Tuesday, May 24, 2011

My Rebuttal

It’s ridiculous that I even have to write this and defend myself, but the sad reality is that there are way too many people who take sports just a tad too seriously and are calling for my head, so I feel like this is the only way to get everyone to put down their pitchforks and torches.  It would be comical if it weren’t so sickening and pathetic.

Here’s what happened:

I’ve been planning for months to write a blog entry about my experience at the Indy 500 because it’s my favorite sporting event in the world and is something I look forward to every year.  After I wrote something about my mom on the day after Mother’s Day, I figured I’d just wait until after the race to post my next blog entry.  But then I realized that if I waited until after the race, there would be a three and a half week gap between each of my posts, which would have lead to complaints from the people who regularly read the blog.  See, that’s what we do here – I try to see how long I can go without writing something and then the people who regularly read the blog playfully give me crap for being lazy.  It’s kind of the ongoing theme of this blog, really.  And it’s made for a great relationship for the past two and a half years.

So as a way to keep my regular readers from getting on me for not writing something in a long time, I figured I’d throw them a bone and write a quick blog post before the race.  I sat down at my computer and racked my brain trying to think of what to write about, before it hit me that I had gotten a handful of emails and tweets from people asking me about the Tressel/OSU football stuff.  Since I had nothing better to write about and was basically just writing a filler post anyway (I explicitly said it was a filler post in the first sentence), I figured “ah, what the hell” and decided I’d just give my take on that issue. 

This notion that I wrote it so I could get attention or more hits on my blog couldn’t be further from the truth.  I have no advertising on the blog, I barely take the thing seriously (which is why the design of the site sucks and I haven’t ever considered changing it), and I infrequently post new entries.  Before yesterday, it had been over a year since the last time I even checked to see what kind of traffic the blog had been getting.  Hell, I’ve been writing about the significance of pooping in front of your girlfriend/wife, Spaghetti O’s, and my mom for the past month and a half.  Why would I write about stuff that has exactly no mass appeal if I cared even the slightest bit about blog hits?  And since I have no advertising, how could I possibly benefit from getting more blog hits anyway, especially when the increased traffic I did get came from maniacal Ohio State fans who would be perfectly fine if I ceased to exist (it’s not like these people are going to buy t-shirts or my book or anything)?  Plus, if I really was trying to start a sh*tstorm, I would have said more than just “the football players always seemed to have nice cars when I went to OSU” and instead would have made up much more scandalous stuff like I saw Terrelle Pryor being handed an envelope full of cash or something.

Truth be told, I don’t want more blog hits and I don’t really care if my blog gets more attention. I’m perfectly fine with my audience of a few thousand who, like me, don’t take things too seriously and enjoy a cheap laugh or two.  We were all doing just fine before the masses of crazed OSU fans from message boards and forums all over the internet flocked here and called for my head.

Now that we got that settled, a few of you rational people might still be wondering what there was to gain by writing it anyway.  Well, my only intention was to give my thoughts to the people who had asked me about it.  Believe it or not, there are people who read this thing and aren’t from Ohio, and a few of them wanted to hear about what’s going on in Columbus from a guy who has been relatively close to it for the past few years.  So I basically just said that while it might seem like I would know a lot about the situation, the truth was that I was just a bystander to everything that went on in the football program and only knew what had been written about in the press.  But having said all of that, any OSU student in the past five years could tell you that a lot of the football players drive nice cars (since most of the people who asked me about the scandal weren’t ever OSU students, I figured that this would be something they would like to know).  You’d have to be blind to not notice it.  I didn’t exactly say anything that tens of thousands of  people on that campus haven’t already noticed themselves.  And besides, it’s not like the NCAA was going to throw the case out until they read my blog.  Nothing I wrote will have any impact whatsoever on the impending investigation, so from that standpoint it’s ridiculous that this is being made a much bigger deal than it really is.

