Spending eight hours in a cramped car driving back from vacation is not my idea of a fun day. I woke up this morning to a sunny, perfect beach day in Murell’s Inlet, South Carolina and had to tear myself away to get on the road early, if I had any hope of getting home at a decent hour. Long road trips home after vacation are the worst, especially when you’re leaving behind beautiful weather. All you can think about is how short it was, and stress about all the crap you have to do when you get home. By the time I reached Baltimore, I was in a pretty suck-tastic mood.

When I finally got home, there were a bunch of packages on my doorstep. Looking a little closer, I saw they were all from members of The League which put an instant smile on my face and made me forget how tired and cranky I was. I wasted no time tearing into them.

Package #1, from Tupa’s Treasures

The first package was a big box full of awesome retro stuff from Christopher Tupa, the talented artist and blogger behind Tupa’s Treasures. Chris sent me an intriguing email a week or so ago saying he found “something I might like” that he wanted to send me.

Tupa's Treasures

Well Chris, you have definitely done that and then some! In fact, I’m having trouble figuring out what the original “something” is, as pretty much everything in this package is a treasure. Here’s what was inside:

  • Six Guns and Shurikens, a TMNT paperback book from 1990. This took me back to 5th grade right away. I used to have this book, along with a few other TMNT paperbacks that I ordered from my elementary school’s book fair once upon a time. Flipping through the pages was like recovering a lost relic from my past.
  • TMNT Thermos with my favorite Turtle, Raphael on the front! I saw this posted on Chris’s blog a few weeks ago, which he scored for a quarter at a yard sale.
  • Invasion of the Punk Frogs, a VHS of episode 13 from Season 2 of the original 1987 TMNT cartoon. I can’t even imagine how much shelf space you’d need to collect the entire 80’s TMNT cartoon on single-episode VHS tapes.
  • TMNT toy bike; I’m actually not sure which TMNT toy line the bike is from, but it totally fits my new Nickelodeon Turtles figures. Does anyone out there know?
  • New Kids on the Block paperback book — another relic from my past! I never had this book, but my friend/frenemy across the street did. She was obsessed with NKOTB and we used to get into stupid fights about what was cooler: TMNT or NKOTB. Obviously I was the one who was correct.
  • The Last Starfighter movie novel. I had no idea a novelization of that movie existed until I saw this thing on Chris’s blog. It’s one of my favorite cheesy 80’s sci-fi movies and I can’t wait to read it.
  • A stack of Garbage Pail Kids stickers. Yes! I don’t have that many GPKs anymore but would love to start collecting again. These are a nice head start.

My favorite item, however, is this watercolor of Raphael that Chris drew and painted himself:
Ninja Turtle by Christopher Tupa

I love Chris’s cartoony, colorful style which I fell in love with when I saw the super-cute Pop Culture Road Trip souvenir map he designed for The League. I’d love to see what a whole group shot of the TMNT would look like. (Do you take commissions, Chris??)

He also included this adorable little printed art booklet called “Ode to Spring” which is literally too cute for words:

Ode to Spring by Christopher Tupa

Art Booklet - Chris Tupa

Chris, you have completely overwhelmed me with how much awesome you packed into this box. I don’t know what I did to deserve such a nice surprise in the mail, but thank you, thank you, thank you! This made my day.

Package #2, from Top Hat Sasquatch

Moving on to the soft, squishy package I got from Tommy Day of Top Hat Sasquatch, I knew right away it must have been the kickass THS t-shirt I ordered.

Top Hat Sasquatch Shirt & Stickers

Featuring original Alex Deligiannis artwork of the sophisticated ‘Squatch himself, its high brow design makes it appropriate for all occasions when an extra touch of class is needed–weddings, black tie events, job interviews, state dinners…

As an added bonus, there were 8-bit THS stickers, buttons, and a TMNT goodie bag full of retro trading cards! The Turtles lunch bag was a nice touch and really brought back some memories; I probably haven’t seen one of those things in over twenty years! My Dad used to pack all my lunches in them, and would write funny things inside of drawn-on speech bubbles.

I can’t wait to wear the shirt to work and answer the inevitable questions people will ask about it. (“Why yes, that is a fancy sasquatch in a top hat blowing bubbles from a pipe!”) Thank you, Tommy, for the wearable work of art and conversation starter!

Package #3, from Branded in the 80s

Last but not least, I received this personal mixtape (err…mix CD?) from Shawn Robare of Branded in the 80s. (To be honest, this has probably been chilling in my mailbox for a week or more, but I didn’t open it until today. Even when I’m not on vacation, I’m lazy about checking the mail.)

Branded in the 80s Mixtape

This disc is the physical manifestation of a recent League assignment–to create our own personal high school mixtape–which Shawn opted to give away for free to anyone who wanted a copy (analog piracy!) because he’s old school like that.

It’s an eclectic mix of all the songs Shawn was jamming to back in the early ’90s, and includes Ween, Weezer, The Rentals, Weird Al, and even some tracks from the animated Transformers and X-Men movies. My favorite track on it, however, is “Girlfriend” by Matthew Sweet. I’ll never forget the first time I saw that music video and thought how cool it was to have Japanese animation in it.

Shawn, thank you for going the extra mile (as you always do!) and taking the time to mix, burn, and mail these CDs out. I really enjoyed your “liner notes” and it was fun taking an audible journey into your past. One of the best ways to get to know someone is through their music, and your high school mixtape just confirms what I already suspected: you were one of the cool kids.