Wait, Wrestlemania is Tonight?

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I apologize for my short absence, but I’ve been bedridden after a debilitating attack from a particularly nasty gang of rhinoviruses. It hasn’t been all bad, though, since it’s given me plenty of time to play MLB The Show 17 (review coming soon) and catch up on some of my favorite series on Netflix.com. I also spent plenty of time perusing the world wide web, where I discovered that, unbeknownst to me, Wrestlemania 33 is actually tonight. I usually keep track of things like this, but somehow I had no idea. Now, it should go as no great surprise to anyone who has read more than a sentence of this blog that I used to love WWE in my younger days, though my interest has clearly fallen off (or is this an elaborate ruse to try and do the impossible and make myself seem cool? You’ll never know). Luckily, I two of my friends have WWE Network accounts that I steal use whenever I feel like seeing what’s going on in the squared circle, so I won’t face any obstacles there (weird that it’s easier (and cheaper) for me to watch a $60 or whatever it is pay-per-view than it is to watch a game on CBS). It’s kind of a bummer that I’ll have to throw out the healthy meal I had planned, since it’s the definition of uncouth to watch Wrestlemania without pizza (I just had to throw this in real quick because I’m watching TV and they just showed the commercial, but it really bothers me how people in pizza commercials (Pizza Hut pioneered this) take random slices. You take a slice with an opening to its left or right, not from in the middle. I’ve never seen anyone even consider pulling this stunt in real life, and I think it would be legal grounds for an assault).

Now, Wrestlemania is a sacred event. To coin a phrase from national treasure Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, it’s the most electrifying night in sports entertainment™. With so much over-the-top action and showmanship, it’s the modern day circus. It’s also one of those special events, much like March Madness and the Olympics, where everyone is suddenly an expert (or at least pretends to be). Usually I thrive in times like this, since I know slightly more than the average viewer about pretty much everything. But now? I’m totally out of the loop. How will I be able to join the discussion with my friends on Twitter if I don’t know anything going in? I can’t just shoot from the hip and react to everything I see without having some background. I need a game plan ASAP. What does the card even look like?

  • Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship
  • Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton for the WWE Championship
  • Undertaker vs. Roman Reigns
  • HHH vs. Seth Rollins, Non-sanctioned match (what does that even mean?)
  • Shane McMahon vs. AJ Styles
  • John Cena & Nikki Bella vs. The Miz & Maryse, Al Roker as special ring announcer
  • Bayley vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax, Fatal Four Way elimination for the Women’s Championship
  • Chris Jericho vs. Kevin Owens for the United States Championship
  • Dean Ambrose vs. Baron Corbin for the Intercontinental Championship
  • Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson vs. Enzo Amore & Big Cass vs. Cesaro & Sheamus, Triple Threat Ladder Match (!!!) for the Tag Team Championship
  • Alexa Bliss vs. All Available Women for the SmackDown Women’s Championship
  • Neville vs. Austin Airies for the Cruiserweight Championship
  • Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal

Besides the fact that I don’t recognize at least half the names here, a few initial thoughts: I don’t think I’m alone when I say I love ladder matches. In fact, I also don’t think I’m alone when I say ladder matches should be more common, and not just in the wrestling world. Every dispute should be settled with a ladder match. Trump-Hillary? Ladder match. Westbrook-Durant? Ladder match. Hatfield-McCoy? Ladder match. If you leave a ladder match with contempt still in your heart and anything less than respect for your opponent, you didn’t do it right. Second, while random celebrity cameos are a time-honored Wrestlemania staple, I gotta be honest, I never saw an Al Roker guest ring announcer spot coming. I guess that’s why Vince McMahon is a billionaire, though. Last night I had no idea I needed to see Al Roker at Wrestlemania, but now it’s all I can think about. Will he get involved? Will he get hit? Will he do a surprise heel turn? Anything could happen. Third, Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar? Did I wake up in 2004? I wouldn’t mind, though, 2004 was a great year for me.

Looks like it could be a pretty decent show, all in all. Can’t wait for the Stone Cold appearance that happens every year (not that I’m complaining). Maybe The Rock will show up for a long Fast 8 ad that I’ll love every second of. Maybe Shaq will be there. That’s the beauty of Wrestlemania, anything could happen. Maybe I’m a surprise entrant in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. You’ll have to tune in to find out.

A couple power rankings since I know you’re wondering:

Top Five Wrestlers

  1. The Rock
  2. Kurt Angle
  3. Undertaker (R.I.P. Paul Bearer)
  4. Stone Cold
  5. Big Show

Top Five Tag Teams

  1. Edge and Christian
  2. Dudley Boyz
  3. The New Day
  4. The Rockers
  5. Batista and Rey Mysterio

Top Five Stables

  1. n.W.o.
  2. DX
  3. Evolution
  4. The Corporation
  5. Ministry of Darkness

Top Five Entrance Songs

  1. Jesse and Festus
  2. Stone Cold
  3. Shawn Michaels
  4. Rey Mysterio (second song)
  5. Edge

At some point, I’ll become so uncool that I’ll flip it around and become the coolest person in the world.

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Happy Birthday Celine Dion

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So today is Celine Dion’s 49th birthday, and normally it wouldn’t be a big deal since I’m not some huge Celine Dion guy or anything (just kidding, I am), but I had to address some troubling news I recently learned: Celine Dion is now a Las Vegas performer. Somehow I didn’t know she’d been doing it since 2011. As a society, how did we let this happen? Celine Dion was HUGE in the 90s. She’s got like 40% of all the best power ballads ever on her resume, including undeniably one of the five most famous songs of all time. She’s got the strongest voice this side of Mariah Carey. And now she’s got a show in Vegas? Say it ain’t so, Celine.

Listen, I understand that playing in the same place every night is the closest thing someone like Celine Dion can have to a regular life. And usually these deals are crazy lucrative. But being a Vegas performer is so…gauche. If you’re in the same category as Carrot Top, it’s usually not a good thing. Maybe if she was a magician it’d be good. Or some curiosity act like Cirque du Soleil. But this is Celine Dion we’re talking about. She’s so far above Vegas it’s not even funny. This is like when Jordan played for the Wizards. Sure, he was still an all star talent, but everyone watching wishes he would have just retired instead of hanging on. I’m going to take the liberty to speak for Celine and say I wish she had just hung up the old evening gown instead of going Vegas. Where is she even playing, anyway? Caesar’s Palace? Oh. That changes things, actually. Caesar’s Palace is big time. I just kind of assumed she was at some low class place like the Luxor or the Flamingo. But Caesar’s Palace is a little different. Now I can kind of understand the appeal. Alright, I guess I have to do a bit of a 180 on this, then. Of course she got Caesar’s Palace. It all makes sense now. I still would have preferred if she aimed a little higher than Vegas, but at least she got a spot in Caesar’s Palace.

(I recognize this wasn’t my best effort my I was just struck seriously ill with a surprise cold, so sue me)

Obligatory:

Whoops, how’d that get in there?

I’m Pretty Sure my Barber Moved, so Now What Do I Do?

barberI need a haircut. It’s not a desperate need just yet, but I could go for a trim. The only problem is, I think the guy I’ve been going to moved. Last time he was there he was telling everyone who would listen about how he was going away and was saying goodbye to all the regulars. I didn’t ask where he was going or further the conversation in any way because I lack social skills, so I was hoping someone else would do it for me. No one did, so I’m left wondering if I’m out of a barber or not. And if I am, I don’t really know what my next move is.

The bond between a man and his barber is a sacred one. When you find someone you like, you pretty much remove a variable from your life. It’s something you don’t have to think about anymore. It’s why you see guys that have been going to the same shop for 50 years or whatever. When you need a haircut it’s “better go see my guy,” not “what am I going to do?” which is where I might be.

You can’t just replace a barber all willy-nilly. You have to consider all the all the different things at play. Sure, there’s other guys that work at his shop that I could go to. But I’ve been going there for a year and only gone to him, passing on the opportunity to go to another person multiple times. I doubt they’ll be thrilled to be my backup option after I spurned them for so long. I don’t think I can ever go back there. Luckily, there’s no shortage of barber shops around here. New York City has an India-level barber population density, and even an hour outside the city where I live has some excess barbers who didn’t want to join the flooded market of NYC. The only problem is, white people like me don’t necessarily “fit in” at every barber shop. I don’t want to walk in to every place I find, look around for a second, then slowly walk back out as everyone inside looks at me like I have three heads. And half of the ones that are for us are run by old guys who have been doing it for 70 years and at this point give everyone the same haircut regardless of what you ask for. There’s a small middle ground, but it’s tough to find. I had it with my last guy, but I don’ know if I’ll be able to find it again. I’m sure it would be a lovely experience, but I’m not sure if I could pull off a full salon. Most of them say they take men and women, but let’s be real. Plus, I’m out on any place where I need an appointment. And I don’t care how good the MVP Treatment is, I’m not going to lower myself to Sport Clips (or SuperCuts, or Cost Cutters, or whatever). I just don’t know where to turn.

I think I might have to take my chances with a random barber shop. I just need to walk in and act like I belong, no matter what it’s like in there. I’ve always wanted to go to a black barber shop, I’ve just never had the opportunity/balls to do it. If I unwittingly walk into one, I’ll just keep saying how much I love Man on Fire and try to talk basketball to endear myself early. Or if it’s an old guy’s shop I’ll talk about how much I love Italian food because 90% of old barbers came straight off the boat from Italy. Or maybe my barber was just going on vacation and acted like he was moving because he’s Albanian and English isn’t his first language. And I haven’t even talked about the differences in quality you can find. No matter what I do, odds are it’s coming down to a coin toss on if it’ll work out or not. Next time you see me I’ll either look like a movie star or a homeless person. Sure hope luck is on my side.

These Organic Doritos are the Biggest Affront to Creation I’ve Ever Seen

So I just got home from doing a little grocery shopping. Got to keep the Brian’s Den well stocked, after all. I was just walking along, minding my own business, perusing the holy temple chip aisle when something caught my attention. It was so jarring I had to take a picture:

Organic Doritos. Needless to say I was shocked and appalled. I used to think the combination jar of peanut butter/jelly was the most offensive thing at the grocery store, but no longer. I’ve eaten a lot of disgusting concoctions in my life, most of the time on purpose, and I wouldn’t even consider letting one of these enter my body. First of all, I don’t know what they put in these things, but the words “organic” and “Doritos” should never be in the same sentence. They’re polar opposites. They scientifically can’t exist simultaneously. It’d be like if a team from Atlanta suddenly started ripping off championship after championship. It’s just not what God intended (trashing Atlanta sports is my new favorite hobby if you couldn’t tell, mostly because now that the Falcons are dead and buried, there are no more Atlanta fans left to get mad at me). Second, I just hate what they represent. If you made a Venn Diagram of people who love Doritos and people who love organic food, I’m guessing the two circles wouldn’t intersect much. Just let Doritos be Doritos. Not everything needs to be healthy, GMO free, no preservatives (I don’t care if I’m the only one left, but I love preservatives. I don’t want to put any pressure on myself to eat stuff right away before they go bad. Bread especially), organic, blah, blah, blah. I don’t go to Whole Foods for my snacks. I blame all the hipster parents who are convinced their kids have special dietary needs even though they haven’t gotten any kind of medical diagnosis. They’ve started a war on delicious and unhealthy food and I’ve had enough. First, they came for peanut butter and I said nothing. Next, they made vegetable chips, and I said nothing (mostly because they’re secretly pretty good). Then they came for sugary cereal, and I said nothing. Now, they’re coming for Doritos, and I must say something before there’s no one left to do so. Just left us keep Doritos, okay? Just let us keep one thing. Your little bundles of joy Aiden, Mason, and Jaxxson will be fine if they eat one thing with artificial flavoring. Not everything needs to become super clean and PC. They’re Doritos, for crying out loud! Don’t turn them into McDonald’s by making them bend over backwards to become “healthy.” You’ve already ruined enough things I love.

