Hypercard Dreams

In response to my post about a thread containing lots of yummy pre-Web hyper content, Alan Levine responds:

Back at the house in Arizona I have a virgin set of Hypercard 1.1 floppies circa 1987. To use them you will need a Mac Plus, SE, or Mac II, and at least 1 MB of RAM. Make sure you are running System 3.2 or later.

30th Disunion

Greetings to all my classmates from Reed College Class of 1990 who are celebrating our 30th Disunion today!

It was 30 years ago today that I graduated from Reed College, and it was also the last time I had to—and hopefully the last time I will ever have to—move. (That’s the first digitized photo I have of the house, it looks more or less like it did when we bought it, though it’s from ten years later.)

The spring of 1990 had been hectic, with Barbara and myself frantically searching for a house in a market that was beginning to heat up after the late-80s recession. The rental house we were living in behind the Standard Battery on 38th & SE Belmont Street had been up for sale twice before with no success—the landlord had even offered it to Barbara at one point with nothing more than a piece of furniture as a down payment but it was too small with literally no outside space—but the third time was generating a lot of interest. I’d been working on my undergraduate thesis most of the winter with the possibility that we might have to move (on top of working at Powell’s full-time and taking classes) at any time.

I’ve written before about finding the newspaper listing that led to us buying this house, after several others were snatched out fron under our noses by more-qualified buyers with better realtors (we found out years later she was a classmate of Barbara’s from St. Mary’s, too). Suffice it to say that if it hadn’t been for Barbara’s acumen and enormous aid in fixing stuff on the house from my folks to get an FHA loan, the whole thing wouldn’t have happened. I found the ad in March, and we started getting packed. whle I put the finishing touches on my thesis and prepared to defend what I am reasonably certain is the shortest critical English Literature thesis on record at Reed.

As it so happened, the rental house sold. We were able to move most of our stuff to the new house, but Frieda Rasmussen, who’d lived here for 48 years, couldn’t move until she got the money from closing, which wouldn’t be until early June, so Barbara, her sister Lori (who paid for part of the down payment) and I and our menagerie of cats and dogs couldn’t move in until June.

The day we had to be out of the rental was Sunday, May 20th. Yes, the same day as graduation.

My father’s step-father had been in the hospital and very ill. He passed away on the 14th, and we attended his funeral amid the roundelay of work, packing, and moving.

Graduation was held outside on the lawn in front of Elliot Hall, with then-Director of the Oregon Symphony James DePriest as the commencement speaker. The weather was much as it is today, heavy gray clouds with torrential rain both before, after, and during the ceremony, with proceedings punctuated by some poor souls getting drenched by an orgasmic release of rain that had collected on the tents.

The plan was to meet at the flagpole in front of Elliot, but my family went straight to the tents near the student union where all the food was (there wasn’t much of anything left by the time Barbara and I finally got there).

We were rather hungry by the time the festivities were over and my immediate family headed to Tom’s for what I remember as an unsatisfying breakfast. I don’t know if it was me just being cranky about standing in the rain near the flapole while most everyone I’d invited wolfed down appetizers or if it was the restaurant—where I’d eaten may times before—itself.

After Tom’s, it was back to the rental for the last trips—only three blocks—to the house. Then cleaning, although there was only so much that could be done. The rug wasn’t good before Barbara and Lori had moved in. There was a bunch of slumped plaster in the kitchen from water that had spilled at some point from the bathroom. There hadn’t been a lot of maintenance for a long time.

The same could be said for the new place, but it was ours. Barbara and I replaced the roof ourselves the next year, stripping off five layers of crumbling asphalt and wood shingles, putting up plywood sheathing, adding real gutters. Since then we’ve uncovered the original wood siding, and ripped most of the interior down to the frame (again, with an awful lot of help from my parents). We’ve been here long enough that the roof we put on has had to be replaced (not by us that time).

I’ve lived here more than half of my entire life.

Twenty Five Years and a Day

Yes, it was just over a quarter-century ago—mere months after the last issue of Plant’s Review of Books hit the streets in the winter of 1994—that I started trying to put it online.

I’d set up a web server on a Mac desktop model hooked up to a dedicated phone line using WEBStar. PRoB had been created with the then-industry standard publication software Quark XPress and I was working in the prepress business producing film for catalog printing, cadging high-quality color scans of the artwork (mostly by Eric Rewitzer) for the covers and center spread.

