Saturday, November 27, 2021

Too soon?

Despite having been blogging for more than a few years now, I'm still not altogether sure about people's reading habits when it comes to blogs and holidays. Personally, I check my blogroll multiple times a day, and have been doing so for years, no matter what day it is (my normal routine is to read posts initially on my phone, then go back a few days later when I'm on the laptop and comment where I can). Others are different though, I just don't know how different. Take Thanksgiving for example. I wouldn't expect a lot of people to be reading blogs on Thanksgiving day itself, but I don't know why they couldn't the day before, the day after, or in this posts case, two days after!

Is two days after Thanksgiving too soon for a post? What if it's a long and rambly post? I hope that you answered no to both of those questions, especially the latter, because I think I'm about to embark on just such a post. Oh, and speaking of Thanksgiving, and hope, I hope everyone who celebrated had a nice time. My mom and I will be doing something later this week, which will mark the first time we've done anything for the holiday in about a decade. With no other family members around, it doesn't usually make a lot of sense to go all out for just two people. We did however plan on doing something this year, but she's been doing a lot of volunteering, and that's pushed our "celebration" back a little. No big deal though, a few days later won't affect the spirit of the thing. It was raining here on Thursday, so I spent my Thanksgiving afternoon sorting cards for the first time in a couple of months. It was kind of nice to be putting stuff in binders again, but it did feel a bit weird to be home and spend the majority of the afternoon just lollygagging about inside. I don't think anyone came to hear about card sorting though, no, you came to hear about a bunch of crap that I got at McKay's (heaven for lovers of all things physical media) last Saturday -- that is unless you hit that back button real quick!

I told myself that I wasn't going to make any more trips to Knoxville on the weekends, what with all of the people out and all, and even more so given the current time of the year, but I've going through McKay's withdrawal and last Saturday was the only day that was looking like it would be possible to go in the next couple of weeks. Oh, and there was a LOT of people out that day. Too many people. Too many hectic people! People are always more crazy during November and December, and I can't imagine that it's all because of the holidays, but I don't know what else could cause such irrational behavior every year at this time? It's funny too, because this is the time of the year that I feel the least amount of stress. Although with heavy crowds everywhere, the old social anxiety will often start kicking in if I'm at a heavily populated place for too long. It got going during this trip, but thankfully waited until I was basically done to cause me any sort of discomfort. I don't think anyone cares about any of this either, so here's some stuff that you may or may not find interesting...

Sports books haven't been very high on my list of things to look for this year. I think I had only read 2-3 up until this past week, with Jeff's book being by far the best of those. I haven't even walked down the sports aisle at McKay's since earlier this year, partly due to my lack of interest at the moment, and because of that aisle is always so crowded. I can't remember what's across from the sports section, but whatever is usually draws a lot of people, and with the narrow aisles there, it gets packed rather easily. 

I recently saw a baseball book mentioned on another blog that I wanted to look for this time. I didn't end up finding a copy of that book, but did find a few more, including Glory, which I've been meaning to read for years now. I just finished yesterday, and now understand what all of the hype has been about. Great book! Hard to put down though. I would've liked to have heard more from Stanley Coveleski, but a few other more talkative guys made up for it, especially Sam Crawford. He seems like he was very interesting person, and still full of life all the way until the end. I know that most people reading this post have already read the book, but if by chance there's anyone who hasn't, go get a copy, preferably the revised edition (it has a few new interviews), you won't regret it.

Always a popular subject on the card blogs, or at least it used to be.

I can't say that I've ever seen jock straps mentioned on the front of a dust jacket before. This one should be fun!

"Did you know?" books can often be hit-or-miss with me, but for under two bucks a pop, I'm usually willing to give them a try. At best, they'll produce at least a few interesting anecdotes, and at worse, they make for a good palate cleanser in-between two longer works of fiction.

I have one more baseball book further down in the post, but for the moment, let's move on to some other stuff...

