Large but no dumb cookie.

Around the time of this past season's Super Bowl, I took a quick look at some 1985 Chicago Bears junk that I've got laying around. Besides the "punky QB known as McMahon" and Sweetness himself, that year's Bears team had one other major fan favorite -- the Fridge.

While William Perry may have been large, he was no dumb cookie. Just like his teammates, he wasn't looking for trouble. He was just there to...

...be a real American hero?!?!?

I recently had a few extra bucks to burn with no strings attached...and the promotional G.I. Joe Fridge figure was at the top of my list.

Much like the Billy Ripken card that I've mentioned on this blog multiple times before, this Fridge figure was something else from my past that, as a kid, was hard to come by....but as an adult, thanks to eBay, is quite common.

I couldn't get it when I was eleven...but I've got it in my thirties.

Thanks to the seller who even included one of the original Fridge proof of purchase tickets that was needed to get this in the first place.

For those who might be curious, the Fridge now stand proudly on a shelf between E.T. and a Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Want to learn more about the Fridge's stint with the Joes? Check out his filecard at YoJoe.com.

A sign from Cincinnati.

Is the Rewards code on the inside of my Miller High Life box trying to tell me something?


Maybe it's time for some Johnny Fever...

St. Louis nostalgia.

My family and I just returned from a short mini-vacation to St. Louis. As we settled into our hotel room, I realized that we were very near the former home of my uncle's family -- a place we visited enough times when I was younger that it was familiar. Ping-pong in the basement (that's me with the sweet haircut below), sledding down the hill in the backyard (and if I remember right, the backyard was ALL downhill) -- these are some of my memories of this place.

 
We also stopped there for a night in 1983 on our way to the Ozark Mountains and Silver Dollar City (where I got the gun that I shared in one of this blog's first posts). The photo below of me and my dad (and one of a "blurred" cousin) are from the morning we were heading that direction -- taken in the front yard of their home.

 
While my kids (and my wife) napped one afternoon, the nostalgic sucker in me had to go find this house. Thanks to an address provided to me by my cousin via Facebook and a reliable GPS, I was there in less than ten minutes.

I know. This means nothing to you as readers of this blog. But as I told my wife, stuff like this does my heart good. Nostalgia at its absolute finest. Memories of a time I was excited to be a kid. Not a time I was thinking, "Man, those houses have small yards."

On another vacation note, I was happy to find that KETC out of St. Louis is still airing episodes of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood on a regular basis -- during the middle of the day, even. Not once a week in the wee hours of the morning.

Now this may sound odd, but here's the highlight of our trip (as far as I'm concerned). Living close to St. Louis as a kid, we visited the St. Louis Zoo a handful of times. In doing so, there are a good number of snapshots from those visits like this one (from 1977) of my brother drinking out of a pretty elaborate water fountain...

...and the one below of my dad helping me drink from the same fountain...side-by-side with a shot of me and one of my daughters in the exact same spot 34 years later.

Yeah. No big deal to you, I know. But to me...a very big deal.

Always Do the Right Thing

The heat index today is expected to reach 115-120° and as I listen to the radio weather forecasts, all I can think of is Samuel L. Jackson as Mister SeƱor Love Daddy in one of Spike Lee's best Joints, Do the Right Thing:

"I have today's forcast for you: HOT!"
So I've settled in for the afternoon into my cool air-conditioned basement with Do the Right Thing on the TV and a cold glass of Miller High Life -- the High Life a tribute to Ossie Davis as the Mayor ("Where's the Miller High Life?!?!").

If you've never seen Do the Right Thing, it comes in at #2 in my list of favorite Spike Lee films (second only to Get On the Bus). Buy it, rent it, get it from Netflix. Whatever. Just watch this movie at some point in your life.

For a preview and a general summary of the plot, here's a quick video that I've shared here before.

In addition to Do the Right Thing, there's one other thing that I always think of on these ridiculously hot summer days -- the 1985 St. Louis Cardinals. Before losing the World Series to the rival Kansas City Royals in seven games, and after Axel Foley had cleaned up Beverly Hills, the Cardinals used Glen Frey's well known The Heat is On as their playoff theme.

