Fantasy Football Update

We started this journey talking about the unexplainable “luck” I have when it comes to fantasy football and I’m back to tell you that it hasn’t gotten any better. When I told you guys about the injuries to my best player David Johnson and also to Allen Robinson that was only the first week of fantasy. I still had a sliver of hope for the year. Due to the fact that I am an idiot, I believed that maybe this was the year that everything turned around. I thought that the fantasy gods would see what they did this time and start giving me breaks. To no one’s surprise, except mine, I am the proud owner of the worst team in our league. Seriously, people in my league are complaining that they don’t get to play me cuz its a free win. There was a conversation literally right next to me about how lucky one of them was for playing me twice. Everyone seemed to think it was hilarious but I cried on the inside. It was just a reminder of how much I suck at fantasy football. My bad luck has just gotten worse. One week I lost mainly because my opponents player fell after a couple of yards, got up, and ran 75  yards for a touchdown. Apparently, everyone on the field besides him thought the play was over so when he got up no one stopped him. I have literally never seen that before in my life. The players just let him score because they all hate me. Wanna hear something crazy? It happened to me again two weeks later! My opponents player fell down and everyone just let him score, I couldn’t believe it. I can just picture the fantasy gods sitting around a table, drinking wine, drunk out of their minds, just laughing and the fantasy equivalent of Zeus saying, “look how I can make Harry lose this week!”. I never should have gotten my hopes up. I should have known that losing was inevitable but I won a game early on by pure wizardry and I got excited. I guess I’ll just keep pretending this means I’m gunna win the lotto. Till next chapter in fantasy my friends.

49er’s Fans Can Hope Again

I consider myself a diehard 49er’s fan even after the last couple of years and the blow out yesterday. My family has had season tickets to the niners since 1958. My Pappou had seats at Kezar stadium, then at Candlestick until my father took over those tickets and now we’re at Levis. So I’ve been attending niners games since I was born and I still go every week to watch my 49er’s play (and lose). Throughout my life they have had some ups and downs for sure, the three year span under Jim Harbaugh and the two years where we went 2-14 and 4-12 back to back come to mind. Although there have been worse records and arguably worse play, the lowest I’ve been as a fan were the last couple of years. It started with the release of Jim Harbaugh and the subsequent destruction from the inside by Trent Baalke/Jed York. Our team that had gone deep into the playoffs three years in a row seemed as if it was being systematically dismantled. There was no hope to be found as a niner fan. It felt as if every season was lost before it began because we had Baalke drafting players and York running the team. Leaving our home at Candlestick for Levi’s just compounded the feeling of dread. Instead of real 49er Faithful fans in the seats, there was business people barely dressed in red and gold. It was truly heartbreaking. However, things have changed this year for the better. Jed York finally woke up, fired Baalke, and brought in John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan. They have already changed the culture which was greatly needed since we were the worst culture in the NFL. Now, all of a sudden there is actual hope. It’s crazy to think that an 0-7 team coming off a 30 point loss at home has more hope than the last couple of years but it’s true. As 49er’s fans we can sense that were trending up even though the wins aren’t coming. There are players we can fall in love with now like Reuben Foster, Deforest Buckner (I’ll give Baalke that one), and one of my favorites Trent Taylor who is proving draft analysts wrong. We can trust in Lynch/Shanahan (and even maybe Jed York) to at least create a culture that players want to play in and fans are proud of. This years draft set us in the right direction and I believe next years draft will do the same. Netting Kirk Cousins and Saquon Barkley would help a lot but I do think the niners will be back in the playoffs within a couple years either way. We can only hope I’m right but we’ll take hope over whatever the hell we had the last two years right? Go niners!