I got the first book in this trilogy last month when I was there, it was even better than I had hoped. Assuming that the second book will be good as well, I'm hoping that I'll be able to complete the trilogy next month when I go back.

What's worse than actually spending an hour and a half of your life on earth to watch the straight-to-DVD flick, Dinocroc? Uh, spending however much time it takes to read it's novelization, of course! All joking aside, I really love McKay's TV/Movie tie-in section, especially the paperbacks. One never knows what one might find, this book being a perfect example; I didn't even know that it existed, but once I saw it, I knew that I needed it in my life. I read this before Glory, and it really wasn't too bad for what it is. I haven't seen the film, but I'd have to imagine that the book was better, they usually are if only because the written version usually allows for characters to be fleshed out a little more.

I'm hoping that most people are already familiar with Close Encounters, hence my not taking a photo of the synopsis. At 75¢, this was a no-brainer. There were a few more 70's novelizations than usual this time, but this is the only one that appealed to me. 

Some of the other book sections that I frequent were a tad on the depleted side this time, but I think I acquired enough reading material until next month though. Moving on...

As a whole, the bargain ($1.95 or less) DVD/Blu-Ray section isn't as good as it was a few years ago. Don't get me wrong though, there's still thousands of titles to choose from, it just seems like the quality of said titles has gone down some. I still look, just not as thoroughly as I used to.

As far as 90's animated series' featuring superheroes go, X-Men, Batman, and Spider-Man always get brought up when a discussion turns to such things, and rightly so, they were all very good, but there was another one that people seem to forget, or just don't know about, Superman! Aside from a handful of episodes, this was an excellent series, and deserves much more nostalgic love than it's gotten up to this point. Crisp animation, fun monsters and villains, a couple of edgier storylines (Superman even kills Lex Luthor in a parallel universe!); what more could you ask for? I've been meaning to get this series on DVD for years, but have just never found it cheap. I would've preferred to get it in it's entirety, but this first volume was cheap enough that I guess I'll just go the volumes route.

I never thought it would happen to me, but at some point in last decade or so, I stopped paying attention to the latest film and television news, and as such, almost never find out about things until after they've already been out for a couple of years. I think it happened somewhere around the time that all of these streaming services started to get big. They just produce so much garbage (and that's what is), that it makes extremely difficult to weed through all of the latest releases, and/or future releases. Which is how this one has apparently been flying under my radar for the last three years. G.I. Joe and MOTU were my two favorite toy lines as a kid, so a documentary about either is definitely something that I needed to see. It was pretty good, started off a little slow, but then picked up until almost the very end. I could've lived without the the contemporary stuff at the end, but do realize that those things are gonna be cared about by some, so it was okay; at least they didn't waste a lot of time on them.

As I said, the cheap DVD section doesn't have as much to offer for me as it used to, so I only came home with two this time. Those two definitely made all of the searching worthwhile though!

Earlier this year, someone at the store got the not so bright idea to move the bargain CD's (95¢ or less) from the best possible location, to the absolute worst possible location. They put audiobooks where the bargain CD's and cassettes used to be, got rid of the cassettes (insert sad face emoji here), and moved the CD's over to long row of short shelves. Not only is it difficult to get down low enough to try and see everything now, but this spot is also opposite some higher up windows, which usually creates some serious glare bouncing off of the CD case spines; thus making them very difficult to read. I think I've only tried to look through them once they were moved, but it was cloudy on this particular day, so I decided to try and give them a go -- at least the upper three row that is, I refuse to get down on the floor in order to see the bottom two rows.

I spent a good 45 minutes looking through what I could see, and thankfully it wasn't time wasted as I found six for me (three for 25¢ and three for 95¢) and two that I thought my mom might enjoy, which she did; yay me!

I can remember when this album came out because of the heavy radio play that Sonic Youth's "Superstar" got at the time, but don't recall ever hearing anything else off of it. Also, I think that that was the last time that Sonic Youth got any mainstream attention. Superstar still sounds great, and around half of the other tracks aren't bad either. A few stinkers, but still worth a quarter.

