

We were a pretty unlikely combo, on the surface. I was the straight-laced, socially awkward walflower, he was known as "Metalica Man." Long hair, heavy metal attitude and appearance. But neither of us put much stock in the superficial, and found plenty of common ground. He was a geek at heart, when he was younger he was obsessed with dinosaurs, and wanted to be a palentologist. He was a loyal friend, and beneath his troubled exterior good at heart.

We spent an inordinate ammount of time playing Super Nintendo. We'd mow my Grandmother's yard for money, then go to 7-11 and blow it all on fighting games. I stayed over at his house a lot, mostly because his parents were the coolest about having people over. Eventually they became my second family. His house was where Alan, his sister Helen, and our mutual friend Jake spent most of our free time. We all had other friends, but I think the four of us were each others closest friends. Helen and Jake are married now. I envy that, but my gay issues are another post. When I think back to those years, most of my good memories are of the time the four of us spent together.

The bad

I considered leaving this part out, but I hate it when people try to make things seem different than they were after a tragedy like this. As time went on, Alan and I went in very different directions. I latched onto straight edge idealism. Self denial was how I operated. I honestly believed that made me a good person. My convictions were a convenient way to delay dealing with the conflict between who I am and my conservative parents. Alan became increasingly hedonistic. Which led him to Alcoholism and a failed marriage. I was by his side through all of it. I can remember writing him a letter warning him of the problems in his marriage before it was over, and never giving it to him. I don't know if it would have done any good. We were already drifting apart at this point, we were becoming very different people.

A few years after the divorce, Alan needed a place to stay. He was working in the oil fields, and I let him move in with me and share the rent. It wasn't long before he started binge drinking at home, and I'd come home to 20-30 beer bottles with a little beer and cigarette butts left in them all over the livingroom. Then he started having trouble getting rides to work and stopped going.

Things got really bad, my other roommate lost his job and so did I. I was the only one taking temp jobs and out looking for work. I bent over backwards to make sure Alan and Lonnie had the oportunity to get their shit together because that's who I am, but I could only let that go on for so long before I felt used, and found my way out in Helen and Jake (living with them didn't work out either, I was completely emotionally withdrawn at this point, Helen was pregnant, and communication broke down).

After all of this, Alan and my younger sister got together. I could see he was repeating the same pattern that happened with Amy, and was not happy with it. But it was my sister, he was still basically family to me, and so was his son. So I hoped things would be okay, and was even happy when they had a kid together. But after they split up I didn't stay in contact with him, and decided that was for the best.

Now

Alan's death has me thinking about a complicated past I've tried to move beyond. I let my life get almost completely derailed for him. But I don't regret it, I'd still bend over backwards if I think a friend needs it. I do regret the way things ended up, and I still wish for the kind of friendship we had, back in the day.

What I got out of Ignite Phoenix Posted: 05 Nov 2009 21:48
Tags: events social-media
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Ignite Phoenix 5 was a huge success. It’s an event with a simple premise: put together a presentation with a five minute slide show with 20 slides, and be passionate about what you’re talking about. The organizers did a good job of finding people who fit those criterion this time, there were no obvious work related pitches. Events like this make me proud to call Phoenix my new home.

I think the presentation that resonated with me the most was Yuri Artibise’s "Urban Space: the old skool interactive platform." He said that something new, place 2.0, has facilitated the return of something old, the third place.

Modern cities are designed for transportation, not people. As a result people are living more isolated lives. But sites like Twitter, Brightkite, and Facebook are changing how we interact with cities. The place I can walk in to where everybody knows my name is online, but it is also connected with real places, where real interaction happens. We don’t go to the neighborhood bar because we don’t live in the same neighborhood. But we go to Friday Night, we meet up for ice cream, we forge great friendships getting together to watch our favorite shows, we even get together for the holidays. It has changed how I live my life over the last few years, and I like it.

Visit http://www.ignite-phoenix.org/ for more info. They will soon post Yuri’s presentation, and the other great presentations I didn’t talk about here, which include rapping, puppets, transformers, and some ideas to think about.

(image by Tyson Crosbie)

After PAX: Back to normal life Posted: 09 Sep 2009 21:08
Tags: games pax rbn swineflu
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I'm back from Penny Arcade Expo. And as usual, it was one of the best weekends of my life.

The event itself

I talked about Rock Band probably too much while I was at the event. This was mostly because of how excited I am about Rock Band Network. I signed up for early access to the peer review team, and since that included 4 months of XNA membership I hope I can use the access to learn to track some songs and get them into the marketplace. If things work out I'll be looking for a local band with some multitrack master recordings for me to experiment with getting into the Rock Band store. I'll be doing this at Gangplank because if tracking songs for Rock Band takes off as something I can do for profit, I'd like to have the local community behind me.

Other things I was interested in: I signed up for early access to the Star Trek MMO. I usually stay away from MMOs as I generally think they require too much invested time, but I love Trek enough to want to try this out. GTA: The Ballad of Gay Tony shirts were very popular, I got one in Pink. And the big sequels like Bioshock 2 and Left 4 Dead 2, and No More Heros 2 looked awesome. There were so many awesome games it would take too long to list, and there are plenty of sites out there with better reviews than I can write.

