Saturday, December 31, 2016

Christmas Swag

It's been a super busy month and with my scanner on the fritz posts have been few and far between.  That said this will be my 100th for the year, a new high for posts in a year.  Christmas was good as always and Santa Claus brought goodies.  The complete WKRP series on DVD and the classic Star Wars Black 6" Stormtrooper were both on my list of gifts I wanted this year.  WKRP has long been a favorite of mine so I'm excited to be able to watch this great series once again.  I love the Hasbro Star Wars Black 6" series of action figures but started too late to have this one in my collection so it was a must have.  Stormtroopers are my favorite character from the movies.
Santa Claus made a surprise visit two days later in the form of two more figures from the Star Wars Rogue One movie - K-2SO and the Death Trooper.  I saw the movie and loved it so these were must haves.  I also nabbed a box of the Topps 65th Anniversary cards which I hope to review soon.  I hope Santa Claus was good to everyone. Have a safe and happy new year.   

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Star Wars: Rogue One Movie (SPOILERS ALERT)

Loved it.  Star Wars: Rogue One was a great movie.  All the twenty somethings in the family loved it as well.  As the first Star Wars Movie that doesn't revolve around the characters of the original six movies I thought they knocked it out of the park. It is action packed and has the look and feel of a classic Star Wars movie.  It revolves around how the rebels captured the Death Star plans which leads into Star Wars:  A New Hope.  Along the way there are plenty of surprises especially in who we see in the movie as well where the movie takes us and how it ties into the original trilogy. While we all know who it ends getting there is the fun part. The different characters introduced are great and fit right into the Star Wars universe. 

SPOILERS AHEAD: I loved all the reference to the other movies and inclusion of different characters.  You'll see Bail Organa return, Mon Mothma as well as other rebel leaders, while seeing Governor Tarkin and Princess Leia (the biggest reveal).  There are others as well to include rebel pilots and C-3PO and R2-D2.  You'll hear "It's a trap" and "I have a bad feeling about this" uttered as well.  Some of A New Hope is explained as we find out that lead character Jyn Erso's father built in the Death Star's fatal flaw as a way to get back at the Empire.  It was tough getting attached to the characters knowing that they may all die in the end (and they did) but it was for the greater good and lent more importance to what they ultimately accomplished. 

I really enjoyed this movie.  The somber tone underscores how it is different from others but it does a great job telling it's story which is important to the entire Star Wars franchise.  In fact it literally hands you off to A New Hope as we see Princess Leia escape in her ship Tantive IV from the climactic battle right before what we know will be her capture but Darth Vader at the beginning of A New Hope.  Good stuff and everyone should go see this movie. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Look Back at NBA Player Reggie Theus

Reggie Theus is one of those guys not many folks will remember unless you saw him play during his career and even then I doubt many will be that familiar with his career.  I though, have always been a fan and rank him in my top 5 favorite players of the NBA.  He was a combo guard who played 13 seasons from 1978 to 1991 averaging 18.5 points and 6.3 assists per game while shooting 47% on his career and could get to the free throw line.  He had a solid career making the all-rookie team as well as two all-star teams.  He didn’t get a ton of headlines but played well averaging 20+ points per game four times (high of 23.8 in 82-83) and was top 10 in assists per game three times.

He played 5 ½ seasons for the Chicago Bulls and was traded away a year prior to Michael Jordan being drafted.  He has stated publicly “what if he had remained with the Bulls”.  Things definitely might have been different for him.  Would he have worked in that offense would be a big question but he could play the point well and might have been able to coexist with MJ.  In Chicago he made the playoffs once getting past the first round only to be swept in the second round.  If he had been there for the Jordan era he might have been a big part of that run.   
His next five seasons with the Kansas City/Sacramento Kings he played very well though the team only made the playoffs two years never making it past the first round.  He was a much better passer and was again a consistent scorer.  From there he played one season each for Atlanta, New Jersey and Orlando.  Theus was consistent throughout his career averaging 18 points per game for four of the five teams he played with (he average 15 for Atlanta).  His shooting was steady as he shot 47% over his career and only had two years where he shot below 46% while shooting never shooting above 49%.  He never really shot threes averaging one per game.  He was durable playing in 82 games eight times with five of those being his first five seasons in the league.  He also played 81 games in his final season.  

