Tuesday, October 16, 2018

SNES Omnibus Writer Spotlight #31 - Patrick Scott Patterson


One of the cool things about working video game conventions is that I’ve gotten to know many people in the industry, including Patrick Scott Patterson (a.k.a. PSP), who works to preserve the history of video games, both in terms of physical cartridges, discs, consoles, and documentation, and in terms of recording their history in print, including in The SNES Omnibus volumes 1 and 2. He also works as an advocate for gaming, frequently speaking to the media on behalf of the industry. Scott, the name he prefers to be called, is a devoted family man, a talented gamer, and an all-around cool guy, and it’s always good to see him at trade shows. We’ve even done a few panels together. Thanks, Scott!


Here’s Scott’s bio as it appears in The SNES Omnibus:

Patrick Scott Patterson is a video game advocate, historian, and preservationist. Gaming since 1981, Patterson works full time in his efforts to ensure the legacy of the industry and culture are not lost to time. Check out his work at www.patrickscottpatterson.com.



The SNES Omnibus Vol. 2 is now available for pre-order. Check it out HERE.

Friday, October 12, 2018

SNES Omnibus Writer Spotlight #30 - Jerry Bonner

Jerry Bonner gets paid to write stuff. A whole lot of stuff, as you can see by his bio below. Yet he, like many other "industry insiders," gladly volunteered to contribute stories (good ones at that) to the SNES Omnibus project to help preserve the history of the Super Nintendo and the 1990s in general. Jerry is also a devoted family man and by all accounts a valuable asset to his community, working for the Camden County Police Department.

The SNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and Its Games, Vol. 2 (N-Z) is now available for pre-order. Check it out HERE.
Jerry Bonner is a writer who lives in New Jersey. He’s had a love affair with video games since the dawn of Pong. Jerry has written for Gentleman’s Quarterly, IGN, Electronic Gaming Monthly, Ars Technica, Yahoo!, 1UP, Playboy, GameCrate, What They Play, GamePro, Imagine Publications (NOW Gamer, X360, Play tm, Retro Gamer, etc.),  Gameranx, Geeks of Doom, Deep Silver/Koch Media, Twist-Ed Games, Manwin/SuperHippo Games, Indie Gamer Chick, GameFront, Next Media Animation, Artistry in Games, Geekadelphia, Bitmap Books, The Sims Magazine, Pixelkin, Cosplay Culture Magazine, WaterMelon, and Little Player magazine. Check out his random nonsense on Twitter: @jbonner71.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

SNES Omnibus Writer Spotlight #29 - Jon D. Harrison

Jon D. Harrison is an enthusiastic supporter of and true asset to The SNES Omnibus project. Not only did he contribute some cool stories, including memories of playing Final Fight 2 for Vol. 1 and Street Fighter Alpha 2 for Vol. 2, he frequently helps promote the books on social media. As you can judge by his bio below, which will appear in the books, he’s also wicked smart. More importantly, he’s a nice guy and a devoted family man. Thanks, Jon!

Jon D. Harrison, MBA, ODCC is a TEDx Speaker, author, blogger, and podcaster. His unique approach to teaching business, leadership, and life lessons with video game analogy and metaphor has appeared on FastCompany, Entrepreneur, Lifehacker, The Good Men Project, Monster, The NY Daily News, NG4, IGN, The Computer Games Journal, and his site, ClassicallyTrained.net. His book Mastering The Game: What VideoGames Can Teach Us About Success In Life is available on Amazon.com.






Click on the pic for a closer look:


New Podcast! - Procedurally Generated Show

I was on a recent podcast, the Procedurally Generated Show, where we discussed The SNES Omnibus and other topics. Advance to the 1:06 mark to hear my interview. You can listen HERE.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Get Your Name in The SNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and Its Games, Vol. 2 (N–Z)

My publisher has a limited time (until Oct. 17) offer where you can get your name in The SNES Omnibus Vol. 2 by pre-ordering a copy direct from me. You will be listed in the patrons section near the front of the book. When your pre-ordered book ships, you will also get a copy of The Arcade and Other Strange Tales AND Old School Gamer Magazine #5 for free. For more info, click HERE.

