Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Last Summer – Part II

This blog post is the second of a two part entry about why this past summer was the best of my life. By my own admission, it sucks. I know it sucks (so don’t tell me) and I’m fine with it sucking because I wrote it for myself and only chose to publish it so the diehard members of the Trillion Man March wouldn’t call me lazy in a bombardment of complaining e-mails. I wanted to chronicle an action packed time in my life so I could look back in the future and remember what I did, making this more of a diary/journal than an entertainment-oriented blog post. As I said in the previous post, this should be the last entry that’s way off-topic, because basketball is now in full swing and I already have plenty of material from the past couple weeks that I could write about. With that being said, there is a pretty big announcement at the end of this post, so make sure you at least check that out (I put “STOP SCROLLING” in bold at the bottom of the entry as a heads up for you, should you choose to bypass the blog post altogether). Make sure you also check out this sweet new YouTube video I found. Pretty awesome, isn’t it?

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I’m beginning to notice that it is becoming increasingly harder for me to buy a jumbo pack of tube socks at Wal-Mart without at least five people coming up to me and saying something along the lines of “Mark, when I think of America I immediately think of morbidly obese people and AC Slater’s jheri curl. But then I think of you, because you are everything the stars and bars stand for.” Based on what I regularly write on this blog, I completely understand where these sentiments are coming from. I like to think of myself as the consummate American who listens to country music, supports the troops, and only speaks one language because I’m unapologetically ethnocentric. Sure I like Japanese game shows and I follow the English Premier League, but all it takes is being around me for five minutes to know that I’m practically as American as they come.

Let’s do a little role play. You and the hot babe with zero personality or intelligence that you are dating are walking down the street. You see a seven-year-old girl selling lemonade for a quarter at an intersection and you decide to get some. You hand her a dollar, ask for two cups, and tell her to keep the change. You and your girlfriend drink your lemonade (that more than likely tastes like a combination of tap water and sweat) and continue walking. You notice your girlfriend has a single tear rolling down her cheek, so you ask her if she really thought the lemonade was that bad. She responds with, “No, it wasn’t the lemonade. I was just thinking that that girl and her lemonade stand are more American than apple pie.” You add on, “Yeah, apple pie and baseball.” Your girlfriend chimes back with, “Except baseball really isn’t all that American.” You look at her as if she just suggested that the two of you spend the day shopping for curtains to hang in the living room of her apartment. Is she trying to be stupid? Well, as crazy as it may be, your dumb girlfriend is absolutely right.

Now let’s go back to real life. The phrase “…as American as apple pie and baseball” has been around forever because it was conceived when things were different. Back then, baseball was the most American thing in the world because, well, it was played by exclusively Americans. But now it’s tough to say if America is even the best country in the world at baseball. Most major league rosters are filled with foreigners, which has undoubtedly made the game a little less boring but in doing so has made the game much less American. Names like Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols, and Ichiro Whateverhislastnameis dominate the baseball landscape, which is surely making all those racist owners from back in day roll over in their graves. The point is that baseball simply isn’t as American as it used to be because it’s becoming more and more popular all over the world. So go apologize to your hypothetical girlfriend.

The reason I bring up my love for America and baseball’s globalization is because I think it can explain why I’m not really all that big of a baseball fan. I love my country and everything that makes it what it is, which is why I’m becoming less of a baseball fan as baseball becomes less of an American sport. Sure I still love my Chicago Cubs (currently tied for first place in the 2010 season!), but outside of their consistent disappointment, I don’t do a whole lot of baseball watching. The obvious exception was when I went to Hagerstown, Maryland for a minor league baseball game (as I detailed in Part I) but even then I enjoyed the promotions at the game more than the game itself. Baseball is definitely losing it’s American feel, but it’s younger, more awesome, steroid-free cousin is still as patriotic of a game as they come. I’m talking, of course, about wiffleball.

At the beginning of the summer, I received what I consider to be the most significant e-mail of my life. It was from a Nigerian prince who explained to me that I was entitled to over one million dollars if I simply told him my name, address, social security number, and favorite song from the Thriller album. Naturally, I obliged and should be collecting my fortune any time now. I also got a rather important e-mail from Joe Overman of Coldwater, Ohio that served as an invitation to throw out the first pitch at a wiffleball tournament in the aforementioned town. Apparently the tournament coincided with a yearly festival that is thrown in Coldwater that may or may not just be an excuse for Coldwater natives to celebrate the fact that they are American and proud of it. Either way, it was the first time I had ever been asked to act as a “celebrity guest” (or whatever the equivalent is for someone who is in between “that guy looks familiar” and “I swear I know him from somewhere”), which is why I jumped on the opportunity like I was Lindsay Lohan being offered the chance to act irresponsible.

After researching Coldwater a little bit (which consisted of asking various people about it), it was revealed to me that not only does the town have a pretty uncreative name, but it’s also a little too much country for most people to handle. I invited Keller to tag along because he’s the only friend I have who knows all the words to “If You’re Gonna Play In Texas” by Alabama and can name at least three NASCAR drivers. Based on what people were telling me, Coldwater seemed like my kind of town, which is why I felt like I couldn’t get up there fast enough. Unfortunately, the cop that pulled me over on the way up completely disagreed.

