From Sweet Pickles to Breaking Bad

Remember the League of Extraordinary Bloggers? It's been a while, huh? Specifically, it's been a while since I've actually written a post on a League topic. But the League is back and so am I. This week's topic -- current obsessions.

As is likely the case with many collectors of stuff, this is right up my alley as I tend to embrace my addictive personality and move from one obsession to another.

Let's start with...

1. Sweet Pickles books

When I was a kid, I had a majority of these books but never the full set. We'd pick one up each week at the grocery store but missed a few along the way. More than thirty years later, I decided to fill in the gaps in this set and early next week, the last remaining book will arrive in my mailbox. My set of Sweet Pickles books will be complete.

[Image courtesy of]

This means I need something new to work on. Much to my wife's displeasure, I've considered trying to acquire every one of the...

2. Atari 2600 Games released in the U.S.

From what I've gathered, there were around four or five hundred games made (U.S. releases, at least) and I currently have about 125 of them. This could be a long and potentially expensive project which is enough to deter me a bit. Still, it's under consideration.

[Image courtesy of]

Other current obsessions?

3. Breaking Bad

I've never been one to jump on a bandwagon. In fact, the more people on a bandwagon, the further I usually stay away. Breaking Bad is a perfect example. For the past few years, everyone has talked about how awesome this show is but I've always held out on giving it a look. Thanks to the wonders of Netflix and a night to myself recently, I decided to give it a whirl and I was immediately hooked. I see some serious binge watching in my near future.

[Image courtesy of]

Last but not least in my current obsessions is one that's been going for a while...

4. Jason and the Scorchers

I've been a big fan of the Scorchers for several years and have copies of all of their studio albums in various formats. With a majority of their catalog is out of print, I've held off on picking up CD copies of the albums I have on vinyl...until now. I've grabbed one that I was missing and figure the other two won't be far behind. Then my vinyl can be retired to the shelf and reserved for the occasional evening with my record player.

[Image courtesy of]

So, yeah. There's all that.

Check out some of the other League obsessions over at Cool and Collected.

A Nerdy Chat About Game Shows

I recently had the pleasure of once again filling the fourth chair as I joined the Nerd Lunch crew for a chat about game shows.

In addition to our discussion of our favorite game shows and an intense round of Nerd Jeopardy, my cool crush on J.D. Roth was revealed yet again. Just a few days later, as I thumbed through an old issue of Teen Beat that I recently picked up, I was face to face with epitome of cool himself.

Thanks, as always, to the Nerd Lunch guys for allowing me to annoy their listeners. Check out Podcast 118 of Nerd Lunch for more!

Teen Beat: October 1986

In February of 2012, I embraced my past and revealed to the world that, yes, I once had a subscription to Teen Beat magazine. After spending many childhood hours flipping through my magazines, I've started picking up copies now and then when I see them on eBay for a reasonable price. Not too long ago, I picked up three more. Let's take a look at a few of the highlights from the first of those three -- this one from October 1986.

Before the days of DVD, Blu-Ray, and even the rack of VHS tapes at the store, a person couldn't just rush out and buy a copy of their favorite movie -- not at a decent price, at least. Options were limited to constantly renting the movie, maybe even hooking two VCRs together to dub your own copy, or dropping a ridiculous amount of cash for a personal copy of the film. For five lucky fans of Back to the Future, Teen Beat came to the rescue in 1986 with this "Foxy Giveaway."

Send a simple postcard and you were entered to win your very own copy of Back to the Future -- valued at $79.95! Yes, $79.95. I bought a copy at a garage sale last spring for a quarter.

Long before he was Michael Bluth, but not long after he was Derek Taylor, Jason Bateman was David Hogan. The popularity of the Hogan Family (aka Valerie's Family aka Valerie) left many young fans wondering one thing (according to Teen Beat, at least) -- what if Jason Bateman called me on the phone? Teen Beat provides the answer.

I love the caption connected with the color pin-up: "Here's how Jason would look chatting with you on the phone." There is no contest where the winner gets a personal call from Jason Bateman. But if you're curious, that's how he might look. Talking on the phone. Cuddling with an apple.

I once discussed my love for the New Monkees -- the mid-80s attempt to recreate a modern version of the original band from the 60s. Here in the news bits, we find that Columbia has plans in 1986 to "launch a nationwide talent search for four new moptops for a syndicated television show that'll get underway in 1987."

It would only be a matter of months before Larry, Dino, Marty, and Jared would taket he world by storm.
It was 1986 and one of the biggest events of the year was Hands Across America -- a May event intended to raise awareness of and benefit hunger. The idea was to have a chain of people stretched across the country holding hands -- hence, the name Hands Across America. Teen Beat shows us that this even was not just limited to the common man.

Now pardon me while I put on my Hands Across America button and listen to this song.

Everyone knows Take on Me by a-Ha -- probably one of the most popular songs to come from the 80s. In this issue of Teen Beat, the guys from a-Ha talk about each other's better qualities. Morten talks Pal and Mags. Pal talks Morten and Mags. Mags talks Pal and Morten.

This immediately reminded me of something else I had seen recently from another group of guys doing the same thing.

Yeah. That's from a One Direction CD that I may or may not have purchased a few weeks ago.

