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Cj

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Louisville Arcade Expo 2013 [Mar. 11th, 2013|12:42 pm]
Cj
Yep.. still alive... just mostly living on Facebook these days, but there was enough in this past weekend to merit posting it all here.


So... The expo... I found out about it on Friday afternoon... it was a 3.5 hour drive from my home, and I didn't have huge, solid plans, so I said, the heck with it, I'm going to go.

While I had the opportunity to be impulsive, no one else apparently did, so I was going to go alone. In the interests of saving a bit of cash, I decided to make it a day trip, to save the cost of a night or two in the hotel. I packed up my vintage handheld game systems (Atari Lynx, and Neo Geo Pocket Color) (since they mentioned consoles would be there) and set off for Louisville at a nice, early, 7:30am

The trip down was pretty easy, and I had plenty of music along the way to keep me focused on driving, though, I did spend a fair bit of time muddling through what I would be doing costume-wise for this year. I've set some ambitious goals. I just need to make it happen.

I got to louisville with time to spare, and as I got there, I started to recognize the freeway exits/road signs, and it turned out this was being held at the same hotel that CONglomeration was held in last year. Doh! Since I had a little extra time on my hands, I stopped off at the liquor barn across the street and augmented my mini liquor bottle collection. (The chess set is essentially done, but I have decided I like the numerous varieties of small bottles, and I've got the space, and for the most part, this stuff doesn't go bad, so why not?)

My new aquisitions safely tucked away in the car, I checked into the expo. More or less a grand ball room, with the lights dimmed, and hundreds of arcade machines and pinballs, all set to free play. Many classics were there, and some were for sale, others were simply on loan from the private owners. I played a great number of games, reminisced about games I used to really enjoy, and got to see both some new, prototype pinball machines and some ridiculously rare, "I've only heard stories about them" games, to include the rare, head to head pinball table version of Joust.

They also had a side room for vintage computer and console games, also containing many cherished memories and a few systems that you really only ever just heard about in whispered conversations. I got to show off my Lynx set with a couple of the guys who were on staff, and I was able to set up at a table for a while to let kids try them out. They'd never seen anything like them before, and it was cool to get to share this bit of gaming history with them. (and, it was a chance for me to play some multi-player games with them, that I don't often get to play with folks).

On top of all this, I got to finally sit down and socialize with a couple people I knew from the steampunk community, but had never really had a chance to get to know. Ginny and Chuck were manning the table for the Derby City Comicon, so they were pretty much there for the duration of the show. Ginny had just gotten back from touring the Jim Beam distillery, which I wish I had known about as I would have gladly joined in on. We spent a while gabbing about games and memories and just really getting to know each other. It was nice to have some friendly faces to talk with. I don't mind going places alone, but over the last several years, it's gotten to be the exception, rather than the rule for me to go places without companionship.

Even so, over the course of the day, I had opportunity to talk with other game enthusiasts. I taught a lady how to play Track & Field, I swapped pinball advice with a trio of gents who were standing in the midst of the pinball area in awe of the assembled electronics, and they were exceedingly welcoming when I mentioned this was my first trip to the expo. They were locals, and I have to say, There was a bit of Kentucky charm.

I also was able to put my working knowledge of arcade machines to use by putting free credits on a couple games that were not set to free play for whatever reason. I made quite a few people happy by enabling them to play games they had never had an opportunity before to play. In between all that, I took a break, outside, to see a couple guys stuck in the parking lot. One of them had left the car lights on, and run down their battery. I popped over to my car to retrieve my jumper cables, and got their car started again.

I would have called it a successful day at that, but I received a gracious invitation from Ginny and Chuck to have dinner with them. I took them up on it, as Ginny had heard of a neat little local place that specialized in a variety of bourbon based drinks and food. A short hop down the road, and a couple hours later, we were all pleasantly full, happily surprised at the cocktails, and much richer for the shared conversations.

I took my leave around 9:45, and drove home, though I did stop off just outside of cincinatti to grab a quick catnap as I was starting to feel sleepy. Made it home, safe and sound, and lost an hour of sleep to daylight savings.

It's been a while since I got to do anything like this that wasn't planned out to the nth degree. I'm glad I listened to the little kid in me, and went to play.
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Irritated at the costume industry. [Oct. 25th, 2007|03:32 pm]
Cj
[mood |angryangry]

4 stores, several nights. (Now, I know, if you want a costume, best is to do it yourself. My youngest daughter couldn't really brainstorm up something. Rachael, on the other hand, envisioned, and aquired all the bits for her pokemon trainer costume on her own. I was impressed)

So.. apparently, if you're a young girl, you get to be one of these costumes....

