Year2001

What I did on my summer vacation: Detroit

     I ended up pulling into my driveway at about 6:30 A.M. I then went inside and slept until about noon. I worked from 3 until 11:30, and we were leaving for Toronto at 7:30 the next morning. About midway through my shift, I got a call from my mom who had driven by something of interest being thrown away in a neighborhood near ours: a cocktail table-style arcade cabinet. Naturally, I left work on my lunch break to go grab it. The person who was trashing it kept the circuit boards, wiring, speaker and coin door; but they left the monitor and power supply.

     Upon returning from Toronto, I wired a circuit board up to the monitor and discovered that it works perfectly.

So yeah. Free cocktail cabinet and monitor. Thanks Mom!

What I did on my summer vacation: Chicago

     Thanks to dumb luck (Some friends had an extra ticket and I had the day off), I ended up being able to go to see Radiohead in Chicago. I forgot my camera, so you get a breather from the pictures. First things first: Radiohead is, without a doubt in my mind, the new Grateful Dead. Why do I say this? Because I’ve heard other people make this comparison and I now have proof.
On the ride to Chicago, we would pass cars containing young folks and speculate as to whether they were heading to Radiohead. In one case, the occupants of a car drew the Radiohead Bear symbol on a piece of paper and held it up to the window for us to see. When one of us would exit etc. everyone would wave. So yes, caravan mentality. Also the show reeked of pot. So in short:

Radiohead = New Grateful Dead because

  • Caravans
  • Universal Bear Symbols
  • Pot

This comparison does not count musically, though.

     At any rate, we arrived at the venue somewhere between 3:30 and 4:00 and it was already packed. The doors were already open and we had to walk through the big holding area where billions of people sat in line, ate lunches, etc. for several hours. People were actively cleaning up all the debris from the waiting as we walked in, and the nearer we got to the actual gate the worse the mess was.

     This was the hottest day of the year (thus far) in Chicago, and they were being total water nazis. Water was for sale inside – $4 for a 20 Oz. bottle. Once we actually got inside there were a few sources of relief. They were spraying the crowd with one of those huge fire hoses, and had set up these mist tents where one could go cool off for a bit.

     We waited for a few hours right at the front of the sound board, which once all 25,000 people had arrived was right in the middle of the crowd. After the Beta Band finished boring the shit out of me (Pre recorded acoustic guitar?! I can see pre-recorded samples, strings, etc but acoustic guitar? Play it live you chumps!), Kid Koala took the stage while the crew finished setting up the stage for Radiohead.

     As soon as the band took the stage and the first few notes of ‘National Anthem’ rang out, the crowd surged forward about 10 feet and I ended up in a pretty prime position, close enough that I could see what was going on but set back enough that I could see both of the huge LED screens that were on either side of the stage.

     I’m not going to go into too much detail about the show, because you can read tons of reviews here, but I will say that the highlight was easily Thom playing the unreleased ‘True Love Waits’ alone on an acoustic during one of the encores.

     It was the best sound I’ve ever heard at a concert and it was OUTDOORS which is crazy. I’d read about radiohead using some weird laser system to calibrate their speaker arrangements in Q magazine, and if that’s true, it works very well. I can’t stress enough how crystal clear the sound was – and set against the backdrop of the Chicago skyline, it was a really cool experience.

     After the show, the crowd spilled out on to the streets of Chicago, the police who were directing traffic seemed flabbergasted by the droves of people that just kept coming. We ate some dinner, and two of the four of us that made the trip went to their hotel. The two of us that weren’t staying set off for Detroit, with me driving. I drank lots and lots of Mountain Dew. To the guy who stocks the vending machine that put the No-Doz three spirals back so I had to pay triple price for it: I hate you.

What I did on my summer vacation: Coney Island

     Over the course of about two weeks, I managed to travel through New York, Detroit, Chicago and Toronto. What follows is a photo-heavy account of some of these voyages. What you need to do now, is go make a sandwhich, because lots of pictures are loading as you read this. If you do not have the means to make a sandwich, perhaps you would like to use this time to procure a beverage? Excellent.

New York

     Five of us Michigan folk decided to make the trek to Coney Island, New York for the first annual Village Voice Siren Music Festival. We left at about noon on a friday, anticipating our arrival at the hotel to be around 1ish. I don’t know if you’ve ever been on a 13 hour car ride before, but it’s kind of crazy. Around the 7th hour or so, your brain just shuts off and stops caring that you’re still in a car.

     At any rate, once we actually got into New York, we got a bit lost in the tangle of freeways-that-have-three-names. It took some turning-down-of-the-music and back tracking but we eventually found ourselves back on course. By now it was roughly 2 AM. This is when we hit a TRAFFIC JAM. At 2 AM. So we’re sitting there in a traffic jam for a while, when all of a sudden people’s reverse lights start coming on. Soon the entire freeway is driving at us in reverse. Some people have found it necessary to do the speed limit IN REVERSE ON THE FREEWAY. So, we drove in reverse back to the last exit, and got off the freeway.

     Now we are lost again, because the route the computer directions and AAA told us to take is a twilight zone of reverse driving freeway. So we go to this gas station and yank out the big map. This prompts a cab driver (Who from this point on will be referred to as “Nicest Cab Driver Ever”) to approach us and ask where we are going. Apparently he had just gone off duty and was heading home, and just so happened to live right near our hotel. He let us follow him through a series of crazy turns and a straightaway that intersected streets named after every letter of the alphabet. He pulled over and told us that this was his street and to just keep going and we’d find our hotel. And we did! Thank you Nicest Cab Driver Ever (Note: I am talking about a New York cab driver here)!

     We made it to the hotel, and had two people check in (We did the “two people but really it’s five ha ha!” thing). While two of us were checking in, three of us went to a nearby 24 hour deli / grocery / smoke shop, where the other two met us once we were all set. We then went in in small groups so as not to arouse suspicion if they actually cared.

