My life is Perfect right now

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The Patriots won the Super Bowl last night. I don’t know if you heard, but they put together the greatest comeback in history. It was amazing. It changed my life forever. Maybe it’s just the high I have going right now, but my life couldn’t be better. Everything I ever knew about football and Tom Brady and Bill Belichick was confirmed. All the #h8ers were silenced after dancing on the Patriots’ grave for two and a half hours. I improved my red-hot postseason record to 8-4. Now that I think about it, football isn’t the only area of my life where things are looking good. Absolutely everything is coming up roses in the Brian’s Den.

Red Sox got Chris Sale

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For large portions of last night, I was pretty low. Devastated doesn’t even begin to describe it. After all, the team I had built my life around was getting annihilated in the Super Bowl. In my doldrums I was reaching for anything positive. Anything to lift my spirits even slightly. And I remembered that the Red Sox acquired Chris Sale, giving them the best starting pitching in the American League to go along with last season’s best offense. The prospect of a nearly guaranteed Red Sox title cut through my haze and gave me a weird mix of hope and shame. Then the Patriots won, and now I get to root for the Super Bowl champs and the World Series champs in the same year! Again! What did I do to get this lucky? I don’t know but I sure hope it doesn’t end anytime soon. Who am I kidding? This run will never end!

McDonald’s announces multiple Shamrock Shake Flavors

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Let me say this: if executed correctly, the chocolate Shamrock Shake could be the greatest innovation in fast food history. Better than the rodeo cheeseburger. Better than the breakfast crunchwrap. Better than the Double Down sandwich. Better, dare I say, than the Big Mac itself? Usually when things like this come out I’m both nervous and excited to try them because I don’t know if they’ll be good. I already know this will be amazing. There’s no two ways around it: it’s impossible to make this bad. The only question will be if it’s transcendent. My money’s on yes. I can’t wait to get my hands on one. I want this to replace the blood that runs through my veins. It’s like McDonald’s made this just for me. They knew I needed help last night, and now it’s only getting better. This will finally turn McDonald’s around. So now I get to root for the Super Bowl champions, World Series champions, and fast food champions. How did I get so lucky?

Mr. Clean says fat guys are back

So, if this commercial is to be believed, all I have to do is clean and I become a sex machine? Sounds good to me! Sure, I’m not what people call “cleanly,” but as Rocky says, anyone can change. If anyone notices a cleaning supply shortage, just know that I’m probably responsible. Cleaning and watching Harry in the afternoon. That’s what guys do, right? Anyway, after the short-lived dad bod craze of a few years ago, this just feels like the next step of a movement. Who cares about abs and muscles and being in shape anymore? Apparently not women! Looking good for overweight guys everywhere! How did I get so lucky?

John Wick 2 is almost out

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I don’t think I need to explain why this a huge deal. John Wick was a top ten action movie of all time, and now he’s back for more. I need more John Wick. When John Wick 6 comes out, I’ll be first in line. Why can’t they just let him retire? It really is like the universe just decided to give me everything at once. I mean, Pats title and John Wick 2 in a week? How did I ever get so lucky?

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Pats Win Super Bowl 51

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Unreal. Greatest night of my life. Easily. I don’t know if anything can ever top this. I don’t know if that even really happened. Down 21-0. 28-3. And they won 34-28. Unreal. I’m still speechless. Am I dreaming? Is any of this real life? Greatest comeback ever. Greatest game ever. Greatest moment in recorded history since the invention of pizza. I don’t know what I did to be this lucky.

A team has never overcome greater odds. Down by a million. Can’t get anything going or stop anything. My completely-obvious-in-hindsight choice of chips backfiring. I knew I was in for a fight when I took my first bite of Flamas. Arguably the worst thing I’ve ever eaten. Toasted Corn was the most unnecessarily salty tortilla chip ever made. I’ve never had a worse omen. It was all downhill from there. But the great ones make adjustments. I ditched the chips at half. I switched couches. Lady Gaga brought me new life. Then I blacked out and the Pats were champs. Not trying to take credit, but not trying to not take credit, either.

Tom Brady, man. So good. So good in the second half. Elevated to a plane of existence usually only reserved for Colt Brennan in the fourth quarter. Willed the team to the most improbable win of all time. I’d follow him into Hell without question knowing I’d come out safe on the other side. James White, huge, huuuuuuge performance. Falcons gave up the most receiving yards to opposing running backs in the league and it showed. Belichick is the greatest football, nay, human mind in history. I don’t even know what the coaching changes were yet. I lost the ability to form coherent thought with about 4 minutes left in the 3rd. But it worked. The defense once again proved it’s worth. Only gave up 21 points to the highest scoring team in the league. Only 7 in the second half. But they’re overrated, right?

