Sunday, September 26, 2021

#46 Gipsy Kings

I wasn't familiar with the Gipsy Kings outside of putting this set/blog together, but turns out they've been at it with a poppy interpretation of flamenco music since well before this card came out and they're still active today.

Their recordings have been used in popular movies, so I'm sure we've all heard them even if we don't realize it. The Big Lebowski ("Hotel California"), Toy Story 3 ("You've Got a Friend in Me"), and 2016's Sing ["Bamboleo"].

I don't mind this type of music, though I don't typically seek it out or know much about it. I've listened to a couple Gipsy Kings albums on Spotify while drafting this post, and I've enjoyed it all fine, but not sure they'll stick in my regular rotation or anything.

So yeah, not a lot for me to say about MusiCard #46 here. You can read more about this long-running family band at the Gipsy Kings Wikipedia entry.

Oh, here's something I whipped up for a quick Custom Corner...

How could I not?! Had to make a Gypsy Queen Gipsy Kings card. I believe these gentlemen are the remaining original members.

Now it's time for This Month in 1991.

Ha, I had no idea that note was hiding in this old calendar of mine until I went to take a photo of September. Must've stuck it there for semi-safe keeping. I generally don't save "thanks for the trade" notes (though I appreciate them, don't get me wrong), but this one is from a famous person, so it was too cool for me to throw away. Craig here is Craig McCracken, best known as the creator of The Powerpuff Girls and other very successful animation work. We were online acquaintances for a few years back around the turn of the millenium, brought together by our shared love for the music of Frank Black. I traded him plenty of rockin' live recordings and oddities I'd collected of Mr. Black, and Craig hooked me up with lots of cool Cartoon Network swag and other fun stuff, such as a copy of the Heroes & Villains compilation CD he put together with some of his favorite bands contributing songs about the Powerpuff Girls, which I believe is the context of this note.

Craig also drew a couple original pictures for me and gave me a PPG animation cel, all among my most-treasured collectable keepsakes. (I've showed off some of these a few years ago on my other blog.) His new show on Netflix is called Kid Cosmic and I don't think you can find a better "for the whole family" cartoon out there these days. Very well done all around and worth doing yourself a favor by watching. (I'm still finishing up season 1, though season 2 recently dropped to rave reviews, and a third season is forthcoming.)

Anyways, let's remove the sticky note and take a look at what I was up to 30 years ago..

Pretty slow month compared to August from a couple posts ago. Summer fun gave way to back-to-school. On the 5th, I got to endure sore teeth from a braces tightening before tuning into the Video Music Awards on MTV later that evening.

Highlights from the VMAs that year included the return of Pee-wee Herman after the unpleasantness in the naughty movie theatre. Notable music numbers performed at the Arsenio-hosted show were "Poundcake" by Van Halen, "Enter Sandman" by Metallica, and "Gett Off" by Prince with his butt-cheeks out.

I bought a box of Line Drive minor league baseball cards on the 8th for $20. It was probably a situation where I was browsing at the local card shop, PV's Baseball Cards, and I made Paul an offer of $20 for the remainder of an open retail box. I remember doing that occasionally as a kid. Not quite ponying up for a sealed box, but getting a nice per-pack discount by taking a half-full box. This was the 1991 Line Drive "Pre-Rookie" set that mixed AA and AAA players. The above 7 cards might be all I've hung onto from the 30-year old purchase-- a few guys who went on to solid careers-- found in an old binder of mine.

Then on the 15th, I beat the NES game Strider again (so, not for the first time, but not sure if 2nd, 3rd time, or what). Strider is still one of my all-time favorite video games. I just played through it yet again one evening last month. I consider it almost a companion game to Bionic Commando, another late 80s game Capcom put out for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Both have great music, engaging action, semi-non-linear gameplay, and are a lot of fun. The jumping control might be what prevented both games from being more popular. Your guy can't jump in Bionic Commando, but rather you swing around with a go-go-gadget robotic arm, sort of like Spider-Man and his web slinging. In Strider, you can jump, but the game designers kinda shit the bed on the jumping control and it gets a little glitchy at times. But besides that occasional frustration with tricky jumps, and perhaps some bugs with special item usage, it's a terrific game. It's not exactly a well-remembered game today, at least not the Nintendo version, though the arcade and Genesis versions (both plenty different than the NES port) tend to get more respect.

I didn't have it marked on the calendar, but 9/26/91 would become kind of an important date for me because it marked the final concert of Jane's Addiction, who I would get really into as the 90s progressed. Basically for the years that I wasn't collecting baseball cards, I was collecting Jane's Addiction bootlegs instead. At my peak, I owned damn-near every live recording of theirs that was in circulation amongst fans (and several super-rare ones that hardly anybody else had). Over the years, my obsession faded and the band has done various half-hearted reunions, but 9/26/91 still sticks in my head as an important date, and since I notice it's the 30 year anniversary as I write this, figured I'd mention it.

