Friday, September 30, 2011

Jared Kelley Signs With In The Game

Back in July I highlighted artist Jared Kelley and his Upper Deck Masterpiece cards of Wayne Gretzky, Gordie Howe and Mark Messier. You may also recognize his name if you are a fan of the 2011 Upper Deck Goodwin Champions release, Jared is the artist who painted half of the US Presidents Goodwin Masterpieces cards. A couple of his Presidential Masterpiece cards are currently up for auction including a James Madison, a James Monroe and a Zachary Taylor.

He is in collecting news again with his recent signing deal with In The Game where he will be producing work for the 2012 Sport Kings Series E; set to be released early next year. According to Dr. Price, he is hoping to add something new to his products and as a fan of Jared’s work I am looking forward to his new artwork.

I have talked with Jared and he let me know that the Magic Johnson card that is appearing with the announcement is in fact one of his paintings that will be included in the 2012 Sport King Series E release.

To keep up with his work you can follow Jared’s blog.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

WOW! A Sweet Lou Gehrig Relic... maybe not...

First I would like to thank Sooz from A Cardboard Problem for bringing this auction to light (courtesy of @JuddFamily Stone on Twitter) but it appears that once again Topps is giving collectors a middle finger followed up by a “Suck It!”

In the 2008 Topps Triple Threads release Topps included a fake Ruth/Gehrig autograph card:

 In the 2010 Topps Sterling release we saw this beautiful game-worn Honus Wagner polyester jersey card:

Now let’s fast forward about 10 months and take a look at this sweet Lou Gehrig 1/1 Bat Knob card (which would have been awesome on its own) but to make it even more awesomer (Is that even a word?) Topps adds in two game used relics including a pin stripe. How fucking cool is that?

Here is a close up of the game-used relics:

…Oh wait… aren’t those relics… um…polyester? Why yes they are…but didn’t polyester uniforms show up in the 1970s some 30+ years after Gehrig died? Why yes, you are correct again.

I expect to once again hear crickets coming from Topps corner when people start asking for an explanation. I do like the addition of “The Relics contained on this card are not from any specific game, event or season” as a way of CYA. Maybe they should consider adding in “Any specific player” to the list too to ensure complete coverage.

 If this card is indeed real and pulled from a sealed pack from Topps there is a serious problem, especially considering that it has happened before. Some sort of verification needs to be ensured with autographs and memorabilia and I thought cards like this were hand packed which means that it should have been caught during manufacturing or at least during the pack out. Anyone that spends any amount of time producing sports cards can tell you the difference between a polyester jersey  and a wool flannel jersey.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Custom Cards- Movie Edition: Dead Man

After an exhausting few weeks I have finally found some quite time to relax and I got the chance the other day to watch Dead Man, an independent Western film made in 1995 featuring Johnny Depp and Gary Farmer. You will also see Robert Mitchum in one of his final films, Crispin Glover playing a creepy guy (besides Back To the Future, does he know any of the type of character?), Iggy Pop as a cross-dresser and Billy Bob Thornton as one strange-ass trapper who loves beans.

The movie is not your standard western but if you appreciate a well written, although strange movie, this is definitely well worth the time to watch it if you have the chance. I just felt the need to build a set off of the film, the grainy black & white visuals and historical connection just seemed right to see the major character on cardboard.

There was never a time reference so I did not have a date to build off of but the 1887 Old Judge set seemed to be a nice fit. There were no real printing standards at the time and if you view the cards from the era you will see a lot of variety even within the same set and I love the sepia coloring. This will allow me to change things up.

I started with the 2 main characters, William Blake (Depp) and Nobody (Farmer) and then I will build on to the set. I also have a Train Fireman card (Glover) because he is one of the first characters you meet in to the movie. Up next will probably be John Scholfield (Hurt) and John Dickinson (Mitchum) when I get the chance.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Preview Images: 2011 Leaf Pete Rose Legacy

In a couple of months (November) the 2011 Leaf Pete Rose Legacy set will be hitting the shelves and from what images that have been released it appears that it may be similar to the Leaf Muhammad Ali release.

There will be a decent selection of hits including some very interesting inscription autograph cards (including Rose-isms and Nicknames) along with jersey and bat relics plus patches, name plates and tags, which apparently came from an Expos uniform. Odd considering he spent only 1 year in Montreal and that was the direction that Leaf went with the relics. But I am sure that most Rose fans will be happy just to have the opportunity to pull Rose autographs and relics out of packs again.

No prices or pre-order information has been released and only the word “high-end” has been used to describe the product so we may be looking at $75-100/pack and possibly a similar pack out to Leaf’s Ali product.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Preview Images Topps Chrome Football Autographs

Topps Chrome Football is set to hit shelves at the end of October but Topps is already working on the on-card rookie autograph cards and have posted up some images from Mark Ingram’s signed cards on their Twitter page. I have to say they do appeal to me with the Bowman Chrome being my favorite, but for some reason I am not feeling it with the refractor.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Who Is A What?

