Monday, October 27, 2014

Here's a Kickstarter to Back

Sorry about this, I really am.  Except that I'm not.  Because I'm going to blatantly plug a specific Kickstarter to the five of you who read my blog.  Where We Begin is a short film directed by award-winning director, and my friend, Mitsuyo Miyazaki.  Mitsuyo is really my wife's friend, they went to college together at Southern Utah University, home of Utah Shakespeare Festival.  When we were at the festival earlier this Summer, partly on business partly for fun, Mitsuyo ran into Melissa and they concocted a plan.  A plan to have Melissa be the costume designer on this amazing film.  Shooting in Cedar City in a month.

So in late July my wife left me for two weeks to shoot this movie.  Towards the end my Mom and I took our daughter Kaylee to the set in Cedar City so that she could appear in the film as well.  Mom and I were on set as chaperones, or Kaylee wranglers so-to-speak.  We had an amazing day, and my wife got to have the experience of a lifetime.  One that I hope she gets to repeat in the future.

Here it is finally, the Kickstarter campaign.  Everyone who worked on this movie sacrificed something, blood, sweat, tears, time, money, sanity, you name it.  The film is almost done, they just need a little more funding to get over the hump.  Here I am begging you to help out.  Kickstarter is an amazing thing, I've dabbled in it myself helping fund four projects so far.  I've received my rewards for two of the four, and am waiting for two more.  Being a part of this project has given my family something that we needed so badly, a project that we could pour our love into, and it shows.  EVERYTHING about this film is amazing...and I haven't even seen the whole thing!  I've just seen bits and pieces, basically everything that's in the trailer on the Kickstarter.  If that moves you at all (the last couple of minutes), please, I beg, give some dough.  You won't be disappointed.  I guarantee it.

Here's the link again:

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Really Cool Baseball Pitching GIF

SO there's a use of Junk-Wax.

Found on Reddit

Friday, October 3, 2014

UCLA Bruins in the NBA - 2014-15 Edition SIXTEEN BRUINS BABY!

Complete with a cool pic of Mr. Kevin Love as a Cleveland Cavalier, the UCLA BRUINS home page has their annual article letting us know how many Bruins are on NBA Rosters at the beginning of the season.  Last season I wrote a nice article on our boys why not do it again this year!

Two Bruins who played last year are not on rosters at the beginning of this year: Malcolm Lee and Earl Watson.  Lee played 35 games for the Timberwolves over the last two years, but was traded on draft day to Phoenix, who then traded him to Washington and was released shortly thereafter.  He's had injury problems including extended outages for groin and knee issues.

Earl Watson retired after 12 seasons with six different teams.  He took a coaching position with the San Antonio Spurs after making bold statements that he'd like to be the Utah Jazz head coach.  Watson's retirement now makes Matt Barnes the last Bruin in the NBA to have played under Steve Lavin.

Jordan Adams - Memphis Grizzles
Arron Affalo - Denver Nuggets
Kyle Anderson - San Antonio Spurs
Trevor Ariza - Houston Rockets
Matt Barnes - LA Clippers
Darren Collison - Sacramento Kings
Jordan Farmar - LA Clippers
Jrue Holiday - New Orleans Pelicans
Ryan Hollins - Sacramento Kings
Zach LaVine - Minnesota Timberwolves
Kevin Love - Cleveland Cavaliers
Luc Richard Mbah-a-Moute - Philadelphia 76ers
Shabazz Muhammad - Minnesota Timberwolves
David Wear - Sacramento Kings
Travis Wear - New York Knicks
Russell Westbrook - Oklahoma City Thunder

The rookies this season are Adams, Anderson, LaVine and the Wear twins.  Only the Wear twins were undrafted.  LaVine went #13, Adams #22 and Anderson #30.

Arron Affalo started the year last season with Orlando but was traded back to the Denver Nuggets, where he played between 2009 and 2012 in June.  He can opt out of his contract at the end of this year.

