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Lost in the Sauce: Feb. 23 - 29

Welcome to Lost in the Sauce, keeping you caught up on political and legal news that often gets buried in distractions and theater. (the previous edition can be found here if you are super behind).
  1. How to read: the headings will guide you through this piece. The Main Course covers the “big” stories and The Sides covers the “smaller” stories. IF YOU FOLLOW THE NEWS CLOSELY: you likely know about the stories in the Main Course section, so you will be best served by scrolling down to The Sides portion.
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Let’s dig in!


Trump’s incompetence, authoritarian patterns continue with coronavirus response

In a standalone piece published yesterday, I go over Trump’s response to the coronavirus, how he made the spread inevitable, and the impact of Trump’s authoritarian impulses.

Nadler launches Barr investigation

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler sent Attorney General Bill Barr a letter last week requesting a slew of interviews and documents in preparation for Barr’s scheduled testimony at the end of March.
Most notably, Nadler requested interviews with the four career prosecutors who withdrew from Roger Stone’s case after Barr intervened to recommend a lower sentence (which Stone received): Aaron Zelinsky, Adam Jed, Michael Marando, and Jonathan Kravis. John Durham, who is leading Barr’s investigation of the origins of the Russia probe, is also on the list, as is Jessie Liu, who supervised not only Stone’s case, but also the attempted prosecution of Andrew McCabe.
“Although you serve at the president’s pleasure, you are also charged with the impartial administration of our laws. In turn, the House Judiciary Committee is charged with holding you to that responsibility.”
While it is likely that Barr won’t comply with many of these requests, Nadler may issue subpoenas directly to individuals of interest. As Democrats learned during the impeachment hearing, career officials are more likely to be forthright and honest about the Trump administration’s crimes and misdeeds.

Court rulings

McGahn’s testimony

A divided three-judge panel of the D.C. Appeals Court dismissed the House Judiciary Committee’s lawsuit against former White House Counsel Don McGahn, ruling that federal courts have no role to play in disputes between the Executive and Legislative branches. The two judges who ruled in favor of the Trump administration - Thomas Griffith and Karen Henderson - were appointed by George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush, respectively. The pair write that Congress should use other tools to try to compel McGahn’s testimony:
“Congress (or one of its chambers) may hold officers in contempt, withhold appropriations, refuse to confirm the President’s nominees, harness public opinion, delay or derail the President’s legislative agenda, or impeach recalcitrant officers.”
It should be mentioned that the majority does not mention the fact that during the impeachment trial Trump’s lawyers argued that Congress should pursue its subpoenas to executive branch witnesses in court.
Judge Judith Rogers, a Bill Clinton appointee, wrote a lengthy dissent that is worth reading in full (starting on the 58th page of this document)
“The court removes any incentive for the Executive Branch to engage in the negotiation process seeking accommodation, all but assures future Presidential stonewalling of Congress, and further impairs the House’s ability to perform its constitutional duties… Future presidents may direct wide-scale noncompliance with lawful congressional inquiries, secure in the knowledge that Congress can do little to enforce a subpoena dramatically undermining its ability to fulfill its constitutional obligations now and going forward.”

Unfair competition suit

Trump also racked up a win in an “Emoluments-adjacent” lawsuit last week: a three-judge panel of the D.C. Appeals Court united to dismiss a wine bar’s claim that President Trump's D.C. hotel is unfairly undermining the business of other venues in the city. Judge Thomas Griffith, a George W. Bush appointee, and Reagan appointee Judge Stephen Williams joined Judge Merrick Garland in the ruling.
Though it is undisputed that the wine bar has experienced a downturn since Trump took office — his gilded hotel now attracting lobbyists, advocacy groups and diplomats who used to frequent the local business — the appeals court said no evidence suggests that the president or his hotel interfered in Cork’s business.
The lawsuit “boiled down to an assertion that businesses with famous proprietors cannot compete fairly — a proposition alien to unfair-competition law,” Griffith wrote summarizing the 2017 dismissal of the case by U.S. District Judge Richard Leon.

Purge confirmed

As I explained in last Sunday’s post, Trump is seeking to purge any disloyal officials from his administration. Newly-returned staffer John McEntee is leading the search for “Never Trumpers” with the assistance of a network of conservative activists including Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. On Monday, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley confirmed that the White House is identifying employees seen as disloyal to force out of their positions.
“It’s not a secret that we want people in positions that work with this president, not against him, and too often we have people in this government—I mean the federal government is massive, with millions of people—and there are a lot people out there taking action against this president and when we find them we will take appropriate action,” Gidley said.
“Time and time again we see in the media reports from people in the bowels of the federal government working against this president...The president's been pretty clear about the fact he wants people in this administration who want to forward his agenda. Donald Trump was the only one elected. He was the only one that the American people voted for. They didn't vote for someone at any of these other agencies, any of these other departments.” he said.

Unqualified loyalists

One of those purged from the administration, DNI Joseph Maguire, was fired for allowing his top aide to brief Congress on Russia’s intervention in the 2020 election to Trump’s benefit. Last week, Trump said he will nominate Republican Rep. John Ratcliffe to fill the position - again. Trump previously announced his intent to nominate Ratcliffe in July, but withdrew the nomination five days later after members of both parties questioned his qualifications.
The current acting-DNI, Ric Grenell, can only serve until March 11 unless a permanent replacement is formally submitted to the Senate for confirmation. The Federal Vacancies Reform Act allows Grenell to remain in position throughout the confirmation process and - should Ratcliffe fail - another 210 days after. If a second person is nominated, the clock “resets” again.

The effect of Trump’s grip on intel

The NSA, CIA, and Pentagon have been urged by the White House not to share information about Russia and Ukraine with lawmakers, while the “Gang of Eight” senior members of Congress were bypassed leading up to at least one major intelligence operation. And intelligence community leaders have backed out of the public portion of the annual worldwide threats hearing, fearing Trump’s wrath if their assessments don’t align with his.
“We have an enemy of the United States that is conducting information warfare against us and our executive leadership doesn’t want to hear it, doesn’t want the Congress to hear it, and doesn’t want the people to hear it,” said former acting DNI David Gompert, who said he was “aghast” at the hiring of Grenell. “We now have a situation where the principal objective, evidently, of this acting DNI is to ensure that information about Russian interference and Russian preference for this particular president does not get out.” (Politico)
Ukrainian officials have noticed Trump’s purge and worry that efforts to force out individuals “would in the short term leave a hollowed out U.S. office in Kyiv and space for Russia to ratchet up its aggressive political influence operations.”
“Russia is getting more ambitious. They are already taking an aggressive position. Putin knows what he wants and he does not need to seek approval for his actions inside Russia let alone outside of Russia,” Danylyuk said. “There are not enough people in the administration—in the U.S. administration—to focus on Ukraine and Russia issues. A lot of people left. It will not be easy to find several counterparts.


March is SCOTUS month

This month, several highly-charged issues will be heard by the Supreme Court, setting up potentially-massive changes to the legal framework of our country.
This week, Trump’s conservative appointees get their first chance to consider new curbs on abortion rights as the court examines the legality of a Louisiana law that could force two of the state’s three clinics that perform the procedure to shut down.
The case, June Medical Services v. Russo, pertains to a law passed in 2014 that requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges to local hospitals. This requirement has proven to be unnecessary for clinics (an abortion rarely results in complications, and if one did, the patient would be admitted to a hospital regardless of the doctor’s privileges). And it’s so difficult to implement that when Texas passed a similar law, it shut down half the state’s clinics. (Buzzfeed News)
While it is overwhelmingly likely that five justices will vote to uphold Louisiana’s law, there is some uncertainty about how they will do so. It is possible that the Court will overrule Roe v. Wade outright. But it is at least as likely that the Court will leave Roe nominally in place while simultaneously watering down the abortion right to such a degree that it loses meaning in red states. The Court often prefers to create the impression that it will not allow the law to swing wildly according to the justices’ whims. (Vox)
Also this week, the court will hear arguments on whether Congress exceeded constitutional boundaries in 2010 when it created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Trump administration believes the independent structure of the CFPB is unconstitutional and wants the president to have more control over the agency. For instance, Trump wants to be able to fire the director at will.
A court ruling on the President's removal power could affect a multitude of independent agencies including the Federal Trade Commission, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Federal Reserve Board. For more than a century, Congress has been creating such agencies within the executive branch with directors who can only be removed only "for cause." (CNN)
Finally, on March 31, the high court will hear arguments in three cases involving House Democrats’ and New York state prosecutors’ attempts to obtain years of Trump’s financial records and tax returns.
Last week, Trump called for Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg to recuse themselves from these three cases. Ginsberg criticized Trump’s character during his 2016 campaign, though she later apologized. Trump did not explain his reasoning for calling for Sotomayor’s recusal, other than her authoring of a dissent critical of the conservative justices on the court.
“Perhaps most troublingly, the Court’s recent behavior on stay applications has benefited one litigant over all others. This Court often permits executions — where the risk of irreparable harm is the loss of life — to proceed, justifying many of those decisions on purported failures ‘to raise any potentially meritorious claims in a timely manner,’” she wrote. “Yet the Court’s concerns over quick decisions wither when prodded by the Government in far less compelling circumstances.”
What she really is saying is that the same justices who have no problem allowing condemned prisoners to be killed before legitimate questions about their cases can be resolved have no compunction in rushing to prematurely protect the Trump administration, and the president’s personal interests, from legitimate legal processes. In other words, Sotomayor is calling her conservative colleagues hypocrites who are willing to bend precedent in the pursuit of ideological goals. (Brennan Center)

Ukraine emails

The latest batch of emails released by the Department of Defense in response to a FOIA suit reveals evidence that the administration withheld from Congress during the impeachment inquiry and trial. Senior members of the Trump administration, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, and then–National Security Adviser John Bolton had all advised President Trump to release the military aid to Ukraine, but the final decision was ultimately up to Trump.
The August 26, 2019, email from a senior career Pentagon official states that there was “no ongoing interagency review process with respect to USAI [Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative],” and states clearly: “Final decision rests with POTUS.”
“Critically, the email appears to contradict the White House budget office’s stated rationale for withholding the aid,” American Oversight states. Administration officials had been instructed to tell Congress that the freeze of aid to Ukraine was necessary to allow for an “interagency process to determine the best use of such funds.” The August 26 email clearly states that no such process was in action.
“Tonight’s document release is a reminder that before they lined up parrot the president’s line on Ukraine aid, senior members of the president’s national security team unanimously disagreed with his decision to withhold aid from Ukraine,” said Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight.
An earlier email release revealed that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo fully coordinated with Rudy Giuliani on Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine and the ouster of U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.
“We now know Mike Pompeo and his aides encouraged Rudy Giuliani to deliver his bogus 'dossier' smearing Ambassador Yovanovitch during a week in 2019 when Giuliani's henchmen were stalking the ambassador in Kyiv,” American Oversight executive director Austin Evers told Yahoo News.

The House continues Ukraine probe

The Foreign Affairs Committee is reportedly at odds with pro-Trump candidate Robert Hyde, who claimed to have former Ambassador Yovanovitch under surveillance. Chairman Eliot Engel, who is investigating the alleged surveillance and threats to the Ambassador, said in an email to Hyde last month that he was “dismayed to read yesterday that you have made statements to the media which greatly exaggerate the extent of your cooperation with this investigation."
"As you know, we have expressed repeated concern that the records you previously produced contain significant gaps," the House staffers wrote. They added that it was obvious Hyde hadn't turned everything over because his batch of materials was missing records that Congress already knows about because they were turned over by Parnas, who was on the other end of the texts.
Last week, six members of Congress led by Reps. Denny Heck (WA-10) and Jim Himes (CT-04) sent a letter to World Bank Group President David Malpass requesting information about his August meeting with Zelensky in Ukraine. The lawmakers voiced concerns that the meeting could be seen as a part of Trump’s pressure campaign that resulted in his impeachment.
The lawmakers asked Malpass to disclose when he decided to visit Kyiv, whether he coordinated his trip with non-World Bank officials, the “deliverables” of the meeting, the meeting’s impact on the World Bank’s plans in Ukraine and whether they discussed Hunter Biden, Burisma or Viktor Shokin, the former Ukrainian prosecutor general who was ousted under international pressure from leaders including former Vice President Biden. (The Hill)

Russia, Russia, Russia

Last week:
  • Trump accused House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff of leaking information about Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2020 election, dismissed the intelligence as “exaggerated,” and refused to acknowledge that Moscow was behind similar efforts in 2016. “Schiff leaked it, in my opinion — and he shouldn’t be leaking things like that,” Mr. Trump said without evidence.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi informed the public that the Trump administration “failed to provide Congress with a report on the ongoing attacks on America’s elections from foreign governments, which was required by the bipartisan FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act.”
  • It was reported that Senate Intelligence Committee Richard Burr warned Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley that their probe targeting Biden could aid Russian efforts to sow chaos and distrust in the U.S. political system.
  • The Washington Post reported that “U.S. officials are sitting on test results that may show how the Putin regime twice tried to kill a peaceful opponent whose close ties to the United States, and columns for The Post, are reminiscent of Jamal Khashoggi, the murdered Saudi journalist.”
  • A Russian court ordered former United States Marine Trevor Reed be detained for another six months on accusations he assaulted police officers in Moscow last year, a charge that his defense team has called “fraudulent.” Meanwhile, former Marine Paul Whelan has been in a Russian jail since 2018 on espionage accusations. Their treatment is a stark contrast from that received by celebrity rapper A$AP Rocky - when detained in Sweden, Trump dispatched his hostage envoy (and current National Security Adviser) to oversee the matter and secure Rocky’s release. No such effort has been made for the two former service members in Moscow.
  • Hopping the pond to look at Russia’s interference in the U.K.: The wife of former Russian Finance Minister and Putin-ally Vladimir Chernukhin made a £90,000 donation for a game of tennis with Prime Minister Boris Johnson. “The donation comes as Johnson continues to delay publication of a parliamentary report detailing extensive links between his party and donors with links to Russia.”

