Sunday, August 31, 2008

Song of the Week - Space Oddity by David Bowie

I have 5,517 songs on iTunes. This is one of them

This one goes way back into the archives. This was David Bowie's first big hit, in 1969, although only in England. It wouldn't be until Ziggy Stardust in 1972 that Bowie started to appeal to a larger US audience. I first became aware of Bowie with his Hunky Dory album of 1971 and then I managed to find his earlier work. I was a big fan of Bowie and I have most of his albums up through his 1983 release Let's Dance. But I lost interest and I don't know his later work. His last studio album was 2003's Reality which I know nothing about.

I'd never seen this video before. Bowie constantly changed his appearance throughout his career. This was one of his more flamboyant looks. You gotta love the orange hair.

Ground control to major tom
Ground control to major tom
Take your protein pills and put your helmet on

Ground control to major tom
Commencing countdown, engines on
Check ignition and may gods love be with you

Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five,
Four, three, two, one, liftoff

This is ground control to major tom
Youve really made the grade
And the papers want to know whose shirts you wear
Now its time to leave the capsule if you dare

This is major tom to ground control
Im stepping through the door
And Im floating in a most peculiar way
And the stars look very different today

For here
Am I sitting in a tin can
Far above the world
Planet earth is blue
And theres nothing I can do

Though Im past one hundred thousand miles
Im feeling very still
And I think my spaceship knows which way to go
Tell me wife I love her very much she knows

Ground control to major tom
Your circuits dead, theres something wrong
Can you hear me, major tom?
Can you hear me, major tom?
Can you hear me, major tom?
Can you....

Here am I floating round my tin can
Far above the moon
Planet earth is blue
And theres nothing I can do. Get Complimentary Ringtone

Friday, August 29, 2008

Thursday Night at the Movies - The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Prince

We seem to be in the doldrums of summer as far as movies are concerned. We've seen all the movies we wanted to see with the exception of the new X-Files movie (I know it wasn't supposed to be very good) which is gone from the theaters, and Mama Mia, which is hanging on, but never seems to be playing at a good time. Wanting to go to the movies and having no better choice, we went to see The Mummy. The first Mummy movie was pretty good, if not exactly original (can you say Indiana Jones?). The second was loud, with wild fantastic special effects, but not as good as the original. The third, well, its a disappointment. I, frankly, wasn't expecting much, but I was still disappointed. The special effects, we've seen them before. That effect of an army turning to sand? Been there done that. And the story had almost the same plot as Hellboy II. Evil guy has to gain immortality so that he can raise his indestructible army and conquer the world. If Brandon Frasier was red and had horns, the movies would have been hard to tell apart. Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh are totally wasted. And Rachel Weisz does not return. Her replacement was a poor replacement. I give this movie 1.5 capes (out of 5).Trailer of the week: The Spirit. This is a movie directed by Frank Miller based on a comic book series by Wil Eisner. I know nothing about the comic, but the trailer makes me want to see the movie.

Trade with Phil

This trade started as a swap of super shiny cards and grew from there. A couple of weeks ago I posted some 2008 Topps Chrome cards over at A Pack A Day. One of the cards was a Chrome X-Factor card of Yovani Gallardo. Phil saw that and asked if I'd be willing to trade something for it. I looked over on his blog and saw he posted some 2008 Topps Chrome cards as well, including this Hunter Pence card. It didn't sound like he was too interested in Pence, so I offered the Gallardo for Pence. He agreed, then offered me a bunch of 1987 Topps cards from my want list for Brewers cards. So I pulled out a bunch of 2001 Brewers and the deal was made. You can see what I sent him here.The Pence card is from Topps Cards History of Baseball Cards insert set. The scan doesn't do it justice. The finish is mirror-like which just doesn't scan right. The design is from some 1922 set which Topps doesn't identify beyond W573.

