I've been laying low this week, well, at least lower than usual, as planned because an old buddy came to town. Actually I grew up with this guy, knew him since my parents moved in next to his when I was just 6. He's a cop in Arizona now, living a lifestyle that's probably about as different as you can get to mine: he works for the state, I work for myself, and quite honestly our mindsets each fit the appropriate mold. But we spent most of our youths buying and swapping baseball cards together and that, along with old stories about other old acquaintances, kept our tongues wagging for a couple of days straight.
He's still into the cards, having just bought a PSA 7 1953 Topps Mickey Mantle to start what he hopes is a high grade Mantle collection. So we were having a few beers last night talking about cards and I asked him if he'd read "The Card," which he hadn't. I pulled my copy and gave it to him for the flight back.
What I found especially interesting about The Card, and I knew he would too, was right there in Chapter 1. Now, if you're not familiar with the book it's about the most valuable baseball card in the world, the PSA 8 T206 Honus Wagner card that was at one time owned by Wayne Gretzky. What was pretty cool in our little sphere though was the origins of the card--it was discovered in the, I believe the author called it "dingy," little card shop in a Hicksville, NY strip mall in 1985. In 1985 that was our place!
We were 14 and either got a ride out from my Dad, who was collecting a mid-grade set of 1959 Topps cards himself at the time, or went by ourselves on the Long Island Railroad. Inside that crowded, and yes, I guess dingy, little shop, it's owner, Bob Sevchuk, entertained us sometimes for hours, with the only eventual reward a chunk of our paperboy money. The shop was packed with cards and collectibles, to such a degree that you'd often have to lean in over one of the counters to let another customer pass. Bob Sevchuk sat behind his glass cases chainsmoking and BS'ing with a couple of kids about baseball, and cards, and collecting. The other night, each of us got a kick out of him being name-checked in The Card several times.
Now The Card tries to prove that the Gretzky T206 Wagner card was at one time hacked from a sheet of cards--I don't know whether that's true or not. In fact, I don't really care personally, the card itself has taken on such legend that any new news about it would likely only cause it to rise in value and legend anyway. But what I will say was that the pride and joy of Bob Sevchuk's Hicksville shop were a large stock of uncut sheets of early cards--he had a ton of strips from either 1952 or '53 Topps (can't recall which, maybe both) and showed off a story done about him in Baseball Card Magazine (I think) from a few years earlier.
Small world. The big transaction in the book occurred on a Sunday, which was very often the day we were there. In fact I recall Sevchuk often had his mother work the shop Sundays, I assume so he could go off and hit the show circuit. I wonder how close my buddy and I came to the card.
Just watched Watchmen (2009), and yup, I liked it quite a bit. Enough to stick an ad for it in the left column for now. Surprised? Hey, if you liked the comic I don't see how you couldn't like the movie, obviously pieces were left out, but what was in there pretty much captured the book frame for frame. I'd noticed when it was first released to theaters the comments on Twitter seemed to indicate those who read it loved it, those who didn't hated it, often commenting it was too violent (okay, maybe) or had too much sex (really? Kind of thought any less sex would be no sex). I was quite happy with it, especially after finding The Dark Knight (2008) overrated--really admired Christian Bale as he rose through the ranks, but does he do anything but bark anymore? Oh yeah, I didn't think too much of Iron Man (2008) either. See, I watch new movies.
But I still prefer the old ones. On Ginger Rogers' birthday a couple of people mentioned The Major and the Minor (1942) to me as one of their favorites. I actually found it on YouTube and watched, and it was quite good. Unfortunately one of the segments was missing, probably about 6-8 minutes two-thirds of the way in, but I've corrected that by purchasing the title the other night. Awaiting it's arrival.
Briefly, Ginger plays a woman who gives up on making it in New York, finds herself short for a train ticket back home so poses as a minor for a reduced fare. Dodging conductors on board she winds up with Ray Milland, playing a Major, and thus the title, who takes a liking to the "youngster." Complications arise once Milland's stuffy girlfriend gets involved, though Ginger is aided by her little sister, who spots the ruse right away allowing Rogers to drop the act around her. Good fun, teases the censors pretty well in parts.
By the way, not only did I find The Major and the Minor a couple of dollars cheaper at DeepDiscount that Amazon, I also found a 25% off coupon at retailmenot.com -- The coupon is good for 25% off on all DVDs through August 2nd, the code is july9. I get the feeling I'll be back for something else before August 2. My final price on The Major and the Minor: $7.54.
Just watched Dark Victory (1939) for the first time tonight on TCM as part of their celebration of movies from 1939. People always talk about how wonderful Bette Davis was in it, and I can now agree, though what surprised me was how good George Brent was. I'm often surprised at how when I just catch a big movie like this for the first time I'm still allowed to be surprised at the twists and turns and come away thinking, "Aha, that's what all the hub bub was about." I'm sorry to say that in the case of Dark Victory I did know the ending in advance, so I didn't get to have that feel which I'm sure the contemporary 1939 audience had in rooting for Brent to find a cure. Dark Victory is one which makes all the highlight reels and documentaries and unfortunately they give it away.
Added a movie to my Warren William collection, the last in-print DVD I needed, Lillian Russell (1940). Haven't had a chance to watch it yet, but obviously it's soon on the horizon.
Oh, I recorded the run of Saint movies that aired on TCM this past Wednesday. Looking forward to spending a lot of time with George Sanders sometime soon.
Turned down a chance to see new Yankee Stadium this past Sunday, then kicked myself a little afterwards when I realized it was old-timers day. I was kind of busy though and actually I'd expected to go to a game with my visiting friend this week, but that didn't happen either. Basically thought I had a shot to see the Yanks live twice this week, ended up not seeing them at all. Frankly I prefer to watch a ballgame on television anyway. I'm not comfortable dozing through the middle innings at the park, works well from the couch though.
Began listing some on Etsy this week. There's always so much to do in the world of e-commerce, I was shocked to see that I'd opened my Etsy account back in December 2008--that's when I planned on trying them out. Just got sidetracked til, oh, end of July. Not much there yet, but here it is if you'd like a peek.
Finally, if I can finish up what I need to finish tonight, going to finally watch Hitchcock's The 39 Steps (1935) later tonight. This is another one of those big one's, like Dark Victory, that has so far eluded me, but Netflix has it available for instant download. Unlike Dark Victory I have no idea what to expect with The 39 Steps, but Twitter friends such as @RupertAlistair, @KateGabrielle, and @TallulahDarling have convinced me that I have to watch it, ASAP. Actually, I'm hoping to write about it in detail for the Examiner by early next week.
And that's about all that's going on here. Back with more odds and ends as they occur to me.