Feel free to give me the business on this one. I just wanted to hear a few of these again (and didn't want to have to do so online), and you know something, I haven't been disappointed. Solid buy for a quarter. 

It's only taken 28 years (or thereabouts), but I've finally upgraded this album from cassette to CD. Maybe in another 28 years I'll be able to upgrade it from CD to direct-to-brain download (or however else people are listening to music by then) -- although I doubt I'll be able to do so for a quarter.

On to the 95 centers.

Concrete Blonde's "bloodletting" is one of my favorite albums, and has been for, gosh, I guess a couple of decades now (how has it been that long!!!). And in all of that time, I've never made much of an effort to find any of their other albums. I don't know why exactly, I just haven't. After one time through, I can say that Mexican Moon is certainly no Bloodletting, but will probably take a few more listens for me to better gauge the album.

What happened to the Kongos? They were everywhere just a few short years ago, and now I never hear about them. I haven't cracked the seal on this one yet, and have only ever heard their singles, including the lead track on this one, so I don't know what to expect. Well, that's not true, I expect it to be worth at least 95¢ :)

And here's my best find of the day, at least as far as the CD's are concerned. The albums title is what caught my eye, as any good title should. I only recognized two band names, but after seeing that it was an import, and then looking inside the booklet and seeing that everything was from the 80's, I couldn't not buy it. I listened to it on the way home, and really, really, dug it! I don't quite know how to describe most of the tracks. New wave? Dark wave? Synth? Dark Synth? I guess gun to my head, I'd go with the latter description. Compilations are often put together for a reason, so after I got home I went online to see if there was anything behind this one. If there was, I can't find it. I did see however that the CD isn't available anywhere online for less than $30, so I'd say that that was 95¢ well spent (even more so because I was using store credit). I think that were only two tracks that I didn't like, so I'm pretty happy with this one.

The store may have been a little too crowded for my liking, but given everything that I came home with, I'm glad I went.

As is often the case, at least when I still have time, I stopped by the Book Cellar, and the thrift store that's right across from it, on the way home. The thrift store was a bust, and the Book Cellar would've been too, if it hadn't been for this...

Who doesn't love an old Scholastic book? If priced right, I find them very difficult to turn down. My only problem is that I don't find them nearly enough out in the wild, maybe a couple a year at best. I actually noticed the Scholastic logo on this book before I even saw what the subject matter was. Good thing it was facing outwards on an aisle cap, otherwise I might have missed it altogether. I never noticed them amongst the offerings, and therefor never ordered any sports books from those school catalogs when I was a kid, as I was all about the "scary" stuff at the time, so I'm always a bit surprised to see sports book from Scholastic -- because as far as my memory goes, Scholastic didn't even produce books on sports. It's only as an adult that I learned that they did.

Well, looks like I was right, long and rambly was the order of the day. I think I'm typed out finally, so you're saved from any more of my nonsense, at least until the next post...

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Little help?

Quick post today...

I find myself in need of a couple of cards that I'm not even sure exist, or at least not in the format that I would like them to be in. I've done some searching, and have yet to come up with anything, BUT -- I also suck at the internet, so that may have hindered my attempts. And this, dear friends, is where you come in...

I am looking for a few cards that depict cities, namely Chicago, San Francisco, and New York City; in that order. Ideally these cards would show some chunk of the city, and not just one specific building/place. Also, I'm not looking for one of those stadium cards where it shows whatever stadium with the city in the background, I just want as much of the city by itself as possible. I would also prefer that the cards, if they exist, to be in standard trading card size format, although a tobacco card would work if it's the only option. These will be going into pages, so boxtoppers or any other larger sized items wouldn't be doable.

Please note too, that if any such cards do exist, I'm not looking for anyone to send them to me, I would just like to be pointed in the right direction. I know that this is a bit to ask, so I'll completely understand if folks don't have the time or energy to assist. Either way, I appreciate everyone who at least took time to click on the post. Thank you!

