A Mother’s Day Message

Though it took place over 20 years ago, I remember it vividly.  It was late on a Monday night when my mother walked through the door.  You could tell by the slow cadence of the door hinges as she opened and closed the door that it had been a rough night.

I had been deep in the thralls of a video game, Final Fantasy 7 if my memory serves me, having been able to get an extra hour or two of playing time in her absence knowing full well I would have already received an earful about my homework had she been home.  But that night she didn’t even bother to come down and scold me, as she only uttered one phrase to my dad before they retreated upstairs to talk in private.  “I feel like I just had to make one of the hardest decisions of my life…”


It has been a difficult week to say the least.  As I’m writing this, I am in route back to the United States for 6 weeks of training, which will be the longest time I’ve been away from my wife and son.  I had been preparing for my departure for the last month and though I was physically and mentally ready for my trip, or so I thought…

On Wednesday, I learned that my stock trading coach had suddenly passed away, his body succumbing to a brain tumor that had rapidly grown out of nowhere.  We were chatting on a zoom call like we usually did on Wednesday evenings, and two weeks later, he was gone.  All of us in our trading group were shocked and saddened by the news, but at least we had some solace that he had lived an eventful life, and he had the stories to back it up.

Then on Friday, I received some news that absolutely slayed me.  I learned that a coworker’s child had passed, and though I don’t know the details, it looks to be a suicide.  I couldn’t quite figure out why this struck me so hard, for I’m usually able to keep stoic in these situations, but knowing who this man was, humble and kind-hearted through and through, my heart broke for him.  “How could something like this happen to him, of all people?”  I couldn’t imagine the pain he was feeling right at that moment, knowing he wouldn’t see his child again, knowing he didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye.  As I was thinking of this, I could see my son in the living room, a beautiful, innocent 2-year-old, laughing, playing, still oblivious to the horrors of this world.  It was only natural that my mind went to a dark place after that.

I can’t imagine what it’s like to be a kid these days.  Social media has destroyed any perceptions of reality as they’re perpetually connected to others who are sharing only the very best of their filtered, fantasized lives, as if they never deal with the struggles of being a teenager, or a human being for that matter.  A place where anonymous bullies can tear them down and make them feel worthless without any repercussions.  A place you can’t escape from, where one bad post or simple mistake is forever a stain on their record and can destroy their reputation.

Coupled with that is our culture’s growing obsession with sex.  Most of the sitcoms on network TV are littered with it, and that’s not even counting what’s on Netflix or HBO Max (Game of Thrones, anyone?).  And it was difficult enough already growing up in the dawn of the internet where pornography became easily accessible.  At least we were given some indication that what we say wasn’t normal, and that it took some effort to obtain it, let alone conceal your degenerate behavior.  Now with unfettered access to the most hardcore pornography imaginable with a few clicks of a mouse, we’re stripping them of any imagination, anticipation, and innocence of sex, of knowing the importance of having an emotional relationship with a woman, and of the drive of seeking a worthy mate.

The obsessions don’t stop there, as there’s the push to teach kids about sex and transgenderism, with some encouraging them to embrace it without the consent of their parents.  And how confusing must this be to a child, telling them they can be something that they inherently aren’t, that they can take hormones, go through surgery, and make life-altering decisions, as if that’s the answer to their problems, that if they mutilate their bodies, then they will become full, normal and accepted?  It wasn’t long ago that we called this crazy, but now this is being widely supported by politicians and academics alike.  There are even some in the medical field that are promoting it.  How cruel can we be, and how lost have we become to tolerate this?

I say we for a reason, for as these thoughts and several more ran through my head, I was filled with terror, fear, and hopelessness.  For most of my adult life, I could barely restrain myself from the temptations that came with social media and the digital age.  If we as adults can so easily succumb to the evils of this world, how do we expect our children to do the same?  “They don’t stand a chance,” was all I could think to myself.  “None of them do.”

That night and the next day, I prayed to God for my coworker, for my son, and our nation.  Eventually, my prayer turned into a desperate cry, pure vulnerability on display, pouring out my soul until I just repeated, “I don’t want to fail my son,” over and over again between sobs.  It was the only thing I could say.  “I don’t want to fail my son…”


Years later, I found out what my mom had been so stressed out about that fateful night.  As the president of the school board at our school, she was forced to make a decision in opposition to her best friend, to go against a policy they had created and renege on a promise she had made that involved hiring teachers who did not yet have their teaching certificate.  Knowing how it could damage her relationship with her friend and make her look lie a fool in front of the community if she was wrong, deep down she knew what the correct decision was.  So that night, she decided to give a young, new teacher a chance.

That teacher, Mr. Healy, ended up becoming one of the best teachers I ever had.  Through him, I developed a love for storytelling and actually began to enjoy reading for the first time in my life.  He taught us how to analyze themes and think for ourselves the meanings and interpretations of classic literature.  His Research Writing Class was one of the toughest, yet best courses I took in high-school, and even marked the first time I had to pull an all-nighter to finish a paper.  But it paid dividends in college, for every time I had a writing assignment, I could pull out my old class notes as the foundation for each of my papers.  And each time, my professors were impressed.  One particular paper on affirmative action, a theme I had written about in high school, my professor essentially told me after a single draft that my paper was nearly perfect, all because I applied what I learned from his class.

I tell this story for a few reasons.  One is that through the darkness I’ve felt during this week, with all the evil we face in this world, it gives me hope.  It gives me hope that a little courage and willingness to stand up for what is right can make a world of difference.  Without Mr. Healy in my life, I may have never developed my love for writing, but without my mother’s conviction, he may have never been a part of my life.  And unbeknownst to her, her one vote ended up making a huge impact on my life.

The second is to apologize.  I apologize to my mother, and my father for that matter for all the times I acted like a turd, for not telling them where I was at night, for making them worry when a quick phone call would’ve sufficed, and for all the other stupid, selfish stuff I pulled as a kid, including all the Jackass stunts and that one time I fell off a rock and almost died.  I had no idea the emotional toll that comes with being a parent and how all the things I did as a kid could cause so much stress.  I had no idea the amount of sacrifice it takes being a parent and how much mine were willing to sacrifice for me.  Growing up, it baffled me why my parents seemingly gave up their dreams, why my dad worked a 9-5 that was much more stressful and much less gratifying that it should’ve been, and why my mom chose to stay at home and take care of us instead of being a fashion designer.  Now, I understand completely.  There’s no amount of corporate success or personal dreams that comes close to the joy of being a parent, and the sacrifices you make are well worth it.

And lastly, it’s to say thank you.  Thank you for being a mother, for caring, and for making decisions in my best interest.  And even when it wasn’t the right choice, for making it because you loved me and wanted what was best for me.

Thank you for being a role model, an example of how I can be a good parent.  For giving your son and grandson a chance in this world.  Your love gives me hope, even in the darkest of times.

Happy Mother’s Day.


Your favorite son

Kanye Represents the Spiritual Struggle Within All of Us

Anybody who knows me knows that I’ve been a huge fan of Kanye West for a long time.  His “My beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” is a masterpiece of an album, possibly my all-time favorite outside of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon,” and for the most part, I like his brash, no-filtered style.  In a world of celebrities where everything seems so fake, it’s actually refreshing to hear somebody say exactly what’s on their mind, no matter how outrageous it may be.

With all that said, his behavior as of late has been disheartening to say the least.  The culmination of events that has led to his most recent “I like Hitler” statement has been excruciating to watch.  There were many to quickly condemn him, and others who blame his episodes on mental health.  And while that may be a part of it, I believe his struggles are much deeper than that.

Whether we’re aware of it or not, Kanye, like the rest of us, is caught in the middle of spiritual warfare.  And sadly, I fear he’s losing the battle right now.

The word Israel literally means, “to struggle with God,” as told in Genesis chapter 32 where Jacob literally wrestles with an angel for an entire night.  At the break of dawn, the angel finally lets him free, changing his name from Jacob to Israel, of which Jacob’s 12 sons would eventually represent the 12 tribes of Israel.  And how fitting a name that would be, not just for Israel, but for all of humanity.

Throughout history, you see this struggle play out.  Moses led the Exodus from Egypt, paving the way for a great Kingdom under King David, only for the Jewish people to lose their way and eventually fall to the Babylonians.  There’s a similar story with the Christians Crusaders leading to the Dark Ages.  Today, we’re watching this struggle not only play out on a macro level with our country, but on a micro level in our individual lives.

And unfortunately for Kanye, the curse of stardom means that his struggles are out in the open for all of us to see.

For a long time, Kanye was doing exactly what the devil had planned for him.  As he gained popularity, his music became cruder, with songs that included a vulgar rant about how “Yeezy taught,” a woman how to perform incredible sex, to even referring to himself as “Yeezus” in a direct afront to God.  The devil was more than happy taking this talented rapper/producer further away from “Jesus Walks,” and more towards “I am a God,” and he was rewarding him with all the material treasures of this world.  He received the most desired woman in the world as a wife, he had become extremely wealthy, and his influence was only growing, even reaching people like me who, like Kanye, had strayed from their spiritual upbringing.

But then, something happened.  Something that wasn’t in the devil’s plans.  No, it wasn’t Kanye putting on the red hat (though I’m sure that wasn’t in his plan’s either).  He did something far more treacherous, far more betraying…

He declared his allegiance to Jesus.  And he did so with a bang.

His album “Jesus is King,” debuted at number 1, and the titular song, “Selah” was a loud and proud tribute to the glory of God.  This boisterous rapper was now using his powerful influence and far-reaching voice to not only praise and honor God but deliver His message and make converts out of those lost souls.

This looked like a positive turnaround for the accomplished rapper, but like all of us, he is a fallen creature in this sinful world.  And his figurative chickens were about to come home to roost, leaving us with several lessons.

1. You cannot serve two masters.

Kanye, like many of us, claims to serve the Lord.  And while we mean well by it, we often fall short of that claim, for we have our faults, our idols, and our weaknesses that prevent us from committing our full service to Him.  It’s why Jesus said it’s easier for a man to go through the eye of a needle than for a wealthy man to get into heaven.  Although Kanye was vigorous in his faith for God, he believed, like many of us foolishly do, that he could work that into the secular empire he had emersed himself in, one who’s worldview was in complete contradiction with the Christian worldview.  Sooner or later, something had to give.

Is Kanye’s love for Jesus greater than his love for fame, wealth, influence, and most of all, his ego?  Only him and God know the answer to that question.  But it’s a question all of us need to ask ourselves.  We may not have what Kanye has in terms of material things, but we all struggle with those worldly desires that we just don’t want to give up, from the lonely single man addicted to porn to the church pastor who’s more concerned about retaining the size of his congregation over preaching the true word of God.  And how many of us wake up on Sunday morning thinking about how our favorite NFL team is going to do vs. how we’re going to honor our Lord and Savior on the Sabbath?  I’ll be the first to admit I’ve been guilty of that sin many times.

I hope Kanye can eventually get to that point.  I hope we all get to that point.  However, to do so, we must surrender those vices and temptations that have control over us so we can fully serve the one true God.  However, the enemy does not give up that easy, which brings me to the second lesson…

2. Never underestimate your enemy.

Kanye West is a gifted individual.  By watching his documentary “Jeen-yus,” you see how the combination of talent and relentless drive and determination propelled his career to become one of the most influential rappers of our generation, despite several roadblocks and powerful people in the industry not giving him a chance.  The same qualities that made him such a success also generated many of the flaws we see in him, of which Satan has his own drive and determination to exploit.  Not only is he cunning and relentless with this exploitation but has no problem leaving a path of destruction in his way.  As Christians, it’s important to understand this, for we all have our weaknesses that we must actively combat.

His Christian faith clashed with the hedonistic lifestyle that comes with the Kardashian name, and it was only a matter of time before his marriage would fall apart.  And that’s when the attacks really began to ramp up.  He was provoked by an individual of whom I’m actually starting to believe is involved in satanic worship (but that’s another story for another day).  Immediately after their separation, this man started sleeping with his wife, even going as far as tattooing the name of his children on his body.  Something like this would drive anybody mad.  Mix in a diagnosed bi-polar disorder, and it’s a recipe for disaster, as was apparent all over social media.

The downward spiral into self-destruction continued.  He began receiving threats of physical harm, threats of never seeing his kids again, and even threats of losing his wealth, the last of which came to fruition on some level.  Each time he responded, the situation only seemed to get worse.  I can understand the indignation, for any righteous person would, and frankly should have some level of anger if ever they were to receive the type of attacks Kanye faced.  But Satan was in control of the situation, and the more the saga went on, the more Kanye relied on his ego, fame, and influence to combat him instead of relying on God’s guidance. 

3. We all need good, spiritual guidance to develop spiritual maturity.

When you listen to Kanye talk, he speaks as if he’s ready to be a general in God’s army, when in reality he barely just finished his first tour of combat and lacks the maturity to lead an army into a battle of such magnitude.  He is in severe need of spiritual guidance, of which I don’t think he’s getting much of.  Right now, he’s being heavily influence by a man named Nick Fuentes, which admittedly, I know very little about.  A quick internet search pretty much makes him synonymous with “white supremacist,” a term so broadly and overly used these days to describe anybody with differing views that it’s pretty much been rendered meaningless to me.  Regardless of what his racial views are, it’s apparent that he’s taking advantage of Kanye right now, acting as an enabler to his addiction to fame.  Each time Kanye needs his fix, Mr. Fuentes is there to deliver the goods with another podcast appearance, with each hit costing him nothing but a small a piece of his soul for payment.  Sooner or later though, he’ll have nothing left to give, while the dealer will simply move onto the next unfortunate soul.

Kanye is not alone in his need for spiritual mentorship, somebody to guide us on a personal level on our walk as Christians.  Sadly, I think that’s something lacking in our churches, and whatever leadership it provides often hasn’t been sufficient to prepare us for spiritual warfare.

In other words, Joel Osteen’s prosperity gospel isn’t going to cut it anymore, at least not in this culture.  Being a Christian isn’t an easy task.  It isn’t “believe in Jesus and all your problems go away.”  It takes hard work and discipline to follow to 10 Commandments, to not give into temptation, to free yourself of the material desires this world brings and commit yourself to serving Jesus.  And with the trajectory we’re on, it’s only going to get harder in the coming days.  Thus, if we are to truly live out our lives as the Christians we claim to be, it’s imperative we surround ourselves with righteous individuals and seek the council of elders who have walked this life and can provide the wisdom to endure.

It’s heartbreaking watching somebody get used, abused, and fall the way Kanye West has, especially considering how vocal he’s been with his faith as of late.  Not only is it heartbreaking, but terrifying.  It’s terrifying because his decent into darkness is something that can not only happen to us, but most likely has happened to us in some point in our lives.  On some level, we’ve given into temptations, disobeyed our Lord, and paid a steep price for it, and will eventually pay the steepest price of all… death.  And seeing Kanye with a mask over his face, a symbol of hopelessness, and saying the things he said is a stark and dark reminder of how serious the struggle, the same one Jacob had many millennia ago, really is.

Except that mask isn’t our symbol, and it doesn’t have to be Kanye’s either.  Our symbol is the cross, the symbol of hope, the reminder how Jesus walked the Earth as a man, facing the same emotions, the same struggles as all of us.  In fact, his struggles were greater than ours, considering how he was given the task of sacrificing and placing upon himself the entire sin of humanity.  He struggled so much so that at one point he actually began to sweat blood, and the last time I checked, I don’t recall anybody so stressed out that they literally sweat blood.

But as a man, he answered that call.  He was beaten, tortured, mocked, humiliated, and eventually nailed to a cross to die.  And at the end of it all, after his friends—his disciples had abandoned all hope, he rose from the grave, conquering death, and conquering Satan once and for all.  Not only did He set the example to how to live your life, but He saved us from the eternal damnation we all deserve, and that includes Mr. Kanye West.

I hope that Kanye remembers this, and I pray he receives the spiritual guidance he desperately needs; not just for his sake, but for everyone else’s as well, for all of us need that same spiritual guidance during these times.

Photo by Yannick Pulver on Unsplash

Coming Out Christian

It’s been a long time since I’ve written a blog post.  Over a year, in fact.  And though there are many reasons why, I’d love to say it mostly had to do with life simply getting in the way.  While it’s true that life suddenly became busier once I became a father and moved to Greece, that’s not the complete story.  There is a deeper, not so convenient reason.

The primary reason for my silence is because I have been a coward.

Years ago, I asked a friend to read my a few of my posts and create a painting based on them.  It was part of an experiment on my part, for though I wasn’t an artist like he was, I had my own ideas of what grizzlychadams.com would look like as a painting.  I imagined an enraged head exploding much like what is shown on the warheads candy packaging with visuals of all my grievances and tribulations spreading across the canvass.  I was curious to see how much, if at all, our visions differed from each other.  This is what he drew.

Two faces, one smiling, one frowning, with the phrase “GOIN THROUGH THE MOTIONS” written above and below it (the black is a little hard to see, but it’s there).

At first, I didn’t think much of it other than how interesting it was that he interpreted my blog in such a unique way.  But several years later, I look at this with astonishment, and with an unnerving feeling of how accurate he was.  It forced me to look deep within myself and pony up to reality, however inconvenient it may be… that for most of my adult life I have been going through the motions… at work, with relationships, and most frightening of all, in my faith.

Being a Christian was easy when I was growing up.  I lived in a fairly conservative community where there was no threat of persecution for stating your Christian values.  Naturally, with little reason to believe I, or any of us for that matter would ever be attacked, I didn’t take my study of scripture seriously, and when the time came, I was left not knowing how to defend it.  This isn’t necessarily a knock on our parents, pastors, or any of the other authority figures who raised our generation, and in some respects, I feel we owe them some gratitude.  I feel so blessed to have grown up in the 80’s and 90’s, a time when it was still generally safe to let kids play outside unsupervised, where the biggest political issue of our time was pro-Sega vs. Pro-Nintendo (and believe me, battle lines were drawn) and counter-culture entities like The Simpson, Beavis and Butthead and the Alternative Rock movement were deemed “edgy.”

…Gosh, what I would give to go back to such an innocent time… 

And call me sheltered, but I got the sense that even through our differences, most Americans agreed on a higher level that first and foremost we lived in a society that not only revered God and Country, but saw both as forces for good.  I found this culture to be enjoyable and optimistic, and in it, I was comfortable.

And therein lies the problem.  Comfort.

With comfort came complacency, which followed a lack of preparedness for what it took to live out my faith.  Starting with college and expanding beyond, I was exposed to ideas that contradicted what I was taught and didn’t have good answers for.  While living in an unsupervised environment I was faced with a plethora of temptations, many of which I succumbed to.  I even dealt with my fair share of heartbreak, and over time, these events contributed to a descent into nihilism much like a frog slowly being acclimated to boiling water.  Throughout it all, I still claimed I had faith, yet it was only on a superficial level, for my actions were in direct disobedience to what the creator I claimed to worship commanded. Even worse, I did so with an unrepentant heart, and that nihilism started to morph into a form of narcissism.  I didn’t obey God, for I worshipped myself and followed my own desires.  In essence, I became my own god.

Then 2020 happened.

Don’t get me wrong, there were a few reality checks along the way that swayed me back in the right direction, if ever so slightly, but nothing like the smack in the face that was the year 2020.  Within an instant, it was as if the entire world began crumbling before us.  Beginning with the pandemic, each passing day seemed to bring a new crisis.  Lockdowns, toilet paper shortage, mask mandates, George Floyd, riots in the streets, election integrity, January 6th, vaccine mandates, and we were barely into 2021.  The list goes on and on, with each week adding something even crazier than the week before.  I can only imagine if Billy Joel wrote “We Didn’t Start the Fire” today.  It would take a double album just to make the last 30 months fit.

This was no ordinary blitzkrieg, for even the beleaguered quarterback taking sack after sack with little time to catch his breath before the next pounding knows that at some point, the play clock will turn zero and the game will be over.  These attacks kept coming with no play clock, no timeouts, and no signs of stopping.  This was spiritual warfare.  Warfare that I was ill-equipped for.

Eventually, I tapped out.

I turned off social media, not for noble reasons, but because I could no longer handle it.  I hid myself from much of the world, believing if I kept my head down and kept a low profile, the spirit of the age would just pass me by without any trouble, that I didn’t have to be involved in any of this.  And sure, at the onset, like many of us I was caught flat-footed, so understandably, I did what I was told.  But as 15 days turned to months, and the months started closing in on years, I was still wearing my mask, both literally and figuratively.  I was still going through the motions.

“But I couldn’t question anything or else I’d be cancelled!”  Oh, how I wish that narrative was true, for what better excuse would there be to remain inactive.  But that’s not the case.  I didn’t even attempt to question.  No, the sad truth is, I was too much of a chicken even to find out.

For what if I did?  Would I lose friends?  Might I lose an argument and look like a fool in public?  Would I lose favor with those whom for some reason, I was so desperately trying to reach and seek approval from?  Would my past sins come out to haunt me if I spoke up?  Might I lose that book deal I imagined was going to magically come to fruition if only I stayed quiet and did nothing for just a little longer?

The longer this went on, the harder it was for me to accept that this was my fate, or any of our fates, to just be a cog in the machine doing the same motion day after day until we dropped dead.  The answer was yes, and yes to all.  Yes, if I went down this route, I’d be confronted—forced to give up my idols, the ones I had be clamoring to my whole life, the ones that were spiritually draining, of which the devil was more than happy to keep feeding me.  That was his plan, and so far, it was working out pretty well for him.  But not for me.

I wouldn’t accept that.  I couldn’t.  Deep in my soul there was a tugging, an urge to change course, to draw from a different source other than the cesspool that had long ago been corrupted by a degenerate culture.  Did I know what to do?  Not quite, but I knew where to look.  I turned to a place I knew that had answers, a place that had assisted people like me, and frankly, people more righteous than me for two millennia.  For the first time in my life, I read the entire bible, something I should’ve done decades ago.  And as it turns out, history has a tendency to repeat itself.

I don’t remember the reason, but out of all the books in the bible and all the logical starting points, I chose to read Jeremiah first.  As a profit, Jeremiah was tasked with warning the Jewish people that the Southern Kingdom of Judah (the only one left at this time for the Northern Kingdom, Israel, had fallen to the Assyrians a few generations before) was about to fall.  Judah had been committing several atrocities ranging from idol worship to even child sacrifice.  During this time, they had received bountiful mercy and plenty of chances to repent, but you can only turn your back on God for so long.  God’s judgement was imminent with an impending invasion of the Babylonians, and invade they did, just as Jeremiah prophesized.

Now, we may not be offering our children up as sacrifices to Molech, but if we take a serious look at ourselves as a nation, with the amount of support for unfettered abortion access and the rising insistence that we push transgenderism onto children, we aren’t that far off.  And sorry, the rest of us aren’t off the hook even if we publicly state we don’t believe in that sort of stuff.  That’s just the tip of the iceberg.  We have plenty of idols and overall wickedness in our lives of which we stubbornly fail to correct, and believe me, I certainly have my fair share of course correcting to do. So, when I look at the last 30 months, it wasn’t just a wake-up call.  It was a warning shot across the brow.

It was a stark reminder that in fact we are in the midst of an ongoing battle against the forces of good and evil, and that we’re not allowed to be neutral.  For by staying silent, we aid the side of evil.  It’s also a reminder of his mercy, that even with the last 30 months of which our utter disobedience has been on display, we still have a shot of redemption.  We can repent and change our ways.  We can still be saved… I can be saved, whether it be in this life or the afterlife.  And we need more Jeremiah’s out there willing to speak up, even when it seems that nobody is listening.

The thought of mortality runs through my head more often than I’d like to admit these days, and each day I grow older, the more prevalent it gets.  Yes, death is a very real concept I think about; and add in the threat of nuclear war being thrown around lately or whatever the next ingredient of turmoil to be stirred into the pot next week will be coupled with the fact that I’m at the sunset of my 30’s, it becomes harder for me to ignore that fact that someday, my spirit will leave this place.  And on that day, what am I going to say when I come face to face with my creator?  How will I answer to him, not just the sins in my life, but for my inability to do good when given the chance?  It scares me, for if I’m being honest, I’m not sure I like the answers to those questions.

I’d be foolish to act as though I have the answers, not just to those questions, but to also get us out of the mess we’re in.  Perhaps it’s too late for that, but even if that’s so, I’m still alive, I still have a voice, and because I’m still here by His grace, I’m still commanded to serve and obey Him.  Ultimately, this means I’m no longer allowed to stay silent, and though there is much more to say than can fit in one post, I know where to start.  I can start by boldly proclaiming my faith.

I am a Christian.  I believe in the God of Abraham and Moses.  I believe in the Holy Trinity, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and I accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior.  I believe he died on the cross, was buried, rose from the dead, and walked out of that tomb like a boss.  That because He conquered death, I don’t have to live in fear, not even in the face of death, for He has promised me paradise.  That through Him, I can speak the truth and no longer have to be silent in the face of evil.

I’ve made many mistakes in my life.  I’ve spent way too much time indulged in drunkenness, which led to precious years wasted.  Like many men, I’ve fallen prey to lustful thoughts and desires, and lacked the self-control to not act upon them.  I put myself and my idols above my God and let my pride get in the way of doing what was right.  I have been selfish, I have used people, and I’ve allowed my anger to get the best of me, time and time again.  To sum it up, I have not lived up to His standard, and because of this, I deserve death.  And even as I write this, I know I will still fail several times over.  I will fall short of His glory and will need to ask for forgiveness time and time again.

BUT… because He, Jesus, God in the flesh who lived a perfect life free of sin, took on all my guilt, shame, and sin upon himself when they nailed him to the cross, I know I have been saved.  That I have the opportunity to spend eternity with Him in paradise.  So, the least… the very least I can do is to obey him, to be courageous in my convictions, and serve him accordingly.

In closing, I always meant for grizzlychadams.com to be a fun, satirical medium for me to express myself.  I’ve used it as a creative outlet to take the absurd, self-imposed stresses and 1st world problems of my life and spin it in a way that brings joy and laughter to people.  Often, however, it was being used more as an escape.  This isn’t necessarily bad in moderation, but given the times of which we live, I think I’m being called into a different direction, a calling I can no longer escape from.

I pray for a day when I can resume the Grizzly Chadams tradition, or at least find a good balance to provide that humorous escape I envisioned it to be.  But for now, it needs a bit of a revision, for I am declaring that I will no longer go through the motions of this life.  After all, doing so would not be honoring my God.

The Bachelor is Bull Crap!

Part of being married is learning to compromise.  And since that day we said “yes” nearly 2 years ago, we’ve made our fair share of em’.  And because we live in the exorbitant real estate market of Washington DC where I have a better chance of finding the Ark of the Covenant than building a man cave, I’ve learned to accept… er, I mean, appreciate some of my wife’s favorite TV shows.

And… now that we’re about to enter year 2 of the pandemic (15 days to flatten the curve my butt!), it just so happens that I can now recite the entire cast of every Real Housewives show on Bravo Channel nearly to heart.  Not a fact I’m proud of, but merely a survival mechanism to keep my sanity intact.

Well, it’s a new year, and now it seems that the wife’s interests have turned to another show, this one much more sinister than that time Sonja Morgan got hammered and stomped on the glass table at Ramona’s birthday party on RHONY (and believe me, I have plans to talk about that s*** show in the future).

Yes, for the next few months, we will be watching “The Bachelor” every Monday night…  Yippee.

Ughz. Give me a freaking break…

First off, whoever this Bachelor is (Matt whatever), is boring as a dried-up pile of dog crap in the middle of the Gobi Desert.  Monotone, no personality, and a complete moron.  But apparently, that doesn’t matter to these group of babes, who all think they’re in love with a dude they met just a couple days ago.  So, he’s kind of a hunk.  Who cares?!?!  He literally just stands there like a dingus, and he becomes “the one” to these women.  Total bull crap!

Now that we’re a few episodes in, he has to “address” the girls about a “toxic” situation in the house where some girls are talking crap about the others.  A little backstory: during one of the previous episodes, out of nowhere, 5 new girls showed up and got to be on the show, and the girls who were there were a little butt hurt about it.  Now, putting my feelings about this terrible show aside, I can actually sympathize with the OG’s.  It would be like if I were running a mile race, and after the first lap, another group of dudes got to start the race from there with fresh legs.  Hell yea, I’d be pissed!  And not just pissed, but talkin’ smack as well, because that’s what people do when they’re put in an unfair situation.  It’s uh… HUMAN NATURE!

But apparently, this point doesn’t quite get through to our “Bachelor.”

So, there was some huffing and puffing, and one of the old girls said one of the new girls was a ho or prostitute or whatever, so he goes and lectures all of them and gives one of those “this type of behavior won’t be tolerated” types of speeches.  Ok, fine and dandy.  They have a rose ceremony, he kicks a couple of the babes off, all of which act like they’re sad and hug him except for the one they call Queen Victoria, who essentially tells him to F off (and hey, more power to her), and then they all go on their merry way.

BUT… then, after lecturing this group of hotties about the toxic environment they’ve established in the house, he goes on a couple dates with these girls, and makes out with like 5 of them THE VERY NEXT DAY!!!  And believe me, when I say 5, I’m being very generous to this guy, because it’s probably closer to 10.  Think about that.  This dude has the cahones to reprimand a group of girls who would move heaven and Earth just to get into his pants, then turns right around and starts smoochin’ all of them in front of everybody.  Now, alls I know is, if when my wife and I were dating and she saw me smoochin’ with another girl, I’d be in big, BIG trouble (and just for the record, that never ever happened)!  And he just openly starts smackin’ on all these girls in front of them?  Man, the balls on this guy…

If this were an 80’s John Hughes movie, this dude would be the ultimate teen douche bag that we’d all be rooting against.  And the sad part is, even though most of these girls are dumb as hell by the fact that they signed up for this show thinking they’d fall in love, there’s actually a good girl or two, like the little deaf girl who seems like she’s actually really sweet who has to put up with this guy and all his games.  How much you want to bet there’s an Anthony Michael Hall type back at home whose heart is being ripped to shreds watching this undeserving a-hole toy with his one, true love?

And don’t get me started when he goes on these one on one dates and they talk about their “insecurities,” along with all the struggles they’ve had in their lives.  First off, these girls are in the 1% on the hotness scale for babes.  And then, he joins in the action, as if he can relate to their hard-knock life as the hottest girl at their high-school.

It’s like, dude… you’re on a TV show where you get paid to live at a resort and make out with a bunch of girls who are all competing over your nut sack.  You can take all your insecurities and shove em’ right up you’re a**!

Now, some may say I’m being a little harsh on the Bachelor.  And you would be correct.  Yes, to summarize, I am criticizing a no-personality, monotone douche bag who dates multiple women at a time, makes out with them in the open, and leads them on to believe they are the one for him, only to have their hearts eventually broken.  Then, on top of all that, he has the nerve to lecture the women he’s dating about creating “toxic” environments for being put in unfair situations, like he’s the ultimate arbiter for morality? Screw that!!!

And how does we reward such degenerate behavior?  With copious amounts of money and the entire country wanting a piece of the action, of course!

My prediction for The Bachelor, the girl he picks actually is a prostitute and he gets herpes… at least I hope that’s what happens…  But given my luck, he’s probably going to pick the deaf girl, but then screw her over by cheating on her later.

Something Awesome in a Time of Distress

Photo by Álvaro Serrano on Unsplash

I’m going to have to apologize in advance everybody, but I’m going to have to break character a little bit here.

My wife and I have had a few people reach out to us the past couple of days to make sure we’re ok, since we live in the DC/Maryland/Virginia Metro area (DMV).  For those of you those who did reach out or were concerned, thank you for reaching out, and just so everybody knows, we are completely fine.  In fact, as we were preoccupied with newborn tasks through the day, we didn’t even know that anything was happening last Wednesday until we received text messages from friends and family.  And luckily for us, though we live relatively close to the capitol/mall area in DC (I often run through there at least once a week on one of my runs), protests, riots, and the such never seem to spill out into our neighborhood.  That was the same with the riots that spurred from the George Floyd protests, for when all the other neighborhoods around us were boarded up, ours was surprisingly untouched.  Or, in the words of the great Buzz McAllister, we live on the most boring street in the DMV, where nothing even remotely dangerous, will ever happened.  Period!

That being said, I’ve struggled on how to respond to what happened occurred this last week and whether I should use the Grizzly Chadams as a means to respond.  After all, this blog has always been used as an outlet for me, an escape from the stresses of the world, and hopefully in the process of all that, I’m able to put a smile on a few faces with some lighthearted humor and occasional sentimental words.  But I’ve questioned, as I often did over the summer when other sorts of craziness was happening, whether or not it was appropriate to proceed in such a manner.  Besides, how do you address something like this?  I don’t like what happened at the Capitol at all.  I don’t think any reasonable American does, and I really don’t like how 4 Americans lost their lives over this.  Yet, I can’t lie to myself and say I didn’t share the sentiment of most of those who were protesting (key word, most, not all).  After all, it’s our elected officials who have been the source of much of the misery that’s been imposed on us over the last few months, years, decades—however long you want to go back (there are plenty of examples).  And possibly the saddest part about the whole thing is that, yet again, those up on Capitol Hill received a convenient excuse to demagogue and ignore the inconvenient problems their elected to address, all at the expense of the American people.

