The Domain of Steven Pinnacle of Paperless Perfection

11Jun/083

My name is Steven, and I provide services selectively.

Yesterday was my second annual visit to the Licensing International Expo. Held at the Jacob Javits Center, it's a convention that brings together brand owners and investors interested in licensing them. It gathers businesspeople of all stature, from independent artists in a one-man booth to industry giants in expansive and elaborate showcases. The expo is brimming with money, with deals being made around every corner and exhibitors trying to catch your attention, hoping that you are their next big client.

But as a lowly college student, what am I doing at the expo? What people usually do when in New York City: see the sights.

Over 400 companies set up lavish displays in the interest of ensnaring visitors, and as such the expo is full of eye candy and free candy. Indeed, part of the reason I attend is the promise of souvenirs. But strangely, I mostly attend to soak in the atmosphere. It is a world that I would otherwise not have known existed. It's exciting being around so many different companies, so many inviting exhibits and product presentations that make you wish you had a legitimate company so that you could chat them up and give them support.

As one without such financial backing, I choose not to waste their time and not to push my luck. This year I floated around with Sally, Mike, Simon, Kenny and Brian. The expo was a bit darker than I remembered, just as pretty, but not nearly as bountiful. Last year's convention was marked by Viz's anime-themed photo booth, free blueberry muffin bites, stuffed animal prizes by Neopets, and Jim Benton signing postcard books. While Jim Benton was diligently still there, none of the others were. Viz instead had an intimidating monolith of a booth, and I can only speculate as to the dealings that happened inside. Neopets was cast down from the pedestal it held last year, going from a large open space to a mere hallway, a couple computer stations sandwiched between two very close partitions. It was a very different experience for me, Sally and Kenny, who were the only repeat attendees.

Different was still good, though. Brian and I diverged from the group in order to check out a piece of music-mapping software that produced visual representations of music as it was being played. It was to usher in a new method of learning music, where you didn't just memorize finger positionings for guitar chords, you saw a 2d map of the strings you were strumming and which frets you held down, or the same information projected onto a 3d spiral. It would even show you the corresponding keys on a keyboard were you to play them. It was colorful and impressive, and I got to hear Brian play a bit on the acoustic guitar they linked up. I wanted to play on their drum set but it was being hogged. It was a well-made and most likely expensive booth, considering all the monitors and equipment, but not very popular.

We then found our way to the Neopets booth, if you could call the small firing lane a booth. I saw computers and bins with goods in them and was looking forward to winning whatever prizes they had. I was immediately thrown off guard when the exhibitor smiled at me and said "Oh it's you! Back again?"

I was immediately puzzled. This was my first time stopping by, perhaps he confused me with another Asian? I started to correct him, because damnit I wanted my prize and I wasn't going to let accusations of double dipping stop me.

No, he clarified, he didn't mean I was back again this day. He meant back again at the expo this year. The exhibitor remembered my escapade last year at his booth, and I suppose I made quite the indelible mark. Their former setup included stations lined up with Neopets games running on them, inviting people to play them, and they would reward high scores with scaling prizes: bins full of different Neopet plushies of different sizes, a very high score netting you a bigger plushie.

I immediately went to work and farmed the shit out of that game.

"It's no fun staying in the back and dodging the ice creams. Why don't you move around?"
Because staying in the back gives you the most time to react and plan ahead. "Nah, it's okay."
*several games and one of each plushie later*
"You're a gamer, aren't you."
...*smile*

This year, skill was not a factor: you clicked a button that spun a wheel of prizes. The bins were full of crossword puzzles and coloring books. I prefer to think of them as red herrings, though. The real prizes were tucked away in his belt pouch pocket: codes to redeem for in-game items, and Neocash cards. The nice exhibitor gave me a code, Brian $10 in Neocash, and we appreciatively scrammed. I figured my brother Mikey would know someone who played Neopets and would love the gifts, but he denies knowing or being associated with those who know about Neopets.

