JAA NYC Finals (DoomMullet) – A Mullet's Tale
There and Back Again: A Mullet's Tale
by Adam Bojak
Please note that the video and image links are removed as of now due them no longer being active.
The following is as accurate as I can remember it. It's hard to remember exact events from 5 whole days, especially once you've been home from the trip for a while. For instance, I'll remember what was said word for word, but I have trouble remembering who actually said it. Also, I tried hard to include all the phone calls that were made to Smogoners on the trip, but all I have to go on is my cellphone's call history and my memory, and neither are 100% correct. So when you compare my story with others who experienced the same events, take your own truth from it if they differ anywhere. But I will say this: nothing in this story is made up or embellished in any way.
The Hero of Our Story:
The Men of Room 3360:
The Others that Our Heroes Met in Their Journey:
CHAPTER ONE: Saturday, August 5th
I had originally planned on driving down, but once I was convinced that it would be cheaper to fly, I booked a flight that left at 3:50pm from Buffalo and got into New York City's La Guardia Airport at 5:30pm. So, I lazily woke up around noon or so and slowly packed up. I read the forums, hopped on #smogon one last time to say my goodbyes, and at 2pm I hopped into the car and my dad drove me to the airport. Of course, I was incredibly early for my flight, so I stopped off at a bar near my gate for the most expensive Bud Light I've ever had.
$6 poorer and 20 minutes later, I went to my gate and sat down to listen to some music. Finally, my flight began to board. Since it was just a dinky little flight across New York (not even two hours long) we got a piece of shit plane that wasn't even good enough to make it to a jetway. I, of course, snapped a shot of my outbound Pokémon.
The flight was boring as hell, as you might imagine. I only had one CD, and I'd already listened to the whole thing twice through. So I grabbed those pathetic travel magazines they make specially for their seatbacks and started reading. Lo and behold, there was an article about the elevators in the hotel I was about to stay at, so naturally, I had to document it.
But what is this! As I looked longingly out the window at the earth below, I caught a glimpse of everyone's favorite Smogon Bengali, Dougun Mia. I waved happily, but he was too preoccupied with his friend to wave back.
All the water I had been drinking all day had finally caught up to me, so I made a trip to the bathroom. Little did I know that the bathroom in this plane was actually a converted overhead compartment. Here is me standing at full height, just a bit put out by having to piss under such conditions.
After a bunch of pictures of cloud formations that I thought were super neat, we had arrived at our destination. During a slight right-hand turn, I was fortunate enough to catch a wonderful shot of Central Park in all its glory.
We landed, and I sent a text message to Articuno64 (referred to hereafter as Arti) saying so. When I got to the baggage claim, I got a call from him saying that he had also arrived and had scheduled himself a shuttle to the hotel and that we'd meet there. After grabbing my luggage, I also scheduled a shuttle, which ended up showing up 15 minutes early. I hopped in and was on my way.
Now, for those who have never experienced New York City, let me say this... if you can at all avoid driving, for god's sake, DON'T. More than that, DON'T be a passenger in any vehicles. My testicles were in my stomach for the entire trip from La Guardia to the hotel, due to the fact that the driver liked to go from 0 to 40mph in a matter of seconds, and stop just as quickly. If there is a god, he was watching over our van that day, because he saved about 20-25 pedestrians from being run over and dying horribly.
We made it to the hotel in one piece, a miracle that led to the $5 tip I gave the driver. I entered the hotel at the ground level and rode the elevator up into what I thought was the lobby.
Turns out I was impressed for basically no reason at all, because that was just one of 7 floors devoted to bars and restaurants inside the hotel. After asking a nice hotel attendant where the damn lobby was, I rode the elevator up to floor 8 to check in.
But, ahhh, my unending incompetence. Every single trip I take, no matter where, I forget something. Big or small, I never remember everything I'm supposed to bring. This trip, I decided to forget the most important thing. When skarm got us our discount on the hotel room, he mailed me a form with his signature as well as his superior's. He made it a point of telling me that I couldn't forget it, that I needed to present it upon check-in.
So I forgot it.
On top of that, they want me to pay for the entire trip up front on my credit card. That was a joke, considering only two nights would've already gone above my credit limit, let alone three. But the attendant was incredibly patient and helpful—he agreed to only charge me for a portion of the first night; when I told him the paperwork I was supposed to have was at my house, he said as long as I had it faxed to the hotel before the next night I could keep the rate. (I got a hold of my dad and he saved my ass.) After all that was taken care of, he gave me three keycards to my temporary home, Room 3360. I punched 33 into the elevator keypad and was on my way. Nothing, though, could have prepared me for the luxury that I would be treated to for the next three nights.
Right after I had scoped out the room and put my bags down, I got a call from Jumpman16 (referred to hereafter as Jump). I had talked to him earlier, so he knew when and where I'd be, and he told me that he was at my hotel. I told him I'd meet him in the lobby and started on down, but not before getting a video of the view from the edge outside the door to the room.
Jump was right there waiting when I got off the elevator, and we introduced ourselves to each other. It's odd meeting someone you've never met before but have known for 4 years online: it was as if we were old friends, because there was a handshake and a hug right off the bat. Jump was the second Smogoner I'd ever met, first since Dweedle in July 2005.
Arti's recurring shuttle problems had begun at this point, I called him multiple times and he had still not gotten anywhere near the hotel. After a quick conversation, Jump and I decided just to walk around outside until Arti arrived. It was during this little jaunt that Running Theme #1 for the trip was established: shouting out random Pokémon names. Here's some media of the two of us checking out the Times Square area.
We didn't get too far, luckily, because Arti called us shortly after and said he had arrived. We headed back to the hotel and up to the lobby, finally finding Arti and proceeding with more handshake-hug combos. Arti grabbed his bags and we went up to the room to help him get settled in before trekking out into the city.
When we got into the room, the sun had begun to set and looked amazing out our window, so I did my best to capture it. The first picture is better just for a general view from our room, but the second with the zoom grabbed it a bit better.
We figured, at this point, that it was time to attempt some video game nerdery. Arti opened up his bag and showed to us one of the most delightful surprises of the trip... Twix bars. LOTS of them. Yum. I was elated, to say the least.
As you can see, the electronics started coming out as well, so I went to check the TV for audio/video inputs. The TV set was on a sliding shelf, so I pulled it out to look behind and... Oh! What is this? Looks like some little kid lost his Hot Wheels car behind the TV. God knows how it got there, but I thought it was funny. Jump mentioned something about the car being the mascot of the trip, and I immediately took to the idea, formulating the idea to take pictures of every person we met with the Red Corvette, starting with Jump and Arti. Running Theme #2 established.
