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The Friday Five: The Five Reasons You Should Drop Everything You Are Doing and Immerse Yourself in Game of Thrones

If you are a regular reader of our blog, you may have noticed something. No, not the fact that we are narcissistic man-boys who have nothing better to do than write for a blog that 30 people read, but that we are pretty much obsessed with the universe of A Song of Ice and Fire, or in laymen terms, Game of Thrones. You will find several references sprinkled throughout our writing. If you ever bring it up in casual conversation with us around, we will talk your head off for an hour about how we would pledge fealty to the Starks, but that Tyrion is still our favorite character. We are ‘those guys’ that sit around and play the Game of Thrones board game for five hours at a time, all while making ridiculous references, stabbing each other in the back, and holding grudges against one another months later. Hell, McCannon still is furious that I turned on him in the second to last round of a game we played six months ago. We haven’t played the game since.

Every time McCannon and I play a board game

My point being that A Song of Ice and Fire is absolutely something that you have to experience. I don’t care if you are young or old, male or female, or whether you love fantasy or can’t stand it. This series has something for every single walk of life. Without further ado, here are the five reasons you should drop everything you are doing and immerse yourself in Game of Thrones. As always, the reasons are in reverse order. And don’t worry, there are no major spoilers ahead.

1) Everybody you know has recommended it to you: I am a big believer in the idea that just because something is popular doesn’t mean that it is a quality product, sometimes it means the opposite*.  I guarantee you that at least five people have recommended either watching Game of Thrones or told you that you had to read the books, and you are probably a little skeptical.

*Look at Nickelback: Every single song they come out with is a shit stain sandwich that tastes exactly like the previous shit stain sandwich. Yet somehow, they still have rabid fans, make millions of dollars, and get laid significantly more than me or you. 

But guess what? They are ABSOLUTEY right! The quality of both the show and the books really is unmatched. I am not exaggerating at all when I say that I think Game of Thrones Seasons 1 and 2 are some of the best TV seasons in the history of the medium and that the books are my favorite series I have ever read. I know that all the rage these days is being hipster and that we as individuals feel that we can’t like something unless we were the firsts to do so.

Please don’t let that attitude take away from what I promise will be one of the best literary and viewing experiences of your life. Once you take the plunge, you can finally join in in your co-workers conversations, tell your friends to get off your back, and have your mind blown. I haven’t met a single person that has actually dove in and didn’t like what they got*. Seems like a win-win-win to me.

*Eli’s stance: If you can read the prologue of the first book and then put it down, maybe this story isn’t for you. As for Eli, he couldn’t put it down. Neither could I.

2) If you don’t like to read, there is a TV show to watch: This is kind of piggy backing on the previous one, but I think it is still important to point out. Look, I know that over 5000 pages of small text about an imaginary medieval kingdom can seem daunting. And I realize that not everybody has that kind of time, energy, or passion to read. But that is the beauty of what HBO is doing: they are putting together one of the best produced and highest quality programming out there and they are making the plunge much less daunting. You can watch the first couple of seasons, see if you like it, and decide to read it if you want. If not? Well then you’ll eventually have 10 seasons of top-notch television to take up your time! Whatever floats your boat!

It doesn’t hurt that Emilia Clarke is the star of the show and is naked in at least 4 episodes

3) Dragons: Ben Franklin once said, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes. But I think we all know that there is one more certainty: people love dragons. Whether it is in video games, movies, music, or television; people just can’t get enough of dragons. They are the ultimate magical beast, the final frontier for majestic creatures, and the keeper of secrets. With dragons come power, wealth, and fame. Every little kid dreams of slaying one to save the damsel in distress.  Everybody wants to harness the power of the beast to help them rule the world.

Dragons play a huge role in Westeros, the setting of Game of Thrones, where one hasn’t been seen in over 150 years. But they are omnipresent throughout the narrative and hold the key to many of the mysteries in the universe. They also help speak to many of the themes sprinkled through the books: The illusion of power; strength; fear; secrecy; wealth. Not to mention the fact that they are totally badass.

4) You could spend twice as much time researching theories on the internet about the universe as you could actually reading the books: There is a reason that Star Wars, Star Trek, and Lord of the Rings have such rampant followings: they are amazing universes that are realistic enough that we could find ourselves a part of them while simultaneously letting us escape to a place that is deep, engaging, endless and imaginative. The same can be said for the A Song of Ice and Fire universe.  To me, the sign of a strong universe is one that attracts thousands of fan theories, rampant speculations, and crosses into the main stream conscience.

I have spent probably hundreds of hours researching theories online, playing the board game, and talking about what I think will happen next with my friends. For those of you who have read ALL the books, I strongly recommend checking out both http://www.reddit.com/r/asoiaf and http://towerofthehand.com/ for several hours’ worth of really well thought out theories and speculation, as well as several interesting facts, foreshadowing, and insight that you probably missed on your first read through. It really helps add to the whole experience when reading the last chapter of the last book is only just the beginning of the adventure. A big kudos goes out to everybody that has contributed to this community. They are actually coming out with a book that focuses on thematic elements, character development, and general narrative structure. Simply amazing.

5) Shit like this happens throughout the whole series: I dare any of you to watch that scene and not immediately want to jump in. Not much else needs to be said.

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You, Me, and RGIII – The Chosen One

Your weekly recap of the biggest thing to hit Washington since George.

It’s RGesus!

In last week’s installment of, “You, me, and RGIII,” we heard from Rudy, a Redskins fan in his absolute infancy waxing poetic on his coming over to the ‘dark side*’ of things and joining in Skins nation. He was high on burgundy-infused touchdowns and drunk on our golden boy, Robert Griffin III. Things could not have started off better for Rudy or the several thousand other bandwagon fans that are jumping on the RGIII-led train. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for the new fans. When was the last time anybody ever wanted to join the Redskins bandwagon? When was the last time this town was as excited for a season as this? Keep them coming! But seriously, if you jump on after this year, you will forever be considered fake and I will never accept your fandom as legitimate.

*How anybody could pretend being a Redskins fan nowadays as being part of the dark side is beyond me. We have been irrelevant for what feels like centuries, we have a new charismatic superstar who is supposed to bring balance to the force, and our owner is a maniacal, power hungry leader. Wait, shit….

I, on the other hand, am a hardened, bitter, but eternally optimistic Redskins veteran. And predictably, the Redskins brought me to the highest high I have felt for years to then proceed to tear out my heart, Temple of Doom style, all over again. Will I ever learn? Probably not, but that is half the fun.

Rudy learned his first tough lesson in the second game of the season: a small part of what it truly means to be a Redskins fan. After jumping to a 21-6 lead, the burgundy and gold proceeded to shit the bed against a bad team and give away the game in the last 35 minutes with a blocked punt, a Swiss cheese defense that Merkyll and I could have torn apart playing flag football, and one of the most boneheaded plays in recent NFL memory. Welcome aboard Rudy! It’s pretty much this way for 17 weeks a year.

As far as our boy RGIII is concerned? Well, he came to kick ass and chew bubble gum, and fortunately, he was all out of bubble gum. He ended the day with 288 yards of total offense with 3 TD’s, but also threw a rookie-like interception. As a fan, I could not be more excited for the prospects in the future with this kid. He is electric, dynamic, strong, blazingly fast, and an absolute leader on the field. Off the field, he is charismatic, enthralling, personable, and overall a pretty humble kid. There is literally nothing not to like about him. Now, we just have to hope that he stays healthy for his career, something he won’t be able to do if he keeps getting hit like he has these past two weeks.

I think next week will be a good test of RGIII and his resiliency. Will he be able to bounce back from a tough loss and a game that the Redskins should have won? Will he be able to avoid the big hits he took the past two weeks and look to protect himself more? Will he win 2, 3, or 4 Super Bowls in his first 5 years on the Redskins? Only time will tell. Until next week fans, keep on Griffining!

In Case You Missed It: Breaking Bad is overrated, Tequila insanity, Not a good week for Armstrongs

Good afternoon. I just returned from the middle of nowhere and subsequently had no knowledge of anything that happened in the news the past week – what’s your excuse? Well, I just caught myself up on a bunch of last week’s events and am bringing you a litany of information you might not have known. Read forth:

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The DC Earthquake: Never Forget, Never Again

August 23, 2011. It began like any other day, ostensibly forgetful in the interminable loop of Corporate America’s ruthless drubbing on the souls of the Entitled Generation. But, like numerous nefarious numbers that not only nauseate us but also navigate us to the nadir of our emotional nexuses, 8/23 would nail itself into national notoriety (Alliteration Count: 11 – new P.R.!).

At approximately 1:51 EDT, while many grasped at the straws of the last nine minutes of their lunch break looking for something to fill the emptiness of a pre-PO-Life world, terror struck the eastern seaboard. Four miles below the surface of simple Louisa County, Virginia, home to roughly the same number of people as undergraduates at the University of Colorado-Boulder, the Earth’s tectonic plates began their best R. Kelly impersonations. Ordinarily, a quake of this magnitude would be categorized as an afternoon rumble. By Californian’s standards, it’s the Richter scale equivalent of Jessica Simpson’s stomach growl upon entering a Jack-in-the-Box.

But DC doesn’t share the same indifference towards fault-line friction as Mr. Kelly. We’re the epicenter of a unique dichotomy of inaction and overreaction. We pride ourselves in log-jamming any type of movement towards accomplishing anything for which we cannot attribute an additional vote. We stop letting federal employees *cough* Eli *cough* go to afternoon Nationals games because SOMEONE had to go and blow a bunch of taxpayer dollars on a bicycle building team-building event. And, we get super passive aggressive over 225 year old laws.

So with no earthquake procedures in place, havoc broke loose. The streets of downtown Washington became indistinguishable from those of Tripoli. Even The Washington Post’s cover photo was ambiguous. Are those two Libyan women fleeing rebel forces? Or two GS-12s finding solace in each other’s warm embrace?

8/23, like so many other infamous dates in American history, exposed our cushy lifestyles and lack of preparedness. However earthquakes, unlike other disasters in the Sim City 2000 rolodex, offer little to no early warning signs. There is no miracle fix, like the terrorism threat level color chart which taught us that the difference between a high threat level and a severe threat level is only a few nanometers on the visible light spectrum.

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Stop Faking It: The Washington Nationals President’s Race

Over the past seven years I, and the rest of the greater DC metro area, have seen the Washington Natinals* make a lot of mistakes. The play on the field has, overall, been pretty terrible** but that has never really bothered me***. I would rather sit through an awful ballgame than not have a team to root for. Fans of Hartford hockey, LA football, Seattle basketball and the very few fans of the Montreal Expos can all tell you that there is nothing worse in sports than being an orphaned city. Everybody but you gets to watch the game that you love.

*They actually screwed up the spelling of their own team name. Talk about a wardrobe malfunction.

**The team has actually been terrific this year. I’m eating it up and loving every minute of it so don’t think that I don’t appreciate it. I’m all in on this squad and could write about them all day but I digress from my original point…

***After all, I’ve been comparing them to the Wizards and Redskins. It’s not like the close by Orioles have done much to make me jealous either.

After years without a team, the DC area can finally welcome back the Nats!

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Shark Week or: How I Learned to Worry A Lot and Hate the Ocean

Shark week came and shark week went.

It has served no great purpose in my life, Shark Week. It has shaped no opinion, provided no great surprises. It is simply a yearly reminder, and solidifier, of something I discovered at a very young age through the general process of growing up in a world where sharks are, somehow, a real thing.

I am terrified of sharks.

While we’re at it: I am terrified of the ocean.

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FITS Socks – PART 2

I am currently neck deep in a large amount of work, but I had to take the time to write a Part 2 post about the absolutely incredible FITS socks… which by the way, show no sign of losing their comfort after another couple months of Afghan heat.

My name is Clifford, I am a sock addict, and here is my story.

My friends and I started a blog, and I thought it would be fun to hype something that I am obsessed with… comfortable socks. I had no idea that my gratuitous sales pitch for FITS Socks would lead to…

Apparently being deployed, and expressing your undying love for a product can lead to receiving some of them free of charge. It really helps if the product in question is made in America by patriots. I had been tipped off by the FITS sales rep that I had some socks coming my way, but I had NO CLUE how many… I pretty much reacted like this.