The more I wrestled with the chaos surrounding the country and my bleak outlook on it, the more I struggled internally to write, for it’s hard even for old Grizzly Chadams to keep it going at times, as if it’s my duty to give people answers that I don’t have, and aren’t qualified to provide.  But then, as I was lying in bed last night, festering about the spirit of the age, up popped a much-needed Instagram notification, “stoolpresidente is live with aaronrodgers12.”  As curiosity struck and I clicked on it, sending me to a split Screen of my boy Aaron Rodgers and Dave Portnoy, or “El Presidente” of Barstool Sports.  The conversation was relatively quick and simple, yet effective, and the result was something that lifted my spirits, as if it were a small glimmer of light that could possibly guide us out of the darkness.  It was something worth sharing.

Can somebody say, MVP of the World?

For those of you not familiar with Barstool, to put it simply, it’s a sports news website that’s a bit unorthodox from the mainstream.  With their “Smokescreen of the day” posts and unregulated use of curse words in their articles, it’s definitely not something you would promote in the church bulletin.  Yet, there’s an honest, unfiltered approach to the site that attracts visitors.  It’s genuine, relatable, and you get a feeling the writers aren’t some elite ESPN analysts, but regular sports fans you would see at your local sports bar (hence the name, Barstool Sports), simply talking and writing about the things they’re passionate about.  And Judging by his “emergency press conferences” of which he rants about topics near and dear to him such as his disdain for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, it’s easy to see that Founder Dave Portnoy lives with that passion day in and day out.  One of his more recent rants revolved around the Coronavirus policies, how it’s been affecting small business, and how the government isn’t doing its part to help those businesses they forced to shut down or restrict due to the pandemic.

Eventually, he decided it was up to him to do something, putting his money where his mouth was and setting up the fund to help these small businesses on the precipice of shutting down for good provide enough money to stay afloat.  And since then, many have gotten involved, the most recent being Aaron Rodgers yesterday with his pledge of $500,000, of which I watched in real time.  To see the conversation, click here.

As a Packer fan, I swelled with pride upon seeing this.  Then, I was humbled.  2020 was a tough year, one that forced us to cancel our honeymoon, prevented me from attending the funeral of one of my greatest childhood mentors, and hasn’t allowed my family to meet my newborn son.  And by the looks of it, 2021 isn’t going to get better anytime soon.  Yet, we still had our blessings.  We were still employed and still receiving paychecks while others were forced to, by no fault of their own, watch their savings accounts drain just go keep their businesses afloat.  And despite the misfortunes we had felt, ours were miniscule compared to those.

So, when I woke up this morning, I logged onto my computer and donated $1,000 dollars myself to the fund.

I don’t say this to brag about my contribution, for if it came down to it, I could always give more.  But when I looked at a company like Barstool, imagine that it doesn’t have a lot in common with a lot of the businesses it helps, or even the people that are contributing to the fund.  Hell, I’m sure there’s a lot of people that are on the opposite side of the aisle from me that have contributed as well.  But that’s what’s great about it.  Barstool, El Presidente, and others saw the struggles of these entrepreneurs.  They saw a need, and instead of waiting around, complaining and waiting for somebody to do something about it, they stepped up and took it upon themselves to act.  They are making differences in people’s lives, not in a week, not in a month, but today, and to me, that’s a beautiful thing… beautiful and inspiring.

We often look to others, whether it be our friends, neighbors, bosses, congress, the president, or even the government as a whole to fix the problems in our lives.  Occasionally, they come through, but it’s usually not in the way we’d expect, and more often than not, we get let down time and time again.  So, maybe the answer isn’t with them.  Maybe it’s with us?  Maybe it’s us taking action instead of waiting for others to act.  Maybe that’s what Mr. El Presidinte finally realized when he started the Barstool Sports Fund.

And maybe we can do the same.

So, If you’re reading this, and if you’re in a position that you can help, then I would encourage you to act and make a donation, although if your hearts not in it, action doesn’t have to be in a donation to the Barstool Sports Fund (though I believe it’s a great cause for these times, and you can find the link to contribute here).  It can be for a good charity of your choice, or in the direct support of a local business in your city. Or we can volunteer our time and resources to needs in our communities, much like my mom did when she joined Embrace Grace, a group that provides assistance to single mother’s.

The point is, there are endless ways we can make an impact, so let’s challenge not just our friends and neighbors, but ourselves to act, and maybe we can find it within ourselves make a difference in our communities.

I hope in the future, I can continue the tradition of silliness that Grizzly Chadams is accustomed to, such as talking about my love for McRibs or the pristine conditions of the bathrooms in Jimmy John’s.  But we live in trying times, and unfortunately, more trials and tribulations may be on the horizon, possibly worse than what we’ve seen already.  Admittedly I don’t know the answers to the problems we face today, and I won’t pretend otherwise.  But based on the feeling I got from watching the Bad Man make that pledge last night, I would say things like the Barstool Sports fund are good places to start looking.  And if we look hard enough, we kind find more of those small glimmers of light, a piece of hope to give us inspiration, to give us the will to act, and to help us find our way out of the dark place we find ourselves in.

Let’s start with seeking out the truth, let’s seek out those glimmers of light, and let’s take it upon ourselves to act.

The Significance of a Birthday

Well, looks like Grizzly Chadams finally grew up a little bit and became a papa bear. To say the least, it’s been quite an adventure getting to this point, and having this been our first child, my wife and I had different thoughts as to how the birth would go.

She had it in her head that induction and labor would go a little like this:

While I certainly had my expectations…

Warning: Explicit Material

But 36 hours after the induction, this is pretty much what we got:

But low and behold, eventually a baby came out of the womb.  And thanks to the nurses’ orders, good ol’ Grizzly Chadams got a front row seat for the entire ordeal.  With that came several emotions, the first of which being, “Jesus Christ!  That’s a giant baby!”  I mean, I could see the top of the head, then all of a sudden, “WHAM!”  Out came the rest of the body!  “How in the world did that thing fit inside my wife’s body?!” Even she swore that by the end of it, the aftermath of his birth was going to look a little something like this…

I couldn’t resist!!!

Sorry, a little graphic, I know, but that’s what inevitably comes to mind after 3 hours of active pushing!

It didn’t take long however for a sense of fear strike through me.  Right from the get go, I expected to hear a crying baby, just like the ones you see in the movies, something along the lines of a “Hey, what the hell, man?  I liked it in there!  Put me back!”

What I got instead was complete silence.  The doctor’s sudden decision to deviate from my originally planned cord cutting duties was also cause for concern, coupled with the group of nurses hovering over the intensive care station, ready for action.  And I’m sure in one of those “new parent” classes, they told me the baby would have a bit of a deformed head when it came out.  But of course I forgot about that, and naturally, I panicked!

We were told during the whole process that the baby had Billy’s Ruben or something of the sort, and that he immediately needed to be placed on oxygen among other treatments.  Now, I won’t like, upon first hearing this, I was a bit impressed.  The fact that he snatched this guy Billy’s Ruben Sandwich had me swelling with pride.  Right out of the womb and he’s already got the upper hand.  “That’s my boy!” I wanted to shout.  “Way to go little Z!”

Then, it got me all irascible.  Like, “What the hell, Billy?  What’s a grown ass man doing leaving such a fine cuisine out within snatching distance from a little baby boy?”

After further consultation from the doctor, it turns out that there was no Ruben sandwich, and apparently, it has nothing to do with a guy named Billy.  Wikipedia may have had some answers, and a quick internet search revealed that it’s actually called “bilirubin” for some reason. I tried looking into it a bit more, but there was just too much scientific mumbo jumbo for me to make the connection (they talk about all these different chemical bonds and stuff, and you know I barely made it out of Organic Chemistry alive!).  I’m just glad the little guy got out of it safe and sound.

But in those few of moments fear and confusion, where the health of my baby was in question, I was overcome with grief, if only for a moment.  “What happens if he doesn’t pull through?” I thought.  “All the work the doctors put in, the machinery to monitor my wife’s and baby’s status, the drugs to relieve the pain of child birth, the equipment required to induce labor, all the work my wife put in, the 36 hours of labor and 9 months of pregnancy and sacrifice that was made on her part all in preparation for this day…  What if it was all for nothing?”

I got to think that because of his innate Grizzly bloodline, he pulled through with flying colors.  But once the chaos settled, I was struck with a revelation.  Up until then, a birthday was an excuse to party and an opportunity to score on some awesome presents (i.e. Nintendo 64 at 12 years old… I’ll never forget that one), along with a few milestones along the way.  Age 13, you become a teenager and start getting hair in weird places.  Age 16, you’re legally allowed to drive.  Age 21, it becomes socially acceptable to drink alcohol, and so on and so on.

The moment I saw that baby in the flesh for the first time though, everything changed.

You see, we all started where he did, just a little human entering this enormous world, scared, confused, and utterly helpless.  The smartest minds that had ever blessed this Earth, Einstein, Sir Isaac Newton, and Nikola Tesla, to history’s most renowned artists, Michelangelo, Shakespeare, and Mozart… all of them were in his exact position at one point in their lives… and all of em’ had a level playing field.  Michael Jordan and my boy Aaron Rodgers?  Those guys were babies once, small and feeble just like him before they became the greatest sports heroes of all time.  And let us not forget all those great figures in American History who changed the world… George Washington, Honest Abe, Martin Luther King…  Yep, they were all babies too.

And what about my man Kanye Freaking West, aka the greatest of them all?!?!  He was there, cryin’, and burpin’, and poopin’ in his pants just like the rest of us!  He had to go through the same ordeal, develop from a helpless infant with no means of self-support into the greatest of all time!

At one point in time, they were all just like my son.  And just like them, he has a chance to change the world.

And how wonderful it is that we take time to remember that once each year?  To remember the miracle of life and the blessing that occurred on the day of his birth?  It turns out that a birthday is, and has always been, a much more significant day than I had ever realized, more so than I could have ever have imagined before the birth of my son.

And it was during that moment of respite in the hospital, after the silence and the scary thought that all had been lost, when I realized the opportunity before me.  As his father, I have an amazing opportunity to shape him into the best person he can be.  I get to watch him learn how to crawl, walk, talk, throw a football, do a kickflip on a skateboard, and grow into a man.  And together, we get the opportunity to celebrate that all of that, year after year.

So, to my newborn son, I leave you with this…

Your birthday:

It is a day of remembrance.  A day to reflect on nine months spent inside your mother’s womb.  It is a day to remember the nurturing, hard work, and sacrifice that took place, all in preparation for your delivery.  The hours spent in pain and labor, risking one’s life to ensure the sanctity of another.  A day to remember, after all the anguish, discomfort, and sleep deprivation, the overwhelming joy of seeing your face for the very first time.

It is a day of triumph.  That against all odds, you developed from a few cells into the person you are today.  It is a reminder, a living example of the miracle of life.

It is a day of reflection.  We reflect on your greatest successes, the lessons you’ve learned from your mistakes, and the times you fell, only to pick yourself back up again and continue the fight.  We reflect on the person you’ve become, the progress you’ve made, and the endless opportunities ahead of you.

It is a time to remember that on that day, the world would be forever changed.

Your birthday… the day you entered the world.  The day you forever changed our lives.  A day of intense pain and depleted energy, exerted for the sole purpose of giving you life… a day to remember it was all worth it.

So, for that, we celebrate.  Because above all things, the day of your birth is one worth celebrating.