Trevor Ariza begins his second decade in the NBA with a return to the Houston Rockets.  He's played for five other teams in 10 previous years.

Matt Barnes returns to the LA Clippers and is joined by former two-time Laker Jordan Farmar.

Darren Collison signed a free-agent contract with the Sacramento Kings, where he will be joined by his Clipper team-mate Ryan Hollins.

Kevin Love was probably the biggest move any Bruin made during the off-season, bring traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers where he'll play with a returning LeBron James.   The same deal saw the Prince of Cameroon Luc Richard Mbah-a-Moute from the T-Wolves to the 76ers.

Jrue Holiday returns to the Pelicans, Shabazz Muhammad returns to the T-Wolves and of course Russell Wesbrook returns to the Thunder.

The NBA Season begins October 28

Friday, August 8, 2014

The first set of 2014-15 Hockey IS HERE! Upper Deck MVP is live

I just got back from my LCS (hi Matt and Zack) and purchased my first few packs of the new season.  Of course I'm still buying 13/14 products, but since I'm almost done with my Upper Deck sets, and I'm pretty much giving up on anything Panini related, it's going to be an easy transition.

MVP is a budget product, or at least it's supposed to be.  Hobby boxes are running $46 at DA Cardworld and they are $48-60 at brick and mortar.  Boxes are 24 packs with 8 cards each.  In each pack you get 1 silver script and 1 SP high number.  The set is 300 cards and there are multiple inserts.

Upper Deck is following Topps parallel program it seems, not only are there the silver scripts, but "super-scripts" each numbered to 25 and then the extremely confusing "colours and contours" set, which are die-cut and have multiple levels of rarity from 1:6 to never gonna find it.

Besides the nifty autos and relics, the inserts are actually rather decent this time, celebrating the season that just ended rather than just another insert-set with bad graphics and the same old tired checklists.  MVP includes Rookie of the Month, 3 Star Players of the Month and 3 Star Players of the Week.  I like this idea better than the old paradigms because it actually focuses on the games rather than careers or even single seasons.  Plus there's plenty of Kings to chase here.

There's a four part Rookie Redemption set that are separated by conference (one for each) and are case hits.  Obviously we don't know who are in the sets yet, but these should be pretty popular I would think.  There's also a single Young Guns card with long odds as well.

So what did I pull in my four packs?  Well I only got one King, but it's Marian Gaborik and it's a short print.  It's my first Gaborik in a Kings uniform, because I don't buy high-end Panini crap.  I got one nice 3 Stars of the Week insert, featuring Sidney Crosby and Patrick Marleau.  And I pulled two box hits.

Yes you read that right, out of the four packs I snagged two box hits with 1:36 or higher odds.  The first was a Contours/Colors Gold Die Cut of Valtteri Filppula (there's one on the bay of e for $7) and the second, well, the second was pretty darn cool.  Here you go:

That's #05/25 of HOFer Patrick Roy as a Canadien.  Not that I even *LIKE* Roy because I still hate his guts for beating the Kings in the '93 Finals, but hey, it's a good card and if I can flip it I can buy some Kings cards.  I put it up already.  There's one other (#10) and they want $33 on the BIN with 2 days left.  Mine is priced a bit higher, but it's a lower number and it's from the US.  Plus I offer free domestic shipping and I tried to reprice the international shipping to just it's actual cost to me.

I don't know if I care to put a set together, I'm not 100% sure yet.  I will be chasing the Kings though, that's for sure.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

At Last - A Completed Collection - 12 Years in the Making

During the 2002-03 Hockey Season the LA Kings did an interesting promotion, they gave away five mini-Lego type figurines made by the now-defunct company SMITI.  The five figures were available at five different games, the first of which was in October and you got a box to go with your first figure.

Not my set, but this is it.
I didn't go to ANY of the actual games.  At least I'm pretty sure I didn't, I don't have my ticket book hanging about to double-check.  In any case during the season I managed to acquire four of the five figures and the box, but the Ian Lapierriere figure eluded me.


