Right now I’m sitting in a fancy French hotel room in Redwood City, CA. What the hell am I doing here, so far away from my home in NYC? Let me tell you…

In this online journalist biz there are plenty of times where you’ll be offered trips to check out things going on around the world. You know all about the set visits the CHUD boys have gone on, but I’d never been on one myself yet. Not that I didn’t have opportunities to see some movies being shot. Thanks to Creature Corner, I did, but every single time I got offered one they fell through. (WB- you never made it up to me!)

Leave it to EA to give me my first, and probably spoil me forever for these things.

Last Friday EA held a Community Day for Burnout Paradise. Generally for these community days they grab a dozen or so journalists to come and check out their new games, meet the people behind it, and generally just have a great time. They really are hooking us up. First, we’re getting flown here and a hotel room, all on their tab. Tomorrow I’ll be getting together with some other writers to have breakfast, and then head to EA and play Burnout Paradise, a game I already love.
The flight was uneventful, besides a ton of turbulence. I’m not a good flier as it is, but what made me get through it was the fact that the older gentleman sitting next to me (who looked like the love child of Fred Willard and Ricky Gervais) was positively terrified during the flight. I’m talking white knuckle style, grabbing onto anything he possibly could when the plane moved in any little way. I thought he was going to snap his tray table in half. His fear made mine feel silly, and I’d like to thank the guy for getting me through it. Especially since they were showing Elizabeth: The Golden Age. I buried myself in Greg Lamberson’s awesome Johnny Gruesome and nodded off a few times, and soon I was in San Francisco Airport.

The itinerary said I was getting picked up by a limo, which was ridiculous to me, but it ended up being a Lincoln Towncar of some sort. Poor Alex. He only got insanely comfortable leather seats and a couple bottles of water. It was exciting enough to see someone standing there with my name. I had the momentary urge to rush up to him and scream “That’s me! That’s me!” while jumping up and down but thankfully it passed.

It’s only 20 minutes or so from the airport to the Sofitel hotel, and while I tried to soak in as much of the city that I could, the airport isn’t actually located in San Francisco, but right next to it. Redwood City is even further south.

I got to the hotel and was amazed. The Sofitel is a damn fancy place, definitely the most fancy hotel that I’ve ever stayed at.  It’s also very French. Really, it is… everyone there speaks with a French accent, and greeted me with “Bon soir!” After checking in I went upstairs and geeked out over my king size bed for a bit. I’ve only slept in one of these once, on a trip to a Bed and Breakfast with my (then) girlfriend, and I’m not sure what the hell I’m going to do since this time I’m all by my lonesome. There’s a beautiful, massive window that overlooks the city, and since it’s the 8th floor I get a great view. It still didn’t feel real to me that I’m here.

So I went for a walk. I can’t help it, I’m a New Yorker, I like to explore places on my feet. It doesn’t seem like anyone else around here does. I also needed a cigarette like nothing else… damn you, non-smoking room! I grabbed my camera and took some snaps, but I am definitely not a photographer, and they mostly came out horribly.

It was only almost 10:00 PM at night, but the place was deserted. Course, the area of Redwood City is a very strange one. There’s no residential homes to speak of, just gigantic corporate buildings that block out the sky. The hotel must get a ton of business from these offices. There’s also a ton of crap on the sidewalks. I mean that literally, there’s bird poo all over the place. I figured they had geese or something, cause they sure as hell don’t have many trees.

I knew the EA building was nearby, but I wasn’t sure how close, so I just walked and walked, passing big corporate buildings everywhere. But wait… what was that in the distance?

There it was.

After snapping these shots of the EA sign I began to feel like a creepy stalker. I mean, I was lurking in the dark, chainsmoking cigarettes and taking pictures of buildings. All I needed was a fedora, a trenchcoat, and a .38 special, and then I’d be able to star in my own film noir.

I decided to go back.

Getting back to the hotel, I stopped by the plush, loungy hotel bar to grab a drink. I looked around and spotted a few people who looked like they might  be attending the EA event, but how does one go up to people and say “Hey! You guys look like a bunch of dorks. You here to play video games tomorrow?” I kept quiet and nursed a Heineken at the bar. (Alex’s note: This was a good thing, because no one I saw there was actually at the event the next day)

After finishing my beer I went on back up to the hotel, got some writing done with the hotel’s intermittent internet. 10 bucks a day for this? Yikes.

I also fooled around with the TV, which I was amused to see had a friggin’ keyboard on top of it. The free channels showed the kind of people that generally stayed here…

I snuggled down in my bed, turned on Isle of the Dead on my laptop, and soon fell asleep. Tomorrow was going to be a good day.