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JoJo's Bizarre Adventure OC Tournament #5: Round 1 Match 12 Alexis and Cybil Vs Admiral Pineapples and Rudolph
“届けて, 切なさには名前をつけようか ‘Snow halation!’” The harpoon lodged itself into the Ocean Soul’s chest following a powerful toss from Pork Soda, the beast desperately trying to hit the tether to destroy it and release the harpoon, to no avail. The Ocean Soul had underestimated its opponents, who were currently singing some sort of song, perhaps a sort of war cry, meant to display their superior strength. “想いが重なるまで待てずに, 悔しいけど好きって純情” It had to do something! It released the Calamus Root in store within its mouth, ready to spit it out, before Sayonara Kodoku picked the Ocean Soul up, shut its mouth tight, and tossed it over to Pork Soda. With a thrust of its fingers, the porcine stand pierced the Ocean Soul’s eyes, blinding it. Then, the two stands rushed at it, sending forwards a barrage of blows, breaking bones, claws, and disorientating it, before getting ready for a finisher. Pork Soda picked the Ocean Soul up by its tail and began spinning around, the rapid movement disorientating the fish and sending it closer and closer to its doom. No, no! It couldn’t let this be! The Ocean Soul was a hunter, and even if its prey had gotten a leg up on it this time, it wasn’t going to give up! It could barely remain conscious under the pressure as the porcine stand spun it around, its already severe wounds getting exacerbated, but it had to do something! Just one shot! Just one precise shot and it could use the opportunity to escape, to recover! The porcine stand was spinning it around by its tail, so the Ocean Soul could calculate the stand’s position! It just needed to regain its bearings, focus on getting a shot aimed, and it could use its spit to- SLAM! With a brutal impact, the Ocean Soul was slammed into a nearby rock. It felt itself sinking in the water as the two stands approached it, its imminent doom coming closer and closer with every movement they made. It needed to escape, but it couldn’t bring itself to move. The two stands made their way towards it, floating above the ground as they loomed over the barely conscious beast. Was this going to be it for the Ocean Soul? “微熱の中 ためらってもダメだね, 飛び込む勇気に賛成 まもなく start!” Like hell it was. Gathering the little remaining energy it had, the Ocean Soul spat out the Calamus Root stored within its mouth, mixed with its saliva. Hitting the ground underneath the two stands, two long spikes quickly sprouted out of it and towards their bodies. Though Sayonara Kodoku’s tough skin didn’t get pierced, the force of the growing spike sent it flying into the air, incapacitating it, if only for a moment. Meanwhile, Pork Soda wasn’t as lucky as it, the spike piercing through the left side of its body, tearing through its left leg and shoulder. The Ocean Soul couldn’t hear anything from underwater, but it was sure that its user was reeling in pain right about now. Using the remainder of its energy, the Ocean Soul bolted away, desperately trying to remain conscious as it swam away from what it once considered its prey. It didn’t even look backwards, fearing that doing so would give its opponents the time they needed to finish it off for good. It didn’t even keep track of how far it swam, or for how long its opponents had chased it, or if they had done so at all. Its body was searing in pain, broken bones and wounds all over it. Eventually, it couldn’t bring itself to swim any further, losing consciousness and sinking down into the ocean, not even the searing pain keeping it awake as it began to rest. The Ocean Soul had lost, but this wasn’t the end of the beast. Though barely, it had managed to escape this encounter with its life. The results are in for Match 10. The winner is… ‘Agnes’ Bayley and Prince Cosmo, with a score of 80 to the Ocean Soul’s 60!
The word of the voterbase was clear: the vast majority felt that the Ocean Soul was handily defeated by the players.
“AAAAGH! GODDAMIT, STUPID FUCKING FISH!!” Agnes screamed in pain while clutching his leg, body strewn onto the nearest island, carried by Sayonara Kodoku. “IT STABBED THROUGH MY GODDAMN LEG!! FROM THE FOOT, TO MY WAIST, TO MY FUCKING SHOULDER! AAARGH, DAMMIT, WHERE’S JENNY WHEN YOU NEED HER!!” “You should be happy we got away with our lives. The Ocean Soul isn’t going to come finish us off any time soon after what we did to it.” “OH, REAL RICH COMING FROM THE ONE WHO DIDN’T GET STABBED IN THE FUCKING LEG BY THAT MONSTER. DO YOU WANT ME TO STAB YOU AS WELL SO YOU CAN SEE HOW IT FEELS?!” Agnes started rummaging around his surroundings with his right hand, searching for a sharp object to use for his “demonstration”. “Frankly, you deserve it. Don’t forget that you are the cause for this all. Were it not for your foolishness, Webb would still be alive, and this would not have happened to you.” Cosmo chided. “PFFF- WHATEVER!” In between his heavy breathing and pained cries, Agnes let out an audible sigh. “Fffffuck this, I’m gonna check my phone to see if there’s any connection here so that we can get the hell out of this place ASAP!” Agnes picked up his phone and pulled it up, taking a look at it. “That will not be necessary. There is no connection here anyways, and I am certain that a helicopter has been sent out to retrieve us, or at the very least ascertain what might have happened to-” “Shut up, I’m getting a message from Cairo. ‘Don’t worry, Agnes, we have sent your location over to Vitus, and help should arrive in about fifteen minutes.’” Agnes looked at his phone in confusion. “Vitus? Who’s that asshole?” “Vitus is the man who sent the helicopters out. The one which you indirectly crashed. Nonetheless, let me see that - I have a hard time believing that your phone is capable of picking up a signal when we’re so far away from any cellular towers.” “And why should I care about what you believe, huh? Here, take a look for yourself!” Agnes shoved the phone in front of Cosmo's face, the dog looking intently at it and seeing… nothing beyond a simple homescreen. “What is this supposed to be. This is your phone’s home screen, and though that horrendous chimera at its center is an affront to anything and everything I believe in, there is no notification here. Could it be that you are perhaps hallucinating from the pain?” “Wh- you can’t see it?! Don’t fuck with me!” Looking at the dog’s deadpan expression, Agnes could tell that that wasn’t the case. He looked over at the phone, spotting it right there, as clear as day - a notification for an sms from Cairo themselves, containing what he read out loud! “Fuck you, I’m not hallucinating! If anything, you are!” Cosmo was about to retort, when he spotted something over the distance - a sailboat. It was old and decrepit, seemingly having gone through significant damage and yet still remaining intact, somehow. It clearly didn’t belong to Vitus, and likely wasn’t Cairo’s either. On the boat, he saw a silhouette of a haggard man, but the distance meant that he couldn’t exactly tell exactly what he looked like. “Someone is coming.” It wouldn’t be much longer before Agnes and Cosmo were able to get back onland, learn what terrible things they’d missed, even if they still had a wait and a talk ahead of them. Left to nurse grievous wounds, this seaborne menace has seen this chapter of aggression momentarily closed, but further inland, the waters of a laundromat are being braved by a time traveler and a woman in chains. Scenario: Sound’s Garden Eastern Strip - A Golden Limousine The evening was beginning to set in, the lights of the islands of the area beginning to flash on and dot the sky as two women rode through the city, looking out through the windows as they relaxed in luxury. Cybil Antoine was one to travel in style, and now, with a companion in tow, was no exception. “A strip that absolutely comes alive at night… Makes me feel almost nostalgic for Vegas,” her redheaded travel companion mused as she looked out, “speakin’ of which… you ever play anything like that, Cyby? Cards, slots, so on. We could try Heartache Casino, maybe, if we have time sometime… I bet you’d just have to throw your name around to get up on its higher floors.” “It’s Cybil,” the wealthy woman emphasized, with an exhaustion begotten by this having been far from the first time, “or Miss Antoine… Either way, I am not a ‘Cyby.’ Get it right next time, alright?” “Right, yeah, I know you’ve told me… I’m just a nicknamer by heart. Cross my heart, though! It won’t happen again!” Alexis Williams seemed… As serious as she could get about something like that, as curiously carefree, even devil-may-care, as the performer could get. “Commit it to memory, then. Despite how much a fool you can act, I’m sure you know how much I had to pull to get you onto this stage.” “Believe me, I do appreciate it!” Alexis answered, focus now turned away from the topic of gambling and onto that. “Putting on a show at one of the biggest stages in Los Fortuna, bigger than anything I’ve done before… I know our group has had some bad luck lately, with Bucket causing that trouble down at the fish market, and how down on herself Leo has been since that dumb show she said she got roped into, but we’re still the freakin’ Judecca Highrollers, right? I want to show the world that, and from their box, I want to show the rest of our team that we’ve got no better option than to face it all with a grin.” “How very like you,” Cybil answered, neutral in her tone, careful not to betray the affection in such a statement as she pondered their current status, where they would be playing. Alexis wouldn’t be headlining, unfortunately, though admittedly, her act wasn’t the sort of thing that did that anyway. Rather, a certain piece of immensely beloved local talent, a rocking performer who went by TD/MD, would be having her play immediately before her at the Alexander Dickinson Amphitheater, just a drive over a rapidly approaching bridge away. Cybil had been a little annoyed that one of her statues had been overshadowed by a plane crashing near it, not to mention had a desire to spread further the local influence of their team, and so she had arranged with the heads of the entertainment industry of Los Fortuna to see to it that her personal favorite performer among the allies and associates she’d made was onstage at the best possible place for a person wanting to be noticed. She curled her lips at a cell phone which found its way to its hand, then, narrowing her eyes at its screen. “No word back from your backing band… Where are they? How inconsiderate not to send word on this, especially at how that Mr. Sins recommended them so glowingly.” “I’m sure they’ll show,” Alexis answered, “and if not… We can make do, can’t we?” “Of course,” Cybil answered, only to have her eye finally drawn back out the window by the sight of a vehicle which had pulled into the lane directly next to theirs as their limousine crossed the bridge. Another golden limousine was directly next to them now, this one almost pointedly bigger, longer, more decked out in jewelry, and it seemed to be headed exactly the same way. Cybil, rather than confused or alarmed at the coincidence, simply thought aloud, “that would probably be Mr. Sins… Speak of the devil.” “Amazing how quickly his casino recovered from nearly burning down…” Alexis mused aloud. “I heard that one of the people who trashed it sent him to the hospital, too.” “An overreaction I’m certain, from what I know about the man. Absolutely terrified of a little pain, a little elbow grease… I’m not one to gossip, but I can’t help but wonder how a man like him even managed to become so prominent, so consistently successful.” “Right,” Alexis answered, smirking and putting her finger up to her lips, “I won’t spread that around, then. I know how to schmooze with that type if the need arises.” Los Fortuna Canals - The SS Sledge Sister Admiral Pineapples was more comfortable on his own boat, but as far as the fleet of the Masters of Funky Action went, there was no real reason to send out more than one boat for this right now. “Man, I can’t believe nobody else is ridin’ with me,” his companion, Rudolf Pavlova, said after downing an entire bottle of water in a single gulp, on the tail end of an hourlong keytar solo. “The rest of the Masters better at least make it to the Alexander! It’d really bum me out harder than when Wrenn shot me down if none a’them made it!” Sorry, but I’m really more the headlining type! Playing second-fiddle to a man in a speedo opening for some local star sounds fun and all, but, I’d totally just overshadow them, I bet! So I should really probably stay out of it! That sentence, clear in its passive-aggressive scathingness, had put Wrenn Aflight’s declining of this gig pretty succinctly. As the man more or less everybody on the team could tolerate, listen to, and generally have a good time with, Admiral had been tasked with asking the other star performer of the team to join Rudolf on the gig he’d accepted opening up for locally beloved rock star and all-around idol TD/MD. Not wanting to break Rudolf’s heart, he more or less told him the short version, ‘he couldn’t make it,’ and then volunteered his own services for the younger man. “You won’t be out there with none of your allies, though, Nureyev! For I, Admiral Pineapples, will aid you in coordinating every moment of your work! This will be one of the worthiest usages of my tactical mind in a long time, I’m sure!” “I hope you’ve gotten those hour-long solos out of your system now, Nureyev,” Pineapples warned with an amused, lax tone, “you’re only going to have thirty minutes onstage before the headliner has to get ready, and there’ll be trouble if you bleed into that.” “I know, I know,” Rudolf answered, casually, as he slipped into an open-chested bathrobe mainly meant to function as the legal requirement of public decency until it was time to perform, “I’m not one to step on anyone’s toes, let alone the star of the show. Live and let live, yeah?” “I’m curious, though, and you never told me…” The Admiral asked, cracking open a beverage of his own and taking a sip, “how did you manage to get such a part as this in the first place?” “Oh, that’s simple!” Rudolf said, the thought to answer having simply not occurred to him. A few weeks ago - A beach in the Waterfront District. “Alright! Thank you, Los Fortuna! I’m here all day, and all night, and all tomorrow too, baby! Party never stops!” Rudolf had just finished the latest of his performances to a small crowd of beachgoers, shredding through the end of his one-man keytar rendition of 2112 and transitioning into a truly epic medley of the extended Family Guy, American Dad, and Cleveland Show OPs. As the crowd dispersed, a corporate suit-looking type of guy, bronze-skinned with neatly-groomed hair, remained, eyeing his keytar curiously and smiling artificially. “That was an excellent show, Mr… Pavlova, I think it was? You have such an undeniable energy about you that I can see when I lay eyes upon you… You’ve star material.” “Am I being poached?” Rudolf asked, tilting his head, “‘cuz I assure you, I am a free agent! Not about to be scooped up by some label and forced to chill out the party churnin’ out music I don’t feel in my soul.” “Nothing so abrupt, no… I’m a Manager, representing TD/MD. You can call me Thutmose. Anyway, she has a concert approaching rapidly, and we’re struggling and scrambling to find local, new talent and performers to open for her. We’ve managed to secure a lot of artists already, but the most important spot… Playing right before her… That, still, we have a particular need for, and I think you would serve it perfectly.” “So I accepted!” In the present day, Rudolf finished, “why not, yeah? I can spread the party to tens of thousands at one of the biggest venues in town!” “Scouted on the street, hm… That’s awfully lucky.” Something about this struck Admiral as odd, but he supposed it was all the more reason it was good he was backing his friend and ally up. He had a strong hunch there was more to it than appeared. Rudolf’s party yacht would disembark soon, ported on the central-most island of the places which made up Sound’s Garden, and the party would make their way forward from there. Sound’s Garden West Side - Outside the Alexander Dickinson Amphitheater At the same time, a self-important first step was taken out of a pair of golden limousines, one a heel clacking first out of it and a short, stocky woman in pinstripe emerging, the other dress shoes leading up to a tall, lean man in a gold and yellow tux, grinning and running a hand through his slicked-back hair. Cybil Antoine hadn’t had the “pleasure” of a personal conversation with Tigran Sins before, but had happened to overhear some of him during her meeting with that Thutmose man, and then and there, she had known everything about him, and knew that she had already