Monday, May 26, 2008

My Secret Shame #2: Terrific Stickers

After giving you all a taste of the cover of my childhood sticker book, I know everyone was waiting at their home Tandy computer, clicking "refresh" in vain for days on end. Your wait, loyal readers, has come to an end. I present...page 2.

Let's take a close look at some of this page's highlights. The category into which I was supposed to file my stickers, while mostly obstructed, is supposed to say "Terrific Stickers." Taking everything literally was my specialty as a child, so it comes as no surprise that this Terrific sticker, which was received after one of the aforementioned allergy injections, makes the cut. More of this literal mindedness will follow on future pages. I promise.

Here is the sticker that, come tomorrow morning, America will not stop talking about. As you will soon see, the vast majority of the stickers in this collection were free. Free meaning free, as in neither me nor my parents paid any money for them. The one below, however, I'm pretty sure the American taxpayer had a hand in. I believe it was given out as an ominous Halloween preparatory warning. "Don't accept questionable bags of candy from ghosts" is the message I think is trying to be communicated here, but there are several factors that suggest otherwise. First of all, this "ghost" fails in its attempt to skew "molestor." There is nothing predatory about it at all. In fact, he (?) just comes across as confused and pathetic.
Picture a ghost with the voice of the cartoon Frosty the Snowman: "I don't know, there might be razor blades in these apples, but I didn't check very hard. In fact, I can't remember tampering with them at all. But I must have."

Up next is the only sticker that could possibly be construed as "terrific" by any objective measure. Snoopy is awesome. In no way does he create the same feeling of nostalgia the Charlie Brown does, and he's no Vince Guaraldi on the piano, but he still rocks. And he's good at archery (in a motivational sort of way).

Another Boglin (among many). My brain tells me this is the leader, but it won't tell me his name.

One of three Garbage Pail Kids on the page, this is Stoned Sean. You can tell that this is from a very early series because there is an attempt at ironic/iconic humor and not merely a total hammering on your gross-out reflex. I was probably much too young to get the double entendre of his name, but now I can appreciate it on that level.

Was this sticker free? Without a doubt! This was probably one of those free gifts given to try to get you to subscribe to a magazine, in this case Penny Power, the children's version of Consumer Reports. Did I subscribe? No, but I faithfully read up on tips to save money at my local library. Come to think of it, isn't reading periodicals for free at one's local library one of the ways to save money that this magazine should have suggested? Perhaps Congress should look into this.

Was this sticker free as well? You betcha! The small print in the blurred area doesn't have a cuss word on it, but it does say "Wisconsin Recycles," probably the name of some non-profit group that went around to schools. (Cue dismissive tone of voice here.) Recycling...will we ever learn?

Yeah, there's more on this page that I could go into, such as the patchwork heart on the bottom right that proves that I would have stuck anything and everything with an adhesive backing on it into my sticker book back in the way, but I won't. Watch out, Easter Seals! You know what happens when you cross my path!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Dr. Steve's Doctored Cards #11

Back in the early 1990s, when Americans actually used to like wars, Dr. Steve put this beauty together.

1991 Fleer #81 Scott Scudder

Unfortunately for Mr. Scudder, this 1990 World Series champion is lumped together with the Iraqi regime and their 4th-rate weaponry. While I'm not sure if White Out is actually made in yellow, it looks as if such a product came into play here. There's gotta be some out there, right? I mean...legal pads? Right?
All that's missing from this post is a mock-up of a Drew Bledsoe card as the American air-to-air Patriot missile.

Who knew this vastly underrated set could be so much fun?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Dr. Steve's Doctored Cards #10

In today's installment, Dr. Steve gives new meaning to the term "throwing heat."
1991 Fleer #4 Todd Burns

While the brushstrokes are less than immaculate, this card makes one want to rush onto the field, fire extinguisher in hand, and help out this poor guy. Was this a Rick Honeycutt ploy used to bump himself up in the rotation? Did Dave Henderson have a hand in this? And where, might I ask, was Carney Lansford at the time just prior to the incident?

That's all I got for today. UEFA Champions League Final tomorrow!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

My Secret Shame #1

This blog has covered a lot of territory over the past year or so I've been working on it, but never have I been so embarrassed to share with my readers the content of this new segment. Don't worry, we're far from done with Dr. Steve's Doctored Cards, there's still a small stockpile of Americana to share, and although it might not seem as such, I haven't forgotten about the gooey centers and sealed-in flavor of Mmmmmmmm...Cards.
That being said, let's unveil the newcomer to the blog...Thorzul's Secret Shame!

