Monday, June 30, 2008

Fargo: Redux

Last night I got back home from my week-long excursion into the farthest reaches of Minnesota. The journey home involved at least twelve stops in various northern locales, and ears became finely attuned to the unique stylings of what is Minnesota speech. Many of the attendees of this large-scale family event were residents of North Dakota. I've never heard the name "Grand Forks" used in context so many times within such a short period of time.

On the trip back, I was able to stop in a Target and pick up a few packs. It's comforting to find that whether it's two miles away from home or 500, they've got pretty much the same stuff. All of these things together got me wondering what it would have been like to be a collector a couple of years ago, before one of my beloved Brewers got amazingly hot and set the league on fire. Because Jerry Lundegaard is one of the greatest fictional characters of all time, I put together a little something that attempts to recreate what it would have been like if I was a Minnesota resident looking for someone to finance the purchase of some speculative cards a couple of years ago. I think it would have gone something like this...


SPRING, 2006

A PLAQUE: WADE GUSTAFSON COLLECTIBLES

INT. WADE'S OFFICE

Wade sits behind his desk filled with '05 Heritage short prints; another man rises as Thorzul
enters.


THORZUL
How ya doin' there, Stan? How
are ya, Wade?

Stan Grossman shakes his hand.

STAN
Good to see ya again, Thorzul. If
these numbers are right, this
looks pretty sweet.

THORZUL
Oh, those numbers are all right,
bleemee. I been down to Huntsville, and this kid's got power to spare, gee whiz.

WADE
This is do-able.

STAN
Congratulations, Thorzul.

THORZUL
Yah, thanks, Stan, it's a pretty -

WADE
What kind of finder's fee were
you looking for?

THORZUL
... Huh?

STAN
The financials are pretty thorough, condition looks great on these, no soft corners or anything...
so the only thing we don't know
is your fee.

THORZUL
... My fee? Wade, what the
heck're you talkin' about?

WADE
Stan and I're okay.

THORZUL
Yah.

WADE
We're good to loan in for the cards.

THORZUL
Yah.

WADE
But we never talked about your
fee for bringin' 'em to us.

THORZUL
No, but, Wade, see, I was
bringin' you this deal for you
to loan me the money for these Ryan Braun
Auto-fractors to put
in. It's my deal here, see?

Wade scowls, looks at Stan.

STAN
Thorzul - we thought you were
bringin' us a highly collectible investment.

THORZUL
Yah, right -

STAN
You're sayin' - what're you
sayin'?

WADE
You're sayin' that we put in
all the money and you collect
when Braun gets the Roookie of the Year Award?

THORZUL
No, no. I - I'd, I'd - pay you
back the principal, and interest
- heck, I'd go - one over prime - I'd even throw in these Bob Hamelin rookies as an act of good faith.

STAN
We're not a bank, Thorzul.

Wade is angry.

WADE
What the heck, Thorzul, if I wanted
washed-up rookies for seven hunnert'n
fifty thousand I'd go to Midwest
Coin and Card. Talk to Bill Diehl. Search through his commons box.

STAN
He's at Norstar Batter's Box.

WADE
He's at -

THORZUL
No, see, I don't need a finder's
fee, I need - finder's fee's, what,
ten percent, heck that's not gonna
do it for me. I need the Brauns.

STAN
Thorzul, we're not just going to
give you seven hundred and fifty
thousand dollars for a slugger that may never pan out.

WADE
What the heck were you thinkin'?
Heck, if I'm only gettin' shoeboxes full of dinged Chuck Knoblauchs, I'd look for complete
security. Heck, 1984 Fleer Update. I don't
see nothin' like that here.

THORZUL
Yah, but I - okay, I would, I'd
guarantee ya your money back.

WADE
I'm not talkin' about your damn
word, Thorzul. Geez, what the
heck're you?... Well, look, I
don't want to cut you out of the
loop, but this here's a good deal.
I assume, if you're not innarested,
you won't mind if we move on it
independently.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Pyewp!

This will be my last blog post for a long time, as I am venturing deep into the northern Minnesota wilderness for about a week. I may encounter some feral Twins fans there, but there should be enough Brewer supporters with me to fend off any violent attacks. If I don't return to Milwaukee un-unscathed (or would that be scathed?), I would like to leave the world with a sense of purpose...accomplishment.

