Tuesday, August 30, 2022

2022 Topps Heritage Blaster!

I know, I just opened one of these not too long ago. But, when Target gives you deals based on how much you spend, you stock up on whatever they happen to have in stock. Right?


I do still wonder why there's so much of this still around. Has the novelty worn off? It's still a fun, clean, classic design. So, let's give it another whirl.

How'd it go? Let's find out! 

Are you tired of seeing this box yet? It's really the best way to set up the post.

Still haven't saved one of the Xander-Devers packs unopened yet. Why am I incapable of keeping an unopened pack? Do I have a problem? On second thought, don't answer that.

Remember when the Red Sox were in the postseason? That was fun.

I like Matt Barnes as much as the next guy. But, this extreme close up seems just a bit too close up for my liking.

I'd say Hill was a pleasant surprise for the Sox this year...but not sure how much of it should have been a surprise.

A much more reasonable close up here of Verdugo showing off his jewelry. Actually a really nicely composed portrait. I wonder if this was posed, or a really nice grab by the photographer.

And there you have it. The Sox cars from the blaster. Nothing spectacular. Maybe that's why these boxes are still on the shelves?

How did yours go?

Friday, August 26, 2022

Abby Mansolillo Visits Section 36!

Photo: Daniel Gagnon
Section 36 had another visitor! 
Abby Mansolillo is passionate about trusting your gut, a talented speaker, and the current Miss Rhode Island. I was so excited that she was willing to visit with us to discuss those topics, and a few more. 

So, let's see what happens when Abby Mansolillo visits Section 36!

How did you celebrate winning the Miss Rhode Island crown?

I am so lucky to have an incredible support system behind me. When I won, I had family and a few close friends at my house for dinner (and cake, of course). After the competition however, I dove into studying for my law school finals, and began my year as Miss Rhode Island! 


What did you learn about yourself at the Miss Rhode Island Competition that will help you at Miss America?

Photo: Daniel Gagnon
When we compete for any title, it’s easy to say that we’ve learned specific skill sets that’ll help us at the national level. The Miss Rhode Island Organization has definitely helped me with my interview skills that I have already used to further my career goals, it helped re-affirm stage presence and commanding an audience, and of course, advocating for a cause and organization that is important to me. However, at Miss Rhode Island, I really focused on myself and how I would put forth the best version of “Abby Mansolillo” - I asked myself what I wanted to get out of the whole experience; and worried about my own performance. That’s absolutely a message I want other young women to hear: stay in your lane and worry about the work and the performance you put out to the world. Don’t look at anyone else - be so busy watering your own garden to see if someone else’s grass is greener. When we get past those mental obstacles; that someone else is more intelligent, more talented, or has a better gown, even, that’s when we’re really able to tap into our fullest potential. 


Is there a specific goal you’d like to accomplish during your time as Miss Rhode Island?

My biggest goal is to be the very first Miss America from Rhode Island! Our state has not had a top five placement at Miss America since Marilyn Cocozza Trillo, Miss Rhode Island 1967, who was Third - Runner Up at Miss America.  


I also hope to grow this organization. I think it’s important that we inform young women across the state about the benefits of becoming a candidate in the Miss Rhode Island Scholarship Organization - because that’s exactly what it is; a scholarship organization. Miss America is the largest scholarship provider for young women across the country; and women do not have to win the title to win scholarship money! It is also a great way to practice your interview skills that are helpful for career paths or for pursuing higher degrees, and of course, introduces young women to other like minded individuals who are devoted to bettering themselves and the community. 


Finally, I am so excited to grow my social impact initiative, “Trust Your Gut”. I am looking forward to partnering with health advocacy groups to achieve two goals; the first is to encourage patients to know that they have options when it comes to their health, and the importance of consulting doctors for multiple opinions to make informed decisions and to improve their quality of care! The second is to focus on future healthcare providers, and to encourage them to provide patients with the tools to make such informed decisions. Ultimately, improved communication between patents and healthcare providers means improved care. 


How did you select your social impact initiative, “Trust Your Gut”?

My Social Impact Initiative is “Trust Your Gut: Be Your Own Health Advocate”, where I plan to continue encouraging young adults, especially young women, to listen to their bodies, know their family history, and maintain open and honest communication with their healthcare providers. My mother received a cancer diagnosis in 2019, and had a cancerous GIST (Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor) removed. It is because of her advocacy and push for medical testing that she is cancer - free; but still is under supervision of Dana Farber Cancer Institute. In honor of her, I created “Trust Your Gut” to increase access to tools to improve care from their healthcare providers. 


