Great Now I’m Obsessed With Star Wars Card Trader

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Twenty-four hours ago, I was normal. At least in the sense that I had never heard of something called “digital collecting,” and upon learning of it, I immediately and rightfully and condescendingly scoffed. THAT is not collecting. Collecting is stuff. Real stuff that fills the very real spaces in our house and the holes in our hearts. Collecting is not some stupid phone app that shows you pictures. That was twenty-four hours ago.

Then I learned about Star Wars Card Trader, an app by card-maker Topps, where you “collect” digital versions of trading cards. Still in scoff mode.

Then I read this article. How the Hell Is This JPG of Han Solo Worth $225?

Yes, like the link title says, someone paid $225 on eBay to have a particularly rare digital card show up in their app.

People actually pay real life money for these cards. Like in the cartoons, my eyeballs changed over to dollar signs. A fantastic get-rich-quick scheme revealed itself to me. I’d collect up these digital cards and sell them to losers on ebay.

I downloaded the app. That was twenty-four hours ago.

At first, my plan was going swimmingly. Each day the app gives you credits with which to exchange for card packs. You can also pay real money to get more credits. You collect base sets and chase inserts. My heart leapt when I got my first insert, and later again when I got a dupe insert. You can trade with others to get cards you don’t have.

By the end of the day, I had wheeled and dealed and traded, and I had two inserts worth a buck each on eBay. I learned it wasn’t going to be a get rich quick plan, but more of a long con.

Only problem is, I no longer wanted to sell them to losers. I had myself become a loser. I wanted them. No, I mean, like I WANTED THEM. And I want more.

I think of it more of a game than “collecting” — a game that involves aspects of collecting. It also has aspects of gamimg in that your collection gets a score, you have to strategically plan how to spend your credits if you want inserts, and you also have to be thoughtful in trades. Throw in the fact that these digital cards have real life monetary value, and you can see how this thing is like crack.

Download this game. I need friends on it. My username is SurfingPizza. And tell me your username so I can add you back! Don’t try explaining it to your significant other. Except that you will have to, because you’ll be begging them to open an account just so they can trade their allotted card packs each day to you. Or just go ahead and make an account for them on a spare phone if you aleady have their Facebook password. (Thanks, honey. Love you.)

I’m Not Dead, I’m Just Collecting Amiibos

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Dude. Amiibos. WTF. What is their all-consuming powerful allure over me that has been slowly sucking away at my brain since the day they were released?

Scene: Last Christmas. Best Buy. The wife is buying me a gift. We had a five-month-old at the time, so gifts were this unromantic, I-just-want-to-feel-normal emotional/consumption response. I had my gift choice down between the Michael Bay Ninja Turtles Blu-Ray or an Amiibo and collector case.

I’m a sucker for a spiffy collector case. I’m pretty sure I just wanted the collector case more than the figure. But the wife grimaced, knowing if I got that case, I’d have an uncontrollable urge to FILL IT WITH ALL FIGURES.

Then I looked at my sweet little son and knew innately that now was not the right time in life to obsessively buy and hoard yet another collection of small plastic figurines. I knew these toys were evil.

It looked like this. Just like this. In my mind:

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I chose the Michael Bay Ninja Turtles movie. You know, Ninja Turtles. An old friend. A trusty standby.

That movie. I’m never, ever mentioning it again on this blog. The baby woke up fussing about 3/4 of the way through and we never finished watching it. I can only hope it ended with a livid fire that killed the bastardized Turtles and then somehow caused the Blu-ray itself to also explode into flames.

Still, the Amiibo thing haunted me. It slowly ate away at me. The little figures whispered in my ear “Buy me! Buy us! Want us!” in scary high-pitched voices from afar.

Skip ahead to scene: Last week, when Nintendo announced a pre-order for a pack of Amiibos I could absolutely not resist any longer:

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The Retro 3-Pack. I NEED a mini-ROB the Robot in my life. I also need his Japanese Famicom counterpart version.

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And while I’m at it, I also need Little Mac, Sonic, Silver Mario, Gold Mario, Bowser, Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, and Diddy Kong, all of whom I bought in swift order in about 48 hours.

Aaaand I’m still going to need Wii Fit Trainer, Fox, Pit, Samus, Kirby, and Toon Link.

And like five more that are coming out next month. Then that will be it. Maybe. Except for a spiffy collector case, of course.

The wife? Let’s just say that she loves me.

The son? Let’s just say he’s happy as long as he can smear mannicotti all over the curtains.

Naptime Chronicles: Ode to Captain Calamari

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On our refrigerator, we have a magnetic dry-erase board where we keep a list. The list is called Family Members Ranked. It’s where we rank the family members weekly — well, it’s really more of a passive-aggressive way for the wife and I to communicate. I started the list with me as number one, but I’ve been erased and crossed-out and ranked down multiple times. Likewise, the dog, who got into the trash can recently, has been ranked down to one million on the list.

Currently, in the wife’s handwriting, she and the baby are simultaneously tied for number one in the family. Number two is me; I didn’t do anything to irritate her this week worth ranking me down. Number three is Captain Calamari, barely. We wrote it so long ago that it’s almost completely faded. Number one million is the dog. She can stay there forever as far I’m concerned.

Who is Captain Calamari? He was a plushy squid with various rattles and mirrors attached to his colorful tentacles. He was my baby’s favorite toy. Maybe he was just our favorite toy for the baby. He was a member of our family.

