Mar 31, 2021

And Then There Were Two



What do Angels DH Albert Pujols and Rays LHP Rich Hill have in common?  They're the only two players in Major League Baseball who will be older than I am when the 2021 season begins tomorrow.  There is one other who shares my birthdate - Twins DH Nelson Cruz, but every other player is younger than I am.

Damn, this getting old thing really sneaks up on you.

Mar 30, 2021

Free Baseball



T-Mobile is once again giving subscribers a free one year subscription to MLB.TV.  Unfortunately, due to the archaic blackout restrictions that Major League Baseball, you've still got to use a VPN if you want to see your local team.

Mar 29, 2021

Dad-a-chum? Ded-a-chek?



Priano Lobster Ravioli
Aldi (2021)
I didn't imagine that my 40's would be a nonstop party, but I also didn't think that my first year would be spent sheltered from a global pandemic.  After I get vaccinated, maybe there will be a bit more than groceries to write about.  As it stands, about 90% of the time I have left the house over the past twelve months have been either to go food shopping or to walk the dog, so photo opportunities have been somewhat limited.

These ravioli really are worth the bandwidth though.  They were very tasty, and while I don't remember exactly how much I paid for them, I know they were very inexpensive - maybe three bucks, give or take.



I did have to laugh at the serving suggestion on the package.  Apparently, their advice is that I skip the ravioli altogether and have a lobster tail with a side of cheese instead.  Come on, Priano.  Have a little faith in your little ravioli.  They're pretty good!

PS: Bonus points to anyone who understood the reference in the title of this post.  Kudos for your good taste in literature.  Long days and pleasant nights.

Mar 28, 2021

Quite Possibly The Coolest Human Being Who Ever Lived



Richard Garriott
Origin SystemsDestination Games
With the exception of playing games like Shanghai, Wheel of Fortune and Police Quest on my grandmother's Tandy, I wasn't much of a PC gamer in the 80's.  However, even though I never played any of the games from his Ultima series, I knew who Richard Garriott was.  Anyone who played video games in the 20th century has heard of him, or at least saw photos of his alter-ego Lord British in gaming magazines.

What I didn't realize until recently is that this guy's fictional personality pales in comparison to his actual life.  He is the only human being in history to have traveled to both the North and South Pole, to outer space, and to the deepest trench in the ocean.

I found out about this on Monday while listening to the Retro Warriors podcast.  At first, I thought they were kidding, but it's true.  In October 2008, the game developer flew on the Soyuz TMA-13 mission to the International Space Station, and last month, he took a seven mile journey to the Mariana Trench at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.  This most recent journey prompted one of the most entertaining magazine headlines I have ever seen.



The more I read about this man, the more I am convinced that he just may be the most badass human being who ever walked the face of the earth.  If there are any other contenders, I can't think of who they could be.

Mar 27, 2021

All This Machine Does Is Swim, And Eat, And Make Little Sharks



Jaws Dog
Universal Studios Japan (2021)
These photos of the newest Jaws themed menu item at Universal Studios Japan in Osaka were shared by Universal Parks News Today.  The theme park describes the Jaws Dog as "a super juicy sausage... with delicious dough and meat sauce".

Mar 26, 2021

A Random Memory From A Beautiful Picture



Café Terrace at Night
Vincent van Gogh (1888)
The quote "I don't know art, but I know what I like" is attributed to many different people.  I have no idea who first said it, but if I were to describe myself, I would expand on the first half of the sentence by saying that I don't know very much about anything.  If I'm being completely honest with myself, I feel that I am just smart enough to understand how stupid I am, but not quite smart enough to do anything about it.  That being said, I would not change the second half of that sentence at all in describing myself.  I do know what I like, and I like this painting very much.

I found a framed print of it at the Salvation Army Thrift Store earlier this month for $3.00.  The frame alone was worth at least twice as much, and the picture was too beautiful to not bring home.  It's a scene that I find myself falling into as I look at it; as if I could close my eyes and wake up in one of the chairs sipping an espresso and enjoying a warm nighttime breeze.



