Thursday, May 25, 2017

One Year Later, Bunted!

As spring appears and Topps has released the 2017 version of the Bunt cards, a couple months ago I bought a box of the 2016 cards, and I'm finally going to show them off.  I really wanted a couple other items from Dave and Adam's but I had a coupon for 5 bucks off 50, and figured I might as well add some newer stuff anyways.  Let's take a look at what I got.

First let me say that I was excited when I got this, but I really thought I bought a hobby box, but I didn't.  I never bought a hobby box before of anything, so I was really wanting one, but maybe next time.  My only real goal was to get a complete set, or be super close to it, or at worse filling out the Royals team set.

I thought I would show the first pack I opened.  Right off the bat, the first card I see is Jackie Robinson.  I think this will be a good pack.  Next card was Johnny Cuerto, a former Royal.  If all the packs are like this, I'll be real happy.  A couple cards later was the insert, which was a Royal and of Bo Jackson no less.  This pack was amazing.  Close it out with another Bo Jackson, and I don't think I'll find a better pack in this box.

Since I have no desire to show every pack, I sorted them out and will show some base cards first.

I really like how they mixed in some legends with some current players.   I think the Griffey and Nolan are my favorites in this bunch.  It's odd that the background logos stick out so much in some photos and are sometimes hard to spot in others.  I really like the design though, and I was aware of what they looked like before buying them, so I didn't go into it blindly.  I really think at this point Topps could discontinue the Opening Day set since its basically the same thing as the regular series at a smaller price point.  Replace it with Bunt with the dollar a pack price point, and it would be great.  It's a simple design, but I like how its different then the flagship set.

Another thing I just noticed is how the team logo's varies from card to card.  Yu Darvish has a different Ranger's logo than Nolan Ryan got.  I presume they use the logo from the year(s) they played on the team for the older players and use recent logos for current players.  That is a nice feature to use, especially since they have the licensing from MLB.  I hope they use that more often.  If they already have, I hope I notice it more often from here on out.  As for this batch, its hard to pick a favorite and I seemingly collect all of these guys.  If I had to pick one, I'd have to go with Yount because I was most excited when I pulled it.  If Pujols had a better photo, it would be considered too.

Clemente and Maddux?  You know this made my night pulling these two.  Add in former Mizzou products Max Scherzer and Ian Kinsler and this is a good batch.  Also a couple former Royals and an A-Rod and now we're cooking with fire.

I nearly had an overdose of Cardinals.  However the Wong, Wacha, Ozzie, and Musial all fit into my collection, and I think I can find room for Waino, and Piscotty, and I'll hold a spot for Hazelbaker since I don't know a lot about him.  I also like how they have McGwire as an Athletic instead of a Cardinal, nice move.

So far I'm doing good with completing this set, I hope I can complete it.

How bout them Royals?  I have no idea why I couldn't organize them better, but hey I scanned them.  I mean it took two months to blog about them, so at least I'm doing something.  I'm happy I got all these cards.  However I did get a little teary eyed pulling the Ventura since it was the first card I got of his since his death.  Likewise it was also sad pulling the Fernandez card even though I didn't really collect him.

When the dust settled, or should I say, the packs opened, I did finish the entire base set, so I was pretty happy.  With that out of the way, let's see the inserts I pulled.

I must have been tired when I scanned these.  No way I would have scanned them all messed up like this.  At any rate, I really like the program set, it is something I hope they did again in the 2017 set.  Maybe take it a step further and make it like a Collect-A-Book and have a page or two inside it.  The Future of the Franchise isn't bad either, but a tad plain for an insert set.  Still, I can't complain.

I love the Unique Unis set.  I hope that is a product in every future Topps series, as there is so many special uniform days now that it can be done.  The Lightforce set isn't too bad either but I'm not a fan of the name.  I do like the look of the cards though.  I like how I pulled some Royals in these insert sets too.

So overall in one box I got the whole base set, and got some nice inserts too.  I can't complain about the box or the series and I think I might buy a box of 2017, even if I do wait a few months when they go on sale.  I made a promise not to buy any Topps cards from 2017 because I don't like the design, but if I saw a pack of these, I would think about it.

