NBA Season Restart Betting Odds: Opening Lines for

The Current OP Meta is a Result of all of Valorant's Combined Flaws.

Hey guys, I'm a 10 year CS player here. Previously played at Level 9 Faceit and A - ESEA. Have probably 1000+ hours of watching pro games under my belt, and even more spent in KZ and HnS servers. I love Valorant, and I love a lot of what they're trying to do with this game in comparison to CS. But, I think the current OP meta is a result of almost every short coming the game has right now (for the most part).
Firstly, I think it's important to preface this by saying that Valorant is 100% by design, made to be easier / more approachable than CS:GO. You can see this in almost every aspect of the game. If it's something that was intimidating to new players in CS, it's been massively simplified here. Spray patterns are far less aggressive. Lineups have been almost entirely eliminated, or completely streamlined. Movement speed has been reduced to allow for easier tracking and aiming. Counter-strafing has been forgotten and replaced by instant momentum. Even the slight advantage you got from good movement (brought along by thousands of hours of practice in CS:GO) has been entirely eliminated by a massive simplification of movement in general, as well as how severe tagging is. I'm not saying these are negative aspects of the game. I understand almost if not all of these changes. Tons of these choices succeed in their desired goal, and it's lead to tons of my friends enjoying this game despite never getting more than 4 games into CS.
With all that said tho, lots of these choices indirectly feed into the current OP meta.
I don't say this lightly either. If you were to directly compare the AWP and the OP, the AWP is hands down 3x more powerful than the OP currently is.
It boasts :
//Thanks to u/IAmNotOnRedditAtWork for pointing some of these out as they escaped me
I have a shortish video on this, with some old community server / lower level faceit games. It's presented as more of a frag movie than anything so there's no need to watch it, but I do think it can offer some important context when talking about how insane the AWP actually is for high level players.
I've edited it to have specific time stamps in the description so that you can jump between the clips that are actually relevant to this discussion. Turn down volume as there is music and I'm sure its obnoxious. Here you go
Despite the obvious advantages the AWP has, we don't really see it being as prevalent and oppressive as we do in Valorant. We do not see double AWP and Triple AWP rounds being NEAR as viable as they are here, with triple AWP rounds being almost nonexistent.
I chalk this up to quite a few things :



And this kinda brings me to my next issue. And probably the one we all should have expected.

CS has very tried and true bits of utility at play. Smokes, Mollies, and Flashes. When you play CS at a level where executes are necessary, it's actually quite fascinating to learn how each map has been designed with utility constantly in mind. Cache B site for instance, there's a window directly above site meant for throwing utility. Mirage A has a massive area above ramp for throwing util. Inferno Apts even has fucking windows on the opposite side of site, with a chimney adjacent to them in order for you to bank utility off of. Dust 2 recently underwent a change in B tuns to allow for more utility and site executes given how hard the site was too take control of. Whether it be on attacks or retakes. Valorant has streamlined "utility" so much, that they've forgotten the exact reason why it was implemented in the way that it was in CS:GO, and why it worked so well. Valorant has thrown thoughtful map design out the window in favor of meaningless gimmicks that fall flat after your 5th game on the map.
Guess what Riot, I don't care about opening and closing destructible doors, or ropes that give you a surprising amount of velocity and accuracy while attached, and definitely not 3 fucking sites. I play ranked games where my opponents go 3-14 and then start fragging out when they decide to whip out the OP. The gun is too easy to use and it sports almost zero counter-play. IT IS AN ISSUE. I understand not jumping the gun and rushing towards some half ass balancing decision, but you've been so quick to address smaller issues that didn't actively suck the fun out of the game and reward players for using an obvious crutch.
// People have pointed out some poor phrasing on my part here, would just like to iterate that I'm not against these kinds of gimmicks, they have a place and I don't mean to undermine anyone who enjoys them. I just think these gimmicks are being used in place of good map design. Sort of a "sure ascent is a terrible map but here are some doors you can open and close, this one has ropes!"
Ascent is the closest map to CS design we currently have in Valorant in my opinion, and it still ignores most of what made those maps work in the first place. Scrap the gimmicks. Nobody wants this random shit. I want maps with intelligent design choices, meaningful spots for fair trades at the beginning of rounds, I want maps designed with rotates in mind and counter-play at heart. You can tell CS maps are designed with all the games utility in mind. I'm constantly reminded that I can't say the same about any of Valorant's maps.
With that being said, what are some ways to fix these issues?

  1. Add a slight time frame with the OP that adds inaccuracy after moving, keep this outside of movement speed, have it be its own value. For instance, if you scope in with the OP, then strafe to the side and stop moving, add an extra .5 or whatever amount of time where there is still an innaccuracy debuff applied. OPs are meant for holding angles, they are already ridiculously good at that in this game. Punish them for playing aggressive.
  2. Phoenix's flash needs a slight "rework" to come more into line with vision blocking utility in relation to cutting off angles. Phoenix's flash shouldn't pop so quickly. I think it sports niche usability with little counter-play. When throwing out Phoenix's flash, have it hover in air at the very end of it's duration while giving it an obvious "charge-up" animation, give a larger (but still small) window in order to either back off an angle, or to turn your back too it, and then have it pop, and increase the time frame in which you're flashed slightly. I also considered having Phoenix be invulnerable to his flash, as a way to give Phoenix a way to more reliably entry, while still forcing him to play slightly outside of his team in these situations, (or risk flashing them). This promotes playing anti flash and/or less predictable and maybe even more dangerous positions in order to deny Phoenix this ground when he attempts to entry. I think it adds a reasonable amount of counter play in a game that severely lacks it currently, I think it gives Phoenix some needed independence and room to make these types of solo plays, while also letting an agent specifically gain ground around OPers. I think a good way to envision this is Ascension A site. Instead of OPing heaven when you know Phoenix likes to flash in from main and push you off your angle, you can play on site to the left, and play anti flash in order to kill him when he attempts to entry. Diagram Here
  3. LET YOUR COMMUNITY DESIGN MAPS FOR YOU. For the love of god the fact that I even have to say this makes me angry. Community interaction has lead to CS being the powerhouse of an E-sport it is today. Volcano's involvement is proof of this. No one is saying you have to add them as actual competitive maps, but acting like you can produce better content than your entire community is ridiculously naive when you've already shown that's NOT the case. Add some kind of community tool for your players to design maps, and have some kind of game mode that rotates these featured community maps every couple of months or something. Even if it's just to give the team at Riot ideas and inspiration. I was worried months ago when you said you weren't going to allow even the most basic of community creativity in this regard. It's okay to be wrong Riot. Valve was smart enough to realize the community could carry some of that workload, while also teaching them and giving them inspiration. Volcano is on your dev team because of this reality.
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I Watched Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Season 3)

Welcome to my review/reactions for my first viewing of the third season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.!
Click these links if you'd like to read my thoughts on Season 1 and Season 2.
I've decided to try something new where I wrote down some thoughts during each episode. I included said thoughts on bullet points plus any others that I have during the writing of this post.
In addition to episode-by-episode thoughts, I will once again quote some things I said in my Season 2 post and update my feelings on them.
Finally, I'll do some quick thoughts on the characters as well as predictions for the next season!
Before we begin: I never saw the original Terminator.

"Laws of Nature" - Episode 1

Bullet points are real-time thoughts I had that were written as I was watching.
Looking back, this is a really good episode. Rosalind's introduction is good and we indeed got Civil War, just a bit differently than what I was expecting.

"Purpose in the Machine" - Episode 2

I'm so glad that Simmons returned this early. I was a little fearful that it'd be dragged out to about the 10th episode.

"A Wanted (Inhu)man" - Episode 3

Wow. Now I get it! Jemma was crying in the restaurant because of Will! AHHH!!!
Even after watching the rest of the season, the Daisy/Lincoln relationship is still weird. Well, was weird. I didn't feel that kind of chemistry between them. If I'm being honest, I see more of a spark between her and Fitz than I did with Lincoln.

"Devils You Know" - Episode 4

"4,722 Hours" - Episode 5

"Among Us Hide..." - Episode 6

"Chaos Theory" - Episode 7

"Many Heads, One Tale" - Episode 8

"Closure" - Episode 9

This was one of my favorite episodes thus far. Watching an angry and desperate Coulson is something to be seen.

"Maveth" - Episode 10

"Bouncing Back" - Episode 11

"The Inside Man" - Episode 12

"Parting Shot" - Episode 13

The bar scene at the end made me cry. That hit extremely hard. They get their happy ending. I hope they come back at some point, even if it's for a couple episodes in the final season. There's this paranoia in the back of my mind that they'll return as part of Hydra.

"Watchdogs" - Episode 14

"Spacetime" - Episode 15

The only time I've found Lincoln interesting is when he was at Afterlife. Everything since then hasn't had me interested in him.

"Paradise Lost" - Episode 16

"The Team" - Episode 17

"The Singularity" - Episode 18

"Failed Experiments" - Episode 19

"Emancipation" - Episode 20

"Absolution" - Episode 21

"Ascension" - Episode 22

That's my episode-by-episode thoughts on the season!
Now it's time to look at the ones from Season 2 and update them:
I repeat: THIS SHOW HAS GUTS. The way they've handled Ward is masterful, I must admit. During S1, I thought he was just on this arc of the isolated dude that learns to be one of the team and help other people. So, when the Hydra stuff went down, I would've picked anyone else to turn. I didn't expect the guy who's making progress on an arc like that to just shut that down and go the way he did.
I really liked when they brought Christian Ward in. The show did an excellent job at making me not know who to trust. Do I trust the guy that just betrayed his team and is known to be manipulative that insists that he's been telling the truth since being captured, or do I trust the older brother that I was just introduced to that happens to be a politician? I didn't know whether they were going to basically triple down on Ward being the bad guy or not. Then, it turns out that it was Christian that was responsible for the well....BUT THEN GRANT MURDERS HIM AND HIS PARENTS AFTERWARDS???
I can't remember the last time I saw a piece of media start a character arc, halt it, then not just double, but triple down on them being the bad guy. It's insane and so fascinating.
A moment I loved was when he's working with the team again and they're all on the bus. He's being all nostalgic, but everyone is smart enough to see right through it.
I repeat: The way they've handled Ward is masterful. It was a very smart decision to turn him into Hive halfway through. There's only so much you could do with a sociopathic, murderous lunatic character like Ward before he starts to no longer be surprising. Turning him into an ancient demon is a genius play.
Happy to report that Season 2 is indeed Skye's season and I now like her a lot.
I like how Season 3 didn't revolve around Daisy. She has an integral part, for sure, but it wasn't all about her. She's established, so not everything needs to be about her, and that's smart. It's about the team as a whole. I liked the character when she was on the field with Mack and also when she was swayed by Hive.
Another great showing from the Cavalry. Well, I shouldn't call her that.
I wish she would've supported Coulson a little bit more. I completely understand why she took the position she did, but she kind of left him out to dry while she knows that whatever he does, he does it with the best intentions.
The 'Melinda' episode was a highlight and they really had her shoot the girl. Man. This show has guts. AND SHE WAS TRYING TO HAVE KIDS. FUCK!!!!!
I still want her and Coulson to get together. The showrunners know it. They had them together in that dream Skye was having, but it looks like she's going back to Andrew? He's cool. I just thought that they were headed in another direction. They still could though...
...and that moment when May tricked Agent 33 to use her face so that Ward would shoot her? MAAAANNNN! That was some good stuff!
She was good in this season, but not featured as much as I would've liked. The Andrew stuff gave the character something to do, but other than that, she didn't do a ton. Her dynamic with Hunter was great though! I wanted her to have some involvement in Hive's end since she still hated Ward.
...and that moment when May kicks all of those guys' asses when they didn't take no for an answer? MAAAANNNN! That was some good stuff!
I wanted [Fitz and Simmons] to be together so much, but I totally get why they did what they did. It can't be that easy. The reveal in the early episodes that Simmons was just in Fitz's head got me. That was great.
However, what wasn't great was Simmons saying that she went undercover at Hydra and left Fitz not because he had changed, but because she didn't feel the same way for him as he did for her. That hurt hard coming off of that great scene in S1 when he finally tells her how he feels. The thing that I didn't like was that she said she didn't want to be with him, but by the end of this season, she wants to. I don't remember a definitive moment in this season that would've changed her mind. If there was, I didn't catch it or I interpreted it incorrectly.
No matter now because she died! Well, I doubt she did, but right now, she did. She disappeared. Poof. Sorry Fitz, I guess you should've taken her out of the alien room before asking her out.
I like how Simmons mirrored Fitz in the first half of the season. They both changed and now they get to be together. Good stuff!
Mike Peterson returns! Not a ton to do in this season, but a welcomed inclusion. I'm still waiting for him to become a real agent and part of the team.
Mike Peterson doesn't return! He'll be back in Season 4...hopefully!
[Maria Hill] didn't get a lot to do in this season either. It was nice to see her, but you know, she didn't do anything.
I have a feeling that she won't be returning...
[Lady Sif] was a lot of fun this time around, too! I hope she has an episode each season.
I have a feeling that she won't be returning...
[Simmons] REALLY TRIED TO MURDER WARD!
Good for her! I'm guessing we're building up to a tense scene with her and Fitz where they have to kill someone. Fitz isn't able to do it, but Jemma is. Typically, they'd already be in a relationship at that point and her killing someone would make him question the person she'd become. However, I've learned just by these two seasons that this show is anything but typical.
SIMMONS REALLY SHOT WARD! Well, Hive!
My prediction didn't come true at all and I'm happy about that. She shot Hive, but Fitz wasn't anywhere near them.
So, Ward's being pushed to run Hydra, huh? Should've seen it coming, that sick son of a bitch. He keeps living! It doesn't matter what happens! He gets shot several times, but then this SIMP Agent 33 saves him. How is she repaid? He shot and killed her. Damn, sucks to be a simp. The actress did a great job though!
He kept living! Even being killed on a distant planet, he finds his way back! Although, I think he's actually done though. Props to the actor that plays him. What a great gig to have and a performance to, well, perform! A notable performance was when Mack and company blast him with those lights and he's saying all those lines from past characters.
Let's do some quick hits on the characters:
Finally, let's go over my predictions for this season and also what I think will happen in Season 4:
1) May will start to love life out of the organization and choose not to come back...that is until someone is about to get killed in a big mission about halfway through the season when she shows up for the save.
2) Fitz will figure out how to save Simmons from the Monolith. However, when she returns, she is changed, further delaying she and Fitz starting a relationship.
3) After the team learns of Ward's new position at Hydra, Coulson's sights are set on another objective. However, Skye splits from them to go find Ward and the two have a showdown. It likely ends with Ward escaping BECAUSE HE ALWAYS FINDS A WAY OUT.
1) I did not foresee Hunter coming to recruit her to kill Ward, and yet, it made so much sense.
2) Damn, it hurt that I was so right on the Fitz one. I didn't think she'd be changed that way though.
3) It's hilarious how wrong I was on that last one. Every part of it was wrong. Coulson's sights aren't set on something else, his only goal becomes to kill Ward. Skye does split from the team, but not to have a showdown with Ward, but to join Hive! What?!
Here are my predictions for Season 4:
  1. During the six months, Daisy has been building up her own team of Inhumans.
  2. Melinda is the new Director. However, as a crazy one, I'd also say that it could be Maria Hill, too.
  3. The first half of the season will be S.H.I.E.L.D. vs. Daisy's team. However, Hydra begins to creep back up, possibly with a way to "cure" the Inhumans. That's when Daisy comes back to the team for help.
If you have any questions about specific moments or characters, I'd be happy to comply!
Time to hope into Season 4! I hope my compliance will be rewarded...
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I Can Make You Hot!: The Supermodel Diet (by Kelly Killoren Bensimon) -- Part One

