No School Like The Old School

My personal computer is all tricked out with multicore processors and shiny graphics cards in SLI configuration — and the kid is playing Pong. And doesn’t quite get why I laughed when I saw what she was playing. She won the game, though, so that’s all right.

In other news, less than a full day into her summer vacation, and Athena tells me she’s already bored out of her skull. Fortunately, day camp starts next week. All the arts and crafts and swimming she can possibly handle. I feel a little envious, really. All I get to do this summer is write.

28 Comments on “No School Like The Old School”

  1. changterhune – Before you hear lies from Chang Terhune himself, we thought we’d tell you the truth: without us, his old action figures, he’d be nowhere. He loved science fiction from way back and began reading it at an early age, but it was through us that he acted it all out. That’s what led to the writing. He watched a lot of science fiction shows like Star Trek, U.F.O, and movies, too. But we were always there to do his bidding. And it’s like they say: you always forget about the little people on your way up. Oh, the 70’s and early 80’s with him were good times! He’d use these blocks and make all the crazy buildings for us to be in his stories. I gotta say the kid’s imagination was pretty damn fertile. Oh, he had friends, but they just weren’t into it like him. He was like the Lance Armstrong of action figures. And of science fiction. At first, when he began writing in the eighth grade, we didn’t mind. He still made time for us. And we knew that when he was holding us in his sweaty little hands and he got that far off look in his eye, he’d come back to burying us in the back yard or - god forbid! – blowing us up with firecrackers. But it was worth it for a part in one of those stories. We loved him for it. He kept us around even when we were minus a leg or two - or even a head. In that mind of his, he found a use for all of us. Then he discovered girls. October, 1986. It was like the end of the world. One day we’re standing in the middle of this building block creation he’d pretended was some marble city on a planet near Alpha Centauri and the next we were stuck in a box in the closet. Not even a “See ya later!” Nope, it was into the closet, then we heard some high-pitched girly-giggles then silence. We didn’t see him for years. We got word about him once in a while. Heard he took up writing, but it was crap like “The Breakfast Club” only with better music. We couldn’t believe it. Not Charlie. What happened to those aliens with heads he’d sculpted out of wax? Spaceships? Those complex plots? All gone. For what? You guessed it: Girls. Emotions. “Serious fiction.” I tell you, it was like hearing Elvis had left the building. During our two decade exile in the closet, we heard other things about him. He went to college. He wrote a lot, but not much he really liked. We knew it even then. It was like he didn’t dare write science fiction. Some of us had lost hope and just lay there. Others kept vigil, hoping for a day we didn’t dare speak about. Then we heard he’d stopped writing in 1996. Did he come to reclaim us? No. He took up music for ten years or so. He took up yoga. Once in a while, he’d visit us in the closet. But it was half-hearted. His mind was elsewhere. Then one day, he really did come back for us. One second we’re in the dark and the next thing we know we’re in a car headed for Massachusetts. Suddenly we got a whole shelf to ourselves out in broad daylight! Then he bought a bunch of others form some planet called Ebay. He’d just sit and stare at us with that old look. But why were we suddenly back in the picture? He had a wife now, who didn’t mind that he played with us. So what had happened? Turns out he’d never forgotten about those stories. He’d been thinking about all of us and the stories he’d made up and then remembered he’d been a writer once. From the shelf we could see him typing away. Before long he’s got a whole novel together! Then he’s working on another one. Word is there are two more in the planning stages! Some short stories, too! It’s good to see him using his imagination again. Its good to know he never abandoned us. He returned to his true love of science fiction. We hear the stories are pretty good. Someday we’ll get one of the cats to score us a copy of the manuscript. Man, it’s good to be out of the damn closet! --- I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me
    Chang, in plain view of children

    Hey, I’ll trade you? You can teach yoga and I’ll write all summer.

    My kid still has a week of school. She and a friend are ovr and asked if they could go watch a movie in the master bedroom. I looked outside and saw the blue sky, the sunshine, the leaves fluttering in the breeze and said “HELL TO THE NO!” in the best way for a 3rd – soon to be 4th grader – could understand.

    Meanwhile i get to puzzle over payroll and wonder where I left that spare $10K.

  2. neutronjockey – Jeff Richard (J.K.Richard) a.k.a. the neutronjockey, is a former nuclear mechanic supervisor and medical officer recruiter for the U.S. Navy. He was honorably discharged from military service in January of 2006. In his civilian life he is a digital artist, leathercraftsman, and writer living in Tulsa, OK. Occaisionally he commits to research work for SF/F authors. Jeff is owned by a gray Maine Coon cat while at home and three awesome horses while at the barn. <a href="">I blog on LJ</a>

    Send the kiddo to a horse camp… of course, if you do this she’ll be bugging you for a fat, slick pony for the rest of her natural born life…

    …nevermind, pool and arts ‘n crafts & pong it is.

