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Dragonstone - Chapter 25

Chapter 24
Prologue - Book 2
I hate the ocean.
Ships are great creaking wooden monstrosities that barely hold themselves together on a vast open space of cold water just waiting to drag the crew to watery graves. I’ve worked in shipyards to gather information and I know what the shipbuilders are like. Half of them are too drunk to be anywhere near a hammer or hot tar and now I’ve put my life in their hands. Their hands and the crew that hurries about this sleek sailing vessel.
At least I have been gifted a skilled captain and crew.
Captain Flynt is something of a legend on these waves. Rumor is she’s been sailing since she was in her teens and Captaining a ship for at least ten years now. She is what one might call an ‘odd duck’ but she is an excellent ship’s captain and better still with a sword. The Leviathan is a famous ship and that has been of use to me.
Four years ago I was assigned to her, a ship is perfect cover to travel from seaport to seaport and perfect cover to be about the many districts of those cities. Captain Flynt is one of the last loyalist assets that remains, and likely the the most secretive. A privateer of sorts, no one has ever questioned her loyalty to the continent, as long as they have the crowns to pay her.
I cannot be sure of too much, but I can be sure that Captain Flynt is not suspect to the current Emperor.
I know this because Captain Flynt holds a commission from Emperor Adamicz to hunt pirates and raiders for an annual fee, providing she meets some basic quotas that have never been a challenge to her. Captain Flynt runs a crew of more than forty on this sleek ship, enough space to take on legitimate cargo contracts or smuggle some goods, enough weapons to take down enemy ships, it’s a perfect floating headquarters for two spies.
Except for the part where it’s on the ocean.
Leviathan cuts through the waves at the hands of a practiced crew and without any help from me, not unusual. Lanterns cast a strange light in the darkness, the crew on watch ready to douse them at a moment’s notice and make us an eerie ghost ship.
“Spy.” Captain Flynt says, appearing silently beside me at the rail. “Don’t throw up on my deck.”
“One time, Rhi, one damned time I throw up on your deck and that was three years ago! During a storm!”
“Made a mess.” She says, staring out over the waves. “Why am I hunting Niles von Krescher?”
“He has a prisoner that we have to liberate.” I say.
“You’ve said.” She says, looking at the dark water that stretches before us in a moonless night. I can handle the gentle waves, like these. “But who is it, this prisoner that matters so much?”
“I don’t know. I just know that whoever it is, they matter.” I say, watching her face. She is unreadable, as always. She just grunts at me. We stand together in the darkness for a while, it’s pleasant enough.
“Beautiful.” I say, breaking the silence.
“Aren’t you kind.” She says, without a smile or even hint of a joke.
“The water. In a terrible, awful, the very depths of death sort of way. Not you. Well, I mean, you too but…you’re an ass.” I tell her, she’s always doing this sort of shit and I don’t have the patience for it. If she would crack a smile it would make it easier.
“Well now you’re just being cruel.” She says. “How long have we sailed together, Ashur? Four years?”
“Just a boy when they sent you to me, no? Fourteen? Fifteen?”
“You know why they sent you to me?” She asks, leaning against the railing and turning toward me, flicking something off and into the water.
“I was your age when I turned to the ocean. That’s why they sent you to me. They figured of all the possible instructors, I would understand you. Do you know why I was on the ocean that young?”
“No.” I’m interested now, Captain Flynt shares so very rarely. It’s a fault and a gift to her, a tight lipped spy and mysterious ship captain all in one. She goes back to staring out over the water when she speaks, a strange sense of calming coming off her.
“I saw a mountain move once. No one believes me but I saw it. Started sailing the next day, the mountains that move on the water don’t have eyes.”
She turns her head to look at me and we stand in silence for a while longer, her staring at me, me staring back.
“I think I understand. You took me because I was running from something bigger than I was and you felt a kinship with that.” I say. “I can appreciate what you’ve done for me, I would have been killed in the purge if not for you. You’re my ship on the ocean, an escape from the mountains of the world.”
She looks at me with that unreadable face. Then it twists into something, amused disgust maybe. She scoffs.
“No. Don’t be stupid.” I make a noise like I’ve been punched in the stomach but she doesn’t let me get a word in.
“I took you because you were young and you could work. Usually they send me these whinging little morons that can’t run the rigging, I don't need that on my ship. You, you're light on your feet, good to work a ship. You being a spy had so little to do with it. I couldn’t care less what you’re running from and the mountain I saw move wasn’t some metaphor, I literally saw a mountain move and blink at me. It moved, Ashur. Out here, everything moves and that makes me feel at ease. It’s all meant to move.”
She flicks something else off the railing and shakes her head, going back to that stone face.
“For a brilliant spy you’re certainly a dumb shit.”
“Thanks, Rhi, I appreciate that.” I say. Of course she would. Of course. ”Next you’ll be on about how the mountains out here aren’t just big waves, right? Mermen gonna leap out and snatch us off the boat?”
I snort at my own joke and she turns away, shaking her head, looking out over the water.
“Ashur, I said the mountains that move out here don’t have eyes. Never said they didn’t have teeth.”
Captain Riannon Flynt leaves me with that, heading back to her cabin, nothing but the creaking wood and lapping waves for company. I squint out into the darkness and wonder if this is just more of her dark sense of humor.
Was that something moving against the waves? Or is it just my imagination?
It must just be my imagination. I don’t realize my hand is resting on the hilt of one of my knives for a few seconds before I shiver and turn away from the water. We can’t be too far behind von Krescher now, at best he was a day ahead of us by the time we cleared the harbor.
I hear a splash out in the water and I refuse to turn and look, stalking to my meager cabin space, listening to my feet thud against the deck.
I hate Rhi. I hate ships. I hate spying.
I hate the ocean.

Sergeant Allisten
I stand in a thick, cloying mist. I take a step and it is like walking through knee high mud.
“Hello?” I call out. There is no reply.
I look down and find that I am wearing just a tunic and trousers, no armor and no sword. It feels odd. I lift my hands and turn them, focusing on the one with the knife wound it it. It is a gaping wound that does not bleed.
That’s new.
“Hey Allie. Been a minute.”
That voice isn’t new. In the mist I find Grantham, sitting there on a camp stool in his legion tunic and trousers, armor on, working a whetstone over his sword with a content look on his face.
“Take a seat, Sergeant.” There is another stool that seems to appear from the mist. I settle into and watch the old soldier work. I hear a song floating through the mist, a beautiful, lyrical voice. Dani. I remember. She sang a goodbye to him. Is she singing one to me?
“You died.”
He doesn’t look up from the sword, just keeps at it with the whetstone and keeps that content smile. His armor is clean, free from mud and blood. His sword is sharp. Behind him a tent seems to form from the mist, perfectly orderly camp.
“I did. Died right where I was meant to, Allie, don’t you fret over it. Was quick, too. Couldn’t ask for more, old soldier like me.”
“I’m sorry.” I say, taking his hands. He looks up at me, that content look gone and replaced with a serious Grantham.
“Allie, don’t you dare. Joined when I was sixteen, just a boy. Forty years I spent with the legions, forty years. Not a damned place I’d have rather been, not a damned way I’d have rather gone out. You were a sight, I’ll be telling them stories about you in the next, Allie.”
Grantham’s rough fingers brush tears off my cheeks and he smiles at me, that content look back on his face.
“Am I dead?” He purses his lips for a moment, thoughtful.
“Let me look at you.” He says, taking my hand and turning it over. “Scratch on the hand. What’s that on your side? Stab wound? Pah, take more than that to take you out. Bet it’s poison.”
“That would explain the nausea, I suppose.” I say, letting my shirt fall back down into place.
“That it would.” He goes back to his sword. “Didn’t answer your question though. Are you dead? Somewhere between, walking between what’s there and what’s next. Dead or not, think it’s your call, Allie.”
Around me a camp is coalescing from the mists, my soldiers. Not all of them. They cook in pots, clean their linens and armor, sharpen their swords and spears. They live their legion lives here in the mist. All these faces that I know, that I have lived with for years.
“You could stay.” Grantham says, looking up at me. “It’s nice here, Allie. No dragons breathing fire, no swords looking to take your head off, no bristle backed Sergeants shouting orders.”
He winks and goes back to his sword.
“You won’t stay.” He says. “Don’t worry Sergeant, the Second is waiting for you.” His hand lashes out like lightning, gripping my wrist and his eyes burn bright with fury. “Take your damned time, Allie. Die in your bed, sixty, seventy years from now, warm and lazy and with a breastplate over your hearth, sword on the mantle.”
“I could stay.” I say. Grantham laughs, a laugh I have never heard from him in all my years. This man, this completely unambitious soldier who complained constantly but never loved anything more. He didn’t laugh like this, like a man free of concerns.
“Don’t lie to me Allie, I’m dead and I don’t have to take your shit anymore.”
“You’re an ass.”
He stands, for the first time, sets his sword aside and suddenly I am enveloped in the very real feeling of his arms. He holds me tight before pushing me back and holding me at arm’s length.
“Good to have you back, Sergeant.”
I laugh and brush away my own tears this time, looking at him, at the others. Second, those that died, are here.
“Time for you to wake up.”
That voice is familiar too. From the mists he steps out, a boyish face that wasn’t ready for war. Attached to the Second, he couldn’t even find his way around the camp when we first met. His smile is earnest, sweet, it doesn’t fit on the face of a soldier.
“Lieutenant Reeve.” I say. He picks me up and hugs me tight, then lets me down with a sheepish smile.
“Probably safe to call me Ayron.” He says. “I don’t think I’m a Lieutenant anymore.”
“You’re dead?” I ask him.
“Imagine that.” He says. “Survived my first battle only to die walking through the camp.”
“I’m sorry.” I tell him. I mean it. I am sorry. I remember pieces of it, I remember the sharp pain and I remember the mocking voice and I remember that there is someone I should be angry with. Maybe two someones. It’s just so vague and distant, like the mist around me. There’s something there that I’m supposed to remember, a face or a name.
He waves me off.
“Don’t be sorry. You get to go back, like Grantham said, the next can wait.” I lift up my hand and watch the torn flesh knit itself back together, the same is happening with the wound on my side. I feel a lancing, burning pain building in the back of my head. Reeve takes my hands in his and presses them tightly.
“Allie, you have to remember. But for now, it’s time for you to wake up.”
“See you around, Allie, take your time!” Grantham shouts. I hear the words ‘wake up’ echoing in the mists, growing louder and louder. Others echo Grantham’s words, while a pressure builds in my chest that begins to draw me away from the mist. It feels like I’m being punched in the chest by a dragon, pulled by a savage claw.
The last thing I see is Reeve, standing there with that boyish face, a sad smile marring those features, as the mist takes him and all the others.
“Remember his face!”
I am plunged into darkness and pain, a moment where the shadows attack me, faceless beings stabbing at me with their knives and tearing at me with their hands. It hurts, it is a searing and terrible pain.
Then there is light, a blinding light.
And so much screaming. My screaming.
I'm alive.
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A close examination of the story. Part 22: What exactly did Katarina do for the cabal and the KGB?

In this series we have been examining the apparent narrative, and finding how it crumbles when it is subjected to scrutiny. The Blacklist resembles a massive illusion, both in the narrative to the audience, as well as the story as it occurred within the show. I think that what is underneath the illusion is far more interesting. It is master storytelling.
We turn now to examine what the emerging real story looks like, beneath the facade.
We had questioned the narrative that Katarina was a a KGB agent. We did a bit when we examine it in Part 3 & Part 2, and concluded she could not have been really a bona fide KGB agent. The attitude of the KGB and the CIA was not consistent with that. The CIA seem less than inclined to want to find her, the KGB was trying to through Anton Velov, then the OUC.
But what was Katarina doing then? What was she doing for the cabal? Why were so many people wanted her dead, forming the Townsend Directive, led by a mysterious figure, Neville Townsend. What is this business with the Sikorsky Archive, that Fakerina is hell bent on finding, going as far as saving Red if it secures her Liz's goodwill?
First, let us do a quick recount on Katarina's supposed comrades:
Ilya Koslov had to have been an identity of Ilya pretending to be a KGB agent, because the FBI does not have information of a supposed Russian diplomatic worker working in the inexistent Russian Embassy in Washington DC in 1991. So, "Ilya Koslov" is a ghost because there was no Ilya Koslov. Ilya, however, exists and is a childhood friend of Red and who Katarina turns to in her hour of need.
Dom, her father, is also a ghost, a man supposedly investigated by the CIA for being a KGB operative, but whose prints and face are not in the system. That looks like a scrub job. I doubt Dom was a real KGB agent, but he was intelligence of some sort.
Fakerina seems to have been involved in the "Katarina Rostova" identity as one of the Katarinas. It is unclear what did she know of the entire scheme. She seems to think Dom and Ilya were KGB and was unaware that Ilya and Red are childhood friends, she knew of Dom's daughter, but is unclear what else she knew about her.
So, if Dom and Ilya were not really KGB agents but were pretending to be so, exactly what was Katarina doing for the KGB and what was she doing for the CIA. And what was she doing for the cabal and Alan Fitch?
Who is Neville Townsend, that Ilya says he cannot stop him?
YOUNG DOM: Do you know they've assembled a directive? The Russian Vory, KGB, the Americans, her enemies have pooled their resources and put a bounty on her head. They're calling it the Townsend Directive.
YOUNG ILYA: Neville Townsend?
YOUNG DOM: He's at the top of a very long list of people who want her dead.
YOUNG ILYA: Are you worried they'll find you?
YOUNG DOM: I'm worried they'll find Masha, try and leverage her.
YOUNG ILYA: Look, Dom, I I can't help you.
YOUNG DOM: You made a promise! To Katarina. You told her you would look after Masha if anything happened to her.
YOUNG ILYA: Yes, but I can't call off Townsend. And he will not stop looking.
Seems clear Ilya knows who this Neville Townsend is.
Another interesting point is the list Dom gives of the people looking for Katarina:
The Russian Vory, KGB, the Americans,
Note he never says, at the time they are discussing this, which is after Katarina disappeared, likely even after the surgery even, possibly years later, during the Belgrade affair, that the CIA is after her.
Contrast then what Red tells Kate circa 1997:
Katarina was a traitor to two countries, both global superpowers.
which coincides with what Katarina told Kate in 1991:
The KGB uncovered my affair with Raymond, which means US Intelligence knows as well. Both sides are tracking me down.
forget the cockamamie reason: the KGB would be happy with her affair. It was supposedly the job. Seduce RR and her information. But what Katarina told Kate was that she was being chased by BOTH sides:
Both sides are tracking me down.
and that is further established by what Red tells Jennifer when he is desperate to get to Naomi, and Jennifer is demanding truth:
In 1990, the KGB and the CIA had almost nothing in common except the mutual determination to hunt down one individual.
So, what we KNOW, is that while in 1990/91 Katarina had BOTH KGB and CIA after her, by the time Dom and Ilya meet in Belgrade, the CIA is absent of the list:
The Russian Vory, KGB, the Americans,
The KGB is after her (or its successors), as they were since 1991, since they sent Velov and then the OUC. Nothing has changed there.
Russian organized crime is after her. So, likely their links to power are threatened. Look at Motya Morozov, who has someone with the same last name, who was the Minister of Finance, and he used to be employed by the cabal.
Motya Morozov, part of the Russian Vory, and Kiryl Morozov, former KGB & cabal operator and later Minister of Finance
And when Dom says "the Americans" we are meant to connect that the CIA is still after her. But they are not. They are now protecting her. So, between 1991 when they were chasing her, and the time Belgrade happens, which we do not know when it did, the CIA had learned that Katarina was not a traitor to them:
KATARINA TO DOM: I am not a traitor.
So, the Americans after her, are not the CIA. She was not a traitor to them. She is now being protected. Likely someone high in power told the CIA to leave her alone. Alan Fitch?
So are the American who are after her, the goons, the organized crime that were also benefiting from the cabal? Are these Americans the ones in Bonn?
And IF as it seems Katarina was truly a CIA officer, operative or agent, then it means that in 1990, they believed she had betrayed them, becoming a double agent, but later on they were told or convinced she was not such.
IF she had been CIA masquerading as KGB, that likely means she had been a covert agent. Someone skilled at making people believe she was someone different than who she really was.
And IF she had been a covert agent, she would likely had been in contact with another CIA officer who decades later, headed the Clandestine Services: Peter Kotsiopolus. Who seems quite happy to kill Liz, once he ascertain who Liz was.
Especially if Peter, who decades earlier might have been a handler, had been "betrayed" by Katarina working for someone higher up the food chain, Alan Fitch, who in 2013 is the Assistant Director of national Security, but who in 1991 might have had a different job. And since he is buried in Arlington, that might have been a job with the US military.
Fitch is buried in Arlington
Going over his head, making him a fool. A man who was quietly biding his time until he could get one up on Fitch. Sure Reddington did not have the fulcrum. Eager to have him killed.
Was it Peter who sent the bones & body parts to Berlin? An incredibly cruelty.
Whoever did so, was hoping that Berlin would annihilate whoever he held responsible. The question is, who did the person who sent those bones believed this person to be? Reddington? Maybe this person believed it was someone different, someone who could have approached Berlin's daughter, someone who would also present as a dissident. Maybe someone like Katarina.