As a talented singer, what do you enjoy about performing on stage?

I haven’t sang in a VERY long time! My talent for Miss Rhode Island was performing a dramatic monologue from the movie “On the Basis of Sex” about the story of United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I love performing and being onstage - I think it’s a really beautiful thing to break down the third wall between myself and the audience and connect in that intimate way. It’s an adrenaline rush that absolutely cannot be replicated; taking on the role that I chose is exciting because I want to do it justice and bring the character that I channel to life. 


What is your personal fitness routine?

I’ve been practicing yoga for about six years, and I love hot power yoga! I’ve tried many different workouts - spin, kickboxing, running, but I’ve stuck with yoga and I still enjoy going to the gym. I definitely believe that fitness is not just exercise - it’s also taking care of yourself from the inside out. It’s making sure I drink more water than I do coffee (which I admittedly need to work on), getting outside and going for a walk, and making sure that I’m fueled appropriately. I love food - I even have an Instagram account called “Abbyssnacks” where I post about different restaurants that I frequent - and I have worked with a nutritionist since I was in high school!  


You’re currently pursuing a law degree at Roger Williams University School of Law. What drew you to that field?

My mother went to law school, graduating from Southern New England School of Law (which is now UMass Dartmouth), and my grandfather (her father), Louis V. Jackvony, was an attorney in Rhode Island for many years. It was certainly their influence, but my mom knew I had to come to it on my own; and I did! 


I think people forget that by signing up to be an attorney, you are signing up to be a public servant. You are there to help those who are in need of legal assistance, and often, to represent your state’s legal system. I am a summer legal intern at the Department of the Attorney General in Rhode Island, in the Narcotics Division and my ultimate goal is to become the second female Attorney General of Rhode Island. Being there has taught me the importance of public service, keeping our state and our citizens safe, and the significance of maintaining the integrity of the legal field. 


If you had an extra ticket to see the Red Sox play at Fenway, who would you take with you? Why?

Definitely my dad! I remember him watching the Boston Red Sox play the Yankees when I was a little girl.  


Is there a feature or activity at a baseball game that you’d especially like to experience?

My family will totally make fun of me because my throw is sub-par at best; but it would be SO much fun to throw the first pitch of the game! I just may need some help; are there practice throws? 


Oh, I imagine she could get a practice toss or two in there! 

As always, I want to thank Abby for visiting with us, and for sending along the pictures to go with the interview.

As Abby continues her time as Miss Rhode Island, I encourage you to check out her title's website and Instagram. You should also visit the Instagram for her SII. And, why not check out her snacks Instagram too! They're great ways to keep track of everything she has going on! 

I also want to wish her the best of luck when she competes for the Miss America crown this winter. It would be wonderful to have another Section 36 visitor wear that crown!

Thanks again Abby, and good luck!

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

2022 Bowman Blaster!

Doesn't look like I've opened one of these yet. Or, at least, I haven't told you about it. Bowman is always interesting because it's really something you're opening to put away for a bit. Sure, there are some current players you want to see. But, most of the cars are people you've never heard of. At least it's still fun to open packs. I certainly hope you agree.

Let's see how this one went!

As always, here's the box.

And the packs.

Like I said, there are some current stars available! Typical Bowman design with too much going one, but still almost identical to every other Bowman design.

A nice second year Dalbec.

Another veteran star. I like this picture. It's tightly cropped, but you can still see all the important parts of the action. I probably don't need the entire bat anyway.

And one of the rookies.

OK. So, the Bowman stayed pretty true to other blasters. Nobody in A ball. Nobody five years away from maybe hopefully playing in boston. Every card was of a real-life major leaguer. Not a bad box at all.

What did you think?

Friday, August 19, 2022

Heather Renner Visits Section 36!

Section 36 had another visitor! 
Heather Renner is passionate about breaking the fourth wall, a talented singer, and the current Miss Nevada. I was thrilled that she was willing to visit with us to discuss those topics, and a few more. 

So, let's see what happens when Heather Renner visits Section 36!

How did you celebrate winning the Miss Nevada crown?

After the stage portion of competition had concluded (and after we had wrapped up taking pictures with all my favorite people), the Miss Nevada board threw myself and my darling teen, Megan, an amazing party. Many of the Forever Miss Nevadas were in attendance, and I was overjoyed to start asking them all about their Miss America experiences so I know what to expect! 

The next morning, we had breakfast with the judges where I had the opportunity to thank them for changing my life. I then probably went home and ate ice cream with my mom! 

