This month's YOIS column is a definite departure from previous outings.

Instead of filling a little server space with some software collecting tips and semi-accurate information, this time around I'll pretty much just be ranting about a number of things that have brought my blood to a boil in recent months. Those of you who enjoy me when I get mad will be delighted with this issue. Those who don't may prefer to pass on the entire column. Oh, and there's quite a bit of profanity here too, but hopefully everyone who chooses to continue is mature enough to handle some immaturity on my part.

Oh, I've also applied for a new, easy-to-remember domain name for the Shoppe,, .biz being one of the newest top-level domains approved by ICANN. (In case you're wondering, was already taken, and the owners -- some snotty fitness club in the U.K. -- wouldn't part with it. Hope they all collapse in a pile of soiled jockstraps from an overdose of Gatorade and steroids... jerkwads.)

See, this is it. This is the whole column this month. If you enjoy this kind of thing, sit back, relax, and feel the hate. If you don't, you should probably just back away, and now's your last chance.

Since I should probably maintain at least some semblance of being a game-collecting information source, let's start off by taking a look at--

The Games That Pissed Us Off

Electronic gaming has always come under controversy, beginning with the earliest days of video games. I'm sure everyone here has been subjected to all the standard criticisms from parents: You spend too much time playing games, they're bad for your eyes, you're not getting any exercise, they're an expensive waste of money, they teach "kill or be killed"...

Outright censorship of games is uncommon in the U.S., but not elsewhere. Australia in particular is tough: Violent games like Phantasmagoria are often banned outright there. This happens occasionally in some European countries, such as Germany and the U.K., though more often a censored version is released, with the offensive material altered or removed altogether.

In this issue I'll take a look at some early controversial games: Titles that, for one reason or another, got a large group of people or a particular special-interests group pissed off, back in the early days of computer entertainment. (Let's say pre-1985.) We'll stick to the realm of commercial, collectible computer software, since that's what YOIS is dedicated to. There are already plenty of sites out there dedicated to Sega's Night Trap, Ripcord's Postal, and Mystique's Custer's Revenge for the Atari 2600.

Thanks are due to the other members of's Software Collectibles Mailing List -- Karl Kuras, Jim Leonard, and Chris Newman -- for their input. If you know of one I've overlooked here, please let me know. I have to confess a certain fascination with games that the rest of society has deemed inapropriate for me... forbidden fruit, as it were.

Anyway, here's my list so far:

Softporn (On-Line Systems)
The first computer adventure to generate hate-mail due to its (rather bland) all-text depictions of sex. A lot of religious types bombarded Ken Williams for this one. On-Line / Sierra was pretty wild, back in the day -- lots of hot tub parties at Ken's, and one infamous photoshoot that splashed naked Roberta Williams on the cover of this very game. Softporn paved the way for the equally inflammatory Leisure Suit Larry, which had abysmal sales when Radio Shack refused to carry it... until positive word of mouth created the demand. (Distribution problems didn't keep Softporn from selling 20,000 copies, either.)

The Bilestoad (Datamost)
Criticized for its violence (and rejected, ironically, by Softporn publisher On-Line Systems for that reason). Some magazines even banned it from reviews. Gameplay consists of two opponents hacking each others' limbs off with axes, seen from a top-down view. Large characters and quite realistic graphics for its time, especially for the Apple II. Though they don't realize it, Mortal Kombat, Time Killers, and their ilk owe this game a tremendous debt. (The Bilestoad is an excellent game in its own right: Grab an Apple II emulator and check it out.)

Dracula (CRL Group PLC)
Actually based on Bram Stoker's novel, and the first game in England to be stamped with a film censorship seal restricting it to persons aged 15 or older due to its graphic descriptions and images. Author Rod Pike also wrote I-F adaptions of Frankenstein and The Wolfman, and a game about Jack the Ripper, all with similar content. (Jack the Ripper, I believe, even got an "18" certificate.)

Crypt of Medea by Sir-Tech
Tame by today's standards, but a graphic horror adventure for its time. The box carries a voluntary label recommending it only for the "very mature and strong of heart." This one got mixed reviews upon its release. In her Book of Adventure Games, Kim Schutte describes it as "A humorless and gruesome game, full of blood, gore, and little else." Computer Gaming World, on the other hand, praised Sir-Tech for brining a non-pornographic adult adventure game to the market.