Witch
Princess
Fairy
Cheerleader
Nurse
*maybe* a cat or a batgirl/supergirl

Boys the same age?

Ninja
Pirate
Storm Trooper
Darth Vader
Boba Fett
Harry Potter
Mr. Incredible
The Flash/Superman/Batman/The Thing/Robin/Hulk/Captain America..etc.
Frodo
Gandalf
Viking
Spaceman
Cowboy
Spongebob
and probably 15 other categories and characters.

I've never been so blatantly slapped in the face by our society. I really felt for my little girl, who just wanted a nice costume. Fortunately, supergirl fit the bill, and she was happy, but otherwise, the only other option that wasn't a stereotype was a box of movie popcorn costume found at wally world. I was beyond miffed, having gone to 4 other stores in search of a decent costume.

I don't know how you women do it.
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Revisitng "The List" [Jan. 26th, 2007|11:45 am]
Cj
For those who don't know.. I keep a list of movies that I have all my close friends sit through, with the exception of one movie, which is long, and a bit esoteric.. (Thank you shancara for watching it!)

but lately, I've been also adding some television shows to a new "List"

It's some pretty impressive stuff, in my opinion, and I suspect a lot of it has passed by a lot of people. Granted, most of it is relatively recent (in terms of TV).. like 80's and 90's.. with a few forays into the 60's.. (a particular episode of The Prisoner being one of them).... I'm going to have to put together a DVD of these shows....

The Storyteller "The Soldier and Death"
Amazing Stories "Mr. Magic"
Samuari Jack "Jack & The Scotsman" "Jump Good" "The Scotsman 2" "Jack becomes a chicken" "The Birth of Evil", and "The Scotsman Saves Jack"
The Prisoner "Many Happy Returns"
Tales from the Crypt "Abra Cadaver"
Amazing Stories "Go to the Head of the Class"

I should probably go back and scan through some stuff

Of course, there are a whole slew of episodes of "The Twilight Zone" and "The Outer Limits" (both old and new), that were well worth having.

Though.. the new Twilight Zones were pretty transparant.. I could see the 'twist' a mile off...

not so much with the old ones...
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Hey... here's the news that's fit to print. [Jun. 1st, 2003|10:11 pm]
Cj
[mood |silent]

Shortly after 4 this afternoon, my wife had a shortness of breath, went pale, threw up, and said her chest hurt. No.. not a heart attack...

I call 911...

the come...

they take her away... they don't think it's a heart attack.. they're not sure what it is.. we'll see you at the hospital.

I get to the hospital, kids in tow. there is this paniced nurse calling out for 'Mr. Biro'... this is not good.. she leads me off to one of those little rooms where the doctor tells you bad news.... I start to get that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.... Doctor comes in.. sits me down.. more bad.. they never make you sit for good news...

It's a blood clot.. at least they think it is.. in her lungs.... they are going to do a CAT scan to be sure.... but her blood oxygen levels are so low, they had to put her on a breathing tube...she's critical. Oh god...I might lose her.

I'm waiting in the little room, I set up the laptop so the kids can watch a DVD and be distracted. I see people run by the room, I hear a shakey voice call a code blue... (heart failure)... I just *know* it's her.

I was right.. Her heart stopped. She almost died on the way to the CAT scan.

her blood oxygen levels were dangerously low, her blood was in resperatory adcidosis.. (i.e. she was dying).. her pupils had stopped responding. They were pumping her full of drugs to try to get something resembling a blood pressure on her. They were prepping her for emergency surgery to try to clear out the clot from inside the vein.

The nurse comes in, tells me that if she's got any family, I should call them, and tell them to come, it's not good.

I saw her in the trauma room... tubes everywhere, eyes open, vacant.. I flashed back to the last days of my Father's life in the ER. It was happening all over again. I was about to lose someone else close to me. I was numb.

she, mercifully, stabilized... The doctors, however, weren't much help, talking to each other, saying things like "I'm amazed she got this far. I didn't expect her to". Jesus H. Christ. I'm standing right there, you don't talk about a man's wife like you're surprised she's still alive.

So, I'm at her side, realizing that this could very well be the end of her, and I won't even get to say goodbye.. AGAIN. I'm being robbed of my loved ones one after the other. Ironic that today is the day I decided to buy her flowers, isn't it? They may well be the last thing I get to tell her.

Mercifully, she didn't die. The initial batch of drugs they gave her to paralyze her wore off. she started moving her hands and her eyes started responding. She was responsive. Could answer yes and no questions. She was aware, but unable to talk. the tube in her mouth kinda makes that impossible, and her mouth was full of blood. I wanted to talk to her. I got out a couple things, but, she was in pain, and with some uncertainty, I agreed (as did she), to be sedated again... so she once more was unconcious.