The People, or PAX the reason why PAX is so much more than a gaming expo

PAX is more about the people than the con for many people who attend, and I never get to be around all of them at the same time anywhere else.

Friday after walking around the convention to get to know where everything is and attending the keynote and first Q&A, I broke off from my friends to have a day of faggotry. After attending the panel "How to make it in the back door: a rainbow colored perspective of the gaming industry" I went to Cafe Metropolitan for Gay Gamer's second annual meet-up. I had a great time. I wish I had schmoozed a little more, but I made some connections with great people just like last year. These events are a huge ego boost for me, because bar nights never work for me anywhere but Seattle. I also caught the end of Noobtoob's annual play-through of Kickle's Cubicle on the NES in classic console freeplay.

Saturday and Sunday were a mix of hanging with my friends, the event, and community events. My alarm didn't go off and I missed breakfast Sunday, so I didn't get to see some people I wanted to this year. The post PAX dinner downstairs at The Taphouse was a HUGE success. The catered food was good (not as good as if you order an entree in the restaurant though), we had our own bartender down there, and I can't say what one of the most awesome parts was, but let's just say I got by with a little help from my friends.

Every year I get home and find it jarring to settle back into my routine. An event that can make an introvert feel depressed from a sudden lack of stimulation and social interaction is quite something. Reading the twitter stream for the event, many people feel the same way. Even the ones who didn't get sick after.

People coming down with a cold after pushing themselves too hard to pack in as much as they can into their weekend is common, but it became more serious this year. There were confirmed cases of H1N1.

In an event of 60,000 people it's easy to still feel disconnected from the few reported cases, but I wasn't. I was (jokingly) kissed by a guy that has come down with H1N1, and he stayed in the same hotel room as some of my other friends.

I feel fine, but some of my friends currently do have the flu. I wish them a speedy recovery, especially Ben, who needs to get better and land the job he's trying for at Disney. I don't think anyone's in serious danger, but I hope the spread gets contained.

PAX Itinerary Posted: 28 Aug 2009 06:26
Tags: life pax vacation
1 comments
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Because my friends are awesome, I'm going to PAX this year. It's a convention focused on gaming in Seattle on Labor Day weekend. There are a ton of awesome people that attend the event, and so much to do that the weekend is going to be a blur. I'm going to take the time to work out the things I know I want to do, from past experience it's a mistake to over-plan the weekend, the plan'll get thrown out the door the first day.

Wednesday 9/2/09

  • Flight is at 3:12 pm, try to get to the airport at least around 2pm
    • It was a free flight. There are two layovers. 5:10 - 7:30 in San Francisco, and 9:06 to 9:31 in Portland. I figure I'll grab a snack and chill for a while in SFO
  • Booked a night at a cheap Hostle in Seattle's ID, I'm thinking I'll ride the light rail in from Tacoma, I should land at 10:20, I verified trains run until after midnight.

Thursday

  • Free breakfast at the Hostle
  • Ride the light rail to Westlake, walk to the Sheraton and drop by bags off.
  • 9:30 AM – 12:30 PM – Take the monorail to the EMP and Sci-Fi Museum
  • Try to do the Museum of History and Industry after
  • 5:00pm - 8:00 pm pre-pax Dinner
  • Take light rail back to the ID so I can meet my friends that are on the train that should arrive at 8:45pm
  • Hang out for a bit at the Sheraton then sleep

Friday

  • 7am: Walk to 7th and Pine to meet people, walk to Pike Place Market with them for breakfast
  • 10am: Con opens at 10am.
    • Keynote and PA panel 1 at 1pm (probably need to be in line early for this one)
    • @pixelpoetgg's panel at 3PM
  • 5pm until I stumble back to the hotel: Dinner meetup at Cafe Metropolitan at 1701 E Olive Way.

Saturday

Figure this day out as it happens. I want this day to be mostly about my kick ass friends. At some point try to hit up the classic console room and see if the same crew is trying to beat Kickle's Cubicle this year.

Sunday

  • 10am: Meet people for Dim Sum at Honey Court in the ID
  • 2:30 Wil Wheaton's Awesome hour
  • 5pm Omegathon
  • 8pm Hopefully the Post PAX dinner

Monday

Flight leaves at 4:32 pm, so have a chill morning then light rail it to Tacoma.

Whew, solid weekend, but I don't think it's too much.

New chapter, new blog Posted: 27 Aug 2009 07:10
Tags: life
2 comments

Most anyone who would be reading this knows things fell apart recently at the last place I lived. I was in over my head dealing with trying to keep things afloat with roommates losing their jobs.

Social networking saved me. I'm living in a decent house in a convenient location now because I've been getting to know awesome people using tools like twitter, and I got out there and attended social gatherings.

I'm in a new place, and think a new blog is fitting. I hope I use this one.

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