Firebug by Muse
What's interesting about this one is that no one actually complained about the content of the game itself. Rather, it was the game's tagline in ads ("Make an ash of yourself!") that made some people upset, because "ash" sounds like "ass", and saying words that sound like "ass" is apparently as bad as saying "ass" itself. Ass, ass, ass, ass, ass. (This was almost 20 years before John Romero "made us his bitch" with Daikatana.)

Lucifer's Realm by Med Systems
You start out in a hospital bed, but soon die and go to Hell, where you interact with the likes of Capone, Stalin and Hitler. Many sources credit it as the first game to be banned in the U.S., though I've never been able to positively confirm this. One of the late Jyym Pearson's close friends assures me that Jymm himself was delighted upon hearing the news.

And Chris Newman ("allvideo" on eBay) writes: "There was a game that caused quite a stir back in 1985-87. It involved the Holocaust, but for the life of me, I cannot recall the name. I never played the game, but saw a story about it on the TV news. Given the typical sensationalism of those stories I can only guess about the truthfulness or reality level of the claims." I suspect this game may have been Auschwitz, supposedly a variation of the ancient "Hammurabi" game that put you in charge of managing a concentration camp. Similar shareware games exist, but you can find a free- or shareware game on just about any theme, and this one is said to have been sold commercially. I've never been able to confirm it as more than an urban legend, though, and am not sure if this is even the game to which Chris refers. If anyone has any additional information, please share.

(Incidentally, this sort of thing causes the biggest stir in Germany, where any game bearing Nazi imagery or simulating Axis conquest tends to get banned. Many strategy wargames, dirt-common and uncollectible in the states, tend to be highly prized in Germany, where they were never commercially available.)

Cheating Canadian Bastard

(Canadian Shoppers, please do not take offense because of the title, as I'm not grouping you all together here. This article is about one particular guy from Canada who just happens to be a cheating bastard. All the other Canadians I've ever known have been great to deal with.)

Collecting old games, to me, is one of the truly great things life has to offer. The other collectors and retrogaming fanatics I've dealt with have been the nicest group of people I've grown to know online, and have kept me going at this hobby for over six years. So it's always a shame when some jerkass has to come along and ruin it for someone else.

Before I offer my own thoughts, I recommend you read Dave Aston's own account of the incident. It's pretty clear that someone else e-mailed the seller after the auction and cheated him out of a fantastic score.

Done reading it? So, okay, so here's what I've learned from this:

In conclusion... what a complete prick! I'm guessing he's not really Canadian at all, but moved there from Detroit. (Keep reading, you'll understand.) You wretched old fuck, I bet you spent all your ill-gotten money on prune juice, denture cleaner, and stamps to send in multiple entries to the Publisher's Clearinghouse sweepstakes. Right now our only consolation is that you will die soon, hopefully in an excruciatingly painful manner from some terrible chronic disease, after which you will burn in Hell for your despicable greed. Why don't you just call Jack Kevorkian right now, it's obvious you're on your last legs anyway:

"i dont got no more time no more plus my athritis is actin up cant go online, leave a comment sayin were workin it out and then i will actualy get up of my ass and start workin it out, aww damn i just crappd me pants agaain its hell bein old, gotta go have my wife clean me up" B-)

And if the person who stole this face-mask out from under Aston happens to read this, I just wanna say:

You're not so smart. We all know what you did, making the seller a higher offer so he'd give in to temptation and breach his eBay contract. We figured you out. True, you may have gotten away with it this time, but that doesn't undo the fact that you are a complete bottom-feeding, scum-sucking slimebucket who can only be happy for himself, never for someone else's good fortune. You don't have the right to call yourself a real collector. Real collectors get their best scores through perseverance, and the luck that eventually comes with it. Not by pulling sleaze tactics on other, honest enthusiasts.

Oh yeah, and if you ever attempt this kind of shit on me, and I find out who you are (and I guarantee you I will get angry enough that I will make the time to track you down), I will ban you from the Shoppe and blast your reputation clear across the net until no self-respecting collector will ever want to be seen dealing with you again. (Remember what I did with Software & More? Well that was unintentional.)

What to do if any lying, cheating bastard tries to screw you over like this:

(We're talking last-resort here, i.e. you've been patient, you've made multiple attempts at e-mail, you've tried being reasonable, and he's still set on making you suffer.)