While not sports related I thought this was too funny not to bring it up. The other day a seller posted this Civil War era picture up for auction for $1,000,000 claiming a famous connection. The picture was taken in 1864 and is a photograph of Lt. G.B. Smith, a Confederate prisoner being held in an Ohio POW prison.

The reason for the $1,000,000 opening bid price? The seller claims that this picture is a 146-year old piece of evidence that Nicholas Cage is in fact a vampire.

After receiving numerous questions and comments in the Q&A section pointing out holes in his theory, the seller has since removed this item from sale. 

 I have to admit, upon first glance the two do look similar and if you were to tell me that Lt. Smith and Nicholas Cage were related I would definitely say that is a possibility but as for being a vampire I don’t see it. Cage has aged seriously since his “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” and “Valley Girl” days and as someone humorously pointed out… vampires supposedly cannot be photographed.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Leaf Responds To Topps Lawsuit

Recently Topps filed a lawsuit against Leaf because of the inclusion of graded Topps cards in Leaf's Best of Baseball release. Leaf and Brian Gray have responded according to the Facebook page:

Leaf Trading Cards, LLC has filed a counterclaim against The Topps Company, Inc. seeking a declaratory judgment, actual damages, punitive damages, attorneys’ fees, and costs. These claims were filed along with an answer to Topps’ complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York regarding the marketing and sale of Leaf’s 2011 “Best of Baseball” product. Brian Gray, Leaf’s President stated that “Leaf respects the intellectual property rights of its competitors, but Topps’ lawsuit is a wrongful attempt to exercise monopolistic control in the trading card industry. Leaf is entitled to advertise products by displaying images of products that we legally acquired and are entitled to sell. We are confident that the court will vindicate our business practices.”

Additionally, Brian Gray said “Leaf respects the intellectual property rights of its competitors, but Topps’ lawsuit is a wrongful attempt to exercise monopolistic control in the trading card industry. Leaf is entitled to advertise products by displaying images of products that we legally acquired and are entitled to sell. We are confident that the court will vindicate our business practices.”

Being a graphic designer I have worked with copyrights, I have copyrighted designs and I have worked with copyrighted images and graphics both in personal projects as well as “Work for hire” projects. I actually just did a study and research paper recently on the copyright laws in comparison to public-domain and fair use laws in regards to artistic work.

The problem that Topps will have is that Leaf is not advertising that they created the Topps product nor are they including the name Topps in any of the pre-sales information/copy. They even clearly state “Graded” and “Graded/Slabbed” and do not list any corporate names. Yes they do include images of the Topps cards (which may be a sticking point for Topps) but they purchased these cards on the secondary-market and as an end-user have the legal right to sell them as long as the product is represented properly. Think of this as you selling a Topps card on eBay, you can list Topps in the title and description and you can include an image of the card as long as you do not attempt to make claim to creating the design or create a new product and list it as a Topps creation.

The only thing that may come out of this, on Topps side, would be the requirement that Leaf remove any images of Topps product from their sales materials but I would be floored if a judge issues an order halting Leaf from selling the product or removing Topps cards from the release. If anything harsher were to happen it would set precident that potentially could handcuff dealers, retailers and even people selling items on eBay or at auction. We would be at the mercy of Topps’ legal team, which could get as bad as an Orwellian society forcing us to request permission to list a Topps product for sale.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Preview Images 2011 Topps Five Star Football

Topps posted up some pictures of the upcoming high-end 2011 Five Star Football release. Pretty sweet Montana/Rice dual auto. How cool would it be to see a Dave Krieg/Steve Largent dual auto? I know... not going to happen but I can hope right?

If you had the disposable income ($500/pack) would you pick up some packs?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A&G Minds That Made The Future

Rounding out my favorite inserts from the 2011 Topps Allen & Ginters set is not from the minis category but is one that I am glad Topps chose to add to the release. The Minds That Made The Future set at 40 cards is the largest non-baseball insert set (not counting the 50 States Relic set) but is also the most informative set by far.

Because the list is extremely long and it would take some seriously long and detailed research to cover them all I decided to just list them and hit on a couple that are important to me or contain some interesting facts.