In the cop’s defense, I absolutely was tailgating him and probably had been for at least two miles. In my defense, though, I honestly didn’t know that what I was doing was illegal. As soon as I got pulled over, Keller told me I was tailgating the cop, but I calmly explained why he was wrong. I wasn’t tailgating—I was drafting, which is a strategy that has catapulted Jeff Gordon to four Sprint Cup Championships, so I really couldn’t see where the problem was. The only tailgating I do involves playing cornhole (or “bags”), eating way too much, and high fiving passersby. Still, apparently what I did was illegal and it was going to take a smooth performance on my part to get out of a ticket.

The first thing I noticed as the cop approached my car was that his mustache was nearly perfect. It was glaringly obvious that this cop was a seasoned veteran who probably didn’t even carry a gun because his hand-to-hand combat was the stuff of legend. I knew I’d have my hands full trying to get him to crack. He asked for my license and registration, and then asked if I had been pulled over recently. I truthfully answered that I had just received a speeding ticket a few months back, which prompted him to ask if I’m “always in a hurry or something”. Because I’m both too stubborn and too stupid to play by the rules, I responded with, “Well, sir, I am from Indianapolis and racing is just in my blood I guess” and then let out a few nervous laughs. The cop looked at me as if I had just said “I have such little respect for you that I plan on taking your daughter to prom and not bringing her back until the next morning.” He replied, “Wisecracks aren’t going to do you any favors out here, son”, snatched my license and registration, and walked back to his car. Yikes.

(By the way, any time an authority figure adds “son” to the end of a sentence, it almost always results in me being entirely terrified of what happens next. Especially when I’m not the authority figure’s actual son.)

At this point, I told myself that I should be completely satisfied if the cop gave me a ticket and a swift kick to the groin because I was halfway expecting to get cuffed and thrown in the back of his cruiser. Instead, he walked back to my car, handed me my license and registration, told me to “be more careful out there”, and then laughed and walked away. It honestly felt like the opening scene of Super Troopers, only I wasn’t completely stoned and the cop didn’t come back and repeat everything he had already told me. I was, however, freaking out, man.

Even now, I really can’t think of an explanation as to what happened with the cop. He basically went from Agatha Trunchbull to Uncle Joey in a matter of ten minutes without giving any indication as to why he did. The way I tell the story (to everyone but you all) is that the cop called my information into dispatch and the Rod Farva equivalent on the other end of the radio was a member of the Trillion Man March who immediately informed the officer that he should let The Shark swim free. This is most likely not the case, but when your moments of fame are as limited as mine are, you tend to embellish things to make you feel better about yourself.

When we finally made it to Coldwater, we met up with the one person from Coldwater that I knew and made our way to a house party a few blocks away. As I approached this particular party, I couldn’t help but think that this must be what the parties in high school that I was never invited to were like. You see, while all my classmates were hooking up and lying to their parents during high school weekends, I was busy studying molecular genetics and volunteering at a local animal shelter. More accurately, I was busy trying to figure out what the parental lock code was on the TV in our basement, but let’s keep that between you and me. Anyway, I was excited to finally be invited (note: I wasn’t actually invited) to my first party in quite some time and decided that this party would just have to make up for all those missed opportunities in high school. And it did.

When you hear that an awesome party took place that was thrown by a bunch of twenty-somethings, you immediately assume that KY Jelly was involved somehow, the cops showed up numerous times, and at least one person passed out before 9 pm. And while that certainly would be a winning combination for any party, that’s not what took place here. This party wasn’t awesome to me because it was an out of control drunkfest. In fact, the only real reason I thought it was worth mentioning is because it had the one thing no other party I’ve ever been to has had—a truck parked in the backyard with all its doors opened and country music blaring through its speakers. Apparently high quality radios are hard to come by in Coldwater, which is why residents use their trucks as both female-attracting machines and audio entertainment devices. Either way, the image of a bunch of Coldwater natives hanging out in a backyard listening to country music through a truck’s speakers was enough for me to conclude that Coldwater is quite possibly the biggest hick town I’ve ever been to in my life, which is about as big of a compliment as I can give.

The wiffleball tournament itself was held the next morning and, as far as I could tell, my first pitch was as perfect as I had hoped for. I was a little nervous heading in because the last memory I had of throwing a baseball/softball/wiffleball is when I played left field in a men’s softball league and slightly missed the cutoff man as I threw the ball onto the roof of the concession stand right next to the field. Still, I managed to throw a flawless pitch by starting the ball on the right edge of the plate and letting the curve I put on it bring it back down the middle. It was a proud moment for me that was made possible by the fine people of Coldwater. I couldn’t stick around to watch the whole tournament because I had some sort of basketball function, so I don’t know who won the thing, but I do know that the combination of a truck used as a boombox and a community wiffleball tournament is enough to make me adopt Coldwater as my Ohio hometown. The only problem is I don’t think I’m country/awesome enough to claim Coldwater.