(It's ironic now, I looked at the car when I got home last night and realized it's a Pontiac Firebird. Nonetheless, it shall forever be known as the Red Corvette.)
Unfortunately the TV was guarded against any sort of A/V inputs, basically because the hotel wants their guests to have to pay them for everything. We lamented the fact that we wouldn't be gaming, but as the trip unfolded we noticed how much it didn't really matter, for we always had something to occupy our time.
At this point, we realized we were all hungry so we set out to find someplace to eat. At this time, somewhere during this walk, Running Theme #3 of the trip was established: walking incredibly long distances for absolutely no reason. We didn't know it would be a theme at the time, though. It would solidify itself over the next few days. On the way, we bumped into an interesting advertisement on the side of a phone booth, so Arti and I posed next to it.
We ate a place called the Art Cafe. It was awesome food and a fun time (compounded by the fact that Arti got breakfast), but what was even better was the server. She had a strong accent and was absolutely gorgeous, so Arti struck up a conversation with her about it. Turns out she was Russian and had only just recently come over to NYC. Jump jokingly told me he'd pay me $20 to ask her out, so after we were all done I asked her what she was doing when she got off work. Unfortunately, she didn't get off until 1:30am, and it wasn't even 10pm yet. So I reluctantly said goodbye to my future wife and we headed out.
Around this time, Jump's friend Dre was getting in contact with him about meeting up with her, so she gave us a corner and we started off. On our way back through Times Square, we bumped into this lovely lady who was out there making a buck the best way she knew how. Naturally, Jump seduced her into taking a picture with him.
We finally met up with Dre, an awesome girl. We didn't really have a plan for the evening or anything. I had been in contact with Fish, who was unfortunate enough to be driving into the city, and he was stuck coming out of the Lincoln Tunnel. We figured he'd be in soon and we wanted to be able to meet with him and not leave him waiting, so we headed back to the hotel. Dre immediately fell in love with the blankets on our beds in the room, rolling around in them and rubbing her feet on them.
I talked to Fish again and found out that he hadn't gotten any closer, so we decided to start wandering around the area. But not before I snapped a fantastic Red Corvette shot with Dre.
Okay, it's about time I explain the elevators. They're brand new technology, which is why they're so special. They're set up in a circular fashion, lettered up to P. There are about 6-8 number pads spread out near them, and what you do is punch the floor you want into the pad and it will tell you which letter elevator to go to. This way it can group people by the floors they're going to, supposedly saving 30% on wait time. They're also incredibly fast, and you can see the whole inside of the hotel out of them.
We went back to the check-in desk to take care of the rest of the bill for that day, and Dre decided to put makeup on Jump's face. I, being the paparazzi that I am, didn't let the opportunity for blackmail slip by.
We walked around the lobby floor aimlessly, not really having any direction. I took a great picture looking up the outside of the elevator shaft from the bar area.
Being in the Times Square area, we were surrounded by shops and stores of all type and persuasion. So, the first one we went into was a hugeass porn shop, obviously. We walked around, laughing at all the wonderful gadgets that were displayed, as well as having our eyes fall upon some of the most disturbing and hilarious pornography DVDs ever to grace the earth. Dre, being the cool girl that she is, took it all in stride.
Continuing on our walk, I noticed another phone booth advertisement that I found amusing, so I snapped a picture of Arti next to it. The concept in my mind was that Pokémon battling was his secret, but it ended up just being a humorous picture anyways.
I finally got the call from Fish that he'd be there in a few minutes, so I gave him the address of a 24-hour parking garage we had seen earlier... except I had forgotten the right street number and got him a bit lost. As we walked to the garage, I stayed in touch with him as he dealt with the horrific traffic on Broadway. He finally got out of it and met us the garage. We grabbed his bags out of the trunk and waited for the attendant to take care of his car, plus the two cars ahead of him.
Of course, the lot turned out to be completely full, but that didn't stop the attendant from not telling anyone for about 10 minutes. Finally a big black dude in the car ahead of Fish went over and bitched at him, which was when we found out that Fish wouldn't be parking there. So we put his bags back in his trunk to go looking for another lot. Fish, though, was so fed up with driving (he had been on the road all day) that he gave me the keys. It was no problem... until I saw the stick shift. I hadn't driven stick in about two years, and I was incredibly nervous about doing it in NYC. So, I proceeded to stall it out twice in a row trying to get out of the garage. Fish said if I stalled it one more time he'd drive instead of me... but then I noticed the freaking parking brake was still on, so I snapped it off and we took off into the night.
Well, that sure was fun. I was a little heavy-footed, and I kept minutely squealing the tires, and every time I did, Dre would let out a little shriek from the passenger seat and make me even more nervous. I was getting tailed and honked at by about 10 different taxis, accidentally cutting people off everywhere, and basically just sucking at life... until I randomly noticed a 24-hour lot and pulled it in. We sat in the car about 15 feet away from the attendant, waiting for him to come over, but he never did. So Dre and Fish started calling out to him... and he ignored us. Other people were coming up and getting their cars, but we just sat there. We finally decided to just get out and talk to the guy. Fish gave him the keys and everything was cool. We were about 8-10 blocks from the hotel, so we started hoofing it back. The only thing that stood out from the walk back was some guy across the street from us with his face in a garbage can, not moving. Was he puking? Was he sleeping? Was he eating? We'll never know.
Finally back at the room, Dre went to go play with the blankets more as Fish settled in. I snapped a Red Corvette pic of him, and established Running Theme #4: Fish + camera = comedy.
Fish was, as you might imagine, ravenously hungry, so we headed down the street to a pizza place we had seen and got some slices. See, everyone talks about pizza in NYC, but the one thing they don't tell you is that all the pizza places are run by Italians... and they're all assholes. "Customer Service" to them means not taking a dump on your slice. The pizza wasn't bad; I thought the crust was a bit burnt, and Jump had to take matters into his own hands.
After the food, we went back to our hotel room and hung out for a little bit. Not long after, Jump and Dre said goodbye for the night and Fish hooked up his laptop to the room's internet and we popped in #smogon to say hi. natalie was nice enough to give us a call, and we all chatted with her for a while (I can only imagine how expensive that call will be for her). I also received a brief call from Acura. At some point, I realized that I hadn't even gotten a Red Corvette picture with myself, so we got that out of the way.
At around 4am, we finally decided to sleep. Three guys, two beds, so I volunteered to sleep in the armchair the first night. No real solid sleep, but it got the job done.
