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Dad
Sep 16th, 2021 by Ice Cream Jonsey

My father’s memorial was this past weekend.

One of the earliest memories I have of my father was when he packed the family into the car to visit a dealership on a Sunday. On Sunday the regular salesmen were not there, so he was able to freely look at the new automobiles in peace.

An extremely large guy named Stu lumbered over while Dad was driving us around the lot. “Hey there,” said the big fella, “I’m Stu, I’m from the dealership down the street.” He spoke with my dad for a few minutes about cars, which my father could do with anyone. It was a little unethical to walk a competitor’s lot on a day off.

“Well, here’s my card,” said Stu, eventually, all jolly at maybe poaching a sale. “Come on down to our lot next week.” My dad took the card.

“Stu,” my father said, repeating the guy’s name.

“That’s right,” Stu said, “Just come on in and ask for Stu!”

Dad then he turned to the back seats where my brother and I sat. He was grinning. “BEEF STU!!” he said to us. And then he did a thing he did many times, he cackled like a man possessed.

* * *

My father married the prettiest girl in town, my mom, in Portville, New York. They were married in 1965. We never knew how he managed to swing that, as he had a nose like a troll straight out of the Monster Manual. He wasn’t always like that, he told us that when he was young he was at a bar and was leaving and someone just shut the door in his face and broke it. Many years later, like when we were in our forties, he told us that he was actually in a bar fight. My brother almost developed the same nose – when he was probably 12 years old, he was trying to catch a football in the backyard. My brother was focused on the pass and it went into his hands and then – BAM! – he busted his own nose on the above-ground swimming pool that was our next door neighbor’s.

My dad waited a few days and then asked Mike a question he would ask people many times.

“Hey Mikey, does your face hurt?”

Mike said no, it didn’t.

“Well it’s KILLING ME!”

* * *

As much as he liked cars he disliked bad management. He worked 25 years for Kodak before he went into business for himself selling cars. One year, rather than give people interesting work or raises or more time off, Kodak was trying to demonstrate some ill-conceived fake concern from upper management about how all the blue collar workers would be more efficient if they knew more about each other. I guess in the 1980s the hucksters could extract money for their snake oil solutions that way.

So Dad and everyone else he worked with was in a conference room when the consultants, trying to illustrate their point said, “Even though every one of you drive on the same roads to come in here, none of you know what any of the rest of you even drive to work!” At that point my dad raised his hand.

“I do!” And he went around the room, pointing to every person there. “1982 Chrysler Cordoba! 1981 Toyota Tercel! 1983 Volkswagon Rabbit!” He did this for every person there. He had no patience for phonies and even less for dumb bureaucracy. He never easy to manage and he actually reported to my brother for the last ten years of his working life and I have to give him credit for creating the one manager at work that could handle him.

* * *

I saw my dad break down twice. The first was when he had to put our first dog, an Irish setter named Ginger down. The second was when my mom got sick about three years ago. He loved my mom so much, his big goofy face would light up every time she called when we were out. A few years after Ginger died he did get us a puppy, a cocker spaniel named Corky. We got him one summer after he asked us to help clear the tangled mess of land out back from our home. He woke us up a couple weeks into summer vacation from school and told us that we had to dig up weeds and haul away all the overgrown vegetation.

“You two won’t have to do it by yourself,” he said.

Well, that doesn’t sound so bad then. But what did he mean by that? Would we have help?

“You’ll have some help from our south of the border friend, Manual Labor!” And then that cackle again.

* * *

He died with us holding his hand. My beautiful wife, in what was just pure coincidence, bought me a ticket home the weekend he died. He was surrounded by his family.

My father bought us a computer for Christmas, it changed my life. I work on a computer every day of my life, I knew I wanted to be a programmer when I was 12 years old. He brought home a modem which I used to get on-line, where I met some of my best friends to this day, where I am typing this now. He figured out a loophole to get me into Syracuse and after college my friends had all moved to Colorado where I joined them, started my career and met my wife.

I’m an engineering manager and in this field, nobody exactly gives you a manual on how to do your job. You start working there before other people in your group and just sort of get to manage the ones hired later. If I am good at it at all, the only thing I have over anyone else in my position is that I got a first class education in the bad management my father observed for 20 years. I know what not to do. He went to work every day doing things he couldn’t have enjoyed to help my brother and I grow up and achieve everything we’ve accomplished. Everything I have in life I owe to my mom and dad. I miss him every day and every day that I wake up I remember again that he’s gone.

