Saturday and New Year's Day gave bunny_hugger and I the chance to enjoy some of our traditions.
The first was exchanging Christmas presents. The past few years since we'd been spending New Year's together we had kept presents to be exchanged in person. Actually, we'd normally opened them New Year's Eve, but we didn't have good time for it before we got back from the concert (and after that, had cheesecake!), at which point it was horribly late.
So we opened on New Year's Day instead. My parents were very glad to receive a box of Fabiano's chocolates --- they'd actually asked a few week earlier if I thought bunny_hugger would bring one, and I was sure she would --- which was delighted over for about a full week. And I went rather high-concept for a themed set of small and easy-to-bring-in-carry-on presents. The nearby Blockbuster Video has been selling off used DVDs, and I picked up ``previously viewed'' copies of several of the movies that we've seen together. And, you see, I got the used copies because they were movies we'd seen before, and so ... yeah, it was one of those concepts that sounded better in my head than it actually played out.
She was generous to me, of course, particularly in giving to me the gift of pants. She's been frustrated by how I don't worry that my pant legs stop short enough you can actually see my socks. I really, deeply, don't care if people see my socks, but it worries her. And my mother. And my sister-in-law.
So a few weeks before Christmas she'd told me to get my inseam measured, and I did, and she ordered a pair of corduroy pants from Land's End, and a sweater to go with it. She selected them to look professorial, and it really does. My parents were awed by her fashion sense and how well it looked on me. My aunt had gone home by this time, so we couldn't get her opinion, but I'm certain she'd love it too. bunny_hugger worried about me being embarrassed by all this, which just didn't happen. Plus, now I know my correct inseam.
After the exchanges, and test-fittings, we took on another of our traditions: venturing to Seaside Heights to walk the boardwalk, and see what the amusement piers look like when they're all nestled up tight for the winter, and to try unsuccessfully to find the salt water taffy place that claims it's open all year round. The boardwalk was busier than we expected, even with the cold, although we did get there comfortably early so it wasn't yet sunset. My father had claimed there was going to be a polar bear dive among the crazier visitors, but we didn't see any evidence of that. There were booths for signing up for the dive, but that's scheduled for late February, the better to give the Atlantic a chance to freeze over to an impenetrable block of ice.
Most things were closed up, and a few had shown changes resulting from the Jersey Shore. One prominent one was a bar warning would-be patrons that Snooki had been there. bunny_hugger speculated food-serving places could have only so many Snooki visits per year without violating health codes. (I confess I'm not sure who Snooki is, but all I've actually seen of Jersey Shore is Conan O'Brien's efforts to get that guy from his staff on the show.)
We did have a specific objective in getting down there, namely, to buy a carousels calendar for bunny_hugger's office, which was not too challenging to find. The salt water taffy place, that we couldn't find, although we did stumble across enormous snow drifts and that the boardwalk for some reason changed every few dozen feet from being plowed on the inside to being plowed on the outside.
We also found games: a Dance Dance Revolution in which bunny_hugger did pretty well and I did abysmally. And a pinball room, including a Theater Of Magic that I'd heard discussed at great length in the glory days of rec.games.pinball but never seen in person. Among other things this game features artwork of fierce-looking rabbits with long, pointy claws, so you can imagine our mutual interest in that part of the game.
And really excitingly we found a classics-arcade room with honest-to-goodness classic ancient video games: Donkey Kong, Arkanoid, Q-Bert, Super Mario Brothers, Mister Do, Asteroids ... it was many kinds of revelations. Among them: I am amazingly bad at Donkey Kong. Seriously. I not only didn't get past the first level, I didn't get close. One time I managed to get to the row of girders below Donkey Kong, and immediately died; the rest I didn't get close. Also you would not believe how off-model the Mario Brothers were on the Donkey Kong.
We put in better showings on Q-bert and Mister Do, including getting on the high score tables for both (well, they call it the Noser Elite, for Q-bert), suggesting that they reset the machines fairly often, but it's still exciting to do. And I might have done a little better had I known the rules for when you can jump on Coily, Sam, and Slick; somewhere I had the idea that if you jumped on them you were safe and they were imperiled, which is exactly wrong.
Another attraction we took a turn at was the wild-west style target shooting range, which is a class of game I don't remember playing before. There weren't any score-keeping methods, just targets which did amusing things if you hit them, like making a cuckoo clock go crazy, but I still took it seriously at least. And with a few tries I got the hang of how the site worked, and had a satisfying dollar spent making silly little contraptions go crazy. Later I took a flash photograph and this set off nearly all the photodetector cells simultaneously, making for a grand if short-lived bit of chaos. I'd have felt guilty about accidentally gaming the system that way, but again, no prizes, no scoring, so, I took another flash photograph.
Oh, yes, and there's the carousels: the relatively new one, and the Floyd F Moreland carousel, both of which we rode. And photographed. And just looked over approvingly. I think we got the last ride of the Moreland carousel for the night, though that was surprisingly early in the day. There's not much reason to stay open all hours on the shore the first of January, even if it is a reasonably warm and tolerably pleasant day.
Trivia: The first two thousand Donkey Kong machine cabinets were conversions of the cabinets made for the unsuccessful game Radarscope. Source: The Ultimate History Of Video Games, Steven L Kent.
Currently Reading: Skyways: A Book On Modern Aeronautics, General William Mitchell. Yeah, that General Mitchell. It's a 1930 pop-science type book, so it feels the need to go into things like what a Diesel motor is and why it works (which actually I appreciate, since my understanding of how motors work is they're cartoon cutaways with little explosions and this somehow turns into wheels that turn), but it also gives us slightly odd things like a description of how rockets work which I think could be parsed as being correct, but which reads like Mitchell thought rockets work by pushing on the exhaust of the rocket's earlier burning.