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8 Alternative Fantasy Leagues

In honor of tonight's mental_floss fantasy football league draft, here's a story on alternative fantasy leagues that first appeared last summer.

Fantasy football drafts are firing up, and workplace productivity will soon grind to a halt as half the office spends half the day managing their rosters in an attempt to get the next Steve Slaton off the waiver wire. Just because you're not a football fan doesn't mean you have to be left out of the fantasy mania, though. There are all sorts of alternative fantasy leagues you can join. Why not try one of these?

1. Fantasy Music League

If you spend more time listening to the radio than watching sports, the Fantasy Music League might be right up your alley. In this league your job is to compile a roster that has more real-life chart movement and album sales than other owners' "labels." You shell out a certain salary to sign the acts you think have the most promise, and if they out-earn your competitors, you'll earn the fantasy world's equivalent of a Grammy. The label that's at the top of the standings for this season, Jenny Baird Records, boasts a roster that includes Fall Out Boy, Daughtry, Justin Timberlake, and Fergie.

2. Fantasy Water Skiing

neelyski2033.jpg

Water skiing is great fun, but it takes some practice before you can do it well. Why not skip all of those embarrassing spills and noses full of water by just joining a fantasy skiing league instead? Pick your professional skiers, then get points according to how many buoys your slalom skiers pass, how many points your tricksters pile up, and how far your jumpers soar. Never again will you and your buddies just have to argue in vain about which one of you is really the most hardcore water skiing fan! [Pictured: mental_floss magazine Editor-in-Chief Neely Harris doing a little reality water skiing.]

3. Fantasy Pro Wrestling

Like the violence of football but wish you had a fantasy league that stuck to a script? Try fantasy pro wrestling. Web-based E-wrestling federations allow you to draft a stable of grapplers and then receive points for their performance in the ring and appearances on broadcasts. (We're guessing the Undertaker is the fantasy wrestling equivalent of Peyton Manning: maybe not the top guy every year, but you know you're going to get consistently solid production out of him.)

4. Fantasy Bass Fishing

The only thing more exciting than watching someone else fish is beating your friends at predicting who will get the nicest bass in their livewell! ESPN.com offers a Fantasy Fishing Challenge that allows angling fans to create a team of their favorite pro anglers while working under the constraint of a $100 salary cap. Each angler has a set "salary" that he earns, and when you sign one to your team they score you points according to their performances in the Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings.

We don't know much about bass fishing, but we have to admit it would be pretty entertaining to put Michael Iaconelli on your squad and then mimic his trademark roar every time he catches a fish. How could you not want this guy on your team?

5. Fantasy Congress

Just because you prefer C-SPAN to ESPN doesn't mean you can't find a way to waste several hours on a fantasy league each week. Try out Fantasy Congress. Although the game's website is currently down, FantasyCongress.com launched in 2006 to allow politics junkies to draft their favorite legislators and then rack up points according to how their Congressmen's proposed legislation fared, how often they voted, and their willingness to cross party lines to up their "Maverick Score."

6. Fantasy Bowling

You might not be able to pick up a 7-10 split, but that doesn't mean you can't destroy your friends at fantasy bowling. The Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour has its own fantasy league, and it sounds intriguingly easy to play. Your squad scores points based on how your bowlers finish in individual tournaments, so if you've got a guy who piles up strike after strike, you're going to be tough to beat. According to the league's website, the number four overall pick is a guy named Rhino Page. Do you really want to pick against a guy named Rhino?

7. Fantasy Dog Shows

fantasy-dogsIf fantasy leagues come any more adorable than this, we don't want to see them. Showdog.com allows you to enter a virtual simulation dog show league. You pick your breed of dog, then allocate your "funds" to help train and groom it into a champion. Your simulated dog can take on other owners' pooches in a dog-eat-dog competition to help ascertain the best way to breed a champion show dog. All of the glory, none of the fetch!

8. Fantasy Eating

humble-bobDo you watch the Nathan's hot dog eating contest each Fourth of July and find yourself feeling pangs of jealousy because you can't match the competitors' gluttony? Now you can life vicariously through them! Krystal Square Off offers fantasy eating leagues for four to seven teams that allow you score points based on how many mini hamburgers your roster can wolf down. (Hot tip: I sat next to "Humble" Bob Shoudt and his adorable daughter on their flight home from Shoudt's winning performance at the Nashville Krystal Square Off in 2006. Not only did the man look like he could down some burgers—his world record is 28 in two minutes—but he was also maybe the most doting, sweetest father I've ever seen. Pick against this guy at your own risk.)

[Image credit: Flickr user Liz is Working.]

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King Features Syndicate
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Comics
10 Things You Might Not Know About Hägar the Horrible
King Features Syndicate
King Features Syndicate

For 45 years, the anachronistic adventures of a Scandinavian Viking named Hägar have populated the funny papers. Created by cartoonist Dik Browne, Hagar the Horrible is less about raiding and pillaging and more about Hägar’s domestic squabbles with wife Helga. If you’re a fan of this red-bearded savage with a surprisingly gentle demeanor, check out some facts about the strip’s history, Hägar’s status as a soda pitchman, and his stint as a college football mascot.

