Monday, July 22, 2013

Ray Reports: Post-AX 2013

So with AX 2013 out of the way, it was time for my roommates and I to leave SoCal, right?


We still had plenty more to do, starting with immediately after the convention ended.

Extra Stage: Hollywood

So after we said farewell to Hilly and Alex, our next mission was to head over to Hollywood.
I switched out of my Reimu cosplay and got into more normal clothes, then we got on the Metro and exited at the Hollywood/Vine station.


We walked down the Walk of Fame for a little bit, and diverged off of Hollywood Blvd. for our dinner spot: Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles.

There was some time before we would be seated, so we left to get Starbucks for a little bit. Ryan, who is from Oregon, pointed out that Oregon has, for some reason, next to no Starbucks locations.
So we got seated and ordered our items. (In the meantime, my phone died.) Several of us got the famous chicken-and-waffles combo. It seems like two odd things to put together at first, but taking a bite of the gravy-covered chicken and then following it up with some syrup-and-butter-covered waffles made for an immensely delicious experience.


Matt paid for all of us, which was very generous of him considering my con budget was next to nothing at this point.

Afterwards we made back for Hollywood for touristy shenanigans. As we went up the Walk of Fame we noticed that the stars were in chronological order--the more "classical" stars were at the outset of the walk, with the bigger-name and more modern ones closer to the center. We also stopped by a few "tourist trap" stores for the heck of it, poking at things like star maps for a bit.

We got to the heart of Hollywood Blvd, including the Chinese Theater and the Dolby Theater. The area was effectively a huge shopping mall, partly outdoors, though unfortunately as it was around 10 or 11 PM on a Sunday by the time we arrived, most stores were closed, including a row of candy shops I wanted to check out.




Oh, and these steps. You step through them, an organ plays.


We climbed up these stairs and rested on the patio upstairs, taking the time to just wind down and pass the time talking about our experience so far.

Following this we wandered around the mostly-closed shopping center some more until we were told to leave since the shopping center was closing, then made for the conveniently-close-by Hollywood/Highland station and went back to the room to get some sleep.

Encore Extra Stage: Little Tokyo, Round 1, and One Final Dinner

So since we didn't have a con to deal with, we just woke up at 10 AM or so. To wrap up our AX video coverage, we went to the LACC one last time to do a wrap-up video, going over the main points of our AX experience, etc.

Soon after, we made a little detour to a GameStop near another one of the stations. Ryan wanted to pick up Namco Shooting Collection, a compilation of Namco arcade gun games including Time Crisis 4, Razing Storm, and Deadstorm Pirates. While we were waiting in line we looked at the screens and noticed the E3 covering. Those who follow E3 know it was at the LACC, the exact same facilities that AX would use a few weeks later. We tried to make sense of which hall the coverage was in; all we could make out were the many gaming booths.

With that little sidequest done, we made back to the hotel, and Matt fetched his car out, for our next stop: Little Tokyo.

Shizuka was still in the area, making a trip to Little Tokyo too, so we met up with her and we all went to Orochon Ramen. While everyone else got ramen bowls of varying spiciness, I decided on cold noodles instead, taking advantage of the opportunity to enjoy a nice plate of them while it was still summer.


Following this adventure, we made for the local Kinokinuya, which was selling a variety of "enthusiast" goods: Nendoroids of various series, Touhou games official and unofficial, and various other collectible figures. I'm led to believe this is the same Kinokuniya that was promoting its goods at AX. Then we moved onwards to the local supermarket to get a few food items, and then off to Anime Jungle for more collectibles to browse.

Shizuka and I parted ways at this point, and my other friends and I went off next to Round 1 in Puente Hills.

Once at Round 1, I wasted little time in getting a card, and one of my first courses of action was to play some beatmania IIDX 20 tricoro, which was connected to the official e-Amusement network rather than a reverse-engineered clone of it. Of course the first things I noticed were having to start all over again--none of my song unlocks or Q-Pro parts were available, and I actually had to play through the Cafe de Tran and Private BEMANI Academy events for their respective unlocks, which is impossible for the former as we have no connected jubeat saucer machines here, and that game is required to unlock event songs on tricoro. Still, being able to play on the same network as some of my friends in Japan was kinda nice.

Other games I played included OutRun 2 SP, Raiden IV, and a version of Mario Kart Arcade GP 2 that had card slots...but unfortunately no cards, and I had lost my MKAGP2 card some years ago.
I was getting ready to leave, but I only just now noticed the Darius Burst Another Chronicle cabinet, which I had completely forogtten about! I decided to take a turn on it because this was my first time seeing the cab for myself, but unfortunately Matt informed me that we needed to leave, so I had to abandon my round in mid-session.


Our business done here, Matt drove us to our next stop: Manila Bay Seafood Boiler in Chino Hills. His uncle and some of his extended family visited us too, to help pay for us. We had a number of Filipino dishes--dishes that up until now I've only eaten with family. After all, most of our group was Filipino, so it only made sense to make such a stop.

We were then gonna visit another one of Matt's relatives--apparently he has a lot of family around this area--but they were asleep, so we just went back to the hotel instead, for one last time.


We got up around 8 or 9 AM, and packed our belongings, as today was our check-out day. We finished packing early, so we plated a bit of Donkey Kong Jenga to pass the time.

I was worried that since my large Touhou tote bag from earlier wouldn't be able to fit in my luggage, I would have to potentially leave it behind, but Nate was nice enough to stuff it into his bag.


As we neared check-out time, we finally went down to the lobby. Matt got his car out and packed his, Ryan's, and Amanda's stuff, and we all had one final round of goodbyes before parting ways.

Nate and I then made for the Metro and took the train to Union Station. Since we hadn't eaten yet, we walks down to a Subway on the other end of the station for breakfast/lunch. (Yes, a Subway at a subway station. Go figure.)

At 12:30 PM or so, our bus showed up and we hopped on, getting a seat with a table.

We made a stop around 3:30 PM or so in Kettleman City, a in-the-middle-of-nowhere city along Interstate 5. We went inside McDonald's for what we thought was going to be a typical food stop, but Nate got a call from Matt, who had sighted a Megabus as he pulled into some sort of gas stop. Turns out, they had made the same stop as us, at the same time. We took the opportunity to have one last conversation together as we ate lunch, and then split for good this time as our break ended.

Nate and I got back on the bus. I spent most of my time on Twitter or looking out the window, wishing to be back in NorCal soon. (The price of cheap transportation, I suppose.)

We arrived back in the land of hella the city of cloud computing San Jose around 6:45 PM, 30 minutes ahead of time. Nate got my bag out of his luggage and we parted ways. Shortly thereafter my uncle picked me up and I came home, back in a building where I sleep by myself on a bed.


Well, it was quite a week in Southern California. From experiencing a different public transit system, to exposing myself to the SoCal con and cosplay scene, to visiting the mecca of arcade games, so many things happened and this was an experience like no other. I look forward to the next time I come to SoCal for cosplay events, as I hope to expand my social horizons.

See you all next year!

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