15 Crazy Facts You Don’t Know About Super Mario

15 Crazy Facts About Super Mario
(Twitter/forestillusion)

Despite making his professional gaming debut way back in 1981’s arcade classic Donkey Kong, there are still quite a few things that people don’t know about everyone’s favorite high-flying, mustachioed plumber.

We’ve done a seriously deep dive into Super Mario Bros history to bring you some information that, honestly, probably would have gotten our butts shoved into a locker back in high school. Fortunately, this is a safe space, and if you somehow already knew all ten of these deep-cut Nintendo nuggets, you definitely hold a special place in my nerdy little heart.

1. Super Mario Bros. had a cheat for infinite lives

Early video games were notorious for being difficult. Battled your way to that final boss only to lose your last life before finishing him off? Start over from the beginning, pal. You’re further than you’ve ever gotten but your mom says it’s time for dinner? No save files here, buckaroo.

Super Mario Bros. was no different… or wasn’t it? Most folks think it’s back to ol’ World 1-1 when your lives drain down to zero, but what they don’t realize is that by holding the A button and hitting Start, you can start back at the beginning of the World in which they died. What?!

It’s true. It says so right in the Official Nintendo Player’s Guide. Seven-year-old me is furious.

Nintendo Manual Code
(Nintendo)

2. “Yoshi” isn’t Yoshi’s Full Name

Just because Yoshi gets roped in as a tool for Mario’s bidding immediately following being hatched from an egg (as a fully-grown, shoe-wearing adult, I might add), doesn’t mean we shouldn’t give him the courtesy of acknowledging him by his full name.

Rediscovered by Blake Harris back in 2014 via an internal character guide, the bipedal green dino’s actual name is “T. Yoshisaur Munchakoopas.” No word yet regarding what the ‘T’ stands for yet—Tyrannosaurus? Transportation? Tanner?

If it stands for Tanner, I don’t even feel bad for tossing him into that pit.

(Nintendo)

3. Jackie Chan indirectly influenced Super Mario Bros.

Designer Shigeru Miyamoto has previously said how much the game Kung-Fu influenced his work on Super Mario Bros. The games’ bright colors and smooth side-scrolling are clearly reminiscent of each other, but most people don’t know the Jackie Chan connection.

While the US version of Kung-Fu featured a random guy named Thomas (cue the eye-rolls), the Japanese version was directly licensed under the Jackie Chan film Spartan X (known in America as Wheels on Meals). Unfortunately, the face-punching wasn’t one of the things added to Mario’s repertoire of moves.

4. Mario was originally going to shoot guns and ride a rocket

Just because punching guys Jackie Chan-style wasn’t ever really in the works for Mario, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a much more badass version of him in development at one point in time. Before he was the turtle-stomping, mushroom-eating hero we know and love, Mario was less ‘plumber’ and more ‘John McClane.’

Early concepts of the game armed our hero with a beam gun and rifle and split the game between on-foot stages and shooting stages in which Mario rode on a rocket or cloud. This likely inspired aspects of the shooting stages in Super Mario Land on the Gameboy.

5. The Warp Zones exist solely because of Excitebike

Have you beaten the original Super Mario Bros? Okay, okay… but have you beaten is without warps?? If not, you owe your success to a certain motocross game on the NES.

Excitebike was Shigeru Miyamoto’s last game before hitting it big with Mario and Zelda, and the game featured a course selection screen that the game designer really appreciated. If you wanted to try your luck on the hardest course on your first try, there was nothing stopping you.

Miyamoto wanted to implement a similar feature in Super Mario Bros but was worried people would skip right to the end before honing their jumping skills in earlier levels. The solution: Warp Zones… but not before getting a feel for the game in Worlds 1-1 and 1-2.

6. The firebar was taken from Legend of Zelda

If you’ve ever taken a stroll through one of Bowser’s many, many castles (seriously, who is this guy’s real estate agent?), you’ve undoubtedly noticed these spinning fiery death traps.