MMF1 Leonardo da Vinci
MMF2 Alexander G. Bell
MMF3 Eli Whitney
MMF4 Nicolaus Copernicus
MMF5 Johannes Gutenberg
MMF6 George W. Carver
MMF7 Samuel Morse
MMF8 Granville Woods
MMF9 Elisha Otis
MMF10 Alessandro Volta
MMF11 Tycho Brahe
MMF12 Gregor Mendel
MMF13 Carl Linnaeus
MMF14 Johannus Kepler
MMF15 Isaac Newton
MMF16 Marie Curie
MMF17 Carl Friedrich Gauss
MMF18 Sigmund Freud
MMF19 Bernhard Riemann
MMF20 Leonhard Euler
MMF21 Robert Fulton
MMF22 Ada Lovelace
MMF23 Florence Nightingale
MMF24 Nikola Tesla
MMF25 Galileo Galilei
MMF26 Charles Darwin
MMF27 Louis Pasteur
MMF28 Guglielmo Marconi
MMF29 Antoine Lavoisier
MMF30 Michael Faraday
MMF31 Dmitri Mendeleev
MMF32 Robert Koch
MMF33 Euclid
MMF34 Archimedes
MMF35 Jagadish Chandra Bose
MMF36 Aristotle
MMF37 John Deere
MMF38 George Eastman
MMF39 Samuel Colt
MMF40 Benjamin Franklin

Leonardo da Vinci- I was fortunate enough to study his art in college, he was advance well beyond his years and is most connected to the European Renaissance artistic movement more than any other artist. He did everything with a scientific approach; he took detailed notes and kept all of his anatomy studies in journals for future reference. Only a few of his paintings remain but a number of his journals have been found detailing his life’s work.

He was known for being a procrastinator, often leaving paintings and other art projects unfinished. Did you know that he would take completed paintings and re-use them by painting over them to try new paints or styles, which would ruin the original painting? See, art school prepared me for an awesome game of Trivial Pursuit.

Samuel Morse-  .... . / .-- .- ... / .- -. / .. -. ...- . -. - --- .-.

 Sorry, I could not help myself there. This dude was a conspiracist that felt other countries were attempting to stymie America’s freedom. He hated immigrants and Catholics, was a racist and an anti-Semite. Strange how those little tid-bits do not make it in to the history books.

Tycho Brahe- He was an astronomer during a time when if your belief did not jive with everyone else you could be tortured or killed but a more interesting fact? His nose was cut off in a duel and he wore a fake nose the remainder of his life made out of copper but on occasion he may have worn a silver or gold nose.

Benjamin Franklin- What da Vinci was to the European Renaissance Franklin was to America’s history. He was a politician but also an inventor and an amazing writer who was able to see the world through other’s eyes. Look up Richard Saunders (Poor Richard), Silence Dogood, Miss Busy Body, Anthony Afterwit or Alice Addertongue and you will get an idea how his mind worked.

 I only pulled the Leonardo da Vinci card from this set, the one card that I really wanted, and it is difficult to find more then a handful of cards sold in a lot together so I definitely will not be building this set.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Woops, Somebody Made A Mistake

Today's WTF moment goes to Panini.

I open up Panini's Donruss Facebook page this morning and I am greeted by the top two most recent posts on their page. Looks like someone missed something.

Warning:The images are NSFW

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Just An Observation

I was reading through Upper Deck’s blog and they had a story about Taylor Hall’s on-card autographed rookie patch card from the 2010-11 NHL The Cup release. The story is about how the packs are hand collated to ensure an even pack out of the high-end cards and to ensure that the cards are not damaged while going in to this $300/pack product.

The story swings to Taylor Hall’s autographed cards and how they had to insert redemptions for his cards because he did not get the signed cards back in time to make it to pack out.

Now take a look at these 99 cards… This kid is damn consistent with his autograph. Besides a little swop here or loop there his signatures are almost dead on with each card.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Chance At A Sweet Pull From Dominion Hockey

Following the a Stanly Cup Finals, players from the winning team are each issued an authentic miniature replica Lord Stanley Cup for their own personal collection. These trophies are an exact duplicate of the official Cup but are only 13” tall and are inscribed with the team name, year and each player’s name.

Over the years a handful of the official miniature cups have shown up for sale, though it is more common to find replicas which normally run $15-50 depending on the team and year. I have seen a couple of the replicas that were autographed running around $250 each. But the official player’s trophy cups, when they show up for sale, can run in to the thousands. Doing a quick search I found a 78-79 Montreal Canadiens Cup, which sold in 2003, for $2,700 and a 74-75 Philadelphia Flyers Cup currently selling for $12,000.

Panini has added a sweet redemption to their 2010-11 Dominion Hockey set, which sells for $350/8-card pack. They have added redemption for an authentic 78-79 Montreal Canadiens’ Cup from an unnamed player. On the Knights Lance blog Tracy says that the trophy cup was picked up at auction earlier this year for $4,000 and their will only be a single redemption card available. This would definitely make any collector’s dream pull.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Gone But Never Forgotten

It has now been 10 years since one of the most devastating days in American history, to borrow a phrase from Franklin D Roosevelt; September 11, 2001 is a date which will live in infamy.