Another online game we stumbled upon was called Cookie Town, which was geared towards young kids. I admittedly chatted them up a bit because I wanted one of their cool cowboy hats, which they did indeed give me. Apparently Cookie Town was the brainchild of one of the brothers at the booth, who dreamed of a cookie town while stoned. FYI, do not tell people this. I do not feel comfortable introducing children to a game based on someone's intoxicated fantasies, no matter how delicious when dunked in milk.

The highlight of the expo was over at the Comedy Central booth, one that I passed by but totally ignored. Brian unwisely pointed out that they had a Rock Band station, and I immediately sprouted hair all over my body and went feral, dripping saliva as I raced towards my glorious prize. I rent the drummer asunder and took up his spot without missing a beat. The guitarist and bassist stared at the mutilated former drummer until I let out a bestial growl and yelled at them in an unearthly tone, "KEEP PLAYING. IF WE DON'T FIVE STAR THIS, IT'S YOU TWO NEXT." Compliance was not an issue.

The station was meant to attract a crowd, and featured a sweepstakes: if you played Timmy and the Lords of the Underworld and left a business card, you would be entered in a raffle for a Rock Band bundle. Damnit, the one time I really really wanted my company to be real!

I instead stood quietly to the side as the band finished the song. People wanted to try guitar, and so Brian stepped aside, but fewer wanted to embarass themselves on drums, and I gladly volunteered. Unlike somewhere like Anime Boston, very few of the attendees have ever played Rock Band, and I would say there are people who probably have not even heard of it or the console I was playing it on. I get stares as I scroll down to expert difficulty, and a concerned stare from the booth manager as I flip the foot pedal backwards. I end up playing the mind-numbingly slow Wanted Dead or Alive thanks to our lead guitar's girlishly squealed mandate, and I leave with my appetite tantalized but unfulfilled. Brian and I return later towards the end of the expo when there is no crowd or band, and I convince him to guitar alongside me as I drum to Maps. I finish very content, but Brian's handling of the Stratocaster set off a spark that, fueled by the real life guitarist in him, made him really want to play more Rock Band. Mmm, delicious convert.

We walk back in the oppressive heat, grab a drink at McDonald's because $3.50 is too much to pay for a bottle of water even if it is in Javits, have our suspicions heightened that the M34 is a god damn bus of myth, and then take the AC-less train back to our stops. I realize that I've only eaten a mouthful and drunk two cups of fluids all day, and proceed to gorge myself after taking a much-needed cool shower. I then sit back, reflect on how much I liked the expo this year despite coming back with a light (but procured) bag, and start hoping that the Neopets manager will bring back those cute plushies next year.

12May/082

(mr)understood

Apologies in advance for obscurity.

There used to be a time when people would crowd into my room to watch Ninja Warrior and The Colbert Report. It was a time when Papa Johns was frequent and delightful, when we had to schedule hangouts on the weekends to accomodate my work schedule, when it was predicted and feared that seawater and the searing sun would cause my skin to have fits. A time of firsts: sleepovers, karaoke, banter, bunnies.

Those were not the most notable features of the time, though. It is more distinctly remembered as a time when memory foam was thoroughly appreciated, when strong tones were not, when steam was constantly recirculated in a futile attempt to make sense of it. It was when the borders of your mom expanded to gleeful smiles and rolled eyes, when you were young was fussed over and grown to be loved, and when Catan was played cooperatively. When talks would be long, frequent, and grandiose.

But that time is best remembered through the moments that caused me to lose more of them. Can I really say that I've gotten better if I often replay them in my mind? That I'm no longer affected by something I look back on with such nostalgia?

I moved off the reservation solely because of the hope that maybe I could relive some of those times. But it's never that easy to forget. You never need to tell someone what you think of them, and so you don't. It is always their intent to hurt you. They are always trying, but they're not the ones who end up hurt.

Some people miss the good ol' Calvin and Hobbes days. I just miss Hobbes.

4Feb/082

Fan sand ninja – Jeremy Piven’s Gold + Thousand nation descent – Xi’an romanization

She once told me that if we were to be together, she would probably have an argument with me and break up with me after only a few months. She had told me more than a few times that I couldn't handle her temper, that no one could, that I was only inviting disaster by asking for full disclosure.

