L.A. No…aaaargh!

There are eight million stories in the naked city. These days they're mostly mis-spelled and full of hash tags.

Having never been to Los Angeles before, and with my only experience of west coast USA being a day trip from Vancouver to Seattle when I was ten years old (which resulted in us spending the ENTIRE day in a mall), it was odd that our journey from the world famous LAX to our apartment not far from Wilshire Blvd was peppered with thoughts of “Yeah, been here”, “Oh I remember that”, “Hey, isn’t that [insert landmark here]?”.  A year ago this would have been because, as an avid movie fan, so many of the streets and sights had likely been used in countless Hollywood productions and various television shows. Last night, however, it was because I’d been sucked in to 1940s Los Angeles by L.A. Noire and at times it felt like I’d not only been here before, but had lived a previous life as an LAPD detective.  I don’t like Fedoras much though.

But we’re here, finally.   The word “finally” can be used in two senses, as we’d thrown the idea of going to E3 around last year when the site was still in its embryonic stages but felt that it was just too much, too soon.  A year on, and still in our infancy, we threw sackloads of caution to a seemingly insurmountable wind, crunched some numbers (and when they wouldn’t play ball we forced them into a blender so they had no choice), and went for that proverbial leap of faith.  So many developers, publishers and individuals within the vivid tapestry of the gaming industry have helped us along the way and so it stands to reason that we’d want to acknowledge this by bringing the latest information from E3 directly to you rather than paraphrasing some of the bigger sites.

Even James Fennelly would have trouble getting from one terminal to another with my laptop and cameras.

This isn’t veiled attempt at suggesting martyrdom though; we also thought it’d be absolutely outstanding to experience it first hand… the buzz, the fuss, the anticipation, the excitement, the slight trepidation,  and the aching limbs from carrying an 18.5 inch laptop (accompanied by breeze-block power supply) over one shoulder and no fewer than three cameras, five lenses, three power supplies, twelve cables, a microphone, and a speedlight over the other. To say that my shoulders ache would be akin to saying Amy Winehouse has been known to have the odd shandy, but it’s the price we pay for being a geek.  Without our gadgets we are unplugged from the Matrix and so we learn to cope.

Earlier in the year, our trip to PAX East was certainly a lengthier experience in terms of travel time, but it was infinitely more comfortable.  The airline seats had more leg room than we’d expected, we each had our own DVR-style entertainment system built into the seat so while Lorna struggled to play crap games with an almost-intolerable controller, I kicked back and caught up with several movies I’d been wanting to see. And ‘Scott Pilgrim Saves The World’.  They chucked food at us like we were starving children that hadn’t yet been stuffed into a handbag by Madonna, plied us with alcohol and various other beverages and generally made the experience one of fidget-ridden comfort.  On the way back, a quick chat to the pleasant chap on the check-in desk about laptop space earned us that coveted position with about six clear feet in front us and power sockets under the seat. That was Delta Airlines, and we salute them for it.

Lee struggles to understand what the pillow case on his seat was for. The one that had, until that point, contained a pillow.

This time, however, it was US Airways… a company who, I’ll admit, I’d never heard of before but assumed would be similar in standards to Delta as they had more aircraft on the tarmac than any other.  An assumption was also made that, given the length of the flights and the fact that they were international, we’d be afforded the same courtesies as Delta. Only similarity was that the seats were also blueish.

Ben explains, scientifically, why Coca Cola tastes like shit in America.

In terms of leg room, this was similar to the modern Easyjet flights (although Ben, Lee and Lorna had exit seats while I was shoved in a different row) and there was no on-board entertainment.  Well, there was actually… there was a single ceiling mounted 20″ monitor every fifteen or so feet allowing everyone to watch the same thing at the same time, with a playlist consisting of two pretty dodgy movies, single episodes of NCIS,  Big Bang Theory, some show where a guy taught you how to disappear from the government (odd choice for an American airline, I thought) and, of course, television’s answer to forcing your fingers down the back of your throat as hard as possible: Glee.