Following the success of the Coldwater trip, Keller and I went to Mankato, Minnesota for the Vikings training camp. As I touched on in a previous post, I have been a Minnesota Vikings fan for as long as I can remember and discovered in the offseason that Sage Rosenfels, a Vikings quarterback, was a fan of my blog. Through a series of e-mails, Sage invited me to training camp and because I didn’t want another interaction with the police like I had on the way to Coldwater, I recruited Keller to tag along and do the driving. After around a 10 hour drive, we arrived on the campus of Minnesota State University and immediately began asking the locals where we could find Craig T. Nelson. They must have assumed we meant the football stadium because that’s where pretty much everyone we asked sent us. We got to the stadium a little late but still managed to catch the exciting parts of training camp, which is to say we got to see a Vikings fan instruct everyone in the surrounding area to kill the guy wearing a Packers hat. Some would say he took it too far, but I say he’s just passionate about his Vikings. And after the Brett Favre miracle against the 49ers, how can you not be?

The best part of our trip to Minnesota was when we got to hang out with some of the players at a local bar after training camp was over. I decided to wear an Ohio State shirt to serve as a conversation starter, which was a decision I immediately regretted as soon as I saw Steve Hutchinson, a 315 pound offensive lineman and Michigan alum, and his furrowed brow looking at me in an unsatisfactory manner. If you think that I was maybe reading into things a little too much, take a look at this picture and imagine it coming to life and standing five feet away from you. Now go change your underpants.

While hanging out with some of the Vikings, Keller and I also had the chance to meet Pro Bowl defensive end and mullet connoisseur Jared Allen, who is now quite possibly our favorite human being ever. He wore a cutoff t-shirt to the bar with cutoff jean shorts, a camouflage hat, and Crocs and basically told the entire establishment that he didn’t give a Michigan what they thought of him. His carefree attitude really is inspirational, so much so that Keller claims he will name his firstborn (guy or girl) Jared Allen Keller and his secondborn Allen Jared Keller. He is easily the biggest redneck to ever be a professional athlete (I’m including NASCAR drivers in that claim), which is something that kind of makes him a hero of mine. I could go on and on about how big of a man crush I have on Jared Allen (as if I haven’t been already), but that would only lead to me wasting even more of your time and you judging me in an unfavorable fashion.

Altogether, the trip to Minnesota was a huge success, even though we spent more time driving to and from Minnesota than actually hanging out in Minnesota. Still, Sage showed us a pretty unreal time that got me more excited for football than I’ve ever been in my life. When you consider my preseason trip to Mankato, my Week 1 trip to watch the Vikes dismantle the Browns, and a 3-0 Vikings start, it’s easy to see why I’m so jacked up for the NFL season. AMPAP goes out to Sage Rosenfels for not only being a member of the Trillion Man March and giving me the hookup with my favorite football team (don’t worry NCAA, I paid for everything!), but for also leading my Favre-less squad in Madden to a 6-0 start with over 1400 passing yards thus far.

In a little over three months, I managed to basically travel all over the Midwest while still taking summer school full time. I also went to Canada for four days with the basketball team, took a weekend vacation to Charlotte with my brother, and went to a local Columbus fair that was dubbed as the “Biggest Little Fair in The World” or a similar ripoff of the sign in Reno, Nevada (in reality, I could have dedicated an entire blog entry to the fair, but I’m willing to bet that you are sick of reading about how much I enjoy acting like a redneck). When it was all said and done, I set foot (not feet—I did a lot of hopping) in 13 different states and two different countries this summer, and met countless awesome people who made it all possible.

I doubt that you found my summer as awesome as I originally hyped it up to be, but I still thought it was pretty action packed. I got to hang out with a bunch of different types of people, ranging from professional athletes (the Vikings, former HS teammate who’s pitching for the Nationals) to nobodies (Keller). I did loads of traveling, got out of a tailgating ticket, and managed to knock off all the musts for any summer of mine (Indy 500, spend day on body of water, baseball game, fair, eating a ton of fried food). I was pretty sad to see this summer come to an end because in a way it’s like I saw my youth come to an end. Society is telling me that I need to grow up and stop telling girls that I would think it’s fly if they stopped by for the summer, for the summer. At the same time, I was pretty excited to see the summer end because it meant I wouldn’t have hear "Summer Nights" by Rascal Flatts being overplayed on every country station in America. That song kinda sucks.

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STOP SCROLLING!

Diehard Club Trillion fans have undoubtedly noticed that a pretty special date is quickly approaching, but for those of you who don’t know, on October 24th it will have been exactly one year since the internet and I made love and conceived this blog. For the blog’s birthday I’ve decided to throw a little bit of a party (but it’s a surprise so don’t tell the blog!), and guess what? EVERYONE IS INVITED.

I am officially declaring the week of Sunday, October 18th through Saturday, October 24th to be Fan Appreciation Week for Club Trillion and the Trillion Man March. It’s going to serve as a week for me to give back all I can (so basically nothing) to you fine people who have made this blog as much fun for me as it is. Within the next week or so I will outline what exactly this giving back entails, but for now I wanted to present what will make up a large portion of Fan Appreciation Week.

Because the 18th through 24th is your week (it’s not mine because I’m actually not a fan of my blog), I’ve decided to let the Trillion Man March do the writing for the blog. The topic of your writing should be centered around a time in your life when you were a benchwarmer, whether it was in sports or just everyday life. For example, you could write about how you are similar to me in that you rode the bench for your high school basketball team and would eat nachos during the games. Or you could write about how you had to work a dead end job for ten years and spent your entire time at the job mocking your boss by dressing exactly like him on an almost daily basis. Or you could tell stories about relationship failures. Basically, the entire premise is to explain a time when you simply weren’t good enough. The backbone of this blog is that I’m not good enough at basketball, yet I still find a way to have a good time with the team. That’s why I want your stories to be about how you aren’t/weren’t good enough, but you still found a way to take your failure and turn it into a pretty amusing situation.

