The CDP Worldwide Mix-Tape Trade Retrospectivus.

Today marks the halfway point in the CDP Worldwide Mix-Tape Trade 11, and to celebrate, I wanted to take a quick, fun, selfish, borderline-masturbatory look back at the previous 10 Trades over the last 11 years. If you ever participated in a Trade and sent something my way, you’ll probably be included too.

And that includes a lot of people. Over 100, actually. And of those 100-some people, over 200 unique Mix-Tapes have been created and sent off to readers around the globe. Don’t believe me? Check this out:

 photo DEC0574F-E4E1-4A95-90F4-0E605950AEE4_zpsnaixbetp.jpg

I had to climb a stepladder to take this picture. Here is nearly every Mix I’ve been sent since we started doing this in 2007. It’s a library onto itself. A vast collection down every mainstream and obscure rabbit hole of music from every corner of the globe since the advent of recording. Rarities. Entire discographies. K-Pop supergroups. It’s all here.

Just as importantly, what’s also in these Mixes are the personalities of their creators. With each Mix comes pages of explanation: What specific tracks mean to specific people, how they showed up in certain landmark moments of their lives, and what they hope the listener gets out of their carefully-curated playlists.

Most of the time, there is a theme assigned to Mix-Tape Trades. These have included:

Trade 2 (February ’08) – Love & Sex
Self-explanatory. It was for Valentine’s Day!

Trade 3 (June ’08) – Cover Songs
Self-explanatory.

Trade 4 (October ’08) – Catchphrase
Each person involved in the Trade also got to submit a phrase that would be the personal theme of a random participant. Some catchphrases include ‘Superman isn’t brave,’ ‘Misery loves company,’ and ‘That’s why I don’t drink gin.’

Trade 5 (March ’09) – The Top 10…Of Everything
Each participant got to turn their Mix into a countdown of whatever songs and whatever theme they wanted. I, for example, counted down the saddest songs I’ve ever heard. In tune, I only listened to it once, because it was the most depressing shit that has ever been digitally encoded.

Trade 6 (September ’09) – Six Degrees
This was a collection of six ‘mini-themes,’ including ‘Guilty Pleasure’ and ‘Parental Advisory.’ Each participant got to pick any theme (or combination thereof) they wanted.

Trade 7 (March ’10) – Your New Favorite Band
This was a chance for each participant to introduce someone to their ‘New Favorite Band.’ I usually give away prizes for every Mix-Tape Trade by random draw, but for this one I went with whatever Mix convinced me that I was listening to my ‘New Favorite Band.’

Trade 8 (August ’10) – Three Little Words
Any three little words will do.

Trade 9 (November ’11) – The End
It’s over. Or, at least I thought it was over.

And the artwork! A ridiculous landscape of creativity. Hand-drawn covers. Original photographs. Scrapbooks. I’ve seen it all. Here are just a few of my favorites:

 photo 8E07A605-7316-435B-BA70-22E033962784_zpsuqrqlbrs.jpg

 photo 144BCA94-3D8A-4DE6-B4B6-CE8CBDC576F6_zpsfz1oq5y0.jpg

 photo EB7F84F2-0031-4AF4-804B-3775FF5FE1D1_zpskuerbrh8.jpg

 photo F722A3F7-83BE-4B55-A190-6278C87C261C_zps3x0hrgfg.jpg

Ben (Killer Sandbox) does a fantastic job every time. Literally every time (more on that later). The combination of original artwork, photography, design and great songs make me envious whenever a new Mix shows up in my mailbox.

 photo 289831AA-358A-4408-967D-241BE166479E_zpst8lx19wf.jpg

 photo 2E7C6EC4-86F3-4895-8009-EBDC775017BF_zps1hf08csd.jpg

 photo B28A4AB3-7E45-47EB-97EE-975E90ECD32D_zpsradmejoh.jpg

Speaking of ridiculously talented, Levi Greenacres is another rare combination of art, music and love (the man is a phenomenal tattoo artist and author after all). In addition to hand-drawn, laminated covers, we also get copious autobiographical liner notes. Anyone who gets Levi in the Trade is guaranteed to get something great.

 photo A9E1B785-9AE4-460E-ADB6-591B83437BC0_zpslvldtr9n.jpg

 photo 64253184-7851-48BC-8F61-79A0DB6146E3_zps1wpazrrx.jpg

Mix-Tape Trade OG Emily Mills not only sends out great albums with great artwork, but she’ll also send you her traditional end-of-year playlist if you’re really lucky.

