I’ve been fighting a sinus infection for the past couple days and haven’t updated in over a week. I don’t like that. So I’ve decided to take a few pictures and give you all a glimpse into my “man cave,” which isn’t really the right word. A “man cave” seems to imply an area where men corral and watch sports and eat drippy, meaty morsels, none of which occur here. I suppose I could call it my basement, but what a stuffy and murky-sounding word. This is the area where I write and work and stare into the void of the Internet. AND IT’S FILLED WITH AWESOME TOYS.
I have stuff. Shit tons of it. I’m not ashamed. Let me let you in on a secret. Girls dig it–in the beginning, at least, when it’s only at your apartment, and she can leave it afterwards to go home to her minimalist lifestyle and bedroom that smells like strawberry shampoos and lotions. One day, she moves in with it, and it’s no longer as charming or quirky. Then again, most things aren’t at this stage in the relationship. But we have fun together, and can no longer picture our lives without the other. And sometimes the other is still occasionally charming. And she is good at helping me remember where I have placed my car keys. This is invaluable.
Eventually, she weighs her future with it and plans to marry it. That is when it gets relegated to the basement. The other rooms in our house are decorated and furnished more modest and primly. The girlfriend has charge over most of the other rooms, although the living room is suited more to my vision, and our bedroom remains a power struggle.
I thought I’d show you a few of my favorite things that I’ve collected over the years. When you first descend into the cave, this is the first thing you see.
BEST. BAND. RIVALRY. Although that Meet The Raisins album is seriously one of the most God-awful things, ever. Cheesy, Casio-keyboard backed covers of Motown songs that must have been recorded in half an hour.
Next I want to show you the classy table. This end table is an antique and therefore demands to have only the most posh items adorning it.
POSH THING #1. Buck Wrangling A Tree Bobblehead. Yes, a bobble head. I got it at the Bass Pro shop. I don’t know what I was doing there. I wandered in. I also bought a full length body pillow in the shape of a bass fish. Don’t judge me. That fish kept me warm at night. Her name was Lisa.
Sadly, I do not drive a truck with a sprawling dashboard to sit this bobblehead on.
POSH THING #2. Saber Tooth Tiger Skull Fossil. The girlfriend brought me back this souvenir when she visited the La Brea Tar Pits in California.
POSH THING #3. Nunchuks. I’ve talked about them a million times on my blog. They are a real Ninja weapon. My computer clearly does not understand the nuances of ancient Chinese words and suggests “munchies” as the auto-correct for Nunchuks. But I’m not going to correct it, Computer. I feel like I’m pissing it off. And that feels good.
POSH THING #4. That Awesome Pirate Statue. Got this at one of the arcades in Ocean City, Maryland, where you play for tickets. Seriously. Something that nice? What can I say? I am a God of Skee Ball.
Next. NINJA TURTLE THINGS.
NINJA TURTLE THING #1. Big figures of Mike and Raph. I badly want to complete the foursome with Leo and Don, but I don’t want to buy them on eBay. I want to stumble upon them in nature, as I did with each of the above.
NINJA TURTLE THING #2. Santa Raphael. I don’t what the hell that is, but he’s dressed like Santa Claus. I’m sure he once had a hat and jacket that were removable and therefore long missing. However, the pants were wisely printed on his legs.
NINJA TURTLE THING #3. Flash gun! But why is Raphael stunning Michaelangelo on the packaging?
Also, long-life battery does not mean infinite-life battery:
It has corroded and leaked through the backing of the package. I’m totally going to die.
NINJA TURTLE THING #4.
TOTALLY AWESOME DUELIN’ DUDES! A Ninja Turtles version of Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots? Awesome, indeed. I found this at a thrift store for four bucks. It was one of those things the girlfriend begged me not to buy since it was huge, filthy, moisture-damaged and dusty. The picture above is the box’s good side. The other side is nightmares.
But I couldn’t turn it away. It still had all the pieces inside, which is a triumph for something with so many mechanical working parts.
The only sucky part about the toy was that the previous owner (a person who was ten, twenty years ago) had decided to get all creative and affix the stickers in random places instead of where they belong. Overall, it works great. The heads are tight and will pop only after an appropriate amount of punching.
THOSE OTHER AMPHIBIOUS ASS-KICKING GREEN GUYS! The Battle Toads, Rash and Zits! Sure, they were a thinly-veiled rip-off of the Turtles, but they were no less awesome. It wasn’t until they started coming out with stuff like Street Sharks that shit got stupid. Karate-fighting sharks? Now that’s just dumb.
THE CALIFORNIA RAISIN ALCOVE.
I’m a fan. Come on, ya’ll. They’re the Grapest Band in history. A marketing firm comes up with a commercial to get people to buy more raisins and inadvertently creates an empire. I don’t know if it ever caused people to buy actual raisins, but the California Raisin characters became omnipresent in the 1980s. It’s actually really weird if you think about it. But don’t think about it.
