Monday, July 10, 2000: The plan for today is to meet up with Gen and Mach (from Furrymuck) at noon at a Mongolian barbecue place, then check out Church Street Station.
With the help of the ever-faithful Hertz NeverLost car navigation system, I arrived at the Mongolian barbecue place right at noon to meet Gen and Mach.
They're both intensely cool people! And what's more, they know everyone in the area, so over lunch they gave me a detailed who's who, which I'm afraid mostly ended up lost in my brain somewhere. They invited me along to the Mascot Olympics this Saturday evening -- apparently the costumed mascots from pro sports teams come out to try sports on their own, and it seems like a wonderfully silly thing to see. A whole lot of the local crowd will be there, so I'll get to meet 'em. Very much looking forward to it!
After lunch, we went to the Church Street Station mall. It's a really interesting place, all done up old-fashioned nineteenth-century style.
One of our first stops inside was a small video game arcade. They had some interesting games in there, such as a sit-down Sega Star Wars Pod Racer game I had never known existed... so, as I had my camera out already, I snapped a photo of it, another photo of the first Crazy Taxi arcade cabinet I had ever seen, and a third photo of a Sega Fishing arcade game, complete with rod-and-reel controller.
"Excuse me," said the manager, who suddenly appeared beside me flanked by two of his employees a minute or two later. "Are you taking pictures? We don't allow photographs in here. What are you taking pictures in here for?"
I gave him the truth: that I'm a tourist from California, and a video game enthusiast who was happy to see some games here I hadn't seen in arcades before. As I expected, this was far more than he was interested in hearing, and he cut me off. "We don't allow photos in here without permission."
If you've ever seen the movie Labyrinth, then you know what my reply had to be. "Well, then, may I have permission?" I asked.
This question threw him off guard, and he replied by muttering something about my having to mail my request to the Main Office (tm) as he and his henchmen disappeared around a corner.
Anyhow, I was steamed, so I put away the dollar I was about to spend on the Pod Racer game and left immediately instead. What a stupid rule, and it's not like it was even posted! What am I going to do, steal trade secrets about his precious floor layout?
Our next stop was more interesting, a 'General Store' gone terribly, terribly wrong. "May I take pictures?" I asked the cashier this time. "Yes, as long as you don't try on an expensive piece of clothing and walk out with it." She said this as if it had happened many times before.
There were plenty of other taxidermied animals for sale in that store, but I figured as they'd already been shot once, I would spare them being shot again.
Outside were more shops, but done up in a much less interesting brick scheme.
Much to my surprise and joy, I also found a small 2-4-2 steam locomotive in front of a late nineteenth-century train depot!
Gen and Mach displayed heroic patience while I gawked at it for a few minutes. The loco was in fair condition, and the passenger cars hooked to it hadn't been maintained well, but it was still neat to see it there.
The depot itself had been turned into shops, but it still kept its fun Art Deco shape.
A small bird hanging around the station asked politely to have her picture taken:
As did a rather gawky looking pigeon:
We also stopped by two other stores aside from the mall: one was a small Japanese place which sold J-pop CD's and lots of anime toys and models, the other was a huge place selling all sorts of manga, graphic novels, RPG supplies, science fiction and fantasy toys and models... it's everything that the Sunnyvale store "A Wrinkle In Time" should have been but wasn't. It looks like there's more fan merchandise available here than there is in Silicon Valley!