Other takeaways: I had legitimate fits of PTSD when Julio Jones made that crazy catch. Working on four Super Bowls in a row where the other team pulls some absurd, otherworldly catch out of the deep recesses of their asses. This would have been easier to live with since it was a Hall of Fame receiver, not some nobody. But then something happened. Finally, finally, we got one. Julian Edelman made the luckiest, least repeatable, most nonsensical catch ever. Everyone in the stadium knew it was over then. Especially the Falcons. What a choke job. Epic choke. Legendary choke. No one has ever choked harder. They let the Warriors and Indians off the hook. Aggressive, disruptive defense became soft. Matty Ice, league MVP, with some of the most boneheaded plays in Super Bowl history. Hate to be mean to the dozens of diehard Atlanta sports fans, but there’s a reason Fox showed a graphic that said Boston had 36 (now 37) major championships and Atlanta had 1. Only a team from Atlanta could have lost this. The Bills couldn’t have blown this lead. This will haunt Samuel L. Jackson’s dreams until he dies. It’s just a loser sports town. Always has been, always will be. Falcons win 9 games, max, next year. If they even play. I wouldn’t be surprised if they just contracted the team.

I’m afraid to go to sleep because I don’t want to wake up tomorrow and find out tonight was a dream. If I ever find a woman foolish enough to want to have kids with me, I’ll tell them about this game at least once a week. Just unreal. Brady is God. Belichick is God. Kraft is God. Greatest night of my life.

Super Bowl Picks

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It’s finally here. The Super Bowl. The Big Game. It’s been a quiet two weeks from my perspective. Surprisingly there wasn’t a new Patriots cheating accusation. No one retiring after the game is played in his hometown. The coaches aren’t brothers. In fact, there’s been almost no storyline of any substance. This is like, the least hyped Super Bowl ever. There’s been nothing interesting. There’s been Atlanta vs. Boston music debates (hard to beat a city that produced Marky Mark). Roger Goodell was widely skewered for lying through his teeth about almost every question that came his way (What year is it?). People were so bored they just kind of talked about the fact that Julio Jones is good (Ya think?). There was no scandal, no incendiary talking points. There was almost too much actual football talk. Every possible scenario was discussed on NFL Live. I’m almost convinced at this point that the Pats are running a trick play for guard Joe Thuney. I’m getting cabin fever waiting for this game.

But that didn’t stop the Brian’s Den from getting fired up and ready to offer another pre-cognizant pick. The very few of you brave enough to read my entire Yu-Gi-Oh thesis were rewarded with my correct pick for the Pro Bowl. Since it’s technically a post-season game, we’re going to go ahead and count it as a win, which means I’m now 7-4. Or 6-1 after the Wildcard Round, which we established was merely a diversion. The Brian’s Den might as well be located on the side of a volcano it’s so hot. And don’t expect the roll to slow down any time soon. Especially when I can pad my stats with some prop bet wins.

New England Patriots vs. Atlanta Falcons (-3)

This is a game of opposites. Number one scoring offense vs. number one scoring defense. Haves vs. Have-nots. The Quarterback Demi-God (there is only one God) vs. Matt Ryan. Big, beefy LeGarrette Blount vs. the Lollipop Guild that plays defense for the Falcons. But it’s also a game between two similar teams. As different as they look, the two offenses share a lot in common. Multiple dynamic running backs, star receivers paired with multiple talented secondary options, (no, I don’t think Julian Edelman is as good as Julio Jones. But he’s a legitimate star number one receiver, especially in the playoffs. I guarantee he finishes with more receiving yards than Jones) and MVP caliber pocket passers. By now, you know all the matchups. Every key player’s life story. All the coaching tendencies: Belichick takes away the other team’s best option on offense (and defense- don’t expect a big game out of Vic Beasley) and the Falcons isolate mismatches while on offense better than anyone…except the Pats. Listen, I know I’m a homer, but I just don’t see it for the Falcons. This Patriots team is perfectly built to beat them. Big, strong offensive line with a big, strong running back vs. the smallest defense, like, ever. All the talk about how this Falcons offense should rightly be considered one of the best of this era. Well, the Patriots had the second best offense in the league, and, if you put stock in DVOA, the Pats are the best team in the league. The Patriots defense is good enough to get the few stops necessary to get the win. They’re going to score at will. Gary Blount will have a monster game. They’ll drain the clock and bludgeon them all game. This just feels like a vintage Pats win, anyway. Everyone still says the Pats defense is overrated even after they completely shut down the last greatest offense of all time they played. Everyone’s rooting against them. Matt Ryan will be named MVP. It all adds up to a vintage Pats blowout win. Plus, can you really see the Atlanta Falcons actually winning a Super Bowl, especially against the Patriots? Me neither.

(Full disclosure: I was in the store today stocking up on snacks for Sunday when a 2/$7 Doritos sign naturally caught my eye. Never one to turn down a deal, I knew I had to capitalize. I decided to go with two new (I think) flavors: some spicy flavor whose bag is written in Spanish for some reason and Toasted Corn, which from what I can tell is just plain Doritos with no dust (It’s such a bizarre concept I had to try it). I’m not naïve. I realize how risky it is trying new chip flavors during the Super Bowl, especially Doritos, which have such a pronounced gap between the good flavors and the bad (obviously nacho, cool ranch, and spicy nacho are the good. Everything else is the bad). I’m a creature of habit. I’m going to wear the same clothes I wore for the other two playoff games down to the underwear. I’m watching in the same room on the same couch. But now the snacks are different. If things go south for the Pats, I will take full responsibility for the loss. But that’s how committed I am to furthering my encyclopedic snack knowledge. It’s too important of a topic to throw a half-hearted top five at the end, so, if people want to be educated, I will commit a full post to the snacks you should be eating (hint: it shouldn’t be made by Lay’s.))

Pick: Patriots -3

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BONUS PROP BETS (lines from Bovada and OddsShark):

Luke Bryan anthem time 2:15- under -120

Coin Toss- Heads -105

First Touchdown- Malcolm Mitchell +2200

Lady Gaga’s first song- Born This Way +225

More passing yards- Matt Ryan -130

Number of times Trump is mentioned: 1.5- under -120

MVP- LeGarrette Blount +2000

Who Will MVP Thank First? Team/Teammates +200

What color liquid will be dumped? Blue +750

Over/Under: 59- Under

Burning Questions, round 2

A few nights ago I was watching Sportscenter as per usual, and two things caught my attention. The first was the fact that they were showing a random TCU basketball highlight. I don’t think I had ever seen TCU basketball highlights that didn’t involve a Kansas blowout or some superstar Big 12 prospect dominating, but there it was on my television. And while I was trying to wrap my mind around the reasonings behind a TCU basketball highlight package being broadcast, the TCU point guard demanded my attention. At first, I thought he was white. Then, I thought he was just light skinned. Then they showed his face and I saw he was actually albino. And no offense to my man Jaylen Fisher, the first jacked and tatted up albino guy I’ve ever seen, but he looked weird.

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Seeing him sent my brain into overdrive. Mostly because I just don’t understand how albinism even happens. Actually, hold on a second. I need to change the title of this blog.

Burning Question: How does albinism happen?

This is too important not to dive into, so we’re back with another round of Burning Questions. First one is simple: how do albinos exist? Wikipedia tells me there’s a list of genetic factors that lead to it, but my one weakness is that I am not, in fact, a geneticist, so it all seems like gibberish to me. I just don’t get how it happens. How does skin and hair forget to have color? Does the key gene in the complex sequence that makes up an animal just not show up? What makes a body not produce melanin?Things like this always have some evolutionary reason. But I feel like the first albino was probably feared and an outcast. How could they have passed on the gene? If it’s true people can carry the gene without having albinism, did people have the gene before the first actual albino? And if so, why? What’s the advantage of being whi- actually, let’s move on from that. Mostly, it just boils down to my uncultured mind being scared of things I don’t understand. And I certainly don’t understand albinism.

Where did words come from?

