The Do-Over

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen me suggest a do-over in some sports related tweets. Maybe even as recently as yesterday when the Knicks took a Game 1 beating.

While this suggestion is certainly tongue-in-cheek, I stand by the theory that I've had for years that all sports would be much more interesting if each team was allowed one do-over per game. It would work much like challenging a call in football -- a manager/coach has one do-over flag to throw per game and he/she can throw it at any time on any call or any play.

Sure this sounds ridiculous, but think about it for a second.

How many of Barry Bonds' somewhat suspect "record-breaking" homeruns could have been called back by a carefully planned do-over? Successfull Hail Mary passes...walk-off homeruns...last second jumpshots...all could be wiped away with the do-over.

Now don't get smart. Of course, the opposing team could not counter a do-over with a do-over essentially undoing the do-over. And, no, a do-over could not be used on an entire game...just on one play or call.

Play this situation out in your mind. The manager of your favorite baseball team comes out to argue a close play. He's about to get tossed when suddenly he reaches into his back pocket and throws the flag. Do-over. Arguement over. Everyone goes back to where they started and the play is done again.

How awesome would that be?!?

The possibilities here are endless. Really, I know it sounds crazy. But what if there was a little (more) playground logic in professional sports? Think of how single games, full seasons, and championship victories could have played out differently.

Grant Hill to Christian Laettner for the game winning J? Do-over.

David Freese off the right field wall to tie Game 6? Do-over.

Fan interference at Wrigley Field with the Cubs five outs away from the World Series? Do-over!!!! For the love of all that is good and holy....DO-OVER!

In the future, when sports adopt the can say you heard it here first.

An 80's Kevin Arnold

Dial up the year you turned 12, and revisit the last official year of your "childhood."

1988 was a year of transition. While I continued to hold on to many of the things I'd come to love as a kid, adolescence was knocking loudly at my door. My brother was in high school and started dating. He'd hole up in his bedroom and listen to Def Leppard -- less interested than ever in the likes of a sixth grader.

Me, on the other hand? I took no offense. He could have his hair bands and talk on the phone with girls all night long. I was perfectly happy lip syncing in the mirror to my Parents Just Don't Understand record and continuing my dominance of Nerf basketball.

You have to remember, these were the glory days of the NBA dunk contest. As far as we were concerned, my friends and I were no less talented than Jordan and Dominique -- except, of course, we were dunking on the Nerf hoop in my bedroom.

So at a time when I was content to wear my California Raisins shirt, read Garfield books, and hang on to being a kid for just a little bit longer, it happened.

I got a girlfriend.

And I'm not talking about any of that baby stuff from 5th grade. This was an honest-to-god, make-my-heart-beat-fast, hold-hands-at-the-movie-theater type girlfriend! She moved in to our school from far away -- a transfer having something to do with her dad's job. It took a couple of months, but by November of my 6th grade year, we were "going together." She was officially my girlfriend.

We would talk on the phone for as long as our parents would allow it. I'd often find myself closed inside the coat closet for privacy, stretching the phone cord to its max. I always liked calling my girlfriend's house because they had this cool new thing known as "call waiting" and I was always guaranteed to get through.

We'd meet at the movies or listen to records. To this day, I still think of those times when I hear certain songs -- anything off the Dirty Dancing soundtrack and (believe it or not) Honestly by Stryper. This was the soundtrack to my first love. One time she even had a small party at her house where we all paired up into our sixth-grade couples and watched Dirty Dancing. (Truth? It wasn't until several years later that I realized why Baby had to get her father to help Penny. I thought she was just sick.)

My girlfriend taught me to make grilled peanut butter sandwiches -- essentially grilled cheese with peanut butter instead of a Kraft single. I just had one last week.

Christmas time rolled around and I got her a present. I don't remember what it was but I'm sure it was something that my sixth grade mind considered to be ultra-romantic.

She bought me a shirt.


