Hello Open Sauce 2024

FTC Disclosure: Open Sauce, Inc. did not ask me to write this blog post, did not pay me cash for this review, and did not have an opportunity to review or request changes to this piece prior to its publication. However, I did receive material financial incentive to attend Open Sauce 2024 by way of free VIP admission and free lodging. The public retail value of such incentives amounts to a VIP ticket worth US$1,499.00 and a hotel stay worth approximately US$600.00. All other expenses beyond the aforementioned items were self-funded.

 
I’m not really the biggest fan of the San Francisco Bay Area in California (which should be unsurprising to you if you’ve read my blog post about how I got ~US$3,000.00 of stuff burglarized from me the last time I was here), but my friend Billie Rae invited me to attend Open Sauce, a science and tech­nol­o­gy convention taking place at the Cow Palace in Daly City. Billie Rae is a full-time employee at the company that runs the convention, so I de­cid­ed that was enough of a reason to support her work and check it out last week between June 14-16.

I’ve been to a lot of events and conventions of all different kinds over the past decade. I’ve attended as various roles, including an organizer, staff mem­ber, host, tournament competitor, exhibitor, media, broadcast talent, and plain old con-goer. Many conventions and brands have compensated me (or have tried to compensate me) in the past with high-end luxury accommodations worth several thousands of dollars, as well as hefty cash payments.

With all that being said, I can confidently say that Open Sauce 2024 was my favorite convention of all time.

Yes, I understand that people probably think my opinion doesn’t mean much because I got a special invite from my friend who works there. However, long-time readers know that I take my reputation very seriously and would never write an intentionally inflated or exaggerated review just to help out a friend. I have been very honest and transparent about disclosing everything up to this point, and I feel that I am being objective and unbiased with every­thing else in this blog post as well.

 
Open Sauce had a very different feel to it than any other convention I’ve ever been to, which made me enjoy it a lot more; upon some thought, I’ve con­clud­ed that that can be attributed to a handful of factors:

  • It does not feel commercialized.

    Revenue from ticket sales are pretty much never enough to run a large-scale convention. A convention center will have limited space for attendees, and consequently, there will be a limited number of tickets available for sale. If the ticket price is scaled to cover all expenses, it would be pro­hib­i­tive­ly high and cause fewer people to attend, thus reducing revenue. There is a sweet spot of balancing ticket price with attendance, and that sweet spot is usually nowhere close enough to cover expenses associated with venue rental, attractions, experiences, staffing, utilities, equip­ment, dec­o­ra­tions, marketing, etc.

    For this reason, conventions will sell space in their exhibition hall to sponsors, and these sponsors will promote their brand and products at their booth. Every other convention I’ve been to has had its exhibition hall feel like a gigantic three-dimensional billboard of endless advertisements with logos plastered everywhere. Companies furnish their booths with plush carpeting and nice fake walls to attract con-goers and incentivize them to get ex­po­sure to their brand.

    Open Sauce did not feel like this whatsoever. There were four exhibition halls, and all of them looked like massive empty warehouses with no love or care given to their presentation… which fit the convention perfectly, because it made it feel more genuine and authentic. All the focus of Open Sauce was on the science and technology of the cre­a­tions that people brought to the convention. Each booth was run by passionate scientists and inventors, not salespeople. There was nothing fancy in any of the booths—it was just the creator and the creation, and nothing else there to distract you from taking in their work.

    This doesn’t mean there were no sponsors at Open Sauce. However, the sponsors they did have were extremely well-integrated. For example, PCBWay sponsored the admission credentials for the convention, so everyone’s badge was a thin metallic circuit board (as opposed to just a flimsy piece of laminated paper like every other convention does). At their booth, you could finish soldering the connection with a battery and LED and make it light up. Formlabs also appeared to be a sponsor, and they brought high-end 3D printers that people could experiment with and try out. Both of these were directly relevant to the theme of the con­ven­tion and were actual interesting interactive things, as opposed to just ads.

    I diligently went up and down every aisle in all the exhibition halls, and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it. This is the one and only con­ven­tion where I regularly stopped at many booths to try out their activity because of how inherently fun all the creations looked. I heard from a mu­tu­al friend that Michael Reeves (who was also in attendance) calls it a “science fair” instead of a convention, and I think that is a pretty accurate de­scrip­tion.

  • The special guests were pleasant people.