Alleged Saudi and UAE funding for Trump

Lebanese-American businessman Ahmad "Andy" Khawaja told Spectator Magazine that officials from Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia illegally funneled millions of dollars into Trump’s 2016 campaign. As the CEO of an online payment processing company, Khawaja claims that George Nader obtained his assistance to disguise the money using stolen identities and gift cards as under-$200 campaign contributions that are not required to be reported to the Federal Election Commission.
He remembers Nader explaining why they wanted to fund the Trump campaign. According to Khawaja, Nader said: ‘I’ve been meeting with the Trump campaign people…we have a deal with Trump: my boss, His Highness, made a deal that if we help Trump get elected, he’s going to be harsh on Iran, he’s going to take out the nuclear deal that the Obama administration made. That will cripple the Iranian economy and will sanction Iran from selling oil again. It will make it very difficult for them to compete in the oil market. That’s worth a hundred billion dollars to us. That’s the reason we cannot allow Hillary to win at any cost. She must lose.’
Khawaja says he asked: ‘But you really think he’s going to win? I mean, this is crazy.’ And he says that Nader replied: ‘His Highness is not stupid, he will never bet on a losing horse.’ The money would come from the Saudis. The Emiratis would run the operation, using data bought from the Chinese. Khawaja says that Nader told him: ‘We have all the data already, we have 10 million US consumers’ data. And we have endless money.’ The Russians were ‘on board’ too: ‘He said, “Yes, I have met with Putin already and we have a green light from him. Because Putin is on the same page with us. He wants Hillary to lose.”’
Khawaja and Nader were charged with making false statements, obstruction, and allegedly making illegal contributions to Clinton’s campaign on behalf of an unidentified foreign official. While Nader is currently in jail, Khawaja is a fugitive in the Middle East.

Cuccinelli appointment illegal

A D.C.-based federal judge ruled Sunday that President Donald Trump's appointment of Ken Cuccinelli as acting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services director violated the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, a decision that suspends two policies Cuccinelli implemented while leading the agency. (Politico)
Three weeks after assuming his new role, Cuccinelli issued a memorandum announcing a revised policy for scheduling credible-fear interviews, the first step in the asylum process, according to the court ruling. Under the revised policy, the agency reduced the time allotted for asylum seekers to consult with others prior to their interviews.
Under Cuccinelli, USCIS also prohibited granting asylum seekers extensions of time to prepare for their credible-fear interviews, "except in the most extraordinary of circumstances." The asylum directives must be set aside, Moss ruled. (CNN)

Eric Trump’s taxpayer-funded business trip

Eric Trump visited a Trump property in development in Uruguay from January 8 to 9, 2019, a two-day business trip that cost taxpayers at least $80,786. CREW obtained records through the Freedom of Information Act today that add to the massive bill of Secret Service protection related to the Trump family’s management of the president’s business empire. The 2019 trip brings Eric Trump’s total up to at least $178,616 in taxpayer funds to work on development of the Trump Organization’s Punta Del Este property alone.

Scottish leader calls for Trump investigation

Parliamentarian Patrick Harvie, a co-leader of the Scottish Greens party, implored the government to pursue a legal order forcing Trump and the Trump Organization to reveal the funding of its multi-million dollar Scottish land acquisitions, saying there were “reasonable grounds” to suspect the U.S. president has been involved in illegal activity.
Mr Harvie said that the House of Representatives had heard testimony which stated: "We saw patterns of buying and selling that we thought were suggestive of money laundering" - with particular concern expressed about Mr Trump's golf courses in Scotland and Ireland.
He added: "Trump's known sources of income don't explain where the money came from for these huge cash transactions. There are reasonable grounds for suspecting that his lawfully obtained income was insufficient.”
"Scottish ministers can apply via the Court of Session for an unexplained wealth order, a tool designed for precisely these kinds of situations." The orders can be issued by the courts to compel their target to reveal the source of funding, and are often used to tackle suspected international money laundering.

Roger Stone

District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson denied Stone’s request that she disqualify herself from his case for supposed “bias,” issuing a sharply-worded rebuke of the defense’s allegations: "At bottom, given the absence of any factual or legal support for the motion for disqualification, the pleading appears to be nothing more than an attempt to use the Court’s docket to disseminate a statement for public consumption that has the words 'judge' and 'biased' in it," Jackson wrote. “Judges cannot be ‘biased’ and need not be disqualified if the views they express are based on what they learned while doing the job they were appointed to do.”
Footage of Roger Stone’s interviews with prosecutors last month has been released… and the only word that can sum it up is “wow.” The entire archive can be found here, but if you are short on time Politico’s Andrew Kimmel made a supercut of the must-see moments that illustrate Stone’s true character: a narcissist who can barely control his anger at being questioned.

Stefanik broke fundraising rules

A constituent of Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik (NY-21) filed an official complaint against her with the Office of Congressional Ethics for using footage of House floor activities to raise funds for her campaign - an express violation of House rules. Stefanik has used clips of her questioning during the impeachment inquiry in fundraising emails, including one with the subject line, that read, “WATCH: I EXPOSED ADAM SCHIFF.”
In a letter sent on June 7, 2018, the House Ethics Committee reminded legislators that “rules specifically prohibit the use of footage of House Floor activities and committee proceedings for any partisan political purpose.”
“I think Rep. Stefanik’s use of video of the House hearing to solicit political contributions is a serious violation of that rule,” says Larry Noble, the former general counsel of the Federal Election Commission. “The rule is clear, and so is the guidance given by the House Ethics Committee.”
Donald K. Sherman, general counsel of the ethics watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington — a group that routinely opposes the Trump administration — agrees with that assessment. “House Ethics Committee guidance clearly prohibits Members from using video of committee proceedings for campaign purposes,” said Sherman, who was previously a high-ranking Senate attorney, “which Rep. Stefanik appears to have done nine times in the last six months.

Nunes’ lawsuits

Campaign Legal Center, a nonprofit government accountability watchdog, filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics asking for an investigation into how Rep. Devin Nunes is paying for his six separate lawsuits against media companies and critics.
The complaint says Nunes appears to be in “blatant violation of House rules,” because he would have trouble paying for all these lawsuits solely from his congressional salary of $174,000 per year. The group argues he’d only be able to pay if he received legal services for free, at a discounted rate, or based on a contingency fee, meaning the lawyer would get compensated from Nunes’ winnings if he prevails in his lawsuits.
In all of those cases, the complaint says, Nunes must disclose the legal help he is receiving by filing a legal expense fund, otherwise it would represent an illegal gift given to Nunes under congressional ethics rules. Nunes has not filed a legal expense fund with the Office of Congressional Ethics.

Immigration news

  • Washington Post: A federal appeals court in California halted the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” asylum policy on Friday, removing one of the key tools the president has used to curb mass migration across the southern U.S. border. The ruling was in effect for only a few hours, however, as the judges later granted a Trump administration request for an emergency stay “pending further order of this court.” Justice Department lawyers said in court filings that 25,000 migrants have been ­waiting in Mexico and argued that they feared the ruling would lead to an influx on the southern ­border.
  • New York Times: The Justice Department said Wednesday that it had created an official section in its immigration office to strip citizenship rights from naturalized immigrants, a move that gives more heft to the Trump administration’s broad efforts to remove from the country immigrants who have committed crimes… Some Justice Department immigration lawyers have expressed worries that denaturalizations could be broadly used to strip citizenship.
    • The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights: "We reject any denaturalization task force that destroys citizenship as we know it and keeps every naturalized immigrant living in fear. Trump is weaponizing the DOJ to make naturalized immigrants look like second-class citizens."
  • Jurist: The US Supreme Court issued a 5-4 decision in Hernandez v. Mesa on Tuesday, holding that the parents of a Mexican child who was shot and killed by a border official have no right to seek a remedy in American civil court. The child, Jesus Hernandez, had been playing with friends in a dry culvert that straddles the US-Mexico border between El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez. Border Patrol agent Jesus Mesa fired at Hernandez from the US side of the culvert, and the bullet struck the boy on the Mexican side, where he died.
  • CNN: Secretary of Defense Mark Esper faced a bipartisan grilling from lawmakers Wednesday on Capitol Hill for his decision to divert military funding to pay for the US border wall as he testifies before the House Armed Services Committee… The top Republican on the committee, Rep. Mac Thornberry, also slammed the move saying it is "substituting the judgment of the administration for the judgment of Congress," adding "I am deeply concerned about where we're headed with the constitutional issue."
  • ACLU: The American Civil Liberties Union today filed a new lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s transfer of an additional $3.8 billion in military funds for border wall construction. Congress did not authorize the funds. “The president is doubling down on his unlawful scheme to raid taxpayer funds for a xenophobic campaign promise that is destroying national treasures, harming the environment, and desecrating tribal lands.”
  • Associated Press: President Donald Trump may not divert $89 million intended for a military construction project in Washington state to build his border wall… “Congress repeatedly and deliberately declined to appropriate the full funds the President requested for a border wall along the southern border of the United States,” [Judge] Rothstein wrote.
  • Today, Monday March 2, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case involving the Trump administration’s “expedited removal” of asylum seekers without allowing them a chance to take their application before a federal judge. For a detailed discussion of the case, see the ACLU and Lawfare.
  • Mother Jones: Melania Trump Got an “Einstein Visa.” Why Was It So Hard for This Nobel Prize Winner? Immigration attorneys say the Trump administration is rejecting highly qualified applicants for “genius” green cards.
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[Trip Report] Tokyo, Koyasan, Kyushu, and Yakushima.

Here is my long as heck trip report! It’s not your standard itinerary so I hope some find it helpful!
First, my general advice on some of the basics -
  1. Allow an hour between landing and leaving! Between immigration, picking up tickets, and grabbing anything else like a SIM card, Suica, etc… the minutes add up. Time from wheels down and departing on the Skyliner was 1 hour for us - and we were moving quickly/didn’t get caught in a big line anywhere. Also do not try to do much on your first day!! We could barely do a walk around our neighborhood for longer than 30 minutes before feeling like we needed to get in bed.
  2. Pocket wi-fi is fine and all, but I had a really great experience with Sim2Fly from AIS (can buy on US Amazon.) I stuck it in the SIM slot while we landed and it worked within 1 minute, connecting to Softbank’s 4G network. It even worked when our “wide coverage” GAC Pocket Wifi couldn’t find any signal in Koyasan, Kyushu, or Yakushima. (So with that said, I recommend a Pocket Wifi that does not run on AU/YMobile.) IIJMio’s SIM also worked super well on docomo. We got one from b-mobile through Amazon that didn’t work at all, though others have had great experiences with them by ordering directly.
  3. When traveling with luggage, favor routes that don’t have as many transfers and leave more time than you think you need. Luggage gets heavy. Stations get crowded. The transfers hyperdia and google suggests are “doable,” but give yourself a margin of error just in case you make mistakes or get caught in a crowd. On our trip, my SO accidentally swiped his Pasmo at Namba Nankai on the way to Koya. He didn’t even realize it until we tried to swipe in at Namba subway to catch our shinkansen at Shin-Osaka. Thankfully I’d allowed a 25 minute buffer and remembered the route back, so I ran back and got it corrected and we still had time. There are routes that may save you 15-30 minutes with more transfers, but I’d rather be relaxed than feel like I need to rush through.
  4. Have a breakfast plan! Yoshinoya and other 24 hour spots, or convenience stores if that’s your thing (but it can get old in my opinion) are a good bet if you don’t want Starbucks, Tully’s, or your hotel breakfast. We got stuck a couple times at 9-10am searching for food before just settling on those.
  5. Google Maps is really good but not 100% accurate all the time. If you blindly rely on it you may end up confused sometimes. Look at the train times in the station, follow signs, and be careful with the exits (especially in Shibuya station - it told me to take wrong, inconvenient exits a few times, potentially due to construction.) The routes it suggests are definitely doable if you’re used to subway systems, but if you’re not then allow more time!
  6. Google translate is life! The camera made menus/food ticket machines somewhat decipherable and on occasion we used the recording feature to talk to various people (like when I returned the SIM to Amazon from a post office in Fukuoka- it was a fun experience!)
  7. I absolutely loved mobile Suica. I will sing its praises to anyone who will listen. It made my life infinitely easier. Highly recommend it for newer iPhone users. Topping up anytime with my CC took less than 10 seconds and it shows a history of your transactions/routes.
Daily stories in the context of our itinerary -
Day one:
Landed at Narita 1:35 PM. Picked up Keisei Skyliner tickets and Pasmo for my SO, got to Koenji, did some walking around and had Coco Ichiban for dinner. I’m a spice fiend so I got their spice level 10 and it was certainly as spicy as I wanted it to be! I discovered the Pokemon card collection at Hard Off and went wild - I didn’t realize there’d be so many places to buy cute card singles. I’m not a huge collector, but I keep a binder of my favorites that I’ve been collecting for the past…20 years (jesus)...and it seemed like a great, cheap way to get a whole lot of souvenirs that I knew I’d appreciate!
Day two:
Wandered around Koenji very early with some coffee while things were closed. Had Ghibli tickets for this day (any time, JTB) so made our way to Kichijoji, got some Magikarp taiyaki at Kurikoan, and walked from there to arrive around opening time. I wasn’t a huge Ghibli fan before this trip, but I do appreciate animation, and I was absolutely blown away by the museum. Very worth the trip and I get why it’s so popular! I had some friends visiting Tokyo at the same time so I met them for lunch after at Oniyanma in Nakameguro. We shopped around in the area (this ended up being my favorite shopping neighborhood - the store Vase is super cool for people into bags/accessories/fashion, as is 1LDK) and got coffee at Onibus. From there we split up and despite being super tired I went on to Ginza by myself to check out some more stores on my list (my SO hates shopping so I tried to condense it mostly to when we weren’t together) and then walked up to the Pokemon Center DX. I’d actually planned on going there the following week for the Pokemon Cafe, but after checking it out I cancelled that plan - it didn’t seem like my cup of tea and I felt like I could get my Pokemon fill in many other places. I also didn’t want to feel tied down by that plan anymore. I stopped by Tokyo Station quickly on my way back to pick up our shinkansen tickets so we didn’t have to deal with it in the morning (bought through SmartEX. Took about 2 minutes to print everything I’d purchased.) Had great omurice for dinner at Cafe Terrace Gon - it was so cute and cozy!
Day three:
Woke up early anyway thanks to jetlag and made our way to Tokyo Station for our 6:42 AM Nozomi to Shin-Osaka - goal was to make the 10AM limited express to Koyasan. We had green car tickets due to a smartEX deal (same price as regular cars when I booked in advance.) Picked up ekibens and a small packet of Tokyo Banana (yum!) for the trip. I booked Fuji-side seats and the weather cooperated - we got a clear view for several minutes! I was so happy! We transferred at Shin-Osaka to the Midosuji line, got out at Namba and walked to the Nankai station. I thought this transfer was going to be much harder than it was - it was all underground and signage was simple. We had to wait in a 10 minute line to buy our Koyasan World Heritage tickets, but managed to get on the 10AM 3 minutes before it left. When we got to Koyasan station I had my first Boss Black. I was addicted. We finally dropped our stuff off at our temple around 12:30. (The cable car was also fun - I’m a minor transit enthusiast and really enjoyed this part of the trip for all the different methods we got to take.) We had a few hours before check-in so we walked around the town, got some free snacks with promo coupons from the Heritage Pass, and had a nice leisurely meal at Kissa Yakata. This place was adorable, an older woman ran it all by herself (greeting you, cooking your meal, giving some advice about the area) and the food was great. We walked around the main junction to see some of the sites. It was really quite beautiful and peaceful, and people were fairly quiet and respectful compared to other tourist hotspots. After that we finally checked in. It was absolutely incredible - we had 2 tatami areas in our room and we were right next to the private single person onsen. It opened at 4pm and I was the first one in. We walked around the temple and just chilled out for the rest of the afternoon before our dinner. I was pleasantly surprised by the meal - there was a ton of food! We didn’t like it all, but there was a lot of rice as well. Unfortunately, the cemetery night tour was cancelled due to rain so we just went on a short walk by ourselves in the cold.
Day four:
We easily woke up for prayer (still jetlagged, we’d planned on that which is why we did Koyasan first) and it was just enthralling. Breakfast wasn’t my cup of tea, but again plenty of rice at least! We had a lot of time before check out so we took the full walk through the cemetery. It’s so breathtaking! After packing up we headed back into town and had another meal, this time at Komi Coffee. Fluffy pancakes were so so so good! Long afternoon ahead of us as we headed to Fukuoka. We were pretty exhausted by the time we got to Tenjin and just had our obligatory bowl of tonkotsu at Ramen Zen before calling it a night.
Day five:
Sarted our sightseeing at Ohori Park by renting a swan boat. It was loads of fun! We walked through after that and took in the Japanese garden - a total treat. It's small but gorgeous. From there we went to Canal City to look at the architecture. We had a blast playing Mario Kart at an arcade and I got a delicious croissant taiyaki. Took a walk through the Kawabata shopping arcade and headed to the Hakata Pokemon Center (of course) and Tokyu Hands before a late lunch in the Mitsukoshi basement food hall. There was too much to choose from and we got a bit overwhelmed, but I enjoyed a batch of Hakata-style one bite gyoza! My SO got sick this evening and stayed in. I shopped at Loft and Don Quijote, tried some grape flavored Strong Zero, then went to a yatai by myself while slightly drunk and ate another delicious bowl of tonkotsu! My SO joked that he wanted a bacon egg and cheese sandwich as sick comfort food and I was determined to make that happen in my tipsy state so I bought him a bacon and egg burger from Freshness Burger and felt very proud.
Day six:
We finally started our much anticipated road trip through Kyushu! Booked directly with Toyota Rent-A-Car and arranged pick-up from their Yakuin location at 8AM. I’d reserved an ETC card in our original booking and a Kyushu Expressway Pass ahead of time via e-mail. Grabbed a conbini breakfast for the car and a surprisingly incredible coffee from Rec Coffee! My SO was the first to drive, bless him, as I’m not as confident a driver (much better navigator!) and going on the other side of the road was a bit daunting. While our GPS gave directions in English, it wanted addresses input in Japanese. I’d read that mapcodes are useful so I’d printed them out ahead of time, but I wish I’d looked more in depth at certain POIs on Google Maps before getting the codes as the addresses weren’t always perfect (a common issue we found with GMaps in Japan.) Sometimes it’d spit us out a block or a few blocks away from where we really needed to be. We had to cross-check with my phone as we approached destinations. There was a minor scare about 2 hours into the drive when our ETC card holder started beeping incessantly and saying something in Japanese whenever the car started. We tried to translate and couldn’t figure it out, and the beeping was so constant that we needed to solve it immediately. Taking out the ETC card and putting it in seemed to fix it so we left it at that. Honestly still have no idea what it was! Our first stop was the old town district of Hita, Mamedamachi, for a short walk around. It was super adorable and quiet! Next up was Nabegataki Falls. On the way there we were absolutely awestruck by how beautiful the scenery was - while we had saved POIs to check out on Kysuhu, we assumed much of the drive would be highway-like and not exciting. The drive ended up being a huge highlight! The falls were really picturesque and lovely, definitely worth the stop. Next up on the itinerary was Mt Aso. Unfortunately, we saw online that the crater viewing area was partially closed. We decided we’d go there anyway and see as much as possible (and hope for a change in conditions) as otherwise the plan would just be to spent more time around our ryokan. On the way there we stopped by the oddest “rest stop” that was just a line of several vending machines by the side of the road with an abandoned shop next to them. The conditions didn’t get better as we arrived, sadly, but we still really enjoyed the drive and lookouts up there and the atmosphere near the top. Surprisingly, we bought a beautiful piece of art at the gift shop! Our last stop of the day was our ryokan in Kurokawa Onsen. The ryokan itself was gorgeous and the service was impeccable. I immediately went to the onsen area before the sun set. The rotenburo were split into a men’s and women’s side, both right on the river. I definitely messed up the etiquette a bit - first I walked all the way to the bath in full yukata before realizing I needed to change in a specific room. Then I realized I needed my towel from my room too as they didn’t have spares! I thought I was going to be more nervous about getting naked, but since everyone else is also naked it doesn’t feel so weird. I have 5 small tattoos and brought some “foundation tape” and medical tape to cover them up. I couldn’t see any reviews/info online stating whether or not they were allowed so I wanted to be careful. It worked fairly well, the patched up area was still visible but only if you looked closely. I thought people would stare at them and then I actually saw a Japanese woman with a much more obvious white cover-up sticker on her body! (Sidenote, the foundation tape was very difficult to get off later!) Kaiseki dinner was in a dining room area, but everyone had a beautiful private room so it felt very intimate. The food was fantastic. I’m somewhat adventurous now, though I was a vegetarian for over 10 years until fairly recently. I’m basically willing to try anything with some nudging, but still pretty scared of seafood. I tried everything they brought us which I’m very proud of, even if I couldn’t finish some of the fried whole fish. We got pretty drunk off sake and had a blast!
Day seven:
Took a final dip in the rotenburo before breakfast. I had it all to myself as it was so early! Heavenly. As it got crowded, I moved to our room’s private bath and spent the rest of the morning there. They offered us the rest of our sake for breakfast, which was kind of hilarious at 8AM. I could have spent another full day just lounging around here if it weren’t so expensive! Everyone waved us off as we pulled out. We stopped in the actual town of Kurokawa next as we hadn’t had a chance to see it the day before. It was super adorable, but I’m glad we stayed a bit further out for a less hectic experience. If we’d stayed 2 nights it could have been nice to move to a more central one, though. We got some pastries at Patisserie Roku (SO got their cream puff and it was incredible) to eat in the car as we left. Our first stop this day was Kamishikimi Shrine, up a handful of beautiful steps. We kept going up past the shrine until we made it to an opening that overlooked a valley. It was really stunning. I’d recommend it to anyone going to the Aso area! From there we went to Takachiho Gorge which was far more crowded. We were super hungry by then so we got a warm bowl of noodles from the one restaurant we could find before walking to the other “side” of the gorge viewing area. The other side (near the boat rentals) probably would have been the better place to park - there were plenty of food stalls and it seemed most of the tour busses brought people there. I originally wanted to rent one of the boats to see the waterfalls, but rowing section didn’t feel as secluded as I imagined it would be (full of families and the area was fairly small) so we skipped it and got some dango from a food stall as we left. My only “regret” of the whole trip is what we did next. We left the gorge slightly earlier than I expected and I was overly ambitious so tried drive around the Miyazaki coastline on the way to Kagoshima. In retrospect, it would have been best to just head straight there via the most direct road and enjoy the evening without feeling exhausted. I stopped at Hyuga Cape first and my SO was too tired to go to the viewing point, then by the time we got to the Nichinan coast portion it was sunset and we couldn’t get in to Udo Shrine except to look at it from afar. We didn’t get to Kagoshima until nearly 9pm and we were too exhausted to go out for dinner and enjoy the area (realistically we would have been tired either way, I guess.) We also had a minor scare regarding gas on the expressway, but thankfully found a station about 30 minutes from Kagoshima that was still open. Getting gas required a bit of translate help, but was easily done with a credit card.
Day eight:
We woke up at sunrise to make our flight to Yakushima. To make up for the missteps of the day before, I drove us the “long way” to the airport and we got a beautiful view of Sakurajima as the sun rose! Dropping off our rental car was super easy, we just had one toll leaving Fukuoka that wasn’t covered by the KEP to we pay for and otherwise were good to go. They drove us to Kagoshima airport a few minutes away and we checked our bags as the teeny plane to Yakushima wouldn’t even allow our carry ons. The propeller plane was a lot of fun for me, but anyone who is afraid of flying will not have a good time. Thankfully it’s just a quick 35 minutes or so and we just read a bit about the island from our Yakumonkey guide. Our new rental car was booked directly with NAVI and they met us at the airport. The woman we dealt with, who I had emailed with originally about our reservation, was possibly the friendliest person we met on our whole trip. She gave us trail info packets, laminated maps of the island and main towns with her favorite restaurants highlighted, bottles of water, and snacks. After asking us where we were staying, she told us which places to go to for lunch, which way to drive around the island (do it counter-clockwise as the narrow road on the Western side is scarier if you have to drive on the left), and which hikes to do We didn’t even have to plan our day out, and had enough food/water to get us through the hikes, all thanks to her! We went to Miyanoura first for lunch then started Shiratani Unsuikyo. The trail maps they give you at the hike are way more helpful than I thought they would be - almost had no need for the guide book given that we weren’t doing the lesser-known hikes. They clearly mark checkpoints on the map and on the hike and explain how long different routes will take. We decided to go off the “main” trail and connect to a walking path and nearly thought we were lost when a local man on the same path came along and asked if we needed help. Turned out he used to live in New York! We walked with him back to the parking lot (we weren’t lost after all, the path was just taking longer than we thought it would.) As I stopped to admire a cute snake, he let me know that it was super poisonous…yikes. We came across quite a few of monkeys on our drive around the Western side of the island and I was enamored! Something we realized as we drove around was that many things marked prominently in the guide/maps weren’t actually that easy to find. I wanted to see the Hirauchi seaside hot springs and we thought we were heading into a private driveway as we approached it. It was lovely, though. I’d also saved a cute looking cafe in Onoaida by our guest house, but it was closed when we got there. We stopped at another cafe across the street which was just a tiny 1-table room in this guy’s house. He gave us fruits and juice and had us sign some coasters with a note so he could put them on his wall of visitors! He had some beautiful handmade wood items for sale as well. We finally got to our lodging around 4pm and I made use of our private open-air bath, watching the sun set as I looked at the mountain - it was a moment where I almost wanted to pinch myself to make sure it was real! We had dinner nearby at a restaurant suggested by the guest house. The place was eerily quiet with bright lighting and odd music and had just 2 other couples dining in that night - it was a bit of a surreal experience. Our room that night had twin beds and we tried to share one before growing frustrated with the lack of space. As my SO moved to the other bed, a gigantic (several inch wide) spider crawled out from underneath. Suffice it to say, we shared one bed and left the lights on.
