Author Archives: JT

Napoleon Wasn’t Short and St. Patrick Wasn’t Irish: When History Gets It Wrong by Andrea Barham (2015) @OMaraBooks

Napoleon wasn't short

Napoleon Wasn’t Short and St. Patrick Wasn’t Irish:
When History Gets It Wrong

by Andrea Barham
Michael O’Mara, 2015
192 pages

If you haven’t already forgotten all the history you learned in high school, you can forget it now. Andrea Barham takes a number of historical “facts” to task in her latest offering, Napoleon Wasn’t Short and St. Patrick Wasn’t Irish: When History Gets It Wrong. This neat little book offers short discussions on such varied topics as women gladiators, women popes, and the wives of Henry VIII. Did Abraham Lincoln really write the Gettysburg Address on the back of an envelope? Did Paul Revere cry, “The British are coming!” on his way to Concord? Was Captain James Cook really eaten by cannibals in Hawaii? These questions are examined by Barham, but sometimes a definitive answer is still just out of reach.

History buffs will get a kick out of Napoleon Wasn’t Short and St. Patrick Wasn’t Irish, though I doubt the myths that have been propagated—sometimes over the course of centuries—will be disbelieved by many now.

Learn more about Michael O’Mara.

Purchase Napoleon Wasn’t Short and St Patrick Wasn’t Irish: When History Gets it Wrong by Andrea Barham.

2015 Reds, 1990 Score style: Mike Leake

Mike Leake baseball card

It’s usually July before I give up on the Reds, but I couldn’t tell you what their current record is this year. Maybe .500? No idea. Hang on, I’ll look it up…

18-21. Tied for 3rd place with the Bucs. Yikes. Eight games out of first. Smh.

Mike Leake has been one of my favorite pitchers since he debuted in 2010. He has never been the ace of the staff, and probably never will be. But he’s a go-getter and wants to win every game. His ERA so far this year is only 3.62, which really isn’t awful at all. In five full seasons, he has only finished with an ERA over 4.00 twice; his lowest was 3.37 in 2013. Unfortunately he doesn’t get a whole lot of run support behind his effort, so his record is 2-2 this year.

Leake isn’t scheduled to pitch again until Friday night against the Indians in Cleveland. The Tribe is even more pathetic than the Reds have been so far this year. The Battle for Ohio should be a real blast. [/sarcasm]

Pedro by Pedro Martinez and Michael Silverman (2015)

Pedro

Pedro
by Pedro Martinez and Michael Silverman
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015
336 pages

Growing up, Pedro Martinez was always an underdog. He was smaller than the other kids, shorter, not as strong. His brother Ramon Martinez was a dominant pitcher, a highly prized prospect for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Pedro was often seen as nothing more than Ramon’s little brother. Despite success in the Dodgers’ farm system, he never got the respect he believed he deserved. It was not until he was traded to the Montreal Expos that Pedro was finally seen as his own man, as he dominated National League hitters north of the border.

In his autobiography, written with Michael Silverman, Pedro relates his experiences as a young man in the Dominican Republic who looked up to his big brother Ramon, wanting to follow in his footsteps to the major leagues. Pedro surpassed all expectations by becoming a Hall of Famer.

Pedro is not a game-by-game breakdown of his career, but a general overview of his seasons with some highlights sprinkled in. He deals with his reputation as a headhunter, sometimes referred to as “Senor Plunk.” He also talks about how he felt overlooked in the the 1999 MVP race and the 2002 Cy Young voting, though he does admit Ivan Rodriguez and Barry Zito had stellar years as well.

In a short chapter dealing with steroids, Pedro expresses disappointment but not resentment toward those who used performance enhancing drugs. He says he was tempted in 1992 when he was in the minor leagues, calling himself “the perfect candidate to take steroids,” but declined after learning the side effects, and states that once he reached the major leagues he was never offered steroids. For those looking for dirt on formerly unnamed users, Pedro does not go there. All of the names mentioned in the chapter are already widely known.

There is so much more that Pedro writes about: learning from Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale, “fighting” with Don Zimmer, his gameday routine and the art of pitching. Pedro is an entertaining autobiography, as the pitcher does not hold back in sharing his opinions of teammates, managers, and opponents. Fans will enjoy the behind-the-scenes look that Pedro offers, though it is not a dirt-digging, tell-all book.

