August 11th, 2003


(no subject)

Very interesting last couple of days.

Cupertino is so depressing. Ever since the dotcom bubble burst the town's been in a state of decay. What was the richest neighborhood in the world only three or four years ago is now virtually a ghost town. Over two thirds of the Vallco shopping mall, including the entire food court, consists of blank walls or empty lots (or decorated by faded "COMING SOON!" signs), and the stores that are left have the most depressing selection of goods I have ever seen. There's a magnificent five-star hotel that was never finished, and it stands stillborn in an empty lot, waiting for someone to tear it down. Still a nice neighborhood, but it may never return to its former glory.

The day before yesterday I went into a roleplaying store in Vallco (a decrepit shopping mall in Cupertino) and I overheard the following conversation between a customer and a store clerk:

Customer: ...point-based classes. No experience, but lots of skills.
Clerk: *laughs* Comes naturally with wizard-type characters. They have so few spell slots, though.
Customer: Well, yeah, but sorcerors? You can cast ten fireballs a day and nothing else.
*insert some gibberish about level 9 spells that I don't remember or understand*
Clerk: ...third edition rules, sorcerors--
Customer: Yeah, what new classes? Sorceror was originally a rip of wizard in the first place, and now they're ripping it off even more. Come on! Look at Eldritch Knights. Don't they just scream "Sorceror, sorceror!" Or *more blather about prestige classes followed by shouts of "Sorceror, sorceror!"

My first impulse was to go over to them and tell them, "GET A LIFE, YOU GEEKS! It's only a game!" Then I realized, with much shame, that I actually understood what they were saying, and that I've had similar conversations in the past. I remembered the character sheets I made for my friends, my twinked Fallout characters, my L9 elven rogue wizard in Neverwinter Nights...

It's easy to make fun of geeks. We're such easy targets. The only analogues most people have to Dungeons and Dragons and other tabletop RPGs are board games like Monopoly and Risk (two games often sold in roleplaying stores, I might add), and obsessing over a game of Risk with that kind of intensity would be a strong symptom of acute patheticness. I had never noticed until that day how ridiculous we role-playing geeks sound when we talk about THACO and multiclassing. It's pretty humbling.

Hung out with Steve yesterday. Turns out that Steve lived in Cupertino for fifteen years...small world, since my uncle has been living there for fifty. He and one of his buddies took me to a pearl milk tea place in the middle of a Chinese shopping center--obscenely overpriced, but pretty close to the real thing. Talked to him a bit about things I don't want to know. Man....Steve is going to get in so much trouble if he goes back to Taiwan. Poor guy has committed pretty much every petty crime and misdemeanor in the book. Sounded like he had a good time doing them, though.

Last night I was at another uncle's house for a family reunion. With the exception of my cousin and my mom, only Americans on my dad's side of the family were invited, so there were only about five gazillion people there. (The other fifteen gazillion are still in Taiwan.) It's kinda interesting how all the males in my family look virtually identical. A lot of my younger cousins (the ones that are under 40 :b) are much like me, except much cooler. Also kind of freaky how I have second cousins older than me and third cousins almost my age. I'll post pics when my dad is done uploading them to his computer.

I'm typing this at my cousin's apartment in San Francisco. She still lives with a whole bunch of guys, though apparently some of them have moved out and new people have moved in. (An apartment populated by five cosmopolitan twentysomethings with frequent visitors and an occasionally rotating cast of where have I seen that before? :b) She has broadband, and I can't sleep, so hehe. Leech time!

Looking forward to Oberlin...missing you all.
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