Top 5 TV Comedies

There has never been a better time to be a fan of TV comedies. Maybe I really should not be calling them “TV” comedies anymore, right, considering you can watch on your phone these days. On second thought, I really should not be calling it a “phone” anymore, either, considering you can watch TV on it. Wait, what? Let’s just move on. Here are the top 5 comedies on “TV” today:

1) “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” – If TV comedies had a Hall of Fame, this show would get in on the first ballot. From social satire, to over-the-top insanity, Sunny amazingly continues to blaze new trails going on their 11th season. This show is not for the faint of heart, but good comedy rarely is. Watch at your own risk.

2) “Nathan For You” – The label, “comedy genius,” gets thrown around far too often, but when it comes to Nathan Fielder, it is truly accurate. Watching Fielder pull off his absurd stunts, in order to “help” small businesses, leaves the audience in what I can only describe as an “hilarious awe.” A master of deception, Fielder always has one more trick up his sleeve just when you think you have seen it all.

3) “Impractical Jokers” – The best marathon show on TV. Nothing to do on a lazy Sunday afternoon? How about laughing your ass off for three straight hours, while watching four guys cleverly try to embarrass each other on the streets of New York. The key to the show is the genuine, lifelong friendship between the guys, and before long, it is easy to feel like you are just one of the gang.

4) “Real Husbands of Hollywood” – Do not be turned off by the horrible title, this show is a true gem. It mixes the best elements of shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and various mockumentaries, with Kevin Hart’s style and humor. The result is a resounding, outrageous success. Do yourself a favor, and watch this show.

5) “The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret” – The most underrated show on TV. Criminally underrated. Seriously, if you are a fan of comedy, and have not devoured the two, six episode seasons on Netflix yet, you should be arrested. The first season aired in 2009 and the second season aired in 2012. Season 3 is scheduled to come out in January. I can only assume the three-year gap between seasons is because absolutely nobody has heard of this show. Which is odd, because it stars David Cross and Will Arnett, of Arrested Development fame. Come to think of it, maybe these guys are just destined to star in great shows that get noticed after they are already cancelled … maybe that can be what their next show is about. Either way, in order for Todd Margaret to not go the way of Arrested Development, do them a favor, and watch this show.

Honorable Mentions: Inside Amy Schumer; Episodes; Grace and Frankie; Master of None; F is for Family.

By Michael Halpern

Alen Hanson, 2016 Fantasy Prospect Sleeper

Alan Henson. Alen Henson. Alan Hanson … ALEN HANSON! You are excused if you are never able to spell his name quite right. I am pretty sure his name is meant as one of those mental twister games. Google has completely given up on me. They do not even ask me, “did you mean Alen Hanson,” anymore, they just know what I meant. But you are not excused for forgetting about Hanson in your upcoming prospect, or keeper league drafts.

Hanson broke out for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2012, as a 19-year-old in Single-A. He triple-slashed, .309/.381/.528, with 16 homers and 35 steals. ranked him the 54th best prospect in baseball the following season. But Hanson’s numbers have been far less eye-popping the last three years, as he continued to climb the minor league ladder. His position has also been downgraded from SS, to 2B. He fell in’s prospect rankings to #67 in 2014, and then #92 in 2015. Which makes now the perfect time to buy.

The opportunity is there for Hanson to secure the starting 2B job right out of the gate. The Pirates starting 2B for the last six years, Neil Walker, was traded to the New York Mets earlier this month. Jung Ho Kang’s availability for the start of next season is uncertain, as he is still recovering from surgery, after tearing his meniscus and breaking his tibia last season. This leaves Josh Harrison to play 3B, Jordy Mercer to play SS, and Hanson to play 2B to begin the 2016 season.

Even when Kang returns, there will be plenty of at-bats to go around. Last season, Kang played 77 games at 3B and 60 games at SS. Harrison played 72 games at 3B, 37 games at 2B, and 22 games in the OF. In the minors, Hanson played 111 games at 2B and 7 games at 3B. He also played 370 games at SS in his minor league career. In other words, the Pirates will find ways to keep Hanson in the line-up if he is playing well. There is even a small chance he plays enough at SS, or 3B, to gain eligibility there during the season. (Update: Despite a strong Spring, Pittsburgh decided to send Hanson back down to the minors for more seasoning.)

So, what kind of numbers can we expect from Hanson in 2016 and beyond? His huge 2012 season shows his considerable potential and raw talent. Taking a deeper look at those “down” seasons from 2013-2015, things really don’t look that bad. His walk and strikeout rates remained relatively stable (about 7% and 17%, respectively), even as his competition improved each year. He has been younger than his competition at every level. He also played in leagues, and home ballparks, that favor the pitcher. Last season was his best in terms of steals, as he stole 35 bases at Triple-A, being caught only 12 times.

At his peak, all of this points to a player who projects to hit about .280, with 12-14 homers and 25 steals. Easily a top 10 2B option for fantasy. I would not expect Hanson to reach those lofty goals in 2016, but if he even comes close, nobody will forget how to spell his name again.