CHAPTER TWO: Sunday, August 6th
After a very restless night in the armchair (and the alarm going off a bunch times), we all finally started to wake up a little before noon. While we were all showering and preparing for the day, I got a call from Jump and he said he was on his way over. By the time he got there, we were all basically ready to head out, so we grabbed some breakfast at another diner we randomly found. Jump wore a very special shirt that day, a shirt which many people passing by him would point and smile at. A couple times people even talked to him about it, it was a great icebreaker. Here's him with the shirt taking a picture with his buddy.
The only real plan we had for the day was to stop by Nintendo World, so we started to wander in that general direction when we stumbled upon a street festival. 6th Avenue had been entirely closed down and people and vendors stretched along its sides as far as the eye could see.
We grabbed some ice cold lemonade and started walking, doing our best to avoid the crazy people scattered about. I took a picture of one stand's food that made my mouth water like you wouldn't believe... of course, the picture became a metaphor for the trip in a way.
I saw that we had walked right up to the famous Radio City Music Hall, so I figured for the purposes of tourism I should take a picture of the marquee... until I saw what was on it. This picture now has dual purposes: one for tourism, and the other to show how far down our pathetic culture has fallen.
Speaking of the crazies, there are always people that are trying to hand you garbage every step that you take in the city, whether it be their new "super hot" hip-hop CD, or some nice words about how God is our Lord and you're going to Hell if you don't think so, or even weirder stuff than that. We had been talking before about trolling someone in real life sometime during the trip, and now we would get the chance.
So, as we're walking, this old guy walks up and hands out a bunch of little cards to us, gives some quick spiel and walks away. (I found the card when unpacking, it says: "Thank God that the earth is NOT moving!! www.cabotia.com") So we all look at each other and decide to troll him back. Jump gets elected trollmaster.
My favorite is the response of "I really don't come... I only come on weekends." Well, with that accomplished, Jump starts trying to get in touch with Dre again. After talking to her friend Gretchen, it turns out that Dre struck out on her own to find us... only she doesn't have a cell phone with her. So, basically, if we don't wait for her where we said we would, she won't find us. Plus, she won't be able to get back to her friends. We started walking through the crowd looking for her; luckily, she walked right up to us. (She almost walked right by Arti; he didn't recognize her right away.)
With Dre in tow, we continued on to Nintendo World. I figured that since we were going into the nerdery capital of NYC, I should mark our arrival with a video. Poor Fish thought it was a picture at first.
As you can see, it's bright, fun, and full of nerds. I ended up playing this TetriMario game where I would play Tetris on the bottom screen, and on the top screen was Mario going through levels from SMB and SMB3. I don't even know what system that was, I guess a Game Boy Advance? Anyways, after a few minutes we went upstairs to see everything else. There were a bunch of GameCubes set up with numerous games you could play on them. Only thing is that they reset themselves after about 10 minutes. There were three nice big screens set up with GameCubes that didn't reset, but they were of course monopolized already. We were watching some Mario baseball game when Arti and I saw this kid watching us and sidling over to our area. So he went in for the troll.
Turns out the kid's name is Roberto, and he's a little... odd. I wish I had kept the camera rolling, because when we introduced ourselves to him and I said my name was Adam, he clapped excitedly and hopped up and down and said "Adam! My cousin's name is Adam! He lives in Florida." I said, "Well, he's cooler than me." To which he replied, "Yeah," and stopped paying attention to me. We didn't let him go without a group shot. (In retrospect, I probably should've had him hold the Red Corvette, but... I dunno, he probably would've thought it was a gift and kept it.)
Roberto was a good kid, but very talkative. It wasn't long before we realized that our trolling had gone horribly wrong, as he had reversed it on us. So at that point I went over and started watching some kids playing Super Smash Brothers Melee. When a controller opened up, I hopped in, and immediately self-deathed myself until I lost. The others had come over and Arti and Fish jumped in to play too. I don't quite remember how the conversation started up, but a kid named Devin started talking to Jump about Pokémon and Smogon was inevitably brought up. The kid recognized Jump's handle, said he had visited our website many times but had never registered. I pointed to Arti and said, "You know, this is Articuno64." Well, let me tell you, this kid's eyes just lit up as he slowly extended a hand to shake. (I told Arti he is the true Face of Smogon.)
After we got tired of SSBM, Devin let Jump rate his team. Oh, the poor kid didn't know what he was getting himself into.
We went back downstairs a little later and watched Devin battle some kid in a wheelchair and just really mop the floor with him. Arti and I bought some Mario energy drinks, and we went on our way to find something else to do. On this walk, we noticed a really cool glass building that was reflecting everything on the other side of the street, so we all snapped a picture of it.
While still in Rockefeller Center, I recognized a building as one that we had all been given coupons for earlier in the day. The coupons were for a 10% discount to ride to the observation deck on the building. Of course, I was the only one who didn't throw mine away, but that didn't matter because once we saw the price to go up, we said to hell with it and kept walking.
A little later I saw Madame Tussaud's wax museum and suggested we go in. It was another great idea that was foiled by kinda outrageous NYC prices. But, on the way out, I did get to meet Samuel L. Jackson, and he was nice enough to stop screaming about snakes to let me take a picture with him.
Right next to Madame Tussaud's was an Iron Chaos. If you look closely, you can see that the sign cuts it off, but they have grilled Feebas!
At this point we were just wandering around aimlessly; nobody had any real ideas of what to do. Someone suggested eating, but none of us were hungry enough. Dre suggested we go watch a movie, and then eat afterwards. We went into the theatre we had just walked by and checked the movies. "Talladega Nights" was out since Jump had just seen it the night before, and I said no to "Descent" because I wasn't in the mood for blood splattering. We settled on a new Robin Williams movie called "The Night Listener" and went in.
The AMC theater was huge: there were about 8 floors or so to it. We were in theater 19, so we got to ride tons of escalators to the top. After each escalator there were balconies you could walk out on, so we snapped pictures from each one. The first here is the hand that holds the Madame Tussaud sign. The second is from the highest balcony looking down whatever street we were on. There's a really goofy building on the right.
This isn't the place for a movie review, so I'll just say this: it wasn't bad, but it wasn't great by any means. It was just incredibly BIZARRE.
After the movie let out we went off on another ill-advised search for food. This Dre-led search last for about a half hour, taking us all the way to 5th and 30th before coming back up to 35th and finding a great little oriental place where we were the only diners. Dre chastised me for ordering chicken fried rice with such a huge menu to choose from, but she ended up forgiving me when the two of us went to town on the little bowls of (appetizers?) that they brought out: seaweed, salmon, sprouts, it was all awesome. Arti ended up with 4 chopsticks after he contaminated Jump's with fish (he's allergic to seafood), so he made the best of the situation.
