That Time I Went to New Jersey

I’ve been blogging for over twenty years now, and over those two decades, my website’s focus has definitely changed. Or, narrowed, at least. I used to write up long, fun articles about whatever I found inspiration in. Now, I mostly just list video games that I’ve played and occasionally fart out some ramblings about movies or donuts.

One of my favourite things I’ve ever written was the 6-part summary of the trip that my family took to Walt Disney World in the spring of 2004. It was an incredible adventure, and being able to read it over and over again brings me so much joy. Especially since it’s so long ago now that the memories are starting to fade. So it strikes me as odd that I haven’t written a single word about the trip that I took to New Jersey and New York last year. Super weird, right?

Welp, it’s time to correct that. Now, you will get the chance to read all the grimy details of the first real vacation I’ve taken since… Minneapolis 2012, I guess? Now I’m wondering if I wrote anything about that one.

Our adventure actually begins in December of 2021, when I was writing my 24 Days of Gluttony feature. One of the entries was about BAND-MAID, one of my all-time favourite bands, and how I felt as though I’d never get an opportunity to see them live. As luck would have it, only a couple of months later, they announced a US tour! That alone wasn’t especially helpful to me, being a Canadian citizen. But then I said to myself “Ryan, nobody is going to make your dreams come true but you!” and as soon as tickets went on sale, I secured a couple to the BAND-MAID show in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Now the trick was figuring out who would want to go with me. I have a handful of people that I know will tag along to local concerts, but asking someone to spend a long weekend and a cubic buttload of money to go see a band they’ve never heard of is a huge ask. It took a couple months before a flash of inspiration hit: I’d convince my brothers to all come along with me as a cool adventure that we could all go on together. To make a long story short: only two of three were able to come, which isn’t the worst turnout. It would still be a great little vacation!

Now, I’ve never planned a real trip before (only short road trips), so I had a lot of anxiety when it came time to booking flights and a hotel and creating an itinerary. It was a pretty daunting task, but apparently I did a pretty great job, because everything went exactly according to plan. Well, aside from the fact that I’d initially rented a car, but was quickly convinced to cancel it and just Uber everywhere. That turned out to be very sage advice, because I think that I likely would have had an emotional breakdown trying to drive on the New Jersey turnpike. I’m a perfectly competent driver, but only in small-scale traffic. The roads down there were like nothing I’d ever seen!

Actually, I made another mistake at the very outset of the trip that could have very well tanked the whole thing. Apparently, you need a very specific proof of COVID vaccination app to get on an airplane these days, and I had the wrong one. Also, I didn’t have the documents needed to register on said app on me at the time, so it was only through an extremely fortunate series of coincidences that I was able to get that all squared away in time to board the plane.

Other than that little snafu, though? It was all smooth like buttah. The screening line to get into the airport proper was insanely long and slow, but we had showed up plenty early so it wasn’t a problem. Getting on a plane for the first time in roughly 18 years was incredibly exciting, and I have to say that my appreciation for air travel is just as strong as it was all those many years ago. Flying was great fun, even though much of it came down to the distractions that I’d brought with me (several books and a Nintendo Switch). Takeoffs, landings, being above the clouds, looking down on the world below; I just can’t get enough of the romance of it all. Admittedly, I don’t think I’d enjoy a flight that lasts longer than a couple of hours quite as much, and since I fly so rarely the experience is that much more special, but still, it was great!

Our first layover in Montreal airport wasn’t terribly exciting. We had a ton of time to kill, but failed to realize that all the most interesting shops and restaurants were before we went through the customs line. So we had to settle for a comparatively small selection of food vendors for snacks. I did end up getting a really good (but insanely overpriced) sandwich, so it could have been worse.

The second flight was even more impressive than the first, as we flew over the Catskill Mountains, which was an incredible sight to behold. I quite honestly wanted to jump out the airplane, parachute down into the middle of all the golden trees, and start exploring. That’s not very realistic, of course, but that’s what putting like 300 hours into The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will do to a person.

