Saturday Side Trip: Track #1 From A Beatles “FrankenAlbum”

This is largely off-topic for this blog, but I’m doing it because it seems like it will be fun.  I’ll throw in some scans of cards from the 1993 River Group “The Beatles Collection” set just to keep it somewhat relevant.

Card collectors talk about building “Frankensets” where you fill a binder with cards from assorted sets numbered as if it were the same set;  a card #1 from one set in the first pocket, card #2 from another set in the next pocket, etc.

In a moment of daydreaming, I decided to apply that concept to Beatles albums… To make one 14-track album out of the 12 Beatles Albums by selecting the best first track, the best second track and so on up to 14.  I’d be excluding the post-breakup albums (Anthology, Hollywood Bowl, Love, etc.), the half-soundtrack “Yellow Submarine” album, and the “Past Masters” collections of singles and EP’s.  This admittedly leaves out a lot of great songs (“She Loves You”, “I Feel Fine”, “Day Tripper”, “Paperback Writer”, etc.), but the competition will be fierce enough as it is.

This is clearly an objective exercise, so I’ll tell you up front where my Beatle tastes lie:

  • The period from “Help” to “Revolver” as the absolute pinnacle of Beatledom.
  • Sgt. Pepper is a bit overrated and overplayed.
  • Over time I’ve grown to generally prefer John over Paul… Partially because some of Paul’s bigger songs had a limited (although very large) number of listens in them, and I’ve passed that point for songs like “Yesterday”.

Fear not, there’s also going to be a poll at the end of each post, plus the comments, so that you can let me know what an idiot I am for picking a particular track.  At the end of all this, we’ll have two different FrankenAlbums:  “Yours” and Mine.

I’m going to choose my tracks in a tournament format.  First, I’m going to do a sort of March Madness “Play-in” matchup between the two disks of the “White Album”. After that, I’m matching the tracks up as if they were seeded by release date. So, Track 1 from “Please Please Me” (the first album) goes up against Track 1 from “Let It Be” (the last album);  “With The Beatles” (2nd album) goes up against “Abbey Road”… you get the idea. Then the winner of “Game A” goes up against the winner of “Game F”, “B” against “E” and “C” against “D”.  At the end of that round we’ll have three tracks from which I will pick the “winner”.

Now that this is out of the way, let’s get to today’s matchups. The first track is a tough one, because we’ve got four title tracks in the competition and you know those tracks are going to be big songs.

White Album Play-in Round:
“Back In The USSR” (White Album Disc 1) vs. “Birthday” (White Album Disc 2)
Right off the bat we’ve got two well-known Paul songs. Both songs are worthy, but I’ll go with the slightly-less-fluffy Beach Boys homage/parody.
WINNER:  “Back In The USSR”

First Round:
“I Saw Her Standing There” (Please Please Me) vs. “Two Of Us” (Let It Be).
“Two Of Us” is one of my favorite songs off of the “Let It Be” album, but I can’t in good conscience go against “I Saw Her Standing There”.  One two three FOUR!
WINNER:  “I Saw Her Standing There”

“It Won’t Be Long” (With The Beatles) vs. “Come Together” (Abbey Road)
Very little deliberating on this one.
WINNER:  “Come Together”

“A Hard Day’s Night” (A Hard Day’s Night) vs. “Back In The USSR” (White Album)
In the end, I have to go with The Beatles being The Beatles, and not being The Beach Boys.
WINNER: “A Hard Day’s Night”

“No Reply” (Beatles For Sale) vs. “Magical Mystery Tour” (Magical Mystery Tour)
This was a tighter contest than you might think, but in the end the more famous track wins out.
WINNER: “Magical Mystery Tour”

“Help” (Help) vs. “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club’s Band (Sgt. Pepper)
Help is an all-time favorite, whereas Pepper is a song I’ve grown a bit tired of over the years. For many people this would be a hard choice, but not for me.
WINNER: “Help”

““Drive My Car” (Rubber Soul) vs. Taxman (Revolver)
Another tight contest, but I can’t resist the snark and George will need all the wins he can get.
WINNER: “Taxman”

Second Round:
“I Saw Her Standing There” vs. “Taxman”
…But Taxman doesn’t make it past the second round. Both songs have great count-ins, but “I Saw Her…” is more iconic.
WINNER: “I Saw Her Standing There”

“Help” vs. “Come Together”
As I mentioned, middle-period Beatles (Help through Revolver) is king in my book.
WINNER: “Help”

“A Hard Day’s Night” vs. “Magical Mystery Tour”
In a matchup of movie title tracks, Hard Day’s ebullience wins the day.