Our stomachs full and our morale high, we stopped on the way back to the hotel to grab some beers. (WOW, expensive.) We got back and started hanging around and somehow we got onto the subject of the photo album, specifically the bathroom party pictures. We showed her ours and explained the concept behind them, and she seemed quite amused, so we asked if she would take one. Naturally, she was down for it. She asked, "Do you have to be topless?" to which we obviously replied, "Yes." I let her use my toothbrush, we helped put the towel and Red Corvette on her head, and then we just started snapping shots like a bunch of cameramen on a red carpet, telling her to do this, do that, look this way, look that way. She picked this picture off mine as the one she liked, so I present it to you now.
Dre offered to give Jump a back rub. I thought that the way she put him right out was pretty funny; he was putty in her hands.
After she was done with Jump, I said I'd give her a back massage. I used some techniques I learned in a massage therapy class in college, and she seemed to enjoy it. Of course, she said she'd give me a back massage in return, but I never took her up on the offer, so she still owes me that.
Jump said he'd have to head back, so we played poker to keep him from leaving. Dre had one Corona before falling asleep on the bed behind us. When Fish, Arti, and I were almost done with our first beers, we went into the bathroom to film a dedication.
Fish went out of the poker game first (a couple hours later), crippling himself when he played a hand entirely without even looking at his cards. He went over and hopped on #smogon, and it wasn't long after that Arti joined him. I was winning at the start of heads-up, but Jump wasn't far behind in chips, and he doubled up early on and really put a hurt on me. I was down to nothing, it was approaching 4:30am or so, and I just wanted to end the game, so when he pushed me all in I called with 5-2 of clubs. He flipped over pocket Aces. I was glad that the game would be over soon... but would it? The flop came out with absolutely nothing, but there was a club. The turn was also a club. I was now looking at a flush draw. I remember saying something along the lines of "there CAN'T be a club on the river," so of course the King of Clubs came out and won me the hand. Jump's disbelief was rivaled only by my own. I was still losing though, and I pushed all in a couple hands after that, and while I don't remember the specifics of the hand, I know it was another bad beat for Jump, I think I had like a 7-9 and picked up a 9-high straight or something. We decided to quit playing after that and called it a draw (it was past 5am), and Jump and Dre left for the night. We once again dicked around on #smogon before hitting the sack ourselves. All the JAA competitors were getting in the next day, and we were pretty excited.
CHAPTER THREE: Monday, August 7th
We woke up and got ready for the day, looking forward to meeting many new Smogoners. Fish was in contact with kongler (referred to hereafter as Judd), so we knew where his room was. The first thing we were going to do was head over to the JAA hotel and see if anyone else had gotten in yet. As we were standing outside the hotel doors, a familiar face came out and greeted us: it was jeps. He said he had recognized Arti from all the Smogon picture ads he had made, so he came out so say hi. (This further solidified the fact that Arti is the true Face of Smogon.) We follow jeps in and take the elevator up and meet Judd and his friend Kevin. The group was starting to mold together. I marked the occasion with some footage and a Red Corvette pic.
jeps had to take off to do some other things, but the rest of us followed Judd to a diner uptown from us that his uncle had helped start and had worked at. It was Greek and our hostess had enormous boobs and was pretty hot and friendly. The sausage I had with my eggs was superb, and Judd had a couple Beck's Darks with his awesome-looking steak sandwich. After the awesome meal, we walked back to the JAA hotel, but Roy still hadn't gotten in (and we knew Justin8649 (referred to hereafter as Justin) hadn't either, because we were talking to the fool in #smogon that morning; he was driving and hadn't even left yet). So the Heroes of Room 3360 returned to their hotel to make their t-shirts for the coming JAA event. We went with the jersey style, which I think everyone agrees turned out awesome. Here's Fish hard at work on his.
No quotes were left unconsidered for immortality on the shirts. We scoured bash.smogon.com for worthy words; we also asked around in #smogon and got some help from YU-RI-OH (Hazerider's "MOD F***" suggestion was absolutely no help at all).
Finally finished, Arti strikes a pose.
We had gotten a call from Jump that he was on his way over, and he arrived at this time. The JAA guys had a big dinner at 7pm before the free showing of the Pokémon movie at 8pm, so we had plenty of time to kill. Well... off to Toys R Us superstore! We went in expecting, I dunno, a bit of nostalgic fun, but mostly I was just depressed at how much Transformers and LEGOS have been ruined and exploited since I was a kid. Although, they did have a freaking ferris wheel INSIDE.
We found some light sabers, so I struck a BLJ-gimmick pose.
As were walking past the Transformers section, all of a sudden this chick who worked there attacked us with this UFO frisbee thing. One of us would throw it back and then try to walk away, but she kept throwing it to us, so it turned into a game of catch. Of course, she knew exactly how to throw it... all of Jump's huge muscles didn't change the fact that he kept throwing it straight into the floor. It was a really cool frisbee-thing though.
About this time we realized we had to head over to the JAA hotel for the start of the movie, so we left the nostalgia behind for a while. Once at the hotel we decided to go over to the JAA sign-in table and talk to the girl there. I swear, all it took was either Jump or Arti to say "we're from a website" and she immediately said "SMOGON". Well, our delight at being known turned into disappointment when she started saying that we were all cheaters. I was pretty upset at that, as I'm sure the other guys were, so Jump and I did our best to dissuade her from her opinion of us. She was a nice girl though, her name was Kelly, and we told her we'd see her the next day at the competition.
We bumped into more Smogon royalty in the lobby, namely Justin and Bertha. I snapped a quick Red Corvette pic before heading up into the hotel's theater.
We all went up to the second balcony, which was completely empty, so we all sat together right up in the front. Judd went downstairs to find some other people, and right after he left we all kind of noticed at the same time that we were being watched: back behind us, on the other side of the balcony, was Black Leather Jacket (referred to hereafter as BLJ) with a friend. We were all pretty surprised, but a couple of us waved to him and he waved back. But instead of coming down where we were, they sat down right there. Justin said he should go say hi, and we all thought it was a good idea, so he got up to go when I realized I wanted to go also, so I did. I looked behind me and saw that everybody was also coming. We got over there and said hi to BLJ, but I think we kind of caught him off guard, because he didn't really seem to want to talk to us. He shook Justin and Arti's hands, but when we realized the conversation wasn't going anywhere, we decided to head downstairs to the other balcony because someone had seen Roy down there.
They had begun to turn down the lights, so it's pretty dark, but here is when we all met Roy.
Please note Arti ruffling his hair.