Arriving at Philadelphia some seven hours later was something of a relief, and it had changed considerably from the last time I was there, but having to collect our luggage and then check it back in again for our final leg to Los Angeles was unexpected and caused some concern.  Perhaps the flight to Los Angeles would be a little more rewarding as it was, after all, transporting us to the land of the “beautiful people”.  Oh.. hell.. no.

Not only did we have less room than before, but neither one of us had been seated anywhere near the other and the flight was already overbooked to the point where they were offering people later flights and $500 compensation.  It’s something that I’ve never been able to understand – an aircraft has a set number of seats, so only sell that many seats. Simple. Yet again, no in-seat entertainment and not even a hint of a communal display so it was another five or so hours doing an impression of a battery hen with nothing to occupy our minds and absolutely no in-flight food or beverages, unless you wanted to pay $8 for some Ritz Crackers and cheese being touted a stewardess that could only be described as a cross between Eddie Izzard and Ian Paisley.  Now, I like Ritz Crackers as much as the next fat bastard, but I wouldn’t pay $8 for four.

The lack of motion behind me isn't some fancy production effect from Photoshop. Unfortunately.

Eventually, we touch down at LAX, speak to Luke from FeedTheGamer who had been sitting in front of us for the flight and collect our luggage from the carousel.  All but one bag.  The bag with all the toiletries and power supplies.  An hour later and the moderately helpful woman at the luggage desk explains that it’s “coming in on the 23:30 flight”. We landed at 20:55 and yet our luggage didn’t actually have to go with us.  An odd baggage policy, made worse by the fact that they won’t call an overseas mobile ‘phone to arrange for delivery… yeah, how bizarre that someone using your airline isn’t from the USA?

Our home for the next seven days

Fast forward a little, past the point where we sat in a cab for ten minutes while the guy argued with us that the address we gave him doesn’t exist before eventually getting out in disgust and into the cab behind who whisked us away to what is to be our home for the next seven days.  It’s a deflating start to the entire E3 experience, but the next couple of days should more than make up for the hassle thus far and then the hard work begins again.

I can’t find the option to switch everything over to black and white though, bummer.

Last five articles by Mark R



  1. Pete Pete says:

    Shame it’s such a deflating start to the experience! Can you imagine the furore with US Airlines if I’d come along? I’d be almost certainly charged the extra for 2 seats and made to feel like a 3rd class denizen of the seventh level of hell!

  2. Chris Toffer says:

    As much as that all sounds as you say: deflating. It sounds like a little adventure aswell. I love stuff like that ( I’m normal…really!) I consider it part and parcel of travel. Infact if everything goes totally smoothly I come away a little disappointed.

    Enjoy it guys. Sound’s like you’re being made to work for it!

  3. Edward Edward says:

    Well, even the greatest trips can have bumpy starts! I’m a bit used to the long haul journeys, but it doesn’t mean they don’t suck large amounts. Can’t imagine it was the greatest of experiences, but you certainly managed to pack more humour into this post than the planes did luggage. America eh?

    Still, hoping for the best and that the mecca that is E3 more than makes up for the inconveniences. :)

  4. Lorna Lorna says:

    Loved the title of this :D Also, when the fuck did you take that piccy of Lee? Classic! “…another five or so hours doing an impression of a battery hen…” Yep, flight nightmare :( Could have been worse though, I suppose. Still no luggage.

  5. Tania Tania says:

    Those photos are brill. :) Surprised one of you didn’t try to ride the baggage carousel! ;)
    And why DOES coke taste shit in America?

  6. [...] tail fin flag looks Greek by the way!) and U.S. Immigration. May I recommend taking a read of Mark’s and Lorna’s accounts of the day. As it stands at the moment we’re just waiting to head off to [...]

  7. Samuel Samuel says:

    Americans over-sweeten EVERYTHING. My sole sense memory of American bread for example is a strong after-taste of raw cane sugar. And then they wonder why everyone there is massively obese, and think banning pop for benefits recipients in New York will actually make a difference. Mad.

    Two things come out of this. First, Lee with an airline pillow case on his head needs to be the site mascot. I demand a plushy. Secondly, whoever thought up trapping people in a tin can suspended in the air, unable to escape from Glee, is an evil genius, and must be stopped.

  8. Lorna Lorna says:

    Bah, I miss the house.

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