So in reference to the cards I bought from Dave & Adams that this was a part of, here is the picture again.  I think I posted it last time I did a post on some of the cards, but here they are.

Somewhere along the way, I didn't scan the Opening Day cards, but since it was a blaster box, you didn't miss much.  I was hoping to get closer to a complete set, but came up quite short (even before you account for the doubles I already had, so I think I'm done with that.  So I guess next up will be the cards on the left side of the photo.  I already scanned the Benchwarmers, and once I scan the Napoleon Dynamite cards, I hope to post them.  I'm trying to scan them all for the Trading Card Database, but there's no checklist yet, and its tough to name the cards for a checklist because quite a few don't have words on them aside from his name, and they aren't numbered.  So once I figure it all out and scan the cards for that site, I'll post the cards on here too.

That wraps it up for today, thanks for reading and have a great night.  I'm hoping it won't rain this weekend and I can go to a flea market or something and take some pics.  If I do, I might have a blog or two next week.  If not, I just had to move all my cards so I guess I might sort them again.  Anyways, it should be fun whatever happens.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Music Monday: A Sunshower of a Tribute

I love music, and I'm sure you know that by now.  When I wrapped up my Music Challenge last week, I made mention that I would possibly be starting a new feature weekly about music.  What I didn't figure out at that time was what it would be about.  I thought it would be a list of 5 songs or something I liked, or from certain years, or artists.  After I published my last music post last week, sadly, my theme for this week fell into my lap.


As I start to write this I still can't think of the words to write.  Last week music lost a great voice in singer Chris Cornell.  That's the basic thesis most people have wrote since his untimely death since ruled a suicide, but that byline isn't just hollow words- it also has a much deeper impact to me that I care to admit.

If you recall on my last post, I talked about how Jon Foreman's voice I could listen to all day.  Truth is, there were a couple other names that would be considered for that entry, and Chris Cornell was one of those names.  I was just 12 years old when Kurt Cobain died, and it didn't have a profound impact on me.  I understood the sadness and disbelief that many felt when hearing the news, but it didn't resonate with me because partly I was young, but more importantly, I never was much of a fan of Nirvana.  When I thought of the Seattle grunge scene as it would be later referred to as, I immediately thought of Soundgarden, and then I usually thought of Alice In Chains.  I think I liked Soundgarden more than Nirvana because Chris Cornell had more range than Kurt Cobain, and I also understood the lyrics to Soundgarden songs.  At any rate, when I just happened to see the Chris Cornell died last week, I suddenly felt what all those Nirvana fans felt 23 years ago- the same sadness, and disbelief.

So today I will feature 5 songs from Chris Cornell that I enjoy, but first I'll talk a little bit about what I think of when I hear his name.

Many people immediately jumped to Soundgarden and Audioslave when they mentioned he died.  Truth be told, being a part of either band would be a major accomplishment for any musician, but being a part of both is tremendous.  For me though, I was never a fan of Audioslave, despite Cornell's vocals, the band just didn't do anything for me.  I have revisited their stuff in the last few days, and I will say that they had much better songs than I remember, but then again, if you ask anybody to name an Audioslave song, they'd be hard pressed to name one.  It amazed me even more that some people were even blind to who Soundgarden is, and they even admitted that while it was sad, they never heard of "the guy".  It shows that you could really excel in an entertainment industry, but still haven't reached an audience you thought you have.  My rambling on this is taking away from my original thought, that while many thought of his two bands he was most famous for, I immediately thought of his solo work.  Anybody who has major success with groups as a lead singer will surely garner enough attention to have a successful solo album, but he did it with ease.

