My Year in Hobbies 2023

Hahahahaha, nope.

Probably not doing a long (by my standards, not yours) read if I can help it.

Didn’t keep track of first and last card of the year (and I’ve got 8 days on last card), am genuinely unsure of what the coolest thing I’ve gotten in any or all of my hobbies is without researching my own life (memory issues will do that), and I’ve only got three goals for 2024. One of them is “have fun”, another is “get rid of a bunch of stuff, because I can totally spare it”, and the rest is below.

Short (again, by my standards) Version:

I still have hobbies. I probably still need some new ones, but let’s deal with the ones that are currently on my plate first.

I’m looking to wrap up the serious collecting part of my current hobbies by June of 2024. After just under 5 decades of Collecting Them All (thanks, Oats), I’m really tired of being constrained by completism, so I’m working on that, to the best of my ability.

I’m not getting rid of all of my stuff, but just going over my doubles, I have kind of a lot. More posts about that here soon, I promise.

I have started doing card trades again, and I think people have been pretty happy with their ends of the deals so far. Have a few of you to square away stuff with yet, and a few that I’m still trying to get things moving with, but I’ve been in touch with all of you, or tried to be, anyway, pretty recently.

I’m almost out of active players whose sports cards I collect. Weird. Right now, I’m down to Vlad Jr., Harper and Greinke, assuming he finds a gig for ’24. (If I’m a baseball team, I sign the guy and let him pitch, no matter how he pitches, for as long as he wants to. His value’s much bigger than wins and losses.)

Probably for the best that I’m not focusing on the present day in sports, as a company I don’t care for has a near-monopoly on sports cards.

As I wrote on a Discord server that’s familiar to a few of my readers earlier today:

“OK, so who wants to help me further figure out what cards I wish to keep collecting?

I’ve been updating my comic and video game want lists throughout the weekend, had a few of my top wants come in, so I keep updating those on my site, and every time, when I look at the top card wants? It’s all kind of a blur of names and numbers to me. Which happens, we fall in and out of hobbies, and sometimes, if stuff’s not right in front of you and you’re not in the middle of it, you’re not really in touch with what’s fun about it.

But yeah, I streamlined the want list some, but I need to further figure out what I’m actually excited to chase at this point, if anything. It could be that nothing changes further on that list, but I just don’t prioritize it aside from trading my duplicate and unwanted cards with y’all.

Tall order, I know. I don’t think it’ll lead to any bigger of a sell-off than I’ve already been passively working toward (like, I’m not going to start shoveling ’59 Topps at people or whatever), but I really need to continue to nail down my perspective on that one of my collections.

(It’s not the only one. I have tons of action figures, but only really have Mego and DC Direct/Marvel Legends-scale figures on display right now.)”

In my other hobbies, I’m pretty close to having the collections I dreamed of as a kid, and hopefully I get some genuine quality time to enjoy them as an adult. I also definitely have to figure out what that looks like for a few of ’em, but “that’s why we play the games”, so to speak.

But heck, enough about me, though. How was your year?

My Year in Hobbies 2020

This is gonna be long, and it’s going to be all over the place. There are going to be (some) highs and lows (one of which is rough; consider yourselves disclaimed). Last year, I did things monthly. We’re not doing that this time. I’m gonna go by subject, and do my best to be concise, in light of…well, 2020.

Some website-centric/house cleaning kinda stuff, first:

If you didn’t notice yet, I’m not formatting paragraphs on this website like this anymore.

For a time, I liked it aesthetically because this was such an image-centric website, but I’m told that it messes with readability, particularly for disabled people (while doing some research on accessibility, I read that it can mess with how Autistic people process what they’re reading; and you’re one of my readers and this has been your experience, I apologize, and I’ll do better moving forward), so it’s officially out.

Also, as I predicted it would, figuring out image captioning slowed things down a lot, but that doesn’t make it bad, and I’m practicing it a lot over at Substack, where I’ve been doing far more writing of late. I’m still going to tinker with it a little, because I did it two different ways on this site, and I think that a hybrid of those ways is probably going to be the best way to go, moving forward.

Speaking of, I’m sure those of you who aren’t interested in Another Thing, or aren’t that interested in the rest of what goes on in my life and are Just Here For The Cards, Man are gonna be like “awww, come on” if I spend any more time plugging the Substack like the rest of your middle-aged, white, male, at least marginally sports-inclined friends are, but I can tell you (and you can see) that I’ve been writing here very little, and over there, I’ve written or posted at least something literally every day since August 31st. I don’t make it easy to sign up (you have to actually contact me and ask, and I reserve the right to say “no” or kick people off the subscriber list if they’re lousy in the comments or spread what’s in the newsletter around to the general public), but it’s free and will remain that way, which most other Substacks that have that kind of output are not. If we’ve known each other long enough to have a cordial personal relationship, either through my comments section, by enough trades that the emails aren’t just “PLEASE SEND BASEBALL CARD THANK U” or some other way, I think you’ll enjoy it, even if a good chunk of it isn’t specifically what you come here for.

Classic Posts didn’t get added much, if at all in 2020, and I might take down the old site entirely soon because it’s pretty ephemeral. Do any of you actually think “Hey, I want to read what Scott had to say about The Empty Monster Box of Shame in 2013″ as part of your regular practice? (OK, I probably will add that post to this site, because it’s an evergreen, but still.) Let me know where y’all are at on this one. It’s not costing me anything, but it’s still an old and now-neglected portion of my Internet presence, and I’ve been trying to avoid having those these days.

With all of that out of the way now, let’s begin the recap…

2020 was a weird, no-good, awful, terrible, screwed-up, lousy stinkin’ year. We are welcome, and I’d say, we’ll be encouraged to keep sayin’ it for the rest of our lives. If we made it this far, we’ve earned it. I hope that all of you who were readers of mine before March 11th, 2020 are still with us and in good health, because so many people weren’t as fortunate, and that’s still very much an ongoing thing.

On this note, I’m going to try to tie a few threads together here at once, and this may or may not work well as an example of good writing, but please bear with me.

As longer-term readers of mine may remember, this was The First Card of 2020. I’m just posting it here to cover the usual First Card/Last Card traditions, and we can move on from it after looking at it, as it’s otherwise not relevant to what I have to write (though it’s still really cool).

[Image Description: A 2019 Panini Rookies baseball card of Vladimir Guerrero, Jr.. Against a leathery textured brown, denim blue and beige background, Blue Jays 3rd baseman Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. (center), a Black man with medium brown skin and blonde dreadlocks, wearing a blue and grey uniform, swings a beige baseball bat.]
While there has not yet been a First Card of 2021, a 1951 Topps Red Back Duke Snider was The Last Card of 2020.

[Image Description: a 1951 Topps Red Back Duke Snider card sits on a black-brown woodgrain Ikea table top. At the diamond-shaped center inset of the card, which is mostly white and has rounded corners, there is a cut-out photograph of Brooklyn Dodgers player Edwin “Duke” Snider, a smiling white man with dark eyebrows, wearing a baseball cap with the Brooklyn Dodgers’ letter B logo on the center of the cap and a white shirt, against a blue background. On the bottom right edge of the diamond inset, text reading “No. 38 IN A SERIES OF 52” is written in black letters. The card also has yellow backgrounds for the top right and bottom left parts of it, and a thin red border around the inner part of the card. At the top left and bottom right corners, there is a red baseball with the number 1 in the center of it, and the word “SINGLE” written in a font that curves around the bottom of the baseball, directly below it (right side up at top left, upside down at bottom right). On the top right yellow section, a small cartoon of a white man in a white baseball uniform with black highlights, facing left, running with a baseball bat after the follow through of his swing, appears. On the bottom left yellow section of of the card, black text reads “ED (DUKE) SNIDER” with “ED” and “SNIDER” in a larger font than “(DUKE)”, then below that, in a different black font, the card reads “Walloping the ball at a .321 clip, the left-hander Brooklyn Dodger out-fielder hit 31 homers and had 107 runs batted in.”]
As a bunch of people have in recent months, because happenings on the site were so unstable for so long, and I’d heard a bunch of vague noise about it on card Twitter and elsewhere, I’ve cleaned out my COMC port for now, mostly so, if anything went terribly wrong with the company, I’d have at least gotten something for what was left in my inventory there. When I did that, I had a good handful of credit in the account, and I used it to buy Duke here, and have him shipped to me. I’d other made single-card eBay purchases from them earlier in the year that were shipped swiftly, and (incorrectly) assumed that they’d be processing shipments of single cards from their website at the same speed. (My assumption is that, at least at the time I ordered the Duke card, though they may have course-corrected by now, all eBay shipments were prioritized over their website orders, because there are actual consequences to late shipments, in the form of persistent negative feedback on a user account, if you’re late shipping items you sell on eBay, whereas, on their own platform, there were no lasting, persistent disincentive to delaying shipments.)