During the mid-80s, there was no better radio station out of St. Louis to this nine-year-old than 103.3 KHTR. As you might expect, my brother and I fired up the tape recorder many times catching our favorite songs being played on KHTR. Included among those recordings were local commercials and promotions such as a 1985 spot for the Cardinals featuring their theme song.


It's hot out there so stay cool...

...and, doctor...always do the right thing.

Slim Goodbody - Healthy is Wealthy

With all due respect to the White Castle lunch and discovery of Chocolate Cap'n Crunch, my recent birthday was highlighted by the (discounted) purchase of an awesome record.

Slim Goodbody anyone?

 
The owner of the local record shop smiled as he rang up my purchase and commented that there's only a small population of people who even have any idea who Slim Goodbody is. I have to think that among that population, even fewer people are interested in buying his albums.

Never heard of Slim Goodbody? Well, I can take care of that...

Four down, one to go.

Anyone who has been reading this blog for a while knows of my fascination with Mister Rogers as well as the seemingly-nonexistent Neighborhood of Make-Believe playset from 1977. I'm happy to say that after coming up with the Queen Sara figure last week, four of the five figures from the playset are now in hand.

 
You're out there X the Owl. And I'll find you.

Top ten baseball cards...

The tree trimmers from the power company have hit our neighborhood this summer and as of 7:30 this morning, they're camped out directly in front of my living room window. Rather than spend the afternoon watching them and wondering how badly they're going to mangle the trees in my yard, I decided to spend the afternoon doing something I would have done twenty-five years ago. It's hot outside and the air condition is keeping me cool. What else would there have been to do than sort baseball cards?

With the rest of the family napping, I headed downstairs, put on some New Monkees tunes, and thumbed through the cream of the crop -- my "good cards" (back in there day, there were "commons", "good cards", and "good good cards"). Stepping back into the late 80s and setting aside any sort of thought of value (as if baseball cards are worth anything at all anymore), here are my top ten cards that are in my collection.

10. Don Mattingly - 1984 Topps


This was one of the first cards I ever owned that I remember having any knowledge that it was worth anything. Up until 1984, my only concern was getting cards and chewing the rock-hard gum found inside the wax packs. I'm guessing it was around this time that I really started getting into baseball cards and bough my first issue of Beckett's monthly magazine. For some reason, I always lump this card in the same boat as the 1983 Topps Darryl Strawberry card. I never had that card but my brother did. We probably got our first issue of Beckett's and this card became my "goldmine" and that card his.

9. Jim Palmer - 1978 Topps


I am 99% sure that this was the first card that I ever owned. Back in '78, my brother got his first few packs of baseball cards which included this card. He, at that time, was all about the gum and the cards found their way to the bottom of a dresser drawer. Fast forward a few years and I ended up with this card somehow and my ten-year hobby took off. Not sure how I got this card, but to me, this card is the initial representation of my baseball card collection.

8. Pete Rose - 1982 Topps


Baseball card collecting really took off for me in 1982. At that time, Pete Rose walked on water and everybody in my neighborhood loved the Philadelphia Phillies. A few years off their 1980 World Series championship, a Steve Carlton or Mike Schmidt card was cool, but if you had a Pete Rose, you had kid gold in my neighborhood. When I see this card, I remember at time when baseball was about the cards and not about getting pissed at the Cubs because they suck yet again.

7. Hank Sauer - 1959 Topps


I got this card in a trade with a friend whose dad actually sold baseball cards as a side job/hobby. It was probably worth nothing but it was the oldest card I had; therefore, it was one of my favorites.

6. Jose Canseco - 1986 Fleer/Donruss


Back in 1986, if there were cards to own, these were the ones! The young Canseco was the power-hitting hero of every kid with a bat in his hand. Not only that, but the Fleer card turned Eric Plunk into a household name among kids in my neighborhood.

While I think Jose Canseco has turned himself into a media side-show these days, I can't say that I don't respect him a little bit for essentially starting the whole steroid scandal in baseball. Call it betrayal, call it hypocritical -- but when people are hitting 70+ home runs in a season, there's a problem and it needed to be dealt with.

