Sunday, January 31, 2010

Song of the Week - Come What May From Moulin Rouge

I have 8,256 songs on iTunes. This is one of them.

I will confess to be somewhat of a closet musical lover. I particularly like musicals which take the genre in unexpected directions. Moulin Rouge is such a musical. The film has great music, much of it taken out of context from other settings. Exciting performances. And great actors. Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman, who could ask for more. And they can sing!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

2010 Card Show Finds Part 2 Random Relics

More stuff from the Tristar card show. I picked up all these relics for $2.50 each. I think that's pretty good, as you'd pay at least $2.50 for postage if you bought them on eBay. According to Beckett they book from $5 to $15. I made out better last year when I picked up 19 relic cards for under $3.00 each.

2000 E-X Genuine Coverate #35 Mike MussinaA pretty early relic card. I'm not sure what year relic cards first appeared but I don't have any older than from 2000. These were inserted at a rate of 1:144 into packs of 2000 E-X. There are 10 cards in the set. How can this card be #35 you ask? The cards were numbered with the players jersey number. The statement on the back reads "Congratulations! You have just received a card that contains a piece of an authentic, game-worn jersey. This jersey was worn by Mike Mussina of the Baltimore Orioles". A pretty clear statement that the jersey was worn by Mussina during an Orioles game.

2002 Bowman Draft Picks Freshman Fiber #FF-DB Dewon Brazelton
In 2002, I guess people thought Brazelton was going to be a big star. I have three of his early cards as reference cards. He was 8-25 in his 5-year career. "Congratulations! You have just received an authentic game-worn jersey card of Dewon Brazelton from 2002 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Baseball". Did Brazelton wear it? Was it worn in an actual game? Who knows?

2002 Sweet Spot Swatches #S-SR Scott Rolen
I already had a card from this set but it wasn't a Phillie. And this one has a stripe as well! The Phillies traded Rolen to the Cardinals in July of 2002. "Congratulations! You have received a Scott Rolen Game-Used Jersey trading card from The Upper Deck Company, LLC. On the front of this card is an authentic piece of a jersey worn by Scott Rolen in an official Phillies Major League Baseball game". Clear and to the point.

2002 Upper Deck Diamond Collection Bat Around Quads #BA-VRBR
This is pretty nice. The card features Robin Ventura, Scott Rolen (as a Cardinal)Adrian Beltre and Edgardo Alfonso. "Congratulations! You have received a Game-Used Bat trading card from The Upper Deck Company, LLC. On the front of this card are authentic pieces of bats used by Robin Ventura, Scott Rolen, Adrian Beltre and Edgardo Alfonso in official Major League Baseball games". Although I think "authentic" should probably modify "bats" rather than "pieces" (well, sure they are pieces but these are authentic pieces), it's another clear statement.

2004 Topps Pristine Fantasy Favorites Relics # FF-RFJ Rafael Furcal
There were 11 cards in this set. Becket doesn't give the insertion odds. Topps Pristine used their Chrome technology to produce this high-end set. "Congratulations! You have just received an Authentic Fantasy Favorites Game-Worn Jersey Card of Rafael Furcal from 2004 Topps Pristine Baseball". So the card is not a counterfeit (it's Authentic) but where did the jersey piece come from?

2005 Donruss Timber and Threads Bat #17 Jay Gibbons
Before they lost their baseball license (and even after) Donruss produced a bewildering number of sets and inserts. This card was an insert to the 2005 Donruss base set. There were 38 cards in the set. "The enclosed piece of bat was cut from an Authentic Bat personally used by Jay Gibbons in an official Major League Baseball game. The Authentic Game-Used Bat was obtained and is guaranteed by Donruss Playoff L.P." The best statement on any of these cards although I'm guessing that a guarantee by Donruss Playoff L.P. is pretty worthless today.

2005 Origins Materials Jersey #PD-JD J. D. Drew
I have several inserts from this set but no base cards. Assuming this card is patterned after the base card, it looks like the design is based on the 1940 Play Ball set. At least the name banner with the baseball equipment around it looks just like the Play Ball set. "Congratulations! You have received a Game-Used Card from The Upper Deck Company. On the front of this card is an authentic piece of a jersey worn by J. D. Drew in an official Braves Major League Baseball game". Another authentic piece but a strong statement in extremely small type.

2009 Topps Career Best Relics #CBR-OD Octavio Dotel
This 62-card set was inserted randomly in 2009 Topps Series 2 packs. I wonder why the jersey piece is shaped like a "P"? "You have just received a game-worn jersey relic card of Octavio Dotel. The relic contained on this card is not from any specific game, event or season". It could be just about anything.