While we’re talking grocery stores, I just needed to throw out some basic grocery store etiquette, because for some reason people don’t know how to act like human beings when they shop:

  • Use the correct carrying device. If you’re only getting a few small things, take a basket not a full cart.
  • If your total items is more than or equal to the allotted number for the express line, don’t use it.
  • Don’t sample something if it’s not a free sample. I see (usually older) people open a bag of grapes and eat one or two then put it back all the time, and it’s the closest I come to committing murder.
  • Take a number at the deli and wait your turn. You’d be surprised how many people don’t understand this concept.
  • If you have to return something (whether it’s expired and you were too blind to realize it or whatever other reason you make up), don’t eat half of it first.
  • Don’t stop you cart in the middle of an aisle. Go to one side. Also have some kind of awareness for where the best place to park is. Directly in front of all the chicken blocking everyone isn’t it.
  • If you aren’t elderly or impaired in some way, don’t walk really slow when you know people are behind you.
  • Don’t hold the refrigerator/freezer doors open for longer than you need to.
  • Don’t open something before you buy it. This might just be my own pet peeve, but still.
  • At least attempt to control your unruly children.
  • For the love of God, don’t ask one of the employees (who probably want to kill themselves because they work at a grocery store) if there’s more of something in the back. What, do you think there’s an entire other store in the back full of stuff they don’t want you to buy? Use your brain.

If you don’t understand these basic tenants of society, odds are you’re too oblivious to function in a civilized culture in the first place.

P.S.

Easily the most underrated thing at any grocery store are the TastyKakes. No one knows about them and they’re so much better than Hostess, Little Debbie, Drake’s, etc. Being a TastyKake guy is like being in a secret club. One time I grabbed a box while another guy was reaching for some and we just gave each other a nod because we both knew the other was a man of taste (get it?). Top five TastyKakes:

  1. Chocolate Juniors- undisputed GOAT snack cake
  2. Butterscotch Krimpets- changed my opinion on butterscotch permanently
  3. Coconut Juniors- a bit of a controversial pick, but you don’t come here for soft takes
  4. Peanut Butter Kandy Kakes- like a Peanut Butter Patty, but a snack cake
  5. Cream Filled Koffee Kake Cupcakes- take one of the all time great snack cakes, then add some delicious cream to the middle

AL Central Preview

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At long last, the end is in sight. The long slog of the baseball offseason is almost over, as are these previews. Only one division left. I’ve saved the best worst for last. Listen, I’ve spent the majority of these opening paragraphs trashing the AL Central, but that’s because it stinks. Only one team is worth watching. The rest are pure baseball Ambien, capable of putting even the most hardcore baseball nerd to sleep instantly. Well, without further ado, here’s my favorite division, the American League Central. As always, win totals taken from Atlantis Casino Resort.

Cleveland Indians

300px-indians_logo_-_2014_season-svgLast year’s World Series runner-up lost in excruciating fashion after blowing a 3-1 lead, fighting back to improbably tie game 7, then losing the championship in extra innings. Just the same old hard-luck Indians, right? Well, not exactly. Almost overnight, the Tribe has transformed into a big spending juggernaut clearly looking to exorcise last year’s demons. They signed Wily Mo Pena, for crying out loud! If that doesn’t scream win-now, I don’t know what does.

This is clearly the best team in this division. Adding Edwin Encarnacion to the team that scored the fifth most runs in the league last season seems like a recipe for success. They’re gonna score a lot of runs pretty much no matter who they’re playing.

Of course, what makes them a great team is that they prevent runs just as well as the score them. Their pitching was dominant last year, even with talented starters Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar missing time. They finished fifth in the league in ERA+ and fourth in strikeout percentage. They also sport a top five defense. Combining those two things is usually a good thing. It’s not exactly rocket surgery why this team is good. When you excel at every facet of the game, good things usually happen. Look for the Indians (sorry, didn’t mean to offend) team from Cleveland to be there at the end this, year, too.

Over/Under 92.5 Wins: Over

Key Offseason Move: Signing Edwin Encarnacion

Burning Question: How long until LeBron takes credit for the Indians success?

Bold Prediction: They’ll blow a 3-1 lead in the ALCS as continued punishment for the city of Cleveland for their infinite “Warriors blew a 3-1 lead” jokes online.

