Author Archives: JT

I’m still here…kinda

Thanks to those who have asked why I haven’t been posting a whole lot lately. It’s been busy on the personal life front, as well as the actually doing something and not just sitting around front, and between those two things I haven’t taken much time to update the blog. I still have a few books in queue to review, but have been focused a bit more on my own novel lately. I’m hoping to have something finished on that front by the end of the year, and will update you along the way as I put more pages behind me.


On the personal front, my family took a devastating hit last Monday. Our dog Hans, who had been with us for about two years, had to be put down. He was always a “mean” dog, but loved the four of us and was always on his best behavior with us. But during the last week or so of his life, he had started to turn and was growling and baring his teeth at the family. My wife took him to the vet, and they were going to try to find a rescue for him, but the vet determined that there was something medically wrong with his brain. We miss him terribly, and I still get choked up when I think of the little guy. His cage still sits in the living room, while the boys have taken some of his toys to their rooms.

Back to the actually doing something and not just sitting around front, my college buddy Joe contacted me over the weekend to remind me that our band’s 20th anniversary is coming up next year. We started kicking around the idea of getting Roach together to jam and maybe even gig, and that set me on a mission to finally upload some of the footage from our only performance, dated November 4, 1995. It’s more than rough around the edges, but man did we ever have fun. I miss Joe (guitar), Scott (bass guitar), and Kip (drums), as well as our first “drummer” Ben (who played “drums” on pots and pans). It’s been too long, boys.

Here is one of the songs we played, an original called “Just Like Betsy.” I could tell you that we were nervous, and that would be the truth. I could tell you that we usually sounded better, and that would be a lie. Take it for what it is, a bunch of college kids having fun with no real aspirations for stardom…

Is there anything wrong with the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge?

No doubt you have seen at least a few videos of people getting drenched in ice-cold water. Celebrities, including athletes, have participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge. And I took a bucket of water over my head yesterday as well. But I haven’t donated any money yet, because I’m not sure where I’m sending it. Click here to find out why.

Randy Bachman – Vinyl Tap Tour: Every Song Tells A Story (2014)

Randy Bachman Vinyl Tap Tour DVD review

Randy Bachman
Vinyl Tap Tour: Every Song Tells A Story
Independent Label Services Group, 2014
85 minutes (DVD), 35 minutes (CD)

Randy Bachman wrote or co-wrote some of the greatest rock songs ever written. As a member of the vastly under-appreciated Guess Who, he honed his songwriting skills with “These Eyes,” “No Sugar Tonight,” and “American Woman.” Then he teamed up with C.F. Turner to write and record a number of other classics, the most notable being “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet” and “Takin’ Care of Business.” On the Vinyl Tap Tour: Every Song Tells A Story DVD, the artist recounts stories behind each song and the bands that recorded them.

For instance, “American Woman” is the result of an impromptu jam during a live performance in which Bachman was changing the strings on his guitar. He called the rest of the band back to the stage as he created the riff on the spot, and the song went on to become the group’s most legendary number. “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet” was never meant to be heard by anyone except Bachman’s brother, but the record company saw enough value in it to release the song as a single, and it went on to be one of Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s most enduring tracks.

The DVD is filled with wonderful stories about Bachman’s colorful career, so much so that the talking outweighs the music. The fan who just wants to hear the songs, however, can turn to the bonus CD included in the set and cut about fifty minutes off his listening time. Unfortunately, the group only plays one verse of some of the songs, so you won’t hear a full rendition of “No Sugar Tonight” or “Roll On Down The Highway” on either the DVD or the CD.

Performance-wise, Bachman and his band (Marc LaFrance, Brent Howard Knudsen, and Mick Dalla-Vee) are top-notch, staying faithful to the originals. This is a great DVD, especially for fans of the “storyteller” format.

1.Prairie Town
2.Shakin’ All Over
3.These Eyes
5.No Sugar Tonight
6.No Time
7.American Woman
8.Roll On Down The Highway
9.Let It Ride
10.You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet
11.Takin’ Care Of Business
12.Hey You
14.Looking Out For #1

Learn more about Independent Label Services Group.

