I’m looking forward to when I can get in on those early bird dinner specials.
Having spent three years in the video game industry, the concept of a booth babe is nothing new to me. I’ve seen hundreds of pictures from E3 where unbelievably attractive women are paid to interact with geeky guys. Now, with the recent announcement of the scaling down of future E3 conventions, I thought that along with the entire spectacle of E3, booth babes would be a thing of the past. I would never know what it would be like to awkwardly stare at one from several feet away.
So anyways, I have this friend, let’s call him “Don”. He works for a major telecom company in the Lower Mainland. He tells me that he’ll be at the Vancouver Convention Centre at Canada Place on Thursday to man a booth for his company. Since I work right next to Canada Place, “Don” says I should drop by on my lunch hour to visit and pick up some free swag. It sounds like a good idea.
On my lunch break today, I head on over to the convention centre. I meet up with “Don” at his booth. He tells me it’s so boring just standing there. Then he motions me over to one corner of the booth and then quickly points to another booth not far away. At this booth is an amazingly beautiful woman. The trade show floor is full of middle-aged guys in the telecom industry so she stands out like a supermodel in a telecom convention. She had a great tan, long dark hair, and a beautiful face.
“Don” said, “Go talk to her.” No one was with her at the time, so I thought, why not? I walked on over and I said hello to her. She smiled back and said hello. I asked her, “So what does Company XYZ do?” Now, at the time I actually thought she was a full-time employee of said company and that she might have been a PR rep or something. Then she rattled off a long, technical description of the company’s product. She kinda paused in the middle which made me think she might be a hired spokesperson just for the show.
Now I really had no idea what she had just described to me because I’m mainly a software guy. I asked her if she’d been at the show the whole two days. She said yes and that she’d been hired for just for the show to drum up as much business as possible. Hmmm… ok… so she was a hired gun. I told her I was just here visiting a friend and that I knew very little about the telecom biz. I mentioned that I worked for EA and my office was just down the street. She said, “Oh yeah EA, I did some work for them.” It turns out she was in both Fight Night and Need for Speed. Which ones I didn’t find out. She was a ring card girl in Fight Night and she was a magazine cover model that you saw when you won a race in NFS. Wow!
I told her I’d tell the boys back at the office that I saw her and thanked her for her time. I actually don’t know too many guys on the NFS team but I’ll have to mention it to them later. I walked back to “Don” and told him what I had found out. “GTF outta here! Really?” I told him yes.
“Don” was nice enough to snap a picture of me talking to the supermodel-type lady in question. It’s kinda grainy but click here for it. Oh, and I’m pretty sure this screenshot is her from Fight Night. The PS2 sure looks bad now compared to the 360.
I feel kinda silly about the whole thing. I didn’t really care for Company XYZ but I went over there and actually asked her what they made or did, all because she was super foxy. I was so predictable. I thought I was better than that!
On Friday night, I had dinner and drinks at the Backstage Lounge on Granville Island. A large group of my former co-workers were there, nearly the entire Sonic Rivals team was in attendance. The game looks awesome by the way and I’m very proud to have worked on a great title. I think I might even buy the game even though I don’t have a PSP!
Anyways, I was really happy to see everyone. They’re just as friendly as I remember them. I got to hear how everyone was doing and how the project is going on their end. Everything seemed to go suspiciously well after I left. I wonder… It was just really satisfying to hang out, have a few drinks, and chat for a couple hours. There’s more of a family feel to Backbone that you don’t get at EA.
While Friday evening was enjoyable, so was my Saturday. My good friend Garrett Knights treated me to a Saturday matinee showing of Snakes on a Plane. We screened at the movie at Metrotown, which is a place I haven’t been to in about two years, possibly more. Being there reminded me a lot of the time when I worked at EA as a tester. The mall seemed a lot less ghetto than I remembered it to be. Maybe I might return to it in the near future.
