I stayed up into the later morning today, so that I could watch the live coverage for the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. In the end, I thought it was a beautiful wedding. Simple yet elegant. And perhaps also the single-most watched wedding in the history of the planet.
One thing that stood out to me, however, were the hats. Apparently it's the "in" thing for women to wear strange and creative hats to a royal English wedding. And there were indeed a few odd ones. Buzzfeed compiled a photographic list of the most notable hats worn at the royal wedding. Take a look.
I couldn't resist. This is far to fun not to share. It's a video montage set to popular Weird Al Yankovic parody song, "White and Nerdy". The fun part part, though, it that it's a song about Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation. But it could apply to some of us as well.
Have you ever wondered how plastic bottles are made? You know, the 2-liter bottles that your favorite soft drink comes in. Or, your favorite peanut butter. Or dish-washing detergent. They're not made how you think. Here's a video that shows exactly how those plastic bottles are made. Enjoy! ... [video]
Selective color is a post-processing technique where most of a photo is changed to to black and white, but some parts are left in color. This is usually achieved by using layers and masks in photo editing software. Here are some beautiful selective color photos. Enjoy!
Today is the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. At 1:23am on April 26th, 1986, a routine safety test at the Chernobyl nuclear station went wrong, and resulted in an explosion within one of four nuclear reactors. That event has become the world's worst nuclear accident.
In this short film (edited from a longer DVD version), a tragic mistake forces a father to make a tough decision: Save the life of his son, or sacrifice it to save the lives of countless others. It's a heart-rending story, but also one that resonates with those of us in the Christian faith.
VIDEO UPDATE: Originally titled, "Most", this film was retitled, "The Bridge" and released in 2003. It's a Czech film directed by Bobby Garabedian and written and produced by American actor William Zabka. The music score was created by John Debney (Passion of the Christ).
It was also the winner of a number of prestigious film awards including: Sundance Film Festival 2004, Academy Award (Best Short Film), Heartland Film Festival 2003 (Crystal Heart Award), and Palm Springs International 2003 (Best of Festival).
While this film is produced from a secular viewpoint, parallels are drawn with that of Christ's sacrifice on the cross. Another narrative in this film, that of the female drug-addict, is also present, however, it was not included in it's entirety within this particular video.
As follows is the synopsis for the full movie:
MOST, the Czech word for "The Bridge," is a fitting title for this 21st-century parable about a loving father, his young son, and the fateful day when they attempt to head off an impending rail disaster. Hundreds of passengers aboard an oncoming steam train are completely unaware of the danger that looms as they head toward an open drawbridge. As a desperate young woman witnesses an act of mercy beyond imagination, her life is changed forever—as are the lives of all who see this film. Both heart wrenching and glorious, MOST vividly portrays the greatest offering of love, sacrifice, hope, and forgiveness known to man.
When Richie Benjamin received a mysterious gift from his long-gone father, his world changes. A mustached gentleman in a top hat enters his life, and everything becomes a whirlwind of sex, money and dangerous dealings. It's a game... that never ends.
And just an FYI, for those that didn't catch it, this is not a real film. It's a cleverly-done parody that envisions the board game Monopoly as a fast-paced thriller. It's all in the name of fun. However, to be honest, if it was an upcoming film, I'd probably go see it!
"Five Real Baseball Cards for Major Leaguers That Don't Exist"
I was watching my local Milwaukee Brewers play baseball on television the other day, when an interesting idea struck me. In the history of cinema, there have been many great baseball stories. And each of these stories have fascinating players. Some of these players are real, like Joe DiMaggio, Babe Ruth, and Shoeless Joe Jackson. And some are not. They're fictional; completely made-up.
Real-life ballplayers are immortalized on baseball cards. It's a million-dollar business. Cards get printed every year, and collectors pass them around with glee. But what about the the fictional players? Has anyone ever printed baseball cards for them?
It was an interesting thought, so I decided to do a little exploring and see what I could come up with. I wanted to find baseball cards representing fictitious ballplayers. And I don't mean mere graphics created by fans in Photoshop. No, I wanted to see if I could find real, tangible, legitimate baseball cards. Cards printed by baseball card producers, publications, or film companies as props or promotional items.
I set some limitations on my search too. First of all, these cards had to represent fictional MLB players. No minor leaguers like those in the movie "Bull Durham". Second, the players had to be adults. No kids like in "Little Big League" or "Bad News Bears". Kids make for great storytelling, but not within the scope of this project. And finally, it had to look like a baseball card, not just a promotional photo. Player photo on the front, and, if possible, statistics on the back.
