Top 10 Cards From A Cheap 1990/91 Topps Hockey Factory Set

There was one of those “Any single item $1” tables at the show I went to in July, but it wasn’t until after I’d grabbed a couple of small oddball sets and Topps retail team sets that I saw a set of plastic shelves where anything was $3, and one of the items was this:

Yes, a 396-card 1990/91 Topps Hockey factory set for $3. As a friend of mine likes to say, “You can’t go wrong!”

Just a quick aside… How much of a cardboard nerd am I that I love the way an unsorted box of pre-glossy Topps cards looks?

I can honestly say that I’d never in my life considered getting the entire 1990 Hockey set – before I bought the set I had just 34 of these cards – but buying this set was a no-brainer. I would’ve easily spent $3 acquiring the cards I’d wanted from 1990/91 Topps Hockey, and now I have the entire set…

…Not that I know what I’m going to do with it. I have given some thought towards making this the basis of a 396-card hockey FrankenSet, but we’ll see…

While thumbing through the set for the first time, I kept my favorite cards separate, knowing I’d be doing a “Top 10” post at some point… and here they are in no particular order:

Team cards are well-represented in my Top 10, as this subset has a number of cool action shots.

I just like the “stink eye” that Russ Courtnall seems to be giving someone.

I realize that HOFer Guy Lafleur spent two years with Quebec, but he just looks WEIRD in that uniform.

Even though Lafleur spent a year with the Rangers, that’s less odd to me because I remember watching him on TV with the Blueshirts. Nordiques? Tres bizarre.

I think this card is my favorite from the set, just because of angle of the shot.

There were also a few “honorable mention cards I wanted to include…

“Could I BE any more like Matthew Perry???”

There’s a three-card Wayne Gretzky tribute in this set, and if the photo had been better this card would’ve made it to the Top 10… but there’s no resisting a card of The Great One with the WHA’s Indianapolis Racers!

CuJo Rookie!

My general take on the set is that it’s far from classic. The design is OK but nothing great, and far too many of the photos were taken during warmups or while waiting for a face-off. By getting the factory set, I miss out on the “Team Scoring Leaders” inserts, but I can track down the one or two cards I want easily enough. All in all, it’s junk wax… but it was $3! And you can’t go wrong!

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Because *Someone* Will Be Interested: Customs Created For My B&W Laser Printer

I sometimes like to print out customs even though I don’t have a color printer. It stems from getting tired of certain players in my “Current Rosters” binders being constantly represented by a hand-written placeholder… Backup catchers, utility guys, relief pitchers, all the guys who get a rookie card and then fall off of Topps’ radar… or don’t even get a rookie card to start with.

I’ve been doing these customs for a couple of years, and I call them “Cheap Seats”, which is kinda sorta a play on “Upper Deck”

Because toner ain’t cheap and because these customs are never going to look great no matter what I do, I try to minimize the amount of black and greyscale used. That means removing the background from the photo used and not “coloring between the lines” on the design. This also means that I shy away from designs which would ideally have large color areas (like 1975 Topps).

This year I decided to use the 1968 Topps / 2017 Heritage design with some adaptations for my purposes.

Obviously, I removed the color, the “burlap” and the filled-in circle.  Because the players I do these for are usually a bit more… shall we say ‘nomadic’… than average, I swapped the text in the circle to emphasize the position over the team.

So with card design template in hand (so to speak), here’s how I proceed from there.  First off, I look for photos a) where you can see the players face, b) which can be cropped fairly tightly, c) which features a home uniform (or at least not a dark one) and c) has relatively little background.  “Photo Day” images work very well in this respect.

Next, I take the image, get rid of the background and crank up the brightness and contrast.  Then — and if you don’t have Paint Shop Pro like I do, you’d have to find your own equivalent — I use a macro which comes with the software, one called “Black And White Pencil”.  That converts the image to something like you see here.

“Black And White Pencil” leaves a lot of light gray in the background, so I clean that up with the eraser set to a hardness of 50% or so, which allows me to clean up while maintaining the halo effect around the image.

When I’m ready to print, I take the individual images and paste them on a “printing sheet” document which has dotted lines drawn on it in standard size, so I can easily cut them out with scissors.  Here’s an example with the neighboring dotted lines and customs included.