Last year many celebrities died, including many musicians.  As much as it was sad that David Bowie, Prince, and others passed away, and my initial shock, almost a week later, and I still can't really comprehend that Chris Cornell is no longer alive.  When I heard it, I thought it was an ugly rumor.  Then as news outlets reported it, I started to realize it was true.  Then trying to get as much information as I could, I found news stations from Detroit (where he died) and watched to see if they had updates.  That's when I first heard they believed it was suicide.  I was appalled that a new outlet would be so callous to spread these rumors so quickly after his death.  However as the morning hours went on, it became less rumors and more of a reality.  Even today I'm still reading news reports to find out more about what happened, not because I am morbid, but I just have a hard time believing he would take his own life.  I came up with many ideas how it could have happened, but never why it happened.  Even now the latest theory I have makes me out to be a conspiracy theorist, but I just can't believe he'd do it.  I read that he had been taking a drug that made him act out of character lately, and read that the pill could have gave him suicidal thoughts.  It's my only guess that makes me think he could have done it.  He beat many addictions in his life, he had a loving family, even had a foundation he started with his wife.  His band Soundgarden was on tour, and even planned on releasing a new album, and also talks of another reunion with Audioslave.  It just seemed like an odd timing for him to commit suicide.  On top of that, I've been hearing about it all week, but I haven't heard one thing about a suicide note.  Not so much of a peep from band mates about how he had been erratic.  It just seems fishy to me.

Having said all that though, depression can strike people in many different ways, and for many suicide seems to be the only choice they think they have.  Some people are very good at hiding depression, so we may never know if he struggled with it.  What I do know is that for many years, I didn't feel much remorse for those that committed suicide.  Not even ones that overdosed, as I called it "accidental suicide".  It was just something I couldn't fathom.  How could one think that suicide is the best option.  I've rarely talked about this, but in high school I had thoughts of it, but it wasn't nothing serious.  I always believed it was the coward's way out.  I felt that way for many years.  Then over the years I started to see it happen more and more.  Finally one day while I was at work on a break I looked on Facebook and saw that one of my friends had committed suicide.  A guy that seemed to have it all, and that I was working with probably a year or so earlier.  It hit me like a ton of bricks.  To this day it still brings back the pain of that day, and the day of his funeral.  It made me realize though that you never know what is in the mind of others, and having the attitude that it's the coward's way out is a mistake. 

I know I am venturing way off track here, but let me just say, that Chris Cornell's death has so many things racing through my mind that if you were to ask me to sum up the last week in one word, it would be stunned.  I think it is overused somewhat these days, but I can't think of a better word.  I have sat in silence more in the last week, than I have in the last couple years.  Its rare for me to not have the radio or TV on, but I have really sat in silence a lot trying to think of words to say, and I really can't.  So the best thing to do is to let the music make the case on why I'll miss Chris Cornell so much.

Temple Of The Dog- Hunger Strike

I've listened to this song half a dozen times this week, and could put it on loop and never get tired of it.  I'll be honest though, before last week, I didn't know anything about Temple of the Dog other than Chris Cornell was in the band.  A brief history though:  Cornell's former roommate was in a couple Seattle bands in the 80s before he died in 1990.  After he passed, Cornell joined the a couple of the band mates and made this album as sort of a tribute to their friend.  It was only one album, and a few months later the other band mates joined a new band called Pearl Jam.  With the success of Pearl Jame and Soundgarden, A&M decided to release this album, and Hunger Strike got airplay.  I never realized the other vocalist on this song was Eddie Vedder, who was the front man for Pearl Jam. 

Soundgarden- Spoonman

While not probably considered the best song, this is possibly my favorite Soundgarden song growing up.  Among all the songs I've listened to in the past week, this actually hasn't been one of them, but its still one I think deserves a listen.

Soundgarden- Black Hole Sun

The only song I've listened to more this week than Hunger Strike is Black Hole Sun.  I've shed a few tears each time too.  This is the essential song to listen to if you don't know anything about Chris Cornell or Soundgarden.  It showcases their sound, but more importantly, Chris's beautiful voice and his range.  I've listened to an acoustic version of it a few times, but it doesn't compare to this.  This song could really be in contention of best songs ever if we're being honest.  Its simple beat epitomizes the Seattle sound so many mention.  It never crossed my mind until someone made a comment on a site that three of the pioneers of the Seattle sound- Kurt Cobain (Nirvana), Layne Staley (Alice In Chains), and Chris Cornell (Soundgarden) are all gone.  Let that sink in for a while.  To go a step further and think of other 90's bands like Blind Melon (Shannon Hoon), Sublime (Bradley Nowell), Stone Temple Pilots (Scott Weiland), The Gits (MIa Zapata, another Seattle export), Jani Lane (Warrant), Dave Brockie (GWAR), all of whom have passed on, and those are just lead singers.  There are countless others, and suddenly all the music of the 90's is gone. 

