Sunday, June 25, 2017

Adaptation (Thoughts on collecting and the passion that goes into it)

All summer long, I've been meaning to post the cards I have in hand.  The pile is months old (Possibly years old), and includes an awesome recent trade return from Bob Walk the Plank.

But I keep finding myself lost in other activities.  Trying to rank up to diamond in Overwatch on the XBox One.  Trying to level up to Level 33 in Pokemon Go (And still trying to get a Tyranitar).

Lately though, I've mostly been reading and watching movies rented from the library, a throwback to my college days.  My most recent read ties in well, I think, to the idea of passions, collecting, and moving between different hobbies.  So I thought I'd share a quote from it below.

The book "The Orchid Thief" by Susan Orlean, is a non-fiction book about a woman, Orlean, who got to know an "orchid thief" in Florida.  He stole some orchids from a swamp in Florida with some Seminole Indians, and her writings explore this case but also spill over into the passions of orchid collectors and the passions of this thief, John Laroche, who moves from collecting Ice Age Fossils to Orchids to helping people build porn sites depending on his given passion at the moment.  If any of you are aware of this story at all, it's likely through the excellent movie Adaptation, which was screenwritten by Charlie Kaufman and stars Nicolas Cage and Meryl Streep.  It's a really good, albeit odd, movie, worth watching.  Here's the trailer:

The movie is very "meta," constantly breaking the 4th wall.  It's also really captures collecting and the passions behind that concept.  It struck a lot of good chords with me on first watch, and after seeing it again recently I had to read the book.  And after finishing the book, I had to share a snippet that I really related to as a collector, cardboard or otherwise.

On page 279, Orlean writes:

     "Do you collect anything?" he (John Laroche) asked.

     "Not really," I (Susan Orlean) said.

     "It's not really about collecting the thing itself," Laroche went on.  "It's about getting immersed in something, and learning about it, and having it become part of your life.  It's a kind of direction."  He stopped on the word "direction" and chortled.  "If anybody had a plant I didn't have, I made sure to get it.  It was like a heroin addiction.  If I ever had money I would spend it on plants.  When my wife and I had our nursery, we had forty thousand just totally unimaginable plants."

     "Your favorite?"

     He scuffled his heel in the dirt.  "I think it would have to be this little Boesenbergia ornata, this gorgeous little ginger plant a friend got me in New Zealand.  It had first been collected a hundred years ago, and I think I had the only one in cultivation.  It had these tiny round leaves, sort of brownish with silver chevron markings.  I swear it looked like it was made out of crystal.  And it had an amazing huge orange flower too."

     I asked if he still had it.  "I don't have ANY plants anymore," he said, crossly.  "I sold that one for nine hundred dollars and sent a cutting of it to Kew Gardens."

This quote might speak to some of you, but it definitely speaks to me strongly, especially the part I put in blue.  I remember, with collecting cards, be it Seneca Wallace, or weird names, or Fred McGriff (throwback), or whatever, just gaining that specialized knowledge around my collection.  I knew the "rare" cards, I knew info about certain sets, I learned Blowout, I learned more about Ebay, and I just poured myself into all of it.

And while it's still around in my head (unlike Laroche who obsesses and then is done with that thing when he moves on), I find myself moving on and obsessing over new passions.  I do research on the best turret locations for Symmetra on Kings Row in Overwatch.  I recently joined the local Pokemon Go discord to teamup more against gyms, and I've walked local friends through the concept of raids based on what I read on Reddit.  The priority of my passions has changed, but I'm still immersing myself into the world of whatever passion I have at the moment, gaining all this very specific knowledge and using it to push my passion as far as I can in that given area.  I think it's one of the cool things about passions - the way some of us devote ourselves so strongly to really KNOWING what we're interested in, even if it's not something that we passionate about at that level forever.  Life is an interesting thing.

Anyways, just wanted to share that, as it resonated a lot with me.  Cardswise, I'm hopeful that I'll scan and add all the cards in my scanning "queue" in the coming month, if I can find time away from my other passions.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Hey remember that guy SpastikMooss who used to blog sometimes?