Side note:  I have no idea why the Giants didn’t give Hwang more of a chance rather than bring back the washed-up Kung Fu Panda.  It’s not like the Giants have anything to play for, other than a top draft pick.  (or is that why they brought back the Panda?)

Late one night I had an idea that if I looked at the pitchers who fall into the Top 10 in appearances in 2017, at least one of them would have no cardboard to speak of… And I was right!  …at that time, anyway.  Ladies and Gentleman, the pitcher who, when I originally researched this, had the 8th most appearances in the Major Leagues and yet has no Major League cardboard at all… The Milwaukee Brewers’ Jacob Barnes!  (Insert a Kermit The Frog “Yaaaaaaaaay!” here).

Barnes’ 67 appearances is currently good for 11th in the Majors, BTW.

As I mentioned, I  make these for my “current roster” binders.  The real test is in how these look in a 9-pocket page….

Not too shabby… about as good as anything is going to look when printed by an ordinary printer on copy paper, anyway.

 

 

Saturday Side Trip: Track #10 From The Beatles FrankenAlbums

As many of you know by now, I’m applying the “FrankenSet” concept to Beatles albums and creating a Beatles FrankenAlbum containing the (subjectively) best song for each track number. I also have a “covers album” in the works, and voting on the Shlabotnik Report’s readers’ FrankenAlbum, and images from the 1993 River Group “The Beatles Collection” card set… like this one:

Recapping the voting from last week… “Penny Lane” won a tight vote (with relatively low voter turnout, as they say).

Here’s where we stand after nine tracks:

My FrankenAlbum:

  1. Help
  2. Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)
  3. You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away
  4. Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey
  5. And I Love Her
  6. I Am The Walrus
  7. Can’t Buy Me Love
  8. Strawberry Fields Forever
  9. You Never Give Me Your Money

Your FrankenAlbum:

  1. A Hard Day’s Night
  2. Something
  3. I’m Only Sleeping
  4. Medley: Nowhere Man / Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey
  5. Medley: And I Love Her / I’ll Follow The Sun / Think For Yourself / Octopus’s Garden
  6. Medley: I Am The Walrus / Let It Be
  7. Here Comes The Sun
  8. Strawberry Fields Forever
  9. Penny Lane

My Favorite Covers FrankenAlbum:

  1. “Come Together” by Aerosmith
  2. “With A Little Help From My Friends” by Joe Cocker
  3. “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” by The Hooters
  4. “Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey” by Fats Domino
  5. “Sexy Sadie” by Phish
  6. “Tell Me Why” by The Beach Boys
  7. “She Said She Said” by Gov’t Mule
  8. “Porque (Because)” by Grupo Fantasma
  9. “I’ll Cry Instead” by Billy Joel

If you want to see the prior posts, you can click on the “Beatles FrankenAlbum” link at the bottom of this post.

As before, I’m seeding the tracks in alphabetical order (highest vs. lowest, second-highest vs. second-lowest, etc.)

White-Album Play-In Round:
“I’m So Tired” (Disk 1) vs. “Savoy Truffle” (Disk 2)
I love me some good “Paul Is Dead” clues… At the end of “I’m So Tired” there’s a bit of murmuring from John which, if you play it backwards, sounds like “Paul’s a dead man, miss him, miss him, MISS HIM!”
WINNER: “Savoy Truffle”


Round One
“Baby It’s You” (Please Please Me) vs. You Really Got A Hold On Me (With The Beatles)
A matchup of two cover versions, so even though I like both, the odds are against either going far.
WINNER: “You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me”

“Baby You’re A Rich Man” (Magical Mystery Tour) vs. “Things We Said Today” (A Hard Day’s Night)
Can’t think of much to say about this, other than when I listened to the songs back-to-back it wasn’t as close of a contest as I thought it would be.
WINNER: “Things We Said Today”

“For No One” (Revolver) vs. “You Like Me Too Much” (Help!)
I’m very glad that George eventually stopped writing songs about how he’s no good and girls should stay away if they know what’s good for them.
WINNER: “For No One”

“Honey Don’t” (Beatles For Sale) vs. “Sun King” (Abbey Road)
Since the subject came up last week in the comments… At one point I gave thought regarding how to handle the songs which run into another, especially side two of Abbey Road. Do I treat Sun King, Mean Mr. Mustard, Polythene Pam and She Came In Through The Bathroom Window as one long track? Do I treat “Sgt. Pepper” and “With A Little Help From My Friends” as one track? I went back and forth for a while, and then decided that this would be the proverbial “slippery slope”. The track listings would stand, regardless of how abruptly they might start or end.