Monday, October 1, 2018

SAMPLE STORY - The SNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and Its Games, Vol. 2 (N–Z)


Check out this sample story from video game journalist Keith Good for my forthcoming book, The SNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and Its Games, Vol. 2 (N-Z). It's a heartfelt, literary account of growing up playing Super Bomberman with childhood friends. Below that, you can read my review of the game, along with my memories of the game and some quotes. The layout of the book will be much better than what you see here, but these are the images and text that will be used. The SNES Omnibus Vol. 2 will release April 28, 2019.


Insider Insight:
We were three: Jon, Laura, and Keith. From the day we met waiting for the school bus, our number caused nothing but consternation. Three is not a number equally divided. Three cannot play one-on-one basketball. Three will not evenly distribute the penny candy which always seemed to fill our pockets. Only the swing set behind Jon’s house, with its three plastic seats, and bike rides to the comic book shop kept any truce.

Had we grown up in the ’50s or ’60s, we could have played three-player marbles without worry. Children of the ’80s and ’90s, though, were divided into two discrete groups: Player Ones and Player Twos. The NES—and its two controllers—always left a third of us (impatiently) waiting. Our rules dictated home field advantage won Player One, leaving the two visitors to barter and cajole for the second controller. “Take turns on lives” and “Each play one game” seem like perfectly reasonable sharing systems until you’re at level 8-4 of Super Mario Bros. and the game cheats to kill Luigi. Hand over the controller when the game cheats? Not going to happen.

We all had NES decks, but Jon was the first to get a Super Nintendo. I remember thinking his parents had a sort of technological magic; games seemed to appear in his room before they’d even been released. You can imagine my surprise, in an age before internet forums and publicized release dates, walking into Jon’s room to find him and Laura playing Super Bomberman. Their little avatars toddled around a block maze, setting bombs which exploded in fantastic plumes of red and orange flame. The music bounced as they exploded the computer’s players and each other. The game felt utterly bright and new.

I remember the darkness of the room, the midnight blue carpet, the curtains drawn. Jon and Laura sat cross-legged before the TV, faces glowing bright from the game. Two extra controllers snaked over the carpet beside them. I followed the cords to a half-moon looking hunk of plastic plugged into the player two port. I did some quick math and was left dumbfounded: four controllers?

I pointed to the peripheral (thought I probably wouldn’t have known to call it a ‘peripheral’ in 1993). “What’s that?”

Neither Jon nor Laura looked away from the screen. “Super Multitap,” Jon said. He always knew everything's exact name. “Four players.”

I picked up the third controller like choosing Indiana Jones’ Holy Grail. Super Bomberman felt like a discovery, like the dawning of a new age. Game mechanics quickly learned—blow up blocks, gather power-ups, blow up more blocks (and each other)—the three of us played together. It must have been hours. All three of us playing the same game, at the same time? It felt we’d finally arrived in the future, that following three-player Super Bomberman, hovering skateboards and flying cars couldn’t be long after.

Which isn’t to say our arguments magically disappeared. Who got to be which color sprite caused heated arguments and Jon’s habit of shouting “To the victor go the spoils!” after every single win often caused friction. But we no longer needed to argue over who sat out. Now, with Super Bomberman and a Multitap, we could have the best possible video game argument: who was going to blow the crap out of whom in the next match. - Keith Good

Super Bomberman
Publisher: Hudson Soft. Developer: Produce.
Maze, 1-4 players (simultaneous). 1993.