  3. There you go …

    Since for now Athena only plays Pong on *your* computer, you’ve had the time to write more than one novel a year.

    When she gets her start on MMORPGs or Second Life … we’ll just have to re re re re re read you till she gets her own computer.

    Or we just chip in to a prequel to the college fund: the “buy her own computer” fund

  4. Tumbleweed:

    In fact, we own an Atari 2600. With cartridges and everything. She’s had the experience.

  5. Okie dokie, then, a Commodore 64 or Apple II (depending on your history) seems the next logical choice, with an Amiga 500 after that. Gotta bring them kids up right. :)

  6. Commodore 64?

    Pah! I spit on your 64! My first computer was a Commodore 128. It was awesome. Though maybe not as iconic (maybe because commodore and 128 don’t rhyme?)

    Though it’s funny, I don’t remember the keyboard and case being one piece.

  7. I like multiple monitors more than SLI– a personal preference.

    Forget the Commodore 64/128 (basically the same thing) or their Atari equivalent (the Atari 130XE) and go straight for the good stuff.

    the Vic 20!

    An entire 2K of RAM

    Feel the burn!

  8. Get multiple 30″ monitors. Then play Sopwith stretched across all of ’em.

    Or, H/Ting to Dave Robinson, Blue Meanies. Hoo yeah.

  9. Maybe now you need some of those old Nintendo watch games.

  10. If someone could’ve told me when I was Athena’s age that I could skip day camp and spent the entire summer writing, I’d’ve been there in a heartbeat.

    On balance, I suspect that Athena’s one heckuvalot better-adjusted than I was.

  11. In related news (and note that I beta-tested Pong and Computer Space — which later became Asteroids — for Bushnell):

    Leonardo DiCaprio lined up to play video game mogul
    9 June 2008

    LOS ANGELES (AFP) — Leonardo DiCaprio is set to play pioneering video game entrepreneur Nolan Bushnell in a biopic about the Atari
    co-founder’s life, it was reported Monday.

    Daily Variety said screen heart-throb DiCaprio had been attached to
    produce as well as star in the film about Bushnell, one of the
    founding fathers of the video game industry.

    Atari — which created the world’s first successful video game “Pong”
    — was estimated to be worth more than 2 billion dollars by 1982 but
    was later broken up following the US video game crash of 1984.

    DiCaprio, 33, will next appear in two dramas, the spy thriller “House
    of Lies” and “Revolutionary Road.”

  12. In 1998 my employer got me a brand new Power Mac G3, tricked out. I called one of my buddies to swing by my office so I could show off. When he came around the corner he groaned, because I had installed VirtualPC (it was the first time I’d had a Mac powerful enough to run it) and was sitting there with a DOS prompt open, ready to fire up a game of Nibbles. Oh, did we laugh.

  13. I never owned any of the more expensive first/second generation home video games/systems. I played on some of them that belonged to friends. That image of Athena “ponging” brings back both good and not-so-good recollections of teen-angst-years. I remember jonesing for a Commodore 64 and for an Intellivision when they first came out. But being a member of a working-class family with seven kids, I knew both these desires were non-starters.

    I still have my Coleco “head-to-head” Baseball game, though. Don’t know if it still works: I haven’t popped a battery in it in years.

    My junior and senior years in HS, we’d ride the bus or the van to cross country meets playing those little hand-held Coleco football, baseball, etc., games until we’d drained the batteries. One of the bus drivers nearly went postal from all the high-pitched electronic whirring, chirping, buzzing, bonging, and dit-di-dit-de-da!-ing.

  14. My Mom used to find us things to do cleaning wise when my sister or I said we were bored. We learned really fast it was a bad idea to express that unless we wanted to clean the bathroom. :) But now I want to play pong.

  15. I have the same reaction when my sons say they are bored. There is always extra house or yard work that I can give them to relieve the tedium. It has gotten to the point where they jump up and find something to do if I inquire whether they are too bored ;-)

    I think you should get her ‘Spy Hunter’. I remember just how many quarters that game pulled out of my pockets.

  16. I’ve still got my Intellivision game system in the back of my closet, the one that hooks up to a TV set. God I’m old. :-D

  17. Already bored out of her skull. I would sell vital parts of my anatomy for a summer off. It has been said before but it bears repeating “Youth is wasted on the young”

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