Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Highly Arbitrary and Completely Subjective

I have gotten cards on numerous occasions from Brian at Highly Subjective and Completely Arbitrary. Weirdly enough, despite my penchant for music posts, I have never done a Minneapolis music post to thank Brian for cards. 

First things first -- this post will not contain any Prince songs. Even in death, the Purple One and his lawyers kept nearly all of his music off the internet, and any music on the net gets removed very quickly. 

So, some of you may wonder what is left once you take the Prince out of the equation. The answer: a TON. Perhaps it's the need to be indoors all the time, but Minneapolis has produced many, many top bands. 

Like, say, this one:

Semisonic was a great alt-rock/power pop band from the late 1990s from Minneapolis. Their one big hit was this song, "Closing Time," which was apparently written by Dan Wilson about the birth of his second child and not about a bar's closing time. Weird. 

Wilson is now known almost as much or more for producing Adele's album 21, which won a Grammy for Album of the Year in 2012.

To go with this big 1990s hit are three big 1990s cards. With each passing day of seeing Topps caring less and less about Brewers fans and me looking for ways to get reinvigorated about collecting in the face of this, I find myself actually thinking that cards from the 1990s are cooler and better than what we have now. Yes, card companies had parallels and inserts, but they didn't swallow up the main set. The base cards in the 1990s were still collectible and companies tried hard to make them interesting as opposed to being an excuse to make 70 different versions of the same damn card.

It was a simpler time. It was a better time because there was competition. And, it was a worse time because some cards had to carry warnings that kids with epilepsy should not buy the cards thanks to the flashy mirrored stuff on them -- like these three cards.

I'm cheating a little bit here because Hüsker Dü is actually from St. Paul rather than Minneapolis, but it's my blog so I'm cheating. Hüsker Dü featured noted alternative rocker and recluse Bob Mould as its singer. Mould was a freshman at Macalester College when he got the band together, and the group formed because Mould and drummer Grant Hart bonded over a shared love of the Ramones.

They got the name of the band from a board game of the same name that means "Do you Remember?" in both Dutch and Norwegian. They gigged around Minneapolis for a while and became hardcore punkers -- attracting the attention of the Dead Kennedys Jello Biafra, who then signed them for his label Alternative Tentacles.

Baseball these days can be a cruel business. Even though Chris Carter tied for the National League lead in home runs in 2016, the Brewers chose to non-tender him. The move makes a ton of sense in many respects: the team tried to trade him, designated him for assignment, tried trading him again, and then signed Eric Thames out of the Korean league for about half or less what Carter would have made. Carter is going to land on his feet somewhere, but it is a strange thing to see a guy with 41 homers cut.

Nelson and Broxton are still Brewers as of this writing. I feel like I need to say that about everyone on the roster with Slingin' David Stearns as the GM. 

As I think about it, it really makes sense that Minneapolis/St. Paul would churn out incredible music -- especially alternative music. You have a huge city that is cold -- turning people slightly off kilter. Add in a major university with tens of thousands of students who need entertainment. Throw in the artistry and imagination that universities tend to draw as well, and you have the recipe for all kinds of great stuff.

Like The Replacements, who were sort of an early incarnation of a cross between grunge and emo. They were very heart-on-sleeve -- as "I'll Be You" shows. Westerberg went solo after the band broke up and wrote a couple of songs for the 1992 Cameron Crowe movie Singles -- the biggest one probably being "Dyslexic Heart."

Both of these cards are from the 2016 Topps Update set. It's Lucroy's swansong card, essentially, as a Brewer player thanks to his appearance as an All-Star. The Boyer is one of those foil parallel things that scan nearly indistinguishably from the base cards. 

As this year has gone by, this design has grown on me like a weird mold growing on cheddar cheese. It's not attractive. It's kind of greenish. You know it is something you probably should just throw out. Eventually, someone else probably will throw them out. No one will miss it, and once you realize it's gone, you end up buying another.

I am very surprised that Information Society is from Minneapolis. They just felt and sounded so damn British. Maybe it was just that I was listening to a lot of Depeche Mode in 1988 when this song, "What's on Your Mind (Pure Energy)" came out. A lot of folks call it "pure energy" only -- and what with Leonard Nimoy saying that phrase over and over, why not?

Lead singer Kurt Harland has scored numerous video games outside of his work with Information Society. I don't know any of the games, but he worked with Crystal Dynamics and Electronic Arts.

I have yet to catalog all of the cards I need from insert sets from all the years that Topps has issued them. Eventually I will. Maybe I will. Hell, I don't know. Maybe I never will. I just know that I have not seen this Record Breakers card before. At least I don't think I have.

Lyle Overbay. Yup. That's him. Good guy. At Wrigley. Looking confused as to why anyone wanted to take his photo. 

Good guy though. Smashing bloke.

No, I have no idea where that line of thinking came from either. Just went with it.

Some people think that Courtney Love was in the band Babes In Toyland. In a March 2015 interview, the band confirmed that Love was never in the band. As drummer Lori Barbero stated, "[Love] lived in my house, and one time I think when we were rehearsing she came down and probably picked up something and tried to play and we were just like, 'get out of here.'"

Babes in Toyland never got as big as Hole did, though you can definitely see why people think the two are related outside of the whole coincidence of Love living with the band's drummer. Babes in Toyland had much more of an impact in the UK thanks to John Peel's love for the band. When Peel loved your band, you got known. Seriously, just find anything as a "Peel session" on whatever music streaming source/iTunes/YouTube and you will hear fantastic music. 

Michael Ratterree never had a chance, really. He was a 10th round pick in 2013 out of Rice University. As a 22-year-old when drafted, he had to show a lot quickly. He did play very well in Helena in the Pioneer League -- but he was old for the league so he should have destroyed it. Then, he moved up to the Midwest league and, for a brief stint, Double-A Huntsville in 2014. It did not go well -- .228/.344/.442 slashline. 

It went even worse in 2015. As a 24-year-old in the Florida State League, he slashed .150/.260/.221 in 282 plate appearances and, then, retired with a broken hamate bone problem in his hand. He's now a construction superintendent in Houston and he is a 3rd degree connection for me on LinkedIn. Hey Michael, if you ever find that you need a good construction lawyer, you know how to find me here. 

Many thanks go out to Brian for these cards.


  1. Nice cards, nice post. Mind fairly blown about Information Society. They did sound and seem British. Hmmm. Thanks!

  2. Awesome trip down memory lane - I love the Minneapolis sound!

  3. Bob Mould is a god and should be honored as such. Hüsker Dü, Sugar and his solo work are genius.

  4. I must say, Fleer made a lovely photo choice with that Overbay. The Wrigley scoreboard makes an excellent backdrop for a baseball card; of course, I might be a tad biased.

    Great stuff from Brian!