I am reluctant to admit that she was right, but she was.

Yet things were completely different for me when I was instead just a friend. I was able to bear the brunt of an attack the likes of which I'd only seen once before, one that had been a giant blow to my sensibilities. I was able to push past thoughts of her being with other guys, to embrace her as eagerly and passionately as I had done hundreds of times in years past. I was able to learn of things that I would not have thought I could tolerate. I was able to put myself and my own needs above those of other people.

That last note is the one that gives me pause, for that selfishness is exactly what was enabling me to function so well in the presence of difficulties. I have sometimes said that unlike those who treasured independence, I loved being dependent. I loved having someone to whom I could dote on, who would appreciate the details I paid attention to and fuss over.

But I was not always able to meet expectations, and my need for their approval ensured that I always felt it. It is in the dissolution of this dependence that I became more resilient. Perhaps only ever so slightly, but noticeably.

Is the improved defense worth staying single, worth putting myself before other people? Is this, in contrast to how I have lived my life all these years until now, perhaps the better life for me after all? I can already see Cristen telling me that to lead such a life would cause me to miss out on life itself.

Or perhaps I have simply underestimated myself. Perhaps my being unscathed should be attributed not to being selfish, but to simply knowing when I need to back down. Perhaps my tolerance is owed to an understanding of new rules.

The one thing I do know is that being godlike is not all it's cracked up to be.

19Dec/072

Ditching the logical

Here's to a semester where I wasn't ashamed to tell people how I was doing in school, where I didn't habitually cut classes, where I was proud of my work and myself, where I lost friends and met new ones, where I entered more contests than I've ever entered, where I won more contests than I've ever won, where I realized the path I should be heading along, where I discovered even more about myself, and where I finally picked myself up off the ground.

Here's to success. Here's to motivation. Here's to foolishly fighting the fight and forgetting to fascinate. Here's to falteringly forgiving the forgotten. Here's to obfuscation.

Here's to the one semester I would not have done any other way.

12Oct/072

En + K’nex rival – Letterafturcay + Satiate – Essay

Defiantly, exasperatingly, but resolutely choosing friends once again. For once, I'm going to douse a bridge.

4Oct/076

Navigator’s melange effect – L’Arc En …l, and then word.substring(0, 4) + word.substring(6), needless to say

Total readership isn't above five, so this isn't as much of a race as you might think.

from Yoli:

-For the first three people that reply to this post, and who re-post this challenge: you win.

-For your prize, I will send you a gift.

-It might be something I've made, or something cool from my hidden stash of pure amazing. It might be a mix CD, or a rubber duck, or a book I think you might enjoy. A love letter, a useful object, or something else that is awesome or maybe just taking up room in my house.

-Whatever it is, I promise I will get it to you in 365 days of your posted comment or less, and I will need your snail mail. (Send it to my email, which you can find on Facebook.)

-The only thing you need to do to receive your gift is PARTICIPATE.

-Be one of the first three journalers to reply to this, and post this very same thing in your journal, and YOU are the lucky giftee.

3Oct/074

Charat + Hong’s destined battle – aXX:goim?screenname=SarcasticSteven&message=I’m solving your riddle right now.

My 3-day trip to New York was amazing, and both Shelly and I came back with twice the load we departed with. The majority of my load came from Saturday, when I went with my brother and the FIT group to attend the Digital Life convention at the Jacob Javits Center. I knew it was going to be a consumer electronics expo, but I wasn't quite ready for the sheer amount and size of the electronics on one small showroom. There were TVs bigger than both of my monitors put together, computer towers nearly as big and probably three times as heavy, and sexiness emanating from even the lowliest of booths.

