Author Archives: JT

Close Encounters of the Fatal Kind by Nick Redfern (2014)

Close Encounters of the Fatal Kind book UFO alien flying saucer Nick Redfern

Close Encounters of the Fatal Kind
by Nick Redfern
New Page Books, 2014
224 pages

Books about aliens and UFOs and government conspiracies always make for entertaining reads, and Nick Redfern’s Close Encounters of the Fatal Kind is no different. Whether you count yourself among the believers of intelligent life on other planets or not, Redfern tells such detailed stories about “suspicious deaths, mysterious murders, and bizarre disappearances” that will make you raise your eyebrows. The focus of this book is not so much on the UFOs and the lifeforms that pilot them, but the fate of those who tried to reveal their existence to the public.

An entire chapter is devoted to John F. Kennedy and his untimely assassination. Redfern also briefly discusses in another chapter the theory that UFOs are not extraterrestrial at all, but rather that “the flying saucer enigma is definitely demonic in origin and nature.” There is, of course, no conclusion drawn by the end of the book; none of the conspiracies are solved and no skeptics will be convinced to change their minds, but there is plenty to fuel the paranoia of extraterrestrial advocates. Redfern wraps up Close Encounters of the Fatal Kind with a warning to those who investigate the existence of unidentified flying objects to “tread very carefully, lest you tread no more.”

Learn more about New Page Books.

Purchase Close Encounters of the Fatal Kind by Nick Redfern.

Random Awesomeness (part 170)

Random Awesomeness

Purchase Rainbow – Down to Earth.

R.I.P. Frank Torre

(December 30, 1931 – September 13, 2014)

Frank Torre

Former first baseman for the Milwaukee Braves and Philadelphia Phillies, and older brother of Hall of Fame manager Joe Torre, Frank Torre passed away today.

Fans can get involved with Inside Metal

Inside Metal


The early ’80s metal scene in Los Angeles has become legendary, as it spawned such worldwide headliners as Mötley Crüe, Ratt, Dokken, W.A.S.P., and originally, Metallica (before the latter relocated to San Francisco). And the new documentary, Inside Metal: Pioneers of L.A. Hard Rock & Metal, chronicles the entire scene.

Directed by Bob Nalbandian and produced by Metalrock Films, Inside Metal features all-new interviews with countless bands and artists that thrived on the scene, and tell its story, first hand. To ensure that this killer documentary receives the attention it deserves, a fundraising campaign has been set up at – which will help strengthen the film’s distribution, marketing and promotion.

This groundbreaking movie features exclusive and candid interviews with members of Metallica (Lars Ulrich), Ratt (Stephen Pearcy), Dokken (Don Dokken), Quiet Riot (Carlos Cavazo), W.A.S.P. (Chris Holmes), Megadeth (David Ellefson), Great White, (Jack Russel), Y&T, (Dave Meniketti), Stryper (Michael Sweet) and Armored Saint (Joey Vera).

Inside Metal is about giving fans the real inside story from the behind the scenes world of metal and hard rock with in-depth interviews, ultra-rare concert footage and photographs, and an original music score from that era; in this no-holds-barred, never before seen, recollection of untold stories.

Check out some sneak previews below:

Early feedback has been exceptional, including renowned video director Jonas Åkerlund (who has worked with the likes of Metallica and Ozzy) raving, “This film captures an era that catapulted metal into the spotlight and takes the audience on a wild ride down memory lane. After watching it I wanted to get in my time machine and experience those days for the first time. You’re hit with a potent nostalgia, a time I thought we couldn’t get back, not until I saw this film. I can’t get enough of this shit, what an amazing film to watch over and over again, well done!”

Metalrock Films ask—and want—real and serious metal fans to be a part of this historic documentary and spread the word that this was the scene where it all began, ground zero. “Our Fanbacked campaign will raise the direly needed financial support to bring this film to one and all in the US and Internationally in order to pay for the marketing and promotion to get it noticed by the general public. We want to bring this film to your theatre, town, bar, club and living room! Unite and support us. We have created some one of a kind opportunities for our friends and fans to participate with us in birth of this film. Get your name on the screen and let the world know that you support metal and the bands that create it. Help us tell the story of the music you love and let the world know you love it. Join in the festivities of our, and your, accomplishments by being at the premiere of the movie and interact with the artist that participated in its creation. Commemorate your participation with a plaque, t-shirt, poster or other limited edition merchandise items that says ‘Metal Rules.’ Keep checking back as we add more tasty premiums.”

And thanks to you and your donation, Inside Metal will finally get the true story of the scene heard – worldwide!

To make a donation, go to:

Do You Remember Eleven September?

A new lyric video for the song “September” by Sweet & Lynch. The supergroup is made up of hard rock veterans Michael Sweet (Stryper), George Lynch (Dokken/Lynch Mob), James LoMenzo (White Lion/Black Label Society/Megadeth), and Brian Tichy (Billy Idol/Pride and Glory). A full album is scheduled for 2015 release.

Too many people lost their lives in the attacks that began at 8:46 a.m. on September 11, 2001, and the events that unfolded thereafter and are still happening today.