That's it for this post. Any of you readers into the Gipsy Kings? Ever rip any '91 Line Drive packs? Ever play Strider?

Sunday, September 19, 2021

#42-45 Debbie Gibson (+ addressing the "1991-92" question)

Ready for an onslaught of Debbie Gibson cards? By my count, there are 6 different Debbie Gibson cards in the 1991 MusiCards master set: 4 consecutive base cards, plus a variation and a promo card. We'll be taking a look at all of them in this post. 

MusiCard #42 features a live photograph of Deborah at the piano, likely performing a ballad such as "Lost In Your Eyes", by the looks of it. It's an interesting shot-- Can you think of another instance where you get 2 angles of the subject from the same moment in time on one trading card?-- but feels like it was taken by a fan in the audience, a bit washed-out and far away.

Oh my, I really like that headshot on the back. Attractive young woman, no doubt! As this blurb reminds us, Debbie Gibson actually wrote her own songs and was a skilled musician, unlike most teenage pop princesses you might be tempted to lump her in with. Gotta respect that!

Debbie Gibson - "Only In My Dreams"

Here's card #43. Apparently she's working out a charley horse in her foot, lol. It almost appears as though Debbie is rocking dreadlocks, which isn't really on-brand for her. But I think it's more of a "bedhead" look. A somewhat weird card.

And there are 2 different versions of this weird card.

Yep, for Series II, the project manager assigned to the MusiCards product at Pro Set at the time decided that white-dread Debbie's sexy foot-fondling was TOO HOT for the kids of '91, and called upon a censored version. Nah, I'm just being silly, of course. I'm not sure why they made a variation that just moves the Super Stars logo box from one corner to another (The photo has been moved slightly too-- compare the white space above her name). But the back reveals why an updated variation of this card was called for. Let's flip them over; Take a look for yourself and see if you can spot it....

Did you catch the mistake? It's at the last line of text.

Yes, this isn't a simple case of "alternate" variations, but rather a good old fashioned "Error vs. Corrected" situation. Debbie's history-making #1 single was titled "Foolish Beat", not "Foolish Heart" as the initial version of the card erroneously states.

Debbie Gibson - "Foolish Beat"

Oh yeah. While "Foolish Beat" didn't ring a bell for me at first (nor did "Foolish Heart" for that matter, unless we're talking about Steve Perry-- great song), after listening to it, I now definitely remember hearing it on the radio a lot back then, though it was never one of my favorites. But still, very impressive that the track made the Gibson the youngest female artist to write, produce, and perform a Billboard Hot 100 number-one single, a feat that I don't believe has been matched or bested yet.

Back to the card back above, notice the second pressing also adds a tiny copyright line under the back photo (which, like the prior card, features a gorgeous headshot of the young pop star), crediting it to 1991 Gibson Productions. This is slightly notable because these cards generally don't tell you what year they're from (the retail boxes and packs don't mention a specific year-- this would appear to be planned as a one-and-done product right from the start). Sometimes folks mistakenly put the cards down as being released in 1992 or "1991-92". It's a bit confusing because it seems there isn't a consensus in the hobby world on what exactly to officially call this set. Should "Super Stars" be written as one word or two? Same question for "Pro Set". Hell, even on this blog, I refer to it by several different names, though I mostly keep it simple with just 1991 MusiCards.

TCDB lists it as 1991 Pro Set SuperStars MusiCards
COMC currently calls it 1991-92 ProSet Super Stars MusiCards
Beckett Marketplace calls it 1991-92 Superstars MusiCards
PSA dates it as 1991, though beyond that isn't always consistent.

See? Nobody can agree what exactly to call it. As for the year, the cards were released in 1991 and I think trying to squeeze "-92" on there like this is a basketball or hockey set is just dumb. Maybe Series 2 was released in early 1992, you suggest? Nope. Just check the "Instant Win" game inserts that came in every pack. The Series 1 contest (Grand Prize: a trip to London) ran from March 1, 1991 through December 31, 1991. The Series 2 contest (Grand Prize: a trip to Australia) ran from September 15, 1991 through October 1, 1992. Perhaps Pro Set tried to "rebrand" the cards as being "1991-92" when selling Series 2 boxes to dealers in late 1991 and early 1992, you know, in an effort to make them seem relevant longer, kinda like how comic books and magazines typically come out weeks before the official date printed on them just to try to extend the window to keep them on retail shelves. But yeah, these cards are from 1991 and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Anyways, sorry for that tangent. I do want to try to look into narrowing down timeframes with the set as we continue on. I'm curious, for example, which album or single or event mentioned was the most recent. It'd be interesting to try figuring out the deadline for the write-ups. If Series 1 was on shelves starting in or around March '91, they must have been finalized for the printers around late '90.. but how late are we talking here?