Happy Birthday Zander Travis Andrews, born December 29th, 2020.  We look forward to celebrating several times in the years to come.

The 4th of July is Still Pretty Rad

Let’s face it.  This year’s 4th isn’t going to live up to some of the 4th’s in the past (and believe me, I’ve had some good ones).

Best view in town!

Stupid Coronavirus (thanks a lot, China).

Well, let’s just say I’m lucky I got out of those 4th’s with all my fingers attached.

But aside from the Rona, I suppose there’s been some recent events that have gotten people a little riled up. I’ve even heard of some talk about canceling the 4th of July this year.  On the surface, I oppose of this, my main reason being that the 4th always seemed to be the epicenter of summer.  When I was a kid, it was a time where neighbors got together and celebrated, where people were generally happy, and where there was always a sense of unity among us.  And when I got older, it was an excuse to party and act foolish (all in the name of America).  But throughout it all, it was like we were all proud to be Americans, at least for one day.  And at the very end, there was always a kick ass fireworks show to be seen.

But now as an adult, I suppose it’s time to put away the illegal fireworks and actually have an honest critique as to why we celebrate the 4th, especially since many of my brethren have been doing the same and coming to different conclusions.  Is America really the greatest country that’s ever stood on the face of this Earth, or are we a country full of racists, a-holes, and systemic oppressors?  It may take a little context to completely understand.

Back in ol’ 1776, we had a bunch of colonialists livin’ life and doing their thing, able to enjoy what could be a peaceful life.  But apparently, they were also pissed off about a few things.  Taxation without representation, being forced to house soldiers, having to deal with crap judges and injustice, and long list of other grievances (read all about em’ here).  Now, most of these dudes were rich white guys who had privileges, and could’ve very well lived out their lives continuing to be rich and privileged, even if it meant putting up with some BS from time to time.  But from the looks of it, they believed in something more.  They saw what was going on around them and said, “this ain’t right, I don’t care who you are.”  So, Tom Jefferson and a couple other dudes were all, “naw, we’ve had enough,” and wrote a Declaration of Independence, then John Hancock (not Herbie), Sam Adams, Ben Franklin and a few other cats signed their names on it and then slapped it on King George’s desk.

In summary they said, “America.  It’s our country.  Change my mind.”  End of story, right?  Well, not so fast.  For in a world of privileged men, King George, perhaps the most privileged of all, wasn’t so used to not getting his way.  Turns out, they had to fight the British Army in order to get what they want.

Though we learned about the Revolutionary War in school, I don’t think the textbooks really do the justice these guys deserve.  I mean, just think of the balls on these guys for a minute.  For them to say, “Ok, this protesting and Boston Tea Party stuff is child’s play.  You and me Britain.  Anything goes cage match.  Right here, right now,” and to call out the most powerful country in the word to a title match.  Like, as soon as they signed that declaration and shipped it off to King George, they knew there was no turning back.  If they didn’t follow through, those guys would be royally screwed (no pun intended)!

To put it into perspective, let’s assume that Antifa were actually fighting a “fascist” government, followed through with a revolution, declared their independence and told the United States to “give me everything you got.”  Chances are, they’d get their asses handed to them pretty damn quick.  And looking at your average Antifa member, I don’t think they’d have the cahones to go toe to toe with a Marine if it came down to it.  But the founding fathers did exactly that, and they won.  They were willing to risk their lives, livelihood, and essentially put all their chips on the table, all for a belief that all men were created equal, that they were entitled to the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as endowed by our creator.  And being that I’m among the beneficiaries of great men who did give their lives for the cause, hell, I’ll take a day to remember and drink to that!

And best part?  After all the ass kicking was said and done and George Washington had the chance to be king, he was all, “naw, this belongs to the people.”  He straight up turned it down!  Tell me another man who would ever do that?  Maybe John Cena… maybe, but I can’t think of many others outside of that.  A true bad ass there, and we haven’t even gotten to all the war stories, like crossing the Delaware in the dead of winter with his soldiers wearing burlap sacks as shoes, exiting battle with bullet holes all over his coat, and having two of his horses shot out from under him, then still getting back up to finish the fight.  We’re talking Undertaker vs. Mankind Hell in a Cell level of badassery, times 10!

Still the greatest WWE match of all time IMHO

Now, I understand the men of that time weren’t perfect, and there were evils of their time that hadn’t been dealt with, most notably slavery.  To delve into the details of the contrasting views of slave owners versus abolitionists and the overall sentiment on this issue among the colonies would probably require a lot more research and another couple blog posts to make sure I get all the facts in line.  And let’s not forget some of the other issues that hadn’t been settled, such as Native American relations and the right for women to vote, but I believe there was an understanding amongst the founding fathers that there was more work to be done, and they laid out the groundwork in the constitution to ensure future generations could strive to create that more perfect union.

That’s an important phrase, a more perfect union.  God knows I am nowhere near perfect, much like my ancestors before me, and I bet you someday, our grandkids are going to look back at us and be all, “grandpa, what the hell?”  My initial response would be to smack some sense into them, but it brings forward a solid point.  We’re always changing, trying to be better than the generation before us.  It’s why honest Abe and hundreds of thousands of others fought and died to end slavery.  It’s why MLK led the March on Washington for civil rights, or why our grandfathers fought against the Nazi’s in World War II.  They all had their faults, and if your grandparents were anything like mine, I’m sure you’d agree that they were a little rough around the edges and not the most politically correct of folks.  But they had an appreciation of the sacrifices previous generations had made, made sacrifices themselves, and were called to continue the fight, to make it better for the next generation, and the ones after.

So, if you’ve been feeling a little down about America lately, just think about this for a minute.  What those guys pulled off back in 1776 was nothing short of miraculous.  To set up a government stating off the bat, “guess what Karen, I can say what I want, when I want, and there’s nothing you can do about it,” was pretty G.  To allow people to own guns and start a militia… whether you think it was the stupidest or most brilliant move ever, you gotta admit, they certainly put their money where their mouth was.  And trusting the people to make decisions as to how to live their lives?  Hell, I don’t even trust my ol’ buddy Ben Woodward to follow through on eating hot wings with me, and I’ve known that kid for years!

I gotta hand it to those founders, they took some huge risks and fought their asses off, and thank God they did, because it paid off tenfold!  Because of the American experiment, I’ve been able to enjoy planes, trains, and automobiles, FaceTime and Instagram, McRibs, Forrest Gump, Nintendo 64, NASA, and a million other things I don’t deserve and would never have the ability to create.  I’ve had the privilege of a comfortable lifestyle, thanks to the sacrifices of my parents, ancestors, and the blessings of American ingenuity, most of which I take for granted in my day to day life.  And chances are, to some degree, you have too.  And it all started with a couple guys in Philadelphia, writing a giant “F*** YOU” to King George the 3rd.

So to me, that’s a good enough reason to crack open a can of Bud, blast some Kid Rock, and shoot off a few fireworks while screaming “Merica!” every year.  At the same time, we can recognize the fact that there’s still a lot of work to do in order to make that more perfect union they talked of.  It’s a reminder that it’s up to us to put in the hard work and sacrifice to make it happen.  After all, they fought, sacrificed, and died to give us the tools to do so.  I just hope that when it comes time for me to act and do the right thing, I’ll have half the courage they did back in 1776.

Cheers, and happy birthday America!

My Top 10 Retro Video Game Tracks, Part 2

This is a continuation from my previous post, when I went through songs 6 through 10. If you’d like to read about them and why I chose them, see part 1 here. Otherwise, here’s a quick recap:

10. Street Fighter II – Guile’s Theme, SNES
9. The Legend of Zelda – Opening Theme, NES
8. Maniac Mansion – Dave’s Theme, NES
7. Star Tropics – Sub-C Sailing Theme, NES
6. Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball – Gameplay Theme, SNES

Now, without further ado, here are songs 1 through 5:

5. Sonic the Hedgehog – Starlight Zone, Sega Genesis

In the second half of the 80’s, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was king.  If you were a kid and didn’t have one, then I think there’s a strong case that your parents should’ve been charged with child abuse.

Then, along came the Sega Genesis.

It was hip. It was fast.  And upon seeing the first commercial with the old hag complaining about the 16-bit graphics in the 1st Grade, it was all me and my friends were talking about.  Man, oh man did we go ballistic when we saw Sonic fly across the screen!

Nintendo would eventually have to step it games up, but until then, Sonic was here, and he came with an attitude.  And although the Sega Genesis wasn’t exactly known for its great music, the original Sonic the Hedgehog had a great score full of memorable hooks to accompany our blue hedgehog friend through each zone, my favorite being the theme for Starlight Zone.

Set in the backdrop of a starry-lit city and with the final battle of Dr. Robotnik looming, Starlight Zone acts as the last glimpse of a cheerful experience with our likeable blue mascot before the hard part begins.  The music sets the mood perfectly, a throwback to the first time I set foot in a big city and witnessed the magnificence of busy streets, flashing lights and skyscrapers.  It brings back that wondrous feeling of living life in the moment, knowing there’s no other place you’d rather be, even with all the surrounding chaos.

Starlight Zone Theme from Sonic the Hedgehog

It’s a shame that it all has to end at some point.  But eventually, we all must move on.  We all must face our fears at some point to confront our greatest foes, whether it be a round psychopathic doctor or having the courage to ask that babe out on a date.  At some point in our life, we all much step up to the plate to do what we were meant to do.  But as we strive for that point, we can still enjoy the moment that is around us.

Starlight Zone Gameplay

4. Chrono Trigger – Guardia Castle Theme, SNES

Trust me, the game is way better than its cover art suggests

So, funny story about this game.  I was at a party once over Thanksgiving break during college at my buddy’s place when his roommate’s Super Nintendo got busted out among a group of friends.  The usual hits were brought out, and of course, I crushed it on Super Mario World.  Near the end of the night however, I shuffled through a couple of the titles when I came across one that peaked my interest.

“Hey, Chrono Trigger,” I said to my amazement, having feasted my eyes upon one of the most coveted games of the SNES.  “That’s supposed to be one of the best RPGs!”

“Oh yea,” replied the roommate, who for the record, was a good dude and a person I really liked, but was also at that moment plastered beyond belief.  So, for obvious reasons, I’m leaving a few names out of the equation.  “Do you want to borrow it,” he asked.

I couldn’t believe my ears.  Me?  Borrow Chrono Trigger?  This was the gold standard of role playing games, and undoubtedly the most critically acclaimed RPG of all time, even more so than Final Fantasy VII!  On top of that, it was one of the rarest!  But it was wrong of me to borrow it, to take advantage of a guy blitzed out of his mind who had no freaking clue of the treasure of which he was sitting on.  “Thanks, but I can’t borrow this from you.  It just wouldn’t be right—“

“Ah dude, go ahead!  Take it, and just bring it back whenever.”

“Are you sure it’s cool?  I mean, we’re talking Chrono Trigger here.”

“Trust me,” he replied, slurs and all.  “You’re a good guy.  I know you’ll bring it back when you’re done.” 

Approximately 15 years later, that game still remains in my possession.

Just to give you an idea of how much this game is worth. The instructions alone are going for almost 70 bucks!

