Damn, half the year has already gone, hasn’t it? Since we’re now in the back half of 2023, it’s time to give my twice-yearly update of some stuff I bought for the first half of the year.
Admittedly, my purchasing habits slowed considerably. The beginning of the year was a rough time for me, which lead to a lot of impulse purchases. Not anything here worth blogging about, but those purchases certainly made a dent in my funds. I’ve gone out more frequently than before, but most of the time I went and checked out a few places and hung out with some folks on the weekends instead of actively seeking out stuff.
However, that doesn’t mean I didn’t buy stuff that could potentially be article material. For instance, Who Wants to be a Millionaire: The Album, an article I wrote about back in April, was a random eBay purchase. But the hunt only works when it’s more spur-of-the-moment, not done on a computer. And of course, I did buy a few things that I think are interesting to me, at least.
$10 at FanExpo Portland:
– Baseball Kids (Game Boy, Japan)
– Power Mission (Game Boy, Japanese version)
Back around February, I went to FanExpo Portland. A catch-all nerd convention, but of the old-school Comic Con kind, where there’s a lot of local artists and lesser-known comic book artists alongside the headliners, which were most of the cast of Back to the Future – Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Claudia Wells and Thomas F. Wilson – but they were asking a bit too much to see them, plus the lines were too long, so instead I settled with selfies with acclaimed voice actor Nolan North instead.
I wasn’t really intending to shop much, but I did find a booth that had some Japanese Game Boy games, of which were $5 each. Downside is that I overpaid, as both games go for less than a few bucks each loose. Oh well.
Power Mission did come to the States under the same name, but I figure owning the Japanese release would be amusing. A strategy game where one controls ships and planes on a grid, it probably plays similarly to the Advance Wars series of games. I honestly thought it was gonna be a Battleship knockoff, but it is far from it. And might be a bit more challenging than I can possibly play. Well, at least it has the writing of somebody’s name in Japanese, which is a nice souvenir.
The other, Baseball Kids, is a Jaleco baseball game with a cartoony cover: A baseball player sliding into home plate, with the onomatopoeic word “SPLURP!!” drawn on it. I’m gonna be honest, I only bought it because of the cover. Baseball games of this era were fairly simple and while the game featured looked at least somewhat fun, it probably isn’t gonna be my favorite sports game.
But I will always remember “SPLURP!!”. It’s so silly.
Cut to April. After heading to a brunch meet with friends, me and my partner made a pilgrimage to the fanciest Goodwill store in the Pacific Northwest: 6th Ave near downtown Portland. They had practically everything: camera lenses, old hardware, tons of knick-knacks and trinkets, plus a fairly large book and CD section. I swear, if any of my friends visit Portland, I’m taking them here, because I bet they’ll find something to take home with them.
Naturally, I found stuff here too.
$2: Baileys in Tune by Various Artists
A collaboration with Rock River Records and alcoholic drink company Baileys, this features cover songs from smaller-known artists. I really only got this because the I saw a cover of AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long” by an artist named Bing Ji Ling, and I figure it might be somewhat amusing.
A lot of these kind of albums have popped up over the years, where it’s a record label working together with a famous brand or store to release this kind of album, presumably as a kitsch thing you could sell alongside their stuff at the checkout counter, but I figure a lot of these were mostly unused. Hell, as you can see, this copy is still sealed.
Don’t know if I’ll do much of anything with this besides give it a listen, but it’s a nice novelty.
$10: Kinect for Xbox 360
Yep. Now I can see what the bottom of an avatar’s shoe looks like for myself.
One of the more… “interesting” ideas towards the tail-end of the Xbox 360 era, the Kinect was basically a bigger fancier version of the EyeToy. Much like the EyeToy, the games mostly just involved using your body to hit things on screen or move a character in time with everything. I saw at least 4 Kinect units there, much like how there’s so many of certain electronics there.
I bought a Kinect once around 2011 or so, but returned it after I found my mortal enemy when trying it out: The ceiling fan in our living room. I considered rebuying it the many times I saw it at a thrift store, but then I ran into a problem: My Xbox 360 is an original model, and the Kinect requires a special power adapter to make it work on that model. Knowing that, I tried to see if I could find both of them together, to no avail. Eventually I decided to buy the adapter online on eBay a while ago, to skip that problem and get down to actually getting the damn thing.
Downside is at the time I got this Kinect, I had zero Kinect-required games. My partner let me borrow a handful of hers: Some of the notables like Kinect Adventures and Dance Central 3, to the more infamous ones like MotionSports and Kinect Star Wars. Yes, I too will eventually be dancing to “I’m Han Solo.”