 photo AEE3442E-5E7F-4A41-9A98-3B0783995412_zps2vjcguao.jpg

Heather and Fiona, another pair of Trade OG’s, once sent out scrapbook-influenced liner notes to lucky recipients.

 photo 754DD98B-E17F-4AEC-9084-F83A700147AF_zpswcsxlwmv.jpg

And I couldn’t forget Carly’s Lost-inspired ‘Man of Science/Man of Faith’ Mixes from 2010. We…were a little Lost obsessed around here back in the day.

 photo 31FF7624-D013-44E3-9047-A91C234931F5_zpssxtsfwaq.jpg

And no CD collection is complete without a watercolor squid/octopus thing drawn by Caitlin. It’s so cute!

So, out of 11 Trades, we have had dozens of people participate in just one or two, never to be seen again. And that’s awesome. But right now I want to focus on the lifers. The people whom, without them, the Mix-Tape Trade could not have existed for this long. Allow me to introduce you to…The 5-Timer’s Club.

5 Trades – Levi G. (Levi will become a 5-Timer following Trade 11. The crested jacket is in the mail.)

5 Trades – Bruce K.
5 Trades – Nicole H.
5 Trades – Heather N.

6 Trades – Jesse R. (Jesse will become a 6-Timer following Trade 11.)
6 Trades – Rissa D. (Rissa will become a 6-Timer following Trade 11.)
6 Trades – Caitlin R.
6 Trades – Brian I.

7 Trades – Mike I. (Mike will become a 7-Timer following Trade 11.)
7 Trades – Josh T.
7 Trades – Fiona N.

8 Trades – Scott F.
8 Trades – Emily M.

And finally, here are the people who have participated in every Mix-Tape Trade in CDP history. They are the very adequately-named 11-Timer’s Club:

Ben J.
Carly C.
Celia Z.
Mike H.
Sherry J.

Thank you.

 photo 16C3C3BB-C533-4505-A134-EAD267D3D14E_zpslfi7vamg.jpg

So, here’s me and my Mix this time around. I’m going the digital route this year (Spotify in particular), but I’m also sending out a physical copy to my recipient. Why? See everything above. Getting this stuff in the mail rules. It’s the whole point.

Again, the deadline is Monday, June 25. Any Mixes sent my way are included in a drawing to win a free, signed copy of my latest book, Neon Pines Mall. Yeah, I got a new book out!

Alright, have a good week. Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your day.

 

The CDP Worldwide Mix-Tape Trade 11 Drawing.

It’s go time, kids!

After extensive laboring and building one of those spinny-wheels with the Bingo balls in them, we have drawn the 15 pairings for the CDP Worldwide Mix-Tape Trade 11. Everyone who signed up has someone that they will create a Mix-Tape for, and in tune, they have someone who will make one for them.

The pairings are as follows:

Ryan Z will be making a Mix for Carly C.
Mike H will be making a Mix for Jessi H.
Mike I will be making a Mix for Nilajah H.
Ben J will be making a Mix for Sam W.
Levi G will be making a Mix for Alissa O.
Corbin U will be making a Mix for Ryan Z.
Celia Z will be making a Mix for Levi G.
Sam W will be making a Mix for Rissa D.
Alissa O will be making a Mix for Jesse R.
Sherry J will be making a Mix for Corbin U.
Carly C will be making a Mix for Mike I.
Nilajah H will be making a Mix for Sherry J.
Rissa D will be making a Mix for Mike H.
Jessi H will be making a Mix for Ben J.
Jesse R will be making a Mix for Celia Z.

Wonderful. Here’s what we all do next:

1. I will be sending a Facebook message out to everyone today (6/11) in a group (you’re all friends with me already or on Messenger), reminding them who’s creating a Mix-Tape for whom. We’re doing this step through Messenger this time around; it’s quicker and cleaner than e-mail. If you have an issue with this for some reason or are having issues, just let me know and I’ll take care of it.

2. It will then be up to the recipient of the Mix-Tape to contact the creator and give them their physical mailing address or best destination (depending on if you plan on physically mailing them a Mix or sending a streaming one). You can do this right in the FB group message I create, or you can contact them separately if you wish.

3. Once you get the mailing address (or relevant contact info) of the person you’re sending a Mix-Tape to, MAKE IT AND SEND IT!

I cannot stress this part enough: It’s an intimate group and everyone has a buddy; it would really suck if someone gets left out because you decided to go deadbeat on them. The deadline is to have ALL MIX-TAPES MAILED OUT BY MONDAY, JUNE 25. If someone gets left out I’ll feel personally responsible, so please don’t make an ass out of me or I’ll publicly shame you here on the CDP.

