Author Archives: JT

R.I.P. Wes Craven

(August 2, 1939 – August 30, 2015)

wescraven

Devastating news in the horror community as iconic screenwriter and director Wes Craven has passed away at the age of 76 from brain cancer. His credits include the original A Nightmare on Elm Street (as well as Part 3: Dream Warriors and New Nightmare), all of the Scream movies, Shocker, The People Under The Stairs, The Serpent and the Rainbow, The Hills Have Eyes, The Last House on the Left (both the original and the remake), just to name a few. His presence will definitely be missed.

2015 Reds, 1990 Score style: Tony Perez Statue Dedication (Highlights #11)

Tony Perez

I dropped the ball on this one! I intended to post this “fun card” earlier in the week, and forgot about it until today as I was looking at the other cards I have created for the set. This hasn’t been a season full of highlights for the Reds, but dedicating a statue to Tony Perez would make the list even in a World Championship year. “Doggie” had an outstanding career for the Reds, Expos, Red Sox, and Phillies, and remains one of the most popular players from the 1970s Big Red Machine era. A seven-time All-Star, Perez finished his career with 379 home runs and 1652 RBI. It was not until his ninth year on the Hall of Fame ballot, in 2000, that he was finally inducted. He never had less than 50% support for the Hall.

2015 Reds, 1990 Score style: Pedro Villarreal

Pedro Villarreal

Relief pitcher Pedro Villarreal had a rough outing in Milwaukee last night, giving up four hits and two earned runs in only two-thirds of an inning. Technically, Villarreal is still a rookie, but has appeared in at least one game for the Reds each season since 2012. Not realizing he was still a rookie, he got red border treatment without the “2015 Rookie” text above the team logo. He has shown improvement each year, and he is sporting a 3.48 ERA in 44 innings this season.

Reading’s Big League Exhibition Games (Images of Baseball) by Brian C. Engelhardt (2015)

Reading Big League Exhibition Games

Reading’s Big League Exhibition Games
by Brian C. Engelhardt
Arcadia Publishing, 2015
128 pages

The “Images of Baseball” series has featured some of baseball’s best major league teams, from the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates to the 1975 Boston Red Sox. In the latest entry in the series, a minor league town is the focus. Reading, Pennsylvania, is currently the host to the Philadelphia Phillies’ AA franchise. Prior to their affiliation with the Phillies, Reading served as a farm team for the Boston Red Sox, Brooklyn Dodgers, and Cleveland Indians. A number of big-league stars made a stop in Reading before ascending to the top level of professional baseball, including Carl Furillo, Roger Maria, and Mike Schmidt.

The main thrust of this book, however, is not the minor leaguers who became stars, though they are certainly mentioned throughout. The main subject is the exhibition games featuring major leaguers. From 1874 through 1964, seventeen different franchises came to the town to play a semiprofessional or minor league club. From 1967 through 2000, the Philadelphia Phillies and Reading Phillies played 22 times, both teams winning ten and losing ten, while two games ended in a tie.

The photographs featured in Reading’s Big League Exhibition Games come from four principal sources: the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library in Cooperstown, Berks County History Center, Society for American Baseball Research member T. Scott Brandon’s personal collection, and the Philadelphia Phillies. Also included are box scores lifted from the pages of the Reading Eagle. The oldest box score is from May 21, 1875, when the Boston Red Stockings rolled over the Reading Actives, 27-11.

The final big league exhibition in Reading was played in 2000 between the AA team and the big league Phillies. Reading won 5-2 on a grand slam by Pete Rose Jr. The seven-inning game took an hour and 36 minutes to play, and drew a crowd of 9,307, according to the box score.

Though many of the photos featured in Reading’s Big League Exhibition Games were not actually taken in Reading, the collection is nicely put together with interesting commentary by author Brian C. Engelhardt.

Learn more about Arcadia Publishing.

Purchase Reading’s Big League Exhibition Games by Brian C. Engelhardt.