Audioslave- Like A Stone

The thing about Audioslave that I never cared for is that they were billed a supergroup.  I never cared much for that term, or the idea of members of a bunch of successful bands joining as one to make an album.  I'm fine with them doing a random show or something together, but to me it takes away from their other bands and accomplishments.  However, while I didn't listen to them too much, I appreciated the music Audioslave made.  The thing is though is the in this video, as good as Chris is, Tom Morello totally steals the show with his solo. I think in the months ahead, I might give them another shot, regretting what I passed over all those years ago.

Chris Cornell- Can't Change Me

I really liked Chris' solo work.  It really allowed him to show off more of his range than Soundgarden did, and you could hear it.  This is probably the song most heard when they mentioned his solo work, but I still think a lot of it was overlooked.

Chris Cornell- Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart

This one is really tough to watch.  Especially after hearing how he died.  If you haven't watched it yet, in the video, Cornell is to be hung with a noose (its an Old West concept), but the rope breaks and he escapes.  Again, very tough to watch, but there is an appearance from Eric Roberts in it so that is a plus I guess.  This is one of his more recent solo songs from a couple years ago, and one of the better songs from 2015 to be honest.

There are many more video's to post, but I'll only show a couple more.  One is the inspiration for the blog post, the other is a great cover.

Chris Cornell- Sunshower

Among all of his solo work, my favorite song he did was this one called Sunshower.  I read that he never released it as a single, but I do remember hearing it often on the radio, and that's how I found it.  I might have to look for the album its on and get it.  I don't know why it stands out so much to me, but something about it that I like more than others.

The final song is one I just heard after he passed, and an acoustic version of a song wrote by an artist who passed away last year.

Chris Cornell- Nothing Compare's 2 U

I think Cornell did an amazing job covering this song wrote by Prince and most famously sung by Sinead O'Conner.  It showcases his range yet again, and it is a great way to close the book on the musical tribute to an artist that I will never forget.

Rest in Peace Chris Cornell.  I hope you know how much joy you brought to many fans.

Thanks for reading, and have a great day.  I seriously hope to be blogging about cards again soon. I just felt a need to post this today.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

30 Day Music Challenge: Days 26-30

It's been a while, and I haven't felt like blogging so I haven't.  I haven't been busy, just not in the mood to write.  I need to finish this series though, and figured I'd burn it off now.  I have been in the mood to play some Xbox 360 more lately, and have been rearranging stuff,  so while I haven't been busy really, I just haven't found time to blog.  Hopefully I will soon.  At any rate let's finish this challenge and see where it takes us.  I already made this list, so this isn't a half hearted attempt just to wrap it up.

Day 26: A song that makes you want to fall in love

Ingrid Michaelson- The Way I Am

I've always enjoyed Ingrid and its really because of her simple lyrics that have really deep feelings.  I think this is one of her better songs, but unfortunately, I'm not much of a fan of this video.  I should have chose a lyric video instead to be honest, and I also think this sounds different than the version I usually listen to.  Maybe its because I have news on in one ear while listening and next to a window where its very windy outside.  It's still worth a listen though.

Day 27: A song that breaks your heart

Gavin DeGraw- Not Over You

This is one of the most upbeat, saddest songs ever.  If you hear it a couple times you might start singing along and not even pay attention how sad it is.  But if you listen closer, you hear Gavin's heartache over finally admitting to himself that he's still in love with a former love.  He puts up a front when he sees her, but deep down, he knows its not true.  This song came out long after I had these feelings about someone, but it still brings back thoughts of her from time to time, and as I've said before, I'm happy for how her life turned out, it took a long time to get over her.  So much so, that when I used to write poems, one was called "Getting Over Her."

That would be the end of it, but two songs came to my mind when I thought of this one, so I declare it a tie, and will include another song.