I've recently completed two trades involving 1987 Topps. I've reduced my want list from over 100 cards to about 30.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

1940 Superman Card

Last week I posted a 1940 baseball card called Play Ball which was published by Gum, Inc. On the back of the card was a little blurb about their Superman cards. I said I wanted one. Well, now I have one.Since you can find anything on eBay, I looked and found several. This card isn't in bad shape. It is far from mint condition, mainly because the front is poorly centered. It's also yellowed and has some staining on the back. When I bid on this card, there were 4-5 other cards from this set which had been graded and slabbed. The bids for these were in the $100 to $300 range. There are only 2 up for bid as I write this. I paid about $10 for this card.
When I was a kid in the 1960s, most of my allowance money went to comic books. The choice was between Marvel and DC comics. While I like some Marvel titles (mostly the more esoteric ones, like Iron Man and Dr. Strange), I really preferred DC comics. Superman, Batman, Flash, Justice League of America, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Aquaman, Superboy, Supergirl, etc. But Superman was always my favorite.

One piece of trivia I didn't know. According to Wikipedia, Gum, Inc. later became Bowman. Gum had to stop making trading cards after 1941 because of war shortages of paper and ink. When they came back in 1948, they were known as Bowman. Wikipedia doesn't say why this happened.

In 2003, Upper Deck produced a set called Play Ball which was clearly based on the 1940-41 Play Ball sets. I wonder why Upper Deck got rights to the name and design and not Topps?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Kid From Left Field

I accidentally discovered this movie on a sleepless night last week. It was released in 1953 and, in addition to Bancroft and Dailey, also stared Lloyd Bridges. The story is about 9 year old Christy (named for Christy Mathewson) Cooper, the son of ex-ballplayer Larry "Coop" Cooper (Dailey), loves baseball. One day, he and a couple of buddies are caught sneaking into the Bison's stadium. He gets away but meets up with Marian Foley (Bancroft) who is the niece of the former owner and works for the current owner (who's name, improbably enough, is Mr. Whacker). Whacker is impressed with the boy and gives him a job as bat boy. Chris becomes friends with the team's aging star, Pete Haines (Bridges) and soon is passing tips to Pete from Coop. Eventually, Coop is secretly helping all the players, who of course, think the kid is a genius. Coop, by the way, is a peanut vendor at the ballpark. The team manager, who is pretty slow on the uptake, finally figures this out and has the kid fired.

The team immediately goes south and Mr. Whacker hires the kid back as manager. A winning streak ensues. the Bisons are apparently in the American League as their only named opponents are Cleveland (although Indians is never mentioned) and the Yankees. The Yankees are the only other team ever shown in game situations. But all is not perfect. In the beginning of September, the Bisons are 6 games behind the Yankees for 1st place but Chris gets picked up by the truant officer. After a short but noisy confrontation between the school district, Mr. Whacker, Coop and a lady judge, Chris gets back to managing but with a private tutor. During the last series of the season, with the pennant on the line, Chris gets pneumonia. Mr. Whacker assures his players that its not like when they were kids, Chris would only be in the hospital a week (a week!).

The Bisons go down in defeat in the first game and are now 1 and a half games back with 2 games to play. Chris comes clean with the team and tells them it was really Coop who was running the team. Mr. Whacker hires a reluctant Coop. The Bisons win to pull within 1/2 game. In the last game, Coop pulls out every baseball stunt you ever heard of including putting the starting pitcher at 3rd (which totally stumps the announcer) for one batter, and in a big finish, has a player steal home to win the game. It helped that the pitcher had the longest, most complicated windup in baseball history. The Bisons go to the World Series, and that's the end of the movie.

10-year-old Billy Chapin played Chris Cooper. Chapin had a 15 year career in movies and television from 1944 to 1959. His first credit was as 'the Blake's baby girl' in 1944's Casanova Brown.