One of the best party games for any system, Super Bomberman maintains the basic gameplay of the popular, highly addictive Bomberman for the NES, but adds something crucial that is a trademark of all the sequels and spinoffs: multi-player action. The two-player mode is great, but things get really exciting and chaotic when three or four gamers go at it. This is achievable via a multi-tap adaptor, which is available separately or packaged with the game via a special release packaged in an oversized box called the Super Bomberman Party Pak.

Gameplay is simple, but hugely entertaining, with gamers guiding their BomberMan around a non-scrolling maze (a grid of 143 squares, placed 13x11), setting bombs to kill opponents and other enemies and getting out of the way before the bombs explode. Helpful items appear as you destroy enemies, walls, and opponent Bomber Men. These include extra bomb (increases the number of bombs you can lay on the ground), accelerator (increases your running speed), explosion expander (increases range of your explosions), indestructible armor (makes you impervious to explosions), remote control (lets you detonate bombs by remote), super bomb (lets explosions pass through obstacles like enemies, skulls, and walls), kick (enables you to kick bombs away from where they are placed), power glove (lets you punch bombs away), and more.


There are 12 selectable battle stages, a.k.a. zones: Normal, Western, Bomb, Jump, Belt, Tunnel, Duel, Flower, Light, Power, Warp, and Speed. Destroying certain walls reveals level exits; exiting through there after all the enemies are destroyed clears the level. In multi-player games, the last surviving player wins. The storyline revolves around the evil Carat Diamond and his cohort, Dr. Mook, who are hosting a Robot Tournament in Diamond City in order to steal BomberMan’s advanced combat abilities. The one-player game is a little too easy this time around, and the graphics remain simplistic, but that’s okay: the multi-player action will keep you and your friends entertained indefinitely.

Memories: When my children were little and my wife and I would go visit her mother in Tyler, Texas during the late 1990s, the women and kids would go to the mall or wherever, and I would strike out on my own, haunting game stores, used book stores, thrift stores, and the like. One of my better finds during these outings was a boxed copy of Super Bomberman Party Pak with the multi-tap and manual included. I paid $10 at a pawn shop. It is now worth around $200.

Notable Quotable: “An addictive game that does not become repetitious…The graphics in Super Bomberman are good and extremely cartoony. They fit the game well, as do the sounds which benefit from the fact that they do not get annoying after a long play period. But where this game excels is in the play.” - Electronic Games (September 1993)

Notable Quotable: “This game is the bomb! Magazine and game development houses across the globe have all missed a deadline or two to Super Bomberman’s charm. Certainly, the one-player adventure has its moments, but the true way to experience Super Bomberman is with three of your friends in multiplayer Battle Mode. It may look cute and happy, but multiplayer Bomberman is nothing but brutal and bloody because, once you start talking smack, the hours just disappear.” - Game Informer #100 (August 2001), which ranked Super Bomberman the 90th greatest video game of all time.

To pre-order a signed copy of The SNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and Its Games, Vol. 2 (N-Z) direct from me, with bonus items, click HERE.

The SNES Omnibus Vol. 1 is available now, and you can order it HERE.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The SNES Omnibus Vol. 2 -- NOW AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER!

The SNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and Its Games, Vol. 2(N–Z) is now available for pre-order! It will be available April 28, 2019, but you can reserve your copy WITH BONUS ITEMS today.


You can pre-order Vol. 2 through Amazon HERE without bonuses, or you can pre-order a signed copy direct from me (U.S. only) by simply sending $59.98 via PayPal to brettw105@sbcglobal.net. With your PayPal payment, please state that you are pre-ordering The SNES Omnibus Vol. 2.


For those who pre-order The SNES Omnibus Vol. 2 direct, for a limited time (until October 17) I will include your name in the book as a patron of the project. I will also include a physical copy of my book of short stories, The Arcade and Other Strange Tales, as a bonus item with your shipment. Plus, I will go ahead and send you a digital copy of The Arcade and Other Strange Tales right away. In addition, I will ship a physical copy of Old School Gamer Magazine #5 with your order. I will include some surprises with your shipment as well.