Over the next several weeks, I played the crap out of that game.  It definitely lived up to the hype, and then some.  I couldn’t stop playing it, even in the wake of finals coming up.  The tight battle mechanics, the balance of characters, the amount of detail the game developers put into creating a story that naturally mends several different time periods, it’s no wonder that many consider Chrono Trigger to be the greatest RPG of all time.  And of course, as was the case with many RPG’s of that era, the music was on point throughout.

Though the game had its score of compelling pieces, if I had to single out one, it would be the Guardia Castle Theme, where Meryl, the “female interest” gets sent back in time only to discover that she’s been mistaken as a princess, and the protagonist, Chrono is in danger of losing his life.  It’s a great blend of excitement, tension, running, and I love the trumpets that fill in some of the choral elements of the song.  It really sucks you in the moment of a medieval quest and provides a sense of urgency to your actions.

Guardia Castle Theme

There are many more reasons why Chrono Trigger is considered to be such a masterpiece of a game.  A large part of that involves its versatile and engaging story, the fact that even the simplest of decisions you make throughout the game actually have consequences that play out in significant ways, leading to several different endings and even the permanent death of the main character if the player is not careful.

If you have the time, the retrospective above helps explain in more detail as to why Chrono Trigger is considered one of the greatest RPGs

But even with all those elements, the story wouldn’t be as memorable without a wonderful score to accompany it along the way.

The wind song is also a classic from the game as well

3. Mega Man 3 – Opening Theme, NES

My father and I bonded over Mega Man 2.  We knew that game like the back of our hands.  Day in and day out, Bubble Man’s theme repeated itself inside our head worse than Disneyland’s “It’s a small world.”  We could breeze through Flash Man’s stage with our eyes closed, even with the slippery surfaces.  The first boss level where you fight the dragon and that crazy jump you can only make with the Item-1 upgrade?  Easy.  Quick Man’s stage still sucked, but at least his music was awesome!  Just name the stage and we could start humming the theme song to you right off the top of my head, no problem.

Then came the sequel: Mega Man 3.  Nintendo Power Magazine had been buzzing for months about Snake Man, Magnet Man and the rest of the new robot masters, giving us plenty of time to studying their weaknesses and strategizing our attack plan.  And what about the enigmatic, whistling… Proto Man???  Talk about an overload of anticipation, way too much for a typical 5-year-old to handle!  And as my dad returned from work that Friday in late 1990 with the rented cartridge in hand, my heart was already pounding.  This was it, the moment we had been waiting for.  “How would it hold up to Mega Man 2?”  We were about to find out.

There was nothing special about the title screen.  In fact, it was fairly basic as far as games are concerned.  But even with all the hype built up over the past several months, I couldn’t bring myself to press the start button.  The music had a cool, captivating tone at the onset of the opening credits that furtively transitioned into a bit of a mysterious mood the moment the words “MEGA MAN 3” appeared on the screen.  It was as if the game was asking us, “are you sure you’re ready for this?”  I thought I was, but for the moment… maybe not.  So I stalled and listened, and little by little, the melody grew in complexity, the tone turned darker, all in a build-up into the final hook…

All of a sudden, “BAM!” It hit me in the face with your textbook Mega Man style, to say, “Oh yea!  This is what you wanted?  This is what you’re getting!  I was pumped, and I was ready for another round of blue, 8-bit badassery!

Mega Man 3 Opening

From that moment, I knew Mega Man 3 would live up to the worthiness of its predecessor.  And if you ask most critics, they would agree in saying Mega Man 2 was the most critically acclaimed and overall favorite of the bunch.  But there was always an enigma with 3 that captivated me, an unknown, yet familiar landscape that was both comforting and challenging at the same time (not to mention the kick-ass opening theme song), making it my favorite Mega Man of the series.

And if classical music is your cup of tea, this is an awesome rendition of the classics from Mega Man series

2. Final Fantasy VI – Terra’s Theme, SNES

If I were to mention the name John Williams to you, most of you would instantly recognize him as one of the most famous composers in the world.  But what about Nobuo Uematsu?  “Nobu.. who,” you ask?  He happens to be one of the greatest composers in gaming history, a true pioneer of his craft, and the genius behind the music of the Final Fantasy series.

One thing I find fascinating about him is the amount of work and dedication that he put into creating a score for games in an era where these types of compositions were unheard of. After all, we aren’t talking about a silly Mario Brothers jingle; these are 3 hour sets that have been played with orchestras many times over. Even for those who aren’t avid gamers, it’s easy to appreciate the Final Fantasy games, not just from a musical standpoint, but from their story-telling and by the emotional connection they’re able to make with a player (don’t tell me you didn’t cry when you watched Aerith die in Final Fantasy VII). It’s one of the reasons why so many have come to love the series and have invested so much time into them. Final Fantasy really broke the mold into making a game something more, something that inspired gamers to be greater, and out of all the Final Fantasies, I think VI (otherwise known as III in the United States, but that’s a long story) was the most impactful in my life.

It was the first time I had seen a video game of such depth in its story and with such a diverse group of characters, whose personalities shined throughout the game, some of which you really grew attached to.  There was Locke, the “treasure hunter” who would brush off any mention of his true profession as a thief, Cyan, the noble swordsman, Gau with his awesome, primitive theme music from The Veldt, and my personal favorite, Sabin with his Blitz abilities, all with well-rooted backstories.  And if I’m talking about characters, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Kefka, the psychotic and sinister villain who fancies himself a God, even going so far as to poison an entire kingdom of people!  Heck, to tell you how much detail they put into the music and story of the game, there’s even a part in the game where you participate in an opera!  And for the grand finale, you’re rewarded with a nearly 20 minute epic for the final battle!

Though the game is filled with amazing songs, I believe the most memorable would have to be Terra’s theme that runs throughout the game, starting with the opening sequence where she and two Magitek armored soldiers march into the city of Narshe to find an esper with magical powers. 

Final Fantasy VI Opening Sequence

“Wait, who’s Terra?”  She’s a half-human half esper with magical abilities.  “Wait, what’s an esper?”  A magical being from another realm.  “What about all this Magitek Armor?”  Well, at this point, I would just recommend you play the game to find out.  But in all, her theme expertly encapsulates the mood of our protagonist, somebody who doesn’t quite understand her abilities and the magnitude of her skills, as well as the players themselves.   There’s a reluctance about her, like many of us who have been thrust into situations we didn’t ask to be in and who don’t quite understand the potential we have within ourselves to be great.  But every now and then, we feel called to act, possibly out of necessity, but also because we have to press forward… because it’s the right thing to do.  Thus, she embarks on her adventure, not quite sure what of peril she’s walking towards, and we are with her every step of the way with a song helps us understand her plight.

Terra’s Theme from Final Fantasy VI

1. Donkey Kong Country 2, Diddy’s Kong Quest – Sticklebrush Symphony, SNES

Donkey Kong Country hit the Super Nintendo by storm.  The 3D renderings pushed the SNES to the limits of its processing capabilities, and not only did it become a breakout hit, but an instant classic for the SNES, cementing its place as one of the all-time great consoles.  As we talked big hype about Sonic in the early 90’s, by the mid 90’s, Nintendo had taken back the crown with Donkey Kong Country.  And as a Sega Genesis loyalist, I too had to eventually succumb to the greatness of the SNES, as hard as it was for me to do so.

However, as great as Donkey Kong Country was, it’s hype wouldn’t last forever, for around the corner was the 32-bit era and the advent of 3D environments, lead by the all-powerful Sony Playstation.  By the time Donkey Kong Country 2 came out, it seemed as though the SNES was on its last leg.  There were no further leaps in graphical capabilities to be made like we had seen with the first Donkey Kong Country.  The system had been pushed to its limits, and it was nearing the time for Nintendo to retire the SNES and make way for the next generation of consoles.  It was something my friend Matt and I didn’t seem ready for.

It was late January and the year was 1996.  While everybody was watching the Super Bowl that afternoon, we had a different motive.  As two kids about to make the transition into Jr. High, we knew our lives were changing.  Soon, things like girls and sports would occupy our minds over Super Nintendo and other aging video game consoles.  But in a way, we were like the famous quarterback Uncle Rico, knowing his best days were behind him, yet still holding on to that vestige of a dream.  That realization was hammered into us once we heard the Sticklebrush Symphony in the Bramble Blast level of Donkey Kong Country 2.

I’m not sure how or why they came up with such a melancholy composition for a level where you barrel blast your way through a briar patch, but not only does it work beautifully, you almost forget about the dangerous thorns surrounding you due to the poignancy of the song.  It was the very first time I experienced the feeling of nostalgia, that longing for the days of old, when things were simpler, where we didn’t have to worry about the complexity of three dimensions or the ever-changing culture and environments of not just the video game world, but of a kid in transition into a teenager.  In that moment, while I was playing through that level and the rest of the world was fixated on a football game, I wanted nothing more than to have that moment of battling the Robot Masters of Mega Man 2 once again with my father, or exploring the islands and caverns of Star Tropics and finally beating the alien nemesis Zoda for the first time.  Although I could (and would) replay those games, the feeling would never be the same as when I first engaged them.

Bramble Blast Gameplay

While we make new memories, we never quite get those moments back, a comfort that lies in the past that isn’t quite guaranteed for the future.  And that’s what Donkey Kong Country 2’s Sticklebrush Symphony represents; that feeling I receive looking back at the games I used to play, a throwback to the 8 and 16-bit eras of gaming.  All the songs mentioned above and so many more bring back the nostalgia, the joy of being a kid fulling engaged in a game with not a care in the world except for conquering the next boss in our way, and Sticklebrush Symphony is the ultimate tribute to the greatness of that time period and to the game developers, composers, and pioneers of that era.  It’s why it remains my all-time favorite.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but I have a feeling they don’t make video game music the way they used to.  There was an art to the simplicity, a repeditiveness that was appealing and comforting.  The sense of adventure it brought made games more than just a game, but an avenue to feed our sense of imagine, to explore the limits of our creative minds.

Video game music will never quite get the credit it deserves.  You’d certainly never hear any of them being played on the radio or receive a Grammy or any other major award.  But perhaps, that’s what makes them so good.  They’re special to those of us who grew up with them as if they’re a part of us as it is a part of the game, and as gamers, I don’t think we’d have it any other way.

My Top 10 Retro Video Game Tracks, Part 1

Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash
Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

Now that we’re into our 4th week of quarantine, or is it the 5th… 6th?  Man, I don’t even know any more.  All I know is, I’m running out of things to do.  So, it might just be time to bust out the old Nintendo once again.  That is, as long as find time between the Real Housewives of New York (aka, RHONY) and Beverly Hills.


But whenever I do manage to pick up the controller, nostalgia hits me in three different forms.

  1. An intense amount of rage, frustration, and cursing re-emerges.
  2. The obsessive/compulsive side of me awakens to turn me into an unstable psychopath.
  3. I’m brought back to sanity by the sweet and soothing sound of NES music.

The music in video games is a vastly underappreciated fragment of American society.  Sing the first jingle of the Super Mario Brothers theme and the person next to you will instantaneously recognize it.  Whether it’s Tetris, Zelda, or Street Fighter, those 8-bit melodies have been ingrained in their heads.  It’s quite clever, provided the limitations of sound quality, and these retro-era composers don’t get anywhere near amount of credit they deserve.