Today, don’t be selfish. Be a decent human being. Smile at someone. Help someone. Stop the hatred, stop the violence.

Fun Cards: 1991 Topps Billy Bates

1991 Topps Billy Bates

Billy Bates never had a Cincinnati Reds baseball card, but he is fondly remembered by Reds fans for his role in Game 2 of the 1990 World Series. Pinch hitting for Rob Dibble in the bottom of the 10th inning against future Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley, Bates reached base on a single, and then advanced to second on a Chris Sabo single. When Joe Oliver smacked the ball to left field, Bates hustled around to score the winning run.

The most iconic image of Bates is the post-run celebration on the field, and I decided to create a second card featuring that photo:

1991 Topps Billy Bates

Bates only has one Topps baseball card, appearing the “1989 Major League Debut” set as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers. Despite only playing eight games for the Reds in the regular season, two in the NLCS, and one in the World Series (incidentally, his last major league game), he will always be fondly remembered for his time in the Queen City. His only hit in a Reds uniform came in that World Series game.

Oh, and he also raced a cheetah on the field at Riverfront Stadium.

Fun Cards: 1991 Topps Ron Oester

1991 Topps Ron Oester

Despite providing a solid bat off the bench for the World Champion Cincinnati Reds in 1990, second baseman Ron Oester was omitted from the 1991 Topps baseball card set; Donruss, Fleer, Score, and Upper Deck all found room for Oester. He batted .299 in 154 at-bats in 1990, his last season in the majors.

He saw limited playing time during the regular season, but Oester was a part of the Reds’ postseason roster, going 1-for-3 in the NLCS against the Pittsburgh Pirates. That hit came in the sixth game, after coming into the game during a double switch that saw Norm Charlton replace Danny Jackson on the mound. In the bottom of the seventh inning, Oester singled off Pirates pitcher Zane Smith, then scored on a Luis Quinones single.

In the World Series, Oester saw action in Game 2 as a pinch hitter for Scott Scudder. Oester singled off the late Bob Welch and drove in catcher Joe Oliver.

Oester was the subject of a custom card on Cards That Never Were earlier this year, sharing a 1980 “Future Stars” card with future Red Jeff Reardon and never Red Al Holland.

R.I.P. Joan Rivers

(June 8, 1933 – September 4, 2014)

Iconic comedienne Joan Rivers passed away today from complications during throat surgery.

Fun Cards Submission: 1961 Nu-Card Baseball Scoops Billy Hamilton

Billy Hamilton Reds rookie record for stolen bases

Pete Rose‘s appearance in the tri-state area was not the only noteworthy thing that happened Tuesday night. Billy Hamilton ran his way into the Reds record books, breaking the team’s record for stolen bases by a rookie with his 55th swipe of the season. TWJ contributor Patrick chose to use the 1961 Nu-Card Baseball Scoops design for this card; this is the same design Patrick used to commemorate Hamilton’s first major league steal last September.

Fun Cards Submission: 1974 Topps Pete Rose (Florence Freedom)

1974 Topps Pete Rose

TWJ contributor Patrick is at it again! He sent over this sweet-looking 1974 Topps Pete Rose card commemorating the Hit King’s night in Florence, Kentucky. There is something awesome about the 1974 Topps baseball card set, especially horizontal cards, and Rose. A few months ago, this post from Mets Baseball Cards Like They Ought To Be popped up in my RSS feed, and it blew me away. I love the simplicity of this set.

Pete Rose’s uniform number retired

Pete Rose Florence Freedom

Unfortunately, the Cincinnati Reds were not the team that honored Pete Rose Tuesday night. Rather, it was the Florence Freedom, whose stadium sits less than 15 miles from the Reds’ Great American Ballpark. Rose stepped into the batter’s box to lead off the game, and was then replaced by a pinch hitter. Later in the night, Rose stood in the coaching boxes down the first and third base side.

More highlights for the 2014 TWJ set

Hamels No Hitter

Yesterday’s combined no-hitter by four Philadelphia pitchers brings the total of 2014 TWJ highlights cards to twelve so far, with a thirteenth scheduled to be added later tonight/early tomorrow morning. Cole Hamels and the Philadelphia bullpen threw the eleventh combined no-hitter in MLB history; the first combined no-hitter occurred in 1917 when Babe Ruth and Ernie Shore shut down the Washington Senators without a hit. Interestingly, Ruth only pitched to one batter, and was ejected from the game for arguing balls and strikes after that batter walked; the batter was subsequently thrown out trying to steal, and Shore retired the next 26 batters without incident.

R.I.P. Jimi Jamison

(August 23, 1951 – August 31, 2014)

Lead singer for Survivor in their post-“Eye of the Tiger” era, Jimi Jamison suffered a heart attack and passed away Sunday. In addition to his career with Survivor, Jamison also sang the theme song for Baywatch.

Random Awesomeness (part 169)

Random Awesomeness

Purchase Black Robot – Woman.

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.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 418 other followers

%d bloggers like this: