Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Into the Deep, Dark, Burning Depths I Ventured...

I went dumpster diving today... okay, not in a dumpster but rather my storage bin here in Las Vegas. Half of the stuff in there is what I kept after moving out of my house before moving to San Diego and onto Australia about six years ago. The rest is the stuff I put in there after moving back from Australia.

There was one point, while climbing around in 400 degree heat at the very back of the "air cooled" storage bin, when a number boxes started to shift behind me, that I suddenly felt like I was going to pass out. I had a thought about how long it would take them to notice I was missing, find my dead and crushed body, and figure out how to get it out. Luckily, I had my 100 FL OZ, insulated, Rebel Convenience store cup full of diet Dr. Pepper within reach to provide some much need refreshment. That's right one HUNDRED fluid ounces!!! And it only costs me .99 cents to refill. Thats one dollar and seven cents if you include tax. Compare that to the cost of a normal, 12 fluid ounce, can of soda. To be fair it isn't quite as big as it looks; because, it has a very thick, foam insulated core. I can fill it in the morning and it still has ice left in it in the evening.

I was looking for some specific stuff, but also found some other cool stuff.

Neil Gaiman Self Portrait 1992 San Diego Comic-ConFirst up is a self-portrait that Neil Gaiman drew on the back of his name page at a 1993 (I think, though I might be off by a year either way) San Diego Comic-Con panel on Horror Fiction. During the panel another author started to drone on about some artsie-fartsie stuff and pretty much everybody else in the room started to nod off. I noticed that Neil had begun to doodle on the back of his name page; which was really just a folded piece of paper with his name printed on it so you knew who was who on the panel. After the panel was over the entire audience swarmed around him at the exit as he was leaving. I, however, went to see what he had been doodling and claimed this prize.

I also found some of my old Unicorn Software educational games. Pictured are "Animal Kingdom" (later renamed "Wonders of the Animal Kingdom"), "Kinderama" on the Amiga, and "MacRobots."I really only found the slipcover for "MacRobots." When I left Unicorn Software back in 1988 I wasn't allowed to take my copies of the games I had worked on so that is all I got. If I mess with the sidebar art anymore, I'll add these in along with "Adventures of Sinbad" and "Magical Myths" which I also have cover scans of. Though now that I look at them I see that they are photographs taken of the boxes lying on a table which puts them at odd angle.

I also found two other Unicorn related items. Both of these my Mother had been keeping. She gave them back to me just in time for me to bury them in storage with the rest of the junk I was keeping. The first thing pictured above is the Amiga advertisement on the inside back cover of the August 1987 Commodore magazine. That is the Amiga version of "Animal Kingdom" on the right-hand computer. The funny thing is, as I just took the magazine out of the scanner, I noticed the advertisement on the outside back cover is for the Amiga versions of SSI's "Phantasie III, The Wrath of Nikademus" and "Realms of Darkness." I'm not sure about Realms, but I know Westwood did the port of Wrath to the Amiga. It was an omen!

Then there is the Unicorn Software Educational Catalogue. It looked much better on the Amiga monitor I assure you. A lot better than you see it here where it is a picture (with flash) taken of the monitor, that was then printed out on the manual which then sat in a box for the last 20+ years only then to be rescanned into the computer. It is actually a fold out catalog and has two screen shots for each game. I'm looking at a few of them thinking, "Did I draw that... I think I drew that... Okay yeah, I remember drawing that!" The fox for Aesop's Fables looks especially good. If you look real closely at the bottom left of the cover, you can see some yellow pixels. That is where I signed my name, but it got cut off when they trimmed the picture to account for the curve of the monitor photo.

I also found my pillow which I am very happy about. It is one of those nice memory foam ones that is thicker along the top and bottom making it less likely that my arm will fall asleep if I rest it under the pillow while sleeping. Arm falling asleep is actually loss of blood circulation which isn't the same as me falling asleep. I probably didn't have to explain that, but the sentence felt odd.

Vectrex Video Game ConsoleMy Vectrex video game console was in there too, but I figured it was safer to leave it there. Especially since I had booby-trapped it to kill off any other tomb raiders who dared disturb my "Temple of Junk!"

The two cartridges I have for the Vectrex, a 'mega' cartridge with every game officially published and the unreleased prototype cartridge of "Dark Tower" are buried in one of the other boxes that I brought back from Australia. I had accidentally had them in with my desk supplies and moved them downunder with me. I was always afraid I was going to loose them, but I distinctly remember putting them in a box when I packed up in Perth.

Bob Jones, one of the very talented artist I worked with at Auran, also had a Vectrex in Australia. He had actually bought his new back when he was a kid. Unfortunately, it no longer worked and he just had it sitting on his desk as a show piece.

I never had any of the color overlays as I bought my system used from a guy who's name I believe is Sean Kelly. He used to have a newsletter that he would publish with antique video games for sale. I also think he was one of the guys who founded the classic video game convention that they used(?) to host here in Las Vegas. I was able to find links to Sean's website but it appears the site is no longer there.

One thing I didn't find was my Westwood jacket. We all had letterman's jackets made with the year we started on the sleeve. I know I didn't take it with me to Australia, so I hope it is in there somewhere.


brad said...

Surely I told you about my Vectrex while you were here in Perth? It is out in my shed at the moment, and sadly not working (the games and sound play, but the monitor display isn't working properly). One day when I have time (pffft!) I will clean it out and see if I can find the source of the problem.

I had 4 cartridges (with overlays). Scramble, Armor Attack (awesome game), Cosmic Chasm, and Mine Field. Yes. I had the cartridge version of the game that came *built in* to the system. I think I still have the Scramble and Mine Field overlays, not sure which cartridges.

Ahh good times...Man that thing was fun!

Cap'n John said...

You scored Neil Gaman's name badge with a self-portrait/comic on the back? Awesome! That's what separates the men from the fanbois ;)

The Vectrex was a simply amazing machine, for its time. I've seen similar-sized desktop units for sale now, with games like Pacman and Space Invaders, but they'll never compare to the Vectrex.

Glad you didn't get trapped in the back of your storage unit. Although I envision a scene unfolding akin to when The Simpson's Principal Skinner got trapped in his garage by a falling stack of newspapers. I'm sure you would have escaped, somehow ;)

Sorry I haven't commented for a while. I foolishly set up a Google Reader and read all the Blogs through it, rather than visiting the Blogs themselves.

qnospamdnospamzAThotmail.com said...

Aristocrat, not Konami. Aristocrat is based in Sydney, interestingly - I've been to Australia twice.

And I have that exact color 100oz Rebel jug, and have filled it (and its predecessors) with Diet Dr. Pepper every morning (well, about 70% of the mornings) for over three years. I use less ice than you, though - it's gone by 2pm.

I should be seeing my sister Friday.


Joseph B. Hewitt IV said...

I thought the red Rebel jug was a new color only released this year. So it is either you or the lady at the store that is lying to me.

Only one thing for it...

You must both fight to the death.

qnospamdnospamzAThotmail.com said...

I did mention predecessors. Yes, it is a new color released only this year. But it occupies the same space that the orange one before it and the other orange one before that one and the first green one which I dropped in a stairwell and shattered its outside, did. It does not occupy the same space as the two 64oz penultimate tankards; I did not account in my time estimate for their era.

I filled this 100oz tankard previously with regularity at the following locations:
warm springs/paradise,
Near home it's sahara/hualapai, and now my regular morning stop is russell/decatur or