The Mandalorian Episode 8 Recap: What’s Up With That Lightsaber?

Mandos Save Din
(Disney+)

In the recap for last week’s episode, I talked about how the show played into video game lore by introducing the force-heal power into the live-action Star Wars universe, which most of us now know was a setup for what goes down in The Rise of Skywalker. This week’s finale, however, is essentially the greatest hits album of video game tropes, while also managing to be one of the most heartfelt, nuanced and entertaining episodes yet. We’ve got mini-guns, flame-thrower sub-bosses, and setting aside prejudices to form new friendships!! Taika Waititi, man. Taika Waititi.  As always, *SPOILER ALERT* from here on out.

The episode opens with the greatest scene in the history of Star Wars? The two scout troopers who offed Uncle Ugnaught race back to the city with Baby Yoda in tow, stopping to await orders. Played by Jason Sudeikis and Adam Pally, the two chat idly, the subordinate trying to convince his superior to let him see the baby. It’s a funny scene that mocks what terrible shots Stormtroopers are. Ever since Obi-Wan snuck past some troopers talking about “the new VT-16” in A New Hope, the Empire’s faceless soldiers have always had a bit of a working-man vibe when you catch them having a chat. This scene lays into that hard enough to make you almost like these two dickheads, right up until they start punching Baby Yoda.

Enter my boy, IG-Taika Waititi, the reprogramed killer nanny bot. He drops in to murder the Tag and Bink wannabes and get his kid back. I’m sincerely worried dads are going to start asking their neighbor’s 12-year-old to demonstrate that wrist-breaking maneuver before trusting them to babysit for 20 bucks.

IG and Baby Yoda
(TheNerdStash.com)

Anyway, back in town, things aren’t awesome for Mando and his crew. Moff Gus From Breaking Bad still has the space team cornered in the local bar…which, hey, things could be worse, right? The big bad drops some key points of information to intimidate our friends. He knows Cara Dune is from Alderaan, which is why she hates the Empire so much. He knows The Mandalorian’s real name! And he calls out Carl Wethers for…being kinda old, I guess? Dramatic stuff. Mando and Cara Dune explain to Carl Wethers than being a Mandalorian isn’t a race, because yes, race is a social construct, Ok boomer? Yes, even in a galaxy with fish-people.

We get the full flashback of Din Dijin’s family being killed during the Clone Wars, and Mando explains how Moff Gus was the Imperial behind the big Mandalorian purge we keep hearing about. He was supposed to have been executed for war crimes but it looks like the New Republic is already getting sloppy with paperwork.

Anyway, Moff Gus gives them until nightfall to surrender for no real reason other than it’s a television show. We don’t have to wait that long, though because IG-Taika Waiti saves the day, blasting in on his speeder to start a big ole’ gunfight. Before the fight, Moss Gus made a big deal about how cool his big gun was, so of course, Mando goes right for it and turns it on the Imps. The team hit the standard approx 75-to-1 ratio of kills during a fight with the Empire but is forced to retreat back to the bar when Mando gets hit with one of Moff Gus’ frags. I’ve been playing a lot of Fallen Order lately, and you just gotta watch out for those bonus attacks.

In the bar, a flame-trooper goes in to burn everyone alive (I mean…Jesus) while the team argues about how to get out of there. Mando wants everyone to leave him to die covering their escape, but Cara Dune’s not having any of that because Cara Dune is the best of all of us. Baby Yoda proves to be a Baby Yoda Of Action and saves the day by blasting the flame trooper’s fireball back in his face using the Force. Then, like me, after doing anything remotely taxing, he takes a little nap.

IG-Taika Waitit promises to take care of Mando while everyone else jumps into the garbage shoot sewer grate. This, in my opinion, is the strongest moment of the series so far. All of the connections they have built over the season – Mando’s droid racism, IG-Taika Waititi’s obvious Mandalorian stand-in metaphors, the very question of who Din Dejarin is under that helmet – all come to this perfect, understated moment. Only the droid can save the Mandalorian. And since the droid “is not alive,” removing the Beskar helmet isn’t technically breaking with the code. We see Pedro Pascal’s face for the first time, and he’s just a person under all that armor after all. Fragile and vulnerable.

Mando's Face
(WhereverIlook.com)

The team is reunited in the sewers, where they learn that the entire Mandalorian clan from the beginning of the season has been wiped out by the Empire for helping Mando escape in episode three. Only the Armorer survives, cleaning up the devastation Mando has left in his wake. She finally meets Baby Yoda and declares the child to be a foundling, just like Din was. Until ManDADlorian can train the kid in the creed, or return him to his own kind, they are officially father and son in the eyes of Mandalore. Mando finally receives his signet – the mudhorn monster from episode two that the Armorer tried to give him before. Only this time it is given with the understanding that Mando and Baby Yoda are a clan unto themselves. (Cara Dune and the rest of the gang don’t say anything about that, but like…burn.) He also gets a jetpack, which is less meaningful, but what’s a good cut scene without an equipment upgrade?

The gang leaves the Armorer to her cleanup on aisle 11, and soon Stormtroopers descend on her in what looks like a heroic, ceremonial end for the character. But she ends up beating the shit out of a whole squad of stormtroopers instead, which was just great.

Mando and co make their way out of town playing a big game of The Floor Is (Literally) Lava. With stormtroopers at the exit, however, it’s up to IG-Taika Waititi to save everyone by making the ultimate sacrifice. In episode one, Mando had to stop the assassin droid from blowing himself up for selfish reasons. Now, in the finale Din Dejarin again pleads with the same droid, but this time it’s because -even with no other choice- The Mandalorian wants his friend to live. Cyclical storytelling that highlights character growth: George Lucas 101. As the man himself once said, “It rhymes.”

Still, IG-Taika Waititi does what needs to be done and clears the path by blowing up his central processor and taking all the stormtroopers with him. Flights of Angels, buddy.

The finale of the episode sees the Mandalorian finally get to use a jetpack in a fun air fight with Moff Gus’ TIE Fighter. It’s a very Indiana Jones moment: Mando is badass, but he still drops his little bombs at first, you know, because getting yanked around by a starfighter in low atmosphere is probably kinda hard. Anyway, the ship goes down and Mandalorian gets a 7 for the landing, with a little flourish of his theme music that I’ll miss very much. It’s time to say goodbye to the space team and The Mandalorian flys off with Baby Yoda the same way we saw baby Din flown off to safety in the flashback earlier.

(Collider)

The big surprise cliffhanger tag of the episode is not that Boba Fett shows up, but that Moff Gus cuts his way out of his downed TIE Fighter using the Darksaber. Clone Wars and Rebels fans will recognize this particular “not just any lightsaber” as the legendary weapon used by the first (possibly only?) Mandalorian inducted into the Jedi Order centuries ago. (Mini-Spoiler Alert ahead, if you want to go back and watch those shows totally cold).

The sword has played a big part in Mandalorian culture over the years, passing hands among fan-favorite characters Darth Maul and Sabine Wren. There’s a lot to infer here since we know Moff Gus had some part to play in the Great Purge. His having the ceremonial weapon is probably not going to sit well with The Mandalorian in the future. Are we setting up a story where Mando will reclaim the sword and unite all Mandalorians? Will this all align with his growing beyond and expanding the dogmatic creed as he corrects the sins of the past? IS IT MAYBE GONNA BE LIKE A STAR WARS THING, YOU THINK?

Very frustratingly, we’ll have to wait until Fall 2020 to learn more.

Blaster Fire:

  • The Mandalorians who rescued baby Din Dijarin and brought him into the Creed are members of DEATH WATCH (Dun-dun-dunnnnnnnnn). In Clone Wars the Death Watch clan were all about bringing honor back to Mandalore, and generally speaking, they were sorta portrayed as bad guy terrorists who weren’t very chill with the Jedi. Still, the Jedi were stupid pricks about the Clone Wars in general, so it’s cool to see a more heroic side of the controversial clan of Mandos. It’s always about a certain point of view, after all.
  • There’s a fun bit of narrative trickery when Mando has his flashback. We know that Moff Gus was part of the Mandalorian Purge, but we hear that story while also seeing the Mandalorians rescue Din from certain death during the clone wars. These two events are years apart, but the narrative sleight of hand emphasizes Moff Gus as a nemesis to Mando. It’s not that he was there during the raid on the village, but by learning about these two disconnected stories at the same time, we’re conditioned to see the Moff as an overarching villain in Mando’s story.
  • I could go on all day about the unmasking scene. IG-Taika Waititi claims that because he’s “not alive,” it’s not breaking the Mandolorian creed to see Den’s face. But in seeing his droid buddy face-to-face for the first time, Den lets some of his hatred of droids go. That’s the moment Mando sees the droid as a person, even if not a technically living one. It’s bending the rules, to say the least, but in a way that suggests the growth, our main character is experiencing through this story.
  • Absolutely love how the Armorer and Mando talk about the Jedi as this vague, mysterious band of sorcerers, and how they are “the enemy.” Playing into the Jedi/Mandalorian conflict is great fodder for the story as the Mandalorian dad raises his Jedi baby. Also, I know people who love to obsess over details will be like “how do people not remember the Jedi from like 30 years ago,” but the fact is Star Wars is cooler when the mystical stuff is kept in the shadows. The Jedi are just more interesting when they are unknown and mysterious, rather than a weird law enforcement agency.
  • IG-Taika Waiti is the best version of the Spock character in like thirty years. Not to franchise-hop, but Taika nails delivering an inhuman performance who is subtly full of compassion and humanity. Everything the droid does, including explaining his own “jokes,” is cold and calculated, but it’s obvious that despite his saying otherwise, he was very much alive.

 

The Rock Stops to Duet Maui’s Song With Father of Moana Fans

The Rock duets song from Moana with father of two young fans
(Facebook/Dwayne The Rock Johnson)

It’s no secret that wrestler, actor, and absolute tank of a human Dwayne Johnson loves every second of being a girl dad. The father of three revels in spending time with his daughters, sharing touching posts on social media, and frequently discussing the joys of fatherhood. It’s impossible to fully understand what it means to be a parent until you become one, and as a nod to the bond of parenthood, The Rock regularly takes the time to help out his fellow fathers.

As if his plate wasn’t full enough, The Rock made yet another one of his dreams come true in 2020 when he founded Teremana Tequila. The brand focuses on sustainability and responsible sourcing, and since The Rock puts 100% into everything he does, the Tequila was an immediate and astounding success.

While promoting his new brand in early 2020, The Rock met a dad who really struck a chord. In the video Johnson shared on Facebook, he’s approached by a man with a small but mighty message from his 4-year-old daughter.

“She wanted me to tell you that she is 4, her name is Hannah, she has a little brother named Lucas, and they love your song.”

“Hannah and Lucas – wow. Where’s your phone?” Johnson asks, his Dad signal activated.

The father of two explains that every night he sings “You’re Welcome,” Maui’s song from Moana, to his kids. Some people can’t stop ordering things they don’t need online, others may gamble too much, but Dwayne Johnson simply cannot resist taking time out of his busy days to make his fans smile – especially when those fans happen to be kids.

After a brief introduction to his new friend’s kids, The Rock begins to sing Maui’s song before pulling the overjoyed dad in to sing with him.

“There’s always ‘an understanding’ between fathers who will do anything to make their daughters happy,” The Rock wrote on Facebook.

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