Learn more about Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Purchase Pedro by Pedro Martinez and Michael Silverman.

On The Road With The Oak Ridge Boys by Joseph S. Bonsall (2015)

Oak Ridge Boys book

On The Road With The Oak Ridge Boys
by Joseph S. Bonsall
Harvest House Publishers, 2015
272 pages

I fondly remember listening to the Oak Ridge Boys with my sister as she drove me around in her Mercury Lynx when I was a little kid. Songs such as “Elvira” and “American Made” remind me of a simpler time. Tenor Joseph S. Bonsall reminisces about some of the Boys’ biggest songs, best fans, and blessed moments in his recently released memoir, On The Road With The Oak Ridge Boys.

Bonsall covers a number of topics in the memoir, from the Boys’ non-musical interests and the state of country music today to the viral nature of their 1981 hit “Elvira” and the group’s friendship with the 41st President of the United States George H. W. Bush. He relates interesting anecdotes about playing in the Astrodome in Houston, and singing the National Anthem before a variety of sporting events.

On The Road With The Oak Ridge Boys is a light read and will be of special interest to fans of the group.

Learn more about Harvest House Publishers.

Learn more about The Oak Ridge Boys.

Purchase On the Road with The Oak Ridge Boys by Joseph S. Bonsall.

JT’s Ultimate Mixtape: Dio edition

Dio Ultimate

Ronnie James Dio’s voice was silenced five years ago, but his legacy lives on through the recordings made during his lifetime. His solo career followed stints in Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow and Black Sabbath. It was very difficult to make this Ultimate Mixtape because there are so many great songs, but rules are rules.

  • Every studio album must be represented by one and only one song.
  • That song does not have to be an official “single” released by the band to promote said album.
  • Compilation albums can be included, but only songs that are new, previously unreleased, or remixed songs from prior albums are eligible for the list.
  • Live albums are a great way to sneak additional songs into the mix. Can you imagine a Dio Ultimate Mixtape without “Rainbow in the Dark” and “Holy Diver”? Me neither.

Click play on the YouTube video, review my list, make your own, and buy some Dio today.

JT’s Ultimate Mixtape: Dio edition

Of course, Ronnie James Dio did much more in his career than just Dio. He also sang with Elf, Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, Black Sabbath, and made several guest appearances on friends’ records. Below is just a small sampling of those projects. Explore more of Ronnie’s career at dio.net.


Bonus tracks:

What’s missing? What is on your Ultimate Mixtape: Dio edition that is not on mine?

Remembering Ronnie James Dio: Various Hard Rockers (part 2)

On May 16, 2010, the heavy metal world lost one of the most powerful voices it had ever known when Ronnie James Dio passed away.

The Hard Rock Nights radio program, hosted at that time by JT Carter, paid tribute by playing the songs of Dio and allowing musicians that were influenced Ronnie to share their memories with fans.

Sharing their thoughts and memories of Ronnie James Dio in this clips:

Remembering Ronnie James Dio: Various Hard Rockers (part 1)

On May 16, 2010, the heavy metal world lost one of the most powerful voices it had ever known when Ronnie James Dio passed away.

The Hard Rock Nights radio program, hosted at that time by JT Carter, paid tribute by playing the songs of Dio and allowing musicians that were influenced by Ronnie to share their memories with fans.

Sharing their thoughts and memories of Ronnie James Dio in this clips:

Remembering Ronnie James Dio: Guitarist Robert Sarzo

On May 16, 2010, the heavy metal world lost one of the most powerful voices it had ever known when Ronnie James Dio passed away.

The Hard Rock Nights radio program, hosted at that time by JT Carter, paid tribute by playing the songs of Dio and allowing musicians that played with Ronnie to share their memories with fans.

Robert Sarzo played guitar for Hurricane. His brother, Rudy Sarzo, played bass on Dio’s 2006 Holy Diver: Live album.

Remembering Ronnie James Dio: Guitarist Tracy G

On May 16, 2010, the heavy metal world lost one of the most powerful voices it had ever known when Ronnie James Dio passed away.

The Hard Rock Nights radio program, hosted at that time by JT Carter, paid tribute by playing the songs of Dio and allowing musicians that played with Ronnie to share their memories with fans.