As soon as I saw it in the store, I had a strange and random memory come back to me.  I was at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel on the night of January 20th, 2001.  The only reason I remember the exact date is because President George W. Bush was inaugurated earlier that day.  That had nothing to do with why I was in New York City.  At the time, I was dating a girl who worked at a Hilton Reservations call center, and one of the perks of that job was that she and a guest received a free two night stay at the Waldorf Astoria.  While we were there, she had to take a tour of the facility with a few of her colleagues, but I'm pretty sure she got paid for it and I'm sure it was an interesting experience.

We spent a good portion of the day walking around the city.  I remember that we went to the Virgin Megastore where I picked up some George Carlin albums, and that we had dinner at WWF New YorkChyna was there at the same time that I was, but it wasn't for an autograph signing or anything like that, so I only got to see her from a distance.  After a day of wandering around Broadway and Times Square, we came back to the hotel.  On the way back to our room, I saw a man and a woman sitting at one of the tables near the lobby having coffee and casually chatting with each other.  I want to say that the moment burned itself into my memory, but it didn't.  I think they were in their late 20's, but other than that, I can't remember a single thing about them.  Not their physical appearance, their hair color, their clothing - nothing.  I only remember that two people were there, and for some reason I can't explain, that snapshot of their lives in that moment in time struck me.  This painting made me think of that moment, and like the moment itself, I can't explain why.  All I can say is that the feeling that I got when I saw those two people at the Waldorf Astoria on the night of January 20th, 2001 and the feeling I get when I see this painting are similar, or they're linked in some way.  The mind is a funny thing, I suppose.



This print now hangs in my kitchen, and for as long as it and I are around, I will be able to have my coffee and glance at it and wonder why it makes me feel the way that it does, and why it stirs up a random moment in the lives of two total strangers that I witnessed for the few seconds that it took me to walk past them.  I don't know art, and I don't really know what I'm feeling, but to be able to capture it for three dollars seems like a bargain to me.

Mar 25, 2021

We Will Miss You, Pops



George Segal
1934-2021
A very talented actor, who is being remembered today as all-around wonderful man by the countless people who he has known and worked with, is no longer with us.  George Segal passed away yesterday due to complications from bypass surgery.  He was 87 years old.

His career spanned six decades, including an Oscar-nomination for his performance in Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf, but I'll always know him best as Pops in The Goldberg's.  The relationship that his character has with Adam Goldberg (played by Sean Giambrone) is heartwarming and reminds me very much of the relationship that I had with my grandfather.  Thank you for the memories, Mr. Segal.  You will definitely be missed.

Mar 24, 2021

They Made Lots Of Money



Pet Shop Boys (1986)
Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe are the most successful duo in UK music history.  They released their debut album 35 years ago today.  According to Tennant, the LP was called Please "so people can go into the record shop and say can I have the Pet Shop Boys album, Please?".



The album included two re-recording of the group's hit singles - West End Girls, which was originally released in 1984, and Opportunities, which was released one year later on my fifth birthday.  It included two additional songs that were released as singles in 1986 - Love Comes Quickly and Suburbia.



The songs from this incredible album still live on to this day.  In May 2020, at the height of the Covid-19 lockdown, the Pet Shop Boys released the New Lockdown Version of West End Girls.  The song is not a remix; it's a new recording that was done for the Project Pride virtual concert that was hosted online by the Smithsonian Pride AllianceChris Lowe played and programmed a new track, which was sent to Neil Tennant, who recorded his vocals.  Neil then sent the recordings to be mixed by Pete Gleadall, and a music video was edited by Luke Halls using footage shot by Chris and Neil while they were isolating in their homes during the lockdown.
 


Additionally, the original versions of the singles from this album are as hot in 2021 as they were decades ago.  After being featured in a Super Bowl commercial, Opportunities re-entered the Billboard charts.  It's currently #1 on the Dance/Electronic Digital Songs Chart for the fourth consecutive week.  West End Girls also re-entered the charts peaking at #6.  It's presently at #17, but it has been on the charts for the past twelve weeks.  That's pretty good for a couple of new wave tracks that came out before Back To The Future debuted in theaters.

