Tuesday, November 26, 2013

VIDEO SCRAPBOOK: My Favorite Video Games, The Age of C64

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1984), Wishbringer (1985), Hollywood Hijinx (1986) Commodore 64

When you click PLAY on the video below, you'll see why I included 3 games in one listing. Since they're all classic INFOCOM text only adventures, they make for a rather boring video. But when playing these games, they were anything but boring. Countless hours were spent, many greatly sleep deprived as I tried to get the babel fish, deliver my post and play "Misty" on the old piano.

I was in my twenties now and wanted more "adult" games. Shooters and arcade action fare were, to me, more kid's stuff. And the arcades were disappearing rapidly. Those that remained kept only the most popular games which didn't necessarily reflect my tastes.

Lords of Conquest (1986) Commodore 64

Like RISK and you probably wouldn't think it with these now-dated simplistic graphics, it was a bit more strategic (ie less luck based like RISK) Oh how the plinky 8-bit sounds the game makes brings back memories of hours playing this.

Empire: Wargame of the Century (1987) Commodore 64

One of the spiritual precursors to Civilization, featuring only military production and conquest it was endearingly simple but the AI was wickedly intelligent. Or it seemed that way. This was a lot harder than you'd think.

Legacy of the Ancients (1987) Commodore 64

I loved this RPG which seemed very "open world" for its day.

Zac McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders (1988) Commodore 64

My fascination with text-only RPGs morphed as the industry did into the text and graphics RPGs of the latter part of the decade. This one was a hoot. It was one of several (The Secret of Monkey Island, Maniac Mansion and Leisure Suit Larry come to mind) that were targeting a more adult demographic by savvy game developers who knew we were the primary ones plunking down $50 a pop for these games.

Wasteland (1988) Commodore 64

Probably the best text/graphics blend RPG of the era, Wasteland was the genesis of the Fallout series. It was to my recollection the first RPG dealing with a post-apocalyptic dystopian future.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

What's It All About, Alfie?

VIDEO SCRAPBOOK: My Favorite Video Games, First Era

Here are some examples of my then favorite video games from the late 1970s to the early 1980s. I catalogue each by name, approximate year I fell in love with it and the system it ran on.

Combat (1977) Atari 2600

My youthful but weary and sleep-deprived eyes witnessed a new fascination dawning before me literally as the sun was doing the same that Christmas morning so many years ago. My brother and I played this on our new console system sitting cross-legged on the rug in front of the Philco color TV all night long. It was the one gift we'd been allowed to open on Christmas Eve and it was the only one we cared about throughout the next day, virtually neglecting the other boxes stuffed under the tree and ignoring the festivities of the holiday. Fuck baby Jesus, this was our God now!

Space Wars (1979) Arcade Game

I had been regularly taking the bus down to Lincoln Mall virtually every Saturday, plugging quarter after quarter into the exciting new video games at the Dream Machine arcade parlor, watching pinball machine after pinball machine get replaced by another video game console.  I preferred vector graphics games like Lunar Lander and Star Castle but Space Wars was my favorite. That is until later that year when they installed...

Tail Gunner (1979) Arcade Game

And though in love with this new game and its stunning use of "3-D" effects, my heart would soon be won over by yet again another "3-D" vector graphics offering...

Battlezone (1980) Arcade Game

I was amazed not only by the gameplay and immersion I experienced with this game I was thrilled that for some reason, at least here at this Lincoln Mall arcade, I never had to wait in line to use one of the two machines they had. Perhaps it was the intimidating looking console with its tank periscope-like viewer or the outrageous special pricing of 50 cents a game but it wasn't as popular as other fare in this twinkling, clinking, chirping, chiming, kid-packed place.

Berserk (1980) Arcade Game

It was the awesome Cylon-like computerized voice effects that hooked me to this otherwise simplistic side-scroll shooter. When the evil robots shot you down, I always thought they said "Got the human in that time period!" and even though I've since learned that it supposedly is "Got the human, got the intruder!" I still hear "in that time period" no matter how many times I listen. You be the judge, listen here:

Yars Revenge (1982) Atari 2600

By now I had my own Atari 2600 and no longer used the shared one from years earlier. And this was one of my favorite games for the console. That sound made when that scary energized ball thing came out and then the cascade of sound and color when I shot it while coming for me: silicon orgasm.

Q*bert (1982) Arcade Game

This cute and colorful game was part reflexes, part puzzle-solving and games like it started to define a branching of the industry from mere twitch-based shoot-em-ups to a thinking-players-game.

Gyruss (1983) Arcade Game

I could go back to CCRI's Flanagan Campus main building today, walk through to the cafeteria and enter what in the early '80s was the Game Room (who knows what it functions as today*) and point exactly to where this console stood. That's how familiar I became with this, my first friend in college. "3-D" graphics, challenging yet rewarding and a sweet disco/rock Bach soundtrack. Can you blame me for falling in love?

*I searched online and found a blueprint of the school from the CCRI website and it's now called a "Club Room." Whatever that is I'm sure it doesn't have video game consoles in it. Poor kids these days.

NOTE: Start all of these videos at the same time and let them run simultaneously. Man, it's like you're in the midst of a golden age arcade parlor! Totally Rad, Dude!!!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

An Early Holiday Present

Oh the fake spirit of Santa Claus or whatever fictitious gift-giver makes shit like this happen! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

The bitch upstairs is moving out right now!!!!

Her and her posse are loading up the truck and movin' to Beverly! Well, probably not since they haven't likely discovered "black gold...Texas tea" or anything like that. I think their skippin'. Serves the landlord right for renting to lowlifes.

The website doesn't list the apartment as becoming soon available which is why I think they are either breaking their lease or have already been evicted and the landlord is awaiting their departure before listing it online. Plus, I mean, it's the middle of the month. Who's lease ends then? I guess it's possible, but I reckon it's not the case.

It doesn't matter though. All I know is that my prayers to the Great Spaghetti Monster, if I ever had subconsciously made them, have finally been answered.

Goodbye constant goosestepping footfalls above my head.
Goodbye periodic floods from above when she'd get stoned and let the tub overflow.
Goodbye perpetual clouds of cigarette smoke wafting down from her porch enveloping my place.
Goodbye to the non-stop clop-clop-clop, bang-bang-bang, squeal, squawk, scream, screech, giggles and tantrums of the little kiddies.
Goodbye to the persistent rain of debris like candy, trash, toys, crayons, dirty mop water and cigarette butts down onto my abused patio.
Goodbye to the occasional blaring Spanish music booming through the ceiling.
Goodbye to the nightly ritual of 'Gina Washing Time.

Now of course, similar as to when any apartment here becomes vacant, comes the unsettling question: Who will be the next occupant? And will they be better? Or could it be possible that they'd end up being worse?

Hopefully the freaking unit will stay vacant and peacefully silent 'till at least next Spring. Then I'll request that the power of the Easter Bunny manifest into bringing me another holiday gift in the form of a normal, quiet and respectful neighbor.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Day 205: 44 Pounds

Almost two months since the last weight loss update and, as you can tell, it's been an enormous fucking plateau. And it hasn't been all flatlined either...It stayed in the upper 260's much of the time and was up to almost 10 pounds above current just last week. See chart:

I was dealing with the self-embarrassment and self-frustration of having to account for massive beer and wine calories every day. Yup, pretty much every day. The old "Miller Time" and "Weekends Were Made For Michelob" syndromes were crushing my will to stay on track. It's amazing I didn't gain more than I did. Of course, these behaviors eventually led to me abandoning the My Fitness Pal calorie tracking and I started to just let it all hang out.

There were Kitchen Sink Sacrifices on several occasions in late September. The largest was an entire 12-pack of Sam Adams which was NOT on sale. Ouch. $16 bucks down the drain. But these eventually stopped since I just didn't care anymore.

How did I avoid a total relapse after this? I'm really not sure. But last week I decided that enough was enough. A couple of weekends ago, I woke up hungover again for like the 4th day in a row but this time, there was a nagging vague memory of the previous night. Much of the memory had been blacked out...not unusual, I blackout frequently even if I only have a six pack. But what I remembered pissed me off to no end. I scurried to my wallet to verify my suspicion and there in the ceramic bowl where I keep my wallet was a receipt. I knew what it said.

Semoran Food Store
Time: 20:16
12PK HEINEKEN...$12.99

Having drank my way through my first 12-pack around dinnertime, I went and bought this, the second 12-pack, around 8:16 PM. Busy traffic, prime cop scouting time, 12 beers in me so B.A.L. (blood alcohol level) probably over .20 and, worst of all, IN MY NEW CAR!

Yup, I was already driving drunk in my brand new car, three days after I got it.

Never mind the fact that I'm just getting reacquainted with stick so my response time is a tad slow (but my drunk-self INSISTS I drive so much better when buzzed) and the total lack of concern for mine and anyone else's safety, if I did get stopped, I'd be essentially screwed to hell. Goodbye new car, goodbye job, goodbye freedom.

So I watched a BBC documentary to get motivated once again to stay off the dangerous and fattening adult beverages, and get back on track. It talked about the benefits of fasting, especially the 5-2 fasting diet. Now I do think that taking it too far, ie. trying to replace your daily eating plan permanently may be a bit difficult with something like this, but at least a simplified, modified approach where the focus of 2 days per week is to maintain really low calorie intake and on the other days eat wisely but not totally overboard. This plan could allow for the usually forbidden foods like pasta, pizza, Chinese, etc. without "giving up." I know that for me, anyway, I really can't be trying to incorporate drinking into this plan. For more than calorie control issues, I know I've got to keep away from that.

We'll see how it goes. It's helped in the past few days get the drop in weight back to 261 so it might have something going for it.

All I know, with Great Plateaus like the past couple of months and the threat of plummeting down into my own version of the Valley of the Dolls, the landscape isn't as bucolic as when I'd originally set out on this journey. There are plenty of obstacles and hazards to be concerned about, and, this trip is gonna be a whole lot longer than I used to think it would be. We sure the fuck aren't in Kansas anymore.