Friday, May 22, 2015

Movie Review - The Age of Adaline

Last weekend my wife, my daughter and I went to see "Marvel's The Age of Adaline". I was pretty disappointed. Where was Iron Man and Captain America? Where were the great special effects?  Oh, what a minute. This was not that Marvel movie.

I told my wife and daughter that I was going to open my review this way and they didn't think it was too funny. But it's my blog so I'm going with it.

I hadn't even heard of this movie until I saw Blake Lively, who plays Adaline, on a talk show. The concept sounded intriguing. The scene they showed had Harrison Ford in it. I'll got to any movie with Harrison Ford. When I heard my wife and daughter planning to see it, I joined them.

It's not a particularly original story. A person (Adaline) finds that she seems to be immortal, or at least long-lived. How does she face life when all about her grow old except her?

OK, so a familiar story but done pretty well. Adaline, born in 1908, seems like a normal girl. When she is 29 she's in a horrific car accident, which through an improbably series of events, stops her from aging. She spends most of her life running from shadowy government types who want to study her and entanglements with other people, especially men.

The first 30 minutes or so details all this background and the story gets going in 2014. Her best friend is a blind woman who thinks Adaline is older than she looks. She has no other friends, except a daughter born before the accident who now looks more like Adaline's grandmother than her daughter. She's well on planning her next disappearance when she meets a guy and lets him open a crack into her life.

I'm not very familiar with Blake Lively's work. The only thing I've seen her in was 2011's "Green Lantern". Than movie was so forgettable that I believe I've lost remembrance of 2-3 months of my life around when I saw it.

Lively is, of course, a beautiful woman and, if you're a guy, you might see how someone could fall in love with her at first glance. But what really got to me was her voice. She's a young woman, but she speaks with a feeling of experience well beyond her age. She is, after all, over 100 years old. Even as she starts to fall in love with this guy, you can hear in her voice that she's not at all sure it's a good idea.

She was entirely captivating in every scene she was in, both by how she looked and how she spoke.

If you're a little tired of summer blockbuster fare (even though it's only May), I'd strongly recommend this movie.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

1976 Phillies SSPC cards

There's an interesting history behind the 1976 SSPC cards which I'm not going to go into in detail because there's a pretty good article about them here on Although these cards have a copyright date of 1975, they weren't released until sometime in 1976 and are considered a 1976 set.

As I've mentioned here before, I wasn't a big baseball fan as a kid. Sure, I liked baseball, and since I lived in Philadelphia, the Phillies were my favorite team. But it wasn't until I was a young adult, around 1971, that I really became interested in baseball and the 1970's Phillies were my team.

In 1972, the Phillies were pretty sad sack, finishing with a 59-97 record and 6th in the old NL East. But that was their nadir. By 1976, they finished with a 101-61 record. In 1980 they will win the World Series and remain a dominating team for several years after.  They did it with a core of players who were with the team through out much of the decade. To me, these guys are the Phillies.

Of, course, Michael Jack Schmidt was the main guy. He hit 38 home runs with 107 rbis. He walked 100 times and had 705 plate appearances, only Dave Cash, their lead-off guy with 727, had more.

The next main guy is Steve Carlton. He was 20-7 with a 3.13 ERA and 2 shutouts in 1976. Some of the photos in the set are weird. It looks like the photo was snapped as Carlton was walking by. Given his prickly nature, he was probably saying "No photos" as he went by.

With Bowa, it was always about the defense. Sure he was a dependable bat, but you came to see him play shortstop. He turned 90 double plays in 1976.

To Schmidt's offense you can add 28 home runs, 95 rbis and a .304 batting average contributed by Luzinski.

for some reason, Garry Maddox is missing from this set, so I'm going to cheat and include his Topps cards. Where would the Phillies have been without the "Secretary of Defense". Can't you just hear Harry Kalas calling him that?

In 1976, Boone made his first of 3 appearances as a Phillie in the All-Star Game. There were 5 Phillies on that 1976 All-Star team, Dave Cash, Bob Boone, Greg Luzinski, Larry Bowa and Mike Schmidt.  The Nationals won 7-1.

Tug brought his “Ya Gotta Believe” attitude to the Phillies in 1975. Relief pitching was not as important to the game then as it is now. McGraw only had 11 saves in 1976, sharing the closer duty with Gene Garber (who also had 11). But what Phillie phan can forget Tug's save of the last game of the 1980 World Series?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Another Old O-Pee-Chee Phillies Card

I posted a 1971 Phillies O-Pee-Chee card last week. This week I have a 1976 Phillies card.