  1. Request the seller's contact info from eBay and try calling him up in person. People tend to be more responsive in person, probably because they can't put the call aside and conveniently "forget" about it, or become unable to type a response to it when they mysteriously develop arthritis two minutes after they read it. Better yet, if you live nearby and have the time, drop in on them in person. If the contact info in their account turns out to be falsified, eBay may suspend them if you report it.
  2. If it's been awhile and you're not getting any e-mail replies at all, try sending a really vicious hate mail. I did this once, and, surprise surprise, got a response the very next day, from a seller who hadn't written back in weeks. He was very offended, and went on and on about all the problems he'd been going through lately, his bad back which had him bedridden for weeks but PRAISE THE LORD miraculously cleared up just in time for him to immediately answer my nasty message. Classic Vintage Game Mafia. (Hide your identity using a secondary e-mail account or an anonymous remail service to send the hate letter, BTW, don't give him a reason to not ship at all.)
  3. If you've paid for something and don't get it, file a formal fraud complaint in as many places as you can. Good places to start include the National Fraud Information Center, the Internet Fraud Complaint Center, and eBay's own Rules and Safety (recently renamed "Rules and Rules and Rules and RULES AND RULES AND RULES AND RULES and Safety" B-). Note that the first two are U.S. organizations. Depending on your country, the names of national consumer protection services will vary.

    eBay has a method by which you can file an insurance claim for an item you never received, but don't expect much from them. They have this retarded policy where you're not eligible for insurance unless the item's final bid was over $25. Doesn't matter if you bid on several items by the same seller, and together they total $25, it's only for each individual item $25 or over. I've gone back and forth with them on this, and they assure me they still take fraud very seriously, even if it's less-than-$25 fraud. Regardless, you should file an online report that you paid for and didn't receive each of these items, but don't bother taking it any further with eBay, they're about useless when it comes to this sort of thing. (What do you expect from "only a venue"?)

    Even if you got your money back but the seller backed out on an item you really wanted, you should report the seller. Bids on eBay are legal contracts, and even though eBay can't force the seller to go through with it, at least you'll black-mark their permanent record. Better yet, bid high on a bunch of their other auctions and then don't pay. eBay won't do a thing to stop you, and the seller will have to go to the trouble of filling out a credit request to recover eBay's cut of the take.

Don't be afraid to be a bastard sometimes, so long as you're an honest bastard. If you've gotten screwed, you've earned the inalienable right.

Detroit Suck City

Lesson #5 in collecting computer games: Stay the FUCK away from Detroit.

No, this is not a fiendish trick to keep everyone out of my primo game-hunting grounds. This is a heartfelt plea to my fellow collectors, because I care about each and every one of you, and want to spare you the three days of absolute misery that Manuel Schulz and I went through.

As some of you may know, Manuel is a German collector and IF-Legends high-up, maintaining, among other things, the Level 9 Memorial. He and I had each visited the other's country once before, and this August, he came back to the States for another round. Since he'd already seen Chicago, Springfield, and St. Louis on his earlier visit, I was looking to give him a different experience this time around. We hit the Amish country, and Six Flags Great America, but truth be told, there's really not much else to see and do in central Illinois.

Flying to another part of the country was decided against, since the currency exchange rates make everything here doubly expensive for Manuel. Anyway, long story short, one of us (I can't remember exactly who is to blame) suggested taking a train to another American city, which would give me a break after about a solid week of driving. For some God-unknown reason, we settled on Detroit.

Yeah, that's right, go ahead and laugh. But I'd never been there, I'd never talked to anyone else who had been there, and we figured: It's close enough that we don't have to take an overnight train. You've got your automotive history, we both enjoy history museums. Detroit is supposedly famous for its music (and Manuel's a musician). It's right near the border so we could cross into Canada and he'd get to visit two countries. And it was different territory to hunt for games, so we thought maybe we'd get lucky and stumble onto a good source.

Heh... shyeah, right. Here is my journal chronicling our agonizing three-day trial by fire:

Day 1:

Arrived at the train station around 9:30pm, took a cab to the hotel. Unpacked and went out in search of food and drinks. Discovered that downtown Detroit was almost completely deserted, aside from a few roving gangs. Nothing is open, not even bars. Finally came across one with lights on, but the gang graffiti and knife-carved words outside the entrance had the definite air of a sleaze pit, so we passed. The vacant streets gave off a very creepy Twilight Zone / Omega Man air, and I began to feel distinctly uncomfortable. Wondering if we've made a horrible, horrible mistake, but not quite ready to give up just yet.

