Let Me Cock My Bat: A Nerd Lunch NES Chat

I recently had the pleasure of returning to the fourth chair on the Nerd Lunch Podcast along with Jaime from ShezCrafti.com as we joined Jeeg and Pax for a discussion on the beloved Nintendo Entertainment System.

Although Pax unknowingly nabbed two of my three favorite games before I could utter a word of their excellence, I pounced on the opportunity to emphasize the importance of cocking one's bat in RBI Baseball.

Not only do I hope this discussion further supports the theory of more home runs hit when the bat is cocked, I also anticipate this episode of Nerd Lunch adding a cleaner result to the Google search for "bat cock."

Still with me? Now listen in.

The Basement Show

Back around 2005, I bought two turntables and a mixer. I had no plans of becoming the "next big thing" because, really, DJs are a dime a dozen. But after growing up on Jam Master Jay and Grandmaster Flash and always wanting to find myself on their side of the stage, I just had to play around with this stuff a bit for myself.

Fast forward about ten years and here's what's happened:
  • I still find myself envying the talent of today's best DJs -- Shiftee? Holy smokes.
  • I've sold one of the two turntables to my pal (and fellow record-enthusiast) Frank.
  • I recorded one actual "set" while both decks were wired into my computer back in 2008.
Wait. What?

Yeah. Just before Christmas of 2008, I put together a little more than six minutes of holiday cheer.

Nothing fancy. Pretty simple, really. But it's fun.

With the holidays upon us, I thought I'd share this taste of the short-lived "basement show."

For those keeping score at home, here's what was used:
  • You Gotta Get Up - Rich Mullins - From "A Liturgy, A Legacy, & a Ragamuffin Band" (1993 - Reunion)
  • Drop It Like It's Hot - Snoop Dogg - From "R&G" (2004 - Geffen)
  • Christmas Vacation Clip - Chevy Chase (1989 - Warner Bros.)
  • Mele Kalikimaka - Bing Crosby From "Merry Christmas" (MCA)
  • J.O.Y. - Transformation Crusade - From "Yo Ho Ho" (Benson)
  • Bridge is Over - Boogie Down Production - From "Criminal Minded" (1987 - B Boy)
  • Wonderful Christmastime - Paul McCartney (1979 - Parlophone/EMI)
  • Funky Funky Christmas - New Kids on the Block - From "Merry Merry Christmas" (1989 - Columbia)
  • Wild Thing - Tone Loc - From "Loc-ed After Dark" (1989 - Delicious Vinyl/Rhino)
  • A Christmas Story Clip - Billingsley/Shepherd (1983)
  • It's Cold Outside - Redbone/Deschanel - From Elf Soundtrack (2003 - New Line)
  • Christmas in Hollis - Run-DMC - From "A Very Special Christmas" (1987 - A&M)
  • Can't Stop Won't Stop - Young Gunz (2003 - Roc-a-Fella)
  • Christmas Rappin' - Kurtis Blow - From "Kurtis Blow" (1980 - Mercury)
  • Hit It Run - Run-DMC - From "Raising Hell" (1986 - Profile)
  • Christmas Wrapping - The Waitresses (1981)
  • Genius of Love - Tom Tom Club - From "Tom Tom Club" (1981 - Sire/Warner Bros.)
  • Friday Clip - Chris Tucker (1995 - New Line)
  • Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto - James Brown
  • I'm Chief Kamanawanalea - The Turtles - From "The Battle of the Bands" (1968 - Flo & Eddie)
  • Little Drummer Boy - D-Boy - From "Yo Ho Ho" (Benson)
  • The Show - Slick Rick/Doug E. Fresh - From "The Show" (1985 - Reality)

Today was a Good Day (at the Flea Market)

More often than not, a trip to the flea market involves a fifty-cent My Little Pony for whichever daughter has tagged along for the morning, a stop for breakfast at the greasy spoon near the interstate exit, and an annoyance on my part for making the trip and coming home empty-handed.

Not today, folks. Not today.

First, I flea-marketed solo today. Sans kids. This meant I had the opportunity to dig through boxes, flip through records, and haggle prices without a tiny voice expressing boredom and desire for something involving less walking. Every time I go to the flea market, I stop at the same table first -- a guy who's usually got a great mix of toys, knick-knacks, and general nonsense at a very reasonable price. Today was off to a great start as I was able to grab a couple of fun action figures -- the King of Cartoons (Pee-Wee's Playhouse) and Donnie Wahlberg (New Kids on the Block) -- for less than I'd spend on a stop at the vending machine.


Then there was the stack of 45s. Apparently somebody had cleaned out their juke box as these suckers were all in perfect condition. At a quarter each, I couldn't help myself and grabbed nine favorites.

Barely breaking a five by this point, I strolled on to my next favorite seller at the flea market...and there it was.

Let me back up for a minute.

