Countdown to 2020

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2020. Doesn’t seem fully natural to say. Gonna need about twelve months to get used to it, but then it’ll be time to change the year again! No, but we have fun, here. End of a decade, end of an era. How do you even sum up a decade? So much stuff happened. Ten years worth of stuff, some say. Pretty big stretch for me, I graduated high school and then graduated college. We can skip the lack of achievements that followed, but life is built on little victories that you can hold onto long after their realistic expiration date. But it’s time to turn the page to a new year and a new decade (#newdecadenewme). And, as we’ve established on briansden69.com, that means the power ranking countdown.

Twenty rankings. The classic mainstays and another round of scraping the bottom of the bottom of the barrel for #content ideas. What better way to spend New Year’s Eve than by counting down arbitrary topics? I’ll tell you what the true countdown is- the countdown to the age where it’s not only acceptable to not do anything for NYE, but it’s expected that I’ll just stay home. Only a few more years and awkwardly deflected party invitations to go! But, let’s be honest: I think the only person holding onto the idea that I might ever do anything fun on New Year’s Eve is me. My real friends already know the deal. On to the countdowns.

Top Five Movies of 2019 (Usually based on the Brian’s Den rating scale but this year’s mini-hiatus left a lot of movies out)

  1. Cats– Only 55% ironically chosen
  2. Knives Out– Whodunnits are so underrated but I’m glad we aren’t inundated with them
  3. Irishman– Hey, I know that old guy on the screen!
  4. Avengers: Endgame– This came out this year. Wild
  5. Uncut Gems– I haven’t even seen it yet. This is a legacy pick

Top Five Movies I Haven’t Seen But Will Say I Saw During Awards SZN to Sound Smarter

  1. Marriage Story– More like Divorce Story, am I right? Make sure to tip your waitresses
  2. Parasite– Yeah, I know it’s amazing, that doesn’t change the fact that I haven’t seen it yet
  3. Little Women– These were some little women, man. I’ll tell you what, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen littler women. And I’ve seen some little women, mind you. But these were some real little women
  4. Pain & Glory– I don’t even know what this is
  5. Frozen 2– You won’t believe the kinds of hijinks Olaf gets into, folks. Who knew he was such a racist?

Top Five Video Games I Played in 2019

  1. Fire Emblem: Three Houses– I will feel much more secure if no one knows how many hours I put into this game (…………………………………….255+)
  2. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice– The difficulty didn’t make me want to kill myself, which means I’ve ascended to a higher plane of existence than you normie gamerz
  3. Kingdom Hearts III– The fact that it exists is honestly enough for me
  4. Pokemon Sword– The h8rz are furious, but I rank this as a mid-tier Pokemon game, which makes it a top-tier regular game
  5. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order– Not enough Star Wars debate online these days. Sound off in the comments what your favorite preposterous Star Wars “controversy” of 2019 was

Top Five Songs of 2019

  1. Lil
  2. Nas X
  3. “Old
  4. Town
  5. Road”

Top Five Athletes of 2019

  1. Tom Brady- He’s still the reigning Super Bowl champ, dammit!
  2. Kawhi Leonard- Pop quiz- who has more personality? Kawhi Leonard or Brian from briansden69.com? Hey, wait a minute…
  3. Leo Messi- No one even notices how good he is anymore, that’s how good he is
  4. Lamar Jackson- Most unfair QB since 2018
  5. Mike Trout- I don’t want to bash my good friends at Nike or my close personal friend Mike Trout, but the Mike Trout signature cleats are just about the most swagless signature shoes ever created

Top Five New Year’s Eve Concerts

  1. Bassnectar- Freedom Hall, Louisville, KY
  2. Kid Rock- Big Ass Honky Tonk and Rock n Roll Steakhouse, Nashville, TN
  3. Mau Mau Chaplains- Flamingo Cantina, Austin, TX
  4. Bruno Mars- Du Arena, Yas Island, UAE
  5. Risky Business- VFW Post 4764, Clinton, AR