Went back to the hotel and asked for suggestions, were finally directed to a small district with signs of life, including a Mexican bar (also practically deserted, but at least open) where I got a heaping, lukewarm bowl of some of the most bland, piss-poor excuse for chili I've ever punished my gastrointestinal tract by ingesting. Manuel got... I forget, but he said it wasn't any better. Returned to the hotel and went to bed, hoping the city would be more interesting in the morning, once people were up and about. So much for Detroit nightlife. What a first impression.

(It gets worse.)

Day 2:

Got up at 10:00, the hotel's continental breakfast had been cleared away already, so we wandered out in search of a restaurant. You'd think there would be a restaurant in downtown Detroit, wouldn't you? I mean, the people who work there have to eat, right? Looked around for awhile, finally asked some guy sitting at a desk in some building's entrance, and he pointed us toward a cafeteria in the "Marquette building". Found it, looked over the sign they had right there, in plain sight showing breakfast selections, stepped up to order... and were rudely informed they're not making breakfast items anymore... What the fuck?! It's still early. Left our trays there, walked out, went to Subway instead. Ate fast food under the aural assault of the most godawful hip-hop / gangsta rap shit.

Headed toward the Renaissance Center to locate the Detroit Visitors Bureau, thinking they'd be a good place to start. Might have been, if they were even there anymore. The Visitors Bureau is gone. It's just not there. No idea of what might have happened to it. Had a guy at an information desk in the Center call the number in Manuel's guidebook: Disconnected, no forwarding. Guidebook is only a couple of years old, how could the central tourist information center for a major city have completely disappeared in that short time?

Okay, what about bus schedules and maps? Which line? Detroit runs two bus lines, the Detroit city lines, and another one called SMART (an acronym deserving absolutely no association with the people working for it). For bus schedules we get directed to an information booth at the major downtown station. Argued with a withered, skanky old crone who, I swear, looked exactly like Mrs Avery on "The PJ's", debating the existence of bus schedules.

Mrs Avery creaks open her big oozing mouth enough to burble out that there aren't any schedules. Manuel makes the mistake of attempting to reason logically with her microscopic intellect, but Mrs Avery adamantly insists there are no schedules. Asks us where we want to go, she'll tell us how to get there. We explain, excruciatingly, that we do not know the area intimately, we are visiting, we want to ride around in the buses and see what is here so we don't have to walk the entire way. Isn't that what buses are for?! And can we just please have some schedules and maps so we don't get hopelessly lost? Mrs Avery, wanting desperately to get us off her back so she can go back to getting paid for filing her nails, says go to Cadillac Square, ask for maps there.

Fine. Found Cadillac Square, were informed no maps were available there either. Back to Renaissance Center, ask if they have a clue where to find maps. (There were none at the hotel either, except for a huge colorful happy-happy foldout with absolutely no relevant details.) There's a different guy at the desk this time, they must have waited until we left, switched desk people, then the first guy ran to a hiding place and watched us while snickering gleefully at their oh-so-clever little prank. For amusement, Manuel does the talking while pretending he can barely speak English. (In reality he's very fluent.) This guy directs us to the Marriott, where they actually give us a passable map. Thank you.

On the way back to the hotel, we begin to poke fun at various odd things we've noticed about Detroit. The streets all have signs that read "No Standing". What the fuck is up with that, you're not allowed to stand in Detroit?! "Hey, stander! You can't stand in our city! Go to Ann Arbor if you want to do that standing thing, you're not welcome here!" Comment to each other on the origin of the strange hot vapor constantly emanating from manholes. What the fuck IS that?? Emissions from the torture chamber where they imprison any poor visitors they're unable to drive out of the city using rude behavior? The hot breath of some festering hell-spawn the denizens of Detroit collectively worship? What?! We are unable to reach a satisfying conclusion. I attempt to cope with the insanity surrounding us by inventing a game called "spit on the pigeons". It doesn't make things better.

Back at the hotel, dig out the phone book, looking for computer stores, thrift stores, collectible record stores, standard collector procedure. Manuel has a half-hour conversation with the hotel counter girl to determine the location of places not on the newly-acquired map we spent two hours getting (which was only of the immediate downtown area, of course).

