In memory of a cool guy…

I Twittered last week about the passing of Andy Baran, a.k.a. Cyberboy a.k.a. Buttboy… However we knew him, he left an impression on us all.

For those who don’t know him, Andy was a fellow EGM staffer who was taken by Pancreatic cancer. I knew Andy for only about a year in person, but occasionally followed his writings in EGM and online.

He was originally hired on the video game help line adjacent the EGM offices, and longed to be one of the editors alongside the rest of us. As I remember it, he tried very hard to ingratiate himself to us and the higher-ups by doing us favors and various errands and odd jobs. Around the office, he became known as Buttboy because he was always up our asses. Even Steve Harris called him that if I’m not mistaken. His hard work eventually paid off as he was finally hired on as an assistant editor. At first, he wrote reviews of games as Ed Semrad, but eventually worked his way up to writing reviews under the more PC for the magazine title “Cyberboy”. Again, this is how I remember it. His hard work continued to pay off for him and he continued to move up and up in the EGM ranks and stayed on for the ride till the end, when Ziff threw everyone out.

As I mentioned I only knew him for a short time, but it was enough time for him to leave an impression on me. He was a unique guy to say the least, and I found myself surprisingly affected by the news of his passing. I had mentioned to my wife earlier this week how my thoughts kept dwelling on him. I hadn’t actually talked to him in 15 years, this was strange. Usually when you hear someone you used to know died, you’re like “Oh wow that sucks”. But back then at EGM it was like a family. We were all brothers, and Ed was our dad. Steve was I guess the landlord, or crazy uncle. Andy was our little brother who we wouldn’t let play with us till he got older.

I literally just got back from the memorial service that was held for Andy. He left behind a wife, and it was moving to hear her, his father and brother and various friends and family talk about him. It made me wish I’d made the time to get in contact with Andy over the years and reconnect. Of that I’m regretful. A lot of the old EGM crew was there and it was awesome to see and talk with everyone again. Mike Vallas shared a particularly funny story about Andy’s new Mitsubishi 3000 GT, and how it helped Andy eventually meet his wife.

In addition to Vallas, Martin Alessi and his son Nathan, Ken “Sushi-X” Williams, Trickman Terry Minnich, Mike Riley, and of course I attended along with Danyon Carpenter. A lot of other former EGM staffers were in attendance, many of whom were there after my tenure at Sendai, but I’d heard of them, and they’d heard of me through word of mouth. It was just a great pleasure to talk with everyone again; it was unfortunate it had to be under those circumstances. But hopefully Andy would’ve been happy to have reunited us all again. We were there long after the time the room was scheduled to be used, so we eventually moved into the hallway, then the lobby to continue our reminiscence of Andy and to reconnect with one another.

A few of his co-workers from Office Max were in attendance as well, to share stories that reminded us the kind of guy Andy was. A lot of the same pranks were pulled at that job as well it seemed. Mark Sarnecki (Duckhead) recently reminded me how Andy left a bottle of “Toilet Duck” on his desk at Sendai, and how Mark would drive Andy’s car to lunch because Andy was afraid to when he first started driving. I was also reminded by Mike Vallas how Andy would only make right turns. Just a lot of eccentricities that made Andy who he was and why someone like me who hadn’t seen him in 15 years could be so moved by his passing.

Since we were all together, we wanted to be sure to capture the moment with our iPhones. Mike Vallas even graced us with his famous "dude from Guile's stage" impression, as you can see, it's an uncanny resemblance.