If you want an idea of what The SNES Omnibus Vol. 2 will look like inside, check out samples pages of Vol. 1 on Amazon by clicking HERE.

Volume 2 of The SNES Omnibus is a fun and informative look at ALL the original Super Nintendo games released in the US starting with the letters N-Z. More than 375 games are featured, including such iconic titles as Star Fox, Super Mario Kart, Super Mario World, Super Metroid, Tetris Attack, and Zombies Ate My Neighbors. Each game, whether obscure or mainstream, is covered in exhaustive detail. In addition to thorough gameplay descriptions, the book includes reviews, fun facts, historical data, quotes from vintage magazines, and, best of all, nostalgic stories about many of the games from programmers, authors, convention exhibitors, video game store owners, YouTube celebs, and other industry insiders. The book also features more than 2,000 full-color images, including box art, cartridges, screenshots, and vintage ads. Plus, there’s a gorgeous centerfold starring your favorite SNES characters. Includes nostalgic stories by such gaming celebs as John Jackson Miller (best-selling author of Star Trek and Star Wars novels), David Warhol (Intellivision programmer), Steve Woita (Genesis and Atari 2600 programmer), Rusel DeMaria (author of SNES strategy guides), Kelsey Lewin (popular YouTuber), John Riggs (popular YouTuber), John Lester (popular YouTuber), and many others.  

Below is a video I did of The SNES Omnibus Vol. 1. The next volume covering N-Z will be similar.



Sunday, September 23, 2018

The Five Count Interview with Brett Weiss

I was on the latest episode of The Five Count, a fun pop culture radio show. We had a blast talking Nintendo, The SNES Omnibus, and video games in general. Listen in at the 33:00 mark HERE


Saturday, September 22, 2018

The Last Star Fighter Prototypes Found

Prototypes for toys based on the The Last Star Fighter, a favorite film among video game fans, have been found. Check them out HERE.




Thursday, September 20, 2018

Old School Gamer Magazine #6 -- DIGITAL VERSION FREE



Issue #6 of Old School Gamer Magazine is shipping now. It's a pop culture-theme issue with tons of cool content, including my take on The Death and Return of Superman and Super Star Wars for the Super Nintendo. You can read it for free HERE.


Sunday, September 9, 2018

FEATURED IN GAME INFORMER MAGAZINE -- The SNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and Its Games, Vol. 1 (A-M)


I was delighted to discover that my new Super Nintendo book, The SNES Omnibus Vol. 1, took the #1 spot in the Fall Reading List in the new issue of Game Informer Magazine. Click on the images for a closer look. You can order a signed copy of The SNES Omnibus direct from me and find out more information on the book HERE.




Sunday, September 2, 2018

New Super Nintendo Game Review - Sydney Hunter and the Caverns of Death


Back in 2014, I reviewed CollectorVision’s Sydney Hunter and the Shrines of Peril, a Smurf Rescue in Gargamel’s Castle pastiche for the Intellivision. Now it’s time for Sydney Hunter and the Caverns of Death, an action/adventure title for the Super Nintendo. CollectorVision is an independent company producing games for modern and vintage consoles, and Sydney Hunter, an amiable Indiana Jones-type adventurer and geologist, is basically their mascot.

In this 16-bit expedition, Sydney heads to the South Pacific and explores the mysterious Sundial Island, home of Mount Doom. Deep within Mount Doom are treasures untold and a volcano god who demands human sacrifice. Tempted by a colorful jewel on a pedestal in a cavern within the mountain, Sydney ventures boldly inside, only to get trapped. You must help him gather treasure, battle enemies, and find his way out.

Armed only with a boomerang and a torch (for lighting the way), Sydney must run, jump, and climb through the various caverns, hurling his weapon at bats, frogs, ghosts, firebirds, snails, and spiders. There are also obstacles to avoid, including green slime, dropping water, and ghost flames (which can’t be killed). Tricky jumps will test your dexterity, and you must tread carefully throughout the game because one-hit deaths are the rule of the day—unless you are playing easy mode, where Sydney can find hats along the way. While wearing a hat, Sydney can take an extra hit.