Championship Round:  “I Saw Her Standing There”; “Help”; “A Hard Day’s Night”
Oy, this is tough… But I’ve got to go with “Help” over the other two…. Especially if we cheat and include the ‘James Bond intro’ that was on the U.S. Album. I know it’s soundtrack music and not anything the Beatles actually performed or desired to be on their album, but I grew up with that intro always leading into “Help” and it’s *my* FrankenAlbum, so there.

And now, here’s your chance to be heard. You may, of course, express your disdain and incredulity over my pick in the comments, and you can vote for your own track.  You have one week to vote (if I’m setting this up correctly) and I’ll share the winner in the next post (which hopefully will be next Saturday, depending on how quickly I can turn these things around).



Trying To Break A Custom Funk With A “Super Value Fun Pack”!

You may have noticed that I’ve been kind of quiet with the customs lately.  It’s mainly from lack of time, but underlying that was a simple case of “writer’s block”.  I didn’t really have anything I wanted to “say”, so nothing came out.

I started to come out of the funk a little bit when I poked a bit of fun at the Topps online exclusive Throwback Thursday sets (#TSR_TBT), but then I also decided to stop focusing on my 2017 TSR set and let my muse take me wherever I might go.

I ultimately ended up with an odd assortment of customs and I was trying to think of how to present them… And that’s when I remembered a predecesor of the 21st century repack.  Back in the day, companies used to take whatever they had left over – cards, comic books, etc. – package them together at a low price and tried to make them sound appealing by throwing about words like “Value” and “Fun”.

So I came up with the idea of a “Super Value Fun Pack” and went about creating a “wrapper”:

Now that I’m done with the explanations, let’s see what’s in the Super Value Fun Pack, shall we?

Leading up to the recent NHL Expansion Draft to stock the roster of the Vegas Golden Knights, I made a decision that if any players showed up in person and put on a VGK jersey (Sorry, Canadians, I just can’t call it a “sweater”), I would make a custom out of it.

Well, a number of players did make an appearance, and I decided to use the 1970-71 Topps Hockey design because a)  It allowed me to remove the uninteresting background and b) I’d already come up with a template to use.

Deciding which player to feature wasn’t hard, because the one and only drafted player I’d even heard of before the draft was one of the guys who showed up.

While researching this card, I stumbled across a hockey oddball from the same year, and the custom which resulted will be in the next Super Value Fun Pack (ideally next week).

The one bit of momentum I’ve been able to maintain with my 2017 TSR custom set is making customs of Mets and Orioles for players who haven’t appeared on a real card in 2017. For this week’s Orioles entry in the “Dude Needs A Card” theme, we have a pitcher who appeared in 3 games before being Designated For Assignment, and who is already gone from the O’s organization. I’m talking about journeyman pitcher Edwin Jackson!

The Orioles were the 12th team Jackson has pitched for. When the O’s DFA’ed him, he declared free agency and signed a minor league contract with the Nationals… But if he makes it back to the Majors with the Nats, it won’t up his totals, because he pitched for the Nationals in 2012.

For the record his 12 teams (in order): Dodgers, Devil Rays/Rays (they transitioned while he was on the roster), Tigers, Diamondbacks, White Sox, Cardinals, Nationals, Cubs, Braves, Marlins, Padres, Orioles

Fernando Salas has already appeared in 36 games for the Mets and yet remains cardboard-free. I’m sure that’s nothing to do with his 6.00 ERA or 1.697 WHIP.

I would’ve created a custom for my TSR set, but I already had one made for my TSRchives set.