None of this will probably excite many people.  For whatever reason I grabbed on Reggie Theus as a player.  Maybe it was the look.  I always thought of him as the Billy D. Williams of the NBA and he actually did act mostly in TV series but I kid.  I’ve said it before.  You never know what players you’ll key in on in sports.  Some guy nobody else looks at twice or obscure players.  I seem to have many of those and enjoy looking back at their careers here.  

Friday, November 18, 2016

Gregg Popovich and How I Felt Back Then

This year is the 20 year anniversary of Gregg Popovich taking over the Spurs’ head coaching duties. At the time he was the team’s general manager and I remember how I thought this was such a raw deal.  Then Coach Bob Hill was off to a 3-15 start that year but he was also coming off two seasons in which the Spurs had won 62 and 59 games respectively.  He was no slouch.  In 1996-1997 the team also dealt with a ton of injuries to include star David Robinson.  It just didn’t seem right nor sit well with me then.  I thought it was a bush league move but obviously Popovich was smarter than we all thought.

And the rest is history right?  With Robinson out the bulk of the year they were 17-47 under Popovich but won the lottery and the right to choose Tim Duncan.  What a coup that was.  The franchise never looked back and won five championships in the 20 years that have passed.  Just shows you that you just don’t know.  I love what they have done and how they’ve done it.  A model franchise.  Here’s to ya Pop.     

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Review

I'll try to stay away from spoilers but no I'll throw the SPOILER ALERT in right here just in case.  So I saw Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them at the 6 o'clock showing in town.  We are a small town so there were only about 12 folks in the theater even though it was the first showing.  I liked it.  My 21 year-old daughter got me into the movies when she was younger.  I was still a little late to the party probably starting with the third movie.  I quickly caught up and also read all the books.  I am a fan of the Harry Potter movies and books so I've been waiting for this.  Just watching the trailer you knew Beasts would be different.  Even knowing that the first half our of the movie is tough because you find yourself yearning for a Harry Potter movie.  This isn't Harry Potter.  Once you get past that you'll enjoy the movie.  Even so you'll always being comparing this one to the originals.  So go in with the right attitude. The movies does a decent job setting up the wizard world in New York set some 70 years before Harry Potter.  Looks like this will be the backdrop for what is to come in the sequels. 
So the main character, Newt, shows up in New York with a suitcase full of Fantastic Beasts.  Some escape and mayhem ensues.  The local wizarding government already has their hands full with something that is wreaking havoc and is being witnessed by the nomaj's (word for muggles in the U.S.).  So adding mystical animals into an already chaotic picture is not a good thing for our heroes.  How they all merge is a little contrived but it is rare that movies of this ilk don't make you just have to go with it at some point.  Newt and his new lady friend, her sister and an unsuspecting nomaj who is caught up in the hijinks are at the center of the story.  In the end they are able to save the day and everything is great again for the most part.  I thought many of the threads make the tone of the movie more adult'ish.  Again this isn't Harry Potter. 
The different beasts are good but to be honest they seemed to take up too much screen time for me.  A lot of just following the main characters around as they chased animals as opposed to developing a story more. There is also a ton of interaction with the nomaj who must have their memory's wiped daily (sarcasm).  I also would have liked a few more spells and wand action.  All that said I liked the movie.  I was definitely into it more at the end than at the beginning but I've explained why that was the case.  Any Harry Potter fan has to see this movie just to see this other world that is so different from what we are used to.  I think I have read there are like 5 sequels in the works.  So watch the move and get ready for more.  I can't wait to hear what others think so I'll be checking out the other reviews in the coming days.