Red Rising Review

Often I find myself walking around a Barnes & Noble for an hour picking up random books that catch my eye. I’ll read the back of each book to see if I want to read them and I usually end up with 3-5 books every visit. This is how I found Red Rising by Pierce Brown. The red wing on the cover caught my eye so I picked it up and turned to the back of the book to see it was reviewed as a mix between Game of Thrones and Hungry Games. I’m not gunna lie, once I saw Game of Thrones on it the book was bought already but then I opened the cover to read the description and I had to have it. Red Rising is about a boy named Darrow who lives in an underground community on Mars. Darrow and his family are called Reds and they mine the depths of Mars to help terraform (make livable essentially) the surface for the rest of society to live there. Darrow finds out that his people have unknowingly been living as slaves for hundreds of years and the rest of society has already been living on the surface. Darrow then decides to rebel against the rest of the society. Now, I enjoy most dystopian novels and have read most of the Young Adult novels that everyone has heard about (like The Hunger Games) but Pierce Brown’s series is a cut above them all. From the first page of Red Rising you get hooked. The customs of the mines where Darrow lives are just plain brutal and Pierce Brown brilliantly weaves the setting to the point where you feel as if you’ve been living with the Reds for your whole life. The events that take part in the mines completely surprised me because it seems as if the story will unfold similarly to other dystopian books but it swerves in different directions. Once Darrow begins on his rebellion, Brown effortlessly increases the size of his world, from a small mine to vast space, as Darrow discovers more and more. You never want to leave the Red Rising universe once you’ve immersed yourself in it. I still use words that Brown created in my everyday speech! Although the world is amazing, the thing that sets Red Rising apart for me is the characters, particularly Darrow. The growth that Darrow goes through adds so many depths to his character it is astounding. He doesn’t start out as someone who knows what to do in every situation like other books and main characters. Darrow learns with every impossible situation, sometimes making the right decision but a lot of the time making the wrong one. He is not perfect which in turn makes him perfect. Throughout Red Rising and the rest of the Red Rising series, Darrow consistently battles with the ramifications of his choices because there is no easy route. He is one of my favorite characters I have ever had the pleasure of reading about. One of the characters is the coolest character ever written so just prepare for it (you’ll know who I’m talking about when you read it). If you want to be fully lost in a world that keeps you in it’s grasps long after you’ve put down the book, then Red Rising is the book for you. This whole series is amazing so hurry up and read it, I promise you’ll love it!

Cretan Weekend

Every year at St. Nicholas Ranch in Dunlap CA, we hold a Cretan Weekend for everyone to go to the middle of nowhere, get a break from “real life”, and celebrate our culture. The Ranch, as it’s called among the few blessed to walk it’s grass (or everyone), has basically no service or contact to the outside world. This means there is only three things to do: chill, drink, and eat. At The Ranch this weekend, that is precisely what we did. During the day, we hung around talking and playing catch until things got serious in the annual Cretan Weekend Football Game For The Ages.  It was a back and forth affair between two teams likely to beat any NFL team, especially the 49ers, filled with many rivalries including brothers pitted against brothers. We played for hours, each team scoring in fantastic fashion but only to see the other team score mere seconds later. You had everything from your unlikely heroes, to blood and sweat marking the battleground. Seriously, I cannot explain to you the intensity with which this game between football gods was played if you weren’t there. Most of you weren’t there so you just have to believe me. There was even a Game of Thrones reference and if you know anything about me, I live for Game of Thrones references! Every single time the bell would ring we would all yell “shame”, it was glorious. Unfortunately my team ended up losing the battle and it will haunt me for my whole life. Night time at The Ranch was a great as well. Roughly 200 of us would surround the cooking meat, I’m talking pork belly, ribs, befteki, sausage, and love all cooking right in front of your face throughout the night. We would chill, drink, and eat till 3 or 4 in the morning just enjoying life as Greek people. Some of us even packed in the bed of a truck to go “hunting” rabbits at the lake hoping we could have stifado but never getting a good shot off. The Ranch is always a great place to hangout with your friends and listen to Greek music, play an epic game of football, drink, eat, and ultimately be Greek. I hope to see you all there next year. To The Ranch! Dilly-dilly!

