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Cebus Capucinis

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Blog Entries posted by Cebus Capucinis

  1. Cebus Capucinis
    I have talked about this quite a bit, so I am sorry if someone has heard this already.
    Today I went through some of my Atari collection and played some of the old carts. Of course, I inevitably got to Space Invaders. My Space Invaders has got to be one of the worst examples of an Atari pic label cart on Earth; the end label is barely hanging by a thread, there is plaque all over the front label, and there are all sorts of scuffs, dings, and scratches. All-in-all, it is a terrible cart.
    I have come across lots of Space Invaders replacements for my Atari collection, but none are ever good enough. I'm not complaining; some of them are absolutely perfect in condition. Some are absolutely pristine, appearing to have been made in the factory yesterday. But I'd never trade, buy, or swap my copy for one reason: my dad.
    One of my very earliest memories involves my dad and the Space Invaders game. It was the very first Atari game I ever played! I was 5 or 6 at the time and, as most small boys do, loved following my dad around doing all sorts of 'grown up' things like helping take out the trash, cleaning the floors, working in the yard, etc. Of course I was more of a hindrance than a help, but it was still one of my proudest 6-year old accomplishments to help out my dad. One day while following him around and getting in the way, he sat down at the TV and started playing a game! I didn't know what it was all about so I sat next to him and watched.
    A cavalcade of interstellar aliens dropped from the screen, with only my dad to save the planet from destruction. Of course, being 6, I was mesmerized -- but then, something amazing happened! An errant shot from an alien killed my dad's spaceship. Of course, anyone familiar with the 2600 Space Invaders knows the rather 'fart-like' sound that emanates when your character dies. I was absolutely in STITCHES! This was the funniest thing I could ever experience in my entire life! A spaceship that FARTS!
    After laughing until I was blue in the face, I remember my dad giving me the controller and letting me try to play. How could a kid take a game seriously after hearing a sound like that? Clearly I purposely went out of my way to die, rolling on the floor as soon as I heard the sound. This probably went on for 10-15 minutes, much to my dad's irritation (of course, being the good-natured dad he is, he likely just grinned and put up with it). My attention span finally stopped with the noise and focused on the game. I was terrible at it, surely. Six year olds aren't notorious for getting billions of points at video games.
    Then my dad did something that to this day still makes me smile -- he switched it to the co-op game variant in which 2 plays can play simultaneously. I'm not sure which one it is, but it is the one in which the ships cannot cross each other -- they simply bump against each other and don't move past. I must have played Space Invaders with my dad for hours. We would go out of our way to bump into each other purposely, pushing the other person on the shoulder and saying things like 'HEY PAL GET OUTTA MY WAY' and both of us would start laughing.
    As I grew up, Space Invaders didn't become as important, and I had forgotten the game. Before I left for college, however, I was going through some boxes and found my Atari 7800 and a bunch of cartridges. Many did not survive my mom's garage sale tendencies, but I was amazed and very happily surprised to see that beat up Space Invaders cartridge.
    I still have it, obviously, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. You can have your video games with your HDMI graphics and your ultra-lightning-fast gameplay. I'll stick to my beat-up old Space Invaders and the memory of a 6-year old and his dad.
  2. Cebus Capucinis
    This one is sort of related to the earlier post in that it's a childhood memory, but it's not Atari related. My parents visited my house from Thursday to this morning, and on the first night we were talking about our favorite memories growing up. I mentioned the Dr. Mario swear-like-a-sailor story to my parents again; of course, once again my mom refuses to admit any sort of guilt on that part.
    Anyway, I grew up in southern Idaho -- the pace is a sagebrush desert like no tomorrow. My parents were elementary school teachers but I came from an extended family of all sorts. My mom's parents owned a glass shop in town; my dad's oldest brother is a pulmonologist. My dad's parents, however, were farmers. Both my grandmother and grandfather were salt-of-the-earth people; both sunburned 95% of the year and weatherbeaten but always could enjoy a good joke and were the epitome of "old school hospitality and friendliness". They always helped neighbors when needed and shared and shared alike.
    We lived 1/4 mile from them; when my dad graduated high school he worked with his father before going to college and getting his teaching degree. Since we grew up in such close proximity, we were always needed to help out around the house with my grandma's garden or my grandpa's machinery. My sister and I were always outside and were often willing to help, since helping meant getting first dibs on raspberry bushes.
    Anyway, this particular memory was about 5th grade. My grandma needed help roto-tilling the garden for new planting. She was a very hearty woman (anyone who could raise four boys wins brownie points in my book) but after about the age of 50 couldn't handle gas-powered gardening devices anymore; she just couldn't keep up. It didn't help that the roto-tiller they had was made in around 1963 and had absolutely no safety features whatsoever. There were only two speeds on the beast -- fast and rip-your-arms-off-fast.