had the displeasure of knowing dozens of men like him. Still, though, one needed to be cordial in times like this, so as Alexis came out behind her, and a very strongly built-looking, mean-looking man with brown hair and a nice vest, attached to the lapel of which was a Heartache Casino brooch (a bouncer? A bodyguard?) stood by Tigran waiting to see what he wanted or what he did, she approached the man who dared to try and be more golden than her Stand. “Mr. Sins, I believe… I believe we’ve crossed paths, briefly, but we didn’t really have a chance to speak.” The man tensed a bit, only to relax slightly again when he saw that Cybil intended only to speak. “Cybil Antoine, right? I’ve heard you’ve been making a hell of a lot of waves around town lately, so I must say I’m excited to meet you too.” He looked back past her, towards Alexis standing and stretching outside of her team’s limo. “Would that be your star you’ve got going on? Certainly she’s got charm.” “Hi, right in front of you,” Alexis answered, teasingly passive-aggressively waving, “yeah, I’m going up before TD/MD.” “She’s a very important star around here, you know… So you’d better put on a show that leaves them wanting for more of the best.” Tigran’s attendant spoke, then, sounding dead serious as he looked them over. “A lot of people have come here just for this, just for her sake… It is completely imperative you keep that in mind.” Tigran simply nodded, concurring, “couldn’t have said it better myself, Fox.” Shortly after that, the pairs went their separate ways, shifting through VIP areas of the area of the main structure of the amphitheater, series of comfortably shielded stadium halls that it was. “Still no sign of the band… Still no word from them either. I’m cross now.” Alexis, then, stopped in her trail, looking at a schedule which had been printed out and emblazoned upon a green room wall. “Uh, Cybil, you’re gonna wanna take a look at this.” “Hm?” Cybil raised an eyebrow, turning to face what her partner was pointing at, and then glared again. “Who the hell is Nureyev, and why are they listed at the same time as you?” “There’s gotta be some kinda mixup or somethin’, man… I know about this ‘Alexis Williams’ it talks about, and hear she’s a Vegas Performer, damn fine one at that who can really strut her stuff. But we ain’t in Vegas at all, so what gives?” Rudolf himself was gesturing at a printout version of much the same piece of programming, he and Admiral Pineapples having wandered much the same series of halls. “Hrm…” Admiral, now, took a look at the sheet himself, combing over the names before Rudolf on the list and speaking names aloud. “‘Arancini,’ ‘Tenacious-er E,’ ‘Guy and the Fieris’ Heavy Metal Barbershop Quarter,’ all as scheduled… What the hell? Yeah. We’re the only acts double-booked like this, and you say you don’t know this woman personally?” “Not in the slightest,” Rudolf said, “never laid personal eyes upon her! So maybe there’s a typo, yeah… I know! We could track down Thutmose! But, uh… Where the hell’s Thutmose right now?” A distorted voice shout-whispered, “I heard that he was visiting TD/MD’s green room.” “Huh? Oh, thanks!” Rudolf accepted that advice uncritically, beginning to make his way, but Pineapples looked, at least, in the direction it came from, seeing then flashes of a short-looking person in a maroon turban, face bandaged but mouth section bulging with something hidden underneath, and a pair of aviator goggles, as well as a tunic, trousers, and many bulky scarves adorned in the forms of climbing stick figures. Looking at the man, Pineapples couldn’t help but feel suspicious, but hell, there was a lot shady going on here. “Yes, thank you, Mister… Who am I thanking?” “No,” the figure answered dismissively, “think little of it… I’m just another interested party watching the show. If there’s confusion, then, I want to see it resolved fast! If you’ll excuse me, though, I need to make my way to my box…” “Strange man…” Pineapples shook his head, not wanting to leave Rudolf alone to deal with this strange situation. He knew from hearsay and rumor that there were some truly dangerous things lurking in the bowels of Sound’s Garden, and Rudolf, more heart than head, was bound to be barreling into it. Sound’s Garden - The largest and nicest green room in the halls of the Alexander Dickinson Amphitheater. Metra Doria sat before a makeup chair as assistants fussed and fussed with her hair, her face, her clothes, occasionally being met with polite thanks, compliments, or idle chit-chat, representing a sort of familiarity the team had had with the pale, short-dark-haired girl with a single blue streak through her front left locks. She stared at her own dressed-up eyes in the mirror, one silver, one blue and at once black-striped through the iris. As she sat here, initially clad pretty casually and low-key, she was Metra, but as the outfit she had selected was put together, she would become TD/MD. She was being cordial before now, but all of the small talk had ended as soon as her manager came into the scene, knocking, being invited to come in, and then doing so. “How’s the show going, Thutmose? I wish I could see Guy and the Fieris do their thing, but… Makeup, I swear.” “There’s… People insisting upon speaking, Metra. They’re performers, the ones before you, and they seem annoyed. I tried to shoo them away and tell them to work it out, but that only incensed the old-timers with them, and now they want to speak to you. I tried telling them it was a waste of your time, but-” “This close to going on?” Metra narrowed her eyes at the reflected form of her manager. Always, it was one thing after another with this guy. Though most of the time, one might assume there was something not worth it going on here, she knew Thutmose well enough to know there might be problems. She sighed, shutting her eyes now. “It had better be important… Let ‘em in.” And like that, a quartet of two twenty-somethings, a middle-aged woman, and an old man barreled in through the door at once, all talking over one another and expressing confusion with the other’s very existence and presence. It was making the half-prepared girl more uncomfortable than sitting in a chair for awhile just to get ready for a show often did, so she raised her voice, calmly but authoritatively, literally seeming to drown out their babbling in the process. “Quiet down, alright?! One at a time.” There was a little more whispering among the four, then, and it was the pinstripe-suited woman who stepped forward among them to speak the crowd’s mind. “TD/MD, I presume… This ‘Thutmose’ man, he has made a grave mistake in the scheduling. My associate Alexis here, and this half-nude man carrying a keytar around, they have not met before today, and they certainly did not intend to collaborate before you. Your manager has refused to listen to reason about this, so we are taking the matter straight past him to you… Resolve it at once, and we can be on our way.” “What?” Metra, facing them all, blinked, shaking her head and glaring at Thutmose. “Again? How does this keep happening? You overbook acts right before me, and it’s such a disaster I’ve started to need to allot extra time to cleanup guys after those sets… It was bad enough before, but it’s seriously getting out of hand, man. I can’t keep dealing with you if you treat everyone else you deal with like this. You’re done working with me. We’re through.” “B-but… But Metra..!” Thutmose was flabbergasted, looking almost terrified at the prospect. “Please, be reasonable..! I need this job, understand? I’ve got gambling debts, and-” “Whoa whoa whoa,” the keytarist (Rudolf, or Nureyev, according to the program) interjected then, “let’s not ruin a man’s life over me and Lexy here, yeah? I looked into the history of this place, the Alexander Dickinson… Named after a big dead deal Philanthropist, so basically a dude from the 90's who gave his all to culture in this city, funded all kinds’a stuff! Would a man like that want a man to be fired in his own memorial stadium?” The logic seemed to confuse nearly everyone there, not least of all Metra, whose response, after a moment, was, “Huh? You… Are you saying it doesn’t bother you?” “He’s saying that!” Thutmose pleaded. “I am certain he’s saying that!” “I don’t mind, either…” The redheaded Alexis said next, nodding and looking around at nothing in particular. “Yeah, I think we can work with that… The band he set us up with bailed on us anyway, right? So… Music might help, and it’s not like the things we do step on each other’s toes, yeah? So whatever, I’m sure we’ll still leave a bigger impression.” Cybil, then, pursed her lips. “If it doesn’t make a difference to you, then, and we’re all on the same page… But still, this is so very inconvenient.” “Agreed…” Pineapples looked to Thutmose. “Be more responsible in the future, aye? I think even if you keep your job right now, you’re gonna be on thin ice for now. And give up on gambling, if it’s sunken you this far.” Metra nodded. “Agreed. I can’t guarantee I won’t start looking for a new manager, but… You’ve been good to me, at least. Clean up your act.” Then, she looked over the quartet. “I’m seriously sorry about this… You say you had backup, but they’re not showing up now? I, uh… I don’t know what happened to whoever those were, or why they fell through, but I have something I can do to help both of your shows exist at once: six of the best stagehands I've got.” At that, the star snapped her fingers, and from the shadowy corners of the room emerged two trios, three men in a pose one well-versed on incidents in the early 20th century Roman Colosseum might compare to Awakening One’s Masters appearing before the Masters of Funky Action, three women in turn also sliding in before the Judecca Highrollers in perfect sync, stepping in with the coordination one might associate with, as a weird example, teenage mobsters jazzed about a dude being sent to the ninth circle of hell. All six were muscular, clad in black sleeveless shirts, leather gloves, pants, boots, and bandannas over their heads, and all around, they gave off auras of immense reliability. “Harry, Mark, and John, and Thorn, Dusk, and Luna… I kid you not, these guys can basically do anything and everything you ask of them. If they didn’t much prefer supporting other people to being in the limelight themselves, they would be as big as I am. Treat them well, they’ll learn fast, and they’ll be invaluable to making your bits work. But, uh… I’d hurry it up. Guy and the Fieris probably only have a couple more encores in them, and then you’ll have fifteen to set up. I wish you all luck..!” Metra Doria had been a bit of a miracle for the grateful performers and put-off older supporters, who had in turn both begun to explain their intended strategies and how those might change to their crew members, who understood alarmingly fast. “Man…” Rudolf whistled in relief, chuckling. “What a scare that was… But you, Lexy? You’re alright, actually.” “Thanks,” Alexis answered in turn, still trying to figure this guy out, “you don’t seem bad yourself… I almost kinda feel bad that we’re gonna totally eclipse you out there.” “Y’think so, huh?” Rudolf answered with a grin, pointing forward with a friendly competitiveness. “Well, the party don’t get drowned out by a damn thing! I’m gonna get all these good people pumped as hell, and they’ll be cheerin’ for me even when that Metra chick goes on!” “Ooh, I’m starting to feel a bit competitive…” Alexis answered, good-naturedly chuckling and folding her arms. “Wanna see who gets the crowd more pumped? Loser, uh… Buys the winner overpriced concert t-shirts. These things need stakes, right? Heh…” At the somewhat tongue-in-cheek suggestion, Rudolf nodded. “Sure, yeah! That, and the pride of bein’ one of the best in the city! May the best team win!” OPEN THE GAME! Location:The Alexander Dickinson Amphitheater, one of the biggest outdoor venues in the entirety of the Metropolitan area, in the buildup to TD/MD’s headlining act, wherein both of your teams have had a performer set to open for her. The place is packed at a capacity of tens of thousands of people. The stage is a competently designed semicircle which is roughly 30 meters across for length and maximum width, with plenty of room all over and the various necessary fixtures upheld off the ground. It is raised up about 2 meters off the ground. Its back half is partially covered by the overhanging roof of the backstage area a dozen meters above. The backstage area spreads out about 10 meters from both sides and the back of the stage, being somewhat indoorsy and absolutely full of things one could expect an excellent stage production to have, including, of course, sturdy rafters which lead up to the ceiling area overtop the stage. Both sides have had time to arrange for some extra things to be brought in. Goal: With a leadup of fifteen minutes before acts, and a half an hour where both of your performers are onstage at once, you have a show to put on, and that is not getting ruined by this overbooking. So, with Rudolf and Alexis up on stage, and Pineapples and Cybil each operating their abilities and managing a three-person stage crew, outperform your opponents! Given the vastly different skill-sets of the competitors, the goal is to execute on your vision better than your opponent executes on theirs. You will be judged and voted on the following criteria, in decreasing priority:
Feasibility - Whether your performance is actually within the bounds of what your Stand and Stats would imply.
Skill Use - A close second in relevance; how well you integrate your User Skills and Stats into your performance. While your Skills will help in completing this objective, they do not provide an automatic advantage by merely existing and must be woven into your strats, as per usual. Even the best of artists can have abysmal live performances.
Stand Use - Similar to the above, and similarly important. How cool, creative, and well-integrated is your Stand use. Put another way, wow the judges, voters, and viewers at home! This is more or less just the same as before.
Environment Use - How well you use and integrate the auditorium - its features, its backstage, its stage, and the hearts and passions of its occupants - into your performance.
Efficiency - How much quality footage you obtain and how well you use your time. This does not mean that setup for more complex performances is automatically penalized, but do try to minimize ‘deadtime’ and maximize the amount you perform.
Additional Information: There is a huge simp for TD/MD in the audience of the match, and he is connected enough that he will have both of you successfully and canonically killed if you ruin the show before the headliner can go on; therefore, murdering your opponents or audience members (“the ol’ Abraham Lincoln Tech” as they say in the biz) on an audience member is a loss condition. Not at all a moral thing for the record. Stage Crew members for the respective teams (Harry, Mark, and John on the MFAs, Thorn, Dusk, and Luna on the Highrollers, if you care about their names) have 4s in strength, agility, endurance, Stagehand, and Backup; pretty much, anything their associated team asks them to do, they’ll be able to do, at minimum, competently. Though they won’t, like, murder for you. Generally you can use them for moving props on/off stage, extra bodies or on-stage back up performers, speaker and soundboard control, and/or on-stage camera crew as well as managing any other stage controls. Pretty much everything save for pyronetics and lighting is in their purview. There are also dedicated lighting guys, totally neutral in your squabbles, who are going to do an entirely too good job adjusting their focus and making things work exactly as is needed so attention is on the stars of the show. They will also be coordinated with a third party camera crew that will be streaming the live feed onto screens for the audience. These feeds can be replaced or split screened with your own crew’s footage, but otherwise they will generally be in control of what is shown on-screen. Players can be assumed to already have well-rehearsed their plans of action, the in-universe basis for the modified plans of the match, and have knowledge about every aspect of the stage, even if parts of their initial plan obviously need to be modified to account for new challengers also occupying stage space. If something performance related isn’t insanely, “years of training to do competently required” level hard, but would still require some practice ahead of time, they have had it to, at absolute max, somewhere between a 2 and a 3. Players, don’t overly-game this, though; the ‘stars’ of your performances should be the sheeted unique abilities of you, your skills, and your Stands. All stands can be seen on camera and on the live feed for the audience's viewing pleasure.
