APPROACHING LEVEL 31! -OR- A Drunk Guy And His Girlfriend Get On The LIRR…

by Matthew Edward Hawkins

Sorry for the delay folks. I’ll skip the excuses (what else can I say other than it’s been super crazy hectic, but I’ve also been taking time to rest and relax, something I haven’t been able to do in like forever) and jump right into I promised last time…

- Okay, last time I mentioned how there was a “distraction” on my train back to the city from ICON, which prevented me from writing out that entry in its entirety as I had originally planned? Well, after switching trains in Huntington, about two stops in, and only about three hundred words in, a couple got on the train. A man and woman, and both were in their thirties. The dude was Italian, and I’m talking the Long Island, guido-trash variety. He was also very drunk (as was the girl, but I could tell at first). They were two seats ahead of me, and instantly the dude was very loud and obnoxious; I tried my best to ignore the asshat, but was also thanked God that I was not any closer, as I saw him try to get the attention of the guy next to him, by slamming on the side of his seat. Eventually, the dude in front of that guy gave drunk guy what he wanted… a bottle opener. So next thing you know, drunk guy is chugging a Heineken out in the open, and is happier (as well as louder) than pig in shit. Not too long afterwards, the ticket person, who of course has to be a young and fairly attractive woman, tries to do her job and gets hit on in front of everyone (as well as his female companion). The train was not packed, but there were several others, all trying to ignore the guy as well.

The guy just won’t shut the fuck up, but like I said, I try my best to ignore him. He’s staying such stupid shit, stuff you hearing from the movies or the Sopranos, that you can’t believe this dipshit is for real. But then he says something that’s impossible to ignore… “So did you fuck him? I’m asking you, DID YOU FUCK HIM?”

At this point, I have yet to see his face, but I can see his woman’s, via the reflection of window (we were both in window seats on the right of the train). And I can see that her face is in her hands.

“Did you fuck him? You better tell me now, or I swear to fucking God, I’m gonna fucking kill you. I’m gonna bash your fucking head in.”


“I fucking knew it…”

“He RAPED me.”

“I fucking knew it. You fucking bitch.”

“HE RAPED ME!!! He raped me in my ass. Do you know how that feels? Do you have ANY idea how that fucking feels?!?!”

A part of me was shocked by this exchanged, but it was dwarfed by the other part that couldn’t believe a single word, to the extent that I thought it had to be some bullshit shtick by some improv troupe or something. From there the guy continued with his threats against her life: “I’m gonna fucking bash your fucking head against the skull. You, the fucker, and your mom. How does that feel? Do you wanna die?”


Again, really hard to ignore all this nonsense. After a while, I can’t make out what they’re saying, nor do I care, but I do recall hearing “Give me back my money!” from the woman and something about cocaine from the dude. Then I begin to hear some rustling in the seats. Actually, more like a struggle. I look to the window, and the woman in gone. Immediately afterwards I see her almost on top of the dude, with his hands around her neck. He’s strangling her. Meanwhile, she trying her best to fight him off, but both seem evenly matched and its a total stalemate. Everyone is just sitting there, oblivious to the situation. And you could definitely tell that its just some stupid altercation between two drunk and messed up people. But a woman is getting fucking strangled right then and there in front of everyone! Yet because the dude is drunk, I felt that jumping in would not be the smartest move since it could seriously aggravate the situation and put the woman in further harm. So I decided to get help… though the last time I saw the conductor, it was when she asked drunk dude for his ticket once again, which he still didn’t produce, so she went on ahead, clearly not in the mood to deal with such bullshit. And because I didn’t feel like passing the two for obvious reasons, so I went the other way. The train had come to stop, so as new passengers got on and immediately came to halt due to the spectacle before them, I stepped one foot out the door, hoping to flag down some help… cuz knowing my fucking luck, if I had completely stepped out for assistance, the train doors would close, and there would go my laptop and all my other personal belongings from the weekend. Luckily, some dude came running down from the opposite end, another passenger, to tell me that the ticket woman was alerted. So I went back in and took my seat.