5. Ryne Sandberg - 1983 Topps/Fleer/Donruss


Before my devotion to the Cubs started at the end of 1982, Pete Rose was by far my favorite player. But once I shunned the Cardinals and their fans after winning the 1982 World Series (even at age six, I was annoyed with bandwagon fans) and became a Cubs fan once and for all, a young second baseman called Ryno became #1 in my book. To get his rookie cards from all three major brands was like winning the lottery!

4. Vince Coleman - 1985 Fleer Traded


It was in 1985 when I first learned about the "traded" sets that came out at the end of each baseball season. These small sets included cards for players who were traded during the season or who were early enough in their careers to have not had a card in that season's regular set. Living near St. Louis, Vince Coleman was that summer's standout. Every kid wanted to run as fast as Vince Coleman but no kid could find his baseball card as he was not part of that year's regular sets. When the traded sets came out and Coleman was included, this was the summer's holy grail card. I want to say I dropped five bucks on this at a card show.

3. Mark Grace - 1988 Fleer/Donruss


Mark Grace was a rookie phenom that year and his Donruss card was a good one to own -- but for some reason, Fleer cards were very hard to come by that summer. If you got your hands on the Fleer prospects card with Mark Grace, you were a man among boys. God bless my dad for talking to a guy he worked with that dealt cards on the side and coming home with one of these for me and one for my brother.

2. Billy Ripken - 1989 Fleer


You might be surprised to find that this is not my favorite card that I own. Although F*ck Face is indeed my favorite from the time period I collected in, there is one other in my collection that takes the number one spot.

1. Harvey Haddix - 1961 Post Cereal


Back in the late 80s, my grandparents remodeled the kitchen of their old family farm house for the first time in decades -- possibly for the first time ever. In doing so, this card was found underneath the kitchen sink! The thought of one of my aunts or uncles shoving this card under the sink (my dad would have been into his teenage years in the early 60s) only to be found almost thirty years later and to be a part of my collection over fifty years later, is a thought that I cannot describe. By far, this is my favorite baseball card.

There were other cards that nearly made this list -- a few that should have but didn't due to the fact that I sold them back in college when having extra money was more important than today's nostalgia (Cal Ripken's '82 Topps rookie, Ozzie Smith's '79 rookie). Here's a few more that almost made the list but didn't under one technicality or another.

Honorable Mention #1 - Jim McMahon- 1983 Topps


Even though it's not a baseball card, I got this football card in a trade with a kid from our neighborhood. Every kid wanted to be the "Punky QB" -- what kid didn't want to own his rookie card?!?

Honorable Mention #2 - Larry Bird - 1981 Topps


Even though my baseball card collecting really took off in 1982, the first few packs I bought were in the summer of 1981. It was during that summer that I must have convinced my parents to let me get one pack of basketball cards -- which happened to include Larry Legend himself.

Honorable Mention #3 - The 1985 Topps Complete Set


[Image courtesy of Lifetime Topps Project]

In 1985, at the height of my card collecting years, there couldn't have been a better year to buy the complete Topps set as it included countless gems -- Dwight Gooden, Kirby Puckett, Roger Clemens, Eric Davis, Brett Saberhagen, and Orel Hershiser rookies, not to mention the Mark McGwire USA card. It's been in and out of album pages a few times but the set is still complete, still in decent shape, and still a part of my collection.

It's strange to say, but I still miss collecting baseball cards. Today, in my mid-30s with a family, I'm not about to take up the hobby again as the two-dollars-a-pack price tag would be quick to put a major kink in our household budget. But a few times a year it feels good to pull out the old boxes of cards and re-live a time when things were more carefree.

A time when the days were longer and bedtime came way too soon.

Here's to those times.

Vinyl Cheese.

Nothing like a lazy day with some good music. I couldn't be happier with my recent (cheap) eBay purchase of the late 80s LP from Government Cheese, Three Chords, No Waiting.

As usual, I'm just as entertained by the things found inside LP jackets. This particular record was still sealed and contained the original Reptile Records merchandise order form.

A dollar for shipping and handling? My, how times have changed.