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Off Topic: Great Weekend Reading – The Pac Man Master

June 27th, 2008
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If you have never read Harper’s Magazine because it’s too screaming liberal for you or you generally don’t read anything that is not presented in pixels, I highly recommend picking up Harper’s July issue for “The Perfect Game: Five Years With The Master of Pac Man” by Joshuah Bearman.  It’s a hilarious read – perfect for the beach or poolside.

On experiencing Ms. Pac Man’s “kill screen” :

“Out there, the game breaks down, like the laws of physics in a black hole.  There are upside-down mazes, blank boards, invisible ghosts.  It was there, Billy told me in Florida, that he saw Pokey turn into Ms. Pac Man herself, a disturbing collision of antipodes.  “If I didn’t have pictures you wouldn’t believe it,” he said.  “You’re somewhere you’re not supposed to be.”

On the Pac Man Master setting a new Donkey Kong record via videotape:

“We never see Billy, yet everyone can tell it is him by the style.  Billy gives Donkey Kong’s hero, Mario, a jaunty confidence and flair, an extra spring to his step.  The audience sits spellbound.  Long stretches of attentive silence are punctuated by joyful eruptions.  “Look at that stall!”  “Oh man, that is cold.”  There is laughter at jokes, jokes told through Mario’s movements, and genuine gasps at several near-death experiences.  When Billy takes down eleven barrels with one hammer, the people are out of their seats: “OH MY GOD,” they shout, “WE NEVER KNEW THAT WAS POSSIBLE!” Later, that is topped with thirteen barrels, and a voice cries out from the back of the room: “Stop! It burns my eyes!”

The article about the Magician Olympics is pretty great too.

And here’s Joshuah Bearman’s blog:


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