Yes, it's my childhood sticker book, and no, I wasn't a girl. The picture above is a shot of the cover. My album was nowhere near as fancy as some of the ones available in the '80s, printed on relatively flimsy stock and without those clear plastic film coverings that rivaled honest-to-goodness photo albums, but it was what I had to go with. Let's take a closer look to some of the dynamite stickers that made the cut.

First off we have a Good Patient sticker. To be honest, most of my stickers were acquired through trips to the doctor. Yes, allergies are (and were) a bitch. Little Thorzul was allergic to basically everything that grows, which made weekly trips to the local clinic for allergy shots very necessary. Stickers like the one below conjure up olfactory memories of rubbing alcohol. This one in particular is a little too U-Rah-Rah-America for my taste, so I'm guessing I wasn't in any mood to search through the tin of stickers with gusto, hoping to find just the right one. Come to think of it, the nurses administering the injections were usually old and not at all hot in a B-movie sort of way, so I probably just wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible. One last memory these reward stickers dredge up is the rotating "art" that lined the walls of the waiting room. Once a month the paintings hanging on the walls would be changed, most likely traded between floors of the clinic. This practice stopped sometime around 1986 and the "art" has not moved a fraction of an inch since. Expect to see more of these stickers in future posts.
I fucking earned them!

Up next is what I think is a Panini sticker of some guy on the Detroit Red Wings. At least stickers like these help legitimize the presence of the album in my blog. Around my fifth grade year, a couple of the guys in my class started getting into hockey. I was really on the outskirts of this group, having no interest in spending what little money I had on a sport I had no way of even watching (no cable TV in my house). This sticker was probably one of the doubles I was given in attempt to win me over to the sport. No dice, bitch! Theoren Fleury or bust!

The last one we'll take a closer look at is this devilish creature. If you're true child of the 1980s, you'll know that this little guy is a Boglin. For those of you not familiar with the toy line, they were little hand puppets with movable eyes that were made out a material usually reserved for sex toys of various lengths and girths. Again, this was something I never owned, but was able to experience vicariously through the generosity of Kellogg's cereal promotions, one of which was a sheet of 100 Boglin stickers (of the lick n' stick variety). Boglins were all the rage at my school for a few months (along with Pogo Balls), until they were banned indiscriminately because a few of the boys were using their Boglins to punch people in the stomachs. In the mind of a third grader, I guess that's a pretty effective method of deflecting blame. You'll find the rest of the album peppered with more of these.

I hope you have enjoyed he first installment of My Secret Shame. I promise that each successive page will get better and better.

Monday, May 12, 2008

What is Ryan Braun Staring At?

Check out this post-game report from last night's 8-3 victory over the Cardinals.

Part of me wants to think he was just watching highlights from his last two games (which includes four home runs within the span of six at-bats), but such self-aggrandizement is not his style at all. Another part of me wants it to be something more bizarre.

Sausage race replays?

The true face of God?

Actually, it's probably a JumboTron-displayed episode of Mama's Family, typical claptrap the local stations used to put on whenever the Brewers used to get rained out at home. Nevermore.


Oh, and to make it clear, Braun had already been interviewed, with Cameron's taking place a few minutes later, so he's definitely not waiting in line.

I'd like to hear other speculations here.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Pack Alert: 2008 Topps Indiana Jones

I picked these up today for several reasons. First of all, I have been fighting the urge to buy a box of Indiana Jones Topps Heritage. I think these couple of packs will satisfy that urge for about $40 less. Besides, you can probably pick up a base set for real cheap, if not now, then in the near future. I also bought these cards because I'm scaling back on 2008 releases. I'm finding it more fun to try to complete near-master sets of some 2007 releases.

In any case, I like that the wrapper is horizontally- arranged. This will hopefully mean the cards will be true to the upcoming film's 1.85:1 or 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Am I worried about learning some spoilers from these cards? Not really. If "totally freaking awesome" is a spoiler, then I might be guilty of such. If you want to "go in fresh" like George Costanza, then stop reading here.

Let's tear in.

You throw me the idol, I'll give you the whip.

Top to Bottom:
10 General Ross (White guy, friend of Indy, but no Marcus Brody.)
2 Indiana Jones (Kind of like getting the franchise player right off the bat. Sweet.)

20 Aiming for Action
Foil Card 1 of 10 (This card reveals nothing, but looks great. I fully endorse Shia LeBeouf as being worthy. His presence makes films better on as many levels that Hayden Christensen's does not.)

7 Harold "Ox" Oxley (John Hurt...excellent. This card reminds me of the good choice I made a few years ago by buying the DVD 1984 before it went out of print.)