What is something that Macie Tuell did as Miss Nevada that you would like to emulate or expand upon?

I have looked up to Macie since the very beginning of my journey in the Miss America Organization. I had the pleasure of competing with her my very first year at state competition, in 2014. Macie has been an incredible advocate for those with Alzheimer’s and an role model to all Nevadans for her tenacity and humor. 

What part of the upcoming Miss America competition are you most excited about?

I can’t wait for the talent event! Being able to showcase my opera artistry is always a pleasure. Through my work with my performing arts-based Social Impact Initiative, I have learned that kids secretly love opera! It’s so important to make classical singing accessible through a high-energy performance, as well as offering translations into English so American audiences can actually connect to the material. I believe that most people who don’t like classical vocal music just haven’t found the right performer yet!! And it is so exciting to think that I could be that performer for the Miss America audience. 

How did you select your social impact initiative, “Breaking the Fourth Wall”?

When I started my journey in theater, I was incredibly shy. I didn’t know if I had anything valuable to say, so I mostly kept quiet. Theater gave me an accepting environment where I could start to break out of my shell. Speaking in front of large groups became easier, I found a strengthened sense of self-worth, and I began to live more positively and consciously. Teaching kids to tap into their creativity helps them understand that they can be anything they want to be: if they want to be more confident, well-spoken, or kind, they can make up a character with those qualities and “act” as that character until those qualities become second-nature. Our kids need these skills now more than ever because of the social isolation they experienced during virtual learning; I am so happy to help young Nevadans break out of their shells. That’s the power of performing! 

As a talented singer, what do you enjoy most about performing your talent on stage?

The aria I will be performing, “Mein Herr Marquis” is very comedic. Most of the trills and runs in the song are written as laughter, so I can really ham it up. I want the audience to laugh along with me, and they usually do!! 

Which role in a Broadway musical would you most want to play?

Carlotta from “Phantom of the Opera” is a dream role of mine. She has these fabulous coloratura songs that fit my voice perfectly, has to do minimal amounts of dancing, and gets to wear ornate gowns the whole show. What else could you ask for?! 

“Phantom” was the musical that made me realize I loved musical theater. It was also the reason I started classical vocal training! 

How would you complete the sentence, “I get great satisfaction when…”?

…when I am at the gym. I can now do three consecutive pull-ups, which might not sound like much, but that would have been unfathomable a year ago. Seeing the improvement in my muscles has made me feel so powerful and confident! 

If you had an extra ticket to Reno Aces baseball game, who would you take with you? Why?

I would definitely choose my best friend, Ethan! We grew up together in Reno, so I always see him when I am in town. There’s no one I would rather spend the game with than him. Although… I think both of us would be more interested in the snacks than the game itself! 

Is there a feature or activity at a baseball game that you’d especially like to experience?

Hmm… well I have been very lucky to sing the national anthem at games in the past, so I don’t know what new experiences I’m missing out on! Perhaps a cotton candy eating contest would be up my alley… I would definitely win!


That would be a fun contest! 

As always, I want to thank Heather for visiting with us, and for sending along the pictures to go with the interview.

As Heather continues her time as Miss Nevada, I encourage you to check out her title's website and Instagram. You can also be sure to follow her personal InstagramThey're great ways to keep track of everything she has going on! 

I also want to wish her the best of luck when she competes for the Miss America crown this winter. It would be wonderful to have another Section 36 visitor wear that crown!

Thanks again Heather, and good luck!

Monday, August 15, 2022

2022 Topps Series One Blaster!

Are these still everywhere, or have they finally been replaced with mass quantities of series two? Either way, they're fun blasters to open. I certainly hope you agree.

Let's see how this one went!

You know the box by now...

And, even what the packs look like...

Here's a pretty basic Connor Wong RC. I like the red uniform tops. A little more interesting than the solid white.

Looks good on Jarren Duran's RC as well. Wish he looked as good in the field. Oh well.

I do NOT like the yellow tops. I don't care if people think they're lucky. Just too much yellow.

I like the "pre-bath" aspect of this shot. You can just sense them waiting for the perfect time to act. 

See? The white on white just seems like too much. Even with the red arms.

Or, red arms and red legs? What a shot this is.

And there you have it. The best of the bunch.

How did your blaster go?

Friday, August 12, 2022

Alexia Roberts Visits Section 36!

Section 36 had another visitor! 
Alexia Roberts is passionate about ending human trafficking, a talented performing artist, and the current Miss Red Rock. I was so excited that she wanted to visit with us to discuss those topics, and a few more.

