A Project Of Optimism

We all have a story like this. It may not involve Baseball Cards but we all have a similar tale. I know this because I’ve learned that it’s just how human nature works. We all have a certain level of optimism about the things we WANT to work out. I’ve experienced some crushing blows with the UGA and Falcons losses this past week but before those games, I had the highest of hopes. I envisioned parades, trips to conference championships and more. And not in a big mouth, conceited kind of way. You just have really high hopes when you have the potential to win big. You know the road can be tough, there is a lot of faith involved and some of it is just plain luck; but when you really want something to be, it can take a lot out of you when it doesn’t materialize.

I’ve learned that nothing is a sure thing and until something actually happens or someone proves they are what you expect them to be, you have to be ready for anything. There are so many layers to this too. Surely we all had “that girl” (or boy) at some point as kids that we thought was the one. We were just kids but every girl I called my girlfriend fit that description. I went all in and fully invested because Girl X would be the one that I would be with for the next 75 years. But then, somewhere along the way, I saw enough of her to start to wonder if this really was the one or not. Sometimes, they wondered if I was the one first. But the cycle was always the same. We met, we fell in love, we lived only for each other and then, the relationship went bust. That’s when I would look back and say, “what was I thinking” but it was always too late.

There are a lot of things we see and think could be amazing but simply turn out to be entries into our “crash and burn” memoirs. Anybody remember the NES Power Glove? Yeah, Kelly Kapowski couldn’t even save this abysmal product. This was supposed to change gaming forever but all it did was make me long for the days of the Power Pad. It was virtually impossible to play a video game with the controller on one of your arms. But it had so much promise! I wanted it to work out so badly that I gave it more chances to fail than I normally would have any other toy or game at the time. It was just brutal.

Let’s talk about Caddyshack II for a minute. Was there a better opportunity for a great sequel in the comedy genre in the 80’s? I can do a whole separate post about terrible sequels but the original Caddyshack remains one of the funniest movies in the history of cinema and deserved a better follow up. I just KNEW it was going to be awesome and marked it down as a sure thing. But when you replace Rodney Dangerfield with Jackie Mason and remove Bill Murray from a movie cast, you just can’t expect it to be as good as the first. My heart hurts a little when I happen to catch CS II on the tube nowadays. How could something that was destined to be so right turn out so wrong?

Then you have some things that start out blazing and even have a reasonable enough run that you get sucked in more than usual. Notwithstanding the 2017 UGA Bulldogs (which I still love) in that particular scenario, think about Guns N Roses. They put out pure gold when they released Appetite for Destruction in 1987. They gave us such gems as “Paradise City”, “Welcome to the Jungle” and “Sweet Child Of Mine” but by 1990, they were kicking guys out of the band, showing up late for gigs or just not showing up altogether. What could have been a magical run as one of the best rock bands ever was derailed by narcissism, greed and hard drugs; or more simply put, the 80’s!

So where am I going with this? You know it always ties into my sports card addiction and this is no exception. I’ve started a new personal project that is related to this premise of Optimism Bias. I started collecting in the late 80’s and there were players that we all had to have and pulling them from folded up wax wrappers was the first step of retirement planning at 10. During that time, the illustrious Junk Wax Era as it’s so lovingly referred to, we firmly believed that these 3×5 pieces of cardboard were going to make us rich. We coveted certain cards like some would bitcoins today. All we needed were toploaders and time and we would be set for life.

Well, like many of the above examples, that didn’t really work out as planned either. A big reason is because the card market was more saturated than any early teen could understand or even be aware of. We didn’t know that there were 10 billion Ken Griffey Jr ’89 Donruss Rated Rookies floating around. What we did know was that Beckett Monthly was our version of Jim Cramer’s “Mad Money” and if it was on the hot list, we were investing! Another reason the financial planning hit a Cecil Fielder sized bump in the road was that most of the players didn’t pan out. That’s the reason I’m more focused on with this project.

With the help of my Twitter buddy Nick (@vossbrink), I’ve dubbed this project “Dated Rookies” and I’m off to a pretty solid start. Nick even put together this sweet logo that matches the “Rated Rookie” found on Donruss in the 80’s. I think the name is perfect and appreciate Nick for the idea. The goal of this project is to collect autographed cards of all the players I just had to have when I was a kid. These were the players that would win big and become as valuable as the ’52 Mantle. Oh, Dub was an eternal optimist when it came to cardboard. There are no real parameters set beyond that at the moment but as the project evolves I might tighten up the requirements. Right now, I’m not worried about what Card is autographed or what jersey the player has but as I branch out to multiple autographs, I may focus on the hot card designs that I had to have when the players were hot.

The player list will probably grow over time as well and some players will be more difficult to obtain than others. Luckily, some of the bigger names from those days are coming back in Topps Archives or some similar set and it is easier to add them. I’m not limiting this to baseball either, but that’s where I have started. There are quite a number of football and basketball players that fit the description of “Dated Rookie” from those days as well. I’m a guy who likes projects because they give me goals and make me feel accomplished as I reach them. That’s part of the fun of being a set builder. So I thought this would be a fun challenge that would look great when I was done. Let’s go over some of the cards I’ve started with and you’ll understand the premise pretty clearly.

Jim Abbott was a pitcher for 10 years in the majors despite the fact that was missing his right hand. He actually pitched a no hitter in 1993 and had a reasonable career but his rookie Cards never took off like I thought they would. He finished his career with an 87-108 career record, a 4.25 ERA and less than 1,000 K’s so he wasn’t a statistical monster by any stretch. But I always admired Abbott and stocked up on all of his rookies.

Sandy Alomar Jr was not exactly a bust but he wasn’t even the best Alomar in baseball at the time. He played a robust 20 year career and hit for a .273 average but with only 112 home runs. He won both AL ROY and a Gold Glove in 1990 so his cards were hot but his card values always fell a little short. I still have Alomar as a top 3 catcher from my collecting youth but he’s not making many lists in 2018 with collectors.

Eric Anthony is one of the players that I went after hard! I had a ton of these Score rookies as well as the 90 Donruss Rated Rookies. Even though Anthony played 9 seasons, he did not have a career that will ever equate to Hobby Love. He hit for a career .231 average, never hit 20 home runs, never had double digit steals and never topped 80 RBI in a season. All of my wishful thinking was for naught. He was a home run crusher in the minors with 31 in 1989 and his first MLB Hit was a 414 foot bomb in the Astrodome. But he never put it all together.

Every collector worth his salt knows the name Gregg Jefferies. As this project grows, I will make it a point to find a 1989 Topps Future Star Autograph. That was the first card that was going to make me rich. Ken Griffey Jr wasn’t quite there yet and Jefferies was as sure a bet as ever. After being drafted in 1985, he won Minor League POY in both ’86 and ’87 before being called up in late August 1988. He hit .328 for the remainder of 1988, which led to the Mets trading their starting 2B, Wally Backman, to the Twins to make room for the young star. He responded by hitting .258 in 1989 and the rest is history. He had a career that was probably better than most on this list with a career .289 avg, 196 steals and 2 All-Star appearances. But his career was supposed to be better than all the guys on this list. It was just supposed to be a lot better than it actually was.

This is the guy that makes me unable to trust Aaron Judge. While Judge put up mammoth numbers that make Maas look like Rafael Belliard, Kevin had his own amazing rookie season in 1990. He set a record for reaching 10 home runs in the fewest at bats (72) and ultimately hit 21 home runs in only 79 games as a rookie. For you mathematicians out there, that is a home run every 3+ games which, when extrapolated over a full season, would be about 45. He played 148 games the next year and hit 23 home runs but his 5 year career would close with a .230 average and only 65 home runs. It sure was fun collecting him in 1990 though!

Big Ben McDonald was one of the hot young arms in Baltimore with Curt Schilling and Gregg Olson. He won a Gold Medal as a member of the 1988 Olympic Team in Seoul, Korea and is an inductee in the College Baseball Hall of Fame. But his major league career did not meet the expectations of a young Dub who was hoarding his 1990 Fleer rookie cards. I expected more than his 78-70 record but he just didn’t get it done.

Another Yankee makes the early list with Hensley “Bam Bam” Meulens. You may be too young to even remember Bam Bam from the Flintstones but he carried a wooden club around and smashed things with it. Thus, Meulens was nicknamed Bam Bam because of his propensity to smash things. In 1990, Kevin Maas was at 1B and Bam Bam was at 3rd and I had yet to fully develop my hatred for the Evil Empire. In 1987, he hit .300 with 28 home runs and 103 RBI at Single A so he was a hot commodity when his cards started getting produced a couple years later. Not only did he never hit .300 or 28 home runs or 103 RBI in a major league season, his career totals never reached those numbers either. He mustered a .220 avg, 15 home runs and 53 RBI over 4 years with the Yankees.

I’m going to add Planier in a Red Sox jersey at some point but this one is a start. I do like Plantier’s autograph as it puts many players today to shame. Plantier finished 8th in ROY voting in 1991 despite only playing 53 games. But in 148 at bats, he hit 11 bombs while maintaining a .331 average. After a disappointing follow up in 1992, he was sent to the Padres. He had a very nice season in 1993 hitting 34 bombs and collecting 100 RBI but that was as good as it ever got by a long shot. He would only have one other double digit home run season and wouldn’t hit more than 41 RBI again either. After a promising start, he finished his career with an average of .243 and 91 home runs.

Here is the pitcher that helped provide Braves fans the wonderful career of Chipper Jones. He was drafted 14th overall in 1990 and the Braves were so bad, Van Poppel said he would not sign with them if they chose him. They didn’t choose him and instead drafted Chipper Jones. They would then go on and win 14 straight division titles. What did Van Poppel do? He put together a career shorter than the Braves run (11 seasons) and finished with a career 40-52 record along with a 5.58 ERA. I was in on him as a rookie and his 90 Upper Deck is a classic but I’m grateful he didn’t like my Braves that year.

