Hey, I Know That Guy

While checking the news today I saw an article in the Star Trib on Michael Ovikian. The guy used to work at the BGEA and has the most amazing stories to tell. In the final days at the BGEA Ovikian used an entire devotional time to tell stories. The one I remember best centered around their son being born in Germany and how they couldn’t get the kid home thanks to his parents’ complicated nationalities. Ovikian was Israeli, and his wife was German, but both countries granted citizenship based on the opposite parent’s nationality (Israel based it on the mother, Germany based it on the father). So they had quite a time getting their kid out of the country and back to the U.S. Amazing story. He’s a pretty amazing guy.

Thoughts on Collecting

With my recent eBay obsession I’ve been digging into my childhood collection of trading cards. What started innocently enough with Topps baseball cards in 1986 turned into a full-blown addiction where I’d spend my entire $8/month allowance in a single Friday night at the Alcove Hobby shop on Woodward Ave.

Now I have no attachment to the cards and they’re simply taking up room in the basement. The only reason I still have them is because everyone my age grew up hearing the stories of attics full of Mickey Mantle rookie cards someone’s mother threw away. So everyone my age has a closet, basement, or attic stocked with cards they desperately hope will be worth more than a penny a piece. With most of my cards now 10-15 years old and still worth pennies, it’s not likely they’ll ever be worth anything.

Today I walked into Shinders, a comic book and sports card shop, and I saw packs of baseball cards I snatched up as a kid for as much as $1 a pack going for 29 cents. I was briefly tempted to buy a pack to remember the nostalgia of opening pack upon pack of baseball cards. But only briefly.

As I’ve been pouring through my collection and revisiting a sports card shop, I can’t quite figure out what I saw in baseball cards. I liked baseball at the time, and rooted for the Detroit Tigers. But I really didn’t know anything about baseball. I didn’t follow the sport, I didn’t know half the players, I didn’t know who all the rookies were. I think the cards were simply a collection to me, which is why I so quickly transitioned to racing cards and diecast when I got into NASCAR.

I collected a lot of things as a kid, from the requisite rock collection, to baseball cards, sea shells, animal postcards, Matchbox and Hotwheels cars, and even stamps and coins for very brief stints. I think baseball cards were probably ideal because they were so ordered. I could sort them by number or team, put them in albums or store them in plastic boxes. When I think about it, that’s all I ever did with my baseball cards. It’s not like you ever looked at your baseball cards just to look at them, you had to sort them, order them, rank them. I don’t even think I bothered trading my cards much.

But what really made baseball cards, and later racing cards, so addictive was the lottery-like nature of opening a pack. There’s a certain thrill in opening a wax pack of 10 or 12 or 15 random baseball cards. You could get that lucky card that completes your collection. Or more likely, that big money card. And if you came up short, Topps gave you a crusty stick of sugary gum to help heal the loss of not scoring big.

I think that’s what baseball card collecting was for me — hoping I’d strike it rich. Which is funny, because it was always a some day pay-off. I rarely sold my baseball cards or cashed in on that big money card. Occasionally I did sell some cards off, but that immediate pay-off wasn’t in mind when I’d open a pack and find a Don Mattingly. I imagined myself years from now, selling the card for hundreds of dollars and being incredibly wealthy. Now here I am at that exact age I imagined myself, and my Don Mattingly card is worth a few bucks, just like it was in 1987.

It seems odd to me that much of my childhood was spent collecting things I could one day cash in on. Now that I’m cashing in, and getting so much less cash than my 10-year-old mind imagined, it’s strangely hollow. I’ll buy a computer with my earnings and a few years later the computer will be ready for eBay, and I’ll be starting over. It’s almost Ecclesiastical.

Caffeine + Music

Apple.com screenshotToday Apple announced a 100 million free song giveaway with Pepsi. All the details haven’t been released yet (wait for Sunday’s Super Bowl ad), but they do give the odds — 1 in 3 wins. Not too shabby. Digital music rocks.

But I mainly wanted to mention it because I thought the graphic on Apple’s homepage was freaking cool. It’s hard to be eye-catching on the web today, but I think all those Pepsi bottles does it pretty nicely.

Do it eBay — We do!

eBayRather than turning to traditional sources of start-up revenue, Monkey Outta Nowhere is turning to the auction site eBay. Outrageous IPOs are a thing of the past, and true Internet giants are raising cash the old fashioned way — selling their junk.

By liquidating assets, Monkey Outta Nowhere hopes to purchase the proverbial typewriter and begin cranking out work Shakespeare could admire. The sell-offs have included lemonade, cola, and lip balm, as well as a basement full of another man’s treasure.

Total eBay earnings have topped a reported $500 to date.

Do it eBay, Baby!

The Tick: Because I Care.I know my other eBay auctions may not have been your cup of tea, or they simply sold too quickly, but now I have the auction you can’t ignore:

The Tick Lip Balm.

How can you possibly do the two-lipped butterfly with chapped lips! C’mon, man, protect those puckerers! OK, it’s from 1995, so you probably don’t want to use it, but how keen would a tube of Tick balm sitting on your desk be? You’ll be the envy of the office.

“… Because I Care!” – The Tick

In the Name of Love

My article on the U2 Tribute album, In the Name of Love, posted on passageway.org last week. I say “my” article, but it took some heavy hits in the editing department. Maybe 3/4 of it is mine. So if you don’t like it, it must be the other 1/4.

My favorite axed quote helped to establish just how involved Bono is in humanitarian efforts: U2’s guitarist the Edge recently joked that they could finish the next album if “Bono can just tear himself away from saving the world for long enough to finish the lyrics.” (Telegraph, reported in @U2).

While I’ve interviewed a handful of the artists involved and written about In the Name of Love, I still haven’t reviewed the album. I’m waiting to get a full copy (I’ve only heard half of it), though the biggest complaint I’ve heard is just how much of a charity the project is or isn’t.

I’ve heard reports that only 50 cents of every album will be donated to charity, which sounds pretty weak. Maybe that’s standard charity album proceeds, but on a $12 CD someone’s still making money. I’ve heard reports of different Christian bookstores and Sparrow records chipping in cash to the effort, but it still seems odd that such a measley portion of the CD would go to charity. One artist I interviewed even seemed to think they recorded their song for free, though that wasn’t true. The publicist involved told me all the artists were being paid as they normally would, so it’s not much of a charity case on the part of the artists (unless they decide to donate their income).

The project seemed like such a great idea whose time had come, but I’m not so sure now. The execution of that idea might be killing it.

Let it Snow

One o' them crooked snow shovels.With the constant snow fall today and a well-placed Target endcap, I came home with a new ergonomic snow shovel. My fifty-cent, garage sale, way-to-heavy, snow-sticks to it, shovel can be retired. The new one is one of those funky crooked ones that look all goofy, but it works brilliantly. I don’t have to bend over to shovel the snow. What a concept. I’m actually hoping it keepts snowing so I can use the new shovel tomorrow.

Who gets excited over a snow shovel?