Almost immediately, the ticket woman was back and had the two separated. She asked what had happened, and the woman who was also in hysterics claimed that her man was strangling her, which I guess had stopped by the time help arrived. So the ticket woman asked the entire car if what was said was true. I looked around and saw everyone look the other way. And even though I had a long, hard weekend, and wanted only to get home as soon as possible cuz I knew Katie would be waiting for me with a nice hot meal… one of the things I absolutely hate hearing is how a guy beat the shit out of a woman in broad daylight, and in front of multiple witnesses, yet no one says shit. Because in this day and age, no one wants to get involved. But fuck that noise. So I raised my hand and verified the accusation. And then I could hear a sigh of relief from all the passengers from me. What pussies.

The ticket woman then called for assistance. For a sec I thought she was going to go away, leaving myself with the drunk dude that just ratted on him, which made me go “holy, fucking shit” to myself, but soon another ticket person showed up, this one a dude. He said that cops would be waiting at Penn Station when the train rolled in. The ticket dude then asked if I could stick around afterwards and help file a police report. I said “sure, why not.” Drunk dude was also pretty ambivalent about it all, going “Just fucking throw me in jail, I don’t give a shit.” As for his woman, it was becoming increasingly clear that not only was she drunk but also on something else as well, as she went on and on about her man trying to kill her, and how at least one guy saw what he did and how the dude was finally gonna go to jail. Globs of white spit began to form on the sides of her mouth. Pretty disgusting, as well as sad.

As we rolled into Penn Station, everyone saw the cops on the platform… which we also saw pass by. They were waiting at the end of the platform, but our car was at the front of the train. Some dude behind me immediately sighed. I too was afraid that the drunk dude at the last minute would go berzerk or something. But the cops ran up to the front and soon had the car empty out. I was identified as the witness and soon was asked what I saw. This was on the platform, and I felt somewhat nervous being in eye-shot of the drunk guy as him and his woman were being detained, not that I had anything to worry about. So I was separated further by request and answered some more questions. Soon, the three of us were led to the police station in Penn, and I gotta say, it was kinda neat cuz I felt like I had a police escort. It also meant I got funny looks from some people wondering what was going on and if I had done something. Plus, it was straight out of a sitcom; despite how I was supposed to be separated from the drunk dude and his girl, I kept brushing shoulders with them, due to all the heavy foot traffic on the way to the station, and its tight quarters. But eventually I was put in a separate room, to tell an officer exactly what I saw and heard for a police report. Right from the get-go, the officer noticed my plastic bag with boxes featuring semi-naked plastic girls on them, and I explained that I had just been at a sci-fi/fantasy convention as a guest speaker, then explained how I was a video game writer, but more importantly a journalist, hence why I was able to remember a lot despite not trying to pay attention to any of it. All of which he found pretty impressive. Then when he left the room, I noticed on his computer a website that had Wrestlemania analysis, so I then asked him if he liked wrestling, then admitted that I was into it… long story short, we became fast friends.

Just as I was getting to the good part, another cop showed up and said forget about the report. He then explained to me that the woman was not going to press charges. Also, “Here’s the funny thing… The guy was actually trying to the do the right thing by keeping her money away from her. The woman’s mother had given it to her, which she then wanted to spend on coke, which the guy objected to… Both are being taken to the hospital.” And that was pretty much it.

- Otherwise, like I said, been trying to take it easy after spreading myself thin for so long. Which would explain why I was so sick for such an extended period (though again, running myself raged in Long Island didn’t help). Also, something is seriously going around, hence why almost everyone I know is ill (which I’ll get to in just a sec). Finally got the chance to watch some of Katie’s The Kids In The Hall season 1 box set. Prior to that, I’ve been introducing Katie to the wonders of Trailer Park Boy, which I believe I’ve already mentioned previously; we just finished up season 4. And also previosuly noted, been able to get more time in for game playing. Case in point: finally beat No More Heroes…

And yeah, it’s a pretty awesome game. For those that are not aware of the facts (I know I’ve written about the game a lot already, at least in bits and pieces, to the point that even I don’t remember what’s been said already, and for that I apologize), you play an assassin that’s part hipster, part animu dork, who wants to be the top ranked killer. To do so, he has to go through the ten or so ranked assassins ahead of him, armed only with a blade katana, which is a fancy other name for lightsaber. It’s a fairly hardcore action game for the Wii, a system which doesn’t exactly cater to such an audience, hence why it not only sticks out fairly prominently, but also why its somewhat of a bomb.

