Many People Are Wondering Where Jonas Valanciunas Fits in to the NBA’s Eastern European Crime Syndicate

Unfortunately for the viewing public, the Raptors beat the Bucks handily in Monday night’s pivotal game 5. It would be surprising if they didn’t win the series, meaning we, as a nation, will be subjected to at least four more games of slow, iso-based, boring possessions that end in a Demar Derozan mid-ranged jumper, a Kyle Lowry miss, or a forced Serge Ibaka 3. It’ll be great watching them fail miserably against Cleveland. Just great. But, while everyone else is watching the visual-Ambien that is Toronto Raptors basketball, I’ll be paying attention to one man- Jonas Valanciunas. It’s taken a lot of hard investigation and dangerous undercover work, but I’m just about ready to go public with his exact role in the NBA’s Eastern European crime syndicate known as The Drazen’s Head. Never heard of them? Consider yourself lucky. Just hearing the name of the organization is enough to put your life at risk. It’s only a matter of time until Pero Antic shows up on my doorstep. What’s their racket? Drugs? Weapons? Gambling? Human trafficking? Fundamentally sound passing? A little bit of everything, if we’re being honest. They’ve terrorized the NBA underworld for far too long, and it’s about time someone blew the lid off this thing. I’ve spent years of my life infiltrating their ranks and earning their trust, and it’s time I release my findings. It’s a complex hierarchy, but I’ve managed to meet almost every noteworthy member of the Drazen’s Head.

The Mastermind

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Vlade Divac- Who else could it be? What’s the old saying? “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was to convince the world he didn’t exist?” Well, the greatest trick Vlade ever pulled was to convince the world he was an idiotic buffoon incapable of intelligent thought or decision making. You can believe Vlade to be the bumbling GM of the Kings who would trade DeMarcus Cousins for Buddy Hield, but I know the truth. I’ve seen the real Vlade. Born on the war-torn streets of Serbia (to save myself some time, just assume everyone from here on out was born on war-torn streets), he was raised by violence. He was always destined for evil, but his size, strength, and, above all, his intellect quickly brought him to the top of Yugoslavian organized crime. When he moved to the U.S., it was time for him to start his own family. It started out small-time, but as the NBA grew more international, his influence grew. As ruthless as he is smart, the chaos that surrounded him in his early life gave him a insatiable desire for control. Even though the Drazen’s Head has expanded exponentially over the years, he still has a hand in everything. No decision is made without his approval. And if you cross him? Well, just think about what happened to Andris Biedrins. And, of course, as a respected crime leader, he never goes anywhere without his bodyguard.

Nikola Pekovic- Besides the obvious- size, brute strength, intimidation factor- no one is quite sure how Pekovic rose to such a prominent role in the organization. He’s not particularly smart of business-savvy. What separates him from the other muscle that makes up the majority of the Drazen’s Head’s ranks? Does he have dirt on Vlade? Not likely. Vlade is too careful to allow someone like Pek to blackmail him. My thoughts? It’s pretty simple: he’s resourceful and Vlade trusts him. He knows he can control him and he knows he has Pek’s undying loyalty. So, despite coming to the NBA twenty years after Vlade and being little more than an elevated grunt, there he is at the top of the Drazen’s Head. He’s at every big meeting. He’s with Vlade for every big decision. He helps move product. He helps collect debts. He’s an intimidator and an enforcer and, in Vlade’s eyes, one of the most important members of the Drazen’s Head. Don’t let his looks fool you. If you go in to an encounter with Pek without a precise plan of attack, he’ll destroy you. I’ve seen what he does to Vlade’s enemies, and friend, you don’t want to be on the other end of it.

The Consigliere

Peja Stojakovic- When Peja was hired by the Kings to be the GM of their D-League team, no one batted an eye. He’s a legend in Sacramento and BFFs with Vlade, after all. But I knew the real reason Vlade needed his old running mate close-by. Peja has served as Vlade’s right hand man since the moment the two met. Peja has the perfect personality to serve as the consigliere to the Drazen’s Head leader- he’s patient, quick on his feet, wise, and always knows how to walk Vlade off the edge. Many people owe their lives to Peja convincing Divac to spare them (only if it benefitted the Drazen’s Head, of course). Most importantly to Vlade, though, is the fact that Peja is unambitious. Much like his playing career, Peja is just fine being the second or third option, so Vlade knows he has nothing to worry about from his most trusted advisor. He consults him on just about everything, from who they should blackmail to where he should eat lunch.

The Up-and-Comer

Nikola Jokic- It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Much like Michael at the beginning of The Godfather, Jokic was supposed to be the one that went legitimate. But circumstances change, and now he’s flying through the Drazen’s Head ranks with record speed. It’s no mystery why, either: Vlade sees himself in Jokic. He has the same business acumen, the same strategic genius, the same ambition to become more than the situation he was born into. It’s not uncommon to see Vlade take Jokic with him to big meetings so he can see how the business truly operates. There’s little doubt of where Jokic’s future is headed. The only question is, when it comes time for him to be the head of a crime syndicate, will he start his own family or try and take over the Drazen’s Head. I just hope he doesn’t underestimate Vlade.