But back to the card at hand, this is the first error card we've come to in the set so far... well, not counting uncorrected errors. The other "move the logo to the other corner" variations we've seen have not featured a similar typo-correction as far as I can tell. I spent a solid minute comparing the #17 Jimmy Page variations, and the backs seem to be exactly the same. But at least with #43 here, Pro Set actually had a good reason for updating the card: fixing a dumb mistake. (I wonder how they caught it. Do you think Debbie herself complained? "Hey guys, my song was called 'Foolish Beat'! And by the way, that photo is copyrighted by Gibson Productions, 1991. Please make these updates at your earliest convenience.")

I need to quickly mention that as of drafting this post, TCDB lists a 3rd variation for #43: with the logo box moved to the bottom but no changes to the back. I'm 98% sure this is just a mix up caused by the person who originally uploaded the back photo to TCDB in 2013 not realizing they were different on the back so he reuploaded his other scan instead of scanning anew. Hey, I'd love if there were another rare MusiCard for me to track down, so please prove me wrong, but I just don't believe it. Similar to the #15 John Lennon fictional 3rd variation that used to be listed on TCDB when I started this blog but has since been correctly removed because it doesn't actually exist.

Next up..

Here's card #44. I'm going to go on record selecting this one as my favorite of Debbie's several MusiCards. You get a nice clear look at her, without a bad hair day to distract you. A little more of a smile would have been nice, but I'm not the type to make the mistake of telling a woman she should smile more. I hear that she's super cool with her fans and is a generous through-the-mail autograph signer, so I've been meaning to send her a copy of this card to sign one of these days. I think it'd look nice with a signature on it. And sure, I might not be able to name more than 3 or 4 Debbie Gibson songs off the top of my head, but I like her just fine.

Debbie Gibson - "Shake Your Love"

"Shake Your Love" is my favorite song of hers. Just a fun, booty-movin' pop song.

Wow, yet again, ProSet puts the more-appealing (IMHO) photo on the back. I wouldn't have minded seeing that fun shot on the front of a card instead of confined to a tiny thumbnail. Way better than the "dreads" photo, right?! Oh well, what's done is done.

The write-up talks about her childhood and is what I imagine is one of the very few trading cards to refer to its subject as "extraordinarily precocious".

Hey, we've now come to the finale of Debbie's run in the checklist. Card #45 here features a heavily makeuped cutie apparently posing with some sort of cycle. Makes me think of Dottie from Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. "I'm a loner, Dottie, a rebel." If I hadn't seen this photo before and you asked me to identify the person, I don't think I'd guess it was Debbie Gibson. Cute, though. I probably wouldn't use this card for a TTM autograph attempt due to all the dark area that might hide the ink (in addition to the fact that I don't think it looks much like her).

Haha, ProSet's streak of putting the, um, sultrier photo on the back comes to a screeching halt with this one! Looks like she's on her way to equestrian class or someshit. Say hi to Butterscotch for us, Debbie. What's with that hat? Dude, is she wearing her grampa's jacket? And that crouch doesn't look very comfortable.

The text opts for lists of her releases rather than a narrative blurb. Her days lingering near the top of the charts were starting to wane by the time this set was on shelves ["1991-92"], but she's kept on with her music career over the years. Here's the link to her Wikipedia entry if you wanna read more. Thanks to writing this post, I had a thought I didn't expect I'd ever have: "I want to listen to the new Debbie Gibson album." Yeah, her 10th album The Body Remembers came out just a month ago and I'm checking it out right now. It's some finely-crafted pop! Too bad it seems like she's gotten pigeonholed as a 80s teen star and couldn't quite remain relevant in the pop music scene. It's hard to do, I suppose. Not a lot of Beyonce-type careers for young singers. She went by Deborah for a while, but is back to Debbie now.

"Lost In Your Eyes" stands as her biggest song, so I'd better throw that into the post before we wrap up here. Personally, I'd be fine never hearing that song again.. not that it's bad, just a bit sappy and way overplayed by this point. It's gotten stuck in my head several times over the weekend I've been working on this post.

And back to the card, this one also has a promo version. Here they are side by side...

The difference here is the text in the logo box. The promo version (right) has a more Comic Sans type of font, but they decided on a no-nonsense font for the finished product. 

Flipping them over...

The back of the promo is different, as we can see above. The write up was not repeated on a base card, but calls to mind card #42, mentioning her debut single, while the back photo would appear on that dreaded card #43 (see what I did there?). Note the solid colors in the design were swapped. I think they should have kept it the way it was on the promo. The name is easier to read in lime green than hot pink.

There are 11 of these "no-number" promos: 10 artists and 1 header card (which is hard to find-- I'm still looking for the header, but I've got the others). This is the second such promo we've come to so far, the first being #24 Led Zeppelin back in the opening Legends subset. These unnumbered promos should be distinguished from the other promos that are numbered and feature an alternate design, but we'll take a look at those down the line.

She was not featured in the UK edition of the set despite 1989's Electric Youth reaching #8 on the UK charts, so this is a wrap on Debbie for the blog.... unless I end up with a TTM success to show off at some point.