Anyways, I am glad that I didn’t pay full price for the movie. Thanks for taking that bullet for me Garrett. While it wasn’t the worst movie in the world, it certainly was lacking something. Yes, I know it’s supposed to be a bit of a tongue-in-cheek movie but unfortunately, it wasn’t so bad that it was actually good. It was too good to be horribly good. Doesn’t that make sense?
After a pleasant meal at the Metrotown Boston Pizza, I bade a farewell to GK and headed quickly home. Nigel, my lead programmer on my first project at Backbone, was having a “back-to-school” dress-up party at his new place in Vancouver. We were encouraged to dress up but I didn’t have the time nor the effort to do so. I arrived about 9:30pm and saw that another former co-worker of mine, Hugh was already there. Nigel was dressed up in this schoolboy outfit that was about two sizes too small for him. There were a lot of guys there dressed up as nerds, with glasses and “kick me” signs. Two guys were also patrolling house as hallway monitors. The girls, well, let me tell you about the girls. Most of the girls that dressed up decided to wear short, plaid schoolgirl skirts. That was alright in my books.
To top it all off, Greg, another Backboner showed up later. Hugh, Greg, and myself wound up on a couch, talking shop for a while. We were quite into it but Nigel shook his head in disapproval. You can take three programmers to a party with girls in schoolgirl outfits but you can’t make them… something. By the way, I was making myself a drink in the kitchen when I needed some ice. I opened the freezer and saw two trays of ice cubes. Without a doubt, they were the nastiest ice cubes I’ve seen in my entire life. There were bits of crud, dirt, and other “stuff” that had been frozen into the water. It was gross. I felt like hurling. I had a lukewarm drink instead.
The party itself was pretty cool. Lots of random people came. Nigel’s parties seem to attract a lot of people from all over the place. About 1am I started to get hungry, so Hugh and I went to Denny’s for a late night meal. I know it’s bad for me but breakfast at Denny’s tastes good… like pork chops.
And that was my fun weekend.
Before I started my new job, I only knew one guy at the downtown studio and that was Yoni. He was a design intern at Backbone and when that finished up, he got a full-time gig at EA. We went out for lunch one day during my first week at the studio. He took me out to this restaurant that he described as “a place inside a women’s clothing store”. It turns out that it was the cafe inside the L2 Leone store.
That place turned out to be alright but Yoni mentioned he was always on the lookout for obscure places to have lunch. One day, I was on the corner of Dunsmuir and Howe when I noticed a sign out in front of an office building. It was advertising cheap Chinese food of various kinds. At the bottom of the sign, there was the name of the place and the word “basement”.
On Thursday, I told Yoni about this and he said we should go try it. I agreed. Yoni brought another co-worker along and we all walked to this office building at Dunsmuir and Howe. W entered the lobby and found a set of stairs that led to the basement. While the lobby was somewhat modern, the staircase was decidely industrial and sterile looking. Fluorescent lights illuminated the pale green painted walls.
The staircase led to the basement where we arrived at a small hallway. It was also very industrial and sterile looking. It kinda reminded me of what a 1950s hospital basement would like. As we walked along the hallway, I could see an electrical room on my left. On my right was the janitor’s closet.
At the end of this short hallway was the “restaurant”. It appeared to consist of two rooms. One room had a sign above it, labelling it as an “eating area”. The other room was apparently the ordering area. Also at the end of the hallway were two small tables where people were already eating food. I cautiously entered the ordering area. Inside I was greeted by the sight of a small room. There was a makeshift counter that had been erected in the middle of the room. Behind the counter was a smiling couple. I could also see a small beverage refridgerator that stocked cans and bottles of drinks. A large cardboard menu was next to the counter.
The room gave me a sketchy feeling about the whole place. The equipment behind the counter wasn’t exactly the professional stuff you saw in restaurants. It was mostly stuff you would get for your home. There wasn’t a real grill or a gas stove. I saw a rice cooker that you could find in just about any Chinese family’s home. It was kinda like Mom and Pop decided to sell their home-cooked food out of a spartan room in the basement of an office building.