Having grown up in the throngs of the 8 and 16-bit eras of gaming, I know first-hand how well these tunes add to the mood and tone of any setting.  Any avid gamer remembers the moment you finally get to the boss in a level and suddenly, the music turns to a grimmer, edgier, and more frantic.  Your heart begins to beat rapidly, your concentration level peaks, and you sit up in your chair to lean into the TV, as in, “this ain’t a game no more.  Time to get down to business!”

With such influence on my childhood making me into the man I am today, I couldn’t go without paying tribute to some of my favorite video game tunes from the retro era.  Thus, here are a few of my favorites from Grizzly Chadams’ years of young.

Part of the reason why these are my favorite are the personal connection I had to each of the games. I remember details of my childhood, where I was, how it made me feel, and the stories behind playing them. And knowing there are a lot of great soundtracks out there from games I haven’t spent the appropriate time playing, and there are many others of which you may have had your own personal connections with, please chime in with some of your favorites. I just hope you are able to enjoy a few the stories behind mine.

10. Street Fighter II – Guile’s Theme

This was probably the hardest one to choose, knowing that there would be so many other games that I’d have to leave out.  Classics like the Castlevania series, Contra, Ducktails, or the entire Super Mario World medley all had great tracks, but eventually, I had to make a cutoff, and before I change my mind once again, I’m going with Street Fighter II.

I’m not sure there was a kid who wasn’t obsessed with Street Fighter II in the 90’s.  But thanks to Mortal Kombat, (a much inferior game for a multitude of reasons, but that would require an entirely separate blog), parents were a little uptight about games that revolve around committing acts of violence upon others.  So, when one of us were lucky enough to get our hands on a copy of the game, we cherished the experience to its fullest extent, for there was no guarantee as to when our next chance to play it would be.

In a way, the enigma of playing such a game “banned” by the parentals added to the entire experience, but that’s not what made Street Fighter II great.  Not only were the fighting mechanics crisp and balanced, but the amount of detail that was put into each character, from fighting style and personality to stage layout and character theme music really solidified the game as the gold standard of the fighting genre.  Getting to try out all the characters added to the entire experience, for there was genuine respect for each one (except for Sagat, who was extremely cheap.  His stage was the worst!).

That laugh still pisses me off!

And although Ryu was always (and still is) my favorite character, I think Guile wins the award for the most iconic stage in the game.  The military setting with the fighter jet in the background combined with the pro-America theme song makes you believe that as soon as Guile’s is done sonic booming you into a crate, he’s going to hop in that plane and ride off to kick some M. Bison ass!

The full version of Guile’s theme song

Overall, Guile’s stage and theme song fully represents what makes Street Fighter II the all-time classic it is.

9. The Legend of Zelda, Opening Theme

With most games, there’s always a little bit of a wait before you got to the title screen.  They may roll in with some developers credits and a second or two of black screen, a chance to ease in before you press start.  Not the case with the original Zelda for the NES.

As soon as you press the power button on your Nintendo, “THE LEGEND OF ZELDA” with its iconic waterfall background pierces your eyes and the theme song blasts you in the face.  It’s only there for a moment, as the colors quickly fade as if it suddenly turned to nightfall and a tombish rhythm beats on to tell you the backstory, the threat of Gannon, and how it’s up to you to save princess Zelda.

As a 4-year-old seeing this for the first time at my grandparents’ house, I was petrified at the daunting task ahead of me.  “What happens if I fail?  I don’t want to die…”  Yet, I was much too intrigued to look away… too invested to turn back.  Princess Zelda needed my help, and there was no way I was letting her down.  So, I pressed start, and the adventure did not disappoint.

Simple and to the point, there isn’t an intro that makes quite the impression as The Legend of Zelda does, not even 34 years later.

8. Maniac Mansion

Almost considered a hidden gem of the NES, you play as Dave, an all-around cool dude who must sneak into a mansion to save Sandy, his babe of a girlfriend being held captive by a mad scientist under the spell of an evil meteor!  In order to pull off his diabolical plan, Dave, being the cool guy he is, solicits the help of two friends chosen amongst a group of eccentric teens with various skills to help you break into the house and solve a plethora of puzzles in the mansion and get to Sandy.

But wait?  How do you know Dave is such a cool guy?  By his theme song, of course.

You see, each kid is equipped with a CD player that repeats a tune that conveniently mirrors their personality.  Bernard, the nerd and frankly, most skilled of the group, has a clunky, almost robotic theme while Razor, the leader of her own punk rock band, has as you would expect, a sharp and driving melody the likes of which would send you into the mosh pit.  While all the kid’s themes add to the gameplay to keep the action fresh, Dave’s is hands the best one.  It’s a cool beat, not to heavy, not too mellow, just a rockin’ tune to keep you cruising through the mansion, closer to your goal of saving your girl.

7. Star Tropics, Sub-C theme

The year was 1991.  My dad had just moved us from Mississippi to start a new life and for the moment, we were homeless.  So I, along with my mom, dad, and two sisters lived out of a motel in Lewiston, Idaho.  All my friends were gone.  The land around me was strange and my family’s stress level was rising, but I was not deterred.  I was focused.  I was determined.  And after a year of practice, pain, and trial and error, I had finally delivered the final blow to defeat the evil alien Zoda. In that double queen bed room at the Sacajawea Motor Inn, I had beaten Star Tropics.  It was undoubtedly the best day of my 5-year-old life.

Anybody who grew up in the 8-bit area knows how much more gratifying it was to beat a game back then than it is today, but that’s another blog for another time.  Having spent 20% of my life up to that point devoted to it, I quickly developed a lot of great memories playing Star Tropics, easily making it my all-time favorite game for the NES.  It’s unique mix of adventure style gameplay with puzzles that naturally blend with the game’s environment was like nothing that had been seen before, and something that hasn’t been recreated since.  And out of all the different parts of the game, nothing takes me back to the feeling I had as a kid quite like hoping into “Sub-C” and hearing the theme song.

The original

Sub-C is a submarine-like vehicle, your means of hopping from island to island in the game, where the real adventures await. And that’s what the song truly encompasses, the feeling of starting a new adventure, the exhilaration behind it and the intrigue of not knowing what monsters you’ll run into along the way. I love the tropical setting the game immerses you in. It’s a world that’s colorful and inviting, yet full of peril and excitement, for you never know what type of quest each village chief will send you on to help his island people, and what monster await. And each time you hop into Sub-C, it’s off to another village, off to another adventure, and off to more fun.

A little Star Tropics Gameplay with the Sub-C Theme Song

To me, Star Tropics is a masterpiece of a game, one that I don’t think ever got the amount of credit it deserved.  I was so glad to see that it made it into the NES Classic so others could experience its greatness.

6. Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball

It all started on a Spring Cub Scout outing in the 4th Grade.  I can’t exactly remember the reason all the Cub Scout Den Leaders met at Alex Barkley’s house on that Saturday, but what I do remember is that Alex had a new Super Nintendo game—Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball.

Me, I wasn’t too high on sports games, for games with adventure/fantasy aspects that escaped the rules of the real world always seemed more appealing.  However, because they dared to bend reality just ever so slightly, there were a few sports titles that I was drawn to such as NFL Blitz and NBA Jam.  Ken Griffey Jr. was one of those games, and as Seattle Mariners fans, we had to play.

Now, I don’t mean to brag or anything, but that afternoon, I was whooping up on all the kids, including Alex himself!  And believe me, nothing was more devastating than having a friend beat you at your own game, especially with the entire Cub Scout troop watching.  Well, Alex didn’t take kindly too such a thrashing, and thus began a 20+ year feud between us.

There are many things that make this game the classic it is.  It’s simple controls, though they may take years to master, are easy to pick up.  It has subtle humor sprinkled throughout and its fast pace helps keep the action fresh.  But perhaps its most overlooked aspect is the running theme song that keeps playing throughout the course of a match.  Blending in common themes from a Major League Baseball game that utilize the potential of the Super Nintendo’s soundboard, the soundtrack is driving, it keeps the tension up, and it reminds you not to let your guard down, for a game can turn at any point.  Simply put, it’s never over till it’s over, a lesson both Alex and I have learned many times over.  No matter how many times it repeats itself, the song never gets old, and you can always count on it to get you into the mood for some good old fashioned baseball.

A little gameplay action to get you into the mood

As we went from grade school, to jr. high and high school, we continued to play, and I would win each time, of course.  But Alex practiced, and practice some more.  Eventually, he got better, and the matches became closer and closer, until one day… he actually beat me.

I couldn’t believe it.  Out of the entire history of our feud, it had to be an anomaly!  But a few months later, we played again, and sure enough, he won again, and the next time… and the time after that.  It was official.  He had taken the Ken Griffey Jr. crown, and there was nothing I could do about it.  And for the next several years, well into our adult lives, I did not beat him.  Alex had developed a respectable win streak, that is, until my bachelor party…

After what could be described as an eventful weekend in Vegas with a solid crew, Alex and I were the last ones left standing.  Our bags were packed, and there was less than an hour before we had to check out of our room. “You up for one more game of Griffey,” asked Alex, having strategically brought his SNES classic with him so we could have a match or two. I was a bit reluctant, for I had just been embarrassed with a loss in front of the likes of Austin Moody, Josh Ulrich, and Mike Masters the night before, resulting in a lost bet in which I was forced to drink copious amounts of alcohol against my will.  However, I out of honor and respect, I could not say no.

I grabbed the controller, hunkered into position, my eyes narrowed and my postured leaned towards the TV, and as the Major League soundtrack started playing, I locked into focus, vowing that this would be the day the streak ends.  My pitches were strategic and effective at producing outs, but so were his.  Every time I escaped an inning without allowing him a run, he’d return the favor and deny me the pleasure of scoring.  We went back and forth in a defensive clinic of a game that went into extra innings.  But that morning, one of the lasts as a bachelor, I did it.  It took nearly a perfectly pitched game, but in stunning fashion, I had once again beaten the champion with a score of 2-1.

I’ll never forget that day

Now, it may very well be the last time I ever do it, but at least I proved that it could be done, and it won’t ever stop me from trying again in the future.  As the years turn to decades and our families grow, our exhibitions will undoubtedly become less and less frequent.  And much to my chagrin, he’ll probably continue to having the great pleasure of watching me swear and freak out, as is customary with my video game habits.  But even though we live thousands of miles apart, we’ll still find a way to battle.  And we’ll still be rocking out to the killer soundtrack until we turn old and gray.

And each time we play, you can bet your ass the emotions will be just as tense as they were that Saturday in 1994 at the Cub Scout Den Meeting.

Click here for Part 2 of the list.

-Grizzly Chadams

The Jimmy John’s Bathroom is Absolutely Amazing!

Desperate times call for desperate situations, and in a world where TP has become the number one commodity, some people will do anything just to get their hands on a couple rolls.

Not gonna lie, it’s a little scary out there.

Thankfully, we have good people in the TP making business who are busting their essential asses to ensure the rest of us have clean colons at night.  If you see one of those fine people (shout out to my friends at Clearwater Paper), buy them a beer.  Or better yet, buy them several.

Despite their best efforts however, there are still shortages, and if you come across a pack, consider yourself lucky… damn lucky.  And when the day comes where you find yourself suddenly stranded with nothing on the roll, then it’s time for plan B.