Mar 23, 2021

Game Over For My Smart Phone


Pac Man ARcade
Pizza Hut (2021)
This is one of the coolest promotions I've seen in a long time.  If you order a pizza between March 15th and 26th, it will come in this Pac Man box.  That alone is all the inspiration I need to pick up a pizza for dinner this weekend; however, this isn't just a nostalgic package.  You can use this box with your smartphone to play an augmented reality game of Pac Man.



After you play the game, you can share your score on Twitter and tag @PizzaHut with the hashtags #PizzaHutARcade and #Sweepstakes for a chance to win a free limited edition Pizza Hut themed Pac Man Arcade 1Up machine.  The drawing taking place on April 3rd.



Co-branded games are hit or miss, but this one looks pretty sharp.  The side artwork hearkens back to 80's Pizza Hut and the invention of Pac Man, which was inspired when Toru Iwatani took a slice from a pizza in 1979 and was inspired by what he saw to create the most iconic video game character in the history of the industry.  I'm not sure if the game itself has been customized for the restaurant, but it would be pretty cool if they replaced the fruit with slices of pizza.

I would love to start a game room with this as the centerpiece, and the fact that the promotion is only going on for less than two weeks means that I have a halfway decent chance of winning, at least in comparison to other contests that run for months at a time.



I had to go out and get a pizza from Pizza Hut to try out their augmented reality Pac-Man game.  Apparently, my not-so-smart phone wasn't up to the challenge.  It took five tries for the game to load, and ever since I played it, the phone has suddenly lost the ability to access my email.  Lovely.



The way this works is that you scan a QR code which takes you to a website.  Then, you set the pizza box down on a flat surface and point the camera at it by centering the ghost box around the Pizza Hut logo.  After what seemed like forever, the game finally loaded.  You can move Pac-Man around the screen using the little red dot at the bottom of the screenshot on the right.  It's got a heck of a lot of lag time, even for a touchscreen joystick.

My smartphone is several generations out of date so your results may vary, but I would have been happier with this promotion if it was just a pizza box with Pac-Man graphics printed on it... and I would still be able to get email on my phone.

Mar 22, 2021

Turtles II at the Twin



Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret Of The Ooze
Church Hill Cinema - Hazleton, PA (1991)
The sequel to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie made its theatrical debut 30 years ago today - less than one year after the release of the first film.  Like its predecessor, my grandfather took me to see it at the Church Hill Cinema.

When I look back on my childhood, it really is incredible how many of my happiest moments directly involve my grandfather.  I can't imagine who I would have been if I didn't have his positive influence in my life.  I am very far from a perfect person, but I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that any good that anyone sees in me is a direct result of having him in my life.  As I've gotten older, I see more of his personality and way of thinking in myself.  There are times when I'll say something and before the sentence is even finished, I realize that it's something he probably would have said.



There were three places in the area where I saw most of my theatrical movies before the age of 20: the Key Theater in West Hazleton, the Laurel Drive In in Hazleton, and the Church Hill Cinema on Route 309 just outside of the Church Hill Mall.

The Church Hill Cinema opened in 1969 and remained in operation until the year 2000 when it was put out of business by the new Hoyt Cinema (now the Regal Cinema) at the Laurel Mall.  They tried to compete for a little while, but they weren't able to hold out for too long.  The building is still there today, but it's split between the Jolie Health & Beauty Academy and the Jumbo China Buffet.

This is the only color photo I've ever been able to find of the theater.  It must have been taken in 1990, because Nightbreed was released on February 16th of that year.  Glory and The Little Mermaid came out in 1989, but it wasn't unusual for the Church Hill Cinema to show one current film along with one or more late run movies from earlier that year or from the year before.

Mar 21, 2021

Best Of Luck To A Real Swell Guy



File this under one of the dumbest things I've ever seen on eBay.