I warily eyed the menu. Surprisingly, they had daily specials during the week. Each day offered a new special. After a minute of wondering what the hell was going on, I decided to get yellow curry chicken on rice lunch special which meant I also got vegetables and a spring roll. Yoni got some beef and rice thing. Yoni’s co-worker got a dim sum special and a won ton soup.
The lady behind the counter smiled at us the entire time we were ordering and while she was preparing our food. We elected to eat in so she gave us our food on a really thin paper plate. We proceeded to the “eating area” which in itself was quite an experience. It was another small industrial looking room that had been converted into, for a lack of a better term, an “eating area”. There four really small tables with chairs in the room. These were old looking tables and chairs and looking at the fabric, were probably quite stylish in the 70s.
The surprising thing was that two of the tables were occupied by people. One table had two women at it and another was taken by a university-aged girl. As we sat down to our table, I noticed a cart next to it. On the cart was a 28″ TV and a DVD player. It was playing a DVD about the migratory patterns of birds from North and South America.
As I began to eat my meal, I was so hoping that despite all the quirks of this place, the food was going to be really good and this would be the hidden gem of dining in downtown Vancouver. Sadly, I was disappointed. The vegetables turned out to mostly half a plate of cabbage. While I got a hefty amount of rice, the curry chicken was way too salty for my taste. I’ve had my share of yellow curry from Thai and Indian places and this did not even come close to the best. In fact, without a doubt, my Mom makes better yellow curry chicken. Now keep in mind, my Mom has almost killed me twice with food poisoning, so that was a hell of previous statement I just made.
Yoni must have liked his food because he almost finished his. Yoni’s co-worker’s dim sum combo consisted of four pieces of dim sim and some sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaf. It looked alright but he said the won ton soup wasn’t that great.
As continued to eat, I looked at the room we were in. In one corner there was a small dresser. On top of the dresser were a set of small plastic figurines. Each one was a musician from a big band. In another corner was a set of shelves. Each shelf had some quaint trinkets on it. There were also some picture frames with pictures in it that appeared to be the ones that came with the frame at the store. There was also a small vase with a single plastic flower in it. It all reminded me of the stuff you’d find at Value Village or a Sally Ann thrift store.
We all ate very quickly and the consensus was that it’d be quite doubtful if we were to return any time soon. While I did not enjoy my meal, the whole experience left thinking about the place. How did that couple come upon the decision to open that place up? How did they see two small rooms and a hallway in the basement of an office building and decide, “Yes, we will serve food from here and people will buy it”?
I admit, I have to give the proprietors a modicum of respect for at least trying to make their little space a bit better than some random set of sterile rooms. They brought in a reasonably large TV and a DVD player for patrons to be entertained. The “eating area” was filled with decorations, which while kitschy, required a bit of effort. Above all, the couple behind the counter had a genuine sincerity about them was quite remarkable. They did everything with a smile and it was clear they were trying to make the best of the situation.
From the amount of people I saw there during my visit, I think that place might actually break even on any given month. I’m actually curious how well they do. Anyways, I’m not going back anytime soon but if anyone is interested, there’s a quirky place for ya.
I had the oddest lunch I’ve had in a very long time today. The place I went to almost defies description. In fact, I think you’d have to visit the place yourself to truly understand what I saw and experienced today.
The event itself demands a lengthy post that requires more energy and time than I have right now, so the full version will have to wait for the weekend. I will leave you with this tidbit: I ate lunch in a basement today.
“I gotta mention our sponsors… Dr. Scholl’s comfort gel insoles for women. You know, women… they got delicate feet. I once made love to lady’s foot for seven hours. But then the nurse came in and said, ‘Mr. Bennett… she’s gone…'”
For thousands of students in the Lower Mainland, today marked the first day of school for the academic year. From the tiny ones in kindergarten to the first year noobs at UBC, lots of people were experiencing new things today.
