Friday, May 29, 2009

Playing The Infield

I spent my Memorial Day weekend doing what everyone in the Midwest should have been doing—sweating uncontrollably, walking more than any person should ever have to, and watching fast cars go around a big oval. I’m talking of course about going to the Indianapolis 500, otherwise known as “The Greatest Spectacle In Racing” (not to be confused with Lance Armstrong, who is known as “The Greatest Testicle In Racing”).

I realized this past weekend that, for the most part, I have taken the race for granted. Until I came to college, I had spent my entire life in the surrounding Indianapolis area, so the race was always around and was always shoved in my face. It took me moving to Ohio to completely appreciate what I left behind. Before I talk about my experience this past Sunday, though, I think it’s important to understand the different types of fans that come to the race. The way I see it, there are five types of fans at the track each and every Indy 500. They are as follows:

The Rich/Celebrity Fan

The Indy 500 attracts so many C and D list celebrities that if you aren’t completely paying attention, you might think you’re watching “Dancing with the Stars.” In the celebrity rundown section in The Indianapolis Star, you could find people like Jared Fogle, the “getting a stomach staple and claiming it was Subway was the best decision of my life” guy and Jay Bush, the “I have the most disobedient dog in the world” guy. It’s gotten to the point that I’m fairly confident if I get kicked out of the NFL and MLB drafts, they’ll let me drive the pace car next year. Really, it’s like these people come to the race because it’s the one weekend that they know they will be treated like A-listers and for that I really can’t be mad at them.

My good friend and former teammate Michael Conley (who is the starting point guard for the Memphis Grizzlies, for those of you who don’t know) rode to and from Indianapolis with me and on the way back to Columbus he described his Indy 500 experience. He talked about how a limo dropped him off right outside the track, bypassing the hundreds of thousands of fans who had to walk up to five miles. He told stories of finger foods and rubbing elbows with A.C. Slater in a suite overlooking the start/finish line. He spoke about men wearing tuxedoes and monocles, who were ready to serve at the snap of a finger. I calmly explained to him that he really didn’t go to the race at all. It’s like he was trying to make me puke.

The Diehard Fan

I know some of you are saying to yourself, “But I love John McClane. There’s no way he’s going to make fun of me for that, is there?” Relax. I’m not talking about that kind of diehard fan. I’m talking about the guy who has those radio headphones on so he can hear what’s going on while he’s watching what’s going on, and will probably at some point tell a female that he’s on the same frequency as Tony Kanaan’s team and can hear their strategy. This guy has every driver’s number and chief sponsor memorized, knows the series standings, and probably had a life at one point in time. Tragic, really.

I know the diehard fan better than I should because, well, I lived with one for 18 years. For as long as I can remember, my dad has loved NASCAR (totally different sport than Indy Car, he’ll tell you), which is surprising because he regularly wears a tie and isn’t afraid to comb his hair. He doesn’t have the radio headphones, but you can bank on it that every race he goes to he finds the guy that does and instantly becomes best friends with him. Unless he’s a Tony Stewart fan, in which case my dad will tell the guy that Tony Stewart caused the Holocaust and is the reason the economy sucks. My dad’s hatred for Tony Stewart runs so deep that he refused to set foot in a Home Depot while they sponsored Stewart and has since applied the same stipulation to Office Depot. I wish I were making this up. I can only pray, for his sake, that McDonald’s never decides to become the chief sponsor for Stewart. My dad and his daily Egg McMuffin breakfast would be faced with a rather serious crisis.

The Local/Regular Fan

If it weren’t for my experience last weekend (more on this later), I would consider myself a local/regular fan. These types come to the race because they either live within a half hour of the track or because they’ve been to every race for as long as they can remember. Most are a combination of both. These are the kinds of fans who make sure they buy the program as soon as they get there and are probably wearing the official Indy 500 t-shirt from 1995. If you ask them who they are cheering for, chances are they will say “either Arie Luyendyk or Al Unser Jr.” because they have no idea who is even in the race. And why should they? Who is in the race isn’t important. The fact that they are keeping a family tradition alive is.