What you might not have realized was that the same obstacle can be found in 1991’s A Link to the Past. Originally created for 1986’s The Legend of Zelda before both Mario and Zelda were either in the public eye, the firebar eventually made its way from Hyrule to the Mushroom Kingdom to give us even more grief.

7. All Toads are genderless

Probably something none of us ever really needed to know, but it’s true. The squat little citizens of the Mushroom Kingdom cannot be identified by any specific sex despite the traditional gender norms you might associate with their colorful headgear.

In an interview with Gamespot, Nintendo producer Koichi Hayashida revealed that “Toads are a genderless race that take on gendered characteristics.” Furthermore, he clarified that Toad and Toadette are not romantically involved at all, but are simply the closest of friends and “adventure pals,” which is pretty damn beautiful, too, right?

(Nintendo)

8. Bowser and Peach boozed it up in Super Mario Kart

There isn’t a lot of censorship that occurs in modern Nintendo releases, but some of the initial games that made their way across the Pacific to Western audiences included a few tweaks—one of which is a big fat NO to alcohol.

Apparently, worried about the backlash should they include booze in any of their G-rated games, Nintendo changed the victory animations for Bowser and Peach from guzzling champagne to something a bit more kid-friendly. Sure, I can fall into a deadly pit of lava or get completely crushed by a thwomp but a little bubbly is simply too much.

(Nintendo)

9. Goombas were the last enemy added to Super Mario Bros.

That’s right, the first baddie you ever encounter from Bowser’s army was, in fact, the last one added. In the final stages of production, Miyamoto decided the game needed a simple enemy that could be defeated with one hit. With very little memory left on the cartridge, developers created what was basically a little brown blob with eyes and one giant eyebrow, and the infamous goomba was born.

Bonus facts: In Japan, Goombas are referred to as “Kuribo,” which roughly translates to “Chestnut People.” So, imagining them roasting on an open fire is technically festive! And did you know Goombas have arms?

10. If you wait long enough, the Hammer Bros will chase you down

I wish I was lying. If you wait long enough, these hammer-wielding Koopas will eventually get sick of your shit and go straight into a berzerker-rage mode. Word to the wise: Don’t make the guy tossing around giant metal tools angry.

11. Mario’s full name is Mario Mario… kind of

It sounds like a joke a 5-year-old would make up, but it’s actually true. True Mario fans will remember the ridiculous line from the aptly named 1993 cult classic Super Mario Bros film when Bob Hoskins’ Mario claims his full name to be “Mario Mario.” Apparently, the joke tickled Miyamoto so much, he decided to roll with it.

“I heard this and laughed rather loudly,” he said in an interview with Game Informer. “Of course, this was ultimately included in the film. Based on the film, that’s [how] their names ended up. But, just like Mickey Mouse doesn’t really have a last name, Mario is really just Mario and Luigi is really just Luigi.”

12. A copy of Super Mario Bros. recently sold for over $100,000

Who says video games can’t pay the bills? This mint copy of Super Mario Bros is one of two “sticker-sealed” copies of the game produced between 1984 and 1985 specifically for test markets in New York and L.A., making it the rarest of rare.

Past games have reached five figures in various auctions but this bad boy was the first to break $100k.

(US Gamer)

13. The beta version of Super Mario Kart had very different music

Sure, it was just a placeholder before the final kickass version of the Mario Kart 64 theme was created, but it’s pretty fun to think about just how many versions of these games are produced before we finally get our greedy little hands on them.

Twitter user Forest of Illusion shared an alternate version of the intro music that was created for a prototype titled Mario Kart R.

14. Super Mario Bros. is stored on a 256-kilobit cartridge

Yes, kilobits. And 256 kilobits is the equivalent of 32 kilobytes. This means you could fit roughly 250,000 cartridges-worth of Super Mario Bros on your 64 GB smartphone if you wanted to. But that would be silly and pointless so don’t do that. I said DON’T.