So then, the Pokémon movie started. I don't remember the title, something about Mew and Lucario. But OH... MY... GOD. I have quite possibly never had such a fun time during a movie. I sat between Arti and Jump, and behind us was a ton of people that I didn't know (and couldn't really see) at the time, but would get to soon. With Roy and jeps was chakka khan and RonnyMcD (referred to hereafter as Ronny), and behind them was Amazing Ampharos (referred to hereafter as AA), his guest for the trip, and I believe IMAWario (referred to hereafter as IMA). Judd was somewhere behind us also, I learned later on.
Quick rundown of the movie: Brock is a retarded pimp, Ash has another mystical power within him, Bonsly cries and our entire section of the theater cracks up. Well, truth be told, we were cracking up from start to end, mostly because we were all ripping on it so badly. One high point of the movie was when Regirock showed up and Arti hopped up and hi-fived Jump. AA and his buddy were throwing out Starfox64 quotes (due to Lucario's strangely familiar appearance), and the one that had me dying was when Ronny mentioned "something was wrong with the G-diffuser." I almost responded with a "Thanks, Fox! I thought they had me," but I didn't want us all to get kicked out of the movie, we were already being shushed by someone every ten seconds... and I'm not exaggerating.
Once the movie ended, we all headed back down to the lobby where the JAA participants were all given more free junk, including PokéBall cookies. Someone was nice enough to give me one, so I showed my Pokémon prowess (inside that PokéBall is an Oddish named Carl).
Here's jeps posing with the uber-sweet backpack thingy they got in the little prize-pack.
At this point I tried to get Roy to take a Red Corvette picture, but he was really resisting it, even after I told him everyone else had and they told him the same. I'm sure he thought it was just another Roy on Wheels joke, which of course it wasn't. It's not the best picture; you can thank my camera for that. It flashes so many damn times that people stop their poses before it actually takes the picture.
We went out at this point to get some food, seeing another kickass NYC sight: Spiderman was taking a break from his web-slinging duties to, uh, beg for money in Times Square.
We headed back to the JAA hotel with all our electronic nerdery to drop it off in Judd's room. We had to check out the next day at noon, so we'd be sleeping on his floor for the 4th night. We were supposed to call Justin that night and hang out and eat some PokéBall cake, but once we hooked up the Nintendo64 and Gamecube, we got kinda... uh... distracted. We started with Goldeneye, and after telling them that I probably played it too much when I was younger, I proceeded to mop the floor with everyone in a License to Kill/Pistols scenario. Then we tried it again with the three of them on a team against me, and the outcome wasn't much different. (Hey, you guys have your Pokémon, I have my Goldeneye.) We then played some Super Smash Brothers Melee, which was much better for the other guys than it was for me.
Next thing we knew it was 1:30am and we had to head back to our own hotel. We felt incredibly shitty once we remembered we had left Justin hanging, but it turns out they went to bed pretty early anyways since they had an early morning.
We had been saying for the past two days that we needed a picture of the five of us, but we kept forgetting to take it. Finally, someone remembered, so Fish and I set the timers on our cameras and snapped a shot of the five of us in front of the elevators. I love this picture, from Dre's little leg-cross thing to Arti's pose.
We headed back to our room, and once we got there Jump said he had to leave because he had an early morning ahead of him. We grudgingly said our goodbyes and Dre walked him downstairs. She came back up with the intent to give me the back rub she owed me, but I acted like an asshole and had already gotten into bed. She had said she would come back upstairs if someone would walk her home, but I guess we were all feeling lazy and no one wanted to anymore. So she was going to walk herself when Fish said he would go with her (there's the chivalry I mentioned). Arti also jumped on board, and as they were putting their shoes on I pulled my head out of my ass and got out of bed and threw my shoes on as well. We set out towards the apartment she was staying in.
I realized then why she didn't want to walk alone. Even with two other able-bodied men in the group, I couldn't help but feel a bit nervous walking around at that time of night. We got to the apartment and she went in and started to grab her stuff. Being curious, I poked my head in to see the place... it was a room. That's it. The kitchen is the living room is the bedroom. I asked her later how much it cost the two girls who shared it: $1600 a month. Monstrous cost of living.
Well, then her roommate noticed me when she woke up and started freaking out. I guess she thought I was Jump or something and demanded that I come in and introduce myself, so I did. She didn't look to be in the best of states, so I didn't hold it against her.
Once Dre was ready, we continued on to the Port Authority. Once there, we said more sad goodbyes, except individually (and Arti coined the term PM goodbyes, which had us laughing for a while.)
So we went back to our hotel and then to bed. The Heroes of Room 3360 went to bed that night with visions of Vileplumes dancing in their heads. (Well, I don't know what one looks like, but you get the joke.) (And if you don't, you're stupid.) (Not really, probably just European.) (Which in the end is the same thing.)
CHAPTER FOUR: Tuesday, August 8th
We had set the alarm for 10am, knowing that the event started at 10am and went until 5pm. All the regional stops had started with the 12-and-under group and then gone on to 13-and-up, so we figured we had until about noon to get over to Bryant Park. At about 11am I got a text message from Roy asking where we were, and I told him we'd be there shortly. A half hour later and Arti is still in the shower and Roy asks me again, I respond the same way (but with something added about Arti being a girl). I can't blame Arti, obviously; we just didn't know any better. Once ready, we throw on our Smogon shirts and head out.
We still have some bags to drop off in Judd's room before going to the park, and he gave us a room key so we head to our elevator when Justin calls me. I start to apologize for not calling him the night before when he tells me that he's already out of the competition. Well, I'm completely perplexed, and he tells me that he lost to Roy in the first round, and that Judd is also out already! I lost the call service once I got in the elevator, but Fish had talked to Judd as well and it turns out he's already back in his room. So we head over there and meet up with him and drop our bags off. He tells us that he lost in the first round to IMA. Roy, jeps, chakka khan, Kikered, and others are still in it, so Judd said he'll come back to Bryant Park soon and meet us there.
Well, what an awesome sight that place was. You walk in to the relatively small park, and it is just jammed full of people. They claimed 25,000, and I think that might be a bit high, but probably not by much. There was a fountain with a bunch of Pokémon bathing and frolicking in it, as well as a Pikachu that had learned fly! I, of course, captured them both.
After wandering around for a bit we finally found the battlers' area. As we walk up we see Justin and Bertha so we go say our condolences to him. It is then that Arti points out EeveeTrainer (referred to hereafter as ET) to me. I did my best to avoid talking to him, but Fish walked right up to him and surprised him with a giant hug. He didn't seem to like it too much. Once we all started talking, ET took off and made a phone call, I assumed to avoid me. We weren't allowed in to the competitors' area, but they could come talk to us. I wanted to attempt another Red Corvette shot with Roy and jeps jumped in for good measure.
After talking to them for a brief time, Fish introduced me to SDShamshel (referred to hereafter as Nobie), who he had been in contact with to meet up that day. I got a great Red Corvette picture with him.