The First Timer

The first time fans are the laughing stock of everyone at the race and are pretty easy to pick out. These are the people who are stunned by how much walking is involved and can be heard saying things like, “I had no idea it was going to be so hot.” These people are usually the ones who are shocked with how disgusting the restrooms are and don’t see what the big deal is about cars just going around in circles. Despite being told over and over by friends how intense the race actually is, the first time fan will always be surprised and will angrily ask their friends, “Why didn’t you tell me how intense the race actually is?” This question is usually answered with a firm punch to the face.

Finally, we have the race fan that is the backbone of the Indy 500, which is why I chose to be this type of fan on Sunday. The other four fan types are always jealous of this fan, because they will never have anywhere close to the same amount of fun as…

The Infield Fan

There are actually two infield sections during the 500. The turn two infield section is a family friendly area where kids can play freeze tag and trade Pokémon cards without worrying about hearing four letter words or seeing their first pair of headlights. The turn two infield is where mothers hand out juice boxes and tell their kids that Santa Claus can make it around the world in one night because his sleigh is faster than the cars on the track. I would say that the turn two infield is so boring that it’s not even funny, but that phrase insinuates that if there were a little less boredom, the turn two infield would actually be kind of humorous. And there’s nothing funny about seeing a father of two, five years removed from college frat parties, holding his wife in one hand and a bag full of wet wipes and animal crackers in the other.

Turn three, on the other hand, is a living example of every reason why I don’t want to ever have a daughter.

There’s a bit that Jim Gaffigan does about holidays that almost exactly captures the collective attitude of the turn three infield at the Indy 500. I’m fully aware that most of you are too lazy to click on the links, so I’ll just tell you that there’s a line in which he mocks how Americans rationalize their overeating during holidays. “I normally don’t have a burger, a brat, and a steak, but it is the Fourth of July…” In a similar manner, people in the infield have the attitude that “I usually wouldn’t bong three beers in a row while my pants are at my ankles, but this is the Indy 500…”

What makes the infield so special is that it’s impossible to watch the race. The track is two and a half miles around, so when you are standing 100 yards away from it, you can’t really see all that much. I didn’t know when the race started, I didn’t know who was leading at any point during the race, and I didn’t know when the race was over. Part of this was because I couldn’t see what was going on. But mostly I was just distracted by the behavior of everyone in the infield that surely would have made their parents proud.

I decided that if I was going to sit in the turn three infield, I should probably do my best to fit in. That’s why I wore a Budweiser tank top with jean shorts that were cut off just below the pockets and construction boots with high socks. By doing this, I could gain the trust of the people in the infield and get a comprehensive understanding of what they go through. Basically I was John Howard Griffin, only instead of changing the pigmentation of my skin and dealing with irrational hatred on a daily basis, I wore a tank top and was overly obnoxious.

My first awesome encounter with the people of the infield came as the parade of veterans was making its way around the track. The people in the infield are some of the most patriotic people alive, which was made obvious to me when virtually everyone started chanting “U-S-A! U-S-A!” I decided to get in on the action and began the same chant at both logical and completely illogical times (I accidentally started a chant during the national anthem. Whoops.) The chanting eventually morphed into me just walking around asking people if they loved America and then screaming “Home of the free because of the brave!” and chest bumping them after they would obviously say yes. God bless this country.

At one point, I saw a white guy (please make note of his skin tone, as this is important for the story) wearing an old school New Jersey Nets #30 jersey in my vicinity. Because I’m basically an old school jersey professional, I immediately knew he was rocking a Kerry Kittles and felt an obligation to congratulate him on his wearing of a rare jersey. I walked over to the jersey wearer and said something like, “Kerry Kittles…that’s awesome”, at which point he gave me a thumbs up and walked away. This prompted a drunk guy to get up from his own puddle of urine, walk over to me, and ask if that was the real Kerry Kittles (this is why the skin tone was important). I answered with a rather predictable, “You bet it is.” The guy went on to tell me that he was a huge Kerry Kittles fan because he grew up in Cincinnati and graduated from Moeller, which was the same high school Ken Griffey Jr. went to. I asked if that’s where Kerry Kittles also went to high school and he said, “No, but he did go to Villanova.” Oh, well thanks for clearing that up. Come to think of it, there’s a good chance the guy I was talking to was former Ohio State and Moeller basketball player Matt Sylvester, but I just didn’t realize it at the time. If that’s the case, it was good to see you again, Syl. You look great.