4. Once you receive your Mix-Tape, sound off in the comments section or share on social media so we all know the status of everyone’s packages (if you’d like). Half the fun is sharing the experience with everyone involved. I’ve been blown away time and time again by the amount of work and creativity that has gone into so many of the Mixes I’ve received over the years.

5. If you’re having a problem contacting anyone, have a question or anything else goes wrong, contact me any way you’d like and I’ll sort it out. I’m pretty neat like that. Remember though that people are busy, so give them a day or two to answer you back, but let me know if it’s taking a ludicrous amount of time.

6.
I always mention this (and I’ll mention it again when I contact you), but if you’re looking for an easy way to thank me for inventing something as awesome as the CDP Worldwide Mix-Tape Trade, I would love a copy of your Mix. My mailing address is as follows:

theCDP
PO Box 865
Sun Prairie, WI
53590

Any mixes that make it to CDP Headquarters will get a public thank you and are eligible for a SUPER SECRET AWESOME PRIZE THAT MAY OR MAY NOT BE A SIGNED COPY OF MY NEW BOOK, NEON PINES MALL. Simple as that! Send one my way!

You should be receiving your instructional information by the end of the day today (Monday). So get out there, create a rad Mix-Tape and send it off to your partner by MONDAY, JUNE 25!

The CDP Worldwide Mix-Tape Trade 11.

Get hyped.

For the first time in over two years, the CDP Worldwide Mix-Tape Trade has returned for the eleventh time!

Since it’s been a while, here’s a reset on how this works:

1. If you want to participate in the CDP Worldwide Mix-Tape Trade, just let me know by Friday, June 8 at 10pm Central Time. No exceptions. You can do this in the comments below, my Facebook page, Instagram or through Twitter or E-mail. Just tell me you’re in, that’s it!

2. On Monday June 11, right here on the CDP, everyone will be randomly assigned a participant who they will create a Mix-Tape for. I function as the middleman if you need any help contacting your recipient or have any questions.

3. Make a Mix-Tape and send it to your recipient by Monday, June 25. Pow.

Now, times have changed since the first time we did this, so you’re more than welcome to go the Streaming/Spotify/Google/iTunes route with your Mix if your recipient is able to receive it that way. HOWEVER, the spirit of the CDP Worldwide Mix-Tape Trade is to create a physical piece of media (usually a CD with artwork) and mail it out to your recipient. That’s the whole point of this thing. But again, whatever works best for you.

4. Just like last time, there is no theme for the CDP Worldwide Mix-Tape Trade 11. Make whatever you want, go whatever direction you want. It’s your call.

Okay, let’s do this. Sign up ASAP and enjoy your week. Names will be drawn and you will get further notification on Monday, June 11.

Neon Pines Mall.

 photo CoverLogoMockup_zpsbmsbg09j.jpg

Happy Birthday to me!

I know it’s been awhile, but I’m going to be brief. I have a present for you!

The new book is called Neon Pines Mall, and it’s available for FREE right here. It’s also above in the ‘Books’ section. Again, this is a free download for the eReader of your choice.

The print version is available right here. The cover looks dope, there’s lots of cool photographs (yeah, photographs!) and it looks great on a coffee table. Also above in the ‘Books’ section.

It’s retro, satirical, Pop Culture-saturated, short-attention-span, vaporwave, nihilist absurdity. I don’t want to explain it any more than that. Don’t think about it too hard. You’ll either think it’s funny or you won’t, but either way, it’s on me.

Thank you. Later.

The Dumbest Thing I Ever Bought.

 photo CDPCatGenie_zpsnljvvxjx.jpg

Since 2002, CDP Headquarters has been at the forefront of Cat-Related Technology (hereby known as CAT TECH for the remainder of this essay). From complicated water bowls, to robotic litter boxes, to food more expensive and delicious than my own, never let it be said that we spare expense for the sake of our feline companions.

Our spoiled, entitled, Millennial feline companions who have never once said thank you.

I have a vivid memory of a litter box the Missus purchased in 2007. It had a motorized rake inside of it that (when working properly) would gently collect waste into a side reservoir for simple, hands-off disposal. It was on a timer and had a motion sensor that kept it from going off when the cats where inside of it, which would have permanently broke their tiny cat brains and ensured they never whizzed in a litter box again for the rest of their lives.