I for one, expected traffic to be a lot more congested this morning. It turns out I was wrong. Yeah, there were a lot more cars on my street this morning but that’s because I live a block away from an elementary school. Other than that, it was a pretty good commute. My bus was actually less crowded than usual which was a most pleasant surprise. I got a nice comfy seat to myself. I hope this trend continues tomorrow.
On a bus related note, I managed to lose my bus pass for about five hours today. It somehow slipped out of my pocket at the place I was having lunch at. That almost caused me to be late going home but it’s a good thing the Cecil has a great lost and found department. Bada bing!
The long weekend is over and by most people’s standards, the summer is also over. I always align the beginning of May as the beginning of summer because for university students, that’s when classes end. May is also when the movie studios mark the start of their summer season.
Four months have come and gone. It seems like not a lot happened but then if you kinda squint at my summer, yeah, a few things changed here and there. I can tell you it was lot different than last summer. Oh the previous summer started off with me just finished my degree and being unemployed. Soon after, I got a job at Backbone and thus started my new career. Looking back at those four months, the summer of 2005 was pretty damn good. Lots of my friends were still in Vancouver and I still had my apartment on campus.
This summer was a bit different. I started May off on a vacation of sorts, a reward for working long hours on a game that had been in production for over a year. I’ll be honest here and say I have some serious doubts if that game will ever see the light of day. The rest of May was spent trying to get used to the new project I was on. By June, things were rolling alright at work but things weren’t perfect. Then July rolled around and things got crazy. For about three weeks, I had no idea if I was going to take a job with EA or if I was going to stay. The decision gnawed at me for a long time and I really burned a lot of time that I could used to enjoy the nice weather.
Well, with the decision made, I received a week off at the beginning of August to recharge and relax. I can’t even remember most of what the hell I did with that time. I know I didn’t go away but I do remember seeing Superman Returns and having a few drinks with Tim and Ron.
All of August has been essentially a blur to me. From the two weeks in Burnaby to the rest of the time downtown, it’s been a whirlwind of new terminology, new processes, new faces, and new places. Hell, it’s already the fifth of September tomorrow. A sixth of the month is already over.
Yes, the forecast calls for sunny skies tomorrow but by month’s end, the all too familiar crispness of Vancouver autumns will be creeping in. The grey won’t be far too behind with the rain. This fall, I’m going buy one of those full spectrum, natural light desk lamps for work. I don’t think I get depressed during the rainy season but hey, it can’t hurt.
Well, at least hockey is going to start soon!
I had lunch my friend and former co-worker Ron on Thursday. He was nice enough to come down to studio to meet up with me. We headed out to the nearby Lions Pub for lunch. I’d been there once before and the service was fast and the Montreal smoked meat sandwich was fantastic. This time around though, neither the service was fast nor was the food great. Don’t get the clubhouse sandwich if you’re ever there.
I enjoy Ron’s company whenever we hang out. I credit him and some other people at Backbone for making last year’s long and cold winter just bearable enough for me to survive into the spring. We talked about a lot of things at lunch but the conversation eventually drifted towards “The Bet” which remains one of my favourite posts of all-time. It garnered a lot of comments and discussion which I always love to see with posts.
Anyways, Ron asked me how things were going on that front. I told him progress had ground to a halt. Oh sure, I had gotten Jennifer Love Hewitt’s phone number but she refused to go out on even one date with me. When Ron’s mocking laughter had subsided, we realized that we were approaching the ninth month mark since the inception of this wager. Almost a year had gone by. Feeling sympathy for me, Ron announced he would waive one of the stipulations in the legal wording.
Previously, Ron had forbade me to use the Interent to pursue the fulfillment of “The Bet”. That meant that I could not use dating sites, chat room, forums, or Craigslist postings. From his point of view though, the removal of such a restriction was going to affect the bet as much as a drop of water fills a bucket.
I’d like to think the task got easier but I can certainly see his point. Well, in any case, Lavalife here I come! 🙂