By Michael Halpern


“Michael Halpern, please report to the TSA station. Michael Halpern to the TSA station,” comes blaring over the JFK airport loud speaker system.

My ears perk up, as I sit at Gate 25 waiting to board the plane to West Palm Beach, Florida to visit my parents. Oh shit, did they really just announce my name over the loud speaker system? And they want me to report to TSA?

Beads of sweat start to form on the top of my forehead. My mind starts to race. They clearly want to give me some kind of rectal exam, checking for drugs, right? Or, at the least, they are going to strip search me. Maybe they are going to put me in a small, windowless, fluorescent room, leave me alone for hours, and then come in and fire questions at me until I break. Or until I’m so worn down and confused I would be willing to admit to anything.

I am definitely going to miss my flight now. Maybe even worse, this could be my last moments as a free man. They are going to ship me off to Guantanamo Bay! They don’t even need evidence to throw you in Guantanamo! They will put a black bag over my head, and my family will never see or hear from me again. I should call my family and tell them I love them one more time, before it is too late!

I tentatively leave my gate, and start to walk over to TSA. Dead man walking! I have no drugs on me. I am not a terrorist. But I have seen the Youtube videos! TSA agents can do whatever they want!

The TSA station appears up ahead. My worries quickly turn into a full on panic as I approach the agents at the desk. “Um, I think I heard my name announced over the loud speaker,” I am barely able to croak out.

The agent menacingly looks me up and down. He begins to reach down towards his hip. His hand appears from below the desk, with a plastic bag. “Sir, I think you dropped your ID at the security checkpoint,” the agent said, as he reaches into the bag and hands my ID back to me.

“Thanks man,” I blurt out, with a huge sigh of relief on my face. “I really appreciate it. Keep up all the good work you guys do!”

By Michael Halpern

NFL Running Back Roulette

In what can only be described as a big win for feminism, Christine Michael finally took hold of the Seattle Seahawks lead back role and … oh wait, Christine Michael is not a woman? Just a guy with a woman’s first name? Still, this should be considered some kind of half win, right? Either way, The Feminist led the way with 16 carries for 84 yards. The experts told you to pick up Bryce Brown, which should have had you scrambling to the waiver wire to pick up Michael, because the experts don’t know shit. Brown lagged behind with only 9 carries. The Feminist will be the preferred play next week vs. the St. Louis Rams.

If you missed out on The Feminist because you thought a woman just did not have the strength to be a starting NFL running back, which is reasonable, but also, shame on you, New England Patriots running back Brandon Bolden seemed to be the safer choice. After LeGarrette Blount got hurt last week, Bolden dominated the carries. He was the only between the tackles runner on the roster, in a game New England was sure to pound the football. But Bill Belichick does not only hate playing by the rules, he also hates your fantasy team. Joey Iosefa was signed off the practice squad the day before the game, and immediately out carried Bolden 14-10. Both players averaged 3.6 yards per carry, just in case you thought Belichick did it for any other reason than to piss you off. Bolden is not to be trusted next week vs. the New York Jets. Neither is Iosefa. And neither is Belichick, under any circumstance.

If you decided to stay away from Brown and Bolden yesterday, maybe you tested your luck with one of the Carolina Panthers running backs. In which case, it probably did not work out any better. Early in the week, the experts told you the easy handcuff for Jonathon Stewart all year, Cameron Artis-Payne, had been passed on the depth chart by Fozzy Whitaker. Then they said it could also be Mike Tolbert. And by the end of the week, they said it could be Artis-Payne after all. So the experts narrowed it down to one of the running backs on the roster. Thanks guys. Whitaker ended up with 2 carries, and Tolbert 5 carries. Artis-Payne led the way with 14 carries for 59 yards, adding 2 catches for 34 yards. If Stewart misses more time, Artis-Payne should continue to see the most carries, and is the preferred play next week vs. the Atlanta Falcons.

Tonight’s Monday Night Football game, the Detroit Lions vs. the New Orleans Saints, will have major fantasy football playoff implications for every league. The experts say New Orleans running back, Tim Hightower, is the best play tonight …

By Michael Halpern

Hidden Gem: Carl Schurz Park (and a little Nas)

With Nas’ song, “NY State of Mind,” blasting through my headphones, I stride through the open gates and down the boardwalk leading to the grounds of the Mayor’s backyard.

Bright orange sunlight is ripping through the clouds, bouncing off the gentle waves of the East River, and landing on the sleepy park that is just waking up. Birds dance and dive against this awe-inspiring backdrop, performing aerial stunts the Cirque du Soleil could only dream of.

With an imaginary music video playing out in my mind, I breath in the scene in front of me. Sitting on a bench to my right is a white-bearded man, dressed in a white linen shirt and pants, his long white hair overflowing out of his straw hat. He stares out at the East River with a ponderous look on his face, occasionally jotting down mysterious notes on the pad he holds in his hand.