Someone is selling a college philosophy textbook that was published in 1947.  It's called Introduction To Aristotle, and it's a 650 page collection of writings of the Greek philosopher.  There's certainly nothing wrong with that.  The problem is that it's being sold as an autographed copy for nearly $500.  However, the seller isn't claiming that the book was signed by editor Richard McKeon.  They're claiming that it was signed by Aristotle himself.



Old Aristotle was pretty fluent in English for a dude who died in 322 BC.  He also seems to have made friends with a real swell guy during one of his time travel excursions into the 20th century.  On the other hand, maybe Jack was the time traveler.  Maybe this book belonged to Jack Dawson.  Before he went back in time to save Rose from dying when the Titanic went down, he must have gone autograph hunting in Ancient Greece.  Sure, why not?

Mar 20, 2021

Otterbots, Roll Out



Danville Otterbots
Appalachian League (2021)
Since 1993, the city of Danville, Virginia has been represented in the Appalachian League by the Danville Braves rookie ballclub.  This year, the league is being reorganized as a collegiate summer baseball league, and the franchise has undergone a very awesome team rebranding: the Danville Otterbots.

The Princeton, West Virginia team was called the Princeton Rays up to this point, and they have yet to rename themselves.  I'm holding out hope that they use DeceptiCondors and start a Transformers-themed rivalry.



UPDATE (3/23): It was announced on March 23rd that former Phillies shortstop Desi Relaford was named the manager of the team in 2021.  This makes me extremely happy, as it gives me an excuse to add an Otterbots baseball card to my Phillies collection.  Congrats, Desi!

Mar 19, 2021

Somewhere In A Parallel Universe...



Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind

Focus Features (2004)
One of the most powerful love stories I've ever seen was first released to theaters 17 years ago today.  I didn't see this one on the big screen, but I rented it as soon as it came out, and if I'm being completely honest, I didn't get it at the time.  I understood the plot, but I couldn't fully appreciate it.

I suppose that time has a way of making things more clear, because I get it now.

Mar 18, 2021

Twin Planets



The Stranger
Directed by Lee H. Katzin (1973)
Earlier this week, I spent some time watching old recordings of Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes from the 1991 season.  The second one I watched featured Joel and his robot friends watching a movie called Stranded In Space, which is the re-released title of a work from 1973 that was originally called The Stranger.  The commentary was funny, as MST3K always is, but after the first 20 minutes, I found myself ignoring the jokes and focusing on the movie, which was very familiar.

It's been a long time, but I know I saw this movie before.  If my memory is correct, I saw it on television when I was living with my mother in our apartment on First Street in Hazleton, which would have been sometime in 1987 or 1988.  I didn't know what it was called and I hadn't seen or heard of it since then, but the concept was so creative that it stuck in my mind all these years.  It's about an astronaut crash landing back on what he thinks is Earth, but it turns out to be a planet called Terra.



Here's where it gets really interesting - Terra is the twin planet of Earth.  It is the exact same distance from our sun, and it rotates the same way around the sun as Earth, but it's on the opposite side of the solar system in the same orbit.  Because their shared sun is always in between, both planets are completely unaware of the other's existence.  They can't see each other through a telescope (because the sun is always in the way), and astronauts never would have seen it, because no mission has ever taken anyone that far away from the Earth.

The movie itself isn't fantastic.  It's certainly not bad, but it's not as developed as the idea deserved to be because it wasn't meant to be a movie at all.  It was filmed in 1973 as a pilot for a television series, but it was never picked up by a network.  It was released twice on VHS - once under its original title and again as "Stranded In Space".  The renamed version includes additional footage in the opening credits from a completely different movie - the 1983 low-budget film Prisoners Of The Lost Universe.  It must have aired on television a few times, because I know we didn't have it on tape.  It was just one of those things that caught my interest when I was flipping through channels one afternoon.

