Return of the Super Meganerd Fun Pack

<img src="https://farm1.staticflickr.com/890/41456059161_9dd099eb32_k.jpg" alt="The Super Mega Nerd Fun Pack 2">
<figcaption class="wp-caption-text">The Super Mega Nerd Fun Pack 2 — Photo by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/">Tobyblog</a> on <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/41456059161/" title="The Super Mega Nerd Fun Pack 2">Flickr</a></figcaption>

Could this be the start of a grand birthday tradition? Watch me unbox the second giant care package gifted to me by my cousin, friend, and frequent collaborator — Carl!

Yes, in an unexpected followup to 2016's amazing Super Meganerd Fun Pack, Carl completely outdid himself with a fantastic new collection of goodies for me and the kids. Once again I was completely humbled by his generosity and thoughtfulness. Carl, thanks so much. And keep them coming! After all, there are a lot more Super Mario Bros games you could Photoshop. Just saying.

<img src="https://farm1.staticflickr.com/864/39647253050_f76450e735_z.jpg" alt="So excited">
<figcaption class="wp-caption-text">So excited — Photo by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/">Tobyblog</a> on <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/39647253050/" title="So excited">Flickr</a></figcaption>

The anticipation was palpable as soon as I opened the lid. Because staring right at ThePonyOwner was a sizeable MLP tote bag surely meant for her.

<img src="https://farm1.staticflickr.com/813/27584891308_cfebdd1c35_z.jpg" alt="My Little Pony Bag">
<figcaption class="wp-caption-text">My Little Pony Bag — Photo by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/">Tobyblog</a> on <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/27584891308/" title="My Little Pony Bag">Flickr</a></figcaption>

The “I'm every pony” motto seemed fitting and entirely applicable to ThePonyOwner, so she scooped that right up while I looked to see what other surprises awaited us from this treasure chest of birthday goodies.

<img src="https://farm1.staticflickr.com/863/39647250370_9d21fac84b_k.jpg" alt="The Fun Pack Manifest">
<figcaption class="wp-caption-text">The Fun Pack Manifest — Photo by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/">Tobyblog</a> on <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/39647250370/" title="The Fun Pack Manifest">Flickr</a></figcaption>

And I didn't even have to guess, because in proper fun pack form, there was a manifest.

The theme of this year's Meganerd Fun Pack was a celebration of (homage to? passing reference to?) the awful works of Ernest Cline, so there was plenty of classic 80s goodness/badness and other nostalgic tie-ins.

<img src="https://farm1.staticflickr.com/889/40741753094_7444d42ebd_z.jpg" alt="The SMNF Unboxed">
<figcaption class="wp-caption-text">The SMNF Unboxed — Photo by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/">Tobyblog</a> on <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/40741753094/" title="The SMNF Unboxed">Flickr</a></figcaption>

I didn't read the manifest in full, though, preferring to savor the surprise of actually digging through the box. I almost gasped when I saw what lay behind the My Little Pony bag.

Stacks of DVDs and books. More toys for the kids. I couldn't help but think that a treasure trove like that called for a response in kind. Could it be time to revisit the idea of making my own Tobyblog fun packs?

<img src="https://farm1.staticflickr.com/806/39647250430_c69c40fd51_z.jpg" alt="So Excited 2">
<figcaption class="wp-caption-text">So Excited 2 — Photo by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/">Tobyblog</a> on <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/39647250430/" title="So Excited 2">Flickr</a></figcaption>
<img src="https://farm1.staticflickr.com/896/27584889788_f02c318a77_z.jpg" alt="Transformers">
<figcaption class="wp-caption-text">Transformers — Photo by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/">Tobyblog</a> on <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/27584889788/" title="Transformers">Flickr</a></figcaption>

Since he was begging me to open it up, I gave Anthony these two Transformers Rescue Bots toys. Transformers was my favorite toy line growing up, and I've tried for nostalgia's sake to pass that love on to at least one of my kids. Anthony seems the most likely to take it up, though he only sporadically watches the cartoons.

<img src="https://farm1.staticflickr.com/810/39647252670_213c8959a4_z.jpg" alt="Ponies">
<figcaption class="wp-caption-text">Ponies — Photo by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/">Tobyblog</a> on <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/39647252670/" title="Ponies">Flickr</a></figcaption>
<img src="https://farm1.staticflickr.com/809/39647252320_9c177cbcd9_z.jpg" alt="Love My Ponies">
<figcaption class="wp-caption-text">Love My Ponies — Photo by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/">Tobyblog</a> on <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/39647252320/" title="Love My Ponies">Flickr</a></figcaption>

Not so ThePonyOwner, whose long-running fascination with all things unicorn began when she was very little and continues to this day. She could not have been more pleased with her portion of the Meganerd haul.