Back to the bus station. Mrs Avery looks not at all pleased to see us return. Manuel shows her the list we've put together, and OH MY GOD JUST LIKE MAGIC she tells us they DO have bus maps, meaning she was just being a difficult, impertinent, lying bitch earlier, when she told us they didn't. Cranky old bat, hope she got mugged by a crackhead gang going home from work that night.

One down, now we go to the SMART offices (cuz there's two different bus lines, remember, each with absolutely no knowledge of the other). Get the maps we need there. Go back to Mrs Avery to bug her yet again for one last map we need. After half a fucking day, we have bus schedules. Time well spent.

First stop: Carl's Discount Computers, and a possible source for vintage games. Turns out to be within walking distance, so we head there. Instructed by a guy on a stool to sign in with our name and where we're going. Did so, using a fake name. The directory sign says Carl's is on the 2nd floor, so we took the elevator there... and found a deserted slum, probably a crackhouse by night. Graffiti, dirt and grit all over the floor, ashtray with cigarette butts and chicken bones in it, no Carl's, no evidence there ever was a Carl's.

Went back downstairs and asked Stool-Man what was up, learn that Carl's is actually on the 13th floor. You fuckwipe, why the hell didn't you tell us that before?! Your job is to sit there on your ass all day, and you've never gotten around to changing the sign so it has the correct floor number?! Just to be a smartass, I cross off "2nd floor" next to my fake name and write "13th floor" in its place. (For the Americans among us: Yes, there was an actual floor in that building labeled as the 13th. For everyone else: Traditionally in America buildings skip from the 12th floor to the 14th, to avoid the superstition associated with the "unlucky" number 13, because some of us are morons, especially those of us living in Detroit.)

Took the elevator to the 13th floor. Finally found Carl's, but (Wait for it!...) the store is closed and locked. Sign in the window says "Back at 12:00", it's 1:30 now. Like everyone else we've encountered so far, Carl has no interest in our business or our money. Go fuck yourself up the ass with a Ginsu knife, Carl. You probably didn't have anything good anyway.

On the way out, I ponder Stool-Man: How much does he get paid to sit there all day telling people to sign in? If there's a fire, can he leave, or does he have to make sure the firemen write down what floor they're going up to? Maybe he's just there to scope for cops coming to bust up the crackheads' parties, in exchange for a hit of their best stuff? Decide not to ask.

Outside again, Manuel and I both agree we need to get the fuck out of Detroit for a little while. Decide to take the bus through the tunnel under the lake to Windsor, Canada, so it's back to the bus station. On the way, I find myself crossing streets without looking, stepping out in front of traffic when the light reads "Don't Walk", because I just don't care. Figure if I get hit by a car and die, at least I won't be in Detroit anymore.

Our spirits are lifted slightly when we get to bug Mrs Avery one last time about where the stop is for the Windsor bus. She looks like she wishes we'd just go away. We're only too happy to oblige as we go stand at the bus stop, right under one of those "No Standing" signs. Fuck you, Detroit PD. What are you gonna do, throw us out of town? You'd be doing us a favor.

Twenty minutes later, we're through the tunnel, passing through Canadian customs. Customs officer asks me the purpose of my visit, and I say, quote, to get the hell out of Detroit for awhile, endquote. No argument, guess they get that a lot. Manuel gets his passport stamped, and soon we're looking across the lake at the fabulous ruins of Detroit. We walk around a bit, taking in Canada. The streets are cleaner, the air is easier to breathe, even the summer heat feels less oppressive here. We find ourselves wishing we could spend the night here, but I booked the hotel online to save money, so it's nonrefundable.

People are nicer too. What a difference a few hundred feet of water can make. We find a bar and have our first enjoyable meal in two days, and Manuel is able to relax enough to have a few drinks. We talk about how nice it is to not be in Detroit. We realize Manuel didn't have a beer the whole time we were there. He'd given up his German-born love of beer, lest he permanently ruin his enjoyment of it by coming to associate it with Detroit. Similarly, we realize that we hadn't even thought of our families, friends, game collecting (aside from about 10 seconds in front of Carl's) the whole time we were here. Having the things you love in life pushed out of your mind by the sense of utter bleakness and despair beating down on you... that is what it feels like to visit Detroit.

Reluctantly, we board the bus back across the tunnel. Pass through U.S. customs, then head for the door. "No, not that door, that door, you have to get back on the bus, what's the problem with you two, can't you read my mind?!" Snotty customs bitch. We know immediately that we're back in Detroit.