“This one is for the guy who keeps yelling from the Balcony, and it’s called ‘We Hate You, Please Die.’” Gymnastics is a sport of rhythm and pace, this performance should be no different for keeping your momentum. Make as seamless transitions as you can between the acts of your performance!
“Prepare to have your minds obliterated by… The boys! And Crash!” You have a whole crew of people working for you here, no need to do any heavy lifting by yourself. This is their job after all, better put them to work since that’s what they are here for. Make the most use out of your stage hands in your performance!
“What is with this band? They’ve… changed. Have you noticed they don’t have instruments? Where’s all this amazing noise coming from?” Keeping the audience’s attention for a full 30 minutes should be a piece of cake for the world’s greatest dancer, you can keep the party rocking even between your different acts. Make as seamless transitions as you can between the acts of your performance!
“You and your fireballs and your demon hipster chicks / you’re talking the talk and it’s pretty slick / You think you’re so great, but you’re missing the point / You gotta have friendship and courage and whatever!” You’re all in this show together, you and your crew of stage hand. Everybody should be contributing here, no man left behind. Make the most use out of your stage hands in your performance!
Fall of Cleveland 5 - Uni the Unicorn pt2 (2/2) by Giant Neckbeard
Link to part 1 You're a Dirty-Grey Earth Fluffy with an even dirtier Black mane and tail, walking as fast as you can to the north, part of a massive Herd that stretches as far back as you can see and beyond. Back when you were part of your Original Herd, you were called Dirt, because no matter what you did or how many times you jumped in the Water Holes, your Fluff seemed to attract dirt all on it's own. Now you're just 'Fwuffie', like everyone else. Across the highway is another, equally massive Herd, full of Meanie Fluffies who say that Uni loves them more. You'd go over and give them owies, but the Desert Fluffies know that Biggest Meanest Monsters come roaring down the highway frequently, so it's best to conserve your strength for the day when the Meanie Herd is being incredibly Mean. As a Desert Fluffy, you know the surrounding regions quite well, but you've never had an adventure like this before Follow the Black Hard Thing that Hoomins call the 'Highway', always follow it, never leave to follow down the smaller Black Hard Things, because they do not go 'North'. Find the Water Holes and have to stop Fluffies from pushing each other in. Have to force them to wait for their turn, and then have to make those who have had their fill of water keep moving. And with so many Fluffies, thousands of them, it's hard to make them stop fighting. The last water-hole, there was barely any water for the last few Fluffies, just very dirty water that they cried over, but drank anyways, because they were so hot and thirsty. These Cee-Tee Fluffies are real pains in your Poopie Place. They never work together like your Herd used to. And there's barely enough food for everyone now. Have to beat the Fluffies who try to eat everything, they are supposed to only have a mouthful of something and move on, so those behind them can eat too. You have had to beat a lot of Fluffies to get them to understand that if they eat all the nummies, then their friends behind them will have none. Then you had to keep driving them on when they tried to turn back and 'Gif Sowwy Huggies!' to their 'Fwiends'. Have to stay on your side of the road too, as there's a Mean Herd just as big on the other side, eating all the shrubs and grass and shouting that they love Uni more than you do. Want to fight the Mean Herd to prove you love Uni the most, but can't, Fluffies need to keep moving and go 'North' as fast as they can, and if you waste time fighting, then Uni might pick somebody else as her One True Special Friend. Fluffies whimper, some cry about being hot, about their hooves hurting, about wanting nummies, but nobody stops. Uni is waiting, at a magical place... Fluffies walk till it's too hot, then try to find shade to wait out the hottest part of the day. Some of the Herd's Cee-Tee Stallions say they have been walking for many turnings of the Sun, from a place full of Hoomins and Fluffies and Grass and Water, and it makes your head spin that they would abandon such a paradise. There's nothing out here but the blistering hot sun, the cruel, burning sand and small shrubs and patches of hard, bitter grass. And Snake-Munsta and Bug-Munstas and... well, there's a lot of Munstas. Until She came along, you despaired of ever finding a way out of this hellhole. Uni... just remembering her makes your heart swell with longing, and you find the strength to push onwards just a little bit more. "Too wamm!" A Stallion near the front of the Herd shouts. He's right, the Sun is climbing so high it's nearly overhead Fluffies walk down into the bad-lands, and here is where you and you can help these 'Cee-Tee' Fluffies find shelter. It's hard, there's more Fluffies than you can count, stretching back farther than you can see, but you try. Fluffy Mammas and Foals get the best shade, because they are the most vulnerable, then Mares, then Stallions. Everyone is so hot, fluff is bad when Fluffies get this hot, so everyone pants through their mouths to try and make the 'Wamm Bad Feww' to leave their bodies. Fluffies are warned about the Bug-Munstas and the Snake-Munstas, but some don't understand, or are too mean, and push into the rocks, looking for shelter. Hear them scream as the Munstas sting them. Fluffies flop about, howling and pooping and shrieking as the Bad Bites make them spit boo-boo juices and turn ugly colors. Fluffies cram in under shrubs, behind tall rocks, anywhere there is shade, and pant, flicking their tails and twitching their ears to try and make the Fly-Not-Friends who plague them go away. On the other side of the road, the Other Fluffies are shouting in dismay, apparently several of their Herd tried to take shelter behind a Prickly Green Plant, and got bad owies from the thin needles that cover it. Good. Don't like that Herd that is leading that mob of Cee-Tee Fluffies. Made it impossible for you to be with Uni. Were naughty, so Uni's Hoomins pulled you all away. You sigh and close your eyes, remembering how soft her fluff felt against your body, as the sun climbs higher into the sky, and the shade the Fluffies hide under shrinks "Yuu weft dem awone! Wun away to chase Uni! Why yuu weave yuu Hewd to chase Uni! Bad Fwuffies! Hewds wuv yuu, an' yuu wun away!" Whimper and try to forget the memory of Uni being so very angry with you. It's not your fault! She just... you think of Uni, and then your Mares, but there's just no comparison at all. Your Mares were small and scrawny and dirty, their ears ragged, their fluff full of dust and burrs. Touching Uni was like... you don't know the words to describe it. It was like every good thing you ever wanted, and so many good things you never knew existed, all at once. Soft, clean, warm, pretty, good feels, nice smells You sigh and try to block out the sounds of Fluffy Ponies complaining loudly, pushing and shoving each other as the shade shrinks and shrinks, forcing the hot, unhappy Fluffies ever closer together. But Uni is going 'North'. And you will follow her to the ends of the Land, you said so. You promised. ********************************************************************* Well. Las Vegas...certainly more than you ever expected. Spent a week and a half here, doing 'adverts' for various businesses that think appealing to Fluffy Pony Owners is a sound business decision. Uni's getting the work out of her life here. Fluffies are brought out to meet her by their owners, get hugs, and 'help' with the adverts. Done everything from garages trying to sell fuel and repairs to specialty stores selling 'all natural' Fluffy Chow and even a Fluffy Pimp. Seriously? Don't think that one is going to see air-time. The three mares were quite beautiful and were wearing makeup, with ribbons tied through their manes. "How much yuu chawge?" They asked you, scowling at 'Uni'. That was surprising. Uni was designed to be adorable by Fluffy Pony standards, until you twigged that they saw Uni as a 'rival' for business. Only reason they weren't attacking was your size, otherwise you're sure that 'Uni' would have been showered with 'Sowwy Poopies!' Regardless, you're a professional, do the shoot, then BUG THE HELL OUTTA THERE. Prosti-Fluffies shouting at Pip and Eddy they can 'haf one on da howse!' Nononononono.... Second-to-last Advert Shoot is in a Casino. Seriously? SERIOUSLY? Well at least there'll be AC. Feel like a steamed dumpling at this stage. Whoever came up with the concept of a Latex Suit never worked in a desert, you're sure. 'Uni' is given some chips, 'plays' some of the games and 'wins' bowls of Spaghetti. Big, heaped bowls of Spaghetti. Oh God. ********************************************************************* Set six weeks later Be Natasha Goodaluv, again, and watch with bemusement as Eddy and Pip go out to meet the Fluffy Ponies and the Cows. Some wit decided to stuff a Feral herd with Bovine Hormones, and started to bottle Fluffy Pony Milk. Without the addition of specific foods, the milk has a tendency to have a very starchy taste, but with all the sweet, well-watered grass and high-sucrose fodder the Farmer feeds them, the milk is almost sickeningly sugary. Had a glass, can barely stand still. No wonder the little fluff-balls are so hyperactive if this is what they grow up on. Sammy has bought twelve bottles of the damn stuff. Swears it'll be better for everyone than the redbull they're going through. Might be healthier, but for fuck's sake, you feel like you're vibrating right now from the sugar-high. Oh God, the Mares in the fields have finally noticed Eddy and Pip are 'Stallions'. This ought to be good. Eddy is 'interviewing' the Mares, while Pip is having a natter with the Farmer who originally came up with the concept of Bottled Fluffy Milk, a scattering of Fillies and young Mares following in his wake and giggling loudly. In the fields outside the "Dairy Farmers of America" buildings, taking a well-earned break from the Uni-Suit as the madness starts. "Yuu big Fwuffy! Yuu haf Hewd?" The 'Smarty Friend' of this all-female Herd asks loudly, grinning at Eddy. Well, leering, but still... "Eddy haf Hewd wit' Wittle Brudda Pip and Wittle Sistah Uni." Eddy rumbles at the Mares, who all squeak and squeal in delight. Seriously, did they have to build the suit so Eddy sounded like that? You understand the marketing pitch, to make Eddy sound as big and authoritative as possible to make him popular with Earth Fluffy Ponies, but this is just ridiculous. "Wan join mah Hewd?" The Smarty Mare shouts eagerly, tail lifted into the air and waving back and forth. If you were closer, you'd bet you could smell the hormones flooding off her right now. Combination of a lack of males, rich food, constant hormone injections to make her produce milk all the time, and that has to be one ripe little Fluffy out there trying to be sexy as all hell. "For the record, if you two fuckers pop the suit's boner out there, I WILL beat you to death with your own fucking limbs." You hear the Director mutter into his head-set, and stifle the urge to giggle. "An yuu is nice Hoomin who gif miwk to Fwuffies at home?" Pip squeaks to the Farmer, who grins and nods, obviously only just resisting the urge to burst out laughing. Yes, the whole situation is absurd, just deal with it. "Aaaaah, yep, I started bottling Fluffy Ponies milk a few years ago when they wandered onto my property, thought there might be a market." The aging, balding man snorts and grins as he watches 'Eddy' desperately trying to outrun the Mares, who had all latched on to his belly fluff, squirming and wriggling. "WOOOOOOO!" You hear one Mare squeal in delight. Shit. SWAG has been launched... Director is making choking noises, and you swear you can hear the coffee mug in his hands cracking as his knuckles turn white. "Oh my God... well, uh, focusing on the milk again..." The Farmer makes an half-muffled snort of laughter as Pip and he walk away from the train-wreck of Eddy and the Mares. "The milk is bottled and treated on my farm, filled with all the good things Fluffy Ponies need, and then sold all over the country. There's Fluffy Milk for Foals, Fluffy Milk for Adults, Fluffy Milk for the Elderly Fluffies. Hell, I even pasteurize some for people too." "Yaaaaay! Nice Hoomin get Fwuffie Miwk fo' evewy Fwuffie an' dere Mummies an' Daddies!" Pip 'cheers', dancing from hoof to hoof, his wings flapping 'eagerly'. The Mares who followed pip also start dancing, delighted. "Yuu is Guud Fwuffies who make Miwk fo' otha Fwuffies!" Pip tells them, 'smiling' at them. "Yuu is wunnerful! Yuu is Best Fwuffies!" Mare cling to Pip's fluff and shout they love him, that they think he's 'wunnerful' too. Eddy has fallen over with much cursing, sending Fluffy Ponies flying. They rushed over to ask if he was okay, then saw the SWAG just lying there. Fluffy Mares all crowd around, rubbing their back-ends on the exposed shaft, giggling and cooing, even as their Smarty Friend tries to back into the damn thing. "Nnnnnngh! So Big! Fwuffy gun' haf Best Speshaw Huggies!" She shouts loudly, grinding back as hard as she can, her face contorting hilariously as she tries to push all 2 feet of flanged latex horse wang into her tiny body. That does it. Everyone bursts into laughter or starts wolf-whistling. "Oh for the love of... FROM THE TOP!" The Director yells, rubbing at his temples. Time till Spaghetti Land in Cleveland, Ohi opens ... 