My intent is all a moot point anyway. So many of you are calling me out for throwing my alma mater under the bus, while I see it the exact opposite way – I’m holding my alma mater accountable.  No, scratch that. I’m holding my alma mater’s football team accountable (it might be hard to believe, but OSU has plenty more to offer than just a football team – like this for example).  Instead of brushing things under the rug and trying to justify and defend everything that the football team is being accused of, I’m of the opinion that acknowledging flaws is not only the right thing to do, it’s the healthy thing to do as well.  I know how important the football team is to the school and I know that to many people around the country, the football team is really the only thing they think about when someone says “Ohio State.”  Because of this, I want the football program to be an honorable one (like we thought it was), so people around the country associate Ohio State with integrity and class instead of whatever it is they associate OSU with now.  Pretending that something isn’t going on when all the evidence points to the contrary is incredibly irresponsible and is how we got into this whole mess in the first place (Tressel didn’t speak up when something was amiss).  Call me crazy, but I’d much rather lose every single game with integrity than win a slew of national championships by cheating.

So all of you “real” Buckeye fans who want to disown me as a Buckeye for pointing out an obvious observation after I was prompted to do so, by all means go ahead.  I’m hopeful that for every one of you irrational people there are two other Buckeye fans who feel the same way I do and will welcome me with open arms to Buckeye Nation.  It doesn’t make you any more of a fan than us because you blindly support your team without acknowledging the fact that there is a lot of shady stuff going on (and let’s make that perfectly clear – there is shady stuff going on. Just how much shady stuff still remains to be seen).  We care just as much about the Buckeyes as you do, which is why we acknowledge flaws and want our football team (as well as every other team and all other aspects of the school) to be held accountable to fix those flaws.

In conclusion, I hope nobody took this the wrong way.  In no way was this meant to be an apology for what I wrote yesterday.  I stand by everything I said, because frankly, nothing I said should ever have been made a big deal in the first place.  Some of you got your panties in a bunch because I didn’t have the facts, but I think you misinterpreted what I said. I do have facts.  It’s a fact that I’ve seen football players driving what every other student on campus would consider to be nice cars.  It’s a fact that when I was on a basketball scholarship for two years (which I’m eternally grateful for, by the way, and if you think for one second that I’m not, you can suck my oversized balls), I could not afford to buy the cars that the football players had.  Those are the facts.  The facts I don’t have are how the football players got the cars.  I, like all Ohio State fans, hope that they got them by following NCAA rules.  Sadly, though, if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and looks like a duck, it must mean that these guys are either getting serious discounts on their cars or they’re getting them for free.  Stop being so naïve.

One last point: The bit I wrote about how I would never let protecting the basketball team get in the way of a good story wasn’t meant to be taken seriously (neither is about 95% of what I write).  While I do want the basketball program to be held accountable and I do think they should be called out when they screw up, the fact of the matter is that while I played at OSU, I never once saw anything that seemed to be shady from any of the players or coaches.  The only reason I wrote that yesterday is because I’ve been taunting the basketball coaching staff for over a year now about how I could trash the program in my book if I wanted.  I would never do such a thing, but it’s fun to tease them about it and make them sweat over the possibility of me saying unflattering things about their program.  For the first time in five years, I have some sort of power in the basketball program, which is why I like playfully using it whenever I can.  It’s basically just my way of pranking the coaching staff, so it really shouldn’t be interpreted as anything other than that.

(I know I probably just pissed off a lot of you who had been defending me, since writing this makes me look like a bitter douche who is stooping to the irrational people’s level.  And for that I’m sorry.  I probably should have just let it blow over instead of looking like a whiny bitch, but after about the 1,000th time of being personally attacked and accused of stuff that is the exact opposite of the truth, I had to speak up.  I swear that this is the last time I’ll acknowledge this ordeal at all, but I had to get all of this off my chest before I moved on.  So now that I’m done, I swear I’m done for good.  I’ve got more important things to worry about now.  The Indy 500 is only five days away.)

Proud To Be An American But Even Prouder To Be A Buckeye,

Mark Titus

Club Trillion Founder

Monday, May 23, 2011

Less Than A Week Away

I gotta be perfectly honest with you and admit up front that this blog post is basically just a filler one, primarily because it’s late May, which is another way of saying that the Indy 500 is right around the corner and I’m so excited for it that just about every body part I have is fully erect (including – but not limited to – my penis) and I can’t even think straight.  Every year at about this time, I mentally zone out and focus solely on the race and everything that comes with it.  What will I wear this year? What hairstyle am I going to go with? What is going to be my strategy to get a white trash chick to flash her boobs to my group of friends? When she inevitably does flash, will I even want to look? And when I inevitably do look, how will I explain to my fiancée that I was completely justified because getting a trashy chick to show her nips is an Indy 500 tradition as old as the race itself? Ah yes, it’s late May in the Midwest alright.  And I couldn’t be more excited about it.