The card is a little off center but otherwise in excellent shape. I can barely remember Schueler as a Phillie. He was with the team from 1974-1976, first as a starter then a reliever. He was 16-20 with 4 saves with the Phillies.

Here is his 1976 Topps card.

Other than the French and the lighter card stock, there's no real differences in design. Unlike the 1971 O-Pee-Chee, this one does say OPC instead of TCG next to the "Printed in Canada".

I like the funny little Hank Aaron trivia cartoon. I don't have that many 1976 Topps cards but it looks like the cartoons had absolutely nothing to do with the player or team on the card.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Random Cards From My Collection #75

Card #39942
2003 Just Prospects #2 Josh Anderson
Comments on the card/player: These used to be pretty common in repacks and that's where I got this card in 2013. Anderson was the Astros 4th round draft pick in 2003 and eventually had a 3-year career with the Astros, Braves, Tigers and Royals.
How/When acquired: Paid $0.04/card for a 100-card Fairmont repack in 2013.

Card #31660
1991 Donruss #536 Jose Canseco
Comments on the card/player: Canseco had his second highest home run total of his career in 1991, with 44.
How/When acquired: Don't know.

Card #4963
2005 Classic Clippings MLB Game Worn Jersey Collection #31 Omar Vizquel
Comments on the card/player: Vizquel played for 24 years and won 11 Golden Gloves.
How/When acquired: From back in the days when nearly every blaster box came with a relic. Paid $0.32/card for blaster box of Classic Clippings on 5/1/05.

Card #5121
2004 Topps #344 Albert Pujols/Todd Helton/ Juan Pierre
 Comments on the card/player: I always liked the design of these leaders cards from 2004 Topps, especially the backs.
How/When acquired: Paid $0.26/card for a blaster of Topps in 2004.

Card #32008
2012 Topps Heritage #269 Justin Morneau
Comments on the card/player: From 2006 through 2009, Morneau averaged 117.5 rbis per season. He hasn't had more than 84 in a season since.
How/When acquired: Paid $0.30/card for a blasters of Topps Heritage in March 2012.

Card #10323
2008 Topps Opening Day #9 Ken Griffey Jr.
Comments on the card/player: These cards were red, scarlet, vermillion, crimson, ruby, cherry, cerise, cardinal, carmine, wine, etc.
How/When acquired: Paid $0.16/card for a blaster in March 2008.

Card #4252
1998 Upper Deck #246 Kevin Brown
 Comments on the card/player: Commemorating the first no hitter of 1997. Brown was 16-8 for the Marlins in 1997, helping to lead them to the 1997 World Series win.
How/When acquired: Don't know.

Card # 9254
1989 Topps Traded #54 Ken Howell
 Comments on the card/player: In early December 1988, the Dodgers traded Howell to the Orioles for Eddie Murray. A few days later, the O's traded Howell to the Phillies for Phil Bradley. The Phillies then signed Howell to a 4-year, $4.7 million dollar contract. He was 20 and 19 in his first 2 years with the Phillies but injuries ended his career after the 1990 season.
How/When acquired: Don't know.

Card #13884
2009 Topps 206 #284 Alexei Ramirez
 Comments on the card/player: The front of these cards were OK, but the set is ruined for me by the identical fake stain on the back of each card.
How/When acquired: Paid $0.44/card for a hobby box in December 2009.

Card #5613
2001 SP Legendary Cuts Game Jersey Tommy Holmes
 Comments on the card/player: I love this card. Holmes mostly played for the Boston Braves in the 1940's. I love that this is a swatch from a woolen uniform.
How/When acquired: Paid $4.66 in May 2005 from eBay.

Monday, May 18, 2015

2015 Maikel Franco Topps Gypsy Auto

After hitting .355 with the AAA Iron Pigs, the Phillies brought Franco up to the bigs as the starting 3rd baseman last Friday. Is it a coincidence that the Phillies have won 2 straight since he came up (4 straight in all)? Certainly.

I just happened to get this on-card auto on eBay last week. This is my second Franco auto. I hope this guy is the next Mike Schmidt.

The former 3rd baseman, Cody Acshe, was sent back to AAA to learn how to play left field. I don't know what that means for the Phillies current left fielder, Ben Revere, who's had a disappointing season so far.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Movie Review - Mad Max Fury Road

We went to see this last night, the opening night. We got to the theater about an hour before show time because we thought it would be crowded. We were the fist into the theater. The theater eventually got to be about 1/3 full. I predict a bad opening weekend.

