For my inaugural Blog post, I thought I’d bring you all up to speed on who I am and what I’m about.
Let’s start here.
I’m a man of many identities. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m no Sybil. But over the course of my life, I’ve been on the receiving end of my fair share of nicknames.
When I was a young scamp, I was Vacation Man. I literally hunted down the recreation schedules of an entire bloodline (Aunts, Uncles, illegitimate offspring) and stealthily vaulted the proverbial velvet rope, inserting myself within the confines of the ancestral itinerary. You’re no doubt familiar with the Home Alone formula, where a slapdash journey to destinations unknown results in one child left at home. In my case, my relatives’ slapdash journey usually ended in one child too many. The only tool of my trade was the ability to grab hold of their personal data organizers – granted this was the Neolithic 70′s, so you had two choices: persuade a kindly pterodactyl to jot it all down on stone or secure an Etch-a-Sketch and get to work knob-spinning. From there it was just a simple matter of turning on the precocious waterworks and next thing you know — Sayonara Springfield! Hola Oahu! (Or North Conway, New Hampshire to be specific, which as the natives will attest, is commonly referred to as the Emerald of the North Atlantic.)
Vacation Man begat Movie Man. I would hunt down any feature my pre-pubescent peepers could spy. Back in those days, television pickings were slim, so one had to make do with the weekending dose of Creature Double Feature. When cable made its first tentative steps into the neighborhood, Movie Man was enticed with the choice of HBO or Starcase. The $79.95 monthly fee granted you 10.5 miles of cable piped into, throughout and enveloping your home all ending in a two-ton brick perched atop your television which you controlled with a remote that was one step down from Pong Paddle on the evolutionary chart of such gizmos.
But it was the name Game Boy that truly defined me. (Dear Nintendo: I’ve waited oh-so patiently for that long overdue royalty check.) I was ensnared in the video game web securely and through the years – I’ve had it all.
Beginning with the Atari 2600, with its faux-wood panel design that just screams “Born Again Station Wagon,” many hours of my youth were spent bathed in the halogen glow as I put Pitfall Harry through his paces. And while much merriment was had, it was the real world lessons learned that were truly priceless.
I’ve watched countless hours of Crocodile Hunter, and not once have I heard Steve Irwin mention the universal fact that if one is ever lost in the jungle and encounters a tar pit, just wait a few minutes for it to close before attempting to cross.
And alligators! Here’s a handy survival tip. Unbeknown to most, they always travel in packs of three and conveniently open and shut their mouths in synchronicity, allowing one to deftly time pixel-perfect jumps in order to cross to the other side. As if that weren’t enough, they make a great source of transportation for that lucky frog that happens to survive the 150-yard dash across 18 lanes of highway hell only to encounter a bustling swamp on the other side.
So Atari played its role in my formative years and was followed by other systems.
In the aftermath of a house fire, which saw a great stretch of my living room torched and my beloved Atari thoroughly melted into a puddled fondue of plastic, our family met with an insurance adjustor who was interviewing the family and documenting the loss of property in order to process the reparations. When asked what this molten mass was, my nine-year-old brain quickly deduced the true way in which the world worked and offered, “That, my good chap, was a ColecoVision.” With a knowing nudge from my Dad, ColecoVision made its way to home and heart within a few short months.
Of all these pixel-perfect memories, none stands taller than the day I encountered
The Legend of Zelda on the Nintendo Entertainment System. Before Zelda, with its strange new landscape of magic and mystery, games were relegated to the “Plumber Jumps on Winged Turtle” genre of electronic entertainment (an obvious byproduct of the 70′s French New Wave movement in cinema). Now, before me, lay a gleaming gold cartridge.
Gold? Aren’t cartridges typically dull gray? What is this remarkable treasure?
Rumor has it, a pre-pubescent Flava Flav was so enthralled, he melted 16 of them down to form that marvelous grill of his.
Anyway, that game, with its mythic locales, brutal boss fights and, most importantly, fiendishly clever dungeon puzzles, drained many a day of its hourglass sand. You produce a new Zelda game and I don’t care where I am (work, grocery shopping, neurosurgery) — I’m dropping everything and heading back to Hyrule.
Of course, it’s not always fun and games.
So there I am, a few years ago, playing Super Mario Sunshine for the Nintendo Gamecube — reveling in the nostalgia and just feeling every ounce of masculinity drip from my soul — when pure frustration grips me and I decide to drown my dino familiar, Yoshi, in the drink. For I have been tasked by the people of Isla Luigi or Mario-pelego or some damn thing to find their Shines, all 120 star-like baubles, that have been stolen by the evil Bowser once again. The thing is, every time I go into a town, I spy some chatty crab or friendly octopus who just so happens to have a Shine, but won’t give it to me until I have done some random errand.
I love watermelons. They’re my most favorite-ess fruit. Please bring me the biggest
melon you can find and you can have this Shine.
Do you realize I’m in the process of trying to save your worthless butt and all you can think of is produce? You give me that damn shine right this minute or I’m gonna get all Koopa on your… (Sorry. I get a little emotional. Where was I?)
WE’RE SORRY MARIO … BUT YOUR PRINCESS IS IN ANOTHER CASTLE!!!
Are you friggin’ kidding me? ANOTHER CASTLE? This is the 5th friggin’ castle I’ve been in this week!!!
But that’s why I keep playing. There’s always another castle round the riverbend.