     While waiting at the deli / grocery / smoke shop for his turn to head up to the room, Chris elected to sit down outside and put his head down for a bit, as he was suffering from “Been in a car all fucking day” syndrome. Apparently some dude thought he was “totally bummin’.” because he leapt from his car and approached Chris, hands in the air, saying “It ain’t that bad! It ain’t that bad!” over and over again. Also they sold us some beer at like 3:30 AM which I don’t know if that’s legal in NY but it ain’t in Michigan.

     Moving from the anecdotal to the photographic evidence, you’ll find I took way too many pictures in New York so I’m going to break them up into little subcategories because I’m insane like that. First up, the festival itself.

     We arrived at the festival the next day before anyone had played, so we got a chance to walk around the relatively uncrowded grounds for a bit. The stage was at the foot of the Cyclone – a rollercoaster, and was surrounded on all sides by the rest of the Astroland amusement park.

     Enon were straight up rock and roll. I was a little bit disappointed that they used so much pre-recorded stuff, instead of actually recreating it in the live situation. Chris commented that he felt too many of their songs relied on the “Inviting the audience to dance” device. Fun.

     Peaches is insane. I’ve seen her version of a performance once before, late last year (Towards the bottom). This time she was just as offensive, if not quite as amusing. It seems each performer was given thirty minutes to do with as they saw fit, and since peaches doesn’t use a backing band, she put thirty minutes worth of backing tracks on a mini disc and had it played through the PA.

Once the promoters got an earful of what Peaches was all about, they quickly realized that scheduling her at 1 PM in an open air amusement park teeming with kids was a slightly bad idea. Somewhere in the middle of the closing chant to a song called “Fuck the Pain Away,” (The lyrics are, surprisingly enough: Fuck the pain away / Fuck the pain away”) they tried to pull her off stage. This, of course did not go over well with Peaches.

     Between lyrics, she explained to the security guard that was tentatively trying to escort her offstage that “every kid already knows it” (Referring to the word “Fuck”). After ending the song, she loudly protested to the promoters that she knew her mini-disc was under thirty minutes long and that she was going to do this last song. At this point, she climbed atop one of the P.A. speakers to avoid security, instructed anyone under 12 to plug their ears, and began a song that opened with the line “I got you suckin’ on my titties like I wanted you to.” So, that should give you an idea of what Peaches is all about. If you’re not easily offended, it makes for an extremely amusing show. If you are easily offended, then stop being easily offended. It’s lame. Bonus triviality: Peaches came through Detroit about a week later and Marilyn Manson was at the show. I have no idea a.) why he was at the show or b.) why he was in Detroit, but I don’t really care either.

     Quasi was semi entertaining. I got bored with them, but here’s some pictures for all you Sleater Kinney / Elliot Smith backing band devotees.


     Superchunk played a pretty good set, including some hits, oldies, and new songs. Complaints: They didn’t play enough off of “Indoor Living,” and their newer stuff seems to be a bit too slow-core for me. I was pretty happy with that photo of Mac mid-townsend windmill, though.


     Let’s see, who else played? Man or Astroman played but I couldn’t get close enough to take any good pictures. They seemed a bit lacklustre in the daylight, without the aid of their insane stage show. They did bring out a few dot matrix printers and had them preform a “cover version” of a MOAM song, so that was pretty cool. Also, y’know that computer voice that Radiohead used on “Fitter, Happier”..? They had the voice speak the words to a song, then pitch-shifted the result, so it sounded like that voice was singing a melody. It was their computerized lead singer, they said. So yes, if you are a huge nerd, you would have enjoyed them.

     Rainer Maria also played but I’ve seen ‘em a billion times so I walked around Coney Island instead. GBV played but I hate Bob Pollard. JSBX played but everyone was dead tired and we wanted to leave so we only saw about half of them. Two weird things that happened during the JSBX set:

  • The sound guys cranked the master level for the P.A. up by at least 50%. They were seriously ridiculously louder than any other band that played.
  • Some guy walked around handing out bottles of the most putrid soy drink ever concocted. We all ditched ours after one taste and some vegan guy came over to yell at us for dissing the vegan products. We invited him to try some and he ended up agreeing that it was pretty putrid.

     Oh did I mention it got wickedly crowded? By the time Man or Astroman? went on, it was absolutely ridiculous – shoulder to shoulder for like miles back. Below is a lame picture I took of one of the side channels that lead to a bathroom. Click here for an overhead view of the crowd at its peak, from The Village Voice’s own photos of the fest.

     I should probably mention that you should not go to Coney Island if you ever have to pee. There is seriously only one set of bathrooms, so bladderless only, please.

     Earlier at the fest we met up with our friend Andrea, who had graciously invited us to stay with her that night. Some of us stayed up until dawn drinking and talking, while others more wisely claimed prime couch and floor real estate. Andrea works as a packaging engineer and gave us all sorts of products that she got for free, like the kool aid seen below. At the time I was like, “Thanks!” but the wicked heat wave of last week coupled with the fact that that’s a LOT OF FUCKING KOOLAID prompts me to be more like “THANKS!”

     We spent Sunday in the car and got back home around 1:30ish AM.
Below is a drink that Joe bought on the way home. Don’t ever buy it. Why? Because it tastes terrible. Imagine, if you will, lining up a bunch of dudes and handing them each a piece of winterfresh gum, asking them to chew for ten minutes and then spit into a 20 Oz. bottle.

     That is what this drink tastes like: Winterfresh spit.

