Saturday, May 21, 2005

Power Pills

Because reality is literally bending in on itself in an unprecedented effort to keep me from doing my homework, Jessica flew in from New York this weekend for a hi-there-hello in Santa Barbara. It was actually refreshing to see someone be so glad to wander around the usual State Street bars — kind of like seeing all the newly twenty-one Nexites toddle around to bars like big kids.

So Thursday night was a drunken blur involving Kristen, Kami and too many drinks, but Jessica met up with us at Elsie's Friday night and we had a real grown-up night out, without getting so drunk that we fall down or Bill's Bus or anything like that. We talked about New York and big city magazines and job applications and being small fish in big seas rather than contented, well-sunned fish swimming in Santa Barbara's oily waters. It was good for me, at least, to hear that and get some fire lit beneath my ass on getting my life in line.

The value of our convo, however, was slightly undercut for me because I was sitting next to the Pac-Man machine. No one was playing and the game was flashing those screens it does to keep itself occupied until someone puts a quarter in. (I'm told this is called "attract mode," in case you're ever on "Jeopardy" and the category is "terminology from obsolete video game systems.") Anyway, this Pac-Man machine's attract mode involved parading the different edible ghosts across the screen and listing their names, one-by-one.

I was surprised to learn that the ghost's names change depending on which version of Pac-Man you're playing. (This particular arcade cabinet had the entire Pac-Man series contained in one unit, you see.) The standard four-ghost setup for the original Pac-Man is Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde. But those aren't the ghosts real names. Apparently, the game's designers decided to give them nicknames in addition to the real names, Shadow, Speedy, Bashful and Pokey. I have no idea why.

With Ms. Pac-Man, it's Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Sue, I'm guessing because they decided to better even out the gender ratio, what with the female lead and all. And in Pac-Man Jr., they switched Sue with Tim, though they still looked the same.

I find this fucking fascinating, and I'll never be able to explain way. So I totally probably missed something important Jessica said — a few words advising my career and putting me on the track to writing for magazine instead of writing for instruction manuals. All because I wanted to watch the ghosts.

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