The good parts are pretty amazing. I know that I’ve mentioned the mind-blowing sound design many times already (there were a few times in which I was stuck on a particular boss, and the amazing tunes that accompany them really helped my motivation to keep trying), so I’ll skip that. I personally like the graphics, at least during main missions/boss battles. The game is broken into two primary parts: either you hunting down or battling a boss, or doing stuff to get to that point. I’ll explain the latter in a little bit. The combat is a ton of fun, with a pretty decent control scheme (which I had a hard time wrapping my head around at first… and its still by no means perfect, but one does get used to it, and most importantly, employs the Wii-mote rather effectively). Again, sound has a lot to do with it. As crazy as it might sound, there’s one main riff that is constantly repeated throughout the game, yet it NEVER gets on, and instead completely gets one pumped. Right after Rez, No More Heroes is a game that absolutely must be played with the sound on. But back to the action: the definite highlight are the boss encounters. Its been argued that every single one of them has the same technique, which is wait for them to attack, then follow up with your own when they’re vulnerable. But if I’m not mistaken, isn’t that the case with pretty much ALL action games? Hence why I don’t feel so bad for giving that part away. Anyhow, despite the apparent similarity in approach, each boss has its own tricks up their bag, and most importantly, each has its own unique and throughly enjoyable personality.

Personality is an important thing to remember. No More Heroes is oozing with it, as well as style. Just like Killer 7 did as well. Though in the case of that game, it was nothing but style and zero substance. Here we have a game that is very pretty, as well as very cute in certain instances, like how certain parts pay tribute to shumps, yet doesn’t allow any of that to get in the way of delivering the gameplay. I guess that’s why I had no real beef against all the stuff that most reviewers have complained about, primarily the overworld portion of the game. Its where you run around town doing odd jobs to then get assignation assignments, all to earn money to pay for fee to enter the boss battles, and I will agree that it kinda does feel like pointless busy work to a certain extent. Yet the activities employ the Wii-mote very nicely and are all enjoyable as a result (well, most of them at least). On the visual end, this part of the game doesn’t really hold up very well either, but you can blame that on the system itself, not the game (maybe). Though at the end of the day, its all much more of a game than just fucking hitting a button to walk from point A to B, like in Killer 7, which I still find totally ridiculous. Some take issue of the game being “Grand Theft Auto-lite”, but hey, its good enough for me since instead of stealing cars and banging hookers, I’d rather be a goofy virgin that dumpster dives for designer shirts. Once again, the personality helps instead of hinders in this case. And like Joe Salina put it best earlier this weekend, the only true flaw of the game is how the awesome threads in the game are not available in real life.

It is said that the game is a satirical piece on the state of games and society as a whole. I personally think that might be a bit of hot air… Some defenders have stated that the reason why the overworld looks bad is that its supposed to. Yeah right. Along with the haters are the lovers, those that find No More Heroes completely mind-blowing on so many different levels. I love the game, but… I’m sorry to say, its nothing brilliant (except for the sound design). I dunno, I guess some of the things it does is impressive, even ground breaking, for a video game. Then again, its takes a lot these days to genuinely surprise me. Still, its an awesome game… one of the Wii’s finest. Did I mention that NMH is the first game to have a “cool” leading character that is actually kinda cool? And one very last detail about the audio: the voice acting is absolutely superb. Plus, in addition to shumps, it also homage to Star Wars believe it or not, and not just with its use of a lightsaber. In fact, in conclusion, I would have to say that No More Heroes is easily the best Star Wars game to come out since the original vector title in the arcades back in the early 80s.

