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Save The Balls! Drown The Cards!

March 20th, 2014

[NOTE: This is a reprint of an article I wrote in 2006. I'm recovering some articles from my old ProgressaurusRex blog.]

For those of you that either followed baseball or collected baseball cards at any time in your life, there’s an interesting article over in slate about the death of baseball card collecting. I’m glad this article confirms the suspicion that i had all along — that the glut of cards thrown on the market in the 90’s made collecting them confusing and, frankly, no longer any fun.

But it stops waaaay short of addressing the further issue of the decline of baseball itself. I have to wonder if any others that read this article quit collecting — or following baseball at all, as i did — in 1994, the year of the last baseball strike. It was that year that I decided that in no way could I support those overpaid crybabies anymore (and to that end, I give you Exhibit A: Barry Bonds). And I can honestly say I don’t miss it one bit. Thank you, NFL!

I’m glad I got out when I did. Now, true to the “little investor” premise, I held on to what cards I had by putting them in storage, expecting they’d continue to appreciate in value and that I’d eventually sell them for much more than I had paid.

Four years later, 1998, I found myself in a bit of a financial crisis, so I decided to liquidate the cards. Now, I thought I was making a great compromise in my original plan, which was to ferret the cards away for decades and then, at last, reap the rewards. To my surprise, I found that already the market was falling. The truth was that aside from some notables (McGwire, for instance, who was in the process of hitting 70+ home runs that year), many of the other previously valuable cards were now next to worthless. It seemed that the whole market, which before had been roughly broken into major star/minor star/common value categories, had devolved to merely major or common (yes, the disappearing middle class). ALL of those $1-$5 blue chips now garnered no interest whatsoever.

“What gives?” I thought. Then I went to a baseball card shop for the first time in years. It only took a moment to figure it out: there were so many special edition, collector’s series, new brands, special sets, subsets, 3-d, jumbo, all-star, and other cards that I can’t imagine how anyone could’ve even started to collect them all; you wouldn’t have known where to begin. Closer inspection revealed that many of these cards were just too expensive right out of the box. sure enough, the card companies had gone upscale — five cards in one pack for $1? Just because they’ve got shiny gold-colored foil on them? Whatever. Even a kid knows that’s a ripoff.

Ultimately this was the death of baseball cards as we knew them. The card companies had succumbed to greed, just as the players that adorned those cards had. They had diluted the market by juicing the cards, just as baseball had diluted the game by juicing the balls [and the players - Ed.].

It reminded me, however, of an interesting card collecting anecdote from the 50s, though: the Topps company, faced with too much leftover stock in 1952, dumped thousands of cards into the Atlantic Ocean. This actually increased the value of the remaining cards; indeed, the Topps cards from the 50s are some of the rarest and most valuable of the mass-produced, post-WW2 baseball cards, and will always have a higher value-to-age ratio than any of the cards made since (by this I mean that when the cards made in the 80s are fifty years old, they won’t be as valuable as the cards made in the 50s are now).

Therefore, I propose that we dump half of all the cards produced since the 1980’s — and also half of all baseball players currently playing — into the Atlantic Ocean. This will add value to both the remaining cards, and the game of baseball. Because the game, and collecting baseball cards, will never be what it once was.

it also must be said…sleep-ins is DONE

May 12th, 2010

the Sleep-ins - Songs About Girls & Outer Space

the Sleep-ins - Songs About Girls & Outer Space

i mean that in a good way (the album is done, not the band). a bit of an incentive to finish as several tracks are now in rotation on wnyz in new york city. so the release date has moved up and we’re all talking about some live shows now. stefan is in london. josh is in sydney. mike is in indianapolis. that will be fun to work out. anyway, this one is coming out on ingot rock soon (this month? it’s completely my decision and i haven’t decided…). we’re going to time it to conicide with a promotional campaign on wnyz, and that isn’t quite ready yet. so hurry up and wait, here come the sleep-ins!

