Sunday, June 25, 2017

Man or Astro-Dome?

During my time in law school in Athens, the band Man or Astro-Man? played seemingly once a month. If you have never heard of them, they were/are a garage/surf rock band that formed in 1992 in Auburn, Alabama, and their shows are a thing to behold. Man or Astro-Man?'s music often sampled from old, long forgotten Sci Fi movies, and their stage shows would incorporate everything from a theremin to a Tesla coil along with clips from the movies running in the background.

I got to thinking about Man or Astro-Man? thanks to the fact that Bru a/k/a Marc from Remember the Astrodome sent me a package of cards in late May. Marc had to do some downsizing in his collection recently because, as you can see on his blog, Marc and his wife welcomed a new baby girl into their lives in late May.

Since I have never done a music post to accompany cards from Marc, I thought for about three seconds and MOAM? came to mind from 20 years ago almost immediately. That's how my brain works. So, let's get to the cards and the music.

In early 1996 and probably at the height of the whole 1990s Alternative music boom, an album called Schoolhouse Rock! Rocks was put out to benefit the Children's Defense Fund. The original "Schoolhouse Rocky" song was included, but thereafter a number of artists covered the great Schoolhouse Rocks! songs. For example, one of Blind Melon's last records while Shannon Hoon was alive was their cover of "Three Is a Magic Number."

On the album, Man or Astro-Man? covered "Interplanet Janet." The album really seemed to try to feature bands that were not necessarily well known at the time. Sure, you have Blind Melon and Better than Ezra and The Lemonheads, but you also had Buffalo Tom, Goodness, Pavement, Ween, and Skee-Lo.

Incidentally, I bought this CD back in 1996 and really enjoy it. If you ever watched the fantastic Schoolhouse Rocks! cartoons as a kid, you'd enjoy it too. 

Marc sent me a whole host of great Brewers cards from a number of different sets and years. These are some of the cards from the early and mid-1990s. 

I especially appreciate the Mariners Chris Bosio card because that is the kind of card I miss when putting together my want lists. Perhaps some day, when I have finished putting my want lists together completely, I'll go back and review all the photos from all the sets looking for cameos and "traded" cards like this one where the card issuer didn't try to repaint the player into his new uniform, as Topps almost always does.

Kenny Felder's Gold Topps card is in here as a reminder to everyone who watches drafts that not every player who is drafted makes it. Most don't, in fact. I feel like teams have gotten better at making first round selections count, but there are always guys who either provide high upside or who look good on paper and then don't pan out. The Brewers picked Felder 6 picks after the Yankees selected Derek Jeter and 11 picks before the Pirates selected Jason Kendall. 

Even so, Felder was not the biggest bust in the 1992 draft -- that was probably 3rd overall pick B.J. Wallace, who also never made it to the major leagues and was arrested for manufacturing methamphetamine in 2011. I can't find anything on how those charges played out, though I did find another arrest in 2013 for Amber McKenzie, the woman whom Wallace was arrested with, for drug possession. Sad things can happen when people fail spectacularly.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, MOAM? performed a cover of the "love theme" from Mystery Science Theater 3000. It would seem to be a natural crossover, after all -- MST3K's movies matched with MOAM?'s sound makes complete sense. As MOAM?'s Wikipedia entry notes, the band had MST3K's creator, Joel Hodgson, appear on stage at a show to sing the theme in 1996, and Joel's character on MST3K later claimed on show to have been a pyrotechnics roadie for the band. 

Some more recent vintage cards here. The Yount Perspectives goes right into my team collection, as does the Braun Fortune Teller. 

Mike Rivera is a guy I don't think I've ever even given a second thought about. Rivera spent 120 games over five different seasons on the Brewers bench (2006 to 2009 and again in 2011) and hit .261/.333/.421 -- not too bad, really, but he was behind Damian Miller (2006), Miller & Johnny Estrada (2007), and Jason Kendall (2008 & 2009) so he was never going to get much playing time even if (whisper it) he probably would have been a far better hitter than Kendall during those years.

Finally, the Yount Prizm gets highlighted here because Panini Prizm looks like a card idea that Panini designers came up with while eating psychedelic mushrooms and watching MST3K.

Man or Astro-Man? also supplied some music for Space Ghost Coast to Coast. This alternate theme featured in the clip above is a MOAM? creation. They also provided the show's closing credits. After he left the band in 1998, guitarist/singer Brian Causey a/k/a Star Crunch composed and performed the theme song for the Nickelodeon show The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron

Star Crunch? 

