Cold Weather Junk Round-Up

As I've tended to do for the past few years, I've mostly taken a winter hiatus from regular updates to this site. That said, my junk shopping habits and collection of pop culture treasures have continued. Here's a rundown of some of the random things I've picked up over the past several months.

. . .

One of my many trips to Goodwill over the winter months turned up this boxed Speak & Spell -- fully functional with the original instructions.


It's been fun to see my kids play with an archaic toy I remember being state of the art when I was their age. I have plans for the summer of hooking this up to a record player and an umbrella to contact E.T.

. . .

After three years of waiting, hip-hop pioneer Michael Holman finally came through with his promised rewards to those of us who backed the Kickstarter project which was to produce a documentary about his legendary one-episode of Graffiti Rock.


Well, he sort of came through. The documentary never happened and what he sent was a DVD version of the lone episode of Graffiti Rock with a decent amount of early hip-hop extra features included. Not quite the project I backed, but after three years I'll take what I can get.

He also included a signed poster. And by signed poster, I mean a large photo copied picture that looks like it was run off on the Xerox machine at the local library.

Again, I'll take what I can get, I suppose.


. . .

Another movie acquisition this winter was The Summer of Sam -- one of the few Spike Lee Joints I was missing and mentioned here because it's the title inspiration for my annual blogfest you've come to know as The Summer of Tim.

2K17 coming soon, by the way.


. . .

At any given time, I've got a list in my head of about a dozen items I'm looking for but only if I can find them for cheap. This winter, I was able to mark one of these items off that list -- a two-sided 1977 Redd Foxx doll.

 

You big dummy.

. . .

A guy I work with clued me in to a web site that sells quality jerseys -- stitched and able to be fully customized -- for crazy low prices. Considering the fact that I have no self control, I've ordered seven so far.

Two throwback Cubs jerseys with a nod to Ryno.


A throwback Eagles jersey -- Randall Cunningham, of course.


I had a simpler version of this jersey that I wore a ton in high school.


A traditional pin stripe Cubs jersey -- reigning NL MVP, Kris Bryant.


Or as my wife calls him, "that guy with the pretty eyes."


Considering the price, I couldn't resist picking up a Fresh Prince jersey.


Same goes for the Teen Wolf jersey.


And, of course, John Starks is on the way.

. . .

A few weeks ago, an old friend of mine stopped by and dropped off a huge box of LPs that he was looking to get rid of. Although we'd reconnected and kept in touch through social media, I hadn't seen Jeff in person in almost 25 years! It was great to get these records from Jeff, but even better to catch up with an old pal.


The box is mostly filled with random promo records and stuff you'd find in a dollar bin at your local flea market. But the key word here is RANDOM. I pulled out a small handful of albums that I want for my personal collection which leaves me a huge amount to sift through and check out this coming summer.

. . .

I've grabbed a handful of CDs over the winter -- both new and used.


The big score -- for me at least -- came last month when I stopped by the library sale where they sell used CDs for a buck. Someone had clearly cleaned out their folk/Americana collection and I walked out with 20-30 CDs that I either wanted for myself or I knew I could resell for a worthwhile profit.

The best of the lot were three Hayes Carll albums -- two of which I did not own physical copies of and one I only had on vinyl.


The two on the left have been on my Amazon wishlist for a couple of years and I've just held off on buying them. It's hard to drop 15 bucks on a CD -- especially when it's something I have an mp3 copy of already. For a buck each, I think my wait was worth it.

The album on the right is one of my favorites -- the one I already had on vinyl. Every time I put on Trouble in Mind, I'm immediately taken back to a sunny afternoon in Florida -- June of 2010 -- when I spent a few hours listening to this album. My feet propped up on a balcony railing and several glasses of something loaded with rum.

Bliss.

Speaking of booze -- I'm still on the wagon and going strong. Almost ten weeks now. As I've mentioned before, I didn't necessarily stop drinking for any particular reason, but I'm honestly feeling better than I've felt in years.

But I digress.

. . .

Speaking of music, my e-pal Derek Zanetti (aka The Homeless Gospel Choir) recently dropped a limited cassette release -- thirty minutes of clips, chatter, experimentation, and fun.


My understanding is that there are more of these tapes to come. Count me in for every last one of them.

. . .

My brother came to visit for the day several weeks ago and brought with him the Voltron blue lion that I bought on clearance as a kid.


He also gave me his old Wade Boggs Starting Line-Up figures.


. . .

Around Christmastime, my friend Jon told me he had picked up a collection of Masters of the Universe figures and an extra action figure was included that he felt needed to be added to my collection -- a 1983 Galoob B.A. Baracus! I had one of these when I was a kid and have been looking for one for quite some time -- just haven't been able to find one at the right price.


This went nicely with one of the Christmas gifts I received from my wife.


One of the other cool gifts my wife gave me was the Atari Flashback console. Although I'm disappointed to say that this system is pretty cheaply made (flimsy wireless controllers which have to be used within inches of the console to be picked up), it's fun to watch my kids play Maze Craze -- a game in the regular rotation at my house in the early 80s.