While visiting with my family this past Christmas, I had two different people ask me if I still blogged.  My answer was a quick "Yeah kinda," but given that I haven't posted since last July, I can understand the confusion.

Long story short, most all of the time I would've spent blogging or buying cards or on Blowout in the past is now spent on the XBox One.  Instead of doing advanced Ebay searches for Rod Smart 1/1's, I'm trying to get to Masters on the backs of Lucio, Roadhog, and Symmetra.  The times, they are a changing.

That being said, I still do buy cards/make trades on occasion, and I still want to keep blogging occasionally too, especially since I may someday have a cool interview to post on here if the cards fall right (You'll know it when you see it).  So I might only post once or twice a month at max, but I'll try to get back to posting once in a while.  I've got something like 100 cards still to scan at the house, so whenever I get those scanned they'll end up here on the blog.

Speaking of scans, since it's a card post I figured I'd show off a few of my favorite cards from my most recent scan session (probably in like August lol).  Starting with the newest member of the Mike James club - Mike James the hockey player!
This JOGO card features Mike James of the Ottawa 67s. of two Mike James who played hockey for the Ottawa 67s.  I only see three Mike James who played hockey according to my research, but two of them played for the 67s.  Go figure.

Anyways, this Mike James was in his first season of professional hockey on this card.  He had 11 PIM in 10 games, and that's it, before moving to five games with the Windsor Spitfires.  He then spent another three seasons in the OHL before four seasons in the ECHL and a final partial season in the uHL.  He had career highs of 20 goals and 43 points, but most importantly his name was Mike James so he's in my collection now!

A few of these cards will be Mikes here's two cards of the NBA version:
I think the on card auto is gorgeous, and then the patch card is pretty neat too.  Dorrell Wright never amounted to much, but I really like the way he and James' patches are so colorful.  Shawn Marion is obviously the most famous guy here, so it's cool he's also on the card.

Here's the last Mike James, a recent signature of the NFL veteran:
James seemed to be just about out of the NFL after the 2014 season, but he was signed this year by the Bucs after extensive backfield injuries, and ended up having four carries and four receptions in four games.  So it's good to see him back in the NFL world.  Hopefully he sticks around for next year on some team.

The last card I wanted to show off here is a nice rookie auto of Mohamed Massaquoi's:
The auto is pretty decent, but the patch is what I really like here.  Browns' patches rarely get too amazing since there's only so much color on their jerseys, but I like the way this one breaks.  Definitely a nice addition to my collection.

Anyways, just wanted to share a few cards and let you all know I'm still around now and then.  See you on the blogs!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A Tribe Called Quest, BBM, SNL, /5, /50, and Alfredo Simon's Old Name

I still have quite a few more cards to post from my last COMC purchase.  Here's a hodgepodge post to get the random stuff and one-off stuff out of the way.  So let's check it out!

First up is a "rookie card" of A Tribe Called Quest, one of the greatest rap groups of all time:
Fuji posted a few of these a while back, and it was cool timing because I had just grabbed this card a few days before.  These guys are on constant rotation on my Spotify playlist, and their album Midnight Marauders is one of my favorites of all time, so it's cool to honor them in cardboard form.  Also RIP Phife Dawg - it's been a hot minute now since he passed, but Phife was a big part of Tribe and so it was a shame to see "The Five Foot Assassin" succumb this year in his battle with diabetes.

Completely changing gears (which will happen a lot in this post), we next have two cards of Jose Lopez from 2015 BBM.  One is a base card and the other is some kind of insert:
Lopez has been in Japan for a few years now, and so once a year I'll check for his BBM cards on COMC or Ebay and they usually are pretty cheap, which is great.  He's back to hitting 20-25 homeruns a year in Japan like he did at his 2009 MLB peak, so it's great to know that Jose is finding success overseas these days.