Of the 120 minutes of this movie, I'd easily say that 100 minutes of it were car chases and running battles. If this is what you like about the Mad Max movies (and really, what more is there), then you'll love this movie. Is Tom Hardy a good replacement for Mel Gibson? Sure, it's not like there is any actual acting in the movie.

The action scenes are very well done. The action is relentless, from the opening Warner Bros. logo to the end credits. The dialog in the movie would take up, maybe 10 double-spaced typewritten pages. And some of that is grunts. In fact, Tom Hardy hardly more than grunts through the first half of the movie.

There is a plot, sort of. Charlize Theron is Imperator Furiosa. I was never clear if this was her name or her title. She's actually the main character in the movie. Max is just along for the ride. Fury is trying to escape The Citadel, where one crazy guy controls the water and the good looking women and the guns. Max, who is haunted by dreams and visions of those he couldn't help in the past, ends up helping her. The eventual lesson of the movie, if you can call it that, is that there's no place like home.

Do  you have questions like, how could civilizations degenerate so far since Max was a young man? In what appears to be a vast featureless desert, where do people find enough food and water to survive? Are there sufficient oil reserves in Australia to support this level of automotive activity? Where do all the bullets come from?  Forget all these questions, the chase is on!

The last real Mad Max movie, with Mel Gibson, was"Beyond Thunderdome". It was released in 1985. Of the three people with me in the theater (2 of my kids and one of their friends) only one of them was alive then, and he was only 1 year old.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

2015 Bowman - Full Review

I gave a sneak peak of Bowman the other day. I bought 2 blasters and value pack. This yielded 193 cards, of which only 8 were duplicates. Let's review!

2015 Bowman #101 Greg Holland
This is possibly my favorite card of those I got. You hardly ever see cards featuring pitchers fielding and I don't ever remember seeing such a pitcher defensive play before. What a great photo.  Anyway, this card shows the various features. Notice the full-bleed printing around most of the card. The left side has the block with the players name and white corners. Team colors are used as highlights in various spots (the player's name block on the front an back, the lower corners on the back, even the card number).

Topps has apparently said that this would be a 2-series release although nothing on the packaging indicates this is a first series. The set is short, only 150 base cards, compared to 220 last year.

2015 Bowman #117 Mike Napoli
Mike Napoli with Cylon eye wear.

The last 30 cards in the set are labeled rookie cards.

2015 Bowman #149 Jake Lamb

As usual for Bowman there is the 150-card Prospects set.

2015 Bowman Prospects #20 Adrian Sampson

Note that they reversed the design for the Prospect cards. About half of the cards I got are labeled as "1st Bowman".

There are an astonishing number of parallel sets.

2015 Bowman Silver #61 Starlin Castro
 Note that the upper and lower left corners are not white, and the rest of the border is tinted. I wouldn't quite describe it as silver but that's what it's supposed to be. These are serial numbered to 499.

2015 Bowman Silver Ice #49 Jake Arrieta
I think this "Ice" holographic effect is pretty cool. The scan looks pretty cool as well but doesn't really look much like the actual card.

2015 Bowman Prospects Yellow #93 Justin Nicolino
The yellow parallels are only available for the Prospect cards. These come in the 3-pack value packs and are not serial numbered.  Notice that the full-bleed portion of the border is tinted yellow.

2015 Bowman Chrome Purple Refractors #133 Trey Ball
As usual Bowman also includes the Chrome versions of the Prospects cards. I pulled one of these, numbered to 250. For some reason, the Purple cards borders are colored all the way around, and in two tones.

The other parallels are Black (numbered to 1), Blue (150), Gold (50), Green (99), Orange (25), Purple (250), Red (5), Red Ice (5), Purple Ice and White Ice (1). Good luck!

2015 Bowman Prospects Autographs Silver Alex Balog
I did manage to pull an auto, and not just an auto, but the Silver (numbered to 499) version. I don't know who this guy is but I hope he's the next Nolan Ryan. The autos are on stickers.

Let's not forget the mini cards.

2015 Bowman The Farm's Finest Minis Maikel Franco
I think they are calling this effect "shimmer refractor". Every Phillies fan is all a-flutter waiting for this guy to be called up from the minors. Out of 193 cards this was 1 of only 3 Phillies cards. I got no Astros at all.

These come in several flavors. I pulled a green one, numbered to 99.

2015 Bowman The Farm's Finest Minis Green Shimmer Refractor Clint Frazier