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August 13, 2008

Eddie Izzard In Seattle

It was a few weeks ago, July 12th, when we saw Eddie Izzard presenting his STRIPPED tour at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle. For those unfamiliar with Mr. Izzard let me just say that he is different from other stand-up comedians. Not only is he an accomplished actor ("Mystery Men, "Ocean's Twelve", "Ocean's Thirteen", HBO's "The Riches") but also a cross-dressing transvestite comedian with a wide variety of rambling monologues on often rather absurd topics.

Interestingly enough STRIPPED saw Eddie Izzard switching into "bloke"-mode as he referred to it at the beginning of his act. No high-heels this time!

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The show was fun with a wide range of topics and he genuinely seemed to enjoy the audience's reactions. He was quite puzzled though when a joke about Huskies (the local university team nick name) failed to generate any laughter :)

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His favorite topic seemed to be Noah's ark and intelligent design in general - very pointed, considering Seattle is the home of the dubious Discovery Institute, a fundamentalist Christian "think" tank advocating creationism and other anti-scientific beliefs. Eddie spent lots of time on why "intelligent" design isn't so intelligent after all.

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After the show Mr. Izzard came out the side-entrance to greet an enthusiastic crowd of perhaps 80 fans. He refused to give autographs ("I am too tired!") but did Q&A for about 40 minutes, entertaining all kinds of fun questions and a few bizarre ones.

There was also at least one far-traveling fan from Alaska who begged Eddie to include AK on the next tour, guaranteeing sold-out shows!

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Mr. Izzard even got a marriage proposal from a die-hard fan with a "Cake or Death?"-necklace but turned it down :) Some folks were shouting things like "Don't do it!" and "You can do better", rough crowd!

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Overall: good show with great Q&A afterwards, thanks Eddie!

August 11, 2008

NWCGE 2K8 Portland Retro Gaming Expo - Recap

Wow, what a great event this was! Two days of non-stop classic gaming goodness in Portland as over 200 attendees played, traded, bought and sold classic and new video games!

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What set this event apart was the large number of private collectors that sold and traded at their own booths. Some of the people sold their extras and duplicates at unbelievable prices!

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There were about 25 vendors total offering everything from very early Odyssey games (complete with full-size TV overlays), handhelds, VFD table tops, to Atari rarities, custom-made dust covers, Vectrex, ColecoVision games and newer things like PS3, Xbox 360 etc. Even some more unusual systems showed up: NEO GEO, Commodore Amiga, Philips CDi, various store kiosks and much more.

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The kiosks were set up for play, so were a few arcade machines, like this Pac-Man (one of the first 1000 made, see the blue speckles on the side).

Overall there were tens of thousands of games and consoles for sale and trade!

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There were also many rare import games and game related items as well as some real classic game treasures.

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John, Rick the two organizers and Lee, all from NWCGE. Nice referee shirts from Twin Galaxies!

ATARI 2600 CHAMPIONSHIP

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The first highlight of Day 1 was the annual Portland Atari 2600 Championship!

The initial qualifying round was a high-score match of Fastfood with last year's champion James R. achieving the fantastic top score of 11309 points!

Twelve people made it into the second round where they went head-to-head with Surround. I was amazed how filled up some of the screens got, the players demonstrated a lot of skill here.

The surviving six players James R., Lee, Jordon, Mike (last year's runner-up), Anthony and Hans now faced the Quarter Finals with a high-score round of Super Cobra.

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To the big surprise of everybody James R. and Mike - last year's #1 and #2 both got eliminated and dropped out!

The Semi Finals had a head-to-head in Space War and Lee and Jordon moved on to the Finals. Scores were close, both matches were won 10-8.

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In the Finals then Lee and Jordon faced off on the ingenious Ebivision Pac-Man, the best Pac-Man game on the Atari 2600 bar none. Lee got the high-score with a solid 17230 points with Jordon being a close second with 15090 points!

First prize was $100 in gift certificates, second prize was $50 and third prize was still $25.

HIGH SCORE MOVIE WITH Q&A

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The second highlight of Day 1 was the showing of the movie HIGH SCORE from Jeremy Mack with the star of the movie Portland's Bill Carlton participating and staying for a Q&A session afterwards.

I had seen Bill in Seattle a few months ago and the showing here at the game expo was definitely much more in depth and quite enjoyable. Bill also signed a lot of memorabilia while I chatted with his girlfriend and learned that Bill now ones dozens of classic arcades. That guy is serious about classic gaming!

For the people with energy left Portland's premier classic arcade Ground Kontrol gave out discounts to show attendees.

SUNDAY - DAY 2

Sunday proved to be just as busy as Saturday with some additional vendors showing up and many of the private collectors starting to aggressively discounting their goodies (leading to manic rushes)!

Scott Boothby brought his full-size home-built R2-D2 and drove it through the exhibition hall prompting Anthony from Portland's Ground Kontrol to go into Luke Skywalker-mode.

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Day 2 also brought some additional contests: 8-player Bomberman by the Portland Hobby Fair, Call of Duty 4 contest and the N64 Championship!

There were also numerous raffles: Video Game Wizards raffled off a new Nintendo Wii, Josh a Dreamcast kiosk and Deepend Gear two new Wii Fit sets for various charities.

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I had to leave before the N64 Championship finished but I was told it was awesome!

Overall the 2008 NWCGE Portland Retro Gaming Expo was an awesome show, well worth the drive from Seattle! A big thanks to Rick, John, Chuck, Toby, Jon and Billy to get this organized!

I can't wait until next year!

August 03, 2008

NWCGE 2K8 Portland Retro Gaming Expo in Full Swing!

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Today is the opening day of the 2008 Portland Retro Gaming Expo at the Holiday Inn Airport hotel. Almost 100 people have showed up so far for the best deals on classic and modern video games, to participate in contests and to win prizes!

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Just to give you an idea of the kind of deals that are happening here:

  • Nice Toploader NES $35
  • PS2 JP Space Invaders Deluxe box $50
  • Genesis Virtual Reality Set in box $25

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I saw tons of Nintendo NES, SNES and SEGA Genesis games and stocked up on some Xbox and Xbox 360 games as well. There were even some Vectrex games for less than half of going Ebay prices!

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On the collector's side booths range from "I cleaned out my basement!" to "Here are all my duplicates!".

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Video Game Wizards, Recycled Gamer, Billy Galaxy and many more professional video game traders showed up as well. In total there are about 20 booths with anything related to classic and current video games.

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On the contest side there are tons of single game contests, the highlight so far was the Atari 2600 Track & Field contest. Very arthritic in nature :)

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Some unique things I saw:

  • Amiga 500 in a giant box
  • SEGA Dreamcast development kit
  • Xbox development kit
  • SEGA Dreamcast display kiosk that's being raffled of
  • PS1 display kiosk
  • Various prototype and lab-loaner carts

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Still happening today:

  • Atari 2600 Championship @ 5:00 PM
  • Showing of the movie HIGH SCORE with the start of the movie, Bill Carlton being present and answering questions!
  • A few more single-game contests

The show goes on tomorrow with N64 contests and more selling and trading as well as more prices and competitions.

For more information check out http://www.retrogamingexpo.com/