There was a mildly tense exchange between COMC customer service and I at one point, because they were late well above and beyond their stated shipping delays, and were also, for a time (and I’m sure they won’t be thrilled about my saying so, but I have emails and screenshots of both my account and tweets from the company that back my position), publicly dishonest about the circumstances of it, but they did apologize, and they resolved it to the best of their ability at that time. Eventually, if things do stabilize for their business, which went through the double whammy of COVID and a huge surge in business that they were, for whatever reason, unprepared for despite the writing being on the wall for a few years that it was coming, I may eventually do business with them again, because, as I said, they did put in the effort to make things right. Your mileage may vary after reading about my experience, but I don’t have overwhelmingly negative feelings about how they did business in the end, and my experience with COMC, up until the most recent one, was actually an overwhelmingly positive one.

Unfortunately, the delay in shipping did cause a somewhat painful, and completely unexpected thing to happen, as, in the last real conversation I had with my mother, I told her about the 1951 Topps Red Back Duke Snider I had bought there. She loved the Brooklyn Dodgers, had met Duke a couple of times (and once drove 20 miles, paid to get into a card show, and waited in line to get a ball signed by him for me, because I couldn’t be there), was actually named in my will, until very recently, as the recipient of my Brooklyn Dodgers cards, and was excited to see it, but while I held it up to a screen in video chat near the end of her life, I don’t know if she was aware that I was doing it. A lot of times, when something fun but non-essential that we order from somewhere ships late, and even when the person we buy it from or trade something to for it is not great about being consistent in how they do business, it’s frustrating, but the stakes are ultimately pretty trivial. I will be hopefully abundantly clear to those who read this that I don’t think this was specifically COMC’s fault or anything, as none of us knew how things would play out, certainly (and at this point, I’m going to stop talking about what COMC did or didn’t do and move onto the next subject, which is a little bigger in my life than the business practices of a consignment company), but this felt…a little less like one of those times.

It wasn’t a direct COVID-19 thing (though COVID affected everything from my ability to see her in person over the last year of her life to, undoubtedly, the quality of her treatment), but to come back to the subject of those who didn’t make it through the year, and confirm something I alluded to in the previous paragraph, my mother passed away on Christmas morning. It would be impossible to state in a hundred articles like this how much I loved and still love my mom, how much my mom meant not just to me, but also, and this is where this loss isn’t just crushing, but also on-topic, for those fun-at-parties people who are sticklers for that sort of thing even at the worst times, how much she meant to each and every one of my hobbies, and I’ll probably never really know if I was able to convey to her how grateful I was and still am.

She went through so very much shit supporting me in all of them, not just buying me stuff, but driving me all over to get it, sitting in stores she mostly didn’t give a rat’s ass about for long periods of time while I looked through things, dealing with this stuff being all over the homes we lived in together, listening to me talk on and on about it all in the same ways I see my friends with kids around my age complain about how all their kids know how to talk about is Minecraft and Fortnite and whatever else the youth are playing these days. She did all of that and then some, for longer than most human beings have a mom doing that stuff regularly in their lives (because I am a disabled person who lived with family for a long stretch of my life), and she did it just because she wanted me to be happy. I owe her my life and then some, a bunch of times over, and it’s a debt I never would’ve been able to repay even if she’d lived for a long time past when she did, because this is something (along with all of the other stuff that good parents do, even if you don’t have a bunch of hobbies) that she’s done for me from the time I was a small child to the end of her life, and even beyond.

There is $25 cash in my wallet right now that I got from her as a birthday gift this past year, but haven’t been able to spend because I haven’t been in situations where cash is required since March. Eventually, when it’s safe to be out at flea markets and hobby stores and yard sales again, that $25 from her will pay for at least one more fun thing, one more gift, even though she isn’t here to give it to me or see it. It’s going to be tough letting go of it when the time comes, and I may get and use other cash before I use that cash, because I want what I spend it on to be really good (and yes, if you’re careful about it, you can get great things with 25 bucks, still), but that’s the plan, and I’m going to try to stick to it, because it’d be a waste of her resources (which she never really had an easy go of mustering, either) to do anything less.

I’ve said it elsewhere, but she deserved so much better than she got, in all aspects of her life, and I hope I was able to give her at least a small fraction of it back, in her mind. I will miss her terribly, for the rest of my days, but I’m so grateful that I had her as a mom, and knew her as a person.

With that very necessary, but very sad part of the discussion of this year having been covered, not everything that happened in the entire year was terrible (though no matter how bad the rest of it was, nothing in my life to date, speaking purely personally, has been as terrible as losing my mom, and I’m really only about a week out from that, so go easy on me here), and I’ll now attempt to make a really sharp turn back over to “what happened for me in the hobbies I participate in over the past year”. As I mentioned above, I’m going to do things by category this year, in the most concise manner available to me, given how I write (I’m not into the whole brevity thing, man). I’d have given all of these subjects their own posts, but that didn’t end well for any of us last year, and I’d say that a lot of this stuff’s interconnected, too. It should, at least, be less than the 13 part nightmare that was last year’s “year in review”.

Trading Cards:

I’m not collecting 2021 (and forward) Topps baseball sets by default anymore. If there’s a set design I really like, or if circumstances dump a complete set of something in my lap, then fine, I’ll re-evaluate things on a case-by-case basis, but I can’t keep devoting my time, energy, and resources by default to Topps, with them not really interested in doing the same for my type of collector. As I said when I was planning for 2020, 1951-2020 has a really nice ring to it, and I’m going with that for now. If I regret it, I regret it. I don’t want to try to compete for new cards in a world with card bubble scalpers/flippers, though. That’s what pushed most of us out of the hobby as kids in the late ’80s and early ’90s, and apparently people have learned nothing from history, as usual. I also don’t have strong ties to present-day MLB. There are a few players I like, but I don’t have a team, and Rob Manfred is determined to “hold my beer” the shit out of Bud Selig’s tenure as Commissioner, so I’m not feeling a strong inclination to buy licensed merchandise.

I’m still going to do player collections of current players, so I’ll be picking up individual current cards from time to time, and will probably devote at least a little more energy to them, but as someone who once put effort into a Ray Rice player collection (and is still stuck with the goddamned things), I really need to carefully evaluate and regularly re-evaluate those collections, and also come up with an exit strategy (ideally one that doesn’t have me feeling like I need a Silkwood shower after I’m done with it, because of who I might have to deal with to make those cards go away; I’d like, if possible, to avoid the types that aren’t bothered by players doing terrible things…) for any and all of them, should the players in question out themselves as people who I don’t want to have a bunch of pictures of. Even if I resolve to only buy cards of theirs in dime boxes, those dimes do add up.

It’s not fun to think about any of this stuff, but I think it’s worth viewing media consumption (and cards are media) critically, and with at least some eye toward having it be consistent with your own personal ethics, no matter how much you want your hobbies, your sports, or whatever else to be pure escapism. I don’t think it’s realistic to expect everyone who works in every field you have an interest in to be a good person, and it’s basically impossible to avoid engaging with all known terrible people in your entertainment (and ultimately, you won’t be able to, because there’s a lot of terrible people out there, and they don’t always have press conferences to announce that they’re terrible, even if that’s become a popular pastime in recent years), but to me, it feels worthwhile to try and minimize that. All the talk I hear from other people about “separating art from artist” is ultimately a privileged position, because some people, who have had certain unfortunate experiences, can’t do that, no matter how much they’d like to.

