This would probably have made more sense last week, but I was kinda tied up with the whole gambling/drinking thing. This week, though, I have turned over a new leaf, not entirely because I’m mired in a dry county. I’m sure tomorrow when I get to LA i will continue to maintain a monkish existence. Except I will eat more chili verde than most monks probably eat.
My Top Ten Christmas Presents
10. Commodore 64 Computer
I was finally going to enter the world of more powerful computing after being in TI-99/4A non-extended BASIC hell for three years. Machine code via PEEKs and POKEs of a non-sexual nature, it was all there for the taking. Typing in 1800 lines of code from Games magazine would certainly be worth it now, those games would most likely be Donkey Kong-esque masterpieces. Alas, it was not to be.
9. Six Million Dollar Man Action Figure
One of the first hugely popular tie-in toys, the SMDM doll had a ton of shit on it – creepy bionic eye (a peephole carved in the back of Steve Austin’s head), karate/lifting arm mechanism, skin you could fucking peel back to reveal circuitry! This was the pinnacle of 1975 toy chic. (Apparently, after 30 years or so, the peel-backable skin becomes just a hard plastic sheath, so some enterprising lads have come up with a foreskinish SMDM replacement skin. I’m serious, someone makes that. What a sweet world we live in.)
8. Don’t Break The Ice Game
A precursor to the Jenga-type games in which you try to prevent shit from falling apart. Provided early lessons about risk management and dealing with personal loss. There was another sweet game I got the same year where the goal was to fish stuff out of a sewer with magnets on a string – the name of which escapes me. They still make DBTI, so it must still be fun as shit if you are four.
7. Stretch Armstrong Malleable Action Figure
This toy was fun because it was filled with some mysterious mixture (best guess: 45% wet cement, 55% pudding) and every kid in the world was striving to pull the fucking arms off to see what was inside. It was also incredibly heavy – I once bludgeoned a cat to death with one. Okay, that never really happened – any self-respecting cat could easily dodge a 75 pound toy being swung by an eight year old – but I wanted to reiterate that I don’t care for cats.
6. Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots
Not much to say about RESERs – one of the best toys ever. I believe we managed to destroy ours in less than six hours, but it was fun as shit while it lasted.
5. Coleco Electronic Quarterback
Kids these days don’t have no ‘magination – when I was nine, I had to pretend that one bright dot evading three slightly less bright dots was Niners/Bengals. Now the Madden games are accurate down to whether Tony Romo’s facial hair reflects a Thursday, Sunday or Monday game.
4. Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle
Before the Six Million Dollar Man hit, EK was the doll-I-mean-action-figure to own. I was particularly psyched to get the Stunt Cycle and attempt to jump over like 60 buses. Unfortunately I didn’t have that many buses so had to just jump it off the table and shit. This toy actually didn’t work nearly as well as the commercials suggested, but still, Evel Knievel was the shit.
3. TI 99/4A Computer
Yes, numbers 2 and 3 on this list happened the same year, known as “The Christmas.” (Of course, there was an element of bribery involved, as I was being forced to move to what I thought was a shithole city. This was later confirmed to be true.) Two computers on here? I must be a dork. The TI-99/4A was a piece of shit, but at the time (1982?) it looked to be more powerful/versatile than a VIC-20. That’s probably the only time that “powerful/versatile” and TI-99/4A have ever been used in a sentence, but it did allow me to copy ridiculously long BASIC code for simplistic games out of a magazine. Those games were about as fun as playing tic-tac-toe against yourself. Still, nostalgia.
2. Murray Moped/Chick Magnet
The computer was to enhance the brainpower, but the moped was all about the chicks. Once the muffler went, it had the approximate volume of an asthmatic Harley and offered an unfortunate plume of smoke as my calling card. Still, mobility.
1. Atari 2600
The big daddy of them all – need I say more?
Bonus Wastedpotentialz!: Select Christmas Disappointments
Did not work. At all. Fuckers.
We always lived in a one-story house, so it was great fun watching a Slinky go down one step. Inevitably got all kinked up and was impossible to unkink.
Basic necessities – socks, non-thong underwear, Yellow Tail, dental floss – do not make great presents.
How can a gift be disappointing if it’s on the “best” list? If you have to pack it back up and take it back to the store two days later. We had an, uh, earnings revision – cash flow was less robust than originally projected.