15. The Mario backstory is actually dark as hell

If you were one of the few who actually read the Super Mario Bros instruction manual, you were treated to one weeeeeeird narrative that few people know about. Apparently, Bowser and the Koopas are black magic-wielding wizards who have turned the denizens of the Mushroom Kingdom into bushes, blocks, and mushrooms. The remaining townsfolk were gruesomely transformed into the evil thrall-like chestnut men.

That means every block you smash and brick you shatter is actually an innocent person getting straight-up murdered. Congratulations! We’re all monsters.

(Nintendo)

These crazy facts are a part of our dad trivia series, where we drop some pop-culture science you can impress your dad pals with at the next BBQ.

Fan Art Shows John Cena, Zac Efron as Newest Members of the Fantastic 4

Fanart Depicting The Fantastic 4
(Twitter // BossLogic)

Fancasting is fun, and sometimes even persuasive. Sure, there’s the Jack Black plays everyone in the MCU alternate universe, but in the real world, Patrick Stewart as Professor X, Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange, and Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool all owe their roles to a bit of fan speculation. With the X-Men and Fantastic 4  joining the MCU during Phase 4, speculation has been rampant about casting for both teams of superheroes.

WandaVision was swirling with rumors and teases about casting reveals, with fans hoping for Magneto’s involvement. Disney+ may have a Wolverine show planned, but the trailer for Phase 4 once again teased the inclusion of the Fantastic Four, both of which have caused flurries of more fancasting on social media.

Obviously, actors cast as married couples dont have to actually be married in real life, and usually aren’t, but fans can’t resist putting John Krasinski and Emily Blunt in the role of Reed and Sue Storm, leaders of the Fantastic 4. It’s constant, so much so that many of them are bound to be disappointed when Marvel goes in a different direction.

Regardless, they do seem like they’d be good in those roles. Back in 2018, Boss Logic, an art director and popular Twitter personality, has mocked up a bit of artwork to make it even more painful if it doesn’t happen. But threw in a couple of other names into the mix, and mocked them up as well: Zac Efron as Johnny Storm, and John Cena, currently a member of DC’s Suicide Squad, as The Thing.

I have to say, that foursome looks pretty convincing. Not sure how convincing it looks to Kevin Feige and the higher-ups at Marvel, though. The good news is we’re going to find out sooner than later, with the MCU’s Phase 4  kicking off with Black Widow in July and not slowing down for the foreseeable future. Eventually, they’re going to have to tell us exactly who is going to star in the Fantastic 4!

I’m sure they’ll get it right; their casting has been pretty impeccable. I just hope there’s a spot for Danny DeVito.

Woody Harrelson Stops to Help Strangers Move In Full Dad-Mode

Woody Harrelson Helps A Woman Move
(Twitter / Alex Janin)

He may play a symbiote serial killer nowadays, but Woody Harrelson seems way more like his friendly Cheers character in real life.  Beloved funny man and movie star Bill Murray has a legendary reputation for popping up in random places and making strangers’ days with good-natured antics. Now his former Zombieland co-star is stepping in to fill his shoes.

Earlier this month, Alex Janin, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, and her boyfriend Grant Jefferson were moving out of their Manhattan apartment. Wouldn’t you know it, Hunger Games star Woody Harrelson emerged from a store, started chatting with Alex, and decided to help them move.

Alex shared a photo of the Cheers bartender holding a houseplant and smiling, with the caption “Woody Harrelson helped us move out of our apartment today. Love you, NYC.”

She provided a little extra context in a follow-up tweet, explaining that the actor was looking for a local Citibike station, and after they talked, insisted on doing some manual labor on the couple’s behalf.

Alex told her story to the Huffington Post, and described Woody -who advised her to water her plant more- as having “total dad vibes.” She even hoped he came back later to rescue her dying plant.

“We left it on the street for a (hopefully) better home,” Jefferson said. “I have a fantasy Woody came back later and saved it. He was concerned.”

