Jack Bruce – Rockpalast: The 50th Birthday Concerts (2014)

Jack Bruce Rockpalast 50th Birthday Concerts DVDJack Bruce
Rockpalast: The 50th Birthday Concerts
Made In Germany Music, 2014
2 discs, 235 minutes

Recorded in November, 1993, this two-disc set features highlights from a two-night set at the E-Werk in Cologne. Joined on stage by his Cream bandmate Ginger Baker for the majority of the sets, the legendary bass player Jack Bruce also welcomed musicians Dick Heckstall-Smith, Clem Clempson, Bernie Worrell, and Simon Phillips. Jack Bruce fans will appreciate the whole concert, encompassing his entire career.

The performance starts out very mellow, white Bruce alone on stage playing a classic piece before moving to the piano for “FM.” Cream fans will be most interesting in the final five songs on the second disc, featuring a blistering set of five classics from the power trio with the late and criminally underrated guitarist Gary Moore stepping in for Eric Clapton in a precursor to the 1994 studio album Around the Next Dream. Moore also appears with Bruce and drummer Simon Phillips on “Life On Earth,” a cut from the 1981 B.L.T. record, a collaboration between Bruce, Bill Lordan, and Robin Trower. Those six performances alone make this collection well worth the purchase.

Jack Bruce Rockpalast: The 50th Birthday Concerts is available in three different versions. The “Special Edition” is three DVDs with a bonus CD; the “DVD Edition” (which is what I received) is a two-DVD boxset; the “Extended Edition” is the two-DVD boxset with an additional CD in CD-Digi-Format.

1. Improvisation ON Minuet No. 1
2. FM
3. Can You Follow?
4. Running Thro’ Our Hearts
5. Childsong
6. The Tube
7. Over The Cliff
8. Statues
9. First Time I Met The Blues
10. Smiles & Grins
11. Bird Alone
12. Neighbor, Neighbor
13. Born Under a Bad Sign
14. Boston Ball Game 1967
15. Ships In The Night
16. Willpower
17. Never Tell Your Mother She’s Out of Tune
18. Theme From an Imaginary Western
19. Golden Days

1. As You Said
2. Rope Ladder To The Moon
3. Life On Earth
4. Simon Phillips Drum Solo
5. NSU
6. Sitting On The Top Of The World
7. Politician
8. White Room
9. Sunshine Of Your Love
10. Blues You Can’t Lose
11. Life On Earth (featuring Gary Moore)
12. NSU (featuring Gary Moore)
13. Sitting On The Top Of The World (featuring Gary Moore)
14. Politician (featuring Gary Moore)
15. Spoonful (featuring Gary Moore)
16. White Room (featuring Gary Moore)

Learn more about Made In Germany Music.

Purchase Jack Bruce – Rockpalast: The 50th Birthday Concerts : DVD Edition / Special Edition

#Treatyourself: 365 Ways To Be Happy Every Day by Gail Russell (2014)

#Treatyourself: 365 Ways To Be Happy Every Day
by Gail Russell
Adams Media, 2014
208 pages

The Bible says, “Do unto others and you would have them do unto you.” While Gail Adams does not want you to forget doing unto others, she believes that you should treat yourself; don’t wait for others to do unto you. She has come up with 365 ways to make yourself happy, from fairly innocent tasks to a few more risque suggestions.

This is definitely a book designed more for women. As a man, I found myself rolling my eyes at several of the suggestions, but I can certainly see how a female might think these are grand ideas and want to implement them. Many are common sense ideas, such as visiting the zoo, having a board game party, or decorating for the holidays, while others are a little bizarre (to my male mind), such as buying a star or taking a pole dancing class. Readers can take these seeds of ideas and find something that is more up their alley, though, even if they don’t want to take a tour of a factory.

Learn more about Adams Media.

Purchase #Treatyourself: 365 Ways to Be Happy Every Day by Gail Russell.

Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors & Literary Agents (2014)

Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Publishers, Editors & Literary Agents

Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors & Literary Agents
by Jeff Herman
New World Library, 2014
640 pages

The process of writing may end when you type “the end,” but if you want to share that work with the world there is much more to the process. Industry insider Jeff Herman provides authors with information to help them get a foot in the door, tips to get representation from agents and to get their hard work in the hands of publishers.