(By the way, the best example of me zoning out in May came almost exactly one year ago, when I flew out to LA and met Jimmy Kimmel, Bill Simmons, and Adam Carolla.  While we were all at dinner, Simmons asked me what my favorite network comedy was for whatever reason and I froze and told him How I Met Your Mother because all my favorite comedies are on cable and it was the only one that I watch and could think of on the spot, which was an answer that prompted Carolla to playfully make fun of my terrible taste in TV for the rest of the night.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think How I Met Your Mother is an awful show necessarily, but it certainly isn’t even in my top five favorite network comedies, so for me to claim that it was #1 and then fail to even provide a #2 was a monumental brain fart for me and sent a message to everyone at the table that I never intended to be sent. There aren’t many moments in my life that I wish I could do over, but my answer at that dinner was certainly something I will always regret.

Also, while I have you, the second best example of me mentally checking out in May is the fact that I just inexcusably told an irrelevant story with the sole purpose of name dropping, which is something that will surely lead to many of you calling me out for being a doucher.  But I’m too distracted to care, so I’m just going to leave it. Besides, Zach Efron and Vanessa Hudgens were also at the same restaurant on that night, but you don’t see me dropping their names do you? Exactly.)

Since I’m focusing all my energy towards the race at this point and I’m therefore too lazy to think of anything to write about, I figured I’d just tackle an issue that I’ve gotten a few emails and tweets about.  A handful of you have been asking about my take on the whole Jim Tressel/OSU football saga, either because you value my opinion or, more likely, because you want to know if I have any inside information.  While I know this story seems to be yesterday’s news, it’s far from being settled so I figured I’d address it real quick.  As always, if you don’t like it, you can firmly press your tongue to my buttcrack.

First of all, I don’t have any “inside information”, mostly because I didn’t play football and therefore have no idea how their program is run.  I’ve never been to any of their practices, I never once hung out with any of the players, I went to completely different tattoo parlors and car dealerships when I was at OSU than they did, and the envelopes full of cash I received always came from a different booster than their cash came from (I had a class with Ross Homan one quarter, and we worked on group projects together and usually sat by each other, but I wouldn’t exactly say we “hung out” really).  Also, I’ve only ever talked to Jim Tressel twice in my life, with the first of these occasions being when he came to one of our practices during my sophomore year, and before he started the speech he had prepared for our team, he asked, “Where is #34? He can really shoot.” (I replied, “That’s nothing. You should see me punt a football. Most scouts had me as the 7th ranked punter in all of Brownsburg High during my senior year.”  He had no response to this, which leads me to believe that hearing about my punting prowess left him speechless.)  The second time I talked to him was during the spring football game a couple years later, when he shook hands with all the basketball players who were standing on the sideline for the game and said to me, “You must be the benchwarming blogger.”  So yeah, I don’t really have much perspective considering I didn’t really know any of the players and I’ve only talked to the head coach for a grand total of 30 seconds (strangely enough, in those 30 seconds he managed to pinpoint my entire identity on the basketball team – “the benchwarming blogger who can shoot well”).

Having said all of that, I frequently crossed paths with a bunch of the football guys for a variety of reasons (stayed in the same dorm as some of them during my freshman year, went to same place for our training table meals, had a bunch of mandatory athlete meetings with them, some of them hung out with my teammates, etc.). And in crossing paths with them so frequently, I can offer this analysis: While I don’t really know anything about the whole tattoo ordeal, I’m almost certain that there was something shady going on with the car dealer.  In fact, as the news of the free tattoos and sold merchandise or whatever came out, I kept telling my family how funny it was that they were getting busted for tattoos and gold pants when I was pretty sure they had been getting serious discounts on cars for years. Again, I have no “inside information” and really only know what the general public knows.  But it doesn’t exactly take top notch detective skills to figure this one out.  Anyone who spent any time on Ohio State’s campus while I was there could tell you that there were an unusually high volume of brand new Dodge Chargers driving around on campus, and just about all of them had tinted windows and rims on the outside with Ohio State football players behind the wheel on the inside. 

Now, I understand that there’s a chance these guys all paid the same price for their cars that normal citizens like you and I would pay, and I honestly hope that they did.  But my intuition has told me for years that something is off.  I’m not sure how much the monthly scholarship checks the football team got were for, but when I was on my basketball scholarship for my first two years at Ohio State, I was only given $1,100 a month.  That might sound like a lot of money at first thought, but you have to realize that these checks had to cover the monthly cost of rent, utilities, food, gas, entertainment, tattoos, trips to the strip club, bottles off the top shelf, weed, hookers, blow, and – on top of all of that – child support.  I wouldn’t necessarily say I struggled to pay all my monthly bills, but as you can imagine, I sure as hell never had enough of a cushion to afford a $400 monthly car payment either.

The fact of the matter is that I’m sure there are ways for football players to buy new cars and still obey NCAA rules.  From what I can remember, there are all sorts of other forms of financial aid other than just the scholarship checks that the players could be eligible for, so there’s a good chance they got more than the $1,100 a month that I got.  But even so, I seriously doubt that the extra aid was enough for them to take on a hefty car payment on top of all their other expenses.  Especially when you consider that most of these guys lived lavish lifestyles when compared to your average college student.  Sure they theoretically could have probably afforded a new car if they would have lived modestly in an average sized apartment with a few roommates, didn’t go out much, and didn’t spend a lot of money on things like phones, TVs, iPods, etc.  But does anyone seriously believe that these guys lived modestly?  If you were to play a word association game and were given the phrase “big time college athlete”, the word “modest” wouldn’t even be on the list of the first 100,000 words that come to mind.

In the end, I’m too lazy to formulate a legitimate argument as to why I think guys on the football team got discounted and/or free cars.  That would involve way too much research on how the system works, way too much investigating on what actually transpired in the last few years, and – most importantly – way too much effort on my part.  And I really don’t care that much. So please don’t take this the wrong way.  I’m not trying to say that I know certain things and I’m certainly not trying to play the role of insider informant. The truth is that I have no facts, and God knows that if I’m entirely wrong it would be far from the first time (hell, I hope I am wrong).  I’m just saying that I was always under the impression that the scholarships the football guys got were close to (if not exactly) the same as the basketball guys, yet in my four years of playing basketball at Ohio State, my 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee was consistently one of nicest cars on the team because none of us could afford anything better. Meanwhile, it seemed like everyone on the football team had either a new Charger or a new Chrysler 300.  From this, I am deducing that either the football guys were paid a considerably larger stipend than we were (in all honesty, that could be the case – I really don’t know), were excellent at managing their money, came from financially well off families, or received discounted and/or free cars.   I really can’t see how any of them could’ve had the cars they did without at least one of those four things applying.

So to recap, I have no facts, I don’t know what I’m talking about, and in no way should I be taken seriously.  All I’m saying is that I won’t be surprised in the slightest if the NCAA digs up some serious dirt on the Ohio State football team (especially the stuff surrounding the discounted and/or free cars) because it’s something I’ve been scratching my head over for years.  So if you’re an OSU football fan, I’d suggest not getting your hopes up.  There’s a solid chance that this won’t end well.

As for the allegations that Will Buford was included in the same group of guys who got free/discounted tattoos and cars, and the news that Jon Diebler’s parents bought a car from the same guy who sold cars to all the football players, well, I honestly don’t know what to say.  As hard as it may be to believe, I never talk to any of those guys about any stuff like that, mostly because I’m of the opinion that ignorance is bliss (I’ve watched way too many mob movies where the guy who knows too much information gets bin Laden’d).  What I can tell you is that when I was teammates with him, Will only had a couple of tattoos and didn’t even own a car, so if anything did go down, it had to have happened after I left.  In fact, I had to give Will rides to and from practice all the time, so I’ll be pissed if I find out that all that time he not only had a car, but his car was much better than mine and he got it for free.  I know it might seem like I’m withholding information to protect the basketball program, but you’re just going to have to trust me when I say that I really don’t know anything about those guys (it will be easier to trust me on this when my book comes out next year and you realize that I’m of the opinion that protecting the basketball program should never get in the way of a good story).

So that’s my take on the whole issue.  I’m essentially in the same boat as all of you in that I don’t exactly have inside information or anything and I’m just anxiously waiting to see how everything unfolds.  I’ll be shocked if the NCAA doesn’t find anything when they look into this car scandal, but again I feel like I need to stress that I’m only basing this viewpoint off of information that every OSU student from 2006-2010 should have (after all, the football players weren’t exactly discreet with their cars).  In other words, to summarize this entire blog post, I don’t really know what happened and I don’t really have any idea what’s going to happen from here.  Glad I could help.

I apologize for this blog post to all the non-OSU people who I’m sure are sick of hearing about Tressel and/or just Ohio State in general.  But I’m not that sorry because I told you in the first sentence that this was just a filler post, so it’s your fault for reading the whole thing.  Nonetheless, to make it up to you, I plan on doing a retroactive running diary of my experience at the Indy 500 this upcoming weekend for my next blog post, which has the potential to be my favorite piece of writing ever.  Get excited.

By the way, I feel like I should use this last paragraph to try to convince you to go to the Indy 500 if you live within driving distance of the track.  It is not only my single favorite sporting event in the world, but it’s my single favorite anything in the world, and travel expenses aside, it’s actually pretty cheap (you can get an infield ticket for $20 and bring your own cooler full of food and drinks into the track).  So if you live in the Midwest and have never been to the race, do yourself a favor and make the trip.  If you do end up making it over to Indy, find me in the turn 3 infield and I’ll spot you a beer or two and try to get a trashy chick to show her goods so you can get the complete Indy 500 experience.  It’s the least I could do.

Proud To Be An American But Even Prouder To Be A Buckeye,

Mark Titus

Club Trillion Founder

Monday, May 9, 2011

My Mom Could Beat Up Your Mom

The first time I ever played my mom in a 1-on-1 game of basketball was when I was 12-years-old. Ever since the day I started walking, she and I would shoot around in our driveway all the time, but I never had the courage to play her 1-on-1 because she was much taller than me (she’s 5’9”) and I was almost certain she would beat me, which I thought would’ve been the single most embarrassing thing to ever happen in my life. Once I hit a growth spurt and stood 6 feet tall as a 12-year-old, though, I had complete confidence that I could destroy her. After all, she was a woman, and the last time I checked, our driveway wasn’t in the kitchen, so I figured she’d be completely out of her element. Plus, I had seen her shoot a basketball for years and her jumpshot consisted of her pushing the ball with two hands from behind her head. Sure she could make them when we were just casually shooting around, but there was no way that that garbage was going in with defense on her. And so, with my terrible rationale giving me all sorts of false confidence, I decided to challenge her to a game of 1-on-1. This still ranks as one of the most regretful decisions of my life.

Perhaps the most important thing I failed to consider when I dared my mom to play me 1-0n-1 was that she was good as sh*t. Like really, really good. Not only that, but she was extremely physical and her style of play was perfectly suited for a driveway pick-up game. I tried driving to the basket on my first possession, but ultimately failed miserably because my mom slid over after I took my first dribble, stuck her chest out, and didn’t budge an inch as I bounced off of her and crumpled to the ground like those skeleton-looking turtles from Bowser’s castle in Super Mario World. At that moment I realized that I was in over my head, but there was no way that she was going to let me quit now, so I had to just suck it up and figure out a different way to beat her. I tried resorting to jumpshots, but when I jumped to shoot the ball on my second possession, she whipped her ass around to block me out and gave me the biggest charley horse I had ever gotten in my life. So to recap, my first two offensive possessions both resulted in zero points and loads of physical pain. This game wasn’t exactly off to a blazing start for me.

