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Alive 3
                   /=-                    .    .          _
                  '|__ .~.~ /\ .~         ||      _   _  ' \
                  ||   | |  :: |    in    ||   | | \ |~    /
                   \=- ' '  \/ '          \==- ' ' ' '-   /_.


CiH's massively tedious all points party report!
                                         .      . .
With a little help from his  /-\SCII-|\|ation Friends! 
    (Who are also going to Dresden!)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
The  roaring gradually subsided into a throaty satisfied sounding purr,  and 
the pixelled line at the end of the screen skittered down in response,  just 
catching  and flicking back the bright dot flying towards it.  The screaming 
that came when the dot reached the other side were just as impassioned,  but 
a  lot  less  well  controlled,  as the blip skidded  past  the  frantically 
flickering  pixelled bat.  A mighty cheer went up from the assembled  crowd, 
Tam had won the Whip-Pong competition!
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

So what is this 'Whip-Pong?  I hear you ask. Just who is this Tam? You might
query. And are any of the above dangerous to my children?? Well, the answers
to those questions are variously, wait and see, I shouldn't worry about him,
he  lives  in Sweden which is a long way away,  and quite probably yes,  but
only if you foolishly disregard my advice from the last answer and insist on
travelling to Sweden...

But  to  really understand what went on in that crucial  opening  paragraph,
you'll  have  to read my bumper-sized Easter Error in Line  part  2  report,
which  tells  the  story  of  various blokes  in  a  car,  their  adventures
travelling across the continent to Dresden, and what went on from there.


This  replaces the normal pre-amble bit,  which seems to put off some people
who don't like 'too many words', as long as those words are not their own?

February  grated  into  March,  and metal grated onto metal  as  the  clutch
mechanism  in my car started to fail through age and over-use.  I  contacted
the  local  friendly garage person,  and was prepared for something  on  the
lines of teeth grindingly expensive already, when the phonecall came......
_.------.______________---------'               .
//      ./'*''                          .
//     ./ ' /\ '  \____/                            
--     //    ./  '  \_\   /____\  I said your clutch is       
----  //   ./  '   '  \   o_|  |  bolloxed pal! And the
------------//  ./           .: /_ ...|  / rest of it ain't looking   
---_________/__/              \\||___/      too good either...      
|_|                      \\ _| |_.          .                 
.  . | |    .                  \:|[ ] /                               
| |           .             \|| |             .               
.   | |   .    .             .:__|| |                          .     
| |           .   .      ''-_-'  \                                 
| |   .    *               '"""""'       .                .   .
It  was  not good news at all,  as the contagion had spread to  include  the
gearbox.  Now this was getting into the realms of stupidly expensive! It was
looking like the EIL trip was in real danger of not happening. Still, endure
two hellish days without the car, pay up unsmilingly to get it back, and sit
down to work out very carefully, that by doing without little luxuries, such
as food, I could still make the trip...

Four days later..

One week grated into the next,  and metal grated onto metal,  as the starter
motor  flipped its last and died...  This was not as expensive a disaster as
the week before, but it meant I seriously had to consider taking up theft as
a hobby in order to be able to fund the EIL trip.

What  I  did was close enough,  which was to take an extension on my  credit
card  in order to provide for spending money.  Taking on extra debt in  this
way  is like a form of violent self-abuse,  such as shooting your  testicles
off for a very short term benefit,  but it had to be done. As it turned out,
the  effort  was  worth it in the end.  (Also to mention  Felice  graciously
forgoing  immediate  payment of part of the ferry cost for the  time  being,
thanks mate!)

Weds 11th April..

So it is,  we come to a sunny afternoon in the middle of April. Felice's car
awaits  on his driveway.  The choice of travelling companions has coagulated
down  to  myself and Felice.  This means loads of room,  even with  Felice's
Elton-John  like  travelling requirements,  as the muffled squeals from  his
personal groom and trainer stashed away in the boot testified. Still, loaded
up and on our way, and it is a straightforward journey down to Harwich.
      .  .  .             _
    . .____. .           / \                         
Now can we try    . _ ||_| |  .         /   \_________.--._       
that again with  . | ||__._|   .       # :...          '----'~_   
a bit less      .  | ||  || |   .     ##         \\\           -.__
stuff now !?   .  /\ ||__||_|O_   .     \   /__\.       __'-~'""   
/              . |__|\   |   | \   .     \_/  |  \    __'  |        
The first signs that things may not be quite alright are when some unwelcome
extras  are included with the ferry company travel pack when we book  in  at
Harwich.  Starkly  written "FOOD SMUGGLING FORBIDDEN!" notices glare back at
us.  I might remind you, that this was all taking place at the height of the
Foot and Mouth epidemic panic.

The understandably nervous Dutch customs are on the alert for any stray bars
of  chocolate,  beef joints,  or packets of McVities digestive biscuits that
might  threaten their own animal population.  We are warned that the customs
are  likely  to  confiscate these sort of items if found,  and  it  is  even
possible that they may search the whole car,  as in unload all the equipment
that is sitting in the back of the car!  (Or more likely, make US unload the
car,  whilst  they  lounge  around smoking a couple of their  comedy  herbal
cigarettes!)  If this nightmare scenario were to be realised,  this would be
seriously unfunny, not to mention very late for us arriving at Havoc's place
in Enschede.

Sitting  in  the late afternoon sunshine,  in the Harwich cafe  cum  waiting
area,  I  wonder  out loud if any of the food that Felice has brought  might
just  fall into the 'tricky' category.  With an air of confidence of someone
used to driving around the Palestinian quarter of Jerusalem in a car with  a
big star of david emblazoned on the side without quite realising why  people
are throwing stones at it, Felice reasons that he'll be okay, probably.....

Afternoon wore into the evening and teeth grated upon teeth.....

Time drifts aimiably and aimlessly until we board the now intensely familiar
MV Stena Discovery.  Soon the McDonalds is located,  and we are sitting down
to  take  in the dubious delights of the video wall.  It's the duel  of  the
battlin' mobile phones next,as a blur of SMS text messages with John Hayward
follows.  He is at Heathrow this time, and due to fly out to the party soon.
This goes on for a while until the signal starts to b-r-e-a-k up.

Darkness  says hello like an old friend by the time we dock at the Hoek  van
Holland sometime later on. The chocolate smuggling misgivings lurking in our
gut  resurface, as we are  expecting to be kept waiting for a very long time
once we leave the safety of the ship.

As  it turns out,  disembarking takes  about as long as usual,  which is not
that long in fact.  In  addition  to  the normal customs people,  a bunch of
bored  looking  eighteen year  old army  conscripts  are doing part of their
national service here, going  from  car to car, asking if the occupants were
carrying  any  deadly infectious chocolate.  It seems that they also served?
We almost get away  with  it,  as  Felice's  positive  answer to the fateful
question nearly gets missed,  but a  more senior customs bloke waves us to a
stop just in time.

Now if it wasn't  for those meddling  Khaki-clad kids,  we would have gotten
clean away with it!
()_()      \HALT!\/\/\/\/\   :     HOEK VAN HOLLAND>>>
/ -----(*) /HAND OVER YOUR\  |
(_____)     \MCVITIES,     /  ||
|D|D|D|     /OR FACE THE   \  :   \\\\||/  Uh-ohhh..
'_____'     \CONSEQUENCES!!/  |   |.   .|  It's the Dutch customs!
/O     O---=C \/\/\/\/\/\/\/   |   :@   @:  We've been rumbled!
/ | C-6 |                       ||  {  V  } /              
X  |\/\/\|                       |    [(_)]     
/=======\                      |  __\___/__
We  are  co-operative and helpful,  he is very apologetic,  and there are no
harsh words on either side, which is as it should be! A couple of packets or
so  of deadly food are lost forever,  but that seems to satisfy the official
hordes,  and we are soon on our way, without having to unload the skipful of
computer gear in the back,  which is extremely gratifying! It also turns out
that they didn't get all of it either! I recall the Jammie Dodgers (oh those
Maggie 5th Birthday memories!) even made it all the way back home as well!

Thurs 12th April..

The route to Enschede, is straightforward, and the next couple of hours pass
easily.  getting  to  Enschede  city  centre  isn't  too  hard  either,  but
remembering  where Havoc's place was,  apart from a vague psychic impression
of a high place up in the sky,  was less easy. We somehow manage to find our
way  to more or less the same spot that the SV2000 travelling party  got  to
last  year,  before  they admitted they were lost and called for help.  This
time, we act a little cleverer, locating a handy big street guide, manage to
locate  where  Havoc's  street is in relation to our own,  and even  plot  a
course going there. We set off again, and at this point, manage to pick up a
police car on our tail..

We are almost at the turn-off to his part of the town,  when flashing lights
signal  us to stop. So we  pull  in,  and  a  gorgeous  babe-cop  gets  out,
unfortunately  followed by a middle-aged male senior cop,  and he is the one
asking  the  questions.  We  manage to produce enough  paperwork  and  local
knowledge  to satisfy them,  and he decides that we are "reasonable  people"
and can go on (If only he *really* knew what he was dealing with!!) When  we
are  there  or  thereabouts,  we check out another street-map,  fed up  with
constant  slight misdirections,  and find out we are virtually on top of the
street in which Havoc lives.  It is now very late, certainly past 2am! Havoc
has  patiently  waited up for us,  and we soon set up sleeping gear for some
concentrated sleeping in his former front room.
_     _   .                         .                      .
/ \   / \            .                            .
| |    .  They thought we were  .      Even after they saw you
.   /\| |/\     "Reasonable People"          Greebo! I thought that
/  \ /  \  /  and let us go!       *          they must have
\@ / \ @/                             \\\\\\    been blind!
\/  \/   \/   \_    .'.           .     a)    ) /               +    
\   \\ //    /    __o___      .        c      )        .          .
\__/\ / \__/    /__:___'._            (__/   )   _.__.___.___.___.
| V  |      [ Politzi  `.           '....'   | Havuck's Place  :
|    |       0 ------ 0'=           / / \|   : <------ - -     |
No-one is in too much of a hurry the following day.  One of the first things
we do is to decide on a manner of getting to the party. This second stage of
the journey involves some pooling of resources,  as in addition to the three
of us,  various combinations of other people,  some of which still undecided
may be going as well. One thing that is sorted out early is the fact that we
have  a whole spare day to spend here in Enschede,  so no overnight autobahn
madness to enjoy!  The  rest  of  it crucially depends what is happening  in
Germany tomorrow,  as  we  are scheduled to make a pick  up of one person in
Hannover, with the possibility of Ray of tSCc to go with us to,if he can get
himself to Hannover as well, a rather crucial "if" as it is turning out!