My Uber Experience

Last week we were in Baltimore for a number of days.  While there we used Uber.  We are from a small town so this was my first exposure to the service while my wife had used it on multiple trips before.  The thought of “random” folks picking you up in their car to take me somewhere has never appealed to me but I was pleasantly surprised.  Every vehicle was clean and each driver had no issues getting us where we were going (they all use GPS).  We were also picked up in a reasonable amount of time.  Conversations were easy.  So overall it was a no stress deal.  None of our trips were very long which might have helped.  The app was easy to use.  It spelled out who our driver was (to include their picture), the make/model of the car, license plate and we could even follow them as they travelled to our location.  With the app money is preloaded into your account so there is no need for cash to help allay fears over carrying money around.

The drivers themselves were an eclectic group with none having done Uber more than six months.  Among them a couple were immigrants, one a worker from Baltimore who had time on his hands (holiday), and a gal with a broken foot just to point out a few.  All were pleasant to deal with.  I was surprised to find out some have driven people to other cities like Philadelphia or Washington D.C.  I realize those cities are fairly close but wow. 

So overall this is a service I recommend.  Like with anything though it is worth doing your homework.  I’m sure there are those out there with different experiences which may help you make a decision on using the service.  While Uber is somewhat new it seems to be fairing ok so far after some initial backlash.  Just thought I’d share my experiences for anyone who isn’t familiar with Uber or had questions.    



Wednesday, November 16, 2016

I Visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Last week, we also visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.  Another fun time.  It doesn’t quite stand up to the Pro Football Hall of Fame but is great none the less.  It has the feel of a rock hall of fame from the music to the lighting and even the smell.  The building is a site and is pretty cool in of itself.  The hall starts at the beginning bringing you up to the present with all the greats throughout the years.  There were many early artists I wasn’t familiar with but it is always fun to learn more of the history.  There are also video displays throughout which I enjoyed as well as the different outfits, historic artifacts and fun bits of history.  A great place to visit with lots of fun to be had.  I’ve thrown up some random pictures of different displays that caught my fancy – the ZZ Top car was definitely the highlight for me.   
The Hall

ZZ Top

Me with Metallica

The Doors
Metallica Set Props

Not sure why they had a display but hey I wasn't going to pass up taking a picture.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

I Visited the Pro Football Hall of Fame

Cool "locker room" where they had a holographic Joe Namath speak to you.
Last week, we were able to hit one of the destinations we’ve talked about visiting forever – the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  We had a great time.  We drove from Southern Illinois to Canton, OH and visited the next day.  It was a Sunday which is ironic because I was missing all the football games but it was worth it.  I’ve thrown up some pictures of various displays throughout the Hall.  There are just too many things I could go into detail about but I won’t bore you. 

The great Kenny "The Snake" Stabler - One of this year's inductees.
Overall it was very inviting and pleasant.  The folks that work there are very nice. It is quiet and very easy to go at your own pace or direction without intervention.  I didn’t realize the Hall is a non-profit organization which I liked hearing for no real good reason.  There were many different types of displays and presentations to include some done by presenters, videos in small theaters as well as an actual holographic video in a locker room setup.  We spend about five hours there which included a fair amount of time in the gift shop which doesn’t disappoint.  I couldn’t recommend this experience more.  It was very fun and as a lifetime NFL fan it is a must see if you ever get the opportunity.   
My man crush Brady - notice the angelic look...

Loved Doug Williams.

Bills' great Jim Kelly.

A few from the hall of busts including OJ, Staubach and Joe Namath.
Falcons' great Claude Humphrey (w/Ali in the picture).

Sweet Roger Staubach locker setup.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Chicago Cubs Win World Championship!

A little late on this one but it has been a very busy month.  Cubs win the World Series!  Whoever thought they’d be able to say that in their lifetime?  I didn’t have a rooting interest in either team but was very happy that the teams with the longest droughts were facing off against each other.  In that sense I couldn’t be happier for the Cubs fans.  I’ve been lucky enough to watch Boston and Atlanta each win championships.  But waiting for those opportunities is horrible and nobody has waited longer than the Cubs.  And they did it in great fashion with a fantastic comeback. 