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Tower of Babel 

I think about this every time I see a word that I think is weird or when I think about different languages. Like why are there so many languages? Who was the first person to talk, and who was he talking to? Who was the first person to use words? Who was the first person to understand someone else’s words? Who decided what word meant what? Who decided that a spoken word meant the same as a written word? In my extensive schooling I learned about the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, which says language shapes our view of the world. For example, when I see a dog, I think it’s a dog because I know the word for dog. What did the ancient people think? What if whoever decided these things said that instead of dog, the word for man’s best friend was actually milk? (Side rant: how do people not know how to pronounce milk correctly? It’s the most simple, straightforward word out there and people still pronounce it a thousand different ways. I’ve heard people say malk, melk, molk, mælk, and everything in between. It’s spelled m i l k. Do people not know the sound the letter i is supposed to make? What causes so many people to butcher the easiest word in the English language?) What caused them to string letters (or whatever they used) together to form words? Who created the first different language? Why create a different language in the first place? It’s so hard. Some languages were created well after people in different parts of the world had contact with each other. Who has the gall to say I hate your words so much I’m going to change every single one of them even though they’ll mean the same thing? And why do dialects exist? Why alter a language everyone speaks just so you can be unique? Why make it harder on yourself? And how did the first person to translate things ever translate anything? How could anyone who didn’t know already possibly be able to tell you that želva is the Slovenian word for turtle? We’ve had language for thousands of years now. How is there still not a universal language? Everyone who writes a fantasy novel is able to create their own unique version of Elvish. No one can make a generic one for every human to use? And who was the first person with a name? Who came up with a word they liked so much they were going to call someone by it? And did people have pets during the development of language? If so, did they have names? What if someone got confused and dog was actually the name of someone’s pet, and the intended word for dog was actually Fido? Who decided that curse words were, in fact, curse words? Why does spoken language even exist at all? I think I just twisted my brain into three different pretzels.

Why doesn’t grape flavored stuff taste like grape?

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Kind of a short and sweet (maybe overly sweet? Get it?) Burning Question: Why do grape flavored things taste entirely different from actual grapes? They’re legitimately two different flavors. With the exception of blue raspberry, every traditional “fruit flavored” drink, candy, etc. at least kind of tastes like its inspiration. All these companies pass around the same recipes, so did the first guy to perfect grape flavoring never eat grapes before? Had he never seen a grape? Was he just going for what he thought the signature deep shade of purple tasted like? It’s so sweet and not grape-like. I’ve never eaten a grape and been like, “wow, this really tastes like that grape drink I got at the gas station the other day.” I can’t imagine anyone else has, either. Grapes are a top 5 fruit (in no particular order: grape, pineapple, blueberry, orange, apple. Limes would make the cut if you could actually eat them.) and deserve a better representation in our synthetic flavor market.

Reader Email: Is it even worth it being a guy anymore?

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We’re back with another reader email. Always an honor to hear from fans, especially when they have Burning Questions they need answered. We’ve got a juicy one today, coming from our old friend WhiteKong, who is just full of Burning Questions. He asks (with slight paraphrasing):

“With all these marches and protests going on, is there really any point in just being a guy anymore? It’s like no one cares how hard we have it. Like when a little pee leaks out even after you shake, or any of the other countless hardships I have to deal with on a daily basis. Bleak times for those with Y chromosomes.”

First of all, I’d like to give my condolences to WhiteKong’s pants. I’ve been there myself, and I know the inconvenience it causes. Now, to the question at hand. I can tell WhiteKong is in need of a friend. A shoulder to cry on. The first light of dawn during the long night that is 2017. Unfortunately, I don’t think I can give him the answers he’s looking for. After carefully considering all sides, I can say that, as of today, it’s no longer worth it being a guy.

 The world just doesn’t care about us anymore. It’s a painful conclusion to make, but sadly, a true one. There’s Women’s Marches every other day. Social media treats guys as constant punching bags. Women are now allowed to be popular, successful comedians. Every movie these days is just an all-female remake of an older movie. (I’m currently working on an all-male adaptation of Death Becomes Her. Look for me at the Oscars.) We’ve been pushed to the side. And as a newly marginalized citizen, quite frankly, I’m sick of it.

Everyone has conveniently forgotten how hard it is being a guy. The rigidity of what we’re supposed to like is overbearing. Women can literally admit to liking absolutely anything in the world and it’s met with applause. I say I love flowers and fruity drinks and daytime TV host Harry Connick, Jr. and I get harshly judged by everyone from here to Timbuktu. It makes me wonder how the world can be so unjust. And how about the expectations for what our bodies are supposed to be? Take me, for example. Due to my distinguished amateur eating competition career in high school, I’m always expected to eat a ton at parties, whether I want to or not, lest I risk being made fun of for not being able to eat as much as I could when I was 18. Guess what? I almost never feel like stuffing my face anymore, but I don’t want to become an outcast without a party trick. Where’s the march for me? And don’t even get me started on dealing with people accusing you of mansplaining. It’s become such a common phrase that a red line didn’t even appear underneath a made-up word. And while it’s certainly infuriating having a mansplaining accusation thrown at you for literally saying anything, mansplaining is really a catch-all for any of the thousands of phrases that replace the first syllable with man. They’re all so stupid and contrived and every single one of them makes me want to dive in front of an incoming 18 wheeler. I’d like to see a woman deal with a stupid phrase that starts with woman. Like womanplaining, which is when women complain online about things guys do by using a phrase that stars with man. But I’m getting too caught up in my emotions. The way to fight back against discrimination isn’t by lashing out in anger, it’s by peaceful and thoughtful protest. But we’re fighting a battle against impossible odds. Every action guys take is met with scorn and ridicule, no matter the intent. There are no right moves to make. No ways to win. It’s like being the husband of 20 years to the entire Internet. All that remains from a once loving relationship is contempt.

So there you have it, WhiteKong. There’s almost no point in being a guy anymore. How you continue on is a decision that each individual guy is going to have to make. I’m going to hold steady against the tide, trying to be the last beacon for those fellow guy lost in this new wilderness. When I’m the last guy remaining, who knows. I can only predict the future of football games. But I wish you luck, and I hope you know that at least one person out there still cares.

What do you think? Am I right? Wrong? Should I just kill myself for being a guy? Let me know your thoughts. The Brian’s Den is stronger when a whole pride is living inside. And always remember, if you have a Burning Question that needs answering, you know where to find me.

Lebron EVISCERATES Charles Barkley

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ESPN– After years of being fodder for Charles Barkley to comment on in his role as an analyst on TNT’s “Inside the NBA,” LeBron James has heard enough.

“He’s a hater,” James told ESPN of Barkley following the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 104-97 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Monday. “What makes what he says credible? Because he’s on TV?”

James had been stewing the past couple of days after Barkley took James to task for the four-time MVP calling out the Cavs for needing to fortify the roster with another playmaker to have a realistic shot at a repeat title.

“Inappropriate. Whiny. All of the above,” Barkley said of James last week. “The Cleveland Cavaliers, they have given him everything he wanted. They have the highest payroll in NBA history. He wanted J.R. Smith last summer, they paid him. He wanted [Iman] Shumpert last summer. They brought in Kyle Korver. He’s the best player in the world. Does he want all of the good players? He don’t want to compete? He is an amazing player. They’re the defending champs.”

“I’m not going to let him disrespect my legacy like that,” James told ESPN. “I’m not the one who threw somebody through a window. I never spit on a kid. I never had unpaid debt in Las Vegas. I never said, ‘I’m not a role model.’ I never showed up to All-Star Weekend on Sunday because I was in Vegas all weekend partying.

“All I’ve done for my entire career is represent the NBA the right way. Fourteen years, never got in trouble. Respected the game. Print that.”

“Go watch the ’93 Finals when John Paxson hit the shot,” James said. “Barkley and Jordan were laughing and joking with each other during one of the games while somebody’s shooting a free throw. In the Finals. But, oh, nobody were friends back then.”

He had more words for Barkley too.

“I know he wanted to retire a long time ago, but he can’t,” James said. “He’s stuck up on that stage every week.”

James then issued a challenge, of sorts.

“And if this makes him want to talk to me, the schedule’s out there,” James said. “He knows every road arena I’ll be in. Don’t just come up to me at All-Star and shake my hand and smile.”

“I collect one paycheck from this,” James said of his role with the Cavs. “There’s the owner, Griff’s [David Griffin] the GM, I’m the player. Screw Charles Barkley.”

James put on his baseball cap and offered a parting thought as he prepared to leave the visitors locker room at the American Airlines Center to head to the airport for a flight back to Cleveland.

“I’m tired of biting my tongue,” James said. “There’s a new sheriff in town.”

Oh, snap! LeBron just went in on Chuck! So much so that I had to pull out a John Oliver/John Stewart/Tomi Lahren style headline to really drive the point home. I’m not sure if Barkley is even still alive after that vicious attack! Someone check his pulse!

I have two different feelings about all this. One part of me loves this. Not LeBron calling out Chuck specifically, but someone finally calling out my least favorite crowd in the world, the “today’s sports are soft’ crowd. They make me see red. They make my blood boil. They make me want to commit violent crimes. “Today’s NBA is so watered down,” even though there’s more superstars than ever, and more teams have stars than ever before. And the players are better now than they used to be. Sorry, but Russell Westbrook would average about 50 points 25 rebounds and 15 assists if Oscar Robertson was guarding him. “All they do is shoot threes.” My advanced training in mathematics tells me that 3 is, in fact, more than 2. Which would mean that getting 3 points if better than getting 2 points. Let’s say a team takes 50 3 pointers and 50 2 pointers. If the team shoots just 35% from 3, which is about league average, the 3 point shots would yield more points than the 2 point shots if the team shot 50% from 2. So I don’t get what the problem is. “The players are too buddy-buddy nowadays.” Sure, the Banana Boat Boyz are the most influential #clique in NBA history, but this isn’t a new thing. Your boy Barkley used to sidle up to MJ non-stop. Magic and the original Isiah Thomas would make out before games! It would have been X rated if the MPAA got their hands on the footage. And Charles Oakley, everyone’s favorite bastion of toughness and thuggishness, was Jordan’s lackey no matter what team he was on. “No one plays defense or plays physical.” People don’t realize how impossible playing defense in today’s NBA is. Like 80% of the league is dangerous from 3. Every guard is a freak athlete that can’t possibly be contained one on one, so when you send help someone is open for 3. And the big men are all absurd hybrids of traditional physically dominant bruisers and skilled guards. The fact that teams still find a way to get any stops at all is cause for celebration. And no, it’s not as physical as it was in the 90s. The games are also watchable. So I applaud LeBron for taking down the leader of the curmudgeon army.

But on the other hand, this is whole saga is vintage LeBron. The whining, the verbal and virtual subtweeting, the constant over-dramatics. I mean, everything Chuck said is true. LeBron is a huge baby that cries and stomps his feet when he doesn’t get his way. I mean, I don’t get what his problem is. They won the title last season with virtually the same roster! They’re still going to win the East fairly easily. He already has no real challenge until the Finals, and now he wants to eliminate that challenge, too? I guess I can’t blame him. I hate challenges. But I’m not trying to be considered the greatest basketball player of all time. I also don’t publicly masturbate to my performance in last year’s finals where he beat the greatest regular season team ever, which he cheapens by trying to make this year’s go around easier. Not to mention we’re getting pretty close to when he takes his annual mid-season vacation. But, hey, he’s a father which means you can’t criticize him. I’m so sick of this story, I’m so sick of Barkley’s mindset, and I’m so sick of LeBron. I can’t wait until he finally retires 10 years from now.

You know I was First in line for the new Yu-Gi-Oh! movie

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Unless you’re living under a rock, you know that the most anticipated movie of the year, Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Dark Side of Dimensions, was finally released yesterday. (A bit of bad timing in terms of getting Oscar nominations, but next year they’ll clean up.) Ever since I got a random promotional lanyard at last year’s Comic Con saying the movie was coming in 2017, I’ve been hyped up.

I was so ready for this movie. I’m like the Lance Stephenson of Yu-Gi-Oh, Born Ready. As an avid fan of all things Yu-Gi-Oh, and likely the most talented duelist of all time, I knew I had to be at the first showing possible. So, I grabbed my Kaiba Corp. shirt and camping supplies and slept under the stars outside the theater waiting for my life to be changed forever.

Even before the movie, there was a buzz in the theater. Electricity was in the air. We were all there to see a heavy weight fight between two titans of Duel Monsters. I lost track of how many trench coats and guys with pony tails I saw. I wasn’t even in the top ten of most overweight people there. It was an eclectic group, but we were all in the same community, the same brotherhood. All part of that most exclusive of societies: those passionate about Yu-Gi-Oh. And I am proud to be their leader. During the movie, the crowd was jumping. There were big laughs, big cheers, and, when a certain someone appears at the end of the movie, a girl sitting in front of me could no longer contain her emotions and broke down in tears. We’re talking uncontrollably sobbing. It was beautiful, in a way. It was one of the strangest, most memorable, and most enjoyable times I’ve ever had in a movie theater. I don’t know if it can ever be replicated.

The movie itself was awesome. It was perfect Yu-Gi-Oh!. A mix of light comedy and melodrama, nonsense and fake science, and a complete disregard for the actual rules of the game. Luckily for me, the movie was centered around my favorite character, the legend himself Seto Kaiba. It was probably the most character development he’s ever gotten. Sure, he still had his usual extreme arrogance and narcissism, but the movie actually explored his relationship with Yugi and the Pharaoh. With a very Batman-Joker vibe, Seto realizes he needs the Pharaoh to validate his own sense of self-worth. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to summon the Pharaoh and fight him, defeat him, and exorcise the demons that haunt his memory. Or does he actually deeply care about the Pharaoh and want to see him one last time as a friend? That’s for you to decide. There’s another plot about someone trying to take over the world and sending everyone to the Shadow Realm a different dimension, but the only one I really cared about was Kaiba. Maybe I’m biased. Either way, this movie was awesome.