The final custom comes from a desire to have a design I could use for just about any purpose. I ultimately decided to revive my short-lived “TSR Fauxback” set from 2015. The design I came up with for 2017 is similar to my 2015 design in that it’s intentionally derivative as hell, but I can’t help shaking the feeling that I’ve subconsciously stolen it from somewhere.

Call it derivative, call it homage, call it plagiarism… Call it whatever, this is the 2017 TSR Fauxback design:

Rest in peace, Adam West.

Dollar Tree Very Pretty And The Dollar Flower Is Sweet…

…But the cards from the poor Dollar stink like Roger Clemens’ feet!

OK, that’s admittedly a little harsh.  While I was somewhat disappointed in the cards I got in a recent Dollar Tree excursion, it was largely my own fault.  Caveat Emptor and all that.

So here’s the deal.  There was recently a post over at The Five Tool Collector detailing the somewhat surprising success he had with cards from Dollar Tree.  I was inspired to check out the Dollar Tree near where I work, but they have no cards at all.  A few days later I was driving in another direction during my lunchbreak and I passed a Dollar Tree that I’d forgotten about because it’s only been open for a year or so.  Because I had other errands to run, I rushed through the purchase and neglected make sure that the repacks I wanted were from a company called Presstine.  The two repacks I bought were from another company and featured the kind of crap we all fear in a repack.

It wasn’t a complete waste, because I did get a couple of junk-waxy needs,  a couple of filler cards for some outgoing packages, plus a Tim Wallach card that goes in the “Someday I’ll send a PWE to the Tim Wallach guy” stack.

I also bought some unopened packs which were a lot more fun.

Before I get into the cards I got, I’m curious about something…  Is there anybody younger than I am – I’ll be 52 in the fall – who gets the reference made in the subject line?

I’ll start with the repacks.  I was relatively excited to pull a 1984 Donruss Oriole.  It’s funny, 1984 was all about Fleer for me, and I was largely “meh” about 84D, but now it’s like “The champagne of junk wax”.

Sadly, I already had this card.  Quelle dommage.

Speaking of Orioles, one of my favorite all-time O’s is Jeff Conine.  This card features him with the Marlins (pauses to spit on the ground), but it’s still a cool card of “Niner”.

A nice action shot of Mike Cameron, who was always fun to watch in the outfield.

This card is from the 1998 Score Rookie And Traded set… despite the fact that Cameron had not changed teams and this is not remotely close to being Cameron’s rookie card – he’d actually been in the 1997 and 1998 Score flagship sets.  Maybe the set should’ve been called “Rookie And Traded And Other Photos We Want To Get In A Set”.

This next card falls into the “audience participation” category.  From the back of the card, I could tell this wasn’t your run-of-the-mill 1989 Donruss card.

I went to COMC to see which 1989 Donruss set it’s from, and discovered it’s from the “Baseball’s Best” set.  I also discovered that the sole copy of it on COMC is from a seller who is notorious for selling commons for outrageous prices (although this one was priced at a low-for-him $1).  My question to you, my readers, is this:  Should I send this card in to COMC solely for the purpose of undercutting this disreputable seller?  It’s certainly not a high-demand card and I would price it solely to get my processing fee back, but I’ll admit I would take a not-insignificant amount of satisfaction if I were to stick it to this guy even just a little bit.  Whaddaya think?

Moving on to the packs.  I bought a single pack of 2015 Panini Americana just because.  I like the design of this set, but the checklist largely leaves me cold and the photos used aren’t always the greatest.  I got two cards of note, however.

I had a minor crush on Julie Gonzalo when she was on the now-forgotten TV show “Eli Stone”.  She’s better known for her roles in “Veronica Mars” and the rebooted “Dallas”.

Her Wikipedia page has a photo from the “2013 Monte Carlo Television Festival” which, judging from her outfit, was taken at the same time as this photo (and it’s a somewhat better photo).

I also got a die-cast jockey insert… three-time Kentucky Derby winner Calvin Borel (FYI, I scanned this with the scanner lid open in an attempt to bring out the die-cuttedness of it).

