07 Mar

Happy birthday, Slumberland BBS!

Today marks the 17th birthday of Slumberland BBS, the bulletin board system I started in 1991.

Slumberland is a Citadel board; that is, it runs one of the many kinds of Citadel BBS software. There was a time when the Seattle area had tons of Citadels. Mine is probably the last one standing. Up until only a few years ago, you could still dial in to it, using a modem and a voice line, but now it’s telnet only (if necessary, though, you can get there from a java applet on a web page.

When the BBS went up in March 1991, it was running MacCitadel software on a MacPlus. MacCitadel was OK, but it had some quirks (the kind of quirks that could eat your whole message base), and it could not network with the other Seattle Citadels. Which was important at the time, since most of us had no Internet access, so we used Citadel networking to send our messages across long distances. (As far as Texas and New York, which was pretty impressive at the time.) So I picked up a used 286 from my employer and started running TwitCit in July 1991. Later I switched to GremCit and eventually Citadel+, which is what the board runs today.

Slumberland, like most Cits, is a “message board”; it didn’t exist for games or file downloads, but for conversation. (Though we did have the odd file here and there.) We still post messages in the various “message rooms” (topic areas), and the software now also has live chat support, so many of us just hang out at Slumberland all day long, chatting when we can.

I wonder what I would have thought if, in March 1991, someone told me that Slumberland would be up and running 17 years later, and it would be the last survivor of the old Seattle Citadel network.

21 Feb

Seattle World’s Fair 1962 Postcards

Found via BoingBoing: a neat assortment of Seattle World’s Fair 1962 postcards. Of course, the fair was before my time, but many of the things pictured in these cards still exist, or existed for many years. (You could even buy surplus ’62 World’s Fair souvenirs in some of the Food Circus Center House shops until the late ’70s or so.)

This photo of Seattle’s skyline is freakishly sparse. I think I can see my house. No stadiums, no huge skyscrapers… something’s a little odd about the skyline, too. The sun is out but Mount Rainier isn’t there, and there’s a weird gray patch of smog or something behind Beacon Hill.

This name would not be used today.

The Food Circus! I’m not sure when it started being called the Center House. I know that when I was a kid it was pretty universally called the Food Circus. These days, if you hear someone slip and call it the Food Circus, you know they’ve lived in Seattle for a long time. The Fisher 15 cent Scones sign in this photo appears to be right where the Starbucks is these days.

I wonder if the Hawaiian Pavilion sold Dole Whip like they have at the Tiki Room in Disneyland? I have this postcard myself; I think I found it at a Value Village. For Seattleites of my generation, this isn’t the Hawaiian Pavilion — it’s the Fun Forest Video Arcade. I spent many, many hours there as a teen.

I love these Boulevards of the World! (Note that Uwajimaya had a shop there.) When I was growing up, the basement of the Food Circus was the “International Bazaar”, sort of like this. Anyone know if the Bazaar was there during the Fair too, or if it was a sort of carry-over of this concept in a different location?

OK, I haven’t really paid attention to the businesses on Fifth lately, but I know when I worked at The Rocket in the 80s, the hotel in the background of this monorail postcard still had that goofy sign. And is that the current site of Top Pot Donuts beyond it? Part of my heart breaks whenever I see the monorail these days. Sigh.

Along the same lines, I finally discovered the VintageSeattle.org blog, which I should have started reading a lot sooner. It has lots of great old pictures, postcards, and ephemera. Very, very cool.

16 Feb

This picture is not meaningful to most of you

While browsing Flickr today, I found this picture of the desk in the corner of the Cooper Point Journal office in the 1990s. I spent a lot of time sitting here, both in 1992-3 and earlier in 1984-85. I think I might have actually let out a squeal to see it on Flickr — with the little John Lennon picture on the desk drawer and all.

I guess this blog is all about memories lately.

16 Feb

Every bad fantasy novel must have a map

I mentioned in that previous post that I found a bunch of old stuff in a box. I found it while I was looking for my clips (examples of the writing I did for various publications a while back). I did not find the clips. But I did find some writing.

In eleventh grade I decided to write a novel. At the time, I was reading a lot of fantasy novels, so that’s what I decided to write: your basic quest story in which one character has an object of power and doesn’t know how to use it, but must take it somewhere to prevent Evil from taking over the Land, and this character has arrived in this land “beyond the fields we know” from our own world via mysterious means, yada yada yada. (The means were especially mysterious, because I hadn’t figured them out yet. I started writing the book with Chapter Two and figured I’d fill in the beginning later.)

