Musings from Brian J. Noggle 

Though this be method,
yet there is madness in 't
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Atari Party 5: Fellowship of the Joystick

  This year's Atari Party was a blast. As we've now got a SmartMedia card that holds more than 16 pictures, I can present a more complete chronicle of the festivities. Here we go:

The living room awaits its visitors.
The living room awaits its visitors. Gaming systems, from left to right: A Radio Shack Full Color TV Scoreboard, ca. 1979; an Atari 2600 with Joust; a Nintendo Entertainment System, shopped out by yours truly, features Hogan's Alley; an Atari 2600 with Ms. Pac Man. Unfortunately, one of our 21" televisions shot craps, which spared me the dilemma of extra system to hook up. The Sega Genesis? The Super Nintendo? My new TI 99 4A?

The bedroom.
In our bedroom, we've again set up the projector for the Warlords battles to come; however, we've got Combat up as the teaser. Notice we've moved two complete bookshelves and books to make room on the wall.

The den.
In the den, we've set the PlayStation 2 up with Karaoke Revolution 1 and 2. Of course, there's also a Nintendo hooked up so we can switch if anyone asks. No one will, damn kids.

The kitchen.
In the kitchen, the wine's chilling in the bucket and the refrigerator's full of beer. Upon the table, some light reading: The Official Nintendo Player's Guide and High Score! The Illustrated History of Electronic Games. I can't help it that they're the only coffeetable books I own.

One thing's missing, though. It's not an Atari Party without one vital ingredient. The Mark:
The mark.
My beautiful wife and frequent accomplice shaved the Atari logo onto the back of my head.

Guests in the kitchen.
The attendees have arrive. By 7:30, a number have found their ways into the kitchen, where the liquor is. Darbo and Bryce enjoy some Fat Tire, and Willr ponders something. In the background, El Guapo, CJ, and I lament the state of the IT industry today with former co-workers.

The cul-de-sac.
The cul-de-sac would seem to indicate that one house is having a party. Our invitation must have been lost in the mail.

Let the games begin.
In the living room, Adam and Sheryl enjoy an intimate game of Tennis. Looks like one of Heather's bicycling friends has discovered the Nintendo.

The karaoke revolution.
Some time later, after I proffered a rousing rendition of the Gin Blossoms' "Hey Jealousy" to comfort people with the thought that they could do no worse, the karaoke begins. Mike navigates through the menus to find the perfect song to highlight his 733t skillz.

Bryce exercises the pipes.
Bryce exercises his pipes to much enjoyment.

Meanwhile, in gaming central.
Hans and Willr transmute their internal hatred for one another into a highly competitive match tennis match. Hans favors the laid back one-handed control style, while Willr prefers the stability of the two-handed. Dave flails madly at Yars Revenge. I mean, he didn't know that he was the last Yar, exacting his revenge on the Quorum. Perhaps I was a bit condescending in correcting him, and I apologize, Dave. Not everyone's lucky enough to have read the comic book that came with the cartridge. Shaun's trying a little Nintendo, and Derek and Jenny heckle offer encouragement to the gamers.

Heavy Barrel!
Sometime later, David decides to destroy a madman's secret island laboratory. Or play Heavy Barrel. Shaun looks on.

In the Video Game Room.
In the video game weight room, Hans has offered to teach Willr to play Arkanoid. Bryce and Jenny have to see this to believe it.

Props to Hans, who last year with his all-Envision tag team managed to make it through all 36 levels of Arkanoid. Not on one credit, though.

Derek plays tennis.
Derek finally finds a competitive tennis match when he pits his right brain against his left brain. Is it more art, or is it more logic/mathematics? I forgot to ask who won.

In the dining room, members of the MetaMatrix Alumni Association laugh at Tom's wedding pictures. Actually, there might have been a witty remark uttered, but who can say?

Willrs lesson continues.
Willr's lessons at Arkanoid continue, and it's drawn some rubberneckers as Tim and Jenny watch and undoubtedly offer unsolicited advice. Mike tries the Thunder Blade.

Props to Tim, though; he's the only one to ever make it to the end in Thunder Blade; most people, including your humble narrator, get bored before that. Also, note he did not make it on one credit.

Jennifer on the mike.
The karaoke continues, and so does the blackmail (for a small fee, your photo can be removed! Click the e-mail link for more details.) Here, Jennifer takes the mike.

Let's hear it for Kristen
Kristen takes her turn. Does anyone else think my beautiful wife looks a little like Kirsten Dunst in this photo? Help me out, it's the explanation I have when I called her Mary Jane in a private moment.

Derek does Samus.
Derek, apparently afraid of the contagion on the lower level, vows to beat Metroid. Unfortunately, I gave away the secret ending. He's still determined, though. I'd give him props, but it's Sunday night as I write this, Derek. Go home.

More cerebral pursuits.
While the boys play, Laura tests her mettle on the Trivia Whiz.

Pixie triumphs.
Pixie, who claimed to never have played the game before, celebrates a Warlord triumph over Tim and some other dude.

Pixie is smart.
Pixie tries to beat Laura's high score on the Trivia Whiz.

Hot stuff.
After enough whiskey and wine, Heather will sing Donna Summers' "Hot Stuff". Oddly enough, no one would bet money against her.

Although Willr's wife Gina might have given Heather competition. Only time will tell if she's invited back.

This guy certainly didn't offer any challenge to anyone, as he did not display much technical competence while "singing" "Friends in Low Places", but he did have the proper twang.

Political discussion breaks out.
After enough booze, Bryce and Tom solve the Middle East's problems. Expressive hand gestures are the key.

Adam finds 720 Degrees.
I had to lead him to it, but Adam enjoys a game of 720°. I mean, geez, brah, we did buy that game just for you. Play it, dammit. His devoted and tolerant wife looks on.

One Night Only, Mike.
Mike, the backbone of the North Side Mind Flayers trivia team and a VB developer/family attorney, announced earlier in the evening that his bachelor's degree was in Piano Performance (of course, it's so obvious with his zig-zagging career path). Eventually, he couldn't resist and sat down at the piano. Warning us that he was not warmed up, he played some Joplin rags from memory.

Heather and Kid.
Heather spends a quiet moment with her new Kid Icarus cartridge on the NES. I know, you're all wondering, how does it work between an Atari boy and a Nintendo girl? Magic, I guess.

The party wanes.
Around midnight or one o'clock, the gaming peters out, but the conversation carries on. Jennifer, Heather, Sheryl, Adam, Mike, and Laura seem in good spirits, or perhaps just well into the spirits.

The hard drinkers.
In the kitchen, Jenny, David, Shaun, and Bryce seem in good spirits, or perhaps just well into the spirits. I know, I already used that line, but this is the last photo and I am shortcutting.

Seven hours of Atari mirth. El Guapo, Derek, and Pixie all ensure me that they went undefeated to claim this year's Warlords crown, and I believe them all. Next year, though, it's up for grabs, so start your training. You'll be happy to know my firm offers hourly Warlords rental. And since I told everyone how my new company is going, I am writing the whole thing off as a business expense. Ar0000! Undoubtedly, this means Atari Parties 7-12 will take place in a federal prison somewhere.

Thanks for coming, attendees, who included:

Adam Sheryl Bryce Tom
Shaun Laura Shawn El Guapo
Willr Gina Hans Kristen
Yonas Darbo Tim Pixie
Cathy Carol Carol's Guy Derek
Tim Pixie Mike Jennifer

Hope you all make it next year for Atari Party Six: Mark of the 2600.


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