Oh, and on a completely unrelated note, is anyone else having trouble loading blog posts from their blogroll? I've been trying to catch up on some reading and commenting, but I seem to only be able to see the 25-30 most current posts, as clicking on the "Load More" button isn't doing anything. I click and click, and nothing happens. I don't know what's wrong, but it's terribly annoying!

Friday, November 19, 2021

The deals keep coming

I've mentioned on here more than a few times that, while I do have a Twitter account, I spend very little time actually using the site. A couple of minutes (at best) a day is about all I can normally take, and as of late, I've been finding better uses for those couple of minutes each day; and just skipping the site entirely.

I'm not sure if this would be considered a "hot take" or not, but my biggest problem with the site is that I just don't find the majority of it's users to be all that interesting. And that's not to say that I am mind you, but at least I don't spend the entirety of my days tweeting out the same thing over and over, day after day. I don't know about anyone else, but it feels like every time I log in, I just see the same things being brought up, if not from the same people, then from the same types of people.

When it comes to card stuff, the repetition of topics is especially bad. Near as I can tell, there are basically four topics: A). How do you think this card will grade?/I'm unhappy with the grade that this card got! B). Something something... investment. C). Look at this latest mistake from Topps and/or Panini. And D). Something something... high prices/Something something... priced out of the hobby! 

The latter of those four talking points can be found with multiple variations, including the always extreme "Welp, I guess since I can't afford to collect what I like anymore, I might as well sell everything and find a new hobby... lots of teams and players available... DM for prices". I often wonder about these people, not for very long of course, but I am sometimes mildly curious to know what it is that they collect that they can't find any affordable pieces for. I mean if you collect literally any player/team/set, you can still find affordable base cards to add to the collection, things haven't got that bad. Seeing as how they are just another boring Twitter person, I never find myself caring enough to actually engage them in conversation, but it does give me pause for thought... at least until I scroll down a couple of more posts and happen upon on another person tweeting out the exact same thing!

I myself have had absolutely no trouble finding highly desired items at affordable prices in recent months. Heck, I haven't even had to "find" them, as they've been popping up almost daily in saved search emails. In fact my only real [first world] problem with collecting lately has been tying to decide which of these good deals to get now, and which to save to my eBay watchlist and hope that they're still available in couple of weeks time, when I can either, get my next paycheck, or sell some no longer wanted thing. Money is still terribly tight, but a couple of bucks here and couple of bucks there, is usually doable -- within reason. 

You've already seen a few of these much wanted cards in my last couple of posts, and I've got a few more here for today...

A few weeks ago I did something highly unusual and checked my email on the phone while eating lunch. I realize that this is probably a common action amongst pretty much everyone these days, but not for me, normally when I'm eating, I just eat, that's it. Anyways, back to my strange behavior that day. By checking at that time, I found myself there only minutes after having received that days round of saved search notifications from eBay. There were quite a few that day too, but two in particular caught my eye, and even more so after I saw that they were being offered by the same seller (COMBINED SHIPPING!!!). Oh, and the BIN prices on both were about half of the normal going rates, too!

Given it's oval shape, the the 1934 Carreras Film Stars set is one of the more unique tobacco sets to have been produced. It's also notable for containing a number of images that can't be found in other card sets, Mae West's offering being one of them. Despite having been a larger than life personality, the tobacco companies didn't do her any favors, as a lot of her cards from this era are terribly boring, and certainly weren't fitting for someone of her stature.

This card alone would've made my collecting day, but as mentioned, the seller had also just listed another one of my top wants from the set:

I always wonder how people go about pricing things, as Jean Harlow was a considerably bigger star than Mae West, and yet this card was only about half the price of Mae's. I'm not complaining of course, just curious how that works. I suppose it has something to do with the fact that less and less people are caring about such names with each passing year, or that Mae West's impact on current pop culture is more noticeable than Jean's, who knows? Either way, I got two cards that I really wanted for very little money (mUcH lEsS tHaN a BlAsTeR). 

