The Ultimate Post

One of the reasons I love to read other X-E’ers blogs is because they seem to go through the seasons of the soul I do. Case in point? Dohopoki’s long winter of discontent with his blog. Now up and running with more awesome than ever, the drought is over.

Myself, what do I add to this thing? Well, I was gone for a month on a tour of various military bases and now I’m back. I’m in between jobs, since the Large Air Organization is a part time gig. Now Thunder Punch, Tiny Claws and I are living with my mom, Sorceress. Not an ideal arrangement, as the room we’re all in is the size of a shoebox, and my old room was barely adequate for me and my crap back in adolescence. Now all my worldly goods are in storage (expensive storage!), and I’m back to eBaying for a living till I get a jobby job. Number one desire right now is my own house and space back. Blogging is nice, but only when you have time and energy to do it on your own terms. I miss XE big time since my visits there (and here) are brief. Plus nostalgia can move you to re-experience old things, but when all those things are packed, its kinda sucky. W have got to move before Halloween – I refuse to not decorate my own space for Halloween, and Christmas is a must have also. We’re also using my giant plasma in the front room, so Wii Fit is akward to use, since everyone is always watching my TV.

In short, it sucks. AND, this morning, I had a great idea of my post of ultimateness that I was gonna put up, but my baby woke me up by waahhing because she lost her paci. Yarrgh.

In other news, I’ve been hooked on the Olympics. Here’s a downside of getting old: while I enjoy watching the ladies events (diving, gymnastics), I get the feeling seeing all these babes in tiny outfits should really be er, interesting, but instead I feel how lazy and out of shape I am by watching them. When did I get so old that I get mad at people in better shape? The only person in good shape I have no malice towards now is Bill from XE, cause I know he hangs out with us too, even though he runs, etc.

So, now my main focus for the next week is going to be: Going to the LAO for another week, blogging, and then mining crap out of my storage unit to sell/give away/support my massive bills.

Lastly, I apologize that this was not the super sweet awesome post in my dream this morning.

In the comments: what do you want to read about next? XE? Old cartoons? Life changes? Storage units?

I LIIIIIVE! Or, Hobbies for Nerds.

Yes, I am still alive. I am off with the “Large Air Organization” that fights wars and stuff. I’ll be home in two weeks.

As usual, I’ve had a life changing idea. I do highly recommend the military for changing your mind about what is important in life – everytime I go train, I learn something about myself well beyond leadership. So here’s whats up this time.

My hobbies are for nerds. I know I’m a nerd (who else uses Urusei Yatsura characters from the early 80’s as an avatar?), but my website hobby boards have made me realize: man, I waste a lot of time on some stupid, stupid crap.

A couple examples:

1. The Replica Prop Forum. I used to have such admiration for the artisans who made replica movie props like lightsabers, grail diaries and Indiana Jones stuff. It was so cool! And yes, it still is. But when you get down to it, it’s people paying hundreds, if not thousands, for useless junk that looks cool. Frankly, I can’t take it anymore. I value my money and time more than this. Plus theres like a million posts a day to check up on. What a waste. I don’t want to die knowing I spent hours on this thing studying useless crap.

I know it’s gonna sound bad, but I’ve outgrown it.

2. Slashdot.

I used to tell myself I’d keep up on vital news there. Yeah, that was a lie. Pretty much it’s a waste of time.

3. Indiana Jones Forums.

Wow, did I REALLY spend that much time and money dressing up like Indiana Jones?

My hobbies are doofy I know. I’m dropping the dumber ones. I’ve got a life to live here. It’s time to get back to it. Once I get home, it’s time to ditch more useless crap, eBay some more and get down to basics.

Sometimes one realizes that you aren’t necessarily doing bad things, they’re just not as good as they could be.

80’s Time Travel Trip 1: “Sears Surplus”

OK, first caveat: This actually occurs in the early 90s, but additional features will actually occur in the 80’s.

Sadly, I can’t illustrate this article, as pictures from Sears Surplus are surprisingly hard to find. Yeah, right. Anyhow, the concept here is that once or so a month I will describe in intimate detail an event that I consider seminal in the 80’s childhood existence I led. Granted, by this point, I should have been out of toys, but considering I fetched multiple Ks on my toy collection over the past 3 years tells you about my maturity level.

Anyhow, once upon a time, Sears was SO powerful and large, that it had its OWN network of stores that would receive its own overstock – yes, Sears was so ridiculously large that, rather than sell it’s crap to Big Lots, it would blow it out themselves. Well, for those of you who missed it, Sears Surplus was usually located a few blocks from the flagship Sears store in major metropolitan areas. It was usually in a lower rent district, but close enough to drop craploads of stuff from surrounding Sears.

