Of LAN’s and belt buckles

December 25, 2003 by Tim

So I was flown down to Texas last Sunday for a LAN event in Houston.

First of all I would like to offer a big thank you to Donald Noffsinger for inviting me down there, and to Shaun Mahmood and the guys for organizing it.

They picked me up from the airport at 9pm Sunday night. There were a few of us, so the first thing we decided to do was hit up a LAN cafe and hang out for a bit.

We arrived at this LAN cafe (which shall remain nameless) and jumped onto a few computers. There were some other people there, playing Counter-Strike. We’ll call them Group A and Group B.

So we’re just messing around on these computers for a little while, when suddenly a kid from group A (we’ll call him Skippy) jumps out of his seat and runs up on a kid from Group B (who we shall refer to as Cheesebrick). He starts yelling and doing the whole “what! what!” thing with his chest puffed out. Apparently Cheesebrick had made a comment concerning someone from Group A (“cheap shot”, something to that effect).

So while Skippy is trying to start a fight, Cheesebrick is just sitting calmly like “calm down..”.

Finally after Skippy realized that Cheesebrick was not going to be provoked into a fight, and with the rest of group A trying to diffuse the situation, group A starts to leave. But nope, Skippy was having none of that. He runs back into the place and gives Cheesebrick a nice shove. Cheesebrick was obviously not a fan of this action.

Now would be a good time to point out that Group A actually consisted of about six asians, all of whom appeared to be in pretty decent shape, whereas Group B consisted of Cheesebrick (a big, pasty cookie-dough-looking kid) and another guy. Actually, I’m fairly certain that Cheesebrick’s friend made a mad dash for the door at the first chance he got. Sorry Cheesebrick. No backup for you.

So anyway, now Cheesebrick is pissed, and Skippy is getting all up in his face. They’re bumping chests and giving eachother the evil eye in that same alpha-male ritual we’ve all seen in the high-school cafeteria at one point or another. They start shoving eachother, and finally Skippy starts throwing punches. His friends restrain him.

At this point the employee who was running this LAN cafe comes out of the back room to the tune of “What the fuck!?”. Now here I am thinking that he’s rather pissed about a fight breaking out in his establishment, around all of the expensive equipment, and that he’s about to lay down the law. Oh yeah. He did just that. He runs out and plants a fist front and center into Cheesebrick’s face.

At this point I could no longer contain the goofy grin on my face as I sat there watching all of this. I’m even sure any of them realized we were there.

Someone from Group A continued to restrain Skippy, but he got his hands free and decided it would be a good idea to make a chair airborn. He missed everyone except for a computer and LCD screen display.

It was about this time that we decided it would be a good idea to make our exit.

That was my first night in Texas.

On Monday we woke up and went to breakfast. No sooner had I commented on the apparent lack of Cowboy boots/hats and oversized belt buckles did the Marlboro Man himself walk through the door. I think this guy was even wearing denim socks. Dear god.

We arrived at the LAN about an hour before it was scheduled to start, and the parking lot had already begun to fill up.

It was a decent sized place, with a good set-up. It was right next to HardDrive.com.

So we were hanging out for a little while as people got set up. I got to meet the first of the Ctrl+Alt+Del fans as they arrived, which was cool as always. My friend Xero came and hung out for the day, which was totally cool. He’s really an awesome guy with a lot of talent. He even gave me some original pencils and inks from his comic.

It didn’t take long for people to start gaming. By 1pm or so the lights were off and the entire place was lit by the glow of computer screens and cathode case lights, and the projection screen in the back running Soul Calibur 2 and then later on Dance Dance Revolution.

I was borrowing a computer from HardDrive.com for the event, and it took them a little while to set it up for me. But god DAMN was it a nice computer. The reason they took so long setting it up was because they were installing a brand new Pentium 4 Extreme Edition on top of the latest components. They took all sorts of glorious and expensive speed-stuffs and threw it inside a custom airbrushed aluminum case depicting Thor on the side, hand raised to the sky with lighting streaked across the entire box. I took pictures. It was a thing of beauty.

And boy did it move. When I fired up Unreal Tournament 2003 I was easily getting over 100FPS at max graphics setting, even with six or seven other people on the screen.

A bunch of people were playing Call of Duty so I gave that a try. And was summarily schooled by about four different people. Trust me, if I had been involved, we would have lost that war.

People were playing all sorts of games. Counter-strike, Warcraft 3, UT2003, some people even managed to get Savage running on the LAN. At one point I was playing the Midnight Club 2 demo on cruise mode, and spent a good hour and a half just pushing other vehicles into a big ravine. Much fun was had.

I gave away a few T-Shirts, and I was signing and giving away posters to anyone that wanted one. As I walked around the LAN center, I saw multiple computers with CAD Wallpapers as the desktop image. People were naming the LAN games things like “Chef Brian’s Carrot Craziness” and “Happy Wintereenmas!”. Ctrl+Alt+Del fans are, without a doubt, the coolest people in the world.

And I want to give a very special thank you to everyone that came out to say hi. It really means a lot to me. You guys are one of the biggest reasons that I do this. And the fact that I can make a living off of it (also thanks to you) is a dream come true. I’ll never be rich off of this web comic, but as long as I can live comfortably and continue to entertain you all, I couldn’t be happier. So thank you again and again for your support.

All in all, I had a great time at the LAN. Hopefully I’ll be able to attend more events like this one in the future. And who knows… maybe someday I’ll be able to organize and official Ctrl+Alt+Del LAN event. We’ll see.

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