John Michael Montgomery- I Swear

When I was in high school, this song was already a couple years old, but it was still popular.  By then All 4 One had covered it, and while some may say they did a better job with it, this version was always better to me because it was more emotional.  It also brings back memories of the same person I mentioned above, as for many years every time I heard this song, I thought of her.  I guess I still do, but not to the same level.  JMM had a few songs that really heartbreaking, another being "The Little Girl", a song that I admit that I usually shed a tear every time I hear it.  While I don't like country as much these days, I still say when they aren't so cliche and talking about drinkin' or trucks, and talk about love, they truly are some of the most emotional songs.  Especially ones from the 90's.

Day 28: A song by an artist with a voice that you love

Switchfoot- Twenty Four

The lead singer of Switchfoot is Jon Foreman.  I could listen to him singing all day, that isn't just something I'm saying, I really have listened to about 8 straight hours of Switchfoot songs and more of his solo stuff.  Switchfoot has many more popular songs, like Dare You To Move, and Meant To Live, but I chose this one because it really exposes how great Foreman's voice really is.  It is also a very underrated song on a great album called "The Beautiful Letdown".  I've largely considered my concert days over, unless its something too good to pass up and close by, but I would make an exception for Switchfoot.  I've read they have a concert with Lifehouse (another band I'd like to see) coming up in July in Iowa, and if I could find a way to go, I would.  Once I finish this, I might even turn off the radio I have on waiting for the Royals game, and listen to Switchfoot just because its been a while.

Day 29: A song that you remember from your childhood

The Escape Club- Wild Wild West

Ah, where do I begin.  First let me say this brings back so many memories and I only remember hearing it one day as a kid.  I listened to it more as I grew older, but it was more to relive those memories I had from the first time I remember hearing it.  This song was released in 1988, and it was probably in '89 or '90 when I remember this song.  I remember my sister Andrea was in the front yard of our country home and had her boombox sitting on a tree stump we had in the yard and this song was playing on one of the tape decks.  It was a cassette single, and she kept playing it over and over.  She was practicing dance routines to it as she was wanting to become a cheerleader.  I remember that I pretended to dance some to it too, but she spent a long time dancing to it.  She eventually did become a cheerleader in high school, and she loved it (for the most part), and whenever I think of my childhood I think of that day.  Andrea and I did quite a bit of stuff as kids on the farm together, and by the time we moved back into town a few years later she was in high school by then, and as kids do when they get older, they spend more time with friends.  It's those country days though that I miss a lot.  After she was diagnosed with cancer in 2011, we started to spend more time together again, and while we were never far apart from each other, some of my favorite memories with her included the times we had out on the farm.  Whenever I hear this song randomly pop up on the radio my day immediately gets better.

Day 30: A song that reminds you of yourself

Evanescence- Bring Me To Life

This was probably the hardest day to pick for many reasons, but one of them was none immediately jumped out to me.  I think it was first figuring out my thoughts about me first then how a song could relate to it.  I still don't know if I made the best choice, but its the one that I kept coming back to.  I think a lot of it has to do with how I think of myself as a perfectionist sometimes, and am very critical of myself a lot and look at my mistakes I make.  The lyric "save me from the nothing I've become" really sticks out on certain days because I look back and think I could accomplish so much more and it bogs me down.  But then I think on other days, all the things I have accomplished and done, and am proud of most of it, and am happy.  I am generally a happy person but some days I do have thoughts of "nothingness" and I think some of it does go back to breaking away from church and how I wish I would return one day.  This song does beg me to ask "BRING ME TO LIFE!"  However as I stated on a previous post, I need to go back for the right reasons, and I still need to sort it out.

So with that I wrap up the 30 day challenge.  This post was a little emotional and I'm hoping to post some card blogs again soon to bring out some happiness.  I have a few I should get around to, but keep putting them off, but who knows, maybe I'll get to them by the end of the month.  Thanks so much for reading, and sometime this feels like therapy for me and I really appreciate you guys taking the time to hear my thoughts.  I hope everyone has a great night.  If you read these music blogs, let me know what you think.  I thought about doing a weekly music related post but it won't be until I get back in the groove of writing, so if you prefer I stick to cards and such let me know.  If you want more music stuff, let me know.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

30 Day Music Challenge: Days 21-25

Sorry for the brief hiatus from posting, I did some redecorating around the house then got the bug to play some Xbox 360 and climbed into a rabbit hole of reading old wrestling newsletters online.  I'm still doing the last two, but found some time to actually write a new post.  So let's begin with the next phase of the Music Challenge.