WS1988 Gm1: Debbie Gibson performs national anthem

One fun fact to mention about her, here on this blog whose readers are mostly baseball card collectors, Debbie sang the national anthem for Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. Seriously?! Yep, the Gibson magic was in full effect on October 15, 1988, with Debbie's strong performance surely setting the stage for Kirk (no relation) to eventually come off the bench and hit his improbable home run off Dennis Eckersley.

Another choice fun fact about Debbie Gibson is that she made her film debut (uncredited) as a little kid playing the "birthday girl" in Ghostbusters in the scene where Rick Moranis' character is overtaken by the demon dog and gets possessed by Vinz Clortho.

Ok, that's enough for this long post. Thanks for reading and please consider yourself invited to comment below with any relevant thoughts to share. The next card on-deck is a "who?" situation for me, so I'm looking forward to digging into an unfamiliar group. Chances are that'll be short, but we'll also hit September's "This Month in 1991" segment, so that'll help fill up the post. Stay tuned.

Monday, August 30, 2021

#41 Dino (+ a busy August 1991)

Here's #41 in the 1991 MusiCards set. When I see this card featuring a smooth young dude in a bandana peering over his sunglasses, it makes me think of the guy who did that "Rico Suave" song. But no, that was Gerardo (who isn't in the US set, but has a MusiCard in the UK edition). Dino on the other hand is best remembered for his (That's the Way it Has to Be, Because That's the Way) "I Like It" song, as well as his (I'll Be Your) "Romeo" song.

Dino - "Romeo"

When old-timers hear the name Dino, they might first think of Dean Martin. That's probably the suave vibe Dean Esposito was going for when he decided on his stage name. But I think most of us probably think of the Flintstones' pet. I remember chuckling about that with my friends when Dino started getting airplay, though I admit I did kinda like both "I Like It" and "Romeo". 

Dino - "I Like It"

Dino released one more album after this card came out, 1993's The Way I Am, scoring another Top-40 hit with a spunky cover of "Ooh Child", the soft soul classic from 1970. After that, his singing career sputtered out and he focused on writing and producing, working with the likes of Sheena Easton. "Broken Promises", a song he wrote for singer Tonya Mitchell, reached #38 on the US Top 40 in 2001.

The back photo reminds me of a Zelda 2 poster I got from Nintendo Power magazine back in the day:

See? Throw some pointy ears on Dino in that back photo and you've got Link come to life.

Or maybe I'm just a weirdo. LOL. I attempted to do a Link drawing based off that poster as a kid (and think I still have it in storage somewhere), so it's stuck in the back of my brain.

I'm tempted to ramble about Zelda 2 for a while now, but that'll have to wait for another day. It's time for the 30-year rewind.

This Month in 1991

A cute pair of cuddly lynx kittens in a hollow log preside over August of 1991.

I'm totally confused what my actual summer vacation was in '91, because it seems like we've already seen at least at least a couple "back to school :( " days in the middle of this calendar. But regardless, looks like I packed in some fun before my summer came to an end.

August 2nd saw me add a new NES game to my video game collection with Hoops. I think that's the only basketball game I've ever played much. It's decent. Looks like I played through to the end a few days later-- pretty sure that says "Hoops Won" on 8/6-- though it's not really that kind of game,  more for one-offs. I remember lots of "pick up games" versus my buddy Doug. In later years, we'd also occasionally head down to the old middle school to shoot hoops on the outdoor courts after school hours or on the weekends. Neither of us were all that good, but it was a fun way to kill an hour or two. Even deep into my 20s, I'd sometimes clear my head shooting hoops alone. These days, I've got a box attached to a tree in the backyard that I try to throw pinecones into. It's not exactly a basketball hoop, but still a thrill when I make a deep "3-pointer". 

8/5 says "Sent for checklist".. I wanna say that was for a minor league card set checklist? Don't really remember.

Then that Friday 8/9, a few family members and I went to Balboa Park and then saw Doc Hollywood in the theater. The Michael J. Fox film had debuted the week prior. I liked it fine, though it weren't no Back to the Future. My lasting memory of the experience was when the audience is graced with a tasteful scene featuring the lovely female lead (Julie Warner) walking out of a body of water with her funbags out-- very intriguing to a teenage boy, but a bit awkward while sitting in a theater next to your mom.

Went to a ballgame at Jack Murphy that Sunday, 8/11/91. It was a good one, with my Padres breaking the team record with 5 homers on their way to roughing up the Reds 13-0. Bip Roberts went 4-4, going deep twice, cementing himself as one of my favorite players. Other Friar favorites I got to watch that day included Tony Gwynn, Fred McGriff, and Benito Santiago. Notable names I witnessed in action from the Away team included Barry Larkin, Chris Sabo, Billy Hatcher, and Paul O'Neill skippered by Lou Piniella, who probably wasn't thrilled with his squad's performance that afternoon.