<img src="https://farm1.staticflickr.com/897/39647250800_491346e091_z.jpg" alt="Mario Pop-Ups">
<figcaption class="wp-caption-text">Mario Pop-Ups — Photo by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/">Tobyblog</a> on <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/39647250800/" title="Mario Pop-Ups">Flickr</a></figcaption>

TheVCubeSolver has an implied claim on all things video game related, so to him went these pop-up characters for use in his room, ironic or otherwise.

<img src="https://farm1.staticflickr.com/804/41456056381_17e9427196_z.jpg" alt="Rainbow Dash Radz">
<figcaption class="wp-caption-text">Rainbow Dash Radz — Photo by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/">Tobyblog</a> on <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/41456056381/" title="Rainbow Dash Radz">Flickr</a></figcaption>

This MLP candy dispenser seemed to me like some sort of bootleg Pokemon.

<img src="https://farm1.staticflickr.com/787/39647254920_ea733e224d_z.jpg" alt="Sonic Lanyard">
<figcaption class="wp-caption-text">Sonic Lanyard — Photo by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/">Tobyblog</a> on <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/39647254920/" title="Sonic Lanyard">Flickr</a></figcaption>
<img src="https://farm1.staticflickr.com/791/41456041841_f322202d35_z.jpg" alt="Sega and Nintendo Lanyards">
<figcaption class="wp-caption-text">Sega and Nintendo Lanyards — Photo by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/">Tobyblog</a> on <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/41456041841/" title="Sega and Nintendo Lanyards">Flickr</a></figcaption>

These went to Augie, but collectible lanyards are one of my favorite pieces of swag to drop in geocaches.

<img src="https://farm1.staticflickr.com/892/27584889878_f9e3c6c0d2_z.jpg" alt="Magic Dice">
<figcaption class="wp-caption-text">Magic Dice — Photo by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/">Tobyblog</a> on <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/27584889878/" title="Magic Dice">Flickr</a></figcaption>

One of the only items in the fun pack that were expressly gifted to someone specifically, these “artisanal” dice were given to ThePonyOwner to encourage her to continue work on the board game she's developing.

<img src="https://farm1.staticflickr.com/886/27584890528_fd3177a0db_z.jpg" alt="Skeleton Warriors">
<figcaption class="wp-caption-text">Skeleton Warriors — Photo by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/">Tobyblog</a> on <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/27584890528/" title="Skeleton Warriors">Flickr</a></figcaption>

These skeleton warriors seemed perfect for my closet — a place whose many mysteries I have yet to unveil on these pages. But maybe one day.

<img src="https://farm1.staticflickr.com/869/39647255760_7b3290c284_z.jpg" alt="Hobbit DVDs">
<figcaption class="wp-caption-text">Hobbit DVDs — Photo by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/">Tobyblog</a> on <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/39647255760/" title="Hobbit DVDs">Flickr</a></figcaption>

Carl didn't know it, but only the day before my wife Kassi had bought me the audio track to The Hobbit (1977) film on vinyl. I love that old movie, first seen so long ago on TV when I was a kid. It was kind of a legend later on when Carl and I became interested in the books, and Tolkien lore in general.

The real reason I wanted the soundtrack, though, was because of the two themes written and performed for this movie by Glenn Yarbrough, an old folk singer who I am now a fan of largely because of my memories of the songs he wrote for this movie.

<img src="https://farm1.staticflickr.com/886/40562515295_da712c2736_z.jpg" alt="John Huston Orson Bean">
<figcaption class="wp-caption-text">John Huston Orson Bean — Photo by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/">Tobyblog</a> on <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/40562515295/" title="John Huston Orson Bean">Flickr</a></figcaption>

I had no idea Orson Bean (of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman fame) voiced Bilbo in this movie. And I had always assumed that Leonard Nimoy was the voice of Gandalf. I was shocked to see that the part was actually performed by famed director John Huston, whose collaboration with Ray Bradbury on the film adaptation of Moby Dick is the subject of the book I'm currently reading — Green Shadows, White Whale.

Another strange coincidence.

<img src="https://farm1.staticflickr.com/869/40562515495_120cd98b97_z.jpg" alt="Lee Van Cleef">
<figcaption class="wp-caption-text">Lee Van Cleef — Photo by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/">Tobyblog</a> on <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/40562515495/" title="Lee Van Cleef">Flickr</a></figcaption>
<img src="https://farm1.staticflickr.com/793/40562515035_8bd18bde94_z.jpg" alt="Clint Eastwood DVD">
<figcaption class="wp-caption-text">Clint Eastwood DVD — Photo by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/">Tobyblog</a> on <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/40562515035/" title="Clint Eastwood DVD">Flickr</a></figcaption>

Carl got into spaghetti westerns before I did, but I love them now and especially enjoy the soundtracks to these movies. Ennio Morricone is definitely in my playlist.