Toward the end of the race, after the “liquid bread” had been flowing for a solid four hours, a typical redneck (no need to describe this guy. Just think of the first image that comes to mind when someone says the word “redneck.” Yep, that was him) decided that he couldn’t hold out any longer—he just HAD to put his arm around me and start singing. His song of choice was Skid Row’s “18 and Life”, which seemed like the perfect song to be coming out of this guy’s mouth. I originally thought he was a fraud because he only sang ,“Ricky was a young boy” before mumbling the rest of the first verse, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt since he was trashed out of his mind. Plus, once I started singing the chorus he jumped back in and sang until he suddenly stopped and yelled, “Ladies, show us your boobs!” If the world had more heroes like this guy it would be a much better place.

If you’ve never been to an Indy 500 and you are between the ages of 21-30 (either literally or in your mind), I recommend you make sitting in the infield for a race a top priority of yours. I’ve made it clear in the past that this blog is, for the most part, family friendly, which is my way of saying that I left out the top 15 best stories that happened at the track. There were beer showers (just like it sounds), fist fights, and people making love. There were ladies in the men’s room, men in the ladies’ room (wait, how would I know?), and more exposed skin than clothing being worn. It was everything I wanted my 10th birthday party to be, before my mom informed me that she (and I’m paraphrasing here) “doesn’t know the first thing about having a good time.”

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I want to inform the Trillion Man March that I have had a Twitter account for a little while but haven’t really used it all that much. I initially started it as a way to post my favorite links, but I never really got into it. Until now. I have recently been tweeting (these Twitter terms are out of control) a lot solely because I’ve fallen in love with live tweeting, which basically consists of me watching something on TV and breaking it down with the most accurate and serious minute-by-minute analysis ever. I suggest you follow me and keep an eye out for these live tweeting sessions. I plan on doing it at least once a week, so join in on the fun if you’re up to it.

Also, I’ve received a bunch of e-mails about how I’m ripping off the San Jose Sharks and ABC. Apparently the Sharks (best hockey team name ever) named their arena the Shark Tank and ABC has announced that they have a new show coming out with the same name. Because of this, I’ve decided to change the name of my mailbag, but I haven’t decided what the name will be yet. I like the idea of somehow incorporating “shark” into the name, but that’s not a must. The next blog post should be of the mailbag variety, so I’ll definitely have a new name by then. If you think your idea for a name is the most creative thing you’ve ever come up with, feel free to send it in. If your idea sucks, keep it to yourself.

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Streak for the Cash Group Leader: T. Rittenhouse and R. Huff (streak of 13 wins)

Streak for the Cash Group Loser: B. Truslow, for the fourth entry in a row (streak of 15 losses). Truslow responded to the challenge I sent him with the last post and has since lost two more picks. You are quite possibly the biggest loser of all-time. Ever.

Your awesome YouTube was sent in to me by Jack K. There’s your shout-out, Jack. And here's your video.




Your Friend and My Favorite,

Mark Titus

Club Trillion Founder

Friday, May 15, 2009

Shark Tank, Volume I

Nothing all that important has happened in the past week, so let’s get down to business with the first edition of the Shark Tank. Despite the temptation to make up fake e-mails, all of these are real e-mails sent in to the Club Trillion inbox. ___________________________________________________

I love the blog, have read every post, but I'm not sure about the "Shark Tank." Being from the San Jose Bay Area and knowing that the San Jose Shark's arena is referred to as the "Shark Tank" makes it sound like a bit of a rip-off to me. Shark Cage maybe? Or even Shark Box? I don't know. The blog contains more original ideas and commentaries than any other that I read and I would like to see it stay that way.