Snakes! Guillotines! Electric Chairs! My Adventures in the Alice Cooper Group by Dennis Dunaway and Chris Hodenfield (2015)

Snakes Guillotines Electric Chairs Alice Cooper Dennis Dunaway

Snakes! Guillotines! Electric Chairs!
My Adventures in the Alice Cooper Group

by Dennis Dunaway and Chris Hodenfield
Thomas Dunne Books, 2015
292 pages

Before Alice Cooper the man came Alice Cooper the group. Formed by high school buddies in Arizona, Alice Cooper originally referred to five men playing together as a unit: Vince Furnier, Dennis Dunaway, Glen Buxton, Michael Bruce, and Neal Smith. Snakes! Guillotines! Electric Chairs! tells the story of the Alice Cooper group from bass player Dunaway’s perspective, from the hardships of finding fame to the rush of being superstars, to the devastation of breaking up. It was not until the band’s third album, Love It to Death, and the successful single “I’m Eighteen,” that Alice Cooper finally realized the dream. Dunaway writes of hearing the song on the radio, “(W)e always knew we were famous. We were just glad to know the world had caught on to our way of thinking.”

While Dunaway does discuss the immoral excesses that often plague the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, he also examines the bond of friendship that the five members of Alice Cooper shared during the early years. He shows how drugs and alcohol contributed to the downfall of the group by inflating egos and hindering performances. While Dunaway does not seem bitter anymore about the breakup that occurred in the mid-1970s, it is clear there were hard feelings at the time.

Dunaway treats Buxton, who passed away in 1997, with an enormous amount of respect, though it appears that the guitarist’s demons may have forced him out of the band even if they had not all gone their separate ways. There is sadness in the face that Buxton was not around to participate in various recent reunions, including the group’s 2011 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The fact that the remaining four members were able to come back together, though, shows how strong the bonds of friendship were.

Most people are familiar with Alice Cooper’s biggest hits, from “School’s Out” to “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” but to get a behind-the-scenes look at the group during the time those songs were written and recorded, there is no better source than Dunaway’s Snakes! Guillotines! Electric Chairs! This book is highly recommended for fans of one of the greatest theatrical rock acts of all-time.

Learn more about Thomas Dunne Books.

Purchase Snakes! Guillotines! Electric Chairs!: My Adventures in The Alice Cooper Group by Dennis Dunaway and Chris Hodenfield.

2015 Reds, 1990 Score style: Tucker Barnhart

Tucker Barnhart

The injury to Devin Mesoraco was a devastating blow to the Cincinnati Reds, but rookie Tucker Barnhart has taken advantage of the opportunity to play the role of second-string catcher to Brayan Pena. Barnhart has appeared in more than fifty games this season, batting .257 with three home runs. Mesoraco’s job is safe when he comes back, but it’s nice to see this kid stepping up to the plate when called upon.

2015 Reds, 1990 Score style: Jim Riggleman

Riggleman

The hiring of Jim Riggleman as the third base coach during the off-season was seen by most Reds fans as an insurance policy for second-year manager Bryan Price. After a disappointing 4th place finish last year, Price has done nothing to redeem himself in 2015, and many thought Riggleman would be the new skipper by mid-season (or shortly thereafter, to save face during the All-Star events held in the Queen City).

Surprisingly, Riggleman is still stationed in the third base coaching box, and Price is still calling the shots from the dugout despite sitting in last place behind the Milwaukee Brewers, who shouldn’t even be in the same league.

Riggleman managed the Padres from 1992-1994, the Cubs from 1995-1999, the Mariners in 2008, and the Nationals from 2009-2011. While with the Cubs, he twice received votes in Manager of the Year voting, and took the team to a 2nd place finish in 1998.

2015 ex-Reds, 1990 Score style: Chris Dickerson (Buffalo Bisons)

Chris Dickerson

Chris Dickerson was a 16th-round draft pick for the Reds back in 2003, and made his MLB debut August 12, 2008, in Cincinnati. The Reds traded the outfielder in 2010 to the Milwaukee Brewers for Jim Edmonds, then played for the Yankees, Orioles, and Indians between 2011-2014. Toronto signed Dickerson in February this year, and he has spent the year with their AAA franchise, the Buffalo Bisons. He is hitting .270 with one homer, 21 RBI, and 10 stolen bases.

2015 Reds, 1990 Score style: Billy Hamilton

Billy Hamilton

He is one of the most exciting baseball players to watch when he gets on base, but his on-base percentage is south of .300. Billy Hamilton has only taken 25 walks this season, and has struck out 70 times. Can anyone dispute that he needs to work on his eye, and perhaps practice bunting more? He can turn a single or a walk into a double almost every time; he has a league-leading 54 stolen bases this year, and has only been caught seven times. With a WAR of only 0.8 though, one has to wonder how long Cincinnati fans will put up with his lack of performance in other areas.