Problem was that no part of this box worked correctly. The rake would begin its slow, sifting journey through the minefield of turds, only to inevitably get caught on a large piece of detritus. Instead of shutting off, the rake would just dig harder into the clump, shaking and building kinetic energy until FWIP! A scone-sized rock of shit would catapult itself completely out of the box, sometimes landing halfway across the basement floor. It took weeks before we pieced together what was happening. It was a sight to behold, I can assure you.

Around the same time, we bought a Bubbler-style (or Water Fountain for non-Wisconsinites) water bowl. The Internet told us that oxygenated water was better for a cat’s kidneys and BLEE BLAH BLOO, so we busted out the debit card and made it happen. The next morning, this is exactly what happened to me–

Broken. Water all over the kitchen floor. I think we’re on our 10th water bowl, because they continue to break. You know what usually doesn’t break? A bowl-style bowl with nothing attached and no humming motor that needs to be plugged in. You know. A bowl.

But hey, whatever. I want to do right by my pets and wife, so onward we trudge, endlessly looking for smarter ways to keep the cats healthy and to keep our hands from touching feces. It’s a battle worth fighting.

But there are limits. There is a line of sanity that can be crossed when it comes to CAT TECH. An Uncanny Valley where Futurism and Logic blur into a steamy gumbo of confusion. A 4th Dimension of blind devotion where reality begins to fade, leaving us only with questions and regret. “How did we get here? I only wanted to do the right thing.”

This brings me to the Cat Genie, the single dumbest thing I have ever bought.

Now, it’s unkind to throw the Missus under the bus here, but I need to state for the record that it was her idea to order the Cat Genie. Not specifically apropos to CAT TECH, the Missus has a long and storied history with purchasing stupid things on the Internet. I do, too, but from the moment the Cat Genie was drone-delivered to my doorstep by Amazon (I assume), the Gold Standard had been set. We had a winner. From that point forward, if a more ridiculous thing was to be brought into our home, it would have to be done on purpose, solely for the occasion of usurping the Cat Genie from its Throne of Preposterousness.

The Cat Genie is what happens when an ordinary litter box has sex with a Japanese Billionaire’s toilet. Its primary function is to dispose of waste in a neat, efficient manner, but in the most complicated, exorbitant way possible. Here’s how it works:

 photo CatGenieWashingMachine_zpseka8mrlq.jpg

After the cat craps, the entire thing whirs, heats up and starts rotating. Water and a cleaning solution saturate the bowl as the waste is raked out and sent into a reservoir where it is then flushed out through your water supply. The litter is actually tiny plastic granules that are cleaned during these cycles, which of course is the only litter you can use inside of Cat Genie. The cleaning solution is also proprietary, as you would assume. The machine (above) is enormous; larger than a Human Being Toilet and almost half the size of a washing machine.

Not only do you have to plug this into a power outlet, you need to hook it up to your water supply, which means it has to be next to a sink, toilet or washing machine. My wife did not know this until it was too late. Here were my live tweets from that evening:

11:02PM My wife, sight unseen, just bought a cat toilet. Like, one that flushes with water and stuff.
11:11PM Oh God, now she’s rooting through my toolbox. I’m having an anxiety attack. This dumbass toilet is going to be the downfall of our home.
11:14PM If I find that monstrosity next to the toilet in my bathroom, I’m moving out. I’m not making eye contact with my cat while we both poop.
11:14PM I’m afraid to go upstairs. Halp.
11:15PM Alright, I’m going up.
11:20PM Good news. She’s hooking it up to her toilet in the master bath…right next to our bed. I can already see me stepping into it one night.
11:21PM I love this woman with all my heart.

That’s right. This thing currently sits between the bed and bathroom in the master bedroom, latched onto our plumbing like some sort of leech-like tumor. Ever want a toilet next to your bed? A toilet that you couldn’t use? Well, sleep easy. I’ve got just what you need.

Well, that’s your fault,” you may say. “You should have known that your house wasn’t equipped for a product as futuristic and advanced as Cat Genie.” And you’d be right, which is why I say that this is the dumbest thing I have ever bought, not the worst product on the market*. I’m sure this meets the needs of millions of cat owners in America who are so fearful of litter and feline urine that a fuse blows out in their tender brains and they willfully plop down almost $600 to pretend none of this shit exists. I salute those people and hope they get the help they sincerely need.

So anyway, let’s recap. It needs a power supply. It needs a water supply. The litter is plastic, mandatory and costs $25 a box. The cleaning solution also costs $25 a box. By the way, the cleaning solution smells like jet fuel, and when heated up with the granules and cat shit, is about as palatable as a hoarder’s crawlspace. For about five minutes during the Salad Spinner-esque cleaning cycle, it’s louder than any appliance in your home. The plastic pellets are tracked everywhere. Oh, and the cats refuse to use it because it scares them, which is the only thing that really matters.

