Collecting Toys…while having kids.


Before having a kid, the most asked question I’d get was, “how’s that going to work with your toy collection?” My basement is filled with vintage toys, some valuable, some still in original boxes. I joked that I’d just never let the kid in the basement until he was eighteen, at which point I’d reveal we had a secret room in the house.

But kids come with a million of their own things, and soon the basement was quickly becoming the hottest real estate on the market for where the Fisher Price Go Go Smart Wheels Construction Set might live.

So, here’s a quick guide on How To Collect Toys with an Actual Child:

Boxed stuff: up high. Pray the child’s growth slows down until he gains self-control. So far the ratio of height to self-control is in a dangerous tipping zone.

Stuff arranged neatly on shelves: Abandon all ye hope. I now keep stuff somewhat arranged in little piles.

Open vintage toys: may God have mercy on them. I let him play with them, as I figure they’ve already survived their first childhood of abuse. What’s another one?

Bins of choking hazards (MUSCLE, Micro Machines, other little toys): So far shaking my head and saying no sadly every time he goes near the drawer has surprisingly worked, as if it’s something that just doesn’t exist. Saying NO with urgency (as though he were imminently about to burn himself or break open his head) just makes him want to do whatever it is more. Saying it sadly, maybe adding in a frown and hurt eyes for emphasis makes him think it’s a bin of sadness. No one wants a bin of sadness, not even a two year old.

Everything Else: “It’s collectible.” Shockingly, this has worked. There is nothing sadder than when he points to the original Ninja Turtle Party Wagon Van (in box) and exclaims, “COLLECTIBLE TRUCK! COLLECTIBLE TRUCK!” Then he backs up, stares at it somewhat longingly, and then goes back to puttering around with his other trucks.

True story, I just heard him in the other room gleefully shouting COLLECTIBLE! and ran into the room with dread, imagining I might find him pulling my records out onto the floor. Nope, he was just pointing at a Ninja Turtle commercial on TV. I am so…. proud. I think.


The Hunt for Deep Fried Twinkies: Day 1

new twinkies.jpg

Wal-Mart is selling — or will begin to sell — deep-fried Twinkies. And I am not shopping for them — or looking for them. No, I am hunting for them, albeit not like one would hunt a deer in the woods. It is hunting a monster, a beast. And perhaps at the end you find the monster is yourself.

At least, that’s how I felt trying to discreetly peruse the frozen aisle at Wal-Mart last night. I became wildly paranoid that everyone else was also discreetly looking for them, and that we might spot them at the same time and pounce on them awkwardly. Or maybe fight to the death for them. If not that, then I worried they quietly judged me, knowing that I was there for the same shameful reason. Or maybe they were just looking for the family pack size of El Monterey Burritos, and I was only one there on a diet-suicide mission.

Just the words Twinkie will stir up every response from revulsion to chastising to nostalgia and novelty. The Twinkie itself, with its golden sun-kissed tan and synthetic cream filling is the original poster-child for Franken-foods. When brilliant scientists (I assume) began deep-frying them at state fairs, it only became more symbolic of America’s deep-rooted… longing. (I thought about the right word to place there for several minutes — and the only word that felt right is longing.)

We long for something. Meaning. Love. God. Purpose. And then we don’t find it and shove deep fried sponge cakes down our throats. Hell yeah.

To introduce the Deep Fried Twinkie into the freezer section where we can finally hoard and nest and binge-eat them in the privacy of our homes brings it all full circle. The Twinkie’s evolution is complete.

The official street date for this new drug is tomorrow, Tuesday, August 16, aka the day we move five minutes closer to Midnight. Word is a few stores were selling them early, which is how I ended up in a Hunter S. Thompson-esque indulgence bender last night at Wal-Mart. I came home with a box of Root Beer-flavored Pop-Tarts, Crystal Pepsi, and Ecto-Cooler.

Quick rundown:

Root Beer Pop Tarts: Weird, like eating the Root Beer Dum Dum pop in pastry form, even weirder when heated in toaster, which is like guzzling hot root beer in gel form. It’s not good, not bad, and not right.

Crystal Pepsi: Flat, sugary, clear, cola-like substance. Also not good, not bad, and not right.

Ecto-Cooler: My son and I drank it. My first in 27 years, his first ever. Pretty awesome. Also pretty sure he invented some new words about an hour after drinking it while jumping on his bed and doing backflips. That stuff lit his brain up like a pinball machine.

Ecto Cooler. Not even once.

But no Deep Fried Twinkies. I will resume my hunt tomorrow night and report back.


Seriously, Apple Jacks?

Make Slimer appear. But…he’s already there. No really he is. I don’t think connecting the dots will make it any more clear.

This is a Dog Toy


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


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.


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!)


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.


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:


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.


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.