Friday, March 1, 2013

Groupons, skills, and sickness.

It's been a relatively eventful week here at Casa Albany. That's not to say, however, that it's been a great week, per se. It had its ups and downs. I'll start with some good stuff. 

Owen came by last Friday for dinner and a movie. I was still working on last week's post. Rude of me, but that post took forever!
A few months ago, Kenz purchased a Groupon to an arcade that's right down in Southbank, next to the London Eye and Aquarium. Tourist city. In fact, she purchased two. Altogether, for 37 pounds she got 100 pounds in tokens to this arcade. We'd kinda forgotten about it until last Saturday, when we were figuring out what we wanted to do with the day.

Kenz, mulling around on her computer, exclaimed, "Oh, remember we got that Groupon? Let's go to the arcade!"

Naturally, that didn't take much convincing. We were out the door within ten minutes, hype on the idea of getting to run around, from game to game, with reckless abandon, until our tokens ran out. I think we assumed it would satiate a childhood dream of having a seemingly unlimited amount of tokens in an arcade.

I mean, who do you know that has ever strutted into an arcade and beat a game from start to finish?

Ladies and gentlemen: Kenz and I did that very thing last Saturday.

Kenz collecting the tokens
This arcade is unlike any other one I've visited. It's owned and operated by game manufacturer, Namco, and is three stories of arcade games, ticket-winning games, slot machines, air hockey, bowling, pool tables, leather couches, a bar, restaurant, photo booths, and bumper cars!

There were several games I'd never seen before, like competitive pacman...

...and a yuuuge connect four game.
The game we played, from start to finish, was one we'd encountered a year ago in a different arcade. I can't even remember the name - something like Pirate's Treasure or something - whatever. The last time we played it, Kenz's 'gun' didn't have a full range of motion, so we were stopped short on the first boss battle. When we happened upon this booth, Kenz yipped, "it's that game - we gotta play that game!"

It's likely one of the least interesting plot lines of a video game I've ever encountered. We are either a wife/husband or brother/sister team (I never gleamed the backstory) of treasure hunters, equipped with a set of ultra-unrealistic 'golden guns', following a ship's captain and two crew members into a haunted island to find the unnamed hidden treasure. Our challengers were various sets of ghouls, goblins, krakens, witches, live skeletons, etc.

The characters constantly utter, 'we can get through this because we've got our golden guns!'
Honestly, it's not worth your (or my) time to go into further detail about the game. We poured about half our tokens into this game to get to the final boss battle. And then it happened: we got to the credits screen.

Kenz got bored and wanted to leave the booth, but I assured her she wanted to stay until the end of the credits...

...because I was sure we'd reach immortality!
Part of the Groupon deal was that you'd get most of your tokens in 'arcade tokens', but some of them would be the 'bumper car tokens'. As we milled about in the arcade, we noticed that the line for the bumper cars always seemed to be too long. We weren't trying to wait in some line for bumper cars. At least I wasn't down for that. It'd been a long time since I had driven a bumper car, and I wasn't bringing to my memory, with sufficient force, the potential joy of a bumper car session. Childish, I thought. I know - standing in an arcade, among countless children, having just stayed to the end of the credits of a video game in order to put my initials in, I thought bumper cars were beneath me.

We considered 'gifting' our bumper car tokens to some kids, but one of us (I can't remember who) suggested we at least try one round (we had enough tokens for three).

Entertaining ourselves in line [read: entertaining myself in line]
 It was awesome.

Look at that KenzFace.
What were good intentions quickly turned into greed as we abandoned the idea of sharing our tokens for a second round on the bumper cars. Folks, we didn't even hesitate - we exited the area and walked straight to the back of the line.

As we waited in line, however, we got invested in the round that was happening in front of us. Kenz and I started leaning over the handrails, yelling encouragement at the drivers, calling out their car numbers ("C'mon number two! You can do it!"). People started looking at us, confused, because no one really paid attention to what number bumper car they'd gotten in. We developed story lines and strategies for everyone driving. This guy was trying to get out of the 'match' unharmed, while that other guy was really leaning into his 'bumps'. I tried to declare a winner, but Kenz protested, "there's no winners in bumper cars!"

We noticed that everyone naturally went counter-clockwise once the 'match' began, so we decided that we'd mess with everyone during the second round by going clockwise. We caused consternation.

Afterward, we only had one token left. Looking at each other, we nodded at the same time - we were gonna share a car. It was decided that Kenz would be the driver. My job was to yell and heckle everyone we bumped into. Each of us provided running commentary the entire time, yelling at people, and generally just confirming stereotypes about obnoxious Americans on vacation...

Clockwise again!
Rando photo break:

London loves Bruce Willis. We went to a movie that night and found three movie posters with his (similarly) grimacing face.

To appropriate Samuel Johnson's famous quote, "When a man is tired of butt jokes, he is tired of life."

Some Deptford street art

We got to FaceTime with Mom'n'Tom - they've landed in NZ!

I'm still not impressed with The Shard. It looks unfinished to me.

We've been here for over a year and a half now, and this was the first time I saw ticket inspectors on the bus.
I'll keep this story short and appropriate. It likely doesn't even need to be shared, but what the hey. On Monday, I got food poisoning. Well, I guess, I poisoned myself on Sunday night, but the effects made themselves apparent on Monday morning. I was at the gym, having just finished my workout, when I began...evacuating. Food poisoning is the worst kind of sick. Once I'd recovered enough, I walked the thirty minutes back home and lied down for the rest of the day. Entirely out of commission. Kenz, being much better at keeping her 'in sickness and in health' vows than I, stayed home most of the day, taking care of me. She made broth and forced me to imbibe fluids. She even went out and got some ginger ale. I didn't fully recover until Thursday. She got sick this week, too. It was not good times.

To end on a better note:

Again, several months ago, Kenz booked herself a glassblowing class in Bermondsey (she's good at that planning ahead thing). She offered to book me the class, too, but I declined because I'm a jackass. Her class was Sunday, all day, and she sent me pictures throughout the day. Each one had me a bit more green with envy.

Her first project - simply molding the 'syrup'

She said it was much hotter than she'd expected

She actually had the lung capacity!

The paperweight she made me

She said there were only 4 students in the class and 2 tutors

The vase she made - much better than what we've been using to hold flowers: my old nalgene bottle
She had to leave her pieces at the studio for three days in order for them to cool off (and maybe get fired in a kiln - I can't remember). She finally brought them home yesterday.

"Give it to someone who collects snowmen." "Hell naw - that thing is deformed!"

You can see that the colors change once they've cooled off.

My paperweight!

This is currently holding hard candies on the kitchen table...

When the sun hits this just right, it looks like a goldfish aquarium.
I think I need to book the next class, no?

That's it for this week. Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend!