Introducing a new feature here at https://www.briansden69.com, the Newsroom. Since there’s going to (hopefully) be a lot going on in my life soon, I think this is a good way to kind of cover a lot of the stories I may not get the chance to talk about, particularly in the sports world. I’m thinking about doing these a few times a week. Let me know your thoughts- good, bad, never do it again? Either way, there’s some good stuff coming up in the near future.
Wow. As of today, it’s officially been a full year since I started The Brian’s Den. I know, I know. Congratulations to me and all that. Hard to believe it’s been 365 days since, a day after George Michael’s death, I decided to start this website. There’s been a lot of ups and a couple downs, but hopefully it was never boring. The world takeover hasn’t quite happened yet, but I still appreciate everyone who comes here to waste a few minutes every day. You’re all part of the the most exclusive club in the world, so don’t be afraid to puff out your chest a little bit and act like you’re better than everyone. You read the most educational website in the world, after all.
Now, were I a true professional, I’d have something special planned for my one year anniversary. Unfortunately, I’m not, so I don’t. So instead of forcing some content to materialize that undoubtedly won’t be good, I figured I’d just run back some posts that I know are good. That’s right, it’s the Official Brian’s Den clip show!
Can’t go too long without mentioning my (sort of) signature series, Burning Questions
The Food Takes
The Best #sports Talk
The Special Occasions
So, what’s your favorite post? Did it show up here? Or do I have so many good ones that I overlooked some? What was my worst one (trick question, of course)? Let me know what you liked and would like to see more of. It was a good year one, and hopefully year two will be a big one.
As many of you certainly know by now, we’re smack dab in the middle of Christmas SZN, which means it’s prime time for Christmas music. There’s a lot of great Christmas music out there, and, if you’re somehow new to the genre, it can be a little overwhelming. The market is pretty darn saturated (it’s still one of my biggest dreams to record a Christmas album. That’s how I’ll know I’ve made it. Just imagine the cover of Brian’s Den Home for the Holidays), and it’s very easy to go down the wrong path. Luckily, I’m a bit of a Christmas music expert, and, in the spirit of the season, I’ll gladly give my two cents on what kind of Christmas music you should be listening to. Now, you can go anywhere on the Internet and find Christmas album rankings, and all of them will have the same five ones and it’ll just be the most famous ones and all that. But here’s a little tip you can only get here: Kelly Clarkson’s Wrapped in Red is the greatest Christmas album of the last 33 years. Why 33 years? Well, 33 years ago, this was released:
Enough said. With some notable exceptions, the majority of Christmas music was written before “Last Christmas” came out. So, for the most part, it was an even playing field for everyone who released a Christmas album afterwards, unless they felt like experimenting and releasing a new song. Some of these new songs worked. Most don’t. So, in the interest of creating the biggest pool from which to draw inspiration, only albums released after 1984 should be considered for the true connoisseur. Sure, there are some high quality pre-Wham! Christmas albums, but if half the songs you know and love haven’t even been written yet, what’s the point? I’d feel like I was cheating you, Christmas music neophyte, if I suggested a Johnny Mathis album that didn’t have a cover of “Santa Baby” included. Feel free to listen and enjoy, but some of the older albums have a much purer, more concentrated Christmas feel to them. Most of the time, only the more seasoned Christmas music listeners can handle the hopeful, more innocent, less cynical sounds of Bing Crosby and the like. We all know better than to feel optimistic about stuff these days, right? Every day was sunshine and rainbows for the folks in the 50s, and their Christmas music reflects that. So, modern=better.
I know what you’re thinking. “There must be a million Christmas albums released since 1984. What makes Kelly Clarkson’s the best?” Well, I’ll get to that shortly, but first I need to give out some honorable mentions, because there’s a lot of good Christmas albums out there. Two things to remember: 1. This is albums, not songs. I’m sorry I didn’t touch on your favorite song even though it’s really popular. That just means the rest of the album stunk. 2. This is non-religious only. There’s some hot, hot religious-only albums out there, but I figured I’d stick with the mainstream, mall soundtrack fare (for posterity’s sake, my top five religious Christmas songs: 1. O Holy Night 2. Oh Come, All Ye Faithful 3. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing 4. Angels We Have Heard On High 5. The First Noel). Most Christmas albums worth their salt have at least one religious song, anyway, so the singer can show off their range. It goes without saying, but if you like “Dominick the Donkey,” “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas,” “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” or “Do They Know It’s Christmas” you should be euthanized.
Mariah Carey-Merry Christmas
Need to give a shoutout to Mariah for the unquestioned GOAT secular Christmas song. “All I Want for Christmas is You” is somehow both the most overplayed song of all time and the one song in the world that never gets old. It’s a musical triumph. I’ll be totally honest, I’ve never listened to the rest of the album, so it could either be horrible or I could have picked the wrong album to base this whole post around. I’m gonna assume it’s just okay outside AIWFCIY, so I think it’s fine putting it here.
Leona Lewis- Christmas, with Love
Man, I thought Leona Lewis had next in 2007. She’s got some serious pipes and I have no idea why she’s not the biggest star in the world now. Oh, well, at least she released a great Christmas album. Three original songs seems like a little much when two of them aren’t great (“One More Sleep” is my jam), but the rest of it is pure heat to warm up even the coldest of winter nights.
*NSYNC- Home for Christmas
If you don’t like “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” you can go ahead and stop reading this right now.
Michael Bublé- Christmas
I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I didn’t mention the unofficial voice of Christmas, Michael Bublé. Somehow he only has one Christmas album despite the fact that you can find a Bublé cover of essentially every Christmas song ever made somewhere online. Pretty sure 90% of the Bub-god’s salary is made in late-November and December, and for good reason. This is a classy album that perfectly serves as inoffensive background music, but definitely lacks the kind of spiciness other albums have.
Various Artists- A Very Special Christmas 2
This kind of represents the entire Very Special Christmas franchise. Despite my hatred of of “Do They Know It’s Christmas,” I’m a sucker for star-studded ensembles. Very Special Christmas is essentially just a Christmas music greatest hits album, so it’s kind of cheating a little bit, but it’s still great. Very Special Christmas 1 is disqualified for having “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” on it, but 3 is also excellent.
Michael Bolton- This is the Time
Michael Bolton is a god who came to Earth to give soulful, sultry ballads to the masses.
Various Artists- Christmas on Death Row
Just the album cover alone gets this a mention.
NewSong- Sheltering Tree
Alright, enough of the also-rans. Let’s get to the reason you’re here: Kelly Clarkson Wrapped in Red. What sets it apart? Why is it so great? Well, for starters, it’s a prime time name. Wrapped in Red just screams Christmas. It’s a miracle it hadn’t been taken before 2013. Next, the album cover is perfect (see top of page): simple, elegant, festive. That’s all you need. The back cover brings it too:
Before purchasing this Christmas album, I wasn’t really in the spirit of things, but now that I’ve seen this picture of Kelly Clarkson playfully blowing snow in my face, I’m definitely ready for Santa to come down my chimney! But what really matters is the music, and folks, it doesn’t disappoint. Full disclosure: I’m a huge Kelly Clarkson fan and am almost definitely overrating this album, but I trust my own objectivity to know good music when I hear it. And there’s a lot of good music here. The title song isn’t great, which, admittedly, kind of throws a wrench in things, but it quickly picks up. “Underneath the Tree” is criminally underrated. Sure, it’s only four years old, but it has to be put in the same category as the modern classics.
So good. Then, if your spirits are riding too high, you can slow things down with another good original, “Winter Dreams.”
Just makes me want to cuddle up with that special someone (theoretically, of course). I like my Christmas songs to either get my toes tappin’ or to be slow and a little melancholy-but-not-really-since-everything’s-happy-during-Christmas. Wrapped in Red does that throughout. When it comes to covering the classics, it’s really just about song selection. At this level, everyone can sing, so as long as you just pick good songs and don’t try to “make them your own” (see: Christina Aguilera “O Holy Night”) you should be good. “White Christmas,” “Silent Night,” Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” and “Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel” are all elite Christmas songs. Kelly Clarkson could smoke a hundred packs a day, never sleep, and drink a gallon of coffee a day for the next year and still have a dominant voice, so when she gets ahold of your favorite Christmas hits good things happen. No, not every song is perfect. But the bad songs are like 6s or 7s out of 10. Still decent, and it just makes the great ones stand out more. I think I’ve made a pretty convincing argument, but if you still don’t believe me, go and sit by your Christmas tree. I don’t care what you do. Read, watch TV, just look at your phone, whatever. Just as long you put this album on. If the combination of Kelly Clarkson and Christmas trees doesn’t get you in the most festive mood you’ve ever been in, you’re a bigger grinch than the Grinch himself. Wrapped in Red is the perfect Christmas album. Kelly Clarkson: GOAT of American Idol, and now, GOAT of Winter.
I’m a big fast food guy. Everyone knows it. If I had the finances and the willpower to ever actually exercise (and if I wasn’t such a good cook), I’d be fine eating fast food every day. But there’s been a recent, troubling trend that I can’t get behind. Ever since the fiasco that was the Szechuan Sauce release, every fast food place is scrambling to come out with their own signature, surely limited edition sauce that people will be pining for 20 years from now. And frankly, it’s making my smh every time I see a new one. I’m constantly amazed how such incompetent people wind up in prominent marketing positions. Every new sauce is just a liquid version of the dictionary definition of signature sauce. None are memorable, none are all that good, and they’re all just passing around the same sauces and changing one ingredient.
McDonald’s is, by far, the biggest offender. Not satisfied with causing a national stir with their last signature sauce and HAVING THE UR-SIGNATURE SAUCE ON THEIR ARSENAL (Mac Sauce), decided to trot out yet another “signature sauce” to pair with their new chicken
selects tenders, aptly named Signature Sauce.
It’s okay. McDonald’s claims it takes inspiration from Mac Sauce and lists the key flavors as sweet and tangy. Remember that description. Because, not to be outdone, Wendy’s release their own chicken tenders (which are better than McDonald’s, imo) with their own “signature” dipping sauce, S’Awesome Sauce (someone get me in a fast food boardroom, ASAP) like a week later.
Boy, that sauce sure looks familiar. Where have I seen it before? A real head-scratcher. Wonder what Wendy’s official description of the sauce is? “Tangy, sweet and smoky into one savory flavor.” Hmmm, that’s odd. That sounds like the new McDonald’s sauce. They couldn’t be using the same thing, right? It must be a coincidence. Burger King didn’t come out with a new sauce, did they? They did?
Creamy signature sauce? And it’s that same shade of orange? It couldn’t possibly be sweet and tangy, could it? It is? WHAT A SURPRISE! Did all these companies just get together and develop one sauce they all could use? And do they really think any of these things are super memorable and will make a big enough splash to get brought back years from now? I just keep thinking about sweet and tangy. Sweet, tangy, maybe a little smoky. Where have I heard that combination of flavors before? God, I know I’ve had it somewhere…
Are….are these companies just trying to pass Chick-fil-a sauce off as their own invention? Are you kidding me? Chick-fil-a sauce is one of the pillars upon which this great country was built, and you think you can take the perfect mix of sweet, tangy, and smokey, add some red food coloring, put your own logo on it, call it Signature Awesome Cool sauce or some other bullshit, and think no one will notice? Not in here. Not on my watch. You don’t come at the Fast Food Watchdog with some weak sauce and expect to get out unscathed. I’m onto Big Fast Food. They’re so far behind the elites they think they can just steal the keys to the kingdom. I understand that, much like the NFL, fast food is a copycat league, but have some pride. Have some competitive spirit. Hey, BK, you know what was cool? When you had green apple dipping sauce and weren’t just copying everyone trying to ride coattails. Hey, Wendy’s, you don’t need a signature sauce because your food is so much better than the other members of the Big 3. McDonald’s, I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed. You invented the signature sauce game. Every fast food place has their own sauce, and all of them that aren’t stealing from Chick-fil-a base their sauce on Mac Sauce. And you think you have to stoop to Burger King’s level of imitation? For shame. Look, I get it. You do what you can to stay relevant. But you know what people remember? The originals. The ones that burned convention to the ground and built a new standard from the ashes. Not the people who just rip everyone off. Be better.