To be faced with the prospect of losing her, just like that.. poof. gone. Was profound. If I ever had any doubts about caring about her, I pretty much answered that question. I used to think, sometimes, when I was particularly upset or alone, that I wanted to be alone, without her.. I understand now... I don't ever want to be without her.

I'm feeling rather stoic at the moment... There are people asking me for information about her every two minutes, her family, my family, family friends...I have no time to feel much of anything. I have to hold it together for the sake of everyone else. I'll find time later to deal with the deeper meanings of what I'm going through.
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Forgotten Movies [May. 8th, 2003|10:13 am]
Cj
[mood |Thoughtful]

As a followup to my 'must see' list.. this list is a bunch of movies that are just too damn good to miss out on.

The Great Race
It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World
A Funny Thing Happend on the Way to the Forum
The Producers
Around the World in 80 Days
Journey to the Center of the Earth
The First Men in the Moon
The Mouse that Roared (a better book)
Being There
The Omega Man
Soylent Green
Planet of the Apes (heck, the whole series)
2001: A Space Odyssey
Paint Your Wagon Clint Eastwood sings!
The Inspector General
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Clash of the Titans
The Day The Earth Stood Still
This Island Earth
Day of the Triffids
Sgt. York
The Pride of the Yankees
The Longest Day
The Bridge on the River Kwai
Support Your Local Sherrif!
Clue
Victor/Victoria
Loose Cannons
The Dream Team
The President's Analyst
Desk Set

This is by no means a complete list, but I think all of these movies deserve to be seen. Some are funny, some are thought provoking, some are just downright marvelous cinema. I don't think there's a bad one in the bunch.
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Now for a moment of frivolity [May. 6th, 2003|03:03 pm]
Cj
[mood |Hopeful]

Periodically, I put out a list of movies that people who hang out with me will be forced to view at one point or another because I think they are good movies, they say something about who I am, or they'll clue people in on some of the more obscure references I make.

Here they are, with some links to information about them.

1. The Quiet Man
2. The Princess Bride
3. The Raven
4. The Court Jester
5. Wizards
6. Silent Running
7. Forbidden Planet
8. Mystery Men

The Quiet Man is probably one of the few John Wayne films a woman would like, if she wasn't into John Wayne Films. It's quaint, funny, touching, romantic, and old fashioned. It's got appeal for both men and women and has an idealized version of what I see when I hear about romance.

The Princess Bride. A fariy tale for adults, witty dialogue, great story, humor galore, a great source of inside jokes. It's got everything! Sports, betrayal, swordfighting, torture, true love, giants, kings, heroes, villains, revenge, justice.. To pack more into this movie is inconceivable!

The Raven. Boris Karloff, Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Jack Nicholson. Loosely based on the Edgar Allan Poe poem, and I am being kind when I say loosely, it's got humor, excitement, a wizard's duel, and Vincent Price. I love this movie!

The Court Jester. Humor galore, and stars Danny Kaye, one of my personal heroes. Many many inside jokes, and some of the best lines I've ever heard. Get it? Got it. Good. A very young Angela Landsbury also appears, and starts her murderous career, well before Murder, She wrote. The Pellet with the poison is in the flagon with the dragon, the vessel with the pestle has the brew that is true....

Wizards. Animated, bizzare, a source of some great inside humor for me. My poor friend Fritz was never the same after he saw it. A long movie, and not for the casual viewer.

Silent Running. Quite possibly my all time favorite movie. The ending scene to the movie is so powerful, it nearly moves me to tears to this day. Great commentary on the short sightedness of man, and also his ability sometimes to rise above this short sightedness to do what has to be done.

Forbidden Planet. Monster from the Id! A classic in the sci-fi Genre. The first appearance of Robbie The Robot. The music was also done on a Theremin. Leslie Neilson actually has a serious role in this! Dr. Morbius is the kind of man I'd like to be, sometimes. Intelligent, distinguished, polished, and dark. What a movie! a must see for any sci-fi fan.

Mystery Men. Blue collar superheros. William H. Macy plays "The Shoveller" A man who beleived he had been given a talent for shovelling that was unique among mortal men, and he *had* to put those powers to the use of good. He was a hero for all the right reasons. A somewhat strange film, but still pretty darn good, and it has a stretch limosine corvette. How cool is that???

