Monthly Archives: December 2012

2012 Blog in Review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 9,400 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 16 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.


COMC Black Friday Haul

On Black Friday, I finally used Check Out My Cards for more that just a reference website, and actually purchased something. LOTS of something, actually.

Besides offering free shipping for orders of more than 10 cards (not a problem!), they were set up to allow their sellers to offer sale prices, plus they gave a $.10 credit for each card purchased, so if I was ever to dive in, this was the opportunity.

I approached their huge inventory from many different directions, looking for Twins cards to complete sets, knock out some annoying 80’s/90’s singles, find some cheap vintage needs, inexpensive autograph cards, and favorite players (ie: Lewwwww!).

The booty was nicely packaged, and arrived in a timely manner; I was more than happy with the cards and with their service. Now, to spend the $7.60 in credit!

(pictures below after the break)
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Merry Bipmas?!

I had let the trading go on hiatus with the holidays coming up, but a small box arrived that I was not anticipating. No name on it, but it was postmarked from Oradell, NJ, and the handwriting looked like it could be familiar. I’m having the box checked for DNA, but in the meantime, what was inside it?

First, a piece of paper with this written on it:




Oh crap, a bipping?!

54 Chip Hale cards from 1990 Donruss!

No doubt about it, a Code Red Bipping was in progress…

62 Mike Dyer cards from 1990 Donruss!!

…make that a rabid DEFCON 1 Bipping…

101 Mark Guthrie cards from 1990 Donruss!!!

…nope, a Special Apocalyptic Death-defying Class 12 Extreme Bipping, and I was the recipient. Oh, the anonymous fiend! And yet:

2010 Topps Update Minnesota Twins 50th Anniversary Commemorative Patch #MCP145 Joe Mauer

Wait a minute, that’s one that I needed! What the heck? Mysterious Bipper, whomever you are ;), I hope you enjoyed your foul deed as much as I laughed when I opened it. Have a great Christmas!

Play With The Prose II — Challenge #15 (And Last!): Christmas Ghosts

Round fifteen, the last of the Fiction 59 (59-word stories) head-to-head challenges required writing about Christmas Ghosts…past, present, or whatever:

Santa entered the large chamber to begin his yearly review of the prospective Ghosts of Christmas Past/Present/Future.

“Lots of chains, good, good …. and hey, I like the red eyes – nice touch. You – add another couple layers of gauzy cloth. Impressive garland crown!”

“Wait a minute … Daneeka’s Ghost?!”

The gaunt, ethereal cheetah slunk out of the exit.

  • Santa’s in charge of the Christmas ghosts? Why not?
  • Daneeka’s Ghost? Who? Only WGOM Citizen and multi-Spookymilk Survivor winner, that’s who.

Once more into the breach — RESULTS

Mine was submission #1 this time — the judges’ comments:
MATTHEW: If any of you guys can be described as a gaunt, ethereal cheetah, I’m never attending a meet-up. Story 2 was cute, and I like the idea of Santa being involved in the selection of the various Xmas ghosts. But it was in service of a hook that didn’t work on me, since I don’t know who the hell anyone is around here still. Story 1 was meatier, and I’m glad I figured out who it was referencing. It’d be interesting to see the author lay out just what the consequences would be of an ancient British spirit pimping for the US military. WINNER: #1

Novak – #1 makes me go “huh.” Huh. Where did this idea come from. The transformation from Christmas yet to come to Uncle Sam is so out of left field that I can’t help but be impressed at the concept. #2, on the other hand, has such a strong inside joke reference – but not too inside, as we should all get it – that I’m a huge fan. It’s very good showing vs. telling too, so I’m happy to give #2 the win.

ANDY: Hmm… not sure what to make of these two. I’m in a bit of a stupor, so forgive me, #1, but I’m not grasping what his right arm will advertise. Otherwise, I like the concept and it’s written well, with the right tone. #2, you came close with the Santa character, but for some reason I’m not feeling the meta in this entry. Sorry. Winner: #1.

WINNER: Will Young

*sigh* 5/10 record — disappointing? Well, didn’t make the playoffs, yeah, but I had fun, didn’t I? Darn straight! Thanks again, Spooks, judges, and everyone that participated.

Play With The Prose II — Challenge #14: Modern Tall Tale

Round fourteen (one more!) of head-to-head challenges with Fiction 59 (59-word stories) pressed us to write a modern day tall tale. Well, once upon a time…

The battle between Godzilla and Superman raged for interminable weeks, each having materialized inexplicably from their respective country’s tortured psyches. Yet both cowered in abject fear at The Unspeakable Horror that emerged from the crushing depths, summoned forth by the misguided faculty of Miskatonic University. It was then that Americans realized a crippling two-party gridlock trumps a non-benevolent dictatorship.
  • As far as “new” American tall tales go, I considered comic book heroes and modern fiction to be the tale tales of the current era. I chose to mix comic book, movie, and book figures into my story.
  • Many tale tails worked to explain the existence of something, typically a geographical feature or some such. The idea fell out that it instead explained something political.

