Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Movie Review - Lucy

If you've seen any of the trailers for this, you know it's not a remake of "I Love Lucy" with Scarlett Johansson.

If you've seen all the trailers, you've practically seen the whole movie. The running time is just 89 minutes.

The movie is kind of fun. Especially if you like to see an attractive white girl gun down a herd of Chinese gangsters. There are a lot of them and they all go down.

Early in the movie, Lucy is just a hard-partying American college girl going to school in Taipei. Who doesn't speak Chinese. It's just one of the many things in this movie that don't make a whole lot of sense. Why did this movie start in Taipei? Who knows, except to give many exterior shots of Taipei 101.

Morgan Freeman, attempting to be the intellectual ground of this movie, spends the first part of the movie giving a lecture on Evolution 101, to a bunch of scientists (they all look too old to be students), in Paris. The climax of this lecture is the blatantly untrue statement that humans use only 10% of their brainpower. All kinds of wonderful things would happen if we could only get up to 20% of 40%. A genius from the audience asks, "Professor, what if it were 100%?". Professor Morgan looks thoughtful and says, wistfully,  "We don't know".

So as you know, the Chinese gangsters stuff a plastic bag of some pretty blue crystals, into Lucy's abdomen and give her a passport and a plane ticket to Paris. There are 4-5 guys who get the same treatment and get sent to other places. Since Lucy is the only woman in the group she gets some special treatment and a couple kicks to the stomach for not appreciating it. With much GC pyrotechnics, the blue crystals leak from the bag and into her bloodstream.
From this point on, Scarlett Johansson manages to keep the same expression on her face as in the poster above. No matter what is going on. And a lot goes on. Lucy crawls around on the ceiling, she shoots a bunch of guys, she digs a bullet out of her shoulder with her fingers, she forces a surgeon at gunpoint to remove the bag, she shoots some more people, practically disintegrates on an airplane, and steals a police car (and the policeman) in Paris and drives through a lot of picturesque locales at top speed leaving a trial of destruction behind.

Why does the movie end in Paris? Just a guess, the director, Luc Besson, was born there. And we get some fine shots of the Eiffel Tower.

Anyway, she eventually meets up with Professor Morgan, gives up her secret and, in a scene that reminded me of the end of "2001: A Space Odyssey" reaches a higher plane of existence. We know this because she sends a text: "I am everywhere".

The only other Luc Besson movie I've ever seen is "The Fifth Element" which is a movie I absolutely love. "Lucy" is not nearly as much fun but it's a wild ride. Don't pay too much attention to the details, just hold on.

Monday, July 28, 2014

2013 Topps Allen and Ginter $11.98 blaster

I know we're all agog over 2014 Allen and Ginter but I found a 2013 blaster at Walmart the other day for only $11.98. Since I only had bought a couple of blasters last year I snatched it up. I'd have bought 2 if there had been another one on the shelf.

Of the 47 cards in the box, I needed 37 of them. So was there anything special?

Well, there was this:

Looks like I could have gotten this card on eBay for about 10 bucks, so already I'm ahead.

Some other highlights:

The 6th grader in me still loves to get a card with a pretty girl on it.

I don't have many post-career cards featuring Fergie.

This card reminds me of an old stupid joke. A horse walks into a bar. The bartender says, "Hey, why the long face"?

You can never go wrong with a Nolan Ryan card.

The only Phillie in the box. It will go nicely with the full sized Lee.

 Remember learning about the giant Red Spot on Jupiter? Apparently, it's now the Big Blue Spot. This is the exact same picture from the Jupiter Wikipedia page, only colored blue for some reason. By the way, this is a composite photo made from images from the Cassini spacecraft.

An insert mini I didn't have. At first I though this was a joke, or part of the 2013 code contest, but the place has a Wikipedia entry.

And finally:

I now have 2 of these. According to Beckett.com, this is an uncorrected error (UER) card but they also list (with a picture) the same card with the biographical text you expect on the back. What kills me about this is not only is the text missing, it says "Text Missing" on the back. baseballcardpedia.com does not explicitly mention this card. For card #130 it just says "Pel?"

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Friday, July 25, 2014

2014 Panini Golden Age - Very tiny look

I really liked 2013 Panini Golden Age and bought a hobby box of it. With Topps Allen and Ginter hobby boxes being out of reach ($110 and up on eBay), I decided to get another hobby box of Panini Golden Age this year. Before I decided I bought a couple of Phillies cards to see them in person. I did three posts on the 2013 set last year and they were some of my more popular posts. You can see them here, here, and here.

2014 Panini Golden Age #114 Steve Carlton
Although superficially similar to last year's set, the design has some significant changes. The picture area is circular this year versus a vertically oriented oval shape last year. Last year's backs are very similar.

2014 Panini Golden Age #80 Robin Roberts
I'll do a couple of posts when I get my hobby box.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Cards with guest stars

One of my favorite baseball card photos are those which feature a guest star player who can be identified. The best ones are plays, generally at 2nd or home base. Here's a few of my favorites from 2013 and 2014.

2013 Topps # 302 Aaron Hill
Hill exclusively played 2nd base for the D-Backs in 2012. Here he is making an acrobatic play against guest star Yadier Molina of the Cardinals. Molina is clearly out but was Hill able to make the throw to 1st to complete the double play?

