Button mashing at the FunSpot

That’s not as dirty as it sounds.

The FunSpot bills itself as the world’s largest arcade, and was featured in the arcade game documentary The King of Kong. I’ve wanted to visit for years, but it’s just far enough into New Hampshire that a day trip makes for an unpleasant eleven hour round trip. To put it less diplomatically, it’s in the ass end of nowhere. BFE. East Ja-bip.

Hell, even the lovely couple we met at Novares Res beer bar in Portland a day later, who live nearby in Meredith, looked at us like we’d just said we liked to eat live snakes when we said that we’d spent the day there. They were trying to escape.

While were there, our GPS tried to kill us by sending us up a one-lane gravel road (no problem, all wheel drive, and I’ve driven all over Scotland) and then up a rutted mountain death hole with a cheeky sign warning that the road “is not maintained by the state or the town.” It looked like someone had attacked it with a steam shovel. I gingerly made a K turn in the pitch black with three foot drop-offs on either side–thankfully there was a bulge in the road a few yards back that I turned into–and we drove all the way back into town before asking a local how to get there without taking “Mrs. Todd’s Shortcut.” (that’s a wonderful Stephen King story that I mentioned last week. You haven’t read it yet?)

We also watched one of the adolescent menfolk try to woo a woman working at a drive-thru grill by smoking out his F-150’s tires until her parking lot resembled a haunted house production at your local high school (overzealous use of dry ice machine).


We were in the boonies, and mind you, we’d just driven through Louisiana bayou country a few months back and saw nothing like this. Must be something in the mountain air…

The FunSpot is next to a mini-golf course and a water park and has a bowling alley and skee-ball lanes, so it is a lot like Lucky Leo’s and other Jersey Shore arcades where you need something to do when it rains. We bought a bucket of tokens and Firecracker went off to ply her skills at Skee while I hunted every arcade game cabinet I’d played as a child in the ’80s and had never been able to find again.

Oddly, there was no Donkey Kong. There was a sign mentioning the high scoreage, but they don’t play up their fame in The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, probably because the film pokes fun at arcade game junkies, especially Billy Mitchell, the mulleted, black jeaned maestro of the joystick:


My friend Milky wanted me to look for Mitchell’s toadie Brian Kuhn, but he was nowhere to be found. He had better things to do. And so did I, like playing RADICAL RADIAL!!! This terrible game was one of the few they had at Chestnut Grove lodge and resort, where we went for summer vacation a few times as a kid. My mom had to get away, and here she could sit by the pool or the lake while we cavorted with counselors and fished for monster bass stocked in the lake and flirted with the other hormone-crazed teens. And when it rained, we played Radical Radial, Night Driver, Joust, and Gyruss (3 warps to Uranus! bwahahaha).

No one had ever heard of Radical Radial, and I’ve only seen it again here. It could even be the same cabinet:


You play this tire who jumps around avoiding road obstacles and shooting lasers, as only the raddest of radials can do.

They also had the most disturbing arcade game of all time, Chiller, where you shoot at victims in a torture chamber to unlock treasures. No, I’m not kidding:


They also had a sit-down version of the vector Star Wars game which I played until I destroyed the Death Star, a bunch of weird ripoffs of other popular games, and some fun ones I remembered, like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Elevator Action, Tutankhamen, Congo Bongo, Dragon’s Lair, the awful Cliff Hanger which took Hayao Miayazaki’s delightful Castle of Cagliostro animated film and cut it into a terrible game, Joust 2, and a game I’m actually pretty good at, Road Blasters:


They didn’t have Tempest, my favorite of the oldies, as it was in for repair. No Donkey Kong, either. I’m not sure I’d recommend a long pilgrimage here but if you’re ever in the area, lost on Dana Hill road by Squam Lake (where On Golden Pond was filmed) and it’s too rainy to go trout fishing, go get a fistful of tokens and recall your misspent youth at the FunSpot.


Meet the Blade Brigade: John Milkewicz

This week I introduce you to some of the friends who helped with Blade of Dishonor. Part 2 of the trilogy, Devils and Dragons, is free on Kindle until the 16th. You can get Part 1: The War Comes Home for 99 cents here, and Part 3: The Shadow Shogun for $1.99 here. That’s a dollar savings off the omnibus edition(which collects all all 3 novellas for $3.99). And yes, it is available in Trade Paperback from bookstores and e-tailers. If you buy the trade on Amazon, you can get the Kindle version for 99 cents through the matchbook program.