A gray polo shirt.


A few months later, our romance fizzled and my first girlfriend was no more. Sure it was just five months or so, but in kid time that's an eternity. I don't remember who broke up with who, but I was prepared.

You see, just as I started to notice girls, so did Kevin Arnold.

Since January of that year, I had been watching similar situations play out on a new show called the Wonder Years and I could relate.

Kevin was twelve. I was (almost) twelve.

Kevin was confused by all of the things that confuse 12-year-olds. So was I.

Kevin was a kid on the cusp of becoming a...well...older kid. Me, too.

I turned twelve that summer. Other girlfriends came and went but thanks to Kevin Arnold, I knew I wasn't alone.

Ah. 1988.

I think I'll go make a grilled peanut butter sandwich and listen to She's Like the Wind.

Take some time to check out some posts shared by other contributors to the League of Extraordinary Bloggers:

Go back to 1982 on Lefty Limbo and AEIOU and Sometimes Why...1985 on Memories of Tomorrow...and 1989 on Branded in the 80s.

Basement Junk #002

Record Store Day 2012

To me, the best holidays of the year are Christmas, my birthday, and Record Store Day. Christmas, because I just love the season. My birthday, because it's one day a year when I can get away with doing absolutely anything I want to. Record Store Day, because it's the day when idiots like myself who love "stuff" come out of the woodwork to celebrate the local record store.

My plan for this year's Record Store Day was the same as last year -- get to the store just as the doors have opened in hopes of slipping in, grabbing what I want, and getting out. This year though, I learned via Twitter that a line was already forming outside my local store an hour before the doors were to open. A quick shower and a five minute drive later, I was in line outside the store -- maybe twenty people back.

Before going any further, I need to point out two things:

1. Almost everyone in line (including myself) looked the same: male, slightly to completely unshaven face, sporting a hoodie of some sort, and having little interest in conversation with others in line.

2. I hate crowds. Widespread crowds I can handle, but large crowds in small spaces are far from my favorite thing.

The doors opened and in we went. A large crowd into a small space.

Moving along at a snail's pace, I was able to find the three things on my shopping list -- seven inch releases from Justin Townes Earle, the Black Angels, and Carolina Chocolate Drops. After paying and grabbing a pretty good load of free stuff, I was back to my car within twenty minutes of the store opening (more than I can say for my brother's two-hour experience in St. Louis).

So was it worth it?

Justin Townes Earle - Nothing's Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now / Sneaky Feelings
Justin is probably still my favorite artist of the past few years. Bought this, of course, for the B-side cover of Elvis Costello. Awesome. Just awesome.

Black Angels - Watch Out Boy / I'd Rather Be Lonely
Their style has changed somewhat over the past year or so. Not quite the music to listen to while "having sex at a funeral" (as I once heard it described), but still worth the purchase. Cool orange vinyl, too.

You Be Illin' - Performed by Carolina Chocolate Drops / Run DMC
Original Run DMC version? Always a classic. The Carolina Chocolate Drops cover? A giant piece of crap that sounds like it was thrown together in about the time it took to record it. You can currently find my copy on eBay.

Hockey! Hockey! Hockey!

Right off the bat, let me say this -- I'm a sports fan. While I follow some more than others, I have an appreciation for all sports. But this morning I clicked on a link to an article about an ejection that took place during last night's Blackhawks/Coyotes playoff game and it hit is only about one step removed from an episode of Jerry Springer.

Hockey fans, before you attack, let me say that I have no qualms with the game itself. But the fighting? C'mon.

Much like sitting in on a taping of Jerry Springer, when people go to a hockey match, I guarantee they leave disappointed if they don't see a fight. But when the gloves come off...that's what it's all about!

Watch this clip from last night:

When the fight begins, one of the commentators is heard saying "here we go" as though he's been waiting all night for this. With that as a lead-in, as I watched this clip it occurred to me...this is just odd.

