Baseball Cards

On a complete and total whim, I’ve recently become interested in collecting baseball cards again. When I was growing up, comic books were my collection of choice and I amassed a good 1000+ collection of them, mostly small imprints and independent labels like Image and Dark Horse with the occasional run of X-Men sprinkled in for good measure. I actually have a few rather rare comics, a couple variant covers, a couple signed comics, and lots and lots of “Issue #1” of dozens of titles. I pretty much have everything Jim Lee did between 1990-2000.

Baseball cards were something I also collected, but just in the periphery of my free time. My father, the year I was born, decided it was a good idea to purchase the entire factory set of Topps cards from that year. That was a tradition he kept up for a number of years until I was able to continue it myself. I believe I have 1980-1990 factory sets from Topps somewhere in my closet. That was about as deep as my collection got. Topps was for the sets and then I’d grab random packs, usually of Upper Deck, whenever I found them.

I gave up on both collections mid-high school and never really looked back. Money was tight and hobbies are the first things to go whenever that happens.

Having talked with my friend Sam at length about baseball and cards over mexican food one night, it seemed that the “sport” of card collecting had really been taken to the next level. Topps “purchased” the rights to the entirety of Major League Baseball and is now the only company allowed to make cards featuring teams and logos. The MLBPA signed a deal with Upper Deck to use player names, but names only, which make for some kinda boring cards. So Topps is really the only game in town.

That said, at least Topps offers a variety of cards. Actually it’s a over-variety of cards. They have, give or take, 20 different lines of cards. They range from a couple dollars a pack for normal “base set” cards to $150+ a PACK for things like “Topps Triple Threads” which feature actual pieces of cloth jersey or bat IN the card. They’ve also taken signatures to the next level. They get players to sign hundreds and hundreds of cards, some regular, some special cards, some really rare 1-0f-1 type stuff.

The collecting almost isn’t about the player cards any more. It’s more about the crazy extra stuff. Cards with pieces of stuff in them, cards with signatures, cards with holograms or special printing, cards with dye-cuts or minatures, etc, etc. Then there’s extra special lines like “Gypsy Queens” or “Allen & Ginter” which are throw back designs with special features or artwork. It was actually the Allen & Ginter set that caught my eye as something to collect.

The A&G cards feature retro designs, water-color-ish portraits and special signature inserts. A “hobby” box runs about $90 and features 12 packs and a guarantee of a certain amount of the aforementioned “cool stuff”. That’s right in my wheel-house.

So, I decided to take the plunge. My goal is to collect just basic player card sets, of just the Red Sox, for 2004 through the current year and beyond. If I happen to run across some of the cooler cards along the way I’ll pick them up, but I’d be happy with just the commons at the moment. I just received my first set off an ebay purchase. The entire 2010 Red Sox team set of A&G cards.

I like’em 🙂


GeekTool FlipClock

Being a big fan of desktop customization in general, and a self-proclaimed Photoshop wizard, it was really only a matter of time before I started making things for GeekTool, the roll your own Mac info widget thingy. I’ve been using GeekTool for probably a year or so now, mostly on my desktop at work. It’s a handy way to keep track of the weather, the time, the day of the week, etc. The “time” was always kinda basic and bland. It’s really just a text display and unless you have a ton of fonts, there’s really not much in the way of customizing you can do to it. And the “minimalistic text” thing gets kinda boring after a while. So, since it’s good to flex the creative juices every once in a while, and since I had just finished creating a set of Photoshop Styles for another project, I figured I may as well used them. So, I present to you, FlipClock for GeekTool.

It’s a fairly simple set up, but I thought maybe someone else might find it interesting. The clock is four pieces. The background layer, the background of the flip digits, a script to grab the time, then the “bar” graphic overlay on top. The font I’m using is regular old Helvetica since it’s spacing is consistent, but it should work equally well with other equidistant spaced fonts.

In GeekTool, just make a layer sandwhich. First, and an image layer with the background. Then a second image layer with the digit background. Then the included time script. Then the bar image on top.

Also available on the downloads page.

Enjoy. 🙂

PS: I do realize there are multiple widgets, scripts, programs, etc for displaying a “flip clock”, as well as at least one other for GeekTool. There’s nothing wrong with those others, I just like mine better.

Acceptable Forms of Currency

Having done a quick photographic favor for a friend, they felt the need to repay me. I had told them that actual money was out of the question and that I wouldn’t accept it. I had helped out a friend and that was good enough for me. They felt the need to repay my kindness in Single Malts. This I find to be a completely acceptable form of currency. So, all future clients take note: Scotch, single malt and over 15 years old, is reasonable payment for services rendered. That is all.

PS: In case you’re interested in the Scotch itself, it’s a Glen Moray, 16yr. There’s a pretty accurate review on DrinkHacker, who gives it an A-. They’re also correct in that it’s not widely available in the US. Personal review once I crack it open 🙂

Updated Portfolio

I had already mentioned this to a few people, but I just completed an update to my portfolio and photography website It had been a little while since I added any new work and I hadn’t updated the design of the site for a while and it just felt like the right time to do both. I had actually done quite a bit of new freelance work since I had last updated it as well, so all that got added. There’s a couple projects I can’t add yet that are pretty cool but still in production. The new site, using the custom post types in WordPress should make it considerably easier to update going forward. So, yeah. Check it out, let me know what you think, take a look at the new work, all that good stuff. Enjoy.

E3 Disappointments

With E3 still in full swing this week, I’m conflicted about calling it so early, but unless someone unveils something huge in the next 24hrs, I’m going to call this one of the most disappointing E3’s in recent memory.