Greg Vaughn was a home run blaster for the Brewers and a mainstay in my binder in the early 90’s. He really had a serviceable career but he was the #4 overall pick in 1986 and had high expectations placed in him. He was a 4x All-Star, hit 355 home runs and even won a Silver Slugger award in 1998. He also hit 50 home runs in 1998 but was overshadowed by a couple guys named McGwire and Sosa. He never hit for an average, finishing with a career number of .242 but he also clubbed over 1,000 RBI. He was a very solid home run hitter in the 90’s but is mostly a forgotten man in the Hobby today.

Ole Jerome Walton was quite the tease. The Cubs were on my TV every day thanks to WGN and Walton was somebody I got to see often. He won the ROY in 1989 by hitting .293 and stealing 24 bases in only 116 games. He even had a 30 game hitting streak that season. Together with Dwight Smith, a future addition to Dated Rookies, the youth movement in Chicago, along with veterans André Dawson, Ryne Sandberg, Shawon Dunston and Mark Grace was supposed to translate into big things and they did win the NL East in 1989. But like Walton’s career, they dropped off in 1990. Walton would settle into a career backup role and only muster 25 home runs and 58 stolen bases while hitting .269.

The last player on the list for this first installment is Todd Zeile. Zeile’s career finished better than most on this list but didn’t match the hype that came with his rookie cards. He played 16 seasons and hit for a .265 average to go along with 253 home runs and 1,110 RBI. He topped 30 home runs and 100 RBI just once in that 16 year career and never touched .300. He had a good but not great career but I had a ton of his rookie cards and was hoping that they would one day give me a shot at early retirement. It was not to be and his career highlight for me will always be his appearance on Seinfeld.

So that is how this project starts. I have some players that I am on the lookout for like Dwight Smith, Felix Jose, Ramon Martinez, Dante Bichette, Percy Snow, André Ware, Jeff George, Rumeal Robinson, and countless others. This list will probably be long and might eventually blur the lines of bust and serviceable but rookies in the late 80’s and early 90’s are what got me into the Hobby and kept me here. I do know that this won’t be one of the easier projects I’ve undertaken because there is no set checklist and some of these players may never have authentic autographs in products. But that’s what makes it fun, right? Like the other examples here, I’m going into this with great optimism that I’ll accomplish my goal. And when I do, maybe I’ll have my own little parade much like the one I dreamt of when I thought UGA would beat Alabama a week ago.

J-Dub

Retro Review – A Super Rookie Wishlist

I think I have sufficiently established here at DubMentality that 1989 was likely the greatest year ever. The movies were stellar, the music was rockin’, video games were 8-bit dream weavers and Sports Cards were catching fire! I’ve said it before but it bears repeating; if I could go back to any one year and live it over and over, it would be 1989. I’ve covered that great year from a ton of different angles but now it’s the Christmas season so there’s really only one way to approach this post; the 1989 Sears Wishbook!

Everyone who is over the age of 30 likely remembers the Sears Wishbook. This 600 page publication had just about everything your heart could desire. Kids loved this book but now that I have a couple kids of my own, I can imagine that parents didn’t get the same enjoyment from it. I found the 1989 book online and was able to sift through the entire 683 pages. It brought back some great memories but one thing that stuck out to me was how expensive some of the items were some 28 years ago. If they seem expensive now, imagine how that felt in 1989 currency!

For example, can you believe that VCR’s in 1989 were as much as $300? You can buy 8-10 BlueRay players for $300 today. You had to rewind tapes and constantly adjust tracking on your VCR too! I do remember these old sports videos though and they were certainly worth the $15 price tag.

You had to have a TV to watch those videos on as well. I’m pretty sure we actually had the middle TV when I was a kid. This is a 27 inch TV for $750! Computer monitors are bigger than 27 inches now. But these were top of the line in 1989.

And what about communications? A normal corded phone would run you anywhere from $50-$100. If you wanted a cordless, it would cost upwards of $125! For the fun loving teen, there was also the Garfield phone for $50. I’m going to guess that this phone outsold all other designs throughout the course of history.

If you wanted personal music, that was going to cost you as well. Some of these Walkman’s were over $100! We are talking about cassette playing, wired headphones, AM/FM devices that cost a Benjamin. I totally feel for my parents and what I probably put them through.

Video games were certainly more important to me back then than VCR’s. And for half the price of a VCR, you could own the sweet Nintendo Entertainment System. No piece of technology has ever been more important to me throughout the course of my life. And just look at these games; Friday the 13th, Marble Madness, Double Dribble, Excitebike and Tecmo Bowl! I really think time could have stood still in 1989 and I would have been just fine.

There were other choices in 1989 for video game consoles but I was a couple years away from the 16-bit Sega and had outgrown the Atari.

If you wanted your gaming on the go, you could opt for the GameBoy. I played it a ton but I actually never owned a GameBoy of my own. I never really wanted one all that bad but I did enjoy the occasional playing of my friends games.

Some people were lucky enough to even have a computer. This Commodore wasn’t much more costly than the Nintendo but that didn’t include the monitor and the mouse. If you wanted those necessities, you were approaching $500. And you certainly had to have the disk drive, which was another $200. By the time you threw in the printer, you were looking at a $1,000 setup. The games were pretty awesome though!

For the gamer on a budget, you could always go with these gems. I had several different baseball and football handhelds during my youth.

When I had to put down the video games and actually go outside and play, I would throw baseballs at my pitch return. I threw at that net for hours on end and learned just as much about fielding as I did pitching.

I always wanted one of these pool tables as well but the closest I ever got was the small pool table in the picture. This wasn’t the easiest table to navigate but I remember playing quite a few games on it.

Then there was the clothing. Pajamas and Sweatsuits were my go to choices back in the day. The Nintendo sweatsuit was pretty sweet. And the team pajamas were pretty awesome too.

I’m pretty sure I had one of these get ups as well but it was UGA. I think there is a picture floating around somewhere with me wearing it. Maybe I’ll find that one day.

And of course, I had a couple of pairs of the sweatpants with the team names down the leg. I had some bicycle shorts too but they weren’t Lakers design.

I had to include this because who didn’t love a great sleeping bag. I remember taking mine to spend the night parties and zipping myself up in it to get all cozy. My daughter sleeps in her sleeping bag now in her bed so kids must still like them.

Finally, for the collectors out there, Sears offered some pretty sweet sports card deals. They had the exclusive Sears Ingots, which I bought at a recent card show(’85 version). They also had “Talking Baseball”, Baseball Star Pop Ups, the Baseball Card Collector’s Case, Price Guides, Binders and more! But item #8 could be had for $14.90 and it’s one of my favorite football sets from my youth; 1989 Topps.

I recently picked up a wax box of 1989 Topps to relive some of the magic of the greatest year ever. Even though some of the key rookie cards from this set are found in the Traded Set, the base set is still loaded with stars and some of the classic rookies from 1989. I love the box and wrappers from 1989 and who will argue over a .45 cent pack?

There were also box bottom cards as was customary for Topps in the 80’s. This year was Players of the Week and I picked up Week’s 13, 14, 15 and 16.

Also a customary inclusion in late 80’s football were the 1,000 Yard Club cards. These were glossy inserts at 1 per pack and covered a plethora of players that hit 1,000 yards. There are familiar names here!

The late 80’s were loaded with Hall of Fame and Star QB’s in the NFL. I pulled Boomer, Jim Kelly, Moon, Cunningham, Elway, Marino and many others.

It’s hard to beat the stud running backs in 1989. Bo Jackson and Christian Okoye were on the way in while Herschel and Craig were mid stride and Tony Dorsett and Eric Dickerson were wrapping up their illustrious careers.

Wide Receiver was not devoid of stars either.  Jerry Rice and John Taylor were both 1,000 yard receivers on the same team. Sterling Sharpe, Cris Carter and Andre Reed were some of my favorites.

In 1989, Tight Ends were more blockers than pass catchers. While that isn’t too much the case today, these were some good pass catchers back in the day. And we have the rare Jay Novachek in a Cardinals uniform.

The Defensive Line in 1989 was nasty! Bruce Smith, Richard Dent, Chris Doleman, Reggie White and Howie Long?? These dudes were absolute beasts!

Things didn’t get easier for the offense if they got to the second level of the defense either. LT and Mike Singletary were legendary at the linebacker position but all of these guys were studly.

Finally, the big hitters were in the secondary. Ronnie Lott was a man among men and Joey Browner and Rod Woodson could cover as well as they could hit. Now I am pretty sure Chuck Cecil wouldn’t have had a long career with today’s NFL safety rules. This guy was not scared of anything and he would absolutely take out receivers any time they came across the middle.

The Record Breakers were pretty dang good players too! Tim Brown, Eric Dickerson, Steve Largent and Dan Marino are all 80’s Icons!

I pulled 5 of the League Leader cards and I’ve always loved the Herschel/Dickerson card.

I pulled a ton of these team leader cards as well but I’ll only picture a few to show the design.

The “Super Rookies” were solid in ’89 with the inclusion of Brian Blades, Mark Rypien and Chris Spielman. Though there were two others I pulled that deserve their own photo spots.

Michael Irvin was the man and was one of the key players that helped turn the Cowboys around in the 90’s. This RC is always a welcome addition.

Then there is the gem of the base set, Thurman Thomas! I used Thurman so many times on Tecmo because the Bills were loaded. I wish they had won at least one of those Super Bowls because those guys deserved one.

Because I wanted to make this post complete, I also swiped the Traded Set for $7.95 from my LCS. Not including the big guys, there are still some solid names in this Traded Set that make it well worth the price. Steve Young, Don Beebe and Herschel headline the non-big guys. And I didn’t forget about you Scotty; Mr. Steve Grogan is included!

Here are the studs (except one) in the traded set. The rookies of Aikman, Deion, DT and Rison make this Traded Set worth so much more than the cost!

The best card in the entire 1989 Base and Traded Set is this awesome Barry Sanders. I love this card and it might be my favorite 80’s football card!

I don’t think anyone would argue that the 1989 Topps set is loaded and a great addition to any collection. I give it an easy “5” on the Dub-O-Meter because the design is classic 80’s and the checklist is star studded! This was such a great rookie year and still included many big stars that were either in the middle of their careers or winding down. There is really nothing I don’t like about this set, except for the 28 year old gum!