You have to feel for the Cleveland Indians fans.  They were so close and unlike the Cubs don’t necessarily look to be locks to make it back to the World Series next year.  Still it was a great year for them.  I have to admit about ¾ of the way through the season I had to look up their lineup because I really didn’t know who 90% of their starters were.  Terry Francona really did a good job managing this team through their injuries to get them as far as he did. 
Really this was a win for all baseball fans.  Again two teams and fan bases who had suffered so long deserved their day in the sun.  In the process they gave us a great World Series.  And it was tough to dislike Cubbie fans when they had suffered so long.  But now the gloves are off.  Others can now give them all kinds of grief as the Chicago fans revel in their newly found Championship.  Congratulations Cubs. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

I Voted!

I actually voted early this year as I'm on the road.  I will agree with the majority and just say voting for President this time out was more painful than a root canal.  Doesn't matter.  I voted.  I won't let an election go by without voting no matter how tough it is.  I do hope we can get back to normalcy with the next election.  I've been appalled at what we've seen from both Presidential candidates this year.  I won't get preachy but I do hope everyone else took time to vote no matter who they voted for. 

Monday, October 24, 2016

2016-17 Atlanta Hawks Season Preview

The Atlanta Hawks had a great year in 2015-2016 culminating in an ugly sweep at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.  In the playoffs their lack of depth showed as did the fact they were moving away from Jeff Teague at point guard.  In the offseason Teague was traded, Al Horford signed with the Boston Celtics and the Hawks signed hometown hero Dwight Howard to a $23M a year contract. 
Losing Horford hurts.  An undersized center he was more to the team than the 15 and 7 he put in the stat sheet each night last year.  While most Hawks fans would echo that sentiment it may or not be overstated.  Enter Dwight Howard.  While there have been rumors in past Howard free agent years of the Hawks making a run at him I didn’t see this coming.  Howard is now 30 and while very efficient shooting he only put up 13 points and 11 boards last year while continuing to “struggle” in Houston.  He is a defensive upgrade but definitely one dimensional on offense which might clog up the middle.  My hope is that this is the right system for him and that he can be better than what we’ve seen in the recent past. Paul Milsap will once again be counted on for big things on both ends of the floor.  In his free agent year I’m hoping he can mesh with the new look offense and maybe want to stick around longer.  I was slow getting on his band wagon but he is good and been a key to the Hawks’ success.  If the Howard acquisition doesn’t work or other players don’t step up he could be looking to move on come this next offseason.  

Running the team now at the point is up and comer Dennis Shroder.  He showed last year in the playoffs he has more to offer.  Can he do it consistently is the question.  I can’t wait to find out.  He must shoot consistently and be able to control turnovers with the extended minutes he’ll get.  Kent Bazemore signed a big deal in the offseason totaling $70M over 4 years.  That shows Atlanta believes he can be more of a scorer than the 11 points a game he put up last year – the only time he has scored double digits for a season in his career.  Small forward is his and with the need for scoring I’m hoping he can put up 15+ every night but that is a lot to ask for.  Shooting guard is still Kyle Korver’s.  I’ve said it over and over - he isn’t a scorer.  That said, he can shoot from three like nobody’s business.  I think he is better suited coming off the bench sharing time with both units.

Newly drafted wings Taurean Prince and DeAndre’ Bembry will be expected to help with scoring which is the big need for the Hawks.  Thabo Safolosha is back from injury as is Tiago Splitter.  Mike Scott and Kris Humphries will be depth at power forward.  This all gives Atlanta much more depth than they had last year.  How good they are coming off the bench will go a long way in deciding how good this team really is. 