That was the summer I went out on my own as a freelance print and multimedia production person, then I started teaching Macromedia Director at Portland State University and picked up a book contract at the end of the year. Stuff snowballed, and by the time I circled back to the project to do the last three issues, my archives were in disarray.

When I’d worked on the magazine, removable Syquest drives were state-of-the-art and I had a mixture of 44MB and 135MB cartridges, but the readers themselves were tempermental and mine had died. I had transferred most of the content to digital audio tapes (DAT), and I was able to recover the Quark layout files but a bunch of the high-resolution scans and graphic were missing (probably because one issue wouldn’t fit on a single Syquest. Time went on and I thought I’d do a more thorough search, I transferred the archives once again to CD-ROM storage before the DAT drive (even less trustworthy than the Syquests) died, but never found the rest of the art.

Now, of course, I can’t even open the XPress files. The format’s so old that I don’t think even the current version of Quark (it’s still out there somewhere but it long ago lost the war with Adobe InDesign) will open them, so even the low-resolution previews are out of my reach.

Thanks to Chris Lydgate, my classmate at Reed and the publisher/editor of more successful periodicals for prompting this reverie.

Just a Box of Games, Box 6

Games not technically in a box in this short round-up. These are the hot games of the day, as things go around here, anyway.  These three games are sitting loose in the office for various reasons.

HellRail, third perdition
Mayfair Games,  2001
One of my later acquisition by far, I picked this up around the time my brother met his wife and we were playing Empire Builder occasionally. I thought a different take on the railway-building game might be fun, but we didn’t ever get a chance to play. The structure of Hell is defined in the rule book, but you build different routes depending on which types of sinners the deck gives you for hauling. I did finally drag it out for a couple of sessions with GameNephew, who found it fun, but you imagine explaining what adulterers or the lustful are to a ten-year-old under the watchful eye of his parents before you make the same decision.

Cosmic Encounter & Expansion Sets 1–9
Eon Products, Inc., 1978–1983
It’s a testament to how much I loved this game that it’s one of the few I don’t have the box for any longer, in any state. It broke down so long ago (and also couldn’t accommodate the expansions) that the box it’s in was a shipping box for Commodore 64 computer software. I feel lucky to still have this, because many yeas ago, I lent it to the guy who was the best man at our wedding, then he got divorced, I moved away from Eugene, and we mostly fell out of touch, but one of the last times we talked—after a period of years—I remembered to ask about it and retrieved the game. The game and expansions span my time working in a  game shop, so it captures that period for me perfectly. I haven’t counted everything to see if it’s there, but there should be 75 alien race cards, there are 6 hexes (planetary systems, partially under the manuals), LUCRE (the yellow squares mostly covered by manuals, sorry), Flare cards (next to the Space Warp and Hyper Space Cone), Destiny discs, tokens, Moons, alternate planetary systems and the Praw (on the backs of the systems), and the manuals, including the combined rulebook released with Expansion Set 9. Only played this one time since then, but GameNephew loved reading all of the histories of the various alien races, as well as the fact that he won the game we played, as the Parasite.

Frank Herbert’s Dune
The Avalon Hill Game Company, 1979
To say that I was unaware of this game’s status would be an understatement. It was actually one of the games that seemed like Avalon Hill trying to cash in on the late-70s upswing in science-fiction and fantasy games, it sat on the shelves for years, and—if you click on the photo and look at the player screens—you’ll notice there isn’t a crease on them, because it’s never been played. Some of the number chits are still stuck together.  But Richard—who first contacted me a few months back on Facebook because he remembered me from Gandalf’s Den—asked about it a couple months back, because there was a Kickstarter campaign to revive it this year. I was pretty sure I’d seen it not long before, and when I went looking, there it was. Copies of the old game are available on eBay for as much as $200 for a mint copy, but my plan is to play it sometime this month when Richard comes up to Portland on a visit (send him good thoughts because he’s living in the fire zones in Northern Cal!) along with a couple of other interested folk. The 40-year-old virgin game! What I wasn’t aware of until I watched this extremely well-done video linked from BoardGameGeek was that the team behind Cosmic Encounter were the developers.