For me, it seemed like an open-and-shut case. This isn’t for us. Let’s return it. But the Missus does not give up. This is why I married her. You know what they say: “Never make fun of your wife’s choices, because you were one of them.” To this day, the Cat Genie sits in the Master Bedroom. The cats sometimes sleep inside of it. It’s never once been used for its intended purpose, although I’m personally becoming more and more tempted each day.

I like Technology. I like new devices and I like anything that will make my life easier. The Cat Genie did none of those things. But I like my wife and cats, so rest assured that this CAT TECH journey will never stop.

Maybe they’d use a bidet.

What’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever bought? Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your day.

 

(*Please do not sue me. I have so little.)

MST3K Power Rankings (Season 11).

 photo CDPMST3KTVLogo_zpshf7x1msq.jpg

PART I – THE ESSAY.

The above photo is of the television that currently resides in my home office. I inherited the cabinet from a great-grandmother. I have no idea how old it is, and I don’t care to find out, but it’s old. The smaller TV I stuffed inside of it is the first TV I ever owned. I watched Woodstock ’94 on it, and it miraculously still works. I spent an entire day retrofitting the cabinet, buying the antenna, setting up the Digital Conversion Kit and rediscovering how shitty it was to have lived in the tail-end of the Analog Era.

But I did it. It’s done. Amongst a home overflowing with 21st Century technology, I made a specific, calculated effort to resurrect an ancient technology from the grave, and make it my chief (or at least occasional) source of entertainment. But why?

First, the aesthetic is killer. Secondly (and most importantly), for Mystery Science Theater 3000.

A friend had told me that classic episodes of MST3K were airing on Comet TV, an analog channel that does not exist on DirecTV. My viewing options were to check out their online stream, or do all the wacky shit I described in the paragraph above. Admittedly, the first option was the more logical of the two, but my relationship with this show has never been logical.

The first time I saw MST3K, I was spending a Summer weekend at my cousin’s house, and I woke up to a rerun of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. It was 1992, and I was 10 years old. I did not grow up with cable at my own home, so this was the first opportunity I had to take it in. I remember where I was sitting in the living room. I remember where exactly in the episode I had tuned in. I remember all the jokes. I had absolutely no idea what the hell was going on, but I knew it was the best thing I had ever seen on TV.

 photo 2800C45B-84BD-4854-8137-0BCCABC5B677_zps6vhxnvik.jpg
(I can assure you that I had a great day; I just wasn’t comfortable smiling. This, to me, was like sitting on the Simpson’s couch. I’ll tell you anything you want about the tour if you wish to know.)

It’s become pleasant to me how many people’s first experiences with MST3K were the same. Something to remember about TV at the time was that you just sort of dropped in to whatever was showing on the channel you landed on. No Internet, no instant episode descriptions, not even a show title. For shows not blatantly obvious, you sometimes had to watch for a few minutes to even figure out what it was that you were seeing.

This seemed to work in MST3K‘s favor when it comes to nostalgia. So many people have told me the same story: They were flipping around, landed on MST3K, had no idea what was going on and instantly fell in love with it. I make the conscious decision to watch MST3K on a fuzzy analog TV now because it reminds me of how I used to watch it, and I like that feeling, even if I like the show on any conceivable medium presented to me. It’s like insisting on listening to your favorite band on vinyl when Spotify is irrefutably easier. This is all one of those rare instances where the element of certain surprise, anonymity and unexplainable surrealness benefited a television show. Well…sort of. To be more descriptive, it’s the kind of memory that creates a small, devoted cult of fans, but nowhere near enough to make the show as popular as it could have (or should have) been.

But hey, we have nothing to be sad about. It was this devoted cult of fans that saved the show from a post-Season 7 cancellation from Comedy Central and got 3 more seasons on the new (at the time) Sci-Fi Channel. We also got a feature film. It’s not unlike the audience response we saw with Community and Arrested Development years later.

Oh, and then just one other thing happened.

In 2016, the same devoted cult of fans pulled off the most successful Kickstarter campaign in the history of the Internet, raising nearly $7 million dollars and dragging MST3K back onto the air for an 11th Season, a full 18 years after it’s second cancellation.

 photo 0A61D3AB-E26D-467A-87DE-5E8F06531E6A_zpszduenrpr.jpg
(Here’s another cool shot of the Satellite of Love from the side. I took this. I was there.)

