April 30th, 2005

Salt Precaution

Alien Tennis Player Saves World

A couple nights ago, I tuned to BBCAmerica while eating dinner and saw a pretty blond woman with a dim grin sitting next to Graham Chapham, who was wearing a white lab coat. It was a Monty Python's Flying Circus sketch about alien blancmanges trying to secure a victory at Wimbledon against earth--and all earth's tennis players had been turned into Scots.

I didn't see the end of the sketch, as I had something to do when I finished eating. The next morning, I felt a little sorry. It's not often I see Monty Python on TV these days. As I ate breakfast, I turned on the television and was confronted again by the same woman and the same Graham Chapham. Earth's battle with the blancmanges had begun again.

That's a sign from the gods to me, it is, and I don't need to tell you what it means.

I'll tell you something else that's unrelated;

A few days ago I was walking home from Tim's and stopped in at a Round Table Pizza I used to eat at a lot when I was a kid. I'd been looking at it now and then, meaning to go in for the nostalgia or something.

The place had changed only a little. It was still a very enclosed restaurant, with only one wall of windows, leaving the rest of the place a somewhat difficult labyrinth of booths. I remember it having dark, reddish wood walls, but now it has white wood walls. Which was disappointing--it was such a dark, warm place with few lights before, which, combined with the name Round Table Pizza, always allowed me the vague fantasy that it was a medieval mead hall.

I was delighted to see that the very, very old Super Mario Brothers machine was still there. I remember it showing up at the restaurant at about the same time as the original, 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System came out. This was not your usual arcade, stand-up setup, but a sort of table thing that allowed you to sit down and play comfortably, albeit with a joystick, which feels pretty unnatural with Super Mario Brothers.

I sat down to it for a while, found that the A button stuck a bit, and proceeded to make a fool of myself on level 1-2. Like a bird continually ramming itself into a window, I could not shut off the confident feeling that I could jump over any of the level's pits. At Parkway Plaza mall, I frequently almost beat the same game on a newer, cheapie system whilst waiting for my latte, and here this machine of my youth, with its cunning, sticky button, was schooling me.

So that didn't last, and I was too slow with quarters to continue. So I looked the place over a bit more while my order was taking an impressively long time. I found that there was a new, separate video game section, where the place had accumulated a few of the standard, stupid side-scrollers of the past twenty years.

Among them was what I trust was a relic of 9/11--a platform shooter called Target: Terror. Its start screen featured photos of Osama Bin Laden and George W. Bush floating by in the background, much as one would expect to see a Ninja Turtle or a gun wielding anime girl.

You didn't condemn this sort of thing very harshly in the months following 9/11. Everyone was pretty unnerved and we sensed that maybe this was, for many of the more simple-minded around us, the only way of coping with the events. Now it just looks like the ridiculously crass artefact it is. A toy fashioned by and for people who have only a hazy grasp of mortality and the dangers of this world, and see man-initiated catastrophe as an a excuse for the glorious story they want to be the hero of.

The world needs the Mario Brothers.
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