     Oh crap! I almost forgot the best story of all! When we were jockeying for position before Superchunk played, older Pete Wrigley from Pete and Pete talked to me! I swear to god! He was trying to get out of the crowd and we were trying to get in. When he appeared, Chris froze and frantcally tried to alert me to the fact that Pete was standing in front of me without using the word ‘Pete.’ I was, however, oblivious to his efforts. Instead of thinking “HOLY SHIT IT’S OLDER PETE WRIGLEY!” I thought “What the hell is Chris trying to say? I’ll let this guy by me since he’s going the opposite way.” And I did. And that guy was older Pete Wrigley. After I let him by, he said either “Thanks, dude” or “Thanks, man.” I forget which. It all makes sense because he’s going to college in New York.

     Next up: Touristy stuff. Below are a bunch of photos from around Coney Island that I thought were super cool and you might not. Clicking on the littler one gets you a bigger version. Imagine that!

Astroland gates.

The Cyclone rollercoaster.

Sideshows by the Seashore.

Horizon from the boardwalk.

Burger guy with rocket.

Wonder Wheel.

Fiji Mermaid, yo.

     Of special note are the real live sideshow pics which I thought were pretty awesome. We saw a guy lay on a bed of nails and put another bed of nails on top of him and have two people stand on it. Crazy!

     There was also a booth for the smallest woman in the world. You could go in and see her for a dollar. I didn’t really think about it at all, I was just all like “Take my dollar!” and then I got back there and saw her and she said hello and I felt like the biggest asshole in the world. I can’t really explain it, I just did. Not Fun!

     I forgot to mention that there is also a boardwalk and a beach. The background to this window is a picture of the beach taken from the boardwalk.

     Finally, a few other pictures that are great but I didn’t know what to do with them. The sign below was on a bumper cars booth.

     This is my favorite picture ever:

     For all your playa needs:

     A few final thoughts on the New York trip:

  • Truck stops with showers are weird.
  • It really pisses off the waitress if you win the teddy bear in the crane game that she’s been after since she’s worked there.
  • If you are me, you should really learn how to put sunscreen on. Putting it on your face so you don’t cover the whole face and you stand with one half of your head to the sun for a long rock festival results in one half of “normal face” and one half of “sunburned with imprint of your own hand on your face” face. I swear, you’re so stupid.
  • Certain parts of New York try to make their 7-11’s look “rustic.”
  • Coney dogs taste just like hot dogs everywhere else.
  • Grafitti is on every available surface. In the Coney Island area, some tags we saw on the way in were already covered when we left.

Toronto Radiohead Photos

     Some photos I took at the Toronto Radiohead show. Click for bigger versions:


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Thom giddily rocks an acoustic while fan in foreground displays appreciation.

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Mopey-looking Thom on the big screen, as seen through the camera mounted in his piano during ‘You and Whose Army?’

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Thom rocks hands-free. That little microphone-ish thing beneath his arms is one of the cameras.
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Johnny and his wall of stuff.

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A dramatically lit Thom, towards the end of the last encore.

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Ed scratches his head.

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Thom plays the organ.

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A clearer shot of Johnny and his wall of stuff.

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One more shot of Thom.

VH1 Nerds

Short Photo-centric update:

     Even though I guess I didn’t talk about it much on this site, I was totally obsessed with VH1’s ‘Bands on the Run.’ I taped every episode and even had an ‘End of Bands on the Run’ gathering of sorts. Bearing this in mind, it should come as no surprise that I went and saw Flickerstick live, and actually took some pretty good photos. Some examples:


     It was a fun show if only because I knew all the songs from T.V. That’s really kind of sad, now that I think about it. Also: Someone should condemn St. Andrew’s Hall in the summertime, because it is just ridiculous. Or alternately, they should install some sort of ventilation.

     Willy Wonka, ever the purveyor of odd candy ideas, seems to have recently decided that their ‘Nerds’ simply weren’t good enough on their own. This decision has resulted in the introduction of two products of questionable merit. The first: Nerds Gum balls. When I first saw these, the packaging was crinkled up in such a way that the ‘Gum’ part was hidden, so for a few seconds I thought Wonka had outdone even themselves in marketing a product called ‘Nerds Balls.’ Unfortunately, this was not the case.


     Turns out the whole gimmick is that the gumballs have Nerds inside, but not very many. This one had a grand total of six Nerds in the center, so I don’t know if that really justifies calling them ‘Nerds gum balls.’ The shell is all crunchy – just like the Nerds themselves, so the casual Nerds Gumball buyer probably wouldn’t even notice the presence of the nerds, which really sort of defeats the purpose of the product.

     Next up: Nerds Rope. I found this one at a gas station in Illinois back when The Recital did our weekend outing with RSB. This is a long, gummi-type string coated with Nerds.

     I really don’t know what to say about this, other than I ate the whole thing in one sitting and thought my teeth were going to fall out. Also I remember reading here that when Atom (of ‘and his package’ fame) first encountered this montrosity, he mistook the loopy ‘O’ for an ‘A,’ believing the product to be called ‘Nerds Rape,’ which is funny but also not.

     The funny part about these two products is that they’re easier to find than regular Nerds lately, which is totally lame. Totally. Other retarded Wonka products: Thrills and Xploder.

     I updated that arcade page, because I just know you were all chomping at the bit to discover what new alterations I might have made. Well quit chomping at the bit, please, because your wait is over.

     I will hopefully return soon with ridiculously photo-laden accounts of both a weekend trip with the Recital and my trek to Coney Island.

Baby Pac Man, etc

     Hey folks, this is a massive update, and for some reason, a lot of it is all video-game-core. Sorry about that. I tried to get it all out of the way at the beginning, so just sort of scroll down until it stops looking boring. If you reach the bottom before that happens, well then… crap.