I bet Bill Murray would have.

NBA Star Putting up Points in Custom “Superbad” Jordans

McLovin Jordans
(Twitter/NickDePaula)

Few things are more sacred to a pro athlete’s uniform than shoes. Whether it’s custom cleats paying homage to an icon or a cool new collab, athletes know how to do shoes. And most fans pay closer attention to the footwear they actually wear in games, rather than what they peddling for endorsement deals. And Blake Griffin’s “Superbad” custom Jordan 35s are standouts when it comes to awesome NBA footwear.

“Superbad” is a classic coming of age, teen comedy. It was a breakthrough movie for Jonah Hill and it was a longtime passion project for Seth Rogen. But it was “McLovin” who stole the best scenes in the film, and even Blake Griffin agrees, given he sports a classic turn from the film on his shoes.

The new Brooklyn Nets addition wore the Jordan 35s complete with a fake Hawaii ID, calling back one of the funniest parts of the flick. He also made sure to customize them his own face instead of Christopher Mintz-Plasse and “McGriffin” instead of “McLovin”, which make for a perfect homage.

Griffin has averaged 17 points per game since joining the team from Detroit. The Nets will be one of the favorites to win the title in the playoffs, and you can’t help but root for a flying, dunking “McLovin” on the court.

The Best Gaming Chairs for Every Budget, Every Dad

gaming chairs
(Getty Images)

If you love to wind down at the end of a long day by playing some video games, comfort is always a top priority.  Your kids might find creative ways to hang off the couch or just lay on the floor to play, but we dads need a throne fit for a king. If you’re like me and work from home on your computer, you probably use that same chair for your PC gaming.  Spending hours a day in the same spot can put a toll on your body, so picking the right chair is essential.  You want something that will feel great to sit in any time of the day.

For some, it might seem like a simple choice.  You could settle for anything, but it makes sense to find something comfortable and supportive.  The list of chairs I’ve put together here will cover all your needs and it’s also worth mentioning that some of these are great even if you aren’t a gamer.  They’ll provide plenty of support for your dad bod if you only need a chair for working from home, and you’ll look stylish sitting in them during those Zoom meetings.  Making your co-workers jealous is just as important as being comfortable.

Best Cool Gaming Chairs

Respawn-Gaming-Chair

RESPAWN 900 Racing Style, Reclining Gaming Chair

First up is the RESPAWN 900.  This reclining gaming chair features a plush removable headrest pillow and 360-degree swivel.  I think what sells me on this chair though is the cup holders.  It’s always important to stay hydrated during those marathon game sessions.  There’s even a removable side pouch that hangs off the left arm for your game controllers (or snacks, because you always need snacks).

Buy for $289.98 on Amazon

Qulomovs-Gaming-Chair

Qulomvs Big and Tall Massage Video Game Chair

Yes, there are massage gaming chairs, and yes, I now feel like I need one.  The Qulomvs Massage Gaming Chair comes equipped with a massage lumbar pillow that fits your waist curvature.  It also features a high strength rubber band in the seat bottom, as opposed to a steel frame design, which improves the softness of the seat.  Basically, your butt is going to thank you for purchasing this chair.

Buy for $209.99 on Amazon

Saemoza-Gaming-Chair

Saemoza Folding, 360 Degree Swivel Gaming Chair

Alright, so the Saemoza Gaming Chair is one of the more stylish and multi-functional chairs on this list.  Features include a backrest that can be adjusted into 5 different positions depending on the back support you need, and it can be folded up completely for easy storage.  This would be perfect for console gaming and it wouldn’t look out of place in your living room.  Your wife might even love it too, which is always a good thing.

Buy for $139.99 on Amazon

Best Gaming Chairs

Anda Seat Gaming Chair

Anda Seat Kaiser 2 Ergonomic Gaming Chair

The Anda Seat Kaiser 2 features 4D arm rests that you can customize to suit your needs to relieve wrist pressure and muscle strain.  This chair also comes with a large headrest pillow and lumbar cushion which will provide your spine and neck with the support they need.  The cushions are built with high-end premium PVC leather, meaning it’s easy to clean, which is a must if your kids are using it.