The first section deals with advice for writers, including query letters, book proposals,and the proper usage of social media. Then comes the listings, beginning with the publishers. Included are the “Big 5” conglomerates, independent presses, university presses, and Canadian publishers. The largest section of the book—over 300 pages—is dedicated to literary agents, while independent editors are examined and listed in the final section.

Aspiring authors have been using Herman’s Guide since 1990, and likely will for years to come. It is one of the best tools a writer has at his disposal once he is ready to begin contacting those in the business.

Learn more about New World Library.

Purchase Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors and Literary Agents: Who They Are, What They Want, How to Win Them Over.

Random Awesomeness (part 178)

Random Awesomeness

Purchase Idina Menzel – Holiday Wishes.

Star Wars Art: Posters (2014)

Star Wars Art Posters

Star Wars Art: Posters
Abrams, 2014
180 pages

Few pop culture institutions have inspired as much creativity as George Lucas’ Star Wars. The universe is so expansive with diverse lifeforms, artists could spend years creating new paintings to depict them all. Star Wars Art: Posters features a collection of artwork from the very beginning through today. Concept artwork, promotional pieces, paintings for novelizations are some of the many highlights found within the pages of this 10.5 x 12.5 book.

If you are fanatical about Star Wars artwork, you will certainly recognize some of the artists’ names, such as Tom Jung, Roger Kastel, and Drew Struzan. Even if you are not familiar with those wielding their paintbrushes, you will be familiar with their stunning work, presented for the most part without logos. There are also several modern pieces featured, including Mondo and Acme posters by Tyler Stout, Steve Thomas, Mark Daniels and Mark Steele.

Star Wars Art: Posters is truly a fantastic book, covering the cinematic universe from A New Hope through Revenge of the Sith, television programs such as The Battle for Endor and Clone Wars, and video games like Knights of the Old Republic and The Force Unleashed.

If you need a last-minute Christmas gift for a Star Wars fan, you can’t go wrong here.

Learn more about Abrams.

Purchase Star Wars Art: Posters.

Singing To A Bulldog by Anson Williams (2014)

Anson Williams memoir Singing to a Bulldog

Singing To A Bulldog
by Anson Williams
Reader’s Digest, 2014
176 pages

One of my favorite television shows as a child was Happy Days, so it was with great interest that I began reading Anson Williams’ memoir Singing To A Bulldog. Williams takes his readers through thirty life lessons taught to him by a co-worker at Leonard’s Department Store when he was only fifteen years old. Willie Turner was his name; each chapter begins with words that the uneducated janitor spoke to Williams, words that stuck with the young man who became Potsie Weber on the popular sitcom, words that encouraged him to stretch himself and become much more than just Potsie.

This is not a tell-all autobiography. Williams avoids any controversial stories that would embarrass Ron Howard, Henry Winkler, or his other co-stars, and it was a truly interesting read because of it. He had the utmost respect for his fellow actors, and speaks highly of them as he recounts his journey. Singing To A Bulldog is not a straight autobiography, but a collection of memories and events designed to teach lessons. Most chapters are only four or five pages long, so it makes for a quick read, and in many cases the anecdotes can be reworded and used as illustrations in your own writing or speeches.

Williams made the most of his opportunities, humbly giving credit to those who helped him along the way, from Willie Turner to Garry Marshall to Sammy Davis, Jr., Aaron Spelling to Dolly Parton to Shailene Woodley. Happy Days fans will get a kick out of Williams’ memories of getting the part of Potsie Weber, while all readers can learn from Williams’ life experiences in Hollywood that taught him to be a better person.

Learn more about Reader’s Digest Books.

Purchase Singing to a Bulldog by Anson Williams.

When is the last time this guy appeared in a baseball card set?

Paul Casanova

The 2015 TWJ pre-season baseball card set is coming January 1. Be sure to watch TWJ cards on tumblr for a new card or two every day between the first of the year and the first of the season. Retired stars, Hall of Famers, and a handful of current players will be featured in a three-month frenzy of virtual “fun cards!”