Many hours later, we landed in Newark Liberty International Airport. We were now squarely in good ‘ol ‘Murica, which meant that unfamiliar restaurants were everywhere in said airport, and good gravy did I ever want to start eating everything in sight. But we dutifully soldiered on to collect our bags and hailed a cab to take us to our hotel. Fun fact: this was the first time I’d ever taken a taxi anywhere. Many firsts for me on this trip!

While I said before that all my planning turned out very well, I did learn a lesson about booking hotels. Namely, make sure that your hotel is not situated in the middle of absolutely nowhere. In the name of efficiency, I opted to book a hotel very close to both the American Dream mall and MetLife Stadium, both places that we were going to visit over the course of the weekend. Unfortunately, I had failed to realize from the Google map that this hotel wasn’t within (reasonable) walking distance of anything, and even if we did want to hike anywhere, there were no sidewalks at all. Just roads and ditches. So a car would have actually been kinda nice to have. In the end, we spent less on Uber rides than the rental would have cost, so it did work itself out.

That nonsense aside, we arrived at the hotel and took a load off for a while. The Marriott where we stayed was… well, it was fine for the price we paid. The room was nice enough and was overall pretty clean. There were a few things that caused me to cock an eyebrow in suspicion; namely the bathroom that seemed to have been in desperate need of a renovation for many years. Also, the television knew my name, which caught me off guard. I didn’t know that kind of personalization was possible. I hadn’t been in a hotel for about a decade! We would also learn before long that whoever had been in our room previously had presumably used the mini-fridge to store open pepperoni; we put some water bottles in there and upon retrieving them, they were thoroughly coated with a strong scent of pepperoni. Not exactly what you want to be smelling when drinking water.

The evening was then spent checking out the Amercian Dream mall. We Ubered our way over there (my first Uber ride!) and discovered it to be surprisingly empty for a Friday night. It was also surprisingly empty as far as shops go. The place is massive, the second-largest shopping mall in the US, but probably half of the retail spaces were blocked off and empty. That’s not to say that there wasn’t a good selection of things to see! It’s just that the actual “shopping” part was a little underwhelming. Here are a number of other attractions you can find at American Dream:

  • Nickelodeon Universe theme park
  • DreamWorks water park
  • An indoor skiing/snowboarding hill
  • At least two mini-golf courses
  • Escape rooms
  • A giant Ferris wheel
  • A three-story candy store (IT’S SUGAR)
  • A skating rink
  • A mirror maze
  • LEGOLAND Discovery Centre
  • An indoor wave pool for surfing
  • Probably a bunch of other things that I missed!

We wandered around for some time, doing a little shopping, getting the lay of the land, and seeing the sights, but for the most part just looking at all the restaurants and trying to figure out how we were going to eat that much food over the course of two and a half days. The only things that I bought that evening were a huge bag of candy and a giant slab of a cookie pizza, but it was one of the most satisfying cookies I’ve ever eaten (half of it was saved for a post-breakfast snack the next morning). We ate dinner at the “legendary” Mr. Beast Burger, and it wasn’t bad. It was just… nothing really special. If I’m remembering correctly, I had a bacon burger with fries on it. Good, but like, there would be no hype around it if not for the major YouTuber branding.

Heading back to the hotel once we were all walked out for the day, we began tossing around ideas of how to go about the next day’s adventure, which was heading into Manhattan to do the tourist thing. With a vague sense of which landmarks we’d be visiting, we drifted to sleep to the humorous antics of The Office and American Dad, which would become a trend for the whole weekend.

The next morning… Well, that’ll have to wait for Part 2. I’m already about 1700 words deep here, and that’s probably more than everything else I’ve written to date this year. So, to milk this one for a little more “content” I’m going to cut it off here and make it a two-parter. Those are always more exciting anyway! So be sure to check back in like, I don’t know, four months?, when I finally get around to writing that up!

