A Glorious $5 Mistake

April 29, 2013

As a young man I loved the games. Games of all sorts. Computer. Video. Board. Card. Mind. All of them. They were the sprinkles on the ice cream cone of life. 

In the year 2003 (I know…) a game came out which changed my life. Actually, it was the sequel to a game that changed my life. It was called SimCity 4. 

Yes. That really boring city simulator that makes you make decisions about ordinances and if you want to make neighboring deals that help you sell your garbage. Also you have to make decisions where you want to put your mansion and if you should put an avenue there or a bus stop. 

I loved it. Still do. But last year I tried dusting off the old disks to SimCity 4 and, lo and behold, the game is so outdated it wouldn’t properly boot up. Yes, there are people online who say with a little bit of wiggling of wired and screaming you can get it to work, but I’m lazy. Very lazy. I decided to let it die and become a relic of the past. Let time polish that memory into a shining gem of my past.

Even fairly recently (I think within the past few months) the same company decided to finally release a sequel to one of my favorite games. No, it’s not called SimCity 5, just simply SimCity. And general opinion is pretty consistent.

It’s a turd. 

A big, expensive, glitchy, weak turd of a game. 

A lot of people have tried to get a refund because they are so disappointed. (If you don’t believe me check out /r/SimCity for a more lengthy bashing of said game). 

One again, I figured it would be smart this possible drain on my wallet and just let bygones be bygones. 

Until I noticed a Steam sale that featured a $5 copy of SimCity 4. And…it says it’ll work with my machine…

Well…I did it.

And I still love it. 

Do I feel bad? No, but my Sims don’t like pollution too much. Do I need to go to bed? No, I need to entice Sims to build more high tech industry. Do I have papers to grade? Of course I do, but I need to build high-capacity schools in my town if I want some nice commercial land value later on.

Why am I telling you this? Because I need possible names for my new cities. 

You may leave them behind in list form if you wish. 

D.A.

 

Until last night when the internet 

Advertisements

Bottoms Up

March 14, 2012

In the summer of 1974 I was in love.

Her name was Cynthia Herron. She had braces, red hair, and a slight overbite. A consummate beauty.

I jumped at the opportunity when she invited me to a party.

It was a pool party for her 11th birthday.

Everything would have gone according to plan had it not been for that diving contest.

I hardly knew how to swim, let alone dive, but if I wanted to win her hand (and I did) I knew I would have to meet any challenge.

We formed a line behind the board. All the girls watched us guys. They whispered their picks for winners. I was third in the queue.

First up was Tommy. He was built like a can of sausages. He flew like one too. A cannonball resulted in a big splash. Cynthia was not impressed.

The second was Aaron. He was shaped like a pencil that had been broken and taped back together. He went for the jacknife. There was a loud pop as his belly hit the water. It barely pequed her interest.

Finally I was up. My heart raced. If I wanted to win I needed to make sure that I won on perfect form. that would impress her.

So I went for the perfect dive.

I put my ten-year-old toes up to the edge of the board. It felt like I were staring down the side of a building. My head was dizzy. Time slowed to a hazy ripple.

I took a breath and closed my eyes. With a bend of the knees and a hop from my heels I went floating through the air. I felt ecstasy on my dismount. The tuning fork in my mind rang with peace. I knew I was going to slide right into that pool and come out to applause.

The perfect dive.

As I entered the water I could feel total freedom. The water rushed past my ears. The cold water gripped my body. I swam out a few strokes while under before I let buoyancy release me back to the surface.

I felt so confident.

Until I realized my swim trunks were floating next to me.

 

Bottoms Up – D.A. Bancroft

I think my generation was the first generation to have the VHS tape player at it’s regular disposal. Yes, it existed for many years before I was born, but when I really started growing up and forming memories I think was around the time when VHS tapes were easy to find and purchase. So, kids like me watched a lot of movies.

Most of you will probably say that you love movies as well, but for some reason they seem to be stuck in my mind and connected to important childhood moments. I can remember how I learned what a flash flood was thanks to the movie Rock-a-doodle. I remember learning that penguins ate fish because that’s what Oswald Cobblepot ate in Batman Returns. I even remember why we’re not supposed to mix frog and dinosaur DNA to reanimate long extinct organisms.

Another influence on my life

These movies from my past act a lot like bookmarks for my memory. As soon as I see one of these movies again I instantly recall simpler and more enjoyable times. (I’m not saying times are bad now, but I am saying that things just seem much better when you’re a kid).

Now that you know this about me, I would like to begin work on something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time. List my favorite movies.

The actual list for my favorite movies would be….gigantic. I’m not sure I could do all that work. So I will just throw up a few that seem to have made a lasting impact on me when I was just a youngin’.

The Brave Little Toaster– A movie that both captivated and terrified me when I was growing up. I will never be able to ignore the ping of fear every time I see that window mounted air conditioner.