    Due to the nature of my work at Tempo during our prior esports and influencer marketing era, I’m used to interacting with stereotypical content cre­a­tors and broadcasters, especially those related and adjacent to Twitch live streaming. I’m fairly outspoken about my dislike of most of these peo­ple due to how disconnected they are with reality—many of them have a false and egregiously inflated sense of ego and self-importance com­pared to the rest of the world, which manifests in them coming off as extremely vain, arrogant, ignorant, lazy, and irresponsible.

    Open Sauce also had content creators in attendance, but the attitudes of these content cre­a­tors were very different. They all acted like normal people, and they all treated me like a normal person. I have had my fair share of encounters with meeting Twitch streamers during which they acted genuinely insulted that I didn’t already know who they were, but all the content creators at Open Sauce introduced themselves to me with a clear intent to meet new people and make new friends. I imagine there was a fairly thorough vetting process to decide who was and was not invited as a special guest, and this vetting process was well done, because I felt comfortable around everyone who was there.

  • I personally liked how the panels were scheduled.

    Most conventions have many panels scheduled and happening at once, and attendees have to pick which ones they want to go to, oftentimes hav­ing to miss out on some panels they want to watch in lieu of others. Open Sauce seemed to have a fairly limited number of panels, and there were only two places where panels were taking place—the main stage and secondary stage.

    This had two interesting effects. First, the panels that it did have were higher-impact panels that appealed to a broader audience, as opposed to having a lot of more specialized or niche topics. Second, because there were limited options of panels to watch, the audience was naturally bigger for each of the panels. Because the main stage was in a sporting arena and the massive amount of arena seating was used for the panel audience, it actually felt nice enjoying panels together with a large group of people.

    In a similar vein, I think Open Sauce realized that, although some people attend panels to listen to the topic, many of them go just to watch their fa­vor­ite content creators and broadcast personalities speak. I heard that most panelists held small meet-and-greets after speaking, so what the pan­els functionally ended up being was an opportunity for fans to know when and where to find their favorite creator, so they can meet them af­ter­wards.

    I heard that some people didn’t like this format, but I personally think this was a very efficient and practical way to run the schedule.

  • The activities for special guests were fun and relevant.

    When I am invited as a special guest or otherwise receive VIP treatment during conventions, the “exclusive access” usually just ends up being a lounge and a networking party. Although Open Sauce also did that, they further scheduled two fun activities that really stood out to me.

    The first was a visit to “The Cave,” Adam Savage’s workshop. The second was a visit to CrunchLabs, Mark Rober’s facility. Considering that both Adam and Mark are well-known personalities in the science field, being able to see their offices was very meaningful and interesting. I didn’t watch MythBusters when it was on TV, but I do watch all of Mark Rober’s YouTube videos, so I loved being able to see in-person the things he built for his channel.

    In a not identical but still similar vein, I enjoyed the fact that there was a hotel fully booked out exclusively for special guests. At first, the staff por­trayed this as being done for “security” reasons, which made me chuckle—I’m from Las Vegas where even A-list celebrities walk the casino and ho­tel floors alongside everyone else, so the fact that YouTubers would need that level of security was funny to me. However, I realized that having this kind of hotel was a good idea for a different reason.

    What was nice about the booked-out hotel was that everyone knew everyone else there was a science-related or science-adjacent person. In a reg­u­lar hotel, if you saw a stranger, you wouldn’t know if they were there for the same convention as you, or for something else entirely unrelated. How­ever, for Open Sauce, you knew that, if someone was inside that hotel, they were definitely there for Open Sauce. This encouraged people to be much more social and approach and initiate conversation with strangers because they are going into the interaction knowing that they share some degree of interests.

The second and fourth points obviously will not be relevant if you are just a general admission attendee, but for the sake of thoroughly sharing an an­ec­dote of my own experience, I decided to still include them.

 
So, if it wasn’t blatantly clear by now… if you are interested in science and technology and want a fun and high-value convention to attend, I highly rec­om­mend Open Sauce based on my experience that I had this year. The general admission ticket for 2024 was US$200.00, which I think is a very rea­son­a­ble price for a two-day convention that has so much to do that you’ll probably fill both days from open to close with interactive experiences. Their web­site currently shows early bird purchases for 2025 coming soon at US$99.69, which I find to be insanely cheap for what you get.