I carried a composition book around, and wrote when I was supposed to be paying attention in class. Math class was particularly productive, when I wasn’t drawing caricatures of my math teacher. (Luckily, none of those survive.)

During the year, one of my friends read the book, as much as I had written, and said “You’ve read the Stephen R. Donaldson books, haven’t you?” Why, yes, yes I had. And it was indeed that obvious.

What does every fantasy novel of that type have? An obsessively detailed map of the “Land” in which it takes place, of course.

This was mine, and I worked very hard on it. Quick! Can you pick out which names were slightly changed versions of names in other, more famous and rather better stories?

I never finished the book. I have no idea how I was going to end it.

This is a page from the book. Keron was terribly Mary-Sue, but I guess that’s to be expected. I suppose it could have been worse, considering.

08 Feb

Times were different in the 80s

You might find the poem here offensive. Or just stupid.

I found a bunch of my old stuff in a box upstairs. In it was this satirical poem I wrote in the first week of school in 1982, my senior year at Nathan Hale High School. I ran off ditto copies (if you remember “dittos” you are no longer young, folks) and distributed them throughout the school. If a high school student today wrote this, I have no doubt that he or she would be arrested and expelled, and it would probably make the local newscasts. But in 1982, nothing happened.

(Of course, I also didn’t get caught, and made darned sure I wasn’t going to. I assume that at this stage they can’t take my diploma away for revealing I was behind the prank!)

The story behind this was that there were some stupid new rules that came into effect that year, and a principal I didn’t like. (Why? I have no idea now.) One of the new rules was that, even though we had an open campus, you were not allowed to walk off campus if you were going to your car. As there weren’t really a lot of places within lunchtime walking distance (walking distance, yes. Getting there and back during lunch period, no) this had the de facto effect of closing campus without actually closing campus. Which seemed pretty stupid. They could not enforce it anyway, as it turned out. There was also a new stricter attendance policy and some other stuff that bothered me. So I wrote this, partially inspired by the then-recent movie Rock and Roll High School, in which the Ramones show up to incite high school rioting and then the school gets blown-up.

I suppose I might have gotten suspended if they had caught me, but back then this wasn’t the sort of thing they’d call the cops over. In retrospect I suppose someone could have overreacted and called it a death threat, though of course it was nothing of the sort. It was just a joke, in teenage bad taste, and it was many years before Columbine and other school shootings sensitized people to these things. There actually was a school shooting in the early 80s — Brenda Spencer, of “I Don’t Like Mondays” infamy. But it didn’t seem to affect the zeitgeist the way the 90s shootings did.

(Of course, even now the vast majority of kids who joke about blowing up their schools are still probably, like I was, completely harmless.)

I also ran a KAOS game on campus with the tacit approval of the administration. KAOS stood for “Killing As Organized Sport” (I know, I know) and it was basically a game where you would hunt down targets (other players who signed up for the game, never random bystanders) and shoot them — with squirt guns. Eventually there would be only two players left, both looking for each other. It was great fun and completely harmless — and if I was a current high school student and tried it, it would probably get me a psych eval, expulsion, and a police record. But we were just having fun goofing off with squirt guns.

Here’s page 2 of the poem. The photo above links to page 1.

22 Nov

Emmett Watson’s Thompson Turkey

As a kid growing up in a Seattle home with a P-I subscription (and later the Times), every Thanksgiving for many years I read a familiar recipe: Emmett Watson’s Thompson Turkey. Watson printed it in his column every year, and though I’m sure it was just an easy way to slack for a column, and I’ve never actually cooked or eaten a Thompson Turkey, the recipe itself is part of the Thanksgiving ritual, right down to the closing lines: “You do not have to be a carver to eat this turkey. Speak harshly to it and it will fall apart.” Another local columnist, John Owen, had this to say about the Thompson: “A Thompson Turkey emerges from the oven neither white nor dark. It is usually charred blacker than a newspaper columnist’s soul. ” Jean Godden, another P-I columnist and now city councilperson, said “No one has ever eaten a Thompson Turkey and lived to tell about it. But that’s understandable because no one has ever actually baked one of the things either.”

So. Has anyone tried it? Anyone dare? I don’t eat turkey anymore or I would have tried it by now. Really.

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