Sir! Ma`am! There’s a poise to your paws and perk to your peepers that leads me to believe you enjoy the odd game when at your leisure! Not of chance, no – something with a bit of class. Sophistication. If you dig what I’m dealin’, have I got the word for you!

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Recession! Depression! Every dime store politician and radio wise guy is aiming to spook you into such a jitterbug you can’t tell your soggy stocks from your stained skivvies. The truth is, Jack, you can DDR foxtrot from here to Yaya trying to give the slump the slip, but that’ll do as much good for your bankbook as getting mugged by some goon with a bookie to answer to. Already pinched your last penny so dry the Okies go back home in search of greener pastures? You can either become a two-bit crook to support your 128-bit habit or stay on the up and up with a few trademark tricks.

That’s where I come in.

Say you have a stack of doughnut discs so tall it’d make a robot copper’s mouth oil. Odds are you’ve given these Bettys the once-around, had a few laughs and left them to dust. Sure, you played the gent and grifted a couple of achievements; but like my old man always said, “Treat your games like you treat your dames: Try`em, buy`em, ply`em.” Sounds as classy as a crowbar, but believe you me, pops was a lollapalooza of a lady killer!

Only a sucker dumps his dough on some jalopy he hasn’t wheeled around the block, and the same schmuck goes broke for a game he hasn’t played. If you have the green to stuff your shelf, then what’s a little fresh-squeezed juice, courtesy of your local game loan shark? Not keen on getting nickel-and-dimed by a blue-shirted shylock? Bum from your pals, swap games net-wise or go bananas in the demo department! These barons of entertainment need to buzz for their honey the same as you and me, so do your aching wallet a favor and check the water before you strap on your cement shoes.

Been there, done that, and still can’t afford the ginchiest new title? Buck up, Chuck, cause I can cure what ails ya!

Times are tough and games don’t come cheap, not for you or the next guy. Waiting for Christmas to give your game library a shot to the keister might grease your gears, but anybody who just looks out for number one is itching for some chin music! Why not earn all that good will and put your collection to work with your own gaming charity? Run a marathon that’ll make Desert Bus look like a trip for biscuits, and St. Nicholas will throw on his glad rags to stuff your stocking!

What do custom rules and moonshine prove? That homebrew means a humdinger of a time! Change the name of the game and you’ll be fedora-deep in replay value. Do our troops proud and fill the Kaiser’s squareheads with daylight using only a bayonet! Speed run your way from “sorry as a slug” to “swift as a swinger”! Using your noggin is just the ticket out of the used game gallows.

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“Tell it to Sweeney!” you say? Don’t make tracks just yet! I can tell you aren’t the type to abide any flim-flam, and that suits me swell. Just to prove it, I’ll show you what the fat cats in those silicon slums don’t want you to know!

For starters, your consoles are packed with more wonder than your white bread. Sure, CEO so-and-so will give you the razzle-dazzle – megapixels, gigawatts, the kitchen sink. It’s a Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings, but you’re the turkey. Why? All that zip under the hood and it boils down to smacking a button. Real flashy and enough to make a cute tomato go gaga for graphics, but the real scoop is the features that aren’t on the box!

What we have here is Joe Schmoe’s 360, a miracle of science and how General Electric is duping you into putting its kids through college. The only thing hotter than its games is its CPU. So what are you going to do when your modern marvel catches the old Scarlet Cyclops? If you’re half as broke as I am, nothing! The man at Microsoft wants to spin you two ways from Tuesday with the Warrantee Shuffle when you haven’t lost a system, but gained a real sockdolager of a heater!

Imagine: You stumble back from a rough day at the docks ready to relax with a good meal when you discover the gas company has put the kibosh on your heat. No worries! Just pull out a can of pork and beans and presto-power-supply, hot grub! Your own spa, dryer, iron, curler – it’s a veritable slice of high-living pie for the missus. Hire me and your 360 will make a Swiss Army Knife look like a one-trick pony!

Perhaps instead you’ve pegged the PS3 as your gizmo of choice, and who wouldn’t? (Anyone whose budget chimes in under 300 clams, for one!) Still, maybe you landed this smooth machine back in aught six when you were riding the gravy train all the way to Park Place. Too bad the engineer, monocled mook that he is, pocketed your $200 and never told you next stop was Mediterranean Avenue.

However the dice got you there, having Sony’s latest and greatest puts you a yard up. Find out why this mechanical monolith’s “wireless” isn’t just a load of booshwash by cooking up your own ham radio! Savvy wiseheads looking to listen in on the ether without ponying up for a knobby new Silvertone just need a little gumption and a screwdriver. A few adjustments and I’ll have you making friends around the world without writing another check to those internet Capones ever again!

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Say the Wii is your cat’s pajamas. Sure, it doesn’t hit on all sixes in the picture department, but it still keeps pace with all the other bangtails at the track. It also needs an arsenal of thingamajigs and whoozits so huge it’ll make the feds nervous you’re gearing up for a heist. The good word for you, slick, is that I know my onions when it comes to milking this tiny white cow from every add-on udder.

Take the balance board. Everything was ducky when you were well-fed and plenty rugged, but the breadline diet has you playing records with your cheekbones. What’s to weigh? Two words: scrap metal. While every other bozo is getting scammed by some government grifter with a slippery scale, let the g-man know you mean business – and how!

Even if Big Electric catches wind of your little hootenanny and throws the switch, I have enough innovation to make anything with “waggle” look more tired than a Model T on its last drops, power be damned! Take your controllers: no juice, no use. Right? Wrong! Those long cords might muck up your den, but with a minute and some moxie, zammo! Hang your duds on your keen new clothesline, doubly handy when your power is kaput. Put away your old rinky-dink jumprope and say hello to jumpcord, the future of exertainment! Making bacon as a bindle stiff on some ranch? Give those cattle the what for with a flick of your cord-lasso. Bessie won’t know what hit her!

Look – I’m gonna be on the square. You can bump gums on the so-called “state of the economy.” You can listen wide-eyed while Big Business gives you the heebie-jeebies, feeding you lines about trading all your hard-earned cabbage for the next modern amenity to dig you another foot deeper into debt. But where I come from, we have a saying: “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.” And for a meager fee I’ll set you so wise that the only bailout you’ll need is when your Xbox-chassis yacht springs a leak, and them’s the facts!

Brett Staebell will jive at your local speakeasy or wingding for a good sandwich and a flask of rotgut, no foolin’!

A Penny Saved Is a Dollar Spent

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