Batman– I had actually memorized every word of this movie by the time I was 4 years old. I believed I would become Batman. Genuinely and truly. I thought I would be able to do any and everything he did. I even drew “blueprints” for constructing my own batmobile.

The Witches– Movie freaked me out, but in a great way. Witches walking around wearing masks to hide their ugly faces was a cool thought to me. Also, I wanted to become a mouse/hamster for a while.

All Dogs go to Heaven– Dogs talking and being cooler than any of my uncles was a pretty big win for me. Later in life I found out that Burt Reynolds did the voice of the main character. Then the movie got that much cooler.

Big– I wanted to be a grown up. This kid became a grown up. A grown up that worked for a toy factory! Not to mention, I always wanted a best friend like the kid Josh had in the movie. They had a cool song/handshake they shared. I still think many 20 something guys want a best friend like this because of this movie.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory– Candy, candy, and more candy. Also, a crazy guy who says some funny stuff always seemed to stick with me. This was even one of movies my parents would watch with me even though they had seen it 40 times before. I think it’s because when they were in high school they saw this movie together on a date.

Ghostbusters– Funny, ghosts, cool costumes, and a giant marshmallow man. What doesn’t appeal to a kid in this movie?

Aladdin– A very fun movie to watch. Not only is it Disney goodness, it’s also Robin William’s first appearance in my life. I watched this movie dozens of times because I just wanted to laugh at the same jokes I had laughed at all those times before. The only problem was that I didn’t totally understand every joke he said, but still, I laughed.

DuckTales: The Movie – Treasure of the Lost Lamp – I wanted to swim in my own pool full of gold coins. I also made sure I ate chocolate ice cream covered in chocolate syrup every time I watched this movie. No joke. If I were to watch it again, I would desire that mouth watering sweetness in my mouth.

Like I said, these are movies I saw at a very early age that had influenced me. They helped to make me who I am. And I really mean this. I learned a lot of moral and social ideas from these movies. So what if they were cartoons and so what if they had quite a bit of violence in them, I still learned a lot. And there are probably 30 other movies that I watched way too many times, but for your sake (and mostly my sake) I’m not going to throw those up here.

So what about you? What movies helped make you who you are? Or were you more of a normal/healthy kid and you didn’t get to watch many movies because you were too busy playing outside?

D.A.

Leader for the Day

August 30, 2011

Remember this?

When you were in kindergarten or 1st grade your teacher would award the “best student” of the day and they would become class leader?

Was my school the only one that did this?

So you would get caught doing something cool or nice during the week. Your teacher would walk up to you and say something to the effect of, “Wow, good job Douglas! You put the toys away very nicely.” or “Douglas, that was very nice of you to let Sarah borrow your crayons during that lesson.” Then you would get a gold star or something next to your name.

Then on Friday you became Class Leader. You get to walk in the front of the line when you go to P.E or lunch. It means you get to sit at the head of the  table with the teacher. First dibs on certain toys during play time. You might even get to take a nap on the non-sticky nap pad. (That means it’s the mat that Timmy didn’t pee on yet. You know you remember that kid…)

If you were super lucky, the teacher would buy you a Slush Puppie at lunch too. Oh how your cherry syrup stained lips would glimmer at the other kids. They would be so jealous.

Just in case you don't know what a Slush Puppie is, here is it's illegally obtained brand logo for your pleasure.

Yeah, this who thing. Leader for the day. That’s what yesterday felt like on WordPress.

Apparantly I had my last post became “Freshly Pressed.”

I mean, I think it’s really cool and all that, but let’s be honest, I only get to be leader for the day. It’s not like I get the spot on the front page for a whole year. So, I’m just taking the moment to say this:

ATTENTION ALL OF YOU WHO ARE NEW TO THIS BLOG!

I currently have a goal of trying to put a marble in each country on the planet. Yes, I’m serious. I currently have marbles in Canada and the United States…Yes, I know that’s not impressive but all things have to start somewhere.

But if you just send me an email with your address I will be happy to send you a marble. Then you can have it to keep and hold forever and ever.

If you would like more information please read one of my previous posts on the topic.

Now for those of you who have already known me for a while…

I bet you’re wondering if my newfound fame is going to get to my tiny brain.

In short, yes. Yes it is. I’ve just decided it would be worth it because this could be my 15 minutes of fame.

As a matter of fact, half an hour after I found out about this whole thing, I hired an agent. He’s pretty mean, but he gets the job done.

For example:

I already have a movie deal in place where I’m starring opposite Seth Rogen in a buddy cop movie.

I have even started working with Kanye West on a new album. It’s pretty tight yo.

I’ve also updated my wardrobe to only being made by Armani. It’s just how I roll now.

Like I mentioned earlier, I’m leader for the day now…I can do whatever I want.

I hope you’re not still staring at my wonderfully red lips because I’ve been drinking a delicious Slush Puppie.

Making loud slurps in your direction,

D.A.