Was it as good as the Licensing Expo? Despite both conventions being showcases, they were entirely different breeds. The Licensing Expo had gimmicky free stuff: lots of pins, buttons, stickers, and a couple good items like a Happy Bunny postcard book. Digital Life's freebies were a lot less plentiful but more useful, things that people would use and remind themselves and others about the product: Microsoft popcorn and playing cards, Lord of the Rings Online trial DVDs, and a Newegg poncho. Being the officer of the MMO club, I felt it was my duty to procure goods for our members, and took a whole nine full-size DVD cases from the piles that were being constantly replenished. It wasn't until later that I found out that the installer was available online and trial keys could be sent to your email address. Oh wells.

The big notables were the video games. They had computers that ran Bioshock beautifully and still smooth as silk, two DDR arcade machines, dozens of PS3s and 360s, and several unreleased games: Crysis, Guitar Hero 3, Team Fortress 2...the first hour at the convention was really just me going from booth to booth gaping at the live games that were being played on these monster rigs and screens. I'm not so sure I like Guitar Hero 3's interface, but my opinion might have been soured by the long lines for everything worth playing 🙁 .

But the absolute best part? Totally whooping the Geek Squad's ass at 3-question computer trivia, and winning a USB hub in the process 😀 . Working as BU tech support finally pays off (well, other than in the literal sense XD).

The last day was spent playing with not one, not two, but three linked Xbox 360s, with three matching televisions, three copies of Halo 3, and 10 controllers (sorry to break the sequence of 3's). I donned the mantle of SomeRandomGuy so that people could say "Woo, I just killed some random guy!" and "Damnit, some random guy keeps sniping me!" Unfortunately it was more of the former than the latter, but I eked out a spot in the middle of the leaderboard, which is good considering my inexperience with console shooters. Regardless, it was crazy fun for all of us, with lots of jeering and screaming and teabagging. Shelly came back with a 360 of her own, opening up the possibility of four-player Halo 3 co-op with Megan's 360 😀 . Toss in Bioshock, MMOGS meetings, and RPG games, and I've got a lot I want to do and not a lot of time to do it with. College is definitely in full swing.

30Aug/076

“I just watched her make the same mistakes again”

Instead of writing what I would like to think about, perhaps I'll write about what I am thinking about. Which, in fact, is nothing. Nothing at all. I'm feeling more listless now than I have all summer. My mind doesn't think of quips, it doesn't think of comforting words, it doesn't think of conversation...it just doesn't think. It doesn't process information. It forces laughs when they're prompted, it forces eye contact when it's prompted.

And yet I'm not sure what triggered it. My first day at work was spent being excited, nervous, and cheery. I talked to each and every customer with my usual gusto, left work happy, and met up with friends. And sometime between shopping with them at Bed Bath & Beyond and getting home, a part of me just stopped trying.

Perhaps I'm just tired. I dealt with a lot of people today, and had to wrack my brain for solutions to their questions. I know that I have a low quota for social activity, and I often appreciate alone time after going out with friends. But this isn't quite a need for alone time, because not even watching TV or checking my RSS feeds provided me with any satisfaction.

I originally attributed it to loneliness. Playing with Bunnie vividly reminded me of the lack of physical contact in my everyday life. As strange as it sounds, I had never missed it before she entered my life. I had appreciated it but never felt a desire for it. She was the one who showed me what I was missing, showed me of the power she held over me. I know that simply by hugging me tightly and not letting go, she could make me forget about my deepest and most entrenched worries. Strange and unnatural for someone who relies so heavily on reason.

But now, there's no one to go to. This is one of those rare occasions where I actually don't know the answer to my own question. Perhaps there is an answer out there, but honestly, I don't even know if there's a question anymore. And there's no one to notice that I'm not there asking or answering. The freshmen here are looking for the easygoing friends that they can become lifelong buddies with. My sophmore friends are in their own little worlds, and I suppose I'm in one of my own. The difference is...I'm not so sure I want to be in it by myself. I may have people here with me, but I certainly don't feel like it. I feel too awkward to call attention to myself, feel embarassed when I do get attention, and yet complain that I don't get attention?

Maybe I'm not lonely. Maybe I'm just regretting.

1Aug/077

Talisman of…Everlasting Power?