It's late afternoon, so we head back to the hotel for a swim, then dinner. But not before complaining to the hotel staff that our toilet was leaking water all over the floor. Welcome to fucking paradise. (Best Western Downtown Detroit, BTW.) Later we'll put together a bus schedule to optimize our time tomorrow. Decide to eat first, though, because at 7:00pm everyone in Detroit will be closing up shop after a hard day of pissing us off.

(It gets worse.)

Day 3:

We awoke feeling refreshed and somewhat less pessimistic. Hit the continental breakfast, then took our pre-planned schedule with us to the bus station. Rode the SMART line (smooth ride, working air conditioning, very relaxing, our spirits rose) until it stopped at the mall, then we walked a couple of blocks on foot to switch routes. According to the route info, buses come every 20 minutes, so we wait.

And wait.

And wait, for over 45 minutes, during which time only one fucking bus passes, without stopping for us. Our meticulously planned outing, shot down by a bus company run by retards with shit for brains, who can't even keep their own fucking schedules straight. Manuel's pacing, I'm ripping big tufts of grass out of the ground to avoid doing the same to my hair.

I'm fed up, I've had it. No more. I walk back to the mall. Some guy asks if I can loan him bus fare. Fuck you, buddy, no one in Detroit has done a damn thing for me, why the fuck should I give a shit about you? I get on the bus, ride back downtown, go straight to the hotel, blow off some steam in the exercise room to avoid smashing things and then having to pay for them. Manuel tries again, hitting a record store and finding some rare jazz albums he'd been after for a bargain price, but definitely not worth coming to Detroit for.

That was it for us, we'd both had it. Detroit had beaten us. Coming here was a mistake, staying here was another. Went for a swim, then to Subway (the best restaurant we found in Detroit), then watched TV at the hotel the rest of the night. Didn't even bother leaving the hotel again. All we wanted at this point was to ride out our remaining time, then head for the train station early tomorrow to get the fuck away from this hellhole.

(It gets worse.)

Day 4:

Got up early, 6:30. We're taking no chances at getting stuck here another day. Ate continental breakfast (I swiped a couple of apples for the train trip back), then boarded the bus for the train station. We took the same SMART line as before, since the station was along that route. Manuel and I both keep watch for the Amtrak sign, we saw it during our ride the other day. We see it, and I pull the cord to request a stop.

"Stop requested" sign goes off, but the bus shows no sign of slowing down or pulling over. What the fuck...?! I pull it again, and again the driver cancels it. Repeat, several times, as I start to get agitated, we're missing the damn stop. I utter a number of interesting phrases through clenched teeth. When I was riding back from mall the other day (same route), the bus was stopping at every fucking block, why the hell won't this shithead let us off? We're forced against our will to remain on the bus all the way to Highland Park. Then, when he sees a bunch of people waiting to get on, this cocksucking asshole driver finally pulls over and opens the door. We storm off.

As I walk away, I suddenly feel a sharp slap upside my head. Then another. This specimen, this vile, worthless piece of human garbage, has the nerve to follow me and hit me twice, calling me a punk. Strangely, I do not get any madder, probably because my pissed-off meter is already maxed out by this point. I do flip him off as we begin our walk, two miles back to the station, in the broiling sun. We get sidetracked once because the fucking Amtrak sign was pointing the wrong way, but mercifully arrive at the station in plenty of time. On the way, we pass at least two other SMART stops that would have been closer if this fuckwit driver had known how to do his job. (A bus stopping at a bus stop, what a fucking concept!)

We wait in the train station for about an hour, and aside from maybe the pool at the hotel, it's the most enjoyable experience we've had here. Manuel's hungry, so he hits a fast food joint across the street but comes back empty-handed after standing around for 10 minutes with no one taking his order. One final insult before we go.

On the way back I drafted a couple of very angry letters, which I typed up and sent out the very night I got back home. A straightforward, detailed account of the assault by the bus driver was sent to the SMART offices and the Detroit PD (bunch of fat-ass inbred donut-munchers, ignore me will ya?!), and I mailed a vicious hate letter to the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press (two sorry-ass excuses for journalism that joined forces to suck even more), the Detroit Chamber of Commerce (recently returned to me, undeliverable, no forwarding address, big fucking surprise there, huh?), and Dennis W. Archer, the incompetent puppet figure in charge of pretending to govern this shithole. (It's amazing how much info you can find in a phone book at the train station.)