2013 Topps #570 Devin Mesoraco
This card could have easily been a Soriano card rather than a Mesoraco card. The catcher clearly has the ball in his glove. He also appears to be blocking the plate. If I understand the new rules this year, this is now illegal.

2013 Topps #179 Robert Andino
Assuming that Andino got a foot on the bag, guest star Victoriano is out. This is one of those cards which with some luck and some detection work it's possible to date the play. The Phillies only played the Orioles in Baltimore once in 2012. In the 3-game series, Victorino was on base a lot. He was forced at second and out in a double play in the game of June 9th and forced out in the game of June 10. Based on a close reading of the play-by play on baseball-reference.com, I believe this play was on the 9th.

2013 Topps #4 Yadier Molina
Molina was a guest star on card #302 and has a guest star on his own card, his battery mate Adam Wainwright.

2013 Topps Update #65 Ryan Roberts
I also like photos where the baseball is in flight, like leaving the pitcher's hand or coming off the bat, or like this card, coming out of a fielder's hand. The card combines two of my favorite elements, a flying ball and a recognizable guest star, Tyler Greene of the White Sox.

2014 Topps #210 Jose Altuve
Another two-fer card, featuring an Astro (I'm still collecting them even though they're terrible) and a player I collect, Mike Trout, as a guest star. Too bad the baseball is out of frame.

2014 Topps #360 Russell Martin
Guest star Chase Utley tied up weirdly with catcher Martin. I always wonder if I should include cards like this (cards with a recognizable Phillie on them, like this or the Victorino card above) in with my Phillies cards. I don't.

2014 Topps Blue Walmart #411 Topps Blue Walmart
B. J. or Justin? They both play for the Braves. Easy enough question to answer; B. J. wears #2. Justin wears #8.

2014 Topps #46 Kolten Wong
Guest star Daniel Murphy of the Mets. Wong only played in 23 games in 2013 so this is another card, if you were sufficiently motivated, which I am not, you could probably date the play.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

2014 Topps Allen and Ginter - the Mini cards

As usual, Allen and Ginter is full on mini card parallels and mini card inserts. Here's what I pulled from the 2 blasters and 3 rack-packs I bought last week.

Topps Allen & Ginter Mini #93 Willie Mays
First you have your regular mini card parallels. There is a small design change on the front. The player name is moved from the far right of the card to a position under the team name. The backs look just like the full sized cards.

Topps Allen & Ginter Mini A and G Back #182 Starling Marte
Instead of player information, the backs have the A&G logo. The appearance of the logo changes every year.

Topps Allen & Ginter Mini Black #66 Roger Clemens
In the early years, the Black parallels featured a solid black border. Recently they've had a black pattern. This is the first post-career Clemens card I've seen. It's about time, he retired in 2007.

Topps Allen & Ginter Mini Flag Back Yu Darvish
I think this is a new parallel. It is hand-numbered to 25 and is the best card I pulled from the 2 blasters I bought. Note that the card does not have a number. The regular Darvish card is #117.

Topps Allen & Ginter Mini Larger Than Life #10 Hiawatha
There are 13 of these. I kind of like the idea of a card called Mini Larger Than Life. I pulled one of these.

Topps Allen & Ginter Mini Little Lions #8 Russian Blue
Seriously, kittens? Does the cat on the card look like it has a "striking silver-blue coat" to you? Look up Russian Blue on Google image search and every image looks something like this:

Topps Allen & Ginter Mini Where Nature Ends #21 Giotto Di Bondone
 I only pulled one of these so I'm not sure what the name of the insert is supposed to mean.  This is an example of what I call a Wikipedia card. You usually see these in A&G and Upper Deck Goodwin Champions. It's where the picture on the card is the same picture used to illustrate the Wikipedia article about the subject. Here's the picture from Giotto Di Bondone's Wikipedia article.
I'll grant it may not be the exact same photograph.

Topps Allen & Ginter Mini World's Deadliest Predators #16 Piranha
Yikes!  I was lucky enough to pull 2 of this insert. The other one features the Brazilian Wandering Spider, which I'll be having nightmares about tonight.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

1949 Eureka Stamps

Here's an interesting little item.

It's the Phillies Willie "Puddin' Head" Jones from the 1949 Eureka Stamps set.

The 201-stamp collection only features National League players. Apparently there wasn't enough interest to release the American League stamps, although the available album mentions the American League stamps. The stamps were issued in team name order, and in player name order within each team set. The Phillies were stamps 127-151. The Jones stamp is 139.

The player's name and stamp number is in a yellow strip across the bottom. Below that, in very tiny print it says "1949 Eureka Sportstamps" followed by what looks like a number that might be 885600M. It's real hard to read.

I'm amazed at the good condition of this 65-year-old piece of paper. The color is excellent. The corners and perforations are sharp, like it was detached just yesterday (maybe the seller had this as part of a larger sheet). The adhesive appears intact but I'm not going to test it. The gray area at the top of the stamp is just a shadow from the scan.

I was looking for 1980s Phillies Topps stamps on eBay and this showed up in the list.

I got all the information on this set from Beckett.com.