Life goal: Find someone who looks at you like Jean's looking at Duke!
I needed a regular sized card for scale, so I just grabbed the top card from a stack, which just so happened to be this Pacific Legends Duke Snider. I didn't realize how well the pairing worked until I was cropping the scan. I don't think it would qualify as one of Bob Ross' "happy accidents", but in lieu of a better phrase, I'll just go with it.

Aside from the Sylvia Sidney that I already had, there are still a handful of cards from the '34 Carreras set that I would like to get. I have no problem waiting for them to show up at the right prices though, as it was certainly worth it for me to do so with these two.

Bonus content:

Since I was already gonna buy the two Carreras from this seller (they're called homeplatecards by the way), I figured I might as well see what else they had to offer.

I really don't want to start working on any more sets again, but there are two in particular that seem to be slowly chipping away at my resolve, one of which is the 1910 Helmar Seals of the United States and Coats of Arms of All Countries of the World set (or just the T107 set for card nerds). I like everything about this set, the images, the colors, the history, and heck, I'm even gaga for the backs -- which are all the same, but still...

This is only my second card from 150-card set, so I'm hoping that I can resist the urge to collect it, because otherwise I'd have an awful long way to go towards it's completion.

At the rate things are currently going, I could be doing these kind of posts for the foreseeable future (I won't though, I think you all deserve a break from the non-sports posts). Strange Twitter people may not be able to find anything reasonably priced to collect at the moment, but I'm currently dealing with quite the opposite problem. Unlike those folks though, I will not be selling off my entire collection to escape it. Being inundated with deals is a good problem to have, and I don't see myself growing tired of it anytime soon.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Agnes deserved Moorecards

When it comes to vintage non-sport cards, more specifically, those which feature actors and actresses, it can often be puzzling, and occasionally frustrating, to try and figure out why certain people did and didn't appear in more card sets. Or in some cases, why they didn't appear at all.

For sake of clarity, I'm not talking about the major stars, the A-Lister's if you will, their fame was enough to guarantee inclusion into most sets, then and now. No, I'm talking about the character actors and bit players, and for the purposes of today's post, those that weren't quite stars, but could, and would, often out perform those who were. Agnes Moorehead was one of those people.

Whether it was radio, film, or television, Agnes was a known commodity, one who given the opportunity, would often outshine those whose names were listed above hers in the credits. 

She was never want for work. From her beginnings in radio as a member of Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre in the late 30's, then films shortly thereafter, and eventually television when it came into being; she worked steadily right up until her death in 1974. Nominated for many awards, and a winner of more than her share. Thought highly of by her fellow actors, loved by fans, and yet, for all intensive purposes, she was only given one "trading card" during her lifetime...

Carreras had been inserting tobacco cards into their products for decades, but decided to something a little different by the late 40's, and started printing some of these cards on to the side of their Turf-brand packages. I haven't done the research, but want to say that they started doing this in 1947, with the creation of their Film Favourites series. Carreras would go on to produce similar sets in '48 and '49 as well. A number of actors and actresses only cards appeared in these sets, Agnes Moorehead being one of them. 

Thankfully, cigarette cartons/packs were considerably thicker back when these were made than they are nowadays, so the cards are on a thicker stock, slightly thicker in fact, I think, then your average tobacco card. Because of how they were printed, cards from these sets can often be found with flaws, so it can sometimes be challenging to find a clean copy. Being hand cut, results can vary in shape too.

Agnes was featured on a couple of Spanish cards, but those sets are so rare, and their is so little known about them, that I can't help but wonder if they weren't anything more than regional issues. Anyone who collects stamps will know that the Spaniards were very fond of their regional releases, and from all appearances, stamps weren't the only paper items to get the regional treatment.