Below are some photos I took (and some that others took of me) during the convention:

 

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Hello, Grand Central Market in Los Angeles, California

Last week, I joined a group of six friends and acquaintances at Grand Central Market in Los Angeles, California for a food challenge: to eat a dish from every single restaurant at the market.

On initial count, we thought there were 30 spots, so with seven of us total, we would each have to down about four dishes. However, after we got started, we realized we miscounted and the number was somehow closer to 40. We also wanted to go for a more comprehensive degree of challenge completion, so we also got food items from fruit stands and grocery stores in addition to restaurants.

A lot of the food was actually surprisingly good. However, I had a difficult time fully enjoying it because of the mechanics of how food sharing worked. During the “I’ll have what he’s having” fast food challenge, we split up separate food items from the fast food orders and rarely had to split individual entrées. How­ever, for this Grand Central Market challenge, everyone wanted to try a little bit of everything, but because we were only ordering one item per store, people would just dig in with their hands/forks or bite directly into things.

I’m not “anti-mixing-saliva” or anything. In fact, I have a particular optimized system in place when I go to restaurants with my friends that proves this. I’m personally not very picky with what I eat, so I will let my friend pick two dishes she wants to try; we will begin eating, and once she’s had a satisfying portion of the first dish, we will trade plates and finish the other dish.

With that being said, when there are six other people grabbing at and just slobbering all over the food, especially when some of them are not really peo­ple I know that well, it becomes extremely unappetizing for me. For this challenge, we tried to create a priority flow where I would take the first bite of everything so I wouldn’t be grossed out, but near the end of the challenge, it didn’t really work out.

Because of this, I didn’t contribute anywhere close to how much I could have contributed, but we still managed to complete the challenge. Below are some of the nicer photos I managed to capture.

After emerging victorious, we decided to memorialize the day by taking pictures in a photo booth. There were seven of us and three shots, so we split into groups of 2-2-3 and rotated in and out between each shot so all of us would be on the same strip.

My group was with Doug and Billie Rae. I seem incredibly confused in the photo as to why Billie Rae is headbutting me, but I later found out that it was my own fault because, I thought Billie Rae was going to walk in front of me and squeeze in the middle, but in fact, I was supposed to be the one in the middle, so I was blocking her way into the booth.

 

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Hello, Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, California

Yesterday, I was invited to Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, California for a tour by an acquaintance who works as a software engineer in the an­i­ma­tion department of the company. Unfortunately, a lot of it was private so I wasn’t able to take my photographs, but I was able to capture some of the more public areas.

Our tour started in the museum area. I don’t really watch movies or television shows, so a lot of this didn’t really have much meaning to me.

The tour continued outdoors.

These large tan buildings are where movie sets are created and scenes are filmed.

These facilities used to be on-site housing for actors, but now they’re just offices. Apparently that golf cart is manufactured by Cadillac and is owned by someone famous, but I didn’t really recognize the name so I don’t remember whose it is.

Apparently there’s a new Ghostbusters movie coming out. They had the Ghostbusters car parked outside.

We were then led through an outdoor set.

I don’t remember the significance of this building, but there were some awards sitting inside (which I was not permitted to photograph).

After a tour of that campus, I met up with my acquaintance, who had finished working, and we got a tour of her work area. An overwhelming majority of it was confidential, so the only photograph I have of it is this Spider-Man mural.

As part of our tour, there was a photo opportunity where my friend Doug Wreden and I were supposed to stand in front of a green screen and we would be chromakeyed into an episode of Jeopardy. The prompt was to act like we had won, but while I was thinking about how I would react if I won Jeop­ard­y, the photographer already captured the shot.

As someone who is not really a fan of movies, this wasn’t really the best tour for me. Sony also has a music division, and I discovered throughout the tour by way of random posters that some of my favorite artists are signed to Sony Music, but the tour itself focused almost entirely on film and not on music. I am a lot more interested in music than film and television, so if there was a more music-oriented tour, I think I would have enjoyed that a lot more.

The highlight of my visit was, by sheer luck and coincidence because that was just the walking route we happened to take, overhearing Olivia Rodrigo in one of those tan buildings rehearsing for her performance at Coachella 2024. My second favorite part of the visit was eating a free Rice Krispy Treat. I think that might put into perspective how disinterested I am in movies and movie stars.