Of the myriad reasons why an 11th Season of MST3K was enough to blow my brain clear out of my butthole, there was just as much curiosity to see how it would do after being gone from the airwaves for so long. I mean, this is a show that went off the air without a single episode airing in HD. Never mind the new host and litany of new writers and performers, how would the films look? Is this a show that could decline in quality of enjoyment as a direct result of improved quality of presentation? Would the streaming, on-demand, bingeable, commercial-free world of Netflix actually make MST3K less palatable as a result? Is that even possible?

In short, not really. By all accounts, MST3K came back with a near-perfect 11th Season, and in a twist not predicted by even its biggest fans, the show appears to be more popular in 2017 than at any point in its history. I cannot overstate how crazy that is. This was set up beautifully to fail, and it succeeded and evolved in nearly every possible facet.

I’d be honest. I’d admit that a show I loved has lost its mojo. But it didn’t happen, even though my relationship with it has changed so much. I watch the new episodes on an HD screen in my living room whenever I want. I keep Wikipedia open on my phone in case I want to reference a joke that went over my head in real time. But it’s still as fun as when I watch the reruns on the ancient office TV and remember what it was like when there was so much more…mystery.

It’s just good, and it doesn’t matter how.

PART II – THE COLLECTION.

I don’t have the largest collection of MST3K memorabilia by any stretch; it was never my intent. But I did amass some weird merch over the years, and I would hold my collection up to anyone else’s in terms of randomness. Consider this my excuse to finally show it off, and you’re more than welcome to skip this section if you’d like. I just really want people to know I have MST3K stationary.

 photo 512307BF-95A1-4C4C-9B5D-BDF64D1FC1BC_zpsryprxvij.jpg
This is an enormous theatrical poster from MST3K: The Movie. I purchased this directly from the wonderful folks at Best Brains during my set tour in 1998.

 photo C236A766-4093-4045-B41D-0D3F2C15BE38_zpsne4zcvbv.jpg
Servo magnet. If you were a subscriber to Satellite News, you’d get a catalog in the mail every few months when stuff like this was available.

 photo 467D94B5-D306-4659-85BA-0FEEF458ADE4_zps2r1f5n1q.jpg
Logo magnet. For the record, I don’t mind the updated, Season 11 logo. They’re both fine.

 photo 80D66202-C1F6-49D0-95BD-F3272BEFF241_zps1yjgfwkg.jpg
Here’s a (dusty, sorry) Crow figurine that came with the 20th Anniversary Box Set. I keep it by my phone at work.

 photo D4993484-1C77-4EF9-A080-50CD68352659_zps6jlnbkms.jpg
Mug (front).

 photo FCA9A47E-CD47-458B-B28C-E1B18CCA6CB8_zpsj1gbscpl.jpg
Mug (butt).

 photo 6F759E91-0372-4EF0-8675-7FEC23F8BFD9_zpsgyrneyzv.jpg
Gypsy, Crow and logo pins. Super punk rock.

 photo 16A8E6E2-8FC4-437B-B7B6-87AAA75FC8D2_zps8ajohajf.jpg
Mousepad. I use this mousepad; I’m using it right now. Which explains why it’s so worn.

 photo A89C0E8C-2907-4BD2-A4D2-2ABE3110875A_zpsxsdp9ioq.jpg
This is a life-size, fully-working Tom Servo replica. It sits atop the retro TV, and over the years it’s become a place to hang my work credentials. It’s the only ‘unauthorized’ piece in the collection, as I bought it from a guy who makes replicas for a living. It’s a nice conversation starter.

 photo 1A409349-35CE-4011-B964-016A62D35FF8_zpsdzek64lk.jpg
Various books written by MST3K folk, including the much-revered Amazing Colossal Episode Guide. When the Internet was in its infancy, the ACEG was the MST3K Bible for fans. When you would quiz another MSTie in a chat room, you had to specify that they weren’t allowed to used the ACEG. I’m old; screw you.

 photo 2A098B38-832E-41C9-A83A-B8D6054E94FC_zps2txwnchv.jpg
Mike Nelson-signed copy of Death Rat! I’m unaware of anyone who purchased this book but me.

 photo ACE007E0-3104-4F8F-91D5-A1E5F8D64727_zpssyixxrx7.jpg
Tin 20th Anniversary Edition DVD Box Set. The DVDs are stuffed tight into this thing, and it’s a bitch to take them out without damaging the cardboard and artwork. So I basically just bought it and never watched it.