(of course you may listen to most of the tracks at the sleep-ins website)!

it must be said…

March 6th, 2010

The following groups say the danger of human-caused climate change is a … FACT:

U.S. Agency for International Development
United States Department of Agriculture
National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration
National Institute of Standards and Technology
United States Department of Defense
United States Department of Energy
National Institutes of Health
United States Department of State
United States Department of Transportation
U.S. Geological Survey
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
University Corporation for Atmospheric Research
National Center for Atmospheric Research
National Aeronautics & Space Administration
National Science Foundation
Smithsonian Institution
International Arctic Science Committee
Arctic Council
African Academy of Sciences
Australian Academy of Sciences
Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Sciences and the Arts
Academia Brasileira de Ciéncias
Cameroon Academy of Sciences
Royal Society of Canada
Caribbean Academy of Sciences
Chinese Academy of Sciences
Académie des Sciences, France
Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences
Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina of Germany
Indonesian Academy of Sciences
Royal Irish Academy
Accademia nazionale delle scienze of Italy
Indian National Science Academy
Science Council of Japan
Kenya National Academy of Sciences
Madagascar’s National Academy of Arts, Letters and Sciences
Academy of Sciences Malaysia
Academia Mexicana de Ciencias
Nigerian Academy of Sciences
Royal Society of New Zealand
Polish Academy of Sciences
Russian Academy of Sciences
l’Académie des Sciences et Techniques du Sénégal
Academy of Science of South Africa
Sudan Academy of Sciences
Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
Tanzania Academy of Sciences
Turkish Academy of Sciences
Uganda National Academy of Sciences
The Royal Society of the United Kingdom
National Academy of Sciences, United States
Zambia Academy of Sciences
Zimbabwe Academy of Science
American Academy of Pediatrics
American Association for the Advancement of Science
American Association of Wildlife Veterinarians
American Astronomical Society
American Chemical Society
American College of Preventive Medicine
American Geophysical Union
American Institute of Physics
American Medical Association
American Meteorological Society
American Physical Society
American Public Health Association
American Quaternary Association
American Institute of Biological Sciences
American Society of Agronomy
American Society for Microbiology
American Society of Plant Biologists
American Statistical Association
Association of Ecosystem Research Centers
Botanical Society of America
Crop Science Society of America
Ecological Society of America
Federation of American Scientists
Geological Society of America
National Association of Geoscience Teachers
Natural Science Collections Alliance
Organization of Biological Field Stations
Society of American Foresters
Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics
Society of Systematic Biologists
Soil Science Society of America
Australian Coral Reef Society
Australian Medical Association
Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society
Engineers Australia
Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies
Geological Society of Australia
British Antarctic Survey
Institute of Biology, UK
Royal Meteorological Society, UK
Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences
Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society
European Federation of Geologists
European Geosciences Union
European Physical Society
European Science Foundation
International Association for Great Lakes Research
International Union for Quaternary Research
International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
World Federation of Public Health Associations
World Health Organization
World Meteorological Organization

The following groups say the danger of human-caused climate change is a … FRAUD:

American Petroleum Institute
US Chamber of Commerce
National Association of Manufacturers
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Industrial Minerals Association
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association
Great Northern Project Development
Rosebud Mining
Massey Energy
Alpha Natural Resources
Southeastern Legal Foundation
Georgia Agribusiness Council
Georgia Motor Trucking Association
Corn Refiners Association
National Association of Home Builders
National Oilseed Processors Association
National Petrochemical and Refiners Association
Western States Petroleum Association

So… where do you stand - with science or with the profiteers?

Source: Daily Kos and Skeptical Science.

Quick Update

March 4th, 2010

Had to rework some release dates on Ingot Rock — essentially, moving everything back a couple of months while the holidays and some very bad weather dominated our lives here in NC.

Still in the studio, diligently working on the Sleep-Ins, because it truly never ends! The good news: Running Out Here is absolutely done and sounds better than it ever has. The bad news: sometimes improving one song makes another sound less-than-stellar, as a result. Realistically, there’s not much more that can be done, though, so here’s to hoping I really can get those tracks finished by summer. I’m going to say I can… there’s really only 2-3 left to do, and all that’s left are tiny details.

