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And Through The Wires, I Touched The Power

If  you've got a sizeable console collection and it's all hooked up at once, then the back of your game rack or entertainment center is probably inhabited by a hideous electronic octopus of wiring, a multi-tentacled menace of near-Lovecraftian proportions, just biding its time to entangle the cat the next time he happens to jump behind there.

Not that this has ever happened to me, of course, mind you.  Purely hypothetical situation.  Of course.  And the cat's recovering nicely, thanks for asking.

The odd thing about all of these wonderful little one-way streets of audiovisual information and electricity is that they tend to put off visitors, spouses, and possibly even visiting spouses.  Generally, if all goes well, you don't need to access this wiring again once everything is in place, so why not hide it?

I myself have open, restaurant-style steel shelves encasing my game collection, so this makes the "cover-up operation" all the more important.  And I've found ways to use stuff I already had - some of it quite unexpected stuff at that - to keep everyone from having to see my labyrinthine wiring setup.

Covering up my wires is a proud tradition that goes back to my early adulthood.  When I was a teenager, my father came home from work one day, gleefully bearing a gift of circuit boards.  Apparently, the old mainframe computer that had been keeping things going at work had finally been swapped out for something much more modern, like a Commodore 128, and in a communal commemoration of the pain that had been inflicted upon everyone by this dying machine, everyone was invited to take a swipe at the thing with a large mallet as it was wheeled out of the office.  My dad took the opportunity to grab some undamaged circuit boards - big ones, mind you - out of the old mainframe and brought them home to me.

To give you an idea of how much technology has advanced, these circuitboards were bigger than the top of your Xbox.  One of them had a faded paper sticker on it bearing the legend PRINTER PAPER ADVANCE.  As if that was the only function that board served.  Because it was.

Anyway, these circuit boards, propped up in various configurations over the years, have served me extremely well in the cause of covering up my wiring.  At one point, I even wrapped a string of Christmas chase lights around an unused VHS videotape rack and propped that up behind the circuitry - giving it the gentle, intriguing glow that you'd expect from Futuristic High Technology At Work…assuming you were raised on episodes of Buck Rogers and Blake's 7 in the 1970s.

I can't count how many people asked me just what exactly all the glowing circuitry did.  After a while it was more fun to just be mysterious about it rather than giving the direct, boring answer.

More recently, I've pressed everything from arcade marquees (typically the bigger, heavier ones that didn't fit in my previously-covered marquee display) to 70s and 80s album covers - yes, from real live vinyl LPs - into the service of wire concealment.  Whatever you've got, go for it - framed video game memorabilia, a pinball backglass of your choice, laminated box art or video game print ads, all those Tron 2.0 action figures you left on the original package, you name it.  It adds a layer of interest that goes beyond the console in front of it.  It says a lot more about you.  And last I checked, you are decorating your game room, aren't you?

Well, there you go.  Until the next time, good hunting, good decorating, and take another almighty whack at the next mainframe you see, and see what falls out.

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Last updated: Wednesday, August 31, 2005 08:04 AM