Wow, it’s been… about two and a half years since I’ve done a blog post on the things I’ve bought. For the most part, motivation was the main reason I didn’t make any, but then there was this thing called the COVID-19 pandemic which made me pretty afraid to really go shop and risk getting a life-threatening illness in the process. Thankfully masking up, vaccinations and a general change in my perspective made me a bit more confident to head out again starting in 2021.
I kinda like doing these posts – previously under the boring, uninspired “Game finds” and the unfortunate initialism of “I Bought Stuff!” – and in spite still of buying things here and there during the pandemic times, I never really compiled enough to make a new post during that time. But I figured with such a hiatus that it would get me the inspiration to write, as well as document some of my hobbies and interests.
For this article, I chronicled all the times I bought something physical throughout last Winter: December 2021 to March 2022. Of which I’ll talk about my reasons for the purchase and any sort of information I could gleam off the internet or remember from the recesses of my mind.
While there is some video game talk in this article, they are definitely not the forefront of this article. So if you decide to tune out of me nerding out about old bands and board games from 50+ years ago, I understand, but I do plead for you to stick around regardless.
But before we get to the nitty-gritty, there’s a handful of things I skipped upon that in hindsight I should’ve grabbed instead:
- A box copy of The 7th Guest (DOS). The CDs were missing, floppy disks for a bootleg copy of SimCity 2000 were in there instead. Tried to see if the CDs were in the CD section, to no avail. I probably could’ve just bought the box and found a loose CD copy to replace it, which is what I might do from now on if something like this comes up again.
- Vietcong (PC), a clunky budget shooter made to cash in on the Vietnam War in the early-to-mid 2000s. I was considering this, but then I put it aside and someone else had snagged it not long after me. A shame, I probably would’ve added it to the pile here otherwise.
- A copy of a VideoNow XP disc featuring The Batman. Youtuber Techmoan had recently covered the VideoNow, a defunct video disc format made by Tiger Electronics, and the XP was the last model Hasbro released before killing the entire product line around 2007. In addition to having viewable TV episodes, XP discs also had interactive Q&A elements. I passed this up because I don’t have any of those players, and finding one in the wild without having to resort to eBay seemed unlikely, so I passed it up for now. (I may buy it again in the near future if it’s still there, so I’m not ruling it out.)
Now we’ll start with my sole purchase from mid-December 2021, at a nearby thrift store I’ve talked about countless times in this series. Most notably, the time where I had found a dozen old demo discs and some PC games back in 2012. This has always been a reliable place for interesting things, and here was no exception.
- Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit (PS1)
- Need for Speed: High Stakes (PS1)
- Rage Racer (PS1)
I’ve probably mentioned this before, but the original PlayStation was one of those platforms that completely passed me by. Since I was basically a Nintendo diehard in the late 90s, I didn’t get a PS1 until I bought the discount portable PSone in the early 2000s. I’ve been slowly amassing a collection of games to try to right that wrong, and when I saw a bunch of racing games at this one thrift store, I couldn’t resist. Even though I’m not a big racing game aficionado.
Need for Speed is a franchise that I wish I really got into like some people did. I had played a few from the Street Racing era like Most Wanted from 2005 and Carbon, and the 2010 Hot Pursuit reboot by Criterion that everybody loved that I just didn’t like. But when it comes to the early era of NFS, I’ve played very little. At most maybe a little bit of Need for Speed II on PC years ago. I figured NFSIII was one of the most popular ones of the older games, and I thought it was worth a try. Now to just get used to how these games handle, because they hit a middle ground when it came to racing: Not super arcade-like a Cruis’n, but not a hardcore simulation like Gran Turismo.
High Stakes is the followup to Hot Pursuit, of which I know very little about. I bet it’s fine for the price I paid. Though honestly I wish I found one of the V-Rally spinoffs instead, which were branded as Need for Speed titles in North America. I’m starting to realize that my knowledge of the pre-Underground days of Need for Speed is very little, and I should probably change that by playing these games a bit more.
Finally, Rage Racer. The third installment in the long-running Ridge Racer franchise, and this is the one that introduces franchise mascot Reiko Nagase. The Ridge Racer games were another one of those franchises that I never really paid attention to, which is a shame because I’ve heard they’re surprisingly good at being fun racing games without being too simulation-heavy. I don’t know if this installment is well-received or not, but I figure it would make a nice addition to my game collection.