This movie was remade as a TV movie in 1979 with 11-year-old Gary Coleman as Jackie Robinson Cooper, kid manager of the San Diego Padres.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Phorgotten Phillie Phile - Reggie Taylor

I haven't done one of these in awhile. This another Phillie's card I got in a trade with Michal. Along with 1987 Topps cards, he threw in some random PhilliesReggie Taylor was the Phillies #1 draft pick in 1996. He made his major league debut with the Phillies on September 17, 2000. In 6 minor league seasons with the Phillies he hit about .270 with 49 home runs. He had a total of 18 at bats for the Phillies between 2000 and 2001 with exactly one hit. In March of 2002, the Phillies traded him to the Reds for Hector Mercado, who could be the subject of his own Phile. Reggie appeared in 235 games for the Reds in 2003-2004, hitting 9 HRs but without much of an average. For this he was paid $534,000. Nice work if you can get it. He was released by the Reds in 2004 and kicked around with the White Sox, Rockies, Devil Rays, and Cardinals before being released for good in 2005. During that time he had 22 unproductive at bats for the Rays in 2005.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Song of the Week - Winter by Tori Amos

"Winter" is from Tori Amos' first solo album, Little Earthquakes, released in 1992. I've always been a sucker for female vocalists (Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins, Kate Bush, Dar Williams, etc) and Little Earthquakes is one of my very favorite records.

Snow can wait, I forgot my mittens
Wipe my nose, get my new boots on
I get a little warm in my heart when I think of winter
I put my hand in my fathers glove

I run off where the drifts get deeper
Sleeping beauty trips me with a frown
I hear a voice you must learn to stand up for yourself
Cause I cant always be around

He says when you gonna make up your mind
When you gonna love you as much as I do
When you gonna make up your mind
Cause things are gonna change so fast
All the white horses are still in bed
I tell you that Ill always want you near
You say that things change my dear

Boys get discovered as winter melts
Flowers competing for the sun
Years go by and Im here still waiting
Withering where some snowman was

Mirror mirror wheres the crystal palace
But I only can see myself
Skating around the truth who I am
But I know, dad, the ice is getting thing

When you gonna make up your mind
When you gonna love you as much as I do
When you gonna make up your mind
Cause things are gonna change so fast
All the white horses are still in bed
I tell you that Ill always want you near
You say that things change my dear

Hair is grey and the fires are burning
So many dreams on the shelf
You say I wanted you to be proud
I always wanted that myself

When you gonna make up your mind
When you gonna love you as much as I do
When you gonna make up your mind
Cause things are gona change so fast
All the white horses have gone ahead
I tell you that Ill always want you near
You say that things change my dear

Never change

All the white horses

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Trade with Andy

I've been busy making trades the past week or so. Andy, over at 88 Topps Cards offered me some Phillies cards in return for filling in some holes in his 2008 Goudey set. I'd only bought on blaster box of these but I had some cards he needed.

The pest card he sent was this Cole Hamels jersey card from Upper Deck's 2008 A Piece of History set. I'd bought a box of these cards back in July, which I posted about here, but I hadn't gotten any Phillies or Astros in the box. The memorabilia card I got was from a movie. Now I have Phillies jersey card, and with a strip no less. He also sent a couple of other Phillies, the regular Cole Hamels card and this Ryan Howard card.
A Piece of History also includes "Historical Moments" cards, usually having nothing to do with baseball. Andy sent this Ben Franklin card. I think that I'll just call him the first Phillie.
He sent some other cards, including some 2008 Gouday (which I didn't have) and some 2008 Topps and Upper Deck cards. I haven't cataloged my Topps and Upper Deck purchases yet so I don't know if I have them or not.

And finally, he sent some 2003 Topps All Time Favorites. This was a set of cards which Topps issued 2003-2005 which featured reprints of of older Topps cards. I only had one Phillie from the 2003 set, now I have 5 more plus a couple of Astros.
Thanks, Andy.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Trade with Michel

The other nice thing (the first is that sometimes people just send you stuff) about baseball card blogging is that I have an opportunity to make trades with people. I recently put up a (so far) short want list. All I've got on there so far is 1987 Topps. I'm not a set collector but I really like this set and decided I'd like to have the whole set. I could probably go on eBay and buy it for $5 but there no fun in that. Michel saw my post and offered me 19 cards I didn't have in the set. In return I was able to make a substantial dent in his 2001 Topps set needs.
One of the things I like about this set (or any 1980's set, I guess) is how the uniform and team logos have changed since then. The White Sox don't look anything like this anymore.