(my) Butt hurt(s)

Well, I did a thing yesterday: my fifth ride in the Cerebral Palsy Association of Manitoba’s Stationary Bike Race. I’ve become a big fan of this annual fundraiser, as it gives me a chance to hang out with some co-workers that I don’t ordinarily see much of, or at all in some cases. While I’m typically not a very social person, I’m all too happy to be an active part of the team when this event comes around.

On the other hand, I really let myself go last winter, and despite having gotten into a very good (at least for me) and consistent exercise routine over the last couple months, I was not at all prepared for it. Basically everything below my sternum has been in pain since my ride. Yes, it’s just 25 minutes of riding a bike, but it’s 25 minutes of riding a bike as hard as I can. And this year, that was not very hard at all. Last year I 19.22km, and this year I came in just shy of 17. I am a bit disappointed, but in all fairness, I was in the best shape of my life when I rode last year.

Most of all, though, I’m very proud of the artwork that I made for my team!

It was kind of a last-minute thing; I wasn’t going to do it, but then a pretty girl told me how much she liked the piece I did last year and asked me if I’d do another so… call me a simp if you must. I spent pretty much an entire weekend on this thing, and all things considered, I’m quite happy with how it turned out. And my co-riders really liked it too, so that’s wonderful! It’s nice to get validation once in a while.

2022: Bad at Monies Edition

I really thought that 2022 was going to be the year that I purchased fewer than 50 video games. Got close, but those Q4 sales are killer…

Anyway, here are a bunch of numbers related to video games I purchased in 2022. I’ve included the figures from 2021 and 2020 for comparison.

Total Games Purchased567173
Purchased Games Played41 (73%)58 (82%)56 (77%)
Purchased Games Beaten37 (66%)49 (69%)44 (60%)
Purchased Games Finished32 (57%)44 (62%)36 (49%)
Physical purchases5 (9%)7 (10%)8 (11%)
Digital purchases51 (91%)64 (90%)65 (89%)
“Free” games12 (21%)18 (25%)38 (52%)
Nintendo purchases25 (45%)32 (46%)44 (60%)
PlayStation purchases19 (34%)15 (21%)18 (25%)
PC purchases10 (18%)20 (28%)3 (4%)
VR purchases2 (3%)3 (4%)7 (10%)
iOS purchases0 (0%)1 (1%)1 (1%)

The entire point of the exercise of keeping track of all my video game purchases (which I’ve been doing since 2015), is not just to share this fun data. Nor is it to cut down on game purchases in general. This is my way of trying to reduce the number of games that I buy and never play. It’s been going on for far too long now and needs to stop! What a waste of money! Sure, it’ll be great if I ever magically become rich and don’t work anymore and have nothing to do but muscle through my backlog, but let’s be honest… that’s never going to happen.

Continue reading 2022: Bad at Monies Edition


Oh dang… The first post I ever made was dated December 2, 2022. So that means I’ve been at this for over twenty years now. Kinda bummed that I missed the anniversary!

If this website were anything more than an elaborate diary of the video games I play and the junk food I eat, I’d probably do something special to celebrate. Alas!

It’s (not really) a race!

I did some cursory searching, and I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned on this website that I have been actively participating in a local charity fundraiser, the Cerebral Palsy Stationary Bike Race, for the last four years. I bring it up because I just signed up for the 2023 race this week. And also because I would like to share this image from last year’s website:

If it’s not immediately clear why I wanted to share this image, squint a bit harder at that tiny guy on the far right. That’s me! I was selected to be on the friggin’ banner image! What an honor!

Now, I understand that whoever did this banner just grabbed a bunch of photos that the event photographers took and slapped ’em together. There was certainly no “I think we really need to make sure that Ryan is included in our promotional material” discussion, but it was heartening to see myself representing this great cause. Makes me feel like I’ve done something genuinely good with my life.