Still, that is for later, as we head in the direction of the town centre, to
take  a  look  around.  Havoc kindly drives us in, and he usefully gives  us
directions  for  the bus home,  so  we drop off around the bus station.  The
rest of the afternoon passes as we amble around the place, taking in various
sex and drugs and expensive hi-fi equipment emporiums.  After a beer stop in
the latter part of the afternoon,  we decide to head back. Waiting around at
the bus station for just a short time, as the bus with the magic destination
number  appears.  We  get  on quickly,  to get out of the cold and  piercing
breeze. But it seems that some Dutch buses tell lies as this one isn't going
where we want to go AND WHERE IT SAID IT WAS GOING!! Of course it takes some
minutes  before  we realise that it is going to quite another  part  of  the
town, which all seem to look pretty similar to one another anyway!

We  spot a likely looking shopping centre that looks a bit more  distinctive
than  the  rest and dive off rapidly.  Next thing is to find a call-box  and
report in to Havoc. After a minute's two-way confusion, Havoc is pretty sure
he knows where we are and sets off in his car to look. In the meantime, that
just leaves a chill breeze, and some threats of rain showers to contend with.

Some  little time later,  when I am seriously wondering what the Dutch  word
for "hypothermia" is,  Havoc appears at last.  The inside of a car has never
been  more welcoming.  We get back to Havoc's high-altitude GHQ where it  is
time for tea. This is pizza, with decisions as to who is travelling tomorrow
garnishing the crusts!  Ray is unable to get to Hannover after all, which is
a tragedy,   especially for him.  But we  are picking  up Creature XL from a
service station close to the motorway exit, whilst taking NUT (Barry) of Fun
with us too.  Havoc is bringing up the rear with two other dutchies, and the
bulk of the freight carrying.  Even taking this into hand, it is still going
to be something of a squeeze-in for the Hannover to Dresden leg of the trip.

Nothing  else  too drastic happens for the rest of the  evening,  the  pizza
arrives,  and the coroner pronounces it both dead and delicious!  Eventually
another  night  of  floor-bound 'bed-surfing'  beckons.  Night-night,  sleep
tight, busy day tomorrow!

Fri 13th April.. (Unlucky for some??)

As  we've  decided on a late morning departure (with a view to  arriving  at
Dresden  sometime in the evening),  no-one is in too much of a hurry to  get
up.  Soon after we do,  NUT turns up.  From there,  Felice retrieves his car
from  its corner kerb parking place,  in order to load up for the journey to
Dresden.  NUT  notices  that one of the tyres is lower profile and  sportier
looking than it should be,  it seems that the slow puncture gremlin has been
at work here!
______.|     \_____/  --____-- --____-- -______--_- --___--- --___-- __
KWEEK ||     /_   _\  
FIT!  ||     |o| |o|   Bloody hell!            _   SPLUTTT!!
------:|     |  v  |   more work for      .   / \
######||     \|[_]|/   me, I suppose!    ':: /   \__________.--._
# ####|   /    | |   /                    : # :...           '----.~_
## ###|| /  _[]---[]_                      ##         \\\            -.___
##  ##||/  |==|\\\|==|                       \   /__\.       __'-.-~'"
###  #||    || W W ||                         \_/  |  \    __'  |
______/     ||     ||                              \   '._'     |
A garage just across the road takes a look,  a  Dutch Kwik-Fitter dunks  the
offending wheel in a tyre-bath,  all the better to see where the air bubbles
are  coming from.  We sense that something not quite usual is happening when
he  excitedly  points to one of his collegues to come and take  a  look.  It
seems like that this is an unusually cunning and underhand puncture, as only
the  inner  tube  is leaking,  whilst the outer tyre wall  is  stil  intact!
Fortunately  for  Felice,  this is the most straightforward and lowest  cost
failure  it  could be.  Still it adds an hour or so's delay to  our  planned
departure time whilst the garage get it sorted.

We  retreat back to Havoc's place,  out of the cold blowing winds,  for more
tea  and conversation.  The timescale for tyre rectification turns out to be
on  the  right side of optimistic,  as we set off finally,  a little  before

With NUT  folded into  the back,   we  make good  time,   A slight twinge of
nervousness takes hold when we get near the German border,  just in case any
of the customs related paranoia seen at the Hoek van Holland has seeped  its
way here. But we whisk through,scarcely slowing down as we go! It looks like
it is going to be a lucky  Friday the 13th  after all?  The only thing which
makes   the  long   drive  interesting,   is  the  rather  chilly  and  very
changeable weather,  which goes from a  brave but  blustery sort of sunshine
one minute, steeply declining into rain and even snow blizzards a short time

We  even  manage  to regain some of the lost minutes from  the  tyre  change
delay,  and  the occasional stop to allow NUT to top up his nicotine  levels
aside,  get to the Hannover junction with the 'Aral' service station,  where
we  are to rendevous with Creature XL,  with plenty of time to spare.  There
are  eating  facilities  on  the site,  which is a  popular  move,  and  NUT
surprises Creature XL with a phonecall to announce our early arrival. Sounds
of  things being frantically thrown into boxes and bags filter faintly  back
to us down the phone!

After coffee  and  croissants, and about  fifteen  minutes  later,  a likely
looking car turns up. It decants someone who  might well fit the description
of a typical Atari fanatic, with a perpetually worried expression,  and with
a large quantity of computer equipment and personal effects clustered around
his feet.  This confirms  my initial suspicions.  Soon,  we are all gathered
around Felice's  car,  trying to make it  all  fit in  the remaining storage
space, which is about enough for a small rabbit, if the rabbit were run over
and flattened to a bloodstained full stop by a steamroller initially?

Much of Creature's equipment goes into the middle part of the back seat. The
rest squashes into the rear hatchback area,  with his girlfriend frantically
jumping up and down on it. Or perhaps not? We now have two origami people in
the back, with unheard of miracles of compression, Zip filing, and old-style
folding taking place. At this point in time,a change of drivers takes place,
with Felice  sitting back  for a well deserved rest  in the  front passenger
seat, as yours truly takes over.

Set the controls for, erm, the heart of Germany!

More  driving  follows,  with  only  the one *slight* near-miss as my  brain
interprets  a  "no"  from Felice to overtake as a  "yes"!  But  last  moment
periperal vision  saves the day,  so  there  is  no death and injury on this
trip... As I said slightly earlier,  the weather was a much bigger factor on
this trip than it was last year, going from bright but breezy,  to downright
dire in, like, no time at all... A mid-trip blizzard goes on and on, and the
temperature  outside the  car is dropping close to  freezing,  with the snow
starting to lie on the ground. We seriously wonder if we are going to get to
Dresden without the help of a snowplough, but then we suddenly plunge out of
the other side, back into sunshine!

' /    /   /   .                Are we nearly  . - - . -.  .- --- .  .- 
.-----------------.   /  /        there yet??   (  (   )   )(       )  (  
|Dresden 90 KM--> |  '   /    /    \  /        (( ()(( (  ))((  ( ) )) ())          
'-----------------'      .___/_/\/\_\___.     (____)((_____)(________)(__)            
/ || /     /  ||  /  /  ./##\\ \__/ //##\.     ////   /////   ///////  //
' |:    /  /  :|    '  //___\_\    /_/___\\   '     /  /   /  '  / / '    /          
/  ||   '  '   ||  /            \__/           / /     '  /   / /   ' /      
|:    .  /  || '    /         ''             '   /    /   '  .  /  .   /      
.\|||, _____ ,.||/.   '    SHUT UP GREEBO!!  . /  '  /  .'  .  /  '    / 
                          /     /    / . /   / '  / ' /
Once  we  turn south,  the furious traffic panic of the mid-section is  soon
forgotten  as  the  traffic  levels drop right away.  For  an  eerie  thirty
minutes, nothing passes me by and the road is clear for miles in front, huge
rolling cloudscapes are lit up by bursts of sunlight,the wind turbines twirl
uneasily  in  the teeth of the next gathering spring storm.  Which  we  pile
into,  right around the time we hit Leipzig. This storm doesn't seem to want
to  go  away,  I am getting tired,  with a pit-stop overdue by around three-
quarters of an hour,  according to my internal clock. Of course, there don't
seem  to be that many service stations in the Eastern part of Germany?

Just as  my  weary right foot starts  to lose  the battle  against the harsh
return spring  on the accelerator pedal,  we finally  struggle free from the
worst of the storm, and find a 'rest-area', which merely translates to doing
a shit in a  bucket, in the corner of a cow-pasture. But under the presently
strained circumstances, this is good enough. The smoking passengers, NUT and
Creature XL light up with shaking fingers, which turn into shivering fingers
whilst we huddle against the cold ever-present wind,  spitting rain and hail
drops as the trailing edge of the storm glides past.

Felice  grabs  the steering wheel for the last thirty miles or so,  and  the
city limits of Dresden loom large.  so  selecting a turn-off, we aim for the
city centre,  and then quickly  find out  that the cobbles which rattled our
backsides  a couple of  years ago, are still very much there!  Which Felice,
concerned for his pale but interesting car suspension, isn't so happy about.
We soon make our way past several historic looking bridges, into the centre,
which  is where  we start  to recognise  where we  are  from our previous if
limited travelling experiences.  The Hauptbahnhof comes and goes, the Conrad
Electronics  store on the right hand side is duly noted,  then we spot a big
'EIL' banner, we've made it! First time of looking too, are we cool or what!