I have slowed down posting a lot lately, and I apologize to my readers. I still have books to review, and “fun cards” to post, and Ultimate Mixtape tracklists to share, but there is a lot going on in other areas that are of greater importance to me right now. I do not intend to abandon this blog, and I apologize for neglecting it so much lately, but it has dropped a bit on my list of priorities. I hope you understand and continue reading, and commenting, and e-mailing me.

There are some great things on the horizon, including a review of Snakes! Guillotines! Electric Chairs!: My Adventures in The Alice Cooper Group by Dennis Dunaway, a review of The Hawk of New York comic book and soundtrack, and some other cool offerings from Genterine Records. Please be patient and stay tuned for these reviews and more.

We Don’t Need Roads: The Making of the Back to the Future Trilogy by Caseen Gaines (2015)

We Dont Need Roads the Making of Back to the Future

We Don’t Need Roads: The Making of the Back to the Future Trilogy
by Caseen Gaines
Plume, 2015
268 pages

The Back to the Future films took viewers on a fantastical ride, and now, thirty years later, fans can go behind the scenes thanks to author Caseen Gaines’ We Don’t Need Roads: The Making of the Back to the Future Trilogy. Gaines does not just give us a recap of the plots with a few anecdotes sprinkled about; he takes us all the way back to the beginning of Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale’s original vision. The story of Eric Stoltz’s part in the original film is told in detail, as well as how Michael J. Fox became involved. During his research, Gaines conducted interviews with several of the key players, from Zemeckis and Gale to Lea Thompson and Christopher Lloyd, as well as many other individuals involved that are not household names.

Half the book is dedicated to the original film, and rightly so. Without that foundation that was laid thirty years ago, the hover boards and self-lacing shoes of Back to the Future Part II would never have been dreamed up. For Part II, Gaines delves into stories about phone calls from fans about the availability of the hoverboards in stores, the tragic accident that nearly killed a stunt woman, and the treatment of actor Jeffrey Weissman, who replaced Crispin Glover as George McFly. Part III is relegated to one chapter, which makes sense as it is the most forgettable of the trilogy.

We Don’t Need Roads is a fun look back at one of the most endearing time travel movies of all-time. It is well written, and packed with information from front to back.

Learn more about Plume.

Purchase We Don’t Need Roads: The Making of the Back to the Future Trilogy by Caseen Gaines.

Concert review: The Cringe, Alice Cooper, and Mötley Crüe (August 20, 2015 @ Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN)

My 16-year old son Joshua and I traveled to Indianapolis Thursday night to take in Alice Cooper and Mötley Crüe on the latter’s “All Bad Things Must Come To An End: The Final Tour” at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. I have seen both acts before, so I had an idea what to expect going in, and for the most part I was not disappointed.

Opening the show was a Manhattan-based band called The Cringe. The band is comprised of John Cusimano (who is married to TV cooking show host Rachel Ray), James Rotondi, Johnny Blaze, and Shawn Pelton. They opened their set with a catchy tune called “Anything You Say” from their forthcoming release Blind Spot, available in October. They have four other albums available now: Hiding in Plain Sight (2012), Play Thing (2010), Tipping Point (2007), and Scratch the Surface (2005). The Cringe also performed covers of Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” and Thin Lizzy’s “Jailbreak.” A very good set to open the show that encouraged me to search out more about the band once I came home.

The Cringe will be playing with Alice Cooper and Mötley Crüe through September 6 in San Antonio. Click here to see a full list of The Cringe’s future dates.

Alice Cooper

I have seen Alice Cooper twice before, and Joshua attended one of those concerts with me. As expected, the classic shock rocker put on a spectacular show. Playing several classic songs from the 1970s through the 1990s, Cooper and his band rocked the Indianapolis crowd into a frenzy for the headliners. A very good video of the Philadelphia show with the same setlist can be seen here (part 1) and here (part 2).

The highlights of the show included “Feed My Frankenstein” and “Killer,” which led to the beheading of the singer and the song “I Love the Dead.” As an opening act, he had a shorter set than the last time we saw him, but still put on a wicked theatrical performance complete with the Frankenstein monster prancing around the stage and the guillotine.

Setlist for Alice Cooper at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, August 20, 2015:
1. The Black Widow
2. No More Mr. Nice Guy
3. Under My Wheels
4. I’m Eighteen
5. Billion Dollar Babies
6. Poison
7. Dirty Diamonds
8. Go to H***
9. Feed My Frankenstein
10. Ballad of Dwight Fry
11. Killer
12Love the Dead
13.School’s Out (medley with Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall)

Alice Cooper’s band is currently made up of Cooper as the lead singer, Ryan Roxie, Tommy Henriksen, and Nita Strauss on guitars, Chuck Garric on bass, and Glen Sobel on drums.