Learn more about Randy Bachman.

Purchase Randy Bachman – Vinyl Tap Tour: Every Song Tells A Story.

2015 Topps baseball card design revealed!

2015 Topps baseball

First impression…looks more like one of the high-end products rather than base. Maybe the design will grow on me, but I’m not crazy about it at this moment. Having them in hand (February 4) may change my mind. Plus I haven’t seen any images of any Reds players yet.

I am still in shock

Shazbot Mork and Mindy Robin Williams RIP

I’m having a difficult time processing what happened to Robin Williams. I doubt I will ever understand what would drive a person to do what he did, to give up and to think there was no better solution.

Some of the characters he played made people laugh, others made people think. I grew up watching Mork & Mindy, which is among my five favorite television show of all-time (along with Happy Days, Dukes of Hazzard, Smallville, and He-Man). He will always be Mork from Ork first and foremost in my mind.

R.I.P. Robin Williams

(July 21, 1951 – August 11, 2014)

Robin Williams

I was absolutely devastated by the news that comedian extraordinaire Robin Williams was found dead today at his home. The man made so many people laugh in Mork & Mindy, Good Morning Vietnam, Jack, and Flubber, and was the voice of the Genie in Disney’s Aladdin. He also demonstrated his serious acting skills in Good Will Hunting, One Hour Photo, and Dead Poets Society, one of my all-time favorites. He was larger than life, and will be remembered as one of Hollywood’s most beloved actors.


Did they? I think so. Sixx:A.M. has grown with each release, and James Michael‘s voice gets stronger and stronger. Sixx:A.M. features Nikki Sixx of Mötley Crüe on bass and DJ Ashba of Guns N’ Roses on guitar.

Who says designated hitters are useless on the field?

He’s certainly not the first non-pitcher to pitch in a big league contest, and most likely will not be the last. But seeing Adam Dunn take the pitcher’s mound on Tuesday night was nothing short of fantastic. I remember watching Doug Dascenzo on WGN pitch for the Cubs when the game was out-of-reach (four different times, actually!), and recall Reds shortstop Davey Concepcion tossing a few pitches in a 1988 game. And who can forget Jose Canseco’s “masterful” performance 60 feet and 6 inches away from where he made a name for himself?

Dunn’s official pitching record is 1 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 1 ER. Not a terrible outing for a designated hitter.

Congratulations, Adam Dunn, and thanks for the entertainment.

Special card, unnumbered, Adam Dunn, “THE PITCHER.”

See more original baseball cards at TWJ cards on tumblr.

A Pete Rose error card, discovered almost 40 years after the fact

1976 Pete Rose Kelloggs

The best website dedicated to Pete Rose collectibles just announced that there is a 38-year old variation on Pete Rose’s 1976 Kellogg’s card! On the error version, Rose’s team is spelled “Cinncinnati” on the 1975 stat line, but was later corrected to reflect the “Cincinnati” spelling. This is in addition to 11 other card variations (including Tom Seaver and Vida Blue) listed on the KeyMan Collectibles website.

1976 Pete  Rose Kelloggs

I checked the recent eBay auctions, and one of the most recent “Buy It Now” listings was the error card. No word yet on how scarce the error card is, but Pete Rose Memorabilia believes it was “a first run error fixed quickly.”

You know what this means, kids. It’s time to dig out those 1970s binders and check your Pete Rose Kellogg’s card to see if you have the error or corrected version, and wait for the news to drive up prices in the marketplace!

R.I.P. Marilyn Burns

(d. August 5, 2014)

Best known for her role as Sally in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, actress Marilyn Burns passed away Tuesday at the age of 65.

R.I.P. Jake Hooker

(May 3, 1952[1] – August 4, 2014)

Guitarist for the Arrows and co-writer of “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll,” a song popularly covered by Joan Jett, Jake Hooker passed away on Monday.