25 Welcome to Doom Town (Indy, you are now in the 1950s. Yikes!)

41 Within Cahuchilla Cemetery

Grade: B+
Pretty good pack, got an insert (1:6), but I was woefully wrong on the card format. Topps lost an opportunity there. I guess I was spoiled by those Star Wars Widevision cards back in the late 1990s. By the way, have pocket sheets ever been made for those card sets? The best I can find is a 4-pocket sheet that allows for a lot of slippage.
These cards will whet my appetite until the real thing hits screens on May 22. I'll probably bust another pack on A Pack A Day later this weekend.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Dr. Steve's Doctored Cards #9

Although Diamond Kings had not yet worked their way from the base set into inserts by this time, Dr. Steve was able to acquire one of the hardest-to-get Kings of baseball back in 1991. In Fleer.

1991 Fleer #126 Eric King

His name is King. He has a crown.

That said, here is a list of my top 3 fictional kings of all time.
3. King Harley Race: The combination of curly blond hair and wrinkles confused me as a WWF-addicted child.
2. King Richard the Lionheart (as depicted in the Disney version of Robin Hood): Yes, I realize the character was based on a real person, but when he makes his triumphant return at the end of the film and sentences Prince John (The Phony King of England) and Sir Hiss to manual labor and makes them wear prison stripes (ever Sir Hiss and his outfit that barely amounts to a sleeve), it's pure cinematic joy. I may be overselling the film a bit, but I recognize it as one of the best pre-Little Mermaid Disney films made. Before this commercial resurrection, the feature at the top of my list is Dumbo.
1. King Friday: Fred Rogers' vocal stylings with this character were nothing less than stellar.

For all of the families reading this blog, here's a coloring sheet. Print this out so you can keep the kids out of your hair while you're cooking dinner.

You're welcome.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Americana: You Dirty Rat!

According to my sources, Cagney never actually spoke the above line, the one he is probably most famous for. I don't have too much to say about this card, so I'll shut up so you can all bask in its glory. (Those of you who wish are welcome to bow your heads.)

2007 Donruss Americana #HL-15 James Cagney Hollywood Legends Personally-Worn Coat Relic (010/350)



The presence of this card was what made my personal box break of Americana so frustrating. When a card like this is available, it's depressing to pull a Martin Klebba autograph, or some of the other junk that's in this set. With one hit per pack, my expectations were a little higher. At least I didn't get a Melissa Jo Hunter auto.

This makes me wonder what would happen if Beckett did an Americana opening on Box Busters. Here are my hypothetical big pulls:
A. JFK Poop-Stained Boxers Swatch (Cuban Missile Crisis)
B. J.D. Salinger Tri-Fold Lost Manuscript (Redemption Card)
C. Dual Signature George Armstrong Custer/Sitting Bull (1/1)
D. Jesus Christ Autographed Wine Cask Chunk (From Wedding at Cana) (Numbered 2/5)

That's right, folks, those boxes "aren't" specially pulled for Beckett.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Punked by the Machinery

Back on February 6, 2008, I dropped my shorts and dangled this in front of your faces on A Pack A Day:

Turns out, I'm the punk bitch.

This has never, I repeat, NEVER happened before in the history of Milwaukee Public Schools. There are drawings of snow days on cave walls, none of which mention making the days up in late spring. I, for one, will not enjoy coming in to work on June fucking sixteenth.
But perhaps some good can come of this situation after all. For one, our superintendent has finally succeeded in an area where he previously knew only failure. In a fractured, dysfunctional school district, he managed to build consensus among employees. Unfortunately for him, all he helped to create was an atmosphere in which we can all agree with his status as a Grade-A Douchebag.

In times such as these, a weaker man would turn to his drug of choice. Some of you out there might interpret this as an overreaction to a mere pair of extra school days, but then most of you are not teachers in inner-city schools within what has become a city on the decline. While illegal drugs might be right for some, I find it more useful to take a bit hit off the card crack pipe. Thus I unveil the latest addition to my Robin Yount collection:
2008 Upper Deck Premier Combos Ryan Braun/Robin Yount (Dual Game-Worn Jersey) #PCM-BY (17/25)

Oh yeaaaaaaahhhhhhhh. That shit goes right to the back of your brain and makes its home there. Ride the snake.
The baseball card gods must have heard my prayers over the last couple of months. Is there anything a true Brewers fan can find to dislike about this card? Aside from the plain white swatches, improving upon this card is next to impossible. This won't get me to buy any packs of Upper Deck, but I sure applaud their creativity.

I traded away two of what will likely be a small handful of truly nice days (based on Wisconsin weather patterns) for a couple of days spent doing back-breaking shoveling. I'm entitled to this impulse item.