The idea of a twin earth is absolutely fascinating to me.  It's a concept that goes as far back as Aristotle, and it's been used a few times in other works of fiction, but none that I've watched or read yet other than this film.  The most prominent of these seems to be the Gor novels written by John Norman.  I only learned of their existence this week so I know nothing about them, but they appear to be written in a Game Of Thrones style of swords and soap opera sexuality - not exactly my cup of tea.  There are also two 2011 films that are said to have included a similar plot device - Another Earth and Melancholia.  I haven't seen or heard much about either, so I'm looking forward to watching them and seeing their take on the concept.  It's also sparked a few ideas in my mind for a story, like a futuristic world in which a twin earth is treated as a prison planet, or a place for the wealthy to escape a post-apocalyptic environmental wasteland.  Who knows - maybe this will inspire me to stop being so damn lazy and at least write a short story.

Mar 17, 2021

Green Cheese



Sage Derby and Pesto Gouda Cheese
Aldi (2021)
I'm really starting to become a big fan of Aldi.  Not only do they have a surprisingly good selection of food for a good price, but they have specialty seasonal items like these St. Patrick's Day themed cheeses.

Mar 16, 2021

They're Magically Delicious



Lucky Charms Treats
General Mills (2021)
I haven't had these before, but I gather that the limited edition packaging refers to the color since the cereal is typically sold in a red box.  There doesn't seem to be anything different about the cereal bars themselves.  They're not green for St. Patrick's Day or mint flavored or anything like that, but they're a pretty tasty snack if you enjoy Lucky Charms cereal.

Mar 15, 2021

One Giant Leap For The Big Show



Paul Wight
All Elite Wrestling (2021)
Two and a half weeks ago, AEW President and CEO Tony Khan announced on Twitter that the company has signed former WCW and WWF/E World Heavyweight Champion Paul Wight.  The wrestler former known as The Giant and The Big Show has been brought into the company as an in-ring performer, as well as a commentator for the new AEW Dark: Elevation show that will premier tonight at 7:00 pm on the promotion's YouTube channel.

Mar 14, 2021

Fear.. Does Not Exist.. In This Marketing... Does It?




Bonsai Bites and Cobra Kakes
The Original Cakebites (2021)
You've got to stand back in awe of the men and women who came up with this brilliant idea.  It takes brass balls to make a product that so blatantly takes advantage of a pop culture phenomenon without directly licencing it.  If the Mr. Miyagi tree mutant, the Johnny Lawrence cobra, and the "put 'em in a body snack bag" lines weren't obvious enough, have a look at the back of the box.




Benny Bonsai has the ability to make a lot of money while hardly working?  Ouch!  I'm not sure if they're trying to say that Mr. Miyagi was lazy or if they admire his ability to buy classic cars while working as the maintenance man of an apartment complex.  How about their take on Kobra Kenny - an emotionally challenged sensei who slithers into a beer bottle when hes not listening to 80's music in his muscle car while chanting "Kobra Kakes for life"?  Dude, this almost puts the origin story of the Baby Ruth to shame.

Lest anyone think I'm being sarcastic with my praise, let me assure you that I am not.  This is an absolutely brilliant and fun campaign that I have the utmost respect and admiration for.  It's also a surprisingly delicious snack cake.



I've never heard of The Original Cakebites or Cookies United, and I don't remember ever trying any of their products before now, but they definitely exceeded my expectations.  After years of disappointing Hostess products, I was expecting that these would be kind of bland, overly sweet and that both flavors would taste pretty much the same.  Instead, I was happy to find a very tasty snack that I would definitely buy again even without the Karate Kid and Cobra Kai packaging.  The Bonsai Bites have a very pleasant vanilla blueberry flavor.  The Cobra Kakes are even better, with a chocolate coconut flavor that reminded me of Mounds.  It's not advertised as coconut, and I didn't see coconut in the ingredients, but that's how they tasted to me.