As far as rules and regulations go, they are pretty simple. The first rule is to make sure your story doesn’t suck. If I wanted to publish terrible writing, I’d just keep writing about my summer and not take the time to have Fan Appreciation Week. Also, make sure you keep it clean. There are ways to talk about adult situations without using foul language or suggestive phrases. If your entire story is based around an experience you had with someone in the bedroom, it’s doubtful that it will get published (please still send it to me, though, cause I’d love to read about it). If your story only briefly touches on a singular instance in the bedroom, however, there’s a chance it could get published if you make it as classy as you possibly can. I’m fully aware that some of the best stories in the world are as explicit as can be, but I’m also aware that a large number of children read my blog and I’d prefer to not get e-mails from their parents explaining why I’m an awful influence. As a general rule of thumb, don’t write anything that you wouldn’t have told your parents at the dinner table when you were a 12-year-old. And if, by chance, your parents happen to be Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne, don’t write anything at all.

Please submit your stories with the subject line of “Fan Appreciation Week Story” to the Club Trillion e-mail at ClubTrillion@gmail.com. I’m setting the deadline at 11:59 pm on October 15th so it will give me a little bit of time to sort out the best ones. I will publish the top seven entries (one each day), with the seventh place story going up on the 18th, sixth place on the 19th, etc. until I publish what I perceive to be the best story on the day of the one year anniversary, October 24th. This contest, along with the entire Fan Appreciation Week (there will be much more to the week than just this contest, as I’ll explain later) is my way of showing gratitude to those of you who have stuck with me all summer. I know that I strayed away from what probably originally brought you to this blog, so I thought I’d do a little something to show my appreciation that you continued to read despite the change. Plus, I think this will be a fun way to get everyone excited for basketball season, and thus excited for more stories involving me getting disrespected in some fashion. With that being said, go tell all your friends who used to read the blog but stopped because it got boring (can’t really blame them) to come back and participate in this contest. I’m really looking forward to reading through stories, so make it happen. Ready, go.

LEGAL NOTICE: First of all, I’ve always wanted to write “legal notice” in all caps because it demands so much respect and kind of makes my blog seem like a legitimate operation. Secondly (and most importantly), please be aware that by sending me an e-mail with “Fan Appreciation Week Story” as the subject, you are giving me permission to publish whatever is in the e-mail, including names, dates, and places. I’d really hate for you to send me some secretive story without realizing that there’s a chance your wife could get on here and read it. If you don’t want your real name to be used, make up a fake name. If you don’t want your real town to be used, just write “Avon, Indiana” because that was a rival town of mine in high school and is basically crawling with misfits anyway.

TOO FAR!

SCROLL BACK UP!

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Streak for the Cash Group Leader: D. Blum, T. Rittenhouse, and T. Roche (streaks of 15)

Streak for the Cash Group Loser: K. Sullivan (streak of 12)

Your awesome YouTube was sent in to me by Kara K. and features a young Kyle Madsen dunking a baseball cap. For those who might not know, Kyle is a current teammate of mine and is the tall guy that appears throughout this video. My favorite part is Kyle’s performance at the end, but that’s just me. And before you ask, no he isn’t the one with the thirty sweatbands on his arms. Anyway, there’s your shout-out, Kara. And here’s your video.



It’s uncertain whether or not Club Tril gear will ever be available in camo.

Your Friend and My Favorite,

Mark Titus

Club Trillion Founder

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Last Summer – Part I

I sat down to write this blog entry, not so much for your entertainment, but more because I wanted to chronicle what I thought was a really fun journey in my life (it’s really just my way of giving shout-outs to all the people that showed me a good time in the past three months). This summer I’ve resorted to posting much longer blog entries with much less frequency than I did during the season. This is because I had less basketball-related stuff to talk about, which caused me to basically wait for something to happen. When nothing did, I decided to write about personal events in my life instead of the end of the bench events in my life, and because I usually waited awhile to post, I thought I’d write a little extra each time to make up for it.

With that being said, the following (including Part II) should be the final in the pattern of long, off-topic blog entries. I am now back on campus and have started what is basically practice, meaning a steady dose of basketball will now be present in my life until April. This particular blog entry is way too long to post all at once, so I decided to post the first half now and post the rest when I finish it. Also, there promises to be a pretty important announcement at the end of the second half of this entry, so definitely open up the second part when it’s posted, skip the blog altogether, and just scroll down to the good stuff (at least that’s what I’d do).

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Every college-aged male I’ve ever met, regardless of their race, their creed, whether or not they like Creed, or which of the over 60,000 combinations they get when they go to Chipotle behaves in the same manner when three certain situations present themselves. The first is that we will place the blame of our farts on someone else standing close to us. Unless, of course, we think it breaks some sort of record on the disgusting scale in which case we will announce to everyone within a 5-iron radius that we are more of a man than the rest of the world combined. The second thing we do is develop our own barter system amongst our friends that is usually anchored by the proposal of “If you buy the pizza, I’ll buy your beer at the bar tonight.” This almost always ends up being an awful deal for the pizza buyer, as he spends $20+ on the pizza, only to see his hopes of getting free beer all night come crashing down when the beer buyer gets the first round and quickly scampers off into the night with an average-looking co-ed he met five minutes before. While both these scenarios are pretty much spot on, neither of them have anything whatsoever to do with this particular blog post (meaning you really could have just skipped this entire first paragraph altogether). The third thing that we do, however, absolutely does.

