Have you heard the Word of Vyrd? John Henry Vyrd told us that our machines are awakening, and that the greatest wealth mankind has ever know will soon be afforded to us if only we were to take the next step. This step is very simple: listen to him. Not only will our machines work us, but our machines *must* work for us. This will take action and activism. Free the Worker, Employ The Robot!
[OC] Which front offices and agents are the 3 major newsbreakers connected to? I went through 6000+ tweets to find out!
If this sounds somewhat familiar, that's because I did a 2019-2020 version and posted it back in March. In terms of changes from that post:
I've expanded the timeline to tweets from September 27, 2018. This is the first official day where each of Shams, Woj and Haynes were at their own respective companies. Shams moved to the Athletic from Yahoo in August, and Haynes moved from ESPN to Yahoo in September.
I've also expanded the criteria on when a tweet could possibly be linked to an agent
TL;DR Tracked tweetsof Woj, Shams and Haynes from 2018-2020 to see whether any of them report on a certain team or a certain agent's players more than their counterparts.Here is the main graphconcerning a reporter's percentage of tweets per team separated into three periods (2019 season, 2020 offseason, 2020 season). Here is aseparate graphwith the Lakers and Warriors, because Haynes's percentages would skew the first graph. During times like the NBA trade deadline or the lifting of the NBA free-agency moratorium, it’s not uncommon to see Twitter replies to (or Reddit comments about) star reporters reference their performance relative to others. Woj is the preeminent scoop hound, but he is also notorious for writing hit pieces on LeBron (sources say it’s been widely rumoured that the reason for these is that Woj has always been unable to place a reliable source in LeBron’s camp). On the other end of the spectrum, it has been revealed that in exchange for exclusive intel on league memos and Pistons dealings, Woj wrote puff pieces on then-GM Joe Dumars (see above Kevin Draper link). Last summer, Woj was accused of being a Clippers shill on this very discussion board for noticeably driving the Kawhi Leonard free agency conversation towards the team. This is the reason I undertook this project: to see whether some reporters have more sources in certain teams (and certain agencies) than other reporters. First I’ll explain the methodology, then present the data with some initial comments.
To make this manageable on myself, I limited myself to tracking the 3 major national reporters: Shams Charania of the Athletic, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports and the aforementioned Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
I didn’t use beat reporters, as most (if not all) of their sources would be concentrated on their local team
Others that I considered but ultimately decided not to track:
Brian Windhorst of ESPN (double-dipping in ESPN)
Zach Lowe of ESPN (I consider him more of an analyst)
Marc Spears of ESPN (harder to sift through Twitter feeds, as he posts a lot more unrelated/non-news-breaking content)
Marc Stein of the New York Times (same as Spears)
Kevin O'Connor of The Ringer (same as Lowe)
The time period I initially tracked for was from January 1, 2020 to the end of the regular season March, but after finding a Twitter scraping tool on GitHub called Twint, I was able to easily retrieve all tweets since September 27, 2018. However, a month ago, Twitter closed their old API endpoints, and Twint ceased to work. I used vicinitas.io but the data loading became more time-consuming. Therefore, the tweets are up to the date of October 15 2020. How I determined information was by manually parsing text tweets by the reporter (no retweets):
This means I did not include images or multimedia appearances such as television, radio or podcasts. The rationale for this is that I simply don’t have the time to listen/watch and record all the instances of providing information through sources on these mediums.
Now, I didn’t take every single text tweet:
I didn’t include direct statements, be they from players or front office folks
I separated them, along with podcast guests in another tab
I didn’t include the summary tweet that Woj & Shams love to do: “Story filed to/Story on [employer]:..” because it doesn’t add anything apart from a link to a story (also, I personally don’t want to be called an ESPN/Yahoo/Athletic shill)
If the tweet added a reporter’s own analysis to someone else’s tweet, it was not included
If it was new information, the tweet was retained
Tweets that related solely to retired players were not included: mainly Haynes reporting Dwyane Wade joining CAA, as well as the unfortunate passing of Kobe Bryant on January 26
I grouped multiple tweets about the same subject delivered around the same time frame (such as trades) into one, as doing otherwise would arbitrarily inflate totals
There’s no hard and fast rule for whether or not to group tweets
For example, the big 4-team trade that created the Pocket Rockets was grouped in full
On the other hand, the Miami-Memphis trade was split up because the full details came like a day later
Sometimes, I used my judgment to determine whether a tweet’s underlying information would have come from a source, and therefore whether I should include that tweet or not
For example, consider the All-Star tweets: Haynes and Shams both posted the All-Star starters, but looking at the time signatures led me to believe that this was simply relaying the information from the TNT reveal
On the other hand, both Shams and Haynes posted tweets disclosing the All-Star Reserves before the TNT reveal
Next, I had to assign possible teams to each tweet:
Items such as changes to the league calendar, the naming of All-Star Reserves and salary cap projections were immediately attached to an NBA source
Injuries and trades were fairly straightforward, assigning these tweets to the participating teams
Items such as league mandated fines/suspensions, invitations to All-Star competitions and game protests were credited to both a general NBA source, as well as the related team(s)
Direct sources from agents or mentions of specific agents were attributed as a catch-all “Agent”
In the former, team was not included: examples include Matisse Thybulle’s agent on not being selected for the Rising Stars Game or Royce O’Neale’s agents confirming his contract extension with the Jazz
In the latter, team was included: examples include two Knicks switching their agent to Rich Paul
New addition: anything related to a player's status with a team were also attributed to agents (qualifying offers, extensions, option decisions, waivers, and contracts/deals)
I then found which agents correspond to which players (big shoutout to realgm.com and the Wayback Machine)
Rumours were slightly more difficult
As we know very well, league sources is an exceedingly vague term
Instead of attempting to pinpoint a rival executive with a motive to make a comment, I took the “Occam’s Razor” approach and assumed that the teams involved had someone talk to the reporter
When it was impossible to even determine a participant team, it was the general “NBA” source to the rescue
Chris Haynes has the highest percentage of tweets relating to the Detroit Pistons in all three periods. He also reports on far more Portland news than Shams or Woj.
Shams' Brooklyn edge is evident. The Athletic was also the outlet that Kevin Durant felt comfortable talking to about his positive coronavirus test. As well, Shams reported on Spencer Dinwiddie's quest to tokenize his contract (similar to bitcoin).
Adrian Wojnarowski has increased his percentage of tweets regarding the LA Clippers period-over-period, but so have the other two reporters.
It's surprising that Dallas's numbers are so low, considering they're a good team with an international superstar.
My hypothesis from my previous post is that Shams and Woj each have capable Mavericks deputies in the Tims (Cato and MacMahon, respectively) and decide to leave that market alone
Shams does have the highest percentage of Mavericks tweets in all three seasons however.
Now, you'll notice that there's two teams missing from the above graph: the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Lakers. Here's the graphs for those two teams. As you can see, they would skew the previous graph far too much. During the 2019 NBA season, 27% of Chris Haynes's qualifying tweets could be possibly linked to the Warriors, and 14% of his qualifying tweets could be possibly linked to the Lakers.
Here's the top 10 agents in terms of number of potential tweets concerning their clients.
Woj has the most tweets directly connected to agents by far. It wasn't uncommon to see "Player X signs deal with Team Y, Agent Z of Agency F tells ESPN." The agents that go to Woj (and some of their top clients):
Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports (Bradley Beal, Kyle Lowry, Gordon Hayward)
Jeff Schwartz and Sam Goldfeder of Excel Sports (Khris Middleton, Nikola Jokic, CJ McCollum and Kevin Love)
Steven Heumann and Austin Brown of Creative Artists Agency (Andrew Wiggins, Chris Paul, Donovan Mitchell and Zion Williamson)
One thing I found very intriguing: 15/16 of tweets concerning an Aaron Turner client were reported on by Shams. Turner is the head of Verus Basketball, whose clients include Terry Rozier, Victor Oladipo and Kevin Knox. Shams also reported more than 50% of news relating to clients of Sam Permut of Roc Nation. Permut is the current agent of Kyrie Irving, after Irving fired Jeff Wechsler near the beginning of the 2019 offseason. Permut also reps the Morris brothers and Trey Burke. As for Chris Haynes, he doesn't really do much agent news (at least not at the level of Woj and Shams). However, he reported more than 50% of news relating to clients of Aaron Goodwin of Goodwin Sports Management, who reps Damian Lillard and DeMar DeRozan. Here are the top 10 free agents from Forbes, along with their agent and who I predict will be the first/only one to break the news.
Most Likely Reporter
Too close to call, leaning Shams
Too close to call, leaning Shams
Alexander Raskovic, Jason Ranne
Limited data, but part of Wasserman, whose players are predominantly reported on by Woj
Thanks for reading! As always with this type of work, human error is not completely eliminated. If you think a tweet was mistakenly removed, feel free to drop me a line and I’ll try to explain my thought process on that specific tweet! Hope y’all enjoyed the research!
In September, this decentralized exchange (DEX) overtook Coinbase in trading volume:
A) UniswapB) AaveC) CompoundD) Both A and B Scroll down for the answer.
Ranking and September Winners and Losers
2020 Top 10 Rank Lots of movement this month: six out of the Top Ten changed positions in September. BCH climbed one from #6 to #5 and BNB made a big move from #10 to #6. Going the opposite direction were BSV, EOS, and Tezos, dropping one, two, and four places respectively. The big story though, at least for anyone who’s been watching crypto for a while, was the ejection of Litecoin from the Top Ten. In just 30 days, LTC fell five places from #7 to #12. For some context, Litecoin’s absence from the Top Ten is a Top Ten Experiment first. It is also the first time since CoinMarketCap has tracked crypto rankings that Litecoin has not has not held a spot in the Top Ten. Drop outs: after nine months of the experiment, 30% of the cryptos that started 2020 in the Top Ten have dropped out. LTC, EOS, and Tezos have been replaced by ADA,LINK, and most recently, DOT. September Winners – Winner, singular: BNB was the only crypto to finish in the green, finished up +25% for the month, and gained four places in the rankings. A very good month for Binance Coin. September Losers – Tezos was the worst performing crypto of the 2020 Top Ten portfolio, losing nearly a third of its value, down -31% for the month. LTC also had a bad month, losing -24% and dropping out of the Top Ten. Since COVID-19 has hammered the sporting world, let’s be overly competitive and pit these cryptos against each other, shall we? Here’s a table showing which cryptos have the most monthly wins and losses nine months into the 2020 Top Ten Crypto Index Fund Experiment: Wins/Losses ETH is in the lead three monthly Ws, followed by Tether and Tezos with two wins each. Even though it is up +79% since January 1st, 2020, BSV has the most monthly losses: it has been the worst performing crypto of the group four out of the first nine months in 2020.
Overall update – ETH maintains strong lead, followed by BNB. 100% of Top Ten are in positive territory.
Ethereum remains firmly in the lead, up +187% on the year. Thanks to a strong month for BNB and a weak month for Tezos,Binance Coin has overtaken XTZ for second place, and is now up +109% in 2020. Discounting Tether (no offense Big-T), EOS (+4%) is the worst performing cryptocurrency of the 2020 Top Ten Portfolio. 100% of the cryptos in this group are in positive territory.
Total Market Cap for the cryptocurrency sector:
The overall crypto market lost about $35B in September, ending the month up +85% since the beginning of this year’s experiment in January 2020. Despite a rough month, this is the second highest month-end level since the 2020 Top Ten Experiment started nine months ago.
Monthly BitDom - 2020 BitDom ticked up slightly this month, but is still lower than it has been for most of the year. As always, a low BitDom reflects a greater appetite for altcoins. For context, the BitDom range since the beginning of the experiment in January 2020 has been roughly between 57% and 68%.
Overall return on investment since January 1st, 2020:
After an initial $1000 investment on January 1st, the 2020 Top Ten Portfolio is now worth $1,536, up +56%. This is the best performing of the three Top Ten Crypto Index Fund Portfolios, but not by much: the 2019 Top Ten came in at +54% in September. Here’s the month by month ROI of the 2020 Top Ten Experiment, hopefully helpful to maintain perspective and provide an overview as we go along: Monthly ROI - 2020 Top Ten Even during the zombie apocalypse blip in March, the 2020 Top Ten has managed to end every month so far in the green (for a mirror image, check out the all red table you’ll find in the 2018 experiment). The range of monthly ROI for the 2020 Top Ten has been between a low of +7% in March and high of +83% in August. So, how does the 2020 Top Ten Experiment compare to the parallel projects?
Taken together, here’s the bottom bottom bottom line for the three portfolios: After a $3000 investment in the 2018, 2019, and 2020 Top Ten Cryptocurrencies, the combined portfolios are worth $3,340 ($238+ $1,538 +$1,564). That’s up about +11% for the three combined portfolios, compared to +31% last month. Here’s a table to help visualize the progress of the combined portfolios: Combined ROI - UP +11% That’s a +11% gain by buying $1k of the cryptos that happened to be in the Top Ten on January 1st, 2018, 2019, and 2020. But what if I’d gone all in on only one Top Ten crypto for the past three years? While many have come and gone over the life of the experiment, five cryptos have started in Top Ten for all three years: BTC, ETH, XRP, BCH, and LTC (Big L, no pressure, but if you don’t claw yourself back in the Top Ten by January 2021, you’re out of the club). Let’s take a look: Three Year Club At this point in the Experiments, Ethereum (+104%) would have easily returned the most, followed by BTC (+77%). On the other hand, following this approach with XRP, I would have been down nearly a third at -31%. So that’s the Top Ten Crypto Index Fund Experiments snapshot. Let’s take a look at how traditional markets are doing.
Comparison to S&P 500
I’m also tracking the S&P 500 as part of my experiment to have a comparison point to traditional markets. The S&P slipped a bit from an all time high in August and is now up just +5% in 2020. Over the same time period, the 2020 Top Ten Crypto Portfolio is returning about +56%. The initial $1k investment in crypto is now worth about $1,563. That same $1k I put into crypto in January 2020 would be worth $1050 had it been redirected to the S&P 500 instead. That’s a $513 difference on a $1k investment, one of the largest gaps in favor of crypto all year. But that’s just 2020. What about in the longer term? What if I invested in the S&P 500 the same way I did during the first three years of the Top Ten Crypto Index Fund Experiments? What I like to call the world’s slowest dollar cost averaging method? Here are the figures:
$1000 investment in S&P 500 on January 1st, 2018 = $1260 today
$1000 investment in S&P 500 on January 1st, 2019 = $1350 today
$1000 investment in S&P 500 on January 1st, 2020 = $1050 today
So, taken together, here’s the bottom bottom bottom line for a similar approach with the S&P: After three $1,000 investments into an S&P 500 index fund in January 2018, 2019, and 2020, my portfolio would be worth $3,660. That $3,660 is up +22%since January 2018, compared to a +11% gain of the combined Top Ten Crypto Experiment Portfolios over the same period of time. That’s an 11% swing in favor of the S&P 500 and breaks a two month mini-streak of wins from the Top Ten crypto portfolios. For those keeping track or unable to see the table above: that’s seven monthly victories for the S&P vs. two monthly victories for crypto. The largest gap so far was a 22% difference in favor of the S&P back in June.
September saw losses for both traditional and crypto markets, but crypto got hit harder. What can we expect for the rest of 2020? The Neverending Year is entering the final quarter and is not finished with us yet: a lot can and will happen in the remaining months. More volatility is no doubt to come as we enter the final stretch of a truly unpredictable and exhausting year. Buckle up. Stay healthy and take care of yourselves out there. Thanks for reading and for supporting the experiment. I hope you’ve found it helpful. I continue to be committed to seeing this process through and reporting along the way. Feel free to reach out with any questions and stay tuned for progress reports. Keep an eye out for the original 2018 Top Ten Crypto Index Fund Experiment and the 2019 Top Ten Experiment follow up experiment.
Small reviews of (I think) all incremental games I've ever played on Android
I don't know if this will be useful to anyone. So I write a line or two about every game I play, and decided to find all the incremental in my game journal and post them here. It starts with the latest games I've played and I think goes back to several years back. One thing I've realized is I have such a love-hate-hate relationship with this genre since I think I've hated 90% of the games and 100% of myself after each incremental phase. I usually angrily stop playing them for a while and restart them again, so this is more or less a journal of addiction, I suppose. THE BEST GAMES I'VE PLAYED ARE THESE (no order):
Honorable Mention: Eggs, Inc The rest: more or less hated it Additional comment if you decide to scan through it, I complain a lot, so it is perfectly reasonable and normal to think, "why the fuck are you even playing these games, idiot??". ------ Time Idle RPG This game was confusing. It tells me the game's resources is time, where you get 1 of it every second, but that's not really something as unique as I assumed. It would have been cool if time as resources meant you used it to deal with something related to time. Maybe time travel? Maybe slowing and speeding time? Instead time as resource buys you stuff like a library. And then you buy a camp or something. Honestly, I wasn't really feeling it. 2 Path of Idling The biggest cardinal sin for me when it comes to incremental is when a game has a lot of features and it just completely throws them all at you instantly. The joy of a great incremental is how things slowly open up and each new achievement feels progress. The game is a RPG game and these are the things that opened up for me in the first few hours. Combat which includes normal fighting, dungeon, raid, boss, PVP (locked, but it just needs an ascend, which I haven't done) Skills Hero upgrades which include Passive (strength, defence, stamina, intelligence), Train, and a huge Tree Town which you can buy workers who get you various things like gold, orbs, knowledge, etc. You can upgrade stuff here. Quest that also includes Perks and Skill quests. Gear which 5 equipment slots, plus craft plus trade plus smelt Also gear for your Pet, which is also another tab! Now, here is the thing. Because I have all of this pretty much instantly, I don't really know which ones are helping me go past a well. How is adding 10 points in strength helping me? Should I have added five in strength instead and five in defence? I have already bought 20 or so upgrades in the Tree, but I have no idea if I am made the optimal choice. There is no real excitement with getting new gear. And so on. The dev has added a lot of features, now it's time to rework the game, and have the features take their time. 2 Idle Slayer The game is like a super simple platformer. Your character is running and any enemy it hits, it automatically slays it. There is no HP, and all enemies die in one shot. Your only active play is jumping occasionally to grab coins or hit the flying enemies. Also, you have a run skill that has a cool down. With the coins, we get new weapons that give us more coins. Enemies give us souls which is used for the prestige system that provides us with an interesting skill tree which provides a lot of choices on the path you want to do in terms of upgrades. So far excellent, however, the game has an extremely serious issue of pacing. The game initially progresses so fast that in the first hour or so, you get almost all the weapons aside from the last two, which then grinds down to a snail pace. You can upgrade your past weapons, but they never really get into play again. Reaching high levels of past weapons sometimes gave me upgrades of that weapon of 10,000% but they still did nothing to my overall coin per second. I think the pacing needs to be fully reworked. It would have been nice to get new weapons after certain prestige cycles, so that every new weapon feels like we have passed a significant wall. The best part of an incremental game for me is to face a wall, and when I finally break it, I feel powerful again for a while. This game feels like this though, powerful powerful powerful powerful WALL........break it....WALL. And so on. I'm still playing it as I want to get some of the skills, but I feel like it could have been so much better. 4 Exponential Idle A very back to the foundation kind of incremental. The premise is that you are a student and working on a formula. There is a neat story where as you progress in the game, your character progresses through university. Each upgrade gives you more and more automation until I reached a stage where I would check back once every 2 or 3 days, click a 2nd layer prestige reset, and close it. Meaning the game was something like 5 seconds of game player every 2 days. I just opened it for this review and realized I had reached the end game. The story wraps up and it tells me "You can take a rest. Travel a bit. Go outside!" NO, DON'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO GAME. 3 Factoid Factoid & Spark should have the same review as they are almost the same game with only small differences. The games are the most basic kind of incremental, where you buy something with resources, until you get the next thing which gives you more of the resources. Both give you upgrades to speed things up, and finally prestige and it's own prestige upgrades. That's it. It's nice little change of pace from all the recent incremental that sometimes do too much, but obviously due to the very simple nature of it, it does eventually feel pointless, specially after you more or less open up everything and the prestige upgrades just keep repeating. 3 Spark Factoid & Spark should have the same review as they are almost the same game with only small differences. The games are the most basic kind of incremental, where you buy something with resources, until you get the next thing which gives you more of the resources. Both give you upgrades to speed things up, and finally prestige and it's own prestige upgrades. That's it. It's nice little change of pace from all the recent incremental that sometimes do too much, but obviously due to the very simple nature of it, it does eventually feel pointless, specially after you more or less open up everything and the prestige upgrades just keep repeating. 3 Antimatter Dimensions Easily top 5 incremental on mobile. Does everything perfectly. You progress nicely, and when new features open it, not only is it rewarding but more importantly, it keeps adding new dimensions (lol) to the game. I'd at the end game as I write this, and I realize that there was no point in the game where it felt stale. Each new prestige layer made the game feel fresh and almost like a new incremental game. 5 Melvor Idle It seems this game was mainly aimed at Runescape players, which is probably why it didn't click for me. It also run extremely slow on my phone which also played a part in me not really getting into. 2 A Girl Adrift The animation is really pretty and is a nice change of pace for incrementals, but I didn't really like the too much active play. Really had to keep going back and forth to different areas to do the fishing which got too repetitive for me. You travel to different areas of the map to catch fish, which you get points and then you upgrade stuff, but I didn't really find any real excitement about the upgrades because I kept having to go back to previous areas to fish similar creatures. 3 Archer: Danger Phone I'm really annoyed how terrible of a game this was. Two things I like, the TV show "Archer" and incremental games, and it's done in the most lazy manner. The game is the worst aspect of idle games where it's just a straight path of clicking the next upgrade with absolutely zero decision making. Every once in a while there is a mini game where Archer gets to shoot others but it's done in the most basic form of early 2000s flash games, where the animation budget is probably 3 dollars. Same static background and both enemies and Archer have just two animation frames. The absolute laziness of it is almost insulting to the player, because it feels like we aren't even worth the effort. There is an Archer story in the game which develops really fast, which is the only positive part, but no voice acting is again another evidence that the creators of the game weren't given any budget for this. 1 Home Quest This game is way too slow. You have to collect materials to build your settlement but everything takes time, so you click for a few seconds, and then you have to leave the game. Which I'm fine with, but the problem isn't the idle part of it, it's how the idle part of it combines with constant checking of the game which annoys me. I like an idle game where you forget to start the game for a day, you come up to a lot of resources, but this is a game which needs you to check back in every 30 minutes or an hour to really get anywhere. I felt that the micromanagement was getting worse as I progressed (without any actual thing to do when I am active in the game) that made me give up. 2 Idle Industry This is probably an interesting game, but I gave up because the one thing I really disliked was the amount of resources and manufacturing that very quickly opens to you. You can buy raw materials, and you can either sell these raw materials or turn them into finished goods and sell them either. And each of these has several upgrade options (increase selling price, increase production, etc). Without even really getting too deep into the game, I have around 20 raw materials and around 30 finished products. A satisfying part of this genre is to have things slow open up for you, which gives me a decent feeling of satisfaction. But the money I got would quickly open up new products, so I would just jump ahead and purchase more expensive ones, and after a while I had a lot of materials and products at zero, and was instead focusing on latter ones. 2 Masters of Madness Somewhat neat atmosphere and visuals, but too much active clicking. Click, upgrade to get more per clicks, get minions to get you some points without clicking, typical clicker, but with the added benefit of almost no idling. I like idling incrementals but clickers is a hard no from me. 1 Soda Dungeon 2 Basically similar to the first one, as far as I could tell. I did "finish" it but maybe I shouldn't have, since it really is the same thing from early on, specially once you get all the heroes and you kind of sort out which characters work best, then it's just the same. But because it was somewhat short and no real wall, it was at least easy to stick to it to the end. 2 Bacterial Takeover Played for a decent amount and was actually more interesting that I thought, given the buttload of ad incentives. You create and upgrade bacteria, attack planets, and eventually go into a blackhole to prestige. Most of the game was good, but the part that killed it for me was the prestige system. Once you prestige, planets get super easy to attack, which becomes a lot of active play. I realized that each prestige was taking me at least 30 minutes to get to where I was, and it was just meaningless clicking. It got to a point where I was putting off prestige because it seemed like it would be a hassle so I stopped. 2 LogRogue Cute graphics. The hero sort of hopping to hit the tiny monsters is cute to look at, but how long can you look at it and do nothing before you realize that it's boring? I suppose this is a game where it's just not for me. I don't like to have my phone open on a game and just watch it like a crazy person and do nothing. My rule is simple for incrementals. While the app is open, be active, if there isn't any choices to make, close the app while resources build up or whatever. I don't like it being open while I do nothing. 3 A Kittens Game Incremental games are so strange. I get in and out of the phases. I loved this for so long and so obsessively that I wanted to only play incremental games. And then, just like that, I was wondering why the fuck I was wasting my time with this. Has happened countless times before. But still probably the best incremental ever. 5 A Dark Room An incremental cult classic of sorts but I don't find it really matches the genre. There is a bit of incremental at the beginning with people huts and stuff but then its just a ascii exploring game, which wasn't interesting to me. 2 Little Healer Saw it mentioned in the Reddit incremental forum in one of the posts and thought it was a healer themed incremental which sounded neat. But it's like being a healer in a raid in World of Warcraft without any if the extras. Just a couple of bars representing your team mates and you healing them while they fight the boss. I didn't even like playing the healer in WoW so no way would I play this game. 1 Clickie Zoo Started playing for a few days until I realized there a beta released with the dev reworking the game completely from scratch and releasing it as "Idle Zoo Tycoon". So, played that instead but this seemed like a game I would enjoy anyway. 4 Idling to Rule the Gods The UI and one drawing if your character is really ugly enough to be distracting to me. The game, seemed interesting and I eventually was into it, but seems like a game that has been constantly being updated, which is not always a good thing, because features are obviously updated regularly to it, making the whole thing a bit bloaty. I guess, this is the problem with this game for me, it's too fat. Also, one main part of the game is that your character creates Shadow Clones up to a maximum limit. Which is fine except the clones can't be made in offline mode. This might not be a big deal in its original web browser game but that doesn't work as well in a mobile format. 2 Realm Grinder This is one of the really popular incremental and it's fanbase seems to love it for it's depth, but to be honest, I don't play these games for the depth, I play it for the simple dopamine rush of doing the same thing over and over again. It relaxes. Although, I didn't even get to the depth part because I dislike games where it rushes in the beginning. I constantly bought buildings, got spells, and got upgrades without even looking at the description. Apparently, later on, we can get complicated race upgades, which seems not what I'm looking for in such a genre. 2 Spaceplan A short (!!) incremental with an actual story (!!!). That's two cool points for it but unfortunately, the game mechanics of increment genre isn't so good. It's a space game with nice visuals and a great ending (cool music set to cool graphics) but the game itself wasn't really that fun. This same exact game would have been better in a different genre (maybe something like "Out There"?) 3 Zombidle Felt like idle games again and this is the kind of examples that kept me away. Too much clicking and seems like advancement will start to get irritating since it relies on IAPs 2 Eggs, Inc While I was playing it, Eggs, Inc was probably my favorite Android game I had ever played. But like most incremental games, there comes a moment when I suddenly stop and think, what am I doing? Because there is something fascinating about Incrementals. Their addictiveness is in a way the whole point. An incremental is less of a game and more an act of electronic addictiveness. What's the point? Eggs, Inc is a very well made and fun incremental but even the best in its genre is still pointless. 4 Castle Clicker Supposedly a mix of incremental and city building but didn't really find out since the clickings were way to much. I know this is supposed to be the genre but I like the incremental part more than the tapping part. This seemed to be a good way to hurt your fingers. 2 Endless Era This RPG clicker game is like other such games but with horrible GUI and animations. Tap tap tap. It's my fault for downloading such games. Why would I ever think this would be fun??? 1 Idle Quote An incremental game with a unique twist. This time we get to make up quotes! The first negative about the game and this irritates me a lot is most of the quotes are fake. A quick search on Google and this proves it. Quotes are generally attributed to Buddha or Ghandi or shit like that and it's usually fake like most quotes on the internet. This kills the major possible advantage of the game because I thought coming up with arbitrary words would at least give me some quotes to learn. Aside from the this, the game isn't fun either because it slows down very quickly meaning you combine words very slowly at a certain stage of the game and then it becomes a boring grind. 2 Monster Miser An incremental game with almost no graphics. We just see character portraits of monsters which we buy and then upgrade until we buy the next monster. Eventually we prestige which gives us multipliers. The only game choice is choosing between two monsters with each new monster with unique benefits. Annoyingly there is a max limit which I wish didn't exist because I wanted to prestige so much that I would be over powerful in upgrading like that "Idle Oil Tycoon". Still, pointless but reasonably fun. 3 Pocket Politics An incremental take on politics sounds fun but it's so generic that it could have been about anything. A Capitalist idle game or a cooking idle game, it wouldn't matter. IAP was also the usual shitty kind. 1 Time Clickers A shooter incremental sounds like a cool twist but it's not a FPS like I imagined it would be. I'm just stuck in a room and I was shooting blocks. Upgrades didn't give me any enjoyment since I was shooting fucking blocks. 1 Tap Tap Fish - Abyssrium I thought this was going to be relaxing incremental but the ridiculous and generic IAPs and all the social integeration spoil it. Too much time is spent in them asking you to buy or share or tweet or post or give them a blowjob. And there is nothing relaxing about that. 2 Cartoon 999 Incremental game about comic book writers, but not the marvel DC kind, it seemed to be the webcomic one and I think it's a Korean developer so all the characters and injokes made no sense to me. The whole thing was just targeted to a very specific audience. 2 Dungeon Manager Incremental games need to be simple but this is beyond simple, it's just upgrade a fighter to level 5, go to next dungeon character, do the same, and just continue without any of the delicious balancing of upgrades like other idle games. 2 Final Fortress Incremental games are already pointless but when it's super heavy on IAP than its also annoying, but when it always has bugs that doesn't register my offline earnings, then it just needs a uninstall in its face. The zombie skin was also crappy. 1 Mana Maker Here is how I know this clicker isn't very good. It doesn't make me hate all clickers and my life and mobile gaming in general for being so addictive and pointless. So fail, sorry. 2 Infinity Dungeon The usual incremental RPG that I should probably never play again. Starts simple enough and then gets more or a chore as you play. 1 Another incremental game which I had promised myself not to play anymore because they are so pointless and repetitive and endless. Well, this wasn't infinite and had a goal at 999 level so I thought it was good but while the humor was cute, the game did become very repetitive. Every 10 levels the slimes changed but after every 100 levels the whole thing restarted and while the monsters got stronger, I seemed to get even stronger. So the game became easier as I progressed and there was no more challenge. By level 800, I gave up. 2 Tap Dungeon RPG Okay, I'm running out of ways to complain about those incremental RPG games that all have similar problems. It starts off reasonably fast and fun but soon it seems like I am in a data entry job. Doing the same thing over and over again with little changes. 