Wednesday, April 27, 2011

TOPIC: Mike's 2011 Mock NFL Draft

Although The Penalty Box might still be on hiatus, I figured I'd tackle the first round of the NFL draft. Here are my picks.

#1: Carolina Panthers - Cam Newton, QB, Auburn

#2: Denver Broncos - Marcell Dareus, DL, Alabama

#3: Buffalo Bills - Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M

#4: Cincinnati Bengals - Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri

#5: Arizona Cardinals - Robert Quinn, OLB, UNC

#6: Cleveland Browns - AJ Green, WR, Georgia

#7: San Francisco 49ers - Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU

#8: Tennessee Titans - Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn

#9: Dallas Cowboys - Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska

#10: Washington Redskins - Julio Jones, WR, Alabama

#11: Houston Texans - Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri

#12: Minnesota Vikings - Jake Locker, QB, Washington

#13: Detroit Lions - Tyron Smith, OT, USC

#14: St. Louis Rams - Corey Liguit, DT, Illinois

#15: Miami Dolphins - Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas

#16: Jacksonville Jaguars - Ryan Kerrigan, DE/OLB, Purdue

#17: New England Patriots - Cameron Jordan, DE/DT, Cal

#18: San Diego Chargers - JJ Watt, DE, Wisconsin

#19: New York Giants - Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College

#20: Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Justin Houston, DE/OLB, Georgia

#21: Kansas City Chiefs - Nate Solder, OT, Colorado

#22: Indianapolis Colts - Derek Sherrod- OT, Mississippi State

#23: Philadelphia Eagles - Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado

#24: New Orleans Saints - Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson

#25: Seattle Seahawks - Muhammad Wilkerson, DE/DT, Temple

#26: Baltimore Ravens - Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama

#27: Atlanta Falcons - Kyle Randolph, TE, Notre Dame

#28: New England Patriots - Mike Pouncey, G, Florida

#29: Chicago Bears - Marvin Austin, DT, UNC

#30: New York Jets - Cameron Heyward, DE/DT, Ohio State

#31: Pittsburgh Steelers - Gabe Carimi, G, Wisconsin

#32: Green Bay Packers- Brooks Reed, OLB, Arizona

Monday, April 25, 2011

My Top 5 All Time Favorite Video Games

We have yet to have a post in our "Games" section, so I thought I'd share with you readers my 5 favorite video games of all time and why I love them so much.

I grew up a Mario/Nintendo kid. I beat the original Super Mario Brothers when I was just getting out of diapers. I was hooked on video games. I went from Mario and found The Legend Of Zelda & Metroid. These 3 games I will forever remember playing in my Grandparents basement in my stuffed Mario chair. As I got older I soon discovered the Sega Genesis and Sonic The Hedgehog. I grew up on "Team Mario", now I'm on "Team Sonic".

What makes a great game? Not a "good" game, a GREAT game. For me, what makes a great game is the connection I have with the story and the characters. A great game makes you want to play it over time and time again and still find something new about it. To me, the story and characters are what make games great. Great video games to me are also fun and exciting. Take Mortal Kombat. It's a fighting game with 4 commands and a handful of characters. However, Mortal Kombat is a classic, fun game because if you still play it today, it still holds it's own with modern day fighters. I also look for that "X" factor. I know saying "X factor" is pretty lame, but it's true in this case. Some games you play have that little something about them that for reasons you can't explain, you just love it. All of these factors combine into great games. This list is my five favorite games of all time.


Sonic The Hedghog 2
Mortal Kombat 2
Super Smash Brothers
Final Fantasy IV
Gran Turismo 5
God Of War

V: Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood (Xbox 360)

Sure, this game is relatively new, but this game had a lasting impression on me. The original Assassin's Creed was an innovation and a monumental success that spawned an entire Assassin's Creed saga with numerous titles and sequels. "Brotherhood" to me, perfected everything the original title introduced.

I spent many sleepless nights trying to unlock all of the secrets and side quest items before I finished the main story. Needless to say, after a month of playing this game I only got 60% of total items putting in over 40 hours of game play.

The game takes place minutes after "Assassin's Creed 2" ended, and once again you play as Ezio Auditore da Firenze. I wondered how the game will have you upgrade your already perfect armor from AC2, making this an all new game. Enter epic cannon battle...

This game has everything from huge, epic battles, to a great storyline, to amazing side quests and an even more amazing online multi-player experience.

