Monday, July 17, 2006

Just Hand Me a Broom and I'll Start Sweeping the Stables

I rented NCAA 2007 at Blockbuster on Saturday afternoon.

The end of the story, though, is the least interesting part.

You're already aware of the three million car pile-up on Interstate 35 Thursday morning that prevented me from driving to Waco (90 miles away) to get the game. It was the only time in recorded history (that I can remember) that the Interstate was totally shut down in one direction for over five hours.

Here's what DQ reader Dennis e-mailed me:
You know, you CAUSED that wreck.

That was certainly a working theory.

Then, Austin DQ reader JT e-mailed and said he was driving to Waco to get the game. And he did, just in time to have them pull it from the shelves thirty minutes before he got there.

I have no doubt in my mind that if he hadn't e-mailed me, he would have been able to purchase the game with no problem.

So I resigned myself to waiting until Tuesday. Until Friday night, anyway. That's when, after seeing a post on the OS forums that someone had purchased the game at a South Austin Wal-Mart, I decided that since it was 10 p.m. and I should be going to bed, it was the perfect time to drive across town and buy a stupid video game.

Only a twenty-minute drive that time of night, if you know which access road goes to the store. Which I didn't.

I finally got there and they are selling the game--selling it so well, in fact, that the 360 version is sold out. As Eli 4.11 would say--touche.

If you're wondering why I so desperately want to play a game that I slag two years out of three, I can't answer that question, except to say that I love football and the NCAA series has been EA's "best" team-based franchise. And forum posts that breathlessly talk about people getting the game early have a cumulative effect on my desire.

On the way back from my futile Wal-Mart trip, I decided to (cue ominous organ music) take the Interstate. Come on, it was 10:30 on Friday night--no traffic jams.

Except, of course, that I was there.

Stopped dead. Again. Gloria calls me on my cell phone and I chat for a while because it's not like I'm driving or anything. Then we start crawling along and I narrate what I'm seeing: "I see police cars--four of them--lights flashing--I see foam--lots and lots of foam--like insulation--still getting closer--more foam--and there's a mattress husk--a mattress has exploded--and there's a car that's wrecked--the car has wire wrapped around it's back-right tire--I think it's the springs from the mattress--I'm glad you're not a mattress because this would all be too horrible for you to hear."

Gridlock. Foam. Exploding mattresses. Cars confounded by bedsprings. If circus monkeys had jumped on my car and demanded bananas as a toll, I wouldn't have been surprised.

I finally got home at 11:30, and all in all, it was a really satisfying trip. Except, of course, for the trip itself, which was a disaster.

Hello, Saturday.

There was no way I was going anywhere to look for the game today. I'm out. I figured if I kept doing this I'd eventually be causing actual fatalities. Then, of course, someone posts that a Blockbuster in Round Rock is renting the game, and we only have twenty-four in Austin and the surrounding areas, and damned if I don't start calling them. And a Blockbuster ten minutes away from my house is renting the game.

In car. Driving. Waiting for four spontaneous blowouts. Keeping an eye peeled for snipers. I call JT to let him know, since he lives in Round Rock and this Blockbuster is roughly halfway between us. He says he's in.

The area around the Blockbuster is choking with traffic. It's unbelievable. I finally get into the parking lot, go into the store, and don't see the game anywhere on the shelves.

Obviously, I expect this.

What I don't expect is that the lady actually does have the game behind the counter, and as I'm renting a copy JT walks in and we actually meet in person for the first time (really nice guy). I leave the store with the rental case firmly in hand.

Don't get overconfident.

Halfway home, my cell phone rings and it's JT. "Hey, check inside the case," he says. "They found a disc in the wrong case." So I do, and much to no one's surprise--it's the Xbox version.

Back to the store. At least they do have the 360 version, and the disc gets swapped out. I drive home, I see no fatalities or pileups or snipers. That doesn't mean they weren't there, but I didn't see them.

I pop the disc into the 360, expecting the console to spontaneously combust, and when I see the title screen, it officially ends fifty-five hours of madness.

Impressions tomorrow.

Site Meter