Buy for $499.99 on Amazon

AKRacing Gaming Chair

AKRacing Core Series SX Gaming Chair

The AKRacing Core Series SX Gaming Chair comes with an adjustable headrest, lumbar support pillows, and a durable metal frame with anti-corrosive coating covered with high-density, cold-cured, foam padding for maximum comfort and durability.  Each of the 3D armrests can be adjusted up & down, back & forth or rotated to the sides.  There’s also a class-4 gas lift to reach your ideal desk height with ease.

Buy for $349.00 on Amazon

DXRacer Gaming Chair

DXRacer Ergonomic Gaming Chair

With over 19 years of expertise in innovation and design, the DXRacer brand has become the top choice for pros and esports events.  Now, they can add “Dad Gamers” to that list (not sure why we weren’t already on there, but that’s okay).  The DXRacer Gaming Chair comes equipped with a tilt mechanism, adjustable seat height, fully adjustable arms, 135 degree reclining backrest, and is covered with a strong mesh material that will “elegantly take a beating for years.”  

Buy for $329.95 on Amazon

Acethrone Gaming Chair

Acethrone PC Gaming Chair

No matter your skill level, the Acethrone PC Gaming Chair will make you feel like a true gaming king.  Features include 2D arm support and an adjustable backrest.  According to the description, if you adjust the backrest to the deepest level, the chair becomes a small bed.  So, if you’re looking for a gaming chair and somewhere you can sleep, this chair is perfect for you.  

Buy for $269.99 on Amazon

Best Affordable Gaming Chairs

Hbada Gaming Chair

Hbada Racing Style Gaming Chair

The Hbada Racing Style Gaming Chair is quick and easy to install and features a high backrest which will ensure proper alignment and support for your back and neck.  For an extra $20, you can even upgrade to the Hbada Racing Style Gaming Chair that comes with a footrest to get really relaxed.

Buy for $169.99 on Amazon

OFM ESS Gaming Chair

OFM ESS Collection Leather Gaming Chair

If you’re someone who just wants a comfy chair with no bells and whistles, the OFM ESS Leather Gaming Chair is the one for you.  This chair features contoured segmented padding, an integrated padded headrest, and padded arms that will provide comfort whether you’re using it during intense gaming sessions or long workdays.  Sometimes simple is all you need to get the job done, and this chair delivers.

Buy for $106.45 on Amazon

These Budget Desktop Computers Are Great for Diving Right Into PC Gaming

cheap gaming pc
(Getty Images)

For anyone setting foot in the world of PC gaming for the very first time, it can be a daunting experience.  It also shouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg. Unlike picking between Playstation or Nintendo, where your choices essentially boil down to what system-exclusive games you want to play, PC gaming is a very different beast.  Customization is through the roof, with all sorts of different graphics cards, RAM, and processors to think about.  All of these choices will carry over to the games you play in terms of performance and graphics output depending on your setup.  It’s also extremely important you pick the right computer if you want to run Skyrim with every mod available or your kids want to run “graphically intense” games like Minecraft & Roblox at super max settings.

Personally, I’ve always bought my gaming PCs prebuilt.  My PC friends shame me for this, but that’s just how I roll.  Building your own PC or watching Henry Cavill build his own can be a satisfying experience, but not everyone wants to do that.  If you’re like me and just want something affordable, reliable, and ready to go, the list of PCs here are great options for diving into the PC gaming scene right away.

However, if you do end up deciding to go down the route of building your own PC, there are some PC gaming cases included on this list to help you get started.