Just a little matter of finding a right turn past the long stretch of dug-up
road next. But five minutes later, we are at the rear of the building, where
a barrier blocks our way in,  and a car with French number plates blocks any
escape  route  behind!  Some of the French contingent including ST  Survivor
greet us enthusiastically, and we crash into the party place from there.

John  Hayward  meets us as we step  down into the party-cellar.  There  have
been  a few changes from the last time,  but everyone is more or less  where
they were before, apart from the people who aren't here this time of course.

For example, the massed bodies of the Swedish contingent have taken over the
room with the bar in it once more, virtually seat-perfect from the last time
too!  Evil and co once more adopting a 'backs to the wall' mode.  TNB,  with
Moondog have taken over their adopted home from last time too, unfortunately
leaving no space for a Maggie realtime mark 2.  The organisers,  and various
others  such  as the 8-bit fans are in the main hall.  Where the  forces  of
Cream  and Firesoft dwelt the last time,  the Polski's,  the Lunatic Asylum,
and the Frenchies have rushed in. I hope they asked first!

The available space is rapidly disappearing,  so we grab the corridor spaces
where  Earx  and the other Dutchies had their 'FUN' last time, close by  the
Reservoir Gods grotto....

How many Reservoir Gods does it take to change a lightbulb? - Sorry, can we
get back to you on that one, we're all too busy at the moment!

We catch our first sighting of Mr Pink in over a year. He seems to be alive,
possibly well,   and  half-hidden  behind a smarty-pants ultra-hip Sony Vaio
Laptop. (But  this is running an STe emulator on which he is working on  his
latest production,  the Atari STe and Falcon  version of  'Chu Chu Rocket'!)
MSG is there too,  sweating at a copy of Sid Tracker,  and the best surprise
is left to last,  with Sh3, whom everyone assumed was extinct, sitting there
waiting for his  twitching graphical  fingers to  take  their turn  on MSG's
Falcon.  But more on these fine people later, as we head  back to the car to
unload our stuff.

It is a long,  long walk back,  but a lot of people are helping out, ducking
between  storm fronts to unload us and the Frenchies.  We soon set  up  with
some interesting deficits in our gear. For instance, my Falcon, with monitor
is  there,  so is my STe,  but without the mono monitor it was going to have
for the party realtime. There is also a notable lack of sleeping gear, which
is expected to follow when Havoc turns up,  sometime in the very early hours
of Saturday morning! Still, a lot of this isn't going to matter too much, as
we've  found  Grey,  and he gleefully points out to us the bottles of  vodka
that  he's  brought  with  him for consumption tonight.  One  of  these  was
apparently smuggled into the fatherland in his sock!
*                                It was a big sock, 
o O                  .^----^.     for a big bottle!
o *o                  /        \  /                
___                  /_   ~   _ \                  
.'___'.               //_\     /-\ \                   
|___|                |\__\   /__/ |       ##     ..          ##
|   |                |\   <v>    /|       ||     ::          /\
.'   '.               ||\        /||    _ |  |__.'  ' ._.._. |/\|
|_-----_|              |||\ .\/. /|||   |\||==|oo||##| |^||^| |\/|
| Wodka |               \| '.__.' |/    |\||--|oo||##| | || | |  |
|-_____-|                   |  |      =============================
|#######|                   |  |       || Polski Party Table!   ||
Also,  the idea of an official Maggie/Alive!  realtime, in some danger since
the prospect of our later than usual arrival with incomplete equipment,  has
been killed off by the resurgent Undercover realtime text. This turns out to
be one of the major surprises of the party, as Moondog has decided to make a
comeback  with  his  famous or notorious Undercover  Diskmag.  This  was  an
interesting contrast to the last Error in Line, where he was on the point of
chucking it all in!  He reckons that the personal matters that kept him away
from  the  Atari scene,  have all been sorted out,  so he has more free time
than previously. Also, it turns out there was another sort of motivation for
restarting  UCM,  which made one or two people less happy with what he  said
about the subject!

Still,  never  mind.  Of  further  interest  is an ongoing  Missile  Command
tournament,  a bit further down from us in the main hallway. In keeping with
the overall 'Atari-ness' of the occasion,  this is running on a VCS console,
(one  of the later models).  Also nearby,  some unknown dude with the German
contingent  is  setting up an Acorn Risc PC,  and we are  promised  Oliver's
(Paranoid) slightly controversial 'best of C64 demos' tape on the big screen
at some stage.

The  organisers catch up with us at this point, and help themselves  to  our
registration fee,   but their identity badges have been 'promoted' from last
time's  featureless  "Here's  a medal for  turning  up"  bronze  communistic
celebration,   to   some  smart  enamelled  Olympic  (Moscow  1980  edition)
commemoration badges,  I kept  mine  after the party this time, praising the
overall smartness of this concept!

Athletic  training  camp  roll-call chant  -  "God damn the pusher-man! But 
doesn't he look rather a lot like my coach?!"

Back  with  the Polski's,  we find them sheltering behind a  big  customised
'Mystic  Bytes' Polish flag.  It is their tea-time,  which seems like a good
idea,  so we go out with them,  that is, Felice, John Hayward and I. Dresden
seems  to  be  undergoing  some sort  of  reconstruction  work,  or  perhaps
destruction  prior  to  the reconstruction,  as the huge number  of  busker-
infested  temporary  wooden  walkways over massive bottomless  pits  in  the
ground seems to testify.

We  fetch up at the premises of Burger King,  where superior sized  portions
over  Mcdonalds  rule the day.  But their bigger-sized burgers tend to  fall
apart  in your hand halfway through eating,  and the toilets are locked  up!
Anyway, we finish our meal without looking too much like we got into a food-
fight on the way, and start back. Grey suggests a detour via the shop in the
Hauptbahnhof,  to stock up on chocolate and various other munchies,  all the
better to cope with the promised drinking session tonight!

Back  at  the party,  and we prod our Falcy's to reluctant life.  Felice has
sensibly  left  his  PeeCee at home,  but brought his  mutant  self-modified
Falcon,  with the 14 meg RAM upgrade,  and a bulging at the seams and out of
the top replacement 3.5 inch IDE drive,  and not forgetting the Frankenstein
GM-modified power supply!  Amazingly,  this lot manages to somehow work! His
stereo,  for  the  production of satisfying loud noises has also come  along
too,  and  to  be eventually revealed,  an extra screen for the Playstation,
various other audio and video equipment, kettles, tea, and the smuggled foot
and mouth causing food which the Dutch customs DIDN'T find!

Which  is  just enough to substain him over the three days at the  party,  I

I've  got my own Falcy,  the Nemesis bodge with the iffy keyboard,  which is
here  for the purposes of spreading the newly completed 'ASCII-Nation'  one-
off diskmag. Unlike its slightly unfortunate predecessor, the 'Psycho-Babble
Project',  this one worked perfectly,  first time off, and so it should have
as  well, being  properly tested and all!  (This has its own story,  more of
which when we come to discuss the competitions!) Meanwhile,  my STe sits and
sulks,  unused,  as  it has become superfluous for realtime article hosting.
Fortunately,  as it turned out...  I manage to get hold of Havoc to tell him
not to bring Felice's mono screen as it won't be needed anymore.

This  doesn't really keep us worried for too long,  as the much heralded and
hyped  Polski-style vodka drinking session is soon upon us!  An  interesting
approach  to the otherwise mundane business of cabling the power  supply  to
their computers is seen,  or rather,  gingerly stepped over,  as their power
leads  trail  across  the top of the bench seating!  This acts  as  a  crude
sobriety  or drunkeness test,  as missing your footing stepping over  these,
and UP onto the seat,  in order to be able to sit down again,  is certain to
lead  to some wonderfully graphic facial injuries,  when the alcohol  levels
start to peak later on!

For this session,  Grey is opting for mixers with the vodka,  apple juice in
particular,  a  combination  which works rather too well!  There is a  small
gathering which attracts one or two interested parties, such as ST Survivor,
who  is  initially  reluctant,  but  alcohol cravings  overcome  his  better
judgement  and  he  stays.  Felice  isn't so keen on  this  unabashed  booze
consumption,  and  soon  disappears.  A previously unknown french guy by the
name of 'Sygne' has also  joined us,  and after  the vodka  has  gone  down,
he has an interesting contribution of his own to make to the party.  This is
a large litre bottle of some worrying Macedonian red wine, which seems to be
famous for two things. 1. It is very local, and 2. It is very cheap.

It  has  a  sweet  and coarse taste,  redolent of people  in  East  European
traditional  peasant  costume  violently  celebrating  a  wedding,  drinking
toasts,  throwing  the  glasses into the fireplace,  and I look around for a
Kalashnikov  to  fire  into the air whilst shouting "Hoi  hup  laaa!",  just
getting into the spirit of the thing! There seems to be an awful lot of this
stuff  to go around,  and we consume several cupfuls each before the  bottle
looks  hopefully  empty,   we  are  turning  the corner.  Just  then,  Sygne
produces  another  full  bottle,  and  our hearts sink into  our  boots!  In
mitigation,  it  did  tend  to appeal more when the numbing effects  of  the
alcohol sank in properly!

Sat 14th April..

This  goes on for a very long time.  We spend quite a bit of time  drunkenly
tapping text into the forthcoming Chosneck realtime article.  (And some very
much  more drunkenly than others!) ST Survivor makes his excuses  to  leave,
and very nearly makes a face-shaped imprint on the floor as he stumbles back
to ground level!