As you walked in the door, you were met with:

Utter chaos. It was NUTS. Stuff everywhere – I mean, it literally looked like your rich friend’s basement if he never opened any of them, or rather, opened them and shoddily rewrapped them. Now I don’t have much to tell you in the way of the other departments, cause dad gummit, I was there for toys. The background was, somehow I found out this place existed, and I conned my babysitter (yes, shuddup) into taking me via the mass transit system. So we ride over to the low rent district to check it out.

I sprint to the toy aisle(s), yes more than one – the first sign of awesomeness. This place is full of catalog returns – the stuff you always wanted to play with, but couldn’t get your hands on. Most of it was opened too, so you could really try it out. This was awesome – the only downside was, most of the stuff there was definitely one of a kind. If you found something, it’s probably the only one. Among the awesome stuff – several battleship and aircraft carrier playsets that featured micro machine clones so popular in the early 90s. This stuff was great – then I moved on to discontinued action figures and obscure toylines. Found some neat stuff there, and noted some TMNT figures. At this point, I was a little Turtle crazy (yes, I owned a Turtle comm. Yes, I thought it the coolest thing ever. Shuddup.) So nearby, imagine my surprise to see a TMNT logo sticking out from behind some crappy bubblegum machine boxes (the kind that retailed for $129 in the catalog). I got down on my knees to check the first shelf (seriously, it’s like Tuesday Morning after a hurricane in those places then), and I pulled the box out. And it kept coming. It was BIG. It was…

THE TECHNODROME! Words cannot express how freaking awesome this was. Not that the Technodrome had vanished from stores by this time, but I sure didn’t see it much. Here it was! Now, ordinarily, this would be a problem – but here’s the coolest part of Sears Surplus. Everything there hit the store at 25% off to START with. Sometimes – sometimes…CRAZY sales would occur. G2 Transformers for $1, crap like that.

Enough suspense. The price tag on the technodrome….$5.99.

Yes, a shade under 6 bucks. I could not freakin believe it. A whole PLAYSET, to use Shredder, Raphael and others with. Normally I’d snag a playset first and get the figures, but this was like the crown jewel to my collection. But wait! PANIC! Whats in my pocket??

With trembling fingers, I pull out old faithful – my trifold blue velcro wallet with little preppie ducks on it I’ve owned since 84, when it was too big for any of my pockets to hold. $5 from doing yardwork earlier. I was missing a buck! NOOOOOOO! I dragged the heavy box around with me, alternating staring at it and guarding it protectively. Eventually my babysitter came round, finished with her shopping.

“Find something there?” Rather shyly, I nodded and started to stumble through why it was so awesome. She asked in the kind way only a good babysitter can “Um, isn’t this a little expensive?” I launched into my explanation of how much I had, and how I wanted this thing soooo bad. She fetched from her purse a little over a dollar in change and handed it to me. I dutifully agreed to pay it back from my discretionary budget (ie, the loose change I dumped into the bottom of the Seward Trunk Grandmommie had bought me for Christmas a few years back.) So, with her help, we carried the box to the bus stop and jumped on, with me obsessively reading the back of the box till we got home.

Once there, I was no problem to babysit the rest of the day. Ahh the sheer joy of tearing the chunks out of the box and slowly assembling it according to the often humorous directions. At this point, sure I can describe Sears Surplus to you, but if you missed the Technodrome as a kid, there’s no hope for you now. It was amazing. In retrospect now, an awesome playset? Um. Yeah, yeah I’m gonna have to say, yes, still.  A little silly, but freakin’ awesome. I figured I’d go longer, but to be honest, I’m saving a lot back for the 1984 Birthday summary of when I went with a friend to the town’s biggest mall and arcade. That one is freaking amazing. Should Tiny Claws wake me up at 3, you’ll get it sooner rather than later.

Any good childhood bargains? I’d love to hear em – what toy made you just go over the moon that you could afford it or take it home?

The Wacky Warehouse

OK, big confession time: I was, and still am, TOTALLY obsessed by the Wacky Warehouse.

Yes, the Kool-Aid Wacky Warehouse. It all started when my Grandmommie bought me “Adventures of Kool-Aid Man” issue 4 – the grand opening of the Wacky Warehouse and Scorch (KAM’s arch enemy)’s attempts to destroy KAM’s empire. Panel after glorious panel depicting all the AWESOME interiors. In fact, I’m getting so pumped writing about it I MIGHT actually scan some for you.

It was….amazing. I SO wanted to visit this place. Oh yeah, I knew it was just a comic, but look at that commercial! That place HAD to exist somewhere. Man I wanted to go. To this day, I sit sometimes and fantasize that I will grow incredibly wealthy and that, with my ludicrous wealth, I would build an exact replica of the Warehouse. See, I can’t give Michael Jackson hell cause of Neverland (oh, sure, it’s totally a pedophile’s trap, but give me the point for a second) – if I had the dough, I’d build the Wacky Warehouse. Now during the week, it’d be just for me and my buds, but on Saturday and Sundays, I’d open it to kids (and their parents, so that Neverland thing wouldn’t happen).