When I was a kid, my brother and I had a Fisher-Price Movie Theater. We had both the viewer that showed the movies on the wall and the handheld viewer. At some point over the past 3+ decades, all of this disappeared -- presumably during a tornado which passed very close to my parents house several years ago. After scouring eBay for quite some time, I was able to pick up a plug-in viewer a few months back for an amazing price.

I held off on tracking down one of the hand-held viewers though. Not sure why...but I just did. I even heard from my brother recently that these hand-held viewers are now one of the items brought back by Fisher-Price in their line of vintage items "newly" available in stores. I've heard these reboots are pretty flimsy so I never felt the urge to drop the 20 bucks on a new one.

Then today at the flea market...I was glad I waited.

A sale I was not about to miss.

Fifteen movie cartridges (which sell for anywhere from $5-$15 each online) and two original handheld viewers (usually $10 bucks or so online). The vender wanted two bucks each for the movies and eight each for the viewers. I offered 25 bucks for all of the movies and one viewer and she was onboard.

After mentioning that my kids love these things too, she threw in the other viewer for free. Not that I'm going to sell this stuff any time soon, but I dropped 25 bucks on well over $150 worth of vintage goodness.

Not gonna lie, though. When I texted my brother about this, he'd also found something awesome this morning...and I'm completely jealous.

Temple(s) of Boom

In 1993, Cypress Hill became one of my favorite music groups as I latched on to their most successful album to date -- Black Sunday.

Around this same time, I paid a couple of bucks for a CD at a local pawn shop -- Munchies For Your Bass by the Texas-based rap crew Nemesis.

A few years later, in 1995, Cypress Hill followed Black Sunday with another solid album -- III: Temples of Boom.

All these years later, I've discovered that Nemesis put out several albums including a 1993 effort titled Temple of Boom.

1993. Two years before Cypress Hill's similarly titled album. Considering we're talking about the difference of a letter "s", how a lawsuit did not ensue is beyond me.

In other news, keep an eye out for my own album coming out soon. It'll be 45 minutes of heavy bass beats that I'll call Temple of Booms.

Judy: Daniel LaRusso's Jersey Girl

You've seen The Karate Kid. You've basked in the beauty that is Ali Mills.

But do you remember the scene in the restaurant when Daniel's mother asks him about the "girl situation" and Daniel's sly grin is a dead giveaway? Mrs. LaRusso asks, "Is she prettier than Judy?" and Daniel immediately declares, "Oh, ma, she buries Judy!"

Based on Mrs. LaRusso's surprise to her son's answer, this Judy must have been a real looker! But I guess we'll never know for sure.


There's that opening scene of the movie -- literally in the film's first minute -- when Daniel and his mother are pulling away from their old neighborhood in New Jersey. Mrs. LaRusso has just reminded Tony to tell Uncle Louie that some red wine and Parmesan was left in the refrigerator when Daniel calls out "Bye, Judy!"

While one of the two older girls present seems to turn her head towards the car, there is enough of a delay in this action that it's safe to assume that this is not Judy.

But in that same instance, the second girl leans into the passenger side window for a so-long smooch from Daniel.

There you have it.


You're welcome.

House Party: The Musical?

Last night over dinner, my wife and I engaged in conversation with some friends on topics ranging from education and work to sports and television. But the pivotal moment in our time together is when my old friend revealed a significant disagreement that he and his wife have when it comes to one of history's best cinematic gems.

Simply put, he says House Party is a musical.

She thinks not.

Well, my friend, I'm here to support your theory. Wikipedia defines a "musical film" as follows:
The musical film is a film genre in which songs sung by the characters are interwoven into the narrative, sometimes accompanied by dancing. The songs usually advance the plot or develop the film's characters, though in some cases they serve merely as breaks in the storyline, often as elaborate "production numbers".
Let's break this down.

1. "...songs sung by the characters are interwoven into the narrative..."

If you're familiar with House Party, you're aware that this scene is more than just an arbitrary chance for Kid 'n Play to pick up a mic. It's Kid finally getting the chance to rhyme after it's become clear by this point in the film that this is his grandest desire. It's a back-and-forth between two friends filled with lines that absolutely contribute to the plot of the movie. A few such lines that you can't miss come from Play:
  • "The party host with the most..." [The party takes plays at Play's house]
  • "Boy, you're goin way out, I'm ready to serve you; If you can stay out past your pop's curfew." [A subplot of the movie involves Kid being at the party against his father's wishes]

And this is just one example of a significant musical number. Let's not forget Bilal serenading a girl at the party with Heatwave's Always and Forever or the guys from Full Force finding Kid hiding in an abandoned fridge ("Wherever you go we can smell you like gas...").

2. "...sometimes accompanied by dancing..."

Again, this is no simple dance number. This is Play coming to the rescue of his friend-in-need in order to claim dance superiority on their home turf. Play maintaining control and keeping his guests in check is certainly a significant component to the House Party plot (although, at times, his level of "control" varies).