M dad had something he always said about the future, something that always brought a smile to us. It was his best philosophic observation. “I can’t wait for tomorrow,” he would say, “because I get better-looking every day.”


Bob Sherwin
My dad
1944-2021

Our Visit to Arkadia Retrocade
Apr 10th, 2021 by Ice Cream Jonsey

Flack's former Commando game, yesterday

I’m not going to be able to do justice to the incredible experience that is Shea Mathis’s arcade, Arkadia Retrocade. My wife surprised me with a trip to Fayetteville, Arkansas this previous weekend and on Tuesday we were able to say hello and take in the wonder that is this place. I don’t know how the pandemic has been going for you, but I’ve had a substandard one, so this trip was much appreciated. I also got jabbed to hell a while ago because I donned a tiger costume and sat with my hiney in the air in the Bronx Zoo, awaiting my vaxx shot with Harvey Weinstein and O.J., and every other American criminal they were testing multiple times a year ago as the rest of us chumps obeyed the law and had to figure out if we had it or not by the science of “guessing.”

(But first! Wait, before anything else I’d like to recommend a couple articles that my friend Flack wrote so that you can get additional perspectives. Ok, then come back here.)

Flack is also important to this story because we got into Fayetteville and then drove to Oklahoma City to see Flack and his wife Susan. We were at an arcade in OKC called Up/Down and I can contrast these two arcades as follows: At Up/Down, a barcade, the pedal was constantly depressed for the blue driver in “Ironman” Ivan Stewart’s Offroad game and the girls in the game were in bikinis. At Arkadia Retrocade, a regular or “non-alcoholic” arcade, the setting was active to put the girls in dresses because it’s more of a family friendly place and the only thing depressed was me before I got inside.

It’s not possible to be depressed inside Arkadia Retrocade, and it’s the best arcade I’ve ever been to in my life.

I first met Shea in 2012 at the Oklahoma Video Game Expo and he was talking about the arcade that he was going to create. If ever one man was going to be a success in a difficult field through pure energy, enthusiasm and force of personality, it was Shea and this arcade of his. And I am delighted to say that — after getting a few hours to experience it — he did it. He realized the dream. I think every one that starts collecting games has an idle wish to one day open an arcade, but for most of us we get derailed. Not Shea and not here. In addition to games, the pure amount of retro items is almost overwhelming once you’re inside.

But yeah, as soon as you walk in you’ll see the full size cabinet of Donkey Kong! Donkey Kong Jr.! Pengo! Paperboy! Crystal Castles! A cocktail Popeye in one corner. Satan’s Hollow along a row of classics. I couldn’t decide what to play first. Tony Temple wrote a great book on Missile Command that is heavy with lunatics. MC was on my mind due to his book and I think that was the first game I had to try. It had been a little while since I played Missile Command and it holds up so well, unlike the descending nuclear missiles in every game manned by me of Missile Command.

There is interesting detail everywhere inside the building. A local artist created a huge mural along the back wall of the second area, but to even get to that point you’ll pass so many items that will make people in my generation go, “Ooh, I had that!” or if you grew up in my town something like, “Oh, I had that, but then that piece of trash in my grade stole it when I brought it to school!” There are mini handheld arcade games on walls (the ones that Coleco made, I think? You know the ones) and Shea also has the first trackball (“trak-ball”) that I had ever encountered, the Atari 2600 one. A lifelong obsession! These are a few items but there’s hundreds if not thousands of similar items everywhere on the walls and on shelves.

But I love this view as you look over the second area in Arkadia. I didn’t bring my camera because we were on a “Frontier” flight, the airline that enlists pictures of wild animals in dark patterns to try to get you to pay them hundreds of extra dollars for this new invention called “luggage” which I guess the CEO of Frontier thinks is a fad. So these are phone pics that don’t represent me as an artist. You walk past this doorway and you get to see dozens more arcade games, the weird and obscure stuff, all ready for you at the bottom of a long walkway. If the new area was the entire arcade it would be worth it. The space on both levels is used really well, too – at no point did my wife or I think we were cramped. (That would have changed if I had gotten her in the Environmental Discs of Tron at AK, but I already played that card years ago in Colorado. And, well, she’s not stupid. She’s not falling for that again. Even though to me the absolute height of comedy is having Sark chortle at a now-angry game player awkwardly trying to expunge themselves from Environmental Discs of Tron after playing it badly and failing, you don’t do that to someone when you get married. It showed up in our vows.)

