Monday, May 29, 2006

don’t mess with the bull

Around the end of February, a friend gave me a Paul Gleason autograph after sharing a story of how he and his wife had run into him at a baseball card show a number of years before. Not only did I find Gleason’s fondness of baseball memorabilia interesting, I also was intrigued by him having told Marty that in spite of all the acting work he had done, practically everyone still recognized him for his role as Principal Richard Vernon in The Breakfast Club. Without a doubt, I would be part of that group.

I placed the autographed index card on my bulletin board where I keep material I think blog-worthy, figuring I’d get around to discussing it in the not too distant future. Then I got busy with spring training travels and the start of the regular season, as my general lack of postings indicates. Unfortunately it would take the actor’s recent death to make me find the time to share the autograph here.

I really don’t have anything to add about the man that can’t be found online. For example, here is a great photo of Gleason hamming it up with Fred Lynn.

Prior to becoming an actor, Gleason played some minor league baseball in the Cleveland Indians organization. Definitely worth reading about is Paul’s association with former Major Leaguer Mickey McDermott. (Trust me on this link.)

Of course Paul also played the role of Cushman in the classic Seinfeld episode when George Costanza decides to do and say the opposite of everything that he normally would. And who didn’t enjoy Gleason as Clarence Beeks in the film Trading Places.

One theory is that celebrity deaths often occur in threes. Certainly the news of Paul’s passing is enough to prevent me from surfing over to any news websites for the next several days as I dread reading the next obituary.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


While leafing through a short stack of notes I had written to myself that were taking up space on my desk where I normally file my clutter, I found a list of silly phrases I overheard during Spring Training games in Arizona. I figure if I type them here, I will have a swell excuse to then visit my shredder.

Strangely enough, a question I overheard repeatedly during games was “What’s the score?” Even odder was that about half the time the person who replied also lacked a clue.

“Who’s playing?” was very popular. (shrug)

The battle cry among the faithful at Phoenix Municipal Stadium was, “Where’s Mark the Beer Guy?” (Seriously, even if you don’t click any of the other links, this one is a MUST!)

If I was given 50 cents for every time I heard “He’s only got MGD,” then “Forget THAT! I’ll wait for another vendor,” it would nearly have covered the price of a frosty beverage for myself.

My favorite overheard discussion was highlighted by the phrase, “No, YOU shut up!” That was during an exchange between a group of rowdy college-age kids and a woman sitting behind them in a wheelchair. When the ushers stepped in to investigate, one of the kids flashed a badge and indicated that everything was under control. Amazingly, that act bought them a full half-inning before the Tempe police were summoned to sort it all out.

Finally, the most commonly uttered word in the parking lots following any of the games, was “SHOTGUN!”

Speaking of baseball, if you are interested in seeing more of my work on websites that I don’t maintain, you should check out a photograph I took of Evan MacLane during the Arizona Fall League last November that has been published as part of an article on A starting pitcher for the Norfolk Tides, MacLane was recently named the International League’s pitcher of the week.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

toy story - 2006

Of the many interesting items I observed in the garden this past week (dozens of newly hatched praying mantids, the first ripening strawberries of the season, my apparent conquering of three hills of vicious ants I’ve been battling for more than a year, loofa sponge seedlings poking up through the ground in the morning glory patch), none are as intriguing as this curious little find…

After brushing off enough dirt to realize that the tiny horseman was made from lead (and not stone), the first thing that popped into my brain was the late 1960s tune “One Tin Soldier.” Then I flipped the toy over to count the rider’s legs in order to determine if he was the resurrected nameless character from Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Steadfast Tin Soldier” (1838).

He isn’t.

I haven’t decided if this guy is really a soldier, some sort of knight or royalty, or just a dandy out for a Sunday ride. Perhaps it represents Paul Revere? Only the most brilliant scholars will scoff at my notion that the figurine is actually of the famously unknown Hessian trooper who would later become legendary by haunting Sleepy Hollow, rushing off to enlist in the Revolutionary War.

What I do know is that the figurine is hollow and was mass produced. It measures 35 mm from nose to tail by 27 mm hoof to head, and is approximately 8 mm thick. The bottom portion of the horse’s right rear leg is missing- possibly having broken off when separated from the base (assuming, of course, that it once had a base). No evidence of paint remains on the item.

A few Google searches revealed that there are TONS of websites dedicated to toy soldiering, lead miniatures, plastic army men, and scale modeling of famous and imaginary battle scenes. Although one or more of these sites potentially might lead to information about my historic artifact, truth be told, the shear number of them is practically overwhelming (at least during baseball season). Thus, I have emailed photos to a few historians I know, and forwarded my request to other archaeologists who hopefully will pass along the inquiry to historical specialists they work with. Perhaps this will result in a better starting point to determine the origin of this object.

Given that the toy lacks an obvious maker’s mark, I may never figure out who manufactured it, or when. Still, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that it is one countless toys produced by Louis Marx and Company, an American company that made millions of dollars selling toys, including inexpensive ones through dime stores (such as Woolworth’s for example) since opening for business in 1919.

Your comments are encouraged. As improbable as it seems, it would be very interesting to be able to associate this item with one of the previous homeowners.

On a side note, while researching this lead figurine I tripped over a line of long-unremembered toys from my youth that caused me to laugh like Syd Barrett. Do any of you still have one or more plastic Nutty Mads figurines in your toy box?

Saturday, May 13, 2006

craft work orange

I thought I should add something here for a couple of reasons: A) I wouldn’t want the administrators tagging this account “inactive” and deleting all my hard work, and B) so readers will stop emailing me asking why I haven’t added anything to my blog lately.

I wish to announce that I’ve added another wacky product to the cyberworld.

If you happen to see one of these stickers on a car in front of you in traffic, I would think it safe to give them a slight tap with your car (or Hummer). Worst case… you slightly damage their rear bumper, and give them yet another excuse to draw their hot glue gun and impress you with their marksmanship.

If you must, you can purchase one or more of these stickers for yourself (or your co-workers) by following this link to my shop at CafePress. Perhaps I will get around to adding this item to my website in time for your Krismas shopping.

With my “I Gave at the Pumps” t-shirts selling like hotcakes, I can’t help but wonder just how well actual hotcakes might sell on CafePress.

By the way, I have added the Spring Training articles I wrote for XXL National Sports Daily to my website. You can download and read those articles for FREE. (Note: The articles are in the very popular .pdf format, so make sure you have the latest and greatest version of Adobe Acrobat installed on your computer before you read them.) I haven’t added any photos yet, so feel free to check back in the future if you are interested in seeing them.

Time to water the garden.