In addition to 1987 Topps, Michel sent me some random Phillies (my want list post also says I collect Phillies and Astros). I had a lot of the cards already but the one's I didn't have were pretty good. I had exactly one 1996 Leaf Preferred card and it wasn't a Phillie. Now I have 3, including the Dykstra card above. 1996 was Dykstra's last year in baseball due to severe back problems.
Another was this 1985 O-Pee-Chee card. I only had three of these, and none were Phillies. The O-Pee-Cards were a version of Topps cards for the Canadian market. The fronts look exactly like the 1985 Topps except for the logo. The backs are similar except the text is in English and French.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Nice Card File - Ryan Howard

I just mailed off a box of Yankees cards to Eric in return for the box of Phillies and Astros cards he sent me. Eric's been a busy guy lately completing massive trades with Steve at White Sox Cards and Bart at baseballcardman. Eric must be up to his neck in Yankees cards by now. But I imagine there's no better place to be if you're a card collector and a Yankee's fan. Here's hoping that Eric likes the cards I sent him as well as I like what he sent me. One of the cards he sent was this Ryan Howard relic card from 2008 Topps Heritage. It's my one and only Howard relic card. It even has a stripe.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Old Card File : 1940 Play Ball

Back in May I acquired a 1954 Bowman card which was the oldest card I owned. Now I have this 1940 Play Ball card.

Joost had a 17 year career (1936-1955) with the Reds, Boston Braves, Philadelphia A's (8 years), and Red Sox. He was a n no-hit shortstop (he had a lifetime BA of 0.239) but was a 2-time All Star. He was a member of the 1939 Reds World Series team. See the little "1939 Pennant" flag on the front. In 1954, he was the player manager for the A's. According to, Joost is till alive. He'd be 92 today.

I like that I can make several connections with Joost and this card. He played 8 years in Philadelphia, some of those years during my lifetime. And the card was produced in Philadelphia by Gum, Inc.

I paid $5.25 for the card. If it were in mint condition (which it clearly is not) it would be worth $35.

It's got a crease, and looking at the back, it appears that it was once glued into an album. Can you imagine that, there was a time that collector's (mostly kids) didn't care about the future value of their cards. Still, this card is 68 years old. It's not in too bad a shape.

This was the first full year of Play Ball. The card is 3/8 of an inch shorter than the current "standard" card size. Gum, Inc. had put out a sample set in 1939. They produced a color set in 1941, but most of the cards were colorized versions of the 1940 cards. And that was it for Play Ball.

On the back of the card, at the bottom it says "Millions of young folks asked for SUPERMAN CARD GUM. Now it's on the way here. This new Adventure and ??? Thrill awaits you at your dealers. Ask for it! Watch for it". I'd love to get a SUPERMAN CARD.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Song of the Week - My Father's Piano by Kristina Olsen

I have 5,460 songs in my iTunes. This is one of them.

This is a song that I really like by an artist I know little about. I'm not even sure where I acquired the song, as it is the only song by her I have. Wikipedia has next to nothing about her but she does have a web site. I still don't know much about her. The song is from her 1992 self titled album. Sorry, no lyrics, I couldn't find any. But the song is easy to understand. I think the song resonates with me as my was part time musician. His instrument was the stand-up bass but he could play piano and other instruments as well.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Photography - Crepe Myrtles

When we first moved to the Houston Texas area in the summer of 1995, we lived in an apartment complex for about 6 months while waiting for our house to be built. The apartment grounds were full of crepe myrtles, which I'd never seen before. These will not grow in Philadelphia, where we came from. The summer after we moved into our house, we purchased some crepe myrtles and planted them. At the time I knew nothing about them. For example, I didn't know that some varieties grow into 20 to 30 foot trees (which I'd seen at the apartment) and some grow to be tall bushes (10 to 15 feet), which is what we bought.