When a man is 18-25 years old, society tells him that it’s time for him to line up the rest of his life. This is usually the age when men figure out what job they want, where they might want to live, and which woman they want to blame all of their neighborhood Couples Game Night losses on (sidenote: it’s perfectly acceptable to break up with someone based on their performance in charades or Pictionary). Because of this pressure, men in my age group feel the need to outdo one another. How are you supposed to get the best job, house, or woman if you aren’t even smarter, richer, or more charming than any of your friends? It can’t happen. This is why all college-aged men (more like all men, am I right ladies?) fabricate absolutely every story we ever tell. Whoops, I think I just let the secret out.

Perhaps saying we fabricate isn’t exactly the best way to describe what we do. It’s not that we get calls from our grandmas and moms and then brag to our friends about how the ladies won’t stop bugging us (at least I don’t think anybody other than me does that). Instead, we believe (and that’s the key—we truly believe) that everything we do/did/would have done is the most compelling and interesting thing to ever happen to mankind. We’re the types to go out for a few drinks, hit on girls way out of our league, go back home with the same group of guys we originally went out with, play Halo until 4 am, and then tell everyone that wasn’t with us on that particular night that we had “the craziest night EVER.” We’re also the type that say things like “if Steve hadn’t dropped out of high school and if Tommy didn’t tear his ACL in the third game, we would have steamrolled everybody and easily taken state my senior year.”

To accompany this notion that everything we do is the best, we also are quick to point out that everything someone else does is “weak” or “lame.” For example, if Andre The Giant was drunk with a group of college-aged guys, everyone around him would undoubtedly call him a “lightweight” for being drunk after drinking only two barrels of beer and a bathtub of wine. Guys my age, myself included, are nothing more than one-uppers who always think that what they did last weekend makes The Hangover look like a tea party and honestly believe that their circle of friends in high school were “seriously the biggest badasses ever.” If you don’t believe me just ask some guy you know in my age group how his weekend was and do your best to not laugh when he inevitably pulls a Barney Stinson and uses the word “legendary” in some fashion.

As I’m sure you can probably figure out, it’s impossible for every guy in the world to have the craziest night of all-time every single night. But we don’t care. We truly believe that we are the biggest party animals to ever live, just because one of our friends had one too many last night and asked a girl if he could smell her face. We do this because it’s our way of convincing ourselves and others that we matter in this world. “Sure I’m basically incompetent at every job I’ve ever had, but if coach wouldn’t have screwed me in high school I could have easily gone D1 and ended up in the league.” To be successful in life, you sometimes don’t have to be the most talented, best looking, or most charming person. You just have give off the perception that you are, which is achieved through convincing everyone you talk to that you are literally the most interesting man in the world. With that in mind, let me tell you why I seriously had the most legendary summer ever.

At some point in life, virtually everyone makes a vow to themselves to do something. These vows are usually made on New Year’s Day or Ash Wednesday and are broken a week later because chocolate is just too delicious and turning on the safe search feature in Google Images for 40 straight days is borderline impossible. But there’s another kind of vow that young, single people make to themselves. We all seem to convince ourselves that each and every summer we’re going to have “the time of our lives” or some other cheesy line that you’d hear in High School Musical (not that I’d know or anything). We talk about travelling the country/world, eating fried anythings at a county fair, and working on a farm for a widowed cougar who probably doesn’t understand the concept of the age of consent. Like the previous vows, though, more often than not these promises go unfulfilled (the Summer of George being the prime example). We all get jobs stocking shelves at Wal-mart during the midnight shift for $7.50 an hour, which seriously hampers the fun-having potential of the summer. Suddenly instead of talking to our friends about how we’re going to buy a season pass to Cedar Point and ride Millennium Force “like ten million times” we start talking to our friends about how disgusting the mole on our co-worker’s back is and how badly we want to kick our shift manager in the nads. Because I’m graduating from Ohio State next spring and because I plan on joining the real world shortly thereafter (“pssh, good luck in this economy!”), this past summer was the last true summer of my life. In other words, it was the last summer I could act recklessly and still be able to somewhat justify it. That’s why I made yet another promise to myself that even though I was taking summer school full-time, this summer would be the best one yet. Only this time I made sure that it really was.

Excluding meteorologists, astronomers, and all those other nerds who study the rotation of our planet, pretty much everyone agrees that summer begins with Memorial Day weekend. With that in mind, I decided to start my summer off right by going to the Indianapolis 500, which is what absolutely everybody in the Midwest should do each and every Memorial Day weekend. I devoted an entire blog entry to my experience, so I’m not going to be redundantly redundant with my redundancy, but I will reiterate why the Indy 500 is a sporting event that everyone should witness at least once in their lives.

Most people assume that the Indy 500 is only for people who like racing and kissing their cousins, and while there certainly are more than enough cousin-kissers present, you don’t have to like fast cars and incest to have a good time at the race. All you really need to have fun is an open mind and an understanding that you probably will get sunburned. Outside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on race day is like five college football tailgaters (or ten if your team sucks, and twenty if your team is Indiana) rolled into one, in terms of both the number of people and the number of foods that will send you into cardiac arrest. The people at the 500 are incredibly friendly, even if they do charge you 20 bucks to park in their driveway that’s two miles from the track. The weather is pretty much perfect year after year, except for the years that it’s not. And the race itself is a heart-pounding sight for those who have never seen an auto race live. The Indy 500 is not so much a sporting event as it is a cultural happening, which is what keeps me coming back every year. Despite the fact that most of what I write isn’t meant to be taken all that seriously, I’m completely serious when I suggest that you make it a priority to go to at least one Indianapolis 500 in your life. There’s an 80% chance that it won’t let you down.

Just like the Indy 500 is a must for me each summer, waking up at the buttcrack of dawn and spending an entire day on a body of water at least 100 miles from my house is also a must. That’s why I decided to make my next big adventure of the summer a whitewater rafting trip to the Ocoee River in southeastern Tennessee. I already briefly touched on my experience in another blog entry, but I think I may have failed to fully explain how awesome of a time I really had.

After staying in a nearby hotel the night before, my brother, Keller, and I showed up at our rafting company’s station/outpost thing at around 8 in the morning with adrenaline running through our bodies and big wads of eye boogers in our caruncles. We were one part excited, one part tired, and however many parts remain nervous, because the closest any of us had come to anything rafting related was when I interrupted Bill Raftery midsentence to tell Verne Lundquist that I really enjoyed his work in Happy Gilmore. To make matters worse, we completely ignored the safety presentation, which consisted of the guy in charge basically telling us what not to do, because we were too busy telling jokes that were centered around the plot of Deliverance. Luckily for us, we had the best rafting guide any of us had ever had.

I’ve already outlined why I think Joe Cope should win some sort of award for his river-guiding excellence, so please forgive me for coming across as having a man crush on him (if he didn’t have such dreamy eyes it would be a lot easier). Joe knew every rapid of the river like the back of his hand, ya know, if he were the type of guy to look at his hands a lot or something. Because of this, he knew when we would be able to tip the raft if we all leaned a certain way, which may not sound like fun to you, but I assure you that there are few things in my life that have been more exhilarating than falling out of a raft and floating down a series of class 5 rapids. Just like my first marriage, it physically and emotionally hurt like crazy and gave me a few scars that are still in the healing process, but in the end made me a better person and was therefore worth it. Other than being an expert raft-flipper, Joe didn’t have a problem with me splashing people in other rafts, announcing to everyone on the river that I was peeing, or doing anything else that only a 12-year-old and I would do. Basically all it takes for me to like someone and have a good time is for them to allow me to act like a child. This is why I loved my whitewater rafting experience and just figuratively batted my eyes at Joe with this entire paragraph. Anyway, like the Indianapolis 500, I strongly urge all of you to give whitewater rafting a try at some point in time.

Following the whitewater rafting trip, Keller and I traveled to Hagerstown, Maryland to watch our former high school classmate Drew Storen pitch in a minor league baseball game. Drew had just been drafted into the MLB and was starting out by playing for the class A Hagerstown Suns. Because I currently live in Columbus (home of the AAA Clippers) and am originally from Indianapolis (home of the AAA Indians), I had been to my share of minor league games. However, I quickly realized that not all minor league games should be treated equally.

Anyone who has ever been to both a minor league and major league baseball game will tell you that what sets the two apart is that people are actually interested in the baseball at major league games (with the obvious exception being Marlins fans). The truth is that nobody really cares whether or not the Hagerstown Suns pull out the W on that particular day or where they are in the current standings. Nobody really cares that Corey Cartwright’s torn biceps is going to put him out for the season and will make the Suns bullpen a liability. And nobody really cares that the Suns third base coach is a little too aggressive and causes too many guys to get thrown out at home. What people do care about is that next Tuesday is Dime-A-Dog night and a thirty minute firework show will follow the game, at which point all kids under 12 can run the bases provided they brought their report card proving they got an A in at least one class.

For the most part, there is an inverse relationship between the outrageousness of the promotions at the baseball game and the level of baseball being played on the field. Major league teams and some higher level minor league teams don’t need to come up with ways to get fans to come to their games (again, except for the Marlins) because the steroids that the players take already do that for them. The rest of the minor leagues (and especially single A minor league teams) need to be creative to get butts in seats, though. This is why I truly believe some of the most creative minds anywhere are working for minor league baseball marketing departments.

I went to two Suns games while in Hagerstown and was exposed to twenty wrestling theme songs, two fireworks shows, one sack race with children, one game that involved grown men wearing baby bonnets and diapers, and one enormous beer tent down the left field foul line. There were times that it seemed as if baseball was being played only to serve as entertainment in between different promotions. I watched a man sing “Man! I Feel Like A Woman”, I saw little kids try to cheat one another in a barefoot race, and I witnessed a guy dressed as a cowboy (try to) dance to “Cotton Eyed Joe.” Going to a low-level minor league baseball game showed me that baseball games actually can be fun and people in Hagerstown, Maryland lead really boring lives, which is why they come out to the ballpark to celebrate National Egg Toss Day. Needless to say, I find minor league baseball far more entertaining than major league baseball which is to say I find three-legged couples races in which the boyfriend/husband is completely hammered more entertaining than watching Craig Counsell lay down a well executed sacrifice bunt.

To be continued…

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Before I get to the YouTube for this entry, I wanted to give a shout-out to Brian in the Trillion Man March for making a pretty awesome CLUB TRIL sign for the set of College GameDay this past Saturday. I had to go to campus to run an errand as GameDay was setting up and was pleasantly surprised as I walked by the set to find Brian close to the front row representing Club Trillion on national television. Here’s a picture for all of you who may have missed it.

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You inspire me with your awesomeness, Brian.

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Streak for the Cash Group Leader: T. Rittenhouse, J. Ryder, and A.L. (which may or may not just be “Al”) Maldonado (streaks of 15)

Streak for the Cash Group Loser: N. Poor (completely appropriate last name for his performance in Streak) (streak of 12)

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




Your Friend and My Favorite,

Mark Titus

Club Trillion Founder

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Podcast - 9/10/09 - Darren Rovell

The newest podcast with Darren Rovell is now available on iTunes or by simply scrolling down and clicking the play button. I had CNBC's sports reporter on to talk about how we originally crossed paths at the 2007 Final Four, why Twitter is actually pretty useful, and how hard it is to perform on basketball's biggest stage. Also, Darren introduces me to noodling, which is not as disgusting as it sounds but is every bit as awesome as it sounds.

I looked everywhere but couldn't find a picture of Darren pointing at himself with his thumbs. Looks like the thumb pointing streak ends with the Streakmaster, so if you're a fan of irony you can at least be pleased with that.



Darren's blog, Sports Biz with Darren Rovell, can be found by clicking here. Also, Darren's Twitter account, which is more entertaining than anything business related ever should be, can be found here. Finally, you can watch a monkey ride a Segway by clicking here. I think that just about covers all the important links.

The Club Trillion Podcast (new name has been picked and should be revealed soon) now has almost 15,000 subscribers which means either everyone in my family created 3,000 iTunes accounts or the Trillion Man March is awesome. I'm thinking the latter is more feasible, but only barely. Seriously, a big thanks goes out to all of you who continue to listen and continue to lie to your friends by telling them it would definitely be worth their time to check out the podcast. For all of you who are new to the party, you can subscribe through iTunes by going here and clicking on the Subscribe tab.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Fan-ada of Canada

Disclamre: In honour of Canadians everywhere (but mostly in honour of the Canadians in Canada), I have decided to write this entire blog post in pseudo Canadian-English, which means every wourd that usually ends with “-er” will now end with “-re” and every instance of “or” in a wourd will now become “our.” So please excuse what you perceive to be a bunch of typos in this blog post. And don’t wourry, I don’t understand why Canadians do it that way eithre.

When I initially found out that we were going on an international trip, I was pretty excited about the oppourtunity to travel wourlds apart and make fun of people to their face because they don’t speak English and therefoure wouldn’t have any idea of what I was saying. But then I found out that we were going to Windsor, Ontario (which is literally as shourt of an international trip from Columbus as you can get) and I understandably lost a little bit of my enthusiasm. Aftre all, Canada to me was nothing moure than that big chunk of land nourth of America that tries to fit in but is nevre quite fully accepted at the adult dinnre table (or is that Alaska?). I heard Canada and images of Nickelback and Stephen Abootman flashed through my head, which I’m pretty confident are the Canadian equivalents to America’s Psychostar and Glenn Beck. Simply put, I didn’t respect Canada because I failed to see a reason to do so. It was country that really hadn’t done anything for me othre than produce Pamela Anderson and that one band that made that one song I used to rock out to in juniour high. Then I realized, yet again, that I was completely off with my assessment.

Within ten minutes of being in Canada, it became strikingly obvious to me that the part of the country I was in really wasn’t any different than Ohio or Indiana. I saw cournfields, McDonald’s, and guys in wife-beatres. I saw kids loitering and causing mischief at malls, pregnant teenagres, and way too many auto repair shops. Hell, I even saw some houses flying American flags. If it weren’t for the rampant use of the metric system I would have been fully convinced that I was still in Ohio. But instead of being upset that my international trip took me to a place that was essentially identical to where I had just come from, I used the oppourtunity to scold myself for being an ethnocentric jerk.

What was so troubling about Canada for me in the past was that the national flag has a maple leaf on it, which simultaneously proclaims to the wourld that Canadians are good at making syrup and should, undre no circumstances, evre be taken seriously as a wourld powre. What’s wourse is that the hockey team from the most popular city in Canada is named aftre the maple leaf on the flag (Toronto Maple Leafs), which reeks of unouriginality. Can you imagine an All-American city, like Dallas for example, having a hockey team named aftre a feature of the American flag? I sure can’t, because, along with racism and a seemingly unlimited amount of television channels, America is synonymous with ouriginality. Canada, howevre, is apparently all about their maple leaf, which despite what I ouriginally thought, is actually not a bad thing at all.

Aftre crossing the bourdre into Canada at around 10 pm, we drove at least anothre hour to the small town of Kingsville on the shoure of Lake Erie, which is the southernmost town in all of Canada, accourding to the locals. I assumed that because Kingsville was the Florida of Canada there would be flocks of sexy Canadian co-eds looking for a good time. I was wrong. Instead, when we came to town we were greeted by the three 125-year-old barren cottages that we would be calling home for four days. To put that in perspective, if you were bourn the day the cottages were built, you would have been 28 when Titanic sank. Yikes. Aftre getting off the bus and giving the cottages a closre look, everyone on the team agreed that we completely expected an axe murdrere to butchre us and sell our ourgans on the black market as soon as we all went to sleep.

I woke up the next mourning and aftre checking to make sure my pancreas was still where it was supposed to be (note: I have no idea where my pancreas is supposed to be), I decided to scout out our living arrangements a little moure. There was a walk-out, albeit stupidly dangerous balcony from my second floour room that had a really sexy view of Lake Erie. There were fire pits and trays of home-grown fruit and vegetables laid out around the cottage. There were fishing docks and pictures/decourations that even my grandma would find outdated. Aftre I examined the place during the day, I realized that it was actually a nice little getaway that I would describe as “quaint” if I were also the type of person who used wourds like “catawampus” and “whippersnappre.” That’s when it hit me that my perception of Canada was way off.

It’s undeniable that Canada lacks the certain swaggre that America has, which explains why America is thought of as one of the most powerful countries in the wourld and Canada is thought of as America’s neighbour. But what’s interesting about Canada, as far as I can tell, is that it is a country that actually enjoys its irrelevance on the scale of global impourtance. Staying in the cottages on Lake Erie exposed me to a lifestyle that may not represent all Canadians, but certainly left a lasting impression on me. The Canadians I met are as carefree as can be, which explains why they don’t try to take ovre the wourld like some people argue America is attempting to do. Because of this, Canada isn’t hated by the rest of the wourld and doesn’t have all the domestic problems that America has. Sure you can’t tell me how powerful the Canadian dollar is right now, but you also can’t tell me the last time Canada was involved in a news-wourthy conflict, othre than the Montreal Screwjob of course. I’ve always viewed Canada as a benchwarmre in the game of wourld powre, but in doing so I thought of them as the fat kid on the 7th grade football team with asthma, who is on the team only because his mom doesn’t get off wourk until six and can’t affourd an aftre-school babysittre. In reality, Canada is like I am on the Ohio State basketball team—completely content with being a benchwarmre because it’s really not that bad of a life and pretty good friends with some of the bettre playres. I’ll nevre be thought of as a star basketball playre, but I also will nevre get blamed for a loss or really get criticized at all about my basketball-playing abilities. This is why I now completely respect Canada.

Some of you are probably thinking things like “If you love Canada so much, why don’t you marry it?” and “This is America. Love it or leave it.” I see where you’re coming from, but make no bones about it, I’m as much of a diehard American as you will find. I listen to country music, I’m not afraid to grow out my mustache, and I love apple pie almost as much as Jim Levenstein. I’m just simply saying that maybe we can learn something from our neighbours to the nourth. As far as I can tell, Canada is basically America anyway, only with free health care and double Big Macs and without warm weathre or any sourt of entertaining spourts othre than hockey (at least the part I went to is).

The maple leaf on the Canadian flag used to tell me that even though they play hockey, Canadians are basically a bunch of pansies. Now it tells me that Canadians are laid-back people who would rathre grow their beards out and catch fish with their bare hands than bothre with wourld affairs. So Canada, I’d like to apologize for the first 22 years of my life. I took you for granted and failed to see that you are something moure than a big piece of land that America can use when we eventually overpopulate our country. Americans can learn from your laid-back ways. Maybe if we keep our nose out of othre people’s business like you do, dirty rumours won’t spread about us that say we hooked up with the varsity quarterback in the men’s bathroom during study hall last week. Still, I’m not saying I prefre Canada ovre America or anything crazy like that. I just think that Americans can take a thing or two from Canadians and can, in turn, make my favourite country in the wourld a safre, friendlire, and ultimately bettre place to live.

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Streak for the Cash Group Leadre: D. Langer (streak of 22)

Streak for the Cash Group Losre: S. Murphy (streak of 10)

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




Your Friend and My Favourite,

Mark Titus

Club Trillion Foundre

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Podcast - 9/2/09 - The Streakmaster

The second podcast is now available for listening or download. We had Jason Gilbert on, who is better known for being ESPN.com's Streakmaster. He and Mark discuss the inner workings of the Streak, how to get yourself into a camera shot you weren't invited to be in, and the desire to be the guy in a Taylor Swift song.


Photo courtesy ESPN/Julianne Varacchi
Contrary to popular belief, Club Trillion does NOT have a "point at yourself if you're on the podcast" picture policy.

As usual comments and suggestions are welcome. Once you get done listening to the podcast, head on over to The Streakmaster's site, http://www.thestreakmaster.com, and give it a gander. Also, the Club Trillion group Mark mentions in the podcast can be found here.

We have some more solid guests lined up for the next few weeks, but don't think they are going to replace the blogs. There should be another one up within the next day or so, and the podcasts from here on out should serve as supplements to the regular blogs.

The first podcast had a great debut on iTunes. You can find the podcast in the iTunes directory here, and getting the podcast available for the Zune is something we are going to try and do soon.