Just this paragraph isn’t enough to tell you about my obsession. It continues to this day. From time to time, I check out Kool-Aid to see if they’ve brought it back. Sometimes I idly browse eBay for WW gear. Man, I miss it. Maybe I’ll dig up that old comic.

Oh, last minute plea: Anyone who has ANY issues of Kool-Aid Man comics but issue 4, I totally want to buy them. Especially if you have multiple issues. I have Paypal.

God I love Kool-Aid Man.

The “X-E” Effect

Ok, I know I promised Cherry Cola reviews. I suck, I’m sorry. Consider this executive privilege.

Here’s what I’ve been thinking about for a couple years: X-Entertainment and the blog, and Matt’s merry little band of followers, of which I am one.

From my observations. Matt posts to XE about all manner of fun childhood memories and…well, it’s hard to describe them, but the little joys of life that are private pleasures – something that each person enjoys to an unreasonable degree – a certain gum, buying hyped up new cola or chip products, or old slasher movies.

To my observation, Matt loves to write about these things, but seems at times painfully shy of publicity. Yet day after day we are allowed into his world in the most intimate way possible, as he shares his thoughts with us on what he enjoys.

What XE is, in my opinion, is like the Anti-High School. It’s a place where, due to its virtual existence and blog, all manner of folks pass through, yet only those who “get the code” stay – no overmuscled jocks to torture anyone, and in a rarity in the blog world, no hovering jerks to call everyone losers. Even those brave few who harangue Matt for more content are shouted down quickly by the loyal band, for they realize what we all do: this is a no pressure area, and it’s meant to be fun. If it’s not fun, it’s not worth doing. XE is one of the few places that is pure dedicated fun.

The “code” which must be understood in order to gain access to this world is an instinctual understanding of the interior world, the mental scape of joys which are common only to those who are a little more creative, a little differently adjusted. We all share something in common: an enjoyment of things which many would deem stupid, or unworthy of pursuit. To me, the magic is in this: we are all together because we enjoy things to a level unimaginable by the “norms”, and it is the sharing of this interior world that allows us to enjoy it even more. It is the knowledge that, at last, there are more “like us”.

To what end then, this enjoyment of life? I think those of us at XE realize something others miss: when all is said and done, growing up, getting a job and doing all the adult things is, in the final analysis, just getting back to what we were doing at 8 years old with a few more options. Go with me here: you have a house, car, ways to get places, toys and candy you want at the store, etc. It’s in essence the same thing, except now you are in charge of your destiny now. I think XE-ers realize if we’re gonna have to be Mom and Dad, we’re gonna need a few Castle Grayskulls and Kool Aid to get us through also.

C.S. Lewis had a great quote based on a section of scripture in the Bible: 1 Corinthians 13:11

“When I was a child I spoke as a child

I understood as a child I thought as a child;

but when I became a man I put away childish things.

Lewis said in commenting on these verses

Critics who treat adult as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”

XE is full of those who have realized what adulthood is: a full desire to enjoy life on their own terms, and to forever cast away the opinion of those who are working too long, too hard and enjoying too little.

That’s why I’ve visited XE longer than any other site on the net. Because, in the most cliched way possible, “they understand me.”

Existential Angst 2: Electric Boogaloo

Hey all.

Remember my post about how I’m not about owning stuff, but doing?

Yeah, still working that out. You know whats perfect to do that? Moving.

Yes, moving, scourge of the universe. At one point in time, I owned literally thousands of toys, so I’ve cut down a TON. I went through multiple months of selling like crazy on eBay. Mostly I ditched my old stuff and bought useful adult things (new laptop, TV, stereo, Dyson vacuum cleaner). Now however, I’m left with the slightly less than valuable stuff. Sure people would line up to bid on Commander Courage from Spiral Zone, but who wants my old Robotech comics? Too old and worth something to just toss em out. So, I’ve put stuff too valuable to goodwill up on eBay. If I make ANY money at all, it’s worth it, so that’s cool.

Now all this you’ve heard before from tons of people. But here’s where it’s getting annoying.

I own tons of stuff that is worth money, is useful, but that I will NEVER use. I own an antique silver swiss made stopwatch. Beautiful stopwatch – worth money. But what do I EVER time with a stopwatch? I’ve also got a (fascinating) book on the rise and fall of the British empire. Now I love British Colonialism as a time period, but will I ever read it past a few pages?

Well, to cut it short, here’s the deal: I apparently own a lot of stuff to impress other people. What I own is fancy and impressive. Looking at my bookshelves, you might be impressed. You’d see my silver plated finery and say “Wow, you are one sophisticated dude” (or not, I’m working on a point, not being conceited).