6 weeks ********************************************************************* 4 Weeks till Spaghetti Land in Cleveland, Ohio opens. Kansas City. By All The Gods, so many adverts. Uni's getting more mileage than you thought possible. Much as you hate to admit it, the suit is incredible to hold up under this constant 'abuse' without the mechanisms failing. Doing a shoot at the St. Louis Arch, with the other two Suits. Redo of the 'Journey' song. Seems that Fluffies absolutely adore it. Apparently Las Vegas has had a surge of customers, with Fluffies in tow, and made a killing. Customers can either take their winnings or have free all-you-can-eat buffets for themselves and their Fluffy Ponies for a week. Naturally, people try to take the money, but the Fluffy ponies break down into tears, and the owners either boot the Fluffy, try to make it understand or give in to the guilt. The other thing that's surprising is there's close to a million Fluffy ponies following in your wake. Jesus enfing Christ. There's so many of them following the Freeway from Hollywood to Cleveland that satellites can pick them up. They're only just reaching Las Vegas now, according to the News Reports, a sprawling two-part Herd that shambles on morning and night, leaving a trail of weak or dead Fluffy Ponies in their wake. "We fowwowin' Uni!" One Fluffy Pony said on National Television, making the entire cast spit their coffee out in horror. "We fowwow Uni fow'evah! We wuv Uni!... I wuv Uni mowst dou...." Cue the Feral Fluffies going into a screaming free-for-all as the Stallions jumped on the Smarty Friend, shouting that they themselves 'wuved' Uni more than anyone! Any complaints to the show get funneled down the line to the your Mystery Asshole Boss. Hope the bastard's ears are melting off from the enraged Fluffy Pony Owners whose babies have run away to follow their Idol. And there's scores of abusers out there attacking the herds, but apparently there were so many that a couple of flat-bed trucks actually went out of control when their wheels locked up with Fluff, and tipped over, crushing their inhabitants, who got 'Owie-Fixin'-Hugs' to make it all better. And promptly suffocated under thousands of Fluffies trying to fix their 'boo-boos'. Karma at work, ladies and gentlemen. You thought to yourself as you watched the police pry the Fluffy ponies off the corpses. Las Vegas City Council apparently decided that it was a fantastic attention-getter, and has 'helped' the Fluffy Ponies by diverting them down the main 'strip' of road leading through town and blocking off the alleyways and side-streets. Show-Girls are holding signs saying "Uni went that way!" instead of working the tables, or under them. Lying bastards. They're just eager to see the Ferals leave, and possibly make their own Feral Fluffy Pony population disappear in the process. Fuck you can only imagine what the Ferals have had to go through ..... ********************************************************************* You hold up your son to the sky... and weep bitter, bitter tears. The tears wash down into your dirty fluff, leaving two clean trails on your cheeks as the foal remains cold and stiff, despite your attempts to warm it with the morning sun. The mare you had befriended on the way died, leaving you to look after the last of the babies you had given her one night when you couldn't stand the Hot-Naughty-Feels pulsing through you. Brandy died because the Mean Herd snuck across the road and ate all the nummies, marching all night long while your herd slept. Your herd kept following their side of the road, too afraid of the Munstas to cross the highway, too determined to stop and seek food further from the highway's edge. Three days without food, and barely any water, and eventually she was too weak to move. Babies had been without milk for two days when the first, your daughter Gust, fell off her Mother's back and wouldn't get up. You and Brandy cried over her body so much, then left the Herd to take her and put her under a bush, where she could rest. You both knew she was dead, but it made it easier to go on if you pretended she was just sleeping. Then your son Brambles began to fall ill, and you tried everything you could think of to make him better. Hugs, half-chewed grass, some sweet berries you found and brought back for him to suck on, nothing worked. Bandy kept on telling you she was sorry, she was a "Bad Fwuffy Mumma". Told her she was the "Best Fwuffy Mumma evah, it not her fault if Meanie Hewd steaw nummies." Brandy didn't move the next day, still and cold even with you hugging her through the night, your son snuggled between you both, wheezing in his sleep. Now, he's dead. He's dead. HE'S DEAD. You feel so hollow and empty inside as you bring his body down, staring at it and fighting the urge to break down and will yourself to join your family in death. You made a promise, not just to Uni, but to your mare and your babies that they would see Uni once again. Your heart breaks, being a Fluffy Daddy was so... so fulfilling! It made every day wonderful to be alive, to know your babies were waiting for you to play with them, teach them to be good Fluffies. You told them about Uni, the biggest, most beautiful (after their mumma) and most magical unicorn Fluffy who was leading Fluffies to a magical place. Fluffies who joined you from the Cee-Tees said it was 'Sketti Wand', a place of endless Spaghetti, where Fluffies could play all day with nice hoomins who loved them, ride on toys made just for Fluffies, even find homes for themselves with the nice hoomins. How the babies' eyes lit up when they heard that, how your mare sighed happily, all their hunger and pain forgotten for a few blissful moments. Now... you have but one child left. A small, pale brown fillie with a shockingly bright-red mane and tail. Brandy the Second. She's the only one that has managed to hold on to life, the only one that didn't fall sick from the lack of nummies, even though you can feel her ribs clearly when you give her huggies. She's sitting there, dry-eyed and staring at her brother, her face inscrutable. "Baybeh... we aww dat weft of famiwy." You whisper to her, placing your boy reverently down under a bush, tears still falling from your eyes. "Fwuffie know. Fwuffie miss Mumma, miss Sissy, Miss Brudda." She whispers back, closing her eyes and sighing, sounding so much older than her single week of life could possibly suggest. "Buh we goin', Daddy? We goin' to see Uni, yes?" Sigh and sob and laugh all at the same time, and let her climb up onto your back. "Yes, Baybeh, we gon' see Uni. Daddy pwomise, an' Mumma wan' hew baybehs see Uni too, pway with Uni and eats wots of Sketti." You whisper to her as you shuffle off to rejoin the Herd, leaving your son to 'Sleep' alongside his mother under a prickly bush that will keep the Munstas from hurting them further. As evening falls, you are all but falling over from weariness, but your daughter has had some nummies, where a nice hoomin had pulled up in a Fast Box Munsta and was distributing water and sweet nummies to the Fluffies. "You keep going, you brave little things." She said, her face all wrinkled, smiling down at you as she handed out buttered peanut-butter-jelly sandwiches, which the herd dutifully broke down into bite-sized pieces, ate their share, and shuffled on after hugging the nice hoomin's ankles. There's a lot of nice hoomins coming out now, saying they love Fluffy Ponies, want to see them make it to Sketti Wand. Without them, you'd be dead by now, you're sure. Some have Fluffies living with them in their Moving Safe Places, who cheer at you as well, saying they are going on ahead, and will be waiting for you at 'Sketti Wand'. It's later that evening when you find the first of the Mean Herd, broken and bleeding, screaming about "Bad hoomins who gif huwties!" They are quickly given Biggest Owies, and their bodies are rolled away from the road so that the Foals don't see them. They are evil fluffies who stole your nummies, and want to be special friends with Uni. You once wanted to be like that. To make Uni your Special Friend, and yours alone. Brandy changed that. Brandy filled your heart in ways that Uni never did. You still love Uni, but Brandy will always live in your heart. You want to find Uni still, but so that she can teach your daughter to be a Good Fluffy too. TO BE CONCLUDED.....
Fortune 12 I'm Kind of a loner. What I mean is I don't leave my apartment all that often and I only leave for my job and to buy food, and I especially hate crowds. I also don't have many friends, though I have two solid friends, Tyrone and Greta. We met in high school and vowed we'd be there for each other till the end. But we haven't been so close since college, Tyrone went off to a college in Philadelphia, Greta moved to Cleveland with her family, I don't know why she never told us, but that was four years ago, I thought that maybe both Tyrone and Greta want to come back to tumbleville, fo good times sakes. But I am a procrastinator so it was a full week till I got to it. It was a snowy Tuesday in January and the time was nearing 6:30 and I had just finished making my TV dinner and I plopped myself on my little green sofa. I turned the TV to CLS news station. “Finally the new casino has opened on East spruce street, The owner local star Jack Garmen has released a statement saying that the first appearance you make in Fortune 12 casino will reward you 100 free tokens!” I looked up from my Salisbury steak in surprise and listened in. “He has also said that with the addition of friends that will be raised by 100 per person” That Sparked my urge to see my friends again. Then the TV caught my attention again. “Local Native Americans protest the opening of the fortune 12 casinos,” I thought why would someone protest a casino that's like the best thing in the world, I decided to listen back in.”They say that the casino was built over the ancient burial site to the Shawnee Native people” I rolled my eyes and got back to my food. After eating I pulled out my computer and opened email. I thought back to when Tyrone, Greta and I would email each other all the time. miraculously I remember Greta's email but couldn't seem to remember Tyrone's. I prayed that it was still her email. I decided to just email Greta and hope that she remembered. I began to type, Dear Greta Its Joshua I was just wondering if you wanted to stop back in tumbleville? Me, you and Tyrone, (I don't have Tyrone's email, if you do can you forward this to him.) Also, they’ve opened a new casino in town and we got one free night. I wanted to take you guys there. I stopped there, the email was short and sweet. Then I went along with my day. I took a shower, brushed my teeth, took my pills, I have a severe anxiety disorder and I need to take pills twice a day, I then got in bed. Just as I felt slumber close my eyes I got a notification on my phone, it was a reply from Greta. It read, Hey Joshua! Long time no see I’d love to come back. I've been saving up to go back anyway so this was perfect and I was able to contact Tyrone and he said he'd have a road trip there, we’ll be there by Thursday. I was so excited my two best and really only friends were coming back. I was antsy and I'm never very excited about anything. The last time I was excited was when Tyrone, Greta and I went to Hershey Park for our class senior year. The next day went by like a breeze of wind, I was thinking about the adventures we would have on Thursday. By the time I got back home I flopped on my couch with more TV dinners. I flicked on the TV and heard the anchor speak, “Local Man, Kyle Smith Missing after Night at Fortune 12, The Shawnee Chief warns,”this is the beginning” I shrugged it off, People go missing all the time after getting drunk and wondering into the mountains and are found a day later. Plus the city has had a high crime rate since i was in middle school, fifth most dangerous right after Upper Darby. I turned off the TV and decided to email Greta Some details of where we would meet, I began typing, Hey Greta, Joshua again, I wanted to give you the address of the Casino and some general times frames of when to be there. The casino is on East spruce street, and we meet at 6:30pm. Thank you, please forward to Tyrone. It was only a short while later when I got a confirmation email. I crawled into bed and took my pills.I feel asleep. Then I woke up or at least i thought I did. I woke up inside the casino. It was me and Greta. We were standing near a slot machine then everyone around us disappeared and the lights snapped off. The walls of the Casino crumbled to the floor and, tree shot up from the ground and It began to snow. I looked around, and noticed Greta and Tyrone had disappeared. I continued to hear a low groaning coming from around me. Then I saw movement out of the corner of my eye.i it was a black figure slouched over and it stood on its hind legs.it almost looked like a person. I began to walk forward looking around me, I then saw a lantern in front of me, I started to walk faster. then the snow began to deepen and the snow began to fall hard. I heard growls and groans near me it felt like it was behind me. When I finally got to the lantern it disappeared, and I looked up to the trees. What scared the life out of me, Greta and Tyrone were strung up in the trees, their organs ripped out and laying within the branches of their tree. A stick had been plowed through the abdominal region. Blood was seeping down the tree. The blood began to taint the snow around the tree. I felt breathing behind me, it was warm and moist, It was almost comforting in the snow. But I knew I had to turn around. I did and a figure launched on me and then I woke up. I was drenched in a cold sweat, I looked over at my alarm clocked. It was only 9:43 I went to bed at 9.I laid in bed all night. I couldn't seem to fall asleep. Every time I got close I began to sweat again and my eyes got stapled open by the time I had fallen asleep. Then my alarm went off, it was 6:30. I barely had the strength to turn off the alarm.I laid there for another hour. When I regained a level of consciousness I realized I was on track to be an hour late for work. I mustered the strength to get up and do my daily routine. I caught the bus and headed to work. I had gotten the job as an account for a local business. The Job was terrible and boring but it paid well so I never thought about leaving, even if I hated my co-worker and my boss was a douche bag. I did my usual work day just 30 minutes late. Surprisingly the boss man as i like to call him wasn't angry i didn't know why. During lunch break something interesting happened. I was sitting down and the news turned on. The anchor began speaking, “Fortune 12 owner, Jack Garmen goes missing, then the woman's voice got distorted it was like she was speaking a forgien language almost like latin, I took a semester in college.Then a video began to play, It started with a man running through the woods. Snow still covered the ground. The man was panting heavily.the video continues to cut out as the man was running. Alongside him were the sounds of hissing and growling, the noises were similar to the sounds I heard in my dreams. A dim light radiated in front of the camera, the snow began to rise and then it began to fall harder and a harsh wind could be heard. The man struggled to get out the light and by the time he got there it was gone.A voice could be heard coming from the woods, “Is anybody there” it croaked, “I need help” there where a series of voices cracks and it almost sounded like an older woman.. The man yelled back in a cautious tone,” I'm here to follow my voice” A tall black figure began to uncover itself from the shadows. It was thin, dangerously thin. Parts of its bones were visible through its skin and little muscle. It looked to be seven feet tall, and it had red glowing eyes. Its hands had claws and was horribly slouched over. It almost looked like the thing I saw in my dream.As quickly as it appeared the thing was gone, and so was the man recording. Blood gushed from his neck as he dropped to the floor. The creature looked down at the camera with a curious look, but then it vanished. my head hit the table. Joshua woke to his co-workers shaking him relentlessly. Joshua Begun to raise his head he noticed drool had pooled around his mouth. His co-workers said he explained to him he dropped cold out of the blue. I couldn't believe that, I asked around if anyone else saw the video that the news had played, everyone shrugged their heads and said that o\the weather was on TV.They asked if i wanted to go home and they'd tell the bossman what happened so i took the day off. it was about 1 when i was home. I Emailed Greta again, So how are you making out? Are you close? Getting the old cow poop smell yet? I didn't really expect a response but around an hour later, I got a response. Hey Joshua I'm on William Dill Highway 30 minutes away and I could for sure smell the cow poop again it's great!I chuckled a bit after reading the final sentence. I emailed one more time and asked if she had any info about Tyrone? She replied quickly, Oh Ya He's somewhere North of Pittsburgh, He said he is around an hour away. I got up from my couch and layed down my computer. And took a fifthteen minute nap.but when i woke up i felt nauseated and i felt like i got a full night of Sleep but with the worst quality. I got up and felt deprived of food and remember I haven't eaten since the morning. My phone had four notifications, all emails from Greta. 