The Hitman

Pero Antic- The ultimate eraser. If Vlade wants someone dead, the Macedonian Monster usually doesn’t waste too much time. I’ve had the great fortune of never meeting him in person, because the list of people who have and are still around to talk about it starts and ends with Vlade Divac. All the information I have on him is solely based on whispers and hearsay. Some say he’s never missed a shot. Some say he once killed five men in a minute with nothing but a gardening shovel. Some say the sun sets because it’s afraid of seeing what he’ll do at night. Some say he served as the main inspiration for John Wick. I say if you ever hear the name Pero Antic you run as far in the other direction as possible.

The Foreign Correspondent

Zydrunas Ilgauskas- Obviously, since the Drazen’s Head is, at its core, an Eastern European organization and do much of their business there, they need someone watch over their overseas holdings. That’s where Big Z comes in. In the absence of Vlade, he’s responsible for making sure they remain a well oiled machine. That involves overseeing production, arranging transportation of both men and products, serving as a dispatching officer for the many members of the Drazen’s Head who are no longer in the NBA, and making sure no one forgets that Vlade is always watching. Sure, Z might seem like a slow, lurching, Frankenstein-esque science experiment, but that’s because he is. He’s also fiercely loyal and wouldn’t even consider making a decision without consulting Vlade. Known to randomly kill one Drazen’s Head member with his bare hands a year to keep up appearances, Z essentially serves as a vassal for Vlade’s indomitable will and is willing to do anything to stay in his good graces (and to keep his position).

The Young Guys

Kristaps Porzingis, Sasha Pavlovic- Watch any show or movie about the drug trade and you’ll notice there’s always a younger guy doing a lot of the ground work- moving product, recruiting new blood, organizing deals, and keeping an eye out for the law. These two are the head Young Guys for the Drazen’s Head, with Kristaps taking over the main U.S. operation and Pavlovic moving to Europe. Sasha was Vlade’s first runner when he first came to the NBA, but within a few years the culture gap limited how much action the Drazen’s Head could really get in the league. But, since he still looks exactly the same (i.e., like every young Eastern European mobster ever), he resumed his same duties when he went back to Europe, and, needless to say, is doing very well.

Kristaps fits the role perfectly. As a guy who spent much of his childhood with cornrows and has pretty much dropped his accent to pick up a Brooklyn one, he’s more…relatable than most other members of the Drazen’s Head. Add in his influence in New York City and you have a very valuable member of the organization. Drazen’s Head business has soared in the short time Kristaps has been in America. The other players around the league find him likable, and it gives him an inside track to fulfilling their recreational needs. He’s recruited countless new runners and dealers, and is beginning to establish himself among the higher ranks of the Drazen’s Head. The only thing that could hold him back is the lack of a mean streak.

The Driver

Sarunas Jasikevicius- Every criminal organization has a driver. He drives the getaway car, pilots the private jet, steers the boat, flies the helicopter, you name it. A grease monkey who has earned Vlade’s complete trust, Sarunas handles all of the Drazen’s Head’s transportation needs. To eliminate middle men, Vlade sends him to Europe with the Drazen’s Head’s custom plane every time they need to bring something over to America. He’s Vlade’s chauffeur. He’s evaded the police so many times he can do it in his sleep. He can drive (and fix) anything. He’s not much of a thinker or a bruiser, but not everyone can be the kingpin.

The Tinkerer

Andrei Kirilenko- Just about the only place on Earth Vlade Divac is hesitant to tread is Andrei Kirilenko’s lab. The Drazen’s Head’s chief chemist and weapons engineer, Kirilenko is responsible for just about all of their movable product. Never satisfied and more than willing to use himself as a test subject, AK47 is a true mad scientist. During his career with the Drazen’s Head, he personally claims four of the five deadliest heroin outbreaks in U.S. history as his own creation. Recently delving into meth, Kirilenko’s lab has become dangerous for only the most cautious and cognizant. Earning his nickname long before choosing to wear number 47, Kirilenko is also a weapons and explosives expert who has thirteen different patents on 9mm handguns alone. He’s a bonafide genius and master gunsmith, as well as a world-class marksman. You’d think someone like this would have more power, but the eccentric Kirilenko much prefers his lab toys to the company of others, and is far more concerned with his next invention than making money for the organization.