I’ve been interested in arcade games for a long time and had many of them fall on me and Arkadia had games that I had never heard of. It would have been a delight to have them fall on me, crushing my bones to powder as I said, “I didn’t know about this game. This is incredibly painful.”

I got one wish. There’s one thing I wish! The only thing I wish is that I had some way to represent Arkadia out where I live with various forms of swag. Shirts, mugs, hats, that kind of thing. I know that small business owners get a zillion people telling them what they should do, so that’s not me here doing that, just reiterating that America wants to shows its love for the Arkadia Retrocade. We had a great time and I’m trying to figure out when we can return.

Shea, thanks for everything!

The Importance of Wearing a Mask To Conceal Identity: Ripped From Yesterday’s Headlines
Jan 16th, 2021 by Ice Cream Jonsey

Wear a mask, dummy There are starting to be jokes written about how the traitors that tried to overthrow the government on January 6th, 2021 are all getting caught in part due to the fact that none of the dipshits wore masks. When I was a kid my brother and I would watch the G.I. Joe cartoon or read the comic book and it’s impressive how many Cobra agents wore masks or otherwise were difficult to identify.

Cobra Commander: TWO masks – either a cloth one or a metal helmet.
Destro: entire face permanently encased in malleable, yet identity-concealing metal.
Storm Shadow: wore a mask and usually kept distinctive tattoos covered.
Zartan: can change his face at any time. How do you prosecute a man like this?
Scar-Face: called Scar-Face because he literally had scars all over his face and wore a bandana because he knew he was an eyesore.
Scrap-Iron: wore one of those Ricky Williams-style helmets so you couldn’t see his eyes.
RaptorCroc MasterFirefly… these are all masked terrorists that took precautions.

 

That leaves The Baroness, sure, but she at least had the “Clark Kent glasses” thing if she wanted. But alas, there is… Major Bludd.

Major Bludd just had an eye patch but no real mask or identity covering. The eye patch was medicinal. He wore the same clothes at work or if he was off the clock. One of the early issues of the comic book had a scene where two G.I. Joes — Stalker and Grand Slam — had to take a bus somewhere and Major Bludd happened to get on the bus at the same time. I would now like to post one of my favorite comic panels ever:

Image

In this panel, a terrorist that is very much not wearing a mask got his jaw kicked in and broken like a bitch by a real American hero. It is important to know that Stalker and Grand SlamĀ would not have identified Major Bludd if Bludd had simply worn a mask like his co-workers did when engaged in his anti-American terrorism. But Bludd didn’t wear a mask during his terrorism because he is a fucking moron. If this issue took place in the present day rather than the 1980s, it would be perfectly in character for Bludd to have been on his way to negotiate a group rate for all Cobra contractors and employees with Foursquare.

Buffalo Sabres 2021 Home Opener
Jan 15th, 2021 by Ice Cream Jonsey

Just some opening day thoughts from someone who followed hockey very closely from the late 80s to the early 00s and then fell away from the game and is attempting to get back into it. I am sure these thoughts will be as insipid as hell six months from now.

The Sabres played the Capitals to an empty crowd last night to start the 2021 season. I think I can inline a tweet that has an image of Victor Olofsson’s beautiful goal (and Taylor Hall was AS ADVERTISED, best Sabre on the ice to the point where it was obvious as I am still memorizing the jersey numbers and it was clear just how good he is).

My favorite player growing up was Mark Recchi, who was a right winger that had a left shot and I have memories of Recchi sniping just like in the video above. Hockey Reference lists Olofsson as a right winger, but everything I had read leading up to that was that Olofsson was a left winger… I dunno. He looks DEADLY right there. I’m still trying to figure out how important the right wing and left wing spots are.

I didn’t really see Jeff Skinner at all last night. Clearly we don’t know what is going on with him and the Sabres coach (Ralph Krueger). Skinner is on the fourth line — on the third line at LW was Tobias Reider, who I had unfortunately not heard of before I saw the opening lineups last night. Again, my bad, but Jesus. Skinner is clearly in coach Ralph Krueger’s doghouse. What else could it be? Skinner is making $9 million a year to put the puck in the net, why he wouldn’t get paired with wunderprospect Dylan Cozens I have no idea. I just don’t know!!

Eric Staal had a turnover that was pretty costly but when I go back into the office again for the first time in however many months I’m sure I’m going to screw up too and microwave fish or something. (I’m sure my co-workers loved the weekly curry deliveries.) One of the goals the Capitals scored was an empty netter at the end, so really the game was 5-4 going into the last minute – Krueger pulled the goalie with like 4 minutes left and it paid off. Pulling the goalie that early was a new strategy for me, for some reason I thought it just got done in the last minute but with the Sabres down two goals with 4 minutes left it made sense.