A homeless man lies asleep on a bench to my left. A shopping cart sits next to him, full with the entirety of his life’s possessions. Fluorescent signs warning of fluoride in the water adorn the outside of the cart.

Suddenly a beautiful woman in full athletic gear whizzes right past me. The determined look on her face reveals she is ready to kick the day’s ass.

Up ahead, a few people are walking their dogs, others are riding their bikes, and even more are enjoying their morning coffee while reading the newspaper.

This is not the image most people conjure when they think about New York. But Carl Schurz Park is exactly the kind of hidden gem New Yorkers flock to when they want a break from the concrete jungle.

I take one last deep breath before I turn to walk back through the open gates, back into the city I call home. Nas’ voice comes exploding into my brain as the song nears its end, “Nothing’s equivalent, to the New York state of mind … New York state of mind.”

By Michael Halpern

Fantasy Football and Luck

Can we all just admit fantasy football is mostly luck? And by mostly, I mean like 99%. It makes betting on the coin toss at the Super Bowl look like a chess match.

We all pretend we are mini, fantasy Bill Belichick’s in our mind, but by the end of the season, it always comes down to whose ligaments are still attached, or which players can even still see straight.

In one fantasy league I’m in this year, my team is in the semifinals of the playoffs. In the other, I already finished second to last. So should I be patting myself on the back for my superior fantasy skills in one league, while scolding myself for not knowing crap about fantasy football in the other?

The reigning back-to-back champion in one league missed the playoffs this year. The team who made the finals three years in a row (winning one championship) from 2010-2012, finished dead last for the last three years, with a combined record of 6-33. What happened?

Even drafting Luck, could not guarantee luck would be on your side, as every Andrew Luck owner found out this year. Luck has been sidelined with a lacerated kidney for most of the season, injuries which one doctor described as, “not very common,” and similar to, “motor vehicle crashes or motorbike crashes.” Good luck trying to predict Luck would be so unlucky.

So if you find yourself curled up in the fetal position this Sunday after being eliminated from the playoffs, bemoaning the decision to bench (insert player here) who would have won you the week, take solace in the fact it was not your fault. It is just your fault for thinking you had anything to do with the outcome in the first place.

By Michael Halpern

Addicted to NFL RedZone

It felt so wrong. Like I was about to commit an act of treason.

I tried to rationalize it. It was the first week of the fantasy football playoffs. The football pick’em league I’m in with a few friends and family was coming down to the stretch run. My New York Jets were blowing out the Tennessee Titans 20-0.

So I did it. I turned off the Jets game in the 2nd quarter and turned on the NFL RedZone channel without looking back. I’m just a man.

RedZone is like the first weekend of March Madness, except with football, and it is on every Sunday for seventeen straight weeks. If crack cocaine was a TV show, this is what it would look like. Your previous relationships start to fall by the wayside, just to get some more of that RedZone.

It is no mystery how I got to this point. It started so innocently. I would flip to RedZone during commercial breaks, but would always be hyper-vigilant about getting back to the Jets game. It was never enough though. I started not minding if I missed a few plays here and there. Then all of a sudden I was missing entire drives! I no longer recognized the fan I had become.

I can’t deny it any longer. I am addicted to NFL RedZone. So please forgive me if I’m not chanting, “J E T S JETS! JETS! JETS!” next week after a big Jets touchdown, but am instead searching for the remote, muttering, “Redzone, Redzone, Redzone,” under my breath.

By Michael Halpern

Welcome to Imaginary Brick Wall!

Welcome to Imaginary Brick Wall!

At this point, you are probably thinking, “How and why did you come up with that website name?”

To that, I would answer, “A person usually has two reasons for doing something: a good reason and the real reason.”

A good reason is it represents striving to reach your goals despite the seemingly impossible hurdles in your way. I hoped it would inspire both myself and others when they read the name, even if just a little.

The real reason is my first fifteen choices were already taken, it was now going on hour three of trying to come up with the perfect name, and probably most of all, I was literally staring at the brick wall in my apartment at the moment.

What’s in a name, anyway? Am I right (or more like, was Shakespeare right)? Substance is what really matters, and that is what I hope to provide with this website. I will cover a wide range of topics, focused mostly on sports, but also mixed with some TV, movies, music and even random misadventures I may want to pass on along the way. Hope you enjoy and thanks for reading!

By Michael Halpern

Top 100 Fantasy Baseball Prospects

The 2016 top 100 fantasy baseball prospect rankings roll out has begun! You can find them here:

2016 Top 100 Fantasy Baseball Prospect Rankings: 1-100
2016 Top 100 Fantasy Baseball Prospect Rankings: 1-15January 28, 2016
2016 Top 100 Fantasy Baseball Prospect Rankings: 16-40January 29, 2016
2016 Top 100 Fantasy Baseball Prospect Rankings: 41-70February 1, 2016
2016 Top 100 Fantasy Baseball Prospect Rankings: 71-100 February 2, 2016