Day nine:
We enjoyed a really nice breakfast outside at our guest house, again complete with a beautiful mountain view. It was idyllic! We did the Yakusugiland hike this morning. On the drive there I got out of the car to take a picture of some monkeys and despite not making eye contact, one of them decided to chase me back into the car. I assume it wanted food, or it wanted to attack me, who knows. A nice exhilarating morning! The hike was super quick and easy and we went early enough that it wasn’t crowded yet. My SO preferred this hike, and I liked it as much as if not more than Shiratani. I accidentally stepped in monkey poop though so had to spend a good 15 minutes in the bathroom afterwards washing my shoe while a tour group arrived and lined up and watched me struggle. On the way back to town I got out of the car We stopped for sushi in Anbo at another place recommended by the car rental agent. It was probably one of my least favorite meals, unfortunately, just because I’m not a big sushi fan. It was still better than sushi I’ve had in New York, though! We stopped for some great matcha soft serve at a tea shop and by the “pillow shaped lava field” before getting gas and dropping off the car. We flew back to Tokyo via Kagoshima and landed in Haneda around 5:45PM. We got to our Ebisu hotel fairly quickly and decided on Yakiniku for dinner. Landed on a location of the Niku-Azabu chain near our hotel. Their ground floor area was full, but thankfully they fit us in the 4th floor section after a brief wait. We struggled with the menu a bit, but the waiters were super patient with us and after translating specific items and asking if we would or would not eat (no urchin, no offal), pointed us to a set meal as the best option (worked for us as we didn’t want to do the work of picking which meats to try!) They asked if rare meat was ok and I’m glad we said yes. They cooked it all for us and specified which sauces to eat with which pieces. I didn’t realize meat could taste so good! We also had a hilarious miscommunication when my SO asked if there was alcohol in his drink (it was just disguised well and we were curious to see if we misunderstood the menu) and the waiter came around and poured a glassful of extra shochu into his drink.
Day ten:
Finally a full day in Tokyo where we’re not super jetlagged! Plan was to go to Akihabara and figure things out from there. Well, let’s just say we didn’t get to much else. We shopped around all sorts of places - for manga, doujinshi, sex toys, Pokemon cards… and at Yodobashi Camera. I went wild for the cute claw machines. We even walked into the espace pachinko parlor before quickly escaping the assault on our ears (holy shit it’s so loud??) We briefly left Akiba for lunch at Izuei Honten in Ueno - this was a place my SO had tried on his last trip to Japan and really wanted me to experience. I was pleasantly surprised! We shared their lunch for 2 and were absolutely stuffed by the end. Their instructions said to put a small amount of sansho on the eel….we probably doused it far more than we should have, but the numbing sensation was so good. My friends who I hung out with the previous week were heading back to Tokyo from Kyoto and also wanted to hang out in Akiba so I went back and played a few more claw machines, tried out a purikura photobooth, shopped for Pokemon cards again (Cherumo had a pretty great selection) before briefly meeting them at the haven that is Super Potato. We made plans to meet back up for an izakaya night and picked a spot in Omotesando (friends were staying in Ginza so wanted a sort of midpoint) and, wisely, some back-ups as well. The first place we tried was “full” and told us it’d be a 2-hour wait. This happened to us quite a bit on the trip - I’m going to give the benefit of the doubt and say we just picked popular places with high tabelog ratings which meant they were often crowded and didn’t accept walk-ins… Our back-up had a table for us though and we had a great time trying various dishes and drinks!
Day eleven:
Our goal on this day was broadly to check out Shibuya and Nakano Broadway. We started early in Daikanyama as it was just a short walk there from our hotel. I really wanted to look at the architecture and it did not disappoint! We both loved it even more than we thought we would and delighted in wandering the streets there, looking through the gigantic Tsutaya, and eyeing coffee shops. It was a quick ride to Shibuya station and we stopped for breakfast in the Hikarie department store basement. I had a weirdly amazing cheese, pumpkin, and bacon croquette. We shopped a bit for clothes in BEAMS before heading to a few reuse shops I wanted to check out like Don Don Down and Ragtag. We were over shopping quickly and made our way on foot to Meiji Jingu (my feet were getting tired so we skipped Yoyogi) and while we were there we happened upon a wedding! The outfits were incredible to see (there’s a picture in my album.) From there we headed to Nakano Broadway. We explored the various floors there a bit - it’s an amazing place for secondhand anime shopping. Didn’t end up buying anything (aside from grape soft serve in the basement), but really enjoyed it. We also ate at a great gyoza restaurant just outside the main building. I stopped in Harajuku on the way back to check out a few more reuse stores on my list. Kindal ended up being my favorite. Back at the hotel we geared up for a night out in Shinjuku, finally! We saved a few restaurants to try near Bar Benfiddich (where we wanted to start the night) and unfortunately the first 2 couldn’t seat us and as I got anxious about traveling further without food, my SO suggested Hinoya under the bar. That did the trick. At Benfiddich (we went to the newer one on the lower level) I was served a fascinating pear and mascarpone cocktail, satisfying my weird request for “sweet, fruity, and creamy.” My SO got a pear brandy negroni after asking for something bitter. Next stop was a walk through the Omoide Yokocho - wish we’d waited to eat until we got there but I was stressed out without food earlier - followed by Dug’s Jazz Cafe & Bar. There’s a cover, but I thought it was well worth it. We really enjoyed the atmosphere and music and I got very drunk from the small bottle of sake they gave me! We swiftly wandered through Kabukicho and Golden Gai. Didn’t go in any bars in this area as we had planned on just looking, our goal was to cap the night with a drunken bowl of ramen at Zundoya and it was all on the way. We were hoping to check out some live music as well if possible, but it was too late by the time we got to one of the venues (Wednesday night near midnight…)
Day twelve:
I started the morning early in Shimokitazawa with a plan to meet at 11:30 for lunch at Magic Spice (pretty interesting spot.) In retrospect, it was pretty unnecessary going to Shimo this early as most of the stores didn’t even open until 11. I spent the first hour walking the entire neighborhood while photographing street art and storefronts before settling in a cafe with a coffee and slice of cheesecake. After shopping, I ended up with an awesome pair of pants for 300 yen at Mode Off! The fashion score of the trip. Next up was Ueno park and we walked the entire area. It wasn’t my favorite park of the trip, but it had some interesting architecture. I picked up our return Skyliner tickets as we were right next to the station anyway and had planned on getting a very early train for our flight on Saturday. (Of course, this ended up being a bad move, but we couldn’t have foreseen that….) We moved on to Asakusa in the early afternoon. It was absolutely packed on the main shopping streets, the temple area was overrun with people, and by the time we wanted to eat everything around us seemed like a tourist trap with minimum spends and mediocre food. We really just wanted to get out of the area quickly so I decided to make the most of the late afternoon by checking out Ikebukuro! First, I stopped at Kikanbo and had the best bowl of ramen of the entire trip. Medium sansho level….heaven. Then I happened across a pop performance in Sunshine City! I have no idea who it was, a girl group? There were tons of people watching. I heard the same song the next day on the street, but forgot to Shazam it. The Pokemon Mega Center was everything I hoped it would be. I did the bulk of my Pokemon shopping here and also stopped at a card store on the way back to the station where I found a bunch of great 20 yen singles. We went back to Koenji this evening for dinner at Dachibin, an Okinawan restaurant my SO went to the last time and had fond memories of. Tried some raw horse meat! A couple guys next to us really wanted to help us out with our order and chat. Afterwards we headed to Asagaya to check out an anime-themed bar called 44Sonic. It was closet-sized and full of regulars who encouraged us to try a calpis/shochu cocktail. Weirdly amazing. The atmosphere felt very local and casual and the place was covered in all sorts of anime merch (including figures on the bar.)
Day thirteen:
We awoke to a notice from our airline offering to waive any change fees for our flight due to bad weather in NY. Our original return flight involved 24 hours of travel with a long layover, free upgrade to a nonstop was a no-brainer! It meant we had to figure out new accommodations, though, as our hotel had no availability for Saturday night. We spent the bulk of the morning dealing with logistics to get it over with. This meant I’d also have to go back to Ueno to change our Skyliner tickets… I had plans already to meet some other friends (who were also on holiday in Japan at the same time!) for lunch in Nakameguro so finally headed out at 11:30 for that. Took a nice walk from Ebisu and did some shopping on the way at stores I’d liked previously. We met for lunch at Seirinkan pizza and it was incredible! Absolutely worth it. My friends had stayed in Nakameguro for part of their trip and took me to their favorite ice cream (Premarché) and coffee place (artless) afterwards. Both were amazing. I headed to Shibuya to shop at other stores on my list, then walked to Daikanyama from there to meet my SO for some tea. Sucked it up and took the long ride to change our Skyliner tickets. Stopped in Harajuku on the way back to shop again. We met up at a manga cafe in Shibuya, but it was closed for an event. Decided to walk to an okonomiyaki restaurant halfway between Shibuya and Ebisu, but when we got there it was full. So began our Friday night of trying restaurant after restaurant - we must have walked into 4 different ones at least - in Ebisu without being able to get a seat at any of them. Our final attempt was at Kaoriya Soba (we’d agreed to give up and eat Coco Ichiban if it didn’t work out) and they had seats available! Experience there was great and the roast duck appetizer was phenomenal.
Day fourteen:
Our first “extra” day! We just decided to wing it after dropping our bags at the new hotel. Booked tickets for teamlab Planets in the evening, did some gift shopping, then we stopped for curry at Hanaichi and made the impromptu plan to walk through Hibiya Park and to the Imperial Palace gardens. Hibiya was a nice surprise! It was really pretty, and we happened upon some sort of festival with various themed plant stands. I couldn’t quite figure out what it was for, though. It started to get super hot out and we had to take a bunch of sitting breaks on the way to the East Gardens from there. The scenery was great, though, and the grounds were not too crowded given that it was a Saturday. This was one of the most pleasant, unplanned surprises of the trip! Shopped around the Tokyo Station Character Street (another Pokemon store! It was packed!) on the way back. We had a bit of time to relax before teamlab, and my SO had made a sushi reservation that night for us in Ginza (Sushi Banya Honten) which we planned to head to right after. I’m not sure how much more crowded Borderless gets, but Planets was very manageable and super enjoyable as well! It took us about an hour to get through - I do think we could have spent several more minutes in some of the rooms, though. We had some extra time so took the train to Odaiba to get a drink and a view of the Rainbow Bridge. Our sushi dinner was great fun even though I can’t really appreciate the taste yet. We saw some other guests eating an off-menu dish and after asking about it they agreed to make one for us too. It was some sort of cheese & sea bream cooked, creamy filling with salmon wrapped around it. Really incredible! They also gave us plaques with our names written out artfully in Japanese before we left. It was clearly something they give to every tourist who stops by, judging by the instagram hashtag, but we love them anyway.
Day fifteen:
Last day! I went to Jiyugaoka to have a relaxing morning of wandering. What a weird, cool neighborhood. ABC coffee was great - nice patio to relax on. La Vita was bizarre as expected. Kumano shrine was a beautiful surprise. After I had my fill there and started to get hungry I planned my last meal… I knew I needed a final (seventh) bowl of ramen to wrap up the trip, but where to go! I considered Fuunji, Afuri, and Rokurinsha. Rokurinsha won out and I prepared myself for a long wait given that I showed up around 12:30. I was not wrong! I didn’t get seated until 1:15. Easily spent a chunk of my remaining cash afterwards on bags of kit kats at Don Quijote. As I contemplated how to spend my final hour, I realized I was right by Cafe de L’Ambre. Couldn’t leave without trying such a legendary cafe. It was certainly the best coffee experience of my trip - watching them pour water over the grounds while moving them in a circular motion was truly mesmerizing! I took in the atmosphere and chatted with a regular. As I walked back to the hotel from Ginza I saw what looked like a traditional Geisha ceremony being performed on a platform for an engaged audience. Paused for a long moment to take it all in and appreciate what I was seeing.
Some opinions:
  1. Favorite neighborhoods in Tokyo were Nakameguro, Daikanyama, Koenji, Ebisu, Shimokitazawa, and Jiyugaoka. They were so lovely to stroll around and had amazing vibes..
  2. Favorite meals overall were at Niku-Azabu, Kikanbo, Rokurinsha, Izuei Honten, and Seirinkan. There were virtually no bad meals on the entire trip, but those ones really stood out.
  3. Driving there is easier than I thought it would be! You get pretty used to the side switch. Most road signs were in English. KEP saved us about $20 on tolls. Toyota and NAVI were both great rental companies to deal with.
  4. Kyushu is super beautiful and I’d highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in nature, wants to drive around, and is going on their 2nd or 3rd trip. It’s fairly off the beaten path and not as packed with Western tourists.
  5. If you’re not a huge hiker, 1-2 days on Yakushima could be enough. Everything I read made me worry that we were spending too little time there, but honestly we’re just not that into hiking. Maybe if we hadn’t also done Kyushu we would have appreciated an extra day in nature, but the two trails we did satisfied my hiking urges and we were pretty ready to get back to a big city. If you love the outdoors and hiking though then 2 days is not enough!
Tokyo 10/14-10/16: Hotel Mets above the JR station in Koenji. Total was $170 for 2 nights, booked through their website directly. It felt like a steal, and was one of our cheapest stays, but it was also one of our smallest rooms - couldn’t open both carry-ons and still be able to walk around the room. Location was perfect for the tired first part of our trip as we didn’t have to walk far from the train with our bags. They had great communication over e-mail before we arrived and agreed to accept/hold some packages with our SIM cards and Pocket Wi-Fi.
Koyasan 10/16: Shojoshin-in, booked through Total was $230 for 1 night. I was really prepared for barebones accommodation and it felt much more luxurious than I imagined. Highly recommend this place for anyone visiting Koyasan as it wasn’t packed with tourists like some of the others I saw (literal tour busses were parked at a few) and being right next to the cemetery is ideal if that’s a big reason for your visit. There’s no curfew here.
Fukuoka 10/17-10/19: Mizuka Imaizumi next to the Tenjin area. It’s on a bunch of hotel websites but I booked through Airbnb because I had some large discount coupons due to a bad experience this summer. That made it $155 total for 2 nights for a giant room with 3 beds and a couch. It was good for what we paid, but I wouldn’t have paid full price. It was an apart-hotel with a kitchenette, not full service, and definitely had some quirks. Would maybe recommend the room if you have a large group or otherwise get some sort of large discount like we did.
Kurokawa 10/19: Yamamizuki. Lived up to basically every expectation. Booked directly through their website, $477 total for the night (final price we paid after adding the 1500 yen sake bottle) for a “type D” room with a private semi-outdoor bath and nice separate sitting area by the windows with a view. It’s just outside of town which was nice since we obviously had a car (and we actually found driving in the town a bit annoying!)
Kagoshima 10/20: Dormy Inn Kagoshima, in the Tenmonkan area. Booked through agoda, $86 total for 1 night. This was our smallest room on the trip. It was fine. Not as good as Hotel Mets for the same price, but for a Saturday night it was one of the best hotels I could find in the Kagoshima area for <$100. They charged 1000 yen for parking right in the hotel building which was a bonus after all the driving. They also had free ramen after 9:30PM which we made use of given our late arrival, it was surprisingly good.
Yakushima 10/21: Shiki no Yado, around the Onoaida area. Booked directly through e-mail with the owner (contact info on their website.) The owner is very friendly and even though he originally said they had no rooms with private open-air bath available, he put us in one when we arrived. They usually serve dinner (5/7 nights a week) and unfortunately our stay was on one of the dinner-less nights, but that meant we only paid $97 total. They accept cards!
Tokyo 10/22-10/27: we stayed at the Ebisuholic (in Ebisu.) It’s a brand new hotel and feels very trendy. We got the smallest 2-person room, but the bed was gigantic and there was more than enough space for our bags/things without feeling too crowded. The shower was huge and modern. Breakfast was basic but they have really good donuts. Total was $811 for 5 nights after an Agoda discount of 10%, felt very worth the price as it amounted to ~162/night after tax and it was definitely a step above all the other 3-star hotels we had.
Tokyo 10/27-10/28: This was our last-minute additional night and we stayed at the b tokyo shimbashi. It was convenient enough and we paid $154 for the night. Slightly roomier than the Hotel Mets, not by much though. Didn’t love the area. I don’t agree with people who say it doesn’t matter where you stay - it’s hard to stay out of your room/neighborhood from 8am-11pm every day. The hotel was decent for the price especially given that we booked it last minute for a Saturday night, though I’m sure it’s cheaper if you book in advance.
Flights were $1160 each RT. Car rentals were $58 (Yakushima) and $280 (Kyushu, including KEP.) Gas was ~$70 total for both cars. Flights from Kagoshima - Yakushima - Tokyo were $220 total per person. Shinkansens were $220 per person. Haven't fully calculated the daily spending yet but sure we kept it under $100 per person/day even counting our nicer meals.
submitted by aurorium to JapanTravel [link] [comments]

