True Confessions

Hello. My name is Jayne, and I am a gamer.

I started gaming with my first computer back in the early nineties. I had a four-year old and a one year old in 1991. I rationalized that getting a computer would jump-start their education, and having a word processing program would make my life much more productive. Gaming wasn’t a consideration back then, unless it was labeled “educational.”

We would have so much fun going to the electronics department to pick out a new game, I mean educational software. Underwater adventures counting fish, dinosaurs eating up the wrong words, just to get to the fireworks at the end declaring you won your certificate.

This was a wonderful bonding time for my oldest son and me as he sat on my lap watching me add 2+3 and then collect the gold at the bottom of the ocean floor. The bonding time wasn’t that long because playing on his swing set seemed more fun, but I knew we were building lasting memories.

Remember shareware?

As my son grew, we branched out and drifted away from educational games. We found ourselves victims of the shareware craze. It wasn’t long before we found the “Commander Keene” series. Since it was free and G rated, I let my son enjoy the game on occasion. Of course, when he had trouble, I had to be the one to “fix” the problem, meaning, get past the hard part. Pretty soon, I found myself anxious for his bedtime so I could have my gaming time.

Pretty soon, we found the game “Prince of Persia.” This game actually made my palms sweat as I tried to lead the Prince across crumbling floors to avoid spiked bottoms while fighting turban-clad guards with swords. I finally led the Prince to the princess, while my son proudly watched. That was a special moment for the two of us. I don’t think I could have done it without him cheering me on.

As my son got older we started to develop our own individual tastes in video games. I continued to gravitate toward the adventure; he liked the simulation games. Lucasfilms developed a couple Indiana Jones games, that I enjoyed while my son took to the “SimCity” games. This was a defining moment for us. I knew that we were drifting apart. Although he would occasionally play my Indiana Jones games to break up the monotony, I knew his heart wasn’t in it. The generation gap was starting.

On my 42nd birthday, I realized we would probably never share our love of the same computer games. My son gave me a very popular game that I never would have picked for myself. I didn’t like timed games. They made my nervous. I was a sophisticated gamer. I used my mind to solve puzzles, and lead my hero through mazes to reach his goal. I was exercising my mind; computer games were as good as crossword puzzles.

But there it was. The happy looking face of Flo smiling at me, and I don’t mean Progressive Flo. This was Flo from “Diner Dash.” I was supposed to seat, serve, collect and clean up all in record time. Oh, the rush when I got all-stars and the title of “Expert.” I guess you could say that this was the beginning of my time management period.

I dashed through “Dashes” and went looking for others. It was around this time I joined Big Fish Games. The days of waiting for your game to arrive from Amazon were over. You could download the game as soon as you decided what you wanted. This was nirvana. An instant fix. I went through all the “Build-a-Lot” games and a couple of “Ranch Rushes” but knew that I couldn’t continue at that pace. I soon developed MFF (Mouse Finger Fatigue). Was it time to hand up my mouse?

My television time was suffering, after all, and it was a constant battle to get computer time with two teenage boys in the house who needed their fair share of gaming time.

But my son wouldn’t let me disconnect from the gaming life. He continued to suck me back in. On my next birthday, he gave me a game called “Tropico,” introducing me to the strategy-based games. I got to be dictator and build stuff for my loyal comrades. How fun is that. I played through two versions of that game. If I couldn’t get two teenagers to do as I wanted, at least I could control hundreds of citizens on my little island.

Big Fish Games is a great way to enjoy a variety of games.

Big Fish has supplied me with cheap entertainment off and on for almost ten years. Most games are $10, and sometimes you can get them for half price. I fell in love with the “Mystery Case Files” games where you have to solve puzzles and find hidden objects. This was like being a kid again, reading the “Highlights Magazine” in the doctor’s office.

These days the industry offers a new alternative. Give the game away, and if you want something special in the game you can purchase it with game coins. “Farmville” and “Candy Crush”work like this, both of which I’ve played. I’m happy to report that I spent $5 total on the two games. I skipped my McDonald’s lunch for that week.