Therefore, dear readers, I have an assignment for all of you. I have recently discovered the best word in the world. By my best estimate I'd say that it comes out of my mouth every other sentence or so by now. The word is this:

Pyewp.

What does it mean? To give you the short version, it's a tri-multaneous bodily function. In other words, it's when you pee, poop, and vomit at the same time. In the interest of good taste, I will stop talking about what it means now, choosing instead to delve into the nature of this word itself.

Pronunciation: Take the word "pupil" and leave off the second syllable. That's how it should sound. Try it with me. Pyewp. Isn't it fun?

Preponderance: I want to get this word spread across this great land of ours. Use in in your blogs, people. It can be used as an interjection of disappointment: "Pyewp! The Brewers blew a late lead again!" Basically, I want to live in a world where many more than 229 Google hits come up when you search for the term.

Long-term goal: The word "pyewp" is used on a network sitcom or in a major metropolitan newspaper within the next three months.

Together, let us expand the American lexicon.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Leftovers

Today was the last day of school. BOOYAKASHA! Actually, the last day was Friday, and today was records day, a period of time set aside for teachers to pack up all of their shit, only to have to unpack it a couple of months later. This inane process played itself out today with some surprising results. For the last few years, I have kept a plastic grocery bag full of commons in my desk. These cards are used as incentive for my students to try their best and exhibit positive behaviors. The marathon cleaning session revealed to me that this particular well has run dry. Below are the only cards that were left in the bag. For some reason (and flying in the face of conventional conceptions regarding inner-city youths), all of the leftover cards were of the NBA variety.
Each of these cards was left behind for a particular reason. If my school were to somehow be buried by massive amounts of ash from a nearby volcano, forgotten about for centuries, and then excavated, the scholars of the time would want to know why this exact collection of cards was left in a desk drawer. On a less geologic time scale, however, I am more interested in why my students failed to claim these cards. I think I have the answers.

Card: 1990 SkyBox #168 Tony Campbell
Why it was left behind by my students: Blowback from the Doug Jones "flaming balls" incident.


Card: 1992 Topps #198 Checklist
Why it was left behind by my students: Illiterate.


Card: 1992 Topps #236 Lloyd Daniels
Why it was left behind by my students: Patrick Ewing Maximum Nostril Circumference exceeded.


Card: 1992 Topps #34 Charles Shackleford
Why it was left behind by my students: Born after the premature death of high-top fades; frightened.


Card: 1992 Topps #134 Jayson Williams
Why it was left behind by my students: Desire not to be manslaughtered by errant shotgun blast.


Card: 1992 Topps #255 James Worthy
Why it was left behind by my students: Stupid; this is a great card.


Card: 1990 SkyBox #59 Steve Alford
Why it was left behind by my students: Aversion to Indiana-style nut-hugger shorts that obviously served as the template for Alford's Dallas Mavericks jersey.


Card: 1991 NBA Hoops #121 Dan Schayes
Why it was left behind by my students: Rampant anti-Semitism.


Card: 1992 NBA Hoops/SkyBox #274 Golden State Warriors
Why it was left behind by my students: Absence of Chris Mullin


This spectacular collection could be yours. Send me your best offer, and you could be the owner of a piece of history.
I've also got some new 2008 Heritage for trade or sale, so check out the trade lists.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Dr. Steve's Doctored Cards #12

Today's post is a shout out to all of my flooded Wisconsin peeps. For the life of me I wish there was some sort of brotherly gesture involving water damage victims that was akin to the "one-for-me-one-for-my-homies" liquor gesture that the movies helped popularize. Perhaps it could involve dehumidifiers?
1991 Fleer #112 Luis Rivera

This card ranks as probably my second favorite of Dr. Steve's. The colors are vibrant, the pose is beyond perfect, and the artistry is subtle, yet moving. Mad props to any cartoon that manages to involve a delta, which this one does. It's impossible to tell if someone squirted Luis playfully with a hose, or if Rivera somehow grew to a gargantuan size and wandered into the path of the Atchafalaya River.