Doctor Who: A Special 12-Month 2015 Calendar

Doctor Who A Special 12 Month 2015 Calendar

We, as mere mortals without access to a TARDIS, need something by which to keep track of what day of the month it is. We can’t just gallivant off to visit William Shakespeare or Vincent Van Gogh or the Face of Boe. We are stuck in the present time, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t have the Doctor with us. The Doctor Who Special 12-Month 2015 Calendar by Day Dream is perfect for any fan of the Time Lord, regardless of which Doctor is claimed as “my Doctor.” Thirteen incarnations of the Time Lord are featured here, beginning with William Hartnell in January and ending with Peter Capaldi in December; August features a double dose with Paul McGann and John Hurt. Daleks, Cybermen, Ood, and Weeping Angels also grace these pages, as well as one companion: Clara Oswald (portrayed by Jenna Coleman).

The spiral-bound calendar is made with linen paper for a sturdier product than normal paper calendars, and measures 13 inches by 15 inches. The actual calendar portion of each page is a very small 2 x 3.5 inches in the upper right hand corner, allowing the Doctor, his villain (or companion), and the TARDIS to be the star of the page. Perhaps not very practical for a planning calendar, as there is no white space to mark appointments or special occasions, but perfect for displaying one’s fanaticism for the BBC franchise. This would make an excellent gift for any Whovian (and it’s never too early to start thinking about Christmas).

Purchase Doctor Who: A Special 12-Month 2015 Calendar by Day Dream.

Random Awesomeness (part 168)

Random Awesomeness

Purchase David Lee Roth (with guitarist John 5) – DLR Band.

R.I.P. Pete Van Wieren

(October 7, 1944 – August 2, 2014)

Pete Van Wieren Braves Broadcaster

A Braves broadcaster for over thirty years, known nationwide thanks to TBS television coverage, Pete Van Wieren has passed away from complications of lymphoma.

Creating Graphic Novels by Sarah Beach (2014)

Creating Graphic Novels

Creating Graphic Novels:
Adapting and Marketing Stories for a Multimillion-Dollar Industry

by Sarah Beach
Michael Wiese Productions, 2014
185 pages

From The Watchmen to The Walking Dead, graphic novels and comic books are all the rage in the modern age. Many successful movies either started out as a graphic novel, or have been adapted into the graphic novel form in order to expand the audience and increase revenue.

Author Sarah Beach attempts to teach her readers how to adapt one’s own screenplay into graphic novel form. Despite the size of this book, it is more of an overview than a step-by-step manual to guide the adaptation process. Many topics are covered, such as finding the right art team, social networking to promote the material, and signing a contract with a publisher. It is a good primer to get one started in the right direction if he is interested in going the graphic novel route.

Learn more about Michael Wiese Productions.

Purchase Creating Graphic Novels by Sarah Beach.

Inventing Baseball Heroes by Amber Roessner (2014)

Inventing Baseball Heroes

Inventing Baseball Heroes
by Amber Roessner
LSU Press, 2014
248 pages

In this age of immediate news, cutural icons do not seem to last very long. As soon as a negative report is published, it is picked up by countless news organizations and available on cell phones and computer screens instantaneously. A century ago, however, news traveled much slower, and the gatekeepers of information were careful with the information entrusted to them; not every scandalous details of an athlete’s private life was broadcast to the masses. It was in this era that Christy Mathewson and Ty Cobb became household names, thanks to sportswriters Grantland Rice, Ring Lardner, and others.

Author and former sportswriter Amber Roessner revisits that simpler time when news was crafted to shed the best possible light on the superstars of the baseball diamond, when Mathewson and Cobb were two of the biggest names, not only in baseball, but in all of America. “They told their readers that real men were expected to take daring risks while at the same time behaving as proper gentlemen.” She examines how the reporters were encouraged to promote the positive aspects of the game and its players to the public, traveling with the team on the team’s dime and socializing with the players on golf courses and vacations. Roessner’s work begins scholarly, but quickly turns conversational and anecdotal as she reveals the relationships between Mathewson, Cobb, and the sportswriters.