I saw Die-Cut Jockey when they opened for Barenaked Ladies in the mid-1990’s (Cue the Foghorn Leghorn audio clip – that’s a joke, I say, that’s a joke, son!).

The Dollar Tree also had some unopened packs which sold for a buck for each bag of two.  I bought two of these two-pack repacks.  Each bag contained a pack of 1994 Upper Deck World Cup Cards (English/Italian version), which were pretty cool.  One pack’s cards were so stuck together that I couldn’t separate them without significant card damage (and they ended up in the trash), but the other pack came out OK.  Here’s a card of Brazilian footballer Palhinha.

I didn’t know any of the players, but the photos were more interesting than in many of the more current soccer sets.

Another 2/$1 pack I got was 1992 ProSet Guinness Book Of Records, which is a neat concept but a lot of the cards didn’t translate well to 2.5″ x 3.5″.  Here’s the best of my pack.

“The world’s longest snake is the reticulated python of Southeast Asia, Indonesia and the Philppines, which regularly exceeds 20 feet, 6 inches in length”.

The last pack I got was from the 1994 Cardz “Jim Henson’s Muppets Take The Ice” mashup of everyone’s favorite Muppets and the NHL.  These are actually pretty fun cards, here’s my favorite from the pack:

The next time I pass this Dollar Tree, I’m going to see if they have any more of the Muppets and World Cup packs.  The rest I can do without (unless they get some of those Presstine repacks in).

In case you’re curious about the “Dollar Tree Very Pretty” reference, or if you just like Trini Lopez…  Full Disclosure:  Trini Lopez isn’t the original artist and may not have had the biggest hit version, but I think of Lemon Tree as being “his song”.

Fashionably Late COMC Black Friday #1: Baseball And Non-Sport

Now that everybody else has posted the cards they got from COMC during the Black Friday promotion, it’s my turn.  I just wanted to, you know, be polite and let everybody else go first.

Circumstances worked towards limiting my purchasing this time around.  I was a bit short on credit and a lot short on enthusiasm… You see, the promotion came right at the beginning of my bout of despair over the bloatedness and disorganization of my collection.  When you’re anguished over the state of your collection, it takes a lot of the wind out of “WTF” purchases.

…Which is not to say I didn’t get some cool stuff, just that I didn’t get as much stuff as usual.

Anyway, we’ll start and finish with a pair of non-sports cards I was particularly happy to get, and fill the middle in with baseball cards from 1970 and 2016.

First off is a card I’ve been meaning to get for quite a while; this card is from the 1953 Topps License Plates set.
These cards are smaller than standard, but they’re less small than I, for some reason, thought they were. They’re the standard 3.5″ wide, but only about 1.75″ high. I don’t see myself getting more than one or two of these, but I figured I should at least get a card representing the state in which my first three cars were registered.  I’m over 50 years old, but Black and orange NY plates like this are well before my time… They were blue with orange characters when I was a wee small child, orange with blue in the 1970’s into the 1980’s and then went through a number of changes after that involving white, blue and the Statue Of Liberty.

Here’s the back.  As everybody knows, the capital of New York State is ynablA.

I got a little curious about how much some of the stats on the back have changed over the past 63 years.  According to a US Census Bureau article I found from 2 years ago, NY State’s population was 19.7 million and fell to 4th in the list of most-populous states (behind California, Texas and Florida).  From a NYS DMV report from 2015, I found that the number of non-commercial vehicles for just New York City and Long Island is close to 4 million.  Statewide totals are close to 9.4 million.

Isn’t that fun?

OK, enough blathering about the license plate.  You’re looking for baseball, right?  I’ll start off with two 1970 cards… advance warning:  I don’t have much to say about these  two.

Blue Moon Odom, water towers and the sleeveless 1968 Oakland Athletics uniform… Although this is possibly the A’s wearing the previous year’s uniforms in 1969 spring training.


Matty Alou, a batting cage and that weird Pirates cap where the “P” is part a patch instead of embroidered directly on to the cap.


If you compare to “Alou” here with “Albany” on the license plate card back, you’ll see that they’re both the same font:  “Koffee”, for those keeping score at home.

