The Chicago Cubs Got a Trophy

Among the many random topics I’ve written about over the years here on FASTE, I’ve occasionally mentioned my love of baseball and the Chicago Cubs.

With the Cubs becoming World Series champions last night, I keep feeling like I needed to chime in here with something. Maybe some thoughts and opinions on the team, the season, and the victory? But really…what could I say that wasn’t already being said countless times over by other writers? History made. Curses broken. Joy abundant across Cubs Nation.

So rather than hammering out the same commentary as every other Cubs fan with a keyboard, let me share with you this…

Last night, in the eighth inning of Game 7 – arguably one of the most exciting games in baseball history – the Indians tied the game…

…and I went to bed.

Seriously.

After enduring so many throughout my forty years, I simply couldn’t stand to watch yet another Cubs collapse. Especially not when they were this close.

With Cleveland's game-tying home run, a feeling of utter sadness started to take over as I thought about one of my kids. After every Cubs win this postseason, my six-year-old daughter has eagerly asked me, “Did they get a trophy?” I was going to have to tell her in the morning that they hadn’t gotten a trophy…and they wouldn’t be getting one.

I’d had enough.

I turned off my phone to avoid any notifications, texts, and phone calls. I left my Cardinal-fan/Cubs-supporting wife in the living room to continue watching what was sure to be another disappointment for Cubs fans.

And I went to bed.

Shedding my Cubs hat and my sweatshirt, I turned the lights out and tuned in to Nick at Nite for some background noise aimed at distracting myself from a feeling of total deflation.

Friends was on. It was the one where the animal control lady comes looking for Ross and his pet monkey.

This attempt at all-out avoidance was deliberate. And it lasted approximately two minutes.

I changed the channel to FOX and continued watching the same Cubs team I'd spent countless hours watching throughout the season.


Where were you when the Cubs won the World Series? I was dancing around my TV-lit bedroom in my boxers.

. . .

I stayed up until 3am watching post-game celebrations and commentary.

I did my best to keep up with the late-night texts, phone calls, and social media posts from fellow fans and well-wishers as we celebrated the Cubs championship from various locations across the country.

But best of all, I woke up this morning and got to tell my kids that the Cubs had won.

And, yes, they gave them a trophy.

Who Do You Love? The Red Johnnies!

In the fall of 1992, a few high school friends chatted at the end of Spanish class. It was the end of the school day on this mid-autumn afternoon and the young men talked about their plans for after school. The most unfortunate of the friends had to report to his job at a local apple orchard and he expressed his discontent with a few choice words.

"I gotta go pick some effing red johnnies or whatever."

Red johnnies? Wait. What? There's red delicious apples. And there's jonathan apples. But red johnnies?

Hilarity ensued.

. . .

It was early winter. A year later. It was time for teams to sign up for intramural basketball and the same group of friends -- now seniors -- considered forming a team. While some had played basketball in grade school and others had taken part in their share of pick-up games, none really had a significant amount of basketball talent. But that wasn't a problem. They weren't out to win. They were out to entertain.

All they needed was a name.

Since "Sexy Seniors" was already taken by a group of football players looking for something to do during the off-season, the friends referred back to that day in Spanish class when their (now graduated) co-hort uttered one of the most ignorant phrases ever spoken by an after-school apple picker.

The Red Johnnies were born.


. . .

Intramural basketball games were played during the school's daily lunch period. Those scheduled to play typically had to scarf down a lunch in record time and hurry to the gymnasium. In the gym, two games were played simultaneously as the four goals on the sides of the main court were lowered allowing two smaller "full court" games to be played.

The Red Johnnies record was not impressive. In fact, they only tallied a single victory all season. What they did accomplish, however, was to draw record crowds from the school cafeteria to the gymnasium to be entertained by slap-stick antics and laughable basketball.

 

The Red Johnnies had a solid fanbase and recognized them appropriately at halftime of each game with gifts of gratitude for their dedication. Typical rewards to the Red Johnny faithful included individual boxes of cereal and the highly collectible Red Johnnies commemorative plates (flimsy red plastic plates signed by members of the team).

The Johnnies were a force to be reckoned with as they would frequently draw calls from the referee/social studies teacher for flagrant fouls (kneeling on all fours to trip an opposing player running backwards) and hanging on the rim too long after a monster jam (apparently the rules of basketball do not allow a player to use the net to pull themselves to rim where they hang waiting on a lob pass to be "dunked").


For two ten-minute halves, a few times a week, cheers rung through the school gymnasium:

"WHO DO YOU LOVE?!?!"

"RED JOHNNIES!"

"WHO DO YOU LOVE?!?!"

"RED JOHNNIES!"

Mid-season, the Red Johnnies picked up a top recruit from the school's basketball team after he either quit or was removed from the team for general assery.

Either way, the magical debut season of the Red Johnnies continued but soon drew to a close.

For now.

. . .

The century had just changed. Y2K had arrived.

Some college friends toyed with the idea of forming an intramural basketball team. Among the newly-formed team of eight, some had played basketball in high school and others had taken part in their share of pick-up games, but none really had a significant amount of basketball talent.

This didn't hold them back. All they needed was a name.

One player on the team recalled his days playing for the Red Johnnies. The antics. The fun. The mediocre basketball skills.

The Red Johnnies were reborn.


Sporting their $20 reversible jerseys -- much nicer than the cheap t-shirts worn by every other team in the league -- the Red Johnnies took the court by storm every week for half a semester. There was no clowning around for this team as the Red Johnnies notched an impressive two victories in their comeback season.


Off the court, they celebrated each game with enthusiasm.

Win or lose. They celebrated.


One member of the Red Johnnies even spent halftime of one game celebrating at Marty's -- a bar across the street from the rec center -- before returning for a dominant second-half performance.

As the season drew to an end, the Red Johnnies were honored with an award. Nobody is quite sure what this award was, nor is there any record as to what was documented on the plaque being lifted high above their heads.


All that's known is that the plaque was borrowed from a wall in the building where one of the Johnnies lived and it served as a token of gratitude to these brave and courageous young men -- the original and the new -- whose presence on the basketball court has never been matched to this day.

They're an inspiration to us all.

Long live the Red Johnnies.

Record Sale 2016

Since 2011, I've helped out with a record sale that benefits a local non-profit organization. The director of the non-profit changed a few years ago so there was no sale that year and last year I was not able to help out. So it's been a while since I've had the pleasure of rooting through boxes of donations coming from random basements around the area.

There are two stages of the record sale that I help with -- both of which I enjoy for entirely different reasons. The preparation stage, leading up to the sale, involves sorting through hundreds of records, CDs, and general garbage donated to the cause. In doing so, the potential for treasure lurks in the bottom of each mold-stenched box.

Then there's the sale itself where I get to watch as dudes in hoodies and Converse All-Stars wake up early on a Saturday morning to get their hands on records that they can't turn down for a buck each.

In all fairness, I had on a hoodie and a pair of All-Stars at the sale. And there were women there, too.


But really, it's tons of fun to see the random selection of titles that shoppers collect while they try their hardest to be cool and keep from tapping their toes to Sheena is a Punk Rocker playing from the speaker system.

The variety is fascinating.

I see you there with your hipster haircut holding that Lionel Richie album with the cover facing you so no one will notice. Don't think for a second that I don't know you're going straight back to your campus apartment to give Dancing on the Ceiling everything you've got.

But again, I'm including myself in this crowd. The only difference is that I did most of my shopping ahead of time and I take pride in my eclectic tastes. Here's a glance at this year's haul including Ann Corio Presents 'More How to Strip For Your Husband.'

Please don't take offense, ladies. I'm just trying to get my wife interested in record collecting. :)


Then the CDs. In previous years, records have been a dollar and CDs were two. This time around, everything was a buck which gave me a green light to get random.


Sesame Street and Iron Maiden bought in the same lot.

Another successful record sale in the books.

10 Items Packed For Camp Pinewood

The Pop Culture League (formerly the League of Extraordinary Bloggers) is back and I'm finally getting around the chiming in on a topic. This week's League topic is "Listicular Fortitude: Top Ten..."


A top ten, huh?

Records? Baseball players? TV theme songs?

Nah. How about this.

THE TOP 10 ITEMS PACKED FOR SUMMER CAMP BY THE UNIDENTIFIED CAMPER IN THE OPENING OF THE 1985 MICHAEL J. FOX TV MOVIE 'POISON IVY'


The movie opens as some random kids packs his bags for Camp Pinewood while his mom bellows orders from elsewhere in the house.

Here goes.

10. Walkman. You remember these pieces of yellow plastic that played low-quality music into your ears.


9. Water gun. This was clearly no Super Soaker.


8. TV. It didn't fit in the bag. Too bad.


7. Comics. Not Tom Sawyer.


6. A dog. Because the family pet wouldn't be missed at all.


5. Nutso. Not Great Expectations.


4. Candy. Not Vitamin C.


3. Candy. Not stationary.


2. Tapes. Cyndi Lauper. Billy Idol. Prince. Thompson Twins. Go-Gos.


1. Chix. Not Treasure Island.


You're welcome, Internet.

. . .

Check out other Top Tens from around the League by visiting the comments section of this week's post at Cool and Collected.

FASTE Notes

After a summer full of daily posts here on FASTE, a short hiatus was a no-brainer. But here we go again.

Refreshed and ready to continue archiving the insignificant.

Sparing you the details of work stress and my kids' rec league soccer seasons, here's a quick rundown of the past few weeks.

. . .

There is a beautiful human being somewhere on this planet of ours who has been uploading all of the Kid N Play cartoon episodes to YouTube.


At a time when we're facing daily violence in the news and we're a handful of weeks away from choosing between two semi-polished turds to lead our country, this reminds me that it's still a beautiful world.

. . .

At the end of the summer, I read Ruthless -- a book by Jerry Heller who was best known as the manager of N.W.A. and co-founder or Ruthless Records.


A few weeks after I finished the book, Jerry Heller died.

If you've ever written a book, I suggest you do everything in your power to prevent me from reading it.

. . .

Back in the spring of 2013, I contributed to a Kickstarter campaign backing a film documenting Graffiti Rock -- a one-episode hip-hop dance show from 1984.


Over three years later, there have been no updates from producer (and original Graffiti Rock host) Michael Holman and (obviously) a final product has yet to be produced.

Recently, a message was finally posted by Mr. Holman stating that shipping would begin within two weeks.

That was three weeks ago.

Hope you're enjoying my 25 bucks, Mr. Holman.

. . .

NIL8, a long-time Illinois-based punk band and one of my all-time favorites, has a few dates scheduled for October, as usual. Hobgoblinspookadelic, you know.


The buzzing rumor mill is suggesting that Eric and Lance (former guitarist and drummer from back in the day when I first listened to NIL8 in college) will be on stage for these dates.

I wonder if I could grow my mid-90s hair back between now and late October.


. . .

The Cubs are good, everybody. Really good. And I'm not quite sure how to handle this.


And just to be clear, I proclaimed my fandom prior to the season so despite the opinions of some self-righteous sports fans, I'm okay to cheer for the Cubs in the playoffs this fall.

Seriously though, I've been a Cubs fan since I was a kid. Have I ever talked about that here?

I like to think I've been a little anti-establishment since a young age. In 1982, the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series. Kool & the Gang's Celebration played ad nauseam. With St. Louis being the closest baseball city to my hometown, everyone was Cardinals-crazy.

Everyone but me. I wanted to be different.

I didn't just want to be different, I wanted to be the opposite of everyone around me.

So in the fall of 1982 -- at the age of six -- I became a fan of the Chicago Cubs.

. . .

When I was in college, a friend of mine put together a homespun soundtrack to Ferris Bueller's Day Off (thanks, Napster). You see, as surprising is it may seem, there has never been an officially released FBDO soundtrack ... until now.

La-La Land Records did it. Finally. A real, honest to God, Ferris Bueller soundtrack.


Despite what I may have already owned compliments of my friend's bootleg, the official version is clean, crisp, and complete with the film score and some fantastically detailed liner notes.

Now I just need to figure out a way to play Track 31 -- Celebrated Minuet -- every time I step into my bathroom.


. . .

Hey, gang. The League is back!

You may recall the many posts here on FASTE that were based on topics from an open group known as the League of Extraordinary Bloggers. Well, Brian over at Cool and Collected has resurrected the League (under a slightly different name) and I couldn't be more excited! I haven't had a chance to chime in on any of the topics yet, but I've loved reading the posts of those who have.


If you're interested in general pop culture nerdery, I highly recommend checking out the League posts. Your best bet is to start out with the topic posts at Cool and Collected or keep an eye on Twitter.

. . .

I may have taken a break from this site over the past few weeks, but I've certainly kept up with my need to dig up random junk from thrift stores and online outlets. I could bore you with the titles of the random items I've picked up for a quarter here and fifty cents there, but let's just take a quick look at the highlights.

The Baseball Bunch was one of my childhood favorites -- a show hosted by Hall-of-Famer Johnny Bench which included many of my childhood heroes like Pete Rose, Ozzie Smith, and Gary Carter. I finally pulled the trigger on a bargain-priced copy of the Baseball Bunch Fun Book but a few weeks later the rain turned to a downpour. A few years ago, I had copies of the three Kool-Aid-sponsored Baseball Bunch VHS tapes. For whatever reason, I recorded them to a digital format and sold them off for profit -- something I've kind of regretted ever since.

Typically priced at 15-20 bucks per tape, the stars aligned recently and I was able to pick up all three tapes (in separate purchases) within one week for a total less than I'd pay for just one of the three titles.


Along similar lines, back in college I sold off some of my childhood stuff thinking that I needed money for beer, pizza, and concert tickets more than I wanted to hang on to my memories. Again, actions I've regretted. One such example of items I sold was my collection of Marvel Secret Wars figures and accessories...

...including the Tower of Doom...

...which I recently reacquired. (Rock, Hulk, and Velma not included)


Remember Fun House? It was a Saturday morning game show for kids that was a pretty elaborate rip-off of Double Dare.


After being a part of a conversation about Fun House on The Nerd Lunch Podcast quite some time ago, the topic came up again on Twitter recently which led to a mention of the NES version of the game.

A Buy-It-Now and one week later...well...you know.


I have no self-control.

Speaking of which, I bought this LP recently, too.


Truth told, I bought this for two reasons: 1.) I watched Slim Goodbody shows as a kid and have one of his other LPs. It was for a good price, so why not? 2.) My buddy Elvis looked like Slim Goodbody when he was younger and I think that's amazing.


And last but not least. The big one.

Having spent the past several years researching and documenting the life and career of Fred Rogers through NeighborhoodArchive.com, there are a few pieces of Mister Rogers memorabilia that have come to be my "Neighborhood holy grails." Once such item has been the mid-80s Mister Rogers' Neighborhood record player. I've seen it twice -- one owned by David Newell (aka Mr. McFeely) which was shown on the Speedy Delivery documentary and the other in possession of the Fred Rogers Company.

I had resigned myself to the fact that I'd never come up with one of these for my own collection. But then there it was.

Sparing you the details, another holy grail in now in hand.