My dad, though, took the prize for best thing given to me over the holiday season when he came up with a stack of unused Pizza Man cups! I won't go into the details of why I wanted these cups so badly -- I've talked about that before. But this was huge!


. . .

After talking about the Atari system, I should mention that my pal Wayne hooked me up with a game for my original 2600 that I didn't have -- the classic Sneak 'n Peek.


I remember when I first played this game as a kid. A local video store -- C&M Video -- was selling off their stock of Atari game rentals and my family got to the sale in time to grab a few games at a cheap price -- including Sneak 'n Peek. We didn't get more than a few games that day though. My friends' mom got there first and bought all of the good stuff.

Thanks for nothing, Donohos. :)

. . .

My collection of Fisher Price Sesame Street Little People is almost complete. I picked up the Herry figure earlier this spring after making a lowball offer to an eBay seller which he surprisingly accepted.


That leaves me only needing six more pieces to complete the set -- Prairie Dawn, Grover, Snuffy, Sherlock Hemlock, a chair, and a couch.

. . .

I was walking through Goodwill one day and a grab bag in the toy section jumped out at me. Toys, in general, at my local Goodwill stores are rare as they've mostly stopped accepting anything other than games and larger items. But on this particular day I found a bag with a few recognizable faces peeking out from underneath some cheap Happy Meal toys.


. . .

A few times before, I've mentioned my friend Brian who serves at tour manager to Todd Snider as well as the Hard Working Americans. Brian hooked me up earlier this year with a ton of Todd and HWA stuff that I didn't have yet.


If you've not heard me say it before, hear me now. Get yourself a copy of Rest in Chaos -- one of my favorite albums from the past few years. I'm hearing that a new live HWA album is coming soon, as well...

. . .

My wife and I finally decided to bite the bullet and upgrade our iPhones -- both of us still operating on our small 5S models. Target was running a promotion where an upgrade would come with a $300 gift card with each phone. We both wound up with a new iPhone 7 and a total of 600 bucks to spend at Target.


While we would have loved to waste the gift cards on a new TV or something less necessary, we did use them responsibly. Since we weren't allowed to turn around and use the $600 gift cards on the phones themselves, we reworked our household budget to where we'd spend money from our grocery budget on the phones and then buy our groceries at Target this month using the gift cards.

Pretty sneaky, sis.

Speaking of unnecessary iProducts, I decided to take my phone upgrade one step further. My wife and I operate on a pretty detailed budget which includes a set amount each month for our own "personal spending." This "allowance" might be used on anything from a new pair of shoes or a trip to the junk store. Since much of what I buy for myself is used and super cheap, I've managed to accumulate a decent amount of money over the past several months. I've been trying to think of something significant that I could buy myself that would actually be useful.

I needed a chainsaw but already bought one last fall.

I needed an extension ladder but my in-laws gave me one for Christmas.

Waiting in line at Target for my new phone to be activated, the thought entered my mind as I gazed around the electronics section. There, staring me in the face from inside the locked case, was the Apple Watch.

I'd been wearing the same Timex Iron Man watch since high school and, despite having to replace the band every few years, it still works just fine. Still, I couldn't quite pull the trigger on an upgrade.

That lasted about 18 hours because the next day, I took an early lunch, went to Target, and bought myself an Apple Watch.


Not doing too well on my fitness goals today, huh?

So was this a necessary purchase? Of course not.

Do I often spend more than a few bucks on myself at one time? Nope.

Have I had any buyer's remorse? Not at all.

I look forward to the day when I get a remote starter for my car that I can control with a voice command spoken into my watch. You know exactly what I'm thinking, right?


I've found that an Apple Watch comes with many benefits -- some which will offer opportunities for self-improvement and others which are just fun.

Just say the word. I'll call you when I'm in the shower sometime.

. . .

Among all of this has been a bunch of other random junk I've picked up on the cheap at various times throughout the winter months -- books, toys and games for the kids, a skeleton model...


Rest assured that my constant quest for treasures will continue as the Summer of Tim is just around the corner.

Berm, Baby, Berm

There's a reason that I tell the kids to stay out of the berm at the back of our property. As I understand it, the previous owners of this house used a Bobcat to clear what was then a completely overgrown back yard. This created a mound along the back of the property separating it from the church parking lot on the other side. I also believe that the owners before them used their overgrown yard as a massive trash can resulting in some interesting (and potentially dangerous) items eventually being plowed into this section at the back of the yard.

This weekend I decided to get a jump start on one of my summer projects -- cleaning out the berm.

After six hours of digging, cutting, mowing, hauling, and burning...

...I'm only half-finished.


You can see the fully-grown area I'm talking about at the back of this picture from last summer...


... and here's what I was facing yesterday. A little more manageable for now while the spring growth hasn't filled in.

 

So what amazing "treasures" awaited me in the berm?