<img src="https://farm1.staticflickr.com/900/40562515595_82cde7b7bf_z.jpg" alt="Bradbury books">
<figcaption class="wp-caption-text">Bradbury books — Photo by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/">Tobyblog</a> on <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/40562515595/" title="Bradbury books">Flickr</a></figcaption>

And finally, the thing I'd been patiently waiting for. A stack of paperbacks, including three by Ray Bradbury, the editions of which were all new to my collection.

<img src="https://farm1.staticflickr.com/884/27584893168_afee595c8f_z.jpg" alt="Grand Master Edition">
<figcaption class="wp-caption-text">Grand Master Edition — Photo by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/">Tobyblog</a> on <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/27584893168/" title="Grand Master Edition">Flickr</a></figcaption>
<img src="https://farm1.staticflickr.com/872/40741753054_c4942fc909_z.jpg" alt="The Halloween Tree, Grand Master Edition">
<figcaption class="wp-caption-text">The Halloween Tree, Grand Master Edition — Photo by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/">Tobyblog</a> on <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/40741753054/" title="The Halloween Tree, Grand Master Edition">Flickr</a></figcaption>

The Bantam Grand Master Editions had some fantastic cover art, and if I could get a poster-sized version of the cover of The Halloween Tree framed, I'd hang it up in my living room.

<img src="https://farm1.staticflickr.com/894/40741753244_b8625a30e2_z.jpg" alt="The Martian Chronicles">
<figcaption class="wp-caption-text">The Martian Chronicles — Photo by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/">Tobyblog</a> on <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/40741753244/" title="The Martian Chronicles">Flickr</a></figcaption>
<img src="https://farm1.staticflickr.com/802/40562514495_c770fb5a10_z.jpg" alt="Timeless Stories for Today and Tomorrow">
<figcaption class="wp-caption-text">Timeless Stories for Today and Tomorrow — Photo by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/">Tobyblog</a> on <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/40562514495/" title="Timeless Stories for Today and Tomorrow">Flickr</a></figcaption>

Of the three Bradbury books, this one interested me the most. It's a compilation of fantasy stories written by famous authors not known for writing fantasy. The stories were compiled and edited by Bradbury himself.

<img src="https://farm1.staticflickr.com/808/27584890898_36b073f128_z.jpg" alt="The Pedestrian">
<figcaption class="wp-caption-text">The Pedestrian — Photo by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/">Tobyblog</a> on <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/27584890898/" title="The Pedestrian">Flickr</a></figcaption>

It includes only one of his own stories, The Pedestrian, which happens to be my favorite episode of the old anthology series The Ray Bradbury Theater, and from which took my geocaching handle.

So nicely done, Carl.

<img src="https://farm1.staticflickr.com/897/40562514975_404cd1cff3_z.jpg" alt="Lone Wolf #1">
<figcaption class="wp-caption-text">Lone Wolf #1 — Photo by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/">Tobyblog</a> on <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/40562514975/" title="Lone Wolf #1">Flickr</a></figcaption>

Also included was a copy of Lone Wolf #1, U.S. edition, for my gamebook collection. The book is in good condition, and is the first of what I consider to be the best written of all such books from the 80s. Very hard to find in discount bookstores these days.

<img src="https://farm1.staticflickr.com/886/39647255300_7104e4fe76_z.jpg" alt="Ready Player One">
<figcaption class="wp-caption-text">Ready Player One — Photo by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/">Tobyblog</a> on <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/39647255300/" title="Ready Player One">Flickr</a></figcaption>

Did somebody say the 80s?, anyone?

<img src="https://farm1.staticflickr.com/884/39647254790_b3972463f1_z.jpg" alt="RPO Review">
<figcaption class="wp-caption-text">RPO Review — Photo by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/">Tobyblog</a> on <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/39647254790/" title="RPO Review">Flickr</a></figcaption>

And yes, almost last — but certainly not least — a used copy of Ready Player One, just in time for the movie. And best of all, it's the edition with the cheesy movie tie-in cover, and not the original cover, because movie references is half of what this thing is all about. Now that I have my own copy I am tempted to revisit the 372 Pages podcast, this time reading along as I should have done in the first place.

<img src="https://farm1.staticflickr.com/901/41456064001_7ac2c14936_z.jpg" alt="Master the Video Games">
<figcaption class="wp-caption-text">Master the Video Games — Photo by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/">Tobyblog</a> on <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobyjmarks/41456064001/" title="Master the Video Games">Flickr</a></figcaption>

And actually last was this classic 80s video game reference manual called “How to Master the Video Games”, which back in the day you could buy on a trip to “the Walmart”, and whose lessons you would practice while “smoking the pot”. I brought it up to show Augie and he and his friends laughed and laughed, a good time being had by all.

Thanks again, Carl. TB

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