The Enforcers

Jusuf Nurkic and his dad, Marcin Gortat- If you’ve ever seen an NBA player of Slavic descent, you know that the vast majority of them fall into the ranks of the Drazen’s Head’s most abundant resource- hired muscle. From Miroslav Raduljica to Rasho Nesterovic to Jake Tsakalidis to Boban Marjanovic, the Drazen’s Head is rife with huge, hulking strongmen who can rip a man in half with their bare hands. Many contribute the Drazen’s Head’s rise to the brute force and intimidation of most of their foot soldiers. They’re the ones collecting debts, delivering packages, and spreading fear in the name of the Drazen’s Head. But despite their loyalty to their leader, surely Vlade can’t monitor his troops 24/7. Who enforces the enforcers? Well, after a nearly successful coup was lead by former Drazen’s Head goon Zaza Pachulia (I’ll spare you the details on why he’s a former member), Vlade decided to appoint two generals to act as governors and ombudsmen in his stead. His first choice was a seven foot, 400 pound Bosnian riot cop who once beat up 14 men at once. It just so happened that Hariz Nurkic had a son in the NBA. Forming the ultimate fire and ice duo, Hariz, the stoic, immovable golem, and Jusuf, the brash, immovable braggart, the Nurkic Boyz are some of the Drazen’s Head’s most powerful weapons. Capable of defeating an entire battalion by themselves, no one dares cross them. They earn the respect of their underlings with one stern look, and have even contributed some useful ideas from time to time. They employ absolutely brutal tactics against their enemies. Speak to them at your own risk. His second selection was the Polish Hammer, Marcin Gortat. Where the Nurkics’ earn loyalty out of fear, Gortat earns it out of devotion. A father to his men, Gortat is quick with a joke or a helping hand, but is always the first one in the fray when something needs to be done. He leads by example, and has no problem getting in one of his men’s faces and ripping them a new one, because he knows he can build them back up stronger than before. Even the business owners he holds up for payment rave about him. He has no doubt extended his time at the top of a dangerous game thanks to his new toy, Przemek Karnowski.

The Cleaner

Jonas Valanciunas- For years, I paid no mind to Jonas. I just thought he was more muscle. After all, the only times I saw him he was leaving the scene of a hit or shootout. With so many other power players, why concern myself with yet another huge goon? Well, I started to notice something when I never saw him with any of the other guys. He never ate with them, never drank with them, nothing. I asked a couple of guys about him and they hardly knew his name. Having infiltrated pretty deep into the Drazen’s Head at this point, I knew he was the last piece of the puzzle. The last mystery to be solved. Acting on a hunch, I went with a party going to take out an important member of a rival gang. My first such mission, I decided to feign an injury so I could sit and observe. We lost the element of surprise quickly, and a firefight broke out. Just as quickly, it ended when Boban went on a rampage and destroyed everything in the house and mutilated the bodies of our mark and his associates. Almost on cue, Jonas entered the room. Everyone fell silent and started to leave. He looked around the room, then looked at me. He gave me a nod that said “either leave now or be prepared to help me do whatever it is I’m about to do.” I didn’t waste any time hightailing it out of there. The next day, I went back to the house and found no trace that we were even there. The furniture was replaced, the bullet holes were filled, the bodies were gone, the blood stains removed, it was a modern miracle. There wasn’t even a note in the paper about the deaths. I have absolutely no idea how he did it, but he made everything disappear. I went on three more of these missions and every time it was the same thing. We’d go in and shoot up the place, he’d come in and clean it up. It’s magic, the speed at which he works. I can’t imagine how much money and headache he’s saved the Drazen’s Head by eliminating legal problems before they begin. At great risk to my own safety, I was able to look at the Drazen’s Head’s payroll, and a mysterious entity known only as “JV” was the fourth highest paid member. The lower ranking guys I talked to about it were dumbfounded. Even the most in-the-know couldn’t figure it out. Well, I think I understand it now. And it’s definitely money well spent.

It feels good to get all of this off my chest. The results of a lifetime spent undercover for one of the most dangerous crime syndicates in the world. Fear not, I used an alias, so it might be a while until they trace this back to me. Their technology is still from the late 90s, and I’m not sure if they have access to Google yet. To be safe, I burned all of my adidas track suits, random Serbian league soccer jerseys, Drakkar Noir, and gold chains. Depending on how quickly the FBI moves, I may have to go into witness protection. Only problem is, I’m not sure a government safe house could protect me from the Macedonian Monster.

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I Guess I’m Not an NHL Expert ☹️

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Soooo, yeah. First round of the NHL playoffs officially ended yesterday and my predictions didn’t do too great. I’m trying to spin this into a positive, but I’m coming up empty. 2 out of 8 isn’t good no matter what you’re talking about. Even my beloved Bruins, who, as everyone knows, I’ve written about extensively in the past, shit the bed against an inferior team. Actually, maybe I am an NHL expert now that I think about it. The NHL Playoffs are known for being unpredictable. They’re built on the philosophy that anything can happen if you get in. There’s literally no difference being the one seed or the eight seed. It’s like March Madness, and unpredictability is just as important to the NHL as the Sacred Hand Shake Line. So really, correctly predicting the outcome of a series is worse for the game than getting things right. If I can get everything right, then the NHL will become what it hates: the NBA. If the better teams consistently win and prove that performing well in the regular season actually matters and has an advantage, why would Hockey Guys even care anymore? It’s all about the Crazy Tournament, bro. The NHL should thank me. They should award me with the Lady Byng Trophy this year. I should be enshrined in the Hall of Fame for Special Contributions to the Game. Getting six series wrong is really like getting six series right. I should become a new champion for Online Hockey Guys. I’ve arguably done more for hockey than Gretzky at this point.

Alright, I’m Back. I’m a hockey expert again and I’m pumped up. Let’s tackle these Second Round Series.

East

Washington Capitals vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

Part of me is nervous for the Choker’s Club, since usually if a team like the Caps holds off the clear signs of an epic, epic collapse in round one, they can recover and go on a run. But, they’re playing the Penguins, who they always lose to. And if they somehow win, odds are they’ll be playing the Rangers, who they always lose to. I’m feeling good about the Caps, folks. No need to worry.

Prediction: Penguins in 6

New York Rangers vs. Ottawa Senators

I don’t really know how the Bruins lost to the Senators, because they suck. Besides Karlsson (who was apparently playing with a broken foot all series. Funny how these injuries that hockey players are “quietly fighting through” always get leaked so everyone can tell them how tough they are), they don’t really have any skilled players, everyone’s just tough and tries hard. Well, that was supposedly the Canadiens’ big thing this year. They had the toughness and added some players who are actually good. And the Rangers should have beat them at least a game earlier. This one could be over quick.

Prediction: Rangers in 4

West

Nashville Predators vs. St. Louis Blues

When I think hockey, the first two cities that come to mind are Nashville and St. Louis. Who will win this historic series of longtime NHL powers? Nashville certainly looked like the team to beat in round one. I mean they totally dominated the Blackhawks. They didn’t have a chance to win a game. It looked like a college team going up against a high school team. They were completely superior in every way, and had all the ingredients you look for in a potential Stanley Cup Champion. Which is why I’m positive St. Louis will win this series.

Prediction: Blues in 7

Anaheim Ducks vs. Edmonton Oilers

The Ducks are just so forgettable. They easily swept the Flames, but no one is even considering talking about them. They’ve been the same solid team for years now. They also lose in the second round every year. The Oilers, on the other hand, are awesome. They’re fast, skilled, and young. In sports, teams like the Oilers usually have success against teams like the Ducks. Considering the Oilers are one of two teams I correctly predicted to advance, I think I’ve got a pretty good handle on them.

Prediction: Oilers in 6

MLB Thoughts

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As you’ll all surely remember, I spent way too much of my time breaking down every division in baseball before the season began. Well, now that we’re about 20 games in, I’d say we can clearly see how this season is going to go and that absolutely nothing will change. Since baseball doesn’t really lend itself to the big, juicy storylines basketball and football do on a daily basis, I think the best way to handle my award-winning baseball coverage is just a brain dump every couple weeks or so. Some rapid fire takes on the first few weeks of the season:

  • First off, I have to put this here:

If you’ll excuse me, I need a few minutes to myself

  • I’d like to congratulate myself for having the foresight to take Eric Thames in the 20th round of my fantasy draft. They always say you can’t teach height and you can’t teach speed, well you also can’t teach a champion’s intuition.
  • While we’re here, I’m getting sick of everyone being so jaded about everything. It’s mostly led by the Unwritten Rules Gestapo and John Lackey who can’t understand why someone who hit 40 homers a year in Korea can hit meatballs thrown right down the middle out of a major league ballpark. I don’t know, John, maybe because he’s clearly got Luke Cage-like strength and you’re grooving a dick-high fastball down the heart of the plate at like 91 mph. Maybe that’s why he took you deep?  Why don’t you go leave your wife when she has cancer again, asshole. Baseball can be so annoying at times like this. When Jeremy Lin came out of nowhere, the NBA celebrated him and promoted him and he became an international star. Baseball gets a great story (guy couldn’t hack in the bigs, goes to Korea and dominates, then comes back and starts hitting longballs left and right, showing he always had the talent) and instead of embracing him, they start lobbing steroid accusations at him and look for any way to discount his success. Great job, MLB! No point in capitalizing on a great opportunity to appeal to Korean fans who might want to follow him to the majors or giving the people of Milwaukee something to be happy about this season since he’s probably cheating anyway! And people wonder why Mike Trout ranks 10th in jersey sales. Baseball is just totally clueless when it comes to marketing and promotion, and making games shorter isn’t going to change that.
  • Taking a quick look at the standings, and who is that at the top of the NL West? The Colorado Rockies? In first place? And they’ve allowed the fourth fewest runs in the National League? Did anyone predict that? Oh, wait, I did? Weird how that worked out.
  • Since I know everyone is dying to know about my player in MLB 17 The Show, here’s a quick career recap: I was drafted by the Pirates as a power hitting outfielder, which I wasn’t thrilled about, but I wasn’t about to go to college and come in to the league as an old man, so I accepted it. I was such a stud they called me up to the majors in June and I won Rookie of the Year at the ripe age of 18. Midway through my second season, I was traded to Oakland for some reason, which I was fine with, since if I have to be stuck somewhere for 6 years, might as well be somewhere I can look good. The team sucked but I was playing well. Then, after like a month, they trade me to Tampa Bay. Add in a season ending injury after the All Star break, and, needless to say, I was unhappy with my situation. But I just finished my third season, where the team predictably was under .500 and I hit 51 homers. Were my other numbers like on base percentage, strikeouts, and fielding percentage just as good? Well, it’s hard to say. But my confidence is riding high, even if I have to spend the next four goddamn years playing in Tropicana Field.
  • “Blue Jays are the best team in the American League East!”tenor
  • We don’t really need to talk about the Rangers and Mariners sucking, right? I mean people are allowed to get a few things wrong.
  • Is Bryce Harper Back? Sure looks like it.
  • Remember when Avisail Garcia was supposed to be the next Miguel Cabrera and then everyone bailed on him because he sucked? Well, jokes on you because now he’s going to hit .400 this year. Glad I never left the bandwagon.
  • Shout out to fellow UConn Husky George Springer for hitting a million leadoff home runs. His mother and I are very proud of him.
  • I know the Braves are trash but do people realize how good Freddie Freeman is? He’s pretty much been the best player in the NL since last year’s All Star break. 259 OPS+ to start the year.
  • R.I.P. Starling Marte fantasy owners.
  • I really like how many pirate puns the Pirates’ broadcast team uses every game.
  • Am I worried about what the Red Sox are going to do at third base since it looks like Pablo Sandoval isn’t Back? A little. Am I worried that Mookie Betts cares more about not striking out than hitting home runs? Kind of. Am I worried that David Price seemingly wants to get surgery so he can steal $30 million this year? Yes. Yes I am.
  • What were the designers thinking when they made the backs of the Diamondbacks’ jerseys a darker shade of gray than the already dark shade of gray they use for their away jerseys? It makes the black numbers virtually illegible. If they just used a normal gray they’d look fine.
  • Every time I pull up Padres highlights and hear Don Orsillo dejectedly call the action in front of a half-full NL West crowd I just get depressed. Then I hear him start to crack up with Mark Grant more than he used to with Jerry Remy and I get mad at Red Sox ownership again.
  • Yes, the Yankees have started out great. Somehow I heard about it. But instead of rolling my eyes at the typical, Joba-esque media driven hype train, I’ll remind everyone that I said before the season that they’d make the playoffs before the season started.

I think that’s all I got for now. Sorry for not breaking down last night’s Braves-Phillies game. Maybe next time.

There’s a Chance I May Be Living by Cursed Water

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source– Settled just about 5 feet below the surface of the water in the shadow of the Stratford Avenue Bridge, three ships from the early 20th century lie undisturbed and slowly disintegrating.

The three ships’ stories of navigating waters did not end as tragically as other shipwrecks Nick DeLong has studied, but it’s just as important to preserve their history underwater, he said.

“There are only a few examples of (these canal barges) that we have and these three are stacked on top of each other,” said DeLong, who is a nautical archaeologist.

DeLong, along with John Bean, an ocean hydrographer, and Jeff Pydeski, a project scientist, both from Ocean Surveys, based in Southington, have been working to collect data on shipwrecks along the Connecticut coast for about two weeks, and Bridgeport Harbor was a recent stop. The surveys are helping them to better understand the state of the wrecks now and how the sites might be affected by future storms or other environmental factors.

“Super storms could pick up wrecks and move them,” DeLong said. “Hurricanes and the health of the seas can play a large role in where these wrecks are today.”

“The best we can do is understand it,” he noted.

The survey work is being financed by the state Historic Preservation Office, and R. Christopher Goodwin & Associates, where DeLong is based, has been tasked with analyzing the data collected at the shipwrecks. About $8 million in grants from the federal government was given to the SHPO after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 to be used to survey and collect data on historic sites along the coast that are at risk when major storms hit, according to Doug Royalty, the state Historic Preservation Office Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Grant coordinator. These sites have been both on land and underwater.

While it’s unlikely Superstorm Sandy made a large impact on the three Bridgeport Harbor ships, DeLong said the data available on the three boats will be more complete now.

Alright, I’m going to start by saying I realize this isn’t exactly a national or pressing issue. If you don’t live within 10 miles of the Brian’s Den this doesn’t affect you at all. But, it very much affects me, which, in turn, affects you. So, whether you like it or not, you need to care about Milford, Connecticut, if only for the next five minutes. Anyway, now that that’s established, on to the matter at hand.

Despite never signing up for it or expressing any desire to receive it, I still get the Milford-Orange Bulletin delivered to my door. Usually, I just toss it. For someone with such a wide scope of interest, small town news means next to nothing for me. But this time, something caught my eye. The front page read “Scientists conduct survey of shipwrecks in harbor.” I paused. Anything ocean- or boat-related will always hold my attention. The more I read, the more concerned I got. These scientists weren’t just looking at a random boat at the bottom of a river. This was a bonafide ship graveyard. And they’re going to blame things like storms? Are you kidding? Three ships don’t just sink in the exact same place like that. No, I can already read your mind. Who cares? It’s all just random. What’s the big deal? Well, friend, if I lived somewhere else, this wouldn’t be a big deal at all. The only problem is, I live a stone’s throw from Charles Island.

Never heard of Charles Island? I’m not surprised. It’s not the kind of place the mainstream media wants you to know about. Well, start by reading this. Go ahead, I’ll wait. You done? Do you see why I’m concerned? This tiny patch of land, less than five minutes from where I live, has been hit with three of the most powerful curses known to man. Cursed Pirate treasure. Cursed South American Treasure. And, the coup de grâce, it’s ancient Native American land. People disappear around it. People come back from the island making crazy claims about flaming specters. People die on the island. I walked along the beach during the Blood Moon in 2015. When I saw the island, a chill ran through my core. The air was thick with a macabre energy. I could feel the presence of the countless phantoms and dark spirits that live on the island. The shadow creatures that call the hidden caverns underneath the island home were skating across the ice cold water like Apolo Anton Ohno. Though the strip of land connecting the island to the mainland would have soon been exposed, I didn’t have the guts to stick around and wait. The island’s curse is as real as real can get. There’s not a doubt in my mind the island caused all of those shipwrecks. Those three ships are the tip of the iceberg. I bet if you dive to the ocean floor anywhere close to Charles Island and you’d find a thick layer of decaying ships. I’m not opposed to blaming every New England shipwreck on Charles Island. Considering the power of the three curses, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bermuda Triangle is somehow related.

So what does it all mean? Well, it put my plans of buying a boat and living off the ocean on hold until I move a little farther away. In fact, I may need to scrap them altogether. I’ve swam in those waters. Am I cursed now? Will this follow me wherever I go? I don’t feel cursed, but maybe it’s dormant. What happens the next time there’s a blood moon? Do I have to start sleeping with one eye open in fear of whatever demonic denizens of the dark depths around Charles Island come knocking on my door? Am I living the plot of Pirates of the Caribbean 6? How much longer do I have to live? I hope they wait until the Patriots go undefeated again before they brutally murder me. I already know I have no way of lifting this curse-it’s powers are way beyond my abilities. My chances of survival are thinner than LeBron’s hair. The only chance I might have is to try and outrun it. Next time there’s any kind of eclipse I pretty much have to go off the grid. Go as far away from Charles Island as humanly possible. But I’ve got a feeling it’ll catch up to me even if I’m halfway around the world. I never should have left Vermont.

The Celtics Make Me Sad

NCAA Basketball: Butler at Fordham

The Celtics were never going to win the Championship this year. Anyone who thought they had any chance in today’s NBA landscape is a fool. Anyone who thought they should mortgage the future to try and “win-now” is also a fool. They’re not beating Cleveland with Jimmy Butler. They’re not beating Cleveland with a few months of Paul George. And they’re certainly not beating Cleveland by trading one of the Nets picks for half a season of Serge Ibaka. People thought they should have given up a first round pick for Serge Ibaka! Are you serious? In this year’s draft class, would Ibaka be a top four pick? Hellllllllll, no. Besides the fact that DeMarcus Cousins and Nerlens Noel, two players they definitely could use, got moved for absolutely nothing, and the fact that they haven’t been able to rebound since 2010, keeping the assets at the deadline was the smart move. I was fine with however deep into the playoffs they went. Assuming they got out of the first round, that is.

The Celtics are about to become the first number one seed to ever get swept in the first round. They’ve been absolutely dominated by a crappy Bulls team that was the eight seed for a reason. Besides Isaiah Thomas, everyone should be ashamed of themselves. By the way, as someone who has been very harsh on Playoff Isaiah (comparing anyone to Playoff Kyle Lowry might have been the meanest thing I’ve ever written), if you come out of this postseason with anything but respect for Isaiah, something’s wrong with you. To have to deal with something like that and come back and play, let alone play well, is something not many people could do. Anyway, every weakness the Celtics have has been quickly exposed: they can’t rebound, they can’t defend the paint, they can’t really shoot, no one but Isaiah can score, and everyone’s (mostly Marcus Smart’s) shot selection has been horrible. They’re going to lose to the eight seed, and it’s going to be embarrassing. But again, I knew the Celtics weren’t winning the title. Besides the pain of losing in the first round, I don’t mind (that much) losing early to avoid getting let down later. What I’m worried about is GM Danny Ainge panicking and trying to change everything to win right away. Now that they won 53 games with an incomplete roster awaiting a star from the draft, might as well throw away that potential for draft success so you can trade for Andre Drummond, right? That’ll push them over the top! LeBron just had one of his best statistical seasons this year. He’s not going anywhere for a few years. It’s okay to let the team marinate organically until he’s gone. Considering the nature of Boston fans, a win-now move is going to be called for enthusiastically. The impatient rabble of Bostonians who are used to having one of the best teams in the league won’t be happy to sit and wait for young guys to develop. After all, Dave Dombrowski works in the same town. But it’s the right move. And I think Ainge is smart enough to realize it. The only problem is, he’s the worst drafter in the history of mankind.

It’s easy to say now, but they could have Giannis, Draymond Green, Nikola Jokic, Khris Middleton, and Jimmy Butler as a starting five. He traded up to get Kelly Olynyk. He passed on Draymond, Middleton, and Jae Crowder, who they traded for a mere two years later, so he could take Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo (R.I.P.) back to back. He took Marcus Smart, he of the under 30% career 3 point shooting percentage (but he plays good defense!) over Julius Randle, whose 9.4 career rebounds per game might help them right now, Zach LaVine, who was breaking out as a creative scorer before getting hurt this year, Jusuf Nurkic, who emerged as an interior force in the second half of the season, Rodney Hood, who can actually shoot 3s, and Nikola Jokic, who, to be fair, was an unknown Euro who fell to the second round. He took Terry Rozier, who stinks, over Bobby Portis, who is currently destroying the Celtics this series, then took R.J. Hunter over Montrezl Harrell and Willy Hernangomez, both of whom would be the best rebounder on the team. HE TOOK J.R. GIDDENS OVER DEANDRE JORDAN!!! It’s too early to judge this year’s draft class, but they sure could use the shooting Buddy Hield or Jamal Murray showed this season. That’s a horrible track record. It’s the worst carnage these eyes have ever seen. And I’m supposed to trust this man to make the most important draft decision in 20 years? On the off chance the Celtics don’t get screwed in the lottery, he’s probably going to take Isaiah Hartenstein number one overall. No one in the world loves anything more than Danny Ainge loves acting like he outsmarted everyone. He could have had the top pick in 2003 and would have taken Chris Kaman just because everyone would have expected him to take LeBron. The opportunity is going to be there to take Markelle Fultz, easily the best player in this class, and he’s going to pass on it because he’s an arrogant dumbass who would rather die than make the conventional pick. Literally nothing that has happened since the 2008 title tells me I should trust Danny Ainge in the draft. Avery Bradley is the only pick that unquestionably worked out. Every other first round pick either sucks or was taken before a franchise-altering player that could have them in position to maybe compete against LeBron one of these years. The Knicks and Nets both have better recent draft records than the Celtics, and the Nets haven’t had a pick since Lyndon B. Johnson was in office. No one in the world is worse at anything than Danny Ainge is at drafting good NBA players. But, hey, they have a lot of picks! It has to work out! Not with him calling the shots. Just let me make all the draft picks. I’ll only take the obvious guy, and if it doesn’t work out, history will be kind to me since I did the consensus thing. Not trade up to get an unathletic, short armed, white Canadian over Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is literally the exact opposite of that description. But whatever, at least the Red Sox are good.

Old Packet of McDonald’s Szechuan Sauce sells for over $14k

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source– A 20-year-old dipping sauce from McDonald’s sold for nearly $15,000 after a mention in the show Rick and Morty. 

A listing for the Szechuan sauce, which was released as a promotional product for the Disney movie Mulan, closed with a winning bid of $14,700.

“I just bought a really old car, while cleaning it I found a packet of this sauce.,” the listing states. “After watching the recent episode of Rick and Morty I went online to see if it was worth anything. Turns out it was. Also this comes with a packet of wasabi as well.”

The premiere of Rick and Morty’s third season featured main character Rick citing the sauce as his series arc even “if it takes nine seasons.” The episode spurred fans to petition McDonald’s to bring back to sauce, especially as a live action-version of Mulan is set to be released in 2018.

Several petitions have been added on Change.org, the largest with over 35,000 signatures.

Some quick background on this: during the season 3 premiere of Rick and Morty which was aired on April 1st, Rick mentioned how he missed this Szechuan Sauce (Rick and Morty Review: It’s very good. Rating: 🚀🚀🚀🚀🚀🚀🚀🚀🚀). Since Rick and Morty has such a strong cult following, it’s only natural that people would take this idea and run with it. There’s a petition and everything. Knowing how the fast food world works, I have to commend the guy that sold this for cashing in on it before McDonald’s inevitably brings it back. Flipping an old packet of dipping sauce you randomly found that’s either toxic or completely fine at this point (not sure which is a worse scenario) for basically $15,000 when it’s going to be on sale for less than 50 cents within the month is some true thievery. Whoever bought it might be the dumbest person who ever lived, or at least someone with absolutely no foresight or experience when it comes to the fast food industry. Anything with a petition is almost always brought back. McDonald’s brought the McRib back like, 100 times and literally five people in the world were clamoring for it. I’m thinking of petitioning Burger King to bring back their green apple slime dipping sauce they had when I was a kid. And to go back to the old style of chicken nuggets when they were just strips and were good. They were way better than Chicken Fries and these cheap nuggets they have now. If I had more than ten friends I could probably get a bunch of signatures for both things and become the hero that Made Burger King Great Again. You really think McDonald’s is going to ignore 35,000 signatures for something as easy to produce as a dipping sauce? I’m sure there’s only one or two different ingredients in it than their barbecue sauce, too. This is such a slam dunk PR stunt for them there’s virtually no reason for them not to do it. And you just spent $15,000 on one cup? You, sir, are an IDIOT.

I will say for the people who signed this petition, though, be careful what you wish for. Some things are better left in the rose-colored world of our memories. There’s a reason some things fade into the sunset. Just think of the saying “Never meet your heroes.” Remember Chicken Selects? During their first run I couldn’t get enough of them. When they brought them back, I had them once, they weren’t as good as I remembered, and I never considered getting them again. P’Zones were awesome when they were first around. Then they got discontinued and for some reason Pizza Hut brought them back. Now they’re pretty much poison. I never had this sauce when it was around so I don’t really have any idea of the flavor or anything, but I’d be willing to bet that the diehards out there who were the first to sign the petition might not be so thrilled that McDonald’s brought it back after they try it. This is just a piece of advice for the fast food industry and it’s consumers: let’s keep some things exclusive. You know what I haven’t really wanted in a while? McDonald’s breakfast. Once they made it all day there was no reason to go anymore. Waking up in a state of questionable health, realizing you only had 30 minutes, then making it there in time was such a rush. It was a high that helped get me through college. Now? Why go to McDonald’s early if I can get it all day? Might as well go to a real place for breakfast. When Burger King brought back Chicken Fries but then kept them permanently, there was no rush to go try them anymore since you knew they’d be there tomorrow. It’ll probably be the same thing with this sauce. Unless they slap it with a Limited Time Only label, after the first week no one’s gonna be scrambling to try the Szechuan Sauce. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Taco Bell is the only one that handles these the right way. They’ll introduce some crazy new menu item, get the buzz going, take it off the menu after about a week, replace it by bringing some beloved menu item back, get more buzz going, take it away after a week, rinse, repeat. They’re masters of continuing hype and leaving the people wanting more. McDonald’s? Not so much. They left the Big ‘N’ Tasty on the menu for a decade and sold less than ten of them. They don’t exactly have their finger on the pulse of what the consumers want. So I fully expect them to bring this sauce back, announce that they’re adding it permanently to their menu, and ruin any hype they had built up. Just par for the Mickey D’s course these days.

England’s Smallest Castle is up for Sale

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source– HERE’s a great chance to make your home an actual castle – for a mere £550,000.

This Grade II listed building appears to be the UK’s smallest castle, with just a single bedroom.

Molly’s Lodge once served as a gatehouse to the Weston Park Estate in Warwickshire.

It now sits surrounded by trees in on a 0.61 acre site near the village of Long Compton.

The pyramidal roof, mullion windows and limestone turrets certainly give it a strong, if squashed, appearance.

But though you might imagine a long history of defending the landscape, in fact the mini fort was constructed in the 1830s by Edward Blore.

The famous British architect also restored Lambeth Palace and completed the enlargement of Buckingham Palace for Queen Victoria.

At first glance, this place seems like the ideal place for the first International Brian’s Den. The quaint small-scale architecture. The charming, expansive garden. The tranquil lake, perfect to have my afternoon tea and crumpets next to. It looks like a nurturing environment for the type of strong takes the Brian’s Den is known for. But I’m a little hesitant to commit to this, though. Before I fork over 550,000 of my hard earned quid, I’ll need a full, comprehensive tour, because, as everyone knows, a castle is only as good as its secrets.

The first question I would have is is it haunted? Do the restless spirits of all those who were held in its hellish dungeon and executed in the courtyard roam the halls, harassing and attacking anyone unfortunate enough to step inside? Do specters of the fallen soldiers who lost their lives in the numerous battles for control over this all-important piece of land guard the gates, stinking down any unwanted visitor? Do the suits of armor that line the corridors have minds of their own? Is there a dangerous creature, created either by curse or experiment gone wrong, who now has free reign of the grounds, ever searching for its next meal? If yes, I’m out. And not for the reason you think. I could handle some ghosts. Once you live there for a while and establish you want the best for the castle, the phantoms will leave you alone. They may even come to respect you. They’ll fight you a little on the upkeep, since no self-respecting ghost will allow their castle grounds to look clean and healthy, but they might relent eventually. It’s mostly for the lack of privacy. Nothing draws curiosity like a haunted castle. Every night you’d have to deal with stupid kids looking for thrills. Every night you’d have to deal with lost travelers, since the only places they’ll ever stop are haunted castles, not the town a mile down the road. You’d have to deal with news crews looking for a story, authors looking to write a book, actors researching for a role, it’d be never ending. It’d be impossible to have a moment’s peace. How could I be expected to accurately predict the entirety of the NFL season and give in-depth movie reviews if I have to clean up a new pile of dead bodies every day? No thanks. If it’s haunted, someone else can have it.

The second most important thing is the basement. The gallery doesn’t show one, but I know it’s there. And I’m not talking about the basement that holds all the extra stuff or the wine cellar. I’m talking about the secret basement. The one that has a laboratory and magical knick knacks. Does this castle come with a live-in wizard? Will he take requests or just do whatever he wants? Or, even better, does it have the tools for me to become a wizard? Does the library have the forbidden tomes I need to master the dark arts? Does the lab have the right equipment for the various alchemical experiments I’m going to do? Will I have have access to all the various stones, bones, relics, and other sacred/accursed artifacts I need to make contact with other planes of existence? There’s no tower, so will I have a way to use lighting to power some of my bigger experiments? And are there any rival wizards close by? It’s a highly competitive community and I don’t want to get blindsided when some old warlock down the street comes in and trashed my lab out of jealousy.

Thirdly, what kind of defenses does this place have? There’s not really a moat or any kind of wall. Are there some trebuchets and ballistas in the shed? What about cauldrons so I can pour molten hot liquid on attackers? Are the doors strong enough to withstand a battering ram? Will I have some kind of militia? Does it even have an armory? Judging by the pictures, the odds of that don’t look so great. In fact, it doesn’t even look like it would come with a sharp set of knives or gardening tools. So if, for some reason, this castle doesn’t have some type of magical lair and, since in this scenario I’m the owner so we know it isn’t haunted, no supernatural forces are on my side, how am I supposed to ward off invaders? Is this castle built to survive a siege attempt? How much punishment can these walls take before they come crashing down? Not to sound ignorant about an area of land I may soon own, but what kind of landscape am I dealing with? Do I have any natural advantages or is it at the bottom of a valley with no access to anything? Is there even a throne room where I can make my final stand? If not, this castle might be next to useless. I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to pass on this. The search goes on for the first expansion opportunity.