Detroit Tigers

detroit-tigers-logo-2016I don’t know, man. There’s just something about this team that absolutely bores the hell out of me. They’re just so…boring. And it’s not like they’re a bad team. They’re actually pretty decent. If you treat weighted runs created + as a catch-all stat for offensive productivity adjusted for stadiums, the Tigers actually placed 4th in the league. They even have some exciting individual players- J.D. Martinez, Justin Upton, Victor Martinez, and the great Miguel Cabrera are all theoretically appointment television. Jose Iglesias even makes the nuanced art of middle infield defense exhilarating. But still, I can never get pumped up about the Tigers. I think it’s the jerseys. They’re just so plain. No character, no panache. Just white and navy. Teams like the Tigers are cursed by having classic jerseys because it means they’re never allowed to change. The Tigers could do with a modernization, but if they ever altered anything people would absolutely lose their minds. Like every 20 years a Penn State football player wears white cleats or something and he’s practically put on trial for murder. But when you hold out for so long, it’s impossible to get out of the rut. Take the Red Sox and Celtics. They’ve had the same designs forever, but they experimented with alternates (with varying degrees of success) early in the Alternate Jersey Era, so no one really cares. But when you’re like the Tigers or Cardinals or Alabama don’t even think about switching anything up. Oregon’s been around too long at this point to jump in the fun jersey game. So don’t expect me to experience any joy watching the Tigers because they are just so visually bland. They might be okay, but they’ll look boring doing it. And they won’t be good, since their pitching and defense suck.

Over/Under 85.5 Wins: Under

Key Offseason Move: Trading for Mikie Mahtook I guess?

Burning Question: Will Kate Upton travel to every game, or just cities with hot girls?

Bold Prediction: This team is so uninteresting I can’t even think of anything even remotely related to them.

Kansas City Royals

217px-kansas_city_royals-svgHow the hell did this team win a championship two years ago? Seriously, it’s getting more mysterious by the minute. I shouldn’t pile on the Royals, though, since, even though I didn’t like him as much as Jose Fernandez, they’re dealing with the same tragic situation as the Marlins with the death of presumed number one starter Yordano Ventura. So surreal to lose two young, talented guys so close together like this. The loss was met with less public grieving mostly because it was during the offseason (and he spent his whole career throwing at people and was pretty much the least popular player in the league. Not to disrespect the dead, though) but it’s still going to have a huge impact on this team. It’s pretty much like the Marlins: they could fall apart or they could rally together and become more than the sum of their parts (again). They’ve certainly done it before.

I do have concern over some of the people they’ve lost, though. Wade Davis was pretty much the lynchpin of their championship run, and he was traded to the Cubs for Jorge Soler, who’s very talented offensively but is a massive downgrade defensively from the also departed Jarrod Dyson. Set-up ace Kelvim Herrera has a new role as closer, and those kind of moves can always go either way if the player gets in his own head. Even a minor slip in their perfect pitching and defense formula could spell doom for this team, since their sub-par offense certainly won’t be able to carry them.

Over/Under 80.5 Wins: Under

Key Offseason Move: Trading away Wade Davis for Jorge Soler

Burning Question: I just want to let everyone know I thought of a really tasteless joke regarding Royals fans’ love of stuffing the all star ballot box and I decided not to include it here, so you’re welcome for that.

Bold Prediction: Despite all the obstacles, both personnel-wise and emotionally, they still somehow find a way to make the playoffs.

Chicago White Sox

181px-chicago_white_sox-svgListen, the White Sox are going to be bad this year. Very bad, in fact. But it’s hard to say this offseason was nothing but a rousing success for them. Sure they had to give up their two best players, but they weren’t going anywhere with them and now they have three of the top sixteen prospects in the league. It was a very Sixers-esque offseason. It’s good to see teams in other leagues embrace the philosophy that if you aren’t one of the best five or so teams in the league there’s no point in trying to be good anymore. Encouraging stuff from the South Siders.

Over/Under 73.5 Wins: Over

Key Offseason Move: Trading every good player for Joel Embiid some top-end prospects

Burning Question: Will they fully commit to The Process and create a pyramid scheme of prospects with the end goal of one day owning the rights to every single minor league player in America?

Bold Prediction: We will, at some point, be reminded that Todd Frazier was once in the Little League World Series.

Minnesota Twins

800px-minnesotatwinsI may have been a little harsh on this division, because the Twins are actually kind of awesome. Their lineup is full of talented players, led by Brian Dozier, one of the most random 40 home run hitters of all time. Byron Buxton, long heralded as the future of baseball, could finally be ready to start living up to expectations. Miguel Sano is just as like to hit 50 homers as he is to strike out 300 times. Joe Mauer is still a wizard with the stick. The only problem is they have the worst pitching and defense in the league, and maybe some of the worst ever. Not ideal for trying to win games.

Over/Under 70.5 Wins: Under

Key Offseason Move: Minnesota losing Adrian Peterson

Burning Question: I don’t think they have one yet, so will I get a cut of the revenue if/when they make a purple Prince tribute alternate jersey?

Bold Prediction: They’ll finish top five in runs scored and top one in runs allowed.

 

SUPER BONUS PREDICTIONS:

World Series: Red Sox over Cubs (really going out on a limb)

MVPs: Mookie Betts, Corey Seager

Cy Youngs: Corey Kluber, Clayton Kershaw

Can’t Believe it’s Already Been 3 Months Since George Michael Died

 

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Wait, that’s not right

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The (very) few of you from the beginning remember that this site was founded to honor the memory of George Michael. He’s the patron saint of the Brian’s Den, if you will. Today marks the three month anniversary of his tragic decision to give his heart away for good and join the the ranks of the Angelic Pop Duos of Heaven. I’m still picking up the pieces of my life, but I like to think he’s looking down on me every step of the way. I mean, think of all the great things that have happened since Last Christmas: the Pats win the Super Bowl, Yu-Gi-Oh!John Wick 2The Great WallLogan, and Beauty and the Beast came out, Tom Brady’s jersey was found, McDonald’s introduced chocolate Shamrock Shakes, chocolate covered strawberry Oreos, I introduced the world to HarryPie Tops, Lavar Ball came into the American conscious, the heat shield on my car fell off, I did my taxes, the Celtics didn’t trade for Jimmy Butler, the Oscars had the most legendary (staged?) live TV moment of all time, the Naked Chicken Chalupa changed my life forever, my birthday, and I got a new sweatshirt I really like. And that’s hardly everything. What a run. And all thanks to the spirit of Yog. His raw vocal power and sultry tones have been guiding my life from afar all this time. Needless to say his indomitable showmanship pumps through my veins. It seems only right to take a trip into the Great Beyond and pay tribute to our hero once more.

(So no one ever considered that he might be gay? Really? The 80s, man.)

All this remembrance has me in a reflective mood, and I need to do something unprecedented: I have to change one of my takes. Everyone who follows the Brian’s Den Facebook (don’t be afraid to give it a like) page may have seen that I implied that the original 1991 Beauty and the Beast was better than the remake. Well, after firing off my review, I went back and watched the cartoon for the first time in a few years. And, I must confess: I think I actually like the remake better. And not just because I may or may not be in love with Emma Watson. They added in a few new songs and all of them are money. That song Beast sang as he (spoiler alert for everyone who somehow hasn’t seen any version of one of the most beloved romances of all time) watched Belle ride away was some poetic and heart-wrenching stuff. Turning LeFou gay caused a stir on the internet, but he was already gay in the original so I don’t see what the big deal was. Either way, I’m glad Josh Gad sold his soul to Disney because he was delightful, as was the always great Luke Evans. And I kind of think this version of the servants were better, too. The castle was so beautiful. I’m rambling, but the bottom line is that I held the original as an unassailable classic in my mind, and I liked this new one more. So, for the first time (and I swear on the fate of my immortal soul the last time) I’m going to change my rating. From here on out, Beauty and the Beast will be rated 🥀🥀🥀🥀🥀🥀🥀🥀🥀. I don’t feel great about wavering like this, but I can’t in good conscience leave it as it was.

So, uhhh, how about those sport games last night?