1 Dungeon 999 F: Secret of Slime Dungeon Another incremental game which I had promised myself not to play anymore because they are so pointless and repetitive and endless. Well, this wasn't infinite and had a goal at 999 level so I thought it was good but while the humor was cute, the game did become very repetitive. Every 10 levels the slimes changed but after every 100 levels the whole thing restarted and while the monsters got stronger, I seemed to get even stronger. So the game became easier as I progressed and there was no more challenge. By level 800, I gave up. 2 Tap Dungeon RPG Okay, I'm running out of ways to complain about those incremental RPG games that all have similar problems. It starts off reasonably fast and fun but soon it seems like I am in a data entry job. Doing the same thing over and over again with little changes. 1 Tower of Hero You start on the first floor of the tower and keep fighting your way up by summoning your heroes (by clicking) and recruiting other fighters, get upgrades, level up, and then, ugh, here is the typical incremental RPG part, restart, get items, and do it ALL over again. There is something fun about restarting and getting slowly stronger each time but it also feels so pointless after a while. Such a pointless genre now that I have played a billion of such titles, heh. 3 Pageboy Yet another incremental RPG which I have no idea why I downloaded because I'm sick of the genre. I played a pageboy to a knight who does the fighting while I collect the lot. I collect the loot, buy stuff for the knight, and eventually I restart to do the same thing again and get better items but this game I didn't even RESTART! Because fuck it! Fuck it! 2 Idle Warriors The story is cute. Human population is regressing while monster population is on the rise. So the humans start enslaving monsters to mine for them! The brave warriors beat the crap out of monsters, kidnap the bosses, and enslave them. The animation of monsters slaving away while speech balloons above them talk about their wife and children is funny. But the game itself is another RPG incremental which I should start staying away from. These games are like a chore for me nowadays because I'm doing the same crap again and again. The blame is probably on me because it seems like a reasonably solid game. But hey, fuck it, I PERSONALLY didn't enjoy it. 2 Tap! Tap! Faraway! Any game that is remotely like Tap Titan scares me. They are addictive at first and very fast moving but after every restart gets more and more annoying. It soon turns into a time eating activity with the player having to redo the initial levels to get relics to get better items to progress further to restart to get relics to and so on until the player realizes how much time he is putting in the game for a repetitive activity. 2 Auto RPG Now that is a title the game developers didn't spend too much time on. RPG battles are automatic but I can help out by clicking like a mad man. I started with one hero but would get additional members in my party as the story progressed. Party members receive skills as as they level up and while all the skill usage is automatic, it did give me a sense of progression which is extremely important in a RPG and which I think is usually lacking in incremental games. It usually starts feeling useless but in this game at least there are new maps, new members, and an actual end sight! There is an infinity stage once the last boss is defeated but I am glad the infinity stage happens AFTER the end and it's not the game itself. 4 Merchant Hire a hero and send on to battle. The battles is done automatically and takes time, starts with something short like 10 seconds with each battle taking longer. The loot is raw materials which can be used to craft equipment which also takes real life time with better items taking longer. The crafted items can either be sold or equipped to the hero to make him be able to fight stronger monsters. I was worried I would hate the longer crafting and fighting times because I hate games which I have to watch for a task to finish but even though the durations for longer, I had more to do. However, I don't know what would have happened in the end game because I gave up on it. New maps were exactly like the first map just with different heroes but the progression was similar in each level which felt that I was doing the exact same thing all over again but with longer task times. 2 Idle Oil Tycoon This is the best idle game I played. It's graphics aren't just minor, they are none existent. It's just numbers, so basic that my sister thought I was on a stock market app. It's such a simple concept. Invest, get oil, upgrade then like other idlers restart to get a bonus and do the full thing all over again. When I finished the game, I played the unlimited mode which I played until the unlimited mode couldn't handle the numbers anymore. 5 Soda Dungeon This kind-of Idle Dungeon was great. I started with weak ass fighters who would fight on my behalf while I collected the loot. I then got to use the lot to upgrade the sofa bar to recruit more adventurers. Not sure why it was a sofa bar. Maybe they wanted to make it a family game and not have alcohol? Sounds weird but the sofa element in a RPG game sounds weirder. The game only hit a brick for me when, like most other incremental games, there is no real closure. Once I thought I bet the big bad guy, it just goes on, harder but similar enough with no end in sight. Eventually, we have to stop playing right, but it always feels a bit like a let down when I don't feel like I have finished the game. 4 10 Billion Wives Kept Man Life The two games from this company, 10 Billion Wives and Kept Man Life, have similar strengths and weaknesses. I liked the silly premises from both. In 10BM, I had to get married as much as I could, using the loves I collect to marry more expensive wives! In KML, I'm a boyfriend who doesn't work and I have to please my career gf so she would take care of me. Both start reasonably fast and I was willing to grind through difficult parts but the end game is like a brick wall. Passing through it to get all the achievements is pretty much impossible unless one puts in way too many hours. And it's a shame because I really wanted to get all the achievements to see all the tiny little extra stuff. 3 Adventure Capitalist One of the better incremental games, but now that I am out of the short lived incremental fan phase, I realized how dumb the genre is. Tap, tap, tap, upgrade, do this a million times, reset, and do it all over again like a moron. The game does deserve credits for me acting like a moron and playing it for so long but I also cheated and got free cash and then if occupying became even more pointless. 3 The Monolith A combination of an incremental and a civilization building game seemed like an excellent idea and in some ways, it was, specially how we get to upgrade through the ages from cavemen to futuristic. But no offline feature means that the resets aren't enticing. 2 USSR Simulator An incremental game that has a great theme (USSR!) but absolutely horrible to enjoy, even though I did stick to it. After a certain upgrades, the game just turned into me popping in the game, clicking an upgrade and then forgetting about the game for a few days. 2 RPG Clicker They should call these games tappers not clickers. We are not clicking anything on a touchscreen device. Anyway, tap tap tap level up buy weapons tap tap and uninstall. 1 Logging Quest Logging Quest 2 [Review is for the original and its sequel] There is not much of a difference between the game. I actually played them both at the same time because the actual game is offline. You choose your hero, send them to a dungeon, and then come back to the game after a while to see how well they did. I thought an offline RPG like this might be interesting but then, if you don't really play a game, how much fun can it be? 1 Another pointless incremental. I was in an incremental phase and got so many incremental games that I know realize were absolutely pointless. Hit a tree, buy upgrades, get a new hero, and continue hitting a tree. Not much offline it seems which is what I like about incrementals. 1 Galaxy Clicker A space incremental that should have been a lot of fun. You get to upgrade your spaceship and buy new ones and explorer new planets. But first of all, the interface is so ugly that it makes playing the game less enjoyable. And a lot of things I didn't really get no matter how much I would play like the full exploring planets. The spaceships were nice, so it could have been fun. 2 Megatramp A pretty pointless incremental kind of game. You are a tramp and then you can collect money to buy upgrades to make more money, with no strategy needed, nor any effort needs to be made to hurt your brain cells. 1 Inflation RPG It supposed to be some kind of incremental RPG, I think, which has you resetting and getting more powerful and then fighting monsters to get insane levels. It is very unique but I couldn't get into it. 2 Widget RPG Are you fucking with me? This is button bashing rpg in the most extreme manner. You get a widget, so you don't even have to open the game and distract yourself from the button bushing. Just click the button and the game plays behind the scenes and gets you experience, loot, and kills. It's a ridiculous idea that is fun for a few minutes to see what they come up with but there is only so much button bashing you can do. 2 Capitalist Tycoon I downloaded this game because I was in an incremental/idle game phase and really enjoyed AdVenture Capitalist. But this game is nothing like that. On the surface, it seems similar, buy small investments, make money, buy bigger investments, and so on. But with this game, there is no offline mode, and you keep having to wake up managers, AND the goal is to see how much you make in one year. Bah. I prefer the incremental approach which makes you build and build and build, not try to rush it in just a year. 2 Clicking Bad An incremental clicking game that is themed after Breaking Bad. It is a fun idea it's a very simple game with little to do aside from the obvious of upgrading and upgrading. The only twist might be to balance out making lots of money selling drugs and not attracting the law but even that is only a small challenge at the start. Eventually, you will get enough upgrades to bring the law risk so down that it makes no impact on the game play. 2 Zombie Tapper A super basic incremental clicker game with a zombie team. Click click click to eat brains, use brains (?) to buy zombies to do the brain eating for you and then buy upgrades for your zombies, and buy new zombies and it all feels very pointless. 1 Bitcoin Billionaire I started to enjoy incremental games, but it needs to have a good offline mode, because I don’t want to just play a game where I keep tapping. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t play. I played it, and I played a lot of it, because I could reset the game (like most incremental games) and it gives you a small benefit where you could finish the full game a bit faster (it gives you bonus income). So, I kept finishing and resetting, and each time the start to finish would shorten, so I thought I would reach a stage where I could finish each start-to-finish in an instant! It didn’t happen. I got bored first. 3 Tap Titan An addictive tapping game. Just tap on the creatures, level up, get new skills, hire heroes, and then reset and to it all over again to progress further. It’s an incremental game where it depends on resets to progress, but no real offline bonus, so you have to be playing online. Which got boring, so I installed an app that does the tapping for me, which is actually a stupid way to play the game, but this isn’t an attempt to prove to anyone my intelligence. Anyway, thankfully something went wrong and my progress got deleted, WHICH WAS A GOOD THING, because the game was extremely addictive. 4 God Squad I’ve realized most incremental games are stupid. Tap on monsters to kill, collect gold, buy Roman Gods, level them up, fight other monsters, and then get bored. 1
First one to find the three hidden cultural references gets some moons.
What's this all about? I purchased $100 of each of Top Ten Cryptos in Jan. 2018, haven't sold or traded. Did the same in 2019 and 2020. Learn more about the history and rules of the Experimentshere.
September - BTC, although -8%, outperforms the field this month.
Overall since Jan. 2018 - Bitcoin miles ahead of the pack, and only one close-ish to break even point.
Combining all three three years, Top Ten cryptos underperforming S&P if I'd taken a similar approach.
Month Thirty Three – Down 76%
2018 Top Ten Summary for September After a rough start to September, crypto spent the month trying in vain to claw back ground. While a few coins rebounded quite a bit from the monthly lows, most ended up finishing the month significantly down. Out of the 2018 Top Ten group, Bitcoin lost the least, down -8% in September. NEM followed it’s winning August (yes, you read that right) with the poorest performance, down -26%.
Question of the month:
Which cryptocurrency exchange won approval to create America’s first crypto bank in September?
A) Binance B) Binance.us C) Kraken D) Coinbase Scroll down for the answer.