IV: Final Fantasy VII (Sony Playstation)

What can I say about this game that hasn't already been said by the millions of fans who still play this game to this day? It's considered by many to be the flagship of the Final Fantasy series and I don't see any reason how it couldn't be.

Graphics like this were unheard of back in 1997. This was a leap forward in what was possible. Besides the game play, character development and amazing boss battles, you had one of the baddest villains in gaming history, Sephiroth.

This dude was just mad. He lost his mind after he realized he was nothing but a science experiment. The final confrontation at the end of the game is one of the best I ever played, partly because Sephiroth has one of the most recognizable and most popular theme songs ever, "One Winged Angel".

Metal bands cover this song. Orchestra's cover this song. Some people just play the game to just fight Sephiroth and hear this song. Final Fantasy has the best soundtrack in game history. Even if you didn't have the music, Final Fantasy 7 is still a masterpiece.

III: The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time (Nintendo 64)

This game is what Zelda games are all about. It's better than "A Link To The Past", it's better than "Twilight Princess", it's better than any other Zelda game ever made. It's one of the greatest games ever made. Whether you find a N64 and play this or download a ROM of the game, your going to experience not only the best Zelda game ever made, but argued by many as the greatest game ever made.

First off, before I say anything else, you were introduced to the ultra badass ADULT LINK!

This game has one of my favorite boss battles of all time in the Spirit Temple, Twinrova.

This game also has a boss where I had a lot of problems with, Bongo Bongo.

This game also has one of the toughest levels in gaming history, the Water Temple. It's the first time I used a player's guide since Final Fantasy IV. That's how hard this dungeon was.

The final confrontation with Ganondorf was amazing. It still holds it's own with games of today.

"Ocarina Of Time" is a masterpiece. There is no other word for it. Play. This. Game.

II: Super Metroid (Super Nintendo)

"The last Metroid is in captivity. The galaxy, is at peace"

Those words I will never, ever forget. What the original Metroid introduced, not only did Super Metroid improve it, but this game blows the original out of the water. That's how good this game is. The graphics and gameplay took side scrolling adventure games to an all new level. You really do feel the sense of exploration when your on Planet Zebes.

Still gives me chills when I watch it.

Even though you can beat the game in 3 hours if your good enough, it's one of the best 3 hours you will spend playing a video game.

You like awesome boss fights? Yea, this game has them...

It's a shame Nintendo ruined the reputation of Samus. "Other M" would have been a decent game if they didn't make her into such a woman. Yes, although she is a woman, she was a badass. Samus reminds me of Ripley from the Alien movies.

If Nintendo would have modeled Samus after Ripley in "Other M", the game wouldn't have been that much of a disappointment. Anyhow, Super Metroid is perfect in every way possible. It's a close call, but it falls to #2. My all time favorite video game is...

I: Final Fantasy VI (3 in the US) (Super Nintendo)

Words cannot express just how good this game is. Many Final Fantasy fans say VII is the best. Not to me it isn't. Sure, VII may have the more popular characters and the better graphics, but nothing compares to how amazing Final Fantasy VI is.

I wanted to get into battles just so I can hear this.

Final Fantasy VII may have Sephiroth, but Final Fantasy VI has Kefka, the greatest villain in gaming history.

Evil. Pure. Evil.

Kefka is not only an evil bastard that enjoys killing, destroying and laughing when people suffer, but unlike almost all villains, he actually accomplishes his goal in destroying the world! He has the powers of a god. Sephiroth is a crying child that's upset about his life. Kefka is a mastermind of pure evil.

The entire story with Locke, Terra, Shadow (unlockable, but still badass) and everyone is the greatest story I ever saw in a video game. With beautiful music, great characters, great character development, great graphics, an amazing villain and a lot of optional extra side quests you can accomplish during the main story, only one word can describe this game: Perfection.

That concludes my list of my favorite 5 video games of all time. All 5 games are games you should all play. These games will forever be remembered for years to come and will still hold their own in future generations of games. What makes these games so well is the lasting factor they have. No matter how many times you play them, they are still as brilliant as they were when you first played them.

TWITTER: @BrainstuHammy

REVIEW: Watchmen

When you talk Graphic Novels you have to start with Watchmen. This piece of work could be called the greatest piece of visual media of the genre. Strong words, of course, however this is a work unparalleled and a standard by which all other Graphic Novels are measured.