Me, I’ve been known to be a public pooper.  I have absolutely no shame in admitting it.  I know some get all freaked out about the proposition, but when it’s go time, I’ll plop my cheeks in a considerable number dwellings, provided it meets the criteria.  And if you just so happen to be at one of these “essential” places and find yourself in a position where you can freshen up between the cheeks, then damn it, you take it like it’s a matter of life or death!

Forget about the current COVID situation for a moment and look at it from an economical perspective.  Every time you plop your cheeks on the potty in public, that’s one less trip you have to make at home and about 55 sheets of TP saved according to the national average (assuming you poo once a day. It’s true! I read it on the internet).  That’s straight-up money in the pocket!  Feeling guilty about upgrading to supersize?  Well don’t, cause you’re about to make that money back in the stall down the hall.  And that’s not the only benefit.  No extra time spent scrubbing or money spent on cleaning supplies—nothing!  In fact, most restaurants pay people to clean those toilets for you.  God bless capitalism!

And listen, I don’t want anybody giving me a hard time for my bathroom habits, for I know damn well that many of you reading this are planning to retire off the money you’ve made sitting on the pot while you’re on the clock.  That is, if you haven’t already.  Some of the greatest professionals out there have made well over 6 figures as chief engineer of the public can, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that I’ve made out like a bandit over the years myself.

That being said, while visiting certain establishments, I do urge you to proceed with caution.  Despite my best compliments and the fact that all public bathrooms are equal, George Orwell said it best… some public bathrooms are more equal than others.

And perhaps, one is most equal of all…


The day started off on a sore spot as I found out for the first time in my 32 years of existence, I would be wearing glasses full time (It’s official. I’m a freakin’ nerd!).  Things didn’t get any better as I felt a wasteful discharge looming the moment I walked out of the doctor’s office.  “Can I make it back to work in time,” I asked myself.  “Negative, Ghost Rider.”  Much to my chagrin, a Sausage McMuffin and Rockstar energy drink isn’t the most compatible combination for your bowels, and considering the walk from the parking lot to the office, that was a risk I wasn’t willing to take.  “What am I going to do?  I’ll never make it in time!”

Driving down the street, an inviting sign caught my eye.  “Jimmy John’s…” 

That was indeed a possibility, and not a bad one at that.  I mean, it’s crazy how quickly they make their subs.  I remember the first time I bought one, it came out so fast, I freaked!  And the fact that it’s a sub meant I could order my food, receive it in a timely fashion, save it for later, then go use the bathroom, all within a matter of minutes!

See, they even say so on the packaging!

“Dude, why don’t you just use the bathroom before you order the food,” you ask?  Excuse me, but you are a guest of theirs.  How would you feel if I came to your house and instead of saying, “hi, how’s it going,” just went straight to the bathroom to pump a grumpy?  Oh, you wouldn’t like that very much?  Surprise, surprise.  Have the decency to make a purchase before you use their services!  Those guys work hard enough as it is making those freaky fast subs!  They don’t need any more anxiety on top of that!  Gosh… no respect.

…Now I lost my train of thought.  Thanks a lot!  Where was I?

Oh yea… So, I had to take a dump, really bad.  Time was of the essence, and if I didn’t act fast, it would be Armageddon in my pants.  “Jimmy John’s… as in, ‘The John’.  Is this a sign?”  Well, quite literally, yes, that was a sign, a big one at that.

There were benefits, after all.  I would finally have the chance to relieve myself, and I would have lunch made and ready to go for later.  The reward far outweighed the risk, a no-brainer if you asked me.  And chances were, being that it was only 10 AM, I wouldn’t even have to wait in line.  So, it was settled.

I went in for the big dirty.

“Hello, I’d like an Italian Nightclub, TBO,” I told the cashier with determination.  He wasted no time with the transaction going straight to work, just the type of go-to attitude I like to see in a young entrepreneur.  The kid was going places, that was for damn sure.

As expected, my sandwich came out freakin’ fast, and so far, everything was being executed to plan.  He even made it TBO, just like I asked.

Time out. You don’t know what TBO means?  If you don’t get TBO, then the mayo makes all the meat slide out of your sandwich when you take a bite and… listen I don’t have time to explain everything.  Just do it.  There are much more important matters to discuss!

TBO – Tear Bread Out.  SMDH… such a rookie.

Sorry, back to the story.  Next stop, the bathroom.  Vacant, the sign said.  Everything was aligning perfectly into place, like it was truly meant to be.  Cautiously, I entered the bathroom.  Here goes nothing…

Now, I don’t recall what I did that day I fell off the rock, and I don’t know when I officially became best friends with Austin Moody, but like the first time Forrest Gump every laid eyes on Jenny, I do remember the first time I set foot in the sweetest, most beautiful public bathroom in the whole wide world…

I couldn’t help but stare… stare in awe while the threat of poopy pants lingered.  I’ve been in a fancy joint with a sparkling bathroom, and believe me, I’ve been in plenty of bathrooms with personality, but very rarely do you see a perfect, aesthetic combination of both.  Heck, I’ll be totally honest, this was the very first time it ever happened!  Any other day, I would’ve stood for hours in wonder, happily crapping myself in the process.  Only the fear of committing a defiling act in such a sacred space led me closer to the toilet.

I hugged the wall, shamelessly observing the many placards that were displayed, a showcase of urination styles depending on personality type.  “They really nailed it on the head here,” I thought to myself, as I saw many of those different traits within myself, and recognized a few other characters as well.

Now that’s hilarious!
I gotta say, there’s a little bit of me in each of these.
I think we’ve all been here after a rough night at the bar…
The Ben Woodward, heheh.

I gotta say, I really like Jimmy’s since of humor!  I bet we’d be best buds if we ever met.  Hopefully someday, we will.

And once I arrived at the golden throne I was quite pleased with the appearance.  The toilet seat was clean, dry, and had no signs of those small, dried puddles of urine you’d often see at your typical bathroom.  Even the better maintained ones seem to miss the mark when it comes to those small driblets.

Observation two: no signs of fecal matter anywhere in sight.  Nothing is more disgusting than walking into a stall only to find somebody had lobbed a grenade, leaving shrapnel splattered across the bowl for the next person to observe.  Good luck flushing that away!  Or even worse, you find the ones where the previous tenant seemed to have wiping issues, as if their sphincter also served as a paper shredder, leaving a giant, unflushable wad of shredded TP in the middle of the bowl.  I never understood how somebody could sleep at night knowing they made a mess of such magnitude for somebody else to clean up.  No kidding, the things I’ve seen over the years have been quite bothersome, so much so that I even wrote a screenplay about it (fyi, if anybody is interested in making a movie, HMU at grizzlychadams@protonmail.com).

Alright, enough with the gory details.  The point is, with no need to fret about the condition of the toilet, I assumed the position to some much-cherished relief, hanging my head in content.  “Boy, I could just sit here for hours, thinking about life, the universe—speaking of the universe, what’s this?”

My feet sat upon a placard of sorts, the type you would see for a dedication, though it was difficult to determine exactly what I was looking at, thanks to my newly impaired eyesight.  “I suppose if I were to have a public toilet dedicated to me, this would be the one, but whatever it is, they must’ve spent some good money on it.  Just look at the quality of that metal!”  It was quite a dedication.  No.. not a dedication, but a list of facts.  Facts about… Uranus?

Reading interesting facts about the planets while you poo, what a novel concept!  Check out some of these facts.  “Uranus is windy and can blow at 450 MPH.”  I had no idea!  Imagine being caught in a Uranus wind storm.  No thanks.  And how about this one, “You would not be able to sit on Uranus because it has such a low density,” which is crazy, because I always assumed that the density of Uranus was quite high!

Imagine being a 4th grader assigned to write a report on a planet of your choice.  Maybe you felt royally screwed with the last pick of the draft after all the other kids went the “cool” planets like Mars or Jupiter, leaving you with Uranus.  What are you going to do?  Then, you happen to drop into your local Jimmy Johns, and viola, your report is laying literally right in front of you!  All that time you would’ve spent doing research can now be spent playing video games!  It doesn’t get any better than that!

It was a bit heartbreaking knowing it was time to clean up the deuce residue.  I feel a little weird saying this, but I was actually enjoying myself, and that’s saying something given how dreadful a trip to the bathroom can be if the conditions aren’t up to standard or if there’s a premature break.  But just like the marriage of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, all good things must come to an end.

I reached for the roll to begin the process of—whoa, what is this?  Double ply all the way… in a public restroom?

Such luxury is unheard of in a fast food joint like this.  But once again, where others like them would be tempted to cut corners, Jimmy John’s has risen to the occasion.  Incredible.

And talk about a powerful flush!  They must have customized those crappers, cause I had never seen so much swirling suction going through a toilet, excluding airplane lavatories, and those things just straight up scare the crap out of me, literally!  No wonder they have no problems with left over debris!

Oh, but I can hear all the environmental wackos already complaining.  “Ughz, what a waste of water!”  I say quite the contrary.  Think of it this way.  On a typical day, I got about a 50/50 chance of leaving skid marks each time I unload on the John.  And as a married man, leaving that type of artwork for your wife is not only unsexy, it simply isn’t an option.  Thus, you find yourself flushing twice, even three times just to get rid of the evidence.  And God forbid you have one of those sissy European toilets that do half flushes.  You’d never survive!

Listen guys, it’s not that hard of a concept.  All I’m saying is make the investment.  Put in quality work the first time, and you won’t have to go back later to fix your mistakes.  You’d be surprised the amount of time, effort, resources, and most importantly, moolah you’ll save.

And no, I did not film the flushing process like many would have liked me to.  Sorry to say, but this is a family friendly blog, and that those types of images have not business being in a post like this!  If you want dirty, immature content, then I’m sorry, but this blog is not the place for you.

Keep it clean, that’s my motto.

“But why didn’t you just flush it again to show us the proof?”  Hey, you know me, I’m not an uptight person by any stretch.  But I can’t justify wasting a perfectly good flush just for the sake of my blog, especially after all that Jimmy Johns has done for me.  It wouldn’t be right, and well below the set of standards grizzlychadams.com upholds to.  So instead, I simply washed my hands and made my way for the door, sandwich in hand.

But I couldn’t let this experience go to waste.  “This deserves proof of sorts… a memory.”  I whipped my camera out.  I had to.  You don’t pass up the chance to capture a pivotal moment in life like this.

Just like the Nikki Minaj song, “I wish that I could have this moment for life…”

My head held high, I walked out of the restaurant with a sense of pride that day.  In my hand was a tasty sandwich and on my face was a permanent smile that not even the likes of Jay Cutler could remove.  I entered my car and drove into work; fully confident I would have a productive day.

And that’s just it.  When it comes down to it, a bathroom experience can make or break your day.  It can be the difference between a job promotion or meeting that goes off the rails.  It amazes me how often this phenomenon goes overlooked in today’s society, considering how often we drop the kids off at the pool.  Something like a clean wipe on the first try or a complete intestinal evacuation can leave you feeling elated, as if you had just received a gift from God.  It’s something very few businesses outside of Jimmy John’s truly appreciate I’ve come to realize.  Simply put, they go above and beyond to make sure your experience lasts, long after you leave the restaurant.

So, in this time of stay at home orders and quarantining, where food delivery is almost a way of life, consider supporting your local Jimmy John’s, if only for the bathrooms alone.  We’ll need them when things get back to normal, cause when you’re in a pinch, they’ll always be there to support you.

Especially at times like these.