I’m not. That’s the problem – I realize now all this crap is to impress others and frankly, it’s just a lot of trouble to keep this crap knocking around here and boxing it up to move it somewhere where no one uses it still. So I’m hoping the eBay thing works out. I need money. Now you might have seen me talk a lot about how much I spent. That’s why I need money! We’re not in debt (other than student loans and car loan). But we’re moving, which is expensive, and we’re gonna be in between jobs for a bit anyway. So I can’t just give this stuff away.

I’ve been giving things away that ARE worth something, but mostly to friends who would appreciate it. But most of my friends aren’t nerds or snobs, so there’s a limited market for this stuff.

I think if we (particularly me) would get honest with ourselves about what we own and WHY, we’d live easier lives. I’m having to trim down my crap I never use because if I don’t, I gotta lug it all somewhere new where it won’t do anything. It’s time to admit that the silver teapot might not be who I am, and that the repro Skeletor figure is more fun to have on a shelf.

Balance. That’s the key. And getting rid of a whole lot of $h1t.

OK, fun post next time I promise. Maybe tomorrow I’ll blog on my love of Cherry flavored colas. Ooh, and gum. Cola flavored gum is awesome too. Mmm.

I have rediscovered my love for Star Wars.

In recent years, I have LOATHED Star Wars. Crappy CGI, prequels that disappointed, 8 billion characters all of which beat the imagination out of you with their crappy Decipher fueled origins. But no longer.

What triggered this change of heart to appreciating “my” Star Wars again?

When the originals came out in the limited editions in 2006 (aka the Special Editions plus the laserdisc transfers that are the un-jacked up ones), I said “No more George Lucas, you jerk!” and that was that. However I have recently had a child. I was looking at my Star Wars DVDs and have decided to eBay them. I don’t want her tiny eyes assaulted by truly fecal CGI. Plus, models just look more “real”. Anyhow, I heard how crappy the transfers were, how they had thick black bars on em, how the surround sound was 2.0…bitch bitch bitch.

So I finally picked up Return of the Jedi at the comic shop, which was the only one widescreen and used. Trade meant it cost me a buck, and that included a back of Japanese bubblegum. So I pop it in to see how bad the transfer is, and to rip it apart if need be from my crotchety old fan perspective.

OH MY GOODNESS. As I watched, I realized: THIS is why I love Star Wars! This is MY Star Wars! Not crappy musical numbers, not lame CGI characters or an overdeveloped Boba Fett! The REAL DEAL! I can’t describe to you what a wave of relief it was to see these editions again – and to remember WHY I like SW in the first place! So now I exist in a happy, prequel-less world where Jar Jar can’t hurt me, and where I can use my imagination to make up anything about background characters, where Greedo can fly a Y-Wing like back in the day when I was a kid, and the characters names are Hammerhead, Squidhead, Walrusman, and not Ponda Baba or Momaw Nadon.

In short, I’m moving back to 1983, and Star Wars is comin’ with me. Modern era be darned.

EDIT: Bonus feature as a follow up to another forum’s discussion.

I had another thought after I mulled it over –

• I like things that “look real”. Ironically enough, watching that dated old footage from the early 80’s utterly convinces me that what is on screen is real and happening. Now here’s a KEY difference to point out – for my experience of the movies (which is only validated by me, since it’s MY experience), things have to look more real. Whether it is by memory, nostalgia, or actual ILM model work does not matter. The key is, I enjoy things when they look a certain way, and the origins of that enjoyment do not matter one whit, it’s that I enjoy them. As fans sometimes we try to take some logical attack plan to show people “Hey, your opinions are invalid” – which mercifully has not happened here.

• You know what largely tried to kill Star Wars for me? George Lucas. Not in the way you think – not by the prequels or the 90’s blundering of the Special Editions. No, what ALMOST KILLED my love for Star Wars was…

I bought into the lie that George has begun to tell us. That the trilogy is “not our own”…that they are “his to do with as he pleases.” This is a lie. Now the films, the rights, the merchandising, all his from a business standpoint.

But here’s the deal: You cannot give an experience to the whole world, and claim you OWN that experience, changeable at will. In my pastoral care and counseling class, we learned as a person or as a parent one cannot logically say to another human “Well, my intentions were perfect, you just misinterpreted what I did in the past, and your thoughts on the matter are invalid.”

My experiences of the trilogy ARE valid George. And you gave these movies to the whole world for 20 years of love, and then when you jack around with em you think we’ll just say “Hey, thanks. My childhood was missing something. Let’s go back and CGI in some more guests at my birthday party when I was 5, and that’ll be the way we remember it now. The old way didn’t happen.”

Once you can stop letting Lucas tell you that you liking his old movies is not “what you are supposed to do”, SW becomes a lot more fun again.