$2: Past to Present 1977-1990 by Toto, 1990
Okay, let’s get into the more music nerd side of me for a bit. Normally I don’t like greatest hits compilations, primarily because they’re only a vertical slice of a band’s work, and are really only helpful in a “I’ve never heard of this band before, what are they known for” crash course. The only reason you’d buy a greatest hits album is because it might have 1-2 new songs or alternate versions of notable songs on it.
But there’s a reason I bought this. Around 1990, Toto – makers of hits like “Hold the Line” and “Africa,” and full of some of the coolest session musicians like keyboardist David Paich, guitarist Steve Lukather and drummer Jeff Porcaro – had lost their third lead signer, Joseph Williams. They took a suggestion from their parent record label Columbia and opted to go for South African musician Jean-Michel Byron.
This did not go as well as the band hoped. According to an interview from Lukather in 2013:
In rehearsal, Byron was just sitting there, but now he’s out doing this Michael Jackson on crack s—, with a golf glove on one hand, and my jaw was on the floor. There’s people in the front row, flipping him off — “Get off the stage!” We’re mortified. We tell the guy, “Look, you can’t do this,” but it had all gone to his head; he accused us of not understanding his vision. I said, “No, I understand your f—in’ vision, it’s just the wrong one.” We just did not get on at all. We knew right away it wasn’t going to work.
Thus, only four songs were made with Byron as lead singer: “Love Has the Power,” “Out of Love,” “Can You Hear What I’m Saying,” and “Animal.” These go from the gamut from very funky, late 80s R&B jams to simple gloopy ballads. I remember reading about this factoid years ago and finding a live performance of “Animal” from around 1990 in Paris, which came to be one of my favorites because of that funky intro bass line by Jeff Porcaro’s brother Steve.
Eventually the band would downplay Byron as the tour went on, eventually demoting him to backup singer before jettisoning him entirely by 1991. Lukather would eventually take over as lead singer throughout the 1990s.
Honestly, I think they took the wrong approach with Toto and Jean-Michel Byron. They should’ve done a Byron solo record with Toto as the backing band, much like how a fair share of Toto worked on Michael Jackson’s Thriller. It probably wouldn’t have been a big success, but it could’ve benefited both parties more, rather than this just being a strange blip in Toto’s history.
Also, this had some of the hits that anyone who knows who Toto is might recognize: “Hold the Line,” “Georgy Porgy,” “99,” to even the more forgotten stuff from the late 80s period like “Stop Loving You.” I had picked up Toto IV years ago, so I already had “Rosanna” and “Africa;” but at this point I wouldn’t mind digging more into their discography. Toto seems like a pretty cool band.
$2: A Part, and Yet Apart by Bill Bruford’s Earthworks, 1999
Another unusual album purchase. But there’s a reason why I bought this one.
Bill Bruford is best known as the drummer for Yes during its early years – performing on hits like “Roundabout” – and later King Crimson, during the 70s and early 80s with godlike session musicians Tony Levin and Adrien Belew teaming up with consistent member and founder Robert Fripp. He was also Genesis’s drummer for a brief period in-between Peter Gabriel’s departure and Phil Collins’ eventual upgrade to lead singer/drummer. Naturally like most musicians, Bruford had his own little jazz group called Earthworks. A Part, and Yet Apart is their fourth album from 1999.
I bought this because I remember a song off this album – “Footloose and Fancy Free,” a simple catchy jazz number. At one point this was going to be a downloadable song on the then-new Rock Band Network.
Since the history of the Rock Band Network would take too long to explain here, the short version was this: Musicians and music game fans could get permission from record labels to release their songs through the Network, using Microsoft’s (now-defunct) XNA platform to make these available alongside the regular Rock Band DLC. A fair share of notable musicians pushed their songs to the network, such as KMFDM and Stan Bush, but it was mostly for indie metal bands and gimmick songs by Parry Gripp.
Earthworks’ “Footloose and Fancy Free” was to be another one of these songs on the service. A work-in-progress version had an interesting gimmick: The guitar would play the piano parts, and the vocals would in reality be the notes played on the saxophone, since it was an instrumental track. (This was made before Rock Band 3 was announced with keyboard gameplay.) Sadly, this never got actually released for reasons unexplained, but it didn’t stop some intrepid gamers from grabbing the work-in-progress version and playing in Rock Band 2 just fine.