- Back to reality, I’m also still recovering from… THE PARTY. I threw another birthday shindig this past Friday. Maybe its silly to throw one’s self a birthday party each year, especially at a certain point? I guess that’s why there wasn’t one last year, when I hit 30. Though a lot of it was because it was increasingly becoming a hassle to accommodate friends at my former residence, plus I was scrambling for work as well. Mind you, I’m also coincidentally unemployed once again, but the situation is not as bad as it was before. Anyhow, I also figured what better opportunity to make it a housewarming event as well?

Though truth be told, the plug was almost pulled the day off. When the date was decided upon weeks ago, mostly due to how it to conformed to other people’s schedules, Katie and I thought it might be a bit sooner that what we originally wanted, yet that would also mean a greater incentive to get the place in shape! This was of course before we both got sick and I was laid off. But then there were a number of last minute cancellations due to illness, such as Dave Roman and Raina, who ALWAYS come out to my dumb little get-togethers. If the guy has to bring to an IV, he will, meaning he was REALLY sick, so if you’re reading this Dave, hope you’re feeling better! Then you had Hilary, who was going to drive from Connecticut specifically for the party, then immediately head back the next morning, but shitty weather in her neck of the woods left her dead in her tracks, literally. Though the absolute worst was my newly acquired kitchen table…

If there’s been one thing missing from the apartment, it has been a kitchen table. I went to place called Surprise Surprise here in the city last week, where I used to pay top money for furniture back in the day when I didn’t know any better, but this was also before Ikea came to town. Since then their prices have since become somewhat reasonable, and they also happened to have almost exactly what I wanted. Problem was, when it came to asking questions and the like, I had to deal with this extremely annoying Chinese guy. Guy said “yes, yes, yes” and “don’t worry about it” to everything; all he wanted was the fucking sale, and was so annoying that I walked out, determined to find something else. But there I was, back at the store the morning of the party. And of course, that asshole was still there. I bit the bullet and naturally, it was a clusterfuck; once I had put money on the counter, not surprisingly, he simply dumped everything on the floor in bits and pieces, completely ignoring the part about me having to transport it across 170 blocks the island and hauling it up four flights. Everything was simply thrown in a box and poorly tapped, making the haul up apartment uncomfortable as well as precious to say the least. And once it was safe and sound in my kitchen, with my back almost blown I immediately went back out to get more stuff. By the time I finally got the chance to sit down to put the thing together, a little over two hours left to go before things kicked off… wouldn’t you know? They gave me the wrong fucking screws.

I immediately made an angry phone call to Surprise Surprise explaining the situation and demanding to talk to the manager. Who of course was not there. So instead I was referred to the main handy guy, that being the Chinese fuckwit that I wanted to strangle already for entirely different reasons. He claimed it was someone else’s fault, and “no big deal” and said that I should simply come back the next day for the correct screws. Don’t you just love it when other people screw up and they expect you to deal with it? When I mentioned that it was pretty fucking ridiculous after the hard sell to just drop the ball like this, especially for something that I needed in about two hours time, he just went “Oh Jesus Christ…”. In the end, he said that he would send somebody to deliver the screws. I figured it would be a fat fucking chance of that happening. Yet at this point, it really was too late to cancel, so aside from not having all my framed stuff on the walls hung, all the food would have to be laid out on the floor. I then begun to wonder who at the party that night would have connections for me to buy a gun for my return trip to Surprise, Surprise. About two and a half hours later, after people started showed up, so did this other Chinese guy with the right screws. Plus he offered to put the table together, and immediately went to work; for a while, I had a random Chinese guy in my kitchen that no one could figure out what the deal was. Afterwards I would discover that he totally hates that aforementioned asshole that I wanted to punch in the face, and how it was HE who screwed up and not this guy that douchebag had tried pinning it on. I thanked this guy for this help, and tried to give him beer, but he said thanks, but no thanks…

- As for the party itself, in the end, it was a pretty decent affair and I’m totally happy that the plug was not pulled. Once again, it was another fantastic gathering of gamers, cartoonists, fine artists, web designers, punk rockers, fashionistas, and the like. Oddly enough, I figured my tale of sex, drugs, and guidoes from the LIRR would be a big hit, but instead it was my letter from McDonald’s, in response to a complaint I lodged, and which Katie hung on the fridge door, was the talk of the night. Anyhow, Rob & Michele too some pics, which can be found here.