Same ol’, same ol’? RESULTS

Mine was submission #2 in this time around — the judges’ comments:
MATTHEW: Whoa, matchup serendipity. Two stories of the Zilla/American Hero variety facing off. Story 2, did you mean to say that two party gridlock trumps dictatorship? Because your story seems to suggest that the Cthulhu mythos wins here. Maybe you meant to imply that Americans would’ve preferred the two-party system. Well, never mind…I still found myself enjoying story 1 better, because it made me laugh out loud. And it was…a love story. WINNER: #1

ANDY: I appreciate the effort, #2, and the prose is great, I just wasn’t moved enough by the concept. I don’t want to take too much away from your piece, as it shows the signs of excellent writing skill, and clearly a good amount of effort. The concept of Paul Bunyan falling in love just tickled me a bit more, and I guess that’s the difference maker. Winner: #1.

Novak – Oh, you’ve got me laughing out loud #1. That’s awesome. Also, two godzillas? What are the odds? #2, I wasn’t quite sure what you’re going for. The last line reads like the moral of a fable, but the rest of the entry doesn’t set it up quite right. #1 wins.

WINNER: Ian Pratt

I barely have a ghost of a chance next week…

The Toddfather Variety Pack

A couple months ago when I stumbled upon Home of the Toddfather, I was happy to find a Rockies collector that I could swap cards with, so I contacted Tim to test the waters. He had a fine variety of Twins cards that I needed (some shown below) and I was able to compensate him with a mostly-Heltonesque package in return.

clockwise, from top left: 2012 Topps Chrome Xfractor #158 Joe Benson; 2006 Upper Deck Signature Sensations #SS-NP Nick Punto (auto); 2008 Topps Co-Signers Hyper Plaid Blue #26b Justin Morneau/Michael Cuddyer [22/50]; 2012 Topps Stickers #89 Josh Willingham; 2006 Cracker Jack Ballpark Legends II Harmon Killebrew; 2012 Topps Stickers #308 Tsuyoshi Nishioka

Thanks for the exchange, Tim!

Play With The Prose II — Challenge #13: Shooting A Gun

Round thirteen (two more!) of head-to-head challenges with Fiction 59 (59-word stories) required us to write about the firing of a gun. Let’s start with a bang:

His ears still ringing, Dean sighted through the scope, out the shattered plate glass window, past the splintered tree limb swinging from its tentative grip, to the craft store’s pierced sign shaking from the chains that held it nearly two blocks away. Turning to the cowering man behind the display counter, a grin split his face. “I LIKE IT!!”
  • I intentionally extended the first sentence as a metaphor for the long shot that Dean just took. Nice that at least one judge picked up on that.
  • I named my character after my worthy opponent, but really wanted to go with Chekhov.
  • Last line was going to be, “I’LL TAKE IT!!” but instead I made it an homage to a great line in Robocop:

Blow this thing up! RESULTS

Mine was submission #2 in this challenge — the judges’ comments:
MATTHEW: I like where you’re going, Story 1: Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Williams, Vol. 1″. And nicely evocative descriptions. Story 2, you really grabbed me, though. The overlong first sentence was perfect to describe the aftermath of a super-long-distance sniper rifle. The pace and payoff sold me. WINNER: #2

Novak – Is this a thing now? Using names of CdL folks? (Williams/Brookings = Will/Brooks; Dean; Gilman… etc.). #1 has great motivation. I love the descriptions, but I find myself wondering if it would have worked better in first person. Maybe not. #2 took me a minute to realize what had happened. So much focus was put on the path of the sight/bullet that I thought the target would be more relevant, when really it was the shooting that was the issue. A bit confusing in that, but really fun to envision what happened and the path the bullet took. It’s my close call of the week, and I’ve gone back and forth on this, but this time I’m giving the edge to #1.

ANDY: A little corny and predictable for my taste, #1, sorry. #2 is a bit more original of a concept, and written a bit better as well. That’s my winner: #2.

WINNER: David Larson

Well, alright then. The next challenge is a tall order…

Play With The Prose II — Challenge #12: No English

Round twelve of head-to-head challenges with Fiction 59 (59-word stories) posed the challenge of writing about someone who could not speak English. Can do:

“Hey! Which way is the courthouse?”

Pedro looked up and saw the suited man, but Carson answered, “Pedro doesn’t speak English. Courthouse is three blocks that way.”

“Stupid spic!” the suit uttered as he walked away.

“He understands it though,” Carson mumbled, giving Pedro the universal sign for “jerk off”, to which Pedro signed back, “big time jerk off.”

  • I intentionally chose a character who it would be believed didn’t speak English to draw away from the idea that he couldn’t speak at all.
  • It’s too easy picking on the suits, isn’t it?

More of the same? RESULTS

Mine was submission #2 this time around — the judges’ comments:
MATTHEW: I’m feelin’ ya, Pedro. Stupid privileged suit and his subtle, vulgar racism. It’s a nifty little story, but oh man. Story 2, you had the misfortune of being paired against Story 1, which is clever in the right ways. Not just a gimmick, a nice little piece of tidy science fiction. Well done. WINNER: #1

ANDY: Very clever, #2. A great concept and it’s executed pretty well. However… INSTANT WIN for #1. Don’t know if this was done for my benefit, as I’ve already admitted my computer-nerdness, but I totally dig it. And yes, I speak ASCII very well, thank you.

Novak – There’s just far too many typos for me to consider #1 seriously, but I love what they’re going for here. Seriously though, no typos, I know… I wondered if I’d be having to use translators a lot. Didn’t anticipate this one. #2 is a solid exchange – very realistic, and I like the approach on difference between speaking/hearing. I wish there were a little more at stake in the story though. Ultimately, though solid, #2 can’t compete with #1’s big risk taking. #1 wins.

WINNER: Erik Dikken

Erik kicked butt; time for a new opponent…