     So I’m still putting a lot of effort in to remodeling this arcade cabinet that I bought for really no reason other than it keeps me occupied. In doing research for this I found some interesting stuff. Some of it is interesting because it is insane, and some of it is interesting because I am a huge dork. First, the part that is interesting because it is insane. I was looking for manuals for specific logic boards online (so I could get the schematic), and I found this. In case you had a life in high school and have no idea what to make of the text that the link leads to, it is a HUGE document dedicated to describing strategies to adopt while using ONE of the characters (Ken) in the game Street Fighter 2. A highlight:

     “Ken is the *most* versatile of the street fighters in the number of combos
that he is capable of performing. You may want to see the FAQ for a definition of a combo. It is imperative that you can buffer as well to pull off the most dangerous of the combos. If you have problems with these, remedy
it by reading the “Buffering and Combos Workbook” by Tom Cannon for a good look at how these can be done. One of Ken’s combos is covered in this guide as well.”

     Now the part that is interesting because I am a huge dork. I was trying to find out more information on the cabinet I bought, which at one time was a Super Pac Man cabinet, and I found this:

     I had never seen one of these before. Having seen one, I WANT one. Here is a description of what the deal is with Baby Pac Man:

     “One of the earliest (and only) pinball/video game hybrids, Baby Pac-Man put a new spin on the classic Pac-format. The stubby pinball field imbedded beneath a 13-inch video screen made this curious-looking machine a standout in any arcade, and the altered gameplay gave even hardened Pac-Man experts a brand-new challenge.

     The game began like any other Pac-variation. There was a small maze on the video screen, and using the joystick control, your job was to guide Baby Pac-Man through the maze, chomping power pellets and avoiding ghosts. But one difference was instantly clear: there were no energizers, those glowing little orbs that let you turn the tables on the ghostly foursome. Those had to be earned down below, on the pinball table.

     By escaping down one of the tunnels at the bottom of the screen, Baby Pac-Man entered the pinball world. Here, gameplay functioned like traditional pinball, keeping the ball in play with a pair of flippers. To earn energizers, you either had to hit the right buttons to spell “P-A-C-M-A-N” or hit the “Hoop Loop” at the top of the pinball field. Spelling “F-R-U-I-T-S” would advance the traditional Pac-Man fruit prize to its next highest level (worth more points), and spelling “T-U-N-N-E-L” increased Baby Pac’s speed when he passed through the side tunnels on the video maze.

     Unlike traditional pinball, however, Baby Pac-Man was very generous with the second chances. When the ball dropped past your flippers into the murky nothing below, all hope was not yet lost. Baby Pac-Man simply returned to the video screen, where the ghosts were waiting. But mercy came with a price. The tunnels back to pinball land were now closed, forcing Baby Pac either to finish the level or die trying. As a more pleasant alternative, you could return to the video screen without losing your escape tunnels by landing your pinball in a designated saucer.

     Every game of Baby Pac-Man began and ended on the video screen (it was the only place you could lose a life), keeping the hybrid offspring in touch with its Pac-roots. The creative design didn’t inspire too many imitators, and the pinball/video game wave turned out to be a tiny one, but this “bouncing bundle of joystick joy” was yet another landmark moment in the history of the arcade’s first true superstar.”

     So great. So now I have a new quest. To find a crapped out Baby Pac Man cabinet and make that my new project.

     Also, do you remember how everybody stopped making pinball machines a few years ago? Well they did – no one is currently manufacturing pinball machines – Star Wars Episode I was one of the last two (I forget what the very last one was). At any rate, the reason I bring that up is because it’s happening with regular video games, too. Industry giant Midway recently announced they were through with arcades. This sparked some discussion in the same places I was looking for parts, and some if it is actually kind of interesting. Some choice bits:

Point:

     “Let’s get to the *reason* arcades are like this now. When home consoles became almost as good as arcade units, people started staying home to play the same game. If an arcade game was popular, they would slam it out on a home console quickly, ruining the return on investment for the arcade, or operator, usually about the time the game hasn’t quite paid for itself yet.

     This is my #1 pet peeve of the industry. I agree that properly servicing games is a problem in many arcades. I have bought “classic”games from arcades that were not making any money and found out why. The controls were screwed up and the game was unplayable. Wanna know the reason why there are so many driving games & ticket spitters in arcades now? THEY MAKE MORE MONEY! A successful business can’t concentrate on the things that don’t make money. Any games that have an easy control that can be used on a game pad (no gun, no steering wheel, etc..) will be slammed out on a home system. You can’t really duplicate that in the home, so that’s why you see the games with complicated controls kept on site.

     If arcades got rid of all the games you want them to, they’d go broke. Redemption games (ticket spitters) are the biggest earners for arcades today. Sucks, but true. The truly unique games that don’t stay in arcades very long aren’t making enough money to stay on the floor. If every town that had an arcade had 50x the players like you, it could be different.”

Counterpoint:

     “The problem with this argument is this: Champions Arcade closed. They were doing everything ‘right’ according to you (lots of skee-ball machines and huge driving games), but they went broke and closed. I can’t know all the reasons, as I was merely a patron rather than an employee or manager, but when you consider it’s in a big mall near a high school, a mall mostly catering *to* those high school kids, turning the place into a Skeeball Paradise when the *only* games that were being played regularly were the SF sequels and pinball games (Gauntlet Legends was popular, too, but they took that out after two weeks) was the kiss of death.

     Actually, the old shoot-em-ups in the back were pretty popular, too,
but Raiden’s speakers had been squealing for months, and nobody bothered to fix it. Jojo’s Venture was being played, and they took it out. Power Stone was popular, and they took it out. Nobody at all played Zombie
Stalker, and they moved that game to the front, where it stayed until the place closed a year after they got it in.

     Now the nearest arcade to me is twenty minutes from me in the other
direction – i.e., if you start at the site of the former Champions, there are no arcades within twenty miles. They were the *only* arcade anywhere near that location, but they ignored what the patrons wanted for a Chuck E. Cheese atmosphere, and look where it got them… (Chuck E. Cheese as it exists *now*, of course – when they first opened, they used to be the best arcade of all)”

     Eric’s Trip has announced the dates for their reunion tour, and the tracklisting for the Live CD they’re pushing. I plan on going to the London show, but have a sneaking suspicion that it will sell out, as it’s closest to the states. So maybe Toronto.