J-Dub

Scoring Scale

1.Let me be the sacrificial lamb so you don’t have to buy these cards.  Just read the post and thank me later.

2.There is worse but there is much better – not worth the effort though.

3.Middle of the road – I wouldn’t talk you into buying these but I certainly wouldn’t talk you out of them.

4.You should probably go out and buy a box and enjoy the rip – I did!  It has some downside but worth the ride.

5.Stop reading and find a box to buy and get to Breaking!  What are you waiting on?

Cheese Puffs with Phoebe Cates

As I put more years behind me, I know I have experienced a metamorphosis both physically and mentally. The physical part hasn’t been so great, as I am about 50 lbs. heavier than I was as a senior in high school. There has been a steady increase in that category since age 30 at a rate of about 5 lbs. per year. I have gone from being able to eat a full box of oatmeal crème pies to only being able to eat one a week if I want to keep from feeling terrible about my choices. I also know that my hair has thinned on my head and the hair in my beard has gotten progressively grayer over the last few years. My face is starting to show more lines (I like to call it character) and my back just can’t handle the rigors of basketball and softball like the days of yore.

From a mental standpoint, the changes can sometimes seem less dramatic but I know that they are just as prevalent. For one, I do seem to worry less about things that are out of my control. I have more perspective now than I did when I was a spry young adult. I also don’t get so wrapped up in some of the nuances that life can challenge you with and try to focus more on the important stuff. That is a work in progress but I know that I am on more solid ground at 40. I have a better idea of what is important to me and my family at this age and don’t have as much time for the less important stuff. I have also seen and heard a lot over my life so I’m not as naïve or surprised by things anymore. That doesn’t mean that wild moments don’t exist; it just means that I am less surprised or shocked by them now. I think all of that is a part of maturing mentally.

But one of the key downsides to aging for your mental state is that your memories start to slip. Part of that is age but part of that is today’s society as well. We live in an age where we need to be entertained 24/7 or we get bored and want to pull our hair out. Because we have sensory (and information) overload from Twitter, FaceBook, or any of the other “have it now” tools, we move from one highlight to the next and don’t really take in the full experience anymore. This has a way of affecting the way we remember things, as moments are less of what we create and more of what is created for us. I know, I’m not a fancy psychologist or anything but I promise I am going somewhere with this.

Take for instance, movies. When I was a kid, the only way to see a movie was to go to the theater, get your parents to take you to the video store or catch it when it was on TV. Every time I bring up “video store”, I shed a lone tear in memoriam. So when you watched a movie, you have this experience of going to the video store, scouring the shelves, reading the back of cases and checking it out. You then had one or two days to watch the movie and get it back to the store before you were charged more money. So that meant you would grab a snack, turn the lights down and actually watch a movie from start to finish. It was a movie watching experience and it created memories; even if they are now just anecdotal callbacks to your youth.

Now, we pop on Netflix or our phones and watch a movie over a several day span when the mood strikes us. Or we’ll watch a 15 episode season in one night, which has a way of diluting the event as well. It isn’t about the movie or show anymore as much as it is about filling time or being someone who also saw the hot thing that every one is talking about on Twitter. There are spoilers now. And if you don’t want the spoiler, stay off social media or you will be berated for not seeing it yet. And by being subjected to the spoiler, you would have somehow gotten what you deserved. It’s about being first to see it and having the most sensible fan theory or whatever the kids are calling it now.

This is just an example of a bigger issue. This could be expanded to music, politics, sports and yes, even hobbies. We have forgotten what life was like when we had to appreciate the little things. We have forgotten the little things altogether. Maybe those things didn’t mean as much as we thought. Or maybe we have overrated things today. Either way, we have forgotten the small things and only remembered the major songs, movies, foods and toys from our youth. But there was more! Believe me when I say that “Saved by the Bell” wasn’t the only Saturday morning teen show on the tube. And “Tecmo Super Bowl”, “Super Mario” and “Contra” weren’t the only video games we played. And “Friday the 13th” and “Nightmare on Elm Street” aren’t the only horror movies the 80’s had to offer!

With that outline in place, and by keeping the context of this blog post light and fluffy, let’s look at some of the things that have been lapped by other pop culture icons but were still great when they were around. Then, strangely enough, this will tie into baseball cards. Because in the end, isn’t that what this is all about anyway? Consider this a list of forgotten/underrated/overlooked favorites according to Dub. I’m here to bring awareness to the masses.

Minute Maid Juice Bars
Everybody my age remembers the bomb pop and the push up and pop-ice that we had as kids. But why have we forgotten about the Minute Maid Juice Bars? These were magical small frozen treats that were fruity delicious and they were available at all of my school snack bars. The tops were oddly shaped triangles that morphed into a different facing triangle at the bottom. Does that make sense? You show me someone who didn’t like those and I’ll show you someone who is living life wrong. They are still around but I showed them to my daughter the last time we were at Publix and she thought I was nuts. We have to make the Minute Maid Juice Bar great again but I think the hashtag #MMMJBGA would be too cumbersome!

Cheese Puffs
While we are at it, let’s bring back another classic snack that is grossly underrated today; the Cheese Puff! I personally am a fan of any cheese puff but my friend CJ swears by the local grocery store brand puff. He doesn’t like frills in his cheese puffs. He just wants air and cheese! You can have your Doritos and Ruffles and I’ll take the Cheese Puffs all day. Again, they still make them and they are popular in pockets but they are definitely more of a kid snack. That doesn’t have to be the case anymore!

Silver Bullet
I have spoken about “Silver Bullet” before in one of my articles about 1985 Fleer. What’s not to love about this 80’s horror movie? It was a Stephen King adaptation that starred Gary Busey and Corey Haim and was about a preacher that turned into a werewolf. I mean, that sounds like pure gold to me. There is even a part in the film where they are playing poker and using baseball cards as cash; “You can’t bet managers.” This one does not get mentioned with some of the greats from the 80’s because we had to make room for all the new crap we are watching, like “Annabelle”. Chucky would run circles around “Annabelle” by the way.

Halloween III
This one is more about being underrated than forgotten. I have even been a critic of the film but only in the context that it was in the middle of the Halloween franchise. Had this been a standalone film that was never associated with the Michael Myers line of films, this would have gotten much more praise. The film is really quite good for a mid 80’s horror flick but when it didn’t have Myers, fans wrote it off. It is only remembered now as a movie that was drastically out of place.

Maximum Overdrive/Who Made Who
Here is where we cross over from movies to music and the segue couldn’t be more perfect. “Maximum Overdrive” was another Stephen King adaptation that starred Emilio Estevez. Electronics came to life, cars drove themselves and lawn mowers attacked their owners. All of this was to the soundtrack of AC/DC! One of the theme songs in the movie was “Who Made Who” and is one of their best in my mind. They will always be remembered for “Hells Bells”, “Shook Me All Night Long” and “Thunderstruck” but damnit, “Who Made Who” is a great song and should get more recognition when AC/DC comes up in conversation today. I’m betting 9 out of 10 hipsters that wear AC/DC Retro Shirts today don’t know that song.

Everclear
I’m talking about the band, not the liquor. People know about Green Day or Gin Blossoms or Bush but how many of those people name Everclear as an influential band from the 90’s? I know you have heard the song “Santa Monica” but you have probably heard a laundry list of their other songs and didn’t even know it was them. They pumped out gems like “Father of Mine”, “Wonderful”, “Everything to Everyone” and “Learning How to Smile” and we aren’t even scratching the surface here. Kids today think they know what music is but if you don’t have Everclear in your catalogue (on iTunes) then you really are missing a major contributor to the 90’s garage band scene.

California Dreams
How many of you remember this gem? Not enough, because “Saved By The Bell” has taken over your memories and that is the only high school teen show you have room for anymore. This was also about a group of teenagers but this group formed a band that would have slaughtered Zack Morris’ “Friends Forever” routine. Granted, it was not as good as SBTB and Kelly Packard was no Kelly Kapowski but it deserves to have its place in our memories!

You Can’t Do That On Television
Before Nickelodeon went full on bore-fest with Dora, iCarly and Victorious, they were pumping out quality programming that included Ren & Stimpy, Double Dare and Mr. Wizard. One of the best shows in my memory though is “You Can’t Do That On Television”. This was a teenage sketch comedy that originally aired in Canada before moving to a more international audience. This is where slime was created. This was also where we were first introduced to Alanis Morisette and Christine “Moose” McGlade. It was funny, irreverent and corny at times but I really miss that show.

StarTropics
StarTropics was one of the most underrated and thus forgotten NES games of my youth. It was a strategy game very much like Legend of Zelda but was based on archaeology, science, space and oceanography. We’re talking extraterrestrials, speaking parrots and singing dolphins here. The game even came with a physical letter that you had to dip in water to reveal a code to continue gameplay when prompted. The only downside of the game is that it was before the internet so when I lost that letter, I couldn’t play it a second time through because none of my friends had the game and there was nowhere to go to find that code again. You could also throw RC Pro Am and ExciteBike as forgotten gems from my youth as well.

Barbara Crampton
As a teen, I liked horror movies and I liked chicks! And one of the hottest horror movie chicks ever was Barbara Crampton. She was famous for “Re-Animator” but was in others like “Puppet Master”, “The Beyond” and “Chopping Mall.” She’s been in more recent films like “We Are Still Here” and “Beyond The Gates” and still has that mojo. Sure, people remember Jamie Lee Curtis and Danielle Harris but Barbara Crampton is a true Scream Queen that should be more recognized today.

Phoebe Cates
Here is another actress that was pretty well known in the 80’s with movies like “Gremlins”, “Bright Lights, Big City” and “Drop Dead Fred”. But she was most well known for her amazing performance in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” She was drop dead gorgeous but has been relatively absent from our minds since the mid 90’s. We must not forget Phoebe Cates! I cannot and will not allow that to happen to our society. A society without Phoebe Cates is not a society I want to be a part of. Too much?

So that brings us to baseball cards. I’ve used all of these examples to set up my list of players from when I was a kid that are grossly underrated or forgotten in the hobby today. Maybe this was a flimsy setup but I enjoyed putting this list together. Collectors today will occasionally jump on an old cheap box and ask me what they should be looking for. The short answer is always the same; Bo Jackson, Ken Griffey Jr., Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire and Nolan Ryan. But yes, just like the list above, there is more to the 80’s baseball card scene than those hot names that everybody remembers. There are some high quality players to be found in 80’s wax that may not break the bank on eBay but certainly should have a more prominent spot in our collection when we pull their cards.

The list is by no means comprehensive but these are some of the bigger names I look for when ripping old wax. These are non-hall of fame players that probably aren’t as obvious to today’s collectors as they are to the old guard like @oriolesrise, @JunkWaxTwins, @OffHiatusBBC and @ShaneKatz73. These are players that we loved to put in our binders and were usually trade centerpieces when we wanted to pick up those Jr’s and Canseco’s.

Ruben Sierra
Sierra spent some great years with the Texas Rangers and I remember seeking him out in the late 80’s. He had 4 seasons with 100+ RBI and 17 seasons with double digit home runs. Seven of those seasons produced 20+ bombs. His best season was in 1989 when he hit .306 with 29 HR, 119 RBI and 13 triples. He was a 4x All-Star and Silver Slugger Award Winner and is in the Rangers Hall of Fame.

Vince Coleman
Coleman didn’t have the all around numbers like Sierra but he was a beast on the base path. He played 13 seasons and finished with 752 career stolen bases. He had 3 seasons with 100+, 7 seasons with 50+ and was a 6x SB leader. He hit for a mediocre average over his career at .264 and only mustered up 28 career bombs. But damn, he was fast!

Shawon Dunston
This was more of a personal favorite of mine than anything. He had so-so numbers over his career in which he hit for a .269 average with 150 HR and 212 SB. He did have 5 seasons with 20+ steals and was a 3x All-Star. I really enjoyed watching him play.

Kevin Mitchell
Mitchell was a real beast! He played 13 seasons and racked up 234 career home runs, which averaged out to 31 per 162 games. He also averaged 101 RBI per 162 games and had a career .284 average. In 1989, he won the NL MVP with a .291 batting average, 47 HR and 125 RBI. He was also a 2x All-Star and Silver Slugger Award Winner.

Jay Buhner
Buhner played 15 seasons and tallied 310 home runs and 965 RBI. Those aren’t HOF numbers but they are dang good as it averaged out to 34 HR/106 RBI per 162 games. He did strike out a lot and only hit .254 over his career but he made up for it with an All-Star appearance, a Gold Glove in ’96 and he’s in the Mariners HOF.

Benito Santiago
Santiago was one of the first catchers I really paid attention to. Alomar Jr. was a hot rookie but I really liked Santiago. He played 20 years and mashed 217 HR and amassed 920 RBI. He also collected 91 SB over his career, which is nothing to sneeze at for a catcher. He was a 5x All-Star, NLCS MVP (2002), 3x Gold Glove Winner, 4x Silver Slugger Winner and the 1987 NL ROY. He was and still is highly collectible for me. He is also a member of the San Diego Padres HOF.

Eric Davis
This may have been the easiest one for me when compiling this list. Davis was beloved by fans in Cincinnati and around the country. He was a likeable player and I enjoyed watching him play. He played 17 seasons and hit 282 HR and 934 RBI which averaged out to 28/93 per 162 games over his career. He also had 349 SB for an average of 35 per 162 games. He had a massive 80 steals in 1986 and 50 in 1985. He was also a 2x All-Star, World Series Champ (’90), 3x Gold Glove Winner, 2x Silver Slugger Award Winner, Roberto Clemente Award Winner and is a member of the Reds HOF. Former teammate Paul O’Neill said that Davis was the “Best Everything” he had ever seen play.

Mike Greenwell
Greenwell played 12 seasons and averaged 17 home runs, 10 SB and a .303 batting average per 162 games. He was a 2x All-Star, Silver Slugger Award Winner and is a member of the Red Sox HOF.

Ellis Burks
Greenwell’s teammate, Ellis Burks, is another stud I search for in the Junk Wax sets I rip. Burks played 18 seasons and hit 352 HR and knocked in 1,206 runs. This came out to an average of 29/98 per 162 games over his career. He also had 84 SB, hit for a career .291 avg and hit over .300 a total of 6 times in his career. He was a lock for the Red Sox HOF with these stats and his 2x All-Star, Gold Glove and 2x Silver Slugger Award.

Mark Grace
Grace has had his share of off-field troubles since he retired but he was a very good player during his career. He played 16 seasons and hit 173 HR and 1,146 RBI. He also won 4 Gold Gloves and went to the All-Star game 2 times. He had 9 seasons with a batting average over .300 and finished his career with a .303 average.

Chris Sabo
I’m not going to lie; some of this was about the goggles. Chris Sabo is such a nostalgic player for me because of how unique his cards were. His stats weren’t bad either though as he hit 116 HR and knocked in 426 runs over a 9 year career. He was a 3x All-Star and the NL ROY in 1988 on his way to being inducted into the Reds HOF. The goggles made him fast too as he swiped 120 career SB’s, averaging 21 per 162 games.

Andres Gallaraga
One of the reasons I like collecting Gallaraga is the Expos uniform he is found in on his 80’s cards. He was a Brave for a while too but I believe that the best looking uniform ever belonged to the Montreal Expos. He played 19 seasons and hit 399 HR, collected 1,452 RBI and swiped 128 bases while keeping a career batting average of .288. He was a 5x All-Star, 2x Gold Glover, 2x Silver Slugger, NL Batting Champ in ’93 and NL Home Run Leader in ’96. He was known for his power but he really was a 5-Tool Player for many years.

Will Clark
Clark has a few PC guys out there so this one is not a middle of the road player. Clark played 15 years and had a career batting average of .303 while hitting 284 HR and 1,205 RBI. He also was a 6x All-Star, NLCS MVP (’89), 2x Silver Slugger and Gold Glove winner. He hit over .300 for 10 out of 15 total seasons. Will “The Thrill” was amazing at the plate.

Fred McGriff
The “Crime Dog” is the one player on this list that should definitely be in the Hall of Fame. He played 19 years and hit 493 home runs, falling just 7 shy of the magical “500” number. He also hit for average with a career number of .284. He was a 5x All-Star, 3x Silver Slugger, 2x Home Run Leader and hit over .300 during 6 of his seasons. Please tell me why a player with 493 home runs, 1,550 RBI, a World Series Ring (’95) and these other accolades is not in the Hall of Fame. It’s a travesty!

Dave Stewart
The first pitcher on the list is a 3x World Series Champ with a career 168-129 win-loss record. The key for me with Stewart was what he did during my collecting heyday. From 1987-1990, he won 20+ games every season and finished his career with 1,741 K’s and a 3.95 ERA. He was the 1989 WS MVP and a 2x ALCS MVP. He also threw a no-hitter in 1990. He doesn’t have the numbers for the HOF but he was a very good pitcher when I started collecting.

Jose Rijo
This is not just because I pulled his auto in a recent box of Archives Postseason Signature Series. Like Dave Stewart, Rijo was a stud in the league when I started collecting. He had a career 116-91 record over 14 years but won 14+ from 90-93 and was the WS MVP in 1990. He finished with 1,600 K’s and is a member of the Reds HOF.

Bret Saberhagen
The final pitcher on my list is Saberhagen. He played 16 seasons and finished his career with a 167-117 win-loss record. He had a stellar 3.34 career ERA and struck out 1,715 batters, averaging 151 per 162 games. His best season was 1989 when he went 23-6 with 12 complete games and finished with a 2.16 ERA. He tallied 193 K’s that season. He finished his career as a 3x All-Star, World Series Champ (’85), World Series MVP (’85), 2x AL Cy Young Award, Gold Glove Winner (’89), MLB Wins Leader (’89), AL ERA Leader (’89) and pitched a no-hitter in 1991. It’s no surprise that he is a member of the Kansas City Royals HOF.

For the collectors that ask me who I look for when I rip open those classic junk wax boxes, this is your answer. There are others that are personal favorites of mine that may not have had numbers this good but these are all studs you can find in late 80’s products that make the relatively low cost very much worth it. These are also players that are highly collectible with their team collectors as well. So while Kelly Kapowski was #1 in the late 80’s, I don’t think I would have been complaining if Phoebe Cates gave me a call back then. In that same regard, while Ken Griffey Jr. and Jose Canseco were the big catches in the card world, I would complain about pulling any of these guys either. It’s easy to forget about players, songs or movies that we aren’t constantly reminded of today but that doesn’t mean they aren’t classics and worthy of our attention. Get out there and find some of these 80’s legends

J-Dub

Retro Review – Not Quite Kelly Bundy

I remember watching “Growing Pains” quite a bit when I was young. I remember Mike Seaver being Mr. Cool and I probably reminded my parents of him when it came to school work, getting in trouble and pulling dumb stunts with my friends. I also thought Carol was quite the looker for an 80’s sitcom star. But she liked school a little too much for my taste. I never really paid much attention to Ben because he was the obnoxious little brother and I had one of those already. I do remember Dr. Seaver being this sort of all knowing guy that had a sense of humor and an answer for all of the kids problems. He was a psychiatrist after all. He was a good 80’s dad on TV but could be a bit of a cornball at times.I fancy myself as having a little bit of Al Bundy in my personality though. I can be crass, to the point and say things I probably shouldn’t at times. I love sports, love to watch TV and appreciate his ability to completely tune out those around him when they are grinding his last nerve. I also don’t mind the occasional swimsuit calendar on the wall. I never wanted to be a shoe salesman but I did want to one day have a secret club in my garage that consisted of me and my friends sitting around drinking beer and talking about our wives. I still haven’t formed that club but I do have some friends that enjoy sitting around drinking a beer. We only talk about how great our wives are though. We would never disparage our significant others, right?Even though Jason Seaver could be a cornball sometimes, he couldn’t hold a candle to Danny Tanner on “Full House”. Even as a kid, I thought he was a total square. I enjoyed Jessie and Joey much more than I did Danny but I guess that was how it was meant to be written. I definitely didn’t want to be in a house with a bunch of girls when I was 10 either. Yuck! I didn’t have any sisters and actually didn’t have a female cousin until I was about 14 or so. I just never latched on to “Full House” like I did these other sitcoms because I just couldn’t really relate to it like the others. They did all have something in common though; they all debuted in 1987. As I went back and looked through some of the coolness of 1987, I realized that it was a major year for television and the big screen. Maybe that’s because I was 10 and really started getting into TV but there was a lot of excellent options that year.As for TV, that was the year that we were introduced to Spuds McKenzie. You tell me one kid from 1987 that didn’t want a Spuds of his own. I didn’t even pay attention to the beer part of the ad. I wanted that dog! We also met the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that year and my cousin is still a pizza fanatic because of Michelangelo. It helps that his name is Michael as well. Then there were those awesome Micro Machines commercials. That guy had a pretty amazing talent with the fast talking! My brother played with those a lot more than I did but I always marveled at the commercials. That probably wouldn’t be a very safe toy for kids by today’s standards.The news on TV that year was also very riveting. That was the year that Baby Jessica fell into a well in her aunt’s backyard in Texas. And when I say well, what I really mean is this tiny pipe that only an 18 month old child could fit in. It took 58 hours to free her from that well and it was a televised event. It was quite scary for parents but it made me leery of small spaces for a while as well. She was eventually rescued from the pipe some 22 feet below ground and is doing well today as per media reports. Someone who didn’t do quite so well with their media circus fame in 1987 was Jim Bakker. Bakker was a TV Evangelist who was accused of rape by a secretary that actually led to the uncovering of financial fraud that led to a 45 year prison conviction. He only served 5 years before being paroled but went through a pretty public divorce from Tammy Faye as well. He has somehow found himself back in the ministry and on TV. I’m just going to leave that alone.The movies were awesome in 1987 were totally tubular! My personal favorites from that year were “Predator” and “Running Man”. I was a big Arnold fan and loved all of his movies. “Predator” was one of the first sci-fi horror movies I watched, along with “Aliens”. That movie kind of freaked me out but I thought it was really cool too. Carl Weathers was the man! As for “Running Man”, this was another sci-fi thriller about a TV game show where the only winners were the contestants who actually finished the game alive. As crazy as that movie premise seemed in 1987, to be brutally honest, we don’t seem too far from some kind of reality show that is very similar to “Running Man” in 2017. It’s a little scary how close that movie portrayed the way our society is heading.There were a lot of other classic movies released that year as well. Some of the more well known include “Lethal Weapon”, “The Untouchables”, “Dirty Dancing” and “Robocop”. Obviously, these are big name movies so I don’t have to explain how good they were. In the horror genre, there were a few that are still on my favorites list. I still love “The Lost Boys” and watched it at a friend’s house when I was totally not supposed to. I had to hide the fact that I was scared to death at my house at night because that would have eventually led to the fact that I watched it. My favorite Freddy movie was “Dream Warriors” and it was released that year as well. Throw in “Creepshow 2” and you’ve got quite a starter list of movies you should go back and re-watch.What about some family movies from ’87? Well, there was “Harry and the Hendersons”, which gave Bigfoot a soft and warm side that made you want to have him as a pet. Then there was “Ernest Goes to Camp”, which does not hold up well in 2017. Trust me, it is not good today. “Summer School” was a fun movie that had a couple of “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” super fans in it. “Raising Arizona” was the first great Nicholas Cage film that also starred Holly Hunter. And “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” was a hilarious comedy with Steve Martin and John Candy. One of the best lines in a comedy film in the 80’s came from that movie. After waking up in a hotel room together, they had this unforgettable exchange:

Neal Page: Del? Why did you kiss my ear?
Del Griffith: Why are you holding my hand?
Neal Page: Where’s your OTHER hand?
Del Griffith: Between two pillows….
Neal Page: Those aren’t pillows!!!“Full Metal Jacket” is a cult classic from 1987 and I have watched the first half of that movie over and over and over. That drill sergeant is one of the greatest movie characters ever! I remember Private Pile, Private Joker and all of the characters and one liner’s from that film. It’s one that I still have on VHS in my collection. Finally, I developed a pretty strong crush that year on Elisabeth Shue thanks to “Adventures in Babysitting”. She was already a cutie in “The Karate Kid” but this one put me over the top. I still stop the channel surfing when I see her on my TV screen!There were other cool things from 1987 like “Mike Tyson’s Punch Out”, Guns N Roses’ “Appetite for Destruction” and Bon Jovi’s “Livin on a Prayer.” 1987 was really a great year for pop culture. That year produced some pretty cool trading cards as well. I remember Garbage Pail Kids that year and trying to gross out the girls in my class with those hideous cards. One of the most iconic sets ever was the 1987 Wood Grain Topps design with the beautiful Bo Jackson Future Star. I also did a review of 1987 Fleer here a few weeks ago. This was almost the perfect year for collecting because most weren’t aware it was overproduced yet but they also only had a few sets to choose from.The remaining set from that year was 1987 Donruss. I never had a ton of ’87 Donruss because I didn’t really start collecting until 1989. But even as a non-collecting kid that played with the classic toys of those days, I had some ’87 Topps lying around. I think most kids had some ’87 Topps, even if half of us didn’t know what we had. But Donruss was a relative unknown to me for many years. I have since added some pieces to my collection but I’ve never busted a full box, or even multiple packs to be honest. My recent trip to the LCS has provided that opportunity now. I picked up a full box for a mere $25, which I think is a pretty good deal.

Donruss had a pretty cool design that year with the black border and gold baseball logo stripe running horizontally across the middle of the card. Of course, there are also Diamond Kings and Rated Rookies to sort through as well. The puzzle is of Roberto Clemente, which is especially cool to me, considering how much I love his cards in the hobby. The set was numbered to 660 and a box had 36 packs with 15 cards per pack. So there are a total of 540 cards per box but if collation is similar to other sets from those years, I’m probably looking at just over half the set when I’m done. I’m really looking forward to this rip though because the set will be a fairly new experience for me.

Let’s jump right in!

First, the wrappers were not my favorite from Donruss. I didn’t like the copper color but they are still wax packs so they aren’t all bad either.

I was able to pull the full Clemente Puzzle together so that was a success!

The Diamond Kings were just as I remembered them. The artwork of Dick Perez is unmistakable. Surprisingly, my least favorite is the Jose Canseco because his head looks so odd on the card. I love the Murphy, Straw, Smith, Puckett and Davis!

The Rated Rookies pictured here were names that you may remember but not Hall of Fame type talent. I particularly liked Benito Santiago in the late 80’s. Rafael Palmeiro could have landed in the Hall had he not had his issues during the steroid era.

These three players epitomized the term “Speed”. Vince Coleman may have been the fastest but Rickey Henderson was the most prolific base stealer. Rock Raines was the closest to a 5 tool player of the group.

The infielders here are absolute studs. This was Will Clark’s rookie Donruss card and Fred McGriff’s second year card. There is a lot of talent here!

The outfielders are just as awesome and star studded as the infielders above. Jose’s rookie was the famous 1986 Donruss but this was Bobby Bonilla’s base rookie as he was included in 1986’s “The Rookies” set. Just look at that smile on Puckett! These guys make me want to pull out RBI Baseball and start swinging!

The pitchers here are Ace material. Lee Smith was a closer but he was as dominant as the starters. The Dodgers rotation was pretty scary with Fernando and Orel. It looks like Doc was startled by someone that got his attention as the photo was about to be taken.

The Veterans are all here too in 1987. I dare you to tell me you wouldn’t have wanted these guys on your team in the 80’s! Pete Rose had the elusive 1B/Mgr card. I really liked Joe Carter too and I think he is vastly underrated in the hobby today. The same could be said about Jim Rice.

The two hits in the box were these great Rated Rookies. While I missed out on the Barry Bonds RC, I am pleased that I pulled Bo and McGwire. I have now pulled all three major Bo Jackson rookies this year ripping old wax. I really wish the careers for these two had ended up better than they did. I wish Bo had stayed healthy and I wish McGwire could have just been this good without the whole steroid thing.

Finally, ’87 Donruss had a nice box bottom like many other mid 80’s wax boxes. The bottom here had Murphy and a sweet Canseco photo taken with him perfectly centered in a star on the outfield wall. There is a Reardon and Clemente puzzle card as well but the Canseco is the real gem here.As with other 1987 rips, this one was loads of fun. A rookie class of Bo, McGwire and Bonds make the ripping exciting but the inclusion of every major star from the 80’s makes the box well worth the $25 price tag. The design was not as good as 1986 but was better than 1988 in my opinion. This was probably one of the top Donruss designs for me but came right one year after my favorite so I tend to judge it too harshly. I have to give this a “4” on the Dub-O-Meter for a few reasons. The checklist is great, the design is good, the price is reasonable and the Clemente Puzzle is a classic. On the negative, the cards weren’t cut very well and collation was as odd as I’ve seen with consecutively numbered cards. The positives far outweigh the negatives here so the 4 is closer to a 4.5 than a 3.5. I would say that ultimately, the set lands somewhere between Carol Seaver and Kelly Bundy, if you know what I mean. I’d recommend this set as a fun build and the box as a nostalgic rip worth your time. What say you about 1987 Donruss?