Still the GOAT fast food imitation. Can’t believe anyone was ever this shameless.
I know everyone’s focused on football and the nonsensical storyline in NBA 2K18‘s MyCareer, but I can’t get this thought out of my head: If you ever see me watching CBS’s new sitcom Young Sheldon please just put a bullet in my head. Believe me, I’ll understand.
I’ll be honest, I haven’t watched any trailers or anything. I’ve avoided any Young Sheldon media like the plague. But I already feel the hatred flowing through my veins any time I see this little piece of shit adjusting his bow tie. Besides the immediate turn off of being a Big Bang Theory spin-off, it somehow manages to combine almost all of my least favorite things: Big Bang Theory, sitcom spin-offs, any comedy with a child as the main character, any show/movie/commercial/book/anything about annoying and unrealistically brilliant child geniuses, CBS sitcoms, and Big Bang Theory again. Big Bang Theory is terrible and if you like it you have horrible taste. I know why it got a spin-off (it rhymes with schmoney), but if you’re excited for it, I don’t really want to be associated with you.
There’s a larger rant to go on here about the cynical nature of the entertainment industry and how they’ll do anything for money, and it’d be easy to call September 25th the End of the Golden Age of Television and the death of whatever amount of inspiration and creativity we have left as a society, but for now I’ll just say that Young Sheldon is going to be the worst show ever made and you shouldn’t watch it. Ever.
There’s a pretty big fight tomorrow night. McGregor v. Mayweather. Don’t know if you’ve heard about it. Probably not. It’s been going pretty under the radar. Since you haven’t heard about it, I doubt you know all the reported stakes. The sport of boxing is on the line, you know. It’s USA vs. the world, black vs. white, rich guy vs. rich guy. It’s the fight to end all fights (until the next one). But the most important question to me is would Conor McGregor, the heavy, heavy underdog and current non-professional boxer, beating actual professional boxer Floyd Mayweather in a boxing match be the greatest upset of all time?
It really depends on what you consider an upset. Obviously, an upset is just an unexpected result. But upsets come in all shapes and sizes. How do you compare an underdog winning a playoff series against an underdog winning one game? Or how do you compare a really unexpected win (say, a 14 or 15 seed in the NCAA tournament) against a series of less extreme upsets that still add up to pretty astronomical odds (like a sub-5 seed winning the NCAA tournament). How do you compare all of that to something like Leicester City? How about team sports vs. individual sports? I mean, statistically speaking, the Jaguars selling out every home game is probably less likely than an NFL team going 19-0. But would you consider that a greater upset than when the Patriots beat the Rams in Superbowl XXXVI, the most shocking and unlikely Superbowl result I can personally remember? The sport also matters, too. Football, baseball, and hockey all see lower seeded teams advance deep into the playoffs and frequently win championships. That’s just the nature of their respective tournaments: goalies get hot and carry teams, bats go hot and cold at the drop of a hat, and, as the saying goes, Any Given Sunday. NBA Basketball and soccer never see random teams win, and rarely see upsets of note at all. Basketball is so small scale that whoever has the best player almost always wins, and the system and culture of pro soccer is inherently unfair for anyone outside of, at most, 15 teams in the world. Then add in the fact that, for me, anything that takes more than one game is a better upset. Anyone can win one game. Fluky things happen every year in the NFL playoffs and NCAA Tournament. Particularly in the latter, the term upset has almost lost it’s meaning because we now expect the lower seeds to win. Theoretically, a team with the right game plan and matchups could beat anyone on the right day, even the greatest football team of all time that was about to complete a perfect season (not that that would ever happen). So anytime the lesser team has to beat a better team multiple times, it becomes more and more unlikely that lesser team will prevail. So, in my opinion, Leicester City winning the 2016 Premier League title is the greatest upset of all time and all upsets really need to be judged against it. Would Conor McGregor winning be a bigger upset than Leicester City winning the Premier League?