Helpful Guide to Looksmaxxing I found

Brief Introduction massive tl;dr
Hello guys I have been a lurker on this subreddit for several months and have also been a member of these sorts of communities as far back as the dawn of SH, and more recently Lookism. I'm also a "Redpiller" but realize half of what they preach is complete horse shit and being physically attractive is fucking 90% of the battle with women in this day and age. Although your personality can help with the "illusion" of value to women for the most part it's tangible things like physical attractiveness, money(depending on the women), and status(or the illusion there of, which "game" can help with) that actually matter.
After learning the way the world works over the last few years I have developed a very blackpilled, fuck the world sort of attitude and now I know what I want out of life. I want to do something for the incel community and for myself. I used to want the fairy tale soulmate relationship. I used to believe that I would find a girl who would love(lmfao) me for me and we would be together forever, have kids, and I would take care of her and all that drivel. Fuck that shit. I'm too unplugged now and I see how everything really works. We're becoming animals again(80% of women fucking only 20% of men rather than 1:1 lifelong marriage) due to femoid liberation and atheism. Note, I'm also an atheist but just saying. They're only interested in the top 20% and the bottom 80% either doesn't exist or will be friend-zoned, used for a status boost, beta buxed, cucked, etc, etc. Hypergamy makes them only attracted to men on top and they can and will fuck up where as men have to fuck down(If PSLI 5-7) or across(if PSLI 8-10).
Any examples femoids or white knights attempt to give as evidence to the contrary there's ALWAYS an ulterior motive as to why the femoid is with someone she won't normally wouldn't ever date/fuck. Usually it's for a status boost(if the guy is popular in a certain circle), stepping stone(fucking a guy to gain a higher position in business or social circle), money(the guy is rich or is perceived to soon be rich and she wants a beta bux...she's 25-35+ and wants to "settle down" and can't find a rich chad that will wife her), or perhaps she has daddy issues(WAY older guy(late 40s-50s), or ethnic she wouldn't get with but hates herself/her father or mother so she is with them out of spite), and the list goes on...however these are extremely rare cases and are few and far between. For the most part if you really take the rose tinted glasses off and swallow the black pill and look around you...all the couples you see and all the social interactions you observe will begin to make perfect sense the more you understand them. Now don't get me wrong I don't hate women. I'm just honest and realistic about the world around me and make no unrealistic assumptions based on what I want to be true from either an optimistic or a pessimistic point of view. You guys can not and should not blame women for doing what they're literally biologically programmed to do. Also you guys should stop being so surprised when they do it. I'm almost never shocked by anything anymore. Almost everything I see, hear, and read about makes 100% sense to me. Everything has a logical explanation if you dig hard enough.
I understand that things other than looks change what a girl thinks of you and having a dominate personality is one of them. As well as social proof(signals of high status, easy to fake), money(bitches orgasm more with rich guys, google it), or generally any display of sexual dymorphic power. Basically femoids get off on sex more when they're getting plowed by a man they perceive as powerful. This is why SOME older guys have higher SMV with age. Age isn't a crippling a factor as some of you guys make it out to be. Go look up "Top 100 sexiest men" or "/ladyboners" or just google "Hot guys" and the MAJORITY of those guys are in their late twenties to mid thirties. This is because testosterone causes masculinization of the face and voice over your entire lifetime. Meaning your voice and face and still changing(albeit much slower) even in your 20's and 30's. See here and this comment on this reddit post here.
Age doesn't make much of a difference to women as long as you're actually attractive.
For example:
See Here - He's in his Thirties.
Perhaps even better this tinder experiment article down below concerning younger vs older attractive men on tinder. Make sure you read and understand the entire article, but in summary a 26 year old attractive guy on tinder pulled tons of foids. A 34 year old attractive guy pulled even more(age ranges, older women have less options) and when factoring for age and setting the 34 year old man to an age range only allowing matches between 18-26 he pulled 3% less of this age range than the 26 year old. See this picture here.
Tinder Experiments
Tinder Experiments II: Guys, unless you are really hot you are probably better off not wasting your time on Tinder — a quantitative socio-economic study
In summary JFL if you aren't attractive, age doesn't matter much only your face.
Look at the way roasties talk about guys like Jared Leto, they would gladly line themselves up, strip down, and allow him to plow them all one by one without a care in the world about his age. The dude is just attractive looking.
Think about how creepy it would be perceived if a 35 year old man were to be flirting with a 19 year old foid in the club. Now picture this 35 year old men flirting with her. Suddenly it went from creepy to A-okay with her, her friends, and everyone else(except bitter old roasties). Hell I bet if you're a loaded 35 year old and look like this you could pull her and her friends. Tell them there'a an after party with booze, movies, a huge TV, a Jacuzzi/Hot-tub, and a pool at your mansion. You get her and her friends and they would prefer you over a guy her own age of equal attractive with less flashy shit. That's a fact. Once guys are of equal attractiveness it comes down to personality(read badboy traits), status(or the perception there of), and money. You get the picture.
I understand I'm using Actors to prove my point and they're famous but it isn't the fame. It's what they look like. If it was the fame then ALL famous actors and comedians, social media moguls, etc would be pulling young puss.
But are they? Hell no. Because they aren't all attractive. Notice how for the most part it's only the attractive famous guys fucking a huge variety of 18-25 year old models and switching them out all the time(looking at you Leonardo DiCaprio). It's because they're still PSLI 7-10 they can fuck whoever the hell they want. Add their attractiveness in with their money and status and they're outright slayers. I know this mentality is bashed to shit here but it's true. Men who are fairly attractive in their 30's with good money and proper social skills can pull alot of women. If those men are "hot" PSLI(7-10 Chadlite to Chad) they can pull any women they want at any age. Nick Bateman right now at 31 and Jeremy Meeks right now at 33 could both double team any college slut in the country with ease. You guys bash "older" dudes but don't realize most of the men you prop up as chads are usually in their early to mid thirties.
I know I'm only talking about actors and models. But the same can be said of any rich attractive man in his 30's even late 30's. Can still pull young 18-25 women with ease if they look like these men I listed out(PSLI 7-10). If not then oh well they can always fuck post wall 25-35 year old women that are still hot(they exist). They all would gladly hand their pussy over for a chance to marry(lmfao not even once) a guy with a PSLI 5-6.5 Face and decent body with money. If you are over 6.5 PSLI don't bother with them and just date 18-25 and have fun it's easier and better for you in the end. Physically and mentally.
Don't cope using this shit though.
90% of men will look worse as they age and don't take care of themselves and don't do anything to make themselves better and never lookmaxed. I was just explaining why I'm doing this even though I'm 25 and won't be finished until I'm 27.
A Bit About Me I'm a legitimate 25 year old virgin I have no reason to lie to you guys. I've never so much as kissed a women before, although much of this is my fault as I was picky in high school and also have very high functioning autism and had a few missed opportunities. As far as my facial attractiveness is concerned I'm currently sitting at around a 4.5-5.5/10 PSLI depending on my bodyfat percentage. I'm Caucasian(Italian, French, German) and I'm 5'9 and 1/2" so nearly 5'10". I can fix this though. I'm very pale, like Dracula tier nerdic skin. I look like I spend all day in a cave/bedroom and never come out, and that's because I don't. I also went bald at age 19-20, but I already fixed that for the most part but will be doing much more which I will explain later. Also I currently weigh around 180 pounds and I'm a skinny fat, but not a framecel. I have very little muscle as I never played any sports however my shoulders span 19 inches and they're bony so my shoulder span is actually fairly high for someone with no deltoids at all. My frame looks like it will be solid for bodybuilding during my experiment, which will be accelerated through steroid use. Skinny build with some natural muscle. My parents are both pretty tan especially my mother, very Mediterranean/Alpine white looking so I could have chad tier skin with a proper regime and tanning, more on this later though.
I had a stable job for several years but left a few months ago to pursue my dream of working for myself. I currently live in a pretty cheap house and rent and utilities don't cost much and work doesn't take to much time out of my day because of what I do. I don't rely on other people or a boss for income, and I never went to college. I don't have any social media at all and lost all or most of friends after high school and don't talk to many people at all, and I'm not super close with my I feel as though I'm the ideal person to do something like this and pull it off. I can actually make friend fairly quickly and for someone with high function autism(not an aspie) I can make friends fast as I'm not shy and have a strong grasp of proper social dynamics. Also for a 25 year old I look extremely the point where people don't believe it when I tell them my age. I was once carded for an M rated video game(yes) at age 24. This will benefit me later but age doesn't matter as much for men(more on that further) as you guys seem to believe here, although it does certainly make a difference once it impacts your aesthetics in big way.
What I'm Going to Do Step by Step Now luckily I have just started something new and will have alot of money coming in over the next few months. I'm talking hundreds of thousands of dollars(600k-700k). Here's what I'm planning on doing over the next two years. Many of you are pessimistic and I'm hoping to inject some optimism and hopefully lols into the community over the next few years especially after my transformation. When all is said and done I will upload before and after pics and document my adventures as a Chad. Complete with pictures and potentially videos and screencaps of messages, given I am successful. Although I may only show the before and after pics to a select few and have them vouch for me as I saw how others who have posted their pics were spread around so it might not be a bright idea to post pictures, but maybe I will post them anyway.
1. Hair I'm going to get my hairline lowered with a hair transplant with "high density packing" meaning tons of strands in certain spots, and I'm going to get this done to my temples(also hair on the side that come in on the forehead) and my entire front hairline. This will give me the "chad square hairline" with thick dense hair and the hair in the back I will be taking care of as well but not with a hair transplant. Hair pieces are(believe it or not) great for this sort of thing. The front of them can feel a bit weird(edges) but they look really convincing overall it's just the edges that can look out of place, well I had the brilliant idea of getting a hair transplant for the front and rocking a hair piece for the middle over to the back and it will look and feel fine and I can have any hair style I want at that point and I will never go bald.
I know this because I am wearing one right now and understand how they actually work. Guys that don't and haven't used one shouldn't comment as you wouldn't understand until you have worn a high quality hair piece. A truly high quality piece is undetectable accept for the very front edge which IMO can look weird unless it's perfect so it's best to have hair growing out of your head there and get a hair piece for the top of your head. You can get adhesives that you can swim with and pull the hair and nothing happens. Trust me these things can work well, x1000 better than using DHT blockers and dumb hair fiber shit that looks terrible and fake. A quality hair piece looks 100% like real hair, accept for the edge, which IMO looks fake as all fuck but if you follow my advice here(PM me for help) you can look and feel 100% convincing to women/people hair wise if you get a transplant in the front and rock one of these on topso the edge is behind your frontal hairline and the back edge is pressed right up against the start of your back hair line, same with the sides.
After this my hair will have gone from this to this or this. Easy to pull off if I get a dense enough hair transplant for my front hairline, temples, and temple "points/peaks". This will cause my front hairline to look perfect as it will be growing directly from my head and the hair piece in the back can be 120% density which is right around the thickness of the second picture so it will be consistent. Thick hair is a huge attractiveness boost for anyone. You can browse around as I don't feel like posting links but we've had threads on lookism debating this and thick hair is a massive boost for sure and I doubt anyone would argue that. Although thick hair alone will not turn me into a Chad or even a Chadlite and I realize that which brings us to step two.
2. Body This is pretty straight forward but for those that are unaware of lifting for aesthetics instead of mass I recommend you look up Zyzz and Connor Murphy as good examples as to what I'm going for. The goal is to get big but not huge and look amazing with your shirt off. You don't want to look or come off as if you had to work to get it though. Men appreciate hard work and effort, women don't they just want Chad to just be. They don't want a fake Chad, they don't picture Chad in the gym. They picture Chad doing "Chad things" like fucking beautiful women, making tons of money, being athletic, AMOGing all the other dudes, throwing parties or attending them, flying around the world, being a boss, and just general awesome shit.
In order to achieve a chad physique I will be taking steroids and working my ass off at the gym 5-6 days a week. As well as eating a perfectly clean diet, as I also want to look as young as possible and stay as lean as possible(7-12% BF is ideal). I have done heavy research into this topic and suggest you do as well as there are numerous benefits but also negatives to this. I will reach my genetic potential much faster through the use of steroids and may even go a tad bit beyond it, but not by much as I won't want to get really big. That puts girls off if you want to look good and not like a freak. Connor Murphy and Zyzz are the ideal goal here. Despite what the "gymcel" commenters say the vast majority of roasties LOVE that shit when it comes with a nice face.
Not to mention low bodyfat really helps with facial aesthetics.
Male models are on average around 7-9% bodyfat for a reason.
For example:
Before(Taken in 1998) and After1 After2 (Taken in 2000)
Jared Leto Above 20% to Between 8-12%
Chris Pratt
Guy on Bodybuilding forums
Click and zoom in 50 low bodyfat facial transformations
Kinobody Facial Transformation 12% Bodyfat to 7%
If my any of my insertions are bad I will get them corrected with implants(look up Dr. Steinbrech) he does some amazing work for men in this category. If my abs, pecs, delts, look like shit I will get implants for that. Again look up Steinbrech's results they're god tier.
Target Body Aesthetics:
Zyzz - Pic
Connor Murphy
3. Skin Care This is pretty straight forward. Now for the most part anyone who knows anything about skin aging should know that it's fundamentally better to prevent aging then it is to reverse which is very difficult to do. I will be taking a heavy regime of health supplements(over 80 daily) along with a variety of skin care methods to preserve my skin as long as possible. I will also get yearly filler facial injections to stave of nasolabial folds(laugh lines) and eye hollows.
I will be using a variety of facial masks and moisturizers both for indoors and for outdoors. My outdoor moisturizer will have an SPF of 30 and all organic ingredients. Something that will protect my skin and prevent sun exposure. As for a tan I can get one in a healthy manner through Astaxanthin and Carotenoid supplementation along with proper sun exposure after these Carotenoids build up in my skin and protect me from the UV rays and allow me to get a darker tan. You can google the NCBI studies I don't have time to look them up but trust me when I say Carotenoid supplementation allows your skin to build a tan much faster and much healthier. I will also likely use self tanners to give my skin a darker color temporarily.
Since I naturally look far younger than my age it should be relatively easy for me to maintain from here and with proper 3-5 times a week exfoliation, constant moisturization, using coconut oil before bed when I don't have a foid over, lukewarm to cold showers, witch hazel after shave, facial masks, real proven ingredients to slow the aging process down which I have a list of on my laptop but I'm lazy and will update the post later, but anyone with a decent IQ and google can look this shit up and figure it out pretty fuckin fast. Some of this shit is akin to old school snake oil salesman so you will have to really do some digging to prove the proper validity of some products and ingredients. Seriously if you're in your 20's spend a day going over a skin care regime for yourself and then maintain it from there on end.
Never talk to any normies about it for some reason(lol) everyone, and especially women get all up in arms when a straight guy does anything to better his appearance outside of shaving and or a haircut. Hell even other incels may try to tear you down and keep you where you are.
Gee I wonder why the foids want to stop you?
After reading my post you should know why...they hate the idea of an unnatural Chad and they want Chad to just "be like that" genetically. Your friends and family will bash you for trying to climb the genetic latter, don't let them. Cut them off and move the fuck on if anyone reading this wants to ever follow in my footsteps.
4. The Face Unarguably the most important part of look maxing. There's many ways to go about this and I have done tons of research and I have to say it's very possible with proper plastic surgery to go from a mere 4-5 to a 7-8. Yes you can go up two points or more if you dig around you will see what I mean, but of course you guys will want to see examples again so here is a few before and after pictures of guys in their 20's that have undergone facial implant or filler surgeries and the before and afters. Many went from incel to Chad or Chadlite, or in the case of foids from low tier Uggos to legit Staceys.
Exibit A - One of my Favorites
Exibit B - Tons of procedures there's a mid way photo around somewhere of this one as well (found it)
Exibit C
Exibit D
Exibit E
Exibit F
Exibit G
Exibit H
Exibit I
Exibit J
Exibit K Exibit K2 - This one was done with fucking facial fillers live on video - I believe he has had this done before as well
Exibit L - Upper Jaw surgery and went from 3-4/10 to 6-6.5/10 PSLI hard to tell because of the lighting
Exibit M Exibit M2 - This was all done with Facial Filler
Exibit N - Before & After
Exibit O - Before & After - Legit Oldcel this is why you do this sooner rather than later - More pics Before & After
Exibit P - Before & After - Biggest holy shit difference by far
Exibit Q - Asian Troll to Asian Stacey
Exibit R
Exibit S - Eyebrow ridge Filler injections to hide upper eyelids and give a more defined bone projection
Exibit T
Exibit U
Given these are facts posted by a fellow incel about most Plastic Surgery Operations:
Most people look shit before surgery - oldcels, high bf%, shit skin, ugly in general. Unsurprisingly, you can't polish a turd - a turd higher by 0.5 points is still a turd. So no impressive transformation occurs. Most surgeries individually improve you by like max 0.5 point, so again there is no dramatic transformation. A list of surgeries/procedures that can improve you by +1 point is very short. So for dramatic results you have to look to a combo of several surgeries. (Bingo) People don't have good aesthetic sense/knowledge to select most effective procedures for them Even for surgeries that can have profound results (for example, hair transplant or genio) a lot of results are meh While this is all true you have to understand when I go to have this shit done I will a very low bodyfat percentage and will know exactly what to change with my face and how much or how little. I've gotten fairly good at judging facial aesthetics after paying such close attention to them for so many years I've come up with theories that I have never even seen posted before about why certain people are attractive. I have no doubt in my mind that after my facial surgeries and look maxing I will facially ascend to at least a 7 if not an 8 PSLI. Also strongly considering using facial fillers for alot of it if I can avoid implants.
My first operation on my face will be a male model makeover with Steinbrech at very low bodyfat to augment my zygomatic arches(better than just the cheeks), my midface/maxilla and cheeks and lower lip for better stronger definition and projection, and my jaw and chin which I want to be much bigger with more projection and forward growth. As well as some work on making my nose more defined with facial fillers. Also my brow ridge(you can do this with filler see Exibit S) I may have an orbital rim implant done along with a lateral canthopexy and perhaps a full custom jaw and chin wrap around if the filler operation isn't up to par. I will also get realistic looking colored contacts to change my eye color(brown) to a lighter color when need be, perhaps green or light blue. I might get that laser surgery done but I will have to look into it more extensively as I wouldn't want any complications.
After this massive undertaking my face should be 7-8 PSLI minimum. Not to mention the steroids making my face/jaw ever more masculine as well and helping to maintain lower bodyfat. See here and this comment on this reddit post here. On how steroids can change your face.
5. Height Most of you may be aware of this already but for those of you that aren't let me redpill you really quick. There's a couple of doctors around the world(a handful) that will break your femur(or tibia) and allow you to lengthen them with metal rods affixed to the sides(either interior or exterior). This procedure is called limb lengthening. I have done alot of research into this as well and I'm going to opt for an interior femur lengthing operation( shooting for 8cm) with Dr Dror Paley, with a one year follow up for my tibias(aiming for 4cm). In total my gains will be around 12cm but you have to reduce that down a bit due to the curvature of the femur. So say around 11.25cm gained in height. Around 4.4 inches add this to my actual height of 69.5 and I will pretty much be 6'2" barefoot. My natural wingspan and arm length is pretty long for my height at 5'11" so my arms won't look weird after as this variation can be found naturally in the human species. Some peoples proportions look off or they have trouble running after because they do too much with shit doctors. I'm going to the best doctor and doing a low amount for my starting height. IMO the taller you are the more you can add in a healthy manner as your bones are already long so it's less of a percentage. Being nearly 5'10" already has it's advantages here and the boost to become a 6'2" chad will be well worth it. Some of you may disagree but IMO I want to be the ideal chad and as such I must get to 6'2"-6'4" in height. Anything over 6'5" is freakzoid/lanklet most of the time 6'2-6'5" is ideal. After I hit 6'2" barefoot I will buy shoes that come with a natural height boost(good brands that and styles that discreetly boost height but still look nice) to get me up to 6'3"-6'4" or so. I'm aware of the risks involved and the financial costs of limb lengthening. I can afford it and have been reading into this since I was 19 years old. Having large muscularity will also go a long way in helping me look aesthetic and proportional at this height.
6. Money & Social Media Status As I stated above I've pretty much gotten this squared away not after many years figuring things out. I should be able to get myself some nice cars and a nice place without an issues. As for social media I plan on making a fake facebook profile and a real one. The real one I will have my real age and family and on the alternative one I will decrease my age by a few years to use with dating apps and tinder and what not. Throw some of those "real" fake followers on both because why not. Some of those services do bring you real followers and some even from your country so I will pay large sums of money to boost my followers and likes to make myself appear more popular on social media and be sure to make it look convincing. After doing this it will make things just that much easier with online dating and even dating/pick up via clubs and what not. Like if a girl goes to add you on instagram that you just met and she sees some crazy shirtless selfie, or interesting picture with 50-100k followers I'm willing to bet anything that it would 9 times out of 10 be a huge plus.
Camera quality also matters(google it) so I will have some professional shots done for some of these dating sites and my instagram to start it off. Camera quality makes such a huge difference in how you look in your photos. I will make sure I use the perfect six pictures of myself all displaying something a little different without giving too much away. All six pictures will be designed to make myself appear as interesting as possible while also coming off as low inhib(I have ideas) I will post about what I decided to use for the lulz later after I've completed my looks-maxing. I may even make YouTube videos catering to financial and gym advice.
7. Dick Gains Ah here's where we get TMI boys.
I'm a solid 6.3" long and 4.7" in girth(average girth, above average length, actually a great starting point as girth is easier)
After jelquing and pumping(bathmate) and perhaps even filler into my dick(it's healthy and a thing yes) I should be at or around 7.5" long and 5.75-6" in girth. Which is the absolute ideal range. Girls love a big thick dick(if you actually watch their actions when they think they're anonymous) the things they actually say when drunk, etc. Women prefer girth and a good amount of it but nothing over 5.5" or so. You can be too big for sure, above average but not too huge seems to be the ideal. I think 7.25" by 5.5-6" is perfect.
However let me tell you that you can me too big there's a point where you can be too big to get anal or a good BJ and I believe 5.5" in girth is the perfect amount to avoid that cutoff point but still be perfect to her. 7.25-7.5" is the length ideal as hitting a roasties cervex isn't pleasurable for her at all(google if you must).
As a side note feel bad for all the blackcels out there that have to put up with the BBC bullshit. I can't even imagine being average or god-forbid below average as a black dude now a days since they're so "animalized" by porn. There's so many porn videos with BBC but it's just the same eight or nine black guys on rotation. Same with the huge dick white dudes. It's rare for anyone to have a dick over 7" or a dick thicker than 5-5.3" or so. Anything over 6.5" is pretty fucking long and anything thicker than 5" is pretty fucking thick.
Look up the actual averages not the bro bro e-stats and you will see what I mean. So much bullshit online it's hilarious and I do believe most women know the BBC shit is made up but I'm sure there's some that really believe it and would be disappointed with the vast majority of black men, or just most men in general if that's what they're into.
If you head on over to bigdickprobelms and do some searches you will discover a large number of studies done on the general male population(not self reported but actually measured). Here is a chart with three pretty large studies done on the topic:
Notice how 7-7.5" is freak level length and 5.5-6" is freak high percentile girth. Women prefer girth over length and most of what you read online and on porn sites is fantasy. Many of the "verfied" profiles are men that paid women to take verification pictures for them(of their bodies no face) and they say ridiculous outlandish shit but for the most part women prefer slightly above average with dick size and anything more than that is when it starts to become difficult for them to take. Again go to bigdickprobelms for more info.
Shoot for 7-7.25" by 5.5" this is pretty much the ideal. Every guy lies about his length and girth so you can too. They're probably gonna think I'm fucking 9 inches with that length so I'm just gonna go with it.
Conclusion My looks maxing experiment will take around 2 years to complete and I anticipate I will be finished when I'm 27. I will keep you guys updated with a new update on my progress at the end of every month and if this subreddit is ever shut down I will continue to make posts on whichever subreddit or forum we migrate to next. If I do pull this off I will continue to be a member of the community and give frequent status updates. This will truly be the ultimate confirmation of the blackpill. I might go out next month and record myself using some shitty pick up lines on foids at clubs and bars, and online. Then after completing my looks maxing try the exact same lines again said and typed just the same way and see if the reaction is different. It will be.
Wish me luck. Also use this guide. I will be adding that skin care info later along with my gym lifting routine and diet/macros for aesthetics, and other things I forgot about as time goes on. PM me if you guys have any questions or want any advice I have been lurking and reading into this shit for so long now my brain is like an encyclopedia of look maxing.
submitted by looksmaxxingcurry to looksmaxxing [link] [comments]