R.I.P. Sy Berger

(July 12, 1923 – December 14, 2014)

Sy Berger

Sy Berger worked for Topps for fifty years and co-designed the 1952 Topps baseball card set at his kitchen table with Woody Gelman.

The Edgar Martinez Award

Don Baylor 1978 Topps card

While doing some research this morning, I noticed on Don Baylor‘s Baseball-Reference.com page that he had won the “Edgar Martinez Award” in 1985 and 1986. I found this interesting, since Martinez did not make his big league debut until September 12, 1987. What Baylor actually won in 1985 and 1986 was the “Designated Hitter of the Year” Award. It was instituted in 1973 and renamed in 2004 for Martinez, who is considered by many to be the greatest DH of all-time.

Martinez appears on the BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot for the sixth time this year. Results will be announced in January, but I do not expect him to improve from the 25.2% he received last year. I’m one of those guys who simply does not see the case for Edgar Martinez. He was a very good hitter, but that’s about it. His WAR total definitely puts him in the Hall of Fame conversation, but there is so much more to consider. He failed to reached any of the “magic number” milestones in counting stats, and was never really a dominant player in the eyes of the media. Like many others before him, and many other since, he was a very good player. Hall worthy? Not in my eyes.

Fun Cards Submissions: 1976 Topps Mat Latos, Alfredo Simon, and 1961 Baseball Scoops new Reds

Mat Latos traded to the Marlins

Alfredo Simon traded to the Tigers

minor league acquisitions

Thursday was an active day in baseball with several high-profile players changing teams, including Matt Kemp and Yoenis Cespedes. Unfortunately, the Cincinnati Reds did not land either of those sluggers to fill the emptiness that is left field. Despite failing to address the biggest need on the team, Walt Jocketty traded starting pitchers Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon, picking up four youngsters from the Miami Marlins and Detroit Tigers in exchange.

Eugenio Suarez, Jonathon Crawford, Anthony DeSclafani, Chad Wallach are the newest members of the Reds organization. Crawford was Detroit’s first-round draft pick in 2013 and posted a 2.85 ERA in 23 starts for the West Michigan Whitecaps in 2014. Wallach has baseball in his blood; his father is Tim Wallach, the five-time All-Star third baseman.

Thanks to TWJ contributor Patrick for whipping up these awesome customs. Hopefully the Reds continue to wheel and deal without “going all in” by sending Johnny Cueto packing.

R.I.P. Ken Weatherwax

(September 29, 1955 – December 7, 2014)

Ken Weatherwax

“Puggsley” from the original The Addams Family television show passed away Sunday from a heart attack. He was 59 years old.

TWJ contributor Patrick sent over this “In Memoriam” card in the style of 1977 Topps “Turn Back the Clock” cards.

Seven years

I got a notification from WordPress today…

7 year anniversary

It’s hard to believe I have been doing this for seven years. I appreciate every single reader, especially those who have interacted through e-mails and comments on the site. I have made some very good friends, most of whom I have never even met, but I know we could sit down and have a fun and friendly conversation together if the opportunity came.

I hope you have enjoyed all the baseball, horror, book, music, and movie talk over the past seven years, and I hope to continue for many more.

Random Awesomeness (part 177)

Random Awesomeness

Purchase Social Distortion – White Light, White Heat, White Trash.

Robin Williams: When the Laughter Stops by Emily Herbert (2014)

Robin Williams biography

Robin Williams: When the Laughter Stops
by Emily Herbert
John Blake Publishing, 2014
244 pages

The tragedy of Robin Williams’ demise profoundly affected his fans, both here in the United States and abroad. Very few people knew of his struggles with depression, and news of his suicide opened many eyes. A man that was able to make so many laugh, but he was unable to find peace for himself.