No, I don’t think it would. Sure Floyd is a clear favorite. The biggest line I’ve seen had him at -2500. It’ll be less than that closer to the fight, but that’s still significant. But there’s a couple of things working against this fight’s great upset potential. First of all, I’m rooting for Conor. As someone with primarily Irish heritage, I feel like it’s my duty to give him the Official Brian’s Den Seal of Approval, which is more valuable than leprechaun gold (Side rant: What do people who are actually from other countries think about Americans who say they’re from there? Like, if I went up to Conor and was like, “Hey, man, my ancestors’ ancestors were from Ireland. That means we’re friends, right?” What would someone from Rome think about all the “Italians” who have never left their neighborhood in Brooklyn? Even if you’re like, twentieth generation, I think it’s sacred law that if you have any Portuguese blood in you, you’re required to act like you were born and raised in Lisbon and have served thirty years in the Portuguese army because you love your homeland so much. I feel like someone who is actually from that country would just roll their eyes and secretly hate everyone who claims allegiance to them. I don’t know, just a random thought I have sometimes). Speaking of gold, boxing (and individual sports in general) are too shady for anything to be an upset without any suspicions attached to them. Who’s to say one of them won’t just take a dive? I mean, Floyd can’t even pay his taxes anymore, maybe he needs cash. Or, if it goes to decision, what if the judges are biased or compromised? It’s happened before. Like, this year. And it’ll happen again. Any sport that relies on people who aren’t competing remaining impartial is asking for trouble. Outside of knockouts, pretty much every boxing decision is open for scrutiny and accusations. I prefer my upsets to be clear: One team or person scored more indisputable points than the other. Conor winning by decision is so unlikely that it’s virtually impossible, but, even if he did, you know people would come out of the woodwork claiming it was fixed, just like they will if Floyd wins by decision but doesn’t dominate Conor like most people expect him to. I need First Take to debate what my upset’s legacy is, not whether or not my upset was legitimate. So, no Conor winning will not be the greatest upset off all time. Mostly because he won’t win.
PICK: Mayweather by decision
I’m typically a pretty level-headed person. As all of you know, I try to stay measured and don’t commit too far one way or the other. I go with the flow. I don’t let the little things bother me. I block out all the really annoying things people do so that it doesn’t completely consume my life and fill me with a never-ending rage. But, lately, the offenses have begun to mount. I have been faced with countless indiscretions in the span of like, two weeks, and it’s too much to ignore. I need to vent. I need to rant. I need the offenders to feel shame equal to the amount of anger they caused. What are all these mysterious problems? Well, I’m glad you asked.
- I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before or not. I feel like I probably have. But why do people put bread in the fridge? Why would someone take up valuable refrigerator space for an entire loaf of bread? Why would someone take up valuable refrigerator space for an entire loaf of bread? Why would you put something that doesn’t need to be refrigerated in a refrigerator? Why would you want cold bread all the time? Why did anyone do this when refrigerators were invented, and why did those same people pass the practice down to their progeny? Why why why? I went to my friend’s house and needed to put something in the fridge, but there was no room because there was a big loaf of bread in there. I started questioning the entire friendship. Bread doesn’t go in the fridge. It’s pretty simple stuff. If you put bread in the fridge, you deserve to eat moldy bread for the rest of your life.