Day 21: A favorite song with a person's name in the title

The Allman Brothers Band- Jessica

The first time I remember hearing this song was in the movie Field of Dreams as Kevin Costner is driving to Boston and I've been hooked on it ever since.  There aren't a lot of instrumentals that I like especially ones this long, but it doesn't sound repetitive so that is one of the main reason's I like it.  It's my favorite song from the Allman's and I once wore out a cassette just from listening to this song.

Day 22: A song that moves you forward

Lupe Fiasco- The Show Goes On

The first time I heard of Lupe Fiasco was his song "Kick, Push" and I really liked it.  It came at a time where I wasn't really into the pop/hip hop scene but it seemed like a breath of fresh air.  Since then I listened to many of his other songs, including this one.  Something about it gives me a positive outlook on things and makes me realize there's no need to dwell on the past, and try to move on.  I'm actually glad I thought of this song because its been a long time since I heard it and its definitely worth listening to again.

Day 23: A song that you think everybody should listen to

Jackyl- The Lumberjack

Honestly, if I go a month without hearing this song, then its been a bad month.  It wasn't until about 2011 when I first got into listening to Jackyl, thanks to the TV show Full Throttle Saloon, but since then, I celebrate their entire library.  This song was 20 years old when I first heard it, but since then, I've made up for lost time.  For the most part, I consider my concert days behind me, but if I got the chance to see Jackyl, I would probably jump at the chance to see them.  Jesse James Dupree is a showman and I think it would be an intense show.

Day 24: A song by a band you wish were still together

dc Talk- Since I Met You

I've mentioned my love for Christian music on here a few times, and to be honest, without dc Talk, I probably wouldn't have liked many of the other bands.  The 90's they really revitalized Christian Music, much to the chagrin to CCM purists.  They introduced many kids (and adults) to hip hop, and later rock.  This track was off their last original album, 1998's Supernatural.  I remember buying this CD the week it came out (which was rare for me, as I usually waited a few weeks or months to get new CD's).  This was my favorite track on it and really wish it got released as a single, as I thought it was just as good as the other singles they released on the album.  In 2000, they released Intermission, which had a couple new tracks, but was a greatest hits album, and it was a way to announce they were going in different directions, or a break, from playing together.  Last year they made a huge announcement, and fans really hyped it up, but it was to announce they were going to perform for a week on a cruise ship.  Many Talk fans had their hopes up for a new album or maybe a summer tour, but no dice.  Tobymac performs as a solo artist now and is one of the biggest Christian rap acts out there.  Michael Tait is now the lead singer of another band hugely successful in the 90's- the Newsboys.  As for Kevin Max, he has dabbled with being a solo artist and even spent time as the frontman of yet another successful 90's Christan act- Audio Adrenaline, but I think these days he has gone solo again.  I don't keep up like I use to, but if they did go on tour one more time, I would try to find a way to see them.

Day 25: A song by an artist no longer living

Gram Parsons- Streets of Baltimore

I heard about this odd movie about these guys who stole a corpse and took it to the desert and lit it on fire.  It was called Grand Theft Parsons.  It starred Johnny Knoxville, and come to find out, it was based on a true story- it was Gram Parsons body that was stolen.  The story was so out there I had to watch, and I fell in love with the movie.  After I watched the movie, I looked up as much as I could on Gram Parsons, and started listening to his music.  He really was an outcast too country for rock, and too rock for country, so he is best described today as Alt-country.  Its a genre I've been a fan of for quite a while, and when I heard Gram sing, it took me back to days where music was simple.  I really appreciated it.  I wish he was still around, and selfishly I wish he had some lost albums that could be found, so I could hear more.  I found a CD that was released a few years back that has two of his albums on it, and I dig it out on occasion to listen to.  The toughest part of this was finding a favorite song of his to choose, but I went with Streets of Baltimore since it was the first one that popped in my head.

So that wraps up another installment of the music Challenge, and there's only one more left to do.  I hope I won't delay it this time, and it actually includes a bonus song, so I'll have six songs listed.  Anyways, thanks for reading and have a great night.