- Jarrod Schwartz

To be honest, I had no clue about the Shark Tank in San Jose. It’s baffling to me how many hockey fans read this blog, so maybe I should start being more aware of what’s going on in hockey. While it may come across as a rip-off of the Sharks arena, it’s what the Trillion Man March wanted and thus, it’s what I am obligated to call it. I’ll make it up to you, Jarrod, by watching every game of the Stanley Cup Finals. Seems like a fair trade, considering I’ve watched a total of five minutes of hockey this season. Speaking of naming things after sharks…

My friend Colin nicknamed himself "The Shark" because he goes after wounded women at parties (not wounded physically, maybe handicapped, but more importantly emotionally scarred or bigger women). Do you get your nickname from similar female preferences?

- Mike from Milwaukee

You’re on to me, Mike. Let this be our little secret.

What big man would you rather have on your team during their prime: “Big Country" Bryant Reeves or Rik Smits?

- Andrew Johnson

Being from the suburbs of Indianapolis, the obvious pick would be for me to take The Dunkin’ Dutchman, but I’m going to go the other way and take Big Country for a few reasons. The first being that, along with Chris Mullin, he was doing all he could to revive the flattop as the haircut of choice for Americans. Secondly, the dude looked like he was literally born on a farm and started playing basketball only because he got tired of wrestling pigs. The Dunkin’ Dutchman’s mullet was nice, but for my money I’m taking the guy who more than likely pulled tractors instead of lifting weights and could probably drink a six pack without even being fazed. Had he played longer, he could have easily been my favorite player ever.

Up to now, the most famous sportsmen from your hometown were those Little League World Series kids. Were you one of them? And where do you think you stand in relation to them in terms of overall Brownsburg historical importance?

- David Kang

I was not on either of the LLWS teams, but I did play against the first Brownsburg team to go to Williamsport. I didn’t move to Brownsburg until after Little League, so I couldn’t play for them. The team I was on lost to Brownsburg in the first round of the tourney via the mercy rule and I’m pretty sure the Brownsburg pitcher threw a one-hitter. I’ll let you guess who got the one hit.

As far as who means more to the town of Brownsburg, it’s really a no-brainer. The Little League team got parades thrown for them and have shrines set up for them in the local junior high. There are signs outside Brownsburg that basically say “Welcome to Brownsburg—Our Little League Team Is Better Than Yours.” I’m not even sure anyone from my hometown is aware of my blog or that I ended up at Ohio State. These guys were 12-year-old rock stars and still probably get free meals back home. For me to overtake them on the importance scale, I’d have to at least get my own Wikipedia page and from what I’ve been told, that’s already been tried once and Wikipedia shut it down. Can’t really blame them. To answer the question, the World Series guys are blowing me out of the water and are in a league (pun absolutely intended) of their own.

When someone is telling a story about something that happened to them, do you barely listen and just wait for them to finish their story so you can tell a little anecdote more directly involving yourself? I'm just saying. You might be that type.

- Marykate Murphy

I’m not entirely sure what you are asking and frankly I don’t care because it’s not nearly as interesting as the time I scored a hat trick in an international soccer match.

Following my high school graduation, I went on a mission trip to Mexico where I helped build houses and answered every question that the natives asked me with “TA-KEEEE-LAAA!” After we built the houses, we had a festival type thing (that we threw) to celebrate how genuinely considerate we were. Part of this festival consisted of interacting with the Mexican kids. I decided the best way to interact with them was to give them a steady dose of buckets. With my feet.

The first goal I scored came when I kicked the ball as hard as I could right at the seven year old Mexican goalkeeper and hit him square in the chest. As he fell to the ground crying and yelling in Spanish, “You are the greatest soccer player of all-time, white man” (Note: It’s unknown if that’s actually what he said), I gave the ball a little tap and rolled it into the empty net.

