I was exchanging emails about Eye of the Beholder with the other day with Irene who goes by the handle Sentinel69. I was pointing out which avatar portrait from the game was based on me and which were other Westwood employees. The portraits were done by the late, great Rick Parks (aka the Center of the Universe). So I got to thinking about him and decided to Google him. I found the dedication video that was included with Lands of Lore 2 after he passed away.
Oh man, watching that gets me right in the chest. He was such a great guy. The way he is laughing and such on the video was the way he always was. He was always in a good mood and just uplifted any situation. If you were wondering why he appears kind of stiff in the video, its because he has some other medical problem that eventually led to his neck being fused so he couldn’t turn his head from side to side.
When Rick first came to Westwood he was so out of our league. He had been playing around on his Amiga drawing pictures, and getting some fame among Amiga users for doing so. I just tried searching for some of his Amiga pictures but struck out. The one that I remember the most was a simple picture of a Mickey Mouse drinking glass. Another had a man and woman holding a torch and walking away from the camera with purple marble pillars on either side.
He also did the mural of the Excalibur casino in the old ‘Strip Joint’ (as in Las Vegas Strip) employee cafeteria in the Mirage Hotel and Casino. The cafeteria used to be full of parody art about the other casinos such as a statue of David representing Caesar’s Palace where the statue is posed as if he was embarrassed and trying to cover his nakedness. Ricks mural was the scene where the young King Arthur is trying to pull Excalibur out of the rock but having trouble and even his horse is holing onto his cloak and trying to help pull.
The mural above the bar in old Mount Charleston lodge above Vegas was his as well done sometime in the 70’s. He did some a lot of work at Siegfried and Roy’s house, some mural on a boat owned by Donald Trump and much more.
Brett and Louis (Westwood’s founders) told him they really couldn’t afford to pay him what he was worth, but they worked out a deal where Rick would get time off to do other projects because he really wanted to do work on the computer because he thought it was so fun.
He brought the quality of Westwood art up so much. Not just with his own work, but just by his presence, everybody else’s work as well. I know I got a whole lot better after he started to work there. I remember thinking my pictures for DragonStrike were much better than anything I thought I was capable of at the time.
Now since all that is making me kind of sad, let me end this with a funny story. I mentioned this all started with the emails I was writing to Irene aka Sentinel69. So I just assumed the 69 was the typical number thrown onto the end of handle as the sexual reference. (In Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure voice) “Sixty Nine Dude!”
Years ago one of the in things to do was to steal the yellow plastic table numbers from Carl’s Jr. and put them on the dashboard of your car. I had the number 68 on the dashboard of my very sporty Toyota MR2. (Just tried looking for a picture of the Carl's Jr. Number thing online and again struck out) Several times I would have a girl in my car say something to the effect of, “Shouldn't that be 69?”
I would reply, “No I wasn’t born in 1969, but now that I know where you mind is let’s say we skip dinner and just go back to my place.” I won’t comment on the success of this particular pickup line because a gentleman never tells. (That and I'm sure you are sick of the baseball analogies.)
Anyway, what makes this funny is when I went looking for Rick Parks stuff and found this video I noticed it was actually put onto Youtube by Irene. Except on Youtube she signed up as Sentinel1969. I’ve been busted by my own joke.