Although I am an avid gamer, I am happy to report that I have not mortgaged the house to pay for my game coin habit. This is an ingenious idea the gaming industry created. To buy a video game you usually pay between $10 and $50 and the game is yours; there is nothing else to buy.

This new idea of buying coins, diamonds or gold to spend in the game, keeps you buying. I read in a game forum where someone spent $300 on coins. As long as the game company keeps adding new levels, the game can be endless, and so is the revenue.

These days, I spend my free time traveling through the ages, building my city, raising an army and trying not to get plundered by the likes of Balls Chapped, Youbuttplug or Firecrotch90 in “Forge of Empires.” (Yes, those are real players, probably prepubescent boys or middle aged men still living with their parents. I can’t decide.) I am happy to report that I have yet to spend a dime for precious diamonds on this game. I prefer to save my money for the real ones.

 

 

Revolutionary War Women You Didn’t Learn About in School

“Remember the ladies.” In her letter dated March 31, 1776, Abigail Adams writes to her husband John, reminding him that women should not be considered second class citizens and to “be more favorable to them than your ancestors.”

I wonder if Abigail knew how much a role the ladies would play in America’s fight for independence.

I’ve always been amazed how this country came to be. I’ve read books about John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, watched numerous history series about the American Revolution, and visited historical sites. Every time I learn something about how we gained our independence, I’m more amazed that our thirteen colonies succeeded.

Our founding fathers were an extraordinary group of men, and plenty has been written about them. Some of their wives, such as Martha Washington and Abigail Adams also became famous. What we don’t hear about are the every day women who made significant contributions during the war. I must admit that I didn’t think about them until I started watching the AMC series “Turn: Washington’s Spies.”

By the summer of 1778, General Washington needed to know where the British troops were in New York and what their plans were. He realized the value of intelligence and appointed Benjamin Tallmadge head of the Continental Army’s secret service in November 1778. This new group of spies would be known as the Culper Spy ring.

Tallmadge recruited only those he could trust, his childhood friend Abraham Woodhull and Caleb Brewster who had served under Tallmadge in various major battles.

Among the members of the Culper Ring was Anna Smith Strong, Woodhull’s neighbor. She lived alone for most of the war, after her husband was confined to a British prison ship, and would use laundry hanging on her clothesline as signals for clandestine meeting locations.

Other women were in the infamous spy ring, but were only known as 355, the numeric code designated for a woman. These women supplied information to General Washington and played a role in uncovering Benedict Arnold’s treason.
Some women were known as floaters, “moving” information great distances, sometimes behind enemy lines.

Sybil Ludington was a female Paul Revere. In 1777 a rider came to their door with information the British were going to attack the nearby town of Danbury, CT. Her father was a colonel who had to prepare for battle. His regiment had disbanded for planting season. The rider was too tired to ride any farther, so the colonel sent his 16-year-old daughter to ride 40 miles, (more than Paul Revere) to spread word to the regiment. Almost all were gathered before daybreak. And she did it without a map!

It was easy for women to fall into the world of spying, but no less dangerous. Women were left at home while sons and husbands were off fighting. Many women worked as cooks and maids so it was easy to eavesdrop and they often had unrestricted access to officers’ and soldiers’ areas. Women were seen as innocent and non-threatening so it was easy for them to gather intelligence. They could easily report on supply levels, troop movements and troop numbers.

Lydia Barrington Darragh lived opposite the house where British Gen.William Howe conducted business. She would listen through the keyhole and smuggle out information when she could. When she learned of the planned surprise attack on Washington, she made up an excuse that the house needed flour so she could get a pass to leave occupied Philadelphia to get supplies. On the her way to Whitemarsh she ran into her friend Col. Thomas Craig. She relayed her information to him, and he relayed the information directly to Washington.

Some of the women left at home offered their homes as storage areas for contraband. Martha Bratton became famous for blowing up hidden ammunition and gunpowder before the British troops could excavate it.

There must be hundreds of stories like these that we will never know about. Every day citizens, doing what they could with what they had to help the rebels in the cause for independence. We don’t hear too much about the sacrifices and heroic actions of the every day citizen during the American Revolution. Sharing a few of these behind the scenes stories makes you see one more layer of our American history.

