Tuesday, January 29, 2013

No. 492 – Subdivisions

Performer: Rush
Songwriters: Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, Neil Peart
Original Release: Signals
Year: 1982
Definitive Version: None, I suppose, but anything live works for me.

At one time, this song was near the top of my list. I guess I drifted away from it although I don't know why.

As I’ve mentioned, I was a big-time vidiot at the dawn of video games—the simpler to grasp the better. Once games started going 3-D in movement, I was out. Give me the glorious 2-D playing fields of Donkey Kong and Pac-Man.

After I left the Fiji house my freshman year in 1982, I no longer had to be at study table for nine hours a day. I suddenly had a lot of time to fill. I spent a lot of it in the basement of Wolcott Hall, my dorm, shooting pool or watching TV. I also started spending more of it in the basement of the Sparks Center.

The Sparks Center is the student union. The main floor was the mess hall for the students who lived in the dorms, and I tried to avoid it as best I could during my freshman year. I had my cube mini fridge in my dorm room, and I kept it stocked with milk, so I didn’t have to have breakfast in the mess hall.

In the basement of the Sparks Center were the bookstore and the Scarlet Inn, which was something of a burger stand. I’m pretty sure I knew about the Scarlet Inn before I left the Fiji house, but now it meant something. A burger at the Scarlet Inn beat whatever it was they were serving upstairs, even if it did come out of my own pocket.

My favorite was the mushroom-swiss burger—sautéed mushrooms and swiss cheese on a third-pound burger in a basket loaded with waffle fries. It was my first experience having waffle fries, and I couldn’t get enough. Waffle fries are an experience not to be underestimated.

But the REAL draw down in the basement was the game room adjacent to the Scarlet Inn and across from the bookstore. It had all my favorites, particularly Galaga and Tempest. You remember Tempest, right? It was gloriously featured in the video for this song, which meant I had to play it all the time. My initials were always all over the high-scores list.

I wasted hours playing video games my freshman year but even more the next year, when I lived out in the sticks in Professor Herzog’s house. I learned by my sophomore year that I concentrated better when I studied at the library, instead of at home.

On the nights when I drove into campus to study (assuming I could make it up the snowy hill, of course), I had a routine. I’d park in the lot next to Wolcott Hall or along the mall and I’d hike over to the library. When I was done for the night, I’d play a few games of Tempest or Dig Dug to unwind before driving home.

Back then, if I had a quarter in my pocket when I was done studying, chances were good it was going to end up in a coin slot in the basement of the Sparks Center. I mean, what else is a poor vidiot to do?

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