Regarding this particular matchup… As country-fried Ringo goes, this is a good one but I still have to go with Sun King.  Mundo paparazzi mi amore…
WINNER: Sun King

“I’m Looking Through You” (Rubber Soul) vs. Savoy Truffle (White Album)
The American version of “I’m Looking Through You” has two false starts before the song kicks in, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only person who was completely surprised to find out that The Beatles didn’t consider this part of the song and were probably annoyed with Capitol Records for including it. “What do you mean, it’s not part of the song? But it works!”
WINNER: “I’m Looking Through You”

“The Long And Winding Road” (Let It Be) vs. “Lovely Rita” (Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band)
The perfect version of “The Long And Winding Road” doesn’t exist. The original has all those Phil Spector strings and that awful chorus… but the “Let It Be… Naked” version is a little *too* stripped down. “Long And Winding Road” would seem to be the ‘obvious’ choice for track 10, but thanks to Phil Spector, and because “Lovely Rita” speaks to me more, I’ll go with Lovely Rita over lovely tune. Sitting on the sofa with a sister or two.
WINNER: Lovely Rita

Round Two and Championship Round

This week was full of hard decisions, and I don’t have a whole lot to say about the remaining matchups, so I’ll just list them:
“Lovely Rita” over “You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me”
“Things We Said Today” over “I’m Looking Through You”
“Sun King” over “For No One”

WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER:  “Things We Said Today”


Cover Version FrankenAlbum

As we get deeper into this project, the covers are getting a bit harder to decide on.  I like this solo guitar version of “For No One” by Chet Atkins, but I’ll be very interested to see what other versions are in the comments.


Voting time!

A Bunch Of 2017 Topps Pro Debut Cards

At my July card show, I ran across one dealer who had a small quantity of 2017 Pro Debut cards for a quarter a pop, so I went through and found 25 of them which were (in the following order) Mets prospects, Orioles prospects, guys I’ve seen in person, guys I’ve at least heard of.

Since I hadn’t seen a whole lot about these cards out on the Blogosphere, I figured I’d share some of them with you.

As you might expect 2017 Topps Pro Debut is a lot like 2017 Topps.

The main differences are the minor league logos, of course, and that the card front isn’t completely glossy; the player’s image is glossy, the background is matte.

Like regular Topps, Pro Debut includes social media info, where applicable.

Dominic Smith, of course, falls into the category of “Mets Prospect”. He’s been with the New York Mets for about a month as the Mets try to figure out which players they can count on if they want to be contenders in 2018.

Bradley Zimmer recently made headlines for the wrong reasons; in trying to avoid a tag on a play at first, he got his hand stepped on by Chris Davis and he is out for the season. I have to admit, I was at least relieved that it was a tag play; if he was one of those guys who thought that you can beat out a throw on a force play by sliding head-first rather than running through the base, well…

Zimmer falls into the “guys I’d heard of” category.

Brent Honeywell is also a “guy I’d heard of”. He’s one of the top pitching prospects in the Majors and, God bless him, he throws a screwball. Somewhere up there Tug McGraw is smiling.

I don’t know if he’s related, but there was a Brent Honeywell who pitched in the Pirates organization from 1988 to 1990 and YESTERDAY WAS HIS BIRTHDAY! Happy Birthday, original Brent Honeywell.

Here’s my sole Oriole prospect. Cristian Alvarado’s 2017 stats at Hi-A Frederick weren’t awe-inspiring, but one hopes that he can find his way to Baltimore because goodness knows they need the pitching.

Mets prospect David Thompson was their 4th round pick in 2015, and Baseball America ranked him as the team’s #31 prospect after the 2016 season.