After a great deal of searching, I was able to put together a collection of five fictional Major League Baseball players who have real, tangible baseball cards. I've listed them below, along with photos showing the front and back of each card. Take a peek, and enjoy!
Stan Ross -- ("Mr. 3000")
Stan Ross, played by the late Bernie Mac, made his appearance in the 2004 film, "Mr. 3000". He was an arrogant ballplayer. One of the best in the MLB, but only interested in himself, his quest for 3000 hits, and a spot in the Hall of Fame.
To promote the film, Touchstone Pictures printed this card, and designed it to look like a Stan Ross baseball card. The back features Stan's story and fictional career statistics.
Kenny Powers -- ("Eastbound & Down")
Kenny Powers, played by actor Danny McBride, made his appearance in the current-running HBO comedy series, "Eastbound & Down". He's a burned-out former Major League ballplayer who returns to his old hometown to teach physical education at his old middle school. The series is produced by Will Ferrell's production company, Gary Sanchez Productions.
In a bold marketing move by HBO, a sheet of Kenny Powers baseball cards were printed in a 2009 issue of The Sporting News. I've read that they were also released in a pack with a stick of bubble gum. And, for those that want a digital copy, they're also available for download on the Kenny Powers website. There are five different cards. I picked my favorite for the purpose of this article.
Jack Elliot -- ("Mr. Baseball")
Jack Elliot, played by actor Tom Selleck, made his appearance in the 1992 film, "Mr. Baseball". He was an aging American League first baseman who was put on the trading block by the New York Yankees in favor of a younger replacement. The only team interested in him, however, was a Japanese team -- the Nagoya Chunichi Dragons. Thus, Jack Elliot heads to Japan to play baseball.
To promote the movie, this card was released in the 1992 Upper Deck baseball card set. It features Tom Selleck, and then-baseball-slugger Frank Thomas, in New York Yankee's uniforms. Frank Thomas played the ballplayer that replaced Selleck on the Yankees at the beginning of the movie.
Roy Hobbs -- ("The Natural")
Roy Hobbs, played by veteran actor Robert Redford, made his appearance in the 1984 baseball film, "The Natural". Here, Redford plays a baseball prodigy whose career is sidetracked by a gunshot wound. Years later, Roy Hobbs makes a comeback, returns to baseball and plays for the New York Knights with his legendary bat, "Wonderboy".
Unlike the previously featured baseball cards, this Roy Hobbs card was actually used as a prop in the movie. In fact, there's a scene in which entire sheets of his baseball card are being printed. As a prop, though, the backs were left blank -- since they were never seen on screen.
Buck Bokai -- ("Star Trek: Deep Space Nine")
Buck Bokai, played by actor Keone Young, made his appearance on an episode of the television series, "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine". He was a historic superstar in the early 21st century, with a career spanning from 2015 to the end of Major League Baseball in 2042. He was portrayed in the episode as a recreation of the famous ballplayer.
In terms of the baseball card above, this too was a prop printed and used on screen throughout the run of the series. It was featured prominently on the desk of station commander Benjamin Sisko. Originally, when the prop card was conceived, series modeler Greg Jein came up with the statistics on the back, and used his photo on the front of the card. After Keone Young appeared in the episode, the card was reprinted with Keone on the front (seen above).
The photo below is of the original card with the image of Greg Jein as Buck Bokai.
So there you have it... five REAL baseball cards, featuring five FICTIONAL Major League ballplayers. It's a fascinating look into the blending of fiction, American culture, and sports history.
How many of these cards have you heard of?
BONUS: And, as an addition to the cards featured in this article, I also came across a few surprisingly well-done fan-created baseball cards featuring characters from the 1989 movie, "Major League". They don't fit the requirements of this article, but they're too good not to mention. So I will... just because. Enjoy!
I'm sure we've all seen this skit; many times even. It's Abbott and Costello performing their "Who's on first?" baseball sketch in the 1945 film, "The Naughty Nineties". Even today, it's still a classic.
Back in 1987, my father and I performed this skit in a talent contest. I was seven years old, and already a little actor. My father played Abbot's role; I was Costello (the bumbling shorter man with the bowler hat). When all was said and done, we took first place. I still have the trophy to prove it.
It's snowing here in Brillion. The grass of yesterday is covered by a blanket of frozen white. And according to weather forecasters, we're in for 8-10 inches before this gloomy, thunder-bringing, snow-all-day storm passes. Yesterday it was cool and Spring-like. Today we're back in winter. I think the seasons got their wires crossed.
