Sunday, April 14, 2013

Manos: the Hands of the Internet

Bruce Baugh introduced me to the Internet. We were both living in Portland in the late 80s and very early 90s. I remember Bruce showing me that his computer was dialing up a system that let it link to other computers all around the world. I’d sort of vaguely known that something like this was possible but had left it to others. Bruce was one of those others. For reasons that might have had something to do with what was working at the moment, Bruce demonstrated his computer’s worldwide connectivity by finding out what the weather was like in South Africa. At that second. Well, actually it took a minute or two and Bruce commented on the computers his query was routing through. I was impressed. I didn't know what to make of it, not really, but I was impressed. And within a few months I had an AoL account and was participating in the gaming forums, which in combination with contacts made through pre-internet Alarums & Excursions surely led me to work professionally in gaming.

I didn't have a television back then (or since . . .). So Bruce was also the man to introduce my girlfriend Lisa and me to Mystery Science Theater 3000. The first episode Lisa watched with us was the epically brain-damaging episode bludgeoning through the movie Manos: the Hands of Fate. If you aren't familiar with this film I’m not going to be the one guilty of linking to it.

When people joke about the early days of the Internet—it’s a series of tubes—I flick past the subject’s personal association with a murderous dwarf, a high priest’s orange robes that flare out into giant hands, and slap-wrestling semi-nude female cultists.

About half-right, in other words. 

Bruce. Thanks for everything. 

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