NOTE: Although I was originally planning on posting this whole review at once, I was about a third of the way through the book when I realized that I was already quickly approaching the full length of my previous posts. So, in the interest of making this a pleasant experience for us all, I'm sharing the first half now, and will follow up with the second half in a few days. And honestly, KKB's writing reminds me of Inception in that it's almost certainly hazardous to spend too much time immersed in any single sitting. So fasten your seatbelts, and enjoy the ride!
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So, a lot of you guys have been asking about Kelly Killoren Bensimon's I Can Make You Hot! (wow, is this what it feels like to be an influencer?), and I am thrilled to report that my adventure through this book's 264 pages was even more confounding than I could have possibly anticipated. I have a feeling that I'll need every ounce of my strength if I want to have any shot at conveying to you all exactly how bonkers this purported self-help book is, so -- without further ado -- let's begin.
I Can Make You Hot!, subtitled The Supermodel Diet, has a fairly straightforward premise. Kelly, who "has done it all when it comes to nutrition and her body," will share her hard-earned wisdom with us, her humble readers. Or, as she says in her own words on the back cover:
In I Can Make You Hot! I'm going to clue you in to all the tricks I've learned from a variety of experts and that I now use to live my own life. I want you to be the best you -- happy, attractive, shapely, interested, interesting, and most of all, smokin' HOT!
The blurb promises that the experience of reading this book will be "like rooming with a supermodel and going on a diet together." Truly, only someone with Kelly Bensimon's tenuous grasp on reality would say this as if it were something exciting, rather than a scenario taken directly out of the third circle of hell.
But before we can truly learn what it means to be HOT!, we're treated to a foreword by none other than Russell Simmons. As he shares with us:
Kelly is a great mother and is constantly instilling strong principals [sic] in her daughters. In my opinion, that's the essence of being HOT. Kelly is smokin'.
And just like that, I Can Make You Hot! is knocked out of the running for First-Book-I've-Read-By-A-Bravolebrity-That-Is-Also-Free-From-Glaring-Typographical-Errors. Better luck next time, champ!
In case you were at all hesitant about Kelly's suitability for the job of helping the less fortunate among us reach their maximum potential, Russell clarifies:
Her beauty truly comes from within, and her clear internal compass and well-balanced lifestyle is what makes her an arbiter for what's hot. She has always had her own individual road map and is one of those people who beats to their own drum. Many are amazed by her leaps of faith and courage, which are products of her sustainable soul. And back to that energy! I used to think: If we could only package it. And now Kelly has!
I would kill to be a fly on the wall during a conversation between Russell Simmons and Kelly Bensimon. But all of these endorsements are making me impatient to dig into Kelly's advice, so I skim over the next few pages and arrive at the introduction: "What's HOT and What's Not." Almost immediately, Kelly reassures us that she was not always the gorgeous, talented socialite she is today -- "No. Let's just say that I was never one of those tiny, cute blonde girls who guys named their hamsters after." Excuse you what? I literally just walked away from my laptop to go talk to my boyfriend and make sure I'm not just ignorant of some otherwise well-known traditional male courtship ritual in which young men adopt rodents and christen them after the women they love. That doesn't seem to be the case, although please reach out if you can shed any additional light on this situation.
Reasonably enough, before we can learn how to be hot, we have to know what hot is. Fortunately, Kelly wastes no time in getting us up to speed:
When I was trying to come up with a title for this book, I kept asking myself how I would define what I love. "HOT" is the word that best describes what I love, and it's not a word I throw around lightly. "HOT" is attractive, unique, and first-rate -- never mediocre. Avril Lavigne made a video called "HOT." There are "HOT" issues of all my favorite magazines. Hotmail.com was given that name to indicate that it was the best e-mail service, and www.urbandictionary.com, whose definitions are created by their readers, defines "hot" as (among other things) attractive, the best, and someone who makes you wish you had a pause button when they walk by because you don't want that moment to end. (I want you to feel like that "someone.") Health, wellness, and fitness are always hot topics. "HOT" may be a buzzword but it's also how I describe the best there is and the best you can be. I've used the words "smokin' hot" for everything from a killer chicken wing red sauce to a coveted couture gown.
There is…a lot to unpack here. My leading hypothesis is that Kelly must have accidentally exposed her internal circuitry to water and started shorting out while writing this passage, causing her to string together a rambling parade of incoherent sentences with no relationship to one another, save a tangential association with the amorphous concept of hotness. Also, it's factually inaccurate. A cursory Google search reveals that Hotmail.com was not "given that name to indicate that it was the best e-mail service." Rather, the service's name was selected as a reference to the use of HTML to create webpages, as is more apparent from the original stylization, HoTMaiL. I know from her savvy allusion to "www.urbandictionary.com" that Kelly is capable of navigating the Internet, so I'm disappointed that she's made such a careless oversight within the first three pages of the book proper.
Kelly next takes us through a few scenes from her past to illustrate how she has come to understand the true meaning of "HOT." Here are just a few of the assorted pearls of wisdom that Kelly is gracious enough to share with us:
Is skinny hot? Naturally skinny is hot. Starving yourself in order to change your natural body type in order to get skinny is not hot.

For me, the ultimate HOT girl is the nineteenth-century Gibson girl.

…Bethany Hamilton, the young surfer who lost an arm in a shark attack and didn’t let it stop her from pursuing a sport she loves. She's smokin' HOT.

pregnancy is smokin' HOT
I'm distracted from my diligent note-taking by a line that truly makes me laugh out loud.
I don't want to pretend that I'm "just like you." To do that would be disingenuous, and you wouldn't believe me anyway. But I may be more like you than you think. My hair may be ready for Victoria's Secret, but my values are still Midwestern.
I appreciate the honesty! As I continue reading, I am pleased to learn that I am, in fact, already consuming this piece of literature in the appropriate way. As Kelly says:
I urge you to make notes as you go along, either in the book itself or, if writing in a book is anathema to you, in a little notebook to use as your own personal guide. Jotting down ideas as they pop into your head is the best way to process them and be sure that they don't leave again before you've had a chance to commit them to long-term memory. Then, if you've made a mistake, when you go back and see it there on paper, you'll remind yourself not to do it again. Or, as I like to say, you'll avoid getting bitten by the same food dog twice!
Bitten…by the same….food...dog? Never change, KKB. (As an aside, what's the oveunder on Kelly having even the slightest idea what the word 'anathema' means?) If I'm being totally honest, this book is making me feel a little superfluous. What more can I add when the source material is so impenetrable to begin with? How does one parse the unparseable? Newly humbled, I suppose I'll have to be content with just gaping in confusion alongside the rest of you. And now that I think about it, what better book to build me up from these insecurities and encourage me to be my best? In the words of Kelly herself:
After all, why wouldn't you want to be HOT? What's the alternative? Being "not so hot"?
The book is organized into seven chapters, one for each day of the week, focusing on seven distinct facets of hotness. We start our journey on "Monday: Make a List -- Plan and Prepare!" and are immediately blessed with another one of Kelly's philosophical ramblings:
To me, living well is the only option. What, after all, is the only alternative? Living badly? Who aspires to live badly? I want you to live well, and that's going to take some planning.
Eager to improve myself, I read on:
What are your goals for yourself? If you're going to make changes in your life, you need to have a plan, you need to prepare, and you need to take the time to get it right -- so that you don't wind up wasting your time. This is my plan, and from now on it's going to be yours. Monday is going to be the day you make a HOT plan and prepare for the rest of your week. Let's get started together!
I can't help but feel like this is one of those answers that beauty pageant contestants give when they don't actually know how to respond to a question. Or like a motivational speech written by a rudimentary AI. I can't quite articulate exactly what it is that makes Kelly's writing seem so utterly devoid of logical coherence, but it truly falls into the literary equivalent of the Uncanny Valley.
Reminding us that "this isn't just about budgeting your food; it's about budgeting your life," Kelly peppers us with even more helpful tips -- "You don't want to be that person who is snacking while you're shopping. That's not hot -- period." and shares a stream-of-consciousness-style list of "Staples I keep in my house." Which may possibly be some kind of freeform postmodern poetry. Judge for yourself.
Kelly advises the reader to "get out your calendar or PDA" to get a sense of your schedule. "Then use your PDA to find the closest well-stocked market and go there. Making life easy for yourself is what it's all about." Now is as good a time as any to clarify that this book was published in 2012. I'd be lying if I said reading so many consecutive Housewives memoirs hasn't made my grasp on sanity a bit shaky, but I am fairly positive that 2012 was not a banner year for the Personal Digital Assistant.
Kelly has taken the time to pluck out a few particularly incisive pearls of wisdom throughout the book to highlight as "Kelly's Cardinal Rules." I would love to help clarify exactly what this one means, but I'm afraid I'm utterly clueless. One thing I do know for certain, however, as the chapter comes to a close, is that "human contact is HOT; texting is not!"
The week continues with "Tuesday: A Little Ohm and a Little Oh Yeah! -- It's All About Balance." It is imperative that you work out, says Kelly, adding, "I've never met a smokin' hot couch potato and I bet you haven't either." Her personal exercise routine, as she shares, combines aerobics and yoga "because life is all about balance." As she quips, "I'm sure even Gandhi cracked a smile from time to time." A panel titled "HOT Tip" admonishes the reader: "Don't call it working out because exercise shouldn't be work!"
If you'd like to spend a morning in the style of Kelly Bensimon, it's as easy as eating "a couple of oranges" and drinking coffee -- "I love coffee; I would probably marry coffee if it proposed." She also lets us in on some of her secret, highly advanced workout routines designed to maximize your time in the gym and propel you towards your full potential. Such as the "Happy Twenty," in which you run for 18 minutes and then do 2 minutes of squats.
We get further instruction on the hottest ways to run on the following page, where a two-page spread advertises "a few of my HOT tips for having a fun run." To ensure that you're able to start your journey to HOT as quickly as possible, I've taken the liberty of transcribing one of her most valuable nuggets below:
Run in the street instead of on the sidewalk. I took a lot of flack for this when they filmed me on Season 2 of the Real Housewives of New York City. The thing is, I think that people walking down the street while texting are a lot more dangerous than a car. Drivers will go out of their way to avoid you (accidents are too much paperwork, and they really mess up a day), but strolling texters will walk right into you without even seeing you. You could also get smacked by a shopping bag, a stroller, or even an oversized purse. Sidewalks are really obstacle courses. Beware!
Kelly shares some standout tracks from her workout playlist ("It's much more fun exercising to music!"), including the perennial pump-up-the-jam classic, "Skinny Love" by Bon Iver. With no regard for thematic continuity or overarching structure, the next page is dominated by the header "Get Leggier Legs."
An April 10, 2009, article about me in Harper's Bazaar captioned one of the photos "She's got legs." I was born blessed with long lean legs, but I work very hard to keep them looking the way they do. I'm tall, but I could just as easily have long, large legs. And long and large is not hot. Unfortunately I can't give you my legs. But I can help you to be the best you can be.
Truly inspirational. I think.
We continue on with Kelly's advice for "how to avoid the 'freshman fifteen," accompanied by a list of what she refers to as "Kelly rules." These run the gamut from near-sinister
Get rid of any negative thoughts. Negative-town isn't Fun-town.
to nonsensical
For every cheeseburger and fries, you owe me 12 cartwheels on the quad with your friends.
to bizarrely specific and also racially insensitive.
If you starve yourself for a day because you want to lose weight for Homecoming, you owe me 5 minutes of sitting Indian style in a corner and meditating on why you thought that was a good option.
Upon further reflection, I think I would actually be extremely motivated to stick to a diet if the alternative was being reprimanded by Kelly and forced to think about my poor life choices.
As a scientist myself, I was ecstatic to see that Kelly has drawn from a diverse array of scientific disciplines to develop her HOT tips and tricks. Physics, for example:
From Isaac Newton's First Law of Motion
A body in motion stays in motion. The velocity of a body remains constant unless the body is acted upon by an external force. So if you want to step up your exercise routine, try running in sand instead of on the pavement, or bike through gravel. That way your body will have to work harder in order to stay in motion.
Even biology has something to teach us about how to be HOT:
You are a living organism; life is an organic process. You need to be up and active, ready to enjoy the process. Be open and available and ready to do fun stuff. Participating in what you love is HOT.
I'm truly impressed by Kelly Bensimon's unparalleled ability to reframe the most basic common sense as divinely inspired wisdom. We see this in lines like
If you're feeling a bit frazzled and you need to calm down, you might want to take a yoga class.
or, as we read in another "HOT Tip" panel
Don't be afraid to drink water while working out.
I refuse to believe that this is a problem any person has ever faced. Even Aviva Drescher is not afraid of drinking water while working out (although, for the record, she is afraid of aluminum foil). Kelly closes out this chapter by encouraging the reader to "do one thing every day that takes you out of your comfort zone." If you find yourself lacking inspiration, she provides helpful suggestions, such as "try a fruit you've never eaten" and "try tap dancing." As she asserts, "there's nothing more foolish than sitting on your butt when you could be moving your body and having fun."
I turn the page, and the clock rolls over to Wednesday -- "Diet = 'DIE with a T.'" Cute. I bet Kelly would find that Tumblr post that's like "she believed" to be unbearably clever. She wastes no time in letting us know:
I don't believe in diets; diets are for people who want to get skinny. I want you to be happy. If you feel good about yourself, you'll make good choices. If you starve yourself to be skinny, you'll be undermining your sense of self-worth and you'll be unhappy every day. Eating well -- a variety of high-quality, fresh, unprocessed foods -- is for people who want to be happy -- and if you're not happy you won't be hot! Happy is always better than skinny.
This is starting to feel like some sort of word problem from Algebra II. If happy is better than skinny, but hot is equal to happy, diet = die + t??? Kelly tells us that all women fall into two categories: overachievers and underachievers. Being an overachiever is good, and being an underachiever is bad. Here are some things you can do to become an overachiever:
Make good choices.

When in doubt, have fun.

Keep smiling.
Kelly's motivational-phrasebook app apparently starts to glitch out right about here, but she continues on:
Stay positive and move forward. This is your last try at today. Yesterday may not have been great, but, today is better -- you just need to see it that way. The choice is up to you.
The idea of someone being in such a dark psychological place that they are able to find inspiration in those words is so deeply sad to me that I can hardly bear to consider it. Thankfully, Kelly has already taken a hard left turn into what I think is some sort of extended metaphor:
I've already said that you need to treat your body like a Ferrari, but maybe you prefer a Maserati, an Aston Martin, a Corvette, or even a Bentley. Whatever your luxury car of choice, if you treat it well, it will increase in value; if you treat it like a bargain rental car, it's just going to wear out -- and being worn out is not hot!
Ah, yes, I'd momentarily forgotten that cars almost always increase in value after they're purchased, and don't have a culturally ubiquitous reputation for losing most of their resale value immediately. Solid analogy. Apropos of nothing, we get a "HOT Tip" list of "model diet secrets that DON'T work." I'm extremely glad that Kelly encouraged us to take notes while reading -- I'd be devastated if any of these pointers had escaped my attention.
Eating Kleenex to make yourself feel full does not work.

The Graham cracker diet does not work.

Drugs do not work.
Well, I suppose this clears up some Scary Island confusion. Had Kelly indeed been doing meth (as the reported cat-pee smell might suggest), she would be fully aware that many drugs are, in fact, extremely effective ways to lose weight. But lest you start to lose faith in the expertise of our fearless leader, read on: "when it comes to food choices, I've probably made every mistake in the book." By which she means that she ate Chinese chicken soup before giving birth to her first daughter and it made her sick, so she ate a turkey sandwich before giving birth to her second daughter and she didn’t get sick. To be perfectly honest, I'm struggling to find a way to apply this wisdom to my own life, but I'm sure it will become clear in no time!
Kelly is relatable for the first time so far in the following passage:
When I was accused of being a "bitch" on national television, I was really upset. My response was to find comfort in Mexican food and margaritas for lunch and dinner three days straight.
But we promptly return to form on the next page as she recounts her daily diet of "2 green juices," "a KKBfit lunch," and "a KKBfit dinner." I'd like to take a moment to appreciate how generous it is of Kelly to share her wisdom -- earned through a lifetime of catastrophic missteps -- so freely. It certainly didn’t come without a cost, as the following anecdote illustrates:
On the last day of my juice fast, I took my older daughter to a Yankees game where we gorged on sushi. (Yes, they have sushi at Yankee Stadium) As a result, I was stuffed and blinded by carbs when A-Rod came up to bat and hit a home run. Was I able to savor that A-Rod moment with my daughter? Absolutely not. I was in a food coma. Will I ever let myself be thrown into a food frenzy again? No! Lesson learned: I made another stupid food choice, and because of that choice I missed that home run moment with my daughter. From now on, when I go to a Yankees game I'll have a small hot dog instead….I want you to do the same.
Verily! Heed her words of wisdom, lest ye not also lose the precious chance for thine own A-Rod moment.
But don’t think this caution means that you have to get caught up in the minutia of your day-to-day. On the contrary, appropriate planning means "you can stop obsessing about your carrot intake and concentrate on what it is that's going to make you a great person in life." To help illustrate this point, Kelly introduces us to the "Kelly pie." Otherwise known as a pie chart. This is a helpful way to really visualize how much time you'll have now that you can cut that pesky carrot-pondering out of your day! Kelly even offers some thoughtful "hints" to divide your pie:
  1. Celebrate your own health. We take health for granted.
  2. Get up in the morning and say, "I'm so grateful to be where I am and look the way I do," no matter what your size is.
  3. Tell yourself you look HOT, because you do.
  4. Believe in your ability to make good choices today and every day.
  5. Be mindful of what you eat. If I have to be mindful of what I eat, so do you. We're in this together.
Ooh, sorry Brad, I won't be able to make it to this afternoon's meeting -- it actually conflicts with my daily session of believing in my ability to make good choices today and every day. No, I understand how that could seem like an abstract sentiment rather than something that actually takes up time within your daily schedule, but if Kelly has to do it, so do I! And to be honest, my day is packed enough as it is -- it takes at least a second or two for me to tell myself I look HOT (because I do!), and I'm just worried that if I try to squeeze anything else in, it will cut into my mid-morning health celebration. Wish I could help!
In a strangely threatening aside, Kelly commands: "Write down what you ate for the last two days. Don't lie. We can start fresh tomorrow, one bite at a time."
In a section titled, "What I Eat Every Day," Kelly enumerates her "three go-to breakfasts": "two oranges or a plate of mixed berries if I'm not going to be very active, all-bran cereal or some other high-fiber cereal with almond milk or unsweetened coconut milk if I'm going on a long run, riding, or doing something else that requires extra energy, and on weekends, I love making pancakes to eat with my girls." As should be apparent, this is far more than three breakfasts. I am irrationally angry, in the same way I was when a Bachelor contestant said their favorite food was a charcuterie platter. That's cheating. (And yes, I do strongly identify with my Virgo moon, thanks for asking.)
Kelly inexplicably (apologies if I've used that word for the zillionth time already) tells us that "a plastic cup that says 'Forced Family Fun' from www.themonogramshops.com makes the smoothie go down with a giggle." Also, "sitting alone in front of the TV eating ice cream is not hot!" We are then introduced to one of Kelly's more advanced strategies, which she calls "Energy Economics." This means that you might need to eat more on days when you are busy and/or exercising, and less on days when you're relaxing. So many innovative ideas, this book has really packed a punch for its < $5 price tag!
Another ingenious idea? "Stuff cabbage, sweet peppers, tomatoes, or even onions with ground meat, chicken or turkey seasoned with salt and pepper. Bake until the meat is cooked through and the vegetable is softened." Granted, I have been a pescatarian for almost a decade at this point. But disemboweling an onion, jamming it full of hamburger meat, and cooking it for some indeterminate amount of time at an unspecified temperature seems…wrong.
Circling back to her theory of Energy Economics, Kelly explains,
If I don't eat [well], I'm violating my own laws of energy economics and my body goes either into inflation mode (too much energy when I don't need it) or recession mode (not enough energy in the bank for me to draw from). The key is to create economic equilibrium: eating well so that I feel good, which allows me to be happy.
I am begging someone to start a GoFundMe where we raise money to pay Kelly to explain how the economy works. The next page introduces us to "The KKB 3-Day Supermodel Diet," which is less of a diet and more a random assortment of miscellaneous health-related sentiments that reek of the 2009 pro-ana tumblrsphere:
Chew your food 8 times instead of 3 or 4.

Brush your teeth and chew mint gum as soon as you finished eating. When your mouth is fresh and minty, you'll be less tempted to eat again.
The final tip ("nurture yourself") includes a reminder to "blush your checks [sic]." Which may be a typo, but could also very well just be some strange Kelly saying that no one else has ever used in the history of the English language. On the next page, we're introduced to "Kelly's Food Plate." Which other, less sophisticated people typically refer to as the food pyramid. Kelly also takes a brief aside (in a feature box labeled "hot button issue") to expound upon her favorite delicacy, the humble jelly bean:
If you're a fan of the Real Housewives of New York City you probably remember that on Season 3 I took a lot of flack for eating jelly beans and talking about processed and unprocessed foods. I was actually making light of that food snob moment. Who stops at a gas station and asks for carrots? Did you bring your organic food cooler with you on this road trip? The important part is not to be a food snob; but when in doubt choose the best option. Sometimes it's better to be happy than it is to be right. Was I able to make my point? Clearly it wasn’t in the cards at that moment.
This is a truly stunning synthesis of her experience. Underestimate Kelly at your own peril -- this girl has been playing 4D chess for longer than we know.
The chapter continues with some tips from Kelly on how to make the most of your meal planning and shopping experience. And no -- you have no excuses:
There's absolutely no reason why you, wherever you live, can't eat "colorful" foods. All over the country there are "gi-normous" supermarkets where fruit and vegetable aisles are bursting with every color of the rainbow.
I am starting to get a "gi-normous" headache trying to make sense of this chaos. Kelly's advice that we can "mix and match what's there to make a FrenAsian or an ItaloGreek meal" is not helping. We also get some tips for how to grocery shop responsibly:
  1. Always go with a list and never buy more than two items you planned on taking home.
This is incoherent, right? I know I need to wrap up Part 1 of this write-up pretty soon, because I've read this sentence at least two dozen times trying to make some sense of it, and am still at an utter loss. I assume she's left out a negative somewhere, but at this point, I realize I've already thought about this tip for approximately ten times longer than Kelly ever has, so I'll move on.
For the third or fourth time so far this book, Kelly segues into a literal grocery list. To be fair, this is a very effective strategy to take up several pages with minimal text. And what could be more compelling than
Shitake/oyster mushroom combination packs

Dog treats

Lavender pepper
Truly the voice of a generation! Decades from now, English teachers will be teaching their students about a fabled wordsmith who once uttered those eternal words, "shitake/oyster mushroom combination packs." Because this book has absolutely no respect for logical cohesion, we are hurled immediately into a diatribe about how expensive it can be to buy organic -- "I recently walked out of an organic market having paid $400 for just three bags of groceries." As I read on, however, it becomes quickly apparent that Kelly has no idea what the concept of 'organic' even means:
"Organic," in any case, seems like something of a misnomer to me. I know the Food and Drug Administration has regulations for certifying foods organic, but to me, for foods to be truly and totally organic, they would have to be grown in a test tube or a greenhouse with no exposure to the natural elements.
Well, sure Kelly. If that's what you would like to use the word "organic" to mean, be my guest. She tosses us another crumb of helpful guidance, but it only serves to make me feel exceptionally sorry for Kelly's daughters and everything they have to endure:
Plate your food as if it were being served to you in a fine restaurant. Use a fancy foreign accent as you invite everyone to come to the table. Or try saying it in French. My girls love it when I announce, "Le dîner est servi!"
We learn in yet another "HOT tip" that "fast food doesn't have to be fat food," and Kelly tells us for the eighth time that she eats two oranges every morning. In what has already become a recurring theme for me in this book, the following passage makes me desperately curious to know how Kelly thinks science works:
One question people frequently ask me is whether I believe in taking vitamins or supplements, and the answer is "yes, I do," because, even though I know my diet is healthy, I can't be sure that I'm getting all the nutrients I need. All the vitamins and minerals we need can be found naturally in foods, but how do we know, even if we're eating a healthy diet, that we're getting everything we need?
I flip back two pages to confirm that Kelly told us quite recently how important it is to read nutrition labels to know what is in the food we eat (to make sure we avoid foods "whose labels are full of words you can't pronounce"). Exactly how she is reading these nutrition labels yet still manages to have no inkling how anyone could possibly begin to assess their vitamin and mineral intake eludes me. She continues:
I don't want to take that chance. I think of the food I eat as fuel and vitamins as my oil -- my body's engine needs both. Vitamins and supplements are not food replacements, but we're exposed to so many environmental toxins on a daily basis that I believe we need to supplement our diets to counteract all the harm those substances can cause.
I can certainly think of something that is causing harm to my psychological stability at this particular moment, which I should probably take as a sign to wrap things up for today and go read some incredibly dense Victorian prose or something to remind myself what a properly constructed sentence looks like. Promise I won't leave you waiting for long!!
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My letter to Rob Manfred, comment your name and username if you want me to add you to the list

(RT on twitter)
https://twitter.com/friedscurve/status/1272964722929930245?s=21
Dear Commissioner Manfred,
We are the fans. Baseball has been a part of our life for as long as we can remember. We follow our teams every summer, whether they’re World Series contenders or deep into a rebuild. Our childhood bedrooms were adorned with fat heads, pennants, bobble heads, signed balls, baseball cards and other tributes to the game we love.
We hoped this year to watch another 162 games of baseball. For many of us, this could have been THE YEAR! When our team goes all the way and hoists the commissioners trophy in October. Of course the COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything, and we all have to adapt to the new normal, but as other sports have found ways to return, baseball has not. The back and forth between the league and the players has been fruitless, and you, Commissioner Manfred recently said that a season is not certain to happen.
If it was just a matter of safety, If the problem was simply that the amount of people necessary to operate the league was too large to ensure the health of the players, coaches and other league employees, that would be understandable. However it’s clear that the delay in returning to action isn’t about safety but about saving money.
We are well aware that a season of 80 games or more while paying players prorated salaries would be a financial pain for owners around the league, and we understand that as commissioner, you are expected to answer to the owners. However we hope that you understand, and that the owners understand, that if baseball opted for a shorter season — such as the 50 game schedule that has been reported on — or opts for no season at all. The cost will be far worse.
To start with the first complaints that would arise with such a short season: Did the dodgers really trade a top prospect for 50 games of Mookie Betts? Will the Indians be forced to let Francisco Lindor walk for nothing? Or will there be a trade deadline, and when would that be? Will there be a minor league season as well? If not what happens when injuries arise? Will top prospects have their development stunted? Will the minor leaguers get paid? These issues arise in a 50 game schedule because 50 games is roughly 25% of a season. That would be akin to a four game NFL season. Baseball is beautiful because while on any given night, any team can win, the long regular season allows the teams worthy of a shot at the World Series to rise up and take it. After 50 games last season, the Washington Nationals would have missed the playoffs. The long season is what calls for fans to watch night after night, a test of loyalty found nowhere else in sports. But we do it because we love the game.
The entire season would have an asterisk next to it forever, any accolades given to players would seem fake, the World Series winner would be questioned. This doesn’t even take into account the players (especially pitchers) who have said that 25% of their salary is not worth the risk of injury, which would only be increased by the lack of a proper spring training before the start of this season. If stars like Max Scherzer don’t play, can we really say the best team won?
But even worse would be no season at all. While it’s been widely reported that a handful of owners feel its in their best interest that no baseball be played this year, we hope they haven’t forgotten the 1994 strike. Regardless of whether the players or owners are more to blame for that work stoppage, the brand of Major League Baseball was deeply hurt by it. Imagine what would have happened if the Expos were able to capture their first title? Would there still be a team in Montreal today? Think of the countless fans that left the game for good that summer, angry that they had two months of baseball taken from them. The league was damaged, and it took years before many fans returned. It will be worse this time. Nationals fans are missing Juan Soto, Victor Robles and that great pitching staff. Dodgers fans want to see Mookie play in Los Angeles. South Siders want to see Luis Robert join the ranks of their young stars. Braves fans cant wait to see what Ronald Acuña Jr does next. Fans can’t be taken for granted, and it sure feels like we have been.
While many of us will surely return, many of us will move on. There will be basketball watch soon, and the NFL seems on track to start this fall. We will quickly tune out the mess that is baseball when other sports return, maybe we’ll come back in 2021, hopefully we’ll get excited for opening day next April, and move past the fiasco that has costed us a year of our favorite teams. But it’s hard to commit to being there for baseball, when baseball isn’t there for us.
The worst part is, it’s not as if the players are being unreasonable. They are simply asking to be paid in proportion to what their team agreed to pay them. They have offered a whole host of concessions such as expanded playoffs, playing well into the winter, and even offering to maximize the number of games played by scheduling regular double headers and almost no off days. Is saving a season, numerous fans and the MLBs reputation (not to mention the upcoming CBA negotiations that will surely get ugly if this season isn’t sorted out) while also being able to add playoff games not worth a one year hit to your bottom line? And you can find creative solutions to recoup some cash: Rent the empty stands as additional ad space or even allow for teams to put a corporate sponsor on their jerseys like the NBA (it would be ugly, but if it mean we play baseball, we don’t care.) You could use partnerships with sport betting services to pad your wallets as well. Heck, if you wanted to get crazy you could announce plans to add two new franchises in the coming years, and use the buy in fees to make up more losses this year, while most league expenses for the new clubs wouldn’t kick in until a few years down the line, when the league is back on stable financial footing. The point is, you have many options other than playing a far too short season, or not playing at all.
Commissioner Manfred, we’re sure you want baseball back as much as we do. we’re sure you care about each and every fan. We’re sure you are weighing a lot of options and making a lot of tough choices. But we don’t want you to tell us that, we want you, we need you, to show us that. Because that’s what it’s going to take to save baseball in 2020 and beyond.
Sincerely, ...
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[OC] We intend no harm - Chapter 23 (Hynian Adrenaline)

Hello again.
Well well well. This chapter took a bit longer, because I had to deal with friends and food and fun. All that stuff keeping me from writing ;)
As usual, I wasn’t sure how things would turn out. But now that the chapter is complete, I’m satisfied.
Have fun reading.
First | Wiki | Previous | Next
Captain Zork was standing in the crammed map room. He listened to Zokosh reporting the events that had led to his weapons officer’s death. When he heard that she had been attacked while showering he felt bad that he had to question her. But it was the standard procedure for murder cases. Luckily Zokosh knew this procedure. She had stated at the beginning of the ‘interrogation’ that she would take no offence and he was just doing his job.
While he listened to her, he noticed that Zokosh did not seem to be distressed over the events. Her voice was as calm and steady as if she was reporting a slight malfunction in an unimportant subsystem. When she described how she pierced him with her knife, her voice took on an subtle sharpness and disdain. It was easily missable, but when the captain picked it up he felt its icy chill creeping down his spine. He instantly hoped to never incur her wrath.
After the Captain had tried to poke a few holes into her story, as it was mandated, he told her to get some rest. While Zokosh went to her quarters to properly dry off, the captain went to the crime scene. Karom the ships medic was already examining the body. The Captain told him Zokosh’s story.
“That matches the evidence.” Karom pointed at the dead hynian male with the combat knife sticking in his skull. “But there was something I found strange when I looked at the crime scene.”
“Something strange? What do you mean?” The Captain asked looking at the corpse and than at the shower stall trying to find something odd.
“Look at the body. There are no knife wounds. A lot of scratches from claws and some bruises. But if she had the knife in her hand, shouldn’t there be at least some stab marks?” He bent a bit forward and jabbed his hand repeatedly against an imaginary opponent.
Now the captain understood immediately. “If you look at the scratches on his chest, she could have stabbed him a dozen times. Maybe she had to pick up the knife from somewhere.” He looked at the Stall. It was the easy to clean kind, just a flat wall with a single push button for activating the shower. No shelf to store shower gel, shampoo or knifes. Zokosh’s stuff was still standing on the floor.
“I can’t imagine her picking up a knife from the floor during a fight. I heard that a crewmember had seen her putting the knife between her lips. But you told me, he had put his hand on her mouth.” Karom said and showed the captain the corpse’s right palm with the bloody bite marks.
Zork’s ears twitched while he was thinking. “You're right. Something is strange.”
The medic pulled the bloody knife out of the body’s skull with his gloved hand. Then he looked at the injury. He gently closed the knife's wound with his fingers. “Look at that.” In the middle of the closed cut was still a round hole.
“What kind of weapon would leave a small hole like this?” Captain Zork asked confused.
“Hmm … something like a stiletto dagger, maybe? But why hide the wound with the knife? And then again 'where would she keep it'.” The old medic was thinking hard. “I heard some rumors about the Secret Order. Allegedly they are using...”
“Shut it!” Hissed the Captain causing the Medic to flinch. “Don’t talk about them.” After the captain had calmed down he continued. “So, he was attacking her in the shower and she killed him in self defense?”
“Yes, Captain. The evidence backs it up. It looks like he was waiting in the stall at the far end for his opportunity. After Admiral Xem was able to struggle free, she pierced his skull. If I could do an autopsy, I could tell you if he died of blood loss or because she broke through the bone and penetrated the brain.” Stated the medic.
Zork sighed. “Well, that was not the kind of penetration he had hoped for.” He had known the dead guy only for a few months, so he wasn’t too attached.
In hynian culture women did not have the same rights as men had. They were meant to be pleasant and nice to look at. Just like the beautiful flowers in the imperial palace’s gardens had to be protected from pests trying to feast on them, it was the honor and duty of men to do the same. Ironically some of the most beautiful flowers in the gardens were poisonous enough to kill any pest touching them. Of course the Captain had never been in those gardens, but every hynian knew about that metaphor.
“Do you still need that?” The captain pointed at the former weapons officer.
After the Medic flicked his ear dismissively, the Captain grabbed the dead guy’s jumpsuit and ripped his rank insignias off. Then he wrapped the jumpsuit around the corpses neck and dragged him across the ship.
The rumor has spread fast around the Cheshnak Ra. So the crew gave their best to not notice the corpse. All of them knew what Zork was about to do. A captain was responsible for his crew, so it was his job to rid them of their collective shame.
When he reached the trash compactor the first officer was waiting for him. He did not salute, it would have been a disgrace to the emperor to do that in front of trash. Except for the FO only the crew members working in this section were present, they were focusing intensely on their mundane tasks.
“For the report. He was not killed in action. He had been trialed, judged and executed for sexual assault. He has become the pest in the garden. Thus he was stripped of his honor as a man and his rank as an officer. He will not be permitted into the afterlife. His family will be informed that he is neither be named nor grieved. He will have never existed.”
After the FO had filed the record, the captain hoisted the corpse into the trash compactor and closed the lid. The crushed and mangled corpse would be disposed with the rest of the Cheshnak Ra’s waste. In cynian culture the body had to decompose to let the soul reach the afterlife. Pressing a body into a cube and letting it drift through hyperspace was the ultimate punishment.
It would take a few days until it would be time to dispose of the trash. Of course they could throw it out right now, but nobody dared to give this pest even that amount of attention. Later someone would sneakily dispose of the tainted jackpot as well.
++++++
After Admiral Zokosh had returned to her quarters, she took off her jumpsuit and started to dry herself properly. Once she was done, she climbed into her bed and switched the light off. She had been lying in the darkness for a while, but she was unable to sleep. Her blood was still saturated with adrenalin. With an annoyed hiss she got up again, put her clothes on and left her quarters.
Most species especially prey races had a flight response when they faced danger. Some had a fight or flight response. Hynians instinctive reaction was always to fight, they had to willfully work against their biology to flee or surrender. Luckily their bodily reaction was not as strong during ‘unpersonal’ fights like spacebattles. A crew on adrenaline could not operate a spaceship properly. But in ground combat or even hand to hand combat, their instincts would still trigger the same chemical processes as eons before.
Hynian adrenalin was an impressive ‘drug’. They produced more of it than any other species and it was way more potent. There are reports of hynians who ripped tendons because their muscles were overstimulated in particularly intense life or death situations. The other thing that was special was that the adrenaline would not dissipate for a few hours.
Zokosh knew that she needed her brain to realize that the threat was gone. Seeing your enemy dead before you would normally do the trick, but the pest’s death was so quick, that her brain refused to stop producing adrenaline. There were two more ways to get rid of it. She was not in the mood for one of the methods right now. It would also undermine her authority and her self respect. So she took the other option.
Soon after she left her quarters the Admiral reached one of the storage rooms. She opened the door and looked inside. Some of the night shift who were on standby were training with weights or sparring with each other. Even the best life support systems could not get rid of the humid smell of fresh sweat.
The one crewman who was facing the door almost dropped his weights when he saw the Admiral. Of course everyone knew what happened a few hours ago. Zokosh flicked her ear signaling him to keep on. Then she walked over to the half naked guy pummeling the punching bag. His blue skin was glistening in the artificial light of the makeshift gym.
Zokosh tapped him on the shoulder. “Excuse me, but I really neeeed that right now.” She blushed a bit, when her voice had such an seductive tone. With this amount of pheromones in the air her body seemed to have considered option one against her will.
The crewman looked surprised at her and then at the punching bag. It took him a moment to understand, then he smiled and stepped back. “All yours, Admiral.”
“Thanks, Crewman. As long as I’m off duty, you can call me by my name. If you think you earned it, you can call me Zok.” She responded returning the smile. This offer was directed to everyone present. Then she started to beat the punching bag with a combination of many fast jabs mixed with some heavy blows. She was quick on her feet evading imaginary attacks. From time to time she sprinkled some kicks into the mix.
The crewmen who were training were giving their best to not mess up their training routines, while watching the woman dish out one hell of a beating. Of course all of them had heard how she toyed with that guy before she boarded the Cheshnak Ra. But seeing her go all out was a sight to behold.
Zokosh was the beautiful daughter of a duke, so she could be seen as the epitome of what hynian women should be like. Right now she did not give a fuck on proper conduct. She wanted that adrenaline out of her system and it felt great pummeling away at the sandbag. Because of the adrenaline her stamina had increased about tenfold. She could not care less about sweating or the eyes that she could feel on her.
The crewman had grown up in hynian society, so they were raised to see women as beautiful but fragile. Some of them were shocked to see how intense Zokosh could be. Some were discovering that they really liked that kind of woman.
After 15 minutes of a nonstop beating, Zokosh decided to get more air. Without a second thought she unzipped her jumpsuit to her midriff and let it fall from her back. She was wearing a sports bra, because she had anticipated that this might happen. After she tied her sleeves around her waist she continued the pummeling.
Wearing a tight top like a sports bra during training was not that uncommon. But because the crewmembers weren’t expecting her to do that and because all they had on this ship were data sticks with red dots, they looked at her surprised and a bit too intrigued. Zokosh did not care. Maybe that was caused by the slowly decreasing amounts of adrenaline in her blood.
One of the guys who were sparring earlier was walking over to Zokosh. He was shirtless and had wrapped his sleeves around his waist just like her. “You look like you need something better than that old bag.” He flicked an ear at her, obviously joking with whatever he meant. His fellows laughed amused.
Zokosh smirked at him, while beating the living daylight out of the punching bag. “You want to help me get rid of the adrenaline? I’m sure your idea involves that mat. But are you brave enough to take me on in front of your friends? Might be embarrassing, if you were finished after a few seconds.” She was breathing heavily while talking.
Goshk looked surprised for a moment. He had expected her to reprimand him or make him clarify that he had sparing in mind. For a moment he thought about trying his luck today and offer her some private practise somewhere else, but then he decided against it. “I would be totally up for that but I meant sparing.”
“Brave enough to admit, but smart enough to make the right choice.” Zokosh responded smirking impishly, not revealing what she was thinking about that. Before she went to the sparring area, she took a chug of water from her bottle.
While they were taking positions the other eleven crewmen surrounded them. Zokosh looked at them her heart was still pumping fast. “I can’t go back to the sandbag after fighting for real. So you guys better get ready, if Goshk goes down to fast.”
After she said that, they were discussing the order in which they were facing her. If you were to late in line, you might not get a chance at all. If you were to far in the front, you would most likely get beaten quickly. The best places were somewhere in the middle. Grappling with this sweaty women sounded alluring to all of them.
“Any rules other than the standard?” Asked Goshk.
“Hmm … If you try to cop a feel, I’ll knock you out. Except for that, no holds barred.”
“Fair enough.”
One of the spectators gave the starting signal and the sparring partners started to circle each other. Goshk knew that if he waited for to long Zokosh would recover her stamina, so he had to make his move quickly. He lowered his center of gravity and tried to grapple the Admiral. She dashed sideways and hooked his foot with hers, causing him to stumble. In this situation she could have brought him down and locked him to the mat easily, but she wanted this fight to last longer than one exchange.
Zokosh let him turn towards her before she attacked him with a flurry of punches and jabs. Of course she did not go all out on him, like she did with the punching bag. She used just enough force to make sure he would not want to get hit. He protected himself pretty well and used an opening to start his counter.
The spectators were watching the fight in suspense. The two opponents were enjoying the spar just as much as the spectators. This time Zokosh did not have to show off, so she held herself just enough back to keep the fight enjoyable. She was sure that Goshk must have noticed it. After a few minutes Goshk managed to grapple her, making him the crew member with the closest contact to a women in months. Zokosh held against it, trying to topple the bigger Hynian.
Her heart was still beating fast and now it was pounding against the males chest. She did not notice it, but the spectators were quite envious of him. After both of them showed some impressive footwork, Zokosh managed to hook Goshk's leg. All she needed to do now was to push her upper body a bit more against her opponent to throw him off balance.
Goshk fell backwards and Zokosh slipped out of the grapple. When he hit the ground, she grabbed him and placed him in an armlock. Her leg was bent and her shin was pressing against his face while she was locking his arm whith hers. To do that she clamped his forearm between her upper arm and her flank, while holding his upper arm with her hands. She did not use enough pressure to cause him pain, but her grip left him nowhere to go.
“Do you give up?” Zokosh smiled victoriously. Her adrenaline levels were now dropping fast.
“You got me.” he replied with her leg in his face. “You held back, didn’t you?”
“It’s more fun that way. I hope you don’t want to complain.” She let go of him and laid down on the mat breathing exhausted. She was still smiling. The reduced adrenaline make her realize, that she was showing the crewmembers way more than they should see. Hynian adrenaline was one hell of a drug.
She knew she should cover herself, but she still needed some time to cool down. Luckily the spectators were surprisingly decent. They had openly watched her pummel the sandback and they had looked at her during the fight, but now that she was lying on her back breathing heavily, they went back to their training routines. Maybe they had looked enough earlier. Whatever the reason, it gave Zokosh the time she needed.
Goshk had already gotten up. He was not ‘high’ on adrenaline, so he had noticed how her chest felt against his. He could have sworn that he felt her heart pounding. While he was drinking from his bottle, he looked at the half naked smiling woman. His ears raised for a moment, then they flicked in opposite directions.
“I’m going to get a shower. I’m all sweaty and stuff.” He said to no one in particular.
One of the less buff, more cheeky crewmen responded. “Better take a long shower, to get all that ‘sweat’ out … off. I meant get that sweat off.” The rest of the guys chuckled, but it didn't bother Goshk. They were just jealous that he got a good reason to take a shower.
Zokosh did not react, maybe she did not even hear it. She was focusing on herself. She savored feeling her heart rate slow down and her muscles relax. When had finished her post adrenaline rush ‘meditation’ she got up and put the upper part of her jumpsuit back on.
“Thanks for letting me rest.” Zokosh was pulling her zipper back up. “I guess i need another shower.” She said to herself.
The cheeky guy responded again. “Don't worry, we’ll stay here. Except you want someone guard the door.”
She smiled at him. “Thanks for the offer, but that won't be necessary. Good night, guys.”
“Sleep well, Admirell.” Responded the group.
Zokosh flicked her ears in an amused way and left. ‘When did they come up with that?’
When the Admiral had left the improvised gym. One of the guys laughed. “Dude, you could have told her that Goshk is ‘showering’. If she goes there now she'll totally run into him.”
“You could have also told her. But you didn’t. Maybe they go for a round two in the shower? I don’t want to rob Goshk of that chance.” The cheeky one laughed again.
“You know that she just stabbed a guy in there, might be a bit strange to do it.”
“She looked like a case of adrenaline rush, not like she was bothered or something like that. The law says that he is to be forgotten. So doing it right there would be fine. At least I would totally do it there if I had the chance.” He explained.
“You would do it anywhere if you had the chance.”
The guys laughed.
“Hey, wanna bet if they do it?” Asked one of them
++++++
Zokosh was writing a message on the datapad taped to the door. ‘Attention. I'm taking a quick shower. Please do not disturb. Zokosh.’ After she did that, she opened the door and waltzed in. She blushed when she saw Goshk walking naked from the bench to the shower stalls.
Goshk had expected to have the shower all to himself, it was the middle of the night after all. He looked surprised and confused at Zokosh. Than he looked down on himself and at the reason why he needed that shower.
The female Hynian bit her lower lip while she was looking at him. “Can you keep a secret?” She asked.
“Hm? I guess?” He replied still confused.
Zokosh closed the door behind her. “That’s not good enough. I’m an Admiral and a noble. Can you keep a secret?” She repeated her question, slowly unzipping her jumpsuit.
Now it finally clicked for him. “Yes! I’m really good at keeping secrets!”
“That’s good. If someone asks, I have seen you in your underpants we had a laugh and then I went to bed.” She was stripping fast letting her clothes trail behind her. When she reached the enamored male, she pushed him eagerly into the shower stall.
First | Wiki | Previous | Next
I wasn’t sure, if they should hook up. At first I wanted to add the shower scene as a funny mishap, but then I thought, that the two got some good chemistry.
I hope you enjoyed it :) good night.
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The Lifecycle of a Betting Line

The Lifecycle of a Betting Line

The purpose of this lesson is to describe in detail how a line is made and how it’s formed and altered until the game or event starts. I feel once you know this, it will then give you a sense of confidence and realize how fragile the line can be. All this information is factual and not based on any speculation or opinion that I or others may have. This is how at least a couple major offshore sports books create their lines.
A sports book often outsources their odds to someone much sharper and will pay for the lines. Once they get these lines they may tinker with them a little but they don’t just post them right away. They will first allow 3 or 4 different sharp bettors the opportunity to bet these lines. This all happens before the lines are posted and open to the public. These 3 or 4 bettors help the sports book figure out which lines are weak or which are strong. For example; if they all want to bet the same team on one of the games the sports book now knows that line needs to be moved. After the sports book moves the line the bettors will have another chance to bet them, if they still want to bet more on that same team the book knows they still have to move it. The lines will eventually get posted once the sharp bettors are done betting. The lines that don’t get any action are deemed strong and lines that get bet on both sides are deemed very strong.
After this the line is now posted for the public to start betting and although this is considered the opening line it has already been formed by very sharp bettors that had first whack at them. The sports book doesn’t really care which side the public is betting but rather only takes notice of what sharp or profitable bettors are betting on. At this stage the sports book needs to be very careful of how they move the line and by how much because they don’t want to open themselves up to being middled or fall victim to line manipulation. Of course if a key player is announced inactive they will need to adjust accordingly. I’ve talked about impact points within the market, these are specific times when an official injury report is released or maybe after the coaches press conference, really it’s any information that will affect the market as a whole. Sportsbooks need to try and be first to get this information and move the line accordingly. It’s important to know that the sports books obtain information just like we do, now they may be more vigilant as far as looking for the information but if you are looking just as hard and have good info sources you can find it and possibly capitalize on it before your book moves. Injury info is probably the most valuable and what causes most of the line moves.
So we have the oddsmakers putting their lines through various tests before even posting it as the opening line. Once it’s posted you then have the public masses betting using the information they have. All this molds the line almost to perfection. This is a reason why the final closing line is considered the sharpest possible line, especially Nowadays more than ever because of all the technology and readily available information. Bettors are running numbers through models and algorithms and in the end this creates an extremely sharp closing number.
So we know the closing line is sharp because it’s put through the various test stages of the market. If you are consistently beating that closing number (for example; you have team A at +4.5 and it closes at +4, you have beat the closing number) you are now highly likely to be a profitable bettor over the long term. It doesn't matter how you do it but by doing it you are giving yourself an enormous edge over the market. Betting the closing line doesn’t mean an automatic win of course but beating the closing line consistently over time will ultimately show a profit.
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Ranking every PM Chapter/World until TOK releases: #01

Ranking every PM ChapteWorld until TOK releases: #01
Welcome back to the Top 10s everyone. If you're just now joining us, this project has been ranking one or two chapters a day to count down to The Origami King's release, but also just to reflect and take a walk down memory lane. The rankings positions are purely the opinions of me and u/ulk96. More information can be found on the first post, Rank #36, and every previous entry is linked at the bottom of the page.
I just drove down to Gamestop to reserve a copy of The Origami King for myself. In 14 hours, I'll have a physical case in my hands and less than half an hour later, I'll be playing it for real. I can't believe it's already here. It was two months ago when I first heard this game's existence, one month ago when I first join the Mario RPG discord and started defending it with Klu, and one month ago when I began this series expecting it to go on forever.
This may be the last entry for this particular series, at least until my thoughts on TOK settle. I'll release another post with my overall thoughts on this whole project and my experience in making it and interacting with the Paper Mario community as a whole. For now though, welcome to the Glitz Pit.
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ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!?!
Chapter 3: Of Glitz and Glory, Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door
A lot of people may be disappointed in how basic a selection this ultimately is. A significant portion of the fanbase has this chapter as their absolute favorite, and with the spicier silver and bronze picks just preceding, a lot of people have voiced their disappointment. I've expressed earlier today in Twilight Town (Rank #02) that shock value does NOT play into the position these went to. Chapter 3 ultimately earns it's position for a reason, as many many fans will attest to.
Ultimately, however, I do want to stress that by no means is this a perfect chapter. The most significant set back is the fact that Chapter 3 doesn't have much exploration or level behind it. This ultimately works in it's favor, because Thousand Year Door is routinely terrible at map design outside of cities and dungeons, and a chapter that drops all that to do it's own thing ultimately has a higher success rate in the vacuum that is TTYD. However in the end, this does mean that the chapter ultimately suffers from missing one of the elements that make fans adore this series. How much that matters is ultimately subjective, and personally I do like the elements Gltizville brings to the table in exchange. If I didn't, this wouldn't be gold.
The floating Island of Glitzville has an absolutely fantastic design, that's both a loving spoof of consumerism and pro-wrestling media. The sheer variety of advertisements and swarming fans are a joy to behold, and the Glitzville NPCs have more dialogue than any, constantly changing to reflect Mario's status in the ranks. The abundance of NPC lines, Easter Eggs, and more ultimately make Glitzville feel like it has a more distinct culture than most places in TTYD. The city brings a specific theme, and a fantastic design, and ultimately feels so alive despite the face we have no idea where the civilians live or stay.
Upon arrival via the Cheep Cheep Blimp, which is an absolutely gorgeous introductory cutscene which really establishes the setting, you're immediately shown a match between Rawk Hawk and the Koopinator, where Rawk reveals the Champions belt is the next crystal star. You realize that as there isn't much level to begin with in the Glitz Pit, this is going to be a tournament arc. If you've been enjoying TTYD's battles, you probably feel super excited for that. You'd have had no idea what you were getting into.
Cleftor bring back painful memories of Jasperoid, brah.
The first thing you might notice is the sheer variety of characters you're introduced to, almost all of which end up with genuine roles to play in the narrative. I'm honestly at a loss for how to go down the list, so I'm going to start with the minor leaguers, because ultimately, even after you graduate from this place, it never quite stops feeling like your home.
Master Crash and Cleftor ultimately don't contribute to the narrative of the story, but they are fairly amusing in their own right. Their verbal ticks are largely used for gags, but I appreciate there presence for a reason I'll cover when I get to the actual gameplay of the chapter. The way Cleftor gradually opens up to you and Crash attempts to mentor you with advice unrealizing how much you outrank him is genuinely sweet, and as unexplored as they are, they ultimately contribute to the feeling of home the minor league has.
King K. is ultimately the main attraction here. Upon your arrival, he immediately decides you're his best friend and boy is he willing to work to make that mutual. The man is so friendly and such a good sport to you that you ultimately wish you could hang out with him. Sure, he talks a bit... overtly modern, but he's such a friendly character. He doesn't begrudge you for kicking his ass, he constantly wishes you luck and chats with stuff with you. When he says he plans to retire, you ultimately feel bad for him, but it's fairly understandable why when we have cutscenes establishing the dangers with the paramedics in the hall. Of course, after he goes missing, you assume he retired like he said he would. This leads to one of the bigger twists in the series, honestly, and is phenominal.
Bandy Andy I personally consider a super underrated character. He's essential to the design and narrative of the Glitz Pit. Not only does the fact that he's uninterested in climbing the ranks make the fighters within the Glitz Pit feel more alive and varied, he's also the first clue you have that the chapter is going to subvert your expectations and engage in the elements of mystery. Finding him in the hallways and hearing about the Seven Wonders of the Glitz Pit is ultimately an extremely fascinating read through and ultimately foreshadows so much of the Chapter in a way that doesn't spoil anything. Most notably, when he says he plans to investigate the mysterious lights under the ring, it directly foreshadows just what's going to happen and which one of these Wonders ultimately leads to the problem of the chapter.
The Armored Harriers are probably among the best ways they could introduce Yoshi and his kit this chapter. First of, having a pair of sore losers serve as the gate between the minor and major leagues is awesome. The dialogue from the Harriers is so unintelligent that you can't even blame Grubba for directly pissing them off because it makes the fight so much more interesting. You know you'd be more invested watching that with the audience, but also... the Glitz Pit ultimately has very little time to establish Yoshi and this was the best way they could. Having him join your party as the specific answer to a battle situation was a good way of introducing his macho, brawler type persona and the fact that he sticks to the wrestling scene is great. I bet he has fun moping the floor with these losers all the time.
Rawk Hawk is a fantastic red herring as well and the perfect example of a wrestling heel. He's underhanded, dirty and the kind of person you root to lose but ultimately have to respect for the sheer power and charisma he brings with his arrogance. His antics at keeping his belt ultimately become a fantastic red herring for the mystery, and helps preserve the Mario charm in what gradually ends up a darker chapter. Once he's defeated and you arrive at the Champion's room however, he lets the real story kick in and sound off the finale once he's dealt with, serving his role in style. Shout out to the poisoned cake trick and the foreshadowing about how NPCs note that he sent a cake to Prince Mush before their fight as well, strongly implying that he might be responsible for the Prince's disappearance. While he ultimately probably tried to poison Prince Mush, he doesn't turn out to be willing to go as far as kill the man like the true culprit did.
Have you noticed a trend yet? I'm listing character after character with nothing but positive things to say, not only for how humorous they all are but for how well they all fit into and serve their role in the narrative. The tale of the Glitz Pit is honestly told beat for beat to perfection with the exception of the random Bowser our of nowhere. Every character has a role to play with the lore of the arena, and the word of mouth and gossip from all NPCs paint interesting pictures as well. They talk about Prince Mush and let you know the old champion went missing. They talk about the red herrings, they talk about the mysteries. The sheer amount of character and strength that goes into the chapter could fill an entire, independent game.
In the right corner, we have this writer, Toad! And in the other, we have the twelve hours until her local gamestop opens and she can buy Origami King! Can she survive?!
So we've talked about the setting. We've talked about how the characters are fantastic and add to the mystery and plot. But before we gush about how the plot plays out, can Chapter 3 successfully stand the test of gameplay? I think it ultimately does. A lot of the detractors of this chapter will point out that the core gameplay of fighting twenty waves of enemies ultimately feels padded and I could not disagree more.
Of the enemies encountered, only the Goombas, arguably the KP Koopas, the Dull Bones, and the Mind Bogglers are not original enemies that debut in this chapter. Every round provides a unique challenge, and 20 battles ultimately isn't any more than any other chapter demands from you, unless you're like, doing a low level run where you dodge ever enemy. You have a lot more unique fights here, and Grubba's orders generally aren't too difficult, and are just a nice additional challenge. I especially appreciate the fact that they exist, because it's totally a jab at real world fighting tournaments where fighters are encouraged to balance actually trying to win with telling a good narrative to keep the audience hooked. Source: competitive boxer.
What's most important to balance how much fighting is in this chapter is the sheer amount of content that happens between rounds. Most notably, every single fighter in each locker room has unique dialogue for each and every rank. After each battle, the first thing I'd do is to talk to Cleftor, or Master Crash, or Hamma Jamma, because the amount of effort spent writing for them is genuinely insane. The NPCs outside are hardly any slouches in the writing department either, changing every few fights as well, I believe the number is five. This ultimately helps to make the Pit feel more alive, in addition to all the events that pop up.
Within the context of the minor league, generally speaking you mostly talk to King K and explore the tone of the Glitz Pit. He tells you about the Hot Dog stand and the Yoshi Egg, but you also overhear an injured fighter in need of paramedics. But when you get to the Major League and no longer have King K to hang out with, you get X, who has you run various chores that are very well spaced out in order to prevent the chapter from staling. Which leads me to the final part of my extended gushing about the Glitz Pit. The story itself.
This is the final caption in the write ups. The picture is suitably blurry. Thank you all.
In a lot of ways, the mystery of the Glitz Pit is the greatest chapter specific story every told in a Paper Mario game. Not only is it intensely tied with the setting, but also builds on a lot of it's themes and has a suitably diverse cast of suspects. Prince Mush's ghost hangs over the NPCs surrounding and just talking to them and realizing the man disappeared will have you realize that something more is going to happen but you have no idea what. It stays so simple. The crystal star is the Champion's belt, right? Just become the champion and walk away. It shouldn't be hard.
Until Rawk Hawk comes in and you realize that the belt is fake, then you start getting emails from X. There's four real email chains from X throughout the ten remaining Major League fights, but you also get emails from another person threatening you to stop following X's emails. You begin to realize that there's two players present and you begin to try and figure it out.
Grubba, Jolene and Rawk Hawk are ultimately the suspects for the master mind behind the Crystal Star, who's attempting to protect it through the emails. Rawk Hawk has been plotting against you already, for selfish reasons, which makes him an effective red herring. He's also in the perfect position to swipe the Crystal Star. Grubba's been nothing but kind but when you overhear him talking to Jolene from above the store room, he implies he knows about the stars. This is also where you find out that fighters have been going missing and King K never actually retired. You're invested in King K as a friend so this in particular raises questions immediately. But it could also be Jolene. She's been stopping your investigations, implies she's hiding something, and shows up just at the right time to confiscate the papers that X wanted you to see. And who's X? Grubba? Jolene? Someone new? Bandy Andy who's investigating the Glitz Pit?
But despite all the possibilities, every motivation is consistent and sensible, and the timing of how the information and hints are fed to you ultimately slowly whittles it down. When you find Bandy Andy and King K, drained and crushed under a block, the latter warns you about going into the arena when no one is around. This moment instantly elevates the tension and stakes, and gradually, Rawk Hawk is eliminated as a suspect when he comes clean about his motives in the championship bout.
At the end however, when the mysteries are solved one by one, the last one remaining is "Why is Grubba still so young?" Combined with the fact that fighters are disappearing, you realize just what's going on, and the confrontation through the airvent in the Champion's room is not a moment too soon after the last red herring was eliminated.
Grubba as a whole is a fantastic antagonist on par with Doopliss, because he's both very amusing throughout the chapter and maintains the Mario charm while being utterly heinous and terrifying. One it's revealed how he's selfishly using the Crystal Star to stay young by draining the strength of fighters with the machiene under the stage, puzzles begin to start falling into place. Bandy Andy's testimony, the disappearance of Prince Mush, everything. And he puts up an awesome and engaging final confrontation as well. All in all, he's extremely well done and it helps that despite his shallow motives, he still ends a graceful loser and compliments Mario on a good fight.
This is also the moment Jolene steps in and reveals herself as X, a twist that ultimately makes a lot of sense once everything is put together, and she's reunited with her brother, Prince Mush in an incredibly heartwarming moment. This is also the chapter that best exemplifies how the Crystal Stars do not distinguish between good and evil, something that Frankly brings up but is often not shown. Grubba uses the Star for selfish desires, but once he's defeated, it answers the will of Jolene and Mario in freeing her brother, adding an example to the over all plot of TTYD.
Ultimately, the mystery, story and characters of this chapter create a polished and ingenius contender among the best of the best chapters in all of Paper Mario. From the best presented mystery of the series, that isn't super challenging but is ultimately very well written, to the sheer ton of dialogue from all the NPCs that are surprisingly intertwined with the narrative of the chapter, and the fact that the game play is both engaging with completely unique battles throughout and plenty of things to do and mystery to solve between them. In the end, the Glitz Pit may be one of the most skillfully polished Paper Mario Chapters throughout all time, and it's an experience that leaves many players completely unable to put the game down. At the end however, this chapter is not untouchable. It manages to accomplish a lot using the tools it has, but it does depend a lot on broken expectations and on treading new ground. It's hard to call it the perfect Paper Mario Chapter, when it avoids many of the strengths of the series such as the exploration. But for all the polish and sheer spectacle it presents through it's narrative, it has soundly earned it's position as my favorite Paper Mario Chapter... at least, before the release of The Origami King.
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In a few hours, I will release a longer and more mushy post thanking all my readers for following me on this journey. You've all been fantastic. But if you're uninterested in all that touchy-feely good bye stuff, then I still want to make a brief farewell here.
This has been a fantastic month and I've hoped you all enjoyed my writings. I've appreciated all the fantastic discussions we have and I hope I'll have you back whenever I launch another project in the future. For now, thank you for reading.
Previous Rankings (to walk down memory lane): Rank #36 Rank #35 Rank #34 Rank #33 Rank #32 Rank #31 Rank #30 Rank #29 Rank #28 Rank #27 Rank #26 Rank #25 ( Bonus ) Rank #24 Rank #23 Rank #22 Rank #21 ( Bonus ) Rank #20 Rank #19 Rank #18 Rank #17 Rank #16 Rank #15 Rank #14 Rank #13 Rank #12 Rank #11 Rank #10 Rank #09 Rank #08 Rank #07 Rank #06 Rank #05 Rank #04 Rank #03 Rank #02
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Will the Green Bay Packers win OVER/UNDER 9 games? By University Stats Prof!

1. Introduction

Matt LaFleur’s first season as Green Bay’s head coach has to be considered a success. He led the team to a 13-3 record, which secured the NFC North title.

The Packers held off the Seahawks to a 28-23 home win in the first round of the playoffs, but were ousted by the Niners in a brutal 37-20 thumping (a game in which the Packers dugged themselves into an early 27-0 hole).

2. Offensive Position-by-Position Breakdown

2.1 Quarterbacks (QBs)

Aaron Rodgers will be entering his 16th NFL season. He had another excellent year with a 26-to-4 TD-to-INT ratio and over 4,000 passing yards. He finished as the 7th-best QB in the league according to PFF ratings.

At 36 years old, he is likely to have a few good years left. After all, Drew Brees and Tom Brady posted nice statistics in their late thirties.

Rodgers has been very durable throughout his career, but he’s not invincible either. Tim Boyle was the backup plan last year, and the team needed to upgrade the position while starting to think about the post-Rodgers era.

Still, drafting Jordan Love was the most questionable and talked-about pick in this year’s draft. People expected the Packers to go with a veteran backup QB. Rodgers has mentioned several times he wants to play in his forties; he can still offer a good five years of solid play in the frozen tundra.

Love has possesses great size, throws with velocity and he’s very mobile. The main knock on him is the decision-making and inconsistency.

As a sophomore, he threw 32 TD passes versus 6 interceptions. He regressed a lot last year by posting a mediocre 20:17 TD:INT mark. Granted, his surrounding cast was very weak and he had to go through a coaching change.

Love can throw from many different arm angles; he reminds people of Patrick Mahomes in this regard. He can throw a fastball or a soft touch pass.

Quick note: he almost quit football when he was 14 years old after his dad committed suicide. However, he knew his dad would want him to keep playing, so he did just that.

2.2 Running Backs (RBs)

Aaron Jones is a top running back in this league. Along with Jamaal Williams, they form a lethal duo.

Including the playoffs, Jones ended up scoring 23 touchdowns in 18 games. His 19 regular season scores were the second most in Packers history. His numbers have increased in each of his first three years as a pro. He is also excellent as a pass catcher.

Despite playing in the shadow of Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams still finished as the 17th-best RB based on PFF rankings. He does not seem like a lead back, but he’s a perfect change-of-pace guy. Much like Jones, he can do some damage as a receiver as well.

Williams has been a steady performer thus far in his career. He has rushed for 450-550 yards in each of his three seasons, while catching a minimum of 25 balls. He has 15 total TDs over this three-year span.

If you thought GM Brian Gutekunst made a strange move by drafting QB Jordan Love in the first round, he doubled down with another head scratcher in the 2nd round when he took A.J. Dillon.

Message to Mr. Gutekunst: Aaron Rodgers needed pass catchers, not a third running back! I really don’t get this pick either. I’m not saying Dillon won’t be good in the NFL; only time will tell. However, it clearly wasn’t a position of need for the Packers.

Dillon is a power back who rarely breaks off huge runs. He racked up big numbers in three seasons in Boston College. He’s unlikely to become a three-down starter, especially since he’s not a good pass catcher. He will likely be used sporadically as a rookie.

2.3 Wide Receivers (WRs)

Davante Adams is one of the best at his position. He had a streak of three straight seasons with at least 10 TD receptions snapped last year, but he still caught 83 passes for 997 yards in 12 games (he missed four games because of a toe injury).

Outside of Adams, all pass catchers appeared lost on the field. None of them developed a good chemistry with Rodgers.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling was a huge disappointment last year. He showed promise as a rookie with over 500 receiving yards. Here’s a jaw-dropping statistic: after Week #7, MVS did not get more than 19 receiving yards in any meeting. That’s awful.

One of the guys benefiting from Valdes-Scantling’s poor play was Jake Kumerow. He got more playing time than expected, but still only caught 12 passes. He is closing in on 30 years of age and is limited as an athlete, so he’s not a long-term answer for sure.

Allen Lazard was also thrown into action far more than expected. He finished second in terms of receiving yards for Green Bay, but let’s face the reality: the undrafted guy remains more of a #3 or #4 WR for any team.

Geronimo Allison was another bust last year. His top performance over the last 12 games (including the playoffs) was a meager 33 receiving yards. He left for another NFC North team, the Detroit Lions.

In other words, the #2 role is wide open. The team hopes newly acquired Devin Funchess can step into that role. The former second rounder had his best season in 2017 with the Panthers with a 63-840-8 stat line. He signed with the Colts last year, but played just one game before breaking a collarbone. He will be 26 years old this season and provides an interesting prospect for the Packers.

2.4 Tight Ends (TEs)

We’re not done talking about 2019 busts. Jimmy Graham was one of them. He clearly looks washed. He received the lowest grades of his 10-year career, and deservedly so. The Packers released him and he signed a few days later with the Bears (a horrible mind-boggling two-year, $16 million contract).

Marcedes Lewis received surprisingly good marks from PFF. If you look into the numbers, the good grade occurred mainly because of efficient run and pass blocking. He’s not much of a pass catcher and he will be 36 years old when the season begins.

Robert Tonyan will also be in the mix, but the guy that has the best chance to break out as a receiver in 2020 only caught three passes last year (all in the playoffs): Jace Sternberger. Taken in the third round of the 2019 draft, Sternberger was a threat at Texas A&M in college. He missed most of the regular season because of injuries, but the door is wide open with Graham’s departure.

We might also see third-round rookie Josiah Deguara. He has a great motor and plays extremely hard. He’s undersized as a tight end, though.

2.5 Offensive Line (OL)

The Packers had a pretty solid offensive line in 2019. All five starters managed to play at least 84% of the offensive snaps. And they all finished above-average according to PFF ratings!

The bad news, however, is the Bryan Bulaga left for the Chargers. Despite turning over 30 years old, he still played at a high level.

The Packers decided to replace him by signing Rick Wagner, formerly of the Lions. Wagner’s PFF grades from 2016 to 2018 were as follows: 74.0, 75.2 and 71.4. Last year, his play deteriorated a lot and he was tagged with a 59.0 grade. He finished as the #61 tackle among 81 guys.

I like the fact that the team is returning four out of five guys, but replacing Bulaga with Wagner has to be viewed as a downgrade.

2020 VS 2019 OFFENSE

The Packers offense finished in the middle of the pack in points scored per game. Barring major injuries, I expect about the same production in 2020.

The QB and RB situations remain the same.

Adding Funchess is not a huge move, but it won’t hurt. The team clearly needs someone to step up opposite of Davante Adams. At tight end, losing Jimmy Graham means close to nothing since he was so ineffective. Sternberger might bring a nice contribution, but we can hardly expect him to be a game-breaker.

Finally, the OL will take a dip with the loss of Bulaga. I don’t believe Rick Wagner can do better than him.

All in all, I view the additions/departures as a slight negative for Green Bay, but having so many starters returning to the lineup for a second straight season is always a good thing in the NFL. For these reasons, I expect a similar output as 2019 from this unit.

Final call (2020 vs 2019): Stable

3. Defensive Position-by-Position Breakdown

3.1 Defensive Linemen (DLs)

Kenny Clark had a fantastic season! He is one of the best interior rushers in the NFL. He recorded six sacks for the second straight year, and PFF ranked him as the 13th-best interior linemen out of 114 qualifiers.

The same nice comments cannot be made about Dean Lowry. He had the worst season of his four-year career as a pro. He did not post a single sack and wasn’t great against the run either.

Reserve Tyler Lancaster is only there to provide some depth. He isn’t particularly good in any aspect of the game.

The team did not make any move regarding this position during the offseason.

3.2 Defensive Ends (DEs) / Edge Rushers (ED)

During the last offseason, the Packers acquired two Smiths: Za’Darius and Preston. They burst onto the scene and got 13.5 and 12 sacks, respectively.

Obviously, both received high marks for their pass rushing abilities, but Preston finished as an average linebacker overall because of mediocre run defense and poor coverage.

Kyler Fackrell was a huge disappointment in 2019. After racking up 10.5 sacks in 2018, he only got one in 2019! He signed a one-year deal with the Giants.

First-round pick Rashan Gary wasn’t necessarily impressive during his rookie season. He played 23% of the snaps, while obtaining two sacks but very pedestrian marks from PFF (an overall 55.8 grade, which is near the bottom among edge defenders).

3.3 Linebackers (LBs)

Green Bay lost its leader in tackles from the past three years, Blake Martinez. After starting 61 of the last 64 Packers games, Martinez decided to join the New York Giants. He had the second-most tackles in the league last year, but don’t be misled by that number. Martinez still finished slight below-average (52nd out of 89 LBs) because of poor play against the run.

The Packers also lost some depth at the position when B.J. Goodson left for Cleveland.

Green Bay picked up a linebacker from the Browns roster: Christian Kirksey. He was picked in the 3rd round of the 2014 before being involved in all 16 games from his first four seasons in the NFL. However, he has been plagued with injuries over the most recent two years; he played 7 games in 2018 and only 2 games in 2019.

He is also capable of racking up tackles, as shown by his 2016 and 2017 seasons where he obtained 146 and 138. His PFF grades during his first four seasons varied between 61.9 and 69.3. Just to give you a rough idea, a 65.0 rating would have been good for 29th place out of 89 LBs.

3.4 Cornerbacks (CBs)

Jaire Alexander has done the job as the #1 corner. He has obtained 72.4 and 71.2 marks from PFF during his first two seasons, which is well-above average. He’s so-so defending the run, but his coverage skills are very good.

The number two corner, Kevin King had five interceptions last year after getting just one over his first two years as a pro. He did show some improvement after two rocky years. He finished 2019 as a middle-of-the-pack corner.

Tramon Williams played 74% of the snaps and had a surprisingly good season despite his age. He will be 37 when the 2020 season begins. He is currently a free agent and it remains to be seen if the Packers bring him back or not.

In summary, Alexander and King are both pretty young and could still be improving, but Tramon Williams provided quality play and it’s uncertain if someone else can pick up the slack.

3.5 Safeties (S)

Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage were the top two guys here.

Along with Za’Darius and Preston Smith, the Adrian Amos was another excellent signing by the Packers during the 2019 offseason. Amos had been a reliable guy in Chicago for four seasons, and he continued to excel in the frozen tundra.

After being selected as the #21 overall pick in the 2019 draft, Darnell Savage did show some flashes as a rookie last year. He finished as the #47 safety among 87 qualifiers, which is very satisfying for a rookie. He earned nice marks in coverage (77.4), but horrible ones against the run (37.7).

Will Redmond will be back as the number three safety. He’s not starter material for sure.

2020 VS 2019 DEFENSE

Most of the starters are returning in 2020. That’s the good news.

The team lost their leader in tackles, Blake Martinez, as well as pass rusher Kyler Fackrell and CB Tramon Williams.

The only acquisition worth of note is Christian Kirksey. Him not having played very much during the last two seasons brings some question marks.

The Packers defense struggled against the run last year, and there’s no reason to believe that will change in 2020. Green Bay still finished 9th in points allowed, which was a very acceptable result.

Unfortunately, a decrease in effectiveness is expected and I predict this unit will end 2020 as a middle-of-pack defense (12th – 19th in points allowed).

Final call (2020 vs 2019): Small downgrade

4. Regular Season Wins

According to sportsbooks, the Green Bay Packers are expected to win 9 games this season. Should we bet the “over” or the “under”?

Here is the methodology I used in order to answer this vital question:

Here are the results (excluding the simulated years where the Pack won exactly 9 games, since in those cases your bet would have tied):

Estimated Probability Sportsbook Odds ROI
OVER 9 WINS 51.4% bwin +115 +10.5%
UNDER 9 WINS 48.6% Heritage Sports +100 -2.8%
Tip: Bet OVER 9 wins
Return On Investment (ROI): +10.5%
Rank: 25th-highest ROI out of 32 teams
Minimum odds required to bet (i.e. ROI = 0%): -106

Here are BetOnline’s point spreads for the Packers’ 16 regular season games:
HOME: -6 vs ATL, -10 vs CAR, -4.5 vs CHI, -6.5 vs DET, -11.5 vs JAX, -3 vs MIN, -2.5 vs PHI, -3.5 vs TEN.
ROAD: 0 @ CHI, -2 @ DET, 0 @ HOU, +2.5 @ IND, +3 @ MIN, +5.5 @ NO, +6.5 @ SF, +2.5 @ TB.

Note: The “Best odds” from the table above were obtained after looking at 13 well-known online sportsbooks on May 18th, 2020.

TOMORROW: I'll talk about the team whose ROI is the 24th-highest in the league, the Pittsburgh Steelers!

Did you like this write-up? If so, comment below! I'd like to know YOUR opinion on what to expect from the Packers' 2020 season!

Professor MJ
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35 Whimsical and Fantastical Taverns and Inns For Your Table

35 Whimsical and Fun Taverns, Bars and Inns For Your Table

EDIT: An excellent official-looking edit has been created by the talented u/natesroomrule. You can find their copy here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1_xtqOtSbnULTjo81l0aYhQj7NdmWWi2p/view
A few years ago, I drafted a d100-based table for a variety of interesting and fantasy-themed taverns for my group. While that session ended up falling apart, I completely forgot about the table I created until recently.
Behold! Below, find a variety of silly, interesting high fantasy tavern ideas you can use to populate your worlds to make everything feel a little more fantastic and flavourful.
Note that some taverns assume a particular location or setting, but feel free to re-roll or adjust as need be.
Dropbox Link (.docx format): https://www.dropbox.com/s/ena4hwp0o82qzws/Fantasy%20Inns%20and%20Taverns%20Table%20by%20Tr1lobyte.docx?dl=0

The Table

# Name Description
1-3 The Dancing Imp Once a bar of ill repute, where shady deals and even devil worship took place. The legend goes that once a cunning bard called a devil, tricking him by destroying his sigil and cursing the imp to dance until it perished from exhaustion. Nowadays, it goes that demons have never since been found into the bar due to this old superstition. While the truth of this tale is often in dispute, the bar runs a marathon dancing contest on the first Saturday of every month with the winner taking a "devil's share" of alcohol in winnings.
4-6 The Drunken Unicorn Legends tell that, a long time ago, a unicorn made itself an unwitting patron of this bar. Drinking from a leaky cask of wine set out at the establishment's back door, it had that night crashed through a wall, caused an atrocious ruckus, and ran off after scaring all the patrons. Families whose ancestors were in the bar at the time of the event consider it a badge of fortune, and continue to drink there loyally to this day.
7-9 The Giant’s Foot A dirty bar full of lowlifes and criminals, commonly used for dealings between races such as orcs, goblins and yes, giants. While it's a hive of scum and villainy, where crimes between patrons are met with an uninterested shrug, those who mess with anything within the bar such as stealing glasses are swiftly met with a guard who nails them by the feet upside-down to the wall to rot, until their ankles break off and only their crucified feet remain.
10-12 The Dragon’s Head The giant skeletal head of a dragon hangs over the bar, a trophy of its retired dwarf owner from his years as an accomplished adventurer. The head is enchanted to breathe mists of pipe smoke when given an offering of alcohol.
13-15 The Living Ivy The building, it high roof taller than it is wide a relic of the building's former status as a church, casts a beautiful spotlight across the empty floor. Long thick vines, once a Shambling Mound, crawl up the walls, growing back so fast they're almost impossible to remove. During spring, pilgrims come from far away to witness the vines release magical glowing spores, which it is believed (falsely) are able to cure all manner of ills and ailments.
16-18 The Hungry Beaver Located at the bottom of a valley in a flood-prone region, the bar is set up on long, thick stilts to keep it from getting wet during heavy rains. A set of stairs, often responsible for the broken bones and chipped teeth of drunks leaving in the early dark hours of the morning, lead up to its doors. The tavern has a special local brew, called "Beaver Honey", which is made using this water and the sap from a nearby species of tree to give it a sweet flavour.
19-21 the Backwards Inn A tavern inherited by no-nonsense elvish managers who doggedly insist that the inn is sensibly called "Traveller's Rest". Locals have a tradition of reversing the lettering on all the signs advertising its presence overnight, always insistently crediting it to an ancient curse bestowed on the inn by an angry wizard long ago, or to an ancient tribe of mischievous pixies who consider it one of their greatest cultural customs.
22-24 The Twin Golems At the entrance to the tavern two huge clay golems stand, lifeless, their longswords crossed above the door frame. When commanded, such as during a raid or crime, the bartender can tell them a secret command word which activates their defensive procedure, blocking anyone from entering or leaving the building with force if necessary. The golems have been repurposed here, having been once automated labourers in a mine, but have no personality and are comatose until commanded.
25-27 The Laughing Gnome A small tavern with ceilings and objects designed for those of halfling or gnomish size, but they take all visitors. Their prized gnomish ale is famous, and the manager and owner, a portly gnome named Ferrowin Gladis, never tires of large human men attempting to squeeze their way through its tiny doors for a drink. There's also a variety of budget rooms for the shorter adventurer underneath the building, which for their price offer an unparalleled quality.
28-30 The Filthy Priest Once located near a church, this dive is notorious for its association with illegal trades being right next to the city’s skid rows. However, any Detect Good and Evil inside the bar only detects good. Its previous location next to a church and the scandals that it had involved with its residents resulted in the name change and move to the new building in the slums about a decade ago, a small statuette of a god providing the blessing on the building that had been stolen from that very religious establishment.
31-33 The Portly Frog A large, open room with a circular fountain and one particular statue of a giant, fat frog at the centre. Rumours say that the frog was a magically cursed prince petrified by a Medusa, though it is impossible to determine its validity. A small quartet of bards can usually be found in the corner, singing beautiful songs and busking for money. Those who cause trouble in the bar quickly find that this band of high-level Bards are also the security of the establishment.
34-36 The Rotten Pumpkin Located in the city where the annual "World's Largest Pumpkin" takes place, the winning pumpkin every year is traditionally placed at the front of the building until it rots, after which children often rip chunks off and have food fights outside. While this festival only occurs once per year, the pumpkin-based beverages and meals are available all year round.
37-39 The Paladin’s Oath A classy establishment for paladins of all sorts, all Evil cowers when entering its premises. Those of any Good or Lawful faith are often given free rooms provided they are questing for the betterment of the world, and small shrines can be found to most major gods surrounding the building in small stone huts. The owner, a human man and woman who were once paladins themselves, are willing to offer any assistance they can in the battle against the forces of evil. No cheap alcohol can be found here, and drunkenness is greatly discouraged.
40-42 The Rabbit’s Foot Once the host of an underground gaming den, the tavern now repurposes the betting rooms for lodging. On the ground floor, several dice, board and card games are always to be found, and locals (who are veterans to gambling and are often charlatans) love to play their games with travellers. The local favourite, Gladiator Dice, is even played by local nobles who frequent the rooms and are usually surrounded by guests hoping to cash in on their reckless spending.
43-45 The Shaking Shack Also known as "The Drunk Tavern", every few minutes the building shakes very briefly as if in a small-magnitude earthquake. Most locals and the bartenders are used to it, barely noticing the shakes, but new travellers frequently find it frustrating and distracting. Legends go it was once cursed by a warlock who, after being insulted by a legion of drunks, cursed the building itself to 'hiccup' as if drunk itself. For this reason, once per night, it is customary to pour a beer out onto the floorboards to sate "the hair-of-the-dog in the building itself".
46-48 The Garden of Maidens Named after the legendary children's tale of the 12 Missing Maidens (which is said to have happened nearby), the tavern is less jovial than one usually comes to expect. Drinking any alcohol in the bar invokes a somber depression in the drinker, which the owner credits to the haunting spirits of the dead maidens spoiling the drink. While it famously triggers sadness in almost all who drink there, it has a strangely addicting quality. Even stranger still, the only people this curse does not seem to affect is young human women.
49-51 The Mourning Widow This seaside tavern is populated by sailors, who sing loud out-of-tune sea shanties into the early hours of the morning. Its exclusive brew, the Widow's Tears, are said to be made from the tears of ladies whose husbands have died at sea. For these reasons, anyone who dealing with the death of a loved one can expect free drinks on the house.
52-54 The Enchanted Mug Contrary to its title, the mugs at The Enchanted Mug are not enchanted. In fact, gnomish engineers have developed a complex hand-cranked machine where a patron can observe the automatic creation of "The Perfect Brew". It tastes foul, but most people pay just to watch the Rube Goldberg-like giant wall-mounted device create their drink behind a pane of reinforced glass. Nowadays, it frequently experiences malfunctions, and often expels ale even worse than normal.
55-57 The Whispering Web A bar infamous for hosting criminals and fugitives from authorities, often home to Drow and other evil creatures. Theories go that secrets travel faster than feet there, which may or may not be true: Mirrors hanging on the walls around the bar are used to anonymously conduct business with one another, with each dealer the only person able to see the other. For this reason the tavern in prized for its discretion and has been rumoured as the host to a number of highly influential underground business deals.
58-60 The Shivering Pelican A classier establishment, the bar serves infamously cold ales. Among them is their prized "Frozen Swill", cooled with magical jets to far below zero, which is nearly impossible to drink. Themed as a Winter Wonderland all throughout the year, a series of hot springs located out in the back are very popular among the richer folk who can afford to use them. The bartender rumours that nobles use the springs as meeting places for concubines and illicit lovers, which is supported by several other gossiping members of staff.
61-63 The Golden Harp This tavern contains a magical harp, brought in at no small expense, which plays beautiful music as patrons drink and dine. Believed to be imbued with the magical talents of an angel themselves, its melodies have an almost hypnotic quality to them, which has been known to invoke intense emotion among a minority of the weak-willed. Frequent attempts to steal the priceless artefact mean that the harp is placed behind several magical wards that prohibit anyone from approaching. Each flagon and mug has an ornate harp carved into its side, and these are commonly stolen as ‘souvenirs’ for patron’s homes as a testament to its owner's musical tastes.
64-66 The Broken Cavalry Popular among war veterans, it borders a huge stable and a large field where horse races are frequently run for sport and recreation. The first stop in a long pub crawl, tradition dictates that a budding drinker not leave the back of their horse throughout the entire ordeal, which becomes increasingly more difficult as the rider becomes more drunk.
67-69 The Starving Yeti Set inside a cave in the side of a tall mountain peak, it is often used as a safehouse during the occasional avalanche or orc raid due to its naturally fortified structure. Only the opening of the mouth is used for the business, but the rest of the uncharted cave behind it travels deep into the mountain: However, only the bravest dare to scout out the area due to its huge labyrinthian size and dangerous monsters. Rumours of ancient dwarven treasures from a time long-forgotten are familiar to all locals, including the recipe for a highly-prized ancient Dwarf wine.
70-72 The Dragon’s Roost Pigeons have long taken their place in the rafters of the tall building in which The Dragon's Roost is located, often pooping into the drinks of those below (which is considered a very lucky omen). Many sustained attempts to remove the infestation in the past has proved fruitless, and has slowly developed into a superstition that the pigeons are the reincarnated souls of regular bargoers.
73-75 The Prickly Crocodile Located on the middle of a dry and unforgiving desert, most drinks are synthesized from a common cactus to create a series of bitter yet strong alcoholic beverages known as The Prickles. As the plant is highly toxic, only the bar's owners, and old and influential Dragonborn family, are familiar with the secrets to extracting the appropriate liquid without retaining its deadly poisons.
76-78 The Gaudy Cannon Located on the roof of the squat, well-constructed stone tavern, a faux-golden cannon fires a blank shot of gunpowder every time somebody completes the venue's infamous Drowned Liver Challenge, which involves copious quantities of local wine. The proprietor and barkeep, an eyepatch-wearing halfling pirate by the name of Two-Bones (since retired), takes great joy in this ceremony (the cannon her proudest trophy from her travels) and often participates in the challenge herself.
79-81 The Wild Sorcerer Though not gifted with Sorcerous magic herself, bar owner Meredith Garalin inherited the venue from her mother after it spontaneously appeared from nowhere during one of her episodes of wild magic. Business is slow due to its out-of-the-way location, though local rumours that suggest the tavern is cursed to one day magically return to whatever plane it was summoned from (and with all its patrons inside).
82-84 The Ghost Hog Impossible to trace, the faint squealing of some faraway pig can sometimes be heard from inside of the tavern during the day. Notoriously grimy and filthy the east side of the tavern, dubbed 'The Swill', is an open, muddy space which is commonly the ground for drunken barehanded wrestling matches both for sporting and settling disputes. Solid lumps can frequently be found in their unappetizing pints of ale.
85-87 The Glowing Scales The only remaining building in a village now entirely in ruins, it acts as an important resting place for those travelling between two major cities which keeps business booming. Due to its highly vulnerable nature, the barkeep offers free room and board, as well as a night of free drinks, to anyone who assists in fighting away the goblin hordes that attack at sunset several times a week.
88-90 The Masquerade Floor A classy establishment built in a refurbished noble's manor after it was invaded and taken over by a neighbouring kingdom, its blindingly white tiled floors give it a strikingly futuristic aesthetic. The drinks are distinctly expensive, but come in an eclectic rainbow of colours. All its staff, mostly elves, wear white face masks that conceal their identities.
91-93 The Empty Pail A large, popular tavern in which large drink orders are made in 'pails', metal buckets filled with ale that can be shared between patrons or quaffed by larger, more ambitious humanoids. A lot of food, like small sections of dried apple or strips of preserved bacon, are served floating or submerged in the alcohol which gives them a bitter flavour.
94-96 The Clever Merchant A bustling hub of trade and mirth, the business offers not only rooms and drink but also a variety of trade stock such as grains, ore, and lumber. The owner, a bald Dragonborn merchant, makes a decent profit over the impulse purchases of drunks with coin to spare, as well as off a variety of house-run gambling games such as the popular card game Merchant.
97-99 The Thunderous Wagon Located on the outskirts of a city next to a large stable for late-night travellers, they offer cheap rooms for those willing to put up with loud distractions to their slumber during the night. Popular wisdom dictates that banging your mugs of ales against the table before drinking will bless those staying overnight with good rest.
100 The Bloodthirsty Fish A popular location among hobbyist fishermen, the walls are lined with the trophies of various huge catches. A patron can be offered a free drink if they can prove themselves a record holder of the largest for a particular type. Their brew is atypically salty-tasting and popular among sailors.
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We’re still four months away from the anticipated start of the 2020 NFL regular season, but lines have been released for each and every game for all 17 weeks already. Navigate to each week of the season below to see the point spreads and NFL odds for each and every game, plus our pick for which game may offer some early betting value. Linemakers change lines based on the action they receive once the opening lines have been set and made available for betting. The line movement is dictated by the amount of action one side of a Sports Betting Info on Odds Shark. Odds Shark aims to become the global authority for online sports betting odds, whether it be in sports betting, poker, casino games or horse racing. To that end, it continues to add new football betting lines for NFL fans and new college football odds on all games for players who bet more on Saturdays than Opening lines and predictions are below; NBA basketball is (nearly) back in our lives. Caution is necessary – there are no guarantees about the league’s resumption – but it’s hard not to be excited as a basketball fan. This is set to be an unprecedented feast of ball, days and nights of games, hours gorging on games after months of When it comes to sports betting lines, you probably are wondering what the lingo of lines, odds, and spreads really mean. Understanding what these terms mean is essential to making proper picks on your favorite teams. For the most part these rules apply to all the main sports such as football, basketball, soccer, and hockey.

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