Now everyday is Christmas for my feet., and the rest of my sock collection was packaged up…

And unceremoniously burned… Alright, I made that part up, I actually got them cleaned and then gave them to some local Afghans who I knew would appreciate them. Their feet have never been exposed to the FITS level of comfort and thus they can actually still enjoy other brands of socks. Now it’s just me and you FITS. Spending some quality time together as we watch an Afghan sunset.

I gave out a good quantity of these socks to fellow Paratroopers, and received some of the following reviews.

  • It’s like they’re making love to my feet.
  • Where did you find these things? Are they even real?
  • Stuff like this is why we will eventually beat China, because they can’t reproduce quality like this, nobody can.
  • Why would I ever wear anything besides these? Do you think I can wear them all the time? Would they hold up in the shower?
  • I could see Jesus wearing these – Eddy
  • These are too good to ‘bate into.
  • Dr. Scholl’s ain’t got shit.
  • It’s like my foot is in a constant state of ecstasy, it’s a footstasy if you will

So once again, thank you FITS, for not only supporting the troops, but, more importantly, my feet.

In Case You Missed It: Drunk bears, Shark Week and Marketing is dead


Welcome to another issue of In Case You Missed It.

Yours truly was busy in the middle of nowhere last week and was going through internet withdrawl, but I still managed to find some things you probably didn’t know about.

Here’s what you missed:

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Unrealized Potential

The Olympic season is simply amazing. It’s a time when the entire world is united in captivation, watching finely-tuned athletic specimens compete at the highest level. It’s a time when Nationalism reigns and past wars seem less distant (Remember the Maine!!). It’s a time when young men and women can become global icons, but forgotten quickly enough that they don’t go all Britney Spears batshit crazy on us. It’s a time to forget about crippling unemployment levels and the Barclay’s scandal, and just throw ungodly amounts of depression-inducing money into funding a 17-day-long event. Finally, it’s the time, every two years, where I have the feeling that if I’d really tried, I could’ve made the Olympic Badminton team.

Honestly, it’s not just Badminton either. There’s also Curling, Luge, and anything equestrian to name a few. There are a couple of reasons I’m so confident I could make these Olympic squads if I’d tried. First, they’re not real sports. I mean, they’re not, right? Curling? Not a sport… If you’re sweeping you’re kitchen floor you’re unintentionally doing the most demanding part of curling. Luge may be one of the most fun-looking Olympic events ever, but it’s not a sport. McCannon, and I were posting Olympic times sledding down his back yard when we were 9. On to horses. Pretty easy: Olympics are for human sports.

I’m probably being too hard on these “sports.” In all honesty, my argument that I could make these teams has nothing to do with whether or not they fit as classic sports, it’s a numbers game. Can anyone reading this actually say they know, or have even heard of a friend knowing, anyone that plays any of these “sports”. Do you ever remember any of your friends growing up saying, “sorry I couldn’t come chill last thursday, my badminton practice ran long.” No. Of course you don’t. It has never happened. In fact, I’m pretty convinced that these Olympic teams are made up two weeks before the events, and are comprised of every day schmucks like you and I. Think about it, if you were watching complete amateurs compete in these sports, would you know the difference? No. We just assume this is as good as curling gets because it’s the Olympics.

Oh well. The truth of the matter is that I’m jealous. These “athletes” have found a way to beat the system and are now competing for the right to say they are the best in world; I can’t do that. But all is not lost. I still have a chance to live my Olympic dreams vicariously through a future son and you can be damn sure I’m not making the same mistake twice. That’s why I’ve got a plan to guide my son gently towards the sports in which he has the best chance at medaling.

Basically, if my son ever picks up a baseball I’ll call him a pussy. If he wants to dabble in soccer I’ll tell him that’s fine, but that Jesus hates his choice. If he asks about volleyball, he’ll learn that is how you get AIDS. I’m white so we don’t have to worry about basketball. BUT when my son inquires about badminton?! Holy shit… I’m immediately taking him to chucky cheese to ensure he knows he’s pleased his father. On the way home we’re stopping by sports authority and getting the most expensive badminton racquet and shuttlecock combo pack that they sell (thinking that’s around $35?). Then it’s just a waiting game. Eventually, because only one of 10 other people who take badminton seriously, he’ll compete in the Olympics. And because he’ll have my natural athleticism, he’ll get gold and I’ll be able to retire on some of that World Champion money.