With that explored, what was Katarina really doing? What is the narrative and what seems to check out?

It is a difficult endeavor, as Red seems to be using Redspeak to confuse anything related to Katarina. Not once has he talked about her to Liz as just "Katarina". Only as "your mother", "Katarina Rostova" or "she and her". He uses Katarina to Dembe, Dom, Kate and Ilya.
But who is who? When is Red talking about Katarina (Dom's daughter), the woman who raised Liz, and when is he talking about Fakerina, a woman whose real name he does not know, and who seems to have had some sort of relationship with?
IF that were the only two there were. I feel there has to be more. Three at least, because Fakerina is not sure why was she chosen.
Let us start by what we know is about Katarina for sure.

The most important piece of information Red gives Liz refers to secrets Katarina, as a secret keeper, "took with her" when she disappeared.

Red tells Liz this in 3.11 [Daniel Knauff, writer] when Red shows Liz a map, and tells her why she cannot just walk away:
RED: The Cabal is in green. Their affiliates are in red. Their competition is in blue. Since I've been a fugitive, the pestilence on this map has only grown. This is what we're up against-- a multi-headed hydra. You cut off one head, it grows two others, you have to cut off every head and burn the rest of it. It's a mythic battle, and it's not anywhere close to being over.
LIZ: It's your battle, not mine.
RED: I wish that were true, Lizzy. But the manhunt revealed certain facts that had long been hidden about you.
LIZ: Me?
RED: Katarina Rostova was a name that had been lost to history. Masha Rostova was never more than suspicion and rumor. The manhunt and the publicity it generated changed all of that.
LIZ: But who would care that I'm Katarina Rostova's daughter?
RED: The daughter of a legendary spymaster, the secret-keeper who disappeared - ... The secrets she took with her could compromise any number of players on that map.
LIZ: But I don't know anything.
RED: They don't know that. You can't walk away, Lizzy. They won't let you.
When this aired, I thought this was singularly important. It was not the fulcrum, which was long exposed. This gave us the reason why Katarina is hiding:
a legendary spymaster, the secret-keeper who disappeared. The secrets she took with her could compromise any number of players on that map.
This has to be the Sikorsky Archive (SA). It also tells us the SA contains information not only on the cabal, but related players and even competition. But the cabal seemed weakened, yet, there is one level of the cabal we have not learn much about it other than location, it seems singularly important:
THE DIRECTOR TO SOLOMON: if you don't and our friends in Bonn learn of your insubordination, I don't think they're gonna be very pleased.
The higher echelon of the cabal is located in Bonn, which was the capital of West Germany during the Cold War.
Germany was divided during the Cold War. Bonn was the capital of West Germany.
And it tells us that even though Liz was 4 years old when her mother Katarina disappeared, "they" would come for her. If that is because they believe a four year old would know something, or because she is leverage, is unknown.
One thing is worth remembering, though. Liz, even with her tampered memories tampered, even if she does not recall faces, she remembers words:
Is it possible that Liz knows something she does not know she does? Like the location of the stolen archive, hidden in a nursery rhyme, a song with changed lyrics, a child story?
Is Liz's burn the result of an accident, or is it a mark of some sort, maybe to identify her?
What is not certain is why would she take this information with her. Was it the objective of her being involved? Was it insurance? is it something she is protecting to use it? What we know is that Ilya seems to have been involved in it, but it is uncertain if they were accomplices, or if he had tried finding it, or got involved by association.

What is certain is that that object or knowledge that Katarina took with her when she disappeared, has secrets that are damaging to powerful people. It tells is why is she hiding.

We know too then, that Ilya is involved with the Archive, and now Fakerina is trying to find it. The secrets in the SA are lethal:
How many times have I told you? Leave it alone. I warned you. Even saying the name Katarina Rostova has consequences, and now you see. Now you see what that name will make others do.
Note the curious wording. Not the normal one: 'Even mentioning HER (Katarina) has consequences, and now you see. Now you see what HER name will make others do.'
This tells us that whatever Katarina do, she was a secret keeper in that name and mentioning the name, a name that seems to have been inhabited by many women has consequences, in that people would come out of the woodwork to do unspeakable things.
Katarina seemed to have been then collecting information, or stealing a collection of damaging information on many players involved with the cabal. Almost make it seem like the fulcrum was a decoy for the real thing. Given that the CIA is not really trying to find her, it would seem they were not affected by it. We can then gather that the secrets are not from the American players of the cabal.
this is what Fakerina tells Liz the SA is:
Do you know what the Sikorsky Archive is? ... It's a blackmail file. It has compromising information on very powerful people. I've been accused of stealing it. He knows I didn't. I think he knows who did.
What is not clear is who commissioned her to do so, if anyone did. What it sounds like is the way Red described the fulcrum:
The Fulcrum.... It's a blackmail file-- proof of the existence of an extraordinarily powerful clandestine organization. If their activities were made public, some of the most powerful and influential men would go to prison or be executed.
Peter sees the fulcrum for the first time. he had examined the pieces, as if he did not know it had pieces, or had seen the pieces before, but not know what they were.
Is it possible that Red believed the fulcrum was the Sikorsky Archive? Because when we looked at the fulcrum, it exposed the cabal members, but was not blackmail. It would undermine the cabal. The entire thing. Not specific members, including the one who supposedly created the thing, Alan Fitch, dead by the time was exposed.
Unless the fulcrum was a decoy for the Sikorsky Archive. Or part of the Archive. Unless that device was made in a such a way that different codes unlock different parts.
The exposure of the fulcrum debilitated the cabal, but it is still there. The Bonn faction or echelon is still active. Now we have compromising information. Was it in them, or was the Archive taken out of Russia, containing information that compromises them?

The second fact we have is that even if the tape of Minister D was recorded as a "get out of jail card" for Red, because it is hard to imagine two seasoned intelligence people discussing things openly, with no code words, and in an unsecured line, the fact that Katarina and Alan Fitch recorded it tells us they DID work together. It serves as confirmation of this part of Rassvet:
DOM: Remember, all this happened as the Soviet Union was collapsing. She betrayed all of us.
LIZ: By working with the Cabal.
DOM: By helping to fan the flames of an uprising. Many powerful people were looking for your mother, and she knew she needed to disappear, to fade away.
Dom never mentions a cabal, but it is clear she was working with Fitch, parts of which we see in Rassvet. A curious part, because she tells her mother and her father diametrically opposed things:
KATARINA TO LENA: Because I'm a traitor. And they'll think you're a traitor, too. They'll think you're on my side.
KATARINA TO DOM: I am not a traitor.
The KGB believed her to be a traitor, dispatching Anton Velov to hunt her, then the Osterman Umbrella Company:
Your mother loved that photograph. Represented everything she wanted but couldn't have. Not after she betrayed the KGB. After that, she was a hunted woman.... Hunted by the Osterman Umbrella Company.... A burn notice can mean kill or capture. When it's kill, they're the hit squad of choice.
So, It seem as we explored in part 2, Katarina's mother was KGB, but Dom was not. This puts these lines from Rassvet into perspective:
No, Papa, listen to me. You have to go. You can't come back here.... Moscow's gonna fall. It's only a matter of time. You have to leave.
Former KGB involved with the cabal stayed in Russia, after the USSR fell. An example? The esteemed relative of Motya Morozov, one of the goon who bought into the Townsend Directive bounty:
RED: Motya, I need to take care of this myself. It's personal.
MOTYA: Ah. Do you know your conversations with the Minister of Finance single-handedly responsible for getting my operations pushed out of Kiev? I lost millions in rail lines alone. I lost my relationship with contractors, politicians
Back in 2015, when the team was trying to find the man responsible for faking the death of Berlin's daughter, and setting the bombing at Kursk, they discover that the man who set the explosives was Kiryl Morozov, a man who back then was a low level KGB officer, and rose to the rank of Minister of Finance:
COOPER: Kiryl Morozov. He was a low-level KGB operative.
NAVABI: And today?
COOPER: One of the most powerful men in Russia.
WRIGHT: Kiryl Morozov is one of Putin's most trusted advisers. The man runs the finance ministry.
COOPER: And we have reason to believe he's responsible for the 1991 bombing in Kursk that left -
WRIGHT: 12 people dead. In Russia.
so, if Morozov not only could stay in Russia, but seemed to have benefited from the cabal's activities in rising to a position of great power, why did Dom have to leave?
Add it to his being a ghost, and the answer is clear: Because Dom was not KGB. If he was involved with them, was as a double agent. But it is more likely that the reason Katarina is warning him to get out, is because the KGB discovered she was not really KGB, and Dom would become persona non-grata. Accused of espionage. Maybe false flag operations
would a real GB use Russian explosives? Or would that be the work of a non-KGB to create a false flag operation?
Since the KGB seemed to have really wanted to get their hands on Katarina, while the CIA seem to still work hard at not finding her, or her relatives, the deduction is an easy one: Katarina masqueraded as a KGB agent, but was really CIA, with a burn notice. Her existence is denied. Dom seemed to have a cover blown, and so did Ilya.
What was the cabal's apparent objective? Quoting from a letter from Lukas Reiter:
The CABAL was engaged in a global conspiracy to bring about the fall of the Soviet Union. The players agreed that, once the Soviet Union was dismantled, the world would enter a 25 year period of instability, allowing the group to profit from the political and economic uncertainty that followed. Afterward, the world would return to a Cold War posture, with the two opposing super-powers restored.
But Fitch making an object that would effectively dismantle the cabal (if it had been used in the 1990s) and then protecting Red while he found the missing piece, certainly puts that part into question. So, what Fitch was really doing, likely under the guise of enriching the group, is ending the Cold War by accelerating the fall of the USSR.
If the upper echelons were in Bonn, then this part really just wanted the end of the USSR. Maybe the reunification of Germany. At any rate, it seemed Fitch was using the rest of the cabal to end the Cold War.
It was Fitch who ordered the then KGB operative Morozov to bomb the meeting in Kursk of the old guard who were trying to hold on to the old order, keep the USSR in place. People like Colonel Milos Kirchhoff.
these men were trying to keep the USSR together, opposing the cabal plan to accelerate its demise.
Someone must have assessed those individuals who opposed the end of the USSR, to get them out of the way. One way was a crude one: a bombing. Another was more devious: make his daughter disappear, and then make Kirchhoff believe she was in jail, get him to compromise himself by facilitating her "escape", which landed him in Siberia.
the plan to compromise Berlin by making him believe his daughter was in jail was hatched by December 1990. Reddington was blamed for it afterwards.
Katarina seemed to have worked with Fitch in ending the Cold War. So, what would be the job of a woman who could get anyone to believe whatever she wanted them to believe? Maybe find out the weaknesses of those opposed to the plans of the cabal?
This was what Red starts to tell Constantin while being drugged, under intense pain, with less control he usually has:
You saw what Katarina wanted you to see. She lied to you about everything. KGB trained her to seduce foreign diplomats, intel intelligence personnel into believ--
Before he corrected himself to the standard narrative that "Katarina Rostova" was a honeytrap, Red was telling Constantin Katarina was an illusionist, someone who could make others see what she wanted them to see. For Constantin it was an illusion of a happy marriage, with a child of his own.
Red corrects himself, though, and gives Constantin the apparent narrative: Katarina was a seductress.
You saw what Katarina wanted you to see. She lied to you about everything. KGB trained her to seduce foreign diplomats, intel intelligence personnel into believ - revealing secrets. You always thought I was the interloper. The truth is that I was an assignment. I'm I'm sure you were, too.
Red does not use verbal clutches often, those "ahhh", "Ohh", "Mmmh" or has interrupted speech, in which a thought starts to come out, and he checks himself midsentence, changing it, or abandoning the thought. He has done it three times. ALL related to a "Katarina Rostova".
  1. You saw what Katarina wanted you to see. She lied to you about everything. KGB trained her to seduce foreign diplomats, intel intelligence personnel into believ - revealing secrets.
  2. Mmmh I knew her as Katarina Rostova. One of her many names. She was a KGB agent.
  3. Your parents Uh, father and -- They were both in foreign intelligence.
I have explored that maybe there was no child born as Masha Rostova. No birth certificate under that name, or the Russians would have been certain there was a child. Even the Director did not know for certain, for he sends his people to interrogate Velov.
VELOV: All I know is they say she had a daughter.
We also explored that it is entirely possible that Katarina may not have been Liz's biological mother, but the woman who took her in, and Liz may have been the child of one of the other women using the name Katarina Rostova, as Red's use of a natural way of refering to Liz's mother ("your mother") and an unnatural one ("Katarina Rostova") seem to indicate.
The first time we hear the name of the blond woman in the swing, this is what Red tells Liz:
I knew her as Katarina Rostova. One of her many names. She was a KGB agent.
That sounds like what Red tells the task force about Fakerina: "She has no name."
She doesn't have a name. She's a ghost. Think of a name, any name, and that could be it.
Which sounds like Wujing. A ghost child, whose invisibility was an asset:
They say that Wujing was a second child. So they gave him away, denied he was ever born. He was invisible to his family. Wujing made a life working in a business where invisibility was an incredible asset.
Red certainly knows what Katarina's real last name is, because he knows who Dom really is. So when Liz asks about her mother, it seems Red is telling her there about a mother who is NOT Katarina, the woman who raised her, but about the one who gave birth to her. Or he is digging telling Liz her mother's real name.
This is further compound by one of the most mysterious phrases of the seven seasons of the show:
Your parents Uh, father and …They were both in foreign intelligence.
Red had just told Liz that her mother was KGB. Why then does he appear to be repeating himself?
Unless, of course he is NOT repeating himself. We KNOW Liz's had several paternal figures: her biological father, RR; her adoptive father, Sam Milhoan; the man who believed himself to be her father, Constantin Rostov; and Red, who had been directing her education through Sam, and who did not want her to be like him.
For the longest time I believed the rest of the phrase had to do with another father Liz had. That Katarina took her from dad to dad, making several men believe she was theirs.
Then Fakerina appeared. Now I am inclined to believe what Red meant was that
Your parents Uh, father and [biological and adoptive mother,] They were both [ALL] in foreign intelligence.
It would explain some of the dodging Red is doing, using "Katarina Rostova" or "your mother" only. IF Red is talking to Liz about two women, who both used the name "Katarina Rostova", and whose first name may have been Katarina, it really explains a lot.
So, when we look at the evidence, what we know is that at least one of the women who inhabited the name was a KGB agent that Red knew as "Katarina Rostova" and maybe he never knew her real name.
I think it is possible Liz's biological mother is either Fakerina or another one of the "Katarina Rostovas" including possibly the bones.
A KGB agent who targeted Reddington, which explains Red's feelings at being used, at Liz discovering her husband did not exist, feelings that seem more personal, like something he had experienced himself:
And the CIA was actually being somewhat straightforward:
I don't think there are any photographs of Katarina Rostova.... She's a myth. Tall tales late at night over vodka shots. Probably an amalgamation of a half-a-dozen unknown female Soviet operatives-- the Pinko Mata Hari.
They seem to be covering up the charade, but "Katarina Rostova" was a honeytrap, a professional seductress who extracted secrets from targets using seduction and sex, and that seems to have been the province of the Russian, real-KGB agents, as Red said in the trial (partly)
Have you ever heard of Katarina Rostova? ... She was a KGB officer. Would it surprise you to learn that she and I had quite a complicated history? Sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll. Did I say "sex"? Sex....
35 years ago, a Naval intelligence officer working for the US government fell fell into a relationship with a beautiful Russian woman. Unbeknownst to his superiors, that relationship, which started as guarded attraction, quickly evolved into passion, which resulted in pregnancy. They had the child. ...
What the Naval officer didn't know, but certainly should have suspected, was that the Russian woman was a KGB officer, that Katarina Rostova had been assigned to get close to Raymond Reddington and steal classified information from him.
There is no subterfuge there. We know the woman Red met as "Katarina Rostova" was a honeytrap who was assigned to him to seduce him and either turn him, or steal information from him. Just what Dom tells Liz, except that is not about his daughter Katarina:
Not necessarily Dom, but the "Katarina Rostovas" would have been KGB agent ordered to turn Reddington or steal secrets from him. Sometimes, the female KGB agents were ordered to have children, to secure the relationship, or to use as Kompromat. Proof of an affair, leverage against the men.
Did Katarina stepped into that role as well, pretending to be seducing Reddington, but fell in love with him? This could be a way how this bizarre phrase works:
KATE: Is it serious?
KATARINA: Yes. It's frivolous exciting dangerous
Frivolous and serious are antonyms. There is one way to make it work.