One of my objectives on Black Friday was to get at least one card from the online exclusive 2016 Topps Archives Snapshots set. These cards intrigued me, I wasn’t quite sure what was going on with them. Like the regular Archives set, the photos are a mix of current and retired players. Unlike regular archives, these are meant to look sort of like a hand-labeled photo. I found this Michael Conforto for 44 cents, a price I couldn’t say ‘no’ to.
The photo is very high-res, but there’s not a whole lot about the card that is extraordinary. I think the retired players might be a lot more appealing to me… I’ve got an eye on the Oscar Gamble card which appears to feature the same photo used on his 1974 card.

The back is…largely superfluous. Well, that might be harsh. The back is the back. That’s a better way to put it.
Better than Panini but not winning any awards.

Another “dip my toe in the water” card was this 2016 Bowman “Turn Two” insert.  On the front of this card is Orioles pitching prospect Hunter Harvey, who’s also the son of former pitcher Bryan Harvey.
Here’s the side that’s technically the back; you can tell because it’s got the card number and legalese.  D.J. Stewart was the O’s 1st round pick from 2015.

D.J. stands for Demetrius Jerome.

Wrapping things up with the second non-sports card…

Topps issued a Star Trek set in 1976. During that year, I loved cards, I loved Star Trek, and it’s very clear to me that I never saw a single pack of these cards because there is absolutely no way I wouldn’t have bought at least one pack.


C’mon, I bought a couple of packs of “Welcome Back, Kotter” cards that same year. I wouldn’t spurn Spock for Arnold Horshack. (But I am amusing myself by picturing Spock holding his arm up and going “Ooh! Ooh! Mistah Kottah!  Mistah Kottah!”)

Yes, the Phaser is not yesterday’s weapon, it’s not today’s weapon, it’s tomorrow’s weapon. Make sure you’ve got that memorized, there’s a quiz on Friday.

I’m somewhat intrigued by the text at the bottom:  “Be sure to watch for the new Star Trek full length motion picture”.  In 1976, that motion picture was still 3 years away… and wasn’t worth waiting 3 years for.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved the holy hell out of it on opening night, but quickly realized that this excitement was almost completely fulfilled anticipation and very little having to do with the movie itself.  I saw it again a couple of months later in a second-run theater, and realized that it really was not a good movie.

So, that’s the first of three batches from COMC;  the other two are not what you’d normally expect from a baseball card blog written by someone in the U.S., and I’ll leave it at that for now.

My First “Rails And Sails” Card, Plus a “Train” Playlist

I had all kinds of hobbies when I was younger, and model trains was (sort of) one of them.  I say “sort of” because I loved to make plans of what my train layout would be like, I read magazines like Railroad Model Craftsman, I dreamed on my ideal  layout… but when push came to shove, I never did anything other than temporarily set up the tracks and play with my trains.

Similarly, I’ve always been semi-intrigued by the 1955 Topps “Rails And Sails” set… not so much the “sails” part, and I wasn’t really that interested in the cards that featured tank cars or refrigerator cars or cabooses or steam locomotives… Which pretty much means I’m only interested in the diesel locomotives.  Well, at a show a year ago (the “Forgotten Show”, for those who read my last post), I found this card, which may well end up being the only card I get from this set.


But if I’m only getting one, this is a fine one to get.  Here’s the back.


I don’t have a whole lot else to say about this, so I’ll fill out the rest of the post with a playlist consisting of songs about trains, subways and all things which ride on rails.