When I was buying the Tribe card, I decided to look for cards of different celebrities.  I found a bunch of Bill Murray cards in an SNL set, and decided to go all in and just buy a bunch I liked:
Murray was on SNL before my time, so two of the sketches are kind of foreign to me, but the bottom left card references his lounge singer character, who is simply amazing.  I also missed Land Shark, which is the Chevy Chase card in the middle, but my father-in-law loves it and I like Chevy's work like Fletch even if he is a dick in real life.

The four remaining cards are just a nice cross-section of 90's SNL.  Obviously Chris Farley's Chippendales sketch is the classic, but Mike Myers' Lothar of the Hill People, Rob Schneider's Makin' Copies Guy, and Jon Lovitz's Devil are all amazing too.  I used to watch SNL (and Kids in the Hall) after school every single day, so it's cool to have cardboard to put with those memories.

Just a few cards left.  The next two are just nice PC gets, with one being /5 and the other being /50:
Dantzler is the /5, it's a National stamped card (you can see the stamp to the right of his butt).  And then Shantee Orr's card is a gold parallel /50.  Both very nice.

Which leaves us with a card featuring Alfredo Simon's old name - Carlos Cabrera:
Simon had one excellent year in Cincinnati a few years ago, so excellent that he ended up getting traded to the Tigers for Eugenio Suarez.  He then was awful, so awful that he is now back in Cincinnati (though on the DL).  So he's pretty forgettable to most, but my wife and I watched him pitch a few times so I pondered getting an autograph of his.

That would've been it, but I did a little research on him first, and the guy's history is SO SKETCHY.  Here are the weird details:
- I think most people know that Simon supposedly killed a guy once in the Dominican Republic.  If you didn't know, he shot bullets into the air, and the charge was that they landed and killed one guy while wounding his brother at a New Year's Eve party in 2011.  He was charged with involuntary manslaughter, but was eventually acquitted.
- Simon was sued for $15 million dollars by a woman in April of 2014 who claimed he raped her.  Charges were never filed, but there's supposedly still a civil suit going on out there.
- Finally, Simon was signed by the Phillies in 1999 as Carlos Cabrera, 21 months younger than Alfredo Simon.  He was in the Phillies organization until 2004, when they realized who he really was, and then they traded him away with Ricky Ledee for Felix Rodriguez.  So...there's that.

Anyways, after all that weirdness I decided I didn't want an autograph.  But I did want one of his pre-name change cards, because that's kind of random.  So now I have one!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Ezzard Charles, and a Little Cincinnati History

Since moving to Cincinnati, I've always been amazed with the interesting street names and murals we have around town.  There's a street in my neighborhood called Mad Anthony, and a mural a few miles away for Camp Washington that features, among other things, George Washington in a dress.  

There's countless other examples of neat names and images like these, but one I noticed that has both a street name and a mural is Ezzard Charles, whom I had no knowledge of prior to moving to Cincinnati.  I found out he was a boxer, and that he had some cards to his name, so I decided to grab a few and tell his tale, which is both triumphant and tragic.  

(This is a postcard I grabbed off COMC)

I'll start with the triumphant.  Charles came out of Cincinnati, and was known as "The Cincinnati Cobra" for the way he fought in the ring.  He finished with a career record of 93-25-1, with 58 knockouts, and is perhaps best known for his two battles with Rocky Marciano in the 50's.  Their first match went the full 15 rounds and was decided on points, which was the only time a boxer ever brought Marciano to 15 rounds (Charles lost the match, but many think it could've gone either way).  In the rematch, Charles nearly ended things with a punch that broke Marciano's nose in half and wouldn't stop bleeding, but Charles was knocked out in the 8th, resulting in another Marciano win.  Regardless of the two losses, Charles earned a lot of respect from those matches, as well as his reigns as NBA Heavyweight Champion, World Heavyweight Champion, and wins against Joe Louis, Charley Burley, and Archie Moore.