Also: in general, this applies, pretty much.

With all of that said, there’s still great stuff in trading cards, and things I love about this hobby.

While that Duke Snider card I posted above is always going to be bittersweet for me in ways I didn’t understand when I purchased it, I do love it, and I think there’s at least a chance that it’s going to end up living on my desk permanently.

I feel like, over this year, I’ve found and gotten to know a part of the card hobby community that aligns a little more closely with my beliefs systems, and that feels good. The people I still follow on Twitter, for instance, are really a good bunch, and I’m glad to know them to the degree that I do. Thanks for having me around, if you’re one of ’em. I also came across people who weren’t and aren’t like that, and that’s disappointing, but I’m choosing to focus on the positive here.

I mentioned dime boxes above, and let me tell you, I was a little skeptical going in, but The Internet Dime Box is a good one. Spent an entire day making an order, got it relatively quickly, and with great customer service. Highly recommended.

Gavin made me copies of some of his customs.

[Image Description: A custom card of the Butthole Surfers from Baseball Card Breakdown, in the style of 1991 ProSet Super Stars MusiCards. The card is a horizontal rectangular shape, with a yellow triangular upper right border, pink triangular lower left border with “BUTTHOLE SURFERS” written on it in black letters, the main photo in between those borders in what looks like a thick top left to bottom right diagonal line, and a black box in the bottom right hand corner with “Pro Set SUPER STARS MusiCards” written in white and purple letters, with a yellow star between “SUPER” and “STARS”. On the main picture of the card is a photograph taken by Bob Berg of, from left to right, guitarist Paul Leary (a white man with long medium brown hair and brown eyes, wearing a black shirt, and looking deeply uncomfortable with his right hand on his head and a crazed expression on his face), drummer King Coffey (a smiling white man with no hair, wearing mirrored sunglasses and a Piggly Wiggly t-shirt), and singer-keyboardist Gibby Haynes (a white man with long black hair, brown eyes, a mustache and a goatee, grinning with a closed mouth, with his head tilted toward King Coffey’s) of the Butthole Surfers.]
[Image Description: A custom card of Gibby Haynes from the Butthole Surfers, from Baseball Card Breakdown, in the style of 1990 Fleer Basketball cards. The card is a vertical rectangular shape, mostly white aside from the center picture, thin red horizontal and blue vertical borders around the center pictures, with a break in the bottom border for the top of the basketball hoop-shaped area for the name, that hoop-shaped area (a red half-circle with the name “GIBBY” in white letters, a white rectangle with a red outer border, a thin black inner border, and “HAYNES” in black letters in the center, and a smaller red rectangle at the bottom with “VOCALS” in white letters), and a “FLEER ’90” logo in the bottom right hand corner, with a longer blue lines above “FLEER”, and a shorter blue line under “FLEER” that ends right before “’90”. In the center picture, Butthole Surfers singer-keyboardist Gibby Haynes (a white man with long black hair and brown eyes, appearing here from the waist up, shirtless) yells into a megaphone which he, in turn, has pointed at a microphone. The background of the picture is dark and blurred.]
[Image Description: a custom card from Baseball Card Breakdown of Roky Erickson of the 13th Floor Elevators, based upon the 1984 TCMA minor league baseball card design. The card has a green outer border, with a rounded purple inner border around the photo that has purple stars on a white background in the top corners, and a green tab in the center of the bottom edge of the photo that shows the player’s “position” in white letters, in this case, “V, G” for “Vocals, Guitar”. The picture is a black and white side view photo of Roky Erickson, singer and guitarist for the 13th Floor Elevators (a white man with dark, chin-length hair, wearing a loose-fitting long-sleeved shirt), standing in front of a microphone, looking to his left while holding a guitar with a light-colored neck and an embroidered guitar strap, and smirking slightly. Below the picture and the tab, the card reads “Roky Erickson” in white text, and just below that, “13th FLOOR ELEVATORS”.]
I also ordered the Negro Leagues Legends card set by Negro League History while it was still available, which by now those of you who read more card blogs than I do have probably seen everywhere and hopefully ordered (or I hope you have, anyway), though I’d intended on posting about it much earlier (this year had so many different ways of getting away from us all), and it’s terrific. Over time, I’ll likely share more from the set (it was the surprise I alluded to earlier in the year, and I’ve got a bunch of cards from it scanned, but it deserves its own post, late or not), but for starters, here is the card from the set that moved me the most. I’ve written out the entire caption in the image description of the back of the card, and I’ll let it speak for itself…

[Image Description: a baseball card of “UNKNOWN” from Negro League History’s Negro Leagues Legends set, with painted art by Graig Kreindler. On the main part of the card is a painting of a Black man with short hair and medium brown skin standing in front of a brick wall. He is visible from the chest up in a close-cropped bust shot, wearing a black uniform with a white button at the color, and the letters “B T R” across the chest of the uniform, for Brown’s Tennessee Rats, an independent barnstorming baseball team that played from 1910-1926. On the left side of the card, a woodgrain border that looks like cherry wood has “UNKNOWN” written vertically from bottom to top in a white block font, and “Negro Leagues Legends” written in a more stylized script font. In the top right corner, a Negro Leagues 100th Anniversary logo appears, with a brick red shield shape for the background, featuring the silhouette of what’s implied to be a Black man in a dark blue baseball uniform, leaning on a baseball bat held in his right hand and his left hand on his hip. at the top, “1920” and “2020”  are written in white lettering on either side of the image of the baseball player. Just below that, in a larger, stylized font, “NEGRO LEAGUES” is written in white letters that curve upward in a circular fashion along their bottoms, and rounded along the bottom, it reads “100th Anniversary” in white lettering, with white stars on either side of those words.]
[Image Description: the back of a baseball card of “UNKNOWN” from Negro League History’s Negro Leagues Legends set. A light beige border wraps around the large white main section of the card, with corners that look slightly like the tabs that hold pictures in old photo albums. In the main section, which is nearly entirely text, the card reads “Unknown Player, Brown’s Tennessee Rats” above a first thin periwinkle dividing line, then “INDEPENDENT, POS: UNK | BATS: UNK | THROWS: UNK, HEIGHT: UNK WEIGHT UNK, BORN: UNK, DIED: UNK” above a second thin periwinkle dividing line, and “Brown’s Tennessee Rats (1910-1926) were a barnstorming team based in Holden, MO. This player represents the many unknown players whose stories have been lost to time. Newspaper coverage was limited, being the near exclusive domain of weekly black newspapers. Players came and went, often playing for only a few games as fill-ins due to short rosters {12-15 players) and frequent contract jumping by established players. In addition, while Negro Leagues players earned much more than the average black wage earner, life in the Negro Leagues was hard due to endemic racism, making travel and eating difficult and safety questionable.” in the main body of the card’s text. Below that text, a black oval Negro Leagues History logo appears at left, a Graig Kreindler logo saying “painting by KREINDLER” appears at center, a Negro Leagues Baseball Museum featuring a painting of a Black man in a white baseball uniform with the number 12 on it, swinging a bat inside a red circle with Negro Leagues Baseball Museum written in white letters inside it, and an outer border that resembles a baseball diamond with green grass and brown dirt. At bottom center, the card number, 128, is written in black text.]
I got a small number of actual trades done this year, though I’ve really tried to stay the hell out of the post office or anywhere else since March as best I can, but if you were in on those trades, thank you. Madding of Cards on Cards sent me too much stuff above and beyond the one actual trade I think we managed to complete either late last year or early this year, which was very nice of him. I have to figure out a return package, but it’s getting harder to find Cardinals he doesn’t have already, and I’m not getting box lots from the flea market at the moment. I wonder if he likes 1988 Topps Mets cards.