Atlanta is very good.  Not great but very good in the Eastern Conference.  With the changes made, players back from injuries, and new young blood it is easy to think Atlanta will be better than their 48 wins last year.  It can also be thought there are too many new moving parts and something in the machine is bound to fail.  I’m in the middle thinking they can win 45-48 games and will again be in the middle of the pack.  It just seems like way too many things have to go just right for this team to be much better.  I’ve got my fingers crossed but something in the back of my head just isn’t sold yet. 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Battle for the 1985-1986 NBA Scoring Title As Only I'll Remember It

Dominique Wilkins (Atlanta Hawks)
The 1985-1986 NBA season saw one of the best battles for a scoring title.  Dominique Wilkins, in his fourth year in the league, beat out fellow hall of famers Adrian Dantley and AlexEnglish for the only scoring title of his career.  This is something that stands out in my fandom for two reasons.  First, Nique is my all-time favorite basketball player.  Second I was a junior in high school and in my English class I had to write in a journal every morning.  The instructor, a basketball coach, wasn’t picky about what we wrote about but we had to write something in coherent English.  I wrote every day for two weeks about the battle for the scoring title.  My teacher liked what I wrote and said he could tell I was a big fan.  

To the battle itself.  During the last week of the season the players were within a point of each other.  It was definitely something that could go one way or another depending on an injury or particularly bad or good game.  Dominique stepped up and average 39 points per game over his last six games while Dantley and English averaged 32 and 29 over the same timeframe respectively.   This included a 57 point effort against the New Jersey Nets.  While this is a blip in NBA history, it was huge to me.  I was at my peak of NBA fandom as was the NBA itself.  Boston won the championship that year while Larry Bird won MVP.  I was 17 and had started watching in 1979 at the pivotal time in league history that ushered in Magic Johnson  and then Larry Bird.  Basketball was it to me in the eighties. 

For some reason this memory has always stuck with me.  I lived in a small town in New Mexico and I can’t remember exactly how I got all my information.  It would have had to have been via ESPN or maybe the USA Today.  The other option was reading the local paper the next day but I don’t remember them running box scores though they might have had small write-ups of each game.  No matter, it was exciting to me.  I have always loved Dantley and English as well and to have three great scorers battling it out in such a manner was fun.  You just never know what memories will stick out when you think back to different times in your life of fandom.   
Adrian Dantley (Utah Jazz)

Alex English (Denver Nuggets)

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Final Girls Movie

It is that time of the year for horror and scary movies.  This weekend we saw The Final Girls movie.  I really, really enjoyed this movie as did the rest of the family.  It is a comedy but with all the horror elements you are used to while not being an actual slasher flick.  The twist is a group of teens are transported into the 1980's cult movie "Camp Bloodbath".  Now these characters must deal with being in a movie in which they know what happens next.  The interactions with the movie characters is funny and fun.  If you are at all a fan of the genre or want a good comedy I think you'll like this movie.  It is different from the typical movies out there and also has some serious tones that help make this film so likable. Just watch it.  I'd love to hear what others think.  (2015 - Rated PG-13)      

Monday, October 10, 2016

2016 Panini Absolute Football Cards

2016 Panini Absolute Football Cards - Grabbed a pack of these cards.  They were $4.99 for 20 cards.  I little on the expensive side for me but I was pleasantly surprised.  I always prefer the cards with regular photos and backgrounds but I like these.  Just something about them draws me in. 
The backs are nice too.  Nothing spectacular but they are colorful and have a nice design to me. 
The two inserts I grabbed were a Red Zone and Unsung Heroes card.  All the rest were base cards.  Still the base cards had plenty of stars so I walked away happy.  Again nice cards and I will search out singles from this set. 

20 - Total Cards
18 - Base Cards
1 - Red Zone
1 - Unsung Heroes

Flea Market Sports Card Finds

Can't say no to Dr. J and the fro nor could I to a Seth Curry card. 
Visited a local flea market a few months back.  It isn't near a large city so it is mostly small town stuff but I was pleasantly surprised to find a guy selling cards.  I only picked up a few and didn't pay much of anything for the lot but found some players I like. 

Don't pass up LeBron cards when I get the chance.
All-time Fave Yaz and Paul Molitor