Return of the Super Meganerd Fun Pack

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Did somebody say the 80s?, anyone?

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.

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