Babes in Zyll-land

Just an aside; I have had lots I wanted to write about, but my work is busy and my home is too; so I apologize that I haven’t sat down to write in awhile.

I stayed up until 2:20AM last night playing Zyll on my home computer.  My ten-year-old son asked me why I use the name “Zyll” as my pseudonym, and so I began to describe the 1984 computer game to him.  He’s avidly reading the Harry Potter book series right now, so his interest is probably at its peak for a fantasy game of wizards and magic like Zyll.  I turned twelve years old in 1984, so this is perfect.  I have such a hard time connecting with him over discussions of Harry Potter, Pokemon, or Skylanders!  Perhaps Zyll could bridge the gap?

I have had the Zyll executable file for a couple years now, but I couldn’t play it ever since Windows went away from a 64-bit processing system.  Last night, though, after my son went to bed, I found a program called “DOS Box” that emulates an old IBM computer.  It even allows the user to adjust the simulated processing speed, so that I can slow the virtual CPU clock down to the original PCJr.’s quaint 4.77 Megahertz.  Immediately I fired up Zyll and started playing.  I was happily twelve-years-old again while temporarily bathed in the cold glow of the computer screen.

After two hours of playing (around 11PM), I searched on the internet and found a PDF of the original instructions manual.  It described all the Alt-key shortcuts to modify your playing experience, including pause, screen color, and most importantly, Alt-K to switch from the old IBM XT keyboard (83-keys) layout to the PCJr. 62-key layout.  Eureka!  Full two-player cooperative or competitive action in real time like I and my sister used to play.  This means I can legitimately get my son introduced to the game without the cumbersome handicaps.  The early morning hours quickly rolled over until I couldn’t stay awake any longer and I sneaked my old weary behind into bed.

So now I’m faced with a dilemma.  How do I introduce Zyll to my son?  If I let him stumble through for hours like I did, he might lose interest.  But if I show him all my maps, tips, and secrets, much of the entertainment value will be stilted.  I remember when I first started playing, I stood no chance against the Evil Sorcerer Zyll; he would kill me quickly and efficiently if I stayed in the same room with him long enough to try and fight back.

The evil sorcerer Zyll throws a bolt of green flame at you. ¤¤
You are critically injured.

So the first time I killed Zyll, I felt such a sense of accomplishment!  Finally I was an expert at a video game; any video game, after years of dropping quarters into the abyss of failure.  I was in love and I spent many hours as a kid mapping out every room and treasure in that game; truly mastering it.  Writing this blog here and now; it occurs to me that perhaps the thrill of that accomplishment was what made Zyll meaningful to me even today.

I must carefully plan my approach so that both my son and daughter might enjoy playing together.  How do you introduce something you are an expert at to the ones you love, who know nothing of it except your blind enthusiasm? They will probably be turned off by my impatience before they even attempt to gain proficiency.  Clearly, I can’t play at a competitive level with them, ever.  They’re just my little PC-Jr.’s and their 4.77 MHz processors won’t match my gigahertz until they’re no longer interested (or perhaps shouldn’t be interested) in this sort of thing.

In pondering this parallax the morning after, I am painfully aware that my obsession with Zyll is purely nostalgic.  But Zyll could also be, by God’s grace, my personal icon that teaches me to better relate with and enjoy my children at this age.  It has allowed me a unique change in observational position that provides a new line of sight into the child’s world of fantasy and imagination.  In closing, I can’t describe this poignancy any better than with the universal truth of this song from the 1903 operetta Babes in Toyland:


Verse 1:
When you’ve grown up my dears,
And are as old as I,
You’ll often ponder on the years
That roll so swiftly by, my dears,
That roll so swiftly by.
And of the many lands,
You will have journeyed through,
You’ll oft recall the best of all,
The land your childhood knew!

Toyland, toy land
Little girl and boy land
While you dwell within it
You are ever happy there
Childhood’s joy land
Mystic merry toy land
Once you pass its borders
You can never return again

Verse 2:
When you’ve grown up, my dears,
There comes a dreary day.
When ‘mid the locks of black appears
The first pale gleam of gray, my dears,
The first pale gleam of gray.
Then of the past you’ll dream
As gray-haired grown-ups do,
And seek once more
Its phantom shore,
The land your childhood knew!
Your childhood knew.

Toyland, toy land
Little girl and boy land
While you dwell within it
You are ever happy there
Childhood’s joy land
Mystic merry toy land
Once you pass its borders
You can never return again.


About zyll9

Here are some topics that have recently interested me: ♥ The Enigma Machine ♦ Morse Code ♣ Fluorescent minerals ♠ The Long scale and the word milliard ♥ The 21 Spanish Missions of California and El Camino Real ♦ 3D Printing and browsing items on ♣ Le Mans and the 1955 winner, a Jaguar D-Type ♠ My huge King James Version Bible, which was printed at least before 1893 ♥ Hyperinflation paper money ♦ Silver certificates vs. United States Notes vs. Federal Reserve Notes ♣ Old Stereoscopic photographs and anaglyphs ♠ Pyramids, such as those at Giza in Egypt and at Teotihuacan in Mexico ♥ The special characters produced using ALT-Codes (ie., Alt 14 makes this: ♫) ♦ Old-style numerals written above and below the line by using Text Figures ♣ The long-s which looks like an "f" and went extinct around 1810. like "Congreß" ♠ How to play chess better, because I really suck at it ♥ Animated gifs of funny movie clips ♦ Archaeoastronomy ♣ Hiking the John Muir Trail ♠ Sighting comets ♥ My DIY Musicbox
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