Cincinnati's front office didn't forget the boppin' Bip gave their team, and after the season, in a black day for Padres fans, they traded jerk-ass Randy Myers to San Diego in exchange for the renowned Mr. Roberts. Man, such a dumb move by then-GM Joe McIlvaine.

But back to the calendar, on 8/13, I was buying more baseball-related stuff, though I can't recall the specifics today ("MLB" doesn't seem to be a video game I remember owning, so I'm not sure what it was; and I don't remember what I was ordering from Beckett, but probably a couple back issues). Then a couple days later I got the 1991 Score 100 Hottest Rookies box set I had sent away for. Frank Thomas was the big card there, but I liked that it had many lesser-known rookies too that I welcomed into my collection.

Haircut on the 21st. Around this time, I usually got my hair cut at the barbershop where family friend, the late, great Ken Driscoll worked. Shout out to Ken! Sort of like an unofficial godfather to me for much of my childhood. He was a good guy. Used to help organize ballgames for underprivileged Mexican youths and other generous stuff like that. A very positive personality though he dealt with a lot of painful issues and poor health. He passed away in the mid 90s and that was a major bummer. Rest in Peace, Ken.

Received whatever "MLB" was (another boxed card set, maybe? book?) on the 23rd. Then I acknowledged Cal Ripken, Jr's birthday on the 24th.. which seems funny to me because I don't recall Cal being among my top tier favorites growing up. Maybe this was around the time I pulled a rookie card of his from an old pack of 1982 Topps.. possibly my best pull ever.

Winding down the month, we saw City Slickers in the theater on Sunday the 25th (the film originally opened June 7, 1991, so this was likely near the end of its theatrical run). I don't have any strong memories from the experience, so there must not've been any nudity in the movie. Then it was back to school on the 26th.

That'll wrap us up for this post. Thanks for reading and please share in the comments if you've got any thoughts regarding Dino or whatever else. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

#40 Taylor Dayne (+ MusiCards master set update)

This is 40. Number 40 in the 1991 Pro Set MusiCards set, that is. Taylor Dayne is looking good here in a sepia shot that fills the photo area of the design nicely.

Flipping the card over reveals some background on Taylor's origins as a performer, name-checking Jacques Brel ("Carousel") and Stevie Wonder ("Mon Cherie Amour"). That's a cool looking picture on the back, one of the more "artsy" images we've seen in the set so far.

Taylor Dayne - "Tell It to My Heart"

These days Taylor Dayne is remembered with "Every Beat of My Heart" as her popular song, but I've always known her for 2 songs, with the other being "Tell It to My Heart". Ha, wait-- reverse that! Looks like "Tell It to My Heart" is the bigger song. It's far-and-away her top track according to Spotify, with over 124 million listens. Compare that to "With Every Beat of My Heart", which doesn't even make her top 5 list on Spotify, with only around 2 million listens. I remember hearing both a ton back when I listened to pop radio circa '87-91 and it's kinda blowing my mind that one is a much more popular song than the other today.

Oh hey, turns out the photo on the front of her MusiCard was originally used as the cover for the "With Every Beat of my Heart" single. (pic from eBay)

Taylor Dayne - "With Every Beat of My Heart"

Apart from those 2 songs-- both guilty pleasures of mine in the 80s pop area of my music collection-- I don't know much about her, so I'll go skim her Wikipedia entry.

Taylor's first two albums, Tell It to My Heart (1988) and Can't Fight Fate (1989), both went double platinum. 1993's Soul Dancing found a tougher reception in the post-Nevermind era, but still went to #2 in Australia. Naked Without You followed with little fanfare in 1998, and her latest LP to-date is 2008's Satisfied, though she's put out a few singles since. She still performs occasionally and competed on season 4 of The Masked Singer in 2020.

I'm listening to more of her stuff while working on this post... "Love Will Lead You Back" was her only #1 single in the US. Oh yeah, now I remember this ballad. It's just meh for me, though it does transport me back to riding in the car with my mom and the adult contemporary station on that played the crap out of this stuff when I was a kid. "I'll Always Love You" is another one of these from Taylor-- very familiar to me though I haven't heard it in decades. I like this one better. I appreciate a good sax solo. "Heart of Stone" is another good song I had forgotten about.

Please let me know if you've got any feelings either way to share about Taylor Dayne in the comments below.

My big COMC shipment included a few MusiCards for my attempt at a "master set" of the things. I needed to upgrade my reversed Lennon, but accidentally bought 2 of them, lol. So now I have 3 counting the scuffed one. Bo Diddley (1st card of Series 2) was another condition upgrade for me. The bottom row are all promos. I've now completed all the promo cards ...well, all that feature artists, not just text/ads. Some of these I scored on eBay in nice lots in the time between when I bought them on COMC and when I finally received them. So if anybody out there is working on a MusiCards master set, I've got several of the (relatively) rare promo cards available for trade, including the Madonna error, which is probably the most desirable of the promo cards to land, though I don't think I'd go as far as to throw around the "holy grail" term. (The holy grail of MusiCards has got to be the hologram, right?)