 Like most of my readers I will always remember that day, it is imprinted in my memory. The disbelief, the horror and the fear of what may follow was on the forefront of everyone's mind. Waiting for phone calls from family members back East seemed like they could not come fast enough and each time someone called we felt a sigh of relief. Unfortunately one phone number never showed up on our caller ID that day, or any day since. My cousin was aboard Flight 175 that struck the South Tower that morning. We miss him dearly...

This is truly a day we will never forget.

Friday, September 9, 2011

A&G Mini Univited Guests Set

The Uninvited Guests 10-card mini set is the final group of minis from the 2011 Topps Allen & Ginters release that draws my interest. I actually had written up a post about this set yesterday but ended up deleting it before posting it but I decided to just go through with it and do a write up.

Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery- This cemetery is an old, now abandoned, cemetery outside of Chicago. The cemetery was used between the late 1830s and 1989 and there were as many as 200 tombstones at one time but with over 20 years of vandalism, satanic rituals and just neglect there are only 20 tombstones now. 

 The first reports of paranormal activity go back to the 1960s with the 1970s and 1980s being a high time for reports. In the 1990s ghost hunters showed up in force and some of the most famous sightings came during this period including the “White Lady” (also known as “Madonna”) in 1991. People have claimed to see floating orbs, a black dog that vanishes and a couple people have even claimed to see a spectral house.

The White Lady

The White House- Probably the most famous haunted location on this list hauntings have been reported back in to the 1800s. The most notable sighting is Abraham Lincoln who can be seen in the Lincoln Bedroom or walking through the halls and some have said he will knock on doors late at night. Other sightings include Abigail Adams hanging laundry, Andrew Jackson has been seen in different rooms laughing or screaming and swearing and Dolly Madison’s ghost saved her rose garden after Woodrow Wilson’s second wife demanded that the garden be removed. There is also a sighting of a British soldier with a torch who roams the grounds, he is said to be part of the group of soldiers who set the original White House on fire in 1814.

Waverly Hills Sanatorium- The sanatorium, which started innocently as a homestead, was eventually sold and opened in 1910 as a hospital for tuberculosis patients. The sanatorium closed in 1961 and was reopened as Woodhaven Geriatrics Hospital, though it should be noted that it is rumored to have also treated the mentally ill. After the hospital closed in 1981 due to patient abuse the building went through renovations then abandoned and then eventually sold and it is now being operated as a paranormal tourist location.

Some people claim that over 64,000 people died in the hospital and their ghosts still roam the halls but a more accurate total is around 1,800 people. There are two locations that most people attribute to the hauntings, Room 502 where a nurse committed suicide by hanging (or was murdered it was never determined) and another nurse committed suicide by jumping out of the window. The other location is the Body Chute, a tunnel under the hospital where staff entered and left through and then later the dead were brought out through the tunnel to keep the bodies out of sight from the other patients. The most notorious sightings are a woman running from the front entrance bleeding and a little girl playing ball on the third level.

Villisca Axe Murder House- In June 1912 someone, who had been hiding inside the Moore’s house, murdered the entire family plus two neighbor girls who were sleeping over. It is said the person was hiding in a front closet and when the family went to sleep he crept out and killed everyone with an axe. There were a couple of suspects including Reverend George Kelly and State Senator Frank F Jones, but nobody was ever convicted. Some even believe that Jones did not kill the family but hired a hit man William Mansfield. Mansfield later became one of the prime suspects after his wife and family was killed 2 years later in a similar style and a similar axe murder in Colorado two days before the Moore’s murder was also attributed to Mansfield.

Former tenants of the house have reported seeing a ghost-like figure carrying an axe, shoes filling with blood and closet doors opening and closing. You can now take a tour of the house or even stay overnight.

The Amityville Haunting- I have a personal connection with this story. My grandfather was friends with the DaFeos before they were murdered and he was living in nearby Massapequa, I was living about 10 miles away in West Islip but I was only a toddler at the time. The fact of the story is in November 1974 Butch DaFeo and his sister Dawn, along with 2 friends, decided to kill their parents after years of physical abuse. At one point Butch left the house to chase down one of the friends who got scared and ran off. When he returned he found out that Dawn had killed their two younger brothers and their younger sister even though they agreed to only kill the parents. In a fight Butch then killed Dawn. This is the end of the story.