We stood in a group talking for a bit, mostly about ET. I realized that meeting someone up close and being angry at them is much different than just flinging hate at them online in relative anonymity. I realized that it was stupid to hold a vendetta against him for something he did that he wouldn't even remember doing even if I told him, so when he came back to the group I made my amends with him and got a Red Corvette picture.
The competitor area looked pretty cool, it was still full of competitors and workers and battle screens, so I took a shot of the action under the tent.
At that point they grabbed just about everyone and had them start their round two battles. I got some videos of battles; this first one is when jeps battled Colin Woods. I loved the way he was jamming to his music.
This next one is me scanning all the battles in front of us, there's jeps vs. Colin Woods, Ryah Rosenburg vs. Demont Kennedy, and Roy vs. Calvin Chan, with chakka khan looking on.
This one is after Roy had been defeated by Calvin Chan. Also, Kelly recognizes us and makes an appearance. I would've liked to talk to her more.
Round 3 begins. jeps and Ryah both won, and they now begin their battle.
As I'm watching them, Fish or Arti tell me that the battles can be viewed on large TV screens outside the battle area, so I walk back and watch jeps vs. Ryah begin. Someone next to me asks if Smogon is still in it, and I say yes. Turns out it's AA, so we introduce ourselves to him. I nail him with a Red Corvette shot.
jeps vs. Ryah is a long and hard-fought battle with jeps coming out on top. Ryah's strategy was interesting, using follow me on this Togepi-looking thing that was taking hits like a champ. jeps won handily though, using the time limit to his advantage. Here's the end of the battle.
jeps is in the elite 8 at this point. I can't quite remember who he played in this round, but he won it, so they took the last 4 competitors in each age group to the opposite side of the park to battle on the huge screen. I follow them all over with AA and Roy, but lost the other guys in the process. So as AA and I wait for the battles to start, Fish calls me and the other guys find us and meet up. Right then, some hot cosplayers came by and started posing for pictures, so I got one with Arti, Judd, and Nobie with them. (Once three people pose for a picture, I know I have to be indie and NOT do it.)
After some silly fanfare with a May cosplayer completely hamming it up, some guy named Professor John comes out to commentate on the battles. One thing I loved about watching battles: every time certain Pokémon were played, all the little kids in the crowd went absolutely crazy. It was like, out comes a Mewtwo..."YAYYYYYYYYY!!!" (huge applause)
I didn't pay attention to the first 12-and-under match because I didn't care, or Minh Ba Le vs. nerdy kid with hat match, it was really pretty actionless, but the 12-and-under battle after that was awesome. It was back and forth, one kid Exploded and took out one of the other kid's two Pokémon, but then that kid Exploded BACK on the other kid, completely turning the tide of the battle. Second kid won. It was pretty fun though mostly I just listened to AA, Arti and Fish critique, commentate and joke about the matches.
Then jeps got on stage with Calvin Chan (who, to be honest, was my pick to win the whole thing once Judd and Justin were out).
It was a tough battle; Calvin got a CH Ice Beam on jeps's Sword Danced Groudon on the second turn which supremely hurt him. When he brought a Shedinja out, there was still a flicker of hope, but it finally went down to a Shadow Ball from Mewtwo. I believe the final score was 2-0 Calvin. Here were our thoughts on the ending of the match.
We grouped up then and left the park, since there was no reason to watch the rest of the battles. Congratulations to Minh Ba Le for winning it all.
We were headed back to the JAA hotel when we saw BLJ and his buddy walking on the other side of the street from us. I thought it was only fitting to get a Red Corvette pic with him, so I did my best to get them both in it.
I had been trying to get in touch with Carl all morning because we still didn't know for sure if he was going to make it to the event, or maybe even come out later on to hang out. About now was when called me and let me know that he couldn't make it, which saddened the group.
We thought about getting some food, and there was a place called Viva Pancho right across the street from it, and Judd was in the mood for Mexican, so we went in 7 strong.
The food here was AWESOME. I had a huge burrito that I ended up saving part of because it was so much food. Still, it ended up being the cheapest meal I ate in NYC aside from the pizza slices. For dessert, Arti was daring enough to try the deep-fried ice cream, which he said was pretty good.
After the meal, we talked about getting some alcohol. Judd was going back to the hotel to get a little rest, so Nobie, Fish, and I (the 21+ crowd) went in search of booze and Arti, Justin, and Bertha went back to Justin's room. Well, let me tell you how fun of a trip that was. You would think booze would be easy to find in NYC, but hell no. We would go into some place and find only beer, then ask the guy at the counter where we could get liquor. He'd tell us, then we'd go and find NOTHING. We just kept getting farther and farther away from the hotel. We ended up close enough to Fish's car lot that he stopped in to check on it and tell the attendant to keep it an extra day. Finally, we got a good location for a liquor store and picked up a bottle of Jaegermeister and a bottle of Bacardi. (Yum.) On our way back, we stopped at Junior's so Nobie could get some of their famous cheesecake.
We finally got back to the hotel and dropped the booze off in Judd's room. He was still hoping to get more rest and told us to give him an hour and a half, so we went down to Justin's room to meet up with the other guys. When we got there, Justin, Bertha, and Arti were playing Skip-Bo, some silly card game which is very reminiscent of Uno. Justin pointed out the PokéBall cake, so I documented it for all to see.
I watched the game in progress as Justin mopped the floor with the other two.
It was then that I realized that I didn't have a Red Corvette shot with Jamie, so I got one, much to her amusement.
Fish suggested we go out and get soda to mix with the booze, so the six of us headed out in search of a convenient store. The problem was, every store we found only had 20oz bottles, nothing more. About a half hour later, we finally found an Asian corner market and got three 2-liter bottles. We were upset that we couldn't find any Red Bull to make Jaegerbombs, but Nobie told me later it was hidden behind the counter on a shelf. Damn. During this walk, we discovered that, much to our chagrin, we were all saying soda because we thought that's what everyone else said... even though we really all called it pop.
By the time we got back Judd was up and about and ready to rock and was already battling ET. We got into it right away, starting off with some SSBM. Nobie was quite good, showing us what a good Bowser can be. But, like he pointed out in his warstory, a good Bowser still doesn't win too often. I started out pretty well, and was second in smashes for a while, but as time went on either everyone else got better or I got worse. Kevin also joined in on the gaming, since there was no way he was going to get anymore sleep. Once I got tired of getting my ass kicked, I taped all the nerdery.
Justin reminded everyone that we still hadn't eaten Bertha's PokéBall cake, so he cut it up and dished it out, descending by age. (Yay, I got mine third.)