Phillies prospect Nick Williams says “Everything’s better with bacon on it!” I would like to differ; I’ve had a chocolate bar with bacon bits in it and I was not impressed.

Williams has been with the Phils since late June, and was one of the prospects obtained from Texas in the Cole Hamels deal.

P.J. Conlon is Irish… REALLY Irish, he was born in Belfast. He’s one of the Mets prospects and spent 2017 with the Binghamton Rumble Ponies.

While I’d heard of Rockies prospect Ryan McMahon, the main reason I got this card is because he’s pictured with the Hartford Yard Goats. I kind of like the name “Yard Goats”, I’m not a huge fan of the logo, but I’ve seen the team’s road unis in person and I really like them. Blue & green is a sadly underused combination in baseball.

I saw Tyler Beede pitch in Double-A either last year or the year before and he looked damn impressive. He spent 2017 with AAA Sacramento, and given the parent Giants struggles in every facet of the game this year, the fact that he didn’t get called up might say something about how ready he is… or maybe it doesn’t. I don’t know.

Wuilmer Becerra’s name makes me think of – sorry Wuilmer – Fred Flintstone banging on his own front door after having been locked out of his house in the closing credits. WUILMER!!!!

Becerra used to be a Blue Jays prospect… The Mets got him along with Noah Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud in the R.A. Dickey trade.

Finally, Austin Meadows is the Pirates best prospect and was Top 10 overall on at least two different list of prospects going into this season.

Contrast And Compare: Six Cards From Three Decades

Running through some Topps cards and their variations-of-sorts, as an admittedly last-minute post.

Doug Ault had a cup of coffee with the Rangers in 1976, got selected by the Blue Jays in the expansion draft, and shared a rookie infielders card with Rich Dauer, Orlando Gonzalez and Phil Mankowski.

Because he was a first-year Blue Jay, O-Pee-Chee gave him his own card.

Ault hit two homers in the Jays’ first game, was a regular with the team and made the Topps All-Star Rookie Team.  He wouldn’t repeat the success he had in his first year and was done in the Majors after 1980.


In 1980, Omar Moreno was coming off two seasons of leading the N.L. in steals.

That got him into the 1980 Burger King Pinch Hit & Run set in the “Run” category and a different photo was used… but he’s still pictured with a bat instead of running. Go figure.

In 1980 Moreno got a career-high 96 stolen bases… but would finish one behind Montreal’s Ron LeFlore who had 97. In 1981 he’d finish second to a different Expo, Tim Raines.


In 2013 Doug Fister went 14-9, 3.67 for the Tigers, surprising people by breaking out when he was 29 years old.
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After that season, the Tigers traded him to the Nationals for Ian Krol, Steve Lombardozzi and Robbie Ray. Since Opening Day gets released after Topps Series 1, a different photo of Fister was photoshopped into a Nats uniform.

Fister went 16-6, 2.41 in that first season with the Nats, but has been inconsistent since then and is currently with the Red Sox. The argument could be made that the best player in that trade was Robbie Ray, who was an all-star this year for the Diamondbacks. He was traded to Arizona in the three-team trade that sent Didi Gregorius to the Yankees.

Four Steelers From 1964 Philadelphia Football

In observance of the start of the NFL season, I decided to share four recently-acquired Steelers cards from the 1964 Philadelphia Gum NFL set. I can’t tell you much about the four-year run of Philadelphia as the official trading card of the NFL, other than that I really like the “less is more” design used for each of the four years, and I particularly like the large cartoons on the back of the 1964 cards… so I’m featuring the fronts and the backs of today’s cards.

One thing I find interesting about the cartoons is that even though the drawings are not true caricatures, the “cartoon players” are in Steelers uniforms and wearing the number worn by the featured player.


Lou Michaels was a kicker AND a defensive lineman for the Steelers.  Gotta love that.  CommishBob might not love Lou Michaels because he – Lou, not Bob – missed two field goals in the Colts’ loss to the Jets in Super Bowl III.

Myron Pottios played for the Steelers, Rams & Redskins and was named to three Pro Bowls.