Purchase music by Alice Cooper.

Motley Crue

The headliner, of course, was Mötley Crüe, on what is being billed as the band’s final tour. Excuse me if I don’t entirely believe that, but time will tell. All of the band members have other projects in the works, such as Nikki’s Sixx:A.M. with James Michael and DJ Ashba, but it’s not difficult to envision a reunion five to ten years from now when the money made from this tour starts to dry up.

Thursday’s performance was not too disappointing to me, although if it had been my first experience with Mötley Crüe it may have been. Mick Mars, Nikki Sixx, and Tommy Lee all sounded great, and have every time I’ve seen them before. But Vince Neil was awful, and always has been in concert (at least since 1998, which was my first Mötley Crüe concert). He either forgets the lyrics or just doesn’t have the stamina to sing them all. He was backed on this tour by a couple of female singers to fill in some of the gaps, but there were still several missed lines throughout the night.

I have to admit a bit of disappointment in Vince’s incessant use of curse words as well. Before you object and say, “It’s a rock and roll show, of course he cusses,” let me remind you that Alice Cooper does not drop the f-bomb every third word in his show. I’ve been to a lot of shows, and it always bothers me to hear a continual stream of profanity from the bands. There is no need for it, and it detracts from an otherwise enjoyable night.

Then there was the song, “MF of the Year.” Am I alone in wishing this song was dropped in favor of “Too Fast For Love” or “Too Young To Fall in Love”? Even “Afraid” would have been a better choice in my opinion. And that’s all this is, my opinion, and I realize others may disagree but I’m tired of the foul language.

Back to the good parts of the show…four songs from Dr. Feelgood, personally my favorite Mötley Crüe record, were performed. The drum rollercoaster was fun to watch; Tommy Lee playing upside-down was a trip. The band highlighted songs from their entire career (except Mötley Crüe and Generation Swine) starting with “Girls Girls Girls” and finishing up with “Home Sweet Home” in the middle of the arena.

All in all, a great night, and one I will not forget anytime soon. I’m very glad I decided to catch the tour, just in case it truly is the last.

Setlist for Mötley Crüe at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, August 20, 2015:

1. Girls, Girls, Girls
2. Wild Side
3. Primal Scream
4. Same Ol’ Situation (S.O.S.)
5. Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)
6. Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room
7. Looks That Kill
8. MF of the Year
9. Anarchy in the U.K.
10. In The Beginning/Shout at the Devil
11. Louder Than H***
12. Saints of Los Angeles
13. Live Wire
14. T.N.T. (Terror ‘N Tinseltown)/Dr. Feelgood
15. Kickstart My Heart
16. (encore) Home Sweet Home

“All Bad Things Must Come To An End: The Final Tour” is supposed to wrap up December 31 in Los Angeles. Click here to see a full list of dates, and make plans to see Mötley Crüe one last time.

Purchase music by Mötley Crüe.

Learn more about Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

1,000 and counting

The 1,000th TWJ card was posted yesterday at TWJ cards on tumblr. Texas Rangers starting pitcher Colby Lewis, who is 13-5 despite a 4.49 ERA, was the thousandth virtual card published.

Colby  Lewis Texas Rangers

The first TWJ card was posted on September 19, 2012. Johnny Cueto was the very first, followed shortly (the same day) by Mike Trout, Derek Jeter, Jason Heyward (then with the Braves), and hair metal guitarist Vinnie Vincent. Athletes from baseball, football, and basketball have been featured, along with musicians, actors, and horror icons. The subjects of TWJ cards have been exclusively baseball players since 2014, with the exception of Will Ferrell (who I guess is sorta baseball?) and Lauren Hill.

Here is a visual history of the eight designs used since 2012:

twjhistory

A new TWJ card is posted everyday at noon eastern during the baseball season, and at various times during the off-season. You can see the cards, 15 at a time, at TWJ cards on tumblr, or if you’re really into sensory overload, you can see all 1,000 cards (plus all additional cards that have been posted since this writing) here.

In addition to the TWJ cards on tumblr site, I have a second tumblr account that serves as a repository for all the “fun cards” based on classic trading card designs. That site can be found at TWJ fun cards on tumblr.

I don’t like Full House, and I don’t like the Giants, but this is pretty cool…

A pretty cool tribute to one of the worst television shows in the history of the universe.