There are no inventory systems to manage, magic potions to mix, weapons to upgrade, or other such complications, meaning some will find the goings a little light for their tastes. However, others will enjoy the simple, pick-up-and-play nature of the game. I find myself in the latter camp, especially since the game is deeper than it appears on the surface. As you make your way through the caverns, you must pick up crystal skulls, diamonds, and golden idols and carry them to specific places to make your way out.

Graphically, the game isn’t oozing with detail, but it does have a pleasant appearance, with a cute protagonist, nice lighting effects, glowing walls, and rising lava (when it’s time to quickly exit the cavern). From an aural standpoint, the music fits the mood nicely. More importantly, the game is fun, it has solid controls, and it presents a fair challenge.

As icing on the cake, the packaging is top-notch, old-school SNES, with box art by Joe Simko of Garbage Pail Kids trading card fame. If nothing else, the game is a nice stop-gap while we all wait for the highly anticipated Sydney Hunter & TheCurse Of The Mayan for the Nintendo Switch, Steam, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.

You can purchase your copy of Sydney Hunter and the Caverns of Death HERE.


Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Foreword by Brett Weiss

This year I had the distinct honor of writing the forewords to two very cool video game-related projects: The Bits of Yesterday, a documentary on collecting vintage video games featuring such celebs as Pat Contri and James Rolfe, and The Minds Behind the Games, a book featuring interviews with developers of such classics as Mortal Kombat, NBA Jam, and Yars' Revenge.
 The Bits of Yesterday was directed by Darrin Peloquin while The Minds Behind the Games was authored by Patrick Hickey, Jr. Both are great ambassadors for the retro gaming community.

Click on the image to read my foreword to The Bits of Yesterday:



Click on the images read my foreword to The Minds Behind the Games:




Monday, August 20, 2018

NOW AVAILABLE! - The SNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and Its Games, Vol. 1 (A-M) with FREE MAGAZINE

You can now purchase a signed copy of The SNES Omnibus direct from me, Brett Weiss, and you will receive a copy of Old School Gamer Magazine #5, which is the new issue, for free. Simply PayPal $59.98 to brettw105@sbcglobal.net, and I will send you The SNES Omnibus (signed) and the magazine. Thanks!

*Write-ups for 350+ games *2,000+ full-color photos *Nostalgic stories from famous gamers *History *Reviews *Memories *Fun Facts *Essays *Quotes from vintage magazines *And more!

416 pgs. - 230,000+ words - Large Format (9x12) - Deluxe hardcover coffee table book with dust jacket

For more info about the book, click HERE.



Click on the image below for a closer look. Click HERE for a bigger and even closer look at several pages via Amazon.


Free magazine with purchase of The SNES Omnibus!


Tuesday, August 14, 2018

SNES Omnibus Vol. 1 Book Reading!

The super talented Chris Baker has created a reading of my new book, The SNES Omnibus Vol. 1. More specifically, the chapter focusing on The Death and Return of Superman. You can watch the video in full screen by clicking HERE.





SNES Omnibus Writer Spotlight #28 - John Szczepaniak



John Szczepaniak is my kind of cat: a prolific author and journalist writing about video games. He has thoroughly explored a subject I know little about: the inner workings of Japanese game development. I'm grateful to John for his informative and entertaining contributions to the SNES Omnibus project. Judging by our interactions online, John is also a nice guy and a solid citizen. Thanks, John!


John Szczepaniak has been a journalist for over 15 years and has interviewed more than 180 people. He is also a novelist and copy editor. His trilogy of interview books, The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers, is available on Amazon and totals nearly a million words detailing previously undocumented secrets about your favorite Japanese games, direct from the developers themselves. He’s written for Gamasutra, Game Developer Magazine, Retro Gamer, GamesTM, Official PlayStation Magazine, The Escapist and Hardcore Gaming101, plus over a dozen other outlets.