References:

  1. The American Revolution. National Women’s History Museum. https://www.nwhm.org/online-exhibits/spies/2.htm.
  2. The Culper Spy Ring. History.com. http://www.history.com/topics/american-revolution/culper-spy-ring.

 

 

 

Why Hollywood Should Strike

I hear some actors are going to boycott the Oscars. There was talk about all of Hollywood boycotting the Oscars to show their disdain for our new President. Too bad it was only talk. I was hoping they would take it a step further and go on strike.

Think about it. Has anything worth watching come out of Hollywood in the last twenty years? The last good film I saw in the theater was Titantic. Oh wait. I saw this animated picture last summer about feelings at the outdoor that was pretty good, but I can’t remember the name of it. But I really liked it.

In order for Hollywood to go on strike they would have to present some legitimate issues. Unfortunately, the only thing legitimate coming out of Hollywood these days is whiny, overpaid actors. But, if some precious silence comes from my efforts, it’s worth a try. Here are some “reasonable” grievances (by Hollywood standards) that they could use to strike.

Normal workers will usually decide to strike because of low wages, poor working conditions, or inadequate benefits.

Judging by some Hollywood salaries, I have my work cut out for me. According to Forbes, Dwayne Johnson at number one pulled in $64.5 million last year. Shah Rukh Khan (whoever that is) came in at number 10 at $33 million.

The actresses might have an argument that they could use. There was only one woman in the top 20. I know the Hollywood gals often complain about this wage disparity, so maybe they could organize a strike in Leonardo Dicaprio’s driveway.

I’m sure there is plenty of room for their picket lines.

I hear that Leonardo is a such a ladies’ man, he would probably welcome them and even cater a nice lunch for them: organic with the least amount of carbon footprint to produce.

The paparazzi will surely follow the gals so they’ll get plenty of press. What pictures the MSM (mainstream media) doesn’t get, the actresses will provide on their social media. We’ll benefit because they’ll be complaining about something that we don’t care about and not be making any bad movies. I’d say that’s a win/win.

What about working conditions? This could be a tough one to argue, too.

As I understand it, an actor gets to choose his working conditions. He reads a script and decides to take the role or not. If he takes the role, he accepts where the film will be shot. When he’s not on set, he gets a trailer big enough for a family of four that someone stocks for him with specific food and drink noted in his contract. Most employees are lucky to get a break room with a refrigerator where they can stash their lunch.

Let’s not forget that he also has someone to drive him to work, to tell him what to wear, a personal trainer if required and finally a script that shows what to say. Looks like an actor doesn’t really have to do too much for himself. I presume the actors are potty trained.

I suppose he could argue that his trailer isn’t big enough, or his cotton sheets don’t have a high enough thread count. After all, he’s been pretending to be this super hero since he was five and should be compensated for all this preparation.

We have one final reason, benefits. Most employees would like more vacation time, a better retirement package or help with health insurance. Actors can take vacation whenever they want, but they don’t get paid. Why not argue that they should be like the rest of the work force and get a paid vacation.

They could strike for a personal financial adviser, since it’s hard for them to think for themselves when everything else is done for them. And, if they do buy insurance, maybe they could fight for unlimited plastic surgery and Botox treatments.

From the little people’s point of view, it sounds like Hollywood doesn’t have a good reason to strike. Does that mean the actors should reconsider?

When the garbage picker-uppers strike, we have a problem. Garbage piles up, rats take over, disease spreads and bubonic plague threatens our livelihood. When bus drivers go on strike, people have to bum rides off their co-workers. Co-workers put up with it for a while but then find themselves compelled to join a dating website that requires them to be on call 24/7 so they have an excuse for not being available to tote co-worker to work. This situation puts a strain on the working relationship and on some marriages.

Pretty soon you have a hostile workplace and the company has to hire outside consultants to set up safe spaces.

If Hollywood goes on strike, the worst that could happen would be no new movies to waste, I mean, spend your money on. And Hollywood would be fighting for their favorite cause, themselves. There is no downside. Another win/win.

Everyone is happy and we can all go home. I’d have time to watch my Carry Grant movies, and if we’re lucky, the whiners will STAY home and give the rest of us a break.

 

 

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