     Ages ago I asked for nintendo tricks. I copied them all into a file and promptly forgot about them until now. Here they are, way late.

“Ah yes, I remember Nintendo. Blowing into the bottom of the game
cartridge a few times seemed to get ours to cooperate. You mean to tell
me modern video game systems don’t require this sort of finessing? It’s
been years since I’ve played any.” – Charlotte Makepeace

“I can’t really think of anything too extra-ordinary when it comes to NES
wizardry aside from the normal stuff: a) exhaling deeply into the bottom of
the cartridge and trying to fog-clean the malfunctions with human vapor. b)
pressing the cartridge into the system and massaging it back and forth
numerous times in hopes that it would “grasp” some kind of imaginary grooves
and work properly. (the number of massages & vapor blows kind of varied from
game to game.) Well, actually, I think I know what you mean about the
ritualism. My friend Ken used to really get into it when we were younger.
Like he’d wave cartridges around in the air, and use washclothes on the
bottoms of a lot of them. The copy of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
arcade game (or TMNT II) that he had was exceptionally temperamental.. and I
can recall him (on more than one occasion) “asking” the game if it wouldn’t
‘please work properly’. He’d start by gently caressing the game and speaking
to it in calm whispers and chides- and then move to a louder chastisement,
and then finally he’d tell the game off furiously. One time he got really
pissed (and after he gave the game *more* than what I thought was fair and
deserving reprimand) he threw it against the wall of the basement. We all
looked at each other completely shocked. Then Ken went over picked it up,
shook it off, sort of ‘apologized’ to it, blew into the bottom of it, did
the massage thing, and (with the help of the codes BABAupdownselectstart) we
were able to make it into the confines of the Technodrone, and ultimately
kick the shit out of the multiplying Shredders.” -Mustafa Banister

“Our basic Nintendo ritual was to blow on the chip of the cartridge or to
blow into the tray if things just weren’t working right. I’m sure there were others, but I can’t think of them right now.” – John Heisel

“My favorite way to make my Nintendo Entertainment System keep bringing those Battletoads to me was a fairly common practice I believe. First, it is necessary to jam the game cartridge all the way into the system, and then slowly wiggle it out to the very edge to where the cartridge will still fit, but barely. It worked everytime!! Unlike BLOWING into the cartridges which I believe does not much good.” – Nicole Stanczyk

“Trying endlessly to make my NES work is something I’ll never forget. I
remember coming home from school every day, and going through the ritual. It
was as follows:

  1. Get down on your knees and blow into the NES system until your face turns
    blood red.

  2. Blow into the bottom of the game cartridge until you’re on the verge of
    fainting.

  3. Insert cartridge into Nintendo, close Nintendo door, bang top of Nintendo
    with your hand until it finally starts working.

This usually worked. And it certainly taught me how to blow. …har har.” – Brad

“Oh man what a great topic. me and my fellow playmates(i can call them
playmates because we were 9) would take turns holding the catridge exactly 2
feet from the system and spray a cloud of lysol and run through it with the
game in tow hoping it would clean it out. we did this 3 times and then put
the game it. it worked everytime.” – Brock Kappers

“Well, of course we used the old ‘blow into the cartridge’ technique. And there
were a number of occasions when hitting the hell out of the thing worked just
fine. Also, towards the end of our systems life, we had to jam a kazoo on top
of the cartridge in order for it to work properly. Not just any kazoo, but
this big yellow one that we got at the state fair. It was the only one that
worked. We also had to slant it, like on a stack of books or something. Man,
that thing just took over our lives. I remember the first night we got
Tetris–my family stayed up until 6am trying to get past Level 3. It was
great. I suppose this won’t be all that entertaining for you, but it brought
back some nice memories.” – Mariam

“I get my system to work by placing a screwdriver exactly in the middle on top
of the game and shoving it in. Sometimes you have to giggle it a little and
blow on the game. For the most part it seems to work.” – Chris Avello

“The obvious first option was to blow into the open side of the
cartridge.  Starting from the left of the slot and ending to the
right, placing the cart back in and pressing the power button. If that did not work, the cartridge would be removed, blown into again.This time, though, the system itself would also receive a burst of wind.Insert cartridge, press button. If this still didn’t do the trick, there was a third and final method,which i like to tell myself i invented.  I would repeat the blowing procedures, as a precaution, and insert the cartridge into the slotalmost completely, leaving approximately 1/2 inch sticking out ofthe cart bay.  I would then force the cart down, fighting the friction of the excess 1/2 inch. This usually did the trick. Of course… I should have just always done the third method but that wouldn’t have been half as fun.  I’ve had this conversation with friends a million times, and everyone’s got their own tricks. Hilarity!” – Chris

“I know you posted a few days ago about the Nintendo aid tricks…and I
wanted to share mine. heh. I think it’s what everyone did though.

  • step 1- take out game cartridge…blow in the ridge thingy (you know what i’m
    talking about, right?).

  • step 2- blow in the actual system.
  • step 3- place game back in system…popping it up and down a couple times,
    before finally pressing power.

I think I remembered that correctly. it’s been a while. Anyway…I’m
curious to see what you do with this information.” – Cathleen

“I don’t exactly recall, but I think I remember in 6th grade my friend, nick,
insisting that we close all the windows and turn off all the lights before
opening the door on the NES. then of course, more typcial NES maintenance
occured (a few swift blows into the cartridge, a gentle swabbing with a
spit-soaked q-tip, a quick half depressing of the spring activated loading
dock before the full insertion of the cartridge) and well as the golden
rule: never never turn on the tv before the game was inserted and nintendo
was on. These were Nick’s techniques, but I engaged in them wholeheartedly,
so I suppose they’re mine too.