Monday, August 6, 2018

VIDEO REVIEW - The SNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and Its Games, Vol. 1 (A-M)

Check out this polished, entertaining and even funny video review of my new book, The SNES Omnibus Vol. 1. Thanks to David Hoffman for a job well done. You can watch the video full screen HERE.


Tuesday, July 3, 2018

SNES Omnibus Writer Spotlight #27 - Raymond Fix


I was a guest recently at Too Many Games, a video game convention near Philadelphia. One of the highlights of the weekend was meeting Raymond Fix, an enthusiastic supporter of the SNES Omnibus who has contributed several nostalgic stories about the Super Nintendo. Not only is he excited about the books, his family and friends are as well, as I've discovered on Facebook. Ray is a super cool dude, an all-around nice guy, and someone good to have on your side. He's a true asset to the project. Thanks, Ray--you rock!

Here's Ray's bio as it will appear in The SNES Omnibus Vol. 1:

Raymond Fix is a former associate at GameStop and the writer behind Ray’s Backlog Blog. A gamer since he was six years old, beginning with the Sega Master System, Raymond is an avid collector with more than 700 video games and 17 consoles, including the Nintendo Switch. Check out his work at raysbacklogblog.wordpress.com.


Thursday, June 28, 2018

RIP Harlan Ellison


I'm very sad to hear of the passing of Harlan Ellison, who I met on a couple of occasions and even did business with during my time as a comic book retailer during the 1990s. We spoke at a Diamond Comics seminar in Atlanta and later on the phone. I even I traded him several boxes of comic cards for some first edition hardcovers of some of his books. Seemingly everyone in the industry has a Harlan Ellison story, and I’ve got mine. Next time you talk to me, ask—it’s pretty funny.

Harlan, who was 84 when he died, was a brilliant writer of dark and speculative fiction. Among other master works, he wrote “I Have No Mouth and I must Scream,” one of the greatest short stories of all time. I once wrote a parody of/homage to the oft-reprinted story, which you can find in my book, The Arcade and Other Strange Tales, and which you can read down below. I’m not sure what Harlan would have thought of my story—he probably would have hated it—but there’s one thing of which I’m sure: had he read it, he would have given me his opinion loudly and emphatically. I wish I could have absorbed that wrath. RIP Harlan.


Prior to reading the story below, I suggest you click HERE to read Harlan's tale that inspired it.