This game wasn’t a moral victory or anything but it was entertaining enough to watch. And the Sabres play the Caps again tonight. One of the things I tried to do for myself is learn a little bit about who Buffalo is playing. I knew the Caps won the Cup in 2017-2018 but the pre-game show for the Caps implied that the coach was a different guy — the Caps won the Cup with a guy named Barry Trotz, who left the team after winning the Cup due to a contract dispute. That’s crazy! I feel like if a coach ever wins a championship in Buffalo for hockey or football that guy would never be allowed to fly out of the city, something they really only initiated for people involved with the Capitals this last week, ha ha ha.

Jay Schilling’s Edge of Chaos
Oct 5th, 2020 by Ice Cream Jonsey

I made a new game with Mike Sousa! It’s called Jay Schilling’s Edge of Chaos. Let me see if I can in-line the blurb.

There was an aye-aye behind the bar, staring at me horribly. Or maybe its face just froze that way. I was waiting for my client at ten at night in a dusty, dirty town in the middle of nowhere. Clouds out here were apparently one of the thirty million newly unemployed. There was a missing woman and my client was about to hire an amateur private detective with the world’s most technologically advanced cellular phone. This was going to be a cinch. Seriously. It’ll take me like two searches with it to close this case. Three if mid-investigation I check on my torrents.

Y-You’re a player of the 2020 Interactive Fiction competition. I’m Jay. Let’s straddle the edge.

Download Jay Schilling’s Edge of Chaos (Story File)

Download the TADS game runner for Windows – HTML TADS, Linux or OSX – QTads.

Commodore 64 Emulator Cheat Sheet
Jun 22nd, 2020 by Rob O'Hara

YOU: You’re trying to get the Commodore 64 working in an emulator but you didn’t have one growing up or you don’t remember some specifics. That’s ok! Commodork is here to help you! Take it away, Rob!

01. BASIC

Powering on the Commodore 64 places you at a BASIC prompt. Note that by simply turning the machine on, the amount of available RAM drops from 64k to 39k. Fake news!

02. ATTACHING A DISK IMAGE

All Commodore 64 emulators recognize .D64 files as Commodore disk images. In real life you would would insert a disk into your disk drive before using it. In an emulator, you must “attach” the disk. Different emulators have different ways to do this but they’re all the same basic idea. Note that each physical disk drive on the Commodore 64 had an assigned number on the serial bus, and the first one was always #8. 99% of all Commodore programs assume you are loading from drive 8, and many/most multifile programs will fail if loaded from a different drive.

Read the rest of this entry »

Pinneroids
Jun 12th, 2020 by Ice Cream Jonsey

A few of us learned about the PICO-8 fantasy console (get it here – https://itch.io/b/520/bundle-for-racial-justice-and-equality – for $5 and make your own PICO-8 games) the other weekend and Pinback made an Asteroids-inspired Asteroids-style game called Pinneroids.

Check it out here and let us know your high score in the forum!

Frobozz
Jan 23rd, 2020 by Ice Cream Jonsey

It has been one year since Frobozz died, here is a picture of him.

The Top 50 Games of the Decade on Caltrops
Jan 7th, 2020 by Ice Cream Jonsey

I am writing for a project that looks at the top 50 games, as selected and gently encouraged by the posters of Caltrops.com. There’s a couple pieces left to the project, but you can check it out by going to https://www.caltrops.com or if you’re reading this at a later point in time, starting here:

 

The Caltrops Top 50 Games of 2010-2019 Part One: Honorable Mentions

The Caltrops Top 50 Games of 2010-2019: #50-40

The Caltrops Top 50 Games of 2010-2019: #39-30

The Caltrops Top 50 Games of 2010-2019: #29-21

 

Some fun threads from the forum
Dec 26th, 2019 by Ice Cream Jonsey

There is a BBS attached to this website. Here are some fun threads you might want to read!

For three years, Aardvark has been doing a web comic he calls Crazy Doodles. The previous link is to the beginning, here is a good jumping-on point for some more recent ones.

Flack has been giving us his take on NBA news.

We celebrate life and death in this thread which is full of people we can’t believe died before Tdarcos did.

Hungry? Pinback gives us a recipe for Moroccan Pork Stew with Tumeric Rice.

The Mandalorian Thread! Don’t go in fresh, there be spoilers there.

If you’re reading this, we invite you to register an account and participate in the discussion!

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