Gary Ballman’s 2949 receiving yards as a Steeler still ranks 17th on the all-time Steeler list (above Dwight Stone, Franco Harris and Antwaan Randle El, among others)

Mike Sandusky was an All-American in both Football and Wrestling.  He played 9 years for the Steelers and made one Pro Bowl.


I”m not really sure what’s going on in this cartoon…  Is that supposed to be a military draft physical? What’s with the woman? Is she a nurse? I feel like I’m missing some sort of cultural shorthand here… or that they changed the trivia question after the cartoonist was done.

Saturday Side Trip: Track #9 From The Beatles FrankenAlbums

As many of you know by now, I’m applying the “FrankenSet” concept to Beatles albums and creating a Beatles FrankenAlbum containing the (subjectively) best song for each track number. I also have a “covers album” in the works, and voting on the Shlabotnik Report’s readers’ FrankenAlbum, and images from the 1993 River Group “The Beatles Collection” card set… like this one:

Recapping the voting from last week… “Strawberry Fields Forever” won a decisive victory, and for the first time my track matches the voting.

Here’s where we stand after eight tracks:

My FrankenAlbum:

  1. Help
  2. Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)
  3. You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away
  4. Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey
  5. And I Love Her
  6. I Am The Walrus
  7. Can’t Buy Me Love
  8. Strawberry Fields Forever

Your FrankenAlbum:

  1. A Hard Day’s Night
  2. Something
  3. I’m Only Sleeping
  4. Medley: Nowhere Man / Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey
  5. Medley: And I Love Her / I’ll Follow The Sun / Think For Yourself / Octopus’s Garden
  6. Medley: I Am The Walrus / Let It Be
  7. Here Comes The Sun
  8. Strawberry Fields Forever

My Favorite Covers FrankenAlbum:

  1. “Come Together” by Aerosmith
  2. “With A Little Help From My Friends” by Joe Cocker
  3. “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” by The Hooters
  4. “Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey” by Fats Domino
  5. “Sexy Sadie” by Phish
  6. “Tell Me Why” by The Beach Boys
  7. “She Said She Said” by Gov’t Mule
  8. “Porque (Because)” by Grupo Fantasma

If you want to see the prior posts, you can click on the “Beatles FrankenAlbum” link at the bottom of this post.

As before, I’m seeding the tracks in alphabetical order (highest vs. lowest, second-highest vs. second-lowest, etc.)

White-Album Play-In Round:
“Martha My Dear” (Disk 1) vs. “Honey Pie” (Disk 2)
The White Album is essentially four solo albums combined together, but Paul really pushed the musical boundaries of what makes a Beatles track.  In the case of “Honey Pie”, I’m not sure it belongs on a Beatles album.  I’ll go with the song Paul wrote about his sheepdog instead.
WINNER: “Martha My Dear”


Round One

“And Your Bird Can Sing” (Revolver) vs. “You Never Give Me Your Money” (Abbey Road)
Both of these songs are among my favorite “deep cuts”. I think that “Bird” got cemented into my subconscious as the title music for the syndicated version of the cheaply-made Beatles TV cartoons of the 1960’s, while “Money” is really several song fragments fused together into a killer track.

“Bird” is kind of like the Steely Dan song “Reeling In The Years” in that in both cases it’s not so much the song as it is the awesome guitar work.  I expected to go into this selecting “Bird”, but when I listened to the tracks back to back, I found myself gravitating towards “Money”
WINNER: “You Never Give Me Your Money”

“Girl” (Rubber Soul) vs. “Words Of Love” (Beatles For Sale)
When I was in college I enjoyed antagonizing my friend Scott with my joking interpretation of “Girl”. Scott insisted that it was a song of longing over the titular girl, but I teased him by miming a long drag on a joint whenever John made his wistful intake of breath… at which point Scott would get annoyed and insist that it wasn’t a “drug song”.  Like I said, it was a joke at the time, but over the years I’ve come to the conclusion that, joking or not, I was much closer to John Lennon’s intentions than Scott was.
WINNER: “Girl”

“Hold Me TIght” (With The Beatles) vs. “When I’m Sixty-Four” (Sgt. Pepper)
I like “Hold Me Tight”, but it’s as close as the Beatles come to a filler track. As for “Sixty-Four”, I can’t but help wondering how many people named their children “Vera, Chuck and Dave”. You know *somebody* must have.
WINNER: “When I’m Sixty-Four”

“I’ll Cry Instead” (A Hard Day’s Night) vs. “Penny Lane” (Magical Mystery Tour)
In prior posts I made comments about songs being “overplayed”, but I feel that I should elaborate on what I mean by that.  Being played a lot really wasn’t the problem with those songs….