I met my friend John back in 2001, when we conquered Orctown with bow and axe. We have roved and roamed this great country far and wide on wide hobbit feet, from the Marines memorial in DC just before Johnny shipped to Iraq, to Stairway to Heaven, one of the most brutal hikes in New Jersey, and to Hillbilly Hotdogs and the home of the Mothman deep in the heart of West Virginia. John signed up in the Marine Corps reserves after 9/11 and served in Iraq. He helped me give Blade of Dishonor a sense of military realism and he’s been a great friend for a dozen years. He brought the book on his trip to Rome, where he photographed this memorial to the Devil’s Brigade, who spearheaded the Allied liberation of the Eternal City. I fictionalized this in the novel, because when I read of the accomplishments of the Devils–aka the 1st Special Service Force–I could not resist sharing their heroic exploits.

Here is the memorial:
devils brigade memorial rome

A photo of the book in Rome:
P1030021 copy2

And here’s me and Johnny, battling for the One ring atop the cracks of Mount Doom in the Sourlands:

How the Rapture Really Happened

  When you make a pact with Satan, it doesn’t come with a protection plan like at the electronics store. It’s all like as-is, at the used car lot, and if the shit breaks down and throws a rod before you leave the lot, then you are screwed, man. And Satan’s sitting on the recliner sucking down your soul, like your old man with the last cold brewski out of the fridge.