Where else in sports is this okay and not dealt with immediately? Even football, where players wear as much (if not more) protective gear as in hockey, fighting is not tolerated.

Now don't get me wrong. This post has nothing to do with violence or me trying to suggest that fighting in hockey is not okay. I just think it may be a bit...well...orchestrated.

The only thing missing here are a few thrown chairs and the chant: "Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!"

Basement Junk Thursday #001

Some blogs I read have specific topics featured once a week on a particular day. For example, Unpunched celebrates "E.T. Thursday" with a picture and maybe a short post related to E.T. Over at Lair of the Dork Horde, something similar is done as they mark their weekly "Vintage Star Wars Thursday."

Last night on Twitter, someone I follow shared ten things in his basement and I had an idea.

Welcome to the first installment of FASTE's "Junk in My Basement Thursday."

It appears that I have inadvertently stolen the idea of a weekly feature from Guy. Definitely didn't see this part of the Twitter conversation...

Either way, Guy is super cool and since this was his idea, this will be the only Basement Junk Thursday on FASTE...I'll be moving to Wednesdays with Guy. Stay tuned for Basement Junk Wednesday!

Listening to My Childhood

To go along with this week’s assignment from the League of Extraordinary Bloggers, I have given myself an assignment of my own – I will not write about Mister Rogers.

This week’s League topic:

What is the one item in your collection you would save if your house was being swallowed by a sink hole, carried off in a tornado, and then swept away in a flood.

Truth be told, the first thing that popped in my mind after reading this topic was the letter I received from Mister Rogers which hangs among all sorts of other treasures on my wall…but I’m not writing about Mister Rogers.

Besides, when it comes down to it, that’s just a piece of paper sent from a guy I never actually met. Although cool, it’s not really something I couldn’t live without.

The one irreplaceable item in my home (aside from my family, of course) is a single disc. Luckily, on other discs nearby are backed-up copies of 40 years worth of family photos which I'd rescue at the same time, but this one particular disc is dedicated to something I consider to be just as valuable.

I’ve mentioned before that my brother and I had a tape recorder when we were kids and we ran that thing constantly. We recorded everything from ourselves playing Atari to hours upon hours of television and radio broadcasts. A few summers ago, I spent about a week digitizing these cassette tapes and detailing the contents of each one along the way. The digital copies of these tapes are all stored on this disc. Having the ability to go back and look at pictures of my childhood is one thing, but to be able to actually hear some of those times is another. Just as there is no way to replace photographs, there is no way to replace these recordings.

With that in mind, indulge me if you will and I'll share a handful of the countless pop-culture-ish clips from the hours upon hours of these tapes (you'll want to give your speakers a little extra volume).
  • The title of this blog and its URL actually come from these tapes. The first tape my brother and I ever recorded we called "Matt and Tim Funny" -- hence the URL. The title -- Flashlights Are Something To Eat -- also comes from this same tape.
We loved to record commercials. We'd prop the recorder up next to the speaker coming from the front of the cabinet-style TV and hit record. Some highlights...
Of course, recording commercials also meant recording TV shows.
Living outside the reach of cable television, we spent a lot of time watching KPLR out of St. Louis.
Then there's the radio. How could we have recorded the TV and not the radio, too? In fact, I would estimate that probably half of the tapes we recorded were afternoon and evening pop radio broadcasts. Among the countless hours of music we recorded, we managed to catch a few gems.
Then there was Atari. Boy oh boy, did we love our Atari!
Quite often though, we recorded ourselves actually playing Atari.
But most important were the times that we recorded ourselves just playing. Not playing Atari but just playing.
  • As you can tell from this clip, my brother and I didn't always get along perfectly.
But in the times that we did, we put our creativity to good use.
  • Here's a clip from an interview my brother did with Knight Rider's KITT (cleverly using a sound clip from NBC's Laugh Busters)
  • And another with the X-Men's Wolverine (played by yours truly). Please be kind. I have no idea if Wolverine was ever in Omega Flight (or what Omega Flight even is for that matter). I was a baseball card kid.
But one of my favorite clips on all of these tapes is an hour-long segment of several of the kids in my neighborhood just playing in the backyard. My brother must have popped some batteries in the recorder and just let it run. This clip from that particular tape made me smile as my brother and a friend one-up each other on who stayed up later the night before. He also shares the reason why he didn't watch Knight Rider last night.