With Kinect being over a decade old, it might be something to look a bit more into in the future. I’ve always been fascinated by this dumb device, but never had the space to really make it work until recently. As the Xbox 360 era starts becoming part of the retro gaming scene, Kinect stuff might be en vogue. Or maybe it’ll just clutter the $1 bargain sections at game stores like it already does. Either way, can’t wait to get my motion on.
The last trip was a thrift store visit after yet another brunch meetup in May. All music this time, at a thrift store I’ve been going to constantly since my high school days, and snagged all of these.
- Inventions from the Blue Line by Mike Post
- Two Rooms: Celebrating the songs of Elton John and Bernie Taupin by Various Artists
- The Best of the Manhattan Transfer by the Manhattan Transfer (natch)
- Music from the MGM Motion Picture The Thomas Crown Affair by Various Artists
- Original Motion Picture Soundtrack “Platoon” and Songs from the Era by Various Artists
Inventions from the Blue Line is an album of music by TV composer Mike Post, known for themes like Law & Order, Silk Stalkings, and NYPD Blue. The first half of the album is strictly music from NYPD Blue, which, combined with the packaging and title, made me think this was gonna be a “Music from the hit show NYPD Blue” album at first. Though, albums featuring scores from TV shows weren’t that common around this time, so it was probably changed to be a more overall sample of Mike Post’s work from around this time. Nowadays you could probably release a 3-CD set featuring all of NYPD Blue‘s music, but there probably isn’t much demand for that.
It’s great to have the theme from NYPD Blue alongside the Silk Stalkings and Law & Order themes in their complete forms. And… Renegade, for some reason. I mean, he composed the theme, yes, but I doubt anyone here remembers Renegade. The Lorenzo Lamas action show that lasted for five seasons and was mostly forgotten. I watched the pilot episode not long after getting this, and it’s definitely a goofy action show. The kind of show that was on UPN or Fox at 11PM-1AM in the ‘90s. Renegade feels like one of those shows.
Two Rooms is a tribute album to singer Elton John and frequent collaborator Bernie Taupin’s work. I knew about this album before, primarily because of The Who’s cover of “Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting),” which is surprisingly an alright cover of the 1973 classic. Though there’s a few other interesting ones in here: Kate Bush covering “Rocket Man,” The Beach Boys – presumably the Mike Love-led Summer in Paradise era – covering “Crocodile Rock,” hell, even Sinead O’Connor covered a song here. This will be interesting to listen to.
After covering Who Wants to be a Millionaire: The Album, which introduced me to The Manhattan Transfer, I had to grab this greatest hits compilation. I’m of the belief that a greatest hits album is a great crash course to get familiar with a musician’s work, and I figured they’ve done more beyond “Operator.” Don’t know if their work will be for me, but at least I can now listen to “Operator” without Regis Philbin interstitials.
Soundtrack #1 is The Thomas Crown Affair, the 1999 remake of the 1968 film of the same name. The one that had Pierce Brosnan doing spy stuff that was totally ripping off James Bond, of which he was already a few years into that role. There’s a handful of songs featured here, like Sting’s “Windmills of Your Mind,” a cover of the “Academy Award song of the year,” which is… a pretty forgettable cover. The only highlight here – besides some of Bill Conti’s solid score – is Nina Simone’s “Sinnerman,” in all it’s 10 minute glory. “Sinnerman” highlighted one of the more pivotal scenes of the whole film, and having that song here makes it worth the purchase.
Fun fact: I never heard the original Sinnerman until I grabbed this album. I’ve been so used to the “Heavenly House Remix” that Felix da Housecat made for Verve Remixed 2 that appeared in a few films like Cellular. After hearing the original, I have to say it’s superior to the remix in every way.
Soundtrack #2, Platoon, was more for the song selection: “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane, “When a Man Loves a Woman” by Percy Sledge, that stuff. Of course, since it’s Platoon, you’re probably familiar with its use of Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings,” conducted by Georges Delerue and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, during a pivotal moment in the film.
As I picked this up, there was a guy there who had been searching through the CD sections before me. Leaning on his cane and having a British accent, he noticed I grabbed the album, saying to me that he almost grabbed it, but wanted the full “Adagio for Strings” performance, as it apparently wasn’t on the album. We had a small conversation about the song, which was pretty neat. I like those little side conversations with passersby while shopping, and I’ve definitely gotten more comfortable with having small talk, something I really couldn’t say a few years ago.
That reminds me, I’ve never seen Platoon. Maybe I should change that. I know it’s probably gonna be a serious, dark movie – it’s Oliver Stone, after all – but as time goes on I realized there’s more and more classic movies I haven’t seen, and much like reading more books and finding new music to listen to lately, I’ve been trying to broaden my horizons a little.
Well, that’s everything from the past few months. While I’ve been struggling a bit on the financial front, I will try to get some more things as I get to the year’s end. But for now, that’s all I got. Expect something more summer-y later in the month. Thanks for reading.
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