This is a Dog Toy

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This disturbing, creepy object is a dog toy. Its actual name according to the tag is “Ivana Not Fall Over.” It’s a dog toy of a Russian Gymnast in honor of the Olympics. All of this is real and exists, and my dog freaking loves it. That is all.

Nintendo Quest: Week 2

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At my first post, I had collected 127 games. I’m up to 152 games at this very minute, and have another 21 on the way. I’ve managed to net several $15 – $20 games for the average price of $5 to $6, but I’m not sure if that means anything. It’s like making imaginary money in your head.

The main thing that happened during week 2 is I got the itch. I got the Nintendo Rabies. No longer content with just collecting them, I wanted to play them. Okay, time to hook up the Ouya (the what? Remember that cool time that Kickstarter-consoles were going to lead the next revolution in gaming?) Anyway, I have the emulated complete history of video games on that thing.

But no. I want to play these carts. These Carts. I wanted my perfectly-made, never-wrong, plastic controller from the 1980s. I want to hear the warm squeaking on the NES lid when I lift it up to put the game in. I want me. Does that make sense? The emulation, bluetooth, 4k TV is someone else. The NES, carts, and controllers are part of my DNA.

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Cool, I got a Nintendo. Except it’s all wrapped up in its box, in the styrofoam with the original instructions/posters. Everytime I take that thing out of the box, it loses a percentile of its condition, which is already a little rough. I needed a new Nintendo.

The weird thing about Nintendo is how wildly the prices have fluctuated. My dad bought one back in the day at the peak of the feverish 1989 Christmas rush for around $300. Five years later, the thing was collecting dust and in the yard sale pile where it was probably sold for $25. Then I remember the late 1990s/early 2000s, when my dad bought another refurb Nintendo to relive “the old days” for probably $50-75. He got it for my mom for Christmas. That sort of blows my mind — that even my non-gamer mom loved that Nintendo so much that she wanted one a second time for Christmas. The Nintendo is so much a part of me, I have family history with it. DNA.

Anyhow, ten years ago, Nintendo values crashed again, and I bought my Complete in Box one on craigslist for $30.  Prices are up again in the $75+ range for a loose one. I got lucky on a eBay auction last week for $100 that included a couple carts — and oh, uh, a barely-advertised MIKE TYSON’S PUNCH OUT IN THE BOX. I have no idea how that went so under the radar, but Mike Tyson in the box is worth $75 alone.

I swore I’d sell the Mike Tyson. I don’t have the budget to be dropping $100 on a spare NES. But if I resold the Tyson, I’d come out with a $25 Nintendo. (Clean it clean! Now let’s come out boxing!)

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Then the package arrived and I held a Perfect Copy of My All Time Favorite Game in my hands. Welp. It’s mine now. It looks great on my shelf.

I haven’t played on an OG Nintendo in about eight years. I’ve been spoiled by the Wii Virtual Console, the Ouya, the basic convenience of putting a game in the machine and having it work right away.

I hooked up my Nintendo with pride. I even ventured into our terrifying “back bedroom” — the room filled with towering piles of infant gear, obsolete DVD collections, etc. to pull out my old CRT TV. This is how you play Nintendo, on the proper system, on the proper TV without modern lag.

I was ready.

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I put the game in. Then I came crashing down off the pink cloud I was riding. Blinking screen. Blinking screen. Blinking screen.

I took it out, put it back in. Blinking screen.

I smacked the cart. I smacked the Nintendo. I put it back in and pressed the button this time while channeling all of my psychic energy up through my body, out through the fingertips, and into the machine. Have you ever tried the psychic energy method? I swear it helps.

Blinking screen. Oh $^$%&^T^$%@ this.

I blew. They tell you not do to that. I do not care. It works.

Blinking screen.

At this point in the narrative, I absolutely hate myself. I hate myself, I hate my childhood, I’ve made a huge mistake. I just dropped a hundred bucks on a broke ass Nintendo and a cardboard box with a picture of Mike Tyson on it.