The Younger Me

August 28, 2011

Today I remembered something about myself when I was just a wee lad. 

I was freaking cute.

I was also keeping the future in mind…

Star Wars fandom took over my life at a relatively young age. I remember seeing my dad watch The Empire Strikes Back back when I was around 7 or 8. It was the battle of Hoth scene, and I remember thinking, “Woah, this is super cool.” After that my friend Bobby let me come over to his house and play with his “aliens” that were characters from the Star Wars films.

Then Bobby let me borrow one of his Star Wars toys to take over to my house. It was all over after that.

It was like a drug. I needed more. Much more.

I would go to the store with my mom and always beg for an action figure. It didn’t always work, but when it did, I felt like I was assembling the worlds greatest collection of awesome toys ever. The scale of my collection really isn’t anything to sneeze at, it’s quite good and was meticulously taken care of, but it also served another purpose in my life.

I honestly can’t remember if I’ve shared this on the blog or not. (So if I have, I apologize for repeating myself, but there are so many posts on here by now that I have no real idea what I have/haven’t said about my life)

But my brother was a high demand special needs child. He always needed attention to make sure he was doing good. If he ended up in a bad mood he could harm himself or others. He was also prone to having serious seizures, so we always needed to keep checking on him to make sure we knew if one occurred.

As a kid I understood full well what that meant. It meant that I would have to entertain myself as best as I could because my parents were quite busy taking care of Todd (we’ll just say that’s my brother’s name).

This explains why I watched T.V., movies, played video games, and fiddled with toys all the time. If I was home, I needed to be in my room. Todd couldn’t play with my toys because he would likely destroy them. (He would also drool all over them and they would get super icky.) He was also much larger and stronger than me, so if he decided that he didn’t want me to be around him, he could physically dominate me. So, me alone in my room was the safest and most fun place I could spend my time.

So, back on topic. 

I spent a lot of time in my room playing with Star Wars action figures. And when I moved to Florida from Georgia I made friends with many more kids that loved Star Wars. My collection expanded to not only action figures, but MicroMachines and assorted items as well. Then one day my enjoyment took a strange turn.

I thought about how these toys may one day be worth money. I think I saw one of my neighbors collection those 12″ G.I. Joes. They were nicely displayed and kept in the boxes and I figured the same had to be true for Star Wars toys. If their toys were important…so were mine. Star Wars was waaaay cooler than G.I. Joe anyway.

And I began collecting and amassing toys that were still in their packaging. I proudly displayed them on my wall. I would routinely make sure they were dusted and unaffected by anything that would potentially affect their value. I used thumb tacks and pin them to my wall. The tack would then but used as a hanger to slip the packaging onto. (I never punctured the packaging at all.)

I even had toys in boxes that I really wanted to play with. Still, I held out. The whole packaging issue became so important to me that I eventually started keeping the packaging of toys that I decided to open. It just felt wrong to get rid of it. Even if the price was now nearly worthless because the package was open.

This continued until I was around 13.

I stopped collecting and didn’t feel as proud about my mint conditioned Star Wars action figures. I guess I was growing up. Or maybe I was told that I need to clean out my closet or something.

Then the day came when I decided that I needed to put them away. They needed to be put into the closet with my Jurassic Park, Power Rangers, and Batman toys. They were going to be officially retired.

As I was putting them into boxes I started to think about time. All the time that it took for me to collect these things. All the time that they spent on my wall. All the time that I missed out on playing with these guys. But then I realized that I didn’t even play with my opened packed toys anymore… so why should these be any different.

I might as well throw them away.

I found a whole mess of packaging with no toys inside. It was just garbage. It had no value at all. So I decided to throw it away. Then I found some of those silly little toys. Maybe it was from Taco Bell in a kids meal or something. And I threw those away. I even grabbed a few opened action figures and thought about throwing them away…

But then I said to myself something along these lines. “Maybe I will want to play with these later. When I grow up I might want to sell them when I get into college. Maybe I’ll still think they’re cool and will find a better way to show them off. Hey, I can even get a job one day and I can start buying more.”

But none of those reasons seemed to be really feasible. I didn’t’ really think I would keep a hold of them for much longer.

Then it hit me.

What if I have kids and they want to have some cool toys?

In that moment I decided that I needed to do it because of them. Just in case they had a brother like Todd that needed a lot of care they would have some cool toys to hang on their wall. They could even play with them if they wanted to.

I would let them open the package. If they wanted to. I would still tell them they should not open it, but if they really wanted to they could.

And that’s the really cool thing about my young self I remembered today. I was thinking about my future children having my Star Wars collection.

I’m not sure if that is more nerdy than cute but I’m still pretty happy about it.

I just hope I find a wife who’s okay with me moving my boxes Star Wars junk into our first home.

If she asks me why I still keep these toys, I’ll just smile and say, “What if our kids want to have cool toys?

Still making flying sound effects with my mouth,

D.A.