Tracy G joined Dio in 1993. In his six years with the band, the guitarist was featured on two studio albums, (Strange Highways and Angry Machines), and one live album (Inferno: Last In Live).

Remembering Ronnie James Dio: Bassist Chuck Garric

On May 16, 2010, the heavy metal world lost one of the most powerful voices it had ever known when Ronnie James Dio passed away.

The Hard Rock Nights radio program, hosted at that time by JT Carter, paid tribute by playing the songs of Dio and allowing musicians that played with Ronnie to share their memories with fans.

Chuck Garric is a bass player who toured with Dio in 1999 – 2000 in support of the Magica record. Chuck also co-wrote the song “Death By Love”, which appeared on the Dio record Master Of The Moon.

Remembering Ronnie James Dio: Guitarist Rowan Robertson

On May 16, 2010, the heavy metal world lost one of the most powerful voices it had ever known when Ronnie James Dio passed away.

The Hard Rock Nights radio program, hosted at that time by JT Carter, paid tribute by playing the songs of Dio and allowing musicians that played with Ronnie to share their memories with fans.

Rowan Robertson was recruited to join the band Dio when he was only 17 years of age. The experience launched the young guitarist from obscurity to international fame nearly overnight. News that the band Dio had replaced departing guitarist Craig Goldy with an unusually young guitar player circulated in hard rock and heavy metal magazines such as Hit Parader, Rip, and Circus months before Robertson’s first and only album with the band, Lock Up the Wolves, was released.

Ronnie James Dio with Heaven and Hell: Live at Rockpalast, 2009

Ronnie James Dio Live at Super Rock, 1985

Ronnie James Dio and Black Sabbath, Live in New York, 1980

R.I.P. B.B. King

(September 16, 1925 – May 14, 2015)

The most legendary of all blues guitar players, B.B. King passed away last night of complications from diabetes. Best known for “The Thrill is Gone,” King was 89.

The 50 Greatest Players in St. Louis Cardinals History by Robert W. Cohen (2015)

Cardinals book

The 50 Greatest Players in St. Louis Cardinals History
by Robert W. Cohen
Taylor Trade Publishing, 2015
386 pages

Every baseball team with a substantial amount of history behind it has those players who are undeniably great. Usually the top five or ten players can be generally agreed upon, even if the order of ranking them causes some debate among fans. The Yankees lay claim to Ruth, Gehrig, and DiMaggio. The Reds rest on Bench, Rose, and Robinson. Boston boasts Williams and Yaz. The Pirates, Clemente and Stargell. Likewise, the St. Louis Cardinals have their fair share of all-time greats, including Stan Musial, Rogers Hornsby, Albert Pujols, and Bob Gibson.

The further down the list you go, though, discussions become more heated and forgotten stars of the past are brought back into the spotlight. Robert W. Cohen presents a case for his rankings in The 50 Greatest Players in St. Louis Cardinals History, referencing a player’s season-by-season dominance in the league, as well as their statistical fortitude when compared to other Cardinals throughout history. Only a player’s time with St. Louis is considered in the rankings, but Cohen does not ignore their contributions to other teams in his short biographical sketches.

Everyone who has been inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame with a Cardinals cap on the plaque is mentioned, and ranks highly in Cohen’s book. There are also players whose Hall of Fame cases were built in other cities, such as Steve Carlton and Orlando Cepeda, but their contributions as Cardinals were significant enough to warrant inclusion among the top fifty. Vince Coleman, Willie McGee, John Tudor, Edgar Renteria, and Terry Pendleton are just a few of the other names included among the fifty best.

Cohen’s style is a bit dry, relying on statistics to tell the narrative rather than examples of why the players should be considered. There are exceptions to this, such as the case of Joaquin Andujar, who checks in at number forty-nine. The author displays Andujar’s eccentricity through quotes such as, “You can’t worry if it’s cold; you can’t worry if it’s hot; you only worry if you get sick. Because then, if you don’t get well, you die.”

The 50 Greatest Players in St. Louis Cardinals History is well-researched and informative, and Cardinals fans will enjoy it. Readers whose fandom lies elsewhere, however, might struggle to make it through some of the chapters that lack entertaining anecdotes.

Learn more about Taylor Trade Publishing.