(This is a sign off I-75 in Cincinnati)

As for the tragedy, Charles beat a man named Sam Baroudi in a fight in 1948, several years into his budding career, in 10 rounds.  Baroudi ended up dying as a result of the injuries that he suffered in the match, and Charles was so distraught that he almost gave up boxing.  He continued on, and obviously had some success with his titles and all, but many in the industry say he was never quite the same Cobra as before, as he lost a bit of his edge following the Baroudi bout.  Charles was still one of the best boxers of all time with that fight, so who's to tell what he could've been without the Baroudi fight in his mind.

(This is a regular trading card I grabbed off COMC)

Later in his carer, Charles faced financial struggles, and so he continued to fight to earn money even after he was out of his peak.  He lost 13 of his last 23 matches, as he was no longer the fighter he once was, and even later in life he ended up being diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease.  Disabled and without any funds, a fundraiser was held for Charles late in his life, where many of his former opponents came to talk about how great he had been, and Marciano called Charles the bravest man he ever fought.  In the end, Charles died in a nursing home in Chicago at the age of 53.

(This is a photo of his mural in downtown Cincinnati)

Charles' later days were marred with financial woes and sickness, but his legacy as a boxer is one that continued on long after his death.  He was elected to the Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990, and has since been named as one of the best boxers of all-time by multiple publications.  He was even named the #1 light-heavyweight boxer of all time by several sources, showing just how talented Charles truly was as a fighter.

I'm proud to have a few cards of the Cincinnati legend now in my collection, and I'm hopeful his legacy in the sport will never be forgotten.  I'm also hopeful that some day we'll find a way to combat the terrible disease that is ALS/Lou Gehrig's Disease.  RIP Ezzard Charles.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

An update on the Hunger Walk, Life, and the progress of my random patch collection

Man, I am just not blogging lately!  I blame a mix of things, but the chief two right now are having a summer job as a courier (I deliver letters 20-30 hours a week) and playing XBox One, specifically the game Overwatch.  So I'm getting paid in the morning and having fun playing XBox with my brothers at night, which is good stuff, but I'm blogging a lot less than I did last Summer.  Such is life I suppose.

Speaking of getting paid, I advertised for that Hunger Walk about a month back, and was fortunate to get contributions from a few people in the card blogging world.  The event itself was a blast - my wife and I are couch potatoes, so it was different to get out and walk around Cincinnati for a good cause.  There were thousands of people there, all starting down around Paul Brown Stadium (where the Bengals play) in Cincinnati.  We then did a three mile trail that went over a bridge, circled a fast food/retail area, and then went back over the bridge.  My wife and I took it pretty leisurely, just enjoying the day and the sights, and ended up finishing in just over an hour.  It definitely made me want to get out there and move more, and I'm hoping to get a better time next year by maybe jogging at least some of it!  So that was neat, and thanks again to those that donated and helped support the local Cincinnati food bank!

So other things have been going on, but I'm still collecting cards in the background too, so I'll finish with some words on that.  I recently made a few COMC shipments, and you'll see those over the rest of the Summer, but for this post I wanted to focus on my awesome patch collection, which is REALLY coming along (Here's a link to the full collection if you want to see it in all of its glory).  It's amazing how many cheap, quality patches you can find on COMC if you're persistent.  For instance, this Dontrelle Willis which was like $2.5:
I mean, LOOK AT THAT PATCH.  The silver is part of it, so it's four colors and four breaks, which is pretty amazing for less than $3. I grabbed a cool Dontrelle patch a while back for like $1.8, but it was only two colors so I resold it.  I'm glad I did, because I think this one is even nicer.

Another guy I wanted a patch of was Tim Salmon.  In the mid-90's I kind of remember him being what Mike Trout is now - a lone All Star surrounded by a team full of meh.  So I've been searching him every now and then for a while, and I finally found a patch that fit my need.  Check it out:
It's just two colors, but that's a freakin' Angel wing patch - which is amazing.  Any time you can find a logo patch for cheap (I think this was in the $4ish range), you definitely have to bite.  I'm finding lots of cool cheap relics of 90's stars like this, and hopefully I'll continue to have good success in the future with other guys like Randy Johnson and Mo Vaughn.

That's it for today, just some life updates and a few nice swatches.  It's time to head back to Overwatch and win some matches!