Friday Spotlight: RunningPT_Lauren

It's been a busy week! I'm pretty happy that it's FRIIIIIIIIIDAY! Today's featured athlete has been making herself known in the subreddit by hopping into threads and providing information to runners due to her expertise as physical therapist. She's been pretty knowledgeable thus far and I'm excited to see what else she has to offer as the community grows. With that said, let's get to it and see who we're shining the Spotlight on today. Ladies and gentlemen... RunningPT_Lauren.
Let's do this!

The Runner:

First Name?
Where are you from?
Originally from Massachusetts, currently in NYC
Sports and Orthopedic Physical Therapist

Running Q&A's:

What are your PR’s?
Marathon: 3:49:50 (I have run 2 marathons- the third is this year) Half Marathon: 1:47:02 (I have run 3 halfs) 10k 49:18 (only run one) 5 mile: 37:37 (I have run two 5-mile races)
What is your distance PR?
26.2 miles
What’s your highest recorded weekly mileage?
~40-45 miles. I find that I run better with less mileage, and as a PT who often stresses the importance of rest and cross training, it is rare that I run more than four days a week.
What’s your comfy pace?
Typically 8:15-8:24 depending on the day
How long have you been running?
Since 8th grade
Tell us why you began running?
My Dad challenged my brother, sister, and I to start running the fall of my 8th grade year. I’m wicked competitive, so I grabbed my Discman (yep…) and ran around the block. I did it again the next day, and it was easier, so I was hooked. I ran track and field in high school, originally as a way to stay in shape for soccer. Then, because I tore my ACL and could not play soccer. I did not run track in college, because I did not like the pressure. I ran my first marathon my sophomore year of college. Now, it is a part of me. I find it relaxing, and invigorating at the same time.
Most memorable running moment?
I did not yet mention that running my first marathon was because of a bet I made in college, while imbibing in a few beverages. A classmate bet I would not and could not run Boston Marathon, because I did not have a number and would have to start training the very next day to even have a hope of gaining the endurance needed to finish. Long story short, I started training, earned a number (though luck, fundraising, and a local running club), and passed him on the course.
Do you have a running mantra?
Usually it’s “Just get through this next mile. I can always run a mile.” Otherwise, it’s typically me yelling the lyrics to Smashmouth’s All-Star in my head (pretty much the only song I somehow remember all the lyrics to).
What time of day do you prefer to run?
Early morning, but I work starting at 7 so most days that’s not possible.
Any big races coming up?
Chicago 2017! It is my third marathon, but the last one was in 2013. I work closely with the New York Road Runners and am present at a lot of their events, and at the NYC Marathon last year I felt major FOMO, so I began to train again.
What are your short-term running goals?
To continue using the training program I created, and kick butt in Chicago!
What are your long-term running goals?
Honestly, to just continue running and enjoying it. Super secretly, I would eventually like to qualify for Boston, but I am nervous, and not sure if aiming for this goal would take the joy out of my running, or add too much stress. I love my running as it is, and it took a lot of courage for me to even start running with a Garmin.
What’s one piece of running advice you’d give to the younger version of yourself?
Lean into those hills and relax on the down hills. Above all, continue to breathe.
What is something you need to work on to become a better runner?
There are a lot of things. I need patience, persistence, becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable, and to stop stalling after work before going out for my workouts (it drives my husband crazy) I am a professional staller.
What is your current shoe choice?
Brooks Ravenna
Trail? Road? Track? Or Treadmill?
Road, unless I have a show to binge watch, then treadmill. My distance PR on the treadmill is 10 miles.
What is your ideal running weather?
Temperature around 60 degrees, partly sunny with a nice breeze. Ideally, I would be running by the ocean.
Do you have any social media accounts you’d like to share? [Facebook, Strava, Twitter]
You can follow my husband and I on Instagram at RiccardiRunningPT. We post exercises and other tips so that runners can feel good and run better.

Just For Fun:

What’s your spirit animal?
Probably a horse. According to the very scientific website I looked at to help me determine this ( “The horse symbolizes personal drive, passion and appetite for freedom. Among all the spirit animals, it is one that shows a strong motivation that carries one through life.” That sounds like me, with running and otherwise.
What hobbies and interests do you have besides running?
I enjoy nerding out reading recent physical therapy research, working my way through the NY Times Best Sellers list, spending time with my family, hiking, and drinking wine.
Do you have any hidden talents?
I have an affinity for winning the online ticket lotteries to see Broadway shows. In NYC, you can enter lotteries for last minute tickets, and I have won five in the past 9 months…yes, including Hamilton. (It was awesome)
Biggest pet peeve?
In running: waiting for my Garmin to connect with satellite. In life: a lack of respect or rudeness. Everyone deserves common kindness.
Dream job! What would it be?
Physical therapist for a New England sports team…or to somehow be present at the finish line of every Boston Marathon from here to eternity.
Favorite Quote or Poem?
“She believed she could, so she did” –R.S. Wilder
What is your favorite movie?
Remember the Titans I watch every time it’s on. Either that, or any Harry Potter movie. My husband and I are obsessed. We started dating in PT school by watching those movies at night, after studying. Nerdy? Absolutely.
What is your biggest character flaw?
I struggle with anxiety and am over-sensitive. I take things to heart, and can’t stop thinking about them. Running helps.
What songs have you been listening to recently?
I listen to Bruce Springsteen “Born to Run” at least once a workout, as homage to my dad.
What are some of your favorite non-running subreddits?
animalsbeingbros, aww, childrenfallingover

One Last Question:

What is the origin of your username?
Well this is easy! My name is Lauren, and I am a running PT looking to help out the Reddit running community, along with my husband (to be fair, it was his idea. He also introduced me to Reddit. Hi, Mike! Am I Reddit-ing right?!),
That's it folks! Have a great weekend and enjoy the miles.