Top Five New Fast Food Items of 2019

  1. KFC Cinnabon Dessert Biscuit- Life-changing
  2. Burger King Tacos- So bad, but so good
  3. Burger King Rodeo Stacker King- Massive year for Burger King
  4. McDonald’s Stroopwafel McFlurry- A great way to give yourself delicious lockjaw
  5. Taco Bell Reaper Ranch Double Stacked Taco- TB saving their season with the ultimate 11th hour Hail Mary. Would have been embarrassing to be left out of the top five

Best Things That Happened to Me in 2019

  1. Found my go-to Chinese place
  2. Got a new laptop
  3. Became a bar soap guy again
  4. Got a rolling suitcase for the first time (yes, I know. The first time)
  5. Played 255+ hours of Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Top Five Most Inconvenient Occurrences

  1. Maintenance work disrupting any public transportation schedule
  2. Bad internet connection
  3. When the volume on a channel you turn to is wildly different than the previous channel’s
  4. Going to the doctor
  5. Not being the Jellicle Choice

Best Retail Experiences

  1. Free samples
  2. Asking a salesperson which article of clothing looks better and getting good feedback (might just be me)
  3. Not being asked to open a store credit card account
  4. Not talking to anyone from the moment you walk in to the moment you go through the self-checkout
  5. Getting a free discount from the store’s membership account after you swear that you’ll sign up for it next time

Top Five Variations of the $10 Vodka You Drank in College

  1. Burnett’s
  2. Popov
  3. Dubra
  4. Sobieski
  5. Taaka

Top Five Easiest Crimes to Get Away With

  1. Anything anytime before 1950- Anyone caught before WWII deserved punishment for stupidity over the actual crime
  2. Money Laundering- If the pea-brained muscle in any mob can do it, no way I couldn’t, right?
  3. Fraud- Gotta be pretty easy if you just prey on the elderly
  4. Torrenting Movies- Piracy is NOT a victimless crime
  5. Jaywalking- Imagine getting a ticket for jaywalking? Couldn’t possibly happen to me

Top Five Jaw-Dropping Moments in Politics in 2019

  1. Late Thanksgiving when everyone goes online and makes up fake stories about overly conservative uncles or overly liberal aunts and how it RUINED their meal
  2. Whenever a talking head DESTROYED someone on the opposite side with LOGIC and REASON
  3. That time you wrote your local congressman/woman and they DIDN’T write back. May as well have just thrown that vote in the trash
  4. When those EXPLOSIVE facts came to light, ANNIHLIATING the other side’s WEAK defenses
  5. Covfefe

Top Five Engines

  1. Hemi V8, baby
  2. Everything else

Top Five Subway Stations

  1. Marcy Avenue
  2. 81st Street/Museum of Natural History
  3. Hoyt-Schermerhorn Street
  4. Lexington Avenue-63rd Street
  5. 34th Street-Herald Square

Top Five Hobbies

  1. Magic: The Gathering- Cardboard Crack took hold of me in 2019 and refuses to let go 😦
  2. Model Building- You ever met a true model guy? Feel like they don’t do a lot of hosting
  3. Drawing- No easier way to get some sweet Likes and Retweets than with some choice artwork
  4. Scrapbooking- I’ll tell you what, the next scrapbook I receive that I don’t appreciate will be the first (I’ve never received a scrapbook)
  5. Being a Call-in-a-Golf-Rules-Violation Guy- RIP to the true Watchdogs

Top Five Most Refreshing Gulps of Water

  1. First sip when you’re hungover
  2. After mowing the lawn when it’s really hot out
  3. Like an hour after eating something super high in sodium
  4. When you crack the top of that ice-cold Poland Springs 16oz bottle
  5. Water cooler water from a cone cup

Top Five Things You Have to be Super Into If You’re Five

  1. Dinosaurs
  2. Playgrounds
  3. McDonald’s
  4. Not bathing
  5. Coloring outside the lines

Top Five Andrew Lloyd Webber Songs

  1. “Music of the Night”- Phantom of the Opera
  2. “Mr. Mistoffelees”- Cats
  3. “Close Every Door”- Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
  4. “All I Ask of You”- Phantom of the Opera
  5. “Superstar”- Jesus Christ Superstar

Top Five Things I’m Looking Forward to in 2020

  1. A mystery trip that may yield valuable #content
  2. Taco Bell Crispy Tortilla Tenders
  3. The all-new 2021 Ford F150
  4. Spending a few days thinking about buying new bedsheets before not pulling the trigger and forgetting about it for another 365
  5. Another great year in the Brian’s Den

Happy New Year, everyone

This Is Arguably the Most Important Week in Human History

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Folks, every so often the planets align and a series of events so monumental, so important to the future of mankind all occur in the span of one seven day stretch. This is one such time. Years from now, historians will look back on January 28th, 2019 through February 3rd, 2019 as the new cutoff point for calendars. This is the new year one. Get used to it.

For starters, tonight is media night for the Super Bowl. Crazy hijinks, wacky questions, Rams players talking about how much they hate the Patriots and that they totally, 100% AREN’T intimidated by them whatsoever. It’s always a great time. This will set the stage for one of the great triumphs in Western History.

Kingdom Hearts III comes out tomorrow. I’ll say that again in case you didn’t hear: Kingdom Hearts III comes out tomorrow. This is simply preposterous to me. I literally cannot believe it. Kingdom Hearts II came out fourteen years ago. 2005! I’m old and washed up and the gap in between the two main titles of one of my favorite game franchises ever has been over half my life. And tomorrow I’m going to be holding a real-life copy of Kingdom Hearts III. I don’t know how I’m going to react yet. There might be tears, I won’t rule it out.

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I’ve been frantically reading Wikipedia entries. I’ve been watching 45-minute plot compilation videos on YouTube. I’ve come as close as any one man can come to fully understanding the Kingdom Hearts storyline. My body is ready. It’s a matter of if my fragile psyche is.

Wednesday I will be playing Kingdom Hearts III all day. I want the history books to know this, too.

I’ll also be working on my next big project, and I assure you, it’s big. Huge, even. Will totally revolutionize what you think a good time really is. I can’t say anything else without risking unveiling Blayze on the Beach before it’s ready. Oops, did I say that out loud? Silly me.

Thursday is my dad’s birthday. Shoutout to my dad.

Friday my Super Bowl picks come out. Obviously a pretty big deal. Special prop bets included.

Saturday is a day of rest and probably the like, third longest day of the year. Super Bowl Saturday is bruuuuuutal. It’s so boring. It takes three lifetimes to end. But there’s always Kingdom Hearts III.

Sunday, needless to say, will rewrite American history. I don’t want to step on my picks too much, but let’s just say a certain coach-QB combo will win their sixth Super Bowl together. Sixth! And there’s going to be some terrible CBS show premiering afterwards. I’ll have more on this day as the week progresses, but it’s gonna be good. Get your spread locked down now. The last thing you want to do is leave shopping until Saturday.

This is totally the last week of eating like crap before I start working out and eating better. For real this time, I swear.

What a week. What a week. I don’t even know if I’ve done it justice with this description. But those of you who know, know. The world is about to change, and it all starts tonight.

Countdown to 2019

2019

Can’t believe 2018 is over already. I feel like Velma, but instead of looking for her glasses I’m looking for all the years of my life that have passed by. That sounded kind of depressing, sorry. But that’s just how time works, man. Just keeps moving forward. If you even believe in time, at all. But this isn’t a Burning Questions, this is the Countdown of Countdowns. Third year we’ve done this, which is crazy to think about. I also realize I forgot to mention my two-year anniversary when it came and went December 26th. I apologize not only to you, my loyal readers, but to George Michael, the patron saint of the Brian’s Den whose death sparked the creation of this beloved site. It won’t happen again. But for the true fans, the Brian’s Den’s greatest hits always live on deep in their hearts, so was a clip show really necessary? I’ll let you decide. Anyhow, the Countdown. We’re saying goodbye to 2018 with eighteen, yes, eighteen countdowns. It could get ugly after about ten, but we’re powering through; I’ve decided to start working a little harder in 2019. Just part of the #newyearnewme lifestyle.

Top Five Movies from 2018 Based on Brian’s Den Scoring

  1. Mission: Impossible Fallout– One of the five best action movies ever made
  2. Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse– Cried like four times
  3. The Commuter– This was like when Greg Maddux would throw an 80-pitch shutout late in his career just to show that he could still do it
  4. Skyscraper– Might be in the pantheon of random Rock action movies
  5. A Star is Born– Couldn’t leave out my boy B-Coop

Top Five Movies I Didn’t See But Will Say I Saw Come Awards Season to Sound Smarter

  1. The Favourite– Just waiting for the Americanized The Favorite to come out
  2. BlacKkKlansman– I watched the first three seasons of Ballers, does that count?
  3. Leave No Trace– Didn’t Viggo do this exact movie a year ago?
  4. If Beale Street Could Talk– Think I’m gonna feel bad about not seeing this one
  5. Bird Box– I will not let the memes win

Top Five Video Games I Played in 2018

  1. Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild– Getting myself a Switch for my birthday was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made
  2. God of War– Remember when I tried streaming? That was fun
  3. Fire Emblem Awakening– Yes, I know it’s old. No, I don’t care. I played four Fire Emblem games in a row and it was one of the most legitimately fun eras of my life and may or may not have indirectly lead to my move to New York City
  4. Spider-Man– Big year for Spidey
  5. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate– Smash will always make the cut

Top Five Games I’m Looking Forward to in 2019

  1. Kingdom Hearts III– I’ll be fine if I die after I finish this
  2. Untitled Pokémon Switch Game– We all know this is going to be a banger
  3. Fire Emblem: Three Houses– See above section
  4. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice– I’m going to get this and I’m going to hate myself for committing to what is surely an absolutely impossible game
  5. Final Fantasy VII– Just kidding. This is never coming out

Top Five Songs of 2018

  1. “I Like It” by Cardi B, Bad Bunny, & J Balvin- It’s just a fire song
  2. “Finesse” by Bruno Mars & Cardi B- Cardi B only puts out heat and that’s an undeniable fact
  3. “New Light” by John Mayer- I like that the stigma against liking John Mayer is gone
  4. “Sicko Mode” by Travis Scott- I’ll always remember Travis Scott for his Ballers cameos the most. That might be the last Ballers reference this year
  5. “Party for One” by Carly Rae Jepsen- Leave your CRJ hate at the door, please

Top Five TV Shows I Watched in 2018

  1. Good Place– It’s good. Get it?
  2. All or Nothing: Manchester City– So, umm, yeah, I didn’t really watch any shows this year and I don’t really know why
  3. Westworld– There is no way Westworld season 2 should be number three on anyone’s list but here we are
  4. I don’t know, man. New Black Mirror came out that I haven’t watched yet so I’ll say that
  5. Spongebob seasons 1-3- RIP Stephen Hillenburg

Top Five Athletes of 2018

  1. Luka Doncic- I never overreact, I swear
  2. Mookie Betts- Red Sox won the World Series, in case you forgot
  3. Nick Foles- What a large penis this man has
  4. Aaron Donald- Feel like this is what it was like for my dad when he watched Bill Russell
  5. Every Olympian- Remeber the Olympics? They were this year! Crazy

Top Five New Year’s Eve Concerts

  1. Phish- MSG
  2. Bruno Mars- T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas
  3. Lady Gaga- Park Theater at Park MGM, Las Vegas
  4. Lynyrd Skynyrd- WinStar World Casino, Thackerville, Oklahoma
  5. Billy Joel- Nassau Coliseum, Long Island

Top Five New Fast Food Items

  1. Double Cheesy Gordita Crunch- Taco Bell
  2. Triple Melt Burrito- Taco Bell
  3. Nightmare King- Burger King
  4. Wild Naked Chicken Chalupa- Taco Bell
  5. Nacho Fries- Taco Bell

Top Five Best Things That Happened to Me in 2018

  1. Moved to New York City
  2. I just got this new deodorant (it’s men’s, FYI. It’s almost 2019) that has lavender in it and it smells very nice
  3. Any of the times I missed a subway train or bus by a matter of milliseconds
  4. My sister got me this notebook for Christmas that makes me feel like Aragorn since it looks straight out of Middle Earth
  5. Actually made some new friends. Rare!