Over the past couple of days, I've spent a good many hours scouring the internet, looking for bloggers who live in (or near) Brillion, Wisconsin. The goal is to make connections with other internet-savvy writers who live in my new home city. Unfortunately, there only appear to be two: me, and the BrillionBugle.
If you're reading this, and you're a blogger who lives in the Brillion area, drop me a line. Leave me a comment (below), email me, or send me a message on Facebook. And be sure to include the URL to your blog. I'd love to add you to my blogroll!
Do you want to know what my favorite online comic is? I'll give you a hint, it's linked among the "Blogs I Read" in the right-hand column of this page. It's been there for years. Don't know? It's a journal comic by Nathan Fehr (a 28-year-old Canadian) called "Interesting Times". Updated every Monday through Thursday. My friend turned me onto it a few years ago.
The thing I like about this web comic is it's simplicity. The characters are stick figures. But yet they have a fascinating degree of personality. And they're consistent. Likable. Plus, the whole series comes from the mind of a "total nerd". If you don't know by now... I can relate to that.
On April 6th, I mentioned (on Facebook) that "an upgraded version of JonBaas.com is in the works." If you look around this site, you'll see some of these upgrades already in play. How many individual changes can you spot?
On April 12, 1861 -- 150 years ago today -- the American Civil War began when the Confederate States fired on Fort Sumter in Charleston, SC. The war that followed, would last four long years and claim the lives of 620,000 men. It remains the deadliest war in American history.
As of this past Sunday, it has now been nine months since I got married. This time last year, I was still a bachelor living in West Allis, WI -- with my long-time best friend as my roommate. I was preparing to move to Brillion in three months; and gearing up for my wedding in July. I was also rehearsing the male lead in a stage show that would perform in May. It was a busy time of year.
Now, as I sit here in Brillion, married, a full year later, I thought it might be interesting to live-blog a day in the life of married Jon. In other words, I'll record my day as it happens (via short time-dated comments), and address the questions of "What is life like, now that my bachelor days are behind me?" Or, "What keeps me busy on a random day?"
Whatever happens today (aside from mundane tasks), will be recorded here in this blog post. I'll start at 12:01am (CST) this morning, and live-blog through 11:59pm (CST) tonight.
Sound like fun? Bookmark this page, and stick around.
Live-blogging starts -- right here -- at 12:01am!
12:09 AM I've been spending the last few hours organizing my home office, as well as going through some old files. My work space has gotten a bit cluttered over the past nine months, and I don't like it. I want the space back. So... organizing it is.
My wife, Kelli, has already gone to bed. Around 9:30pm actually. She gets up at 5am to prepare for school. She teaches kindergarten. I, however, am self-employed, and work overnight. That's when my mind is most productive, and, when I get the most done. Usually I'm at my computer. Tonight the office, a couple empty shelves, and four cardboard boxes are my playground.
12:24 AM I have the office window open; it was warm in here earlier. It's cool now, and rather peaceful listening to the soft hum of the nearby Brillion Iron Works.
12:44 AM I love strategy map-based board games. The Avalon Hill/ Victory Games kind. At present, I own six. One deals with the Republic of Rome, four pertain to the American Civil War, and one is a Star Trek starship tactical combat simulator. I also own complete deck plans to Captain Kirk's Starship Enterprise.
12:59 AM I almost forgot. No self-respecting strategy board-gamer should be without Axis and Allies. That's a classic. I've got that one too. Just saw it on the shelf.
1:22 AM I was just reorganizing my books on my bookshelf. Most of them have to do with the American Civil War, Star Trek, art, theatre, history, and small business topics. I seem to have very well developed passions.
1:55 AM I'm re-discovering some fascinating things in these four cardboard boxes. There are academic semester grade sheets from college, report cards and childhood artwork going back to when I was in kindergarten, and a significant collection of old letters. Some of these letters are from family members, old friends, even a few from from girl friends as I was growing up whom I had a shy crush on, or who had a crush on me. Lots of letters. Some go back almost twenty years!
I'm going to have set aside a day sometime soon, and read all of these letters. I think it would be a fascinating glimpse into my past!
2:03 AM Ok, now it's cold in the office. 38F degrees outside. Time to close the window.
2:45 AM Time for a break from the office work. I think a glass of red wine and either the early morning news (ABC World News Now) -- or a DVD episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine -- is in order.
2:52 AM I settled on the news.