My second goal came when a teammate lobbed a pass in my direction and I caught the ball in my t-shirt. Since the ball didn’t actually touch my hands, it wasn’t handball but instead was the smartest play in the history of soccer. I proceeded to casually walk into the goal and drop the ball from my shirt. Despite the little Mexican kids waving their arms at me and yelling what sounded like lyrics to a Ricky Martin song, I decided the goal counted. They were just jealous they didn’t think of that first.

I sealed the deal on my hat trick when I did what we call “cherry picking” in the basketball world. Instead of going back to play defense, I stayed by the goal I was shooting at and waited for my team to regain possession. When we did, a teammate kicked it down to me and I had only the goalkeeper standing in my way. Because I rocketed a ball off his chest earlier, he was a little timid and didn’t even try to stop my shot attempt. After I scored, the Mexican kids started yelling “No, No No!” which, at the time, I thought was their way of celebrating my hat trick. Later, a teammate would explain to me that the kids were claiming that I was offside and the goal shouldn’t have counted. I laughed at my teammate’s ignorance and told him that we were playing soccer, not football, and there is no such thing as offside in soccer. It’s like he was trying to be dumb on purpose.

And that’s how I essentially conquered Mexico.

Been a big fan of the blog from the very beginning and I appreciate your expertise in music so I’m hoping you can help me out with a problem. I’m getting married in a few months and one of the two jobs my fiancé gave me is to put together a list of songs for the DJ to play at the reception. The other job is for me and, more importantly, my groomsmen to show up to the wedding sober. Can you give me a list of songs that you think I should definitely have played?

- Tyler Creach

I love that Tyler didn’t ask me for advice on how to show up sober. He’s got his priorities straight and that’s important for any marriage. Nonetheless, here’s how it needs to go down:

You start off the reception with your wife and you on opposite sides of the room. Cue Kenny Loggins’ “Meet Me Halfway.” You guys start walking toward each other and literally meet halfway on the dance floor and share your first dance.

Next, you include all the guests because, let’s be honest, they really don’t want to watch you and your wife dance together all night. That’s why you need to go with a song that has a dance that corresponds with it. Some would go with the Electric Slide or the Cupid Shuffle, but you should go with the “Cha-Cha Slide Part 2” only to see how people interpret the instructions to “Charlie Brown.” Nobody could possibly know what they are being asked to do.

At this point, all the guests will be wiped out from all that “Charlie Brown-ing” and will be dying for the tempo to be slowed down. That’s when you turn to everyone’s favorite country slow song, Lonestar’s “Amazed.”

Because “Amazed” is a fantastic song, your grandmother more than likely decided to get on the dance floor and get in on the action. This will be awkward for you, so you will want to shift into emergency “go sit back down, grandma” mode. You can make her do just that by playing any rap song in the world. I suggest something like Ja Rule’s “Livin’ It Up.” Yeah, that would do the trick.

Then comes the most important time of any reception. You need to gauge how drunk your guests are. You do this by playing a song in which everyone knows the chorus. Something like Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” would easily accomplish this. While it’s not a song that is necessarily great to dance to, if the guests are as under the influence as they should be, they will make it work.

From there, it’s important to figure out who of the drunkards has taken it to the next level and is undisputedly the drunkest person at the reception. This will more than likely be an uncle that you really aren’t all that close to. Blasting Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me” will provide an opportunity for the drunks to not only belt out the chorus, but also do some inappropriate improv dance moves. The door will be wide open for that over-the-top drunk (read: your uncle) to cement his legacy as the guy who maybe had a little too much fun at the reception.

Finally, when it’s time to call it quits (on the reception, not the marriage), you want to pick a song that accomplishes a few things. First, the song has to be a strong one because it will be the song that everyone remembers. I couldn’t tell you who got married at all the weddings I’ve been to, but I can easily remember the last song at each reception. Also, it needs to be a song that appeals to everyone. It can’t be too sappy because the single people don’t want to hear about how lonely they are. It can’t be all about having a good time, because you are trying to establish a mature marriage. Beyond that, it needs to be a song that will make every woman in the room latch on to the fellas. This is the best wedding gift you could possibly give to your male guests. It’s not like the ladies have to throw themselves at the guys, but the song should at least give the fellas one last solid chance to score a bridesmaid's number. The best song that I can think of that accomplishes these things, while still appealing to the people who don’t want to dance but just want to sit there and sing along, is Edwin McCain’s “I’ll Be.” That would be a great way to top off one heck of a playlist.

Good lord, I should be a DJ.

As a high school student, it's that time of year again. No, not just final exams, but perhaps the most underrated aspect of the end of the year festivities: yearbook signing. As the students go their separate ways for the summer, they are provided with the opportunity to send each other off with a message that will be read both then and in later years, perhaps by the yearbook owners' progeny. Here's my question: what are some of the best tricks of the yearbook signing trade? I want to mix it up a little this year because, frankly, HAGS is getting a little stale.

- Eric Oldfather

Have a good summer is overdone, but there's a reason so many people use it—it works. Plus, chances are that one of the chicks whose yearbook you write that in will be dumb enough to think that you genuinely care about the quality of their summer and will therefore find you to be the most sensitive guy in the world. So when in doubt, just go back to that. But if you are really trying to step your game up, you have a few options.

The first choice is to write a paragraph that spells out an inappropriate word using the first letter of each line. An example is as follows:

Being as excited as I was for this year, I can’t believe it’s finally
Over. We had a lot fun together and I can’t wait for another year
Of high school. I know that we'll be ready for whatever the future
Brings. Whatever happens, though, I promise to do what I can to
Stay in touch with you. -Eric Oldfather

This will provide you a perfect opportunity to write naughty words in the yearbook, while still laying on all that cliché junk. Chances are, whoever’s yearbook you write that in won’t even realize what you just did. I prefer doing this to girls’ yearbooks because guys are much more likely to notice inappropriate words.

Another approach you could take is a personal favorite of mine. Basically with this approach you fabricate things to confuse the owner of the yearbook both in the present and ten years down the road. For example, write something like this in a kid’s yearbook who you only hung out with a few times:

Man, I’ll never forget cruising through town in your truck. That was by far the most fun I’ve had in high school. That one time that we honked at those dudes on skateboards was sick! We have definitely got to do that this summer! -Eric Oldfather

By writing this, you confuse the owner of the yearbook on two levels. The first being that when he immediately reads it, he will feel guilty because to him, riding around in his truck wasn’t that much fun. Secondly, because riding around in the truck wasn’t a big deal, he will surely forget about it in ten years. When he busts out his yearbook and reads back on all the fun times in high school, he won’t be able to remember riding around in the truck and will spend a good deal of time trying to figure out why that was an important enough event for you to write about it in his yearbook.

There’s your strategy for the ladies and your strategy for the guys. All that’s left is using a Club Trillion quote as your senior quote and you’ll solidify your place in the Yearbook Hall of Fame.

I was just wondering how yourself, an eligible, college basketball star goes about picking up the ideal college girl?

- Brian Rybak

Easy. I walk up to the target and simply whisper, “Let me be your hero” like Enrique does at the beginning of “Hero.” She will either get chills or smack me across the face. If it’s the former, I’m money. If it’s the latter, she sucks and isn’t my type anyway.

(Yes, I do realize that I’ve linked to Enrique in two different blog entries. Sue me. I’ll apologize when that song stops representing exactly how I feel about every single one of you.)

Sometimes, though, I don’t have to do anything at all to pick up the babes…

Thought you’d be interested to know, you have been accepted onto the celebrities I can freely cheat on my boyfriend with. I’d been lobbying to get you added, there were some disputes because you’re local.

- Megan F.

Umm…thanks?

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Don’t be discouraged if your Shark Tank attempt didn’t make it in this edition. When I started this entry, I copied and pasted about 30 e-mails that I thought were worthy and had to cut them back because I didn’t feel like writing for a week straight. Just because you may have been cut out this time doesn’t mean I won’t use your e-mail in the next edition of the Shark Tank. Also, feel free to send in new e-mails. I really enjoyed the first batch and I can’t wait to see where the Trillion Man March takes it from here.