I Have No TV, and I Must Watch
  
Impotent, the tube of my television sat darkly, supported by a gray fiberglass cabinet, standing on thin, chicken-like legs. It had been drained of power by the powers that be.
When Scooter returned from the bathroom, he sat down on the couch next to me and stared vacantly at the dead television. I waited. A few minutes later, a frown pressed itself into his monkey face and he asked me the obvious question. “What’s wrong with the TV? You giving it a rest or something?”
 “Big Mister Smartie Britches interrupted Name that Smell,” I said. “He announced that Congress passed and he signed an amendment that says television is no longer to be considered a necessity. It’s the first amendment to the ‘Oh My God, We’re Almost Out of Energy’ bill in almost a year.”
Scooter was already as pale as cheap Sunday shoes, so he turned yellow. A trace of anger ran across his face, shortly to be replaced by sorrow. “Those sons of bitches,” he said. “Why don’t they just kill us now and put us out of our misery?”
It was our first hour without TV. He was speaking for both of us.
We sat there on the couch for the rest of the evening, each of us staring at the television, each of us wrapped up in our own thoughts, each of us ripe from the lack of a recent bath (Phaser-Man came on during Shower Hour), each of us sloshing through the mental vacuum that was left of our brains, each of us humming the theme to Whip Me So I’ll Scream for Cottage Cheese, each of us trying to figure out a way to get our television turned back on. Scooter, thinking of tools and batteries and other things he knew nothing about. Me, thinking of petitions and protests and things I was far too lazy to get involved with. So there we sat in the dark room, each of us clicking lifeless remotes.
The next day found us asleep on the couch. During the night, we had somehow become entangled, our arms and legs winding together like pretzels playing Twister. We’re more Shaggy and Scooby than Lois and Clark, though, so nothing came of it.
I pushed Scooter off of me and made him go fix breakfast. He came back with two bowls of instant cereal. Just add water and boom, there you go. No milk, of course. We don’t have a cow, and refrigerators were banned the year I was born.
“Thanks, Scooter,” I said, even thought I could barely look at the vile substance he had handed me. It looked like rancid jelly beans in a puddle of puke. It looked like children’s finger nails painted with fluorescent colors floating in fried pig urine. It looked like a bowl of maggot-ridden belly button lint. It looked like something really gross you wouldn’t want to eat unless you had sugar or strawberries or banana slices to go with it. We were out of cereal condiments, but I hadn’t eaten since the night before, so I greedily devoured the un-devourable mess. It was actually quite tasty.
“Well, what’ll we do now, Fredrick?” he asked.
I looked over at my rotund, Reubenesque roommate sitting next to me. It suddenly hit me just how hard he was taking this. He looked helpless, like Ernie without Bert. Like Robin without Batman. Like James Bond without a penis.
Truth be told, I was in far worse shape than Scooter. He merely needed television. Like oxygen, it was second nature to him. He rarely thought about it. Television was life and life was television and it had always been that way. He would die without it, but I was dead without it.
I don’t need television. I want television. I lust for it. I crave it like my old man craves teenage girls. Wait…scratch that. Anyhow, it’s enough to know I’m in love, but I was brave and I tried to convince Scooter we could get along fine for awhile without TV and that Big Mister Smarty Britches would give us back the power when it came time for reelection. I told him we would just have to get by until then, but Scooter demanded action, so after a couple of days of planning, procrastination and praying, we got off the couch and stumbled to the out of doors. Fresh air had never tasted so sour.
Outside our house we ran into a girl we had seen on TV who was on her way to McLuhan’s to buy a new television set.
“It’s not your TV,” I told her. “It’s Big Mister. No more television.”
She looked as though I were speaking Japanese. Somewhere in that television-addled brain of hers, billions of brain cells were scrambling to form a coherent response to my unconscionable remark.
“We’re also head for McLuhan’s,” I said, “but not to buy a TV. We’re going to get a petition started. You want to join us?”
“Sure,” the girl managed to say behind still-confused eyes. “I can’t think of anything else to do. I was going to organize my TV Guide collection, but it was just too depressing.”
So the three of us walked. Privately owned cars had been banned years ago, and we were used to having groceries delivered to us, so we didn’t get out much. It was weird being outside. And there is no way to describe the mental strain that not having watched TV for hours brought us.
In the three eternal miles from my house to the store, we were coerced by some unforeseen forces into the bowels of hell.
We passed through a fitness club.
We passed through a church.
We passed through a health food store.
And we passed through something called a library. I think it was kind of like a video store, but I wasn’t sure.