With that being said, if you are a big movie nut, this could potentially be a good tour for you to take. You don’t need a special invitation to go on it like I did—apparently you can just go on Sony’s website and purchase tickets (at least for the first portion on the main campus, though it wouldn’t grant access to the animations building). If you like celebrities, you might even see some famous people during the tour.

 

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Hello Shufflemania

For the past handful of months, my friend Doug Wreden has been working on putting on an event called Shufflemania, a game show where participants compete in games that are rotating across multiple different save states.

For example, if the players are in a round of Tetris, there would be five different games of Tetris happening all at once, and the “shuffler” would switch among the five different games of Tetris in a random order and in random time intervals. The challenge is to keep track of all the games at once, while also making crisp inputs so that button presses are not carried over to the wrong copy of the game.

There were several days of in-studio preparation and rehearsal for the event, and I joined Doug for the final rehearsal before the show. I hadn’t seen the build process, so I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived, and the set was a lot nicer than I was originally expecting.

I also went to visit on show day.

There was a professional photographer on-site so I usually don’t bother taking regular event pictures, considering I would never be able to keep up with their skill and equipment and the quality of their photographs. However, if you’ve been a long-time reader of my blog, you probably know that I do like snapping shots from a behind-the-scenes perspective to help people immerse themselves and see what it would be like had they been there working the event—shots that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to see from the live broadcast or a well-polished set of professional photographs.

If you know me, you might know that I very rarely show up to an event unless I have some sort of active role in it. Luckily, the people there didn’t know me too well.

There was a very small live studio audience composed of some close friends of the on-screen talent, so I just sat with them, had some snacks, drank some Red Bull, and pretended like I was also just a regular spectator. However, we had a surprise in store for everyone.

The show was obviously marketed as Shufflemania, with the allure of the concept being the game shuffler. The “reveal” was supposed to be that the shuf­fler wasn’t actually an artificial intelligence model, but instead, was Jeremy Elbertson, professionally known as Jerma985, “hiding” in the computer sys­tem the entire time. Considering how advanced the shuffler was during the show and how well it interacted with players, it was blatantly obvious that it was a real person running it—and the players already knew this going into the event.

What the players didn’t know was that there was an actual real reveal planned. After the winners of Shufflemania were announced, it was disclosed that the event wasn’t actually about gaming or the shuffler, but instead, it was designed to find tennis partners for Doug and Jerma. That obviously made ab­so­lute­ly no sense and was so far-fetched that nobody believed it, but then Doug said they were playing tennis, right then and there, and led everyone outdoors.

In the chaos of the shuffler reveal and Jerma popping out of the box, I had quietly exited the studio, put on my referee jersey, grabbed the championship trophy, and went outside to wait for the real reveal. In utter bewilderment, the players navigated their way outside where we had a literal tennis court set up. I was standing by the net to explain the rules in my iconic dry and matter-of-fact manner, mixing in an arrogant implied undertone of “this is tennis, what else were you expecting?”

I was very pleased watching the players’ reactions, because it was very clear that we did a great job at hiding the plot twist. There was a nice mixture of people who were confused, people who were appalled that we committed to a gag so hard, and one person who exclaimed “Parkzer, you were in on this?”

I opened the segment by laying a foundation for the gameplay and then ordering Ludwig Ahgren to quiet down and maintain his composure because we need to uphold a level of professionalism. From there, I did a coin flip to determine who would serve first, chucked the coin far behind me, then declared that it landed heads-up even though it was blatantly obvious that the result of the coin flip was impossible to see unless you had binoculars. I then called for the match to begin and climbed up on my referee chair two and a half meters up in the air.

Throughout the match, Doug kept repeating phrases like “haven’t you ever played tennis before?” and “why did we even do this then?” to continue push­ing the idea that Shufflemania was all about tennis the entire time, not about the video games. Doug, Jerma, and I continued emphasizing how seriously every­one needed to take tennis, and at one point, I proceeded to ignore a point that Ludwig had scored, and then on top of that, also issued a one-point penalty for “improper use of verbal correspondence” after a small outburst from him.

Eventually, Doug and Jerma won, so I descended from my referee chair with the trophy and awarded it to them.

The more you think about this, the more ridiculous it gets. For example, tennis referees don’t even wear jerseys, they wear suits; the jersey top I was wear­ing was a basketball referee jersey. Tennis referees also don’t use whistles, they just talk into a microphone. We were hardly even following the rules of tennis, and I wasn’t using the proper tennis scoring system.