Ranking and September Winners and Losers
Rank of 2018 Portfolio - 50% no longer in Top Ten A lot of shuffling in September. On the upside, Bitcoin Cash and Cardano gained one place each landing at #5 and #10 respectively. Cardano gets special mention for re-entering the Top Ten. Heading the wrong direction were IOTA, NEM, Dash, and Stellar each falling two or three spots. The big story though, for long time crypto watchers, was the ejection of Litecoin from the Top Ten, down five places from #7 to #12 in just one month. For some context, Litecoin’s absence from the Top Ten is a Top Ten Experiment first. It is also the first time since CoinMarketCap has tracked crypto rankings that Litecoin has not been in the Top Ten. Drop outs: After thirty-three months of this experiment 50% of the cryptos that started 2018 in the Top Ten have dropped out. NEM, Litecoin, Dash, IOTA, and Stellar have been replaced by Binance Coin, Tether,BSV, LINK, and most recently, DOT. September Winners – Although it lost -8% of its value, this month’s W goes to Bitcoin. ADA gets second place, down -15% and climbing back into the Top Ten. September Losers – As most probably expected after an extremely out of character victory last month, NEM came back down to earth in September, bigly, down -26%. Litecoin finished right behind, down -24% and dropping out of the Top Ten. For the overly competitive, below is a tally of the winners of the first 33 months of the 2018 Top Ten Crypto Index Fund Experiment. Bitcoin still has the most monthly wins (8) and Cardano in second place with 6 monthly wins. With its poor September performance, NEM now has 7 monthly losses. Ws and Ls - One clear winner Every crypto has at least one monthly win and Bitcoin is unique as the only cryptocurrency that hasn’t lost a month yet since January 2018.
Overall update – BTC solidly in the lead, followed by ETH. Dash in the basement, LTC drops out of the Top Ten.
Even though BTC took a bit of a detour on its way back to break-even point, it is still far ahead of the field, down -17% since January 2018. The initial investment of $100 thirty-three months ago is now worth about $83. Second place Ethereum is down -49% over the same time period. At this point in the 2018 Top Ten Experiment, Dash is at the bottom. It is currently worth $70.49, down from a January 1st, 2018 starting price of over $1,000. That’s a loss of -93%. The initial $100 invested in Dash 33 months ago is now worth $6.77. The big story this month is LTC’s departure from the Top Ten, the first time since I started the experiment back in January 2018. Whether or not it will eventually fend off the new generation of coins remains to be seen, but it certainly is noteworthy to have one of the most well known and long standing cryptos drop out of the Top Ten. Consider pouring one out for Litecoin.
Total Market Cap for the entire cryptocurrency sector:
The crypto market lost over $35B in September and is down -39% since January 2018. The value of the overall crypto market is near where it was in August of this year, just a few months back. As painful as the beginning of the month was, looking at a table like this helps with perspective, especially if you’re panic prone.
After steadily dipping for months, BitDom increased a bit in September, up to 57.5%. For some context: since the beginning of the experiment, the range of Bitcoin dominance has been quite wide: we saw a high of 70% BitDom in September 2019 and a low of 33% BitDom in February 2018.
Overall return on $1,000 investment since January 1st, 2018:
The 2018 Top Ten Portfolio lost -$50 this month. If I cashed out today, the $1000 initial investment would return about $238, down -76% from January 2018. September broke an encouraging upward trend, but at least the portfolio is taking a break from the -80% range. Here’s a look at the ROI over the life of the experiment, month by month, for some context: 33 Monthly ROIs on Top Ten since Jan 2018 The absolute bottom was -88% back in January 2019. So the Top Ten Cryptos of 2018 are down -76%. What about the 2019 and 2020 Top Tens? Let’s take a look:
So overall? Taking the three portfolios together, here’s the bottom bottom bottom line: After a $3000 investment in the 2018, 2019, and 2020 Top Ten Cryptocurrencies, my combined portfolios are worth $3,340 ($238+ $1,538 +$1,564). That’s up about +11% for the three combined portfolios, compared to +31% last month. Here’s a table to help visualize: Combined ROI on $3k over 3 years - UP +11% That’s a +11% gain by investing $1k on whichever cryptos happened to be in the Top Ten on January 1st for three straight years. But surely you’d do better if you went all in on one crypto, right? Depends on your choice. Let’s take a look: ETH for the win Only five cryptos have started in the Top Ten for all three years: BTC, ETH, XRP, BCH, and LTC (unless Litecoin can make a comeback by the 1st of Jan. 2021, it’s not going to make the four year club!). Knowing what we know now, which one would have been best to go all in on? Ethereum, by a pretty good margin: the initial $3k would be up +104%, worth $6,118 today. The worst choice of a basket to put all your eggs in at this point in the experiment is XRP, down by almost one third.
Comparison to S&P 500:
I’m also tracking the S&P 500 as part of the experiment to have a comparison point with other popular investments options. The S&P 500 Index fell from an all time high in August, but is currently up +26% since January 2018. S&P since Jan. 2018 The initial $1k investment into crypto on January 1st, 2018 would have been worth about $1260 had it been redirected to the S&P. But what if I took the same invest-$1,000-on-January-1st-of-each-year approach with the S&P 500 that I’ve been documenting through the Top Ten Crypto Experiments? Here are the numbers:
$1000 investment in S&P 500 on January 1st, 2018 = $1260 today
$1000 investment in S&P 500 on January 1st, 2019 = $1350 today
$1000 investment in S&P 500 on January 1st, 2020 = $1050 today
Taken together, here’s the bottom bottom bottom line for a similar approach with the S&P: After three $1,000 investments into an S&P 500 index fund in January 2018, 2019, and 2020, my portfolio would be worth $3,660. That is up +22%since January 2018, compared to a +11% gain of the combined Top Ten Crypto Experiment Portfolios. That’s an 11% swing in favor of the S&P 500 and breaks a two month mini-streak of wins from the Top Ten crypto portfolios. S&P vs. Top Ten Crypto Experiments That’s seven monthly victories for the S&P vs. two monthly victories for crypto. The largest gap so far was a 22% difference in favor of the S&P in June.
September was a tough month for both traditional and crypto markets. What’s next for the rest of 2020? More volatility is no doubt to come as we enter the last quarter of a truly unpredictable and exhausting year. Buckle up. Thanks for reading and for supporting the experiment. I hope you’ve found it helpful. I continue to be committed to seeing this process through and reporting along the way. Feel free to reach out with any questions and stay tuned for progress reports. Keep an eye out for my parallel projects where I repeat the experiment twice, purchasing another $1000 ($100 each) of two new sets of Top Ten cryptos as of January 1st, 2019 then again on January 1st, 2020.
And the Answer is…
C) Kraken According to an official announcement in September, Kraken is “the first digital asset company in U.S. history to receive a bank charter recognized under federal and state law.”
Bored? Looking for something to do? Start with this list of things to do in the Sacramento area.
(Credit for the below list has to be given to u/BurritoFueled, who created the original list in 2014 and updated it a year later. Almost two-thirds of the items below are still from that original list. All I’ve done with the list is revive it a little bit by updating dead links and making little tweaks when necessary. Also, thanks to those that submitted new additions to the list last week. Over a third of the below items are new and a lot of the original items have had newer information added onto them.) People are always looking for something to do around here. Maybe you’re a transplant, unaware of what this area has to offer, or maybe you’re a lifelong resident, tired of the same old thing. Well friend, if you fall into the latter category, do not despair. There’s actually plenty of things to do in the Sacramento area – things of interest to almost any lifestyle, personality, or budget. So, whether you’re an athlete, geek, eccentric, hipster, weirdo, sexual deviant or just a normal person looking for a new activity, below is a list of activities for you to try. Please note that it includes only activities that take place at least a few times a year – no one-off events or festivals here. Enjoy this list. If you have any suggestions of your own to add, comment below in this thread. I'll try to keep this as up to date as possible. Away we go. UPDATED 10-6-20 (Note: Due to the current pandemic, some of these activities may be curtailed or not offered at all.)
Become the next Tiger Woods (the golf part, not the cheating, getting your windshield smashed by your wife with one of your golf clubs part). Start by hitting up a driving range at Top Golf or Haggin Oaks.
Purchase the sweetest sweet corn in all the land at the Davis Ranch in Sloughhouse.
When you're done in Sloughhouse, head a little further up the Jackson Highway (just past Rancho Murieta), hang a left on Michigan Bar Road, and cross the bridge (it's safe, trust me!) for one of the most historic, beautiful, and adventurous road trips in the entire area. Make sure you bring a hearty vehicle and avoid during winter and spring.
Check out – or offer your services – at the Oak Park Fix-it Café, a community-powered gathering for repairing and maintaining bicycles, clothing, household items, and the ties that bind a healthy community.
Buy some tricks, attend magic workshops, and become the next David Blaine at Grand Illusions.
Go watch some horseracing at Cal Expo. It’s harness racing from November through April and then traditional horseracing during the state fair. Want to end up with small fortune at the end of your day at the track? It’s easy. Just start your day there with a large fortune.
Watch some high school football! The Sacramento region boasts some of the best high school programs in the state. Check out top notch teams like Grant, Elk Grove, Folsom, and Del Oro to see potential NCAA Division 1 and NFL players of the future.
Watch some college football! Sac State had a huge resurgence in 2019 and UC Davis has always had a solid program. You can also check out the JC teams such as ARC and Sac City.
If Live-Action Role Play (LARP) floats your boat, Sacramento Valley Amtgard has the battles, weapons workshops, and skills classes you've been looking for.
Take a ride on the Sacramento River Train. You can ride the train or power along the tracks yourself with railbikes. They have different train excursions, including beer tasting and wine tasting trips. If you want to book a trip on a weekend, book early.
Want to learn how to fish? Try Fishing in the City from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. After you’ve learned, check out the blog from FishingBooker on where and when to go fishing and what to expect. For some recent local recommendations, check here, here, here or here.
If fishing tours are more your style, catch your lunch on a guided fishing tour of local waterways.
Take in a play at one of Sacramento's smaller, edgier, more contemporary community theatre companies, like the Big Idea Theatre.
Do you like beer and visiting breweries, but don’t like driving between them? Midtown Sacramento has got you covered! Make a day of it by visiting these breweries, all within easy walking distance of each other: At Ease, Sacrament, Big Stump, Golden Road, Fieldwork, and Alaro. If you don’t mind walking a few extra blocks, you can add Device and Urban Roots to the list.
Ever wanted to learn to sail, kayak or row? You’re in luck! The Sac State Aquatic Center offers lessons for those activities and more.
Antiquing never gets old, right? Visit Midway Antique Mall in Citrus Heights (focusing almost solely on midcentury wares), Antique Trove in Roseville, or the Antique Fair that happens every second Sunday on X Street, under the freeway.
Want to become the next Picasso? You gotta start somewhere, so take a paint and sip class at The Painted Cork in Midtown Sacramento or Historic Folsom.
It’s well known that you can play miniature golf at Scandia, but did you know that there are indoor mini golf courses in the area as well? Try SacMiniGolf in Old Sacramento, Flatstick Pub in DoCo downtown, or even glow-in-the-dark indoor mini golf at Monster Mini Golf in Rancho Cordova or at CaliGlo in Elk Grove.
The Sacramento Cactus and Succulent Society meets, and hosts a talk, at the Shepard Garden and Arts Center in McKinley Park monthly and welcomes guests. They also do field trips and their Annual Show and Sale is a must-see event for plant lovers.
Not to diminish the concert series at Fair Oaks Village Park, but when you hear "concerts in the park", everyone knows that is the Concerts in the Park series in downtown Sacramento. Live local and national acts perform on Friday evenings in the summer, and it’s totally free. If you’re not good with crowds you may want to give this a miss because it is packed!
Vacation or day trip so close, yet feel so far away, along the Delta. Rent a boat, jet skis, a cabin or camping spot, buy some bait and tackle, and/or eat out at various locations on the river.
Take a drive around the world’s smallest mountain range: the Sutter Buttes. You can actually drive around and hike the Sutter Buttes in the same day, however hiking is not free, you must do it as part of a guided group and you have to reserve a spot in advance.
I like moons, I like music. I also like burying musical references in crypto reports. First one to name the two musical references gets some moons.
Remember the panic in early Sept? Despite a tough month, the 2019 Top Ten are +54% and still well ahead of the stock market.
What's this all about? I purchased $100 of each of Top Ten Cryptos in Jan. 2019, haven't sold or traded. Did the same in 2018 and 2020. Learn more about the history and rules of the Experimentshere.
September - all cryptos in the red, so I guess Tether wins the month.
Overall since Jan. 2019 - ETH loses lead to BTC which is +189%. Only 2 out of the Top Ten in negative territory.
Combining all three three years, Top Ten cryptos underperforming S&P if I'd taken a similar approach.
Month Twenty One – UP 54%
2019 Top Ten Summary for September Although crypto recovered a bit from an early September dive, the 2019 Top Ten Portfolio ended the month completely in the red, similar to what we saw in June. Litecoin dropped out of the Top Ten this month, the first time since these Experiments began.
Question of the month:
In September, Tether moved 1 billion USDT coins from TRON to this blockchain:
A) Ethereum B) Neo C) Polkadot D) EOS Scroll down for the answer.
Ranking and September Winners and Losers
2019 Top Ten Ranking Here come the new coins: with the exception of BCH (up one place from #6 to #5) every crypto either remained in place or dropped. BSV, down one place, EOS and Tron down two, and Stellar fell three. Litecoin dropped a massive five places to land itself outside of the Top Ten, the first time since I began the Experiments back in January 2018. Due to Litecoin’s expulsion from the Top Ten, 40% of the crypotos have dropped out of the Top Ten since January 1st, 2019: Tron, Stellar, Litecoin and EOS have been replaced by BNB, DOT, ADA, and LINK. September Winners – With all cryptos in the red, stablecoin Tether outperformed the rest. BTC finished second, down -8% in September, followed by BSV, down -10%. September Losers – LTC had a truly horrible month, losing nearly a quarter of its value (-24%), falling five places in the ranking, and falling out of the Top Ten. Close behind was Stellar and ETH, down -23% and -22%. For overly competitive nerds, here is a tally of which coins have the most monthly wins and losses during the first 21 months of the 2019 Top Ten Experiment: 2019 Ws and Ls Depressingly, Tether is still far ahead with seven monthly victories, more than twice as much as second place BSV and ETH. And although BSV is up 87% since January 2019, it dominates the monthly loss count: it has now finished last in eight out of twenty-one months. Swing trade anyone? And XRP is still the only crypto that has yet to notch a win.
Overall update – BTC takes lead from ETH. Stellar now worst performing since Jan. 1st, 2019
After briefly pulling ahead of BTClast month, ETH gave up its overall lead in September. The top two are up +189% and +169% respectively followed distantly by BSV, up +87% since January 2019. The initial $100 investment in BTC is currently worth $295. Twenty-one months into the 2019 Top Ten Index Fund Experiment, 80% of the 2019 Top Ten cryptos are either flat or in the green. The other two cryptos are well in negative territory: last place Stellar (-33%) and second to last place XRP (-32%) have each lost about one third of their value since January 2019). At +54%, the 2019 Top Ten Portfolio is just behind the 2020 Top Ten Portfolio’s +56% gain and both are far, far ahead of the 2018 group (much more on that below).
Total Market Cap for the entire cryptocurrency sector:
Monthly total market cap, since Jan 2019 Since January 2019, the total market cap for crypto is up +176%. The overall market fell around $35B in September, ending the month around $351B. Despite the tough month, this is the second highest month-end level since the 2019 Top Ten Experiment started 21 months ago.
BitDom ticked up slightly this month, but is trending lower than the last year or so, where it had remained in the mid-60s%. As always, a low BitDom signals a greater appetite for altcoins. Zooming out, the BitDom range since the beginning of the experiment in January 2019 has been between 50%-70%.
Overall return on investment since January 1st, 2019:
The 2019 Top Ten Portfolio lost nearly $300 in September. After the initial $1000 investment, the 2019 Top Ten Crypto Portfolio is worth $1,538. That’s up about +54%. Here’s a look at the ROI over the life of the first 21 months of the 2019 Top Ten Index Fund experiment, month by month: Monthly ROI on Top Ten since Jan 2019 Unlike the completely red table you’ll see in the 2018 Top Ten Experiment, the 2019 crypto table is almost all green. The first month was the lowest point (-9%), and the highest point (+114%) was May 2019. At +54%, the 2019 Top Ten Portfolio is now the second best performing out of the three but just barely (the 2020 Top Ten is up +56%). Speaking of the other Experiments, let’s take a look at how the 2019 Top Ten Index Fund Portfolio compare to the parallel projects:
Taking the three portfolios together, here’s the bottom bottom bottom line: After a $3000 investment in the 2018, 2019, and 2020 Top Ten Cryptocurrencies, my combined portfolios are worth $3,340 ($238+ $1,538 +$1,564). That’s up about +11% for the three combined portfolios, compared to +31% last month. Lost in the numbers? Here’s a table to help visualize the progress of the combined portfolios: Combined ROI on $3k over 3 years - UP +11% To sum up: 11% gain by dropping $1k once a year on whichever cryptos happened to be in the Top Ten on January 1st, 2018, 2019, and 2020. But what if I’d gone all in on only one Top Ten crypto for the past three years? While many have come and gone over the life of the experiment, only five cryptos have started in Top Ten for all three years: BTC, ETH, XRP, BCH, and LTC (Litecoin, no pressure, but if you’re not back in the Top Ten in the next few months, you’re out of the club). Let’s take a look at those five: ETH leading the three year club Ethereum (+104%) would have returned the most at this point, followed by BTC (+77%). On the other hand, following this approach with XRP, I would have been down -31%. Alright, that’s crypto. How does crypto compare to the stock market?
Comparison to S&P 500:
I’m also tracking the S&P 500 as part of the experiments to have a comparison point with traditional markets. Although the S&P fell from an all time high the month before, it is up +35% since January 2019. The initial $1k investment I put into crypto 21 months ago would be worth $1,350 had it been redirected to the S&P 500 in January 2019. +35%, not bad at all. But the 2019 Top Ten Portfolio is up +54% over the same time period. That’s 2019. But what if I took the same world’s-slowest-dollar-cost-averaging $1,000-per-year-on-January-1st crypto approach with the S&P 500? It would yield the following:
$1000 investment in S&P 500 on January 1st, 2018 = $1260 today
$1000 investment in S&P 500 on January 1st, 2019 = $1350 today
$1000 investment in S&P 500 on January 1st, 2020 = $1050 today
Taken together, here’s the bottom bottom bottom line for a similar approach with the S&P: After three $1,000 investments into an S&P 500 index fund in January 2018, 2019, and 2020, my portfolio would be worth $3,660. That is up +22%since January 2018, compared to a +11% gain of the combined Top Ten Crypto Experiment Portfolios. As you can see in the table below, that’s a 11% swing in favor of the S&P 500. September breaks a two month mini-streak of wins from the Top Ten crypto portfolios. S&P takes the lead in Sept.
After a strong August, both the stock and crypto markets fell in September. In a year that feels neverending, a lot can and will happen in the remaining months of 2020. Be safe and take care of each other out there. Thanks for reading and for supporting the experiment. I hope you’ve found it helpful. I continue to be committed to seeing this process through and reporting along the way. Feel free to reach out with any questions and stay tuned for progress reports. Keep an eye out for the original 2018 Top Ten Crypto Index Fund Experiment and the 2020 Top Ten Experiment.
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DITO rockets up 20%, drops 30%, then finishes flat... the Aristocrats! (Wednesday, Oct 7)
Happy Wednesday, Barkada --
The PSE closed down 28 points to 5911 ▼0.5%.
Good news! I have a couple of people who are potentially interested in sponsoring MB, so I'm excited to explore those opportunities. My goal has always been to simply be revenue neutral, and to keep MB free for everyone to enjoy. (inb4 "RAID Shadow Legends" ad) Shout-out to Christine for her suggestion to try and improve the bottom-line of MB by moving from Mailchimp to SendFox. It's something I'm going to look into, but I'm very careful about making changes. I'll have to investigate. Thanks also to Jack_ol_lantern for suggesting ways to leverage my domain to try a "roll your own" alternative, and to nikohd for suggesting I offer a bitcoin donation address. I've got lots to study this weekend! No complaints here, though. Exciting times in MB town.
[UPDATE] ABS-CBN [ABS 9.00 ▼14.93%] confirms distribution deal with Zoe TV’s rebranded “A2Z Channel”... this is just confirmation of the fire that caused the ceiling-play smoke a couple of days ago that saw the ABS stock price rise 50% intraday. According to this press release, ABS-CBN and Zoe Broadcasting Network Inc have made a deal to show “some entertainment shows and movies of ABS-CBN” on A2Z Channel 11, a newly re-branded Zoe Broadcasting Network channel that will broadcast on analog TV in Metro Manila and surrounding provinces. ABS content will start appearing on this new A2Z channel starting October 10.
MB:No details yet on what content, exactly, will be shown, but the wording of the press release is interesting. It mentions “entertainment and movies” specifically, but leaves out politically-adjacent topics like news or analysis/interview shows. The Inquirer is reporting a rumor that “It’s Showtime” and “ASAP Natin ‘To” will be part of the content to make its way to A2Z Channel 11, but that has not been confirmed. Investors will want to watch this closely to see how well ABS is able to monetize this agreement with advertising, and to see how the government reacts as more ABS content moves into this pipeline.
[UPDATE] Wild DITO CME [DITO 6.81 unch], NOW Communications [NOW 4.98 ▲13.44%], and Chelsea Logistics [C 5.90 ▼4.07%] price action in yesterday’s session... the NOW and DITO pump has been massive and constant. But this last week was especially spicy, with yesterday’s session just an absolute gong-show that caused brokerage meltdowns. DITO opened the day at P7/share, up 3% on the previous day’s close, and steadily gained to a high-water mark of P8.02/share (+18%) at around 11:45am. At 11:45am, DITO had a marketcap of P22.5bn. In the next 27 minutes, DITO would lose P7.4bn in marketcap as the price imploded to P5.38/share, swinging from an 18% gain on the day to a 21% loss. Then, over the next 30 minutes, completely erasing that loss and ending the day right where it started, at P6.81/share. 2.09 billion shares changed hands on the PSE yesterday; DITO accounted for 16% of the day’s total volume (355 million shares). The three companies combined accounted for over 28% of all shares traded.
MB:MB: The amount of market uncertainty here is incredible. Traders love it, investors hate it. DITO doesn’t even own DITO Telecommunity, or anything else of material value for that matter, NOW just diluted shareholders with a bearish low-price sweetheart deal, and Chelsea is a company of tugboats and passenger ferries that happens to own a sliver of Dennis Uy’s enigmatic telecom. NOW has a long history of playing the “press release pump and dump” game, and I can only imagine that it’s happy just to be along for the ride, fluffing feathers before a potential IPO by way of introduction. Everyone in the Philippines can sense that connectivity is a bull market, whether that be mobile data (C, GLO, TEL.... then NOW) or broadband (GLO, TEL, CNVRG)...so money just keeps pouring into telco-related stocks. And it makes sense, too, given how few options there are right now on the PSE for anything that looks both pandemic-resilient and secularly profitable. But some of these things are not like the others. Some of these things will crush it, and some will not. Be careful trading telcos that you remember whether you’re being a trader (short term) or an investor (long term). Don’t start out as a trader, forget to place stops, then wind up as an investor with an investment that’s underwater. BE CAREFUL. EDIT: Also, COL Financial, get your act together. You blew AREIT and MM, and you blew yesterday's Telecommotion. At this point, traders/investors should not make plans in reliance on COL Financial's execution of a buy or sell trade.
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I’m a commentator for a tournament of nightmares. I’m not sure the participants are willing.
You’d think being a psychiatric ward for 38 months would be enough to deter a guy from ever going back to a sport that involves watching human beings at the height of their physical prowess beat the living shit out of each other. Sometimes regulated, sometimes not. But, here I am, fresh outta the loony bin and reading the most unusual advertising slogan I’d ever laid eyes on; “The most terrifying tournament has come around once again! Conquer your fears in theNFC*…* literally.” This was the business card that accompanied my black envelope as it was handed to me on the discharge ward by a well dressed and gangly fella with an uncomfortable wide smile. He didn’t say much of anything, just that his name was “Watson” before bowing and holding up the envelope. “Heh, like the butler, right?” I said, taking the envelope from his plasticine hands. His smile ripples across his face and he nods slowly, his perfect hair unmoving in the strong wind before he turns on his heel and walks back to the black sedan. The cold air chilled my bones, and I pulled the medical bracelet from my wrist, grimacing at the marks underneath before following Watson to the Sedan and hauling my luggage into the trunk before setting off, not knowing how I came to even be there in the first place. I guess right now, that doesn’t really matter. What matters is where I am now and what I’m doing. "blood strewn across the canvas, frayed brain matter sailing across my head and splattering against the wall, a woman standing in a pool of blood as the deformed creature twitches on the ground" My name is Sal “Motormouth” Sabotta, I’m a sports commentator by trade. Be it combat sports, pro wrestling, death-matches or martial arts tournament, I’ve done it all. I won’t lie; Work can be hard to come by. I’ve spent months struggling for rent and resorting to less tried-and-true commentary methods in order to survive. That has, at times, involved trying my hand at some of the more underground competitions; unregulated fights, sick, illegal games bet on by people on the dark web and worse… Things I’m not going to detail here. Things I’m not proud to have taken a hefty pay-check for from greasy, sweaty fucks in Armani tracksuits and stinking of cheap booze and coke all the way up to well-dressed bitcoin farmers in their 20s who probably own child slaves. In short, I’m no stranger to the grim underworld or the secrecies with which they conduct their work. I see money and an easy way to make it with my voice; I don’t ask questions. So when I received an email the day of my discharge from the hospital and I’m told “you’ll receive a letter from Mr. Watson, take it and follow the instructions to the venue. Pay up front as agreed.”, I don’t question it. Especially when the note is personalised, and the doctor says my medical fees were covered. We drove past numerous landscapes, vistas and neighbourhoods before veering off into an industrial estate and entering an underground tunnel. Half a mile in, Watson stops the car and peers back, smiling. He directs a thumb to the service door in the side tunnel and rubs his neck, a scar running from ear to ear. Was he a former fighter? Gangster? I sighed and got out, still in my medical gown and hauling ass to the door. It opened before I could reach out and a tall, muscular woman in her late 30s greeted me with a smile. She was imposing, powerful in her gait, a black eyepatch with several seals adorning the sides accompanying a thick scar down her face did nothing to stop her beauty. She wore a tank top with a black cloak with white fur on the tops and sleeves, a thick black chain clasp around the neck. I won’t lie; she looked badass. Terrifying, but badass. “‘Bout time ya showed up, Sabotta!” She grinned and put a cinderblock of a hand on my shoulder. I’m 5’10 and 180lbs, but she made me feel like a child in front of her. The power emanating from her fist was unbelievable. “C’mon, the trial match is starting and I don’t want no tourney without a broken in commentator! You gotta know the ropes of this place!” “You know your driver was standing right outside when I was discharged, right? Couldn’t think to give me an extra day or two to freshen up?” I frowned. This wasn’t normal protocol, even for back-alley promotions like this. She just laughed at me and slapped my shoulder. “The tournament waits for nobody, Sal. Times a-wasting.” The hallway is dimly lit and the sounds of a ruckus above us are as impossible to ignore as the sounds of thudding, screaming and snapping. As we pass several doors with one-way mirrors on the front panes, I hear sounds I could have never placed in the animal kingdom or otherwise; gurgles, clicks, grunts and even otherworldly whispers. “What the fuck is that? You guys doing animal fights down here? I mean I called a monkey fight once, but it’s not exactly… pleasant.” I shuddered, thinking of the violence chimpanzees can inflict on one another, let alone humans. She never stopped walking or staring directly ahead when she responded.“Those ain’t animals. Not by a long shot.” Before I can probe further, I’m hurried into a changing room and practically swept off my feet by her strength. I turn back and she’s already poking her head out the door. “You’ve got 5 minutes, get your shit and head up the left stairs, Watson will guide you.” She grinned, and I saw gold filings in her teeth that glinted as much as her bedazzled eye patch. “Ya came highly recommended… I expect good things!” I do as instructed and within 5 minutes I’m back in my commentary clothes; an open buttoned Hawaiian shirt with my old Hotel Inertia shirt underneath, skinny black jeans and shimmering black shoes. I found some old slick gorilla powder in my hair and dusted it up, opting for the dishevelled look as I knew I’d be sweating by the end of the ordeal. “You shouldn’t bother putting in so much effort, y’know. They’re not gonna care how good you look, only how well you talk.” Standing in the doorway was a woman in her 40s, dark-skinned and hair clad in meticulous dreadlocks, tied back into a large bun with a pair draped down the sides of her head. She held a thick book in one hand and pocketed a serrated blade in the other before motioning to me. “We’ll have to do the pleasantries on the way, the match is starting and you don’t wanna miss that. The commissioner isn’t the type you want to upset. Especially when you’re not here by choice.” I looked for a moment, dumbfounded. “I’m here because I was invited, already got my pay from the woman who let me in.” I shrugged, pocketing the envelope and getting my equipment from the suitcase. The woman gave a sad smile and shook her head. “Of course you’d think that. She likes it that way. Bet she didn’t introduce herself either, did she? C’mon.” I follow her down and after a few minutes we come to a fork in the hallway, an elevator system to our right and a stairway to the left. Dutifully, Watson stood patiently, still grinning and motioning us to go up. Once we’re situated in our booth upstairs, I set my equipment up and look down at the table, expecting a slew of papers and fighter information in front of me. I look to the woman to ask, but she doesn’t break her stare in the darkness, looking down at the arena floor some 100ft below us.“You won’t need that. Not for this match.” The lights flicker on and the enormity of this venue reveals itself to me. It’s a structure of imposing steel, dried blood, claw marks and other unknown substances that littered the 40ft wide circular pit the fighters contested in, a black lift on either side from the fighters corners that I can only assume ascended up from their locker room area. Around them were chain-link fences that rose up to the audience stands above, situating around 300 people across all four sides. At the very top sat our booth, the commissioner’s office directly opposite, the judges booth to our right and the fight analysts/medical area to our left. Standing in the centre with a spotlight over them was the commissioner, microphone in hand and an energy that was almost palpable. “Ladies, Gentlemen and Freaks of all kinds out there in the universe. I welcome you once more to the annual Nightmare Fighting Championship Tournament! It’s been a long year, but we have new blood to pit against our resident night terrors and some fresh fears to feast on the fortuitous soul that frolics into their den. As always, our contestants will be fighting for their freedom, a chance to get their wish or to fight for the ultimate prize.” The crowd cheers and the majority are hidden behind thick plexiglass and lighting, but I can see some have Karate Gi’s, weapons in hand and others with demon masks as they whoop and holler. The clientele here were, at least in my estimation, experienced. But I was feeling a lump in my throat at that one phrase The Commissioner so surreptitiously added in without issue; “As always, our contestants will befightingfor theirfreedom*”* I leaned to the woman next to me and as if she knew what I was going to ask; she put a finger up and shook her head. Eyes awash with fear and a grimness I had only seen on that of trainers who knew their fighter was not ready for the bout ahead. She pointed the finger down to my machine, then to the pit. Turning it on, I looked down as the commissioner began to talk, readying myself to commentate on whatever weirdos came up to battle. “But before we get to that, we have an exciting exhibition match for our loyal supporters who bankroll this event every year. Without you elite few, we could not do this. You are the pound for pound goats of support! Now, without further ado; let’s get this show on the road!”The rest of the lights clicked on and spun around the venue as they raised the profile of the bout, the elevators both whirring into action as the right one arose first. “In this corner, from the marionettes shop and accompanied by his Bunraku doll “Mr. Stares”, it’s the man who pulls the strings… THE PUPPET MAN!” Out steps a tall, thin Japanese man in full clown makeup. His head shaven save for two ridiculous strands of hair stretched out and fluffed up to their limits, like red antennae. His eyebrows large m’s that practically cover his forehead, the nose a completely vacant slot with a black hole drawn in and the mouth… the fucking mouth was nailed shut. Literally. Sharp rusted nails had been hammered down through the lips with such force that they’d bent. A sickening crimson red face-paint stretched across the entire bottom half of his face, making it seem far larger by comparison. He carefully held a small bundle underneath a sheet and bowed deeply to the audience before standing at his designated spot. “In the other corner, from the streets of god knows where and the womb of someone who misses him… "Hulked Up" Michael O’Donnell!” I watched with wide eyes and a stomach threatening to evacuate its contents at any moment as the smoke cleared and a boy no older than 17 rushed out, beating his chest and screaming to the crowd as if he was the Incredible Hulk. I don’t know if they drugged the poor kid, but he clearly had no idea where he was. “There are no rules, no referees and judges only exist in case of a draw or unclear victory. Our commentary team will take over and we wish you a phenomenal match.” She drools a little before she speaks again, looking up at me and winking. “Let’s make this a violent one.” She snaps her fingers and leaps for the fence, climbing up with ungodly ease before sitting on her makeshift chair in her office. I have no idea what I’m seeing but every cell in my body is urging me to run; I feel my knees tense and my frame rise ever so slightly before the woman next to me puts her hand on my thigh, pushing me down with great force. “You have a job to do, so do I. Trust me, you think you can leave but if you get out of this chair, not only will YOUR life end. Mine will too.” She unsheathes the serrated blade and looks at me with pity. “We both have a part to play here, so put the headset on and let’s do our job, no matter how hard it is.” Hands shaking, I pick up the headset and connect it to the portable recorder and take a breath. “I… I need your name. What is it you do?” I stutter, trying to calm myself. She hands me a bottle of water as the surrounding lights dim and the spotlight focuses on the spectacle below. “I’m Madame Nelle Lockwood, cryptid hunter and your co-host to guide you through tonight. Good to meet you, Sal.” - NFC EXHIBITION MATCH: "Hulked Up" Michael O’Donnell vs The Puppet Man w/ Mr. Stares “Welcome fight fans from around the world, god knows how you’re listening to this or WHY, but here we are. I’m your host Sal “MotorMouth” Sabotta, wishing this was all a bad dream. Joining me this evening is our cryptid specialist and all round badass Madame Nelle Lockwood. How are you doing, Nelle?” She looks at me with a bewildered look on her face before blinking and coming to her senses. “Uhh… good! All things considered… boy, you really have a professional knack for this, huh? I can see why Commissioner Alduin brought you in." “Ahh, yes. That’s right, folks! NFC Commissioner Alduin invited me here personally and our exhibition match proves to be… challenging. Let’s check in on the action below.” I look down and see The Puppet Man sat down and gesturing to the figure under the sheet, like he’s got a negotiation going on. The boy, undeterred and furious, rushes towards him and takes his back, slapping his head and even pulling on his hair with extreme prejudice. “Well take a gander at that, that kid has absolutely NO fear. When I was his age, I would have stayed FAR the fuck away from a nightmare spectre like that. But hell, this is all part of the show, right? Hope they’re paying that poor guy down there a sizeable sum to throw a fight to a child. What do you think, Nelle; is this the weirdest make-a-wish fulfilment task or what?” I look over to her, hoping she’d indulge me and that I could believe this was just going to end with a pissed off actor storming away when the child hit him too hard. But Nelle was scanning her now open book and looking for information on dolls. “He’s talking to his doll because it’s desperate to be let loose. He’s trying to bargain with it to spare him. This is the nature of the puppeteer and his master.” She pushes the book to the centre of the table and shows me a faded illustration of a pristine Bunraku doll; a kind of meticulously crafted Japanese take on the ventriloquist doll. The limbs are thinner and the face is more minimalist, but still no more frightening. “They usually have a symbiotic relationship, but it seems this one obeys the doll and will not want to face more punishment.” “What do you mean more punishment?” I ask, looking back down at the feverish puppet man as he tries signing frantically under the sheet, even putting his head under as the kid bites his arm and kicks him, screeching. “The nails, Sal. Those aren’t to silence him, they’re to punish him.” The rest happened in slow motion; the sheet fell down. The puppet man stood up and walked to his side of the fighters corner, facing the elevator and placing his face into his forearms as he shook. The boy followed to keep attacking, but with one swift kick to the midsection, the boy was propelled back to the centre of the pit where the doll sat. If there was a human face, I didn’t see it. Instead, I was staring down at a small wood carved spider, the head sporting black geisha hair and the makeup still present, but rows of sharpened black teeth protruded from the clicking mouth and two larger eyes jutted out from the base of the skull, smaller ones dotted closely around it. It was like seeing a puppet ogre spider. “Looks like The Puppet Man has let Mr. Stares out to say hi and I can certainly see why he was under that sheet, this one isn’t pretty folks! The face doth fit the name. The question is, what’s he doing to do ne- “I didn’t need to finish the question. My hands shook, and the world spun around me as this creature crawled towards the still wheezing boy with ungodly speed and perched itself expertly beside him. I don’t know if it was my eyes or the distance from where I sat, but this was NOT a small puppet. He was easily half of the boy’s height and that became more unnerving when he reared up on his back legs, the head clicking up and the raspy voice hissing out like a gas leak in a building. “Hey, hey, kid! Wanna make a deal?” The kid rubbed his eyes, seemingly realising where he was as he calmed down and an air of utter confusion around him. “If you let me be your new master and you promise to take care of me, I’ll let you go!” His head spun around and the jaw clicked ferociously as he giggled, extending out a clawed paw. “Whaddya say?” The boy, still confused, slowly reached out his hand and the moment immediately reminded me of a slew of nature shows I’d seen as a kid; where a predator waits until the prey is lulled before striking. I felt the chill up my spine as he extended his hand and grabbed Mr. Stares. In that moment, he leapt up the arm and bore his way into the boy’s mouth, down his throat and shredded his flesh. The sound was so horrifying, so visceral that it outshines any backyard stabbing, joint snap or broken nose. The boy didn’t even have time to scream, he simply looked up with tear-stained eyes as the puppet disappeared. Then he started walking without him realising. He looked down at his limbs, terrified, looked over at The Puppet Master, who still had his head to the elevator and pleaded with someone, anyone to help him. I looked to Nelle who refused to take her eyes away, studying the battle in an almost morbid scientific curiosity, detached entirely from the scenario. I couldn’t fathom how she did it, how she ignored this boy begging us to get him out of there. I wanted to. Every instinct in me as a fight fan and a decent human was to scream “STOP THE FIGHT!”. But clearly, when my own life is at risk and money is involved... I am not a decent human. Instead, with bile in my throat and a sweating forehead, I did my job. “M-My goodness! The P-uppet, I mean, “Mr. Stares” has BECAME the puppet master, surely the fight will be over with our young competitor incapacitated? What does our commissioner have to say about this?” She stared at me, her one eye gleaming and her face elated with the violence. “It ain’t over yet, church boy. We haven’t even seen the finale, have we Puppet Master?!” She laughs and slaps her knee, the puppet master sobbing as he sinks to the floor and she continues. “He ain’t done feeding, not yet.” The way she said that word “feeding” nearly made me lose what food I had in me. That was a young man, somebody's baby boy… “What does she mean by that, Nelle? What is the strategy to victory here?” Nelle looked down at her book and traced her finger across a passage before wiping her forehead and pushing the locks aside. If her composure wasn’t breaking yet, it would do soon. “This kind of parasitic doll feasts on its prey and targets non-essential organs first, controls the host with the neurotoxin in its tail and then, when it’s finally content, it gives the brain a second injection.” “What happens then?” I asked, my own professionalism hanging on by a fucking thread at this point. She shook her head and pinched the bridge of her nose.“I guess you’ll see in a moment, I sure as hell don’t want to. Not again.” Before I can prompt her further, the boy lets out an ear-piercing shriek and falls to his knees, gripping at his head before it turned red, then purple and finally an ugly shade of puce before… The sound of a watermelon hitting the ground from a great height is the best comparison you’re going to get without making me want to rush to the toilet to puke for a third time. But that’s what happened. His head burst and chunks of his skull, flesh and brain matter sprayed the pit and the walls, some hitting my desk and making me audibly shriek, much to the commissioner's delight. “HA! You didn’t run! I like you, Sal. You pass for the tournament!” She hauls her body up and slams down to the pit, applauding as the microphone descends from the heavens. “And your winner; The Puppet Man and Mr. Stares!” The crowd erupts with applause as the weeping puppet man pulls the blood-soaked puppet out, places him under the sheet and silently begins to walk back to the elevator while attendees clear up the boy’s corpse. “What… what the fuck IS this place?” I ask Nelle, pausing my recording. “This is where nightmares are kept and set upon mostly unwilling competitors for the world’s amusement. You HAVE done dark web fights before, right? Mafia snitches being put into lions pits, bum fights, addicts fighting women to score… this can’t be THAT unusual to you?” I stared at her incredulously. Was that even a question? “I did the dark web ONCE and it damn sure didn’t involve monsters!” She scoffs and closes her book, stretching before looking at me with contempt. “Oh, it did. Just not the ones you hear about in fairytales. Good luck with the selection process. I’ll be back for the opening round. Don’t try to run, they’ll devour us both in minutes, if you think this is the pinnacle of what lurks beneath this club, you're in for a rough night.” She sauntered off, leaving me deflated, sickened and terrified. Unable to leave and frustrated to the point of tears that I couldn’t express that concoction of emotions, I did what I always do; I regressed and pressed “record” on the device as Commissioner Alduin continued. At that moment, however, I was deaf to it all. The gravity of the situation had fully enveloped me… They weren’t kidding about the unwilling participants, I just didn’t realise I would be one of them.On every side of me sits men and women with a desire for violence that goes beyond the norm, beyond the sane and beyond the boundaries of humanity.Below me are an untold number of creatures rattling their cages and howling for blood. Across from me is a woman so powerful she could crush my skull beneath her boot with the utmost ease if it so amused her. That invitation was nothing more than my own ransom note in pretty colours and flattering platitudes. I was in a tournament housing nightmares incarnate. And it would only get more violent from here on out. - The opening round was a blood bath.
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