Ben ended up arriving about 5 minutes after me, and luckily for us… we had no problems at all with registration. Aside from our name tags being missing. All that rushing made for a really stressful start to the day.
On Saturday, Liz and I headed over to Ben and Allison’s to meet up with many folks gathering to celebrate Ben’s 40th Birthday. It was a great chance to celebrate, and to meet up with many friendly faces I haven’t seen in a super long while.
The Last Defender: A Live Action, Team-Based Puzzle Hunt to Try to Save the World from Nuclear Annihilation
At the start of the evening, we were told that “Tight lips sink ships.” And that a key component was for everyone to communicate with one another. If you can imagine the fun and chaos that ensues when 16 people are trying to figure things out collectively… you can imagine what went on.
The Game Hall is essentially an old school arcade, filled with pinball machines. Each machine is set on “Free Play,” so no money is needed. The Game Hall was closed off for the morning’s tournament, but opened on Friday at 1PM. And get this: it remains open until Sunday morning. So if you felt like playing at 3AM… you could.
On Saturday, we had plans to hang out with Ben and Allison for a noon lunch. To our surprise, Chris was also over there when we arrived (he had swung by to play some pinball, as two of his machines are stored out in their garage).
Thankfully, the terms of the bet weren’t so complex as to require the use of spitshake.com. The overall wager was very straightforward – at the end of each game, the person with the highest score wins. After all our tokens are done, person with the most wins is the victor. The loser then has to change their Twitter profile to say something about how the other person is the greatest video game player in the world, name-checking the winner using their full name and Twitter handle.
Over the weekend, I ended up catching a ride with Chris and Leslie to the suburbs, where we went to go pick up not one… but two pinball machines that Chris had purchased, out in Hoffman Estates. We got some coffee, a rental van, and headed off to some random guy’s basement.
I have to say – these guys definitely know their target audience. The game selection, combined with the music and shows on TV (old episodes of American Gladiators and WWF). The drink menus were kind of spliced into old comic books, and as I ordered… I saw Randy “Macho Man” Savage fighting the Ultimate Warrior on the main TV. The whole place reeked of a certain late 80’s and early 90’s nostalgia, and it was pretty fantastic.
I remember going to roller skating parties as a kid, but I never really learned how to skate. Maybe I just avoided it entirely, as I have more memories of hanging out in the video arcade sections vs. actually roller skating. Walking inside, and seeing everyone whizzing around on the rink… I felt more than a little nervous.
We ended up taking the Blue Line over to Wicker Park, and got a table at Rodan. Had a few more drinks and some dinner (lots of Ramen on the table), and called it a night around 10PM or so. Apparently, when I’m drunk… I’m really, really interested in smoking cigarettes. Despite some attempts at peer pressure, where I was leaning on AJ and Justin a bit), there was no smoking to be had. Which in hindsight, was a good thing.
The idea came up for multiple people to all get similar full-size t-shirts… and incredibly, people started to order them independently (from The Mountain and Fab). Meagan had the excellent idea that everyone would hang out at a bar together somewhere (karaoke, maybe), and each shirt would slowl be revealed through a series of photos posted onto Flickr or Facebook. With Chris humongo Allison-faced shirt being the last image in the set.
Here’s a funny thing about keeping a daily blog for years and years: sometimes, you can pinpoint the exact date when you were last at a restaurant. In terms of going to Manny’s, the last time I was here was November 6th, 2003 – a little under nine years ago.
Yesterday morning, Ben was walking around the Product Development team, handing out these mugs to me, Chris and Justin. I forget exactly what prompted this, but I remember Ben making a joke about how he should get these mugs for everyone. A few days ago, apparently… Ben turned a whim into a reality.