But this is where the truth ends and the fiction begins. A year later in December 1975 George and Kathy Lutz bought the house and in a media circus they had the house blessed by a priest and 28 days later they moved out but not before selling their rights to a book publisher. The Lutz claimed that the house revolted to their moving in including talking to the priest (“Get Out!”), bleeding walls, oozing slime from the keyholes, waking up at the exact time of the murders every night, demon pigs with glowing eyes, welts showing up on their bodies, people floating above their beds, people transforming to someone else in front of their eyes, hidden rooms and ornamental pieces moving. After they moved out the publisher released the Amityville Horror, a book detailing the Lutz’s 28 days in the home, it was later made in to a movie. The Lutzs were treated like celebrities jetting around the country in style and making appearances on television to promote the book and later the movie. The Lutz's story is fine for a ficitonal book and movie but it is not true.

 There have been 3 families that have lived in the house, plus many visitors and guests, since the Lutz moved out and none hae reported any paranormal experiences. Topps got sucked in to this one and included it based on the book not on actually experiences.

The Lemp Mansion- The Lemp’s were a family that was well known for their brewery in St Louis but between 1901 and 1949 the family encountered a downfall of catastrophic measures. It began with Fredrick Lemp dying of a heart attack in 1901 and was followed with multiple suicides, accidental deaths, a possible murder of a neighbor in the house, heart disease, illegitimate children and finally ending with the end of the blood line.

Like most of the locations on this list you can visit the mansion to take a paranormal tour or stay overnight. Spectral sightings include an adult female (believed to be Elsa Lemp who committed suicide), a few different adult males and a male child in the attic (believed to be Zeke Lemp who died as a child falling down stairs).

Alcatraz- The island began as a military base in the 1830s but was then switched to a military prison housing POWs from the Mexican-American War, the Civil War, The Spanish- American War, and Indian Wars and during WWI it held political prisoners. Alcatraz became a Federal Penitentiary in 1933 before eventually being closed in 1963. During the time as a Federal Prison over 70 people died on the island including natural causes, suicide and a couple of murders including a few guards.

The two main spectral locations are the utility corridor where 3 prisoners were shot to death while trying to escape and Cell 14D, an isolation cell. It is claimed that in the late 1800s a prisoner put in to the cell was screaming throughout the night that something was trying to kill him. The next morning he was found strangled to death in the cell and to add to the tale a few days later while the guards were counting prisoners they ended up 1 extra and when the guard turned to recount he saw the dead prisoner in line before he vanished.

Winchester Mystery House- After William Winchester died in 1881 his widow, Sarah, moved to California. In 1884 Sarah began building a mansion; she had construction workers and carpenters working on the house 24-hours a day from 1884 until her death in 1922. She felt that by always building she was appeasing (or confusing) all the spirits who were killed by her husband’s invention (the Winchester Repeating Rifle).  Over the 38 years 160 rooms were built including 40 bedrooms, 2 ballrooms and 13 bathrooms. She also had the most modern of amenities including forced heat, indoor plumbing, hot water and elevators. To confuse the spirits she had stairs built to nowhere, doors that opened in to brick walls and windows facing in to other rooms. She also left rooms unfinished.

In 1999 I was in San Jose on business and was going to take a tour of the house with the group of people I was with but never made off of Winchester Blvd. See, Sarah believed to ward off spirits the 13 was to be used often. She had some items like chandeliers made specially to hold 13 candles, windows have 13 panes, there are 13 bathrooms and she even had trees trimmed to appear like the number 13. I am quirky and the number 13 makes me feel uneasy (2013 is going to be a hell of a year for me) so if I was to enter the house I would be extremely uncomfortable so I decided to pass.

Queen Mary- The ship was constructed as a luxury liner in 1936 but was later converted to support the war effort during WWII as a troop transport. After the war it was reclassified as a luxury liner and was used until 1966 when it was eventually sold to the City of Long Beach where it is now docked as a tourist attraction. There were 49 deaths on the Queen Mary not counting a collision at sea during WWII when it sliced another troop transport in half.

Some of the spectral sightings include an engineer who died in engine room 13 when he was crushed, he can be seen wandering the hallway but always disappears near the engine room. The pool is the location of numerous sightings including a little girl who was rumored to have fallen and broke her neck and two ladies (one from the 1930s and one from the 1960s) who died in the pool area. All three can be seen wandering around the pool or nearby lobby. The in-house psychic, he is part of the haunted tour, claims that he has communicated with 150 different ghosts.

The Lizzie Borden House- The Borden family was dysfunctional before reality television made dysfunctional popular. It has never been stated but I think Lizzie was actually unstable.

In 1892 someone, using a hatchet, killed both Lizzie’s father Andrew and her stepmother Abby. Lizzie was initially arrested but due to a serious screw-up by the police her trial was a joke and the jury took only 1 hour to deliberate and she was finally acquitted. The police investigation was a case of what not to do. They used affidavits that were fake, they refused to take fingerprints off of the hatchet even though they had the technology and they did not investigate some of the obvious signs pointing to Lizzie. There were conflicting police reports about the weapon including it was broken and clean and another report claiming the murder had no time to clean the weapon and it was covered in blood. They also noted that Lizzie when interviewed was not covered in blood and was extremely calm while talking with the police immediately after they arrived (possible psychopath?)