One of the things from the ingredient statement that did jump out at me is the fact that they use natural and artificial flavors.  Fast food and consumer packaged goods producers have been moving away from artificial flavors in recent years, and I think that many of their products have suffered as a result.  I worked for a candy company at a time when they decided to transition their entire product catalog to a new "no artificial flavors" recipe, and in my opinion, everything we made was less tasty than it was before the change.  I have yet to hear a convincing argument to stop eating artificial flavors - just a lot of vague health slogans with little to no actual science behind them - so when I'm looking for a snack, I actively avoid products with packages that boast that they're using a new formula with all natural flavors.  Natural doesn't mean better, or more healthful.  If anything, it makes me wonder if natural flavors have become more cost-effective to use than high quality artificial flavors.
 


One thing is for certain - I will be clearing out a spot in my freezer and stocking up on these bad boys while they're still available.

Mar 13, 2021

Care For A Bowl Of Pop Tart Soup?



Giga Bites: The Hacker Cookbook
Jenz Johnson (1994)
This book was recently shared on Twitter by @dosnostalgic.  It's an actual cookbook with recipes that are allegedly "the best kept secrets from the high tech hallways of Silicon Valley".  At first glance, I thought this might make for a fun kitchen project - find a recipe or two that looks interesting and give it a shot.  After about three minutes of browsing through recipes for things like Liverwurst & Anchovy Tub. Paper Bag Surprise and Cold Pop Tart Soup, I decided against it.  They've even got a recipe for Breakfast Cheetos that makes use of soy sauce and mustard.

The whole book is available for free on archive.org, so you can go ahead if any of these things sound good to you.  Don't say I didn't warn you.

Mar 12, 2021

I Am An Esteemed Moose Watcher



Bullwinkle Fan Club Certificate

This was recently shared on Twitter by @WolvertonComic.  According to Darrell Van Citters, author of The Art Of Jay Ward Productions, the certificate and membership card were both designed by Sam Clayberger.



If you were the villain type, you could also join the Boris Badenov Fan Club.  Your membership card entitled you to attend a wide variety of violent acts that were meant to be ridiculous and outlandish, like the villainous antagonist who spent his career trying to get the best of Moose and Squirrel.  Unfortunately, with the real life acts of violence in the world today, the humor falls pretty flat in 2021.  On a much happier note, the artwork was drawn by Allan Burns.  He worked with Jay Ward in the early 60's and went on to co-create The Munsters and The Mary Tyler Moore Show with James L. Brooks (source: Art of Jay Ward blog).

Mar 11, 2021

The King Has Disappointing Buns



Sourdough King
Burger King (2021)
This is proof that I will literally buy anything if a fast food company labels it as "for a limited time".  In my life, there have been times when I was dead tired and didn't want to move, and if we were having hamburgers or hot dogs for dinner, I would still drag myself out to the store to buy a pack of buns so that I didn't have to eat it on plain bread.  I have no idea why I feel so strongly about this.  Logically, I know it would be perfectly fine, but something in my brain tells me that I can't eat a burger or a hot dog using two slices of bread instead of a bun.  However, Burger King comes along and says "hey fattie, for a limited time, we're making bacon cheeseburgers on plain old bread" and there I am at the drive thru like a lab rat smacking his face against the button for a food pellet.



It's just what I thought it would be - a bacon double cheeseburger with bread in place of the bun.  Go ahead and call it sourdough if you want to, but it's tastes like plain old regular bread.

It wasn't bad, but good lord, Burger King.  You guys are making one pound monstrosity burgers over in Japan right now, and all we get is fancy Wonderbread?  Come on, stop torturing me!



They did have pretty cool looking Cheesy Tots though.  I'd love to tell you how they are, but the friendly neighborhood Burger King drive thru forgot to put them in my bag.  Better luck next time, lab rat.

Mar 10, 2021

Holy Cripes, They're Coming Out The Pipes



Mario Bros.
Atari (1983)
In celebration of Mar. 10, here is the ad for the first Mario game that I ever owned or played.

