CAMBRIDGE Guests and employees were evacuated from the Charles Hotel yesterday after an unexpected Q*bert attack, the first in the Boston area since 1985. While the building appeared to escape major structural damage, much of the hotels facade was changed to a different color.
Hotel manager Bill Kaiser expressed relief that the attack resulted in no injury or loss of life. But he also relayed his frustration that the buildings architects, Boston firm Parker & Parker, had not foreseen the danger of such an assault when the building was designed.
"Its one of the four basic things that architects are supposed to consider," said an exasperated Kaiser. "Zoning laws, drainage paths, ductwork and Q*bert attacks. I mean, the way this building is designed, its a friggin Q*bert beacon."
Wildlife experts are unsurprised by the incident, saying that the occurrence of such an attack was only a matter of time.
"Q*bert is basically a creature of instinct," says Malcolm Foster, noted naturalist and narrator of the wildlife film When Q*bert Attacks. "He acts with a single, inborn objective: to score as many points as possible by changing the color of the cubes on a pyramid. In his natural habitat he is kept in check by a host of nasty characters who try to stop him. Here in Cambridge, however, Im afraid hes free to do as he pleases."
Authorities turned for help to the Stoneham Zoo, where Coily, one of the nations last remaining bouncing buck-toothed purple snakes, has been in captivity since 1987. Snake trainer Michael Kravitz has been keeping Coilys hunting instincts strong in preparation for just this eventuality.
"Hes been staying in shape by hunting other bouncing orange objects, like basketballs and orange pogo ponies," says Kravitz approvingly. "One things for sure, hes still the snake with the perilous pounce."
Indeed, five minutes after letting Coily loose on the building, the situation was defused. The visibly agitated Q*bert attempted to jump onto a flying disc but instead plummeted to the street below. "@!#%!," he said.