Um. I bought it for my kids.

Yeah! It's for my kids!

How about letters to Teen Beat from young readers? Specifically the one from Tammy who thought that Blair Underwood was Russell Simmons.

Krush Groove, folks. If you've never seen it, please fix this as soon as possible.
Last but not least is a pin-up of the Karate Kid and some guy with a beard. At least, that's how I saw this picture in 1986.

Today, of course, I recognize the face and name of Robert DeNiro who starred with Ralph Macchio in Cuba and His Teddy.

There's more Teen Beat goodness yet to come, but if you'd like to go back and revisit the issues I've previously covered, check out the links below.

Scientific Super Bowl XLVIII Predictions

I know approximately 822 people named Matt. Today, with Super Bowl XLVIII just hours away, one of these Matts and I took a few minutes from our afternoon to scientifically predict the outcome of today's big game.

Matt is a Packers fan and I am an Eagles fan so neither of us has any specific allegiance to the teams playing in today's game. We played a single round of Rock-Paper-Scissors and the winner picked which team he would represent -- the Denver Broncos or the Seattle Seahawks.

For the record, Matt won and chose the Broncos.

Round 1. Names in a hat.

Two pieces of paper were placed into a hat -- one for each team. One paper was drawn to reveal the predicted winner.

My wife pulled a paper from the hat predicting that Denver will win the Super Bowl.

Round 2. Electric football.

Plastic players representing each team were arranged on the field of my mid-80s electric football game (purchased on clearance at Wal-Mart for 8 dollars when I was a kid). I've often thought about getting rid of this game as it's large and not easy to store; however, the Super Bowl must be predicted accurately so year after year, it stays.

Since players just move randomly around the field when the game is turned on, the first player from either team to enter the correct end zone was declared the winner. Seattle was red. Denver was yellow.

Electric football predicted Denver will win.

Round 3. NES Tecmo Super Bowl.

A more accurate prediction of the big game could not come from any other method besides a four-quarter game of Tecmo Super Bowl.

After a solid fourth quarter effort by Denver that came up just short, Seattle won this contest.

So there you have it folks, the tests don't lie. Two of the three scientific predictors indicated that Denver will win this year's Super Bowl. Place your bets now that you have been properly informed.

Oh. And this guy will be the MVP.


Laugh Busters (NBC, 1984)

Anyone who is a collector has their own personal list of holy grail items. You know, the things they're looking for that if found could easily cause anything from significant blood pressure issues to their children missing out on a college education. Some of my own holy grail items are ones that I had as a kid, others that I've never seen, and some that I've searched for well over ten years. This past week I came up with one of the five items that I've long considered a personal holy grail.

Back in February of 2011, I shared some details about the 1984 NBC Saturday morning preview special called Laugh Busters. While most other Saturday morning specials from the 80s are easy to come by these days, Laugh Busters has always been one that has never surfaced. Unfortunately for me, that was the one that I wanted more than any other. I had an audio copy of the special recorded the night it initially aired almost 30 years ago...but after ten years or more of searching for any sign of a video copy, I had always come up empty.

Until last week.

A recent post on FASTE verifying the existence of the short-lived Going Bananas inspired me to reignite my search. After a quick stop at (other than YouTube, my favorite place for finding hard-to-find videos), I found that a video of Laugh Busters had finally surfaced. A quick purchase negotiation later and a DVD arrived in my mailbox today.

You can read my previous post about Laugh Busters for a full recount of the special, but let me tell you, seeing video footage of this for the first time since it originally aired in 1984 was beyond exciting for me. I'll do my best to provide you with some brief highlights...

Before getting in to the show itself, let me tell you how cool it was that the entire original broadcast was included on this DVD...commercials and all!


Shows just don't use bumpers anymore, do they?


Now for the actual Laugh Busters's a look at the "director", D.W., and his assistant.


Representing Going Bananas is the recently-departed James Avery.


And then there's the evil Gargamore. Not Gargamel (from the Smurfs) but Gargamore O'Dette.


Lots of celebrity appearances including Thom Bray from Riptide, Alfonso Ribeiro from Silver Spoons, Danny Cooksey from Diff'rent Strokes, KITT from Knight Rider, Roxanna Banana from Going Bananas, and the entire Kidd Video band.


Several bad character costumes can be found in this special -- not far removed from what you might find at a nearby amusement park -- including Spider-Man and Alvin and the Chipmunks.


Mr. T shows up. Sort of. At least an arm that is supposed to be Mr. T's shows up.


The special ends with a dance number that I didn't remember and didn't expect at all! Look closely and you'll see everyone from Danny Cooksey and Alfonso Ribeiro to the Kidd Video band all movin' and groovin' in honor of a successful Saturday morning special!

I realize that Laugh Busters is likely not considered a "holy grail" item in your eyes...but you have to realize something. My brother and I recorded this special onto an audio cassette the night it originally aired. That tape has survived all these years, most other Saturday morning specials have surfaced at one time or another, but Laugh Busters has always been a missing piece. I couldn't be more thrilled that this hole has been filled.

Now the search continues for the Mister Rogers' Neighborhood of Make-Believe playset and an adult-sized Beastie Bucks shirt.