It is funny how many things have appeared this week in the news that made me pause. There is really no relationship between any of these things, other than whatever connections exist within my mind. But this week seems full of oddities and changes that interact in unusual ways for me.
Let’s look at the list of things that this week has brought and which stuck in my mind for some reason or another:
Ed McMahon died
- Ed McMahon appears in my memory as the man who said “Heeeerrrees Johnny!” every night on the Tonight Show. I didn’t actually watch the tonight show very often: it was something I occasionally managed to see on Fridays when I was between the age of twelve and sixteen… that would be between 1976 and 1980
Farrah Fawcett died
- Farrah Fawcett is the first woman I remember wanting to own a poster of. The specific poster is, of course, the famous one of her in that one piece bathing suit, although I later got hooked on another of her posters. I checked online and found that the “red one piece” poster in question first appeared in 1976: I imagine I saw it when I was in junior high, probably within a year of it being released
Michael Jackson died
- I am not a Michael Jackson fan at all, but I do like some of his music. When I think of Michael Jackson’s music, the album I think of is Thriller: Billie Jean, Beat It, The Girl is Mine, and of course the title song. I remember particularly enjoying the voice over bits done by Vincent Price on that song. That album was released in 1981
Id software was bought by Zenimax / Bethesda
- John Carmack is akin to a master wizard in the rarified realms of computer game graphics engine design. His grasp of plotting and story may suck, but there isn’t a man alive who has a greater comprehension of the art of pushing pixels on the screen in unique and wondrous ways. John’s company, Id Software, has existed since back in the early 1990s, and is responsible for iconic games like Doom, Quake, and Wolfenstein 3D. What sets Id software apart isn’t the games they have released, but the game *engines*: the various Doom and Quake engines have been used in hundreds of titles, and it is arguable that every advanced game engine owes a debt of gratitude to the foundation work done by Id. It seems to me that much of this greatness has come entirely because Id and John Carmack don’t really care as much about creating a great game as they care about pushing the state of the art in graphics. Their independence has allowed them to follow this path. And that independence is no more…
Mythic Entertainment was merged into Bioware by parent Electronic Arts
- Ask a MMOG player when massively multiplayer games started, and they might (if they know their ass from a Warcraft hole in the ground) point to Ultima Online (1996) or possibly EverQuest (1999). But they would be wrong. MMOGs started as an outgrowth from multi-user dungeons in the 1980’s, and one of the first companies to commercialize MUDS was Mythic Entertainment. Their early games were big deals in 1990, nearly a decade before the more commonly-cited examples. Mark Jacobs has been the front man for Mythic from the start, and it has seemed to me that his scrappy little company has always had something interesting to offer. Dark Age of Camelot introduced the concept of Realm versus Realm PvP in 2001, and that game is still playable to this day. Mark has always had a vision, and so it seemed fitting that he remained in charge of Mythic when it was absorbed by Electronic Arts a while ago. In charge, that is, until this week, when Electronic Arts announced it was merging its Bioware and Mythic units, putting the bosses of Bioware in charge, and kicking Mark Jacobs to the curb
What do all these events have to do with each other? On first glance, absolutely nothing other than the fact that they happen to have occurred during this particular week. But as I look at them, it seems that each incident tweaks a memory that has some direct meaning for me. These were individuals or institutions that formed milestones to particular stages of my life, and as each came in on the newsfeeds a different set of memories was unlocked. And, in some way or another, each piece of news hammered a stake in the heart of that memory. Not just filed away now, but gone and unrecoverable.
Farewell Ed, Farrah, and Michael. So long Id and Mythic. You’ll all live on in some fashion in my memories, until the inevitable day when I’m gone.
Update: and now I just got word that my “first” cat, Leopard, has died. She was 19, and we had to find a new home for her about twelve years ago when she became unhappy in our growing cat family. She’s lived the last twelve years in a single-cat household with a really nice couple in Edmonton. They just called now to let us know she had passed away on Monday…