And, as mentioned above, I’m riding again this year. Donations aren’t being taken quite yet, but I hear they’re intending to start around January 25th or so. So here’s the link anyway. Just keep checking back until that big ol’ “Donate Now” button in the upper-right corner works. And then donate. You don’t even have to do it in my name. Just give a little something to help make someone else’s life a little better.

Lowest bar: Cleared

Remember back in April when I was all like “Holy crap people watched my YouTube garbage for eight whole hours last month!”? Yeah, Spooktober 2022 was good to me, and thanks mostly to that Pokémon video I posted last month, the momentum hasn’t dropped off quite yet.

My official stance is still that I don’t actually give a damn if anybody watches the videos that I post, but man… it feels kinda nice to see those numbers go up.

Gums, and then some

I went to the dentist yesterday, and for the first time in, I think, forever, the hygienist did not ask how often I floss. Instead, she just congratulated me on my greatly improved dental hygiene practices and thanked me for making her job easier. While I do brush my teeth every day, I have been terrible at flossing for my entire life. So it’s nice to know that I’m finally getting it right!

And this kind of comes as part of a huge flip of my lifestyle over the last few months. I’ve finally been making a consistent effort to take care of myself better lately. You know, like an adult should. I’ve been exercising just about every day, I’ve been eating better and less, I’ve gone back to completely cutting out sugary beverages (even diet soda), and I have a decent-looking beard now. I suppose that a renewed commitment to keeping my gums healthy goes hand-in-hand with all the other self-care practices I’ve been focused on lately.

Now I just need to start cleaning my home more than twice a year, and I might actually be able to pass as a respectable grown-up!

2022: The Year of Ryan

We’re only through four months at this point, but I’m ready to announce that 2022 has been pretty darn great to me so far. I could go on and list all the things that have put me into the happiest state of existence I’ve ever been in, but let’s just cut to what is currently The Big One:

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked by a team at work to provide an illustration of some description for our internal newsletter. This is… possibly the highest honour I’ve ever been granted. I’ve done commissions for people before, but this is… official. This is going to be published. And not self-published! Sure, there’s nothing in it for me but recognition and self-satisfaction, but those are two of my favourite things!

Of course, I proceeded to spend hours on a piece, only to decide that it sucks and throw it out two days before the submission was due. But hey! That’s the life of an artist!

I did turn out a pretty okay product in the end: a relatively lengthy (for me) comic strip about going back to work at the office. It’s not my best work, but I don’t think that I drew anything at all in 2021, so I’m shaking off the rust here. And also, like I said before, I only had two evenings to churn it out, so.

I’ll share it here eventually! But not today. Sorry!

Despite it not being my proudest work, being given this opportunity is definitely one of my proudest moments. I’m super happy right now! And it’s probably only like half because I’m up at 2:30 AM on a work night.

Dreams Coming True

Last December, I ran a feature called the 24 Days of Desire. It was an Xmas countdown-style deal, each day highlighting a different thing that I wanted. In that feature, I noted that if I could have any one of those desires, it would be to go see BAND-MAID live.


I mean, yeah, now I have to plan a trip to New Jersey, but I’ve wanted to go there for a long time, anyway. And logistics be damned, I don’t care! I’M GOING TO SEE F’N BAND-MAID!

I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited before…


I entertain no delusions that people actually watch the content that I post to YouTube. It’s been entirely for my own amusement from the start, and I maintain that mentality to this very day. However!

Apparently, over the last month(ish), people have watched more than an entire work day of my “content”. That’s… something!

And, yeah, the views are “high”, but most of them are just robots who watch for three seconds or less. Or so I assume. They could very well be real people who watch for three seconds or less!

Anyway, I guess my point is: thank you, whoever is actually watching my videos. Seeing that watch time number go up makes me feel all the warm fuzzies. I can only hope that you don’t feel as if your time was wasted.

I also hope that for some reason you read my blog, so that you can appreciate my appreciation of you.