I learned this after a few years when I was wondering why my plants weren't developing into trees. Oh, well.

Often, the flowers grow in large clumps, like this photo. This clump is about 12 inches long.

I found a web site which listed more than 60 varieties of crepe myrtle. The variety we have is called Prairie Lace which is different than most in that it has two-toned flowers.

The centers of the flowers are pink and the outer edges are white.

I've noticed this year that the color variation among the flowers is higher than before.

In this picture you can see that some of the flowers are almost all white. Some of these here have just a hint of pink in the center. Some others that didn't photograph well (the darn things would hold still) are completely white.

These here are almost completely pink. Some have just a little white on the edges.

I don't know what this means but overall, it doesn't change the look of the tree.

Crepe myrtles are very common here, and I'm sure, across the south. They are so common in landscaping that perhaps they are being over used. But, even after 13 years in Texas, they still look exotic to me. And they flower forever. They first start to bud in early April and there will still be flowers into November. Then they lose their leaves for the winter.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Trade with Tribecards

I mentioned before that one of the nice things about being part of the wild world of the Baseball Card Blogosphere (BCB) is that sometimes, somebody will just send you stuff. I'd mentioned somewhere in a comment on some blog that I'm trying to complete the 1987 Topps set. This is my favorite set from the late 1980s. I'm not trying very hard but cards from this set seem to always be available in in repacks. David over at TribeCards offered to send me some 1987 Topps from a repack he'd just bought. He sent me about 12 cards, of which I needed 3. Later he offered to send me more if I would send him my 1987 Topps want list. How could I refuse? Today I got 18 cards in the mail from him, including these two pictured.

I'm not really a set collector and I could buy the whole set on eBay for about 5 bucks. But this is more fun.

The only way I going to get people to keep sending me cards is to send them cards back. Luckily, I've got a lot of cards I don't really care about (but that other people will care about) in boxes in my den closet.

I'll be getting a bunch of random Indians cards out to David as soon as I can.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

2008 Topps Allen & Ginter

Many of us in the BCB have been waiting for this set to show up at the local Target or WalMart. Others have already purchased hobby boxes (for big bucks, I'm sure). I was content to wait. Finally, they showed up at WalMart last Friday. This is the 3rd year for A&G. I really like them but I've got a problem. The cards are virtually the same as the 2006 and 2007 issues. The only significant difference is in the logo at the bottom of the card. The set does have new types of inserts. A&G was originally a tobacco card in 1897. These cards featured lots more than just baseball players. Topps has attempted to recreate the look and feel of those original cards. I bought two blaster boxes for $19.95 each which netted me 16 packs (118 cards). I only got two Phillies but at least one was Chase.Something new this year is state cards. Apparently there is a card for each state featuring a ball player from the state. Does every state have a baseball player born there? Probably. I got a few of these and happily got Pennsylvania (my home state), which has Ken Griffey, Jr., who was born in Donora PA.
I also got a relic card. The relic cards are grouped into Group A, Group B, and Group C, each with different odds of being pulled. The McCann card is in Group C, the most common, at one per 36 packs. Since I only bought 16 packs, I guess I beat the odds. The relic cards look just like last year's relic cards. There is a mini-card with the relic, encased in a frame which is sealed in plastic. There is a hole in the plastic over the piece of cloth so you can touch it (ohh!). The mini-card is loose in the frame.
Something new this year is World Icon cards. These are mini-cards. It's hard to tell from the scan but this card is the same size as the McCann mini-card above. This is a samurai named Miymoto Musashi, from 1584. Pretty cool but I think I'd rather have gotten King Arthur.
Also new this year are mini-cards featuring world leaders. I got two of these including this one. He is the prime minister of Slovakia. After reading the entry about him in Wikipedia, I've decided I don't want to know anything about Slovakian politics. This card makes him look like a thug, but apparently he is not.
The set is subtitled "World's Champions" and like in the past two years, Topps has featured non-baseball "champions". So what is this guy? Why he's a champion air guitarist! Are they serious? I could have easily gone to my grave not seeing this picture.