All in all, a great bit of doctoring.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Doomsday Scenario: What Do You Save?

The reason I haven't blogged here or on A Pack A Day recently has much to do with the severe weather that hit southeastern Wisconsin this past weekend. While watching a weather bulletin, a particularly close lightning strike knocked out my cable and internet, frying the AT&T U-Verse gateway, and keeping me virtually cut off from civilization until tonight.

While the warnings were ominous, things turned out pretty good around the old Thorzul household. The water that entered my basement was minimal enough to be cleaned up with a single towel. Not bad for a 92-year-old house, eh? Elsewhere in the state, particularly around the waterslide mecca known as The Dells, crazy stuff was happening, among them the drainage of the entire contents of Lake Delton. That's right... it got emptied. The water got so high that it actually carved out its own river, joining soon with another river.

In my haste to secure my belongings, I grabbed a handful of cards I really didn't want to lose and brought them into a safer area of my home. Could I live without them? Sure. But it would have been a loss for all of humanity if one of my Robin Yount "1 of 1" cards would have been lost or damaged. I also grabbed a strongbox containing important papers such as my passport and birth certificate. Along with that came the card seen below, with several others.

2007 Donruss Americana Greta Garbo Hollywood Legends Personally-Worn Dress Swatch #HL-7 (040/350)

Sure, it made sense to me to save the Garbo, but after the storm passed, I was astonished to find that I had grabbed a real pile of crap. Among all of my really good Americana cards, I also stashed away a bunch of 2008 Topps Heritage inserts. What was I thinking? I didn't even grab any of my Yount binders! A treasure trove of autographed, low-numbered Robin Yount memorabilia cards was left to fend for itself, but that ever-so-important Hunter Pence Chrome was protected like it was Georges Seurat's A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.

This aversion of disaster (and in no way is this meant to make light of the suffering of any midwestern flood victims) got me to thinking about an excellent discussion topic, the type of blog conversation that includes hundreds of posts and goes on for months at a time. Here's the scenario: A tornado (or hurricane, wildfire, etc.) is headed straight for your house. All of your other belongings are somehow save, as are your loved ones. All that's left in the house are your cards. You have five minutes to pack a waterproof, fireproof, windproof box that will emerge from the damage unscathed. The box is (instead of a 5000-count box) the length and width of a pizza box, and about as high as a shoebox, and has no partitions (so larger-scale items can fit).

What do you pack?

Friday, June 6, 2008

This Summer's Next Great Beer: Point Nude Beach Summer Wheat

Some friends of mine helped me discover this great new beer, Nude Beach Summer Wheat from Stevens Point Brewery.

We Wisconsin residents are in for a real treat this summer. If you're too far away, I'll try to describe it for you. Think about the taste of Leinie's Sunset Wheat. Then imagine it tasting a little more like beer should taste. That's what we have on our hands, people. Plus the packaging art kicks ass. If I'm not on a beach somewhere this summer, nude, drinking this, then my plans took a wrong turn in a major way.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

My Secret Shame #3: Smiles

Another day, another page from the beloved sticker album. Today's post showcases my tendency to take things to their literal extreme. As an adult, it sometimes becomes apparent to me that I missed out on some of the self-consciousness that only an older brother could help provide. You know, someone to slap me on the back of my head and proclaim, "Dude, it's a fucking sticker book...you can put anything on any page you want."

But little Thorzul was having none of that. Let's take a closer look at the goods.

First, another Garbage Pail Kid. I have no idea which series this is from, but there's a pretty good idea behind it.

More from the pain department. I was probably in the top 1% of kids in shot-taking ability, with real low numbers in the wincing department. The jury's still out on which of the two is scarier, however: Allergy injections, or clowns.

This one, which actually appears twice on the page, is my current favorite, I remember having an entire sheet of these. They would come in handy now in my career as a third grade teacher. These would be perfect for the papers from kids who have been completely half-assing it since Easter or so. Not exactly horrible, but nothing to make anyone proud. Believe me, that covers about 90% of the homework I see these days. Six days of school left, followed by two straight days of Brewers/Twins games. The end is in sight!

Finally, we can surmise that red smile has a thing for blue smile. Not sure what the age of consent is in Stickerville, but this looks like an inappropriate relationship in the making.