I know I completed at least one card set this year, possibly more. 1991 AW Sports CFL cards is confirmed, because I got the last two I needed from the Internet Dime Box recently. I haven’t put them away yet (it’s been a rough month or so), but I finished it. I’m also 1 card away from the following noteworthy-ish sets, if anyone’s holding, and can make something happen through the magic of either PWEs or PayPal:

1954 Bowman Brooklyn Dodgers Team Set: 170 Duke Snider

1990 Score Rookie & Traded: 100 Eric Lindros

1992 Score: 788 Award Winners Cal Ripken Jr. MVP

1992 Pinnacle: 161 Tim Wallach (this will be my second copy of the set, so it’ll be available for trade as soon as I get a Tim Wallach and can go to the post office safely again, or when I have no choice but to go to the post office for official business of some kind)

1951 Topps Red Backs Brooklyn Dodgers Team Set: 16 Preacher Roe

1985 Topps Traded: 43 Ozzie Guillen (also a second set that I’ll be able to trade or sell someday, albeit one with no box)

1967 Raybert The Monkees A: 13 The Monkees (Pic of all 4 members on stairs)

There are also these sets, which I’m close to finishing, but I need to update this list, because it’s 9 months out of date, I believe.

I wrote about how I was having a lot of fun with digital cards earlier in the pandemic, but that really kinda crapped out. Are any of you still doing this stuff? Do any of you want to make some deals? Let me know.

I’ve made no further progress on the Player’s Wild Animals’ Heads set, but they’re on eBay, so it’s just a matter of wanting to spend money on them.

I think that’s it for cards.

Second Life:

Spent a bunch of time in Second Life this year, though mostly at other peoples’ places. Need to get Heck resuscitated for like the billionth time (it turned 14 on December 15th, but I was, um, preoccupied, so there was no celebration…if the place makes it to 15, we’ll have a big ‘un).

I did get to do an interview this year, which I haven’t done in a long time, and I’m happy I told y’all about vroum Short and her collective at VeGeTaL PLaNeT, even if I’m reasonably sure some of you are not sure why I told you. Explore the (real and virtual) world a bit. Live a little! It’s fun!

Video Games:

Online Multiplayer Solitaire: I’m currently ranked at #349 worldwide out of 466,882 on iOS MobilityWare Solitaire in their online multiplayer game, and closing in on 10,000 wins (about 180 to go there). I played about 2400 multiplayer games this past year (and completed all 366 Daily Challenges (I’ve completed all 2286 since they started them, across 2 iPads), but, as with most things, there were definite “I don’t give a rat’s ass” gaps. I didn’t have many long “complete Daily Challenge in same day” streaks, I’ll tell you that. You’d think someone stuck in the house would play more solitaire, not less…

I didn’t play enough No Man’s Sky this past year, despite being in the house for almost all of it, and I’m way behind, because the developers are saints and have released an absolute ton of new expansions for it. Looking for people who play, to help get me back into the game some.

I beat Tony Hawk 1 + 2, and in the case of 2, it was for I think the 5th time on the 4th platform (Playstation, Dreamcast, Playstation 4, and once I even beat the game on a Mac that had it running in a CompUSA, because it was on there and I had nothing better to do for a little while). It’s still one of the best games ever made. I’m nowhere near as good at it as the kids playing online multiplayer, though, because it’s all they do. Some games (Burnout Paradise comes to mind), there’s actually a cap on how good you can get at them, I guess because of the physics of the game, and you don’t ever really lose the skills. Tony Hawk, people are still figuring out ways to get much better.

I’ve started Stardew Valley over like 3 times, because I can’t seem to get the hang of playing it at the pace the game seems to want me to. It’s fun, and I could just, you know, play it at my own pace, but even if I opt to do that in general, I’d like to understand what doing it “successfully” means, if anything. It seems like a trap they’re using to find out if you’re a cop or something, though.

I played around with Dreams a fair deal, but I may not be imaginative or patient enough to really make the platform work for me as a creator, in the same way I have (sorta) with Second Life.

I’m a few levels into the PS4 remake of Medievil, and I will probably get back to it soon, because the gameplay is still good, but it should be said that Sony really could’ve used a sensitivity reader back when they made the original. That’s true of a few of their big games, though (Crash, Spyro, etc.).

For whatever my reasons, I got both Tempest 4000 for PS4 and Tempest X3 for PS1, when I already owned Tempest 2000 for Jaguar. Don’t worry, I’m not gonna go out and try to get a Nuon, though I have played Tempest 3000 on one before. I can’t promise that I’ll never buy the Sega Saturn version of Tempest X3, though.

Wii: still not using it much, but I really need to. Wii Fit balance exercises would probably still help with ongoing vertigo issues, and I could play Nights on it, too (it didn’t get great reviews, but I still love the original, got the sequel years before I got a Wii, and am curious).

Movies and television, going by memory and viewing histories:

I bought Mommie Dearest, The Hideaways, Lady Sings The Blues, and Gilda Live. I still have to watch The Hideaways and Lady Sings The Blues.

I initially did not plan to continue writing about anything but physical media at this site, on the movies and TV front, as seen here, but I forgot about that, wrote a ton, and I don’t feel like moving it elsewhere, so it can stay for this year.

I think the only 2020 first-run movie I saw in the theater was Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), which was outstanding (and the best DC Comics movie since Batman Returns), and I saw it with a group of friends right before everything went south, and if that’s the last movie I ever get to see in a movie theater, I ended on a very high note.

I can confirm that, via streaming services and what have you, I watched at least 47 other movies. Of everything relatively new that I saw this year, Birds of Prey, Ready or Not, My Dad is a Heel Wrestler and Beastie Boys Story were probably my favorites, and from what I can remember of what I watched this year, Return of the Secaucus 7 and One Million Years B.C. (no, really, I’d never seen it) were probably my favorite older films that I’d never seen before. I really enjoyed revisiting Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Fade to Black and Motel Hell, too. Yes, it was a “watch horror to escape other horror” kinda year, and we used a lot of October for horror movies.

Running counter to the entire world, I didn’t binge-watch a TV series on Netflix after February 29th (I Am Not OK With This was the last one). Nope, I haven’t seen The Queen’s Gambit yet, and I didn’t watch that fucking Tiger King show (and I’m not even gonna link to the Wikipedia entry on it). What’s wrong with y’all, anyway? Jeez. Now, in 2021, I’ve already binged one complete season (Cobra Kai Season 3), and I had it done by 8:37 AM on January 1st.

I did watch 6 complete seasons of television between 5 shows last year (Grace and Frankie, I Am Not OK With This, I’m Dying Up Here, Truth Seekers which I unfortunately didn’t love, but that’s a long story, and The Mandalorian), though, one of which (I’m Dying Up Here) was the complete series, and my second time through, to see if I still loved it as much, and I did. My favorite new series of the year was I Am Not OK With This, which won’t surprise anyone who knows me. Among a lot of other things I’ve been hopping around between (lots of which are from the old WPIX repertoire), I’ve also started watching Bourdain from the beginning, have been slowly working on Julia, getting The Dick Cavett Show in when I can, rationing Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories episodes, and using YouTube to get The Hollywood Palace and Insight in there when I wanna get weird.

Speaking of, after a zillion years, I finally started subscribing to YouTube channels. I recommend the Norwegian train driver’s channel, Ed Sullivan’sBeyond Wrestling’s , Brick Mantooth’s, and Pop Arena’s, especially for Nick Knacks – A Nickelodeon Retrospective, which is outstanding.

That’s more than enough about my viewing habits, though!

Music (hard copies): here, I remembered that I’m only doing physical media for this site. Of course, I can’t remember what CDs I bought between January and March 11th, my Sleep Envy cassette will get here when it gets here, and I only got two records (both great, though): The Stooges’ Live at Goose Lake: August 8, 1970 and Glossolalia by Zambri (which is dried up on the physical side through Bandcamp or their label, but can be had through a few third party sellers affordably on hell site that I’m not linking to), so while I listened to a lot of music last year, and loved a bunch of it, this section’s probably not gonna set you on fire this year.

Comics: comics are weird, because the industry got knocked on its ass this past year, so even more of what I enjoy reading got cancelled, there was another pointless reset of a comics line (DC), and it became harder, not easier, to order them when DC stopped doing business with Diamond, their longtime distributor (one of many “What the hell are they doing over there?” things about the AT&T/Time-Warner situation).

Of new books I liked this year, Amethyst, Power Pack, Inkblot, and The Other History of the DC Universe have probably been my favorites, so 3 YA books and Black Lightning (though The Other History… has a rotating cast), pretty much. Power Pack and The Other History of the DC Universe are only 2 issues and an issue in, respectively, so you may still have a good chance at being able to jump on if you like single issues, whereas Amethyst just wrapped up, and Inkblot’s ongoing, at least for now.

As far as books that started last year or earlier went, Hawkman (sadly cancelled), Legion of Super-Heroes (maybe cancelled or at least being reworked because DC can’t leave well enough alone), Far Sector (almost over) and Ascender (ongoing, and hopefully it will remain that way for a while) were probably my favorites.

On the back issue front, thanks to the spouse, I finished New Teen Titans Vol. 1 (I was missing the first appearance of Dick Grayson as Nightwing, and that was my birthday present),  and thanks to me, I finished (and actually read all of Son of Satan and…I finally grabbed dat ASS (All-Star Squadron #3, to be exact…) and finished that run, too. I still need to read the bigger runs. I started Titans, but, sing it with me…”this friggin’ year…”


Megos: I got none for most of the year, because scalpers had gotten really greedy with the late 2019 wave, but I rallied toward the end. Phantom of the Opera, The Egyptian Mummy, Khan Noonien Singh (from The Wrath of Khan, as opposed to the original series), The Headless Horseman, Swamp Thing, 3 more Target Skeletons were in my haul for the year, and 2021 started off with a bang…

[Image Description: a Mego 8″ action figure of The Thing, a humanoid covered with orange rocks, or, in this case, a cloth suit silkscreened to resemble orange rocks aside from on his head, hands, and blue trunks, stands in front of a computer screen that’s lit up in a bright blue color. In addition to his trunks, he is wearing a black velvet belt.]
I may have snapped and spent too much money on what was pretty close to the Grail for over 42 out of my 46 years. Ironically, he’s been in my house since 1988, but because that’s a carded example of the figure (and in French packaging that says “LA CHOSE”, so removing him was out of the question; it was better than not having him at all, but it was a really cruel twist of fate, if you think about it), I never got to actually play with the Mego action figure of The Thing until late yesterday afternoon. This was 100% a “life is too fucking short” purchase, on the morning of December 24th (for some context), but it was worth it, and my only regret is that my mom, who spent over 4 decades hearing about how I never got to play with this action figure as a kid or an adult, never got to see me do that. I did tell her he was coming, and hopefully she heard me and understood, but Benjamin J. Grimm finally came home today, a little over a week after she left us.

There are two more are on the way, too, because yes, it was a bad week (the Gillman from Creature from the Black Lagoon and Peter Criss).

I’m still after the Figures Toy Company Metamorpho (once they release him with his packaging), Hawkman, Atom, Betty Kane Batgirl, and Removable Cowl First Appearances Barbara Gordon Batgirl, and Leatherface, Regan from The Exorcist and The Fly from the 2020 Mego waves. I’m also excited about Willy Wonka, Ultraman, Bride of Frankenstein, Hammer (Christopher Lee) Dracula, Phantom of the Opera in Masque of the Red Death outfit, Straitjacket Hannibal Lecter, and the second wave of DC heroes (Flash, Riddler, and Green Lantern) in 2021, but I really need to hit the lottery or something, because this habit’s expensive.

This is what the family looks like now…

[Image Description: a metric ton of Mego 8″ and other size figures, roughly Mego 8″ scale action figures, Mego action figures not made to 8″ scale and one random kaiju sit on a brown dresser, next to a brown and silver desk lamp with a frosted, off-white glass shade, in front of an off-white wall. As it would be really difficult for me to physically describe 54 action figures and tell you which order they appear in here, I went rough on the latter, and I don’t think I have it in me to describe them all at this point in my life, so apologies there. If you’d like a description of a specific figure or even a few, please let me know in the comments. In some rough order, in parts: Count Orlok (Nosferatu), Evel Knievel (with bike and platform), Greg Brady, 4 as-yet-nameless skeletons from Target, Jo Polniaczek and Tootie Ramsey (The Facts of Life), Muhammad Ali, Bruce Lee, The Thing, Spider-Man, The Falcon, Freddy Krueger, The Headless Horseman, The Egyptian Mummy, Phantom of the Opera, The Invisible Man (hard to see behind the Phantom, but he’s there), Norm Peterson (Cheers), Frankenstein’s Monster, Jeannie (I Dream of Jeannie), Endora (Bewitched), Dr. Zaius, Samantha (Bewitched), Chekov, Sulu, Uhura and Spock (Star Trek), The Screaming Werewolf, The Creeper, Aquaman, Swamp Thing, Harley (Eagle Force), Alice, Dracula (Bela Lugosi), Lucinda the Cat (Bewitched), Catwoman, Green Arrow, Superman, Captain Marvel (or Shazam, if you prefer), Green Lantern, Jimi Hendrix, Minya/Son of Godzilla, Khan, the Cowardly Lion, “Mirror, Mirror” Spock and Kirk, The Gorn, Joe Namath, Serena (Bewitched), The Lizard, Mr. Fantastic, Major Nelson (I Dream of Jeannie)]
DC Directs: I don’t think I got any. I have no recollection of adding any. The ones I want are getting older, so they’re probably going to become even harder to get, but I’ll do my best, when I can.

Heroclix: I still have a shit-ton of Heroclix, and will sell or trade them for basically anything else. Get me your list, if you’re serious about wanting any.

Tabletop Games/RPG stuff: I did little to nothing. My local game was playing Gloomhaven before the pandemic, and I think we may have gotten in one 2020 session before the shit hit the fan. We all kinda froze after it started, despite best intentions and efforts. Got no Marvel stuff done. A lot of areas where other people really went to town in 2020, I went in different directions, and this was one.

Fantasy Sports: Fantasy baseball was a wash, and, had our league not had nearly 20 years of history, it probably wouldn’t have run. It probably shouldn’t have run, anyway. We’re not sure what we’re doing about it this year, since things are most certainly not back to normal.

Travel/Visiting: really not much in the first 2 months (I made it to northwestern Connecticut I think once, northeastern Connecticut once, and Providence once), and we know what happened from there. Nothin’. No Brimfield. No flea markets at all. No trips back to New Jersey to visit family. This part of it ended up being pretty painful, because of Other Life Circumstances, as it really was and still is not safe to travel down there, so I had to go the last year and 18 days of my mom’s life without seeing her in person. Wear your goddamned masks, get vaccinated as soon as you can, wash your hands and/or wear gloves when appropriate, stay away from each other, make your elected officials’ lives MISERABLE (trust me, if they still think they can show their faces, the overwhelming majority of them are not miserable enough yet) until they have our backs a little more than they do now, and let’s be done with this horseshit once and for all as soon as we can. If we don’t, we’re all toast.

NJPW/Pro Wrestling In General: for the same reasons I was just talking about, this was a weird, awkward, and at times very bad year for wrestling, particularly, but not exclusively by any means, in the United States. While shows have still been running, and in some cases they’re running as almost as much a matter of personal survival as the stuff people in the service industry are going through, I haven’t been to any of them, and I won’t be back out there until it’s genuinely safe. I’m still watching some of the American shows on television, but at times, it’s kinda like I’m watching with my eyes peeking through my hands, because I’m worried about people who’ve entertained me, and who, in some cases, also seem like really good people, getting sick.

Japan was so careful re: COVID, and so strict about doing things the right way that eventually, without incident so far (at least as far as we know), New Japan Pro-Wrestling (and some other promotions) got back to where they could have much smaller live audiences in attendance in relative safety, though they’re still ready to bring the hammer down again at any moment in that country, even with the biggest Japanese pro wrestling event of the year scheduled for this week. Alas, this careful attitude doesn’t extend to every corner of their business.