On top of that, Doug and Jerma, the hosts of the show, technically won their own event by winning the game of tennis.

I think the show turned out great. I’m personally not really into streamer and influencer culture, so this genre isn’t something that I would usually watch on my own, but the way Doug executed on his creative ideas was unique and compelling.

The role I played of the very serious and “normal” person—just exaggerating how different real life is from the Twitch and YouTube bubble—fit me perfectly. And of course, considering my recurring appearances in Doug’s videos and live streams, it was a nice touch to see chat excitedly spamming “PARKZER” once the camera eventually got close enough to me for people to realize I was the referee.

If you haven’t watched the show, I recommend checking it out on Doug’s YouTube channel—if not for the entire event, then at least for the silly reveal at the end.

 

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Hello, Bubble World Los Angeles in Montebello, California

On the same day that I went to Dinos Alive, I also went to Bubble World Los Angeles, which is in the same building—the Los Angeles Exhibition Hub in Montebello, California. Bubble World was actually the main reason we went to the Exhibition Hub at all, but I had such a positive experience here that I figured I would save the best for last on my blog so it would have the most prime real estate at the top before I go on my next chain of adventures.

Bubble World is an interesting place. It’s difficult to describe succinctly apart from just calling it an interactive art experience.

I’m not sure if you even noticed because I am so good at blending in with the arches, but believe it or not, I am actually in this next photograph:

Down the hall and to the right was the balloon room. This was a dimly lit room with extra large white balloons that looked like they were color-shifting because of the lighting. There were fans on one side keeping the balloons contained, and they would regularly pile as tall as the average person’s chest at the highest points. This was deceptively difficult to navigate through without popping the balloons (and we did come across a kid who was a bit too rough and caused one to burst).

After escaping the balloons, we were led to a mirror room with a light show.

The next major interactive area was a huge ball pit.

Partway through the experience was a wall with the “Bubble World” logo printed on it, and I figured it would make sense to take a photo in front of the sign that shows where I am.

On the way to the next area was a small bridge with a net full of balloons and a 360° screen on all four walls and the floor.

Next up were the sets. There were various little rooms set up and decorated in unique ways so people could take photos.

One of the final areas of Bubble World was a light show room. There were thousands upon thousands of light-up orbs hanging in columns from the ceil­ing, and a tiny path was left vacant so people could walk through and get a 360° light show experience.

The photo below was captured at the perfect moment when most of the bulbs were illuminated white, but these would all turn on and off in a pattern and change colors in a way that was not only mesmerizing but also created a kind of depth-warping optical illusion.

Right before the exit and gift shop, there was a station where you could stand on a platform and pull a string to raise what is the equivalent of just the circular part of a bubble wand a­round your body to encase yourself in a huge bubble. Unfortunately, it was a lot trickier than it seemed, and instead of wrapping myself in a huge bubble, I just got soap all over my hands and pants.

There isn’t actually anything to truly do while in Bubble World except for just look at things, but the things to look at are very unique, interesting, and visually appealing. If you consider this to be comparable to an art museum, Bubble World is actually great—instead of just staring at art pieces hung up on walls that are externally deemed to be expensive and arbitrarily assigned value, Bubble World lets you immerse yourself and be a part of the art.

I also enjoyed the fact that this functionally ended up like a selfie museum, but didn’t feel like it. Selfie museums tend to cater specifically towards people who want interesting photos to post on Instagram, and their sets are designed solely for photo op­por­tu­ni­ties. On the contrary, I liked that Bubble World focused more on creating in­ter­est­ing exhibits and con­forming to a theme, but still achieved that same objective—i.e., peo­ple take photos here be­cause they think “this is cool,” not necessarily be­cause “I am sup­posed to take a photo here.”

We paid $36.90 per person for general admission without any premium add-ons, and it took a little bit over an hour to get through everything. That is a little bit pricey compared to other places I’ve been, but probably not too bad considering that it’s in Los Angeles.

On that note, it might be useful to point out that it’s in Los Angeles County and not the City of Los Angeles. The Exhibition Hub is set up at the site of an old Costco, and it’s about ten miles east of downtown Los Angeles. In my opinion, that makes it better—there’s plenty of parking, there’s much less con­gestion getting there, and the ticket prices aren’t hyperinflated to account for downtown city expenses. With that being said, if you’re visiting LA and pri­ma­ri­ly staying downtown, you’ll need some form of vehicular transportation if you want to visit the Exhibition Hub.