Monday, August 11, 2008

300 All-Time Stars Baseball Cards in 1988 (4)

This is a continuation of a series of cards listed in the 300 All-Time Stars Baseball Cards published by Consumer Digest as an investment guide for baseball card collectors. See the previous post here. To recap, any text in quotations is a direct quote from the book. I give an inflation adjusted value for the 1988 price in parentheses. And a note on price comparisons from 1988 to now. I don't know where Consumer Digest got their prices but I'm using Beckett for current prices because it's convenient. If you really want to know what a card is worth try looking for it on eBay.

Jack Clark - Clark was a 13th round draft pick of the Giants in 1973. He moved to the majors in 1975, had an 18-year career with the Giants, Cardinals, Yankees, Padres and Red Sox. He hit 340 homeruns (good for 81st on the all-time career list) and 1,441 K's (#53 career). The book doesn't have much to say about Clark's potential future card values beyond saying that if he stays healty it should help his cards. From 1987 on he played pretty complete seasons. In 1992 he was released by the Red Sox after batting just 0.210 for the season. Clark's rookie card, a 1977 Topps card is listed at $10. Beckett lists that card today at $3.00. Not much up-side potential there.

Will Clark - Will the Thrill was the #1 draft pick for the Giants in 1985 and debuted in the majors the next year. He played 15 years mostly for the Giants and the Rangers. Collector's apparently weren't too interested in his rookie cards in 1988, "in favor of more glamorous rookies such as Jose Canseco, Wally Joyner, and Bo Jackson". Clark had a pretty good career hitting 214 home runs and batting 0.303. He was also a 6-time All Star. But his chances for the HOF look slim as he's been retired for 18 years. His 1986 Topps Traded card, listed in 1988 for $1.50 is still $1.50. On a personal note, in the only game I ever saw at Candlestick Park, Will Clark hit a walk-off home run in extra innings to win the game. I saw this game in September and it was the coldest baseball game I ever attended.

Roger Clemens - What ever happened to this guy? "Clemens has captured the fancy of both card collectors and fans. Expect his cards to sell at top prices, and hang on to those you already own - they will appreciate in value as long as he stays healthy". Of course, Clemens went on to have a very long and very successful career, winning 354 games over 24 years and 5 Cy Young Awards. The book lists his 1985 Topps rookie card at $8.50 ($15.72). Beckett lists the card at $25. His 1985 Fleer card has done better, from $7 to $30. It may be too soon to tell how the recent steroids allegations may hurt his card values. The Fleer card was listed as $40 a year ago while the Topps card hasn't changed.

Vince Coleman -"Watch for Coleman's cards to appreciate in value, as he is the kind of exciting player collectors love. Any of Coleman's cards acquired at this point will be a good bet for the long haul". 1987 was Coleman's 3rd year in a row of stealing over 100 bases. But his career started downhill in 1986 as injuries , personal problems and run-ins with the law hampered him. In 1993 he threw a lit firecracker into a crowd of fans and injured 3 children. This is not the way to get into the Hall of Fame. His career ended in 1997 after 6 games for the Tigers in which he batted 0.071. He did manage to steal 752 bases which is good for the #6 spot in the career list. The book lists his 1985 Topps Traded rookie card at $4.00. It's no better than a common card today.