So why didn't someone of Agnes' magnitude appear on more cards? It's a good question. Tobacco cards weren't produced for children, so one can't say that the makers thought that she wouldn't appeal to the younger crowd. Her name was recognizable by the mid 40's, and would never not be during career, so no producer of cards could say that adults wouldn't know who she was. Plenty of less accomplished actors appeared on more cards during her career, especially when you take into account all of the large tobacco sets that the Germans produced, and then the various later Dutch Gum series'. 

I have had a partially formed theory for a few years now, but it would need some more fine tuning before I'd be comfortable with sending it out into the world. I will say that it involves her affiliation with Orson Welles, and more specifically, her involvement with, Citizen Kane. I have another card coming of a fellow that this theory might apply to as well, so maybe I'll finally get around to fleshing it out and/or disproving it, and share it in his post whenever I get to it. 

Worst tease ever? Probably :)

Saturday, November 6, 2021

My Maria

Brigitte Helm appeared in over 30 films, and yet, her first picture, Metropolis, has been, and always will be, what she is best remembered for.

I'm not sure if it's because the character(s) of Maria/Maschinenmensch are just that enduring, or if it's because all of the fact that all of her films were made in Germany, and aside from Metropolis, very few of them have been seen outside of her native country.

The films communist theme has never resonated with me in the least, but it's groundbreaking special effects and often striking visuals, as well as it's early influence on the science fiction genre, do.

Like a lot of actors and actresses from here era, she made a lot of films in a relatively short amount of time, 37 in eight years to be exact (she would also appear in a short film, which was her final film, many years later). Unlike a lot of other performers from her era though, she wasn't enamored with acting (most of which stemmed from dealing with Fritz Lang during the making of Metropolis), and was able to leave the film industry on her own terms. After retiring in 1935, she married a Jewish industrialist, and if you know your German history, you'll not be surprised to hear that this didn't sit well with the ruling Nazi party. Ultimately, she and her husband moved to Switzerland, where they had a couple of children and led out the rest of their lives [Please note that this is just the Cliff's notes version of her career/life. Things were considerably more complicated, and for those interested, a lot more detailed information can be found elsewhere]

I myself have only seen a handful of her films, but even so, those have been enough to warrant my acquiring a small collection (if it could even be called that) of her cards over the last few years or so. I will never attempt to collect all of her cards, but do have a small want list of particular items that I'd like to get at some point -- one of which I was able to do so just in the last couple of months.

Given how many were made, there are very few German tobacco cards that can actually be considered "rare", this 1936 Aurelia Sultan Filmsterne definitely isn't one of them, and yet, it's still taken me a few years to find a decent copy. Between price, condition, and just seeing it before someone else buys it, I have had no luck in trying to find one. It hasn't helped too that they usually come up from a German seller, and once you factor in the shipping charge, it just isn't cost effective to buy it -- or at least it isn't for me. A few months ago though, a seller that I've bought from on more than one occasion (who is located in the U.S.) , and would highly recommend, bwcards, added a bunch of these to their store, and for less than $2 (that's including tax and free shipping) I was finally able to get one.

Like a lot of German tobacco sets, these were made by more than one company. I know that set was made by at least one other company, but beyond that I don't know anything else. I'm not trying to build any tobacco card "rainbows", so I will not be trying to find copies from any of the other products, one is enough. It's interesting to note too the photos for this set came from the famous German postcard/photograph producer, Ross Verlag, one of who's photos I just led off my previous post with. 

Some of you said last weekend that you'd be up for some non-sport card posts, well, it looks like I'm going to put that sentiment to the test this week, as this will be the first of three consecutive non-sport posts, all planned for the upcoming week. If I can actually finish the other two, these alone will equal my blogging output for the last three months. I'm still looking to regain some blogging rhythm, and am hoping that these will do the trick.

Oh, and on a completely unrelated note, look at this guy...

I almost stepped on this fellow (eastern box turtle) while raking leaves yesterday, he was that well camouflaged amongst the buildup. He was a nice guy, and I would've liked to spend more time with him, but he was not in a very safe location, so I moved him to what was hopefully a better spot. If I'm lucky, we'll meet again someday :)