dr. c. wacko and the whiz-bang miracle machinehistorygames

November 12, 2010

Ever rediscover a half-remembered book from your childhood and realize that it was probably wildly influential on you? Such was the case with David L. Heller and John F. Johnson's "Dr. C. Wacko Presents: Atari BASIC & The Whiz-Bang Miracle Machine". I recently found a good PDF copy at Atari Mania's Page of Atari 8-bit Books

The book was a beginner-level but thorough guide to BASIC programming - I suspect I knew most of it by the time I got my hands on a copy, but it was still very cool. The style can perhaps best be described as "Early Doctor Demento" -- hardly a paragraph goes by without a gag of some kind, but still it seems like it would do a good job of explaining fundamental concepts. I can even see the book's influence in my own guide to Atari (2600) Programming, Atari 2600 101. (No cartoons, more's the pity.)
I was reminded of this book when I ordered some Eggs Benedict, and I thought about this chart in it:
Anchovy Burritos: 280 Calories each
Twinkle Cakes: 340 Calories a look
Guacamole Juice: 90 Calories per slurp
Clam Dip: 70 Calories a dip
Greaso Burgers: 470 Calories per bun
Quicko TV Dinner: 400 Calories a tray
Pizza a la Hollandaise Sauce: 900 Calories a sniff

I think that for years that was my main image of Hollandaise, some kind of insane calorie vortex. (I guess I forgot how the other foods needed only a glance...)

Atari Mania also finally let me read the book's -- prequel? It was much more advanced, but came first-- companion, "Dr. C. Wacko's Miracle Guide to Designing and Programming Atari Computer Arcade Games". I'd like to think if I had had this book at the appropriate time, I finally would have gotten those damn "player/missile" graphics and in general made some better games.

My therapist just tagged me on shoppybag.com w/ a "Designer Inspired Gold Heart Charm Toggle Bracelet Links Of Love" (+4 other folk, but hm)