3:40 AM You know, I think I'm just going to call it a day, and draw my "Monday" to a close. I got a lot done in the office these past few hours. Today as a whole even. I'm happy. Sleep is starting to creep in, and after that wonderful-tasting wine, I'm more inclined to sleep then resume my office work. It's been a good day. I'll pick up where I left off when I awake. Maybe even work on some other projects as well.
My self-imposed bedtime is usually no later than 5am. I try to be in bed before Kelli wakes up. This morning, though, I think I'll hit the sack a little early.
Have a great Tuesday everyone! I'll resume live-blogging in a few hours.
12:57 PM I'm up; I'm awake. I slept a bit longer than I intended, though -- nine hours. Usually I start my day before noon. I guess I really was tired when I went to bed this morning. Oh well. 'Tis better to be rested than falling asleep on the job. Time to go find me some "lunch".
1:18 PM I'm in the other room eating lunch and watching my usual mid-afternoon news program -- HLN News (Cable news station). Did you know, today is supposedly "National Equal Pay Day"? It's designed to bring awareness to that fact that women still make less money than men in the workplace.
Kelli is on salary at work. At the moment, SHE makes more income than I do. And to be honest, in the grand scheme of things, it's not that big of a deal.
1:56 PM Alright, I am sufficiently fed. My lunch: toasted pastrami and swiss onion bagel sandwich. Very tasty. I'll have to share the recipe sometime.
2:20 PM Every afternoon, my wife sends me an email from school. In it she asks me to do a variety of household chores. Today's task is mopping the kitchen and bathroom floors. I'm happy to help. But I think I'll go grab a shower first.
3:28 PM Shower done. Floors swept and mopped. Trash and recycling taken out. Mail obtained. I'm on a roll! Time to do some blogging and check up on the blogosphere.
4:11 PM Kelli just returned home from school. Her first words to me: "It's gawgeous out there!" She's right. 58F and sunny is pretty darn awesome!
4:50 PM Fascinating: According to Facebook Insights, 63% of the fans on my Facebook page are female.
5:01 PM I have an awesome, beautiful wife. Just sayin'.
5:28 PM Kelli just called me to dinner. Time to set aside the website work and follow my nose to the table. It smells great. Probably tastes just as great too!
6:01 PM My wife loves to cook. I love to eat what she cooks. Point of fact, she made goulash for dinner tonight. Goulash and cheesy bread. It was delicious!
6:09 PM Whoohooo! Going for a walk with the wife! Be back soon.
7:58 PM Beautiful evening for a walk! Gorgeous out. A little crisp, but perfect get-out-and-about weather. We stopped in at a friend's house, chatted for a while, and then walked back home. Now, I think we'll sit down and watch last night's episode of "Castle" (on OnDemand). We missed it yesterday.
9:06 PM Tucking my wife into bed. Laying with her until she falls asleep.
9:47 PM Kelli is sleeping. Since I stay up later than she does, I usually lay with her until she's asleep on my chest. Then I carefully get up, kiss her on her forehead, and head back into my office. She says it's her favorite time of the day.
10:41 PM Working on some marketing projects. It's a necessity when you're self-employed.
11:35 PM There don't seem to be many people blogging here in Brillion. And if they are, their blogs aren't very well publicized. Mine is. I wonder if that makes me a local internet celebrity?
11:59 PM Well, that's the end of my Tuesday. 11:59pm. Granted, I'll still be up working on things for a few hours yet; my bedtime isn't until later in the morning. But, for now, it's been fun live-blogging. If there's interest, I may have to do it again sometime!
If YOU enjoyed this post, leave me a comment. I'd love to hear your input.
In the meantime, have a great Wednesday everyone! Thanks for reading, following along, and checking in throughout your Tuesday. I've enjoyed sharing. Until the next blog post,
As most of you know, I love old abandoned places. Old ghost towns. Sunken ships. Ancient ruins. Each one of these places has a story to tell. Perhaps many stories. But, sadly, time passes, people move on... and these once-lively places have fallen silent. No one remains to share their history.
And nowhere is this more true, than old theaters.
Here are some photos of 75 abandoned theaters from around the USA. What stories do you think they tell? Take a peek, imagine... and enjoy!
Earlier this evening, I witnessed a spectacular lighting show above my house. Flashes of light -- hundreds of them -- all going off in rapid succession across the sky. Only a few of them actually struck the ground. The whole thing lasted nearly an hour, and was accompanied by tornado sirens, thunder, and eventually heavy wind, rain, and in some places, baseball-sized hail. I've never seen anything like it!