I also sorted my base MusiCards recently. Verified that I've got complete sets of Series 1, Series 2, the UK Edition, plus both series of the Yo! MTV Raps MusiCards. Always good to confirm.

I might put together a second set of Series 1 Super Stars with my dupes (and have plenty of triples too), and if I did that I'd be tempted to go after another set of Series 2, but that one's tougher. Maybe it's sadistic of me, but I'd kinda like to try building Series 2 from packs. Might have to keep an eye out for deals on a sealed box or two. I need a Series 2 box for my master set anyways, if'n I decide to include more than just cards. (I have hung onto empty boxes of Series 1 and the UK Edition, plus I've got a sealed box of Series 1 and an open but seemingly-full box of Yo! Series 2.) And I've got an ulterior motive that I'll get into another day.

But as for my master set of cards, I'm down to just dumb stuff that mostly got thrown away back then:
NNO Promo Pack Header
NNO Advert - Pro Set MusiCards Collector Files binder ad (from UK Edition)
NNO Borden's Promo Pack Header (Fairy God Dude poster offer)
NNO Diamond Comic Distributors promo card
NNO 10¢ Coupon - Pink Spots (from Series 2)

If I was going to the National this year, it's crap like this I'd be hoping to find. lol
Not that they keep me up at night, but the completist in me would love to track them down and be crowned the undisputed king musicard dork.

Anyways, now onto the thing where we take a quick look at my old calendar from 1991.

Rhinos enjoying a nice day.

Not a very eventful July for me 30 years ago. Back to school on the 1st, sadly. Looks like I bought a new video game on the 7th.. no doubt during a Sunday evening Target trip with my mom. I only vaguely remember the Mission: Impossible NES game today, but maybe I'll play it via emulation one of these days for old times' sake. The meaning behind the little boxes on the 5th and 11th is a mystery now lost to time. Looks like my grandfather visited at the end of the month. He and my grandmother moved out from Florida to be near us and my aunt in San Diego not too long after this. Perhaps he was in town checking out retirement homes.

Then an orthodontist appointment on the 31st and that's it. For what it's worth, I peeked ahead and August has more action. That's coming up in the next post.. featuring the MusiCard of a forgotten singer who shares a name with a cartoon dinosaur dog. So stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

#39 Cher (+ a gear shift for the blog)


Here's Cher's second card in the 1991 MusiCards set, #39. It's her last appearance in the US version, but she's also got a couple in the UK set. Kind of an awkward photo of Cher taking a knee with a hand on her belly. Does she have a tummy-ache? Showing off how slim her waist is? Or just striking a variation on that old Napoleon pose?

The back reveals her birth name and recaps her early career highlights. Actually, the birth name part isn't quite accurate, as she didn't pick up the "LaPierre" part until 1961 when her mother remarried. Note the extra space after Sarkisian.. wonder if that was copied/pasted in with an early word processor. LaPierre would have gone after Sarkisian, so maybe somebody moved it (erroneously) and forgot to clean up the extra space.

I didn't realize she was from El Centro, not all that far from my similarly-named hometown of El Cajon in East County San Diego. El Centro is about halfway to Arizona.

"Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves" was her first hit as a solo artist breaking away from Sonny Bono. I've been watching a thrown-together hour-long documentary that's streaming on Amazon Prime right now called Cher: Life in the Spotlight. I probably wouldn't go as far as recommending it-- It's just people talking about Cher plus some old clips; she wasn't involved personally-- but it was somewhat enlightening as to how she became who she is today. 

She had always had wanted to be an actress, but fell into music and became known for cheesy comedy of her TV variety shows. Mask (1985) finally got her some respect in that field, receiving a Golden Globe Award nomination for her performance. In the film, she clashes with her son (who suffers from a disfiguring bone disorder) over his baseball cards, going as far as tearing up a 1974 Topps card of Ron Cey.

How cool/funny would it be if Ron Cey got some revenge and ripped up one of Cher's musicards on camera? LOL

Anyways, the pinnacle of Cher's acting career probably came a couple years later in 1987, winning the Oscar for Best Actress for Moonstruck. Gotta tip your cap to her, pulling herself up from a rough childhood with a desire to be famous to become a world-renowned singer and actress.

Ok, now let's hit the "this month in 1991 for me" part of the post.

The old calendar I've managed to hang on to for 30 years.