Over here? It’s been much rougher, and while there have been what feel like very bad decisions made even by “the good guys” (as pro wrestling promotions go), I don’t know that there were any good decisions to make, because the government failed everyone so thoroughly. With that said, some decisions have definitely been worse than others (and they’re pretty well-detailed here).

Life for a wrestling fan has been even sadder this past week (even for those of us who were already pretty sad for other reasons), because Brodie Lee died on the 26th, not entirely, but still kind of out of nowhere, from what apparently was a case of his lungs just kinda failing out of nowhere, completely unrelated to COVID, which he never tested positive for. There was a vibe around him like something more was wrong than they were letting on while he was quietly off television for the past couple of months, but it still didn’t seem like the next thing we’d hear about him was that he passed.

With all of this said, which is a lot, no doubt, and as conflicted and guilty as I feel sometimes about watching any of it (That was a thing before COVID, too, because it is such a dangerous form of entertainment, but throwing a pandemic into the mix? Oof…), I’d be lying to you if I said that it wasn’t still one of the things I look forward to, in a world that’s a lot shorter on them right now than it was a year ago. I’m rooting for these people doing costumed murder gymnastics to come through all of this OK, during a really hard fucking time that just got even harder for many of them, with the loss of a colleague and friend.

I’m also amazed as I watch people I saw in a high school gym and a White Eagle Hall a little more than a year ago become national television stars during one of the most surreal times in our history to do so (there were 11 wrestlers on the two American independent wrestling shows I made it to in 2019 who I’ve seen at least once on TNT since AEW Dynamite launched, without any prior experience of that kind; another’s working for WWE now, so I won’t see much, if any of him for the time being, because I actively avoid what the McMahons do, and one more is probably headed to AEW once an injury heals), and get action figures. I’ve not met a ton of people who have their own action figures without commissioning them on their own in this lifetime, and I usually end up meeting them after they hit “action figure” levels of celebrity, even if they don’t have the figures just yet. Seeing one in particular get there has been a bright spot this year.

Books: I did pick up some books, and I’ve even read them a bit, despite my attention span being shredded. I’m almost done with Kitchen Confidential (as I said in the TV stuff, I’m starting at the beginning), I got I’m Dying Up Here, I picked up a signed copy of Split Season 1981 from my erstwhile trading partner Jeff Katz, I caught David Bowie Is on sale, after seeing the exhibit a couple of years ago, snagged a cheap copy of Dali: The Paintings to remember my excursion from a year and change ago by, got Hiding In Plain Sight as soon as it came out (before I knew that Sarah Kendzior was signing copies in a back alley, near a dumpster for Left Bank Books, which I linked to for the book title, so you can get your own copy with a little stank on it), scored a lot of interesting cookbooks (including the awesome The Veselka Cookbook and the deeply disturbing Best of the Best from QVC Cookbook: Favorite Recipes from Viewers, Hosts, Employees, and Friends) and I’ve even started reading my signed copy of The Calamities of Kalamity Kate (which is available directly from the publisher, signed, on that hell site), by this lady

…and we’re gonna wrap 2020 with Leta Powell Drake, because where do you go from there?

So, 2021 Hobby Goals (and yes, these are all Hobby Goals):

  1. Don’t die.
  2. Don’t kill anybody.
  3. Have fun.
  4. Finish updating my will, and simplify the hell of it, because it’s a rat’s nest right now.
  5. Trading Cards: simplify the player collection stuff, figure out what to do with the digital cards, if anything, stop buying full retail packs of any new product, don’t build or acquire any 2021 sets without a really good reason, maybe finish a few more older sets, make the posts about the scans I have backlogged, especially the Negro Leagues Legends cards, and seriously, look into non-sports cards more. They’re fun!
  6. Second Life: do more with Heck, and DJ at VeGeTaL PLaNeT again soon.
  7. Video Games: keep climbing the solitaire ladder, get back into No Man’s Sky, finish Medievil, read a Stardew Valley strategy guide and try again, figure out if there are games and systems I’m really never gonna use, and also never gonna regret selling like I do Panzer Dragoon Saga, and maybe get a PS5 at the end of 2021, so the people of my household can play the game with the kitty on a machine that can run it properly. Oh, and use the Wii more.
  8. Movies and Television: plug away at getting stuff from the list of DVDs and Blu-Rays I don’t have, still want, and won’t be able to stream easily, and figure out what, among the stuff I have, I’m not going to watch again or care about watching again, then see if anyone can use that stuff.
  9. Music (hard copies): figure out where my Sleep Envy cassette went, get copies of the only two other cassettes I care about owning (Lene Lovich’s No-Man’s Land and a replacement of my Siouxsie Through The Looking Glass cassette), figure out which CDs of albums I can’t live without I don’t own yet because I usually stream the stuff, and keep slowly plugging along on the last few interesting bits of vinyl I’d like, if I even come into much contact with vinyl.
  10. Comic Books: do another audit of what books I want to keep, get even more serious about not buying single issues of non-ongoing series that are just gonna come out as trade paperbacks anyway, and read all of New Teen Titans and All-Star Squadron. Maybe finish a few more series.
  11. Toys: try not to go too nuts buying Mego-scale figures. See if there are some available, affordable DC Directs I really want out there. Find ways to display toys I currently don’t have on display in the house, and figure out if there are toys I really don’t need to still own, that someone else would show way more love to. Get rid of some of those goddamn Heroclix you bought on a whim.
  12. RPGs/Tabletop Games: get ahold of my crew and play something online soon. Invite others to play games online, too. Hey, everybody. Wanna play some tabletop games online?
  13. Fantasy Sports: the baseball league turns 20 this year. If the season happens, I guess I have to at least play the anniversary season. I guess.
  14. Travel: gosh, I hope it’s not too dangerous to travel soon.
  15. Pro Wrestling: watch what I feel comfortable watching, and don’t watch what I don’t.
  16. Books: Read some! Finish them, too! Stop buying so many!
  17. Did I mention “have fun”?

Wow, I actually got through writing this goddamned thing, all 9000+ overwrought words of it. (Remember when I used to post like this here and on the old card site ALL THE TIME? You poor, poor people may have actually read some of that.) If you got through reading it, thank you for doing so, feel free to let me know what you think in the comments (as long as your comments aren’t awful), and here’s to all of us having a much happier and better new year, even if your 2020 somehow didn’t suck.


My Year in Hobbies 2020 Preview

Oh, this is going to be interesting.

Here’s the plan:

I’m going to read through 2019 (and possibly past years), see how I formatted things, and then not do any of that, more than likely. It was a weird, bad, awful year, though in terms of the things I do to keep myself busy, it had its moments, however bittersweet some of them may have been.

This shouldn’t take as long as 2019 did, with any luck, but I guess we’ll have to see, won’t we?

Stay tuned.

My Year in Hobbies 2019: The Wrap-Up, and 2020 Hobby Goals

OK, we’re here!

First, some stats without much context:

Comic Book Series Cancelled On Me: 9 (at least)

First-Run Movies Watched: 8

Series of Television Shows Binge-Watched: 12

Games of MobilityWare Multiplayer Solitaire played: roughly 4000

Mego-scale action figures acquired: 11

Trading Card Sets Completed or Acquired Complete: at least 4 (1951 Topps Ringside, 1989 Topps Senior League Baseball, 1992 Topps Stadium Club Baseball, 2008 Topps Football)

Video Games 100% Completed: 1 (No Man’s Sky, at least before the Beyond expansion. I’m way behind now, but hopefully will get back to it soon)

States Traveled To/Through: 7

Other Countries Traveled To/Through: 0 (first time since 2016, though my next foreign country could be a while, given what’s going on…)

Live Pro Wrestling Events Attended: 3

Live Pro Wrestling Events I Saw Lance Archer Wrestle At: 2

Live Pro Wrestling Events I Saw Orange Cassidy Wrestle At: 2

Live Pro Wrestling Events I Saw Kris Statlander Wrestle At: 2

So, how’d I do in 2019? I’m still here in 2020, at least for the moment, and you’re presumably still here, too, if you can read this, so let’s start right there. If I’m writing this, and you’re reading it, perhaps we don’t know what the future holds for us, but we’re here, now, and hopefully that doesn’t suck for you. I’m OK with it.