Another indication we have of Katarina's activities are in what Constantin accuses Red of.
I don't really know how we got here, Raymond. I remember being an honest businessman in a happy marriage until you came along.... Seduced my wife. To her credit, Katarina broke it off, - but you couldn't let go.
For Constantin it was Red who had seduced Katarina, and made him into a dishonest businessman. But how would that happen?
This cannot be simply a case of Katarina pretending to Constantin she was the innocently seduced. Because it is the fact that Constantin makes Red responsible for his no longer being an honest businessman which suggest Red blackmailed him into being a spy for him. And this is not a third party, as Constantin recalls an opportunity in which he had a gun in Red's mouth:
Do you know what I'm thinking, Raymond? That house by the water, holding a gun in your mouth. I should have pulled the trigger.
Constantin was referred to in a newspaper as a trafficker in secrets from the USSR and goods into the USSR.
So from Constantin POV, Reddington was who had seduced his wife and made him into a dishonest businessman, apparently by either allowing his identity to have an operative going into Russia using his name, or having him be a reluctant spy ( like the architect in Wujing) and a smuggler.
Likely, by blackmailing Constantin with exposing his wife as a KGB agent, if he did not do as told. With the irony that his wife was NOT really a KGB agent, but was pretending to be so.
Most of it comes from the trial, where we learned that Katarina framed him for it from the tape, when Fitch tells Katarina to kill RR because he discovered the cabal, and who Katarina really was. That tape is bizarre, but this part is quite interesting.
But if we discredit him... The intelligence I stole. We leak that it came from him. No one will believe him after that. Not with the blood of 134 Americans on his hands.
And where do that leave the Gideon? Did it really exist? Was Fitch fine with working with an agent who had caused the death of 134 Americans? Fitch send the guy who was attempting to disable the bomb home. It is the act of a good man, a man who loved his country:
I've been in the intelligence field a long time now. On my orders, 763 men and women have died in service to their country. And there wasn't a grieving wife or mother or husband I didn't either call or visit personally. Thank them for their sacrifice. That's what makes it the hardest. The families. You can't disarm it, can you?... That's more than enough. I'm not gonna make it 764. What's your name? ... Go home, Mike. You've done everything you can.
Were the 134 sailors part of the 763 men he had been gone to thank their families for? Or was the USS Gideon a false flag operation? An old sub made into a charade? Were they really 134 sailors? Was it full of 134 traitors, delivered to Russia on a silver platter? (Reverse Red October?)
Was Seaduke among them?
Was Katarina the one who really steal those coordinates from Reddington? Or was Reddington's name used as the US Navy did with the Grayscape 17 stunt:
A defective stealth fighter called the Grayscape Seventeen. The Navy knew Ross was working for China, so they made sure he stole plans for a plane that couldn't fly, and when it crashed, China blamed Ross, turned him over to the feds
Because if the US Navy (Or Fitch) knew that Reddington was not the real identity of RR, then maybe it had always been the idea to use that identity for whatever was needed, because not been a real one, Raymond could then disappear into another identity, leaving "Reddington" behind.
Was the USS Gideon another Grayscape 17? If Katarina had "stolen" coordinates that were a sham, or the submarine was a sham, what did it do to her reputation? Greatly enhanced it, I bet, until the KGB discovered she was not really KGB.

So, Katarina seems to have been a CIA (or the like) officer, an illusionist like Red, who infiltrated the KGB, working with the cabal to end the Cold War, and who took a lot of secrets with her when she disappeared.
see the entire series. First the crumbling facade:
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/r/QOTSA Official Band of the Week 8: ARCTIC MONKEYS

So yeah, I threw a TON of shade at our Frigid Ape friends last week (but maybe not as much as I did at Meg White - but she deserves it. She knows what she did.) So if you had not guessed it already, this week we will focus on Alex Turner and some other guys. Yes, you might say that we have come crawling back to them. I even contemplated telephoning them after I was imbibing.
Yes, I only made that call while I was somewhat elevated.
It is rumored that these Wintry Orangutans may have established a taco-exporting lunar base (it actually had a high local Yelp rating, or so I’ve heard). Yes, these Chilled Hominids are our focus. They have 7 Brit Awards and 6 studio albums. (Side note: Robbie Williams has 18 Brit Awards so I’m pretty sure you can buy them at the airport kiosk.) They also, according to reliable sources, appear handsome on surfaces upon which you rhythmically gyrate.
They are this week’s featured artist.
About Them
One of the defining characteristics of JHo and the Boys can also be found with this group of Frosty Baboons: They never make the same record twice. Consequently, they are tough to define. They are a mash-up of influences and styles and each new album veers off in wildly different directions. Are you dressed up in a jean jacket with lots of buttons? You’ll love their sometimes Indie vibe. Just smoked a bowl? Yep, they have that desert groove. Feel like a night out with the lads? Their earlier, more up-tempo stuff is for you. Thinking more Billy Joel/Elton John? Yes, they have piano-based music. Want hip-hop?
Screw you, I did the Run the Jewels post already. Go back there.
These Bitter Mandrils hail from Sheffield, England. The band was formed in 2002 between a group of close friends. They initially had Andy Nicholson on bass, but after a series of conflicts on a North American tour, he got the boot. His replacement was Yellam’o Salochin - or as he’s better known, Nicholas O’Malley. The other core members of the band are Jamie Cook on guitar, Matt Helders on drums, and the one and only Alex Turner on just about everything (but most typically the microphone).
Although initially lacking in confidence, Turner would soon be pushed to the front of the band for his way with words. The reason for this would eventually become clear, as Turner revealed in 2013 that all band members are actually Alex Turner. Lets not deal with that Game of Thrones-esque plot twist yet though.
Stylistically, these guys are about as British as they come. You know how when people from England sing, they almost always sound like they have no accent? Turner is the exception. No, I don’t mean that he’s like John Lydon from The Sex Pistols, because part of that band’s rebellion was to sound quintessentially British instead of like manufactured pop. And no, I don’t mean that he is like Liam Gallagher from Oasis, because let’s face it, that guy barely sings anyway.
In his early work, Turner decided to double-down on his roots and perform his songs with his regional dialect. You can literally hear the Sheffield twang in his music, and the band would exemplify this British charm in all the tracks leading up to their first album.
After much practice, and several gigs, the band recorded some demos and began handing them out for free at their concerts. This eighteen song collection, dubbed Beneath the Boardwalk, would garner them a fair bit of fame, and was soon popping up on various file sharing and social media websites. That’s right. The number one lesson you need to take away from this is: if you want to get famous, MySpace is the way (even though they didn't even make their own page).
Soon they released an EP named Five Minutes with Arctic Monkeys on their own label. The success of this led to them playing the Reading and Leeds festival, where they drew an unusually large crowd for such an “unknown” band. In 2005 they signed with Domino Records, and released their debut single I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor to great success, reaching No. 1 on the UK singles chart.
By September of the same year, the band’s first album, Whatever People Say I am, That’s What I’m Not was done. Upon release, it became the fastest selling debut album in UK history, with over 360,000 copies sold in the first week. This album was (and still is) the epitome of British indie punk, and is pretty much the national anthem of North England night clubbers. No, not that kind of clubbers - clearly, I mean something more like this.
After this album, and a few singles / short EPs, “Who The Fuck Are Arctic Monkeys?” was the question on everyone’s mind.
This was answered in the release of their follow up album, Favourite Worst Nightmare (2007), which also hit No. 1 on the charts shortly after release. Much like it’s predecessor, it drips with Sheffield character, but in a slightly different manner. The song writing on this record gives a range between blistering speed and raw emotion. Tracks like Do Me a Favour and 505 demonstrate prowess and dexterity in Turner’s writing, and hinted at darker, more serious tones for the band’s future.
This came to fruition on what some may view as the band’s most important record: Humbug (2009). Our boy Josh took the young lads under his wing, producing and co-writing this album in the one and only Rancho de la Luna. When you listen to it, it shows. This record is dark, moody, and full of beautifully weird metaphors and winding riffs. There is still a good amount of energy in this album, seen in tracks like Pretty Visitors, but the dark moody undertones of the desert are strongly on display in songs like The Jeweller’s Hands and My Propeller. All in all, this album was one that saw an amazing level of evolution in the band’s song writing (and I swear, all that Josh touches turns to gold.)
Oh and this album also soared to No.1 on release. Go figure.
A few years later, they released the album Suck It and See (2011), a record that was a pure ray of sunshine compared to Humbug. The album features a considerably lighter sound, not that it lacks that signature Turner flair, but the tracks generally lean towards a slightly more accessible sound. All in all, it’s still a great album, and an important step in their musical development. Also, please expect to see somebody write a 4 page essay on why Brick By Brick is the best song they have ever written over on their subreddit by next week.
Oh and it also reached No.1 on release. Noticing a trend maybe?
Anyway, these Glacial Lemurs then released that squiggles album in 2013. It became marginally popular. Something something also reached No. 1, something something popular in America, something something Alex Turner’s greaser haircut was SO cool and I want it back. It is also worth noting that our boy Ginger Elvis made a cameo on this record (so I mean, it’s gotta be cool).
Moving on, their most recent album saw Turner embark on a Taco-Powered mission to the Moon. Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino (2018) was originally going to be released as a Turner solo album. However, upon hearing it, his band mates decided to join in and make it into a fully fledged Numb Chimpanzees record. Moon-Tacos can be persuasive.
This album is chock full of alluring and idiosyncratic lyrics that conjure up wonderfully unique aesthetics. It has a laid back, piano-centric melancholy feel that is found nowhere else in their discography. It is so different from their previous albums that many have mixed views on it, but in my opinion, it’s the ultimate grower - I only started enjoying it on maybe the 5th listen. Overall I give it a solid 80% (unheard of, I know!)
Oh and of course, it also hit No. 1.
And notice how I never returned to that Game of Thrones Plot twist? Yep, just like the final season. No, I am not bitter...why do you ask?
That puts a neat bow on their discography, give or take their numerous B-Sides, which are a whole other rabbit hole. I have also neglected some other important Alex Turner records, such as Submarine (his only solo album) and both albums by The Last Shadow Puppets, which are also important stylistic stepping stones for the band. This also explains why Alex Turner’s shoulders are so strong, since he has to carry Miles Kane’s career on both of these records.
All in all, Turner is also a lot like our very own Baby Duck in that he has done multiple projects with multiple artists above and beyond his core band. A self-described “control freak” and reluctant frontman - yet he seems possessed by a desire to constantly explore, create and collaborate on new music.
There’s nothing quite like these Arctic Monkeys, even if their name is really easy to mess up.
Links to QOTSA
Queens of the Stone Age and our featured Polar Simians first met at a rather disappointing gig in Houston in 2007. Josh described them as a ”down-to-earth, earnest group of people that grew up together and somehow made a bubble to protect themselves from the explosion that is their band.” He also remarked that, ”They’ve been playing this most dangerous game of changing every record and reaching like a rock climber for the next grip.”
It is clear that Josh saw his own musical journey reflected in the band, so much so that Homme co-produced and co-wrote their 2009 third studio album, Humbug. That album was recorded in large part out at Rancho de la Luna. Queens have even done a cover version of Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?
Alex Turner did guest vocals on If I Had a Tail. Josh reciprocated by doing guest vocals on Knee Socks. During the recording of AM, Turner said of Josh: ”He came down and sort of got us out of a little rut. It’s just fun, it’s friends, extended family now...His contribution to our record is really exciting, it’s probably my favourite.” Josh has stated about Turner that ”he has a special gift for the gab” and that Matt Helders is ”one of the best drummers in rock ‘n’ roll.” Helders joined Josh, Dean Fertita and Iggy Pop to record Post Pop Depression at Rancho de la Luna in 2015.
Their Music
Fluorescent Adolescent
R U Mine?
Brick by Brick
Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?
Knee Socks
Pretty Visitors
I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor
Mardy Bum
Four Out Of Five
Show Them Some Love
Previous Posts
Alice in Chains
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard
Rage Against the Machine
Run the Jewels
Royal Blood
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[Online Poker] Poker Forum Help Homeless Player Attempt The Shot of a Lifetime.

Link to Previous Tales From 2+2: Poker player steals $1m+ chips and tries to sell it on 2+2 poker forums More Tales From 2+2: A Very Controversial $70k prop bet If you or a friend are familiar with online poker and want to see the unedited version of this post then click here
Here's another Tales From 2+2 post, this one is a bit longer but well worth the read. It follows the story of an online poker player posting on the 2+2 online poker forums and that takes him on the ride of a lifetime. I have made some light edits so it's easier to understand for non poker players, my explanations are within [these brackets]. If you want to understand how to play the poker watch this 3 minute how to play poker video.

Still Booming

The year is 2010.
The effects of the 2003 poker boom are still being felt and Black Friday [Black Friday is when online poker was forced to shut down in the USA, it hit the industry hard] is a year away.
Americans, Europeans, Australians and almost the whole world are playing side by side on Pokerstars and Full Tilt [The two biggest online sites at the time]. Hundreds of people are signing up for poker sites each day. Tournament guarantees are at an all-time high. Poker sites’ pockets are overflowing and sites are offering generous bonuses and promotions. Poker TV is popular worldwide and Poker After Dark just entered its 6th season. The 2+2 poker forums are in full swing, it’s the epicenter of poker communication. Dozens of threads are made on popular subforums like NVG (News, Views and Gossip) or BBV (Beats, Brags and Variance) every day.
BBV is a subforum of 2+2 where the moderation is far laxer than the rest of the 2+2. People often create posts showing off their tournament wins or lamenting huge downswings. After the initial post is made, the trolls would descend and replies like this were often seen:
Colin_Piddle: Ur a clown OP
Tank Home & Away: Somebody call Donald Trump. OP thinks online poker is rigged.
FranFran: Shut up. Idiot.

The BBV Post

On 20th Feb 2010 Jared Huggins, posting under RelaxedPrecision, visits BBV to vent his frustration over busting his meager roll playing 100nl HU:
RelaxedPrecision: Beat: HU vs drooler, lost my $100 bankroll ($100 table obv.)
He raised preflop every single hand including out of position.
Called 75% of my three bets with trash.
Only pot bet, regardless of board, his holdings, or position.
He is -$1132 in 2000 hands, -33/bb 100
We played 250 hands.
This guy was a corpse and I ran so cold it was insane. Only hitting any pair or a decent draw a couple of times. Twilight zone.
Brag: Not homeless again till the end of the month. Getting a third job today. This week I've begged for food at fast food joints and have scored two steak tacos and 1 piece of chicken.
[Jared is complaining that he lost the last of his poker bankroll, $100] The usual procedure in BBV is for the BBV regulars to berate the original poster, usually in meme form. Jared’s thread is no exception:
Sobad87: FAIIIIIIL, homeless shelters exist for a reason.
SmilingOrange: rock bottom itt
Sump: in b4 homeless
However, the thread takes a darker turn when Jared starts to post more details about his living and financial situation.
RelaxedPrecision: I'm 5 peanuts and 2 cups of water into my day. Finding some awesome links about food for broke people in LA. RelaxedPrecision: Last time round, 6 month period, I chose cruising the back streets near my job/sleeping in car, rather than driving hours per day to/from shelter and risking jail/car impoundaments/belongings confiscated.
Jared seems to be not only in dire poverty but also grinding microstakes [microstakes in poker is buying in for $2-10 dollars] for any cash he can get. He posts that the roll he lost was from a referral payment on a poker website but he cant’t withdraw it. The posters start to get a little more sympathetic:
FastPlaySlow: Wow. I feel bad for ya OP.
Kidlover: Keep your head up bro. Gimme a call if you want
A user named Airwave16 offers helps in his own way:
airwave16: create youtube vid of you dancing to around the world by daft punk in your boxers with a large sign that says "i love burningbend" and i'll ship you $30
Within 40 minutes Jared accepts this:
RelaxedPrecision: Never thought I'd do something like this, but I don't have much choice.
RelaxedPrecision: Don't want to go back to living in my car. Last month some guys tried to break into my car while I was inside of it. Terrible experience.
The next day, to the surprise of many he posts a video on Youtube of him around his room, just as Airwave16 asked. Unfortunately the video is lost to time but this small photo of the video remains. 2+2 posters start to show more compassion when they see how desperate Jared is for money:
mcfals02: Hilarious video. Hope you run good at life soon OP.
shikari424: If you've got a ftp [Full Tilt Poker,] account i'll ship something over bro[money could be sent between accounts], made me laugh
Ccuster_911 then offers a little more money for another challenge:
Ccuster_911 : Make a video of you going outside on the streets in LA offering people free HUGs(holding a sign ldo), I will ship you 30$, I want at least 10 random people being hugged
Others start to offer extra money to shoot this video:
cds0699: I'll chip in $10 for this.
Greeson08: $20 more here...$30 more if you paint yourself green before doing the hug thing.
Jared is very thankful for the support and lets his fellow posters know:
RelaxedPrecision: I'm really overwhelmed and surprised. Thank you guys so much, you have no idea how good it feels that people on 2+2 would reach out to me like this. I'm totally blown away. Thank you so much. This is one of the best things that has happened to me in a very long time.
Talked to the lady who rented me this room for 2 weeks. I got 5 days left here, then I'm back living in my car.
I am going to do everything in my power to get back on my feet. I am so close. Every suggestion, I will do. I'll dance for penny. I'll come to your house and clean your toilet. That's where my mind is at
A user asks for him to take a photo with ‘Free Pageh’ on his head, he posts this
swd805: that pic is disturbing
RelaxedPrecision: Mission accomplished.
Jared gives an insight into his mood while performing these tasks
RelaxedPrecision: Please do laugh at me. I laugh at myself as much as possible.
I cried twice. 1st when Airwave propositioned me and I felt different inside, like "time to get desperate man". It was a nasty feeling.
2nd time I cried, when I finished the video & began to ask myself whether or not I would do various things for $ & heard some of the answers in my head.
Both times I fought the tears back & realized I got no choice, need the $. So let's get some more ideas & keep this ball rolling. You guys are helping me, thank you
He also gives insight into his poor mental state and reveals that a 2+2 poster gave him a small stake [someone will send Jared money to play and Jared will split the profits]:
RelaxedPrecision: My friend (who's house I crashed at) is a pro MMA fighter , he lets me attend his MMA/BJJ class once a week. At class today, he yelled at me for doing a takedown wrong. I had a meltdown & broke down in tears in front of the class cuz I've barely eaten in 6 days. Shed 12 pounds this week. Just real drained.
Prop update: Got staked to play $5 Sit n Go's [a one table tournament] on FTP. 5 hours of play, up a few bucks.
4 days till I'm homeless again.
Jared tells a story and hatches a plan while working at his new job:
RelaxedPrecision: Today, this big husky girl with linebacker shoulders came in2 my job today to buy shoes...size 11. She looks exactly like a man. She had this big lady with her who told me the size 11 girl liked me. So I gave her my digits. I hope she calls me soon. If she calls me I'm going to try & seduce her & go live with her. Wherever she lives, I'm sure there's plenty of food.
Over the next few hundred posts the mood of the thread becomes caring and many people are asking Jared about his current lifestyle. He tells the thread about his struggles with permanent housing, a bad back, hunger and employment. He posts photos of his car (where he sleeps) and a video of him dancing at work. Jared reveals intimate parts of himself and his passion for writing and music. He also posts that he has encountered problems with substance abuse and has been sober for a while. The trickle of small donations from posters becomes a steady flow:
JeReMyHaSSpoKen: pm me western union or paypal And ill ship you some cash
Greeson08: Jared, hit me up on Skype. Sending $11.11 via FTP.
A month after Jared creates the BBV thread, March 9th, Jared posts the long awaited video of him hugging strangers that Ccuster_911 requested. Luckily, the video is still on YouTube. Here is the link. At this point he fittingly reveals his name is Jared Huggins and his nickname in school was Huggy. His fans love the video and let him know:
Doomriders: amazing nice job brothaa
cds0699: Very amazing vid and I wish you nothing but the best
Talking Poker: Video is awesome. Thread is awesome. You are awesome.
And he really enjoyed the experience:
RelaxedPrecision: I was surprised by the number of people who literally RAN into my arms.
It was a day & an experience that I will never forget.
If you enjoy the video half as much as I enjoyed making it, I'll be happy.
He tells 2+2 more about his life:
RelaxedPrecision: You guys reaching out to me is very much appreciated. I've had my fair share of obstacles in life. Born in a crack house, father died when I was 9, mother is an alcoholic, one brother a heroine addict, the other a crack dealer who was beaten and left for dead and never fully recovered his mind.
Last year ran bad at life...lost my job, ripped my meniscus in two places, had a terrible reaction to prescription stress meds..etc etc. I ended up living in my calosing contact with my family... cuz my cousin is hooked on muscle relaxers & vicodin and it hurts too much to watch people I love hurt themselves.We all have challenges, and obstacles. Life is tough for everybody.
I'm healthy, normal, moving in a positive direction
Jared’s birthday comes on the 12th of March and many posters wish him a happy birthday. At this point the donations from 2+2 posters continue and totals $1k. A few weeks later and Jared posts an amusing and NSFW story about living in a car. It’s long and not essential to the story so I won’t quote it. Read it here.
Jared thanks the community again:
RelaxedPrecision: I've never had people care about me like this before, let alone strangers.
From the bottom of my heart I would like to thank all of you.

The Big Game

Poker TV was very popular in 2010. The WSOP and other TV shows were broadcast across America and other countries. Pokersites were very keen on poker advertising appearing on TV, it was a very effective way to promote online poker sites. Full Tilt sponsored and regularly advertised on Poker After Dark. Full Tilt is even included in the show's title, which for a time prompted players associated with Pokerstars to stop appearing on the show. Pokerstars did not have as big a presence on TV as Full Tilt and they wanted to change that. How better than creating their own show? They would be able to have a majority of Pokerstars pros on TV and have players wearing their advertising patches.
Thus, Pokerstars created The Big Game. The Big Game was a televised cash game [a cash game is different to a tournament, the players' chips represent cash explained more here] with a novel concept: each episode featured a loose cannon. The loose cannon is a recreational player, who is given $100k to play 150 hands of high stakes poker. The loose cannon gets to keep any profits from their session and the biggest winner from the season also gets $50k in NAPT tournament entrance costs. Any Pokerstars player is welcome to try to become the Loose Cannon.
The line ups consisted of some popular pros who have a lively table presence like Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth and Tony G. It also had some of the strongest players of the time like Ike Haxton and Phil Galfond. Joe Stapleton made his debut on the show as an announcer. He who would go on to do a great deal of poker commentating over the next decade. Each episode aired on The Fox Network and Pokerstars.tv.
In the same BBV thread Jared started, one of the posters has a bright idea:
MasterWolf: I think you should apply to be a Loose Cannon on the Big Game. I know you'd get tons of 2+2 support, plus, you are awesome at making videos.
One of the Jared’s strongest supporters on 2+2 takes a keen interest in this idea:
John_Wray: THIS! Is this something we can make happen? I don't know anything about the process.
Others agree:
Rusemandingo: Would be amazing.
AyinHara: for the producers of the Big Game, this is an easy one. snap it up!
King Fish: PokerStars Steve was looking for 2p2 recommendations awhile ago. I sent him a text nominating OP but have not heard back. I suggest all of you PM him, and point him to this thread. Would make a much better story than anyone on here, and he has the video to back up both the story and personality already shot.
But how can Jared apply to go on The Big Game?
Pokerstars run several tournament qualifiers for The Big Game on Pokerstars. These are details taken from The Big Game website:
There are free-to-enter Big Game Round 1 satellites running four times a day. Finish in the top 300 and you’ll advance to Round 2. Make it into the top 1,000 in a Round 2 tournament and you’ll get a seat in the Big Game Final Round qualifier. All players that finish in the top 200 in the final will be invited to send PokerStars a casting video, telling us why you think you should be on TV’s best new cash game show. Impress us with your video and you’ll be heading off to Las Vegas to star on the show as a Loose Cannon qualifier. Once the video is posted, people will vote on the their favourite video.
The freerolls are popular and attract about 5000 people for each round 1 freeroll. Jared would need to finish in the top 6% of the round 1 freeroll then he’ll be in the round 2 freeroll, he would need to finish in the top 15% to qualify for round 3. In round 3, only 200 qualify to make a video. The round 2 and 3 qualifier only ran once a week so Jared had a limited amount of attempts.
John_Wray starts a new thread in support of Jared being considered to be a loose cannon on The Big Game. Within 24 hours the thread has over 400 posts, most of them people putting down their support for Jared to be on The Big Game.
Boosted J hears of Jared’s story and posts in the petition thread. Boosted J is the screen name of Justin Smith, a skilled professional player. Boosted J offers Jared a potential job, poker coaching and access to his private mental coach. Boosted J would go on to get Jared in a Dr Dre video as an extra.
At this point RelaxedPrecision is one year sober and life is looking good for him. He posts a video rapping about overcoming life’s obstacles. Daniel Negreanu notices and tweets about his rap:
RealKidPoker: Homeless guy Jared Huggins rapping about being sober 1 year, powerful lyrics. Guy has an amazing story to tell.
John_Wray reports that Jared has already started playing the freeroll qualifiers [a freeroll is a free to enter tournament]:
John_Wray: Jared's in a hotel tonight grinding the freerolls .
Jared is ready to play all four round 1 qualifiers on days he had free:
RelaxedPrecision: Going to grind as many of these things as humanly possible.
RelaxedPrecision: I got out my schedule for the month, there will be for sure be days coming up where I will play all 4 first round games.
Support pours in:
CrazyNL: awsome man gl
NomoneyHU: I'd like to wish you good luck man , i'm currently watching your video. Happy that things is going your way from now! I hope that you do qualify for the PS Big Game and ship all the manies.
Sump: I hope you win this and double up on Big Game, ship the NAPT Passport
People start to watch him play and offer him advice. Jared found the journey hard at times:
RelaxedPrecision: Watched guys ship all in preflop with 72o for 4 hours straight. I get an above average stack, get it in with 10 10, run it smack dab into KK. And encountered his fair share of bad beats: RelaxedPrecision: Survive that, get it in with. 58 on a 8s7h6d flop vs Js7s, turn and river are spades, and it's time for a cold shower. lol
[Here he is saying that he feels the other players in the tournament are not playing well but he feels when he played well he felt he was unlucky]
Jared starts a new day of round 1 qualifiers, ready to play all 4.
RelaxedPrecision: Fresh day of freerolls starts in 20 minutes. Playing more aggressive today. Feeling optimistic.
He starts playing a round 1 tournament qualifier and is doing well. He’s getting closer:
pokernutssss: 322/379! 79 to go GL jared
John_Wray: just fold into the win now. you've got enough chips
MicroRoller: Congrats! 1 down 2 to go.
RelaxedPrecision: YEEEEEEEEEEHAW!!!
Feels good to be out of round 1. Just gotta find a way to run good [getting lucky]!
The next day, Jared enters round 2 and plays this hand in the middle stages:
Poker Stars Freeroll No Limit Hold'em Tournament - t500/t1000 Blinds + t250 - 9 players
BSKid (BTN): t47500 M = 12.67
bones_522004 (SB): t119200 M = 31.79
tanwaruw (BB): t59200 M = 15.79
carlo 1959 (UTG): t1500 M = 0.40
mydream4u (UTG+1): t16200 M = 4.32
berdootim (UTG+2): t47150 M = 12.57
dickblow (MP1): t1750 M = 0.47
Life Guru (MP2): t42350 M = 11.29
Jared Huggins (CO:) with 6s6c : t9300 M = 2.48
Pre Flop: (t3750)
4 folds, Life Guru raises to t2000, Jared Huggins raises to t9050 all in, 3 folds, Life Guru calls t7050
Flop: (t21850) TcQh7s (2 players - 1 is all in)
Turn: (t21850) Jh (2 players - 1 is all in)
River: (t21850)Jd (2 players - 1 is all in)
Final Pot: t21850 Life Guru shows 8dAc (a pair of Jacks) Jared Huggins shows 6s6c (two pair, Jacks and Sixes) Jared Huggins wins t21850 [Jared plays well and wins]
RelaxedPrecision: **** yeah
But then falls:
John_Wray: ugh. You played great though.
After Jared asks about poker training sites, Taylor Caby pops into the thread to offer Jared membership to his training site: CardRunners:
Green Plastic: Hey Jared,
if you'd like to try out CardRunners for free shoot me a PM, I'll have someone set you up over there.
After making a few deep runs in the round 1 tournaments, Jared has several round 2 tickets and is putting his newly found membership to good use:
RelaxedPrecision: Won 3/4 round 1 tournaments today. Now I have four round 2 Tokens saved. Watching Cardrunner.com videos all day tommorrow, and grinding more freerolls
A few days later and Jared makes the final round of freerolls:
Amnestia: gg, jared, good luck in round 3 Isitdur?: It would be the sickest rags to riches story ever if you got on The Big Game, Jared. I really hope you do it. Good luck in Round 3 I will be railing along with all of your other supporters!
Jared registers and plays a round three qualifier tournament and encounters this hand:
Preflop: Jared Huggins in MP1 with AcKc
UTG bets t1200, Jared Huggins raises to t3000, 1 fold, MP2 calls t3000, MP3 calls t3000, 4 folds, UTG calls t1800
Flop: (t14250) 3c6sKs (4 players)
UTG checks, Jared Huggins bets t10000, MP2 calls t10000, MP3 calls t1950 (All-In), 1 fold
Turn: (t36200) Ac (3 players, 1 all-in)
Jared Huggins bets t25000, MP2 raises to t26050 (All-In), Jared Huggins calls t1050
River: (t88300) 4d (3 players, 2 all-in)
Total pot: t88300
Results: Jared Huggins shows AcKc (two pair, Aces and Kings). MP2 shows Js9s (flush, Ace high). MP3 shows KdTs (one pair, Kings). Outcome: MP2 won t88300 [Jared plays well but get unlucky in a large pot and is out of this round 2 tournament]
Jared is out and continues to grind the qualifying tournaments. A week later and he registers for a round three freeroll and is going deep. A fan posts his position:
MasterWolf: Current Stats: 81,262 chips. avg: 142,959. position 247 / 348. Top 200 get in
Jared gets closer…
MasterWolf: 44 left. he's got 7th shortest stack in tourney. BUT HE CAN DO IT! Go Jared!!
Jared wins a key pot:
Jared gets increasingly close but is very shortstacked [doesn't have many chips]:
The railbirds [players who watch online poker] watch on:
__27__: Never been so happy railing [watching] a freeroll, this is some crazy ****.
Hard bubble and the tournament goes hand for hand [this means there is only 1 player left to go out, when they do all remaining players qualify for the video round]:
MasterWolf: 1 person left
Jared posts. He has qualified!
RelaxedPrecision: I can't believe this is actually happening.
Jared has done it. With the full support of his fan base Jared is one big step closer to getting onto The Big Game. The posters go crazy in his sweat thread and dozens of people congratulate him.
Afterwards, Pokerstatic interview Jared and he opens up about his difficult upbringing and life. Link to summary here.
Jared is very popular on 2+2 and has a keen fan base but not everyone likes the attention and donations Jared is getting. Later on a Jared opposition thread would be created. Here’s an example of opposition towards Jared:
Lchampag: Its just the way everyone here is completely giving this story all their faith. Just reminds me of those old people that get scammed is all.
I work in the coal mining industry. Pay starts out at around $20/h for the first six months(for"red hats") and then goes to around 25 after that for a general laborer. There are men hired at my mines everyday, come and get a freaking job! I guess this work is too hard for those that would just rather get handouts...
Some people were upset he was getting so much in donations. In 2010 he received $6k from 2+2 members. Jared’s fans respond with posts like this:
Srkbigdaddy: i dont know why people would bother posting in a thread that actually has a ton of heart with their snide and rude remarks. obviously its okay to post your feelings but if they are not gonna help the situation then they are pointless. you are basically just stepping on someone who is down
John Wray gives an update on Jared and his health:
John Wray: Jared is seeing his therapist again, and has just moved into a new place. He's very happy with it as it is within his price range and his landlord is a former deacon. They plan to attend services together on Sundays.
His bad back is still a big problem, one that needs to be addressed immediately.
Grayson Physioc also known as Spacegravy on 2+2 is a SNG [Sit 'n' Go, a one table tournament] crusher who fought his way from from microstakes to highstakes [A common story for skilled players to deposit $100 on a pokersite, fight their way up the ranks and turn it into millions]. He arrives in the thread and offers to fly Jared to Maimi and coach him, Jared flies out and posts this from Miami:
RelaxedPrecision: Spacegravy flew me out here to Miami to learn Sit N Go's, I'm totally blown away! He is an A+ human being! Haven't gone to the beach, haven't gone sight-seeing, haven't gone anywhere, just straight up grinding poker. Grinding as much as possible!
While in Miami, Jared’s mind is on making the best video he can to ensure he gets onto The Big Game. John_Wray helped, by the 28th of October it is finished and posted.
Jared’s Big Game Audition Tape
November the first rolls by and the audition tapes of all the qualifiers are uploaded and ready to be voted on. Jared is looking good and is in second place with 1.1k votes.
2nd November and Jared returns from Miami. He’s up $800 on SNGs from his time playing and getting mentored by SpaceGravy.
The weeks pass by. People can vote on one video per day so Jared’s fans are visiting and voting as much as they can:
8Nilor: Voting everyday btw. and got others to also.
The thread builds with excitement. With so many fans in the poker world Jared is sure to be selected to go on The Big Game. In December, Jared posts that all is going well with him. He has two jobs and a room to stay in. Jared gives a few updates:
RelaxedPrecision: When I'm not at work, I am working on my game everyday, grinding 50NL 6 max deep on Stars, going over hand histories, and getting coaching when I can.
[50nl deep is a type of poker played with 6 maximum players on the table buying in for $50-100]
2011 begins. In January the voting closes and Jared can only wait.
And then the news that Jared and many 2+2 posters have been waiting for is here. Jared notices an email from Pokerstars. He reads the news from Pokerstars about The Big Game.
He receives the results and rushes to 2+2 to share the news:
RelaxedPrecision: I got an email from PokerStars informing me that I was not selected to compete as a Loose Cannon on next season’s PokerStars Big Game. I wasn’t given any specific reason why I wasn’t selected, but I was thanked for trying out.
TwoPlusTwo.com, thank all of you for supporting me and showing me love. To be loved was a dream come true for me. I'm convinced that love cures most illness.
Jared was not successful. It's crushing news to the community. All their efforts spent helping Jared onto The Big Game was for nothing.
The community reply to the news:
AlienSpaceBat: Wow, Jared, I'm really sorry to hear this
Isitdur?: So bummed to hear this news, Jared.
2ndUnit: I am very, very disappointed of this decision by PS. Don't let it bring you down Jared, keep going.
A few weeks pass and there’s not much news from Jared. He settles back into working and improving his situation.

