lalita larking

An obsession with cryptic crosswords. Everything else falls in place.

Location: Kolkata, India

Monday, July 30, 2007

Problem loading page

If anything can go wrong, it will, states Murphy's Law. It's worse in the weekend is a corollary I am adding.

Server not found, my browser informed me for the umpteenth time. It has been some ten days since the fire at the Telephone Bhavan, and my broadband connection is still playing up. I was rather impressed by the fact that I could log on and get somewhere the day after the fire, actually. But then it degenerated, kept on doing so. Since Friday I am reduced to being pathetically grateful if I can check my mail before the connection goes kaput for the umptyumpth time.

There is no point calling BSNL and complaining. The interactive voice thingie just gives a complaint number and that is that. Nothing happens after that; they don't call and verify if your problem is solved, they don't come and solve your problem, they don't even acknowledge that you have a problem.

Being a Sunday, by Murphy's Law, today the connection was so bad that I just managed to solve the Times concise crossword. I'd opened the cryptic but they goofed, with the grid and clues not matching. I solved the clues, but that is pointless if I can't fill in the grid. And then the broadband died, again.

Fine. I can find other ways to amuse myself. I discovered that 'curiosity killed the cat' yields the anagram 'totally thicker suicide' and that the 'Resident Mathematician' is a 'deterministic anathema'. Not that they do, but if anagrams pall, I can always play games, of course.

In the old days when home computers were new, I used to play a very simple game, 'Breakthrough', involving a ball and a paddle and a screen full of straight lines that you had to clear. If you could angle the dents your ball made, you could sit back and relax as it wreaked havoc on the lines on the upper half of the screen. There was no applause or bells and whistles if you managed to clear the screen, you could keep the ball in play endlessly until you got bored and closed the program. It was a primitive game, I know, but it used to be fun. That was on my cousin's El Cheapo computer. Then there was Frogger, and the text-based games my cousin used to install, typing seemingly endless rows of gobbledygook of numbers from computer magazines like inCider and such. I rather liked those games.

When we acquired a computer, I used to play Minesweeper rather than Solitaire. Also, there were games we'd acquire from friends, trading copies of pirated versions. I played Prince of Persia from a copy acquired from friends. Since it was pirated, there was no way to save a game; you had to play it from start to finish, with seconds ticking away. My son used to finish it under half an hour, but I never managed to crack it in less than fifty-five minutes.

The one game in the later era that I liked and played through was Starship Titanic. It was semi text-based, and hilarious. I loved the parrot squawking 'Unhand me, you, you, person!' and the Doorbot's monologues. You only had to type an impertinent question to be deluged with repartee Douglas Adams dreamed up for the contingency. It was visually pleasing, too.

Another brilliant game I enjoyed was Discworld Noir, not just because it was based on Terry Pratchett's books; the sheer ingenuity of how the plot unfolded was wonderful and the dialogue was hugely entertaining.

But these are games that involve some active thinking and problem solving. Ballgames engage only the tiniest portion of conscious effort and leave most of mind free to contemplate other things. Hand-eye coordination is important in moving a mouse or pressing buttons on a joypad, yes, but it requires minimal attention while one can think things through.

To be honest, I prefer ballgames. Pinball, the old games of Powerball or Bananas and suchlike are more to my taste than scampering through level after violent level mindlessly killing left and right. There were a few pinball games my sister sent on a diskette, that I really loved playing. Duke Nukem, Quake, Doom and such are my son's preferred stuff, but other than Prince, I never really enjoyed such action or role-playing games. I wasn't much impressed by the later versions of Prince either, other than to chuckle at the belly dance sequence in the 3D version's intro.

But for sheer addictive power Minesweeper is the Broken Drum, it can't be beaten. I am not a fan of Solitaire and versions thereof, but Minesweeper is a perennial favourite when I need to think a post through. Don't laugh. It works wonders, it really does. It's equivalent of contemplating one's navel and telling rosary beads.

The current favourite ballgame is Magic Ball. I got rather hooked on the trial version, and bought it when the trial period expired. It has hundreds of levels and can be played endlessly. There are interesting prizes, and if you can catch all the letters of the word, there is a lovely sequence of a rainbow arcing up and vanishing.

On a dreary Sunday, when it is overcast with no rain, when the broadband is dead and I am bored, the prospect of a rainbow on my monitor seems inviting. I am off to play Magic Ball then.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Silver Mountain, anybody?
Secret admirer #2

8:35 pm  
Anonymous Ash said...

No comment.

10:40 pm  
Blogger dipali said...

Never ever got into these games. Of course my kids think I'm challenged, and here I'll have to agree:(

11:07 pm  
Blogger netizen said...

brb..alone..solitaire..jes a sec

9:23 pm  
Blogger Lalita said...

Anon- Um. I wonder if you mean the same Silver Mountain that I remember. Much fun, wasn't it?

Ash- so you don't play games. Sigh.

Dipali- Hey, give the games a shot, lady. They are fun, my kind are.

Netizen- brb... two monsters more to finish the level... gimme a sec

10:48 pm  
Blogger Sue said...

No tetris? There used to be a 3D version that beat the pants off the regular.

4:45 pm  
Blogger Lalita said...

Sue- I disliked Tetris. Perhaps it is some odd missing gene that accounts for it and makes it so, but I never liked Tetris. I am genetically challenged now, I suppose.

10:03 pm  

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