Unpleasant Twisted Cynic's-ville


Groundings, “Santa’s”, and e-mail

While my parents boxed the trinkets and furniture from their Florida home in preparation for their end of the month move to Central America, my father found this:

Deal with the kids

A contract made by my brother and myself dating back to December of ’93 that reads exactly as follows:
“December 4 1993
if you take us to Santa’s we promise we will behaive if we dont you mai ground us for a month
expires January 1
sign
Christophe Frochaux
John Frochaux”

You can tell that contrary to my earmark, my brother had already established a working signature long before he penned up this here agreement, though I will say that it’s pretty endearing to see my infantile attempt at creating a signature just for the occasion. If you examine my signature (the one on the bottom) you’ll find that many of the elements found on Chris’ J. Hancock can be found in mine; it almost appears as if I’m using Chris’ as a template for signature making. Cue the “endeared public” sigh.
By “Santa’s” we were referring to a somewhat popular Miami theme park (fittingly named “Santa’s Enchanted Forest”) that opens every year during the x-mas holidays.
In hindsight, this really paints my parents as severe and overly strict reactionary-types (something they aren’t in the least). Seems like the only way we could manage to obtain a trip to the theme park was through documented bargaining; I mean, a month of unspecified punishment in exchange for a trip to the amusement park? Talk about all the eggs in a single basket, you’d think “Santa’s” was made of candy that made you grow wings and video games.
I’m sure I objected to offering this sort of collateral, but my brother has always been known to drive a pretty solid bargain so I’m sure I caved after one of his often-persuasive speeches, I’m pretty sure that in a passed life Chris was a Snake Oil salesman in the old west.

In the end I do remember going to “Santa’s” that year and really getting a kick out of it. Over the years I grew, and like many things when you grow, “Santa’s” progressively lost a good amount of its luster; I began to notice the carnies, the people, the allowance factor, and before I knew it the desire to attend “Santa’s” had just faded, only leaving behind entertainingly written contracts for my father to e-mail other folks in the future.

Thanks dad.

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The Arcade Re-animation Festival and myself

The last couple of months, I’ve been browsing around the net looking for information about the history of video games, which now I’ve found out that according to some dates back to the 1880’s. Over the last months I’ve run into my share of interesting articles as well as manga-enthusiast (read: nerd) ridden message boards. But then again, who’s the one researching video games, I guess that alone would completely take away my right to finger-pointing and name-calling.
I wouldn’t catalogue myself as an avid gamer or a video game enthusiast, but over the last couple of weeks I’ve learned that I still have a soft spot for some of the games I played as a kid. Back then, a trip to the arcade was an incredible experience, as well as something that could only be done on weekends because an entire day had to be dedicated to said excursion. No weekend mall visit would be complete without a gingerly stroll around the arcade. It was always an adventure; everything from avoiding the “drug dealers” your parents warned you about, to checking out the newer games and getting in line to play two rounds of Street Fighter with the spectacled kid with the lightning fast hands that would beat everyone all the time. Even when you blew all your money it was still fun to walk around an otherwise seedy place just to watch others play. It was noisy, the carpet smelled, sometimes you’d get into minor scuffles with other kids, but it was always fun and always the best place blow your allowance at.
I still remember the first time I saw a NEO GEO cabinet with Samurai Showdown; I was mesmerized by the graphics, the colors, the gigantic (at the time) characters, and most importantly the violence. I recall how awe struck I was by the zoom-in zoom-out feature that had been incorporated to the game, something that was considered groundbreaking at the time. From the late 80’s to the early to mid-90’s, there was an explosion of pretty cool coin-op machines in every mall. Back then arcade games didn’t translate very well to home consoles because of their technical specs, so the only way to get truly impressive graphics and velocity was through a stand up coin-op cabinet. As a child I constantly fantasized about having one of these machines at home. Just a couple of days ago an opportunity to make my dream a reality presented itself.
During one of my recent strolls through Nerd-Ville, 14 years after the release of Samurai Showdown, I learned about this thing called M.A.M.E. (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator) at first glance this seemed like some jack-assed japanese animation geek fest. You can’t blame me for using harsh language, based on recent personal experience, 90% of the time I would come across any kind of interesting information in regards to old video games it was always hosted on a web page or forum that contained some of the pettiest, most hair brained discussions I’ve read in years. Well, back to M.A.M.E. (pronounced maim). In a nutshell, M.A.M.E. is an arcade emulator that runs rom images of arcade games on a computer; with a decent PC you can play old arcade games at home, that simple. Some folks have taken this a step further by building arcades from the ground up, adding special customized features to cabinets in order to show them off via internet to their fellow nerds at a later date. Some folks buy used cabinets from arcades and just stick a PC in them after slightly revamping the outer shell, other burlier and craftier folks build cabinets from scratch and wire them in the same manner. There’s an entire community of people all over the world that have embraced M.A.M.E., hell I think you may just call it a movement of sorts.
After really looking into M.A.M.E., I asked myself why I hadn’t found out about this and why hadn’t I gotten into it? After reading up on the materials that I needed and just how difficult it would be to carry out this project, I decided that I had to get into it. I did. I’ve decided that I’m going to build an arcade for me and my friends; I’m pretty sure I can pull this off. Remember me blogging about giving myself little tasks an entry ago? Well, this is the new task, “John Takes On Building An Arcade From The Ground Up”. As of today I’ve already purchased the arcade parts I’ll be needing (push buttons, joysticks, wiring, cables, etc.) from the fine folks at groovygamegear.com, a sound card; I spoke to a friend that sells computers and he’s going to help me put a good clone together for me to run M.A.M.E. on, a Happs (expensive arcade supply store) brand coin-door from ebay, and several other components to make my monster come to life before the end of January. This weekend I’ll be buying the MDF for the cabinet, hopefully I can get it cut and drilled before Sunday, we’ll see.
I will be doing everything myself and it will be documented right here on the blog. I’m sure this’ll be a real cool time, time to bring out the power tools… well, I’m sure someone’ll lend me some.