Although I probably wouldn’t personally visit again, I did enjoy my experience and would recommend checking out if your circumstances align with what Bubble World offers. I also like the fact that I now have a lot of photos for the people who ask me why I only ever post pictures of stuff around me, and not of myself.

 

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To Megan: A recap of the DougDoug claw machine plushie crusade

Hello, Megan. Thank you for your contribution to this year’s Monterey Bay Aquarium charity event, and congratulations on being a raffle winner. Your prize, as you probably already heard from Doug’s administrative assistant, is the spoils from Doug spending US$100.00 on arcade claw machines. They are now in the mail and should be arriving on your doorstep in a few days.

I guess the plushies are great if you really like plushies, but I wanted to try and make this a bit more special for you than just receiving a bunch of generic arcade machine plushies that you could’ve easily bought yourself online from a wholesaler for less than $5 each. So, fighting through my ha­tred of claw machines, I joined Doug anyway at Round1 Bowling & Amusement so I can tell you a story in photos.

Doug went into this with great confidence. He said that, with a hundred dollars, he can usually win anywhere from six to eight plushies in an average run.

Although arcade games are overwhelmingly games of chance, there is still technically a skill element to claw machines as well—any amount of good luck on the strength roll of the claw isn’t going to help you if you plop it down on the wrong spot. Doug has built up some solid competency in consistently drop­ping the claw in an optimal position.

Unfortunately, the first few machines didn’t go too well. He started out with some traditional tri-prong machines, but he just wasn’t getting lucky—the claw would be too weak to pick up the plushie at all, or it would be strong enough to lift it but not quite strong enough to retain the plushie while it moved to the reward chute.

Eventually, he went over to a bi-prong machine where he had to pick up and drop a box into the chute to win the prize. Unfortunately, the box was seated squarely in the center of metal bars and the spacing between the bars was wide enough that it would mitigate any amount of vertical motion, i.e., when the box was picked up, it would tilt and the edge would get caught in one of the gaps, then fall right back down atop the bars.

Doug spent a lot of time trying to win this particular machine, and after looking back at the photos, I’m guessing it’s because the prize was an otter plushie. Unfortunately, he did not succeed and he moved onto another machine.

The next attempt was on a machine where a dinosaur plushie was tied with string to the control arm and you had to swing it around to knock over all six boxes to win a prize. On Doug’s first attempt, he managed to hit one of the boxes at such a perfect angle that it rotated 90°, remained upright, lodged in between two other boxes, and created an unmovable pillar that functionally made the entire game unwinnable.

If Doug was hired as a municipal architect, the city of Los Angeles would become immune to earthquakes and we would never see a collapsed building ever again.

We were still at a grand total of zero prizes at this point, so Doug took a different approach—he picked out a game where, eventually, you have to win at some point. This was a game of scooping ping pong balls into cups, and with enough card swipes and enough tries, you would ultimately get a prize.

After an unsettling number of ping pong balls falling out prematurely from the claw or missing the plastic cups entirely, Doug finally accrued the re­quired six points and earned his first plushie.

Next up was another “you will eventually win” kind of machine—this was a single-prong claw that you use to push the prize off the platform, and as long as you land your drops properly, you are guaranteed a little bit of motion on the plushie every time. After three swipes of his arcade card, Doug emerged victorious with plushie number two.

“Parkzer, stop deflowering Megan’s plushie.” —Doug

With the final remaining play credits on his arcade card, Doug tried to win a panda, and even though his claw drops were on point, luck wasn’t with him and he could not secure any more prizes.

Doug felt so badly about his insufferable performance that he went to the prize redemption area and cashed in some of his reward tickets from prior Round1 visits to purchase a Pikachu plushie. In addition, our friend Dani, who also joined us at the arcade, donated the two plushies that she won as well—a penguin in a carrot costume and a penguin in a shrimp tempura costume.

Five plushies were still less than Doug was hoping for, but definitely better than just two. He signed them, packaged them all in a cardboard box, and shipped them to Azerbaijan.

Just kidding, we didn’t ship them to Azerbaijan; they were sent to your actual address. But I’m guessing you would not be particularly fond of me pub­lishing your location on my (very public) website.

And thus concludes our odyssey of war and plunder.

 

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