  So let the devil worshiper beware, is what I’m saying.
   Me, Carl, Eddie and Arf all totally got screwed by old Mister Diablo. Yeah, his name’s Arafat and he’s like the only headbanger kid from Bangladesh. He don’t like being called Arafat because he is-a-fat. He likes Arf.
  He says it reminds him of Alf.
  So anyway, His Supreme Evilness boned us with that whole hidden clause deal, like when I bought my van at Shartleville Motors. It even had a “Cash, Grass or Ass, Nobody Rides for Free!” sticker already on it, but it leaked oil all over the driveway, and I had to buy like five bags of kitty litter to soak that shit up. But anyway. The Devil, he screwed us out of our souls, and I lay the blame square on the awesomeness of Metallica’s platinum-selling first album, Kill ‘Em All, and specifically the bitchin’ tune “The Four Horsemen.” The album’s real title is Metal Up Your Ass, but like, Tipper Gore and the censors made ’em change it. But the real hardcore fans, we know. We know.
  I remember like it was yesterday…
   “It would totally rock me off my nads, if I was like the Death horseman of the apocalypse,” I declare, puff, and pass.
  “Fuuuuuuuck yeah,” Carl says, and totally Bogarts the shit out of that joint.
  Eddie smacks his brother on the back of the head with a can of Blatz, spraying foam on his mullet, and yoinks the roach out of his mouth. “You ass monkey. I’d be Death. I can kick all your asses.”
  Yeah because you stayed back two years, I don’t say.
  “Then I’d be like, War, man,” I do say.
  Carl snaps out, “Dibs on Famine. I wanna like, be Skeletor and shit.”er
  Arf is testing the bong he made from a flareside pickup truck’s exhaust pipe in metal shop. It sounds like a jet engine when he inhales.
  “By the power of Greyskull,” Arf cackles, “I willl be Flatulence!”
  He then bends over and unleashes a skin-blistering butt trumpet solo.
   I feel my shoulder-length hair blown back by it.
  “Whoa! Sick, dude.”
  “What the fuck did you eat?”
  “He eats bantha shit. It’s like Star Wars elephant poo, man,” Eddie says.
  “It’s called pantha bhat, asshole!”
  Arf’s eyes pin and his goat butt beard makes him look like Tattoo from Fantasy Island. On weed.
  “It’s pestilence, man. Like, diseases, and shit.” I say.
  “That sure smelled diseased,” Eddie says, waving his lighter around, like a match. Except it doesn’t work like a match. He totally would stay back a third year, if we didn’t all lose our souls to Satan five minutes later.
  “I’d totally sell my soul to like, the Devil, to be one of the horseman of the Apocalypse. And rock out with Metallica on tour,” I say.
   “Me too,” Eddie says.
   “Me too,” Arf says.
   “Fuuuuck yeah,” Carl says.
   I wish it was as cool as playing heavy metal records backwards and shit, but apparently all it takes to summon Satan is for four metalheads on weed to like, think of selling their souls at the same time. Or maybe we sacrificed a goat on a Judas Priest album and rubbed blood on our buttholes, and I just don’t remember it.
  What I do remember is that El Diablo himself looks and sounds like Mr. Rourke from Fantasy Island, that Retardo Mentalblock dude, in a white suit, clove hoofs, horns, a fuckin’ tail and shit.
   “Welcome to Fantasy Island, buttfuckers,” Satan says, appearing in a cloud of smoke from Arf’s bong.
   “Holy shit,” Arf says.
   “Hail Saa— hail you, dude!” Eddie says, bowing.
   “I fuckin’ call dibs on being the Death apocalypse dude!” I say, and touch Satan’s nearest hoof, to cement the deal, like calling shotgun.
   “Fuuuuck yeah,” Carl says.
   “Fuuuck no! I called Death, queermo!” Eddie cries.
   “Too bad, ass whore. Herschel here touched my hoof. That shit be bond.”
   “Aw, fuck man. Then I’m War!”
   “And I’m Skeletor!”
  “And I’m Flatulence!” Arf yelled, and releases another death cloud.
  “That shit nasty,” Satan says. “What the fuck you eat? Goat curry?”
   “Yes, Lord Satan. Sorry, if you’re like offended, being half goat and stuff.”
  Satan laughs like that shit’s really funny. 
  “I hope you like the taste, because to seal this shit you all gotta soul kiss my butthole.”
  “What?” I say.
   “Nasty!” Arf says.
   “I think I’m gonna yuke,” Eddie says.
   “Fuuuuck yeah,” Carl says, and goes first.
  Eddie next. Then he yukes.
  Arf and I look at each other, shrug, and totally gargle with a can of Blatz afterward.
   “Okay, turdmunchers. You be the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.”
   “Satan, how come you look like Mr. Rourke but talk like Jimmy Walker from Good Times?”
   “Cuz I’m dyno-mite! I just knocked four resumes off my list for Armageddon, and I got rimmed for doing it!”
   “You mean, we didn’t have to do that?”
   “Nah, handshake’s fine. Always read the fine print. By the way, you’re all fuckin’ dead, too. And virgins. Except for Carl, who fucked Arf’s family goat last week.”
   “Fuuuuck yeah,” Carl says.
   “Nooo!!!” Arf howls, and we all fuckin’ die.
   Our families sue Ozzy for wrongful death, and lose. We cheer down in Hell.
   So here we are. End of the fuckin’ world. On big horses like a Budweiser commercial at Christmas. Some hippie is saying “Come and see,” like you could miss it.
  I’m totally Death, with a big honkin’ fuck-off scythe, riding a white horse.
   Eddie is on a red horse. He glares at me through the visor of his bitchin’ spiked armor straight from a Molly Hatchet album cover, then sees his huge battleaxe, and smiles. Being War is fuckin’ awesome.
  “Fuuuuck yeah,” Carl says, admiring his skeletal hands. “I’m fuckin’ hungry, dude.” He’s on a black horse, gaunt and all Ethiopian-looking and shit.
  Arf rides a brown horse. 
  Two demons flap their wings above him, one holding his mouth open with a trident, the other pouring a 55 gallon drum of B&M baked beans into his Herve Villechaize-lookin’ mouth.
  I’m Death, and even I think that shit’s horrifying. Arf’s ass is rumbling like a dormant volcano about to go all Mount St. Elsewhere on the whole planet.
  “Don’t say I gyp no salad-tossin’ Satan-worshippers,” Satan says. He’s riding the dudes from Metallica, tied with barbed wire into the awesomest fuckin’ horse I’ve ever seen, guitars and all. They look scared shit, but they are rocking out so hard if my nads hadn’t rotted off centuries ago, they would totally fly off in utter metalhead bliss.
  “I know your album was called Metal Up Your Ass, Mr. Hetfield,” I say, and try to smile. But I don’t have a face. 
  Hetfield is so scared he misses a note during the chorus.
   We sing it as our horses clop through the bodies of eighty bajillion people.
  “All Flesh is grass,” Satan says, twirling the corpse of Keith Richards into a joint. He takes a puff, and passes it to me.
  I don’t have lungs, but you don’t need ’em for a soul blunt. Keith was some good shit.
  I exhale, and Metallica gets to the part where they announce our names.
Time has taken its toll on you
The lines that crack your face
  “Aw fuck, I was sposta be TIME!” Eddie snarls through his helmet.
Famine, your body it has torn through
Withered in every place
  “Fuuuuck yeah,” Carl says.
Flatulence, that you have to endure
For what you have put others through
  Arf gurgles as the B&M baked beans pour down his face, and lets forth with a truly Earth-shattering fart. I mean, the Earth crumbles. I see some continent I should remember from Mr. Mancuso’s Geography class get swallowed up by the ocean. It begins as one of those high whistle squeakers, then becomes a cheek-slapping crescendo that just never, ever, ends. I don’t even get to hear the Death verse from the song, but it’s cool. We march across the planet, sharing hits off Keith Richards, laughing and headbanging to Mutant Metallica as Arf delivers a totally awesome Fartmageddon.

This calamity was inspired by my friend Milky for the “flatulence” part and the story idea came from Erin Z. for the Fictionaughties apocalypse theme.

© 2011 Thomas Pluck

Such a price for flight

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