Back in Stuy, there was a saying that often wormed its way into speeches or closing opinion pieces in the school newspaper, like that joke about laxative* that stopped being so funny after you've heard seven different comics say it in a row. (I am surprised neither was anyone's yearbook quote.)

Welcome to Stuyvesant High School. Choose two of the three: grades, friends, or sleep.

The Friday before my Astronomy class final, I powered through a monster seven-hour study session with three classmates in preparation for the final. In doing so, not only did I fry my brain, but I finalized my answer to that joke in the process, an answer which I was leaning towards my junior year and had solidified by my final year of high school.

I choose friends. It doesn't matter what else I have. Without friends, being well-rested just makes me restless and bored. Without friends, the time spent studying seems even lonelier, and the grades feel hollow and pointless. Yet with friends, I can feel energetic and motivated even when I'm running on empty. A dollar spent with friends on five fried dumplings can feel more rewarding than any meal I've eaten alone. Friends can make me feel like I have a place in the world, a niche that no job earned by good grades could ever fill. Friends is the only choice that will comfort me when I don't have the others.

So thank you, all of you, for showing me this unique facet of the world: one where school isn't everything, where a simple piece of molded plastic can provide infinite enjoyment, where money is no longer considered squandered but merely spent for a good cause. As much as my future clamors for more attention, thank you for grounding me in the present. Thank you for showing me that even though the most enjoyable things are often ephemeral and a waste in the long run, a life not lived is the worst waste of all.

*There are some things that you need to buy together. "Should I get the laxative...or the toilet paper? . . . Give me the laxative. Paper bag, please. And yes, I want the receipt!"

**I was tempted to say, "Friends, I choose you!" but I choked and died a little inside. I still think it's a tiny bit brilliant, so it's been relegated to this addendum.

5Jul/074

You + Palm Pilot/Pocket PC + て

Getting out of school a month before your brother does and three weeks before your summer classes start leaves you with a lot of free time. I tried new games and tossed them away, tried old games and tossed them away, used Flash to make text glint, started reading military science fiction again, and visited some friends while not visiting other friends. My chronic ennui reappeared on cue, as did its periodic remission. I'm not as productive as I could be, but the pace of summer gives me a wide berth to be lazy.

My summer classes are only a few hours every day, and are just enough to keep moss from growing on me. The teacher was literally hired the day before class started, and didn't have a syllabus for a week. He writes tests that have confusing wording and answers that are identical in everything but syntax. He sometimes teaches us incorrect material and refuses to correct himself. In fact, the only thing he is good at is avoiding our questions, especially during tests. I do not think Hunter will depose him, simply because they have no one else. Based on the uproar we received when we went over the test, I'm pretty sure that we'll get passing grades just to shut us up. Once the term is over, Hunter can put this embarassing course behind them and we can put our liberal arts requirements behind us.

My social needs are pretty slim, so I've been very content this summer. I:

  • saw Curse of the Golden Flower with no sound while loitering in CompUSA and then again at an outdoor screening
  • tasted appropriately expensive samples of restaurants on 46th street at The Taste of Times Square
  • made my practically annual trip to the Museum of Natural History
  • learned Mahjong and Cranium
  • had my first sleepover, and found that I could not masturbate as fast as girls who have had boyfriends
  • chilled out to watch Stargate for several hours while eating questionable beef but tasty shrimp noodles and pork
  • proudly walked into the Jacob Javits center as president of Steven's Selective Services in order to snag freebies
  • slept through most of the July 4th fireworks
  • became left-handed

In terms of actual productivity? I've set up another photo album, one I think is far sexier than Coppermine and reminds me of a certain mp3 player brand. It doesn't let me categorize, label, or search very well, but it's simple to view and easy to add and link to. Tip: once you click an image to view a larger version, you can press your keyboard's arrow keys to scroll through the rest, as well as use your mouse to drag it around the screen. Sexy and easy? Oh my.

I've got several great games lined up, but there will be more posts when I find myself on the wrong end of a rifle too many times. For now, look at the glorious pictures of my freshman year. (Too many to bother linking, but I'll do that in the future whenever I make a new album.)