Dave Concepcion - "Oddly enough, most card collectors do not regard Concepcion as a true superstar, and his cards normally don't trade as high-ticket items". 1988 was the last year of Concepcion's 19-year career, all with the Reds. He was a 9-time All Star and an important part of the Red's Big Red Machine in the 1970s. He was a great defensive player but with not enough offense to get him into the Hall. His 1971 Topps rookie card was listed at $3.75 ($6.47). Beckett lists this card at $15 today making it a pretty good investment.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Song of the Week - Escalator of Life by Robert Hazard

In the early 1980's there was nobody bigger on the Philadelphia New Wave club scene than Robert Hazard and the heroes. They got a lot of radio play in Philly but I expect he was a local phenomenon. A native of Philadelphia, Hazard was a son of an opera singer. Cyndi Lauper had big hit (perhaps her signature hit) "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" which was written by Hazard. It has probably been more than 20 years since I've last heard "Escalator of Life". It doesn't seem like he's done much since then, according to Wikipedia. He died last Tuesday from pancreatic cancer. He was 59.

Got my Mazda at the E-Z Park It
At the rock & roll supermarket
Muzak music make me feel so funny
I went and spent all my money
We're riding on the escalator of life
We're shopping in the human mall
We're dancing on the escalator of life
Won't be happy 'til we have it all
We want it all
Escalator of life - up and down
Escalator of life - round and round
There's 111 choices
Don't listen to those little voices
I don't let the guilty feeling shake me
You can have your cake and eat it baby
We're riding on the escalator of life
We're shopping in the human mall
We're dancing on the escalator of life
Won't be happy 'til we have it all
We want it all
Escalator of life - up and down
Escalator of life - round and round
Hey girl, I'm a personal friend of Gloria Vanderbilt
I got all the gold in the world around my neck
Come ride the steel dinosaur
Run wild in the jungle
Its a Zulu Nation
Seduction, sacrifice, a new sensation
Nothing ever changes
We're riding on the escalator of life
We're shopping in the human mall
We're dancing on the escalator of life
Won't be happy 'til we have it all
We want it all
Escalator of life - up and down
Escalator of life - round and round

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Bonsai - Ivy

In some bonsai book, I saw a photograph of a bonsai ivy. I wouldn't ordinarily think of an ivy being a candidate for bonsai but the the picture was intriguing. The 'trunk' of the plant was maybe a half an inch thick, and it looked like a long established ivy you might see growing up a wall.

We had an ivy in the kitchen which was there because we've got an ivy-themed kitchen. But the plant wasn't doing well. I moved it upstairs to my bonsai window and it thrived. So much so, I took some clippings which readily rooted in water. Here was the raw material for a bonsai. I planted the cuttings in February 2007. It did well but then the winter of 2007 struck. It was dry in the house and I wasn't paying as much attention to the plants as I should have. Here is what it looked like by March of 2008. Pretty sad. To give you a sense of scale, the pot is about 2 inches high. But in the world of bonsai, as in real life, rebirth is possible. I decided to trim off the dead leaves, give it some fertilizer, and see what happened. By July, it looked like this. It's a happy plant now.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Trade with Throzul Will Rull

Thorzul announced a contest he called Trade Me Your Brewers! For 20 Brewers cards he would send back 20 cards of your favorite team. And then he would score the cards he got and the highest score would get a dual relic card. So I thought, I've got a lot of cards and I've got a lot of Brewers cards, most of which I don't really need. So what the heck? I've got two favorite teams, so he sent me Astros and Phillies cards.