It’s all over

Jared had not made the cut for The Big Game.
But it’s not all bad.
Jared is in a much better position than he was a year ago.
He has a roof over his head and steady employment.
The past year was a crazy ride for him and he’s made many friends from 2+2.
His poker skill is improving and he has top players coaching him.
But no one predicted what would happen next month.
In the middle of February 2011, a Pokerstars representative dropped into 2+2 to post unbelievable news:
PokerstarsSteve: The seven Loose Cannons scheduled for the July 2011 showing of The PokerStars.net Big Game are:
Gonzales Cannon II - Sacramento, CA
Courtney Gee - Vancouver BC
Jared Huggins - Los Angeles, CA
Massimiliano Martinez - Rome, Italy
Cari Bershell - Las Vegas, NV
Kenneth Hrankowski - Vancouver BC
Anton Dunyushkin - Moscow, Russia
Jared Huggins is confirmed to appear on The Big Game Season 2. This is shocking to the community because there was no knowledge on 2+2 that he was even considered for season 2. The community erupts:
TayWolf55: GO GO GO GO GO Jared!
Almost exactly a year after living in his car and making his BBV thread he has the shot of a lifetime for fame and fortune.
But first, Jared needs to prepare for the biggest shot of his life.
Jared dedicates four months to preparation for going on The Big Game. He plays as much online cash game poker as he can. He has access to a training site and receives free coaching from top pros. To simulate The Big Game he plays 50,000 hands of 6max deep online [6max deep is the poker format played on The Big Game] and even plays tough opponents who would drop down in stakes to play with him.
In 2011 he makes three trips from LA to Las Vegas to practice and get used to live play. He practices chip handling, breathing and getting comfortable going from online to live. He reads Caro’s Books of Tells and would sit at the lowest stakes while studying every player closely. He never parties on these trips, just play and study.
He watches all 72 episodes of The Big Game Season 1 and analyzes every hand. While watching he would have seen Season 1’s biggest winner, Bob Ferdinand, win $181,500 and $50k in NAPT tournament entries.
In this time Jared remakes his Free Hugs video and once again, wanders LA shores with a sign and offers free hugs to the public. Jared uses some of the money from this video and donates $1k to charity. Reshot video here
The line up for The Big Game is announced:
Seat 1: Jared Huggins
Seat 2: Nick Cassavetes – A recreational player. Cassavetes works in the film industry.
Seat 3: Barry Greenstein – Poker legend known for his ‎Philanthropy
Seat 4: Vanessa Selbst – An aggressive and skilled player. Won NAPT Mohegan Sun Main Event back to back.
Seat 5: Antonio Esfandiari – An accomplished player who would go on to win The Big Drop for $18m next year.
Seat 6: Prahlad Friedman – An experienced cash game player. Played under Spirit Rock and used to crush online games
Reserve: Phil Lakk - An entertaining professional player.
There are certainly some tough opponents on this table. Fortunately, Jared has a recreational player on his left [at the poker table players on the left are more likely to apply pressure than players on the right. Because Cassavetes is a recreational player he should be applying less pressure on Jared than a pro].
The community reacts:
blackjacki2: hard lineup
J0hny: Best of luck to you !
Then the day of filming arrives. Jared drives to Las Vegas to play in the biggest cash game of his life. He’s had months of training for this one moment. Hundreds of people on 2+2 are following his progress and Jared will soon be broadcast across the USA playing with seasoned professionals.
Now, the story is almost at an end. You have three options on how to consume the finale:
  1. You can watch all four episodes of The Big Game to see what happens, links below. When you are finished watching, click the spoiler box below and read the end of the story.
  2. If you don’t want to watch all 4 episodes then I’ve posted some timestamped links of Jared’s biggest hands, I’ve linked one hand per episode. There are 12 minutes of clips. When you are finished watching, click the spoiler box below and read the end of the story.
  3. If you don’t want to watch any Big Game then click the spoiler box below and read on. [If you want to watch some of The Big Game it may be a good idea to watch this video I linked in the introduction again]

Full Episodes

Full episode. 1st episode
Full episode. 2nd episode
Full episode. 3rd episode
Full episode. 4th episode
Full episode. 5th episode

Highlights – Jared’s Biggest Hands

Jared Hand 1, watch from 35:00 - 37:28
Jared Hand 2, watch from 35:00 - 36:45
Jared Hand 3, watch from 39:40 - 42:10
Jared Hand 4, watch from 10:15 – 17:10


Jared did not end up profiting on the episode. He played until hand 126 of 150 when he ran his QQ into Cassavetes’ KK. Jared doesn’t hit and is off The Big Game.[KK is the second best hand in poker and QQ is the third best, so it was unlucky for Jared to get QQ and another player has KK. However, Jared was playing poorly and too passively in other hands in the episodes]
Posts from 2+2 were mixed, many posts in the thread were not kind towards his play. The community criticized some of the hands he played:
Jazzed23: the dude played like crap. No 3 betting, no bluffing, no floating and turn barrelling. he was playing scared and tight. Blew away $25k just by folding.
cobrastatus: How could this guy... get so much free coaching... and be so terrible...
trip_kings12: what a waste of a week for this show. Jared, the loose cannon, was almost unbearable to watch. I doubt I've ever seen a tighter, more scared loose cannon in all my years in poker.
[The posters here are saying that he was playing poorly and passively]
One fan posts this:
LolDonkamentz: I'll admit I was kind of disappointed with the result of this. I enjoyed all the build up and was really excited for this to be the climax of the Jared Huggins saga but it wasn't to be. His awkwardness at the table combined with his below average performance made for bad television
And Jared replied:
RelaxedPrecision: To you and others Donkamentz, sorry if I wasn't able to do my part to entertain you. It's a big show with lots of people on it, so I don't feel solely responsible for your entertainment, any more than I feel responsible for not hitting a huge hand. Thank you for caring about how I did.
Most of the posts were neutral or negative but there were still some positive posts:
kevmode: Gl to you in the future Jared. You are a nice guy, just block out the negative and think positive.
So, what happened to Jared after The Big Game?
After The Big Game, Jared stopped posting so much in 2+2 and he slowly faded from posters’ minds.
Shortly after The Big Game, he posted a post show reflection where he thanked the community, he spoke of how he enjoyed playing with the pros and his heartbreak after busting. He wished he had talked more and played some hands differently. He finishes with a final thought:
RelaxedPrecision: I'm happy and grateful for what this journey has been. I made some amazing friendships, saw amazing places, and had my dreams come true. I had amazing experiences, that I will never in my life forget, memories that I will always look back upon with a smile.
In 2012 he posted this post where he shared his battles with health conditions and how he still plays poker.
In 2016 he posted this in a thread about poker in developing countries. He wrote about living in China for 9 months.
Original Threads:
HU VS a drooler, lost my "roll"
**Petition to have Jared "RelaxedPrecision" Huggins for PS Big Game
**The Jared Huggins 'Big Game' Sweat Thread
Jared Huggins Big Game Trip Report-Thank You 2+2
submitted by GiantHorse to HobbyDrama [link] [comments]

Anhedonia has ruined my will to live !!! I can't take this anymore, this is hell on earth !

First to start this off, I barley have any energy to type this shit, but I'm going to try to explain, how I feel. Man I am 20 years old, I would of never knew in all my years of being alive, that a human being could reach this point of emotional numbness and emptyness. I totally fucking regret saying I want to be an adult. When I was a child, I use to be able to find so much joy in video games, I use to love making rap songs, I use to love playing basketball, I loved getting out of the house, as I type this I just want to cry 😟, but I can't even cry, I'm so numb I can't even cry. But now at the age of 20, I mean this when I say it, I literally can not find a drop of joy, entertainment or stimulation from anything I put my mind too. Every single thing I try feels so empty, it feels dead, I feel dead inside, gaming doesn't spark any type of interest anymore, I can't write a single lyric when I try to rap because it simply feels lifeless, I can't even finish a fucking YouTube video without feeling empty and bored out of my mind. I am extremely fucking fatigued every day, sometimes I feel as if I'm in a dream, my brain feels so fuzzy, I feel brain dead, everyday feels like a repeated cycle of hell. I wish Anhedonia didn't exist, this is so much fucking torture, it's so fucked up that something like Anhedonia even exist, I'm literally a fucking walking zombie, a empty dead zombie, nothing brings me any type of pleasure. I could win a billion fucking dollars and still feel like hanging myself. Does Anhedonia ever end guys, does it 😔😔😔, I'm only 20, I can't live the rest of my life feeling empty and dead, I'll rather just die now, does this end !! ? What does a 20 year old do to stop Anhedonia, I don't know how to cure this shit. I don't even know how I got it. It probably was the fucking antidepressants these fucking lying bastards of doctors gave me. I bet they just give us pills and tell us they will work, but they probably fuck us up more and these companies just make more and more money. The world is evil, I can't take this Anhedonia life anymore. How do I regain joy in life, I'm running out of hope, I'm on the verge of killing myself if this doesn't get better 😔. I feel like I'm psychically alive on earth, but I'm not really living life, I feel dead inside, and my parents and friends don't understand. It's like I'm watching life from a glass window, I watch everyone else enjoy their lifes and find joy in the smallest things, but I just watch behind this window wishing I could feel joy, wishing I could feel alive, I'm 20 stressing like I'm 50, maybe it's best to kill myself, Anhedonia will never end. 😔
submitted by wishiwasdead23 to anhedonia [link] [comments]

AITA for getting upset that my mom said the n-word, despite the fact that I was the only one who would have heard it? (We're both white.)

Me (24) and my mom (50) were listening to some music, when the song Juice by Lizzo came on. The part of the lyrics I'm referring to go as follows:
The juice ain't worth the squeeze/ If the juice don't look like this/ Hold up, n-word, please/ Don't make me have to take your bitch
After this part of the song played, my mom said, "I don't like when they say that." I said, "What?", not understanding, and she said, "N-word." It was with an -a, not an -er, just to clarify (not sure if that matters).
I was extremely shocked that she would actually say that out loud, but she got very upset. She said that she did not use the word to hurt or harm, nor in a racial way, that she bets many people sing it, and she was just quoting the song exactly, because I asked. She claims that normally she would have filtered the word, but because she was in her kitchen and I was the only one who would hear it, she thought it would be fine. I said my filter of deciding whether or not I should say the n-word doesn't depend on where I am or who I'm around. I just wouldn't say it at all, because I'm white. She said, "Okay, Miss Perfection."
I told her that I understand the context in which she said it, but maintained that regardless of the context it still wasn't okay. Additionally, I explained that from listening to the opinions of many black people both online and in person, I've learned that the reason black people use the n word is a case of reclaiming a slur to take power away from it. Lizzo is a black woman, she can say it. My mom is a white woman, she cannot. My mom says she didn't know Lizzo was black, which I... struggle to believe. Also, she could have said "the n word," and I would have understood what she meant, but she chose to say the actual word.
My mom said I overreacted, that I attacked her, and that she hates that word and would never use it against another person. I believe her, but I also pointed out that if she was so vehemently opposed to the word, she wouldn't have said it.
She said I was making her feel like a terrible person when all she did was answer a question I asked. She also asked me to delete the texts because she was "sure I would use them." For some context on this, she knows I vent to my friends about my family and the way I'm treated at home, which she hates and has asked me to stop doing. I think she just wants me to stop because she doesn't want anyone to know the things she does. Protect her own ego and reputation at the cost of me absorbing all the hurt. I actually haven't told anyone about this (aside from this post), but I also haven't deleted the texts despite saying I would to get her off my back.
I understand that the context, but my issue is that she said it at all. Is that justified? Does the context matter?AITA for getting upset at my mom for using the n-word, even in that context? Also, AITA for lying and not deleting the texts?
submitted by ventred to AmItheAsshole [link] [comments]

[5E] [Themed Build] I am the Unicorn Wizard!

If only you all understood how excited I am to be presenting this to all you lovelies!
Before we begin, I must start this off with a disclaimer. To make it easier to read each point, I'll number them. What can I say? I like the numbered format!
  1. Yes, this is a joke song.
  2. No, this is not a joke post.
  3. Yes, this serious build is a joke that gets taken to far.
  4. No, this is not the most optimized build in the world, as that is not the intention of this build.
  5. Yes, there are multiple dump stats on purpose, partially for comedy and partially for a challenge.
  6. No, this is not a test drill, Private.
  7. Yes, this meant to be a bit of a goofy build.
  8. No, this is not meant to be taken seriously.
  9. Yes, this is still a serious guide and build.
  10. No, I'm not responsible for how your table responds if you bring this to said table.
  11. Yes, this guide does contain links that go to other places on Reddit, as well DnDBeyond for the character sheet at the end of the post, but not to any affiliated links of any capacity.
  12. No, they are not spam links.
  13. Yes, some of them direct you to Youtube.
  14. No, there are no Rick Rolls in this guide.
  15. Yes, I am being serious about the Rick Roll.
  16. No, this is not reverse psychology.
  17. Yes, this build is a choking hazard.
  18. No, this build is not meant for younger readers.
  19. Yes, this is a build I wrote up just because I enjoy writing silly builds that are still actually builds.
  20. No, this isn't really intended to be anything other than a fun build that I wanted to write up and share with the world.


About a month before posting this build, I threw together a revised version of another build I did a long time ago...and by long time, I mean almost one year. Within that revised guide, I left an encrypted message. The message was a hint that this build was on it's way, but I do not believe anyone deciphered it in time. That's okay, you can still try and decrypt the code here if you all would like to!
For the uninitiated, this is based off of a song released on the 25th of October, in the year 2012. The band who preformed this wonderful song goes by the name of Ninja Sex Party. In case you haven't heard the song before, you can find this masterpiece riiiiight...here! Really, you should go watch the music video, but I will not link it here for the sake of showing less potentially explicit content in the thumbnail, since that's not something many people would probably wanna see here. Look, I'm trying my best here, guys and gals!
Now, I have a theory about this build, and it may seem controversial, but stick with me to the end and you'll see what I mean. So, here it is...
I think, by RAW or by most of the LAW and by some of the LAI, that the Unicorn Wizard is obviously not a real unicorn (duh), but he is also not a real wizard.
I do not think he is a Bard either. While the person playing the character playing a character is the musician, as well as the character playing the character, the Unicorn Wizard himself is not a musician, but a concept formed within the dream of a real musician playing a joke musician playing a Unicorn Wizard. Not confusing at all, right?
So, here's my theory: the Unicorn Wizard is actually an Arcana Cleric. Not just a standard Arcana Cleric either, but one with a 3 level dip into Open Hand Monk. Like I said, you gotta stick with me to see how I came to this theory.

I Don't Know What We're Talking About

Originally, I was having a lot of back and forth on what this build should be in the first place. I eventually came to the conclusion that I would get nowhere if I didn't set down some basic guidelines for myself.
Firstly, we need to make sure we uphold and follow the LAW (Lyrics as Written), in order to make a build that supports the RAW of 5e for the sake of making a build that rocks. In order to turn this build up to an eleven out of a possible five, we're gonna RAW dog the LAW, dog, and that is no LAI.
Secondly, we need to compare to the music video, sticking to the representations within the video itself. For example, while singing the lyrics "Just like Danny Sexbang, I'm handsome and strong," we can see the Unicorn Wizard barely able to lift anything, so even though the LAW would say that he should have a high Charisma and Strength scores, his Strength is absolutely a dump stat. We'll touch on his ability scores in a bit.
Thirdly, Imma cheat a little. The actual name of the musician is Leigh Daniel Avidan. Said musician plays a character named Danny Sexbang. Said character is imagining himself as the Unicorn Wizard in a dream. By this logic, they are simultaneously all different people and the same person all at once. You bet your sweet derrière that I'm going to exploit the living heckers out of this logic.

Let's Get This Terrible Party Started

Stats. This is were most of the controversy is going to come from, and there are absolutely better ways and options you can go with this stats, but I don't care. You do you, boo.
Here's how I build it, using Point Buy: 1. Str - 8 2. Dex - 15 3. Con - 15 4. Int - 8 5. Wis - 15 6. Cha - 8
Again, these are clearly suboptimal stats. Three dump stats? Seriously? But here's the thing: in order to stay true to the nature of the Unicorn Wizard, I think we have to look at the way he presents himself and the feats he achieves. So, let's begin.
Strength: As explained a few paragraphs above, clearly not physically strong.
Dexterity: "My spells are amazing, and my reflexes quick" pretty much sums it up.
Constitution: Insert stamina joke here.
Intelligence: "I'm more awesome and smarter than I already are" is clearly bad grammar, showing off just how lacking in Int he is.
Wisdom: "My spells are amazing, and my reflexes quick" once again sums up the fact that he does have at least one good mental stat.
Charisma: Not only does he fail to get the attention of a woman, but when he does she nearly throws up. The character dreaming of the Unicorn Wizard also has a mother who doesn't even like him, sooo...


So, like all character builds, when we get into the meat of things, we start with the race. I actually had more trouble deciding on race than I thought I would. Would I make him a Minotaur and reflavor it to a guy with a horn? Should I wait until Saytr comes out (which it finally did on DnDBeyond), and reflavor that race? Maybe a tiefling, or something else?
In the end, I decided that I didn't want to nor needed to reflavor anything. Variant Human would work fine for what we have in mind. The reason for this is twofold:
  1. Multiple times throughout the video, we see and hear that the unicorn horn is either a prop, or is his junk, and not an actual horn. He also calls his junk a "wand" at the end of the video, so for the sake of the build, we'll be treating the horn as a prop item.
  2. We want that starting feat so that we can not only give a bit of optimization to the build, but to add flavor to it as well.
We will take a +1 into Wisdom and a +1 into Constitution. Before you ask about putting a +1 into Dexterity, you'll see why in the class portion of this guide. For Languages, I like Celestial or Sylvan, since Unicorns can understand and (telepathically) speak both. Your new stat array should be as follows:
  1. Str - 8
  2. Dex - 15
  3. Con - 16
  4. Int - 8
  5. Wis - 16
  6. Cha - 8
For the feat, we choose Magic Initiate (Druid). For VHuman Arcana Clerics, this is a very common and standard practice. For the spells, we will be taking Shillelagh, Magic Stone, and Goodberry. Shillelagh is gonna make us seem more awesome and more stronger than we already are, and I like to imagine Magic Stone as a pathetically over exaggerated excuse of a "comet of stars." For Goodberry, you must make sure that your DM and party know that the Goodberries are in fact strawberries covered in cream.

Why I Cry

Let's skip Classes for now, since that'll take the longest to explain, and get on with Background. For this, since as explained earlier, I think the Entertainer Background is the best choice here. See, remember how I said I planned on exploiting the exact nature and identity of the Unicorn Wizard? That's exactly what I'm gonna do here. We're taking the fact that the Unicorn Wizard is a dream persona of Danny Sexbang, who is himself a musician. So, in a sense, his Background would be Entertainer.
I chose lute as the instrument of choice, since it's the closest thing 5e has to a bass. Just make sure it is a blue lute. Other than that...I got nothing else on the Background, kid.

Road Trip

Here's your opportunity to stop reading if this guide got too amazing for you.
Finally, the Classes. So, why the 17/3 breakdown? If we're already investing so many levels into Arcana Cleric, why the Monk dip? Everyone knows that taking so little levels in Monk won't give us that much Ki, so what's even the point? It doesn't do too much for us, and prevents us from getting a free use of Divine Intervention. What's the deal with that yo? What's wrong with me? Am I crazy, or dumb?
But seriously, there's a few reasons why we take this dip. The first and major reason is the LAW. See, in the video, we see a few things about the Unicorn Wizard...
He is a master of karate. So much so, that he invents a new form of it every day. It even changes the way that Japan views the West. That does not mean it's a positive viewpoint, hence the low levels...also, we see that he does not wear any armor, and he uses a staff. He cannot cast spells through the staff as a Cleric if my knowledge is correct, so he has to use that staff for SOME reason. Shillelagh is that reason, yes, but it surprisingly synergizes well with Monk. We will have plenty of options with our bonus action, but not so many that we will be BA dependent or be neglectful in the rest of our action economy.
Next, the mechanical bonuses. So, we do not get TOO much from these levels, but we do get a couple of nice things. Firstly, a bonus action attack, and the ability to also use McFlurry of Blows. Yes, we already have quite a few spells that use our bonus action, but those take spells slots. If you need to reserve those precious slots for any reason, it's good to have a back-up. That, and the utility granted is pretty nice. We can stun, deflect arrows, knock people prone, or simply take away their reactions for a bit. Sure, you don't get a lot of juice, but we can still absolutely find some mileage when playing these out carefully.
As for why we only take 3 instead of 5 is for a few reasons. Here's the deal: you'll probably never take this build to level 20. Realistically and logistically speaking, it is very unlikely. The level 20 build is moreso a courtesy thing anyways. But if you do get this hot mess to level 20, and you're mostly spellcaster, you will want access to 9th level spells. Besides, who'd make a build that is mostly spellcasting based, but doesn't have access to higher leveled spells?! Insert Seinfeld music here.
But I digress. The point is, you're gonna get those 3 levels of Monk before you get to level 17 in Cleric. Heck, if you know you're doing a shorter campaign, or simply want a bit more gish in your life, I'd even suggest taking anywhere from three to five levels of monk, preferably after Cleric level of either 5 or 8, depending on how soon you want another ASI/Feat vs how soon you want to kick gum and chew buttocks.
So, here's the leveling paths I would advise:
  1. If you're doing a Tier 1 campaign, stick with Arcana Cleric all the way through.
  2. If you're able to get to Tier 2 in your campaign, I would suggest you get your 3 Monk levels after 8 levels of Cleric, but that's only if you plan on going past this tier.
  3. After your Monk levels have been picked up, return down Cleric for Tier 3.
  4. If you somehow make it this far, enjoy your Wish spell while you can in Tier 4.
Also, when we get our the chances, we wanna grab Warcaster for gishing, and Resiliant (Dexterity) for good saves and a +1 to Dex. This'll make our stats now look like this:
  1. Str - 8
  2. Dex - 16
  3. Con - 16
  4. Int - 8
  5. Wis - 16
  6. Cha - 8

Mystic Crystal

I won't delve too much into spells, but I feel I should address a few of them.
  1. Spiritual Weapon. I like to depict as a giant phallic looking Unicorn Horn.
  2. Spirit Guardians. Comets of stars.
  3. Planar Ally/Planar Binding. You have two fiends that you know the true names of, a pair of hellhounds known as Tinkles and Gary.
  4. Heroes' Feast. "You bring forth a great feast, including magnificent food (strawberries) and drink (cream)."
  5. Guidance. This is to help you make sure your three ability scores at 8 aren't too detrimental in the skills department.

Party of Three

So, we already discussed how we will get our hellhounds, but we need to talk about the ninja sidekick, the legendary, the deadly...Princess Handj-...uh, well, you know, maybe not gonna say that here. So, the chances of you convincing that one player who always picks Rogue to name their next character like that for a single long-term bit are slim. But, if you are able to get your hands on the Essentials Kit and get the chance to use the Sidekick rules, just grab an Expert. Have fun!

Objects of Desire

Now, equipment. This is tricky, because we obviously as a player can't choose our magic items, if we even get any. For that very reason, most builds don't take magic items into account unless the player is given a limited number of items of their choosing, usually in a one shot or battle royale. But, let's be real here, are you really going to use this build in an actual campaign? Plus, I felt some of these magic items were fitting.
  1. Ring of Shooting Stars. "Riding for justice on a comet of stars."
  2. Staff of Striking. "Hand me my staff..." This'll help boost are melee awesomeness.
  3. Cloak of Displacement. "...and my cloak..." Will also help with combat.
  4. Magic Jug. "...and my horn...and that thermos of soup. I'm hungry but also thirsty, and you can kind of like eat and drink soup at the same time. Let's go!"
Now, there are some magic items that I think are important. First off, your spellcasting focus. So, we will be taking a reliquary, and will be flavoring it up a bit. So, by the definition of the word 'reliquary' on Merriam-Webster, it is "a container or shrine in which sacred relics are kept." Now, technically the Torah could be classified as a real world sacred relic, and since the original performer is himself Jewish, it got me thinking...
As fans of D&D, we all have heard about a Lich and their phylacteries. But have you ever actually looked up what a 'phylactery' is? Going back to our good friend, Merriam-Webster, it is "either of two small square leather boxes containing slips inscribed with scriptural passages and traditionally worn on the left arm and on the head by observant Jewish men and especially adherents of Orthodox Judaism during morning weekday prayers." Another word for this would be 'Tefillin,' which specifically holds passages from the Torah.
So, and spellcasting focus for our cleric who is using a reliquary specifically flavoured to he worn on the head. As we've seen at the very beginning of the song, the horn is not actually attached to the Unicorn Wizard, it's an accessory. Yet, he can cast spells through the horn, since it's where his power "comes from." Yes, this is a looong stretch, saying that we are using a white unicorn horn shaped tefillin. I apologize for anyone who may be offended.


So, unless I missed something, that should be about it! Hopefully this was enjoyable to read for you lot, and with luck I didn't offend anybody in any way. It was a lot of fun writing this up, but this isn't something that should be done often. You don't even know how hard it was for me to stay within the limits of Rule 6, which I think I did pretty well at!
TL;DR - ...Just, look at this crappy build and read up. It's about a Unicorn Wizard who is neither a unicorn or a wizard.
submitted by Ein_Gunnhildarsson to 3d6 [link] [comments]

A Deep Dive into Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson's duet 'Scream' for it's 25th Anniversary


1991 Michael Jackson releases his studio album Dangerous after spending two years in the studio writing and creating material searching for a newer type of sound that "would be as compelling as Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation ". The singles "Black or White" and "Remember the Time", released in 1991 and 1992 respectively, were huge smashes, however the following 7 singles released following those songs from 1992- 1993 were all considered commercial disappointments.
1993 Janet Jackson releases janet. , the follow up to her commercial and critical juggernaut Rhythm Nation 1814 (which you can read all about here ). Janet. was released after Janet signed a recording contract for an estimated 40 million dollars making her the world's then-highest paid musical act. Janet. set the record for the highest first week sales for a female artist at the time and had the lead single "That's the Way Love Goes" go #1 for 8 weeks making it the most successful chart performance of any member of the Jackson family.
In the summer of 1993 Michael Jackson was accused of sexually abusing a 13 year old. In August 1993 Michael cancelled the third leg of his Dangerous World Tour citing health problems arising from the scandal. In 1994 Jackson reached a financial settlement for $23 million dollars with the Chandlers, with the Chandlers declining to cooperate with a criminal investigation of Michael. This resulted in Michael losing several high profile endorsement deals and his overall commercial standing. Michael also got married to Elvis Presley's daughter Lisa Marie which was a global news story in 1994.
Janet was always very skeptical of collaborating with Michael prior due to wanting to be recognized on her own without seeming like she leveraged Michael's popularity for her own success. With Janet's star reaching supernova, achieving widespread artistic credibility and able to finally successfully disassociate her public image from her family and Michael's star falling, the playing field was finally even for a collaboration to happen.

Making of the Song

Once Michael asked Janet to do a song with him and Janet agreed, they reached out to Janet's go to producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis were asked by Michael to work on HIStory and would usually call in Janet "for inspiration". They presented 5 beats to Janet, with her saying the beat that eventually became her single Runaway was her favorite, but told them Michael would not agree and that he would want the beat that became Scream. Janet was right.
Jimmy Jam and Terry met with Michael in his apartment, put the beat for Scream on and wrote his part of the song in an hour. Janet, Michael, Jimmy and Terry later on went into the studio to start recording the vocals. This is what Jimmy Jam had to say about the first recording sessions
“When Michael went into the studio, the idea was that he was going to sing it first and then Janet would go in and sing after him,” Jam recalled. “So Janet’s sitting there, me and Terry are sitting there, and Michael goes in. Before he sings, he’s just real calm and quiet, 'Can you turn my headphones up a little bit?' Then all of a sudden the music comes on and he starts dancing around the room, hitting all his signature moves.
When it was over, I swear to God, it was just silence in the room. He said, 'How was that?' We’re like, 'Yeah, that sounded really good.'” This caused a bit of problem for Janet who had planned to follow him into the booth to record her vocals. Instead she decided she'd do her vocal later in Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis' Minneapolis studio, away from her brother. “So we go to Minneapolis with Janet, where she does a great job on her vocal,” Jam continued. “We send it to Michael, he goes, 'Wow, Janet sounds great. Where did she record that vocal?' I said it was in Minneapolis. 'I’m coming to Minneapolis.' So Michael comes to Minneapolis to re-record his vocal, and it was a real glimpse into his competitive nature. It didn’t even matter that it was his sister.” According to Jam, 90 per cent of Michael's vocals on the finished version was taken from that original New York session.
The recording process continued to be intense with Michael's perfectionist and competitive tendencies Jimmy Jam recalls
“We’d spend a day just on the volume of the handclaps. I mean, literally,” he explained. “And we’d turn them up and he’d say, 'Okay, I’ll come back tomorrow and we’ll listen to it again.' We come back the next day, and he’d go, 'Can we turn that up just a little more?' Yes, we turn it up. 'Okay, make me a tape.' Okay. 'I’ll come back tomorrow and we’ll listen again.' I mean, it was literally like that.”
Eventually when the song was done Michael invited everyone associated with the production of Scream for a listening party at Neverland with Janet noticing something about the final version of the song. Jimmy Jam stated
'Janet called, and she said, ‘Jimmy, have you heard the mix of ‘Scream’ they put on the master tape?’ I said, ‘Yes, what’s wrong with it?’"
"After hearing the new mix they put on the masters, it was clear someone had gone in on Michael’s behest and turned down Janet’s vocals, because they were now lacking their original power.
"So I said to Michael, ‘This isn’t the right mix.’ And he said, ‘Oh really? I didn’t know.’
"But I think he knew – there was just a real element of sibling rivalry.'"
Lyrically the song is all about refuting the tabloid coverage Michael was receiving; along with Michael expressing real rage at all of the "injustice, schemes, pressures" done to him by the media. The song released on May 31, 1995 being the first release by Michael since the settlement and the media frenzy that occurred for years following it. The song became the first song to debut in the Top 5 in Billboard Hot 100 history and was a worldwide success despite the song leaking 13 days before release and the media predicting it would flop.

Making of the Video

Incase you have never seen the music video you can watch it by clicking this
After Janet and Michael chose director Mark Romanek (who later went on to direct Janet's Got Til It's Gone Music Video) to be in charge of the video he had just 7 weeks to plan it, shoot it, edit it and finalize it. Mark spent 2 weeks planning the video, with Janet and Michael spending 1 week shooting the video (which is absolutely unheard of due to the costs. Most music videos are filmed over the course of 1 - 3 days maximum) and then 4 weeks to edit it. Mark Romanek said in an interview:
“I got on the phone with the head of the record label and he had seen the budget and was apoplectic,” Romanek said. “He started screaming at me on the speakerphone, “do you think I'm the fucking Bank of America? Are you out of your fucking mind?” I said Michael and Janet want something huge, you've given me no time to do it, the song brings to mind images of a spaceship and if Michael Jackson has his own spaceship it's going to be really impressive. There was this dead silence on the speakerphone and then I heard (puts on soft voice) ‘yeah, that's right’ and I realised Michael was in the room on the other end of the line which I didn't know. From that moment the record executive guy knew he was pretty much screwed.”
The music video was incredibly futuristic and used advanced effects never seen before. The concept was about both of them getting away from Earth and exploring different environments on this spacecraft. Michael and Janet also worked together with their respective choreographers to create a routine that incorporated both of their styles, Michael's being "more soft and subtle" and Janet's being "more hard hitting".
The Music Video made it's premiere on MTV & BET, and again the next evening during ABC's interview with Michael Jackson that was seen by approximately 64 million viewers.
You can watch the 16 minute Making of Scream Music Video special done by MTV here if you are curious to see and know more

Impact and Accomplishments

Further Reading

You can find and read all my Janet Jackson write ups here <3 which include:
submitted by JunkyGS to popheads [link] [comments]

My journey of getting to know SHINee as a baby Shawol (Pt. 1 and 2) - Replay, The SHINee World, AMIGO and ROMEO

Hey there!
As of late I have been delving into the SHINee world, so I would probably consider myself a baby Shawol now. I'm pretty late to the party, but rather late than never!
I shared my first experiences on kpopthoughts and many people over there told me that I should post over here as well, because they thought my fresh thoughts and experiences might be fun for you too and that you might have some more intell and suggestions for me :)
Just for your information- before I wrote all of this, I made a post about how Key used to have some kind of power over me, even when I didn't knew him at all then.

This is a cross-post of my two posts over there, so please don't mind that I just copied them (because I am sitting on my third review to celebrate Onews return from his military service). I would love to hear your thoughts as well (if someone is interested enough to read all of this)! On another note- I really don't know if my flair fits ^^"
So here we go:

Pt. 1
Hello, it's me, the girl who made a post gushing about Key.
Some of you said there will be no escape for me, so I'm not even trying to, but diving in head first.
After months of thinking about it, I finally decided that I should explore Shinee a bit more, since I only knew Replay, View, Odd Eye and Everybody well before.
The only reason that made me hesitant was Jonghyun and my fear of falling in love with him without a chance to ever appreciate him how he deserved it. But I thought to myself that I would rather get to know and love him -even if it might hurt- than never be able to experience this mans beauty and artistry.
I just watched a little guide on them and am now ready to delve into their music.
So this is my plan: I will listen to all their albums chronologically to get a sense of their roots and of their growth. I thought my fresh expercience and reaction to their songs might be interesting to some Shawols (or other people who still hesitate to get into Shinee) and that's why I'm posting this here. Just fyi, I don't know anything about music theory, so this will only be my personal opinion.
I'm planning to make my reactions to each of their albums a seperate post, so I guess I'll be here for the long run.
Each post will include the innitial reaction that I first had when listening to each song. I will then proceed with my thoughts of some live stages, probably the comeback stage as well as the b-side of each era and a newer performance of these songs (if I find them). Naturally I will include links of the stages I saw.
Lastly I will deduce who -in my opinion- did the best in each era (and I will try to not be biased towards King Key).
So anyone who reads this should be prepared for very long posts.
Before I start with my album "review" of The SHINee World, I would like to ask any Shawols how I can get to know the members better. I'm happy about anything- you can recommend me guides or your favorite live stages as well! Give me anything or rather everything. And should I also do the same for their solo albums when the time comes?
Now onto my reactions to the songs.

1. The SHINee World (Doo-Bop)
First listening:
First of all, before listening, the title of this song reminded me of that song of this American boy (/kids) group that consisted of brothers (I'm not American, so I don't know who they are, I just heard a snippet of them on some German TV show once).
So this song is nothing like I expected it to be! I thought it was going to be upbeat and happy-go-lucky, but no! I was greeted with some sick beats! And they are sooo the 2000s, I love it. This is something I would've listened to back then if I knew they existed (my 9 year old self liked Hip Hop movies back then). Jonghyuns vocals were a stand-out in the beginning. Later, I immediately noticed how they referenced a line of REPLAY, very interesting since both songs are such a contrast of each other. Onew and Jonghyun were so great, Jonghyuns bridge was chefs kiss. Also- now I know where that meme of Minho ("My name is Minho) comes from. God bless.
2. Love's Way
First listening:
So this is some kind of ballad, huh? Pretty singing from the get-go, but the beat is somehow throwing me off? Their voices and the melody of their voices are pure bliss though. Oh my god, the run that Onew did! Yes, that was my thought while hearing it.
This is a very chill song. The raps contribute to this vibe.
Oh, I love the part after the raps. And then they ruined it with the robotic voice processing and then they saved it again. This is a roller coaster ride. They brought the robots back... please stop.
3. Love Like Oxygen
First listening:
I already know that I will like this, the beat is exactly my style. I like how powerful their voices sound in this one after their softer voices before. It gives me the feeling that there is actually a reasoning behind the order of songs, like the album is really meant to be heard in one sitting.
I really like the instruments they use in the chorus and once again their voices build the melody, not the backtrack. I love how the bass is their base for this song. Until now, it's definately my favorite until now!
I didn't know this had a MV, so let's see!
The choreography with the chairs is pretty neat! It's not very common anymore (right?), but some other groups back then did it as well if I'm not wrong. The dance definitely made the song even better to me!
I can't say much about the MV itself, since it's mostly dancing and close-up shots. But this is really a song to groove to imo.
Newer performance:
Oh, the suits! End me! Wow, Taemins visuals are shocking me this time! How could I not notice in all this time? Btw- I would let Jonghyun fire me any day. I'm not kidding. And they finally let me see Onews hair, he looks so good!
They all exude this sexy energy now... How? AND WHY DID TAEMIN SMILE THE WAY HE DID AT THE END?! Don't test me!
4. Romantic
First listening:
Ugh, please... don't be cheesy, And again... The adlibs saved my impression of the first beats. Now I actually like it, the guitar is nice. Now it's not cheesy anymore, just a pretty song. I would love if a guy would play this for me. The guitar makes me feels this way. Onews voice is really shining again (if it's really him). Jonghyuns adlibs are my new life fuel as well.
I really like the contrast that Keys deeper and nasally voice has, it's very different from the genius main vocals.
Romantic might have replaced Love Like Oxygen as my favorite song for now. I think I'll return to this song in the evenings when I get ready to go to sleep. It's relaxed, but still fun.
I just enjoyed the rest of the song, so there is not much to say anymore...
5. One For Me
First listening:
A chill song again, I like it. This song really gives me nostalgia of the boygroups back then, even if I don't remember too much. Their soft "hah" is really nice, it adds to this relaxed atmosphere... she said while one of the main vocals spat powerful adlips.
On another hand, it's a guitar beat again... and I like it... again. The adlibs are on point again, or rather like always. Nice to listen to, but I still kinda like Romantic better. But this is only my first listening, things might change.
6. Graze
First listening:
Another chill song with a guitar beat. This is pure bliss, why are they doing this to me? They are starting of with beautiful singing once again. End me please. This time the raps don't feel as forced anymore as well. Jonghyuns and Keys harmony is great! I love me some harmonies!
The raps aren't as forced in this song anymore, but I like the singing better, sorry Minho, sorry King Key.
Their singing is god tier.
7. Last Gift
First listening:
And now a piano beat... How did they know?! I love these... While listening to this song, I remembered the intro. Funny how the rest of the album is mostly chill and vocals based until now.
I won't lie, I'm not a big sucker for ballad, so I don't think I will place this one in my regular playlist, maybe in the "I'm depressed" one.
I don't think I have to mention their vocals again. But Onews pretty vocal color still catches me off guard sometimes.
8. Best Place
First listening:
This is totally a vibe song to chill to... again. Oh, I like the melodies they create with their voices. I guess this is a SHINee thing, I already like this song a lot better than Last Gift (like I said, I don't really like ballads in the beginning, they have to grow on me). The playful piano is right up my ally as well. I actually like the little raps in the background as well!
This song also gives me those nostalgic vibes of the time back then... It's a nice and relaxing feeling.
Now in the end, it kind of feels like acapella because of the voices that over-layer each other.
9. Y Si Fuera Ella
First listening:
Okay, I take back my statement about ballads. This one has taken my soul already. Everything is pretty. I love pianos, I love the voice (is it only Jonghyun?).
For some reason it reminds me of the Ballads in Mamma Mia. This is totally my style. It's kind of dramatic as well. Y Si Fuera Ella really has that musical feeling. Wow, I'm blown away. I can totally imagine the lead role running up a hill in distress or something.
And now after being dramatic, it returns to this homely melody. Yes. I really get those Mamma Mia vibes. I guess I will be the only one though. Also- this reminds me of sitting in my grandparents' kitchen for some reason... sometimes the songs their radio played had a similar feel.
I think I am already attached to this song, because it reminds me of so much of my childhood. So great! Y Si Fuera Ella is now my favorite song of this album.
Live Performance:
I'm blown away. He just fills up the stage while just standing and singing there. Why am I even saying "just"? He just cast some kind of spell on me.
Wait- he dropped on his knees! Dramatic screaming? Wait, He was shot?! I told you! This song is for a musical, his acting is insane!
I can just say... this is what you call a legendary performance...
10. Four Seasons
First listening:
To be honest, I don't expect much after Y Si Fuera Ella. The vocals are really nice again and this song is like a break from the emotional roller coaster of the mentioned ballad.
I actually don't have much of an opinion of this song... It exists. For me it's the most forgetable until now. But I can't expect to love every of their songs. It's also their debut album, sooo...
11. In My Room
First listening:
It seems like this is another ballad. I at first thought it was a solo for Onew, but then Key appeared. I am kind of confused, but it's okay. Once again, I'm not a ballad person, but I can enjoy some good violins and voices. Probably another song for my sad playlist. The last line was soooo good.
Other than that, I don't have much to say again...
12. Replay
Actually not my first listening:
I have been waiting for this! I absolutely love Replay! A bop! It makes me so happy, because it's so fun. I was actually introduced to this song by TXTs performance of it and Replay immediately caught my attention. I checked out the original and loved it even more.
I don't know why I like it so much, but I can say: Those powerful voices, once again! Yes please!
The song structure is so much fun as well! It's not repetetive but catchy and that's hard. Definitely the best debut song I ever heard!
After listening to an album of mostly chill songs, it was so refreshing! Replay is song of the century (SOC), thank you.
I won't say much about the MV either, because I already saw many parts of it, but this is the first time seeing it as a whole.
First of all- cute. Second of all- Taemin dancing after the girl... funny. This is meme-worthy stuff. That's some Michael Jackson shit, my boy.
So I guess they are all after the same girl... adults and a literal 14yo. I could laugh, but I won't. Because it's 11pm over here.
Oh and now they are dancing with hearound her... wholesome.
That's my take on this lol
Live performance:
So this is their debut stage - I'm excited! Omg, the introduction has me wheezing! The voice, The English!
Oh, they all look so young and cute! I love the dance as well (at least what I saw until now). Taemins smile melts my heart, such a baby.
So they did live vocals back then, I dig it. The outfits are kinda cringy, but still okay. Except Onews fedora, burn it before he tips it.
This stage is very different from debut stages today... I kinda like it better. Now everything has to start of epic, so I really love this fresh feel of their Replay debut stage. They all look really happy to be there, it's so cute. Also- Taemins face while he did his "solo dance"... It screamed "I'm a prince and I know".
Newer performance:
Aw, the throwback to their debut stage is so wholesome!
Okay, how can I like this live version better than the original even in the first 10 seconds? Ears, please explain yourselves! Their singing must've gotten a lot better, I don't know any better explanaition for this!
I love the outfits! Taemins cap and hair, Jonghyun as a whole! Damn! But why do SMs stylists to put hats on Onew? I wanna see hair god dammit! Minho is a real snack, I can lie. I won't talk about Key, because of... reasons.
The remix of the song is nice as well!
All in all, this is such a nice stage! They seem to have a lot of fun and their vocals are on point as always! I bet this stage is really special to some of you guys! :)
Oh no, Jonghyun was crying in the end :(
The last lines... sooo beautiful when they sang along with their fans. I'm soft.
Now I will have to end my first journey into SHINee world, because I'm tired and overwhelmed.
In conclusion I was surprised of the album itself. I thought it would be very different. In my thoughts it would've been a lot more of Pop like Replay, but I got chill songs and a masterpiece of a ballad!
My personal top 3 songs until now are: Replay, Y si fuera ella and Love Like Oxygen (Replay and Y si fuera ella are just god tier, while Love Like Oxygen is.... king tier?)
Who caught my attention this era: Jonghyun. He is such a good vocalist, who sadly doesn't get mentioned as much as he should be when discussing top vocals. After that probably Taemin, he was just so cute.
My bias: Still Key, but who knows what might happen...
Thanks for bearing with me! Let me know any suggestions or criticism, your own reactions... anything!

Pt. 2
Hello guys, I'm back!
After all of your nice feedback and recommendations I'm even more motivated to delve into SHINees releases. For anyone who reads this and hasn't read my previous post yet, I'll include a link for it (there you can read how I'm planning to go through this journey and how I reacted to SHINees first full album).
As a little update:
After my second listening, all songs have grown on me a lot! I already included Graze, Y Si Fuera Ella, Love's Way and Love Like Oxygen in my regular playlist. I bet some other songs will find their way there as well! My innitial reaction of Y Si Fuera Ella has only grown stronger. I genuinely love this song and it really is like a musical song now that I read the lyrics. It's so dramatic, but in the best way possible. The SHINee World is stuck in my head now btw... It's some kind of love-hate relationship between us. I don't dislike the song... I would just rather have Y Si Fuera in my head (which is the other one stuck in there with Graze and Romantic).
I watched three live stages yesterday, including Keys performance of Born To Shine (thank you to the person who recommended this, it changed my life), Taemins performance of Replay and a live performance of Graze which all were recommended to me.
It was like some demon possessed Kibum... his smile during this stage might be my end (but I realized that I like natural make-up the best on the contrary). How did the girl survive this?! I really like the song as well, I'm just still shook :') More of this please.
Taemins stage was very sweet on the other hand :) I really love how he changed the instruments up in this one, I like trumpets a lot! Also- He looks so ethereal with blue contacts, I've not seen anyone pulling them of as well as he does! And he really dances similar to Michael Jackson sometimes, huh? Cool!
I really liked the choreography with the chairs in Graze, just like the user who recommended this specific stage to me! Once again, I can only praise SHINees live vocals! That's king behaviour lol. And can someone explain to me why Keys English is so good? I need to know! And, wow... Minho is so good-looking. His exposed forehead... more please... for research purposes.
I watched SHINee visiting Weekly Idol and The Knowing Bros as well. What I learned from those two episodes:
Taemin is actually the one in charge (evil maknae) and he is rutheless when it comes to meat. Also his reactions to Heechul teasing him are so funny! (On a side note, Heechul was so handsome in that episode!)
Minho is appearantly annoying (according to Doni and Coni) and he's so competetive! A true athlete, I was like this for a long time as well. His cringy video from the past really was... cringy. I genuinely hated it lol
Key can fluently speak pout (and I'm here for it) and seems really witty in Weekly Idol. I sadly don't remember much of him from these episodes :( Just that my eyes were drawn a lot to him (and to Jonghyun). To me he is just so cute (even when Born To Shine has proven me wrong).
Jonghyun is seriously handsome and TXTs Taehyun resembles him a lot imo. I also love how he just has no chill with Doni and Coni. I will never forget Jongmi, even if I want to. Her broad shoulders are to die for lol No wonder all the guys want her, she's so strong!
Onew is so handsome as well! I'm sorry that I didn't notice it before! He seems to be more calm than the others in these episodes, so I took away from them that he loves chicken and can sit without a chair. The way he couldn't comprehend that he got beat at his own game was really cute and funny though.
Now to some new songs. Since I missed songs from their first mini album Replay, I will react to those before I continue with AMIGO (or rather the songs on there that I don't already know from SHINee world) and ROMEO.

1. Real
Oh, I already like this one! The mix of the violins and the electric beat is so interesting! And finally something fast paced that I can bop to. Yeah, Real is a fun song. I actually like the Raps as well! But that one line after the raps is probably my favorite of the song! Or I guess not, Jonghyuns adlibs again! Damn this man!
Real is the kind of song I would've expected on the same album as Replay. I dig it.
2. Love Should Go On
So this one starts off with Key rapping, not too bad. It seems like this is a song to shine for Key and Minho, until the main vocals open their mouths again lol
I really like the vibe when the chorus starts up, it's just.... pure vibe. Onews "love forever" line really is gold!
Yeah, Love Should Go On is more of a rap heavy song, that explains the vibe. I like this one, the mix of rap and vocals is good! I also really like funky beats!

First listening:
Wow, this one is really different compared to all their other songs until now! I guess it's supposed to be sexy when they mention the word so many times lol
To be honest, it's not really my usual taste, but the chorus with AMIGO really digs itself in your brain and I think this song has SHINees best rap parts yet!
You know, I already know that the lyrics of this song are cringy without even knowing Korean lol
Huh, so the MV starts off in black and white... Don't tell me that everything will turn colorful after Minhos and the girls eyes meet. Okay, It didn't what a relief. But I think she might've stolen his heart? If that's what the golden light is supposed to be...
Oh, is he chasing her to get it back?... On another note... I need more Key as the center of the choreo... thanks. Good stuff.
Their outfits with those "mirrors" on them are ridiculous in the best way ever lol. The MV somehow made Minhos and Keys raps cooler? I guess it's the gestures, but they were pretty awesome.
To be honest, I don't understand the MV lmao... Sooo... She stole Minhos heart (?) just to give it back to him when he catches up to her? Weird. But I like the song a little better now, so that's a plus.
2. Forever Or Never
This is so different as well! It's so fierce! Even though I don't like the processed vocals, their vocals in the line in between the choruses are so interesting! It's kind of like rapping and singing at the same time with this specific rhythm of singing!
I will have to listen to this one more to form an actual opinion though....

1. Talk To You
Talk to you starts with rapping again and I can't make a lot of the beat yet. But it's expanding and getting better, kind of like evolving. I'm just missing a nice melody to be honest. It's again their singing that creates it, but I'm the kind of person that really likes instrumental melodies.
That's why I actually really liked the bridge of this song! It's different from the rest od the song. And now I like the rest of the song better? That's so weird!
2. Juliette
First listening:
Oh, an electronic beat! The way the first lines are song remind me of Micheal Jackson again... And I really like the pre-chorus. Let's see where this goes... Oh! It's nice! Juliette is a little funky! The beat is just so 2009 lol.
I just really like the pre-chorus and chorus, so I don't mind how outdated the rest sounds! I feel like this is a song that I will really like after listening to it a few more times! Ooooh... The ending is sooo goood! I'm excited for the MV now... because it's basically a second listening lol
The set really fits the sound of the song, I'm not gonna lie. And why do Onew and Jonghyun have to pull these facial expressions? I'm still (kinda, but actually not) innocent! On the other hand... Jonghyuns hair... I won't say more.
Tbh, I kinda dig Taemins long hair though! And what's with me not understanding their MVs?! So now Jonghyun is meeting some girl and it's at a theme party with masks?
Oh, the choreography of the chorus is so pretty! Makes it even better!
WHAT IS THAT ON KEYS HEAD?! He looks like that dude... Saurons tounge in the extended edition of Lord of The Rings... WHAT?! Oh wait.... It's supposed to be themed after Indians, right? And those are glasses and not a mask... I'm confused.
OMG Taemins mask lmao. The kid is a transformer! Cuuute!
For a second I thought Minho wasn't invited because I didn't see him in his mask (or I just didn't notice), but he seems to get the girl again.
Until now it seems like in each MV all the guys want that one girl... Let's see if this will change.
3. Hit Me
The adlibs in the beginning are so good! Will Hit Me be a more vocal heavy song again? I like it's simplicity until now. Is the underlying beat a heart monitor? It only seems to appear in the chorus though...
This is a chill song for my evenings once again! I think I'll be able to relax with this one well. I like it! And the song fades away with the heart monitor, a nice touch. Let's see what I'll think of Hit Me in my next post, when I listened to it some more times.
4. Senorita
Senorita seems to be more hip-hop heavy, but the guitar somehow says otherwise. Again, a guitar is giving me life. And wow, the vocals in the pre-chorus are so nice! The chorus is my taste as well! I can nod my head to this. That's a good sign.
And the pre-chorus makes me excited again. I think is my favorite of this album yet... but I didn't like the flow of either rap :( wait. It's not that bad. I reversed the song and the second time the raps are okay lol
Ooooh, the last chorus is so cool! Senorita is a fun song! It will probably be in my playlist soon.
5. Please, Don't Go
The first ballad! Now I'm actually excited for SHINees ballads! Especially when they are simplistic with a piano. Wow, the vocals are heavenly... This is a really sad song, I can hear their emotions!
The chorus is so pretty! Wow! I really like this ballad! It could be such a nice OST for a dramatic scene of romance drama. Is this song only for Onew and Jonghyun? The chorus again... It's so good. Their voices work so well together!
I love the way they are so different and complement each other so well! Wow... An actual ballad that I liked at my first listening... Only Someday by Pentagon did this to me yet... Now that I think of it, these two songs are pretty similar (featuring the main vocals and heavy on piano and violins). Anyone who likes Please, Don't Go should check out Someday. Sorry, I'm done with my Penatgon propaganda.
6. Romeo+Juliette
A fun beat to start of with... paired with weird vocal processing. Good, that it's over, because now the song is really nice... and then they made Key a robot. Now it's good again lol.
WOw, I really like Onews voice! And I kinda like the raps! That's so nice!
I like it. Romeo+Juliette, a good song. I can't say much more. I'm enjoying it while ignoring the processed vocals. Because the actual ones are godly! I love the string instruments as well! Just... stop the robots SM, thanks.
I really wanna see a live performance of this one, so I can hear it without auto-tune! Can someone recommend me a nice one?
I'm tired again, so I won't do 2009, The Year Of Us in this post like I first planned to. So this will be the end of my second part of entering SHINee world.
In conclusion, all of these songs were completely new for me, so I didn't know or expect anything going into the songs I missed as well as the ROMEO album. The songs were very different then my first songs. A lot of ballads got exchanged with funkier or more technological beat- which is not bad at all, because funnily enough... I really liked the one ballad they did this time!
My personal top three of this post are: Please Don't Go, Senorita and Romeo+Juliet (this might be a subject for change in the future though)
My personal top ten out of all the songs I reviewed yet: (1 and 2 and 4 and 5 are interchangable, the rankings might change here later on as well)
  1. Y Si Fuera Ella (yeah... it's THAT song for me)
  2. Replay
  3. Please, Don't Go
  4. Senorita
  5. Love Like Oxygen
  6. Romeo+Juliette
  7. Graze
  8. Best Place
  9. Juliette
  10. Real
Honorable mentions: SHINEEE WOOOORLD
Who caught my attention this era (ROMEO): Definitely Onew! I really appreciate his vocals in all these songs. And Minhos eyes. Just the eyes lmao (Don't kill me, I'm kidding).
My bias: I don't even know anymore... Key? Yeah. Still him... The other guys though... But Key is still on top! He might never leave my brain after Born To Shine...
Thanks for reading my second part! Please give me some more recommendations for live performances and maybe solo variety appearances for each member, so I can get to know them better! Give me anything you want!
I'm excited for your guys opinions again, so until then-

That's what I already got. I will post my third review here as well if you want to! Bye!
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How to Sports Bet Part 2 - Point Spreads and Totals HOW TO READ AN NFL POINT SPREAD SIMPLY EXPLAINED What is Spread Betting? - Explained Spread Betting Explained: How Does it Work? The Point Spread Bet - Sports Betting Explained Series

Here’s a rundown of all the various bets in craps… (A) Pass Line. This is the basic bet that most players make, and it’s actually one of the bestbets on the layout, with a house edge of only 1.41%.Ifyou want an easy game then you can simply stick to this bet and ignore all the otherbets. Find the top 2020 NCAAF Matchups betting previews & odds for opening game odds, closing lines, betting trends, ATS results and more for college football. If New England is a -6 favorite then betting on the Patriots to simply win the game is going to cost -300, or a $300 risk to win $100. Or, just as in the baseball example, it’s an implied win ATS ("against the [point] spread"): If a team is 5-2 ATS, it means it has a 5-2 record against the point spread, or more commonly referred to simply as the "spread." Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker. I guess that is fitting from the point of double reverse irony, but meh it's all too darned average and I'm betting the smarties are all in the off world colonies, squished into their tiny cubicles, wondering how they got snowed by the 1%ers and their

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How to Sports Bet Part 2 - Point Spreads and Totals

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