Thanks for reading everyone!

Please tag RunningPT_Lauren when asking a question in this thread.

Previously Featured Spotlight Runners:
Palindrome27 A-german-muffin xfkirsten PepperoniFire rennuR_liarT
Santa Claus Brwalkernc Pinkpiggie Fobo911 Kinsibit
Jaime_manger Craigster38 Despoena Philpips Brunchweasel
Chickensedan Skragen Incster Freedomweasel Jennifer1911
RedKryptonite Zebano Kevin402can Punkrock_runner ProudPatriot07
Once_a_hobby_jogger Loratliff 57001 Borichu Denovosibi
Causticwonder Dirtybritch TheRedInTheSky Aewillia Judyblumereference
Flocculus El_day2 YourShoesUntied Jeade-en Kyle-Kranz
ItsReallyReallyTrue Jangle_Bo_Jingles RichieClare sloworfast RobotPettingZoo
Runwichi Smruttkay Sacamato Kibitzor Edge767
BrianOgilvie Cromagnonized c0me_at_me_br0 Some_Other_Sherman Caitlionator
Ahf0913 Vermilionweirdo NonReligiousPopette JonnyHydra LadyMasterChemist
Polgara19 Mamabear5678 Octopifungus Barnaby_McFoo Zazzera
DAHarlow IamShartacus Mayfest Brotherbock ThePsion
Zwingtip JKrusas Usho TripleBogey25 GreatDeku
SheSaidGoodBye LeastBadOption Josandal Docbad32 Mattack73
Tipsy_Topsy SecretSexBot TheReelKanyeWest Anbu1538 Marximumrunner
OblongPlatypus Beardedtrogon TheOnlyCaveat Stan_Leeway RunningPT_Lauren
???????????? ???????????? ???????????? ???????????? ????????????
???????????? ???????????? ???????????? ???????????? ????????????


I've been getting some more messages recently from a lot of people asking to be featured in the Friday Spotlight Thread. My response to them is the same every time. I do not get to personally choose who is chosen for each thread. With exception to Palindrome27 (which I randomly chose to get this started), every runner thus far has been selected by the person before them. It's one of the perks of getting nominated. There is no list of names. No spreadsheet with columns of people. Nothing. So for those confused, users like Philpips was chosen by Despoena. Despoena was chosen by Craigster38. So on and so on. You get the idea. Doing it this way eliminates the hassle of having to personally pick someone every week. This keeps me neutral. Some of you have expressed your opinion (via PM) on who's been featured this far claiming that I have only chosen runners who are fast, have been running for a while, or compete in longer distance races. Quite frankly, you're wrong. Just browse the table of previous athletes above and you'll see that a wide variety of runners have been on display. Being chosen is simply luck of the draw. There is zero favoritism here. Each featured runner gets to personally pick someone they find interesting. I apply no pressure to the runners to pick a particular skill level of runner. This is the beauty of the process. If you want to be featured, you can up your chances of being chosen by being an active member of the subreddit. Comment as much as possible. Submit quality content. Provide as much as you can as a runner to help keep this community growing and I'm certain your efforts will not go unnoticed. Just keep tuning in and making friends and eventually it'll pay off if you want to be featured. Thank you.
submitted by YourShoesUntied to running [link] [comments]

The true Story of Brandon Lang- For those of you who buy picks.