I hope this helps.

ps. how cool was lifeforce?! the shooter where you played the spaceship that
went inside a giant aliens body to disable he major organs and thus save all
of civilization (kind of like fantastic voyage star trek style)? and how
impossible was zelda 2? my dumbass was thoroughly defeated and humiliated by
that game…” – Paul Bissa

     Awhile back I asked about those lame birthday songs that some restaurants have because I was trying to figure out which place had a certain one. Here is what I got in response:

     “Bill Knapp’s didn’t believe in actual lyrics when I worked there, and probally still don’t for that matter, but they did have a Birthday Button which you would press and the birthday song would play over the speakers like really bad elevator music. I just wonder if when the manger was running over
the layout of the restaurant with the architect he was like “Dude where did you put the Birthday Button?” Seeing such a blue print with an arrow and the words ‘Birthday Button’ would make my week.” – Rich G.

     “Rio Bravo’s birthday song: cumpleanos feliz! cumpleanos feliz! feliz cumpleano from rio, cumpleanos feliz! Actually, it IS the birthday song, but in spanish. oops.” – Aimee

     “Italian Oven (Mt. Pleasant, MI) and no…I never had to sing it.
(sung to the tune of It’s Amore)
when the moon hits your eye
like a big pizza pie
Its your birthday
and your friends take you out
and they make sucha fuss over you
special wishes its true from the Oven to you with amore
excuse the huss for the fuss but we’d just like to say happy birthday” – Mike G.

     Applebees’ brithday song: “This song had a leader/follower thing going (rythmic clapping accompanies this of course).

Applebee’s is fun it’s true
Applebee’s if fun it’s true
Especially when we sing for you
Especially when we sing for you
Good news is we sing for free
Especially when we sing for you
Especially when we sing for you
Good news is we sing for free
Good news is we sing for free
Bad news is they sing off key
Bad news is (s)he sings off key
Sound off
Happy
Sound off
Birthday
Sound off
Happy birthday to you.” – Carrie

     …this last one was the one I was looking for. Read through it to get the rythmic effect, and you’ll notice how uninterested someone singing that last part sounds. It’s like the employees aren’t even interested in making you happy that it’s your birthday, but rather they’re trying to squeeze the most embarrasment potential out of the moment. SO the birthday person is all “HA HA HA I TOLD THEM NOT TO!” on the outside but on the inside they’re subconciously thinking “What a horrible song. They don’t even mean it.” Or something like that. It’s hard to describe how crappy the ending of that Applebee’s birthday song made me feel for the person it was being sung to. Annnnnyway.

     A few questions on the off chance that anyone I don’t know is reading this:

  • Hey artsy fartsy types: How can I get a graphic file onto a slide (ie for a projector)? Is there an easier way than printing it out and taking a picture? I will owe you a seriously wicked helping of gratitude if you figure this out for me.
  • Hey publishing types. I’m looking into the possibility / feasability of doing a small run of a hardbound book. Does anyone know anything about this? Yes, I’ve seen the McSweeney’s Introduction on the topic, but I don’t feel like paying to have mine shipped from Iceland. So any North American recommendations will be much appreciated.

Chris O. sent me a link to this auction. I don’t know if he found the link from another page or if he was just searching ebay for “poop pens,” but either way, here it is.

Brief rant about car stereo things (at least it’s not video game related):

     So I was ALLLL ABOUT getting a CD player put in my car this weekend. I’ve been driving around for a few months with nothing but the radio – no tape player, even. I already had a perfectly good CD player sitting at home, but my car is a newer model escort, and the ford engineers on these cars decided: “Let’s combine the radio and AC into one panel so that people will either have to pay a ton of money for a Ford CD player or deal with an immense pain in the ass when trying to put in a non ford CD player.” So I drove around all Saturday looking for a place to sell me this replacement faceplate that still has the Ford AC controls but not the radio controls, and of course everyone was all out of them. I eventually found one, and after briefly considering attempting to put it in myself, drove up to the nearest Car Stereo place. It was here that I dealt with the mystified stares of salesfolk who simply could not understand the fact that I did not even in my wildest dreams of excess WANT an amplifier for my trunk or the hottest new speakers or a CD player with a dvd screen that pops out [Great idea by the way, lets encourage drivers to WATCH MOVIES]. Just take this faceplate, and this stereo that NO, doesn’t have an animation of a dolphin swimming screensaver, BUT it DOES work and it’s PAID FOR. Now, please install them in my car and charge me an insane amount of money because I’m too lazy to do it, and I’d probably end up screwing a few things up and I just want it done today for god’s sake. Thank you.

     At any rate, while I was sitting in front of this place and my car was in the garage getting a stereo transplant, there was this couple sitting there too. They had a tricked out New VW bug, with detailing and speakers and amps on servo motors, etc. Apparently their “thing” to do on weekends was drive their bug (also, it was yellow) to these car stereo places, park out front, plug it in to a wall jack, and sit there while all the employees and customers drooled over their car. All day long. I was being taken care of pretty close to closing time, so soon this couple starting packing things up. Then they tried to start the car,a nd it wouldn’t start because the battery was dead, because one of the garage folk had tripped over the extension cord at some point during the day. So naturally, they tried to push start it right into the middle of a busy 5 lane road, without taking the position of the transmission into account. It was hard not to laugh at them.

     Anyway, the whole reason i bring this story up is because I was looking for a place to order that damn faceplate online and I found this which is absolutely f’ing nuts.

     What it is, basically, is a hard drive that’s encased in a car stereo. You can slide it out of the dash and into a drive bay in your PC, and if you install a big enough hard drive you could theoretically have every CD you own in your car stereo at once. So crazy.

     Adam and Jenny have pointed out to me that there is good, funny song about Bjork and physics. It can be heard by clicking here.

