I had a dream last night that I was getting married to this young yuppie (clean-cut, white-bread, J. Crew-approved jacket-dress shirt-beige pants-wireframe glasses outfit), and it wasn't revealed what had drawn me to this guy in the first place, but we had gotten to the Friends-esque wedding rehearsal stage, and I was having doubts as to whether he was the one. I recall asking my father how I would know and him just kind of no-selling my doubts as jitters, as the guy seemed like the department-store model of a presentable son-in-law. The definitive answer finally came when I wanted to go to a "cow festival" (I have no details on its content beyond the concept), and the fiancé said no; I apparently went along with being ordered around by my prospective spouse just to see what my future life would be like, and his idea of a replacement activity ended up being going to have wine at his parents' yuppie-ass converted barn house.

The upshot here is: get yourself someone who will go to the cow festival with you.

That title might be a spoiler.

Due to the lapses in the preservation of PC gaming history, I don't think it's popularly understood nowadays how much of a big deal Phantasmagoria, Roberta Williams' tale of a couple who buys a Maine mansion built by a famed illusionist and gains a husband-possessing demon in the bargain, was in its day on several fronts. It was ragingly popular, for one - an epic production spanning seven CDs, from the premiere designer of the premiere studio of what at the time was a mainstay genre, marking their first foray into FMV technology and a more adult story than what King's Quest offered. For another, its inclusion of an in-game hint system sparked a big debate about the game's difficulty, its perceived championing of FMV's glitz and wow factor over challenging gameplay, and its potential "dumbing down" of the adventure genre. This may sound utterly inconceivable, particularly if you've played Phantasmagoria, but the fate of the protagonist's husband Don was, at the time, the third leg of tragic gaming deaths right up with Nei and Aerith, with the AOL board consumed with gamers unaccustomed to not being able to save everyone as the main character and have everything turn out OK, desperate to find a way to avert the doomed character's fate. (The panic was also fed by it being the dawn of the internet, the first time that large numbers of gamers could communicate across the country en masse to try to solve a gaming problem. I still remember the sea of topics on attempts and disproven theories and questioning as to whether this was possible, pierced by one amiably fed-up guy, who had achieved enlightenment through acceptance, posting: "Let Don die!".)

I finally dove into Phantasmagoria after discovering an LP of the sequel, Phantasmagoria: A Puzzle of Flesh, by its lead actor, Paul Morgan Stetler. (Stetler is also doing an oral history of the game, which was panned in its day but has assumed new significance by its showcasing of queer issues in a time when relatively on-the-level treatments of such material were scarce.) Though I didn't have a computer capable of running it, Roberta Williams and horror were in my wheelhouse - I kept abreast of the controversies, the efforts to revive Don, but I had never played through the damn thing.

Florence Kasumba, Emerald City. (Montage stolen from holdtightposts; more available at the IMDB.)

Carmina Mora, the Artist. They even hang out in similar digs.

Cabrini-Green fashion plates, Candyman.

Jake Park, ski aficionado.

It's the original Zelda's 36th anniversary in Japan, so I thought I'd put in a good word that was a bit too long in coming. I picked up Philip Summers' The Legend of Zelda Hand-Drawn Game Guide on video game news editor Shaun Musgrave's Twitter recommendation, back when the PDF was a cool dollar.

The creators set their sights on producing a physical edition of this as well as guides to Metroid, Ninja Gaiden, and Contra. Then Nintendo showed up with a DMCA, which took the wind out of the sails of the entire project, physical or digital. The digital incarnation of the Zelda guide now lives, like much else, on archive.org.

It is as its says on the cover: a hand-drawn guide to The Legend of Zelda (first quest only) using illustrations only - no screenshots. It looks like you picked up someone's Moleskine. The style is, quite effectively and deliberately, evocative of the iconic Nintendo Power art of Katsuya Terada.

There's so much love put into this - not only illustration-wise, but also in functionality. The clues you get in the dungeons are scribbled on the appropriate square in the dungeon diagram. It even comes with a full-size pull-out map.

Look at that Darknut! Surely worthy of a call to Vermont!