Friday, January 29, 2010

2010 Card Show Finds Part 1 Old Phillies Cards

I knew that the 2010 Tristar Sports Card and Memorabilia Show was coming soon to Houston but I almost missed it. This is the second year that I have attended this show. It seemed to me that there were fewer dealers and customers at the show this year. I'll be featuring a number of posts over the next few weeks with stuff I got at the show. First up, some old Phillies cards.

1952 Bowman #200 Ken SilvestriHere's a Phillie I never heard of but it's a reasonably priced 1952 Bowman. I didn't own any of these. Silvestri played 3 years with the Phillies getting into about 10 games. On the back of this card it says that he has an important job with the Phillies as the bull-pen catcher. Wow! These 1952 Bowman cards are pretty nice. This one is a bit beat up, you can see crease running right over Ken's upper lip. This is also the oldest Phillie card that I own.

1952 Bowman Ray Coleman #201
Not a Phillie but another '52 Bowman. There are a lot of these available on eBay in the $2.50 to $4.50 range. I might get some more.

1955 Topps #62 Thorton Kipper
Another Phillie I don't really know except that I have the 1994 Topps 1954 Archives set card of Kipper. Topps used the same head shot of Kipper from the 1954 card on the 1955 card. This is my first 1955 Phillie card (and only the second one I own).

1960 Topps #486 Bobby Del Greco
I think there were a lot of guys who played for the Phillies in the 1950s and 1960s that I don't know. Here's another one. But it's the 4th 1960 Topps Phillies card I own.

1958 Topps #251 Warren Hacker
Hacker was 0-1 in 9 plate appearances for the Phillies in 1958. The 3rd 1958 Phillies card I own.

1967 Topps #309 Johnny Callison and Richie Allen
Besides the '52 Bowman, probably my favorite of this bunch. I love the caption "Hurlers Beware". Between them Callison and Allen hit 72 home runs and had 221 rbis in 1966. Hurlers beware indeed. The other thing I like about this card is Allen's pose. I don't think I have another baseball card where the player has his hand in his pocket.

1958 Topps #207 Solly Hemus
I found all of these cards at one dealer who had a big plastic tub of old cards. I and another guy were pawing through them looking for treasure. I found a 1954 Solly Hemus card with the Cardinals. I had remembered reading something about him in a baseball card book I read last year but couldn't remember what. I said to the other guy, "Hey, look, it's Solly Hemus". Turns out he was looking for that exact card. Then I found the '58 card. The other guy told me that Solly (short for Solomon) lived in Houston and was a rich man today. Hemus played several years for the Cardinals before being traded to the Phillies in 1956. After the 1958 season, he was traded back to the Cardinals. He was their player manager in 1959 and full time manager until sometime during the 1961 season. He was a coach and minor league manager for several years before retiring from baseball in 1966. According to Wikipedia, he moved to Houston and got into the oil business. In this photo, Hemus is 35 years old, but he looks more like 55. According to Wikipedia he was a hard-nosed character but, to me, he looks like your friendly old Uncle Solly.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Cards from Phungo

I got a nice little package from Phungo the other day. Here are a few of the cards he sent along.

2004 Upper Deck Play Ball Lance Berkman #46In 2004, we weren't sick of retro cards. This is a nice set of which I have very few cards.

2008 Topps Heritage Greg Dobbs #625
As near as I can tell, Dobbs only had two regular issue cards in 2008, this and the regular Topps (not counting parallels of course). Dobbs hit .301 in 226 at bats for the Phillies in 2008 and had a pretty good, though limited, post season. 2009 wasn't as good a year for him. He only had 2 cards in 2009 as well, O-Pee-Chee and Upper Deck.

2002 Upper Deck Vintage Morgan Ensberg/Tim Redding #134
Upper Deck produced this Vintage set from 2002 through 2004. The designs were mostly blatant copies of early Topps designs. Sort of like Upper Deck Topps Heritage.

Like a number of other bloggers, myself included, Phungo has been designing his own baseball cards. He takes it one or two steps farther. The photos he features on his cards were taken by himself. And he makes print copies. Here are a couple he sent me.

This one may be a Black Frame insert (I think new for 2010). In addition to the black border, it is printed in glossy paper.
Here is his Harry Kalas memorial card. I really appreciate this.
I just happened to be in Philadelphia visiting relatives last year when Harry (he was always Harry to the fans) passed away. It was a sad time.

