The Rambling Ever On March Madness Bracket Challenge

It’s that time of year again, when Americans begin to talk about Madness, seeds, numbers, and brackets and ask that age-old question that has eluded past generations for millenia…which channel is TruTV?

We here at REO want to invite you to be a part of our bracket challenge, which you can join here. We also strongly encourage you to share some of your key picks in the comments below. We know it’s typical to think “No one really cares about my Final 4 picks.” But you are wrong! So wrong! REO wants to know. So post them below and we can discuss. Also, feel free to share your upset picks as well. But please spare us the lame 10s over 7s and especially those 9s over 8s (which happen as often as not historically[1. https://www.ncaa.com/news/basketball-men/bracket-beat/2017-03-11/march-madness-getting-know-no-9-seed-ncaa-tournament]). Sharing your upset pick on Facebook after the fact (particularly if you screenshot it) just makes people mad and jealous. But here we celebrate with you.

So join us this year and may we be merry with mirth and madness.

Link: REO March Madness Bracket
Password: letmeplay





REO Top Ten: Church Potluck Items (Part 2)

There are few things that are more emblematic of Southern Evangelical culture than the church potluck. Many jokes (some funny) have been made at the expense of faithful churchgoers enjoying a smorgasbord-type feast after service. Deal with it, we like to eat and we like to eat with our friends and fellow believers. Of course, when you open up the menu to any item that any person wants to bring, things can get a little tricky. It takes wisdom and quick decision-making to ensure that your plate is filled with only the best foods available. That’s where REO comes in. We’ve spent the last few months meticulously sifting through every potluck food imaginable to create our top ten. These are the ten items that consistently rise to the top – the cream of the crop, if you will. Unless something in the preparation process goes horribly wrong, these are the ten items that will not fail you. Today, we bring you the best of the best. We crown our victor and celebrate with all our fans.


Recap: 10-6:

10. Meatballs
9. Velveeta Rotel Dip and Chips
8. Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
7. Mexican Cornbread
6. Pigs-in-a-blanket


5. Ham N Cheese Hawaiian Rolls

Hawaiian Rolls were created by the King’s Hawaiian Company in the late 1950s. By 1960, California man Joe Cooper had taken an entire bag of these delicious rolls, cut through the middle, and melted ham and cheese inside them. They were a huge hit with Joe’s family and friends, but Joe was an atheist so his creation never made it to a church potluck. It wasn’t until 1983 when Edna Clarkson took Ham and Cheese Hawaiian rolls to an event at First United Methodist Church in Starkville, Mississippi that the phenomenon was truly born. Lives were changed that day and the church tripled in attendance. The rest, they say, is history. (Mike Lytle)


4. Chili

Picture this…you’re standing at the front of the food line and you’ve just grabbed a styrofoam plate and your plasticware. You scan down the tables of glorious food spread out before you, but something catches your eye…wait…is that??? No…it can’t be! But it is! Someone has haphazardly thrown a bunch of meat, beans and peppers together into a crockpot, added a bunch of spicy chili powder to it, and proudly set it out for all to enjoy. (Rarely have I had a chili that I didn’t like. And when I did eat a chili that wasn’t great, a little extra Tabasco sauce or cheese is all it took to kick it up to a normative level again.) You reach down and pick up a styrofoam bowl as well. Time to feast. (D.A. Speer)

For something so delicious the recipe for chili is actually quite simple (look at me pretending I know how to cook!). Despite its basic ingredients, a pot of chili can taste very different from one potluck to another. Yet nearly every kind of chili is delicious. Unless it’s canned chili which is an affront to nature! I’ve read that many churches have amended their bylaws to include the following, “Thou shalt not bring canned chili to church potlucks”*. I digress. Plain chili is wonderful. But when cheese and crackers/corn chips are added it transforms into something divine!

REO pro tip: Chili holds heat better than most foods. So, at potlucks where the food is prepped well before the designated meal time always go for the chili as it will still be hot. (Mark Sass)

*I read this on the internet so it must be completely factual.


3. Fried Chicken

I could be wrong, but I suspect that if potluck chicken was as consistently good and hot as freshly made fried chicken, this would be higher on this list. Maybe this would be the case. However, Number 3 is still very respectable and is well earned. I do know that it is my close second favorite behind deviled eggs. It is so close that it is pretty much a tie. Yeah, sure, potluck chicken is often a mite on the coldish side—maybe lukewarm—but I still love it. It and deviled eggs are always my go-to potluck foods. (Ben Plunkett)

I have deeply fond memories of Homecoming Sunday every October at Horse Branch Free Will Baptist as a child in the 80s and 90s. It meant I got to see the late NFL games since there was no Sunday night service. But it also meant this extravagant, bountiful smorgasbord of a buffet right after church. And every year I made a beeline for the chicken. It was often cold but it was still so good. Other than Uncle Remu’s at Walmart, I’ve never had a bad piece of fried chicken. And those Church potluck dinners in my childhood were no exception. (Gordy Cannon)


2. Sausage Balls

A well-made sausage ball is hard to beat. Unfortunately, I have developed a weird pork allergy/intolerance so I am now deprived of all the wonderful pork related foods, including sausage balls. Still, even with my new-found ailment, I cannot deny the glory and the wonder of the classic sausage ball. You can eat these things hot, cold, warm, or lukewarm. You can dip them in a sauce or you can eat them just as they are. While they do vary in taste depending on the spice level of the sausage used, they are pretty great in any form.