So take my letter from Mister Rogers. Take my music, my books, and all of the other junk I've collected over the years.

Just save the tapes.


As I’ve said before, it’s amazing how quickly a blog can take a back seat to real life. Between work, family, and other commitments, I’ve lately found myself writing for FASTE maybe once a week – and that’s usually a contribution to the League. So here are some neglected topics from the past few weeks that deserve a mention.

1. Rumor has it that Adam Sandler is planning a remake of the 80’s classic Summer School. It seems that anything Adam Sandler touches is doomed to mediocrity at best, so I’m crossing my fingers that this really is just a rumor.

2. I finally joined the modern world and invested in an iPhone. Now I can constantly tell people what I’m eating and what I’m watching on TV. Or not. That being said, I did share (via Twitter) a shot of an appetizer that I scarfed down last weekend – beer battered bacon.

Sounds awesome but really, it just tasted like an expensive corndog.

3. The same night I discovered beer battered bacon, my wife and I headed to the John Prine show down the street. Honestly? Not so good. I’ve been a huge fan of John Prine for a long time and have heard many of his live performances. This one though, left plenty to be desired. His voice just didn’t seem strong and his songs were all slowed to an almost sleep-inducing tempo. Since I knew his songs, the show was decent but I don’t think I’ll be dropping that kind of cash to see him live again.

The openers, however, were fantastic. I help maintain the official website for Peter Cooper who, along with Eric Brace, led things off for Prine. Their opening set was marvelous as was their joining the stage for Prine’s encore.

[Photo courtesy of the John Prine Shrine]

After the show, we were able to catch up a bit with our friends Cynthia and Ernie as well as Eric and Peter – two very classy guys.

 [Photos courtesy of Cynthia and The Sandwich Life]

4. Speaking of people I do websites for, Todd Snider just put out a new album a few weeks ago and will hit us with another this coming Tuesday – a collection of Jerry Jeff Walker covers. 

I’ve heard this, folks. If you’re a fan of Todd or Jerry Jeff (although I don’t know anyone who is one and not the other), you’ll definitely want to pick this one up. You can check it out ahead of time on the Texas Monthly website.

5. The sorting process has begun for the record sale that’s held locally each year. As volunteers sort, we are allowed to set a few things aside to purchase ourselves. So far, this year’s selection seems thin as I’ve only put aside two records and two CDs – none of which I couldn’t live without.

But this Saturday is Record Store Day! We’ll see if my local store has the one release I’ll be looking for – a new 7” from Justin Townes Earle.

6. The topic of holy grails and white whales has been hot lately throughout the network of blogs that I follow. I got my hands on one of my white whales recently – an original 1980s Nerf softball. More on that sometime in the future.

7. After the kids go to bed lately, I’ve been watching old episodes of Family Ties. My wife does her best to stay interested and humor me, but typically ends up reading while I catch up with the Keatons each night. In the episode I put on last night, Alex faces off against a Russian chess whiz in a battle of U.S. vs. USSR. This quickly reminded me of a similar story from a few years later on Saved By the Bell.


I did my best to compare and contrast the two episodes in a riveting conversation with my wife. She was not impressed. Nor was she interested.

Searching for the Non-Existent?