Written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons, Watchmen is an in depth look at our world in a fictional Cold War era with real superheroes. The Comedian has been killed and Rorschach the last of the active superheroes suspects that this is no mere homicide. So begins a deeply written exploration into the psychological aspect of super heroism and the world that we and the characters live in. This is not some bad guy versus good guy kid’s story. Watchmen is an adult dark view of the real world with real consequences of average people dressing up to fight crime. The world changes when a real “super-man” actually comes onto the scene. The character of Dr. Manhattan is done so well its missed by most readers (hint: watch the clothing he wears as the book goes on). He is god-like. How would that affect a human being? Read it and find out!

Watchmen is a psychological study of people at its core and a study of the world at most. Alan Moore is pure genius. Watch the words. Watch the pictures. The story is not made up of one or the other it is both. Nothing is insignificant; every line of dialog, every scene from foreground to background is important to the story that we are being told.

There are stories within this story that help with the main plot. Read separately you will find that the Tales of the Black Freighter and Under the Hood are clues as to what the novel as a whole is trying to say. They are not distractions they are specific points of understanding that parallel the premise of Watchmen.

Here is some help for those of you brave enough to take this journey. Pay attention to the genius of Chapter IV, Watchmaker as a study of Dr. Manhattan. This chapter shows with amazing detail how Dr. Manhattan sees the world. Chapter V, Fearful Symmetry is one that the reader needs to look at as a whole. Open the book to page one and then flip to the last page. Notice the panel arrangement? Page two and the second to last page. Back and forth until you get to the center. Piqued your interest yet? Try Chapter IX, The Darkness of Mere Being turn to page 27, the top panel. Now go to the internet and look up “Mars Anomalies Face on Mars” (or something like that). What Alan Moore did for effect and artistry turned out to be an interesting coincidence. These are just a few of the myriad of instances of the mastery of this work.

The end I will not spoil for you. Suffice it to say that if it doesn’t make you think then you probably missed the point. Give yourself a moment to re-read it. The message is there.

The movie is a review for another time. I will review the movie and then write a comparison of the two. For now pick up a copy of Watchmen; take some time, grab a drink, send the kids to bed and immerse yourself with words and pictures in a true literary experience.

WRITTEN BY: Jerry Browning
TWITTER: @Endless102

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I Should Be Doing Laundry - "Growing Old Together"

Growing Old Together

So, as some of you may know, my husband has been out of work for almost 3 months due to a work related injury. Most wives would cringe at the thought of having their husband home with them, 24/7. I hear so many of my friend complain about their husbands, saying they such things as "he's so annoying", "he's such a baby" and "he's so controlling". When I hear them say these statements, my thoughts are 1. I feel bad for them  2. I feel so damn lucky to have such a wonderful man, that loves and respects me for who I am, and 3. I wish they could experience with their husbands what I have with mine. Do we have times where we bicker or argue with each other? YES, of course we do. Those times are few and far between. It hasn't always been this way with us. It took us many years of marriage to settle in and "get it right", so to speak. When we do fight, I always try to sit back and think "Is what we're fighting about really worth it?" and I can tell you now, 99.9% of the time, the answer is NO.

I have to admit having him home with me has spoiled me rotten. Myself only working part time and being home 5 days a week, I have really gotten used to having him here with me. Waking up with him in the morning, sitting at the kitchen table having coffee together, laughing and conversing for almost 90 days straight, has been an eye opener for me. I know now, more now than ever, that I married my soul mate. He is the one that I was meant to be with. The one that I will absolutely enjoy growing old with.

Yesterday he called me from his doctor's appointment and told me the doctor said his back is now better and is able to return to work. This was bitter sweet news to me. I was happy and relieved to know that he's healed, healthy and surgery was not needed to correct the problem. I was sad because our "quality time" is about to end. This time was not only good for the two of us, but also for our kids as well. There's a different feeling within "the family" now. I cant explain it. We've always been a very close family, sitting down having dinner together, as a family, 5 days a week, watching movies together, etc., and it seems like there is an even stronger bond made now. I love that. 

I wish all of you the happiness my husband and I have together. We may not have money, but we sure are rich with love.

I love you, Rob, with all my heart and soul. When you walk into a room I still get tummy flutters like when we first started dating. If these past months were any example of what it will be like to grow old with you, I consider myself a blessed woman.

Our Wedding Song: 9/10/95