You can now tour the house, or stay overnight, and people have reported hearing a young women weeping, seeing shoes move across the floor, and seeing an old woman trying to tuck them in and the ghosts of both Andrew and Abby wandering around the house.

I like this set but I do not plan on picking it up. I don't know why but I have no urge to own the set. Interestingly when I wrote up this post I felt a cold chill running down my back when I was writing about the Villisca Axe Murder House that I did not feel at any other time while writing. To make it more odd, I originally wrote up this post last night and felt the same chill while writing about the Moore's murder. That was part of the reason why I decided to delete it before finally re-writing the entire post.

To note I do believe in ghosts and have experienced paranormal activity on a couple of occasions.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Poor Tiki

In an interview with Sports Illustrated yesterday Tiki Barber’s agent, Mark Lepselter, said that he is surprised that no NFL teams gave Tiki a shot this off season. He went on to say "We are flabbergasted that Tiki has not had an opportunity with any team, especially when rosters were at 90 players this year, I certainly thought some team would be intrigued to see what he had left in the tank.''

 Maybe it could have something to do with your client being 36 years old in a world where 29 is pretty much the cut-off age for running backs. It could be that when Tiki retired he went out if his way to back stab almost every player and coach he played with in New York or it could be just that Tiki is a complete asshole. My guess is it is all three, no team wants a player (who may have ended his career on top) but has been out of the league for 5 years add to it that he would probably be considered a cancer to any locker room and he is dragging some serious personal baggage now. Any team that signed him was going to be turned in to a media circus and owners are already sucking wind after the lockout.

 I think had he not ripped the Giants when he retired some teams may have given him a second look even with his personal life in shambles. A perfect consideration would have been Tampa, besides his brother being a cornerstone on the defense for the past 15 years; the team lost Cadillac Williams to free agency. They do have a solid starter in Blount but the backup, Kregg Lumpkin, has played in 13 games since 2008 and has all of 2 carries for 19 yard and 4 receptions for 34 yards. I am pretty sure Tiki could have easily earned the #2 spot just by putting on a Bucs jersey. The Dolphins, who was the only team to even talk to him, would also be a consideration. They are known for taking on “expired” running backs and recently signed Reggie Bush after losing both Ronnie Brown and Rickey Williams to free agency. Bush’s backups are a rookie and a second-year guy with no carries. Again, Tiki could have picked up the backup position by showing up.

 This shows that teams are willing to overlook personal problems and even criminal charges or prison time but if you bad mouth the league you are going to be blackballed.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Steve Irwin, Gone But Not Forgotten

On September 4, 2006 Australian naturalist Steve Irwin was tragically killed while filming along the Great Barrier Reef when he was struck in the chest by a stingray’s barb. It has now been 5 years since his death but I think every time I turn on the Animal Planet I still hear “Crickey”. 

 In 2002 Dart Flip Cards released a 72-card Crocodile Hunter set, the set was not widely available and I ended up picking up a box on eBay for about $35-40 in early 2003. The base card set was a mix of pictures of Steve and Terri Irwin and lots and lots of creatures and critters. Many of the pictures were out of focus, off-center and seemed to be put together at random. The backs included a tid-bit about the creature on the front along with “The Crocodile Hunter’s Aussie Glossie” an Australian term that was “translated” for us who are not from Down-Under.

Dangerous Reptiles

There were 4 insert /subset sets, Dangerous Reptiles, Lethal Insects, Dangerware Relics and Autographs. The Dangerous Reptiles and Lethal Insects were based on the base cards but had a holofoil coating across the front. The 2 card Dangerware relics set contained a piece of Steve or Terri Irwin’s Australian Zoo shirts and the 2 card Autograph set were on-card autographs from Steve or Terri Irwin. 

Lethal Insects
 I completed the base set (and I still had enough to complete 95% of a second set plus leftovers) along with a handful of Dangerous Reptiles and Lethal Insects holofoils and both Steve and Terri’s Dangerware relic cards. 

Steve and Terri Irwin Dangerware
I read an interesting story about the shirts that were sent to Dart to be used in the Dangerware relics, apparently Steve sent his shirt basically right off of his back. It was covered in dirt and mud and smelled horribly but Terri washed her shirt before she sent it.

A&G Mini World's Most Mysterious Figures Set

After writing about the Portraits of Penultimacy mini set yesterday I wanted to take a deeper look at the other inserts and mini sets that are part of this year’s Allen & Ginters release that draw my interest. With only a couple of rack packs opened I have not seen examples of all of the sets in hand so this will give me a better chance to review some of them.

