Back in black

Last weekend I returned to Purdue for the big annual Ship of Fools / Andy Ober Orchestra show that Saturday.

Getting in to West Lafayette Saturday morning was mostly uneventful. The only thing worth noting is that apparently Indiana has diverted funds from road maintenance to violating the establishment clause on their license plates. Seriously, Indiana, World War I-era France called; they want their crater-pocked wastelands back.

Anyway, Ryan and Tripod graciously let me crash at their apartment as they did last time I had been town over a year prior. As it turned out, it was the very same apartment, a fact I somehow failed to realize until Ryan pointed out where I should park my rental car.

After unloading my bags, Ryan and Tripod set about seeing how many other Fools they could round up for lunch, during which I discovered that Tripod had become Ryan’s wacky sidekick, the Pinky to Ryan’s Brain. The efforts proved largely in vain, but we did manage to pick up Beard for lunch at the local Cracker Barrel.

After lunch, Ryan, Tripod, and I returned to their apartment and played video games for several hours with other roommate Alex and some other people. First up was Brawl, which plays a lot like Melee, especially if you’re using a Gamecube controller. Fun fact: with the exceptions of PK Flash and his physical weapons, none of Ness’s abilities are ones he actually has in EarthBound. Also, why Nintendo made Lucas a playable character when they clearly have no intention of releasing Mother 3 here, I have no idea. But at least Mr. Game & Watch’s Final Smash transformation into a giant octopus only had a characteristic two frames of animation, or things could’ve gotten ugly.

The apartment also had a MAME cabinet in the kitchen, so we started playing random games until starting a two-player game of Tetris, in which I utterly demolished all challengers. The key to victory is having grown up on an old DOS Tetris game that only had one rotate button, so I was unfazed by the arcade version’s inability to rotate in both directions. (Also, back in those days, I’d disable the piece preview, since the game would award more points for that. That’s hardcore.)

Having played video games for several hours, it was time to head on over to Matthews Hall and set up for the show. Apparently, some time after I graduated, the university decided to replace the audio controls for the room with some kind of telepathic interface, not realizing that telepathy is bunk. Or at least, that’s the only explanation I can come up with for the utter lack of any apparent non-fictional audio controls anywhere. Or maybe they took them out to make room for yet another redundant set of light switches.

Eventually it was time for the show to get under way. The Fools’ set went quite well, though the audience was kind of reluctant to volunteer to come up on stage. I ended up getting volunteered to be the audience participant in Chain Murder Mystery when nobody else did, which was fine by me. I mean, the only reason I didn’t volunteer in the first place was so as not to be an obvious ringer, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. Whenever a YouTube-able form of the video becomes available, you’ll be the, let’s say, sixth to know. (Keep in mind how long I waited before putting this up, after all.)

The AOO’s subsequent performance was as good as I anticipated. The audience did continue to seem a bit lethargic, though. I wonder how much overlap these shows have in terms of audience from one year to the next, and if that has something to do with it. I’m not saying that All Of Their Music Sounds The Same, but I did notice that their new songs got a bigger reaction than anything else. (Also, I’m not sayin’ that Scorpion is the new bin Laden, I’m just sayin’.)

Also, for the record, I’m not bitter that AOO broke my old-as-dirt MP3 player, in that I tried to bootleg the performance with its record function, and at some point it locked up hard until the battery ran out, and won’t even recharge any more, let alone turn on. I was kind of looking for a new one anyway, and now I guess I’m all the more motivated to get on with it.

But I’ve still got to give it up to Andy Ober, without whose music I would never had been able to remember that π is about 3.141592653589793238462643383279502884197169399375105820974944. (Getting all the way to the Feynman point is a bit trickier.)

After the show, we formed a throng of people and crammed ourselves into Kyle’s apartment for the afterparty. Therein I learned two critical facts. First, Jamie, possibly the Fools’ biggest fan, is my willing lackey, the The Cheat to my Strong Bad. For those of you without lackeys, they are useful for tasks such as lending you their iPhone for deleting blog spam and explaining complex mathematics in terms of pie. However, they are not so good for remembering to tell you their blog’s new URL, hint hint.

Second, the powers that be have seriously dumbed down Uno by removing any traces of English from the cards, leaving even seasoned Uno players baffled as they try to interpret mysterious glyphs such as how “circle with a slash through it” is supposed to mean “skip”. It’s not as though Uno ever required deep linguistic skill, but is basic literacy really too high a bar to set? What next?

Finally, the Fools’ set at Relay for Life came, despite being delayed from 2 am to 3 am. This time I performed with them as a proper Fool, with adequate results despite not having done any improv since graduation. The show went ok considering the venue (which at least this time was indoors, so shivering was kept to a minimum), and the lack of good acoustics didn’t help much either. But the show is something of a tradition, and besides, it’s not like any of us like cancer. (And don’t think you’re getting off easy, capricorn; once we beat cancer, you’re next.)

By the time it was all over and we got back to Ryan’s and Tripod’s apartment, it was already approaching 4:30 am. Sleep == good.

In the, um, “morning”, John introduced me to Portal, a game which I would be all over right now if not for not having a platform to run it on. I managed to get up through the first (?) level where you face the adorable little gun turrets. In retrospect, my strategy of opening portals above them from which to drop weighted storage cubes was not necessarily the most efficient way to knock them over, but it was the most fun. I learned that dropping corncob pipes on them is not nearly as effective. Also, the little buggers are bulletproof. So much for my brilliant plan to position one between myself and another turret. The force of the gunfire didn’t even knock it over, since it was too close to a window (also bulletproof), keeping it propped up. Sigh.

Early in the afternoon a bunch of us headed en masse across town to the IHOP for lunch, whereat the service took entirely too long, especially given how the area we were seated in empied out shortly after we arrived. In hindsight, having driven over myself would’ve been a much better idea, since the highway was right there but I need to go back to the apartment afterwards to get the car, and time was getting to be a factor. Nevertheless, I did make it to the airport with a little time to spare, despite fate conspiring against me in the end (No paper in the receipt printer at the gas pump! Seeing the shuttle from the car rental to the airport pull away as I parked! Long security line!)

It’s a shame finances and geography prevent me from making the trip out there to see everyone again more frequently, but what little time I did have out there was great. It’s also wonderful to see the Fools still going strong long after all the first-generation members have left.

Huzzah!

5 Responses

  1. What an engrossing write up.
    It was great seeing you, Paul, and hopefully we will lay eyes upon your visage again, eer too long.
    Thanks for performing with us.
    Huzzah!

    PS Out of lethargy on his part, I beat Jaime to first post. Yipee. Yahoo.

  2. Always a pleasure to see you Paul. And speaking of sight related pleasantries, have you uh, have you seen The Duck?

  3. I haven’t seen The Duck in forever. I think he might’ve flown the coop.

  4. Thanks again Paul, for coming to see us. It was a pleasure to have you stay with us.

    Also, I’m flattered to be the Brain to Tripod’s Pinky. For the record, I resist being labeled as “demolished” at Tetris, and I’ve always played with a one direction rotation and no piece preview.

    I thought you did a great job at Relay, and even onstage at the AOO show. Glad there was no major transportation problems/delay.

    “It’s also wonderful to see the Fools still going strong long after all the first-generation members have left.” This in particular made me feel good.

  5. Yeah, that Jaime fellow is lazy.

    But I beat you in the latest round of Kuliniboxing Ryan.
    Also, my rarely updated blog address can be found in that post.

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