- So I’m on a seemingly never ending quest right now. Around the middle of July, it was announced that Cinnamon Toast Crunch was releasing a new frozen delicacy, Cinnamon Toast Crunch Bites: Those of you who follow my Instagram account know that I primarily just reviews for all the new releases in junk and fast food I can get my hands on, and these things are easily my most personally anticipated item ever. I don’t even really need to do a review because I know they’re going to be a 10 out of 10. But, as you can tell, I don’t have them yet. Every press release has stated that they’d be out by the end of the month. Well, July ended, and no Cinnamon Toast Crunch Bites have been seen. Believe me, I’ve looked. I’ve pretty much been to the grocery store every day for the last ten days or so, and every time I’ve been empty handed. But that’s not what I’m really upset about, though. Spending all that time in grocery stores has made me think back to my Grocery Store Rules and realize how often people violate them. Old ladies put their carts in the dead center of every aisle, go 2 miles per hour, and stop and random times in front of the thing you need. Old people jamming up the express checkout by taking too many thing with them. Old people jamming up the self-checkout because they don’t know how to use them. Old people in general not understanding how to conduct themselves in a grocery store, really. But one thing really took the cake. One incident that is forever seared into my subconscious. One memory that will probably take multiple years off my life, because I’m shaking with fury just thinking about it. This goddamn old man was walking around with a cup of soup he hadn’t paid for yet and sipping it. He had a spoon in his hand but he was still drinking it like it was a glass of lemonade. I couldn’t really fathom what I was watching at first. How could anyone behave this way? How could he think this was okay? He had a family with him. He kept straying away and asking literally every single employee he saw some stupid question, but he had a family. How did they let it happen. I’m not sure you understand yet: HE HAD A SPOON IN HIS HAND AND WAS STILL DRINKING HIS SOUP! WHY?????? It wasn’t tomato soup or anything, he had to chew! Why was he drinking it? I really almost killed him. I was this close to strangling him. Or taking the rest of the vat of soup he drew from and pouring it on his head. HE HADN’T EVEN PAID FOR THE SOUP YET! I feel like this is something only I care about, but you don’t eat something before you buy it. I bet he just threw the cup out and got some free soup, because clearly if he cares so little for etiquette and the well being of others that he’s sipping on some soup while walking around a grocery store, odds are he’s not too concerned about paying up, either. It’s clearly time for this old timer to be put out to pasture, but that’s not enough. Not for this crime. His possessions need to be seized. His life’s work erased. His family name needs to be wiped from the annals of history. Everything he’s ever loved needs to be destroyed in front of him. Maybe then he’ll think twice about doing something really annoying in a grocery store.
- If you thought that was all the adversity I’ve had to face lately, you’d be wrong. In the process of going to Saratoga this weekend, I had to do a lot of driving. And I kept running into people who were going like 60 in the left lane. Why does anyone think it’s okay to do this? If you don’t feel like driving fast, don’t be in the left lane. That’s literally the entire point of having multiple lanes. Honestly, when there’s two lanes and the guy in the right lane is going 66 and the guy in the left lane is going 67, but I’m going 75 what am I supposed to do? Slow down? My travel plans shouldn’t be dictated by cowards who are too afraid to commit one way or another. If you want to go at a more leisurely pace, stay in the right lane. It can’t possibly get any simpler. I hate the highway. I want to get my highway experience over and done with as fast as possible. Don’t be the tough guy who thinks that making other people slow down will make up for the fact that you were picked on in high school. You don’t need to go fast. If you like the highway experience and want to savor it, more power to you. But don’t force me to spend any more time on it than I have to.
- Now that I’m thinking about cars, this isn’t really a recent thing but people still do it on my street all the time. How can you look yourself in the mirror every morning if you knew you parked you car facing the wrong direction on a street? It’s really not that hard. I see this stuff all the time: This was literally taken two seconds ago outside my house. My street is not, I repeat, IS NOT a one way street. See anything wrong here? Maybe look at the pickup truck, for starters. And it’s every day with this asshole. He has literally never noticed that all the cars parked on his side of the street face the other way. I can’t understand it. Am I the only person with enough awareness of my surroundings to ever pick up on the fact that maybe, just maybe, what I’m doing is wrong? That maybe other people might get annoyed with my extreme ignorance? I guess that’s just my cross to bear.
- There needs to be some kind of legal ramifications for mowing the lawn/weed whacking outside the hours of 12pm-7pm. I don’t think anything else needs to be said.
End of rants. I feel better now. I needed to get all of that off my chest. It just boggles my mind how people can be so oblivious
sometimes all the time. Maybe martial law wouldn’t be the worst thing, after all.