Best Cheap Gaming PCs

Shinobee

Shinobee SSD Ultra 8-Core Gaming PC

  • CPU: AMD FX 8300 8 Core
  • GPU: NVIDIA Geforce GTX 1050
  • RAM: 16GB DDR3 PC-1600 (Dual Channel)
  • STORAGE: 1TB SATA III HDD

First up is the Shinobee SSD Ultra 8.  This model of the Shinobee comes equipped with an octa-core processor, 240 GB SSD + 1 TB of hard drive space, and 16GB of DDR3 memory.  It also has an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 that will really bring out those beautiful graphics in your games.

Buy for $499.00 on Amazon

Skytech Chronos

Skytech Chronos Mini Gaming PC

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 3 3100 4-Core 3.6 GHz
  • GPU: GeForce GTX 1660 6GB GDDR6
  • RAM: 16 GB DDR4
  • STORAGE: 500 GB Flash Memory Solid State

The Skytech Chronos Mini Gaming PC not only looks cool, but it’s capable of running your favorite games at High to Ultra settings, with crisp 1440p QHD resolution and smooth 60+ FPS gameplay.  This PC also features a 500GB SSD that is up to 30x faster than a traditional HDD.

Buy for $1,069.47 on Amazon

iBUYPOWER

iBUYPOWER Pro Gaming PC

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600 3.6GHz
  • GPU: NVIDIA GT 730 2GB
  • RAM: 8GB DDR4
  • STORAGE240GB SSD

If you’re looking for an entry-level gaming PC for your kids or yourself, the iBUYPOWER Pro Gaming PC is a great place to start.  This PC comes equipped with an AMD Ryzen 5 3600 alongside the NVIDIA GeForce GT 730 graphics processor, which is a GPU for gamers who enjoy less graphically demanding games (Roblox and Minecraft, I’m looking at you).  You can also add your own additional storage via the open M.2 or SATA ports.

Buy for $756 on Amazon

HP Pavillion

HP Pavilion Gaming Desktop 

  • CPU: Intel Core i5
  • GPU: GeForce GTX 1650
  • RAM: 8 GB DDR4
  • STORAGE: 256 GB

The HP Pavilion Gaming Desktop features loads of customization features with interchangeable LED lights and system optimization from the OMEN Command Center.  Outstanding performance with 4K visuals courtesy of the 10th Generation Intel Core i5-10400F processor.  This PC also comes equipped with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 graphics card that features all-new NVIDIA Turing architecture and 4 GB GDDR5 dedicated memory.

Buy for $859 on Amazon

Acer Nitro Gaming Desktop

  • CPU: 10th Generation Intel Core i5-10400F Processor
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Graphics with 4GB GDDR5 Video Memory
  • RAM: 8 GB DDR4
  • STORAGE: Flash Memory Solid State

This might be the most expensive PC on the list, but in the world of computers, this is still a very affordable price for a solid gaming PC.  I personally own this one, so I figured I’d throw it on here.  I’ve had no issues and it runs new games extremely well.  I did upgrade my RAM by purchasing an extra 8 GB.  Some owners claim to have put in upwards of 32 GB of RAM, but that’s totally your call.

Buy for $1,069 on Amazon

Best PC Gaming Cases

For those of you that have decided to go out and build your own, here are a few PC gaming cases to help you get started.  How you build the rest is entirely up to you.

MUSETEX ATX PC case

MUSETEX ATX Mid-Tower PC Gaming Case

This excellent ATX Mid-Tower Gaming computer case supports motherboards up to ATX, Micro-ATX, and Mini-ITX.  It also features mounts for up to 2 x HDD’s and 3 x SSDs.  This PC case comes equipped with 2 Galaxy dark 4mm thickness translucent tempered glass, allowing you to show off what is running your precious new gaming desktop.

Buy for $199.99 on Amazon

NZXT PC case

NZXT H510 Compact ATX Mid-Tower PC Gaming Case

The NZXT H510 Mid-Tower PC case features front I/O USB Type-C Port and tempered glass side panel with single screw installation.  Other features include a patented cable routing kit with pre-installed channels and straps which will make wiring easy and intuitive.  Seriously, cable management is always important.  You don’t want to show off your new PC and have cables everywhere, it’s the ultimate sin.