Monday, January 25, 2010

My 500th post

This is my 500th post to the blog. I was hoping to do something spectacular but I'm completely devoid of ideas. But I couldn't let such a large round number go by without some comments.My first post was on February 3, 2008, so it's also almost the 2nd anniversary of the blog.
According to the hit count thing I have on the sidebar, I've had 27,146 hits since I've started. I don't really trust the counter and I know it reset itself a couple of times. Not as many hits as some baseball card blogs but since I had pretty low expectations when I started, I can't complain.
According to the followers widget, I have 37 followers. Usually when I sign up as a follower on someone's blog, I read it pretty much every day. If I had 37 people reading my blog every day I'd be pretty amazed.
More numbers. I've been collecting baseball cards since 1985, when I was 34 years old. I became a real baseball fan around 1970. For whatever reason I wasn't a big fan of sports when I was a kid. In the past 25 years or so, I've amassed 72,173 different baseball cards. Counting doubles, I have 86,539 total cards. And that's not counting most of the cards I bought last weekend at the big card show (blog posts to follow).
Another collection I feature here is my bonsai plants. I have 13 bonsai plants. 3 of these were store bought, the others I've started myself. In the past 2 years, I've lost another 4 or 5 plants which just didn't work out.
I also feature a song a week here from my song collection. I currently have 8,444 songs in iTunes. I get songs from purchased CDs, from library CDs, from recording songs from vinyl albums I own to MP3s (a tedious process), buying songs from the iTunes store, or from several song-a-day podcasts.
I'm also a avid reader. I occasionally feature a book I've read on the blog and at the end of both 2008 and 2009 I ran a long post on all the books I read for the year. I read between 50 and 60 books a year. I have a 40-minute commute to work so I like to listen to book CDs as I drive which helps keep up the total.
Well, if you've managed to get this far thanks for reading. I read once that the average blog had a readership of 1. If that's true I'm doing way better than average. I thank you each and every one that you choose to take some time out to read what I have to say. A few months ago I announced that I was going to retire from the blog but I got enough favorable comments that I decided to stick with it. I'm glad I did.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Song of the Week - Heart Like A Wheel by Kate and Anna McGarrigle

I have 8,446 songs on iTunes. This is one of them.

Kate and Anna McGarrigle were a Canadian sister folk singing duo. This song by them is one of my favorite songs. Kate was the song writer of the pair. In this video she is playing the piano. She was married to Loudon Wainwright III in the early 19702. They had two singer-songwriter children, Rufus and Martha. I'm sad to say that Kate died last Monday, at 63, of cancer.

Some say a heart is just like a wheel
When you bend it, you can't mend it
And my love for you is like a sinking ship
And my heart is like that ship out in mid ocean

They say that death is a tragedy
It comes once and it's over
But my only wish is for that deep dark abyss
'Cause what's the use of living with no true lover

And it's only love, and it's only love
That can wreck a human being and turn him inside out
That can wreck a human being and turn him inside out

When harm is done no love can be won
I know this happens frequently
What I can't understand
Oh please God hold my hand
Is why it should have happened to me

And it's only love and it's only love
And it's only love and it's only love
Only love, only love
Only love, only love

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Thursday Night at the Movies - The Book of Eli

When we first saw the previews for this, many months ago, I thought it was The Road. But that has Viggo Mortenson, not Denzel Washington. So another post-apocalyptic movie was upon us. The Book of Eli features Denzil Washington, looking pretty bad-ass as he travels across the blasted remains of America.He is on a quest, to deliver the last copy of the Bible to some mythical place in the west. Along the way he easily dispatches various desperate villains but meets his match in Gary Oldham, who has set himself up as despot in a small town. The movie is filmed with a weird light that gave me the chills. Apparently, the "war" ripped a "hole in the sky" which, even 30 years later, will blind you (hence the bad-ass sunglasses).

This is one of those movies that I liked while I was watching it, and still would recommend it, but after I got home, problems with the plot started to bother me.

There are some spoilers ahead but I won't reveal the details of the conclusion. Eli has been walking west for 30 years carrying, what he believes, is the last copy of the Bible in the world. It is not clear how he knows this. He says that all the copies of the Bible were rounded up and destroyed because a lot of people believed it was the cause of the war. It is never revealed, beyond that, what the war was about. It sure caused a lot of damage. The town that Oldman runs is a near ruin. After 30 years, nobody seems to have made any attempt at fixing anything. The movie veers dangerously close to Mad Max territory here. The town has a secure water supply but apparently the only thing to eat is 30 year old canned goods. Oldman thinks he can resurrect civilization, if only he had a Bible to give moral authority to his words. This is nonsense. Hardly anyone around can remember a time before the war, most are too young. He could just make stuff up to give him the moral authority he thinks he needs. Even without that, he has a loyal group of strongmen backing him up and control of the water. And lots of guns. And apparently lots of gasoline (the Mad Max connection). Then again, it may be that everyone is doomed anyway and only Oldman doesn't know it.