 photo 30487D19-1B58-4AFA-9F65-73964993EA7F_zpsbdstlr2i.jpg
Static decal. Put it on your car or pet; it’s fun!

 photo 36A445B7-58F0-4156-9F7E-7355DF90EA75_zpsoy3acsqa.jpg
Stationary. Yeah, it’s MST3K stationary. Never used, of course. To be more specific, it’s a pack of Post-It notes with the graphics on it.

 photo D12B049E-EC19-4FB4-8A2F-4453C6610DFF_zps1fgsufxy.jpg
You want music? How about both editions of Clowns In The Sky?

 photo 699B50A1-B625-4897-A282-E0A2136EFD6C_zpszj6nqobe.jpg
It’s really all worth it for the moon logo on the CD. I hadn’t opened these in years until I snapped this photo, and I was like, “Wow, that looks really cool.” I have no idea when I bought these; I assumed I ordered them directly through the studio, like with everything else.

 photo B5DF80E2-34B1-4CE8-A61F-BCA5025E9071_zpsthubmxjp.jpg
You want VHS tapes? I got VHS tapes. Here’s a truncated example of the Rhino VHS releases. I purchased nearly all of them from Suncoast Video back in the day, with the exception of a few rare ones that I got directly through Rhino. And yeah, that’s a copy of Jack Frost in the lower right-hand corner.

 photo A65ED266-9152-4ACA-BD07-7DA57C2F6DD2_zpst67xkrzy.jpg
Here are a handful of rare, yet still ‘official’ MST3K releases. Assignment: Venezuela, Mr. B’s Lost Shorts, Poopie II, The Last Dance: Raw and the MST Scrapbook. I have no idea if these were ever available at stores; I bought them directly through the studio, and there are no bar codes or artwork.

 photo 05958423-3D5A-44A7-867E-3A4D3A81A1DE_zpsz2o95h2a.jpg
Finally, a small piece of the shows I recorded directly from TV. Yeah, I was one of those kids. I have nearly every episode dubbed directly from television, most with the original commercials still intact. The above photo is just a handful of the entire storage bin I have full of VHS tapes that represent the entirely of the series through Season 10. Labels printed by me, of course.

I could collect more stuff. A lot more. Especially now. But- and this sounds incredibly contradictory- I don’t consider myself a collector. I don’t go on eBay and I’m not interested in what you have. I just buy what I want when I want to. Anyway, thanks for humoring me.

PART III – THE COUNTDOWN.

And now, here are my Top 10 episodes of Season 11. There are 14 total S11 episodes, but since I didn’t have a definitive ‘worst’ episode (they were all enjoyable), I just set the cut at 10 and went from there.

10. Starcrash (1106)
9. Yongary (1109)
8. Time Travelers (1103)
7. The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t (1113)
6. At the Earth’s Core (1114)
5. The Beast of Hollow Mountain (1105)
4. Wizards of the Lost Kingdom (1110)
3. Carnival Magic (1112)
2. Avalanche (1104)
1. Cry Wilderness (1102)

I’ll say no more, except for this. If you have never seen MST3K, or were a casual fan that hasn’t checked out the reboot yet, do me a favor and just watch Cry Wilderness. It’ll tell you everything you need to know about whether the show is for you or not. I’d sincerely place it in the Top 5 best episodes of the entire series, hands-down.

Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your day.

Garbage Day!

Home ownership is, for the most part, cool. So is Garbage Day.

It might sound weird, but I kinda like Garbage Day. First off, my anxiety surrounding all things Cleanliness is quelled as a week’s worth of detritus is purged from my bins. There’s also considerably more dog shit in said bins as there was before we owned a dog, so the quicker it can get to the end of my driveway, the better.

I remember watching an episode of Obsessed on the Discovery Channel, where they profiled people suffering from various types of OCD-related behavior and Anxiety. There was this one dude who refused to sleep in his bed, because he made it so perfectly that he didn’t want to disrupt it (to be fair, it was a perfectly-made bed). He also threw every piece of garbage directly into the dumpster, so nothing sat in his (in-house) garbage cans.

Damn,” I said to myself while watching this guy tiptoe around his house, “this is exactly what I do.” I never watched Obsessed after that episode, but I still take most of my stuff straight to the dumpster instead of throwing it into the kitchen trash. It’s like, 10 feet away. It’s all good. Don’t worry about me.