I opened up the Jaegermeister and convinced Fish to do a shot with me. I took another video, and this one was pretty important, as you will see by watching.
Arti had taken out the pieces of the Beetlefruit Cup and had begun to assemble it with help from Judd and I. I took a picture of it in its near-completed state.
Since we had a considerable gathering of Smogoners, I started to call some others so that they could share in our enjoyment. Calls were made to kholdstaire, Acura, cloud, chaos, and Dweedle. Every time they answered I'd pass the phone around the room so that everyone could get a chance to talk to them. I'm not worried about the huge phone bill; I'm just glad that they got a chance to talk to everyone.
After talking a bit, ET suggested we all take the subway to the Greenwich village area. Anxious to get out and see more of the city, everyone agreed, and we set out into the unknown. ET helped us at the subway station with the card machines, bastardly things wouldn't take anyone's money. The subway was fun, much faster than I had expected. Those of us who didn't get a seat had to really hang on for fear of falling over every time the train would stop or start moving.
So we got off and started to walk around, and this is when ET began to wow us with his tour guide-like skills. The kid knows a ton about that area of NYC due to living there for a good part of his life, and he even showed us the building he used to live in. When we passed by all the hippies in Union Square, I took a photo.
On our way, we passed by a shop window that was all lit up and contained a bunch of... well, look for yourself. We really enjoyed this, Judd especially.
We were hungry, and Judd wanted to eat at some kind of bar/grill combination, so we found one called the Red Lion. At first, they wouldn't let us in because only four of us were 21 or older, but after we convinced him we just wanted to eat, he gave us a table. The place was great, albeit the live band was a bit loud which made any conversation nearly impossible.
Naturally, Judd and I started doing shots of whatever we fancied. This was some sort of Sweet Tart shot I think, with ET watching very evilly in the background with his Pokémon champion 2000 shirt.
I tried to tell Justin this while we were sitting there but it was too loud and he couldn't understand me, but the drummer, in my opinion, looked the way I imagine Justin will in 25 years or so.
Out of nowhere, I have Judd and ET telling me to turn around, and there out on the dance floor is Nobie, rocking out with some chick and getting down and funky.
He wasn't the only one though; across the table from me, Arti and Judd were all about the music, dancing around in their chairs and singing along.
The only empty seat was next to me, so I decided to take a picture of it. It represents all the Smogoners who couldn't make the trip, first and foremost Dweedle because we were right down the road from NYU where I met him last July.
Um... more shots. Rumpleminze this time.
The food then began to show up. The highlight was when ET was given Jamie's salad and, thinking it was his side, began eating it. I had a tuna melt, and it was absolutely GORGEOUS. After dinner, ET led us back to the subway differently so that we could go through Washington Square. I took a picture of the arch there, because I thought it looked pretty cool.
It was then that someone suggested we take a group picture, so we did underneath the arch. Fish and I put our cameras on a plant pot with the timers on, and got something that looked like this.
When we got back to the subway entrance, the sumbitch was closed because they were cleaning the subways. So we followed ET to another subway entrance that appeared to be open, so we all went down the stairs... only to find it was closed as well. Fish, in all his glorious wit, chose the absolute perfect time to exclaim, "Oh, my God, Ian Garvey, what the f***?!" As you might imagine, we all found that quite priceless, even ET.
Eventually, we find an open subway entrance a couple blocks over, and I turn back to see Nobie has magically disappeared into the subway entrance on the other side of the street. It's too bad he didn't come back for the gaming, but we had a good time nonetheless.
On the platform while we were waiting for our train, some random guy noticed the Pokémon shirt Judd was wearing and struck up a conversation. Turns out he was a big fan of RBY back in the day but lost interest around the GSC era. He rides the subway back with us, talking Pokémon with Judd and ET the whole way.
When we get back to Times Square, he gets off with us. They're power-washing the floors here, so now we know why we couldn't get into the other subway entrances.
And now, after watching that video, you understand the story behind the pin. Nicolas Gazin for life.
When we got back to the JAA hotel we bumped into Roy, jeps, chakka khan, Ronny, and IMA in the lobby. We told them all we were heading up to Judd's room and that they should come hang out. Then we headed on up ourselves.
This, my friends, is where the Downfall of DoomMullet begins. Judd, being an experienced bartender, starts making him and me some rum and cokes... only there's probably more rum than coke in them. So, pretty soon I'm well on my way to DrunkMullet, as you can see here.
Not long after, Roy, jeps, chakka khan, and Ronny show up and join in the gaming and whatnot. Arti, meanwhile, is hard to work finishing up the Beetlefruit Cup.
Once finished, it truly is a spectacle to behold. Silly Roy thought he could just jump up and claim it, but that's not quite how it works. I kept saying I wanted to bathe my children in it.
Well, we were almost out of rum, so Arti decided that the only proper way to break in the Beetlefruit Cup was to drink some booze out of it. So we did.
The Jaegermeister shot-for-shot between Judd and I continued. I could swear they kept getting deeper with each passing shot.
chakka khan said his goodbyes and was about to leave when I snagged him for a Red Corvette pic. No one gets away that easily!
After a long, furious Mario Party battle (where in my drunkenness I kinda gave the win to Fish), Arti awarded the victor with a drink from the Cup. Fish almost spilled it all over himself.
I continued my spiral down into the depths of drunkenness. Here, you will see Judd, Kevin, jeps, and I finishing off the last of the Jaegermeister. jeps said he had never really drunk, so I found it fitting that he took a shot. Roy turned his down, so it went to Kevin.
Um... as if you needed more proof that I'm a drunken waste of life, there's this.
Highlights: Judd mentioning Ryah's "grill" to chaos. Roy's haiku. jeps loves Pokémon. Misty is a bitch.
Anyways, things get foggy for me starting from that point. I took a top view picture of the gaming. As you can see, Bertha wasn't exactly too interested in what was happening.
Roy and Ronny announced that they were taking off for the night. Just like chakka khan, I didn't let Ronny get away without a Red Corvette picture.
They were about to leave when someone said we needed a group picture in the hallway. Ironically, we took this in the exact same spot that we did with Jump and Dre the night before. This is one of my favorite pictures from the trip, owing to the fact that it's chock full of awesome Smogoners. From left to right, it's ET, jeps, Ronny Judd, Roy, Arti, Bertha, Justin, Kevin, and myself, with Fish in front (goofy as usual).
It was great to meet DrunkJudd, DrunkFish, and DrunkArti. This is basically the end of the night, since it's where my memory of it ends. I know I played more video games, I vaguely remember being Boo in Mario Tennis, but I'm sure some of the other guys can fill it in a bit better.