The World’s Most Mysterious Figures is an awesome set built on some people that have probably become more fictional then real over the years but still a nice selection of mysterious characters. I like the colors Topps used here; I think it works well in this case.

The 10-card consist of

D.B. Cooper - OK, first, the D.B. is a media creation; he purchased the airline ticket using the name Dan Cooper (believed to have been based on a French comic book hero). In 1971 the man hijacked a plane, demanded $200,000 and then parachuted out of the plane never to be heard from again. Some claim he died during the jump or shortly afterwards, a place card from the plane was found in 1978 and some of the cash was found in 1980 but nothing else has been tied to this crime. A couple of suspects have been named and a few people have stated they know who Cooper is/was but nothing has ever been proven.

Fulcanelli - He was a French alchemist; the name is believed not to be his real name, who claimed to have transmuted lead in to gold. Fulcanelli disappeared in 1926 but it has been claimed that he appeared in Paris in 1937 and again in Spain in 1953. I can say I knew nothing about this guy and had to search him out.

Kasper Hauser - In 1828 a teenage boy appeared in Nuremberg, Germany making some interesting claims. Over the next 5 years he was stabbed, shot and finally stabbed again and died from his wounds. It is believed that the kid was a pathological liar and injured himself in attempts to get attention. In 2002 DNA tests were done and it is possible (but not proven) that he may have actually been prince from the House of Baden.

The Poe Toaster - Since 1949 a mysterious person dressed in black wearing a hat and white scarf and walking with a cane enters the cemetery every January 19th (Poe’s birthdate) where Poe is buried and would leave a half-filled bottle of cognac and red roses. The toaster has not been seen since 2009 so many feel that the tradition was ended on the bicentennial of Poe’s birth.  It is believed, based upon a note left in the late 90s, this tradition was carried on by a father and then his son when the father passed away.

Grigori Rasputin - A Russian mystic, Rasputin was probably more insane then mystic but he had the power of persuasion and the Czar and especially Czarina fell for his “spoken truths”. In 1914 he was stabbed by a prostitute/friend in the stomach, it was such a horrendous wound that his intestines were actually pulled out but he survived. In 1916 he was poisoned with Cyanide then he was shot but got up to fight back, he was then shot 3 more times (including once in the forehead). When he did not die they beat him with clubs until unconscious, he was bound and rolled in to a rug and tossed in to an icy river. He was found three days later in the river and after an autopsy it was determined that he died not from the poison, not from being shot 4 times and not from the beating but he drowned after freeing himself and attempting to swim to the banks of the river. It is rumored that even after being buried and then dug up and taken out in to the woods to be burned he supposedly sat up when he was set on fire.

Captain Charles Johnson - In 1724 a book titled “A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the most notorious Pyrates” was published in Britain containing biographies and stories of pirates. It was authored by a Captain Charles Johnson. There has never been a record of a pirate named Charles Johnson nor was there naval officer with that name in the British Navy, it has since been attributed to writer Daniel Dafoe but not proven. I have to admit I am a pirate enthusiast so I am drawn to this card.

The Babushka Lady- In 1963 JFK was assassinated while visiting Dallas. Many people have seen the Zapruder Films showing the exact moment of impact (Back and to the left…) but there was an elderly lady that was taking pictures of the presidential procession from a different angle (one that would have shown the grassy knoll) but nobody could ever identify this lady and she has never come forward to turn over her photos.

Michel de Nostradamus- Probably the most well-known person on this checklist. He is known for his prophecies which depending on your interpretations can be seen as just fictional work or he could be the best “seer’ ever. I will leave it at that and if the end of the world comes I will just recant on my death bed (read this to mean I am skeptical).

The Man in the Iron Mask- The man, who has only ever been identified as Eustache Dauger, was imprisoned from 1669 until his death in 1703, he had only one jailer for that 34 year period and while others saw him nobody could identify him because he was always wearing a black velvet cloth mask, not iron as later claimed. It was not until 1771 when writer Voltaire claimed the prisoner wore an iron mask (68 years after Dauger’s death), in the 1840s Aleandre Dumas added to the story when he wrote about it during the Three Musketeer novels. Voltaire claimed the prisoner was actually Louis XIV older brother while Dumas claimed the prisoner was Louis XIV’s twin brother yet nothing has ever been proven.

The Count of St. Germain- The “Immortal” Count or just a liar? The Count has been described as being ageless, some even claiming that he was around to see Jesus change water in to wine but yet he never looked to be older than 40-years old. Another alchemist he supposedly discovered the secret to change lead in to gold, he was said to be a master jewelry maker, he spoke English, French, German, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Greek, Latin and Arabic. He was also supposedly was an accomplished painter, master violinist, world traveler, he was richer than anyone else, he could create larger diamonds by pressing two diamonds together and could create his own “medicine” to cure aging. 