And yet they matter SO much.

Even moreso, the homeowners (waxon, the spoots, gas station sandwiches, the butter spot). More music I’ve been making. It’s a secret. Maybe you’ll get to hear it one day.

Also, a quick word about the apparent and imminent demise of another wonderful label, Karmic Hit. This is truly a shame, as there are few labels left in the world that so obviously relished the opportunity to bring good music to the rest of us. All the best to John Kilbey in his future endeavors; when I was in Australia he was the first to give me a chance at doing something worthwhile, which is something that I’ll always appreciate & never forget.

Until next time,


buried in the mix

September 13th, 2009

how about some action?

how about some action?

after stepping away from the sleep-ins project for several weeks’ time, i’ve finally gotten a chance this weekend to get back to mixing. now, it seems like it should be easy, mixing. but it’s not — although i must admit the difficulty is inherently ego-driven. there is some truth to the notion that i might be more perfectionist about my own projects. that isn’t to say i just phone it in when i’m mixing someone else; on the contrary, i suspect that what i need is what others seek when they ask me to mix for them: a different perspective. i might mix a better record for someone else precisely because i won’t get caught up on the minor issues i do when it’s my own music i’m critiquing.

those minor issues become major hang-ups when it’s your baby.

are the vocals too loud/not loud enough/in pitch/lacking proper inflection? is that guitar part interesting enough? why doesn’t the bass have the growl i want? are the drums too sibilant? why isn’t everything perfect?

those crazy sleep-ins

those crazy sleep-ins

alas, the many distracting sideways journeys that detour the progress of the album’s completion. years have passed while i’ve wracked my brain and tortured my ears with hundreds, even thousands, of repeated listens to music that needs finishing. only recently have i begun to just declare warts and all an acceptable product, because i just don’t have enough time on my hands anymore…and the thought of dying having done a lot with little to show for it is not a very welcome one.

so on that, uh, note - a bit of the awesome happened this weekend. while i didn’t finish the album (that’d be the sleep-ins, songs about girls and outer space), the final track count looks to be 8 songs and here’s how it looks (listen to most of these at ingot rock):

  1. silver state - is finished(?) although i might still have to dial back the ’shimmer’ on the drums.
  2. chrome skull cap & matching codpiece - also finished(?), not sure about one vocal trick in there
  3. angelina - is finished!
  4. running out here - might be finished as of last night…
  5. tonya, extraplanetary spaceship girl - thought i had the magic but another listen says otherwise; vocals just too rough.
  6. astro-not - could be finished; this one got a cool treatment a la the warriors.
  7. desert song - is done.
  8. bug on my face - stef came up with what he calls a final mix, but man, those vocals…

not exactly a magnum opus, but a nice project nonetheless. there might be exactly zero people waiting for me to finish this, incidentally. ok, that’s not true. there must be at least 3 australians. and a couple of english gits. but no americans. maybe i should rename it ‘death panels’…

i was a teenage raydon

April 23rd, 2009

mt4xback in the old days we recorded without computers. yeah, imagine that. we used little machines called 4-tracks that needed cassette tapes (again w/ teh analog). this mode of recording was easy to set up and sounded pretty good (especially the drums, when they were recorded right & in tune) — not really ever “pro” quality, but then what we did actually sounded better without the gloss…most of the time.

the problem with analog recording is it takes longer to mix because you actually have to wait until the tape forwards or rewinds, and it takes a lot longer to edit because that usually involves splicing the tape and/or having another tape machine. in reality, editing wasn’t even a viable option; you were much better off trying to get your takes as close to perfect as you could because there was no way you were taking a razor blade to your master.

well, after many years of 4-trackin’ i ended up with a bunch of tapes. and (wouldn’t you know it) it’s been a long while since i’ve actually owned a machine that will play them. so…hmm, what to do?

ah yes, that’s right, i borrowed heath’s machine. a long time ago. he asks me about it sometimes.