    Obviously to a 10 year old boy this rickety device was the epitome of hilarity and adventure. I would go rushing around with it on full blast, tossing soil in my face and laughing every minute. Quite a few times it got out of my hands and would race off until tipping over, causing potential catastrophe (I was always careful to ensure that if it went TOO fast it wasn't headed toward those heavenly raspberry bushes!). It belched smoke, oil, and all sorts of carcinogens and often one would need a bath not only to clean oneself but to soothe sore muscles from the machinery.
    Throughout my childhood I would always be called on to use the roto-tiller. It was hard work (for a 10 year old) but as stated, I always enjoyed it. Well, enjoyed it until right up to the end. The roto-tiller could start with a little electric push-button starter, but a short in the wiring meant that the engine would not die unless you arced the wires. It would simply run at low rpm's, idling until it ran out of gas. In order to stop the roto-tiller, you had to use a screwdriver, touching the spark plug to short it. This produced a massive spark and 95% of the time would shock the user. I was scared to DEATH of it. Electricity was bad! You could get hurt! I refused to have anything to do with stopping it.
    As soon as I was done with the task, I would idle the device, let it run slowly into the ground far enough to stall the blades, and then run into the house, finding my grandma and telling her that I was finished. She would grab a screwdriver and come out with me, tut-tutting about my lack of testosterone and manly virtue. As soon as she got out there, she would roll up her sleeves, grab the screwdriver, and proceed to electrocute herself in an attempt to turn off the spark plug. Many times it would require more than one try. Of course, it wasn't enough to actually hurt/kill anyone, but it didn't matter, I still refused.
    So, my favorite memory growing up was my 10 year old brain every time I roto-tilled gardens for my grandmother. I wasn't willing to kill myself via electrocution by shorting out a piece of machinery, but I was certainly willing to kill my own grandmother.
  3. Cebus Capucinis
    I was going to post this in the 'greatest video game moments' thread, but it was 2600 related:
    My mother is, without a doubt, the most prim, proper, Victorian-minded woman you will probably ever meet in her life. She has not missed a day of church in at least the entirety of her marriage to my dad (they just had their 27th wedding anniversary this year!) and will only wear pants around the house if doing garden work or something like that. Seriously! She is a 3rd grade teacher and always has her hair in a bun; she is the epitome of the schoolmarm personality. She only told me this later in my adulthood but she is so concerned with decorum and civility that when guests are in the house she will turn the sink on when using the bathroom, lest the guests believe that she is doing something more 'improper' than simply washing her hands.
    The most hilarious memory I have of my mother was approximately 6th grade. We had purchased a Nintendo Entertainment System and the rest of the family (my sister, my dad, and myself) had busied ourselves with loafing about trying to find the damned Princess, who was always in yet another castle. My dad spent most of weekends aside from playing with us kids trying to convince my mom to play the NES. No argument would work. Family entertainment? Nope, Mario Bros is "violent".
    Finally, after months, my dad finally convinced my mom to play her first game: Dr. Mario. It was a puzzle game so there wasn't any violence! You were eradicating virii, so that was helpful! It stimulated your brain! What I wasn't aware of was that my mom was moonlighting as a video game crack addict. When the kids would go to bed promptly at 9:30 PM, she would go downstairs to the TV room and play Dr. Mario until 1-2AM, then go to work in the morning, prim and proper as ever.
    How did I find out about this, you ask? After 2 months she decided that she was experienced enough to start playing Dr. Mario against my dad. Now, my dad and mom have the silliest relationship out of any married couple. My dad goes out of his way on a regular basis to antagonize my mom. Anything and everything he can do to irritate her is his sole goal in life. He had secretly been playing and getting better as well! He would come home an hour earlier than my mom would (telling her he was running errands, they both worked at the same elementary school) and would rush downstairs, kick us kids off the television, and frantically get better at Dr. Mario.
    Well, the big night happens. The first challenge of all challenges. Head-to-head Dr. Mario, 11 PM. I was yet to fall asleep and was laying in my bed, thinking of the homework I had neglected to complete and the lunchtime conversation about the latest cartoons when what do I hear from our basement, but my mother's voice:
    Immediately following was a stream of expletives my 6th grade brain could hardly comprehend. My mother called my father everything under the sun. At one point in time she said "I SWEAR TO JESUS CHRIST AND EVERYTHING HOLY THAT I WILL FIND AN ATTORNEY AND DIVORCE YOUR SORRY @SS IF YOU SO MUCH AS BEAT ME AT ONE MORE F***ING SCREEN!" To this I hear my dad, maniacally laughing in that way he only could when he antagonized my mother.
    Needless to say, my parents never got a divorce. My mother still denies this vehemently to this day. This wedding anniversary I had a surprise for them: A Turbo Duo system and a used copy of Dr. Mario. My dad fell on the floor laughing. My mother turned beet red. Inside the card was "I promise I don't want to break up your marriage, but I certainly want to thank you for teaching me all those wonderful words!"
  4. Cebus Capucinis
    I'm starting a weekly Board Game blog. I'll be reviewing a different board game every week. Here's the link:
    In the first posts you'll find an explanation of my reviews, a rating system, and the very first review: Roller Coaster Tycoon!
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