Since it’s the closest to my wheelhouse, I’m going to start with Microsoft. Right off the bat I was completely floored by the amount of Kinect bullshit being peddled during the keynote. Let me be clear, the keynote speech, at 11:30 on a Monday morning, it not for casual gamers. Your Mom is not sitting at home waiting to hear about the next Dance Revolution game, I promise. No, that keynote is for the media and the hard core fans. The most hard of the core. Every single fucking game, whether it needed it or not, now includes some form of asinine Kinect integration. I will not play Ghost Recon by waving my hands around like a dumbass. I will not play Mass Effect by talking to it. I will not make big giant air circles to cast spells in Fable. There is ZERO desire in my gaming heart to do any of those things. I can’t believe that Microsoft is so completely ignoring it’s base.

Let’s look at it by the numbers, and just to show that I’m not making these up, you can check both the VGCharts and ESA for these. On estimate, worldwide, in this console generation, there have been 190 million units sold. 86 million Wii, 56 million 360’s and 50 million PS3s. That’s a fact. Also a fact is that in an ESA survey, 42% of gamers own 2 or more consoles. Seeing at how the Wii nearly doubles the sales of the other two, it’s a safe bet to assume that most people own either a PS3 OR a 360 AND a Wii. That means that half the “hardcore base” already has a device that does motion. Add to that the fact that Microsoft has sold 10 million Kinect devices (stand alones and bundles) and you get slightly less than 1/5 of the Xbox community embracing the technology. That’s 20%. That leaves 80% of the market filled with people who already own a system AND don’t want to jump around the living room like ADHD sufferers without their meds. As far as I can tell, that 80% just got completely fucking ignored this week.

Also aggravating is that most “Kinect support” fells tacked on and pointless. Why on earth do I need a Kinect to do voice recognition in Mass Effect 3? Doesn’t the console already come with a headset? If there’s no motion being captured, why is Kinect a requirement? Isn’t it just software at that point? Also, why make a menu system for Ghost Recon that takes LONGER to select a gun from than just using the controller. It would give me tennis elbow just to customize my weapons. And adding in the feature to tell the game to “randomize” my gun choice? What the hell? I’m in a menu, SELECTING a gun. If I wanted to randomly select one, I wouldn’t be in a fucking menu in the first place! The worst example is Fable, a series I’ve now completely given up on. I finished the first two, struggled half way through the third and I have no desire to play the fourth. With the nature of that game and the number of enemies that spawn in dungeons (because, according to Lionhead studios, quantity of enemies clearly equals quality), you’d have to endure full-on gymnastic routines just to get to the next village if you played it with the Kinect. Drawing huge circle in the air and “throwing” spells is the fastest way to get me to turn the game off, or to have Tommy John surgery, either one. Lastly, show me ONE hardcore football guy that’s going to sit in his living room, with his guy friends, and take fake snaps of the football while everyone watches. Not. Going. To. Happen.

Thank goodness Call of Duty and Battlefield 3 have stayed true to their roots. If I had to hold my hands in a mock steering wheel position to drive a tank I would have gone mental. A couple other titles did squeak into the corner of my periphery, and not from the MS keynote either. EA released a new game play trailer for SSX which looks ridiculously perfect. Also Overstrike from Insomniac looks promising, although I would have liked to see some gameplay footage. Mass Effect 3 is still in the running for a quality release, despite a poor voice acting bullshit audition on stage. I can’t wait to play the game… with my microphone unplugged.

Everything else looks completely bland and uninteresting, including Gears of War 3 which managed, somehow, to make me really not give a crap. Minecraft for the 360 is quite possibly the biggest sell-out I’ve ever seen, the Star Wars demo was so terrible even the 40yr old virgins were unimpressed, Tomb Raider was nothing but heavy breathing and claustrophobia, Fable was incredibly weak and Halo is now officially a cash grab. The entire thing was a weak attempt to either woo a demographic that wasn’t watching or a desperate attempt to win over the hardcore demographic that might have been on the fence about Kinect. It really did neither.

The Nintendo presentation was equally troublesome. After all these years, after all the wonderful childhood memories, the best they can come up with is a controller the size of a iPad and the 134th version of the same Legend of Zelda game. Oh, but wait, now you can play buy MarioKart, again, for the other new console your kids are going to make you buy. Because, let’s face it, as an adult, there’s really only so much Mario one person can play. It’s really just gotten sad at this point. Seriously, all Nintendo is offering and a terribly named (even worse logo’ed) console that they should have made 3 years ago, 12 Zelda titles, Mario, Luigi, MarioKart, Smash Brothers and Star Fox. Their line up hasn’t changed since 1999. Even the games they “teased” were Mario Party, Ninja Gaiden and Kirby. Everything else isn’t a console exclusive. Dirt, Ghost Recon, Tekken, Batman.

I’m glad they actually solidified the release of non-kid games for their console, but the fact that half their current audience already has a system that they prefer to play those games certainly won’t make them just ship. What’s my motivation for playing Batman on the LimpDick Wii:U instead of the Xbox? Or why would I play a weird downgraded Ghost Recon on the Nintendo instead of Xbox Live or PSN, where my friends already are? Also, can we talk about the name. Really? You followed up the console named for a penis with, literally, a logo that looks like a dick. No one in the marketing department thought this was a bad idea? Wow.

I hate to say it gamers, but we’ve got to start demanding better or else they’re going to keep getting away with this. Every time you hear someone say it’s “ground breaking” or “revolutionary” or “the next step/stage of gaming”, you have my full permission to call them on their bullshit. The only things that are revolutionary in gaming are brand new IPs, which we saw very few of, and major console launches which only happen once a decade. Until we get there, it’s the same old crap, just with higher numbers on the boxes.

Matt out