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)

—–

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)

—–

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)

—–

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)

—–

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)

—–

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.

 

 




When the Best Seat is the Worst Seat

Guest post by Jeff Caudill, Executive Pastor at Cofer’s Chapel.

 

Best seat available. When purchasing seats to the theater, a sporting event, etc. we often are given the option to choose the best seat available. We want to be up close. We want to have the best view of the movie. We want to see the actors and hear the dialogue. We hope to get close to the action. (None of these apply to being at church, but that is a subject for another time.)

However, no one wants the front seat at a funeral. If you are in the front seat at a funeral, it typically means you are closest relationally to the person who has died. I recently sat in that seat. My dad fell down the stairs at home. He never recovered from his injuries. On July 6, 2018 he made his transition from this life to the next and is now in the presence of Jesus.

Sitting in that seat you have the best view of the deceased in the casket. You can see and hear the soloist best. From that seat, you can see the emotion of the speaker very clearly. Everyone who attends the funeral shares condolences with those seated in the front seat.

My mom sat in that seat throughout the visitation and funeral for my Dad. I sat next to her along with my siblings for the funeral. While sitting there and in the days since I have made some observations:

1. You are never really prepared to sit in that seat.

It is still like a nightmare hoping to wake up from. I was not ready for my Dad to go. His eternity in heaven was/is secure. He left us a tremendous heritage. We will live in those truths from now on. But, I was not ready for him to go. A few months prior to his accident he had sent me information about his life insurance, pension, etc. I barely looked at it. I barely looked at it, that is, until the day he passed. I guess my point is life is precious and fragile. We know this but sitting in that seat reminded me of this very fact. This is a reminder to us all. Keep eternity in view and enjoy the life and family God has given you here and now.

 

2. People seated in the front seat at a funeral can handle more than they may think.

I would never have guessed we would have had to endure what we did following my Dad’s accident. We had long days and nights in the hospital. We had to discuss things and make decisions no family should have to discuss or decide. We had to do things while caring for Dad once he came home, under hospice care, I would not wish anyone would have to do for a family member. The physical and emotional stress of it all was deeply draining. We were only able to handle it with God’s help. He helped us do things and have conversations we would not have been able to do on our own. As a believer, when you sit in that seat, He sits there with you.

 

3. Those seated in the front seat at a funeral can grow closer to each other.

This was true for us. Some families fight and have major issues during times of loss. Our family did none of those things. We worked together as we made our way through difficult decisions, funeral planning, going through Dad’s things, etc. I know our Christian faith played a major role in us getting along and coming together in the most difficult of times. Family is so important. Love your family now and allow God to bring you even closer through difficult times. Don’t allow your own selfishness or bitterness to make an already difficult situation worse.

 

4. Your family, friends, and church are such a tremendous support and help to those who sit in that front seat.

The prayers along with the tangible gifts of money, gift cards, and food were invaluable. God sustained us through the prayers of His people. I witnessed this to be true! He also used family and friends to meet our needs during those difficult days. I was and am still amazed at everything people did and provided for us. Allow God to use you to help hurting people. Be proactive. You might be amazed at what $20 or a Kroger gift card will do to help someone in a difficult time during the death of a loved one.

 

5. The ones seated in that front seat hear many kind words about the one who passed.

So many people came by to tell us what a great man Dad was. People talked about how he impacted their lives. They mentioned his godly life, his teaching of the Word, the heritage he left behind, his love for God, His church, the Word, and his support of the pastor. We were so proud to hear all those things. We knew them all to be true. He, however, did not always feel his life made an impact. Like anything, we can take this too far, but I think it is important to also let people know they are making an impact while they are alive. Go ahead and provide genuine compliments when they are deserved. Let people know how much they have impacted your life. Even to those who may struggle to receive compliments, give them anyway. Everyone needs to know their lives and ministries matter. Sure, we should not do what we do for the “applause of men.” However, knowing you made a difference is such an encouragement.


I want the best available seat at an event. I love sitting close to the action. However, I hope it is a long time before I have to sit in the front seat at a funeral again. Sooner or later it happens to us all. We need God’s help in those extreme times. He was there for our family. He wants to be there for yours as well.

 

 

 




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Warriors Set To Sign Thor, Incredible Hulk to Maintain Their Gigantic Advantage Over Rest of NBA

Oakland, CA–Sources are reporting that the Golden State Warriors, in response to LeBron James signing with the Los Angeles Lakers, and just hours after signing highly coveted free agent DeMarcus Cousins, have also reached agreements with several Marvel Superheroes to guarantee they keep their enormous talent advantage over the rest of the NBA for the third year in a row.

So far Thor and The Incredible Hulk have signed 1-year, cap-friendly deals and the team has also reached out to Iron Man and Ant-Man, though the team would have to petition the NBA to be more flexible regarding uniforms to ensure the suits would be part of the deal.

“Things got tense there for a second,” comment Kevin Durant. “I came here to make sure I would have a cakewalk to the championship every year and if the Lakers add Kawhi then my plan would have been legit in danger. Having Hulk in the low post and the God of Thunder flying all over the court, literally, is going to keep us on cruise control all season long.”

“Yeah, it’s all cool,” Commented Warriors’ guard and two time NBA MVP Steph Curry, with his typical boyish charm. “Warriors Assemble! And all that.”

Thor, explaining his decision, added, “I do not know this game of baskets and balls, but upon my honor, I shall endeavor to vanquish all our enemies. I fought for millennia alongside the Warriors Three (Odin rest their souls) and shall now wage glorious battle with the Warriors of the Golden State.”

Hulk had no comment.

In a completely unprecedented move, sources also say Bugs Bunny and Wayne Knight have reached out to the Warriors, hoping their contributions in vanquishing the MonStars 22 years ago will make them attractive potential free agents as well.

Check back here for the latest on this quickly developing story.




Enlightened Woman Leaves Christianity Due to Jesus and the Apostles’ Dehumanizing Language

Portland, Oregon – Emily Van Zant has been a churchgoer all her life, until now. She was born and raised attending church “any time the doors were open,” as she puts it. But recently, the more she reads the Bible, the more problems she has with the tone and rhetoric from some of Christianity’s key figures.

“I tried for a long time to ignore the angry and hostile language that many of the Apostles were spewing. My breaking point was when I realized that this problem originated with Jesus. I decided I could no longer align myself with such intolerant and dehumanizing language and ideology. All people are valuable and created with the spark of divinity. Calling them ‘a brood of vipers’ or ‘white-washed tombs’ was just a bridge too far for me. Shouldn’t we be showing love to everyone, not just those that agree with us?”

Ms. Van Zant joins a growing number of disillusioned ex-Christians who are looking to live out their faith in a more inclusive and tolerant manner. Ms. Van Zant continues:

“I was already struggling with Paul calling Jews “dogs” in Philippians 3:2. But when a good friend of mine pointed out that Jesus called a Canaanite woman a “dog” I knew this sort of intolerance and bigotry was something I could no longer condone. I embarked on a journey of reflection and fact-finding, and I realized this intolerance went deeper than just language. It was foundational to the entire Christian faith. Jesus’ entire ministry and message were built on non-inclusivity, intolerance, and self-centeredness. He actually taught that he was the only way to heaven! The level of arrogance it takes to make that claim is mindboggling. That was his path, and I respect him for that, but you can’t force your path on anyone else. You aren’t allowed to tell other people that their path is wrong. That’s not how this works. More and more people are seeing the truth and coming to the realization that the party is over for Jesus and his good time buddies of intolerance.”

For the time being, Emily Van Zant is on her own path, seeking knowledge, wisdom, and faith in a number of religions and faiths.

“I will keep looking until I find something that works best for me. And once I do, I will be sure to tell everyone how intolerant and bigoted they are if they disagree with me.”




Why Social Media Died: A Blog Post I Apparently Sent to Myself from the Year 2040.

Guest Post by Jon Forrest

This is crazy. Apparently sometime in the future, we figure out how to send mediocre blog posts back to the past! I know! It shocked me too. It just showed up in my cloud. You should totally check yours. It looks to be from around the year 2040. Good news: the fonts are still pretty much the same. Bad news: my writing doesn’t improve one little bit. (allegedly)

I know most of you were hoping never to be reminded of the social media era again, but I think it’s important for us to remember our past mistakes or else we are doomed to repeat them.

For those of you young and fortunate enough not to remember the “Enlightened Dark Age” as we know it today let me give you a little refresher. Not long after the advent of smart phones, the age of social media began. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (now known as Ursource) ruled the lives of the masses.

It seems ridiculous now but these sites were platforms where people could say things like, “I’m totes dreading the dentist tomorrow.” Then the next day they could post a picture of themselves with their mouths full of gauze. Please don’t ask me why we did it. The old days were weird. Remember this is before Dan Cathy and I became best friends and I automated Chick-fil-A on that one day so it could open on Sundays after church. It was my pleasure. But yeah, we had it rough. They were indeed the bad ole days.

Here are 5 of the reasons it mercifully, finally, thankfully failed.

1. It was an absolutely false representation of our real selves.

I remember when and where I was when I realized social media was doomed. Back in 2018 we had a fast food place called Sonic. We drove cars back then and the unique thing about this restaurant was you could drive your car to small station and hit a button to order your food and have it brought to you by a carhop. They were known for their delicious ice. Yes. Back before we all had dihydrogen monoxide units strapped to our backs we had to drink liquids. We also ate frozen pellets of water for fun. And Sonic had the absolute best frozen pellets.

One hot June day in 2018 when I pulled in and ordered a diet cherry limeade (too much to explain) I saw a girl sitting at one of the tables taking a selfie. “Selfie” is slang for taking a picture of yourself. Selfies were a huge part of social media. This girl at the Sonic took a picture, looked at it with disgust, reposed and took another one. She did this 4 times! She looked so unhappy sitting there with her friend who was also on her phone, but in the selfie her smile beamed as she got the light just right for “exposure’s” sake.

It’s impossible not to compare this girl’s actions to Narcissus who appeared in Greek mythology. We get our idea of Narcism from him. He was so pretty, one day when he saw his reflection in a pool he was unable to leave the reflected image to continue life. Ultimately he died in that exact spot.

This 2018 Sonic version of Narcissus who couldn’t look away from her image was telling people “I’m having a blast here at the Sonic while you live your miserable thirsty life in shambles.” The crazy thing is we all bought it for 20 years! Social media survived this “emperor’s new clothes” lie for 20 years. I can’t explain it. I’m just so thankful some enlightened soul spoke up one day and said, “Hey, y’all know this chick we’re all jealous of is basically just eating a corn dog at the Sonic like the rest of us. Why are we wasting our time ‘liking’ it?”

 

2. We got tired of making photo ops instead of memories and cameras can’t do memories justice.

I do not have a picture of my wife when they opened the back doors of the church and I saw her standing there arm in arm with her dad, but it would not do that moment justice if I did. There was no videographer in the room when the nurse handed my daughter to me for the first time, but I promise if I had a video of that occasion I’d say, “They missed it. That’s not even close to what I felt that day.”

Sure we can see things in 5d QR Crystal Lens now, but even that is like looking through a filthy foggy window compared to the resolution of our minds. God blessed us with that. I’m so glad we realized it sooner than later. I’m just sorry we wasted two decades of memories.

 

3. Although we all enjoy the right to freedom of the press, not all of us should exercise that right.

How do I put this gently? Many of the people I knew in 2018 had ideas that were insane. I’m not talking about my close friends who read my blogs. Those guys… geniuses, but most of the other people who posted on social media were wackos. No, they had wacko ideas in a moment and they shared them.

Proverbs 17:28 is so right. “Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; when he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive.” (NKJV) Back in 2018 NO ONE shut his lips and we were all dumber for it.

 

4. FOML finally caught up with FOMO.

In 2004 Patrick J. McGinnis coined the term “FOMO.” Steady yourself. This isn’t going to make sense to you. FOMO is the fear of missing out. We were slaves to these platforms to the point of being unable to stand in line, ride in a car, or simply sit in a chair without looking at our device. Constant checking overtook us. “Finally awake. I better check Facebook.” “Break time. I better refresh my Instagram feed.” “Red light. Wonder what’s on Snap.” “I’m between contractions. Let me update Twitter.”

This is actually one of my posts from 2017. “Just got stung in the belly by a wasp. Not sure if it’s swollen or if I’ve put on a few lbs.” Someone neglected a sunset because he was afraid he’d miss out on that nugget of nonsense.

Fortunately at some point we replaced the “fear of missing out” with of the “fear of missing life.” We looked up from the recipe video our neighbor posted and took our neighbor a plate of cookies. We shut our laptops and topped our laps with the kids we had been yelling at for not holding the pose we needed to get for a post. We laid down our notebook and took note of the books including THE Book that had gathered dust.

We took back life.

 

5. We finally all blocked one another.

You know I’d love to be able to say we experienced this great renaissance of knowledge and that’s the sole reason social media collapsed, but truthfully we all finally got so sick of one another’s baloney we each ended up blocking everyone except 4 followers. And it turned out those 4 remaining “followers” were fake accounts we’d set up to like our posts.

 


Whoa! Look at the time.

There are a couple of other reasons social media ended but I have to get back to work. This country isn’t going to run its self. I probably wouldn’t have agreed to this 4th term if I’d known it would be this busy. Not to mention these people from Time apparently need a new picture every time you win “Person of the Year.” And I have a Kessel run today and only 8 parsecs to do it in.

If I can get this time bending copy machine to load the stupid paper and you’re reading this before 2021 when social media meets its demise, do yourself a favor, beat the crowd and start to ween yourself off of it today.


(Editor’s Note: A big thanks to Jon Forrest for allowing us to run this post today. You can read more of his stuff over at Steal My Youth Ministry Stuff. Trust us, you will love it.)

 




Chick-Fil-A Introduces “The Self Loather” Chicken Sandwich for LGBTQ Patrons Who Hate Themselves for Eating CFA

Atlanta, GA– Giant, gay-hating, fast-casual chain, Chick-Fil-A, has just unveiled their newest culinary creation – “The Self Loather.” It is a standard CFA chicken sandwich topped with a slice of Monterey Jack cheese and Carolina Reaper pepper infused garlic aioli. Dan Cathy, CEO and President of the homophobic restaurant describes it this way, “We wanted to have a chicken sandwich for all the LGBTQ people out there that love our food, but feel guilty about eating it. This new sandwich is the best of both worlds. It’s an incredibly delicious sandwich, but due to the extra spicy additions to our traditional, and incredibly bigoted sandwich, it leaves a burn that will remind any LGBTQers that partake of it that their taste buds have placed them firmly on the wrong side of history.”

Chick-Fil-A is also planning on unveiling a second gay-friendly chicken sandwich in the fourth quarter of 2018 they are tentatively calling “The LGBTBBQ.” We will report any updates on that story as they become available.