CHAPTER FIVE: Wednesday, August 9th
I am woken up to this insane rattling noise by the window. I hop up (I realize later that I had slept sitting in a chair with my head on the bed next to me) and go over to make it stop, only I can't. It sounds like some asshole is working with a jackhammer on the floor below us. (Judd was on floor 34. In our hotel, we were on floor 33. The first time we went to the JAA hotel, Fish punched in 33, and when the doors opened up it was an absolute mess, rugs torn up, construction crap everywhere. Explains the noise, plus is a cool little piece of trivia.)
Well, I can't speak for the other guys, but I was feeling a bit rough. We sat around lamenting the banging noise that just wouldn't stop and let us go back to sleep. We began talking about breakfast, and Judd and I said we'd go get some street meat and bring it back for everyone to eat for breakfast. We found a halal cart that was just opening up for the day, so we hung around while they cooked up the meat.
We got 5 chicken pitas, and, MAN, were they awesome. The two guys working the stand were awesome, too; we talked with them a bit and they were talking to Judd about his Texan accent. We brought the food back to everyone and started in on the messiest breakfast ever; each pita was overflowing with delicious meat, dripping in sauces. I ruined my shorts, Fish ruined his shirt, and Arti ruined the sheets on the bed he was sitting on. They told Judd and I that Justin and Bertha had stopped by to say goodbye, but we unfortunately missed them. After the meal, I took a Red Corvette picture with Kevin. He'd been hanging out with us for three days and was way overdue for one.
Roy stopped back down and grabbed some gaming stuff that he and jeps had left the night before, and we bid him farewell. ET had come back to hang out briefly before everyone left for good, so we got to say adieu to him as well. Then Fish, Arti, and I grabbed our things, said our final farewells to Judd and Kevin, and headed back to our hotel to get airport shuttles.
Arti was carrying the Beetlefruit Cup on the way back, but he quickly realized that its purpose had been served. He really couldn't fly home with it, and even if he did, its meaning would be lost on anyone else. So, we said goodbye to the Beetlefruit Cup.
We had arrived at our hotel, but Fish's car was about 6 blocks away, so we grudgingly said goodbye to him and he started walking towards his lot. Arti and I went up into the hotel lobby and reserved our shuttles, but they weren't coming for another 2 hours, so we had some time to kill. We went and sat down in front of the hotel lobby bar. From here, I got a nice video of the elevators from the outside, plus a shot of the gorgeous bar.
We busted out a deck of cards and played a game of War. I suggested War because it usually takes a very long amount of time for a game to end. Arti haxed my ass and won in about 10 minutes. So, then I taught him how to play Gin Rummy. We only played one round, and even though he went out first, I had about 100 points down. We still had TONS of time left, so we did another game of War. I swear, I've never seen one person be so good at War, considering it's all luck anyways. Between the two games, I'd say 8 or 9 times I laid down an Ace and only got a 2 in return. Of course, he ended up winning, but thank god by that time it was time for my shuttle.
We went downstairs to the valet area to wait for it at 3pm. It was supposed to show at 3:15, but it didn't. 3:35 rolls around and finally there's the shuttle. I meet the driver halfway and he says he's taking me. I go back and say my goodbyes to Arti, grab my bags, and am on my way... when he says JFK. I'm going to La Guardia. Arti's going to JFK, but his shuttle shouldn't be there until 4pm. So the guy calls his company, turns out someone made a mistake and he isn't my driver, but he takes Arti along since he's headed to JFK anyways. And thus, the hero of the story is once again alone in NYC, all other Smogoners and friends gone. It was a sad feeling, knowing that that might be the only time in my life I'd ever get to see many of these people face to face. If Nintendo never holds an event like this where so many Smogoners get flown in for free, where else will we get the opportunity to gather in such numbers? All in all, it was an incredible experience, but it had to come to an end. And in instances like those, the end always comes too soon.
My shuttle finally came at 4:05, and I was on my way to La Guardia. This driver was crazier than my last one; there were a couple times he seriously almost decapitated pedestrians with his driver-side mirror. The people in this shuttle were actually social, and we talked about our NYC experiences. The conversation basically centered around food and what everyone had eaten.
The only thing noteworthy about my flight home is that is that it was on Wednesday, and not Thursday. If I had, for some reason, flown out one day later, I probably would've missed my flight due to security clampdowns. All of us narrowly missed insane delays, and I'm very thankful for that.
My dad was waiting for me in the Buffalo airport. Of course, he asked me how my trip was, but obviously no words that I know could really be put together to describe what had happened for the last 5 days and what I had felt. Well, like Dad used to say when I was a little kid: "Home again, home again, jiggity jig".
It was weird to get on #smogon the next day and talk to all those guys who, the day before, had been walking around NYC with me. There was just something missing, some sense of realism. It's a difficult thing to face, change. I didn't pick the title of this story loosely; I draw many similarities to the story of Frodo Baggins. I've talked to multiple Smogoners I met in NYC since we returned, and it's a consensus that we've all changed. Talking to each other in #smogon will always be enjoyable, but once you meet someone face to face and spend time with them, being limited to only electronic means of socializing is, I might say, a bit depressing.
One thing I can say with ease is that I have never loved Smogon more than I do right now. Other people can say what they want about online communities, but until you become a dedicated member of one, you just will really never understand what it truly means. The fact that someone can change their trip to drive into NYC for 5 days, or that a 19 year old will fly by himself to NYC from Vancouver, or that people have no problem coming up to you at an event and introducing themselves solely because of the website address written on your shirt... is heartwarming, to say the very least. None of us Smogoners who spent such good times together in NYC had ever met in real life before (save jeps and chakka khan), but we were close and intimate from the second we met, like we hadn't only known each other through the internet. It's like we were old brothers, seeing each other again for the first time in years. That's not an exact description, and there never will be one, but that's as close as I can get.
I have enjoyed writing this story immensely, for I feel that I owe it to those who couldn't go to do my trip justice with these words and make them feel as close to the events of August 5-9 as possible. I know it's a bit long, but I wanted to make sure I didn't miss anything. I understand that much of what I have written will only matter to a select few individuals who were involved, and I know also that some of it will really only mean something to me; but that's also who I'm writing this for. These experiences will be with me for the rest of my life, and writing this out has allowed me to relive those 5 days in my mind.
Well, I suppose it's time to end this sentimental rant. I dedicate this to the three JAA stop winners who were unable to participate in the finals (skarm, Obi, BLJ) and to those who had attempted to make the trip and spectate, but for whatever individual reason could not (skarm again, Aeolus, chaos, Acura, cloud, natalie, Carl, Dweedle). I can only hope that Nintendo has more events like this that will give us more possibilities for Smogon gatherings in the near future.