The first 4 are from the 2001 Upper Deck Victory set. We're off to a good start. I don't have many cards from this set and I had no Phillies or Astros. Glen Barker I don't remember to much about. Daryle Ward was penciled in to be the next big thing of the Astros but wasn't. The Astros let him go after the 2003 season and he's knock about since then, not being able to land a starting role. Bruce Chen, who wants to talk about him? Kevin Sefcik was a part time player but an important part of the all Kevin infield that the Phillies could field in 1995. Besides Sefcik at 3rd, they had Kevin Stocker at short, Kevin Jordan (2nd, 3rd or 1st) and Kevin Elster (SS, 1st of 3rd). And just in case another Kevin was needed, they had Kevin Flora in the outfield. It must have been fun when someone called "Hey, Kevin!" in the Phillies clubhouse.
1998 Score Rookie/Traded - Scott Rolen cards are always appreciated but I already had this one. Bobby Abreu cards are also appreciated, and this one I didn't have. Abreu was an Astro before he was a Phillie.
1997 Zenith - Another great Rolen card which I already have.
2003 Fleer Tradition - Lance Berkman and Pat Burrell cards are always appreciated, but I had both of these. I always like this year of Fleer Tradition. The design was based on a 1970s Fleer set and they've used the design a few times since then.
2004 Fleer Inscribed - I have 18 2004 Roger Clemens cards in an Astros uniform, but I didn't have this one. Easily the best card in the lot. I still have a soft spot in my heart (or maybe in my head) for Roger.
2007 Bowman - I bought a lot of this set and have both of these. Gimenez has had only 2 AB for the Astros (back in 2006). Bourne has the potential to be a great lead-off guy but he's been hurt too much this year. He's also a former Phillie.
2007 Ultra Brad Lidge and 2006 Bowman Heritage Prospect Koby Clemens. Two more cards I have but good choices. Lidge was a big favorite here in Houston although he didn't have a good year in 2007. He's now having a great year with the Phillies, saving 28 of 28 chances. Clemens has yet to make it to the majors. I got his autograph at the 2006 Spring Training season, so I'm hoping he'll make it big.
2006 Bazooka 4-on-a-Sticker Not only didn't I have this card, I didn't have any of these, even though I bought a couple of blaster boxes of the Bazooka product. And it's Pat Burrell in the upper left corner.
2008 Bowman Chrome Prospect - I haven't started cataloging my 2008 purchases yet so I had to pull the cards out to see if I had this. A good choice, but I had it. Maybe this guy will hit it big, but Beckett doesn't think so as yet.

2008 Upper Deck Series II. Tejada has become a favorite this year in Houston and I'm glad the Astros got him. I didn't realize Jenkins was with the Phillies until a few days ago. It's fitting he's in this set since he was a long time Brewer and I sent Thorzul a few of his cards. Eaton was the Phillies first round draft pick in 1996 but the Phillies traded him with two other players to the Padres for Andy Ashby. Not a good trade. Eaton's been an ok pitcher and the Phillies signed him as a free agent before 2007. He was 10-10 last year but only 4-8 so far this year. I don't know much about Feliz. He was acquired this year from the Giants. I had all of these except the Eaton card.

So of the 20 cards Thorzul sent, I already had 12. But most were a good selection and I particularly like the Roger and the Bazooka cards. You can see what I sent him here. So far, with 7 entries, I'm winning the contest.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Thursday Night at the Movies - Hancock

Hancock got mixed reviews but we thought the trailers we saw looked interesting so we decided to see it. The movie has been out for almost a month and I guess interest has waned. We saw the movie with 3 other people. We liked the film. It is different from most of your superhero movies in that its not (as far as I know) based on a comic book. The story may not be all that original. Derelict superhero gets back his faith in himself, cleans himself up, faces a great personal challenge and pulls through. Change "superhero" for "Western sheriff", "New York City cop", "spaceship captain" or "businessman" and you've seen the story before. But if we stopped going to the movies because there aren't any new stories, movies would never have been invented in the first place. Some reviews have mentioned the "twist" in the story. Well, I didn't see it coming. My wife said she saw it in the trailers but even after re-watching the trailers, I'd have been hard pressed to spot it. There is about 1 second in each trailer which hints at it. Anyway, we liked it. I expect you'll have to get out to see it soon or it will be gone. We were going to see the new X-Files movie, regardless of the reviews, but it was showing at an inconvenient time and an inconvenient place. It will be gone by next week.

Trailer of the week was for the new James Bond movie with the inscrutable title Quantum of Solace. He is apparently out for revenge for something, but is he really?

I give Hancock 3 capes (out of 5).