Top Five Worst Smells

  1. Whatever’s been brewing in my fridge for the last month or two that I keep waiting for someone else to take care of but it never happens
  2. General garbage
  3. Someone else’s puke
  4. Rotting flesh
  5. Subway when you don’t want it

Top Five Acting Performances Ever by Men

  1. Samuel L. Jackson- Pulp Fiction
  2. Christoph Waltz- Inglorious Basterds
  3. Chappie- Chappie
  4. Daniel Day-Lewis- There Will Be Blood
  5. Nicolas Cage- The Wicker Man

Top Five Acting Performances Ever by Women

  1. Lady Gaga- A Star is Born
  2. Melissa McCarthy- The Heat
  3. Viola Davis- Fences
  4. Ellen Burstyn- The Wicker Man
  5. Jodie Foster- Silence of the Lambs

Top Five Book(s) Ever

  1. If I Did It: Confessions of a Killer by Pablo Fenjves and O.J. Simpson
  2. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  3. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
  4. Song of Ice and Fire Series by George R.R. Martin
  5. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

Top Five Vegetables

  1. Potato
  2. Carrot
  3. Red onion
  4. Non-infected lettuce
  5. Spinach

Top Five Places to Go Swimming

  1. Private pool- No rules whatsoever after a certain age=fun
  2. Health club pool- Usually the highest quality pool and water
  3. Lake- Beach is generally more fun, but lakes are far superior for swimming
  4. Public pool- Especially hotel pools where you can smell the chlorine three blocks away
  5. Beach- Swimming in the ocean is almost always a better idea in theory than in practice

Top Five Italian Renaissance Artists

  1. Michelangelo- The G.O.A.T. and I don’t know who’s really that close to him. Master of every medium. Only thing going against him is that every portrait of him looks like Willem Defoe if he got lost in the woods for a month and the only food he had was heroin
  2. Sandro Botticelli- Most underrated painter ever. Yeah, I said it
  3. Leonardo da Vinci- He’s honestly such an overrated artist but I don’t want to draw the ire of the people who put the emphasis on the “ai” in Renaissance
  4. Raphael- Raphael, of course, was known for his works’ clarity of form, ease of composition, and visual achievement of the Neoplatonic ideal of human grandeur
  5. Donatello- I swear I didn’t envision this happening but I have no choice now

Top Five Things I’m Looking Forward to in 2019

  1. More calm, peaceful discourse in all areas of the Internet
  2. A McDonald’s resurgence. It’s coming, and you don’t want to be on the wrong side of history
  3. The Patriots winning a sixth Super Bowl
  4. Getting a pet flamingo
  5. Spending more time in the Brian’s Den- 2019 is gonna be huge. Believe it

Why Does No One Care that Every Video Game Steals Ideas?

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I’ll start this off the same way I do every blog about a particularly nerdy or granular topic: this probably isn’t for everyone. I’m going to be diving into very trivial matters of the video game world that, like, five people besides me care about. I won’t feel that offended if you don’t bother reading this. That being said, you should still read this.

So, as I am every year around this time, I’m deep into Assassin’s Creed. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is awesome. Ancient Greece is one of my favorite time periods and it’s just a good game (if you’re wondering why I haven’t reviewed it yet, it’s because it’s so huge and I physically can’t get myself to ignore the non-main story elements. And I’ve been busy doing other stuff. Like voting, NBD) (Yeah, I voted. Got a sticker and everything. Yes, it does make me better than you). Anyway, as I explore the massive world, the same thing that struck me when I was playing Assassin’s Creed Origins hit me now: this is just Witcher 3 with a different skin. My thoughts were mostly drawn to the presence of undiscovered locations on the map represented by white question marks. The first picture is from Witcher 3. This is from Odyssey:maxresdefault_live

Not exactly straying too far from the mold, are they? And that’s not the only thing, either. The combat is pretty much the same, both in mechanics and the way damage is calculated through your own level and gear. The armor rarity and perk system is pretty much the same. I don’t really mind, that much. Why fix what isn’t broken? But this is far from an isolated incident in the video game industry, and I don’t really get why no one cares.

Outside of the people that made PUBG, it seems like every video game company is kind of fine with everyone else just jacking their mechanics and ideas. Take the franchise that started it all. Assassin’s Creed (the first one) is probably the most influential North American game of the 21st century, if only for creating the “climb up to the tallest point to unlock more of the map” thing that every open world game since has included. Every AC sequel, the Arkham games, Spider-ManBreath of the Wild, a billion others. Horizon Zero Dawn at least put their own spin on it, but it was still the same (by the way, the Mass Effect game that came out a few years ago was literally just Horizon Zero Dawn set in space). Did Ubisoft not care that their IP was being passed around like a hot potato? Or were they more worried about the fact that the counter-based combat system they created was perfected by Arkham Asylum and Batman got credit for it? That same combat system was then stolen from Batman by a million other games, as well, and was the basis for the combat system Witcher 3 created. Which brings us to the most egregious offender of all, Shadow of Mordor and Shadow of WarMordor literally took everything that made Assassin’s Creed Assassin’s Creed (the free running, the climbing, the viewpoints, the kind of weird storyline) and added, beat for beat, the Arkham combat system. I was stunned no one did anything about it. It was theft, pure and simple. But, to bring everything full circle, Odyssey turned around and stole a bunch of War’s skill tree and completely bastardized the nemesis system, Mordor’s crowning achievement, with the mercenaries. It’s a giant human centipede of gaming ideas and everyone gets a taste of someone else’s game. It’s preposterous.

And this isn’t solely and American thing, either. Our friends from across the Pacific are, if possible, even more shameless than we are. There’s about 10,000 franchises that are bald Final Fantasy imitators (shoutout Lord of the Rings: the Third Age). Random encounters didn’t always exist. Now, try to imagine a JRPG (or any RPG, for that matter) without them. Turn based combat and large parties consisting of a brooding lead, a spunky teen, a jerk with a heart of gold, and a weird mascot/animal who turns out to be a powerful magical creature are now more expectations of the genre rather than novelties. And it’s all because of Final Fantasy. And, to be fair, pretty much every game since Ocarina of Time was released has been at least tangentially based on Ocarina of TimeShadow of the Colossus is practically set on the same map. Pokémon, which obviously owes a ton to Final Fantasy and Legend of Zelda, was the direct inspiration for, like, a billion handheld games, including the forgotten G.O.A.T. of Gameboy Advance, the Megaman Battle Network series (don’t @ me). Obviously, Digimon was started as a pure Pokémon imitator, but, in a funny twist of fate, the newer Pokémon games wound up stealing the Digifarm from Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth. Like, it’s literally the exact same thing. Poké Pelago in Sun and Moon/Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon is the Digifarm. You store your Digimon/Pokémon and they can level up/find items passively without the player needing to do anything. It has the same expandable islands, the same feeding system, the same ability to customize training focus, it’s literally the exact same thing. And one of my favorite series and one of the more surprising franchises I’ve ever played, Danganronpa, is just Phoenix Wright set in a high school. They didn’t even bother changing up the objection system. Everyone just takes each other’s ideas. It blows my mind that none of them care. Blows my mind. In music there’s a lawsuit if someone uses a similar chord structure. In gaming, it’s all fair use, apparently.

It’s one thing for a massive studio like EA to have all of their games be the same, but the fact that different, non-affiliated studios continue to use each other’s stuff is baffling to me. I’m pretty sure Madden was the first sports game to have the card-based team creator, and I’m shocked they didn’t try to crush 2K for taking it. I get everything’s a copycat league and you want to imitate successful properties, but can we switch things up a little? I realize there’s only so much you can do and I don’t want to be “enough remakes and sequels” guy but at some point maybe change things up? I mean, it’s not like the mechanic hive-mind has really prevented me from enjoying any of these games, but still. Maybe my problem is that I only play the huge AAA titles that are only concerned with making money so they’re more likely to just do what works instead of actually try and innovate. I know I should start playing more independent games if I really want originality, but I need to be able to contribute to the public gaming discussion, and no one cares about independent games. Guess this is more of a me problem, isn’t it? Oh, well. Just had to get this off my chest.