1. HÄGAR IS NAMED AFTER HIS CREATOR.

Richard Arthur “Dik” Browne got his start drawing courtroom sketches for New York newspapers; he debuted a military strip, Ginny Jeep, for servicemen after entering the Army in 1942. Following an advertising stint where he created the Chiquita Banana logo, he was asked to tackle art duties on the 1954 Beetle Bailey spinoff strip Hi and Lois. When he felt an urge to create his own strip in 1973, Browne thought back to how his children called him “Hägar the Horrible” when he would playfully chase them around the house. “Immediately, I thought Viking,” he told People in 1978. Hägar was soon the fastest-growing strip in history, appearing over 1000 papers.

2. HE COULD HAVE BEEN BULBAR THE BARBARIAN.

A Hägar the Horrible comic strip
King Features Syndicate

Working on Hi and Lois with cartoonist Mort Walker (Beetle Bailey) gave Browne an opportunity to solicit advice on Hägar from his more experienced colleague. As Walker recalled, he thought “Hägar” would be too hard for people to pronounce or spell and suggested Browne go with “Bulbar the Barbarian” instead. Browne brushed off the suggestion, preferring his own alliterative title.

3. A HEART ATTACK COULD HAVE CHANGED HÄGAR’S FATE.

When Browne came up with Hägar, he sent it along to a syndicate editor he knew from his work on Hi and Lois. According to Chris Browne, Dik’s son and the eventual artist for Hägar after his father passed away in 1989, the man originally promised to look at it after he got back from his vacation. He changed his mind at the last minute, reviewing and accepting the strip before leaving. Just days later, while on his ski vacation, the editor had a heart attack and died. If he hadn’t approved the strip prior to his passing, Browne said, Hägar may never have seen print.

4. THE STRIP HELPED BROWNE AVOID VANDALS.

A Hägar the Horrible comic strip
King Features Syndicate

Chris Browne recalled that Halloween in his Connecticut neighborhood was a time for kids to show their appreciation for his father’s work. While trick-or-treaters were busy covering nearby houses in toilet paper or spray paint, they spared the Browne residence. The only evidence of their vandalism was a spray-painted sign that read, “Mr. Browne, We Love Hägar.”

5. BROWNE’S DAUGHTER TALKED HIM OUT OF KIDNAPPING PLOTS.

Vikings were not known for being advocates for human rights. Hägar, despite his relatively genteel persona, still exhibited some barbaric traits, such as running off with “maidens” after a plundering session. Speaking with the Associated Press in 1983, Browne admitted he toned down the more lecherous side of Hägar after getting complaints from his daughter. “Running off with a maiden isn’t funny,” she told him. “It’s a crime.”

6. HÄGAR ENDORSED SODA.

A soda can featuring Hägar the Horrible
Amazon

Despite his preference for alcohol, Hägar apparently had a bit of a sweet tooth as well. In the 1970s, King Features licensed out a line of soda cans featuring some of their most popular comic strip characters, including Popeye, Blondie, and Hägar. The Viking also shilled for Mug Root Beer in the 1990s.

7. HE WAS A COLLEGE MASCOT.

In 1965, Cleveland State University students voted in the name “Vikings” for their collegiate basketball team. After using a mascot dubbed Viktorious Vike, the school adopted Hägar in the 1980s. Both Hägar and wife Helga appeared at several of the school’s sporting events before being replaced by an original character named Vike.

8. HE EVENTUALLY SOBERED UP.

A Hägar the Horrible comic strip
King Features Syndicate

When Dik Browne was working on Hägar, the Viking was prone to bouts of excessive drinking. When Chris Browne took over the strip, he made a deliberate decision to minimize Hägar’s imbibing. "When my father was doing the strip, he did an awful lot of gags about Hägar falling down drunk and coming home in a wheelbarrow, and as times go on that doesn't strike me as that funny anymore,” Brown told the Chicago Tribune in 1993. “Just about everybody I know has had somebody hurt by alcoholism or substance abuse.”

9. HE HAD HIS OWN HANNA-BARBERA CARTOON.

It took some time, but Hägar was finally honored with the animated special treatment in 1989. Cartoon powerhouse Hanna-Barbera created the 30-minute special, Hägar the Horrible: Hägar Knows Best, and cast the Viking as being out of his element after returning home for the first time in years. The voice of Optimus Prime, Peter Cullen, performed the title character. It was later released on DVD as part of a comic strip cartoon collection.

10. HE SAILED INTO THE WIZARD OF ID.

A Wizard of Id comic strip
King Features Syndicate

In 2014, Hägar made an appearance in the late Johnny Hart’s Wizard of Id comic strip, with the two characters looking confused at the idea they’ve run into one another at sea. Hägar also made a cameo in Blondie to celebrate that character’s 75th birthday in 2005.