Anyways, there you have it. Several more pages await anyone smart enough to be reading this blog.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

2008 Brewers Topps Scoreboard

I really dropped the ball about twenty times or so last year. My beloved Milwaukee Brewers got into bed with Topps and designed up some awesome baseball card art that was used to introduce the players on the scoreboard. Normal games used the "black-background-with-16-squares" design of 2007 Topps, but on Retro Fridays each starter was grafted onto a 1982 Topps template, a highly anachronistic act that looked awesome. Unfortunately, I never thought to bring a camera to nay of these games. This past Sunday, I sought redemption.
Batting sixth, third baseman, Russell Branyan

Yeah, I don't think he has a 2008 Topps base set card yet, and I highly doubt it will look like this, but it's still pretty neat. Sorry I wasn't able to get pics of any of the stars at the top of the order, but this graphic is only used during the starters' first at bat, and I've not really been able to make it into the game until the first inning has already ended. Intoxicating libations and such.


Here's catcher Mike Rivera. Yeah, we benched several of our regulars on Sunday and then went ahead and beat Houston 10-1.


All of these graphics come with space-age motion graphics. Here is a Craig Counsell video.



And here's Dave Bush, who has somehow strung a couple of good outings together. Not as good as the Counsell video.


I will try harder to get some of the real sluggers up here. If your "local nine" includes a similar introduction graphic, let me know. I'd love seeing what Topps puts together around the league.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Drive-By Sausage Fest!

Two weekends ago my fiancee and I didn't feel much like cooking, so we headed out to one of the local establishments. For some reason, we took a different route home. We pulled into the parking lot of a video rental store, checking to see if there were any good deals on used DVDs (there weren't), so we decided to go home. Across the street from this video store is a national chain establishment known as Applebee's. You may have heard of it. You know, American faire, crazy shit on the walls, waitresses who won't even blink if you pronounce the double l's in "quesadilla"... Anyways, this was what we saw in the parking lot.

Hmmm, that looks suspiciously like an 8-foot-tall bratwurst accompanied by a hot dog of similar height. Let's see what seems to be going on.

Looks like we've got a good ol' fashoined parking lot sausage race. Onlookers of every culture, creed, and color are gathered for this epic contest. For those of you unfamiliar with this crew, from left to right are the following: Hot Dog, Chorizo, Italian, Bratwurst, and Polish (partially hidden by the tree).

Oh no! Brat down! Repeat! BRAT DOWWWWWNNNNN!
Those two employees look genuinely worried. I hope this turns out alright for that spiced sausage.

Looks like he's OK. Hooded sweatshirt guy surveys the damage. Might be a little casing damage, perhaps a little spice leakage, but everything still seems edible.

Thank goodness the woman brings her camera along everywhere she goes.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Dr. Steve's Doctored Cards #12

We reach into the vault again for another one of Dr. Steve's elixirs.

1991 Topps #467 Dennis Cook

I've got really nothing to say about this card at such a late hour. The attempt at texture in the baker's hat in kind of endearing, but I'm feeling that this one was just phoned in. Dr. Steve must have been lost on a Mayan excursion when this piece was crafted.

Let's open up the floor, then, to another related topic.
Best Famous Chef. Here are my top 3:
3. Gordon Ramsay -- That show of his is a guilty pleasure of mine. How can you not just sit there and watch someone get cursed up and down like that? It's utterly fascinating to see people take that kind of abuse without it being mandated by the U.S. military. Viet Cong = Risotto.

2. Swedish Chef -- Excellent chef...not such a great projectionist.

1. Chef Brockett -- I had a roommate in college who was from Pittsburgh, and Don Brockett lived on her family's block. Personally, I was always a little scared of Chef Brockett. His presence on the show exposed a hint of the shady underbelly of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. Sure, there may have been a trolley, a rocking chair factory, and a correspondence school specifically designed for owls, but hey, you always felt that it wasn't entirely outside of the realm of possibility that the guy that runs the bakery may have done a stretch of hard time for stabbing his live-in girlfriend. Didn't King Friday sign the Neighborhood of Make Believe Work Release Act of 1974?