Along the way, the girl kept us entertained with her stories of being an actress. She must have been one of those people who talked back to their TV all the time because her mouth was a lot stronger than her legs. She was even weaker than Scooter and myself, so I carried her part of the way. She was grateful and had sex with me a couple of times when we stopped to rest, but it was no fun because Scooter kept giggling. I think he was stunned by how much more there was to sex than what they would show on television.
***
“How much longer?” Scooter asked, after we had been walking for what seemed like years.
“Not much,” I said.
Just then, a limousine pulled up beside us. A tinted window rolled down and who else poked his head out but Big Mister Smartie Britches himself. He smiled and asked how we were doing.
“We’re doing okay,” I lied, totally chickening out.
Scooter awoke from some hazy dream. “We need TV,” he said, sounding like a programmed recording.
“Well, as soon as Congress…” Big Mister went on about things none of us understood or cared to understand. “Have a nice day, my fellow citizens, and God bless America.”
As the limo drove off, we saw through the back windshield a small square of light that was obviously a television screen.
“I hate him!” the girl screamed.
Her eyes flared red, and rabies-like foam began pouring from her mouth.
“Let me tell you how much I hate him,” she said. “I have seven hundred issues of TV Guide. If the word ‘hate’ was printed on each page, it would not equal one quintillionth of the hate I feel for Big Mister Ass Face.”
She was hysterical and out of control. She dropped to the ground and began singing the theme to Green Acres.
Scooter stared at her and drooled. It was his first crush on a real girl. He flung himself on her and took a bite out of her cheek. She screamed. It was just like Robert De Niro in the remake of Cape Fear. I knew what I had to do.
I reached into my pocket and pulled out my lucky remote control. I pointed it in the direction of the fight and pushed the off button. The struggle stopped and the two lovers fell to the ground. I leaned over the prostrate forms and listened for the beating of their hearts. They were dead. Two less tax payers to fund Big Mister’s wacko laws.
I know I saved them from a miserable life without television, but I still can’t forget killing them. It was so much different than killing on TV. It was really kind of sad.
I carried on. I had a job to do.
When I got to McLuhan’s, the lights were off and the place looked abandoned, but a crowd of people had gathered at the front door. Their blank stares, pale bodies and hunched shoulders told the story, but I had to go for a closer look.
I shoved through the mass of animated corpses and saw a small sign posted inside the glass front door. It read: GONE OUT OF BUSINESS FOREVER AND EVER AMEN
I smashed my face against the glass and peered inside. I felt as though I were standing at the gates of Hell. The place was empty. All of the television sets were gone. They must have been confiscated by B.M.S.B. and his cronies.
In that instant, I sneezed. No one noticed.
Surrounded by couch potatoes, surrounded by ignorance, surrounded by everything but television, I knew death was the only way out.
Of course, I didn’t kill myself or we wouldn’t have a story, but I knew I had to kill everyone else who loved television.
I turned from the doorway, pulled out my remote and began firing. Like sacks of potatoes, bodies began dropping to the ground. No one moved to stop the killings. One woman whispered “thank you” as she died.
I walked around for several minutes, killing as many vacant, lifeless TV zombies as humanly possible. They were nothing more than poverty-stricken TV addicts wandering the streets, too poor to pay B.M.S.B.’s suicide tax, too brain dead to find anything to do, too stupid and ugly to let live.
I would have killed myself, but I have to admit that once again I was chicken. What if there’s no TV in the afterlife in Heaven or in Hell? I was afraid to find out.
Finally, I got tired and started walking home.
***
When I plopped down on the couch in front of my darkened television set, I felt my body collapse into a limp, jelly-like substance. My arms and legs were oversized grub worms hanging uselessly from my body. I sank into the couch like a bad batch of gray vanilla pudding. I was tired, but my mind was still intact. I could dream of Jeannie. I could wonder about The Wonder Years and Wonder Woman. I could lament Lavern and Shirley. I could fantasize about Fantasy Island.
I sat before the television set, tears forming in my eyes. I decided to go ahead and kill myself. With spaghetti arms, I managed to remove my lucky remote from my front pocket. I maneuvered it ever so carefully, pointing it straight at my heart. I pushed the OFF button. Nothing happened. I pushed it again and again. Nothing.
So here I am alone, living under a leaky roof, sitting in front of a dead television. The television I wasted my life watching. I must have known subconsciously that it was time badly spent, and now I know for a fact that it was. Even so, my will to live is gone. Without TV I don’t know what to do with myself. At least my friends are spared from this misery. Knowing that makes me a little happier. I wish I could join them…
I have no TV. And I must watch.