Inventing Baseball Heroes is an interesting book that will appeal more to fans of journalism, but also sheds light on how baseball became an American institution at the turn of the twentieth century.

Learn more about LSU Press.

Purchase Inventing Baseball Heroes by Amber Roessner.

Stars and Strikes: Baseball and America in the Bicentennial Summer of ’76 by Dan Epstein

Stars and Strikes Dan Epstein

Stars and Strikes: Baseball and America in the Bicentennial Summer of ’76
by Dan Epstein
Thomas Dunne Books, 2014
400 pages

America celebrated 200 years in 1976, and baseball, as America’s pastime, played a central role in the country’s celebration. Author Dan Epstein chronicles the ups and downs of the season and the personalities that kept baseball in the headlines all year long in Stars and Strikes. From unassuming rookies like Mark Fidrych to sulking superstars like Reggie Jackson, over-the-top owners like Ted Turner and Charlie Finley, baseball had it all in 1976. The Yankees are prominently featured in Epstein’s book, with the booming personalities of George Steinbrenner and Billy Martin making their mark throughout the season.

Each chapter shares its title with a popular song from the era, from artists such as Boston, Thin Lizzy, and Parliament. Epstein does a wonderful job of weaving the spirit of ’76 throughout the baseball narrative, including Rick Monday‘s finest play on the field in Los Angeles when he rescued the American flag from a would-be arsonist. Reliving the wacky (Chicago’s shorts) and the wonderful (Birdmania), Epstein covers it all starting in November 1975 through the Reds’ second straight championship and the escalating contracts following the 1976 season. Baseball historians will love Stars and Strikes.

Learn more about Thomas Dunne Books.

Purchase Stars and Strikes: Baseball and America in the Bicentennial Summer of ’76 by Dan Epstein.

R.I.P. Dick Wagner

(December 14, 1942 – July 30, 2014)

Guitarist and songwriter Dick Wagner, best known for his work with Alice Cooper, has passed away of respiratory failure. Wagner co-wrote six of the songs on Cooper’s classic 1975 album, Welcome To My Nightmare, including the title track, “Only Women Bleed,” and concert staple “Department of Youth.” Wagner also contributed guitar work to KISS’ Destroyer and Revenge albums.

Photoset: Gogol Bordello (July 29, 2014 @ Bogart’s, Cincinnati OH)

Gogol Bordello live in Cincinnati Ohio Bogarts July 29 2014

The gypsy punks from Manhattan, Gogol Bordello stopped by Bogart’s in Cincinnati, Ohio, Tuesday night to promote their latest album, Pura Vida Conspiracy. Eugene Hütz was in top form, entertaining the crowd with every chord he strummed and every word he sang. Violinst Sergey Ryabtsev as a joy to watch on the stage, and the newest member of the group, Pasha Newmer, relished his time on stage playing accordion.

The group played several cuts from the latest album, including “We Rise Again,” “Dig Deep Enough,” “Lost Innocent World,” and “Amen.” The movement on stage was non-stop, and the audience was in a frenzy throughout the show.

Gogol Bordello live in Cincinnati Ohio Bogarts July 29 2014

Want to see more photos from the Gogol Bordello show? Read the rest of this entry

Photoset: Man Man (July 29, 2014 @ Bogart’s, Cincinnati OH)

Man Man live at Bogarts in Cincinnati Ohio July 29 2014

Man Man from Philadelphia invaded Cincinnati Tuesday night, opening for Gogol Bordello at Bogart’s. A high-energy group led by singer/pianist Honus Honus, the band played a lively 45-minute set to get the crowd warmed up for the headliners. Honus Honus, Pow Pow, and the others looked like they were having a ball on the stage, helping to amp up the audience’s enthusiasm.

Man Man live at Bogarts in Cincinnati Ohio July 29 2014

See more photos of Man Man’s performance… Read the rest of this entry


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