REO pro tip: The spicier sausage used the better. Also, do not use too much breading. You want these to have a nice balance of meat, cheese, and breading. We don’t call them bread balls, after all. (Phill Lytle)


1. Deviled Eggs

Many ill-advised haters of deviled eggs love to point out that it has “devil” in the name and that therefore it is obviously a thing of great evil. However, back in the 1700’s when deviled eggs first became a thing, “deviled” meant “spiced.” That’s not a joke. Look it up. Anyway, that makes deviled eggs a thing of great good. And indeed, it is, my friends, this soft and supple culinary masterpiece deserves to be in here in the upper reaches of the potluck top ten. Its haters be boggled. They’re the ones of great evil, so there. (Ben Plunkett)

There is nothing devilish about these delightful creations. Look. I get it. If you don’t like eggs, or mayo, or deliciousness, you might find these little bite-sized beauties a bit repulsive. That is entirely your loss and entirely okay with me as that will leave more eggs for me to eat. At any church potluck, one of the first items to be completely eaten are the deviled eggs. Mark it down. That is why they finished number one in our bracket. They might be polarizing but for those of us that love them, they are the go-to item at any potluck dinner. A church potluck without deviled eggs is a truly horrific thing. We want no part of that. (Phill Lytle)

To me the beauty of the deviled egg is the balance of the two main ingredients. I used to watch my mom make the yolk mixture and then eat the leftovers and it was so good, but not nearly as good as when it was with the white of the egg. The two together are just sublime and hence, #1 for this group. (Gordy Cannon)


That’s our list. We’re sure everyone will completely agree with all of our choices. Be sure to post your kind and encouraging reactions in the comment section below. We look forward to reading them and celebrating all these great potluck foods together.




REO Top Ten: Church Potluck Items (Part 1)

There are few things that are more emblematic of Southern Evangelical culture than the church potluck. Many jokes (some funny) have been made at the expense of faithful churchgoers enjoying a smorgasbord-type feast after service. Deal with it, we like to eat and we like to eat with our friends and fellow believers. Of course, when you open up the menu to any item that any person wants to bring, things can get a little tricky. It takes wisdom and quick decision-making to ensure that your plate is filled with only the best foods available. That’s where REO comes in. We’ve spent the last few months meticulously sifting through every potluck food imaginable to create our top ten. These are the ten items that consistently rise to the top – the cream of the crop, if you will. Unless something in the preparation process goes horribly wrong, these are the ten items that will not fail you. Today, we give you one item that just barely missed the cut as well as numbers 10 through 6. Come back for seconds tomorrow to fill up on the top five.


Honorable Mention

Lasagna

I’m a picky eater. This is not news to anyone who knows me. So, for those kindred souls potlucks can be slim pickins. As I wander down the aisles I often find myself lost amidst a sea of food. Fear and dread build as I press onward into the unknown waters. Will I find something… anything to eat? Or will I collapse from hunger and exhaustion at the row’s end? But the moment when all hope seems lost my eyes discern a twinkle. A pan of golden goodness–lasagna! Shining and radiant like a lighthouse of hope in the darkest of night! Picky eaters gather near and find sanctuary inside the walls of its glass or aluminum pan. (Mark Sass)


10. Meatballs

Is there anything that sounds more appetizing than meatballs? Who is dumb enough to pass up eating balls made out of meat? Not this guy. At any church potluck I have attended, I am sure to look around as quickly as possible to find this most savory dish. Just find the crockpots. Sometimes, the crockpots will have lesser culinary items in them like roast beef or some sort of soggy vegetable, but if you are fortunate, you will find glorious meatballs swimming in a delicious BBQ sauce. I pile my plate high with the balls of meat with no concern for my fellow potluckers. It is their loss if they didn’t go for the meatballs first. (Phill Lytle)


9. Velveeta Rotel Dip and Chips

There are a few foods that I know are truly horrific for my health, but I can’t stop eating them. This is one of those. If you have ever looked at the Velveeta Rotel dip after it has cooled, you will know this is a substance you should never introduce into your gastrointestinal system. We all know it. Yet that doesn’t seem to matter to any of us because it tastes so good! Does this make us bad people? Yes, yes it does. Oh well. Pass the chips… (Phill Lytle)


8. Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

There’s nothing to home-cooked food to me quite like a perfectly prepared piece of meat and a perfect side right next to it. Often in my mom’s kitchen, and at countless church potlucks around the USA, mashed potatoes and gravy fits that bill. I’ve loaded my plate with them a couple of times in my life to the point of drawing stares from the other people in line. (Gowdy Cannon)


7. Mexican Cornbread

I enjoy almost any type of cornbread, but this variety takes it up several levels. Mixing cheese and chili peppers into a traditional sweet cornbread recipe is simply genius. The best version of Mexican cornbread is made in a mini muffin pan. I am pretty confident that I could eat my weight in those muffins. Even though Mexican cornbread muffins are not as well known across the country as some items on our list, for me they are a clear number 1. One of the 10 worst moments of my life occurred in April of 2012. I was so far back in line at a church potluck that I missed out on the Mexican cornbread. The wounds from that day have healed, but I still bear the scars. #NeverForget (Mike Lytle)


6. Pigs-in-a-blanket

Somehow I missed out on these as a small child and first tasted them as a teenager outside of my hometown. And I was totally impressed. It wasn’t just a miniature hotdog. It was a miniature hot dog in a pastry where both are packed with flavor. I have probably been to a few potlucks where 80% of what I ate was just these things, especially when it’s mostly finger foods and not a lot of meat is present. God bless the genius who invented them. (Gowdy Cannon)


So there’s the first half of this list. Feedback about it is strongly welcomed below. But don’t judge us too harshly yet! We have the top half coming tomorrow.




Government Representative (Fill in the blank) Says/Does (Fill in the blank) and the Nation Recoils

In a stunning, shocking, and outrageous display, Generic Government Representative’s recent remarks and/or actions have sparked a national outcry. We went to the streets to ask average Americans their thoughts:

REO Reporter: “Did you hear about the recent controversial remarks by your Government Representative?”

Average American: “No, what did they say?”

REO Reporter: “It was awful. They said horribly degrading things about immigrants and/or law enforcement officials.”

Average American: “Wow! That is awful. There is no place for that type of hate-filled rhetoric in our country. Remind me, is this government representative in my political party or are they on the other side?”

REO Reporter: “They are on the other side.”

Average American: “That’s what I thought. They are just a bunch of racist, fascists, bigots over there. Just the…”

REO Reporter: “My bad! I got that wrong. They are on your side. Very much on your side.”

Average American: “Yeah, yeah… What I was trying to say is that if you look at the context of what they were saying, it makes sense. They weren’t speaking specifically about any group. We just need to do a better job of really listening to each other and not attacking. We need to dialogue, you know? Really look at all the facts…”

REO Reporter: “Woops! Boy, is my face red now! I got that wrong again. They are totally NOT on your side. Yep, very much on the other side politically.”

Average American: “I knew it! They are evil, evil people. Just the worst people that have ever lived! They don’t deserve to live in this country. They just want to destroy everything this country stands for. They are worse than if Hitler and Satan had a baby! I HATE THEM AND ALL THEY STAND FOR!!!”

REO Reporter: “Thanks for your time.”




Five More Facial Expressions That Are No Longer Acceptable in a Tolerant Society

This weekend, the entire world witnessed an unspeakable horror. On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, violent racism was deployed in the most damaging manner possible. A young MAGA hat-wearing bigot got in the face of an innocent and totally upstanding Native American elder. He stood there. He looked through his arsenal of privilege and he chose his weapon of choice.

He smirked.

Everyone of sound mind and heart instantly recognizes the hatred, rage, and condescension that comes with that smirk. Most of us have been on the receiving end of a smirk like that. It is a searing knife, plunged into our very souls. Sadly, it is not the only facial expression deployed by the depraved and craven in their attempt to silence those of us on the right side of history. No, there are many more facial expressions of hate, racism, bigotry, misogyny, and intolerance that confront us on a daily basis. Here are five of the most offensive that you need to recognize and eradicate from your life, posthaste!


The Single Eyebrow Raise

There is nothing wrong with your average single eyebrow raise. You know when you lift one eyebrow a little higher than the other. It is an extremely time-honored expression. Abraham Lincoln often raised an eyebrow at his fighting men. So did Helen of Troy when she launched a thousand ships. Very elegant indeed. That being said, the eyebrow-raiser is well advised to avoid it these days. Such expressions are frequently taken as sarcasm, pretension, and various other forms of belittling. This dreaded expression is often effectual in instigating feelings of rage and inferiority. It is henceforth deemed inappropriate if one eyebrow is lifted a least one millimeter higher than the other, and/or if causes the forehead above said eyebrow to be furrowed.


The Non-Flirtatious Wink

We are all aware of the total devastation that occurs when a person (99% of the time a man) winks at another person (99% of the time a woman). We have made great strides in eradicating such toxic behavior in society. Yet the wink’s destructive powers do not end when decoupled from flirtation. The wink, in all its forms, contexts, and deployments is a thing of unbridled hostility, superiority, and vulgarity. If you are a winker, you are a part of the problem. Repent of your winking ways and come to the side where no non-verbal communication of the visual kind will ever be tolerated or condoned.


The “Jim Halpert” Face

Jim (from TV’s “The Office”) was a nice guy. A decent guy. Almost everyone liked him, except for Charles Miner for some reason. He had fun at work, drove Dwight crazy, and got the girl of his dreams. And while he never had a catchphrase, like so many classic TV characters from days gone by, he had a catch look. The look. The “Jim Halpert” face.

Yeah, that’s the one. The problem with that face is that it was often used as a way to deflect any responsibility for all the sexism, racism, and generally offensive behavior of his boss, Michael Scott. It was the look of a coward. In light of how things are progressing in Donald Trump’s America, we have no room for cowards.


The Yucky Food Face

This is something civilized diners should never do. Naturally, it is not good to offend the food preparer in this way, but that is a secondary issue. Of primary concern is 1) disrespecting the animal, fruit, and/or vegetable who died to give you sustenance and 2) offending a stranger who happens to see you across the restaurant and thinks you have been talking about him or her and therefore also thinks that your grimace is directed at them. According to social media, this second is one of the top ten social problems facing our country today. When eating in a public place it is, therefore, best to maintain a straight face at all times so as to avoid this sort of thing. It may even be a good idea to wear a hockey mask when you go out so no one will be mistakenly offended by your Yucky Food Face.


Smiling

Let us be honest here: there are some of us who are simply not allowed to smile anymore. Our smiles are loaded weapons and even if we intend no harm, they leave a swathe of destruction and chaos in their wake. Smiles are just the latest manifestation in a long line of hate and privilege and we just cannot afford to be party to that sort of evil. Until further notice, stop smiling. Our betters in society will let us know when it is safe and proper for all of us to smile again. One last point: If you are unsure if you are allowed to smile, then your complete ignorance about how a progressive and tolerant society works is a clear indicator that your smile is not needed or wanted for this moment in time.


As you can see, if we are not careful we can do great damage even with something as seemingly innocuous as our face. Therefore, we humbly suggest that until the “all clear” is given, let this be your only facial expression:

 




BREAKING: “There is None Righteous, No. Not One.” Not Even Oscar Hosts

Hollywood, CA – Due to a newfound belief in the total depravity of man, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences officially announces major changes to the Oscar ceremonies going forward.

First, there will be no hosts anymore. Academy spokesperson, Michael Williamson said, “Obviously, there is no human being on the planet that hasn’t said or done something offensive to someone else. Anyone we choose as the next host will have their entire life examined and any mean-spirited joke, any bigoted opinion, or any sexist comment will get scrutinized. We cannot afford to be associated with those sorts of things so we are getting rid of the middle man…or person.”

Additionally, there will be no demand for the latest fashions, because all the celebrities are planning to dress in sackcloth and ashes in a very public sign of solidarity with the Academy. Williamson adds, “These celebrities understand the times we live in. They know that at the very least, they need to look like they care a whole lot. And nothing says seriousness and sadness like sackcloth. There will be no red carpet either as we do not want to offend anyone that is colorblind.” 

In lieu of the iconic statue, honorees will be awarded a golden whip for an evening of self-flagellation. No “thank you” speeches will be delivered. Instead, award winners will deliver five minute public apologies for all the offensive words they have ever spoken or written. If the apology is deemed sincere enough, they will be allowed to keep their Golden Whip. If the apology seems forced or insincere, the audience will be allowed to publicly beat them with the Golden Whip until their sins have been fully paid for. Williamson concludes, “Either way, they are apologizing and getting whipped. It’s a win-win.”

A small yet vocal minority, lead by Christopher Walken, is not happy with the changes. They are arguing that the ceremony “needs more cowbell.” The Academy had no comment.




Five Failed Ideas for Today’s Five

We love writing The Five. We do it every week. Most of the time, putting one of these together is just a pure joy. A blessing, some might say. But if we are being completely honest, which we always are, there have been a few times when we really struggled to come up with something worthwhile. We have even published a few less-than-optimal Fives in our time. (I’m looking at you Sick Five.) In the spirit of complete transparency, today is not one of our finest moments. We agonized over this one. We suggested idea after idea and nothing seemed to stick. Nothing got our creative juices flowing. So, instead of beating our heads against this bit of writer’s block, we have decided to share Five of the ideas we had that never really got off the ground. We hope you enjoy this little peek behind the curtain even though we realize you probably won’t. It’s not good.


1. National Pumpkin Day by Benjamin Plunkett

Today is National Pumpkin Day. We says to ourselves, “Mayhap we can get a Five out of this.” A few ideas were bandied about: Carved pumpkins, roasted pumpkins seeds, Linus and the Great Pumpkin, The Smashing Pumpkins, pumpkin catapulting, pumpkin pie, pumpkin spice…everything. Although we love some of this (pumpkin pie certainly had my eye), the idea itself did not really float our boat, shiver our timbers, no, nor bake our cake. So alas, my friends, twas not to be…for we had seen the empty jack-o-lantern of our souls!


2. Five Non-Scary movies to watch for Halloween if you are not a horror movie fan by Phill Lytle

So, it’s almost Halloween and everyone you know is watching as many scary movies as they can. But you feel left out because you don’t like scary movies. They scare you and you don’t like being scared. It makes you uncomfortable. Well boo freaking hoo! Grow a spine, you whiny baby! In recent years, Halloween has been characterized by a few things: Candy, women losing all inhibition and dressing like two-bit prostitutes, and scary movies. Since we are Christians here, we hopefully will have nothing to do with the second one so that leaves us with candy and horror films. If you are too big of a wuss for horror films then you are left with only candy and that clearly makes you a child. If you are in fact a child, then don’t worry about anything I’ve written here and enjoy the veritable feast of candy that awaits you in a few days. But if you are not a child, but a grown adult person, then crying and whimpering about all the scary movies is just pitiful. For the love! Find your courage man!


3. Five random things by Benjamin Plunkett

The debate over this one was incredibly fierce. Two factions emerged from the growing ferocity of this controversy. One side was adamant that it be “things” while the other fought long and hard for “objects.” In the end, discussions devolved into madness and the idea eventually discarded. Pity too because we had come up with five perfectly random subjects: Spotify, Monarch butterflies, crushed soda cans, A Streetcar Named Desire, and fat Val Kilmer. It would have been of a masterpiece, this Five Random Things (or Objects).


4. Five Favorite Andy Griffith characters by Gowdy Cannon

To my shame, my knowledge of The Andy Griffith Show is woefully lacking considering how I was raised and who my group of friends are. Andy Griffith was on in syndication in the background of my house a bunch I would guess. And two of the pastors at my church quote the show to each other about the same way I quote Seinfeld with my friends.

Yet it’s never been a show I’ve sat down and watched significantly. I could tell you a moment here or there, like when Barney knew how to sing “A Capella” or when oregano was the secret ingredient in everyone’s spaghetti. But to write a blurb about it? I would struggle. To my shame.

This show is lauded so highly for good reasons. Somehow those reasons have not translated to my TV viewing. To my shame.


5. Five Types of Boulders by Phill Lytle

Who doesn’t love a good boulder? I know I do! In my 40 years of living there have been few things in life that have brought more happiness than boulders. They are big…obviously. They are hard….sure. They are bouldery?

Nope. I can’t do this. Who cares about boulders? They are giant rocks. That’s it. That’s all they have going for them. Some are really big and some are just sort of big.

I just don’t see the big deal about boulders…pun fully intended.

That said, there is the park in Missouri called Elephant Rocks State Park[1. Go visit a State Park in your area!] and it contains these massive boulder-like rocks. I guess they are boulders. I’ve never really done research on the distinction between giant rocks and boulders. Are they the same thing? Aaaaah! This is so boring to talk about! Elephant Rocks State Park is pretty cool but other than that, boulders are a big waste of time. They hardly qualify as a topic of conversation. Get it? HARDly! Because they are hard?

I’ll see myself out.


See. We weren’t overselling the complete dumpster fire that is this article. No humble, self-deprecation on our part. We are straight shooters who call it like it is.

But here’s the rub: We won’t apologize for this train wreck. In fact, we are oddly proud of it. It became such a hideous and unwieldy thing that it developed a sort of haunting beauty. A pulchritude, if you will. And we will. Oh, believe you me, we will.

If you were wondering about the clown picture, we figured that since this was our pre-Halloween Five, it needed to have some creepy factor to it. And a creepy and sad clown doll seemed to fit the bill perfectly.




The Top Ten Nintendo Games of All Time (Part 2)

The wait is over! We proudly present the top four NES games of all time. Last week, we unveiled numbers ten through five – you can read that here. As is typical with any top ten we have done, there was some controversy. (See: Tecmo Super Bowl landing at number 5.) Nevertheless, we are satisfied with our results and the top four games are all deserving of any accolades that come their way.

For our money, the classic Nintendo Entertainment System is the high-water mark in the video game industry. It captured the imaginations of millions during its run and continues to make new fans every time a child is introduced to it in all its 8-bit glory. Enjoy reading our final four and be sure to let us know what you think in the comment section below.


4. Contra

We played this thing for hours prior to owning it – we had borrowed it from a friend. We were blissfully unaware of the legendary cheat code at that time so we slogged our way through as much of it as possible. Then, on the day my little brother bought the game from a neighbor, we brought it home with the cheat code in hand, and we proceeded to beat it our first time through. I’ve always felt bad for my little brother that we finished this game the first day he owned it. I think he spent $30 on the thing.

Show of hands: How many of you could beat this game without the cheat code? Be honest.

Bonus question: How many of you remember the cheat code? (Phill Lytle)

—–

To answer Phill’s question. I could (and still can) beat Contra without the cheat code (which, of course, I still have memorized to this day). I, unfortunately, never owned Contra during my childhood, but it is probably the video game I rented the most (probably enough to buy it several times over). (Nathan Patton)


3. Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out

I have never been more than a casual observer of actual boxing. Likewise, I have never had a strong desire to play a boxing video game. Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out (or just Punch-Out as the franchise was branded at a later date) is the exception. This masterpiece of a video game appealed to everyone whether they enjoyed boxing or couldn’t care less about it (that one’s for you, Phill!).  Punch-Out took a big risk by making the player’s character stationery. Your character, Lil Mac, couldn’t move around the ring. Instead, you were limited to dodging and ducking. This brilliant decision made every fight a test of pattern recognition and reflexes. There was little more satisfying on the NES than landing a counter punch at the perfect time in the perfect location which sent your opponent crumbling to the mat. Punch-Out was as much a puzzle game as a boxing game.  Success depended on trial and error and finding each opponent’s specific weaknesses. And every opponent was vastly different presenting a different puzzle to solve. Completing the game by beating Tyson remains to this day a source of bragging rights among gamers. (Mark Sass)

—–

Before Mike Tyson got so weird that Bill Simmons coined the highest level of weirdness “The Tyson Zone,” he was the baddest of men in the sports world. He was so intimidating he beat the undefeated heavyweight champion Michael Spinks in like 90 seconds one fight. So putting his name and likeness on an already popular boxing game called “Punch Out” was a brilliant advertising move.

We loved Glass Joe for how easy he was to beat. We loved King Hippo for how his pants dropped when you hit him in the belly. We loved Soda Popinski for how he talked trash. We loved Great Tiger for his unorthodox teleport move. We even loved Doc Lewis and referee Mario! But as Little Mac, beating Tyson was the golden grail. I never could do it, but those who did in my small farming community in rural SC were legends. (Gowdy Cannon)

—–

The first time I played this game was at a J.C. Penny or similar establishment. (They had a Nintendo system displayed and you could give it a test run.) I had never seen Punch Out before and had no idea what I was doing. Spoiler alert: I thought I was Glass Joe and “won” that fight convincingly.

Flash forward a few years when we finally owned the game and I realized only losers lose to Glass Joe. I redeemed myself by finally beating the game though, so I have that going for me.

Quick question, and be honest here: you peed yourself a little the first time you reached Mike Tyson, didn’t you? We all did. And that’s okay. (Phill Lytle)


2. The Legend of Zelda

Everything from the golden cartridge to the open-world, passive storytelling of this game was larger than life for me as a kid. I loved all of the secret passages and having to rely on strategy guides (Jeff Rovin’s “How to Win at Nintendo Games” and the Nintendo Power fold-out overworld map) to try and discover what you needed to do next in the game. Getting the raft, bombing holes in the walls, hands that could grab you and take you back to the beginning of the dungeon, playing the flute, the graveyard ghosts, all of it was magical. And there was a huge sense of accomplishment for me when I finally defeated Ganon, only then to discover an entirely new take on the world awaited. (D.A. Speer)

—–

With the exception of playing it a few, brief times at a friend’s house, I came to this game relatively late in life. Amazingly, that did not diminish my love for it. I did not have to discover every secret for myself since they were all documented online by that point, yet still, I have loved every minute of playing this game. This simply was just not the type of game I enjoyed playing as a child. If it had been, it would probably be up there with Super Mario Bros. 3, but it is very much the type of game I enjoy playing as an adult. (Nathan Patton)


1. Super Mario Bros. 3

Best game ever? We think so. Personally, I would take Tecmo Super Bowl over Mario 3, but it would be by the slimmest margin. Mario 3 was revolutionary. The original Mario was a fun game. It was the first NES game that most people played, and it was great. Mario 2 was wacky and weird and strange and felt so different from the first one that a lot of us had a hard time really getting into it. But Mario 3 was the perfect blend of all the great new ideas from Mario 2 combined with all the stuff we loved about Mario 1, but somehow better in every way. The game felt HUGE! Massive worlds. Plenty of secrets. Great gameplay. Honestly, I can’t think of a single negative thing to say about it. It’s a flawless game. (Phill Lytle)

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The three games I’ve played the most as far as actual time spent in the game are, in no particular order, World of Warcraft, Lord of the Rings Online, and Super Mario Bros. 3. Two of those are very open online RPGs that one can easily spend hours in doing pretty much nothing. The other is a classic side-scroller that I can beat in about 12 minutes. I lived on the west coast for a year but don’t remember hardly any of it because I spent almost all of that time discovering every nook and cranny of this game.

The gameplay of Super Mario Bros. 3 is perfect (no, that’s not an overstatement). The world design and level design were absolutely mind-blowing at the time, and have held up well over the years. This is, without a doubt, the best NES game… and the best video game of any system of all time. (Nathan Patton)

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I remember when I first got this game. It came out in February 1990, and in December of the same year, my parents surprised us with an NES for Christmas. For my 6th birthday in January of ’91, Mario 3 was my big gift from mom and dad. I remember opening up the gift and seeing the yellow box, then opening it and pouring over the manual. It would come to redefine my ideas of how much fun gaming could be. I played it all afternoon and night after my birthday party, and I remember that my parents fixed Tony’s pizza that night and I ate 9 pieces while playing the game. The game just never got old. It was the perfect side-scrolling game. Lots of fun and as challenging as you wanted it to be. Giant world, the desert sun that comes down and attacks you, hopping around in a boot, the cryptic tanooki suit, the extremely hard to get hammer brothers suit, P-wings, the warship end bosses, the warp whistles, the dark and hellish last world where wrenches and bombs come flying at you a mile a minute… The team behind this game absolutely nailed it and pushed the NES to its limits. Koji Kondo wrote the music too, which was, and still is, great. As a recent podcast put it, “This was Nintendo’s farewell love letter to the NES.” (D.A. Speer)


So there you have it. Agree? Disagree? Let us know below! And once you finish telling us how awesome (or dumb) we are in the comments section, you can check out these other articles on REO.

 




The Top Ten Nintendo Games of All Time (Part 1)

Ramblingeveron.com is a team of adult male writers, editors and IT guys, all around the ages of 35-45. Which means we were the perfect age when Nintendo exploded onto the national video game scene and dominated for a few years. Yes, Atari, Sega and Playstation at various times and in various ways have had their turns in the sun, but is anything in this arena as classic as the original Nintendo? We don’t think so, which is why we voted on the best game of that system. These are the games we binged on for years in our youth.

Since we had so much to say about them, we have divided it into two parts. Today we blow into the cartridge, line this up just right, and proudly present games 10 through 5. Come back next week for the Top Four.


10. Duck Hunt

One summer my sister and I spent a couple weeks at my grandparents house in Ohio. I, of course, being the social butterfly that I was, brought along my NES and launched into a Duck Hunt marathon. I finally beat all 99 levels gaining access to the secret level 0, then pretty much never played again. (Nathan Patton)


9. Ninja Gaiden Franchise

Based on our voting, a good number of us liked these games, though based on how many people volunteered to write about it, it does not seem that anyone loved these games. Even though I only played the 2nd installment, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a fluid gaming experience. I always felt like I had good control over the character. One of my childhood dreams was to become a ninja, so all the jumping, sword stabbing, and star throwing were as close as I would ever get to fulfilling that dream. (Phill Lytle)


8. TMNT II The Arcade Game

At arcades across the country, TMNT was responsible for taking more allowance money than the local school bully. When the game was released on the NES it was like Christmas and your birthday every day. This was an era when beat ’em ups dominated the arcade scene and TMNT was one of the best. The game faithfully recreated the world of the Turtles in a way that both looked and felt like the popular cartoon. As a result, it was extremely entertaining and satisfying to chose your favorite Turtle and issue a beat down on the Foot Clan. (Mark Sass)

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B, A, B, A, Up, Down, B, A, Left, Right, (hold down in sequence: B, A, start). No, this isn’t the Konami code, but this is really the only code I needed as a kid anyway. It’s the code to get nine lives in TMNT 2: The Arcade Game for NES, the game that I undoubtedly played more than any other one in my collection. I remember the actual arcade game sitting in the lobby of the old Dickson, TN Walmart. I never remember seeing it without at least one person playing. Donatello was unquestionably the best because of his reach, and I eventually leveled up my skills enough to beat it from start to finish with no cheats and no continues. This game is “the” picture of my childhood, and I’m so glad to see it make the list of top 10. (D.A. Speer)


7. Battletoads

I played Battletoads approximately a billion times and beat it once. The gameplay of Battletoads was so great, though, that the knowledge of certain failure was no real deterrent in continuing to play and enjoy the game. Co-op play was especially fun though inevitable always devolved into fighting due to the friendly fire (and may have devolved into fighting in real life a time or two). (Nathan Patton)


6. Super Mario Bros.

Super Mario Bros. was my introduction to NES gaming and the first video game I’d ever personally owned. For Christmas of 1989, my parents gave me an NES bundle with Super Mario Bros., Duck Hunt (with zapper), and World Class Track Meet (with power pad). I was shocked and delighted. I eventually got around to playing the other two games, but Super Mario Bros. was first, well after I got my father to stop playing, that is. (Nathan Patton)


5. Tecmo Super Bowl

The first three stages of evolution of video game football in my house growing up were 1) Block Men on the Atari that were facing the wrong way and that you had to manually turn around with the joystick before every play 2) Ten Yard Fight on NES 3) John Elway’s Quarterback on NES.