Remember my friend Dave who is also going along on the Nintendo Quest? He’s at 240 carts and brokering all sorts of sketchy deals off Facebook yard sale groups. He meets up with a guy in a back alley, a guy who texts Dave a picture of him personally hand-cleaning all the carts he’s about to sell:

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It seems like something out of a horror movie. But whatever, Dave lived, and I got a copy of Crystalis and Tiny Toons 2 out of the deal. If I got that picture texted to me in the middle of the night, I’d nope the hell out. But Dave’s nuts. Dave  is the one who tells me to boil the pin connector in my broke-ass Nintendo.

Right. I’m not boiling Nintendo parts, Dave.

But twenty minutes later of blinking screen, I’m desperate.

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You know what? It works. It works, and there’s a slight chemically burning plastic smell afterwards. The Nintendo plays every game I put in (mind you, I still have to blow first), the Mike Tyson game is so damn pretty even my wife likes it, and the Nintendo Quest ventures on.

Win This Glow in the Dark Ghostbusters Shirt

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TV Store Online is giving away Ghostbusters swag to promote the new movie, and I’d like to give away this rad glow-in-the-dark shirt or the girl version if you prefer (which does not glow in the dark, my apologies) to one of you. In order to win, all you have to do is comment. So there you have it — leave a comment, win your choice of shirt. I will pick a winner randomly on Monday at 3pm and email you with the best news of your life.

THE COMMENT TOPIC IS one of the following …. please choose wisely.

  • Kombucha. What is this, does anyone know?
  •  Chuck E Cheese pizza. Am I wrong for thinking it’s amazing?
  • Squeeze yogurts – unnatural aberrations or brilliant?
  • What’s the damn difference between llamas and alpacas?
  • Have you ever eaten a rutabaga?
  • Ladybugs are kind of creepy aren’t they
  • People who swim in their contacts like I do, do you worry about getting weird eye diseases, and how do you deal with waterslides
  • Those big oversized lollypops in gift shops. Has anyone ever finished one?
  • Would your dog shiv you in prison over a chew bone or is mine just an asshole
  • Nacho cheese is a little underrated, isn’t it. Why doesn’t it come on more things outside of carnivals and ballgames?

 

The Surfing Pizza’s Nintendo Quest

 

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I’ve decided to collect every original NES/Nintendo game ever.

Depending on what site you look at, there’s 677 or 678 official licensed North American releases. Or 679. But then if you throw in the unlicensed-but-eventually-licensed Tengen-branded cartridges, there’s more. So if you begin the slippery slope into unlicensed carts, you’re at 773.

There’s also the problem of games like Stadium Events, Little Samson, and Bonk’s Adventure — official carts that are so expensive, you could plunk down $10k for loose versions of those three combined. And hell, if you have that much money to throw around, you could have just bought a freaking new car. But at that point, your life is basically incomplete and stupid if don’t also have the Nintendo World Championships cart, and that fucker is like another 10k.

So how many am I going to collect? ALL OF THEM. Or maybe just some random number like 768. I could be totally good with that.

I was inspired by the documentary Nintendo Quest, a Kickstarter-backed film that recently premiered on Amazon. Okay, well it actually premiered a year ago, but I have a kid and live in black hole of Paw Patrol and Minions. However, I declared my intention to collect every NES game back in 2009. Back then you could still find them at yard sales and flea markets for fifty cents a pop. On eBay, commons were still going for $1 -$2 each. Why did I stop?

“Because you always get bored with things fast,” the wife says, which is also her reason/prayer/zen koan for not freaking out about my latest Big Idea.

I’ve been almost disturbed by her lack of freaking out.

Me: I’M GOING TO COLLECT 700 OF A SIMILAR LOOKING OBJECT.

Her: Okay.

Me: I’M GOING TO SPEND THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS.

Her: Okay.

Me: Umm, are you feeling alright?

Her: It will be alright. You always get bored with things fast.

That may be true, but nevertheless, it’s been a dream since childhood.

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And apparently, everyone else’s, too. NES games have skyrocketed. Let me throw out a few examples:

That 3-in-1 Mario/Duck Hunt/Track Meet cart? Just sold on ebay for $10.

Zelda: $20

Castlevania: $25

Mike Tyson’s Punch Out: $30

Contra: $44

Mega Man: $78

Even sports games no one cares about are stupid prices — John Elway Football and Bases Loaded go for $5 each. Tons of generic shooters with Star in the title? $10-20 each. And then there’s the large black hole mass of games you’ve never heard of — stuff like a game called Toki that I remember buying at a yard sale five years ago for a buck because it had a monkey protagonist? Just sold on ebay for $55.