J-Dub

Scoring Scale

1. Let me be the sacrificial lamb so you don’t have to buy these cards.  Just read the post and thank me later.

2. There is worse but there is much better – not worth the effort though.

3. Middle of the road – I wouldn’t talk you into buying these but I certainly wouldn’t talk you out of them.

4. You should probably go out and buy a box and enjoy the rip – I did!  It has some downside but worth the ride.

5. Stop reading and find a box to buy and get to Breaking!  What are you waiting on?

Retro Review: A Scary Good Baseball Set

I’m taking a little different approach with today’s post. Let’s talk about horror movies! I have to thank Rick Brown (@rickbrown0814) for getting the wheels turning on this one. We chatted a bit on Saturday about the cheesy horror movies from the 80’s that we loved. Of course, that included some discussion on video stores so it was right up my alley. While our discussion was aimed at cheese, I started thinking a little more about the horror movies that I really loved from the 80’s. For the record, my favorite cheesy movie was “Ghoulies 2” and his was “Zuni Doll” from The Trilogy of Terror. As I was skimming some of the lists online of horror movies from that time period, one year kept jumping out; 1985. There were a number of horror movies I loved from the 80’s and I was looking at pulling together a Top 10 list but I found 5 in 1985 alone so I felt a theme brewing.I was 8 years old in 1985 and didn’t see any of these when they originally came out. But remember, I worked the video store circuit when I was a teen so my buds and I spent many a late night watching these movies in the early 90’s. We went through phases where we would watch all camp movies, then all zombie movies, then maybe comedy horrors but there was a group of movies that were go-to’s whenever we wanted to get serious about our binge watching. We would memorize these movies, look for little clues in the re-watch that we missed the time before and would eventually become “experts” on the particular film.I’ve gone as far as trying to rank them in reverse order but I feel a little bit of regret for ranking any ahead of the other. Of course, stick around for a review of a great baseball card set from 1985 as well. Remember, I felt a theme brewing. I’ve wanted to review this classic set since I picked it up a few weeks ago. My pal Jonathan Coker (@JonathanBCoker) picked this up for me at his LCS and shipped it down to me. He knows what I collect and sent me pics when he visited the shop. I had to have this one for the price. But first, the horror with, hopefully, no spoilers!

#5 – Re-Animator

This is a classic 80’s horror that has all of the requirements to be on the list. We have plenty of gore. The basis of the movie is that a disturbed med student formulates a serum that brings the dead back to life. After trying it on his unsuspecting roommate’s cat, things escalate to the point where his professor quite literally loses his head but the head is brought back to life with the serum. That’s about all I can say without spoiling it for those who haven’t seen it. In between the gore, we also have some great 80’s chick action with famous horror actress Barbara Crampton. This was an easy top 5 but somehow couldn’t top any of the others. This movie also has its own trading cards that were just released this year. I had to buy some of those.

#4 – Fright Night

This movie legit frightened me the first time I saw it, no pun intended. It stars the awesome Roddy McDowall as a Horror TV Host that “kills vampires” who gets a request from a teen horror fan who is convinced that his new neighbor is a vampire. There are some major scares in this one and the special effects are top notch. The only other vampire movie I can compare it to is “The Lost Boys”. Vampires are generally not all that scary in movies but Chris Sarandon got the job done in “Fright Night”. It was remade in 2011 (as many old horror movies are) but was not nearly as frightening and entertaining. If you haven’t seen this one, it’s a must see for horror fans.

#3 – Day of the Dead

This is an absolute must see. Every horror fan recognizes “Day of the Dead” as one of the top all time films! The movie was directed by Zombie Movie Icon, George Romero and special effects master, Tom Savini. It was the third in the “Dead” series that also featured “Night of the Living Dead” and “Dawn of the Dead”. In this classic, we are led to believe that the dead can be trained to become understanding and cooperative beings. The main test subject is “Bub” and he is the first zombie that I actually cheered for and wanted to “survive”. Bub had headphones and responded to sounds and objects but the military personnel in the testing area just couldn’t leave Bub alone. This movie has a more serious tone than the previous two in my opinion and remains one of my favorite all time zombie movies.

#2 – Return of the Living Dead

Ok, we don’t have a real scary one here but this is probably my 2nd favorite zombie movie of all time and I can pretty much quote it from the opening credits. Return of the Living was not an official Romero piece and was more of a satirical look at how a second outbreak started. Two knucklehead employees at a medical equipment warehouse released a gas found in a drum that was mistakenly shipped through a few years before by the US Military. The drum contains, presumably, one of the subjects from the “Night of the Living Dead” outbreak and when the gas is released, it comes back to life. After more mistakes are made at the facility, a new outbreak is created. There are some scary moments but this is a truly entertaining movie and received a nice 91% on Rotten Tomatoes. It spawned four sequels with each becoming less and less fun.

#1 – Silver Bullet

There is a reason that this is #1, besides the value of the film itself. This was the first horror (creature) movie I ever saw and really paid attention to. Remember, I saw “The Shining” in 1986 but I wasn’t supposed to and I don’t remember it in its entirety. I remember the elevator of blood and “Here’s Johnny” for sure. I first saw Silver Bullet on “BetaMax”. It’s weird that I remember that but it was a strange sight. Anyhow, Gary Busey and Corey Haim star in this movie adapted from a Stephen King book about a werewolf. I have seen many werewolf movies but none scared me like this one. I know it’s because of how young I was when I first saw it but it has stuck with me since then. I own that one now on blu-ray and it is viewed about as often as any movie I still own. It rivals my love for the 1990 version of Night of the Living Dead as my favorite movie of all time, regardless of genre. I so wish I could watch it on BetaMax one more time to get the full effect. Fittingly, the movie features a scene in which Gary Busey and Corey Haim are playing poker and using baseball cards as cash. Haim tries to bet a manager and Busey calls him out. “You can’t bet managers! I’ve told you time and time again, you can’t bet managers! I wonder if they were using the set I’m about to review?So there you have Dub’s 5 favorite horror movies from 1985. Those movies sharing that release year tied in perfectly to my anticipated review of 1985 Fleer. I have owned some singles of 1985 Fleer but I had to have this set because it is really a sweet design for Fleer. The ’84 design was nice as well but up until then, Fleer was kind of a dud in my opinion. 1985 also had some great rookies in it. While the 1984 Update set had first releases, and holds more value, you can find Kirby Puckett, Roger Clemens and Dwight Gooden rookies, among others.The set is 660 cards and the cards feature a gray border with team colors surrounding the inset photo. While gray can feel bland at times, the team colors were enough to make the design pop. It’s a very simple design but very classy. The backs of the cards were red, white and dark gray and in the same general design as all other Fleer cards of the 80’s. Though, there was a small photo on the backs of the cards, which was not always consistent with Fleer. The one strange thing about the card back is that the information about the player (Height, Weight, DOB, Etc) was at the bottom of the card. While this was standard for Fleer up until 1985, the information would float to the top of the card beginning in 1986.

Here are some of the highlights from the master set!

The Rookies
1985 had a solid crop of rookies (Joe Carter was actually FFC). Terry Pendleton would go on to win an MVP with the Braves, Doc Gooden would be a force for several years to come and we all know what happened with the Rocket. My favorite player in this group is Eric Davis. I was always of fan of Davis and he was someone I didn’t like to see play Atlanta because I had to root against him.

Young Stars
The young star group can’t get much better than this! If Wallach would be willing to play 2nd, this would also be an awesome All-Star team. I never get tired of adding Tony Gwynn cards to my PC. My favorite player here is probably The Wizard but it’s a lot tougher than that first group to choose from. I wish Straw’s career had taken a little different path and he might be tops on this list.

Veterans
While these guys weren’t quite as young as the previous group, they were stars nonetheless. I’ve said before that one of my favorite all time uniforms was that 80’s Pirates and this Tony Pena card is excellent. I also loved the old California Angels logo. Some of these guys were better known for what they did in other uniforms but that can’t be said for Molitor and Yount! And another Murph for the PC!

Super Star Special
This “insert” set was at the back of the checklist and included many of the stars in the set. A couple of milestones were celebrated with Reggie Jackson’s 500th Home Run and Pete Rose’s 4,000 Hit. And I never get tired of Father/Son cards in baseball.

Major League Prospects
While the set was loaded with great rookies, the prospect cards were a little underwhelming. I was a fan of Shawon Dunston in the late 80’s so this one was nice!

Fun Cards
What would a review of 1985 be without some great names and photos? One of my all-time favorite combo’s was Kent Tekulve. He had a great name and always rolled with the tinted RX glasses. Steve Trout tried to mimic the look but came off more like a villain in Magnum PI. Rollie Fingers was a great pitcher but no pitcher has ever been as great as that stache! Finally, one of the great names in 80’s baseball was John Wockenfuss.

King of the Hill
I always love finding a card of Kurt Bevacqua. He was a masher in the majors but I know him more for being a softball ringer on King of the Hill. Strickland Propane’s arch rival, Thatherton, hired Bevacqua’s wife so he could qualify for the softball team. He was destroying the competition until he ran into Peggy Hill! Great episode!

Rookie Gem
Did you think I was going to leave out the card of the set? This Kirby is actually in very good condition. Don’t judge it from my photo skills. This is the best looking version of this card I have ever owned. I might even send it in for grading and replace the one in the set with another. As much as I love bashing the Twins, I will never bash Puckett. He was a favorite of mine (except for 1991) and I really love the old Twins logo too.1985 was a great year for horror movies but it might have even been a better year for baseball cards. I go back and forth with Topps and Fleer for my favorite set from that year but going through this new addition gives Fleer a slight edge. I guess I need to add an ’85 Topps set so I can be fair and balanced in my decision. In any event, the set gets a “5” on the Dub-O-Meter. There are some great rookie classes in the late 70’s through the 80’s and this one is right up there with the best of them. The cards are really attractive for a mid 80’s product and this particular set was in pretty good overall condition. I would love to go through a box of ’85 Fleer and try to pull multiples but owning the set is first priority. I bought this set for $30 and I believe it was money well spent.

Lastly, if you have a moment and a couple of dollars, check out www.gofundme.com/jasessoldiers. Even if you can’t give, just send Jonathan a kind word and good vibes for Jase. Thanks again Jonathan!