I was in bad, bad shape at the beginning of the year, because I somehow managed to give myself a severe concussion and a small skull fracture on my wedding day, as some of you may know. I’m furious at how on-brand that is (I have unfortunately had a ton of head injuries, especially for a non-athlete). I saw a lot of doctors last year, including three different neurologists and a vestibular therapist, who mostly had me play Wii Fit for the balance exercises (but it did help).

As I write this in April of 2020, just under 18 months from my wedding day, I’m feeling better than I did for most of 2019, though I didn’t really start to until December. I’m hoping that I continue to improve, I’m hoping that I don’t hit my head in any serious way ever again (it’d be a really bad thing at this point), and I’m of course hoping that none of the other things that are going on here in 2020 end up messing me up.

That probably looks more like general information than hobby-centric information, but it does help to be coherent, remember things, not have the room spinning and so forth if you’re pursuing a hobby, just as it helps to be able to spend time around other human beings and touch things that they’ve touched to do so. (This is going to color a LOT of 2020 in hobbies, but we’ll get back to that.) I just wanted to update my status, and talk a bit about the process.

I’ve actually had 2 years in a row where I’ve had serious health problems (2018 started with a serious flu and then a bunch of respiratory stuff which I’m coming to the conclusion was at least aggravated by allergies, if not caused by them entirely), and that can slow a person down a LOT. It has, too.

It’s also made me think a bunch about What Will Happen To My Stuff Once I’m Gone. Some of it, my spouse will want, and some of it, I’ve willed to people, but a lot of it is “just stuff”, no matter how cool I may think it is, and without me to love it and share it with people who happen to get to see it, it’s a burden on my loved ones. Unfortunately, right now, I think it’s a pretty bad time to be a seller of physical goods (there we go with 2020 intruding on the 2019 talk), so until I hear otherwise, any attempts to downsize are probably on the shelf.

I can say that, at least for the moment, I am feeling better and making better health choices than I have in quite a while (or am at least starting to), and hopefully that leads to me sticking around for a long time in relatively good health, but these are really uncertain times.

Onto some actual hobby talk!

Just As A Reminder: I started writing about my 2020 hobby goals by clarifying what goes where. That’s still current, I think.

Trading Cards: I decided (and this has been building for years) that I’m really not that excited about new and recent physical trading cards (baseball, in particular) anymore in 2019, so it’s looking like 2020 may be my last year of trying to collect new baseball sets (which are the only new sets I’m still building). It’s a nice, round number, 2020. It’s a year where we all may have a real hard time getting product anyway, because the world’s on fire. It seems like a million years ago now, but there’s also that small matter of issues with the integrity of the game of baseball that came up over this winter, issues that made me not so thrilled about two of my player collections (Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman; thankfully, I’ve not invested a lot of money in either, but I was enjoying watching them play before this all came to light, and I don’t know that I’ll be able to continue doing that whenever/if baseball resumes).

I just think it’ll be easier for me to have a cutoff point, for space reasons, for “not just trading away old cards for new ones” reasons (though I’ve been pretty successful at building Topps sets I couldn’t afford to keep up with over the past few years by doing this), and for “maybe I should focus on older cards” reasons. I started 2020, so I will work toward finishing the sets I’ve started or have an interest in (Topps, Heritage, Allen & Ginter, Stadium Club, and Donruss, if they’re all made available; physical comic books have been disrupted, so it stands to reason that baseball cards could be, too), but from there, I think I’m just going to collect players I collect, and work on finishing the older sets, once we’re able to shop and trade normally again, if we are. If physical cards are still a thing, I’ll probably buy a few packs here and there, just to do it, and trade off what I’m not excited about. I reserve the right to change my mind if there ends up being an amazing set of cards in the future, but I’ll be able to focus on that better than I would if I keep just putting in time on this stuff for completism’s sake, too.

With that said, I finished the biggest physical card set I’ve ever built in 2019 (1992 Stadium Club Baseball), and as I said above, I made some really nice strides on the past few years’ card sets in trades by shipping off some older bulk cards for the newer stuff . I didn’t get a ton of cards in 2019, but I got some really fun stuff, and I completed a card set from 1951, so I guess I did OK.

I should mention here that, since I am differentiating “physical” cards, 2020 Topps Bunt has been the most fun I’ve had in years with any of the Topps digital products, and also that I’ve been collecting New Japan Pro-Wrestling digital wrestling cards in their NJPW Collection app. Topps rolled out digital cards in a few other licenses since I was last paying attention, and when I catch my breath from whatever’s going on right now, I’ll be poking at those, too. Digital cards could end up being a way for me to feel like I’m in touch with the hobby during the downtime between now and when it’s safer to touch other human beings’ belongings again.

Comic Books: It’s a weird time to be a comic book collector. As I type this, there is no new physical comic book distribution happening in the United States for the first time in the history of the business, and it’s been hanging on by a thread for years now, because of mismanagement both by the comic companies and the distributor that has a near-monopoly on the comics market. Where back issues are concerned, the comic books I collect can be close to worthless forever, until someone licenses a property for a TV series, and then I can’t get my hands on them at all because of speculators. I love comics, but comics don’t always love me. With that said, I made solid strides toward finishing, yes, finishing the collection I started as a kid, and even if new physical comic book sales don’t happen all that often anymore moving forward, I will hopefully get to complete a library that 10 year old me would be proud of in the relatively near future.

Video Games: I got and played some video games that I absolutely love in 2019 (Stardew Valley comes to mind), and played deeper into No Man’s Sky, which is one of the best games of all time in my view. With that said, I’m playing video games less than I’d like to be, and I want to work on that in 2020. I have a few new ones to work on (Coffee Talk and Untitled Goose Game), a few other newer games I have my eyes on, and I pretty huge back catalog of games. I’ve been thinking of downsizing some here, too, and eventually I will, but again, not a great time to be trying to sell physical objects, so I’ll just try to play what I have more often, see what I enjoy playing, and eventually, put the games I don’t enjoy or haven’t been playing in the hands of people who’ll enjoy them more, ideally without some of the regret I have over selling things too soon or under duress (Panzer Dragoon Saga, anyone?). I’ll also continue seeing how high I can make my online Solitaire ranking, because that’s fun.

Tabletop and Other Games: Will there be a fantasy baseball (or real baseball) season this year? Will my D&D group be in the same room with one another any time soon? These are tough questions to answer. As for fantasy baseball, 2 out of 3 of my leagues drafted teams a week and a half ago, so we’re ready to go if MLB is. The other league will draft when an announcement of a start time is made. The DM of my D&D group and I have been talking a little about remote play, and hopefully once he finishes a project he’s working on at the moment, we can all give that a try (which would also widen the base of available players we may have to play with).

Internet: I expect that there’ll be a lot of this. The past few weeks have been kinda Wild West, with people embracing new platforms and then sharply turning on them in some cases (hi, Zoom). Where the one I talk about here the most (Second Life) is concerned, I’m still there, and Heck is, too, but it’s been pretty quiet since the fall. There’s been an uptick in activity since the quarantines started, unsurprisingly, but I’m not sure where my little club fits into all of that. It’s tough for me, because my sleep issues make it difficult for me to schedule events there. Right before the shit hit the fan, Vegetal Planet closed, as well, so there’s a vroum Short-sized hole in the grid that no one’s figured out how to fill yet. We’ll see what’s what. I did have a better than average year at Heck in 2019, with a few busy months, new DJs at the club and so forth, but it’s tough to maintain momentum on stuff like that, especially on a platform that people think died years ago, and one that Twitch banned from streaming years ago.