Now granted I probably forgot to check for him for a few of those years, but I've had an alert for a single figure on eBay for several years.  This last week while we were on vacation in Utah the alert popped up, and the price was right.  $4 shipped.  AT LAST - my set is complete.  Well, he has a broken stick, but I don't care.

Problem is that the other four figures and the box are in storage.  Dammit.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Budget Adventures in KICKSTARTER

Crowdfunding is not a new paradigm, it's existed since at least the 16th Century.  According to Wikipedia good old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart tried crowdfunding in 1783 offering such rewards as manuscripts and other paper ephemera with his handwriting/signature, and HE WAS NOT 100% SUCCESSFUL!  Think about that for a second.  If Kickstarter had been around back then he'd have no problems getting more than the amount he asked for.

Kickstarter?  What's that?  Well, it's the biggest crowdfunding site around, though there are others, KS has been the most successful format so far in bringing creators and funders together.  KS uses the "rewards" based funding method in that when you donate to a project you should receive some sort of pre-determined "reward" based on the project itself.  Other projects are "equity" based, meaning that when you donate you receive a certain amount of ownership of the project and based on that ownership you may (or may not) expect a return on investment.  I wish I could afford some of the equity based projects, but for now I'm sticking with rewards, why?  Because I like things.  Yup.

The interesting thing about Kickstarter projects is that you can, if you choose, to donate virtually any amount to the project, even as low as a dollar or two.  Now at those levels you usually only receive virtual rewards, such as wallpapers, pdfs, or a mention on their website.  The more money you donate, the more rewards you can expect obviously.  Most KS projects have many tiers of rewards, and even what's known as "stretch goals" where once they receive the initial amount they're asking for the creators can offer better rewards for the more money they receive.

I backed my very first Kickstarter in November of last year, pledging to give $25 to Dale Mathis for his 3D Art Deck of Cards.  Here's the link to the project.  I can't remember where I got the link in the first place, I might have just been browsing the site for cool stuff, or I may have been directed there by Bleeding Cool or IO9.  IN any case I was transfixed by the cool design and the steampunk theme.  Now at the time I pledged $25 was the least I could pledge to just get the deck itself and while I would have liked to get the dice and frame, those were way out of my budget.  If you get on KS early enough you can sometimes get really good stuff for really cheap.  For example, Dale's FIRST pledge of more than $1 got everything in the KS, because he was being really cool.  Then the next 20 or so pledges could get the deck for like $12 shipped.  So my biggest tip to you if you're interested in KS is to browse often for new projects you like.

The shipping time on rewards is something that can be an annoyance.  Most rewards are made from the funds derived from the project itself, which seems fairly logical.  SO first the project has to fund, which takes 7-10 days after the project closes.  Then the creator has to get the product made, and usually they will have given you a time-table on all aspects so you know what to expect.  If you think you're getting your rewards within 6 weeks, you're mistaken.  As I said I backed this project in November of 2013 (EARLY November at that) and my rewards just arrived today, which is a turnaround of 8 months.  I have backed three other projects since then and haven't gotten any of my rewards yet.

But I did get my 3D Deck of Cards, and they are amazing!  Here's the deck in it's case, which is housed in a custom matte black painted tin box.  The inside has a removable foam insert, also custom.

The deck box itself is a standard paper box, but it's the large 3D Sculpture on the front that is the centerpiece obviously.  I didn't go for any embellishments on mine, and I think it looks amazing.  The gears all move and the thing is seriously heavy.

Some of the cards themselves.  Clockwise from upper left: The double-sided card showing the standard card back, the metal certificate of authenticity which also is used to attached the deck to the custom frame, the DM Logo card, Red Joker with DM Sculpture, Ace of Spades featuring DM Sculpture, and the Black Joker.  The other cards in the deck are standard Bicycle playing cards.