At some point, we break out the chocolate, and slices of Polish bread, which
turn out to be a very sensible idea. The drinking continues, and time passes
by  in a strange slo-mo blur.  My brain recalls a group photo session in the
middle  of the corridor,  and Grey ravelling toilet paper around us in  some
parody of hype-priced modern art, then taking more photos of the end result,
which  are  hanging  over us to reappear like some  great  angry  shadow  of
scandal as of the time of writing!?

-There are no fat people in Poland! -

I  have a secret weapon to help me survive the night though,  as I am  twice
the  size  of the average Polski,  I can soak up more alcohol than they  can
before it starts to hurt! So yes, I am nicely under the influence, but no, I
am  not crashing through the incoherence barrier!  The survivors peel off to
try to find a sleeping place for the rest of the night, and there isn't that
much of it left.  Somehow, my sleeping bag, sans airbed has made it here, so
we  stagger  up  several flights of stairs,  right to the top floor  of  the
building.  What  follows  is  a strange form of suspended animation  on  the
floor,  not  so  much proper sleep,  but more of a pleasant drunken  stupor,
where the immediate surroundings hardly intrude.
_      _        
|_)    | \       
|_)ed  |_/runk!     O  . o
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=     * .          Z
___    ___                       _n___\/_  z                         
(  ))  (  ))        ____________.|\  *: ==
|  ||--|  ||--------\.         / \      ==      .____.                
\__//__\__//________/_ _\-----'  /.____==      (_((__() .::.. 
       ==/_______/                      ':::::'
With the cold grey light of dawn putting its first tentative fingers through
the window, some sense of stiffness returns, and a desire to get up and away
arrives too.  Leaving the corpses in the sleeping room for dead, I head back
down to the rather quiet and subdued party cellar scene.

There  is not a lot doing first thing,  as the majority of people are  still
sleeping, or running at a very low activity level. Memory is unclear even on
what I had for breakfast. I think I missed out on the free breakfast service
that  the  organisers provided,  when I got there,  only stale remnants were

I  was able to sort out some tepid coffee and Jammie Dodgers,  as Havoc  and
the  remaining Dutchies had finally arrived,  very early in the morning (but
after  we had gone to bed from our little party!) Which meant that the  rest
of  our  stuff,  such as the other half of Felice's gear was there,   and he
turned  up  presently to set it all up properly.  Also,  more crucially,  my
airbed  had  arrived,  so no more floor-bound sleep disasters!  A couple  of
hours of non-specific fiddling around with the dodgy keyboard Falcy follows,
including  quite a  large  amount of brow-clutching  as  the  mouse  pointer
skittered across the screen in a random and uncontrollable fashion, whenever
the hell it felt like it!

This  goes  on until the Polski's start to appear,  somewhat the  worse  for
wear!  It is clear that there will be no early repeat of the previous nights
events.  Some fresh air and a change of scene is needed urgently,  and so we
go  out into the all-too-fresh air of the Dresden city centre! Some recently
fallen snow is lying around, but the sunshine bravely battles the cold winds
and looming clouds.

Breakfast, or lunch at Burger King again, and we end up posing by a fountain
in  the 1960's built neo-Stalinist shopping plaza,  remembering not to stand
downwind  of  it,  as quite a bit of the contents were blowing over  on  the
pavement.  More photos are taken of various Polski and Maggie people in that
concrete  communist  paradise assuming the most stupid poses!   We wander on
quite a bit further than before, and manage to go right through the old part
of the city centre. By the time we get to the carefully ruined and partially
reconstructed  cathedral,  it  is  snowing again,  heavily..  The walk  back
largely  consists  of trying to take cover,  ducking under any old scrap  of
shop  awning.  Taking in a couple of cake shops on the way (really too  much
for me after the Burger King (foot and mouth free?) cowburger bonanza.

We dare to venture into the world famous* Conrad Electronics store.  A major
sponsor  of  the party from the last time,  when they were reputed  to  keep
stocks of Commodore 64 stuff. Unfortunately, none of this is to hand, and we
are confronted with a wide range of gear, but it is conventional gear. Apart
from  the occasional bit of mind-wrenchingly odd gadgetry that they kept  in
stock.  Such  as  a three dimensional digitiser,  that scanned a real  solid
object,  spun  it  round,  read  in  the co-ordinates  and  dimensions,  and
represented  it in graphical form on a PeeCee screen.  Great for instant 3-D
objects for those new forthcoming demos?

*In Dresden at least!

Shortly afterwards,  get back to the party to find that the people who ought
to be working, are working....

And what about the new forthcoming wave of ST and Falcon demos that we  were
awaiting?  Which was the whole point of the party?  Well by this stage, some
things  were  becoming  clearer.  Great things were expected from  the  Dead
Hackers  Society  on the Falcon,  as it had been two full years since  their
last major demo releases,  coincidentally, at the first Error in Line party.
What we thought was the breaking news of the party, was the return to active
production,  of  the enigmatic Swedish group T.O.Y.S.  They were putting the
finishing touches to a major Falcon demo too.  Some commentators grimaced in
resignation  when  they  described  these  two  contenders  as  being  "very
accelerator friendly". Which actually suited me fine! Also, Mind Design were
working along similar lines.

\  /          /||||\    Farewell Tunnels, you were so good to me..
----_. .   /       ( ,  , )   But now it is time for something new....
||   .         s-Q--Q-s     (SNIF!)                      
||    .  -     [  /   ]  /                                
||   .         { (__) }                     .----------------------.
|| .   \       /''''''_/\/\/\/\/\           | /\/\eanwhile, at the |
===--' ____.____  {(                )\          | DHS coding table, a  |
|_|- -|____|)___\ (_._._._._._._._._ )\_. _____ | strange thing stirs. |
                    \__ \      '______________________'
Of  more  general  interest,  Escape  were said to be working  on  a  Falcon
release,  which  by taking the pre-party 'remindtro' as a good guide what to
expect,  was  going to be worth seeing,  if not quite as heavy weight as the
Swedish  entries.  Escape  had  done a remarkably good  job  of  downplaying
expectations, as it turned out! Also, from the French side, the long-awaited
Sector  One and Dune combined ST demo 'Odd Stuff',  seen in partial form  at
the Xmas STNICCC party by myself, was due for release here. ST Survivor, who
was intimately connected with the producers  of the demo was very excited by
it.  Unusually,  for a disk-booting ST demo, it was fully Falcon compatible,
and promised loads of good stuff. Oliver 'Paranoid' Heun had also promised a
Falcon  demo,  but ruefully concluded that it was likely to be around fourth
or fifth place when compared with the rest.

We  also  knew  who wasn't bringing anything to the party  by  then.  Mystic
Bytes,  who  would  surely have put in something very high quality,  decided
they  weren't  ready to release anything as yet.  Also,  the shortage of  ST
contenders was exacerbated by the total absence of Defjam of Checkpoint, who
was working on a demo as far back as STNICCC, but who seemed to be in hiding
for this event?  The organisers were holding out hopes for his late arrival,
right to the last minute,  but it wasn't to be.  One of the major highlights
of the last time was not to be repeated!

Also  missing  were  the boys and girls of  musically  fanatical  demo  gods
'Cream'.  Expectations  of  the  surprise release of the very  much  awaited
'Heftig' weren't too high, but it was nice to hope there as well?

Back on the good news trail,  an anonymous Swedish coder told me to look out
for a new Spice Boys release,  which would be "Better than anything they did
before!"  after which,  he told me "You didn't hear me say that,  alright!?"
(In Swedish..)

We  wind  up back in the Polski corner for a fair while.  One of the  things
that Grey has been organising pre-party,  are several very cheap 14 megabyte
memory upgrades for those people who are still convinced that 4 meg is best.
At the prices on offer,  these prove to be very very popular, even among the
diehard  1993-era retro fans!  One of the people who presents his Falcy  for
upgrading,  is  none  other than the fabulously green-haired Norman 'No'  of
Escape.  Now if we knew what was stored on the hard drive of that particular
machine,  Grey  would  have  surely put off opening it up  before  the  demo
competitions  had  been completed!  Norman half-jokingly says that he  would
need to take the upgrade out again when he is demo coding!  This way,  a lot
of   people   get  their  first  sighting  of  the  combined   Abyss   music
compilation/Chosneck diskmag.

Elsewhere,  things are stirring in the main hall, with the first of Felice's
contributions to the video wall.  Another episode of "Police,  camera, Road-
Kill!" flashes up  onscreen,  WITH THE POLICE CAR IN HOT PURSUIT!! The party
organisers  were  also looking  forward  to  seeing  Felice's  Symposium '96
camcordered video highlights, described in certain quarters as "legendary"!

Back  with the Reservoir Gods,  and Kev (Sh3) is getting frustrated with the
lack of machine availability.  They have temporarily stopped work on Chu Chu
Rocket, instead throwing together a quick adaption of a handheld game called
'Godpee'(!)  This  needs  a  whole  new bunch  of  graphics  doing,  with  a
bottleneck  thrown  up by  having to share one Falcon between two people. My
unused STe comes to the rescue, combined with a spare RGB screen that Felice
brought with him.  This is enough to keep Kev happy,  once an annoying fault
which  develops  in the power supply is sorted out.  John Hayward,  with his
magic  soldering iron comes to the rescue,  a dry solder joint is diagnosed,
and the STe is restored to rude and fully functioning condition.

Elsewhere in the party, new issues of a couple of disk magazines,  Alive! on
issue  2,  and  the  revived Undercover mag,  on issue 21,  are in the final
stages  of  preparation.  The pre-release Alive!  That I checked out,  on ST
Survivors machine, was very large indeed, and ended up being split into two,
including  a post-party special issue.  Undercover 21,  when I get around to
reading it after the party,  is quite a formidable concept.  It contains all
the  accumulated  writings  of Moondog from the past  year,  ever  since  he
decided  to make a comeback under the 'Instabil' label,  which was  aborted,
and all the writings included in here as well.  As always,  Moondog's strong
and forthright viewpoint predominates.  Maybe I'll review this issue in more
detail in  another textfile,  but a  thumbs-up is due  to him for making the
effort in the first place!