Yes. Like all good/weird concept bands, MOAM? members adopted stage personae with appropriate names. The main members of the band included Birdstuff (Brian Teasley), Star Crunch, Wizard (David Scholtz), and Coco the Electronic Monkey (Robert del Bueno). Other guitarists for the band included Dr. Deleto, Cap'n Zeno, and Dexter X. When Star Crunch left the band (he started his own album label in Athens in 1998), they plugged in other guitarists such as Trace Reading and Blazar the Probe Handler. 

The Brewers picked up Ray Durham for the 2008 stretch run, and he performed fairly well over those 41 games -- .280/.369/.477 over 122 plate appearances at second base is not bad at all. The Brewers picked him up in trade for a minor leaguer (Steve Hammond) and Darren Ford, who played in 33 games as a pinch runner/defensive replacement in 2010 and 2011 (16 plate appearances, four hits, 1 walk, 1 HBP, and 9 stolen bases in 15 attempts). I will always associate Durham with the Chicago White Sox and, to a lesser extent, the San Francisco Giants. This 2009 Topps card of his qualifies as his "sunset" card. He retired after the 2008 season.

I see the sticker of Adam Lind, and I am reminded that Adam Lind spent one season as a Brewer. When you turn over the roster in the way that the Brewers did, a lot of different players come and go in rapid succession. It can be somewhat jarring to see them in your team's uniform as the reminder of days gone by. Indeed, the Adam Lind year was only 2 years ago -- in 2015 -- but it seems like it was eons ago. 

To get a real feel for what MOAM? are really like, you need to watch a live show. I have no idea where the guy who posted this last year found this show -- it's a show from Tempe, Arizona, from 1996 -- but it is a good way to get a feel for the live stage act that MOAM? put on. Lots of strange voiceover clips, weird TV feeds, random motorcycle helmet costumes -- it's all there.

Along these lines, Man or Astro-Man?'s website at is well worth checking out. The website has a timeline that allows people to post MOAM-related events and the like, so I could see, for example, that I might have seen them play in Athens in 1996. I know I saw them play at least once with my roommates from my first year of law school. At that time, I found them really weird.

Now, I find them really weird.

To end on an appropriately weird note, let's look at some ProCards minor league cards for three former Brewer "prospects." Okay, Doug Henry panned out probably more than he could have ever been expected to pan out -- making 582 appearances in an 11 year career that didn't start in the major leagues until he was 27 years old.

Shon Ashley was drafted in the third round of the 1985 June Draft by the Brewers out of high school in Meridian, Idaho. He made it as high as noted hitters' paradise El Paso in Double-A in the Brewers system, but he stalled out there -- spending three years (1989-1991) in El Paso. 

His stats were pretty good, so it makes me wonder why the Brewers did not at least give him a shot at Triple-A in 1990. I mean, the outfielders in Denver in 1990 were Bill Moore, Darryel Walters, Mario Monico, Jim Olander, Mark Higgins, Matias Carrillo, retread Mickey Brantley...good God what a bunch of terrible crap. It makes no sense at all now why Ashley didn't at least get a shot. None at all. It appears that Ashley moved back to Idaho after his career based on this LinkedIn bio showing he owns Ashley Glass in Boise, Idaho.

Finally, Bo Dodson was a third-round draft pick in the June draft in 1989 out of Christian Brothers High School in Sacramento, California. Bo got as far as Triple-A with Milwaukee in 1995 but never made it to the major leagues. After 1995, he played in Boston's system for a couple of years, followed by one year with Rochester in the Baltimore Orioles farm system. 

He moved back home to Sacramento after that. I'm guessing that this is him on LinkedIn serving as the personnel director for All Phase Security, Inc., in Sacramento. His son Tanner plays at Cal and will be eligible for the 2018 draft. Tanner started as a pitcher as a freshman, but struggled and got moved to the outfield, where he showed himself to be a very good hitter as well.

My thanks go out to Bru for the great cards and for making my brain remind me of the existence of Man or Astro-Man?!


  1. Never heard of Man or Astro-Man?I... but I like it. Kinda reminds me of Devo meets rockabilly and punk. Interesting stuff.

  2. I will have to give them an extended listen. I always need more 90's alternative bands.