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Streak for the Cash Group Leader: K. Williams and T. Rittenhouse (streak of 13 wins)

Streak for the Cash Group Loser: B. Truslow, for the third entry in a row (streak of 13 losses). To be fair, he hasn’t made a pick since April 25th. Make a pick, Truslow, or forfeit your biggest loser shout-out next blog entry.

Your awesome YouTube was sent in to me by Brian H. Personally, I found Gheorghe Mureşan’s broken English much more awesome than the concept of the commercial. At any rate, there’s your shout-out, Brian. And here's your video.



Your Friend and My Favorite,

Mark Titus

Club Trillion Founder

Friday, May 8, 2009

Testing, Testing

Because nobody seems to be talking about swine flu, I kind of feel obligated to explain it to everyone. I know you probably aren’t taking swine flu all that seriously, but keep in mind that the first known case of swine flu turned a regular, upstanding citizen into Hoggish Greedly, the most hated nemesis of Captain Planet. One day you’re wondering whether jean jackets will ever come back in style and the next day you’re telling Al Gore and his global warming to shove it, all because you want to make a quick buck. Do yourself a favor and go get tested if you start to grow a snout and/or a curly pink tail.

Speaking of getting tested, I experienced the worst part about playing college basketball for yet another time today. A complete stranger watched me urinate while I had my shirt off and my pants down to my knees. No, I’m not trying to join a fraternity, even though it is Greek Week at tOSU. I was simply being tested to see if my level of manliness falls within the normal range. Or something like that.

I would estimate that I get drug tested anywhere between four and way too many times a year. I’m not entirely sure what I am being tested for so I always make it a point to ask. I usually do this by saying something along the lines of “Are you guys testing for awesomeness? Cause I can tell you right now that I will most certainly test positive if that’s the case.” I then follow that up by laughing at my own joke and doing that thing where I tap people on their shoulder/upper arm with my backhand until they laugh or at least half-smile out of pity. On second thought, maybe I wouldn’t test positive for awesomeness.

The drug testing process begins when I walk into the gym and immediately remind myself that my bladder is full and it needs to be relieved ASAP. I then will walk into the locker room and see a sign that says “DRUG TESTING AFTER PRACTICE. DON’T PEE BEFORE THEN” (yes, it’s in all CAPS), at which point I will get visibly upset. After my frustration subsides, I go to practice and perform at an even lower level than I usually do because my bladder is so full that it quite literally stings.

Following practice, I rush back to the locker room so that I can be the first guy tested, which is a strategy that always fails. For whatever reason, I always end up getting stuck in line behind Jon Diebler, who is easily the worst drug test taker in the history of both drugs and urinating. Every time we get tested, Jon explains to everyone how badly he has to use the restroom and then always proceeds to choke when the spotlight comes on. Honestly, Jon’s inability to urinate while someone is watching is a little bit ridiculous and needs to come to an end. That’s why I’m calling on the Trillion Man March to help build Jon’s confidence. If any of you ever see Jon in a public restroom, simulate a drug test by staring at him while he’s using the urinal.

(Wait, what did I just suggest?)

By the time my turn comes around, the guy conducting the test explains to me that he needs me to generate enough urine to fill the cup to a particular line. That’s when I let out a few confident laughs, look him in the eye and say “watch this”, and proceed to practically overflow the cup while “Welcome To The Jungle” resonates throughout my head (not too sure why, but I’ve found that when I have GNR on my mind, I’m much more effective at urinating). After I’m done, I take my sample over to the dude conducting the test and wait a few minutes while he picks his jaw up off the ground. It’s performances like this that make it easy to see why I’ve been the team MVP for three straight years. I’ll let you figure out what the “P” in that acronym stands for.