I remember when the Captain first arrived on our porch in a brown box, ahead of the baby shower, the very first “official” baby gift we happened to receive. The wife had registered for Captain Calamari because it was just fun to say. It’s all like “do you wanna register for Captain Calamari?” “HELL YEAH I wanna register for Captain Calamari.” And by pure serendipity, as I was playing with my new video camera that day, I captured the Captain’s arrival and opening on camera. We knew he was special.

The kid seemed to take to him right away. He stared blankly at everything else we deliriously rattled and shook at him, but the Captain always caught his eye. Within a year, the blank stare of a baby becomes an interest, which becomes a gleaming, which becomes a smile, a giggle, a grabbing, becomes a child walking upright and carrying it around.

He intrigued him, he soothed him, he made him giggle. We used to sing “You’re Still the One” about the Captain and the Baby, because it was that one toy he seemed to always go back to.

And then one day, it’s over. He’s no longer interested the patterns and mirrors and rattles. He’s moved on. He wants objects with wheels and things with buttons to push. He wants the dog, her tail. He wants us, always us. So much us. He wants to pull down the magazines, every last one. He wants to walk off with the TV remote control. He wants to play with the outlets, wires, climb up the stairs, and paw at the oven. If it’s dangerous, it attracts him. Soft cuddly objects need not apply.

So now Captain Calamari sits in the back bedroom, along with newborn onesies and dangly object mats and the bumbo seat. They feel like relics to me, a walk through a museum of an older life I used to have. This must be what it feels like when my grandparents go in their basement or attic storage. Except it’s just one year of life, though it might as well be one hundred. Sleep deprivation is to time as blackholes are to matter.

My mom used to tell me. Then other parents used to tell me. Hell, complete strangers tell me. I’ll tell you. “It goes so fast.”

It’s all they ever say, too. It goes so fast. And then you find out it does, and you feel compelled to pass this message onto others, as if they’ll heed this warning and discover something to hang onto, some way to slow life down. But they won’t really listen, they won’t really believe you.

When I was a young adult, I used to wonder what else there was to do in life. Like really, what else is there? Going out and doing stuff, hanging out, hobbies, stuff. It’s all stuff. What else is there to do in life, ever?

Some days, I think I have the answer to that. Like, here is something else. I could write an obituary for a stuffed toy.

CALAMARI, Captain. Beloved first toy of Brian. Devoted plush squid. Dear relative of Huey the Hedgehog, Freddie the Firefly, and Rusty the Robot, in the same series of toys. He served his post well in all capacities. Full of developmental features that capture baby’s imagination and stimulate the senses. Features a crinkly hat, clacking rings, 8 knottie activity legs, rattle, and a surprise mirror. He retired to the back bedroom after eleven months of service. Everyone except for the stupid dog is welcome to attend his viewing whenever they want.

My Kid’s First Birthday Party

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Having never really arranged or thrown a big party before, I sort of pictured a one-year-old’s birthday in the park on a mid-summer afternoon a chill event. You rent a pavilion, you bring a cornhole set, you eat popcorn, drink soda and beer, and you watch a baby smash cake in his face.

All of that happened, so it was a success.

Of course, all of that only happens after a few analytical freak-outs about how many sodas, chips, sandwiches, and party blowers one should buy, laying awake nights calculating complex algebraic ratios of invited guests to Mug Root Beers to Orange Crush sodas. And because I’m insane or can’t do math, it’s easier to just buy a hundred sodas and let the world burn. I imagine dropping a lit match on the fuel-soaked Costco as I swagger out with my “party pack” of sodas in my arms.

Then there’s the decorations, which, the less said about that, the better. The party was Ninja Turtle themed, so just go ahead and multiply my love of Ninja Turtles by one hundred, and you will arrive at roughly what I spent on decor and green napkins.

Also, it was 105 degrees.

Today it is also 105 degrees, but my happy thought today is that I do not have to host a baby’s birthday party in it. Whee!

However, yesterday…well, nobody got heat stroke, so it was a success.

The main reason I’m writing this post though is because my kid got a Powerwheels Car. Grandpa bought it for him. What the hell, Grandpa? I never got a Powerwheels Car when I was a kid.

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Now my dad will try to sell you some sob story about how he once sold a kidney to buy me a Sega Genesis during Christmas season…

Still. Not a Powerwheels.

My kid is a freaking baby. He can’t even drive it. So I went ahead and “tested” the Powerwheels out, my weight putting roughly 10x the stress limit on the motor, but whatever, I’m due this. That bad boy RIPPED across the living at two miles per hour and it was possibly the greatest, longest-awaited two seconds of my life.

Update: I let my kid ride it. I mean, yeah, he’s still a freaking baby, but what’s the worst that could happen? Don’t answer that. I held him really good. And he loved it. Okay, yeah, that was way more fun than me riding it.

My Kid Turned One. I Got Trading Cards Made of Him.

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My kid turned one a few days ago. As a gift to him, or really more to myself for surviving Year One, I got these trading cards made, modeled after the first series of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle trading cards in the 1990s.

First things first, my friend and retro pop culture graphic designer Jon Hunt totally nailed these cards. He’s open to odd jobs, so if you want, you can contact him at flyingsauceronline@gmail.com.

I cut the cards and displayed them in plastic card sheeting, alongside the TMNT cards in a 3-binder notebook, so it sort of just looks like my kid’s cards are part of the original run.

I wrote the captions. #Braggingrights. I know, “Cowabunga!” must have taken me HOURS to come up with. It really did. Don’t even judge.