Purchase The 50 Greatest Players in St. Louis Cardinals History by Robert W. Cohen.

Random Awesomeness (part 190)

Random Awesomeness

Pre-order Trixter – Human Era.

Announcing Fluxx Dice

The first boxed expansion for Fluxx, Fluxx Dice adds even more chaotic fun to every turn.

College Park, MD – May 14, 2015 Today Looney Labs announced Fluxx Dice, a new expansion that can be added to any Fluxx deck.
fluxx dice
Fluxx Dice takes the place of the traditional “Draw One, Play One” rules in the many versions of FLuxx. Instead of following the basic rules, at each turn players roll the draw and play dice and follow the new rules set by their roll! The expansion set includes two dice and five cards.

“I always say that Fluxx is a different game each time you play, but with Fluxx Dice it’s a different game every turn,” said designer Andy Looney.

There are currently over a dozen versions of Fluxx, including Star Fluxx and Zombie Fluxx and more on the way with Batman Fluxx and Adventure Time Fluxx set to arrive this summer. Fluxx is designed for 2 to 6 players, ages 8 and older and can take 5 minutes to 30 minutes to play. All Fluxx decks include Goal cards, New Rules, Actions and Keepers. Some versions also include Creeper cards, Surprises and Ungoals. No matter the version, Fluxx Dice can be added to any Fluxx card game.

Fluxx Dice is expected to be available from retailers worldwide August 28th at the retail price of $12. For more information, you can visit the Looney Labs website at: www.looneylabs.com/fluxxdice.

About Looney Labs

Looney Labs was founded in 1997 by Kristin & Andrew Looney, a husband and wife team that gave up successful careers as aerospace engineers (they met while working at NASA) to pursue their hobby business full time. They could tell early on the true hit potential their card game Fluxx had, so they took the jump and quit their day jobs so they could dedicate all their energy to making and promoting Andy’s games. With the creation of new and exciting versions of Fluxx, the popularity of the game has spread worldwide and spawned numerous international publications. Andy Looney continues to create Looney Labs games, from those with lighter play, like Fluxx and Just Desserts, to more strategic games like Chrononauts and the Looney Pyramid game system.

Farm Machine by Steve ‘N’ Seagulls (2015)

Stevenseagulls

Steve ‘N’ Seaulls
Farm Machine
Spinefarm Records, 2015
50 minutes

Covers albums are generally a bad idea. Poison, Def Leppard, and Guns N’ Roses have all tried and failed, and Metallica’s Garage Inc. is an overrated collection with just a couple of gems. But when a band is able to translate a song from one genre into another, and the song comes out just as powerful as the original, that is when covers albums are great.

That is exactly what happens on Farm Machine by Steve ‘N’ Seagulls. The five-piece bluegrass group performs renditions of hard rock classics by Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden, and AC/DC, hillbillyfying them and blowing the listener away. This heavy metal hoedown is a perfect mix of passion and power, displaying both the timeless nature of the song and the talent of Steve ‘N’ Seagulls.

My personal favorite here is “Holy Diver,” a song originally recorded by the late Ronnie James Dio. We are approaching the five-year anniversary of the singer’s death, yet this song, which was released in 1983, sounds just as fantastic today as it did when first released, even in a different genre. Of all the cover versions of this song out there, Steve ‘N’ Seagulls’ entry is by far my favorite.

Watch the band perform Metallica’s “Seek and Destroy” below:

Tracklisting:
1. Grand Opening
2. Black Dog
3. Thunderstruck
4. The Trooper
5. Ich Will
6. Paradise City
7. Nothing Else Matters
8. Over The Hills And Far Away
9. Seek And Destroy
10. Holy Diver
11. Run To The Hills
12. You Shook Me All Night Long
13. Cemetery Gates

Learn more about Spinefarm Records.

Learn more about Steve ‘N’ Seagulls.

Purchase Farm Machine by Steve ‘N’ Seagulls.

Steve N Seagulls

2015 Reds, 1990 Score style: Raisel Iglesias

Raisel Iglesias baseball card

Rookie fireballer Raisel Iglesias picked up his first major league win yesterday as the Redlegs downed the Braves 5-1. Iglesias went eight innings and struck out five batters, allowing only two hits (both to pinch-hitters) and one earned run.

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