I saw this posted at another site and figured I would copy and paste it, Brandon Lang had a movie made about him starring Al Pacino and Matthew McConaughey
Yes, for those of you who have been around a couple decades, the New York City company that Brandon Lang worked for was the disgraced company that was run by Stu Feiner.
No, this was not a movie that was paid/produced for by BIG Hollywood. The movie was made by an off-shore sports book.
Let's get to the "name thing". In the movie, they said his real name was Brandon Lang and when he went on to work for the boiler room Stu Feiner outfit, he was given a "power name" (John Anthony), just like all the scam outfits have always done.
His real Name is Brandon Link. During the first draft of the movie, they were using Brandon Long before settling on Brandon Lang. The irony is, after the movie came out, Brandon Link parlayed the hype and went into the handicapping business and now calls himself Brandon Lang.
There is a hint in the credits, for Brandon has a very short cameo appearance near the beginning of the movie. At the end of the film, he is credited as: Man Greeting Brandon #1 --- BRANDON LINK!
The story is related by Brandon Lang/Long/Link (Matthew McConaughey) who begins life as a sports hero and just at the moment when he is ready to break in to the Pro Football domain, he fractures his leg in a winning touchdown.
Noooooooooooooo, Brandon Lang/Lane/Link/Long was NOT a star college football quarterback that brought his team to a major Bowl game only to get injured in the final minutes. Think about it, did you ever hear his name? We all recognize the QB's that are in major bowl games. Hell, if you are a skeptic, just do a Google search!
He did hurt his knee though. You ask how? It was in a basketball pickup game that was being played at a local fitness center! The league was called THE SPORTING HOUSE LEAGUE. The name of the fitness center is The Sporting House. It's a few steps below a park district league.
There's a hilarious side story to Brandon's "injury story". Late last year, a college football writer telephoned Brandon Lang/Lane/Link/Long and told him that he's never heard of him and asked what college team he took to the bowl game. Brandon was caught off guard, but being the pathological liar he is, he came up with an amazing lie AGAIN! He copped to the fact that he never quarterbacked a bowl team and that indeed, he injured his knee in a fitness center league. He went on to claim that one day, UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian stopped by to watch a game (yeah, right) and that Coach Tarkanian told Brandon that he was good enough to be a walk-on for UNLV! By the way, that was during the hey days of the UNLV program and their National Championship run.
Want another lie? Sure you do! Was Brandon Lang/Lane/Link/Long a Las Vegas handicapper? Hell no! BLLLL was not a sports handicapper, or even a telemarketing salesman. He was a score phone announcer working for a major Las Vegas sports handicapping service. He was working for $6.00 an hour for a company that you know all about. (Hint: Initials of the owner are JF__ ) This major Las Vegas handicapping service is still going strong and you can see their sports handicapping INFOMMERCIAL Saturday mornings on cable TV. I know that you can fill in the blanks!
So, since he was NOT a handicapper, and had no reputation at all in the industry, how did he hook up with scamdicapper Stu Feiner?
Brandon's manager (at J__ F____ Sports) had many conversations with this infamous New York sports handicapper (Stu Feiner) that Al Pacino plays. The supervisor's job was to try to sell Stu Feiner 900 # score phone advertising and Brandon “The Wonder Boy” score phone announcer would read “Mr. New York's” advertising copy, or sometimes Feiner would call into Las Vegas to do a live feed. So, that's how the two of them first got together. After liberal tipping and spiffing, Feiner eventually convinced “Wonder Boy” to come New York and work for him. He just needed a guy for voice talent work.
The real truth about what happened at Stu Feiner's service is that Brandon Lang/Lane/Link/Long was such a failure at selling games (yep, he was one of those sports service salesmen that would tell you anything they could to get a buck from you), that he lost his job and became a caddie at a Los Angeles Country Club. Jim Feist would not rehire him. Due to his obvious narcissism, he liked talking so much about himself and stretching the truth to the men that he washed balls for that one hollywood-type believed him and searched for a way to get enough money to make the film.
Nobody bought it. Then, BoDog, an offshore sportsbook put up the money to pay for the film! Brandon Lang/Lane/Link/Long and BoDog made a business deal and they were marketing the relationship big time until they realized that the potential consumer to Brandon's picks (he was advising his members to use BoDog), would figure it out. The deal with BoDog gave Brandon Lang/Lane/Link/Long a kickback of the money that his clients lost when betting at BoDog! Why would BoDog want Brandon's action if he was winning?
Are we having fun yet?
Let's explore documented facts and the odds of betting on the outcome of events.
In the film, Brandon Lang goes 12 for 12 in his first try at handicapping the weekend. Let's examine this. According to the Las Vegas Gaming Commission (whose job it is to keep an eye on such things), in the history of football parlay card betting, NOBODY has ever won 12 for 12 on a football parlay card! Imagine how many thousands has tried? The odds of going 12 for 12 is a staggering 4894-1 against the bettor. An interesting note that is also on the Gaming Commission's historical report is that nobody has ever hit 12 for 12 on a Keno card in the history of betting despite hundreds of millions trying. According to the LVGC, the real odds of hitting 15 for 15 on a Keno card is 0.0000000000023 and it pays off $100,000 although the real odds are more than 51 billion to one against the bettor!So, are you ever going to grab a Keno card again?
So, what exactly was going on at Stu Feiner's company, the firm that employed BLLLL?
According to a comprehensive Sports Illustrated Story titled, "1-900-RIPOFFS", Abusing customers is SOP among sports advisers. "Gamblers are desperate people," says Arnie Wexler, executive director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey.
SI took a two-month test drive through the world of sports advisory services and found misleading ads, bait-and-switches, repeated claims of fixes coming down, misrepresentation of records, unforgivably high-pressured sales techniques, phone harassment, phone threats, phony guarantees, mail fraud, wire fraud and some perfectly dreadful manners. Even the pictures lied.
In investigating Feiner's tactics, an inspector for the Consumer Affairs Department called one of Feiner's 800 numbers to take him up on an offer of a free line on a game during the 1989 football season. The investigator spoke with a man known as Sonny Greco, also known as Phil Bonvino, a salesman for Stu Mitchell's Locker Room Report, still another service owned by Feiner. After a breathless, oath-laden pause-free speech, Greco went for the close. His pace was furious. The detective, posing as a customer named Stan, balked. Greco screamed louder.
Here is the audio taped conversation: Stan: I'm being bombarded here. Lemme think on it. I got a lot of guarantees here. Sonny: I'm not interested in anybody else you're call., Stan! The difference here is this, OK? We own this game tonight on oveunder! We own this information. Now go get your credit card, and let's start making money! You don't need to deal with anybody but me! Stan: Wait� Sonny: I own this game in oveunder! I have the winner! Tonight! No what's your credit card number? Stan: OK, lemme get back to you. Sonny: Stan, you're not going to call me back! You know it as well as I do, and if you think I'm going to let you off the phone with that ___, you're crazy! OK? I've got the winner tonight! I own this game in over-under, and I'm going to own your bookmaker's ass! So get your credit card out and let's get going! Stan: Lemme tell you what we're gonna do. I'm gonna think about it. Sonny (louder still): Stan, there's nothing to think about! Click. Greco is ruthless, loud and scary. No wonder Feiner has given him his own sports service-Phil Bonvino's Locker Room Report. Says a former phone tout for a large Long Island service, "There were plenty of times when we'd tell a guy, 'Look, if you don't come across, I'm gonna tell your wife you're gambling again.' Or we'd tell high school kids that we were going to tell their parents." Says the ex-salesman for Kevin Duffy, "We'd call up anybody, even guys we knew were going to Gamblers Anonymous. We'd stay on them." Question: How do sports advisers get away with it? Better question: Who are customers supposed to complain to? Gamblers don't want to turn anybody in because most of them are breaking the law themselves. As a result, the touts go unpoliced. Soon clients got a clue and stopped paying. That's when the people from the Seasons Edge group "got heavy-handed," says Robert Schroeder of the office of the US Attorney in Atlanta. "They'd threaten to kill members of the family, burn down their homes." One victim was told if he didn't send more money, he'd be "chopped up into little tiny pieces with a chain saw." Gamblers were bilked out of $413,000 before a victim's parents finally called the FBI when their son, a college student, lost his tuition money and resorted to using his father's credit card to try to obtain his "refund." Schroeder nailed conspiracy, wire fraud and extortion convictions on 12 people. They got the full package sentences ranging up to 87 months in jail.
It is also a business in which profits can be enormous, some services are believed by at least one close observer of the industry to make as much as $1 million annually. Last year the people at the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs looked into the advertising practices of the sports adviser business and came away with their hair on end. "These have been among the most egregious, outrageous claims we've ever encountered," says a department attorney, Fred Cantor.
Get this story!
"I remember once a guy needed a bailout game real bad," says a former salesman for a major tout operating out of New York City. "He was buried, so he wanted to put two or three dimes [$2000 or $3000] down on something good. I said I had a lock for him. I put him on hold, and I went into my boss's office and I said, 'Who do you want to pick, the Jets or Minnesota?' And he said, 'Take Minnesota. My mom likes purple.' So I gave this poor sucker Minnesota based on some lady's favorite color. He lost." Ripoffs Rule the Roost.: "The Source", a sports adviser service in Farmingdale, NY, owned by Stu Feiner, who also owns a few 900 call-in lines. Another exhibit is Feiner's brother-in-law, the aforementioned Kevin Duffy, perhaps the nation's most successful scamdicapper, who became famous for running ads that said, "I will go 7-0 for you today, absolutely free." Too bad "absolutely free" meant you first had to sign up for a month's service at $350. Then, if Duffy didn't go 7-0 in the first week, you got the next month free. Duffy, who operates out of Massapequa, Long Island, also claimed to be no worse than 75% right, ever. Yet when his picks were audited by the Sports Monitor of Oklahoma City, one of the rare legitimate monitors (among the dozens of such outfits that purport to keep tabs on the performance of tout services), he never fared better than 58.8% in any regular football season between 1985 and 1988, and he sank as low as 39.7% for his college picks in 1987. Eventually the Sports Monitor refused to monitor Duffy because of his "deceptive ad practices." Stu Feiner agreed to be monitored by SI for four weeks in September. To his credit, he unfailingly gave us his choices. To his discredit, Feiner went 19-32, a 37% win rate, and lost us an imaginary $6,210 based on $100 per unit. During that same period, we were anonymously calling Feiner's 800 number, where, curiously, he claimed to be cleaning up. On Sept. 23, for instance, after Feiner had gone 3-11 for the week on his picks for SI, bringing his record for us to 11-25, one of his shills, Kenny Leeds, said in response to our anonymous call, "This week I [meaning the company] went 3-0, the week before, I was 3-1." On Oct. 3, after Feiner had gone 7-7 for the weekend, we again called anonymously and got another Feiner salesman, Larry Marco. "This past weekend, we swept the board," Marco said. Then Leeds called back. "This kid Feiner is making betting history," he said.
Yeah, so did Art Schlichter!
For you youngsters, Art Schlichter was a first round draft choice (DUDE HAD MAJOR SKILLS) as a quarterback coming out of Ohio State in 1982; what's more, he enjoyed an image so wholesome his biography was titled Straight Arrow. But Schlichter gambled away his $350,000 signing bonus during his rookie season with the Baltimore Colts. He was suspended and reinstated the next year, after declaring he had the disease of compulsive gambling for which he had gotten help. In 1985, he was cut by the Colts and never played football again. If success started Schlichter's addiction, failure really fueled it. In 1988 he declared bankruptcy, referring frequently to his disease. Schlichter's ex-wife, Mitzi Schlichter, helped found the Custer Gambling Treatment Center in Indianapolis after she left her husband in 1994. Schlichter, meanwhile, has spent four of the six years since then in prison. In 1997, he was pulled out of a court-ordered gambling treatment program and hauled back to jail when he was caught betting. Schlichter is currently awaiting trial on money laundering charges and stealing ************, all revolving around taking money, often from family members, in order to gamble. Schlichter takes no responsibility for his misbehavior — and, despite harping on his disease and although his wife created her own gambling treatment center, Schlichter has never shown any inclination to fly straight.
Feiner was fined $13,000 in February 1990 by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs for false and misleading advertising, yet he sent out a promotional brochure last month that reported a "1991 documented record college and pro: 9-3." Knowing Feiner's record as we did, we asked him how he could say this. "That's what I had the first week." he said, before you started documenting me." Fine. That would've been the weekend of Aug. 31-Sept. 2. The booklet, however, was dated Sept. 19-Oct. 7, 1991. During one of our anonymous calls, Leeds told us he had "strong information" on a game he wanted us to buy, so strong it was a dead mortal lock, so strong that he was putting $2000 of his own money on the game. We were dubious.
Here's the audio taped conversation: Leeds: You don't believe me? I'll fly you out here [from Colorado]. SI: Fly me out there? Leeds: I'll fly you to __ Long Island, and I'll have you take a ride with me! SI: Why? Leeds" To see how I pick it [his winnings] up and where I pick it up from. SI: Can you fly me out this week? Leeds: What I'm saying is�I'm using that's a little bit of a mild exaggeration. Don't get me wrong, but I've met a lot of my clients. I've met Dan Marino. SI: You know Dan Marino? Leeds: Well, I stood next to him at the Super Bowl, and my friend took my picture with him. Feiner says that if somebody calls his 800 number and doesn't sign up, "We'll call him every day for a couple months, because eventually they'll change their minds.
"Mike Warren (real name Mike Laskey - a degenerate horse bettor who was run out of business by the United States Attorney and fined heavily) is a former pathetic handicapper and a tremendous con artist," says Feiner. Says Warren, "Stu Feiner? He's got a big mouth, always talking big. He knows this hoodlum and that hoodlum-gonna break my legs. You know what? He can't break an egg. I gave him my address. He's so short, the only thing he can reach is my legs." Mike Warren was ordered by The United States District Attorney to run major advertisements in which he had to admit his frudulent claims of success.
If you think guys like Feiner and Warren will make you wish you have never installed your phone, Atlanta's John L. Edens, alias Johnny DeMarco, the Babe Ruth of 900 sales pitchers, will make you wish Alexander Graham Bell had never been born. According to published ads and SPORTS ILLUSTRATED taped phone calls, Edens:
Got on his 800 line and told listeners to call his 900 line for $25, "and if the game loses, there'll be no charge." That, of course, is a lie. Once a call is made on a 900 line, the charge is automatic.
Scripts at the a New York based sports service? Yep, The New York Consumer Affairs Commission got their hands on one! It will frighten you.
Here it is:
It read: "I'm glad I got ahold of you in time! We are releasing our biggest information game of the ____ (month/season) going off ___ (day of week). Now, ___ (name), listen carefully. Our inside sources have tipped us off to this game. We know exactly what's going to happen. We know the winner. (Lower voice) It's the kind of game I can't even talk about over the phone-you follow me, right? (Response) OK Good�All you gotta do is cover me with $___ How do you do it, **** or **********?"
The fix scam is essential to a tout's repertoire. "You'd lower your voice way down," says one employee who worked for this company for four years, "and you'd say, 'Is this line clean? No taps on it, right? OK Listen, we've got information on this game. you know what I'm saying? The winner of this game was already decided in a hotel room."
"You'd be talking with grown men who were crying on the phone," says one former tout Stu Feiner salesman "Guys who were losing everything but still betting. And I'd lie awake in the middle of the night hoping the guy would win. So I'd call the sports phone and get a late West Coast game at 4 a.m. and go, 'Damn, he lost again."
"It was like feeding drugs to an addict," says the ex-salesman. "We'd try to take whoever we got and make them bet more. We'd take college kids who were betting $25 and say, 'Hey, you got to bet $500 on this game. If you don't bet a nickel I'm not gonna give it to you.' If they won, they got a taste for big money. If they lost, they were desperate to get out [of the hole], and so they start chasing. How can anyone who works for Kevin and Stu have a conscience? Basically, I was just hurting people." And that, unfortunately, is the only absolute lock SPORTS ILLUSTRATED found.
Here's a recent publication about BLLLL: We figured we'd check in with handicapping schizo Brandon Lang/Lane/Link/Long to see how he’s been doing since Two For The Money tanked at the box office, completely shattering any hopes for him elevating his career past that of an internet free pick hustler. Well, from the looks of it, the movie bombing may have rattled the golden boy's cage a bit as he stated in his open letter to his “clients” this month about his recent 1-12 (That’s ONE WIN AND TWELVE losses! He wrote on his own site: “You see the records above. I can't be any more honest, any more truthful. I've never been a guy who hid his losers, because like I say, if I can brag about the winners, I've got to own up to the losers. I've owned college football in October. I absolutely sucked in the NFL. Can't be more direct than that. As you know, and as you've heard me say on hundreds of radio interviews and on national TV, I don’t win everyday. Cant and won’t. Simple as that. Some days you have to give back to your man some of the money you won off of him. It happens. Always has, always will. The past two weeks I've been dreadful in the NFL. Not the first time, not the last. It’s a long season. There will be ups and downs. And that's why you've got always stay within your limits and follow my money management advice. Now, of course, for those of you that came aboard the past two Sundays or Mondays for the first time, what can I say other than I lost? I mean, I'm not going into your homes, ordering you to buy. And I have no control over when you buy for the first time. But, I certainly understand you're disappointed. And that's the nature of the business, and you know it as well as me. We win together, we lose together. And whether winning or losing, you expect the truth, and that's what I'm giving you. The past two weeks in the NFL were awful, but as I always say, if you're with me for the long haul, you should make money.
"This is a marathon, not a sprint, to make money.” Yes, those of you unfortunate enough to spend money on Brandon's services — $679 for 100 days — must be thrilled with that apology. Brandon Lang is the paid handicapping equivalent of Enron at this point. But those of us who are Brandon Lang fans can at least take solace in the fact that Two For The Money will most likely be seen on East Coast flights to Vegas in the next couple weeks. ANOTHER DOCUMENTED STORY: "More of Brandon Lang’s Genius" Finally, we've happened upon some information about our friend Brandon Lang/Lane/Link/Long and his curious background that we think should finally allow us to rest our weary heads about this. A classmate of Brandon's from high school e-mailed us to give us the whole rundown on what's real, what's not, and what's ridiculous about the mysterious Mr. Lane/Lang/Link: Brandon Link: I went to high school with him; that's his real name. The Lane and Lang came later. He was a reserve player on his HS team, came off the bench, usually tried to do too much, fancy passes, etc. Could hit the outside shot, and was effective when he played under control, but he was no star. The claim in the article in his hometown paper that he was planning to walk on at UNLV after his stint in the Navy (before an injury sidelined him) led to a lot of chuckling. He couldn't start for a mediocre white boy HS team yet he was going to walk on at UNLV during the glory years? His pre-Internet gambling show was on PASS, a Detroit sports cable station. That's when he came up with the nickname “The King”. At his 10-year reunion he showed up in a car with the license “1-900-KING”. By the way, how's that for arrogance? At the reunion he drove up in that car, and one guy we know went up to him, pointed at the license, and said “1-900-KING? What is that, some +++ phone line?” Brandon was too shocked to respond. When I saw the movie trailer last week and saw a shot of that license, I cracked up. He wasn't a bad guy, just a blowhard who overestimated his abilities. It’s clear from his current PR blitz that that tendency is still there.
ANOTHER PUBLISHED STORY: "Brandon Lang/Lane/Link Fluffs McConaughey" Crazy-ass toutster Brandon Lang/Lane/Link, the sports handicapper whose life is retold in the box office clunker Two For The Money, took some time out from his busy schedule of promoting himself and making crappy picks to talk about Matthew McConaughey’s portrayal of him in the movie for, well, we guess his own website: “Matthew is a big sports fan and has been known to try his luck in the Vegas sportsbooks. In speaking to Matthew prior to shooting the movie, the dialogue in the script told him all he needed to know. The emotions that he had to draw to in order to play me were right there because he’s a sports bettor himself. I was thrilled to death with how Matthew played me in the movie and the roller coaster ride he takes viewers on properly portrays what I went through. One of the greatest compliments I've ever received in my life came from Matthew, he said “Thank you for bringing me a character where I had to dig down and draw on the emotions that every actor dreams about. This was by far my most enjoyable role.” Aw…who has warm fuzzies? We hope “Matthew” enjoyed the crap out of this role because we're pretty sure his leading man stock dropped around 30 points in the eyes of Hollywood after another stinker.
Tout service guru and four-named evil genius Brandon Lane/Link/Lang/Long, whose story is being “retold” in Two For The Money has hooked up with omnipresent sportsbook Bodog for a special partnership and changed his name again in the span of 48 hours. In a press release Friday morning Bodog proudly gushes about their new partnership with Brandon LANG:
“Brandon Lang, the man who rocketed to fame as a sports handicapper, and, the company that revolutionized online entertainment, have teamed up. In an agreement signed earlier this week, Lang and Bodog will work in conjunction to build a dynamic Bodog presence on his website Brandon Lang . Lang is the subject of the Hollywood film Two for the Money, whose premiere was sponsored by Bodog.
“Teaming with Brandon Lang seemed like a natural for us,” says Bodog Founder and CEO Calvin Ayre. “We're very excited to be working with one of the most successful handicappers in the world.” Obviously, Lang's not-so-impressive record suggests he probably should not be the subject of a sports handicapping film. Apparently, superstud football picking phenom BLLLL has yet to recapture the magic touch of his youth which prompted the release of his life story on the big screen in the upcoming Two For the Money. So far this year, Lane's free picks have been rather ordinary to say the least. Brandon's free pick tally so far this year? 5-8-1. His pre-season picks? 0-3.
Could his poor record have anything to do with the time he's spending on a second career? A la Hollywood movie star? Having Matthew McConaughey play you in a film will most certainly go to anybody's head we are sure. ........................................ ..................
But then I found this little thing on IMDB. Here's the link, (pun intended!).
Two for the Money (2005)
Here is the LINK with his cameo/five second acting career!
Two for the Money (2005) - Full cast and crew
Apparently our buddy Brandon is also an aspiring actor. Or he may have thought the small, uncredited cameo role he played in Two For the Money deserved an IMDB mention. And be sure to check out the photo page, which appears to show a picture of Lang/Lane/Link/Long dressed in some sort of pajama outfit standing in a family room with a deranged look on his face. We hope that's his family room and not some random family whose home he invaded.
And whose head hasn’t exploded yet? They ask. Jesus Christ. If this does not make blood squirt out of your eyes, what will?
First there was the unreserved excitement of Brandon “Lane” and his web page at Big Green Machine, which openly complains about the fact that the name was changed to “Lang” in the movie: “Funny thing - they changed by name to Brandon “Lang” for “artistic” purposes. Damn if I know what that means, but it’s still me no matter how they spell my last name!”
Then in the Lansing State Journal there is nice fluff piece about Midland, Michigan native Brandon “Link” and his experience about having a movie made about his life.
Then there was the IMDB (Internet Movie Database) page he made for himself under Brandon “Link” because of his stirring uncredited role in Two For The Money.
And now we have Bodog partnering with Brandon Lang, replete with a spanking new website for Brandon Lang with no acknowledgment anywhere of the fact that this man is out of his ****ing skull.
ANOTHER DOCUMENTED PUBLICATION WROTE - "Brandon Lane: Enjoying 15 Minutes More Intensely Than Most"
Friday marks the nationwide opening of the Matthew McConaughey, Al Pacino gambling drama Two For the Money, loosely based on the life of former superstud handicapper Brandon Lane. Lane was a former college football player who turned his freakish ability to pick football games into a lucrative career for a tout service. Well, Brandon has himself a website and from the looks of it, he’s really proud of himself and this movie coming out. He also appears to have a little problem with containing his own excitement, even in two paragraphs: People, just had the Vegas premiere last night and it was fantastic. The Palms gave me a great suite and the photo ops were fantastic. This is what I worked hard for and now its my time to turn it on. The Chargers on Sunday, Green Bay on Monday and now “75 Dime” winner #2 in a row goes tonight. I like this MAC game and will deliver a nice winner. October thru January have always been my months. I have won more in those months than any other month. Not by accident but by design. I watch, I see, I adjust and I win. Your job is to jump on board, ride me and win money. It is in this run that you will see why they decided to make a movie about me. Nobody else, but me. Over the long haul, I will make you money. Sometimes in the midst of your losing streak, you don’t think so but this business is not about a day, a week or a month. It is about the year. You roll with me and you are not only a customer today, I want you for life. I want you part of my family. You give me that chance to earn you money and together, we will own your man. Lets own him tonight. Well, that's a little ****ing insane. Anybody else want to bump chests or break a chair over somebody's head? But if you were wondering Two For the Money opens Friday. It’s based on Brandon's life. Jump on him and ride him to the money or something. It'll be fantastic.
And so it goes...There's a sucker born every minute.
One last point..A quote from BLLLL's website that will tell you all that you need to know. "Listen, they only make movies about winners - and that's me!"
How many movies have you seen about losers? Gosh, just last night, I was watching Nick Cage's "Leaving Las Vegas". Was he a winner? The list could go on all day!
ANY QUESTIONS? No thanks. Please cease calling our office to have one hour conversations about this DOCUMENTED FRAUD. Soon, the hype will be forgotton and BLLLL will be washing men's balls again.
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