The Struggle to Not Be Fat

I have figured out why I struggle to keep weight off and its something that has been right in front of my face this entire time. I love food too much. I have gone months, even years, on a diet but in the end food lures me back with its deliciousness. A person can only endure so many meals of chicken and rice you know? Imagine you bring your boringly bland chicken and veggies into work fully prepared to eat healthy and lose weight but then you see it out of the corner of your eye, a box of donuts. You proceed to look down at your chicken and suddenly regard it as cat food. Every ounce of your being tries to resist but its utterly impossible, the chocolate covered donut is already in your mouth. I have to deal with this scenario almost everyday at work and I’m lucky if I don’t eat a donut more than two days out of the week. This is just at work though! When I’m out, the fight to not be fat grows harder. There’s an insane amount of good food out there just calling my name, whispering to me. Pizza is literally my kryptonite. I am completely worthless when the pizza surrounds me in a dense smell-field of cheese, meat, (sometimes veggies if I’m trying to be a little healthy) and bread. Honestly a sack of potatoes would be of more help than me with pizza around. One time, while I was watching Game of Thrones, I ate a whole extra large combo to myself. At the time it was amazing but hearing it out loud makes me feel like I’m Jabba the Hutt. I think eating food is like a great adventure. I would rather go to a restaurant and stuff my face for two hours than go out to a club, which is a big problem my friends. When ordering a double whooper with cheese, large fries, a drink, and two dollar menu burgers is your idea of fun something is seriously wrong. I’ve been trying to cut down on the good old nights at the restaurants so wish me luck guys! I guess dreaming of a BBQ Chicken pizza with an egg on top will have to do for now. Damn I’m hungry…

A Review of IT

By now, the majority of people who wanted to watch the latest adaptation of Stephen King’s “IT” have seen it so I thought it would be fun to talk about it, no pun intended (I’ve always wanted to say that). First I want to say that I haven’t seen the other adaptations of Stephen King’s novel in years and I don’t remember much so this discussion is solely about the new movie. With that being said lets begin. I went to see this movie twice so that already tells you that I enjoyed it but the reasons why may be a surprise to those who didn’t check the movie out.  “IT” was advertised everywhere as a scary movie and while it is scary, they focused more on other aspects of the story than any other scary movie I’ve seen. Now, I am one of those weirdos that doesn’t get scared at all in these types of movies but both groups of people I saw this with were hiding (one of my friends was hiding behind his sweatshirt half the damn movie, you know who you are) and jumping throughout the movie so it definitely accomplished that goal. What I loved the most about this movie however, was the dynamic of the group of friends. The kids in “IT” were played by amazing young actors and they were portrayed like actual kids. Sometimes movies will have children characters that are too perfect and can’t really be seen as real, meaning the way they talk and react is more pristine than an actual kid would be. In this movie though, the kids swear up a storm and make hilarious jokes about each others mothers because there are no parents around to hear. Seriously this could be considered a comedy because I was laughing my butt off the entire time. The chemistry of the kids and the focus put on their relationships was amazing. Each kids individual fears were explained and for most of them, the fears made perfect sense. We even got scenes that had no other goal but to show the kids enjoying their summer vacation. It was refreshing to watch a scary movie actually take time to slow it down a bit and build it’s characters. Aside from the kids, another star of the movie was Pennywise the Dancing Clown played by Bill Skarsgård. Pennywise was creepy as hell I’m not gunna lie. I know I said I don’t get scared but there was one scene in a bathroom that made me jump out of my seat. His voice and the way he moved gave me goosebumps a couple of times. The clown was definitely the scariest part of the movie. The one problem I have with “IT’ is that Pennywise wasn’t in the movie as much as I would have wanted. It would have been much more scary if he was utilized more. That being said, that was really the only issue I had with the movie it was that good. On a scale of 1-Game Of Thrones it was a solid 2 which means it was fantastic. If you haven’t already seen it go check out Stephen King’s “IT”, you won’t be disappointed.

I Hate Fantasy Sports

I don’t enjoy gambling like my friends do. Call me crazy, but losing a bunch of money just doesn’t seem fun to me. The one act of gambling I do participate in, however, is Fantasy sports. This is when you and your friends create a league and usually have an entrance fee to get in. You then precede to draft players and pit your teams against each other till there is a champion. I don’t really know why I still play fantasy sports since I inevitably lose every year. Maybe I like the “fantastic” feeling of losing every week due to the worst luck imaginable which I will now document here for you. It all started when we decided to play Fantasy Basketball. I had the first pick in the draft so of course I picked Lebron James. Throughout the season Lebron carried me from victory to victory with relative ease. Then more of the same happened in the playoffs as my team cruised to the championship. This is when Lebron James, for the first and last time, announced he would sit out the final two weeks of the season. My team got destroyed in the championship and I lost hundreds of dollars in the process. You might say, “that’s just a bad coincidence it doesn’t mean you have bad luck”, but it gets worse, much worse. We moved on to the real deal, Fantasy Football. My first inclination that my bad luck would continue was when I was winning a matchup by one point with my kicker to go and my opponent had no one playing. For anyone else this is a guaranteed win, but not for Harry. My kicker ended up missing a couple of kicks to go for a whopping -2 points and hand me a loss. There have been so many instances such as this one throughout my Fantasy Football career that my friends have an on-going joke about my unluckiness. It was all fun and games until people started getting hurt. That’s right, it literally became dangerous to be drafted by me. I almost ruined tight end Jordan Reeds football career. I drafted him for the first time one year and he kept getting injured. He is a great player so the next year I drafted him once again. This time my luck was forcing him to get concussion after concussion so I dropped him for his own good. The year after that he was having an amazing season so I made the terrible decision to trade for him and what happens as soon as he’s on my team? He gets ANOTHER concussion and I felt so bad that I dropped him again. Since then he has enjoyed a wonderful career unhampered by being on my team. By now your undoubtedly thinking, “how on Gods green earth can this possibly get any worse?”.  Well, my friends, I just suffered a week straight out of Game of Thrones. I drafted the best player in Fantasy Football (David Johnson) this year with the number one pick and what do you know, he gets hurt in the first game of the year and wont be back for four months. Isn’t that just wonderful! Another one of my players is gone for the year and I apologize to both David Johnson and Allen Robinson for drafting them. These events aren’t coincidences, this is the work of the Fantasy gods who enjoy to watch me cry. Now I’m starting to figure out that I hate Fantasy Football because as I said before, there is no fun in throwing away money. At this point all I can do is laugh as my friends, to their extreme delight, take my money and my happiness. Hey, maybe this all means I’ll win the lotto some day, who knows.

Rather Be Greek Than Anything Else

I am not writing to bash other cultures but instead to explain why mine is so amazing. I am a Greek American who is extremely proud of my heritage. Being Greek is one of the most important facets of who I am and I wouldn’t have it any other way. First off, our illustrious History is second to none. From actual events to Greek mythology, the stories of our past helped shape our world today. Even our recent history is full of memorable events like the fact that the island of Crete withstood Germany for two weeks during WWII while full countries lasted mere days. Aside from our History however, there are a multitude of other reasons why I write this. Growing up Greek is something you have to experience to truly know but Greek school and church are where I spent most of my time. For what seems like my entire life I have been participating in massive gatherings of Greeks to celebrate our traditions. At these events, like FDF (Folk Dance Festival as I know it) and the Cretan confrences, hundreds of Greeks get together to enjoy the songs and dances everyone was taught as a child at dance practice and by Yiayia and Pappou at home. These places have helped shape me and I cannot express how thankful I am to have gone to them. I met friends there that will be my family forever. Our language is yet another reason I love being Greek. The words are just so beautiful and convey so much more emotion than other languages. If you listen to a Mitropanos song then you’ll know what I mean. Don’t even get me started on the food though. There is nothing better than a Gyro in Greece at 4 AM to fuel up for the rest of the night (besides Game of Thrones!). Pastichio, souzoukakia, bougatsa, makaronia me kima, and everything else in between, my mouth is literally watering at the thought of the delicious food that Greeks have perfected. These are just a few of the hundreds of reasons to be proud of being Greek but instead of reading about it you should go out and experience it yourself. There truly is no substitute for being Greek.

Why books are better than movies.

I love everything about books, from the feel of the hardcover in my hands to the smell of a brand new book, but the real reason is the magic within the pages. Where else can you be immersed into the mind of a main character and taken to places your imagination couldn’t even conjure? Sure, film and television can recreate some of that magic but its not the same. Look at all the film adaptations of books. For Gods sake there are people out there that don’t like Game Of Thrones (the single greatest accomplishment of mankind, just kidding but you could make an argument!) solely because it doesn’t have the same magic that the books did. For the most part, movies can’t provide as much description as a book does. The way the words transport you from your bed to the world in the pages is unlike any other sensation. I often get lost in this world and emerge hours later, completely forgetting where I am. When the story gets crazy I start to sweat, when it gets sad I start to cry (yes I cry… a lot), and when it ends I cant stop thinking about it for weeks. I still remember the moment I read (spoiler alert) the death of Sirius Black in Harry Potter. I slowly closed the book, got my bike, and rode around the block with tears in my eyes trying to assess life without him. A book did that and that’s why I am writing to fight for books over movies, among other reasons of course. Books have a special place in my heart for their ability to bring the stories I love to life in my mind and if you aren’t an avid book reader then you are missing out on some of the magic in life.