     What you are looking at, here, is a candycane that was hanging on the side of an enclosure that was housing cactii. Some ants decided: “Shit! let’s get that sugary part of that there candy cane, a little bit at a time so Adam doesn’t notice ’till we’ve damn-near hollowed the fucker out!” And they did. So it’s kind of like an ant farm, but in a candy cane. Kind of. Festive! Science! Festive Science!


     I will be here this weekend. I can only hope to witness the absurdity that is the chengwin.

Unaddressed Complaints

Dear test I just took:
     I hate you. The last test was all things I knew how to do. Actually, so are you but you have stupid TRICKS thrown in to screw me up. I got a 98 on the last test, which was a WAY better test than you are. Why did you have to have a stupid TRICK in EVERY problem? It makes it difficult to get a 98 when I am unable to finish ANY of the three problems because of your UNCALLED FOR TRICKS. Why couldn’t you be more like the last test? I hate you.

     Best wishes,

     Adam.

     This is the best thing I’ve ever come up with, ever: If Steven Spielberg ever has a double feature, it should be A.I. and E.T. After the double feature, the people would go home. The next day, the people who went to the double feature would have friends who would ask “How was that double feature?” And the people would say, “Oh, it was AIET.” Get it?

Speaking of A.I. here are a few things I’d like to say:

1. Chris Rock Cameo.

Dear Steven,
     First of all, thank you for E.T. I had a brown E.T. shirt when I was little and I liked it a lot. Secondly, In case you were wondering what would be a good way to kill every last trace of suspension of disbelief that might be lingering in an audience, it would be to give Chris Rock a cameo as a robot in a sci-fi film that otherwise takes itself way seriously. And also, have that be the only reference to present-day pop-culture in the entire film so it sticks out like a sore thumb (Except for the statue of liberty thing which was also a bit questionable). Yep thanks.

2. Ass-tastic ending.

STANLEY KUBRICK’S GHOST: Here you go, Steve, a perfect ending. Giftwrapped even. Now just fade to black….

STEVEN SPIELBERG: Hot damn! I still have enough money left over for a half hour’s worth of half-assed CGI inserts! Cha-Ching!

STANLEY KUBRICK’S GHOST: …aw shit.

Dear Steven,
     Why the HELL did you not fade to black after the long shot of the helicopter frozen in ice? Is it even possible for someone to overlook the fact that that was a PERFECT ending? Even the audio would have been perfect. You could have had that narrator guy say “..and the next day… and the next day…” etc and slowly fade him out, perhaps even in unison with the fading picture. But no, you had to go and envision a distant future ON TOP of the distant future you had already envisioned. That white cube-ish space ship? Crap. Those lame looking “aliens?” Crap. I was even going to overlook the neon-covered motercycle guys and that stupid ‘band’ you felt it necessary to put in there, but thanks to that abysmal ending, you are now obligated to accept full blame. I hate you, Steven Spielberg, and also I hate your stinking neon.

P.S. Remember how you referenced Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrission) in E.T.? And now Chris Rock? What the hell is your deal?

     My puppy ate a wasp. This resulted in a sore mouth and hopefully the knowledge that eating wasps is very stupid to do.

KNIFES, STUFANIMALES

     The other day I was discussing a restaurant with a friend and she was telling me how it was her birthday when she went, so we started talking about different restaurant chains’ default birthday songs / chants.

     Then I got them all mixed up. So, if you work at a restaurant that participates in this “Sing a lame birthday song that isn’t ‘The Birthday Song'” ritual, I would just be thrilled if you’d send me the lyrics to the song and the name of the restaurant that is to blame. Or if you’d like to sing it to me in person and / or via a sound file or something suitably nerdy like that, then that is also allowed.

     I’ve put up my 100% uninteresting account of fiddling around with an arcade machine here. This is a work in prgress, mind. I plan on adding additional content that will be even MORE uninteresting!

     Quick story: I had just taken a shower and was walking past a TV to my room. The TV was on and no one was watching it. As I walked by, I totally got sucked into this soap opera that was on, but only for roughly 2 minutes. Some dude was pretending to forget an anniversary and his lady was getting all distressed and then he proposed marriage and I was like “Way to go, dude!” in my head and then I realized I was half naked and cheering on a guy on a soap opera, so I almost cried.

Three quick Barnes and Noble things:

  1. A little kid pooped his pants while standing right next to me the other day. Oh the smell. He even told his dad he had to go to the bathroom VERY BADLY, but the dad wasn’t having any of that, he was all busy thumbing through Foghat and Journey CD’s. After awhile the intense fumes wafted over to the F – J section and dad took junior to the boys room to ‘clean up.’
  2. I don’t care how meticulously organized your purse is, when you are done paying for something, please do not take an hour reorganizing your key /change pouch or alphabetizing your stamps. The person behind you hates you because you’re wasting their time, and I hate you because I have to stand there all awkward and watch you do it AND watch the person behind you hating you. Thank you.
  3. So there was this hippie guy with long hair and rose colored glasses (for real) sitting in one of the easy chairs next to this hippie looking girl. They have all these mysticism and universe meaning bullshit books spread out on the table in front of them. The long haired guy is pontificating on the meaning of life or some other such crap as only “guys who think just because they have long hair they are universe experts” can. He was doing these slow hand gestures to convey the very deep implications of his speech, and I was snickering at him. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, he removed his rose colored glasses, and started to put them on her in this really slow, gross, pseudo-sensual way. I wasn’t close enough to them to hear but I choose to believe he made some stupid comment about seeing things his way now or something lame like that. Then they left all smiling, because they were probably going to have hippie sex.

  4. Update! I’ve been informed that I spelled ‘hippie’ wrong above. It’s fixed now. You have my deepest apologies.

     So there is a Meijer superstore by my house. In the lobby of these superstores, there is often an area and / or bulliten board where patrons are encouraged to leave ads for things they are selling. There is some insane guy who frequents this Meijer and leaves insane ads on the board. Last October there was one that advertised “KNIFES, STUFANIMALES” and had his phone number. I took it with the intention of photographing it and putting it up here, but I lost it. At any rate, everytime I go there, he’s put up some new gem. Here is the one I found yesterday:

     I wonder if he gets people who buy both ‘prayers books’ AND ‘playboys magazine.’

