Friday, June 19, 2009

The Hawg makes a wise purchase...

My wife tells me I've got too many video game systems around here, so I bravely defied her and bought another one off of eBay tonight.

I couldn't help it.

Let me explain. I've got an Atari 2600, an Atari 7800, a Nintendo Enterainment System (NES), a Sega Genesis, a Sony Playstation, a Nintendo 64, a Sega Dreamcast, a Nintendo Game Cube and a Nintendo Wii around here. A few years ago, I sold my Magnavox Odyssey 2 (because it wasn't that great) and my ColecoVision blew up. I also got rid of an Atari Jaguar because it is the Chrysler Sebring of the gaming world. As for handhelds, I've got an Atari Lynx, Sega Game Gear and Nintendo Game Boy SP.

With all that and the tons of games stored all over the place, why would I go out and buy another system? That's kind of complicated.

Not too long ago, our beloved 29" RCA television gave up the ghost. We've got to replace it and we're getting one of those huge, HDTV things in the next week or two. I thought the NES would look great on it, but there's a problem there.

As any NES fan knows, the original, front loading systems are problematic when they get older -- that 72-pin monstrosity that curves all over the place just plain goes bad after a time. A few years ago, I picked up a much more reliable top loader unit, but there is a problem with that system in that it has no RCA plugs. You've got to rely on that weird RF box to connect the thing to a television set and I'm afraid it would look absolutely horrible on a huge screen. If it doesn't look to great on an old 29" television, how bad will it be on a large high definition set?

So, I went out and bought the beautiful red and gold system pictured above -- the Retro Duo. Believe it or not, that thing has S-Video outputs and (I'm told) can play both NES and SNES games and use all those cool SNES controllers. So I plunked down $45 on eBay and got one tonight. I'll have flawless video and the reviews on it make me hopeful I can play SNES and Super Famicon games as well as my existing NES library. Not bad, huh?

Hey, there's not much I can do for the old Ataris and my trusty Sega Genesis has RCA plugs built it. And, of course, there are no connectivity issues with the newer systems I own. I figure replacing my old top loader NES with the Retro Duo was a good move.

It's too bad my wife doesn't agree. We'll see what she thinks when we're playing Super Mario Kart or she's zipping through a Zelda adventure, huh?

Of course, I'll post up a full review of the thing once it comes in. I can hardly wait.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Little Rock's best kept secret and turning 40-years-old

Since I live in scenic Benton, Ark., and commute about 20 miles a day to get to work in Little Rock, I wind up going out for lunch quite a bit.

My friend Dave and I head to a spot called the Chinese Kitchen at 11401 N. Rodney Parham Road quite a bit. We love the heck out of it as it's both inexpensive and tasty as can be.

Just today, I got pepper steak with an egg roll (a darn good one if you like that type of thing) and some of the best fried rice on the planet (just a little egg, soy sauce and pork -- nothing weird). Throw in a root beer and my bill came to $5.48. Outstanding.

I've never had anything bad there, in fact. The portions are plentiful, the ingredients are fresh and you just can't beat the place if you're interested in some Chinese food for lunch (or whenever else).

There are only a few drawbacks to the place, really. The lunch menu could stand to be a little larger and they make a very good catfish fillet (seriously!) but don't provide lemon for it. Also, the restaurant is very small as it seems to be mostly geared for takeaway orders (we've never had a problem finding a table, though). Finally, the restaurant is closed on Monday and that's thrown us for a loop at least twice.

There are a few places off the beaten path in Little Rock that are well worth discovering. The Chinese Kitchen is one of them.

Turning 40-years-old sucks

As I whined about last week, my 40th birthday was on June 16. I'm not happy about it one bit.

Luckily, I made it home on the afternoon of my birthday from some out-of-town meetings. The kids are gone (my son is in northwest Arkansas visiting my wife's family and my daughter is at a Girl Scout camp) so we'll have the place to ourselves until Friday afternoon.

That's pretty nice, actually. We've not been able to do things like finish conversations with each other for years.

Hanging out with my wife without a child running past and making racket every few minutes has certainly taken the edge off of officially hitting middle age. Don't get me wrong -- having the kids back in the house will be great. Regardless, I'm enjoying the quiet.