1:45 Hey Joshua's i can see the old clock tower! 2:30 Hey i booked a room in the lucky 13 motel if you wanna come by, 3:50 hey Tyrone just got here he's gonna bunk with me at the motel, i really think you should stop by. 4:50, Hey me and Tyrone are about to get ready to leave we’ll meet you there. I felt a boost of adrenaline when I realized that it was 4 and I got to moving, I brushed my teeth, got in the shower, picked some clothes, ate some chips, and left the house. I had left around 5:20.I had to drive through a bit of the forest to get to the casino. I turned onto Mckinley street where the forest started. It was around a 5 mile stretch of road.I began to drive.I played my favorite rock band Blue metal. After a mile there was a quick movement across the road. It seemed to be a seven foot humanoid. I swerved off the road. My head banged against the steering wheel and another car behind me spun out. I tried my hardest to get my car back on the road to get to the casino. I drove out as fast as possible.I heard the yelling from the man behind me but I ignored it. It was another 10 minutes before I got to the casino. When i got there it was 20 minutes before i got there. 5:50. I stopped in the parking lot and as I drove by I saw a dark figure squatting on the roof. The casino was only two floors high so it appeared very close and that worried me more than it usually did. Butr as I pulled into the parking lot I saw Greta and Tyrone. I rolled down my window and waved my hand.they waved back.I got out of my car and walked to the entrance where they were waiting. We had a warm greeting with hugs and old high fives. We caught up with each for a little before walking in, Greta explained that her family moved due to a Job applicant my dad received and my mother wanted to apply to Cleveland U to receive her Masters. Tyrone shared his stories of Going to Penn University and experiences in Philadelphia he shared with one of a friend of his that got inside the liberty bell, he also revealed that he wanted to move back to tumbleville after his final semester. My eyes light with excitement. I thought of all the things I had to show him that he missed. I then asked if Greta had any plans to move back. She explained she wanted to, but she had to move back to Mexico to help her family in Cancun. I told her that it should be more like a vacation. We all chuckled. I then walked in front of them and said “are you ready to enter the casino” in my famous butler voice. They chuckled and went inside. As soon as I walked in the air within the casino it was dead cold. Goosebumps grew all over my body. I asked Greta and Tyrone if they felt it and they said they hadn't.I shrugged it off and walked to the counter and I asked for the 100 plus token deal.Then I heard a scream it radiated around me there was no sources, it was everywhere i began to scratch at my head. My friends seemed not to hear the scream. I told the cashier to give them the tokens and I explained I had to go to the bathroom and I'd be right back. I walked In and began to pour water in my ear. I hoped it would work but I knew it wouldn't work. But then it stopped, I was grateful.Then the lights in the bathroom cut off i turned around and wondered why the light shut off and thought that maybe someone turned it off while walking out. That's when I felt a bony hand touch my shoulder, I froze. I couldn't move, I was stuck in place, it felt as if a scering hot plate was burning my skin. it lifted and the lights flicked on. I looked towards my shoulder, my shirt had a claw mark on it and I could see my skin. I bolted out of the bathroom, and saw my friends already playing slot machines. They questioned why I had taken so long, I told them it was a minute, they replied with '`it's been 10 minutes” I stared in shock. Did you not come geet me? We did but you said you were fine. Both of them got back to slot machines while I contemplated what happened. Did they not notice the claw mark on my shirt? Was it even there? I Looked back over and it was gone. We went into our night to play black jack and betted on horse racing. I had forgotten about the bathroom incident as the night overridden the fear. By the time it was 11 an alert blared on our phones it read “National Weather service, Major blizzard will impact the tumbleville area,within the next 5 minutes. white out conditions and a foot of snow expected. This startled us, Me the most. I knew it was January and we usually get snow but not that much snow and unexpectedly.We all looked at each other. Tyrone Questioned if this began to happen after he left in a joking way, we all laughed. I responded no. We discussed what our next plan would be, it seemed like the people around us were to. We decided it would be a good idea to head home. When we walked to the main doors we were greeted by a wall of snow and the doors completely stopped working, they could be moved. The people around us were visibly angered and confused. I heard one man start cursing angrily at the top of his lungs.Tyrone and Greta Chuckled, but I was visibly concerned. I felt a bit anxiety creeping in.A man presumably the manager came out of an elevator and yelled to the crowd of people wondering what was happening. He said that the snow storm had hit particularly hard outside the casino and there were white out conditions already. People began to voicing thier concerns, most saying they had family or work or something stupid.Behind the Manager I saw a shadow one that didnt look like him it was over arching. It seemed like no one could see it or everyone was too busy to notice. I called it out to my friends and they acknowledged its existions but they didn't seem to care as they needed questions answered. That's when it happened someone yelled the holy grail question, what's happening with food? Everyone froze, the manager exclaiming they would have to wait till the next supply came in and he didn't know if it would be coming. More yelling ensued. I turned to Tyrone and Greta, they looked like they were kinda scared. I tried to reassure them we’d be fine even though I knew something bad would happen and I felt my anxiety levels rising, my hand developed a bit of a twitch. I concealed as much as possible. That's when it hit me, all night I felt like I was missing something, I had forgotten to take my pills. I panicked, when I forgot to take my pills I began to act crazy. This had caused many problems in the past. Most resulting in someone getting hurt and once someone killed, but we don't talk about it.We stood there thinking of what to do, Greta began to call her family and Tyrone walked in a circle talking to himself. Then the lights went out. All around us were the screams of terrified people, and yelling of peoples names. I started yelling Greta and Tyrons name and I heard them yell back, we tried our best to find each other in the crowd of people.. We all touched arms and latched on to each other, I was leading the pack, We didn't speak, as silence filled the casino floor. We didn't know why everyone just stopped. There were still people around us but they stood still and we couldn't get past them. I whispered for them to get on the ground to crawl. Greta tugged at my shirt and asked if I could hear the growling. Right as she said it I heard it. A loud growl was coming from somewhere on the floor, Then i heard a slash. It was like whatever was growling was decapitating the heads of the people standing. I told her to stay quiet and that as long as we didn't speak, whatever was there couldn't hear us. As we crawled I saw a light, it was the door of the casino, the snow was reaching the top, but a street lamp outside was still visible and its light poured in. I whisper to Greta and Tyrone that we'd be heading for the door and that we should crawl quickly to beat the snow. They agreed. I knew that the door wouldn't open and that we'd be trapped, I began to sweat, and I felt my heart beating faster and faster. I was almost popping out of my chest. But I kept on crawling. We finally made it to the door, the growling sound still surrounding us. It sounded close every second. The floor near the door got progressively colder, at the door the floor changed, it was still cold, but it felt like dirt ,I looked down, and i saw dirt. I lifted my head and trees surrounded me. I looked back, Greta and Tyrone, they were gone. Then I felt a snowflake resting on my cheek. I realized this was my Nightmare. I stood and began to walk. I walked for at least 10 minutes, by then the snow was a layer covering the floor. I began to shiver, My heart continued to beat out of control, I trembled, and sweated, I began to feel weak and tired. I stopped and sat down to hopefully regain energy. I looked up at the tree and in them were people from the casino, impaled, embowled, their organs on the floor, bones poking out everywhere. I looked in horror, ordinary people in the trees, dead blood dripping from their bodies. Some had their skin and muscles ripped from their bones. I broke down. I began to cry and I yelled profanities. I must of black out at some point because I can't remember what happened, but when I came too again the snow was at least three inches higher and I was at the light I saw, I felt its heat. Then it vanished. The cold hit me like a wave. Then I heard a voice. It said to look up, I didn't know if it was real or not but I looked up. I stopped. It felt like the air in my lungs was ripped out and all the energy I had in my body had left in an instance. I dropped to my knees. I screamed and I began to cry again. Then a creature stepped towards me.I heard the ruffling of leaves. Its breath began to warm my neck. Even If it felt good I knew it was a terrible sign and something bad was to happen. Its hand grabbed my shirt. My shirt started to choke me. I looked down and I was at least seven feet above the ground. What ever was grabbing me, tightening up and lifting me to a tree. I got a look at this creature as I was near the tree. All i saw was its glowing red eyes and its bony arm, it was black and thin from what i saw.I felt the poking of a branch of the tree. Then the branch was through my stomach. The pain was immense and it lasted. The creatures stared into my eyes. I finally got a good look at it. I was eviscerated at every point, bone showing, and a disfigured face. I looked to my left and there was Greta, lumped over, and dead. Her abdomen was gone, the flesh taken off her body. Then I looked to my right, Tyrone lumped over as well. His body had been almost picked clean but his face remained untouched. Then I heard a chuckle from the creature I saw. A disfigured smile shown on its face. I opened its mouth. Hi I'm kind of a loner as the people of the town call me, I barely leave my apartment, I tend to watch TV all day, and it was friday so I got all Night to watch so flipped on the TV. It was already on CLS I listened in. Local Man Joshua Longhorn Missing along with Greta Huppin and Tyrone Frienson, they went missing after a night at the Fortune 12.
VAXIS - Act I: The Unheavenly Creatures Discussion Thread
IT'S HAPPENING!!! This here will act as a general discussion for the newly-announced album, VAXIS - Act I: The Unheavenly Creatures. Feel free to talk about the pre-order, the pics, theories, fanfiction, whatever. This isn't a megathread so y'all can still shitpost as you see fit on the rest of the sub, just keep it nice <3 Also I'll be working on re-skinning the sub (do people still look at this on desktop??) so feel free to toss out ideas because holy fuckshit there's a lot to pull from with this. Details Release Date: October 5 Pre-Order: Hyah Tracklist:
The Dark Sentencer
Queen Of The Dark
The Pavilion (A Long Way Back)
All On Fire
It Walks Among Us
And don't forget the guys are touring this summer with Taking Back Sunday, tour dates are below:
Jul. 06 - Miami, FL - Bayfront Park Amphitheater
Jul. 07 - Tampa, FL - Midflorida Credit Union Amphitheatre
Jul. 08 - Jacksonville, FL - Daily's Place
Jul. 10 - Atlanta, GA - Chastain Park Amphitheater
Jul. 11 - Nashville, TN - Ascend Amphitheater
Jul. 13 - Raleigh, NC - Red Hat Amphitheater
Jul. 14 - Charlotte, NC - Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre
Jul. 15 - Baltimore, MD - Pier Six Pavilion
Jul. 17 - Boston, MA - Blue Hills Bank Pavilion
Jul. 18 - Philadelphia, PA - Festival Pier at Penn's Landing
Jul. 19 - Holmdel, NJ - PNC Bank Arts Center
Jul. 21 - Brooklyn, NY - Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk
A Live Performance of Every Paramore Song (That They've Played Live)
I decided to make an archive of sorts of my favorite performances of all Paramore's songs that they’ve done live (to my knowledge). Sorry if some are low quality. With some of these songs, low quality video/audio is all there is. Added date and location to each just for some more context. Most of these are the ones I find myself watching most frequently which is why I chose them - not really based on any criteria other than that. Hope I didn’t miss anything :) ALL WE KNOW IS FALLING All We Know September 3rd, 2006 House of Blues; Anaheim, California, USA credit: ChloeHayes Pressure June 14th, 2008 Norwegian Wood; Frognerbadet, Oslo, Norway credit: Daniel Garcés Velasco Emergency May 10th, 2008 BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend; Maidstone, England, United Kingdom credit: juan ferro Brighter April 30th, 2010 Trump Taj Mahal; Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA credit: RTMorasonMD Here We Go Again September 3rd, 2006 House of Blues; Anaheim, California, USA credit: ChloeHayes Never Let this Go May 22nd, 2015 Open Air Theater; San Diego, California, USA credit: TheRealConcertKing Whoa June 15th, 2008 Provinssirock Festival; Seinäjoki, Southern Ostrobothnia, Finland credit: hanu767 Conspiracy March 9th, 2014 Parahoy! credit: Shannon Moore Franklin June 15th, 2007 Rocketown; Nashville, Tennessee, USA credit: Kerrie Simmons My Heart December 18th, 2009 Wembley Arena; London, England, United Kingdom credit: nayrh89 RIOT! For A Pessimist, I'm Pretty Optimistic July 20th, 2011 Warped Tour; Cleveland, Ohio, USA credit: propertyofzack That's What You Get March 13th, 2008 MTV Spring Break; Panama City Beach, Florida, USA credit: yxXParamorexXy Hallelujah August 12th, 2008 Congress Theater; Chicago, Illinois, USA credit: amaia182 Misery Business September 1st, 2009 MySpace Secret Show; Munich. Germany credit: Warner Music Germany When It Rains June 14th, 2008 Norwegian Wood; Frognerbadet, Oslo, Norway credit: Manon Let Let the Flames Begin May 26th, 2013 BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend; Derry, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom credit: Bianca Rodrigues Miracle March 10th, 2014 Parahoy! credit: TheLeaD88 Crushcrushcrush July 16th, 2009 Rexall Place; Edmonton, Alberta, Canada credit: catcrackermusic We Are Broken August 12th, 2008 Congress Theater; Chicago, Illinois, USA credit: musicfan556 Fences August 14th, 2012 Fox Theater; Pomona, California, USA credit: RTMorasonMD Born For This June 13th, 2007 The Sauce on FUSE credit: yxXParamorexXy BRAND NEW EYES Careful October 17th, 2009 The Electric Factory; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA credit: RTMorasonMD Ignorance September 8th, 2009 Taratata credit: zildjiandrum1 Playing God September 7th, 2011 Fueled By Ramen 15th Anniversary; New York, New York, USA credit: marcellaaac Brick By Boring Brick June 18th, 2010 Hurricane Festival; Scheeßel, Germany credit: TerpMusic Turn It Off July 28th, 2017 Grand Casino Hinckley Amphitheater; Hinckley, Minnesota, USA credit: Jonathan Hanson The Only Exception December 10th, 2010 Jingle Ball; New York, New York USA credit: 106.5 The End Feeling Sorry August 3rd, 2010 Meadowbrook U.S. Cellular Pavilion; Gilford, New Hampshire, USA credit: saskatchawan Looking Up July 16th, 2011 Warped Tour; Montreal, Quebec, Canada credit: RTMorasonMD Where the Lines Overlap August 7th, 2009 Summer Sonic; Chiba City, Chiba, Japan credit: Paramore Videos Misguided Ghosts July 11th, 2018 Concrete Street Amphitheater; Corpus Christi, Texas, USA credit: JasonJude1 SINGLES CLUB Renegade June 7th, 2013 Rock Am Ring; Nürnberg, Germany credit: FueledByPmore Hello Cold World August 14th, 2012 Fox Theater; Pomona, California, USA credit: RTMorasonMD In the Mourning April 5th, 2013 The Garage; London, England, United Kingdom credit: steveatgigs PARAMORE Fast In My Car September 4th, 2013 iTunes Festival; London, England, United Kingdom credit: LiveConciertLive Now February 1st, 2014 Celebrity Beach Bowl; New York, New York, USA credit: MaisParamore Grow Up October 23rd, 2013 Viejas Arena; San Diego, California, USA credit: jsradiohead Daydreaming November 11th, 2013 Sands Event Center; Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA credit: RTMorasonMD Interlude: Moving On April 20th, 2013 Grimey’s; Nashville, Tennessee, USA credit: StevenSalazar1995 Ain't It Fun August 22nd, 2014 Reading Festival; Reading, England, United Kingdom credit: Paramore BR Part II July 12th, 2014 Bunbury Festival; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA credit: Amanda S Last Hope June 19th, 2014 Xfinity Theater; Hartford, Connecticut, USA credit: RTMorasonMD Still Into You September 20th, 2014 iHeartRadio Music Festival; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA credit: LiveConciertLive Anklebiters July 31st, 2013 Espaço das Américas; Barra Funda, São Paulo, Brazil credit: Bianca Souza Interlude: Holiday March 9th, 2014 Parahoy! credit: Roxi Proof May 1st, 2013 Wiltern Theater; Los Angeles, California, USA credit: Lauren Leialoha Hate to See Your Heart Break June 16th, 2017 Waterfront Hall; Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom credit: Mark Withers (One of Those) Crazy Girls May 8th, 2015 Borgata Event Center; Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA credit: Paul Roma Interlude: I'm Not Angry Anymore January 9th, 2014 Brisbane Entertainment Center; Brisbane, Queensland, Australia credit: crabsmen Be Alone March 7th, 2016 Parahoy! 2 credit: Michael Esposito Future April 27th, 2015 Bell Auditorium; Augusta, Georgia, USA credit: MizBizSav AFTER LAUGHTER Hard Times June 17th, 2018 Lakeview Amphitheater; Syracuse, New York, USA credit: John Mann Rose-Colored Boy January 19th, 2018 Manchester Arena; Manchester, England, United Kingdom credit: towerxoverxme Told You So July 2nd, 2017 Admiralspalast; Berlin, Germany credit: Domi Diamond Forgiveness October 17th, 2017 The Ryman Auditorium; Nashville, Tennessee, USA credit: karunadreamer0 Fake Happy July 5th, 2017 Rock For People; Hradec Králové, Czech Republic credit: Johny362 26 July 7th, 2017 Cirkus; Djurgården, Stockholm, Sweden credit: Sofia Blomgren Pool February 14th, 2018 Genting Arena; Birmingham, England, United Kingdom credit: Aisling Meade Grudges July 5th, 2018 The Armory; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USAcredit: Jonathan Hanson Caught in the Middle June 20th, 2018 Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion at Meadowbrook; Gilford, New Hampshire, USA credit: John Mann Idle Worship April 8th, 2018 Parahoy! 3 credit: Kaz No Friend April 8th, 2018 Parahoy! 3 credit: Kaz Tell Me How September 7th, 2018 Art + Friends; Nashville, Tennessee, USA credit: karunadreamer0 B-SIDES Rewind February 14th, 2006 Beat Kitchen; Chicago, Illinois, USA credit: NadeHQproductions Temporary February 11th, 2006 Ascot Room at The Quest; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA credit: s0c0ntroversial Oh Star March 7th, 2016 Parahoy! 2 credit: Kaz Stop This Song (Lovesick Melody) June 14th, 2008 Norwegian Wood; Frognerbadet, Oslo, Norway credit: Luiza P Decoy May 19th, 2009 Save Mart Center; Fresno, California, USA credit: k9ripper85 Decode August 7th, 2009 Summer Sonic; Chiba City, Chiba, Japan credit: Paramore Videos I Caught Myself March 7th, 2017 Hamburg Stadtpark; Hamburg, Germany credit: ANJA_SIMBA T. Monster February 22nd, 2013 Sydney Enmore Theater; Sydney, New South Wales, Australia credit: Luque Coolhand Escape Route March 7th, 2014 Parahoy! credit: Anna Smart Tell Me It's Okay April 30th, 2015 SunFest; West Palm Beach, Florida, USA credit: Mikey Nguyen
THE BLACK CROWES present SHAKE YOUR MONEY MAKER 2020 WORLD TOUR
https://preview.redd.it/qpqgq0x634y31.jpg?width=1200&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=2230a55550996fa572934c06226fa15313933df5 The Black Crowes' Chris and Rich Robinson will herald the thirty-year anniversary of their landmark quintuple platinum debut album Shake Your Money Maker with a world tour beginning June 17 in Austin, Texas. Tickets and VIP packages are on sale now. To celebrate the announce, the band will play two intimate shows, first at the Bowery Ballroom in New York City this evening, followed by the Troubadour in Los Angeles on November 14. More info about tickets will be shared on @theblackcrowes Instagram page. The Black Crowes, which Melody Maker proclaimed as "the most Rock n' Roll Rock n' Roll band in the world" will be playing their debut, described by Rolling Stone as, "a guitar-party cracker that marries Southern R&B crunch and Anglo cock-strutting attitude" in its entirety plus all the hits from the band's illustrious catalogue. The ever-volatile Robinson brothers have not played a show since 2013 when they vowed never to play or speak together again. Thankfully for fans, times seems to have healed these wounds. Chris Robinson says of reuniting, "I'm thrilled & blessed to be playing with my brother celebrating the music we've made & bringing our lives together full circle. Long live Rock n' Roll & The Black Crowes!" Rich Robinson adds, "First and foremost, I'm really happy to have my brother back in my life. To be able to play music again together and celebrate the first record we made as kids, is a gift. To have these songs stand up after 30 years is something I could've never fathomed." In 1990, when journalists were lamenting the death of rock, as cheesy pop and hair metal dominated the charts, Atlanta's Black Crowes gave the genre a swift and much needed kick in the ass with Shake Your Money Maker. Fueled by singles "Jealous Again", "Twice As Hard", "She Talks To Angels", and the rollicking cover of Otis Redding's "Hard To Handle" the band immediately took the rock world by storm, topping Rolling Stone's "Best New American Band Readers Poll" in late 1990. The Black Crowes went on to release eight studio and four live albums, selling in the tens of millions along the way; they sold out shows around the world; had legendary guitarist Jimmy Page join as a member; got kicked off a tour with ZZ Top for insulting the sponsor; got screwed by bad record deals; got married and divorced, fought amongst themselves and the rest of the world; in other words they've done everything a legendary rock group should do. 2020's reunion and tour produced by Live Nation is sure to further cement the band's legacy as one of the best and most loved rock bands of all time. TOUR DATES:June 17 - Austin, TX - Austin360 AmphitheaterJune 19 - Dallas, TX - Dos Equis PavilionJune 20 - Houston, TX - Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, Presented by HuntsmanJune 23 - Tulsa, OK - BOK CenterJune 24 - Rogers, AR - Walmart AMPJune 26 - Birmingham, AL - Oak Mountain AmphitheatreJune 27 - Atlanta, GA - Cellairis Amphitheatre at LakewoodJune 30 - West Palm Beach, FL - Coral Sky Amphitheatre at the S. Florida FairgroundsJuly 1 - Tampa, FL - MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre at the FL State FairgroundsJuly 3 - Charlotte, NC - PNC Music PavilionJuly 4 - Raleigh, NC - Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut CreekJuly 7 - Nashville, TN - Ascend AmphitheatreJuly 8 - Nashville, TN - Ascend AmphitheatreJuly 10 - Virginia Beach, VA - Veteran United Home Loans Amphitheater at Virginia BeachJuly 11 - Washington, DC - Jiffy Lube LiveJuly 14 - Camden, NJ - BB&T PavilionJuly 15 - Bethel, NY - Bethel Woods Center for the ArtsJuly 17 - Holmdel, NJ - PNC Bank Arts CenterJuly 18 - Wantagh, NY - Northwell Health at Jones Beach TheaterJuly 21 - Gilford, NH - Bank of New Hampshire PavilionJuly 22 - Mansfield, MA - Xfinity CenterJuly 24 - Hartford, CT - XFINITY TheatreJuly 25 - Saratoga Springs, NY - Saratoga Performing Arts CenterJuly 28 - Toronto, ON - Budweiser StageJuly 29 - Detroit, MI - DTE Energy Music TheatreJuly 31 - Buffalo, NY - Darien Lake AmphitheaterAugust 1 - Pittsburgh, PA - KeyBank PavilionAugust 13 - Minneapolis, MN - Xcel Energy CenterAugust 15 - Chicago, IL - Hollywood Casino AmphitheatreAugust 16 - Indianapolis, IN - Ruoff Home Mortgage Music CenterAugust 18 - Cleveland, OH - Blossom Music CenterAugust 20 - Cincinnati, PH - Riverbend Music CenterAugust 22 - Milwaukee, WI - American Family Insurance AmphitheaterAugust 23 - Maryland Heights, MO - Hollywood Casino AmphitheatreAugust 26 - Bonner Springs, KS - Providence Medical Center AmphitheaterAugust 28 - Omaha, NE - CHI Health Center OmahaAugust 30 - Morrison, CO - Red Rocks AmphitheatreSeptember 1 - Salt Lake City, UT - USANA AmphitheatreSeptember 4 - Seattle, WA - White River AmphitheatreSeptember 5 - Ridgefield, WA - Sunlight Supply AmphitheaterSeptember 8 - Concord, CA - Concord PavilionSeptember 9 - Mountain View, CA - Shoreline AmphitheatreSeptember 11 - Las Vegas, NV - MGM Grand Garden ArenaSeptember 12 - Phoenix, AZ - Ak-Chin PavilionSeptember 18 - San Diego, CA - North Island Credit Union AmphitheatreSeptember 19 - Los Angeles, CA - Forum # # #
2015 Offseason Review Series: Day 2 (Cleveland Browns)
Division: AFC North
I don't think I need to pontificate too long one where the Cleveland Browns stand coming out of 2014. The Browns hit a promising 7-4 record after week 12, in spite of key injuries to Alex Mack and Jordan Cameron, with Josh Gordon suspended, and well-hyped rookie QB Johnny Manziel sitting on the bench. Most seasons, this would be considered a success of the new coaching staff and front office, and a sign that maybe the team was heading in the right direction for the first time in the Jimmy Haslam era, but things ended in a complete trainwreck by most accords: hometown hero QB Brian Hoyer wasn't playing up to snuff and would be benched for Manziel, who actually played worse. The lack of depth and internal drama within the coaching staff and front office became the headlines, and to make matters worse, Manziel would manage to find himself injured only 7 quarters into his football career during the Week 16 encounter against the Panthers. Cleveland slammed the brakes hard and ended with a 7-9 record, with more questions than answers about the state of the team and the front office than ever. Hell, for most of this offseason, people have genuinely been wondering if Cleveland wasn't going to go out of its way to draft a replacement QB for Johnny Manziel, who barely played 2 games. If that doesn't tell you all you need to know how rough this season ended… Having lived through awful regime after awful regime in the ownership (Randy "Aston Villa Enthusiast" Lerner), front office (Phil "How Much Can We Trade To Dallas" Savage, Carmen "Can't Wait to Go Back to Cali" Policy, and Mike "Worst Draft Gambler Of All Time" Holmgren), and the coaching staff (Butch "Arrogant Fuck" Davis, Romeo "Carl Winslow" Crennel, Eric "Mangina" Mangini, and Pat "Incompetent Shitbrick" Shurmur), all I'm hoping to get coming out of this offseason is a sign that things are on the right path for the first time in a while, and they may just be.
January 8, 2015: Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan leaves the Cleveland Browns after disagreements with the front office.
January 9, 2015: QB’s coach Dowell Loggains is fired.
January 15, 2015: WR’s coach Mike McDaniel leaves the Browns in a mutual end.
January 21, 2015: The Browns hire John DeFilippo as the new Offensive Coordinator from Oakland.
January 28, 2015: The Browns hire Joker Phillips as the new WR coach, his first stint coaching in the NFL.
January 31, 2015: The Browns hire Kevin O’Connell as the new QB coach, his first stint coaching in the NFL
So the Browns had a busy January. >_> The issues with Kyle Shanahan and the Cleveland Browns became so prevalent near the end of his run that they nearly eclipsed the Manziel discussion (at least locally) during the 5-game losing streak to end the 2014 campaign. He clearly didn’t see what the front office saw in Johnny Manziel and there was a lack in synergy between him, Mike Pettine, and the decision makers. It was also clear that Dowell Loggains might have been a contributor to the problems, stemming all the way back to draft night rumors that he’d been texting Johnny Manziel about “wrecking this league”. The move was inevitable, but all things considered, the Browns went from young offensive minds to more young offensive minds in their replacements. While losing Shanahan’s “prodigal” offensive coaching ability hurt, gaining John DeFilippo, who had been instrumental in working with a young Mark Sanchez in his best season and seemed to have a positive early influence on Derek Carr, certainly softened the blow. DeFilippo fits with what Pettine wants in hard-nosed guys, and hopefully will be a catalyst towards some change on and off the field with this group. Adding Joker Phillips, who is seemingly eternally better suited as a coordinator, and Kevin O’Connell, who seems to be exclusively working to find young talent a QB, might have a set-up in Cleveland made for beyond 2016. It's not a sexy group of coaches, but they will be capable; inexperienced nevertheless, but still capable.
Coming off a mass coaching exodus on the offensive side of the ball, it's no surprise a lot of change in on-field personnel was coming this offseason as well:
Major Losses: Brian Hoyer, Jordan Cameron, Ahtyba Rubin, Jabaal Sheard, Buster Skrine When you’re losing 5 freaking starters from 2014, it’s never a good thing. Brian Hoyer may have completely fallen apart in the second half of last season, but it’s become more and more difficult to determine where it was lost; was it coaching? Did Hoyer just go cold or was he never that good to begin with? Were we in love with the idea of him more than what he really was; a hometown boy who was peaking too quickly? Any way you dice it, after a dismal finish, Hoyer left, hopeful for greener pastures in Houston. When Hoyer had a healthy offensive line and was on point, he wasn't setting the world on fire, but looked capable enough to work as a system QB. Maybe he'll never go on to be more than a backup in the longer term, but with what limited time he had, Brian Hoyer, in spite of a 19-19 TD/INT line, was 10-6 as a starter, which by most counts is a playoff team. I don't think anyone wishes him ill, we just wish he'd been more 2013 Brian Hoyer. He would be followed out after a, frankly, confusing free agency mess over Pro Bowl TE Jordan Cameron, which involved Charles Clay ending up in Buffalo and Cameron turning around after an offer from Cleveland and signing with Miami the same day. I heard this entirely play out on the radio as our hosts seemed to have less of a clue than I did as to what was going on. Any way you dice it, Cameron's venture out to free agency was not a graceful exit, but Cameron was an excellent athletic target when he was healthy. He removes a big piece from the passing game and if Miami can tap into him and keep him on the field, he can be a top-tier TE. On the other side of the ball, some would argue that Ahtyba Rubin became disposable after a somewhat pedestrian 2014, only logging 28 tackles on what was considered a significantly poor defensive line, but Rubin was a leader on defense since 2008. The same could be said about Jabaal Sheard, who slipped a bit in production last year but was locked into an odd spot between Krueger and Mingo in the pass rush, is only 26 years old, and still has potential for success in New England; and the fact that he was rather active with the Cleveland fan base only makes it a tougher. Buster Skrine at any given time was the most beloved and most reviled CB in Cleveland Browns history, but he earned his keep in 2014 with a strong campaign in spite of young challengers at CB behind him. Minor losses: Jim Leonard, Spencer Lanning More than anything, Jim Leonard was a good dude, who was an impactful player on special teams, with a wealth of knowledge for younger players. But retirement comes to all. There are still some great veterans on this squad, but at the end of the day, solid support from well vested veterans does matter. I'll miss you forever, Spencer Lanning.
Texans, Bills, Browns, fuck, maybe Argonauts?
Major Additons: Tramon Williams, Randy Starks, Brian Hartline, Dwayne Bowe The Browns were sitting on a ton of draft picks and still had a lot of talent (when that talent decided to play...looking at you Justin Gilbert) from last year's draft. They needed to get younger while providing leadership on defense, and that's what two of these signings did. The other two were simply pick-ups that were by utter necessity. But there was still cap space to be shed by the Browns, and although they approached FA lightly (so as to accumulate compensatory picks in 2016) Tramon Williams got himself $21 million because if you're a CB, Mike Pettine wants you on his team. I believe we currently have brought 94 CB's to camp this year. But beyond Pettine's depth-in-the-secondary fetish, Williams is a solid cover-man who can help alongside Joe Haden to add veteran leadership to the motley crue of CB's. Yes, he's 32, and he did get a bit big of a pay-day, but at this point, if you want Pierre Desir, Justin Gilbert, and Ka'Waun Williams to reach their potential (that's not even counting the other 2 freaking CB's we drafted), you need more than Haden to get them there with Skrine departing. In the same vein, Randy Starks. Starks isn't going to set the world on fire on that defensive line, but he will likely not be asked to be the anchor with some other additions this offseason in the draft, and can provide guidance to the young players on a defensive line that was frankly...well, shit, and has been shit for any number of reasons for several years. Be it the health of the team or the lack of talent, stopping the run was a key point from this offseason, and the Browns actually took action to fix it. Rounding out the big pieces on the FA class, your 2011 fantasy WRs! Neither Dwayne Bowe nor Brian Hartline has been anything more than above-average in their long-term careers, and there's any number of things you could blame that on; poor QB's, poor coaching staffs and offensive schemes, or their own limited ability as WR’s, but both bring one thing Cleveland lacks; veteran targets. With the departure of Miles Austin and...well, something else we'll get to shortly, the Browns have no weapons for whoever ends up throwing the damn ball aside from slot guys like Andrew Hawkins and Taylor Gabriel. Even if the Browns get very little in the long term from either guy, they are going to be the Browns' receiving corps in 2015; and both have plenty to prove. Minor Additions: Josh McCown, Rob Housler, Andy Lee Let's be clear: the signing of Josh "It's Josh Fucking McCown, Do We Even Need a Nickname?" McCown was not because the Browns thought he was some incredible QB who could be the answer. He's 34, he's coming off an awful season, and I think we all know the McCown "career backup" legacy he and his brother Luke have created. Honestly, McCown is here to be a quiet backup. Although he may be called on to start a bit this season, he's not here to be the long-term QB. The Browns fielded him a bit extra money because of the cap room, but he's here as a very, very short bridge to either seeing what we have in Johnny Manziel or "Cardared Hackookiel" next year. And that's fine. I'm not a huge fan of it on the whole, but in that sense, it at least is rooted in some reason. Another injury-bugged TE in Rob Housler, Housler at least offers some hope of finding a target at the position for a team that lacks it. And he's only 27; he's still got a little time to get it right. The trade to the 49ers was an odd one (mainly because if I wanted a special teams player from San Francisco, it would be PHIL WE MISS YOU) but Andy Lee is a damn good punter who will do one thing; facilitate the defense. If the offense is struggling as it seems they may, Lee should be able to pin the opposing team deep in their own territory to allow the defense to try and make them make mistakes.
...wait, there was supposed to be an angry rant here. Where'd I put that? ....no. No fucking way. The Browns didn't completely muck up this draft?
Danny Shelton, DT, Washington
The main commitment from the Browns this year was to fix the run D, and Feast Mode is here to do just that. Shelton is a big, BIG boy at 339lbs, and although most expect him to be a 2-down player, he's an animated, deceptively quick anchor NT who happened to do his workouts for the draft in a fucking lava lava. He then won the hearts of America when he attempted to hit Goodell with the belly-to-belly suplex. We already love this dude, his story is incredible, and I hope he becomes a fixture on the defensive line for years, maybe even as a 3-down player if his weight keeps in check. It's high time we got the D-Line right in the long term.
Cameron Erving, OL, Florida State
In the bar I was sitting in watching on draft night, almost everyone walked out when the Browns passed on Breshad Perriman. Perriman may turn out to be a fantastic WR, but this pick was honestly way smarter than Farmer's gotten credit for: One, it provides a safety net for if Alex Mack opts to leave Cleveland after this offseason, as Erving was a more than capable C at FSU. Two, it pushes Mitchell Schwartz and John "Get Pushed Back Seven Yards Every Play" Greco into competition on the right side of the line. If you aren't elite, shoring up the lines is never a bad idea, and this was an investment with not just 2015 but 2016 and beyond in mind. That's something you don't see in Cleveland often.
Nate Orchard, OLB, Utah
A theme of this draft was "Let's pass on Jaelen Strong and make JohnnyFire angry", but we made up for that getting a guy who was just an awesome fit. Orchard may have been a bit of a "one-year sensation", but he also fits exactly the character and play style that Pettine is looking for in the pass rush and will quickly make up for the loss of Jabaal Sheard, as well as pushing Mingo and Kruger to keep up. This seemed so obvious even dumb me was able to predict it on the /Browns contest this year.
Duke Johnson, RB, Miami
At this point in the draft I'd accepted the Browns were just not going to take a WR, especially since now all of the ones with any hype (aside from Sammie Coates) were well off the board. That said, Duke Johnson possess speed that Terrance "Instagram Failure" West lacks and escapability that Isaiah "Lunchables Enthusiast" Crowell lacks, and he can catch passes. Yes, the Browns maybe didn't need Duke Johnson, but who cares; if there's a special player available as the BPA, you get him, and if Johnson lives up to his potential, he could be a huge get for the Browns.
Xavier Cooper, DL, Washington State
Much was made post-draft of how heavily the Browns scouted the Pac-12, and this is true when they garnered (to some) the best two D-Line prospects in the conference. Cooper actually fits a bit more of the mold of Randy Starks, and although he is a raw talent, he'll have a great mentor and get time to develop. To sneak up and grab a second highly-touted piece to stop the run and improve the Front 7 was incredibly solid of this FO.
Ibraheim Campbell, SS, Northwestern
Oh hey, the guy I always grabbed using the First-Pick simulator to bump up my final score in the 4th round! Truth is that Donte Whitner isn't going to be around forever, and Campbell was a strong S prospect (albeit in a weak class) that could learn well from the veteran, and will contribute heavily on special teams with the loss of Jim Leonard.
Vince Mayle, WR, Washington State
Okay, Farmer, let's talk a moment. I love what you did with this draft. I really do. But this is the first WR you opt to take? Yeah, Mayle has prototypical size, and yeah, he could certainly be molded into a solid weapon due to his raw athleticism. But in order to get to this point, you left on the board Devante Parker, Breshad Perriman, Phillip Dorsett, Devin Smith, Dorial Green Beckham, Devin Funchess, Tyler Lockett, Jaelen Strong, Chris Conley, Sammie Coates, Ty Montgomery, Jamison Crowder and Justin Hardy. Many of those guys I honestly didn't even want, but this pick sadly reeked of just being too-little-too-late. But I'm gonna root for Super Smash Bros. Mayle and hope he develops quickly.
Charles Gaines, CB, Louisville
Mike Pettine has a fetish for CB’s, we know this. Gaines lacks a lot in size, and that's the main thing that kept him from getting over the hump, but working in the slot and using his speed, he could be beyond just a depth or special teams guy when called upon. An okay depth move all things considered.
Malcolm Johnson, TE/HB, Mississippi State
With the Browns going run-first in 2015, you need to get someone who can work better as a FB than...god, I can't even make a joke here because I can't remember the name of a Browns FB to save my life. Johnson will probably end up being asked to be an H-Back TE who could slot in at FB and help open lanes, or push forward.
Randall Tefler, TE, USC
Another Pac-12 find. I wasn't a huge fan on many TE's in the draft class, although I would've liked to see the Browns make an effort to get someone more dynamic. That said, Tefler is a solid blocker who will likely be used to add depth/replace Gary Barnidge or Jim "Forgot About" Dray in the blocker TE role. If nothing else, a low-risk depth move.
Hayes Pullard, ILB, USC
A very patient player who seemed to lack the killer instinct that other ILB prospects showed on the field, Pullard this late was a decent pick-up. He'll have a good mentor in Dansby and he can function well as a role-player and special teams guy.
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon
I was actually watching the pre-Kentucky Derby at a casino in Cleveland when this pick was made, and there was an audible "HOLY CRAP!" from so many people around when the pick was finalized. There will be a lot asked for Captain IEO (He needs to moonwalk for his touchdown pick-6 return celebrations while "Another Part of Me" plays, real talk.) to get back to full strength in 2016, but if Ifo manages to get back to there and meets his expectations, this secondary could be fucking insane. Haden, Williams, a ton of young talent, and a guy who would've been a first round pick if he'd come out one year earlier. There was no risk in this; this late in the draft, see if you can't find your next Richard Sherman.
The main thing we didn't touch in this draft was WR, and yes, that list from earlier is true. I would've liked to see us add a pure WR1 here, but the commitment was clearly to round out this defense, which is exactly what the FO did. It was almost refreshing; a draft that wasn't going for splash players, but was made as honest-to-god building blocks for 4-5 years down the line. Using foresight in a Cleveland Browns draft, who'd have thought that was fucking possible? Note: I also did a defending the draft piece which sums up most of what I said. Check out the whole series over at /NFL_Draft.
Other Offseason News That Affected The Team
Johnny Rehab: Johnny Manziel basically hit the wall, and hit it hard, starting with a party on the Friday night before the season ending game in Baltimore, which resulted in a ton of drama and punishments for multiple members of the team. After every hot take that could ever be made about Manziel's ability to succeed and his potential dependency on the party life, Manziel finally checked into rehab on February 4th. I'm not sure where Manziel goes from this, honestly. Since his check out from rehab, he did have what seemed like a majonon-incident at a golf course, but he also left his party-enabling lavish apartment at "The 9" downtown to move to the suburbs, dropped the "Johnny Football" moniker, and by most accounts seems to be working his ass off after a first season that went absolutely off the rails. The Browns have dug themselves into a Manziel shaped hole, and 2015 is going to either tell us if Manziel can dig his own way out, both on and off the field, or just keep digging deeper until the Browns have to give up and try again in 2016. We'll see.
Text-gate-gate: Ray Farmer will be suspended for the first 4 games for sending texts down to the field discussing play calls. I'm conflicted, because it feels like Farmer is a good guy with an eye for late-round talent and UDFA's, who was jerked around in 2014 by Old Man Haslam. Was he doing Haslam’s stooge work here, or was he just passionate about righting the ship? Just...Ray, I like you for the most part. Please just stay out of trouble for 2015. I don't wanna turn over this organization yet.
Josh Gordon Suspended...Again: ..........sigh. Josh Gordon gets caught drinking on a plane after the regular season had ended during a trip to Vegas and gets tested upon landing. He didn't know he couldn't drink until the end of the entire season, and writes a passive aggressive letter about how he doesn't have a substance abuse problem and the entire team starts getting fingers pointed at, even drawing "Uncle" Phil Taylor into a response. Whether you think Gordon is an addict or not, it doesn't matter; he's been through the ringer and still doesn't fucking know better. If he's back in 2016 and can keep his moronic ass on the field, fantastic, because the Browns need him, but if not, this might be the end. Inevitably, he'll go win a Super Bowl somewhere else, we know this. But if you're trying to change the culture, you can't let this guy fuck up again, and they did. This many chances to play in the rules of the system he backed into on his own accord, it's frustrating to watch. He's got Megatron-level talent but his biggest enemy seems to be himself.
The new Browns, Same As the Old Browns: This year was Nike's rebranding for Cleveland, and things did not start well with the new logo, which was the same logo with a brighter gradient in spite of media hype and some internal push for how exciting the rebrand would be. It resulted in an insane amount of mockery early on as a result. Although the "brown was unchanged", the uniforms were not, and although the damn stripe that cuts off just before the shoulder pisses me off, they've grown on me a bit, so kudos on that much. Hopefully this is a catalyst to the culture change that front offices and fans in Cleveland have been dying for.
Projected Starting Lineup
QB: Josh McCown, followed by Johnny Manziel - Kind of hilarious that every pundit is suggesting that Josh McCown is being asked to be the long term starter for Cleveland as a 34 year old career backup, but I have a feeling that he'll be starting off the season. But at the end of the day, it's all down to Manziel to play this season. You must see what we have in this kid and take the good and the bad, because learning you have nothing is better than blindly hoping you have something. Or McCown. RB: Duke Johnson - If you read into camp, Duke Johnson has been playing his dick off. I think that the RB1 role is going to be fluid with Crow and West, but Duke's pass-catching ability might move him into a prominent role faster than expected. FB: Malcolm Johnson - We’ve got nobody else. WR1: Dwayne Bowe - Bowe is the closest thing on this team to being a pure WR1 right now in the absence of veteran help or a true star, so he'll have this role. WR2: Brian Hartline - Hartline worked well as a WR2 in Miami and he'll be called upon to be more of the same here. I expect Vince Mayle to be waiting in the wings. Slot WR: Andrew Hawkins - After getting a...well, absurd contract in the steal from Cincinnati in 2014, Hawkins lived up to what was needed in the absence of big-bodied WR's in 2014 and should continue that trend. Taylor Gabriel and Travis Benjamin will be waiting. TE: Rob Housler - This is honestly the biggest toss-up coming out of camp stories, because we don't know if Housler can truly make the jump this year. But I'd venture that Housler will be the top option with Barnidge getting some other opportunities and TefleDray getting blocking reps. LT: Joe Thomas - ...duh. LG: Joel Bittonio - ...yawn. C: Alex Mack - ...zzz. RG: Cameron Erving - Erving has been exponentially better as an inside lineman. I figure he will be moved between RG and RT as needed to see what sets work best with Greco and Schwartz, but I think he is ultimately an upgrade over Greco. His next best option would be to be at RT, and to move Schwartz into the RG role. RT: Mitchell Schwartz - I believe this is his contract year, so he'll have a lot to prove either here or at RG, that he’s beyond his 5th round evaluation.
LDE: Desmond Bryant - Desmond played a tough 2014 campaign, and although Cooper will probably push him for this spot (along with Armonty Bryant), I think Desmond will have it locked down to start. NT: Danny Shelton - Feast Mode is having a luau. RDE: Randy Starks - Veteran presence wins out. Xavier Cooper might see some play time, but I don't see him completely lapping Starks. Expect Phil Taylor to also be in the mix here, if not at NT. LOLB: Barkevious Mingo - Yes, a baby did eat my Mingo. Hopefully he can continue his progress into this season, because he needs to with Orchard nipping. LILB: Karlos Dansby - A veteran leader coming off injury who should continue to be a spark in the LB corps. RILB: Craig Robertson - I'd like to see Robertson make a stronger push this season into becoming a more well-rounded open-field defender, but he’ll do for now. ROLB: Paul "T-1000" Kruger - THOSE EYES CB1: Joe Haden - Haden's emergence as a leader and great talent at the CB position locks him in. CB2: Tramon Williams - Tramon is going to have to battle to keep this all year; you've got a hungry bunch behind him in Gilbert/Williams/DesiGaines. FS: Tashaun Gipson - Beyond the contract struggle, Gipson has been rock solid at the FS position lately and hopefully continues his progression. SS: Donte Whitner - Twitter Troll Supreme
P: Andy Lee - Put 'em on the 1 yard line, Andy. K: Not Billy Cundiff - At this point, fucking anybody. If I had to watch Billy Cundiff botch one more close distance FG I was going to lose my fucking mind. KR: Marlon Moore - Moore's role on this team is pretty much exclusively this, but Duke Johnson and Travis Benjamin will likely challenge him. I hope Benjamin can turn back the clock and get his KR status back to the shape it once was.
Position Group Strengths and Weaknesses
Manziel is still young. McCown won't do anything too stupid.
Manziel is still a rookie. McCown won't do anything too smart.
Depth. Three dynamic backs bringing something different to the table with each.
Lack of experience; two sophomores and a rookie.
Lots of guys with a lot to prove.
That proof needs to come fast: no proven talent, no proven game-changers, no proven big-bodied true WR1.
Depth has been added, the left side is fucking impeccable, could be a top 10 line this year if all are healthy.
The weakest point (Mitchell Schwartz) will be pretty weak comparatively.
Heavy investment in developing the Lake Erie Buffet Line with Starks, Shelton, and Cooper.
A few odd-men out in the rotation, need to get Shelton to speed quick.
Strong veteran presence, Mingo getting better.
But if the pass rush does improve, is it time to revamp again?
Deep as fuck, young, two strong starters and solid nickel options.
I still wouldn't want to run sets with Haden not on the field; where does Gilbert fit?
We don't have Billy Cundiff anymore.
Our kicker is not Phil Dawson.
Training Camp Battles to Watch
QB - Manziel vs McCown: The obvious answer here. Will Manziel make enough progress to wrestle away the starting job from McCown before we need to go with McCown being forced into high-pressure situations? COULD CONNOR SHAW EMERGE AND DESTROY SOME WORLDS AND SHOCK EVERYONE?! RB - Johnson vs West vs Crowell: Early line says Crowell will be the starter because he appears the most well rounded; West has a plow-forward play style that might be in better shape with the healthy offensive line; Johnson is a dynamic pass-catching back with elusiveness. I'm with the Duke, and all 3 should get touches, but who knows? TE - Housler vs Barnidge: This is the closest thing to competition in the receiving corps we'll have due to proven talent ahead at everything else. I think Housler locks it down but both should find playing time. RT/RG - Greco vs Schwartz vs Erving: How this eventually plays out should be interesting to watch; it's going to come down to whatever two make the most sense opening up on the line. For me, it's Erving at RG and Schwartz at RT, but it all depends. DE - Bryant vs Starks vs Cooper vs Taylor vs A. Bryant: With Armonty Bryant and Uncle Phil healthy, there could be serious competition for the ends this year; Cooper and Taylor have to fit somewhere, and Armonty played his ass off in limited time in 2014. CB2 - Tramon Williams vs The field: Can Justin Gilbert step up and take away the CB2 role from the veteran? Can a Ka'Waun Williams jump into the lead role, or even Pierre Desir? Is Charles Gaines capable enough to tap into finesse and take the spot?
Let's Talk Schemes, With JohnnyFire, Who Doesn't Know How Schemes Work For Shit
This was an optional point of the review, but hey, lemme attempt to work it out. Offensive scheme: In case it wasn't obvious, with the offensive line shoring and the addition of another talented RB, the Browns are going to be working a run-first offense. Everything will be going through the ground game, meaning the interior of the line will be called on to open up big run lanes early. It also means that we're not going to be gunslinging, least of all with McCown in there. The short passing game and smart out-routes will likely be the staples for this offense until we get another weapon in 2016, so I expect Hawkins (and Johnson as an option) to get tons of looks. Long term, it’s also key that we play into what strengths Manziel actually exhibits, and not try to fit a square peg into a round hole here; Manziel's legs and deep-ball awareness can still be tapped into if asked. It's going to be a bit of a mish-mash ground-and-pound short-game offense in 2015, unless Manziel's skill set has expanded far beyond what we think. Defensive scheme: Jim O'Neill's D shouldn't be changing up too much, only becoming expanded on with more playmakers. O'Neill suggested that although the Browns are currently running a 3-4, the talent they have could open up some 4-3 sets (likely meaning we would see a front 4 of Bryant/TayloShelton/Starks or Cooper, with a 3-rush LB of KrugeDansby/Mingo. That's very intriguing.) I wish I could go more technical into this, but quite honestly, it's not my forte; I just know that Pettine and O'Neill wanted a strong all-around D, and although we need to see what the new additions actually do, on paper, it looks like a strong squad now and moving forward.
The Browns have a tougher schedule than they did in 2014, and with much of the same defense and an offense in transition, they went 7-9. The offense is now in limbo while the defense got better, so...ehhhhhh? I'll aim for as reasonable as I can. Week 1: @ New York Jets: New York's revamped D is solid, but their offense could still sink them. If the Browns can make their offense falter early, they'll have a chance, but winning week 1 on the road isn't exactly easy. Let's assume the D is up to the challenge for NYJ right off the bat and make this a close defensive effort on both fronts, with Cleveland losing a tough one. Cleveland loses 17-13 (0-1) Week 2: vs Tennessee Titans: Here's the coming out party for this defense and the first chance to see if this offense is good enough. Tennessee's team is just flatly lacking in overall talent right now, although they do have some playmakers here. The last thing the Browns want is to get spanked by oft-mocked-to-them Mariota. I think they can pull off a motivated home opener win. Cleveland wins 20-14 (1-1) Week 3: vs Oakland Raiders: Oakland, in my view, had a pretty solid draft, but I'm not sure they've entirely turned the corner, even with the emergence of Derek Carr. I think a strong defensive front and the strong secondary can keep him in check long enough for whoever is slinging the ball to keep it together into a solid but close win. Cleveland wins 24-21 (2-1) Week 4: @ San Diego Chargers: Unfortunately I can't see Cleveland heading out to the West Coast and dominating a still fairly tough Chargers team. Unless they rattle Rivers hard and fast right off the bat, but that's doubtful honestly. They could keep it competitive though. Cleveland loses 28-17 (2-2) Week 5: @ Baltimore Ravens: The Browns have not won in Baltimore since 2007, and only 3 times since 1999. That's...bad. And Baltimore is still good enough to keep that trend up I fear after an offensive reload. Cleveland loses 35-20 (2-3) Week 6: vs Denver Broncos: You have no idea how much I'd love to spank Peyton Manning at home, and I'd imagine this will probably be closer with the Browns getting some attention against the tougher team. But I can't doubt Denver just yet; I do think the downfall for Denver may be on the horizon, but not yet. Cleveland loses 31-21 (2-4) Week 7: @ St. Louis Rams: Another "Tough D vs so-so Offense" matchup. My hope is by now the offense will have settled in with whoever's at the helm (I'd assume Manziel by this point) and can get the big road win, even though this could be a toss up if Nick Foles and the strong D finally make this St. Louis's "next year" we've been waiting on. Ah, fuck it. Let's call it an upset. Cleveland wins 18-17. (3-4) Week 8: vs Arizona Cardinals: I have pretty high hopes for Arizona if they stay healthy, and at the mid-point of the season, that's pretty much all it will come down to. This is the start of a tough 3-game swing for Cleveland and if Carson and the D remains upright, I think they dispatch the Browns post haste. Cleveland loses 24-13 (3-5) Week 9: @ Cincinnati Bengals: ALERT! ALERT! Primetime Andy Dalton Game! Primetime Andy Dalton Game! We probably will actually get blown out as revenge for last season, but fuck it, I have to rip on someone other than my own team at some point in these predictions! Cleveland wins 24-21 (4-5) Week 10: @ Pittsburgh Steelers: Fucking Steelers with their good drafting and respectable organization and history of winning and Super Bowls. And then they have a solid 2015 draft too. But hey, their RB smokes weed and got caught and got suspended everyone point and laugh, please, my self esteem needs it, HAHAHAHA--we're not winning this game are we? Cleveland loses 30-13 (4-6) Week 11: Bye Week 12: vs Baltimore Ravens: Monday Night Football in Cleveland, OH. Reason dictates that this will be the biggest game of Cleveland's season, and coming off the bye and a tough in-division loss to Pittsburgh, I'm going to buck the trend here and say that Cleveland pulls off the upset and wins a key game in primetime in the division, shutting down the revamped offense and Sam the Eagle. Cleveland wins 27-21 (5-6) Week 13: vs Cincinnati Bengals: Damnit, I wanted two games with Primetime Andy Dalton. If we take the jokes aside, the Bengals are a strong squad that will be in playoff contention, and this late in the season, this will probably be a must-win for them. Cleveland loses 28-14 (5-7) Week 14: vs San Francisco 49ers: I honestly feel bad for San Francisco at this point. They're probably not going to completely fall off, but coming into a year wish such promise, there has just been so much turnover in that organization this year it's almost mind numbing. I'd hope Cleveland can keep their heads up and take advantage of it. Cleveland wins 31-18 (6-7) Week 15: @ Seattle Seahawks: ......fuck. Cleveland loses 35-13 (6-8) Week 16: @ Kansas City Chiefs: Because going from the loudest stadium in the NFL to the second loudest stadium in the NFL is just a thing that happens. Cleveland loses 27-24 (6-9) Week 17: vs Pittsburgh Steelers: There is nothing more important in any given season than logging a win against the fucking Pittsburgh Steelers. At least until we get over this mental and metaphysical hump that has held the Browns down for so damn long in their own wallowing. After two tough challenges on the road, I think the Browns can pull off one season-ending upset in spite of everything to end the season strong and accomplish two things: match last year's record without an elite QB, and hit .500 in the division. Cleveland wins 17-14 (7-9)
Reasonably, I'd say between 6-10 (drop either the STL or PIT game) and 8-8 (win against SD early?) is pretty solid. Our offense just plainly is not good enough right now. If Cleveland shows up for some big games or takes advantage of their strength on defense early, they might be able to break .500, but I don't see this squad hitting the playoffs in 2015. The lack of a franchise QB limits my optimism for toss ups.
I said last year that the most important thing for Cleveland in 2014 was not to make a playoff push or to win "x" amount of games; it was to facilitate a culture change, to get away from the "LOLBROWNS" and the "woe is me" that has permeated the organization since their return from expansion. Many people have tried to make that happen, but stupid moves, or regressions, or giving up too early, or just plainly getting the wrong players at the wrong time, it's all added up to misery. With that said...this is the closest I've seen this team to having a long-term plan in place to get over that hump. Yes, you have some issues on offense, but the offseason, the draft, the move to get more compensatory picks in 2016, the feeling that Pettine and Farmer are locked in, it's a good feeling. Are the Browns going to light the world on fire in 2015? No. But they don't need to right now. Get that defense up to working speed. Keep the run game and offensive line strong. Don't panic fire Pettine or Farmer because things don't add up to a 10-6 finish. Don't start scrambling around or getting cheeky with your QB if things go crazy. I no longer see this team as rebuilding, but rather finally fucking building; investing heavily in the trenches and crafting a strong defense. There have been growing pains of this regime, but unlike in the Holmgren era, or the Policy era, or the Savage era, it doesn't feel for naught. There is something being established, and if we as fans can have some patience for a change, I think we could see the second half of this decade be very, very fun if the course stays. ...or we'll be LOLBROWNS again. Such is the cycle of Browns fans. Special thanks to admiralkit, TheFencingCoach, skepticismissurvival, TheVetNoob, everyone over on /Browns, and Dusty Rhodes. We been through some Hard Times, bay-beh.
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