atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,
atomic_fungus
atomic_fungus

#6087: Relics from the 1980s

Tuesday I read an article about a shop in Germany (I think it was Germany) which was still using a Commodore 64. They make driveshafts there, and the 64 runs their balancing cell. The article mentioned that the 64 cost $600 at introduction, which was something like $1200 in 2016 money.

So, in 2016 dollars, my C64 and floppy drive--bought after the price for each of them dropped to $200--cost about $990. Of course the C64 was the most powerful home computer you could buy at the time, especially at that kind of price.

The IBM PC was available, but it didn't have the graphics or the sound that the 64 had, and it cost a stunning $3980 in 2016 dollars before you started adding any options at all. That was a 16k computer with a cassette drive.

64k, one floppy, and a monochrome monitor bumped that price to $7500 in 2016 dollars.

* * *

So, I've gathered that IT is supposed to be Stephen King's magnum opus. When people talk about his books IT always seems to be the main recommendation. Having seen the 2017 movie, Mrs. Fungus ordered a copy, and I was dismayed to see this concrete cinder block of a book land in my lap. It weighs in at 1155 pages; the one she bought is trade paperback size with medium print, which probably bumped the page count. Still--that's a long book.

I am not very far into it--176 pages--but so far, it is some of the most boring drivel I've ever had the misfortune to read.

There's no suspense at all. I don't care about any of the characters. So far the most interesting scene was the one where Beverly left her abusive husband, and King managed to make even that scene tedious. The scene where Stuttering Bill left his wife to return to Derry was so flat dead boring I paged past it.

Not only does the text lay there like overcooked pasta, but in this book King is using a bunch of sophomoric tricks, like when Stuttering Bill remembers how he became Famous Horror Author in present tense. Only it's not consistently present tense because past-tense verbs keep popping up, making the whole thing a confusing mess. He splits sentences across chapters, too, for reasons which elude me.

The thing is, I've read other works by King. I really enjoyed Christine, enough that I've read it multiple times. I enjoyed The Shining and Cujo and several others besides; those were well-crafted, interesting stories. So I know he can do it; he just didn't in this case.

IT reeks of being the book he could write because he's Stephen King, New York Times best-selling author of [insert book title], [insert book title], and [insert book title]. So IT hits the shelves in all its unedited glory.

*sigh*

I'm going to keep on forging ahead. 176 pages is a smidge more than 10%; I'll give up at 25% if it doesn't get any better--25% of 1155 is about 290 pages; call it 300 for good measure--but I am not optimistic. I don't expect it to.

170 pages is a long time to take for exposition, and it's a bad idea to dump it all at the beginning of the story. King used the "going back to Derry" sequence to introduce us to the characters; having passed that, we're now to the point that Mike Hanlon has taken over the narrative in first person. I suppose that's the real start of the story, but so far it's not any more interesting than the rest of it: page after page after page about his research into Derry's past.

Meh.

* * *

It's windy tonight; and having fallen awake at 3 AM I am sitting here writing and listening to the wind blow.

I used to lay in bed and listen to the wind blow through the trees in the night. My old bedroom is chilly in winter, and in the chill dark I'd lay there, snug in bed, listening to the sound the wind made, eventually falling asleep. Then I could not imagine what the world would be like now; and now I can scarcely remember what the world was like then.

I don't think it was any simpler then. Certainly when I consider how things were, it doesn't seem simple even with the perspective of a middle-aged man. My problems were different, not fewer.

The wind certainly doesn't notice.

* * *

Wanting to resurrect my C-64, I looked on-line at Fry's web site to see what a DIN 8 connector would cost. To hook the C-64 to a modern monitor, I need to use the thing's A/V connector, and that takes a DIN 8 plug.

Best solution is to sacrifice an S-video cable and wire it to the luma and chroma pins. (The C-64 had S-video output before it was called that.) Then I can plug that into my DVD recorder's S-video input; the DVD recorder has an HDMI output, and that will drive an LCD monitor just fine.

To my surprise, the plug was both in stock and cheap--$0.80--but I decided against making the trip over there and buying one. It was Saturday and I was at work, so it would have been only a little bit out of my way, but I may already have the right cable for the job here. Besides, I need to make sure it works before I start getting fancy.

...though I have to wonder if the old black-and-white TV, which I retained specifically to use with the 64, still works. Guess I'll find out, eventually.
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