Meanwhile, when she was offense, she just backed me down into the post and either threw an elbow to my face as she went up for the layup or she shot a fade away jumper as she turned to the baseline. Remember when I said that I didn’t think she’d be able to make her ugly jumpshot against defense? Well, as it turned out, her ugly shot was actually unblockable because she shot it from so far behind her head (when she faded away it was even harder to guard). And she was lethal with it. Truth be told, her jumper was actually better against defense than it was when she was open. I had no way of guarding it and, making matters worse, I had no answer for it because she was shutting me down on defense. Back and forth this pattern of her physically abusing me on defense and raining jumpshots over my head on offense continued, and when it was all said and done, she had both literally and figuratively beat the snot out of me. I was so battered and bruised that if my dad would’ve come outside and started whipping me with his leather belt, it probably would’ve felt like a massage at that point. In that moment, as I laid on the ground licking my wounds, I remember thinking to myself “Just who in the hell is this lady I call ‘mom’?”

And yes, I was so cool when I was 12 that I casually used the word “hell.”

Over the course of the next few weeks, I researched my mom (which basically just consisted of asking my dad about her and how she was capable of making me look foolish on the basketball court) and discovered that there shouldn’t have been any shame in losing to her (but there still was, because how many guys lose to their mom in basketball?). That’s because I learned that she grew up two hours north of Indianapolis in a town called Rochester, and even though her small town basically consisted of a couple of stop lights and one kickass old-fashioned soda shop, she led her high school basketball team to back-to-back undefeated regular seasons and back-to-back trips to the Final Four of the Indiana state tournament (this was back when all the schools played in one tournament, so she was playing schools much bigger than hers). If that’s not impressive enough, consider this: she was also a cheerleader for the boys’ basketball team (and played softball and ran track too) and would sometimes cheer for them in the afternoon and play in her games at night, or vice versa. In fact, in the state tournament one year, she played one of her games in the morning, took a bus to where the boys were playing and cheered that game in the afternoon, then took the bus back to where her second game was being played and went out and led her team to the regional championship that night. This will be the one and only time I use this word to describe a women’s basketball player, but on that particular day my mom was a complete badass (although, let’s be honest – she’s a badass every day).

Following an incredible high school career, my mom was named to the 1977 Indiana All-Star team and was awarded a basketball scholarship to Purdue, where she was twice named team MVP and graduated as both the career scoring leader and the best player in the program’s history. After learning all of this, everything suddenly made so much more sense to me. Throughout my childhood, I often wondered why all my friends’ moms made elaborate meals for dinner and constantly kept their houses clean while my mom would play catch or shoot around with me in the driveway. But now I knew why – my mom was the epitome of a tomboy and while she couldn’t make a casserole to save her life, she had the nastiest fade away I’ve ever seen. And I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

The reason I bring all this up is not only because Mother’s Day was yesterday, but also because last weekend my mom joined the likes of Larry Bird, Oscar Robertson, and John Wooden as she was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, and I couldn’t be happier about it. Part of my happiness comes from the fact that I’m so proud of her, but a majority of it is derived from the fact that I can now say I lost a game of 1-on-1 to a Hall of Famer instead of saying I lost to my mom. I know most of you would rather have the Navy SEALs break into your house and put a bullet through your eye (USA! USA! USA!) than have to watch women’s basketball, and the truth is that I’m right there with you. But my mom getting inducted into the Hall of Fame is so much more meaningful than just a nice award to commemorate her career as a women’s basketball player. To a lesser extent, it also kind of validates how she raised me. I’m a picky eater because my mom cared more about taking me to Little League practice and taking me to school on the basketball court than she cared about learning how to make food other than grilled meats with mashed potatoes. Conversely, she’s a big reason why I got into basketball and why I became relatively successful at it, which doesn’t sound like much until I think about how many opportunities and experiences the game of basketball has brought to my life. Simply put, I wouldn’t be who I am today if my mom wasn’t as good as she was at basketball, so my hope is that getting inducted into the Hall of Fame can help her understand that even though she doesn’t think she’s a “traditional” mom, I’m proud of her and I wouldn’t have wanted her to raise me any other way. She was a damn good basketball player and she’s a damn good mom. The two don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

After our initial game ended with me physically and emotionally in tatters, I never again asked my mom to play me 1-on-1. We did end up playing a few rematches throughout the years, but that was only because she approached me and I reluctantly agreed (if memory serves, she only ever beat me one more time). Anyway, as I look back on how good my mom was at basketball and how mediocre I ended up being, I can’t help but think that I too would’ve been a Hall of Famer if not for the fact that I made the terrible decision of inheriting just as many genes from my dad as I inherited from my mom. Nonetheless, I’ve got my fingers crossed that someday I will also get immortalized and get my name in the Hall of Fame alongside my mom (which will probably only happen if I get filthy rich and donate a bunch of money to the place or if my NBA career survives the rocky start it’s currently off to and eventually pans out). After her ceremony was over last Saturday, I brought up the possibility of this happening. I jokingly said, “Mom, how cool would it be if I made the Hall of Fame too? I bet we’d be the first mother-son duo.”

She responded: “Well, they put writers in there, so if you get into sports writing, I think you definitely would have a good shot at making it.”

No, she’s not a typical mom. But that’s why I love her so much.

Proud To Be An American But Even Prouder To Be Laura Titus’ Son,

Mark Titus

Club Trillion Founder

Monday, May 2, 2011

We’ll Put A Boot In Your Ass, It’s The American Way

It’s no secret that I’m a patriotic person who gets so aroused at the thought of freedom that I may or may not have tried to look up the Statue of Liberty’s robe to see her labia of liberty when I visited New York City for the first time (more like Snatch-ue of Liberty, am I right?).  In fact, I’m so patriotic that “I love America” was one of only three things I included in the online dating profile I made a few years ago that lead to exactly 239 dates (if you must know, the other two things were “I am terrified of every kind of mustard” and “My penis is somewhere in between 4 and 17 inches long”).  I’m well aware that my patriotism could sometimes be interpreted as if I’m playing some sort of character and only pretend to care about America to be funny or something, but the truth is that I really do have a strong passion for my country.  While foreigners (and even a majority of Americans) scoff at how ridiculous it is that the cast of Jersey Shore are all millionaires, that singular fact epitomizes why I love the US of A so much (even though I also agree that it’s ridiculous that they’re rich) – it’s the only country in the world where literally anyone and everyone has a chance to make a name for themselves, even alcoholic douchers from New Jersey (like you, Barrale).  Simply put, this is the land of opportunity, where anyone can be anything they want to be.  Sure it helps to be born into a wealthy family or to be given freak athletic genes if you want to make it to the big leagues, but at the end of the day, every American is born with a blank slate and a world of opportunity ahead of them.  It’s on us to make the most of these chances.

(One more thing and I’m done with this part of my rant: I was watching coverage of the royal wedding last week – but only because [insert acceptable excuse here]!!! – and I saw something about how Kate Middleton’s mom was chastised by the British media a few years ago for chewing gum in the Queen’s presence.  Now, I respect British traditions and actually do find the history of the royal family to be fascinating stuff, but I think I speak for all Americans when I say that I’m thankful I live in a country where I can not only chew gum in front of the president, but I can also tell him to lick my chode without any real repercussions if my heart desires.  I know Kate Middleton’s mom didn’t actually break any laws and wasn’t arrested or anything, but still.  The fact that she got chastised in the media was bad enough.  By comparison, disrespecting and disagreeing with the president is actually some Americans’ favorite pastime, not to mention a great way to get your own show on Fox News. So yeah, just another reason why America rules.)

With all of that being said, because I’ve made it clear in the past how patriotic I am, I seem to be the guy that the Trillion Man March turns to whenever something happens that could warrant a USA chant.  No matter the time of year, I get all sorts of emails, tweets, Facebook messages/posts, etc. from the TMM whenever you all see a patriotic YouTube video, a news story that triggers national pride, or a badass picture of Teddy Roosevelt shooting bigfoot while smoking a cigar.  For many of you, I’m apparently your patriotic correspondent who you turn to when America is kicking ass and taking names.  So when the news broke that Osama bin Laden had been killed in Pakistan, I knew I’d get bombarded by the TMM, which was ultimately exactly what happened.  And so, because of this reaction, I feel obligated to address bin Laden’s death, since I’m sure it would be a huge letdown for some of you if I ignored it altogether and didn’t at least offer my thoughts.  It still baffles me why anyone would care about my opinion on anything that could even remotely be considered a serious topic, but nonetheless some of you apparently do, so here’s how I feel about it.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, a librarian from my school came into the classroom I was in and whispered something to my 8th grade US history teacher that left him visibly shaken.  Once the librarian left the room, my teacher somberly relayed the news to us: someone had flown a plane into the World Trade Center.  Being an ignorant 14-year-old, I had no idea what the World Trade Center was and therefore thought something along the lines of, “It’s sad and all, but plane crashes happen all the time.  Why did our librarian interrupt class to tell us about a random plane crash?”  This was the prevalent thought in our classroom, as pretty much nobody other than our teacher had the slightest clue what the World Trade Center was.  As it turned out, though, it didn’t really matter that I didn’t know what the WTC was, because even when I did ultimately learn that planes crashed into the tallest buildings in NYC, I still didn’t give much thought to it all due to the fact that I wasn’t mature enough comprehend the magnitude of death in general, let alone the deaths of thousands of people at once (regretfully, I remember being more concerned about whether or not we would play our football game the next day than anything else).  But now, almost ten years later, I can comprehend death, which is why the death of Osama bin Laden is such a big deal to me.  I can now comprehend the magnitude of all the deaths he caused, and in turn can comprehend the magnitude of his own death.