While I may not really play Rock Band much anymore, I do appreciate it and the Rock Band Network for introducing me to bands and artists I didn’t know before now. Plus A Part, and Yet Apart might be a decent treasure trove of late ‘90s jazz. I needed more varied genres of music to listen to anyhow.
$2: Inword board game from 1972
“Mom, can we have Password?” “We have Password at home.” Password at home:
Honestly I saw the latter half of the game’s logo and thought it was an edition of Password I didn’t have, but no, it’s a unique Milton Bradley word game!
I used to be very vigilant in collecting game show board games and other interesting board games, but over time I realized the collecting part was just cluttering up space, thus I slowed down my purchases to ones I thought that were really worth owning, like this.
The rules of the game work like this: A host gives the middle of a word – the “Inword” in this case – the number of the letters in the word, and a clue that could lead to the word. The first round has the players guessing what the full word is for 20 seconds per player. If they’re successful, they get 10 points.
If not, the host knocks off a point and plays a Hangman-style mode where each player asks if there’s a letter in the word, of which the host must give a yes/no response and the number of times it shows up. Guessing the word gives 9 points. If they get a no response or an incorrect guess, the dial drops to 8 points and play passes to the next player in line. Play continues until the word is guessed, of which the player scores, or if they fail to guess the Inword after the score drops to 6 points and everybody’s had a turn. After that, a different player becomes the new host and finds a new word. Highest score wins.
To help the players out, each player’s given a “work slate” where one can cross off letters guessed, what the inword is, that sort of thing. Since this game’s about 50 years old, the work slates are naturally very weathered and used. Nowadays I’d recommend using a notepad or your phone these days to do the same function.
I kinda like this game idea, it’s got a Password kind of feel with a bit of a panel show and Hangman gameplay. It’s one of those kind of games that Bob Stewart, creator of Password and The $25,000 Pyramid, probably would’ve made 4-5 failed pilots based on the idea. This definitely has a game show feel to it, and it’s something that I think could work as a game show with a little bit of tinkering.
Sadly my purchases slowed down after that brief blitz in December, as the start of 2022 was a bit of a rough period. Eventually in mid-March, I got enough motivation to head back out and grab a few more things, at a nearby antique mall, one of which my mom briefly had a section for all the jewelry she made and the tchotchkes we’d accumulated over the years.
$2: Minute by Minute by The Doobie Brothers
More music! Which means I get to nerd out about music a bit more. (Apologies in advance.)
1978’s Minute by Minute is one of the Doobie Brothers’ most popular albums, with the famous “What a Fool Believes” on it, which hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1979. The Doobie Brothers are a fascinating band because they kind of went through a style change throughout the 70s: Founding member and lead singer Tom Johnston suffered a life-threatening illness, causing him to suspend touring and being a part of the band. Needing to keep on running, guitarist Jeff “Skunk” Baxter suggested Michael McDonald, a singer and keyboardist whom he had worked with in the past on Steely Dan records.
McDonald’s approach to the Doobie Brothers’ sound is more of the typical “blue-eyed soul” that populated a fair share of late 70s-early 80s music. Soulful vocals, more relaxed jams, the kind of stuff that would permeate stuff like the “Yacht Rock” period.
You would think that with McDonald leading the band that the overall sound would’ve changed it completely, but that’s only applicable to the first few tracks on the record: “Here to Love You,” “What a Fool Believes” and the title track. Once “Dependin’ on You” starts, there’s a chain of songs sung by the other lead singer and guitarist for the Doobies, Patrick Simmons. These go back to the more folksy guitar feel that I remember listening from Toulouse Street, the only other Doobie Brothers record I’ve listened to in its entirety.
In a sense, The Doobie Brothers fit the same category as bands like Toto, which I mentioned earlier: They are a band that doesn’t stick to one specific style, opting to do multiple genres within the same record. Even stuff like the instrumental track “Steamer Lane Breakdown” feels like funky driving down the country music, which, as I will remind y’all: This is the same album that has “What a Fool Believes” on it. It’s kinda fascinating to listen to in its entirety, really.
$2: Flashdance: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack by Various Artists
Honestly? I just wanted to have Irene Cara’s “Flashdance (What a Feeling)” and Michael Sembello’s “Maniac.” That’s the reason I bought this album. Maybe the other tracks on the album are good too, who knows. Giorgio Moroder worked on it, and he worked on stuff like Scarface and many other records, so I expect this to be an interesting listen. This seemed to be one of the go-to ‘80s soundtrack albums, alongside Top Gun, Footloose and countless others.