My comments here seem to translate to:
6/1 "Got new bike" (Follow-up to buying it on 5/30 [per last month's calendar].. must've taken a few days to get it in stock.)
6/4 "Simpsons game bought" (This must've been Bart vs. the Space Mutants [NES, released April 25, 1991], a game I have a love/hate relationship with. Fun but also very frustrating. Played through it again just a year or two ago, relying on Game Genie codes because otherwise it's way too hard. Hell, even with the cheat codes, it's a tough one, especially the last couple levels.)
6/10 "Hair cut / new shoes" (No recollection of these, sorry. lol)
6/14 "Mickey Magic (?) finished" (At first I was thinking this was in reference to beating the Nintendo game Adventures in the Magic Kingdom, but I had just noted I beat that game a couple weeks earlier on 5/31. Oh wait! I bet that actually says "Mickey Mantle finished" which is in reference to a Mickey Mantle book I read, My Favorite Summer 1956.. one of the few non-schoolwork books I read back in the day-- hardcover, no less. As young baseball fan, I enjoyed learning about a legend of the game. When I returned to the hobby as an adult, I scored myself a few vintage Mantle cards and eventually a certified autograph, which I'm sure would've blown my mind back then.)

6/16 "Dinner at Judy's" (A family meal at my Aunt Judith's house on Sunday, probably for my grandfather's birthday that was coming up that week.)
6/20 "Dr. Fenn" (braces/orthodontist)
6/24 "Doug's off" (At first I thought this said "Drug's off" and I was like "Whaaa? Was I on drugs back then?", but pretty sure this references my best friend Doug being off school. Yeah, because I went to that weird private school for the first part of the year before we met back up at the same middle school for 8th grade later in the year.)

Ok, now as for the blog's gear shift, up to this point I've done a separate post for each card. But I've been averaging just a card or two per month, and at this rate I'll likely die of old age before I've covered the nearly 700 MusiCards I plan to blog about.

So, with your guys' permission, I think it'd be a good idea to start grouping multiples together. Not jumping around the checklist, but rather including consecutive cards of the same artist into one post. So I'd still be covering the set in order, just sometimes chunky style. For example, instead of two posts for Cher (the previous post and this post), I would probably have featured both cards in one post. 

Coming up soon are 4 consecutive Debbie Gibson cards; and while I like Debbie Gibson fine, I probably don't have all that much to say about her. And Vanilla Ice has 15 total MusiCards (counting the Yo! MTV Raps ones), so what am I supposed to say in 15 separate posts about him?! Those are just a couple examples, but there are a lot of multiples in the set, and combining them will help us move along more swiftly.

But this is all moot for the next post, as it'll cover the only MusiCard that Taylor Dayne ever got. 

Sunday, May 16, 2021

#38 Cher (+ a big month of May in 1991)

Here's Cher popping into a sunbeam at card #38 in the set. She appears again with the next card up and also has a couple cards in the UK edition.

My introduction to Cher was pretty much the "If I Could Turn Back Time" video on MTV. It was like, "Who's this [relatively] old lady showing off her buttcheeks to all those horny sailors?" But I did like the song.

Of course she'd been a popular entertainer for long before that, going back to her Sonny & Cher days. "I've Got You, Babe" has been an unavoidable song my whole life.

The back of the card states she's had four #1 singles. That seems to include "I Got You Babe" (1965), plus her solo tracks "Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves" (1971), "Half-Breed" (1973), "Dark Lady" (1974). Years after this card came out, she made a surprising return to the top of the charts scoring a fifth #1 with 1998's "Believe".

The super-catchy "Believe" was a worldwide smash, selling over 11 million copies. Cher became the oldest female solo artist to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart and the song became the highest-selling single by a solo female artist in the UK. The song is credited with kicking off the auto-tune trend and featured Cher reinventing her sound to an upbeat dance-pop style.

As for the final line of the card back's write-up, doesn't look like her perfume Uninhibited is still in production, but it was a success back in the day, earning about $15 million in its first year. She released a second fragrance in 2019 called Cher Eau de Couture.

We'll continue our Cher talk with the next post. Let me know if you've got any favorite Cher songs or memories in the comments.

Now for the self-centered series I've been doing on the blog for each month of 2021.

Time to take a look back 30 years and see what I was up to in May 1991.

You can tell I was big into baseball at the time, as I've noted the legendary events of 5/1/91 when Nolan Ryan tossed his 7th (and final) no-hitter and Rickey Henderson broke Lou Brock's all-time stolen base record. Man, what an exciting day that was! I was glued to ESPN.

Looks like I had a couple fun outings in May, with a trip to SeaWorld followed up the next week with a day at the beach. But I was stupid (and very pale) kid and sunbathed that day without any sunblock and I paid the price. The next few days were among my most uncomfortable of my life as I got sunburned to hell. Since that day, I've been one of those guys who almost always wears a shirt at the beach/pool and I give zero fucks if anyone thinks I'm a dork because of it. The sun and I have a shaky alliance. It allows for life on my planet but it's also out to kill me. I'm amazed I haven't had to deal with any skin cancer scares yet. I should probably find myself a dermatologist to start going to every year or two.

That beach day was a field trip with that weird private school I went to for 7th grade. The fact that the adults in the group didn't bother to maybe express concerns about the pasty white kid baking himself in the sun-- you know like be a voice of common sense to maybe cover up and/or be better about sunscreen-- goes to show what a shitshow of a "school" that was. But that bizarre chapter of my life came to a close on May 30th, my last day at A+ Academy, returning to public school after summer break that year.