A  bit later on,  find out that the top floor sleeping area has been  closed
off.  The  people in the student hall of residence are a bit concerned about
the  strange  people  wandering  up and down  its  corridors,  muttering  in
hexadecimal,  and  trying out new sixteen colour dithering techniques on the
walls.  So I have to move my bedding downstairs into one of the very crowded
'official'  sleeping rooms and clear just enough space to set up my bed, but
it is apparent it is going to be a tight squeeze tonight.

In  the  Godlike  grotto,  MSG is pondering the mystery of  his  Falcon.  It
performs  fine as a 68030-based computer,  the sound sub-system works as far
as  letting Sid Sound Designer operate.  However,  when it comes to the DSP,
arguably  the  most interesting bit of silicon on the  machine,  this  isn't
playing  at the moment.  You might care to remember this was Sh3's  original
Falcy,  which suffered a mysterious DSP death a long time ago,  then it came
back  to  life!  Now it has died temporarily again.  A passing hardware guru
drops by,looks at it knowledgeably, and reckons that there is an overheating
problem with the machine.  He then proceeds to take apart and strip down the
errant electronic  beast  more  naked than  it has ever  been since  it left
the factory! We all boggle at the small mountain of dust that has clogged up
the internal fan.  MSG energetically purges all traces of dust from the bare
motherboard with my airbed pump,  then puts the machine back together,  less
the rather hefty metal shielding.  (Atari ST's and Falcons, made out of war-
surplus Iraqi tanks?!)

The DSP still doesn't work.....

In  the  main "hall",  I accost that well known star of stage,  screen,  and
emulator  coding,  Draco  of  the slightly simmering 'YesCrew'.  He  is  the
creator of the interesting but incomplete Atari 8-bit emulator 'EmuXL'. This
turns out to be on the backburner,  or in the freezer, or whatever. He feels
that  he  had  got  as  far as  he  could  go,  whilst  keeping  performance
'reasonable'  on  a standard 16 mhz Falcon.  The major work,  such as a more
complete graphics system emulation would slow things right down.  Still,  if
any  of  the new wave of high-performance Falcon accelerators,  such as  the
CT60  or  Tempest were to come out,  then it was likely that EmuXL would  be

A rather shapeless and featureless feel smothers the rest of the day,  apart
from when the subject of food came up.  This goes to the replacement for the
(in)famous and deceased Amigo Pizza,  and is,  of course,  PIZZA!  Otherwise
known as "Fat vitamins" (C) Baggio.

An audience gathers for the first wave of competitions, for entries into the
graphics  and  sound  compo's.   The  music  competitions  are  pretty  well
supported,  but  the  graphics  competition  has suffered  a  huge  drop  in
interest,  with  only  a  handful  of  entries  across  the  three  separate
categories being combined, by necessity, into just the one competition!

Notable from the music competitions, a 'joke' entry from MSG, which puported
to  be the soundtrack from the long missing 'Republic' game.  Some appealing
material from the multichannel competition produced on Flex Track.  And lots
of  Sid Sound composed material.  These are politely received and voted  on.
The  main  wave of excitement will be when the big  demo  competitions  take
place tomorrow.

I  don't really remember a lot else from that Saturday evening.  It got into
the early part of Sunday before I went to bed though....

Sun 15th April..

Sleep comes in a more natural form than the previous nights alcohol assisted
slumber, but in an even more tightly packed space than before. I end up next
to  someone who grew a couple of extra elbows in his sleep,  and who twisted
and  turned  in his sleep with the frequency of an epileptic  on  the  'fast
spin' cycle!

Some  time  later,  I tentatively climb awake,  to tiptoe around the  still-
sleeping bodies,  whilst making the smallest amount of noise possible.  This
covert  exit seems to work well enough,  as I struggle gratefully back  into
the main partyplace, where there isn't too much doing at the moment.

There is more around by way of breakfast this morning, and I construct some
satisfactory sandwiches.  There is even some charmingly weak tea floating a
tea bag in it!  From there,  contemplate my Falcy once again, switch on and
play around with Ascii-Nation for  a  while.  (After adding to things  like
the  Undercover Mag realtime text,  which  actually managed to not lose any
text overnight for  once, well done!)

A lot of people have been coding overnight, including a presently silent set
of Reservoir Gods,  so it stays quiet for a while. Eventually there are more
signs  of life,  and Felice reappears,  when it is deemed safe to indulge in
some very loud sounds, such as a repeat of the Stafford Show outrage, the H-
IV demo at full volume,  drawing in a few of the original participants!? The
Res  Gods  are awake by now,  and desperately looking around  for  something
capable of recording audio samples. MSG's DSP-less Falcon, and Mr Pinks Sony
Laptop  are quickly rejected.  Felice's Falcon is a better bet,  but doesn't
have any tracker software (apart from Protracker?) on it.  My bodge keyboard
machine with Graoumf tracker on it,is pressed into service, and it amazingly
stays working,  even with me fearing a total collapse of keyboard control at
any second!

The fact that it was stripped down for summer,  like a lot of other hardware
in here, with its winter coat removed, might have helped?

Another filler,  by way of distraction from the rather dull progress of this
part of the story,  is a hair update.  People had opted for a number of more
or  less  alarming hair-do's (or hair-don'ts!) according to how  silly  they
were  feeling.  The great days of Sh3's alarming hair colours seemed to have
passed,  now  Kev  has  a  proper  job,  and he's buying a  house  with  his
girlfriend.  To  make  up for this distressing outbreak of sensibleness,  No
(Norman)  of Escape has stoutly maintained his green colouring,  whilst  his
girlfriend  Christin, goes  for a  primary shade of red!  In  something of a
pre-ordained(?) hair reversal from the last EIL,  Joe Cool, with hair at the
last party, has shaved it off, swapping baldness with Moondog, who has grown
his  hair  back..  Mr Pink has had a sleek 'power haircut',  to show what  a
mover  and  shaker he is in the corporate world of  entertainment  software.
Yours truly is overdue a six-monthly visit to the barbers!

HAIR ANALYSIS - Principal Character results...

     Buzz Cut gone awry
Chrome Dome           \\\\||/                 Antennae for hair!?!
\____/              |.   |                    ___  Don't ask!!   
/____\              @    |     sSSSss           \\                  
o_|  |    \\\\\\   /_   }      @) sSss           \\                 
/_ ...|    a)    )   |_/  |    <   }Sss          /\|              
||___/    c      )   \__/ |     >  :Sss         /@/\        
| |      >     )     :__'     \__/  ss       /_/ /             
'....'             I bet she       /  _/             
Buzz Cut,         uses shampoo     // /||               
forward slope     AND conditioner /__/ || 

Another  distraction is the internet "cafe" upstairs,  which translates to a
handful  of  elderly  Netscape/Linux boxes,  and checking out  the  bulletin
boards  reveal  a  shedful of last minute messages  from  people  trying  to
organise  themselves  to  get to EIL,  or plaintive noises from  Carbon  who
couldn't make it!

Something  called 'lunch' demands attention,  and more food is ordered  from
the  successor  outfit  to Amigo Pizza.  They must be on  very  slow  Sunday
working,  as  it  takes a very long time,  only just this side of forever to

This takes us well into the afternoon, and Baggio quietly suggests that this
would be a good time for Paranoid's 'Greatest hits of C64' compilation video
tape to be shown on the big screen.  This is good,  drawing only one adverse
reaction from the Mad Butcher,  a confirmed Atari 8-Bit fan,  who apparently
withdrew  from the room when the tape was shown!  (I didn't really see this,
for a very good reason which I'll tell about in a moment..)

The  demo's are cool,  but tiredness accumulated from the past few days,  is
catching  up  with me precisely at the wrong time.  I am sitting  down,  not
really  watching  the  C64 demos,  but I'm more vaguely aware of  them,  and
drifting   back  and  forth  between  the  parallel  worlds  of  sleep   and
wakefulness.  In the end,  it gets so bad, I have to regretfully withdraw to
the sleeping room for a time..

The  sleeping  room  is almost totally unoccupied,  so I am able to  make  a
little  more  room for my sleeping accomodation,  inching it away  from  'Mr
Elbows', who made the last night so intermittent in sleep quality. Crash for
a while...

A bit later on,  and back in the big screen room, or misnomered 'main hall',
another  Felice  inspired  movie  'Chucky' is  playing.  Gosh,  we  were  so
excited..  Some  people  left  at  that point,  not being able to  take  the

In amongst all the coding and demo finishing going on, there was quite a bit
of  hardware  fiddling taking place,  as various people had brought sick  or
lame  Falcons,  in  a Lourdes like bid to seek a miracle cure.  One unlikely
angel with a healing touch, is Tam, shortly to be famous for another reason,
who takes apart my dodgy keyboard inputting Falcy. After seeing the fault in
vivid  action  for  himself,  he prods and presses on a  number  of  obvious
things,  none  of  which  seem  to help.  In the end he diagnoses  a  faulty
keyboard connecting chip, but gives the less bad news that it is a cheap and
standard component to replace.  A new mishap is discovered,  only when I get
the  machine home again,  as the RGB Nemesis Videl switch comes apart in  my
hands! (I was able to reassemble it though!)