Have you ever gone on a vacation of a week or more with a very good friend and then by the end you’re ready to kill each other? That’s how it is with me and certain songs… it’s not that I don’t love them, but after repeated exposure they really just need to get the hell away from me for a while.  There are entire albums that are like that for me:  “Dark Side Of The Moon”, “Aqualung”, “Rumors”, there are a couple of others.

Right now for me, Penny Lane is an “Ill-advised long trip with a friend”… but I won’t pretend that it’s not a much better song than “I’ll Cry Instead”.
WINNER: “Penny Lane”

“It’s Only Love” (Help) vs. “P.S. I Love You” (Please Please Me)
I really like the “Live On The BBC” album that got released in 1994, but when the follow-up, “On Air”, was released in 2013, it was largely “been there, done that” for me. One of the few exceptions was “P.S. I Love You”, which I found I enjoyed more than the studio version. It really benefits from the live-in-studio performance.  Either way, it doesn’t stand up to a middle-period love song from John.
WINNER: “It’s Only Love”

“Martha My Dear” (White Album) vs. “One After 909” (Let It Be)
The bridge of “Martha My Dear” – “Take a good look around you…” – saves the song from being overly sentimental. “One After 909” was an early unreleased song that the Beatles dusted off for the sessions which would end up on “Let It Be”.  “One After 909” is by no means a great song, but they seem to have fun playing it and perhaps comes closest to that project’s original intent to “get back” to being a band instead of a bunch of very very good studio musicians. That alone is good enough for me.
WINNER: “One After 909”


Round 2
“You Never Give Me Your Money” vs. “One After 909”
Oh, that magic feeling… Nowhere to go.
WINNER: “You Never Give Me Your Money”

“Girl” vs. “It’s Only Love”
WINNER: “Girl”

“When I’m Sixty-Four” vs. “Penny Lane”
Having Penny Lane and the other Magical Mystery Tour “Side 2” tracks in this FrankenAlbum is something of a cheat, given that The Beatles had nothing to do with the track selection. “Magical Mystery Tour” was released as a double EP in the UK, but in the US Capitol Records expanded it to a full album by adding five songs from singles released earlier that year (1967). When the time came in the late 1980’s to issue the CD’s, they used the original UK albums’ track listings except for Magical Mystery Tour which used the US format.
WINNER: “Penny Lane”


Championship round: “You Never Give Me Your Money” vs. “Girl” vs. “Penny Lane”
My brain tells me I should go with the biggie biggie song “Penny Lane” or at least with the “1962-1966”-worthy “Girl”…. but my gut says to follow the Money. Truth be told, I’m wondering how this would’ve turned out had I chosen “And Your Bird Can Sing” in the first round… but I’m not going back and re-doing these..
WINNER: You Never Give Me Your Money


Cover Version Frankenalbum

I’ll Cry Instead – Billy Joel
This was released in 1983 as a B-Side to the “An Innocent Man” single, and was, I believe, intended as a John Lennon tribute.  It’s a very Beatles-esque cover, but it’s also not a carbon copy of the original… plus I don’t know a whole lot of covers for the tracks covered this week, so Billy wins.

 

And now it’s time for the voting… but just so you’re aware there’s a bonus video at the bottom.


Bonus Material

I took guitar lessons as a kid, but my slow learning curve overwhelmed my patience and I quit… but I still love watching people play. I just get fascinated by the fingerwork and how they get certain sounds out of the instrument and so on. While researching this post, I ran across a series of videos by someone called “Rock With Bock” who does a bunch of Beatles tracks without vocals, but the camera is solely on the instruments and not on the musician.

This is not a completely flawless performance, but it’s fascinating stuff.  I spent far too much time watching his videos this morning.