Live Events and Travel: At least I got some of this in during 2019, because it’s gonna be dire for a while. There are bigger priorities (really, bigger than any of what I’ve been talking about here), like simple survival, but I’m going to miss going out and doing stuff, even though I often struggle with not wanting to go out and do stuff. I hope we’re all back to it soon. I’ll think back on 2019 things like seeing a sunset at the Gulf of Mexico, standing in front of Salvador Dali paintings, meeting Tomohiro Ishii, getting to see Julia Michaels, Wand, Massive Attack, Choir Boy, P-Funk and Fishbone, and even just visiting new-to-me book shops or hitting the flea markets in the meantime.

Toys: Mego were firing on all cylinders as 2019 began, and then around mid-year, their distribution got weird, and I haven’t been able to get the figures I’ve wanted from them since. It’s been disappointing. I did get some other cool action figures during 2019 (lots of DC Directs), but I was in a holding pattern for a while before COVID-19 showed up, and I predict that I’ll remain that way for a while. Bigger fish to fry right now, of course, but it’s still sad when you can’t do fun stuff. Even if everything returned to “normal” tomorrow, I don’t know that I’d run into much in the way of toys I love that I can afford at the moment.

TV and Movies: I watched a bunch of fun stuff, and I’m continuing to do so. I’ll be talking about that over at my other website from here out. I covered a bunch during this Year in Review thing, but I decided midway through writing it that, unless I’m talking about physical artifacts (Blu-Rays, etc.), the place for that is over there.

Overall: While I complained about it a bunch as it was happening, and went through some hard times during the year, 2019 was a pretty good time, relative to this present moment. 2020 is a weird and scary time. I hope it becomes less of a weird and scary time soon. I hope you all stay healthy and safe, and I hope that we all stay in touch, find ways to stay connected to the hobbies we love during the downtime, and make our way back to something resembling normalcy as soon as we can. When the goal for the current year is just to physically survive and stay in good health, the other stuff becomes a really distant second, but that doesn’t make us love it any less, I don’t think. Be well, and like I said, please stay in touch. I wanna know that y’all are doin’ OK, or be able to offer whatever support I can if you’re not. Take care, until then!

My Year in Hobbies 2019: April!

April 2019:

Screenshot of someone getting the "To Live Forever" Trophy in the video game No Man's Sky. A faint, greyish-green sunburst in the center of a black screen, with the "Trophy earned!" Playstation Network icon at top left.
Screenshot of someone getting the “To Live Forever” Trophy in the video game No Man’s Sky. A faint, greyish-green sunburst in the center of a black screen, with the “Trophy earned!” Playstation Network icon at top left.

As I mentioned, I did hit 100% on No Man’s Sky’s trophy achievements in April. I had a lot of help on the “Reach the center of the universe in Permadeath mode” part. I found someone who had been alive in that instance for over 2 years, and had a base built 1 warp from the center of the universe, and they sent me an invite to their game after friending me. Before that, I had probably invested over 100 hours in my various attempts (though I’d probably be able to do it again, and more efficiently, if I tried now), and got close a few times.

Interior screenshot of Second Life nightclub Heck. A human with white skin and black hair, in black clothing (front and center), is seen at a DJ booth from behind. The building has black walls, accented by purple furnishings and green arrows that function as the club's teleport buttons. Photographs hang on the left and right hand wall. A tip jar sits on the stage to the left of the DJ booth.
Interior screenshot of Second Life nightclub Heck. A human with white skin and black hair, in black clothing (front and center), is seen at a DJ booth from behind. The building has black walls, accented by purple furnishings and green arrows that function as the club’s teleport buttons. Photographs hang on the left and right hand wall. A tip jar sits on the stage to the left of the DJ booth.

I returned to Second Life after a fairly extended hiatus in April, wrote about it in May, and events, if sporadic, continued at my club there, Heck, throughout the year, and will continue in 2020. I’ve also been DJing periodically at Vegetal Planet and The Velvet, and DJed at SL16B, Second Life’s 16th birthday party, on June 25th.

A Marvel Legends Black Knight action figure stands on a wooden window sill, with green foliage in a window behind it. Human figure in a blue tunic with a red insignia and red trim, blue, gold and grey armor, a brown utility belt, and blue boots and gloves, holding a large black sword with a gold hilt.
A Marvel Legends Black Knight action figure (a human figure with white skin in a blue tunic with a red insignia and red trim, blue, gold and grey armor, a brown utility belt, and blue boots and gloves, holding a large black sword with a gold hilt) stands on a wooden window sill, with green foliage in a window behind it.

I don’t buy a lot of Marvel Legends, but I couldn’t pass on The Black Knight.

An empty glass display case, center of picture, rests up against maroon walls, with some white boxes on a black shelf to its left.
An empty glass display case, center of picture, rests up against maroon walls, with some white boxes on a black shelf to its left.

Picked up an IKEA DETOLF display case for a corner of what we call “the study” in my house. Fit perfectly, and helps me display some more things like this…

Various toys and sculptures sit on a shelf: Ideal's KRUSHER doll, a green monster with orange trim; ROM The Spaceknight, a grey robot with red trim; Hugo, the Man of a Thousand Faces, a bald puppet with white skin wearing a blue denim shirt; a statue of a vampire version of comic book character The Joker; a green, pink and white ceramic statue of a sad looking dog with large green and black eyes; A green duck wearing a pink cowboy hat, being ridden by a pink cowboy.
Various toys and sculptures sit on a shelf: Ideal’s KRUSHER doll, a green monster with orange trim; ROM The Spaceknight, a grey robot with red trim; Hugo, the Man of a Thousand Faces, a bald puppet with white skin wearing a blue denim shirt; a statue of a vampire version of comic book character The Joker; a green, pink and white ceramic statue of a sad looking dog with large green and black eyes; A green duck wearing a pink cowboy hat, being ridden by a pink cowboy.

From left to right, bottom row: ceramic dog bank that’s been photographed and used as Heck’s mascot since it opened; Zimot Industries cowboy riding a duck sculpture.

From left to right, top row: Krusher The Gruesome Growing Reptile; ROM The Spaceknight; Hugo, Man of a Thousand Faces; Joker vampire sculpture by Eli Livingston.

Not a bad first shelf.

An overhead shot of the basketball courts of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA. approximately 15 people play basketball near a number of basketball hoops, in a circular basketball gym with pictures of famous basketball players off in the distance.
An overhead shot of the basketball courts of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA. approximately 15 people play basketball near a number of basketball hoops, in a circular basketball gym with pictures of famous basketball players off in the distance.

Finally made it to the Basketball Hall of Fame with some visiting friends in April. The museum was mid-renovation, which I didn’t know at the time, and it seemed like a significant section was closed off, but we still had fun…

The Michael Jordan display case in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA. A Chicago Bulls #23 jersey, white with red trim, once worn by Michael Jordan, a red and white Nike Air Jordan sneaker, and several inscribed basketballs are visible in the case in this picture.
The Michael Jordan display case in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA. A Chicago Bulls #23 jersey, white with red trim, once worn by Michael Jordan, a red and white Nike Air Jordan sneaker, and several inscribed basketballs are visible in the case in this picture.

…and I got to see some other old friends.

The Julius Erving display case at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA. A University of Massachusetts maroon and white basketball jersey, an inscribed red, white and blue basketball, and a white Converse basketball sneaker with red trim are visible in the case, along with a placard that is not legible.
The Julius Erving display case at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA. A University of Massachusetts maroon and white basketball jersey, an inscribed red, white and blue basketball, and a white Converse basketball sneaker with red trim are visible in the case, along with a placard that is not legible.

First-run movies watched in April 2019 (1): Avengers: Endgame (I have really mixed feelings about the story directions and deviations of course they chose for various characters, to put it mildly, but I still think it’s amazing to see live action, George Perez-level super-hero crossover events done well. (I haven’t watched the Berlanti-verse Crisis On Infinite Earths yet, so I can’t speak from a position of authority on that one, but obviously the budgets are very different there.)

Comic books cancelled or ending in April 2019 (1): West Coast Avengers (Marvel Comics). This was another great series that I really wish more people had picked up on. Lots of fun, a great new take on a few older concepts, and I wish it had more time. Jeff the Shark forever!