Mar 9, 2021

Super Expensive Poster



Soundgarden Superunknown poster
Funky Enterprises Inc (1994)
This blacklight poster was hanging on my bedroom wall in the mid 90's when I was in high school.  I'm not sure what ever happened to mine, but it probably got damaged and thrown away at some point before I got my first apartment because I don't remember it being there.  I was listening to Soundgarden a few days ago, and it inspired me to see if I could find it on eBay.  I thought maybe if I could find one for five bucks, maybe I'd order it and hang it up in the garage.



Well, I found one all right... for $725.  They even have the audacity to charge $15 shipping.  I don't know who in this world is throwing $740 away on a 27 year old Soundgarden poster, but it sure as hell isn't going to be me.

Mar 8, 2021

Getting A Handle On My Instant Ramen Addiction



Cup Noodle Mug
Nissin Foods
Laugh if you want to, but this little plastic mug has really come in handy.

Mar 7, 2021

Found Floppies



I found these at The Salvation Army yesterday for .99 cents each.  No computer in my house has a 5 ¼ floppy drive, but I've always wanted to buy cheap vintage parts and build a computer specifically for the purpose of playing vintage PC games on the original hardware.  Considering it would be made up of components that are decades out of date, I don't imagine it would be too expensive.  The real question is whether or not I have enough patience to see the project through to its end.

If I ever do, I'll have a pretty nice selection of 80's and early 90's games to start off with.
 


There's a pretty interesting mix of games here.  Some of them are games that I've heard of while others are completely unfamiliar to me, but I've taken photos of them all so that I could do some research and learn a little bit about each of them.



Golden Oldies Volume 1: an early classic game compilation disk that was published by Software Country in 1985.  It includes four games.  The first is Adventure, a text adventure from 1982.  Next is Eliza, a program that was originally designed in the late 60's to act as a simulation of a psychotherapist.  The third is Life, which I don't understand at all.  I've looked up the description on the back of the box, and I've watched a video of it being played, but I couldn't even begin to offer a guess as to what's going on.  The fourth game is Pong, which requires no explanation.

Hacker: this game was created by Steve Cartwright.  He is the programmer responsible for developing some of my favorite Activision games for the Atari 2600, including Megamania, Plaque Attack, Frostbite, and Seaquest.  It's been described as a very challenging adventure/puzzle game in which you play a hacker who has broken into the computers of an evil corporation that has plans for world domination.
 


Railroad Tycoon: a business simulation game that was created by Sid Meier and released in 1990 - one year before the first game in his Civilization series.  The label has a copyright date of 1992.  I'm not sure if this means that this is an updated version, or if the IBM port took two years to come out.  Either way, the idea of the game to build and run a successful railroad while putting the competition out of business.

Sublogic Flight Simulator II: this was originally released in 1983 for the Apple II and is an early example of a flight simulator that used real-world scenery.



Silent Service: like Railroad Tycoon, this game was designed by Sid Meyer.  It's a World War II submarine simulation game that was originally released for the Commodore 64 in 1985.  This Atari version was released shortly afterward.  It was ported to the NES by Rare (released by Konami) in 1989.

F-15 Strike Eagle: another Sid Meyer game, this game was first released for Atari 8-bit computers in 1984 and continued to be ported to other platforms for nearly ten years.  The most recent ports came out for the NES in 1992 and for the Nintendo Game Boy and Sega Game Gear in 1993.

Decision In The Desert: this is such a great title for a game.  I'd like to believe that it's a game where an ordinary guy who happens to live in a desert climate goes through his life making everyday, mundane choices.  Coke or Pepsi?  Bus or subway?  Soup or sandwich?  The decision is yours!  Of course, it's yet another Sid Meyer war strategy game.  This time, it's focused around the battles that took place in North Africa during World War II.  The reviews I read for it were glowing, but these war simulators aren't my favorite type of game, so I can't imagine I'll spend a lot of time on any of these MicroProse games.