Then came the future in the late 80s: Tecmo Bowl. Boy, was it the coolest thing since Elvis. And then a couple of years later they totally outdid themselves with an upgraded version called Tecmo Super Bowl. All 28 NFL teams with real logos. Eleven players on the field instead of nine. Real world weather like snow. Detailed stats just like in the real NFL. Eight – 8! – plays to choose from. You could reverse it to Sterling Sharpe or fake reverse it. You could air it out 80 yards to Jerry Rice. Or you could do what everyone longed to do and pick the Raiders so you could run Bo Jackson like a deer in the open field. He was stupidly unstoppable as seen here.

My brothers and I played this game for so many hours they add up to weeks. Even with further evolutions on other systems, notably the John Madden series, this is still my favorite sports video game of all time. (Gowdy Cannon)

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I am still disappointed (furious) that this game didn’t make it higher on our list. It’s the best sports’ game ever. It was fun to play in the season mode, trying to rack up stats and wins, and it was fun to play against other players, in our very own round robin tournaments. It’s still fun to play, all these years later. It holds up just fine. Graphics have improved, and games have become more “realistic”, but no game has ever captured my imagination like TSB did.

Did anyone else run out of bounds to keep the stats more realistic or was that just the Lytle boys that did that sort of thing? (Phill Lytle)

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The original Tecmo Bowl was unlike anything we had seen before. Then Tecmo Super Bowl came along and improved upon it in every way. More plays, season stats tracking, Barry Sanders!, QB Eagles (aka Randall Cunningham), Houston’s run and shoot offensive plays, the list goes on and on. For my money, it is the best NES game ever and maybe the best video game ever. The only reason it did not finish higher on our list is that a few members of our esteemed panel do not have the proper appreciation for sports games. I can neither confirm nor deny that my brothers and I threw our controllers at the TV when the game decided that we were going to lose no matter what. (Mike Lytle)


Opinions? Let us know below. And please check back next week for the rest of this list! While you wait, check out these other articles that might interest you.

Part Two is out now! Check out the Final Four by clicking here.




Five Sports’ Moments We Wish We Could Experience for the First Time

Not every sporting event is an instant classic. Most have their share of good and bad moments. A few are filled with so much bad that we wish we could forever wipe them from our memories. But then there are those special games, those special moments that keep us coming back again and again. The championship won on a last shot. The huge play that completely turned the game around. These games and moments become a part of us. Those memories will always be there but every now and then, wouldn’t it be amazing if we could relive them for the first time? Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could somehow go back in time and experience the excitement, tension, and overwhelming joy all over again? If we did have that ability, these are a few of the games and moments we would like to see again…for the first time.


March 28, 1992  Duke vs. Kentucky
by Steve Lytle

My most memorable basketball game, and probably the most memorable sports event for me was Duke-Kentucky, March 28, 1992.  I was traveling for the Mission (Free Will Baptist International Missions), and staying with a pastor in the mountains of Western North Carolina, probably less than 30 miles from Johnson City, Tennessee. The pastor and his wife graciously allowed me to watch the game, even as we conversed and fellowshipped. I knew my boys were watching it in Kingsport, TN where we lived that year home from Panama on stateside assignment.

Wilkipedia sums up the game like this:
The 1992 NCAA Tournament was highlighted by a game between Duke and Kentucky in the East Regional Final to determine the final spot in the Final Four. With 2.1 seconds remaining in overtime, defending national champion Duke trailed 103–102. Grant Hill threw a pass the length of the court to Christian Laettner, who faked right, dribbled once, turned, and hit a jumper as time expired for the 104–103 win. In 2004 Sports Illustrated deemed it the greatest college basketball game of all time, and ESPN included it as number 17 on its list of top 100 sports moments of the past 25 years (see ESPN25). It is ranked number one on the list of the greatest NCAA tournament games of all time compiled by USA Today in 2002.

The game had everything: drama, history (two of the most storied schools in the history of NCAA basketball), importance (the right to go to the Final Four), great coaches (Mike  Krzyzewski, Rick Pitino), and a huge television audience. I don’t think there has ever been a more dramatic ending. (NC State – Houston, 1983 when Lorenzo Charles dunked the winning basket against the highly favored Cougars comes close; I jumped up and broke a couch in Panama that day!)  My reaction in the Duke-Kentucky had to be subdued; I was a guest, they weren’t basketball fans, it was late, but I immediately went to where the landline phone was and called my boys! They had had to celebrate in silence as well; Judy was in bed with a migraine!

It had everything: an underdog KY team that played well throughout, featuring 4 players who had hung in even though the school had just come off academic probation, and future NBA star Jamal Mashburn.  Duke had outstanding point guard Bobby Hurley, the great Grant Hill, and Christian Laettner. Laettner would go on to the NBA where his game didn’t quite translate to all-star status at that level (only once in his career), but at the college level he was versatile, intelligent, talented, and dominant. In this game for all time, he scored 31 points, shooting 10-10 from the field, and 10-10 from the free throw line.

In short, one of the most entertaining games ever, and one of the most emotional, but neither my sons or I could express our emotions!

 


2008 Summer Olympics – 4×100 Swimming Freestyle Relay
by Gowdy Cannon

The fact this was ten years ago is as good an example of any of how fast time flies because it feels like it was yesterday. The buzz around Michael Phelps potentially winning 8 golds was electric. We had seen this type of buzz in years prior with people failing to do it [1.I’m thinking of Matt Biondi in 1988, though let it be noted that he still had an incredible Olympics, and earned a mention in the book Emotional Intelligence for his grit in coming back to win 5 golds after he failed to win his first couple of events.]. And when you have events where you have to rely on others to help you win, as Phelps did for a couple of relay races that year, it makes it even more tenuous.

The one of the 8 that I will never ever forget was one of those relays, the 4×100 freestyle. Phelps swam the lead leg and did his part by setting an American record for 100 meters in the freestyle and putting the U.S. in first. But by the last leg, Jason Lezak found himself more than half a body length behind Frenchman Alain Bernard in the last half of the last lap. I remember thinking, “It’s over. He’s not going to get to 8.” I knew very little about swimming races but it seemed obvious that it was too big a deficit to overcome. I was devastated for Phelps and our country. A repeat of 1988 was unfolding before our eyes.

But then, like a superhero moment in a movie, Lezak began to catch him. Yet time and distance were running out. He couldn’t do it, could he? Swimming like they both were on fire, they rapidly approached the wall and touched it. It looked live like Lezak won by a finger tip, or maybe a fingernail. There was a second of anticipation for the official result…and he did it! He came from behind and won! I jumped around my apartment like a maniac, high-fiving and hugging people without a trace of inhibition. The official margin was .08 seconds. But Phelps earned his 2nd gold and kept the dream of 8 alive.

We love the Olympics for a million reasons and endings like this one are one of them. Phelps’ 8 golds were not won in a vacuum. They were won with the help of teammates and that makes it feel like the were won by the whole nation.

Click the image above to watch the video of the race.

 


Vince Young’s 99 yard Walk Off Drive
by Phill Lytle

2009 is not a season that most Titans’ fans remember fondly. The team finished the season 8-8. (A Jeff Fisher team finished 8-8? Whaaaaa?!?) Let’s back up a bit to understand why that 8-8 finish was so disappointing.

The Tennessee Titans were one of the best teams in the NFL in 2008, finishing with a 13-3 record. They started that season 10-0. They lost in the playoffs to the eventual Super Bowl champs – the Baltimore Ravens. After a depressing early exit from the post-season, every Titans’ fan just knew that 2009 was going to be another chance to watch their team make a run for a championship. Things worked out a little differently.

The Titans opened the season by losing their first 6 games. They lost their sixth straight game, falling to the New England Patriots 59-0. Yes, 59 to ZERO. Starting QB Kerry Collins was benched and Vince Young replaced him. What happened after that further solidified Young’s place as one of the most enigmatic and confounding players to ever step on the field.

The Titans proceeded to reel off four straight wins. On November 29th, they faced the Matt Leinart led Arizona Cardinals. The game itself was nothing spectacular. It was two mediocre teams playing mostly mediocre football. But the final minute of the game was the stuff legends are made of.

With a little over two minutes to play and no timeouts, Vince Young led the Titans on a completely improbable 99 yard drive. (They needed a touchdown to win the game. A field goal would have done them no good.) Young ran, threw, and willed his team down the field, getting a little help by one favorable bounce, and converting multiple fourth down throws. Finally, with seconds left, on 4th down from the ten yard line, Young, scrambled around hoping to find an open receiver, spotted Kenny Britt racing across the back of the end zone. Young threw the ball to an open spot and Britt flew through the air to make the catch.

I sat there in disbelief. While Young’s professional career was never as good as people hoped, it was moments like this that proved that when the moment called for it, he seemed to come up with just the right play. To this day, it is one of the best performances I have ever seen and I would love to sit down and see it again for the first time.

 


Jadaveon Clowney’s Hit vs. Michigan in the 2013 Outback Bowl
by Gowdy Cannon

South Carolina football has fallen on mediocre times recently, right where the program was for most of my life pre-Steve Spurrier. But for several years earlier this decade, the Gamecocks were a Top 10 team. The highlight of the run was a hit that got replayed over and over on sports highlight shows and to this day still fills people with a sense of awe.

The Gamecocks were battling the Wolverines in a January 1st Bowl in Tampa, FL. Ahead 22-21 midway through the 4th quarter, Michigan faked a punt but appeared to fail to convert the first down. A measurement seemed to confirm this—they were 2-3 chain lengths short. But the officials awarded the first down to Michigan, despite screams of protests from Spurrier.

The very next play it happened. Taylor Lewan had shut the All-American Clowney down all afternoon. But somehow someone missed a block on this play and as soon as Michigan QB Devin Garnder handed the ball Vincent Smith, Clowney was right there to blow him up, knocking his helmet off and forcing a fumble which he himself recovered. It was a play that earned the Gamecocks justice but also just looked incredible as it unfolded, like this monster defensive end took matters into his own hands and would not be denied. Clowney may as well have been Chuck Norris for that moment.

I was at the game with my brothers and dad and were behind the play in the end zone. I would not trade seeing it live for anything but if I could watch it for the first time again I would love to see it from the 50 yard line or on TV because seeing it from left to right shows how visually spectacular it was.


2014 NBA Finals
by Phill Lytle

Sometimes I feel like I am more defined by which teams I hate than the teams I love. Mainly, because the teams I hate win a lot. The Chicago Bulls. The New England Patriots. 2014 provided a wonderful convergence between the team I hated the most in the NBA at that time – the Miami Heat – and my favorite basketball team of the last 15 years or so – the San Antonio Spurs. The previous year, the Heat had made an impressive (and annoying) comeback and defeated the Spurs for the NBA championship. 2014 had no time for comebacks or heroics by the Heat. The Spurs put on a clinic, winning the series 4 games to 1. Every win for the Spurs was a blowout. To the casual fan, I’m sure it was not a very interesting series. To me, it was impossible to stop smiling as I watched my favorite team completely dismantle LeBron James and his band of front-running losers. Watching Kawhi Leonard win the Finals MVP while his team celebrated was the perfect conclusion to a perfect series. There are few times in my life as a sports’ fan that have brought me more happiness. I could live in that moment again and again.

 


Those are ours. What about you? What sports’ moment do you wish you could see again for the first time? What game, play, or even series would you want to relive? Let us know in the comment section below. And please, if you enjoy this or any other of our articles, share them with your friends on social media. We are entirely dependent on word of mouth for advertising.