Although there is a lot of hard work in evidence,  with exciting competition
entries promised, it appears that some competitions are still struggling for
entries.  In this spirit,  505 approaches me with a view to the ASCII-Nation
diskmag  being  entered  as  a Wild Competition entry!  The  idea  being  to
videotape  one of the chapters whilst I slowly scroll down the page.  I  had
toyed with the idea of putting it in the competition beforehand,  but didn't
mention  it to anyone.  By then,  most people were aware of the existence of
the ASCII-Nation concept, even if they hadn't studied it close up yet.
.      . _______    We're a Wild Compo    .     .                .
 .    .  (       )   entry?! Pah! They    .               .
'O'      |  _____)   must be desperate!     It's not winning it that .
 '       | (  |._|  /     .                 matters, it's the pizza
     .   |        >           .    \\\\||/  consumption that's
\     ##                 |,   ,|  important!
.     ____|   # ~ __     .    .   :@   @: /                     +
(--- '.._ ## --).      .     {  V  }      .     \\\\\\   .  .
/===/    .   \   |             [\_/]             a)    )
  .  | S |    .   |   |  .    .  ._\___/__.   .  .  c      )
|===|    .   |   |    +     /  \    /  \        >     )   .
\   \    .   /   /      .   | | \  / | |        '....'      .
 .    \   \   .  /   /           | |  ||  | |     .  / / \\ 
\___\~~~~/___/            \ \  ''  | |        | | || 
__---_- |\\\    /\\\ ---____--__- \_\-----|_|___----_ | | ||-___--_
_______ |    ||    | ____________ /||\ . ///\ _______ |_|_||_______
|    ||    |                |  |  |            |/\\|
You  all should know what ASCII-Nation is by now,  but for those people  who
might  be  unfamiliar with the Atari scene,  it is a  parody  cartoon-strip,
created from ASCII keyboard characters, loosely based on a cross between the
original  1977 Star Wars movie,  and the much more recent 'Phantom  Menace'.
The  'loosely  based' becomes very loose,  when some of the  characters  are
based on well-known Atari scene personalities!  This was my personal project
for  Error  in Line,  which represented about a couple of months  of  fairly
constant work.

Hunger  pangs start to appear,  and I submit myself to the very long waiting
pizza ordering procedure for tea. My fears are realised, as it seems to take
even  longer  than before.  I spend some of the time watching  the  solitary
Acorn  RISC  PC  in action,  as its owner is showing off some  of  the  more
interesting demos on that machine.Food eventually arrives, a continent drift
or two later..

As I am starting to eat it,  505 approaches me with a view to getting ASCII-
Nation  onto  tape.  I wave him away for ten minutes,  which is all the time
that I need! (Pizza note:- In addition to the over-large 'family' pizza size
familiar  from  the first EIL,  there was also an even bigger  'party'  size
rectangular  pizza,  which several of the Swedes ordered,  but none dared to
try to eat it  on his own!)  There  is a JPEG floating around,  of a wistful
looking  Evil confronting such a monster pizza,  in the precious moment that
he had it to itself, before someone else came to share it!

                                 C'mon, hand it
........  /||||\                          over!          
/o*o*o* / ( .  . )   Mmmm! Yummm! Hmmmm!        .^^^^.                         
/*O*O*O*/  s-Q--Q-s   Errrmmmm.....         /\  ( \  / )  /\           
/o*o_/\ /   [  /   ]  /                    _/  \( {@}{@} )/  \_             
/*O*/ .`/    { \/\/ }          ,,               (   '  '   )   
/o*o*\_ ':,   /''''''_/\/\/\/\ :                (    /~~~\   )
/.......\ o   {                \:                 (.        .)
'   .  (_________________/                   /|\--/|\ 
Upstairs, in the internet 'cafe' or cabin, and most of the entries have been
handed in by then.  A VCR sits waiting,  connected to a Falcon,  and we boot
with ASCII-Nation in the disk drive. I have three minutes to record my spot.
I  select chapter nine,  arguably some of the best work there,  and we start
recording.  Afterwards,  I  find  out a bit more about the expected  running
order  for tonight.  Pretty much everyone discussed earlier is there,  apart
from Mind Design, who have pulled out with an incomplete demo. There is also
a  surprise entry from a German GFA Basic crew for the Falcon,  with a  demo
which had already been released but not widely distributed.

Back downstairs,  and I find Grey again.  He is in a cubbyhole, off the main
hall,  where MC Laser and Sygne,  of first night Macedonian Red wine infamy,
are set up.  Grey is running what looks like part 2 of the Chosneck realtime
from Sygne's machine, a very  nicely  specified  MagiC O/S Falcon set-up. MC
Laser  is in a good mood,  showing  off  some 'lost' or not yet seen(?) tSCc
stuff, and   bundling  copies of  the  first  release of  the  scene   music
compilation 'Fading Twilight' together.  This looks rather like an essential
party souvenir, so I ask  about  purchasing a  copy,  but I'll have to  wait
until  after  the competitions.

Time  drags on as the main viewing room gradually fills up.  There is an air
of expectancy about the place, and eventually the organisers stir into life.
No. it's not the competitions just yet, but something else, arguably just as
compelling.  This  is  the 'Whip Pong' competition that I mentioned in  that
dramatic opening paragraph!

What is Whip-Pong?  Well it's almost like the classic Atari retro-70's game,
but  with one big difference.  Instead of using simple things like hands and
fingers to move the bat or paddle,  Whip-Pong is activated by voice control,
the louder or more substained the voice, the further down the screen the bat
goes!  There  is  quite  a large field,  about thirty-odd people,  who  have
entered themselves for this trial by shouting. Soon, the room is filled with
an  assortment  of  screams  and  yells,  these people  are  of  voting  age
apparently! Well the thought scares me!

Notable  screamers,  include  Havoc,  who screamed like a girl!  Felice,  who
sounded  like  he was choking,  and crashed out in the first round.  MSG and
Sh3,  teamed up against each other, came up with an impromptu acapello 'Drum
n Bass' soundtrack,  which seemed to work for a time!  It gradually emerged,
there was one player who could well go all the way to win this thing, and he
was  the Swedish maniac sometimes known as 'Tam'!  He had learnt the art  of
successful  Whip-Pong  bat control,  which was that substainability  counted
more  than sheer volume.  His yells subsided into pornographically  menacing
soft  moans,  but  this resulted in perfect bat control,  which disposed  of
opponent after opponent!

.-----------------.         /\/\/\/\/\/\\     ___O     __                       
|  8          6   |        /YEeeAAaaghh!/    \        /  \                           
|                 |        \Get off my/\\    :--'""'--:   O       
:|   '''''*       :        /foot!/\/\/  \ .-'  \____/  '-.       
|                ||        \/\/\/        (,.  ((_[]_))  ,.)      
|                 | BIP!                  \_.   << >>  ._/       
'---------------'  -__                      \,______,/          
         |                         ) ( 
A  tightly  fought  final  with D-Force,  who had learned  the  same  trick,
resulted  in Tam being declared the winner.  Prizes of throat lubricant  and
beer  (surely  both the same thing?  -Ed) are dished out liberally.  It only
remains to say that the Whip-Pong event was the single most hilarious moment
of the party! Laugh? We did until our lungs ruptured!

This filled the time nicely,  until it was very late,  and the main event of
the party, the demo competitions were ready to run...

The  lights  dim once more,  and the competition is upon us.  The first part
consists  of  a two-entry  Whip!  plugin  competition,  with Earx and Charon
of Escape coming up with a pair of interesting high quality entries

Following  these,  are  the  appetisers  to the main  event,  the  4k  intro
category.  Just  a  couple of entries,  possibly afterthoughts to  weightier
productions  from Ray of tSCc,  who came up with an ST-based texture tunnel,
and a funny little thing from Escape which had a brief 'atomic' theme to it.

The  intro category,   in the past  the stage  for  such epic Falcon-busters
as the Fried Bits 3 tSCc combined production 'Terrorise Your Soul!', doesn't
threaten to break any new boundaries either. Exocet showcases some more cute
graphics and easy code, whilst the absent from the party  Ray puts in a more
heavyweight ST intro,   which  also  happens  to be the intro for the Fading
Twilight scene music CD-ROM.

When  the Wild competition (anything goes!) approaches,  my stomach tightens
into  a  ball,  as ASCII-Nation gets its first (ahem!) showing to the  wider
Atariscene  public.  One thing which is apparent is that a lot of the impact
is lost, owing to the crap videotape quality. The first Error in Line used a
superior  quality  Betamax tape.  This didn't affect the  other  competition
entries  quite  as  badly,  just  anything  that used  a  1st  Word  textual
interface.  Still,  the  'Princess  Orangeboom  chained to a  kinky  torture
machine'  illustration  raised a laugh.  Outstanding was a very  good  video
entry  from  Havoc, combining a Pokemon spoof,  with a James Bond theme,  or

There was something about an Atari 8-Bit competition, but that didn't really
produce any  excitement,  just a couple of  low intensity intros with a last
minute 'throw-together' air about them....

As stated before, there is just a single entry for the ST demo category, the
long awaited French made 'Odd Stuff' combined production from Sector One and
Dune.  This  matches  my ST News International Christmas  Coding  Convention
memories as looking rather special, in an oldschool design sense. It is also
rather  better for being completed and running for a natural length,  rather
than  cutting off suddenly.  The highlight of the demo is a twisty  textured
polygonal  pillar,  but this only just sticks out of a work of overall  high
quality.  There  are  hints of more to come in the extended information  and
greetings text right at the end.

Of course,  this is only the prequel to the main act, the new wave of Falcon
demos,  much awaited, with great things expected of them. Would they be able
to live up to the hype,  or would it all crash and burn in a funeral pyre of

They start quietly,  the first entry (you may shoot me later if I've got the
running  order  wrong!) is the only "fake" demo in  the  whole  competition,
'Pizza',  by  the Spice Boys.  This details a brief but effective one minute
history  of  the life of a Pizza Slice,  and is one of those  Swedish  demos
using  'new'  techniques,  such as MP2 replay and advanced 3-D state of  the
artness shiny environment mapping!

A  strange little demo by Remo,  a previously unknown German crew,  comes up
next.  This  goes under the name of 'Coffeine Overdose' and it is written in
GFA Basic,  showing up quite well, even taking that limitation into account.
It's  haunting  insistent soundtrack made us all aware we were living  in  a
Biosphere, or was that a 'demosphere'!?