If you're interested in getting one of these decks, I suggest you either peruse eBay or check out Dale's site to see if any make it into the store.  eBay will set you back a bit though, the only one that has sold so far went for almost $80.

Here's the other projects I've backed so far.

Have you backed any Kickstarters?  What'd you do and what'd you get?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Thoughts on Tony Gwynn's Passing

I grew up in San Diego, living there from 1980 to 1998.  While I never really lost my first allegiance in Baseball which was for the California Angles (and NOT the Los Angeles Dodgers) I rooted for the Padres due to the home-town bias.  Didn't hurt that the entire time I lived in San Diego I was never further than 5 miles away from Jack Murphy Stadium.  Subsequently I was there and fully entrenched in Padre-mania when it hit in 1984, fueled by the spectacular season that one Tony Gwynn tore through hitting .351 with 213 hits playing Right Field.

Photo courtesy Laura K. Stevens.
I once owned a Tony Gwynn Rookie Card, his Topps issue, coveted by many in San Diego, more so than his Fleer and Donruss issues from the same year.  For one Topps was still "THE BRAND" back then and for two, the newcomers' cards were boring non-action shots, and his Topps showed, well, his ass.  Yup.  One of the greatest rookie cards in Padre history shows his butt.  Something even more curious I noticed, in my friend Laura's picture of Tony's rookie card, he's wearing a number in the 50's.  We all know his uniform number was #19, so hmm...

Seemed like outside of San Diego Mr. Gwynn was well respected, but not that well known.  That's OK, he was our hometown hero, after all even though he was born (like myself) in Los Angeles he went to SDSU and was a Lincoln High guy as well.  After he retired he went back to work for SDSU coaching.  He was a stand-up guy and there are tons and tons of tributes flowing over the last couple of days as there should be.

I don't personally own much Gwynn memorabilia anymore, I may have some stuff still in storage.  I was at the game where he won his final Silver Slugger award, and that was pretty special because if I recall correctly it was a really close race between Gwynn and Colorado slugger Larry Walker.  (Gwynn won the batting title by 6 points, .372 to .366.

I did attend the 1992 All-Star Fan Fest in San Diego at the convention center, one of the first times I'd ever been there, having eschewed the first two SDCCs at the new hall along Seaport Village (total honesty - I've never been to Petco either).  One of the promos was this wonderful full page sheet showing the complete 12 card set for that years' inserts.  The first 10 cards were found in packs about 1:13 or so.  The last two were mail-aways, a common component of sports collecting that I loved to go after back in the day.

This sheet has more sentimental value to me now than monetary.  It represents the early 90's so fantastically.  Upper Deck had been doing these "limited edition" sheets for awhile and Fleer wanted to get in on the action.  If you want one I notice there's one listed on eBay for a $5 bid/$10 BIN.  It's not my listing, so I'm not linking, but you can find it easily enough.  Search "1992 Ultra Tony Gwynn."

The sets of 12 themselves seem to be readily available at under a buck a card too.  Even for the mail aways.  It was the era of junk wax.  It might be more fun to find 1992 unopened Wax and search for the certified autos.  Wait, what's that you say?  Yup, Tony signed 200 of EACH CARD and they were inserted.  So theoretically there's a 10 card signed set out there somewhere.  Yikes.  Back in the day these cards were valued (by Fleer) at $50 each.  They're also readily available on the Bay of E for under $100 each.  Not too bad for a HOFer.

One last thing and here's where I'm going to get a bit preachy.  Tony died of Salivary Gland Cancer, which he contracted from years of chewing tobacco use.  I've had a few friends in the past chew tobacco, and I've never understood the habit.  Really.  It's disgusting to the Nth degree.  And it's dangerous.  It's high time that MLB took a hard-core stand, rather than the still tacit appeasement that they currently have.  Then again that would have the MLB take a stand on SOMETHING and we all know that under Bud Selig they don't stand for anything.