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entertainment
13 Great Jack Nicholson Quotes
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for AFI
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for AFI

Jack Nicholson turns 81 today. Let's celebrate with some of the actor's wit and wisdom.

1. ON ADVICE

"I hate advice unless I'm giving it. I hate giving advice, because people won't take it."

From Esquire's "What I Learned"

2. ON REGRETS

"Not that I can think of. I’m sure there are some, but my mind doesn’t go there. When you look at life retrospectively you rarely regret anything that you did, but you might regret things that you didn’t do."

From an interview with The Talks

3. ON DEATH

"I'm Irish. I think about death all the time. Back in the days when I thought of myself as a serious academic writer, I used to think that the only real theme was a fear of death, and that all the other themes were just that same fear, translated into fear of closeness, fear of loneliness, fear of dissolving values. Then I heard old John Huston talking about death. Somebody was quizzing him about the subject, you know, and here he is with the open-heart surgery a few years ago, and the emphysema, but he's bounced back fit as a fiddle, and he's talking about theories of death, and the other fella says, 'Well, great, John, that's great ... but how am I supposed to feel about it when you pass on?' And John says, 'Just treat it as your own.' As for me, I like that line I wrote that, we used in The Border, where I said, 'I just want to do something good before I die.' Isn't that what we all want?"

From an interview with Roger Ebert

4. ON NERVES

''There's a period of time just before you start a movie when you start thinking, I don't know what in the world I'm going to do. It's free-floating anxiety. In my case, though, this is over by lunch the first day of shooting.''

From an interview with The New York Times

5. ON ACTING

"Almost anyone can give a good representative performance when you're unknown. It's just easier. The real pro game of acting is after you're known—to 'un-Jack' that character, in my case, and get the audience to reinvest in a new and specific, fictional person."

From an interview with The Age

6. ON MARRIAGE

"I never had a policy about marriage. I got married very young in life and I always think in all relationships, I've always thought that it's counterproductive to have a theory on that. It's hard enough to get to know yourself and as most of you have probably found, once you get to know two people in tandem it's even more difficult. If it's going to be successful, it's going to have to be very specific and real and immediate so the more ideas you have about it before you start, it seems to me the less likely you are to be successful."

From an interview with About.com

7. ON LYING

“You only lie to two people in your life: your girlfriend and the police. Everybody else you tell the truth to.”

From a 1994 interview with Vanity Fair

8. ON HIS SUNGLASSES

"They're prescription. That's why I wear them. A long time ago, the Middle American in me may have thought it was a bit affected maybe. But the light is very strong in southern California. And once you've experienced negative territory in public life, you begin to accept the notion of shields. I am a person who is trained to look other people in the eye. But I can't look into the eyes of everyone who wants to look into mine; I can't emotionally cope with that kind of volume. Sunglasses are part of my armor."

From Esquire's "What I Learned"

9. ON MISCONCEPTIONS

"I think people think I'm more physical than I am, I suppose. I'm not really confrontational. Of course, I have a temper, but that's sort of blown out of proportion."

From an interview with ESPN

10. ON DIRECTING

"I'm a different person when suddenly it's my responsibility. I'm not very inhibited in that way. I would show up [on the set of The Two Jakes] one day, and we'd scouted an orange grove and it had been cut down. You're out in the middle of nowhere and they forget to cast an actor. These are the sort of things I kind of like about directing. Of course, at the time you blow your stack a little bit. ... I'm a Roger Corman baby. Just keep rolling, baby. You've got to get something on there. Maybe it's right. Maybe it's wrong. Maybe you can fix it later. Maybe you can't. You can't imagine the things that come up when you're making a movie where you've got to adjust on the spot."

From an interview with MTV

11. ON ROGER CORMAN

"There's nobody in there, that he didn't, in the most important way support. He was my life blood to whatever I thought I was going to be as a person. And I hope he knows that this is not all hot air. I'm going to cry now."

From the documentary Corman's World

12. ON PLAYING THE JOKER

"This would be the character, whose core—while totally determinate of the part—was the least limiting of any I would ever encounter. This is a more literary way of approaching than I might have had as a kid reading the comics, but you have to get specific. ... He's not wired up the same way. This guy has survived nuclear waste immersion here. Even in my own life, people have said, 'There's nothing sacred to you in the area of humor, Jack. Sometimes, Jack, relax with the humor.' This does not apply to the Joker, in fact, just the opposite. Things even the wildest comics might be afraid to find funny: burning somebody's face into oblivion, destroying a masterpiece in a museum—a subject as an art person even made me a little scared. Not this character. And I love that."

From The Making of Batman

13. ON BASKETBALL

"I've always thought basketball was the best sport, although it wasn't the sport I was best at. It was just the most fun to watch. ... Even as a kid it appealed to me. The basketball players were out at night. They had great overcoats. There was this certain nighttime juvenile-delinquent thing about it that got your blood going."

From Esquire's "What I Learned"

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