Random Awesomeness (part 196)

Random Awesomeness


Purchase Axe – Offering.

2015 Reds, 1990 Score style: Jay Bruce (Highlights #10)

Jay Bruce hits 200th career home run

Jay Bruce connected for his 200th career home run last night against the San Diego Padres.

William Shakespeare’s The Clone Army Attacketh by Ian Doescher (2015)

William Shakespeares The Clone Army Attacketh Star Wars

William Shakespeare’s The Clone Army Attacketh
by Ian Doescher
Quirk Books, 2015
176 pages

A parody is only as good as its source material. When Ian Doescher’s first installment of the William Shakespeare’s Star Wars series was released two years ago, it was hailed as brilliant—and it was. Equally as fun were The Empire Striketh Back and The Jedi Doth Return. Then came The Phantom of Menace this April, and while Doescher did his best to shoehorn that mess of a story into the Shakespearean style, it fell flat. Unfortunately, he was not able to rebound with The Clone Army Attacketh, through no fault of his own. While he does employ some interesting literary devices in the work—Jango Fett speaking in prose, Anakin and Padme speaking in rhyming quatrains—the story itself is lacking.

The sixth installment, Tragedy of the Sith’s Revenge, is due out in September. That film was the best of the prequels, and hopefully Doescher’s Elizabethan treatment will prove to be stellar as well.

Learn more about Quirk Books.

Purchase William Shakespeare’s The Clone Army Attacketh by Ian Doescher.

2015 ex-Reds, 1990 Score style: Edinson Volquez (Super Star)

Edinson Volquez

In 2008, Edinson Volquez finished fourth in the National League Rookie of the Year voting. But he wasn’t a rookie. He had exceeded rookie limitations during the 2007 season with the Texas Rangers, but some folks got confused when they filled out their ballots in 2008. Volquez had an excellent year with a 17-6 record and a 3.21 ERA, but he wasn’t a rookie.

It wasn’t until 2013 with the Pirates that he excelled again, and he is continuing that excellence this year in Kansas City. Perhaps he should have been an All-Star, but his manager decided to give him the break to rest instead.

Edinson Volquez

2015 Reds, 1990 Score style: Marlon Byrd

Byrd is the word

The Reds recruited Marlon Byrd to fill the void in left field this year, replacing the overpaid Ryan Ludwick. Byrd’s performance, while certainly better than the unemployed Ludwick, has fallen short of expectations. After driving in at least 85 runs the past two seasons, he has driven in less than half that so far this year. He seems to be heating up lately—Marlon has gone yard 19 times—but he is still only batting .246. His WAR thus far is only 1.1.

You’re Making Me Hate You by Corey Taylor (2015)

Corey Taylor

You’re Making Me Hate You
by Corey Taylor
Da Capo Press, 2015
256 pages

There is a saying, often attributed to Abraham Lincoln: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” This quote kept running through my mind as I read Corey Taylor’s latest offering, You’re Making Me Hate You: A Cantankerous Look at the Common Misconception that Humans Have Any Common Sense Left. Taylor, best known as the frontman for Slipknot and Stone Sour, rants for more than 200 pages against people at airports, people in cars, people raising kids, and more, but really does not say much of anything at all. Near the end of the book, it is clear why there are so many curse-riddled declarations. Taylor writes about eating his own boogers, “I need[ed] the word count. It’s getting harder and harder to space these…books out to the appropriate length.”

While I can agree with much of what Taylor writes, the tone with which he shreds those who irk him is over-the-top and irksome itself. Henry Rollins already pulled off most of this bit years ago, and did so with much more precision and clarity. You’re Making Me Hate You was unfortunately a chore to read.

Learn more about Da Capo Press.

Purchase You’re Making Me Hate You: A Cantankerous Look at the Common Misconception That Humans Have Any Common Sense Left by Corey Taylor.

Fun Cards Submission: 1972 Topps Traded Mike Leake @MikeLeake44

LEAKE 1972 traded

Mike Leake went six and a third innings in his San Francisco debut yesterday, allowing only two runs, but ended up on the losing side as the Rangers’ Martin Perez held the Giants to only one run. Leake now wears uniform number 13 for the Giants, but has not yet updated his Twitter handle to reflect the uniform number change.

TWJ contributor Patrick went with the 1972 style for this Traded card. I love the 1972 set, and used it a few years ago to make cards for most of the Reds team. This is another great submission, though I hate seeing Leake wearing a different uniform.

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