Busy Weekend

I will blog about that soon, but I will just say for now I was in Southern Illinois the entire weekend, or driving there or back.  Monday I had my usual busy day.  I tried to blog yesterday but the allergy pills I took for my headache just zonked me out.  I must say, for a new position with higher pay I certainly don’t feel those newfound funds.  I guess another $500 car bill last month and $300 for an eye doctor visit and contacts will do that.  That in addition to the medical insurance I finally purchased and the property tax bill I am trying to save for.  None of this will keep me away this weekend, or keep me from spending money, mind you!  I have plenty for that.

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So what has been going on?  Well, my boss has been taking some time off because her brother was critically injured in a motorcycle accident (or some sort of motorized scooter I’m told, as if that makes a difference.  Last I heard he was in a coma and they were going to take him off the pain medication to see if that would shock his system enough to wake him up.  Yikes.  In addition, her father was admitted to another hospital shortly after, though I forget why.  So I am covering for her as best I can as far as technical things go.  I was on the phone for awhile this morning trying to get a couple of our people in Florida up and running- this while training someone on the handheld computer who is back with us after leaving some months ago before his training was complete.  Oh, and I just learned today another employee of our company was involved in a motorcycle accident, and her father had a medical problem (a heart attack in his case) happen at the same time as well. 😯

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Now I have learned my brother is extremely upset about some damage to the classic Mustang sitting in our garage.  Apparently someone, probably me I suppose, put a ladder in the wrong place and some boxes just happened to fall on the ladder, causing it to fall on the car.  My brother was ranting on the phone yesterday and today with my mother.  One of the unfair things he brought into play were our Christian values, as if we were purposely trying to cover it up.  Really?  Christian values?  How about not making an idol of worldly possessions to a point where you yell at your mother for over a half-hour in three calls (which she had the grace to not just hang up on) and threaten to “disown us” if we don’t fix it?  My nephew, who is the actual owner of the car mind you, has made an assessment of his own that it can’t be fixed for less than many thousands of dollars due to the tiny dent (I couldn’t even find it) being in a bad spot.  He said he won’t make us pay for it, but I asked him to find out some time how much it really would be.  Lovely, we need our roof reshingled and new windows, but now we might have to pay to have a tiny dent fixed.

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So…  In more positive news, I have made an appointment to audition at our local professional theatre.  My day to go is June 12.  I need to get a new headshot done somewhere (hopefully they don’t cost too much) and I need to write a new résumé.  More importantly, I need to come up with a monologue.  I expect I will sing a selection from my usual song from the Secret Garden, Race you to the Top of the Morning, but I’m not sure about the monologue.  Someone has recommended I do something from Oliver! since I played Fagin a few years ago.  A site, musicaltheatreaudition.com, says I should not use an accent unless specifically asked to and I couldn’t imagine playing Fagin without one, so I don’t know.  I do know that since the song is dramatic the monologue should be comedic.  Many other tips involve knowing what one is actually trying out for, but I am trying out for an entire season, and one show is even listed as “unknown musical.”  The song and the monologue have to total no more than three minutes, so I have my work cut out for me- but at least I have a couple of weeks.  Any recommendations anyone?

A Retrogaming Post

As I promised to JustJ, my next post is a retrogaming one!  I decided to make it about a single game, one that spawned many versions and was the first arcade game from Nintendo’s famed Shigeru Miyamoto, a new hire at the time who was charged with making a game that would be used in the many leftover cabinets of a game that didn’t sell so well.  In arcade terms, a conversion kit.  If you know any Nintendo video game history, you know this is the man who came up with the hot selling Super Mario Bros and Legend of Zelda series.  In video games, he is a creative genius.  But this post isn’t about Mr. Miyamoto, it is about his first smash hit called Donkey Kong.  While I was sort of a general arcade game junkie of the time, this one game was my absolute favorite.  For those who have been a long time away from the game, here is a short video of the arcade game in action:

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I remember I was so jealous of a kid named Jason who was in my boy scout troop.  He was so good at the game that he could make it all the way to round four.  By that, I don’t mean the fourth screen, I mean the fourth level set which always started with the barrels screen and ended with the blue rivets screen where, once won, the feared ape would fall to his doom and the hero Mario, then just known as Jumpman, would rescue his lady only to start over in the next round.  Myself, I could only make it to round two or, on a very lucky day, round three.  Never past though.  But Jason made the game seem really easy.  Of course he was no King of Kong (see the recent movie about record setters Billy Mitchell and Steve Wiebe and their quests to maintain (in Mitchell’s case) or break (Wiebe) the world record on Donkeyt Kong) but still a world away from me.  If I made it to round three, Kong would hand my butt to me on the second elevators screen.

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As a fan of the game, I owned or played several iterations of it in the next several years.  The first one was the Nintendo Game & Watch version.  Their Game & Watch games were sort of a precursor to their Gameboy system in the late 80s.  These games had set LCD graphics that allowed only one game per system.  You can see all of these lit up briefly at the start of the next video before the game starts.  Believe it or not, you can actually play this and other G&W games on your PC using simulators (LINK)- in fact, that’s just what is used in the video:

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My favorite memory of this game is first playing it in school when a kid named John brought one back from a visit to Japan.  I was bummed that it was an import I couldn’t get until one day I actually saw it in the store and convinced my mom to get me one (it was likely a birthday or Christmas gift, I can’t remember)!  Cheesy as it was, I played it to death.  My eyes later opened really wide when a new video game system came out with Donkey Kong as a pack-in game- the Colecovision!  Up until this time we owned an Atari VCS (later rebadged “2600” when the 5200 was released) on which Coleco simultaneously released a far watered-down version of this title that would sell their own game:

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It is almost certain they made this, and other Atari versions of their Colecovision games, laughably bad in order to make their own look even more superior in order to make sales of their console.  This game system was absolutely a Christmas gift- no affording this sort of thing during the rest of the year!  The graphics were not quite up to par, and a level was missing, but it still looked spot on to my juvenile mind!  Needless to say, I played this one to death too:

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Sometime during all this, I was introduced to games on the Apple ][ computer.  Our school had them, and so then did the library.  I am not sure if there was an official version of Donkey Kong on it, but if there was I am sure I never played it.  However, there was a very difficult ripoff from the big software publisher of the time Broderbund called Cannonball Blitz, and the library had it.  I am not sure why the image in the video is all yellow- perhaps a bad camera recording a monochrome amber display?  There is only one other video that I could find on youtube of it running on an Apple ][ emulator on an Android phone, but it was small and the sound was very soft.

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Eventually, following the infamous video game crash when people stopped buying game consoles due to the glut of shovelware (absolutely terrible games) that was released for the systems, Nintendo decided to test the waters with their brand new Nintendo Entertainment System that we all fondly call the NES.  Okay, it wasn’t really new as it had been sold in the Japanese market as the Famicom for over a year, but it was new to us!  Once again, the pack-in title caught my 15-year-old eye because it looked identical to the game I had been playing in the arcades- Super Mario Bros.  I asked for and received the cheap version (no light gun or robot) for my birthday.  However, SMB was really not the first game released for the system.  Remember, the Japanese had it for over a year.  However, one of their first releases was- you guessed it- Donkey Kong.  This version looked even more perfect than the Colecovision one, but for some inexplicable reason it was still missing the fourth level, the pie factory.  They also discarded the opening sequence.  If any version should have been complete, it was this one.  Donkey Kong Jr. had all four of its levels, so why not Donkey Kong?  Oh, well.  Anyway, I don’t recall ever owning this one, but I did play it, so here it is:

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Donkey Kong of course lived on in an updated version for Gameboy, and in spirit in the Donkey Kong Country games for the SNES and Gameboy, Donkey Kong 64 for the Nintendo 64, and others.  In any event, that’s the end of this long post about one game over many systems- I hope you enjoyed it!

Sorry…

Regular program to be continued soon…  One thing about no longer subbing is that I no longer have a lot of time to pass reading books as I did during specials (elementary) or free periods (middle school).  I typically don’t even take a lunch break- I just eat while driving to the next dealer.  For the last couple of weeks I have been heavily reading the tome from Robert Jordan known as book one of the Wheel of Time.  Yep, many more will follow, but I will take a break between books.

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So besides skipping out on reading my friends’ blogs which I will remedy soon, I have missed out on some topics to blog about, like first week of May holiday crunch with three celebrated days in a row.  We all know about cinco de mayo, but bookending May 5 are Star Wars Day (May the 4th… be with you) and the National Day of Prayer which a liberal judge recently decided was “unconstitutional,” but in his graciousness set aside his Judgment while appeals are made.  How nice.  Yeah right it’s unconstitutional- as if asking people to pray is advocating one religion over another.  How many religions pray now?  Of course I personally advocate only one and believe only prayers to our one God are heard and answered but that’s beside the point of this day set aside for our nation.

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Dandelions- all over the place.  This menace to lawns everywhere is really bad, at least in this area.  One of the guys in my small group runs a landscaping business and has personally testified to this Spring 2010 epidemic.  Mow ’em over, they are back in less than two days, spewing their poison as little white puffs in the wind.  Pick ’em, and the next day they are back with a vengeance.  I would readily believe after this week that the Greek myth about the Hydra started with these small yellow creatures- cut off one head and two take its place.

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So what does the future of posting hold?  Well, I still have a couple of yearbook posts in me and I haven’t started on any retrogaming posts.  Those will be starters.  And I am hoping Saturday the 15th will bring a post, when we try again to do a small group outing for our young 4th-grade boys.  And there is yet another holiday approaching this Sunday.  Well, time to pick up the pizza- gotta go!

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PS. For certain OH readers, it looks like I am good to visit Memorial Day weekend- I am 95% sure I can stay through Monday.  I have cleared it with my boss, but I still have to mention it to the two dealers I serve that day.  I’m sure they will be happy to not have me come on Memorial Day though.