Author Emily Herbert examines the comedian’s life in Robin Williams: When the Laugher Stops, bringing out the obstacles Williams faced throughout his life. Starting with his early encounters with bullies, and his attempts to gain his mother’s love and approval through his comedic personality, Herbert paints the picture of a tortured soul who many times used his comedy to mask his pain. Williams’ school days are briefly recounted, including his friendship with Christopher Reeve at The Juilliard School. Once Mork & Mindy comes around, Herbert relies heavily on reviews and interviews in publications to tell the story. Many of the actor’s films are treated similarly, showing both the critical and commercial response to his big screen career.

Herbert does not go into great depth on any particular aspect of Williams’ life, but points out several things that played a part in his life and ultimately his death. From the shock of overnight success and the disappointment of professional failures, to personal problems with drugs and divorce and the loss of friends such as John Belushi and Reeve, Williams had many things working against him. But there are many things his fans can remember him for as well, from his charity work to the comedic legacy he left behind on film.

This posthumous biography is written with his death on the writer’s and readers’ minds, and some may find it harder to read than a standard biography. Still, there is not a lot out there in printed form at the moment, and Robin Williams: When the Laughter Stops is a good overview of his career until a fuller history of the man’s life and work is made available.

Learn more about John Blake Publishing.

Purchase Robin Williams: When the Laughter Stops by Emily Herbert.

Fun Cards Submissions: 1974 Topps “Traded” Chris Heisey and Matt Magill



The Dodgers needed a pinch-hitter/sixth-string outfielder, and the Reds needed another pitcher that likes to allow the other team to score (6.51 ERA in six major league starts). Matt Magill was roughed up in the bigs, but he didn’t fare much better in the minors, posting a 5.21 ERA at AAA Albuquerque. Of course, Chris Heisey‘s .222 batting average isn’t much to get excited about either, regardless of how nice a guy he is.

TWJ contributor Patrick e-mailed these 1974 Topps “Traded” cards to me last night to post on the blog today. They look great, though I would like to learn how to airbrush the logos rather than Photoshop to make it more faithful to the original style. They are great cards though, and I wish Heisey the best of luck in Los Angeles.

Experiencing Led Zeppelin: A Listener’s Companion by Gregg Akkerman (2014)

Experiencing Led Zeppelin

Experiencing Led Zeppelin: A Listener’s Companion
by Gregg Akkerman
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2014
200 pages

I can recall when I first discovered Led Zeppelin. I don’t remember which song (probably “Stairway to Heaven”), but I do remember being floored by the power and grace of the music. It was the early 1990s, and in short order I possessed all the Zeppelin albums and listened to them time and time again, along with other new-to-me discoveries Jimi Hendrix and The Doors. Over time, I have expanded my musical taste more and more, but Led Zeppelin is one of those timeless groups that will always be central to my love for rock and roll.

Author Gregg Akkerman takes readers on a journey through Led Zeppelin’s studio recordings in Experiencing Led Zeppelin: A Listener’s Companion, breaking down each record song-by-song, with additional in-depth looks at two to three songs per album. His description of Led Zeppelin’s early live performances of “Stairway to Heaven” in eerie, and I could feel myself being transported back to 1971 to witness the genesis of what would become the greatest rock song of all-time. You may not always agree with Akkerman’s assessments of particular songs, but he gives a fair amount of ink to each. Led Zeppelin fans new and old will love this book.

Learn more about Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Purchase Experiencing Led Zeppelin: A Listener’s Companion by Gregg Akkerman.

Farewell, Chris Heisey and Logan Ondrusek

The Reds traded outfielder Chris Heisey to the Dodgers last night for pitcher Matt Magill, and non-tendered pitchers Logan Ondrusek and Curtis Partch. I always liked Heisey and Ondrusek, and hope they find success elsewhere in the majors. Below are some of the “fun cards” I created for them over the years.







Stuff You Should Know About Stuff by Tripp Crosby & Tyler Stanton (2014)

Stuff You Should Know About Stuff

Stuff You Should Know About Stuff
by Tripp Crosby & Tyler Stanton
BenBella Books, 2014
232 pages

Let’s face it, we have all been in situations that we just don’t know how to act. Whether it’s in the movie theater, a restaurant, an airplane, or the public restroom, sometimes we just don’t know what we should do. Fortunately, Tripp & Tyler take care of almost every situation you could possibly find yourself in and more in Stuff You Should Know About Stuff: How To Properly Behave in Certain Situations. Going to the gym? Tripp & Tyler have you covered. Planning to attend a concert? Read Tripp & Tyler’s short section on “Concert Etiquette.”