Also, I just realized this Flashdance soundtrack has a sticker on it: “Property of Wieden & Kennedy.” Wieden+Kennedy are a global marketing firm which has offices here in Portland. Guess they eventually purged their CD collection at some point? It’s kinda bizarre to me to see this sticker.
A few days later, after doing some errands – including a long-needed haircut, the first one I’ve gotten since summer 2020, during the early pandemic period – I made a return trip to that same antiques mall. Naturally, I grabbed two more things.
$2: City to City by Gerry Rafferty
It’s the album with “Baker Street” on it. It’s by the guy who was in Stealers Wheel, which had a hit in “Stuck in the Middle With You.” There’s probably other cool stuff on that record, but I just wanted to have “Baker Street.”
Tic Tac Dough Home Quiz 3-in-a-Row (Tic-Tac-Toe) Home Quiz board game, circa 1960
Oh hey, I get to show off some more game show and board game knowledge!
Tic Tac Dough is a classic question-and-answer game show involving Tic Tac Toe that debuted in the 1950s, and had a successful run in the late 70s-mid 80s, and a brief revival in 1990. Produced by Jack Barry & Dan Enright’s production company, it was one of those solid “comfort food” game shows alongside The Joker’s Wild, of which the two aired usually back-to-back in the ‘70s.
Though, the show has a bit of a dark past: Tic Tac Dough was part of the infamous Quiz Show Scandals of the 1950s, where quiz shows could be manipulated for drama and suspense as contestants were given questions and answers in advance. This resulted in hearings in the United States Senate, and eventually a lot of these shows, like Dotto and Twenty One, were canceled by the late 1950s. Tic Tac Dough would also get axed by the decade’s end.
Naturally, home games were made for this show, as per the common rule for most quiz shows of the era. But the problem is with such a big scandal, Transogram, the company who made previous editions of the Tic Tac Dough home quiz, couldn’t really keep making games based on what was considered a “poisonous” show. But this is the days before Jeopardy! and Trivial Pursuit, where quiz games weren’t nearly as ubiquitous. Transogram ended up stripping out all the Tic Tac Dough branding and just resold the game with the rather unwieldy title “3-in-a-Row (Tic Tac Toe) Home Quiz.”
This game is kinda neat because of the “automatic category selector.” On Tic Tac Dough, categories were shuffled around the boxes making it possible to end up with a tough category in a situation where the player needed to win. Transogram recreated this by having a lever on the side of the board, which rotates the categories around. For something from the 1950s-60s, it’s a neat little prop.
The box boasts a whopping 540 questions between the game’s nine categories, roughly 60 questions per category, split between “juniors” 10-14 in red, and adults 15 and up in black. These are naturally made to 1950s-60s sensibilities and much like any quiz it likely has questions that are correct to the time period this was made but not anymore, and unintentional use of questionable language. That’s the unfortunate thing about quiz games: They can date pretty quickly.
Funny enough, despite them removing almost all the Tic Tac Dough branding, the game board on mine still says Tic Tac Dough on it, and not the “3 IN A ROW” that the box art depicts. I don’t know if there’s a version that has that change or if that’s something they did on the box art just to minimize any reference to the show, but it’s kind of amusing.
When I got this game, it was in absolute tatters. Part of the box lid was falling apart, all the questions had fallen out of the broken question holder, and all the pieces were strewn about. Thankfully I had some free time, so I decided to clean it up to be more presentable, placing all the question cards back, making sure everything looked nice and presentable, even taped up some of the broken parts of the box. It’s not a perfect restoration but it looks a hell of a lot better than it did when I bought it.
This is quite a fascinating time capsule, as are most trivia games. I bet it’s still enjoyable to play in spite of the dated material.
Honestly, writing all this felt satisfying. I know this site is mostly known for video game stuff, but I like writing about my other hobbies as well. I don’t often have an outlet to talk about this with like-minded people, and most of the people I know aren’t nearly as invested in this stuff as I am. So writing a long post like this gives me somewhere to post it.
I hope you don’t mind me geeking out about this, and I want to make this a more regular series again. My goal is to have another one of these ready by summertime, covering all the stuff I bought in the spring. Here’s hoping I have just as interesting stuff to buy during that time as I did here.
Usually I make articles available to my Patreon subscribers first, but I figured this kind of article deserves to be seen by everyone immediately, as it’s more bloglike in nature. If you still wish to support this site and all future articles, you can support me through my Patreon here.