Rating: 11/10

Now that Yu-Gi-Oh is fresh in my mind, I’ve got to do a bit of a Yu-Gi-Oh brain dump. I concede that this may get a little deeper into Yu-Gi-Oh than most people may care to tread, so I will only slightly begrudge you for bailing now. For the diehards, let’s get into it.

Burning Question: Why didn’t the villains just do whatever they wanted regardless of the outcome of duels?

I realize this kind of flies right in the face of the entire concept of the show, but why did anyone let a card game stop them from doing whatever they wanted to do? Take Marik, for instance. He wanted the Egyptian God Cards and all the Millennium Items. Why did he risk all of that on some games of Duel Monsters, especially when he knew he was going against the best in the world? He had the Millennium Rod, which has a knife inside it. Why didn’t he just kill Yugi and Kaiba and take what he wanted? Or use the Millennium Rod’s power of mind control. Instead of control, say, Kaiba and taking Obelisk without any real hassle, he controlled Joey so he could duel against Yugi, hoping that Yugi would lose against someone he literally taught the game of Duel Monsters to and that Yugi would drop the Millennium Puzzle before he was dragged underwater. Huh? He also showed the ability to send people to the Shadow Realm at will, based on what he did to all his henchmen who lost to Yugi. If the banishment wasn’t predicated on the result of the previous duels, why would Marik ever risk going into a shadow game in the first place? Why risk losing? Just send them to the Shadow Realm without dueling them. Or just kill them. And Pegasus had an entire island’s worth of dark corners and hiding places at his disposal, as well as an army of evil cronies who already dabbled in assault and kidnapping. Just have them kill Yugi and take his puzzle. You don’t even need to kill him, just steal it. The only people who were really thinking the right way were Lumis and Umbra, but they were too stupid and reckless to succeed. What Yu-Gi-Oh villains lack in practicality they more than make up for in overly complicated plans and a penchant for tight clothing (wait, that’s everyone in the show).

Top Five Characters

1. Seto Kaiba- I ldgljadhinted at this in the actual review, but Seto is easily my favorite character, and is definitely in my top five favorite TV characters ever. Think about everything he’s done for the game. He created the hologram system and every iteration of the duel disk. He set up every major tournament after season one. He’s the most important character in the Yu-Gi-Oh universe. He’s also the most talented duelist and was robbed at every turn. Yugi cheats. How can he always get the exact card he needs at the exact time he needs? When half the cards he uses are never seen again? And some of the cards are only useful in very specific scenarios that would be impossible to prepare for and are useless in 99% of duels. All because he believes in the Heart of the Cards? Joey believed and he never got that kind of luck. Yugi cheats constantly, and his cowardly decision to face little Yugi instead of his true rival Seto in his final duel puts a serious damper on his “King of Games” title. Meanwhile Seto uses pure skill, power, and a dragon fetish to overwhelm his opposition. In a just world, he would have beaten Yugi ten times over.

business-playtime-and-inspiration-maximillion-pegasus-yu-gi-oh-35864904-497-3812. Maximillion Pegasus- The wonderfully camp creator of Duel Monsters deserved more than being the end boss of Duelist Kingdom, an admittedly entertaining tournament where there were literally no rules and every duel ended on some stupid technicality or weird field effect. Pegasus was a genius. A true artist with playing cards, he has not one, but two iconic strategies (Toon World and Relinquished). He befuddled both Yugi and Kaiba, and would have beaten Yugi (by cheating) if it weren’t for a well timed friendship speech. No one played better mind games or was quite as well dressed. Pegasus is the G.O.A.T. villain.

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3. Mako Tsunami- I think this will probably be the most controversial entry, but Mako is the most underrated character in Yu-Gi-Oh!. He has all the makings of a perfect bit character: hilariously over-the-top, just good enough to make duels interesting, and, most importantly, a defined schtick. And unlike recurring guests Weevil Underwood and Rex Raptor, Mako actually has a backstory, contrived as it may have been. And yet he only had two appearances. What makes Rex better than him? A dinosaur deck is just as one-note as an aquatic deck. More so, probably. And Mako was clearly the superior duelist. He should have been a comic-relief staple. He should have annoyed Yugi and the gang every season, not just the first two. Perhaps he was too good. His passion and perfectly defined character quirks were just too pure for this world. Maybe we’re the ones that failed him by not appreciating him more while he was here. I’m sorry, Mako. May you find peace at sea.

ce14. Joey Wheeler- Joey really was better than he had any business being. His random Brooklyn accent, idiocy, and luck-based dueling strategy should have flamed out early, but it all wound up being quite charming. There’s no doubt the show would have been much worse without his presence, as often times he and Tristan were the only ones combatting the deathly serious tone with their physical brand of comic relief. On top of that, he was a fine duelist. Besides his duels against Kaiba, his duels against every other main character go extremely well, and he only loses because of things like “friendship” or plain misfortune. He would have beaten Marik cleanly if he was able to call an attack! Funny that for someone who relies so heavily on luck, he never gets lucky when it counts, as opposed to Yugi, who is supposedly all about skill, but gets every “lucky” break ever. It’s a shame. Now, if only they had never given him a sister.

post-23942-0-06419500-14062489525. Bakura- The only bad guy who was really playing for keeps. No one was darker, more depraved, or more willing to get his hands dirty. Pretty sure he actually killed like five people in a show where death was outlawed, and would have murdered Yugi’s grandpa if left unattended. His duels were always must-watch, if only because of the threat of violence and dismemberment. He should have had his moment in the spotlight long before the penultimate story arc, and probably should have killed Marik instead of entering into an alliance with him. He was clearly the most powerful evil spirit on the block.

Honorable Mention: Tristan (if you don’t like Tristan you have a huge dump in your pants), Weevil Underwood, Marik (evil version)

Best Yu-Gi-Oh Video Games

  1. Duelists of the Roses- I may be prone to exaggeration but I don’t think it’s a stretch to say I’ve played this game more than any other video game I’ve ever had. It’s the reason I still have my PS2 and the reason I’ll never get rid of it. It’s a spectacularly goofy game, treating history like season one treats the rules of Duel Monsters. But I love it so much. The checkers-style dueling combined with the awesome field and monster animations combine to make the most unique take on Yu-Gi-Oh ever.
  2. The Sacred Cards- An RPG take on the Battle City arc. Luckily for me, that’s my favorite part of the show.
  3. Stairway to the Destined Duel- It’s pretty much just the real-life card game on Game Boy. With the actual rules. That’s all you need to make a great game.
  4. Receive of Destruction- This game was so rigged and so frustrating that it took me about a year to finally beat it. It was impossible. But nothing beat the high of finally beating the part I was stuck on. Only to immediately get stuck again.
  5. Duel Links- Might be some recency bias, but I can’t believe they didn’t have a game like this before. Now that I have a way to impose my will against people all around the world, nothing will stop my rise to the top. Unless I get sent to the Shadow Realm.

Best Cards in my deck- A few years ago, I had to go through one of the greatest hardships of my entire life: I lost my deck. Every time I go home, I spend hours searching for it, but to no avail. The greatest collection of 3.5″x2.5″ pieces of paper ever assembled lost for all eternity. Truly one of the biggest tragedies of the last century. Now, only memories remain. Fortunately, I can still recall the heavy hitters of that legendary deck.
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5. Kaiser Sea Horse- A fine card on it’s own, it’s strength really came early in duels. In a perfect draw, you could summon a super powerful monster like Blue Eyes White Dragon in your second turn. Putting pressure on the opponent early was a staple in my glory days.

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4. Harpy’s Feather Duster- Getting rid of your opponent’s Spell and Trap cards is a huge mental blow. It ruins strategies. If they have some kind of spell-counter trap, they almost have to use it on this, freeing me up to play something more powerful. It’s a perfect spell.

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3. Valkyrion the Magna Warrior- My enforcer. When he came out, you knew the duel was almost over. Even if you destroy him, he can just break down into his three component parts.

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2. Judgment of Anubis- Such an overpowered trap card. My deck was heavy with spells and traps almost entirely to set up this card. Once I got one, I bought two more just to add to the frustration I could dish out. This card came closer to ending friendships than any other card I owned.

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1. Jowls of Dark Demise- It’s this simple: if you saw this card you lost. You’re all excited that you were finally able to summon your best monster. Victory is within your grasp. Well, now what’s yours is mine. And I win.

I think I’ll salvage whatever street cred I have left and finish here. But make no mistake, I can go on about Yu-Gi-Oh until my dying breath. And maybe someday I will.

And for anyone wondering, I’m taking AFC +4 in tonight’s Pro Bowl. Sorry I couldn’t give a full breakdown of this seminal game.