Wednesday, July 9, 2014

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

We were in Texas because the kids wanted to go to RTX.

Alan, Kate and Max outside the Austin
Convention Center, which as the sign says,
is the site for RTX.
RTX is the Rooster Teeth Expo. And let me start by saying I'm way too old and uncool to understand Rooster Teeth. Shouldn't even be talking about it. 

I've been to a Comicon and now I've been to RTX, and the one thing that leaped out at me in Austin was how much younger the latter was. At Comicon there were everything from tweenagers to old Trekkies in wheelchairs, everything from Star Wars to Walking Dead, Dr. Who and Matt Smith to Pam Grier (I can't remember what she was there promoting, but I thought it was cool. She looked good.) and lots and lots of people I'd never heard of. 

RTX was much more focused on gaming and online and anime. Everyone was young and hip. I am old not as young and have a sore hip.
Kate meets Burnie Burns, one of the Rooster Teeth
founders. Her life is now complete.
Rooster Teeth is an Austin production studio that does online live action and animated shorts. They had a huge hit with Red v. Blue (or the other way around) and RWBY, which is pronounced Ruby, and a lot of game stuff. They have crowd-sourced pledges for more than $2.5 million to do their own full length movie. On youtube they've got more than 7 million subscribers and more than 3 billion views. I give these guys huge credit, they saw something they wanted to do and made it happen, created an industry in their hometown. At RTX, they were gods.

Kate is a huge fan, Max is a big fan. Millie gave Kate a weekend pass for the convention as a birthday present. So we were off. Tori and I were along for the ride – literally, since we drove. It was my first real vacation in about seven years.

Thursday, we drove to Houston (a six hour drive,) stopped and saw our friends from St. Croix, the Lopez family. Their three kids (three of the nicest, smartest kids you'll ever meet) were also going. We stopped there for dinner, then went on to San Antonio where we spent the night at the home of another St. Croix family, the Jean Pierres (that's their last name, two words. They're Canadian.) Their son Alan is Millie's age and someone who has sort of been part of our family since 2008. He came with us. They live out in the boonies, we didn't get there until about 1:30 a.m.

The Texas state capitol. Very nice as state
capitols go.
RTX started at 9 a.m. Friday (the Fourth of July? Didn't seem to hurt attendance) and Kate wanted to be sure to be there for a panel that started around 11, so we left San Antonio around 8:30. Two hour drive. Dropped the kids off, went down to the hotel, checked in and fell asleep for a while. Later we toured the capital, because it was there and pretty impressive. Say what you will about Texans, they know how to build a capitol.

Meanwhile, the Lopi (our collective name for the Lopez family) did much the same. 

Tori and the giant cupcake guy. He's apparently
a character of some kind in a game or something.

Saturday was the same. Dropped the kids off (Kate was quivering with excitement the whole time.) They got autographs and pictures and T-shirts and posters and all the usual stuff. They went to panel discussions and just generally geeked out. Tori and I spent most of the day poolside or in the fitness room. I also work weekends, but because the hotel has free wifi, no problem. (My only complaint with the hotel – They have a scale in the fitness room and it's WAY off. Not even close to what I'm sure my weight really is. I don't actually kn ow, but I'm positive it couldn't be THAT! 'Nuff said.)

Austin is really nice. Not only is it far and away my favorite city in Texas, it's pretty much the only Texas city I like. And it's very, very easy to get around in. As opposed to Houston, which deserves its reputation as commuting hell. It literally is surrounded by rings of freeway, the many rings of the inferno.

Sunday was a little trickier, since checkout time was noon and the convention ran until 6. But it worked out. Tori and I spent some time visiting the University of Texas campus. The football stadium is terrifyingly huge. You could easily put the entire population of the U.S. Virgin Islands in there. Also saw the clock tower, from which back in 1966 Charles Whitman shot 48 people, 16 fatally. So there was that.

John and Tori behave inappropriately on
the set of theRooster Teeth podcast.
Our kids were horrified! Yay!
The Lopi were leaving Austin at 4, so Tori and I borrowed a couple of their kids' passes and went in to see the last couple of hours. It was winding down, energy was lower, but you could still get the flavor of the thing. I was clearly the oldest person there and it wasn't even close, I was easily more than twice the average age. We went through the main hall and saw the "museum" of Rooster Teeth artifacts. Tori and I took many inappropriate pictures. And touched things clearly labeled "Do Not Touch" and talked to people much to cool for us to talk to. Anything to distress the children. Otherwise what's the point of HAVING children?

Tori, Monty and Alex.
We saw a line forming, so we got in it. Turned out it was to get photos taken with Monty. Monty is an anime artist, I guess he draws RWBY, a young Japanese guy with longish bright blond hair. And he's another star. Now, I should have mentioned that Tori brought Alex. Her ashes are in a small box that Tori carried in her purse. She just thought Alex would would have enjoyed the convention so she brought her for the road trip. When we got to the front of the line, she asked Monty to sign the box. Which he did, and was very kind about the whole thing. I took the picture. It was kind of nice.

Anyway, RTX was fun and the kids had a great time. But you know how it is. No matter how nice the trip, sooner or later, you just want to be in your own space again.

Ricardo Lopez with the cupcake guy.
We left Austin around 6:30 or 7 Sunday and drove back to San Antonio. Stopped at a Texas institution – Whataburger. It's supposed to be so good it makes you say, "What a burger!" And you know what? We did. It really was about the best fast food hamburger I've ever had. A tossup between Whataburger, and Burgerville USA in the northwest. No contest between those two and the usual chains.

I had to work Sunday night, so when we got back to Alan's I put my hours, then went to sleep around 2 a.m. We left the next morning around 10:30, got back to Houston and spent the afternoon there with the ever pleasant Lopi so as not to drive through the heat of the afternoon. I napped, then we left Houston in the evening and drove all night until we got home about 4:30.

So that was our trip. Next week another couple from St. Croix are going to be visiting NOLA, so we'll see them (they moved to Alberta, almost the exact opposite of the islands) and we have to run to Kentucky end of the month. Then it's time for Max to head back to school.