17 April, 2013

Auf Wiedersehen, Los Angeles

I'm moving up to northern California tomorrow after being back home in Los Angeles for almost a year.  A few of you fellow bloggers might recall that I got a job at Pinterest in San Francisco.  It should be cool beans.  Nevertheless, I ultimately prefer living in southern California.  One of the best things about living in LA?  Being able to make the drive to Dodger Stadium and watch my team, the Dodgers:

Dodger Stadium panorama
Click to enlarge and see it high quality or original size on Flickr.  You can see my friend Adam at the right of the photo.  You can also see Greg Zakwin's (of Plaschke) knee and elbow to the far right of the picture.

I took the above photograph on Monday, April 15 during the Jackie Robinson Day game against the San Diego Padres.  I had totally forgotten it was Jackie Robinson Day, though I knew they were handing out Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, and Don Newcombe statues.  Packing and the prospect of moving has made me spaced out at times.  It was awesome to catch a ballgame in my hometown before I move back up to the land of poor weather (to be fair, poor for California but better than most places) and dumb SF Giants.  It was also great to hang out with fellow blogger and friend, Mr. Zakwin.

Go Dodgers!  I'll be back.

04 April, 2013

Giant Robots and Giant Monsters!

I love mechs.  I will pretty much play any video game or watch any movie that features mecha.  If I had millions or billions of dollars, I would likely have one built for me.  Pacific Rim is a movie I very much look forward to seeing when it is released in July.  The film is essentially about giant robots fighting giant monsters, is directed by Guillermo del Toro, and features an awesome cast that includes Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, and Ron Perlman.

My girlfriend and I attended the Friday, March 29th date of Wondercon 2013 at the Anaheim Convention Center.  It was fun!  Unfortunately for us, the Pacific Rim panel was on Saturday.  Fortunately, however, some ladies were walking about the convention handing out some Pacific Rim promotional goodies:

I saw card-sized cellophane packs being handed out and I think my "collector sense" tingled.  I immediately knew that the Pacific Rim promo girls were handing out some sort of trading cards.  Here's what the packs looked like.  It seems that different nations will have their own robots in the movie.  This one apparently features the "Crimson Typhoon" from the People's Republic of China.

The "Cherno Alpha" from Russia.  I think "Cherno" means black.  The mech is black, so that would make sense.

The Pacific Rim promo ladies, who were dressed in a sort of army green military-esque go-go uniform, were also handing out temporary tattoos.

I love this kind of thing.  The backs of the cards show stats for each mech.  It makes me feel like a kid again.  It shows the robots' speed, power, and armor ratings, as well as their monster (or "kaiju") kill count, and their height, weight, and scale.  Looks like China-bot is all about speed and mobility, while Russia-bot is a powerhouse tank.

I hope Pacific Rim turns out to be good and entertaining.  Hannibal is on in half an hour.  Mads Mikkelsen is fuckin' awesome!

*Update: Hannibal was merely OK.

2012-13 Panini Select Basketball Box Break and Review

I should start off by mentioning that Panini is one of my favorite card companies.  They consistently release products that offer great designs, good collation, and decent value - all backed with excellent customer service.  However, just because Panini is one of my favorites does not mean that they can do no wrong.  You often see this with unapologetic Topps fanboys.  In fact, it is your unalienable right as a consumer to be able to fully and honestly speak your mind about the things you purchase.

I do know that my expectations were very high for 2012-13 Panini Select Basketball.  Hell, it's called "Select," and the dude that sold it to me seemed pretty stoked on it.  I probably shouldn't have pumped myself up for it so much.  I also should have looked at some of the press releases.  Unfortunately, Select was ultimately underwhelming.  A tale of the good, the bad, and the ugly - told with pictures:

We'll start off with the good.  I love the base cards in Select.  The cards are classy and the players are elegantly displayed.  There is a museum portrait-like quality to the regular base cards, with their  cohesion of silver/gold borders, color-matched backgrounds, and cropped action poses.  I bet these would look awesome as a completed set.

I hate James Harden's beard.  Hate it!  Here are two Prizm parallel base cards.  I did not pull any of the gold or black Prizms, respectively numbered to 25 and 1.  The Prizm technology makes the base cards pop even more.  Very aesthetically pleasing.  I am suddenly kind of inspired to collect a complete base set of Select Prizms.

Here's where it gets a bit ugly.  (Yes, I'm aware that I am going out of order.)  The inserts in Select are plain ugly.  They look uninspired.  That Patrick Ewing card on the left looks heinous and ridiculous.  The Chris Paul insert on the right is boring.  Panini did such a good job on the base cards that the insert cards became so underwhelming for me.

The elegance is gone.  Nice players, but these cards look like posters that would be hanging in Guy Fieri's man cave.  The cards above might be much improved without the shoddy flames in the background.

I like the idea of the "In Flight" set (see Ricky Rubio on the left), but the execution was bad.  It looks like an in-flight magazine ad, not a sports card.  "White Hot" bollocks.  Pointless inserts.  You might be able tell that my photography quality went down for the insert cards because I stopped caring.

This is just bad.  Really, Panini?  Apologies to Royce White, but no one wants this.  Goddamn you.  I guess at least one hit is always going to be a "garbage" hit.  At least the card looks nice.  In fact, the rest of the hits are as excellently designed as the base cards.  Rookie Prizm auto #'d 004/199.

Kyle Singler, rookie Prizm auto-relic, #'d 012/199.  Singler went to Dook.  The team logo could be bigger on these cards.

Tobias Harris, on-card rookie autograph, #'d 002/299.  This kid is tearing it up.  Not a "garbage" hit, indeed!

This card is sweet!  J.J. Redick, Select Stars prime Prizm autograph-jersey relic, #'d 10/10.  I have been searching for a nice Redick auto for a while, and what do you know, pulled one here.  I believe there are only 25 players in this subset.

I feel that Panini could have been, well, more selective for a higher-end basketball product like Select.  Royce White was taken in the first round, yes, but come on.  Also, I thought the inserts were completely awful.  I probably would not be so underwhelmed if I had tempered my expectations too.  All things considered, I guess 2012-13 Panini Select wasn't so bad.  It could have been a Topps hobby box where half the cards are damaged and you get shorted a hit.

I leave you with the Kobe Anthology pack that came with the box:

These make for much better inserts.

Please make the playoffs, Lakers.  More Nash.

01 April, 2013

A trade with GCRL

I've been hanging around and partying hard for several days, so my blog has been a bit ignored.  Here's a quick post to make up for that.  I recently completed a trade with GCRL.  It was cool to trade with him, as Jim is one of the longest-standing and most prolific Dodger bloggers around.  I sent him an Adrian Beltre autograph from 1999 Gallery (plus a few extras) that I originally posted at the Blog of Trade Bait.  This is what I received in return:

2004 Upper Deck Legends, Timeless Teams #181 Pedro Guerrero auto.  On card.  Sweet!

I don't have many Pedro Guerrero cards, but this is a great one to own.  Opening Day is today.  Baseball!  Yaaay!

I accepted an offer to work for Pinterest.  So, I will be moving back up to the shoddy half of California soon.  I will definitely try to fly back for some ballgames at the new and improved Dodger stadium though.  Go Dodgers!