Songs interwoven into the narrative? Check.

Sometimes accompanied by dancing? Check.

I think it's safe to say we've got a musical on our hands. Yeah, I did it. Cry two tears in a bucket...

The Old Guy at the Rock Show

This past weekend I had the chance to see one of my favorite bands play live -- a band I hadn't seen in over seven years.

Seven years, people.

This may not seem like a big deal, but NIL8 is a regional band that may not play as often as they once did, but when they do, it's usually not more than an hour away from where I live. In my defense, though, this seven year drought happens to be the same amount of time it has taken my wife and I to increase the size of our family from two to five.

I showed up to the Castle about the time the doors opened with plans for my handheld Sony to capture a listenable audio recording of NIL8's set. The small line which had formed outside was just entering the venue. After being gouged for a few extra bucks at the door (not worth explaining), I headed inside and quickly realized that my plans to record from the balcony would need to change since the upstairs was closed for the night.

No problem.

I grabbed a cheap draft and a shot of Jim Beam from the bar and parked myself at a table near the back of the room.

This was brand new territory for me. Not only was I "the old guy at the rock show," I was "the old guy by himself at the rock show." My brother and I had discussed this new stage in life a few weeks ago when we saw Deer Tick play and we comprised a portion of the oldest 1% in the room. Gone are the days of face-in-speakers. Say hello to the days of cotton-in-ears.

I drank my beer and sipped my whiskey while I caught up on some reading to pass the time.


There's something awesome about having a few drinks at a bar while you wait for a metal show ... and doing some reading for a study you're doing at church while you wait.

NIL8 was set to be the first of two bands -- the second of which (The Pimps) had already set up and completed their sound check prior to the doors opening. With barely 30 minutes until showtime, NIL8 was nowhere to be seen and the place was filling up.

Then there was Bruce with his bass. Then came Wes dragging in some drums. Old School Cock (Damon) had his guitar. Last, but not least, was Jeff who was cruising up the center aisle at quite a clip -- not running, but not walking. Sort of that super-fast walk kids do in the hallway at school so as to stay within the acceptable range of the no-running rule. As the guys in the band hustled to get the stage set, it hit me -- after all these years -- this is why I love NIL8.

There was no annoyance from crowd members checking their watches. There was no dog-and-pony show of sneaking the band through a secret back door. There were no nervous roadies feeling the pressure of an anxious and eager crowd. It was just NIL8 running cables and making last-minute adjustments in preparation for a gathering crowd knowing full-well that we were about to have our faces rocked off.

Anyway, it may have been seven years since I've seen a live NIL8 show but they haven't slowed down one bit. Aside from Jeff's early-in-the-show stretches, this was clearly still the same band that used to pack the Dungeon in Charleston back in my mid/late 90s college days.

Powering through an hour-long set of NIL8 classics mixed with some more recent material, my face had been figuratively rocked off in the name of amazing punk-ish/pop-ish metal.

Regular FASTE readers are likely aware of my constant efforts to fill online voids left where deserving people have no adequate tribute within the world wide web of information. I did it for singer-songwriter Todd Snider with EighteenMinutes.com. I did it for Mister Rogers with NeighborhoodArchive.com. Over the past several weeks, I've been back at it again with a new site dedicated to South-Central Illinois' finest -- NIL8. SwitchDrops.com (named for one of my favorite NIL8 classics) is in its very early stages but something tells me there are others ready to read and/or contribute to such a site.

Staying through a majority of the Pimps' set, I headed to the quiet parking lot across the street and pulled from my parking spot just in time to see Jeff stepping away from his van a few feet away. Part of me considered rolling my window down and filling him in on SwitchDrops.com and begging him for anything and everything he'd be willing to contribute. But I didn't want to be "that guy." You know, that guy who approaches you in a dark parking lot and tells you all about his new website based on his multi-decade following of your band.

That's not cool.

That's creepy.

So I opted for a quick nod of acknowledgement and headed for home.

We'll see where SwitchDrops.com goes from here. I know there is a ton of stuff out there that could make this site something great for NIL8 fans everywhere. In the meantime, though, I assure you it won't be another seven years before this old guy at the rock show sees NIL8 again.

For the good of the cause, here's Switch Drops from the last time NIL8 visited the Castle.

Deep Adult Conversation

After spending my days working with high school students and then coming home to evenings with my own kids, sometimes I simply crave deep adult conversation as the day winds down. I can always count on my old pal Derek in my time of need. Me in the blue...

Love is the Answer. Stop Buying Stuff.

God bless the internet.

(Video courtesy of Matthew Silver)

This Week's Celebrity Encounters

This week, my brother met Mike Mills from R.E.M.

My pal Derek met Sgt. Slaughter.

I'm not sure who had the more awesome celebrity encounter.

In other news, the new Billy Joe Shaver album is out this week and the title track is fantastic!

And I met Billy Joe Shaver one time. So there.