Personally, I don’t think that the drug test could have come at a better time, seeing as how the news just broke that Manny Ramirez decided to embrace his feminine side by taking women’s fertility drugs. I used this news to my advantage, as I explained to the conductors of the test that I too had been taking fertility drugs because I’ve unsuccessfully been trying to get pregnant for a few years. Again, this awful attempt at a joke ended with me doing the backhand tap thing, which, come to think of it, has become my bailout plan for all of my jokes. If ever a joke doesn’t work, I use the backhand shoulder tap as a recovery tool and immediately recapture the audience’s attention. I encourage using this move in your life when applicable.

Every time I get drug tested, I can’t help but laugh at the notion that I might be taking performance-enhancing drugs. If it weren’t for the fact that a random guy is staring at my genitals, I’d almost be flattered. Seriously, do you really need to test my urine to see if I’m enhancing my performance? All it takes is one look at my career stats to conclude that even if I am taking performance-enhancing drugs, clearly they aren’t working. Maybe they are testing for drugs that would enhance my blogging performance, in which case, I really can’t blame them one bit. Still, even though everyone on the team gets tested, I can’t help but convince myself that someone out there thinks that my abilities on the court are so spectacular that there’s a chance I could be doping.

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I want to take a quick second and disregard all the rules I laid out for this blog that pertain to how I distribute shout-outs, because it was brought to my attention that my new favorite football player reads this blog or at the very least is a fan of it.

I don’t talk about other sports all that often on my blog, so most of you probably don’t know that I have been a pretty big fan of the Minnesota Vikings since I was seven years old. My dad roomed with Cris Carter’s brother, Butch, in college, which prompted me to go around school when I was younger and brag about how I was friends with Cris Carter. I was never much of a football fan as a kid, but when I realized that I kind of knew a pro player, I latched on and watched every Vikings game I could. I tell you that to tell you this.

In the May 6th edition (Page 3) of Sporting News, Vikings quarterback Sage Rosenfels listed this blog as one of three of his bookmarked sites. Because Brett Favre decided to stay retired and because nobody in their right mind has any sort of confidence in Tarvaris Jackson, there’s a solid chance that Sage will be the starting quarterback for my favorite football team this fall. This is a huge deal to me. I’ve endured the 1998 NFC Championship meltdown, the 2000 NFC Championship blowout, and the dissolving of one of the greatest offenses in NFL history, but knowing that the current Vikings quarterback digs my blog more than makes up for those heartbreaks. The Vikings have the best running game and the best defense in the league. Now that they have a solid quarterback, you can put them in the NFC Championship game right now. At the very least, you can mark them down as starting the season 1-0, because the Browns stand no chance in Week 1. I might just have to make the short drive up to Cleveland and taunt the Dawg Pound in my horned viking hat thing and my Rosenfels jersey. That would certainly make for an interesting blog entry.

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After me and my sorry attempt at a faux hawk were on the front page of Yahoo! and after I prompted the Trillion Man March to send in questions for a future mailbag (don’t worry, the new name is coming in the next paragraph), my inbox exploded. I got something like 250 e-mails, all of which I have read, but I’m now taking the time to sort through them and pick out my favorite questions. The Trillion Man March continues to impress.

Also, after dropping a line about wanting to come up with a new name for the mailbag, the Trillion Man March offered a ton of suggestions. The best name, which also happened to be the most frequently sent in name, was “Shark Tank.” Therefore, the mailbag will now be referred to as “The Shark Tank” or simply “Shark Tank.” The first edition of The Shark Tank should come within the next couple of weeks, provided something awesome doesn’t happen in the basketball program between now and then. Keep sending in questions and I’ll do my best to dodge your question and find a way to tie in an otherwise completely irrelevant YouTube video.

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Streak for the Cash Group Leader: J. Hughes (streak of 13 wins)

Streak for the Cash Group Loser: B. Truslow, for the second entry in a row (streak of 13 losses)

Your awesome YouTube was sent in to me by Matt S. There's your shout-out, Matt. And here's your video.




Your Friend and My Favorite,

Mark Titus

Club Trillion Founder