This video was taken a few hours ago by someone who lives 20 miles west of me in the city of Menasha, Wisconsin. The storm hit them before it reached us here in Brillion, but it's still the same sky I watched above my house. Awe-inspiring to say the least!
(NOTE: The video does have sound. Just wait for it.)
STORM UPDATE: There was severe damage from strong winds, tornadoes were reported (even one about nine miles north of my house), but, as of this writing, no confirmed injuries or deaths.
VIDEO UPDATE: Here are some more videos of last night's storm:
Above: Video from Grand Chute, Wisconsin (also roughly 20 miles west).
Video from Neenah, Wisconsin.
VIDEO UPDATE: Another fantastic video, also from Winnebago County directly west of my house. This time, the video may have captured one of the developing supercell/funnel clouds.
Felice Cohen lives in a Manhattan studio apartment that measures only 12 feet by 7 feet. And, yet, she chooses to live there. The average rent for an apartment in Manhattan's Upper West Side is $3,600/month. But for her tiny little 90-square-foot microstudio, Felice only pays $700/month. It's an adjustment, but she loves the simple, cozy life. And, as this video shows, she does it in style!
My wife just reminded me that 2011 is the 150th Anniversary of the start of the American Civil War. The first shot was fired on April 12, 1861, when Confederate forces attacked the U.S. military installation at Fort Sumter in South Carolina.
I really need to pay more attention to the calendar.
I just realized something... I missed an important anniversary. Not my wedding anniversary, that one comes around later this summer. No, I'm referring to the 50th anniversary of my favorite childhood baseball "board game" -- Strat-O-Matic.
Strat-O-Matic, for those who don't know, is a dice and card-based statistical baseball game (now with a computer version as well) that accurately represents the skills and abilities of thousands of Major League Baseball players. Players going all the way back to 1901. In my youth, I spent hours rolling the dice with my dad, consulting the player cards, and simulating hundreds of realistic baseball games. We even kept track of the statistics -- by hand -- with pencil and paper. Eventually, we moved to the computer version, replaying entire seasons with greater ease. Yet, to this day, my dad still has our vast collection of thousands of player cards in storage, waiting for their chance to shine in play once again.
Ah, yes. Fond memories. Lots of fond memories.
In February -- earlier this year, Strat-O-Matic celebrated fifty years of success. There was even a convention, in New York City, that attracted hundreds of loyal players and fans. I wasn't among them. But it was the kind of convention I might have gone to had I had the chance.
These days -- at my home here in Brillion, I've spent my baseball-simulating hours playing the equally popular Baseball Mogul. For me, it's proven to be a more compact gaming experience, and one I can more easily play solitaire. But that doesn't mean I've forgotten my Strat-O-Matic roots. No. My entire passion for baseball comes from two things: Attending Milwaukee Brewer baseball games at the old County Stadium with my dad, and playing Strat-O-Matic baseball -- also with my dad.
Without them -- without Strat-O-Matic -- my life would contain a lot less baseball. And a lot less baseball would make the Jon you know a very different person. So here's to Strat-O-Matic. Happy 50th Birthday! May your influence and success last through yet another generation of baseball fans. And may your dice-driven contests drive many more weekends of father-son gaming!
Did you know... there are over 100 flavors of Pringles potato chips?
Yep. Over one hundred.
For those that don't know, Pringles is a brand of potato chips produced by Procter & Gamble. They're sold in over 100 countries, and have yearly sales of over one billion dollars. Procter & Gamble actually chose the Pringles name from a Cincinnati telephone book, having been inspired by Pringle Drive in Finneytown, Ohio. They were first sold in the United States in October 1968, and distributed internationally by the mid-1970s.
Those who know me well, know that I love to explore history. Locations. Events. Old abandoned places. Here in America, there are many of these places. Places that were once thriving communities, and then, due to economic downturn, pollution, or other circumstances, just shriveled up and died.
"Ship Graveyards: Abandoned Ships, Boats and Shipyards"
Ships and boats are are a fascinating invention borne from the need for necessity and the spirit of human adventure. From the beginning of time, nations have relied on shipping to expand empires, massive ocean liners have transported tourists to distant lands, and hearty little tug boats have guided immense cargo vessels through busy commercial waters.
But the rise of air travel and the decline of shipbuilding have left coasts, rivers and waterways littered with the shells of abandoned ships, boats and shipyards. They may not be pretty, but they do provide a fascinating look into the past, and a thrilling subject for photographers and maritime enthusiasts.