The fact of the matter is that because 9/11 happened when I was just 14-years-old, Osama bin Laden has been the most wanted man in the world for almost half of my life.  That is truly incredible for me to think about.  What’s even crazier to think about is that there are very few things I remember before 9/11, which means that it’s difficult for me to remember a world in which bin Laden wasn’t the most dangerous man on the planet and didn’t have his sights set on bringing total destruction to the country I live in.  So nevermind the fact that he was supposedly just a figurehead at this point and didn’t have all that much power with Al Qaeda.  Nevermind the fact that killing him doesn’t mean the war against terrorism is over.  And nevermind the fact that the terrorists will most likely try to retaliate.  At the end of the day, the most evil person to walk the face of the earth in my lifetime – a man singlehandedly responsible for thousands of innocent civilian lives and public enemy #1 for the American people – is dead. That in and of itself is a very big deal and is reason to celebrate.

There are a lot of self-righteous people who are trying to say it’s a disgrace that people would cheer the death of another human being, no matter how evil he may have been.  And there are also people who think bin Laden deserved a fair trial and killing him makes us just as inhumane as the terrorists are.  God bless these people. I think it’s awesome that there are people in this world who are compassionate and have such a strong moral fiber that they’re willing to treat Osama with the same respect as they would a loved one.  But I’m not one of these people.  The way I see it, bin Laden has repeatedly made it clear that he’s not actually a human but is instead a monster.  And the last time I checked, the protocol when dealing with monsters/zombies isn’t to slap some handcuffs on them, waste time and money on a trial that would obviously result in capital punishment, and then just shrug our shoulders and ho-hum as someone who has been terrorizing us for years dies.  No, the protocol is to put a bullet between his eyes, throw his ass on the express train to Hell, and rejoice that the world is rid of one less demon.

Let me lastly say that I’m not naïve in thinking that America is suddenly fixed now.  We are far from perfect and still have a bunch of problems that need to be addressed.  But this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t celebrate a significantly historic victory.  The bottom line is that I would make absolutely no difference in the war on terror if instead of celebrating in the streets and partying at Mirror Lake, I decided to stay focused and try to figure out how to fix America.  The beauty of our country is that I can sit on my lazy ass and play FIFA all day while the big shots in Washington figure out how to fix our problems (for the record, I couldn’t care less about politics. Everyone I know who is interested in politics basically just bitches all day about how the other party is wrong. I’m not interested in bitching so I just stay out of it altogether).  Whether or not I riot in the streets in celebration has literally zero effect on the American mission to end terrorism. 

Sorry for the rant and sorry for being serious with all of this, but I honestly do view this as a historic time in America and felt compelled to quickly write about it, not only because it’s a significant time in our country’s history but also because some of the holier-than-thou people who are criticizing the majority of Americans for being excited kinda piss me off.  We aren’t necessarily excited that a human being died – we’re excited that no matter what else happens with this war on terror, the man who killed thousands of our innocent civilians and caused one of the most somber times in American history will never again hurt a single one of us.  Screw every other detail about the situation.  That alone is enough for me to be absolutely ecstatic.  Sorry I’m not sorry.

God bless our troops and God bless the United States of America.

Proud To Be A Buckeye But Even Prouder To Be An American,

Mark Titus

Club Trillion Founder