Looks like I got a celebratory new bike on the last day of school. It was a really cool Mongoose that looked great and was a joy to ride, but tragically it got stolen out of my back patio one night a few months later in one of the most heartbreaking moments of my childhood.

Geez, this calendar page is digging up some bad memories for me! :( And Dr. Fenn (5/9) was my orthodontist, so that reminds me of the burden of having braces for a year and how terrible that whole experience was.

But for happier memories, well, it was the golden age of video games for me. While Nintendo was king, I also had a Sega Master System back then. On the same fateful beach day, I got Reggie Jackson Baseball for Sega, likely as a "reward" for the dreaded orthodontist appointment.

Reggie Jackson was my favorite player back then, with his birthday (5/18) being a red letter day in my world. He had been retired for a few years already, but was still among the best-known names of the game, with his celebrated role in Naked Gun helping keep him in the public eye even after his playing days were done. I remember his Baseball Heroes inserts in 1990 Upper Deck being a big deal in the hobby then, not even considering in the birth of the pack-inserted autograph card craze they ushered in that has eventually seen "hit" chasing grow so unwieldy that Target and Walmart won't even sell baseball cards anymore now for safety reasons. 

But back to Reggie's baseball video game, I barely remember it today. Out of the 3 baseball video games I remember playing most as a kid, I'd rank it in the middle with Roger Clemens' MVP Baseball being the worst and my favorite being Bases Loaded 2, which thanks to keeping this calendar, I know I beat for the first time back on 5/17/91. And it's a long game.. playing a full season of baseball games.. so it probably took me a few months. I'm pretty sure I led the Boston blue-guys all the way to a World Series victory.

I'm actually now in the middle of playing through Bases Loaded 2 again (via emulation on computer hooked up to the big living room tv), again picking the Boston blue-guys as my team for sentimental reasons. I know it probably wouldn't rank highly on any list of all-time best baseball video games, but it's what I grew up with and what I'm most familiar with. The game was originally released in Japan in 1988, but not in North America until early 1990, so it lined up with when I first got obsessed with baseball. Some quirks about the game include the crack of bat clearly sounding aluminum, and a few speech words (which was pretty cool at the time), with "Strike", "Ball", and "You're!" (which was apparently the closest they could come to "You're out!") That said, the game doesn't have great music and truth is I often play it muted and listen to music on the stereo instead.

When I was a kid, I'd rarely if ever save (write down the password) after a loss, though now as an adult, I'm playing through a season win-or-lose, though I probably win 8 or 9 times out of ten. (I'll admit there are occasional games where I turn it off midway through a losing effort because I'm not having any fun.) The last ballgame I played was a few days ago and man, it was a classic! The opposing team had a really tough pitcher and I was struggling. I had resigned myself for a loss and was just trying to hurry up the game to advance the schedule. But then I had a thrilling top of the 9th to comeback to a 1 run lead. And after a dicey bottom of the 9th where the bad guys had me on edge, I pulled off a couple defensive gems and sealed one of the most rewarding victories in my very long career of playing Bases Loaded 2!

Another fondly remembered Bases Loaded 2 victory is the one time as a kid I threw a no-hitter. It was a mercy-rule shortened game (if one team is 9+ runs ahead by the 6th inning, it's a called game, and I was having a good day at the plate)-- but still! The baseball league in my mind declared it an official no-hitter. It can be really tricky to play good defense in that game, so the accomplishment is as much about making plays in the field as it is for pitching, if not more. I was over the moon to have pulled off the no-no! I don't think I walked or hit anybody either, so it was probably a perfect game too, but I was just focused on the goose eggs on the scoreboard.

Anyways, I've played the game occasionally over the years, but I think my current campaign, begun July 2019, is only the second or maybe third time that I've played through a full season as opposed to just random exhibition games. I remember having lots of fun playing against my best friend Doug back in the day, too. I'll have to remember to challenge him to a game this summer for old time's sake now that he's living in my neck of the woods again. But I'll have to go easy on him since I'm in mid-season form and his skills are undoubtedly rusty at this point, though even as kids I recall being the victor in most of our faceoffs.

Other Nintendo happenings for me in May '91 were again beating Bionic Commando, Ducktales, and Adventures in the Magic Kingdom (a Disney game) in consecutive days to end the month. Funny enough, those games were all made by Capcom, a popular game designer company perhaps best known for the Mega Man and Street Fighter franchises. That Magic Kingdom game kinda sucked, but Ducktales and Bionic Commando are easily among the all-time best NES games if you ask me. In fact, I consider Bionic Commando my all-time favorite video game (or at least tied for the top spot with Maniac Mansion), and had planned to ramble about that game to fill up this post, but it seems I've already rambled enough about Reggie Jackson and Bases Loaded 2, so I'll have to save blathering on about Bionic Commando for another day.

Back with more Cher soon. Thanks for stopping by the blog!