I'm still waiting for The Road. The book, by Cormac McCarthy, was one of the most depressing books I ever read. The movie had a very limited opening in Houston (one theater). A few weeks ago I saw an ad in the paper that says it's playing "everywhere", but as near as I can tell, it's playing nowhere.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Cards from Dinged Corners

The ladies at Dinged Corners were having a clearance so I put in my order. They also set along a nice random set of Phillies and Astros, about half of which I didn't have. How do they do it? I'll be keeping my eye out for David Wright and Curtus Granderson cards for them. Here's just a small sample of what they sent.

2007 Bowman Heritage Foil Chase Utley No Signature variation #193I already had the base card and the base card no signature variation of this card. The base card no sig card is a short print but apparently, the foil no sig variation is not a short print. This was one of my favorite years of Bowman Heritage and I really like the foil cards. It's the only no sig foil card I have.

2008 Topps Moments and Milestones Autographs Felipe Paulino #RA-FP
I now have the honor of owning two 2008 Felipe Paulino cards with sticker autos. The other is from the Topps Co-Signers set. According to today's Houston Chronicle, Paulino will be competing in spring training for the 4th or 5th starting pitcher spot. He was 3-11 in 17 starts in 2009 with an ERA of 6.27. I think he's going to have to better than that in 2010.

2007 Bowman Heritage Pieces of Greatness Craig Biggio # PG-CB
2007 was Biggio's final season. By the time I got to the Houston area in 1995, Biggio was in his 8th season. But I'd been a fan of his for years. It was a pleasure to see him play for 12 more years.

2002 Disabled American Veterans Craig Biggio
Disabled American Veterans is a non-profit group which helps disabled American veterans. I didn't know this but apparently they sponsor special events at a number of ball parks every summer and some teams produce DAV cards for the games.

2008 SP Authentic By The Letter Signatures Geoff Jenkins

I recently purchased this card from I'd see the site mentioned by other bloggers so I thought I'd give it a try. They seem to have a pretty good selection of cards and the prices were reasonable.So what is this card? It contains a manufactured patch with Geoff Jenkins' autograph. The idea here is that there are 32 cards which all together spell our Geoff Jenkins Philadelphia Phillies. This card is numbered 6/50. Different letters must have different counts. Beckett says there are 1,200 of these and 50x32 is 1,600.
I know that some don't like these manufactured patch cards but I think they are kind of cool. And it does have an on-card signature although since it is signed on the fabric, the signature is hard to read. This is a good example of a card I would probably never own if not for eBay or According to Beckett the overall autograph odds for hobby boxes are 1:8. But I'm never going to buy a hobby box of a set like this. I don't like the base cards much. Plus there are a number of different autograph cards in the set. So even if I bought a box (and presumably got an autograph card), the odds of getting one of these are pretty high. And the odds of getting a Geoff Jenkins card must be astronomical.

The only physical objection I have to the card is it's thickness. It is much thicker than it needs to be which will make it difficult, it not impossible to get into an album page.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Virtual Bike Tour of Baseball Sites - Arkansas City Kansas

I had a long layoff from the gym over the holidays. First, I got a bad cold around Thanksgiving which cost me a week. Then things got busy at home. Then it was just one excuse after another. But no more excuses for awhile. I got back last week. My next stop is a little detour to Arkansas City Kansas, the birthplace of Darren Daulton. Click on the map to get a better look.I'm taking the easy way for this post and just posting a mess of Daulton cards, pretty much one for each year of his career.

1985 Fleer Update #33
1986 Donruss #477
1987 Topps Tiffany #636
1988 Tastykake
Tastykake is a local Philadelphia pastry company. They used to publish these cards as give aways at Vet Stadium back in the 1980s.

1989 Upper Deck #448
1990 Leaf #369
1991 Topps #89
1992 Studio Heritage #13
1993 Upper Deck Iooss Collection #17
1994 Ultra Phillies Finest Autograph #2
This Daulton autograph is one of my favorite cards.