The authors also give their humorous take on various communication issues, from handling dropped calls to e-mail no-no’s to awkward silences, as well as situations involving friends (helping someone move) and more than friends (ruining Valentine’s Day), and some other random stuff that they just couldn’t categorize (a poem about shampoo is among these).

This is definitely a comedy book designed for men. Not quite toilet humor, but somewhat risque at times. Appropriate for more mature audiences, mainly because most of the jokes would be over the head of younger readers.

Learn more about BenBella Books.

Purchase Stuff You Should Know About Stuff by Tripp Crosby & Tyler Stanton.

How AMC spoiled Sunday night’s The Walking Dead…and what fans could have done to avoid it

The Walking Dead RIP Beth

The above image appeared on The Walking Dead‘s Facebook feed almost immediately after the bullet when through Beth’s brain Sunday night. The image was a major spoiler for everyone who had not yet seen the episode (including everyone on the West Coast who “like” The Walking Dead), because Facebook is so addictive it was impossible to just log off for a few hours until the episode was over.

“Don’t tell me what happens tonight! I didn’t watch it yet!” That’s a frequent status update. I understand that some people have other obligations during the initial airing, but the easy solution to avoid spoilers is to stay away from Facebook (or Twitter or whatever other social media site you use) until you have watched the episode. And if you are unable to do that, knowing that you will see spoilers from friends (and sometimes even the network itself), then you really have no one to blame but yourself.

I decided to put together a little list of things you could have been doing instead of scrolling through Facebook while you were waiting to watch the episode.


  • Read a book. Just take the “Face” away from that other thing you were reading. There are tons of books online, or you could go the old-fashioned route and actually get one made out of dead trees.
  • Write. Make yourself the author of your own post-apocalyptic, zombie-infested world that is ten times better than The Walking Dead. Don’t laugh. Someone will do it someday. Might as well be you.
  • Exercise. Get on the treadmill and work up your running speed to escape those faster-than-Romero-zombies zombies. Lift some weights so you can rip their skulls off and use them as weapons, Daryl Dixon-style.
  • Watch Netflix or a DVD. If you can’t watch the current episode because you don’t have cable or you live in a different time zone, fire up Netflix or the DVD player (do they still make those things?) and watch your favorite movie.
  • Fix a new meal. Find an interesting recipe online, go buy the ingredients and whip it up; or use Supercook to find one using ingredients you already have in the house. You might find a new favorite food for yourself or the minions in your own little universe.
  • Write a letter to an old friend. Not an e-mail. Not a Facebook message. An actual letter, with pen and paper. Don’t you love getting something in the mail besides bills? Other people do, too.
  • Clean your house. When is the last time you vacuumed?
  • Play a game with your kids. Battleship or Operation or Fluxx<img src="https://ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=thewrisjou0b-20&l=ur2&o=1&quot; width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" / or Monopoly Deal, or even The Walking Dead board game.
  • Play Solitaire. Does’t that still come free on every computer? Or you could even pull out an actual deck of 52 cards and play it the way we played it before every home was infested with eleven personal computers.
  • Call your mom. She’d love to sit and chat for a few hours. It’s been forever since you called.

So there you have it. Things you can do instead of getting on Facebook…whether it is to avoid spoilers or just because you are way too addicted.

I didn’t win NaNoWriMo

I’m not beating myself up about it, but I am a little disappointed that I did not even come close to winning National Novel Writing Month. I simply could not find the words to tell my story. I think I may need to put this one on the back…back…way back burner and let it simmer while I tackle other projects.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t do any writing in November. I joined a writing group called The Iron Writer and promptly completed a flash fiction challenge. The title of my story is “Red & White Stripes,” and it (along with three other authors’ entries) can be read at this link.

The Iron Writer

Anyone who is interested in joining The Iron Writer can visit this page for more information.


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