J-Dub

Scoring Scale

1. Let me be the sacrificial lamb so you don’t have to buy these cards.  Just read the post and thank me later.

2. There is worse but there is much better – not worth the effort though.

3. Middle of the road – I wouldn’t talk you into buying these but I certainly wouldn’t talk you out of them.

4. You should probably go out and buy a box and enjoy the rip – I did!  It has some downside but worth the ride.

5. Stop reading and find a box to buy and get to Breaking!  What are you waiting on?

Mail Day Review – Cuyler Smith Trading Cards Series 2

I’ve been waiting on this mail day for a solid year so it’s a pretty big one.  When I first heard about Cuyler Smith’s Trading Card Series 1 in 2016, I was too late for the party and almost all of the cards were sold out.  All of the specific cards I wanted were sold out.  The prize of the 1st series to me was the “George Costanza – Assistant to The Traveling Secretary” card with the 1987 Topps design.  I know Mr. Wright, I’ve seen that design enough too but for this particular card, no border would have done it better justice.  But alas, it was sold out so I’m banished to EBay to get that one if I ever want it and it’s not for sale often and it’s never cheap, as evidenced by the last sale in February 8 at $219.95.  Three have sold in 2017 with the lowest being $185.  That’s my luck!You see, to understand the whole picture, I need to give you a little bit of information on the cards themselves.  Cuyler Smith is an artist from California by way of Texas.  I’ve never met him or spoken to him outside of passing comments on Twitter so my bio on him is based on what I’ve read.  After moving to California, Smith obtained a BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) in animation and MFA (Master of Fine Arts) in illustration.  And his work shows it.  His interest in film and animation took him to Cali and now his fine art degrees are paying homage to film and animation.  The Trading Card Series’ are all about athletes from film and Tv.  The checklist includes such big names as Daniel Larusso, Crash Davis, Bobby Boucher, Kenny Powers, Al Bundy and Ty Webb.  And those names don’t even begin to scratch the surface.  Rocky, Teen Wolf, Mighty Ducks, Caddyshack, Varsity Blues and Friday Night Lights are all covered too.So Smith presented Series 1 in early 2016 and it was largely sold out in the first month or so.  The pieces are all standard trading card size and are also signed and numbered by the artist.  I don’t know the exact print run on Series 1 but all of the cards I got today are numbered out of 90 except for one that is numbered out of 45.  So yeah, absolute short prints here.  Series 2 was just released in February and I pounced on the single I wanted and then splurged for a pack.  The singles are around $15 and the pack of 5 is $85 and includes either an “Air Bud” numbered to 45 (only available in packs) or an Artist Proof from a Sold Out Previous Edition.  They are available at www.nineteeneightyeight.com and www.cuylersmith.com and by all accounts appear to be headed for sold out again so I’m glad I jumped when I did.  Does the $219 Costanza make a little more sense now?Now, on to my mailday.  Don’t judge the condition by the photo as this particular card holder was taped by itself to cardboard for shipping and that is what you are seeing.  The cards were in mint condition and shipped very meticulously.  The single that I had to have as a 40 year old who sat in front of the Tv a ton from 10-15, was AC Slater from Saved By The Bell.  Don’t pretend for one second that you didn’t want to emulate at least one of the characters from Saved By The Bell growing up.  Maybe it was Screech, doesn’t matter.  This show is an iconic 90’s masterpiece and AC Slater was Sports on that show.  Football, Basketball and Wrestling, it didn’t matter.  AC was all world.  So I had to get that one out of the way even though I was buying a pack.  If I scored one in the pack too, just call it Christmas in March!After marveling over the Slater for a moment, I turned my attention to the pack of 5 cards.  The pack itself is also signed which is 1) a very nice touch but 2) screams “DON’T BREAK THIS SEAL!”  But I didn’t sit on my hands for the last 2 weeks to only look at an unopened pack.  After all, there was the slimmest of chances that a Costanza Artist Proof was lurking in that pack.  I know, I probably have a better chance of pulling the Babe Ruth card from those retail repacks at Wal Mart.  But hey, isn’t that what ripping packs is all about?So Card 1 was the limited edition Air Bud card.  It is numbered 43/45.  As mentioned above, nothing I received is numbered higher than 90.  As you can tell from the photo of the card, it lists the name, team name and number, which in this case is K9.  The back of each card includes a quote from the subject, “Woof” for Buddy, and a little peek at highlights and background.  The back of the cards have an older Topps set feel to them and it’s really a nice card stock.  The cards are also very well centered, unlike my photos.Card 2 was Fulton Reed, the massive defenseman from The Mighty Ducks films.  The card is numbered 90/90 and speaks of his time on Team USA as a member of The Bash Brothers with Dean Portman.  It also includes the Hendrix logo and his position on the front, staying true to sport card design.  If you’ve ever read my piece on The Video Superstore, you’ll know that this film was right in my wheelhouse, along with others that are covered in the set.  Nostalgia from all angles!Card 3 was Thornton Melon (Rodney Dangerfield) from “Back to School” and is also numbered 90/90.  This was another classic from the video store days.  This film was later in Dangerfield’s career but he still had the pizazz to woo the Hidden Valley Ranch spokeswoman from back in the day, Sally Kellerman.  He was also the master of “The Triple Lundy” and has one of the better card quotes, “With the shape I’m in, you could donate my body to science fiction.”  The card includes a diving logo on the front and a background of the high dives from GLU.Card 4 is a classic!  Hamilton “Ham” Porter from the Sandlot, numbered 89/90.  Of course you see the photo but was there any question what his quote would be?  It’s what he is famous for and I have owned shirts over the years that shout it!  “You’re killing me Smalls!”  His character made the film for me back in the day and I couldn’t have been happier with my Sandlot pull!  It even had the year in the top left corner, “1962.”Even though I love the Ham card, I saved the best for last.  Card #5 is none other than Rocky Balboa himself!  A beautiful card with a blue border and red, white and blue stripes, which every knows was Balboa’s signature colors when he defended his dear friend Apollo Creed’s (and the mighty USofA’s) honor in his bout with Ivan Drago, who is also included in the set by the way.  I now have a Trading Card that features Rocky Balboa, who was also Rambo, Cobra and Lincoln Hawk!  This one was numbered 90/90 and the quote is a great one; “Going in one more round when you don’t think you can – that’s what makes all the difference in your life.”

This card pack has made a big difference in my life as a collector and I could not be happier with the card selection, design, packaging and most importantly, the artwork in this set.  This has been an amazing “non-traditional” trading card few weeks for me.  First, I got my first set of “Welcome to The Show.”  If you haven’t made that purchase yet, I don’t know what you’re waiting for.  I’ve already ordered my second set.  Then I finally added some Cuyler Smith Trading Cards to my collection.  I’m about to get my second pack of that as well!  Unfortunately, time may be out on some of these cards but go look for yourself on the links I’ve provided above. He’s also on twitter under the handle @cuylersmith.  His twitter feed will lead you to the link to purchase these amazing cards.  If you’re intrigued like I was last year, don’t make the mistake I made and wait too long to get on the site.  These will go fast!  Score is obvious in this one!

Dub Score – 5

Fright Fest

They don’t make em like they used to.  This phrase could be used for a million different things.  The saudade in all of us can appreciate its meaning.  Movies are one of those million things but are one of my favorite things.  Horror movies to be specific, as evidenced in previous posts.  Hollywood has increasingly resorted to remaking the good ones and they still can’t get it right.  The fact is that they have run out of original ideas, so they rehash the old ones and add more gore and shock value.  This usually makes for a worse adaptation and comes off as trying too hard.  Scary for me has typically come in the form of being led down a dark tunnel and fearing what you can’t see as opposed to what you can.  So for me, the gore does nothing.  

As I was compiling my top album list, the thought hit me that I needed to put this one together too.  I have compiled the top 10 horror movies of my personal collection that would outperform anything being put out today.  As I put this list together, I tried to follow a general formula that included the scare factor, level of rewatchability (may or may not be a word) and quotable value.  I wound up with some classics, some mainstream favorites and some cheese as well.  I think they are all representative of my tastes in the genre.  While they may not be widely accepted as top 10’s, they are in mine and that’s the perks of having a blog.  I think I’ve even successfully put them in order.  So, let’s go to the movies!

10.  From Dusk Til Dawn (1996) – This Quentin Tarantino vampire classic blew me away the first time I saw it.  A group of us rented it not really knowing the plot other than it being about a couple of criminals on the run.  Yeah, that’s a minor subplot.  It’s loaded with a who’s who list of performers; Clooney, Tarantino, Harvey Keitel, Tom Savini, Cheech Marin, Juliette Lewis and a personal favorite of mine, Danny Trejo.  It also introduced me to an actress by the name of Salma Hayek, who played the lovely Santanico Pandemonium…..whew!  The more I thought about this one, the more I wanted to move it up the list but I can’t justify it.  It’s largely entertaining and has plenty of scare value as well but also goes off script a little too much to maintain some level of believability to keep the tension.  It teeters back and forth between horror, action and comedy, which helps it maintain its top 10 spot but also keeps it from threatening the top 5.

9.  Fright Night (1985) – This one to me was legit scary.  The effects in this movie were ahead of their time.  For a movie made in 1985, the vampires made me nervous to walk down a dark hallway.  Another level of fear for me at the time was the thought of knowing something and not being able to have anyone believe me.  That’s a kids worst nightmare.  This movie plays on the notion that there are monsters all around us but we can’t prove it.  I haven’t like Chris Sarandon since I saw that movie and can only envision him as a bad guy whenever I see him in other movies.  This is one that was remade in the 2000’s and fell way short in my opinion.  Could’ve been Colin Farrell or the lack of Roddy McDowell or a combination of both.  If you haven’t seen this, be sure to watch the ’85 version first.

8.  Return of The Living Dead (1985) – Ok, before you say it, I know this is one of the cheesiest zombie movies ever made but it was supposed to be and it was made obvious.  On the quotable level, this would probably be #2 as it is packed with 80’s goodness.  I also liked the fact that this movie actually revealed the origin of the pandemic as opposed to leaving it in the background.  It was even a plausible story as zombie apocalypses go.  A zombie (along with its gasses) is released in a single building but the dumb responses by the employees in the building lead to the widespread infection.  Oh, and the government is behind the whole thing.  Sounds reasonable.  This is a classic that will make you laugh more than anything but is still a horror by definition and is firmly in my top 10.