as it turns out, what i’m doing does serve his interests, because he’s on quite a few of the tapes. last night i began the process of recording all of those tapes onto my computer, track by track. there are over 30 tapes so as you can imagine it’s taking a while. between each recorded segment i have to recheck all the levels because pretty much everything was done at different times with different equipment. going through a single 45 minute tape can end up taking 2 hours or more. it’s a labor of love.

maxell_xlii90i started with tape 1 but realized i might have to prioritize things a bit and moved right into the raydons sessions, which i’ve been meaning to do for months. i actually discovered a few gems in there amongst the usual suspects (alternate version of so happy today, and a raucous version of a splinters song featuring fernando the mystery bass player). the best discoveries will end up on some sort of raydons release through ingot rock, i reckon. about a year ago i was holding out hope that the “new” raydons could overcome the logistics and finally get some tunes down, but i think regardless of that outcome, this stuff needs to get out there. i’m guessing it will, sometime this year.

which reminds me - heath called a few days ago and said he might be visiting. i wonder if he wants his 4-track back?

weekly rock out & other observations

April 21st, 2009

monday nite is rock nite. fun stuff… two drum kits, guitars, bass, keys and beer. and a little good ol’ fashioned 4-trackin. i gotta say that stuff was mighty loud n good.

this is my underpants gnomes version of blog writing for today…

1. write cool title

2. ?

3. profit!


sure there’s stuff going on… i’m just not tellin’!

artwork rehash

April 18th, 2009

kingsizerobot - homecoming pageant & paradeback in the old days when i didn’t know squat about the interneck or graffik desing i made some bad decisions, and i didn’t really understand the value of keeping high resolution copies of my creations. so the originals are gone. i’m recreating some and starting from scratch on the rest. my latest attempt is the mad scientist, kingsizerobot homecoming pageant & parade cover. this was always one of my favorites because of the simplicity and the value of letting the pictures tell the story. whatever that story is.

i took all those pictures in the southern-ish indiana area (in the areas of bloomington and french lick for the record) with an old argus camera. that’s genu-ine sepia tone (teh analog kind) - not none of that photoshop bs.

o ya, this is getting released via the ingot rock next week (or so… it involves logistical realities). on cd available through amazon and the ingot rock store. also download it now for the super cheap price it will be until it shows up on amazon…(!)

UPDATE: too late, it’s on amazon now!

studio notes…

April 9th, 2009
  • just finished mixing chrome skull cap & matching codpiece for the sleep-ins cd. that one’s due in june.
  • some new lonesomerobot songs in process, should have 9 or 10 songs total. the album is to be called dulce periculum.
  • that should be out later this year (fall?)
  • man i have a lot to do.
  • don’t you just love unordered lists?
  • also working on a side project, codename: the homeowners. don’t know what to make of this one yet.

new music for old times

March 19th, 2009

a historical note:

several years ago i recorded an album with my friend bob peckyno, under the name bathsheva. finishing this record was an arduous task, and the subsequent musik bidness wrangling was enough to make us want to move to hungary and become obscure web designers for the beef industry. this was one of those life experiences that kinda had it all — glorious moments of premature self-congratulatory joy, utter frustration, discovery and personal growth, devastation, boredom and tedious action giving way to inconclusive and often maddening results.

which is why it is ultimately very gratifying to at last say IT IS DONE.
bathsheva - mine field dream
go ahead, click the linky… you can buy it at createspace, amazon and maybe target(?)

needless to say this is something of which we are both proud, and i have to give a lot of credit to bob for taking this one off the shelf, dusting it off and finally pushing it out into the world. i tend to give short shrift to my electronical orchestrations and creations, especially these days.

so, what’s it like? a bit trancy, soundscape, some hints of jazz and classical, and — dare i say it — new age. ok, maybe a lot of new age. it’s a bit of a departure from my normal stuff, but still a valuable contribution, especially in the realm of new age music (because it must be said that there is some awful new age music out there). bathsheva breaks the mold to a large extent.

could i do it again? possibly. i believe for now i’ll just content myself to the satisfaction of knowing mine field dream has finally seen the light of day.

more music on the way…