So, let's see what happens when Alexia Roberts visits Section 36!

How did you celebrate winning the Miss Red Rock crown?

When I obtained my title back in February, I immediately started working on my action plan for the year. My mom and I went straight to Victoria Claires and picked out several outfits for a debut photoshoot. Some of the pictures from the photoshoot were published in Dreamy Magazine. 

What is your strongest memory from the recent Miss Nevada competition?

Night 1 of the competition was very vivid for me. After my

social impact pitch, I was asked a question about diversity in the Miss America Organization. I mentioned how seeing Caressa Cameron as a young girl inspired me during a time when I was actively being bullied for being African American. I also mentioned how Emma Broyles making history as the first Korean American Miss America will have the same impact on another young girl. I remember seeing the audience cheering and feeling so grateful that I had a chance to share my story and my love for the Miss America organization on stage.  I also got to talk to four former Miss Nevada’s after the awards ceremony, so it was truly an incredible night.


Is there a specific goal you’d like to accomplish during your time as Miss Red Rock?  

I aimed to speak to 100 people about human trafficking and coercion during my year of service. The only way to spark prevention is through education the community.  I recently spoke at the African American student ‘Overachievers’ event at UNLV where I was able to talk about some of the warning signs. I have also worked with several human trafficking reform organizations in Las Vegas such as ‘Be-a-shero.” I have already agreed to interview with another human trafficking social media page later this year and I’m happy to say that I have nearly reached this goal! 


How did you select your social impact initiative, “ThehealthofourHumanity”?

I was 16 when I was waiting for my mom to pick me up from a mall. Later, I was approached by a stranger who asked me strand of random questions and then asked me if I needed a ride to a destination that was only a crosswalk away. I declined and found out a year later from a girl I knew at my local dance academy that her friend was nearly put into a white van at the same complex. I have worked to spread awareness about the current scams that traffickers are using through social media and community service work. It’s been two years since I created my SII, and It’s been such a rewarding experience to talk to so many young women who have survived abuse and trafficking. One of my favorite stories was from a freed woman who told me she created her own ministry and wrote a book about her journey to find peace.


As a talented performing artist, what do you enjoy most about sharing your talent on stage?

My favorite part of onstage performances is getting to see the immediate response from  audience. I played Queen Margaret from the Shakespearean play King Henry. My performance was inspired by Angelica Houston from the film “Ever After.” She was cruel to her stepdaughter (Drew Barrymore) out of jealously which is one of the leading reasons Queen Margaret is seething during the monologue. I enjoyed being able to travel back in time and transform myself into a completely different character. I was very grateful to hear a lot of positive feedback from other people. 


You were able to appear in a couple episodes of “Two Degrees” on Brick TV. What was that experience like?

I filmed in Los Angeles back in September and I worked alongside Vanessa Estelle Williams (New Jack City) Miguel A Nunez (The Family Business) and Tico Wells (The Five Heartbeats ) The premiere was at a cinema in Los Angeles, and it was the first time I saw my face on the big screen! 

If you could be a Disney character for a week, who would you choose? Why?

This is a difficult question, because I find myself relating with so many childhood favorites! However, I’d like to be Jim Hawkins from “Treasure Planet.” He is a thrill-seeking adventurer from a small town. Throughout the film, he goes through a self-transformation and discovers that there is more inside of himself than searching for riches and fame. Growing up in a small town in Kentucky, I found myself relating with Jim. Sometimes we can become so wrapped up in our objectives, that we forget how short life is and that we need to find little ways to enjoy the blessings inside of every new day.  I also relate because I love to travel and haven’t lost my own sense of adventure. 


If you had an extra ticket to a Las Vegas Aviators baseball game, who would you take with you? Why? 

My older brother used to play baseball along with other sports in high school, so I’d take him! I would need someone who would be able to explain in detail what is going on during the game. I also know that I’d have a lot of fun with him because he’s one of my best friends. 


Is there a feature or activity at a baseball game that you’d especially like to experience?

I’ve always wanted to make the first official pitch in a game. That has always been the most exciting part for me to watch. I’ll have to get someone to teach me one day so I can take this off my bucket list!

That does sound like fun! 

As always, I want to thank Alexia for visiting with us, and for sending along the pictures to go with the interview.

As Alexia continues her time as Miss Red Rock, I encourage you to check out her title's Instagram, as well as the one for her SIIThey're great ways to keep track of everything she has going on! 

Thanks again Alexia, and good luck!

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