I honestly don't mean for everything I write to somehow cross over to Mister Rogers and my other blog, the Neighborhood Archive; but this week's topic from the League of Extraordinary Bloggers, lends itself to no other topic for me.
We all collect something. What is a holy grail item you hope to find at a flea market, toy show, or comic convention? What else do you collect?
I've got collections -- Atari games, music, baseball cards, Hardy Boys books -- but nothing captures my attention these days more than finding old pieces of Mister Rogers memorabilia.



For a show that was so well-known, across the country and even worldwide, there is not nearly the amount of merchandise and memorabilia that you might expect. Sure there is a good amount, but nothing like you'd see from a kids' show these days. The lack of commercialism associated with the Neighborhood is a clear testament to Fred Rogers' focus -- he was not in it for the money, but rather for the kids.

With that in mind, the Neighborhood merchandise that was produced can often be difficult to find. Sure you can pick up some pieces simply by snooping around eBay for a few days, but not my holy grail. I'm not even sure it was ever made in the first place.

In 1977, Ideal came out with a set of three individual puppets from the Neighborhood program -- King Friday XIII, X the Owl, and Lady Elaine Fairchilde.

Around this same time, they also produced the Musical Trolley -- a plastic replica of the well-known Neighborhood Trolley that jingled the familiar Won't You Be My Neighbor tune as it was pushed along. With the Musical Trolley came two small figures -- Daniel Striped Tiger and Lady Elaine Fairchilde -- both only a few inches tall.

Over the years, finding these pieces has been relatively easy. But it's the other toy that Ideal advertised in the late 70's -- seen on the packaging of their other toys -- that has me perplexed.

The Neighborhood of Make-Believe Playset was supposedly produced by Ideal at this same time. It consisted of a carrying-case style set that opened up to create the entire Neighborhood of Make-Believe from castle to clock. Included among the accessories with this set were five more figures -- King Friday, Queen Sara, Prince Tuesday, X the Owl, and Henrietta Pussycat.

After years of searching, the only evidence of this set's existence that I've found has been the pictures found on the puppet and Trolley packages as well as the actual figures that would have been included with the playset.

So for crying out loud...where is this set?!?
While theories I've heard have ranged from the logical (planned but never produced) to the bizarre (gunman shot up the Ideal factory forcing the company out of business before this set was produced), there is one theory that seems most logical. Considering the figures are out there (although very hard to find), could it be that production was halted after the figures were manufactured but before the actual structure of the set was made? In that case, the various figures were then sold in pairs with the Musical Trolley. Seems logical to me.

But there is a picture!!! On the Trolley box it's a drawing but on the puppet boxes it's an actual picture! Had the boxes only shown the drawing, I'd be satisfied with this explanation; but on the puppet boxes those are real kids playing with a real Neighborhood of Make-Believe Playset. Period. While it may have only been produced on a very small scale, this thing is out there.

Not too long ago, a reader of the Neighborhood Archive shared an awesome lead with me -- the actual patent for this playset available through Google Patents!

Although simply fascinating to see, this still does not put the set in my hands.

It's out there. I know it is.

[As always, check out for a full list of League participants]

Backyard Baseball

After a few weeks off from participating in the League of Extraordinary Bloggers, no way am I sitting out when the topic turns to baseball!
Take me out to the ball game! America’s past time has been prominently featured  in pop culture for over a century, so this week, we’re talking baseball!
Right off the bat (no pun intended), let's get in the spirit with a couple of my favorite baseball tunes.

With the topic of baseball left completely open-ended for interpretation by League bloggers, my mind began to race through the many possibilities. Maybe I'd write about the pain I feel each summer as a die-hard Chicago Cubs fan. Or maybe I'd look at some of the finer points of my childhood baseball card collection.

But the more I thought about it, one topic kept coming to mind. It's a topic I wrote about back in May of last year in one of my favorite posts here on FASTE. So rather than reinvent the wheel, let me refer you to that post where I talked about my neighborhood's favorite pastime -- backyard baseball: THE ON-DECK CIRCLE - May 10, 2011