If ya get a chance, take a look at one or more of these movies. I do not think you'll be dissapointed, though, unless you're a die hard Ralph Bakshi fan, you might want to skip Wizards. Happy viewing! Tell me what you think of these movies if you do watch them!
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For those of you who didn't know him. [Feb. 27th, 2003|09:07 am]
Cj
[mood |sadsad]

I know I have mentioned it a lot recently, and certainly among my friends, that my father had passed away at far too young an age, from leukemia. To the dozens of people, maybe hundreds, that are reading this, you probably have no idea why I would dwell on this so much, or be so torn up about it. Everyone's father is different. Some have great fathers, some have fathers that were not there. I was fortunate. My father was a good man, the kind of man you would want to be when you grew up, and the kind of man who is so rare in this world. He genuinely put his family on a pedestal, and treated them that way always. Just being his son, I, of course, see him through the eyes of a child, and would be unable to effectively express the sum total of who he was, and is, to me. Below is the eulogy read by my uncle, at his funeral. While it certainly isn't the end all, be all of who he was, I think it accurately portrays my father enough that maybe you could see why I love him so, why I wish so much that I could have spent more time with him, why I wish my children would have been able to know him longer, and why I hope that someday I could measure up in the eyes of others as well as he did. If you'll excuse me now, I need to compose myself before anyone here at work can see me crying.


To his parents, grandparents and his aunts and uncles, he was "little Chuckie". His wife, brothers and sisters called him Charlie. He was known as "Chuck" to his co-workers, and simply "Mr. Biro" to the thousands of students that passed through his classroom. To a select, lucky few he was "Dad", "Grandpa" or "Uncle Charlie".

He was a kind, generous man with a great sense of humor and a big heart. His devotion as a husband, father and grandfather was perhaps his most endearing qualitiy. He was always the first to offer help to anyone in need. Chuck was in every way a true friend.

Surprisingly shy, he chose to be a teacher of middle school students, and found himself to be in his element in the classroom. Chuck was a born teacher. He loved to see the light dawn on the faces of his students when they finally grasped some difficult theory or concept. He took particular delight when sixth graders could understand his often-obtuse puns or jokes, as one needed to master the English language to truly get his humor.

Because he was a teacher, he was able to spend the summers with his sons, CJ and Robert. They passed their vacations together with day trips, flying model rockets, going fishing, riding for hours in the bass boat, playing games, and generally having fun while Charlie, always the mentor, managed to teach them as much as possible. It took a while for the boys to realize and to appreciate what they had learned when they thought they were out of the classroom. As they grew older, they discovered that their peers were not aware of many of the things that their Dad had taught them when they were young . What they assumed was common knowledge, many of their friends had never heard of or were not aware of. "Everyone should know what types of land formations are found in the Hocking Hills, don’t you?"
"The halo around the moon is because...? "

Chuck had many hobbies and collections. His students could get a head start on the day by checking out his tie tack. A skull and crossbones indicated a test was imminent. He had hundreds of tie tacks that he had accumulated over the years. He built model rockets, which he then took to the fields to launch. He started a photography club at school. He collected cameras and tinkered with photography, developing and printing his own photos. Some of his best early work was pictures of his wife and little boys. He appreciated and collected well-crafted knives and guns for the skill and metalwork of the artisans who created them. Most recently, gold and silver coins had caught his interest and he began yet another collection. He worked with a fishing club so that children who might not be comfortable on the football field could have a sport in which they could excel. The computer that he had taught so many to use gave him a means to continue to explore and learn when he became homebound. He could be lost for hours on the computers, using the flight simulator or surfing the Internet; talking to friends and, of course, checking out EBAY for bargains.

Chuck was a jack-of-all-trades. He was a woodworker who made his son’s cradle, a toy maker who helped Santa build wooden toys. He built a deck. No motorcycle went unusable if he got a crack at it. If a niece or nephew needed help on a science fair project, suddenly they had a winner. He could help turn a block of wood into a winning pinewood derby racer. Homework was easier if you had an Uncle Chuck. Even if you lived in Georgia he was only a phone call away. The best fireworks display in town was in his backyard every Fourth of July. Each of you most likely has your own story.

He found great joy in his two granddaughters, Rachael and Danni. He loved to tease them and play games with them. He would buy them educational toys - he was ever the teacher.

Charlie retired from the classroom early, due to his faltering health, but he never stopped teaching. Even from his hospital bed, he would elaborate or correct any discussion if he felt more information was required. Those of us who knew Chuck will always remember some tidbit of information that will come to mind at just the right moment, to allow us to appear just a little more knowledgeable than we would have been without him.

It is difficult to say good-bye , we will all miss him. Chuck would probably ask two things of us. First and foremost: to watch over his soul-mate and the love of his life, his wife Rebecca and their children. And secondly, remember to PRESS ON.
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