Among the overgrowth, rotted stumps, and fallen limbs, there was broken glass, a pen, a few old fence posts, chunks of concrete...

 

...and about half a bucket of nails and screws (thankfully located in one spot that was once clearly used as a burn pile).


How about a wad of green yarn? I thought it was a mop head at first. Then I thought maybe it was a piece of carpet. Pulling it out of its dirt encasement, I realized it's just a big nasty wad of old yarn.

 

But my kids took the prize for coolest treasure discovered in the yard so far when they unearthed a 1978 Star Wars Hammerhead figure next to a tree.

 

Who knows what other "treasures" are out there waiting to be found? Maybe something of incalculable value...

...but probably just more trash.

. . .

On a side note, who can explain this to me? Throughout the spring, I find small twigs in the ground like this...


I can understand how a large stick or branch can fall from a tree and impale itself in the ground like this...but a tiny twig? I need somebody smart to explain to me how this happens.

The Proverbial Wagon

"I'll quit drinking for the reason that I started drinking. When it makes me feel better than I already do." - Hard Working Americans, 'Ascending Into Madness'

. . .

The good news?

My friend from college, Craig, hooked me up with some Sweep the Leg beer from the Texas-based Infamous Brewing Company. Craig is a Duke basketball fan but this act of awesome allows me to look past that unfortunate fact.


The bad news?

About six weeks ago I decided to cap the bottle and take a ride on the proverbial wagon. Not for good, I'm sure, and not for any reason in particular. No health concerns. Nothing religious. Just decided that I was tired of it -- wasting money, empty calories, blah blah blah.

Quite honestly, I feel better than I have in years.

But now I have this super cool Cobra Kai beer, one of which will definitely find itself shelved with my Yeastie Boys bottle. The rest I'll keep on hand. If there's any left the next time you're at my house, you're welcome to try a bottle of Sweep the Leg peanut butter stout.

And then I'll crane kick you in the face.

Hug First, Hug Hard, Show Mercy

I swear I write about more on this site than just The Karate Kid...but last week's episode of The Goldbergs was a tribute to the greatest movie ever made and, of course, I'm gonna break it down.


From the start, let me give a big thanks to those who made the extra effort to be sure I didn't miss The Goldbergs last week. My Karate Kid problem is clearly no secret.


Despite the fact that this episode was obviously made just for me, I didn't get to see it the night it aired thanks to a heavy storm that took out our cable the night before. But this is 2017. We have the internet. This was no problem that two bucks and a visit to YouTube couldn't remedy in a hurry!

Let's get the obvious stuff from the episode out of the way first -- the use of Peter Cetera's Glory of Love and Joe Esposito's You're the Best, the humorous play on manual labor used to teach karate technique, and the gis worn by Adam and Adam which were clearly modeled after the style of Daniel's and Johnny's.

Sure, the PE teacher wore a referee shirt just like the ones in the movie and the tournament board was a perfect replica of the original...


Of course, somebody was going to yell about getting a body bag...


...and, the episode obviously culminated with a crane kick. A double crane kick, actually...


But let's look closely and appreciate the finer details here. Those that likely went unnoticed by the untrained eye.

. . .

First is an easy one...the design on the tournament mat. The Goldbergs version in the shape of a fist...


...clearly modeled after the original All-Valley tournament logo.


. . .

When Barry is instructed by his mother to sweep the leg of his younger brother, he expresses his worry that he'll be disqualified from the tournament...


...just like Bobby did in the movie.


. . .

With his leg properly swept, Adam is taken to a classroom where his injury can be further evaluated. The scene opens with a high shot over the room...


...much like when Daniel's swept leg was being checked in the locker room.


. . .

Uncle Marvin rubs his hands together and Adam can hardly contain his excitement when he thinks that's his leg is about to be magically healed. Not so much, though.


He's no Miyagi.


. . .

As it turns out, Adam's leg injury isn't serious and he's able to fight in the next round. Beverly is happy to inform the tournament official...


...just like Ali. With an "i."


. . .

Much to everyone's surprise, "Adam Goldberg is gonna fight!"


This seems very familiar.


. . .

Adam takes a "punch" to the head but assures the referee that he's okay...


...just like Daniel after he took one to the melon in the movie.


. . .

Adam Goldberg drops a mean elbow on the injured leg of Adam F. Goldberg...


...perfectly mirroring Johnny Lawrence who nearly put Daniel LaRusso away with a similar move.


. . .

Ultimately winning...sort of....Adam is carried off the mat by his fans.


So was Daniel.


. . .

Approving of his hard work and victory, Uncle Marvin gives Adam a reassuring nod...


...wearing an outfit almost identical to Mr. Miyagi's when he did the same for Daniel.


. . .

But the real gem of this episode came during the closing credits when the Goldbergs visit a "real dojo" where they are greeted by a familiar face.


As you can see, Sensei Kreese seems to have softened with age.


No longer is he preaching no mercy and the absence of fear, pain, and defeat.


Show mercy.