 A genius either way you look at it, he was probably just a charlatan and con man who was excellent at what he did. 

 I did not pull any of these cards from my rack packs but with sets running around $5-10 shipped I will probably look to pick up a complete set.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A&G Mini Portraits in Penultimacy Set

I am a bit late to the game but I have finally picked up some rack packs of 2011 Allen & Ginters. Like many people I get wrapped up in the minis and like to see what Topps comes up.

This year the Portraits in Penultimacy set draws my interest, I love this set even though Topps made a stretch on the word “Penultimate” to make it work. See “Penultimacy” is not a word, the word “Penultimate” means “next to last” and Topps has altered the word to define the 8 people and two animals that were “seconds”, assistants or helpers of sorts. Some of the selections bother me because they are not solid selections based upon the definition.

The 10-card set consist of

Antonio Meucci (Real) - Meucci submitted a patent caveat for a telephone device 5 years before Alexander Graham Bell’s submission but never followed up on the application so Bell was eventually issued the patent for the telephone. If you take things in to consideration he did create a telephone-like invention before Bell did so the dude gets props for that.

Mike Gellner (Real) - Yea, I don’t care about the “Crack the Code” BS that Topps includes every year so…

Dr. John Watson (Fictional) - He is the narrator of the Sherlock Holmes novels, he is also Holmes friend, sounding board and partner so I can see how he could be considered a side kick.

Igor (Fictional) - The typical hunchbacked assistant to every mad scientist, an obvious choice and about as solid an example that can be used here. I wish Topps would have used a more villainous or gruesome image of Igor.

The Hare (Fictional) - Ok, I get it… Topps like including the Tortoise and the Hare in their card sets please get over the damn gimmicks and move on.

Tonto (Fictional) - The Lone Ranger’s trusted friend. I grew up on very old reruns of The Lone Ranger so I was excited to pull this card. I think I would have preferred to see an image of Jay Silverheels on the card, the image used is a generic image and honestly makes me think of the Trail of Tears not The Lone Ranger.

On a side note, Kemo Sabe does not mean anything; it does not come from any specific indigenous language and has been used in various ways on the show and radio program. There are a number of suggestions as to how it came about, including a mashing of different dialects or variations of a real word but nothing has been accurately determined to the origin of the word. My wife is Native American (Tongva Tribe) and while she has no problem with the Lone Ranger my mother-in-law will spend hours dissecting the way that Native Americans were portrayed in early 20th Century movies and television.

Antonio Salieri (Real) - An Italian composer, the man was an absolute genius. He spoke Italian, Latin, French and German; he played multiple instruments and wrote operas. He was quite successful and traveled around Europe and at times was a personal musician for the Emperor Joseph II.

Sadly Topps got this one very wrong. Salieri is not “next to last” to anyone and was actually more successful than Mozart during the late 1700s; as a matter of fact Mozart often blamed Salieri for his inability to establish himself in Vienna. To add to it, they did regarded each other with respect and Mozart, while jealous, often spoke of his affinity for Salieri and even went out of his way to acknowledge Salieri when he showed up for the opening of one of Mozart’s operas.

Topps seems to have based their selection for this card on the movie “Amadeus” which has been proven to be more fictional then true story.

Sancho Panza (Fictional) – Panza was a neighbor and friend of Don Quixote before he went mad, eventually Don Quixote asks Panza to become his squire which Panza accepts. Like Igor he is the ideal sidekick and a decent selection for this set.

Oddly, though probably without thought on Topps end, Salieri and Panza are connected together. In 1770 Salieri wrote two operas, one of which was Don Chisciotte alle nozze di Gamace which translates to Don Quixote at the Marriage of Camacho. It is based on the Don Quixote novel by Miguel de Cervantes.

Thomas Dewey (Real) – OK, so he lost to Truman so what? I get the comedy here because of the Chicago Tribune flub and yes Dewey was “next to last” in the election but really? What’s next Topps a card based on a side kick dog? Oh wait…

Toto (Fictional) – Dorothy’s dog Toto, follow the Yellow Brick Road. Is anyone else singing the song Rosanna or Africa in their head right now?

I pulled the Antonio Salieri and Tonto cards; I still am looking to find the Dr. Watson, Igor and Sancho Panza cards. There are quite a few cards from the set up for auction including a couple of complete sets available for less than $5 shipped so unless anyone has some cards they are interested in sending my way (begging) I will probably pick up a complete set when I finally get around to putting some extra cash in to my PayPal account.