5:15 – The Who
500x (The Train Song) – Sara Hickman
A Poem On The Underground Wall – Simon and Garfunkel
Betting On Trains – Hem
Big Train (From Memphis) – John Fogerty
Canadian Railroad Trilogy – Gordon Lightfoot
Chattanooga Choo Choo – Glenn Miller
Choo Choo Ch’Boogie – Louis Jordan
Don’t Sleep In The Subway – Petula Clark
Engine 999 – The Hooters
Folsom Prison Blues – Johnny Cash
I Often Dream Of Trains – Robyn Hitchcock
If Love Was a Train – Michelle Shocked
I’ll Be Your Train – Health and Happiness Show
Kiss the Train – Sun-60
Last Train Home – Pat Metheny Group
Last Train To London – Electric Light Orchestra
Last Train – Travis
Long Train Runnin’ – The Doobie Brothers
Love Train – The O’Jays
Midnight Train To Georgia – Gladys Knight and The Pips
Midnight Train – One Plus Two
My Turn Train – Henry Lee Summer
Night Train – Oscar Peterson Trio
Night Train – Let’s Active (not the same song as the previous one)
One After 909 – The Beatles
Pain Train – The Guess Who
Peace Train – Cat Stevens
Railroad – The Zutons
Spanish Train – Chris deBurgh
Take the “A” Train – Duke Ellington and His Orchestra
The Blue Train – Linda Ronstadt
The El – Rhett Miller
Marrakesh Express – Crosby Stills and Nash
The Metro – Berlin
The Train Kept A Rollin’ – Aerosmith
The Train Song – Eddie From Ohio
The Uptown Train – Joe Jackson
Train in the Distance – Paul Simon
Train In Vain – The Clash
Train, Train – Blackfoot
Trains and Boats and Planes – Fountains Of Wayne (I like their version better than Dionne Warwick’s original)
Underground – Men At Work

Honorable mention (because I don’t like these songs quite enough and it’s my playlist):
Casey Jones – Grateful Dead
City Of New Orleans – Arlo Guthrie
Downbound Train – Bruce Springsteen
Hey, Porter – Johnny Cash
Orange Blossom Special – Johnny Cash
Son of an Engineer – Cowboy Mouth
Steel Rail Blues – Gordon Lightfoot
Texas and Pacific – Louis Jordan
Trans-Europe Express – Kraftwerk

I know there are countless songs that would also qualify… Hell, you could probably make a full playlist of train songs by Johnny Cash… But feel free to mention any of your favorites.

Culture Time: “A Goldsmith In His Shop” (This *IS* Baseball Related. Trust Me.)

I have a desk calendar from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.  I’d had some thoughts that it wouldn’t hurt for me to get all cultured up in 2016.

Yesterday’s calendar page featured this detail of a 15th century painting by Petrus Christus called “A Goldsmith In His Shop”:


My immediate reaction upon seeing the goldsmith (in red):  “Heh, it’s Justin Verlander!”

The woman on the left might be a 15th century Kate Upton, saying “Verily, kind goldsmith, thou didst get shafted in that Cy Young voting most foul!”

…and the gentleman in back is thinking “Sorry, dude… but  I would’ve given the Cy to Zach Britton…”

To further broaden your cultural horizons, I would like to share some additional examples of fine art…

This first piece is by R.G. Laughlin and is titled “Mets Amaze Baseball World”.
This, so far, is the only card I have from the 1971 Fleer World Series set. You can easily tell the difference between the 1970 and 1971 sets by the MLB logo and year on the card (1971), rather than the year inside a baseball (1970).

Next up is a fine example of portraiture by Dick Perez, circa 1983.
Perez was well known during that period for his series of popular “Diamond Kings” paintings.

Of the finer paintings commissioned by Topps in 2002 is this Ron Stark painting of Frank Robinson from his time with the Cincinnati Reds:
If the entire 2002 Topps Gallery set were like this, I would be enthusiastically working on a complete set, but too many of the paintings were full-length action shots which kind of minimize the appeal of paintings as opposed to photographs.

This final painting, one by Richard Sudell, was acquired not for it’s baseball connection, but for it’s relevance to a particular episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus (as well as the “Monty Python’s Previous Record” LP).

It’s from the 50-card “Garden Flowers” series created by Wills’ Cigarettes in 1939… It’s one of the oldest trading cards I own… and it features…

If you’re not into Monty Python, this will likely result in a shrug on your part.

If you are a fan of Python, then join in as I sing…
Dennis Moore, Dennis Moore, Riding through the night
Soon every lupin in the land will be in his mighty hand
He steals them from the rich, and gives them to the poor
Mister Moore! Lupin donor… Extra-or…….dinary

And with that, we conclude this edition of Culture Time. Don’t you feel so much better for the experience?

That’s what I thought.