1995 Topps Embossed #61
1996 Stadium Club#106
1998 Topps #218
I'm using this Topps card to represent his 1997 season as he retired at the end of 1997. Daulton was traded to the Marlins in July of 1997. He went 7-18 with 1 HR in the 1997 World Series as the Marlins beat the Indians for the Championship.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Song of the Week - You Set The Scene by Love

I have 8,349 songs on iTunes. This is one of them.

I just featured a 1960's psychedelic song last week but this song popped up on my iPod and I had to see if I could find something on YouTube.

The band Love, fronted by Arthur Lee (sometimes Arthur Li) released the album in 1967. Wikipedia says many critics consider it one of the best records from the '60s. I won't get into that argument, especially since I don't own the album. My first exposure to Love was from their 'greatest hits' album Love Revisited which was released in 1969. "You Set The Scene" is my favorite song on the album. Lee had a pretty tortured career including 5 1/2 years in prison for illegal firearms possession. When he got out of prison in 2001, he began touring again as Arthur Lee and Love. I suspect that this video is from that era. It is a pretty faithful recreation of the studio version, even down to the horn and string arrangements. Lee died in 2006 of leukemia.

Where are you walking, I've seen you walking
Have you been there before?
Walk down your doorsteps, you'll take some more steps
What did you take them for?

There's a private in my boat and he wears
Pins instead of medals on his coat
There's a chicken in my nest and she won't
Lay until I've given her my best

At her request she asks for nothing
You get nothing in return
If you want she brings you water
If you don't then you will burn

You go through changes, it may seem strange
Is this what you're put here for?
You think you're happy and you are happy
That's what you're happy for

There's a man who can't decide if he should
Fight for what his father thinks is right
There are people wearing frowns who'll screw you up
But they would rather screw you down

At my request I ask for nothing
You get nothing in return
If you're nice she'll bring me water
If you're not then I will burn

This is the time and life that I am living
And I'll face each day with a smile
For the time that I've been given's such a little while
And the things that I must do consist of more than style
There are places that I am going
There'll be time for you to start all over
This is the only thing that I am sure of
And that's all that lives is gonna die
And there'll always be some people here to wonder why
And for every happy hello, there will be good-bye
There'll be time for you to put yourself on

Everything I've seen needs rearranging
And for anyone who thinks it's strange
Then you should be the first to want to make this change
And for everyone who thinks that life is just a game
Do you like the part you're playing

I see your picture
It's in the same old frame
We meet again...

You look so lovely
You with the same old smile
Stay for a while...

I need you so, oh, oh, oh, oh
And if you take it easy
I'm still teethin'
I wanna love you, but
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh...

This is the time and life that I am living
And I'll face each day with a smile
For the time that I've been given's such a little while
And the things that I must do consist of more than style
There are places that I am going
There'll be time for you to start all over

This is the time and this is the time and
It is time, time, time, time, time, time, time, time, time...

Friday, January 15, 2010

Thursday Night at the Movies - Up In The Air

I am a big George Clooney fan. I think I could watch a film that just featured him reading names out of the phone book. Up In The Air is an entirely character driven film. By that, I mean, that the film is about the characters in the film and the way they cope with their ordinary lives. No explosions, no trumped up murder charges, no blue-skinned aliens or mistaken identies.

The last two Clooney movies we saw were The Men Who Stare at Goats and Burn After Reading which feature the madcap Clooney. Up In The Air features the dramatic Clooney. In the film, he plays Ryan Bingham. Bigngham's job is contract firing, that is, his firm is hired by companies wishing to lay people off. Bingham flies in, does the deed and flies out.He pretty much lives in airports and hotels. He has a crappy apartment in Omaha, where his firm is located, but is hardly ever there. And he is happy with this existence, or at least thinks he is. But things happen that start to shake him in his belief that he can live his life with little or no human connection. A new hire at the firm thinks she has a better way to do business which will mean he won't have to travel anymore. He meets a woman on the road and they have wild sex (mostly hinted at) and starts wanting to see her more often. He goes to his sister's wedding and finds that his family never thinks about him. All this gets resolved, maybe a bit predictably, but it's a good story and Clooney is terrific.

The film also has a personal resonance for me. I don't think I even mentioned it in the blog but I was let go this summer from the company I had worked for for 35 years. I was the victim of a merger between my company and a larger firm. I was shocked but not totally surprised. Due to experience I had in my particular specialized field I didn't think I'd be out of work long. And I wasn't. I had two offers within about 5 weeks, picked one and I am quite happy with my new position.

In the movie there are many scenes of people's reactions to their being fired. I could easily see myself in some of them. But I'll tell you, it would have been easier to take if they had brought in George Clooney to deliver bad news.