The second reason I like Garbage Day is more ego-driven. Makes me feel good. I like dragging my garbage to the end of my driveway. It reminds me that I own a house, live in a cul-de-sac, and I’m living the American Dream to the best of my fiscal and intelligence-based abilities. It’s one of those little moments that remind me that I might be doing this Life thing right after all. I’m on the grid, homie! I pay city taxes!

One time I saw the garbage truck drive down my street, pick up each individual bin, and toss it entirely- bin and all– into the back of the truck. He collected every bin on the street, compacted them, and drove off. Must have been a new guy. I can only imagine the conversation when they got back to the dump. I laughed for nearly an hour straight. It was one of the most beautifully comedic examples of workplace incompetence I’ve ever seen.

Anyway, let’s get to the story, here. A few days ago, I had the day off of work, and I was sort of false-starting my way out of the bedroom. I knew I had to get up for some reason, but I kept forgetting and falling back asleep. Then I heard the garbage truck turn onto my block, and I realized that I hadn’t taken the bin out yet.

Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal. The Missus and I don’t generate that much trash over the course of a week, and if push came to shove, it could wait until next week. But not this week’s garbage.

It was a special blend of early-Spring Cleaning trash that contained no less than 10 pounds of dog feces collected from the lawn and deck following an early snow melt. It was unfathomably repugnant, and the mere thought of leaving it in my garage for another week was simply not an option. It would have probably violated the lease on my car. I knew that I had less than 30 seconds to get dressed, sprint downstairs, open the garage door and drag this bin to the street. I’d dump it into the back of the truck myself if I had to; anything to ensure that it was emptied today.

Important sidebar: I don’t have a set routine as to what I wear to bed. Sometimes I sleep in only boxer shorts. Sometimes pajama bottoms. I even wear socks if it’s cold enough. Once I wore a hoodie, and goddamn was that luxurious. Anyway, today I just had boxers and a t-shirt on, and with the garbage truck only a few houses away, I knew I didn’t have time to put anything else on.

This presented me with a quandary, specifically regarding the Social Contract between me and the fellow residents of the Wyndham Hills neighborhood in Sun Prairie. I’m not that kind of a neighbor. I’m extremely low-key. I’ve only ventured outside of the house twice in eight years wearing something other than jeans, and both times it was pajama bottoms in a bleary-eyed attempt to get the mail. And even that felt akin to treason for yours truly. There was no way in Hell that I was going to drag this bin to the curb in nothing but boxer shorts.

The truck was one house away. Son of a bitch.

There was no time for Social Contract. No time for shame, no time for modesty. I would deal with the repercussions later. For the time being, I had a dumpster full of feces that needed- beyond a shadow of a doubt- to vacate the premises post-haste. I was not proud of what I was about to do, but I knew that such sacrifices came with being a responsible homeowner and husband.

I bit down on my lip and started running for the door.

I skidded down the steps, slipped my shoes on in the garage while hitting the button for the door. Shoes, no socks, boxers and a ratty shirt. There was the truck; I was going to make it if I hurried. The bin was heavy; heavier than usual because of all the turds. I struggled and strained to get it onto its wheels to push it down the driveway. I stumbled around a bit, but I did what I needed to do. I got the bin to the end of the street in just enough time to watch it get emptied…and drag it directly back inside. It was touch-and-go, but I pulled it off and nobody was the wiser. I nailed it. I was proud.

Until I saw my neighbor. Standing in his driveway no more than a few feet from me, walking his dog. He saw the whole thing. I stood up straight, flattened down my hair and attempted to look presentable as I swaggered back into the garage. “Good morning,” I said with all the dignity of a man who looked like he just yanked out his IV and leapt out the window of a mental institution. He did not say hello back to me, instead turning away quickly and fleeing with his dog.

Jeez. I knew what I did wasn’t optimal, but I mean, it wasn’t that bad, right? Okay, so I was in my boxers, but big deal. I had a shirt on. And shoes! I was overthinking this; it’s not even in the Top 100 of egregious errors a neighbor can make. I think my unblemished eight years of quality neighboring would have allowed me a mulligan on the whole ordeal, right? I mean, surely I wasn’t the first person in history to hastily drag his garbage out while wearing night clothes, right? Right?

Then I looked down at my boxers.

And saw my penis.

It was out. It had been out the whole time.

Neighbor saw it. Neighbor’s dog saw it. When the garbage truck drove away, I gave the man a wave with my hand on my hip, quietly basking in the glory of a job well done. In reality, I was standing on the sidewalk of a residential area, exposing my batch like a lunatic to all passerby.

Home ownership is, for the most part, cool. But I’ll be laying low for a while, especially on Garbage Day.