Here are a couple of my favorite passages from the hate letter:

"In conclusion, Mr. Archer, Detroit has been the single worst place I have ever had the severe judgment lapse of deciding to visit. I will never in my life return to this miserable shithole town, and I will pass on my nightmarish experience through my website, and verbally to anyone who will listen. I spit on your city. I piss on your city. I wipe my ass on your city and then worry about contracting a rectal infection from coming into contact with it."


"Perhaps you do not want happy tourists invading your bleak, oppressive pisshole excuse for a city. Perhaps you think this is funny. So go ahead, Mr. Mayor, laugh, snicker, let your big drooly mouth gape open in a cackling rictus at our misfortune, but just remember, you are the one who has to exist in this bumblefuck burg, day to day, for the rest of your life, without committing suicide. I do not. I have survived your hellish metropolitan sewer and I am stronger for it. So fuck off and die."

Yes. I sent this. To the mayor. Every word. (He hasn't responded. Probably hasn't finished reading it yet, the illiterate moron. That or it's too dark to make out the words with his head crammed up his ass like that.)

I have never been to a place that has drained my soul and sapped my will to live as much as Detroit. The three days I spent there were the worst of my entire life, and that includes the time I had to go without hot water for three days, and another three-day period when I was stricken with botulism. How does anyone live there, day after day, without like, committing suicide? These people are the laziest, rudest, most unhelpful excuses for human beings I have ever had the misfortune of encountering. I loathe, despise, and abhor Detroit and everyone in it with an absolute passion. I've even purchased a domain name,, for building an anti-Detroit site, which will be my next big project once the new Shoppe codebase is up and running.

I've also started using "Detroit" as an adjective in everyday conversation, to express that something totally bites, licks, and/or sucks dog ass. (Manuel came up with this, thanks for the great idea.) For example:

"That game is in totally Detroit condition, there's no way it's worth $50."

"Don't even bother playing Daikatana, it's Detroit."

And in a way this is accurate, because the name Detroit is derived from the base word "detritus", meaning refuse or worthless, disgusting waste material. I encourage everyone else to pick this slang up and use it when possible. Help me get the message out: Detroit is the dry, encrusted fecal matter in the anal cavity of the United States. (And to any Shoppers who happen to live there -- if you can call existence in Detroit "living": Sorry to break it to you, but your city sucks. Wake up. Face the facts. Move away now, before it's too late.)

So. Lesson #5. Stay the FUCK away from Detroit. Please. I'm begging you here.

New This Month

Okay, I feel somewhat better getting that off my chest. (Anybody still reading after all that?)

Quite a bit of new Ultima stock this time, as I had a good score in the Chicago area. Plus a number of Infocom folios. For those of you who didn't get the mailing list message, check my eBay auctions: To free up space for more collectible items, I've been liquidating a bunch of the incomplete and non-collectible stock with low BuyItNow prices and starting bids of only $1.00 each. It's been going pretty fast. Speaking of the mailing list, I'm signed up with a new hosting service, so it's once again clear to sign up if you haven't already. (If you already did once, you don't need to do it again.)

The early back issues have also been reformatted for viewing in larger browser windows, and revised for accuracy. In the past, I wrote the columns as I was still learning much of the hobby myself, and a lot of incomplete or inaccurate information slipped through. Why continue propagating it? Everything should be corrected now. I've also updated a lot of the links to sites that have moved. The Shoppe history, though, has been left intact, for historical interest (assuming any exists).

I'll keep you all posted whenever any interesting developments occur in the Detroit saga. Right now I've talked to the chief complaints guy for the SMART bus lines, and he says they're investigating my incident, but they have to go through the proper channels (i.e. the bus drivers' union). So it's the waiting game for a couple more weeks. I've downloaded some recording software, and will be recording my future conversations with this guy, so I can post a few of the more interesting snippets here for everyone's amusement (in the proud tradition of's "Date My Sister" Project).

I've also got a particularly evil plan for getting back at the driver, once I know his name... or the SMART complaints guy, if he won't give it to me. (I've got his.) Depending on how he handles things, he can either be the one single helpful person in all of Detroit, or he can be the target of my vengeance when it's time for C.E. to kick some ass, ass, ass, ass, ass, ass, ass, ass, ass.

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