The  Paranoid  is back,  with an all-new effort,  largely based on some past
bits of Dead Hackers in their tunnel heyday,  but not needing an FPU.  'Rock
Solid' lives up to its name,  proving to be reliable, dependent, accelerator
friendly,  if  not  especially flashy.  Still,  it is a big improvement over
previous  efforts,  and the time is surely coming when Oliver is going to be
as much a force to be reckoned with,  as the current good and great of Atari
demo coding!

Now things are getting seriously good.  T.O.Y.S entry 'Wait' struts out onto
the  screen.  This  has promised some spectacular effects,  and succeeds  in
delivering a frantically paced 3-D morph-o-rama set against a sea of heaving
textures.  This  demo sets out to impersonate a common PC or high-end  Amiga
type  of  demo,  and  does it brilliantly!  Several stunning 3-D  set-pieces
included, all without a DSP, which was used for the MP2 audio streaming!

Last but one,  and the dark horse entry by Escape is up for viewing. It goes
under  the  unassuming  name of 'Hmmm'.  This takes  everyone  by  surprise.
Expectations  were  high,   but  they  were  higher  for  the  Dead  Hackers
forthcoming  production.  To say this was the best kept secret of the  Atari
scene  would  be true.  The demo starts and blasts from one spectacular  3-D
morphing  polygon  into another!  The soundtrack pounds at full speed,  DSP-
generated effect follows effect,  then suddenly it stops. Then starts again,
quieter,  the demo hasn't stopped.  Indeed, it goes on for some time, taking
in a huge range of alien sea creatures,  transparent wormlike torus's (yes!)
spiny  growing things,  blurry impressions of shapes within shapes,  and the
best to the end,  a transparent spiral staircase with dozens of little balls
cascading down it!

This  is without so far mentioning the fact that this demo has got  some  of
the  best  synched  music to go with it,  and the blending of  effects  with
soundtrack is top-notch, each taking the other to greater heights of overall
impact.  The  gathered crowd are silent for a moment,  and then a torrent of
wild  cheering  bursts out!  Many people are moved to claim that  this  demo
finally  topples the 1997 era 'Sonoluminescenz' from its crown,  as the best
Falcon  demo  ever! And they may just be right!  Oh,  and I almost forgot to
mention this production could run perfectly on a 1993 era 4MB unexpanded  16
mhz Falcy!                 \  :  /      
                            \_|_/       <OWW!>
.-----.    Careful with that   ._ _ ____|Hmm|____ _ _.    
/_____/ '   cube, or it'll               |___|              
|Escape| |   poke your eyes               / | \             
|      |/    out!                        /  :  \     
'------'    /                           /   |   \     Told you so!
                         '    '    '
From  being the expected top dog in this competition,  Dead Hackers suddenly
have a very very hard act to follow indeed!  To their credit,  they do their
best, as their entry 'Don't Break the Oath' thunders onscreen. This features
a  lot  of leading edge 3-D,  a slightly more conventional design  than  the
T.O.Y.S demo,  but with the 3-D running in a higher resolution, with lots of
shiny  things  onscreen.  Also,  the  Dead Hackers reputation for  the  best
finishing  quality on the Atari scene is maintained and enhanced  with  this
production. This demo is more accelerator dependent than any of the previous
entries,  developed on a Centurbo 2 accelerated machine,  and played back on
an  even more powerful Afterburnered '040 based Falcon for  the  competition
(if my hearing is correct?) My favourite feature of this demo is the  superb
MP2  soundtrack  by Candyman,  a sadly missed (temporarily, one hopes?)
multi-talented dude!

When the last end credit has faded,  another cheer! It is clear that the new
generation of Atari Falcon demos has arrived at last!

Mon 16th April...

A  few people have early departures and start to pack,  no-one is in a hurry
to go to bed we filter back to the Reservoir Gods grotto.  They aren't going
to  bed  either,  as  an  early morning airport  departure  awaits.  In  the
meantime,  we  are  all  killing time.  MSG comments on the 'Hmmm' demo,  as
cunningly using the illusions of objects, rather than everyday mundane solid
polygons. Is this the way forward for future demos?

MC Laser emerges with the first completed editions of 'Fading Twilight',  so
I  grab my copy (after paying for it of course!) Meanwhile,  Sh3 has taken a
shine   to  my  grey  Jagpad,   apparently  a  very  rare  piece  of   Atari
collectorabilia  (CiH in new made-up work shocker!) We agree a swap for  one
of his normal black models,  and a reasonable amount of cash, not dissimilar
to the price paid for the Fading Twilight CD in fact.

Elsewhere,  there  is a certain amount of votesheet completing and  counting
activity  going  on,  it looks like the Swedes are recognising  the  awesome
'Hmmm'  demo as an all-time classic.  The smart money,  and even most of the
stupid money is now on this demo to win the competition.  Eventually,  those
people  not setting off early filter their way back to the  sleeping  rooms,
and at some late hour,  it could have easily been three or four am, I joined
them.  Tense  up in anticipation of another elbow-fest,  but there is enough
room tonight, so I sleep soundly for the short time, about ten minutes or so
(subjective internal clock values!) until someone from the organisers knocks
on the door to announce the presentation of the results and prizes.

A fair few brave early risers await the outcome.

505 dominates both Protracker and Multichannel music competitions.  However,
MSG  manages to pull a winner out of the soundchip music compo.  Flash  from
TNB wins a sparser than normal graphics competition.

No-one is surprised with tSCc winning the 64k intro category, or with Escape
taking  the  4ktro event.  And the big Falcon demo winner,  is of course the
world-beating  'Hmmm'  demo with Dead Hackers in second  place.  An  initial
miscounting of votes put the natural third place winner 'Wait'  by  T.O.Y.S,
a place lower than it should have been!  this mistake lasts a few days until
after  I've got back from the trip.  Paranoid is pleased and embarrassed  at
making third place at that point in time.

  .------------. /||||\
  :ESCAPE WIN  : ( \  / )   I hate coming second! 
  :FALCON DEMO : s-Q--Q-s /  Damn that green-haired
  :COMPETITION!: [  /   ]     coding genius!!
  '------------' { ~~~~ }
############                 /''''''_/\/\/\/\/\
##        ##                {                  \
---##--------##----------------(_._._._._._._._.   \---------------
As  for the wild competition,  there weren't any surprises there either!  As
Havoc and friends stormed first place by quite a margin. At the same time, I
didn't seem to do too badly for prizes,  coming away with free registrations
for  the  Luna text editor,  and a fistful of CD-ROM's,  which was extremely
nice (grin!)

There is not a lot left of the party now,  more people leave, others get up,
and  we gradually disassemble our kit.  Breakfast goes marvellously to  plan
today,  as  loads  of fresh supplies,  including warm fresh-baked breadrolls
whizz in. We eat until we are stupidly stuffed.

Meanwhile,  other  disturbing developments outside the party sanctuary  have
been discovered,  as Moondog has found his car broken into and damaged, with
evidence  that  the  people concerned may have tried  to  force  entry  into
Havoc's  car first?  Moondog has to leave his car behind to get it repaired,
and is understandably not too happy with this unwelcome development.

Meanwhile,   I   attempt  to  use  the  outside  call  box  which  can  make
international calls,  or rather, would have done, if the clown sitting in it
forever  in  a  smug  haze of reversed call charges,  didn't  block  it  all
morning!  I  have  to  forgo making a phone call back home because  of  this
selfish idiot!

Only  a few people left now..  The last significant departures come from the
french contingent including ST Survivor,  and the Polski's. Moondog is there
until the end, constantly adding to the UCM realtime. In the end, apart from
the organisers,  who are starting to clear tables back upstairs,  only Havoc
and  ourselves are left.  Creature XL has managed to make other arrangements
back  for  the journey home (was it something we said!) So only NUT  has  to
come  back  with us.  This allows for more breathing space,  and  crucially,
proper rear vision in the car.

The  journey  starts back straightforwardly enough.  Apart from  an  initial
burst of confusion of the "Well we know exactly where we are on the map, but
we're  still lost!" variety.  The weather starts off as bright,  and traffic
conditions fair, and with Felice at the controls, we make good progress.

We  carry on in this vein until we rejoin the main  cross-country  East-West
route, which has a lot more traffic, and something else even less welcome to
a dense horde of returning Easter holiday travellers, road works which arise
at the slightest provocation!  It seems like we are kept waiting for an hour
whilst the authorities attempt to deal with a pine cone that has fallen into
the  road  or  something!  At  the  same  time,  the  weather  deteriorates,
eventually  it  gets dark,  and the journey back to Havoc's place takes  too
damn  long!  NUT  spends  quite  a long time on  his  mobile,  at  expensive
international call rates,  trying to convince a sceptical girlfriend that he
can't  help  being late (this scenario sounds TOO familiar for  my  liking!)
Eventually,  we cross the Dutch border with NUT cheering wildly. And not too
long after that, eventually get back to Havoc's place.

Tea,  party post-mortems,  and plans for tomorrow follow. The tea is without
milk,  but  quite  sweet,  the post-party consensus is that it was a  worthy
successor  to  the first Error in Line party,  and that there  were  several
demos  contending  for  all-time  greatness coming from  it.  The  plan  for
tomorrow,  which  was  a free day before we went back to the UK,  was for  a
return visit to the bright lights of Amsterdam, possibly including some with
a reddish tint?!

After that, time to drink deeply at the bathroom tap of sleep.

Tues 17th April...

No-one is in a hurry to get up, so we don't.

Havoc  isn't going with us,  he has sensible things he needs to get on with,
such as his university work,  so he gives us a lift into the centre of town,
dropping us off at the main railway station. A train and tickets are easy to
sort out.  The journey to Amsterdam takes about a couple of hours. We arrive
at  the  Central Station,  urgently seeking food and substenance,  and  find
Mcdonalds instead.

