It is sometimes said that all obsession comes from humble origins and mine is no exception... As with all young men in the days before video games, when television had 5 or 10 channels (if you were lucky), you had to find some way to escape reality and bug your parents at the same time: comic books. Woefully lacking nowadays in comic books (or graphic novels as they are sometimes called now) are the mail order ads and that was the seed of my obsession. But I had an obstacle to overcome, my mother. Not particularly because of the tried and true 'I'm not going to let you waste/waste my your/my hard earned money on that junk' excuse but because my mother wouldn't allow me to buy anything through the mail. You see, my friend got his mom in trouble with Columbia House Record Club (again, an explanation, back in the days before downloads, CD's or even tapes, there were glorious vinyl records. You had to buy the whole album of an artist to get your favorite song if you couldn't find the 45 [ask your parents, or better yet your grandparents about what a 45 was]. For a mere penny, you could get 12 albums of your choice AND the 13th one at half price with just 3 to buy in the next year. What could be a sweeter deal than that? All that music for a mere 1 measly cent. What they didn't tell you is that unless you sent back the card that you got with the catalog once or twice a month, the selection of the month would find its way to your doorstep along with the bill!), and my mother wasn't going to fall into the same trap so the rule was...no mail order. But when a kid is sick, a mom's heart overrides their head. I asked her if she would order the Honor House Monster Ghost which I had looked over for weeks and memorized everything from the ad including each and every word. The two things that really got me was "obeys your commands" and "complete instructions included". Did I mention that the ad said it was 7 feet tall? That was the clincher. My own personal monster apparition to terrorize the neighborhood. Time is slow when you're young and good things come to those who wait (grownups like to say things like that) and the wait ended on October 31 1971, Halloween night. It seemed the universal forces held my package until the most appropriate night of the year. At last, indescribable horror would encompass my very presence and would be mine to obey my every whim. But how did they get a 7 foot monster ghost in that flat manila envelope? Still the magic held me as I read the instructions with the picture of the ghost by a window in a darkened room, and I opened the envelope carefully to find a Casper the ghost balloon with a sheet of plastic and a fishing line. Not to be daunted, I assembled the creature that would soon do my bidding and then the worst happened: the balloon popped effectively destroying my ghost and thoughts of terrorizing the masses. But I was undaunted, I would prevail. Borrowing some dimes from my grandfather's piggy bank (I paid him back, I assure you. I was not driven to a life of crime over a popped Casper balloon), I sent away for the Melton Company Ghost with the monster face in the ad. Only this time, I resisted the temptation and instead saved it and have it to this very day, the only one known to exist. Thus the obsession took full hold of me. I purchased novelty after novelty, gag after gag and built up what is arguably the world's largest collection of things that would make you the life of the party, amaze and astound, bring tears of laughter to every eye and make you irresistible to the opposite sex.