There were droves of figures, clothes, books, a videogame, cartoons, albums, Halloween costumes, and a sun shield for the dashboard. Remember that? When sun shields were A Thing? When blocking the sun in your car was trendy? That was weird, too.
Next. SOME RANDOM STUFF!
RANDOM THING #1. Dinosaur. Okay, so I own a few toys that are possibly for babies. So what. We’ll have a baby, one day. So what.
RANDOM THING #2. Michael Jackson Record Player. Sadly, it doesn’t work. I paid twenty bucks for it ten years ago, and see it regularly listed on eBay in the hundreds. That’s a Prince Purple Rain 45 I have displayed on the platter.
RANDOM THING #3. Old school Bart!
RANDOM THING #4:
LASONIC BOOMBOX/GHETTO BLASTER! Just aesthetically, they do not make electronics that look this sexy anymore. You can keep your sleek, thin, shiny electronics. She weighs thirty pounds without the twelve D-batteries she requires to turn her on.
I got this for a steal, too, at a flea market. Five bucks. I’ve seen these vintage boomboxes go as high as two or three hundred on eBay before. It still works, too—though the one speaker goes in and out, and the tape player is iffy, depending on her mood.
Next. NINTENDO THINGS!
NINTENDO THING #1. Ugliest. Mario. Ever.
NINTENDO THING #2. Bowser Trophy. There is a complete series of these “trophies” for several early NES games, including Zelda and Punch-Out. You were supposed to buy these trophies and award them to yourself or friends, writing down your high score on the toy. I think it signifies an interesting time in the history of video games. Before Nintendo, in arcades and on early consoles like the Atari, you measured your skill at the game by high score. Nintendo introduced a new way of thinking about gaming where the goal was to beat the games. Games like Super Mario Bros still kept score, but the score didn’t mean anything. These trophies were an odd way of recognizing it.
HANDHELD ELECTRONIC GAMES!
These kinds of games were a staple for me during long car rides when I was a kid. I had an entire cabal of them: car racing, boxing, tennis, pinball, etc. Even though they were repetitious and possibly never-ending, I still played them furiously. I secretly hated them with a passion, knowing there was no skill involved—only button mashing that may or may not have even had an actual effect on the action on the screen. I didn’t know any better. The Game Boy hadn’t enlightened me yet.
I have a neat story about the tiny blue one. There was a big, flowery bush/vine thing in my grandmother’s backyard. It grew against a fence, and there was a secret space shielded by the thick branches and flowers. I used to hide out in there when I was a kid. After my grandmother died, when I was an adult and her house was about to be sold, I decided to visit that hiding space one last time. I ducked in there, too tall to stand up fully, and looked around. I noticed something in the dirt. It was this tiny video game I must have left there, long ago. It must have been there twenty-five-some years. It turned right on and plays perfectly, still.
These are two of the Rock-afire Explosion 45s that were sold at Showbiz Pizza (a sort of Chuck E. Cheese). Rock-afire was the animatronic band of puppets. The songs are Roast Beef Sandwich/Beatles Medley on the Billy Bob Bear 45, and School Days/Catch A Wave on the Fats the Gorilla 45. Great stuff.
The Gremlins 45s contain a book and recording of part of a story. They were promos from Hardees, and you collected all five record/books to hear the complete story.
BAD ASS FIGURES!
BAD ASS #1. Big King Kong. From the 2007 movie, Kong.
BAD ASS #2. Venom from Spiderman. Not really a comic book fan, but I just love that tongue.
BAD ASS #3. Mecha Godzilla. A must-have on anybody’s personal “bad ass” list.
BAD ASS #4. Michaelangelo. Came for free with the purchase of the DVD of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3, a film so pathetically bad, they had to bribe you with a toy to buy it.
BAD ASS #5. Imperial Kong. There were a couple of very cool, distinctive-looking figures made by Imperial in the early 80s, one of which is this Kong.
BAD ASS #6. Imperial Brontosaurus. Another one is this cool dinosaur. They look deceivingly knock-offish, but these figures are actually pretty nice.
VIEWMASTER GIFT SETS!
I used to love looking at Viewmaster reels, though I’m not sure if I was aware they were 3D. 3D my ass. That’s not even the draw of these things. The cool part is looking into something. Looking into something is one of those simple pleasures of life, whether it be a kaleidescope, a telescope, or that tube in the science museum that looks unsettlingly greasy and probably has a million germs on it.
Finally, let me show you the centerpiece of the cave.
MICHAEL JACKSON. I’ve taken a lot of flack over the years for collecting MJ junk, but now I look like some kind of genius. And also, it is awesome.
And it’s true, girls dig it. “I have the ceramic head of Michael Jackson” is a great pick-up line. But do not—I repeat, DO NOT lead them on unless you ACTUALLY HAVE THE HEAD. Trust me on this one, folks.