7.  The Shining (1980) – I believe this is Stephen King’s second best story, as you’ll see when I get to number 2.  It is more psychological than gory and keeps you thinking that it could legitimately happen.  This movie introduced viewers to “Redrum” and me to Scatman Carruthers.  Take a kid who sees dead people and talks to imaginary friends and put him in a haunted hotel and you’ll likely scare me every time.  Of course, this also included a performance by Jack Nicholson that is likely unmatched in his catalog, with the possible exception of Cuckoo’s Nest.  I catch myself to this day being a little anxious walking down a long hotel hallway thanks to those creepy twins.  It probably didn’t help that I saw this for the first time when I was about 6 thanks to a babysitter not caring what we watched.  

6.  Day of The Dead (1978) – This classic zombie flick made the list for one prominent reason.  Along with being a very entertaining film to begin with, it introduced us to the idea that a zombie could be domesticated if given the proper attention and teachings.  Bub was a lovable walker that enjoyed listening to his headphones just as much as I do.  Of course, the villains in the film, which weren’t the zombies for once, couldn’t understand or accept this so they eventually pushed him to be the monster he was.  There was a certain realism that was scary in this film that was unrelated to the zombies and has been taken to all new levels with The Walking Dead.  Sometimes, it’s the living that you have to be more afraid of than the dead.  

5.  Evil Dead (1981) – For the most part, I’ve never been a big fan of demonic or paranormal movies.  This is the glaring exception.  I don’t know if it was the setting I first saw this movie in or if it was the movie itself but it really creeped me out.  The first time I saw it was when I spent the night with a friend who lived out in the country.  Just down the road from his house was an old church and graveyard.  We would go to the graveyard as a group and see who was bravest among us to walk through it in the dark.  After watching Evil Dead, I don’t think we ever did that again.  Another film that was remade in the 2000’s and taken to a whole new level of shock value, the better version remains the original.  The disappointing issue with the film is that it spawned a couple of sequels that were purely spoof comedy and totally went off the rails.  If it had started that way, I could understand it but by the time we got to Army of Darkness, I was lost.

4.  The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) – The only movie on this list that has decent remakes is Chainsaw Massacre.  None beat the original though.  I think there is even another one coming out this summer.  I’m pretty sure me and Zibby are going to see that one as no one else will watch them with me.  The last Chainsaw Massacre I saw in the theater ended up with Alicia going to Wal Mart about 20 minutes in and not talking to me for a week.  This movie produced many imitations over the years but remains one of the original “creepy family kidnaps teenagers and tortures them” films.  It could probably be #1 on this list and many others but I have personal reasons for my top 3.  Still, Leatherface will go down as the scariest monster in my book.  An actual crazy person that has a taste for blood and enjoys wearing skin as a mask.  No thanks!

3.  Halloween II (1981) – The Halloween series and Michael Myers is probably my favorite collection of all time.  The only movie I didn’t like was III and it was an oddball movie about masks that went way off script from the general story.  While the original Halloween is considered the classic of the series, part 2 was the most entertaining to me.  This was partly due to the setting, a hospital.  Hospitals have always been one of the scariest settings for a horror movie to me.  I’m not entirely sure why but they make the hairs on my neck stand up.  Add Michael Myers to the setting and you’ve got a real creepfest.  Now would be the time to say that while I enjoyed Rob Zombie’s Halloween films, I would have been much happier had he just created his own movies instead of using Halloween, which should have remained as it was created.  If not for Malcolm McDowell playing Dr. Loomis, I’d be totally out on the new Halloween.  Which leads to my last point.  Sam Loomis may be the best character in a horror movie ever, aside from the killers themselves.  I love Donald Pleasance!

2.  Silver Bullet (1985) – This might not be a popular pick among most horror buffs but this one holds the #2 spot on my list. This is likely because it’s one of the first horror movies I watched from beginning to end.  I was probably 8 or 9 when I first saw it and some friends over at Fort Gaines had it on Beta, for those of you who remember that.  I can still plug that movie in today and watch it all the way through, fully entertained.  Corey Haim was pre Corey Feldman and Gary Busey was pre Gary Busey.  This is Stephen Kings greatest accomplishment in my opinion.  The effects were a bit corny and don’t hold up at all today but the story continues to be a haunting twist among many werewolf plots. It’s also very quotable.  So much so that I could probably act out the movie, playing each part, and only miss a line or two.  The movie is worth watching, if for no other reason, just to see Gary Busey tell his “jackass” joke.  When I decide it’s time for Bailey to start watching horror movies, this will be the first one she sees.  I may even watch it tomorrow night myself.

1.  Night of The Living Dead (1990) – I’ve already told the story behind this movie.  You can read all about it here, Old Friends.  This is the movie that got me hooked on zombie films for life.  The downside of the film was that I later could not enjoy the Candyman series due to my appreciation for Tony Todd and my dislike of his portrayal of a killer. My horror collection begins and ends with this film and it will forever be #1.

I couldn’t list just 10 movies so I listed a few more as potential list crackers but, for various reasons, didn’t make it.  

Honorable Mention:  

Aliens – Classic movie but just not quite a top 10 film.  It’s actually been a while since I’ve seen it.  I hope it still holds up.

28 Days Later – Great premise, great visual style, great effects.  The execution was just a little off and it lost me the closer I got to the end.  Great movie but not a list buster.

Shaun of The Dead – No doubt in my top 10 comedy list.  I just can’t bring myself to classify this as a horror.  That is the only reason it’s not in the top 10.

Friday the 13th – The series absolutely deserves to have a film in the top 10.  I will not argue that point and I’m disappointed in myself that it’s not there. I just couldn’t pick one out of all of them.  That’s it.

The Devil’s Rejects – This is what a Rob Zombie film is.  It’s really not a film I would go around recommending to just anyone either because you have to have a pretty strong tolerance for explicit scenes because it really pushes the envelope with its themes.  Great movie but really not for everybody.

So this is my list and I stand by it but feel free to tell me where I screwed up and what I left off.  If you haven’t seen all of these films, I’d recommend checking them out but keep an open mind as it relates to time periods.  I have these on DVD so come over and we’ll watch them together.  I’ll try not to quote them as we watch.

J-Dub

Video Superstore

   

 One post about movies is all it took for me to have this rush to the forefront of my mind.  I am one of the lucky ones to be alumni of that great establishment.  In Camilla, in the early to mid 90’s, there was really only one place for a teenager to work and be happy.  That was the Video Superstore.  They had one in Pelham too but come on, it was Pelham…..sorry Pelham folks, it’s just how I was raised.  Let’s be clear about the timeframe too – 1992-1995 was absolutely the heyday.  It was around a while later too but so was Saved By The Bell, The College Years.  

VS was nestled in the Wal Mart shopping center between Subway and Winn Dixie.  That was prime real estate during that time period and the video business was at the top of the entertainment game.  There was no Netflix, no Redbox, no YouTube.  I’m pretty sure the Internet didn’t hit the scene until 1995.  Before all of that, there was the video store.  And VS was a shining example of one!  It was the small town version of Empire Records.  We had so much fun there that most of the time it felt like we were getting paid to goof off.  Which I guess is a fairly accurate assessment too.

Sure there was work; dusting the shelves, vacuuming, window cleaning, checking the box and movie to make sure they matched up.  The managers even went through and jumbled movies from time to time to make sure we were doing the job.  “The Man” always has a way of dragging you down.  However, I knew those shelves like the back of my hand and they would’ve had to get up pretty early to get one over on me.  But back to the fun.  Friday and Saturday nights at VS were absolutely nuts!  Those were the nights everyone came to rent a video and those were also the nights that all of the other teens were riding back and forth through the Wal Mart parking lot.  The place was hopping and the doors were usually crowded with friends who would come “sit around” and just people watch.  I can still see my boys just hanging around the front door, in and out, making jokes and flirting with girls.  Usually, that last part went unrequited.  Still good times though.

There were other perks of the job too.  The T Shirts were a prize commodity.  All of my friends wanted a VS T Shirt, which came in short and long sleeve versions with the VS in the shape of the Superman logo.  We could also select any movie, below R Rating, to watch on the 3 TV’s scattered throughout the store.  During slow times, mostly mornings, you could watch entire movies between customers and catch anything that you might have been wanting to see for a while.  But perhaps the greatest perk was early viewing.  When movies came out on Tuesday, they would arrive at the store on Monday and the employees could take them home, provided they had them back before the store opened at 10 the next day.  Don’t underestimate the power of having a VHS tape in your possession before it was even released at 17 years old.

The customers were also a plus.  For some reason, most people going out to rent a video in those days were generally happy when they were in the VS.  Twenty-one years later, I can still remember one customers account number strictly based on the way he said it.   I even remember Alicia coming in the store pre-relationship.  She made it a point for me to remember.  She would ask a question like “can we come in without shoes” just to talk to me (her words not mine) and then just walk around the store and position herself so she could still see me (again, her words).  This was all after they would do a drive by to see if I was working.  I’m tellin you, that VS T Shirt did wonders for my social life.  But don’t worry, all of that infatuation dissipated during my umpire days.  But that’s another story for another day.

There are a ton of memories that I carry with me today that involve that hallowed place; Steven’s stirring rendition of Sammy Kershaw’s “Third Rate Romance”, Black Belt Jones, Lightning Jack, Shaq Fu, Munt watching movies with me on slow days and the gum ball machine that spit out tinfoil gum balls that represented a free rental.  Even the night I flipped a golf cart, bleeding all over one of the greens at Pinecrest Country Club started at the VS.  I guess that’s yet another story for another time.

Sadly, the run had to end at some point.  Of all the great aspects the store had to offer, one of the downsides was being open 365 days a year.  As it would work out one year, I had to work on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.  That was enough to send this 17 year old packing in search for a more laid back schedule.  Little did I know, that would be the most laid back workplace I would ever see.  I have since joked to my friends that in high school I had envisioned living a life like that in the “Clerks” movie, working at a video store and my best friend working next door.  Eventually, the store closed and the industry as a whole disappeared as more accessible and convenient ways to watch movies emerged.  But as easy as it is to turn on Netflix, they will never be able to replace the feeling of hanging out at one of the most popular spots in town on a Friday night, watching movies and trying to get phone numbers.  Oh, and getting paid for it the whole time. I love you VS!

Joey