Aside from some awesome folks coming out, a few came bearing awesome gifts. Got some pretty neat stuff, but I simply have to pass along a pic of what Dave Mauro got for me…

- So one thing that I forgot to bring up during my ICON report last time, which is actually something that was suggested a while ago from Jason… which I also brought up at the party, and that also got a really positive response, is the idea for… get ready, a FORT90CON!

Yes, a fort90 convention. Sounds silly/crazy/stupid, right? Yet when I ask others about it, they seem to think its a good idea, and others have also brought up the idea without any prior mention from myself. All I can say is that I did have a lot of neat ideas for ICON that were not utilized that I’m still miffed about, but which could still be realized. It would be small, for sure, as well as different, though that would be the point really, but most importantly, it’s actually kinda, maybe possible! Key word here being maybe. So what would it be about? I suppose all the stuff I’m all about: video games, comics, wacky cable access, slime porn, homeless people pissing and shitting on each other, Hermione Granger, etc. At the very least, I already have Steve Totilo has a confirmed guest speaker!

Also suggested (and which Katie especially wants to see happen) is my own cable access show. That is definitely more in the realm of possibility, and an idea that Joe Simko and I a while back, during the last “golden era” of cable access. This is when Grube Tube, Mad Dog, Zenbock (who I saw at ICON once again; each year I want to come up to him and say hello… and each year I get chicken-shit), Subway Girl, Madame Chaos, and Dame Darcy ruled the MNN airwaves. Once that era subsided, I wondered if there was still an audience and if there was still a point. But since coming back to Manhattan, and staying up late into the night, and catching stuff like rapping martians, I’ve begun to realize that cable access is not yet dead, and still the wild, wild west, and perhaps I should still dip my feet in it? What do you folks think?

- On a far more doable front, there’s still the podcast that Mike and I have planned on starting for a while now. The plan at the moment is to maybe record the very first edition sometime this week. I’m still kicking myself for not doing one right after the GDC. I also wanted to kick things off last week, right after ICON, but I think I’ve pretty much said everything that needed to be said last time. Unfortunately I missed the Guinness World Record event at Barcade this past Thursday, but at the very least, Mike and I can re-create out anal sex round table discussion from the party (and which we do every time we get drunk, to be honest).

Maybe I can simply wait till next week, to talk about the New York Comic Con, which goes down next weekend? Also that Saturday, Phil Fish, the creator of Fez, will be town and possibly crashing on my couch! So there should be plenty to talk about then.

Oh, another thing that’s been talked about forever, but is actually happening, are upgrades to the forum. Though things are still being worked on, which is why everything looks so weird, like everyone’s avatars. At the very least, the spambots situation has been taken care off, meaning all new accounts will be quickly activated. Regarding my “best of the forums” posts, that should come back soon. I would cull for highlights right now, but it’s getting kinda late. Plus, the place been kinda dead as of late for whatever reason, though hopefully not for long!

- Finally, and back to Hermione real quick, as of this writing, Emma Watson will be legal in less than 24 hours

  • Sonictail

    Well, happy bday dude, and say hi to Phil for me :)

  • Sheep Herder

    Happy Birthday.

    For some reason, I just couldn’t get enough of the lawn mowing errand in NMH. I just kept going back to it over and over again. And someone just recently pointed out to me the youtube video of the actual conversation between Travis and that other person. I thought it was one of those parts in which the game was being cute, but there was an actual dialog taking place between the two. Awesomeness.

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