Afterwards,  we wander around for a while, taking in some familiar music and
souvenir  shops  visited  last time last Xmas.  Inevitably,  Felice's  eager
footsteps  take  him ever closer to a certain scarlet glowing  part  of  the
city, where neon signs flicker reflectively in the turgid canals.

That Felice is one     | ----------------      
LUCKY dude!!!          |'        .--.    '   
_                   ||       (._=.\   |  Sorry, I'm just an
\ _  /             |:       `a a j)  |  ASCII wet-dream!
// \               ||        \v /    | / 
//                  |;       ._| |__  |    
/\                   ||      (/      \ |  /|-----------|\
/\@\                  |:      (_  (. j \| /  Two-Lips in  \
\ \/\                 ||   .__)|   " /\,\ \  Amsterdam!   /
\_  \  SLUUURP!!     |;  //  _/ ,  (_/ /  \|-----------|/
||\ \\               || /"         / ('   
|| \__\              |: \  \___\/  \\` |  
/  \                  ||  \  |   \|  |^,   
|\ |'--<              ||   \ |    \  |) |  
| '---<               ||    ) \    ._/  |  
------\__/ ---------------- ||   /  )         |  
|  \                  ||   `-'          |  
|   \                 | ----------------   
|    \_                                   
We  spend a fair bit of time there,  and it is pretty much as I described it
in the STNICCC report.  Some girls are pretty,  others pretty scary. After a
while,  I  switch  off  a  little bit,  and come up with a list  of  several
(almost)  non-controversial  things  to  look at  whilst  going  around  the
Amsterdam Red Light district with Felice!

1.  Gosh,  doesn't  that plastic bag floating in the canal look a bit like a 
swan if you glance at it very quickly from a certain angle!

2.  Just  how  does a painting and decorating place manage to make a  living 

3. There's a suspicious bulge in that Thai girl's pants which makes her look 
like a.....!!!!

4.  I  wonder  when  those two groups of Chinese Triads are  going  to  stop 
shouting at each other in the street, and start on the meat cleavers!?

5. What is a school party doing being taken on a guided tour!?!

And  what was a school party doing there,  perched on the centre of a  canal
bridge, in the Red Light district of old Amsterdam? "Now boys, when you're a
bit older,  those of you without girlfriends will be coming back here,  in a
furtive  manner,  desperately hoping not to be recognised by people who know
your parents well!"

With  Felice,  there  was a fairly poorly hidden agenda,  over which he  had
undergone  some considerable soul-searching over the past few days.  He  had
been  following  the life and times of the red-lighters through  a  bulletin
board,  and  was seeking out someone described as a 'brunette Britney Spears
lookalike'.  Whether  anything  further on from there was being  considered,
remains unknown, as in the end, nothing even slightly suggestive happened...

Was this the intended real 'climax' of the party? We shall never know....

After  that tense session of dangling toes in the acid bath of lust,  a nice
chinese  meal  seems  to  be a good idea.  We hit lucky first  time  with  a
reasonably  priced place,  which has a clientele about fifty percent Chinese
people.  So they must know this place is alright? We aren't disappointed, as
a  spicy hot chicken dish appears,  then disappears as fast as my teeth  can
carry it to my gut!

There  isn't  much more to add here.  We get back to Havoc's place,  after a
very  sophorific  two hour train journey,  the bus is  straightforward  this
time, and we are back without any trouble.


Weds 18th April...

A  day of returning,  of final departure from the lands where the music  and
colour  of the Atari-Scene still chime brightly,  back to a place where  the
PeeCee box-shifter, and his superficial commercial values rule.

Shortly before midday,  after a slow awakening and breakfasting process chez
Havoc,  we  make  our  way  for the long road journey back to  the  Hook  of
Holland.  The  journey passes straightforwardly,  we get there with loads of
time  to  spare.  We get out of the car for a while to enjoy  the  magically
reappeared  spring  weather,  admiring the marine traffic as it sails  past.
There  is still a stiff breeze,  which is going to make life interesting,  a
bit later on.

On  the  ferry,  the  weather forecast flashes up on  the  monitors,  'STORM
FORCE!', well the lower end of that actually, but the captain comes onto the
intercom  to  add  weight to that bold statement,  by  saying  that  sailing
conditions were going to get rough about twenty minutes out! And this in the
middle  of me burning up my final Deutschmarks on the biggest Big  Mac  meal

We ride out the choppy seas by sitting in the video wall/bar area,  which is
close to the centre-line of the ship. The wind and waves were blowing at the
side  of  the Stena Discovery rolling the ship,  which  meant  those  people
sitting at the sides got the worst of it! And that is where we stayed, apart
from one memorably  hazardous  up and downhill  trip to  the tax-free  shop.
Eventually,  the East coast  of England extends  a protective arm, whilst we
are still an hour or so out, and the seas calm down. I find out near the end
of the trip that not everyone  got  away  unscathed, as the sinkful of vomit
in the toilets bore a mute but extremely smelly witness to that failure!

Disembarking and the drive home was unmemorable,  apart from a mega-downpour
near  Cambridge,  which was a last minute reminder of the conditions of  the
trip  up  to Dresden.  I eventually get myself and my stuff home,  and after
dragging it upstairs, snap online to check out the masses of activity on the
DHS  site,  and  my  modem shivers gently in its black  plastic  casing,  in
anticipation  of  the  huge amount of demo downloading awaiting  it  in  the
following days!


A sequel is never as good as the original, right?

WRONG!  - This sequel managed to live up to the unforgettable original,  and
may even have been a better party in a lot of respects!

Considering  it solely in terms of crude numbers,  it was a slightly smaller
party than before, with a few important and sadly missed omissions. I cannot
pass  by  without reflecting on what might have been,  with a second  Defjam
brainblaster on the ST (And what might hopefully still be someday?) It would
have  been  cool to see the extra-talented Creamies in the house  too,  they
were  greatly  missed.  Also some people at the party,  such as Mystic Bytes
held back this time.

However, putting the negative stuff behind us, we did get some releases that
were genuinely groundbreaking,  and giving us new heights of quality. Escape
did for us this time,  what Defjam and Checkpoint did the last, which was to
provide  a  'demo to beat all other demos' (for now at least?),  with  their
DSP-tastic brain-bursting 'Hmmm' demo for the good old Falcy. And this still
possible on an unexpanded 1993-era machine.  A message to the over-vocal but
strangely unproductive  'Mr Angry'  tendency, now THAT is the way to win the
argument for unexpanded Falcons to rule the day!

And  for those people who went to the trouble and expense to  upgrade  their
birdy-box, they were superbly catered for by the Swedish hardcore, with very
highly  professional  demo's from Dead Hackers Society,  and  T.O.Y.S.  They
showed their dedication and care for the fuji platform, and deserved all the
prizes and praises that came their way!

For the ST,  there wasn't a lot around,  apart from a long-quiescent part of
the old French scene,  who suddenly emerged from the dark depths,  clutching
their 'Odd Stuff', like some supposedly mythical sea-creature!

And  what  of  the  also-rans?  Even  these  offered  some  interesting  and
worthwhile productions,  hinting at possible future greatness! Step forward,
Paranoid, and the coder of Remo!

And  the  Spice  Boys?  A  grateful world thanks them  for  introducing  the
concepts  of  pizza  digestion  and shiny  enviro-mapped  poo  to  the  demo

ASCII-Nation,  mumble,  errrm....  I  won  those prizes fair and square,  and
you're not getting them back now!

The hospitality went off,  as if it just ran off the smoothest of production
lines,  as before. Escape and Checkpoint looked after us as well as they did
last  time,  and managed to score something of a coup by rebooking the  same
place as before, which was in an easy to find by road location!

From a personal point of view,  I found this party even more satisfying than
the  first  one.  The  friendship element gets better and closer  with  each
successive visit to an Atari event, and EIL part 2 was certainly the coolest
yet in those terms.

Old  friendships carried on,  as if a two-year hiatus since I last  properly
saw  the  people  concerned,  simply  hadn't happened.  So it was  with  the
Reservoir Gods,  and especially Sh3.  Glad to see you're all there, unbowed,
undefeated, always yourselves!

Other  friendships  reached  new heights,  as the Polski crowd went  to  the
trouble of making us extra-welcome.  We spent quite a lot of time with them,
and not just for the vodka! Big hi there's go to Grey and Sqward especially!

We also have the efficiency and helpfulness of Havoc and the Dutch guys  who
made  our journey there and back a lot easier than it could have  been.  You
were great!

In  fact,  everyone  was  fantastic.  This  is a complete  reversal  of  the
situation  at our first coding party,  the Symposium '96 (I told you I would
be  name-dropping  it for evermore!) where we felt cast adrift in a  sea  of
strangers,   desperately  seeking  out  small  islands  of  familiarity  and
companionship. Nowadays, no-one is a stranger, and everyone is a friend!

I  would  go  as  far  as saying that even if  the  Atari  element  were  to
disappear  completely,  these  gatherings  are  worth  maintaining  for  the
friendship aspect alone!  Not that I'm suggesting the Atari element is lost,
as we are all creative people who like to stretch the boundaries ever  more,
and if we stopped doing that, then something inside us would die a little?

I would be very happy if another Error in Line party was held in the future,
even if it isn't next year.  The organisers deserve a rest for their efforts
on  behalf of the rest of us,  and the biggest vote of thanks goes to  them,
for proving there is still life in the Fuji!

And may it go on for some time yet!


The Saturday evening after the party,  a third floor location in Northampton.
Two people sit close together...

A female voice speaks....

sSsSsSs I've just had a crazy idea Chris,
SS{@ @}SS why don't we get back together...
S(  v  )S /
'\<_>/'  (So I said "yes!")
/ Nicky \ 

So getting to the next Easter party might not be that easy after all!? Well,
we'll see!!

CiH for Alive! - June/July and bits in August '01

Don't ask where I got the time to do this lot, just don't, okay!

Alive 3