Basically what I’m saying is, if you haven’t yet, RUN TO YOUR PARENTS HOUSE NOW and frantically grab your old games before they sell them at a yard sale. They’re worth hundreds.

In some way, this makes it way more fun to me, collecting at the height of the housing market. I like gambling. I love slot machines. The odds are stupid, I’m stupid for playing, and the short-lived adrenaline rush is not worth the long-term money loss.

And yet.

Here’s the trick: Buy It Now, Newly-Listed. Sit on ebay waiting for the seller who has listed their lot too low. Yesterday I nabbed a lot of 12 games for $80 on ebay about 10 minutes after it was listed. It included Contra, Solomon’s Key, and Adventures of Lolo, plus doubles I had of 8 other common titles and a Star Tropics complete in box. I can easily resell the Star Tropics and commons for $80 individually. So I just got the $40 Contra, $10 Solomon and $10 Lolo for free.

Here’s the next trick: Real Life. Yesterday I bought 10 carts for $40 at a record shop. I don’t even have to haggle with dude anymore, he just knows me and gives me a discount price now. $4 a cart isn’t an amazing price, but it is when it includes the $15 Tengen PacMania and $12 Gumshoe.

I have no idea if my ebay and haggling coups are interesting to anyone. All I know is my wife won’t listen to the stories. AREN’T THEY FASCINATING? I GOT TENGEN RBI BASEBALL for $1.62!

My current game count is 127 games, with roughly the 30 from my original childhood collection, the 50 I collected a few years ago, and the 20 I bought over the last day. I also dragged my friend Dave into the Nintendo Quest with me, and he’s trying to complete a set as well. With the intensity of a mob boss negotiation yesterday, I traded him my mint-in-box Maniac Mansion for Castlevania 3, Final Fantasy, and a loose copy of Maniac Mansion. Like Zelda, the Nintendo Quest is dangerous to go alone.

So I’m going to keep updating with my progress on the Nintendo Quest. I invite others of you to join me. We could trade. I got doubles of Double Dribble and Top Gun, yo.

THIS COULD BE YOU:

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I mean, I guess it could just be you if you buy those pants and shoes. It might be cheaper that way.

Summer Musing: The Slip ‘N Slide

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The other day it occured to me that I have no idea if I’ve actually been on a Slip ‘N Slide or if the disappointment of it is just so palpable that I have false memories. Maybe it rules to other people, but my imagination of how things are going to be is just so overactive that I’m eternally disappointed. My wife hates that about me. It makes me sound like a miserable person, but I swear I’m not. I’m actually an optimist. I just want the Slip and Slide TO RULE SO HARD.

I want it to be Disney World meets World’s Biggest Waterslide meets Log Flume meets SPLASH POOL WAVE LAGOON THING. What is that? I don’t know. I don’t know. I just want it. I want water and thrills and speed.

Instead what I get is a tepid yellow mat in the backyard where the dog poops, some water spraying out of the hose, and a splash pool at the end with bugs already floating in it. And my parents are already mentioning the water bill and the time limit. The water is less like a wild spray and more like a polite water fountain.

Still, in some ways, that would be okay, because I’m also imagining a party. I’m imagining popularity. Having a Slip ‘N Slide warrants inviting everyone we know to the house — all my friends, even celebrities.

Instead, in reality, I have no friends, but at least my sister is there. And my mom says maybe we can invite over our cousins next weekend.

Alright, still, as a child I have extended patience and hope. The thing is not Splash Mountain in my backyard, I have no friends, but the Slip ‘N Slide is still FUN, right? I remember running towards it, hurling my body down, and sliding like lightening speed… right?

No. I remember PAIN. The feeling of hitting the hard ground on my chest, and then sadly scooting myself down the mat until hitting the sad pathetic pool at the end, which is like two inches of water.

I think I remember. Or maybe I’m making this up. Is it a repressed memory? A false memory? Did we own a Slip ‘N Slide or am I just compensating for the disappointment of never having one? Is all of this true, but I can’t fully remember because I’ve blocked the memory out of disappointment?

The Slip ‘N Slide: Iconic, enigmatic, totally stupid.