Busdrivers singing sad songs

Another vivid dream:

     I was with my friend, and we met this guy who drove busses full of old people to casinos. He insisted that we eat with him, so he took us to this raftish sort of thing floating in a river. On the raftish thing was a grill and an electric piano. He cooked us fish and sung us sad songs. Then he told us he had to go to work and that he would give us a ride home in his bus. So we got on the bus, and several other empty busses showed up. He told us that they were going to follow him to the nursing home. So he started driving. To break the silence, he started telling us a story about this girl he used to know up north who he would only see during summers. Just as he was getting beyond the “Set-up” part of the story, he pulled up to my house. He kept telling the story, though, and all the busdrivers behind him got pissed when they realized he was staying put for the time being, and they drove off. Then, I woke up, so he never got to finish his story, but from what I could tell it was going to be a sad one. And also, those dream bus-drivers all got pissed at him for no reason.

     Unless he finished telling the story to the dream version of my friend, in which case, they had a reason to be pissed. Or maybe my friend woke up at the very same time and the bus driver was all “Damn! they woke up. Next time…” Or maybe after I woke up, the dream version of my friend and the busdriver went back to their dressing rooms and took off their costumes and make-up and waited around while the dream stage crew tore down the set to set up for tommorrow night’s dream. DAMN YOU, SUBCONCIOUS!

     You are aware I have a new puppy, yes? No? I have a new puppy. There, now you are. I am trying to teach him a new trick. It is called “Not waking up at five AM everyday wanting to play.” When he learns this trick I will be so, so happy.

This is a ticket to see Radiohead:

It makes me a happy camper. How to get a ticket to see Radiohead:

  1. Order it from ticketmaster canada online. They will not mail you your ticket. You will have to pick it up at a canadian ticketmaster.

  2. Print out your confirmation number.
  3. Look around for the location of the Windsor ticketmaster.
  4. Find this: “Please note: The Windsor Ticket Centres are operated by Ticketmaster Michigan, and therefore carry a higher service charge and distance fee for Canadian events. They are able to sell for events in Ontario in addition to Michigan and Ohio, but handle no Western Canada tickets. These Ticket Centres also do not offer ticket pickup – they cannot print any telephone or Internet orders. Please see the Windsor Listing at the U.S. Ticketmaster site for information.”
  5. Curse your stupid brain for assuming that a ticketmaster that is IN CANADA is a Canadian ticketmaster. Come on, brain! How stupid can you be? Go anyway.

  6. Arrive at 5:07 when they close at 5:00.
  7. Go the next day.
  8. Have them print your internet order, no questions asked.

  9. Three cheers for the organization of ticketmaster!

     This is a maxipad that was stuck to my driver’s side window Sunday morning two weeks ago:

     It said “I have a super-absorbant mind… do YOU?” but it doesn’t anymore, because i put it in my pocket, and when i emptied my pocket to wash my pants, it stuck to the bottom because it’s all sticky on one side. So it went through the wash then got dried in the dryer. It doesn’t look like either cycle affected it much, but then I’m no maxipad scientist. I totally forgot about it until I put those pants on again and found it today. I’m assuming it was a girl who put it on my car, but i’m basing that assumption on the fact that the handwriting was way girly. And also on the fact that it is a maxipad. So, whomever put the maxipad on my car two Sundays ago, thank you, because I love me a good mystery. Unless you are the one who did it and want to tell me, because in that case, screw the mystery, I wanna know.

Fluid Jumpkicks

A really vivid dream I had:

     I was a cocaine dealer, and I was dealing cocaine out of my pocket, and by that I mean the cocaine wasn’t in a plastic bag or anything, it was just in my pocket. When people would buy my cocaine, I would just reach in my pocket and take out a handful and kind of dump it in their hand. So I’m this cocaine dealer and I’m at a hotel. There’s this guy in a suit who has a cell phone in one hand and a laptop in the other, and he’s talking to another guy in a dark suit. All of a sudden, the guy who the laptop guy was talking to pulls a knife. Naturally I run up, and in one fluid motion, jump in the air and kick the knife, cell phone, and laptop out of their respective hands. I let the knife fall to the ground, but I grab the cellphone and laptop. AT this point the two guys in suits decided to team up against me. I run into the parking garage where my friend is mysteriously waiting with a getaway car. He takes off down the road. A few minutes later, the cell phone rings. I answer it. “Look to your left,” says the guy on the other end. So we do and the guys in suits are pulling up next to us. At this point I yell “Go! Go! Go!” like people do in action movies, and my friend blows the red light. We go back to my friend’s apartment, and sit around nervously. There is a knock at the door. It’s the guys in suits, but now they are our friends!? What happened, dream? That makes no sense! Now I go to the bathroom, and while I’m going I’m thinking, “They can have their cell phone back, but I get to keep their laptop.” When I come out of the bathroom the suit guys are gone, they took back their phone AND the laptop, and also they stole my friend. Then I woke up. CURSE YOU, SUBCONCIOUS!

     I forgot to say this above but if you’re one of those people who is all into dream meaning and all that psychology crap, tell me what that means, except if it means I’m crazy, in which case please continue not contacting me for any reason.

     I was at the library the other day and this random 7-ish year old boy comes up to me and looks at me and then does that whole “Wait a minute! I think I know that person, let me do a weird half stutter step sideways thing so I can look again and be sure” thing. And apparently he still thought he knew me, because after the second check-out he was like “Hey!” and waved. So I said “Hi” and did sort of a half wave because I didn’t want to be rude, but I had never seen that boy before in my life. Then he walked away.

This is very tempting.

More later. Busy, Busy.

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