Bill Budge's Pinball Construction Set: unlike the previous five games I mentioned, this really is my type of game.  As the name suggests, this game allows you to use an editor to create and play your own pinball machines.  It also allowed you to save the pinball machines that you have created to a floppy disk and share them with your friends, who could then play it straight from the disk even if they didn't own a copy of the game that you used to build it, which is pretty awesome.  It was originally released for the Apple II in 1982 and was re-released for other computers throughout the 80's.  In 1993, Bill Budge created an updated version called Virtual Pinball for the Sega Genesis.

The Seven Cities Of Gold: this Electronic Arts game was released in 1984 on a number of operating systems, but this Atari one is the only full version that didn't have to make compromises for functionality.  It's an open world strategy game in which you play a 15th century Spanish conquistador who is searching for gold in the new world.
 


Wargame Construction Set: when I see the Strategic Simulations Inc logo, the first thing that I think of is Dungeons & Dragons.  The second thing I think of is how 99% of my knowledge of D&D comes from the Saturday morning cartoon series and the first season of Stranger Things.  That is to say that I've never played it and know almost nothing about it, but the reason I associate the SSI logo with it is because they created the official computer game versions of Dungeons & DragonsWargame Construction Set has nothing whatsoever to do with D&D.  It's a game that allows you to create and play out war scenarios from various time periods in human history.

Rails West: this is an economic simulation game that was released by SSI in 1984.  As the name suggests, it's focused on the role played by the transcontinental railroads in the 19th century westward expansion in North America.  I wasn't able to find too much information on the history of this game, but there are YouTube videos that show it being played.  A quick search on eBay revealed that different versions were made for Atari, Apple II and Commodore 64.  The ones that are up there now have a pretty high asking price, but they all seem to be complete in box.  I have no idea if the floppy by itself is sought after, but since this isn't really the type of game I tend to enjoy, I might end up flipping this one.



Monopoly Deluxe: I watched a playthrough of this 1992 release by Virgin Games and it looked very familiar.  The Monopoly game that I remember playing when I was a kid was the Sega Master System version, but after seeing this video, I'm pretty sure that I had the Windows version at some point in the 90's too.

The Chessmaster 2000: this is the first game in The Chessmaster series.  These games were produced over two decades, from 1986 to 2007, and it's easy to see why it was so popular for so many years.  If you enjoy relaxing with a nice game of chess, there is nothing here not to love. 
 


Tom & Jerry: there were a few different Tom & Jerry games that were developed around 1990, and I don't know for sure which one this is.  If I had to guess, I'd say that it's probably Tom & Jerry's Cat-astrophe, which was released by Hi-Tech Expressions, but it wasn't the only Tom & Jerry game they released, so I'd have to play it to be sure.  

The Halley Project: you begin this game as a star pilot from a base on Halley's Comet who is tasked with a series of flight missions that take you to Earth and elsewhere in the universe.  I watched a video of the first mission, and I regret to say that I don't get it.  That's not to say it's a bad game.  It was very highly regarded in its time for being realistic and educational, and I will fully admit that I probably do not have the intelligence and/or attention span to fully appreciate its strengths.  One of these days, I'm going to try to do some research on how to play this game because it's the kind of thing that I want to understand.



Cut & Paste: I never knew that EA had their own word processor program, but apparently they did.  It doesn't seem like it was very highly regarded when it was released back in 1984.  The consensus seems to be that it was overpriced and didn't have as many features as its less expensive competitors.

Music Construction Set: this was another piece of EA developed software, but unlike their word processor, this received rave reviews when it came out.  It was originally designed for the Apple II in 1983, but was ported for other systems soon afterward, including Atari computers.



Word Flyer: I couldn't find too much about this one, but it seems like it was an educational game for children, along the same lines as Reader Rabbit.
 


Analog Computing: there were three floppy disks from Analog Computing magazine from 1986 to 1989.  The word "Analog" stood for Atari Newsletter And Lots Of Games.  There's lots of information about the magazine online, but I couldn't find out too much about the disks



Antic Magazine: this was the main competitor to Analog Computing throughout the 80's.  These disks are from 1988 and 1989.  I'm not sure what's on any of them, but I am pretty interested to find out what an Atari Brain Transplant is.