Buy for $69.99 on Amazon

Corsair iCUE PC case

Corsair iCUE 4000X RGB Mid-Tower ATX PC Case

The Corsair iCUE Mid-Tower combines stylish tempered glass, customizable RGB lighting, and innovative cable management into one nicely packaged PC case.  Each fan is equipped with eight individually addressable RGB LEDs for your very own customizable lighting.  You can also fully control and synchronize the RGB lighting for up to 6 fans with the included iCUE Lighting Node CORE and CORSAIR iCUE software.

Buy for $134.99 on Amazon

Why I’m so Freakin Excited for the Brood X Cicadas, a Letter to My Kids

Artistic depiction of what the 2021 Brood X Cicadas will look like on the Joel Willis family.
Artistic depiction of the 2021 Brood X Cicadas, cicadas may or may not be to scale (Joel Willis)

Author’s note: When my kids were born, I made each of them an email address. From time to time I email them thoughts, advice, pictures, videos, notes from their teachers, etc. They don’t check the email now, but one day they will. It’s a time capsule of love and memories. What follows is an email I sent them today.

My earliest memory is picking cicada shells off of trees in the front yard of my childhood home in Millville, Ohio. It was 1987. I was 4 years old. I know this because it was the first time I witnessed the Brood X Cicadas, which descend upon the midwest United States every 17 years.

Joel Willis, 4 years old, in a car ride at Americana theme park
Joel Willis, approximately 4 years old, at Americana theme park (Joel Willis)

17 years, the time it takes a human to go from a baby to an adult.

The second time I witnessed the Brood X Cicadas, it was 2004. I was 21. I worked downtown Cincinnati while going to school at the University of Cincinnati. Snappy Tomato Pizza changed their jingle to Snappy Cicada Pizza. At a Reds game in nosebleed seats in the summer heat, I dared a friend to eat a nacho with a cicada on it and he did. I remember driving down Columbia Parkway along the river to my tiny apartment in Mt Lookout. Cicadas fell from the trees at such great volume that I had to use my windshield wipers.

I had recently started dating a girl who moved away to Chicago for the summer. She was my best friend and I missed her so much while she was away. One night I was sitting on the couch and there was a knock at the door. My roommate told me to get it. There she was. She had coordinated with my roommate, randomly made the 5-hour drive, and surprised me. I was giddy. I’ll never forget it. That woman is the love of my life. She is your mom.

Young, in love, and blurry, Chicago, 2004
Young, in love, and blurry, Chicago, 2004 (Joel Willis)

The Brood X Cicadas served as the backdrop for 2 formative times in my life, so far. I’ll never forget the sound they made, and the way those big dumb idiots fly around bumping into each other so clumsily. But they’re also memory enhancers for everything else happening at that time.

Any day now, the Brood X Cicadas will be back. I’m so freakin excited. The timing couldn’t be better. You guys are 11 and 9. Going into 7th grade and 4th grade. You’re going to remember this your entire life.

I wasn’t always such a memories or “time”-obsessed person. I think it just happens to parents as they slowly watch their kids grow up. I used to think I’d never be sappy or sentimental about you guys growing up. Now I can get teary-eyed checking a video from Facebook memories.

So I think about it all the time, making sure to stay in the moment and cherish your childhood, making happy lifelong memories along the way.

4th grade and 7th grade. Formative years to be sure. I have distinct memories of the friends I made in 4th grade. How it felt to be on a winless basketball team, or even junky computer games I played after finishing schoolwork early. But 7th grade? Junior high?! Everyone has super vivid memories of that time. This summer is the last summer before everything gets real.

The fact that these bugs are here may be annoying to some. Your mom is already dreading it. The dog is gonna eat snacks for days. I find them fascinating. I’ve been telling you both for months how excited I am for the cicadas. But really, I’m excited for you to see the cicadas. They’re lifelong memory fuel. We’re gonna be positive. Have laughs. And one day you’ll look back on that summer when the cicadas invaded, your dad was giddy for some reason, your mom was grossed out, and we had the best summer ever.

17 years, the time it takes a human to go from a baby to an adult.

Shhh, you hear that buzz. That’s the sound of memories being made.

Little Girl Is Comforted by Sweet Dog During Her Dad’s Funeral

Passing Dog Comforts Girl During Dad's Funeral
(YouTube/CBS Evening News)

6-Year-old Raelynn Nast from Fort Smith, Arkansas was a daddy’s girl through and through. She loved spending time with her dad, and took great pride in introducing him to everyone she knew. Tragically, Raelynn’s dad Davey developed colon cancer and passed away at just 41 years old. The Nast family was devastated, but Raelynn was hit particularly hard by the loss of her hero and father.

Losing a parent is always heartbreaking, but at just six years old, the enormous loss is even more difficult to comprehend. Every aspect of life changes when a child loses a parent, and that level of grief is extremely challenging to process at any age.

On the day of Davey’s visitation, family and friends alike gathered to mourn. While many adults feel comforted by the support these visitations bring, kids often cope differently. When Raelynn spotted a jogger run by outside with her dog, in that moment, she wanted nothing more than to soak up the soft comfort that animals bring.

“She was like, ‘May I pet your puppy?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, of course, as long as your parents don’t mind,'” Emily Beineman recalled to CBS.

Beineman was unaware of the circumstances that brought the 6-year-old to the funeral home, but Raelynn soon explained that her own dad was laying inside. As Beineman’s dog Blue soaked up the little girl’s attention, Raelynn had a touching idea.

For her entire life, the 6-year-old proudly introduced every new friend to her dad. With the clarity and pureness only a child can possess, Raelynn decided that she wanted to enjoy that tradition one final time.

“I asked if she wanted to come in and see my dad,” Raelynn said.

Torn between her desire to support the young girl and the knowledge that she was about to walk into a funeral home with her dog and running gear, Beineman decided that Raelynn was more important than whatever a room full of strangers may think.

“Everyone was kind of looking around like, ‘Where did she come from?’” Raelynn’s mom Lacey recalled. “And she came in right next to Rae like they’d known each other for so long. There was that connection there.”

When Your 3-Year-Old Wants To Have A Tea Party

‘Friends: The Reunion’: Long List of Guest Stars Makes Up For Lame Trailer

Friends The Reunion Trailer
(YouTube/HBO Max)

It seems like ages ago that the Friends reunion was announced. And then Covid hit and it was delayed. And delayed some more. Well, it’s finally coming, and soon!

Today, HBO Max released a completely empty teaser trailer – seriously, it’s just a shot of the cast walking away from the camera as an overly dramatic instrumental version of the familiar theme song plays – and announced that the special will land on the streaming service on May 27th.

They also made up for the lack of sizzle in the teaser by laying out a long list of guest stars who will appear in the special, along with all of the original cast (Jennifer Aniston, Matthew Perry, Courtney Cox, David Schwimmer, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc). Many of the guests have tenuous – at best – links to the popular sitcom.

The list includes David Beckham, Justin Bieber, BTS, James Corden, Cindy Crawford, Cara Delevingne, Lady Gaga, Elliott Gould, Kit Harington, Larry Hankin, Mindy Kaling, Thomas Lennon, Christina Pickles, Tom Selleck, James Michael Tyler, Maggie Wheeler, Reese Witherspoon and Malala Yousafzai.

Malala Yousafzai?! Wait, what?

Given that the special is an unscripted reunion, as opposed to a scripted look at where the characters are now, my money is on most of those guest stars giving testimonials about what the show means to them, but that’s just a guess.

We’ll find out for sure in two weeks! Until then, here’s that underwhelming teaser trailer: